While Mario and Donkey Kong have both ascended to stardom since their debut game, their supporting cast hasn't been as lucky:
Pauline, the girl they fought each other for in the first place, faded into obscurity as Princess Peach took over her role as Damsel in Distress. She did reappear in Donkey Kong '94, only to disappear for another decade until Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2, in which Pauline's relationship status to Mario was demoted from "girlfriend" to "friend". However, she does appear (instead of Peach) in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games March of The Minis, Minis March Again, and Mini-Land Mayhem. It goes further with one of the Puzzle Swap pictures: Pauline gets just as much focus as the other princesses in the "Nintendo Starlets" puzzle. Finally averted with Super Mario Odyssey, as Pauline plays a semi-major role in the game according to previews.
Donkey Kong Junior (as a separate character from the "modern" Donkey Kong; it's complicated) hasn't appeared since Game & Watch Gallery Advance.
Stanley from Donkey Kong 3 also vanished from the series appearing only in some cameos like WarioWare or Super Smash Bros.. It's unclear, but it's said he's also the protagonist from the Game & Watch Greenhouse and it's also rumored that he is Mario's cousin.
Super Mario Land: Tatanga seems to have ceased to exist. He kidnapped Princess Daisy in Super Mario Land, was revealed to have been reduced to working for Wario in Super Mario Land 2, and was never heard from again. Even in WarioWare he doesn't return despite Wario wanting to hire people to make games for him and a different alien, Orbulon, appears.
This also seems to have happened to Sarasaland itself, as Mario never ventured there again after SML; the only proof it even exists is Daisy herself, whose appearances are currently limited to the spin-offs.
Every non-standard human character Camelot creates for their Mario sports spin-offs tends to fall into this, such as Plum, Charlie, Sonny, Harry, and Maple, from Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64, and Alex, Nina, Harry and Kate, from the Game Boy Color version of Mario Tennis (and the Game Boy Advance sequel, Mario Tennis: Power Tour). None of them has made a single appearance in any game since, unless you count Plum's cameos in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl as a trophy and sticker respectively. Not to mention that that's five out of fourteen playable characters in Golf, while the four of Tennis were the protagonists of the GBC version's story mode.
On a related note, Mario RPG characters in general rarely reappear in other Mario titles. Exceptions include Goomba King, Baby Peach, and the Star Spirits, although in Baby Peach's case her debut in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time was likely coincidental. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is notable for not returning any previous Paper Mario characters and only using characters from the main series, introducing only Kersti as a new character.
Even Luigi went through a low hiatus for almost ten years. Eventually he came back though. Similarly, Mario rescued Daisy in an old Game Boy title and she didn't appear again for years. Now she's a standard of spin-off party games.
Paper Wiggler and Toadsworth are both completely missing from Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. A 3D Wiggler appears in the game and goes through essentially the same plot arc as his paper counterpart, which may be the reason the latter is absent, but Toadsworth simply never appears.
King K. Rool, Donkey Kong's arch-nemesis, hasn't appeared in any game (except as a cameo in Smash Bros.) since Mario Super Sluggers in 2008 or in any Donkey Kong game since DK Jungle Climber in 2007. This is especially baffling, as King K. Rool once appeared as reliably in Donkey Kong games as Bowser does in Mario games. Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze make no mention of him whatsoever.
Kiddy Kong appears as the playable sidekick in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! and its Game Boy counterpart. The instruction manual for Donkey Kong 64 says he's Chunky's baby brother and he was going to be in the cancelled Donkey Kong Racing. He never appears nor is even mentioned again.
While never being a regular, Toadsworth would appear around every 2 years at worst, and appeared in every Mario and Luigi game. However, his last appearance has been Mario & Luigi: Dream Team in 2013 after being absent for 4 years, and was even absent from Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.
Zhuzhen and Halley from the original Shadow Hearts are unmentioned in the sequels. This may be somewhat justified, though, in that the former returned to China while the later left for America. The Valentine family gleefully subvert this.
Dynamo in Mega Man X5 and X6. The only antagonist in the series to remain alive and intact (that is, not coming Back from the Dead), he worked for Sigma in X5, returned in an arbitrary cameo in X6, and vanished off the face of the earth.
Similarly, Douglas only appears in X5 and X6, then disappears after that. Lifesaver only appears in X5 (granted, he wasn't very popular due to his Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! action). Dr. Cain was last seen in X3, last mentioned in X4, and gone after that.
