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Not Allowed to Grow Old

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Ah, the Time Skip. Some fans' favorite moment of the series. Everyone is stronger, smarter and more attractive. The babies are kids, the kids are teens, the teens are adults and the adults, still adults.

This is somewhat Truth in Television; if only a few years have gone by, the difference between how much an adult changes and how much an adolescent does can be drastic. There's a much more visible difference aging from 10 to 15 than there is aging from 35 to 40.

However, this gets particularly noticeable when after reaching a certain age, adults in a series stop showing signs of aging at all. No wrinkles, no gray hairs, no change in build, and often no costume changes or new hairstyles, either.

See also Absurdly Youthful Mother and Hollywood Old.

Not to Be Confused with Not Allowed to Grow Up. May overlap with Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome and Perma-Shave for adult, male characters who are clean-shaven.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • CLANNAD: None of the characters seems to age after the Time Skip. Nagisa's mother still looks as young as she was back when she was able to pass as a high-school girlnote .
  • In the Distant Finale of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Leeron is indistinguishable from when he was first shown 27 years earlier, even when the other older characters during are already geezers and grandmas.
  • Dragon Ball has both averted this trope and played it straight:
    • The aging of characters between the Daimao and 23rd Tournament Arcs was a big deal at the time: Toriyama had to fight hard to age up main character Goku alongside Krillin, as part of the appeal was that they were kids. Outside of this, human characters like Krillin, Chi-chi and Bulma visibly get older over time, with Bulma in particular managing to dress well no matter her age. The final 10 year timeskip at the end of the manga aged up practically every character.
    • On the flipside, many characters like Yamcha, Tenshinhan, Chiaotzu, Puar, Bulma's mother and Piccolo don't visibly change at all, despite having a difference of 40 years between the start and end of the series. This is justified with the Saiyans, who do grow old but stay in their fighting prime for far longer than humans do.
    • Special mention goes to Trunks and Goten in Dragon Ball Super: they appeared as kids when introduced in the Boo Arc, but in Super they look exactly the same despite it taking place between 4-9 years after Boo (the latter of which would be only one year before "End of Z", where they look like teenagers).
  • In Boruto, many adult characters do not look very different from what they looked like in Naruto Shippuden. The events of Boruto happen 15 or 16 years after the end of Shippuden (not counting the epilogue).
  • Lindy, Shiro, and Momoko from Lyrical Nanoha were already in their 30s when they're introduced in the first season, yet all three of them still look exactly the same in their appearances during StrikerS and ViVid (set 10 and 14 years later respectively). Lindy can be forgiven, since she is from a technologically and magically advanced culture that would presumably have the ability to slow down aging, but Momoko and Shiro have no excuse.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted and Played for Laughs in Asterix: When there were flashbacks to Asterix's birth or childhood years, the village's oldest resident Geriatrix appeared unchanged.
  • The defining example of this in American comics are the characters of DC and Marvel. Dick Grayson went from childhood to (in modern comics) his mid-20s, yet Bruce Wayne hasn't aged a day. (And Bruce, unlike his pal Clark, doesn't have superpowers as an excuse/Hand Wave.) The same goes for Dick's fellow Titans and the DCU's other younger characters versus their older Justice League counterparts.

