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Death by De-aging

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"We'll all get younger and younger until we suffer a fate worse than death: pre-life! Then death."
Professor Farnsworth, Futurama, "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles"

The Fountain of Youth seems an attractive idea, especially for the elderly; you get to wind back the clock and prolong your life. However, much like a drug, it can come with dangers if overdosed. If it has a continuous effect, the youth could make someone so young they regress to before they were born, becoming a fetus exposed to the world and at severe risk of dying. Or worse, regressing beyond that to the point that they don't even exist!

Maybe it's because someone spent too much time in the Fountain of Youth, causing it to go horribly right. Or the youth continues to decrease someone's age even outside of it. If someone suffers from Merlin Sickness, this might be how it ultimately kills them. Could be considered a form of Harmful Healing, with the "healing" part being healing away age.

When someone's birth is literally undone instead of reverting before it, it's a Ret-Gone situation. Contrast Rapid Aging, where someone rapidly ages and can be at risk of becoming too old to live rather than too young, or No Immortal Inertia, where someone reverts to their true ancient age and dies because of it. This might be part of what makes the Devolution Device so dangerous, though it usually "just" sending someone back down the Evolutionary Levels.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Darker than Black: Amber's Time Master powers come at the expense of making her younger with each use. In the finale, she makes a Heroic Sacrifice to send Hei back in time to save the Contractors, leaving only her clothes behind.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Alessi's Stand Sethan is a shadow that de-ages whoever's in it within mere seconds. A woman unfortunate enough to spend too long under the shadow is reduced to a fetus, making Polnareff's encounter a Race Against the Clock to incapacitate Alessi before this kills her. Fortunately, Jotaro ends up knocking him out cold and she goes back to her natural age with no ill effects beyond short-term memory loss.
  • The minor villain Loco from MÄR uses a set of Darkness ÄRMs that allow her to immobilize enemies and then inflict agonizing pain on them through a straw doll, at the cost of making her de-age afterwards. She received them from a previous user who de-aged into nothing immediately after passing them to her. In the anime, Loco comes close to suffering the same fate but stops at baby age.
  • My Hero Academia: Eri's Quirk lets her "rewind" living things to a previous state, including to the state in which they never existed. She accidentally did this to her father when her Quirk first awakened, and the bullets that the Shie Hassaikai are producing work by rewinding the people they shoot to a state from before humanity first developed Quirks. In fact, it is this Quirk that finally causes All for One's death: during the final battle, AFO uses a copy of Rewind to negate a fatal injury and gain immense regenerative abilities, hoping that this last-ditch effort will give him enough time to reach and re-brainwash a rebelling Tomura. Instead, the heroes' efforts and attacks rapidly cause him to de-age until he disappears without having accomplished his goal.
  • In Pokémon Journeys: The Series, as a result of Bizarro Universe Team Rocket's meddling, the god of time Dialga has a Superpower Meltdown that threatens an entire universe with this, requiring Ash and his friends to summon the Top God Arceus for Divine Intervention after they're all reverted to kindergarteners and their mons into eggs.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
  • Marvel Universe:
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: On the hellish afterworld of Requiem, people (or at least vampires) age backwards. Hence, especially long-lived characters such as Lord Cryptos look like babies, and it is inferred he will continue de-aging until he truly dies. Only members of Dracula's bloodline possess real immortality.
  • In EC Comics's Tales from the Crypt story "A-Corny Story", a man who was fired for being too old sends his youth-obsessed boss a hexed oak tree. As the tree ages backwards, so does its owner... until the tree has ended up as an acorn and the boss has de-aged out of existence.
  • Tales to Astonish: In "What Was the Strange Power of Simon Drudd!!", the eponymous villain decides not to share his youth serum with the world once he's developed it, instead opting to use it on himself so that he can become an immortal and eventually go on to rule the world. For good measure, Drudd even locks his assistant Bentley in the freezer just so he won't be able to stop his bid for immortality. Unfortunately for Drudd, once the Transformation Exhilaration stage is finished, it turns out that the serum is a lot stronger than anticipated — and can't be stopped. With Bentley still locked in the freezer, Drudd is left helplessly regressing to infancy, before quietly vanishing out of existence and leaving behind only empty clothes.
