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Age Lift

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Above: Aunt May in the comics.
Below: Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

"But we see our main innocent, and, of course, her dad too
This is Cindy Lou Who, who is no more than two...welve, but we'll give 'em a little leeway."
The Nostalgia Critic, in his review of the 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

In the process of adapting a work, many things don't translate very well into a different medium. An Age Lift is when the age of the character in question is changed or glossed over for the sake of the story. The idea is that the discrepancy between character and actor is much smaller, and in some cases, the exact age is not that important to the character. In some cases, this can simply be a case of the creators avoiding the embarrassing issue of a less than wholesome relationship, or wanting to give two characters more of a connection (not necessarily a friendly one; it can be used to emphasise a Foil) by making them contemporaries. Or maybe the creators just think the original age of the characters doesn't fit their target audience.

In live action, it can be a Pragmatic Adaptation to take into account factors such as child labour laws and how demanding a role may be for a younger actor. It is also likely to occur if something happens to the character within the source material which makes keeping them at their original age problematic even with Dawson Casting, but, because the event in question is essential to the plot, leaving it out isn't an option either. The two most common forms of this appear to be aging pre-teen characters to teenagers so twenty-somethings can feasibly play them and aging thirty-something parents by about a decade to counter the potential Values Dissonance relating to young parents.

Compare Artistic Age (where the appearance is more important than the number of years), Dawson Casting (which leaves the age of the character the same but casts an older actor for the part anyway), Hollywood Old (which does likewise with younger actors), Underage Casting (same), Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (where the character's age inexplicably changes in the original work itself) and Younger and Hipper. Vague Age is when the viewers and often the creators don't really know exactly how old a character is, and it's a great excuse for why the show might make a specific claim that seems like a change to some previously established fact. Seeing as age brings experience with it, this might also cause an Adaptational Skill.

Three-Month-Old Newborn is a meta subtrope that results from the logistical issues of using actual newborns to play young babies.

