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Rite of Passage

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"Today the boy is dead, and in his place is a man."

Lots of cultures have a special ceremony that marks the transition from teen to adult. It's both a celebration of a major life landmark and an acknowledgment that the celebrant is a part of the mystical society of grownups. In cultures without such a ceremony, other major life landmarks are celebrated instead. May include a Meaningful Rename; if this is culture wide then it's a Rite-of-Passage Name Change.

A number of Coming of Age Stories have rites of passage. Sex as Rite-of-Passage is a subtrope. For other kinds of rites and rituals that earns you membership into a group of people, see Initiation Ceremony and its various subtropes such as the Gang Initiation Fight. Depending on the culture and/or values of the culture, a Test of Pain may be part of the ceremony.

Fictional Rites

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The decision of gender in Simoun.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series:
    • Ash's Butterfree marks several that helped develop Ash into the Pokemon Trainer we know — his first catch, first evolution, first trade (and trade back)... and the first teammate he released.
    • Apparently, Kantonian Bulbasaur gather at a proscribed time and place known as Bulbasaur's Mysterious Garden, where a Venusaur presides over their collective evolution.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair the reason Zen is receiving so many letters from noble families looking to marry one of their daughters to him is that his brother never had a beautillion ball and indicated early on he knew who he was going to marry while Zen is at an age when he could possibly still hold such a ball to look for a potential spouse so every family wanting to have a daughter marry a prince is directing their efforts at Zen.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1999), it's shown that male Sheikah get their ears pierced in a coming-of-age ceremony.
  • Black Clover: Every year, fifteen-year olds in the Clover Kingdom go to towers to receive their grimoires, which greatly enhance their magical ability. This ceremony kicks off Asta and Yuno's journeys in becoming Magic Knights.

  • The Undertale Fanfic Visiontale mentions a couple such ceremonies, the most frequently-mentioned being the Cementing. The Cementing is the event in a monster, and, later on, a human's, life which cements which trait or traits of magic they will use.
  • The Infinite Loops: Different branches of the loops have different rites that native loopers can take as a test of whether or not a looper is still a "new looper" or not. Examples include Cartoon Network loopers having to kill Black Hat and the ponies needing to defeat Nightmoon Moon by themselves.
  • The aptly named Rite of Passage has Reborn explaining Tsunayoshi that it's a mark of prestige in the Mafia to kidnap Lovina Vargas — the personification of Southern Italy who's thoroughly fed up with the tradition and bent on foiling Tsunayoshi as much as possible.

    Film — Animation 
  • In My Father's Dragon, the reason Boris stays on Wild Island is because of this; every hundred years, a young dragon must go to Wild Island to prevent it from sinking into the ocean, after which the dragon will become an "After Dragon" and gain the power of breathing fire. Unfortunately, Boris has been kept on the island for much longer than normal, with the animals forcing him to pull the island out of the sea whenever it sinks too low, and he still hasn't gotten his fire yet. Towards the end of the film, he finally figures out how to complete the rite of passage and save the island; jump into the center of the island and absorb its core.
  • Turning Red:
    • Played for Laughs with the 4*Town concert, as 13-year-old Mei proclaims that going to the concert will turn her and her friends into true women.
    • Played straighter with the red moon ritual that seals the red panda spirit; every one of Mei's female maternal relatives has gone through it, and they view it as a necessary part of growing up.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Flash Gordon (1980): A young Arborean man is initiated into adulthood through the "test of manhood", which involves sticking your arm into a stump and hoping you don't get stung by the monster inside, because doing so will bring on agonizing pain, violent insanity, and finally death. Unfortunately for the young man we see, he fails the test and is given a Mercy Kill after the Wood Beast stings him. Prince Barin later tries to murder Flash Gordon by forcing him to repeatedly stick his hand into the Wood Beast's stump. Flash f eigns having been stung and begs to a Mercy Kill, only to disarm Barin once he gets close. The scene is notable for the sheer Fridge Logic of it; whilst probably inspired by real-life jungle tribe rites where a youth allows himself to be stung by venomous insects to prove his toughness, the sheer luck-based nature of the test and the deadliness of the Wood Beast's venom makes it an impractical rite of passage to say the least.
  • Star Wars:
    • We're given a glimpse of what an Apprentice needs to go through in order to become a Jedi: in the The Empire Strikes Back, Luke makes a journey into a cave and strikes down Darth Vader, but is surprised to find that the face beneath the Dark Lord's mask is his own. The Expanded Universe explores this in detail.
    • In The Phantom Menace Amidala has to prove her capability as queen and even wears a debutante ball-gown like dress for the parade scene.
  • The Warriors has a gang whose members must first get punched out without flinching or screaming.
  • The Na'vi of Avatar climb to the top of the floating mountains where the banshees live, and subdue and bond one of them, to become hunters and adults.
  • Star Trek: Generations features a ritual where the Enterprise-D crew impersonate 19th century British Naval officers aboard a holodeck simulation of a wooden ship, charging Worf in a staged court martial with "performing above and beyond the call of duty on countless occasions," and "having earned the admiration and respect of the entire crew," before Picard "sentences" him with promotion to Lieutenant-Commander. Worf then had to jump from a plank to grab an officer's hat on a rope above his head. Riker comments to Picard that no one else had succeeded in doing so before. When Worf succeeds, Picard answers, "If there's one thing I've learned, Number One, is never underestimate a Klingon."
    "Computer, remove plank!"
  • 300: The young king Leonidas has to kill a wolf with his bare hands and bring back its fur. Indeed, all Spartans must pass for hard training in their short childhood.
  • In Big Game, in Oskari's family, every male member must hunt down a big animal (deer, moose, bear) the night they turn thirteen, proving that they are now not boys, but men.

  • Alexei Panshin's SF novel Rite Of Passage. 14-year-old children on a starship must go through a Trial before being considered adults: surviving on a hostile colony planet for 30 days with minimal equipment.
  • In The Giver, every year there is a ceremony where all the kids in the Community "graduate" to the next age, with certain ages having important milestones. The plot kicks off when Jonas and his friends become Twelves, meaning that they're assigned a career to train for (with Jonas being apprenticed to the Receiver of Memories).
    • To a much lesser extent his sister Lily becomes an Ten, meaning she will be allowed to a own a bicycle; she's also apparently a year away from being allowed to stop wearing hair ribbons (Nine).
  • In Valhalla by Ari Bach, the action begins shortly after the protagonist, Violet, passes her "Adulthood Test."
  • In the Farseers trilogy, mention is made of a ceremony.
  • In Dune, Fremen must be able to steer a sandworm before they are considered adults.
  • In the Deryni works, as in Real Life, people experience a number of these at different ages:
    • The Deryni Naming ritual is usually done when a child reaches the age of reason and can distinguish right and wrong (usually at around seven or eight, just when Catholic children first go to confession and take Communion). Morgan and Duncan are actually only four when they are Named in Childe Morgan, but they demonstrate the requisite knowledge of right and wrong already.
    • Brion's fourteenth birthday in Childe Morgan. Donal pierces his son's ear the night before and uses the blood to prime the Eye of Rom; at court on the day itself, Brion is presented to major vassals as the recognized heir to the throne and oaths of fealty are taken.
    • The knightly accolade when given in peacetime to squires who've completed their training. Morgan hangs this lampshade when Kelson asks about the urgency of learning to cope with ''merasha'':
    "Because you aren't a child any more, my prince," Morgan said a little sharply. "Because in three days' time, you'll be knighted. For those who never wear a crown, that's the official seal of manhood. It makes you fair game for those who might have spared you before because of your youth—especially as your talents become more widely known. When you go on progress, and especially when you meet the Torenthi legates in Cardosa, you'll be particularly at risk."
  • In the Liveship Traders books, girls aged thirteen or fourteen "come out" (no, still not like that) at the summer ball, which is pretty much a debutante ball. After this, they are expected to act (and allowed to dress) like adult women.
  • In The Namesake, Bengali infants participate in a ritual called the annaprasan. Their parents or elders hand them a plate filled with a pen, money, or dirt, which represents a writer, businessman, or agriculturalist, respectively. Depending on what the infant reaches toward, they are said to follow that path. However, the protagonist Gogol cries during his annaprasan, while his sister laughs and plays with all the items. This foreshadows their roles as adults.
  • In A Wizard of Earthsea, the protagonist, then called Duny, goes through a rite called "Passage" when he turns thirteen. This involves symbolically giving the name that he used as a child back to his mother (though his is dead, so his aunt stands in) and then walking "nameless and naked" through a river. On the other side he is met by the mage Ogion the Silent, who tells him that his True Name is "Ged." From that point on he makes up a different name (in this case, Sparrowhawk) for people to call him, while his True Name is a secret between him, Ogion and anyone whom he chooses to reveal it to.
  • In the Women of the Otherworld series, witches much undergo a special ceremony after their first period, but before their second to unlock their full power. Failure to do so leaves the witch with the same power levels she had as a child. Unfortunately for Paige, in Dime Store Magic, she learns that the rites she was taught was actually a nerfed version of the real thing. The clear implication was that, somewhere along the way, the witch elders intentionally altered the ceremony to ensure none of their number could grow too powerful, hence bringing unwanted attention on the rest. She uses the real thing on her ward, Savannah.
  • In the novel Nation by Terry Pratchett when a boy comes of age he is left on an island and must construct a canoe and get back to his village, after which he is believed to receive his adult soul. Mau is on his way home when the tsunami hits, which is why he's the only survivor.
    • Nation has a notable twist to this trope. While many similar 'rites of manhood' stress self-reliance, Mau's rite stresses community: he discovers that the tribe left behind tools to complete his task, along with a large stone bearing the inscription, "Men help other men."
  • Quite a few in Warrior Cats. Becoming an apprentice marks the end of childhood; getting a warrior name is a recognition of adulthood and the clan's trust. Becoming a mentor is also an awaited event, showing the clan's trust in the wisdom and responsibility of a warrior, and allowing a cat to become a deputy.
  • Young centaurs in The Echorium Sequence must travel to a specific canyon and extract a herdstone (magical, invisibility-granting green stone) from the rock to officially join the herd.
  • Ian Fleming's James Bond novels (and later the movies) establish that in order to become a double-0 agent, a spy must first complete two assigned kills. The books and films are ambiguous as to whether these must be the person's first two kills ever (Casino Royale (2006) indicates these to be Bond's first kills).
  • In the Legend of Jig Dragonslayer trilogy, all potential heirs to the throne of Adenkar must complete a quest of some sort to prove their worth to the previous ruler. Since it's generally believed that the more impressive the quest, the more likely the quester will be named the heir, they all tend to be insanely dangerous. As a result of this, only four of the King's eight children returned from their quests alive, and two of them returned insane, resulting in their later deaths. The Goblin rite is simpler: young Goblins are taken some distance away from their home cave and abandoned. If they make it back, they have proven that they have learned enough about surviving and navigating the tunnels to not be a liability to the tribe, and thus are made full members of it. If they don't, then the liability has removed itself without endangering the tribe.
  • Warrior Scarlet: After each fifteen-year-old initiate kills a wolf single-handed, the Feast of New Spears involves the Men's Side dressing up in animal masks (and only animal masks), going out behind the old grave mound, getting a bunch of tattoos, and seeing the face of god.
  • In Of Men and Monsters by William Tenn, Eric the Only must steal something from the gigantic alien monsters, in whose walls his tribe lives, in order to become a man and earn an adult name.
  • In the Scholarly Magics series, each student witch or wizard stands a private vigil near the end of their education, if they last that long, in which they see a vision of something relevant to their powers and/or future, and gain extra magical ability.
  • Downplayed in the Imperial Radch side novel Provenance, where the Hwaean people hold a sort of debutante ball in which they choose an adult name and declare their gender identity. One of Ingray's friends is seen as a bit immature for delaying it, but she's still able to live and work as an adult without trouble.
  • N. K. Jemisin:
    • The Dreamblood Duology: Downplayed with the Banbarra women, who just gift each other jewellery to celebrate their first menstruation, first sexual experience, first child, and menopause. One woman mentions that the men have a more elaborate rite where they "go off into the desert and do something with their penises", but is indifferent to the details.
    • The Inheritance Trilogy: Women in the Darre Matriarchy have to survive alone in the wilderness, then face a man in ritual combat, with the winner controlling the sexual encounter that follows. Yeine, the heiress to the throne, makes a hash of hers by fighting the strongest warrior, losing, and killing him with a hidden knife.
  • In the Arthur Slade novel Tribes, Percy's much-traveled anthropologist father took him on a woodland camping trip to live off the land and impart some paternal wisdom on becoming a man, adapting a tribal coming-of-age rite that he appreciated. Percy dryly notes his relief that his parents had pre-empted the ritual circumcision that traditionally occurs on the trip.
  • It's mentioned in Tailchaser's Song that cats celebrate adulthood with the Initiation to the Hunt (AKA, the Hunt-Singing). An elder sings a special song to a cat once they reach full adulthood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
    • Klingons who reach the Age of Ascension must walk through a gauntlet of warriors who jab him with pain sticks.
    • Ferengi sell off their childhood treasures, which gives them the necessary capital to start their business ventures.
  • Example from Community, according to Pierce, being punched in the face is one for men.
  • The third season of Lost Girl gives us the Dawning. It's a biological thing as much as a bar mitzvah. Pass, and you move on. Fail, and you devolve into a monster.
  • As the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Helpless" reveals, a Slayer who reaches the age of 18 is secretly drugged in order to be Brought Down to Normal, then forced to fight against a vampire. (This evokes a bit of Fridge Logic: sure, you want a Slayer to be as strong and resourceful as possible, but since they're usually "called" younger than that, why let them have the job for several years before bothering to test them?)
  • Frasier:
    • Daphne tells Frasier that her eight brothers had one of these where they all tried to peek at her in the shower. This "tradition" made Daphne extremely defensive of her privacy.
      Frasier: Dear god, all eight of them?
      Daphne: Well, except for my brother Billy, the ballroom dancer. He never peeked at me. Though... he did peek at my brother Nigel.
    • Shortly after marrying Niles, Daphne decides she's had enough of the chaos that happens whenever he and Frasier host a party so she's going to host the next one. Naturally her dinner party ends up being just as chaotic as any of the brothers' parties. As the guests flee Frasier consoles Daphne by telling her she's now officially one of the Crane family.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): After she's accepted into the Emond's Field Women's Circle, Egwene is then shoved by Nynaeve into the river as a kind of ritual test. She's swept downstream by the waters, but is uninjured.
  • Deputy: Hollister's daughter Maggie has a quinceañera since she's a Latina along with his wife, her mom Paula, which they're shown making the preparations for ahead of time. In the last episode when it's performed he misses a large part of the event as he's saving an informant from being murdered.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Forgotten Realms:
    • Mystara: In the nation of Karameikos, the Shearing is a custom in which teenagers leave their parents' home for a year to prove themselves capable of independence. As it's not intended to be a difficult challenge, this may just mean moving in with a relative or neighbor and working at an entry-level job that the Sheared teen's parents covertly arranged to have available for them. The name "Shearing" refers to how the bottom hem of such a teen's cloak is ceremonially cut short to symbolize their new status.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Mardu Horde are a Proud Warrior Race who traditionally earn a "warname" through an act of glory in battle. One legendary character killed a dragon singlehandedly and took her grandmother's warname Alesha, coming out as Transgender at the same time.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Younger members of the Snakebites Orks are initiated into the clan through a rite of passage where they allow a venomous snake to bite them and then suck out the poison.
    • Attilan clansmen go through a coming-of-age ritual at adulthood where long wounds are slashed into their cheeks and rubbed with ash to form permanent scars, which the new warriors wear with pride.
    • The Catachan Jungle Fighters have a number of life-threatening rites used to induct people into adulthood, the military, or various command ranks. For instance, some regiments require recruits to slay dangerous predators or to race through groves of mind-controlling brainleaf trees, while others require prospective sergeants to snatch a flower from the middle of the ferocious Venus mantrap plants.
    • Saim-Hann's clan-based society has a number of such rituals, such as engaging in a high-velocity race against a clan elder to win the right to ride a jetbike into battle.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Hunter: The Vigil: Aspirants of the Bear Lodge are required to join a hunting party, track down a werewolf, slay it, and bring back a trophy of their kill. If they succeed, they become members of the Lodge. If something goes wrong, they're probably not going to come back alive.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Every werewolf who undergoes the First Change is bundled together with other fresh changes to undergo the Rite of Passage that will allow them to be recognized by a tribal totem and become full-fledged members of the Garou Nation. After earning the first rank of Cliath, werewolves are expected to undergo solo challenges based on their Auspice and/or Tribe (e.g., felling a powerful Wyrm creature for a Get of Fenris Ahroun, negotiating peace between hostile factions for a Child of Gaia Philodox) to further climb in rank, earning more esteem from the spirits and a greater place of prominence in the Nation.

  • The Vortixx race in BIONICLE must climb "The Mountain", one pair at a time. Said large rock is actually a sentient but immobile animal that constantly tries to kill those who climb it, and eats them to grow even larger. If both Vortixx make it over the mountain, they're given mildly important roles... but if only one of them makes it back, they're given positions of real power, having proven themselves ruthless enough to sacrifice their friends for their own benefit. Roodaka even went through the passage twice, just to prove how much of a badass she is (not that she really needed to).

    Video Games 
  • Born Under the Rain: Rashida calls Masika's first drink, sip, of alcohol as a rite of passage for "bandits like us".
  • Carto: On the Island, when someone comes of age on their fifteenth birthday, a boat arrives on the north dock for them. They must sail away and never return, setting up a home on the first island they find.
  • The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark: The Dooley family has a traditional ceremony marking the transition into adulthood, tied in with their custodianship of a powerful Mineral MacGuffin. Part of the plot involves Patrick Dooley, the game's co-protagonist, going through the ceremony himself — twenty years late, because his branch of the family lost touch with its traditions when they emigrated to America and a letter from the old country Dooleys inviting him to come and take part was mislaid by his grandmother for years.
  • Mass Effect has several:
    • The Turians undergo a period of compulsory military service to earn citizenship starting at 15, assuming they are of able mind and body. Once completed, they can choose to either remain in the military or become a civil servant and join the reserves.
    • The Quarians have the Pilgrimage, in which a quarian who is of age leaves the Flotilla and strikes out on their own across the galaxy. They are only allowed to return once they have discovered something of value they can bring back that will enrich the fleet and the lives of those on it. What they bring back varies enormously: Tali'Zorah brings back information on the Geth found during her time with Shepard, which is of vital military importance to the quarians, but other minor quarian characters are mentioned as bringing something as mundane as a ship model for their prospective captain. Tali even joins Shepard’s ship and crew by giving the Alliance (human military) something very valuable — the evidence to get a rogue State Sec operative disbarred.
    • Mass Effect 2 introduces the Krogan rite to establish themselves as a true warrior. It can be completed solo, or the young krogan may convince one or two already established warriors to help them (called a "krantt"). Said rite (or at least the Clan Urdnot variant) consists of three parts, each part requires the activation of a totem which summons different animals to fight and each animal represents a different threat in the history of the krogan. The first part summons waves of Varren for you to kill, symbolizing how the krogan became the top species on a Death World. The second part has the insect-like Klixen who represent how the krogan were introduced to the galaxy to fight the Rachni (whom the klixen resemble). The last part sets off the Thresher Maw Hammer, which naturally enough summons a Thresher Maw. This represents the krogan's fate under the Genophage, an enemy that cannot be fought, one you can only try to survive. You must survive for five minutes while the most dangerous predator in the galaxy tries to kill you. If you get out alive, you're in. If you kill the Thresher Maw, this is also acceptable, and is considered a mark of enormous skill. (The only Urdnot to manage this in the past thousand years or so is Wrex)
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Two Krogan colonists note that, since Andromeda has no thresher maws, they're going to have to find a new rite of passage. Conversation turns to the giant, Nigh-Invulnerable, mechanical worm-thing just out on New Tuchanka's doorstep, and whether they can get its attention somehow.
  • Dragon Age also has two: city elves are considered children until they get married (which is considered a joyous occasion in the alienage, when everyone can put down their work, forget their worries, and just party for a day), and Dalish elves are considered children until they receive their vallaslin, ritualized face tattoos of the symbol of one of their gods ( Or rather, the personal symbol of the immortal godlike nobles that once enslaved them, as Dragon Age: Inquisition reveals.) The Dalish ritual is more complicated and difficult than the city elves; the ink for the ritual itself is considered sacred and implied to be made by mixing in the subject's own blood, and requires absolute silence during the application of the tattoos—even so much as crying out in pain is taken as a sign that the subject is not yet ready for adulthood, meaning they will have to wait until the leader of the tribe deems them ready to receive the tattoos.
  • In Dragon Quest VI, the heroes must help Prince Holse complete his Rite Of Passage by acting as his bodyguards. While he starts out a Dirty Coward, the heroes' courage really effects and inspires him, enabling the rite to bring out the best in him and prove his ability to succeed his father as future ruler.
  • Dragon Quest VIII, on the other hand, has Prince Charmles, who also needs help to complete his rite: obtaining the heart of an Argon Lizard. Unlike Holse, Charmles quickly proves himself to be a complete and utter Jerkass, as well as an Entitled Bastard who learns nothing from the rite. Although he appears to get away with this at first, his disrespect for the ritual comes back to haunt him in the long run, as it eventually costs him his right to the throne and to marry Princess Medea. To twist the knife even further, the secret ending reveals that Charmles's failure to complete the rite directly resulted in his long-lost cousin doing so instead.
  • Saga Frontier 2: For future rulers of the Finney Kingdom, there's the Firebrand ceremony, where the child holds a special sword which will glow to indicate the presence of magic. (In fact, Gustave XIII's failure to induce magical glowing is what kicks off the plot to his entire character arc.)
  • Fallout: New Vegas: The Great Khans are required to take a beating from the other members of the tribe before becoming a full fledged raider, and the New Canaanites (What Mormons became in the Fallout 'verse) learn how to shoot with a .45 Auto Pistol.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Young Rito must journey to the peak of Dragon Roost Island's mountain to receive a scale from the dragon Valoo, the sky spirit who guards the island. It explicitly allows them to grow their wings and implicitly makes them grow taller very quickly (the latter indicated by Prince Komali being noticeably taller after getting his scale). The first major dungeon arc requires Link to find a way of calming down the suddenly rampaging Valoo in part because this means the Rito can't get those scales anymore.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The three Korok Trials that Link is tasked to undergo, which require him to find his way along winding paths through a haunted forest amidst varying dangers and obstacles, are normally taken by the Koroks themselves as a way of proving that they've reached maturity.
  • Peblito: Rock and Roll has the titular protagonist go through the Foraging Festival to gather enough food for their respective households so he can take his first steps into adulthood.
  • In Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, CJ's family has a tradition where at the age of fifteen children are kicked out of the house and not allowed to return until they scavenge a treasure more valuable than the last generation's. CJ's father scavenged a massive Lens, so she has her heart set on retrieving an even larger one from the Runebarrows. The Lens he showed her was a fake passed down through the family. The real intent is to let the children explore the world and find what they value most. CJ decided New Naveah was her treasure, while her father had discovered his wife during his rite.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court: For regional fairies making their own clothing marks coming of age. They also get their names as a part of the ritual.
  • Muted: When a Severin woman in the Matriarch's line turns 21, she must complete a ritual on the first full moon (usually with her twin sister). This ritual involves summoning a demon and making a deal for a rich husband in exchange for whatever the demon wants. The plot kicks off when Camille summons a plant demon (Dendro) during her ritual, instead of the intended Severin demon.
  • Oglaf: Subverted in one comic where the supposed rite of passage is just an excuse to trick children into getting killed by a venomous bog beast, and refusing to take part passes a Secret Test of Character... and the prize contains a concealed bog beast.
  • Tales of the Questor has the Choosing Ceremony, where the youth of the village place their hand on the village Sooth Stone and announce what profession they intend to pursue. The stone glows blue when the child speaks truthfully and sincerely. When Quentyn announces his intention to be the Village Questor, the results are rather spectacular...

    Web Original 
  • Bosun's Journal: The riderfolk and mountpeople use a first-ride ceremony where two adolescents, one of each species, craft their first saddle and, when finished, swear a vow of companionship, mount up, and tear off into the open plains.

    Western Animation 
  • The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear" introduced the kahs-wan, an ordeal in which Vulcan children must survive in the desert for 10 days by themselves with no supplies to prove their courage and strength. For young Spock, it becomes even more when his companion sehlat, I-Chaya, who had followed him against his wishes, was mortally wounded and the attending vet could only give Spock two choices, an extended life in agony or putting him out of his misery; Spock made the mature and logical choice to put him down.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Young boys in the Southern Water Tribe go thorugh a rite known as "ice-dodging" when they reach the age of 14. The rite taker has to navigate a boat through a field of ice with their father's help as well as two trusted companions. Sokka never had a chance to do this, since his dad Hakoda was away fighting in the war, but upon meeting Bato in the Earth Kingdom, he performs a variation of the ceremony with jagged rocks, with Bato standing in for Hakoda and Katara and Aang assisting.
  • The Green family in Big City Greens has a special family rite of passage where the most recent family member once they come of age, has to find the toughest critter there is, wrestle it, and pin it on the count of three before the sun sets, so they can officially earn the Green family name. Those who fail to do such won't be a Green anymore and will have to change their last names to something else.
  • Every Lord of the ThunderCats has to endure a series of trials before they can be crowned. For Lion-O this meant five different trials spread over five episodes.
  • For the wolves in Rocko's Modern Life, the rite of passage is to bring an elk home for dinner. Heffer, being an adopted steer, misinterprets this and brings over a living, female elk home as a date.
  • Taz-Mania: Francis X. Bushlad's tribe has three options, equally valid: either the ancestral strategy of slaying a mighty and dangerous beast, or the slightly more contemporary options of buying out a major corporation in a hostile takeover, or amassing a stock portfolio worth $500,000.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars features the "Gathering" during which Jedi younglings find and harvest their first lightsaber-crystals in the Temple-cavern on Illum. To find their crystals, each must face and come over their flaws and short-comings, such as selfishness, fear, lack of self-confidence, or lack of faith.
    • Meanwhile the 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars series had Anakin and Obi-Wan interrupting a rite of passage for a young Nelvaanian, the chief's son, was battling a giant creature called a Horax, and Anakin killed it.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, the residents of Monster Isle often send their residents to attack Townsville as a trial for heroes, with anyone who survives a beating from the girls and making it home before the night is over considered a hero among their populace.
  • Piper: For a baby sandpiper, leaving the nest and foraging for clams. The little sandpiper eventually finds an even better way to do it.

Real Life Rites

    Anime and Manga 
  • Paraponera stings are used for coming of age rituals by Brazilian indigenous people. In Arachnid, Alice has her awakening moment upon resisting the Test of Pain from Setsuna torturing her with Dinoponera venom-coated needles but Setsuna herself can't handle being impaled in the leg by her and runs away in tears. Then Setsuna gets raped by zombies, barely recovers in Blattodea and the story spins that into part of her rite of passage too, with the narrator calling the rites of the Sateré-Mawé people a more valid way to gain empathy for the pain of other people than whatever's being done by "civilized" folks in Japan.
  • The "red beans and rice" meal is referenced in Kodocha when Sana reassures an adult that she's old enough to know shame.
  • In the Ai Yori Aoshi manga, after Aoi and Kaoru go through Their First Time, Miyabi hands Aoi a "red beans and rice" box.
  • In the Karin manga, when Anzu starts to mature in a grown-up vampire, Karin's friend mistakes it for something else and excitedly asks if the Maaka sisters have celebrated with "red beans and rice".

    Comic Books 
  • During Dan Slott's brief run on The Thing, Ben Grimm chose to re-affirm his Jewish heritage. His rabbi allowed him to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah on the thirteenth anniversary of the rocket flight that first turned him into the Thing. No word on whether or not this involved a circumcision.


    Films — Live-Action 
  • Sixteen Candles is all about a girl's really... wacky sixteenth birthday. Her parents have forgotten the date since her older sister's getting married (though they apologize when they do remember), she tries to deal with it, a very weird younger student attaches 'self to her, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Jezebel, Bette Davis scandalizes everyone at the debutante ball by showing up in a red dress instead of virginal white.
  • The new Starsky & Hutch movie has the heroes pretending to be a performer at a Bar Mitzvah in order to infiltrate a suspect's home.
  • In Keeping the Faith, the preparation leading up to a Bar Mitzvah is shown as well as the Mitvah itself.
  • It (2017): Stanley is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah — partly at the urging of his father, an image-obsessed rabbi — at the same time as he and his friends are struggling to confront the titular Eldritch Abomination that stalks their town, which proves to be a much more formative experience in growing up. In a deleted scene, he uses the ceremony to chew out his father and every other adult in his life for their apathetic selfishness.

  • In Memoirs of a Geisha, a young apprentice would have to sell her 'Mizuage' as a rite of passage.
  • The Royal Diaries has Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba presented at a coming-of-age dance to show her eligibility to marry and Anacaona: Golden Flower has a hair cutting ceremony to show that she has become a woman.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Trish De La Rosa's Quinceañera happened in the Austin & Ally episode "Club Owners & Quinceañeras".
  • A debutante ball happened on Gilmore Girls.
  • Spike TV's Manswers once did a "what rite of adulthood is most likely to kill you?" segment focusing on these kinds of ceremonies. (Answer: strapping a bamboo tube filled with fireworks to your crotch and hoping you don't lose a limb or worse.)
  • For Kunta Kinte's tribe in Roots (1977), there is a series of rituals that include wrestling, hunting, and at the end, genital mutilation.
  • Stuck in the Middle: The Hispanic Diaz family celebrates Georgie's Quinceañera in "Stuck in the Quinceañera". The same occurs with Harley's in the Grand Finale, "Stuck in Harley's Quinceañera".
  • Pensacola: Wings of Gold’s penultimate second season episode shows the Marine fighter pilot trainees completing “night traps” - carrier landings at night, and thereby earning their gold wings.
  • The Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Quinceañera" revolves around Alex switching bodies with Theresa on her Quinceañera day when she learns her mother never had a Quinceañera herself.

    Western Animation 
  • In Kim Possible, Ron was upset when he discovered that his rabbi forgot to sign off on his Bar Mitzvah certificate, fearing that it meant he wasn't really a man. Hilarity (along with an Aesop) ensues.
  • An episode of King of the Hill has one of Hank's co-workers planning a Quinceañera for his daughter. Bobby complains that he doesn't get a rite of passage like that, so he comes up with the idea of a "Sweet Fourteeno".
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! deals with one of Arnold's friends, Harold, going through his Bar Mitzvah.

    Real Life 
  • In general, many cultures consider a girl's first period to be the transition into womanhood, and commemorate it in various ways. Boys have a more diverse set of ceremonies, probably because there's no single biological change that so obviously marks them as adults.
    • For millennial boys who grew up wearing tight briefs and sleeping in pajamas, exchanging them for boxer shorts as underwear and sleepwear was a rite of passage for them as they started to change in middle school locker rooms and attended sleepovers.
  • Japan has the Coming of Age Day for reaching twenty and the eating of Red Beans And Rice for a girl's first menarche.
  • America (and other parts of the western world) has the Sweet Sixteen; less formally, getting your driver's license and/or first car (representing freedom and responsibility), turning the age of consent, losing your virginity, turning 21 (or being old enough to legally drink), and graduating from high school and/or college are also seen as major steps towards adulthood.
    • Patton Oswalt has joked that the proper ceremony for turning 18, being the year one gains the ability to vote and/or buy a gun, should be to shoot a bullet through a ballot.
    • First job leading to the first major purchase with one's own money (these days, almost invariably a smartphone) also counts.
  • In Finland, serving in the Army.
    • Also Israel, though generally not for non-Jews or the Haredi (whose rough equivalent would be entering a yeshiva).
  • Women of high society mark their first formal debut in high society with debutante balls. The Pimped-Out Dress is an important part of this. Also called a coming-out party.
  • Latin American girls get the Fifteen Years ("Quinceañera" in the USA, "XV Años" elsewhere) and the Catholic rituals (see below).
  • Cultural and Ethnic Jews have the Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah at the age of 13, to symbolize that the celebrant is old enough to understand the Torah (the Books of the Law). Being roped in as a performer at a Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah is seen as one of those jobs you have to do to make ends meet, but not a dignified gig, just barely above being a birthday party clown.
    • It varies. Bat mitzvah ceremonies can happen at 12. (A bat mitzvah is for a girl, a bar mitzvah is for a boy.)
  • Younger Jews usually receive their first siddur after learning to read Hebrew, at anytime between the end of kindergarten and the beginning of fourth grade.
  • Catholics have Confirmation, to, well, confirm that the baptism they were given as infants has led to becoming a full member of the church. Unlike some of the others, it isn't tied to a specific birthday; it usually happens somewhere between eighth and twelfth grade depending on when the bishop can come. Other Christian denominations have similar rites.
    • Confirmation is a subversion actually. While it is the last of the Sacraments of Initiation, it is not a coming of age ceremony. Confirmation is validly administered on infants and a priest will do so if the child is in imminent danger of death. It is also administered to adult converts of any age.
    • First Holy Communion is a big deal for Catholics. It comes after a young Catholic's first confession, so it boils down to a celebration of the formation of a child's conscience and the development of his or her ability to tell right from wrong. It usually takes place when a child is in second grade, but in some parishes, things are spread out more so that first confessions take place for second graders in the spring, and they receive their first communion as third graders during the following fall.
  • Some Protestant churches hold Bible presentation ceremonies for children.
  • Stone Age societies (real or fictional) are presented as having ridiculously frightening rites of passage involving stinging insects, piercing of nether regions, psychosomatic drugs, and so on and so forth.
  • For many Western teenagers, a first job is a rite of passage. The job is often babysitting (usually exclusively female), life-guarding, waiting tables, or other menial service-type jobs.
  • Many military institutions have this as a welcome-of-sorts. Even if they dont have it, most of the "last tests" that must be passed in order to be accepted look like this. Also, most of the time, they're not pretty.
    • A good example of the latter is the British SAS acceptance tests. Part one is called "The Hill Phase", which takes place in winter, in a mountain rangenote  and starts with you carrying 35 pounds of gear (not including your food, water, and weapons) and then increases that load by five pounds a day, so that by the last day you are carrying 55 pounds (again, plus water, food and weapons). It's the equivalent of doing six marathons over five days, in mountainous terrain, carrying all that gear, and with nothing but your own determination to keep you moving; it is sufficiently gruelling that it has been known to kill the occasional applicant, all of whom are required to be front-line fit soldiers in the first place. And the last part? You have to resist interrogation for 36 hours straight.
    • Many navies have a ceremony for sailors crossing the Equator for the first time. note 
    • The US service academiesnote  all have their own versions of "Recognition," days-long physical and mental gauntlets that must be completed for freshmen to be considered full members of the academy's cadet corps.
  • An almost universal rite is when you get your first own set of keys, showing that your parents trust you both to be home alone, and to assume partial responsibility for the safety of your home.
  • Some people consider being bullied at school as something you have to deal with and learn how to defend yourself instead of always running to an adult for help and by standing up for yourself, you grow up and learn to be independent when being threatened. This may have been fine decades ago, but with the rise of social networking and the aggression in children and teenagers rising, adults can't brush off bullying as a rite of passage anymore.
  • The first solo flight is a major milestone for pilots. In the military flight community, the tradition extends to include being thrown in a dunk tank after landing.
    • A more formal version for naval aviators is the Winging Ceremony for pilots who successfully land their airplanes on an aircraft carrier at night. Only upon completing a night carrier landing is a naval aviator awarded his/her gold wings.
  • In the world of academia, having one's work published for the first time is something of a professional Rite Of Passage, as is receiving a degree of whatever level.
  • In some parts of the United States, being asked by one's parents to call them by their first names is a Rite Of passage for both parent and offspring; it's a formal recognition that the child is now an adult, but it's also a tearful recognition for both that the child is now old enough that the parent can no longer protect them, no matter how much the parent might wish they could.
  • The Masaai tribe of Africa uses circumcision as a rite of passage. The process includes giving away everything they own and wearing black clothes as part of the transition. The boy must also kill a lion. Lion hunting is now banned in that part of Africa, but boys usually avoid punishment during the right of passage. Then the circumcision happens, and is endured in silence. The healing process of 4-6 months is when the black clothing is worn.
  • Common among Native American tribes. Things like vision quests and various methods of proving prowess, and traveling into the woods alone without food have been common types.


Video Example(s):


Ten-Year Tobin Retreat

For their tenth birthday, Tobin boys are sent on a retreat to test their wilderness survival skills. For Moon's retreat, however, Beef decided that, since he already knows how to survive in the wild, they will instead test their survival skills in the city.

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Main / RiteOfPassage

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