  • One of Alan Moore's Tharg's Future Shocks strips is about a man aging backwards: he starts lying in the street undying of a heart attack, gets better, starts a job and is demoted until he's the teaboy, his kids move into his house and finally vanish (would have been more unpleasant for their mother), splits up with his wife, moves home, goes to school to forget things... Bonus points for a dramatic birth.
  • In the Witching Hour comic "The Girl Who Grew Younger", wealthy heiress Sara has just been forced to dump her poor boyfriend in exchange for a million-dollar inheritance on her 21st birthday, only for the cake to produce a plume of green smoke when she blows out the candles. The next morning, she has regressed to sixteen years old, and to the horror of her controlling aunt and uncle, continues getting younger over the next few days until she's become an infant. By the time a doctor arrives to help, Sara's regressed to nothingness. Then it turns out that the whole thing was a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Sara used the million-dollar inheritance to hire lookalikes of her at different ages, successfully tricking her guardians into believing that she was regressing out of existence — while the real Sara fled the country alongside her boyfriend.
  • In Phase V of Zenith, Dr. Michael Peyne is cursed with a nice dose of Merlin Sickness by the Lloigor, just so he has enough time to appreciate the reality-warping apocalypse he's caused. Worse still, it actually seems to pick up speed over time. Eventually, writing the final pages of his Apocalyptic Log in a childish scrawl, a very young Peyne crawls into bed for a nap; when Ruby arrives to say goodbye to him, he's just a baby draped in his adult-sized shirt. Gloating, Ruby takes baby Peyne to the balcony to give him one last look at the world he created, whereupon he floats away, shrinking down into a fetus, then an embryo, before he finally vanishes into nothing.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Land of What Might-Have-Been, Madame Morrible and a small cabal of fellow magicians try to gain immortality by stealing some of the Radiant Empress's blood... only to end up condemning themselves to spend eternity oscillating between various stage of youth. However, some of them learn how to devour the life-force of others in order to regain their adulthood, often killing their victims through this trope. In the finale, Morrible tries to pull this on Elphaba and even gloats about reducing her to embryonic goo, but only gets as far as reducing her to the age of eight before Dorothy intervenes, forcing Morrible to return the stolen energy.

    Films — Animation 
  • Discussed in One Piece Film: Z when Ain mentions being able to use her Devil Fruit powers to regress people out of existence by touching them enough times, thus threatening an already de-aged Robin into not fighting back further.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Discussed in Dennis the Menace Strikes Again!; the Professor and Sylvester try to scam Mr. Wilson by selling him a root that can make people younger if they use it. Upon hearing about this, Dennis worries that if he uses too much of it, he'll become so young that he'll cease to exist.
  • In the 2002 film Malefique, a group of prisoners sharing a cell discover a mysterious book that make their greatest wishes come true — albeit with massive caveats attached. The original owner of the book, one Charles Danvers, attempted to use its powers to regain his youth, but as the flashback shows, got more of it than he bargained for: shrinking back down into a toddler, he is quickly reduced to scrambling out of his oversized clothes and hiding under the bed in a futile attempt to escape the effects of the magic; the very next cut reveals that he's transformed into a fetus, which then dissolves into nothingness.
  • Crops up in an unusual way in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. After realizing that he needs to reabsorb Buddy Love in order to restore his own collapsing intellect, Sherman Klump fills a rubber ball with his prototype youth serum and tricks Buddy into chasing it like a dog — exposing him to the serum when he manages to catch it in his mouth. Regressing to a toddler, Buddy manages to escape the room after further antics... only to continue regressing into a puddle of transparent blue slime that continues fleeing the building. Following a chase scene, the slime finally evaporates after being outside for too long, at first making it look as though the story is going to conclude on a Downer Ending — up until the last few traces of Buddy end up in a fountain, which Sherman drinks from to regain his mind.
  • In the 1996 direct-to-video film Past Perfect, a group of assassins are sent back in time to murder a gang of criminals while they're still teenage delinquents. However, the killers all have to wear special molecular coating; without that, they will regress to match the time period — with disastrous results if they hadn't been born yet. As such, when the Dark Action Girl ends up losing her protection in a clash with the heroes, she immediately regresses out of existence, leaving only empty clothes behind.
  • The Poof Point: This is the central plot, where two kids are fighting to figure out what went wrong with their parents' invention while said parents mentally regress from middle age into infancy, knowing that their parents' previous experiments all went "poof" the second they had no further left to mentally regress.