Examples with their own subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat Fun Class:
    • In the original series Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Wolffy is an adult while the goats are kids. In Pleasant Goat Fun Class, however, he is a young kid just like the goats.
    • Slowy averts this, as he remains the same age as he was in the original series even though the other characters are now younger than before.
  • Yamucha's-Kung Fu Academy: Rudy, Masa, Obby, and Artee are grown teachers in the TV show, but in the web shorts that came before, they are children like the rest of the cast. Possibly also applies to Bomi who is a merchant.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Snow White is seven in the original story (with some versions aging her up to fourteen). In the Disney version she's twice her original age, being fourteen.
    • Ronno in the Bambi II midquel film. In the novel, Ronno is implied to be several years older than Bambi. In the film, he is the same age as Bambi. He appeared as a young buck in the first film as well. Bambi's father is also significantly younger than in the book as he's combined with the Great Old Prince of the Forest (who is unrelated to Bambi).
    • Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a few years younger than her movie counterpart. She's seven in the book but the design was based on the actor her voiced her, Kathryn Beaumont, who was ten when she was cast.
    • Rapunzel is quite young in her original fairy tale, possibly fourteen to sixteen. Tangled takes place on her 18th birthday, and during the series, she turns 19.
    • The real Pocahontas was in her pre-teens when she met John Smith, her lover in the film. The Disney film ages her up to about sixteen.
    • Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a sixteen-year-old girl. The Disney adaptation never specifies her age, however, she doesn't seem nearly that young and in fact is rather big-sisterly to twenty-year-old Quasimodo. (The animators considered her to be in her late twenties to very early thirties, at least.)
    • Gerda and Kai are children in The Snow Queen, while Anna and Kristoff from Frozen are eighteen and in their early twenties respectively. On the other side of the spectrum, the Snow Queen is a Really 700 Years Old Fair Folk, while Elsa is a twenty-one year old human with ice powers. Originally the film kept the original ages, but Gerda and Kai were revamped and Elsa became Anna's older sister. There are two side-characters called "Gerda" and "Kai" as a Mythology Gag, but they're middle aged.
    • In The Sword in the Stone, Kay looks like he's at least eighteen, while the book begins with him fourteen, two years older than Wart. He's also an Adaptational Jerkass, which this trope exacerbates—it's one thing for an insecure kid to act like a Big Brother Bully, but another thing to see a grown man being so petty to a twelve-year-old.
  • The Disney version of Peter Pan he looks and sounds like he’s in his early teens, Bobby Driscoll was 15 at the time he voiced him, in the original story Peter was a younger child around 7 or 8 years old.
  • Astro is thirteen in the 2009 Astro Boy film. In the Astro Boy manga he is drawn far younger and seems to be of elementary age.
  • The LEGO Ninjago Movie sees Misako aged down to a more middle-aged appearance rather than the more 60+ appearance of Ninjago, making it more believable that she's Lloyd's mother. Additionally, Lloyd himself seems to legitimately be high school aged rather than mystically aged-up to be a teenager as in the series proper.
  • The title character in Anastasia is portrayed as eight years old when the Russian Revolution breaks out and eighteen throughout the bulk of the film. The real Anastasia was sixteen when the Revolution broke out, seventeen when she was killed, and if she had lived she would have been twenty-five in 1926, when most of the film takes place. The stage version lifts her back up to her historical age, though.
  • Loving Vincent has an example of this. In real life, Adeline Ravoux (the innkeeper's daughter) was 13 when Van Gogh died. In the film, she appears to be about the same age as Armand, who is 20.
  • Contemporary material for The Little Mermaid (1989) had Aquata (the one in blue) as the oldest of Triton's daughters, presumably because she's the first to be named in the "Daughters of Triton" song. The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning changes the birthing order of everyone except Ariel. Aquata is now the third oldest while Attina (the one in orange with the crown headdress) is the heir.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse:
    • When the Peter Parker of the Ultimate Marvel universe died, he and Mary Jane Watson were 16. The film's version of Ultimate Peter dies around the age of 26, with MJ likewise being around that age.
    • Peter (B.) Parker, despite being based on Earth-616 Spider-Man, is 36 years old, far older than the mainline comics have ever allowed Peter to age.
    • Peter Parker from the Spider-Man Noir comics is no older than his early 20s at most. His counterpart here, however, is implied to be at least middle-aged.
    • In the Spider-Gwen comics, Gwen Stacy got her powers around her senior year of high school and has since graduated. Here, she's only about a year older than middle-schooler Miles Morales.
    • Peni Parker, as befitting being influenced by Neon Genesis Evangelion, was a teenager in the comics. Here, she's a preteen.
  • In the stage musical of The King and I, Prince Chulalongkorn is a child, and the real Chulalongkorn was 9-15 during the six years the musical's action compresses. In the very Disneyfied animated adaptation, he's portrayed as a young man in his late teens or early 20s. This is so he can serve as a Composite Character, replacing the Adapted Out character of Lun Tha as the ingenue Tuptim's forbidden love interest.
  • Damian Wayne was introduced during Batman (Grant Morrison) as a 10 year old. The Robin in Batman Unlimited: Mechs Vs. Mutants is Damian, but he's depicted as a teenager like the other Robins before him.
  • Whereas Justice League halved Vandal Savage's age from 50,000 years old to 25,000, Justice League: Doom tacked on another 25,000 years to his life, making its Savage 75,000 years old.
  • In Dorothy Meets Ozma of Oz Dorothy's aunt and uncle look younger than they are in the book.
  • Even with the simplified art style, Manchester Black in Superman vs. the Elite is clearly younger than his comics counterpart, who once implied his father died during World War II when Black was a kid.
  • In The Adventures of Captain Vrungel by Andrey Nekrasov, Captain Vrungel, retired, narrates the main story to his student from the naval school, but the story takes place when he is younger. In the animated adaptation, the story itself begins when Captain Vrungel is already long-retired and teaching at the naval school.

