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Cast from Lifespan

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"We diviners shorten our own lifespans each time we choose to consciously look into the future. That is the true power of a diviner. Everything else is just a collection of useful little spells that can't be considered anything more than hat tricks."
Elder Rinia, The Beginning After the End

Sometimes, powers are free. Sometimes, they have a price. There is a kind of price which is not paid immediately on screen (i.e. Heroic RRoD/Villainous RRoD or body damage).

Your lifespan.

Sure, you can warp reality or heal your wounds instantly, but never forget that each time you use your power, you come closer and closer to your coffin, and there is nothing that you can do about it.

The price can be paid in different ways, and for a number of reasons:

If you have such a power, you either are Blessed with Suck or can use it as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique.

Actual consequences may be shown on screen for a Downer Ending if the power belongs to a main character, or a Tear Jerker if it's secondary. The main appeal of this trope for writers, however, is that it gives a way to put a very real Drama-Preserving Handicap onto various abilities, without Cast from Hit Points' issues of hindering the character in the short term. Those years come off the end of the character's life, after all, and after the story is over they can drop dead whenever it is convenient to do so. Because of this, it can often become an Informed Flaw, as it's hard to tell if a character's lifespan actually got shortened if the side effects only kick in twenty years later.

Subtrope to Cast from Hit Points, with the difference being that that trope allows life energy to be recovered over time. Compare Rapid Aging as a side effect of some versions of Cast From Lifespan. While less squicky and immediately harmful than Blood Magic, magic Cast From Lifespan can be more dangerous in the long-term and has even worse ethical ramifications if you aren't paying the price yourself. A revive spell that is also this will likely fall into Sacrificial Revival Spell. The existence of this trope in a magic system tends to be detrimental to the trend that Wizards Live Longer.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Chise from The Ancient Magus' Bride is a Sleigh Beggy, a rare, powerful mage with a drastically shortened lifespan.
  • Zearth from Bokurano: to operate it, it costs the pilot his or her entire lifespan.
  • In Chainsaw Man, a Deal with the Devil commonly takes this form, allowing Devil Hunters to use a Devil's powers in exchange for years of their life. Examples include Aki's sword from the Curse Devil and the President of the United States offering the Gun Devil a year of life from every American to kill Makima.
  • Cheeky Angel the demon gives you the opposite of what you wish for then offers to trade 10 years of your life to undo the wish.
  • Chrono Crusade: Chrono is powered by Rosette's Life Energy, shortening her lifespan. Early on, she comments that she probably won't make it to age 30. It leads to her death at the end of the anime. In the manga, it leads to her becoming an ill girl by the end, and she dies at age 24.
  • D.Gray-Man: The parasitic-type exorcist suffers this because their weapon is fused with their organism. So every time they fight, this uses their life energy and reduces their lifespan.
    • Kanda's regeneration ability similarly uses his lifespan. As well as the upper illusions of his innocence that directly convert his lifespan in power. The fifth illusion is said to "sublimate his soul".
  • In Darker than Black, there was a contractor whose remuneration was aging each time she used her power. Another's was aging backward; overusing it would cause her to remove herself from existence.
  • In Date A Live, when Kurumi Tokisaki uses her powers, she drains her "time" (represented by a clock in her left eye). She can replenish it by draining time from other people.
  • Death Note: You can have Shinigami eyes for half of your lifespan. (That's half your remaining lifespan, so the longer you have left to live, the more time it'll cost you.) Even if you lose the power, you don't get the time back, but you can choose to make the deal again as many times as you want, halving your remaining lifespan each time.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In addition to being Cast from Hit Points, the Tri-Beam is stated on its first use to shorten your lifespan even if it doesn't kill you. This is then completely forgotten about, as within ten episodes Tien feels free to use it for such mundane tasks as clearing a large amount of ice to find a Dragon Ball faster.
    • In Dragon Ball, every time King Piccolo spawns one of his sons, it drains his life force. He loses this weakness after wishing to have his youth restored.
    • An interesting variant occurs in the Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z: Goku is already dead, but has been allowed to return to the world of the living for 24 hours so he can spend the day with his friends and family. During the battle with Buu that begins on that day, Goku transforms into the new Super Saiyan 3 form... which is such a massive energy drain that it burns through all of Goku's allotted time on Earth, forcing him to return to Other World early.
    • Dragon Ball Super has Granolah, in a thirst for revenge, steal a set of weaker Dragon Balls in an attempt to wish to be the strongest in the universe. While the dragon isn't powerful enough to just create that much power for free, it does suggest the next best thing; by reducing Granolah's lifespan, he can immediately acquire all the strength he could have acquired in that time. Granolah agrees to these terms and trades 150 years of his life, giving him 3 years left to live. In response, the Heeters use the Dragon Balls themselves to use the exact same wish to make Gas even stronger. It turns out to take so much of his lifespan to accomplish that he starts dying of old age within hours.
  • After Lucy's power increases in Elfen Lied, it becomes a variant of this (specifically, the use of her vectors causes her bodily entropy to increase at a rapid rate, basically resulting in her disintegrating with each use of her powers).
  • In Fairy Tail, there are several types of powerful Magic that burn through the user's lifespan if overused.
    • Angel's Angel Magic works by creating golden coins, each one representing a portion of her lifespan and a cost of "10". By creating and using a certain number of coins and cost, she can summon angels to fight on her behalf, but not only does this drain her lifespan with each use, if they're destroyed she suffers extreme pain. She doesn't care at first, and even relishes the idea of someday "dying and becoming an angel in Heaven", but overuse of her Magic and Gray calling her out on her death wish and desire to throw her life eventually turns her "angels" into Eldritch Abominations that try to consume her and Gray, and she's only saved by Gray destroying them and another ally "refunding" her lifespan. She starts being more careful after that and even seemingly figures out how to summon angels without using the coins.
    • Ultear's ability to travel through time works this way. However, using it results in her rapidly aging to become an old woman, and to add insult to injury, it takes her entire lifespan to go back one minute. Fortunately, that one minute is all that the rest of the cast needs to turn the ongoing predicament in their favour.
    • Ever wondered why Makarov doesn't just nuke his enemies with Fairy Law all the time? Turns out the price to pay for casting the spell is effectively this trope. The amount of lifespan one must pay using the spell is proportionate to the number of enemies eradicated. The larger the number of enemies are, the greater amount of life force is paid in exchange.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, a familiar with the Lifdrasir runes can transfer his or her life energy into a void wizard to power up his or her spells. Unfortunately, the life energy does not regenerate, so if this technique is done too many times, the familiar will die. Fortunately for Saito, his Gandalfr runes gave him extra life energy, allowing him to survive his final use of the technique in the series finale and still live a normal lifespan. His Lifdrasir runes are canceled afterwards.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed once used his own soul as a Philosopher's Stone, a huge energy source, itself made of souls, to heal himself from mortal wounds, shortening his lifespan in the process. Bleeding out from a massive abdominal wound would of course have shortened his lifespan a lot faster, so it seems like a good trade-off... except that one of Ed's new allies finds an actual Philosopher's Stone 30 feet away not 5 minutes later. Given Ed's opinion of the Philosopher's Stone creation process, it's unlikely he would've used it even if they'd found it sooner.
  • In Gakuen Alice there are four possible "forms" of Alice manifestation, one of which (the Limited) would deteriorate its wielder's body as it is used, and would eventually kill the person if overused.
  • In Hibiki's Magic, the director of the Mage school has his lifespan exchanged for his magic.
  • In The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter, Luna possesses an ability that allows her to dispel curses, but it brings her closer to death with every use in direct proportion to the strength of the curse being lifted. Noir uses magic to change the nature of the ability to instead remove curses proportional to her finances.
  • High School D×D:
    • Issei compromises his lifespan several times. He's first warned he cost himself some time when incorporating a fragment of Divine Dividing into Boosted Gear, and later costs himself 99% of his lifespan by activating Juggernaut Drive the first time. He eventually uses what life he has left to defend Ophis. He's rewarded for the Heroic Sacrifice by being resurrected in a new body that can handle the strain of his abilities without sending him to an early grave which also restores the lifespan he lost from his previous actions.
    • Siegfried wields the sword Gram, which decreases the lifespan of anyone who wields it carelessly like he does, and it hurts him even more than usual because he is part dragon and it is a dragonslaying sword with an anti-dragon aura. When Kiba kills him and claims Gram, he trains to master it so he can wield it without it hurting him.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Kurapika learns how to activate his Emperor Time ability at will instead of only when under large emotional stress, but it will remove one hour from his lifespan for each second it's used in this way.
  • In Kanon, Makoto is able to become human at the cost of her memories and her life.
  • Robert from The Law of Ueki has this. Each use of his ability cost him a year of lifespan.
  • In Macross Delta, the Windermerians have superior physical and sensory abilities compared to the other "Children of the Protoculture", but they pay for it with an incredibly short lifespan (only thirty to thirty-five years); they basically "burn out" much quicker than other species.
  • In the manga Magical Girl Site, whenever a magical girl uses her stick, her lifespan is shortened. As such, whenever a character goes overboard with their stick, expect a rather messy Psychic Nosebleed to occur. One of the magical girls has used her powers so much, she has the internal organs of a 70-year-old!
  • In Mahoromatic, everything Mahoro does costs her a certain amount of energy (which can't be refilled for some reason). Even if she doesn't use her combat abilities, she's got about a year to go when the series starts. Using those abilities costs her a lot more, and she keeps being forced to. At the end of the series, she would have died at any moment even if she hadn't made a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Maken-ki!: Blood Pointer allows the user to empower themselves by drawing "Element" from the surrounding environment and, if need be, from the user's own raw emotion. But it also causes them gradually succumb to sickness with each use, and can eventually result in their death. It's said to be the curse of Yabiko Himegami's bloodline and the Oyama Family are his direct descendants.
  • Inverted with Loco from MÄR who uses powerful darkness ÄRM which operate at the cost of de-aging her. While actually 32 years old, she appears to be about 10 at her first appearance and ends up de-aged all the way to being a baby in the finale. Oddly the possibility of using this "negative" effect to prolong her lifespan is never addressed and she consistently treats it like a bad thing.
  • In My Hero Academia, it is ultimately revealed that this is the fate of the users of One for All should they already have Quirks. As it turns out, so many Quirks at once wrecks a Quirk user's life force. No one knew of it because most died at All for One's hands before they learned of it with only one user dying of natural causes learning so (and even then, he died at the age of 40). Why don't All Might and Izuku Midoriya suffer this? They were Quirkless, thus their bodies can handle the power.
  • In Nabari no Ou, Yoite's Kira technique continually saps his lifespan. By the beginning of the series, he only has 1 or 2 months left to live. He dies from this in both the anime and the manga.
  • Naruto:
    • Tsunade's and Naruto's healing factor makes them age faster. Technically, they both involve making their cells regenerate faster, but since cells only have a limited number of regenerations, this means they will run out of regenerative cycles and start dying of old age sooner. As a result, Tsunade uses her Healing Factor only when not using it would shorten her lifespan rather more suddenly. And since Naruto is an Uzumaki, "sooner" for him likely involves being well over 70.
    • Pain's most powerful attacks are also cast from lifespan. He ends up expending all of it and dying by resurrecting the people of the village he just destroyed.
    • This isn't as much of a problem for Naruto or Nagato since the Uzumaki clan have very long natural lifespans.
      • Tsunade herself is 1/4 Uzumaki, but when she lets down her youthful appearance genjutsu, she looks much older than her mid-50's, suggesting that she has been using her healing factor or other Cast From Life Span techniques to the point of aging faster even with the Uzumaki blood. How long a pure-blood Uzumaki could live is not actually stated, though it was enough to get them dubbed, "The Clan of Longevity".
    • Turns out to be an Informed Flaw in Tsunade's case. She's still shown to be alive in the series' epilogue when she'd be around 70 years old, and there's no indication that she's in poor health.

