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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)age regression
Related tropes/genreskidfic
See alsocrack fic
Related articles on Fanlore.
Art from "Oh To Be Young Again...!!", 1969, a Star Trek story in The Crewman's Log. Probably the earliest example of this trope in media fandom fiction
The front cover of The Child Within Us portrays Spock and a de-aged Kirk: written in 1981. The art is by Michael Verina. It is an example of rare (in Star Trek) and early (in any fandom) de-aged story.

De-Aging is a story trope where adult characters are turned back into children or younger adults. The transformation can be fully physical and mental. It can also be a physical transformation that leaves the adult mind in a younger body; or the opposite, where the mind is reverted to a child-like state, but the body remains as-is.

It is a popular genre in fandoms that allow for magic, such as Harry Potter, or have wacky science fiction technology that writers can use in lieu of a magic wand. De-aging can be written as humor, even crackfic; or as hurt/comfort, forcing characters to take care of each other. The story can also be a serious examination of changed power dynamics in the character's relationships.

In some fandoms, de-aging of certain characters to a younger adult or teenager is used to explore the sexual dynamics of a pairing where a perceived age gap now exists. It can also be used as a way to write underage stories that aren't "really" underage. In SGA fandom, photos and film clips from David Hewlett's days as an attractive younger actor contributed to the popularity of de-aged Rodney McKay stories.

In stories where only the character's mind is affected, the trope can come perilously close to AU stories that depict real mental disability with all the risks of ableism that comes with that territory. (See Disability fic for more details.)

De-aging is the opposite of aging characters up.

De-aging in Canon

  • In the fifth season Supernatural episode "Meat Swap," Sam Winchester was bodyswapped with a young teenage boy. Sam had to interact with the boy's family as a teenager in a teenage body, and the boy pretended to be Sam in an example of aging up. Also, in the tenth season a witch casts a spell that de-ages Dean to a teenage boy.
  • In the seventh season Stargate SG-1 episode "Fragile Balance," the Asgard clone Jack O'Neill and create a teenage Jack with all the adult Jack's knowledge and memories. The character has gone on to star in many, many fanworks.
  • In the fifth season SGA episode "The Shrine," Rodney McKay experiences a Pegasus disease called Second Childhood. The resulting mental deterioration to a child-like state seemed intended to resemble real conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • In several episodes of Quantum Leap, Dr. Sam Beckett "leaps" into the body of a child, and must discover and fix whatever the problem is while facing a child's lack of attention and respect from the people around him.
  • At the beginning of Teen Wolf's season 4, Derek Hale is turned into a teenager, with no recollection of what happened after he met Kate Argent. De-aged Derek was played by the same actor who portrayed him in flashbacks.

Example Fanworks

The Avengers Movieverse/MCU:

Blake's 7


Dong Bang Shin Ki:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

  • Puppy Love by Anonymous, Felix is hit with a spell that regresses him to his pre-Duscur personality

Harry Potter:

Hawaii 5-0:


Jupiter Ascending:

  • Rock the Cradle by ItsClydeBitches. De-aged Balem Abrasax, Jupiter Jones as caretaker.

Magnificent 7:


  • The Foundling by Kiva Taliana. Merlin has a rather odd accident; Gaius and Arthur are stretched to breaking point, while Merlin sees the world in a whole new light. (Gen)


The Professionals:


Starsky & Hutch:

Star Trek:TOS:

Stargate SG-1

Star Trek (2009):


Teen Wolf

X-Men: First Class:

Yuri!!! on Ice

Thematic lists for de-aging fic