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Coming of Age Story

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"Son of man, look to the sky
Lift your spirit, set it free
Some day you'll walk tall with pride
Son of man, a man in time you'll be!"
Tarzan, "Son of Man"

A story featuring an adolescent making the mental leap from child to adult. In real life, this happens over the course of several years. Literature, films and some television series are media that have the space to show the story at a slow pace. But for a movie, things have to be compressed to several months at the most, so expect some really accelerated character development. The words bildungsroman (Ger. "educational novel") or bildungsgeschichte (Ger. "educational story") are sometimes used to describe these kinds of stories. A note on the translation: the terms originated in the Age of Enlightenment, when "Bildung" meant not only "education" but also "self-improvement" (cf. English "building") — or as Werner Heisenberg put it, Bildung is "that which is still there after you've forgotten everything you had ever learned". In other words, it's not a "novel to educate the readers" but a "novel about the hero becoming someone".

Usually includes some combination of the following:

A variation is the Delayed Coming of Age Story, in which the person has remained mentally a child their entire life and only finally experiences these things sometime between their late 20s and mid-40s.

Mainstream film coming-of-age stories tend toward dramedy. Independent film or novel stories lean toward drama, sometimes jumping headlong into Wangst.

See also Age-Progression Song, Ode to Youth.


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    Comic Books 
  • Anya's Ghost: Anya struggles to deal with highschool life and becomes a more mature person, with goals beyond impressing boys or looking cool.
  • Black Science: The comic gives Pia one in the background of Issue 22. She crash-lands without adult protection and survives by securing a political engagement and negotiating a peace agreement between the warring tribes. Grant is shaken by how much she's grown when he catches up to her.
  • Bloom (2019): The comic is this, as well as a Queer Romance. The story focuses on the main character Ari becoming less cynical and bitter about having to stay behind working at his family's bakery and growing up and becoming a more loving individual and being who he is.
  • Bone: Thorn goes from a sweet Farm Girl clueless of her upbringing, to a troubled girl who has a tough time coping with her identity once she finds out who she is, to finally a competent young warrior who ends up saving the valley and becoming queen.
  • Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things: The comic provides a variant. Most coming-of-age stories are about children growing into adulthood. Courtney is learning to skip adulthood to be something far cooler — a witch.
  • Democracy: The comic, apart from retelling how this government was formed, is also about the young protagonist reaching adulthood.
  • Emilka Sza: One of biggest arcs is around character Maya who turns from irresponisible Spoiled Brat who cant take care of herself, to much more mature person who owns up to her flaws and confronts her. She literaly goes from having a 9 year old boy helping her go to bed, to becoming a Cool Big Sis to him.
  • The Flash: Barry Allen died just when Wally West was reaching into adulthood. Wally's Character Development as the new Flash thus played out like this, with him coming to terms with taking up his mentor's mantle, finding his own way of doing things and growing out of his Glory Hound personality.
  • Mort the Dead Teenager: A miniseries about growing up…from the perspective of a youth killed in a automotive accident. It’s a comedy as well.
  • Plutona: The comic shows a bunch of high school kids discovering one of their heroes is mortal and dealing with the first adult decisions and responsibilities of their lives.
  • Runaways: The comic is about six teenage kids' who discover their parents human weaknesses and sins, then immediately strike out to support themselves independently.
  • Spider-Man: In nearly all his incarnations. Spider-Man's origin story includes Peter Parker getting superpowers, using them for profit, and then failing to help stop a criminal who later kills his Uncle Ben. This causes Peter to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. Note that as a coming-of-age story, Spider-Man's origin story is lopsided. It includes the decision to be an adult, but not the learning to be an adult.
  • Superman:
    • Most of Superman's origin stories — like Action Comics #158, Superman: Secret Origin, Superman: Birthright and Action Comics (2011) focus on teenager Clark Kent discovering his powers — and occasionally his alien heritage — and figuring out his place in the world. In Pre-Crisis continuities, his transition to adulthood was marked by his biological parent's deaths from disease, which worked as a perpetual and bitter reminder that his powers cannot do everything and he cannot save everybody.
    • Red Daughter of Krypton is about teenager Supergirl joining a group of rage-fueled anti-heroes after failing to fit in among humans and becoming unable to get over her anger and grief caused by her home's destruction and her family's demise. In the course of the story, Kara meets and befriends badly-damaged people, fights mass-murdering monsters, learns how to manage her anger, manages to overcome her pain, loneliness and Survivor Guilt, and at the end she accepts she has a new home to protect.
    • The Unknown Supergirl focuses on 16-years-old Linda Lee being adopted, leaving the orphanage, and adjusting to her new life while she deals with abrupt physical and psychological changes. Finally, her cousin reveals her existence to the world, and she has to struggle to take on new responsibilities and to live up to Superman's legacy.
    • In Way of the World, Supergirl promises to save a little boy with brain cancer. Her more experienced peers warn that she is over her head, but Kara dismisses her warnings and counters super-heroes should be more proactive. At the end, she fails to save little Thomas, she fails to bring him back to life, and she even considers time travel to set things right. At the end, though, she comes to accept that her powers cannot do everything, and she should move on and learn from her mistakes and focus on what she can do instead of fighting against the inevitabilities of life.
  • In Tales of the Jedi, the last arc, "Redemption," centers around Vima Sunrider when she becomes old enough for Jedi training. She starts as a rash and lonely girl, but with the help of the Force, seeks out Ulic Qel-Droma as her teacher and gains the maturity she needs to be a Jedi.
  • X-Men:
    • The story starts with middle-aged Professor X training the five original X-Men, who are all teenage rookies, into becoming the heroes their world needs. Even if this world hates them for it. Over the years, the rookies become seasoned veterans who no longer depend on their mentor, and more people join the ranks. With the process or rookie to veteran repeated, at least for those who manage to survive the near-constant battles. Characters who used to be the students, have long since graduated into teacher-mentor positions.
    • New Mutants and its sequels focus on the coming-of-age story of a new generation of teenage mutants, and then their students, who even had an arc called "Childhood's End".

