Follow TV Tropes


Coming-of-Age Story
aka: Coming Of Age

Go To

"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 subversion is the Delayed Coming of Age Story, in which the person has remained mentally a child his entire life and only finally experiences these things sometime between his 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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Beastars: The manga is this for every character, but particularly for the protagonist Legosi. The setting is a world where anthropomorphic animals, carnivores and herbivores, live together in relative peace, though with multiple tensions regarding the carnivores necessity to eat meat, their drives and desire for it, the herbivores fears of being eaten, and how society should accommodate those needs. The characters are in the last years of high school, and come to realize the uncomfortable realities lying beneath the facade of the town, as well as having to decide how they want to fit in, or even how they want to transgress the rules of the society they exist in, like the fact that most main characters start realizing how their romantic preferences are taboo for the world at large, most notably, the romance between the carnivore Legosi and the herbivore Haru.
  • Relatively unusual among series serialized in Manga Time Kiraranote , Asteroid in Love gives large emphasis on how the cast grows up and seeks self-improvement. More obvious are cases of Grew a Spine that Ao and Mai goes through, but even Mira, who is otherwise relatively static, also sees improvement in her intellitual side.
  • The entire subplot of Dragon Ball Z is essentially Gohan growing up with adventures similar to Goku's, his father, albeit far more violent. Like its predecessor, Dragon Ball, the series ends when Gohan is married and has a family of his own.
  • Candy Candy covers Candy's whole life since she was taken in by Miss Pony and Sister Maria as a baby, until she's at least in her twenties.
  • Naruto Shippuden shows the title character's growth from the least talented and least loved ninja in his village to a fully recognized prodigy who has saved thousands of people and faced down some of the worst criminals the world has to offer. Also (to an extent) Sasuke, who has matured from being the Rival to being homicidally crazy.
  • The Macross TV shows (Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Macross 7, Macross Frontier, and Macross Delta) all feature this, with Hikaru Ichijo of SDF being the first in the franchise to fit this trope. He starts off not wanting anything to do with the military, but the death of Roy Fokker forces him to mature and become a great pilot.
  • Amuro Ray of Mobile Suit Gundam was probably the best of the earliest examples in mecha anime. Amuro got slapped very often by Bright Noa and this helped shape him into a man. Even Bright explicitly tells him that a good smacking would force him to become one.
    • Kamille Bidan in the sequel Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is forced to mature to an even greater extent, as he faces the harsh circumstances of warfare, starts having a romantic relationship, and loses many of his loved ones.
  • FLCL, but since it's made by Studio Gainax, it's a coming of age story combined with Humongous Mecha, a Mind Screw plot, and loads of confusing and gratuitous sexual symbolism and humor. Basically, protagonist Naota tries really hard to be an adult — or what he considers to be an adult — and picks up the slack for his absent brother, who has left to play baseball in America. This includes taking care of his brother's ex-girlfriend, not enjoying sweet things and trying really hard to come off as stoic and cool. However, after meeting Manic Pixie Dream Girl Haruko, he comes to realise that he should act his age — in this case, being selfish, having fun and acknowledging his childish crush on Haruko.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Zig-Zagged. For a while it seems like the characters are failing to come of age and are suffering for it, but most of them play it straight in the end. Shinji overcomes his self-hatred and resolves to continue living in order find happiness- rejecting Instrumentality in the process. Misato accepts her love for Kaji and fulfills her role as Shinji's guardian, saving his life at the cost of her own and motivating him to continue living. Rei affirms her individuality by abandoning Gendo and subsequently becomes a god-like entity and Spirit Advisor to Shinji. Even Asuka is hinted to have changed for the better when she gives Shinji the equivalent of a Cooldown Hug as he strangles her at the end of The Movie- the first genuinely nice thing she's done for him.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, also made by Studio Gainax, plays this straight with its main character, Simon. Specially the first arc, where it's pretty much the whole point of the story.
