Follow TV Tropes


Mayfly–December Friendship

Go To

"Well, I like you and princey. You're pretty cool, for humans. Yet, you're still humans. And humans are born and die in the blink of an eye... The deeper our connection becomes, the lonelier I'll be once we part."

Romances aren't the only things that are complicated by differences in lifespan. A hero who is immortal (or even extremely long-lived) may outlive his friends as well.

As with Mayfly–December Romance, this is a good way to add Angst to an immortal character and explain their attitude of Who Wants to Live Forever? If they could find a fellow immortal to share their lives with or discover some way to make their current true companions immortal, they might change their minds and decide that Living Forever Is Awesome.

Of course, this is not always possible, and even if it is, it could end badly. Another option is to make the immortal mortal, but, again, this is not always possible. More often, the star-crossed friends just have to learn to live with it.

It should be noted that a character need not be immortal for this trope to qualify. They simply need to be much longer-lived than the friend in question (like, say one friend was 20-40 years older than the other friend).

There are different varieties of Mayfly December Friendship, depending on whether the immortal and the mortal are the same age or the not. It also varies based on whether the situation is mentioned In-Universe or left for the audience to realize on their own.

Although this resembles and may overlap with Intergenerational Friendship, that trope is about the age gap between friends. Mayfly December Friendship focuses on the fact that one friend, who does not need to be older or younger than the other, will outlive them. Additionally, though Mayfly December Friendship can be done with two non-immortals, the life expectancy gap may much greater than would be expected for an Intergenerational Friendship.

Sister Trope to Mayfly–December Romance. May result from Interspecies Friendship and might lead into a Reincarnation Friendship.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Crest of the Stars: Though she doesn't show it much openly, Lafiel does worry at times about her friendship with Jinto, since Abh live much longer than humans do.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, one of Marcille's greatest fears is the fact that as an elf, she has a much longer lifespan than those closest to her such as (the human) Falin.
  • Played for Drama in Frieren: Beyond Journey's End. The titular hero is an elven mage who helped defeat Maou the Demon King, and fifty years later looks up to find that the rest of her party is now decrepit. After The Leader Himmel dies of old age, Frieren realizes that she took them all for granted and goes on a quest to learn what it means to be human.
  • Gunslinger Girl. As The Handler and his cyborg become Fire-Forged Friends this trope comes into effect because the conditioning shortens the lifespan of each cyborg to between four to seven years. The handlers often find it more difficult to cope, because unlike the cyborgs they haven't been brainwashed into accepting their death.
  • Inuyasha has the titular hero. He will survive his human friends Miroku and Sango by far. Only Shippo, the fox youkai, has a similar lifespan as he does. With Kagome, it's a Mayfly–December Romance.
  • This is sadly the case for countries that befriend or fall in love with regular humans in Hetalia: Axis Powers. Countries are immortal (or at the very least cannot die of old age) whereas regular humans are, well, human. Especially tragic in the case of a young America befriending a boy named Davie. He left to find a particular flower Davie told him about, and by the time he finally got one and came back Davie had died of old age. To put that in perspective, Davie grew up, got married, had children, grew old, and died while in that same timespan America had aged maybe only a few years (he started off the comic as a toddler and by the end of it was a small child.) For extra punches to the gut, at Davie's funeral a young America looks questioningly at Davie's Identical Grandson and says "Davie?"
  • In Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, it's the case that the higher the level, the more longevity is granted by the gods to an adventurer. Many breeds such as elves are naturally long-lived. High-ranking elves like Riveria are therefore likely to be close to The Ageless, which also means that many of their friends will die long before her. On the other side, a life as adventurer is very dangerous, and many adventurers die in the dungeon.
  • Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is about a girl from a Society of Immortals living among ordinary humans and befriending a few along the way, including raising a baby into teenhood and meeting him again as an adult.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, this is hinted to be the reason why Evangeline keeps her distance from the rest of the class, though she does come around before the end of the series. In UQ Holder!, she fondly recalls her fellow students with insults of affection.
  • Hiyori with her gods and spirit friends, especially Yato and Yukine, in Noragami. She's a human teenager while the others have potentially unlimited lifespans and the gods can reincarnate if they do die.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, this turns out to be the case of any friendship involving a half-human, who only live about 1/3 the normal amount of time. Kishou Arima is revealed to have been Secretly Dying from old age, and was already middle-aged by the time he even met the rest of the cast.
  • Played for Drama in World's End Harem: Fantasia. Felaris the high elf befriended protagonist Arc's paternal grandfather when he visited their village when she was a child and he a young man, promised to come visit him, and then did so as an adolescent without considering how much longer elves live than humans: Lord Nargala had already died of old age. This caused her to develop a degree of Fantastic Racism towards humans, considering them ephemeral and pointless to get to know.
  • It's not discussed in the show, but Yo-kai Watch features the human Nate being friends with various youkai. Yo-kai are Dead to Begin With but not everyone becomes a yo-kai when they die. It is possible that Nate might become a yo-kai though, as he died in a movie and is shown to have a yo-kai form.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, it's revealed that Zeno is actually two thousand years older than the rest of the gang and was the original yellow dragon warrior who personally served the legendary King Hiryuu.
  • Brought up in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS. Ai (an Artificial Intelligence) invites Yusaku, the human he is based on, to convert his consciousness into data and fuse with him so that they can live together forever in the network without worrying about the lifespan difference. That the scene comes across as a marriage proposal is not lost on fans.
  • Frieren in Frieren: Beyond Journey's End is an immortal or near immortal elf who looks maybe twelve years old and the mage party member of the group that killed the demon king. During the journey the other three members (two humans a dwarf) gently tried to stir her emotional awareness of how much she actually likes people, but at the time all she could really consider was that she had only known them for less than 1% of her life and didn't think she could get attached to them. She's wrong, but her sense of time seems to apply to her emotions as well and it's only decades after the death of the party leader Himmel that she begins to really emotionally process the fact that she misses him greatly, even though it's obvious to anyone else around her. The plot really gets going when she starts a journey to reach Physical Heaven and meet Himmel again with a few new companions, though with her sense of time they often have to push her to move quickly since they can't afford to waste several years taking care of every single roadblock or distraction or they'll die of old age before getting anywhere. To her that time is completely inconsequential.

