Christmas Cake

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Nanako Kuroi, age 27 and still single. "You are wanted."

Buying a cake for Christmas is a Japanese tradition. Unfortunately, no matter how tasty a Christmas cake is, no one wants it after December 25. And no matter how attractive a woman is, it's said, no Japanese male will want to marry her after she's 25. Thus, Christmas Cake is used as a metaphor term for what Western audiences might call an "Old Maid." It's a common trope for a character to at least be surprised that another isn't married yet by this age. Even when the writers are sympathetic to the character, nagging to marry will still come from someone, usually her parents.

A Cool Big Sis may be one, or heading there, usually with extreme annoyance; referring to this character as Oba-san is about as tactful as referring to someone as Ma'am and is likely to induce a rage. Sometimes this is just a device to explain them hanging around other characters younger than them.

On the antagonistic side, a Punch Clock Villain is often a Christmas Cake. She tends to be very attractive but is relegated to cake status by annoying habits. The other problem occurs if she's also stuck in an Fundamentally Female Cast or any such place where men are slim pickings. The Competence Zone might force her to hang around and even fawn over men much younger than her.

Interestingly, the more unexpected the presence of the Christmas Cake is, the more likely her being one is emphasized as being an attractive point. If a character expresses this point in-story, he Likes Older Women.

This is on its way to being a Discredited Trope: the latest Japanese census data shows that more and more people are marrying older, with most people under 25 remaining unmarried. Many teens and young adults have never heard of the concept and many that have think it's old-fashioned. Having a character believing in the Christmas Cake concept may mark them as being likewise old-fashioned.

See also Hot Mom, Grande Dame, and Maiden Aunt for the much older Western variants. Also see My Biological Clock Is Ticking and I Want Grandkids. For people older than the average brand of Christmas Cake, see Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!. Contrast with Likes Older Women. Not to be confused with Fruit Cake. Not to be confused with being a lie, either. Compare and contrast with Stacy's Mom, an older character who has an excess of younger suitors.

The Christmas Cake trope is related to Never a Self-Made Woman. As the Japanese-culture specific variant of Old Maid, only Japanese examples should be listed here.

Another more modern, but no less blunt, term used in Japan is "urenokori", which is also a term for leftover unsold items in a store's inventory. Yeah.

Examples of Christmas Cake include:

Anime and Manga

  • Both Urd and her mother, Hild of Ah! My Goddess are technically examples of this (though since the manga progresses chronologically, a younger Urd eventually ages into it). They're a rare case of a mother-daughter cake combo, and quite happy in that regard, it would seem, and given her apparent immortality, Hild may be well beyond the measurable threshold.
  • Taeko Yasuko of Area 88, Ryoko's loyal secretary. She is very sensitive about her age and exploded when someone hit on her since she thought he was making fun of her.
  • Minamo "Nyamo" Kurosawa (Azumanga Daioh: nagged by mom and frequently teased by Yukari, despite the latter being a "cake" herself).
  • Yuriko Kuraki, mother of the protagonist in Moonlight Lady, is a shining example of this trope. She's unique in that she's a ghost.
  • Linna Yamazaki in Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 has to deal with her parents who not only nag, but set up meetings (omiai) for her with potential partners.
  • Emu Hino, the female lead from Crying Freeman. She was in her late 20's and a virgin by the time she met Yoh Hinomura and was set up for death. So, she asked the handsome and gentlemanly Yoh to take her virginity before killing her... which partially breaks Yoh's conditioning and makes him fall for her, thus he decides to make her his partner instead.
  • Mitsuka Yoshimine from DearS. Her age is never specified but she sure looks like she's at least 25, and despite the ridiculously Stripperiffic costumes she routinely wears (and/or strips out of) while teaching a high school class (presumably full of horny high school age boys), plus the fact that pretty much everything that comes out of her mouth is suggestive or overtly about sex... Nobody pays any attention to her. At all. Her love life is deader than a doornail.
  • Subverted in Detective Conan. Detective Miwako Satou was offered a matchup by her mother since she looked as if she Must Have Lots of Free Time, and hence, would become a Christmas cake. Which turned out to cause a Wedding Deadline-like moment for her boyfriend, Detective Takagi. Really not helped by how the guy Satou Sr. wanted for her daughter was Takagi's romantic rival, Detective Shiratori.
    • Subverted in an earlier case, too. The victim is Sayuri Matsumoto, a Christmas Cake that was Shinichi and Ran's middle school teacher, and even when she's getting married now, she's still past the "average age" of 25. The would-be killer was... the groom, hell-bent with revenge since her Overprotective Dad caused his mother's death many years ago. They do reconcile and get married for real... but only several years later.
    • While not directly stated, it's very strongly implied that the waitress Yayoi Himeno from episode 32 is one of these too. She's already 24 years old, looks and acts perpetually angry, and later we learn that the reason why she was brutally murdered (first strangled, then stabbed in the chest) was that she kept buggering her much-older boyfriend for marriage... but didn't know that said boyfriend was actually a married man, so he killed her to keep his wife from finding out.
    • The Stranger from 10 Years Ago OAV shows that if Shinichi never returned, it's highly likely that Ran would prefer to stay alone and become this while waiting for him, even turning down Dr. Araide's marriage proposals. Said OAV was just a dream of Conan's, but still.
    • In the "Distinguished Family's Consecutive Accidental Death Case", the eldest daughter Nobuko not only is unmarried while her younger sister Yasue is married and her brother Hieomi is engaged... she is already 39. It doesn't help that she treats her brother's girlfriend Miyuki (herself a little past the limit) like shit; her father reacts via openly citing the trope.

