How Old Are The Ninja, Anyway?

Cartoons in general feature characters that don’t age, but in most of them, they’re meant to be a setting where nobody ages. Ninjago, for some reason, doesn’t feel like it has that kind of tone. There have been times when several months, or even a year, has passed between seasons. Therefore, I’m curious as to what the ninjas’ actual ages are.

On a website separate from this one, I heard that one of the writers said that if you have elemental power, then you age slower than a normal human. This explains why the ninja never age during the course of the series. But let’s look at a little more evidence.

First off, Lloyd. When he first showed up, he was probably around 10 or 12. But thanks to the magic tea in Season 2, he aged up to the unspecified age of Kai, Cole, and Jay. What kind of confuses me about him, though, is Harumi. In her backstory flashback, it shows that she was the same age as Lloyd (10-12, if not younger) at the time of the Great Devourer’s rampage. Clearly a good number of years passed between them and Season 8, because by then, Harumi seems to have aged up to…whatever age Lloyd is currently. Based on that, how old were both Harumi and Lloyd?

Second off, the other ninjas. There’s no problem with Zane, as he’s a robot. And I know it was said several times that Nya is younger than Kai.

Third off, the things the ninjas say and do. Once in a while they say that they are teenagers, meaning they could be anywhere between 13 and 19. However, given that they are always driving jets, giant motorcycles, and 4X4 jeeps, they’re probably on the older end of the spectrum. The other major indicator to me is that in Season 10, Jay’s subplot is all about proposing to Nya. Of course, 18 and 19 would still technically be teenages, but the writers also said that what Jay did was supposed to be a promise ring rather than a full-on proposal.

With all this in mind, what do you guys think? How old do you think the ninja are supposed to be?

3 Likes

This is my interpretation, based on context and drawing conclusions:

I think we can track the ages thanks to Lloyd, of all people; like you said, in Rise of the Snakes Lloyd is thought to be around 8 years old, and once he got hit by the tea in Legacy of the Green Ninja, he was aged up to the Ninja’s ages. Since Wu at least trusts them to babysit Lloyd, I’d expect them to be about 13 years old (an age many of my friends, myself included, were allowed to begin babysitting), and Nya was 12 since she’s younger than Kai. Lloyd was physically aged up five years while still being 8 years old.
Flash forward to Sons of Garmadon, which is, our time, six years from LotGN. Assuming that the Ninjago timeline at least loosely follows our time, that would mean Lloyd is around 14 or 15 while biologically 18, while Kai, Jay and Cole are 18-19 and Nya is 17. This means that in SoG, Lloyd would have been older than the Ninja were when they started. Harumi would be 15, which allows for the ‘tall-legs’ since she could have hit her growth spurt.
Furthermore, working under the presumption that March of the Oni takes place very soon after SoG and Hunted, that would mean that Jay and Nya would be around 18 and 17 respectively, which works for the Yin and Yang proposal since they’re too young for marriage but old enough to be thinking about it.

But those are just what I think, based on context clues and a healthy dose of assumption. But, I think it works well enough.

1 Like

Hm. Six years. I was wondering exactly what the time difference between seasons was.

Do remember what I said before, about how the ninjas age slower than normal humans. It could be that they’re biologically a certain age, but by the number of years that have elapsed since their births, they’re older than that.

That’s…pretty much what I figured, too.

Technically it is legal to be married at those ages. 18 is a legal adult, and I’ve heard that if the parents are okay with it, then a minor can be married.

Interesting… I typically assume that, on average, for every two years in our world, one year has passed in Ninjago.
Here’s my thinking:
We can use the SoG redesigns to observe the ninja’s changing biological ages. Of course, there are meta reasons for them (the movie), but I prefer to assume that the ninja’s appearances canonically changed between HoT and SoG due to aging, especially since this is also when Sam Vincent joined and gave Lloyd a lower voice.
Since their appearances do not change so drastically between any other seasons, I infer that the one-year gap between HoT and SoG is the longest in-universe time skip between seasons. Therefore, most of the skips should be at most several months.

