If an ongoing story has a cast of regular characters, it is common that new characters join it and others leave it. If the authors are not in the mood to actually kill him
, he may be Put on a Bus
to a distant location. He's alive and well, but not taking part in the story anymore. And even more, the bus may come back
, or the character may be Commuting on a Bus
. Or the bus may crash
But, in other cases, the character never actually takes the bus. He announces that he will do it, he says goodbye to all the people he knew, he may finish his unfinished business (or decide to leave them unfinished), he may prepare his luggage, show up at the station, hear the speaker announcing the imminent departure of his bus... and it is all cancelled. Perhaps his true love came to beg him "Please Don't Leave Me
". Perhaps he reconsidered. Or perhaps a meteorite destroyed the only bridge out of town, so the bus can not leave. In any case, he was about to take the bus
, but never did so, and stayed in the show.
The trick may also be pushed a little further when the character does
leave, but returns so quickly that their absence becomes a mere technicism. When we say "quickly", we mean quickly as "in the very same episode" or perhaps the next one; no more than that.
Usually, if it is a main character, this is as far as the bus will go, as an actual departure would be a very dramatic change, or even force the end of the story completely. Did you thought that he would really do it?
For secondary characters, it is a way to point their importance for the story: if so much would change if he leaves, that means he is important for the story.
Unlike when The Bus Came Back
, this is all part of the same episode or story arc. The usual background causes to put a character on a bus (the actor left, the writer does not like the character, executive meddling, etc) do not apply.
Of course, the examples may contain spoilers
. But as the outcome is "in the end, the character does not leave", if you are watching reruns and have seen the work after this point, and the character is still around, you should have guessed it anyway
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- She-Hulk, at the end of Dan Slott's run. Iron Man had Brought Her Down to Normal, but there was a new She-Hulk in town: a Jennifer Walter from an alternate universe without superhumans, who got powers when moving to the Marvel Universe. They made a deal: "our" Jennifer would depart to that universe, and the new foreign one would stay. She said goodbye to everybody, Reed Richards sent him thought the dimensional portal, but had an idea: he took her back right after she moved to that universe, restoring her powers. So, the Marvel Universe kept the She-Hulk who had been She-Hulk since the 1970's, and the foreigner left.
- Cacofonix in Asterix and the Normans. Justforkix, a kid from Lutecia, enjoyed his music (despised by all the other Gauls of the village) and told him that it would be trendy in Lutecia. So, Cacofonix simply left the village, without telling anyone, and nobody even noticed that he was gone... until Asterix needed him to deal with the invading Normans. Cacofonix did not care, but when he heard that Justforkix was in danger, he returned to save him.
- The Avengers #183 and #184. Instead of seeking revenge, the Absorbing Man tried to take a ship to South America. There are no super heroes in there (at least, not many ones), and he could be a jerk without any interference. Bad luck: he was a jerk with Hawkeye in his civilian identity when he waited at the port. This made the Avengers come after him, and by the time he got rid of them, the ship had already left.
- Ms. Marvel, in her #10 issue, had a tragic encounter with another Ms. Marvel from a Expendable Alternate Universe. She left to the space, and thought about leaving the planet and not returning. But what the hell, doing that is another way of escaping from problems instead of dealing with them... so she turned back and returned home.
- Captain America did this in the Second Avengers Team. Power Man and the Enchantress managed to turn the Avengers into heroes with bad publicity. Captain America managed to clean their names; and then retired. He gave up his Captain America identity, and started a new life as a boxer... which lasted for just some pages. When he heared in the radio that the Avengers had been kidnapped by Kang, he took the shield again and headed to the battle without a second thought.
- In Back to the Future III, the Doc falls in love with Clara, a woman of the far west. He told her he was from the future, so she slapped him and took the train out of the city, while Doc and Marty tried to use a train to activate the time machine. She discovered that he said the truth and run to him, trying to catch the train and beg his pardon. In the end, only Marty returned to 1985: Doc was out of the time machine saving Clara's life, and it was destroyed after Marty returned. But that does not stop a scientist: Doc made a new time machine, built into a train powered by steam vapor
- In X-Men, Rogue left the mansion and tried to took a train, far away. Wolverine convinced her to return and give the X-Men a chance. But then, she was kidnapped by Magneto...