    Fan Works 
  • In Pokémon Ralphie, Red and Bill don't look like they've aged a day over the 20 years since Red's journey in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. Meanwhile, Red's Unknown Rival Ralphie, once a Bug Catcher Red defeated handily who's apparently younger than him (Red is in turn younger than Bill) is balding and overweight after 20 years. This is because the series uses sprites based on those from the original game.
  • In SilfofinaDragon's Sengoku Basara fanfics, while Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura's two children Yuki and Masa grow from infants to 20 years of age, the rest of the SB cast remain their appearance in spite of years passing. Though it may be ironically thanks to Kyogoku Maria casting a non-aging spell that not only affects her but also half of Japan.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pretty much ANYBODY in Cars doesn't show a single sign of aging. Forty years in between the time of Radiator Springs' heyday and the time it vanished from the map, not one of the residents ever seem to age, although Mater was originally baby blue before he became rusted, but is still the same. Lightning McQueen himself also shows no signs of aging across the whole franchise, not even by 3 when he is teased of being old despite looking the same as he did when he was a rookie. Even Doc Hudson looks the same as he did back when he used to race for the Piston Cup in the '50s.
  • Disney's Frozen: By the end of the prologue (just before their deaths) Elsa and Anna's parents still look like they're in their early twenties, despite their daughters now being 18 and 15. The mother in particular just looks like a taller, brunette version of her teenage daughters.
  • The Lion King has a few examples. Most are justified because lions age differently from the other animals in the film.
    • Most noticeable in the timeskip sequence when Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa are walking across the log, Simba goes from lion cub to adolescent to adult. Timon and Pumbaa don't change at all. It takes around 2-5 years for a lion's mane to grow. Nor do they visibly age at all from Kiara's birth to her adulthood in the sequel.
    • The most triumphant example is probably Zazu, who presumably had been employed by Mufasa for sometime before the series began (and in earlier script drafts and the stage musical, was confirmed to have been babysitter for Mufasa himself), but from Simba's presentation ceremony as a cub at the start of the 1st film, to his full-grown daughter finding a mate and inheriting the kingdom at the end of the 2nd. He hasn't aged a day. However, the lifespan of a wild lion is about 10 years, where wild hornibills can live for up to 45 years. He probably still has at least one or two more generations left in him before he turns gray.
    • On the other hand, Simba looks pretty much the same from Hakuna Matata (where he would be about age 5) to the finale of The Lion King II a full generation later (about age 10 and should be getting old or at least significantly weaker than Kovu in his prime).
    • Averted for Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King (2019) - they are actually shown to be older after the time skip (Pumbaa has some gray hairs, etc.)
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Ariel, Eric, Grimsby and other human characters don't show any signs of aging between the 12-year Time Skip.
  • The Prince of Egypt: While the adult male characters are shown to noticeably age after the second time skip (Moses, Rameses, and Aaron especially), Miriam and Tzipphorah don't age at all.
  • Also happens in Sleeping Beauty: None of the characters who were adults during Aurora's baby shower look any older sixteen years later. This is possibly justified for Flora, Fauna, Merryweather, and Maleficent since they're fairies, but there's no excuse for King Stephen, his queen, or King Hubert.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel father has grown a few more wrinkles and grey hair since their daughter's disappearance eighteen years before, but her birth mother hasn't aged a day (apart from maybe a few tired lines under her eyes).note 
  • And Disney's Tarzan. Kerchak, Kala, and the other adult gorillas don't look or move any differently from when Tarzan was a baby, despite Tarzan looking to be in his early twenties by the time Jane arrives.
    • Even Sabor the leopard is shown to be still alive after roughly 20 years, and doesn't seem to have aged any more than the gorillas.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Leonardo Di Caprio was in his twenties playing Howard Hughes in The Aviator, but even when Howard is in his forties, he still looks like a man in his twenties.
  • In the film version of Mommie Dearest, Faye Dunaway refused to wear old age make-up for the latter scenes (even though other characters do). The film starts when Joan Crawford is vaguely in her thirties, and it should be said she was in her seventies when she died.
  • By the time of X-Men: Apocalypse, the forty or fifty something characters are played by actors in their thirties who had played them as twentysomethings in X-Men: First Class. The only one that has an in-universe justification is Jennifer Lawrence (also the youngest at twenty-five) as Raven, since she's a shapeshifter and can look as young or old as she pleases. This could be hand waved for the Mutants, who may age slower than humans. But Moira still looks like a young woman who apparently just has really good genes.
  • Back to the Future does this backwards. Doc Brown is a gray-haired man with Einstein Hair in the main timeline. In the timeline 30 years earlier... he looks exactly the same.
  • Alexander is downright confusing about this. Val Kilmer, who plays Philip of Macedon, is roughly the age he was when he was assassinated (44 versus 46), but he barely looks any different when Alexander is a boy. Olympias goes the opposite way, being about the right age when Alexander is a boy (29), but too young when he is a young man.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jesus of Nazareth - Olivia Hussey plays Mary from before Jesus's birth to his crucifixion (thirty-three years give or take) without aging. This is apparently because it's believed Mary didn't age because of her purity.
  • Vikings: By the fifth season, 20 years have passed and many characters not even born at the beginning of the show grow into adults. Male characters visibly age over the seasons, with their hair graying, lengthening and sometimes receding. The women, on the other hand, show no signs of age. This is especially pronounced in the case of Lagetha, who has a grandson who is nearly an adult yet is still as youthful and blond as ever.
  • Outlander: Claire and Jamie start out the show being in their thirties, and season 3 has a long Time Skip after which they should both be in their fifties. However, there is minimal indication that they're any older other than Claire having a salt-and-pepper wig (and she eventually dyes her hair anyway) and Jamie using reading glasses.
  • In The Witcher (2019), Geralt and Yennefer are Older Than They Look, but Jaskier looks inexplicably the same over the course of Geralt's decades-long arc.
  • The Crown (2016), a show detailing and dramatizing Queen Elizabeth II's reign beginning from just prior to her father's death, notably averts this by making a point of re-casting everyone after the second season, as the British monarchy enters a new era. And the showrunners still have plans to re-cast them once more after the fourth season, presumably when the show's timeframe would've reached the near-end of 1900s and/or early 2000s. It makes sense as the Windsors are very much well-remembered in the public consciousness, making it impossible to sidestep the ageing question in a way that dramas set in a time when photography and film had not yet been invented would be able to. Even if the actors aren't actually that much older than the previous ones, they're still believably older looking.
  • In The Last Kingdom, Uhtred should be at least around his mid to late 40s, as in season 1 he's at least in his late teens when he first interacts with Alfred the Great and his then-infant son Edward, and by season 5 Edward is an adult with children of his own. However, Uhtred looks no different, save for a change in haircut. Similarly, Edward and Aethelflaed look the same throughout most of the show, despite enough time having passed by season 5 for them to have young adult children.

