"Look how long it's taken me to be six years old! Practically forever!"AKA "perpetual childhood." An old (and in live action, discredited) trope which was implicit in many early sitcoms that focused on the standard American Nuclear Family of father, mother and 2.4 children — the situation necessary for the comedy to exist was so rigidly defined that the children could not be allowed to grow up, lest the program dynamic change unrecognizably. After the tragedy of Anissa Jones of Family Affair who was straightjacketed by this trope to very unhealthy effect, most live action sitcoms now just accept that their kid characters will grow up and take advantage of the story opportunities with teenage and young adult characters should the series survive long enough. This later became the staple of animated series, in which it is possible to keep a character the same age year after year without major psychological harm to the actor (who, on a cartoon, is usually an adult anyway). Since animation doesn't require actual actors, it's much easier to keep it up in works where the creator can control the physical aspects of the characters. Perhaps the uber-example of this being the Simpson kids in The Simpsons who have been intentionally kept the same age (10-ish in the case of Bart) for more than a quarter-century of television. Contrast with Plot-Relevant Age-Up, Coming-of-Age Story, Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, She Is All Grown Up. Compare with Comic-Book Time, which applies the same concept to an entire ''verse. This trope is also quite frequently called a floating timeline. See also Contractual Purity, where the actor did grow up, and moved on to adult roles and adult off-screen behavior, but their fans (or fans' parents) still expect them to be kids. Not to be confused with Really 700 Years Old or Not Growing Up Sucks, which is about characters who are somehow unable to age when the rest of the cast does for in-story reasons. Mostly. Part of Status Quo Is God.
— Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The characters from Ah! My Goddess have been college age for nearly 23 years now. Their surroundings keep getting adjusted to match the times. Even though Skuld has remained a kid for that whole time (except that one time), she doesn't count.
- In Animal Yokocho, the main character, Ami, is five years old when she has a birthday... turning five years old. The other characters are a bit baffled by this, but it is, after all, a Gag Series.
- The original Astro Boy had this in spades. Though the title character is a robot and is thus justified in not growing up over the course of several decades, his human classmates have no such excuse. What makes this especially odd, is that Astro's "little sister" Uran, also a robot, actually did grow up! She went from being a short, chubby preschooler in her first appearance, to being able to impersonate Astro with a simple costume change, to the point where she looked more grown up than her "big brother", as a slender young woman in the later stories, complete with superfluous (though modest) artificial breasts(!). Tezuka also experimented with drawing Astro looking more like the teenage adventure heroes that were popular at the time, but apparently his readers didn't go for it. They didn't complain about Uran nearly as much, though. Then there's the Astro's Been Stolen story, where an attempt is made to give Astro an adult body, but it turns out to be a piece of junk that only has the same power level as his original despite being much bigger. The story ends with him musing that Growing Up Sucks and if you can avoid it you probably should.
- Daily Lives of High School Boys flat-out Breaks The Fourth Wall to lampshade this concept. During a conversation about what the kids plan to do when they graduate, Hidenori states that it's irrelevant since they'll be stuck in their second year of high school forever. The Series Finale seemingly averts this at first by showing the kids graduating after a Time Skip...but then it turns out to just be a dream.
- Dero Dero has a chapter that lampshades this.
- A plot necessity in Detective Conan. Being a teenager trapped in an elementary school body, if time progressed linearly, he would have regained his age the long way over the 20+ years the series has run.
- All the main cast of Doraemon (despite some episodes show them grow-up in the future).
- The common consensus is that the Cyborgs in Gunslinger Girl are stunted in terms of physical, and likely mental, development. Years pass and they don't seem to age.
- The characters in Kochikame never age when the present date moves along with real life and the manga being a Long Runner status of over 30 years. Many of Kankichi Ryotsu's flashbacks take place 30 years in the past depicting 1950s Tokyo. One exception is Daijiro Ohara's grandson who is the only character appear to age who started as a toddler now around 10 years old.
- Minami-ke is prime example. It's not really noticeable in the manga, but for those following the anime this is especially glaring. For example, at least three New Year's celebrations have been shown... and yet no one has advanced a single year in each of their respective grades.
- Mitsudomoe will always be in the sixth grade, no matter how long it runs. Which is why so many Christmases have passed.
- Ouran High School Host Club lampshades this; the manga's narration politely asks the reader to ignore the fact that, despite various seasonal changes, no one has gone up a grade. This practice ends in chapter 72, in which Honey and Mori actually do graduate (as do Nekozawa and Kasanoda), though they promise to stop by every now and then. It comes as quite a shock to Haruhi, and signals a turn towards some slightly more serious and dramatic storytelling for the remainder of the manga.
- Ash seems to have fallen foul of this, having been declared as still being 10 years old at the start of Best Wishes! (Black and White, Season 14 outside Japan). This was said in the original Japanese as well.
- Former storyboard artist Masamitsu Hidaka explicitly said in this interview that Ash and his friends remain their respective ages for as long as the show is on, however many years that may be!
- To make things more confusing, Ash (in the dub only) noted the one-year anniversary of him and Pikachu meeting. And even more confusing in both the English and Japanese versions, where Ash's voice has deepened a lot in later seasons. It has happened in many other versions as well, which cast kids to play Ash's role back in 1998/99, but said kids have since aged and remained doing his voice.
- The dub also makes direct reference to a year's time passing between Ash's first two visits to Viridian City. However, anything added in the dub that is not mentioned in the Japanese version is not considered canon.
- In Ash's talk with Drew (in the dub at least), one of his lines was something like "- all the friends I met throughout the years".
- Meowth pointed this out in one episode, telling Dawn that Team Rocket had been chasing after Pikachu since Dawn has been alive, which puts that at over 10 years (how long the show had been running at that point). This could be viewed however as Breaking the Fourth Wall and not indicate the age of any characters.
- Apparently time passes in the Japanese version too, as in the Kalos saga Jessie mentions she recently had a birthday (however her Gourgeist was the only one who remembered). It's unknown if Ash will ever hit eleven or if only Jessie aged.
- Pretty Cure initially averted this — the first season ended with several recurring characters graduating from middle school, and the second shows Nagisa and Honoka dealing with the new stresses from becoming upperclassmen. Then the series entered Comic-Book Time, and when Nagisa and Honoka returned for the Crisis Crossover after being offscreen for three years, they were still the same age.
- Even though there have been at least two New Year's Eve-based stories, a slew of Christmases, and too many summer vacations to count, Ranma ˝ is perpetually fixed in Ranma and Akane's first year of high school (10th grade). Made even more conspicuous since Ranma arrived in the middle of the school year, and both fashion and technology change to reflect the real world (the manga began in 1986, and ended ten years later). There was not one single birthday throughout the entire run, and Kuno, who introduced himself as "Age: 17" in volume 1, would still claim "Seventeen years of age, the epitome of manhood" as late as volume 33, published in 1994.
- The anime was especially bad about this. There's been at least one time where it's mentioned that Ranma has been living with the Tendous for at least a year or two — yet he's still sixteen.
- Urusei Yatsura also. Lum, Ataru, Shinobu, Mendou and the rest were 17 years old and on the cusp of high-school graduation for years on end... And how many summer vacations and Christmases did they have? Although Ataru did have one birthday during the run of both manga and TV aseries (the setup for a plot where he feared Lum had forgotten) which is one more than the Ranma cast got.
- Spirited Away:
- A bit of a supernatural occurrence happens, where it's implied that Yubaba's overly coddling of her son Boh made him stay physically and mentally a baby.
- Inverted with Chihiro who was forced to grow up in several ways throughout the movie. She loses her parents, forced into a job via contract, nearly loses her name, becomes independent and falls in love.
- Deconstructed in The Twelve Kingdoms. When kings are chosen to rule their nation they are granted immortality, along with their families. Princess Shoukei was 13 when her father became king, so she is locked at that age. However, her parents keep her sheltered and spoiled and do not allow her to grow up both physically and in maturity, so when her tyrannical father is overthrown decades later, she still looks and acts like a Royal Brat despite being chronologically in her forties. Learning to grow up and get past her stunted maturity is the major part of her Character Development.
- None of the kids grow up in the gag manga Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku. The kids are always in second grade despite various seasonal changes in each volume. It takes 31 volumes until the Ganso! sequel series premiere promoting the kids to third grade. One exception is Yuta, Kotetsu's younger brother. In the early chapters, he was a diapered infant, now he's at kindergarten age.
- In the Yuru-Yuri manga, the characters actually break the fourth wall to discuss a few of the long term implications of this once they find out that their series is one of these. However, the mangaka ended the chapter by stating that they might move up a grade some day. Episode 10 of the anime's second season suggested that it's the result of being stuck in a sort of time-loop.
