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Older Than They Look / Western Animation

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  • In Code Lyoko, Aelita is chronologically 22-23, but ten of those years were spent in stasis as a Digital Avatar in Lyoko. Because of this, she has far more knowledge and intelligence than any ordinary teenager, but she's still physically and emotionally 12-13, and is in a relationship with Jérémie, who's physically the same age.
  • Judging by the age of her daughter, Susan Vandom of W.I.T.C.H. is about 45 years old and works in IT. Judging by appearances she's about 25 and a professional glamor model. Compared to her, Cornelia's mom and Irma's mom are less mind-blowing, but still look nowhere near what middle-aged women should (or do) look like. Though we do get an idea where their daughters get it from...
    • This further reinforced when Will's father pops back into her life in season two; he's engaged to a younger woman who has the same coloration as Susan with the only real difference being a sexy if nebulous accent. Serena Sanchez is most likely in her mid-to-late twenties (unless she's also an example of the trope,) and the implications that Tony either Has a Type or is symbolically replacing his ex-wife are pretty obvious to older viewers... except appearance-wise Serena and Susan could be sisters with a only a few years difference in age at best, so it's hard to tell if Tony is "trading up" or not.
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    • Halinor, the blonde bombshell of the previous team of Guardians, still looks quite good for her age, with only a few facial wrinkles. She definitely doesn't look like she's pushing 60, and Yan Lin even comments on Halinor's youthful appearance when the two see one another in a second season episode. Similarly, when we meet Kadma (basically a grown up version of the Alpha Bitch) she's supposed to be at least in her sixties, maybe seventies. Physically she has, like, a line under her eyes and white hair...otherwise she maintained her prized assets and slender, youthful looks perfectly. Compared to her contemporaries, Yan Lin (who looks her age) and Narissa (who looks the Universe's age) one has to assume she's been either getting very good plastic surgery over the years or tapping her magic to stay young.
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  • Dragon Hunters: one of the main characters, Gwizdo. Just imagine a shorty in his early thirties who deservedly wears a pilot's suit but mostly looks like a youngster in his early twenties or even like a boy of twelve years. His emotional development is at the same level (for example, his experience of falling in love is minimal), but, at least, his intellect is actually adult.
  • Batman: The Animated Series has Mary "Baby Doll" Dahl, a former actress-turned-criminal who, due to a rare genetic disorder, continued to look like a small child even after reaching adulthood. Her anguish over being an adult trapped in such a body, and the public's refusal to respect and treat her like her true age, is the source of her criminal mindset. In a later episode, "Love is a Croc", she romantically teams up with Killer Croc, a similarly outcast bruiser who looks like a human crocodile.
    Batgirl: What do you suppose they do on a date?
    • Interestingly, Baby Doll being this trope could be seen as a deconstruction, as, because she looks younger, she couldn't get into other roles besides child ones (she tried Macbeth but that didn't go well) and she has a case of self-hate and resentment because of this.
    • By the time of Jusice League a case could be made for Batman himself being a more downplayed version of this: He's in his early forties at this point, but his appearance and physical abilities are still relatively unchanged from TAS. Justified because hs entire lifestyle is tailored towards keeping himself in absolute top shape.
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    • In Batman Beyond, Superman (thanks to his Kryptonian DNA) is revealed to look like he's in his fifties even though he's around Bruce's age (late-seventies to early-eighties).
    • Batgirl is this in The New Batman Adventures. She's in her mid-twenties and has graduated college to work as a data analyst for the GCPD, but she looks like a teenager and younger than she looked in BTAS. She'd be in her thirties during the flashback in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and she still doesn't look any older. She finally aged by the time of Batman Beyond, where she would be in her sixties.
    • Same goes for Robin (Tim Drake), he's 13 in The New Batman Adventures, but looks more like a preteen due to Teens Are Short. He should be in his late teens by the time of the ROTJ flashback, and while his voice is a little deeper, he still looks mostly the same physically. But like Barbara, he's properly aged up in the main Batman Beyond timeline.
  • Gargoyles: Gargoyles don't age during stone sleep, so they mature at half the rate of a human; Goliath, for example, was chronologically 56 years old at the time of the Wyvern Massacre, but was biologically equivalent to a 28-year-old man.