    Video Games 
  • The main storyline of Assassin's Creed II spans over two decades, yet neither Ezio nor any of his friends or family visibly age in that time. This is most noticeable in the cases of Ezio and Claudia, who start out as 17 and 15 respectively (though they could easily pass as young adults): Apart from Ezio growing a beard, they still look exactly the same at the end of the game, when they should be pushing 40. The lack of aging is less striking but still noticeable for the older characters, such as Ezio's parents, who don't look any different between newborn Ezio and 17-year-old Ezio; and his mother doesn't look any different at the end of the game, either, which means that on the whole she doesn't age at all in the course of about 40 years.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Despite Dragon Age II taking place over the course of seven years, none of the characters so much as change haircuts, let alone age.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition takes place around ten years after Dragon Age: Origins, but few of the returning adult characters look like they've aged at all. (Leliana and Loghain in particular have been accused of looking younger.)
  • Fire Emblem
    • Averted for the most part when the second half of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War occurs, which takes place 17 years after the first half. While some characters like Finn have aged fairly gracefully (especially for someone who went through hell and back during the interim period and didn't come out of it all that well), others have visibly aged, including Oifey and especially Arvis. The same can be said for Eyvel, who is actually Brigid, in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776.
    • Arguably the most successful sub-series to have shown aging would be the Elibe games, with the former taking place 20 years after the latter. Whomever returns in Binding Blade have all aged, with some like Eliwood especially so due to illness.
    • Generally played straight in Fire Emblem: Three Houses: While all of the students at the Officer's Academy visibly grow older during this game's Time Skip (5 years in this case), the teachers, knights, and other staff who have worked there, along with other adults outside the academy, do not. The only exception is Cyril, who was 14 during Part I, and in the case of Flayn and Seteth, they are ultimately justified in that they're actually slow-aging Nabateans like Rhea. An egregious case would be Shamir, as she's 25 during Part I, but students close to her in age (The DLC unit Balthus starts older than her at 26, for one) all age while she doesn't.
  • Growing Up:
    • One full play-through lasts 18 in-game years, where the Player Character grows up from a baby up until high school graduation, but the adults never age one bit. Since you play as the PC's child in the next run, it gets jarring when you encounter the same adults several generations down the line when they should've died many years ago. After all, the game is not called "Growing Old".
    • Zig-Zagged with the PC's classmates. The PC grows up with them and can marry one of them in the epilogue, but you'll inevitably meet the same classmates growing up with the PC's child all over again in future generations, even Jake and Nathan since they die at the end of their routes (but only in the bad ending for Nate).
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • As far as we can tell, none of the Disney characters age at all - Huey, Dewie and Louie have been selling stuff to heroes for at least a decade, and are still kids.
    • Ven, Terra, and Aqua look the same before and after a 10+-year timeskip, while Sora, Riku, and Kairi all look different after only a 1-year skip. Magic is involved in some of these cases, however: Ven's been in stasis in Castle Oblivion, while Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness, where time does not pass.
    • Organization XIII is either affected by this or Immortality Begins at Twenty, it's hard to tell. Ienzo was a young child, while Lea and Isa were in their early teens when they lost their hearts. They've since aged normally, but the rest were already adults and don't look any different ten years on, apart from some of them having longer hair.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - After the seven-year skip, only the kids are shown to have changed to adults. The only exceptions are Ganondorf and to a small extent Ingo, who received a new costume.
  • Between the third and fourth generations of Record of Agarest War, Alberti grows from a teen to middle age. Between the fourth and fifth generations? No change, even though there was a nearly 20-year Time Skip both times.
  • Final Fantasy XIV plays the trope both ways. The game takes place five years after the era of the Calamity (basically the original 1.0 version of the game before the reboot that became 2.0), but everyone, including the player character if you had a character back then, more or less looks the same all around. The exceptions to the trope are Cid and Minfilia; Cid grows a beard while Minfilia looks a bit older and has more developed breasts.
  • The Ace Attorney games has a seven-year time skip between Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice. The recurring Judge, who is elderly, looks no older than he did before the time skip. Likewise, Larry Butz, who was in his mid-twenties when he appeared in the original trilogy, doesn't look any older when returns in the DLC case of Spirit of Justice, nine years after his previous appearance.
  • The calendar in Resident Evil has advanced in real time over two decades (albeit with numerous Interquels and remakes). Several child characters have grown up, but the recurring characters introduced as adults have aged very gracefully even if they do look somewhat different (even accounting for constant art changes).
  • In Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11, over twenty-five years have passed since the events of the original trilogy. While the human male characters have visibly aged during that time, Sonya looks the same as she always has, and not like a 50-year-old Army general. Her design was particularly criticized in MK 11, where she looks almost exactly like her 28-year-old daughter Cassie. Maybe Johnny's vanity rubbed off on her and she had some work done?

