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Older Hero vs. Younger Villain
aka: Younger Villain Vs Older Hero
Syndrome with his childhood idol Mr. Incredible.

Your powers are weak, old man!

In this plot, a principal character who is supposed to be significantly older than most is opposed by a villain who is relatively young and apparently in his physical prime.

The plot ends with a big fight that has the young villain sneering that his victory is inevitable because he's younger than the older hero.

In these kinds of plots, the young villain will typically be introduced as he one-ups the old hero as a part of his scheme, because You Can't Thwart Stage One. However, either through his superior combat experience, being less reckless, or just plain toughness, the older hero rises again and soundly defeats the young villain. At or near the end, the old hero proclaims something like "I may be older, but I'm better!" Furthermore, the other principal characters quickly agree that the older hero is still a valuable member of the team.

Contrast Pick on Someone Your Own Size and Kid Hero. Can be the result of someone Avenging the Villain. See Antagonistic Offspring for when the Younger Villain is the Older Hero's child.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • While Monster's Tenma is by no means old, he's got a good 15+ years on Johan, who started exceptionally young.
  • In Bleach, Yamamoto does battle with Aizen.
    • Most of the Captains and Visoreds participating in Fake Karakura town battle are older than aforementioned main antagonist (especially those characters, who fight him directly), who is rather young, but still older than several other heroes.
    • Yoruichi fights her former subordinate and student Soifon during the Soul Society arc.
  • In Naruto, this happens when the Third Hokage battles Orochimaru.
    • Well...Orochimaru's mind/soul/consciousness is at least 50. But his body at that time is young.
    • This happens to Jiraiya when he fights his former student, Pain. This is even lampshaded when he comments on the irony of Pain treating him like a child when Pain dismisses his views as childish.
    • And Minato is also older than his last opponent, Tobi who is actually his student, Obito.
  • Most climactic fights in Rurouni Kenshin follow this template, as the titular character is a decade older than most of his supporting cast. Specifically comes into play Enishi Yukishiro, his vengeful brother-in-law.
  • Mai-HiME has an arc where the various HiMEs who are at youngest middle school age and at oldest full adults go up against nine-year old Alyssa Searrs.
  • Legendary Pokémon Mew and its clone Mewtwo from Pokémon: The First Movie.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE has a rather twisted example with Flit against Desil.
  • In Bakuman。, the clash between Ashirogi Muto and their former fan, the up-and-coming Nanamine. While Ashirogi Muto are fairly young, they also note that they're defending their rank against the newcomers.
  • Page vs. Enchu in Muhyo And Roji. Muhyo's quite young himself, although his age is never specified, and he sometimes has to deal with the spirits of those who died in childhood (but depending on when they died, they might technically be older than he is).
  • In StrikerS Sound Stage X of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, the main culprit turns out to be Teana's subordinate Runessa, who is a year younger than she is.
    • If some speculations are true, in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, the older members of Special Duty Section 6 versus adolescent Curren Hückebein can be considered this.

