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Younger Than They Look
aka: Younger Than He Looks

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"If a woman says she's 20, and looks 16, she's 12."
Chris Rock, "No Sex (in the Champagne Room)" note 
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Some characters are Older Than They Look (much older, even). Some, meanwhile, are younger. Maybe they're robots, clones, some other kind of artificial construct, or just unhealthy. Maybe there's a supernatural reason, such as a curse. Or maybe they are under such constant stress and work that they are aged prematurely by it. Or they're just overdeveloped. One way or another, this character may look like an adult(/teenager/older child), and even act and talk like one, but chronologically speaking, they aren't.

Other times there may be a young adult with the appearance of a middle aged or even older man/woman. Gray hair, a prematurely receding hairline, generally cause someone to look older. Certain types of facial hair also can make a younger man seem older.

Subtropes include Older Alter Ego, a magical ability for younger kids to temporarily turn into adults and back, and Plot-Relevant Age-Up, the same permanently.j

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Similar, but not to be confused with Artistic Age, where this is due to art rather than in-story causes. If, in live-action, their age is surprising to the viewer but not anyone in story, it's a bad side-effect of Dawson Casting.

Many people will contest that this is a Truth in Television.

Super-Trope to Born as an Adult. Compare Compulsory School Age, Mistaken Age, Age-Inappropriate Dress. Contrast Animation Anatomy Aging. Compare and contrast Really 17 Years Old (where someone is younger than they claim to be).