  • This is how necromancy works in Necromancer with three years of life (or less if there isn't enough) taken and given to the resurrected.
  • One Piece:
    • Body strain from Luffy's Gear Second shortens his lifespan. After the Time Skip, Luffy seems to enter Gear Second for almost every attack, usually averting the consequences of the action by staying in this form for just enough time to launch the attack.
    • He also was healed from uncurable poison. Cost? 10 years of his lifespan (and an estimated 2 days of torture by having the cells in his body destroyed by poison and healed in rapid succession) in exchange for boosting his survival rate from 0% to a measly 3%. (Luffy beat the poison in 20 hours instead of the estimated 2 days, did they mention that the survival was dependent on the will to live?)
    • The Energy Steroids from the Fishman Island Arc temporarily double the user's strength at the cost of shortening their lifespan. The villains of the week take so many in their attempt to take over Fishman Island that they're all old men by the end of the arc. Bonus points for the steroids not remotely helping them fight the Straw Hats.
  • In Talentless Nana, Michiru Inukai has the "Talent" of healing any external injuries like cuts and punctures via Wound Licking. It drains her lifespan and overusing the talent can lead to physical exhaustion or in the most extreme cases, death, where it turns into a Sacrificial Revival Spell instead.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: During Tenchi's closing narration of the first movie (Tenchi Muyo! in Love), he explains that his mother, Achika, died because the Juraian power that would've sustained her life was passed onto him, during his birth. She passed away only several years later.
  • Vash from Trigun has various inhuman powers including the hilariously powerful Angel Arm which can put a huge crater in the moon with only a single shot. Too bad every use of his powers costs him a portion of his lifespan as measured by the color of his hair: human-form Plants start out as blonde with their hair darkening as their internal power is spent. If it turns fully black, they die. By the time Knives is defeated in the manga, Vash's hair is almost completely black. And this is after we're told that Vash could easily use his powers to regenerate all the scars his body bears but chooses not to. He most likely knows this trope is in effect and doesn't use his powers for trivial purposes (as well as invoking Be All My Sins Remembered by retaining them).
  • In Violinist of Hameln, Flute and her mother can heal anyone but at the cost of their own lives. To compensate, they have extra-long lives.
  • In the Not Safe for Work manga The Witches Of Adamas, the protagonist has a condition called Adamas Syndrome, which causes him to ejaculate rose diamonds worth 5 million yen. However, each time he ejaculates he loses a year of his lifespan, and several witches are after him for the diamonds.
  • Parodied in The World God Only Knows with Keima's "God of Conquest Mode," which allows him to play several Dating Sims simultaneously, but supposedly uses up 3 years of his life for every hour he uses it, or at least that's how you'll feel. In the end, the only real consequence is passing out and hallucinating.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Legion of Super-Heroes, Kid Psycho could project a forcefield at the cost of one year of his life.
  • The Batman villain Bag O'Bones could become invisible, except for his bones, and gained electrical powers, but for each second he spent in that state he lost a day of his life.
  • In the Shadowpact books, Enchantress is mentioned using a spell that takes a year off her life to keep her team's leader Nightmaster alive for either another hour or another day. However, it's also mentioned that she's supposed to live for centuries like a lot of other magic users in the DC Universe so she probably doesn't mind nearly as much as a normal person would
  • In one popular version of Barry Allen's origin (the retelling in Secret Origins Annual #2), the lightning bolt that gives him his powers actually speaks, offering him the choice of whether to accept. It warns him that his life will be shorter if he does. (How does it know? Because it's Barry himself, at another point in the closed electrical/temporal circuit of his life.)
    • Flash's successor, Wally West, once had to heal from repeated lightning bolts cast down upon him by Kadabra, he did this by speeding up his body's natural healing process so quickly he basically aged himself a couple of years.
  • In X-Men Forever, the more a mutant uses his powers, the shorter their lifespan becomes. That is why there are so few old mutants. Not explained is how this can be reconciled with explicitly immortal mutants like Apocalypse...who also uses his powers a lot.
  • The Great Ten's Immortal Man in Darkness pilots the otherworldly fighter known as the Dragonwing. Each flight of the Dragonwing takes a year off his life. Pilots tend to last between 7 months and a year before a replacement is required, but there is no shortage of volunteers.
  • At the beginning of Spawn, every time Spawn used one of his powers, he was closer to dying and going back to hell and the reader was constantly reminded of this at first by the appearance of his power bar. After a while, the power bar appeared less and less, until the creators seemed to forget about it altogether. Recently, having lost the throne of Hell (and the unlimited power it maintains), Spawn has limited power again, cued by the reappearance of the power bar.
  • Used in a particularly barmy (probably Italiannote ) Scrooge McDuck story. Let's see... Scrooge finds out that if you travel to the centre of the Earth (beware the giant snails!), you'll find a smaller Earth whence all time originates, and there the keepers of time can give you the key to time, which enables you to operate on all time zones at once. (No one knows what that's supposed to mean, not even after he starts doing it, but it's the key to making boatloads of money.) But they also give him twenty-four negative briefcases. Those vanish, but they're still with him, much like the key is never shown to be an item but just is in his pocket. Anywho, it turns out that in doing whatever he's doing with the "key", he's also consuming his own time twenty-four times faster. Not that it's very relevant since very shortly he would have been crushed by the weight of the briefcases anyway, whatever that means. Um. Got it?
  • In Marvel's Mystery Men limited series (set in the 1930s, with a distinct period feel to it), the hero Achilles loses a year of his life for every day he uses his powers. On the other hand, he regains a year of life for every person he kills as Achilles. His fights thus tend to be bloodbaths.
  • The lead character in Sub Human doubles up her life energy every second, giving her roughly twice human capacity in strength, speed, etc., at the cost of half a normal human's lifespan. The villain in the book has the same deal, but is trying to avoid the cost.
  • In the post-Original Sin Thor series, it's revealed that the new female Thor, Jane Foster suffers from this when she becomes Thor as transforming causes the effects of her chemo that would treat her cancer null, thus causing her cancer to spread once she reverts. She doesn't care, though.
  • The Phoenix Force of The X-Men derives its power from the reserve of life energy left for new generations. So anytime someone uses the phoenix power they're reducing the capacity for a baby to be born in the future. Since the Phoenix's primary activity seems to be destroying planets at "evolutionary dead-ends" this might even out.
  • Both Nightmask and (as of The Avengers (Jason Aaron)) Starbrand have this. In the former case, it's an unusual variant in that he actually gets younger every time he uses his powers, thanks to the universe being "broken" in the run-up to Secret Wars (2015). In the latter case, it's implied that Starbrands burn out at a rate dependent on how much of their power they use - so, a standard fight won't do much, but a massive energy blast designed to counter potential planet busting Ghost Rider bombs will turn the current Starbrand from bratty child to young woman in one fell swoop.
  • Gotham and Gotham Girl of Batman bought powers like flight, super strength, and super vision but every time they use those powers, they lose their lifespan.
  • A story arc spanning Marvel Comics' Avengers issues #281-285 saw the team up against the Greek gods, who blamed Earth's Mightiest Heroes for injuries team member Hercules sustained in battle. One of their main allies on Mount Olympus was the Titan Prometheus, who sought to quell the conflict by waking Hercules from his injury-induced coma, imparting part of his own immortal lifeforce to do so. The results were reflected in new wrinkles on the face of the previously ageless Prometheus, as well as grey hairs.
  • Sunspot's power allows him to absorb energy from the sun and turn it into Super Strength, flight, or energy beams. Then he contracted the M-Pox sickness, which sent his powers haywire: he can still use them, but he absorbs so much energy that it takes a huge tax on his body and chafes a few years off his lifespan (which is first shown with a streak of his hair turning white prematurely).
  • Inverted by Number Five from The Umbrella Academy when travelling back in time for the first time turned him from an old man into a 10-year-old boy. He later refuses to use his power again for fear of de-aging to infancy.

