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Author Topic: Disappearing TV characters
snopes
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We've discussed TV characters whose full names were unknown, and we've discussed regular TV characters who were originally intended to make only one-shot appearances, so what about a discussion of TV characters who disappeared without explanation?

As noted in the "one-shot" thread, Chuck, the older brother on Happy Days was simply written out of the show with no reason given for his disappearance. Likewise:

o The "Spearchucker" and "Ugly John" characters were dropped from M*A*S*H without notice partway through the first season.

o The John Burns character disappeared from Taxi after the first season.

o Yeoman Rand vanished from Star Trek halfway through the first season.

The reasons why the characters disappeared is interesting. As I recall:

o The writers simply had no way to use Chuck effectively on Happy Days, so he was allowed to disappear and the show subsequently pretended he had never existed.

o The producers of Taxi had to pare down the cast after the first season to make room for the addition of Jim Ignatowski, so the John Burns character was dropped.

o The producers of M*A*S*H claimed for PR purposes that the Spearchucker character was written out when they "found out there were no African-American doctors stationed in Korea during the war," but it's pretty clear Spearchucker and Ugly John were dropped because the cast was too large for them to be used effectively.

o The actress who played Yeoman Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) was let go due to her substance abuse problems, and the role was never re-cast.

I know we can all come up with a plethora of regular characters who left TV series with explanations: they were written out because they got married, went off to college, died, etc. That is not what this thread is about -- this thread is about regular characters who disappeared without their shows' providing audiences any explanations of what happened to them.

- snopes

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Publius
Happy Holly Days


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Did we ever learn what happened to Mandy on The West Wing?

(Apparently not)

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Vyera
Deck the Malls


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I think Kenny from South Park use to have an older brother.You see him in one episode.

I haven't seen Stan's older sister in a while either.

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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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As far as I know, there was no explanation given for why Judy (the youngest daughter) disappeared on Family Matters.

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Chris J
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The Phil Hartman-voiced characters on The Simpsons, Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz [Frown]
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mizake the mizan
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Dr. Crusher was (without apparent explanation), replaced, during season 2 of Next Generation. She returned for season three (with mininal explanation).
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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by mizake the mizan:
Dr. Crusher was (without apparent explanation), replaced, during season 2 of Next Generation. She returned for season three (with mininal explanation).

I believe was explained in the first episode of the second season that she was at Startfleet Medical.

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ChadSexington
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Jenn:
As far as I know, there was no explanation given for why Judy (the youngest daughter) disappeared on Family Matters.

Sure there was. She walked up the stairs one day and never came back down [Wink]

Interesting note: Jaimee Foxworth who played Judy spread her talents (and legs) in the world of adult film 3 years ago [Eek!]

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sherri_lu
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quote:
The actress who played Yeoman Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) was let go due to her substance abuse problems, and the role was never re-cast
But she did play Cmdr. Janice Rand in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home & Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
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CD
The Red and the Green Stamps


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on "That 70's Show" in the first season in one episode, Donna had a little sister who was never seen nor heard from again.
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Santa Mari-a
Happy Holly Days


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There was originally a different "oldest son" on My Three Sons. Then he left (went to college with Chuck Cunningham?) and the family adopted Ernie, the friend of the then-youngest son Chip. The grandfather played by William Frawley was replaced by Uncle Charlie when Mr. Frawley died. [Frown]

Ted Bessell appeared on a few episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He seemed poised to become a semi-regular as a serious love interest of Mary's, but the show wisely decided not to marry off Mary or give her a steady boyfriend.

Beaver's best friend on Leave it to Beaver was originally a fat kid with glasses named Harry. Then Harry was replaced by Larry Mondello, a fat kid without glasses. I don't know if an explanation was ever given for Larry's disappearance, but in the later episodes Larry was replaced by a blond kid named Gilbert.

There was an episode on Family Ties that was entirely a dramatic monologue (interspersed with flashbacks) by Alex (Michael J. Fox) talking to a psychiatrist about his grief over a friend who was unexpectedly killed. We never saw this friend before this ep and nobody ever mentioned him again, but we were supposed to believe that Alex was an emotional wreck over his death!

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snopes
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quote:
There was originally a different "oldest son" on My Three Sons. Then he left (went to college with Chuck Cunningham?) and the family adopted Ernie, the friend of the then-youngest son Chip. The grandfather played by William Frawley was replaced by Uncle Charlie when Mr. Frawley died.
As noted in the OP, none of that is relevant to this thread because those characters did not disappear without explanation. The audience was told that Mike Douglas (the oldest son) got married and moved away to take a job teaching psychology, and that "Bub" O'Casey (Steve Douglas' father-in-law) had left to travel to Ireland.

