Characters assume another character's age, often based on common assumptions of traits that character has, or there can be other reasons.
A common one is an aunt. In many cultures aunts are thought of as old (and can even be offensive in Japan), so when the aunt turns out to be only a few years older than the niece/nephew, it can be quite a surprise.
- The Grape Nuts cereal television ad: "Mrs. Burke, I thought you were Dale!"
- Later followed by the Palmolive "Which hands belong to the daughter?"
- One Oil of Olay commercial had a stage psychic guess a woman's age, and undershoot because she was using the product. She plays along, and says the psychic was correct.
- In Dennou Coil Haraken's aunt, who is referred to offhand as being the commander of the Satchiis, is assumed by the main characters to be at the very least middle-aged. When she finally appears, it turns out that she's actually on the nearer side of twenty.
- This is actually the Berserk Button of Maria from Hayate the Combat Butler. She continually states that she's 'only 17' while everyone around her assumes she's older because of the aura she puts up, and being Nagi's Cool Big Sis/Mother figure.
- It's a running gag in the Baccano! light novels that, despite nearly half the cast being immortal, only Firo (already a bit young-looking before immortality) has to deal with the annoyances of not looking his age, such as getting carded at age ninety, being detained for claiming he was seventy on his passport, and constantly being called 'babyface.'
- The protagonist of the first story in Himitsu Kichi mistakes a sixth grader for a college aged student. In turn he mistakes her for a kid his age when she's 16 years old.
- In Lucky Star, Miyuki's mother looks so youthful and cute that she's actually often mistaken for her older sister rather than her mother.
- In the Fantastic Four, the Thing frequently mentioned his 'Aunt Petunia', with the implication that she was an old woman. When she finally appeared in the comic during John Byrne's run, Petunia (she prefers 'Penny') was revealed to be his uncle's second wife and an attractive woman about the Thing's own age.
- A flashback had a then-teenage Batgirl meeting Green Arrow for the first time. He casually flirts with her and cradles her. Barbara begins laughing and says his cologne smells like her father, which causes a squicked Oliver to back off. In hindsight Barbara says her costume made her look at least twenty.
- In the Splatoon fic Her Fractured Spirit, Callie is older than Marie. Everyone thinks it's the other way around because Marie is so mature and aloof while Callie is so free-spirited and exuberant.
- In Anchors Aweigh, two Navy sailors take a runaway kid back to his home, where he lives with his aunt. They think she must be old, and are surprised that she is about their age.
- Another younger than expected aunt in A Few Good Men.
- In the The Baby-Sitters Club movie, the parent of one of Stacey's baby-sitting charges warns her in advance that her "little cousin" from abroad will be home when she comes by to baby-sit. She brings with her a little American flag to give him, expecting a young child. Instead, he's an extremely attractive 18 year old.
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Willie Scott dresses up beautifully for the dinner at Pankot Palace in hopes to impress the wealthy Maharajah. She's chagrined when he's revealed to be a kid around the same age as Short Round.
- In Mary Renault's The Last of the Wine, the main character's lover has a spazz attack when he realizes that the woman the main character has been calling "Mom" for the whole book is a stepmother and about the older lover's age.
- Early in Aunt Dimity: Detective, Lilian Bunting asks Lori to entertain her nephew "Nicky" while she and her husband attend Prunella Hooper's inquest. Lori expects to receive a visit from a small boy, and is surprised when thirty-something Nicholas Fox introduces himself.
- In the prequel Tales of Dunk and Egg novella "The Sworn Sword", Dunk is sent to meet Lady Rohanne Webber, who he knows to be widowed multiple times (and rumored to have murdered her husbands) and who has a terrible reputation for cruelty. As a prank, Dunk is introduced to one of Lady Webber's attendants and is told that she is Lady Webber, and he believes it, because the elderly and unpleasant looking woman jibes with his assumptions about what Lady Webber would look like. He then learns that a pretty young redheaded woman practicing archery nearby is Lady Webber, and that she is not nearly as bad as her reputation suggests.
- It's never explicitly stated what Niles expected in Frasier, but he is clearly surprised the first time he meets Daphne, mentioning that Frasier told him she was English and um, well... He most likely assumed she was a stuffy older lady.
Niles: You're Daphne?
- In an episode of ER an injured toddler comes in and shouts that Uncle Charlie hurt him. Someone asks if they should call Social Services only for someone else to point at another, unharmed but still grouchy, toddler, and say "That's Uncle Charlie".
- In an episode of United States of Tara, Kate's boyfriend is about to meet Kate's family, and Kate had previously mentioned that she had a younger brother. Kate's boyfriend buys a toy train, expecting that he'll be quite young, except Marshall (Kate's brother) is in his teens, causing an awkward interaction.
- In an episode of Firefly, Mal invokes this trope to evade I Never Said It Was Poison, when asked whether he has seen fugitives, "a brother and sister", by pretending to assume that the pair in question were children, when he actually knows exactly who and where they are.
- Charlie in NUMB3RS was once invited to a bed and breakfast in Santa Monica after publishing his first paper. Unfortunately, he was fourteen at the time and he had to break it off to a very embarrassed female professor in Berkley.
- Doctor Who: It's a Running Gag that the 12th Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi) constantly insists that Clara (played by Jenna Coleman) looks older than him, despite the fact that Capaldi is twice the age of Coleman, and as a Time Lord the Doctor is well over a hundred times older than Clara. A fan theory is that since Clara jumped into the Doctor's timestream to save him from an enemy that was attacking him at every moment of his life, the Doctor instinctively sees her as the same age as himself.
- Our Miss Brooks:
- In "Mr. Boynton's Parents", Mr. Boynton's Parents mistake a housecleaning Miss Brooks for old Mrs. Davis.
- In "Former Student Visits", Miss Brooks is desperate to appear young. She tries to hide the fact that she's already been teaching high school for several years. Unfortunately for her, the "former student" visiting had been in her very first class. He's since graduated from medical school and become a doctor!
- In Pokémon Sun and Moon, when Hau first meets Lusamine, who runs the Aether Foundation, Hau assumes she is a Teen Genius and admires that she can achieve so much in such a short time. Lusamine then points out that she's actually well over 40 years old, and she only looks so young because she knows the right things to wear.
- One of the races in Final Fantasy XIV is the Padjal, Horned Humanoids gifted with eternal youth. During the Dark Knight story, Sidurgu mistakes E-Sumi-Yan for a boy, but the Conjurer corrects the "young man" that he is several times his age. Indeed, Brother E-Sumi-Yan, according to Encyclopedia Eorzea is over two hundred years old.
- In Tower of God this happens commonly since the Shinsoo atmosphere slows down and sommetimes even stops aging. This leads to cases of Ship Leesoo being in his late twenties and Yeon and Hatsu in their late teens whereas Androssi is about 300 years old and her "niece" Anak is even older.
- A Running Gag in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, as one of the few things that seems to really aggravate Hanna is when people mistake him for a teenager. ("I'm 24.") He certain looks young, but it's never made clear if that has a supernatural basis or if he's just naturally scrawny.
- Beloved starts with the protagonist finding out she slept with a sixteen year old girl she met at a bar.
- In True Villains, Sebastian assumes that the Lady of Black Magic Elia is in her mid-twenties like him, and is flabbergasted to hear that she's actually in her eighties — a perk of being a Necromancer who can steal a young woman's skin whenever she wants to restore her youth. It doesn't diminish his interest in her.
- In Alvin and the Chipmunks, Alvin hears about having an oldest fan, and thinks she's just in her twenties, while she is actually a senior citizen.