- Yo-kai Watch has done several episodes for the same holiday however Nate is perpetually a fifth grader.
- Red from Pocket Monsters hasn't aged much in twenty years. The manga is even older than the Pokémon anime but he still seems like a kid.
- Sgt. Frog: Even though every season of the anime features holiday and birthday specials and there are direct references to previous years, the human characters still keep their original ages and are still in the same school years. The same happens with Tamama, who still keeps a tadpole's tail and white face, even though Taruru, a Keronian younger than him, matured in the 2nd season.
- Lampshaded by the manga, when Fuyuki said that he was "just 12(?) years old" in a later volume.
- Irregularly contradicted by the anime itself, which is also the biggest offender due to the number of holiday and anniversary episodes. Paul, in Episode 92, mentions that Momoka's birth was commemorated 13 years ago, and Natsumi was said to be 14 in the second movie, which means that the entire cast aged at least one year. There are also various references to the Keroro platoon spending years on Earth and vague comments about the human characters getting older. However, official guidebooks still keep everyone's starting ages and school years as the only official ones.
- The newest databook for the manga (as of volume 23) actually said that the human characters had aged one year since the start of the series, breaking away from the manga's previous references to the lack of aging of the human cast.
- Used and lampshaded in Monica's Gang. The comic has been running for over 30 years, but the main cast is always 6. Every year, however, there's a special comic featuring a character's 7th birthday — which then snaps back and they're 6 again. In a recent example, someone asks Jimmy Five how old he's turning. "Seven," he replies, "just like evewy other year." Further lampshaded in their Teen Alternate Universe, via the Shout Outs to the main continuity. Possibly prone to even more of this now that the latest storyline focuses on this universe's Marina's Dangerous Fifteenth Birthday (which is the Brazilian equivalent to 16 in America).
- In the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue's son Franklin was born in 1968. Aside from an incident of using his powers to temporarily age himself to adulthood, and the usual range of alternate reality versions, he has remained a child for more than four decades of real world time. The fact that he was injudiciously given a Story-Breaker Power contributes heavily to the problem of ever letting him grow up. It is very glaring though, because characters that were born long after him are now either teenagers or actual adults.
- Marvel's Kitty Pryde eventually escaped this fate, mostly because Warren Ellis wrote her into a romance with the much older Pete Wisdom. Jubilee, however, was introduced as a fifteen-year-old in 1989, aged down to thirteen when she was added to the cast of the New Mutants title, established as sixteen in her short-lived self-titled series in 2004, and as of a 2011 miniseries was said to be seventeen. Sharp-eyed readers have observed that this means that, due to other screwing around with the continuity of the X-Men comics, Jubilee is now younger than Pixie, who was the youngest of the New X-Men when introduced in 2004. Given that the subject of the 2011 miniseries was Jubilee having come to terms with her new vampirism, there's no reason to assume that she's going to be aging up much anytime soon, even though Marvel's officially-stated time system says she should be 22 by now.note
- The New Mutants team were all 13 (Rahne) to 19 (Shan) years old when first seen in 1982. Until 2009, they looked only a year or two older, even when acting as teachers in the Xavier Academy. As of 2010, they have suddenly become officially twenty-somethings.
- The New X-Men were all high school age when they were first introduced in New Mutants Vol. 2. Ten years later, they're still in high school. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that Marvel Editorial has stated outright they have no intention of allowing them to "age out," out of a sense that there's too many adult characters. The only clear exception is X-23, who has been allowed to age from around 16 years old when she was first brought into the book, to somewhere around 18-20 by the time of All-New Wolverine.
- Crimebuster, a Golden Age non-powered hero, started off as a teenager in his 1942 debut and remained a teenager well into the early 1960s, only to suddenly and inexplicably start aging in real time when he stopped fighting crime and started going to college (as part of a post-Comic Code revamp). This was especially noticeable when his World War II era arch-nemesis reappeared in the 1950s and their WWII past was explicitly acknowledged.
- None of the characters in Archie Comics age. The teenagers have been in high school for decades, with the exact same teachers and principal. In fact, the publication commonly tout Archie as the world's oldest teenager. This trope is exactly why Life with Archie: The Married Life was conceived— to show what could happen if the characters did all grow up (in fact it had two separate arcs about "What if Archie married Betty?" and "What if Archie married Veronica?"). There was also Archie's Weird Mysteries, which showed a middle-aged Archie during a Time Travel episode.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter has been roughly 15 or 16 since the beginning. In 2000. Brian Michael Bendis even invoked this trope: "The Simpsons have kept their ages for more than a decade, we can do that too." He plans to have 100 issues equal 1 year, and if spider-man lives that long he will eventually be old enough to drink. Of course, it's academic now that Peter bit the dust, and the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, is around the same age Peter was at the beginning of the series.
- The original Robin (Dick Grayson) was twelve years old for something like forty years. It was really only after Crisis on Infinite Earths that DC characters started aging, and even then characters often stay around the same age for a very long time. (Tim Drake was generically fourteen or so for much of his ongoing series, which ran from 1993 to 2009, for example.)
- There was some aging going on at DC before the Crisis. Dick had changed his name to Nightwing and was college age by the time the Crisis rolled around. Jack Kirby had officially aged Jimmy Olsen to 21 in the 1970's. And Supergirl had gone from a little teenybopper to a full-grown young woman by the 80's. After the Crisis, though, Jimmy got turned back into a kid, while Dick got to stay an adult, and poor Kara got erased from existence.
- Batman himself is an adult, and does not age either. This troubled Frank Miller when he became older than Batman, so he wrote The Dark Knight Returns, about an aged Batman.
- Jimmy is now an adult again, albeit a rather childish one. He got very offended when Toyman assumed he was a kid: "I'm twenty-two, you jerk!"
- Green Lantern Kyle Rayner has been in his mid-twenties for about sixteen years. This is made even stranger when one takes into account that his best friend Wally West started out roughly the same age as him but has now been aged up into his mid-thirties. For several years after his introduction, Kyle received enough abuse about his age to suggest that he was actually several years younger than Wally, who was in his mid-twenties by that point. However, 'several years' can only be fudged enough to put Kyle in his very early twenties at the time of his debut, and certainly can't explain a decade-long gap between the two.
- Spider-Man and The Human Torch are interesting examples. Both started as teenagers, roughly the same age as the original X-Men. Both have been aged into responsible adults with wives, only for some writer to come along and turn back the clock. With the Torch it tends to be more his emotional age to maintain his place as the youngest on the Fantastic Four. However, after One More Day, Spider-Man is explicitly stated to be in his mid-20's, closer in age to the former New Mutants, than the original X-Men.
- Donald Duck, Scrooge, and the nephews have been the same age since the fifties. The only Duck-writer who seems to avert this is Don Rosa, because his "present day" stories are all set in the fifties.
- The main cast of Buck Danny were pilots during WW2 and still are on active duty during the 90ies, since they never age.
- In MAD's Gasoline Alley parody, despite the Skeezix-parody character aging rather rapidly between (or within) panels, another character remained an infant. The others aged at various (and usually nonsensical) rates.
- Years have been stated to have passed in Sonic the Comic but no one has aged. Certain characters appear to have aged but it's just their appearances making them look older; for example Amy looks older with her quills in a bob than she does with them in her "classic" style. Sonic's age has never been stated so it's possible he was ten to eleven at the start of the comics and has aged to his game counterparts age by the end. Or even older given that Sonic was seen at Spike's Place a bar in the Metropolis Zone in Issue 82's story Running Wild (though he didn't drink), and Knuckles was seen in a saloon in the story The Good, The Bad and The Echidna.
- Averted and then played straight with Dennis the Menace from The Beano, originally the character looked quite young but as the years progressed Dennis got taller and ganglier so much so that by the 70s he resembled more of a teenager than a 10 year old boy. However after this the original artist stopped drawing the character and Dennis did not age for much of the 80s until the 90s when he got younger in part to make the character easier to animate.
- One theory has it that the current Dennis is the son of the original, the main "clues" to this being that Dennis's dad was redesigned from a pinstriped authoritarian in 2011 to look something like a grown up Dennis, and occasional flashbacks showing the new Dennis' granddad looking exactly like the old pinstriped dad.
- Chase Stein of the Runaways turned 18 shortly after Gert's death. But the rest of the team still appears to be underage.
- Horrifically deconstructed with the character of Super Sally Sonic in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory. As a little girl, she was offered a magical artifact that let her grow up until she called off the magic. Eventually she kept the magic on all the time, never aging and retaining the physique of a twenty-something... even when her parents died and legally she could not get any help.
