Hiei mysteriously disappears after the first few episodes in the Sensui arc, using the excuse that he doesn't care whether or not the human world is destroyed. He turns up several episodes to test Yusuke's strength. He goes on a temporary bus again when the team enters Sensui's hideout and battle Gamemaster. Hiei notes, "I know as much of games as I do hugs or puppies and care for them even less" and falls asleep. He remains like this for several episodes.
A much more straight example would be Kuwabara in the final arc. While the other main characters travel to the demon realm he stays behind to focus on his studies and is only seen at the beginning and the end of the arc.
Misty left the show five years in and has been stuck preventing her sisters from messing up the Cerulean Gym ever since. She was followed by May (and her brother Max), who in turn was followed by Dawn, with both getting four years before joining Misty on the bus. If an interview with the anime director is anything to go by, this will be the fate for every female main character who travels with Ash in the series every time a new generation of Pokémon comes out. Misty's departure has not been welcomed by fans, who claim that Pokémon has been ruined forever.
Brock was also briefly put on a bus earlier in the show's run. Unfortunately, Tracey was generally poorly received so he was quickly put on a bus himself (though remaining a minor character in Ash's hometown) and Brock remained as a main character in the show for 11 years before he was put back on the bus, and replaced by Cilan. When X and Y rolled around, Cilan himself was replaced by Clemont (and his sister Bonnie). Should this pattern continue, the male companion slot now holds the same disposability that the female companion slot does.
Brock was temporarily put on a bus so many times that his abrupt return was a running gag at every opportunity. His reappearances even go from awesome to laughable: During Hoenn he makes a Big Damn Heroes moment when the cast is attacked by wild Pokémon (which would be completely unexpected if not for his presence in the opening). The next time, when Ash and his group leave for the Battle Frontier, the narrator is about to close up the episode, but is promptly interrupted by Brock showing up to tag along.. Then in Diamond & Pearl, Brock just gets off a truck on the side of the road where Ash happens to be.
This trope also applies to most of Ash's Pokémon. Some, like Squirtle and Charizard, are left with other trainers but will occasionally reappear, while others, like Pidgeot, Butterfree, Primeape, and Lapras, disappear entirely, although Lapras made one reappearance in late Johto. In fact, Ash has made it a habit to leave behind all of his Pokémon except Pikachu in Professor Oak's lab when he travels to each new region.
One of the most egregious examples of this was with Heracross; in order to participate in a tournament, he sends Heracross back to get his Tauros. At the end of the episode, he sends Tauros back... but does not get Heracross. Heracross eventually returns for the Johto league.
Also applies to many of Team Rocket's Pokémon, such as Weezing, Arbok, and Dustox.
Notable is James's Victreebel, who was put on a bus, and replaced with a new one in the same episode....who was also put on a bus by the end of the episode.
And in Best Wishes, they do this to all of their Pokemon.
And all of the first 493 Pokemon except Pikachu and Meowth in Best Wishesat first.
Sailor Moon did this to Chibiusa whenever they sent her back to the future, though after the first time the reasoning was dubious. Mamoru was put on a plane for the Stars season of the first anime, and his fate remained unknown until the final showdown with the Big Bad. The Outer Senshi themselves have a habit of showing up for arbitrarily specific dangers, mostly so the writers can prune down the cast manageably. Sailor Senshi Placeholder Naru was continuously put on a bus after the introduction of all the actual senshi, being brought back several times until she was just written out completely in the last season.
Goku was put on a bus temporarily after the Frieza saga, with his whereabouts unknown until he came back 12 episodes later. During his absence, Gohan assumed the role of the series' main character.
Goku was put on another bus at the end of the Cell saga, with the focus returning to teenaged Gohan for a while before Goku returned once more.
Tien and Chiaotzu were put on a permanent bus after the Cell arc. They got a few cameos each afterwards, but for the most part, this bus stayed out of town.
Maron, Krillin's girlfriend during Goku's absence, was put on a bus after the Garlic Jr. saga. The bus briefly came back in the middle of the Android saga, but left again, never to return.
Android 17 was put on a bus after being absorbed by Cell. The bus came back in GT when he merged with a clone and became the main villain. Afterwards, he was never seen again.
All the villains in the series are put on busses after their defeats, but Cell and Frieza reappeared in hell afterwards in late DBZ and DBGT. The rest stay gone.
Launch is put in a bus in the first saga of DBZ. She's last seem getting drunk a bar, but makes a very brief cameo appearance in the Kid Buu saga giving Goku energy with the other earthlings. In the manga, she was put on a bus after the DB portion, and remains absent for the rest of the series.
Future Trunks was put on a bus when he went back to his timeline. The bus never came back, but the present-day Trunks remained in the show.
In Slayers, Zelgadis was put on a bus after the first arc wrapped up. He reappeared 8 episodes later, and stayed a main character for the rest of the franchise. Sylphiel was also put on a bus in Slayers TRY (season 3), being replaced by the Golden Dragon Filia, and doesn't return until the end of season 4 (Slayers Revolution). Filia herself was also bussed off immediately after TRY ended, along with all of the other characters exclusive to that season.
Amelia is randomly put on a bus at various points in the first arc of the novels (seasons 1 and 2 of the anime are based off of them), and she, Zelgadis, and Xellos are put on a bus after the first arc ended. They are replaced with Luke and Milina; unfortunately, the latter two weren't popular enough to appear in other media (other than the Hourglass of Falces manga).
Finally, Zelgadis was absent without explanation in the Knight of the Aqualord manga; Lina, Gourry, and Amelia all have major roles in that story.
Tenma went overseas and essentially out of the mainstream storyline of School Rumble.
In Mai-HiME, this happens to Akane Higurashi after her boyfriend and MIP Kazuya is killed as a side-effect of Miyu destroying Akane's CHILD. She's shown twice afterwards in a particularly heartbreaking Heroic BSOD state, which she doesn't recover from until the end of the series... when Mashiro revives Kazuya and restores her powers just in time for her and the defeated HiMEs to join Mai and Mikoto in the last battle.
It happened to her Mai-Otome counterpart, as well. She disappears after the midway point of the series to run off with her newfound lover, only to return for the final showdown.
Mai's friends Chie and Aoi leave the school after it shuts down, and are thus absent for the climax.
The military structure of the Space-Time Administration Bureau in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha makes this easy. Don't need someone for now? Just ship them off to a post that the current arc isn't focusing on. Need them back? Either reassign them to the main characters' branch or have their department help out on the current crisis.
The most blatant example would be Fugo leaving Giorno's group in the middle of Part 5 (because he thought their mission was suicide) and never gets mentioned again. (The real life reason being that Araki made his Stand too cheap to write good fights for.)
Joseph after leaving Morioh at the end of Part 4 is never so much as mentioned again. Now, seeing as he was about 80, it's safe to assume he's dead, but it's still pretty odd that it's never been brought up for a main character.
Giorno is last shown at the end of Part 5 and was later stated by Word of God to be in Florida during Part 6 after Pucci gained the Joestar birthmark. He should have been drawn to Pucci by the bloodline connection, but still doesn't appear. If he did, his No Sell ability would've been very useful against the Gravity Sucks and later Ret Gone abilities of Pucci's Stand
In Hitohira, Mugi's best friend Kayo announces out of the blue that she will be studying photography abroad—which is a bit strange, since she didn't even finish her high school education yet. No further details are given, not even where she will be going, and her disappearance is obviously used as a device to cause Mugi large amounts of angst.
In the Cardcaptor Sakura anime, Meiling returns to Hong Kong just before the climax of the first arc. She makes guest appearances near the end of the second arc and in the movie epilogue.
A great deal of minor characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! are frequently brought back after being sent off, including Duke Devlin, Mai Valentine, Serenity Wheeler, and countless others. But then, almost every season a new duel tournament begins, so they have a semi-genuine reason to bring back the old characters all at once.
In Season 3, the Ishtars board a plane home to Egypt and return in the final season.
He returned next season to give some Expo Speak and a little Techno Babble... and got put on a bus all over again. And he started out as a major character, too, before being Demoted to Extra. Poor guy practically had a bus pass.
MÄR. Snow is absent for 26 episodes straight in the anime after being captured. She was also captured in the manga but it was much shorter (only about 20 or so chapters, equivalent to maybe 8-10 episodes normally), the main reason is because various filler episodes delayed her rescue for some time. She only shows up in flashbacks/stock footage when Ginta occasionally angsts about how he wants to save her.
Yasuko from Aoi Hana conveniently starts studying in England, after she fulfilled her role of causing Fumi lots of heartbreak and teenage angst.
Koromo from Saki simply doesn't attend the individual tournament, limiting her displays of Mahjong prowess to a few scenes in the team tournament arc.