    Fan Works 
  • Children of Time is this for the Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century character Beth Lestrade, who is fifteen when we first meet her, seventeen next time... And then we follow her for nearly a year, 'til she finally Earns Her Happy Ending and marries a certain Great Detective... Her five episodes constitute a complete Hero's Journey.
  • Don't Keep Your Distance serves this purpose for a group of young Mobians traveling across the world eleven years after the ending of Sonic X: they leave their home village behind on a quest to meet Tails and do a lot of growing-up on their journey.
  • The Legacy Series is an Arrow Spin-Offspring fic that focuses on Oliver and Felicity's son Jonathan as he takes up his father's bow and becomes the hero of his own story.
  • Ma Fille: When Piston Hondo's sister Natsumi is introduced, she's twenty-one, and a spunky, but immature wild child. As the story progresses, and eventually moves into the Sequel Series Shining and Sweet, she becomes less pushy and more emotionally mature, culminating in the birth of her daughter, Sakura.
  • This is the plot behind the entire series of Pokémon: The Great Adventure. Ash travels across the régions with a mysterious mentor and learns to become a stronger Trainer and Aura Guardian while growing up and facing the reality of life.
  • The Ragged Lady, a The Dresden Files fic, portrays the first manifestation of a wizard's magical talent as something akin to this trope.
    Everything felt different now. When Molly was a child, she was sure she'd feel like a completely different person when she started her first period—she'd be a woman, she'd be almost grown up. But a period turned out to be messy and just another chore. But this… this was what she'd been looking for, trying out new clothes, reading new books, hanging out with new people. She'd been searching for it the last two years, she thought, when she'd first felt restless and out of place. This was it. It was here and it was now.
  • The Blacksmith's Apprentice is at least partly this for Hiccup; after being disinherited and rejected by Stoick when he failed to perform well in dragon training, as the fic starts Hiccup is just Gobber's assistant and basically reduced to the status of village thrall, with only Astrid consistently kind to him. As events unfold, Stoick is 'forced' to temporarily allow Hiccup to act as heir again as he recognises that his current choice of Snotlout is inadequate (even if Stoick initially argues that Snotlout just isn't ready yet rather than acknowledging that he never will be), which gives him a chance to see Hiccup demonstrate his leadership and ability to make decisions. Finally, Stoick officially outcasts Snotlout when the other Viking tries to rape Astrid, openly stating that he now recognises that Hiccup was just a late bloomer rather than a runt, even before he learns about Toothless and Hiccup's new group of dragon riders.
  • Knight Erranddoes this for Antoine D'Coolette as he goes on a knight errant to find himself, a classic example of The Hero's Journey.
  • Glory Days serves as this for Ty, Buzz, Warp and Rocket during their days at the Space Ranger Academy.
  • Child of the Storm covers Harry Potter/Thorson's progression both in terms of Character Development and growing into his powers. He starts out as a somewhat average 13-year-old Squishy Wizard, and will one day be a Physical God and King of Asgard. The story covers his physical, mental, and emotional progress in between those stages.
  • The Bridge prequel story "Godzilla meets King Kong" serves as one for Godzilla Junior, starting with him arriving on Skull Island as a child and growing up in size, skill, and strength under the mentorship of King Kong.
  • The Queen of Sunshine and Bright Things is a Maleficent/Aurora-centric coming of age story about Aurora growing into adulthood from age 16 to 26.
  • Undertale fanfiction Not As Simple As A Happy Ending is this for Sans.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail is this for Chloe Cerise, who decides to find who she truly is after being thrown into the eponymous Train itself, away from everyone who pushes her into a life filled with Pokémon.
  • Archie Comics story Maybe the Last Archie Story revolves around the gang graduating high-school, living one last adventure together, facing for the last time one old enemy who is not playing around anymore, and Archie finally choosing between Betty and Veronica.
  • In X-Men 1970, the original X-Men decide that it is time to grow up, leave the Mansion behind and face the real world. Scott and Jean get married and move to another city, Warren proposes to his girlfriend Candy and starts running his father's company, and Hank and Bobby set off on a journey across America.
  • Futures Freak Me Out starts with Asuka being a seventeen-year-old girl full of neuroses and fears, resorting to smoking and drinking to stave off their emotional pain, and unwilling to enter into a relationship with Shinji out of fear to lose one of her very few friends. By the end, she is a mature, married taking her daughter to school for the first time.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide has Shinji and Asuka grow up, overcome their worst issues and learn to open up and love each other. After the final battle, Shinji meets with and talks to her mother's soul for the last time, and then he symbolically turns around and walks away, aware that he is saying goodbye to his childhood forever. In the distant epilogue, Shinji is about go to college, and he and Asuka are expecting a baby.
  • The Second Try: The chapters set in the future revolve around Shinji and Asuka growing into mature young adults and becoming parents.
  • You Are (Not) At Fault: Shinji and Asuka getting over their childhood traumas and becoming mature adults is one of the main plotlines.
  • Opalescent has Opal struggling to fall deep in love with Otto due to the fact that she and Otto are still children, and Chapter 7 has her explaining to Otto that when an agent is employed with Odd Squad long enough, they may start to reach a point where there's a part of them that grows into an adult.

    Films — Animation 
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 has Hiccup who is not sure of his place in the world at the beginning of the film and is unwilling to take up the mantle of chief that his father Stoick is trying to force upon him. But by the end of the film, after his father's death, Hiccup finally finds his place, and is now ready and willing to become the Chief of Berk.
  • Downplayed but present in Inside Out. Riley is twelve, and during the course of the movie the landscape of her mind changes in ways to indicate she is maturing. For instance, large sections of her imagination are demolished and her imaginary friend is erased, replaced by a machine that spits out idealised, devoted boyfriends. It also shows many of her oldest memories being lost as she moves away from her early years, and her idyllic, happy core memories and the personality islands they created are replaced by a wider selection produced by multiple emotions, showing her developing beyond "happy kid who likes hockey".
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: In a way. "Growing up" is a recurring theme in the narrative, with a lot of Emmet's personal conflict having to do with still being upbeat in a world where everyone is telling him to change his tune and "get with the times". As Emmet, Wyldstyle and the rest are arguably Finn's Author Avatars, it reflects his own struggles with growing up now that he's a teenager. There's also a point to be made that the film deals with how to grow up, with Rex representing the easy, angsty, and cynical method that helps no one but yourself — "don't let anyone else play with you, even if that means breaking everything, putting all your toys into storage, and giving up on your imagination" — as opposed to the much harder route of being aware that life has letdowns and compromises with others, but rolling with the punches and persevering through it to find the fun you can have by including people other than just yourself, as detailed in the Everything's Not Awesome song.
  • Monsters University is a college campus coming-of-age story mainly for Mike Wazowski as well as Sully, as they study to be scarers, while trying to figure out if they're really meant to be scarers.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a film about a quartet of brothers who happen to be… well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as they come into their own and seek to journey into the world and be accepted by human society.
  • Many interpret The Thief and the Cobbler as this for the main character Tack, who begins the story skinny, pale, and mute, but by the end becomes muscular, tan, is much more confident in himself and has the voice of Sean Connery!
  • The main themes of the Toy Story series revolve around growing up, moving on, and that nothing lasts forever. Andy goes from being a carefree young boy to a young man heading off to college, and his toys realizing, and eventually facing the fact that Andy will inevitably outgrow them. This reaches its ultimate conclusion in Toy Story 4 when Woody learns owners do not constrain toys, and he can live an impactful life not tied to another kid.
    "How long will it last, Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college? Or on his honeymoon? Andy's growing up... and there's nothing you can do about it."
  • Turning Red is about Meilin "Mei" Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl whose sudden transformations into a huge red panda correspond with how she's learning more about herself and how to embrace the wilder, messier side of her that her red panda form represents.

By Writer:
  • Nearly anything written by Judy Blume.
  • Author Sarah Dessen specializes in these. All of her novels are coming of age stories for her protagonist, usually following their last school year or last summer before college as they come to terms with their messed up families, gain some true friends and/or fall in love for the first time (sometimes all three).
  • Robert A. Heinlein juvenile novels (and a few other short stories) always follow this trope.
  • Stephen King is fond of this trope, though, because it’s Stephen King, they’re usually incredibly dark examples. This includes:
    • It: Half the novel revolves around the Losers’ Club bonding over their shared social isolation and learning about courage, loyalty and the Power of Friendship... whilst battling a malevolent entity that feeds off their fear and eats kids. Some of the kids learn to stand up to their abusive or overbearing parents and Beverly comes to terms with her burgeoning sexuality (which she was previously afraid of due to her creepy father) having sex with all the boys in the Club to maintain their bond.
    • Carrie: The title character stands up to her abusive, zealot mother and learns not to be ashamed of her body, gaining the confidence to dress up and attend prom where she finally feels accepted... only for the school's Alpha Bitch to pull a nasty prank on her, causing her to snap and unleash telekinetic hell on her tormentors.
    • The Body (which later became the film Stand by Me) revolves around a group of boys bonding and standing up to bullies over the summer... whilst searching for the corpse of a missing kid.

