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Dangerous 16th Birthday

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"Sixteenth birthday, but do I get a Vespa? No. I get a food processor and a killer flying troll!"
Jim Lake Jr., Trollhunters, "Bittersweet Sixteen"

There may be no more unfortunate age to turn than sixteen, especially if you're female, although in all media male examples exist too. While there are dangers inherent in simply existing, celebrating one's sixteenth birthday is one of the most obvious. Generally, this entails the manifestation of powers, possibly some Ancient Conspiracy or prophecy, and the end of a "normal" life for the character in question. Growing Up Sucks.

There are some Real World reasons why 16 is often chosen as The Age At Which Shit Hits The Fan. Although the hormonal hell known as puberty actually starts a few years earlier, sixteen tends to be when the teenager finally has those changes under control and starts to act (somewhat) more like an adult, which is reflected in how teenagers' bodies sexually mature (on average) by 16; thus, in many cultures, 16 was the effective age of majority. Even though Western culture prefers to wait until 18 to confer legal adulthood, in the U.S. 16 is still the minimum age for a driver's license and many types of employment (both very important milestones of adulthood, independence, and/or general social status). 16 is actually the official age of consent in 31 states, and in the United Kingdom. note  On the flipside, in many jurisdictions 16 is the minimum age at which a minor accused of a crime may be tried and punished as an adult rather than through the juvenile justice system. And in Asian media, let's not forget that 16 is four times four.

From a media perspective, 16 is also a transition age from works specifically intended for tween/teen consumers towards the mainstream adult audience. Notice, for example, how in the Harry Potter series, each year's installment is noticeably darker and aimed at a higher reading level than the last, with Book 6 (when Harry turns 16) marking the point at which the writing style and tone become level with mainstream adult fantasy novels.

Subtrope of Liminal Time. Often overlaps with Birthday Beginning as the precise moment at which everything hits the fan. Compare Bittersweet 17, for when seventeen is more of a melancholic growing-up age, and Thirteenth Birthday Milestone for when 13 is sometimes considered a similarly dangerous age. See Also: A Birthday, Not a Break, when bad things happen on any particular birthday; Died on Their Birthday; when a character dies on their own birthday. If the "danger" is supernatural and it's not just a coincidence, it overlaps with Special Occasions Are Magic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ceres, Celestial Legend: Aya Mikage first manifested the powers of the Tennyo (Celestial Maiden), Ceres, on her 16th birthday. In one of the rare examples of this trope afflicting a male, her twin brother, Aki, also begins exhibiting certain supernatural traits after this date. Essentially the whole of the Mikage family is perpetuating an Ancient Conspiracy based on these events.
  • Dragon Quest: Legend of the Hero Abel: Tiala inherits the Red Stone on her sixteenth birthday. She is kidnapped for it the same day.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden: Kurusugawa Himeko and Himemiya Chikane gain their powers as the priestesses of the sun and moon on their 16th birthday, the same day that Yamato no Orochi first manifests and begins its attempt to destroy the world.
  • Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito: A relatively calm use of the trope, Azuma Hatsumi (Eve), who simply disappears from any world she enters upon turning 16.
  • Devil Hunter Yohko: The title character comes into her own on her 16th birthday.
  • Yumeria: Tomokazu Mikuri finds himself thrust into the (sometimes hilarious) war in the world of dreams starting the night before his sixteenth birthday.
  • Omamori Himari: When Yuuto Amakawa turns sixteen, the Protective Charm that was sealing his powers and making him invisible to demons stopped working, making them aware of his presence. At the same time arrives his samurai catgirl bodyguard, Himari (followed shortly thereafter by the rest of the Unwanted Harem). Unfortunately, Yuuto has no memory of his demon slaying past and no idea how to activate his powers making him extremely vulnerable.
  • Pacifica from Scrapped Princess is destined to cause The End of the World as We Know It on her sixteenth birthday.
  • In Romeo × Juliet, Juliet discovers on her 16th birthday that she is the long-lost heir to the Capulet family, the former rulers of Neo Verona who were assassinated and usurped by the cruel Montagues.
  • When Kanon woke up Poseidon in Saint Seiya, he said it was still not his time to awaken, and took the body of a young Julian Solo to awaken himself in his sixteenth birthday.
  • Shiori of Kanon is only supposed to make to her 16th birthday if she's very lucky.
  • In Corpse Princess, Oori's 16th birthday is when he has to take over for Keisei.
  • Koe de Oshigoto! has an incredibly weird example where Kanna gets asked a favor by her sister on her 16th birthday, and so began her career as an eroge seiyuu.
  • Gankutsuou: Albert loses a dear friend on his 16th birthday. Franz is killed by the Count in a duel, which would have originally been Albert's fate had Franz not intervened.
  • In Black Bird (2006), Misao becomes a "bride of prophecy" on her 16th birthday.
  • The local villagers in Maomarimo offer their annual "maiden sacrifice" to the marimo spirit on the maiden's 16th birthday. Fortunately for the girls, it's a purely symbolic sacrifice that mostly involves spending the night alone in a boat on a lake. Everyone thinks it's just a quaint local custom until the hero, a 16-year-old male virgin, takes his twin sister's place and gets turned into a maiden as a result.
  • In Cross Ange, Ange undergoes her Coming of Age ceremony on her 16th birthday. Her brother uses it to expose the royal family's darkest secret, revealing to Ange and the entire world that she is a Norma. After her mother dies trying to defend her, Ange is arrested, stripped of her title and human rights, and sent off to a Penal Colony to become a conscripted soldier.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, on the eve of titular character's sixteenth birthday, she witnesses the assassination of her father by her beloved cousin and is later forced to flee the castle to avoid being killed.

