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Character Aged with the Actor

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Left: Jonathan Frakes as William Riker circa 1990
Right: Frakes and Riker circa 2020
"I'm too old for this shit."

An old franchise comes back after many years, but, of course, now the actors are all older. Instead of recasting or making the actors up to look younger (or using Digital Deaging), it's decided to acknowledge how much time has passed and just have the characters be that much older.

The writers may lampshade this by having the hero make a comment like "I'm getting too old for this," or may even have the entire plot of the story revolve around the characters dealing with how much older they've gotten.

Compare with Role Reprise. See also The Character Died with Him.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • In A Goofy Movie, Max appeared to be about 14 or 15 and was performed by the 19-year-old Jason Marsden. When An Extremely Goofy Movie came out five years later, Max was now visibly older and going off to college. Four years after that, Max appears as a young adult in Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas introducing his new girlfriend to his father.
  • In Toy Story 3, Andy has aged from a child to a young adult leaving for college. The toys are physically unchanged, but have had to deal with the psychological effects of their owner becoming less interested in them as well as the loss of several friends who were sold, given away, or discarded, part of the natural aging process of a toy. The fourth film explores Woody's willingness to move on to the next phase of his life when he is still in working condition but is no longer needed by a child.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As a sixty-year Long Runner, the James Bond series might have some of the most well-known cases in film history. Bond himself generally appears to age with any actor who stays longer than two films.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home features the return of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to their own versions of the characters, as well as the villains from their respective films. While the villains are subject to CGI de-aging and other effects to mask their actors' true ages (such as Flint Marko being stuck in sand form), the legacy Spider-Man characters are simply older. This is most noticeable with the Raimi-verse Spider-Man, who pretty much behaves as a Team Dad since he's in his forties. A cured Octavius even lampshades Kid Hero All Grown-Up when he finally meets up with the Peter Parker he remembers. Also played for laughs when Maguire and Garfield's characters discuss the back pain they experience after years of webslinging.
  • Star Trek:
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As a consequence of moving the time period to match Harrison Ford's age, the villains had to be changed from Nazis to the Soviets.
  • Rambo: Rambo doesn't age much in the initial run of his films, but in Rambo IV, he is acknowledged as a salty old veteran getting long in years. He's finally given a fitting character finale in which he retires from his wandering and goes back home.
  • Lethal Weapon: Murtaugh's advancing age is a major characterization point in the very first film. By Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs has adopted Murtaugh's "I'm getting too old for this shit" catchphrase, and Murtaugh himself is considering retirement.
  • Live Free or Die Hard, where after over a decade, John McClane now has to deal with a teenage daughter and is constantly questioned for being out of place in the modern world.
  • The later part of Clint Eastwood's career has been him playing the over-the-hill, but still extremely badass, hero. For a more concrete example, he noticeably ages throughout the Dirty Harry series (and it's lampshaded). Indeed, Clint has stated that there won't be another Dirty Harry movie, because, at his age, Harry would be retired. Doesn't stop a lot of people from dubbing Gran Torino "Dirty Harry 6".
  • Invoked in Boyhood. The film was shot over the course of twelve years, following the characters are they age together with the actors.
  • In The Road to Hong Kong, Hope and Crosby are ten years older than in the previous movie of the series, and over twenty years older than when the series began.
  • TRON: Legacy was notable for featuring both old Jeff Bridges as Flynn and CGI-made young Jeff Bridges as his program. There's also hiding the title character behind a mask, and generally sidelining him on top of it, because Bruce Boxleitner might have been too old (he did return to reprise his human character, and do a single voice-over line as Tron, as well as lend his appearance to a CGI younger version for a flashback).
  • At the start of Beyond Re-Animator (2003), Herbert West has served 13 years in prison since Bride of Re-Animator (1990). Which didn't stop one interviewer asking Jeffrey Combs if he was going to wear aging makeup to reflect the Time Skip.
  • Terminator:
  • From Star Wars:
  • Rocky Balboa was made 16 years after Rocky V (and over 20 years after the more famous Rocky movies), and one of the central themes of the movie is precisely how old Rocky is compared to his glory days.
