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Absentee Actor
Princess Clara: Have you noticed we haven't been getting any screen time this week?
Toot: Well, uh, duh! That's because we've been in the basement all week making this awesome potato gun!
Drawn Together, "Captain Hero's Marriage Pact"

So you're watching your favorite show, and it has Loads and Loads of Characters. This particular week's focus is on the Beta Couple, lower decks, an icosahedron, or even the West Coast Avengers. In any event, some people we haven't seen much of or in a while are taking center stage... but what's this? Why are some of the main characters completely absent? Did their actor get sick? Pregnant? Sacked?

For some reason, we have an Absentee Actor for a character (main or bit) whose presence would be either plot-relevant or at least plausible in the episode, and is completely absent for the episode. They don't even get a non-speaking cameo even though they should be involved with the plot at hand, or at least present in the location. It stretches belief for Bob and Alice to have a long chat in Mary's Bar and there be no Mary in sight (especially since it turns out she and Alice were just revealed to be fraternal twins separated at birth last episode).

The reason usually has something to do with Real Life. Maybe the actor is sick or otherwise unavailable — but not so unavailable that the writers have to drop a bridge on them or put them on a round trip bus. Maybe the producers need to save money and can't afford to pay them for the episode (hey, every penny saved goes to pay for that big CGI-laden Season Finale!) - in fact, some actors' contracts restrict them to appearing in only a certain number of episodes each season. After all, you get days off work - sometimes actors do, too! Maybe there was just nothing for the character to do that episode. If it's a Lower Deck Episode then it could easily be said the character was just doing something else that day, but usually explanations for the absence given in show are way too flimsy to explain a total absence — just how unavailable can Captain Picard be if he's at the hair salon for this week's crisis?

See also Fake Shemp. Compare Written-In Absence, where they at least write in a (flimsy) reason for the character not to be there. Contrast with Promotion to Opening Titles, when an actor that has been present starts getting acknowledged in the credits.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Digimon Xros Wars can be pretty bad at this at times. Especially with Beelzebumon, who despite stating that he'll always be somewhere near Taiki to help out if he ever needs him, still has a tendency to be completely absent for several episodes straight with no explaination given. Gets even weirder when one considers that his voice actor Daisuke Kishio voiced at least two other recurring characters in the show, and even in episodes where Beelzebumon didn't appear, one of his other roles would often be there anyway.
  • An important plot point in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, all of the main characters are never seen together, not even in the openings, when they stand side by side. And if you pay attention, you'll notice that the optimistic, enthusiastic and energetic protagonist, Kafuka Fuura, albeit, one whose smile is probably covering up her traumatic past, is almost never present during them, except for full openings, or specials. It's because she died long before the series began, and began to inhabit her classmates' bodies after they each got her donor organs, in order to stop the entire class - and probably even the whole of Japan - from comitting suicide. In the end, her entire class forget that she even existed, except from the teacher, Itoshiki Nozomu, who ends up marrying and divorcing his entire class - including Jun Kudou, the only male to be possesed by Kafuka - in order to find her. A very odd and sad end to a long running and darkly comic Gag Series.

    Comics 

    Fan Fic 
  • There are plenty of fanfics out there where the writer takes out any character that they don't like. For instance, the majority of Kingdom Hearts fanfiction doesn't actually have any Disney characters, particularly Goofy and Donald.
  • In the episode "Roughin' It" of Script Fic Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, only the titular duo is present.
    • Lampshaded in "Cyberboy", as Calvin and Hobbes argue over whether the peaceful beginning means a Breather Episode or an upcoming villain attack. Calvin believes that it can't be the former, since everyone is present - the series' Breather Episodes usually only have him and Hobbes.
  • In the The Prayer Warriors fic, "The Prayer Ponies", Rarity is the only one of the Mane Six who does not appear, and no explanation is given. By contrast, the other Prayer Warriors fics made a token effort to include the entire main cast of their respective works, even if they weren't in character.

    Film 
  • Throughout the Harry Potter films, the teachers present at the staff table in the Great Hall correspond curiously with the teachers who have scenes elsewhere in that particular installment.
    • So you'll only see Professor Trelawney at the staff table in the third and fifth films because they aren't going to hire Emma Thompson unless they have a real scene, however brief, for her to do. In that case, however, it was stated in the third book that Trelawney joining the other Professors at the staff table is a rare thing to happen anyway. The remaining seats are filled by extras who don't talk and even they change with each movie. The same goes for any scene which supposedly or should logically include "all" the teachers in the school.
    • The actor who portrayed Vincent Crabbe in the movies wasn't available for the last movie, so Gregory Goyle replaced Crabbe as the one to die from his own Fiendfyre and Blaise Zabini replaced Goyle as the Slytherin student other than Draco Malfoy who almost died from that.
  • In Recess: School's Out, Cornchip Girl and Menlo are the only major supporting characters not to appear in the film.