Nagato: I apologize for my daughter's behavior... I believe she's like this since she hasn't been able to get married.
Conan (inner thoughts): With a personality like that, she never will.

  • Mika-sensei from Doki Doki School Hours is 27 and still lives with her parents. She doesn't mind though, since she loves to be spoiled by her father and cares mostly for good food. Her mother is worried though and sets her up for a date for an Arranged Marriage, which doesn't turn out too well.
  • Miz Mishtal in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is another example of this; her first appearance shows her negative reaction to a letter from one her old (and married) schoolmate.
  • Mayuko-sensei from Fruits Basket. In the ending she gets together with Hatori.
  • Yura Kawada from Futari Ecchi, before she meets her match in the equally cute and even-then-not-taken Makoto, whom she met via an arranged date that went really well. Her cousin-in-law/neighbor/counselor Kyouko also fits in, until she gets married as well.
  • Rena from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni seems to end this way in the epilogue to "The Atonement" chapter. She's in her late 30's, and she seems to be single. Though, this probably has something to do with her traumatizing teenagehood... Finding out all of your friends died in a gas "accident", while you were away at questioning at a police station for taking them hostage will do that.
  • Namiko-sensei from Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl has gone without a boyfriend for thirty-five years. Or so she says all the time. She also tends to fall into holes.
  • Sawako Yamanaka from K-On!!
  • Haruka Urashima from Love Hina. She hates being reminded of her single status and called "Oba-san". Though she ultimately marries her Victorious Childhood Friend ( None other than Seta Noriyasu) in the manga
  • Nanako Kuroi (Lucky Star), 27 and still single. After hearing her students discuss the christmas cake/unmarried woman metaphor earlier in the episode she actually buys a Christmas cake after the 25th and proclaims (as she walks into the sunset) "You are wanted".
    • Further joked about when Nanako meets Kona's cousin Yui and assumes because she is alone at a festival that she is also unmarried at an advanced age. Yui however is married, but with a husband seems to always be off at work and offscreen. Everyone but Nanako just finds it embarrassing.
  • Mari Iijima (voice actress for Minmay in Macross) mentions this trope by name in the DVD commentary for Macross episode 9, on the ADV release. "We are like Christmas Cakes"
  • Mahoromatic turns the idea into a gag, where a much older Suguru is shocked to find his old boy-chasing teacher looking exactly the same.
  • Touko Kuzunoha of Mahou Sensei Negima is the calm and composed Shinmeiryuu mentor of Setsuna. At least, she's calm and composed most of the time. When the scheme of the Big Bad in the Mahora Festival Story Arc went off without a hitch, ruining her love life, and leaving her a future where she'll remain an unmarried 30-something, she snapped.

