Rachel: Well, maybe they can find a way to bring you back?
: Naah. They said that when they found my body, my brain was so smashed in that the only doctor that could have saved me was me
. Supposed to be some kind of irony or somethin’.
, "The One Where Dr Ramoray Dies"
So an actor's walked out of the show, leaving you and the other writers in a bit of a sticky spot. You don't want to kill their character off
, but you're still feeling pretty malicious, and just having them Put on a Bus
isn't nasty enough. The solution is to Put Them On A Bus To Hell - write them out in a way so mean-spirited that it's clear to all and sundry that you're doing it out of malice and spite.
The most common form is for them to suffer rapid Character Derailment
, often over the course of a single episode. Maybe they're too busy holding onto the Idiot Ball
to prevent a beloved character getting hurt, or perhaps they even did something irredeemably awful themselves
. Whatever the circumstances, by the end of the episode, they have no choice but to leave town forever to preserve what tattered shreds of dignity they have left and save their friends from the worthless wreck of a human they've become.
This trope is for specifically non-fatal examples. If a character dies under these circumstances, then he has been McLeaned
Compare Dropped a Bridge on Him
. Contrast Bus Crash
. More literal cases go under Dragged Off to Hell
. Not related to the bus that's gonna take you back to Beelzebub
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Anime and Manga
- Miya from Mai-Otome disappeared completely from the show following her implication in Arika's Attempted Rape situation halfway through the series, while also confessing to other Arika-related incidents (in one of the situations, she was completely innocent) before being led out of Garderobe by school administrators. None of the other characters see or hear anything from her again.
- Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! seemed safe as long as they were in Comic Book Limbo. Unfortunately, when they were brought back in the mid 2000's, their Animal Superheroes world had to become darker to reflect the Darker and Edgier mainstream DC Universe. As a result, Little Cheese was murdered, and then came the Captain Carrot And the Final Ark mini-series. Their world had become uninhabitable, so Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, and the other anthropormorphic animal superheroes arranged for an ark to take them to the Justa Lotta Animals' world, Earth C-Minus. However, because of a mishap, not only did they end up in the 'main' DC universe Earth, but they were also turned into non-anthropomorphic animals who could not communicate with Superman and the Justice League. The mini-series ends with them stuck this way, and the DC heroes not knowing why this ship appeared filled with animals. The whole ending seemed to be DC's Take That at those requesting the return of the Zoo Crew, and their way of telling them that funny animal superheroes are Deader Than Disco and have no place in the new, more cynical DC Universe. Actually, Word of God (if DC is to be believed) was that the Zoo Crew's fate was supposed to spur fans into demanding their return. What. Fortunately, there's good news: The Monitor Nix Uotan broke down that bus to Hell by reverting the Zoo Crew into their original forms in time for the final battle of Final Crisis.
- Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson once left for a short period of time as to avoid her and Peter getting married. They did so with her returning the engagement ring he gave her and claiming that marriage just isn't her thing, doing so in a rather unsympathetic way. The anti-marriage fans still haven't forgiven her.
- During IDW Publishing's Massive Multiplayer Crossthrough Infestation, Kup of The Transformers IDW was infected with a zombie virus, mind-controlled, and ultimately transported to another undead dimension.
- The fate of Erix, the teenage pirate in Astérix. The other three pirates form a well-balanced Comic Trio with a good joke template (after a failure, Pegleg says a Latin aphorism, Baba makes a pun on it and Redbeard yells at them both to shut up), leaving Erix with nothing to do. Since he wasn't funny, his own dad is forced to sell him into slavery offscreen, and Erix is never heard from again.
- In Runaways, Xavin posed as Karolina and offered herself up to the Majesdanians, who had demanded that Karolina return with them to answer for her parents' crimes. The odds that Xavin, a Skrull, might be spared if the Majesdanians ever discover the deception are not exactly favorable...