Live action TV
- Perhaps the most extreme case was in Sos Mi Vida. Esperanza actually did take the bus, she got on it and departed, never to return again... but Martín chased the bus with his car, stopped it by stopping the car in front of it, and made the successful "please don't leave me" speech on the bus itself.
- Vero Diorio from Graduados was tired of being Just Friends with Andy Goddzer, and planned to join some hippies in a trip to Antarctica. Andy convinced her to stay with a passionate kiss. The relation was not continued, and they returned to be just friends.
- Lucas Leiva from Herederos De Una Venganza tried to take a bus with his girlfriend, to leave Vidisterra, all the problems and failed loves, and even the strange curses that plagued the village. Good luck with that! Before they could leave, there was a new curse: all the paths became unusuable. The land paths flooded, the paths in the mountains had landslides, even the bad weather did not allow helicopters. Nobody gets in or out Vidisterra!
- Matías Beltrán from the Argentine series Patito Feo began a promising football career, and got a contract to play in the European league. He was torn between this and his girlfriend Patito, and considered all the possible ways to manage it. Keep the relation in the distance, break with her, take her with him, give it up, etc. Finally, they accepted to break the relation (in good terms), and Matías would go to Spain. But, in the last friendly match before leaving, the other team played dirty and severely hurted him. Thus, he stayed in the country.
- Annie Eddison from Community. She spends the entire season one finale having decided to transfer with her boyfriend for a different college. This includes a scene of her saying her goodbyes to the study group, them thinking that she'll be back next semester, with only Jeff knowing the truth, but at the last second she decides to stay.
- Bones: Zack gets talked into volunteering for the Army and going to Iraq, gets replaced at the Jeffersonian, is sure he'll be killed while away - and then shows up again an episode or two later, having washed out.
- Zig-Zagged in the season 5 finale of M*A*S*H: Margret gets married to Lt. Col. Pinobscott and flies away on a chopper, ostensably for her honeymoon but looking for all the world like she's leaving the series. The last shot of the episode is Frank waving goodbye as she disappears over the mountains. Come season 6, Margret comes back from her leave as scheduled and it's Frank who has left the series.
- In season 2 of Boardwalk Empire Van Alden is charged with murder and has to flee Atlantic City which eliminates his role as the antagonist to the gangster Nucky Thompson. In the premiere of season 3 Van Alden is living in Chicago under an assumed name when a very Contrived Coincidence places him right in the middle of the conflict between gangsters Dean O'Banion and Al Capone.
- In the season 5 opener of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles confides to Willow that he's going to return home to England, because Buffy no longer requires his services as a Watcher. At the end of the episode, when he's about to tell Buffy, she specifically tells him she needs him as her Watcher, and Giles changes his mind. He spends the rest of the show's run with one foot on the bus, vacillating between whether Buffy truly needs him, or if he's holding her back by staying in Sunnydale.
- There was an episode of That 70s Show where Donna was about to leave town to go to a distant college, and Eric was distraught about it and went to the station to stop her—but decided at the last minute to play it cool instead so as not to appear needy. Donna walks around to the bus, the bus leaves—and Donna is still standing there when it does, deciding she didn't want to leave Point Place and Eric after all.
- In Fraggle Rock, Gobo is worried that he hasn't received a postcard from Uncle Matt for some time and decides to leave to go find him, thinking he's in trouble. Everyone gives him a tearful send-off as Gobo steps out into the unknown. Moments later, he returns, with a postcard from Uncle Matt explaining that he was just recovering from the flu.
- At about the middle of season 3 of Burn Notice, Fiona decided didn't want to stay in Miami with Michael trying to get his old job at the CIA back. She planned to go back to Ireland, but the appearance of an old enemy from her IRA days derailed the plan and, inadvertently, Operation Un-Burn Michael.
- The Stargate SG-1 episode "Frozen" had O'Neill become infected with the plague that forced the Ancients to ascend, for which Earth, obviously, had no cure. The Tok'ra temporarily made him a temporary host for a symbiote to cure him, but a clusterf*** involving Jack's code of ethics butting heads with the symbiote's previous mission ensued. Jack disappeared for an episode then reappeared and was captured by Ba'al in "Abyss".
- Aurora Andrés from Solamente Vos was in love with Juan Cousteau, who was married, and had a pregnant wife. Trying to forget him, she spent some months with Segundo, who proposed her to leave the country and go to Spain. She accepted, she told everybody that she would leave with him; but at the last moment she did not took the taxi to the airport. Segundo left without her.