Kataragi: It could still work out...
Touko: I'll be in the magic world, and on top of that, an ermine! What the bleep kind of long-distance relationship is that!?

  • Shizune, as shown in one of Naruto Shippuden's omakes where she whines about how she's unmarried at age 27, unlike Kurenai who has already a boyfriend. Becomes a Funny Aneurysm Moment when said boyfriend, Asuma, dies.
    • The current Mizukage is apparently one as well. While nobody is dumb enough to actually say this, she often misconstrues one of her bodyguard's words as claiming this. She then promptly threatens to kill him if he won't shut up, while still maintaining a smile on her face.
      • The way she treats her younger bodyguard and her comments about Gaara and Sasuke have some fans joking that she fits the "fawning over younger men" part of the trope as well.
      • The fact that she called Sasuke attractive before trying to melt him doesn't help at all. For some it might however, and you know who you are.
  • Misato Katsuragi of Neon Genesis Evangelion makes this one of the few tropes the show plays straight. She's also possibly a Shotacon, with her affection directed towards Shinji, so it may be justified.
    • Mostly because of the really tasteless joke she makes during the phone conversation with Ritsuko about Shinji living with her. Otherwise it's mostly "Mother Surrogate" as opposed to "Shotacon". But the scene where she dies in End of Evangelion.
      • There is more to it than just that. Not only does Kaji ship the two just for laughs, but Misato offered him comfort sex right after Rei died, for both of their benefits. Word of God even states Misato's actions weren't even pity sex or to make him snap out of a slump, just pure twisted parental/romantic love.
  • OL (Oruchuban Ebichu, aka Ebichu Minds The House)
  • Robin from One Piece, as a 28 year old unmarried woman, qualifies for this trope, except that that fact doesn't seem to matter at all in that universe.
    • Boa Hancock, who's around Robin's age or older, would also qualify, except women in Amazon Lily do not seem to take husbands. However, she is madly in love with Luffy, but she presumably will never get together with him.
  • Haruka Shitow of RahXephon is 29 years old and has presumably remained unmarried due to still carrying a flame for her childhood sweetheart Ayato, whom she lost when she was 16.
  • Yomiko Readman of Read or Die is 25 years old and lives by herself in an apartment full of used books. She used to have a boyfriend/lover in Donnie Nakajima, but he died ...and it turns out that Yomiko was the one who sent him to his end in the manga. In the anime, it's implied Joker killed him off, though it's never explained what happened. Though, the manga clarifies that it's both. Joker arranged for Yomiko to be forced to kill Donnie. When Yomiko found out at the end of the manga, the events of the anime backstory happen.
  • Megumi Takani from Rurouni Kenshin. She's more exactly 23 years old, but Sanosuke pretty much calls her Christmas cake to her face after Kenshin tells his friends about Enishi and Tomoe and she is very displeased. In the end, she decides to come back to her hometown to pursue her dream to be a doctor.
  • Dominura (Simoun, unusually old for a Sibylla).
  • Marie Mjolnir from Soul Eater. In her introductory scene she's freaking out, because she wanted to have been married and retired by now, so she declares that she wants to marry the toilet. Later things look up for her. She is about to get back together with her old boyfriend, and then he's murdered on the way to their reunion date.
  • Yuri-sensei from Toradora!, to the point that she talks about it to herself constantly, and nearly acts like a zombie.
  • Sumire from Kimi wa Petto is viewed by her coworkers with a mixture of awe and hostility for being a 28-year-old working single woman whose high education and intelligence scares away men. She does find a patient boyfriend in her first crush, Hatsumi, but in the end goes the Likes Older Women route and hooks up with Takeshi who is 8 years her junior.
  • Mai Kujaku/Valentine in Yu-Gi-Oh: doesn't really seem to want to get married (one of her duels actually was against her "fiancée", the actor Jean-Paul), as her tastes may point to younger men, AKA Jonouchi/Joey (despite Word of God from Takahashi himself) or possibly Varon. This would explain what an adult woman is doing on an island playing children card games with children. (She's not the only adult, but most of the people are children.) Then again, card games are a Serious Business, and she does state that she just wants the outrageously large prize money.
    • Though there was no (explicit) prize money in the Battle City tournament... hmm....
    • She could have done it for the rare cards.
    • Mai is actually 24 years old, so she technically has not reached Christmas cake status yet. Not that it would matter to most fans anyway considering how good she looks.
  • Ayako, the Shrine Maiden in Ghost Hunt. Naru teases that she's a bit old to be an unspoilt virgin.
    • Ayako is only 23 years old according to Wikipedia and a few other sites, so she's actually still a few years away from becoming a Christmas Cake.
  • Hikaru's older sister Kei in the (rather explicit but romantic h-manga) Take on Me once gave Tsuda a kick to the face when he mistook her for still being in middle school. Then again, if you're 26 years old and look half your age, who wouldn't say that (and get kicked)?
