Created By: TaylorAtOnce on April 23, 2011 Last Edited By: Halen on July 15, 2013

Pilotitis

Seemingly important character from first pilot episode is never seen in series proper.

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A variation of Put on a Bus pertaining specifically to characters who don't make it out of the Pilot episode, no matter how important they seemed to be. Usually occurs either as the result of an actor agreeing to film the pilot but bowing out before signing a contract, or as the result of Executive Meddling.


Examples

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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • Psych In Pilot, Anne Dudek appeared as the competent and skeptical Detective Lucinda (no last name given); partner and lover of the major character Carlton Lassiter. Post-pilot she is never seen nor heard of again, seemingly replaced by the less skeptical Junior Detective Juliet O'Hara.
  • A two-fer for Weeds in Ep. 1x01 You Can't Miss the Bear. Haley Hudson appears as Silas' cool, down-to-earth girlfriend Quinn Hodes, who is also the daughter of major character Celia Hodes. Similarly, Justin Chatwin appears as a fellow Agrestic drug dealer Josh Wilson, who is also the son of major character Doug Wilson. In Ep. 1x02 Free Goat Celia tells Silas that she sent Quinn to Mexico for sleeping with him, as well as revealing that Quinn had a whole day to tell him this herself, but apparently cared more about the songs on her iPod. She returns for two brief appearances during the Season 4 Finale/Season 5 Premiere. Josh however, is not mentioned again until Season 4 in a short remark from a stoned Doug.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • April 23, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • April 24, 2011
    peccantis

    Btw don't we have a trope page for Historical Values Fidelity or something? To be subtype of Values Dissonance where the dissonance is caused by the fact the work is set or was created quite a lot earlier than someone reading/seeing it lives?

    You should look at Nonindicative First Episode for examples.
  • April 24, 2011
    BlackMageJ
    The two episodes of JAG that comprised the Poorly Disguised Pilot for NCIS had a character named Vivian Blackadder on Team Gibbs. Come the first episode of the spinoff, she's nowhere to be seen, and her slot on the team is quickly filled by new recruit Caitlin Todd.
  • April 24, 2011
    Glucharina
    There was a trope about characters being equally mortal in the first episode, In think it should be mentioned.
  • April 24, 2011
    TonyG
    Related to The Other Marty and The Other Darrin.
    • The actor playing the electrician in the pilot for News Radio was replaced in the second episode with Joe Rogan, who made the character his own and made him an Ascended Extra.
    • In-universe example: On The Simpsons there was a cop show featuring a handsome, hyper-competent character named Homer Simpson. By the second episode, however, he was turned into a fat, bumbling doofus.
  • April 26, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    • The character Sonny from My Name Is Earl, until he is unexpectedly (and briefly) brought back in the third season. Earl even lampshades this in the relevant episode.
  • April 26, 2011
    MC42
    ^^^^^^ More accurately, everyone but Spock from the first Star Trek pilot.
  • June 11, 2013
    InTheMirror
    Bump
  • June 11, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    In the pilot of Go On a man named Don is in the group Ryan joins. He disappears after that.
  • June 11, 2013
    DracMonster
    I'm pretty certain this is Chuck Cunningham Syndrome (which could use a rename.) If not, the difference will need to be specified.
  • June 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the unaired pilot of The Big Bang Theory there's a girl named Katie who [whom?] Leonard & Sheldon rescue from being homeless and moves in with them, and Gilda, geeky female friend/fellow researcher of theirs with whom Sheldon has had sex.
  • June 11, 2013
    TonyG
    This would be a subtrope of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome relating specifically to pilot episodes.
  • June 11, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I want to propose Pilot On A Bus just to avoid the mess that is the current title.
  • June 11, 2013
    reub2000
    • On The Finder, Ike Latulippe appears in the Backdoor Pilot as Walter's bartender and pilot. She is never seen after that.
  • June 11, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    I would put this down as Forgotten Pilot Character, myself.
  • June 18, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    • Babylon Five's two-part pilot had some actors who didn't come back for the show, including those who played the second-in-command of the space station and the chief doctor (replaced by Susan Ivonova and Doctor Franklin in the series.) The writers did attempt to explain the characters' disappearances in-story.
  • June 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the first episode of The Brady Bunch the girls have a pet cat named Fluffy, who Tiger (the boys' dog) runs after and ruins the wedding reception. Fluffy is never seen again.
  • June 18, 2013
    batgirl1
    I agree with having this subtrope, but I do not agree with the title, simply because "Pilotitis" technically means "swelling of the pilot", which makes little sense. How about Pilot Only Character, or...^^^ actually, Forgotten Pilot Character sounds pretty good.
  • July 14, 2013
    foxley
    The con artist Philly in the pilot episode of Breakout Kings was intended to be a regular member of the team. She doesn't appear in the series, replaced by bounty hunter Erica. Her absence is at least explained, as the Marshals discovered she was concealing ill-gotten gains and she was thrown of the program and transferred to high-security prison.
  • July 14, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Forgotten Pilot Character is very searchable. Pilotitis is not.

    • Lupin III tends to have Negative Continuity, but two examples are still notable enough to mention.
      • The original Manga had Inspectors Zenigata and Melon chasing Lupin. The character of Melon was folded into Zenigata (technically making him a Composite Character) for the Anime versions.
      • The Pilot Film for the anime included Akechi Kogoro (The same character as Edogawa Rampo's detective) as a partner for Inspector Zenigata, but the character never appeared again.
  • July 15, 2013
    DAN004
    Kinda wanted to use Put On An Airplane (well they're "pilots") for the title, but I'm okay with Forgotten Pilot Character.
  • July 15, 2013
    Arivne
    Forgotten Pilot Character is good.

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Original Series
      • (First pilot example: Everyone was replaced except Mr. Spock)
      • The 2nd pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" had Ship's Doctor Mark Piper, Communications Officer Alden and Yeoman Smith. They were replaced by Leonard McCoy, Lieutenant Uhura and Janice Rand (respectively) in the series.
  • July 15, 2013
    Quag15
    Does this one count?

    Live Action TV

    • In New Girl, the character Coach was important in helping Jess deal with some of her issues in the pilot. He was replaced in the following episodes by Winston, who's a bit different in terms of looks and personality.
  • July 15, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Sounds exactly like this trope.
  • July 15, 2013
    Hodor
    I was thinking of that Breakout Kings example. The show also has another seeming team-member cut (i.e. sent back to prison) before the end of the first episode, because he pocketed a knife while they were in a restaurant, apparently planning to escape. The guy shows up in a later episode wherein he aids the team from prison.

    • In the first episode of Death In Paradise, Inspector Poole's new partner turns out to be the killer, and is arrested. Camille, his actual partner from the second episode onward, is introduced appearing to be a criminal (she was undercover at the time).

    Similarly to the above, the pilot episode of Firefly initially implies that the character Simon is an undercover Alliance Officer (i.e. a bad guy) and that the actual Alliance Officer, Dobson, will be one of the main characters. This is disprove by the end of the episode (not to mention the opening credits).

    The above two might overlap with Decoy Protagonist though.
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