The Updated Re-releaseMaverick Hunter X has Dr. Cain dying in an attack on the Hunters' headquarters; whether this is a retcon or not remains unclear.
In the Mega Man Star Force series, Pat Sprigs is a major character in the first game, cameos in the second, and vanishes in the third. What's frustrating is that the game itself acknowledges that it still has plot points to wrap up regarding him. Pat also disappears from the anime as well, only to make a very minor cameo at the end of the final episode.
In Xenogears, Billy's dad Jessiah disappears (much like most of the game) when Disc 2 starts. At least, from the storyline, technically he is still around as he is is the gun/bullet in one of Billy's gear's special moves. Oh, and Kaiser Sigmund too - despite the fact that an early Disc 2 plot point would probably have him heavily involved. Disc 2 has a much tighter story focus than the first disc, playing more like an interactive novel than a standard RPG, and the planned storylines for both characters may have gotten lost in the same budgetary constraints that are rumored to have caused the gameplay shift.
Parodied in Banjo-Tooie, where the face of Tooty, Distressed Damsel of the first game and kid sister of Banjo, appears on a milk carton in Cloud Cuckooland, one of only two appearances of Tooty in the game (the picture of her in Banjo's house from the previous game is still there; in fact it's one of the few things in the house that is not significantly damaged or destroyed). Rare obviously never saw her as anything more than a walking plot device for the first game, and thus hand-waved her absence circa Nuts and Bolts, saying she was hauled off by the "Rubbish Video Game Characters Police".
Brentilda completely vanished as well. Her only appearance is in a portrait in Pawno's Emporium in Jolly Roger's Lagoon.
Surprisingly enough, this is Averted with Dr. Pettrovich Madnar in MGS4. While he doesn't make an actual appearance, it's explained that he saved Raiden's life behind the scenes, even though he hadn't been mentioned at all in the previous games (nor is it mentioned that Snake killed him by firing remote-control rockets into his back to hit Madnar, but that's probably for the best), and him being the original creator of the first Metal Gear had long since been retconned.
Many Sonic characters like Mighty the Armadillo, Ray the Flying Squirrel, Fang the Sniper (a.k.a. Nack the Weasel), Bean the Dynamite, Bark the Polar Bear, Mecha Sonic, Tails Doll, Gemerl, Metal Knuckles, and Mecha Knuckles have been subject to this. Several of these characters got cameos on "Wanted" and "Missing" posters in Sonic Generations. Mighty and Ray are listed as "Missing since 1993" (even though Mighty was last seen in 1995's Knuckles Chaotix).note To be fair, many of these characters appeared only in games of arguable canonity.
Since about the time of Sonic Unleashed, more recent and/or once-major characters have been set aside in favor of simply having Eggman, Tails, and Sonic. This may be in response to the criticisms for the series' Loads and Loads of Characters.
Soul Calibur V is notable for having a lot of new characters at the expense of losing some old faces, including, rather infamously, popular faces Talim and Zasalamel as well as Rock, who have literally disappeared without a trace. At least Cassandra had her fate told in an artbook and the fate of Seong Mi-Na, Yun-seong and Setsuka were mentioned later on (With Setsuka having been Patroklos' teacher at one point) but Talim, Zasalamel and Rock have seemingly vanished off the face of the earth with no mention whatsoever from artbooks or Word of God as to what happened to them, almost as if they never existed.
Touhou's transition from PC-98 to Windows is either a Continuity Reboot or the single largest case of this ever. Only four characters ultimately survived the changeover out of forty or so. Many of the disappearances may have been caused by the fact that ZUN became the sole author of the Touhou series once it moved to PC.
Ms. Pac-Man and just about the entirety of the Pac Familynote which include Pac-Man Jr., Baby Pac-Man, Professor Pac, and the two pets Chomp-Chomp and Sourpuss have been missing for years. With the reboot they might have been retconned out of existence.
Any of the ghosts outside of the main four from the original game note Sue, Funky/Common, Spunky/Grey Common, Kinky, and Orson. Tim from Jr. Pac-Man is excluded since his game is not considered official. also seemed to vanish.