  • Subverted in Fairy Tail. Ur gets advice from a friend that she should settle down and get a man since she's approaching that age. It turns out Ur already had a daughter, which she never mentioned because she believed her daughter was dead. While we don't know what happened between them, her daughter Urtear is alive and kicking as The Dragon (and hates her mother because she actually believes that Ur abandoned her to her luck).
  • Technically, as of Force, Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate have all moved into this category (especially Nanoha and Hayate, who are both Japanese), whereas Shamal and Signum have officially been here since at least A's epilogue. Though I really dare you to walk up to the top-ranked over-S mage career officers of the TSAB and tell them they ought to get married. Go ahead and try. On a side note, Nanoha has formed her own family by now... with Fate and Vivio, so that may be a moot point.
    • And on the other side of the trope, Nanoha's family makes and sells Christmas Cakes at their cafe every year. In fact, Miyuki's comment in A's about how Kyouya doesn't mind the overtime spent making the cakes because his girlfriend helps out is just about the only thing she does all season.
  • Taeko from Only Yesterday. She's 27 and unmarried, which gets brought up many times in the film to the point where Toshio's grandmother suggests she marry him. Since Toshio and Taeko quite like each other, it ultimately works.
  • Rosario + Vampire crosses the line into Unfortunate Implications. Mizore Shirayuki is a Snow Woman, and her race can only bear children from the mid teens to mid twenties. A literal Christmas Cake, she is forced into an Arranged Marriage so she can marry and have kids. She tries to escape by going to the one she is in love with, stripping, tackling him, straddling him and begging him to have sex with her. Wow, Japan.
    • It could be considered justified due to the fact her Youkai One-Gender Race is dying out in part thanks to this... While at the same time making it even worse. It comes as no surprise that Mizore is arguably the biggest Woobie of the cast.
  • The adult manga Toshiue no Hito uses this for some drama when the 20-year-old protagonist (in university at the time) introduces his new girlfriend to his parents; they're scandalised that he's living with a 26-year-old widow. When they actually meet her, they're somewhat surprised to find she's really, really young-looking.
    • How young? She later models clothes for pre-teens.
  • It is commented in A Bride's Story that Amira might be a bit old for marriage. She's twenty, and her husband is twelve. A bit of Truth in Television because Asian girls at the time do tend to be married off rather young, sometimes just after their first period.
  • The Second Guest in Gregory Horror Show is an unmarried woman who is, if Judgement Boy's observation is true, in her late twenties/early thirties. The fact that she chose her career over her boyfriend (resulting in him breaking up with her) and that she had to watch her best friend marry the guy actually turns out to be the root of all her mental problems. Poor woman...
  • A Running Gag in the early episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is how Madoka's Meganekko homeroom teacher, Kazuko Saotome, complains endlessly about her Christmas Cake status. Even in class. Her age isn't fully disclosed, but she is a friend of Madoka's Hot Mom Junko... so she may be already in her thirties.
  • Hitomi Shinonome from Loveless, Ritsuka's homeroom teacher, is just 23, but still counts. Made worse by how she is also a virgin, thus she still has her cat ears (which are supposed to disappear once the person has sex) - a symbol of her immaturity and insecure nature. All of this has a devastating effect on what's left of her self-esteem.
  • Haruna Sakurada from Sailor Moon is one of the most famous examples of this. She has a Heroic BSOD when Umino flips her skirt and gives us a Panty Shot ("... I'm soileeeed! I'll never get marrieeeeed!"), shows envy when a fellow teacher accepts a marriage proposal, and when she does get an off-screen prospect boyfriend and the guy cancels their date due to work, she becomes very irritable.
  • Keiko from Twenty Year Old Girl X Thirty Year Old Maiden angsts about this, especially once she starts dating Emi, a cute girl ten years her junior, whose youthful beauty makes Keiko even more aware of her age. Fortunately, Emi doesn't seem to mind.
  • Tomoe from Hanasaku Iroha is REAL sensitive about her lack of relationships.
  • Tesla Magnets in Mega Man NT Warrior is not only a Christmas Cake but obsesses over it. Just to give you an idea, she hijacks a robot named Thirty and goes on a rampage. And if she's ever especially angry, expect a backdrop covered in "30" to appear.
  • Hidamari Sketch: Yoshinoya-sensei is hinted to be at least thirty years old, but doesn't seem to care all that much.
  • Bleach: Although she's never directly called "Christmas Cake" in the anime, Rangiku's age is a very sore point for her, with one filler episode going so far as to even create a male version for the sole purpose of having one kid press two berserk buttons by referring to Rangiku as "oba-san" and Yumichika as "o-san" in the same conversation. The anime later takes Rangiku's age references even further by making it such a big issue in the Zanpakutou Arc that it's actually one of the reasons why Rangiku's zanpakutou is angry with her.
  • Implied to be the case with Major General Armstrong in Fullmetal Alchemist. She uses it to her advantage when charming information out of an enemy.
  • Sae Shirai from Kodomo no Jikan bounces back and forth between being proud of her independent, unmarried life in her thirties and regretting it.