  • Kamen Rider 1 features Hiroshi Fujioka reprising his role of Takeshi Hongo, aka Kamen Rider #1 leading to his character being the same age as himself, seventy years old. His advanced age hasn't slowed him down, but the main theme of the film is him fighting in spite of his cyborg body slowly breaking down.
    • Another film has Kensuke Jin from Kamen Rider X return. His age isn't a plot point, and he keeps up with the younger Riders, but he's now a doctor and takes care of his teenage granddaughter, showing that his life has definitely moved at the same pace as the rest of the world.
  • T2 Trainspotting is set twenty years after Trainspotting, so in this case, this trope is inevitable. Danny Boyle joked that the film would take a long time to get made due to the natural vanity of actors. Fortuitously, however, the sequel to the original book on which the sequel is partly based has a substantial Time Skip anyway and makes a plot point of the fact that the characters are all getting older (if not necessarily wiser).
  • Halloween:
    • Laurie Strode. Although she invoked Dawson Casting at twenty to play Laurie at seventeen (and then at twenty-three to play her in the Immediate Sequel filmed three years later) - she reprised her role in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection where the character was now into middle age. She came back again for Halloween (2018), where Laurie is now a grandmother.
    • Lindsey Wallace is the girl Laurie babysits when Michael attacks her in the 1978 film. Her actress, Kyle Richards, reprises her role over 40 years later in Halloween Kills, where Lindsey is now a middle-aged bartender at Haddonfield's bar.
    • Other actors from the original films who played children wanted to come back and play them as teenagers, but were recast; Danielle Harris was replaced with JC Brandy and Brian Andrews with Paul Rudd for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
  • Bad Boys for Life has Martin Lawrence's Marcus becoming a grandpa and subsequently considering retiring from the police, and also calling out Will Smith's Mike for still behaving as if he was in his early twenties.
  • Kaamelott: Premier Volet: Ten years have passed In-Universe, while the film was made ten years after the end of the series, and everyone has aged accordingly, Karadoc's daughters especially.
  • Top Gun: Maverick: Takes place 30+ years after the first film. Ice Man has moved up the ranks to admiral and it's lampshaded that given Maverick's tenure in the Navy, he should hold a much higher rank than he does.
  • Insidious: The Red Door is set nine years after Insidious: Chapter 2, but the actors portraying the Lamberts remains the same. Instead of young boys, Foster (Andrew Astor) is in high school, while his older brother, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) has just entered college.
  • Scream notably retains its main cast over the years. We got to see Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as a high school student in the first film, to a college student in the second, to a young adult in the third and fourth, to a middle-aged mother of two kids in the fifth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Coronation Street is a Long Runner, so...
    • The definitive example is William Roache, who appeared in the soap's very first episode in 1960 and by late 2019 was still a regular cast member. In 2010 he earned a world record as the longest-serving cast member in a televised soap.
    • Anne Kirkbride first played Deirdre Hunt (later Barlow) in the 70s when she was introduced as an eighteen-year-old. She remained on the soap until 2014, shortly before her death from cancer.
    • Chesney Brown was ten when he debuted on the soap in 2003. Unlike many other child characters that were recast as they aged, Sam Aston has continued to play him into his late twenties.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation was originally conceived as two separate projects: one a one-time reunion special for the characters of Degrassi Junior High, the other a Middle School show called Ready, Willing and Wired focused on a new group of kids. However, the producers decided that the new ongoing show would have a better chance if it carried the name of the still-popular older franchise. The original characters appear in recurring adult roles.
  • Are You Being Served? sequel series Grace and Favour (known in the United States as Are You Being Served? Again!). This was lampshaded in the first scene when Mr. Humphries says that the shaky elevator ride has "put 10 years on all of us".
  • The new 90210 has characters from the old... but thankfully, they're actually adults rather than adults playing high school students.
  • Red Dwarf: Back to Earth begins with a title card that reads, "Nine Years Later".
