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A trope used when a character undergoes aging. It can range anywhere from a matter of seconds to a matter of weeks.

Sometimes as a result of using evil (or sometimes merely questionable) means to preserve youth, or from an encounter with a dark force that causes immediate aging and deterioration, usually resulting in death soon after. This is also a rare but definitely possible result of leaving a Year Outside, Hour Inside setting. Frequently caused by a villain's own mistake or overreaching. Sometimes it happens to the good guys, in which case their comrades must Find the Cure before it's too late.

If someone was using a Fountain of Youth that was destroyed, expect this to happen as they immediately become whatever age they should be. Not to be confused with Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, a tragic affliction that affects hundreds of characters a year, especially in Soap Operas, usually so as to avoid the hassle of children in the cast or in the plot. Contrast We Are as Mayflies or Time Abyss. Usually a result of Cast From Lifespan.

Examples of Rapid Aging include:


Anime and Manga

  • One female Contractor in Darker Than Black, whose power is to assume any human appearance, must as the price of using her power age faster than normal.
    • Inverted with Amber, who appears to grow younger the more she uses her time-based powers.
  • In Rave Master, a Child Mage does this to himself via a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to increase his magical power to fight against one of the most powerful villains in the series. It works, but he becomes an old man and dies.
  • Happens to an unfortunate boy in an early chapter of Rosario to Vampire, after he is bitten by the mermaids and has his life energy sucked out.
  • Halcyform, a wizard who made a deal with Seigram for immortality, suffered this in Slayers when Gourry manages to destroy the Pledge Stone that kept Halcyform immortal. Before he could age completely, he blows up himself, his dead lover, and his mansion to bits.
  • Wrath suffers one of these after he dies in Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • In Bleach this is the core of Baraggan's power. Even in his unreleased state his touch can age his target enough to make their bones snap like twigs. When he unleashes his full power, anything that fails to get out of the way crumbles to dust in a matter of seconds.
  • Cowboy Bebop episode #6. At the end, the villain Wen is shot with a crystal that contains the energy that prevented him from aging. This neutralizes the effect and he quickly becomes his true age.
  • This happens in No. 6 whenever a bee hatches from the unfortunate victim. They age rapidly and die after looking in horror at their old, wrinkled features.
  • In chapter 650 of One Piece, this happens to Hody Jones and his crew after the side effects of using E.S.S. take hold.
  • In the Trigun manga, this is Wolfwood's base state; the experimental treatments that give him a Healing Factor and abnormal strength and reflexes also cause him to age at an accelerated rate, so that when we take him for thirtyish he's actually in his late teens...and given when the treatments were administered, this means he's aged over fifteen years in the last five. Slower than most of these, but quite irreversible.
    • Yet another way in which he serves as a Foil to Vash.


Comic Books

  • Extant in Zero Hour: Crisis In Time used his powers to age most of the Justice Society members to their proper physical ages, some even to their deaths.
  • Xerek is a victim of this in The Incredibles
  • Happens several times in Thorgal - once through No Ontological Inertia, once through Reality Warping by the villain and once when a Timey-Wimey Ball (which allowed the villains to drink the same potion of youth over and over) gets broken. Most of the time the effects are utterly horrifying.
  • The 1945 Marvel Family #1 (the first team-up of all the Marvels) featured the origin story of Black Adam. He originally gained his powers from the wizard Shazam 5,000 years ago. After he gained his superpowers he decided to conquer the world and Shazam sent him into outer space 5,000 light years away. Black Adam spent the next 5,000 years traveling back to Earth at the speed of light, arriving in modern times. The Marvels tricked him into saying the word "Shazam", which changed him back into his non-powered form. Unfortunately for him his accumulated age caught up to him and he aged rapidly, turning into a skeleton.