  • In W.E.I.R.D. World, Dr. Abby O'Reardon has invented a youth serum, but hasn't yet developed the antidote that can stop the rejuvenation process before this trope ensues. As such, when she decides to test it on the obnoxious Dr. Mayhew without his permission, he's more than a little bit concerned; however, after three hours with no effects, he's convinced that the serum didn't work and feels safe enough to leave the lab... only to end up calling Abby in a panic when he finds himself back in his twenties and getting steadily younger. By the time he returns to the lab, he's a child and clearly convinced that he's just about to regress out of existence, judging by the terrified whimpering. However, Abby then reveals that she's had an antidote all along and she was just fucking with him. She still takes her time in curing him, though, just so she can adopt a baby.
  • In Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, the wounded thief who accidentally frees the Djinn is so terrified by his appearance and the predicament he's been left in that he wishes that he was never born. The Djinn grants his wish in horrific fashion, putting him through painful devolution until he eventually vanishes from existence.

    Literature 
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator: Willy Wonka has managed to develop Wonka-Vite pills, which decrease someone's age by 20 years exactly. Upon being offered some by Wonka, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina take four, despite some of them barely being in their eighties. Worse still, Josephine is younger than eighty, leaving her to regress to minus years and vanish out of existence; this leads to her reappearing in Minusland as what is essentially a preborn ghost at risk of becoming the prey of Gnoolies.
  • Goosebumps:
    • A variation involving Mental Time Travel occurs in The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, as the protagonist is gradually sent further and further into his own past by the titular object and has to find a way to reverse the process before he disappears. After managing to undo the curse and return to the present, he finds that his abusive little sister has accidentally been subjected to the same treatment and erased from history as a result.
    • A variant featuring physical regression appears in the Give Yourself Goosebumps novel The Knight in Screaming Armor. In one plot thread, you and your two friends find themselves falling foul of yet another time-controlling clock and regressing into infancy over the course of the next few minutes. With your friends having mentally regressed as well, it's up to you to stop the clock before it rewinds you to a time before you were born. You manage to stop regressing and restore your friends to their former ages, but for no adequately explored reason, it doesn't restore your age, unfortunately; as such, this plot-line ends with you being cuddled by one of your cousins as you bawl your head off. For now, you're still alive, but it's never made clear what'll happen to you next — if you're stuck reliving your entire life from square one, if you're permanently a baby, or if you really will suffer the Death by De-aging you saved your cousins from.
  • In A Million Adventures, there is a time screen, under which time goes backwards. When it's accidentally left unattended, a rooster comes under the screen, turns into a chicken, then into an egg, then vanishes completely. Heracles, a pithecanthropus, crawls under the screen to eat that egg and barely escapes the same fate.
  • In JG Ballard's short story "Mr. F Is Mr. F", Charles Freeman finds himself unexpectedly growing younger over the course of several weeks until he's been reduced to infancy. Worse still, his wife is either directly responsible or complicit in the process: her apparent pregnancy is actually just her way of getting ready to absorb Freeman. After several days of being babied by his own wife, the infant Freeman goes Back to the Womb and rapidly being regressed into nothingness, allowing his widow to shack up with a neighbour.
  • In Frank R. Stockton's short story "Old Pipes and the Dryad" from The Queen's Museum and Other Fanciful Tales, when a dryad kisses a human being, the person's age is reduced by exactly ten years. People who live in an area where dryads are found are careful to not allow children of ten years or less to wander freely, as a child that young is kissed by a dryad, they will be made so young that they will cease to exist. Consequently, when the villainous Echo Dwarf is trapped in the eponymous Dryad's tree — specifically, the exact tree he'd hoped to trap her in — the children who might have been able to rescue him immediately mistake the Dwarf for the Dryad, and fearing being regressed either to infancy or nonexistence, decide to leave him there.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In Backwards, Lister has been transported to the Backwards Universe in order to reverse his fatal heart attack in the previous book. After living a long and happy marriage with his girlfriend Christine Kochanski, he is eventually due to be picked up by the Red Dwarf crew in his mid-twenties so he can be returned to the normal universe. Unfortunately, given the crew's predictable screw-ups, they end up missing the window to leave and getting trapped there for the next ten years, during which Lister and the Cat are regressed to teenagers. When they finally get to try again, Kryten is deeply concerned that if they screw up this time, they won't get to leave until the two organic crewmembers are toddlers, with any further mistakes resulting in them regressing even further and suffering "a very sticky end". Fortunately, they get it right on the second try.
