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Not Growing Up Sucks
Sorry, Baby Doll, but you're stuck on this side of the mirror.

Oskar: Are you really my age?
Eli: Yes, but I've been this age for a very long time.

Some (well, many) kids think Growing Up Sucks. Then there's this. It turns out Immortality Begins at Twenty is only true for a lucky few, because due to some form of Phlebotinum, this child can never grow up. They are forever frozen in their preteens or early teens. If still organic and biologically alive, they will never mature enough to even seem close to becoming Legal Jailbait to the opposite (or same) gender, even if they're not so physically immature as to be entirely incapable of having sex. Thankfully, this usually doesn't come up. Interestingly, their intellect will very likely keep growing throughout their lifetime, but their emotional maturity may or may not undergo a similar growth. They may forever throw tantrums and sulk, or they may well develop an adult mindset or even go beyond it. In any case, expect this thwarted love life to cause them a great deal of frustration if not outright Wangst.

Oh, and in live-action television, there's one more thing to worry about. The actor who plays you is going to keep on aging, so sooner or later they'll probably kill you off. Vampire children are especially susceptible to this.

Common causes for not being able to grow up include but are not limited to: Being a robot, virtual copy, magically animated puppet, being cursed or an Undead Child.

May or may not overlap with Who Wants to Live Forever? and I Hate You, Vampire Dad. Sub-Trope of Blessed with Suck. Not to be confused with Not Allowed to Grow Up, which is about characters being forced to remain the same age via Executive Meddling, not any in-story reason. Closely related to Never Grew Up (which is a voluntary decision by the child to not grow up).