    Live Action TV 
  • The IT Crowd gave the minor character Richmond scurvy when Noel Fielding was unavailable for filming due to the tour schedule with The Mighty Boosh.
  • Prison Break did this to John Abuzzi who got his throat cut and disappeared for a while; the actor who portrays him, Peter Stormare, was contractually obliged to go and film some bizarre Volkswagen commercials. He came back 6 episodes later with a haircut.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica has the Cylons, robots who after rebelling designed twelve "models" of mass-produced Artificial Human bodies to infiltrate colonial society. A big part of the series' appeal was the the notion that anyone can be a Cylon, even main characters thanks to Fake Memories and sleeper personalities. However, the writers hadn't decided who all was going to be a Cylon from the get go, note  so in scenes where the Cylons are away from humans and planning the downfall of humanity, or on Cylon occupied Caprica, several of the twelve models would be completely absent. For a long time in the first and second season, the only models shown in pow-wows would be those previously revealednote , usually a 6 and 8 with maybe a 2, 4 or 5 brought in for variety. There was also a monetary factor, several of the cylons were expensive-ish Special Guest Starsnote  in addition to being extras, so showing them all would run up costs. This is why the 1s and 3s are almost completely absent except for a handful of episodes or as out of focus extras.
    • Sixes and Eights are the norm, since both actresses are stars and get paid the same regardless of how much they appear on screen. Doral seems to be the go-to "third Cylon" for most of the series, especially the early seasons.
    • Another BSG example: the "webisodes" that were produced during several of the hiatuses primarily focused on supporting/minor characters.
    • In The Plan, many of the main characters appear only in stock footage. In one bizarre instance, they edited Laura Roslin out of a scene she previously appeared in and gave her line to Col. Tigh!
  • Jericho had this happen on occasion, presumably to save on cost. This got strange when Mary, owner of the local bar who did not appear to have a hired maid or waiter, would not show up in her own bar when the episode's focus characters showed up.
  • Star Trek (particularly the Next Generation era) did this on occasion, and those shows had only seven or eight characters. Most episodes could easily work in all of them, but sometimes one would go missing; we can only assume they were in the toilet.
    • The worst offender was the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where Jake Sisko appeared in fewer than half of the episodes. Even in earlier seasons, Jake Sisko would often go missing for 4 or 5 episodes at a time. In the end, the ascended extra Morn appeared in more episodes than Jake.
      • Memory Alpha mentions in the notes for several episodes that the original, Jake-centric plot of the episode was scrapped because the actor was unavailable due to his education commitments.
    • Colm Meaney did not want to give up his film work during the filming of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so the writers allowed him to be absent for a few episodes, then return for a heavily character-centric "O'Brien must suffer" episode each season.
    • For Star Trek: Generations, they couldn't get Leonard Nimoy or DeForest Kelley (Kelley was in too poor health and he and Nimoy felt their characters had been given enough send off in the previous movie and the lines could be given to anyone else) so they got James Doohan and Walter Koenig instead. You can tell essentially no rewriting was done what with Chekov going off to Sickbay when the refugees are beamed aboard and administering a sedative to Dr. Soran. Scotty also delivered one of McCoy's lines from a previous movie: "Would you like a tranquilizer?", likely written as a Continuity Nod for DeForest Kelley. Scotty also calls Kirk "Jim", something only Spock and McCoy called him.
    • On the original series, George Takei was also missing from a string of second-season episodes because he went off to film The Green Berets.
      • Though the plan coming in that season was for Takei and Koenig to alternate due to budgetary reasons; Sulu and Chekov rarely appear together until the third season.
  • Greek had an episode where the entire ZBZ sorority had to welcome back a former member to re-instate her. ZBZ member (and main character) Rebecca Logan did not appear in the episode. Nor did a few other extra ZBZ members that would've been seen in such a ceremony. (This might have been justified if it excused pledges if other recurring pledge characters weren't also seen in the ceremony.)
    • Also, not surprisingly in a show about fraternities and sororities, there are many episodes without Rusty's non- and anti-Greek roommate Dale.
  • Sam Puckett in iCarly during the episode iWon't Cancel The Show. It was created due to Jennette McCurdy being in the hospital for an operation.
  • In the early years of the original Doctor Who, filming went nearly year-round so characters - including the Doctor - were often written out of episodes to give the actors a vacation.
    • K9 would frequently be left out of stories in the Tom Baker era due to lack of anything for him to do (and the cast and crew disliking the character). K9's absence in particular one story was because the writer of the script, Terry Nation (who was also the creator of the Daleks), didn't want the robot dog to go up against his most famous creations. So K9 was given "laryngitis" for an episode, and was forced to stay behind in the TARDIS. K9 was also left out sometimes because they were filming in a location the K9 prop would have great difficulty rolling over—e.g. a swamp, a rock quarry etc.
    • Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) was left out of "Kinda" because she was wasn't written in it and the writer did not want to change the plot to include her.
    • In one episode story "Mission to the Unknown", the Doctor and his companions are completely missing. William Hartnell is still credited, because of the terms of his contract. The actors playing Steven and Vicki, however, weren't so lucky.
    • "The Celestial Toymaker" pits the Doctor against a villain who turns him first invisible and intangible, and then mute, except for his hand. This meant he could be portrayed with a spot of ADR and a hand double for the effects shots, and get some much-needed time off.
    • For an example where the character should logically have been there but wasn't, the Doctor's army in "A Good Man Goes To War" was supposed to include Captain Jack Harkness, but John Barrowman was unavailable.
  • Stargate SG-1 tended to do this a lot in its later seasons. Hell, Jack O'Neill did this for almost the entirety of the eighth season.
    • And then there was one episode "Nemesis", where Daniel Jackson has only a minor part in the beginning, when he was out of action due to appendicitis. The real Michael Shanks had been unable to feature in this episode for the same reason, so they added that first scene in later while he was still recovering.
    • Notably, as of season six, only one main cast member didn't miss an episode: Christopher Judge. He missed his first one that season, but he's still the SG-1 member with the most episodes under his belt.
    • Aside from a brief video appearance, Amanda Tapping was absent for the opening five episodes of Season 9 due to being in the final stages of pregnancy at the time. In order to avoid carrying an all-male cast for that stretch, they reintroduced Claudia Black's guest character, Vala Mal Doran, from Season 8 for those episodes, who eventually also then became a series regular for Season 10.
  • The X-Files:
    • Dana Scully's actor Gillian Anderson got pregnant in late season 1, inspiring the famous UFO abduction plot in season 2.
    • Season 5 episodes' absenteeisms are explained because of the filming of the first movie.
    • Other reasons included commitments to unrelated projects. Episode "Hungry" of season 7 was the first one narrated from the monster's point of view, and the episode even played with shots of the leads' doubles. The stars were both unavailable, shooting other films.
    • When one of the lead actors directed and/or wrote an episode, they almost invariably focused entirely on their own character, leaving the partner character either barely there or literally absent (e.g. Duchovny's "The Unnatural" or Anderson's "all things").
    • David Duchovny did not want to stay in the production after season 7, so Mulder disappeared for more than half episodes of season 8. He was also absent for whole season 9 and returned only for the series finale.
  • So frequent on Babylon 5, that wikis note which regulars appear in each episode, instead of which ones are missing as usual. It wasn't until a couple of seasons in that a normal episode featured every regular.
  • The final seasons of The West Wing rotated the cast on a frequent basis to save on costs, to the point where all the main cast appearing in the credits of an episode (for Leo McGarry's funeral episode) was something of a noteworthy event.
  • Only the first season of LOST featured any actors that were in every episode. From season 2 on, each actor misses at least one episode, if not more. Sometimes it's explained...but usually not. Worse than Miles's fate being left in the air after getting a grenade stuck in his mouth for half the season, Jin holds the record for missing episodes-he's gone in six episodes in a row in season 3, not appearing even after his wife Sun begins to again.
    • Even worse with fan favorite Richard Alpert, who appears greatly in season 3 and then drops off the face of the Earth (or the island) in season 4. The reason? Nestor Carbonell became a regular on a competing TV series, Cane. Luckily, the writer's guild strike cancelled Cane and Richard was able to return.
    • Claire Littleton was the first main character to miss an episode and appeared much less often than the other original characters and rarely had much to do when she did. She missed season 5 entirely before returning in season six.
    • Desmond in season 5 beats Jin's; he's prominent in the first half of the season, then only appears in two more episodes...both brief, and both with almost no lines. Irritating, since while the series juggled the 1977 and 2007 Island plotlines rather well, he's just left there. In fact, he's in less episodes than guest stars Richard & Phil and ties with Ilana and Radzinsky (...all four of which received more screen time than him).