  • Go to Sleep (A Jeff the Killer Rewrite): Downplayed, this rewrite slightly increases the characters' ages.
    • In the original story, Jeff is 13 while Liu's age is uncertain. In this rewrite, Jeff's entering freshman year at 14 while Liu is starting grade 8, presumably being a year younger than Jeff.
    • The bullies are approximately 12 in the original story, while in this story they are all in senior year with Randy being 17.
  • Nowadays, Goldilocks is usually portrayed as a little girl, but in the original version of the story, she was an old lady named Silverhair.
  • Downplayed in The Little Witch. The Czechoslovak-German animated series keeps the little Witch's vast age but changes her appearance to that of a little girl.
  • The Lost Years of Merlin include a version of Merlin's romance with Nimue...except here, they meet when Merlin is thirteen and she's a few years older than him. Interestingly, the fourth book (which involves Time Travel) indicates that she'll still look like a young woman when Merlin's an old man, which might explain why the legends got things wrong.]]
  • Various scholars have noted that depictions of Momotarō have gradually decreased his age of departure over the centuries, with the oldest depictions showing him in his 30s, up to modern depictions of him in his teens or even as a child.
  • In an extreme example, the novel Nutshell by Ian MacEwan is a Setting Update of Hamlet, whose Hamlet character (who is also the narrator) hasn't been born yet.
  • The Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note series begins with adopting an old Light Novel series for tweens girls. As a result, the age of the cast was moved down by several years; fortunately, elementary schoolers go to Cram School as well, keeping a key premise element intact. As a side effect, sometimes the cast don't act like 12-year-olds; for example, a 12-year old boy made a big marriage proposal to a girl of the same age through her parents, and the said parents do not object.

  • The protagonist of the novelty song "The Thing" is usually an adult, but Johnny Restivo did a cover of the song in 1959 where the main character was implied to be a child. Aside from the first verse describing the protagonist finding the box on his way to school, the protagonist being a child in this version is also suggested by the verse about taking the box to a shopkeeper only for the shopkeeper to kick the protagonist out and threaten to call the police being changed to be about the boy taking the box with him to school only to scare away his classmates and get expelled after the teacher saw what was in the box as well as the verse about the man showing the box to his wife being changed so that the boy got kicked out of home for trying to show the box to his father (and mentioning that he waited at the playground until sundown following his expulsion from school).


    Tabletop Games 
  • Candy Land:
    • Queen Frostine is no longer a Queen. She's younger and is a princess. As a result of her age decreasing, she is no longer married to King Kandy (he is her father now) and she is Lolly's sister, instead of her mother.
    • The age of Princess Lolly has zig-zagged over the years. As of 2013 she looks much older than her traditional design.
    • In the '80s and '90s King Kandy became a younger man with red hair. He has since returned to his older, grey-haired version.
  • Ravenloft: Originally, Strahd von Zarovich was 52 when he turned into a vampire. In 5th edition, he was 45 when he turned.