Noel and Chisato in the manga and anime versions of Star Ocean: The Second Story suffered this fate, as both the manga and the anime got interrupted before the Energy Nede arc. And as a result, the manga adaptation of Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, the direct sequel of Second Story does as if they never existed.
And speaking of the Blue Sphere manga, Bowman was hit with this trope too, as by the beginning of it he's a father, and the team wanted him to stay with his family. After the first few chapters, he's never brought up again in the storyline. Oh, did we mention that Bowman joins the team no matter what in the original game?
In Mahou Sensei Negima!, about half of Negi's class gets put on a bus when the magic world arc starts. Or rather, they're left behind when the main cast gets on the bus.
Played straight with Magnificent BastardChao, when she returns to the future. Unlike many examples of this trope, she is still referenced often, and the likelihood of an eventual The Bus Came Back is especially good considering her...unique insight into who the main protagonist will eventually end up with.
The entire cast of One Piece not so much gets put on a bus but earn frequent flyer miles as they are knocked to various locations. Though, everyone's location is given to you and it's assumed they will all return.
Since every arc of One Piece takes place on a different island, and the story follows the journey of Straw Hats, everyone who is not a Straw Hat or a traveling companion of theirs more or less gets put on a bus when they leave an island. In case of most civilians who don't leave their island, they are still on the bus except for maybe a few cameos from time to time, but most pirates and marines also travel around their world so they often meet up with the Straw Hats again on another island or are implied to do it in the future.
In Bakuman。Nakai, after in the course of a few days, alienating Aoki by asking her to be his girlfriend in order for him to draw for her, losing his job as assistant when the manga he's working on gets canceled, alienating his fellow assistant when his proposal for Aoki comes to light, and upsetting quite a few of his friends as a result, decides that he used his art skills for the wrong reasons, and leaves for home. Takagi considers having him come back and work for them as an assistant, but Mashiro suggests that if he comes back, it should be as a mangaka, before the scene cuts to Nakai discontent with his life and looking a some manga volumes. It's also worth noting that Fukuda asked him if he was willing to let things end the way they did as he left, which is some indication that he may not.
The bus came back, and he's just as bad as when he left.
Student council president and local Casanova Touga Kiryuu of Revolutionary Girl Utena, after he loses his rematch with Utena, is absent until the penultimate episode of the Black Rose Arc. From what's shown after the match, he spent over ten episodes sitting in a chair in his home and not moving. This happens with many of the series' characters (especially the classmates that become Black Rose duelists), but Touga is the most notable example.
At the end of the Lost Agent Arc, the Fullbringers are written out of the story. Riruka departs alone after a plea for people to forget her. Shishigawara, Jackie and Yukio go their own separates, although Yukio does comment that in three years time, he'll reform the group. Ginjou, Tsukishima and Giriko die, but since the dead go to the afterlife where most of the story takes place, they aren't written out so much as gain a change of address.
Tensa Zangetsu's sword form was shattered and Mayuri says there's no coming back from that for a zanpakutou's bankai, so Ichigo had to get his zanpakutou completely remade. What his new bankai will be, and the consequences for Tensa Zangetsu, have not been revealed.
CLANNAD has a curious variety, in that Fuko gets written out of the story by having people completely forget about her.
Additionally, due to the Visual Novel Origin of the series, characters will often be put on short bus trips for the story arcs that don't concern them. Examples include Sunohara's whereabouts in the Kotomi arc, Nagisa at several points in the story, Kotomi, Ryou, and Kyou in the Miyazawa arc, and Miyazawa in almost every arc besides her own and the "Absent Nagisa" storylines.
A lot of characters in Bakugan have been loaded onto buses.
Star Driver has done this twice so far, both with characters that happen to be Maidens. After the seals of both Sakana and Mizuno are broken and their respective arcs end, they leave Southern Cross Isle and go to the mainland.
Robotech: In the comic Prelude to Shadow Chronicles, Max Sterling (Max Jenius of Macross) is referred to but never seen. He was apparently operating in another sector. He is ordered to return to SDF-3 after supervising weapon tests in the Omicron sector. We don't see him return and if he did, he's presumably missing with the SDF-3, Rick Hunter (Hikaru Ichijo) and all the other Macross era characters that need to be phased out due to licensing restrictions.
Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: The epilogue shows Judau Ashta leaving the AEUG, and going on a trip to Jupiter with Roux Louka aboard a Jupitris-class cruiser - where he is reunited with his sister Leina.
In Amanchu!, Ai and her twin brother Makoto are suspiciously absent during the "visitors from Tokyo" arc.
In Hunter × Hunter Leorio and Kurapika, two of the main characters we're put in a bus for years! Fortunately, they both have been seen in later chapters.
Ironically, it looks like Killua has been put on a bus since he's off to travel with his brother Alluka for a bit.
The most prominent example in Naruto is Yamato who is put on a bus since the beginning of the Fourth Shinobi World War. He doesn't show up again until Chapter 677.
During the Sasuke's Rescure arc, most jonin and chunin and some genin (Shino) were send to other missions, so Tsunade was forced to send a team of a fresh chunin (Shikamaru) and four genins (Naruto, Neji, Choji and Kiba). Shino lampshaded that he's still ashamed from being put on a pus at that time and he wanted to part of the rescue team. And Sakura was put on a bus because she was too bad for the team.
Sasuke disappeared for three years in the story and wasn't there during the Gaara's Rescue arc.
Kakashi was put on a bus for one arc after Gaara was rescued, due to exhaustion of his last battle.
Kakashi is currently put on a bus again since his fight against Obito and he's sitting in the world of Kamui where he sews his cut wounds. However, he can apparently see what Obito can see.
During the Pain arc, Team Guy and Hiashi Hyuga were send to other missions. The Team Guy showed up later, but they couldn't do anything.
In the manga, Anko appeared only in the Chunin Exam arc and the Fourth Shinobi World War where she's recently put on a bus again.
Iruka, the first teacher and an important character for Naruto, is so barely seen that you can count all of his appearances by hand.
Annie seems to be suffering from this when she joins the Military Police Brigade, but she spends the next storyline as the primary antagonist in her Titan form. Once revealed and cornered, though, she puts herself in a Crystal Prison and has been in custody offscreen since.
Reiner, Bertolt, and Ymir all flee human territory in the aftermath of the climatic battle with the multi-branch force, leaving when or if they'll reappear again anyone's guess.
In Beyblade, all teams who weren't the Bladebreakers in season 1 were put on a bus in season 2. most of them come back in season 3, but mostly imcomplete and Demoted to Extra. The teams introduced in season 2 disappeared before season 3.
Most of the Justice League members added to the team under Dwayne McDuffie's tenure ended up being written out in this manner once James Robinson took over and decided he wanted to write his own characters. Zatanna seemingly had an emotional breakdown and quit offscreen, Vixen took a "leave of absence" to heal from some recent injuries and then was never seen or mentioned again in that series, Green Lantern left without an explanation, and Firestorm also quit offscreen after the death of his girlfriend. Each of those characters save for Green Lantern would later return in subsequent volumes of the franchise. Ironically enough, this happened to the majority of Robinson's new characters, who quit offscreen after his first three issues.
Two female human pilots left Rogue Squadron. Elscol, a guerrilla leader before Wedge recruited her, left because of command issues and because she believed she could do better working on the ground. Plourr, a Boisterous Bruiser who turned out to be a princess, left because revolutions had torn up her homeworld and she needed to rule and bring it back under control. Oddly, it's Plourr who was written back in, and very quickly. A drop-in commando character recurred, but Elscol did not. Well, not in the comics. She did have a role in one of the novels.
This was originally Asajj Ventress's fate in the Star Wars Expanded Universe comic series Obsession. Having been betrayed by Count Dooku, Ventress decides she's had enough of the Clone Wars, hijacks a Republic medical shuttle and flies off into parts unknown never to be seen again. Well, then Star Wars: The Clone Wars came along and decided that none of that happened.
Karolina was put on a spaceship right after the "True Believers" arc of Runaways. To make a very long story short, she had to go back to her home planet with Xavin in order to help end a war. However, they returned before the end of that volume.
A Scooby-Doo comic features a subplot where Scrappy goes to a gambling table and begins winning hotels. At the end, he declares that he has won hotels and vanishes from the Mystery Machine, where the gang discovers he was using the solid hologram device from that story. The last panel has Scooby leave the van to go back to Las Vegas to get him, but by the next comic, Scrappy isn't anywhere to be seen, so presumably the gang left him there to run his hotels.
Calvin and Hobbes has this in the form of Uncle Max. Watterson introduced him into the strip but quickly realized he hadn't put enough thought into the character, and wasn't quite sure what to do with him. After visiting once, Max goes back home and is never seen or mentioned again.