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • It is revealed that Maria in Hayate the Combat Butler is only 17, but she is incredibly mature and everybody mistakes her for a beautiful woman in her mid-to-late-20s, leading Hayate to believe that he Likes Older Women. It also becomes a Running Gag that Maria is irritated when people mention "young girls" as if she doesn't fit into that group. Specifically, she keeps saying "I'm 17-years-old" with increasing irritation. It's also a Shout-Out to Kikuko Inoue.
  • Halflings in general in Delicious in Dungeon. They lack the stout proportions of dwarves and gnomes, which, paired with their short stature and baby-faced features, makes most of them look like human tweens at the oldest. The only exception seems to be a few older or unhealthier individuals, who tend to take on sort of a gaunt, Smeagol-ish appearance. This gets used as a joke when Chilchuck, whom the group had previously assumed to be very young, reveals that he's actually in his late-twenties, long married, and has children old enough to leave the house.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has Seira, a baby that looks and acts about ten.
  • Downplayed in Bubblegum Crisis: given how long ago sexaroids were labeled as illegal by the series start, we get the implication that while Sylvie and Anri may not be as old as they look (Sylvie appears in her mid-twenties while Anri looks to be the loli model), they're not single digit ages.
  • Yagi Yuria in Shibatora works at a maid cafe, passing as over eighteen, but is really only twelve years old. The fact that her mental maturity is normal for her real age, not her appearance, results in her being exploited by a number of other characters.
  • Zelgadis the chimera of Slayers is 20 at the start of the Light Novel series, and his appearance appropriately matches his age. In the anime though, his age is bumped down to sixteen (a Word of God statement in a film book), making him fall under this trope. It doesn't help that his voice is noticeably deep, especially in the English version. More often than not, Gourry (who's older and taller than Zelgadiss is; in the anime, he's the only protagonist who starts out in his twenties) is referred to as a boy.
  • In Excel Saga, a paedophile takes a nine-year-old to a love hotel, only to learn that she's, er, "prodigious." The episode in question was making as many jokes that couldn't be aired on TV as possible (it didn't, which was what the creators wanted), but everything was still played for laughs (all black laughs), which meant the paedophile left the underaged girl broken-hearted when he saw what she looked like, before anything awful happened. Yep.
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor:
    • Harumi appears to be in her mid-twenties, but viewers who have a quick enough eye to catch her character stats just before the commercial breaks will be surprised to realize that she's only 3 years old. It turns out that she's an android, so don't worry too much about it.
    • A more mundane example in the same show would be Dr. Kitaguchi, a 33 year-old doctor who looks like he's somewhere in his 50s. If his self-proclaimed thirty-year drinking habit isn't an exaggeration, you can probably figure out why.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has Professor Banner, who looks like he's in his mid-20s, but he's actually 18. It's because that at 18, he contracted a terminal disease while doing alchemy research, so he made a second body to continue research and stop the funder of his research, Kagemaru.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Yuki Nagato and her associates appear to be about fifteen, but as constructs of the Data Overmind, their physical bodies at least are only up to three years old. It's somewhat debatable since it isn't known how the whole system works, but with Nagato getting trapped in a time loop for hundreds of years (and mentally aging, as she alone retains full memories of the repetitions) the fifth novel inverts this and makes her Really 700 Years Old. An alternate theory mentioned in the show is that the whole universe was recreated three years earlier, so everyone who thinks they're older than three is actually Younger Than They Look.
    • Kyon's sister's friend Miyoko is this. She is the same age as his elementary school aged sister but appears to be within a year of Kyon's age.
  • Yoko in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is actually 14, the same age as Simon. However, since humans had been living underground for generations, without a sun or anything, they probably couldn't tell time as accurately, so who knows. Although, supplementary material, such as the official anime guide, states that she is actually 18.
  • In Planetes, a minor character is twelve years old, but since she grew up on the Moon with it's lower gravity, her growth rate was accelerated and her size makes her look like she's in her early twenties. This causes the twenty-something main character to be really uncomfortable when he discovers her true age... especially since it appeared he'd been developing something of a crush on her.
  • In Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan, the title character has a nine-year-old sister that looks about nine years older than her.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
    • Two of the Huge Schoolgirls are forced to pay full price for movie tickets, even though they're only 14-15 years old (While two of their classmates who are a couple months older but look younger get away with claiming to be elementary school students for a larger discount). One of them gets so mad, she uses magic age-reducing pills to turn herself into a small child, until she realizes (too late) that the cost of the pills combined with the ticket come out to more than she would have had to pay normally. The other, being a Ninja, just Henges herself younger for free.
    • There's Chachamaru, who has been built two and a half years ago, but looks like a teenager.
    • There is also Naba Chizuru, who is explicitly the youngest girl in the class aside from the android but is maternal enough (in multiple senses of the word) to pass for at least 20.
  • Mikado no Shihō:
    • Kōran guesses Shiki to be 21, seeing as he is mature in both appearance and personality. His actual age? 17. Yes, he's younger than her.
    • Which naturally makes his younger brother Rinshō qualify. It becomes real scary considering all the horrible things he's done…
  • Jet of Cowboy Bebop looks like he could be in his forties or fifties, but is only thirty-six. This is lampshaded in the preview for "Waltz for Venus" where he tells us this, and says you shouldn't judge people by how they look, or how much hair they have.
  • Much of the cast of Eyeshield 21 qualifies:
    • The one that takes the cake is Rikiya Gaoh: He's two meters tall (6'7"), square-jawed, musclebound, capable of bench-pressing over 200 kg (over 440 lb)...and we're supposed to believe that he's a high school freshman. Some of the other characters don't believe it either ("There oughta be a law against players like him!").
    • That's not even getting into Atsushi Munakata of the Amino Cyborgs, whose tremendous musculature and broad, dashingly handsome face make him look over 30, a fact that is actually commented upon. One Omake chapter shows that he actually looks exactly like his father... and his mother.
    • Lampshaded when Sena and Monta discover the identity of Musashi, who they only knew as the middle-aged looking construction guy who worked on their ever expanding clubhouse. They cry out in unison "You're seventeen??!!"
    • Similar to Musashi, Yamabushi from Shinryuuji looks much older than he is due to his half-grown in beard. He's even charged with pumping up the Japanese youth cup team before the game against America because he looks the oldest. When he gets too emotional, the similarly adult-looking Mamoru Banba steps in to offer his own uplifting words.
    • Mr. Don, Gaoh's opponent in the American game, is supposed to be 18, but looks closer to sixty with his white hair, massive stature, and heavily-wrinkled face.
    • Lampshaded in a chapter where we learn they even have rankings for who has the worst case of "old man" face.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • You would never, ever know it by looking at him or hearing him talk, but Piccolo at the beginning is chronologically only eight years old. Nobody remembers this, for good reason. When he was born he was supposed to be a demon. He actually takes much longer to reach maturity than Piccolo Daimaou's other "offspring", who are full-grown when they hatch.
      • Especially amusing in retrospect when he's teaching Gohan whose only a couple years younger than him at four years old.
    • In a similar vein, Cell is much, much younger than you'd expect - even with all the time-traveling he had to do to reach a timeline where he could absorb the Androids, he's still only in his early twenties.
    • In Dragon Ball GT, there is an extreme case of this in the Shadow Dragons, who, though mature as any other Dragon Ball villains, are, by technicality, newborns, spawned from the Dragon Balls' misuse.
    • GT also gives us Bra/Bulla, who's only 11 but wears revealing clothing and looks a few years older — to the point where grown men hit on her. In front of her father. Who is Vegeta. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Trigun:
    • The main character Vash starts out in this form, seeing as he's really a plant-like alien who matures into a young child far more rapidly than a human would; when the series opens, however, he's Older Than They Look, seeing as he's existed since before the incident that initially colonized the planet.
    • However, Wolfwood in the manga does have a lampshaded case; The experimental treatments his Evil Mentor used to give him superhuman capabilities and Healing Factor also caused him to age faster; while he looks in his mid-to-late 20s, he's probably sixteen or so when we meet him. His former guardian at the orphanage doesn't recognize him until Livio's about to kill him.
    • The movie Badlands Rumble sees Amelia McFly, a bounty hunter, who could pass for someone in her 20s. Her real age is actually 19 as she was born after an earlier meeting with Vash and her father, Gasback, that took place 20 years ago.
  • Berserk: Guts could be mistaken for a guy in his 30s because of the physical and mental stress he's endured, but as of the Fantasia Arc he is only 24 years old, Casca is the same age as Guts but she looks almost a decade younger.
    • Pippin is a even better example, the The Big Guy of Band of Falcon looks like he's in his late 20s to early 30s, but at the time of the Golden Age his actual age was 19. For contrast Corkus is a year older than Pippin despite looking younger, though the movie adaptions make Corkus look closer to his age.
  • Umehachi, male protagonist of the manga Tende Freeze, is 17, but looks like he should belong in junior high. (Admittedly, he regularly acts that age, too.) This is repeatedly lampshaded with people who get it wrong; his brother is in junior high but looks far more grownup than his brother (and, again, acts the part too...); when they go to the movies, they buy each other's tickets to avoid lengthy explanations.
  • While Satella of Chrono Crusade looks somewhere around her late twenties or early thirties, she turns out to only be nineteen years old much to the surprise of Rosette.
  • One of the students in Doki Doki School Hours looks and acts like a middle-aged man even though he's still in high school. They even call him "Oyaji" (i.e. "Geezer" or "Pops").
  • In Slam Dunk, Shinichi Maki, the captain of Kainan team, looks like he was over 35 but he is only 17. After learning it, Hanamichi immediately nicknames him "Middle-aged Man" and never calls him by his real name. Maki retaliates by pointing out that Akagi, Shohoku's captain, looks even older. And later on in the series, Uozumi (whose the same age as Akagi), is mistaken for Akagi's father.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
    • Reinforce Zwei, Hayate's Unison Device, joined the Time-Space Administration Bureau when she was 1 year old, looking much like she does now.
    • Arf is another example. She looks to be in her mid-twenties or so, but in reality is probably only three or four years old tops considering Fate created her, and Fate herself is another example as a clone with a copy of the memories from the girl she was cloned from.
    • By extension, this trope applies to Erio and Zest for the same reasons as Fate.
    • Sette looks like an adult woman, but is the last of the Numbers to have been activated, and thus younger than any of the others (particularly Cinque, who is a direct inverse: looks like a kid, has the mind and skills of a seasoned commando).
  • Occurs with the all young girls in Junko Mizuno's Pure Trance manga; they appear to be about three when they're born, and one quickly ages about 16 years in a matter of months due to her ability to shed her skin like a snake.
  • The silpelits from Elfen Lied age at about double the rate of normal humans. Nana looks 14-15 and is really around 7 years old. Similarly, Mariko is really somewhere around 3 years old.
  • Naruto:
    • Tsunade manages to be both this and Older Than They Look: in calendar years, she's about fifty or sixty, the same as Chivalrous Pervert Jiraiya. However, she uses a powerful genjutsu round the clock to make herself look like a twenty-year-old (or however old she needs to be to escape her creditors.) However, her most powerful jutsu of her own invention heals any wound she may receive, but at the cost of aging her far faster than her contemporaries. So without the genjutsu, she is younger than she looks. (whew!)
    • Teuchi, the ramen shop owner, appears to be in his 60s at best but is only 43 at the beginning of the manga.
    • It's implied Kakashi was 6 when he became a genin but he looked indistinguishable from even the current cast, who were 12 when they became genin, Kakashi keeps this trope going as adult he looks like he's in 30s with his white hair but is only 26 when Naruto was genin.
      • Lampshaded as Kakashi was quite upset when a little boy and girl (Naruto and Sakura in disguise) called him “old man” after rescuing their cat.
    • Asuma with his beard looks much older than his actually age of 27 at the start of Naruto. Amusingly his spouse Kurenai was 28 at the time making her a year older than her husband and two years older than Kakashi despite looking like a teenager compared to them.
    • Can't forget Might Guy whose the same age as Kakashi (26) despite looking 40-something, it's not until Boruto that any of the Jonin look their age.
  • Hana-chan in the final season of Ojamajo Doremi after she aged herself magically from a baby to a tween.
  • Primula from SHUFFLE! appears to be around eleven or twelve years of age. She's actually younger, since she's the most recent test subject of the Yggdrasil Project.
  • Another Artificial Human example of this trope is Abe no Yasuaki of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de. The manga mentions that Abe no Seimei created him two years prior to the start of the story; Yasuaki's official age is 21.
  • Isabella from Paradise Kiss is high school age, but dressing like a middle-aged Victorian lady makes her look remarkably older. Her very mature and composed attitude only add to it, as do her knobbly, slightly manly hands.
  • Mahoromatic, being about androids, has an alien android who poses as a school teacher. When asked over the course of the series about age-related issues, such as if he would go drinking with a group of other teachers, he always replies, " That would be illegal, as I am only three years old." For some reason, nobody bothers to question him on this.
  • One Piece:
    • This trope applies to Zoro and Sanji at the start of the series, who thanks to appearance, personality and being voiced by older male voice actors; seem much more older and mature than their actual ages of 19. It's especially amusing as Zoro The Alcoholic wasn't even old enough to drink at the time (legal drinking age is 20 in Japan). Sanji seemed older to some fans (probably because he smokes), as in a SBS they questioned Oda about Sanji's offical age thinking he was lying; leading Oda to say they have to take his word for it.
    • Vivi as Miss Wednesday looks like she's in her 20s, so may come as a shock to learn she was only 16 at the time. This may be part of her Really Royalty Reveal as she even has a different voice actor when disguised. After dropping the disguise, she is drawn looking more closer to her actual age; though she's still as bosomy as Nami so this trope is still in effect.
    • Kaku is a In-Universe example as he speaks like an old man, leading to Usopp and Nami questioning his age. Kaku answers that he's 23, only a couple of years older than them. Rob Lucci is also a good example, as he looks as old as Jabra (who's 35) but is actually 28, he just seems older due to his extreme seriousness and brutality.
      • Ditto for Kalifa: she's drawn looking more mature and older than Nami, though she's only 6 years older (at 25 years old) and is younger than Robin (who was 28 at the time).
    • Mermaid Princess Shirahoshi is in the same boat as Vivi: despite having the upper body of a grown woman she's only 16. For additional irony, she's massive as well. Though it's also worth mentioning Shirahoshi acts like she's even younger, crying frequently and whining, due to her mother's death and her sheltered upbringing.
    • Oda pulls this a third time with a princess: Rebecca from Dressrosa. Her Chainmail Bikini shows she's as developed as Nami or Robin but in actual fact... she's also 16, making that getup an Age-Inappropriate Dress. Pretty ridiculous when she looks the same age as her aunt Viola whose freaking 29.
    • Pudding, the 35th daughter of Big Mom. She's as curvaceous as Nami, but the introduction of her younger sister (who's 15) threw her age into question. This was corrected on the day of the chapter's release by Oda's staff on Twitter and on a later chapter, but even with the correction Pudding can't be any older than 16 or 17. This would've made her relationship with Sanji a May–December Romance had it actually happened (but it didn't).
  • Otaku no Musume-san: Taeko, a high school student who also happens to be a landlady, often is assumed to be a lady cosplaying as a high school student (mostly because the tenants are generally otakus themselves, so it's not a big leap). Amusingly, her mother actually works at a Cosplay Café and was mistaken for Taeko's friend when she turned up in her work uniform. The combination of the two tropes lead to Taeko looking older than her mother.
  • Ling Yao of Fullmetal Alchemist is a mild case. He's 15, but he looks like a fully-grown adult. This is used for both a joke about him being much taller than Ed (who is slightly older) and a plot point when he's arrested as an illegal immigrant and the authorities don't believe he's really a minor.
  • Hibiki's Magic has Asuma, a wizard who ages much more quickly than normal as a price for using magic. In reality, he's probably at least in his late teens, but he looks to be about in his late 20s/early 30s.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, it's implied that Rei is in fact a 4-year-old with the mind of a 14-year-old as a result of being a clone. On the other hand, there's no evidence the clones haven't been growing at a normal, human rate, so physically they could all be 14. It all depends on how you interpret what counts for age: mind, body, or soul? How much are Rei I, II, & III the same person?
  • Yukio Oikawa of Digimon Adventure 02 would be in his early thirties, but you'd never know that by looking at his grey skin and sunken eyes.
  • Marcus Damon and Thomas H. Norstein of Digimon Savers look to be in their late teens, and seem not much younger than their teammate Yoshi who's 18, but are both actually 14.
  • Battle Royale:
    • Shogo Kawada should only be around a year older than his fifteen-year-old classmates but he looks much older due to his muscular physique, long facial scar and thick stubble as well as his mature demeanor. Possibly a Justified Trope as he was forced to mature quickly in his first entry into the programme and his childhood helping his father in ..
    • Also Mitsuko Souma has a very mature figure for her age and wears thicker make-up than the other girls, both of which she uses to her advantage in The Program, like Kawada, her appearance is also probably justified by her childhood trauma as a victim of sexual abuse.
  • In Sailor Moon, when ChibiUsa and Hotaru are possessed, they take the forms of adult women, though they both are children younger than any of the other characters. Averted in Chibiusa's case as, at least in the manga; she is really 900 years old.
  • Pinoko of Black Jack depends on how you count it. She started life as a teratoma (a form of tumor) that had grown everything but a body while attached to an eighteen-year-old woman. If you count her life starting with her "sister", she's eighteen and Older Than They Look; if, like Black Jack, you count her life from when she was removed, she's less than a year. Either way, her artificial body looks about six.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Stiyl Magnus. You know, this red-haired guy who's smoking all the time and is about two meters tall. Believe it or not, he's just 14. This is actually a result of a miscommunication between the writer and the artist. The writer said that Stiyl's battle with Touma was meant to be "old vs new" meaning magic vs science. The artist read that, missed the note after about Stiyl's age, misinterpreted it to mean "old man vs young man" and drew Stiyl as a man in his 30s.
    • Kanzaki and Oriana also looks around 20-25 when they're both only 18.
    • All of the Misaka clones, naturally. Most noticeable with Worst, who looks older than the rest (including older than her original), but is actually the youngest clone. She is teased at one point that, despite looking 16, she's technically the "younger sister" of Last Order, who looks 10.
    • Misaki Shokuhou, the fifth level 5 esper, looks like a buxom college or high school girl, but is actually in middle school. However, since her power is Mind Control, it's theorized (both in-universe and out) that she is actually as old as she looks, but she's just using her ability to make everyone think she's younger than she really is. Turns out she is in fact the same age as Misaka and a year before the series began, was as developed as her fellow level 5. Talk about puberty being unfair.
  • George of Dragon Crisis!, despite looking about thirty, actually turns out to be 19.
  • Honey Kisaragi passes for 16, but since she's actually the transforming android Cutey Honey, she was probably built more recently than that.
  • Gareki from Karneval looks to be in his early twenties but is actually only 15. He often acts more mature than 21-year-old Yogi and is also a guardian/big brother to Nai, all of which only strengthen this impression. The implication is that his very harsh childhood forced him to either grow up fast or perish.
  • Akagi: Shigeru is only 13 pre-Time Skip but looks considerably older in the anime (he's more plausible in the manga). A line referring to his age was even changed from "Yeah, you look it too" to "Really? You don't look it" in the adaptation.
  • Leorio of Hunter × Hunter looks like a businessman in his thirties or early forties. He's nineteen. It was even lampshaded when he tells Gon and Killua, who are more than shocked.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho has an early joke about this—a creepy one-shot youth gangster who kidnaps Keiko in the manga, who has an oversized head with overdeveloped bone structure and a load of stubble. In an early panel where he's perving on Keiko his face is labelled, 'fourteen years old.' I.e., in his last year of middle school.
  • Shinonome Nano from Nichijou looks and acts like a high schooler but she is actually only a year old at the beginning of the show. She's a robot (with a wind-up key, natch).
  • Recorder and Randsell has Atsushi Miyagawa, the impossibly 180 cm/5'9 tall 11-year old. This leads to much hilarity because, behavior-wise, he's not any different than a typical child his age (if just a bit too clueless). Poor kid gets arrested every other day because someone mistook him for a molester. Note: his older sister has the opposite problem.
  • In Daily Lives of High School Boys, Sanada North High's Student Council Vice-President's case of Face of a Thug may make him look like in the thirties, but he's aged like any Second Year Protagonist in the series. Ringo even once thought he was 28.
  • Hiroshi Agasa of Detective Conan has fallen victim to this. He dislikes being called "ojisan" since he's only 53 years old.
  • Marida Cruz from Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn looks to be 18 years old, but should technically be around 7 since she's revealed to be a clone of Elpeo Ple from Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ.
  • Nearly the entire cast of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing look older than their official ages. Most of the enemy pilots look and act as if they're in their 30s, but are instead late teens or early 20s. The 5 protagonists are all 15, but look to be in their late teens to early 20s. Pretty much the only characters given an official age who actually do look and act that age are Catherine Bloom (17, the sister of one of the protagonists) and Sally Po (26, a resistance fighter).
  • Cleo from Break Blade is only slightly shorter than most of the other female characters, and still manages to rival them figure-wise. Would you believe she's 12? The other characters certainly can't.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Miki Aono/Cure Berry from Fresh Pretty Cure!. She's a gorgeous aspiring model and quite tall, in fact, the tallest of the Fresh Cures and the second tallest overall Cure (only beaten out by Yuri Tsukikage/Cure Moonlight from HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, who's the oldest of all active Cures) also a former holder of the 'Babaa' nickname. High schooler, yes? Nope. She's 14.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, there's Aguri Madoka/Cure Ace and Regina from DokiDoki! PreCure. Aguri is nine years old, ages up to about 14 as Cure Ace and Regina's about the same age as the Cure Ace form. They're only less than a year old. It's a long story.
  • Megumi of Servant × Service may look like a senior staff, but that's mainly out of the effect of her stoic demeanour. She's actually 20, in the same age of the youngest newcomer in her office.
  • Suzumura from The Gods Lie is an eleven year old elementary school student who towers over the other kids.
  • Shinobu from Kiniro Mosaic, due to her Yamato Nadeshiko demeanour. This is one of her few Berserk Button as well.
  • Noguchi from the 3-gatsu no Lion, who is a highschooler despite sporting a thick mustache. Lampshaded in the first chapter he appears in with notes constantly pointing out that he's a 2nd-year.
  • In AKIRA when a Juvenile Corrections Officer is lecturing Kaneda and the gang on their behavior, Kaneda calls him "gramps" as an insult, the man tells him he's only 25, he appears to be in his mid 30s-early 40s.
  • Subverted in Kill la Kill - despite being a high-school senior, Ira Gamagoori doesn't look like he could realistically be in his teens... Because he isn't. It turns out that he deliberately put off leaving middle school for a couple of years so that he could be in the same year as (and thus serve under) Satsuki. He's not that old though. He explains he's turning 20 of that year. Meaning he's 19 during the series proper, basically in his late teens.
    Mako: That explains the old-man face!
  • In Sankarea, Darin looks to be somewhere in her mid-20s to early 30s, but eventually lets slip that she's actually only 14. The other characters are so dumbfounded by this that they focus more on the fact that they're actually older than her than anything important she's telling them. Her older appearance was likely intentional on her part, but even after she relaxes her "mature" look somewhat, it's still very rare for her to actually look 14.
  • Toge Sohei from Adolf is 28, but looks like he's in his forties. He even has grey hair in the colour illustrations.
  • Yukata and Tomo from Shounen Note are both just beginning middle school at the start of the manga, however Tomo looks much more adult. He's a very tall kid who towers over even many, if not most, adult characters and looks like a lanky teenager. His parents expect him to act like an adult which upsets him because, despite his appearance, he's emotionally and physically still just a kid.
  • Hatsukoi Monster gives us Kanade Takahashi, a fifth-grader with the body of a 17 year-old. Given the series' genre, the heroine finds it awkward to be dating him. Don't worry though— he's not alone in his affliction, as two of his playmates are also young boys who look like grown men.
  • Aria from Rising × Rydeen looks like she's in her mid-twenties and compared to the rest of the mostly teenage cast she's significantly taller, bustier and more composed despite being eighteen, only three to four years older than most of them. Takara is shocked when she reveals her true age.
  • In Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, one episode had a senior whose face made him look like an old man. He was so upset about it that Zundar turned him into a Monster of the Week, specifically a Bishōnen with the power to make people younger.
  • Pokémon: Team Rocket (or more specifically Jessie and James) are supposed to be 15, despite looking and sounding significantly older than everyone else. Subverted, as this is implied to be them lying about their age, as other material suggests Jessie is 25. While some semi-official English sources back in the day placed them around 17, the original is explicit about them approaching 25. Jessie's rage button about being called an old hag/oban is because she nearly is one, her mother Miyamoto laments it in her recordings (snippets of Miyamoto's ramblings while lost in the Andes mountains at the start of each chapter, talking about her daughter she couldn't watch grow up, provide us with clues as to when each part of Mewtwo's origin story takes place). This is also the reason for her obsession with getting married and settling down as soon as possible. By Diamond & Pearl, James also looks visibly pained when a little boy calls him ojisan (implying he's an old man).
  • Takeo from My Love Story!! is only a high school freshman but is a huge, gonky looking boy with a very deep voice. This has made many people mistake him for an adult. This causes even more problems because his girlfriend is very petite and young looking. They've been mistaken for father and daughter at least once. Takeo has even been mistaken for his mother's husband.
  • Baby Love:
    • Seara is around twelve and is an elementary schooler however looks older. She is a Huge Schoolgirl and in-series can pass for a middle schooler with little issue.
    • Seara's crush Shun is a middle schooler but is said to look like a college student.
  • Taeko Okajima the main character from Only Yesterday, due to the wrinkles and lines in her face in some scenes she looks like she could be in her 40s or 50s but she's stated to be 27.
  • Mireille Bouquet from Noir looks to be somewhere in her mid to late 20s, but the timeline of the series suggests she's actually only around 19 years old. Given that she seems to have been working as a professional assassin for some time before this it leads to some Fridge Horror.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice:
    • Jean-Jacques Leroy is 19, but his height and toned build make him look older than main character Yuri Katsuki, who despite being 23 could still pass as a teenager.
    • Emil Nekola is 18, but his facial hair makes him look older.
    • Otabek Altin is also 18, but what makes him look older than that is his stern-looking and angular face.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, it's astonishingly easy to forget that Hak is actually seven years younger than 25-year-old Jaeha, given how well they get along and how much their maturity level seems to match up. Jaeha too seems to deem him as the second adult in the manga's main cast, as he's the only character Jaeha doesn't use the "-kun" honorific to address him with—and that includes Kija, who's a good 2 years older than Hak is. 15-year-old Yun Lampshades it at one point, admitting that he honestly forgot Hak was younger than Kija. Kija gleefully asks Hak to address him as "older brother" in response.
  • Attack on Titan has Zeke Yeager's official age being listed as 27, although he looks much older. This seems to happen to Titan shifters, as Reiner also arguably looks older than 21. Uri Reiss suffered from this as well, and although we don't know how old he was, in flashbacks he looked a lot older than his brother Rod does in the current story. The very extreme ageing could be a side effect of being a member of the royal family who's a shifter, but the exact nature of it has not yet been explained.
  • Bleach:
    • Sawatari, one of the Bounts. It's a weird case because Bounts can live forever as long as they have souls to devour, but despite Sawatari looking like a very old man he's relatively young for a Bount. He looks so old because he ate too many souls when he was younger, which caused his body to age at an accelerated pace.
    • Sado "Chad" Yasutora looks to be in his mid to late 20s despite only being 15, largely because he towers over most adults (being almost six and a half feet tall) and is built like he wrestles bears for a living.
  • Kuroko no Basuke: Some players look way older than highschool boys. Taken Up to Eleven by Team Jabberwock, a team of American 18-year-olds who look like they in their late 20s or early 30s.
  • In Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, Yumiko easely look like she is in her 20s, so Koyomi is surprised to learn that she is the same age as her, 15 years old.
  • Ame from Wolf Children Ame and Yuki by the time he decides to leave civilization and live out his life in the wild as a wolf he looks and sounds like he's in his mid-teens, but his mother Hana states that he's ten years old.
  • In Touch, Sohei Harada is a high-schooler, but he looks ten years older and towers over all of his classmates.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has quite a few characters who look older than they actually are. The first big example is Jotaro Kujo in Part 3 does not look like he's 17 (in fact, he seems to look younger in Part 4 and even more in Part 6). The same applies to a lesser extent to Josuke Higashikata and Okuyasu Nijimura in Part 4, and then you have Giorno Giovanna and Trish Una. You'd think they'd be both adults, considering they both look as old as the more experienced members in Passione. Nope, they're both 15, and the one person on the team who actually looks like a teenager, Narancia Ghirga, is two years older than them. There's also Lucy Steel from Part 7, who, despite her height and figure, is only 14 years old.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Rimuru is both this and Older Than They Look: in his human form, he looks about 16/17 at the very oldest, but at the end of the series he is only about 3 years old. His mental age is around 40, having died as a human at 37 at the start of the series, and being reincarnated with all of his memories.
  • Technically the case for all the NPCs in Overlord; while their physical ages vary widely, they were all created as player-created NPCs in an MMO that had a twelve year run. Since it would have taken a few years before any of their creators were able to make them all of them actually have single figure ages.
  • Mr. Mustachio from Astro Boy appears to be around 60 years old with his white hair and mustache, but on one occasion a villain calls him an old man and he tells him he's only 42 and that he looks older because he went bald early.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family, Nanao Yozakura is a first-year high school student, but his genetics make him look like a hulking, three-meter tall man. It's actually Played for Drama when it's pointed out that a three-meter tall high schooler would draw heads, forcing him to develop a drug to shrink himself down to a normal size. And when that drug stops working, it will mean that he won't be able to attend school or college the way he always wanted to.
  • Pretty much all the characters of Revolutionary Girl Utena fall into this, due to their willowy Noodle People designs, refined uniforms, and the kind of things they get into. Utena and Anthy are fourteen, while Nanami and Miki are thirteen, but they all look like they're at least sixteen or seventeen, the ages of Juri and Saionji.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Magneto is old enough to have lived through the Holocaust, but has been de-aged and re-aged back into his 20s/30s. You'd never expect he and Xavier are the same age.
    • The Stepford Cuckoos are clones of Emma Frost who had been aged up from birth to their teens in order to infiltrate the X-Men. They're only a few years old chronologically.
    • Magik of New Mutants fame spent half her life in a realm of Limbo outside the normal timestream. As a result, she was a teenager despite technically being born 6 years prior to her abduction, much to the X-Men's shock, since seconds passed on Earth for them.
    • Madeline Pryor, former wife of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and the mother of his son, is a clone of Jean Grey (Phoenix). The villain Mister Sinister created her while Jean was dead to lure Scott into a relationship with her, the goal being the creation of a child with the mixed genetics of those two powerful mutants that would be vastly more powerful still. She had false memories implanted, resulting in her being physically and mentally an adult woman while actually being in the low single digits chronologically.
  • Played for Laughs with Reptil in Avengers Academy, who temporarily ended up trapped in the body of his 30-year old self from the future. Komodo from the Avengers Initiative flirted with him on the assumption that he was an adult, and was absolutely horrified to discover she had been macking on a teenage boy. She immediately stormed out after claiming that he couldn't prove anything in court.
  • In Watchmen Laurie aka Silk Spectre II was only 16 in the Flash Back of the gathering of Crimebusters, however, Dave Gibbons draws her looking the same as she is in the main story where she's in her 20s. Dr. Manhatten's girlfriend Janey even points out that Laurie was most certainly Jail Bait at the time when she learns Manatten has cheated on her.
  • Cassie Lang/Stature/Stinger from the Young Avengers. She was 14 when she joined the team, but most artists draw her as looking much older. This led to a minor controversy when she joined the cast of Astonishing Ant-Man. The artist began drawing her closer to how an actual 14-year old would look, which caused some fans to claim that Cassie was being "infantilized."
  • Bart Allen (aka Impulse, then Kid Flash, then The Flash) in The DCU aged unusually quickly for the first few years of his life due to an exceptionally fast metabolism. The reverse is true for his Evil Twin Inertia, who took over 50 years to develop to the physical age of 15.
    • As indeed is Superboy (as in the Superman clone introduced in Return of Superman), who's presumably even now well under ten comic years old, but looks at least fifteen. He was supposed to look even older, as his growth was being accelerated to the point where he could replace the original Superman, but he was broken out before he was ready.
  • Victor Mancha of Runaways. He's a cyborg implanted with false memories. He was built as a teenager, so he's approximately 15 years younger than he looks. Molly even comments that she forgot that he's younger than her.
  • Representative Joshua Freeh, of Transmetropolitan, is the product of a "Bastard Farm" given a wetware upgrade so he has full higher brain functions, created so the Big Bad would have a running mate with a clean-slate past.
    Spider Jerusalem: Josh Freeh was the perfect running mate. He had no skeletons in his closet. Hell, he's only two years old!
  • Both Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel, thanks to Older Alter Ego. Lampshaded in Formerly Known as the Justice League. At one point Captain Marvel had to break up with the teenaged superhero Stargirl because even though they were the same age, it just looked really creepy. It used to be even more extreme; Billy and Mary had the exact same superhero forms when they were pre-teens. Though Comic-Book Time makes this a very slow process, they're narrowing the age gap with their alter-egos. Given Black Adam's example, eventually they'll be Older Than They Look, as their Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel forms don't age at all.
  • Like Billy and Mary, there's Colin Wilkes from Streets of Gotham. With the Venom in his sytem activated, he's as brawny as Bane and looks completely like an adult thug. He's a hero and around the same age as Damian Wayne, who he (sort-of) befriends.
  • Snowbird of Alpha Flight was a fully grown woman at the age of six.
  • Prime of Ultraforce is really a thirteen-year-old boy who takes on an adult appearance when powered up. Makes for some raised eyebrows when he proudly announces that the thirteen-year-old girl he has a crush on is his girlfriend.
  • Jenny Quantum of The Authority looks about 14 or 15 in the 2000s. Actually, she was born at the turn of the century - she was just really sick of being treated like the little kid she was, and had the reality-warping power to change that.
  • The children of Mother of Champions, of the DC Comics Chinese superhero team The Great Ten, age 10 years every day. Between this, the fact they all have Super Strength, and the fact Mother can produce a new batch every three days, they are considered cannon fodder of the finest kind.
  • In Preacher, Starr meets Eisenstein, a key figure in the Grail in the 1970s, the man showing a horribly wrinkled face, hunched body and leaning on a cane. Almost 30 years later, Starr is shocked to meet with Eisenstein again, openly hissing "how can he be alive, he looked like a hundred when we met!" As if he's heard him, Eisenstein states that "I have looked like this since I was 12 years old."
  • Marvel Comics hero Rage was about 14 when he started his superhero career, but looked like he was at least 30 due to his gargantuan size and muscles. Prior to getting his powers he looked like a regular kid. In any case, this gives him the distinction of being the youngest Avenger ever - so young that when the team discovered his true age they sent him to the New Warriors and told him to come back when he was 18.
  • When Helen goes on her first date with Atomic Robo in The Deadly Art of Science, she does not react well to the discovery that Robo is only seven years old.
    Robo: Intellectually I'm twenty to twenty-five. It's not that bad.
    Helen: I need... I think what I need is a drink. And what'd going to the movies have to do with solving this case anyway?
    Robo: Well, sometimes it helps to step away from a problem.
    Helen: And sometimes you realize your boyfriend is eight years old.
    Robo: Seven. But, hey! Now "robot" isn't the weirdest part of our relationship.
  • Master Splinter, the aged mentor of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is younger than you'd think. Rats generally live less than three years (five is exceptional, and seven is the record). When the series begins (about fifteen years after his mutation) he'd still be less than twenty years old. Taken even farther in the IDW comics, where the story begins only 18 months after their mutation, making them all less than 5-7 years old at the most. Justified in that Splinter, and the Turtles to a lesser extent, have some memories of a past life.
  • Skaar, The Hulk's son. Looks like an adult in Hulk form, a teenager when in 'human' form, but in actual fact is only a couple of years old, thanks in part to his mother being an alien with an accelerated aging rate. His twin, Hiro-Kala, looks like a young teen.
  • In Star Wars Republic, there was a point in the Clone Wars where some Separatists were cloning Nikto, presumably to supplement the droids. The facility was discovered and went under siege, and the cloners decided to respond by bumping up the growth rate to get as many new adults as possible. This didn't work out too well in the end.
  • Sometimes superhero costumes can make people look older than they are. One issue had Green Arrow meeting a teenaged Batgirl for the first time. He mistook her for an adult until she mentioned he smelled like her dad due to his cologne.
  • Played for drama with the Astro City superhero Atomicus. While physically he looked like a fully-grown adult in his mid-thirties, emotionally he was a child, less than a year old. This causes problems when a Plucky Girl Intrepid Reporter misinterpreted his shyness as a challenge to discover his secret identity.
  • Superman: Depending on the Artist, Clark was this as a teenager. His Kryptonian genetics caused him to be naturally taller and more muscular than the other kids at his school.
  • Played for Drama with M.M.'s Bratty Teenage Daughter in The Boys. She has the looks and mentality of a young adult, but near the end of the series it's revealed that she's chronologically twelve but aged at an accelerated rate due to the Compound V in her system. By the end of the series she's quietly living on her own with no issues. Regardless of her physical age it still hits like a truck finding out a 12-year-old did mother-daughter porn.
  • In The Ravagers, Ridge is actually the youngest member of the team, but his monstrous form makes him look older.
  • The final arc of Tales of the Jedi, "Redemption," takes place a decade after the Great Sith Wars. By that time Ulic Qel-Droma would be in his late thirties at most, but he looks like a fifty-year-old man (albeit a buff one). Given the grief and guilt he's been carrying as an exile looking for somewhere to die, it's not surprising.
  • The Ultimates: The Colonel is a teenager, but as a super soldier he looks like he's in his mid-thirties.
  • Badrock from Youngblood is a 12 foot tall rock monster. At the start of the original series he's in his very early teens.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Goum is just seven years old, just like his twin sister, but was cursed to be fully grown so he could fight in the arena.