  • Invoked in Avenger Goddess, when the Iron Monger armor is modified so that Obadiah Stane serves as the power source for it; after a few minutes inside the armor, Stane is reduced to a skeletal-looking version of himself, and even after he is removed from the armor it still keeps moving, Tony speculating it's trying to find a new 'battery'.
  • The idea of life sources powering magic features in The Gotham Knights of Middle-Earth; after Tim Drake and Cassandra Cain have been trapped in Middle-Earth for a few months, Raven is able to open a portal to retrieve them by drawing on the life energy of those close to Tim and Cass. However, since she was drawing on the energies of the rest of the Bat-Family and the Teen Titans, as well as additional assistance from Doctor Fate and Zatanna, Raven didn’t drain enough energy from anyone for it to have a serious impact on their health.
  • Kimberly T's Gargoyles features the Manhattan Clan visiting a clan of gargoyles in New Orleans, who are revealed to be the original owners of the Praying Gargoyle statue that Demona previously tried to use. The tales of the clan's history reveal that the Praying Gargoyle works by taking life-essence from the gargoyle using it to cast particular spells; reference is made to one gargoyle shaman being aged almost a century when he used it for a particularly elaborate spell. It is speculated that this was intended to ensure that the statue could only be used in the most dire situations when all non-magical solutions had failed.
  • In The Last Connor, part of the reason Pops has remained in ‘stand-by mode’ for a couple of centuries is that the ‘upgrade’ that gave him T-1000-esque shapeshifting abilities is also a drain on his power supply, so he remained offline to conserve power. As events unfold, Pops’ power supply continues to run down, forcing him to increasingly improvise or time his actions just right so that he expends the least amount of power possible to defeat the current threat.
  • Harry in The Next Great Adventure admits to one of his companions that the reason only he can use a ritual that brings the Forsaken back to life is because "all the years [they] now have to live have to come from somewhere."
  • Invoked in Pokemon: Shadow of Time; when Ash and his Pokémon are sent back in time to a new reality, his Pokémon retain all the moves they learned in their original timeline while returning to their younger bodies, but Pikachu notes that if Pidgeotto tries to use Hyper Beam in her younger body, it could start draining her very life energy.
  • In the Triptych Continuum, this can potentially be done by every single pony in Equestria. If the need is truly there and there's no other way out, any pony can choose to put the last of themselves into their magic, trading their existence for a closing surge of strength. This final burst of energy can be directed into any magic the pony has, including racial abilities and their mark talent. The event is extremely rare, frequently spectacular in what it can achieve — and invariably fatal.
  • In This time we do it right using life force to power your spells is considered dark because you can't get it back.
  • In the Twilight Storm series, "The Perils of Lorindar" features Snow White being forced to summon the seven dwarves to fight Omega, even though summoning those spirits will cost her seven years of her life. Fortunately, the Doctor is able to transfer some of his life energy to Snow so that she can summon the dwarves without losing any years herself.