- Tom Thug was an aversion when he appeared in Oink!, being introduced as a 14-year-old and leaving school two years later at 16. However, when he transferred to Buster, he was reverted to 14, and stayed that age for the rest of his run (seven years of new strips).
- The Calvin and Hobbes example above is lampshaded hard in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series. For context, after Calvin has gone through quite a bit of Character Development over the course of four seasons, he gets Laser-Guided Amnesia and gets reverted back to how he was in the strip itself.
Hobbes: You know, I don't know how I dealt with you four years ago.
Calvin: Four years! That would make me... ten years old now!!
MTM: Uh, no, Calvin. You're only six.
Calvin: How is [this] possible?
MTM: Televison contracts. Besides, this is kind of a scifi-y show. We'll think of an excuse soon.
- Lelouch in Soul Chess is a justified example. After he died, a Timey-Wimey Ball sent him to Soul Society over a hundred years before his death. Mayuri theorizes that Lelouch will start aging at a normal rate (well, normal for a shinigami) once he reaches the time he died. Though it does end up rather amusing when people he knew as children end up looking his age or older.
- Averted in the Code Lyoko fanfic Lyoko Championship series, where each new book is set one year later and at Book 3 has it to where Jenny from Team Sin is no longer on the team because she is in college.
- A prominent literature example is The Hardy Boys. Through sixty-plus years, five book series and a total of 248 volumes, the Amateur Sleuths Joe and Frank were always 17 and 18 years old, respectively. Assuming that both Joe and Frank were born on the same birthday, that would be about 1.47 days per mystery. They must be the most obsessed detectives in existence. Averted in a short-lived series in the mid-1990s which aged them a few years: Joe was in college and Frank had a job at a newspaper(?). As it was only one season, though, we'll never know if they would have continued aging. Also, a script is underway for The Hardy Men in which they would finally be adults.
- In the original Nancy Drew books, Nancy was always 16. In the revised versions, she's always 18. Either way, Nancy must have solved approximately 175 mysteries in the span of one year. If the multiple spin-off series are added in, it's even more mind-boggling.
- Both of the above instances were deliberate on the part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, after seeing sharp drop-offs in readerships of books that averted this and had the characters grow up (notably the likes of Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames) they decided eternally youthful was the way to go.
- The Boxcar Children. Over a hundred books, most of which take place over a whole summer, and not a one of them is past college age... They age in the first 19 books, written by Gertrude Chandler Warner; Henry actually makes it to college age, and Jessie, Violet and Ben all have summer jobs... but the publishing company punched the Reset Button so hard that the characters were all slammed back to their original ages from book one when the series was turned into a Franchise Zombie after Warner's death.
- The girls in the The Baby-Sitters Club series aged normally for the first 10 books (during which they all had their 13th birthdays) but were afterward frozen in time, although they often acted much older than 13-year-olds. This may have been a product of the series being ghostwritten after book 35. They were allowed to age again at the end of the series and graduate to high school. The spinoff Baby Sitters' Little Sister had Karen age from six to seven early on, then froze her at "seven and a half" for the rest of the series, no matter how many holidays had passed her by.
- The original Henry Reed books take place over three consecutive summers, and Henry and Midge (short for Margaret) age realistically (Henry from thirteen to fifteen, Midge a year younger). Enter the fifth book, written years later, and their ages are rebooted back.
- In Richmal Crompton's Just William series, William Brown lives through the twenties, thirties, second world war and up to the first moon landings, all the while remaining 11, and having quite a few birthdays (whether these are his 11th or 12th is never stated.)
- Jennings is introduced at the age of 10 years 2 months, and thereafter remains permanently 11. There are few indications of precise external time, but he has far too many ends-of-terms for this to be plausible.
- This is a prevalent trope in many children's series books. Prior to the 20th century, series-book characters aged in real time: witness the Rover Boys, who grew up, married, and eventually had to hand the adventuring off to the next generation of Rover Boys. The first set of children's-book characters who qualified for this trope (as distinguished from being prevented from growing up, as was the case with Dorothy Gale) were the Bobbsey Twins. In the original editions of their first several volumes, they aged in real time; but the editors at the Stratemeyer Syndicate soon realized the characters would age beyond their readership. So they, and their fellows Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Happy Hollisters, and many others, got caught in a chronological stasis, never aging beyond where the series began.
- In-universe example in John Varley's The Golden Globe, the narrator, Kenneth Valentine, is an actor who had played the same child role for decades.
- According to the books, James Bond was born in 1924. The books started in 1953, and the movies in 1962; his twenty-third movie appearance was in 2012, where he most definitely did not look 88. His inability to age beyond early middle age is, if not taken as EON Productions simply adapting the stories to modern eras, considered proof of the theory that 'James Bond' is an alias assigned along with the designation 007, and there have been several people using that name/number combination over the decades.
- In Galaxy of Fear, the protagonists were twelve and thirteen years old when Alderaan was destroyed, the series starts at six months after that, and ends around a year after the destruction. Their ages are mentioned frequently. In The Brain Spiders, Tash (the older of the two) says that she'll be fourteen in a few weeks, but while later books take place months after that she is still called thirteen.
- The characters of the Stephanie Plum series don't age, although plenty of references to the passage of time are made (such as Stephanie's sister's marriage and subsequent pregnancy).
- In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg Heffley and his generation have stayed in middle school for more than two summers. Word of God says that's where he will stay. Rowley is a slight aversion, as he has been going through gradual character development from a naive little kid, to a more mature kid who has a girlfriend and learned to stopped letting Greg boss him around.
- Invoked by Pippi Longstocking, who, in the end of the last novel, takes a pill together with Tommy and Annika, which together with a rhyme, allegedly stops aging.
Live Action TV
- Family Affair ran for five years and, more importantly, lasted long enough for its youngest cast member, Anissa Jones, to enter puberty in the middle of production. In spite of this, the writers insisted that her character as well as her public image should remain that of a very young, prepubescent girl. Thus, in the later years of the show's run, Anissa Jones was forced to conceal her developing breasts, tie her hair up in Girlish Pigtails, and hold the Mrs. Beasley doll when working on the set or making promotional appearances. Her requests that her character's dialogue be made less childish were turned down. This is often cited as a major factor in her eventual death by drug overdose, along with her parents' divorce, which was finalized two years after the show ended.
- The trope still affects some contemporary "teen dramas", forcing characters to remain teenaged and in high school for ridiculous periods of time, even as their actors age into and through their twenties. See also Dawson Casting.
- Emmanuel Lewis, the star of Webster was twelve when he started playing the title role and seventeen when the show ended. His character aged only three years during the show's six-year run, from age five to eight.
- Similarly, Gary Coleman's character Arnold on Diff'rent Strokes appeared to age much slower than the rest of the cast. Coleman's kidney disorder meant that the actor never grew above 4' 8''. An aversion, though, in that the character progressed through his school years at a normal rate, especially after the older cast mates moved on to college and Europe. Arnold was 8 when the series started and 16 when it ended.
- The producers of Malcolm in the Middle were quite concerned about Frankie Muniz growing up, to the point where they filmed as many episodes as humanly possible in a very short period of time and then showed them on a regular schedule, so that Malcolm would appear to age more slowly.
- Later seasons, however, avert this to some degree; you can see Malcolm graduating from high school, applying for colleges, and Francis gets married. This was probably due to Dawson Casting: at the series' beginning, Muniz was 14 whereas the character of Malcolm was somewhere around 11, and it would be understandable for them to want to make sure he didn't hit a growth spurt or a voice change before it would be plausible for Malcolm to do the same. After in-universe puberty struck, they didn't mind the actors growing up.
- SCTV parodied this with a Mockumentary in which Martin Short portrays a (former) child actor who has been the star of a Dennis the Menace-esque show called Oh, That Rusty! for thirty years. Rusty never ages, but the actor does. At one point, the show's producers start filming the show using oversized sets and props, and do some recasting... not for Rusty, but for his parents, who are now played by very tall basketball players (who also happen to be black, making for an inversion of the Diff'rent Strokes/Webster formula.)
- Lost similarly removed Walt from on-screen appearances for two seasons when the actor playing him began to age more visibly, but brought him back once the progress of puberty had slowed somewhat. See Put on a Bus. Though it was for different reasons than most shows. Where most shows that do this hold to a nebulous frozen time frame, Lost was on a strict timeline with the first four seasons covering a span of roughly 100 days during which Walt's puberty would have been implausible. He returned when the show's timeline jumped forward a few years catching up with his age.
- During its short tenure, Century City explored two aspects of this trope: first, a child actor suing his parents over the right to take growth suppressant hormones to continue his acting career, and second, an elderly member of a Backstreet Boys-esque boy band suing his former band over a contractual dispute that forces all members to take gene therapy and other surgery to keep them perpetually boi-ish. Incidentally, both cases averted this trope: the child actor was convinced not to take the pills through an appeal to the wonders of growing up, and the boy band case was dropped after one of the members who went through the procedure died of old age.