    Fan Works 
  • Legacy of ch'Rihan: Morgan t'Thavrau is 49, which is barely middle-aged for the Vulcan-descended Romulans, but she looks a lot older from having spent 21 years working in field and vineyard.
  • Professor Crescendo from The Dear Sweetie Belle Continuity is in his mid-thirties but has a gray mane due to a misfired spell and glasses from corrective surgery that keep Sweetie from realizing at first that he is her father.
  • We have this in Kill la Kill AU, with Shinseiji, who was "born" a toddler. However, she is, as her name suggests, a newborn. Justified in that she is an Artificial Human created by Nui to be her little sister from her parents' DNA.
  • Mandie from the Danny Phantom/The Fairly Oddparents fic Mandie's New Target is a Zig-Zagged example due to alien biology. In Boudacian (her species) years, she's 17, in Human years, she's 13, which is lampshaded. This is what she looks like.
    She is way younger than she looks!
  • Shinobi of the High Seas: Byron suspects that based on her immature attitude and how hard she fought against the effects of the truth serum when asked how old she was, that Jewelry Bonney is really a young girl using her devil fruit powers to look older.
  • In What About Witch Queen?, OC baron Hakan Madsen is said to look like elderly statesman, while being active army general, largely because he grayed early. In contrast, his son Kai is a case of Older Than They Look.
  • Due to the series' Dawson Casting, this comes up in Smoke and Mirrors where Harry Potter is baffled that every teen in Smallville looks to be at least college age. This especially comes up when Harry wonders how the six foot and 200+ pounds of muscle Clark is bullied and when he tries to pick up Chloe at first only to realize she's fifteen.
  • Shmi Skywalker in The Havoc Side of the Force is noted as being prematurely aged due to her life as a slave on Tatooine. Once she gets access to a doctor and a real shower (instead of a sonic one), she looks a decade younger.
  • In The Two Sides of Daring Do, the Daring Do clone looks identical in age to Yearing herself, but is only a few days old max by the end of the story. Even in the ending where she is aged down to a filly so she can have an actual childhood, she's the Cutie Mark Crusaders' age rather than her actual age.
  • Child of the Storm plays this for some realistic drama with Carol. She's about 14 or 15, but looks like she's in her twenties. This gets her lots of unwanted male attention, and makes it hard to fit in with people her own age.
  • Yin And Yang Series: Kirere, who is, time-wise, around three years old. Biologically and maturity-wise, she's eleven, thanks to her dad's Aging Ray Gun.
  • Harry in For Love of Magic spends a few years looking older than he actually is due to using runes to age himself faster, only to have to use more to stop it because by 13, he was six feet tall and had to shave daily.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Belladonna Tyrian is 16, but due to her height, curves and deep voice, people tend to assume she's older.
  • In Child(ish), Weapon X's experiments gave young Wade Wilson an Overnight Age-Up, so his apparent Psychopathic Manchild tendencies come from being an actual child (later teenager) running around in the body of an unkillable thirty year old.
  • Subverted in Overlady. Guiche and Montmorency assume the taller, bustier Kirche is 15 like them but she's actually 20. When they're surprised by it, she points out that not only has she been enrolled (and expelled) in multiple academies, but she's taller and bustier than all of their classmates.
  • Koopa don't age like humans in My Pain, My Thrill. Bowser Jr. was only one during Super Mario Sunshine and three during New Super Mario Bros Wii, but he seemed several years older. It's implied that koopa age quickly early on but slow down over time.
  • Escape From the Moon: In the later sequel Scavenge for the Future, Spliced Genome hasn’t aged in six thousand years.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Eri has an Older Alter Ego as the stunningly beautiful and mature Shazam... which means
  • A Possible Encounter for a Phantom: Ember McLain reveals she's 16 and Skulker is 19 in human years, thus meaning it's technically legal for her to hit on and kiss Danny Phantom, who is 14.
  • Cicada Psalms: Due to age and stress, Miyo looks a bit older than she actually is. She has more wrinkles and lines than most women her age.
  • In Scarlet Lady, it turns out this applies to Theo, who is actually the same age as the main cast and attends the same school. It's implied that he deliberately invokes this effect with his goatee; when one of the adults yells at him about how he should shave it off, he protests that it's the only reason his clients respect him.
  • Wicked Wiles: Grumpy looks like an old man, but he's actually young by dwarf standards.
  • In the Harvest Moon 64 fic Karen's Story, stress has aged Karen's mother Sasha prematurely.
  • The Wedding Crashers: Sam and Dean are disturbed when they find out that the bride-to-be at the titular wedding looks 17, but is actually around 10. Few others find a problem with this.
  • Taylor/Renée in Gambit is about the same age as she was at the start of Worm canon, being fifteen years old, but she physically looks more like a twenty-year-old college student.

    Films — Animation 
  • Maruti in The Return of Hanuman grows to be a primary school student by the age of 3... months.
  • Principal Milliken from Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. Dave mistakes her for being over-fifty, when she's really only thirty. She still has her blonde hair though. Her (apparent) early aging is due to how stressful her job is; she's getting an early retirement.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Animal House: "I'm only thirteen!" Hilariously, this was semi-unintentional on the part of the creators. They originally wanted her to be 16, but thought the censors would not allow (off-screen) sex between a minor and a college student. They decided to make her 13, expecting just such an objection so that they could propose a revised age of 16 as a reasonable compromise. To their surprise, the censors didn't complain at all.
  • Barbarella: The Big Bad, Durand Durand, is stated to be around 25 years old when the president describes him while briefing Barbarella, but looks middle-aged because living close to the Mathmos for about a year has aged him up considerably.
  • Tom Hanks' character in Big is a child in the body of an adult, thanks to a magic wishing machine.
  • J F Sebastian in Blade Runner is in his twenties, but he looks around fifty due to an aging disease (most likely Werner's syndrome, but named in the film as "Methuselah Syndrome"). The Replicants are created as young adults and have a four year lifespan.
  • In the famous 1951 film adaptation of The Browning Version, the main character, Andrew Crocker-Harris, looks like an old man despite being only 43. This is Justified in that Crocker-Harris has a chronic heart condition and has aged prematurely due to his unhappy life. Actor Michael Redgrave, who was also only 43 when he was cast, had to bleach his hair white and shave the back of his head to create a bald patch in order to look the part of Crocker-Harris.
  • In Catch Me If You Can, 16-year-old Frank Abagnale is played by 28-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio. This is justified by the fact that the real-life Abagnale also looked much older than he was, and in fact, his deceptive looks were a key part of how he was able to pull off his scams. After Agent Hanratty encounters him for the first time, he profiles Frank as someone being in his mid-to-late twenties.
  • Due to the maturity of the role in The Company of Wolves - about a girl discovering her sexual awakening - many fans assumed that the actress playing Rosaline was older than the character's age of twelve-thirteen. But Sarah Patterson actually was twelve.
  • The titular character of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, who starts life looking as an old man and dies as a baby, so as a child looks like a small eighty-year-old. He even says to another character early in the movie, "Seven. But I look a lot olda."
  • In Elf, while Buddy is working as a mail sorter, he and a fellow employee share a flask the latter has smuggled in, and the latter drunkenly laments the state of his life now that he's "twenty-six years old." In fact, the actor was in his mid-forties, and it shows. According to Favreau, this was meant to get a laugh.
  • In The First Wives Club, movie star Elsie confronts her ex-husband, Bill, who's sleeping with his latest star Phoebe (Elizabeth Berkley). Bill is smug talking of Elise obviously jealous of him with Phoebe as Elsie asks her age. When Bill says she's 21, Elsie smirks "In five years." She then produces a high school yearbook revealing Phoebe is actually only sixteen, a dropout using her more mature looks to get ahead in Hollywood. Bill is rocked to realize he's been sleeping with a minor, which Elsie uses to get him to help the Wives out.
  • Martin Brundle in The Fly II grows to physical adulthood by age 5 due to the fly DNA he inherited from his late father Seth Brundle. Then his condition takes a turn for the much, much worse.
  • In Frankenstein 1970, Victor von Frankenstein has been aged considerably by his treatment at the hands of the Nazis. He is the same age as his friend Gottfried, but looks decades older.
  • Ghost in the Shell: The Major and Kuze are both a bit younger than their 30-something cyborg bodies, as they're actually teenage runaways who were kidnapped by Hanka Robotics and converted against their will.
  • Peter Selleck (Rob Riggle) from The Goods, who is stated to be 10, despite looking like he's in his forties.
  • The Heat: Played for Laughs with Captain Woods, Mullins' superior, who points out the amount of stress Mullins causes him:
    Woods: This job is destroying me. [to Ashburn] Do you know how old I am?
    Ashburn: Uh, 58?
    Woods: I'm 43 years old! I have a 5-year-old son who calls me Grandpa!
  • The Island has clones that appear to be various ages, from thirties up to their sixties. It turns out that oldest ones are no more than four years old.
  • The concept to Jack starring Robin Williams was about a boy that ages four times faster than normal, with him having the body of a 40 year old with the mental age of 10.
  • In Morgan, Morgan is an Artificial Human who ages faster than normal. She looks to be in her mid- to late teens but is only 5.
  • A deleted scene in Napoleon Dynamite has the mustachioed transfer student Pedro exploit this to buy a lottery ticket. Peluca, the short film on which Napoleon Dynamite is based, has this scene as part of its central plot. The lottery scratcher gives the characters just enough money to buy a wig for another character who had shaved his head.
  • James Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is introduced at age 19, but as he's already played by then-29-year-old Jack Davenport, he comes off much older than Will and Elizabeth, who are only supposed to be about six years younger than he is but are played by child actors in the prologue. It's further complicated by the white wig he wears through the entire rest of Curse of the Black Pearl as part of his formal naval uniform. Averted in the sequel, Dead Man's Chest, where he has fallen from grace and his real (brown) hair has outgrown the wig, making him look his actual age. By the third film, At World's End, he's back in the white wig, but the effect is different, as he's much less comfortable in his EITC uniform and the wig is made to look even more artificial and unsuitable.
  • Seeing Double had clones of S Club and various other celebrities that were artificially aged so they could take their places, but kept in a childlike state.
  • In Star Wars:
    • The clones are altered to grow twice as fast in order to be battle-ready sooner. The Star Wars Expanded Universe features a Jedi being confused because she senses a child in the Force, but sees a grown man.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Anakin Skywalker is portrayed by Sebastian Shaw in his late 70s. According to the official timeline, Anakin was 45 at this point. Similar to Palpatine below, this could be attributed to a combination of Dark Side corruption and getting burned alive on Mustafar.
    • For that matter, between the voice modulator set at James Earl Jones since the first minute, being nearly seven feet tall and the all encompassing armor, Darth Vader gives the impression of being a middle aged man. He was only 23 when it first came on and never got to fifty.
    • In Episode III, the soon-to-be-Emperor Palpatine ages to about 110 in a matter of seconds (he was really 63). The Expanded Universe came up with the idea that it was his normal appearance (after years of Dark Side corruption), but he was disguised in some way, and the stress of his battle with Windu broke that beyond repair.
    • Padmé in The Phantom Menace is a fourteen-year-old queen who wears a lot of ceremonial makeup and elaborate costumes, apparently to disguise the fact that she's so young. Even still, she's actually the elected leader, so the people must be well aware of her age.
    • In A New Hope, Obi-Wan is just shy of sixty but looks like he's well past seventy. Living in the desert for twenty years has that effect on him.
  • Trainspotting: Mark Renton meets Diane in a club, then goes to her house where they have sex. Immediately after the act she kicks him out of her room and he sleeps on a sofa. In the morning it's revealed that she's underage. She even threatens to report him for sex with a minor if he doesn't see her again.note 
  • One horror example exists in Warlock, in which the title character curses the female protagonist to age 10 or 20 years for each night that passes. She remarks to Redfern, "This is worse than death", to which he replies, "That's what he had in mind."
  • Ree's mother in Winter's Bone. She's probably in her late 30s but looks more like 60.
  • X-Men: First Class: Erik Lehnsherr is around the same age as Charles Xavier (late twenties/early thirties), but the former appears considerably older because Michael Fassbender looks older than his actual age (he has a lot of lines on his face) while the baby-faced James McAvoy looks younger despite there being a only two-year age gap between the two actors.

    Jokes 
  • A German joke, sometimes attributed to Heinz Rudolf Kunze: "A few minutes later he straightened with agonizing effort again and lurched to the sink in the corner. He stared at a hideous goblin with spotty face and strands of hair stuck in dried vomit; his emaciated bones stood out of the skin hanging down in flabby flaps; his stomach was bloated, his legs were crooked and arthritic, the face of one beaten poor devil at the end of a long and lonely ride... Waitaminnit! He looked at a poster of Iggy Pop."
  • A young woman walked up to a man who was sitting in a rocking chair on his porch.
    The Woman: You look so happy. What do you consider the secret to a long and happy life?
    The Man: Well, you see, every day I smoke six packs of cigarettes, drink nothing but whisky until I pass out every night, eat nothing but candy and desserts, and I never ever exercise.
    The Woman: That's amazing! If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?
    The Man: Twenty-three.