    Folklore & Mythology 
  • Leanan Sidhe from Irish folklore usually is known as The Muse who gives artistic humans so much inspiration at the cost of dying younger.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad: Each time Prince Koura used his black magic he became older. By the time he confronted Sinbad at the Fountain of Destiny he was an old man.
    Prince Koura: To summon the demons of darkness has a price. And each time I call upon them, it consumes part of me.
  • All magic users over the age of 18 in The Covenant are like this; you even get to see the consequences via one man who looks probably 30 years older than he should.
  • In Clockstoppers, a Hypertime watch works by rendering someone's molecules into a hyper-accelerated state, allowing them to perceive the world as if time is standing still. Unfortunately, this eventually causes users to suffer from rapid aging as a side-effect. The villains plan to counteract this is to kidnap scientists and force them to work on a de-aging device. As extra incentive to succeed, they're forced to work on this device whilst in Hypertime.
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (best known for its Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode), states that all magic artificially ages the user. The finale to the first story in the anthology culminates in the magic user needing to concoct a youth potion to counteract the effects.
  • Lamia from Stardust, each spell she uses drains a little bit of the good looks she got from eating the last of the previous star. This leads to a funny scene where she repeatedly tries to use magic to undo signs of age in one spot on her body only for it to cause signs of age to appear on another spot.


By Author:

  • In Diane Duane's novels:
    • In The Tale of the Five books, wielders of the Fire die young.
    • In the Young Wizards series, powerful spells may result in a reduced lifespan or death. Much of Deep Wizardry revolves around Nita's participation in a ritual that requires the central wizard's death (Nita being chosen by fate because she already owed some hundred years of lifespan after the first book), and in High Wizardry she uses a shield spell that drains a year of the wizard's life each time it's activated.
    • Similarly, in The Book of Night with Moon (which takes place in the same setting as the Young Wizards series), one of the cats sacrifices one of her nine lives to fuel a wizardry.
  • In Robert Holdstock's Merlin books, the wizard, whose power is written on his bones, is reluctant to use power for fear of using himself up.

By Work:

  • Angel Mage: This is how angelic magic works. For low-ranking seraphim or cherubim, calling on one will take off a few hours, but the principalities and archangels take off years. High-ranking mages like the Cardinals always look a couple decades older than they actually are. The sole exception averts this through having consumed a number of lesser angels to make herself ageless.
  • In one of the Artemis Fowl books, Holly uses magic to heal Butler from a fatal gunshot wound, but her magic is not enough and the spell starts drawing on Butler's life energy as well. For the rest of the series, his body is about ten years older, although they use plastic surgery to mask it.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy:
    • In The Ring of Solomon, the titular Ring of Solomon is essentially this. Touching the ring brings forth a multitude of spirits while twisting it upon the finger calls a spirit of unparalleled power. However, even just wearing the ring causes the owner immense pain and every use ages the wearer a little, sapping their life energies.
    • In ''Ptolemy's Gate", the titular spell allows Kitty to astrally project into the Other Place but she finds her body has aged decades when she gets back.
  • In The Beginning After the End, diviners are forced to draw upon their own lifespan in order to see the future. This is because divination, as a deviant form of magic, is not powered by their mana cores. In the backstory, Queen Lania of Elenoir, Virion's wife and and Rinia's sister, ended up burning away her lifespan in order to save her husband from an assassination attempt by the then-King of Sapin by continuously looking into the future in order to find an outcome wherein he survived. She was ultimately successful in that her attempts bought enough time for the King of Sapin's son (Blaine Glayder, the present-day King of Sapin) to kill his father and end the war, but she died a few weeks afterward, leaving her family with guilt and prejudice towards humanity for years afterward until the main protagonist Arthur rescued Princess Tessia from slave traders.
  • In P.B. Kerr's Children of the Lamp series, any djinn who uses their powers will reduce their lifespan. How much varies depending on the power used, but granting a typical wish will cost someone about a day of their life. Considering that djinn can live over 500 years, and entering a lamp puts them in suspended animation where they don't age, this isn't all too bad.
  • The Cosmere:
    • The Stormlight Archive features Soulcasters, magical artifacts able to transmute materials into other, specific materials. This includes Mundane Utility like turning rocks into grain, or building an object out of wood and then transmuting it to iron, and also has limited application in combat — in one scene, a Soulcaster is used to turn a group of assailants into fire, killing them instantly. Each Soulcaster is able to transmute materials into one to three substances, depending on the device. The Soulcasters are treated as holy relics, with only specific members of the priesthood allowed to use them. It turns out that this is because extended use of a Soulcaster will slowly turn the user's flesh into the substances the Soulcaster creates, eventually killing them.
    • Mistborn plays with this trope. The magical discipline of Feruchemy allows the feruchemist to store a particular attribute in the appropriate metal and recall it later. While the more practical attributes get most of the screen time — memory, strength, and health — youth can also be stored. The trouble is that there is a certain inefficiency in storing and withdrawing attributes, meaning a slightly less than one-hundred percent return, making storing youth a fool's errand, since one will ultimately end up older for having stored and withdrawn youth than by simply living as normal. This turns out to be a plot point, as the Big Bad has devised a way to Rules Lawyer the system by mixing it with a different magic system in the setting.
  • Kiva in Counselors and Kings loses her wizard's powers at the end of the first book. She gets them back partway through the second, but only through a difficult magical process that causes her to age visibly.
  • In one of the multidinous Dragonlance books a mage casts Haste (which speeds you up and alters your perception of time) on himself and a buddy so that they can run faster for a time. He neglects to tell his friend that they have just shed a year of life in the process thanks to the rapid flow of time in their bodies.
  • In Firestarter Andy Mcgee has the ability to implant suggestions into others, however each time he uses the power he damages his own brain, and knows that eventually it'll kill him.
  • One of the even-more-multitudinous Forgotten Realms series, the Cleric Quintet, concludes with a Bittersweet Ending in which Cadderly, the protagonist, uses divine magic Cast from Lifespan to construct a cathedral to his god, reducing himself to an old man even as his Love Interest remains youthful. A cameo appearance in one of the Drizzt Do'Urden books implies that his god, as a reward for his willingness to make the sacrifice, is slowly restoring his youth.
  • The elder Giver in The Giver mentions that using his memory-absorbing power has "aged" him; though it isn't clear whether it has actually shortened his life, or if he just looks much older than he really is.
  • Goldmage is based on the existence of various coloured mages with potent abilities but debilitating costs. The eponymous goldmages can pause or even jump back in time, but rapidly expend their own lifespan to do it, an hour for every frozen second, and vastly more as long as multiple copies of them exist. They still look normal afterward, but will eventually drop dead when their time is up.
  • The children's book and movie The Halloween Tree involves a group of children questing to save the life of their friend Pipkin, who has appendicitis. In the end, each gives up a year of his or her life in exchange for saving their friend.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's Infinity Blade series, the healing rings speed up the body's natural healing processes, aging you about six months with each use. Also provides the Required Secondary Power of instant beard growth.
  • Walt from The Kane Chronicles is affected by Akhenaton's Curse, which means he won't live past his teens and using magic makes his life even shorter. Luckily he gets resurrected as a host of Anubis, making him immortal.
    Walt Stone: Sadie, I've thought of that. I've thought of everything. The curse can't be cured. It can only be slowed down if...if I avoid magic. That's why I got into talismans and amulets. They store magic in advance, so they don't require as much from the user. But it's only helped a little bit. I was born to do magic, so the curse progresses in me no matter what I do. Some days it's not so bad. Some days my whole body is in pain. When I do magic, it gets worse.
    Sadie Kane: And the more you do...?
    Walt Stone: ...The faster I die.
  • In Nora Roberts' Key Trilogy, three women are tasked with finding three keys, with the caveat that if they fail, each loses an undisclosed year of her life.
  • In The Laundry Files, anyone performing magic directly (instead of using a computer, which is a perfectly viable option since all magic is math) will eventually fall prey to K-syndrome. Particularly nasty since long before it kills you outright, K-syndrome causes incurable early-onset dementia. Even more nasty when you know the mechanism: performing magic attracts inter-dimensional brain-eating parasites, and they're always hungry...
  • The Lightbringer Series.
    • Played with in regards to "drafting." Each drafter can call on one to seven colors of magic (plus a few secret bonus colors) to create physical constructs out of solid light called Luxin, with each color having their own strengths and weaknesses and uses. Drafting causes the drafter's irises to fill up with the color(s) they use. When the color extends past the border of the iris, the drafter "breaks the halo," becoming a "color wight." Color wights' minds are more connected with the mental traits of their color(s) and feel the compunction to replace parts of their body with Luxin. The only escape from this color-induced madness is to either avoid it by willingly ceasing to draft when one's halo has grown thin or to die. Most drafters can expect to reach the limits of their halo well before age forty, and those who draft large amounts frequently can get there as early as the late teens.
    • This trope is played considerably straighter with the revelation midway through the first book that "The Freeing," is a holy ritualistic murder of drafters who are about to or just have broken the halo. The existence of this practice is a major sticking point for both sides of the conflict.
  • In Lost In The Moment And Found, this is The Reveal. Opening a Portal Door to the Shop Where The Lost Things Go ages the opener by two days — not much for a customer, but Antsy works there and opens multiple Doors every day for years, leaving her a little girl in a young adult body by the time she learns she'd been Locked Out of the Loop.
  • This is a fundamental tenet of the world of Maburaho — every person has a certain number of times they can use magic, after which they turn to ash.
  • In the Magic Or Madness trilogy, using magic costs you your lifespan. However, not using your magic costs you your sanity, so it sucks either way.
  • This trope is foundational to the Magister Trilogy. Whenever anyone casts a spell, it costs them part of their allotted lifespan, and human society is built upon the sacrifices of witches. Magisters seem to be able to circumvent this law and do any magic without ever paying for it, but even they are afraid of what would happen if the secret behind their power ever got out — namely, that their magic is powered by other people's lifespans.
  • Mages from the Mithgar books age rapidly when using their magic, though they can enter a trance-like state to regain their youth (this also allows them to be functionally immortal, as long as they don't over-exert themselves). Black Mages have a way around this by basically becoming psychic vampires, drawing on the fear and misery of others instead of their own lives.
  • In Leah Cutter's Paper Mage, the heroine is horrified that a fellow mage won't help his home city without a huge payment. He explains to her that, unlike her magic, his comes off his lifespan, and the spell that would be required in this case is powerful enough to cost him dearly.
  • In The Princess Series, Snow White can summon aid in the form of the Seven Dwarfs- here elemental spirits-, but the dwarfs, although completely loyal to Snow, take seven years off her life as 'payment', with the result that Snow appears to be in her mid-thirties when she is barely twenty.
  • The Rivers of London series has an instance of Wizards Live Longer/Merlin Sickness, but for most magic users it's shown if you try to do a spell that is excessively powerful or get so addicted to magic that you are constantly doing spells, it can kill you. Magic burns the connections in your brain cells out over time and can, in some cases, lead to brain haemorrhages, so it's best to avoid too much build-up. People who have spells done to them can also succumb to the same effect of magic as well, so it's not only the casters at risk.
  • In the Secret Histories series Wild Witch Molly Metcalf traded several years of her life to gain the powers necessary to avenge the murder of her parents.
  • Some forms of magic in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel age and weaken the caster, even if they're an immortal. Nicholas Flamel himself suffers this throughout the series, as does Machiavelli at the end of the fifth book.
  • In Throne Of The Crescent Moon, Dawoud is a mage whose magic drains him of his life energy.
  • In Dutch author Tais Teng's book Voorbij de Zerken (Beyond the Grave), the Eye of Tiamat functions as a Crystal Ball, giving its user the ability to look anywhere in the universe, but at the cost of their lifespan. The villain forces one of the main character's teachers to use it until she drops dead and later has her use it as well, causing her to age overnight from a teenager into a young adult.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Seanchan suicide assassins known as Bloodknives use magical artifacts to gain extreme strength and speed as well as a cloaking effect. The downside is that once they activate it, it can't be turned off, and they have only a few weeks (at best) before the side effect poisons their blood and kills them.
  • The Qirsi from the Winds of the Forelands are shorter-lived than the non-magical Eandi because their magic burns up their life force.
  • Scion in Worm, not that it makes a difference given how much he has to work with and how strong even his basic powers are. The only ability he has that takes off a significant lifespan chunk is Contessa's "Path to Victory" power, which is such a Story-Breaker Power that his entire arsenal pales in comparison, but is implied to take millennia off his lifespan. It says a lot that he uses it exactly once in the entire story.
  • Toward the end of Alien in a Small Town, it's revealed that the years that cold-loving nonhumanoid alien Paul has spent in Earth's heat have almost certainly accelerated his metabolism and significantly shortened his lifespan. He has no regrets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: This happens to Cordelia Chase after she took on Doyle's visions. Humans aren't strong enough to handle the visions, and they began to cause her extensive brain damage to the extent that she chose to become a half-demon to survive and keep them.
  • A variation is featured in Babylon 5: A healing machine that can heal injuries and restore life by drawing life force from the operator. Treating severe injuries requires a Heroic Sacrifice or operators working in shifts to share the load. If this sounds like a poorly designed piece of medical equipment, then it's worth pointing out that it was designed by an unknown alien race for executions. A condemned person would be hooked up to one side, and a sick person would get the other side.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Rise of the Cybermen": The Tenth Doctor sacrifices ten years of his life to help recharge the TARDIS when it's stuck in a parallel universe. Granted, he has a centuries-long lifespan, and the ability to completely regenerate when near death, but still...
      "I just gave away ten years of my life." [manic grin] "Worth every second!"
    • "The End of Time": The Master is resurrected. However, the ritual is sabotaged, resulting in him winning the Superpower Lottery at the cost of draining his lifespan, resulting in a Horror Hunger that isn't enough to restore the life force the superpowers cost.
      The Doctor: You're burning up your own life force!
    • River uses her remaining regenerations to revive the Doctor at one point; the Doctor later uses some regeneration energy to heal her broken wrist.
  • The Flash (2014): In "Back to Normal", Griffin Grey has Super Strength, but since it works by overexerting his cells, every time he uses it, his body ages. He's only 18 and by the end of the episode, he looks like an old man.
  • In seasons three and four of Heroes, Hiro Nakamura's ability to Time Travel gives him a brain tumor that only gets worse each time he uses his ability. He gets better.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • "Blood Brothers" featured a serum that seemed to cure all ills, like the Fountain of Youth. Too late, the antagonist discovers that instead of simply giving you a new lease of life, it uses up all your life energy in a short burst, followed by Rapid Aging and death.
    • "In The Zone" had an experimental treatment that could give a person Super Speed, but the person ages the more he uses it.
  • Power Rangers Zeo: When Jason takes over as the Gold Zeo Ranger from Trey when he's injured and put out of action. However, the Gold Ranger's powers are not meant for a human, and they start sucking the life out of Jason. This example is unique in that there appear to be no long-term effects, and Jason is perfectly healthy after giving the powers back to Trey.
  • In Reaper, kissing a succubus takes years off the end of your life. You temporarily gain super-strength, super-speed, and the good effects of a hundred cups of coffee.
  • Late in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Shitari gives his second life note  to allow a Monster of the Week to have an even more powerful third life. Of course, he seldom enters the fray, so he was in no real danger of losing his first life until the crossover movie. It's much the same in Power Rangers Samurai, except that movie is never adapted, so as far as we know, Shitari's counterpart Octoroo is still chilling in the Sanzu River, awaiting the next time the Nighloks rise again.
    • Before this, in the crossover with Kamen Rider Decade, the oni Chinomanako steals Daiki Kaito's Diendriver to become Chinomanako Diend. However, doing this cost him his second life, allowing Shinken Red and Kamen Rider Decade Complete Form to finish him off without the threat of growing.
  • In Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger, a Zyuman (Beast Men from the dimension next door) can enable a human to become a Zyuohger (they normally wouldn't be able to use the Transformation Trinket) but at the cost of enough of their life that the two we see do it become old and gray instantly - and there's no returning that power. The Sixth Ranger is powered by the villain's experimentation fatally draining three captives to give him three Ranger modes.
  • Supernatural has two instances of this:
    • A Deal With the Devil usually includes selling your soul after a fixed amount of time (effectively reducing your lifespan to that amount).
    • There was an episode with a magic user who played poker with people, and the chips represented years of his life. If he won he got 25 years back, but if he lost he aged 25 years. He did this so he and his wife could be immortal. He wasn't all bad though (as he keeps telling everyone). Notably, he deliberately folds to let an old man see his grandson grow up.
  • In Teen Wolf, kitsunes can summon Oni (powerful demon warriors) by breaking some of their nine tails, but this drains them of their powers and (it is strongly implied) drastically shortens their otherwise centuries-long lifespans.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Several spells caused aging as a side effect of using them, including Gate, Haste and Wish. Varies from edition to edition. Generally, such costs are much more common in Second Edition than the Third.
    • One possible side effect of using an artifact/relic was aging three to 30 years.
    • In module I9 Ravager of Time the Big Bad Nuala aged one year per spell level each time she cast a spell. She used her Life-Bane power to drain youth from her victims to negate this aging.
    • The Wu Jen spell, Transcend Mortality, takes this to the logical conclusion: You use up all of your lifespan (and lifeforce in general) at once. You'll be more or less entirely indestructible for a while, but after that, you don't just die, you turn to ashes.
    • Quicklings were a race of Fair Folk who were cursed with Super Speed by The Queen Of Air and Darkness at the cost of shortening their lifespans to 15 years at most.
  • Exalted has Tien Yu, the Goddess of Lookshy, whose most powerful attack, Lance of a Fallen Era, shortens the lifespan of the city of Lookshy by a number of days equal to the damage it does.
    • This makes perfect sense when you consider that Lookshy fields the Gunzosha commandos. Gunzosha power armor is one of the few artifacts in the entire game line that can be used by non-Essence users — at the cost of a year of your life for every twenty minutes of use. This can be mitigated by having aegis-insert amulets surgically implanted, allowing a commando to use his armor free of charge... but the amulets themselves cause you to age twice as fast as normal.
    • Before errata, Sidereals had Burn Life, a Charm that empowered their body at the expense of a few days or weeks. Given that their 5000-year lifespan has so many days and weeks in it that burning a few was pretty much meaningless, the Siderrata cut the entirely toothless disadvantage and just made it permanently online at no cost.
  • 7th Sea has the Bearsark advantage, which allows a player to fly into a superhuman rage so terrible to behold that enemies must make a Resolve test to keep from cowering. However, the Bearsark ages by 1 week for each round he is in this state.
  • Sorcerers in Carcosa risk aging several years every time they perform a magic ritual.
  • Iron-Bound Elves in Wicked Fantasy have the ability to sacrifice some of their lifespans to enhance various abilities, making them, at the least, more likely to succeed at attack rolls, skill checks, or ability checks. As the process of becoming Iron-Bound cuts an elf's normal lifespan from "tens of thousands of years" to about "one to twelve years" in and of itself, and is typically the result of the elf being forcibly enslaved by a (usually human) master, most don't consider the sacrifice to be all that big a deal.


