Estranged Soap Family

In Soap Operas and long running serial dramas, characters who leave usually fail to come back, even for events which they would never miss in real life, such as funerals or weddings of close relatives.

Compare Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.


  • Coronation Street has had a few instances of family members coming back. Steve McDonald's brother Andy reappeared for Steve's wedding to Karen, and Ashley Peacock's mum has made it to most family occasions.
    • Even though the writers had been so stupid about Maria's parents who had been written out and forgotten, that when Maria's husband Liam was murdered, and they turned up for his funeral, there was a heap of angsting about the fact that they'd never even met Liam, and Maria's mother was heaped with blame for the fact that she insisted she and her husband go on a cruise instead of attending Maria's wedding. (The current Coro writers don't like mothers.)
  • John Paul from Hollyoaks returned from Dublin just in time to see his estranged brother murder his sister.
    • Played straight in the fact that he failed to attend any of Mercedes' weddings.
    • Hannah Ashworth was absent from her cousin Rhys's funeral, but they did at least explain this as her being too ill to attend.
  • EastEnders has also had a few instances, such as Peggy Mitchell returning for daughter Sam's wedding to Andy, and Pegg's sister "Aunt Sal" usually appears at all Mitchell family occasions.
    • Shabnam Masood didn't return for her brother's wedding. This was lampshaded though.
  • In the Grand Finale of Third Watch, Carlos Nieto and Holly Levine get married. Their former co-workers Jimmy Doherty and Kim Zambrano return for the wedding - both are seen congratulating the happy couple. Neither has any lines, but they're there.
  • Neighbours seems to try to avert this where possible. The Rebecchi family reappear for most major family events, like weddings, funerals, shootings, etc. However some characters have disappeared, never to be seen again, even if a return is often threatened (Billy Kennedy being one of the best examples).
    • One of the worst examples of this trope was Madge's funeral, which neither of her children, played by Craig MacLachlan and Kylie Minogue, turned up for.

Straight examples:

  • Michelle Fowler, of EastEnders, is a particularly extreme example. After leaving the soap, she failed to return for her father's funeral, her brother's wedding, her other brother's wedding, the first brother's funeral, her mother's wedding and her mother's funeral. That her mother Pauline kept going on about her "fammm-lee" made this more notable.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy's father failed to show up for his ex-wife's funeral, or to take care of his now-abandoned daughter(s).
    • Cordelia's parents were an even worse case. Apparently their economic problems, which forced Cordelia to move to Los Angeles at the start of Angel, were so severe they couldn't even afford a phonecall when their daughter was reported missing.
  • On Degrassi, Spinner had a sister named Kendra in the early seasons, but she vanished after season 3 and didn't even come to her brother's wedding.
  • Family Matters had Aunt Rachel and her son Richie. Aunt Rachel left the show but somehow, Richie stayed around which meant that his mother was still around somewhere. She apparently was unable to make it to a number of important events.
  • The parents on Saved by the Bell rarely showed up but when the gang graduated, went to college, got married, etc. they were never around.
  • Likewise, very few of the parents on Glee show up to watch their kids, and even some of the ones who have been established to support the club are absent during important performances. In addition it is notable that Quinn fails to reappear after Finn's death despite the fact that characters with less of a connection to him appeared, she isn't even mentioned
  • On Reba, Scarlett Pomers missed the second half of the fifth season while she received treatment for an eating disorder. Unfortunately, this left her character Kyra missing from Van and Cheyenne's renewal of their wedding vows and suspiciously absent when her mother was hospitalized.
  • On Downton Abbey, Rosamund, Lord Grantham's nosy sister, misses the weddings of his daughters Mary and Edith because the actress who plays her was busy.
  • On Soap eldest daughter Corinne doesn't come back nor is she even mentioned when her sister gets married, her father gets remarried, or her mother gets kidnapped by Central American freedom fighters.
  • On The Bold and the Beautiful, Ronn Moss left the show after a much-publicized contract dispute, meaning that his character Ridge wasn't around for the death and funeral of his beloved mother Stephanie.