    Comic Books 
  • Atomic Robo is a one-of-a-kind sapient robot destined to outlive all his human friends and colleagues. He doesn't talk about it much, but the second issue alludes to it with him reminiscing about a friend from World War II who just died of cancer (after living to be a grandfather). In a much later story, Phil suggests this is why Robo takes a while to get close to his colleagues. "It'd kill him to get close to everyone he meets."
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk and all his various friendships if Hulk: The End is to be believed. He is the last sentient being on the entire planet Earth. Even Banner dies, and the Hulk is finally alone, as he has always requested.
  • The Last Galactus Story by John Byrne, which originally appeared in several issues of Epic Illustrated. A poignant moment is in the chapter when Galactus returns to Earth expecting to be greeted by the various humans who had befriended him. His herald Nova points out to him that it has been millions of years and they are all dead. His obvious grief (and forgetting that he would outlive his mortal friends) makes this usually powerful and aloof being seem very human. This does free him of his oath not to devour Earth. He does so at the end of the chapter.
  • The Mighty Thor: Thor knows full well this will be the case with The Avengers his mortal True Companions, most of whom he will outlive. Not to mention his perception of time is so muddled thanks to his long life Thor even claims to Cap that he's always so glad to see them still alive when he returns to Midgar. We full see the full heartbreaking reality of this in Jason Aaron's Old King Thor Distant Finale where after managing to restore the ravaged Earth using his mother Gaea's powers, Thor names the new rivers and trees "Steve", "Tony", "Natasha" and so on to the confusion of his granddaughters.
  • Superman is sometimes portrayed as immortal, meaning that he will outlive the human friends he cares about.
    • Despite the Silver Age's reputation for silliness, it explored the issues of Superman being emotionally close to regular humans more than once. In one story, "Rip van Superman", he ends up in a coma thanks to an accident involving a cyclotron and kryptonite. When he awakens, it's centuries in the future and he quickly realizes that his love interest Lois and his close friends Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are long since dead, having lived out their lifespans while he was unconscious. Luckily, the natives have a time machine that helps resolve the story on a happier note. In another, The Immortal Superman, Superman seems incapable of dying of old age, and then a well-meaning alien removes most of his weaknesses. He is not happy.
      Master Healer Robot: At last... You nearly died... But I saved your life!
      Superman: What? Why did you do a fool thing like that? I'm over a million years old... I've outlived everything and everybody I cared for! I wanted to die!
    • It becomes a plot point in Superman/Batman #76. Superman is talking to Wonder Woman in the wake of Bruce Wayne's death. Clark is discussing how they'll outlive everyone they know and how they're higher beings. Diana stops him, telling him that no matter how he wants to rationalize it, he's just a man grieving for a lost friend.
  • The Smurfs, by way of being able to live for centuries, have this kind of relationship with their human friends, such as Johan and Peewit.
  • The Transformers: Sins of the Wreckers gives us this exchange between a human and a Cybertronian:
    Verity: You're millions of years old, and you've only known me for five of them. How can I mean anything to you?
    Stakeout: Out of all those millions of years, Verity — out of all those billions of days and trillions of hours, the five years I've had with you have been the highlight.
  • As of 2017, this is becoming a serious concern for The Vision. A storyline in All-New, All-Different Avengers involves him meeting a future version of himself from the end of time, and grappling with the implications. Hercules advises him to live in the moment as much as possible, as someday their memories will be all that remains of their mortal friends.
  • Wolverine was born in the late-19th century. Even ignoring that most of his friends have been fellow soldiers, mercenaries, assassins, X-Men, and others who can be expected to have their lives cut unnaturally short, his longevity alone guarantees that he will eventually outlive every single one of his friends. His daughter/Opposite-Sex Clone X-23 faces the same future, a fact which she has yet to address in the books.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Several Golden Age issues imply that Hippolyte's grief at outliving her normal human friends is why she gave up being the Amazon Champion centuries prior and why she is very hesitant to spend any significant time away from Paradise Island. She's always friendly but distant with the human friends Diana introduces her to.
  • Astro City: Petty thief Andy Merton stole a magic amulet and accidentally activated it, merging with his corgi Hank and gaining superpowers. The joining created a psychic link that remained active even when the two were separated, and the dog's personality and protective instincts nudged him away from crime and toward becoming a superhero and a better person in general. However, the magic didn't prevent Hank from growing old while Andy was still relatively young.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic "Always Tomorrow", a disabled Kirk mentions this, saying that Spock shouldn't leave Starfleet to be with him, because he will die while Spock is still fairly young, leaving him with nothing. Spock counters that he was alone before Kirk's arrival and being alone after his death will be worse if he can't even have the time with him that's possible.
  • In Never Had a Friend Like Me, the issue of the different lifespans of fairies and genies in comparison to humans comes up near the end. After the Time Skip, Amanda is dying of old age a century after meeting Norm, which is a very short timespan by the standards of magical creatures. Timmy is in a similar situation since Poof, who is younger than him chronologically, is barely a toddler by that point. Norm solves it by transforming Amanda and Timmy into a genie and fairy respectively.
  • Although any companion counts as this, special mention goes to Jasmine from The Road to Shalka, who befriends the Doctor at the end of one of his lives, herself being sixteen. After his regeneration, they go on to have adventures.
