->''Always being one.\\
Never being two.\\
Re-arrange the furniture,\\
There's nothing else to do.\\
Keep an empty house.\\
Watch your brothers wed.\\
Dream an empty dream at night\\
Upon an empty bed.\\
Old maid! Old maid!''
-->--'''Lizzie''', ''Theatre/OneTenInTheShade'', "Old Maid"

When a female character reaches a certain vaguely-defined age threshold, she will eventually be subjected to the most terrible of insults: '''"Old Maid"'''. The underlying assumption is, of course, that a woman's value exists only in how successfully she serves and pleases her husband and family, so a woman who is unable to snag a husband is [[LoserProtagonist a pathetic worthless failure at life]] who deserves contempt and ridicule, particularly in older stories from times where traditional gender roles were more strongly enforced. A woman doesn't even have to be called an old maid outright to be threatened; even the hint that someday she ''might become'' an old maid -- usually because she's not acting in a [[AcceptableFeminineGoals sufficiently conformist]] way -- is enough to make her either conform or fall into despair.

The insult is still used today, but mostly as a generic inflammatory comment towards women that the speaker doesn't like. Reference will often be made to [[CrazyCatLady cats]], [[HollywoodHomely homely appearance]], [[{{Jerkass}} unlikable demeanor]], [[FriendlessBackground loneliness]], and [[TheMillstone uselessness]]. Nosy parents who are [[IWantGrandkids wanting for grandkids]] or are worried about their child's happiness are a rife source of this, as well.

While not invariable, the reasons for their never marrying may bring them more or less sympathy. Never marrying after the intended bridegroom of an ArrangedMarriage died may be regarded as honorable; if it was a love match, it may be regarded as romantic. This can apply also if the man had to marry for reasons of honor -- or state. Having your heart broken by a cad, or quarreling with a sweetheart, may also be romantic, and makes the character less pathetic than an old maid who never managed to attract anyone -- but the ProudBeauty who rejected a whole slew of offers only to find her beauty faded and herself unable to attract a man may be regarded as suffering LaserGuidedKarma.

The relatively rare romance is usually DecemberDecemberRomance. The commonest plot is NewOldFlame for an old maid who quarreled with her love. A SecondLove is possibly for a woman whose true love is deceased. OldFlameFizzle is rare but not unknown. This is sometimes reinforced with tropes like MenGetOldWomenGetReplaced, with women leaving the main story after they grow old or start families.

Old Maid is a [[{{supertrope}} parent trope]] to the following {{subtrope}}s:

* ChristmasCake: Japanese consider 25 to be a defined moment in which women become "Old" Maids. (Note this may not be TruthInTelevision, but the term is strictly defined and commonly used in the culture.)
* MaidenAunt: Old Maids who have remained unmarried and (theoretically) virginal into their twilight years, transferring their resources and familial affection to their siblings' children.

All other examples should be listed here. [[DistaffCounterpart Male counterparts]] to this would be the result of LonersAreFreaks and YouNeedToGetLaid. Compare and contrast WhiteDwarfStarlet.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''LightNovel/DestructionFlagOtome''
** Katarina's personal maid Anne is in her early 20s and approaching the point where women find it difficult marry. Katarina and her father, duke Claes, are both worried about her not being able to get married, so when Anne's father comes with a marriage partner the duke is relieved. However, Katarina can't bear to part from her maid and close friend and begs her not to go, leaving Anne to call it off. However, Anne is secretly relieved because even apart from her proposed fiancee being a creep, she doesn't like her own father and didn't want to get married in the first place. She's much happier serving Katarina and truly adores her, so becoming an old maid isn't just okay, it's actually what she wants. If she doesn't marry she can stay with Katarina forever.
** The head maid is a straighter example. She wasn't as pretty or outgoing as her sisters, so she focused on her career instead. When she got promoted to head maid she focused even harder to show she deserved the job. Before she knew it, she had become the strict no fun boss that nobody really likes even though she's actually quite a kind person and has lots of girly hobbies like making sweets. Katarina helps her open up a little and, unlike Anne, she ''was'' rather lonely and is surprised to find a young gardener courting her not long after.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* ''FanFic/NotAsPlanned'' is about a girl from our modern world who falls into ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', but has no chance to marry famous characters like Legolas or Aragorn. When the girl is twenty, she is already an old maid. To escape this label, she enters a loveless marriage.