Word of God says that another problem with Max was that his dialog was really hard to write: Watterson had a policy that Calvin's parents never be given names beyond "mom" and "dad," but this made their conversations with Max incredibly awkward. Thanks to Max, Watterson developed a personal rule that none of the supporting characters should be given outside friends or interests.
In the Denny O'Neil / Neal Adams run of Green Lantern, Guy Gardner was hit by a bus to make way for John Stewart. After enduring several circumstances (having Hal's Power Battery explode, trapping him in the Phantom Zone, rescued from it, and rendered catatonic), he would then play a greater role in the Green Lantern comics following the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Did you know that Catwoman had a daughter in the One Year Later storyline of Infinite Crisis? No? Good, because DC would prefer you forget that ever happened.
The Justice Society of America following Crisis on Infinite Earths, when they decided to disband after the merging of the Earths but were called to alter the outcome of the Norse gods' Ragnarok in order to prevent Adolf Hitler from retroactively destroying the universe in 1945, which caused the team to remain trapped in a never-ending fight cycle until several years later in Armageddon: Inferno.
Zap Zodiac a comic strip in The Beano ended in a way so that the strip was left open to return in the future. But as of 2011 bus has not yet returned to Beanotown.
Practically every character gets put on a bus at some point in Scott Pilgrim. Kim even gets put on a literal bus at the end of volume five and doesn't return till halfway through six.
In the X-Wing Series comics, Plourr Illo had an arc which showed her to be a Badassexpy of Anastasia, the last princess of a line that had died in revolution. She returned to her homeworld and waded into the teeth of a new revolution that was even more violent than the last. At the end of it, she chose to stay and rule her planet while the Rogues left. They left her her X-Wing and Wedge told her "You've saved your world. When you're ready, come back and save the rest of us." And she and a squadron of fighters from her homeworld did have a Big Damn Heroes moment at the end of the very next arc, and she complained about how boring politics was. But the very next issue after that had her serving full-time with the Rogues again, flying into combat and getting into fistfights. Weird.
Subverted in Transformers: Robots In Disguise. Wheelie, Garnak, and Hardhead are not seen for several issues despite having been semi-important characters and then in issue #5 Ironhide makes an offhand comment about Wheelie having left Cybertron. With all of this it seems as if the characters have been put on the bus. Then in very next issue we leave Cybertron and pick up with the three of them and see where they went, why they left, and what kind of adventures they're getting into right now.
When Geoff Johns took over Green Lantern, he started bringing back characters from the mythos. There was some fan interest in a giant canine GL named G'Nort. Johns insisted that G'Nort was dead. Then, during Blackest Night, when dead people started coming back, people asked about G'Nort... and were told that G'Nort was not coming. The implication being that G'Nort was on a bus, under a bridgewhich was itself on fire.
Legal matters resulted in every Echidna except Knuckles and Finitevus, as well as Charmy's girlfriend Saffron, being tossed through a warp ring by Thrash. What makes this funnier is that they disappear between issues: one issue ends with Sonic fighting Lien-Da, the next has Sonic coming to after being knocked out and finding the battlefield deserted!
Earlier, Sleuth Dawg decided he was done and walked out, promising not to be seen again. In a Q&A, Ian Flynn admitted it was because he simply found him too boring a character.
And before him was Dulcy the Dragon, who hasn't been seen since #107
Too many characters to list in The Tainted Grimoire. This is because Clan Gully and many of the people they meet do a lot of traveling.
Commuting on a Bus: Micaiah and Francesca both have long periods of absence between their multiple re-appearances.
In the Pony POV Series, Trixie leaves Ponyville after the conclusion of the Princess Gaia arc and returns home to her family. She makes a cameo appearance in the "Retcon-Struction Blues" special episode, but it doesn't become a full The Bus Came Back example until the Wedding Arc.
They Shook Hands by Dethryl. When first written, after Goblet of Fire, the character of Blaise Zabini was written as female. When the canon was complete, Dethryl revised the series and renamed the character Tracy Davis. The real Blaise was given a cameo appearance and then taken out of school after the troll incident.
By the end of chapter 16, Akuto and Junko make a cameo.
Chapter 17 has Korone returning.
My Little Pony fanfic "The New Six" is set in an alternate universe where all of the Mane 6 members are gone. This trope applies to all of the six except Twilight (who died) and Applejack (who still lives in Ponyville). Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie moved to the alternate version of Appleloosa, Rainbow Dash left to travel the world, and we don't know what happened to Rarity yet.
Fallen King has Yami Yugi, who is made to leave by Joey and the others. Pegasus lampshades that it was a dumb move soon after he disappears.
In the Back to the Future sequels, Marty's girlfriend Jennifer is passed out asleep quickly and (except for an incident where she discovers something important about Marty's future and promptly passes out again from encountering her future self) stays there until the end of the third movie. In the DVD commentary, the writers admit that if they'd known they were actually going to do a sequel, they wouldn't have had Jennifer get in the DeLorean at the end of the original movie, because they didn't know what to do with her.
Commissioner Gordon's entire family was put on a bus to Cleveland (explained by his wife leaving him and taking the kids with her). This conveniently removed his daughter Barbara from the story, who might have been just old enough to begin being Batgirl.
In the film Coal Miners Daughter Lorretta and Doolittle leave their four kids with a relative to pursue her musical career. They were not seen for the rest of the film and were only mentioned once in a handwave.
In The Truman Show, Truman's father was quite literally and forcefully put on a bus immediately when Truman recognized him for who he was. As in, FORCED onto a moving bus by other people as Truman chased him and was blocked by a passing bicycle mob.
Nightcrawler didn't appear in X-Men: The Last Stand, with no explanation given. (The in-universe explanation appears in X-Men: The Official Game where Nightcrawler leaves due to the X-Men's missions clashing with his peaceful nature; The real life one was Alan Cumming refusing to return without Bryan Singer, especially since he was not fond of the torturous makeup sessions. In one of the behind-the-scenes featurettes, he readily admits that he doesn't think he could come back and go through it again.)
Bean at the end of Shadow of the Giant is put on a relativistic spaceship with his genetically modified children so that they can live until the development of a cure.
Witkacy in Dora Wilk Series. After starring in book one as one of side characters and then appearing briefly in book two, he was sent out for basic magical training out of town and, despite being mentioned several times as Dora's trainee off-screen, hasn't reappeared yet.
Father Callahan from the Stephen King novel 'Salem's Lot went off on a literal bus near the end of the book, and rather unexpectedly reappeared years later in the loosely related The Dark Tower series as a church pastor in another dimension. It is explained he spent a lot of the intervening time killing vampires.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, the character Rickon gets put on a bus — or sent off with a wildling woman of dubious allegiance — at the end of Book 2 and hasn't been heard from since, mainly because the author found writing for a four-year-old difficult. It is anticipated he will return, possibly badassed up, with his psychotic direwolf, in later installments.
Benjen Stark has been MIA since early in the first book after going on a scouting mission north of the Wall.
Hard-drinking amateur detective Gideon Fell is married to a rabid teetotaler. Once the first novel was finished, John Dickson Carr didn't so much put Mrs. Fell on a bus as he renovated the bus into a nice RV for her and sent her off for most of the series.
In Star Trek: The Battle of Betazed, Lwaxana Troi features heavily. However, Mr. Homn (her valet), is strangely absent, and indeed isn't even mentioned. This despite usually appearing whenever and wherever she does (or being specifically mentioned as travelling elsewhere if not). A later novel went and transformed this into a Bus Crash; Star Trek: A Time to... revealed that he died during the initial invasion, so explaining his absence. The death is eventually shown in a short story, part of the Tales of the Dominion War anthology.
Happens in the sixth Septimus Heap book, where Snorri's mother comes to take her home.
Even the second book put Simon and Merrin on a bus, for them to return in the fourth.
Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Charles Martin was essentially put on this in the book Under the Radar. He comes back to stay by the book Vanishing Act.
The Riftwar Cycle character Owyn Beleforte was key to the plot of Betrayal at Krondor and its novelization, Krondor: The Betrayal. Then he was put on a bus and never heard from again (Save for a one page reference in the next book stating where the bus is going). Strangely, the bus heads in different directions in each media: In the game, he gets a crown-paid scholarship to Stardock and potentially becomes a great wizard. In the books, he goes home and spends the rest of his life in a part of the Kingdom that is generally irrelevant to the plot of the series.
Before the end of the first book, the Starling triplets in The 39 Clues are caught in an explosion rigged by the Holts and end up in the hospital with serious injuries. They barely garner a mention in any of the next nine books, but return in the tenth book in time for the series' conclusion.