  • The Confectionary Chronicles begins with a seven-year-old Hermione pledging her servitude to Loki if he'll help her get justice on the bullies who drove her older sister to suicide, with Gabriel swiftly becoming intrigued at Hermione's inquisitive mind and strong sense of self. While Gabriel acknowledges that he prefers to interact with other pagan gods as it always hurts when he loses his mortal friendships (as he can't visit them in Heaven without drawing attention to himself), he decides that he's already too attached to Hermione to cut himself out of her life, particularly when such an act would cause her emotional pain in turn.
  • Green's Eevee is a Pokemon Yellow comic themed around Blue (Green in Japan) and his recently deceased Eevee. Eevee could have lengthened his life by several years if only he had evolved, however he refused to because he felt the various Eeveelutions had downsides that would ruin his relationship with his trainer Blue.
  • Ash's Pikachu had an abnormally long life compared to most Pikachu, however it's still short-lived compared to a humans. It died a few years prior to the second-to-last chapter of Til Death Do Us Part. Ash owns a descendant named "Flash".
  • Featured in the backstory of a Zora character named Lochlia in The Myth of Link & Zelda: Breath of the Wild. She's a hybrid Zora, daughter of a male Hylian and a female Zora. Her parents ended their relationship because her they were inevitably going to outlive him, and the father hoped that her mother would find another man to share her life with so that Lochlia would have a present father. Lochlia wasn't happy not to have her father around, and even after they died, she still held resentment. And then Lochlia had a Hylian friend...who she watched aged to death while she remained young, finally helping her realize why her parents couldn't stay together. Her parents are Link and Mipha, and Lochlia tells Link this story when he awakens from the slumber of restoration, and tells him that she forgives him and understands why they ended their relationship.
  • Directly discussed in Opposites Destroy when Agrabah is attacked by Djinn, a genie of the necklace who feels that genies should rule humans rather than serve them through wishes, Djinn using Aladdin's story to manipulate a little girl into releasing him from both his lamp and the usual rules of genie magic such as the inability to kill. After Djinn nearly kills Aladdin with a particular attack, he taunts Genie with the knowledge that his friends are all mortal and asks why Genie bothers protecting what he knows he'll lose eventually, but Genie counters that he does this because he wouldn't give up a single second of their friendship for anything, as no amount of power is more precious to Genie than the time he does have with Aladdin and the others.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, Umbra, who's immortal, has this relationship with all his mortal friends save for Lina and the Ghost-type members of his team, who are also immortal.
  • This interesting short-form fanfic for Pokémon portrays the inevitable end to the relationship between a trainer and her immortal Olympus Mons.
  • The fanvid Young and Beautiful by TheNamelessDoll is both this and a Mayfly–December Romance. Ariel is a mermaid who befriends Peter, a boy who can't grow up. Ariel had a Precocious Crush on Peter but the feelings were reversed when Ariel grew older. Ariel continued the age and the two stayed friends, until Ariel died of old age.
  • Harry and the Shipgirls: This is one of the things that tsukumogami have to deal with as their mortal owners and friends will inevitably die. A notable example of this is Colombe du Chasteler who starts as the 'oldest daughter' of Jean-Francois, and has to come to terms at the funerals of her Papa, stepmother, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces and eventually a pair of great-grandnephews while not outwardly aging.
  • In Shazam! fanfiction Here There Be Monsters, Apollo thinks the problem with gods befriending mortals is the latter are gone in a blink. Since he is quite fond of Shazam, he hopes the old wizard avoids acting hastily.
    There was nothing more to say, so Apollo let himself out and took up the reins of his chariot outside. The horses pulled him into the starry void.
    By the time he returned, it would be finished, one way or another. He hoped Shazam wouldn't do anything too rash. He'd grown to like the old codger, over the millenia.
    But that was the problem with mortals.
    Just as soon as you started liking them, they up and died on you.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Iron Giant, Hogarth is a pre-teen human. The titular giant, unless it can travel very fast through space, is probably hundreds of years old. Given this and the ability to reform itself which it displays in the last scene, it's likely it will outlive Hogarth.
  • The soul-destroying theme of Toy Story 2: Jessie, as an unchanging toy, "outlived" Emily's childhood. This is continued in Toy Story 3 where Andy has grown up and no longer needs his toys. Toy Story 4 continues with Woody being completely unable to move on from Andy, to the point that he ultimately chooses to stop being a child’s plaything, having accepted that he will never love another child nor will he ever receive love from another child like Andy ever again for the rest of his long life.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Green Mile, Paul Edgecomb has learned in his many days in the retirement home to avoid getting close to anyone. Ever since his contact with Magical Negro John Coffey while serving as a prison guard, Paul has outlived all his family, friends and acquaintances ... except one: a tiny mouse likewise touched by Coffey.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • While it is never mentioned, unlike his Mayfly–December Romance with Jane, Thor will eventually outlive (most of) his fellow Avengers.
    • At the other end of the scale, Rocket quips that his lifespan is likely to be shorter than other species' in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
    • Played with in the case of Vision, who's simultaneously the youngest Avenger and potentially ageless, hence likely to outlive even Thor.
    • Namor, introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a mutant who was born with a much longer lifespan than humans. Born in the 1500’s, Namor had to bury his mother who died of old age while he was physically still a young child. By present day, he is physically a twenty-something year old man, and calls everyone “my child”. He confides in Shuri how he is weary of outliving so many loved ones over the centuries.
  • Star Wars: Wookiee lifespans are about 500 years, give or take. Chewbacca was 150 years old when he ran across Han in Solo. In the Star Wars Legends canon, this ends up Subverted as Chewie ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice to save Han's family, but played unfortunately straight in Disney canon. Other Legends cases of this include Zaalbar and his pal Mission (a "young" Wookiee of about 80 and a 14 year old Twi'lek), and Bowdarr and the Smuggler.