  • If you boil all the Unwanted Harem bits and leave only the core of the plot, you can see that Negima! Magister Negi Magi is basically a story of Negi growing from good-natured and smart but somewhat clumsy and socially awkward kid into a great hero, a true successor to his legendary father. Only with magic and kung-fu. It's also a literal coming of age story, as his constant use of Evangeline's Year Inside, Hour Outside resort has presumably aged him up by at least a year.
  • Shadow Star}. Shiina copes with loss and tragedy and learns a great deal about friendship, love, and the complexities of people and the world. Then she and her partner/Shadow Archetype, Mamiko, wipe out all of mankind together.
  • The main premise of Hidamari Sketch centers on Yuno's desire to be seen as mature. Lampshaded, as she becomes overjoyed every time someone compliments her on her supposed maturity.
  • Hitohira: Shy school girl—check. Situation that forces change—check. Affectionate friends to help her—check. It's still very well done, though.
  • Reborn! (2004), when it boils down to it. It's really mostly about Tsuna being shaped and trained by Reborn into becoming a real man fit for being the 10th Generation Vongola boss.
  • Ashita no Nadja: It starts when Nadja has to leave the only home she has known, travelling with the Dandelion Troupe to find her origins and grow up...
  • Chrono Crusade seems to be a coming-of-age story for Rosette, particularly in the manga. It might be one for Chrono as well, although he'd be a "late bloomer" example as he's Really 700 Years Old.
  • Onani Master Kurosawa started out as a parody of Death Note with fapping. However, it gradually turns into a coming-of-age story once the titular character realizes the consequences of his dispensing of "justice" (i.e. masturbating on the clothes of female students who bully one particular girl who caught him fapping in the first place). "Coming"-of-age never sounded so dirty.
  • Real heartbreakingly deals with teenagers forced to grow up because of the disabilities that they've suddenly had to accept in order to deal with the world around them.
  • Full Moon deals with the protagonist, Mitsuki, having to grow up while dealing with the fact that she doesn't have much time to live.
  • Fushigi Yuugi is a coming-of-age story, among other things, for just about all the good guys—especially Miaka. While it takes somewhere between a few weeks to a few months for them to finish their journey in the book, it's only two days in the real world.
  • Sakende Yaruze! is basically a Coming Of Age Story for Nakaya that runs parallel to a Children Raise You story for his father Shino.
  • GUN×SWORD is a coming of age story for Wendy. It's not the main plot, but it's a pretty important subplot.
  • Megazone 23, at least the first part. It contains elements of most of the examples from the top of this page and ends on a decidely negative note.
  • Wandering Son has this, but the anime and manga portray it in a different way. The anime seems to be more so about kids learning to be comfortable with their bodies and growing up, apparently changing the protagonists from Transgender to Wholesome Crossdressers. The manga isn't nearly as obvious as the anime, but it's still apparent. The manga began in late elementary, and follows the protagonists as they graduate high school. They develop as they grow up. For example, Nitori starts as a sensitive child prone to Tender Tears but matures over the course of the series and becomes more confident in herself.
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is about a bratty thirteen year old girl named Mirai who, along with her Cheerful Child brother Yuuki, get stuck while visiting a museum due to earthquakes. Mirai's Character Development has her maturing out of her aggressive and cynical personality.
  • Once you look past the Fanservice, many of Masakazu Katsura's works turn out to be this. Specially obvious in Video Girl Ai and I"s: both of them feature highschool students dealing with their friendships, viewpoints in life, and their first romantic and sexual experiences.
  • Aside from the Unwanted Harem elements, Rosario + Vampire is this for Tsukune. He starts of as a directionless Ordinary High-School Student, but gradually becomes a more mature and confident individual, and dedicates himself to promoting peaceful relations between humans and monsters.
  • Eyeshield 21 boils down to the main character growing out of his wimpy kid mold and becoming a man (albeit a rather wimpy man).
  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE features this in the first two generations with their protagonists, Flit and Asemu Asuno, respectively, though their development differs wildly (Flit develops from a Messianic Archetype into a Dark Messiah, whereas Asemu develops from a "Well Done, Son!" Guy into his own person).