  • Hamlet, the former Trope Namer, is a tough call. The play has contradictory lines about the prince's age - some evidence suggesting he's thirty or older, other lines indicating he's a fresh-faced college undergrad. Plus, the role has acquired a reputation as being the "crown jewel" of an actor's career, so you'll find men cast as Hamlet when they're in middle-age, usually at the height of their fame.
  • The Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of The Secret Garden ages Dickon Sowerby from 12 to a young man.
  • In the stage production of The Addams Family, Wednesday's age is changed from 10 or so to about 18, with the main plot being about her romance with an ordinary young man and wish to marry him. (Pugsley, however, is still a young child.)
  • In the National Theatre's 2014 production of Treasure Island, the proprietor of the Admiral Benbow Inn is significantly older (and is Jim's grandmother instead of mother). On the other hand, Ben Gunn is much younger, being near Jim's age; it's said that he was Captain Flint's cabin boy before he was stranded.
  • Dorothy is a teenager in The Wiz instead of the prepubescent child she is in the books. For The Movie, a thirtysomething Diana Ross took on the role, making it a pretty clear case of Dawson Casting as well.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera musical, Christine and Raoul are traditionally played by thirtysomething performers with only a few exceptions. In the book they’re both barely out of their teens at 20 years old and have childish moments. Little Meg is 15 years old but is usually played by young adult women. The reverse is starting applies with the usually older Phantom, e.g Ramin Karimloo was 33 when he played the titular character in the 2011 production at Albert Hall.
  • For the musical version of The Bridges of Madison County, Francesca and Robert are aged down from middle age to approximately 40.
  • In The Crucible, Abigail Williams is seventeen years old, while her real-life counterpart was only about twelve at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. The opposite is true for John Proctor, who was sixty in real life but is in his thirties in the play. This is pretty much entirely in service of the (entirely fictional) plot arc involving an affair between Proctor and Williams.
  • In Matilda, Michael Wormwood is stated to be five years older than his sister Matilda, making him 10 in the book. The musical adaptation makes him a teenager played by an adult, presumably to have one less child role that would need to be double cast.
  • At the start of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is turning fourteen soon. This contrasts with the earlier Romeus and Juliet where she was fifteen-going-on-sixteen and in Matteo Bandello's novels where she was eighteen. One interpretation on why Shakespeare made Juliet only fourteen was to make the story a cautionary tale against marrying too young. At any rate, it makes her all the more vulnerable and her ending more tragic.
  • In the Wicked musical, sisters Nessarose and Elphaba begin going to Shiz at the same time. In the book Nessarose begins a year after Elphaba. In the musical, their father says he's only sending Elphaba to Shiz to look after Nessarose, so presumably the musical's Elphaba is starting college late, making her a year or two older than the book's Elphaba is when she starts.
  • In The Sound of Music, the ages of the two eldest Von Trapp children are reversed. In real life, the firstborn boy, Rupert, was 16 when Maria first joined the household, while his sister Agathe was 14. In the musical, sister Liesl becomes the 16-year-old firstborn, while brother Friedrich becomes the 14-year-old. This is so Liesl can have her romantic subplot with Rolf, who didn't really exist.
  • The Merchant of Venice: Some productions attempt to flesh out the Prince of Arragon by portraying him as an adolescent schoolboy who is accompanied by his mother and his tutors when he arrives at Portia's home to attempt her Engagement Challenge.