Lukas: But he looked so young.
- LazyTown provides a rare modern live action example. Julianna Rose Mauriello was 13 when she took the role of 8-year-old Stephanie, and was relatively believable as that age. She was 15 when the second season was shot, and is clearly a young woman rather than a little girl in those episodes (she doesn't even appear to have bound breasts, at least not consistently), yet no narrative time appears to have passed, and in one episode she is shown to be in the same grade school class as her young puppet friends. Fan theories on what happens next range from bringing in a Suspiciously Similar Substitute or The Other Darrin to doing an animated version, though many fans are emotionally attached to Julianna and hope that the show continues to use this trope, going so far as to suggest that she's already basically physically adult, and so not going to get much less childlike. She was a month from 17 when the first season of LazyTown Extra was shot, so they're still using this trope for now.
- After Punky Brewster moved from NBC, Soleil Moon Frye started developing early and went through a massive growth spurt. At first, producers dealt with the situation by binding her breasts while still playing the character off as, physically, a prepubescent child. When the premise became too unbelievable, Punky was finally allowed to have her puberty. The first episode that admitted Punky was growing up begins with Punky marching in on her caretaker at breakfast and announcing proudly "Henry, guess what? I'm getting boobs."
- Made even more obvious by the fact that Soleil Moon Frye would eventually have to have breast reduction surgery at 16 because of gigantomastia.
- Many plots of the later seasons of Leave It to Beaver had the title character getting involved in similar troublesome situations as the ones he got caught in as an eight-year old, causing the character's Flanderization into almost an idiot. Case in point: "Beaver The Bunny". Would have been better in second or third season instead of fifth.
- Appears for reasons unknown on Rome with Vorena the Younger and little Lucius. Vorena is at least eight years old when she first appears in the second episode, and Lucius is an infant. When the series ends roughly 20 years later Vorena is still played by the same actress and Lucius seems to be no older than five or six. Especially odd considering the fact that Octavian ages from twelve in the pilot to being in his thirties when the show ends, and Caesarion (who isn't even born until Lucius is around four years old) shows up being somewhere around ten years old in the last episodes.
- Since they editors stated that they 'compressed the timeline of events' somewhat (i.e. didn't overly worry about historical accuracy), Octavian may be younger at the end of the series than he was when he actually came into power.
- In Sesame Street, both Gabi (Maria and Luis' daughter) and Miles (Gordon and Susan's adopted son) grew up in real time, while the Muppets depicted as kids, like Elmo and Big Bird, stayed the same. For example, in an anniversary episode, Elmo asks Grover about the thing what happened when he wasn't there. In the scene of Maria and Luis' wedding, Elmo talks like he wasn't there, but he's visible holding the ring in the wedding.
- Archie Comics enforced this on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Not on the characters, but on the show title itself, not allowing the show's producers to change the name to simply "Sabrina", even though Sabrina herself wasn't a teenager for the last couple of seasons, although the did keep it as the official title, a lot of promotional material stared calling it Sabrina Goes to College. (Sabrina's actress, Melissa Joan Hart, was 27 when the show ended). And boy did it start to show. She went from looking young enough to be late teens, early twenties, to the first episode of the penultimate season, where she and her college friends film a video with a genuine Vampire, the light strikes her, and wow, she suddenly looks much older.
- Parodied in an episode of You Can't Do That on Television where the kids found out the network was secretly feeding them shrinking hormone to keep them from looking older.
- While most of the kids on The Brady Bunch were allowed to age with their actors, the character of Cindy was forced to continue to wear her hair in pigtails far beyond what is normal for her age. Possibly this was done so as not to change the theme song, although technically her hair was braided, not curled in later seasons. Cindy's actress, Susan Olsen, went on record of saying this greatly annoyed her. Cast members have said that by the time Cindy hit her teen years, all of the interesting "teenage girl" stories and tropes had already been run through by either Marcia and/or Jan. There was literally nothing else for Cindy to be except "the youngest one in curls." Not only did she have to keep her hair in pigtails, Cindy was forced to still be the wide-eyed, naive little girl she started the series as.
- Grey's Anatomy has this but with adults. The first season only had nine episodes, so them still being Interns in season 2 was justified. There is, however, no excuse for them to be Interns for the entirety of season 3. Especially bad was their first year is established as starting on July 1st and the second season ended with a Prom (mid April at best, early June at worst). The fourth season began their second year, and they are currently third year Residents.
- Disney tried to enforce this on The Mickey Mouse Club via Suppressed Mammaries; The female Mouseketeers resorted to subversion (slicing the hated "foundation garments" with razor blades) when their protests proved unavailing.
- This was one of the reasons cited for the cancellation of The Adventures Of Shirley Holmes, according to the producers.
- The entire cast of That '70s Show. Eric turned 17 in the second episode (despite telling Red that he was 17 in the pilot). He then turns 18 in the third episode of season six.
- Round the Twist starts in 1989, and finishes in 2000. The three Twist kids more or less stay the same - the two twins manage to de-age from 14 to thirteen, and Bronson is still in the same primary school class. To be fair, this is because the series was rebooted twice - first in 1992 (for one season) then in 1999 (for two seasons).
- During the later seasons of Dennis the Menace, Jay North (who played Dennis) was getting a little too old to be running around in overalls and a cheesy cowlick. Jeannie Russell (who played Margaret) was 12 years old in the final season, yet in her appearances in those last episodes, Margaret was still pushing her doll carriage up to the Wilson home and wanting to play "house" with Dennis.
- The reason that Jon Provost left Lassie in 1964 was because, at age 14, he (rightly) believed he was too old to still play the "little boy with his dog". Mind you, the producers' intention was for him to play that exact character until he was 17!
- Victorious is a modern example of this. The characters didn't age (or aged little) through the show's 4 seasons. Trina was a senior in season 1 and still a senior in season 4! It's even more interesting the fact that iCarly shares the same universe of Victorious, but kids age (almost) in real-time in that show.
- The writers behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer deliberately aborted an arc in order to prevent this trope from affecting any of the show's actors. The first season introduced the Anointed One, a vampire with the appearance of a prepubescent boy. He was initally planned to be the Big Bad of the second season, but his actor ran the risk of entering puberty within even a single year, and Buffyverse vampires are not supposed to age. Hence, the Anointed One was casually written out and replaced by Spike and Drusilla.
- On a Polish sit-com "Świat według Kiepskich", which has been on air for almost a generation, the daughter of the leading couple remains a teenager. She's been portrayed by an actress who is currently 29 and has been on the show from the age of 14 and has always appeared to be about 16-18 years old. She dresses, acts and speaks like a teenager, lives with her parents and is often told not to "snap back at daddy".
- On Southland, Ben is a trainee Officer for the first 3 seasons, even though training is supposed to take just a year. Arguably justified, as Southland had very short seasons and the first 3 seasons total to just 23 episodes.
- The managers of the Puerto Rican Boy Band Menudo kept the group young by use of a simple method: every member would be obligatorily replaced when he reached his 16th birthday, his voice changed, grew facial hair, or got too tall.
- Similar restrictions apply to the Vienna Boys' Choir, though the boys graduate when they turn 15. This, however, is for more realistic reasons. The Vienna Boys' Choir is an all-treble choir, so once a boy's voice drops, he no longer has a part. If his voice drops while his choir is touring, he is allowed to finish the tour, and the boys continue attending the same school, they simply do not sing in the famous choir.
- In drum & bugle corps affiliated with Drum Corps International, the maximum age of a marching member is 21.
- This trope is especially common in newspaper comic strips. Peanuts and The Family Circus are the most egregious offenders, but the effect can become even more jarring in instances such as Sally Forth, where events continually occur that become part of the characters' canon history and define what is and is not possible for the continuing present, and yet the time needed for these events to have transpired has no impact on young Hilary's age. Quite the contrary, sometimes she even seems to be growing younger.
- Sally Forth's writer has given them occasional bouts of Genre Savvy self-awareness on this point. A story arc in early 2015 shows Hilary and her friends as twenty-somethings, and oddly, all the adults still look the same.
- In the case of Peanuts, Linus miraculously nearly catches up to Lucy in age, nor is Rerun far behind; ditto with Sally and Charlie Brown.
- Lucy herself, when she first appeared, was much younger than the other characters and was shown wearing footed sleepers and sleeping in a crib. Similarly, when Schroeder made his debut, the joke was not simply "playing Beethoven on his toy piano" but "a baby playing Beethoven on his toy piano".