    Comic Books 
  • The premise of the series Dark Chylde is that the main character develops the ability to become monsters from her nightmares starting at age 16.
  • In the first issue of Supergirl: Being Super, Kara turns sixteen. Or at least, so she approximates - no one knows her exact age or birthday because she was found in a field years ago. At sixteen is when Kara realizes she's an alien.
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld: On her seventeenth birthday, Amy's mother makes good on her promise to take her to their real home. Little did Amy know was that her real home was on Gemworld and that she is a princess of House Amethyst.
  • The Tomb of Dracula: While she's already been exposed to loss and terror before that, Rachel mentions that her sixteenth birthday was marked by Dracula showing up to try and seduce and kill her.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Even though "Sleeping Beauty" is the Trope Codifier in popular culture, different versions of the tale vary on whether they use this trope or not. In Charles Perrault's 1697 version, the princess is cursed to prick her finger and fall asleep at any time, but it eventually happens when she's sixteen, though not specifically on her birthday. In the Brothers Grimm's 1812 version, the curse comes to pass on her fifteenth birthday. Most retellings combine the two versions, though, and have her specifically cursed to prick her finger on her sixteenth birthday.
  • Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "Nine Bags Of Gold": When she turns sixteen, Marie's father tries to get her married to a greedy asshole.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Ask Ben Solo blog, Han and Leia take Ben to a museum exhibit about the Galactic Empire that he wanted to see. Unfortunately, he winds up having a public breakdown while looking at some Stormtrooper helmets, with the implication that his Force powers were reacting to the memories of their former wearers.

    Films — Animation 
  • Subversion in Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent curses Princess Aurora to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die before the sun sets on her 16th birthday. Aurora's 16th birthday isn't necessarily the most dangerous; it's just the last day for the curse to take effect.
  • In Onward, the protagonists' father left them his Magic Staff and told their mom not to give it to them until the youngest was 16.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Disaster Movie pokes fun at this. Will has a sweet sixteen party the same day the world ends, even though he is 25.
  • Dont Go Near The Park is about brother and sister immortal cannibals who need a sixteen-year-old virgin sacrifice to remove their curse.
  • Enola Holmes: Enola's mother disappears on her sixteenth birthday. It's this event that kickstarts the plot and leads Enola to dangerous but exciting adventures. (In the novel, it happened on her fourteenth birthday.)
  • The Slasher Movie Sweet Sixteen about a girl in a prejudiced small town. Every boy she meets dies.
  • In Teen Witch, the main character acquires her powers on her sixteenth birthday.
  • In My Soul to Take, the Riverton Ripper returns from the grave on the collective sixteenth birthday of the seven teenagers born on the day he died.
  • While a character is celebrating their sixteenth birthday in Demons 2, they get attacked and forcibly transformed into a monster by a demon, and become the film's main antagonist.
  • 16 Wishes features the main character inadvertently setting up a dangerous 16th birthday for herself.
  • A variation in We Need to Talk About Kevin: although it's foreshadowed as a crucial date several times, Kevin actually commits the high school massacre a few days before his 16th, which his mother assumes was a deliberate attempt to get himself tried as a juvenile.
  • Stitches (2012): The protagonist is traumatized when the titular clown died during his 10th birthday party, giving him a huge fear of clowns and birthday parties. His friend however convinces him to organize a huge party for his 16th birthday since his mom will go on a business trip and is leaving the entire house to him. Thus, because no clown can rest in peace until they finish a party, Stitches returns as a vengeful undead Monster Clown to finish what he started.
  • In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus the titular Doctor made a deal with the Devil, and the price to pay is that his own daughter will become the possession of the Devil on her 16th birthday.