In the first six books of Galaxy of Fear, Hoole is distant and irritable and doesn't relate too well to his adoptive niece and nephew, so has his droid assistant DV-9 give them lessons and do most of the interaction with them. After Army of Terror the droid finally objects to how much danger he's been taken into, so Hoole sets him free and the droid starts working somewhere safe. By that time Hoole's relationship with Tash and Zak has warmed considerably, so the droid isn't needed anymore. He does briefly appear at the end of the series, but likes the safety too much to go with them again.
In Michael Grant's GONE series, Justin has his own story arc in LIES and is set up to be a prominent character. Then he randomly disappears in the adjacent book PLAGUE, only to suddenly resurface as a side-character in FEAR.
Live Action TV
In Auction Kings, Several of the old experts haven't been seen in a while. Sometimes items of their expertise don't come in. Other times, they just vanish.
''Dennis the Menace: When Joseph Kearns, who played the cantankerous George Wilson, died suddenly in February 1962 (a time when filming of the current season was still ongoing), the producers had to make some hasty changes that eventually put Mr. Wilson (and wife, Martha) on a bus. Those changes, which extended into the fall of 1962, were as thus:
Initially: Two scripts where Mr. Wilson was either non-essential to the story or did not appear were shot first, with his lines either being removed or rewritten for other characters.
The last six (6) episodes of Season 3: With George "out east on business," George's brother, John (Gale Gordon) stays at the Wilsons. John will remain with the show for the remainder of the run.
Starting with Season 4: Sylvia Field, who played Martha, is let go, and she and George have moved away, presumably "out east." After a few scattered mentions of the original Wilsons in several early fall 1962 episodes, the two are never seen or referred to again.
In The Sopranos, Tony puts Janice on a literal bus after she shoots her fiancé. Yep, she comes back.
The Bold And The Beautiful: Taylor Hayes was a particularly egregious example. After being shot in 2002, and being discovered as Not Quite Dead in 2005, the character appeared in cameos as a silent ghost several times during the intervening three years.
Zigzagged in Kamen Rider OOO episode #38. Date looked as if he was dying, but in reality he faked his death to give Gotou the drive to become the new Kamen Rider Birth so that he can replace him. He receives 50 million yen from Kougami for his services and leaves Japan to undergo his operation, leaving Gotou as the new Birth — only to come back in #46 to aid him as Birth Prototype.
In Home Improvement, Randy Taylor goes to Costa Rica for a school trip. He only makes one appearance later on in the show, a Christmas Special, where he notes how no one even missed him (except the viewers).
In Monk, Mr. Monk's original assistant, Sharona Fleming, left Monk to re-marry her husband. She makes a guest appearance in an episode in the final season, and is mentioned once more during the series finale.
This is the standard way for Law & Order franchises to write out characters, especially over the last several years. Dick Wolf is said to regret that Jill Hennessy's Claire Kincaid was Killed Off for Real, and thus could not be brought back.
More examples from the Law & Order realm: Jamie goes back to criminal defense, Alex goes into Witness Protection, Abbie goes to work for the feds, Serena is fired, etc.
Alex was then brought back in season ten of SVU, and after a short stint in the Court of Appeals, Stephanie March had her name added to the opening credits once again in episode five of the eleventh season.
Before returning to SVU, Alex had her own show, Conviction, where she was a Bureau Chief in charge of several other ADAs. It only lasted 13 episodes.
In a double whammy of SVU's season 9 finale, both Chester Lake and Casey Novak were put on a bus. Chester for shooting a cop accused of raping two women. Casey Novak was suspended for her actions during Chester's trial. Immediately in the next season we learn Novak was fully disbarred for every rule she broke that season. This was later retconned into her merely be censured, and she has since then come back and worked with the unit again.
Beginning Season 13, SVU's FBI psychiatrist George Huang was absent for more than a year with no mention at all until his guest appearance 20 episodes later with the simple explanation of having been reassigned to Oklahoma.
In the same vein as above, Max Cavanaugh, the father of Jill Hennesey's Jordan Cavanaugh in Crossing Jordan, "went underground" after being suspected of killing a police officer. That he was quickly cleared didn't apparently give him enough reason to return, giving the show an opportunity to cut a large set out of the expected places to put scenes.
Three's Company had this happen with a bunch of characters. The Ropers were screwed when they were written out of the show and their spinoff was canceled. They only returned once as guest stars for an episode a couple years later. Suzanne Somers's character, Chrissy Snow was also sent away when her contract wasn't renewed because of her protesting for a pay raise. Her character was sent off to tend to her sick aunt. She spent the rest of her run on the show in brief on-the-phone segments until her contract ran out.
In The War Machines Dodo is sent off to the country to recuperate after being brainwashed in London, and is never seen again.
After being trapped on a parallel Earth with no chance of return twice, Mickey returns to the Doctor's universe in "Journey's End" for more (so far unseen) adventures.
The final 10th Doctor episode "The End Of Time" shows that he and Martha got married and became independent alien hunters together
This is also the standard way that companions have exited the series throughout its existence. Exceptions include Katarina and Adric, who were Killed Off for Real.
In the case of Leela, Louise Jameson found her character Put on a Bus against her will — Jameson wanted to leave, and at the time had no real interest in returning sometime down the line, and so asked that her character die at the end of her last serial. The producers decided the event might be too traumatic for children (more likely, they were concerned about the increasing violence in the show — the series was already being targeted by Media Watchdogs), and so instead had a last-minute romance occur between her and a capitol guard, prompting her to stay on Gallifrey.
In the cases of Grace Holloway and Chang Lee from the TV movie, rights issues between the BBC and Universal Studios currently prevents the two characters from reappearing anywhere in the Whoniverse (and that includes the Expanded Universe). If they do get mentioned at all, it's through a very oblique reference.
While both are excluded from Big Finish audios and the novels, Grace has appeared in at least four separate comic stories, with significant roles in both The Fallen and the Eighth Doctor's chapter of Prisoners of Time. Chang Lee, however, has yet to reappear.
Having reintroduced K-9 in Sarah Jane's guest reappearance of Doctor Who, the entire first series of Sarah Jane's subsequent spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures was then obliged to trap him in a black hole, since the Robot Buddy's creator had sold a K-9 series elsewhere. He gives a token appearance in the season one finale and Comic Relief special, returning as a regular in The Mad Woman In the Attic, only to be put on a bus again from The Nightmare Man.
Also in The Sarah Jane Adventures, Maria Jackson and her dad left for America as the former's actress was in her GCSE year and wanted to concentrate on her studies, making a guest role in The Mark of the Berserker.
It was originally intended for Rani to be written out at the end of season 4 (but still make guest appearances like Tommy Knight (Luke)) as the writers felt her actress was becoming too old for the programme. Rani's exit would have involved her taking a work placement in Manchester.
Had the programme not been cancelled, Clyde and Rani would either have left at the end of season 5 or midway through season 6, as their actors felt it was time for them to move on. Sky would also have left at the end of season 5 as she was only intended to be in the show for one year. She would have exited the programme by Ascending To A Higher Plane Of Existence where she would protect the Earth from the Trickster for the rest of time.
Then there's Sarah Jane herself, who left Doctor Who for a total of 30 years (The Five Doctors doesn't quite count, as the Doctor she principally interacted with was still travelling with her, even though she left. Time travel's confusing that way.) Longest. Bus. Ride. Ever.
In LOST, the character of Walt had to be written out of the show because the actor who played him, 12-year-old Malcolm David Kelley, would have aged several years while his character would have only aged three months. Walt and his father Michael were written out of the show after Michael sold out his friends to get off the island at the end of season 2. However, Michael returned for Season 4, and Walt has made guest appearances in every season since.
Claire would also find herself riding the bus for season 5, but was back in season 6.
Subverted when Edmund Burke gets hit by a bus and dies, allowing his wife Juliet to leave her "regular" life and come to the Island.
The O.C. actually cleverly subverted this (believe it or not). Everyone knew Mischa Barton was leaving the show at the end of the third season, and the episode had the plotline that she was going away to live with her dad, seemingly using this trope. However, on her way to the airport, she was in a car accident and died.
This was quite a surprising twist when it originally aired in the US. For some reason, the Australian station on which the OC was playing felt that instead of allowing the viewers to experience this shock twist, it should start having ads three weeks before the finale saying "MARISSA... WILL... DIE". Thanks, channel 10.
Cleverly subverted for a given value of clever. Many fans (even those who didn't especially care for Mischa) found it needlessly vindictive.
In Season 2, Zach was Put On A Plane (to Italy). He returned a handful of episodes later, and Seth Lampshaded the subversion:
Seth: Hey, man, you came back! People never leave and come back.