  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Marion is motivated to set the film's action in motion that is, steal $40,000, and run off with it in order to pay off her boyfriend's debts so he can marry her in part because she is over 35, and desperate to get married. The film was released in 1960, and audiences believed this character's motivation. When Gus Van Sant remade the film shot-for-shot in 1998, with a younger Anne Heche as Marion, the motive vanishes. Aside from the age of the character, an audience in 1998 was not inclined to believe a woman would commit a felony to avoid being an old maid.
  • In Darby O'Gill and the Little People Katie gets warnings about becoming one of these if she doesn't settle down soon.


  • In Persuasion, by Jane Austen, the female lead character, Anne Elliot is considered nearly unmarriagable due to her age—she's 27.
  • Pride and Prejudice has 26-year-old Charlotte Lucas, who jumps at marriage with Mr. Collins because she knows it's the only chance she'll ever have.
  • In Sense and Sensibility, the trope is alluded to by Marianne, who notes that a woman of 27 would be lucky to marry the 35-year-old Colonel Brandon since she's past the age at which she could properly feel anything anyway.

"A woman of seven-and-twenty," said Marianne, after pausing a moment, "can never hope to feel or inspire affection again...

  • In Fear and Trembling, a semi-autobiographical novel by Amélie Nothomb in which she describes her disastrous experience as a foreign Office Lady in a Japanese corporation, her immediate superior is an unmarried 29-year-old woman. It's hinted that her parents are desperate to see her get married before she turns 30 (which she doesn't).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Arianne Martell is only 23, but is considered to be one of these. After all, she lives in a world where marriage at 14 is far from unheard of.
    • Turns out that there's a very good reason for this, her father had a plan to marry her to Viserys Targeryen when he returned to retake the throne. In order to avoid suspicion, he only presented Arianne with pathetic and unsuitable grooms that he knew his willful daughter would reject. The plan went nowhere due to Viserys' death, but now that Aegon Targaryen has invaded, she may marry him instead.
  • Charlotte M. Yonge's The Clever Woman of the Family (1865) achieves two twists on this trope:
    • At the beginning of the book, Rachel is secretly happy to have reached age 25 without marrying, because her family no longer expects her to marry, and she would prefer to be an old maid. By the end of the book, though, Rachel has married, in spite of her age and disinclination.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl Thrix falls (reluctantly) into this category, not so much due to her being a werwolf with a borderline psychotic family, but more to her being a chronic workaholic.
  • In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett considers herself this at 19 years old, worrying that her chances for remarrying are slim due to her age, ("Men always prefer silly young things") and the fact that she is also a widow with a child. Later on, the book refers to another character who is considered a spinster at 25. Extreme examples, but also a Justified Trope considering that girls married very young in those days.
    • Although Scarlett eventually marries two other times, she wasn't so much worried about remarrying (with the exception of Ashley), she was more worried about being considered homely and unattractive.
  • The Gargoyle: Trope is referenced by name and explained in relation to Sayuri and her family; she disregards the 'rule' and goes off to America, where she eventually meets and marries a man named Gregor, although the wedding comes a bit late, and well after 25.
  • In The Age of Innocence, Newland Archer's sister Janie is indicated to be approaching this point. When her mother balks at giving away her wedding dress, wanting to save it for her daughter, she is reminded that Janie is "nearing the age where pearl grey poplin and no bridesmaids would be more appropriate", rather than the elaborate ceremonies meant for younger brides.
