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.
- When Dr. Mark Greene died on ''ER"", a number of former actors from the show turned up for his funeral, including Dr. Benton and Dr. Finch. Notably absent were arguably his two closest friends, Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway.
- 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.
- When Mr. Drummond got remarried on Diff'rent Strokes, his sister Sophia and former housekeepers Mrs. Garrett and Adelaide returned for the wedding.
- 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.
- 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.
- Many seasons later, brother and sister Sav and his younger sister Alli attended school together, but Sav wasn't seen after he graduated, even in situations when it would've made logical sense.
- 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.
- 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.
- This one is actually on her actress Susan Tully, who retired in 1999 to focus on directing, and has turned down several offers for a guest spot. The show does at least give a throwaway line about a character not attending family weddings and funerals if necessary. For instance, in 2014 mentioning that Michelle's own daughter Vicki wouldn't be able to get travel from Australia to attend Sharon'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.
- 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
- Neither of Dorothy's children (Michael and Kate) or her sister Gloria appeared at her wedding on the final episode of The Golden Girls. They also didn't show up when she and her ex-husband Stan tried to remarry in season 6.
- In addition, none of Blanche's family members showed up for Dorothy's wedding, even though she was marrying Blanche's Uncle Lucas.
- On One Tree Hill, Haley is said to have three sisters and three brothers. Early in the series, Lucas' mom says Haley hangs out at Lucas' house because he is an only child and she likes the quietness of his house versus the constant noise of her own packed home. When Haley graduates her parents buy an RV saying she was the last to move out and they now want to travel to see the other kids. The brothers are never named on screen during the series' nine year run and don't even show up for their mother's on funeral in season 7 without any mention of why they wouldn't come to such a momentous event, for which the ever-fighting sisters are able to temporarily put aside their conflict.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Dallas, Gary never turned up for major family events at Southfork after Bobby's death in the Dream Season - and seldom did beforehand. His absence from said events was never explained. Similarly, on the spin-off Knots Landing, the Texas Ewings never showed up for the major events of Gary's life and none of them even appeared on the series after its fourth season.