  • A Cruel God Reigns is very much a coming of age story for not only Jeremy and Ian, but also for many of the supporting characters, like Vivi, Nadia, William, Cass, and Marjorie. However, the story focuses mainly on how Jeremy and Ian break into adulthood after the trauma of Jeremy's Rape as Backstory and Ian dealing with the fact that Jeremy killed his father.
  • March Comes in Like a Lion is essentially one for the protagonist Rei Kiriyama, as many of the story arcs build upon his Character Development with the events that transpire in both the world of shogi and his home life, as well as with the life lessons he learns from them.
  • Fate/Zero has this as a subplot, specifically Waver Velvet, a mage with great potential only marred by his belief of his genetics limiting him and his self-hatred due to how he was treated by others. He learns to stand up for himself, by entering the Holy Grail War and teaming up with a Boisterous Bruiser version of Alexander The Great, who functions as Waver's mentor figure. By the end of the story, he manages to earn Gilgamesh's respect and is the only surviving Master who is better off at the end of the war than he was at the start.
    • In a sense, the main character Kiritsugu Emiya could be seen as going through this as well. Though Kiritsugu is an adult, he still clings to childish beliefs about dividing the world into clear cut good and evil, as well as believing that he needs to become a "Hero of Justice" who can destroy all evil and create world peace, at any cost. Kiritsugu in his backstory started to question this ideal because of the tragedies he saw while fighting what he deemed evil but in the main plot, does his best to believe that world peace and becoming a true "hero" is attainable. In the end, Kiritsugu finds out from the Holy Grail that world peace is not possible and morals are extremely complex, to say the least. By this point, Kiritsugu has sacrificed everything from his ideals to his wife and best friend for a shot at world peace, just to get nothing out of it. Kiritsugu does manages to save the world but not give it peace and is left saddened by the fact he needs to grow up and accept the world as it is, as well as how he lost everyone he cared about.
    • In addition, Kirei Kotomine, the Foil to Kiritsugu, goes through this as well. Kirei, despite being highly intelligent and capable at almost anything he ever tried, has never felt as if his life is worth living or indeed any life if worth living. There is nothing that brings him joy so he does whatever anyone else tells him to do, and due to this is nothing more than a pawn of the Church and its Ancient Conspiracy. He also has childish aspects in how he tries to cling to simple beliefs about good and evil, specifically any beliefs about good and evil that the Church tells him, all while ironically being an assassin for the Church and also being taught Thou Shalt Not Kill. Kirei eventually finds himself questioning why as an adult he still listens to his father and mentor figure, and does not think for himself. Kirei meets Gilgamesh, who teaches him how to figure out what he truly desires, which Kirei knows deep down but is fearful to accept. Kirei accepts that the only thing that brings him the desire to live and happiness is causing other people to suffer and die. From that point on, he fights in the war for himself and his own amusement, except for wanting to meet and defeat Kiritsugu, who he believes is like him.
    • Arguably, many of the main characters are going through this in varying ways, not just the ones above.
  • This is the main plot for My Daddy Long Legs, which chronicles Judy's development from a young teenager to an adult.
  • Goodnight Punpun is a particularly dark (and strange) example about a boy (who is stylized like a cartoony bird) and his development as he grows into an adult. He starts off as an optimistic, rather innocent elementary schooler but very quickly takes a downhill journey into cynicism and depression as he ages. The other characters don't fare much better.
  • Ring ni Kakero doubles as this and as a sports manga. Ryuuji and Kiku, the main characters, escape as children from an abusive household and decide to fulfill their shared dream to have Ryuuji become the best boxer in the world. In their way they grow not just as a boxer and his trainer, but as persons as well.
  • Seishun Kouryakuhon revolves around this, being a Slice of Life manga focusing on the four main characters' journey to high school graduation.
  • Akatsuki no Aria is one set in Imperial Japan, where future Elegant Classical Musician Aria Kanbara begins a rocky journey to stardom and to love.
  • Cat Street focuses on protagonist Keito's mental development, overcoming her Dark and Troubled Past as a child actress and finding out how she wants to live her life from now onwards.
