Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome
Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS) is the practice of accelerating the age of a television character (usually a child or teenager) in conflict with the timeline of a series and/or the real-world progression of time. Characters unseen on screen for a time might reappear portrayed by an actor several years older than the original. Usually coinciding with a recast, rapid aging is typically done to open up the character to a wider range of storylines, and to attract younger viewers. The process originated in (and is most commonly used in) daytime soap operas, but is also often used in prime time shows. SORAS generally refers to cases in which a character's rapid aging happens off-screen without any explanation, rather than to storylines in science fiction and fantasy in which a character ages rapidly due to technology, magic, or non-human biology. At least one whimsical effort has been made to describe the SORAS effect as time dilation due to "soap opera physics".
Coined by Soap Opera Weekly founding editor-in-chief Mimi Torchin in the early days of the magazine, the term is now widely used in the soap opera media. Torchin has jokingly called it "my one greatest contribution to the world of soap operas."
The practice of rapidly aging characters dates back to the early years of television soap opera. In As the World Turns, Tom Hughes was born on screen in 1961. By 1970 he had been to college and fought in the Vietnam War. Subsequent recasting exhibited a reverse phenomenon, keeping him in his 30s for 20 years, with Tom hitting his 40s in the 1990s. Dan Stewart, born onscreen on As the World Turns in 1958, reappeared as a 26-year-old doctor in 1966.
On the situation comedy Growing Pains, Chrissy Seaver was born on the show in late 1988. She remained a toddler for the remainder of that season and the season after, but in 1990 the character was aged to five with role being recast with Ashley Johnson. On The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Nicky Banks was born toward the end of the third season in February 1993. By the fifth season premiere in September 1995, Nicky had rapidly aged to a preschooler.
A 1993 secret history storyline on All My Children established that lead character Erica Kane had been raped immediately prior to the series' 1970 debut. In this retcon, Erica represses all memory of the rape until 16-year-old Kendall Hart, a child produced by it and put up for adoption, appears in 1993. Viewer reaction to the discrepancy created by Erica having a 16-year-old daughter as the product of a 24-year-old rape prompted the series to immediately adjust Kendall's age to 23.
On CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, we first meet Catherine Willows' daughter, Lindsey Willows, in the Pilot episode, where she is 6 years old - she has her 7th birthday a few episodes later in 'Crate 'N Burial'. However, in a Season 5 episode, Homebodies, 4 years later - Lindsay is 13, and hitch-hiking, and talking about stripping. In the 7th season they replace the actress who plays Lindsey with an older actress, who, in the 2-part season opener, Built to Kill, is apparently 15. By the 12th season starting in 2011, Lindsey should in theory be 18 - despite the fact that she was shown to be 15 six years ago.
Another soap where SORAS is a common condition is Neighbours. In 2001, newlyweds Libby Kennedy and Drew Kirk give birth to son Ben. Ben later returns in 2007 as an 8 year old. The primary reason for this was because another child actor playing the part of Micky, aged 11 at the time, had a younger brother who they also wanted to cast in the show - alongside this, it was much easier for the writers to write storylines for an 8 year old boy than a 6 year old boy - now, when referenced, the show states than Ben's D.O.B is 1999. Although most commonly used when a character is recast, the show featured a notable instance of a character being "aged" without a change of actor. When the character of Hannah Martin departed in 1999, she was said to be 15, despite having been just six when introduced in 1992 (and her parents meeting for the first time in 1985 in an earlier storyline). 
See also 
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- Ford, Samuel Earl (2007). As the World Turns in a Convergence Culture (M.S. thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/39223/166228334.pdf. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
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- Pennington, Gail (October 15, 2008). "Now or when? Tricks of time keep TV shows hopping". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved December 12, 2009. "On daytime soaps, children often jump ahead in age, suffering from SORAS -- 'soap opera rapid-aging syndrome.'"
- Bloom, Ken; Vlastnik, Frank (2007). Sitcoms: The 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-57912-752-7. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
- "Kent Pitman's Theory of RelativeTV". Another Way Out.
- Daytime Confidential #244: Mimi Torchin Interview. DaytimeConfidential.com. May 23, 2008. Event occurs at 26:54. http://daytimeconfidential.com/2008/05/23/daytime-confidential-244-mimi-torchin-interview. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- Baym, Nancy K. (September 1995). "The Performance of Humor in Computer-Mediated Communication". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 1 (2). ISSN 1083-6101. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
- Lenhart, Jennifer. "As the World Turns Features: They Grow Up So Fast!". SoapOperaDigest.com. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- "About ATWT - Who's Who: Dan Stewart". SoapCentral.com. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- Waggett, Gerard J. (November 1997). "All My Children". The Soap Opera Encyclopedia. Harper Paperbacks. pp. 3–24. ISBN 0-06-101157-6.
- Hayward, Jennifer (November 6, 1997). Consuming Pleasures: Active Audiences and Serial Fictions from Dickens to Soap Opera. University Press of Kentucky. p. 173. ISBN 0-8131-2025-X. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
- "Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome - Definition". wordiq.com.