- Joan Watson in Elementary is Sherlock's sober companion and she is only supposed to make sure he doesn't do drugs for a fixed amount of time, after which she is to move on to become someone else's sober companion. She talks about leaving for a few episodes, then on the day she is supposed to leave she gets a time extension.
- Viudas E Hijos Del Rock And Roll
- Vera, tired of the manipulations at the "Z-Rock" radio, left Buenos Aires and returned to Rosario, and only told Gabriela (who has letting her stay at her home) with a goodbye note. She did return to Rosario, but got in problems immediately: a drug dealer noticed the police at the Rosario bus station, left her luggage next to Vera (who was still sleeping), and run away. Vera, without suspecting anything, left the bus with that luggage, to ask what to do with it; and the police stopped her, checked it, and detained her for having a luggage full of drugs. Conveniently an Orphan, and without anyone else to ask for help, she made the One Phone Call to Gabriela, who was conveniently at home with all the guys interested in helping her.
- Subverted by the rancher Tony, who had to spend some time in Buenos Aires. Tired of Lourdes trying to have sex with him, and Segundo trying to have a romance with him (despite having a family), Tony headed to the bus station. Segundo followed him, and pleaded him not to leave... but hey, Tony is just returning to work at the Arostegui's ranch, just that.
- Doctor Who's rebooted 8th series played heavily with this. After the Doctor's regeneration, Clara is unsure if she likes the new him. Throughout the series there is increasing pressure from her growing relationship with Danny to put her adventures with the Doctor aside. In "Kill the Moon", the Doctor leaves Clara behind to save the world herself, and she is so upset by this that she decides to leave him. The prelude trailers for "Mummy on the Orient Express" don't show Clara at all; however, she does appear in this episode and, after affirming her decision to leave the Doctor throughout, has a heart-to-heart with him at the end and makes a sudden decision to stay with him after all. All this has been complicated by internet rumours that actress Jenna-Louise Coleman is leaving the show, which may have been planted in order to help viewers think she was really dropping out mid-series.
- In the episode "The Only Light in the Darkness" of Agents Of SHIELD, SHIELD does not exist anymore, and anyone can be a double agent of HYDRA. Coulson tells May that she must either follow his orders, or leave. She leaves, without saying goodbye to anyone (which would be totally in her style). But, as the story goes on, it becomes clear that she had not left to return home: she left to retrieve evidence that would prove her loyalty to Coulson.
- In one episode of The Muppet Show, Gonzo plans to leave after getting a movie deal, but ends up coming back because the studio realized they had the wrong Gonzo (he was Gonzo the Great, the one they wanted was Gonzo the Mediocre).
- Fearing that Maria La Del Barrio may take Nandito with her, Gripina Pérez tried lo leave Mexico immediately, before María could tell him that she's his real mother. He called her from the train station, to say goodbye, and she headed to the station. It was useless, she got to the anden when the train was already leaving, she could not stop it or board it, and her cry "I'm your mother" got lost among the train noises. But that's not the end! If the driver goes really fast, they can still catch the train at the next station! And that's what she did: she got there before, she found nandito, told him the truth, and they all returned to Mexico.
- At the end of the Resident Mad Scientist arc in Schlock Mercenary, Kevyn says he's going to quit the Toughs because he's been turned into a nanotech-powered living weapon and feels like a threat to all his friends. He's convinced to stay, first by the Toughs coming to him with mechanical problems to fix, then by Petey removing the nanotech in his sleep.
- In Futurama's episode "Overclockwise", Leela left Planet Express and departed to a distant place. Fry, who was left alone, even tries to commits suicide (But he finds the omnipotent Bender instead). Leela returns at the end of the episode, and reads Bender's predictions about her fate with Fry.
- A quite literal one in SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Texas": A homesick Sandy is about to step on a bus, supposedly leading her to the ocean surface, when Spongebob and Patrick (not wanting her to leave) interrupt her and calling Texas bad names. This angered Sandy enough for her to chase after them and for them to lead her to the surprise: a Texas-styled party at Krusty Krab to make her feel "at home". Sandy still doesn't consider it a "home", but she does decide to not leave Bikini Bottom in the end.