  • The andalite Ax from Animorphs once said that Andalites can live up to two hundred years. Because of this, he would probably far outlive his human friends. However, he seems to be killed at the end of the series.
    • It is particularly extreme with Tobias. He is permanently trapped in the body of a bird of prey and does not want to be human again. The real bird, whose body he took over, was already fully grown, so Tobias doesn't even have the bird's full lifespan.
    • Toby Hamee is likely to die before her friends because Hork-Bajir have a shorter life expectancy than humans.
  • Charlotte's Web: Wilbur ends up experiencing this with Charlotte, as she ends up passing away just as he's become a full-grown pig. The hatching of her babies provides a happy ending, but Fridge Horror sinks in when you realize that Wilbur will have to watch all his short-lived spider friends die, year after year after year.
  • Dragon Bones: Ward befriends Oreg, who is not only hundreds of years older than he is, but is also more or less immortal, due to being a kind of ghost, or Genius Loci.
  • M.C.A. Hogarth's The Dreamhealers books are about the friendship between Vasiht'h, a Glaseah who could live a couple centuries, and Jahir, an Eldritch capable of living over a millennium.
  • The Dresden Files. Due to wizards living for 300 to 400 years, pretty much every friendship Harry (or any wizard) has with a regular human will be this. It's explicitly cited by Karrin Murphy as a reason why she and Harry shouldn't be a couple: although she's actually a few years older than him, by ordinary human standards she's already approaching middle age, while he has centuries ahead of him.
  • In The Fifth Season, the Ageless Stone Eaters sometimes choose "beloved" humans as companions to watch over for the rest of their lives. Zig-zagged when it's revealed that these humans are those with the potential to be Reincarnated as new Stone Eaters, who, barring some memory loss and adaptation to their new bodies, have the original humans' minds.
  • In the novella of Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile, Red XIII laments that he shall outlive all his fellow teammates thanks to his species long lifespan. Vincent Valentine, a human, reassures him that he will still be around and will meet with him every year, due to a lab experiment that left him effectively immortal.
  • In InCryptid, the Price family's ghost aunts Rose and Mary are generations older than pretty much everyone except Alice and Thomas's generation (and both are older than Alice). Since they're dead, they don't appear to age, though so far all of the family members born after they died are still alive.
  • In I Sit Behind The Eyes, the two child protagonists Emily and Terry are very good friends and enjoy playing together in the park. What neither of them know is that Emily is really an amnesiac entity that is thousands of years old possessing the real Emily's mind and body.
  • In L. Frank Baum's The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, near the end of the book Claus has become a very elderly man and his immortal friends, family and allies were about to face the cost of having adopted a mortal into their circle. It was voted to grant Claus the cloak of immortality, so he continued to give gifts to children to this day.
  • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy the kandra TenSoon does not age, is virtually unkillable, and can expect to live several millennia at least. He forms a very strong bond with the human Vin, who can expect to live a normal human lifespan. This being a Crapsack World, she makes a Heroic Sacrifice to avert the end of the world in her early twenties.. However, one of his human friends survives: Sazed, who becomes the Deity of Human Origin Harmony.
  • The Naked Sun: Humans from Earth have a normal lifespan, while those from "spacer" worlds live for centuries. After they form a brief but strong friendship, Gladia the spacer is quite distraught to be reminded that in forty years, Elijah will be dead while she'll be nigh-unchanged.
  • In Peter Pan, Peter and Tinker Bell's friendship eventually ends this way. Fairies only live a short time, and by the time Wendy visits Neverland again a year after the book's main storyline, Tink has died. Adaptations rarely have the heart to kill off such a beloved character, though, and usually keep her alive and well to the end. We also see a variant with Peter and Wendy, as the former stays a boy forever, but the latter eventually grows up and can't go back to Neverland anymore.
  • In Safehold, Nimune/Merlin is in a robot body with potential life in the thousands of years, she/he's injected his/her friends with nanites that will give them perfect immunity to infectious illnesses and cancer, but doesn't dare give them life extension treatments because their very public life makes it impossible to do so without it being noticed.
  • Brain-brawn partnerships in The Ship Who... are, at their best, close long-term relationships between the Sapient Ship and their Handy Helper, often with some degree of a pseudoromantic aspect, that invariably have an expiration date. Brawns, as normal humans, retire after seventy-five years of service if they're lucky while Long-Lived "brains" remain in service for centuries if not killed. Sometimes it tips into a Mayfly–December Romance instead but this is seen as undesirable as they Can't Have Sex, Ever.
    • Simeon's previous brawn retires just before The City Who Fought, leaving him bad-tempered and antagonistic towards Channa Hap.
  • Several people in The Shadowhunter Chronicles have this problem. For this reason, most warlocks and vampires only have other immortals as friends, since don't want to see their friends die in old age while staying young themselves. Some specific cases:
    • Simon Lewis worried about this after he got turned into a vampire, since all of his friends (and family) were either Shadowhunters or humans. It was something that bothered him a lot. However, at the end of The Mortal Instruments he was transformed back into a human, and at the end of ''Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy he became a Shadowhunter.
    • At the end of ''The Infernal Devices Jem Carstairs became an immortal silent brother. This meant that he would outlive his parabatai and most of his other friends.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Immortal Coil dealt with this in connection with Data. Taking place not long after First Contact, the plotline includes Data's emotional realization of what he's always known intellectually — he will almost certainly outlive all of his friends on the Enterprise. And then another set, and another. The actual plot of the book assuaged these fears by introducing a league of artificially created organisms, to which Data could retire whenever he wants. And then Nemesis happened...note 
  • Temeraire: Dragons become lifelong companions with their riders, but are capable of far outliving them. The oldest ones often bond with successive generations of the same family, so Laurence is encouraged to hurry up and have a child so the transition will be easier for Temeraire when he dies.
  • The Tolkienverse:
    • Gandalf is Really 700 Years Old. His friends among the hobbits (Bilbo and Frodo) and humans (Aragorn) are long lived as mortals go; hobbits regularly live past 100 and Aragorn is of the long-lived royal line of Numenor, with some elvish ancestry; he's still in the prime of his life at 87. However, hobbits rarely make it past 120 and Aragorn himself died of old age at 208. Even after departing to the Undying Lands, the Valar have no power to grant the Ringbearers immortality, and they would eventually expire. Despite the name Undying Lands, this is a common misunderstanding that Tolkien himself cleared up in his Letters.
    • In The Lord of the Rings, Legolas (an immortal elf) and Gimli (a dwarf, who may live for a few centuries but is still ultimately mortal) become best friends. Even after traveling ("it is said") with Legolas to the Undying Lands, like with the Hobbits, the Valar have no power to grant Gimli immortality and he eventually must die as well.
    • The Silmarillion: The Noldorin prince Finrod Felagund forges a friendship with Bëor, leader of the first group of humans to arrive in Beleriand. Bëor becomes Finrod's vassal and they are close friends for the rest of his life. Finrod was present at Bëor's deathbed, and it was the first time he ever witnessed anyone die without being wounded physically or spiritually. Generations later Finrod befriended Andreth, a human poet and loremaster; she and Finrod have a discussion on the metaphysical differences between Elves and Men, which is recorded as "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth", or "The Debate of Finrod and Andreth", in Morgoth's Ring.
  • Time Enough for Love: Lazarus, the immortal, married his adopted daughter Dora Brandon whom he has raised since childhood, and is quite distraught when she dies after "only" 70 or 80-odd years, and remains celibate for 100 years after that before he finally decides to get on with living.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: The 200-year-old vampire Lestat strikes up an Odd Friendship with David Talbot, the elderly leader of the Talamasca Occult Detective order, not least because he likes having someone to talk to who knows about the Masquerade.