      • Henry Ian Cusick is listed in the credits on every episode of season six. He appeared in about 30 seconds of the premiere, reappears in episode ten, and appears in a grand six more episodes, some of them only as his flash-sideways counterpart.
    • Ilana was made a regular, but only appears roughly every other episode until she's unceremoniously blown up. One cameo after that, and she vanishes; not even in the finale. This is due to her entire storyline becoming an Aborted Arc due to a lack of time.
  • Anna in Chuck is increasingly absent from episodes she has no large role in.
    • In Season 3 Julia Ling, who plays Anna, has left the cast, turning this into a very drawn out version of Put on a Bus
    • Due to budget cuts for season 3, the only characters that will appear in all episodes are Chuck, Sarah and Casey. So there are episodes where Awesome, Ellie, Morgan, Buymorians and even the special guest star played by Brandon Routh are conspicuously absent. The one that disappeared the most seems to be Big Mike, who would sometimes vanish even when lots of action took place in the Buy More or all the other Buy More people appeared.
  • On Get Smart Don Adams was unavailable for the episode "Ice Station Sigfried" so Maxwell Smart's place was taken by a CIA agent named Quigly, played by Adams' friend Bill Dana. You can tell that very little rewriting was done to the script, and the writers simply gave Maxwell Smart's lines to Quigly.
  • On The Young And The Restless, there was a big storyline involving Drucilla learning that her daughter Lily was not fathered by her husband Neil, but her brother-in-law Malcolm whom she mistook for Neil due to being doped up on cough medicine. However, by the time this storyline kicked into high gear, the actor playing Malcolm left the show and they never recast the character.
    • Absenteeism is a fact of life on soaps, especially when you have octogenarian actors who have been on the show for decades. All My Children, As the World Turns, and Days of Our Lives all had/have actors in their late eighties who are kept on minimal contracts as a courtesy, even though they may go years—literally—between appearances.
    • This often happens on the soaps, for a variety of reasons. It is most often due to an actress' maternity leave (particularly if her pregnancy was not written into the show. It can also happen because of contract negotiations (the reason that the aforementioned Drucilla disappeared for a time), or if a late-teens actor is heading off to college, the character is sent off as well.
  • The eighth season of Scrubs did this as a cost-cutting measure, in addition to a smaller-than-usual writing team. Certain main characters especially Carla have been missing, in one instance because she was 'out of town' but in another she was mentioned several times as being there but just didn't appear on screen.
    • Every character is absent for at least one episode in the eighth season. It gets really noticeable when there are whole episodes without JD, the star of the show. One episode only featured his voice, as he talked to Turk and Elliot on the phone. One scene had Turk upset to find that JD has gone to Disneyland without him.
      • Strangely, Turk appears in more episodes than JD, according to IMDB, as a result of his actor being absent a number of times that season. He eventually leaves the show in season 9.
  • The 7th Season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had Gil Grissom go on a four-week sabbatical because William Petersen took some time off to do theater. He was "replaced" by Michael Keppler (Liev Schreiber) during his absence.
    • There was also "Gum Drops" a bit earlier, which had Grissom absent due to William Petersen attending a funeral, but I don't recall his absence being explained. That said, many eps have had missing characters without much explanation.
    • More recently, Jorja Fox is the Absentee Actor quite a bit, counted as a regular but not appearing in every single ep.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer was usually very good about not doing this, with regulars showing up in most episodes, even if it was just for a mandatory line. Despite that, every season but 4 contains at least one episode with a main character absent, with the examples noticeably increasing, with Anya being absent from several episodes, and Xander not appearing in a pivotal ep as well (after having been in every prior episode - in fact, this is the only episode of the entire series where he doesn't appear). None of these absences are explained on-screen.
    • Season 1: Cordelia is absent from "The Pack" and "I Robot, You Jane".
    • Season 2: Angel missed "Inca Mummy Girl".
    • Season 3: Oz is missing from "Consequences". Believed to be because Seth Green was filming the second Austin Powers movie at the time.
    • Season 4 is technically an aversion. All four characters billed as regulars for the whole season appear in every episode. Oz, Spike, and Riley are only regulars for part of the season, so their absences from certain episodes are justified.
    • Season 5: Spike does not appear in "The Body".
    • Season 6: Anya is absent from "Normal Again".
    • Season 7: Both Xander and Anya do not appear in "Conversations with Dead People", with Anya also missing "Help" and "Dirty Girls".
  • On Angel, Wesley was absent for one episode in Season Five, as Alexis Denisof was on his honeymoon. This actually played a role in the plot, as the character who replaced Wesley's skills for the episode turned out to be evil.
  • Due to the terms of his contract, Andy Kaufman (Latka) didn't appear in every episode of Taxi.
    • Judd Hirsch was also absent from an episode or two while he was filming Ordinary People.
  • There was an episode of Third Watch where a paramedic appears. Not any of the regular paramedic cast though, none of whom appear in the episode at all.
  • Pushed to extremes in season 8 of Diagnosis: Murder when either Jesse, Amanda or both were absent from nearly every episode. There are only 6 episodes of the entire season where all 4 main characters appear, and Jesse isn't even in the series finale.
  • Lily was written out of four episodes of the fourth season of How I Met Your Mother to accommodate Alyson Hannigan's maternity leave. The excuse was very clever; she got so upset at a dirty joke that Barney told that she didn't hang out with him.
    • Lampshaded as well since Future!Ted specifically states that she didn't talk to Barney for exactly four weeks when it happened.
  • On All in the Family, Norman Lear wrote the character of George Jefferson with Sherman Helmsley in mind, but when the show began in 1971 Helmsley was unavailable due to his commitment to the Broadway show Purlie. Lear promised to hold the role open for Helmsley, and got around this by a.) making George an offscreen character for the first couple of seasons and b.) creating a different character, George's brother Henry, to serve as a kind of pre-emptive Suspiciously Similar Substitute until Helmsley finally became available in season 4. (Once that happened, of course, Henry Jefferson was promptly Put on a Bus and never heard from again.)
    • Season 5 also had a three episode story arc focused on Archie disappearing on the way to an Army convention (turns out he had taken the wrong bus). This was due to Carroll O'Connor having gone on strike over a salary dispute.
  • M*A*S*H: Around the fifth or sixth season, Gary Burghoff had his contract changed to limit his appearances as Radar to 13 episodes of each 24-episode season. During these episodes, Radar was frequently said to be "away on R&R".
    • Pretty much everyone in the cast other than Alan Alda was missing for at least a couple of episodes.
    • After Larry Linville (Frank Burns) left the show, the episode following his departure had him going AWOL. To resolve the plot of "what happened to Frank?" Hawkeye receives a call from him and finds out that he was arrested, put in a hospital, and promoted, all without the presence of the actor.
  • Three's Company: In season 4, Suzanne Somers was involved in bitter contract negotiations with the show's producers, and was absent for the taping of numerous episodes (citing suspiciously vague health issues). It got to the point where the writers were forced to write two versions of each episode's script: one WITH Chrissy, and one WITHOUT Chrissy, depending on if Suzanne showed up or not. She was consequentially fired, but her role still appeared on the show in a greatly reduced role to burn off her contract, with her character "moving to Fresno to take care of her sick aunt" and essentially reduced to a cameo appearance at the end of each episode (with Chrissy shown talking on the telephone with Jack and/or Janet). A new character, Chrissy's cousin Cindy, was brought in to serve as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of sorts, Somers' contract ran out, and the character was hardly mentioned again, being permanently replaced with another replacement character: Terry. That said, to this day Chrissy is still the one most associated with the show.
  • Patrick McGoohan was away filming Ice Station Zebra for much of The Prisoner episode "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling". This was justified by having the mind of Number 6 being put into a new body.
    • The replacement also allowed them to have Number Six kiss a woman; McGoohan's contract stipulated that he would not appear in a love scene.
  • Bill Owen, one of the stars of Last of the Summer Wine, died after only partially completing three episodes for the 2000 series. In order to use what footage they had of Owen, the producers devised an excuse for his character, Compo, to leave for a while in each of the three episodes- in one, he goes to the betting shop to watch the races, and in another he goes to see his Thursday lady-friend, which becomes plot-relevant in his funeral episodes. Scenes which Owen couldn't complete were then rewritten without him. Once all Owen's footage had been used, the character of Compo died.
  • The later seasons of The Cosby Show frequently had multiple cast members absent. Technically this started as early in the second season, when Sabrina LeBeauf was added to the opening credits, but it really became noticeable later on. In fact, some recurring characters (not in the opening credits) made more appearances in certain seasons than some regulars did.
  • Desperate Housewives had Bree and Orson abruptly leave for a honeymoon in Switzerland in the middle of Season 3 - apparently months after the two were married - in order to explain away Marcia Cross's maternity leave.