- snopes

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snopes
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quote:
on "That 70's Show" in the first season in one episode, Donna had a little sister who was never seen nor heard from again.
I don't think someone who appeared in a single episode would qualify for "regular character" status. Almost every series has a variety of guest stars and one-shot characters who show up for a single episode and are never seen again.

- snopes

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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There was a show on awhile ago called "Step by Step" where Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy meet and marry and merge their families. An updated Brady Bunch I guess. I wasn't much of a fan but I do remember that the Patrick Duffy character had a son named Brendan who just disappeared between one season and the next. I don't think there was ever a reason given.

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STF
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
quote:
on "That 70's Show" in the first season in one episode, Donna had a little sister who was never seen nor heard from again.
I don't think someone who appeared in a single episode would qualify for "regular character" status. Almost every series has a variety of guest stars and one-shot characters who show up for a single episode and are never seen again.

- snopes

I thought that it would count just due to the fact that there was no reason that a little sister should simply disappear. Even if she was only in one episode it's really strange that a main character who has a family that is featured on the show simply loses a sister. I would assume a sibling that lives in the same place as the other characters would stay or be explained away instead of just disappearing the way a one-shot character can.

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BrianB
Happy Holly Days


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Lou Welch on Babylon 5, who left without explanation, apparently due to the actor who portrayed him, David Crowley, leaving the show either because he wanted other opportunities or not wanting a prominent role on the show.
{ hijack }Many years ago I had a parody web site on Warner Brothers' now-defunct AcmeCity.com called the "Lou Welch Shrine" where I claimed that Lou Welch was the most important character in the history of science fiction. Over 99% of the comments I received showed that most people got the joke. However, even though I put a disclaimer on the main page stating that the my site was a joke I still got comments from people who thought I was serious. [Roll Eyes] { /hijack }

Brian

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George Kingfish Stevens
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When Bea Benaderet died, Kate Bradley from "Petticoat Junction" was said to have "gone on a long trip.

But when Betty Jo had her baby, Kate came back from her trip to see her grandchild. Some unknown actress portrayed Kate Bradley, who was seen only from the back, in that one episode.

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Rebochan the Retail Reindeer
Good King Wal-Mart


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Is Pip still in the regular cast on South Park? You used to see him quite frequently, then he disappeared.

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Reaching a bit perhaps but I remember the show Saved By The Bell (my daughter adored that show back in the day) and the first year the show was built to a very large extent around the Hayley Mills character of a teacher (Miss Bliss?). Anyway by, I believe, the second year that character had been completely written out of the show (along with a few other teachers and less "appealing" kids) without a word of explanation. I believe the school also mysteriously relocated out of some place like Indiana or Ohio and into California.

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If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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Astra
The "Was on Sale" Song


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It is sad I know this, but here goes.

"Saved by the Bell" originally started as a Disney Channel series called "Good Morning Miss Bliss." Only a few episodes were made before it was somehow picked up by NBC and tweaked into the show we know now. The original episodes of "Miss Bliss" were given the "Saved by the Bell" title theme and added to the new episodes, even though there was no apparent explanation for why some shows took place in Ohio and others in California with a few cast differences.

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mizake the mizan
The Red and the Green Stamps


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In the first year of "Fox", there was a cheesy family sitcom (is there any other kind?), the "hook" being that an older man had somehow returned to serve as a mentor for his younger self, and prevent himself from making some of the same mistakes he had made as a child. It was called "Second Chance" or something similiar.

It's wasn't very popular, and so for the second season the older character mysteriously vanished and the show was reworked as just another generic family-sitcom. (Hook: there's this family, see? And the parents have to deal with the kids growing up). I don't think the reworking lasted more than a season either.

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mizake the mizan
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by STF:
I thought that it would count just due to the fact that there was no reason that a little sister should simply disappear.

Well, you see, they needed a little sister to suddenly show up on Buffy, and (conservation of mass and energy and all), they had to get a sister from somewhere, so...
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Pogue Ma-humbug
Happy Christmas (Malls are Open)


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In the first season, (maybe half-season??) of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, David Ogden Stiers played a character who confused his life with old movies. After a while, he disappeared and was never heard from again.

quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
Did we ever learn what happened to Mandy on The West Wing?

Never has her name been mentioned. Wingnuts since have coined the phrase, "Going to Mandyland," for characters who disappear without explanation.

quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
o The producers of Taxi had to pare down the cast after the first season to make room for the addition of Jim Ignatowski, so the John Burns character was dropped.

As I recall, the character was dropped because he had no specific personality. He was too egghead to be Tony, and not good-looking enough to be Bobby. He was like a male Nardo, and never had any story arcs.