Live Action TV
- Interestingly, Lorne from the spinoff Angel has something akin to this happen, in a case of Tropes Are Not Bad. His growing discomfort with the gang's Enemy Mine situation, and feeling out of place as the resident comic relief guy in an increasingly dark series, is cemented in the finale. He helps out with Angel's plan to take out the worst bad guys ever — shooting resident Amoral Attorney/Arch-Enemy Lindsey in the back after they fight off a bunch of demon Mooks, but makes it quite clear that he's finished with their vigilante shtick, and that this is the last thing—and personal Moral Event Horizon—he's going to do with them. After that he basically becomes the force that binds the universe together.
- He also gets an encore that flips the script, this time literally in hell. In the Angel comic series, he gets to be an almost angelic leader of a refuge district of the LA hellscape.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Oz was written out by a Story Arc which ends with him acting amazingly stupid, breaking Willow's heart, and killing (a villain, but this is a show where Thou Shalt Not Kill, usually). His encore episode later on is barely any kinder.
- Riley was similarly written out, with his alienation from the group turning to mind-melting stupidity that nearly gets him killed, and quitting when Buffy can't forgive him. Again, he gets an encore episode where he's portrayed more nicely, if blandly.
- Babylon 5
- Ivanova was hastily written out of the series after the actress, Claudia Christian, left under a cloud. This happened during tense re-negotiations with WB and threw the fifth (unplanned) season into utter chaos. Enter Harlan Ellison (uh oh) who handwaved Ivanova's departure, saying she left for a better paying job. Zing! Christian is still steamed about it. But considering how frosty her relations were with JMS, he's probably still nursing a grudge, too.
- Even before this, Talia Winters had her personality erased and turned evil in the span of one episode, following producer arguments over screen-time with actress Andrea Thompson. A throwaway line in a later episode suggested she had been killed and dissected. Following this actor dispute J. Michael Straczynski was keen to point out that every character had a possible replacement planned - only for emergencies, of course.
- The departure of Todd Grimshaw in Coronation Street was probably meant to be a Tear Jerker, but since it involved him verbally abusing and assaulting both his brother and the ex-girlfriend he cheated on for sleeping together, then jumping on a bus declaring no-one would ever love her like he did, it was hard not to think the writers were trying to make sure no-one would miss him. (He did come back to be best man at the couple's wedding, to show there were no hard feelings, but then he came back again as a snob who was ashamed of his working class roots.)
- In Degrassi Junior High, Nicole Stoffman (who played Stephanie) left the show in the third season to further her career elsewhere. In the next episode, Stephanie's brother says that their mom has sent her to a private school with a strict dress code, "including knee socks." Stephanie was a fashionista who spent the entire show trying to be glamorous and pretty, so she could escape her Control Freak mother's iron fist. If she doesn't rejoin the cast, it sure sucks to be Stephanie.
- Degrassi The Next Generation. Dan Woods, who had been commuting between L.A. and Toronto, wanted to leave the show because his productions for Speed Channel were taking off; Principal Raditch spoke to Rick three times in the two days before the shooting, entirely clueless as to how deeply troubled Rick was, and was Reassigned to Antarctica not long after.
- On Glee, Lauren leaves New Directions at the start of Season 3 after breaking up with Puck and deciding that the club just isn't cool enough for her anymore, despite having bonded with some members during Season 2, explicitly not caring what others think of her, and being well-received by viewers. To add insult to injury, since this wasn't the actress's idea, her only speaking role in Season 3 is where she tells Puck Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
- Hogan's Heroes has a ready-made one (albeit only ever for one-shot characters) in the Russian Front. However, if Solzhenitsyn's accounts are anything to go by, this trope could also fit the Russian POW's return.
- This seems to happen a lot on soap operas. One of Home and Away's more blatant examples was Alex Poulos, who was ostracised by most of the town for the heinous crime of dumping his current girlfriend for his ex and left town in shame. In case viewers didn't get the message, he came back a few years later, revealed the girl in question had left him, used his unknowing sister as a drugs courier, put his nephew's life in danger by leaving drugs lying around and left town in even more shame.