    Video Games 
  • Many video games from Japan released in the west will age the characters up to at least 18 for the same reason. If that's not enough, female characters of questionable age with Stripperific outfits whether it's a customized clothing option will be more covered up or removed completely.
  • Lyn was 15 (at the start of) the original Japanese version of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. The localized version aged her up to 18 for some reason, despite her acting basically the same age as her co-leads Hector and Eliwood (about 17, following the 1-year Time Skip and a vague number of time during gameplay). It's likely due to her looks/curves, Younger than She Looks in short.
  • In the original Japanese version of Sweet Fuse: At Your Side, Saki is 17 years old and Wakasa is 15. Since Sweet Fuse is a Romance Game and Saki's other prospective love interests range in age from 22 to 32, the English localization by Aksys Games nudges her age up to 18 and Wakasa's to 17.
  • Bravely Default: Releases outside of Japan aged up the protagonists from 15- to 16-year-olds to 18. This is mainly due to the more Stripperific outfits the girls get to wear (some of which were also toned down a little), and the game's very dark themes - particularly a rather infamous side-quest that very closely resembles a date-rape plot, which one of your female party members has to fall victim to in order to progress.
  • Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords: Princess Seraphine, introduced as the player is to escort her to her Arranged Marriage, is 16 in the original PC version. She's 18 in the subsequent console and portable ports.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic's original age was either a "15~16" estimate or 18 depending on the source, Tails and Amy were 8, and Knuckles was 15. When Sonic Adventure was released, Sonic was narrowed to 15, Tails stayed 8, Amy became 12, and Knuckles became 16.
  • In the original Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Lumina is a fourteen-year-old girl with a Precocious Crush on the protagonist. In Another Wonderful Life, where you play as a woman, she was made into a rival for Rock, who is in his twenties. Lumina was upped to sixteen in Japan, eighteen internationally, and that has been her starting age in every game she's appeared in since.
  • Batman: Arkham Series
    • The Tim Drake version of Robin is older than his comics counterpart, being closer in age to Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon and in the Golden Ending of Batman: Arkham Knight, ends up marrying Barbara instead of a teenager. The tie-in comics also reveal that Tim has a job as a schoolteacher in his civilian life, suggesting he’s likely in his early-to-mid-20s in this continuity.
    • Knight's DLC expansion pack, "Season of Infamy", included Talia al Ghul's sister, Nyssa Raatko, and has her as Talia's younger sister. In comics canon, Nyssa is a Holocaust survivor and Talia's mother met Ra's al Ghul at Woodstock.
    • In the comics, Lonnie Machin was a 12 year old kid when he became Anarky—which was shortly before a 14-year old Tim Drake assumed the Robin mantlenote . Batman: Arkham Origins shows Machin as a teenager during Bruce's second year as Batman, thus making him older than Drake.
    • In the comics, Black Mask is around the same age as Bruce Wayne as they're old childhood friends. In Origins, it's established that Roman Sionis is 38 when Bruce hacks into his files. While Bruce Wayne's age is never given in the Arkham series, he is presumably in his mid-20s, like he was in Batman: Year One, which this game is heavily based on.
  • For the English localization of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Tsubasa, Itsuki, and Touma were aged up from seventeen to eighteen.
  • Batman: The Telltale Series:
    • Traditionally in the comics, the Penguin has a few years on Batman, but here, Oswald Cobblepot is the same age as Bruce and they even went to school together.
    • The Riddler, as he appears in Season Two, is sixty years old and was a criminal back during Thomas Wayne's time.
  • Very early documents about the Super Mario Bros. call Mario a middle aged man (his preliminary design in Donkey Kong was even codenamed "Ossan"/"old man" in Japanese), but by the time the 1990s rolled around he had been aged down into his mid-twenties.
  • The various iterations of Impa from The Legend of Zelda have frequently had her age changed across the games (and it's more noticeable with her than with Link and Zelda, who are similarly Legacy Characters but who have more consistently been portrayed as pre-teens or teenagers). The manuals for the first game and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link portray her as an Old Retainer, but in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time she's middle aged at the oldest (her former elderly version is referenced by reinterpreting her aged whitened hair as Mystical White Hair, a feature later extended to the entirety of her Sheikah tribe). The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword made her even younger, barely older than the teenaged Zelda though it's revealed the unnamed Old Woman who helps Link throughout the plot is actually a future Impa who took The Slow Path to guard the sleeping Zelda in the Sealed Temple. She's back to being an old woman in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, though as shown in the game's prequel Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, she's actually chronologically around the same age as Link and Zelda.
  • In the comics, Damian Wayne's age is somewhat nebulous and depends on who is writing him, but he's usually depicted as a middle schooler at the absolute oldest.note  In Injustice: Gods Among Us, he's a grown adult and has taken on the Nightwing mantle. Even in Injustice 2's flashback to Damian's time as Robin ten years earlier, he's still clearly older than 13.
  • Spider-Man (PS4):
    • Silver Sable is a little older than Peter in the game, whereas in the comics, they're suggested to be around the same age.
    • Spider-Man: Miles Morales sees the Tinkerer presented as a young African-American girl as opposed to an old white man. Related to this, Rick Mason is the Tinkerer's older brother, not son.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest I: King Lorik XVI, who is an old, white-bearded man in the original NES game, looks twenty years younger in the remakes.
    • Dragon Quest IV: Orin goes from a relatively young man in the NES version to a middle aged man in the remakes.
    • Dragon Quest V: Tuppence looked to be around thirty in the original version of the game, while in the remake he is specifically stated to be about the same age as the Hero when he's recruited.
  • Giana Sisters: The titular character, who was a teenager (maybe even a young adult) in the original The Great Giana Sisters, is aged down to a little girl in the Giana Sisters DS reboot.
  • As suggested by him looking up porn and drinking alcohol, OMORI is in his late teens or early adulthood in the original comics. In the game, he is established as no older than 12 years old.
  • Friday Night Funkin': B3 Remixed: While Girlfriend is canonically 19~20, Shaya is 100 years old.

