Clive James: Lampshaded by him in a 1987 TV special where he visited Japan. In one of Japan's famed hot springs, he converses with a salaryman who gives his age as 38. To which James responds, "You're 38, and you look 20. I'm 47, and I look 87."
21 Jump Street: This 1980s hit was entirely based around the premise of cops who looked young enough that they could go undercover as high school students.
30 Rock: It's implied that head page Kenneth is lots older than his callow youthful appearance would suggest.
Tracy: Ken, you don't want to be a page forever? Kenneth:(alarmed) Who said I've been alive forever?
In another episode, they find out that Tracy is older than he looks. This leads to a discussion about the belief that African-Americans tend to look much younger than they actually are ("Black don't crack").
Arrow / The Flash: Barry Allen is 25 years old in the first season, but looks like a teenager. Ollie repeatedly ribs him over this, such as jokingly telling Felicity that he's instructed the bartenders at his party to ask Barry for an I.D. before serving him drinks. This is due to Barry being a rare example of not using Dawson Casting. Grant Gustin is in his mid-twenties, and so is Barry.
Delenn appears to be in her 30s but is actually closer to 60 Earth years of age when the series begins.
The novels reveal that Alfred Bester is in his seventies by the time we first see him.
The Benny Hill Show: Inverted in a quick skit with Benny as a man in trouble because of a girl: "I thought was 18. She told me she was 18." Someone asks, "How old was she?" Benny answers with something like, "She was 36. And her husband was very angry."
Boy Meets World: In one episode, when Eric goes to Hollywood to work on a sitcom he meets an actress who plays a little girl on the show but is actually 42 years old. She then hits on him by grabbing his ass.
Nearly all the regular vampire characters in both shows are a century or more old but look the same age as when they became vampires. This trope applies to vampires in general, really, though very few in the Buffyverse seem to make it past their first hundred years without getting staked. Justified since vampires are undead, meaning they don't age.
In Season 9, Giles' aunts use magic to prevent them from aging.
Anya is at least a thousand years old, yet is stuck in the body of a teenager.
CSI: NY: In one episode, there is a subplot where one of the suspects was a victim of the real culprit, a wanted sex offender in his twenties posing as a high schooler.
During its first Big Damn Movie, while Paige is living up the diva socialite lifestyle, she has herself an 18th birthday party. Which could be chalked up as Blatant Lies. The actress is in her mid twenties and the character is in her early twenties. It also can be counted as a casual jab at Dawson Casting.
Clare's schoolgirl attire and hairstyle does a good job of dropping her apparent age from 14 to a tween. Probably as a means to play up her innocence. Her pink outfit in Causing a Commotion has a similar effect, as this before her wardrobe upgrade.
This trope is a plot-point in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The Doctor deduces that Nancy (who looks to be about 16) is actually in her early twenties (and therefore, the Child/Jamie's mother, not his sister).
Although he more accurately falls into Really 700 Years Old when it comes to apparent age vs actual age (he claims to be around 900), the Doctor also occasionally falls into this trope when it comes to apparent age vs mental age: for example, the Eleventh Doctor appears to be his mid-20s, but mentally is more like a wise and learned (as well as cranky, shell-shocked and somewhat senile) elderly grandfather. And this is actually implied to be inverted with the First Doctor, who looks to be in his 60s (and puts up a somewhat convincing front), but is mentally closer to a rebellious, immature youth who's sticking it to The Man.
Dollhouse: In the future dystopia, "Iris" seems to be a 10-year-old girl but actually has the imprinted mind of a grown woman — first a woman who pretends to be a girl before pulling a gun on Zone, and later Caroline, whom Zone and Mag upload into the girl to find the way to Safe Haven to avoid the mass mindwiping that has thrown civilization into chaos.
In Earth 2, hotshot pilot Alonso Solace says he's spent more time in cold sleep (en route to planets) than he has awake, making him much older chronologically than the twenty-something he looks.