    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • Darkspawn's blood is poisonous. And Grey Wardens drink it. So, if you managed to survive the Joining, you've got no more than 30 years to live. Dragon Age II Legacy reveals that it's actually much worse than mere poison. Ingesting Darkspawn blood always leads to either death or becoming a ghoul. The Wardens' version, if it doesn't kill the recipient immediately, merely delays the transformation by a few decades. Surviving the Joining means you will one day become a willing slave to the Darkspawn.
    • Wynne is dead. She was brought to life by a spirit of the Fade, and using her Spirit Vessel ability shortens her lifespan each time. She doesn't seem to care, though, because she is already very old and her bonus lifespan is going to be short.
    • Dragon Age II applies this to a stat-boost. The Elixir of Heroism ages the drinker, "but with age comes wisdom" - you apparently get the experience of fights you would have had in that time, without the trouble of actually doing it.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • This is basically what Galuf does in Final Fantasy V. As he keeps fighting Exdeath while already in KO status, he winds up with an actual death that a Phoenix Down can't cure.
    • In the GBA version of Final Fantasy VI, you can battle the Eight Dragons again in the Dragon's Den. The Red Dragon rematch sees it channeling its life into power. None of your attacks can so much as scratch it, while it hits you with increasingly powerful attacks each turn. The fight ends with it casting Ultima... but at that point, the last of its life is used up, and it dies on the spot.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 reveals that this is the ultimate effect of the Eyes of Etro. In exchange for the ability to trace the timeline, the seeress Yeul's many incarnations suffer drastically shortened lifespan. Most Yeuls die at the age of sixteen or less. Serah acquires the Eyes of Etro at age 21 and dies on her third vision.
    • Final Fantasy XIV character Sylphie is a Conjurer who is gifted in healing magic. However, because she refuses to learn about nature, and thus cannot draw upon the boundless energy of the world itself, her healing magic is instead cast from her own life force, in effect shortening her lifespan significantly. It's also revealed that this was how her mother died.
      • Also in Final Fantasy XIV, after the events of A Realm Reborn, it turns out that Y'shtola was trapped in the Lifestream. While it seems at first that the rescue effort has gone off without any more hitches than usual, it turns out that she's slowly being drained of Aether - and was furthermore blinded, so every time she tries to cast magic or even see, she's bringing herself closer to death.
      • From the same game, Alisaie Took a Level in Badass by summoning a sword of light and taking up a Gladiator class style. However, because the weapon is made of aether, it ran the risk of doing this trope towards Alisaie had she tried to cast spells. Because of this, Urianger creates a special rapier and focus for her, shifting her to the Red Mage job, ultimately subverting this trope.
      • The Black Mage job has the Transpose ability that sacrifices some of the user's HP in exchange for restoring a bit of MP. If the player's HP is too low, the skill can't be used.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates does this. Whenever twins Yuri and Chelinka do their weird... glowy... thingy without the help of the other, Chelinka gradually loses her soul while Yuri's lifespan is shortened drastically, leading to his near-death at the end of the game and prompting a Heroic Sacrifice from Chelinka. This gets a Call-Back in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia; if Yuri tries to perform "Rela Crystal" without first triggering the "Chelinka's Prayer" ability, he takes a significant HP hit.
  • Time Hollow: Too much use of the Hollow Pen causes a person to age beyond his chronological age.
  • Magic and Mayhem: Using magic in the Arcane Realms causes your body to age. This doesn't affect game mechanics, but it does drive the storyline; the Overlord is trying to recover various artifacts with which to reverse the process before his body wears out.
  • In Castlevania, use of the unsealed Vampire Killer by someone who is not a direct descendant of the Belmont clan will shorten their life. In the case of John Morris, this resulted in his wounds from his battle with Dracula not healing, culminating with his premature death. This trope is the entire reason he teaches his son Jonathan how to fight without the use of the Vampire Killer and refuses to tell him the means of how to unlock the whip's true power—the Lecarde family. (Jonathan is resentful of this at first, but comes to respect his old man's choice by the time of The Reveal). This is Gameplay and Story Segregation in Portrait of Ruin, since the effects of such are well beyond the game's timespan.
  • In Persona 3, The Great Seal, which you must use to end the final boss fight. The protagonist dies slightly more than one month later. It's later discovered in FES that if you cast the Great Seal and don't die, the seal will fail. Sacrifice is necessary.
  • In SaGa Frontier 2, you can use a Life Point at the beginning of each turn to restore your character to full HP. However, once you run out of Life Points, that character is dead and is unable to be revived.
  • Both Tohno Shiki from Tsukihime and Emiya Shirou from Fate/stay night have insane powers which put intense strain on their bodies and minds. It's implied that Shiki won't live too long even if his eyes don't drive him crazy. Shirou risks his life every time he uses magic (especially before Rin trains him), and in Sakura's route, he has a much more immediate limit: three tracings with Archer's arm will kill him.
    • In Fate/Zero, Matou Kariya makes up for a lifetime of never doing magic by having Crest Worms implanted into him so he can be a Master for the Fourth War. Downsides include physical effects similar to a stroke victim, tremendous physical pain whenever he uses magic, and having only one year left to live at best. Zouken only gives him a month by the time the Grail War actually starts and a combination of injuries, overexertion from using his powers and fueling/controlling his Berserker, and mental trauma ends up seeing dead within days, and it would have been even shorter if not for Kirei healing him after he got nearly burned to death.
  • MMORPG A Tale in the Desert had (has?) Speed of the Serpent, a potion that lets you teleport for a certain amount of distance. Want more teleportation? Drink more! The downside is that it is poisonous. The antidote is not especially difficult or expensive, but you must remember to take it every 30 days after your first drink or else your character dies. Subtract one day from your time limit for every successive Serpent potion. There is no respawning in A Tale in the Desert.
  • Might and Magic has more powerful spells and affects aging characters. This can be reversed except for some of the most powerful spells and effects, such as miracle or a ghost's attack, which increase your age permanently.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, during the Sith Inquisitor storyline it's revealed that Zash suffers from this due to overuse of more dangerous Dark Side abilities. As a result, she intends to regain this lost youth by using an ancient ritual to steal your body.
  • Fire Emblem Fates has Azura, who possesses a magic pendant that lets her use Magic Music. However, the pendant's powers have been slowly killing her ever since she started using them. This leads to her dying in two of the three paths of the game.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses Lysithea and Edelgard have two Crests due to experiments carried out by Those Who Slither in the Dark, which grant them incredible magical power and strength respectively. However, their lifespans are drastically reduced as the body simply can't handle that much power. In several of their endings they manage to find a way to remove the extra Crests and in doing so reclaim their lost time, but in others, they do indeed die young.
  • Daibanchou - Big Bang Age - has this with Jinnai Heita after you clear all his character events but his final one, which has him go Super Saiyan. He also gains an attack called Ten Year Knuckle, which he claims takes ten years off his life each time he uses it. It does, and you need to use it seven times to get his full character clear, which results in his death.
  • Demon Gaze has this with demon gazing, which takes a massive amount of your lifespan, even if you don't fully gaze them. This results in one character dying and being unable to be revived by the necromancer, as she can only bring back people who died before their lifespan ended. This applies to the main character as well, but he's so long-lived that it hardly matters.
  • Used as a main game mechanic in Sifu. On death, your talisman revives you but ages you a bit, and the rate you age increases if you die too frequently. Eventually, at around age 70, the talisman won't be able to revive you anymore.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, the lives of the Kevesi and Agnian soldiers are already artificially shortened to ten-year limits, and, in the case of the soldiers of Colony 0, this can be burned out even faster if they're ordered to disengage the limiters on the Flame Clocks aboard their Ferrons to increase their combat output. This happens in-story to No. 4, who, after having been forced to disengage his limiter in his prior mission, dies in No. 7's arms when the Ouroboros bring her back to her Colony.