The series' Player Characters have a semi-enforced and downplayed variant: the following games do acknowledge what happened in the preceding ones, and they do touch upon the character in question, insofar as the character would be known to the public. However, details that would vary from play-through to play-through (race, sex, playstyle, etc.) are, for the most part, strenuously avoided, presumably to avoid invalidating people's play-throughs and to avert Cutting Off the Branches. Word of God on the events of Skyrim tries to explain this by saying "all the quest chains present in the game happen, but not all are necessarily done by the Dragonborn." This could also be taken as their attitude towards the protagonists in previous games.
From Arena, General Warhaft. He was the leader of the Imperial Legion, wrote two of the in-game books on armor and fighting, and was imprisoned along with the Emperor by Jagar Tharn...but he never is mentioned after, except for in the aforementioned books. If you visit the Imperial Leagion headquarters in Oblivion, there is still no mention of him and he's replaced by Commander Adamus Phillida.
In Daggerfall, Ebonarm is a god of war worshiped in the Iliac Bay region and is held in high regard by the Redguards. He is a Black Knight with an ebony sword fused to his right arm and is never seen without his dark ebony armor. He is a noted adversary to most Daedric Princes and, despite being a god of war, usually appears on the battlefield to prevent bloodshed and reconcile the opposing sides. Ebonarm hasn't been mentioned in any form since Daggerfall, however. He has possibly even Unpersoned in Online, where a book from Daggerfall appears that previously mentioned him, but has all mentions of Ebonarm removed.
In a large-scale Chucking, the cities of Sutch, Artemon, and Mir Corrup were mentioned as being in Cyrodiil in several prior games. However, in Oblivion, the entire cities are gone. The developers admitted they never had time to add them into the game (a semi-canonical explanation was made for Sutch, though - apparently, the city was ceded to Hammerfell as part of the peace settlement following the events of Redguard. Which only left the problem of why Sutch had been implied to have been a part of Cyrodiil after that point, of course).
Barry does appear in the ending for Resident Evil 3, as the helicopter pilot rescuing Carlos and Jill.
Barry is now one of the playable characters, with his own story, in Revelations 2. Rebecca, however, apparently became a B.S.A.A. agent and has been working in the field (albeit not to the extent of Chris), unfortunately her exploits all happen off screen and aren't nearly as action-packed as they used to be.
Simon the Sorcerer 3D has a strange character called Jar Nin whom you accidentally kill at the beginning of the game. Towards the end of the game it turns out that you have to resurrect him because you need him on your team. But when you do, he does exactly nothing and even vanishes shortly after, never to be seen or mentioned again.
Not characters per se, but every creature from the Xen borderworld in the first Half-Life - apart from the headcrabs (and zombies), the barnacles, the Vortigaunts (now as an ally), an ichthyosaur as a cameo, and the leeches (who are now invincible barriers to the ocean) - somehow vanished from the cast list before the start of Half-Life 2.
For that matter, with the exception of Barney, pretty much every major character from the first game's expansions (Adrian Shephard from Opposing Force, Gina Cross and Colette Green from Decay, and Rosenberg from Blue Shift) disappeared entirely between the first and second game. Considering the circumstances, this could be justified.
Agatha was a member of the Elite Four in Pokémon Red and Blue and their remakes, but disappears without a trace in Pokémon Gold and Silver and their own remakes. This wouldn't be a problem, since you would think that Agatha could have retired, but neither set of games make any further reference to her past.
Most characters in the Wario Land series just vanished without a trace after the original games they were in. Captain Syrup returned in The Shake Dimension, after a ten odd year gap between appearances, but God knows what happened to Rudy the Clown after he returned in Dr. Mario 64...
Gol and Maia are the duo's first major baddies, and after their defeat in the first game a return is hinted at by the Green Sage. However, the series decided to go Darker and Edgier and thus the rogue Sages were "chucked" out.
The second game introduces us to Brutter, the leader of the local Lurkers who befriends Jak and Daxter. At the end of the game, he seems to be working for Ashelin as captain of the New Krimzon Guard, but he is nowhere to be seen in Jak 3. Admittedly, Brutter does make a short appearance in the Daxter spin-off, but since that game is set before Jak II it doesn't explain what happened to him between Jak II and 3.
The second game also had the Crocadog, a Mix-and-Match Critter that Jak seemingly adopts as his pet in the end. He is never seen or referenced after Jak II.
Jak's uncle in the first game. While Jak was born in the future and thus he can't be his real uncle it feels a bit weird how after delivering the orbs to him he is never mentioned again. You'd think that he'd care a bit more about Jak's adventuring since he probably raised him.
Ottsel Veger is adopted by Kleiver as a sidekick, yet vanishes entirely by Jak X and is never mentioned again. His fate is unknown, but hopefullyveryunpleasant.
Ys: Lilia, after being Demoted to Extra, disappears from the series after IV, as well as several other major characters from I and II. Subverted with Dogi, who is oddly absent from V, but returns in VI, as does old man Raba. Also, what happened to Terra between VI and Seven?
A handful of the characters from the very first Street Fighter are nowhere to be found. At first Ryu, Ken, and Sagat were the only ones to return, then the Alpha series brought back Birdie, Gen, and Adon. Eagle made an appearance in Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium. To this day, however, Geki, Retsu, Lee, Mike, and Joe are all but disowned from the series (well, maybe not Mike, who is widely hypothesized to be "Mike Bison"/Balrog).
The comics have had some fun with these. Lee reappears in the Sakura Ganbaru manga as an opponent for Sakura, and in UDON's comics, reappears to challenge Fei Long and is stated to be the uncle of Yun and Yang. Also in UDON's comics, Geki attempts to assassinate Gen, and in the Ibuki miniseries, "Geki" is retconned to be the name of a ninja clan, not an individual, which has a rivalry with Ibuki's clan.
Most of the Street Fighter III cast would qualify, too. The popular ones would go on to appear in other Street Fighter games (Yun, Ibuki, Makoto, Dudley) and crossovers (Alex, Yun, Urien, Elena and Hugo—who is technically not from SF III, but still counts) but most of them were lucky to even appear as cameos or warrant passing mentions in character storylines. Part of the problem, it should be said, is the long lull in Capcom fighting game releases prior to Street Fighter IV.
The characters who debuted in Street Fighter EX have never appeared in another Street Fighter game outside of the EX series. The fact that the characters are joint-owned by Capcom and developer Arika may have something to do with it (though a few have made the occasional cameo in other Arika games, and the company started work on a game featuring the EX-only cast.)
One of the most unusual cases within the EX series was a character called Hayate, a young Japanese swordsman. He appeared as a newcomer in EX 2, but was mysteriously removed from the updated version of the game. The PS1 port returned him to the roster as a secret character, but after that, he never appeared again (and was the only character from EX 2 to not return for EX 3). There was a persistent rumour that he had been killed off between the two games, but no, he simply vanished entirely without a trace.
A potential explanation for Hayate is that Capcom removed the character because they couldn't sell EX 2 in Korea due to that country's hatred of samurainote The same reason Namco created Arthur, a blond British totally-not-a-samurai, to replace Mitsurugi in certain versions of Soul Calibur; he does stay around in another way, as his Super Combos were given to Garuda as his Meteor Combo.
Mortal Kombat: All of the characters from Special Forces and Mythologies: Sub-Zero who haven't appeared in a Fighting Game before (Sareena had a playable appearance in a portable version of Deadly Alliance called Tournament Edition) didn't made the cut for Armageddon.
Except Sareena's two partners in Mythologies; they appear in Konquest Mode of Armageddon as minibosses.
Tremor later resurfaced in playable for the PS Vita release of Mortal Kombat (2011) due to immense fan demand, however.
In World of Warcraft, Calia Menethil, heir to the throne of Lordaeron, disappeared without trace shortly before Warcraft III. It is speculated that she has taken the name of Calia Hastings and is currently working for the Stormwind SI:7 spy agency, but this is based solely on the One Steve Limit.
If Calia Hastings was the missing Princess of Lordaeron, she's either dead, or double-dipping in this trope since the destruction of Theramore just prior to Mists of Pandaria.
A Q&A with Warcraft's creative devs had them answer all "where are they now" questions with a general "we have plans and don't want to spoil them" answer.
In the RPG books, Brann Bronzebeard lampshades this, briefly mentioning that he's not sure where Calia is and that he'll have to look into it.
Ultimately all Jossed in Legion. Calia makes an appearance as one of the Priest class's champions, having taken up the life of a discipline priest. It's even lampshaded that it's a big deal that she's here but that they aren't going to discuss it much.
Also a large number of NPCs in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Overlaps with Never Found the Body in some cases.