  • Doctor Who has a unique problem: the Doctor changes actors through regeneration, and often runs into their past selves while travelling in time. This means multi-Doctor team-ups have to reckon with the fact that in-universe, the returning Doctor never looks quite the same as during their actual tenure. How some appearances have gotten away with it:
    • The Children in Need special "Time Crash" has Peter Davison — now rather older — and David Tennant sharing a TARDIS as the Fifth Doctor ends up crossing paths with the Tenth. The Fifth Doctor still looked young when suffering the events of "The Caves of Androzani," so how can he, in "Time Crash," look like he'd aged as much as Davison just for this adventure? They Hand Wave it away by saying that the temporal disaster that's brought them into the same place seems to have affected Davison roughly.
    • Fanon also applies this to Patrick Troughton's aged appearance in ''The Two Doctors", postulating the existence of a much greater gap between the last appearance of the Second Doctor and the first appearance of the Third than suggested on screen.
    • Inverted with River Song, whose appearances are (roughly) in reverse chronological order due to time-travel shenanigans; that is, each time we see the character, she's younger but the actress is older. In River's first chronological appearance, she suggests that she's going to dial back her age occasionally just to freak people out.
    • Averted in "The Day of the Doctor", where David Tennant has visibly aged from his time playing the Tenth Doctor, but the character is depicted as being taken from a timeskip previously implied to exist by a Running Joke in his final season. This aversion is lampshaded by the Eleventh Doctor in the warmup footage played in cinema screenings of the episode, where the Eleventh Doctor complains about how all the Tenth Doctor's "lines and crinkly bits" are going to come out at viewers in 3D.
    • Also played with in "Day of the Doctor"— Tom Baker appears as a very elderly version of the Fourth Doctor, but he's implied to be a separate, distant future incarnation of the Doctor who's retired from traveling and become a museum curator on Earth. So, "The Curator" isn't the Fourth Doctor, he's possibly the fortieth or four-hundredth who happens to look like an aged version of the Fourth (the Curator told the Eleventh Doctor he might find himself revisiting some of his old faces in the future.) This also potentially sets the stage for future past-Doctor appearances to use the same excuse.
    • A What Could Have Been, also with Tom Baker— the Development Hell multi-Doctor "Dark Dimensions" film, conceived when Tom Baker went to the BBC and told them he wanted to be the Doctor again, would have starred an elderly version of the Fourth Doctor from an alternate dimension where he had never regenerated, who now lived as a hermit in an old Victorian church dressed in a black version of his outfit. Unfortunately, the other actors playing the other Doctors disliked the Character Focus, Character Shilling, and Canon Sue treatment Tom Baker's Doctor got compared to their Doctors and dropped out of the project, which was then shitcanned by Executive Meddling.
    • Tom Baker's visible and drastic aging over the course of his run— going in seven years from looking much younger than his real age to much older than his real age— was an inspiration for his character, in his final season, getting a Same Character, But Different Retool from his usual bohemian Manchild persona (which was starting to come across as a bit too creepy rather than cute) into a dark, morbid Byronic Hero dressed head-to-toe in blood red.
      • In-story, the change is helped by the fact that he'd spent the bulk of the previous seasons traveling with a member of his own race and a robot dog, so there could have been extended periods not portrayed onscreen to account for the Doctor's aging.
    • Baker eventually parodied his ties with this trope in the 2017 reconstruction of "Shada", which ends with a sight gag of the Doctor suddenly being played by the elder Baker as a riff on his closing question on whether he will be remembered as a kindly old man like Professor Chronotis— formerly the Time Lord criminal Salyavin— had been in the story.
    • In an example not related to the above is Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, one of the show's longest-running recurring characters, was played solely by Nicholas Courtney throughout the decades, and the character was constantly rewritten to accommodate his progressing age. In fact, the show was so devoted to this that the Brigadier was eventually killed off when Courtney himself died in 2011 (though the character would later be resurrected three years later as a benevolent and conscious Cyberman, albeit in a brief, non-speaking role, intended more as a tribute to Courtney).