- FoxTrot uses this trope where the kids in the family still attend the same schools for the same amount of time for years since the first comic. Even though Peter and Paige sometimes plan what they want to do for college, they never actually get there.
- And every year Paige has to deal with the stress of starting high school. That's pretty much awful.
- A combined Lampshade Hanging and Shout-Out during a more serious storyline has Jason wondering if he'd suddenly stepped into For Better or for Worse. His mother responds that she doesn't mind if he remains ten years old.
- When StarCraft II came out, Jason stated that he spent 11 years waiting for the game. He claimed the missing year was "waiting in the womb".
- A strip had Jason refusing to acknowledge the new year because, as Roger pointed out, "you really don't want to turn eleven". Jason says this is because Peter said he was eleven when he started liking girls.
- Historically averted in Gasoline Alley, which was the first comic strip to allow its characters to age in Real Time. Skeezix was a foundling infant in 1921 and a man in his nineties in 2014. Several characters quietly died of old age at various times, although improbably ripe old ages are somewhat common among the mains, such as Skeezix's adoptive mother and father dying at 105 and still living at 114, respectively.
- Averted in For Better or for Worse, which ages its characters in Real Time. Characters who were babies and children early in the strip were teens and married young adults 15 years later.
- Ironically, in 2007 creator Lynn Johnston announced her intent to semi-retire by resolving most of the ongoing storylines, narrowing the strip's focus to the family of then-grown oldest child Michael and "freezing" everyone's ages, essentially returning the strip to the format it began with. In the end, she went with the Continuity Reboot route of restarting the strip's story from the beginning, updating art and references when needed, with a few occasional new strips thrown in.
- Maintaining a realistic connection to time forced Johnston to make the heartbreaking decision to kill the beloved family dog, Farley, since realistically his breed would not last much longer than (at the time) he already had. Friends and family tried to talk her out of it. Fans who caught wind of it got up in arms. Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, is said to have told her that if she killed Farley, he would have Snoopy hit by a truck. But at least one friend managed to persuade her that he had to go out a hero, and Johnston wrote a storyline in which he dies saving April's life.
- Brooke McEldowney's 9 Chickweed Lane quasi-averts this trope. McEldowney's characters specifically mention their own ages at times, leave high school, move to New York, quit jobs, buy a farm, etc. Though they are in motion and acknowledge the passing of years, they seem largely unaffected by that passage. For example, Edda's mother (who has to be around 50 by now) is still smokin' hot and Edda's grandmother shows no signs of infirmity.
- Doonesbury started off embracing this trope but after Trudeau's mid-1980s hiatus it began half-heartedly averting it. Most of the original characters are supposed to be in their fifties or older, although they don't look it. Younger characters, though — particularly Alex, Jeff and Zipper — have been aging more or less in real time and have of late entered or even graduated from college. And in a case that spans both eras, Mike's second wife Kim started out in the 1970s strips as the adopted Vietnamese orphan who could only speak English in advertising slogans.
- Note also that this trope doesn't seem to apply to every character. Uncle Duke has been in his late 40's since the mid-1970's, even as every other character has aged around him. No one seems to have noticed.
- Given Duke's proclivities it's possible that he's accidentally and unknowingly stumbled upon a true anti-aging formula.
- It hasn't been at all clear since the late '70s that Duke actually exists in the same continuity as the other characters. If it wasn't for the occasional brief visit from Zonker (his nephew) or Zeke (his ex-employee), he would never intersect with the rest of The Verse.
- Funky Winkerbean kept its characters in high school for two decades before Tom Batiuk decided to employ a Time Skip to move them to post-collegiate age. More recently, another Time Skip has moved the original characters to middle age. These changes have accompanied a change in the strip's tone from gag-a-day humor to dramatic arcs.
- Lampshaded by the above quote in Calvin and Hobbes.
- Many fan works explore Calvin's later life. Most of the best ones (that is to say, a number of the actually funny ones) accept that whatever Hobbes' nature relative to the various realities of Calvin and those around him is, it hasn't changed since Calvin was six, and for the most part neither has Hobbes.
- One popular theory is that the comic strip Frazz is what Calvin became when he grew up. The other involves Fight Club.
- Nancy in all its incarnations (starting back when the comic was called 'Fritzi Ritz') has been 8 years old since 1933! This makes Dagwood look like he has progeria.
- Dennis the Menace has had a sixth birthday — before returning to age 5.5 the next day — many times. Like children in The Family Circus and Peanuts, he has remained the same age. It has gone on so long that in the early 1990s, a rumor began on the Internet that the Dennis of the 1950s/1960s had grown up to become the inspiration for the dad in Calvin and Hobbes. Also like the others, Dennis has changed with the times, to where the family entered the computer age and got other new gadgets when they came out. However, his love of Westerns, which seemed oddly out of place in the 1970s and 1980s, can now be explained by cable TV.
- The late '50s live-action TV series ran into this problem toward the end of its run.
- The UK Dennis the Menace (from the Beano comic) subverted this in one issue in 2001 where Dennis was celebrating his 50th birthday (the 50th anniversary of his first appearance in the Beano comic), while the character still remained physically 10.
- Dennis' sister Bea grew to the age of about 1 and got her own spin-off comic. Dennis didn't age though.
- Both kept and subverted in the strip Blondie. Blondie and Dagwood have not aged significantly since their first appearance in 1930, 82 years ago. (If real aging were used, they'd both be hitting their century mark.) But they've had kids who have matured to college age — then stayed there. Daisy the Dog's puppies are perpetually half-grown, and have been for decades. The characters have evolved, though, as have the storylines. The original strip was about the relationship between the upper-class heir-to-millions Dagwood and the lower-class party-girl Blondie, with lots of Roaring Twenties-era class-conscious humor. Now it's about two working parents in the suburbs and their life. At some point another "growth spurt" may hit and they might be grandparents — but Blondie will still have her 1930 style hairdo.
- Zbeng! is an Israeli newspaper comic about a high school class - the same characters since 1987. And of course it's always about the present day.
- Little Orphan Annie seems never to age beyond about eleven. In a 1941 strip Daddy Warbucks recalls events from a 1931 story arc, saying, "I had Eonite ten years ago and lost it", and does not notice that his daughter has not aged significantly in those ten years.
- In Luann, the title character and her friends were approximately 15 years old when the strip began in 1985; in the ensuing quarter-century they've advanced to roughly 18 or 19. Luann was probably acutally closer to 13-14 in the beginning, as she and her friends were in junior high, while her older brother Brad was in high school. She and her friends have since moved on to high school, graduating in 2014 and moving on to college, while Brad became a fireman, so there's been some development, but it's still at a snail's pace.
- Mark Trail used to be allowed to age, but is now caught in a time freeze so powerful that even he can't punch his way out of it. He even occasionally revisits old storylines, trapped in an eternal loop where everything is the same except where censored to match the values of the outside world.
- Perpetually-fifteen Jeremy of Zits was finally allowed to hit sixteen, fix his van, and get a driver's license a few years ago.
- In Dilbert, the title character has remained in his thirties or so for over twenty years. Wally is perpetually an older worker coasting to retirement.
- Garfield celebrates his birthday every year on June 19, the day the comic debuted. Sometimes, his actual age is mentioned and it's now more than double the average cat life expectancy. However, the longest-lived cat lived to thirty-eight and Garfield won't reach that until 2016. Odie has stayed pup for over 30 years. Also, Jon and Liz should be in late middle age by now.
- The strip's No Fourth Wall and Medium Awareness may handwave this, as the characters have always known they were in a comic strip and thus may be aware they can't age unless required.
- Nermal somewhat parodies this with various revelations, like that he's a midget, deliberately stunts his growth, and uses extensive anti-aging therapies.
- The Buckets has ping-ponged between playing this trope straight and averting it. Larry Bucket gives his age as around 36 in the 1990s, but advances to 42 in the 2000s; his wife Sarah made a similar age jump at the same time. Their two sons have aged at different rates; when the strip began in 1990, Toby was around 6 or 7, while Eddie was still in diapers, whereas by 2010 their ages were given as 15 for Toby and 6 for Eddie.note And Larry's father Frank has actually lost a few years, attending his fiftieth high school reunion in 1996 (making his age around 68) but being implied to be closer to 64 or 65 by 2010.
- Frazz: Despite having summer vacations, Caulfield always returns to third grade.
- Connie Kendall in Adventures in Odyssey was an example for many years. She first appeared as a 16 year old and stayed that way for so long that several of the kid characters surpassed her age. This was later retconned so that she just ages very slowly: Connie is now in college, has been engaged, and runs a wedding business called Dreams by Constance, so she's allowed to age after all.