- Dan Fitzgerald from Neighbours. While he didn't turn downright evil, his character derailment became very obvious towards the end of his Ramsay Street run. He was originally portrayed as the stereotypical 'good guy', being the principal of Erinsborough High as well as a valued mentor figure for the teens; he was even said to be the "good brother", in stark contrast to his younger sibling Lucas. In one of his last episodes, however, he was shown verbally abusing his mother-in-law—who was currently carrying his child (as a surrogate mother)—who became so distressed by this that she actually tripped and ended up losing the baby. Then he walked away.
- Your opinion of that depends on how much you like his mother-in-law, a character who seems to be intended to be the show's mother figure, but more often comes across as a Control Freak with a messiah complex. Many fans were cheering that a character finally called her out on her behaviour without apologising a couple of scenes later. (And, since he didn't know that she was losing the baby or even that she'd tripped when he walked away from her, he can be forgiven that one, despite it being presented as a Moral Event Horizon to make us seem him as the bad guy.)
- Wade from Sliders. Sabrina Lloyd supposedly didn't return for season four due to behind-the-scenes drama, and her character's fate sure seems to confirm this: how does "taken by the villains to spend the rest of her life being used for breeding purposes" sound? The way she was brought back was not much friendlier, basically kept in a jar with her brain exposed to be used to control the same villains' new advanced dimension-hopping machine. She destroys the base in a Heroic Sacrifice, but appears to Rembrandt once more afterward, so there's hope for her survival... if you can call being trapped in the ruined Kromagg base in a mutilated, And I Must Scream condition "hopeful."
- Hey she evolved into some sort of Spirit of the Slide. Beats breeding sow or pickle in the jar any day. Plus she still looks over Remy so that's a plus.
- Given that most fans feel the series had jumped the shark well before any of this, it's usually all treated as Fanon Discontinuity.
- Likewise after Jerry O'Connell's departure, there was no reason to keep his brother Charlie around, leading to his character getting stuck sliding between worlds for all time. Cheerio, Colin!
- Lieutenant Aiden Ford and Doctor Elizabeth Weir of Stargate Atlantis received such treatment when their actors wanted to spend more time with their families. It did not end well for either character.
- Similarly, in Zoey 101, Alexa Nikolas quit the show because of a feud between her and Jamie Lynn Spears. Alexa's character, Nicole, was an intensely boy-crazy, insecure kid who hated unfamiliar situations — and Zoey says in the third season premiere that Nicole has been shipped to an all-girls boarding school. In a previous episode, Nicole had broken down sobbing when she thought she'd have to transfer to another school. Ouch. The writers know how to punch.
- Friends: Poor, poor David. During his first few appearances, he was shown to be a kind and compassionate person with a stable career and genuine affection for Phoebe. However, once it was decided that Mike would be her permanent love interest, David was immediately transformed into a pathetic loser who bombed his research in Minsk and could barely utter a simple "Hello" without stuttering. And then, once he finally proposes to Phoebe, she gives him a very callous rejection (clearly forgetting that she was the one who originally convinced him to go to Minsk in the first place), and he storms out. Never to be seen or even mentioned again.
- Miss Claudette in Orange Is The New Black. During the first season, she reconnects with an old friend and has renewed interest in being released. However, at the end of the season, her appeal is denied and in a fit of anger, Miss Claudette attacks one of the guards. She is taken away to maximum security, where you don't get out.
- In the 1974 Land of the Lost, the first episode of the third season starts with Rick Marshall (played by a double and seen only from the back) falling through a time doorway back home. Spencer Milligan had a dispute concerning the fact that the castmembers' likenesses was being used on merchandising and that they got no share of those royalties. The Kroffts elected to not renew his contract. But it sucks that he accidentally made it back home but his kids are still stuck in the Land of the Lost. Additionally, it does not seem possible to reach the Land of the Lost from Earth by any sort of deliberate design. It always seems to be accidental, and Enik has also postulated some complex scientific theories on conservation of temporal mass further adding to difficulties. So it's highly likely that Rick's attempts to return to the Land on his own accord simply fail.