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures featured an older Sarah Jane Smith, who had aged very well, along with guest appearances by The Brigadier, an Old Soldier if ever there was one, and Jo Jones, formerly Jo Grant. Lampshaded in "Death of the Doctor" when, after Jo expressed surprise that (from her point of view) the Doctor had changed his face "into a baby's", he shot back that she looked like someone baked her.
  • Between 1987 and 1994, Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner reprised their famous The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman roles for a trilogy of TV movies. Wagner actually held up quite well over the years, Majors less so, and the second film, Bionic Showdown, actually pushed both into the background in favor of a younger "bionic woman" played by a pre-stardom Sandra Bullock.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, the character Tommy was only supposed to be 25. But because of a little Dawson Casting, and a Retcon that made him three years younger, Jason David Frank was 30 at the time of filming, so the character was played as slightly older than he should have been. However, he didn't look it.
    • Bulk started out in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers as a high school bully. When he returned in Power Rangers Samurai 18 years later, he was now mentoring his best friend's high-school-age son.
      • However like Tommy, he doesn't look much older aside from not having any hair, as he apparently started shaving his head. When Skull later appears, he looks exactly the same.
  • Boy Meets World. The main characters are in middle school when the series begins and in college by its end. In the sequel/spin-off series Girl Meets World which started airing 14 years after the original series ended, the protagonist is Cory and Topanga's 13-year-old daughter Riley.
  • Poirot: Happens to some of the main cast in the series finale ("Curtain"), most notably Captain Hastings (played by Hugh Fraser) and Hercule Poirot (played by David Suchet). This is not surprising, given that almost the entire series is set in the mid-to-late 1930s, before the start of World War II, due to Setting Update (and sometimes a Series Continuity Error with Hastings meeting his wife Bella). Since Poirot was in his 60s when he first met Hastings during World War I, and in his late-70s to early-80s in the 1930s, by the time "Curtain" aired, the time period is set a few years after the end of the Second World War (1949), with some of the characters having aged over a decade, leaving Poirot almost in his mid-to-late-90s when he dies of a heart condition.
  • Parodied in Fresh Off the Boat. One episode had Shaquille O'Neal guest star as himself, despite the fact that the show is set in the '90s, and he no longer has the physique he did back then. This is handwaved by him saying that he'd simply gotten fat in the off-season and that he'll look normal again once training for the new NBA season begins.
  • The 2018 revival of Roseanne takes place 21 years after the ending of the show's original run. Roseanne and Dan are now seniors, teens Becky and Darlene are now middle-aged, and youngest child D.J. is all grown-up. Darlene and D.J. both have children of their own.
  • Star Trek
    • It's established that both Vulcans and Klingons age more slowly than humans, meaning that even though Star Trek: The Next Generation aired 20 years after Star Trek: The Original Series and was set roughly 80 years later, Vulcans Spock and Sarek can both appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation played by their original actors without trying to conceal their age in either direction, and several Klingons from the original series (namely Kor, Koloth, Kang, and Arne Darvin) can do the same in Star Trek: Deep Space Ninenote . Spock even manages to return in the Kelvin Timeline movies, no attempt made to hide the fact that he's still older, as it's been quite some time between his TNG appearance and the well-post-TNG era he time-traveled from chasing Nero.
    • DeForest Kelley appeared as a 137-year-old McCoy in the TNG pilot episode "Encounter At Farpoint". Not being an alien, he had to be aged up, made to look and act quite the same as he appeared during the TOS episode "The Deadly Years" where some characters were hit with a Rapid Aging virus.
    • James Doohan would later make a guest appearance as Scotty in the TNG episode "Relics". Although he had spent 75 years stored in a transporter holding pattern, note  the episode spared no opportunity to point out his advanced age. He looks a little older than in the later TOS movies, a good while but far from 80 years having passed for him. Mostly, the problem he has in the present is that technology has changed enough that he's gone from The Smart Guy to a Fish out of Water who annoys Geordi by screwing up any time he tries to do anything. He does save the day with an unorthodox idea in the end. The Expanded Universe has him go on to do exactly what you'd expect from him: familiarize himself with the newer tech and become a miracle worker once more!