    Literature 
  • In the works of Stephen King:
    • In The Green Mile, a supposedly elderly couple turned out to watch John Coffey's execution. They turn out to be the 30-something parents of the two dead girls that drove the story.
    • In The Stand, Nadine has prematurely grey hair which later turns completely white. She's in her mid-30s.
  • The Alice Network: When Eve points out that Cameron's cover as her uncle is less than plausible given that he isn't that much older than her, he tells her that he looks 10 years older than he is (and that she looks 5 years younger than she is). Eve conjectures that this is due to stress.
  • Laura Danker in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is eleven but she hit puberty around fourth grade. As a result she's quite physically mature for her age. She's also a Huge Schoolgirl who is taller than the boys and is almost as tall as many of the adults.
  • Book of the New Sun: With most characters treating him as an adult (you gotta grow up fast when you’re living After the End) and his constant boasting about his maturity, it’s easy to forget that Severian’s only about eighteen at most during the events of the story. Definitely adds another layer to his constant unreliable narration.
  • In Brave New World this is mentioned as an attempt to create lower-caste proletarian workers who efficiently skip all those useless developmental years, but the six-year-old men and women are too mentally under-developed, and the program fails.
  • Somewhat subverted in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield's hair is starting to grey on one side as a teenager, and he claims several times that it makes him look more mature than he is, but hardly anyone is fooled when he tries to pass for older.
  • Chalion: Lupe dy Cazaril from The Curse of Chalion is only in his mid thirties, but not only is his beard mostly grey but by the time he mostly recovers from the debilitating aftereffects of his time in a Slave Galley he comes down with miracle-induced terminal cancer.
  • Derek from Darkest Powers is only sixteen but looks several years older. When Chloe's dad says that Chloe has been kidnapped, people who recognize Chloe believe Derek kidnapped her.
  • Alfie, a Scottish Deerhound, from Dear Hound is only a puppy but due to his huge size he is mistaken for an adult.
  • The "old man" in "A Descent Into the Maelstrom" by Edgar Allan Poe is this as well as Locked into Strangeness.
  • Wilbur Whateley of H. P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror grew unnaturally quickly — he could speak like an adult and read books by the age of one year and seven months, and was adult-sized by the age of ten. Though that's hardly the most inhuman thing about him...
  • While it's unclear how old The Giver actually is, it's (very briefly) mentioned that the stress of keeping all the memories is part of the reason he looks so old.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Although it's not emphasized as much in the books (and is dispelled somewhat by the later novels), the popular image of Severus Snape falls into this trope. Partly due to Adaptation Displacement by the much older Alan Rickman's brilliant performance as Snape in the movies, partly due to his being a peer to much older characters like Dumbledore and McGonagall, and partly due simply to Snape's own scowling personality, it's very easy to forget that he was barely in his thirties when the series began.
    • This is averted by Lupin in the books. Although he is described as ill-looking and prematurely greying (implied to be a side effect of his lycanthropy), he still looks his age:
      Though quite young, his light brown hair was flecked with grey.
    • Also Peter Pettigrew, described as a balding, unkempt-looking man, despite being only in his early thirties when exposed by Sirius and Lupin. Explainable by the fact that he's spent nearly thirteen years on the run, and in the guise of a rat.
  • One character in Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted has progeria (which makes him look like an old withered man), and lives in a nursing home. He tells his nurses that he's 18 and wants to experience sex just once before he dies. After they fall for his con, he tells them the truth: he's 13, and he'll report them to the authorities if they don't give him all of their money.
  • In Homecoming (Drizzt), Yvonnel Baenre II looks like a beautiful young woman despite being an infant chronologically. This is because she was infused with the memories of her namesake (the most powerful Drow Matron Mother of all) while in the womb. She was thus born self-aware with the magical knowledge of her predecessor. Deciding that being an infant was boring, she purposefully used an older version of the Haste spell that had Rapid Aging as a side-effect to become a young adult.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, Sophie is a teenager who ends up trapped in the body of an old woman because of a curse.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Archdeacon Claude Frollo is only 36 years old yet he is nearly bald. The story takes place in medieval France. 40 was considered pretty old, so to be bald at 36 is not unreasonable. (And even today, many men go bald in their mid-twenties.) There's also the medieval Catholic custom of "taking the tonsure," which meant that members of the clergy shaved a circle on top of their head that coincidentally resembled male-pattern baldness. This is why Friar Tuck is always portrayed as bald, by the by.
  • Phereniq Kala and Augon Hunnamek in Infanta are supposed to be of an age. However, Phereniq's work to further Augon's ambitions has aged her before her time.
  • In The Infernal Devices, Charlotte's small size is countered by the air of competence she exudes, and Tessa says she had assumed her to be much older than twenty-three.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: After first meeting Kvothe, Chronicler has to amend his impression of the man's age several times, first realizing that he's younger than 30, then deciding that he's not a day over 25. Kvothe has seen and done quite a lot in his short life.
  • In Mary Renault's The King Must Die, Theseus says he is 19 because he worries that people will think 16 is too young for a king.
  • In Lord of Light, a teenaged Yama caused an explosion which mortally wounded him, and necessitated his transfer into the only available body—that of a sixty year old man.
  • Maximum Ride:
    • Nudge. Angel even wonders if a boy looking at her in Fang that's around sixteen knows that Nudge is only twelve.
    • Dylan appears to be around Max's and Fang's age, but really nine months old.
    • Ari. His appearance is that of an adult man, but really is only around seven years old.
    • In the manga, Max looks like she's in her late twenties.
  • Constance from The Mysterious Benedict Society looks and acts like an elementary aged Bratty Half-Pint who is probably younger than eight. She is two.
  • Played with in the Old Kingdom books. In order to get Sam to leave her alone, Lirael lies and tells him she's a very young-looking 35. She's 19. He believes her.
  • Nancy from Oliver Twist says she is "younger than you would think, to look at me", having been prematurely aged by a hard life of poverty and prostitution.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Eddard Stark looked older than 35 because of the streaks of white on his beard and the way he carried himself in general.
    • The youthful Asha Greyjoy sees an unfamiliar old man who calls her by name. It takes her a moment to realize that he's her younger brother Theon, who has been broken by torture.
  • In Star Trek: New Frontier, Xy, the son of Burgoyne and Selar, is the chief science officer of the Excalibur...at 5 years old. He's cursed to rapidly age and die very young thanks to the intermingling of Hermat and Vulcan DNA until his mother gives her life to find him a life-extending drug.
  • In another Star Trek Expanded Universe novel, "Immortal Coil", Rhea McAdams becomes the new security officer of the Enterprise...despite being a barely two-week old android.
  • In Teacher Trouble by Alexander McCall Smith, the 12-year-old heroine looks so mature for her age that on her first day of high school she is mistaken for a teacher and left in charge of a class.
  • Of all places, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles gives a passing mention to how Tess, at 15, possesses a "fullness" (Is That What They're Calling It Now?) that suggests that she appears much more mature, physically and emotionally, than she really is.
  • In Those Who Survive, Thomas Hind looks and behaves like an elderly man. He's really barely forty. Justified, since the book's a Wilderness Survival Plot that takes place on an extremely unfriendly planet.
  • In Twilight Edward and Bella's daughter Renesmee will look like she's 17 at the age of seven due to her being a hybrid.
  • Victor Dashkov from Vampire Academy is in his forties. The disease which is slowly killing him, also prematurely ages him so that he looks twice his actual age.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan tends to straddle this trope and its inverse. His short height, slight build, and high pitched voice cause people to subconsciously register him as a child; however the facial lines caused by constant pain for most of his life means that only a slight adjustment of tone, expression, and body language is needed to convince people he is at least a decade older than he actually is.
  • Warhammer 40,000: In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Salvation's Reach, Meritous Felyx Chass is actually 11, but juvenat and other bio-treatments were used to age him up to 17 effective.
  • Warrior Cats: Bluestar was only 6 1/2 years old when she died. For cats, this is middle-aged at most. Despite this, prior to her death, she is repeatedly mentioned as seeming elderly and old. This is due to the mental strain caused by her Sanity Slippage combined with the rough life of a feral cat (nevermind being The Leader of a large clan). Word of God is that she also suffered from dementia.
  • Aeduen from The Witchlands is very close to Iseult's age, but she initially assumes he's much older because of the serious, reserved way he speaks and carries himself.
  • At the start of No Longer Human, we are shown three pictures of the main character Yozo at different points in his life: one as a child, one as a college student, and one in old age. By the end of the book, it is revealed that Yozo's life was so horrendously stressful that the photo of him in old age (described as looking around 40) is actually him at age 27.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2 Broke Girls: In "And the Hold-Up", a second-season episode, three different characters give a Big "WHAT?!" when they find out that Han, who they had thought to be in his 50s, is only 29.
  • 10 Things I Hate About You: In the TV adaptation, the character of Patrick Verona looked like he was around 19-21 years old, but was actually a high school junior. The actor who played him was only slightly older than he looked, being 22-23 when the series was shot. Walter even points this out to Kat, calling him her 'friend with the disturbingly deep voice who looks much older than 17.'
  • The 4400: Isabelle Tyler, the toddler daughter of two adult characters, ages herself to an adult, killing her mother in the process. As a three-year-old in the body of a twenty-something, she seduces a male character, has a sexual relationship with him and then blackmails him into staying when he threatens to leave her, because she's psychotic and murderous in addition to being really three years old. Squicky much?
  • Are You Being Served?: Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold) played the part of a middle manager, but he was in reality only five months older than Trevor Bannister (Mr. Lucas), who portrayed a junior.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): The Brother Cavil/Number One model of Cylon looks like an old man but is 30-40. No doubt being permanently old is one of the reasons he's so cranky, along with removing his own need for sleep.
  • The Brady Bunch: Jan and Peter Brady went from looking their ages (14 and 15) in the fourth season to looking 18, just a year later.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dawn, who is created fully formed at age 14. On the other hand, she is also the Key, which is nearly as old as the universe.
  • CHiPs: A B-story in one episode contains Ponch becoming fixated over a model on a billboard. By the end of the episode his fellow officers finally give him a chance to meet the young woman, who turns out to be very young - 14 to be exact.
  • Diff'rent Strokes: The 1981 episode "The Older Man" – a crossover episode with The Facts of Life due to appearances by Lisa Whelchel and Mindy Cohn (as Blair and Natalie, respectively) – sees 15-year-old Kimberly pout over having to be a young teen-ager and unable to land a desirable date. Blair agrees to give Kimberly a wig and puts on makeup that makes her look like she's in her early 20s. This has unintended consequences when she lands a date with a 25-year-old man named Mike. Arnold and Willis know what this means and try to disrupt the date at the movie theater. Fortunately, Mr. Drummond finds out and intervenes before Mike even thinks about his next move – and Mike seems genuinely surprised (and aghast) when he learns he was dating someone who was in her mid-teens. (Fortunately for Mike, Drummond lets him off the hook because of Kimberly's deception, particularly because he could have had him arrested for any number of sex-related charges and caused him a lifetime of negative consequences.)
  • Doctor Who:
    • When he started playing the Doctor, William Hartnell was only fifty-five, but looked at least twenty years older. Apparently, this was due to his drinking habit, which led to his death at the age of 67.
    • "The Doctor's Daughter" has a planet where everyone is born as an adult and with all the knowledge they need downloaded into them. The titular daughter, Jenny, is an example.
    • The Sontarans, a mass-produced clone race engaged in an unending war, are similar:
      "I've had a good life. I'm nearly 12."
  • Earth: Final Conflict: Liam Kincaid, one of the revolving door protagonists, is born at the beginning of Season 2 and almost immediately grows to adulthood, both physically and mentally. With the memories of all 3 parents, including the show's Magnificent Bastard.
  • Famous In Love uses this as a major plot point. For years, producer Nina has been having an affair with her son Rainer's best friend, Jordan. They met when Jordan was on a teenage TV show and Nina assumed that he was simply playing younger (Rainer claims to be 20 when he's really 23). When Jordan's girlfriend, Tangey, finds out, she tries to blackmail Nina to get her career going. At first, Nina refuses but then Tangey reveals that Jordan lied about his age to get that role. He was only sixteen when he and Nina began their affair, meaning Nina will go to jail if it's exposed.
  • Friends:
    • In the episode "The One With The Ick Factor", Monica, who is in her mid to late twenties, dates and has sex with a young man named Ethan (played by Stan Kirsch) who told her that he was a senior in college, while she tells him she's 22 (rather than 26). When she comes clean about her age, she is shocked to find out he lied as well, and is really a senior in high school. It was his first time, too, but she is not too happy doing what would "make one of us a felon in 48 states."
    • In one episode Phoebe looks at an old picture from when Monica and Rachel were teenagers. She guesses they're sixteen in the photo but Rachel says she was actually twelve - and just "developed early".
      Phoebe: Man alive!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Emilia Clarke would have been 24 years old at the time of the series debut in 2011, but Daenerys Targaryen is approximately 13 in the pilot episode.
    • Gregor Clegane was old enough to be knighted by Prince Rhaegar approximately 18 years before the first season and he is five years older than his brother. Hafthór Björnsson plays a character ten years older than he is while Rory McCann plays a character at least 15 years younger than he is. In reality, the older brother is 20 years younger than the younger brother.
    • Stannis Baratheon in Season 3, as a consequence of Melisandre taking his life force to make her shadow-child.
    • Aeron Greyjoy is meant to be several years younger than Balon, but the fully white hair and much more weathered appearance of Aeron, particularly in Season 6, don't make this readily apparent. Although this may be Reality Is Unrealistic as actor-wise the ages more or less sync up (Michael Feast is nearly two years younger than Patrick Malahide).
    • Sansa Stark begins to look much older than her canon age of fourteen by Season 4, since actress Sophie Turner understandably aged while playing her. Season 5 onwards kept Sansa's age vague for this reason.
  • Gotham: "Poison" Ivy Pepper has been aged up twice by Applied Phlebotinum. While she looks more kiddish than Bruce and Selina in the first two seasons, by the middle of season 4 she's a plant person with the appearance of a woman in her thirties. She's still sulky and immature in a lot of ways.
  • Greek:
    • Similar, but slightly Squickier, in , Casey brings a date to show up Rebecca (who's with Cappie at the time) at a double date sorority party. Cut to her in bed with him...and his mother waking him up to go to school. To high school. He's 16.
    • Also, Heath's sister...does not look 15, much to Beaver's dismay when he hit on her during Parents' Week. Although you do have to Take Our Word for It....
  • Hannah Montana: In one early episode, a boy had a crush on Miley. The boy looked like he was around 13 or 14, which at the time was the same age as Miley. Eventually, he invites her to his birthday party, which to her shock had balloons and other party accessories like confetti. The boy was 11.
  • The Inbetweeners: One episode had a mechanic who was really fifteen but looked to be in his mid-thirties.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In one episode, Charlie starts a relationship with an Asian girl while his friends conspire to get her to participate in a wet T-shirt contest. To their horror, they discover that she's only 12 years old. Luckily, Frank is able to jump in front of the water blast aimed for her, and Charlie never so much as kissed her.
  • Kamen Rider Amazons: In series 1, the Amazons were created 2-5 years ago, but vary in age from 16 (Mamoru) to middle aged (various guest characters); protagonist Haruka is 20, but he too was created only two years previously. Series 2 protagonist Chihiro was born around 2-3 years into the five-year Time Skip; due to accelerated aging from his Amazon genes, he is already into his late teens.
  • Law & Order: One episode had two fashion models, one the Victim of the Week and her "workmate" who both had a few racy photoshoots. The victim was 14 and her acquaintance is in the eighth grade.
  • Little House on the Prairie: The 1981 episode "Sylvia" was about Albert's friend (and very quickly, girlfriend), a 14-year-old girl who matures early and as a result, faces ridicule from the school. She will quickly become the target of a child rapist (a man wearing a metal clown mask) and — after the rapist impregnates her — the subject of both scandal (thanks to Mrs. Olesen spreading an outright lie that Albert had done the deed) and being callously cast out by her cold, uncaring father. In the end, Sylvia has another run-in with the rapist, and is killed after falling from a rickety ladder trying to escape.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Malcolm and his Dad got in trouble because of this trope. Malcolm beat up a kid who was bullying him but was really 7 years old, despite being bigger than Malcolm. The kid's brother picked a fight with Hal (said brother is at least one head taller than Hal). We cut to Hal mentioning that there was no way to know he was 15.
  • Despite playing Mama in Mama's Family, Vicki Lawrence was only in her thirties at that time.
  • The Mighty Boosh: In the episode The Fountain of Youth, Howard reveals that he and Vince are the same age despite his much older appearance. Vince claims Howard has always looked more mature than him, even in school (the accompanying flashback showing that while they were both children, Howard still had the appearance of a man in his late thirties).
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: The biddies have the appearance and remaining life expectancy of elderly women, as they've willingly transferred their youth to general Alder.
  • Mork & Mindy: Orkans are born looking old and grow younger looking as they age, so when they're old they look like babies. Jonathan Winters plays M&M's son in later seasons.
  • New Girl: The episode "Kids" contains Jess taking care of her boyfriend's 14-year-old daughter, who is also one of her pupils, and begins to fall hard for Nick. Meanwhile Nick himself brings home a woman he meets in an art museum, and we later find, she isn't that much older than the little girl Jess is taking care of. (Nick knew she was in college, he just didn't know she was a college freshman.)
  • Once Upon a Time: 28-year-old Emma Swan is stated to be 18 when she got pregnant with Henry. However, the flashback episode "Tallahassee" showed that her teenage self looked no different that herself in the present day, save for a pair of glasses and different hairstyle and clothes. She also looks no different than her present-day self in her jail flashbacks. Making this especially odd is that her sixteen-year-old self looks much younger.
  • The Onion News Network ran a piece about the downfall of "America's Wealthiest Meth Dealer" where the joke is depicting him as still almost or barely out of being "homeless", and apparently the tipping point was when the law turned his top lieutenant against him by offering him a cup of coffee — having been notable in the context of the homeless drug scene for "only" looking 63 at 35.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): At the end of "In the Zone", Tanner and Jessica Brooks discover that Dr. Michael Chen, who appears to be in his mid-60s, is only 30 years old. He had previously used his experimental treatment to tap into the power of the nervous system on himself and entered an accelerated time zone just as Tanner did.
  • Party of Five Season 1 has a plot point where Julia - who is fifteen - can pass for over twenty-one to work in a bar with a fake ID. And she even has a fling with the bar's owner - who is not happy to discover that he's been seeing a teenager all this time. Her actress Neve Campbell was nineteen at the time.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: Mackenzie Hartford looks like a 17 or 18-year-old when he first appears. Later in the series, he is revealed to be a 2-year-old android, which makes him the youngest ranger, even younger than Justin Stewart from Turbo. This was the subject of a lot of jokes among the fandom, leading fans to label Andrew Hartford as weird for creating a son who was already physically mature.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Cameron can easily pass herself off as a teenager or twenty-something, but she is nowhere near as old, having been modeled to assassinate John Connor in the future by assuming the form of a woman he knows.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: Luke Smith, who is grown in an alien laboratory, is born in the first episode ("Invasion of the Bane") as 13/14-ish year old boy who is as capable as your average teen... in fact more. But he acts naive and innocent as he has no life experience.
  • Scrubs: Parodied in one episode, when the Janitor takes offence at Carla thinking he's forty-five, explaining he looks older because "I drink and smoke heavily, and work with chemicals, and sleep on my face". He's forty-three.
  • Shameless (US): Frank Gallagher is said to have been born in 1964, but is played by William H. Macy, who was born in 1950. Justified in that Frank is a notorious substance abuser.
  • Sister, Sister: One episode featured Tamera falling for a cute boy on her bus, who invited her to his birthday party. To her horror, it was his 12th birthday.
    Boy's mom: Who wants to watch Aladdin?
  • Space: Above and Beyond: The In Vitroes are decanted from their tanks with the apparent physical age of 18. Cooper Hawkes is just six years old at the beginning of the series, with T.C. McQueen being considerably older, but still younger than his middle-aged appearance would indicate.
  • Stargate SG-1: Another case of magical (or close enough) rapid aging is Adria, born from a regular character and aged into her apparent 20s in a matter of days.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Kes looks like a 20-something... but she's not human; she's actually about 2 years old when she joins up. Her species has an average lifespan of about 9 years, with the idea of making it to twelve being shocking.
    • Also, 20-25ish year old Seven of Nine has the emotional age of six when she joins the series, thanks to living as a Borg drone since that age. Her initial mannerisms and speech don't suggest it, but especially once you get to "The Raven", it's clear just how badly assimilation hurt her and how she hasn't been able to move on.
    • The Jem'Hadar of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are able to fight within hours of being born from their test tubes. While no maximum age is given—they may even live as long as humans—they're considered "honored elders" by the age of twenty because they were created with almost no survival instinct to be soldiers and/or cannon fodder for the Dominion.
      • Many Vorta, being clones, are also younger than they look. Consider Weyoun, who has a pretention for getting killed (often). Many of the Weyoun clones are merely months or even weeks old when we meet them, and *some* have lifespans shorter than a year.
  • Step by Step: In a 1994 episode centering on prom night for 17-year-old J.T. and 18-year-old Dana, J.T.'s friends set him up with a girl that could pass for 15 ... but to J.T.'s horror is actually 13! (A joke that in real life, could have gotten either J.T. in trouble for statutory rape, or his buddies expelled from school for a very cruel, very sick joke.)
  • Supernatural:
    • Jack looks like he's in his late teens. However, he was born into that body and by the midpoint of season 12 only a few months have passed since his birth.
    • When Mary is resurrected in season 12, she's chronologically in her early 60s. However, she died in her late 20s so it makes since that she doesn't look like a sixty year old. However, the show used the same actor from season 1 and the actress is now in her mid-40s and does not look like a 20-something year old. This makes Mary both older and younger than she looks.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Has Yuusaku Hayakawa (a.k.a. MegaSilver), a 25-year-old who could pass for 30.
    • Ressha Sentai ToQger: The core members of the team turned out to really be kids all along but they were given more adult bodies in order to fight the Shadow Line.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "In His Image", Walter Ryder, Jr. reveals to Alan Talbot that he is an eight-day-old android.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Our Selena is Dying", Debra Brockman and her cousin Diane are both in their late 20s or early 30s but have the appearance of women in their 70s as they have had their Life Energy stolen by Selena and Martha respectively.
  • On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, when Kimmy goes to a college party, she flirts with a student there, only for him to hand her a waiver. When she doesn't sign it, he calls his mother and gives the phone to Kimmy, who then learns that he's 17.
  • V (1983-85): Elizabeth, the half-human half-alien "starchild" from this Sci-Fi series. Like scores of other "magical" children in TV-land, she grew rapidly after conception (the typical TV Express Delivery) and after birth, becoming first a pre-teen girl and then undergoing a metamorphosis blatantly scripted so that they could swap the girl actress for a 20-year old actress in a white dress. She, being a starchild, had mystical healing powers! Even though neither of her parent races had such powers. Gah.
  • The X-Files:
    • Gillian Anderson was 25 when she started playing Agent Dana Scully, who looks (though this is mainly due to the way she dresses) and acts several years older.
    • In the revival episode "This" Mulder and Scully view the Lone Gunmen's graves at Arlington. Mulder sees Frohike's birth and death dates and asks Scully if he looked 57 when he died. Scully responds, "Frohike looked 57 the day he was born."
  • The TV Land series Younger centers around this trope. A 40-year-old woman re-enters the job market after a divorce, only to find that nobody wants to hire someone her age. So she gets a makeover and passes for 26.
  • Ciri in The Witcher is confirmed to be 12 in the first season of the show, but is played by the 17-year old Freya Allan, who, while youthful, certainly doesn't look like a preteen. Jaskier also doesn't visibly age in the almost 20 years that the season passes through, but that's true to the books. And naturally all magic users, the Witchers included, stop visibly ageing somewhere from their 20s to 40s, depending on their personal preference.

    Music 
  • Jackson Browne's song "Cocaine" has a line that goes "Son, it says here you're 27, but that's impossible. You look like you could be 45," due to the protagonist's cocaine use.
  • Implied in Tanya Tucker's "I Believe The South Is Gonna Rise Again" with the line about her sharecropper father who "died a tired old man at 44."
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and their 1988 rap hit "Parents Just Don't Understand." The entire second verse deals with a situation where the 16-year-old protagonist, while driving around in his father's Porsche that he had taken without permission, picks up what he thinks is a hot, hot, hot, HHHHHHHHOOOOOOOTTTTT!!!!! (wolf-whistle) girl about his age to go out for a ride and maybe start a relationship. At one point, the girl begins to unbutton her blouse and begins acting suggestive toward the teen-aged boy. However, he is caught speeding by the police ... and then learns the girl is not 16 BUT A 12-YEAR-OLD RUNAWAY!!!!! (Needless to say, as implied by the protagonist's lament at the end, his parents were not happy; in the very least, he's jailed for grand theft auto, harboring a runaway, driving without a license and various traffic charges and had the cops not pulled him might have done something with the girl constituting a sex crime, leading to him being on the offender registry. Face it, wanting to be cool may cost him decades in prison.)