Contrast Elderly Immortal and Born as an Adult.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga 
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund, humans turned vampires don't grow any older than they are. The queen was born as such and would have aged to adulthood had she not decided that being stuck in a constantly childlike state sucked less than being made to bear the child of the people who killed her mother.
  • Czeslaw Meyer from Baccano! has an implied form of this, although that's not as big a problem as being a Guinea Pig.
  • Wynn in the Cowboy Bebop episode "Sympathy For the Devil."
  • Evangeline A. K. McDowell from Mahou Sensei Negima!. However, she can alter her appearance to look adult.
    • It has been stated in chapter 342 that Negi is now the same as Evangeline and will likely be stuck at a young age forever, with the possibility of growing a few years more.
  • In UQ Holder, Touta is perfectly comfortable with his immortality until he learns that this trope applies, and as a result he won't complete puberty and gain a deep, manly voice (kind of important when you want to be a singer in the vein of Louis Armstrong).
  • V.V. from Code Geass is a perfect example, It seems that the immortality in the Code Geass world works keeping your body unchanged so if you receive it being a 10 years old boy you'll be a 10 year old boy forever.
  • For the first 900 years of her life, manga Chibiusa of Sailor Moon is magically kept at the physical age of five until her powers kick in. This is stated to be unnatural even considering the extremely long lifespans of the citizens of crystal Tokyo (such as her twentysomething-looking parents), because of how early it kicked in, but is never fully explained. The first anime, unsurprisingly, avoids the weird subplot entirely.
  • Konata and Yutaka of Lucky Star, paternal cousins, were frozen in their early teen bodies. While Yutaka complains it makes it difficult to find a boyfriend, Otaku Surrogate Konata pragmatially assures herself that many of her fellow otaku would have no problem with it.
  • Angela from Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is several hundred years old but perpetually stuck in the body of a 12 year old girl. She angst about her immortality all over the place but also shows a bit of jealousy toward more developed women.
  • Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Though she'll probably be able to get past it now.
  • In Black Blood Brothers, there is a possible aversion; the younger brother is childlike and innocent, and still loves sweets and toys (and doing silly things, like wall graffiti).
  • Thanks to being what amounts to a collection of organs put into a childlike artificial body, Pinoko from Black Jack is stuck looking like a three-year-old. (Technically, she's eighteen... or one, depending on how you count it). She doesn't gripe about it too often, but it comes up now and then (one story shows she has a fun house mirror in her room so that she reflects as an adult). Her ectoskeleton (which keeps her almost entirely artificial body from collapsing) prevents her from growing, a fact that often upsets her, especially because having the appearance of a 6-years old girl prevents her from living out her romantic feelings for the protagonist the way she would like to.
  • Astro Boy is a Replacement Goldfish permanently frozen at the age his human counterpart Toby died, which was nine-ish or so. Though, in most of the incarnations, Pinocchio Syndrome (and the negative aspects of this trope) is at most brief and sometimes skipped over, because Humans Are Flawed, who wants to be one?
  • In the Mermaid's Scar story of the Mermaid Saga, Masato has been an immortal child for 800 years, and he quite resents it. The only way he can get by without arousing suspicion is by tricking kindly women into loving him, then feeding them Mermaid Flesh so they become his eternal caretakers. If the Mermaid Flesh turns them into Lost Souls instead, or the current caretaker kills herself just to escape him, well, too bad. Time to look for another kind-hearted girl.
  • Presents stars a girl named Kurumi, who after falling asleep at the table on her birthday one night, without receiving presents from her classmates or parents, found herself suddenly far away from home, and unable to age past 10. Now she's an old woman in a child's body, who searches for her missing birthday present.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha gives us Vita, starting in A's. Though it doesn't often come up in the main series, supplementary materials indicate she isn't happy about it. Striker(s)'s supplementaries suggest this may eventually change. Or maybe not.
  • The driving force behind the plot of Petite Princess Yucie, the anime result of combining the settings, characters and story elements of several of the Princess Maker games. Here, an artifact called the Eternal Tiara exists, capable of granting any wish, and several girls of about ten years coincidentally end up trying to prove themselves true princesses (and thus able to use it without getting killed) in order to be worthy of using it. The twist comes when it becomes clear that all of the girls are about 15, and none too pleased about having stopped growing at ten. The reason? A cosmic ploy to give the winner something to wish for when their friends are sacrificed to power the tiara, since it tends to destroy the world its currently in if it isn't used regularly.
  • In an odd case Hinako Ninomiya from Ranma ½ (manga, but not anime) isn't able to stay grown up. Due to a cure for an illness when she really was a child she periodically reverts back to a preteen state until she absorbs enough ki to temporarily age up again. This makes it rather difficult to be taken seriously as a teacher, or woo a potential suitor, since she spends most of her time looking and acting like a 5 year old.
  • Ohno Kei from Take On Me provides a mundane example. She is 26 years old, but looks half her age and thus has trouble finding fellows her age that are willing to date her and she is willing to touch.
  • A bit of a supernatural case in Spirited Away where Yubaba's coddling and spoiling of her son Buu made him physically and mentally a child.
  • The middle child among the Kuonji sisters in They Are My Noble Masters physically looks like a child younger than the youngest sister but she's already an adult.
  • In Arata Kangatari, Kugura deals with this issue upon accepting his Hayagami. He's permanently stuck in a childlike form, though he can use his Hayagami to transform into a more adult form for a short period of time.
  • Chidori Kuruma from Ayashi no Ceres. She is a teenager but has the height, looks and personality of a child until she transforms into her tennyo form, making her look older.
  • According to Rebuild of Evangelion, Eva pilots are immune to aging. Asuka describes this as the "Curse of Eva". (The original series didn't take place over a long enough period of time to see whether this was the case then as well.)
  • Cyborg009 has this affecting the protagonists, especially Ivan Whisky (Cyborg 001), a baby who has not aged since his father turned him into a psychically powered cyborg.
    • The 009 RE:Cyborg movie from 2012 had series protagonist Joe(Cyborg 009) begin with Identity Amnesia — because with the Cyborg team separated and him frozen in a teenager's body, it was decided that he should have his memories wiped every three years to allow him to enjoy a normal life.
  • In Tweeny Witches, Eve and Sheila were punished by being made ageless. Arusu didn't understand how this was a punishment, until they explained that since they can't reach adulthood, they can never reach their full magical potential. Not to mention, since they're stuck as kids, they will never be able to experience adult things like getting married.