Trey (Ryan's brother) goes on a bus after the events of the end of season 2 and is never seen or heard from again.
Pete Ross was sent off this way. Interesting because he was the show's sole prominent black character, and because, despite being a main character, he hasn't been missed by the viewers. This may be because Television Without Pity calls him "Product Placement Pete" for his annoying tendency to shill stuff. The episode in which he visits is an hour-long commercial for Stride gum. While still noticeable, not nearly as glaring on the DVDs when you don't have real commercials highlighting the in show placement.
This however was long overdue since Lana being Lana was loved by the creator's and hated by the fans. The creators kept making every excuse to bring her back until 'finally giving her the boot, by giving her superpowers and absorbing a massive amount of Kryptonite radiation, making her permanently deadly to Clark......Thank God....
Rimmer went off to become the next "Ace Rimmer"(What A Guy!)in series seven of Red Dwarf. The Rimmer seen in series eight is a clone created via nanotechnology. It is unknown if the Rimmer in Back To Earth and Series X is a hologram of the series 8 Rimmer or the original having returned from being Put On A Bus.
The ship's AI, Holly, was put out of service by a flood before Back to Earth.
This is Holly's second bus trip; during Seasons 6 and 7 the main cast had lost the ship, and therefore contact with its computer.
Andie of Dawson's Creek was written off the show by sending her to Italy. She returned only once, for the gang's high school graduation. She also came back to say goodbye to Jen in the uncut DVD version of the series finale
Similarly, Janice on Head of the Class, who between seasons 3 and 4 got a scholarship to MIT, but showed up in the series finale because she forgot to pick up her high school diploma.
7th Heaven was famous for this, writing characters off by putting them on buses to New York (Mary, Matt), college (Simon), etc., only to continue the characters' plotlines offscreen.
Kate in Slings and Arrows is put on a limo to Hawaii at the beginning of the second season.
Shawn's girlfriend Abigail in Psych abruptly informed him she was taking a teaching job in Uganda.
Jack O'Neill from Stargate SG-1 gets put on a bus by being promoted out of the SGC (this was so actor Richard Dean Anderson could spend more time with his family). He still made a few appearances later in the series and in its spinoff Stargate Atlantis. General Hammond also gets put on a bus the same way.
Jonas Quinn was put on a bus after season 6 (he returned to his home planet) and came back for a guest spot in season 7.
In the 200th episode ('200'), the characters themselves point out the methods used to get around O'Neill being put on the bus, such as one-sided phone conversations.
When Peter MacNicol did a stint on 24, his NUMB3RS character was Put On A Space Station.
CSI: NY did it three times. First, Aiden left, quitting before Mac could fire her for considering planting evidence, but then her storyline ended in a combo of Bus Crash and Stuffed In The Fridge. Mac's ex girlfriend Peyton left suddenly with only a note to Mac, then The Bus Came Back for one episode. Stella left for the New Orleans crime lab.
Roswell did it with Alex Whitman. At least until it was revealed that he'd been used and abused by Tess, then killed.
Tommy was depowered and sent off, as per the arc of his Japanese counterpart, Dragon Ranger, who actually died in the storyline of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and thus Saban exhausted their supply of Dragon Ranger footage to use for the Green Ranger. When FOX ordered an extra half-season of footage, Tommy came back, a change probably also required by the ratings - hence why he was suddenly a completely different ranger (they pulled the White Ranger footage from Dairanger.)
Similarly the original Red, Yellow, and Black Rangers, Jason, Trini, and Zack, were sent to a peace conference and never appeared in the show again. The joke among the cast and crew of the show was that if you ever saw in a script that your character was going to a peace conference, you were never coming back. Jason did, however, becoming the Sixth Ranger of Power Rangers Zeo and making a couple more guest appearances.
Rita Repulsa was imprisoned by Lord Zedd back into the space dumpster at his debut episode. She crashlanded on Earth in the two-part episode "The White Light" but got sent back into space by the Rangers in the end. The three-part episode "The Wedding" marked her definitive return for the remainder of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
Rita's father, Master Vile, appeared in the series and stayed for a handful of episodes and, after getting tired of being defeated, returned to the Galaxy MI-5, where "evil always wins".
Rita, Zedd, Baboo, Squat, Finster, and the Tenga Warriors sought refuge at Master Vile's place to escape Mondo's forces. They, except for Baboo and Squat, eventually came back to rescue Rito and Goldar and fight back.
The Rangers seemingly destroyed Mondo in "Mondo's Last Stand", but Queen Machina told her son Sprocket that Mondo had survived a similar defeat before, thus foreshadowing his return. Near the end of the Zeo series, he did return. Fearing Mondo's wrath, Prince Gasket and Princess Archerina fled and were never seen again. It's unknown if Zordon's sacrifice at the end of Power Rangers in Space destroyed or purified them and, ever since an episode of Power Rangers Wild Force established the Machine Empire left survivors, if it even affected them at all.
In the last episode, the Royal House of Gadgetry was tricked into accepting an exploding gift from Lord Zedd and ended up as (barely alive) pieces. They returned in Power Rangers in Space.
Also in that episode, Bulk and Skull left the country to work in a mystery but they were back as cops in the Turbo movie without any explanation to what became of the case.
Faith gets put in a coma, then later rides the back of a truck (which is almost a bus). She then gets put in jail for a while.
Cordy and Angel shared a bus to L.A. Cordelia then gets put on a bus several times over the course of Angel.
Riley is put on a helicopter in "Into the woods", when he decides to re-join the military and go demon-hunting somewhere that's not Sunnydale.
After Tony Head expressed a desire to spend more time with his family in England, Giles was put on a plane in Season 6. The character's flimsy reasoning for this departure was Buffy's need to grow into a stronger, more stable person and Slayer, and he cited his presence, the fact that she often relied on him, as a hindrance to her self-reliance. Given it was his job as her Watcher to let her rely on him and the mountain of trauma she had recently suffered, many fans let out a collective "Huh?!" at his decision to abandon her "for her own good". This departure did allow him to be a Big Damn Hero at the end of the season, but Buffy and the team would suffer for his absence for the rest of the series. The character played a somewhat larger part in Season 7, but he was still constantly on and off the bus in the form of searching the world for Potential Slayers, leaving the rest of the team to try (and fail) to carry on effectively in his absence.
Amy. We know where she went (got turned into a rat) and she eventually returns for a few episodes after she was de-ratted.
Everyone who survived in the final episode actually escaped town in a school bus.
Harmony in Season 5.
The First Evil wasn't destroyed or trapped or anything like that, and is presumably still around, doing...whatever it does when it's not tormenting the good guys. Justified as it only had a very small window of becoming corporeal due to Buffy's resurrection and other events. It's alive but not as much of a (direct) threat.
Ethan being arrested.
This happens to Wood in S8 in an identical way to how many Fanfics do it.
Happened to Kate after Elisabeth Röhm left the show to join Law & Order. She quit fighting supernatural crime in the West Coast to fight normal crime in the East Coast.
Lindsey was put on a bus and then came back.
This is the fate of the Number Three Cylons in Battlestar Galactica. After a Number Three Cylon disobeys the consensus of the other Cylon models, it's decided that the Number Three models are inherently flawed. The Number Threes are then "boxed up" and their memories and consciousnesses downloaded into cold storage indefinitely. At least one number three is "unboxed" later on in season 4.
In EastEnders characters are regularly Put On A Train and go to live in Manchester or Spain so that the writers can bring them back. That's not to say that dead characters can't be brought back anyway, such as Den, who was shot and drowned 14 years previously. Sometimes they're Put On A London Black Cab, or (in the case of Official Couple Kat and Alfie in 2005) Put On A Ford Capri.
In Neighbours this happens all the time... characters leave very suddenly on a long holiday (e.g. Rosie and Frazer), to visit family (Sienna), to take a job elsewhere (Riley) or to have long-term medical care (Nicola, Kirsten). The worst example of this has got to be Lou Carpenter's mother-in-law Marlene, who 'went on a cruise' in 1997 and hasn't been seen since.
In the early years of Neighbours they used a very particular sequence where the departing actor would announce they were going somewhere (often, supposedly, temporarily) in one episode. During the next episode said actor would appear once, sitting on a hotel bed, making a telephone call to another cast member and would perform some exposition. The actor would never be seen (and rarely, if ever, spoken of), again.
In Babylon 5, commander Ivanova was put on a bus (given her own ship to command) when the actress left the show. She appeared a year later in the last episode, which was however filmed as the last episode of the season when the actress was still part of the cast.
Well before this, the station's original commander, Jeffrey Sinclair, is put on a bus at the beginning of the second season by being reassigned to a diplomatic post on the Minbari homeworld, and is replaced by Captain Sheridan. Sinclair reappears to make guest appearances in seasons two and three.