    Western Animation 
  • In The Flintstones specials that take place when Pebbles and Bam-Bam are teenagers and adults, their parents Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty look exactly the same as they did in the original series when they were babies.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode “Act Your Age” that is set 10 years into the future, Lawrence and Linda look the same as they did despite everyone else aging.
  • Averted in the Rugrats spin-off All Grown Up! which takes place ten years after the original series, all the adults have wrinkles, greying hair, and thinning hairlines, even Grandpa Lou looks a little older.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling even though 20 years have passed in universe almost no one has visibly aged, even though most of the cast should be middle aged or elderly. Rocko's dog Spunky who should be quite old and slowing down and the obnoxious bratty kid from "Jet Scream" is still a kid. The major aversion is Filburt and Paula Hutchinson's kids Missy, Gilbert, Shelbert, and Norbert who were babies before the time skip and are now adults.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has a downplayed example. The "J2" episodes both feature Jade time traveling to her adult years. Jackie, Captain Black and Tohru have all changed with age (Jackie has gray in his hair, Captain Black has a goatee, Tohru has extra wrinkles on his face.) The exception is Uncle, who looks exactly the same. Granted, he was already old, but he should have looked even older.
  • In The Wild Swans during the 6 year timeskip, Elisa ages from a little girl to a young woman, after her six brothers are finally cured of their curse of being turned into swans they haven’t aged at all, even though some of them were clearly older than her, making her look older than them, this may be justified as they may not have been able to age as long as they were cursed.