* ''Film/{{Airplane}}'' is an American film but has a character bemoaning the fact she is twenty-six and still not married.
* ''Film/AnAutumnAfternoon'': The fear of Michiko becoming one drives Shuhei's desire to find her a husband, and thus most of the movie's plot.
* In ''Film/DarbyOGillAndTheLittlePeople'' Katie gets warnings about becoming one of these if she doesn't settle down soon.
* Katherine Hepburn fit this trope in at least three different leading roles: ''Film/TheAfricanQueen'', ''Summertime'' and ''The Rainmaker''.
* ''Film/TheHeiress'' plays with this trope and ends up being one of the few works to portray it ''positively''; the main character never marries her GoldDigger love interest or anyone, and is shown to embrace spinsterhood and be confident in herself in a way she never was when she had to worry about the prospects of marriage.
* A notable example in ''Film/ItsAWonderfulLife'': when George wishes he never existed, he discovers, to his horror, that his wife is (gasp) an old maid.
* Toula of ''Film/MyBigFatGreekWedding'' is only 30, but her parents seem to think she needs to get married ''right away''.
* The title character in the 1930s film ''Film/TheOldMaid''.
* In Alfred Hitchcock's ''Film/{{Psycho}},'' Marion is motivated to set the film's action in motion[[spoiler: that is, steal $40,000, and run off with it in order to pay off her boyfriend's debts so he can marry her]] in part because she is over 35, and desperate to get married. The film was released in 1960, and audiences believed this character motivation. When Gus Van Sant remade the film shot-for-shot in 1998, with a younger Anne Heche as Marion, the motive vanishes. Aside from the age of the character, an audience in 1998 was not inclined to believe a woman would [[spoiler: commit a felony]] to avoid being an old maid.
* In ''Film/RobinHood2010'', it is mentioned that Lady Marion didn't marry until her early thirties, and was already established as an old maid by that time.

* In the card game, the point is to avoid being stuck with the Old Maid card, the only unmatched one in the deck.