Given the complex nature of trying to deal with potential actor change-ups that might interfere with a tightly-plotted 5 year arc it turns out that every character had a bus ticket waiting at the will-call desk (referred to as "trapdoors") in case they needed to be changed out. With the number of major and minor characters that ended up getting on that bus it seems like Babylon was as much a bus station as a space station. Though, given the number of bus crashes they encountered it might be best just to stay.
An exception to this is the aforementioned Sinclair bus trip, which was not planned but rather precipitated by actor Michael O'Hare's mental health issues (he had schizophrenia). J. Michael Straczynskidid have a trapdoor for Sinclair, but didn't expect it to be triggered until at least after Season 2, which led to him scrambling to find a way to work it into the series believably a whole season or more earlier. Since O'Hare understandably wanted his struggles kept private, JMS didn't say the actual reason, instead saying that Sinclair's arc had run too quickly; after O'Hare's death, JMS actually said why.
Chano Amenguale was put on a bus on Barney Miller, but viewers weren't told for several seasons. Following his disappearance, no one mentioned him until a few years later when a new detective was transferred to the precinct to replace him, causing Barney to marvel at how long it took the department to send anyone.
Also Barney's wife Liz, who had been unseen on the show for several seasons after being played by Barbara Barrie in Seasons 1-2. (The producers actually came up with the separation storyline as a way of bringing Barrie, whose character had been deemed as not "working" in the context of the show, back before the viewers.)
On Grey's Anatomy, Addison Montgomery was put in a convertible to LA so that she could rediscover herself in her spin-off, Private Practice. Theoretically she was going to involve herself in more mature things than hospital Love Dodecahedrons, but whether that actually happened is doubtful.
Though since then Isaiah Washington ran off rather than marry Cristina Yang, Brooke Smith's newly lesbian character vanished the day after getting her first girl/girl orgasm from Callie O'Malley, then at the end of season five TR Knight is hit by a bus because he complained too much about not getting enough screen time.
The first time Katey Sagal (the actress who played Peggy Bundy) became pregnant during her time on Married... with Children, the producers worked it into the storyline, only to have to backtrack when Segal tragically suffered a miscarriage by making the entire season six storyline of Peg and Marcy being pregnant a dream. And on a dream episode, no less, where Al is a private eye out to clear his name when he's accused of murder. When Segal became pregnant again later in the show's run, the writers didn't go back to the "Peg is pregnant" well again, and, instead, wrote off Segal's frequent absences from the show as a storyline where Peg is traveling the world to get her parents back together after her father walks out on her.
David Garrison, who played Marcy's first husband, Steve, left the show in the fourth season to return to stage acting. On the show, Steve was written off as having left Marcy so he could work as a forest ranger in Yosemite National Park (though, as a favor to the writers, Steve has returned on a few occasions: on the season six episode where Steve is on the run from the FBI for stealing a rare bird's egg, on a later episode where Al can't find his car after it's been through the car wash, and a Poorly Disguised Pilot where Steve is the dean of Trumaine University [the college Bud was enrolled in from seasons seven to ten] and Marcy protests against two Dumbass DJs)
When Peggy read a pirate story, she incorporated several characters from the series into the tale. David Garrison played Rubio the Cruel and was credited as Steve Rhodes.
This happens to Foreman, Cameron and Chase in the 3rd season finale of House. Foreman later returns in season 4, while Cameron and Chase make cameo appearances. Interestingly enough, Amber is put on a bus in the 4th season finale, although this probably doesn't qualify for tolerably obvious reasons...
Season 6 has a lot of bus jumps. Cameron moves from the commute to a more permanent bus, Chase jumps off the commuting bus and into the cast, while Taub was temporarily bussed until House got his licence back. (Probably to give his actor a break). 13 appeared to be on the bus, but it was too temporary to count.
And in Season 7, 13 vanishes for the majority of the season.
In Blues Clues, to help its impressionable young viewers cope more easily with the resignation of host Steve Burns, he supposedly leaves to go to college and is quickly replaced by a brother, Joe.
In the last season of The Avengers, writers dealt with Tara King's uselessness by putting her in drugged sleep for an episode and sending her on vacation for another (in which she was replaced by another character).
'Allo 'Allo! did this quite regularly, usually lampshaded through the ridiculous way the character left.
After her actress' departure from the show at the end of the third series, they opted to explain why Maria had suddenly vanished when she was trapped in the prison camp for British soldiers with the majority of rest of the primary cast by explaining that she had attempted to escape by disguising herself as a package and getting mailed out. Unfortunately, she didn't have enough stamps and was as such "returned to Switzerland."
The original Le Clerc visited his brother in prison, and switched places with him because he preferred it to the cafe.
Hans Geering was spirited away by the Communist resistance and sent to England because he was disguised as a British officer - he then defected, even reprising his role as a British intelligence worker a few seasons later.
The two British airmen were eventually explained to have escaped back to England on a submarine, 'disguised as a couple of squids'. They came Back for the Finale.
Only the Italian Captain Bertorelli is given a serious explaination - the series skips forward to a time after Italy have surrendered.
Big Wolf on Campus first season character Stacy Hansen is a prime example of this trope. It's revealed at the start of the Second Season that she had left for college. Though, she never did return and was never mentioned again. This is somewhat based on real life in that the actress who played Stacy really DID go to college.
Alexis Meade of Ugly Betty. Reportedly, Rebecca Romijn didn't like the way the character was being written. Also the fate of Ashley Jensen's character Christina.
Heroes does this a lot. Season 2 did it to the spouses and children of every married character, plus Matt's FBI partner. DL had a bridge dropped on him instead. Season 3 alone has:
Sent Molly off to India with a passing throwaway line
Removed Maya's power and had her depart for... somewhere, although she is later shown to be living in an apartment (likely in America, given how Mohinder tried to visit her).
Micah was after one episode, apparently not in the least curious after a woman identical to his dead mother appears and asks for his help. He returns in Volume 4, though....
Caitlin, Peter's Irish girlfriend from Volume 2 is left stranded in an alternate future that the season finale prevents from coming to pass, and never mentioned again. Good luck getting back from that one.
The one with the best execution was Claude's departure in Season 1: it's built into his character since he's invisible. After HRG and the Haitian attack him and Peter, he turns invisible and runs out of Peter's apartment and he hasn't been seen on screen since. But he did play a major role in one of the online graphic novels and they've subtly alluded to him a few times onscreen, so his fans are pretty sure that the writers are bringing him back.
One of the most notorious and self-influential incidents in Beverly Hills 90210's narrative history was putting Brenda Walsh, the show's powerhouse, on a plane to London after actress Shannen Doherty was fired for repeated unprofessional behaviour. Brenda was only supposed to stay in London for a year, but never reappeared in the original show. Charmed, the next Aaron Spelling product that Doherty starred in, went one further when the actress was dismissed (again) and killed off her character.
Leo from Charmed was put on a bus in season 8 temporarily (the network slashed the budget in half and the actor had to be written out of the show for about ten episodes) when he had to be frozen in time to prevent him being killed in the crossfire of the battle between the Charmed Ones and the Ultimate Power.
In Hustle season 5, Danny and Stacie are revealed to have gone to America after season 4, hence their absence from the gang. Though, given that the gang was in the US at the end of season 4 (more or less) this might be more a matter of "didn't catch the bus home".
NewsRadio sent Catherine on a plane to London in Season 4. She returned for the tribute episode following Phil Hartman's death.
In MacGyver, Pete Thornton casually comments at the start of one episode that Nikki Carpenter is on assignment in South America. She is never heard from or mentioned again in the show.
An NCIS example is Gerald, Ducky's first assistant who is shot in the shoulder, requiring several months of rehab. And just as he is about to come back, he is kidnapped by the same man who shot him. He never returns and we don't find out what happened to him.
The kidnapping is resolved by Ducky trading himself in for Gerard. It is later mentioned that Gerald left NCIS due to his shoulder injury and he is replaced by Jimmy Palmer.
The writers unfortunately did this with the very annoying Agent Barrett.
In The Wire's fourth and fifth season, several characters who were assumed to have been put on a bus reappear. Nick Sobotka (who was last seen in season two peering out at the Baltimore docks before going into witness protection) reappears as a belligerent protestor at a news conference at the docks in the fifth season, and is subsequently arrested. The Greek (who left the country in season two) reappears at the end of season four, and makes a couple sporadic appearances afterwards. Judge Phelan returns for the final episode after being gone for two seasons, and Steve Earle takes two seasons off before returning in season four as Bubbles' AA sponsor, Weyland. In a much straighter version of this trope, Brother Mouzone disappears after helping Omar successfully assassinate Stringer Bell.