  • Zoey 101: Dustin Brooks, portrayed by Paul Butcher, appears in less than half the episodes throughout the entire series' run (24 out of 65, if memory serves). The reason for this is unknown, but for whatever reason he's not always there.
  • In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Jason Frank's limited availability led them to go to great lengths when it came to keeping his face offscreen: He's one of four rangers, The Mentor, the Big Good, and yet for entire arcs he's not actually there. First, he was trapped in amber, while suited. When it was dissolved, found that he could no longer demorph, and remained this way for a very long time. Then he finally demorphed... but was now invisible (his civilian-mode power for that season.)
    • And it happened to him again when his character appeared in Power Rangers S.P.D.. To cover his absence, the character only appeared morphed and was voiced by Jeffrey Parazzo.
    • This was also why Ernie, the owner of the Angel Grove Juice Bar in the original series through Zeo was written out of the show; Richard Genelle, who portrayed the character, retired due to weight-related health problems. Continuity wise, Ernie left to do volunteer work in South America. (Lt. Stone's actual quote was, ""Well, his foreign service unit recalled him and he had to suddenly leave. I don't know, something about building a bridge in the Amazon." (On another note, Genelle successfully lost forty pounds and later founded a company called Retail Logistics Solutions, Inc. in Cerritos, California, providing transportation services.)
  • Averted in Alias with Jennifer Garner's pregnancy. Sydney simply had a baby with her in-series boyfriend and worked it into the plot, even. Nice going, writers.
    • However, the writers did add several new women to the cast in order to pick up some of the Action Girl slack, as Jennifer Garner could no longer film intricate fight scenes while pregnant. If anything, it was actually something of an inversion of this trope.
  • This also happened with Meredith Baxter-Birney on Family Ties, but not with Phylicia Rashad on The Cosby Show. Because an obstetrician/gynecologist and a lawyer who live in a two-story Manhattan brownstone and already have several children can't possibly afford another kid.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys had this occur more than once. Some episodes had Kevin Sorbo not appear in order to give Iolaus A Day in the Limelight. During the fourth season, though, health issues sidelined Sorbo for many episodes. He still appeared often with the focus was on other characters, but he doesn't appear at all in "Men in Pink," a Autolycus/Salmoneus comedic episode. (Iolaus does not appear in this episode either, but Michael Hirst still turns up in a major role. Playing a woman...)
  • Police, Camera, Action!: Gethin Jones, former Strictly Come Dancing contestant hosted a Very Special Episode entitled Drink Driving Special, which aired on 17th December 2008. Alastair Stewart and Adrian Simpson did not appear.
  • On The Nanny, Lauren Lane had to miss several episodes in the fifth season since she was giving birth. To cover this up, her character C.C. suffered a breakdown and spent those episodes in an asylum.
  • Notably averted with Friends, which may well be the crowning example. All six main characters appear in every single episode. Keep in mind this is 236 episode show, that ran for ten years and no new cast members were added. Real Life Writes the Plot moments were worked around, such as Lisa Kudrows pregnancy which meant she couldn't film in London (Phoebe carried on the plot over the phone), and Matthew Perry's drug addiction (Chandler worked in Tulsa for several episodes, so his scenes could be shot separately).
  • In Are You Being Served?, after Young Mr. Grace had died and the replacement Old Mr. Grace had proved unacceptable, the writers decided to move the character permanently off-screen. The character was still around and at Grace Brothers, issuing orders via telephone or memo, but he was never seen nor heard. There was never any indication whether this "Mr. Grace" was the "Young" or the "Old" one.
  • Throughout the run of Heroes, all the main cast members skipped at least one episode with many of them usually missing one per season; even Hayden Panettiere was absent from a couple, but not many what with her having more episodes under her belt than anyone else - Panettiere is both the only cast member to appear in every season one episode and the only original cast membernote  to be in every season four show. The trope is so prevalent on Heroes that Sendhil Ramamurthy is the only other cast member to take part in all episodes of one season (he narrates all 11 episodes of season two).
    • In the fall of 2007, it was announced that Zachary Quinto would be taking a break from the show in order to film Star Trek, which would have meant several episodes without Sylar. However, the writer's strike shut down production on Heroes, so there were no episodes for Quinto to be absent from. Volume three averted this by tossing in everyone into every episode, even when they had nothing to do. Played straight by the rest of the show, however.
    • Sylar gaining shapeshifting powers may also have been an attempt to avert this, allowing the character to be present even when Quinto was unavailable.
  • This was the reason for Kendrix's death via Heroic Sacrifice on Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Valerie Vernon had to leave the show after being diagnosed with leukemia, and due to overwhelming positive response to this plot device in the previous series (where Zordon sacrificed himself to save the universe) the writers felt they were safe with it.
  • Gossip Girl roll call:
    • Both Ed Westwick (Chuck) and Chace Crawford (Nate) are absent from "Dare Devil."
      • Ed also doesn't show up in "Blair Waldorf Must Pie!," "Roman Holiday" and "All About My Brother."
      • Chace, meanwhile, is similarly missing from "The Serena Also Rises," "Bonfire Of The Vanity" and "In The Realm Of The Basses."
    • Jessica Szohr (Vanessa) was promoted to a series regular for season two, but she doesn't appear in the season two premiere "Summer, Kind Of Wonderful," and in fact is absent from several other shows throughout seasons two (she misses seven in all), three (five) and four (six). But she does turn up for the fourth season finale - when Vanessa was Put on a Bus.
    • Both Taylor Momsen (Jenny) and Kelly Rutherford (Lily) are AWOL from the season three premiere "The Freshmen."
      • Taylor is also missing from season one's "Bad News Blair," "School Lies" and "Woman on the Verge," and in the first half of season four she only appears in four episodes - "Gaslit" was her final episode before leaving - although she remains listed in the credits for the entire season and like Jessica Szohr and Connor Paolo (and several other performers), she comes Back for the Finale.
      • Kelly, meanwhile is the only regular cast member to miss at least one episode of every season, including the premieres of seasons two, three as mentioned above (due to maternity leave and personal issues) and five.
    • Matthew Settle (Rufus), on the other hand, is only absent from two episodes in the entire run - season five's "The Fugitives" and season six's "High Infidelity."
      • Which leaves Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley and the uncredited voice of Kristen Bell as the only cast members with a 100% attendance record.
  • Dawson's Creek is named after the title character played by James Van Der Beek; he does not, however, appear in all 128 episodes. He is missing from season five's "Downtown Crossing" and a few season six episodes. In fact the only credited regular who does appear in every episode is Katie Holmes, who plays Joey Potter.
  • Not every episode of Mission: Impossible contains the full complement of IMF regulars. In season one's "Elena", the only IMF member involved in the mission is Rollin (although Briggs appears in the first few scenes, he does not directly participate in the mission itself). And in "Action!", Briggs does not appear at all thanks to Steven Hill's behind-the-scenes behaviour.
    • In fact, no one appears in every episode of the original version (unlike in the revival, where the full team appears in each show).
  • The original version of Survivors had this throughout Season Two, with various characters "off gathering salt".
  • NCIS usually includes everyone in the main cast (minus whoever's playing the NCIS director) in every episode, which makes Ducky's absence in "Legend (2)" (the second part of the NCIS: Los Angeles pilot episodes) all the more noticeable. Bonus points for the fact that this was first time a main character introduced in the JAG back-door pilot episodes missed an NCIS episode (Thomas Morrow was never a main character and Vivian Blackadder never appeared in the series itself).
  • In the first seasons of Bewitched, Dick York had gotten injured and could not stand during the filming of the show. So, the writers constantly had to either transform him into different items like a monkey or have him out of town on business.
  • The Monkees: Davy Jones was written out of one episode (“Alias Micky Dolenz”) in order to attend his sister’s wedding in England.
    • Michael Nesmith was also notably written out of a few episodes in the second season: He was absent due to both a tonsillectomy and the birth of his son, Jonathan.
  • Monk:
    • There are three episodes ("Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum," "Mr. Monk and the Game Show," and "Mr. Monk Gets Stuck in Traffic") where Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher do not make on-screen appearances.
    • There are a few episodes ("Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation," "Mr. Monk Gets Married," "Mr. Monk Is Underwater," among others) where Randy appears but Stottlemeyer does not appear.
    • "Mr. Monk and the UFO" marks the only episode where Stottlemeyer still appears but Randy is absent.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Game Show" is actually a unique case as it was a filler episode made during contract disputes with Bitty Schram, Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford. Because of this, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher do not appear on-screen at all (though Monk's first scene has him speaking on the phone with Sharona), and of the regular cast members, only Tony Shalhoub appears. The assistant part ends up going to Monk's talkative upstairs neighbor Kevin Dorfman (Jarrad Paul).