- iCarly has an in episode where Missy, who suffers from seasickness gets sent to a school-at-sea.
- Doctor Who often did this to companions in the Classic series:
- Vicki was dropped because the new producer disliked the actress, apparently because she sided with William Hartnell against various production decisions to make the show Darker and Edgier. While her Strangled by the Red String departure isn't as random as some others (and she even gets to be immortalised in myth as the legendary Cressida), it's still bittersweet at best. We last see her lamenting to her husband that she's all alone with her family dead and no time travel, fleeing a city in the process of being torn to pieces by the Greeks, stranded 5000 years before her own time, with history remembering her as a shallow temptress.
- Dodo got kicked out of the companion role by a producer who hated the character. In her final story, she gets a Mind Rape from a hypnotic computer and the Doctor has to reset her mind using hypnosis. She doesn't show up in the final episode of the story and doesn't even get to say goodbye to the Doctor, instead getting a second-hand goodbye via Polly who assures him that Dodo sends her love.
- Liz Shaw disappears offscreen with little explanation and no goodbye, as the production team had decided that pairing the Doctor up with another Science Hero made her too challenging a Doctor surrogate, and they wanted a ditzy Damsel in Distress in a short skirt in the role instead. Some second-hand explanation is given via the Brigadier when he explains that Liz had wanted to quit due to the Doctor only needing someone to tell him how clever he was.
- Leela's actress had wanted a heroic death in battle for her character, but the producer told her that this was too traumatic for her child fans (partly in fear of Executive Meddling) and also wanted the actress to stay on as companion to lessen the Troubled Production. The result of this is that she suffers massive Character Derailment in her final episode, inexplicably deciding to stay behind to get married to a character she had barely interacted with (despite being an independent warrior until then).
- The character Smiley from the comic strip Baldo. She was originally Baldo's tomboyish next door neighbor, and later became his girlfriend. Word of God was that the relationship wasn't interesting to write, so the characters broke up but decided to stay friends. A couple of months later, Smiley had some offscreen Character Derailment within the span of three days, culminating in an Evil Makeover to become, essentially, the Alpha Bitch. Despite a claim from the author that she might return, Smiley hasn't been seen or mentioned in the comic since 2006.
- It's common for a wrestler leaving a company to lose ("do the job") in their last match there, in order to make their opponent look good. These are not examples of this trope, they're just the norm in the industry. What is an example is when it's known that a wrestler is planning on leaving for another company, and having them lose repeatedly in order to diminish their potential value.
- The most infamous instance of this in Professional Wrestling would be 1997's Montreal Screwjob. Wrestler Bret Hart had a disagreement with WWF owner Vince McMahon as to whether Hart should have to lose his final match before departing WWF for WCW. As noted above, this is the norm in the industry. Moreover, Hart was the WWF champion at the time. Previous WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze had left for WCW still holding the belt, and on her first appearance on WCW, dropped the title belt in a garbage can on live TV, pretty much nuking her career in the process. Vince McMahon had no desire to see a repeat of that with the WWF championship belt, and it was thus of utmost importance for Hart to lose the championship before leaving for WCW. Hart, however, was unwilling to lose in his native Canada, and did not want to give the belt to Michaels, whom he disliked. Hart also had a "reasonable creative control" clause in his contract, meaning he could veto angles he deemed detrimental to his character so long as doing so wouldn't completely derail an ongoing storyline. Hart and McMahon agreed on a disqualification ending for the match with Hart surrendering the title on the next night's RAW (an alternative to jobbing to Michaels on the PPV that would've kept the storylines intact, thus meeting Hart's contract clause), but that's not what happened. When Michaels put Hart in a submission hold from which Hart was scripted to escape, McMahon ordered the bell rung and the match awarded to Hart's opponent Shawn Michaels as though Hart had surrendered, in order to make sure Hart lost the match and his WWF Championship before leaving. The effects of the Montreal Screwjob are still being felt over 10 years later, and it also led to a Real Life Writes the Plot situation, as McMahon's Kayfabe character went from nice-guy announcer to scheming politician.