By Work

  • Most — but not all — winners of the Newbery Medal.
  • In All Quiet on the Western Front, a group of young German students, including protagonist Paul Bäumer are goaded into enlisting by their jingoistic teacher, Kantorek. The boys go to boot camp on a wave of patriotic fervor, but their brutal boot camp experience under vicious martinet Corporal Himmelstoss saps them of their enthusiasm even before they are sent to the front line.
  • In The Adventures of Caterpillar Jones, C.J.'s journey of growth involves him literally transforming from caterpillar to butterfly and, in doing so, symbolically letting go of what's holding him back and embracing his new life.
  • Aeon Legion: Labyrinth is about a girl named Terra graduating high school and enlisting in a time traveling army. She leaves her home for the first time and enters a strange new world that constantly challenges her assumptions. Part of Terra's growth actually comes from her realization that she is not special and that she has to struggle and work hard to gain anything.
  • Animorphs follows five 13-year-olds (and one alien teenager) as they fight a Secret War against invading alien brain slugs, and lose their innocence in the process. At the end, after three years of keeping heavy secrets from everyone they know, having to contemplate the possibility of failing to save their loved ones, in some cases actually causing the death of those loved ones, and killing countless enemies (and enjoying it sometimes), the surviving Animorphs come out of the war struggling to find an identity that doesn't revolve around being a child soldier.
  • Anne of Green Gables. She grows the most in the first book, and the last book is a Coming Of Age of her youngest daughter, Rilla.
  • Each book in Annals of the Western Shore is this, for different reasons:
    • In Gifts, Orrec and Gry grow up in a society that values magic powers for their ability to dominate and wage war on their neighbors — something neither of them are interested in doing, putting them in an uncomfortable position with their families.
    • In Voices, Memer grows up hating the Alds for their brutal occupation of her city, but slowly comes to realize that simple revenge won't help, and they're really not that different.
    • In Powers, Gavir's various illusions about the world and the people in it are shattered when his comfortable Happiness in Slavery is destroyed by war and personal tragedy, forcing him to travel far and wide (and learn even more hard lessons).
  • Belgariad: Garion is a teenager through most of the story, but the first book covers his childhood from the beginning. As Garion is painfully Ignorant of the Call, the series deals largely with his coming to terms with being special. Love Interest Ce'Nedra is also forced to grow up, maturing from spoiled princess to responsible queen.
  • The Best at It is a Middle Grade novel about 12-year-old Rahul deciding to embrace his Indian culture, his sexuality and learning to be himself.
  • Brian's Saga: A teenager gets literally stranded in the woods. In order to survive, he has to become a self-sufficient adult.
  • The Calf of the November Cloud: Konyek, a young Masai, is wounded and left for dead by cattle riders as he is taking care of his father's livestock. After being found and healed by a hunter friend of his, Konyek discovers that his treacherous cousin Parmet abandoned him, and then told their tribe that Konyek fled from the riders, taking his favorite calf with him. As a result of it, Konyek's tribe has already gotten their livestock back except for the November Cloud calf. Konyek sets out to recover his calf, dodging hostile warriors and surviving in the Kenyan wilderness during weeks, and then return to his hamlet and confront Parmet's lies. When all is said and done, Konyek feels that his ordeal has been a rite of passage into adulthood; and his father also understands it in this way, because he gives his son the November calf for his own.
  • The Chosen is a coming-of-age novel about two Jewish boys, one Hasidic and one Modern Orthodox, living in Brooklyn in the 1940s.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Tasia starts out as a rebellious but still sheltered and very naive princess just into her twenties. She grows over the course of a couple years in the books into the Empress, leading her people, being a capable fighter personally and becoming a powerful ruler.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain: Taran begins as a teenager pig-keeper's apprentice, and throughout battles against the forces of the Dark Lord Arawn, grows into adulthood and becomes High King of Prydain.
  • The Confusions of Young Törless is one of these, with a heaping helping of expressionism, aristocratic teen angst, and violence.
  • Damnatio Memoriae by Laura Marcelle Giebfried follows Enim Lund as he is rather forced to leave the last bit of his childhood behind.
  • Deryni:
    • Cinhil Haldane's surviving sons come of age in the Heirs of Camber trilogy.
    • Kelson's tale is unfolded over two trilogies The Deryni Chronicles (which covers the hectic first eight months of his reign, beginning at age 14) and The Histories of King Kelson (which draws from the next three years).
    • The Childe Morgan books cover the early lives of a number of characters, with the first volume discussing Donal Haldane's children as well as the Corwyn heirs (Alyce, Vera, Marie, Ahern). The second and third books add the next generation of Corwyn's ducal house.
    • Liam-Lajos postpones taking on his royal status as King of Torenth until after he makes one last court visit to Coroth as a squire.
  • In The Dreamside Road, Enoa Cloud's share of the story offers this trope, as she moves from her sheltered post-apocalyptic sanctuary and explores the wider world in search of the Dreamside Road.
  • Molly Carpenter is not the protagonist of The Dresden Files, but her life mentor is, so this trope is depicted through a different lens. White Night and Ghost Story, in particular, focus on her assumption of responsibility as a sorcerer and an adult. To her dismay, however, Sex as Rite-of-Passage is not played straight.
  • The Family Tree Series does this combined with a Generational Saga as well, following the growing up of four generations of girls based in Maine through the 20th and early 21st century.
  • Fever Pitch: The book, not the movies. Describes the author's own coming of age through his relationship with football and his favourite club.
  • Ghost In the Noonday Sun: Sheltered young Oliver Finch is abducted by pirates who believe that, because he was born on the stroke of midnight, he has the power to see ghosts and can get their deceased former captain to lead him to their buried Pirate Booty.
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon covers title character Luna's adoption at less than one year old and power manifestation at age five to set up the climax at age twelve-reaching-thirteen. At that point Luna's adoptive family is forced into conflict with a monster that Luna is responsible for defeating.
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain is this for its protagonist, John, who is closely based on the book's author, James Baldwin. Each of the flashback sections also serves as a mini coming-of-age tale for the other members of John's family.
  • Harry Potter: The seven books each cover a year of the eponymous Harry Potter's life, primarily showing ages 11 through 17. Although the series is ostensibly about Harry's struggle against the evil wizard Voldemort, his growth from a child through adolescence into adulthood is a major theme, and the bulk of each book is about his time as a student at the strange but wonderful Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's near the end of the final book, when Harry willingly walks into his own death in order to defeat Voldemort, that the already-dead Dumbledore acknowledges Harry's maturity.
    "Harry. You wonderful boy. You brave, brave man."
  • Hell Is A World Without You is about a teenager raised within American Evangelicalism whose ingrained beliefs fall apart during both 9/11-era culture wars and high school drama.
  • Idlewild is the story of a teenage boy who realizes his world has been shaped by lying adults and is faced with the responsibility to support himself and others. Also, there's an apocalypse.
  • The Immortals is about Daine moving beyond the sudden death of her mother, finding new friends, mastering her wild magic and gaining unlikely allies with animals and the "monsters" invading Tortall.
  • Interpreter of Maladies has two stories, "Mrs. Sen's" and "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine". Both involve children who become fascinated by an adult, and when the adult leaves them in the end, they lose their naivety toward the world.
  • Jane Eyre is all about how the title character transforms from angry, poor, unwanted little girl into an emotionally and financially secure woman who is the equal (and perhaps the better) of her love interest, Mr. Rochester.
  • Jezycjada is a Coming of Age in modern Poznań series.
  • Johnny Tremain: The book charts not only America growing into a new country, but Johnny growing from an arrogant boy into a wise, intelligent man.
  • Many Waters: The twins learn lessons during their Adventures in the Bible including sexual temptations, earning their keep, and some of the less-pleasant aspects of human nature.
  • The series May Bird is one for the titular character, the third book in particular as it features her finally becoming the strong warrior she saw herself as in the first book.
  • Minecraft: The Crash's main themes are about growing up and learning to deal with consequences, as well as loss and grief, as the protagonist enters a VR Minecraft world to save her friend, who was in a car crash, only to realize her friend had died and she needed to move on.
  • In Minecraft: The Island, what little the protagonist remembers of their life before arriving in Minecraft is sedentary and without challenge, and they find great joy in doing things themselves instead of having someone to take care of them.
  • The Newton Family: The family of seven people, especially the children who are dealing their lives of growing up, experience and it revolves their storyline.
  • Night Gem: Chronicles Aera's life from when she first arrives in the commune of Ynas, through puberty, developing a sense of personal identity, her first experiences of loss, all the way up until she makes a life-changing decision.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Dennaleia and Mare are in their late teens when the story begins. Their arcs focus on growing into womanhood as both of them hone their individual abilities and fall for each other, becoming a couple against what their families wish.
  • Of Human Bondage: Chronicling Philip Carey's struggles as an orphan with a club foot being raised by his strict aunt and uncle, being sent to Boarding School, hating it, running to Germany to complete his education, and struggling to find love and purpose in late-Victorian and Edwardian England.
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: Little Dog details formative experiences that made him grow up, such as going off to college, Lan's death and his doomed romance with Trevor.
  • Robert Lipsyte's One Fat Summer, and its subsequent sequels, shows the teenaged Bobby Marks gaining the confidence he needs to stand on his own two feet, as well as improving his own self-worth and dropping several pounds.
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit deals with a young evangelical girl who grows up to find that she's a lesbian, and how this contrasts with her religion.
  • Orphan Island chronicles Jinny's final years on the island before she has to leave it on the boat.
  • The Outsiders, is a coming-of-age story, as is the film based on it (see live-action films).
  • The Bengali novels Pather Panchali and Aparajito follow the coming of age of the protagonist Apu Roy over thirty years. It was adapted into The Apu Trilogy of films by Satyajit Ray.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Charlie, a 16-year-old with a Dark and Troubled Past, starts high school and becomes friends with seniors Sam and Patrick, who help him start to branch out and mature.
  • Pharaoh follows Ramesses's personal growth from an irresponsible prince to the ruler of all Egypt. Subverted Trope — his development is superficial, he remains ruled by his impulses and gets murdered because of The Vamp. And politics, but The Vamp was the immediate cause.