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Older Than Feudalism: The Greco-Roman goddess Athena/Minerva was born fully grown (most images depict her as being about in her mid-twenties at the time of her birth). It's very telling that this is one of the less incredible aspects of her birth story. She doesn't age, so it quickly turned into a case of Older Than They Look.
    • When Artemis was born, her mother Leto gave her some nectar and ambrosia (the food of the gods), which caused her to grow up within a day. As such she was able to serve as midwife for the birth of her twin brother, Apollo.
  • The Táin Bó Cúailnge of Celtic Mythology suggests that Cu Chulainn matured quite a bit earlier than most people do - he apparently wooed Emer and took up training with Scáthach at age six.
  • In The Talmud, Rabbi Elazar is temporarily appointed to lead the Sages at the age of eighteen. His wife comments that it's inappropriate for someone without any white hairs to lead his elders, so a miracle occurs and gives Elazar Mystical White Hair.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • WWE Diva Molly Holly. In 2002, Molly dyed her hair brown (she's a natural brunette, but years of bleaching her hair blond had fried it) and adopted a prude persona, wearing very matronly-looking outfits. Fans said she looked like "a middle-aged soccer mom" and Jerry Lawler frequently made jokes about her being old and ugly, even though she was only in her mid-20s and was among the youngest women in the company. Ten years on from her retirement, she got comments that she looked younger than when she was first in the company.
  • Liv Morgan and Aliyah did a live Q&A with fans once where they invited people to guess their age (they are both the same age at the time) and burst out laughing when the first guess was 'thirty' (another guess said forty-five, but that was probably just trolling). They were twenty-one at the time, which to be fair was another guess, showing that this trope is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.

    Radio 
  • Adventures in Odyssey had an episode where two boys get stuck inside a computer and meet a boy named Gregory who despite looking like an old man of 70 was in fact 12 due to having his life sucked away by playing computer games. The adventure (along with Gregory) was just a virtual reality simulation.

    Roleplay 
  • Robert "Bobby" Jacks, Adam Dodd, and Nicole Husher from Survival of the Fittest are all teenagers, yet they look like young adults. Bobby is a large, muscular, professional boxer who has spent almost his entire life devoted to the sport, causing him to look much older; Dodd had always looked a bit older than he actually was, but the horrors of the first game added a great deal to that; Nicole, meanwhile, developed very quickly due to an early onset of puberty, causing her to appear to be a few years older than she actually is, with predictable results when she reached middle school-age.
  • In Darwin's Soldiers, most Pelvanida experiments are much younger than they look. This is justified because they were grown with accelerated growth chambers.
    • Neku looks and acts like a 17 year old but is 6.
    • Snow looks and acts like a twenty year old but is the same age as Neku.
    • Chase looks and acts like a twelve year old. He is two years old.
    • John "Johnny" Smith is an extreme case. He looks and acts like a thirty four year old. He is seven.
    • Sabre 9 looks and acts like a thirty one year old. He is eight.
    • Ice looks and acts like a thirty two year old. He is the same age as Sabre 9.
    • Walter "Wally" O'Pierce looks and acts like a thirty four year old. He is ten.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Every Ganymedian in the Tethus range on Rocket Age's Venus is younger than they look. After the Soviet ship they were on board crash landed, the plant-like Ganymedians found that the soil and plant-life of Venus caused them to grow much faster and with more fertility. This means that all the Ganymedian children on the range and grassland have the minds of infants and that the adults are aging at an incredible rate.

    Video Games 
  • Dragalia Lost has this happen in its comic, Dragalia Life, when Valyx, the Fourth Scion of Alberia, gives a girl who scrapes her knee his handkerchief. She thanks him and calls him an old man which cuts deep into him, with the comic pointing out he's 22 while looking like he's a grizzled army commander.
  • In the Guilty Gear series, the titular Gears share a common trait of maturing rapidly when they aren't created from already adult humans like Testament and Sol Badguy. This particular trait is best shown in Dizzy, a half-Gear who is only three years old in her first game despite having the appearance of a young woman in her twenties, and her son Sin, a quarter-Gear who is at most five despite looking like a late teenager.
  • The same can be said of the Murakumo units of sister series BlazBlue; while they mostly lack official ages, they were activated far sooner than their appearance would suggest, and the only one with a known birth date, Mu (aka Noel Vermillion) appears as a late teen despite being only five years old. Likewise, while Nu behaves like a teenaged yandere when she isn't Machine Monotone, it's implied she went through several similar bodies with short operational lifespans, the latest literally being activated right in front of Ragna.
  • Teira, one of the female companion choices in the Shadowlords series (fan-made expansion for Neverwinter Nights) is nineteen. Due to the side effects of a dangerous spell she was forced to use to escape a prison before the game begins, she looks like she is twenty-five or thirty.
  • The Numan Rika in Phantasy Star IV looks to be in her late teens/early twenties, but is really only a year old.
    • Nei and Neifirst from Phantasy Star II also fit into this category only having existed for one and two years respectively.
  • Amoretta the Homunculus of GrimGrimoire measures her lifespan in days (about 3 months), despite having the body of a young woman.
  • Chronologically in Devil May Cry Dante and Vergil were only 19 in the third game which is a prequel, they don't look nearly that young, especially Vergil. Lady is a similar boat being explicitly younger than the aforementioned brothers making her about 17 at the very least, but she physically looks more mature thanks to what she's experienced. Though unfortunately that also makes Dante hitting on Lady, technically illegal by Western Standards. However she may be 18, given the Vague Age-ness of most of the characters.
    • Trish the buxom Femme Fatale is implied to being only created recently by Mundus in the first game therefore making her only a few years old by the time of Devil May Cry 4.
    • V from Devil May Cry 5 despite looking like a young man is actually only a month old being a Soul Jar separated from Vergil, V even subtly lampshades it as when meeting Dante he jokes that he was born yesterday. He was.
  • Jack in BioShock is implied to be only a couple years old, yet he seems to be an adult. You find an audio diary describing the progress of an accelerated growth treatment, but you may not immediately realize who the unnamed test subject is.
  • In BioShock Infinite, Zachary Comstock is the same age as Booker DeWitt, being an alternate reality version of him, but appears to be older due to the Luteces' experiments taking a toll on his health.
  • Tales of the Abyss:
    • Every replica, of course, the main examples being Luke, Ion and Sync. It's even pointed out that Luke is essentially only seven years old.
    • Van comes off as a middle-aged man, at least in the English version, but according to his bio he's only 27. It doesn't help that his hair color makes it look as though his hair is graying. The skit "Brother And Sister" suggests that he invoked this trope, as Tear tells Luke that he grew a beard to seem older in response to other members of the Order being jealous of his rising so high so quickly.
  • Tales of Destiny 2: Though Reala's official (mental) age is 16, she's an Artificial Human born from a Lens during the events of the game, and thus is technically not even a year old.
  • While Mortal Kombat averts this, there's Mileena. She looks like she's in her early 20s, but due to being created in Mortal Kombat 9, she's actually 1 month old. Mortal Kombat X fixes this by making her 19 years old due to the Time Skip.
  • Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is in his early forties, but looks like he's in his eighties because he was genetically altered to age prematurely and die as a form of planned obsolescence. To rub it in that much more, his codename on his final mission is "Old Snake", though no one ever vocalizes the "Old" part except for Meryl as an insult. It even makes his Psyche gauge drop.Behind the scenes 
    • Otacon affectionately calls him "Old Snake" in Gratuitous English in the Japanese version, although it was removed from the English one.
    • His younger brother, Solidus, looked a lot older than him in MGS2.
    • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Sunny looks more like a 14 year old rather than a 10 year old.
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
    • Oswin's B Support with Hector summed it up:
    Hector: Grr... you ill-hearted old man!
    Oswin: Not that I'm correcting you, but I'm only in my thirties... I would say that 'Ill-hearted Gentleman' is more appropriate.
    • Hector himself also falls into this. He's only 17 but looks (and, in Fire Emblem Heroes, sounds) a lot older.
    • Wallace from the same game also counts. He's completely bald, but his supports with Renault confirm that he's only about 40.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has Jeritza, first introduced as a mysterious teacher who wears a mask. One of the students even says that they expected him to be their new professor instead of the protagonist, whom most of them thought was to be a new student. When later seen without the mask, his sunken eyes and deep voice still make him seem like he's in his late thirties at youngest, but he's actually only 26, making him 21 when he was first seen pre-timeskip, roughly the same age as the protagonist.
  • Fulgore, in the first Killer Instinct game, is only 1 year old.
  • The main character Vayne of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, being an artificially-made Mana, looks like any normal 16-17 year old teenager, except that he was actually around six years old.
  • Angela Orosco from Silent Hill 2 is only 19, but looks at least in her 30s. This was done intentionally by the animators, to show how her past of sexual abuse and killing her abusive father has prematurely aged her and taken a physical, as well as emotional, toll on her. It was also done to separate her from young and supposedly innocent characters, like Laura, and to emphasize that she isn't to be sexualized in any way, as much of the symbolism in the game places emphasis on sexuality. Originally, the character was conceptualized as 15 or 16, but the voice actress chosen to portray her gave her an older-sounding voice, and the design team changed her accordingly.
  • Lisa Garland from Silent Hill: 0rigins acts as a twenty-something woman, specially when you consider that she slept with Dr. Kauffmann, but since she was 23 in Silent Hill, she is supposed to be around 16 in this game. Considering that the Lisa in Silent Hill could have been a manifestation and not real, in Origins she could be anywhere from 16-23.
  • Chuck Downfield of Backyard Football looks like he's in his 20s. His age? 9. He just knows the game so well and dresses like an adult.
  • The vat-grown people from Shin Megami Tensei II (that is, Aleph, Beth, Daleth, Gimmel and Zayin) were grown to adulthood in a single day. This means that the main character is only a few days old from the start.
  • Resident Evil
    • Rebecca Chambers was 18 in RE0 and RE1 but she looks the same age as Jill Valentine who was 23 at the time.
    • Claire Redfield was only a 19-year old college student in RE2 and Code Veronica, but appearance-wise Claire looks she's in her 20s (especially in The Dark Side Chronicles). The RE2make fixes this up, Claire looks much younger, being modeled after Jordan McEwen whose in her late teens. Also in Revelations 2 Claire looks older than her actual age of 34, though this can be justified given what she's been through.
    • Leon S. Kennedy gets this too, he was a 21-year old rookie in RE2 but he looked and sounded older and more mature than he actually was. Much like Claire, RE2make changes this giving Leon a much more youthful face and demeanor, ironically the inverse of this trope tends to be more prevalent with Leon outside RE2.
    • Ramon Salazar of Resident Evil 4 has the skin of a man in his seventies, the voice of one in his late forties and the stature of a twelve-year-old child, but claims to be twenty.
    • Eveline the Big Bad from RE7 is only 3 years old, but she makes herself look like a little girl and actually looks like an old woman thanks to Rapid Aging.
  • Ryu in Breath of Fire IV is a newborn...who looks to be in his late teens. Justified as he's a Literal Split Personality of a god that was split in two and temporally displaced to boot (split 600 years across time and space, at that) thanks to a botched summoning. (The other half of the god in question, Fou-lu, is not only a case of Older Than They Look but is Really 700 Years Old to boot.)
    • And for much of his life (until he went into torpor for 600 years and became the Fou Empire's King in the Mountain) Fou-lu himself would be an example of this trope—only finally "catching up" after unifying the future Fou Empire in a single generation. It's implied in the game (and overtly depicted in the Comic-Book Adaptation) that Fou-lu, much like his Literal Split Personality Ryu, ended up being summoned into the world looking like a young adult.
  • Mass Effect 2 has Grunt, who is about a week old when you "recruit" him. Despite him looking like he's weathered at least a few years of life, or maybe a couple of month's worth of battling. (Still, compared to other Krogan, he's pretty "smooth-as-a-baby's-behind" material.) This is because when Shepard does "recruit" him, s/he wakes (basically births) him from a tank that he was created in as essentially a teenage (for their long lifespan) krogan.
  • Technically, while the other Nobodies may be Older Than They Look, Roxas, due to his amnesia and lack of connection with his other, is about a week or two old at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days.
  • Astaroth, the hulking bruiser of the Soul Series. 7 years old in Soulcalibur II; not much older in more recent games (as he's one of the new mass produced Astaroths). He's a Golem created by a cult devoted to a god of murder. His counter part, Ashlotte (Maedel), a clockwork golem, is even younger than he is as she was produced to capture him for the cult.
  • Adult Link. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time he's actually a nine year old who's been asleep for seven years. Mentally he is nine but physically he is a sixteen year old boy, who looks more like he's at least nineteen.
  • In Warcraft, some orcs, including Rend and Maim Blackhand are artificially aged, and thus become adults years before they would naturally grow to that point.
    • Wrathion, the uncorrupted black dragon, has the human appearance of a youngish looking man with a goatee. His true form is that of a black dragon ''whelp', a dragonling a couple feet long, making for a rare example of a dragon that stays human because he's more imposing that way. He's actually only two years old.
    • Archmage Khadgar got hit with a curse when he was seventeen, which resulted in him aging prematurely. He now has the appearance of an old man, although he still has the vigor of his age.
  • Jak and Daxter:
    • Jak, from the second game on. According to his bio on the official Jak X Combat Racing site, the 18-year-old "is a seasoned hero, with etched lines on his face that show the many challenges he's overcome, and the many adventures he's had to endure." The facial hair doesn't help.
    • Keira gets hit by this too. She's one year younger than Jak but was even on the Fanservice Cover of a magazine despite being around fourteen at the time. She looks young but vaguely between fifteen and nineteen.
  • Thanks to engine limitations, Mission Vao from Knights of the Old Republic looks more like a young adult than a fourteen-year-old. Although her face was tweaked from initial designs to look younger, all adult characters in the game have the same body type (which, for women, is curvy). Her starter outfit obscures this somewhat, but as soon as you put her in different armor, she doesn't look much younger than 21-year-old Bastila. (And the campaign guide artwork doesn't even try.)
  • Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II looks to be in her 70s. However, according to her creator, Chris Avellone, she's only around 50. The reason for her older appearance is likely due to her heavy use of Dark Side powers since the Mandalorian Wars.
  • ESP Ra.De.'s Big Bad, Gaara, looks like an elderly woman, easily somewhere in her 60s, if not early 70s. But according to the end credits, she's only 41. This is courtesy the utterly ridiculous amount of psionic energy she's utilized to maintain the Alice Clones and otherwise make Yaksa the avenging juggernaut it is.
  • Jim Raynor in Starcraft II is 34 despite looking 20-years older than that.
  • Tweek from Fur Fighters is less then a day old, making him the youngest of the Fur Fighters.
  • In Super Danganronpa 2, there's SHSL/Ultimate Coach Nekomaru Nidai who looks well over his 20s, maybe even older, when compared to his classmates who are around 16-17 years old. There's nothing said that confirms or even implies that he was held back in school like Yasuhiro Hagakure, or anything of the sort, which means he may as well be the same age as the rest of them.
  • In the SSI Gold Box game Curse of the Azure Bonds, the character screen of the optional NPC Alias lists her age as "2" despite her being an experienced adult fighter. As this is not explained in-game, some players might assume it to have been a developer oversight but anyone familiar with her Forgotten Realms backstory knows that she was actually created artificially and that the listed age is accurate.
  • Agent York in Deadly Premonition. Due to his fascination with cheesy movies and his moments of social awkwardness, many characters comment that he must be much younger than he looks. Of course, what they see, and the audience doesn't, is a white-haired man with Exhausted Eye Bags; a far cry from the youthful-looking brown-haired York.
  • Swaine in Ni no Kuni. Due to his life as a wandering thief, he has an extremely run-down appearance with scraggly hair, an untrimmed beard, a bony face, and baggy eyes. He's no older than thirty. When the party travels fifteen years into the past and meets his younger self, he appears to be about the same age as Oliver, if not a little younger.
  • Jan Jansen in Baldur's Gate II has Perma-Stubble that's partially gray and a very calloused face, and sounds like (if he was human) he'd probably be well into his sixties. Every in-game indication of his age indicates he's barely adult by gnomish standards (which would still make him over thirty years old, but still).
  • Fox McCloud and Falco Lombardi are 18 and 19 in Star Fox 64 but look and sound more like they're over 21.
  • In Pokémon Platinum, Looker says that Cyrus (the Big Bad leader of Team Galactic) is 27, but he looks more like he's in his late 30s or early 40s.
  • Jack Marston from Red Dead Redemption, after the epilogue timeskip, is only nineteen, yet he's the spitting image of his late 38-years-old father, John.
  • Scott Shelby from Heavy Rain is 44 years old. But his wrinkles, graying hair, body build, and general demeanor gives the impression that he's in his mid - late 50s.
  • Alex Mercer from [PROTOTYPE] looks like a regular 29 year old guy (apart from being a cannibalistic shapeshifter) but actually he is not the real Alex Mercer, only a copy of him made by the Blacklight virus. Said virus was released (and thus infected Mercer's corpse) only 18 days before the end of the game.
  • Common with multiple Sonic the Hedgehog characters, most of them have fairly precocious personalities and matured voices and vocabularies, but range anywhere between six and twenty one. Big the Cat for example looks, acts and sounds like a middled aged hermit, but is only eighteen years old. Fanservice secret agent Rouge is in fact the same age but looks and sounds much older (especially under her second voice actress). Blaze also has a very mature and serious-minded personality, with a fairly adult like voice. She is only fourteen years old.
  • In Potion Maker, when Tia sees Pio for the first time, she mistakenly assumes Pio to be a child.
  • Fallout 4:
    • Elder Arthur Maxson, head of the Brotherhood of Steel, looks like a grizzled, scarred soldier with years of experience. But, in Fallout 3, he appeared as a ten-year old squire; with a decade passing between the two games, this makes him all of twenty. Many of his brothers note he is their youngest leader in history, and it's his thick beard that makes him look a lot older than he really is.
    • Mercenary and potential companion MacCready, who appeared as the twelve-year old Mayor of Little Lamplight in Fallout 3, also looks older than his Fallout 4 age of twenty-two, but his aging isn't as egregious as Maxson's.
    • Most ghouls have been around for hundreds of years, many since before the Great War. Hancock, on the other hand, has only been a ghoul for about ten years, following the mother of all bad drug trips. In truth, he's probably around 60 at most.
  • As much as Tekken has a really bad habit of making its characters Older Than They Look, it does have an example of someone who's a tad younger than they may appear in the form of Baek Doo San. He's 48, but you might be convinced otherwise by his grey hair, among other things.
  • Splatoon:
    • Downplayed with Marina from Splatoon 2. Her lanky build and Stripperific outfit have caused many fans to mistake her for older than her actual age of 18. In contrast, her partner Pearl is very short and childish looking but is 21.
    • Callie and Marie are implied to be seventeen in the original game but they seem more like they're in their early twenties. After Marie switches to a kimono in the second game, she looks even more mature.
  • Colton White, the main protagonist of GUN looks like he is at least in his late twenties or early thirties, but a flashback shows he was born around 1864 while the game takes place in 1880, making him around 15-16 years old. Which explains why everyone around him calls him "kid", even though he looks about the same age as them.
  • Yakuza 0 shows us a young Ryuji Goda in a sidequest (he would go on to become the Big Bad of Yakuza 2). Despite only being in sixth grade at this point, he has the build of a high school football player!
  • According to the game's Debug Room, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The 7th Stand User has Michael Walker, who despite looking like he's in his 30s is only 18. He's apparently very self-conscious of this (not that it's obvious when you meet him).
  • Dark Pit from Kid Icarus: Uprising is an interesting case. While he has the physical appearance of a 13 year old boy, him being born from the Mirror Of Truth at the end of Chapter 5 technically makes him 3 years old by the end of the game. What makes this interesting is that his counterpart, Pit, is a case of Older Than They Look.
  • In Final Fantasy VII Tifa Lockhart was only 15 in the Niblehiem Flashback and in Crisis Core, but her apperance and matured physique might fool you into thinking otherwise. Even in the remake. Last Order: Final Fantasy VII fixes this a bit, making Tifa less buxom and younger looking.
    • Similarly Cloud in Crisis Core looks and sounds no different from he usually does in the later games were in his early-20s, however, he's only supposed to be 15 years old.
  • Auron in Final Fantasy X is, it turns out, 35 years old. He's a grizzled, greying Ronin who looks at least a decade older than that, even after the HD remaster adjusted his skin texture. This also sets him apart from most Unsent, who appear to the age that they died at—Auron was in his 20s when he was mortally wounded by Yunalesca. This is lampshaded in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia where Galuf (who is 60) scolds him for acting like an old man.
  • Downplayed example in Ensemble Stars!: most players initially assume Midori is a second or third year due to his tall height (and constant senior-itis), but he's actually a first year; he's just kind of a beanpole. He doesn't really like this, though, as he's grown out of a lot of his old clothes already and he he sometimes attracts attention due to his height.
  • While many Touken Ranbu characters fall to the other end of the spectrum and all of them are Really 700 Years Old, Izuminokami Kanesada looks like he's in his early twenties, but acts like a teenager due to being the most recently created sword.
  • Aya Brea in Parasite Eve 2 is 27, but looks like she's 21. Her youthful look is due to her mutated mitochondria keeping her body young since a youthful host has more energy and thus is more beneficial for them compared to an older person.
    • The preteen Eve is placed in the body of the 38 year old Aya in The 3rd Birthday.
  • Final Fantasy IX:
    • Steiner is 33, but looks like someone in their early 40s. It's possible that due to Steiner being a long time knight, his line of work and experiences has physically aged him.
    • Eiko looks and acts Wise Beyond Her Years, giving the impression that she's just a very accomplished ten-year-old (possibly eleven or twelve). According to the manual, she's six.
  • Mario and Luigi are stated to be in their mid 20s, despite them look like being in their early 30s.
  • WarioWare: Fans tend to assume 18-Volt is as old as his name suggests, but he's actually still in elementary school. This is even lampshaded in Gold, where after his rap battle witb 13-Amp, she's shocked to see him casually mention his true age.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Since Phoenix was 24 and Apollo 22 when becoming a lawyer, many people believed Athena Cykes would be in her early twenties, but she is actually 18. No player would have suggested she is only 18 because it should be impossible for her to finish high school with such age and work as a lawyer so fast. Not helping that Pearl Fey (who is a year behind her) appears in the same games she does and looks like in her early teens at best.
    • Simon Blackquill, with a height of 6' 2', shadows under his eyes and partly white hair looks older than Phoenix, but he is just 28. This becomes rather unsettling when you realize his 37-year-old sister looks much younger than him. Though this may be to show that being in prison took that much of a toll on him.
    • Professor Aristotle Means looks like he'd be an old man with his grey beard and fatherly demeanor, but he's only 45.
    • Franziska von Karma looks like she's in her twenties, but in her debut game, Justice For All, she revealed to actually be the same age as Maya (18!).
    • Bonnie Young from Investigations 2 is 60 years old, but looks like she's pushing 600. She's all shrivelled and hunched over, hobbles around with a cane, and her voice is so weak she has to speak directly into her granddaughter's ear and have her relay what she says to everyone. She's still the best damn coroner in the business, though. Compare Blaise Debeste, who is 68 years old and looks like he's in his 50s. Even without his wig and fake beard, he still doesn't look that much older.
  • Fate/stay night - Token Mini-Moe Ilya's maids and apparent caretakers appear to be around twenty and are a bit... strange, and have about five minutes total screentime. They're actually two year olds. They're also fairly lethal combat homunculi, whom Ilya made.
    • Ilya's mother Irisviel in Fate/Zero is a grown woman who's only nine; indeed, it's a pattern that von Einzbern homunculi are created with the bodies of twenty-somethings and stay that way. Only Ilya herself was born normally, and is very much the opposite of the rest.
  • Kurugaya from Little Busters! looks (and acts) as though she could be in her twenties, but in reality she's exactly the same age as the rest of the cast bar Kyousuke. It's particularly notable when she's interacting with Kud, who looks as though she could be in middle school.
  • Tsukihime: While the 800 year old Arcueid only looks like she's in her late teens to early twenties she may well be much younger than that, mentally, as she was put into sleep mode when she wasn't killing Fallen True Ancestors, and after the True Ancestors died out, whenever Roa's incarnations were inactive.
  • Sigma from Virtue's Last Reward. The other characters comment on it quite a few times.
    Phi: You must have done a lot of drugs to look like that at 22.
    • Actually a subversion—Sigma believes he's 22, and because he's the viewpoint character the player sees him as he sees himself, which is to say, as he looked at age 22, but in fact the mind of his 22-year-old self has been implanted in his own body at age 65.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has Nekomaru Nidai, who looks like a huge muscular man with Hot Blooded Sideburns but is implied to be only 17, and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has Gonta Gokuhara, a 6'6" Gentle Giant who Word of God states is the youngest of the high-school aged cast.