    • According to both Backwards and Last Human, Lister and Kochanski's children have already experienced this in the Backwards Universe; having been rescued alongside her husband in Last Human and having acclimatized to living in a Forwards Universe, Kochanski can now remember seeing her children shrinking down into infants before being pushed back inside her.
  • In Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix, elderly people are given a de-aging treatment. While they don't know exactly what will happen when they de-age to zero, the tests suggest this trope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Dinotopia has a mad alchemist make an anti-aging serum from stegosaurus spikes that causes him to keep aging backwards until he's a baby, and then explode into a pile of dust.
  • This is narrowly avoided in House of Anubis: when Alfie is cursed to de-age, he becomes a pre-teen, and then a baby, with the implication being that if Nina, Fabian and Patricia weren't able to stop the curse in time, he would've been de-aged out of existence.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: "One of Our Spies Is Missing" involves a biochemist who has discovered the secret of restoring youth, which he uses to restore retired statesman Sir Norman Swickert back to vitality to carry on his career. However, the process puts a considerable strain on the body, with him warning that if used too much the machine will "turn you into a boy, a dead boy". He later uses the same process to commit suicide rather than risk his technology being controlled by THRUSH.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist kidnaps an immortal woman in an attempt to manufacture a de-aging drug from her blood and heal the scars he gained the last time he captured her. Unfortunately for him, he miscalculates the drug's potency by a wide margin: after a brief Hope Spot in which he appears to have stopped in his twenties, he undergoes an extremely painful and Body Horror-iffic regression process, shrinking back through adolescence, childhood, infancy, before finally dissolving into a a puddle of cells.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Mentioned as a positive in "Backwards": naturally, people in the Backwards universe age in reverse, so the Red Dwarf crew quickly realize that they're going to start regressing if they stay long enough, ultimately resulting in the organic crewmembers being absorbed back into their mothers' wombs and dissolving into nothing... but Rimmer and Kryten don't actually regard it as death and believe that it will ultimately result in all humanity merging into "one glorious whole". Lister, who already considers Rimmer to be "one glorious hole", is not convinced.
    • Referenced in "Pete, Part 2", when Kochanski warns that carelessly playing around with the Time Wand could end up transforming Lister and the others into sperm. The Cat's only objection to this is that none of his suits will fit.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Past and Present", SG-1 stumbles upon a planet were everyone has amnesia, and also, there are no old people. They eventually learn that the rogue scientist Linea has developed a way to reverse the aging process. Unfortunately, a gas cloud escapes containment and spread across the planet causing everyone to regress some 40 to 50 years. Thus, the people they met are the elders, while anyone younger than 50 or so years met their demise through de-ageing.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Too Short a Season" features the famous now-elderly Admiral Jameson having discovered a drug on Cerberus II which can restore youth but carries a high mortality rate at the best of times. He initially planned on slowly taking it with his wife, but when his old enemy Karnas organizes a hostage situation with the intention of luring Jameson into a confrontation, the Admiral takes both doses so that he'll be young enough to face him. Despite initially promising results, the drug eventually causes him to regress to adolescence (younger than he was when he met Karnas), with the strain of the changes killing him shortly afterwards.
  • Wicked Science: In the very first episode, Elizabeth tampers with Toby's experiment to clone a dinosaur, which causes a Tyrannosaurus rex to grow to adulthood overnight. In the end, Toby manages to de-age the T. Rex past its birth, until it's a pinhead-sized lump of cells.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Call of Cthulhu adventure "The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn" from the supplement Curse of the Chthonians, the Time/Space Machine is able to de-age an object or creature, moving it back in time and making it younger. If a creature is moved back to before it was born, it will cease to exist.
  • The De-Age spell in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess supplement Better Than Any Man can cause this, among various other potential side effects; what makes it particularly risky is that the amount of de-aging it causes is highly random — a single casting can remove anything from one to over thirty years.
  • The Shadow of the Demon Lord supplement book Occult Philosophy has several new spells as well as rare high-level spells, including the Alchemy spell "Brew Longevity Potion", which allows one to brew an Elixir of Life that can make any who consumes it younger. However, there is a risk that one may grow too young and end up turning into a tiny embryo that dies a few rounds later.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
  • In The Dragon Doctors, this happened to most of the research team that discovered the Fountain of Youth, as well as every other living thing in the area. When the water is replicated and mass-produced, it includes a safeguard that stops the de-aging process at babyhood.
