November 28, 1975:
As the World Turns and The Edge of Night, the final two American soap operas that had resisted going to pre-taped broadcasts, air their last live episodes.
I'm still on the road for the holiday weekend, so I'm just going to do a quick TV-related Tiddlywinkydink for those of you who tune in. Because of that soap opera-related news item, I thought I'd spin off to a topic that probably affected both of those soaps, but one that I've especially noticed on 'The Young & The Restless', the soap my Mom used to watch: SORAS, AKA "rapid aging".
Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (also SORAS or "rapid aging") is the term used to describe the aging of a television character (usually an infant or child, but also sometimes a teenager) that is faster than they should be aging, given the timeline of the show. The process is usually done to allow for more rapid character development, and to allow the writers to develop new storylines for the character.
Although the process originated in and is most common in soap operas, it has also been used in prime time comedy and drama series. In soap operas, it is nearly always done by recasting the role after the character has been absent for a time, with a new actor appearing at the character's newly "SORAS'ed" age. In the case of prime time series, the SORAS procedure usually occurs in between seasons, with a new, older actor appearing when the show returns.
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.
The phenomenon has led to a newer term, de-SORAS, which refers to the opposite effect – when characters remain the same age for an unusually long period of time, or even get younger.
(In the Toobworld novel I'm forever working on, two of my characters were shipped off to a Swiss boarding school and came back several years older.)
There's plenty more to be found on the subject at the Wikipedia page for Soras.