Films -- Animated


Films -- Live-Action

  • The villainess in The Hugga Bunch 1985 Made for TV Movie ages and dies in a matter of seconds when access to the "Young-Berry" tree is cut off. Aesop: You can't hold off death forever.
  • This is the punishment for drinking from the wrong grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. "He chose... poorly."
  • The curse placed on Kassandra by the title villain of Warlock causes her to age twenty years each night. Since she was about twenty years old already, this gives her and the warlock-hunting hero only three or four days to find and defeat the Warlock before she dies of old age.
  • Spock goes through this in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, as a consequence of being resurrected by the Genesis planet. His aging stops when he looks like Leonard Nimoy again, though, thankfully.
  • In The Hunger, this is the fate of any human who is turned into a vampire by the immortal Miriam. Upon being turned, their bodies and beauty are unravaged by time so long as they feed once a week and get enough sleep, but once about 300 years have passed, the decay sets in no matter what they do to stave it off -- and worse, they can't die. For her current lover John, it takes just two hours for him to age fifty years, and it just goes on from there...
  • The movie Jack starring Robin Williams as a 10-year-old boy who has a disease causing him to age four times the normal human rate.
  • In the 1989 sequel to The Fly, a Half-Human Hybrid protagonist is a fully mature man at age of 5. He also has no need to sleep. And then he hatches. It Gets Better.
  • In Bad Girls from Valley High, the three Alpha Bitch Villain Protagonists suffer Rapid Aging. They believe that it's a curse wrought upon them by the ghost of a girl they murdered a year ago. It turns out the girl's grandmother did it using chocolates laced with a biological weapon. The Token Good Teammate who regretted the deed is the only one who avoids aging to death since she only ate two of the chocolates.
  • The Syfy (still Sci Fi at that time) film Do Or Die featured a world where a percentage of the population had RAD or Rapid Aging Disease. It could be controlled and slowed with the drug Anzinol, and the 'clean' area infiltrators used Anzinol pumps. If a pump was destroyed, though, aging happened in seconds.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This happens to Dorian Gray after his portrait is destroyed.


Literature

  • Double-subverted in The Picture of Dorian Gray. At first, Dorian's portrait does all the aging for him, letting him live his life as a gallivanting charmer - but when he can't take the portrait's honesty anymore, he stabs it, which causes him to age instantaneously to his true age: a decrepit, hideous old man. And he dies.
  • Babylon Babies, a Cyberpunk novel by Maurice Dantec. A woman is secretly infected with a viral weapon that kills by attacking the genes that control the 'cellular clock'; within minutes hundreds are killed as their internal organs die of old age.
  • In Lord of the Rings, Bilbo didn't age at all between finding the One Ring at the age of 51 and giving it up at the age of 111. Over the course of the roughly 20 years between that point and the start of Frodo's quest, he ages to the point he should be at that time. It is believed that this would happen to all Ring-Bearers after the One Ring is destroyed, but it is never really proven, as apart from the Nazgul all the Ring-Bearers still living when the One Ring is destroyed are either immortal or haven't held their Ring long enough for it to make a noticeable difference to their apparent age (With Hobbits becoming legal adults at 33, jumping to 52 would not be a significant age gap. The Nazgul jumping from various ages to 3,000 would explain why they all disappeared with their master).
    • Actually Bilbo doesn't age until the Ring is destroyed. After he's passed it on to Frodo, he remains as he was when he parted with it, and may stay that way indefinitely (even Gandalf seems not to know for sure); after its destruction he becomes, in Galadriel's words, "ancient now, according to his kind".
  • It is implied in Lost Horizon that this happens to Lo-Tsen.
  • Margaret Haddix's novel Turnabout had a scene of this. The protagonists are given an a drug to reverse the aging process and then a second was to have stopped it altogether at a given age. But, the second drug caused those who took it to age in die in seconds.
  • A man uses the power of a demon to do this to Wesley in the Angel short story collection "The Longest Night". He'd been stealing victims' years at first, and then when Wes comes to investigate, his years are tranferred into the man's son, who rapidly ages and then de-ages, returning Wesley to his young state, once Angel arrives and breaks the spell.
  • In No. 6 this is the fate of the hosts of mutated parasitic wasps.
  • The Dresden Files: In Changes, The entire Red Court is wiped out by a ritual. Those who were only half Red Court were cured... but time also caught up to them. Most of them aged and died immediately, but some hadn't been infected for long, and survived.
  • At the end of the first Mistborn book, this happens to the Lord Ruler after his Immortality Inducers are removed, causing him to age a thousand years in a matter of seconds. The heroine puts him out of his misery.