  • Charmed had this occur during the tumultuous Season Eight due to budgetary constraints. Brian Krause's episode count was drastically slashed, leading to Leo Wyatt appearing in only the first ten episodes and a return for the final two episodes became examples of this trope. The void in-between was explained by a convoluted plot where Leo was supposed to die, but (via a deal the sisters make with an Angel of Destiny) is instead simply frozen in a block of ice. Bad as that might've been, Dorian Gregory fared worse - being cut altogether and it being stated that Darryl Morris moved back east with his family. Curiously, this trope is not invoked in the first few episodes of the season where the sisters cast a spell to make themselves and Leo look like different people. (Other characters see them that way, but viewers see their true selves.)
    • This happened during the previous seven seasons, though not for the exact same budgetary constraints. During their respective tenures, Cole, Andy, Chris and Dan missed a handful of episodes. Even after being promoted to main cast half-way through Season 2, Leo missed a few episodes over the next five years. Darryl had it even worse, though. He doesn't appear in even half of Season 5, for example.
  • In Highlander: The Series, Duncan MacLeod appears in only half the Season 6 episodes. Actor Adrian Paul may have been losing interest, but Duncan also steps aside so a series of Immortal females "auditioning" for a spin-off could be introduced. Sometimes Duncan only appears in an episode to bed one of the women, an "old friend."
  • For most of Season 3 of Farscape, the cast was split into two groups with alternating episodes focusing on each group with Crichton being the only character that was in both sets of episodes.
    • Season 4 experimented a little with this. For example, after the characters are largely separated at the end of Season 3, the first five episodes focus on the crew coming back together.
  • The first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 suffered from this. Before the creative team behind the show got a budget and were moved to cable, they were just a local cable access show and they shot the movie segments live. Thus, if one of the crew had to be out of town for any reason, they'd do something in the host segments to explain it. For example, when Joel had to be in Hollywood for a meeting, his character was explained by the bots to have gone outside the ship to do routine maintenance, which they then quickly forget about. Later, they notice that he's not back yet and look out the window to see a Ken doll in a jumpsuit and space helmet floating outside, suggesting that Joel had lost his grip and was floating away. Similarly, there's an episode where both puppeteers were unavailable and Joel spent the entire episode alone in the theatre.
  • A strange example in Wizards of Waverly Place. In season 4, Max (Jake T. Austin) has been turned into a girl through magic (and thus played by a female actress) for most of it due to Jake T. Austin taking a break for school.
    • David DeLuise would miss a few episodes every season, usually with a reference to Jerry being out of town. Sometimes this was because DeLuise would be directing an episode.
    • David Henrie does not partake in the reunion special.
  • Kaley Cuoco's fondness for horseriding led her to unintentionally give new meaning to the saying "Break a leg" on both 8 Simple Rules and The Big Bang Theory. The former wrote her injury into the show; the latter led to one or two "Penniless" episodes (as an E4 continuity announcer put it).
  • In one episode of The Bill, actor Andrew Mac Intosh (DS Alistair Grieg) was sick; whenever it was reasonable to expect that he'd be called on to take part in the investigation, DI Burnside would ask where he was and be told he was in the loo. Cue many sarcastic remarks from Burnside...
  • On Sonny With A Chance, the Show Within a Show So Random! was defictionalized due to the lead actress leaving the show for rehab.
  • The western Bonanza theoretically centered on a father and his three sons. However, Pernell Roberts, who played the oldest son Adam, left the show in 1965 and Dan Blocker - the middle son Hoss - died in 1972 (his passing is widely considered a factor in the series' cancellation the following year). Therefore, there are entire seasons in which Adam is "away;" in his absence, various ranch hands, long-lost nephews, and adoptive sons join the family. Hoss is implied to have died offscreen: the father looks at a picture of him while trying to console another grieving character. However, the family does not visibly mourn for Hoss or refer to any of his past adventures, nor do they write to, visit, or talk about Adam.
  • In Season VIII of Red Dwarf, the crew were suddenly returned to life. This meant Captain Hollister returned (as a regular), as did Lister's friends Selby and Chen (as guest stars). However Olaf Petersen, Lister's best friend and the character most often seen in flashbacks to before the accident, was mentioned twice but never appeared.
  • For the first three seasons, every member of the study group appeared in every episode of Community. However, non-study-group series regulars Ken Jeong and (as of season three) Jim Rash are frequently absent, and Chevy Chase does not appear in season four's "Intro To Knots" and "Heroic Origins."
  • Lois and Clark episode "Soul Mates" had the case lampshaded by Lois Lane stating she expected Lex Luthor to be the villain of the problem she and Clark had to solve. It would have been Luthor but John Shea, the actor who portrayed him in that series, wasn't available when the episode was filmed.
  • Supporting characters in Andromeda would often be absent in first season episodes, given the relatively small cast they frequently had in-character explanations (Harper in a surfing competition, Rev Bem at a spiritual retreat...) in episode 12 their frequent absences was even lampshaded by Captain Hunt.
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Pen," when Jerry and Elaine visit Jerry's parents in Florida, does not have Kramer and George. However, this had nothing to do with actor availability; the show at this point was simply not being written with the mindset that all four characters would appear in every episode. Jason Alexander, who played George, let it be known that he was not happy about being excluded, and that he would quit if he were ever written out of an episode again. Kramer is also absent from "The Chinese Restaurant", but "The Pen" would be the only Costanza-free episode of the series. Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn't in "The Seinfeld Chronicles" (the pilot), which was shot before she was cast, and due to her pregnancy midway through the series is also absent from both parts of "The Trip." In fact, only one cast member appears in every episode (no prizes for guessing who).
  • In season one of Once Upon a Time Robert Carlyle is absent from only three episodes, whereas fellow regular Raphael Sbarge only appears in 10 out of 23 (one of which only has him as the voice of Jiminy Cricket) - which is significantly less than, say, Meghan Orynote  (there are only five episodes in season one where she doesn't turn up, which would explain her Promotion to Opening Titles in season two - and Sbarge getting Demoted to Extra).
    • In season two Carlyle missed three (again) but Ory is absent from 10 (in fact this trope affected all the regulars except Josh Dallas and Jared S. Gilmore, who appeared in all 22 episodes); ultimately Ory left the series, but the door's open for her return as a guest star. As of the end of season three the most frequently seen cast members are Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison, who have both appeared in all but one episode (season two's "The Crocodile").
  • If you are a cast member of Pretty Little Liars and your name is not Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale or Shay Mitchell, you can count on having at least one (and sometimes more than one) episode off.
  • In Grey's Anatomy the actress who played Lexie was absent a lot, having taking time off to spend time with family. She was eventually killed off. Arizona broke up with Callie and went to Africa for a bit because of the actress' pregnancy. She came back soon. Meredith had surgery that required her to miss work for weeks because of the actress' pregnancy, though she did make appearances, but was always shown in bed.
  • Contestants on the show Survivor appear at least on screen at some point in every single episode until they are voted out, however, due to there being many contestants on the show, it is nearly impossible to focus on every single on in an hour-long episode. As a result, some contestants are often relegated to background roles for one or more episodes, having no on-screen interviews (called "confessionals") and are completely irrelevant to the plot of the episode. In extreme cases of this, they are considered by fans to be "invisible" in the episode, indicating that they were all but completely absent from the episode.
    • Often times, contestants are so "invisible" throughout the entire season that their invisibility actually becomes a running gag with fans. Examples include Mary in season 16, Brett in season 19, Kelly S. in season 21, and Rick in season 23.
  • Ron Glass does not appear in one episode of Firefly.
    • Due to her one scene with dialogue being cut, Summer Glau only appears in "Our Mrs. Reynolds" as a background extra.
  • The first episode of Supernatural, which does not have the Impala (the Metallicar) in it is "Hollywood Babylon" (S02, Ep18).
  • The Vampire Diaries: Tyler disappears for one reason or another for large chunks of each season.
  • As well as starring in Shake It Up, Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman are the only cast members to be in every episode.
    • A.N.T. Farm: Carlon Jeffery missed many episodes of Season 1 and 2 before leaving the show. Stefanie Scott missed a few episodes as well.
    • Austin & Ally: Averted: all four main cast members have appeared in every episode to date.
    • Cory in the House: Only Kyle Massey and Rondell Sheridan have appeared in every episode. Madison Pettis and John D'Aquino missed eight episodes each. Maiara Walsh missed one and Jason Dolley missed four.
    • Pair Of Kings: Geno Segers missed many episodes. Kelsey Chow missed a few back in the day.
    • Zeke and Luther: Hutch Dano and Adam Hicks appeared in every episode. Daniel Curtis Lee missed several, as did Ryan Newman before she left the cast after season 2.
  • "Opening Night," the seventeenth episode of season five of Glee, is the first episode (and one of only two so far) in which Kevin McHale does not appear - he's the only cast member to appear in every episode up to that point.