  • Emperor Hunt: The titular Super-Psionic Immortal (and insane) God-Empress From Another Dimension decided to find her long-lost (something)-daughter by de-aging Earth itself. Everyone other than the immortal protagonist shrinks back into fetuses and then cease to exist while Earth reverts to a lifeless volcanic rock.
  • Magellan: A woman who obtained de-aging powers from a genie nearly does this to hero Gola Beh. While she's stopped before Gola de-ages into non-existence, Gola still winds up as a teenager from it.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: In "Oops 4", this was apparently the plan from the start, except "the tape was in backwards". God doesn't take it well to learn that this has been going on for billions of years.

    Western Animation 
  • Curious example in the Celebrity Deathmatch fight of the Three Stooges vs. the Three Tenors that makes use of the time machine. Larry gets de-aged into a sperm and sacrifices himself by jumping into Pavarotti's eye, distracting him and allowing the Stooges to win the match. The fight also had an example of the opposite concept: one of the Tenors being aged into a corpse.
  • In the Class of the Titans episode "Time Enough for Everything", Cronus, villainous god of time, gets his hands on the timepiece of Zeus and, among other things, uses its power to de-age Jay out of existence. Fortunately, all the time travel shenanigans get undone by the end of the episode.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • The Delightful Children from Down the Lane threaten to do this by setting the dial on their age-changing ray to "age 0", saying it will make the Kids Next Door vanish forever when they use it on them. They never actually get the chance to try it, though.
    • Leaky Leona tried to kill the Kids Next Door by spraying them with the waters of the Fountain of Youth in order to get rid of witnesses. She was stopped by the Delightful Children from Down the Lane when they destroyed the Fountain.
  • Family Guy: In "Yug Ylimaf", Brian's screwing with Stewie's time machine causes the time to run backward and at an accelerated state. Stewie becomes panicked when he starts to revert in development, and the two are in a race against time to set things back to the normal before Stewie is returned to the womb and gets unmade.
  • Futurama: In "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles", the crew visits a Neptunian spa so the rejuvenation tar can make Professor Farnsworth less of an obnoxious old man. They end up getting in the tar and turning into teenagers (Farnsworth becomes middle-aged). He attempts to cure them of the tar with bacteria (except Leela who chooses to stay a teen). Not only does it fail, but the bacteria starts spreading the tar, causing them to become progressively younger over time. The crew is in a rush to get to the Fountain of Aging before they regress to pre-life, then death and non-existence. By the time they actually get to said fountain, the affected individuals are fetuses save for Farnsworth, Zoidberg, and Bender, who are a toddler, coral polyp, and blueprint disc respectively.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: "The Halls of Time" has the crew visiting a realm where the hourglasses of people's lifespan is kept. Billy ends up putting his, Irwin and Mandy's hourglasses upside down, causing them to de-age. They become progressively younger until they're reduced to fetuses, and Grim chooses not to turn their hourglasses back to normal so they can cease to exist. Thinking he has the last laugh, Grim regresses once again and runs to his hourglass, which he is unable to lift because it is so huge and he is a toddler by the time he reaches it, and de-ages out of existence at the end of the episode.
  • In Johnny Test, Bling-Bling Boy threatens Johnny and Dukey with this after creating a de-aging ray gun, turning them into toddlers with the intent of reverting them to embryos.
  • The Mask: In the episode "Little Big Mask", the Mask creates an anti-aging cream and uses it on himself... only for Stanley find that the effects can't be stopped, not even by the Mask's reality-warping powers, leaving him and Peggy Brandt struggling to create an antidote before he regresses out of existence. Towards the end of the episode, Peggy wakes up in the hospital to find that there's nothing left of Stanley but empty baby clothes, and tearfully assumes that this trope has come to pass; to her immense relief, it turns out that Stanley had just been taken away for a check-up and is a perfectly healthy infant... but unfortunately, he's still getting younger, and by now he's too young to wear the Mask — leaving him unable to help in what might be his final minutes. Fortunately, Peggy is able to improvise a cure before it's too late.