Live-Action TV

  • This happens in Heroes to Adam Monroe when Arthur Petrelli steals his ability.
  • An organism created by a scientist in MacGyver causes plants and animals to rapidly age. This isn't so bad for plants, since it just brings them to maturity faster, but isn't so good for animals since they die of old age in a few minutes.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill is rapidly (although artificially, and therefore reversibly) aged by nanobots.
  • This happens to anyone the wraith feed on in Stargate Atlantis.
  • In Doctor Who, the Master uses his laser screwdriver to do this to the Doctor.
  • In an episode of Star Trek:The Next Generation, Deanna Troi starts to age rapidly, and grow violently paranoid, when she's unknowingly used by a villain as a psychic receptacle of negative emotion. When the effect is turned back on the villain, he shrivels up and dies within a few seconds.
    • Before that, in TOS, there's an episode called "The Deadly Years" in which several of the crew come down with a form of radiation poisoning that causes them to age rapidly. TNG recycled that script in an early episode that had Pulaski aging rapidly due to an accident at a genetic research station.
    • Also recycled in the fan-created Star Trek New Voyages episode "To Serve All My Days", though most of the episode turned out to be All Just a Dream.
  • Half of the premise of the Canadian show 2030CE was that the world was afflicted with Progressive Aging Syndrome, a disease that causes aging to accelerate exponentially as one approaches their 30th birthday, where they typically don't live much longer than that.
  • Twilight Zone TOS
    • "Long Live Walter Jameson". The title character has lived hundreds of years due to an alchemical potion. When he's mortally wounded the potion effect wears off.
    • "Queen of the Nile". A woman uses a magical scarab beetle to drain the youth of men and give it to herself. As a result the men age rapidly and die.
  • In the Warehouse 13 episode "Age Before Beauty," the Artifact of the Week induces Rapid Aging on fashion models, forcing Pete and Myka to go undercover in the industry.
  • An episode of Eureka had Fargo's grandfather awaken from cyro-freeze and then at the end of the episode underwent Rapid Aging as his body suddenly tried to catch up. It was implied that this would eventually lead to his death if not stopped. They did manage to stop, but not reverse the process.
  • One Monster of the Week on Kamen Rider Double had the ability to cause rapid aging, resulting in Shotaro getting a few scenes as a Badass Grandpa
  • Liam Kincaid grows from a baby to 30-some man in less than a day. Given that his father (one of them) is an Energy Being, it is possible this was intentional. Liam is also perfectly mature, although certain social facts (such as why women laugh when talking about sex) don't make sense to him.
  • The Outer Limits TOS episode "The Guests". Several people have been trapped for decades in a house without aging. If they leave the house they will quickly age until they are at their true age, and die.
  • Power Rangers Zeo: Billy ends up suffering from this as a delayed side-effect of the regenerator he used to restore himself to his teens in the previous season. He has to go to Aquitar for doses of water from their Fountain of Youth so that he doesn't die.
  • Painkiller Jane: In the series, one Monster of the Week was a woman who would drain the youth from others to maintain her own.
  • Kolchak the Night Stalker episode "The Youth Killer". A woman makes a bargain with the goddess Hecate. She sacrifices young, perfect people by magically causing them to age rapidly until they die of old age, and in return Hecate grants her eternal youth.
  • Merlin has a magical version, with Merlin casting a spell on himself that transforms him into his 80year old self, known to everyone else as 'Dragoon'.
  • Supernatural season five episode 'The Curious Case of Dean Winchester' featured an affable Irish witch named Patrick who was the legendary gambler who plays cards for years. He doesn't always win, but he wins enough to have kept himself young and dapper for centuries, leaving prematurely aged corpses when people bet too high. Bobby Singer tracks him down and plays him in hopes of de-aging enough to fix his spinal injury and get out of the wheelchair, but loses twenty-five years. Dean tries to help him and loses fifty, whereupon they switched actors and Dean for some reason developed a Great Depression-era accent.
    • Sam wins it all back, although the syphilis he got for annoying Patrick had to be treated in the normal medical fashion. Notably, Patrick is one of the foes they don't begin to defeat, although in his case it's not because they couldn't contrive to, say shoot him in the face with a little stealth, but because they failed the first few times and any further attempts would feel like bad sportsmanship. Being Affably Evil can be useful.
    • His girlfriend is apparently only about a hundred and twenty; and gets Patrick to beat her at poker and let her die because she had to watch her daughter reach a great age and die and has decided Who Wants to Live Forever?. Presumably said daughter declined Patrick's years, since he'd clearly have given them quite willingly.