  • In Garden of Shadows by V. C. Andrews, Olivia mentions that at 24 years old she was already considered an "old maid." She rapidly deludes herself into thinking that she loves Malcolm Foxworth because she believes she will never have another chance at marriage.

Live-Action TV

  • Some Doctor Who fans consider the vaguely Bridget Jones-esque Donna as an example of this trope.
    • She was going to get married right before The Doctor poofed into her life, however. Literally, it's her wedding day. On the other hand, the wedding was only being held to keep her around for a nefarious plot her fiance centered around her and the coffee she drank every morning (yes, really). Still, she did wind up happily married in Forest of the Dead. This ends rather abruptly, when it turns out that her children don't really exist and she and her husband were actually "saved" in the dream world of a child-computer and the two are "uploaded" along with everything else. She figures that her husband never existed and leaves just as he calls out to her before being teleported home. Poor Donna has terrible luck...
      • She finally gets married at the end of The End Of Time.
  • The unbelievably stunning Joan in Mad Men would nevertheless appear to be headed this way, judging by the reaction in an episode when an ex-boyfriend distributed a photocopy of her driver's license with the birthdate circled; she's 31, which is pretty far along for a single girl in 1962. Perhaps in panic, she found a nice doctor a year or so later and married him. No more waiting for her MUCH older lover to divorce his wife.
  • Fran Fine from The Nanny is an occidental example of this trope, especially during the early seasons of the series. C.C. Babock is a more subdued version.
  • Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, at least as far as her mother is concerned. Notable in that Lwaxana never thought being married should restrict her activities except for who she slept with, and holds the same views with regards to her daughter; she just wishes her daughter would hurry up and get hitched.
    • Which she does, to a human Starfleet Officer (Riker); following in her mother's footsteps.
  • A male example of this trope crops up from time-to-time on NCIS. Tony DiNozzo is occasionally twitted as being "too old" for women in their twenties. He is usually rebuffed when he makes passes at them, too, on similar grounds, despite the fact that he's not really all that old.
  • Carnivale's snake charmer Ruthie (who has a son and has no intention of getting married), bearded lady Lila (whose whatever-that-is relationship with Lodz isn't marriage), and Iris Crowe (whose relationship with her brother doesn't leave too much time for getting married).
  • The title character of Ally McBeal is severely insecure about her age, her inability to form a viable relationship with a man and her "biological clock". These insecurities of her is often the butt of other (similarly aged and unmarried) female characters' jokes, but it is implied that she is just being crazy over nothing, and her actually celebrating her 32nd birthday (instead of, you know, spending the day wanting to die) in the show's last season is treated as a sign of huge character growth.
  • Samantha Carter, who ended the series as an unmarried colonel ("Black Widow Carter" and all that jazz).Amanda Tapping [1] was by that time a mom in her early forties. Some fans liked her looks better in Seasons 7-10 than earlier.
  • Casualty and Holby City have a lot of hot older women. Notably Rosie Marcel in Holby, and Kath, played by unnamed actress in Casualty.
  • In Downton Abbey, Mary seems to be bordering on this - Violet is keen to see her get married "before the bloom is quite gone off the rose."
    • Anna looks to be in her late twenties or early thirties, but is still single because female staff are not allowed boyfriends. Subverted when she marries Mr. Bates.
    • Mrs Hughes has never been married, but uses "Mrs" as a courtesy title because she is the housekeeper. (Truth in Television - as mentioned on the show, at that time "Nannies, cooks and housekeepers [were] always Mrs")
  • Lampshaded by Eun Bi from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop in the first episode, when she laments that nobody will want to date her since she's twenty-five.