  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, there is a prophecy known to apply to whichever child of the three major gods next reaches their sixteenth birthday. This leads to several fake-outs regarding who the child is. At first Percy, as the son of Poseidon, is the only candidate, until Thalia, a daughter of Zeus who had been turned into a tree, is re-transformed. However, the day before Thalia's birthday, she joins the Hunt of Artemis, meaning that she will never age and thus will not turn sixteen. After, the prophecy is more-or-less a race to see if the Titans can kill Percy and sway the other other candidate, Nico di Angelo, son of Hades, to their side, or if they can cross their fingers and hope he screws up - badly - at decision-time. In the end, however, while Percy makes the decision, it boils down to deciding whether or not to give someone a knife, and his sixteenth birthday ends up only as a time marker. The one who takes the "dangerous" part of the prophecy ends up being someone entirely different.
  • To some sixteen-year-olds, to be a tribute in The Hunger Games on the Reaping Day (coincidentally their birthday) could have been seen as this.
  • River of Dancing Gods: Both lampshaded and averted in Horrors of the Dancing Gods, as a sign of the generally high level of intelligence endemic to the setting. The heroine quizzes the Living MacGuffin about her birthday before she realizes that the girl (who has been kept in hiding for nearly her entire life) probably doesn't even know her real birthdate anyway.
  • Deltora Quest (and its anime adaptation) has Lief beginning his quest to find the seven gems to free Deltora on his sixteenth birthday.
  • Every one of the main characters in the Mindwarp series are explicitly stated to have manifested powers on their 16th birthday. Including silver blood. Which, if they had been born with, would have been rather hard not to be aware of.
  • 17 and Gone has a dangerous seventeenth birthday, as main character Lauren notes many girls went missing when they were 17, and fears that it will inevitably happen to her.
  • Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms: A force known as "The Tradition" attempts to make people play out their lives as if they were stories, and one of the big turning points of The Tradition's power is one's sixteenth birthday. As a Princess in one of the books reflects, if you're plain, everyone will forget your birthday and you will be miserable; if you are beautiful everyone you meet will celebrate with you. How the birthday goes can determine your life's path.
  • In the Uglies series, people get the pretty operation at 16 (though it is mentioned to the later in some cities). Of course, the operation gives you brain lesions that leave you bubbleheaded. It is also mentioned by Tally that it was said "they could make the operation work on 15-years-old now, waiting until sixteen was just a tradition".
  • The parodic comedy How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse features the main character's sixteenth birthday as the same day the outbreak started.
  • In the book XVI by Julia Karr, sixteen is when girls get their 'XVI' tattoo and can legally have sex. Of course, that's not necessarily a good thing...
  • Sixteen is the age of marriage in the world of A Brother's Price. Men are rare, so they get married right on their birthdays or soon after. For women marriage can happen at any age, even before birth - because a man marries every sister in a family - but the age of consummation for them, too, is sixteen. This birthday is more dangerous for men, who have to leave home to live with new families.
  • The evil sorcerer kidnaps all his maidens the night before their sixteenth birthday (or betrothal, if that came first) in Mercedes Lackey's Firebird.
  • In The Caster Chronicles, Casters (at least in Lena's family) get claimed Light or Dark on their sixteenth birthday.
  • In The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell, the sixteenth birthday is when heroes get marked with an H, and villains with a V on their thumbs. Those unfortunate enough to have a parent of each type get an X.
  • Circe: Downplayed. On his sixteenth birthday, Telegonus tells Circe of his plan to visit his father, Odysseus, and she is suitably aghast. Although he had planned to leave that day, the actual journey does not take place until a few days later.
  • Trail of Lightning: On Maggie's sixteenth birthday the home she shared with her grandmother was invaded by cannibals. Her clan powers manifested just in time for her to slaughter the attackers. Both her age and the trauma played roles in triggering her powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina presents the sixteenth birthday of a witch as being the day she also receives her "dark baptism." Sabrina's birthday happens to be All Hallows' Eve.
  • iCarly: The episode "iGot a Hot Room" revolves around Carly's bedroom burning down on her 16th birthday thanks to Spencer's flammable gummy bear table lamp. She even mentions said event in the revival's "iM Cursed".
  • The Liv and Maddie episode "Sweet 16-A-Rooney" has the titular twins discover a shocking secret before their sixteenth birthday - they were born on separate days at different times.note 
  • Out of This World (1987): Evie Garland is a half-alien on her father's side and possesses the ability to freeze time. Later in the show, on her sixteenth birthday, she gets the ability to teleport.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina, who is human on her mother's side, is first able to use her witch powers on her sixteenth birthday. Before that, she wasn't even allowed to know about them.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The first season finale takes place on what would be John's sixteenth birthday, except they jumped ahead eight years in the pilot. Cromartie massacres fourteen FBI agents at the same time as Sarkissian plants a bomb and tries to kill Sarah and John, resulting in Cameron being heavily damaged and John having to kill Sarkissian. Hell of a birthday.