  • Attempted in 8-Bit Theater. Red Mage casts several Haste spells on a bone dragon in the hopes that its lifespan will be greatly accelerated until it dies... even though he knows it doesn't work that way, he just wanted to see if it could work. You honestly can't blame Black Mage for trying to shank him right after.
  • The Dragon Doctors has two examples:
    • One chapter deals with a horrible curse that prevents a lost soul from moving on to the afterlife; the price for this terrible curse is that while the soul is unable to rest, neither is the caster — she is unable to sleep, suffers from a continuous burning sensation in the back of her mind, and ages at about double speed. Worse, the wording in the spellbook is so vague that the caster didn't even know it was a curse in the first place.
    • More traditionally: after Tanica learns some basic healing magic that she can't summon enough magical power to cast, she ends up tearing out her own life essence to fuel the spell when Goro collapses at her feet and she has no way of summoning help.
  • In I Dream of a Jeanie Bottle, a genie can die if they overuse their powers on a broad (read: "global") scale for too long, presumably at the behest of their master. It is heavily implied that the last known genie to suffer this fate was Eva Braun.
  • The demons of Slightly Damned have the ability to enter a monstrous One-Winged Angel form with vastly increased size, strength and magic but doing this causes them to both become mindless killers and will kill them in a short time due to how much stress it puts on their bodies. They can trigger it willingly but as we've seen with Lazuli it can also happen involuntarily if they receive fatal (but not immediately lethal) injuries.
    • However there is a way to get around the fatal part, by drinking the red Rainbow Reverie potion they will only be berserk for a short time and when it wears off they change back exhausted but alive.
  • In Sorcery 101, both Magic and Sorcery takes a heavy toll on the user's health, with the result that neither Mages nor Sorcerers ever get particularly old. (It's more of a 'Will drop dead around 60-70' thing than an 'unlikely to see their 30th birthday' type thing, but still an unpleasant fact.) The main character, Danny, is a Sorcerer, but he's safe from these consequences due to being the Blood Bond of a powerful vampire. His teacher IS a vampire, and thus also safe. Main character Ally, however, is a Mage with no added advantages, so...

