"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.
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.
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
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Anime & Manga
- 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.
- Ash and Pikachu from Pokémon 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, 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.
- Also, 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".
- His current English voice actor speaks with a deeper voice than the original, which may be to emulate aging as his age is rarely mentioned anymore.
- 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).
- 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 1/2 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 is a example of the same. 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.
- The original Astro Boy had this in spades. Though the title character is a robot & 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 & if you can avoid it you probably should.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 flashback take place 30 years in the past showing the 1950s Tokyo. One exception is Daijiro Ohara's grandson who is the only character appear to age who started as a toddler now about ten years old.
- Mitsudomoe will always be in the sixth grade, no matter how long it runs. Which is why so many Christmases have passed.
- Dero Dero has a chapter that lampshades this.
- 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.
- A bit of a supernatural one occurs in Spirited Away 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 was released 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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 panels, another character remained an infant.
- 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. 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 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.
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. [beat] 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.
- Many Pokémon fanfics often age Ash by several years if they are set in the later seasons.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 were Not Allowed to Grow Up (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.
- 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.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- 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.
- Remember as well that 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 Rodger 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.
- The Hellsing Crossover fancomic And Shine Heaven Now semi-lampshades this by Annie (by now in her thirties in 1998) claiming that she ages at the quarter of a rate of a normal human, due to being born on February 29th.
- In Luann, the title character and her friends were approximately 15 years old when the strip began in 1985; in the ensuing
decade and a half quarter-century they've advanced to roughly 16 or 17.
- 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, 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.
- 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 all the Kongs except DK himself 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, 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.
- In The Sims, at least the first one, where 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.
- 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 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.
- Huey, Dewey, and Louie in Kingdom Hearts. There is no noticeable difference between their appearance in Birth by Sleep and their appearance in Kingdom Hearts II, 11 years later.
- In quite a few of the Harvest Moon games, you're allowed to get married and have a child. 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.
- While the first three Ace Attorney games take place over three years, all (except a few who change outfits, and only outfits) of the characters keep the same sprites throughout every game. Wright hand waves this, thinking that "maybe it's 'cause we're always together, but she looks pretty much the same to me".
- The official Manga even lampshades the fact that Maya is 19, but looks (and acts) like she was still in her early-to-mid teens. Averted with Trucy and Ema, who grew realistically in the 7 years gap between game 3 and 4.
- Even worse is Pearl. She starts out as 8, in her last appearance she's 10. She should have had a couple of major growth spurts by now, but they still use the same sprite, and her reading comprehension hasn't improved much. However, for the fifth game, Pearl returns and has a noticably more mature sprite, even if her emotes are near identical to the ones she had in earlier games.
- 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.
- Film studios had a particular aversion to child stars growing up to a large extent — how to manage a smooth upshift from adorable child star to Teen Idol wasn't really figured out until The Seventies. The most famous example was Judy Garland, who in The Wizard of Oz had her breasts strapped down so Dorothy Gale would be more childlike. Since most people haven't read the book(s), most modern viewers think Dorothy's supposed to be a teenager.
- To put it in perspective, the initial casting for Dorothy was Shirley Temple, who fits the book description much better than Judy Garland. It worked out better.
- Gary Coleman and Emmanuel Lewis were also cast because they were incapable of "growing up", due to their medical conditions. The former didn't have a happy ending.
- Andy Milonakis has a similar condition that affects the aging process rather than growth; he isn't small in any dimension but still looks like a teenager in his mid-30s.
- June Havoc got this treatment from her mother, as seen in Gypsy.
- Shirley Temple was cast as an eight-year-old until she was well into her teens. In fact, it was only once she got married (at age seventeen, to a man who turned out to be a violently abusive Gold Digger) that Louis B. Mayer allowed her to appear in adult roles. 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.