     Comic Books 
  • In a departure from the source material (see Literature below), Pinocchio in Fables had to deal with this. The Blue Fairy was, due to her fairy mentality, a Literal Genie when he asked to become a real boy. He got to be a real boy, but he was stuck as one, forever.
  • Lenore from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl. A 10 years old girl, dead for 100 years.
  • Marvel Comics' Agamemnon is immortal but never physically aged beyond 16. There was some Wild Mass Guessing at the time that at one point in the past he was Bucky.
    • Also in Marvel Comics, there's the Eternal Sprite. He was so frustrated at seeing his fellow Eternals do adult things, and always being considered a child, that he masterminded the lobotomized resurrection of all of his peers in order to have access to the power of the Sleeping Celestial and become a human boy. It worked. He got caught. He was killed. We cried.
  • The modern-age Superboy was afflicted with this; a disease that affected only clones was killing him, and the only way Cadmus's scientists could stop it was to halt his aging at 16 years old. After they cured the disease, they couldn't find the aging genome to turn it back on until some time later, during the Young Justice Crisis Crossover "Sins of Youth," when the spell that aged the rest of his teammates to adults started tearing him apart at the genetic level. Cadmus reactivated Superboy's aging, only to have him lose all his powers when the aging spell was lifted. Superboy just could not catch a break back in the day.
  • In the DC Comics story Superman & Batman: Generations, Superman's great granddaughters become this due to an accident. After a century like this, one of them falls in love and decides to give up her powers so she can grow up. She gets them back eventually and then falls under Immortality Begins at Twenty like with normal Kryptonians.
  • One album of the Belgium comic book series Urbanus featured a sorceres who was cursed by her master/mentor to remain a child forever because she abused her powers to turn her brother into a crow. She desperately wants to break the curse because she mentally did mature and now wants a steady relationship, but because of her body still being that of a child she can't get one.
  • In Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, a sect of the Cult of the Unwritten Book are kids who are given surgery to attain eternal youth. The surgeries are quite painful and mutilates the kids severely, and then they start to realize that staying young isn't as great as they thought. So they become the Little Sisters of Our Lady of the Razor, and walk around brandishing knives.
    • Another work by Morrison, Seven Soldiers explored the concept or eternal youth in the superhero community through Alix Harrower (Bulleteer) discovering her husband had an obsession with a website called "Eternal Superteens" which is essentially a website for eternally young superheroines performing pornographic super feats. He was having an online affair with a woman named Sally Sonic, who is a 75 year old British woman trapped in a teenage body who has been broken beyond repair from decades of being used and abused when all she wanted to do was be a hero.
  • One issue of 30 Days of Night had a vampire INFANT that would never be able to grow up.

     Fan Fic 
  • Detians in Undocumented Features can sometimes, if their immortality is activated by traumatic injury, be frozen in their current ages. This is called Edgerton's Syndrome, after the guy who took high-speed pictures of fast-moving objects, freezing the images forever in time.
  • Most people agree that the teenage years suck. Now, imagine if you became undead while a teenager, and were more or less stuck that way forever. This is what happened to Adrius, a Forsaken teenager encountered in Travels Through Azeroth And Outland.
  • Bit of Fridge Horror used in a few Axis Powers Hetalia fics. Nations only age when their countries develop; the Italy brothers were stuck as prepubescents for two hundred years when under the thumb of Austria and Spain. In the 21st century, Sealand is personified by a twelve-year-old boy. He is eternally optimistic about his future, hoping to grow up and become a great empire, but since he has an official population of four people and his "land" is an old World War II fort, this is unlikely. His human name is Peter, which may or may not be a Shout-Out to Peter Pan; either way it's been used as such in fanfic, since he'll presumably be twelve forever.
  • Happens to Sherlock via Applied Phlebotinum in Sailor Chibi's fic, A Slight Miscalculation[1]. His mother did it so she could Raise Him Right This Time. He gets better, but not before getting kidnapped and realizing that his Mother will keep him a child until his mind breaks and nothing of his own mind and personality is left. Brr.
  • In Harry Potter and the Elder Sect Harry gave Voldemort a new body but fixed things so it would be perpetually fourteen.

     Film 
  • In the opening of Day Breakers in a world where nearly everyone on earth has been an unaging bloodsucker for about a decade, a girl vampire leaves a suicide note and sits outside to be kiled by the dawn. Her note describes how she can't take eternal puberty anymore.
  • The child vampire Homer in Near Dark is considerably pissed off by his condition.
  • The boy in The Tin Drum stays a three-year old until he's well into his twenties. He does this out of his own free will, although changes his mind later when he makes this realization.
  • Baby Herman in Who Framed Roger Rabbit smokes humongous cigars, and has "a fifty-year lust and a three-year-old dinky" concerning his nurse. That's not his only problem, as seen in the comics.
  • Let the Right One In is a film about a 12 year old boy's friendship with a vampire who was turned at about the same age.
  • Claudia in Interview With A Vampire felt the pain most keenly.
    Louis: You see the old woman? That will never happen to you. You will never grow old. And you will never die.
    Claudia: And it means something else too, doesn't it? I shall never, ever grow up. Tell me how it came to be that I am this...thing.
  • The entire plot of Orphan.