  • From The Simpsons:
    • Kearney Zzyzwich (the bald, fat bully with the white T-shirt, blue pants, and studded wristbands): Even though he looks old enough to be in high school (yet he's been held back in the fifth grade for a long time, and Nancy Cartwright (Kearney's voice actress) claims that Kearney is actually 14 years old), Kearney is actually older than that. He was alive when the Watergate scandal and the 1976 Bicentennial happened ["Lisa the Iconoclast"] (which would make him around 22 or 23 years old for a start), he has been shown shaving multiple times, has a child from a divorce ["A Milhouse Divided"], was in Otto the bus driver's third grade class ["The Mook, The Chef, The Wife, and Her Homer"], is old enough to drink in a bar ["El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer"] (though he often uses fake IDs ["Much Apu about Nothing"] or tricks Homer into getting him alcohol ["Last Tap Dance in Springfield" and that Mary Poppins parody episode from season 8]), was tried as an adult and put in an actual prison ["Realty Bites"], voted in a U.S. Presidential Election ["Treehouse of Horror XIX"], pays taxes ["Lisa Simpson, This Isn't Your Life"], and drives a car ["Lisa's Date with Density"], even though he can sometimes be seen on the school bus. Of course, this can be interpreted as a satire on how children grow up too fast and how the most childish of men are somehow fathers before they're emotionally ready (it is The Simpsons after all) or, as mentioned before, yet another sign that the show does not want their characters to age.
    • Ned Flanders: All outside appearances seem to imply that Flanders is around the same age as Homer (late 30s/early 40s), but in season 10's "Viva Ned Flanders", Flanders reveals that he's sixty years old and looks young because he's never done anything sinful and crazy in his life. In the episode "Dangerous Curves", a flashback is shown of Homer and Marge as teenagers meeting Flanders and Maude, who appear to be in their late 20's to early 30's.
    • Krusty the Clown appears to be the same age as most of the prominent adults on the show, but it's implied that he's actually much older. Considering his harsh lifestyle, this is pretty impressive. Even more impressive when you remember the episode where Krusty, while taking a summer hiatus, puts on a rerun of his show from 1961 (which is in black and white). And the scenes from his childhood (in the episode where he first reveals his Jewish roots and Bart and Lisa work together to reunite Krusty with his estranged father) look like they're from the 1920s or '30s at the latestnote .
    • According to the Mockumentary episode "Behind the Laughter," the "real" Simpsons kids, who, after all, have been doing this for a decade (when the episode was broadcast; two decades now). According to Lisa's tell-all book, Homer puts anti-aging drugs into their cereal.
  • Shapey and Block from Moral Orel look, talk and act like a 3-year olds but they are actually seven.
  • Quagmire from Family Guy has a driver's license that indicates he's 61. His secret is carrots.
    • Speaking of Quagmire, Quagmire's transsexual father from the episode "Quagmire's Dad" barely looks any older than her son. Quite impressive, given that she would have to be in her eighties at the youngest.
  • Harold Berman from Hey Arnold! is revealed to be 13 years of age, being held back in the fourth grade four times, and despite his weight, he's around the same height as the other fourth grades and even smaller than most of the fifth graders (not to mention he even lets himself get pushed around by them).
  • In an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Flapjack encounters what appears to be a creepy, annoying, wide eyed little boy who won't leave him alone. Finally he tells him "You need to grow up", and the "boy" responds "Grow up? I'm 38 years old!", which is followed by a Gross-Up Close-Up of his wrinkled face.
  • Probably Mrs. Dr. Anne Possible. In fact, in one episode of Kim Possible ("Mother's Day"), Dr. Drakken truthfully believes that she's Kim's sister.
    "Is he hitting on me?"
    • Granny Crocket after extensive surgery.
    Granny Crocket: "Granny had a little work done."
  • Futurama:
    • Before Slurms Mackenzie makes his Heroic Sacrifice, he says that his party girls have served him well during the past 40 years. The two of them look to be about twenty years old.
    • Bender accuses the Planet Express ship of this because the ship has tubes.
    • Fry is 1000 years older than he looks, thanks to being a Human Popsicle.
    • In one episode the entire crew jumped into an alien fountain of youth to reverse their rapid anti-aging and as a consequence all came out physically younger than their original ages (except for the Professor, who got even older). Which explains how after over ten years they all still look roughly the same age.
    • Cubert Farnsworth is 12 but looks and acts like he's around 9.
    • Although Dr. Zoidberg's age is pretty ambiguous given his alien appearance and his species' multitude of life stages, he is often treated to be, at most, the same age as Hermes (late 30s-early 40s). But in "The Tip of the Zoidberg", it's revealed he's known the Professor since 2927, suggesting he is at least in his late eighties (possibly the same age or older than Farnsworth).
