The Hero's Birthday

"A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, is this young man's birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!"
Homestuck, the very first page

Good Morning, Crono! Happy birthday! Come downstairs and open your presents!

This trope is when the story more or less begins with the announcement that it's the main character's birthday. Often it isn't just any birthday, either; it's the day the hero finally reaches adulthood.

Why is this? Well... birthdays represent the start of a new chapter in one's life, which is suitably fitting for the beginning of the story itself. And it's a convenient way to establish how old a character is.

This can let the story start off with people deciding that it's time for the hero to learn an important secret about themselves. Or a mysterious character giving a bizarre, plot -related birthday present, amongst other things.

Tends to overlap with some of the other Birthday Tropes, especially Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday. Doubles as Easing Into the Adventure. Contrast with A Birthday, Not a Break, where we only learn it's the hero's birthday after the event. For the literal day of the hero's birth, see A Hero Is Born.

Examples

Manga
  • The Ruby/Sapphire saga of Pokémon Special begins on Ruby's 11th birthday, when he and his mother move to Hoenn and he runs away from home.
    • Also inverted: The same saga ends 80 days later, on Sapphire's 11th birthday.
  • Pokémon: Trainers are able to get their license and begin their journey on their tenth birthday.
  • Nurse Angel Ririka SOS begins on the heroine's 10th birthday - which is also the beginning of her career as a Magical Girl Warrior. It's a good day for her.

Comic Books
  • In the Marvel Universe, most mutants gain their powers during puberty. In a surprising number of cases, this happens specifically on their fourteenth or fifteenth birthday.
  • Scion kicks off with Ethan's eighteenth birthday wherein he is thrust into combat against Bron.
  • Wolverine had a pretty rotten birthday when he was young, long before the experiment that gave him his adamantium skeleton and claws; it was his birthday when his first true confrontation with Sabertooth occurred, right after the villain murdered his lover Silver Fox. (Or so he thought at the time; her death was actually a hoax and would cause him even more trouble in the future.)

Fanfiction
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel begins on the main character's 150th birthday, which turns out to be the day when he is finally released from being in Psychelia, and most of the Smurfs in the village are preparing for his birthday and his arrival home. 150 years for a Smurf (particularly a male Smurf) is basically the age of entering adulthood, as in The Smurfs cartoon show.
    • In "Days Of Future Smurfed", Empath celebrates his 1,150th birthday with his great-grandson, which ends up being the day that he dies, and his great-grandson becomes Traveler Smurf.

Film

Literature
  • Lord of the Rings begins with (well, slightly before, but the Birthday-Party is the first major event in the story) Frodo's 33rd (and Bilbo's Eleventy-first) birthday. Since hobbits are long-lived, 33 is their coming-of-age year. (Although, Bilbo was still very old for a hobbit and showing his age well; he would eventually live to be the oldest hobbit in history, a side effect of owning the One Ring.)
  • In the YA novel The Silver Crown, the heroine gets the titular crown for her birthday.
  • The events of Susan Cooper's novel The Dark Is Rising start shortly before Will Stanton's 11th birthday.
  • Harry Potter learned he was a wizard at more or less the hour he turned 11, and most of the other books started on or near his birthday.
  • Lirael opens on Lirael's fourteenth birthday. To her it's a humiliation because she has not yet had the Sight, or been Seen with the Sight, and is therefore still a child among the Clayr. However, the events of the day do change her life dramatically.

Live Action TV

Video Games

Webcomics
  • Homestuck. See the page quote above.
    • Likewise, the Trolls' session started on Karkat's birthday – or rather, "Wriggling Day". The date of John's birthday, 4/13, is also plot-relevant.
      • This makes it surprising when the Alpha session doesn't start on a birthday.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Before The Party arc starts with the announcement that Grace's birthday is coming up which is followed by the Grace's Birthday Party arc.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • At the start of the Underdog story "Pain Strikes Underdog", Sweet Polly Purebred told Underdog that she was planning a party for his birthday the next day.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) has a variation, with the first episode taking place on the Turtles' 15th Mutation Day, as in the anniversary of the day they got splashed with Mutagen.
  • Rankin/Bass's The Return of the King opens with an elderly Bilbo's birthday party, where a minstrel relates the story with the ballad "Frodo of the Nine Fingers."

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