- Used in-story in Gypsy, where vaudeville child stars June and Louise have their real ages kept secret by their mother. Louise can't be sure how old she really is, having had parties celebrating her tenth birthday for several years in a row. (Given that Gypsy is a biography, and Mama Rose allegedly was that bad, this may also be a case of Truth in Television.)
- Used very often in Annie, where the shuffling of orphans was usually done due to the onset of puberty (though some younger girls would move up to older girl roles). Thus, literally hundreds of girls played roles in the musical through its original Broadway run and four national tours. The documentary Life After Tomorrow interviews quite a few of the women who appeared in the original run, many of whom cited their last show as the worst day of their lives.
- World of Warcraft's Anduin Wrynn was ten for quite a while. He finally got his age up (new character model) with the release of Cataclysm.
- Both used and averted by the Donkey Kong Country series. While the original Donkey Kong grew old to become Cranky Kong, his wife Wrinkly passed away (though she returned as a ghost) and Tiny Kong grew up from a little kid to being in her late teens, Diddy and Dixie Kong are still kids after 13 years. Since most of the Kongs note were Put on a Bus after Rareware left for Microsoft, it is possible that not as much time has passed in the Donkey Kong universe as in Real Life. Kiddy Kong, the baby character from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, has not yet gotten off the bus. It appears that Rare attempted to have Diddy age slightly in Diddy Kong Racing DS, in which his voice was deeper and appeared to have broken.
- Drakengard has Seere, a six-year old boy who made a pact with a golem creature. The price for the pact was being unable to grow up. In Drakengard 2, he is now 24 years old, but still looks like a little boy.
- The Sims:
- In The Sims 1 a baby grows up to be a child... and then can never age again, meaning that eventually, they hit their peak grade and can never accomplish anything ever again. The sequels introduced aging and allowed the children to grow up.
- In The Sims 2, only the Sims in the household you're currently playing as will age; so unless you regularly switch between households, it will likely end up with your elderly sim's old friends from elementary school still being children.
- Despite six years passing between the sixth and twelfth Touhou game, Reimu and Marisa remain the same age. As far as we can tell.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Sonic had a birthday in Sonic Generations. He's still fifteen years old. Humorously, before Sonic Heroes, his canon age was sixteen. He seems to be aging backwards! Also in Generations, he, Tails and Eggman are depicted as having aged quite a bit since their 16-bit days, not even being able to fully recall their early adventures in Chemical Plant or Green Hill Zone despite the above.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has this trope in spades; none of the characters seem to grow any older than the age in which they were introduced, and some (like Charmy Bee) actually had their ages and mannerisms adjusted to be younger than what they were before.
- Amy Rose seems to be an aversion, having aged from 8 to 12 between Sonic CD and Sonic Heroes, which seems reasonable... But is weird alongside Knuckles, who went from 15 to 16; Tails, who remained 8; and Sonic, who, as mentioned above, went from 16 to 15.
- Kingdom Hearts
- Huey, Dewey, and Louie. There is no noticeable difference between their appearance in Birth by Sleep and their appearance in Kingdom Hearts II, 11 years later.
- In 3D, Riku explains that the different worlds don't operate on the same time scale. Not many fans wanted to believe him, though the Timeless River world from II would at least add some more credence to that theory.
- In most of the Harvest Moon games, you're allowed to get married and have a child. In several after a few months of in-game time, the kid will move from being an infant to a toddler - and then never get older than that. Also true of all the other characters, since you can play for hundreds of years in-game, and no one ever gets older or dies. This trope is subbverted with Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life as everyone ages over the roughly twenty years the game goes on. Characters hair turn grey, the children grow into adults, and characters die (including the protagonist). The only exception are the farm animals as they never die of old age or even age beyond young adulthood.
- Pokémon usually averts this trope however Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 doesn't. In the World Tournament all the characters were given new sprites however not new designs despite the games taking place at least a decade after some of them. So we have gym leaders like Misty or Whitney who glaringly haven't aged a day.
- Lampshaded in this Achewood strip. When the one-sentence capsule of a character is "Phillipe is five", then that's all there is to it. He recently celebrated his fifth birthday again.
- Lampshaded even more cruelly in the "Philippe's Journey Home" arc, where Philippe makes a killing selling useless junk to rich people a la The Sharper Image and goes back to his mother's house, only to find out that his mother (apparently never completely stable at the best of times) has turned into an apathetic and somewhat spacey lady who lunches.
- The protagonists of Sluggy Freelance should be approaching their forties, and Bun-Bun and Kiki are both a lot more spry than an animal of their age has any business being.
- Snuggleninja: The guy shown here here and here has remained the same age through the whole series.
- Ozy and Millie had been running for a good 10+ years, yet they haven't aged at all. The creator has hinted of a spin-off with the characters as teens. But nothing has been heard of that for a while. Especially now that much of her time has been dedicated to her other comic Heavenly Nostrils.
- Adventure Time is a rare outright aversion. The protagonist Finn is stated by the series creator to age in real-time. He was 12 during the series debut in 2010 and (pending a birthday in 2014) is 15 during the recent events. This would mean he ages a year for every actual year since the debut. Though averted with Jake's kids, due to their magical hybrid genetics, not only age super fast, but are already older than their father in the same episode they were born. Though seeing as the show was forced to preserve the status quo of Jake being Finn's roommate, as opposed to being a stay at home dad for who knows how long. There was really no other way out.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks have been singing their songs since the 1950's, but through numerous albums, several animated show, and several movies, they don't seem to have aged a day.
D.W. I get to stay up 'til midnight, right?Mom You're too young, D.W.D.W. Why am I always too young? It's like I never get any older! What if I'm trapped in some kind of time warp and I never get any older? Is that my fault?
- Arthur has been running for nearly twenty years, but Arthur and his classmates are still in third grade. It's been stated that Ratburn will be resigning as a third grader teacher and become a kindergarten teacher next year (thus likely D.W.'s teacher) but that never happens despite the fact that Buster passed the third grade exams in season 1 (1996).
- To get an idea of just how ludicrous this became, if the characters actually aged in real time like people in the real world do, Arthur & his third-grade friends would be 28 years old, Prunella and the other fourth graders (and the kids held back, like Binky) would be 29, and the four-year-olds like D.W. and the Tibble twins would be 24.
- Oddly Kate, Arthur's baby sister, is the only character who ages. She's starting to speak and becoming more toddler-like, and with that she's losing her ability to speak with non-anthropomorphic animals.
- This is finally averted in season 19, where in the finale the gang begins fourth grade.
- Lampshaded in the New Year's Eve episode;
- Batman: The Animated Series had Baby Doll, a villain who was the living incarnation of this trope. She was a former child star, Mary Dahl, who quit the show that made her famous to try a more dramatic acting career. This failed, partly because she had a genetic condition that kept her looking like a child. She had a Freak Out and became obsessed with wanting to revive the show that made her famous and happy, by kidnapping her former colleagues to relive the show. She got better, though... apart from that thing with Killer Croc. This may have been inspired by the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? starring Bette Davis as a former childhood star who, despite being on the wrong side of 50, still dresses and acts the way she did when she was famous.
- It is the intent of the producers of Bob's Burgers that Tina, Louise, Gene and their classmates will stay at their current ages throughout the run of the show, although they may do some intellectual aging.
- No one is really quite sure how time works in Danny Phantom, and many a fan have had a headache over trying to make a timeline. Continuity clearly exists, but the characters remain 14 and in freshman year through a Christmas and summer — not to mention, three years on the air. By the finale, following real time, they should all be seniors.
- Daria has this trope to an extent. Time does pass in the show, seasons one through three was Daria's tenth grade, seasons four and five are 11 and 12 respectively. But characters' physical appearances never change, neither do their clothes, thanks to the Limited Wardrobe. Quinn is an exception as she gets a new shirt at some point - it's near identical to her old one.
- The core, classic stars of the Disney canon are forever the same age, while technology blooms and evolves around them with each passing decade. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are eighty years old, and yet still forever dating, living in separate houses, and working minimum wage jobs like young adults... with their co-stars not too far behind.
- The comics are usually no different, but in a subversion, Don Rosa's Donald/Scrooge McDuck comics almost always take place in the late 50s, with small, subtle liberties taken with space technology and the like. It's understandable, as his crown jewel The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has a very set timeline that stays consistent with the rest of his stories (Don Rosa has even mapped out when his version of the characters were born/will die). It must be noted, however, that his predecessor and faithfully-followed inspiration Carl Barks did not feel this way, and like all interpretations of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck, froze the character's ages and let the environment around them roll with the times.