    Comicbooks 
  • Although he may not necessarily be a strapping young man himself (depending on whether or not you're going by Don Rosa's canon), Evil Counterpart John D. Rockerduck is the younger villain to Scrooge McDuck's older hero. Not to mention Magica De Spell and several of the Beagle Boys. You'd be hard pressed to find a notable enemy of Scrooge who wasn't significantly younger than him.
    • Except his better Evil Counterpart Flintheart Glomgold and The Beagle Boys' grandfather, founder and occasional leader Blackheart Beagle.
    • This trope could be considered one of the few things that make Rockerduck different from Glomgold: Whereas Glomgold is basically Scrooge as he would've turned out if he hadn't "made it square", Rockerduck is a more modern businessman who is willing to spend away his fortune if it suits him and is sometimes depicted as being more accepted by society than Scrooge is.
    • A collection of classic Rockerduck stories mentioned in the introduction that by what passes for canon in Disney stories, Rockerduck is Scrooge's superior in some markets - like media and entertainment, because Scrooge doesn't "get" the concepts well enough to apply his talent for business to it. The usual solution is to rope in his younger relatives, actually needing their advice and not just their underpaid hard labour.
  • Happens a lot in comics featuring superheroes from The Golden Age of Comic Books. One of the major reasons why the original Wildcat has a huge fanbase is because of an early issue of JSA, where he took on the Injustice Society alone. With a broken leg. Naked (for the first few pages). This seems to be pretty common for the Justice Society of America these days.
  • In the Spider-Man comics, Aunt May has had some of these moments. The most recent was when the Chameleon tried to kill her by pretending to be Peter. She baked him cookies and made him tea, while knitting a nice shawl... and when he revealed himself, she revealed that she'd known all along, and that the "almond" cookies had cyanide in them (actually, just a tranquilizer, but she was feeling mean). The last thing he saw was her holding up the shawl, with "Gotcha!" embroidered on it.
  • In the classic comic, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Dark Knight, who is feeling very insecure about getting older, decides to fight the young and inhumanly strong leader of the Mutants hand to hand. As a result, Bats is badly beaten and barely escapes with the help of a new Robin. After he's recovered, Batman arranges a second fight, but this time, he does it intelligently by handicapping the fighting area, using a mudhole to limit his opponent's movements, and using his superior experience in fighting techniques to overcome the villain's physical superiority.
  • In the comic book Sin City by Frank Miller and the associated film, the Yellow Bastard ridicules Hartigan that he is "too old to even lift that cannon [he] is carrying." Of course Hartigan wins the day, and then kills himself after saving the girl, because he's so old it's not worth himself staying alive and keeping Nancy, a young woman, a target.
  • In Deathstroke, Slade is targetted by a younger villain, Jannissary, who repeatedly hails him as "old man", but defeats him. Subverted in that Jannissary had been hired for the job, by a man who (accurately) says that Slade is out to kill him; when Slade has Jannissary at his mercy, he explains why. When Slade goes in for the kill, he first returns the money paid to Jannissary and expresses his admiration for Jannissary's principles.

    Film 
  • From the movie Fried Green Tomatoes:
    [Evelyn is cut off in a parking lot]
    Evelyn Couch: Hey! I was waiting for that spot!
    Girl #1: Face it, lady, we're younger and faster!
    [Evelyn rear-ends the other car six times]
    Girl #1: What are you doing?
    Girl #2: Are you crazy?
    Evelyn Couch: Face it, girls, I'm older and I have more insurance.
  • A large part of the plot of The Incredibles.
  • Star Wars has it in an interesting way when Yoda is forced to fight his former student Count Dooku. Dooku is eighty years old, but Yoda is nine hundred. Similarly, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi dealt with this a couple of times after Anakin's fall.
    • Not to mention the example in the page quote, where Darth Vader fights Obi-Wan Kenobi - a man at least fifteen years his senior.
    • Qui-Gon Jinn's fight against Darth Maul is also like this.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis. Old Picard versus young evil crazy dying Picard.
  • The entire Death Wish series, Kersey was always the old man.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop. After being caught by the Big Bad of the criminals taking over the mall, Paul admits that he was younger, stronger and smarter than he was. And that literally he was the man with the gun.
  • There was a minor example in The 13th Warrior, when an old warrior who'd befriended the protagonist gets challenged by a much younger and larger opponent. He proceeds to prove that skill matters more than size or age in hand-to-hand combat.
  • The entire plot of Rocky Balboa leads up to Rocky's comeback match against the undefeated 29-year-old champ, Mason "The Line" Dixon, at a point when Rocky himself is just shy of 60.
  • In Dragonheart: Bowen, a knight of the Old Code, eventually fought back against his former pupil, Einon, when he became king and showed he was just as vile as his father, if not moreso.
  • Morgan Freeman played retired prize-fighter Eddie Dupris in Million Dollar Baby, and for most of the movie he was a kind, soft spoken old man. That is, until one of the younger boxers, Shawrelle, started beating on Danger, a young man with a few mental issues who was basically the laughingstock of the gym. In a Crowning Moment Of Awesome, he steps into the ring, reassures Danger that everything is going to be alright, and borrows one of his gloves. Shawrelle mocks him, saying: "Now I get to fight a retard, and an old man! Somebody better call ESPN 'cause you can't write this shit!" Dupris punches him right in the face. Suddenly realizing that he's serious, Shawrelle tries to retaliate, but Dupris' years of experience allow him to easily block, and then he hits him again, with his bare fist, knocking him unconscious. Moral of the story: never assume that just because a man has a soothing voice, he can't kick your ass. Because he so can.
  • Live Free Or Die Hard is built around this; we get John McClane, the world-weary old-school cop vs Thomas Gabriel, the younger high-tech computer hacker.
    • Inverted through in the first two movies, as John McClane was the younger heroes going against slightly older villains.
  • Despicable Me is a case of Older Villain Protagonist vs. Younger Villain, with the rivalry between the middle-aged Diabolical Mastermind Gru and his young, smarmy rival Vector.
  • The younger-looking evil fairy Maleficent vs. the middle-aged heroic fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather from Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
  • Also Mama Odie, the benevolent elderly voodoo witch and Doctor "The Shadow Man" Facilier, the evil younger-looking voodoo wizard from The Princess and the Frog.
  • Lethal Weapon 4 has Riggs and Murtaugh whom are both reaching retirement facing off against Chinese martial artist and crime lord Wah Sing Ku who is the youngest of the main antagonists.
  • The Hunted is all about Tommy Lee Jones having to take down his former student Benicio Del Toro who has gone rogue.
  • Has happened a few times through the James Bond film series.
  • This trope is often used in John Wayne's later films, very notably in True Grit and The Shootist. But even as early as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon you have ageing Nathan Brittles - about to be retired from the army - up against young chief Red Shirt, while bonding with his contemporary, chief Pony That Walks. Red River and The Searchers, where Wayne played characters who are, to say the least, morally ambiguous, invert the trope in a couple of scenes.
  • This is the main plot of the second half of Soldier, Kurt Russel manages to defeat a force of younger genetically engineered super soldiers thanks to his decades of combat experience.