  • One Piece is describe by Oda as a coming of age story. Namely, what it is to become a man.
  • Kokouno Hito is a story about the main character, a highly introverted and lethargic young man, reaching manhood, struggling to get by life as a "solo climber" but finding out that it isn't that easy to just turn your back on society and be a hermit.
  • Kill la Kill: Not only is the show a uniquely female coming of age story (which tend to be more rare), but it's cranked up until the knob pops off. Blood as a metaphor for menstruation, as well as other body image issues? Senketsu is a sailor uniform that drinks Ryuko's blood to transform into a superpowered garter-belt bikini thing. Bullies that the adults never do anything about? The Student Council President runs the school like a dictatorship, and everyone—including the teachers—are under her control. Feel like the entire school is against you? At Honnoji Academy, literally the entire school is actually trying to kill Ryuko. Worried about living up to your parents' expectations? Ryuko and Satsuki (who are sisters, by the way) were designed by their parents to be weapons in various ways. And high and mighty Satsuki is the failed version. Feel out of place among your peers? Ryuko is a Half-Human Hybrid. And of course, The Power of Friendship saves the day at the end, and everybody learns that not only does everybody have their own reasons, but they have their own crazy friends.
  • Bokura no Hentai is three coming of age stories crammed into one story. It revolves around three middle schoolers who meet on a website for crossdressers. The story takes place over the course of three years and has their personalities develop and mature. For example, Tamura has to overcome his Dark and Troubled Past and the lingering mental trauma it has caused him. In his case, he never really does.
  • Shuukan Shounen Hachi is about teenagers entering a special school to be become pro manga artists, but according to the author himself the story is less about manga than about Hachi's growth as a person. It applies not just to Hachi but also the people he interacts with like Handa and Inohara, as the characters learn from each other, acknowledging and facing their own flaws. The theme was already very prominent in one of Masuda Eiji's previous works Sakura Discord.
  • Black Clover is this for the main characters: Asta, Yuno and Noelle. Asta leave his home to become a Wizard King, Yuno must use his powers to be one of the best Magic Knights for Golden Dawn, and Noelle has to prove herself as a successful Magic Knight.
  • Okko's Inn is about Okko learning to come to terms with loss, and also to be more self-sufficient and helping others.
  • Grand Blue is a rare college example of this.
  • Much of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run is dedicated to the character development and growth of the protagonist Johnny Joestar. It's even spelled out at the beginning of the story:
    ”This story is about how I got up on my feet. Not in the physical sense, but how I went from adolescence to adulthood."
  • Wonder Egg Priority is about a group of teen girls who hunt monsters representing suicidal thoughts, representing their own personal growth and the development of more nuanced, supportive relationships.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man, in nearly all his incarnations. Spider-Man's origin story includes Peter Parker getting superpowers, using them for profit, then failing to help stop a criminal who later kills his Uncle Ben. This causes Peter to realise 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.
  • Runaways is about six teenage kids' who discover their parents human weaknesses and sins, then immediately strike out to support themselves independently.
  • X-Men, with a heavy dose of Puberty Superpower. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anya in Anya's Ghost struggles to deal with highschool life and becomes a more mature person, with goals beyond impressing boys or looking cool.
  • Plutona 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.
  • Black Science 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) 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.
  • Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things 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.
  • 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.
  • Superman:
    • Most of Superman's origin stories -like Action Comics #158, Superman: Birthright, Superman: Secret Origin and Grant Morrison's Action Comics 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 sixteen-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.
  • The story of Democracy, apart from retelling how this government was formed, is also about the young protagonist reaching adulthood.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 trilogy 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.
    "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."
  • 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.
  • 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".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Punch is about a high-school senior in Korea trying to find a direction in life, while simultanously bonding with the Missing Mom who abandoned him as a baby.
  • A Little Princess is a pretty dark version. The rich heroine Sara Crewe is left an orphan and has to work as a servant to survive. Throughout the story, she learns to hold onto her kindness and use her imagination to survive the bad days.