    Web Original 
  • In Marvelous Bob, Alex has the power to travel through time, but however far he travels, he ages by that much. If he goes forward in time one year, he becomes one year older. When he comes back, he becomes another year older. He always gets older no matter which direction he travels. By the time he's chronologically ten years old (from his own point of view), his body is nearly eighty.
  • Magic in Suburban Knights. The Big Bad is searching for an artifact that will allow him to avoid this problem. This is also what ends up killing Ma-Ti.
  • In Life Artificial, artificial intelligences understand money as computing Time, time to live and think. Thus, any expense is Cast from Lifespan.
  • Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions introduces a tennis player who can hit the ball hard enough to break his opponent's racket. However, the method he uses puts such a strain on his heart that according to his doctor, his lifespan gets reduced by a year each time he uses it.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Word of God holds that Aang's spending a century as a Human Popsicle burnt up a lot of extra Avatar time (the only reason freezing in a simple iceberg didn't kill him is that he was in the Avatar State for the entire century; an Avatar is not supposed to be in the Avatar state for nearly that long). As a result, he died young, for an Avatar that is, at a mere sixty-six years old (in comparison, Kyoshi, the oldest Avatar, lasted two and a half centuries), paving the way for Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, set seventy years after series' end, and following his titular seventeen-year-old successor.
  • Mozenrath from Aladdin: The Series sacrificed two things for his magical gauntlet. The immediate price was the flesh from his right hand. In the last episode starring him as the villain, it's revealed that it also drained his life force and he doesn't have much longer to live. He tries and nearly succeeds in performing a Grand Theft Me on Aladdin in a bid to cheat death, and is last seen floating away in a balloon conjured by Genie without his gauntlet.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., it's revealed that former Guardians who use their elemental powers without being connected to the Heart of Candracar ends up draining from their own life force. It probably explains why Yan Lin, Kadma, and Halinor still look youthful in their old age where Nerissa was withered and deformed. Cassidy doesn't count as she was dead.
  • In Spider-Man Unlimited, it's stated the serum that allowed Counter-Earth's Kraven the Hunter to enhance his skills is shortening his lifespan. (A trade he's comfortable with.)
  • One of Birdman's enemies (Speed Demon) unwittingly sped up his aging process by overusing his superspeed. The medics who examined him afterwards managed to reduce his aging to a normal pace but were unable to undo the extra aging.
  • Transformers: Animated: The human villain Nanosec found himself in the same situation of the above-mentioned Speed Demon. Fortunately for him, he teamed up with and started dating the villainess Slo-Mo, who could use her time-manipulation to reverse his aging.
  • In an episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the heroes' mutations are made out of ectoplasmic energy (borne out of failing to properly dispose of their old uniforms). As Egon puts it, "Each time they fire, they weaken." The more energy they consume, the less that is available to them.
  • Final Space: The Lord Commander, the Big Bad of Season 1, has various Psychic Powers which absorb his health when he uses them. He gets progressively worse over the course of season one, being at death's door by the end of season one.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: As seen below, the damaged Peacock Miraculous grants great power but at the cost of taking a physical toll on the wearer that gets worse with each use. Nathalie pays a great price for her tenure as Mayura and isn't healed by giving it up, or even by the miraculous later being repaired. It's long hinted, and then eventually stated, that using it in the past is what happened to Adrien's mom.


Video Example(s):


Peacock Miraculous

The Peacock Miraculous is a powerful artifact and can cause mass chaos when in the wrong hands. However, since it is damaged, it takes a heavy physical toll on those that use it, leaving Natalie ill from her brief time as Mayura.

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Example of:

Main / CastFromLifespan

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