The black dragon Sabellian, as the only one of his race who doesn't seem to have a problem with the player races, is conspicuously absent from all the events surrounding the return of his father Deathwing, the destruction of the rest of the black dragonflight as incurably corrupted, and the birth of his uncorrupted brother Wrathion. Possibly he decided he wanted no part of the whole thing and just stayed in Outland. It was later confirmed that Sabellian is still alive and Wrathion simply doesn't know about him.
Believed to have moved away from the family mansion in 'King Abaddon'. It is inhabited by ghosts as a side mission.
Magma is the point-of-view character and saves the planet in X-Men Legends but isn't even mentioned in its sequel.
Happens to quite a few characters in Vanguard Bandits due to the branching paths in the game. A important ally in one path can disappear into the ether on the next.
Crash Bandicoot: Because executives at Sony were uncomfortable with her "sexual" character design, Crash's girlfriend Tawna was axed after the first game, replaced instead by hacker sister Coco. Yes, apparently, Crash has a little sister that he was never told about. After a ten year absence Tawna made a reappearance as a playable character in the DS party game Crash Boom Bang!. The game manual explaining that she dumped Crash for Pinstripe Potoroo some time after the first game.
Baby T., the baby T-rex from Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, has never made another significant appearance after that game, even though the ending implies that Crash took him back to the present and he joined Polar and Purra as Crash and Coco's pets.
LEGO Island was hit with this hard. Let's see, we had Captain D. Rom, Enter and Return, the Funbergs, Polly Gone, Studs Linkin, all of the flying Legondos (excluding Jack O'Trades), and the two workers.
Dynasty Warriors 6 was notorious for cutting some of the roster and relegating twenty-four of the remaining forty-one characters to "Free Mode only" (having no Musou Mode storyline and cutscenes, though its PS2 re-release converted six of them to Musou Mode, for a total of twenty-three Musou Mode characters and eighteen Free Mode only), but in Dynasty Warriors 7 when all of them were brought back except Zuo Ci and Pang De. The former was an inconsequential Daoist mystic, but the latter a notable warrior who'd participated in several key battles and brought his own coffin to his final military campaign ("win or die," literally), only to not be mentioned at all in the game, which KOEI explained was due to "certain storyline constraints" (namely, that they didn't have room for him in the direction they were taking the story). In a subversion, however, Pang De reappears in Xtreme Legends, which made it look like the trope was a harbinger for his eventual return.
Samurai Warriors has an egregious example with Goemon Ishikawa, who has never been seen again after the first game. And after the second game, Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki never appeared either. However, along with Zuo Ci, the three are still present in Warriors Orochi. Zuo Ci would later appear in Dynasty Warriors 8, while Goemon, Mushashi, and Kojiro would appear in Samurai Warriors 4.
General Vladimir, who was an important supporting character in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, is nowhere to be seen in Yuri's Revenge, the game's expansion pack.
Dragon halfling Halfas in Dragon Valor is nowhere to be seen after chapter five, despite the fact that his actions drive the plot of chapter four (either killing the Sacrificial Lion or cursing the character to die in a month).
The Wave Race series has the four races from Wave Race 64 appear... except for Miles Jeter, who just didn't come back without an explanation.
In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Flak and Adder are completely absent from the story, though they are playable after you beat the campaign. This may have been because of how similar they are to newcomers Jugger and Koal, who have actual bearing on the story.
Loading the first pre-made neighbourhood included in The Sims 2, the player is greeted with a short slide show which informs them that this particular neighbourhood's story picks up twenty-five years after that of the default neighbourhood in the first game. Members or descendants of four of the five original base game families are there (as well as one or two of the families from later expansion packs). But Chris Jones and Melissa Smith (a.k.a. Chris and Melissa Roomies), who were at least as important and popular with the fans as the other characters - they're simply not there, nor do they even turn up in later expansions as some others eventually did.
Final Fantasy VI: Most of the first half of the game is spent working with the Returners, including the old man Arvis who's the first non-Imperial you speak to and Banon, their leader. You last see the two of them in the ruins of the Imperial capital, Vector. Kefka's ascension and the destruction of the world might have killed them, but they're simply never seen or mentioned again.
In the Kingdom Hearts series, we've got a whole world that is permanently retconned out of series: Deep Jungle. This is justified, as Disney could no longer secure the rights to the franchise. In the dreams at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, when Jafar mentions that Sora's found a Keyhole, the following scene is Sora sealing the one for Agrabah (after Jafar's defeat), when he actually said it after the one for Deep Jungle was sealed.