  • The "Apu Trilogy" of Bengali films directed by Satyajit Ray, based on the novels Pather Panchali and Aparajito, follow the coming of age of the protagonist Apu Roy over thirty years. It is often considered one of cinema's greatest bildungsroman stories.
  • The Graduate is about directionless college student Benjamin Braddock trying to find himself and escape the suburban ennui that his parents and his girlfriend's parents have found themselves in. He more or less fails.
  • The overriding plot of A Bronx Tale, where teenage Italian-American youth Calogero grows up in the changing and divided world of the 1960s while trying to find his way. Influences pulling him in different directions include, but are not exclusive to his Opposed Mentors, (one being his honest, hardworking and poor immigrant father, the other being the intelligent Affably Evil and wealthy Mafia capo who is like a surrogate father to him) his racist, thuggish neighborhood friends, and his black love interest.
  • A perennial subgenre is the teenaged ensemble comedy. Examples include:
    • American Graffiti was the Trope Codifier for the nostalgia version of this type of film. It's a Random Events Plot involving teenagers at the end of summer vacation in the early 60s. Most of the film is based on George Lucas's own memories of growing up in that era.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High follows a group of high school students over the course of one year as they all grapple with issues of impending adulthood.
  • Stand by Me starts out as a road movie where four boys walk a few miles to see a dead body, but morphs into this as the boys talk about their hopes for the future. Also subverts the Nostalgia Filter hard as it shows that 1950s suburbia was far from Arcadia.
  • The Outsiders deals with a feud between two rival gangs - Greasers and Socs. The protagonist is a teen who has to deal with running away from home, attempted murder, rebuilding his relationship with his brothers and the deaths of two friends.
  • Dazed and Confused manages to be this despite an Extremely Short Timespan. It follows the lives of high school students on the last day of school in 1976.
  • The first American Pie film deals with four teens on the verge of graduating high school, who view Sex as Rite-of-Passage and want to all lose their virginity together. Throughout the film, Jerk Jock Oz discovers a sensitive side, Kevin realises that his relationship probably won't last after school and nerdy Jim realises there's more to life than just sex.
  • Super8 is the tale of a young boy and the girl he likes coming to grips with a shared family tragedy... while a scary escaped alien runs amok in their town.
  • The Way, Way Back: Summer vacation, first job and a family crisis.
  • The Wise Kids involves Crisis of Faith and dealing with sexuality in a heavily Christian small town.
  • Renaissance Man treats several of the Army students in Mr. Ringo's class in this manner.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color's more accurate title is Life of Adèle: Chapters 1 and 2 rather than Blue Is the Warmest Color as in the original comic book. The film is more of a chronicle of how Adèle transitions from adolescence to adulthood rather than a lesbian love story even though their relationship is the centerpiece of Adèle's life.
  • The Way He Looks deals with both sexuality and wanting to be independent, with being handicapped as an obstacle.
  • Secondhand Lions: A boy is left with his two crotchety uncles while his mother goes out of state to work. At first it's all awkward discomfort, but then they warm up to each other, and one of the uncles tell the boy stories about their "past exploits." By the end he has grown from his shy awkward self, to a self-confident young man determined to take charge of his own life.
    Tagline: Every boy deserves an adventure.
  • Wild Boys of the Road is a pretty dark example of this trope. Two fresh-faced, golly gee-whiz teens hit the road as hobos during The Great Depression because their families don't have enough money to feed them. They suffer through things like brawls with railroad goons, brawls with police, rape, and losing limbs in railroad accidents.
  • For Keeps tackles the topic of teen pregancy where Stan and Darcy are forced to drop out of school and take up jobs to support their child.
  • The Spectacular Now has a shallow party boy falling in love with a Geek girl and learning that there is more to life than just having fun and living "in the now".
  • Moonlight is a coming-of-age story about a young black boy who struggles with bullying and his sexuality.
  • Handsome Devil deals with the coming of age of nerdy outcast Ned and star athlete Conor at a rugby-mad boarding school, when they're forced to share a room together.