    • Star Trek: Picard premiered just over seventeen Real Life years after Patrick Stewart last played Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis, and 20 In-Universe years after the film. The eponymous Picard is, according to promotional material, 94 years old. Accordingly, all Star Trek: The Next Generation characters who appear — and, as of the end of Season 3, this includes every character whose actor has ever been in the opening credits, not to mention a number of guest stars — has aged as well.note  Exceptions and notable subversions include:
      • In flashbacks and a couple other situations, Data returns, a good fifteen years after Spiner insisted that he be heard but not seen because unlike him, Data doesn't age. A little Digital Deaging helps; additionally, the scenes are short.
      • Season 2 shows the immortal Q aged, due to John de Lancie being in his 70s by this point. Of course, Q isn't really human to begin with, having teased he could appear as a woman before. His aged-up appearance is to make Picard feel like he's simply meeting an old friend, as he first appears digitally de-aged until using his abilities to match Picard's appearance.
      • Guinan had been established as part of an alien race capable of looking the same over centuries. Obviously Whoopi Goldberg looked older by 2022, so when Picard notes how he thought El-Aurians didn't age, Guinan handwaves it by claiming they can if they choose to.
      • Finally, Season 3 has the introduction of a not-fully completed Soong Android, built by Soong's son Altan Inigo and intended to be his own Soul Jar... meaning that, naturally, it has aged. This is used to justify bringing Data back as an aged character; the advanced design of the android also allows Spiner to finally ditch the pasty-gold-tinged makeup. He still has the gold eyes though; Spiner and showrunner Terry Matalas discussed discarding the contact lenses, only to conclude that they were too important to the character.
      • Similarly to John de Lancie as Q, Daniel Davis was in his late 70s when he reprised the role of the holographic Professor James Moriarty during season 3. So, like Q, the Moriarty hologram now physically appears at that same age, rather than in his forties as he did during TNG. This may be justified in-universe due to the original holodeck programming persisting and Moriarty still experiencing the passage of time even while outwardly deactivated.
  • The protagonist of 3 Nen B Gumi Kinpachi-sensei was played by the same man for the roughly forty years the series ran. Naturally, he aged accordingly.
  • Twin Peaks: Many members of the original cast returned for the 2017 revival after 26 years (25 within the show's continuity).
  • The X-Files revivals have the main cast return to reprise their roles, 14 years after the show originally ended. Their age does come up once, Mulder musing on just how long they've been doing what they do and hypothetically wondering if there's a reason or if they're just going in circles.
  • Done with all of the cast of Arrested Development in Season 4 which was released seven years after Season 3 and ten years since Season 1. Lampshaded particularly hard for comedic effect with Justin Grant Wade (Steve Holt!) who looks nothing like his younger self.
  • iCarly (2021), the revival of iCarly, features all returning characters played by their original actors after nearly a decade. Carly and Freddie are now adults (with Freddie having been twice divorced and raising a stepdaughter).
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • When Adam Sandler hosted SNL in 2019, he played Opera Man in the "Weekend Update" segment for the first time in 24 years, something he humorously acknowledged, singing "So very long since I’ve been around-ah. 24 years and 24 pounds-ah!".
    • Parodied in a sketch for a trailer for Father Of The Bride Part 8, with co-hosts Steve Martin and Martin Short playing older versions of their characters George Banks and Franck, respectively.
      Annie (Heidi Gardner): But, Daddy, I'm your little girl!
      George: (annoyed) You're 52!


    Tabletop Games 
  • Since Feng Shui 2 came out 20 years after Feng Shui, one suggestion for transitioning between editions is "Getting Too Old For This Shit", where the PCs have aged 20 years too.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts — which averts Dawson Casting in both the English and Japanese voice acting — aged Sora up approximately a year between the first and third games, to allow for the voice actors going through puberty.
