Age Difference

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Age Disparity, Age Gap
Related tropes/genresCross-generational, De-Aging, Aged Up
See alsoUnderage, Daddy Kink, Chan, Mentor Fic, Teacher/Student
Related articles on Fanlore.

Age Difference is a trend in fanworks where one character in a ship is younger than the other by a year or more. Often, the characters are different ages in canon, but sometimes a fan introduces or widens an existing age gap. There are many instances where a fanon age difference between two characters is widely considered canonical.

Some fans prefer characters having a difference in age. For others, its a complete squick.

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 and vice-versa. 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. Although 18 is the age of majority in most countries, others place it older or younger, and cultural clashes are common when it comes to shipping age difference relationships.

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. Although discussion of age difference in fanworks often revolves around shipping, gen and platonic relationships are also common, especially in mentor fic.

Age Difference content became more visible in fandom spaces with the rise of social media over friendslocked journals and fannish communities. Flaming and harassment of fans of age difference pairings is common in some circles, even if the fans in question are underage themselves. Age difference content is also often not properly warned for with common tags or filters, especially on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, leaving many who dislike them unable to filter them out of their social media feeds. Anti-shippers are more likely to be against age difference pairings than anti-anti fans, and many fans have shippers of age gap pairings in their DNI lists.

In early Harry Potter fandom, the term cross-generational was common.

Example Relationships

Age Difference Involving an 18-Year-Old Character

If a character is ambiguously 18, fandom often ships them with characters younger and characters older if applicable. Some fans are adamant either way whether or not this would be best for the 18 year old character involved or their partner.


Age Difference Involving a Minor and an Adult

Difference of 1~5 Years

Difference of 5~10 Years

Difference of 10+ Years

Many fandoms which take place in Fantasy settings have ships with this type of age difference, such as Fire Emblem and Game of Thrones. If the ship is Het, it's often a "girl" and a "man." The reverse is pretty rare.

  • In Fire Emblem Engage, the player character Alear is 17-18 and can give the Pact Ring to characters many years older than them. The Pact Ring isn't explicitly a romantic item, but some of the S supports read as such and fans will still ship the pairings anyway.
  • 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.

Age Difference Involving Two Adults

Difference of 1~5 Years

Difference of 5~10 Years

Difference of 10+ Years

Age Difference Involving Two Minors

This is common in media which take place in high school. Time passing in-universe is pretty common, making some ships in this category minor/adult and adult/adult over time.

Time Skips, Magic and Vampires

Many characters don't age like living people do, thus are their own thing in terms of age difference relationships.

Featuring Adults

Featuring Minors

Example Fanworks


  1. ^ "Official Tortall timeline". Archived from the original on 2021-04-12.
  2. ^ This is the familial element mentioned in the section: Fan Criticism: Ricky/Pray Tell.
  3. ^ WenDip is NOT pedophilia!!!, Archived version (22 April 2016)
  4. ^ The age difference between Jane Foster and Thor Odinson is also briefly discussed in the fic.