Music

  • The music video to Stone Sour's "Bother" features two copies of the singer Corey Taylor, one of them ages rapidly and disappears.


Mythology

  • A Japanese legend concerns a fisherman named Urashima Taro who visited the undersea Palace of the Dragon God. Before he left to return to the surface world, he was given a box and told not to open it. When he got back to his home village he learned 300 years had passed while he was gone. In his despair he forgot the warning, opened the box, immediately become his true age and died.


Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons. In early editions the Longevity potion reduced the drinker's age by 1-10 years. However, each time one was drunk there was a 1% cumulative chance that the effect of all previous potions would be reversed. If a 100 year old human had drunk many such potions and was effectively 50 years old when this occurred, they would suddenly become 150 years old and die immediately of old age.
  • Little Fears. A child that comes into physical contact with a ghost ages at a rate of 1 year per 10 seconds of contact.
  • Ghouls in Vampire: The Masquerade stave off aging as long as they regularly receive blood from a vampire. If they go without a certain period of time without drinking vampire blood (which grows shorter as they grow older), they're hit with this trope. Not so bad if they rapidly age from 20 to 30 in one go, but obviously fatal for those that are well older than a human lifespan.


Toys

  • Bionicle: During a clash with Makuta Teridax, the Shadow One received a blow that sent him flying at the unconscious body of his already felled underling, Voporak. Said underling was protected by a force field that rapidly aged anything that touched it, thus the Shadowed One grew 3000 years older in a matter of seconds. Longer exposure would have turned him to dust, which is the fate Makuta's distraction army received earlier.


Videogames

  • In Romancing SaGa 3 Black was cursed by the clone of the Devil Lord Forneus and lost his youth, however defeating Forneus' clone with Black in your party reverts him back to his original self
  • In Trauma Center Under The Knife 2, this is the fate of villain Reina Mayuzumi, who was using the Alethia strain of GUILT to preserve her youthful looks. The player discovers this right before the final operation, when Mercer decides to inject her with something else in hopes of learning how to cure his wife. It immediately drains Mayuzumi's body into that of an old woman, as well as causing the GUILT to rampage through her body. Notably, the player saves her life...but not her looks.
  • Happens to Quercas Alba when he is finally outdone in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth.
  • Old Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4.
  • Singularity has the TMD, which can age a living person forward until they turn to dust. Turning the clock backwards, however, has different results...
  • Kingdom Hearts has indicated that Rapid Aging is one of the side effects of prolonged exposure to the darkness, along with Eyes of Gold and hair lightening or becoming white. This is most prominent in Birth By Sleep, where Master Xehanort's ongoing experiments with darkness have clearly aged him beyond his Badass Grandpa peer Master Eraqus, to the point Xehanort fears he doesn't have much life left in him. To circumvent this and live long enough to survive the second Keyblade War he intends to kick off, Master Xehanort casts off his withered body and pulls a Grand Theft Me on Terra, creating the younger Xehanort that would go on to antagonize Sora and Riku.
  • As a result of their powers, Sera from Digital Devil Saga has the body of a teenager when she's actually 12 years old.
  • This is the putty Blizzard uses to fill certain Plot Holes in the Warcraft series. Khadgar the archmage was just turning grey for his character portrait in Warcraft II but looked fairly robust and red-haired for the ending cinematic in the same game, while World of Warcraft depicted him as the stereotypical white-bearded wizard - so it was retconned that he was magically aged during a sorcerous duel. Garona Halforcen was originally introduced as half-human, half-orc, the result of the protracted war between the two races over the course of the original Warcraft. The conflict was drastically shortened in later revisions of the history, so Garona was explained to be the result of forced mating between orcs and draenei, magically-aged and brainwashed to serve as an advance scout.


