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Not Allowed to Grow Up

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He's still ten years old, and looks younger than when he started.

"Look how long it's taken me to be six years old! Practically forever!"
Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

AKA "perpetual childhood". An old (and in live-action, discredited) trope which was implicit in many early sitcoms that focused on the standard American Nuclear Family of father, mother, and either two or three children — the situation necessary for the comedy to exist was so rigidly defined that the children could not be allowed to grow up, lest the program dynamic change unrecognizably. After the tragedy of Anissa Jones of Family Affair, who was straitjacketed by this trope to very unhealthy effect, most live-action sitcoms now just accept that their kid characters will grow up and take advantage of the story opportunities with teenage and young adult characters should the series last long enough.

This later became a staple of animated shows. Since animation does not require on-screen acting, it is much easier to control the physical aspects of the characters, and therefore keep them the same age year after year without major psychological harm to the person doing their voice. Among the most famous examples of this situation are Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson, who have been intentionally kept the same age since 1987.


Things tend to be worse for female child actors than for male child actors when it comes to this trope in live-action media; girls usually hit puberty at a slightly younger age than boys, and concealing the secondary sexual characteristics can be very difficult, sometimes even impossible. Film studios used to object to child actors growing up; it was not until The '70s that they finally figured out how to manage a smooth transition from adorable child star to Teen Idol.

The opposite of the trope is Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome.

Comic-Book Time, also known as a floating timeline, applies this concept to an entire setting. This trope can lead to Contractual Purity, which is when celebrities grow up and move on to adult roles and behavior, but are still expected to be children.

Not to Be Confused with Never Grew Up, which is when child-like characters are literally not able to age for in-universe reasons. See Not Allowed to Grow Old for when adult characters do not age the way they should.


Of course, this trope overlaps with Perma-Shave for male children.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The characters from Ah! My Goddess have been college age for nearly 23 years now. Their surroundings keep getting adjusted to match the times. Even though Skuld has remained a kid for that whole time (except that one time), she doesn't count.
  • In Animal Yokocho, the main character, Ami, is five years old when she has a birthday... turning five years old. The other characters are a bit baffled by this, but it is, after all, a Gag Series.
  • In Arabian Nights: Adventures of Sinbad, the main character never seems to age, despite the fact that his adventures could easily take months or even years.
  • The original Astro Boy had this in spades. Though the title character is a robot and is thus justified in not growing up over the course of several decades, his human classmates have no such excuse. What makes this especially odd, is that Astro's "little sister" Uran, also a robot, actually did grow up! She went from being a short, chubby preschooler in her first appearance, to being able to impersonate Astro with a simple costume change, to the point where she looked more grown-up than her "big brother", as a slender young woman in the later stories, complete with superfluous (though modest) artificial breasts(!). Tezuka also experimented with drawing Astro looking more like the teenage adventure heroes that were popular at the time, but apparently, his readers didn't go for it. They didn't complain about Uran nearly as much, though. Then there's the Astro's Been Stolen story, where an attempt is made to give Astro an adult body, but it turns out to be a piece of junk that only has the same power level as his original despite being much bigger. The story ends with him musing that Growing Up Sucks and if you can avoid it you probably should.
  • A plot necessity in Case Closed. Being a teenager trapped in an elementary school body, if time progressed linearly, he would have regained his age the long way over the 20+ years the series has run.
  • Crayon Shin-chan and friends has been 5 years old since Shin-chan's 1992 debut, despite the manga and comics showing the characters celebrating Christmas, Coming of Age Day, and at least one volume (published in late 2002) showing the Nohara family anticipating the upcoming 2003 New Year countdown (acknowledging that yes, time does flow in their universe and they're not forever frozen in the early 90s).
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys flat-out Breaks The Fourth Wall to lampshade this concept. During a conversation about what the kids plan to do when they graduate, Hidenori states that it's irrelevant since they'll be stuck in their second year of high school forever. The Series Finale seemingly averts this at first by showing the kids graduating after a Time Skip...but then it turns out to just be a dream.
  • Dero Dero has a chapter that lampshades this.
  • All the main cast of Doraemon (despite some episodes show them grow-up in the future).
  • While Dragon Ball is notably renowned for averting this trope (and pioneering its aversion in other series), it comes into play in Dragon Ball Super with the various kid characters. According to the timeline placement, Goten and Trunks should be in their mid-teens but still look and act as they did in the Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z. Krillin's daughter Marron, while a more minor character is an even more egregious example, still looking and acting like a toddler despite being around ten years old at this point. She also is fully human, whereas Goten and Trunks at least have the excuse of being half-Saiyan. It was established long ago via Goku's childhood that Saiyans stay child-like into their early teens and then have a massive growth spurt to adulthood. However, this explanation is not widely accepted since Gohan did not have this issue and grew normally throughout the series.
  • The characters in Kochikame never age when the present date moves along with real life and the manga being a Long Runner status of over 30 years. Many of Kankichi Ryotsu's flashbacks take place 30 years in the past depicting 1950s Tokyo. One exception is Daijiro Ohara's grandson who is the only character appear to age who started as a toddler now around 10 years old.
  • Minami-ke is a prime example. It's not really noticeable in the manga but for those following the anime, this is especially glaring. For example, at least three New Year's celebrations have been shown... and yet no one has advanced a single year in each of their respective grades.
  • Mitsudomoe will always be in the sixth grade, no matter how long it runs. Which is why so many Christmases have passed.
  • Ojarumaru has been running for over two decades, and yet Ojarumaru and the other characters do not look like they have aged at all.
  • Ouran High School Host Club lampshades this; the manga's narration politely asks the reader to ignore the fact that, despite various seasonal changes, no one has gone up a grade. This practice ends in chapter 72, in which Honey and Mori actually do graduate (as do Nekozawa and Kasanoda), though they promise to stop by every now and then. It comes as quite a shock to Haruhi, and signals a turn towards some slightly more serious and dramatic storytelling for the remainder of the manga.
  • Red from Pocket Monsters hasn't aged much in twenty years. The manga is even older than the Pokémon anime but he still seems like a kid.
  • Pokémon: Ash and Pikachu seem to have fallen foul of this a lot:
    • Ash has been declared as still being 10 years old at the start of Best Wishes! (Black and White, Season 14 outside Japan). This was said in the original Japanese as well. Pokémon: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel also confirmed he's still 10.
    • Former storyboard artist Masamitsu Hidaka explicitly said in this interview that Ash and his friends remain their respective ages for as long as the show is on, however many years that may be!
    • To make things more confusing, Ash (in the dub only) noted the one-year anniversary of him and Pikachu meeting. And even more confusing in both the English and Japanese versions, where Ash's voice has deepened a lot in later seasons. It has happened in many other versions as well, which cast kids to play Ash's role back in 1998/99, but said kids have since aged and remained doing his voice.
    • The dub also makes direct reference to a year's time passing between Ash's first two visits to Viridian City. However, anything added in the dub that is not mentioned in the Japanese version is not considered canon.
    • In Ash's talk with Drew (in the dub at least), one of his lines was something like "- all the friends I met throughout the years".
    • Meowth pointed this out in one episode, telling Dawn that Team Rocket had been chasing after Pikachu since Dawn has been alive, which puts that at over 10 years (how long the show had been running at that point). This could be viewed however as Breaking the Fourth Wall (something the Team Rocket trio and Meowth in particular are famous for) and not indicate the age of any characters.
    • Apparently time passes in the Japanese version too, as in the Kalos saga Jessie mentions she recently had a birthday (however her Gourgeist was the only one who remembered).
    • This trope applies to many Pokémon and their evolution. Certain Pokémon simply don't evolve, some for specific reasons, like Pikachu doesn't want to become different or Meowth, who is clearly either in adolescence or adulthood, hates his evolved form. Other Pokémon who fulfill mascot roles like Dawn's Piplup, Iris's Axew, and Ash's Rowlet don't evolve to keep them cute forever — Piplup even holds an Everstone for that purpose, Axew simply shows no sign of evolving despite wishing to reach his final stage until Pokémon Journeys: The Series that is, and Ash's Rowlet casually ate an Everstone whilst looking for pebbles to practice Bullet Seed. Surprisingly, Misty's Togepi does evolve...and leaves her.
    • It was basically tradition that none of Ash's Water-Type Pokémon he has caught since Totodile would ever evolve, and even before that, his Squirtle might have even started this trend before Totodile. Unlike Pikachu and Bulbasaur, none of his Water-Types are shown to refuse to evolve; they simply don't. Until Froakie, only Krabby has evolved, and Froakie is the first to finally break the curse. Not only that, Froakie even evolves twice and gets an exclusive Super Mode on top of that. And then he was released following the ill-fated Kalos League.
    • The fact characters have not been allowed to grow up actually has caused trouble with adapting games as time goes on. Several games either make it clear that timeskips are going on or they outright feature cameos from previous games that depict the characters as noticeably older than they were before (Sun and Moon even features the original protagonist, Red, as an adult). The anime usually ignores the references and glosses over characters aging. This, however, has caused inconsistencies. For example, Bianca is shown to have her original Pokémon Black and White design however her childhood friend Cheren uses his Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 design that is two years older (the anime doesn't reference them knowing each other either).
    • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the game says Island Challenges can only be taken when a child reaches age 11. Yet Ash is still confirmed as 10 in that series, along with showing his classmates as pre-teens in spite of them being teenagers in the games.
    • A Hoenn interview confirmed that Ash was always ten. Later, an interview for Pokémon: I Choose You! stated that Ash will eternally be 10 years old as time does not flow since his journey started, making the world another trope.
  • Pretty Cure initially averted this — the first season ended with several recurring characters graduating from middle school, and the second shows Nagisa and Honoka dealing with the new stresses from becoming upperclassmen. Then the series entered Comic-Book Time, and when Nagisa and Honoka returned for the Crisis Crossover after being offscreen for three years, they were still the same age.
  • Even though there have been at least two New Year's Eve-based stories, a slew of Christmases, and too many summer vacations to count, Ranma ½ is perpetually fixed in Ranma and Akane's first year of high school (10th grade). Made even more conspicuous since Ranma arrived in the middle of the school year, and both fashion and technology change to reflect the real world (the manga began in 1986, and ended ten years later). There was not one single birthday throughout the entire run, and Kuno, who introduced himself as "Age: 17" in volume 1, would still claim "Seventeen years of age, the epitome of manhood" as late as volume 33, published in 1994.
    • The anime was especially bad about this. There's been at least one time where it's mentioned that Ranma has been living with the Tendous for at least a year or two — yet he's still sixteen.
    • Urusei Yatsura also. Lum, Ataru, Shinobu, Mendou and the rest were 17 years old and on the cusp of high-school graduation for years on end... And how many summer vacations and Christmases did they have? Although Ataru did have one birthday during the run of both manga and TV series (the setup for a plot where he feared Lum had forgotten) which is one more than the Ranma cast got.
  • Sgt. Frog: Even though every season of the anime features holiday and birthday specials and there are direct references to previous years, the human characters still keep their original ages and are still in the same school years. The same happens with Tamama, who still keeps a tadpole's tail and white face, even though Taruru, a Keronian younger than him, matured in the 2nd season.
    • Lampshaded by the manga, when Fuyuki said that he was "just 12(?) years old" in a later volume.
    • Irregularly contradicted by the anime itself, which is also the biggest offender due to the number of holiday and anniversary episodes. Paul, in Episode 92, mentions that Momoka's birth was commemorated 13 years ago, and Natsumi was said to be 14 in the second movie, which means that the entire cast aged at least one year. There are also various references to the Keroro platoon spending years on Earth and vague comments about the human characters getting older. However, official guidebooks still keep everyone's starting ages and school years as the only official ones.
      • The newest databook for the manga (as of volume 23) actually said that the human characters had aged one year since the start of the series, breaking away from the manga's previous references to the lack of aging of the human cast.
  • None of the kids grow up in the gag manga Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku. The kids are always in second grade despite various seasonal changes in each volume. It takes 31 volumes until the Ganso! sequel series premiere promoting the kids to third grade. One exception is Yuta, Kotetsu's younger brother. In the early chapters, he was a diapered infant, now he's at kindergarten age.
  • In the YuruYuri manga, the characters actually break the fourth wall to discuss a few of the long term implications of this once they find out that their series is one of these. However, the mangaka ended the chapter by stating that they might move up a grade some day. Episode 10 of the anime's second season suggested that it's the result of being stuck in a sort of time-loop.
  • Yo-Kai Watch has done several episodes for the same holiday however Nate is perpetually a fifth grader. This was eventually averted with the Spin-Offspring Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside, which stars Nate's daughter 30 years in the future. Even after the anime was brought back after Shadowside ended, Nate was still a fifth grader.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes takes place on a planet where Ridiculously Human Robots capable of aging are very easy to come across, among them the main team of heroes, the Supermen; there are also plenty of Human Aliens such as the Supermen's non-biologihal father, Doctor H. The show has been on the air for almost a decade and none of the main or major characters, mechanical or organic, have displayed any signs of aging.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: After over a decade of adventures, the goats are still school-aged.
  • Upin & Ipin: The characters celebrates Ramadhan and Eid al-Fitr Once a Season, and some of the Ramadhan episodes are explicitly set a year after the one from the previous season, yet after over ten seasons the kids are still in kindergarten.

    Comic Books 
  • Used and lampshaded in Monica's Gang. The comic has been running for over 30 years, but the main cast is always 6. Every year, however, there's a special comic featuring a character's 7th birthday — which then snaps back and they're 6 again. In a recent example, someone asks Jimmy Five how old he's turning. "Seven," he replies, "just like evewy other year." Further lampshaded in their Teen Alternate Universe, via the Shout Outs to the main continuity. Possibly prone to even more of this now that the latest storyline focuses on this universe's Marina's Dangerous Fifteenth Birthday (which is the Brazilian equivalent to 16 in America).
  • In the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue's son Franklin was born in 1968. Aside from an incident of using his powers to temporarily age himself to adulthood, and the usual range of alternate reality versions, he has remained a child for more than four decades of real-world time. The fact that he was injudiciously given a Story-Breaker Power contributes heavily to the problem of ever letting him grow up. It is very glaring though because characters that were born long after him are now either teenagers or actual adults. Case in point in the 1980's when Franklin joined Power Pack, he was seven while Lightspeed was nine-ten. In 2005 Lightspeed joined the Loners, she was seventeen and three years later Franklin turned eight... The most recent Fantastic Four series finally averts this is finally with Franklin becoming an angsty teenager. Furthermore, implying that he was a kid for so long because he was using his powers to extend his childhood.
  • X-Men:
    • Kitty Pryde was introduced as a thirteen-year-old and very slowly aged to "almost fifteen" even though many more years passed in the pages of Uncanny X-Men (shown by the passing of seasons). She eventually escaped this fate in the spin-off series Excalibur, mostly because Warren Ellis wrote her into a romance with the much older Pete Wisdom. How it has become an in-joke with her deliberately calling herself Kate in an attempt to stop being seen as the X-men's kid sister.
    • Jubilee (Marvel Comics), has the dubious honor of reaching adulthood three times. When introduced she was fifteen-year-old in 1989, but aged down to thirteen when she was added to the cast of the Generation X title. When Generation X ended she reached adulthood, the first time, and moved out to Los Angeles to start a film career. She later joined X-Corps and The X-Men along with her former teammate, and best friend, Husk. Husk at the time was in a relationship with Angel with was a source of Squick for readers. Marvel tried to placate fans by stating that Husk was 18. However, as Husk was canonically two years older than Jubes, this knocked her down to sixteen. This was confirmed in her short-lived self-titled series in 2004. After M-Day she became an adult again as well as a political activist note  However, this turn was widely hated and ignored by later writers. However, everything was ignored and in her 2011 miniseries was said to be seventeen. Making her a minor again...Sharp-eyed readers have observed that this means that, due to other screwing around with the continuity of the X-Men comics, Jubilee is now younger than Pixie, who was the youngest of the New X-Men when introduced in 2004. Furthermore, the subject of the 2011 miniseries was Jubilee having come to terms with her new vampirism and thus never aging again, even though under Marvel's officially-stated time system says she should have been 22.note  Despite her vampirism, the character did turn 18, but due to said vampirism, she continued to functionally still be a minor. However, her vampirism was eventually cured and she was allowed to age again, mostly so she could legally adopt Shogo. note  That said Vague Age is enforced as she should be in her mid-twenties, but as a result of being a vampire for a decade looks 18-19.
    • The main characters of New Mutants were aged 13 (Rahne) to 19 (Xi'an) years old when first seen in 1982, and their ages were frozen in place even as the comic acknowledged that years had passed. Notably, a recurring motif in the miniseries Fallen Angels is Sunspot narrating "I am fourteen years old" when he ought to have been at least sixteen by then. The team were then quickly aged up to young adulthood by the end of the series in 1991 as many of them became main characters in X-Force as members of Cable's paramilitary strike force. Humorously this actually led to some of them aging faster than they would have in real life. However, their ages froze after the initial bump. For example in the revamped New Mutants from the early 2000's Moonstar is explicitly stated to be 21. This means she aged between 15 and 19-20 between 1984 and 1993, and 19-20 to 21 between 1993 and 2003. Amusingly, Moonstar actually aged more years than both Kitty Pryde and Jubilee in this time.
    • The New X-Men were all high school age when they were first introduced in New Mutants Vol. 2. More than a decade later, they're still high school age. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that Marvel Editorial has stated outright they have no intention of allowing them to "age out," out of a sense that there's too many adult characters. The only clear exception is X-23, who has been allowed to age from around 16 years old when she was first brought into the book, to somewhere around 18-20 by the time of All-New Wolverine.
  • Crimebuster, a Golden Age non-powered hero, started off as a teenager in his 1942 debut and remained a teenager well into the early 1960s, only to suddenly and inexplicably start aging in real time when he stopped fighting crime and started going to college (as part of a post-Comic Code revamp). This was especially noticeable when his World War II era arch-nemesis reappeared in the 1950s and their WWII past was explicitly acknowledged.
  • None of the characters in Archie Comics age. The teenagers have been in high school for decades, with the exact same teachers and principal. In fact, the publication commonly touts Archie as the world's oldest teenager. This trope is exactly why Life with Archie: The Married Life was conceived— to show what could happen if the characters did all grow up (in fact, it had two separate arcs about "What if Archie married Betty?" and "What if Archie married Veronica?"). The Made-for-TV Movie Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again was similarly created to depict how the teens could be as adults. There was also Archie's Weird Mysteries, which showed a middle-aged Archie during a Time Travel episode.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter has been roughly 15 or 16 since the beginning. In 2000. Brian Michael Bendis even invoked this trope: "The Simpsons have kept their ages for more than a decade, we can do that too." He plans to have 100 issues equal 1 year, and if Spider-Man lives that long he will eventually be old enough to drink. Of course, it became academic when Peter bit the dust. In a newspaper article seen in Spider-Men, Peter is said to have recently turned eighteen at the time of his death.
    • When Miles Morales takes up the mantle of Ultimate Universe Spider-Man, he's explicitly stated to be a middle schooler, around twelve or thirteen. This comic also featured a year-long Time Skip in which Miles visibly older and had begun high school, but no exact number is ever given, which becomes a running gag in Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10, his Birthday Episode. The closest we have to a proper age for Miles is "old enough to know his way around high school but not yet freaking out about college", par for the course for most teen superheroes.
  • The original Robin (Dick Grayson) was twelve years old for something like forty years. It was really only after Crisis on Infinite Earths that DC characters started aging, and even then characters often stay around the same age for a very long time.
    • Tim Drake debuted at fourteen and eventually turned sixteen towards the end of his onging series, which ran from 1993 to 2009. Pre-Flashpoint, he was stated to be 17: but he hasn't aged a day since, and actually lost a year when Detective Comics recently gave his age as 16. This trope also applies to his best friends, all of whom are still being portrayed as teen sidekicks even though a younger generation of heroes has cropped up to take their places.
    • There was some aging going on at DC before the Crisis. Dick went off to college in 1969's Batman #219. He stayed 18 through the Seventies and was 19 or maybe 20 by the time he changed his name to Nightwing. Jack Kirby had officially aged Jimmy Olsen to 21 in the 1970s. And Supergirl had gone from a little teenybopper to a full-grown young woman by the '80s. After the Crisis, though, Jimmy got turned back into a kid, while Dick got to stay an adult, and poor Kara got erased from existence.
    • And then there's Barbara Gordon, who — back in the '70s and early '80s — was much older than Dick. She was a member of Congress in DC at one point, and was founder and leader of the super team Birds of Prey. Now, in The New 52, she is a twenty-something who splits her time between street-level superheroics and her doctoral studies. Her age was first decreased in the 1990s, which also correlated with her becoming a love interest for Dick: but she was still portrayed as an experienced heroine who was qualified to join the Justice League, whereas her current iteration is less experienced than characters who debuted much later, like Kate Kane.
    • Batman himself is an adult and does not age either. This troubled Frank Miller when he became older than Batman, so he wrote Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, about an aged Batman.
    • Jimmy is now an adult again, albeit a rather childish one. He got very offended when Toyman assumed he was a kid: "I'm twenty-two, you jerk!"
  • Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner has been in his twenties since his introduction in 1994. In this regard, he isn't unique; thanks to Comic-Book Time, other members of his generation (like Roy Harper and Dick Grayson) are also portrayed as being in their twenties, no matter how improbable that might seem. What makes Kyle seem particularly prone to this trope is that he was portrayed as the youngest member of the JLA and the Lantern family for years, as the Lantern franchise lacks any kid sidekicks to give him the illusion of aging. Thanks to the introduction of less-experienced Lanterns like Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, however, recent stories have begun to portray him as an experienced veteran (even if he still has yet to turn thirty).
    • All of this seemed particularly strange pre-Flashpoint, as Kyle's friend Wally West started out roughly the same age as him but was aged up into his mid-thirties after having children. But since his reintroduction in Rebirth, Wally has also been portrayed as a twenty-something, making him another example of this trope.
  • Spider-Man and The Human Torch are interesting examples. Both started as teenagers, roughly the same age as the original X-Men. Both have been aged into responsible adults with wives, only for some writer to come along and turn back the clock. With the Torch it tends to be more his emotional age to maintain his place as the youngest on the Fantastic Four. However, after One More Day, Spider-Man is explicitly stated to be in his mid-20's, closer in age to the former New Mutants, than the original X-Men.
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, Donald, Scrooge, and the nephews have been the same age since the fifties. The only Duck-writer who seems to avert this is Don Rosa because his "present day" stories are all set in the fifties.
  • The main cast of Buck Danny were pilots during WW2 and still are on active duty during the 90ies, since they never age.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), the characters age, but very slowly. Over the span of twenty years of comics, Tails aged from ten to eleven and Sonic was seventeen at one point. For the most part, their ages are ignored. This was all reversed in the Continuity Reboot as characters were aged into their SegaSonic canon ages (Tails is eight, Sonic is fifteen, etc).
    • Years have been stated to have passed in Sonic the Comic but no one has aged. Certain characters appear to have aged, but it's just their appearances making them look older; for example, Amy looks older with her quills in a bob than she does with them in her "classic" upright style. Sonic's age has never been stated, so it's possible he was a kid at the start of the comics (as his human design in Issue 17 looked young) and has aged to at least his game counterparts age by the end. Or even older, given that Sonic was seen at Spike's Place, a bar in the Metropolis Zone, in Issue 82's story "Running Wild" (though he didn't drink), and Knuckles was seen in a saloon in the story "The Good, The Bad and The Echidna".
  • Averted and then played straight with Dennis the Menace from The Beano, originally the character looked quite young but as the years progressed Dennis got taller and ganglier so much so that by the '70s he resembled more of a teenager than a 10-year-old boy. However, after this, the original artist stopped drawing the character and Dennis did not age for much of the '80s until the '90s when he got younger in part to make the character easier to animate.
    • One theory has it that the current Dennis is the son of the original, the main "clues" to this being that Dennis's dad was redesigned from a pinstriped authoritarian in 2011 to look something like a grown-up Dennis, and occasional flashbacks showing the new Dennis' granddad looking exactly like the old pinstriped dad.
  • Chase Stein of the Runaways turned 18 shortly after Gert's death. But the rest of the team still appears to be underage.
  • Justified with Captain Marvel as Billy doesn't age when he in his Captain Marvel form, and he is in this form ALOT. The end result is he looks like he's just approaching 13 despite being a hero since the 1940's. This has actually had the effect of making him younger than his younger sister Mary. In fact, in 2003 when Mary joined the Super Buddies, she was sixteen a full three-four years older than her older brother. Mary got another bump into adulthood in 2008, although this was to deal with the Unfortunate Implications of her newfound Ms. Fanservice status. Billy however remained a child which began to stretch believe-ability. Eventually, DC settled the issue when it rebooted it's universe in 2011 with Mary was retconned into being Billy's unrelated older foster sibling. As well as already being an adult when she gained her powers.
  • Horrifically deconstructed with the character of Super Sally Sonic in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers. As a little girl, she was offered a magical artifact which made her nearly immortal. Because she never aged out of her teens, when her parents died she was declared to be underage, lost her house, and eventually ended up on the streets.
  • Tom Thug was an aversion when he appeared in Oink!, being introduced as a 14-year-old and leaving school two years later at 16. However, when he transferred to Buster, he was reverted to 14 and stayed that age for the rest of his run (seven years of new strips).
  • Pinocchio in Fables has this. Bad. He got his wish and became a real boy. He has (physically) remained a boy of around eight, in spite of pushing 150 by the time the series rolled around. He is deeply unhappy about this fact, being unwillingly still a virgin. Ozma is also subject to this, and at least one writer built up a relationship between the two immortal children.
  • During John Byrne's run on She-Hulk, he introduced supporting character Louise Mason. Mason had been the superheroine Blonde Phantom in the '40s and looked her age. Since the book at No Fourth Wall, Louise Lampshaded this trope by stating she'd like to be a supporting character so she'd stop aging.
  • Ms Marvel says that she's sixteen in an early story, and has remained sixteen in the 50+ issues since, even including the eight month Time Skip that accompanied the All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch, her sister-in-law's pregnancy and the birth of her nephew Malik, at least three school dances, and an election season special that doubles as a PSA to teach people how to register to vote.
  • In the chilean comic Mampato the protagonist and his friends travel through time and space, but that does not explain how the main character is still a 9-year-old boy, although we have seen at least two different summers go by. A partial dislike is Rena, her best friend / girlfriend albina mutant telepata, who has the appearance of a 9-year-old girl in her first appearance, but in the later stories she looks somewhat older, like a 13/14 teenager years.
  • Condorito and his friends have not aged one day in the more than 60 years that the comic has lasted, the protagonist continues to look like a 30-year-old anthropomorphic condor, the same goes for his nephew Cone and other children's characters, with 8 years of age for more than 4 decades.

    Comic Strips 
  • This trope is especially common in newspaper comic strips. Peanuts and The Family Circus are the most egregious offenders, but the effect can become even more jarring in instances such as Sally Forth, where events continually occur that become part of the characters' canon history and define what is and is not possible for the continuing present, and yet the time needed for these events to have transpired has no impact on young Hilary's age. Quite the contrary, sometimes she even seems to be growing younger.
    • Sally Forth's writer has given them occasional bouts of Genre Savvy self-awareness on this point. A story arc in early 2015 shows Hilary and her friends as twenty-somethings, and oddly, all the adults still look the same.
    • In the case of Peanuts, Linus miraculously nearly catches up to Lucy in age, nor is Rerun far behind; ditto with Sally and Charlie Brown.
    • Lucy herself, when she first appeared, was much younger than the other characters and was shown wearing footed sleepers and sleeping in a crib. Similarly, when Schroeder made his debut, the joke was not simply "playing Beethoven on his toy piano" but "a baby playing Beethoven on his toy piano".
  • FoxTrot uses this trope where the kids in the family still attend the same schools for the same amount of time for years since the first comic. Even though Peter and Paige sometimes plan what they want to do for college, they never actually get there.
    • And every year Paige has to deal with the stress of starting high school. That's pretty much awful.
    • A combined Lampshade Hanging and Shout-Out during a more serious storyline has Jason wondering if he'd suddenly stepped into For Better or for Worse. His mother responds that she doesn't mind if he remains ten years old.
    • When StarCraft II came out, Jason stated that he spent 11 years waiting for the game. He claimed the missing year was "waiting in the womb".
    • A strip had Jason refusing to acknowledge the new year because, as Roger pointed out, "you really don't want to turn eleven". Jason says this is because Peter said he was eleven when he started liking girls.
  • Historically averted in Gasoline Alley, which was the first comic strip to allow its characters to age in Real Time. Skeezix was a foundling infant in 1921 and a centenarian in 2021. Several characters quietly died of old age at various times, although improbably ripe old ages are somewhat common among the mains, such as Skeezix's adoptive mother and father dying at 105 and still living at 121, respectively.
  • Averted in For Better or for Worse, which ages its characters in Real Time. Characters who were babies and children early in the strip were teens and married young adults 15 years later.
    • Ironically, in 2007 creator Lynn Johnston announced her intent to semi-retire by resolving most of the ongoing storylines, narrowing the strip's focus to the family of then-grown oldest child Michael and "freezing" everyone's ages, essentially returning the strip to the format it began with. In the end, she went with the Continuity Reboot route of restarting the strip's story from the beginning, updating art and references when needed, with a few occasional new strips thrown in.
    • Maintaining a realistic connection to time forced Johnston to make the heartbreaking decision to kill the beloved family dog, Farley, since realistically his breed would not last much longer than (at the time) he already had. Friends and family tried to talk her out of it. Fans who caught wind of it got up in arms. Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, is said to have told her that if she killed Farley, he would have Snoopy hit by a truck. But at least one friend managed to persuade her that he had to go out a hero, and Johnston wrote a storyline in which he dies saving April's life.
  • Brooke McEldowney's 9 Chickweed Lane quasi-averts this trope. McEldowney's characters specifically mention their own ages at times, leave high school, move to New York, quit jobs, buy a farm, etc. Though they are in motion and acknowledge the passing of years, they seem largely unaffected by that passage. For example, Edda's mother (who has to be around 60 by now) is still smokin' hot and Edda's grandmother shows no signs of infirmity.
  • Doonesbury started off embracing this trope but after Trudeau's mid-1980s hiatus it began half-heartedly averting it. Most of the original characters are supposed to be in their fifties or older, although they don't look it. Younger characters, though — particularly Alex, Jeff, and Zipper — have been aging more or less in real time and have of late entered or even graduated from college. And in a case that spans both eras, Mike's second wife Kim started out in the 1970s strips as the adopted Vietnamese orphan who could only speak English in advertising slogans.
    • Note also that this trope doesn't seem to apply to every character. Uncle Duke has been in his late 40s since the mid-1970s, even as every other character has aged around him. No one seems to have noticed.
    • Given Duke's proclivities it's possible that he's accidentally and unknowingly stumbled upon a true anti-aging formula.
    • It hasn't been at all clear since the late '70s that Duke actually exists in the same continuity as the other characters. If it wasn't for the occasional brief visit from Zonker (his nephew) or Zeke (his ex-employee), he would never intersect with the rest of The 'Verse.
  • Funky Winkerbean kept its characters in high school for two decades before Tom Batiuk decided to employ a Time Skip to move them to post-collegiate age. More recently, another Time Skip has moved the original characters to middle age. These changes have accompanied a change in the strip's tone from gag-a-day humor to dramatic arcs.
  • Lampshaded by the above quote in Calvin and Hobbes.
    • Many fan works explore Calvin's later life. Most of the best ones (that is to say, a number of the actually funny ones) accept that whatever Hobbes' nature relative to the various realities of Calvin and those around him is, it hasn't changed since Calvin was six, and for the most part neither has Hobbes.
    • One popular theory is that the comic strip Frazz is what Calvin became when he grew up. The other involves Fight Club.
  • Nancy in all its incarnations (starting back when the comic was called 'Fritzi Ritz') has been 8 years old since 1933! This makes Dagwood look like he has progeria.
  • Dennis the Menace has had a sixth birthday — before returning to age 5.5 the next day — many times. Like children in The Family Circus and Peanuts, he has remained the same age. It has gone on so long that in the early 1990s, a rumor began on the Internet that the Dennis of the 1950s/1960s had grown up to become the inspiration for the dad in Calvin and Hobbes. Also like the others, Dennis has changed with the times, to where the family entered the computer age and got other new gadgets when they came out. However, his love of Westerns, which seemed oddly out of place in the 1970s and 1980s, can now be explained by cable TV.
    • The late '50s live-action TV series ran into this problem toward the end of its run.
    • The UK Dennis the Menace (from the Beano comic) subverted this in one issue in 2001 where Dennis was celebrating his 50th birthday (the 50th anniversary of his first appearance in the Beano comic), while the character still remained physically 10.
      • Dennis' sister Bea grew to the age of about 1 and got her own spin-off comic. Dennis didn't age though.
  • Both kept and subverted in the strip Blondie. Blondie and Dagwood have not aged significantly since their first appearance in 1930, 82 years ago. (If real aging were used, they'd both be hitting their century mark.) But they've had kids who have matured to college age — then stayed there. Daisy the Dog's puppies are perpetually half-grown and have been for decades. The characters have evolved, though, as have the storylines. The original strip was about the relationship between the upper-class heir-to-millions Dagwood and the lower-class party-girl Blondie, with lots of Roaring Twenties-era class-conscious humor. Now it's about two working parents in the suburbs and their life. At some point, another "growth spurt" may hit and they might be grandparents — but Blondie will still have her 1930-style hairdo.
  • Zbeng! is an Israeli newspaper comic about a high school class — the same characters since 1987. And of course, it's always about the present day.
  • Little Orphan Annie seems never to age beyond about eleven. In a 1941 strip, Daddy Warbucks recalls events from a 1931 story arc, saying, "I had Eonite ten years ago and lost it", and does not notice that his daughter has not aged significantly in those ten years.
  • In Luann, the title character and her friends were approximately 15 years old when the strip began in 1985; in the ensuing quarter-century, they've advanced to roughly 18 or 19. Luann was probably actually closer to 13-14 in the beginning, as she and her friends were in junior high, while her older brother Brad was in high school. She and her friends have since moved on to high school, graduating in 2014 and moving on to college, while Brad became a fireman, so there's been some development, but it's still at a snail's pace. A straight example is Shannon, who has remained six years old despite the rest of the cast slowly getting older.
  • Mark Trail used to be allowed to age, but is now caught in a time freeze so powerful that even he can't punch his way out of it. He even occasionally revisits old storylines, trapped in an eternal loop where everything is the same except where censored to match the values of the outside world.
  • Perpetually-fifteen Jeremy of Zits was finally allowed to hit sixteen, fix his van, and get a driver's license a few years ago.
  • In Dilbert, the title character has remained in his thirties or so for over twenty years. Wally is perpetually an older worker coasting to retirement.
  • Garfield:
    • Garfield celebrates his birthday every year on June 19, the day the comic debuted. Sometimes, his actual age is mentioned and it's now more than double the average cat life expectancy. Indeed, at age 39, Garfield is now officially older than the oldest cat in Real Life. Odie has stayed pup for over 30 years. Also, Jon and Liz should be in late middle age by now.
    • The strip's No Fourth Wall and Medium Awareness may handwave this, as the characters have always known they were in a comic strip and thus may be aware they can't age unless required.
    • Nermal somewhat parodies this with various revelations, like that he's a midget, deliberately stunts his growth, and uses extensive anti-aging therapies.
  • The Buckets has ping-ponged between playing this trope straight and averting it. Larry Bucket gives his age as around 36 in the 1990s, but advances to 42 in the 2000s; his wife Sarah made a similar age jump at the same time. Their two sons have aged at different rates; when the strip began in 1990, Toby was around 6 or 7, while Eddie was still in diapers, whereas by 2010 their ages were given as 15 for Toby and 6 for Eddie.note  And Larry's father Frank has actually lost a few years, attending his fiftieth high school reunion in 1996 (making his age around 68) but being implied to be closer to 64 or 65 by 2010.
  • Frazz: Despite having summer vacations, Caulfield always returns to third grade.
  • In MAD's Gasoline Alley parody, despite the Skeezix-parody character aging rather rapidly between (or within) panels, another character remained an infant. The others aged at various (and usually nonsensical) rates. The Little Orphan Annie parody's Twist Ending is specifically averting this.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
    • The Calvin and Hobbes example above is lampshaded hard. For context, after Calvin has gone through quite a bit of Character Development over the course of four seasons, he gets Laser-Guided Amnesia and gets reverted back to how he was in the strip itself.
      Hobbes: You know, I don't know how I dealt with you four years ago.
      Calvin: Four years! That would make me... ten years old now!!
      MTM: Uh, no, Calvin. You're only six.
      Calvin: How is [this] possible?
      MTM: Televison contracts. Besides, this is kind of a sci-fi-y show. We'll think of an excuse soon.
    • As revealed in a later entry in The Calvinverse (The Collective), however, a race of aliens actually invoked this; the Chill Collective kept Calvin and those associated with him from aging in a plot to control the universe. Once they're defeated, the Floating Timeline goes with them.
  • Lelouch in Soul Chess is a justified example. After he died, a Timey-Wimey Ball sent him to Soul Society over a hundred years before his death. Mayuri theorizes that Lelouch will start aging at a normal rate (well, normal for a shinigami) once he reaches the time he died. Though it does end up rather amusing when people he knew as children end up looking his age or older.
  • Averted in the Code Lyoko fanfic Lyoko Championship series, where each new book is set one year later and at Book 3 has it to where Jenny from Team Sin is no longer on the team because she is in college.
  • Briefly discussed in Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness, which takes place after Touhou Project's eighth game. Marisa claims that she’s both a child at heart and a woman of at least 20 years. When asked why she still looked like an adolescent, her response is that both she and Reimu become younger whenever an incident is in progress. Reisen is quick to complain that this doesn't make sense.
  • Because everyone is caught in a Time Loop, no one ages in The Infinite Loops. Loopers, however, do consider themselves to age from when they first Awaken, so this is played with.
  • let's go out with a bang! is set in a world where the events of the Danganronpa series all took place within VR simulations. The cryptosleep participants are placed into while in VR prevents their bodies from aging biologically, impacting the growth of anyone who spends a long time in the sims... such as the casts of the first two seasons. When asked for his age, Naegi Makoto states that he's twenty-four, and nobody from said seasons is any older than twenty-six, even when they should be.
  • The Pokémon Squad zigzags this trope. The Author Avatars age in Real Time, but characters like Ash, Brock, Misty, May, Henry, June, Loopy, and Larry haven't aged a day since the beginning of the fic's run. This actually played a large factor in RM and May breaking up in "Missing Master"; since RM ages and May doesn't, it would be too creepy to keep them in a relationship.

    Films — Animated 
  • Alpha and Omega: Kate and Humphrey's pups are introduced in the second film and never age through the next several films. This is despite the Halloween special was released after the Christmas special.
  • The Land Before Time: It's pretty clear that over the course of the 14 movies and the 1-season tv-series that make up the franchise, several years pass in-universe. Yet, none of the young dinosaurs ever seem to get any older, or grow any bigger.
  • The Proud Family Movie takes place two years after the series. Penny is now sixteen, but Bebe and Cece are still babies.
  • A similar thing to the The Land Before Time example occurs between The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under.

  • The Hardy Boys:
    • As one of the most prominent examples in literature, with sixty-plus years of (at least) five book series and 248 volumes, the Amateur Sleuths Joe and Frank started at 15 and 16 years old when first introduced in the 1920s and stayed there until the books were overhauled in the 1960s. The brothers were then allowed to become 17 and 18 years old, respectively, and have stayed at those ages ever since, with the occasional grade-school foray that de-aged the brothers into third-graders. Assuming that both Joe and Frank were born on the same birthday, that would be about 1.47 days per mystery. They must be the most obsessed detectives in existence.
    • Averted in its media adaptations, likely due to the problems of using children in a lengthy series that involves many dangerous situations. The short-lived Nelvana series in the mid-1990s aged them a few years: Joe was in college and Frank had a job as a newspaper reporter, with their father retired and living in Europe. In the 1970s The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, because the actors had become noticeably older, the brother were implied to graduate high school in second season, while the third and final season allowed them to be hired by the Justice Department. Also, a film and script were in development for The Hardy Men in which they would finally be adults, but has since been scuttled.
    • Also averted in many fan works. While the majority of fanfics for the franchise play it straight, there's a sizable minority that focuses on the brothers being grown-up.
  • In the original Nancy Drew books, Nancy was always 16. In the revised versions, she's always 18. Either way, Nancy must have solved approximately 175 mysteries in the span of one year. If the multiple spin-off series are added in, it's even more mind-boggling.
  • Both of the above instances were deliberate on the part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, after seeing sharp drop-offs in readerships of books that averted this and had the characters grow up (notably the likes of Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames) they decided eternally youthful was the way to go.
  • The Boxcar Children. Over a hundred books, most of which take place over a whole summer, and not one of them is past college age... They age in the first 19 books, written by Gertrude Chandler Warner; Henry actually makes it to college age, and Jessie, Violet, and Ben all have summer jobs... but the publishing company punched the Reset Button so hard that the characters were all slammed back to their original ages from book one when the series was turned into a Franchise Zombie after Warner's death.
  • The girls in the The Baby-Sitters Club series aged normally for the first 10 books (during which they all had their 13th birthdays) but were afterward frozen in time, although they often acted much older than 13-year-olds. This may have been a product of the series being ghostwritten after book 35. They were allowed to age again at the end of the series and graduate to high school. The spinoff Baby-Sitters' Little Sister had Karen age from six to seven early on, then froze her at "seven and a half" for the rest of the series, no matter how many holidays had passed her by.
  • Similarly, the protagonists of The Saddle Club go through multiple Christmases and summer breaks but never advance beyond their original ages (12 for Carole and Stevie, 13 for Lisa), despite the fact that the series actively acknowledges the passage of time (for example, one Christmas book references the events of an earlier Christmas book and indicates that those events took place over the previous Christmas). It makes the whole thing rather hard to parse out. Sidestepped in the much shorter Pine Hollow spinoff series, which actually takes place entirely within a single year (and even then, Carole has a birthday in Book 10).
  • The original Henry Reed books take place over three consecutive summers, and Henry and Midge (short for Margaret) age realistically (Henry from thirteen to fifteen, Midge a year younger). Enter the fifth book, written years later, and their ages are rebooted back.
  • In Richmal Crompton's Just William series, William Brown lives through the twenties, thirties, second world war and up to the first moon landings, all the while remaining 11 and having quite a few birthdays (whether these are his 11th or 12th is never stated.)
  • Jennings is introduced at the age of 10 years 2 months, and thereafter remains permanently 11. There are few indications of precise external time, but he has far too many ends-of-terms for this to be plausible.
  • This is a prevalent trope in many children's series books. Prior to the 20th century, series-book characters aged in real time: witness the Rover Boys, who grew up, married, and eventually had to hand the adventuring off to the next generation of Rover Boys. The first set of children's book characters who qualified for this trope (as distinguished from being prevented from growing up, as was the case with Dorothy Gale) were the Bobbsey Twins. In the original editions of their first several volumes, they aged in real time; but the editors at the Stratemeyer Syndicate soon realized the characters would age beyond their readership. So they, and their fellows Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Happy Hollisters, and many others, got caught in a chronological stasis, never aging beyond where the series began.
  • In-universe example in John Varley's The Golden Globe, the narrator, Kenneth Valentine, is an actor who had played the same child role for decades.
  • According to the books, James Bond was born in 1924. The books started in 1953, and the movies in 1962; his twenty-third movie appearance was in 2012, where he most definitely did not look 88. His inability to age beyond early middle age is, if not taken as EON Productions simply adapting the stories to modern eras, considered proof of the theory that 'James Bond' is an alias assigned along with the designation 007, and there have been several people using that name/number combination over the decades.
  • In Galaxy of Fear, the protagonists were twelve and thirteen years old when Alderaan was destroyed, the series starts at six months after that, and ends around a year after the destruction. Their ages are mentioned frequently. In The Brain Spiders, Tash (the older of the two) says that she'll be fourteen in a few weeks, but while later books take place months after that she is still called thirteen.
  • The characters of the Stephanie Plum series don't age, although plenty of references to the passage of time are made (such as Stephanie's sister's marriage and subsequent pregnancy).
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley and his generation have stayed in middle school for more than two summers; Word of God says that's where he will stay.
  • The kids in The Famous Five don't age much despite the series being several decades old. J.K. Rowling specifically mentioned them when discussing how she didn't want her Harry Potter characters to be like the ones from The Famous Five.
  • This trope is Played for Drama InUniverse in the Young Adult Novel Elsewhere. In the afterlife depicted in the novel people enter at the age they die at which point they age backwards until they're babies at which point they are reborn on earth. This is a major source of angst for the main character of the book Liz who died when she was only 15 and therefore will never get a proper chance to live a full life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Family Affair ran for five years and, more importantly, lasted long enough for its youngest cast member, Anissa Jones, to enter puberty in the middle of production. In spite of this, the writers insisted that her character — as well as her public image — should remain that of a very young, prepubescent girl. Thus, in the later years of the show's run, Anissa Jones was forced to conceal her developing breasts, tie her hair up in Girlish Pigtails, and hold the Mrs. Beasley doll when working on the set or making promotional appearances. Her requests that her character's dialogue be made less childish were turned down. This is often cited as a major factor in her eventual death by drug overdose.
  • The trope still affects some contemporary "teen dramas", forcing characters to remain teenaged and in high school for ridiculous periods of time, even as their actors age into and through their twenties. See also Dawson Casting.
  • Emmanuel Lewis, the star of Webster was twelve when he started playing the title role and seventeen when the show ended. His character aged only three years during the show's six-year run, from age five to eight.
  • Similarly, Gary Coleman's character Arnold on Diff'rent Strokes appeared to age much slower than the rest of the cast. Coleman's kidney disorder meant that the actor never grew above 4' 8''. An aversion, though, in that the character progressed through his school years at a normal rate, especially after the older cast mates moved on to college and Europe. Arnold was 8 when the series started and 16 when it ended.
  • The producers of Malcolm in the Middle were quite concerned about Frankie Muniz growing up, to the point where they filmed as many episodes as humanly possible in a very short period of time and then showed them on a regular schedule so that Malcolm would appear to age more slowly. Later seasons, however, avert this to some degree; you can see Malcolm graduating from high school and applying for colleges, and Francis gets married. This was probably due to Dawson Casting: at the series' beginning, Muniz was 14 whereas the character of Malcolm was somewhere around 11, and it would be understandable for them to want to make sure he didn't hit a growth spurt or a voice change before it would be plausible for Malcolm to do the same. After in-universe puberty struck, they didn't mind the actors growing up.
  • SCTV parodied this with a Mockumentary in which Martin Short portrays a (former) child actor who has been the star of a Dennis the Menace-esque show called Oh, That Rusty! for thirty years. Rusty never ages, but the actor does. At one point, the show's producers start filming the show using oversized sets and props, and do some recasting... not for Rusty, but for his parents, who are now played by very tall basketball players (who also happen to be black, making for an inversion of the Diff'rent Strokes/Webster formula.)
  • Lost similarly removed Walt from on-screen appearances for two seasons when the actor playing him began to age more visibly but brought him back once the progress of puberty had slowed somewhat. See Put on a Bus. Though it was for different reasons than most shows. Where most shows that do this hold to a nebulous frozen time frame, Lost was on a strict timeline with the first four seasons covering a span of roughly 100 days during which Walt's puberty would have been implausible. He returned when the show's timeline jumped forward a few years catching up with his age.
  • During its short tenure, Century City explored two aspects of this trope: first, a child actor suing his parents over the right to take growth suppressant hormones to continue his acting career, and second, an elderly member of a Backstreet Boys-esque boy band suing his former band over a contractual dispute that forces all members to take gene therapy and other surgery to keep them perpetually boi-ish. Incidentally, both cases averted this trope: the child actor was convinced not to take the pills through an appeal to the wonders of growing up, and the boy band case was dropped after one of the members who went through the procedure died of old age.
    Lukas: But he looked so young.
  • LazyTown provides a rare modern live-action example. Julianna Rose Mauriello was 13 when she took the role of 8-year-old Stephanie and was relatively believable as that age. She was 15 when the second season was shot, and is clearly a young woman rather than a little girl in those episodes (she doesn't even appear to have bound breasts, at least not consistently), yet no narrative time appears to have passed, and in one episode she is shown to be in the same grade school class as her young puppet friends. She was a month from 17 when the first season of LazyTown Extra was shot, and the 2010 single 'Go Step Go' features her voice much deeper than other songs from the show. She was finally replaced by a new actress, Chloe Lang, for seasons 3 and 4.
  • After Punky Brewster moved from NBC, Soleil Moon Frye started developing early and went through a massive growth spurt. At first, producers dealt with the situation by binding her breasts while still playing the character off as, physically, a prepubescent child. When the premise became too unbelievable, Punky was finally allowed to have her puberty. The first episode that admitted Punky was growing up begins with Punky marching in on her caretaker at breakfast and announcing proudly "Henry, guess what? I'm getting boobs." Made even more obvious by the fact that Soleil Moon Frye would eventually have to have breast reduction surgery at 16 because of gigantomastia.
  • Appears for reasons unknown on Rome with Vorena the Younger and little Lucius. Vorena is at least eight years old when she first appears in the second episode, and Lucius is an infant. When the series ends roughly 20 years later Vorena is still played by the same actress and Lucius seems to be no older than five or six. Especially odd considering the fact that Octavian ages from twelve in the pilot to being in his thirties when the show ends, and Caesarion (who isn't even born until Lucius is around four years old) shows up being somewhere around ten years old in the last episodes.
    • Since they editors stated that they 'compressed the timeline of events' somewhat (i.e. didn't overly worry about historical accuracy), Octavian may be younger at the end of the series than he was when he actually came into power.
  • In Sesame Street, both Gabi (Maria and Luis' daughter) and Miles (Gordon and Susan's adopted son) grew up in real time, while the Muppets depicted as kids, like Elmo and Big Bird, stayed the same. For example, in an anniversary episode, Elmo asks Grover about the thing what happened when he wasn't there. In the scene of Maria and Luis' wedding, Elmo talks like he wasn't there, but he's visible holding the ring at the wedding.
  • Archie Comics enforced this on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Not on the characters, but on the show title itself, not allowing the show's producers to change the name to simply "Sabrina", even though Sabrina herself wasn't a teenager for the last couple of seasons, and although they did keep it as the official title, a lot of promotional material started calling it Sabrina Goes to College. (Sabrina's actress, Melissa Joan Hart, was 27 when the show ended). And boy did it start to show. She went from looking young enough to be late teens, early twenties, to the first episode of the penultimate season, where she and her college friends film a video with a genuine Vampire, the light strikes her, and wow, she suddenly looks much older.
  • Parodied in an episode of You Can't Do That on Television where the kids found out the network was secretly feeding them shrinking hormones to keep them from looking older.
  • Grey's Anatomy had this with adults. The first season only had nine episodes, so the main characters still being interns in season 2 was justified. There is, however, no excuse for them to be interns for the entirety of season 3. Especially bad because their first year is established as starting on July 1st, and the second season ended with a Prom (mid-April at best, early June at worst). Seasons 4 and 5 cover their second year of residency, and from season 6 on each season covers about a year, aside from a Time Skip in season 11. Averted with the children on the show, Bailey's son Tuck has progressed from an infant to a pre-teen over the years.
  • Disney tried to enforce this on The Mickey Mouse Club via Suppressed Mammaries; the female Mouseketeers resorted to subversion (slicing the hated "foundation garments" with razor blades) when their protests proved unavailing.
  • This was one of the reasons cited for the cancellation of The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, according to the producers.
  • The entire cast of That '70s Show. Eric turned 17 in the second episode (despite telling Red that he was 17 in the pilot). He then turns 18 in the third episode of season six.
  • Round the Twist starts in 1989, and finishes in 2000. The three Twist kids more or less stay the same - the two twins manage to de-age from 14 to thirteen, and Bronson is still in the same primary school class. To be fair, this is because the series was rebooted twice - first in 1992 (for one season) then in 1999 (for two seasons).
  • During the later seasons of Dennis the Menace, Jay North (who played Dennis) was getting a little too old to be running around in overalls and a cheesy cowlick. Jeannie Russell (who played Margaret) was 12 years old in the final season, yet in her appearances in those last episodes, Margaret was still pushing her doll carriage up to the Wilson home and wanting to play "house" with Dennis.
  • The reason that Jon Provost left Lassie in 1964 was because, at age 14, he (rightly) believed he was too old to still play the "little boy with his dog". Mind you, the producers' intention was for him to play that exact character until he was 17!
  • Victorious is a modern example of this. The characters didn't age (or aged little) through the show's 4 seasons. Trina was a senior in season 1 and still a senior in season 4! It's even more interesting the fact that iCarly shares the same universe of Victorious, but kids age (almost) in real-time in that show.
  • The writers behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer deliberately aborted an arc in order to prevent this trope from affecting any of the show's actors. The first season introduced the Anointed One, a vampire with the appearance of a prepubescent boy. He was initially planned to be the Big Bad of the second season, but his actor ran the risk of entering puberty within even a single year, and Buffyverse vampires are not supposed to age. Hence, the Anointed One was casually written out and replaced by Spike and Drusilla.
  • On a Polish sitcom "Świat według Kiepskich", which has been on air for almost a generation, the daughter of the leading couple remains a teenager. She's been portrayed by an actress who is currently 29 and has been on the show from the age of 14 and has always appeared to be about 16-18 years old. She dresses, acts and speaks like a teenager, lives with her parents and is often told not to "snap back at daddy".
  • On Southland, Ben is a trainee Officer for the first 3 seasons, even though training is supposed to take just a year. Arguably justified, as Southland had very short seasons and the first 3 seasons total to just 23 episodes.
  • The plot of Downton Abbey spans over 13 years, but the characters don't seem to age nearly that much (it was only five years in Real Life). Daisy, the youngest main character, seems like a teenager throughout the series despite the actress being 25-30.
  • The Flodder franchise plays this trope straight with the two youngest members of the family, Toet and Henkie. The producers simply recast the roles every time the current two child actors got too old for the part, and aside from the occasional A Day in the Limelight episodes mostly kept them as background characters.
  • The Worst Witch initially was going to have the full four seasons of the 1998 series match the four years of study at Cackle's. But by Season 3 the child actresses were already starting to age notably. By Season 4, they realised Mildred looked too old to believably still be at school, and retooled it to be about Mildred attending college.
  • Two and a Half Men had a downplayed example with Jake. Initially, he was aging in real time, but in later seasons, his aging was slowed down. For example, in seasons 6 and 7, Jake is around sixteen and just learning to drive when Angus T. Jones was eighteen at the time (he originally started out the same age as his character and it is explicitly stated in those seasons that Alan and Jake had been living with Charlie for seven years).

  • The managers of the Puerto Rican Boy Band Menudo kept the group young by use of a simple method: every member would be obligatorily replaced when he reached his 16th birthday, his voice changed, grew facial hair, or got too tall.
  • Similar restrictions apply to the Vienna Boys' Choir, though the boys graduate when they turn 15. This, however, is for more realistic reasons. The Vienna Boys' Choir is an all-treble choir, so once a boy's voice drops, he no longer has a part. If his voice drops while his choir is touring, he is allowed to finish the tour, and the boys continue attending the same school, they simply do not sing in the famous choir.
  • In drum and bugle corps affiliated with Drum Corps International, the maximum age of a marching member is 21.

  • Connie Kendall in Adventures in Odyssey was an example for many years. She first appeared as a 16-year-old and stayed that way for so long that several of the kid characters surpassed her age. This was later retconned so that she just ages very slowly: Connie is now in college, has been engaged, and runs a wedding business called Dreams by Constance, so she's allowed to age after all.

  • Used in-story in Gypsy, where vaudeville child stars June and Louise have their real ages kept secret by their mother. Louise can't be sure how old she really is, having had parties celebrating her tenth birthday for several years in a row. (Given that Gypsy is a biography, and Mama Rose allegedly was that bad, this may also be a case of Truth in Television.)
  • Used very often in Annie, where the shuffling of orphans was usually done due to the onset of puberty (though some younger girls would move up to older girl roles). Thus, literally hundreds of girls played roles in the musical through its original Broadway run and four national tours. The documentary Life After Tomorrow interviews quite a few of the women who appeared in the original run, many of whom cited their last show as the worst day of their lives.

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft's Anduin Wrynn was ten for quite a while. He finally got his age up (new character model) with the release of Cataclysm.
  • Both used and averted by the Donkey Kong Country series. While the original Donkey Kong grew old to become Cranky Kong, his wife Wrinkly passed away (though she returned as a ghost) and Tiny Kong grew up from a little kid to being in her late teens, Diddy and Dixie Kong (who is Tiny's older sister) are still kids after 13 years. Since most of the Kongs note  were Put on a Bus after Rareware left for Microsoft, it is possible that not as much time has passed in the Donkey Kong universe as in Real Life. Kiddy Kong, the baby character from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, has not yet gotten off the bus. It appears that Rare attempted to have Diddy age slightly in Diddy Kong Racing DS, in which his voice was deeper and appeared to have broken.
  • Drakengard has Seere, a six-year-old boy who made a pact with a golem creature. The price for the pact was being unable to grow up. In Drakengard 2, he is now 24 years old, but still looks like a little boy.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims a baby grows up to be a child... and then can never age again, meaning that eventually, they hit their peak grade and can never accomplish anything ever again. The sequels introduced aging and allowed the children to grow up.
    • In The Sims 2, only the Sims in the household you're currently playing as will age; so unless you regularly switch between households, it will likely end up with your elderly sim's old friends from elementary school still being children.
    • Averted in The Sims 3 and onwards by default. All the sims in a particular game will age and die, though you can control how long each stage of life is and even turn it off if you want.
    • In The Sims 4 you can choose a variety of options for who ages, including only the Sims you are currently playing like in The Sims 2, everyone like in The Sims 3, only Sims you've played, or only Sims you haven't played. There is also the option to turn aging off completely.
    • The Sims Freeplay originally had babies unable to age however updates added in the feature eventually.
  • Despite six years passing between the sixth and twelfth Touhou Project game, Reimu and Marisa remain the same age. As far as we can tell.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic had a birthday in Sonic Generations. He's still fifteen years old. Humorously, before Sonic Adventure, his canon age was sixteen. He seems to be aging backwards! Also in Generations, he, Tails and Eggman are depicted as having aged quite a bit since their 16-bit days, not even being able to fully recall their early adventures in Chemical Plant or Green Hill Zone despite the above. His newest English voice actor as of Sonic Colors uses a noticeably deeper voice than previous ones, however, nothing points to Sonic actually aging.
    • The series has this trope in spades; none of the characters seem to grow any older than the age in which they were introduced, and some (like Charmy Bee) actually had their ages and mannerisms adjusted to be younger than what they were before.
    • Amy Rose seems to be an aversion, having aged from 8 to 12 between Sonic CD and Sonic Adventure, which seems reasonable... But is weird alongside Knuckles, who went from 15 to 16; Tails, who remained 8; and Sonic, who, as mentioned above, went from 16 to 15.
    • Infinite lampshades this in Sonic Forces. He mentions that Sonic and Tails (who are 15 and 8 respectively) have been fighting Eggman for decades.
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • Huey, Dewey, and Louie. There is no noticeable difference between their appearance in Birth by Sleep and their appearance in Kingdom Hearts II, 11 years later.
    • In 3D, Riku explains that the different worlds don't operate on the same time scale. Not many fans wanted to believe him, though the Timeless River world from II would at least add some more credence to that theory.
  • In most of the Harvest Moon games, you're allowed to get married and have a child. In several after a few months of in-game time, the kid will move from being an infant to a toddler - and then never get older than that. Also true of all the other characters, since you can play for hundreds of years in-game, and no one ever gets older or dies. This trope is subverted with Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life as everyone ages over the roughly twenty years the game goes on. Characters hair turn grey, the children grow into adults, and characters die (including the protagonist). The only exception are the farm animals as they never die of old age or even age beyond young adulthood.
  • Pokémon:
    • The franchise usually averts this trope (featuring sequels that have timeskips and cameos from characters that present them as older than before), however Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 doesn't. In the World Tournament, all the characters were given new sprites however not new designs, despite the games taking place at least a decade after some of them. So we have gym leaders like Misty or Whitney who glaringly haven't aged a day. Subverted with the Unova characters themselves. All the characters aged during the two-year timeskip between the sequels and Pokémon Black and White, though it's mainly noticeable with the child characters like Iris and Bianca.
    • Thoroughly averted in Pokémon Sun and Moon, where Red and Blue actually look like they are in their late teens if not early twenties as at least a decade has passed since FireRed and LeafGreen, where they were eleven. It also features cameos from other characters such as Grimsley, who also look noticeably older and is greying. Wally, on the other hand, plays this straight: he looks almost exactly the same as he did in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, despite that game taking place at the same time as FireRed and LeafGreen. This is unusual because Anabel, who was roughly the same age as Wally and debuted in the same game as him (albeit she didn't appear in the remakes) is an adult and it's noted that at least ten years have passed since then.
  • Sakura from Street Fighter is an odd example. She was introduced in the Street Fighter Alpha prequel series as a teenager, and by all rights, should be at least in her early 20's at this point. However, because her Iconic Outfit is a Japanese schoolgirl uniform, Capcom seems to want to avoid aging her up too much and has refused to really address the subject in-game. It's particularly jarring since Karin, Sakura's rival and former fellow high schooler, was finally given an adult redesign in Street Fighter V.
    • Averted when Sakura joined Street Fighter V as DLC: She's officially in college and has a part-time job working in an arcade, with her uniform being her new default costume (her iconic sailor fuku is now her nostalgia costume).
  • In Stardew Valley, you can play the game for as many in-game years as you like, but Vincent, Jas, and any children that you might have will never grow up.
  • In Ensemble Stars! it's more like 'not allowed to graduate' - the story continuously fills in a roughly one-year period of time covering a single school year, because if time moved on, a third of the characters would leave the school and not be able to participate the same way anymore.
  • A justified example occurs in the finale of Ghost Trick. Anybody who is impaled by a shard of the Temsik Meteor no longer ages and is functionally immortal, trapped between life and death; in the original timeline, this happened to Yomiel, who was already an adult, but when Sissel goes back to undo his death, the shard instead impales Sissel himself, who was only a kitten at that point in time. Ten years later, in the present, Sissel is still a kitten.
  • Puyo Puyo: Arle actually does age in-between parent series Madou Monogatari and Puyo Puyo. With that said, the Puyo series has gone on for almost three decades and yet none of its characters show signs of aging (though we at least get some of their adult appearances in Puyo Puyo 7 by way of their Mega transformations). Some of the mages in the series use "anti-aging magic" to retain their youthfulness, so Sega could use that as an explanation should they feel the need.

    Web Animation 
  • One of the Angry Angry Kid shorts from Aardman Animations, "Boyhood", double-subverts the trope. The setup is that Angry Kid has supposedly photographed himself every day for ten years, and a rapid series of Polaroids show that he has remained unchanged, despite the "changing every day" lyrics in the background. In the middle of it, he remarks while strumming a ukulele, "I don't look any different, do I?" It seems to hang a lampshade on the fact that the series itself vanished for ten years then reappeared with an identical character — despite a significant change in animation techniques. But then the photos continue, and Angry Kid gradually starts growing facial hair. It may take a second or two to notice that it's actually drawn on his face in pen. In the end, we return to the ukulele shot, where the Kid now sports a full handlebar moustache, and he argues with an unseen spectator that no, it is not scribbled on. It totally is.

  • When Hellsing Massive Multiplayer Crossover fancomic And Shine Heaven Now incorporated Little Orphan Annie into its canon (yes, really), this trope is semi-lampshaded by Annie (by now in her thirties in 1998) claiming that she ages at the quarter of a rate of a normal human, due to being born on February 29th.
  • Lampshaded in this Achewood strip. When the one-sentence capsule of a character is "Phillipe is five", then that's all there is to it. He recently celebrated his fifth birthday again.
    • Lampshaded even more cruelly in the "Philippe's Journey Home" arc, where Philippe makes a killing selling useless junk to rich people a la The Sharper Image and goes back to his mother's house, only to find out that his mother (apparently never completely stable at the best of times) has turned into an apathetic and somewhat spacey lady who lunches.
  • The protagonists of Sluggy Freelance should be approaching their forties, and Bun-Bun and Kiki are both a lot sprier than an animal of their age has any business being. At the least, Kiki could be handwaved due to being experimented on when she was a lab animal and Bun-Bun is actually the Egyptian god Sluggy.
  • Snuggleninja: The guy shown here here and here has remained the same age through the whole series.
  • Ozy and Millie had been running for a good 10+ years, yet they only aged once by two years, and it wasn't a big deal (or even known about until they made an offhand comment about their ages). The creator has hinted of a spin-off with the characters as teens. But nothing has been heard of that for a while. Especially now that much of her time has been dedicated to her other comic Phoebe and Her Unicorn.
  • in Unreality, the author had originally planned for the characters to realistically age, but that was eventually dropped in favor of keeping the pace and tone of the comic consistent.
  • El Goonish Shive could easily be mistaken for this. It debuted 15 years ago and the main characters are still high school students. However, due to the production schedule and serialized nature, only roughly 18-20 months have passed since the beginning. It's quite normal for a single evening to be covered in months worth of comics. For example, Ashley was deciding on her outfit for her date with Elliot in March 2015. The evening finally ended in May 2016.
  • Least I Could Do started out this way. Then the characters were gathered together to receive a memo from the cartoonist announcing that thenceforward they would age normally (Urchin was declared immune). Rayne did not take it well. Later plots included Rayne acclimating to his young niece Ashley growing up, as well as his own progress from youthful Manchild to middle-aged Manchild.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Zig-zagged by Finn: At first, he aged in real time from 12 to 14. The staff apparently realized the show would last quite a while, and so he spends the bulk of the series' eight years at 15. Once it became clear the show was ending, Finn was mentioned to be 16 in the second-to-last season, and turned 17 in one of the last few episodes.
    • Inverted with Jake's kids who, due to their magical hybrid genetics, age into adulthood over the course of a few weeks, freeing him up to be Finn's roommate again.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic has two birthdays. Tails is still 4 1/2 over the course of the series.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks have been singing their songs since the 1950s, but through numerous albums, several animated shows, and several movies, they don't seem to have aged a day.
  • Arthur has been running for more than twenty years, but Arthur and the other characters are still the same ages. For example:
    • He and his friends are still in third grade. It's been stated that Ratburn will be resigning as a third grade teacher and become a kindergarten teacher next year (thus likely D.W.'s teacher) but that never happens despite the fact that Buster passed the third grade exams in season 1 (1996).
    • To get an idea of just how ludicrous this became, if the characters actually aged in real time like people in the real world do, Arthur and his third-grade friends would be 33 years old, Prunella and the other fourth graders (and the kids held back, like Binky) would be 34, and the four-year-olds like D.W. and the Tibble twins would be 29.
    • Oddly Kate, Arthur's baby sister, is the only character who ages. She's starting to speak and becoming more toddler-like, and with that, she's losing her ability to speak with non-anthropomorphic animals.
    • This is finally averted in season 19, where in the finale the gang begins fourth grade. But in the next season, D.W. is still in Ms. Morgan's class...
    • Lampshaded in the New Year's Eve episode:
      D.W. I get to stay up 'til midnight, right?
      Mom You're too young, D.W.
      D.W. Why am I always too young? It's like I never get any older! What if I'm trapped in some kind of time warp and I never get any older? Is that my fault?
  • In the third season premiere from The Amazing World of Gumball, when Gumball and Darwin's voices are getting deeper (as were their voice actors'), it is mentioned they are part of the 1% of people who never grow up. After that, their voice actors were replaced with younger ones (which were replaced again after they hit puberty, with Darwin's being replaced a third time). Despite this, none of the other characters appear to age either, though they do commemorate birthdays. The series' timeline spans at least 7 years (2010 to 2017), with the show actually airing from 2011 to 2019, but Gumball, Darwin, and Anais are still 12, 10 and 4, respectively. As of 2021, if they aged, Gumball would be 23, Darwin would be 21, and Anais would be 15.
  • As a possible result of this, the titular characters in Beavis And Butthead see their time in high school stretched out from the Bill Clinton era to the Barack Obama era. In what should be a huge span of time, neither of the duo grow any grow older. And the same goes for their fellow students like Stewart and all their Highland teachers. From critiqueing 90s MTV music videos to watching Twilight when it comes out, Beavis and Butt-head still haven't graduated high school or look a single day older.
  • It is the intent of the producers of Bob's Burgers that Tina, Louise, Gene, and their classmates will stay at their current ages throughout the run of the show, although they may do some intellectual aging.
  • Caillou, if perhaps allowed to grow up a bit, experiences a very dragged-out childhood. In the earliest books from the 1990s, he is a baby. In the very early installments of the television series, he is 3. From then on, he is officially 4, as stated in the theme song, "I'm just a kid who's 4 / Each day I grow some more!" However, in later seasons he takes more steps into school and eventually starts attending playschool and mixing more with older kids. And that's where things stand as of 2017.
  • Camp Candy: In the season three episode "When It Rains...It Snows", John mentions the season one episode "Christmas in July" and refers to it as last year. Even though this show takes place over two summers, the kids don't appear any older in the third season than in the first season.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is another one that uses this somewhat oddly. We're given regular indicators that the characters are becoming older and more mature, such as them being told that they're older and big enough to think of what to do. Daniel also has a sister that is born during the series and now is supposed to be 14 months old according to Word of God and also showing signs growing, such as taking her first steps. Yet, we see no physical signs of growth in most of the characters and everyone is still attending class together with the same teacher.
  • No one is really quite sure how time works in Danny Phantom, and many a fan have had a headache over trying to make a timeline. Continuity clearly exists, but the characters remain 14 and in freshman year through a Christmas and summer — not to mention, three years on the air. By the finale, following real time, they should all be seniors.
  • Daria has this trope to an extent. Time does pass in the show, seasons one through three was Daria's tenth grade, seasons four and five are 11 and 12 respectively. But characters' physical appearances never change, neither do their clothes, thanks to the Limited Wardrobe. Quinn is an exception as she gets a new shirt at some point - it's near identical to her old one.
  • The core, classic stars of the Disney canon are forever the same age, while technology blooms and evolves around them with each passing decade. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are eighty years old, and yet still forever dating, living in separate houses, and working minimum wage jobs like young adults... with their co-stars not too far behind.
    • The comics are usually no different, but in a subversion, Don Rosa's Donald/Scrooge McDuck comics almost always take place in the late '50s, with small, subtle liberties taken with space technology and the like. It's understandable, as his crown jewel The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has a very set timeline that stays consistent with the rest of his stories (Don Rosa has even mapped out when his version of the characters were born/will die). It must be noted, however, that his predecessor and faithfully-followed inspiration Carl Barks did not feel this way, and like all interpretations of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck, froze the character's ages and let the environment around them roll with the times.
    • All Disney characters mentioned above are adults, but what do you think of Huey, Dewey, and Louie? They've been kids for 73 years now! Same goes for Monty and Ferdie (Mickey's nephews), who have been kids since FRIGGIN 1932. Funny thing to point out here is that Huey, Dewey, and Louie are actually 15 years older than their great uncle Scrooge. Oh, and they're 57 years older than their uncle Rumpus McFowl. They seem to have only aged twice, once after their introduction (in which they looked and acted much younger than they do today), and in the show Quack Pack, after which they quickly reverted back to their current ages everywhere else.
    • This is averted with the Goof Troop cast. Max and PJ were 11 in the show (1992), 14 in A Goofy Movie (1995) and 18-19 in An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000). However, in Max's limited appearances outside the Goof Troop universe (House of Mouse and the Christmas specials) he has a somewhat inconsistent age but does still seem to age in Real Time. This would put Max's, PJ's and the friend Bobby's date of birth around the early 1980s putting them as of now in their early 30's.
      • Within the universe, Goofy and Pete age as well, though they wouldn't have been born until roughly 15-20 years after they were invented.
  • The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town takes place over multiple Easters, but the kids stay the same age from year to year.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy is still described as being 10, even though he has had at least three summer vacation episodes, but then again it's just a show; we should really just relax. He's had at least one 11th birthday episode, and an anniversary of meeting his fairies in one movie, whereupon his age at the time of meeting his fairies was retconned to 9. But he's still treated as a 10-year-old.
    • A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! has Timmy as a 23-year-old. However, he's still in 5th grade but must face the choice of whether to grow up or not, specifically whether to fall in love or not, with The Big Damn Kiss to seal the deal if he does.
    • There was an episode ("Timmy's Secret Wish") where it is revealed Timmy actually wished that he — and everyone around him — would never age, and they've been living the same year for 50 years. However, everything at the end of the episode is reversed and people go back to aging.
    • There is also a TV special where Timmy discusses how TV characters stay the same age, and this is his motivation for wishing for a magical remote that takes him "into the TV".
  • Family Guy uses it and plays it for comedy, except Chris has moved up from junior high to being a freshman at Meg's high school. In an especially over-the-top example, Bonnie Swanson had been pregnant in her third trimester for nearly her entire tenure on the show, only finally giving birth in "Ocean's Three and a Half" one month away from a full decade after her debut; her unborn child is not allowed to grow up at all. Much like Stewie's aging freeze, it has not gone without some Lampshade Hanging.
    Loretta: We have had it with [Quagmire's] disrespect for women. We're petitioning the city to have him removed from the neighborhood.
    Bonnie: Yeah, I don't want to bring a new baby into the world with him running around.
    Peter: Okay, first of all, Bonnie, you've been pregnant for like six years, alright, either have the baby or don't.
    • Another example of this both subverted and played straight in the episode "Sibling Rivalry". In the episode, Peter ends up "donating" (i.e. having to hastily replace) a large amount of sperm to a sperm bank before getting a vasectomy. Over the course of the episode, enough time passes for a woman to get Peter's sperm, impregnate herself, grow the baby to full term, deliver the baby, and then for the baby to grow to be Stewie's age... except that, over this entire time period, no noticeable time passes for Stewie (who should be 1-2 years older by now).
    • Also, in "Back to the Pilot", Stewie and Brian go back in time from 2011 to 1999, where they meet themselves, despite the fact that both of them are less than ten years old (so they shouldn't have been born yet). Towards the end, a bunch of alternate-universe Brians and Stewies from 2011 show up - you'd think one pair would be a very old Brian and teenage Stewie, but no. They also go 5 years into the future and no one has aged there, either.
  • Both used and averted in The Flintstones, with Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm aged somewhat realistically throughout the years. In the series they grew from babies to toddlers in from seasons 3-6, in the TV specials of the 1970's they were young children, in The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show show they are teenagers, and in the TV specials ''I Yabba-Dabba Doo!" and "Holly Rock-A-Bye-Baby" they are adults who marry each other and have children of their own. Their parents, however, have looked exactly the same throughout the series and specials.
  • Used very oddly in Franklin. Throughout most of the series, the kids were in kindergarten, but they were finally allowed to advance to the first grade in the DVD release Back to School with Franklin, which came after the fifth season. Best not to think about this at all when it comes to either Bear's little sister Beatrice or Franklin's little sister, Harriet. In the first season, Bear's sister was born, but a couple of seasons later, he said that she was four years old. And Franklin's little sister wasn't born (yes, born, not hatched) until after the fourth season in the film Franklin and the Green Knight: The Movie. Yet by the next film, Franklin's Magic Christmas, she was already talking and walking and by the time of Back to School with Franklin, her speech had advanced and she was said to be just a year away from being able to attend preschool.
  • Despite dates in Futurama advancing with real time, Cubert, Dwight, and the Cookieville Minimum-Security orphans never grow any older. Similarly, Amy was originally meant to be in college and an intern at Planet Express. The show would lampshade this a few times, calling her a "long-term intern" in Bender's Big Score, for instance, but she was eventually allowed to graduate college.
  • The kids in Hey Arnold! never seem to age through 100 episodes and one movie, despite the fact that judging by the order of their holidays, they've been in 4th grade for 2-3 years. (Christmas->Valentine's Day->Halloween->Thanksgiving->Veterans Day->Spring Break->April Fool's Day — In that order). They age about a year and a half in the second movie, even though it takes place in the present day, invoked with beepers being obsolete and replaced by cellphones and Wi-Fi.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade and Paco never physically age throughout the show's five seasons (though their voices do change due to Children Voicing Children). The exact timeline of the show is unclear, but at least a few years have transpired according to this line from Uncle in the series finale:
    Uncle: All these years, Black has learned nothing. Magic must defeat magic!
  • Johnny Test: Lampshaded by Dukey in the episode "The Return of Super Smarty Pants" after Johnny had been taken over by his crazy Yandere pants created by his sisters in a previous episode that gave him intellectual abilities by imploring him to remember of all the times they spent together juxtaposed by flashbacks of episodes of their adventures since 2005.
    Dukey: Remember me?! We've been together for years but surprisingly haven't aged very much.
  • Mordred, the spoiled immortal son of Morgan le'Fay in Justice League, is kept an eternal child by his mother's magic, who's only willing to let him grow up once he has his perfect kingdom. Being a child for millennia has made him an Enfant Terrible of nightmarish proportions. He ended up breaking the spell, though, which caused him to become a helpless elderly man that his mother now has to take care of. She doesn't mind one bit.
  • King of the Hill offered a variation on the Trope. Bobby actually ages a year or two on the show but never hits puberty, and thus his character never really changes. This is explained in-series as Bobby being a late bloomer, but behind the scenes, this is mainly because it would ruin his usage as a comic foil to his dad Hank and also require a change in voice actors. His friends Joseph and Connie have episodes that involve the onset of puberty (although Bobby is slightly older than them), and by the last episode, everyone in Bobby's class has hit puberty aside from him.
  • Liberty's Kids takes place in the years 1773 through 1788. The main characters do not age even one year throughout the entire series. This is especially odd as notably several of the adult characters (especially Benjamin Franklin) get more and more aged as time goes on.
  • Averted by The Long Long Holiday, which takes place over 6 years. If you look closely, the child characters do get taller over the course of the series.
  • The Loud House: Despite there being three episodes set on separate April Fools' Days (April Fools Rules, Fool's Paradise, and Fool Me Twice), meaning least two years have passed in-universe, none of the cast appear any older or are stated to have aged a year. Finally averted as of Season 5 with the cast aging a year, Lori going to college, Lily going to preschool, being potty-trained, wearing clothes more consistently, and speaking full sentences, and Lincoln and his friends going to middle school.
    • However, the timeframe of its spin-off series The Casagrandes is less clear. The Season 1 Casagrandes episode "Cursed" and at least two episodes of Season 2 of The Casagrandes ("A Very Casagrandes Christmas" and "Tee'd Off") clearly take place during Season 5 of The Loud House, with references to Lori being in Fairway University, and there are two episodes set on separate Halloweens ("New Haunts" and "Curse of the Candy Goblin"), but if all of Season 2 was meant to take place in the same timeframe as Season 5 of The Loud House, then Bobby ought to be in business school, Carlota ought to be in fashion designer school, and Carlitos ought to be potty-trained.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders are a trio of fillies who were on the hunt for their cutie marks until Season 5. During that time, other foals in the series were getting theirs about Once a Season. Finally averted in "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" where all three of them finally got their cutie marks. Age wise, their voice actresses have aged, and thus Applebloom and Sweetie Belle voices have deepened, however, they still use the same foal designs they did in season 1. The series handwaves it by saying only a year has passed since episode 1. Eventually, this was subverted. The season 7 episode "Forever Filly" has Rarity trying to bond with her sister but treating Sweetie Belle as if she was a little filly. It lampshades how much the Crusaders have developed since season 1, even featuring them with slightly taller designs than in previous seasons. The CMC seem more like preteens in later seasons rather than the little kids they were in season 1.
    • The Cake twins by the season 6 episode On Your Marks they still seemed to be infants, although they no longer wore diapers like in Baby Cakes. However, as of A Hearth's Warming Tale they have been shown behaving more autonomously and singing carols (though their distinct voices aren't heard), so they do seem to be aging—at a rate somewhere between a pony's and a human's. In The Mane Thing About You, Pinkie has a line that suggests that the Cake twins are either one year old or are almost one year old. This explains why they're talking and also shows that there's been at least two years in-series since the first episode. However, "The Mane Thing About You" also plays this straight as the foals still look and (mostly) act like infants despite being toddler-aged. Zig-Zagged in the Series Finale; they're adults in the Distant Finale, but still babies in the flashback to the present despite that they should be at least over 5 by which time they'd have the distinct 5-year old design.
    • Gummy is Pinkie's pet baby crocodile. He doesn't ever get any larger no matter how many seasons go by. He might actually be an adult though, as his internal voice in the 100th episode implies. This is later subverted when the Distant Finale shows that Gummy eventually grew big enough to be ridden.
    • Dragons age differently than ponies, but Spike has spent the entire series as a "baby dragon" (which seems to be the equivalent of a 9-13-year-old). He didn't start maturing until Season 8's "Molt Down" where he molted and gained wings. He's still a baby dragon but he's an older one. The finale shows that he aged into an adult several years into the future.
  • One episode of Pinky and the Brain starts with a show where they finally figure out that the current actress playing the kid role is well past the Suspension of Disbelief age. Brain tries to further his goals by applying for the freed up role.
  • This is actual Word of God in Pocoyo:
    He is 4, and his birthday is the 14th October. But he's always 4, I don't know how he does it!
  • Pingu, his sister Pinga, and their friends did not age during the decade-plus run of the original series, carrying over to Pingu In The City.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • They were five years old in Craig McCracken's school film, the pilots, 75 series episodes in the space of five years (including an episode where they celebrate their birthday), a movie and two specials. This could be justified due to them being Artificial Humans but their peers don't age accordingly either.
    • The Powerpuff Girls (2016) reboot features the girls as seeming older than before. Their new voice actresses speak in lower voices and they act more like ten- or eleven-year-olds than five-year-olds. Despite this they don't look any older than they did at five, they are still in Ms. Keane's class despite having several school picture days, and Princess only turns six during the series.
  • In Ready Jet Go!, this trope is zig-zagged. In season 2, Mindy turns five years old and finally gets to accompany the older kids to space. However, the other kids (Jet, Sean, Sydney, Mitchell, Lillian, and Zerk) don't seem any older than they did before in season 2. Not to mention that there are two Halloween episodes, two episodes that take place at wintertime, and the annual soapbox derby is held in two episodes.
  • Rugrats: The title characters remained babies for a good decade or so.
    • Eventually, however, this was averted when they were aged up ten years for the All Grown Up! spin-off.
    • Taken to ludicrous lengths when baby Dil was introduced. If not from the sheer number of episodes, then at the very least, the number of holidays that passed before Dil was introduced would lead one to infer that close to a year must have passed from the beginning of the show. There was both a Christmas special and a Chanukah special, and a Passover special, and a summer vacation special (where they went to Las Vegas—your guess is as good as mine), and the three-episode season finale that set up Didi's pregnancy was almost pointedly set in autumn. Nine months later, maybe eight if it was a relatively brief pregnancy, Tommy is still just one year old, and after the time skip, their ages are 11 and 10. Pregnancy Does Not Work That Way!
    • However, floating timelines have their own conditions for each series, where with the Rugrats series, it is possible that the cast were stuck in the year of 1991 (when the series debuted) for 10 years, since no references to the current year or pop-culture were ever made, since the series is set in the point of view of infants and toddlers. However, one of the episodes from the later seasons implied Charlotte was a teen in the 80s and Chaz is shown on the Internet in the second film.
    • In the third movie, Chaz states that it's his and Kira's first anniversary, yet the babies don't seem to have aged a day.
    • In one episode, "No More Cookies", Angelica tries to refrain from eating her Trademark Favorite Food. Flashbacks show her age from a newborn who is practically bald, to a one-year-old baby who is awkwardly learning to walk, to a taller, more confident 2-year-old, and finally to a mischievous 3-year-old, like she is for most of the series. None of the other babies is given such a clear age progression, although the Mother's Day special briefly shows what Chuckie looked like when he was a year younger and didn't have glasses, as well as one quick scene where Phil and Lil were tinier and had less hair, similar to Tommy.
  • Scooby-Doo has the gang remain teenagers for years on end:
    • This is blatantly used in an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, where Scooby sees a Bad Future where the Monster of the Week has taken over. When he meets Scrappy and Flim Flam, they haven't aged a day. This is jarring in the fact that everyone else has: Daphne is fatter and has noticeable lines, Shaggy has grown a beard and looks older, even Bogel and Weird look older despite being ghosts.
    • Though if one takes the live action films to be canon, Velma lampshades it by saying something about Scrappy not being a puppy, that he really just has a pituitary gland problem.
    • Actually it depends on the series or movie. What's New, Scooby-Doo? and the Direct-To-Video films portray them as adults (in their early 30's to be exact). If they are either adults or teens is never consistent.
    • Scooby-Doo itself has been around for over forty years. This is lampshaded by Shaggy in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
      Shaggy: Yeah, we've been teenagers for, like, ever!
    • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is a sequel to the 1969 cartoon and depicts the characters as adults in their 20s, with Daphne's job kickstarting the plot. The sequel Scooby-Doo: Return to Zombie Island retcons them back into high schoolers.
    • Though no matter what age they are they are always called "Meddling Kids" regardless.
  • Timmy hasn't aged through the 5 seasons of Shaun the Sheep or the entire run of his own show.
  • The Simpsons is probably amongst the rulers of this trope alongside Pokémon:
    • This concept is parodied in the episode "Behind the Laughter", where in a "documentary" about the show featuring the cast as Animated Actors, Lisa complains about how she was forced to take anti-growth hormones in order to prolong the series. Homer dismisses the idea, noting, "That's ridiculous. How could I even get all five necessary drops into her cereal? ...What?"
    • The chalkboard gag for the season 12 finale, airing about 11 and a half years after the show's debut, has Bart writing "I should not be 21 by now".
    • Also brought to light in other ways; in early flashback episodes, Homer and Marge attended high school in 1974; in season 19's "That 90s Show", Marge then goes on to college almost immediately — but it's now 1994...
      • In "That 90s Show," Bart also lampshades this trope by saying he's "never heard" of The '90s. Hey, after all, this episode aired in 2008, and Bart is only ten... Just like he was in the first episode in 1989, and during the entire following decade while The Simpsons practically re-defined television!
    • One "appearance" in a K-Zone magazine featured Lisa being interviewed: when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said something along the lines of "I used to want to be a jazz musician or the President. Now I just want to be nine!"
    • In one episode, Homer muses sadly about how work is keeping him away from his kids. "I'm missing out on Bart's whole childhood. He won't be ten forever!"
    • One particularly bad case is "Lisa's First Word". The entire episode is basically one long joke about The '80s when Lisa was born. Nowadays she can't have been born until this millennium. Pretty much all the flashback episodes must be Canon Discontinuity to some degree.
      • To give you an idea of how quickly the show retcons characters' ages, Homer is singing a hit song from 1983 in the flashback to when Marge was pregnant with Lisa. In "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" one season later, she's old enough to speak full sentences in early 1984 (the year Dexy's Midnight Runners was nominated for a Grammy).
    • In one episode, Gil moves into their house for the better part of a year, as demonstrated by an Exploding Calendar stopping at each holiday. Notably absent are any of the characters' birthdays, which according to this episode must all take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    • One episode centered around reviving the "Angry Dad" character Bart created during the late '90s Internet bubble. Those exact words were stated in the show, and no hint of an explanation whatsoever was given as to why Bart's still ten years old.
      • Matt Groening once pointed out in an interview that one of best parts of doing an animated show was the kids didn't have to grow up. He cited the absurd number of times they'd done a show about Bart's tenth birthday as an example.
    • Lampshaded in the Couch Gag of the episode "Them, Robot".
    • This trope was spoofed in the Season 11 episode "Bart to the Future"; in a scene set 30 years in the future, the family is eating dinner together when Lisa (now President of the United States) asks where Maggie is. Marge reaches down and picks up Maggie, who still looks like a pacifier-sucking baby...and then adds "just like her mommy, Maggie, Sr."
    • To sum things up, if The Simpsons had been allowed to grow up, as of now (2021) Bart would be 42 years old (born 1979), Lisa would be either 39 or 40 (born 1981)note , Homer would be 68 (born 1953, which would make him 36 in 1989, but his current age has been retconned to 40), Marge would be 66 (born 1955, which would make her 34 in 1989, but her current age has been retconned to 38), and Maggie would be 33 (born 1988). In the present day, Bart's birth year is now 2011, Lisa's 2013note , Homer's 1981, Marge's 1983, and Maggie's 2020.
    • Rarely characters have ended up dying of natural causes, but this has never happened to most of the characters at the Springfield Retirement Home, such as Grandpa or Jasper, despite both of them having been in World Wars previously, nor Skinner, who served in the Vietnam War in 1966.
    • In the episode "Half-Decent Proposal" in season thirteen, Marge and Lisa realise with shock that Homer has gone to work on the West Springfield oil rigs. Grandpa, walking in, says, "What? Homer bowled a 300 game?" (which happened in a season eleven episode called "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder"). Marge, annoyed, tells Grandpa that that happened a year and a half ago. Of course, in that year and a half, the Simpson kids haven't aged a day.
    • A Robot Chicken sketch lampshades this, at least for Bart, wherein he writes repeatedly on the chalkboard "Why aren't I aging? Good God, am I a monster?".
    • In the episode where Apu and Manjula's octuplets are born, Manjula goes from trying to get pregnant for a few months to being pregnant to having octuplets and for those octuplets to be older than Maggie (they're shown to be able to speak a few words while Maggie is still silent) without any of the Simpsons kids aging a day. The same thing happened when Selma adopted her Chinese baby girl.
    • A 2015 Treehouse of Horror segment (specifically "Wanted: Dead Then Alive", where Sideshow Bob successfully kills Bart) hangs a massive lampshade on it, as Bob mentions that it took "24 years of trying to kill a 10-year-old child" before he finally succeeded.
    • When The Simpsons premiered as shorts in April, 1987, Bart and Lisa had grown up with the Soviet Union, the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction. As of the most recent episodes, they have known only a post-9/11 world and by late 2010s and early 2020s, they had grown up with smartphones and Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
    • Lisa finally averts this and turns 9 in Season 32.....but it is in the Halloween episode, so this might not be canon.
  • The boys in South Park took three seasons to go from the third grade to the fourth. The show is now in its twenty-second season and they're still in fourth grade.
    • In a Simpsons-like (Simpsons Did It!) age fix, the episode "You Have 0 Friends" shows Stan's birth year as 2001... even though there was an episode in the fifth season when the boys went to fourth grade in a post-9/11 situation.
    • Stan is shown having his tenth birthday party and refers to the other main characters as also being ten. They were eight when the show started, so they are aging, just very slowly.
  • Done rather blatantly in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Despite winning 31 years' worth of Employee of the Month Awards, Spongebob is only 28.
  • Steven Universe: The first five seasons pass without Steven or any of the other child characters getting visibly older (and their originally pubescent voice actors started pitching their voices up to sound the same even as they age), even though about two years occur in-universe. Being a Half-Human Hybrid is shown to have slowed Steven's aging, but this doesn't apply to the others. However, Steven Universe: The Movie jumps forward two years, by which point Steven (who's now sixteen), Connie, and Peedee are noticeably taller. Bizarrely, Onion (who's younger than Steven and Connie) looks exactly the same in the movie as he did pre-Time Skip, and hasn't aged in general since the start of the series (four years In-Universe).
  • Subverted in G2 of Strawberry Shortcake. There was a timeskip in 2005 where characters all received new redesigns that aged them up from vaguely seven-year-olds to vaguely preteens. The other incarnations play the trope straight.
  • VeggieTales: The child characters, including Junior Asparagus and Laura Carrot, stay roughly the same age over the course of the series, over two decades.
  • The Venture Bros. zig-zags this with the title twins, but oddly enough it seems to be at least partly justified. In season two, Dean says they are sixteen when Myra Brandish (who may or may not be reliable) claims they should be nineteen. By the middle of season four, despite getting high school diplomas from their learning beds, they are apparently not eighteen nor close to it. In season six, Dean is just starting college. Some justification may be that they've actually died several times and been replaced by clones. While this has only happened once that we know of during the show's run (allegedly fifteen times over their entire histories), it could have been more. Also, some of the clones may be younger than others. And in any case, their father has been known to wait a month or so before replacing them.