    Live Action TV 
  • A brutal variant of this can be found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Slayers are discouraged from having friends because they usually have a short life due to their constant struggle against demons. It's unusual for a slayer to survive her teenage years at all.
    • Angel is an immortal vampire who will survive his human friends far beyond Spike, who is also a vampire. Doyle, Cordelia, and Whistler were half-demons and probably could have been by his side for a long time, but were killed in the course of the plot.
  • The half-witch Sabrina Spellman from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is as longlived as any pure witch. However, this does not apply to her human friends.
  • Doctor Who.
    • The Doctor is very aware of the fact that they will outlive all their non-Gallifreyan companions, therefore this applies to any companion for whom this trope's romantic variant does not apply. This is the main reason they tend not to visit former companions after they leave the TARDIS - the alternative is just too painful.
    • Captain Jack Harkness has this problem as well. He outlives all his friends and his Torchwood coworkers have a habit of dying young anyways. In one of the Torchwood tie-in novels, there's a flashback to the 1960s where he admits he doesn't so much have friends as acquaintances and what feels like years of comradeship to them feels like mere months to him. Although on a slightly less depressing note, the character he was talking to had seen Jack's future and assures him that the 21st-century team the series focuses on are truly his friends.
  • Forever:
    • Henry and Abe, the former adopting the latter as a healthy infant survivor of a concentration camp. Abe points this trope out when Henry prepares to move away to Europe to avoid and outlive the person who knows his secret. Henry could outlive the person, but Abe couldn't.
    • All of Henry's friendships are this, by definition. Lucas, Jo, Hanson, everyone we root for him to open up to and befriend will move on while he remains. According to Lucas in the pilot, Henry didn't have any friends in the three years they'd worked together, and Abe said Henry hadn't let anyone get close to him since Abigail; this is the reason.
  • Duncan MacLeod and Joe Dawson in Highlander. Joe took an oath as a Watcher to never interfere, but it quickly got tossed aside. Joe is also friends with Methos and Amanda as well. He even left the Watchers to maintain his friendship with Duncan but Duncan said he wanted the immortals' lives recorded by people like Joe, people with honor.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Deconstructs the case of Elrond and Durin IV. Elrond is Really 700 Years Old, while Durin has the life span of an Dwarf. Because he is this old, Elrond didn't realize how valuable the time is for mortals and is genuinely baffled at Durin being so upset for his twenty years absence. As Durin points out, "twenty years might be the blink of an eye to an Elf, but [he've] lived an entire life in that time", in which he got married and had children.
  • The Mandalorian encounters and takes in the Child Grogu, an infant of Yoda’s mysterious species, but his age is not a mystery, as he is explicitly confirmed to be fifty years old despite still being physically and mentally a baby. Yoda himself lived to be 900 years old, meaning that Grogu will outlive any caretaker who isn’t his own kind. Thus, Mando goes on a quest to reunite Grogu with his own kind, since it will potentially take centuries for Grogu to come of age and be able to fend for himself.
    • No one is more cognizant of this dilemma than Luke Skywalker himself, who trains him during The Book of Boba Fett. As Grogu’s lingering love for Mando is complicating his ability to focus on his Jedi training, Luke decides to let Grogu decide whether to return to Mando or commit to the Jedi and potentially never see Mando again. Luke somberly reminds Grogu that the latter is because his long lifespan means he will inevitably outlive Mando. In the end, the love between Mando and Grogu wins out as the latter quits his Jedi training so he can live with his adopted father, however long it may last.
  • Moonlight. Played With by Mick and his dog. Every time his dog dies, he gets a new dog of the same breed and gives them the same name and a number. He's up to the 30s by the time of the series.
  • Played With in New Amsterdam (2008), where an immortal (but looks early 30s) man is great friends with and gets advice from a grizzled old black bartender, who it turns out is his son from a relationship he had in the 1930s.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock and his crewmates have a (possibly) downplayed version. At two hundred years old, a Vulcan might still have a number of years left. Humans can live a few decades past one hundred (as demonstrated in Scotty and McCoy's appearances in Next Generation), but it's clearly old for them, meaning Spock is doomed to outlive all his human friends.
    • When the head of Commander Data (in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow") is found among 20th-century relics on Earth, the crew attempt to comfort him about his destruction. Rather than being morose about this, Data is delighted that he will have a "death," as his expected longevity means that so many of his friends in Starfleet will have lived and died that he will be unable to remember them all properly; whereas having only a limited few close friends means that Data can cherish them much more dearly. See Literature.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, Kes and the rest of the crew. Her species, the Ocampa, only live about 9 years, in contrast to longer-lived species like humans, Vulcans, and Talaxians.
  • Ultra Series: Considering that Ultras live 100,000 years (or more!), and their love for Earth, this is a sad reality for many Ultras.
    • Ultraman Mebius: In episode 2 of the Trisquad Voice Drama series, you hear about how Mebius struggled with the reality that he would outlive all of his human friends. Mebius overcame it thanks to a gift from his friends, and knowing he will always hold their memories in his heart.