  • During an Unsolved Mysteries segment about the murder of a young girl named Kathie Hobbs, her mother revealed that she'd had a deeply unhappy childhood, plagued by fears that she would die either at or before she turned sixteen. Her fears intensified as she approached her birthday, only to be thrilled when she safely turned sixteen. . .only to be brutally murdered a mere three months later.
  • In Young Dracula, a vampire gains their full powers at age sixteen. Powers start semi-developing before that point, but on a vampire's sixteenth birthday they are locked in a room with the family's blood mirror and merge with a demonized reflection of themselves in said mirror, after which they are meant to lose all traces of humanity and become evil.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy IX, a Summoner's sixteenth birthday makes them into an easy power source for the forces of evil, as it marks the point their Eidolons can be extracted from them and used by other people. The evil queen Brahne used her daughter Garnet's extracted Eidolons to lay waste to several settlements in an attempt to Take Over the World.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III opens with the hero's 16th birthday — the hero can be male or female. Since their father didn't finish his journey to vanquish the evil Baramos, the king has been waiting for the hero to come of age so that they can take up his quest.
    • Dragon Quest IV: In the original game, the Hero is sixteen when their journey starts.
    • Dragon Quest XI: The Luminary turns sixteen at the beginning of the game. During the village's coming-of-age ceremony, he learns that he is the reincarnation of an ancient hero who saved the world and now carries an important mission to fulfill. He sets out on a journey to discover his destiny.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army features a major character, Kaya Daidouji. Kaya is the daughter of the very wealthy Daidouji family, and despite her upbringing she is very kind towards her friends and servants. But, apparently when the girls of the family turn sixteen, a demon possesses them until they die. This troubles Kaya and so she contacts Raidou and his boss, Narumi, to help her. She quickly becomes a Damsel in Distress when some weird army guards in red kidnap her, thus setting Raidou on his quest.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Colette receives the Oracle sending her on her Journey of Regeneration on her sixteenth birthday. The Journey is supposed to end in her sacrificing herself for the sake of the world.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Inversion: in Clock Tower 3, the heroine is sent Off to Boarding School on her fifteenth birthday to prevent her grandfather from using her blood in an ancient ritual, which will only work while she is fifteen. Therefore, her sixteenth birthday would actually be one of the safest days of her life.
  • In Overlord: Dark Legend, Lord Gromgard was given a gauntlet as a birthday present, which gives him access to a room where his evil potential is unlocked.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the branded can safely hide among the Beorc until their aging process slows down at the age of sixteen.
  • In the Five Flowers of Fate event in Granblue Fantasy, this is the case of Diantha's birthday. Being a maiden of Xolotl only goes from their fourteenth to sixteenth birthday. The event takes place on her last concert before she turns sixteen, at which point things go... awry, as the primal beast Xolotl took a liking on her, and it goes on a rampage when the maidens would separate, following her supposed retirement. They eventually fixed things in the end, as the maidens remained as a group, with Diantha still its leader.
  • Mass Effect:
    • If you choose the "Colonist" background for your character, Shepard is sixteen years old when their home colony of Mindoir is attacked by slavers and their parents killed.
    • Kaidan Alenko was sixteen when he received his L2 biotic implant and all the problems that came with it.
  • In Dark Stalkers, this is true for Hsien-Ko (and her sister Mei-Ling) in the third game. The girls that formed our favorite Jiang-shi were reincarnated and given normal lives, but as they turn sixteen, they find themselves back into the Majigen and as Jiang-shi. For worse, they don't remember their past lives, and thus they're utterly lost as to what's going on...
  • 16 is the minimal starting age for a Fallout character.
  • In What Remains of Edith Finch, Barbara Finch (Edith's great-aunt) was born on Halloween 1944, and had the misfortune of quitting her film career as a child star due to her puberty and the family curse. Her 16th birthday (Halloween 1960) came to bite her in the ass when, after mistakenly hitting her boyfriend who pretended to be a monster in the basement, and fighting off a serial killer, she got a (deadly) birthday surprise when she got killed by her so-called "masked" fans... at least in the comic book. Either way, all the police found was one of her ears.
  • In the alternate timeline of Life Is Strange, where Max saves Chloe's father, Chloe gets a car for her 16th birthday, and ends up being paralyzed after a crash.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Mash Kyrielight's birthday is the day of her agency's first big time travel operation. On that day, the world ends, she nearly dies from being at the ground zero of an explosion, and is roped into an incredibly dangerous mission to fix history before the world permanently ends.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tsukihime has one example: Ciel's incarnation as Roa's 17th host manifested when she turned sixteen.