    Visual Novels 
  • All Western-released materials of Fate/stay night come with a disclaimer that all of the characters are 18 or older in order to make the sex scenes legal, despite Shirou, Rin, and Sakura being 17 and 16 respectively in the Japanese version with Saber being physically a year younger.
  • In the original novel, the protagonist Sara Crewe was seven years old when she came to the boarding school. The VN adaptation, A Little Lily Princess aged her up to fifteen alongside Ermengarde. Presumably to reduce the age gap between romanceable routes.

    Web Animation 
  • DC Super Hero Girls, where dozens of 20-something and 30-something characters are aged down into high schoolers. It isn't terribly consistent with who gets de-aged though, as Batman and Superman are adults yet Wonder Woman, Barry Allen, and Hal Jordan are teenagers.
  • In Etra-chan saw it!, the characters' ages vary wildly from one story to the next, ranging from children to elders, depending on what role they're playing. Notably, Azami is the character whose age is the most consistent, with her being portrayed as an older woman in most of her appearances.

  • In Five Kids at Freddy's, one of the missing children is actually a teenager, in order to make storytelling easier with a Minimalist Cast.
  • The Lithuanian translation of Homestuck changes the ages of the main heroes from 13 to 16, explaining it by the fact that it began precisely three years after the original.
  • The author of Bob and George treats the robot characters as if they're young adults, rather than the children/teenagers they are in canon Megaman games.
  • Most interpretations of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon depict them as being middle-aged to relatively old men with thick beards. However, in Lore Olympus, a modern retelling of Greek mythology, they're depicted as clean-shaven businessmen who look and act like they're in their mid-thirties.
  • Kiwi Blitz: The major character Chandra is stated to be eleven years old. When she later makes a Crossover Cameo in Sleepless Domain, Word of God is that she's been aged up slightly, to facilitate her being a Magical Girl.

    Web Original 
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a Setting Update of Jane Eyre. Lots of changes in characters' ages were done; mostly because the production team of the webseries were recent graduates when they started, and some of them were friends from school, which means they are more or less the same age:
    • Jane Eyre was 18 in the novel; here she's 21 and a college graduate with a degree in nursing. Her actress is 24.
    • Grace Poole is a Composite Character, combining weird and mysterious Grace Poole with caring and friendly Mrs Fairfax. She's significantly younger than both women of the book, especially Mrs Fairfax who was probably in her fifties or sixties. It shouldn't hurt the story, though, except that the audience could cringe that there are no old people.
    • Mr Rochester is thirty-sh. He is younger than his book equivalent who was in his mid-to-late thirties. The age gap between him and Jane was important for the story; it's smaller here, but it still applies.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a Setting Update of Pride and Prejudice. Several changes regarding ages were employed, mostly to set some characters in graduate school or avoid unfortunate implications or plot holes. Some characters were still teenagers in the book. In the modern day States, a twenty-something is seducing or abusing a fifteen-year-old girl? Call the police and arrest that pervert.
    • Lydia Bennet turned 21 in the web series. In the book, she was 15.
    • Gigi Darcy is in her early twenties. Miss Darcy was 16 in the novel.
    • Elizabeth Bennet was 20, and it was lifted to 24 with Lizzie.
    • Charlotte Lucas was 27 in the book; Charlotte Lu is 24 as Lizzie: they are best friends ever and go together to graduate school.
    • Jane Bennet was 23 in the novel; here she's still the eldest sister, so she's obviously older. The writers have stated she's 'around thirty'.

Alternative Title(s): Adaptational Aging, Playing Hamlet