  • Rilo Kiley's song "XMas Cake" appears to be about this trope. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who is "twenty-five years old (with) a bachelor's degree" but has no job prospects and already looks "old and defeated" without her makeup on.
  • 22 in which Lily Allen laments for her 30-year-old protagonist:

It's sad but it's true how society says her life is already over
There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
Until the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

Professional Wrestling

  • Until the 90s, All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling had a policy that their wrestlers had to retire at age 25. (Until the establishment of JWP in 1986, they were the only women's pro wrestling promotion in Japan. After that, wrestlers had the option of jumping to other promotions instead.)
  • In America, we have former WWE General Manager Vickie Guerrero, a middle-aged but still reasonably attractive woman who is relentlessly mocked for being "fat" and "ugly." Edge, however, genuinely loved her and once almost married her, making him a cake eater. However, Vickie is now visibly more attractive than she used to be - this is referenced by her being called a cougar by everyone, and it's only Jerry Lawler who still makes jokes about her weight.
    • The Divas are likely to be released once they hit their 30s. The exception is Ivory, who was signed while she was in her 30s and kept with the company well into her 40s.


  • Katisha in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado pursues the much younger Nanki-Poo as a lover despite his vehement protests (he even runs away just to avoid her) though she's mostly played sympathetically and ends up with someone her own age at the end.
    • G & S loved this trope. The shows are crawling with older unmarried women (often teased/mocked in verse). Ruth from The Pirates of Penzance is another example—G & S tended to reuse character tropes to fit the cast they were writing for.
  • Marian the librarian in The Music Man with the first motive being her mother saying "this might be your last chance", although she presumably gets married at the end.
  • Charmian from Antony and Cleopatra laments her lack of a husband and children to the point of becoming Deadpan Snarker about others' love situations.