Danziger (in his late thirties): So, how old are you, then? Alonso:A lot older than you, kid.
The Cardinal Witches from Emerald City are far older than their appearance would indicate. West in particular, played by a 31-year-old actress, participated in the last battle against the Beast Forever 20 years ago and was already having sex with Anna's mother before Anna was even born.
In Episodes, actress Morning Randolph looks like she's about 30 at the most, and is playing a character described as "mid-twenties", but thanks to extensive plastic surgery, looks much younger than she really is. She did a pilot in the 80's with William Shatner, wherein she played his wife, implying she's probably well over 50. When Sean sees her age written down (we don't get to see it) he reacts with shock and says to (late-40's) Beverly, "She's even older than you!"
The show is about a sitcom focusing on a high-school hockey team. The actors playing the kids are in their late 20's, and one is said to be in his 30's. This is true both in-universe and real life.
Famous in Love has teen movie star heartthrob Rainer told he can't do a stunt because he's only 20. Rainer responds he's really 23 and his mom/agent Nina "youthed me down" when he started out. This is the first clue to Alan figuring out that Rainer is his son.
Subverted as Nina has been having an affair for years with Rainer's best friend Jordan who she met when he was starring in a teen series, assuming he was the classic case of a twentysomething posing as a teenager. When Jordan's girlfriend, Tangey, finds out, she blackmails Nina to get her career going. When Nina first refuses, Tangey reveals that Jordan lied about his age to get that role and was really only sixteen when he and Nina began their affair, meaning Nina goes to jail if the truth comes out.
Firefly: Malcolm Reynolds looks like he is, at most, in his mid-thirties. However, a comparison of the dates of his birth and the dates of the "present" indicates he is in his late forties to early fifties, which is supported by Mal referring to himself as a "mean old man." This might be because of the advanced medical technology of the setting, however, although perhaps Joss Whedon originally envisioned the character as being played by an older actor.
Played for laughs in the series finale of Frasier which sees him in discussion with his agent, Bebe. She is recommending a cosmetic surgeon to him but Frasier isn't interested... at least until a balding middle-aged man interrupts them and addresses her as "Mom".
In the Season 6 premiere, the young and beautiful Melisandre is revealed to be an old crone who hides her appearance with her magical ruby choker.
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.
For a man who has to be in his fifties at least, Euron doesn't look a day past 35. As in the books, black magic may or may not be involved.
Glee: One episode had one character stating that Kurt (who was about 16 at the time) couldn't have purchased alcohol with a fake i.d. because he looked "like a 12-year-old milkmaid." She's exaggerating, but not by much◊. Chris Colfer himself was 19 at the time of filming.
Highlander: Upon surviving a serious injury, or "first death", an Immortal can become multiple-millennia-old and will still look like the same age they were when they became Immortal and can only be killed by decapitation. For example, Kenny is 800 years old, yet he is physically a child due to this.
On Hot in Cleveland, the girls have run afoul of mobster Sally (William Shatner). Suddenly, Elka's friend Sophie (Shirley Jones) shows up and it turns out she's Sally's mother. (in reality, Jones is three years younger than Shatner).
Sophie: You told me you worked for NPR!
Sally: You don't think public radio pays for those experimental skin treatments, do you? (to others) Look at her! 108 years old!
(the group reacts in wonder and congratulating Sophie on her looks)
House of Anubis: Victor looks like he's in his 50's while he's actually 95, thanks to the elixir he took. Same with Rufus, who looks about 40 but is also 95. Similarly, Robert Frobisher-Smythe looked about 50 when he was released from the tank, but was really over 100 years old. When the curse was broken, he started to look his actual age.
The titular Carly always looked at least a few years younger than she was. She was 13 in the first season and looked like she was about 11, and in the final season, she was around 18, but looked 15 at the absolute oldest. Even in the 2021 revival when she's 26-going on-27, she still looks like she could pass for late teens or early twenties. (And keep in mind that Carly's actress, Miranda Cosgrove, is a year older than her character.)
