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Too Old to Trick-or-Treat

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"When you go from tween to teen, you say goodbye to Halloween."
Tina Belcher, Bob's Burgers

Halloween is a tradition enjoyed by many people of all ages, although younger children are the usual target audience for trick-or-treating. With kids carving pumpkins, wearing spooky costumes, and telling scary stories, you might think that this holiday is only for kids. That's what this trope is all about.

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This trope occurs when an older child or teenage character (usually about 10-17) decides they are too old to trick-or-treat on Halloween, usually due to peer pressure. There may be clues to their dissatisfaction, such as not fitting into their old costumes, not being scared by the decorations, being unhappy when they get substandard treats (such as rocks or Razor Apples), or just not getting into the holiday spirit anymore. A variation occurs when a whole group of characters decides that they are too old to trick-or-treat, but one character does not and tries to convince the group that anyone can trick-or-treat.

The story usually ends with the character deciding to not care about what other people think and go trick-or-treating anyway, or someone talking to them and telling them that they can still go trick-or-treating, though there are exceptions.

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This is Truth in Television, as many kids and teenagers have felt or been told they're "too old" to trick-or-treat or do Halloween-related activities, even when younger kids around them get to do things like parades, parties, and costume dress-up.

A common plot for a Halloween Episode. Expect an Aesop about how you're never too old to do what you love. Occasionally results in a crappy holiday. Usually a form of Age-Appropriate Angst. Compare Dreaded Kids' Table. May overlap with Bittersweet 17.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • In a 2010 Milky Way commercial, a little girl answers the door to a group of adult trick-or-treaters, only for the little girl to tell them that they're too old to go trick or treating.
    Adults: Trick or treat?
    Little Girl: Aren't you too old to be trick-or-treating?

    Film — Animation 
  • Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade: After being taunted by Lawson and his gang about still enjoying Halloween, Spinelli decides she's too old for the holiday, to the rest of the group's dismay. The gang ends up going out trick-or-treating, but they also notice the "magic" of Halloween has worn off as they've gotten older. While Spinelli is giving out candy, she slowly starts to get into the spirit again and realizes (after a talk with Miss Finster) that it doesn't matter how old you are: it just matters that you have the spirit.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Hocus Pocus: Max's fear is realized when "half the guys at school" see him with Dani on Halloween night and think he's going trick-or-treating himself. Dani only makes matters worse by explaining his "costume".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the episode "Fear Itself" Buffy says "He wanted the candy, I was just the beard" with regards to her father taking her trick or treating on Halloween. Joyce informs Buffy the candy was actually for her.
  • Castle: The title character is dismayed when his daughter stops wanting to trick-or-treat with him. "But you have to come with me. You are my candy-beard!"
  • Freaks and Geeks: Sam, Bill, Neal, and Harris decide to go trick-or-treating one last time, but it doesn't end well. At one of the houses they go to, the woman giving them candy asks "Aren't you a bit old for trick-or-treating?", following which they get robbed by the school bully. Later, Sam gets egged by the freaks that his sister Lindsay is with.
  • Hawaii Five-0: Played with, as teenaged Grace Williams decides she's too old for Halloween. However, Jerry talks her into joining in for her little brother's sake.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In "Guide To Halloween," Ned lists the "phases" of Halloween, with Trick-Or-Treating being "Phase 1." When Cookie asks to go trick-or-treating, Ned tells him they're in "Phase 2" now and are too old to go out and get candy. However, by the end of the episode, Cookie feels nostalgic for past Halloweens, so Ned admits that it's always okay to go back down to "Phase 1." They wind up going trick-or-treating together.

    Video Games 
  • Splatoon 2: This is brought up during the introduction to the game's "Splatoween" event, in which Pearl and Marina argue over the best way to celebrate Halloween. Pearl is shocked that Marina still goes trick or treating, but she soon turns out to be Not So Above It All herself:
    Pearl: Seriously?! YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN.
    Marina: The house down the street gives out KING-SIZE CANDY BARS!
    Pearl: Aight, fair enough.

    Webcomics 
  • The Oatmeal This strip shows what Halloween is like at different ages; for teenagers, it's described as "They try to go trick or treating but get yelled at by stingy parents".
  • Subverted by this Reddit comic. It involves a 50-year-old man trick or treating, but the lady refuses to give him candy. Turns out the 50-year-old man is actually a kid wearing a mask, claiming that the disguise worked too well.

    Web Video 
  • Discussed in Ryan George's "The First Guy To Ever Wear A Costume" video. A guy in a cat costume pitches the concept of trick-or-treating to another guy, who thinks playing pretend to get candy from strangers is too childish. The guy in the costume decides that in that case, the kids can trick-or-treat, and when the adults dress up, the focus will be on intercourse.
  • In the fan-made Deltarune Halloween Special, Toriel says Kris is too old to trick-or-treat, so she puts them in charge of giving out candy for the night. After giving out candy to their classmates as they show up at the door, they opt to spend the night eating the rest of it while watching scary movies with Susie (and taking the candy bowl inside before Jerry can steal all of it).

