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Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (also SORAS or rapid aging) is accelerating the age of a television character (usually a child or teenager) given the timeline of the show. This may be done to open up the character to a wider range of storylines.

The process originated in and remains most common in soap operas. It has also been used in prime time comedy and drama series. In soap operas it is frequently done by recasting the role after the character has been absent for a time, with a new actor appearing at the character's new age. In the case of prime time series the change usually occurs between seasons with the older actor debuting when the show resumes.

The term was coined by Soap Opera Weekly founding editor in chief Mimi Torchin in the early 1990s. It's generally used to refer to cases where a character's rapid aging happens off-screen without any explanation, rather than to storylines in science fiction and fantasy series where a character is shown as being rapidly aged due to technology, magic or non-human biology.


In the early days of the soap opera it was not uncommon to age a character right into his or her 20s. The character of Tom Hughes on As the World Turns was a preteen one day, and the next he was shipped off to Vietnam.

Since the 1980s as soap operas have increasingly focused on teenager characters to attract the lucrative teen audience, it has become most common to age a character into their mid teens. For example eight-year-old Sami Brady on Days of our Lives was aged to a 15-year-old when she was reintroduced in early 1993 (played by 16-year-old Alison Sweeney).

United States examples

Soap operas

  • On As the World Turns, Dan Stewart who was born on-screen in 1958, returned from medical school in 1966 played by John Colenback who was in his mid twenties. Chronologically Dan should have been 8-years old. Colenback was about the same age as his screen mother Ellen played (Patricia Bruder).

  • On One Life to Live, Rex Balsom was introduced in 2002 as a 17-year-old high school senior. By early 2006, he was aged to a 26-year-old so that his character could be a potential candidate in the storyline involving Dr. Paige Miller and the search for her long lost son, whom she had given up 26 years prior.

Prominent exceptions

Some characters on soap operas have aged from children to adults in real time.

  • Tad Martin of All My Children was introduced in 1973 as a ten-year-old orphan, and today (despite two casting changes), he is written as being in his early-to-mid 40s.

Prime time

The phenomenon of SORAS in prime time has been most common in television sitcoms, which have far shorter timelines than soap operas. The rapid aging in sitcoms is usually done from infant age to kindergarten age, as many sitcom writers feel they will have exhausted baby related storylines in the course of one season.

  • Family Ties: Andrew Keaton was born on-screen in January 1985. He remained a baby until the 1986-87 season when Brian Bonsall took the role and Andrew suddenly became four years old.

  • Growing Pains: Chrissy Seaver was born on the show in late 1988. Chrissy remained a toddler for the remainder of that season and the season after. In 1990 Chrissy was aged to five and the twins who played her (Kirsten and Kelsey Dohring) were replaced with Ashley Johnson.

  • The OC: In the first season Marissa had a briefly glimpsed 10-year-old sister. The sister was off-screen but referenced in the second season, then returned in the third season aged fifteen and now played by Willa Holland.

United Kingdom

SORAS was traditionally not widely utilized on Britishmarker soaps.

It did occur with Ian Beale on EastEnders. Ian gained an extra year so that his character would be more mature in a plot involving his discovery that his wife was cheating on him and that his child was not his. Ian was born in 1970 and celebrated his 18th birthday in 1988. This was subsequently changed to 1969 and he celebrated his 21st in 1990. Also on EastEnders, Cassie Carpenter was referred to as 7 years old by her brother, Kelvin, but was later rewritten to be 11 years old.

In Coronation Streetmarker the character of Mark Redman was aged by two years so he could attend the school where his father Mike Baldwin's enemy Ken Barlow taught.

In Hollyoaks, Kathy Barnes was in 2005 said to have been born in 1973. She celebrated her 40th birthday in 2006.

Josh and Carly Hope in Emmerdalemarker were first seen as a baby and young girl, respectively, in 2001. When seen again in 2006 Josh was older than Carly and both were teenagers.

On Casualty, Louis Fairhead aged from around 11 to around 16 in just under a year from 2006 to 2007.


The two Australian soaps to have run longer than a decade have occasionally changed the age of characters for storyline purposes, usually by one or two years.

In Home and Away Duncan Stewart was aged by six years to twelve during a hospital stay of several months. In 2005 Duncan's niece Martha (who was a year older than Duncan) returned to the show. She too was aged. Born in 1988, she returned as an 18 year old in early 2005.

On Neighbours, Hannah Martin was aged eight on her arrival in 1992, but was 14 by 1996. Her parents Philip and Julie had left the series in 1985 shortly after becoming a couple.

2005 saw the debut of triplets Elle, Robert and Cameron Robinson on Neighbours at age 19 years old. Their mother Gail had left the show pregnant with them in 1989, so they would have been 16 years old in real time.

On Neighbours, Jack Scully's age was moved a few years downwards (and the character revised from an FA Premier League footballer playing for fictional "Barnsford FC" to a talented schoolboy soccer player) when the character was recast from Paul Pantano to Jay Ryan in 2002.

Other places

In the Canadian series Degrassi Junior High, Spike Nelson gave birth to Emma Nelson between the second and third seasons. By Degrassi High, Emma also rapidly aged into a toddler. By Degrassi: The Next Generation, the rapid aging seemed not to have happened.

In the Finnishmarker soap opera Salatut elämät in 1999 the 10 year old Sauli Kiviranta was introduced. Two years later he was recast with an adult actor. Babies born in 2001-2003, Sofia Salin, Oona Kiviranta and Niko Vainio, are teenagers in 2007.

In the Dutchmarker soap Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden eight year old Nina Sanders went to a clinic after surviving a kidnapping and a fire. A year later she returned as a sixteen-year-old. Her younger brother Lucas, who was born in 2000, was aged to 15 years in 2005. Jack van Houten was born on-screen in 1992. He left, then returned in 2005 as a 27-year-old businessman.

In the New Zealandmarker soap opera Shortland Street, Tuesday Warner was born onscreen in 1995. She returned in 2007, aged 14.


Soap operas

Sometimes a character is made younger. When All My Children began in 1970 Erica Kane's date of birth was said to be 1954. In 1993 it was changed to 1956. In 2002 it was changed to 1962. Erica's portrayer Susan Lucci was born in 1946.

  • From the 1970s through the 1990s, the character Mike Horton on Days of our Lives repeatedly returned to the show as a young man in his twenties. Even though he was born on the show in 1968, and had been rapidly aged in the 1970s, he and Carrie Brady (introduced as a child in the '80s) later supposedly grew up together as children.

  • On The Bold and the Beautiful in 2004 twins Phoebe and Steffy Forrester were aged to fourteen, played by Chandler and Jordan Mella. Several months later Keaton and Kylie Tyndall took the parts and the twins were pre-teen age. In 2005 the actors were replaced by Addison and Alex Hoover, and the characters aged to approximately fourteen again. Almost a year and a half later, the characters were written out. Phoebe returned three months later, now played by 18-year-old Mackenzie Mauzy. Phoebe was aged to 20 years old before being killed off.

  • In 2002 General Hospitals Maxie Jones was aged from a 15-year-old (played by Robyn Richards) to being in her early twenties (played by 19-year-old Danica Stewart). The change was unpopular and criticized by fans and press, due to dislike of the new actress and because Richards had portrayed Maxie since childhood and through a memorable heart transplant storyline. The producers re-hired Richards the following summer and restored the character's original age. Later, the role was recast and aged in the spring of 2005 when 21-year-old Kirsten Storms was cast to portray an older, more troubled Maxie.

Prime Time

  • In the prime-time soap Beverly Hills 90210, the characters were juniors in high school at the time of the show's debut, but were still in high school in the third season. The characters are specifically stated to be juniors in both the first and second seasons.

  • Prime-time soap Knots Landing halted the clock on one character: Jason Avery, son of Laura and Richard Avery. Originally played by Justin Dana, Jason began as contemporary of Olivia Cunningham (played by Tonya Crowe). Recast with a succession of younger actors, Jason remained a child as Olivia grew into her teens and adulthood.


  1. Post by "Daniel R. Coleridge" in the comments under "Is the Evil Sheila Returning to Young and the Restless?" at (note: as of the comments may take several minutes to load after the article)
  2. SORAS at The TV Tropes Wiki, as retrieved on February 9, 2008: "SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) is...different from Plot Relevant Age Up in that the latter is at least explained via magic or Applied Phlebotinum, or the transformation is actually shown on-screen."

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