     Puppet Shows 
  • "Cry UFO" in the series Terrahawks is notable as the only episode in which Zelda never appears.
  • ''The Muppet Show episode with guest star, Dizzy Gillespie is the only episode where Statler does not appear (Because he is sick from Swineflu and is unable to attend the show). Statler's wife, Astoria comes in with Waldorf.
    Waldorf: Hey, Kermit! Statler can't make it tonight. He is sick.
    Kermit: Sick from what?
    Waldorf: He is sick from Swine Flu. But he asked his wife if she can see the show.
    Kermit: What's his wife's name?
    Waldorf: Her name is Astoria.
  • Several Sesame Street skits have main characters not appearing. 2 of the Ask Oscar skits had one where Telly does not appear in like. Planning for Vacation (Bob fills in for Telly Monster because Telly had to go see a dentist), And the other featured a grouchy Linda filling in for Oscar.
    Telly Monster: Oh, Yeah I know, I know. You are not Oscar, You're Linda. (To viewers) You see, Oscar could not be here today. But Linda ask if she can pretend to be Oscar.
    • Sesame Street NEWS FLASH episode with Doctor Nobel Price on Talking Stick has Warren Wolf subbing for Kermit the Frog (Since Jim Henson was on Vacation in London England doing The Great Muppet Caper). In addition, The Sesame Street NEWS FLASH Thunder Cloud logo does not appear in the skit.