- One should note that Bret was perfectly willing to drop the belt to anyone (including Michaels) as long as it was not at the PPV in Canada, as he felt that doing so would destroy his character, not to mention that his dislike for Michaels was (likely) very justified due to Michaels' (likely) actions during the time - which (likely) included drug abuse and unchecked power-tripping egomania - and that Bret was (likely) not going to repeat Blayze's actions. A combination of timing errors (like Bret being unable to get a hold of Eric Bischoff due to him being out on a hunting trip to clarify certain things that might have allowed him to work out a better solution) and the failings of all men involved (though many people will squarely point the finger at Michaels and McMahon rather then Bret, though he has his part of the blame to shoulder as well) did the rest.
- Not to mention the fact that, if Vince McMahon was really worried that Hart would throw the belt in a trashcan at WCW, he could have simply asked Hart to sign a contract stating that he would not do so as a condition of winning the final match.
- It should also be noted that according to Eric Bischoff's 2006 autobiography (produced by WWE, no less), WCW was so restricted by Turner Broadcasting's legal team (due to a pending trademark lawsuit brought by the then-WWF over Kevin Nash & Scott Hall's debuts) that there would have never been a reprise of the "belt in trash can" incident, or any inclusion of a WWF/E trademark (such as a title belt) on a WCW program, even if Bret had been willing to do it. Ultimately, the entire "screwjob" incident did little more than serve as a catalyst for the change in Vince McMahon's on-air character, and may have done as much as WCW's booking incompetence to ruin Bret's wrestling career.
- Michaels has since admitted that he was in on the job, and whenever he appears in Canada, he receives "YOU SCREWED BRET!" chants from the Canadian fans. Referee Earl Hebner (now with TNA) and Vince also receive said chants. Then-writer Vince Russo claimed in his autobiography that he was responsible for the screwjob, but then again, this is Vince Russo we're talking about.
- Well, both Vince and Bret testified under oath that the screwjob was a shoot.
- Except that it could not have been. It wasn't real, and, even if it was, it would have been a double-cross. A shoot would have been Bret and/or Shawn changing the finish on their own, without Vince or Hebner knowing about it. They are two different things.
- As of 2010ish, Bret is back involved with the WWE. After a storyline where he and Shawn made peace, Vince played the villain and tried to torment both of them. Needless to say, it ended with Vince in the sharpshooter. Bret's still around, sort of, making a few cameos every once in a while.
- The Spirit Squad are probably an example of this as well, as their grand exit from WWE under those characters involved being shipped off to Louisville (home of WWE developmental territory OVW) in a giant crate by D-Generation X. Three of the membersnote have not been seen on WWE TV since, the fourth (Kenny Doane, er, Dykstra) returned pretty much solely to job up until his release in late 2008, and the fifth and sole remaining member returned to portray Dolph Ziggler, the guy who really, really likes shaking peoples' hands and repeating his own name (and be a total Jerkass Heel). Ziggler actually went on to be successful, becoming a two-time World Heavyweight Champion and a Triple Crown Champion. The main reason he got over so easily is that he was completely repackaged — the Spirit Squad gimmick was originally to put over Kenny, but that backfired on Kenny because he became forever associated with the gimmick, so the audience never took him seriously.
- The ending to Portal 2. Given that Wheatley has become the villain, he needed a punishment when he was finally defeated. However, killing him off or letting GLaDOS torture him forever would be too much, but a simple slap and detach from the mainframe was too little, hence the final version of the ending, where he is blasted off into space.
- Eggman Nega is sealed in the Ifrit's dimension in Sonic Rivals 2. He hasn't been seen since.