  • Magneto in X-Men: Evolution is at least as old as his movie counterpart, but looks only middle-aged the first time we see him without his helmet. In a later episode it turns out he uses his knowledge of genetics to maintain vitality and the appearance of youth, and when this fails him he reverts to his true age. Then he uses the Rebirth formula (which granted Captain America his powers) to de-age himself again, and looks like a young white haired man for the remainder of the show (on the rare occasions he's seen without his face-concealing helmet).
    • Thanks to Wolverine's self-regeneration power, his true age will never be revealed but it's shown he was at least old enough to have served the military along with Cap, which he did in this cartoon. Magneto was a kid back then.
  • Mrs. Ridgemount, Lo's mom, from Stōked. Let's give an example: look at this picture. One of these women is a middle-aged woman with three kids, the other is a girl in her late teens. Guess which is which.
  • Mr. Garcia, Jonesy's father, from 6teen. He looks more as the older brother of his children. Heck, he looks younger that his new wife, Emma Masterson, Jen and Courtney's mother.
  • Crystal Zilla from My Dad the Rock Star, who looks barely older than her daughter!
  • Taken to an extreme with Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, who, thanks to a century spent as a Human Popsicle, is technically 112 years old. He's still not the longest-lived Avatar, though; Avatar Kyoshi lived to the ripe old age of 230, while never looking any older than 40 any of the times she appears on-screen.
    • Unfortunately for Aang, The Legend of Korra reveals that the time he spent in suspended animation came to bite him later in life as he only lived to be 66.
  • Henry and June of KaBlam!! are supposedly around 8 to 11 years old...yet depending on the artist for the episode, they look about 5 (could also be Rule of Cute in effect)
  • Invader Zim is described by Jhonen Vasquez as "older than any human alive". Whether that puts him into Really 700 Years Old territory or just Older Than They Look is the subject of much fan speculation.
  • Rocko's Modern Life reveals in the movie Static Cling that Rocko and his friends have returned to their home planet after 20 years in space looking not the slightest bit older than they looked since then. In fact, the only characters in the show that look far more different in age are Filburt's children, who are now young adults.
  • The young adult male Smurfs are really about 100 years old (150 in the cartoon show), while Papa Smurf is 542. Of course, this could also be referred to as the Vague Age where it's uncertain what particular human age their ages are supposed to correspond to.
    • Their human friends Selwyn and Tallulah are more than 200 years old, according to a Season 8 episode.
  • Miss Martian in Young Justice is actually 48 years old in Earth years, but since Martians age slower than humans, she has the mentality and maturity of a 16-year old.
    • Which makes it weird when you consider that her Love Interest, Superboy, was less than six months old at the start of season 1.
    • Superboy is a bizarre example - he's technically Younger Than He Looks (being that he is chronologically 5 1/2 years old by the second season) but is mentally 21 in the body of a 16-year-old. It's stated that due to the cloning process, he will look 16 for the rest of his life.
    • Arsenal is in his 20's, but is physically around 15 years old since he was cryogenically frozen for eight years.
  • Cute, pink-haired assassin Claire from Titan Maximum looks like she's eight, but Gibbs points out she's 24.
  • There was a clever variation in Courage the Cowardly Dog with the episode "Conway the Contaminationist", in which the eponymous Conway is in his 130s and can backflip around at will if he feels good—but, instead of looking distinctly elderly, he just looks bizarrely deformed.
  • Cody in Total Drama, despite being 16 like his fellow contestants, he looks a little like a 13-year old boy.
    • A lampshaded example is Chris, who looks about 25, but is actually in his mid-thirties.
    • Despite being 16, Cameron is small enough that he looks more like a preteen - likely a result of being a Bubble Boy.
  • Sarah and Jimmy from Ed, Edd n Eddy look and act like they're around seven or eight, but are apparently old enough to attend junior high.
  • Zach the Tagalong Kid from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) looks and sounds like an eight or nine year old, but states that he's "almost fourteen".
    • Buffy Shellhammer from "Poor Little Rich Turtle", she states that she's fifteen but she looks and acts like she's about 8-10 years old.
  • Strawberry Shortcake, and her similarly aged friends, are implied to be this in the 2003 incarnation. She ages noticeably through the series yet never appears older than thirteen. This is despite the fact her sister aged from infancy to at least six years old, she can drive a car, and she even moves out. Her 2009 counterpart probably applies too, looking like a teenager but being able to own her own store.
  • Transformers Animated: Ratchet is physically the oldest of the Main cast, with Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and Optimus being built after the war, however, later episodes reveal that Prowl was a draft dodger back in the war, and he looks about as old as Oprimus, he spent centuries meditating on a rock, so perhaps that slowed his aging process. Arcee doesn't look old either, but, unlike Ratchet, she was in medical care after she met him, so likely that's why she didn't age.
  • Apparently, according to the two-parter Superjail! season 1 finale "Time Police", the Warden is actually chronologically in his hundred-teens despite looking to be in his late 20s and early 30s!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Played with between Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. Many might assume Fluttershy to be the youngest of the Mane Six given her shy demeanor and childlike innocence (though Pinkie is also very childish), and Pinkie even jokingly tells Fluttershy in season one to think of her as "auntie"... but Fluttershy replies, a bit petulantly, that she's actually a year older than Pinkie Pie. In the flashback to their youth, Fluttershy looks taller and more lanky/gawky than the rest of the cast, indicating she may actually be the oldest.
    • Princess Celestia and Princess Luna take this to the extreme, being at least several thousand years old in spite of their youthful appearances.
    • Of all the Mane Six's parents, Twilight Sparkle's mother and father look the exact same age as her, and actually younger than their son Shining Armor. Having been introduced early in the series when characters only had six faces is largely responsible for this, as the rest of the Six's parents look noticeably older.
    • Mrs. Cake/Cup Cake is old enough to be the mother of Big Macintosh, yet just had babies of her own.
    • Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks: The Dazzlings were banished from Equestria, by Starswirl the Bearded, over 1000 years ago.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan, Stevens, one of General Steel's soldiers, is able to sneak into Sherman High undercover because of this trope. He even says he's nicknamed "Babyface" because he looks young.
  • Strawberry Sweetcake of Drawn Together was the smallest ass they could legally tap, after all.
  • Implied with Ms. Keane, Ms. Bellum, and Professor Utonium from The Powerpuff Girls. The series takes place in The '90s but they go back to their childhood in The '50s. That means they're around fifty to sixty, while they don't look any older than their mid 30s.
  • Bobby Hill of King of the Hill even though he's 13-14 years old in later seasons, due to his childish appearance, short stature, and immaturity you'd think he's around 10.
  • In the Adventure Time episode, "The Vault," Finn sees a vision of his past life, a girl named Shoko, who encountered Princess Bubblegum during the early days of the Candy Kingdom. Bubblegum looks exactly the same then as she does now, suggesting she is far older than the nineteen she claims. She only laughs nervously when Finn points out this discrepancy at the end of the episode.
  • In Detentionaire, it turns out that Lynch is actually seventy or so years old and masquerading as a teenager with the help or a wig, Magic Plastic Surgery, actual magic, and a teen slang dictionary (whose effectiveness is highly debatable).
  • El Tigre: Manny and Frida are stated to be 13, but their stature and appearance makes them look more like they're 9 or 10.
  • Mookie from Atomic Puppet is said to approximately 35 years old, but many viewers believed he was only about 18-22 years old due to his youthful appearance and the fact that he lives with his mother.
  • Winx Club has Miele, the younger sister of one of the main protagonists. When she first appears, she looks like she could be no older than a child in the early grades of elementary school. Three seasons later, she reappears and looks like she's aged ten years!
  • Codename: Kids Next Door one-shot villain Mr. B looks like a baby, and calling him one is his Berserk Button. In his only episode, he tries using the KND's satellite network to fire an age-changing ray down on everyone to turn everyone into babies, so that no one will be able to call him one.
  • Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) talks and acts like he's younger than his 8-year old counterpart from the video game series, but he is apparently 10, according to Sally in "Drood Henge".
  • Heloise from Jimmy Two-Shoes is officially 14, but looks like an elementary student.
  • Quite a few characters fall under this in Thomas the Tank Engine. Characters such as Thomas and Percy are often portrayed as the younger of the engines. However, going by the original novels, Thomas was built in 1915 and Percy in 1897. Which means, if anything, they're OLDER than most, if not all of the big engines.
  • The Crystal Gems from Steven Universe all appear to be in their twenties-thirties, but are all thousands of years old. Steven himself looks like a pre-adolescent, but celebrated his fourteenth birthday late in the second season—according to a photo album, he hasn't grown since age eight. However, Steven actually looks his age by the time we rejoin him in Steven Universe: The Movie, in which two years had passed since the events of the fifth season.
  • The 1986 Pound Puppies episode "How to Found a Pound" revealed that the Puppy Pound was founded by an old woman named Millicent Trueblood. She doesn't look any older than her 60's, but Cooler explicitly mentions that she was 101 during her death scene.
  • Thanks to the events of "Running With Scissors" having him reside in a time-accelerated dimension called the Neverzone for several years, Marco from Star vs. the Forces of Evil is chronologically in his early 30s, despite still being physically and emotionally a teenager. It's only when he returns to the Neverzone does he look and act older.
  • Lynn, Luan and Luna from The Loud House are 13, 14 and 15 respectivelly. However, by looking at them, you couldn't be blamed for thinking they are around the age of their 11-year old brother Lincoln. None of them have visible breasts, Lynn is shorter than Lincoln, Luan has braces and is a Kiddie Kid and Luna has Youthful Freckles. Downplayed for the latter two, as Luna and Luan are at least the same height as most girls their age. In fact, the art style of the show is done so that most teenage characters under 16 lack visible breasts, with 13 year old minor character Maggie being an exception to this rule. Still, Luna's wild side and Luan's childlike behaviour along with their lack of 'development' and other childish features do serve to make them seem younger at first glance.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel Pines are 12 (and turn 13 near the show's finale) years old, but are shorter than the average 12-13 year old, being more around the size of a 7 year old. It's not just compared to Wendy (who is 15 years old), but also compared to all the adult characters on the show who dwarf them in height. Mabel's childlike personality, interests and Cloudcuckoolander status doesn't help either. It's also not just the twins: Candy, Pacifica, Gabe, all the girls in the "Roadside Attraction" episode... they're all rather short and look much younger than 12-13. In the twins case, it could also be a visual way of indicating how the kids and the teens are different from each other and inhabit two different worlds, which ties into the theme of growing up—specifically Dipper wanting something that he’s not ready for yet. In the original pilot, they looked more of a normal pre-teen height.
    • Gideon looks like he's 4 years old with his babyface, Youthful Freckles, voice and height, but he is 9-10 years old in the present.
  • Ed, the eponymous protagonist of Get Ed, is mentally and physically a young teenager but is chronologically a few years old at most. Because of this, he's a dorky Wide-Eyed Idealist who needs to have things like parties explained to him. He also doesn't know how to use cologne (which he pronounces "colon") properly.
  • Jet from Ready Jet Go! looks like a tween, but "Earthday Birthday" reveals that he's actually 63 years old in Bortronian years.
  • The titular character of Spongebob Squarepants is 33 as of July 2019, though with his youthful appearance and childlike demeanor he could easily pass for being in his late teens.
  • Batgirl in The Batman looks like she's about 12 or 13, but she's in high school and in season 5, is a college freshman, making her at least 18 years old.
  • The eponymous duo in Cupcake & Dino: General Services have this going on, as do some of their friends; it’s easy to mistake them for kids, but Cup and Dino in particular are either in their late teens or early twenties — at any rate, they’re both old enough to be running their own business.
  • In the Disenchantment episode "In Her Own Write" Bean meets a woman named Mary who's 23 but looks like she's about 12-14 years old, she claims it's because she drinks too much coffee and it stunted her growth.
  • The Secret World of Santa Claus: Most main characters are much older than they actually look.
    • Santa himself seems to be very old already. While it is never said how old he is exactly, he is shown to have brought gifts to Mozart, Da Vinci and King Arthur.
    • The elves seem to be pretty old as well, despite looking like children. Guilfi, while being The Apprentice, is shown to have helped Santa in his mission to bring King Arthur a gift, and is thus probably the oldest of the elves.
    • Gruzzlebeard is also shown in the episode with King Arthur, and is thus pretty old as well.
  • In Winx Club, Daphne is much older than she looks after she is brought back to a mortal body. When she died, she was an accomplished magic user and at least in her mid teens, and then twenty one years passed. after her resurrection, she appears to only be in her twenties like the main characters, not almost twice that, and marries Sky's cousin, who is close to Sky in age (22). It appears she did not age for all the time she spent at the bottom of Lake Roccaluce.
  • Due to the art style for Class of 3000, most of the kids (Li'l D, Eddie, Kim, Kam, Madison) look about 9 or 10, not helped by most of them being below average in height. They are all in fact around 12 years old.


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