  • The Wanderers is about a youth gang in the Bronx. The story focuses on their coming of age in the social turmoil caused by the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War.
  • Given its genre Wonder Woman (2017) has a very nuanced and coherent coming of age story. Diana starts the movie with a strong moral core and a desire to do make the world a better place, but she is also impulsive, prone to Black-and-White Morality, and judgmental. Throughout the movie she learns more about the world and about herself, and by the end of the movie she has applied the lessons. Some of the key lessons she learns are:
    • Forgiveness
    • Seeing the difference between a person and the role they act or are forced into
    • The relationship between fear and courage
    • She herself can fail to uphold her ideals
  • Man of Steel is about Kal-El growing into his role as the guardian of Earth, Superman, while also going through hardships that come with the territory, where he learns the value of faith in others and hope.
  • Call Me by Your Name is about a young Jewish-American boy in 1980s Sicily who develops into an adult through a same-sex romance with his father's summer guest.
  • Submarine plays with this. The film has the typical arc of a coming of age story, with a teenage protagonist who gets his first girlfriend, and has some adventures. Oliver, the Genre Savvy narrator and protagonist, seems to think he's the star of his own bildungsroman narrative. However, he steadfastly refuses any character development, and ends the movie throwing a temper tantrum that makes him look incredibly immature.
  • As noted above in Comic Books, Spider-Man across all three film continuities fits this in some way.
    • The Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man Trilogy featured this across each installment. Firstly dealing with Peter leaving high school, his first job, and learning how judgemental the world can be. The second film dealt with him seeping into depression and losing his powers, and him trying to figure out how he's supposed to live his life. The third film played a more fantastical version of the 'first experiment with drugs' version, as he's exposed to the alien 'black suit' that causes him to begin behaving like a drug addict, and eventually overcome the unstoppable rage it gives.
    • The Mark Webb-directed The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel (and most likely, the cancelled third entry), played even more like a Coming Of Age movie. The first film explored Peter's issues concerning his birth parents, and dealt extensively with his grief over Uncle Ben's death in more focus and detail, showing how he goes from being angry to learning the 'great responsibility' Aesop. The second film follows the first films' love story as it grows into an adult romance, Peter's continued issues with his parents' mysterious death, and reconnecting with a childhood friend.
    • The Jon Watts-directed MCU-set Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home take this a step further, trying to emulate classic John Hughes films. Homecoming follows Peter getting his first job and him throwing himself into the excitement of the 'grown up world', and learning to slow down and appreciate his youth and school life. Far From Home deals with his grief following Iron Man's death in Avengers: Endgame, and going in the opposite direction of the previous movie, learning to step up and become a more responsible, adult figure.
  • Though a minor theme in the first three installments of the Transformers Film Series regarding its human characters, the Continuity Reboot Bumblebee hones in on it, which makes sense given it focuses on the Kid-Appeal Character of the franchise and tells a more character-driven, low-key story. While Bumblebee himself deals with recovering from a horrible attack by a Decepticon seeker that leaves him unable to talk and without his memory, he befriends a human girl named Charlie who, in-turn, is dealing with the recent death of her father, her mother's remarriage, and her difficulties in life. While Bumblebee re-learns who he is and develops an appreciation for earth, Charlie learns to open herself up again, comes to term with her father's death, and begins to grow more confident.
  • 3 Generations: The film is about the life of a teenage trans boy as he tries to transition and find out about his Disappeared Dad.
  • PitchPerfect despite being often described as a film about a cappella singing competitions is actually about Beca Mitchell's journey from misanthropic jerkass protagonist to a more emotionally mature person capable of friendship and love. It can be argued that the most important musical numbers are not the competition but the more impromptu numbers: the riff-off in which she discovers that despite having joined the Bellas because of a deal made with her father she actually enjoys singing with them, singing Party in the USA on the bus shows her accepting that she's one of those weirdos and likes them, and the practice in the pool in which, by asking Aubrey to pick a song, she shows that she respects the other Bellas.