    Web Animation 
  • Object Terror did this with Trowel, as he stated he is actually two years old in "Killoto the Minoto," even though he looks much older.
  • In one of the user-submitted stories on Planet Dolan in the episode OUR HORRIBLE FIRST DATES, a teenaged boy asked a cute girl out on a date and her mother stayed with them for the entire date. He was confused by this until the mother explained to him that her daughter was actually a 9 year old with the body of a 15-16 year old.

    Web Comics 
  • Mag Isa: Kyle looks old for a 23 year old. Must be all those damn steroids...
  • Rick, the main antagonist of Cult Following, is 19, but you wouldn't guess it from his beard and moustache. Despite being several years younger than the protagonist, he still calls him "kid".
  • Todd from Todd Allison & the Petunia Violet. In the first chapter Petunia tries to guess his age and ends up seven years off.
  • Molly the Peanut Butter Monster in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has yet to celebrate her first birthday. Her recently generated sister Galatea is even younger.
  • One could make a case for Gordito from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, who looks older than his actual age of 12 due to his extreme Badass Mustache.
  • Page 78 TwoKinds shows this trope with a whole race. Flora, one of the main characters, who looks and acts as if she is in her early twenties, is only 11 years old. However, her kind only DO live into their early twenties. Late twenties at best.
  • Dr. Schtein from String Theory is apparently only 34 despite the lines on his face and his completely white hair. The workaholic attitude, poor self-care, and rampant drug use might have something to do with that.
  • In Nectar of the Gods, Bacchus' father, Apollo, is MUCH younger than he looks, he has the goatee, the Benjamin Franklin hairdo, the old man glasses, the wrinkles and near white hair to make it almost obvious he's in his mid 70s.... he's actually 46.
  • Kit from Feywinds has this. she's a fox turned girl and fox age doesn't equal human age so she looks early 20s but is actually not anywhere near that. she acts accordingly though with a childish but quirky personality and can be very naive. She looks like an adult, age wise is a child but has the mentality of a girl in her mid to late teens, albeit a clueless one. Though the author of the comic has said she likes us to not think about how old the character actually is.
  • Cole Richards from PvP looks like he's in his mid-40s, but he states in an early strip that he's about to turn 30. Moreover, he was college roommates with Brent, Robbie and Jase, who look about right for being in their late 20s.
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: All of Exotica Genoworks' creations suffer from this since they are designed to mature to something like 12 to 15 in only 4 or 5 years.
  • Spinnerette, there was a lot of surprise when "Evil Spinnerette" turned out to be just 16 years old, she looks like she should be in her late twenties at least. This acts as a point of contrast with "good" Spinny, a grad student who gets mistaken for a teenager.
  • In Charactermaske, Favian is really 14 years old but looks anywhere from 65-80.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen is a magical clone of Elliot who was 17-years-old and female at the time. This becomes a plot point, as a magic-user from another dimension has a religious belief that if the soul is younger than the body, it will cause problems. So she gives Ellen dreams of a second life to age up her soul to match, with the side benefit that it gives her own duplicate a friend in that second life.
    • Subverted with Grace and her brothers. The scientists who made them tried to come up with a way to age them faster in order to accelerate their development and get them combat-ready faster. "It was a hypothesis based on another hypothesis based on a theory based on several episodes of Star Trek. It was worthless." We never find out exactly what the scientists did, but it actually slowed down the aging process a little bit; at the time Grace finds this out, she looks about sixteen, but she's actually eighteen.
  • The plot of Beloved begins when Wei Wei hooks up with a younger woman she met at a bar. The "woman" turns out to be a 16 year old girl.
  • In Maggot Boy, Lazaro is a twentysomething in the body of a decrepit old man, complete with Disease Bleach, an Incurable Cough of Death, and permanent eye bags, thanks to pouring most of his life force into an astounding city-wide feat of Necromancy.
  • Questionable Content played this straight with Steve's relationship with Ellen, mildly averted in that Ellen was only a few weeks short of her birthday. Steve (who tends to be the Only Sane Man )was quite relaxed about this, discussed it with Marten and just held back. Ellen was written out of the comic after breaking up with Steve, departing on a marine biology field trip
    • averted and played with, in the case of the various AI characters. May looks and acts as though she were mid- to late-twenties, but Momo (who sometimes remarks on her chronological age of about two-and-a-half years) actually looks like a Pre-teen and can be quite naive, although this isn’t consistent and at times she is quite mature. Bubbles is clearly older, although quite how old she actually is, and how much is due to her PTSD-like symptoms from her trauma in service, isn’t clear. Winslow is quite child-like and maintains this in his new chassis. Pintsize is a smart-Alec of indeterminate age, but has clearly been around for quite some time.
  • Half-elves in Dragon Sanctuary. Nima is twenty and looks at least a hundred by elven standards, since they age so slowly, but by human standards she looks her age.
  • Hooky: Alex really thought Mark was old enough to drink.
    • Aisha has been mistaken multiple times as being younger than the rest of the cast due to her short height, much to her chagrin.

    Web Original 
  • The Whateley Universe does this:
    • Many, many newly emergent Exemplars look much older than they really are, due to the wish-fulfillment aspect of the Exemplar power. Fey, along with most of the other Venus, Inc., models, are frequently described as having bodies that look very mature for a teen. Similarly, Crimson Comet!!! is thirteen when she first arrives, but is described as having the body of a twenty-year-old and the face of a seventeen-year-old. Sadly, she doesn't seem to have the mental part of the Exemplar powerset, and in fact seems to have the maturity of an exceptionally dim eleven-year-old.
    • One of the school psychiatrists at the Whateley Academy is in his mid-thirties (or so, based on author descriptions) but looks like Dr. Bellows from "I Dream of Jeannie", so he appears to be 55 or 60. One protagonist has even researched the psychiatrist, and has lampshaded this.
    • Fifteen-year-old Chou Lee (Bladedancer) apparently looks like Zhang Ziyi.
    • Belphoebe is a clone of Jobe's ideal girlfriend with the memories of Belphegor. Phoebe is then legally entered as Jobe and Belphegor's daughter, with Jobe the mother (as he accidentally used the Drow transformation serum on himself and is turning into the aforementioned ideal girlfriend). Phoebe therefore Really Was Born Yesterday.
  • In Super Stories, Veldron's robot duplicates are always built to look older and less attractive than him. This is because, when given the opportunity to make a false image, most people would assume the opposite.
  • The creepypasta Jeff the Killer? He's only thirteen!
  • Eve of Dragomirs Diary was born a baby, but within months grew to the size of a teenager. This may have something to do with the story being set in a video game - or it could be something far more sinister.
  • Chakona Space: Shadowcrest is only 12 or 13 when she is critically wounded. After being "processed", she is once again intact but she looks like she's 20.
    • Leanna and most other artificially-grown slaves wind up suffering this trope for a while.
  • Killerbunnies: This is unclear in the case of Test Subject 001892300012 or "Lucy", as she claims to be three, although, that could have something more or less to do with the fact that, being an escaped test subject, three might highest number she might be able to count to or, alternatively, if she is an artificial lifeform, then she might actually be three, as in having existed for about three years.
  • The protagonists of Stone Burners discover that Olivia is much younger than expected while dealing with John Doe.