  • The Midnight Gospel: In the episode "Vulture with Honor", it's revealed that Clancy's property is right next to an extremely dangerous region of "Wobble" where space is divided into multiple dangerous colors, each one with its own lethal reality-warping effects. Steam-colored Wobble fatally regresses any organic lifeform touching it — or, as Captain Bryce puts it, it reverts them into "cream", which he demonstrates through Black Comedy Animal Cruelty. Soon after, he and Clancy find a looter who's been trapped in the purple Wobble for so long that his mind has completely snapped, prompting Bryce to Mercy Kill the guy by tipping him into the steam Wobble and allowing him to regress out of existence.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: Due to complications involving Time Dilation in "Good Old Sheldon", Sheldon ends up becoming an old man. Dr. Wakeman manages to create a de-aging mechanism based on Jenny's movements, however, she's still fighting once he gets back to his normal age. By the time he's an infant, Dr. Wakeman warns Jenny not to make any movements lest Sheldon be reduced to a zygote, and has to age another 15 years to get back to normal.
  • In the Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty episode "Fountain of Too Much Youth", Miguel was at risk of dying in this way after going in the fountain of youth. This was inverted in that same episode when Felicity fed him stinky cheese which aged him to an elderly condition. Later, he was returned to normal.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: In the episode "Three Men and an Egon", Egon gets caught in the proton beams along with a ghost that ages in reverse, causing them to exchange aging processes. As a result, Egon begins to de-age from an adult to a baby at an alarming rate. Ray, Peter, Winston, and Slimer have to find the ghost and reverse the process before Egon disappears.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Terror Tales of the Park II", Margaret tells a ghost story of how Mordecai, Rigby, Eileen, and herself joined a party bus, only to soon discover that everyone was rapidly aging to the point of turning to dust. The four try to escape but the bus driver laughs as he refuses to stop. They manage to get the bus into reverse to try to undo the rapid aging, but they de-age too far into young adults, then teenagers, then children, then babies. They find a hatch on top of the bus and jump off to freedom, but they keep de-aging anyway until they disappear into nothing. The bus, meanwhile, turns to dust.
  • Robot Chicken: One sketch has Ra's al Ghul bragging to Batman that the Lazarus Pit makes him functionally immortal. He enters as an old man and surfaces around middle-aged. Batman responds by refusing to let him climb out, forcing him to revert to a teenager, then a child, then an infant, and then....
    Batman: Well, I just killed a baby.
  • Discussed in the Rugrats episode "Back to School"; when Didi says she's going Back to School (specifically, to college to master her degree in child development), Angelica overhears and tricks the babies into thinking that everything is going backwards. The babies then overhear Stu telling Dil it's time for him to go back to the hospital, making them believe that Dil is going to be unborn (Stu was really taking Dil to the hospital for a check-up). They also worry that it will eventually happen to them.
  • The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Counter-Clock Incident" features the crew accidentally getting stranded in a backwards universe, in which the "old" ultimately die at the nadir of infancy; for good measure, in the novelization of this episode, Spock admits to being rather curious as to how obstetrics work in this reality. Later, while speeding towards a nova star that can return them to their universe, the crew of the Enterprise begin to experience the effects of reverse Time Dilation: instead of observing the passage of time at a much slower speed than anything outside the ship, they experience it at a drastically accelerated rate — and because people age in reverse in this reality, the crew find themselves getting younger and younger until they run the risk of ceasing to exist. Worse still, the regressed also lose access to their adult knowledge, leaving them with progressively fewer qualified crew-members to get them to the nova star in time. Fortunately, there's a septuagenarian commodore and his wife on board to save the day.
  • Discussed and subverted in the Steven Universe episode "Steven's Birthday". Overusing shapeshifting to appear older ends up reducing Steven to infancy. The morning after he falls asleep as a baby, Connie finds the shirt that he was wearing lying around and is afraid that he regressed further into a zygote. Steven has actually returned to normal and just changed clothes before she woke up.
  • In the T.U.F.F. Puppy episode "Pup Daddy", a gadget called the Young Gun causes the agents sans Dudley as well as Snaptrap and his gang to gradually de-age from teen to toddler to baby. Dudley has to return them to normal before they age backwards too much that they cease to exist.
  • A mental variant occurs in the Young Justice (2010) episode "Bereft", in which the team is hit by a psionic attack which erases the last few months of their memory. For the vat-grown Superboy, that's all the memory he has, so they end up with a mindless berserker.

 
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When Universe Simulators break down, they produce fields of free-floating colours that warp reality in countless different ways. As Captain Bryce illustrates, it's best to be careful...

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