* Charlotte of ''Literature/PrideAndPrejudice''. This concern only really shows up when Elizabeth objects to Charlotte marrying Mr. Collins under the assumption she's doing it to help Elizabeth's family. Charlotte tells Elizabeth point blank that she [Charlotte] is a 27-year-old single woman with no prospects and no family—the fact that the marriage also helps solve a problem of the Bennetts is only an added incentive.
* [[DramaQueen On her eighteenth birthday,]] [[Literature/{{Twilight}} Bella Swan]] has nightmares that she has turned into an ancient lady and her forever-young vampire boyfriend Edward [[strike:won't love her anymore]]''will keep loving her and treating her just the same''. (Visualize a world-class handsome young man tending to an extremely old woman in a wheelchair, and adolescent, utterly lovestruck expression on his face as he gently caters to her every need while whispering the cheesiest, kindest, ''sincerest'' terms of endearment...)
* Avoiding becoming an Old Maid is the motivation of Irma Prunesquallor in ''Literature/{{Gormenghast}}''. She marries an eighty-six year old man out of desperation, meeting him after holding a party with no women invited, wherein the only invitees were hopelessly pathetic professors of the castle's school.
* ''Literature/WashingtonSquare'' plays with this trope and ends up being one of the few works to portray it ''positively''; the main character never marries her GoldDigger love interest or anyone, and is shown to embrace spinsterhood and be confident in herself in a way she never was when she had to worry about the prospects of marriage.
* ''Literature/BridgetJones'' considers herself to be a spinster, though she is just over thirty and has had some serious relationsships, so she could as well see herself as a young modern woman.
* Alix Crown in ''Literature/QuillsWindow'' is an especially blatant example, as she is attractive and wealthy in addition to being single at twenty-five. Incidentally, she does have a good reason for this, as legally she would stand to lose many of her legal rights if she were to get married.
* ''Literature/SenseAndSensibility'':
** Elinor is only 19, but based upon easy-going remarks from acquaintances (that aren't meant to be cruel but still hurt Elinor), a few people think she should marry soon.
*** For the 1995 film adaptation, Elinor was aged up from 19 to 27, because Ang Lee, the director, thought that a 19-year-old worrying about spinsterhood would strain the modern audience's credulity.
** The trope is alluded to by Marianne, who notes that a woman of 16 would be lucky to marry the 35-year-old Colonel Brandon since she's past the age at which she could properly feel anything anyway.
* In the [[LittleHouseOnThePrairie Little House]] books starring Laura's daughter, Rose, the Wilders board an old maid teacher. Rose's town friend, Blanche Coday, sings a mean song about how she must be ugly if no one wants to marry her. Rose asks her why, thinking to herself that her blind Aunt Mary is an old maid. Blanche basically shrugs and says that what everyone says. After some mishaps, the teacher ''does'' end up married.
* Jo of Literature/LittleWomen was originally meant to be this, as Alcott was quite intent on showing that marriage is not the most important thing in the life of a woman and being an old maid is perfectly okay. Sadly, she had to give in to [[FanDumb fan pressure]].
* In ''Literature/{{Persuasion}}'' by Creator/JaneAusten, the female lead character, Anne Elliot is considered nearly unmarriagable due to her age -- she's 27.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'': [[RebelliousPrincess Arianne Martell]] is only 23, but is considered to be one of these. After all, she lives in a world where marriage at 14 is far from unheard of. Still, while ''she'' wants to get married, she doesn't suffer the usual social consequences of being a so-called OldMaid -- after all, she is a princess and the heiress of Dorne, she is obviously very attractive and can lead a sexually liberated life and lives in a region where contempt for unmarried women is mostly non-existent, in contrast for the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.
* In ''Literature/TheThornBirds'', this idea is referenced several times. Meggie is nearly twenty-five and has never dated due to her continued love for Father Ralph. This leads her to quickly marry Luke O'Neill. Meggie's daughter, Justine is similar, at the end of the novel, she is nearly thirty, and is not close to marriage, but ends up finding love in her longtime friend, Rain.
* Charlotte M. Yonge's ''The Clever Woman of the Family'' (1865) achieves two twists on this trope: At the beginning of the book, Rachel is secretly happy to have reached age 25 without marrying, because her family no longer expects her to marry, and she would prefer to be an old maid. By the end of the book, though, Rachel has married, in spite of her age and disinclination.
* In ''Literature/LonelyWerewolfGirl'' Thrix falls (reluctantly) into this category, not so much due to her being a werwolf with a borderline psychotic family, but more to her being a chronic workaholic.
* ''Literature/GoneWithTheWind'':
** Scarlett is not an example, but she considers herself to be unmarriageable at ''19 years old'', worrying that her chances for remarrying are slim due to her age, ("Men always prefer silly young things") and the fact that she is also a widow with a child. Scarlett eventually marries two other times, she wasn't so much worried about remarrying (with the exception of Ashley), she was more worried about being considered homely and unattractive.
** The book refers to a woman who is considered a spinster at 25. Extreme example but JustifiedTrope considering that girls married very young in those days.
* ''Literature/TheGargoyle'': Trope is referenced by name and explained in relation to Sayuri and her family; she disregards the 'rule' and goes off to America, where [[spoiler:she eventually meets and marries a man named Gregor, although the wedding comes [[ShotgunWedding a bit late]], and well after 25.]]
* In ''Literature/TheAgeOfInnocence'', Newland Archer's sister Janie is indicated to be approaching this point. When her mother balks at giving away her wedding dress, wanting to save it for her daughter, she is reminded that Janie is "nearing the age where pearl grey poplin and no bridesmaids would be more appropriate", rather than the elaborate ceremonies meant for younger brides.