Final question: Was an explanation ever given for the disappearance of Adam from Bonanza?

Pogue

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snopes
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quote:
As I recall, the character was dropped because he had no specific personality. He was too egghead to be Tony, and not good-looking enough to be Bobby. He was like a male Nardo, and never had any story arcs.
And his blandness made him the logical character to drop in favor of Jim. Perhaps he might have been dropped even if Jim had not been added, but we'll never know. As producer Ed Weinberger said at the time, "We just had too many people. We couldn't write for everybody."

quote:
Final question: Was an explanation ever given for the disappearance of Adam from Bonanza?
Yes, he was said to have moved away somewhere (Australia, I think). The producers deliberately left his character's fate open in case Pernell Roberts reconsidered and returned to the show.

- snopes

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IrateDwarf
Asparagus Spears


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Boy Meets World had two characters with a long hiatus, and I loved the way they dealt with it. The first was Corey's younger sister, who disappeared for a few seasons and then suddenly came back a few years later. When she walked down the steps, everyone in the room was shocked and I think the dialog exchange was somewhere along the lines of "Where have you been?" "In my room...for a very, very long time". Also, the nerdy character Minkus was a classmate in Junior High, but suddenly got written out of the show for the high school years. In an episode where they are getting ready to graduate, Corey runs into Minkus in the hallway. Stunned, Corey asked "Where have you been for the last 4 years?" and Minkus replies "All my classes where in that hallway, and the camera shot changes from the shot of the school hallway they have used since the first season to another, completely different hallway.
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Rufus T. Firefly
The Red and the Green Stamps


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For one season, "married...With Children" pulled a Cousin Oliver when the family adopted their nephew Seven. Although they made a couple joking references to his disappearance later on, I don't believe his departure was ever explained or acknowledged.
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Bellatrix
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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From the imdb trivia page of Jamie Foxworth:

"After a few seasons on Family Matters her character went upstairs and never returned. Her part was discontinued because producers chose not to develop her character"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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OTL
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
Did we ever learn what happened to Mandy on The West Wing?

For that matter, what happened to Sam (Rob Lowe)? Last we see him, he's running for the House in Orange County, and expected to lose horribly. So what happened? If he lost, why didn't he come back to DC? If he won, why wasn't that mentioned? (At least he's been mentioned since then, though. Poor Mandy is treated as if she never existed...) (Or did I miss something somewhere?)

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OTL
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Vyera:
I think Kenny from South Park use to have an older brother.You see him in one episode.

Kevin (Kenny's brother, and one of about three "Kevins" on South Park) was in more than one episode; he would frequently show up whenever Kenny's family was shown. He was never really an important part of any episode, however, so it's possible Parker and Stone just forgot about him.

quote:
I haven't seen Stan's older sister in a while either.
Shelly's been seen recently, I believe. I'm pretty sure she was in an episode this season. (The roles of the female characters did seem to get scaled back quite a bit after Mary Kay Bergman's death, however.)

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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I thought Mandy quietly resigned over the flap where the bad guys were using an opposition memo that she wrote during her leave of absence from the White House against the President?!?

Or did she commit suicide in a car in a parking lot in Virginia, but we know it was really President Bartlett's hit squads who killed her and juat set it up to look like a suicide? [Eek!]

Four Five Kitties

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hoitoider
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I don't remember if they explained Floyd the Barber's disappearance from The Andy Griffith Show - he was replaced by Emmit, and his 'Fix It' shop.

Or maybe he was sent up for abusing Kurt Cobain!

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Oualawouzou
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by Count of Monte Chris-J:
The Phil Hartman-voiced characters on The Simpsons, Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz [Frown]

*mourn*

I miss them.

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Bellatrix
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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What about this from boy meets world:

"In the beginning of the show, Shawn mentions he has a sister. This 'sister' helped with the "straightening" of Cory's hair in one of the episodes. However, later on in the show, we learn that Shawn doesn't have a sister"

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Am i right or what

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RealityChuck/Boston Charlie
The First USA Noel


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Speaking of M*A*S*H: in 1974, it was announced in TV Guide that singer Loudon Wainwright III was joining the regular cast of M*A*S*H. He appeared in only three episodes before vanishing, probably because they didn't have any idea what to do with him. There was no explanation of his appearance, either, and in the only episode I've seen him in, he just was showing singing a song at the end and doing nothing else.
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Macheath
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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The Simpsons had Dr. Marvin Monroe, who appeared in several episodes during the first couple of seasons. He disappeared and wasn't heard from again until a clip show aired that said he was one of two characters who died (the other being Bleeding Gums Murphy) at that point. Of course, no mention of his death was ever in an actual episode before that clip show.

Mack da "He was so Jung" Knife

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