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows the struggles of Author Avatar Stephen Dedalus as he tries to grow up and not to be shackled down by the political and familial situations he was born into.
  • Purple Hibiscus: Kambili and her brother Jaja learn to deal with their father's abuse, civil unrest and eventually their father's murder.
  • Subverted in A Prayer for Owen Meany: the impact of Owen on Johnny is a major part of his life, but Johnny hasn't really changed much since Owen left his life. In fact, he is much worse off.
  • The Salamanders is an on-going slice-of-life web serial about a small group of main characters growing up in a fantasy setting. They face things like making friends, first crushes, coming out, moving out, dorm life, pursuing an education and career, managing money, getting The Talk, alcohol, and more.
  • The Secret Garden: For both Colin and Mary.
  • Shatter the Sky: Maren, who is seventeen when the story starts, goes on a quest to rescue Kaia, her girlfriend. She has to take on significant responsibility and danger while doing so, growing into a strong young woman as a result.
  • Several books in the Ship Who series, though the last two protagonists are a bit older in contrast. As shellpeople, these protagonists graduate and can become brainships at sixteen. Helva and Tia are shown as children and become more independent upon graduation, while Nancia's starts after it. Nancia and Helva's book in particular are about them coming into their own in the setting and considering themselves adults, with Nancia gradually realizing where she stands when it comes to choosing Good or Lawful, and Helva pushing back on the strictures kept on her.
  • Sierra High (Wattpad Series): It's about the troubled teens from their bad high school in St. Louis, Missouri, and it's going to be the best years of their lives.
  • This Side of Paradise: The novel is based on Amory Blaine's life, exploring his growth and development from childhood to adulthood. As he grows up, Amory becomes more self-aware and reflective. He begins the novel taking his youth for granted, believing Princeton and his romance with Isabelle Borgè to be the peak of his life. He ends up losing his innocence after fighting in World War I and becomes self-destructive because of it. By the end of the novel, while still nostalgic for his youthful past, he accepts that he's maturing and desires to be a person that others can rely on.
  • Everything in the Tortall Universe.
    • Song of the Lioness has Alanna learning to enjoy being a girl and stop fearing love while she faces numerous dangers to herself and the realm.
    • Aly of the Trickster's Duet is the daughter of a legend and leads a life that's both idle and frustrated until she's dumped into another country's burgeoning civil war, where she gains a real sense of maturity about spywork.
    • Beka Cooper goes from a Shrinking Violet to a tough cop who manages to get justice despite the corruption, logistical, and bureaucratic difficulties of Tortall's nascent police force.
  • Touch: A story focusing on the recovery of an adolescent from severe trauma. For bonus points, it takes place during a time when his parents are struggling to cope, the world is under attack from space wizards, and he may or may not be learning he's gay. It's a coming of age jamboree.
  • Treasure Island: Jim Hawkins starts as just an assistant inn keeper working for his parents, and learns to confront betrayal and violence in the quest for treasure. Ultimately, he decides that even the promise of more treasure would not entice him to revisit the adventure.
  • Upon This Pale Hill starts as an identity crisis for an Introverted Cat Person from Stepford Suburbia and turns into a deconstruction for his Good Samaritan career choice, with rock music, college politics, and young love.
  • Walker's Crossing: The book follows Ryan, a preteen boy in Wyoming who dreams of being a cowboy. Ryan gradually heads toward the role of Only Sane Man as his older brother Gil and best friend Matt gravitate toward a Neo-Nazi movement.
  • When Zachary Beaver Came To Town is a 1999 Period Piece Coming of Age Story (and its 2003 film adaptation) by Kimberly Willis Holt. During The Vietnam War, the town of Antler, Texas is visited by a small sideshow that leaves behind its star attraction, Zachary Beaver, the supposed fattest boy in the world, an intelligent but unhappy boy whose visit has a large impact on the lives of several residents, such as a boy whose mother has abandoned him and another whose brother dies in the war.
  • Wings of Fire books in the main series follow an adolescent dragon POV as they mature over the course of the book. Definitely the compressed development variety, since the timespan of a Wings of Fire book tends to be a few weeks at most, with some only lasting a few days.
  • The Winnie Years: The series follows Winnie as she grows from a child into an adolescent and navigates puberty, her first relationship, changes in her friendships, and the increasing pressure to look good and conform.
  • Zahrah the Windseeker begins with Zahrah's parents celebrating her becoming a woman (her menarche), which is followed by a quest as well as a journey of self-discovery in the Forbidden Greeny Jungle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boy Meets World is about an 11-year-old who doesn't understand anything about his entire life but is told love is worth it. As he grows up he learns to understand life and love until he reaches the point where he and his life partner set out into the unknown together.
  • Brooklyn Bridge centers around a 14-year-old Jewish American boy and his family in 1950s Brooklyn.
  • Troy has one in the Community episode "Mixology Certification". Over the course of the night on his 21st birthday, his idolization of Jeff and Britta is replaced with the realization they can be just as ignorant as he is at times. Jeff even explicitly tells him he is a man now.
  • Doctor Who uses this as a common theme. Most of the companions go through a coming of age brought about by their travels with the Doctor.
  • Everything Sucks! features a group of high schoolers trying to figure out their place in the world.
  • The Sequel Series to Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World is about Cory and Topanga's daughter Riley facing the same life challenges that her father did when he was her age.
  • Little House on the Prairie: Nellie and Willie Oleson both do this in the later years of the series, shedding their mama's pampering –- much to her chagrin -– to become responsible, hard-working adults. Nellie did this in the Season 6 finale, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," while Willie's stories gradually came in the final two seasons over multiple episodes.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • The series as a whole revolves around the eponymous Malcolm and his journey through adolescence; as a genius-level teenager, he is often under pressure by those around him, and struggles to find a healthy balance between living up to his potential and doing teenager stuff. His older brother, Reese, is an unintelligent bully who gradually comes to realise that his antisocial behaviour won't work in real life. The oldest brother of all, Francis, was sent to military school for his destructive pranks; he was just as bad when he was in military school, but became more mature when he travelled to work in an Alaskan logging camp and then on a cowboy ranch.
    • One episode revolved around Malcolm trying to help his classmate Dabney get into a paintball match despite the resistance of Dabney's overbearing mom. Once Dabney unleashes years of repressed aggression, his mom comes around to try to drag him off.
    Dabney: I'm not your little boy anymore. I'm your little man!
  • My Left Nut: The story deals with Mick's puberty and transition to maturity with the added "bonus" of facing a potentially life-threatening illness and dealing with the loss of a parent.
  • My Mad Fat Diary chronicles the life of Rae, a 16-year-old girl suffering from both mental health problems and obesity.
  • On My Block revolves around a group of black and Hispanic kids growing up in rough Los Angeles neighborhood and all the complications that come with it. Most notably, Monse deals with sexual harassment after her body changes, Cesar is pressured to join a gang, and Olivia has to face adolescence without her parents to help because they were deported.
  • Paper Girls: All the tween girls (they're twelve when the story starts) are thrust across time and then get caught in a war between different time travelers, showing a lot of capable maturity for their ages dealing with them when even as many adults couldn't.
  • The Queen's Gambit follows Elizabeth "Beth" Harmon as she goes from a newly-orphaned 9-year-old to a professional chess player in her twenties.
  • Ready or Not (1993) follows two adolescent best friends and their coming-of-age, addressing topics ranging from divorce, racism, first love, and body image.
  • Red Dwarf had one in the episode "Holoship". Rimmer seems to realize that he doesn't want to be an officer. He wants someone who will love him. Hence why he's not super-excited when he becomes one, and he immediately gives it up when he realizes the woman he loves can't be with him.
  • HBO's Rome contains a few examples. Brutus goes from a half-drunk socialite controlled by the whims of fate and his manipulative mother to a self-dpossessed stoic cutting the straps from his armor as he walks alone against an entire platoon. Octavian meanwhile goes from a geeky wimp at the start of the series to a very, very, creepy Magnificent Bastard in the close.
  • Smallville depicts Superman's teenage years, and deals with both his and his friends' maturation into adults. Along the way, many a Monster of the Week is defeated.
  • Stranger Things: For the child characters, who begin the series as preteens and grow up and mature over the course of the story.
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty: The story is about Belly, who's fifteen, taking steps closer to adulthood such as kissing or dating boys while growing up.
  • In Switched, the four main characters are all teens. At the start of the story, they are all immature, naive, or selfish, but by the end of the story, they have all grown up emotionally.
  • Verano Azul is one of these, as it centers around a bunch of Spanish children and pre-teens who spend a whole summer in a beautiful beach town and as the days pass, learn many things about themselves and others. Plus their Cool Old Guy mentor dies right at the end.
  • We Are Who We Are: The series focuses on Fraser and Caitlin, two teenage Army brats living on a base in Italy with their families. Both are 14, and much of the series is about them discovering themselves, especially regarding both kids' sexualities and also her gender. The series ends as they run off together, after they've shared a kiss.
  • Season 4 of The Wire has one of the darkest examples of this with the boys of summer. Despite following middle-school students versus high school, the characters all end up in much darker places.
    • Dukie looks like he earned his happy ending — except now, he is too scared of high school and drops out to become a corner dealer. In Season 5, he later become a heroin addict.
    • Randy knows of a murder, which he uses to try to get out of trouble only to be outed as a snitch thanks to the police slipping during an investigation. This leads to numerous beatings, isolation from friends and even his foster home getting firebombed. Afterwards, he is put into a group home, where the beatings continue. In Season 5, Randy is now cold and hardened.
    • Michael after his abusive step-dad is murdered thanks to Chris Partlow. Michael is drafted into Marlo's ranks. By the end of the season, Michael has become cold to his friends (except Dukie) and a killer. This keeps up until he is betrayed in Season 5.
    • Namond is lucky enough to get the happiest ending of his friends. After constant pressure from his mother to be a drug dealer, Bunny Colvin is able to step in and adopt him. Through out Season 4, Colvin had helped Namond become more mature. In Season 5, a high-school age Namond is giving an award-winning speech on AIDS, showing he is fully out of the game.
  • The Wonder Years is all about a boy growing through junior and senior high school.
    • The 2021 reboot also titled The Wonder Years follows 12-year-old Dean as he grows up in Montgomery, Alabama