* Creator/VCAndrews:
** In ''Literature/GardenOfShadows'', Olivia mentions that at 24 years old she was already considered an "old maid." She rapidly deludes herself into thinking that she loves Malcolm Foxworth because she believes she will never have another chance at marriage.
** Olivia Gordon of the Literature/LoganSeries marries a man she doesn't love -- partly to show that she can land a wealthy man like her sister, but also because she's close to this trope and all the girls who attended school with her are now married.
** In the De Beers series, Willow's cousin Margaret worries about being too old for marriage and is envious of Willow marrying young.
** An extreme example is mentioned in ''Literature/{{Heaven}}''. The hill people marry ''very'' young (Heaven's own mother was 13 when she married). Heaven's grandmother advises her to wait until 15, considered a daringly late age, because she would then be old enough to make a sensible choice.
* Creator/LMMontgomery visits the topic of the old maid and MaidenAunt frequently in her books. Often the old maid character was either prevented from marriage by an overbearing father, or a quarrel, or an outstanding duty to a family member (something Montgomery herself was familiar with, as she delayed her own marriage many years in order to take care of her grandmother.) Some specific examples:
** Marilla Cuthbert in ''Literature/AnneOfGreenGables'' was courted by John Blythe, but they had an argument for which Marilla was too proud to forgive him. By the time she came to regret this, John had moved on, eventually marrying another woman and having a son with her. Later in life, Marilla takes some consolation in the fact that John's son Gilbert and her adopted daughter Anne have fallen in love and married.
** Miss Lavendar Lewis in ''Anne of Avonlea'' has a similar story: her engagement to marry Stephen Irving broke off due to a quarrel, after which Stephen moved to America and Lavendar became an old maid. This time, however, the story has a happier ending. Now a widower, Stephen sends his young son Paul to attend school in Avonlea while Anne is teaching there, around the same time that Anne meets and befriends Miss Lavendar. On a whim, Anne introduces Lavendar to Paul, who writes a letter to his father... which inspires Stephen to return to Avonlea and ask Lavendar to marry him.
** In "The Materialization of Duncan [=McTavish=]", an old maid tells some girls that she had once had a romance and quarreled with him, to prevent their pity and contempt. It works at first -- she becomes popular and interesting for the first time in decades. Then... well, the title tells you the rest of the plot. [[spoiler:They do end up married.]]
** In ''Literature/EmilyOfNewMoon'' -- book three -- ''Emily's Quest,'' the Murray family eventually gives up on finding Emily a husband, concluding that, eccentric, artistic, and temperamental as she is, she'll never settle down to be a proper housewife.
* ''Literature/ARoseForEmily'' tells the story of Emily Grierson, an old maid whose father dominated her and kept her from ever meeting men. She took up with a handsome fellow, but just as it seemed things were getting serious, he vanished. The townspeople therefore refer to her and treat her as an OldMaid, but are never really sure...
* In Creator/StephanieBurgis's ''[[Literature/KatIncorrigible A Most Improper Magick]]'', Stepmama's friends commiserate with her, marrying a man UnableToSupportAWife in a suitable style -- but Kat knows that she snatched him because she was already aging unwed.
* ''Domina'' Adelheid von Stechlin and the other members of the foundation for unmarried noblewomen in Kloster Wutz in Theodor Fontane's ''Literature/DerStechlin''.
* Amer of ''Literature/ToothAndClaw'', despite the fact that she, like every other character in the story, is a dragon. Her role as a servant to the Agornin establishment is implied to have saved her from the fate most female dragons in her situation would've suffered. In the setting, a female is either a maiden, married... or dinner.
* In ''Literature/TheParasolProtectorate'' series. Alexia Tarrabotti is considered a spinster in the alternate Victorian world the books and manga take place in, though she would still be considered rather young by modern standards.
* In ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', there is a family of old maids, who sell their business to Jerin's sisters because they don't have any daughters who could inherit it. As women in this culture are of marriageable age as long as one of their sisters is fertile, they are really ''old'' maids.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* On ''Series/TheDickVanDykeShow'', all of Sally's [[NoGuyWantsToBeChased man chasing]] was due to her fear of becoming an Old Maid. During the run of the show the actress (and by extension the character) turned 40, which even ''now'' is considered pretty old for a never-been-married woman who doesn't want to stay unmarried.
* At least one character in ''Series/SexAndTheCity'' obsessed over becoming an old maid when she hit her late 30s unmarried.
* Considering ''Series/DesperateHousewives'' stars characters that all seem to be constantly fluctuating between married and single in their mid 40's. This either averts the trope or plays it straight with everyone rapidly seeking relationships to avoid this.
* The titular ''Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman'' calls herself this, depressed about her looming 35th birthday with no husband to speak of, a major taboo in those days.
* Liz Lemon's constant worry in ''Series/ThirtyRock''; her parents bother her about it, too. "It's Never Too Late For Now" has her temporarily embracing "spinsterhood", wearing baggy clothing and a Chip Clip in her hair and adopting a stray cat, which she names Emily Dickinson in the wake of the end of her relationship with Carol. This ends in Season 6, when she gets herself a good boyfriend; and is confirmed done in Season 7, when she gets married.