    Web Videos 
  • Now much Older Than They Look, The Nostalgia Critic looked about fifteen years older than he actually was when he first started his reviews, thanks to shitty lighting and baggy clothes.
  • From the same website, The Rap Critic was born in 1992 and is the youngest of the That Guy with the Glasses crew, making him 26 as of 2018, despite appearing to be in his early 30s. He was only 18 years old in his earliest videos (the ones where he has no facial hair). See it and you won't believe it.
  • Vsauce: Michael is only 31, but due to his Badass Beard, intelligence and the fact that he has already lost most of his hair, you'd think he was closer to 41.
  • If the videos where he shows his face are anything to go off of, The Mysterious Mr. Enter could pass for a guy in his late twenties to early thirties. In reality, he's 22.
  • Spectrum Pulse: Mark was born in 1990 (27 as of 2017), but mainly due to his intelligence and receding hairline has for years often been mistaken for being in his 30s.
  • Due to the fact that he's one of Rooster Teeth's first employees, close friendship with Geoff, and his thick beard, there have been several jokes in Achievement Hunter that Jack Pattillo is quite old. In fact, newest member Fiona Nova legitimately thought he was 45 like Geoff when she was first hired, much to his dismay. She's even joked that Jack acts more like her middle-aged father than her actual father. In reality, Jack is 38 and a year and half younger than Ryan Haywood, the actual second oldest member of the group who's pushing 40.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Shane Gooseman looks about 25, but the second-to-last episode reveals he is nineteen, meaning he was 17-18 as of the pilot episode. As he is also stated to be the "youngest" of the Super Soldier project that created him, the other Supretroopers can't be any older than thirty.
  • Cassie from Bounty Hamster looks and sounds like she's in her late teens, but she's actually 13.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Dash Baxter is said to be a freshman, despite looking old enough to be Jazz's age. Of course, it's likely he's held back.
    • Danielle looks to be 12 years old, as Danny said, but she's actually a clone who is about a few months of age.
  • In Castlevania due to accelerated aging (being half Vampire), Alucard is likely in his early 20s despite looking and sounding much, much older.
  • In the Disenchantment episode "Love's Slimy Embrace" we find out that despite looking like an old man in his 70s or 80s, court wizard Sorcerio is only 31.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, Timmy and Chester play baseball against a team that is filled with huge brutes with five o'clock shadows. Wanda notes that it's hard to believe they're 10.
  • In Family Guy, there is one episode where Stewie and Brian go to the North Pole to meet Santa Clause. At one point Santa Clause states that, despite having lots of wrinkles and having a long white beard and appearing to be in his 80s or 90s, Santa is only 28 years old. For added emphasis, he takes off his hat and we get a close up on his boil-covered and heavily wrinkled face. The reason Santa looks so old is that every Christmas billions of people ask for hundreds of complex and expensive toys each, and attempting to keep up with the impossible workload has aged Santa prematurely.
  • The title character of Freakazoid!. He's 16, but looks and sounds like he's in his early twenties.
  • Thailog, of Gargoyles fame, being a clone who's been artificially aged, reached the end of Gargoyle adolescence after a mere nineteen weeks. Especially impressive, when you consider that Gargoyles live longer and age slower than humans as it is.
  • Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls is grey haired, wrinkled and a hot mess from the shoulders down, with one character guessing him as being in his seventies. The series timeline on the other hand would place him at no more than sixty, and his twin brother looks much younger.
  • Wolfgang in Hey Arnold! is a fifth grader, yet is tall and muscular like a senior high school jock. Matter of fact, the rest of the fifth graders look more like high school students than fifth graders. While one could argue that it's just an exaggerated perspective the fourth graders have on kids roughly over a year older than them, it doesn't explain why Harold, a 13-year-old, is smaller than the fifth graders as well (and was even shown getting called a "fruit cup" and a "sissy fat boy" by Wolfgang in one episode too).
  • Old Kid from Invader Zim, taken Up to Eleven.
    "How's it going?"
    • To elaborate, he's an elementary school student who looks eighty.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Mr. Cat looks like (and has the voice of) a young adult, yet according to the 34th episode, he's less than 13 years old.
    • Quack Quack looks like a young child, but is actually supposed to be a baby.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Joseph Gribble hit an extreme growth-spurt puberty before turning 13, before Bobby gets a chance and he's older (despite being late-bloomer). He was given an adult menu at a restaurant and assumed of wanting a beer like the parents.
    • Cotton Hill in his younger years after he married Tillie and around Hank's birth and childhood, even though he's around his mid 20s-early to mid 30s he still looks like an old man around 60 just with brown hair.
  • Ms. Censordoll from Moral Orel looks like she could easily be in her seventies or eighties, but when someone calls her a senior citizen she shows her ID and it turns out she just turned forty. It's heavily implied and confirmed by Word of God that this and her obsession with eggs comes from her mother having her ovaries removed at a young age.
  • Robot Girl Jenny of My Life as a Teenage Robot once had to spend an episode being demoted from high school to kindergarten because she's technically "only five years old", having been built five years ago, despite being designed as a teenager.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Mayor Mare, the supposedly elderly grey-maned mayor of Ponyville, is revealed to have naturally pink hair that she dyes grey. It's implied she does that to give herself an air of professionalism, and that her age is far more ambiguous than one might think.
    • Mistmane, one of the legendary Pillars of Old Equestria, looks like an old mare but is actually no older than her fellows. She sacrificed her beauty to restore her homeland and Sable Spirit's, making her look far older than she actually is.
  • Lloyd in the later episodes of Ninjago looks to be in his late teens or early twenties. He's actually about seven to ten, thanks to a magical powder called Tomorrow's Tea giving him a Plot-Relevant Age-Up.
  • The Owl House: Eda looks to be in her 50's or 60's, and sounds like it too, but it's later hinted that she is actually younger than that and her older appearance is a side effect of a curse that turns her into a monster. This is further supported by the reveal that her sister Lilith is actually older than her even though she looks much younger, and it's outright stated that the curse is what turned her hair grey, and Word of God later confirmed her to be in her 40's.
  • In Pepper Ann, P.A. befriends Effie Shrug, a new student who is exceedingly intelligent and taller than she is. The two get along well, although the viewers learn that Effie can be quite threatening to get what she wants. She's something of a Social Darwinist. Pepper Ann invites her over to her house, Moose sees Effie and is immediately horrified. Effie reveals that she was previously an elementary school student. She'll be nine next month.
  • Pinky and the Brain may look like adult mice, but their actual ages suggest otherwise. Take, for instance, this exchange from the Christmas episode:
    The Brain: Now our only problem is that we need one billion Noodle Noggin dolls. To make all of them ourselves would take 137 years.
    Pinky: Oh, well, we'd be pretty old by then, wouldn't we?
    The Brain: Yes, I believe we'd be 139.
    • Real-life mice generally are adults by 2 years old, though, so it might be a Furry Reminder.
  • The Powerpuff Girls. They were born/created the age they are throughout the whole series and start kindergarten shortly after their "birth". As they're the same age throughout the whole show, they're probably less than one year old. The Rowdyruff Boys were also created (twice!) at the age they are, which makes them even younger although appearing to be kindergarten-aged boys as well.
  • In an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, "Fake Dad", a six-foot-tall, overweight convicted criminal with hairy arms and 5 O'Clock shadow, who calls himself Kowalski, is 10 years old.
  • In one episode of Rocko's Modern Life, set 17 years in the future, Filburt is said to be 38, even though he looked more like he was in his 80s or 90s. Subverted when he reverts back to his normal self by the end of the episode once he is reunited with Rocko and Heffer, suggesting that he simply didn't take care of himself after his friends' absence.
  • There's a reason the Scooby-Doo gang is called "Meddling kids" so often. In the original franchise Velma was fifteen, Daphne sixteen, and the boys seventeen. Many viewers are surprised, thinking they're college-aged or older. Many, if not most, future installments age them up.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Even though he looks like an old man, Hans Moleman confessed during the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the Season 4 episode "Duffless" that he's really 31 years old (and looks like an old man due to his alcoholism). This has become a one-off joke, because in later episodes, Hans Moleman is usually seen at the Springfield Retirement Home. In one of the later episodes, though, there's an even older Moleman who he's the son of. They even participate in a father-son wheelbarrow race at the home. It may be possible he's just visiting him all the time. Maybe?
      • A Freeze-Frame Bonus in the episode, "Selma's Choice", reveals on his driver's license that he was born in 1961, which around the time the episode first aired, would make him about 31.
    • Also Homer Simpson is younger than he looks, according to the Season 4 episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen". While at a carnival, Homer tries his luck at the "Guess Your Age and Weight" booth. The mind reader guesses that Homer is 53 years old and 420 pounds. Homer then laughs at him and reveals that he's 36 years old (though later episodes have him as 38 or 39, depending) and 239 pounds, which disturbs the mind reader. If one were to go by the chronological saying that Marge and Homer had become parents shortly after graduating high school, both would only be 28 years old (the episode "I Married Marge" establishes Homer's age at the time of Bart's birth — or at least conception — as 24, but Word of God is that the writers nudged Homer and Marge's ages up a few times so that they wouldn't be older than them). A much later episode has some women at a park assume Bart is Homer's grandson.
    • Also happens to Marge in the episode "The Blue and the Gray", in which she stops dyeing her hair (according to the much earlier "Secrets of a Successful Marriage", she started going grey at 17). She resumes dyeing it at the end of the episode because she doesn't like being mistaken for an older woman.
    • Before Flanderization, Mr. Burns was only 81, but looked older because he went bald during his college years, according to the Season 2 episode "Simpson and Delilah". The later episodes have Mr. Burns as somewhere in the 100s ("Homer the Smithers" confirmed that he was 104; "Goo Goo Gai Pan" had him as 109, with a driver's license that expired in 1909). That said, "The Regina Monologues" and "Them, Robot" imply that Mr. Burns' age has four digits in it (in the former episode, his PIN number for his bank card is his age [PIN numbers are four digits long, for those who live in countries that don't have bank cards or ATMs or have them in a different format than in America], and in "Them, Robot", Homer asks Mr. Burns how old he really is, and Mr. Burns says, "Well, it has four digits...").
    • Albert the spokesman for "Big and Beautiful", an organization for encouraging and accepting overweight people. He looked like he could have been in his 40s or 50s but as it turns out he was only 23. Homer was horrified when he learned of this as he had just died of a massive heart attack.
    • Marge's sisters Selma and Patty are completely grey despite only being 42 but they reveal in one episode that it's due to all the smoke and ash from their cigarettes. They're actually still completely blond and redhead respectively.
    • "The Crazy Cat Lady", formally known as Eleanor Abernathy, looks like an old woman with her grey hair, wrinkles, bad posture and missing teeth. However, one episode showed that she's the same age as Marge and Homer, as they went to the same school, so she can't be much older than forty.
  • The Smurfs:
    • Smurfette, despite being an adult Smurf, is really only about a few years old, being a magically-created Smurf.
    • Chlorhydris the witch reveals in one episode that she was stood up at the altar by a young wizard twenty years back when they were attending a school for sorcerers. In the flashbacks of her years at the school she appears to have been in her twenties, which would imply she is at present in her early forties at least, but she appears to be more in her late fifties.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Stevonnie is an in-universe (and out) Statuesque Stunner, likely past six feet in height and with a powerful, commanding voice. Stevonnie is however also the result of fusion between two small children, and retains their maturity and world view despite their much larger form. Downplayed as of "Lars of the Stars" and "Jungle Moon", as they are given a redesign that makes them still look older than either Steven or Connie, but somewhat shorter and chubbier and more like a child than an adult.
    • Greg Universe, meanwhile, is only 40 but looks much older due to being Prematurely Bald and having gained considerable weight since his youth. This could partially be due to his grief upon losing Rose when Steven was born.
    • Steven himself looks like an adolescent, but is in fact fourteen years old as of "Steven's Birthday". The earlier episode "So Many Birthdays" shows that Steven's physical age is a reflection of his state of mind, as during the course of the episode, he starts thinking that he's too immature, causing his body to gradually age up to and beyond his actual age.
    • Most of the Gems encountered are Really 700 Years Old, and most of them look like adults or teenagers (Some can look like children though). But Gems are artificially made and emerge with the same physical appearance they'll have thousands of years later, making newly-made Gems an example of this.
  • Octus from Sym-Bionic Titan. Although he's able to take both the guise of a teenager and a middle-aged man, he was heavily implied to have been completed shortly before he, Lance and Ilana fled Galaluna.
  • In the original 1985 ThunderCats, Lion-O appears 20, despite really only being about 10-11 originally. Thanks to a faulty cryosleep chamber, his aging wasn't as delayed as the other two young ThunderCats, WilyKit and WilyKat.
  • Total Drama has several characters who look like adults in their late twenties to mid-thirties, despite actually being teenagers.
    • DJ, Leshawna and Trent from the original cast
    • Alejandro and Sierra, introduced in Season 3 (Total Drama World Tour)
    • Brick and Jo in Season 4 (Total Drama Revenge of the Island)
    • Beardo and Scarlett in Season 5.2 (Total Drama Pahkitew Island), the latter due largely to her Prim and Proper Bun
  • Young Justice:
    • Superboy has the appearance and mentality of a sixteen year old, but is actually sixteen weeks old having been born in a test tube. Lampshaded after the Time Skip in the second season. On his birthday, Wendy asks how old he's turning. He offhandedly replies "Six," and noticing her surprise, "corrects" himself that he'll be twenty-two at six (o'clock). Yes, this means his relationship with Miss Martian is kinda awkward especially since she's technically freaking 48 years old. On the flip side, he notes that due to his physiology, as he gets older, his body will continue to age internally, but externally, he will continue to look like he's in his late teens.
    • Also Captain Marvel, of course, who is a ten year old kid (fifteen in season two) with an Older Alter Ego.

    Real Life 
  • In the early 2010s, Real Housewife Kim Zolciak looked like a 40-year old who aged well. She didn't actually turn 40 until 2018. To make matters worse for this particular trope, her oldest child was born in 1997.
  • Fellow troper and musician Dartxker Bitsby (real name Jovontae Pride) is only 14, yet could pass for 19.
  • Mila Kunis got her first major role playing Jackie on That '70s Show when she was just 14, even though everyone auditioning was required to be 18 or older. When Mila was asked if she was 18, she said that she would be, but didn't specify when. Eventually she was found out, but was still considered the best fit for the part.
  • There's a 1979 WPIX (New York City) clip on YouTube of their newscast where one of the anchors is a man named Bill Jorgensen. He's 52 years old in this clip but looks much older.
  • Hollywood lore has it that three-time Oscar winner Walter Brennan's career took off after he lost his teeth in a fight and found that without them he could play old men from around the 1930s onwards - when he was only in his 30s!
  • Florence Owens Thompson, the woman in this famous photograph by Dorothea Lange was thirty-two when it was taken. It showed the devastating effects of The Great Depression more than words possibly could.
  • The famous picture of the Afghan girl from National Geographic has many people wondering if she's really a "girl". She was 12 years old when the picture was taken, but because of the stress of being a refugee, she looks to be in her mid-20s. And when the photographer (Steve McCurry) met her again, this is how she looked at 35 years of age.
  • In 1970, the much-older-looking Mary Ann Vecchio was, in fact, a 14-year-old runaway. Jon Filo's photograph of her crying over Jeffry Miller, who'd been killed in the Kent State shootings, won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1971.
  • David Gregory of MSNBC appeared to be in his early fifties as early as 2012, mostly because of his silvery hair and slightly aged face. He was born in 1970.
  • Nobody could tell how old Michael Jackson was in his later years, mainly because of his vitiligo that made his skin white (he looks much whiter in the photos because of the camera lightning) and because he had no wrinkles. When he was young, however (before Thriller), he looked a bit old for his age, particularly when he was a kid, looking to be around 11 or 12 when he was just 8 or 9. However, by the time Bad came around, he could easily pass for a high schooler at 29 years old.
  • The actors who played the Keaton parents on Family Ties, Michael Gross (Steven) and Meredith Baxter (Elyse), were both born on June 21, 1947. However, while Baxter looked her age when she was cast for the series, Gross looked about 5-10 years older largely thanks to his thinning, prematurely gray hair.
  • At the age of 15, Traci Lords claimed to be 20, used a fake ID, and started appearing in porn magazines and films. Authorities only caught on three years later. Some rumors claim that she tipped off the authorities herself to force the issue so she could get out of the business without having her work follow her. Since she only did one film after she was 18, everything else is illegal in the US.
  • Hitler was said to have aged rapidly in appearance during the final years of World War II, after having held uncannily the same appearance from the mid-1920s to 1943.
  • This is Antonin Artaud, surrealist, not yet fifty years old.
  • Metal singer Ivan Moody, vocalist for Five Finger Death Punch. Take a good long look at this photo. And this one. He's only 31. He looks at least 15 years older than that. This is especially strange because he was 27 when his band's first album released, and looked that age.
  • More a case of Younger Than They Sound, but putting Ivan Moody's example to shame regardless, is the New Zealand metal band Alien Weaponry. If all you've heard of them is the song Kai Tangata - sung completely in te reo due to the trio all having Maori heritage - you'd be surprised that the band's combined age is just 56.
  • Ritchie Valens practically defines this trope. He died when he was just 17 years old. Seriously, look at this dude. Who the heck looks like that at 17?!! Twice that age, maybe.
  • R. Lee Ermey looked to be a mid-50s gunnery sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. He was only 42 when the film was shot. His look changed incredibly little for the rest of his life.
  • Tommy Lee Jones. He falls squarely into the trope due to his signature craggy facial skin which appears to make him look older than he is. To put this in perspective, the ages of the four leads in Space Cowboys: Clint Eastwood (70 during the film's shooting), James Garner (72), Donald Sutherland (65), and Tommy Lee Jones (54). Jones is 11 years younger than Sutherland and nearly 20 to the others, yet he is portrayed as being around the same age as his co-stars in a film where a running gag is that many of their peers from their training days decades ago are all dead from old age (and Jones was fifty-four!).
  • John Carpenter was only 51 when this picture was taken. He looks some 20 years older than that.
  • Both Sherman Hemsley and John Amos got away with playing the husbands to women twenty years older than them and the father to sons played by actors only ten years their junior in the Norman Lear produced sitcoms The Jeffersons and Good Times. Hemsley was 36 when he started playing the role and John Amos 35, yet both were playing someone roughly 50. It helped that in both cases they were prematurely bald.
  • Sir Patrick Stewart started going bald when he was nineteen and was Younger Than He Looked for much of his life. Nowadays he's Older Than He Looks.
  • Ryan Clark, the lead singer for the heavy metal band Demon Hunter. The music video for his band's 'Infected' was shot in 2002, when he was just 23. But due to the large beard he had and his lack of hair (and he's a little fat), he looked to be around 10 years older or so. However, by the time he reached his mid-thirties, he looked roughly his calendar age.
  • Whitman Mayo was only 40 when he portrayed Grady Wilson on Sanford and Son.
  • Steve Martin's hair began to grey at an early age. Because of this, even in his twenties, he looked like he was much older.
  • George Clooney had a full head of grey hair before he hit the half-century mark in 2011.
  • Maria Teresa "Mariettina" Goretti had the bad luck of being a Huge Schoolgirl without the "school" part, looking at least 14/15 years old when she was just 12. Due to this, she caught the eye of the local Jerkass Delinquent Alessandro Serenelli (19-20 at that time), who first started making lewd jokes around her, then became a Crazy Jealous Guy... and stabbed poor Maria to death when she refused him for the last time.
  • Leon Botha, who had the aforementioned genetic disease Progeria, lived to be 26, but looked like he was over 100 years old. Sadly, he was the oldest person on record to have had the disease.
  • Stephanie Cole has specialized in playing women much older than she is. She was the elderly Mrs. Featherstone in Open All Hours in her 40s, and the retiree Diana Trent from Waiting for God when she was in her 50s (opposite Graham Crowden, who was born 20 years earlier).
  • John Thaw would have been between 33 and 37 when he played Jack Regan in The Sweeney, but looks well into his forties- partly reinforced by the way he acts as well. Thaw himself apparently said "I was born looking 50".
  • Saoirse Ronan looked like she was in her twenties when she was only 18. This is especially strange since she was sixteen when she played a fourteen year old in The Lovely Bones, and looked that age.
  • Dioxin poisoning causes serious acne problems, which causes rapid aging. Victor Yushchenko, then in his late 40s, underwent this during a bitter campaign for presidency of the Ukraine, as seen here
  • Seth Rogen, especially in his earlier films, looked like he could easily be in his mid-thirties, though he was born in 1982 and would have been in his twenties. Rogen is pretty well aware of his "old" looks. He occasionally jokes about it in interviews. This actually caused problems when casting Superbad, since originally Rogen was going to play one of the main characters, a high school senior. Because of looking way older than he was (25 at the time), the role went to Jonah Hill. Hill actually is only a year younger than Rogen, but is a case of Older Than They Look. Lampshaded in Knocked Up. Allison (Katherine Heigl) tells her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) that her new boyfriend Ben is 23. Debbie replies that Ben "looks 33."
  • Bill Hader in some of his films (namely Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall) looks considerably older than he really is.
  • Jason Segel. All of Apatow's "stock actors" (except for Jonah Hill, who actually looks younger than he is) look older than they really are.
  • Carrie Fisher looked and sounded like she was in her late-30s in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, even though she was only in her mid-20s when those films were shot. In the 2015-2019 new Star Wars trilogy, however, it shifts in the opposite direction as Leia Organa is supposed to be about thirty years older than she was at the end of Return of The Jedi when she was only in her early 20s. In the third trilogy, Leia, who is the same age as Lukenote  should only be in her early fifties, but was depicted as elderly and in frail health.
  • When jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker died at age 34 due to heavy substance abuse, the coroner mistakenly estimated his age at between 50-60 years old.
  • This photo of George Orwell had been taken when he was 30 years old. He could have been anywhere from 45 to 60 by looks only. 7 years later he still looked like a grandpa. 12 years later and suffering from tuberculosis, he was still unchanged, so it could not be blamed on poor living conditions only.
  • Frank Oz, famous for voicing Yoda from Star Wars, Grover from Sesame Street, and Miss Piggy from The Muppets among others, has always looked about 10 years older than his real age. Here he is at 24 (Oz is on the far left), and he was around 33 when this was taken.
  • Many of the WWE wrestlers. For example, Wade Barrett was born in 1980, but when he was in his early 30s, he looked more like he was in his early 40s. Stephanie McMahon (born in 1976), after her voice went through a radical change in 2002-2003 (most likely due to all the screaming she was doing before then), definitely sounded much older than she really was.
  • Shane Harper from Good Luck Charlie looks like he's around 20-22 years old. He's 18. Made even worse by the fact that he was 16 in the early episodes of the show, and still looked the same. How many people really look like this at 16?
    • To put it in layman's terms: In season 1 of the show, he was 16, playing a 17-year-old character who looked like he was 20.
  • George Michael seemed to have aged rapidly since he hit his 40s. Especially jarring since he looked his age for decades.
  • Don Rickles looked unmistakably old for his age until roughly 1990, when he was in his mid-60s, and then he aged normally until his death in 2017 at 90. Which is kind of funny, since throughout his adult life he possessed the voice of a 20-something guy from Boston.
  • Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear has consistently looked at least ten years older than his real age for some time now. It's a little hard to believe he's only nine years older than Richard Hammond.
  • Robin Williams looked his age, if not a little younger, but he seemed to have aged badly as a young man. He was in his late 20s when he was on Mork & Mindy, but looked like he was in his 40s. Williams was into drugs and heavy drinking during his early career, which could have contributed to this.
  • Max von Sydow looked about 75 from the day he was born. When he did The Exorcist, he was 44, looked absolutely ancient. However, in his last years before his passing in 2020 at 90, he looked quite sprightly.
    • To be fair, Dick Smith did a very good age makeup on von Sydow for The Exorcist; you just don't notice it because of the flashier work on Linda Blair.
    • He was in his TWENTIES when he played Antonius Block in The Seventh Seal. See it and you won't believe it.
  • Ernie Pyle, American journalist and World War II soldier, was 44 when he died. At the time, he looked like he was in his 60s or 70s.
  • Albert Einstein throughout his life looked older than his actual age. This photo was taken when he was 25, even though he looks more like he's 30.
  • Austin St. John (a.k.a. The Red Ranger) was only 18 years old when he first started playing Jason Lee Scott. He looked more like he was about 20-22. It didn't help that his character was supposed to be 15. He actually seemed age appropriate a good amount of the time, but his build made him seem older. Still, it's a little hard to believe he was the youngest of the original six, as Jason David Frank, who was 19 at the time, looked fairly age appropriate.
    • Jason Narvy (Skull) was only 19 when filming began. He looked to be around 23 or so, as did Paul Schrier (Bulk), who was 23 for real.
  • When this picture was taken, Dutch footballer Arjen Robben, born in 1984, looked at least a decade older than his real age (28). His age has now started to catch up with his appearance, though not completely so.
  • Wilford Brimley for years was a shining example of this trope. To wit: He was only 50 years old when he was cast in Cocoon, but was able to portray a convincing elderly man with just his hair whitened. There's even a Twitter account devoted to marking when celebrities (who tend to be Older Than They Look) reach the same age Brimley was when Cocoon was released (the Brimley/Cocoon Line). This is how he looked when he was in The Waltons. He was in his early 40s at the time.
  • It's amazing how many people are shocked to discover that swimsuit model Kate Upton hit it big when she wasn't even 21 (though she's well past it now - she was born in 1992).
    • This is common in many teenage models; Spain's Lidia Ferrer, for example, is 15 years old, but does not represent them at all.
  • Miley Cyrus was once mistaken for a 40-year-old woman by a bystander who offered her face cream, despite being 18 years old at the time.
  • Unusually, Hayden Panettiere (born in 1989) qualifies for both this and Older Than They Look, as a number of people thought she was older than her actual age while she was on Heroes.
  • Michael Douglas (born in 1944), in his mid-50s, looked about ten years older, because he seemed to be trying desperately to hide how old he was (the new, young wife might have had something to do with that). However, by the time he hit his late 60s, he seemed to have made peace with his age, and ever since has actually looked younger because of it.
  • Billy Bob Thornton has always looked at least a few years older than he really is, even more so since the late '90s, when he lost a lot of weight, causing him to look like he weighs about fifty pounds.
  • Topol was only in his mid-thirties when he played Tevye in the film version of Fiddler on the Roof. But he was able to convincingly play a 45-year-old Russian farmer who'd had a rough life. See pic here.
    • In the 1964 Israeli film Sallah, Topol played a man with grownup children when he was just 29!
  • Greg Oden, who lost a potentially great NBA career to constant injuries, was born in 1988. However, according to pictures taken when he was 24, he looked to be in his 30s.
  • Fergie (born in 1975) actually used to look younger than she really was (she was in her early 30s when her debut album was being promoted, but looked like she was around 24-25). But in her early 30s, she seemed to have aged rapidly, and looked like she was in her 40s by the time she was 35. (This can be chalked up to a drug addiction past and once she got sober, she started looking younger. Her aging now can be chalked up to plastic surgery and pregnancy.)
    • Fergie as an example goes back to her Kids Incorporated days; particularly the last two seasons she was a cast member. She looks roughly early high-school age when she was actually 13-14 those seasons.
  • Alice Cooper now looks really good for being in his 70s, but he used to look far older than he really was. This is him in his high school yearbook, looking to be around his mid-20s. By the time he actually did hit his 20s, he looked to be somewhere in his 30s. He continued to look older than he really was until he hit his 40s, when he aged considerably well and slowly converted to being Older Than He Looks. (It likely helped matters that he replaced a former alcohol addiction with an intense golf addiction.)
  • Florence Welch is 26 as of 2012 and looks like this. Likewise, Adele was born 2 years later, in 1988, but looks like she's in her 30s. Just to point out further: Florence is the same age as Lady Gaga, and Adele as old as Rihanna.
  • Christian Weston Chandler, creator of Sonichu, looks about fifty when he's only thirty.
  • Vladimir Illych Lenin got his trademark figure which he held for life when he was just 25 and his photos from the late 40s to early 50s actually show him less aged. This is why a Russian journalist and historian said: "It would be hard for modern people to imagine Lenin in his younger years."
  • Taylor Momsen, due to her Goth appearance, looked like she was at least 20. At 19 she looks closer to that. Though pre-Goth she looked her age like on the first season of Gossip Girl.
  • Alisha Dean was a 13-year old girl who became famous for abusing statutory rape laws. She had a Facebook page where she claimed to be 19 and divorced, and completely looked the part. She had a habit of seducing older men through her Facebook page, arranging meetings with them to have sex, and then turning them in. She sent THREE men to jail in this manner, reportedly just for fun. Her father did nothing to stop her, instead agreeing that "these laws are there to prevent this from happening". Never mind that the girl even had a fake ID with her fake age, meaning that anyone who actually tried to verify her age could still be duped.
  • Randy Blythe from Lamb of God is only in his early 40s but looks like he could be 5-10 years older. Similarly, Lamb of God bassist John Campbell is also in his early forties, but due to his hair going white very early, he looks considerably older than that - mid-fifties, at least.
  • June Shannon of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo fame; she is 32 but she looks 10-20 years older than that.
  • Courtney Stodden looks like she's in her mid-twenties at the youngest. She participated in the Miss Teen Washington pageant in 2010... at age 16.
  • Malcolm McDowell for most of his career post-1980. In A Clockwork Orange, he was 28 when he did the role but he did look reasonably young at the time. By the late 1980s, his hair went white overnight and he lost his young Alex looks. And he started getting a considerable number of "elderly man" roles despite the fact that he only just turned 70 in 2012. Mr. McDowell has confessed that he has no one to fault but himself.
  • This is a 2012 photo of Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. He was born in July 1982, making him only thirty at the time.
  • Scarlett Johansson managed to convincingly play a character in her early-to-mid-twenties in Lost in Translation despite being 17. She looks her age now, though.
  • Another Judd Apatow-related example. Steve Bannos, the actor who played Mr. Kowchevski on Freaks and Geeks was 39 years old at the time, even though he looked like he was at least 45.
  • Sophie Turner is still high school aged but appears to look like she's just hit her 20s. She's only two years older than her character in Game of Thrones with Sansa being 14 at the start of season 3 with Turner being almost 17 at the time of the season premiere.
  • Lindsay Lohan ... oh my. Only seven years actually passed between this photo and this one, yet it looks more like sevenTEEN years had passed.
  • Savannah Hudson, who appeared on season 8 of America's Got Talent, looks to be in her late teens despite being only thirteen years old. She looks to be a similar age in her group's music video, despite being eleven years old at the time.
  • J. Elvis Weinstein, one of the original cast members of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (he was Dr. Erhardt and Tom Servo's first puppeteer), was only seventeen when the show first started on KTMA, and he was only fifteen when he first got into comedy. According to certain interviews with him, many people didn't suspect that he was really so young and were surprised when he revealed his age to them. He does look more like his actual age now, however.
  • Larry David (born in 1947) has looked like an old man since the 90s, due to having balding white hair and glasses when he was in his 40s. He was only 52 when he started doing Curb Your Enthusiasm, but looked about 70. His friend Richard Lewis is older than him by a few days, and Bob Einstein (since deceased), who played Marty Funkhauser, was more than three years older than both, yet both look(ed) younger. David's age is played for laughs in the show: he's retired because of wealth not age, he has a wife who looks much younger than him, he always dresses like he did in his 20s (wearing sneakers), and his father is still alive.
  • Lorde, depending on her makeup and how she's dressed, often looks about 30 (she was born in 1996). There was a picture going around that was of her and the 34-year-old Beyoncé where they looked the same age. Furthermore, a face swap made Beyoncé with Lorde's face made her look like she was really old.
  • Until the last half of the 2010s, Hulk Hogan (born in 1953) always looked at least a decade older than his actual age. He is a big guy with thin lips, a mustache, a very dark tan and started going bald in his twenties. As Hollywood Hogan in the 1990s he looked like he was in his sixties despite only being in his forties. Fortunately once he actually reached his sixties, his age caught up to his appearance.
  • Ric Flair hit 70 in February 2019, and looks about 10 years older. He looked very good for his age (even several years younger) up until around 2003 when he started aging rapidly. Compare this image from 1998 (at age 49) to this one just ten years later. It looks like twenty or thirty years had passed. He has continued to age, though more slowly—his appearance in the video to the 2017 hit "Ric Flair Drip" shows him to have changed relatively little since the second photo, except for having a bit less hair.
  • Sue Lyon, best known for her role as the titular Lolita in Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation, was only 14 at the time of shooting, but looked like she was in her late teens because she was unusually curvaceous for her age. She was actually cast because of her older appearance, perhaps to lessen the squeamish reaction audiences would have to a middle aged man lusting after his stepdaughter. But this also lessened the whole point of the novel and movie (that Humbert Humbert is a pervert covering his own tracks). Lolita's age is never given in the film and several reviewers at the time thought Dolores was "a full 17", not barely 14 (and she was even younger in the book).
  • John Linnell of They Might Be Giants has looked to be in his forties ever since the band began in 1982 (he was 23).
  • Ann Miller started dancing professionally in nightclubs when she was 13, passing as 18. Here she is in a poster for the Marx Brothers film Room Service, made when she was 14.
  • Judy Garland aged horribly in later years, due in no small part to her alcoholism, heavy smoking and drug abuse. She died in 1969 at age 47, though she looked at least a decade older.
  • Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones looked his age by the time he was cast in Hee Haw, but he took that stage name and performed in the guise of an elderly person when he was only in his twenties.
  • Camren Bicondova, aka Selina Kyle/Catwoman on Gotham, was born in 1999, making her only 15 when the series first aired in 2014, but looked older. Of course, the illusion was dispelled once she opened her mouth.
  • Bray Wyatt, born in 1987, looks more like he was born in 1967 or so due to his Beard of Evil. The same also applies to his former stablemates Erick Rowan (born in 1981) and Luke Harper (born in 1979).
  • Joey Fatone of *NSYNC was 18 when the group started in 1995, but has looked like a guy in his 30s ever since he could grow facial hair. He's also built at least a size bigger than his bandmates, which also adds to his image. Now that he's hitting his 40s, he's just now starting to look his age, if not still looking at least ten years older.
  • Chief Keef has looked to be about 25 since he was in his mid-teens, largely due to the fact that he never had a childhood.
  • Ireland Baldwin looks to be in her mid-20s, even though she's just 19.
  • Believe it or not, Don Most was only 20 when this picture was taken. He looks at least 10 years older than that.
  • A lifetime of alcoholism, smoking and stress has aged X Japan guitarist Pata terribly. Here he is in the 90s, and here he is now. This is especially noticeable considering his band mates are all very much Older Than They Look. He's not even the oldest member. After finally getting clean after a health scare in 2016, he's actually looking more like his age now.
  • Say hello to Danny Meeks, an 18 year old ice skater from Flint, Michigan. Let me repeat that, 18! God only knows what he looks like now...
  • Michael Jackson's daughter Paris, born in 1998, was able to pass for early 20s while in her late teens.
  • Christopher Lee was this for most of his life. He always looked at least ten years older than he actually was... until his final years, when he looked his actual age.
  • Angie Diaz was just 17 when she played Vida on Power Rangers Mystic Force, though she looked a little bit older than that. To drive the point home, her on-screen sister was played by a young-looking 26-year-old and many viewers thought Vida was the older sister.
  • Daniel Johnston died in 2019 at age 58, but in his last years looked to be in his late 60s or early 70s.
  • While John Cleese (born in 1939) looks his age now, he was in his late thirties when he did Fawlty Towers, but he could pass for his late forties to early fifties.
  • Power Rangers Dino Charge's Claire Blackwelder, who plays Team Mom and mentor Kendall and looks to be the mid-twenties age that would fit the part, is actually younger than everyone else in the cast except for Michael Taber (who plays the teenage Riley) and Camille Hyde (who Claire is barely three months older than).
  • Neil Kaplan looks his age at 50, if not still a bit older, but looked considerably older for most of his forties. For example, he was 43 when this video was taken.
  • Steven Anthony Lawrence looks about 10 years older than his real age (25). This is especially jarring since he looked his age for a really long time.
  • For an example of when this trope and Older Than They Look contrast, the actresses who portrayed the mother-daughter title characters in Kath and Kim were both 40 when the series premiered.
  • Jennifer Lewis was frequently cast as forty- to fiftysomething mothers back in the 90s when she was only in her 30s. She was also cast as the Grandmother of Raven-Symone and Kyle Massey on That's So Raven when she was in her late 40s (and, therefore, would be more likely to be their mother than their grandmother in real life). Voice applies here too—she was the voice of Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog.
  • Angela Lansbury was playing mothers to grown men before she even hit 40 and even played an adult in Gaslight when she was still a teenager.
    "Hollywood made me old before my time."
  • Norman Reedus, born in 1969, looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties when he first played Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead in 2010, but by 2015 he looked early to mid-fifties.
  • Tammy Lynn Sytch went to pieces after the death of her husband, Chris Candido. Drug use, weight gain and a deeper voice has made her look and sound like she's in her late fifties even though she's only 47 as of this writing (born in December 1972). While she looked good again by the time she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013, her looks have fallen apart again.
  • Yet another WWE alumnus, Arn Anderson, made his professional debut when he was 24, but due to the fact that he had a beard, a bit of a paunch and began losing his hair at a young age and wore combover, he looked like he was in his forties. He's changed very little since then, so his age caught up to his appearance.
  • Geddy Lee of Rush, born in 1953, was 38 when this picture was taken, but looked at least ten years older. This is made even more alarming since just four years prior he looked like this. However, in this picture taken in late 2015, he looks at most his calendar age, and possibly younger. He looked noticeably younger than 66 in this 2019 video (Lee appears at 2:16).
  • Keira Knightley benefited from this early in her career. In her teens, she got very tall and thus was able to believably pass for early twenties (because of course Teens Are Short in fictionland). Although she was playing age-appropriate characters in The Hole, Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, she looks the same age as her Dawson Casting co-stars in most of them. And in Love Actually she plays a woman in her mid-twenties when she was just eighteen - and her two love interests were Chiwetel Ejiofor and Andrew Lincoln, who were ten and twelve years older than her respectively. Her looks now match the age she actually is, if not slightly younger.
  • Jon Hamm has been quoted that at the age of 25 he was being asked to play the fathers of teenagers on various Teen Dramas - which of course employed Dawson Casting.
  • Aaliyah in her teens looked as if she were in her mid-twenties. She was only nineteen when Romeo Must Die was filmed but looked (and the character appeared to be) at least four years older, and sadly never made it to her mid-twenties, dying in a plane crash at age 22.
  • Jennifer Lawrence was able to play the female lead in Silver Linings Playbook who has been married for several years, and is the love interest of 37-year-old Bradley Cooper. Her actual age at the time? Twenty-one. David O. Russell has taken this trope and run with it, and a Running Gag among fans is that she's frequently cast as characters she's too young for.
  • Jack Wild started out Younger Than They Look, appearing as a pre-pubescent 11-12 years old when he was 17-18. However, years of heavy tobacco and alcohol abuse quickly aged him and when he passed away at 54, he looked absolutely elderly!
  • Beach Boys frontman Mike Love was 20 when the band formed in 1961, but as you can see in this picture (Mike's in the middle) he looked like he was pushing 40 due to his receding hairline, which is why he's spent most of his life wearing hats to hide it. Nowadays, he's actually Older Than He Looks. He was 75 when this picture was taken.
  • Irish actress Amy Shiels is 28 years old as of 2019, and she certainly looks her age now, but she looked significantly older than 13 when she starred in Cowboys & Angels back in 2003.
  • John Goodman has always looked to be in his 50s or 60s. Now that he actually is in his sixties, he looks rather good for his age.
  • Tyler Bate debuted for Over the Top wrestling in Ireland when he was only nineteen. Due to his muscular physique and mustache, he looked about mid-twenties.
  • Irish wrestler Jordan Devlin began his career at the age of twelve and once he put on muscle, looked considerably older than he actually was. Now that he's in his mid-twenties, his looks match his actual age.
  • Heath Ledger was only 28 when he passed away, but his noticeably receding hairline and facial hair made him look like he was at least in his mid-30s.
  • Richard Dreyfuss, perhaps in part due to cocaine addiction, and certainly helped by premature graying and balding, looked like a man in his mid-50s before he had even reached 40.
  • Warwick Davis was only 17 when he played the titular character in Willow, a man with a wife and two small children.
  • Margaret Hamilton was only 36 when she played the "old and ugly" Wicked Witch of the west. Even in her Miss Gulch role, Aunt Em's line "For 23 years I've been dying by to tell you what I thought of you" suggests she's a lot older than the actress's age.
  • Michael Rapaport was born in 1970, but looks like he's in his 60s.
  • Manchester actor Steven Gidwaney is frequently cast as characters older than he is. In the web series 4G or Not To... he plays a dentist, and in the short Assurance he plays a police detective. His actual age in both? Twenty-one!
  • This is what Dwayne Johnson looked like when he was 15 years old. Described as 6'4" and 215 pounds, when he was transferred to a high school in Nashville, everyone thought he was an undercover police office à la 21 Jump Street.
  • Angelica Mandy, known for her non-speaking appearances as Gabrielle Delacour in the Harry Potter films, looks a few years older than her real age. For example, this is how she looked at 25 in early 2018.
  • Melody is a Brazilian singer who, at the current date (February 2020), is only 12 years old. However, because of the way she dresses and makes herself up (and also because of how she behaves) she can easily be mistaken as a teenager of 16 or 18. She has caused great controversy in Brazil, as her father is accused of sexualizing his daughter in order to help her career as a singer.
  • Johnny Carson, around the 10th anniversary of his hosting tenure of The Tonight Show (1962–1992), looked as if he was nearing 60 years old. He was only 46 years old at the time!
  • This is footage of NFL coach Andy Reid as a 13-year-old boy.
  • Former Yellow Wiggle Greg Page was born in January 1972, but he looks more like he was born in the 1950s, despite being the youngest original member of The Wiggles and only two months older than the current Red Wiggle Simon Pryce. This may be due to the orthostatic intolerance that caused him to retire from the group. This is what he looked in 2006 aged 35 and this is how he looks in 2020 at age 48. That second image was taken after he was released from the hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest in January 2020. This clearly took even more years off his life as a video featuring him that was uploaded some time after showed him resembling a frail old man.
  • Leonard Whiting was only seventeen in Romeo and Juliet (1968) but was told by an interviewer he could easily pass for twentysomething.
  • Deborah Kerr sometimes played women who were in their thirties before she was actually that age. She had been hoping to play the teenage Queen Elizabeth I in Young Bess and was not pleased to be shunted into the small supporting role of Catherine Parr (who was mid-30s) instead. And in Tea and Sympathy, she was only 33 playing a housewife who's implied to be in her forties. Some of her other roles subverted this however - such as Black Narcissus where she's outright said to be too young for her position and The Innocents where she's a young governess on her first job.
  • The woman in Grant Wood's American Gothic painting was intended to be his daughter, but her plain clothes and world-weary expression make her look almost as old as her father. The result is many come to the assumption they're a married couple.
  • Irish actor Greg Young went through a growth spurt after The Nutters and played roles older than his actual age (such as a soldier in What I Stand For) - helped by growing a thick beard to go with it. At the age of nineteen, he played a college professor! And in Mr Peterson, when he was still eighteen, he played a twentysomething. That being said, he shaved his beard for other roles and was able to pass for even younger.
  • Also from The Nutters, Mason Creedy, who played the bully Ryan was three years younger than the rest of the cast (who were all sixteen-seventeen) but looked the same age.
  • Thomas Fitzgerald was only twenty when he made Aaron and lines in the script indicate his character is that age too - but the longer hair and thick beard made him look several years older (it's said he was a drunken lout in his youth, which would account for this). He looked his actual age in High and Tight without the beard. Likewise, he was nearly turned down for Mr Peterson for appearing too old for the role of the teenage delinquent Archie (but again, he shaved the beard and was cast).
  • Serial killer Dorothea Puente used this as part of her sctick to lure victims and evade capture. During the time of the murders, she was in her 50s, and ran a boarding house for people down on their luck, whom she would kill for their social security checks. But she intentionally dressed and styled her hair to appear much older, because who would suspect the little old frail 70 year old lady of comitting over 10 murders and burying them in her yard?
  • Ritchie Valens was only 17 years old when he died, but he looked like a middle-aged man.

Alternative Title(s): Younger Than He Looks, Younger Than She Looks

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