This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Actor Existence Limbo

Acting and voice acting can be a fickle thing, but sometimes what can be simply corrected with The Other Darrin will not be possible; we call that the Actor Existence Limbo.

Actor Existence Limbo is when a Voice Actor worked on a series, but an incident caused the voice actor to be missing in action. Rather than replacing the VA, they make the character role unvoiced. So if the series requires voice acting, that person will go unvoiced or worse, an NPC if it was a game.

One of the reasons why an Actor will be placed in limbo rather than replacing them is due to potential of bad publicity. Affairs can be called out by the press, possible grudges can happen between both sides. Simply put, an AEL can be harmful to those who enjoyed the actor.

When the character is plain killed off due the Actor Existence Limbo becoming too much, it becomes a case of McLeaned. When the network does this, it is a Role-Ending Misdemeanor. See also Demoted to Extra.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The very rare case of a TV production team willing to wait out Actor Existence Limbo is the reason Spartacus: Blood and Sand has a prequel in place of its second season. The lead actor of the show, Andy Whitfield, was diagnosed with cancer and the chemo therapy understandably made it impossible for him to portray his muscle-packed character for a while, so they filmed the backstory of all the other characters before Spartacus was forced to join the gladiator school. Unfortunately, the therapy didn't take, leading to the protagonist being recast for the rest of the show.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • Rowlf was for years unvoiced in movies and TV specials (or only made small grunts or laughs) after Jim Henson's death, since it was thought that he was the character that most resembled Henson.
    • Henson's Dr. Teeth and fellow Muppeteer Richard Hunt's Scooter and Janice were in the same boat for the longest as well.
    • After Steve Whitmire was fired, Matt Vogel took over Kermit; Eric Jacobson took over the Newsman; David Rudman, who has performed many of Richard Hunt's roles for the past decade, took over Beaker; and Peter Linz took on Statler, Lips and Link Hogthrob. They have yet to find a new performer for Whitmire's iconic role of Rizzo the Rat.
  • This was also the case for many of Henson and Hunt's Sesame Street characters. Ernie didn't start reappearing in new material until three years after Henson's death and other characters like Guy Smiley and Gladys the Cow have only recently started appearing with speaking roles again.

  • When Earle Graser, who played The Lone Ranger on radio, was killed in a car accident in 1941, Brace Beemer was almost immediately picked by the show's producers to replace him. Since Beemer's voice was quite different to Glaser's, a story was quickly written in which the Lone Ranger spent five episodes recovering from serious gunshot wounds and unable to speak, so that listeners would either not notice the change in voice or put it down to the injuries.

    Video Games 
  • Murphy Guyer didn't return for Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, and Ammon Jerro suddenly became an unvoiced NPC.
  • Bill from Left 4 Dead got McLeaned in the second game's DLC, since his VA was unavailable for nearly a year. Bill was also not voiced for the Crash Course DLC due to having no time left to record lines for the character since the DLC was so close to release. Zoey, Francis, and Louis all have new lines while Bill just reuses lines that were in the game before the DLC.
  • Gundam:
  • Subverted with Guilty Gear: when Zato-1's voice actor Kaneto Shiozawa passed away, the character remained in the series... technically. Zato-1 was losing control of his body to a sentient parasite named Eddie (voiced by Takehito Koyasu in the XX series), who continued to use his body and appear under that name after Zato's death. The character is referred to again as Zato-1 in Guilty Gear Xrd, due to Zato being revived between games by the Big Bad Triumvirate of the first installment, -SIGN-, though both Zato and Eddie are now voiced by Koyasu.
  • Kaneto Shiozawa, the Japanese voice of the Cyborg Ninja in the first Metal Gear Solid, died of a brain concussion after falling down a flight of stairs on May 10, 2000. As a tribute, his voice recordings from the original MGS were used for Metal Gear Solid 2 for the second Cyborg Ninja (who was actually another character), as well as in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • Isamu Tanonaka, the voice of Igor in Persona 3 and Persona 4, died in 2010 due to myocardial infarction. To work around his death, they re-used his previously recorded lines in Persona 4 for The Animation in 2011 and Persona 4: Arena, with the character being absent from Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and being replaced with Elizabeth and Margaret, based on the player's path. He was seemingly recast for Persona 5 with Masane Tsukayama, only for the new Igor to be revealed to be an impostor who had captured the real Igor, still voiced by Tanonaka's old recordings.
  • Ulf Andersson, voice of Wolf in PAYDAY 2, damaged his vocal cords while recording a Christmas carol for the game in late 2014. The recovery process took about a year, during which he announced he would be leaving Starbreeze Studios to found a new company. Edited versions of his present lines are used anytime an update adds content that requires more dialogue.

    Western Animation 
  • Due to having numerous Celebrity Voice Actors, The Batman reduced many villains to cameo roles after their debut episodes. Poison Ivy, however, was featured prominently in a two-parter without any lines at all.
  • After already being replaced once, Valmont in Jackie Chan Adventures is reduced to a nonspeaking cameo in Season Five.
  • The Simpsons:
    • After Phil Hartman's death in 1998, his characters Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure were reduced to cameos in group shots. Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz both continue to appear regularly in the comics, since a voice actor is not necessary.
    • After Doris Grau's death in 1995, Lunchlady Doris also became a mute background character, until 2006 when she returned, voiced by Tress MacNeille.
  • A coincidental example in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Before Mako's sad passing, several episodes were written in the first half of Season 3 where Iroh was imprisoned and largely silent, which wound up serendipitously working out. His replacement actor Greg Baldwin briefly voiced a few lines in Season 2 to get viewers used to his new voice before the character fully returned later, and Baldwin does a good enough impression of Mako that those not in the know might not even have noticed (it helps that Baldwin was a self-taught Mako understudy before the latter's death).
  • Jazz and Cliffjumper stopped appearing in The Transformers when Scatman Crothers fell ill and Casey Kasem quit. What made their disappearances ironic is that they were two of the few characters who survived the infamous movie.
  • The cast of Star Trek: The Original Series, minus James Doohan, appeared in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before," but since DeForest Kelley had died, he had no lines.
  • After its cancellation by Fox and resurrection by TBS, Mike Barker left American Dad! over "creative differences." Since then, while Terry Bates still appears in the show, he has not spoken a line since Season 12, Episode 3. Eventually he's Put on a Bus, leaving Greg to follow a tour across the country.
  • Cars: Red the fire truck, voiced by late Pixar writer Joe Ranft. Granted, he didn't have any real lines to begin with, but by the time of the sequel, he has no voice whatsoever due to Ranft's death.
  • In Steven Universe, fusions tend to be voiced by famous singers, such as Nicki Minaj and Aimee Mann. Due to the obvious difficulty in getting characters voiced by people in a field known for constantly traveling to be recurring characters (as well as the potential salary issues involved), fusions are rarely used despite their many abilities, and are often silent outside their first appearance. This receives a Lampshade Hanging in "Know Your Fusion," where Sardonyx actually breaks the fourth wall to ask if they'll have to pay "her" for using recycled sound bites from Sugilite's previous appearance.
  • Family Guy: After Carrie Fisher's death in 2016, her recurring character Angela will be retired from the show, and a new character played by Bryan Cranston will replace her as Peter's boss.
  • On Cyber Chase , Slider's father Coop was voiced by Tony Hawk in "Measure For Measure". Subsequent episodes have the character silent, mostly because he appears in cameos, and they wouldn't get a big name like him for a brief cameo in a Canadian show.
  • In The Fairly Oddparents, the voice actor for Trixie Tang retired prior to Season 9, which has resulted in Trixie at best being occasionally seen in background shots, but not voiced.