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', there is the vaguely Literature/BridgetJones-esque companion Donna. She was going to get married right before The Doctor poofed into her life, however. Literally, it's her wedding day. On the other hand, in a flashback, she was seen begging her boyfriend to get married and [[spoiler:the wedding was only being held to keep her around for a nefarious plot her fiancé centered around her and the coffee she drank every morning]]. Still, she did wind up happily married in ''Forest of the Dead''. [[spoiler:This ends rather abruptly, when it turns out that her children don't really exist and she and her husband were actually "saved" in the dream world of a [[PoweredByAForsakenChild child-computer]] and the two are "uploaded" along with everything else. She figures that her husband never existed and leaves just as he calls out to her before being teleported home]]. Poor Donna has terrible luck... She finally gets married at the end of ''[[spoiler:The End Of Time]]''.
* The unbelievably stunning Joan in ''Series/MadMen'' would nevertheless appear to be headed this way, judging by the reaction in an episode when an ex-boyfriend distributed a photocopy of her driver's license with the birthdate circled; she's 31, which is pretty far along for a single woman in 1962. Perhaps in panic, she found a nice doctor a year or so later and married him. No more waiting for her MUCH older lover to divorce his wife. Except, as it turns out, he's [[spoiler:a [[RapeAsDrama complete]] [[BreakTheCutie douchebag]], who doesn't get the surgical position he desires and joins the army (just in time for UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar). She ''does'' end up having a child--by Roger, the aforementioned older lover, while her dick of a husband is away. However, things don't quite work out between her and Roger--she ends up divorcing her surgeon husband and embracing the life of the successful professional single mother, ending up founding her own production company for promotional films, while Roger (who, it should be noted, always keeps a soft spot for Joan even if they aren't currently together), after marrying and ditching his even-younger secretary, ends up with Don's second ex-wife's possibly-divorced (Quebec in the '70s wasn't entirely liberated) mother.]]
* ''Series/TheNanny'':
** Fran Fine has more in common with the looming age limit variant of this trope, especially during the early seasons of the series.
** C.C. Babcock is a more subdued version. She's in her thirties and not married, and she keeps thinking she will end up with Fran's boss.
* Deanna Troi on ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', at least as far as her mother is concerned. Notable in that Lwaxana never thought being married should restrict her activities except for who she slept with, and holds the same views with regards to her daughter; she just wishes her daughter would hurry up and get hitched. Which she does, [[spoiler:to a human Starfleet Officer ([[NumberOne Riker]]); following in her mother's footsteps.]]
* ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'''s [[BellyDancer snake charmer Ruthie]] (who has a son and has no intention of getting married), [[TheVamp bearded lady Lila]] (whose whatever-that-is relationship with Lodz isn't marriage), and [[TheDragon Iris]] [[MagnificentBastard Crowe]] (whose [[BrotherSisterIncest relationship]] with her [[DarkMessiah brother]] doesn't leave too much time for getting married).
* The title character of ''Series/AllyMcBeal'' is severely insecure about her age, her inability to form a viable relationship with a man and her "biological clock". These insecurities of her is often the butt of other (similarly aged and unmarried) female characters' jokes, but it is implied that she is just being crazy over nothing, and her actually celebrating her [=32nd=] birthday (instead of, you know, spending the day wanting to die) in the show's last season is treated as a sign of huge character growth.
* ''Series/DowntonAbbey'' (Edwardian Era England):
** Lady Mary borders on this trope when she's still unmarried in her mid-20s. - Violet is keen to see her get married "before the bloom is quite gone off the rose." [[spoiler: After her husband Matthew dies, this problem shows up with Mary again, although being a widow is more respectable than being a spinster.]]
** After Mary marries Matthew and Sibyl marries Branson, the parents start to wonder about Edith (who repeatedly worries that she is to become the "maiden aunt", and whom Cora commented was most likely to take care of her parents in old age).
* Lampshaded by Eun Bi from ''Series/FlowerBoyRamyunShop'' in the first episode when she laments that nobody will want to date her since she's twenty-five.
* Chilean night SoapOpera ''Soltera otra vez'' (''Single again'') has a ChristmasCake named Cristina as the main character, following her in her search for a new flame and her interactions with others. The radio ads for the series took the trope and ran away with it, too.
* On ''Series/MyNameIsEarl'', a friend of Earl's named Jasper purchases a MailOrderBride from Russia over the Internet. Part of the reason he bought her in particular [[NoAccountingForTaste (in spite of the huge mole on her chin and a rather abrasive personality)]] is that the agency he bought her from [[RefugeInAudacity offers free shipping if the women are over 30.]]
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'': Monica's mother nags her to get married so she can avoid this. Bear in mind this is set in modern day and Monica is only ''twenty four'' at the beginning, and thirty when she does get married. Justified as Judy is an [[{{AbusiveParents}} emotionally abusive]] {{Jerkass}}, and clearly ridiculous in thinking stunningly attractive and kind-hearted Monica won't get married. Despite her abuse having zero logic, Judy does leave Monica with serious insecurities regarding this trope. Luckily though, Monica's best friend Chandler's efforts to prove she ''won't'' die alone [[note]] which involve a FallBackMarriagePact, him offering to be her boyfriend and having a drunken one night stand with her [[/note]], directly lead to them falling in love and getting married, long before the rest of the characters.
* ''Series/ADifferentWorld''. When the girls go out to celebrate Whitley's birthday, Freddy's order is described by the waitress as "the spinster special". When Freddy takes offense to the name, the waitress snarks back, "You got a man?". At this point, Jalesa sheepishly declares, "Better make that ''two'' spinster specials." When the waitress asks if anyone else wants it, ''all'' of the women in the group raise their hands.
* On ''Series/GoodEats'', Alton remarks that doing popcorn a certain way will result in fewer "old maids." An old lady comes up and hits him with her HandbagOfHurt.