In the ending of the Decepticon version of the DS game for the 2007 Transformers movie, the player's last words imply that Megatron is the only Transformer still alive. While all of the Autobots and most of the Decepticons are killed on screen, Brawl is never seen again after he kills Ironhide.
The last we see of Connor in Assassin's Creed III is a melancholy postscript with Davy Crockett. None of the games since have ever explained what became of him since. (One of them hints that he had a turbulent marriage and suffered a brutal death, but there are no specifics.) As he's one of UbiSoft's least popular characters and there are no plans to develop him any further, it's likely we'll never know.
Pichu and Young Link are gone completely. One of Pichu's costumes was integrated into Pikachu's available costume set while Young Link was replaced with Toon Link. Other clones remained, and started getting differentiated.
Brawl added Snake and Wolf who are also both completely gone. This may make sense for the former, whose series is almost exclusively on competitor platforms and it may have been difficult to secure the rights for him.
Due to hardware limitations on the 3DS version, the Ice Climbers are gone from 4, even for the Wii U version.
Averted in the case of Mewtwo, Roy, and Lucas. Not only did Mewtwo and Lucas get trophies when they were cut from the initial roster in 4 (the former of which also got one in Brawl where he was also missing from) which is more than other cut characters can say, they also were both announced to be DLC characters due to popular demand. As for Roy, although he didn't receive a trophy in the vanilla game, he returned as a DLC character as well despite his relative unpopularity in his home series due to being a fan favorite in Smash. Doctor Mario also averts this, having been missing from Brawl but being back to be included in 4 from the start.
The Wii U and 3DS games make almost no mention of Tabuu whatsoever. The most he gets is the return of his boss battle music as a selectable track for Final Destination, and even that doesn't reference him by name.
Pokemon Trainer appeared in Brawl but not in the sequel. His Charizard became his own character but in turn Squirtle and Ivysaur are absent.
The Animal Friends and Gooey were prominently featured in Kirby's Dream Land 2 and Kirby's Dream Land 3 with Gooey even being upgraded to Kirby's sidekick in 3. Kirby 64 replaced them with Adeline, Ribbon, and an unnamed Waddle Dee ally. However, ever since Sakurai left the series, all these characters have effectively vanished from the main cast and are only acknowledged through trophies in Super Smash Bros. or in-game references. Ribbon could be justified in that she lives on a completely different planet while the unnamed Waddle Dee's role has effectively been filled by Bandana Waddle Dee with many theorizing that they are in fact the same character. Part of the problem comes from the fact that Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64 were directed by a relatively obscure developer named Shinichi Shimomura, who himself is a victim of this trope. He had a number of developmental roles throughout the franchise's history up until Nightmare in Dream Land before outright vanishing from public eye; though what happened to him currently remains unknown with no proven conclusions, one commonly circulated rumor stipulates that he passed away in 2003.
Rick, Coo, and Kine, the original animal friends have made cameos in recent games, but the three Animal Friends introduced in Dream Land 3 are still nowhere to be found.
Meta Knight is strangely absent from numerous Kirby games between Kirby's Return To Dream Land and Kirby: Planet Robobot, despite being one of the most recurring (and popular) characters in the series otherwise. Though it could be somewhat averted in that the Mirror Dimension counterpart of Meta Knight is an extra boss in Kirby Triple Deluxe.
Mass Effect's Corporal Toombs appears in the first game if you chose the sole survivor background, and depending on your choices, will live to send you an e-mail in the second. After that however, he disappears without anymore mention.
Kogoro and Mii, the two original protagonists of the first Project X Zone, are briefly mentioned at the end of Chapter 37 of the second game. It's revealed that Mii, despite being a high school student, is currently an intern at Shinra while Kogoro works at Shinra's intelligence division.
Ratchet & Clank is rather notorious for this, since most of the supporting cast from the previous games just cease to exist in the newer ones. If your name is not Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, Doctor Nefarious or The Plumber, chances are you'll either be Demoted to Extra, get a throwaway mention or just disappear altogether.
Kao the Kangaroo series has a habit of not keeping any of the friends Kao makes between games. His kangaroo friends from the first game are absent in the second and third, and all the animals from Round 2 are missing from the third (aside from some pelicans that we never met before).