It’s All Geek to Me: SORAS & PRAU

Whether we’re talking Boom Tubes or retcons, there’s plenty of jargon in our geekcentric little world. The PoP! Stars are here to ensure you’re not left scratching your head, saying “It’s All Geek to Me.

James Gordon Jr., as seen in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

SORAS or Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome – n. When a character, usually a baby or a young child, ages without explanation between installments. “Either life in Gotham City forces you to grow up fast or he’s suffering from SORAS.”

Babies are great storytelling devices in fiction. But when it’s live action, and takes place over a drawn out amount of time, sometimes they can be more of a hindrance. They usually offer little in the way of exciting plots except for being kidnapped, and that can be achieved with an older actor who can actually, you know, act. That’s where writers usually invoke SORAS aka Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. One episode a character is an infant, then next time they’re miraculously older, with none of the other characters noticing a change and acting naturally. SORAS, obviously, got it’s name from daytime soap operas, where children routinely disappear and emerge soon after as teenagers, ready for their own love triangles. But SORAS isn’t limited to the soaps, oh no. Look at Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight franchise. In Batman Begins James Gordan Jr., is still in a highchair. By the time of The Dark Knight, where supposedly six months have passed, he’s now around 7 or 8 years old. It’s obviously done so that father and son can have a deeper bond in the film, but it is a tad distracting. Who knows, maybe in The Dark Knight Rises he’ll be in high school. Occasionally SORAS is played for laughs as well. In the episode of Futurama in which Bender joins the cast of the soap All My Circuits, he plays Antonio Calculon Jr., who earlier in the episode was portrayed by a child actor, contracting SORAS while his father was in a coma. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air poked fun at SORAS as well after baby Nicky came down with a case, amusing Will and freaking out Jazz. (“Man, I’m going back to the streets where things make sense!”)

Sometimes, the viewers and the characters are aware of rapid aging, changing it from SORAS into…

Angel's son Connor after some time in another dimension.

PRAU or Plot-Relevant Age-Up – n. When a character is rapidly aged as part of the story. “I wonder if Cable & Hope ever bonded over their shared PARU experiences?”

While SORAS happens off-screen and is usually ignored by other characters, PRAU, aka Plot-Relevant Age-Up, is intentionally part of the narrative. While the end goal of expanding storytelling possibilities is the same as SORAS, PRAUs have the added bonus of letting the characters angst about the change. Comics use PRAUs quite a bit, since they easier fit within their sliding timelines. Perhaps the medium’s most famous PRAU happened to Cable/Nathan Summers, son of Cyclops and Jean Grey. (And Madelyn Pryor; as usual with the X-Men, it’s complicated.) He was sent into the future as a baby and returned older than his parents. Heck, he even came back to a time before he left as a baby, and they appeared together in at least one issue! He later took the mutant baby girl Hope into the future to raise, returning with her as a teen and him even older. PARUs are all over the place in comics, affecting such characters as Magik, Bart Allen, Layla Miller, Sin, and more. Loki, always one to do things his own way, actually underwent a Plot-Relevant Age-Down (PRAD?), becoming a child. And lest you think PRAUs are only contained to comics, I refer you to the above picture of Connor from Angel. The titular vampire’s son, he was abducted by one of his fathers enemies as a baby and raised in an alternate hell-dimension where time passes faster as compared to ours, emerging a month or so after he was taken as a teenager. On The Simpsons, Apu’s octuplets have aged to about a year old, while other characters remained the same.

That’s only scratching the surface when it comes to SORAS and PRAUs. Feel free to share some of your favorite, or most hated, instances below.

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Who ARE these people!?

As one of the co-founders of Panels on Pages, Robert Eddleman will happily read any comic that catches his interest, regardless of publisher. Aside from comics and PoP!, his other passions include worshipping Joss Whedon, getting lost in TV Tropes, and watching muscled men hit each other with folding chairs.

Comments (2)

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  1. Tito Cruz says:

    Cool breakdown. I didn’t know these things had names lol

  2. Same here. I just called them “Janked up aging crap”

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