* Music/RiloKiley's song "[=XMas=] Cake" appears to be about this trope. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who is "twenty-five years old (with) a bachelor's degree" but has no job prospects and already looks "old and defeated" without her makeup on.
* ''22'' in which Lily Allen laments for her 30-year-old protagonist:
--> It's sad but it's true how society says her life is already over
--> There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
--> Until the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
--> It seems so unlikely in this day and age
* The American folk standard "I'll not marry at all" is a rather positive portrayal; it essentially list a long litany of types of men, gives (more or less good) reasons why they aren't husband material and the chorus is:
--> I'll take my stool and sit in the shade
--> for I'm determined to be an Old Maid
--> and I'll not marry at all, at all,
--> and I'll not marry at all.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* In America, we have former Wrestling/{{WWE}} General Manager Vickie Guerrero, a middle-aged but still reasonably attractive woman who is [[HollywoodHomely relentlessly mocked for being "fat" and "ugly."]] Wrestling/{{Edge}}, however, genuinely loved her and once almost married her, making him a [[LikesOlderWomen cake eater]].
** However Vickie is now visibly more attractive than she used to be and this is referenced by her being called a cougar by everyone. It's only Wrestling/JerryLawler who still makes jokes about her weight.
* In WWE the [[Characters/WWEDivas Divas]] are likely to be released once they hit their 30s. The exception is Ivory who was signed while she was in her 30s and kept with the company well into her 40s.