2 Likes

We know from Harumi’s speech in Sons of Garmadon that Lloyd is the youngest ninja. Nya is known to be younger than Kai. I see Jay as somewhere between Kai and Nya in age, and I have always viewed Cole as the oldest biological ninja (Ex. he was the original leader, and adopted something of a “big brother” role in early seasons). I assume that Zane was built around the same time as the Serpentine Wars (correct me if I’m wrong).
Because of this, my current and personal age-ranking (from oldest to youngest) is as follows:
Zane: 40-ish?
Cole:20
Kai:19
Jay:18
Nya:17
Lloyd:16

I came up with these ages through consideration of my intuitions of the character’s initial ages paired with my interpretation of the seasonal timeline.

In Rise of the Snakes, which takes place soon after the Pilots, the ninja are in their earlier years. Lloyd is 8-10 years old during this time, so his age doesn’t affect the ranking yet. Nya’s behavior and mannerisms lead me to place her at 14, which means that Jay is 15, Kai is 16, and Cole is 17 for the first season.
In Legacy of the Green Ninja, not much time has passed, and the Ninja’s ages remain the same-- aside from Lloyd, who ages up to be a teenager. While it’s clear to me that he’s a teenager like the other ninja, he is definitely the youngest, which leads me to place him at 13 years old for this season.
Ninjago undergoes so much technological advancement between Legacy and Rebooted that, realistically, decades should have passed-- but evidently this is not the case, and for the purposes of maintaining in-show lore, I assume that about a year has passed. This means that Lloyd is 14, Nya is 15, Jay is 16, Kai is 17, and Cole is 18 during Rebooted.
Between Rebooted and Tournament of Elements, the ninja have had time to mourn Zane and pursue separate lives-- Jay starts up a successful TV show, etc. At least another year has passed to facilitate this-- meaning that for Tournament, Lloyd is 15, Nya is 16, Jay is 17, Kai is 18, and Cole is 19.
Possession, Skybound, Day of the Departed, and Hands of Time seem to occur in rapid succession (with most of Skybound removed from the timeline), and I group these seasons within the same year as Tournament-- meaning that no one ages up in the meantime.
We are told that one year has passed between Hands of Time and Sons of Garmadon (thank you, Cole!), meaning that the ages change again-- Lloyd is 16, Nya is 17, Jay is 18, Kai is 19, and Cole is 20. Seasons Hunted through Prime Empire occur (I think) fairly successively, which leaves me with the current age-ranking listed above.

I am satisfied with this list, because I think it reflects the character progression of the ninja with decent accuracy. It strikes me as unrealistic to place Lloyd as any younger than 16 after the design change (starting with Sons of Garmadon,) and the fact that his new design is based on that of his movie counterpart (who is 16 in canon) validates it for me. While Cole being 20 contradicts the in-show statement that they are all still teenagers as of Hunted, I think it is still close enough to count, and I do not mind that he is the sole outlier. If I need to, I could make Kai and Jay the same age and bring Cole down a year. An obvious flaw in my hypothesis is the fact that a few more in-story years will age most of the Ninja out of their teens, but this problem will come up eventually regardless of which ages you prefer.
This list is entirely my own opinion. Does anyone have suggestions as to its improvement?

3 Likes

I agree with your list of ages, but there are two alterations that I would suggest to your timeline.

I don’t think this needs to be a full year - perhaps 4 to 8 months.

There are two significant time gaps between these seasons. Between Hunted and MotO, the entire Monastery of Spinjitzu is rebuilt. Additionally, Wu declares in “Wasted True Potential” that “months” passed between MotO and SotFS.

On the whole though, I think that these two discrepancies (the former being a shorter break than you suggest, and the latter being longer) likely even out.

1 Like