Played straight when Omar is put on a bus to New York at the end of the first season while he waits for Bawlmer to cool off a bit.
In Blake's 7the entire cast is scattered after having to bail out of their ship in the opening episode of Season 3 after a massive space battle involving thousands of ships. Most of the regular cast reunite, apart from Blake and Jenna. The characters spend much of the next two years trying to find Blake, but Jenna gets forgotten about. When Blake does return in the series finale, he says Jenna is dead. However, in the closing moments of the show he reveals that all of his actions in the finale were a morass of deception and lies to see if his old crewmembers were still loyal to his ideals and test their reactions, so the fate of Jenna is very much left up in the air. If she was still alive, that makes her the sole regular castmember of the show not to be killed off (with the possible exception of ORAC, who vanishes before the final scene).
There was some ambiguity about all the deaths except that of Blake himself (the actor requested that it be clear that Blake be decisively killed), making it something of a Bolivian Army Ending. Specifically, fanon has it that Vila avoided getting killed by faking it, as his actor falls the wrong way.
Annyong from Arrested Development left the scene early in season 2 when Lucille ships him off to the Milford Academy, only to reappear late in season 3 to plot his revenge against the Bluths. It even turned out that he never even arrived at the academy but instead was living inside the walls of their model home gathering intel on them, as well as vandalizing the Banana Stand offscreen
On Breaking Bad, Mike was left injured in Mexico towards the end of season 4, most likely so that his character wouldn't be around during Gus's final face-off with Walt. He did get better, and plays a larger role in S5.
Requisite The X-Files example: David Duchovny decided to leave after its seventh season. Like Gillian Anderson's pregnancy six years before, this decision changed the entire future of the show: Mulder went on the run, Agents Doggett and Reyes joined the cast, and Mulder and Scully finally get their happy ending (until the movie six years later, when they're both dragged out of hiding to help the FBI, which Scully really doesn't want to do...)
Sam Seaborne from The West Wing disappears entirely after losing his election and doesn't get brought back until the last few episodes of the final season. In that case, it's because Rob Lowe was leaving to star in his own show.
In That '70s Show, main characters Eric Forman and Kelso are both written out due to their respective actors working on other projects. Eric leaves in the seventh season finale to teach in Africa; Kelso remains among the cast for the first few episodes of Season 8 before leaving for Chicago. Both make guest appearances in the finale episode.
Due to Tommy Chong's prison sentence, his character spends a portion of the series on vacation, returning just after Chong's release.
Played straight in McLeod's Daughters, many times. Becky's one true love, Brett, is sent off an a bus to go find a job—then comes back to propose to her, but falls off a bridge and dies before ever seeing her. Becky later gets on a bus to go to college, and never comes back. Meg gets on a bus and goes off to the woods to write a book. Jodi's first love, Roberto, gets on a bus to get his visa straightened out in his home country, then comes back on the same bus to marry her, until she gets cold feet. You'd think this was the only way to get out of Nowhereville, Australia. That or getting killed in a freak accident, which a lot of characters have also opted for.
The Dukes of Hazzard: When stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat held out in a salary dispute prior to season 5, their characters of Bo and Luke were sent off to "join the NASCAR circuit" and given a pair of Suspiciously Similar Substitutes in cousins Coy and Vance. Once Schneider and Wopat resolved their contracts, Bo and Luke were brought back to the show while Bryon Cherry and Christopher Mayer (who played Coy and Vance) were quickly and unceremoniously shown the door.
Sheriff Roscoe was also (back to the Police Academy) for a few episodes in season 2 due to James Best having his own dispute with producers. Ironically, one of the two men who replaced him at the time was the actual Other Darrin, Dick Sargeant.
All in the Family: Henry Jefferson was devised as a sort of "placeholder" character to stand in for George Jefferson until actor Sherman Helmsley (who had been offered the role of George but wasn't available due to his commitment to the Broadway show Purlie) finally became available in season 4. Once that happened, Henry "moved upstate" and was never heard from again, either on All in the Family or the spinoff The Jeffersons.
On M*A*S*H, Henry, Trapper, Frank, and Radar were all discharged and Put On A Plane back to the states. In Henry's case, the plane crashed.
Junito from Noah's Arc, who was put on a bus at the end of season 1, but returned later.
On Spooks, Zoe Reynolds is exiled to Chile. At the beginning of the next serious, a brief mention is made of Sam Buxton "being sedated" after the death of her love interest, Danny, and never reappears in the series. In the fifth season, Ruth is Put On A Boat when she's implicated in a murder.
When actress Lynda Day George was pregnant during Season 7 of Mission: Impossible, her character was said to be working "deep cover" in Europe. A character played by Barbara Anderson filled in for several episodes.
Doogie Howser, M.D.: Dr. Jack McGuire, the hunky (yet not too suave) doc played by Mitchell Anderson. Although an integral part of the show, Anderson quit the series at the end of season 2, and was subsequently written off. McGuire, after returning from a life-changing mission trip to Mexico, decided to move across the border to continue pursuing his medical aspirations.
Oscar Martinez from The Office (US) was put on a bus for half of season 3, given a free vacation due to Michael's handling of Oscar's homosexuality. In his reappearance later in the season, he shows up to a Christmas party, but leaves before being noticed, claiming its "too soon". He returns for good three episodes later.
Roy and Karen also receive this treatment eventually. Roy is fired near the end of Season 3 after reaching his emotional climax, while Karen is gone by the beginning of Season 4 (both due to Jim and Pam's increased closeness). Since then Karen has made a few guest appearances while Roy was only seen again once in Season 5.
And, of course, season 7 sees Michael and Holly moving to Boulder, Colorado to get married and care for her aging parents.
As of the Season 8 premiere, Jo Bennett.
Robert California finds a new job at the end of Season 8, so we won't be seeing him next season.
Kelly and Ryan in season 9.
American soap Days of Our Lives, which has a habit of making departing characters get Killed Off for Real (or do they?), allowed fan favorite Calliope Jones Bradford to move to New York City (and come back to visit occasionally).
Guiding Light did this with Samantha Marler in the early 1990's. She had been living with her uncle Ross for a few years. One day, she "went upstairs," and was never seen again. Various explanations were later given for where she went.
A literal example is Rita Stapleton, after numerous romantic entanglements with the men in town, Rita is put on a bus, just shortly before it was implied she was pregnant. However, Rita boards the bus and is never heard from again.
Degrassi. Alberta seems to be the favored destination for the in-series bus.
Darcy supposedly goes to Africa as some sort of missionary, when in reality Shenae Grimes was really working on 90210.
Craig and Ashley were put on buses as well; in fact Ashley was put on a bus twice.
Happened to Mia as well when she went off to Paris to model. In reality she ran off to The Vampire Diaries.
Also happened in season 10 with Alli while Melinda Shankar was filming How to Be Indie and again in season 11 with Connor.
Spin City had this happen to both Michael J. Fox (when his Parkinson's Disease grew unmanageable in light of filming a weekly sitcom) and his girlfriend for the first season.
Gossip Girl has done this a few times. Background character Kati Farkas was said to have moved to Israel halfway through the first season. This was also used twice to explain Georgina Spark's absence; when she first appears on the show, she is said to have been in boarding school in Switzerland all this time. Then, in the season one finale, she is hauled off to reform school in some undisclosed location, where she remains until the last half of season two. Used again earlier in season two when Marcus and Lady Catherine returned to England and haven't been seen since.
Jenny Humphrey was sent to a boarding school in Hudson in the last episode of season 3.
Riker's headstrong double Thomas from "Second Chances" was put on a bus, later to emerge in an episode of Deep Space Nine as a rebel, only to be once again placed on a bus. Star Trek Online decides to be evil and put Thomas in a Bus Crash.
Speaking of Season Two Replacements, in Knight Rider, Bonnie was replaced by April. Bonnie came back in Season 3.
Several episodes in the final season of Lizzie McGuire had Miranda "visiting family in Mexico". The same excuse was used to justify her absence in The Movie.
On Weeds Celia Hodes' older daughter Quinn was Put On A Bus to Mexico for most of the first four seasons.
The entire Tanner family (i.e. every regular human cast member) was painfully put on the bus for the TV movie Project ALF, dismissed by a line of dialogue as having been relocated to Iceland. Since the movie was made in order to wrap up the series storyline, the bus never came back.
Charlie in Privileged who left in the penultimate episode of Season 1. There was talk of him returning in Season 2, but since the show was cancelled that never got to happen.
Catalina in Space Cases is put on a space ship, where she avoids certain doom by being put in a parallel dimension. This was so the actress that played her could work on another show. However, it was implied that she might come back, if the show hadn't been cancelled soon thereafter.