    Radio 
  • Believe it or not, this was the reason why kryptonite, one of the biggest threats to Superman, was conceived. In The Adventures of Superman, the actor providing his voice became sick, and couldn't perform. So the writers became clever, concocted a substance called kryptonite that weakened the Man of Steel, and had a gang of criminals use it to hold the hero hostage. For most of the storyline, the hero didn't need any dialogue, the fans only heard groans coming from the weakened captive, provided by someone else, until the actor recovered and the story was resolved. And as you know, this clever idea turned into something very big.

    Theatre 
  • On the 1776 original Broadway cast recording, Howard Da Silva is replaced by his understudy Rex Everhart. This is because Da Silva suffered a massive heart attack just before the opening of the show. He still played the opening nights, mind, but spent a month in the hospital after that.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • In video games based on anime with Loads and Loads of Characters, a lot of major characters are missing for no good reason. The Naruto video game developers apparently have forgotten that Squad 8 exists (but then again, they aren't usually given the best developers).
    • Thankfully averted in the Xbox 360 games, though generally not anywhere else.
  • Bill doesn't get any new lines in the Crash Course DLC for Left 4 Dead. The reason was because the voice actor Jim French couldn't be contacted. Likewise, in The Passing, Bill was dead, so he got no lines there, either. They made darn well sure to avert this for The Sacrifice, however.