* Larita of ''Theatre/EasyVirtue''. She and John like to tease eachother about the age difference; he jokingly refers to her as "Grandma".
* In ''Theatre/HelloDolly'', Ermengarde is driven to tears when her uncle, Horace Vandegelder, won't let her marry her boyfriend. Her reason? "I'm seventeen and in another year, I'll be an ''old maid!''" Mr. Vandegelder replies that if she turns out to be an old maid, he cut her off without a cent.
* Parodied in the ''Theatre/LilAbner'' musical, which gives Daisy Mae the song "I'm Past My Prime," lamenting that she's an old maid at 17. Apparently in the DeepSouth girls are supposed to be married at an even younger age.
* In ''Theatre/ThePiratesOfPenzance'', Frederic's nanny Ruth (canonically 47 according to the script, but various productions may take considerably liberty upward with this) is one.
-->'''Pirates:''' Ruth is very well, very well indeed! There are [[StealthInsult the remains of a fine woman]] about her![[note]]The pirates are encouraging Frederic to take Ruth with him, but, being gentlemen, are unwilling to lie outright.[[/note]]
---> ''and later, when Frederic asks Ruth herself:''
-->'''Frederic:''' Compared with other women, are you beautiful?
-->'''Ruth:''' I have been told so, dear master.
-->'''Frederic:''' Ah, but ''lately''?
-->'''Ruth:''' Oh, no; years and years ago.
* Lizzie in ''The Rainmaker'' and its musical adaptation ''Theatre/OneTenInTheShade'' is 27 years old, and has had no luck in finding suitors. When Noah tells Lizzie she's going to be an old maid, the words drive her numb with fear before the thought of her brothers marrying one day and her being a MaidenAunt to their children sends her flying into a hysterical despair.
* Marian the librarian in ''Theatre/TheMusicMan'' with the first motive being her mother saying "this might be your last chance", although [[spoiler:she presumably gets married at the end]].
* Charmian from ''Theatre/AntonyAndCleopatra'' laments her lack of a husband and children to the point of becoming {{deadpan|Snarker}} about others' love situations.
* In ''Theatre/{{Picnic}}'', Rosemary is a spinster schoolteacher in late middle age who is utterly terrified of being an old maid. She openly begs her boyfriend Hal to marry her, and at the end of the play more or less browbeats him into agreeing.
* In ''Theatre/DreamGirl'', Georgina isn't quite twenty-four yet, but sees that as "practically thirty" and worries about her age a lot, with a character in one of her {{Dream Sequence}}s referring to her as "this spinster."
* In act I, Scene 2 of the famed Creator/WilliamShakespeare tragedy ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'' Juliet's mother seems to think she is a Renaissance Italian version of this. Makes sense considering that Lady Capulet was ''already a mother'' at Juliet's age (13), but everyone else sensibly believes Juliet might be a bit young to get married. Her father has a whole speech in which he says that he wouldn't consider her even eligible for marriage until she's sixteen, only capitulating later when he's drunk and grieving his nephew. On top of that, church records show the average age at first marriage when the play was written [[http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/society/family/marriage.html#juliet wasn't that far from what it is today]], meaning even the first audience would have thought Lady Capulet was being pretty hyperbolic.
* ''Theatre/{{Ruddigore}}'': Dame Hannah states that she has pledged herself to an eternal maidenhood after being forced by ethical and moral considerations to stand up her love at the altar many years before.