  • In Graduation, four best friends, about to graduate from high school, must find a way to raise money to help a family member in need. When one of them discovers her banker father having an affair, the foursome plots to rob his bank during graduation ceremonies. When things don't go according to plan, they end up learning more about themselves in one day than they ever did in school.
  • Thelma: A horror-filled version. Thelma leaves home for university, the first time she's out of her strict Christian parents' supervision, doing more adult things such as going to parties, drinking and becoming involved with another girl (against their beliefs). Along with that however she's coming to show extreme psychic powers, which Thelma cannot control at first. Breaking out into her own person (for better or worse), accepting her own sexuality and controlling these powers are main intertwined themes.

  • 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.
  • Most—but not all—winners of the Newbery Medal.
  • 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 So 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).
  • Brian's Saga: A teenager gets literally stranded in the woods. In order to survive, he has to become a self-sufficient adult.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A number of major characters come of age in the Deryni works. A partial list:
    • 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.
  • Anne of Green Gables. She grows the most in the first book, and the last book is a Coming Of Age of her daughter, Rilla.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fever Pitch: The book, not the movies. Describes the author's own coming of age through his relationship with football and his favourite club.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Purple Hibiscus: Kambili and her brother Jaja learn to deal with their father's abuse, civil unrest and eventually their father's murder.
  • The Belgariad is this in a Sword & Sorcery setting. 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Protector of the Small has Keladry following in the footsteps of Alanna and dealing with misogyny and other kinds of prejudice, teenage crushes, and deciding what chivalry means to her (for the answer, take another look at the title of her series).
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Damnatio Memoriae by Laura Marcelle Giebfried follows Enim Lund as he is rather forced to leave the last bit of his childhood behind.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Secret Garden: For both Colin and Mary.
  • Jezycjada is a Coming of Age in modern Poznań series.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Aeon Legion: Labyrinth is basically a story 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.
  • 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.
  • 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) …by 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Robert A. Heinlein juvenile novels (and a few other short stories) always follow this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Orphan Island chronicles Jinny's final year[[spoiler:s}] on the island before she has to leave it on the boat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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..
  • Smallville depicts Superman's teenage years, and deals with both his and his friends' maturation into adults. Along the way, many a monster is defeated.
  • 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.
  • My Mad Fat Diary chronicles the life of Rae, a 16-year old girl suffering from both mental health problems and obesity.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Boy Meets World is about an eleven 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 outted 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.
  • 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.
  • Everything Sucks! features a group of high schoolers trying to figure out their place in the world.
  • 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 sexually 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.
  • The Wonder Years is all about a boy growing through junior and senior high school.

  • 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 titled 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 
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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".

  • The musical A Chorus Line crams sixteen coming-of-age stories into the montage "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love".
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Oxenfree has been described as a coming-of-age story for the protagonist Alex and her friends.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 gangster lifestyle they've come to know.
  • 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.
  • 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 two, 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Outsiders is a lesbian drama that follows Siobhan Pattinson and Ebony Larsson's progression from idealistic teenage girls to hard working women with careers.
  • Masako of Beneath the Clouds starts the story as a naive teenager unsure of her place in the world.
  • Aisopos is Historical Fiction Korean Webtoon and follows it's titular protagonist from his childhood to adulthood.

    Western Animation 
  • The Character Development of Sokka, Katara, but especially Aang and Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender involves a lot of this.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: The first two seasons are about Ben 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 Dipper and Mabel. 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 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.
  • 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.
    • "Smug Alert!" has the town realize that their own smugness caused a terrible storm and that driving hybrid cars was the sole cause of it, even though Kyle points out that it's possible to drive a hybrid without being a douche about it.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Ahsoka, who grows from snippy and aggressive to open-minded and wise.
  • Star Wars Rebels has Ezra and Sabine, 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, 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.
  • 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 Subversions

    Anime & Manga 
  • Like many Shōjo manga, Gokinjo Monogatari. 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.

  • 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 twenty 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.
  • CompanySondheim, for Bobby.
    Joanne: You're not a kid anymore, Robby! I don't think you'll ever be a kid again, kiddo!

    Web Original 
  • 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


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: