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The Hero's Birthday

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"A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, is this young man's birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!"
— The very first page of Homestuck

Good Morning, Crono! Happy birthday! Come downstairs and open your presents!

This trope is when the story more or less begins with the announcement that it's the main character's birthday. Often it isn't just any birthday, either; it's the day the hero finally reaches adulthood.

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Why is this? Well... birthdays represent the start of a new chapter in one's life, which is suitably fitting for the beginning of the story itself. And it's a convenient way to establish how old a character is.

This can let the story start off with people deciding that it's time for the hero to learn an important secret about themselves. Or a mysterious character giving a bizarre, plot-related birthday present, amongst other things.

Tends to overlap with some of the other Birthday Tropes, especially Dangerous 16th Birthday. A subtrope of Liminal Time. Doubles as Easing into the Adventure. Contrast with A Birthday, Not a Break, where we only learn it's the hero's birthday after the event. For the literal day of the hero's birth, see A Hero Is Born.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon:
    • In the anime, trainers are able to get their license and begin their journey on their tenth birthday.
    • The Ruby/Sapphire saga of Pokémon Adventures begins on Ruby's 11th birthday, when he and his mother move to join his father in Hoenn and he runs away from home. Also inverted: the same saga ends 80 days later, on Sapphire's 11th birthday.
  • Nurse Angel Ririka SOS begins on the heroine's 10th birthday - which is also the beginning of her career as a Magical Girl Warrior. It's a good day for her.
  • While she isn't the main character and there's a six month Time Skip immediately afterwards, the events of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's are set in motion on Hayate's ninth birthday at the stroke of midnight when she becomes master of the Book of Darkness.
  • While the day of Naruto's birth is already a dramatic and fateful one, his 17th birthday happens at the climax of the Fourth Shinobi World War. He and Team 7 end the war roughly at the same day and become the heroes of the war.
  • D.N.Angel opens on Daisuke's 14th birthday, when he inherits the legendary phantom thief Dark as his alter ego.
  • Pretty Cure:

    Comic Books 
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld: On her seventeenth birthday, Amy's mother makes good on her promise to take her to their real home. Little did Amy know was that her real home was on Gemworld and that she is a princess of House Amethyst.
  • Hide begins with Kevin celebrating his birthday with his family.
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker opens with invitations being sent out and ladies commissioning dresses made for the ball celebrating Sebastian's sixteenth birthday.
  • Scion kicks off with Ethan's eighteenth birthday wherein he is thrust into combat against Bron.
  • Supergirl: Being Super begins on Kara Danvers 16th birthday, right before an earthquake—triggered artificially by an individual highly interested in harnessing her powers—hits her hometown, causing the death of one of her best friends.
  • X-Men:
    • Most mutants gain their powers during puberty. In a surprising number of cases, this happens specifically on their fourteenth or fifteenth birthday.
    • Wolverine had a pretty rotten birthday when he was young, long before the experiment that gave him his adamantium skeleton and claws; it was his birthday when his first true confrontation with Sabretooth occurred, right after the villain murdered his lover Silver Fox. (Or so he thought at the time; her death was actually a hoax and would cause him even more trouble in the future.)