  • Puppet: Leaves and Maple were childhood friends before Leaves' death. After he is brought to life in the form of a wooden puppet, they continue being good friends despite Maple being now in his thirties and Leaves being now an immortal 12-year-old.

  • The song "Puff the Magic Dragon" describes a Mayfly December friendship between the dragon and his best friend in its final verse. It breaks the dragon's heart (as well as its listeners'). The issue is that he and all his adventures 'make way for other toys'.
    "A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys."

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is mentioned to be a serious issue for dwarf-human friendships in most versions of Dungeons & Dragons. A common dwarf saying is "The difference between an acquaintance and a friend is a hundred years". As such, by the time a dwarf becomes comfortable with a human, the human is usually in their twilight years. The most stable dwarf-human friendships are usually between a human and a dwarf who was close to their parents or grandparents.
  • Pathfinder: Discussed in the Elves of Golarion supplement. Elves are so Long-Lived they're considered young adults at a time when most other humanoids have probably died of old age already. As a consequence, elves raised among humans commonly outlive everyone they know as a child and become traumatized by it, becoming known as the "Forlorn".

    Video Games 
  • The café regulars in Cafe Enchante include a demon king, a headless knight, a fallen angel and a flame-wielding werewolf, all who could easily live for hundreds of years (if they hadn't already). While some of them are aware of the differences in lifespans between them and humans, they nevertheless still cherish Kotone's grandfather and their friendship with him, fondly reminiscing of him to Kotone even after he had passed away.
  • Implied in Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfy, when Hyde mentions an old friend from Lagos who used to make him Zobo. Lua and Baileys take notice when he says that she was a good friend.
    Hyde: When you've got a vampire's lifespan, friends come and go.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Unlike the rest of the party, Fran is a viera, and her lifespan is three times that of a hume's. Her age is never given (and she refuses to give it when Vaan asks her). She had left Golmore Jungle fifty years before the events of the game - and before any of the other player characters were born. She is friends with Balthier, a hume who is only 22 years old. Though her age is not given, she could very well outlive the rest of the party.
  • Fire Emblem often has this with the playable manaketes (dragons taking humanoid form to survive).
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. The manaketes Gotoh, Xane, Bantu, and Tiki all befriend Marth. Needless to say, they all outlive him—the first three even outlived Marth's ancestor Anri. In a conversation with Xane, he mentions this as a reason why he has trouble connecting with humans.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. Half-manaketes Ninian and Nils will outlive and never see their human friends again if they go through the Dragon's gate. If Ninian stays on Elibe to be with Eliwood, though, it's inverted as due to the world's atmosphere, all her human friends outlive her.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. In the Laguz tribes (animal shapeshifters), all three tribes outlive humans, as do the laguz/human hybrids.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening. In Tiki's support with Nah (a half-manakete), Tiki laments that this is a "curse" of their race, saying Manaketes that care for the human race are destined to suffer because they always outlive them.
  • Genshin Impact has numerous examples of this trope, with its cast of mortals and immortals.
    • The Akitsu Kimodameshi event centers around the ancient story of a wandering Samurai that stumbled into a hidden Youkai festival and befriended a prominent warrior. The two would agree to meet every 10 years, sparring and playing festival games together. But after a war forced them to put off their reunion for another decade, the Youkai Lord was shocked to see that the samurai had grown old and could no longer honor their promise. This tragic story is paralled to the modern Arataki Gang, a group of humans led by a rather clueless Oni that likely does not realize the differences in their lifespans.
    • Deconstructed in the backstory of the villain, Scaramouche. In the past, he adopted an orphaned child and the two began to live together as family. The child was terminally ill from a curse plaguing the region, and would eventually die from it. As an immortal puppet, Scaramouche had almost no understanding of human frailty or death, and could not make peace with this sudden loss. Viewing it as the "betrayal" of their promise to stay together forever, he was driven mad and came to view humans as untrusty and ultimately worthless beings.
  • Halo: Master Chief, a Spartan supersoldier, is paired with an AI named Cortana, and the two grow to become inseparable. However, their friendship contains a dark undertone: human-made "Smart" AIs live for only seven years before they become rampant, meaning Cortana will have to be killed by then before she goes insane, or that her insanity will eventually destroy her. By the time of Halo 4 Cortana has surpassed her lifespan but is rapidly deteriorating, and Master Chief struggles to get to Earth in hopes of her creator formulating a cure. He fails and Cortana dies, though not before saving John's own life in the process. Or at least it appeared that way; Halo 5: Guardians reveals that she was backed up by the Forerunner ship's computer when she inserted herself into the hard light projectors. It cured her of her Rampancy, but also seems to be influencing her sanity in a negative way.
  • Lost Odyssey, which is all about immortality, focuses on the protagonist living through the lives of his friends.