    Web Original 
  • In Survival of the Fittest, the day of the school trip (when the abductions took place) is that of Jacob Starr's sixteenth birthday.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender and its Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra. The Avatar is supposed to be located at a young age and then informed when they're sixteen, by which point they'll be ready to handle the responsibility (this is demonstrated with Avatar Roku in a flashback). In both series, the protagonist ends up learning too early and thus has problems reconciling their own life with that of being the Avatar.
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang was informed of his status at the age of twelve due to the looming Fire Nation war. Not ready to accept such a massive shift in his life and the pressures of war, he ended up running away from the temple, got himself trapped in an iceberg for a century, and then had to deal with a Fire Nation that had been running amok for all that time. Furthermore, Aang has trouble weighing his responsibility to the world at large with his own personal values, which comes to a head in the series finale.
    • In The Legend of Korra, Korra has the opposite problem. She started water-, earth-, and firebending instinctively by the age of four, so there was no hiding her status from her, and an anarchist cell attempted to kidnap her shortly afterward. Her father and Tenzin decided to raise her in seclusion in an impenetrable South Pole fortress, guarded by and taught to perfect her bending by the Order of the White Lotus. As such, Korra's entire identity revolves around her being the Avatar, and a recurring theme in each Book is the villain threatening to take that away from her.
    • Avatar Kyoshi found out she was the Avatar at 16 but not in the traditional way (it also was not her birthday). The previous Avatar Kuruk’s friends were unable to find her for some fourteen years due to her being the child of outlaws and not staying in one place for long enough for their methods to track her down. They ended up picking the wrong kid. Kyoshi worked in the estate where said wrong kid, Yun, was being trained for a few years and then they figured out it was her, not him.
  • The Monster High special Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love? revolves around Draculaura caught in a conflict with her ex-boyfriend Valentine before her Sweet 1600.
  • In the Trollhunters episode "Bittersweet Sixteen", Bular sends a Stalkling — a pterodactyl-like troll that can be out in the daylight — to kill Jim. It is also his sixteenth birthday.

    Real Life 
  • As noted above, 16 is the minimum age for a full driver's license in the United States, although some states will issue learners' permits at 15 and other states impose special restrictions on drivers until they are 18 (such as having an adult in the car after dark).
  • Hollywood Provincialism aside, 16 is the age of consent in the majority of U.S. states, and in many other countries including the UK and Canada, and most of Australia. Many countries in the European union have it even earlier, with Germany having it down to 14 in certain conditions.
  • A few countries, such as Austria and Brazil, lowered their voting age to 16.
  • At the age of 16, you are officially allowed to drink non-distilled alcoholic beverages in Germany.
  • On November 14, 2019, a teenage boy in Santa Clarita, California decided to "celebrate" his 16th birthday by shooting up his school, killing two classmates and injuring three before turning the gun on himself. In this case, the danger was more to the people around him than it was to him personally.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dangerous Eighteenth Birthday, Dangerous16th Birthday


Carly's burnt room

Spencer attempts to surprise Carly on her birthday by making a gummy bear table lamp, but it ends up burning down her bedroom.

How well does it match the trope?

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