    Fan Works 
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel begins on the main character's 150th birthday, which turns out to be the day when he is finally released from being in Psychelia, and most of the Smurfs in the village are preparing for his birthday and his arrival home. 150 years for a Smurf (particularly a male Smurf) is basically the age of entering adulthood, as in The Smurfs cartoon show.
    • In "Days Of Future Smurfed", Empath celebrates his 1,150th birthday with his great-grandson, which ends up being the day that he dies, and his great-grandson becomes Traveler Smurf.
  • Higher Learning: The story begins on Shinji's 16th birthday. The first scenes feature Shinji making a celebratory meal, and later that day Shinji meets his new teacher who will change his outlook greatly and for the best.
  • Learning from Nightmares's first (and part of the second) chapter takes place on Hanyu's sixteenth birthday.
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    Film - Animated 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: Arlo's journey from the swamp to New York City to reunite with his biological father while making friends on the way — begins with him discovering his past on his fifteenth birthday.
  • Sleeping Beauty: Aurora was raised in secret by Flora, Fauna and Merryweather until her sixteenth birthday, which is when the major conflict of the movie kicks off.
  • Tangled: The movie begins with Rapunzel anticipating her eighteenth birthday and wanting to leave the tower out of Gothel's care.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Sixteen Candles. Subverted in that everyone in her family forgot Samantha's birthday.
  • Star Trek:
  • Left Behind (2014) takes place on Rayford Steele's birthday.
  • The Smurfs 2 takes place on Smurfette's birthday, and also on Blue Winslow's (the son of Patrick and Grace Winslow) fourth birthday.
  • The 6th Day begins on Adam Gibson's birthday, which is also when Adam Gibson's clone was "born".
  • The 2017 segment of Terminator Genisys takes place around the time of Kyle Reese's 12th birthday, which is also when SkyNet in the alternate timeline it created (under its code name Genisys) went fully online and took over, bringing on Judgment Day.
  • The Mortal Storm opens with Viktor's 60th birthday party. This is a pretty dark instance of the trope, as Viktor is a Jewish professor in Germany, and his birthday is January 30, 1933, the day that Those Wacky Nazis came to power.

    Literature 
  • The Lord of the Rings begins slightly before a very significant birthday - Frodo is turning 33, while Bilbo is turning 111. The Birthday Party is the first significant event in the story. Since hobbits are long-lived, 33 is their coming-of-age year. (Although, Bilbo was still very old for a hobbit and showing his age well; he would eventually live to be the oldest hobbit in history, a side effect of owning the One Ring.)
  • In the YA novel The Silver Crown, the heroine gets the titular crown for her birthday.
  • The events of Susan Cooper's novel The Dark is Rising start shortly before Will Stanton's 11th birthday.
  • Harry Potter learned he was a wizard at more or less the hour he turned 11, and most of the other books started on or near his birthday.
  • Lirael opens on Lirael's fourteenth birthday. To her it's a humiliation because she has not yet had the Sight, or been Seen with the Sight, and is therefore still a child among the Clayr. However, the events of the day do change her life dramatically.
  • Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society trilogy opens on Alex's twelfth birthday. As a treat, he gets to help rob a bank.
  • In The Rise Of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell, Damien's sixteenth birthday, opening the book, is when a letter will appear on his thumb. Heroes get a H; he's expecting a V for villain (like his mother); he gets an X, indicating that his father must have been a hero.
  • Riddley Walker opens on its eponymous hero's twelfth birthday, which is the age of majority in his society.
  • In the second part of The Forests of Silence, the first book in the first of the three Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda, we are informed that it is the sixteenth birthday of Lief, one of the three main protagonists of all three series. It is also the day on which his parents send him on his grand quest to find the seven gems of the magical Belt of Deltora to vanquish the evil Shadow Lord from the land. For his birthday, Lief is given the finest sword that his father, a blacksmith, has made, and a special cloak from his mother that magically changes colour depending on the surroundings so the wearer may hide. While this birthday does not happen until the second part of the book, the first half is a prologue and the rest of the books only follow Lief and his two companions as main characters and not the characters of the first half.
  • Light novel Feline Therapy begins on focal character Izzy's birthday, having received a gift from their friend that's expected to be a weekend of Fuzz Therapy, but turns out to be Animorphism. The climax occurs on their next birthday, after having spent an entire year as a cat.
  • Waste Of Space: The book starts and spends quite some time on Dash's thirteenth birthday.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Clea 2019: At the start of the game, Clea is celebrating her birthday with Edmon and Florine.
  • The Darkness starts on protagonist Jackie Estacado's 21st birthday, with two of his friends from the Franchetti crime family taking him out to party. Things go pear-shaped when Jackie's uncle Paulie tries to have Jackie killed with a "present" of a bomb in a closet. Lucky for Jackie, that's when the Ultimate Evil, The Darkness, manifests in Jackie and saves his life.
  • Later Alligator takes place entirely on Pat's birthday aside from the epilogue. Although not the player character, he is the one the story revolves around.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Fallout 3 starts with the hero's birth, and continues through several more birthdays before it really gets going.
  • Loom starts with Bobbin's seventeenth birthday.
  • Dragon Quest III begins on the hero/heroine's sixteenth birthday, and their being summoned for an audience with the King. The King basically tells them "Okay, you're old enough now to pick up where your father left off and Save the World."
  • Played with in Portal 2 - GLaDOS claims the day Chell woke up was her birthday, but this may just be a lie made up to hurt Chell, and give GLaDOS an excuse to give her a "surprise".
    GLaDOS: I made it all up...surprise!
  • Players of The Neverhood learn that the game begins at Klaymen's birth (well, seeding) through Willie Trombone's video confession.
  • Sonic Generations' plot starts with a party for Sonic's birthday (and meta-wise, the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise's 20th Anniversary).
  • Car Battler Joe starts on Joe's sixteenth birthday.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze starts on Donkey's birthday, and much like the Sonic Generations and Skyward Sword examples it also signifies the 20th anniversary of Donkey Kong Country.
  • Crusader of Centy starts on the Player Character's fourteenth birthday. He is given his dead father's sword and shield, as fourteen is the age children are expected to begin training as warriors.
  • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light starts on Brandt's fifteenth birthday, the day when he is old enough to be called a man and must present himself to the king as such. The king promptly gives him the task of rescuing his younger daughter.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has an example if you play on your own birthday. Returning to Mother Base will trigger a special cutscene where the Diamond Dogs throw a birthday party for Snake.
  • The plot of the Shenmue series kicks off when Ryo's father is murdered in front of him by a mysterious assassin on November 29, 1986, which happens to Ryo's 18th birthday.
  • Wolf's Gang opens on Wolfgang's birthday, with his friends throwing him a party at the Dark Lord's tower.
  • My Child Lebensborn: One of the first things the player will discover on the first evening of gameplay is that the next day is the child's birthday. The friend the child was just playing with has given them a birthday present and it's up to the player whether they get to open it early or not.