  • 24kGoldn's early music was growing up in a party world and becoming old enough to have more opportunities to do it.
  • Avicii's "Wake Me Up" describes one such story:
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost
  • Green Day's album American Idiot is about a character named the Jesus of Suburbia who tires of small town life and seeks fulfillment in a new life in the city. After much heartache and some self-destructon, he finally comes to terms with life and matures from a rebellious youth to a jaded, but functional adult.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Adam and Eve history in the Book of Genesis has been said to represent this, with both being expelled of the Garden of Eden meaning the loss of childhood, especially innocence and important choices and decisions no longer being taken by others, and having to endure the obligations and problems that come with adulthood.
  • Classical Mythology: Persephone’s myth is sometimes interpreted as a story of moving from girlhood to womanhood. Persephone leaves her mother’s side (whether unwillingly or not, it depends on the version) and takes on new responsibilities as a wife and Queen of the Underworld. The Eavan Boland poem 'Pomegranate' uses the myth as an allegory for a mother learning to let go of her daughter — and it ends with the mother willingly giving her daughter the pomegranate to eatnote .

    Tabletop Games 
  • Masks: A New Generation puts a Superhero twist on this trope by having the characters be a Super Team of rookie superheroes, with the game mechanics focusing on the development of their self-image. Advanced abilities are even referred to in the rules as "Adult Moves".
  • Misspent Youth is a game where you play as a rebellious youth. Predictably, growing up is a central theme, and is even a central mechanic of the game. A player can Sell Out one of his or her Convictions to — amongst other choices — grow up, losing the Conviction permanently, but hopefully winning a conflict. The game ends when a player runs out of Convictions — potentially having grown up completely.

  • The musical A Chorus Line crams sixteen coming-of-age stories into the montage "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love".
  • In Eurydice, Eurydice grows and matures during her time in the Underworld and is eventually forced to choose between staying with her father and risking coming back to life with Orpheus.
  • Shakespeare's four plays, Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V either depict the wayward Prince Hal's coming of age and taking the throne as a triumphant warrior king, or it depicts Prince Hal tricking everyone into believing it's his coming of age story.
  • 13 is the literal version of this since it is about the main character's Bar Mitzvah. Of course he is forced to grow up and figure out who his real friends are when he moves to a new town and tries to have the biggest party ever.
  • Vanities follows three women from high school in 1963 to college in 1968, and adulthood in 1974, and the musical version adds a fourth act set in the 1980's.