    Web Animation 
  • In Homestar Runner email "anything", Strong Bad doesn't appear in email despite them being his email. Instead, it's answered by Homestar.
    • Ironic, since all of the characters (except Marzipan) are voiced by the same person.

    Web Original 
  • In Philthon Jones, "Emergency Appeal" was caused by Jones not turning up to a recording session.
  • Poor Donut. Misses an entire season of Red vs. Blue, and reappears only to seemingly be shot to death because the voice actor had other priorities. Thankfully, the writers were able to pop him back in for a few episodes of seasons 9 and 10, and it looks like he's back for good in season 11.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park:
    • None of the main boys appear at all in "Not Without My Anus", "Pip", and "A Million Little Fibers". There have also been a few episodes were one or some of the boys are absent throughout.
    • Kyle, Kenny and Cartman don't appear in "More Crap"; and Cartman is the only one of the main four to make any appearance in "The Ungroundable".
  • In Arthur, the episodes Arthur does not appear in are "Poor Muffy (Except for the episode introduction)" "Prunella Sees the Light", "Fern Fern and the Secret of Moose Mountain", "Thanks a Lot, Binky!", "Big Horns George", "My Fair Tommy", and "World Girls".
    • In the episodes "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked" and "Best of the Nest", Jane and David Read do not appear.
  • Marge appears but doesn't get a single line in The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled", although Julie Kavner still gets a credit. (Both she and Harry Shearer objected to what they saw as an episode heavily built around guest stars, thus explaining their [characters'] absence.)
    • On the other hand, "Four Great Women And A Manicure" has the distinction of being the first (and so far only) Bart-free episode.
    • Also, "Chief of Hearts" is the first episode in which Lisa has no dialogue (although as with "Krusty Gets Kancelled" above, Yeardley Smith is still credited), leaving Homer the only talking character who appears in all episodes of this show.
    • Maggie also appears in nearly every episode, but with the exceptions of "Lisa's First Word," "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", one of the "Treehouse Of Horror" episodes and the aforementioned "Four Great Women And A Manicure" (speaking with a different voice on each occasion), she has no dialogue. However in recent seasons, Maggie has been absent from episodes such as "The Mook, The Chef, The Wife And Her Homer", "Stealing First Base", "American History X-cellent", "Flaming Moe", "A Midsummer's Nice Dream", and "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts", due to being a baby and having little free-range in episodes that focus in secondary characters, locations that are usually exclusive to Homer, Bart, and Lisa, or when no subplots revolving around Marge or the Simpson house are present.
  • Most episodes of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers have at least one Ranger absent, and a mid-season run of episodes focusing on Doc and Niko. Some of this was likely due to Jerry Orbach (Zachary) filming Dirty Dancing at the time, as well as giving Doug Preis (Goose) room to voice roles on Thundercats and Silverhawks but most of this was deliberate on the part of the writers, who placed much more emphasis on character development than most animated series from The Eighties.
  • In The Transformers, actors would generally get paid for every three characters, so if they wanted to play six characters, they'd need to be paid an additional amount, so on, so forth. Unfortunately, Transformers has Loads and Loads of Characters. For actors with only one or two regular characters (such as Peter Cullen, Dan Gilvezan, etc.), this wasn't a problem. But for actors with a large number of roles (such as Michael Bell, Corey Burton, and especially Frank Welker), it meant that many of their characters would either be absent or have no lines. This is somewhat conspicuous in the movie; Michael Bell provides the voices for Scrapper, Swoop, and Junkion, but Bombshell and Prowl have no lines. In addition, another one of his characters (Sideswipe) is absent. Frank Welker has 9 roles (Megatron, Soundwave, Wheelie, Junkion, and Soundwave's five cassettes), and three of his other characters appear without a single word (Skywarp, Sludge, and Mixmaster), two (Mirage and Trailbreaker) are nowhere to be seen. Another one, which is not related to his voice actor being unavailable (since he also voices Shrapnel, who speaks in the movie), is Snarl, who does not appear for most of the movie, only showing up for a few short scenes.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series.
    • Interestingly, the episode "The Slaver Weapon" features the only example in any 'canonical' The Original Series work (aside from the original pilot episode) where Captain James T. Kirk does not appear at all. The episode instead focuses entirely on the landing party of Spock, Uhura and Sulu, something which was actually impossible on the live-action Star Trek. After all, William Shatner was the star, and had a contractual guarantee that his character would always be front and centre in every episode. Which explains a lot.
    • Walter Koenig (Chekov) was missing from the entire series because they couldn't afford to pay him. Instead, he worked as a writer on the show.
    • An aversion also occurred: originally, only William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Majel Barrett were going to be hired as voice actors. But Nimoy balked and said he wouldn't work on the show unless George Takei and Nichelle Nichols were also hired, keenly aware of the ramifications of jettisoning two groundbreaking minority characters. Luckily, Doohan and Barrett were both able to voice far more characters than just Scotty and Nurse Chapel.
  • Twilight Sparkle, despite being the main character, is absent from seven episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and appears with no lines in one more; none of the seven main characters appear in every episode. Other characters also don't show up in several episodes.
    • In the Lower Deck Episode Hearts and Hooves Day, she is the ONLY Mane Six member to appear, and only for a few lines.
    • In Family Appreciation Day, all of the mane characters are absent except for Applejack.
  • Very prominent in Pingu. In many occasions, most notably "Pingu Runs Away" and "Pingu and Pinga Stay Up", only one of Pingu's family members do not appear. Also not appearing in the birthday episode is Pingg, one of Pingu's closest friends (identified with the sharp, pointed beak).
    • For some other reason, Pingu's Grandfather does not have a wife (the reason for this is officially unknown, but some have suggested she's most likely deceased). It is rumored, however, that she made a very brief appearance in the revival series.
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode, "Pranks for Nothing", Mac doesn't appear at all. Either the events at the beginning occurred after he left for the day, or he got sick and couldn't visit Bloo. It also could have been before he visited.
  • Mung Daal doesn't appear at all in Chowder episode "The Apprentice Scouts".
    • Mung's absence is lampshaded "A Faire to Remember", then subverted as he appears with a couple of lines just before the episode ends.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko doesn't appear at all in "Frog's Best Friend" and "Magic Meatball". In addition he only makes non-speaking cameos in "She's the Toad" and "Teed Off" (Rocko screams in the latter, but that's it).
  • Roland and Rattfink: Roland doesn't appear in "A Taste of Money".
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Zuko Alone" is the only episode that doesn't feature any member of the Gaang at all.
    • In the sequel series The Legendof Korra Asmai Sato tends to disappear for a while and then reappear with no explanation, especially bad in the second season.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory Dexter doesn't appear in "Paper Route Bout" and "Surf, Sun and Science", which instead focus on Dee Dee and Mandark, respectively.
  • During the need-to-be-plotline of Gargoyles (the journeys after Avalon), there are several episodes without the main crew.
    • Also, in the last season (The Goliath Chronicles), Demona was rarely seen. This gets pretty annoying when the final episode states several times that Angela is the last of her kind. With Demona being Angela's biological mother and not being in the explosion that not killed the main cast, this just screams for her appearing. Of course, this is just a minor detail being wrong about the final episode or the final season.
  • Danny Phantom: Valerie, a ghost hunter Fallen Princess who, in the previous episode, revealed that she worked a job to save money for college, doesn't appear in the episode where a million dollar bounty is placed on Danny's head.
  • In Justice League, having all of the Big 7 appear in one episode meant a comparable threat. Smaller scale threats meant small combinations of different characters - with the ones left out rarely accounted for, but always at least implied to be busy elsewhere. Powerhouses like Superman and/or Wonder Woman, for example, would be conveniently absent when their Super Strength would easily solve the problem. Meanwhile, The Flash never appeared in an Aquaman episode as his speed would be of little use in those plots. When the League later expanded to Heroes Unlimited, whenever anyone in the Big 7 didn't appear became even more noticeable - with some episodes focusing more on guest characters like the Question or Green Arrow.
    • Often justified in Unlimited by having various heroes visible on the view screens in the watch tower, or a character casually mentioning they are helping with X crisis, Y bank robbery, or having their day off. Only three times in Unlimited do we see all of the League fighting in the same place, mass alien invasions, and one were the fighting the threat was the main focus of the plot.
  • Very noticeable in Young Justice, which according the creators, was usually intentional. The show was insanely expensive to produce, so oftentimes episodes would omit certain members of the team in order to minimize the number of speaking parts. This became even more apparent when the team expanded into more of a Heroes Unlimited roster in the second season.
  • The final Dogfather cartoon doesn't feature Pug at all.
  • Brian Griffin was the only character to appear in every single episode of Family Guy, and had dialogue in every single one except for "The Splendid Source." After his fake death, he didn't appear in "Into Harmony's Way". With this, none of the main characters have appeared in the whole show.
    • Peter and Lois were absent in the episode "Brian and Stewie," in which Brian and Stewie were indeed the only characters to appear. Stewie's lone absence came in "Welcome Back, Carter," although there are other episodes in which he appears but has no dialogue.
    • Meg Griffin had been absent in four episodes and Chris Griffin had been absent in six episodes. Nevertheless, their respective voice actors have received a credit for every single episode, except for a handful of Season 1 episodes in which Lacy Chabert, then the voice actress for Meg, went unaccredited due to contractual disputes.
  • Gus is completely absent from the Recess episode "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff". It's possible that the episode could've taken place before he moved to town, or due to the Early-Installment Weirdness, it's speculated that the episode was produced extremely early in the show's run, before he was added to the gang. He was written into the story when the picture book adaptation was released two years later.
  • The Twins do not appear at all in the "Mr. Grumpy-Pants" episode of Superjail!, as they could not be fit into the plot. Season 2 was a bit more egregious of an example, as they vanished for three episodes in a row. The third season had them missing from the first two episodes and relegated to silent cameos for other early ones, until the crew managed to fit them more into the later part of the season.
    • Lord Stingray, who was hyped as a new main cast member for season 2, vanishes for a while in season 3 (after his role in "Stingstress") up until the last two episodes.
    • The episode "Superfail" features all of the recurring inmates (named and unnamed), with the notable exceptions of Jean and Paul.
  • American Dad! also has this because Hayley and Klaus absences happened a lot of time. Steve missed two episodes and Francine and Stan weren't in one of them. Also, Roger appears in another episode but has no dialogue.
  • Amethyst and Garnet are absent from the Steven Universe episode "Frybo".
  • Adventure Time seems to be trying to avoid this in regards to Finn and Jake for whatever reason, as they have appeared in every episode thusfar regardless of how important they are to its plot. Even if they're not the central characters, they have been given some sort of in-person appearance, even if it's very brief.
    • The only episode so far where Finn and Jake don't appear at all is "Bad Little Boy", which was a Fionna and Cake episode, and the only central characters to appear were Ice King and Marceline.
  • The Boondocks: Huey makes a very brief appearance at the end of "Bitches To Rags", and even then he has no lines at all.
    • Neither Huey or Riley appear in "Freedom Ride or Die".
  • In Sofia the First's "The Little Witch," none of the regulars except for the title character appear.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures, Babs Bunny doesn't appear in "Test Stress", "Kon Ducki", "Flea For Your Life", or "Toons from the Crypt". Neither her nor Buster appear in "Sepulveda Boulevard" (although Babs' face can be seen on a billboard in the WB studio) or "Grandma's Dead".
  • In Grojband, Mina dosen't appear in the episodes "Myme Disease" and "The Pirate Lounge for Me".

    Real Life Writes the PlotAuthor Appeal
Ability over AppearanceCharacters and CastingActing for Two

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