    Real Life 
  • June Havoc got this treatment from her mother, as seen in Gypsy.
  • Shirley Temple was treated like a very young child actor well into her adolescence, in that she was allowed to appear in adult roles only after her marriage at the age of seventeen. Shirley failed to gain any cinematic success as an adult and discontinued acting completely after her divorce. She then spent the remainder of her adulthood working political appointments in the U.S. Foreign Service, officially representing America in Ghana, Czechoslovakia, and the UN.
  • When Annette Funicello from the original Mickey Mouse Club entered puberty, the directors and the producers behind the show pulled many stunts to cover her developing chest. One method was positioning shorter Mousketeers in front of her, while another involved body doubles and yet another used tight close-ups on her face. They probably would have removed Funicello from the show altogether if it wasn't for her popularity among viewers.
  • The Spanish Ur-Example is actress/singer Marisol (real name Josefa Flores), poster child of the heavily censored, family-oriented cinema of the Francoist years. Discovered at 11, in 1959, she also had her breasts bound and was forced to act younger than she was when she hit puberty, although by the end of her decade-long career she'd been allowed to play a teenage ingenue. Then Franco died in The '70s and the tight censorship laws were repealed, allowing the publication of adult magazines - one of which had a whole front page nude by Flores. Much polemic was had, despite the fact that Flores was already 28.
  • Mara Wilson has been subjected to this, both by studios (she wore a binder while filming Thomas and the Magic Railroad to hide her growing breastsnote ) and by fans, which Wilson herself has lampshaded.
  • In addition to bullying, this is one of the reasons why the real Christopher Robin ended up hating Winnie the Pooh and with it his father. He grew up, but the world still wanted him to be that cute little boy that they were reading about.
  • Tara Strong has discussed this trope in interviews that ask why animated young boys are often voiced by grown women; if a show goes on for several years, a boy can maintain the voice for only a limited amount of time before his vocal chords change drastically, whereas a woman can ensure that a young male character consistently sounds prepubescent to early pubescent.
  • Melissa Joan Hart got famous as a teenage star for Clarissa Explains It All. She was legally an adult when the show ended, but played a teenager in her next sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Even when Sabrina became an adult, the subtitle 'Teenage Witch' was still retained. She's talked about how difficult it was to get seen for roles after it as, despite being in her mid-twenties, they saw her as a teenager. She finally rebounded with Melissa & Joey.


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