    Video Games 
  • Beyond: Two Souls is essentially a story of Jodie evolving from shy child, through angsty teenager, to badass adult, all the while learning to cope with her otherness and loneliness resulting from it.
  • Both the A and B routes of Blaze Union, which deal with Gulcasa and Aegina respectively. The A route goes over more of the traditional story elements covered by this trope, whereas Aegina's path deals more with coming to terms with grief and the truth and finding one's place in the world.
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons becomes a coming of age story for the younger brother, the catalyst for growth being his older brother's death. Near the end, he overcomes his fear of water by swimming across a river alone. Made more powerful by the fact that this is triggered by the action button that is normally reserved for the older brother.
  • The story of Dragon Quest V is a 'bildungsroman' revolving around the growth of the Silent Protagonist from a newborn to a boy, from a boy to a man, and from a man to a father.
  • Fallout 3 is often seen as one. After all, your player character goes from a teenager in a fallout shelter to being the hardened survivor of the wasteland.
  • Final Fantasy XI: One could make a case for every expansion being this — along with the base game's three overlapping storylines — but Wings of the Goddess hits all the key notes so hard it sings. For the first time, you're not just a random adventurer who got pulled into a world-shaking crisis. You're The Chosen One of Altana Herself, charged with going back in time and putting an end to the Crystal War to stop the Goddess's sorrow. Not that you know any of this starting out — in fact, it's your actions that spur the villains' plans into motion, and nobody in your time knows about the crisis except a plucky heroine. After a long, arduous journey frought with battles, ending with the salvation of reality itself, only two people know anything happened — one's you, and the other had to erase herself from existence.
    • Some of the other characters go through this as well. Aphmau starts the game as a teenage girl without a care in the world before learning the dark truth behind her brother and ultimately starts taking her responsibilities as Empress seriously, The Young Griffons get their first taste of war, complete with the loss of friends and family that goes with it, and Iroha goes from an unsure 14 year old girl to fighting down the greatest threat Vana'diel has ever seen.
  • Florence, an indie game where you portray the titular character, a young girl through her teenage years, deals with separation with her friends, romance, marriage, and so on.
  • The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is about a group of Japanese delinquents trying to discover themselves and what they want out of life outside of the juvenile delinquent lifestyle they've come to know.
  • Goodbye Volcano High is about a group of teenage dinosaurs in their last year of high school, trying to tie up loose ends and figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. The story is told through the lens of Fang, a nonbinary musician trying to make their big break, but has to contend with their bandmates pursuing other interests. In a cruel twist on the genre, an asteroid is coming that will wipe out the dinosaurs in eight months, forcing them all to grapple with their mortality and the tragedy of their lives being cut short.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker starts with the main protagonist Link going through his small, sleepy fishing village's rite-of-passage on his twelfth birthday, the day he's officially considered an adult. He's forced to do a lot of growing up quickly when his world is turned upside down by the sudden kidnapping of his younger sister, Aryll, and he's forced to combat a malevolent and frighteningly powerful entity that destroyed the ancient world. By the end of the game, he's defeated and killed the Big Bad Ganondorf, and sets off to establish an entirely new kingdom with Tetra and her pirates.
  • In Mass Effect 2 this is Grunt's loyalty mission. As a young member of his species, and a tank-bred clone for that matter, finding an identity is important to him. Being a Krogan, Grunt's coming-of-age ceremony relates to him learning to control his innate aggressions; on a more abstract level, he is often seeking the advice and approval of those around him, and interactions with him typically entail helping him sort out his identity and making him a valuable member of his current group.
  • Mega Man Star Force seems to be one of these, as the main character (Geo) starts out by shutting out the world in the first game, then grows up through the second game, so that by the third he is able to step up and take charge of the gang when Luna Platz has been datafied.
  • Oxenfree has been described as a coming-of-age story for the protagonist Alex and her friends.
  • The purpose of Social Links/Confidants in the Persona series, starting the third game, function as this, especially if the character of interest is one of the Protagonist's schoolmates. By interacting with the Protagonist through the events, the person develops some Character Development and learns how to cherish the things that are important to them, putting the past behind them and what they want do to in the future.
    • Even during the first game focus on this, with many characters the party met asking them what are their purpose for fighting the Big Bad or continue living.
  • Some Pokémon games play with this. Ostensibly, a meek kid from a town in the middle of nowhere becomes powerful and confident, growing more mature over their journey and becoming a battle protégé. The first installment in the series even refers to the protagonists journey as this. From the player's perspective, the Player Character, who is largely featureless, is mostly a receptacle for other characters to speak into, with your rival(s) receiving the actual character development; the player is left to imagine the player character's maturation for himself.
  • No matter what choices you make in Stray Gods, Grace comes into her own after beginning as a washed-up musician.
  • Tales of the Abyss for Luke. He starts out as a self-centered, sheltered brat, goes through phases of Jerkass, Heroic BSoD, The Atoner and various identity complexes, and ends up declaring his independence from the quasi-father-figure Big Bad and saving the world. Yay!
    • Tales of Graces is also technically a coming of age story, due to the prologue-maingame-future arc structure, but the development is spread across five characters — Asbel, Cheria, Hubert, Richard and Sophie — so it ends up a little less focused.
    • "Tales of Vesperia" acts as a moral coming-of-age for all its characters as well.
  • The entirety of The Walking Dead can be seen as one for Clementine. In the first season she's just a normal 8-year-old girl, who learns the basics of survival in the post apocaliptic world, like who to trust, how to scavenge for food, how to use a gun etc. In Season 2, Clem is now 11 and also the Player Character. She's more capable than before, but still requires help from adults around her, despite being Wise Beyond Their Years. At the end of the season, she becomes fully responsible for someone else for the first time: she starts taking care of AJ, the newborn son of a deceased couple who used to be members of her group. Come the third season, and Clementine is now a 13-year old cynical gunslinger, fully capable of living and surviving on her own. After constant disapointments from other people, Clem decided that she prefers to live by herself. As the season progresses, she befriends Javier and his family, convincing her that living as a loner won't get her anywhere. Finally, in the final season, Clem is now a mature 16-year-old, who becomes a leader of an entire community of teens and kids, is tasked with teaching AJ morality and living in a group.
  • The entirety of The World Ends with You is this for Neku Sakuraba, detailing him growing out of his Jerkass personality and childish preconceptions of others into becoming a much more mature person who learns to let other people into his life and to embrace the individual values of them. This also extends to his partners as well, who each learn to accept their flaws and make better strides towards becoming better people.

    Visual Novels 
  • In CLANNAD, many characters observe that Tomoya is "just a kid" and that he will need to, someday, become a man in order to support his family.
  • All three of Fate/stay night's routes, each corresponding to a different one of The Three Faces of Adam. The first two (corresponding to the hunter and the lord) leave some of his future developments open. The last route, Heaven's Feel (corresponding to the prophet), follows it to its inevitable conclusion.
  • Little Busters! is largely the story of how Riki, a rather meek and unconfident young man constantly following after his friends, manages to become stronger and more able to handle things on his own. To a slightly lesser extent, the same is also true for Rin.
  • In Murder by Numbers (2020), Honor starts the game reeling from her abusive ex and overbearing mother, and learning to trust herself no matter what anyone says is a big part of her development.
  • White Wings is a darker take on the usual story as the main character, Hiroshi, must not only begin to make his own life decisions but also learns how his actions and decisions could drive people away as much as bring people together.