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck. See the page quote above.
    • Likewise, the Trolls' session started on Karkat's birthday – or rather, "Wriggling Day". The date of John's birthday, 4/13, is also plot-relevant.
    • This makes it surprising when the Alpha session doesn't start on a hero's birthday. It actually starts on the villain's birthday. Caliborn's predomination through the murder of his sister marks his emergence into the world as an individual, which he refers to as a birthday of sorts for himself.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Before The Party arc starts with the announcement that Grace's birthday is coming up which is followed by the Grace's Birthday Party arc.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • At the start of the Underdog story "Pain Strikes Underdog", Sweet Polly Purebred told Underdog that she was planning a party for his birthday the next day.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) has a variation, with the first episode taking place on the Turtles' 15th Mutation Day, as in the anniversary of the day they got splashed with Mutagen.
  • Rankin/Bass's The Return of the King opens with an elderly Bilbo's birthday party, where a minstrel relates the story with the ballad "Frodo of the Nine Fingers."
  • The Smurfs:
    • The Animated Adaptation of "The Astro Smurf" begins on Dreamy's birthday.
    • "Smurfette's Dancing Shoes" takes place the day before and leading to Papa Smurf's birthday.
    • "The Smurfs' Halloween Special" (a.k.a. "All Hallows Eve") takes place on Jokey's birthday.
    • "The Secret Of Shadow Swamp" takes place on Grouchy's birthday.
  • The Batman Beyond episode "Out of the Past" begins with Terry and Bruce watching a Batman musical to celebrate Bruce's birthday. Bruce doesn't like the farcical portrayal and prefers not to be reminded that he's another year older.


 
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Aurora's 16th Birthday

Princess Aurora, raised in secret under the alias of Briar Rose, is about to have her sixteenth birthday which the fairies plan.

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