- All Disney characters mentioned above are adults, but what do you think of Huey, Dewey and Louie? They've been kids for 73 years now! Same goes for Monty and Ferdie (Mickey's nephews), who have been kids since FRIGGIN 1932. Funny thing to point out here is that Huey, Dewey and Louie are actually 15 years older than their great uncle Scrooge. Oh, and they're 57 years older than their uncle Rumpus McFowl. They seem to have only aged twice, once after their introduction (in which they looked and acted much younger than they do today), and in the show Quack Pack, after which they quickly reverted back to their current ages everywhere else.
- This is averted with the Goof Troop cast. Max and PJ were 11 in the show (1992), 14 in A Goofy Movie (1995) and 18-19 in An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000). However, in Max's limited appearances outside the Goof Troop universe (House of Mouse and the Christmas specials) he has a somewhat inconsistent age, but does still seem to age in Real Time. This would put Max's, PJ's and the friend Bobby's date of birth around the early 1980s putting them as of now in their early 30's.
- Within the universe, Goofy and Pete age as well, though they wouldn't have been born until roughly 15-20 years after they were invented.
- The Fairly OddParents:
- Timmy is still described as being 10, even though he has had at least three summer vacation episodes, but then again it's just a show; we should really just relax. He's had at least one 11th birthday episode, and an Anniversary of meeting his fairies in one movie, whereupon his age at the time of meeting his fairies was retconned to 9. But he's still treated as a 10-year old.
- A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! has Timmy as a 23-year-old. However, he's still in 5th grade, but must face the choice of whether to grow up or not, specifcaly whether to fall in love or not, with a Big Damn Kiss to seal the deal if he does.
- There was an episode ("Timmy's Secret Wish") where it is revealed Timmy actually wished that he — and everyone around him — would never age, and they've been living the same year for 50 years. However, everything at the end of the episode is reversed and people go back to aging.
- There is also a TV special where Timmy discusses how TV characters stay the same age, and this is his motivation for wishing for a magical remote that takes him "into the TV".
- Family Guy uses it and plays it for comedy, except Chris has moved up from junior high to being a freshman at Meg's high school. In an especially over-the-top example, Bonnie Swanson had been pregnant in her third trimester for nearly her entire tenure on the show; her unborn child is not allowed to grow up at all. Much like Stewie's aging freeze, it has not gone without some Lampshade Hanging. In the episode "Ocean's Three and a Half", which premiered just a month earlier than ten years after her debut, she finally gave birth.
- Another example of this both subverted and played straight is the episode "Sibling Rivalry". In the episode, Peter ends up "donating" a large amount of sperm to a sperm bank. Over the course of the episode, enough time passes for a woman to get Peter's sperm, impregnate herself, grow the baby to full term, deliver the baby, and then for the baby to grow to be Stewie's age... except that, over this entire time period, no noticeable time passes for Stewie (who should be 1-2 years older by now).
- Also, in "Back to the Pilot", Stewie and Brian go back in time from 2011 to 1999, where they meet themselves, despite the fact that both of them are less than ten years old (so they shouldn't have been born yet). Towards the end, a bunch of alternate-universe Brians and Stewies from 2011 show up - you'd think one pair would be a very old Brian and teenage Stewie, but no. They also go 5 years into the future and no one has aged.
- Both used and averted in The Flintstones, with Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm aged somewhat realistically throughout the years. In the series they grew from babies to toddlers in from seasons 3-6, in the TV specials of the 1970's they were young children, in the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show they are teenagers, and in the TV specials "I Yabba Dabba Doo" and "Holly Rock-A-Bye-Baby" they are adults who marry each other and have children of their own. Their parents however have looked exactly the same throughout the series and specials.
- Used very oddly in Franklin. Throughout most of the series, the kids were in kindergarten, but they were finally allowed to advance to the first grade in the DVD release Back to School with Franklin, which came after the fifth season. Best not to think about this at all when it comes to either Bear's little sister Beatrice or Franklin's little sister, Harriet. In the first season, Bear's sister was born, but a couple seasons later, he said that she was four years old. And Franklin's little sister wasn't born (yes, born, not hatched) until after the fourth season in the film Franklin and the Green Knight: The Movie. Yet by the next film, Franklin's Magic Christmas, she was already talking and walking and by the time of Back to School with Franklin, her speech had advanced and she was said to be just a year away from being able to attend preschool.
- It remains to be seen whether Futurama will use it. The adult characters don't need to have aged noticeably yet, but it has been over ten years in-canon (for instance, whenever the year is mentioned, its always 1001 years from the current year that the episode was first broadcast). "The Late Philip J. Fry" features aged versions of many characters. But Cubert and Dwight don't seem to have grown any in the canon present. To complicate matters more the Cookieville Minimum-Security orphans (who are much younger), haven't aged at all. Though to be fair, how much can you expect orphans to grow when they're on a diet of books? Amy also presents some problems, as her original concept was that she was in college and was an intern at Planet Express. The show would lampshade this a few times, calling her a "long-term intern" in Bender's Big Score, for instance, but she was eventually allowed to graduate college.
- The kids in Hey Arnold! never seem to age through 100 episodes and one movie, despite the fact that judging by the order of their holidays, they've been in 4th grade for 2-3 years. (Christmas->Valentine's Day->Halloween->Thanksgiving->Veterans Day->Spring Break->April Fool's Day — In that order)
- Johnny Test: Lampshaded by Dukey in the episode "The Return of Super Smarty Pants" after Johnny had been taken over by his crazy Yandere pants created by his sisters in a previous episode that gave him intellectual abilities by imploring him to remember of all the times they spent together juxtaposed by flashbacks of episodes of their adventures since 2005.
Dukey: Remember me?! We've been together for years, but surprisingly haven't aged very much.
- Mordred, the spoiled immortal son of Morgan le'Fay in Justice League, is kept an eternal child by his mother's magic, who's only willing to let him grow up once he has his perfect kingdom. Being a child for millenia has made him an Enfant Terrible of nightmarish proportions. He ended up breaking the spell, though, which caused him to become a helpless elderly man that his mother now has to take care of. She doesn't mind one bit.
- King of the Hill offered a variation on the Trope. Bobby actually ages a year or two on the show, but never hits puberty, and thus his character never really changes. This is explained in-series as Bobby being a late bloomer, but behind the scenes this is mainly because it would ruin his usage as a comic foil to his dad Hank and also require a change in voice actors. His friends Joseph and Connie have episodes that involve the onset of puberty (although Bobby is slightly older then them), and by the last episode, everyone in Bobby's class has hit puberty aside from him.
- Liberty's Kids takes place in the years 1773 through 1788. The main characters do not age even one year throughout the entire series. This is especially odd as notably several of the adult characters (especially Benjamin Franklin) get more and more aged as time goes on.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The Cutie Mark Crusaders are a trio of fillies who were on the hunt for their cutie marks until Season 5. During that time, other foals in the series were getting theirs about Once a Season. Finally averted in "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" where all three of them finally got their cutie marks. Age wise, their voice actresses have aged and thus Applebloom and Sweetie Belle voices have deepened however they still use the same foal designs they did in season 1. The series handwaves it by saying only a year has passed since episode 1.
- The Cake twins initially seemed like an example of this, as by the season 6 episode On Your Marks they still seemed to be infants, although they no longer wore diapers like in Baby Cakes. However, as of A Hearth's Warming Tale they have been shown behaving more autonomously and singing carols (though their distinct voices aren't heard), so they do seem to be aging—at a rate somewhere between a pony's and a human's.
- One episode of Pinky and the Brain starts with a show where they finally figure out that the current actress playing the kid role is well past the Suspension of Disbelief age. Brain tries to further his goals by applying for the freed up role.
- This is actual Word of God in Pocoyo:
He is 4, and his birthday is the 14th October. But he's always 4, I don't know how he does it!
- The Powerpuff Girls. They were five years old in Craig McCracken's school film, the pilots, 75 series episodes in the space of five years (including an episode where they celebrate their birthday), a movie and two specials.
- The title characters remained babies for a good decade or so. Eventually, however, they were aged up ten years for the All Grown Up! spin-off.
- Taken to ludicrous lengths when baby Dil was introduced. If not from the sheer number of episodes, then at the very least, the number of holidays that passed before Dil was introduced would lead one to infer that close to a year must have passed from the beginning of the show. There was both a Christmas special and a Chanukah special, and a Passover special, and a summer vacation special (where they went to Las Vegas—your guess is as good as mine), and the three-episode season finale that set up Didi's pregnancy was almost pointedly set in autumn. Nine months later, maybe eight if it was a relatively brief pregnancy, Tommy is still just one year old, and after the time skip, their ages are 11 and 10. Pregnancy Does Not Work That Way!
- However, floating timelines have their own conditions for each series, where with the Rugrats series, it is possible that the cast were stuck in the year of 1991 (when the series debuted) for 10 years, since no references to the current year or pop-culture were ever made, since the series is set in the point of view of infants and toddlers.