- Penny and Aggie. Cyndi is committed to a psychiatric hospital at the end of the "Missing Person" arc; her very last appearance shows her parents driving into the hospital's front entrance as she asks where they're taking her.
- Literal, in the case of Erin Winters from Scary Go Round. Not only is she sucked into hell, her very memory is Ret Gone from everyone who knows her, so no rescue attempts will be made. Brr.
- In Bad Machinery The Bus Came Back, but still no one remembers her, and how she returned hasn't been revealed.
- Allison has since written a story about Erin breaking out of Hell. It is two pages long and awesome.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series had Mary Jane sucked into a limbo between universes. She later came back, until it was revealed that this was a clone, and the series was Screwed by the Network before the real Mary Jane was seen again. Though at least the final episode makes it clear that Peter is about to go on a mission to save her.
- The Simpsons
- Parodied with one-shot characters like Lurleen Lumpkin and Mindy Simmons (both of whom attempted to entice Homer into an affair). The former made several cameos where she appeared to be down on her luck before getting a follow-up episode, while the latter apparently "hit the bottle pretty hard" and lost her job.
- Another example would be Homer's half-brother Herb, who is left financially ruined thanks to Homer's antics and leaves on a bus, spitefully making it clear that he has no intention to acknowledge Homer as his brother any longer by the end of the episode. Apparently the executives were left uncomfortable, so they ensured another episode was made in which The Bus Came Back, allowing Homer to help Herb regain his fortune and the two half-brothers to reconcile. Of course, one could consider this a Double Subversion since he got his fortune back with an invention that lets you talk to babies...that hasn't been heard of again, so it might have actually failed. He hasn't been seen since, but his answering machine message stated that he wasn't currently rich.
- And Poochie who was so bad he "died on the way back to his home planet."
- In The Spectacular Spiderman, John Jameson, a likable and heroic character, ends up getting powers that make him a Flying Brick, and expresses interest in becoming a superhero ally of Spidey. Unfortunately, those powers cause him to become increasingly aggressive and irrational, which is helped along by Venom attacking him while pretending to be Spider-Man. Spider-Man end up having to rather brutally de-power John in order to stop him. When last seen in the show, John is in an asylum and is a broken wreck suffering from power withdrawal and shown to be every bit as crazy as Electro, the most mentally unstable character in the series.
- Kim, from The Venture Bros. She was a very insignificant character who became an Ensemble Darkhorse randomly after showing off a cool outfit and vaguely interesting personality in the episode "Victor. Echo. November." The writers never particularly cared for her and didn't bring her back - so they wrote her out with a quick line in the fourth season finale, where her friend Triana says that Kim moved to Florida, fell in with preppies, got addicted to drugs, then became a born-again Christian. In other words, they deliberately killed anything cool about her and skewed her as far in the other direction as possible.
- The last we see of Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender he was dragged into the sea by an angry ocean spirit. The next time we see him is in the second season finale of The Legend of Korra in which we find out that he has been trapped in "The Fog of Lost Souls", a sort of prison in the Spirit World where its prisoners are infected by a spirt in the form of a massive fog that distorts your mind and drives you insane. Keep in mind that you don't age in the Spirit Word, which means that Zhao, having lost every last shred of his sanity, is doomed to wander the fog for all eternity.
- In the first season of Gravity Falls, Mabel has a brief romance with a merman named Mermando who leaves for the ocean before the end of the episode. In the next season, he sends a postcard informing her that, for political reasons, he's having an Arranged Marriage to a manatee. And the photo he sent makes it obvious he is not happy about, although Mabel doesn't notice.
- The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Void" has Gumball, Darwin, and Mr. Small discover that background character Molly the sauropod was sucked into a dimension full of bad ideas because she was so boring. At one point another equally minor character, Rob the cyclops, can be seen floating around the background of the void. Since nobody noticed or remembered him, he, unlike Molly, is still stuck there by the end of the episode... or so it seems. He returns in "The Nobody" where it is revealed he escaped, although the results aren't very pleasant.