    Literature 
  • Pretty much the whole point of Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde, from the Discworld books.
    • Also, the conflict between Granny Weatherwax and Diamanta, in Lords and Ladies.
      • The conflict between Granny Weatherwax and the Queen of the Elves in the same book is an interesting example because the Queen of the Elves, being an elf, is many centuries old, whereas Granny Weatherwax is just an elderly human. However, Granny has learned more through actual life experience. Or as she puts it, "What can't grow can't change. What can't change can't learn."
    • Also Death vs. New Death in Reaper Man.
    • Sourcery, with the child Coin as the antagonist and adult wizards like Rincewind as the protagonists.
      • Of course, behind Coin is his father, who died of what seems to be at least partly old age at the start of the story...
  • In The Hellfire Club by Paul Straub, the female protagonist Nora is around 49 years old. And the Affably Evil Serial Killer villain, Dick Dart, is more than ten years younger than her. Of course, he always had a thing for older women...
  • In Harry Potter, Dumbledore can be counted as this until his death and Harry comes into his own.
  • Galadon and Rhys in Carol Berg's Rai-Kirah Trilogy, albeit very briefly.
  • In The Chronoliths Big Bad Adam Mills is a former teenage psychopath and is still young enough to be protagonist Scott Warden's son (he is, in fact, his stepson).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Murdoch Mysteries: James Gillies, the arch-villain of the show, is a university student in his debut episode, and would therefore be around 20 years old in Season 2. Detective William Murdoch, on the other hand, is approaching middle age.

    Manhwa 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Raven v Terry Funk, from the original ECW
  • Randy Orton v Hulk Hogan
  • Ric Flair v Triple H
  • ECW Originals vs. the New Breed
  • Triple H vs. Randy Orton in 2009
  • Rare three-alignment example: Tommy Dreamer (Old Hero) vs. Jack Swagger (Young Villain) vs. Christian