* Introduced by the fandom of ''[[{{VideoGame/Touhou}} Touhou]]'' for joke material. While most character ages are ambiguous even in the WorldBuilding BonusMaterial, and most bosses in the games are canonically Really700YearsOld anyway, there are certain characters that have categorized into an "[[http://danbooru.donmai.us/pool/show/1053 old maid alliance]]." This generally gives them an excuse to be depicted dressing up in silly clothing in an attempt to be seen as younger and getting angry when addressed as "''obaachan''," even when it would only be proper.
* Bonnie [=MacFarlane=] from ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'' is one of these. Shes only 29, but given the time period (1911) she's considered an old spinster. The charming and mysterious (and HappilyMarried) John Marston swooping in out of nowhere and Bonnie instantly showing signs of infatuation is the stuff shippers dream of. She does get married by the time of the epilogue.
* In ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'', the demonic [[NaughtyNuns Battle Nuns]] are a parody of this trope. They are self-conscious and all too eager to have [[Creator/TimCurry Emperor Doviculus]]' demonic babies, right there, in the middle of the battlefield.
-->''"I should be breeding now! I'm not getting any younger!"''

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2218 Monique suffers a brief panic attack over this fate -- and gets over it.]]
* The woman in [[http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2264 this]] ''Webcomic/SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Miss Censordoll of ''WesternAnimation/MoralOrel''. To make it worse, even though she's only 40, she looks even ''older'' than that. [[spoiler: It's implied that having her reproductive organs removed as an infant caused her to age badly.]]
* Miss Prissy from ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes''. Many of her appearances involve her trying to snag Foghorn Leghorn as a husband, by hook or by crook. [[RollingPinOfDoom Or by rolling pin.]]
* Patty and Selma from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. They were shown to be (for the most part) rather content with their lives, until their MaidenAunt Gladys passed away and (despite opening her video will with a reading of "The Road Less Traveled" by Creator/RobertFrost), implored them to find husbands and not [[DyingAlone die alone]] like her. (She even gave Selma her grandfather clock as [[VisualPun a reminder]] that [[MyBiologicalClockIsTicking her biological clock is ticking]]. Selma takes this as intended, while Patty just views it at face value.) Selma begins a ''desperate'' search for a husband (and though she ''does'' find several, all her marriages end in divorce). Patty doesn't seem to care much about finding a man, and it's eventually revealed that [[spoiler: [[ComingOutStory she's a lesbian]]]]. Both of them were often depicted as [[HollywoodHomely hideously ugly]], with revolting personalities to match, and voices that were unattractively deep and raspy. (Partly because it's InTheBlood, and partly because of decades' worth of heavy smoking.) Their aunt Gladys was even mistaken for a man at her open-casket funeral! (She was also shown to be something of a CloudCuckoolander in her video will, such as keeping a pet iguana that she held like a baby, and referring to a bunch of irregularly-shaped potato chips as her "children.")

* In China, women who are unmarried past the age of 27 are called "sheng nu", or [[http://shanghaiist.com/2013/02/05/chinese_women_spend_thousands_of_yu.php "leftover women"]] even in ''state-run media''.
* This trope inspired the name for [[https://talesofthecocktail.com/recipes/social-stigma a cocktail]] consisting of muddled strawberries, light rum, cognac, pear liqueur, vanilla syrup, lime juice, and egg white (for body). Originally, it was called "The Bachelor," but it was more popular with women (particularly older single women), so it was renamed "The Spinster." When one customer complained to the bartender that he "might as well call it the Social Stigma," the name stuck.
* The oft-quoted [[http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/terrorist.asp article from 1985]] about a study (now recognized as ''severely'' flawed [[note]](The study looked only at white, college-educated women of the Baby-Boomer generation who had never been previously married, and it used a parametric model, which was meant for making sense of the past, not predicting future events. It also looked primarily at census data, meaning it did not account for cohabitation, which was becoming more and more popular at the time.)[[/note]] ) that states that a woman over the age of 30 has a better chance of getting killed by a terrorist than of getting married.