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Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS) is a term used to describe 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.[1][2] Children unseen on screen for a time might reappear portrayed by an actor several years older than the original.[3] Usually coinciding with a recast, this rapid aging is typically done to open up the character to a wider range of storylines, and to attract younger viewers.[1] The process originated in (and is most commonly used in) daytime soap operas,[4] but has been used in prime time series as well.[5] 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 series in which a character ages rapidly due to technology, magic, or non-human biology.

Coined by Soap Opera Weekly founding editor-in-chief Mimi Torchin in the early days of the magazine,[6] the term is now widely used in the soap opera media.[7] Torchin has jokingly called it "my one greatest contribution to the world of soap operas."[6]


The practice of "rapidly aging" characters dates back to the early years of television soap opera.[8] Born onscreen on As the World Turns in 1961, by 1970 the character Tom Hughes had been to college and fought in the Vietnam War.[2][8] Subsequent recasting kept the him in his 30s for 20 years, with Tom hitting his 40s in the 1990s.[8] Dan Stewart, born onscreen on As the World Turns in 1958, reappeared as a 26-year-old doctor in 1966.[9]

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.[10][11] 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.[10][11] 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.[11]

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 the recasting of Ashley Johnson.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Clayton-Millar, Kim (April 24, 2006). "Soaps' rising stars". Tonight. Independent News & Media. Retrieved December 12, 2009-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:Cite thesis
  3. Bird, S. Elizabeth (2003). The Audience in Everyday Life: Living in a Media World. New York: Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 0415942594. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  4. 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.'" 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bloom, Ken; Vlastnik, Frank (2007). Sitcoms: The 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. p. 149. ISBN 9781579127527. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Template:Cite video
  7. Template:Cite journal
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Lenhart, Jennifer. "As the World Turns Features: They Grow Up So Fast!". Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  9. "About ATWT - Who's Who: Dan Stewart". Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Waggett, Gerard J. (November 1997). "All My Children". The Soap Opera Encyclopedia. Harper Paperbacks. pp. 3-24. ISBN 0-06-101157-6. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Hayward, Jennifer (November 6, 1997). Consuming Pleasures: Active Audiences and Serial Fictions from Dickens to Soap Opera. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 173. ISBN 081312025X. Retrieved July 24, 2009.