Video Games

  • Muffy from the Harvest Moon series; she's always lamenting her failure with men, and in the Japanese version of Harvest Moon DS, her parents even try to arrange a marriage for her! (In the American version, they just try setting her up on a blind date.) She's also one of the available marriage candidates in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life and Harvest Moon DS—in DS, she'll also eventually end up marrying Griffin if the player doesn't marry her, though in A Wonderful Life, she and Griffin will merely remain in a state of perpetual UST.
  • Ms. Kashiwagi from Persona 4, who is immediately fingered as one of these in her introduction and later is so delusional about her looks that she competes in a high school beauty contest and genuinely acts surprised at her loss.
    • In the earlier Persona 2, this was deconstructed with Ulala. She not only has no man, she has no job or skills leading her to attempt to kill her best friend Maya, who is much more successful.
  • The basis behind a joke in Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2, where Aguija is called an "Old Hag" by the teenaged Lune Zoldark. She takes particular offense to this, saying that she's still in her 20's. Bottle Fairy Excellen (23) then gets into it, pointing out that all the females in their team are still younger than her, drawing a few uncomfortable laughs from Katina and Rhada, who at ages 25 and 27, are only just.
    • In MX, Aqua Centrum has this stigma as she is among the oldest pilots in the game, older than her copilot Hugo by a few years and significantly older than the various pilots from series such as Gundam and Dragoner.
  • Raine Sage of Tales of Symphonia isn't quite to this point yet, but she does make more than one reference to worrying about her age. All the more ridiculous because, as an elf or, rather, half-elf she'll live for about a thousand years. She can, indeed, pursue romantic involvement with the much younger main character.
  • Reina Mayuzumi of Trauma Center Under The Knife 2, also The Vamp, is 35, single, and constantly tries to sex up Derek, after which Angie furiously complains that she has to be much older than she looks. Her ultimate fate is related to this trope.
  • Liliana spends most of Princess Waltz pretending to be a middleschooler, yet rather pointedly asks Arata if he likes 'older women'. His mother on the other hand outright accuses her of being a cradle-snatcher.
  • Bonnie MacFarlane from Red Dead Redemption is one of these. Shes only 29, but given the time period (1911) she's considered an old spinster. The charming and mysterious (and Happily Married) John Marston swooping in out of nowhere and Bonnie instantly showing signs of infatuation is the stuff shippers dream of.
    • She does get married by the time of the epilogue.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, becoming one is Sue's greatest fear, as she's already 22 by the beginning of the game. She wants to have a husband and have a lovey-dovey relationship with him, but can't find one because she drives away her suitors with her Well, Excuse Me, Princess! and Mood Swinger attitudes.
  • In Brutal Legend, the demonic Battle Nuns are a parody of this trope. They are self-conscious and all too eager to have Emperor Doviculus' demonic babies, right there, in the middle of the battlefield.
    • "I should be breeding now! I'm not getting any younger!"
  • Rare male example: Ezio Auditore in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
    • Really? He seems to have no trouble getting the ladies. He starts the game setting up a hook-up and beds Caterina Sforza. Also, he sires the next of Desmond's ancestors sometime after AC: BH, at which point, he's in his late forties.
      • On the other hand, with the newly revealed Assassin's Creed: Revelations, we now know he doesn't have said child before at least being fifty. And though he does get ladies and is implied to get more than we see (thinking about a woman in a secondary quest in AC2), he probably doesn't have much time either with his job.
      • Don't forget, too, that he was essentially forced to become a roving love-'em-and-leave-'em playboy. He intended to marry Cristina Vespucci; once that was crushed and he became an Assassin, all he had left were one night stands and politically expedient flings.
  • Lotus from Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors. She's graphically depicted as Ms. Fanservice, in a skimpy outfit with large, shiny assets. But the game's characters complain repeatedly about being forced to look at her "wrinkly grandma boobs". She's actually 40 years old and a divorcee with twin daughters.
  • SoulCalibur V seems to be aware of the phenomenon and is taking all their older females (since the game is set 17 years after the previous game) and replacing them with younger successors. Exceptions are Ivy (Who was 32 in the original games but has stopped aging, making her 49 chronologically), Tira (Who was 17, her height is listen as unknown which could mean she has stopped aging but is chronologically 34) and Hilde (Who was 18 in the original series and is 35 here.)
    • In Ivy's case, she has sworn to celibacy, as taking a husband or lover could cause her to conceive a child would inherit the corruption of Soul Edge from her, a dark fate she does not wish on any other.
  • The above incident is a repeat of what happened between Tekken 2 and 3, which saw a timeskip of a similar length and the removal of Jun Kazama and Michelle Chang. Michelle was immediately replaced with an adopted daughter Julia, while it took until Tekken 5 to replace Jun with her niece, Asuka.
  • In Luminous Arc, the Garden Children talk about Vanessa in this manner, shortly before she starts a Bar Brawl with them...
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has a brief joke alluding to this: Mion quips "You like photography so much, you missed your chance to be married!" to Tomittake, who retorts: "A man becomes more attractive at 30!"
  • Deliberately averted by Gust in Atelier Meruru. Rorona would have been in her 30s in Meruru, but Gust couldn't stand the thought, so they had her take a potion that turned her into an eight year old. A large portion of the fanbase was not pleased.
  • Olivia from Pokémon Sun and Moon is beautiful, rich, kind and generous - it is implied this trope may be the only reason she is single.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the Netflix reboot of Carmen Sandiego, Countess Cleo insists "I'm not a day over 35!", prompting an eye-roll from Tigress. This is an obvious lie, considering Cleo looks much older than 15 in flashback scenes that took place 20 years prior, but for a woman likely in her late-40s-early-50s, Cleo is drop-dead gorgeous.
  1. OK, she was near the lower limit of true Christmas Cakedom when that picture was taken