Western Animation

  • Ben 10 Alien Force: Happens to Kevin in the episode "Paradox".
  • Zarm inflicts this on Gaia in Captain Planet, and would continue to age until she literally becomes dust. She gets restored later.
  • The Kids Next Door frequently come up against technology that can rapidly age them into adults.
  • In Futurama, everyone had to use the Fountain of Aging to counteract the effects of an anti-aging spa incident and the Professor's botched attempt to reverse it. There's a point where everyone thinks Zoidberg dies but he had just reached the age where his twin brother budded off from him.
  • Nanosec's speed suit in Transformers Animated, when used too much, also caused him to age quickly. In order to finally catch him and keep the city from exploding, Bumblebee ran him into old age. Fortunately, his new partner and possibly love interest Slo-Mo was able to de-age him with her time altering powers and it's assumed that when she's around the suit's effects are temporary at best.
  • Near the end of Disney's Hercules, Hercules jumps into the River Styx to get Meg's soul back, and being a river that only dead people are supposed to be in, it rapidly ages Hercules as he swims through it in a manner that could easily be Nightmare Fuel. However, this selfless act is what causes Hercules to become a true hero and god, so he is unable to be killed when the Fates try to cut his life string, and he emerges from the River with his body back to its usual appearance.
  • Spectra in Danny Phantom rapidly ages when Jazz uses an anti-ghost weapon against her. Since her youth came from absorbing negative emotions from her students, the weapon literally peels off her layers of youth to reveal a shriveled old lady underneath it all.
  • Monty in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers suffered this thanks to being zapped by a prune powered aging machine.
  • Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes has Nick Fury have some of his life force taken, aging him from looking like Samuel L. Jackson to looking like his comic counterpart with darker skin. It looks like it's going to stick, at least for the time being.
  • This happens in Tangled when Flynn cuts Rapunzel's hair, thus losing its magic power. Since the source for keeping Mother Gothel young is gone, she ages to the point where she becomes a pile of dust in less than a minute. Her fall serves as Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Implied in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Kids Stuff", where Morgaine le Fey's son Mordred, kept a young child by his mother's spells, was taunted by the youthened Batman to use the magic he acquired from the Amulet of First Magicks to make himself into an adult. However, in doing so, Mordred trapped himself in the same dimension that he trapped all other adults, including his mother. At the end of the episode, Mordred is seen as a very old man being taken care of by his mother.
  • In Justice League Crisis On Two Earths, Johnny Quick became a victim of this when he used his superspeed powers to create a portal for Batman to cross over into the Earth-Prime dimension in order to stop Owlman from destroying all reality.
  • In the four-part "Smurfquest" episode in The Smurfs, the Long Life Stone, which allowed the Smurfs to live long lives through decreased aging, was losing its power, resulting in this trope happening to the Smurfs. However, the Smurflings didn't grow taller as they aged, and Baby Smurf only showed slight wrinkles.
  • In Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Black Adam is defeated at the end when he is forced to say "Shazam" and revert to his human form, which aged 5,000 years instantly and turned to dust.
  • Happens to Peter Pan in one of the episodes of Peter Pan and The Pirates when he starts embracing adulthood.
  • Played with to horrific length on Billy and Mandy when they meet Father Time and their hourglasses (assigned to everyone in the Universe... they even break a few) are turned upside down. They start aging down rapidly from children, to toddlers, to infants, to embryos.... and they die, ie cease to exist at the end of the episode.
  • The victims of the Vulture in Spider-Man: The Animated Series suffer temporary Rapid Aging when he drains their youth with technology based on the Tombstone of Time. Crimelord Silvermane went through Rapid Aging (after he had been regressed to an infant in an earlier episode) that restored him to his true age in a matter of seconds when the even older Vulture used the Tombstone of Time to steal his accidental youth permanently.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "Duck Codgers", Dodgers and the Cadet are affected by the pollen of an alien flower that causes rapid aging in earthlings. The pollen also has a reverse aging effect on Martians.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Lorelei Signal". The women of the planet Taurus II drain the Life Energy of men to maintain their own youth, which causes the men to age at a rate of 10 years per day.
  • Darkwing Duck, in the episode Going Nowhere Fast, acquires temporarily Super Speed but also super-fast aging.


Real Life

  • Sadly, there is a rare disease called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, in which a child from an early age exhibits rapid aging of the body, but not the mind. The longest they usually live is to their early 20s.
  • People who have gone through extreme stress can age almost overnight. Among couples who have been together for decades, if one dies the other one can often age and die soon after.
  • The stress of being President of the United States (especially during the Cold War) can age the holder of the office. Just viewing photos of some presidents before and after the term can be startling.
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