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Because the Belcher kids are Not Allowed to Grow Up, thirteen-year-old Tina and her peers confront this problem during multiple years' worth of HalloweenEpisodes.
    • "Fort Night": Tina wants to make the most of what she thinks will be her last year trick-or-treating, leading to angst when the kids are trapped in a cardboard fort during prime trick-or-treating hours.
    • "Tina and the Real Ghost": Tina and the other eighth-graders spend Halloween night undergoing a teenage rite-of-passage - giving up trick-or-treating to break into a mausoleum.
    • "Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street": Tina admits that she's a little old for trick-or-treating, but she goes anyway. Her peers Jimmy Jr. and Zeke want to go to a haunted house instead, but they find it too scary.
      Zeke: I guess we're stuck between tricks and treats. We're Hallo-tweeners.
  • Bojack Horseman: In the episode "Mr. Peanutbutter's Boos", 13-year-old Todd goes trick-or-treating with two other teens in 2004 and all three are brushed off by Princess Carolyn for being too old:
    13-year-old Todd/Kids: Trick or treat!
    Princess Carolyn: You're way too old to be trick or treating and way too young to be a guest at this party. Come back when you're five years older or when you're three years younger.
  • The Cleveland Show: In the episode "It's the Great Pancake, Cleveland Brown", Cleveland tells Junior that he's too old to go trick-or-treating and makes him pass out candy. He ends up going anyway, but he's ambushed by bullies who then vandalize the house. Cleveland tries to improve Junior's image to make him seem cooler, but Donna makes him realize that he should let him be himself, so he allows his son to keep trick-or-treating.
  • One episode of Cow and Chicken had Cow and Chicken dress up like their parents for Halloween...only to be turned away at every door for supposedly being grown-ups trick or treating.
  • Danny Phantom: In "Fright Night", while Danny and Sam are setting up a haunted house, Tucker puts on a pair of Groucho glasses and goes out to score some free candy. As he leaves, Jack asks his wife if Tucker's a little old for trick or treating.
  • Doug: In "Doug's Halloween Adventure," Doug and Skeeter plan to spend Halloween night at the Funkytown theme park and ride the scary new haunted house ride, Bloodstone Manor. But Doug is nervous, so he tries to put off going by insisting that they trick-or-treat first, even though Skeeter thinks they're too old. They end up getting embarrassed when one house they visit turns out to be their friend Connie's; they tell her they're collecting candy for Skeeter's little brother Dale.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel are excited to join in on Summerween, but when Wendy casually mentions that trick-or-treating is for kids, Dipper's whole outlook on the evening changes. The night gets even more complicated when a monster that Dipper accidentally insulted makes them fulfill his candy quota by night's end or else he will eat them.
  • Kim Possible: In "October 31st," Ron prepares for his annual trick-or-treat outing with Kim. She doesn't wish to go, feeling that she is too old. She would rather go to a Halloween party that her crush is going to attend, so she lies to him, saying that she's going to volunteer at a haunted house with her parents. Subverted when, after the truth comes out, her crush thinks Ron's trick-or-treating plans are cool and decides to join him.
  • King of the Hill: "Hilloween" sees Hank anxiously angling to take twelve-year-old Bobby trick-or-treating, as he thinks Bobby will be too old next year. After the conservative Junie Harper gets Tom Landry Middle School to ban its haunted house, a bunch of neighborhood adults (Hank, Dale, Boomhauer, Bill, Luanne, and Christopher) walk down the street to her home on Halloween night chanting "Trick or Treat!" in protest. Eventually, Bobby agrees to go trick-or-treating with Hank.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Luna Eclipsed", Twilight asks if Pinkie Pie isn't too old to go trick-or-treating on Nightmare Night, and gets the reply "Too old for free candy? Never!"
  • Pepper Ann:
    • In "A 'Tween Halloween," Pepper Ann tries to cancel her planned trick-or-treat outing with Milo when her classmates decide not to do so, thinking she's too old for this. The two friends wind up going anyway, and an ending montage reveals that their classmates secretly joined in.
    • The earlier episode "Thanksgiving Dad" opens on Halloween, with Pepper Ann telling her dad on the phone that she's too old for trick-or-treating but has to take Moose out. The fact that this episode came before "A 'Tween Halloween" presumably makes the latter a Series Continuity Error... as does the fact that Pepper Ann stays twelve years old through two Halloweens in the first place.
  • The Simpsons: The opening credits of the Treehouse of Horror episode Treehouse of Horror II features Jimbo Jones and Kearney Zzyzwicz trick-or-treating at the Simpson's residence. Homer Simpson asks them if they aren't too old to trick-or-treat and points out that they aren't even wearing costumes.
    • Though the first Treehouse of Horror features Homer returning from having gone out Trick or Treating on his own in a Bedsheet Ghost costume and having had some success.
  • The Weekenders: Tino's friends refuse to go trick-or-treating with him because they feel they are too old, so he comes up with an elaborate prank to scare them.

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