- In the third movie, Chaz states that its his and Kira's first anniversary, yet the babies don't seem to have aged a day.
- In one episode, "No More Cookies", Angelica tries to refrain from eating her Trademark Favorite Food. Flashbacks show her age from a newborn who is practically bald, to a one-year old baby who is awkwardly learning to walk, to a taller, more confident 2-year old, and finally to a mischievous 3-year old, like she is for most of the series. None of the other babies is given such a clear age progression, although the Mother's Day special briefly shows what Chuckie looked like when he was a year younger and didn't have glasses, as well as one quick scene where Phil and Lil where tinier and had less hair, similar to Tommy.
- This is blatantly used in an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, where Scooby sees a Bad Future where the Monster of the Week has taken over. When he meets Scrappy and Flim Flam, they haven't aged a day. This is jarring in the fact that everyone else has: Daphne is fatter and has noticeable lines, Shaggy has grown a beard and looks older, even Bogel and Weird look older despite being ghosts.
- Though if you take the live action films to be canon, Velma lampshades it by saying something about Scrappy not being a puppy, that he really just has a pituitary gland problem.
- Actually it depends on the series or movie. What's New, Scooby-Doo? and the Direct-To-Video films portray them as adults (in their early 30's to be exact). They are either adults or teens never consistent.
- Scooby-Doo itself has been around for over forty years. This is lampshaded by Shaggy in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
Shaggy: Yeah, we've been teenagers for, like, ever!
- Though no matter what age they are they are always called "Meddling Kids" regardless.
- The Simpsons:
- This concept is parodied in the episode "Behind the Laughter", where in a "documentary" about the show featuring the cast as Animated Actors, Lisa complains about how she was forced to take anti-growth hormones in order to prolong the series. Homer dismisses the idea, noting, "That's ridiculous. How could I even get all five necessary drops into her cereal? ...What?"
- One of the chalkboard gags has Bart writing "I should not be 21 by now".
- Also brought to light in other ways; in early flashback episodes, Homer and Marge attended high school in 1974; in season 19's "That 90s show", Marge then goes on to college almost immediately — but it's now 1994...
- In "That 90s show," Bart also lampshades this trope by saying he's "never heard" of the 90s. Hey, after all, this episode aired in 2008, and Bart is only ten... Just like he was in the first episode in 1989, and during the entire following decade while The Simpsons practically re-defined television!
- One "appearance" in a K-Zone magazine featured Lisa being interviewed: when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said something along the lines of "I used to want to be a jazz musician or the President. Now I just want to be nine!"
- In one episode, Homer muses sadly about how work is keeping him away from his kids. "I'm missing out on Bart's whole childhood. He won't be ten forever!"
- One particularly bad case is "Lisa's First Word". The entire episode is basically one long joke about The '80s, when Lisa was born. Nowadays she can't have been born until this millennium. Pretty much all the flashback episodes must be Canon Discontinuity to some degree.
- To give you an idea of how quickly the show retcons characters' ages, Homer is singing a hit song from 1983 in the flashback to when Marge was pregnant with Lisa. In "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" one season later, she's old enough to speak full sentences in early 1984 (the year Dexy's Midnight Runners was nominated for a Grammy).
- In one episode, Gil moves into their house for the best part of a year, as demonstrated by an Exploding Calendar stopping at each holiday. Notably absent are any of the characters' birthdays, which according to this episode must all take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- One episode centered around reviving the "Angry Dad" character Bart created during the late '90s Internet bubble. Those exact words were stated in the show, and no hint of an explanation whatsoever was given as to why Bart's still ten years old.
- Matt Groening once pointed out in an interview that one of best parts of doing an animated show was the kids didn't have to grow up. He cited the absurd number of times they'd done a show about Bart's tenth birthday as an example.
- Lampshaded in the Couch Gag of the episode "Them, Robot".
- This trope was spoofed in the Season 11 episode "Bart to the Future"; in a scene set 30 years in the future, the family is eating dinner together when Lisa (now President of the United States) asks where Maggie is. Marge reaches down and picks up Maggie, who still looks like a pacifier-sucking baby...and then adds "just like her mommy, Maggie, Sr."
- To sum things up, if The Simpsons had been allowed to grow up, as of now (2016) Bart would be 37 years old (born 1979), Lisa would be either 34 or 35 (born 1981)note , Homer would be 63 (born 1953, which would make him 36 in 1989, but his current age has been retconned to 40), Marge would be 61 (born 1955, which would make her 34 in 1989, but her current age has been retconned to 38), and Maggie would be 28 (born 1988). In the present day, Bart's birth year is now 2006, Lisa's 2008, Homer's 1976, Marge's 1978, and Maggie's 2015.
- Rarely characters have ended up dying of natural causes, but this has never happened to most of the characters at the Springfield Retirement Home, such as Grandpa or Jasper, despite both of them having been in World Wars previously.
- A Robot Chicken sketch lampshades this, at least for Bart.
- In the episode where Apu and Manjula's octuplets are born, Manjula goes from trying to get pregnant for a few months, to being pregnant, to having octuplets, and for those octuplets to be older than Maggie (they're shown to be able to speak a few words while Maggie is still silent) without any of the Simpsons kids ageing a day.
- The boys in South Park took three seasons to go from the third grade to the fourth. The show is now in its twentieth season and they're still in fourth grade.
- In a Simpsons-like (Simpsons Did It!) age fix, the episode "You Have 0 Friends" shows Stan's birth year as 2001... even though there was an episode in the fifth season when the boys went to third grade in a post-9/11 situation.
- Stan is shown having his tenth birthday party, and refers to the other main characters as also being ten. They were eight when the show started, so they are aging, just very slowly.
- Steven Universe. Time in the show progresses roughly with the real world, with the kids' appearances and changing as they become older. It is possible that the trope will still apply to Steven itself, one of his power being to physically age as much as he is mentally. As long as the writers want to keep him a young child, they could! In the episode "Nightmare Hospital", Connie mentions that it's been nearly a year since she wears glasses without lens. It's later shown Steven began the series at twelve and he turns fourteen in a second season episode, "Steven's Birthday". He is physically several years older than he looks however whether he's stunted forever is ambiguous because he seems to be hitting puberty.
- Done rather blatantly in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Despite winning 31 years' worth of Employee of the Month Awards, Spongebob is only 28.
- Subverted in G2 of Strawberry Shortcake. There was a timeskip in 2005 where characters all received new redesigns that aged them up from vaguely seven year olds to vaguely preteens. The other incarnations play the trope straight.
- In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Sonic has two birthdays. Tails is still 4 1/2 over the course of the series.
- When it comes to this trope, female child actors suffer more than male child actors. Girls usually hit puberty a little earlier than boys, and secondary sexual characteristics in general are very difficult to conceal without effort.
- Film studios used to object to child stars growing up. It was not until The '70s did they finally figure out how to manage a smooth upshift from adorable child star to Teen Idol. When Judy Garland was cast in The Wizard of Oz, she had her breasts strapped down in order to look as young as possible for the role of Dorothy Gale. The Suppressed Mammaries, however, were obviously not enough to make her pass for a little girl (as opposed to a 16-year-old), because most 21st-century viewers, who have not read the source material(s), think that Dorothy is supposed to be a teenager. To put it in perspective, the initial casting choice for Dorothy was Shirley Temple who, at the time, fit the book description of the character much better than Judy Garland.
- June Havoc got this treatment from her mother, as seen in Gypsy.
- Shirley Temple was treated as a small child well into her teens. It was only after she got married at the age of seventeen did Louis B. Mayer finally allow her to appear in adult roles and, even then, she failed to become a successful adult actor. She left show business completely after divorcing the Gold Digger and escaping Mayer's slimy clutches. Her last job? America's last Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
- Annette Funicello, on the original Mickey Mouse Club. Before they broke down and accepted it, they pulled many stunts to cover her chest. One method was positioning shorter Mousketeers in front of her, while another involved body doubles and tight closeups on her face. They probably would have canned her if it wasn't for her popularity.
- The Spanish Ur-Example is actress/singer Marisol (real name Josefa Flores), poster child of the heavily censored, family-oriented cinema of the Francoist years. Discovered at 11, in 1959, she also had her breasts bound and was forced to act younger than she was when she hit puberty, although by the end of her decade-long career she'd been allowed to play a teenage ingenue. Then Franco died in The '70s and the tight censorship laws were repealed, allowing the publication of adult magazines - one of which had a whole front page nude by Flores. Much polemic was had, despite the fact that Flores was already 28. It was later said that this nude was the moment when both Marisol and the whole country finally grew up.