Spencer is around forty in the revival, but looks more or less the same as he did in the original series nearly a decade before. (And similar to Miranda Cosgrove above, Jerry Trainor is four years older than Spencer is supposed to be.)
Juken Sentai Gekiranger: Gou Fukami looks like he is in his mid to late 20s, but in flashbacks to his brother's childhood looks exactly the same age as he does now, and dialogue implies that he is or should be around the age of the 40-something Miki. It can possibly be implied that he stopped aging physically after turning into a werewolf.
Kamen Rider Double: Akiko Narumi is 20 years old, but looks much younger, in part due to her height and childish behavior. Shotaro even mistakes her for a middle schooler in the first episode, and continues calling her that as an insult throughout the course of the show.
Kamen Rider Zero-One: Amatsu Gai is 45 years old but his appearance is within his 20s, which he overzealously guards and takes pride in by calling himself an eternally 24 years old. A Running Gag is someone (like Is) pointing this discrepancy out, which he absolutely loathes.
Kamen Rider Saber: The Sword of Logos members Tetsuo, Ogami, and Sophia are shown to have all looked the same 15 years previously; it appears they are from Wonder World and age slowly. Ogami's canon age is given as 36, but a tie-in manga shows that he was a teenager in the 1980s and chronologically should be in his early 50s - suggesting he stopped aging after a point. It also raises the question of how old his son Sora, ostensibly around the age of eight or nine, really is.
Jupiter's Legacy: Sheldon, Walter and Grace have white hair along with a bit of wrinkling. They're all still over a hundred years old though, but look much younger and are capable of stupendous feats. It's apparently a result of their super powers.
One episode revolves around a teenager who is arrested for the murder of one of her teachers, followed up by another teacher arrested for sleeping with her. In actuality the "teen" is a con-artist who is in her thirties, and killed the teacher to prevent her from revealing her real age.
The murder of a private investigator reveals he was about to uncover something on a promising 13-year-old baseball player being scouted by the pros. Serena talks to the boy and then his older brother who seems to be struggling with easy school lessons...as if he somehow has skipped the previous three grades. Sure enough, their dad swapped their identities as the "youth" is really pushing 17 and the P.I. murdered (although not by the father) as he was about to expose the scam.
An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit features a girl named Janie Spear with Turner's Syndrome, so even though she is 17 years old, physically, she looks like a 12-year-old child. The episode focuses on her relationship with a 30-year-old employee of her father's; since she's seventeen it is fine but some of the detectives are uncomfortable with what they think this says about her boyfriend's taste in girls.
And in another episode, a 28-year-old woman not only poses as a 16-year-old, but is under the delusion that she is, despite having a complete memory of all the years she has spent going from one foster home to another and creating false identities. Based in the real case of Treva Thorneberry.
Lost in Oz: Used as a plot point. Princess Ozma is said to be in her 20s, but was enchanted to be an 8-year-old forever.
Bo-Katan Kryze appears in Chapter 11, set a full 29 years after the character's first canonical appearance in The Clone Wars. Given that she appears to be in at least her early-to-mid twenties in that first appearance, she would be in at least her early-to-mid fifties by the time she appears here. She was played by her original voice actress, Katee Sackhoff, who was 38 at the time of filming, and still looks largely around the same age as the character did in her last appearance in Rebels.
Ahsoka Tano appears in Chapter 13, making her 46 by the time of this appearance (the character was 14 at the start of The Clone Wars). She was played by Rosario Dawson, who was 39 at the time of filming, and easily looks like she could pass for 10 years younger than that.
An in-universe example would be Grogu, known to fans as "Baby Yoda" or "the Child". Grogu looks, and for the most part behaves, like a toddler. But he's of the same alien race as Yoda, who reached 900 years before dying, and in the pilot we learn that he is actually 50 years old, making him the oldest of the heroes.
Modern Family featured two examples. Sarah Hyland was 18, playing a 15-year-old and looked like she was 12. Adam Devine played a 21-year-old, looked like an 18-year-old, and was actually in his 30s.
The Nanny: Niles the Butler. Though he looks the same age as the other main characters, he's roughly 20 years older than the title character.
Necessary Roughness: Damon Razor, a hot draft prospect, is eventually revealed to have assumed the identity of a deceased boy four years younger than him. After re-enrolling in high school, he became a star football player as his short statue was no longer a factor with the younger team. In this case, this was Ripped from the Headlines, based on the case of high school basketball player Jerry Joseph.
NTSF:SD:SUV::: Aaron Samson, a one-off villain. He appears to be in his late 40s, but a photograph from 20 years ago shows that he hasn't aged a day since 1992. NTSF:SD:SUV agents variously theorize that he's a robot, since his father was a famous roboticist, or that he's a vampire, based on the suggestion of an FBI paranormal investigator. It turns out his mother was Asian, causing him to age very gracefully.
Odd Squad: Oprah is at least 231 years old. Considering that her actress, Millie Davis, was 13 when playing her as the Big O, and Oprah as a character was stated to physically be 7 years old when she was an Odd Squad Director, it would mean that she's 237 years old. In the position of the Big O, she has the ability to control her aging, but remains her current age out of personal choice.
Orla is 499 years old, turning 500 in "Orla's Birthday". She is an ancient Odd Squad Investigation agent who served as the guardian for the 44-leaf clover, a legendary artifact of the organization, before joining the Mobile Unit department along with Opal, Omar and Oswald. She is easily the oldest of the group despite appearing to be the same age as them, and due to being used to living in ancient times, she is unfamiliar with the modern world.
Orville, an Odd Squad Director from the next town over, is noted by Oprah in "O is Not For Over" to have served his precinct for 2,000 years, making him the oldest Odd Squad agent known to date. Despite this, he looks to be around the same age as Otto.
Played with in the case of Olive. The Cold Open of "Skip Day" has her remarking on being young again as she and Otto watch two men transform into young boys thanks to a vehicular Fountain of Youth before they run off to ride bikes together. A confused Otto tries to get her to elaborate, but she simply realizes what she's said and leaves the place, with Otto still confused as he follows her. "Party of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" also has her stating that they don't make the Odd Squad kid cars like they used to, implying that she may be far older than she appears to be. While she is established to be 12 years old, it's not elaborated on if she's hundreds of years old like Oprah and Orla, millennia old like Orville, or if she really is 12.
Once Upon a Time: Thanks to a curse, all of the fairy tale characters were frozen in time for 28 years, meaning for example that Snow White and her daughter Emma look like they're the same age.
Various other characters in the series fit this trope as well. Rumplestiltskin is hundreds of years old due to acquiring immortality when he became the Dark One. Physically he looks no older than a man in his 40s or 50s. (In fact, the actress who plays his mother is 15 years younger than Robert Carlyle.) Captain Hook, Peter Pan, and other inhabitants of Neverland are also centuries old while retaining a youthful appearance.
The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "The Sentence", a prison was created where prisoners serve their prison sentence within a few hours. The creator of the prison is trapped inside and serves a 20-year sentence within a few hours, which would mentally make him feel like he fit this trope.
Power Rangers S.P.D. gives us Dr. Kat Manx, who looks to be in her mid-twenties, but is actually 147 Earth years old.
In Power Rangers Dino Charge, this is one of the perks of being bonded to an Energem. As a result, Koda looks like in his 20s, but is actually 100,000+ years old. James Navarro, who is Tyler's then-missing father, looks ten years younger than his actual age. The villain Heckyl is later implied to be millions of years old despite looking to be in his 20s as well.
Raised by Wolves (2020): Name-dropped by the Mithraic children who state that they're older than they look. They've all spent the last 13 years living in a computer simulation while traveling to a new planet in suspended animation.
Justified initially with Lister. He would technically be 3 million years old, but since he was put in stasis (which time cannot penetrate) in his early 20s, hes still young despite the hundreds of centuries that have past by. Less justified in Series VI, where Lister and the Cat are put in hibernation for 200 years and from what we see apart from Listers hair, nails and toenails growing to long massive Hagrid-size hair, he along with Cat still look young. Even in the revival series despite Craig Charles and Danny John-Jules being in their late 50s and early 60s, ironically theyre still younger than their characters actual ages which are well into the triple digits In-Universe.
Revolution: Nate Walker might look like twenty-something, but the actor playing him, J. D. Pardo, is actually 33 years old. Tom Neville looks like he's in his forties, but the actor playing him, Giancarlo Esposito, is actually 55 years old. Captain Riley looks like he's twenty-something, but the actor playing him, Omid Abtahi, is actually 34 years old.
On Shake it Up, Rocky and CeCe are checking out the hotel of 16-year-old pop star Justin Starr and accidentally photograph him kissing his older manager. They then accidentally send the photo out to their contacts who spread it fast. Justin is actually happy as he can now tell the truth: He's actually 24 and his "manager" is his wife. This leads to both girls unleashing an epic Spit Take.
She Spies had them investigating a shady charity and one member getting friendly with a little girl in a wheelchair who was their poster figure. However, their boss starts going through records and realizing the exact same 10-year-old has been used in every poster for the last decade. It turns out she's the real mastermind of all this, in her 30's but with a genetic disorder that makes her look like a kid. The spy chastises her for abusing the trust of people as she drags her out of the wheelchair...only to discover the woman really is paralyzed.
Stargate SG-1: While this show has plenty of Really 700 Years Old for many races, the Jaffa fall more under this trope due to their more realistic lifespans. Free of disease and mutations thanks to symbiotes, they can continue to serve as warriors well into their second century of life while looking quite youthful.
In The Original Series episode Journey to Babel, Spock's father Sarek appears to be a man of about 40 to 50 Earth years of age, but is actually much older, being over 102 years old in 2268 when the episode takes place. Dr. McCoy asks him why he had retired, noting that Sarek was still young for a Vulcan.note Original Sarek actor Mark Lenard was just six years older than original Spock actor Leonard Nimoy.
T'Pol from appears to be in her late twenties but, being a Vulcan, is actually much older. In the first season episode Fallen Hero visiting Vulcan Ambassador V'Lar tells Archer and Tucker that she and T'Pol are the oldest people on the Enterprise at the moment, although T'Pol's age is kept ambiguous at that point. (V'Lar herself was already an adult and working as a diplomat when first contact was made with humans almost 90 years earlier). In the third season finale T'Pol mentions that she is 65 years old.
The Denobulan Phlox also appears to be 40 to 50 human years of age but is also actually a bit older, having been born in the late 21st century.
Tuvok of Star Trek: Voyager likewise appears to be in his 30s at the beginning of the series, but is actually over 100 years old in 2371 and had been married to his wife T'Pel for over 67 years at that point in his life.
In the episode "Rascals", Keiko O'Brien is temporarily turned into an adorable 12-year-old. The fact that she still wants to be treated like a wife squicks Miles out a bit. Three other crewmembers - Picard, Guinan, and Ro - are similarly altered, but none of them are in relationships at the time, though they all happily exploit this trope to retake the ship from a hostile Ferengi takeover.
The O'Briens seem to get more than their fair share of this trope. There's another Deep Space 9 episode, "Hard Time", where an alien race sentences O'Brien to a 21-year virtual prison sentence. He experiences all 21 years of his brutal, tortuous prison term in only a few days, making him mentally 21 years older; 21 really, really crappy years older. And even their daughter gets an Overnight Age-Up treatment due to a Negative Space Wedgie. This time, she actually spent those years growing up in a wilderness, and the O'Briens realize that the non-verbal wild-woman she has become cannot be undone, so they return her to the wilderness that has become her home. In doing so, this older Molly finds the young Molly minutes after she was lost in the anomaly and returned her to her parents, her correct age.
In the episode The Perfect Mate the Kriosian Ambassador Briam (Tim O'Connor) appears to be in his 60s or 70s in human years, but is actually over 200 years old.
Kara is biologically 13 when she lands on Earth, but is older in real time since her ship took a detour in the Phantom Zone for twenty-four years. Hence her baby cousin who was launched into space at the same time is already an adult when she arrives.
SupermanHand Waves the fact that he doesn't look 12 years older than Kara because Kryptonians age slower on Earth (likely due to the yellow sun).
Supernatural: Sam and Dean have both aged mentally several decades beyond their physical ages. Dean spent around 40 years in Hell, which means that he's mentally in his 60s. Sam spent an equivalent period in Lucifer's Cage (it's not explicitly stated how long though). This is only briefly mentioned in the series during Season 4 and never mentioned or given any indication of significance again.
Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters: Masato Jin, who is 40 years old but due to his physical body being stuck in hyperspace can only appear as an avatar of himself at 27, the same age he was when transported to hyperspace. His body, which is preserved in a chamber there, also hasn't aged.
In "Red Snow", KGB Colonel Ilyanov meets a young woman named Valentina Orlova soon after arriving in the Siberian gulag. When he consults her file, he discovers that she was exiled there by Josef Stalin in 1936. He later learns that she is a vampire and is in her 80s even though she looks 50 years younger.
In "Aqua Vita", Christie Copperfield's friend and co-worker Shauna Allen appears to be in her mid to late 20s but she is actually 46. She tells Christie that she drinks a brand of bottled water called Aqua Vita which makes anyone who drinks it look much younger than their actual age. When Christie orders some for herself, she is surprised when the 30-ish delivery man calls her "missy" and quickly realizes that he is much younger than he looks. However, when she asks him for his true age, he advises her not to ask that question. After Christie has been using Aqua Vita for several days, she discovers that it has a side effect that Shauna didn't mention: you must keep drinking it or you age rapidly in appearance.
In "Our Selena is Dying", Martha Brockman is at least in her 70s but appears to be 40 years younger as she has stolen her daughter Diane's Life Energy.
Ultraman Mebius' Captain Shingo Sakomizu appears to be 40, but is in fact 70. This is because he was originally a space patrol officer, and Time Dilation from travelling at lightspeed has slowed down his aging.
Warehouse 13: Mrs Frederic, the Caretaker of Warehouse 13 looks fairly elderly as it is but because she's linked to the warehouse she's actually a lot older than she appears. In one episode we met her son who is an elderly old man.
The final scene of the series finale gives a Time Skip "several decades later" and shows us Claudia, who has taken over as Caretaker of Warehouse 13 looking the same age as during the rest of the series, and picking up a few of Mrs. Frederic's tricks.
The Witcher (2019) has several characters who in-universe age very slowly, specifically Witchers and mages. However adding to the timeline confusion is that the characters without this trait still don't appear to age. Most obviously Jaskier looks almost exactly the same in his first and last appearances in the first session, despite a twenty year time gap. Yennefer even jokes about Jaskier getting crows feet, which he doesnt have.
Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman is over 2,500 years old, but looks like she's in her early 20s
Steve Trevor: You can't be more than 23 or 24
Wonder Woman: I will be 2,527 years old on my next birthday
Workaholics: All of the three guys look younger than their age, with them being in their mid-to-late twenties, portraying early-twenties characters. Adam, especially, suffers from this, looking like a teenager at age 26. In the final season, when he was 33, he looked to be in his mid-twenties.
Eugene Victor Tooms from "Squeeze" and "Tooms" was a genetic mutant and Serial Killer who needed human livers to hibernate. He looked to be in his late twenties in 1993, but his first murder had occurred in 1903.