    Videogames 
  • In Wrath of the Lich King the Lich King's nemesis Tirion is older than Arthas by several decades.
    • Old enough to be his father
    • Arthas also killed his father, and Terenas' ghost is part of the fight against him.
  • In a scenario in Advance Wars II: Black Hole Rising, Smug Snake Adder goes up against Old Master Sensei and starts taunting him concerning his age — shortly before he is soundly whipped by the older and more experienced army commander.
    • Further justified in that, on most map types, despite his age Sensei is considered by many to be one of the more broken CO's in the game because of his excellent infantry and ability to produce absolutely obscene numbers of them via CO Powers.
  • Even if the age difference isn't that visible between Cloud and Kadaj in Advent Children, this trope is in effect. Kadaj looks to be in his mid to late-teens whereas Cloud is in his early twenties. In fact, Kadaj (and his brothers) can't be older than two. One of the creators did mention that he wanted Cloud to face someone younger than him.
  • On that note, though, Dirge of Cerberus plays with it a bit...of course, "plays with" in this case means "twisted around and convoluted into an unholy mess"....We've got Vincent, our Woobie Anti-Hero, who's 27 physically but had been asleep (which probably means suspended animation) for thirty years, give or take a few, when the original game took place, so he was 57 then. Dirge of Cerberus takes place 3 years later, which makes him 60 chronologically. Confused yet? Now throw in a 25-year-old Omnicidal Maniac who's possessed by a mad scientist assumed to be older chronologically than Vincent himself and if that's not bad enough, just throw in a couple of spirits as old as the planet itself possessing the above and we're into Mind Screw territory.
  • In Tekken, Jin vs. Heihachi and Kazuya, and (possibly) the rivalry between Jin vs. Hwoarang.
    • Jin and Hwoarang are the same age,but Devil Jin vs Hwoarang would fit as DJ is an entity with ancient power
  • EXTREMELY slightly in Soul Calibur, with Siegfried v.s. Nightmare. Nightmare is basically Soul Edge's evil animating armor without Siegfried, and Soul Edge has been around for a LONG time. Siegfried is only in his 20s.
  • This happens in Space Channel 5 Part 2. Ulala, who is 22 years old, takes on Purge, who is only 18 years old.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All, 25-year old Phoenix's main adversary in court is Franziska von Karma, an 18-year old Child Prodigy prosecutor.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has the 43-year old Ezio Auditore going up against the 26-year old Cesare Borgia, son of Assassin's Creed II Big Bad Rodrigo Borgia.
    • A slight example in Revelations, where Ezio is only 6 years older than the real Big Bad Prince Ahmet.
  • With the exception of Ocelot and Big Boss, the only guyies even older than Snake, Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4 is easily the senior of everyone he fights. And that was before he started to succumb to Rapid Aging.
  • Henry Hatsworth looks to be quite a bit older than his rival, Weasleby. He's definitely older than Cole.
  • In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Layton goes up against Clive, a young boy he saved 10 years ago and who is plotting to destroy London in revenge.
  • The Orion Conspiracy: Devlin McCormack is the older protagonist and Captain Shannon is the younger antagonist. The antagonist even insults Devlin's age at one point.

    Webcomics 
  • The Reveal at the end of the "A Mushroom Kingdom Carol" Story Arc in Brawl in the Family, which explained why the Big Bad of that arc was so strong compared to The Hero. The Bowser that the aging Mario fought wasn't his old rival, but a now adult Bowser Junior. Upon realizing this, Mario takes advantage of his childhood fear of water that he put in him.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Gargoyles had Hudson and an injured Goliath playing cat and mouse with a gun-toting Demona. Hudson's plan was eventually revealed to be: hide just out of sight and let her yammer on till the sun came up. Despite what it looks like, this is actually something of an inversion — Demona is really several centuries older than Hudson, thanks to magical eternal youth on her part and a case of suspended animation on his, so she has both the advantage of centuries of experience without the disadvantages of aging. Hudson's victory is instead thanks to Demona's Immortal Immaturity. Whereas Demona has spent her centuries in a vicious cycle of rage, distrust and betrayal, Hudson made peace with life and found wisdom.
    Hudson: I know how to wait.
  • Youngblood mostly plays this role in Danny Phantom where his spunky, immature attitude clashes with Danny's teenage maturity. This becomes key in one episode. Because Youngblood can only be seen by children, Jazz doesn't realize he exists because she thinks like an adult despite being sixteen. Danny however, takes inspiration from Youngblood's bratty, childish behavior and starts behaving like an Annoying Younger Sibling, rendering Jazz to start throwing a tantrum and embracing her childhood, and importantly, spotting Youngblood. She then helps Danny kick his ass.
  • Parodied in Futurama with Professor Farnsworth's Rival Ogden WEEEERNSTROM!! constantly calling the 160 year old Professor "Old man" etc, in keeping with this tropes style. The twist? Wernstrom is a "mere" 120. Yeah, he's only slightly less ancient.
  • In the obscure Canadian series Zeroman, Rusty was probably young enough to be the hero's grandson.
  • In Winx Club both Griffin and Faragonda have a example. Griffin in Season 1 when she fought the Trix for Cloudtower, but loses. Faragonda in Season 3 when she fought Valtor, but she loses too.
  • Multiple episodes of Batman Beyond have 80-year-old Bruce Wayne taking on younger villains: The Jokerz, Inque, The Ts, Big Time, etc.
  • In Gravity Falls, Stanford Pines, a man old enough to be a great uncle, has a business rivalry that later turns violent with Gideon Gleeful, a nine-year old.


The Old ConvictEldersOlder Is Better
An Offer You Can't RefusePlotsOne of Our Own
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alternative title(s): Younger Villain Vs Older Hero; Older Hero Versus Younger Villain
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