  • Aisopos is Historical Fiction Korean Webtoon and follows it's titular protagonist from his childhood to adulthood.
  • Beneath the Clouds: Masako starts out as a rather naive teenager unsure of her place in the world but discovers several surprising things about herself over the course of her journey.
  • Beyond the End: While End is technically over 800-years-old, he's still a baby among angels and had no experience of the world outside Heaven before he fell. The story is very much about him learning about the world beyond the safety of his home and him truly becoming an adult as he faces trials. He's still prone to outbursts and high emotions and has to learn to regulate himself.
  • Invoked in Homestuck. The game Sburb is designed to force its players to grow as people, and the protagonists are playing it together. Some characters are challenged to face their fears (Tavros, Eridan, Dave); others are...encouraged to overcome insecurities or flaws (Vriska, Kanaya, Nepeta).
  • Outsiders is a lesbian drama that follows Siobhan Pattinson and Ebony Larsson's progression from idealistic teenage girls to hard working women with careers.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: This is happening to all four younger members of the crew. Emil starts out as New Meat, Reynir as a Sheltered Aristocrat and the Hotakainens, while no strangers to the hardships of the real world by comparision to them, are still going against their guardian's wishes for the first time by joining the expedition.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Character Development of Sokka, Katara, and especially Avatar Aang and Prince Zuko involves a lot of this.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: The first two seasons are about Ben Tennyson and Gwen (and Kevin) becoming more accomplished superheroes with 5 more years of experience under their belts. For Ben especially, he does his best to fill the shoes that Grandpa Max left behind, first when the latter disappeared, and the second when the latter was exiled to the Null Void.
  • Gargoyles has a rather subtle story arc featuring Brooklyn changing from a wild-hearted hipster into an effective second-in-command and a brilliant tactician, yet a romantically frustrated character. The episode Kingdom highlights this.
  • Gravity Falls is this for Polar Opposite Twins Dipper Pines and Mabel Pines. It's most obvious near the end of the series, when their 13th birthday becomes a major plot point — Dipper is rushing to grow up, Mabel comes to fear it, but both make peace with the issue by the end.
  • Infinity Train: In many ways, the show acts as a Deconstruction of adventure stories where kids travel to a magical world and overcome their problems, ala Labyrinth or The Pagemaster. The train defies the Year Inside, Hour Outside and All Just a Dream tropes that usually accompany these stories, the magical and quirky companions that become loyal friends to our heroes are created solely to be avenues for their character development, regardless of the lives they live outside of that, and refusing to accept any sort of growth means you're trapped for years, maybe even decades, until you do.
  • The Loud House: By Season 5, everyone is a year older. In this case, Lincoln Loud goes to middle school, Lori goes to college, and Lily is in preschool. This era starts in the Season 5 premiere, Schooled!.
  • The Magic Pudding: Bunyip's adventure begins literally on the day he comes of age.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", which shows how the Mane Six discovered their own special talents and earned their cutie marks, which fans agree is definitely not a metaphor for adolescence.
  • Over the Garden Wall has a lot of elements of a coming-of-age story for Wirt, especially when it comes to him confronting his problems instead of running from them or giving up. He finds himself in an unfamiliar place, has his identity questioned, makes new friends, suffers tragedy and nearly gives up in the face of it, and learns to fulfill his responsibilities to his family.
  • In Peppermint Rose Rose learns through her journey to put others' needs before her wants, and grows into the caretaker of the magical world.
  • Parodied in The Powerpuff Girls (2016) episode "Horn Sweet Horn". It features a pony who wants to be a unicorn. Near the end his mother arrives with a gang of unicorns and informs him she needs to tell him something, but she needed to wait until he was old enough and had gone on "an intense journey of adolescent self discovery". His mother reveals that she's a unicorn, and then pulls back his mane to show that he had a horn the entire time but didn't notice it due to having Messy Hair.
  • South Park:
    • The show has been toying with these in later seasons. "You're Getting Old" and "Assburgers" plays this mostly straight for Stan; "1%" flips this trope around in its handling of Cartman.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Ahsoka, who grows from snippy and aggressive to open-minded and wise.
  • Star Wars Rebels has Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren, as a Deconstruction of the Kid Hero genre. The former having been alone for years and finds himself becoming surrounded by both good and bad people, while the latter has already been caught between all sorts of people and wants to be alone. Both believe they have seen the worse of the Galaxy, unaware of the burdens that come with becoming leaders and soldiers in a fight where everything seems to be against them. As Word of Saint Paul puts it for Sabine, she is a character that 'must sacrifice who she is now for who she must become'.
  • Steven Universe has Steven Quartz Universe, who grows from a Tagalong Kid to becoming an equal member of the Gems, while also fulfilling the same role his mother had in protecting the Earth.
  • Summer Memories tells the story of the most important summer in the childhood of protagonist Jason, as he goes through a journey of self-discovery alongside his best friend Ronnie and witnesses both the people and the world around him change.
  • Thundercats 1985 is all about Lion-O growing up to be a worthy Lord of the Thundercats. Made interesting because in the beginning of the series his age suspension capsule malfunctioned, leaving him mentally a child in a buff adult body. The entire series shows his mental age catching up to his physical age.

Examples of Late Bloomer versions

    Anime & Manga 
  • I Want Your Mother To Be With Me! is an unusual example, as only Ryo truly comes of age, learning what it means to be an adult. Yuzuki is already a mature parent, and Asahi and Haruka are young children. All of them have Character Development though. Ryo starts the series as a self-centered loser, but becomes more helpful and caring towards Yuzuki, Asahi, and Haruka. His parents give him some good advice about how maturity is learning to accept support from others, and don't fault him for moving back in with them.
    Mr. Ishizuka: It's because you're an adult that you should rely on us. A person faces more hardships the moment they become one. They'll need someone they can depend on.
  • Neighborhood Story, like many Shōjo manga. Only, since it's Ai Yazawa, the characters' motivations for maturing and growing are mainly their dreams and aspirations of becoming graphic artists and fashion designers.

    Comic Books 
  • Scott Pilgrim has this with the titular character Scott Pilgrim. Having lived more or less the same, his life becomes more dangerous and everything is shaken up when he meets Love Interest Ramona. While fighting her Evil Exes, he (along with Ramona herself) end up recognizing their faults and troubles and learning how to overcome them. Scott's friends also have this a lesser extent (Kim overcoming the tension between her and Scott since high school, Steven coming out of the closet, Knives becoming a young woman and so on.) Notable in that everyone hasn't finished growing, but they're on the right track.
  • Y: The Last Man features a reasonably realistic delayed coming of age story amongst the Gendercide, war, cloning, cultists and conspiracies going on all over the place.

    Films — Animation 
  • Simba of The Lion King (1994) becomes convinced by Timon and Pumbaa to live a carefree hedonistic lifestyle that carries on well into adulthood, avoiding his past and his responsibilities as the future king. Only after Rafiki gives him a rather creative lesson on facing his past does he decide to grow up and go back to reclaim his rightful throne.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It's in the title — the question is rather who the truly mature person is: Andy or his partying friends?
  • Black Swan Nina is close to 30, still lives with her mother and is quite sexually naive. This makes her perfect to play The Ingenue White Swan in the production of Swan Lake. But she must embrace her sexuality and grow up to be able to play the Femme Fatale Black Swan.
  • In A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, Timmy has decided to keep acting like a child well into his twenties so he doesn't have to be separated from his fairy godparents. When he falls in love with Tootie, he ultimately has to choose between staying a Manchild or growing up so he can be with her. In the end, he grows up but Jorgen allows him to keep his fairy godparents anyway since he loved them so much, as long as he no longer uses them for selfish wishes.
  • Failure to Launch. Doubly subverted. Tripp is presented to the audience as a 35-year-old who has failed to transition into adulthood, as are all his overgrown-child friends. By the end of the movie, however, we find that Tripp's apparently juvenile behavior is not "failure to launch" but because his fiancee died and his friends' situations are also not as they seem.
  • The film version of Fight Club is essentially this, in contrast with the Downer Ending of the book.
  • The Fly (1986) is about Seth Brundle, a thirtysomething quantum physicist who, due to an astonishing intellect that is implied to have manifested at least as early as his teens (he was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Physics at 20) and a Workaholic attitude, has been toiling away in seclusion on a teleportation machine for at least six years and by his own admission has no life beyond his work. His awkward attempt to flirt with a beautiful science journalist as the film begins turns out to be the first step in crossing the threshold of maturity; they become lovers and his new understanding of "the flesh" allows him to finally perfect the machine. But he has trouble handling his awakened passions; a misunderstanding involving her editor/ex-lover drives him to drunkenness and he teleports himself, unaware that a housefly is in the telepod with him. In the days that follow, he becomes stronger, more energetic, and much more virile, but also emotionally unstable and violent — having been genetically fused with the fly, he is undergoing a Slow Transformation into a monster. Even as his better self re-emerges, he must face the human inevitabilities of decay and death in a way no other human ever has, and eventually becomes desperate to hold them back.
  • Frances Ha features a 27-year-old aspiring (and underemployed) dancer whose life is on autopilot, with her both revisiting her youth and trying to find greater certainty in her future. By the end of the film, her life seems to be on something resembling the right path, but she still has trouble wholly adapting to the adult world.
  • Gran Torino: Walter Kowalsky, even when he is a senior who has raised a family, still lives emotionally as the young soldier that crossed the Moral Event Horizon at the Korean War. He must acknowledge he is a Grumpy Old Man Jaded Washout Cranky Neighbor Racist Grandpa who has alienated his own family and now that his wife has died is completely alone, so he can be a real Papa Wolf.
  • A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints constantly flashes back to the protagonist's life as a teenager, but his actual coming of age doesn't happen until he's in his thirties and finally revisits the father he ran away from.
  • High and Tight features an early twenties boy who has never done anything with his life trying to join the army.
  • The Iron Man movie is basically about Tony Stark going from an extremely rich manchild to an extremely rich man. By building a robot suit and fighting crime.
  • Kicking & Screaming by Noah Baumbach is about a group of recent college graduates who completely refuse to move on with their lives.
  • Labyrinth has a 16-year-old girl at the start of the movie throwing tantrums like a 12-year-old. It takes having to use her brain a bit and making some genuinely tough choices in order for her to appreciate what she has. Plus meeting David Bowie, that probably help the old hormones.
  • Sirens has this happening to a repressed Edwardian housewife as she visits real-life artist Norman Lindsey, and meets his free-spirited models. The models engage in a Corrupt the Cutie with her and a maid in the household — but it's shown as a sign of positive character growth.
  • The Third Man: Holly Martins is something of a Manchild: the books he makes a living writing are Escapist westerns with Black-and-White Morality. His naive search for justice in the death of his best friend Harry Lime forces him to come to terms with a World Half Empty.
  • The Waterboy is about Bobby Boucher, a 31-year-old waterboy who still lives with his mother and has done nothing with his life (thanks in no small part to said mother brainwashing and coddling him). After finally learning to stand up for himself, he ends up getting a college scholarship, becoming the star linebacker of the football team and at the end of the movie, getting married to his girlfriend Vicki Vallencourt.
  • The World's End is about five men reuniting to finish a pub crawl they never managed to finish when they were young adults. Four of them have moved on... Gary King hasn't. He's still wearing the same old clothes, driving the same car and talking the same old crap. Luckily the events of the film force him to grow up a bit and starting taking responsibility for his shortcomings. Well, MOST of his shortcomings.

  • Adrian Mole, who basically went through an extended 20-year adolescence from age 13 to his mid-30s.
  • Blue Valentine: Nicki Valentine is in her early twenties when she’s forced to reassess her childhood abuse, identify her internalized self-hatred, and begin to move past it and heal.
  • Cerberon features the coming of age of the eponymous unicorn. While already an adult at around 20-years-old, he learns through the course of the novel what it takes to be a real unicorn and not just a pretty, well-educated horse with a pointy thing on his head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The characters of The Big Bang Theory are all in their thirties, but initially were fairly immature, despite being accomplished scientists. Over the course of the series they have slowly been transitioning to adulthood. The two standout exampels are Howard, who started out as a Casanova Wannabe living with his mother, and is now married with a child of his own, and Sheldon, who, over the course of the show, fell in love for the first time, lost his virginity, slowly began developing empathy and social skills, and moved in with his girlfriend.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one enormous coming-of-age story (only, you know, with monsters and superpowers) for Buffy, Willow and Xander, and the run of the series is structured to follow specific stages of adolescence.
  • In the Firefly episode Jaynestown, the local magistrate, Higgins, has hired Inara to bed his timid son Fess, who is 26 and is not yet "a man". She reassures the naïve Fess that he need not be like his father, only to be himself, which will make him stronger. Afterwords, in Inara's shuttle, Fess expresses disappointment in not feeling different after losing his virginity.
    Inara: You're very quiet.
    Fess: I'm sorry. I just...I just thought I'd feel... different... after. Aren't I supposed to be a man now?
    Inara: A man is just a boy who's old enough to ask that question. Our time together... It's a ritual, a symbol. It means something to your father. I hope it was not entirely forgettable for you.
    Fess: No, it was...
    Inara: But it doesn't make you a man. You do that yourself.
    [Fess ends up proving himself a man by defying his father's attempt to capture the "hero of Canton" who was traveling with Inara.]

  • The Concept Album American Idiot tells the story of the Anti-Hero protagonist, Jesus of Suburbia, as he matures from a rebellious youth to a jaded adult. The musical version of the album expands on this story by also telling the coming of age stories of Jesus' best friends, Will and Tunny.

  • Avenue Q. Princeton is a college grad, but he's still not ready for real adult life.
  • The Musical version of American Idiot does this with its three protagonists, Johnny, Will, and Tunny, who are in their early to mid-twenties.
  • Company (Sondheim), for Bobby.
    Joanne: You're not a kid anymore, Robby! I don't think you'll ever be a kid again, kiddo!

    Web Original 
  • A big part of Receiver of Many is how Persephone changes from an already physically mature but still very sheltered and childlike woman into a powerful Queen of the Underworld, and how she learns to built more mature and healthier relationships with people around her — especially Hades and Demeter.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Star Wars Rebels has Kanan, who experienced Order 66 when he just began his Padawan training and deployment into the Clone Wars, and because of that, he never grew past the thinking process of a teenager until the events of the show. His defining trait is focus, but this also means that he cannot multitask without worrying that the task he is currently on will never work, leading him to become oblivious to others' opinions or more practical methods, like becoming unaware of Hera's worry when he has to leave for Malachor soon, or his Determinator behavior to keep Ezra under control and safe rather than putting faith in him. It usually takes for someone to tell him about taking the obvious solution for him to snap out of it.

Alternative Title(s): Coming Of Age, Coming Of Age Stories, Bildungsroman