  • Hometown Story has a two century old witch and other magical creatures that are either even more Long-Lived or immortal cohabitate with ordinary humans. All befriend the human Player Character, but some have pre-existing friendships with other villagers as well.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Link was Childhood Friends with several Zoras (exact lifespan not stated, but it's at least 200). They're quite surprised to see him alive a century after his presumed death.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Any friendship between an asari or krogan with someone from a shorter-lived species.
    • A variation (Mayfly December Family) occurs in Mass Effect 2. At one point, you can overhear a conversation between a Salarian tourist and his Asari stepdaughter where he frets about she and her mother outliving him by several centuries (because Asari live for up to 1,000 years whereas Salarians are lucky if they make it to 40). This is an extremely common issue for the asari, especially because mating with other species is considered ideal for them, and yet most other species have much shorter lifespans.
    • Even among Shepard's crew, Liara is acutely aware that she'll outlive all of her friends, except possibly Wrex and EDI, by around 850 years.
    • However, it's hinted that asari prefer this. One asari is reluctant to get into a relationship with a krogan because they're just as long-lived as the asari.
      Asari: I mean, it's a major commitment! It's not like with a human where you just stick it out for century... er, sorry.
  • The main relationship in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a platonic Mayfly-December love between two best friends, one a normal man approaching middle age, and one a clone with rapidly-accelerated ageing which has left him physically seventy while being only about forty-three years old.
  • Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin: The Player Character is the grandchild of Red, a highly-regarded Rider who was the sole human to be allowed entry to the Wyverian Hidden Elf Village of Rutoh. Deuteragonist Ena was friends with him, and yet appears barely older than the 14-year old protagonist; another Wyverian, Alwin, looks perhaps a few years older than that, yet knew Red for his entire life. The latter muses that the people of his village always believed that friendship between humans and Wyverians was doomed to fail, as the humans would inevitably grow distant as they grew more physically mature, but Red proved them wrong and remained close even into his old age.
  • Mother 3: Alec, the grandfather of Lucas and Claus, is good friends with Ionia, a Magypsy. Magypsies live for millennia, while Alec is just a normal human being likely in his seventies.
  • Pokémon:
    • Though it doesn't happen to the protagonists, most games have graveyards that feature trainers whose Pokemon have passed on. It's implied that several types of Pokemon have shorter life expectancies than humans, though whether they're equivalent to their animal counterparts or not is never explained.
    • This is implied to happen to some Pokemon themselves. For example, Gothitelle's Pokedex entry for Pokemon Black 2 state that they cry when they learn from the stars their trainers' lifespans.
  • This is strongly hinted at in Tales of Symphonia, where the half-elf Genis Sage expresses sadness that he will greatly outlive his human True Companions.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Sakuya explicitly refuses to become immortal and serve Remilia forever when given the opportunity, although promises to serve her until death.
    • Yukari's friendship with Yuyuko was almost this, with Yukari being absurdly old even back then and Yuyuko being human. However, after Yuyuko died, had her body used to seal a youkai tree (most likely by Yukari), and became the ghost princess of the netherworld, they have continued their friendship for almost a millenium so far.
    • Mokou will outlive everyone but her rival Kaguya, including Keine, one of her extremely few close friends, resulting in her basically living as a hermit to avoid relationships. Kaguya herself isn't bothered by this though, both being far more self-centered and living with Eirin, who is ancient even by Gensoukyou standards.
  • Wild ARMs 2
    • Marivel Armitage, who is an immortal vampire and the Last of Her Kind, has this kind of friendship with the main characters. She helps work on the group's tech early on in the game, and it's possible to have her join your party late in the second half of the game's story, although she's hesitant to do so as she's afraid of being too attached to people.
    • In a Cut Scene it's shown that Marivel's also developed this kind of friendship with Tony offscreen. Tony is a kid living in Ashley's village. He looks up to her, and implies he wants to become a vampire like her so she won't be alone.

  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, the folk legends Coyote, Ysengrin, and Renard are centuries-old ageless demigods on friendly terms with a group of teenagers. Jones forms lifelong friendships with select human companions and has done so for the entire history of the human species, since she is an immortal being as old as Planet Earth.
  • Martin from Ignition Zero is half-faerie. He is immortal but most of his friends are humans. He notes that he will outlive everyone and he isn't fond of the idea.
  • Discussed in a Meadowhawk strip about dragon lifespans. Two friends, Abraham Pickett (human) and Daniel "the gentle giant" Bloodthorn (dragon), were both born in 1902; when Abe died in 1994 Daniel (who hadn't even reached his full size yet) swore never to befriend another human because the pain of losing them was too great.
  • Half of the main cast of The Order of the Stick are humans in their 20s. Traveling with them are the 55-year-old dwarf Durkon and 130-something elf Vaarsuvius, who can expect to live for another 200 and 400 years respectively.
  • Vampire Girl. Levana explains this to Laura as part of her reason for not wanting to be a vampire, on the grounds that Levana will always outlive anyone she may befriend.
  • The Villainous Friendship between the Annihilator and Sircea the Platinum Priestess in The Young Protectors is implied to be this. Given her occasional references to The Time of Myths before the Walls of reality separated Earth from Hell, her name's resemblance to the witch Circe from Greek legend is probably a clue.

