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James Cameron Just Coined The Term 'Stranger Things Effect' To Describe Aging Young Actors

Although "Stranger Things" is a series that features a host of interdimensional monsters, a secret government facility filled with child psychics, and a parallel universe known simply as "the Upside Down," it's safe to say that one of the strangest things about the show is just how fast the residents of Hawkins, Indiana seem to age.

Within the world of "Stranger Things," only three years have passed since a group of D&D-obsessed middle schoolers helped save 12-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) from the Upside Down. However, you wouldn't know it to look at them, since, as of Season 4, all of these characters (Will included) look like they belong in college rather than early high school. This is because, in real life, it has actually been more than six years since the first season of "Stranger Things" premiered back in 2016, and most of the cast is now 18 or older playing 14 to 15-year-olds.

As understandable as this issue may be, the rapid aging of the characters in "Stranger Things" is undeniably jarring, and has even received a decent amount of criticism online (via We Got This Covered). Now, legendary director James Cameron has coined a term for this effect, and admitted that he had to work around this exact problem for his upcoming "Avatar" sequels.

Cameron didn't want the young Avatar cast to awkwardly age out of their roles

While speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the production of "Avatar: The Way of Water" and the future of the "Avatar" franchise as a whole, director James Cameron explained that he decided to shoot all of the "Avatar" sequels at once in order to avoid what he coined "The 'Stranger Things' Effect."

"Otherwise, you get — and I love 'Stranger Things' — but you get the 'Stranger Things' effect where they're supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they're 27," Cameron said bluntly. "You know, I love the show. It's okay, we'll suspend disbelief. We like the characters, but, you know." Cameron explained that his decision to shoot the sequels at once was important because even special effects can't hide the transition of child actors into adulthood.

Indeed, Cameron has specifically referenced how Jack Champion (who plays Spider in "The Way of Water") was cast at the age of 12 and still grew from 14 to nearly 16 while they were filming, further emphasizing why it was essential to shoot multiple films at once rather than wait. Although we don't know for sure how much time is set between "The Way of Water" and its upcoming sequels, it's clear that Cameron took measures to make sure none of the younger actors magically become adults between films, sidestepping the newly-minted "'Stranger Things' effect" before it could cause any problems for his audience.