     Literature 
  • Short story: "Child of All Ages" by P. J. Plauger.
    • Though Melissa had actually come to an acceptance of her eternal childhood. Her real problem was that her friends weren't immortal, and if she befriended children, they inevitably wanted to grow up and thus lost their immortality.
  • Josie in Lois Duncan's Locked In Time has to live forever as a preteen.
  • Ditto in The Supernaturalist, who is a 30-year-old genius with a 6 year old's body.
  • In Tuck Everlasting, Winnie is harshly warned not to drink from the fountain of immortality until she grows older. However, the villain threatens to force her to drink from it so that he can use her as a demonstration for whatever business plans he can concoct.
  • Claudia from The Vampire Chronicles: Interview with the Vampire.
    Louis: You see the old woman? That will never happen to you. You will never grow old. And you will never die.
    Claudia: And it means something else too, doesn't it? I shall never, ever grow up. Tell me how it came to be that I am this...thing.
  • Ben from Castaways of the Flying Dutchman is stuck at about fourteen: just old enough to fall in love, but still young enough that if he stays in one place too long, it will become obvious very quickly that he's not aging.
  • Ysabell in Mort.
  • The Little Vampire: Rüdiger (Rudolph) and his siblings Anna and Lumpi. Lumpi became a vampire while in puberty and will never grow out of this difficult phase. Rüdiger and Anna still seem to be children at heart, despite the fact that they have been vampires for at least 150 years.
  • Seria Mau in M. John Harrison's novel Light. Her physical age is around 30, but her mental age is still around 13; the age when she was voluntarily imprisoned as a K-ship. She is shown to have tantrums and not have the understanding one would expect of a sane, unbroken adult; her body is also unable to grow past the age she was when she merged with her ship.
  • Oskar Matzerath, protagonist & narrator of Günter Grass's The Tin Drum.
  • Vampires Nikolaos, Bartolome, & Valentina in the Anita Blake series.
    • Nikolaos may have been turned as an adult by the standards of her (thousand-plus older) time; at least, she doesn't display any of the mental traits or treatment from others which define this trope. (The other two do... very thoroughly, on all counts).
  • The novel Vamped is set after virtually the entire population of the world has been turned into vampires. Many who were turned as a child have essentially gone insane from the change, or because they have an adult's mind trapped in a child's body. They are known as "Screamers" because of this.
  • Peter Pan sometimes, ever-so-briefly, laments that he can never have a family or know love because he can't grow up, as seen at the end of the story after he drops Wendy and the Lost Boys off at Wendy's home and watches them through the window. Hook later took this and ran with it.
  • In the Honor Harrington universe, most of the characters have Prolong. It slows down aging and almost halts physical development when the person appears to be in there early—very early—twenties. While this means that someone chronologically 90 is physically 30, it has the unfortunate side effect of extending puberty through your early twenties. Most midshipmen and midshipwomen fresh from the academy look like they're 13, even though they're at least ten years older.
  • In chapter 25 of The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio's desire to Become a Real Boy comes from a desire to grow up.
  • The novel Postmortal plays with this. The premise is that a scientist has found a cure for aging, and whoever takes the cure will remain the same age until they die, which may not be for hundreds of years. No one is supposed to take the cure before age twenty-six, but one mother gave her eight-month-old daughter the cure, ensuring she would never learn to walk or talk. Another example comes from a forty-two-year-old former supermodel who was bribed to get the cure at age eighteen, and feels compelled to act like a teenager: get drunk, play dumb, and party, even though she regrets not having the chance to experience maturity.
  • The titular character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series is unable to mature past the age of fifteen due to an accident involving dragon's blood.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Simon is dismayed at being sixteen forever, saying that it's one thing to be frozen at twenty-five but looking how he is he is never going to grow into his features. Or get a drink. And there's the fact that he's going to far outlive his friends.
  • Molly Harper's Nice Girls series has a mild example: Ophelia looks perpetually fourteen, which isn't so bad, but vampires are usually turned as adults, specifically because of this trope. Hence, having a love life is a problem when she looks like jailbait. Eventually, a cute teenage boy she has a crush on gets turned, so they don't get funny looks when people see them together.
  • The alien Tendu of The Color Of Distance have a version of this. Once they've undergone enough metamorphosis to be intelligent, speak, and have allu, they can halt the degradations of age and potentially live forever. They can remain in that first intelligent stage for hundreds of years until deliberately boosted into full adulthood, taking responsibility for things. The life stage just before sentience, which has them working as semi-intelligent servants to older Tendu, physically can't speak, is considered a beast of burden, and lives for about thirty years before age weakens them and they die. For every mature Tendu there are countless subadults never given the triggers to change, and dying of old age as "children".
  • Ukiah Oregon's half-alien nature means that past about the age of twelve, he only ages when injured. In the tribe he was born to as "Magic Boy" he lived for two hundred years like this, shielded from anything worse than minor bruises and cuts that would only advance him a few days and so unaware of the effect injuries would have. He resented and was afraid of this, and even as he settled into an odd position of being passed from generation to generation, caring for and playing with each new child, he thought of himself as a stunted freak and dreaded when each growing child started to outgrow him and become interested in a world he couldn't know.

     Live Action TV 
  • A Monster of the Week in the final season of Forever Knight was Lucien LaCroix's step-daughter Divia, circa eight years old when she was turned (and who in turn sired LaCroix into vampirehood). In life, LaCroix was Roman general Lucius from Pompeii; Divia turned LaCroix the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted. She was a "child" for over 1900 years.
  • In Highlander there was the child immortal, Kenny. He would never age, and as such had difficulty creating new identities for himself, getting work, would never be able to date. He had severe physical disadvantages compared to other immortals as well. He allowed his frustration over all of this to send him over quite a few Moral Event Horizons. He learned to convince powerful immortals to 'adopt' him, and then slayed them when they were vulnerable, such as being asleep. In one case, due to the interference of an immortal's mortal wife, he slew her. The widower then hunted down the child immortal, until he met Duncan MacLeod, the child's current protector. Duncan managed to create mental justifications for the child until he found out that the innocent that had been slain was mortal, and thus not a valid target for the mutual immortal hunt.
  • There was a Monster of the Week on Moonlight who was a vamp stuck in puberty for 200 years.
    • Even better, he's been channelling his rage into killing prostitutes.
  • SCTV has a humorous aversion featuring Martin Short as the former child actor of the in-universe long-running comedy series "Oh, That Rusty!" and the increasingly ridiculous steps he takes over the years, such as casting overtall basketball players as adults, just so he can remain being seen as the kid hero of his series.
  • In So Weird episode Rebecca, an old friend of Fiona's mother bumps into her again- not that she would recognize her, as Rebecca looks exactly the same as they did 30 years or so ago as teenagers. Turns out she's not trapped in time, it just takes her 100 years to age a normal person's one year. Go figure.
  • Vampire series True Blood has Jessica, recently turned into a vampire, who now lives with her "maker" Bill instead of her uptight Christian family. Now she has the freedom to do almost anything she wants, including getting a human boyfriend; but to her dismay she has to discover that after sex her hymen grows back. Every time. Seriously.
    • There is also Godric, Eric's maker, who is over 2000 years old, but looks like roughly 16. It's not really clear if his apparent age has any disadvantages for him, although Eric did complain at first (he felt that "Death" should look more impressive).
    • One of the Council members of the Authority seemed to be somewhere around eleven or twelve, but was implied to have been that way for a very long time (just being on the Council to begin with, for starters). He also proved that just because a vampire has the body of a child, it doesn't mean they have the intellect, ambition or "appetites" of one. Or the vocabulary.
  • The Vampire Diaries has Anna, a girl who looks about 15, but is actually much older than the Salvatore brothers. At least Stefan might count, too, being eternally stuck at 17.
    • Caroline is recently stuck at 17 and Elena at 18
  • Truth in Television example: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit did an episode about a young woman, chronologically an adult, whose rare medical condition kept her permanently looking about 11 years old. Her consensual relationship with an adult man caused a lot of Squick, the more so in that he's implied to be a pedophile who only likes her because she looks prepubescent. Her parents, naturally, want him busted for rape because they think of her as a child.
    • The episode was pretty balanced about it though. Some members of the team were uncomfortable, but others were okay with it. Wong felt that it was good for the girl and a healthy outlet for the guy.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer briefly featured a child vampire known as The Anointed One. Joss Whedon later said that they'd originally planned to have him be a major villain in Season 2, but ended up killing him off early on because the actor was growing up faster than they'd figured on.
  • Being Human's third season had an episode with a forty year old vampire who was still stuck as a teenager. He had been taken care of by his family, but when they died of old age he was left alone to fend for himself. Complicated by him still being mentally 14 as well as physically.
  • My Babysitter's a Vampire introduced a member of the Vampire Council who resembles an 8-10 year old girl in the second season. This creates serious Fridge Logic issues as several members of the main cast were turned at age 14-17 in the movie and now look two years older.

    Tabletop Games 

    Videogames 
  • Aion has a Daeva in Sanctum explain that she became a Daeva at a very young age, and so still looks very young (the player has the option of making a childlike character as well). This could be a subversion, as she doesn't seem troubled by it at all, but it provides some Fridge thinking on the subject.
  • Porky in Mother 3 - and is also a Time Abyss.
    • However, Porky is a special case. While he aged physically - by the time you encounter him he's a decrepit old man on life support - mentally he's still the selfish spoiled brat he was in Earthbound.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a race of forest-dwellers called the Kokiri, who are born directly from the Deku Tree somehow... Only one of them seems to care about the fact that they can't grow up, but their physical deficiencies are a big deal when monsters move into the forest. This trope is more seen by Link (and the player,) because it comes as a surprise to him when the Kokiri children he was raised with haven't aged a day after seven years.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Presea Combatir was subjected to an experiment when she was a child, giving her immense physical strength but severely suppressing her emotions and stopping her from aging. After regaining her emotions and learning of just what she has been made to do all these years, she has a breakdown. It's revealed that she's actually 28 years old chronologically, yet still looks no older than 12. In the epilogue, she says that she's growing normally again.
  • Babette from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a 300+ year old vampire who was turned when she was a child. She puts the Cheerful Child facade to good use on her assassination missions for the Dark Brotherhood, but she's pretty straightforward about not really being kid anymore. As she puts it, she's no more a child than the protagonist is. She looks and sounds exactly like other little girls in the game (except for the telltale red eyes and fangs) but comes across as one of the most mature and level-headed members of the Brotherhood (which admittedly isn't that much of an accomplishment since they are a cult of death-worshippers). Babette doesn't really seem to mind her condition — most vampires in the series are evil/sociopathic and don't really care about little things like "love", so no "never being able to grow up and marry someone" angst for Babette.
  • Alice from Nightfall Mysteries: Asylum Conspiracy was a late 20s/early 30s woman who'd never aged physically past ten or eleven for some unexplained medical reason. Her brother was a normal adult.
  • Implied in Ib. Mary is actually a painting, and while it's not known when exactly she was created, she doesn't look a day older than when she was painted. At one point she wonders aloud why adults are so tall and declares she wants to grow up soon, and if you talk to her in a bonus area in the update of the game, she rattles off a list of jobs she wants to have when she grows up.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Aoi Shiro, we have the oni Kohaku who got frozen in age as a young teenage girl. Kohaku resents this mostly because being stuck in the body of young teenage girl makes her a worse fighter. Aoi Shiro also has Yasuhime and Nami stuck in young girls' bodies although they don't angst about it during the game.
  • Ilya from Fate/stay night is about twenty. While not on business, she appears to be quite a Cheerful Child, but there's a ruthless, realistic side hidden under the Cheerful Child facade, one that will break through nearly anything to accomplish what she wants. It's not really surprising, since she is Kiritsugu's daughter. She doesn't mind looking so young, and her eventual early death from Clone Degeneration is something that she accepts with only mild feelings of melancholy.

    Web Comics 
  • One of the main themes is Homestuck: frequently characters deal with issues of maturity, and there are a plethora of versions of them that are permanently stuck as teenagers. It should also be noted that the main antagonist is completely unable to emotionally mature- the being responsible for the destruction of multiple universes and obliteration of ghosts has the mind set of roughly a twelve year old human
    • Additionally, one need only look at the beta trolls (Kankri's group). They have, with the sole exception of Meenah, been dead for several thousand, or perhaps million, years. As a result, they are stuck in severe mental ruts.
  • Robert from the webcomic Eros Inc. isn't human, but he looks and talks like a human baby (gun obsession notwithstanding).
  • Avatar from Far Out There deals with this as part of her indestructibility (among other inconveniences).
  • In the Jack arc "Megan's Run," Susan Lancaster and Megan Fairchild are not only not able to die, get sick, or remain injured, but neither will grow old or mature any more than their current state.
  • Forever Boy from Sidekick Girl. He was a forty-something who stopped aging around age 12. It eventually drove him insane.
  • A slight variation: Chibi Sue of Ghastly's Ghastly Comic is the only Super-Deformed person in her hometown, and perpetually looks like a child to the normal human populace, despite being thirty-six. Thanks to this, she's still a virgin because she's creeped out by the idea of paedophiles using her as a substitute (one could argue it's preferable to the alternatives, but the poor woman's allowed her squicks). Cybersex doesn't work either, as she has no fingers and can't type properly.
  • Completely averted by Vampire Cheerleaders. They're all actually rather happy to have eternally youthful forms, and even seem to be able to head through Vegas casinos and other seemingly adult situations without hindrance, though some tactical vampiric hypnotism probably helps there; their biggest source of angst is that they have to keep switching schools every couple of years to avoid suspicion and always have to deal with new groups of inexperienced cheerleaders.
  • In the The Order of the Stick prequel Start of Darkness, Redcloak's brother Right-Eye believes that the ageless immortality the Crimson Mantle bestows upon Redcloak has frozen him not only physically but mentally as well. Even decades later, Redcloak is still the same angry teenager who first put on the Mantle. Redcloak doesn't agree.

    Web Original 
  • Paul Twister was 19 when he got pulled from the modern world into the fantasy world he's been trapped in ever since. Ten years later, he's still 19, physically, and rather resentful about it. This is technically closer to Immortality Begins at Twenty in terms of physical age, but Paul's attitude towards it is purely this trope, mostly because he's too young for many people to take seriously, (not that he doesn't take advantage of that at times,) and because his teen-level hormones are hard to keep under control sometimes.

     Western Animation 
  • Mordred in Justice League. This was bad enough, but infinitely preferable to ending up with eternal life without eternal youth.
  • In Wakko's Wish, King Salazar is contemplating what he will wish for, leading him to ponder eternal youth, to which Dot gives us this zinger:
    "So you'd be 16 forever. You'd have zits, no car, and no-one would ever date you."
  • The page image is from the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Baby Doll." The titular character is a former actress with a genetic condition that severely stunted her growth (but not her mental development), who made a career out of playing a toddler on a popular sitcom. After she left the show she couldn't find work, due to no one being able to take her seriously, leading her to become a villain and kidnap all her old fellow cast members.
  • Tutenstein features the Undead Child version. Since boy-king Tutankhensetamun died at the age of ten, his reign was cut short and he never had the chance to do great deeds and make a name for himself as pharaoh. Once he's resurrected as a mummy, he tries to make up for lost time, and Hilarity Ensues (as well as Fridge Horror, since Tut gets several chances to escape the trope and grow up, but always ruins them through childish mistakes).
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: According to Edward Kay, Heloise will "always be fourteen-ish." He, however, refuses to say exactly why.
  • After the five year Time Skip in Young Justice, Superboy still looks the same. One of the side effects of the cloning process that created him is that he will never age externally. Superboy clarifies that he's not immortal since he still ages internally.

     Real Life 
  • Brooke Greenberg had the body and mind of a toddler right up to her death in 2013 at the age of 20.
  • Turner's Syndrome is one of a number of genetic disorders that can result in the appearance of extreme youth.
  • Many low-functioning, non-verbal autistic kids (which make up less than 10% of all diagnoses) have this issue. Those with higher-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome can, and very often do, function as adults without insurmountable problems. When they can't, it's usually a case of My Beloved Smother and/or Meddling Parents, though this is rare.
  • Bart de Graaf was a well known Dutch television presenter who suffered a growth disorder which caused him to look and sound 12 for most of his life.
  • Would you believe Andy Milonakis is 36 years old?
  • Gary Coleman, though his issues were caused by drugs used to treat his kidney disease to that stunted his growth.
  • Nicky Freeman has a condition in which despite being 40, he has the body of a 10 year old. Though his condition has left him blind and mute. He along with Brooke Greenburg are labeled as "Benjamin Button Children"


Non-Malicious MonsterOtherness TropesNot Rare Over There
No Immortal InertiaThis Index Will Live ForeverThe Older Immortal
Ninja BratYoungstersNot Allowed to Grow Up
Not Allowed to Grow UpAging TropesOlder Alter Ego
Lightning RevealImageSource/Western AnimationOffhand Backhand

alternative title(s): Cant Grow Up; ptitlepyuuadg0; Under Grown Up
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