    Web Original 
  • Toki [1] and Doki, [2], erins, will most certainly outlive any friends or adopted children, as erins tend to live for at least two or three millenia, as is pointed out in one Madgie, what did you do? story. However, they will enjoy generations of descendants.
  • The Life of Death is about the friendship between Death and a deer doe. As expected, the deer eventually dies after being given a lethal Final First Hug by Death.

    Web Videos 
  • On the Dream SMP, Charlie is a human slime who's been alive for a very, very long time. He develops a close friendship with Quackity, a mortal with only two lives left at the time.
    Quackity: Look at me, How long do you think it'll take for me to turn to dust?
    Charlie: I... I'll make sure you never turn to dust, Quackity from Las Nevadas!

    Western Animation 
  • In the first two seasons of The Dragon Prince it looked as if Callum and Rayla would face it because they are friends, but elves live much longer than humans. During the third season, it turns into a Mayfly–December Romance. Of course, both are in the middle of a dangerous adventure, in which any number of perils could potentially kill one or both of them long before old age.
  • Bender, the Token Robot of Futurama's core group of True Companions, has a potential lifespan of up to a billion years, while the most naturally Long-Lived human in the setting is still under 200 years old. Being Bender, he's way more bothered by the fact that a non-transferrable Heart Drive makes him technically as mortal as his friends, meaning that, at best, he'll only outlive them by an unthinkable number of years, not infinite years.
  • In Harvey Beaks, young troublemaker Fee becomes friends with Cool Old Guy Blister, who lives in a retirement home. His mortality is brought up in "Later, Dingus" where Fee is told the news of Blister's death, but Fee believes Blister is pulling a massive prank which he recently mentioned he wanted to do.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • While it's only Fanon that Princess Celestia is immortal, she has been alive for a thousand years without any sign of wear. Given the word from the creators that "Twilight will not outlive her friends", this means that Celestia will outlive her faithful student. Not to mention Twilight is not Celestia's first personal student...
    • In the comics most of the ponies Celestia explicitly identifies as 'friends' are very elderly, one clearly approaching the end of her life.
    • Spike is younger than Twilight and the others, but it's mentioned in "Dragonshy" that dragons can sleep for a hundred years at a time.
    • Fluttershy and Discord. Her friendship was the key to his Heel–Face Turn, but he's an implied-to-be immortal god of chaos, and she's a decidedly mortal pony.
  • In the Red Planet miniseries based on the novel Red Planet, Jim's friend Willis turns out to be a larva of the native Martians. Near the end of the minseries, Willis goes into the hibernation phase of its lifecycle between larva and adult and sadly explains to Jim that he will not live to see Willis wake up since human lifespans are too short. The final scene of the miniseries nonetheless ends on a happy note, with a grown up Willis telling Jim's grandchild stories about Jim.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Gems are The Ageless, with even Amethyst, who's the youngest besides Steven, being a good five thousand years old. Amethyst has actually befriended a couple of humans (Greg and Vidalia), but it's striking to compare them to old photos and see how much they've changed and aged while Amethyst has only got a clothing update.
    • Steven himself gets worried that this might happen to him after realising that he hasn't physically aged for years, though the subject of how long his lifespan could actually be hasn't been explored in much detail. Still, he's worried that every human he knows will age while he doesn't.
  • ThunderCats (2011): The protagonists come across a group of plant people named the Petalars, which have a lifespan of a day. Lion-O in particular becomes friends with one petalar called Emrick, who goes from a curious child to an Eager Squire to a level-headed warrior to a wise old man all in the span of said day, and while for the Petalars, the ThunderCats are lifelong friends who are with them in their intergenerational Exodus, for the ThunderCats, it's a tragically short friendship.
  • There's a vast difference between the average projected lifespan of a Cybertronian in Transformers (they can potentially live to be billions of years old) and that of human beings. This doesn't stop the Autobots from befriending them and being willing to risk their lives to protect the relatively short-lived and fragile humans.
  • Implied in Wander over Yonder between Wander and Sylvia. The episode "The Waste of Time" shows that Wander has been alive for over a thousand years with no sign of aging, and although he and Sylvia are later depicted growing old together over a period of 50 years, writer Frank Angones indicated that Wander was wearing a fake gray beard to make Sylvia feel better. This also likely extends to every other character Wander has befriended throughout the show, with the only known (probable) exception being his fellow millenarian Jeff, formerly known as Major Threat.

    Real Life 
  • Humans and their pets. Most human beings have longer lifespans than dogs and cats, so their pets will probably die before they do. This is especially sad in cases where the owner is faced with the decision of ending a sick old animal's suffering when nothing else can be done.
    • Averted with ravens and large parrots, which have the same lifespan as humans, sometimes even a bit more. It's more common for these birds to outlive their masters than the other way round, since humans tend to grow them from chick age while themselves being adult.
    • Also averted with turtles and tortoises, who can live to be far older than humans. Unless the owner is a child — in which case it's unlikely they'll keep the pet for its entire natural lifespan anyway — such owners have to consider what might happen if their beloved pet were to outlive them.
    • Another aversion. Although goldfish have a reputation for being very short-lived pets, a well-cared for carp in a pond can be one of the longest lived animals in the world.
  • Exaggerated with This guy, who befriended a butterfly. It died 5 days after he took it home, in the makeshift house he made her.
  • It happens in real life when a person lives to be very old, even over a hundred years, but their friends do not. They often talk about all of their friends being dead for a long time. Of course, nobody can know beforehand whether they will be one of the long-lived people.


Video Example(s):


Kanna and Saikawa

Just because Kanna will outlive Saikawa by thousands (if not millions) of years, doesn't mean they're not best friends.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MayflyDecemberFriendship

Media sources: