|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||age disparity, age gap|
|Related:||Cross-generational, De-Aging, Aged Up|
|See Also:||underage, daddy kink, chan, Mentor Fic, teacher/student|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Age Difference is a trend in fanworks where one character in a ship is much younger than the other. Often, the characters are different in age in canon, but sometimes the fan creator introduces or widens the age gap.
In Harry Potter fandom, where characters from several different generations are all popular subjects of fanworks, cross-gen is the common term for age difference fics. However, this term may be exclusive to HP; in other fandoms, "age difference" is used, and includes fanworks where the age difference is less than a generation, but is significant enough to concern the fandom. What counts as significant also varies from fandom to fandom. For example, in Teen Wolf (a show that canonically refused to give some of the characters' ages) the age difference between teenage Stiles and twenty-something Derek, as well as the age difference between then-teenage Derek and Kate Argent (who seduced him in canon), resulted in much hand-wringing among parts of slash fandom, along with commentary from other parts of fandom that the same differences didn't matter in their previous fandoms. Even a 2-3 year age difference can raise eyebrows. Whether this eyebrow-raising or concern is valid is hotly debated among fans.
When one character in a pairing is immortal or very long-lived, age difference is sometimes not perceived as a problem, particularly when the characters look to be of similar age. On the other hand, time travel fics tend to take mental age into account more than the age of a character's body.
Whether an age gap is acceptable or not can depend on the age of the particular fan. Younger fans who are below or around the age of majority might have different perspectives from older fans. The country of origin of the respective fan might also play a significant role in forming their opinion, particularly for works with a sexual element.
Example Age-Difference Ships
A few ships where there's a significant age difference that generates fannish discussion:
- Lewis/Hathaway in Lewis. 20+ year age difference.
- Harry Styles/Nick Grimshaw in One Direction/Radio 1 RPF. 9 year age difference.
- Soldier 76/D.Va in Overwatch. Soldier 76 is in his fifties, while D.Va is just nineteen.
- Jareth/Sarah in Labyrinth. Immortal character with teenager.
- Erik/Christine in Phantom of the Opera
- Judge Turpin/Johanna Barker in Sweeney Todd
- Buffy/Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Vampire with teenager.
- Dag/Fawn in the Sharing Knife series (Lois McMaster Bujold). Fifties man with 19-year-old woman
- Dew and Silvia with most of their prospect spouses in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Dew is 13 and Silvia 14 when they're first introduced, and the majority of the cast is in their late teens and 20s.
- Serra/Oswin in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. Man in his thirties with a 16-year-old girl (16 being considered marriageable age in the games' era), can be made canon through supports.
- Haar/Jill in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Man is thought to be at least 16 years older than the woman, and the game hints at an attraction between the two that can be pursued through supports.
- Gregor and any woman he can marry in Fire Emblem Awakening. Man in his 40s, the majority of his potential brides are teens or in their early 20s. Most pairings involving the young teenage Ricken, Donnel, and Lissa are this as well.
- Almost all pairings involving Hayato, Sakura, and Elise in Fire Emblem Fates (all three are in their young to mid teens). The Avatar can also marry a variety of characters much older or younger than them, most notably the female Avatar and Gunter (who appears to be in his 50s).
- Saber/Genny in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. While not canon (the two don't even interact), Saber is 34 to Genny's 15 and Genny tells Celica in a base conversation that she wants to marry an older man.
- Balthus/Lysithea in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Lysithea is 15 at the start of the game and 20 by the end due to the timeskip, and Balthus is 12 years older than her. Rhea/Byleth as well, due to Rhea being a thousand-year-old dragon and Byleth being in their 20s.
- Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey in Ace Attorney. Phoenix is 24 in the beginning and Maya 17, and while the pairing is not canon their deep friendship can easily be read as romantic.
- Simon Blackquill and Athena Cykes in Ace Attorney. While not canon, Simon is ten years older than Athena and there is enough subtext to glean a future romantic relationship from.
- Usagi Tsukino and Mamoru Chiba in the original Sailor Moon anime. Usagi is 14, Mamoru is a college student (in the manga, he was closer to her age, being in high school)
- Tenzin/Pema in The Legend of Korra.
- Several canon pairings in the Tortall universe feature large age differences, the biggest and most controversial being between Daine (a teenager) and Numair (her teacher). They start dating when he is 27 and she is 16.
- Jeff/Annie in Community, Jeff Winger was originally in his early 30s at the start of the series and Annie at 18/19. The series eventually retconned Jeff's age to be 40. To a lesser degree Britta/Jeff (Britta is in her mid to late 20s).
- Captain Hook/Wendy Darling in any medium Wendy is often a preteen and Captain Hook is usually hundreds of years old. Romance between them when Wendy is that age is nonexistent, fanworks often focuses on a much older Wendy (at least early to mid 20s).
- Beth Greene/Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead. Daryl is a man in his late 30s to early 40s and Beth is 17–18 years old.
- Sandor Clegane/Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. Sandor is approximately 30 years of age and Sansa is 11-12 in the books, or 13 years old at the beginning of the show. Also, Petyr Baelish/Sansa Stark, Petyr is a close in age to Sansa's mother Catelyn. Although age differences may be more easily over looked in Game of Thrones fandom because of the quasi-medieval setting.
- Hardcastle/McCormick. Hardcastle and McCormick. Judge Milton C. Hardcastle is at least 30 years older than race car driver Mark "Skid" McCormick.
- Takashi "Shiro" Shirogane/Katie "Pidge" Holt in Voltron: Legendary Defender. Shiro is 10 years older than Pidge. Shiro/Lance and Shiro/Hunk also count, with an 8 year age difference between Shiro and Lance or Hunk.
- Pray Tell/Ricky on Pose. References in season two date the character ages to approximately 45 (Pray Tell) and 23 (Ricky) for a 20 year age difference, but some of the controversy also came from Pray Tell spending most of season one as an honorary Father of the House of Abundance where Ricky spent time as a 'child' of the House.
- Bruno Madrigal/Mirabel Madrigal in Encanto. Word of God says they are 15 and 50, giving them an age gap of 35 years. Many fans think they seem much more in the vein of 20 and 45, putting their age gap at 25 years.
- Loki/Tony Stark: in the MCU, Loki is an approximately 1000 years old alien, while Tony Stark is a middle-aged human. The age difference is vast, but seems to be not that interesting to many frostiron shippers.
- Red Candy by Shortcake Cunningham portrayed a 14 year old Taylor Hanson in a relationship with a 26 year old fan. (1997)
- Tale of Three Brothers by Jenn portrayed a 15 year old Taylor Hanson in a relationship with a 19 year old—a smaller age difference, but one that still caused trouble with his family within the fic. (1998)
- That's Me In The Spotlight by burncitybelle was controversial in the Larry Stylinson fandom for a 16-year age difference. (2014)
- December Follows May, Archived version, a fluffy and humorous frostiron fic dealing with the vast age difference between Loki and Tony Stark by hopelessheathen (ElspethMcGillicuddy) (2021 - 2022) 
- ^ , Archived version
- ^ "Official Tortall timeline". Archived from the original on 2021-04-12.
- ^ This is the familial element mentioned in the section: Fan Criticism: Ricky/Pray Tell.
- ^ The age difference between Jane Foster and Thor Odinson is also briefly discussed in the fic.