    • Inverted in Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories. While this is set a few days after the first game, it came out Kingdom Hearts II, but Sora is still voiced by an older Haley Joel Osment, both for cutscene acting and in-battle cries, meaning Sora's voice is just as deep as it was in II. In the original GBA version, they used clips of Osment's younger voice, and there was no voice acting in cutscenes.
  • Played straight in the Monkey Island series from The Curse of Monkey Island to Tales of Monkey Island, with Dominic Armato as Guybrush, Alexandra Boyd as Elaine (even though the voice actress herself was absent in Escape from Monkey Island), Earl Boen as LeChuck (though, of course, Boen was in semi-retirement and absent only in the PC download version of Chapter 1 of Tales), and Denny Delk as Murray. Inverted in the Special Editions of The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2, however, when the now-aged Armato, Boyd, and Boen return to play their characters' younger selves.
    • Also inverted is that Pat Pinney (Stan) and Neil Ross (Wally B. Feed) sounded younger only in Curse; and S. Scott Bullock (Otis), Cam Clarke (Meathook), Wally Wingert (Herman Toothrot), and Jess Harnell (Estevan) sounded younger only in Escape; while Leilani Jones-Wilmore (The Voodoo Lady) sounded younger in both games. When the actors returned to voice the characters in the Special Editions of Secret and LeChuck's Revenge, however, the characters' younger selves now sound older than they were before.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Heavy (and Demoman)'s voice actor is one of the oldest out of the bunch, and his voice has started to sound even deeper as a result. It's even lampshaded in Mann vs. Machine mode (released on the game's fifth year), which takes place four years after the main storyline (jumping from 1968 to 1972):
    Heavy: I am getting too old and giant for this.
  • Unintentionally done with Max Payne 3, which is set about 9 years after the second game. Rockstar had initially planned to replace James McCaffrey as the voice of Max to reflect the Time Skip, but due to fan outcry, McCaffrey was eventually brought back aboard - and by that point, the game had been in Development Hell for so long that McCaffrey had aged just about as much as Max had (it came out in 2012, following 2003's Max Payne 2).
  • The returning skaters from 1999's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its 2000 sequel appear as their present-day middle-aged selves in 2020's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2.
  • In God of War Ragnarök, the sequel to God of War (PS4), Atreus/Loki has been aged up to match his motion and voice capture actor Sunny Suljic, who's become a teenager and whose voice has broken since the original game.

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe had a Time Skip for its movie and Sequel Series, finally Steven ages somewhat as much as his actor had over the course of the series.
  • According to Word of God, the title character of Chowder aged with his voice actor.
  • Finn from Adventure Time started as 12 with a similar-aged actor, and ages as the show goes along. However, while he started aging in almost real time (his 13th birthday was just before the show's first anniversary), the passage of time gradually slows, and by the last recordings Finn is 17 and his voice actor is 20.
  • In The Simpsons, baseball player Mike Scioscia made a guest star appearance in Season 3. He later returns in Season 22, with a much older appearance, while the rest of the characters remain under the perpetual floating timeline. Because celebrities are linked to pop culture and aren't established characters in the series, they're exempt from the floating timeline. However, visual changes in age don't apply to recurring celebrities like Stephen Hawking and Rupert Murdoch.
  • In Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Rick Hunter briefly appears as a white-haired, battle-scarred middle-aged Admiral (canon gives his age in 2044 as 54). His voice actor, Tony Oliver is about the same age. The Sentinels novels and comics attempted to use Applied Phlebotinum to delay the aging of Rick and the other original Macross Saga characters, namely by having their trip to Tirol fall victim to unexpected Time Dilation thanks to the shapings of Protoculture. The older comics and novelizations also set the events of Invid Invasion in early 2031 when Rick would have been only about 40 (but still look like he was in his early to mid-30s). The retcon of the Robotech timeline avoids all of this and Rick is now clearly too aged for the Veritech cockpit.
  • Science Court: Tim's voice actor hit puberty and, instead of replacing him, they had the character do the same.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The live-action Chief played by Martin Olson, who first appeared in the Season 3 episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V", returns in the Season 12 episode "Swamp Mates". You can tell he has quite aged in the timelapse between both episodes.