Subverted in 30 Rock when Kenneth broke his promise to his mother that New York would not change him and decided to move back home to Georgia, but returned a few minutes later because he missed the train.
Also subverted with the writing out of Josh's character: he claims to have gotten on a bus.
Jack's wife Avery gets taken hostage by Kim Jong-Il (and later Kim Jong-Un) in North Korea, which excused Elizabeth Banks for other projects. For a while, she's not even mentioned, but then Jack spends a lot of time the next season trying to get her back. She returns in the final episodes of the season, only for them to divorce in the finale.
On Bonanza, Adam Cartwright moved to Australia when Pernell Roberts left the show.
On Veronica Mars, Logan's girlfriend Hannah is sent to a Vermont boarding school when caught canoodling with him. This served to hit the reset button on his romance with Veronica.
Toby in Dani's House left after the first season, where in the season 2 opener it is stated he has left for medical school (after he managed to pass the test after answering every question with the word "bum"). He does show up again in the Christmas Episode, though.
In Knots Landing Val's second (third if you count marrying the same guy twice as two marriages) husband Ben follows a woman named Jean Hackney to Central America to make her pay for threatening his family... or something... and is never heard from again. (In the next season Jill Bennett cruelly pretends to be Ben and tells Val that he's coming home.)
Also, Karen and Mack become foster parents to a teenager named Jason in season 12. He leaves for a year studying abroad in Sweden the following season and is never seen (or even mentioned) again.
Because of the lengthy time gaps between "days" and the high turnover at CTU and other government agencies, characters' disappearances on 24 are usually justified. However, one notable exception is Milo Pressman, who vanished without any explanation — though he was referred to at least once later on — in the middle of Day 1 when actor Eric Balfour unexpectedly left the show. He would then reappear as a full-time CTU employee in Season 6 only to be killed in the day's final hours. Tony Almeida was effectively "put on a bus" in the middle of Season 5 for his return into Season 7, while Charles Logan was "put on a bus" during the middle of Season 6 for his return to Season 8.
Kim Bauer leaves after season 3. She only makes guest appearances in 9 episodes for the rest of the series. Not that most people really cared though.
Very often, characters are put on a bus for a good handful of episodes roughly sometime during the first quarter or in the middle of the season so they can return much later on that same season, with the most common excuse being that a character will be fired and then later returns when someone personally needs their help. The most noteworthy example of this is Chloe during season 4.
Seems to have happened to Anna Wu in Chuck, when she inexplicably vanishes from the entire show, with little more than a Hand Wave to acknowledge it.
Actually, it was explained. Anna moved with her family to Hawaii. Morgan went with her and became a chef at a Benihanna restaurant but couldn't hack it. He came back after a show or two as planned, but Anna stayed behind having found a new boyfriend. She has since made one cameo comeback trying to get Morgan back, but he got to gain closure by telling her he wasn't interested in her anymore.
Although a recurring guest star rather than a regular character, Chuck's Fulcrum agent ex Jill was put on a bus at the end of the second season when Chuck let her escape rather than return her to government custody. With quite a pricey engagement ring to let her "start over." Jill's ultimate fate after Fulcrum was defeated was never revealed.
Yes, Minister: In the last episode of the first season, Jim Hacker's political advisor Frank Weisel is appointed to a QUANGO, never to be seen again (although he could have, technically).
Goodman goes on sabbatical at the beginning of season 2 so Brennan won't be mad at him for hiring Cam over her head, and never gets mentioned again.
Zack was also Put on a Bus twice in Season Three- briefly (for half an episode) at the very beginning, and then again at the end, permanently.
In Gilmore Girls Jess leaves on a bus, has a couple character centric episodes, and is for the most part written out of the show from that point on, with a few exceptions such as his mother's wedding.
On One Tree Hill, main characters Peyton and Lucas drive off in a car at the end of one season, never to be seen again. This was both unsatisfying and confusing, as they gave no indication that they would be leaving Tree Hill.
Criminal Minds: AJ Cook was fired, so JJ was forced to leave the team to work at the Pentagon. The episode, appropriately titled "JJ," was a solid hour of the writers of the show bitterly saying "eff you" to the people who fired Cook. She comes back.
Later in that same season, Emily Prentiss is killed. Later JJ is seen handing travel documents to a brunette woman with chewed fingernails. Earlier, Spencer had commented on Emily's chewing habit. Paget Brewster had been fired, but protests from fans brought both her and Cook back.
Ashley Seaver was transferred to another unit at the beginning of season 7, and written off the show.
Glee: Matt and Ken, with one line of explanation. Matt transferred and Ken had a nervous breakdown.
Dave Karofsky was put on a bus immediately after Prom Queen. He waved to us in The First Time, and made few appearances in Heart and On My Way. He promptly boarded the bus again.
Sea Patrol has a couple examples due to Real Life Writes the Plot including Chefo between seasons 1 and 2, and Nav, Spider and Buffer between season 3 and 4, and Bomber between seasons 4 and 5, tough at least Bomber going away was referenced in the season 4 finale.
In Andromeda, Rev Bem was a main character until the 12th episode of the second season, which opens with Rev's recorded message that he isn't coming back from the long spiritual journey that hadn't even started yet in the previous episode. The Bus Came Back in the third season only to give him a Metamorphosis before putting him back on the bus.
Are You Being Served?'s Young Mr. Grace was said to have gone on a sabbatical to write a book when actor Harold Bennett became too infirm to continue in the role. However, he appeared once to say good-bye and made one cameo before Bennett died.
The Vampire Diaries: Apparently happened to Tyler Lockwood mid-season 2. He comes back at the end of the season and stays until mid-season 3, where he once again leaves town for a few episodes. He comes back, and yet again leaves town in Season 4. But he always comes back, so this is really more of a "once a season" commute.
In the 2009 version of The Electric Company this happened to Lisa who was shown in the first episode of season 3 on a flying TV as being on "a scientific expedition." Since she's already been replaced in the titular Company by newcomer Marcus, it's unlikely they'll be back anytime soon.
Eugene, the forgotten Barkley brother, in The Big Valley ... he was never a huge part of the show, but he would pop up periodically while visiting from college. Then actor Charles Briles got drafted, and Eugene was never mentioned again. Though considering the show was set in the 1870's, he was more likely Put On a Train.
At the end of the fourth season of Good Times, Florida Evans was shipped out to Arizona to be with her new second husband, Carl Dixon. This was due to a dispute between Esther Rolle and the show's producers over the show's direction (particularly, the ramping up of JJ's Uncle Tom Foolery in the wake of James Evans' death). She spent the entire fifth season "in Arizona," before returning for the final season. A condition of Rolle's return was that no mention could be made of Carl, (A Hollywood Atheist Rolle thought Florida - a devout Christian - would've never married.)
Primeval: Jenny Lewis resigns from service partway through series three (being so far the only A.R.C. member not to leave the team in a body bag). Emily Merchant returns to the 1800s at the end of series four, but returns permanently only two episodes later, in 5x03.
Community: At the end of the first season Vaughn, a one time love interest of both Britta and Annie, transfers to a Delaware school.
On Boy Meets World Harley is sent away to military school near the end of season two (but returns for one more episode in season three).
In ER, Sherry Stringfield's character is put on a train to take care of her sister and her newborn daughter, due to the actress wanting to take a temporary vacation from showbiz and spend more time with her family.
Rentaghost: Davenport and Mumford were written out by having them acquiring permanent jobs haunting a stately home. Davenport was never going to come back because his actor (Michael Darbyshire) had died. Mumford left the show because Anthony Jackson did not want to continue without his co-star.
When Caroline Quentin elected not to return for series four of Jonathan Creek, the writers sent her character to America, where she maintains contact with Jonathan via e-mail and postcards.
In season 3 of The Middle, Sue Heck's boyfriend Matt moves to another town in "The Paper Route."
On The Mentalist, Detective Cho put his ex-hooker informant/girlfriend on a literal bus. Ostensibly because she was still too much of a bad girl and could pull him to the dark side, but more likely because as a character she served little purpose other than creating an excuse to show Cho in bed without a shirt.
Priya on The Big Bang Theory was put on a bus (or rather, a plane) back to India. After a few episodes of Commuting on a Bus via web cam, she cheats on Leonard off screen, the next episode confirms he single off handly, she's never mentioned again, and Leonard ultimately gets back together with Penny, highlighting the fact Priya only existed as a Romantic False Lead.
Happens to Hoyt Fortenberry in season five of True Blood.
Grimm season 2: literally, in the case of Rosalee (most likely due to Bree Turner's poorly-hidden pregnancy.)
Scandal: Henry Ian Cusick (Stephen) for season two.
Inverted in Friends when Chandler went on a plane to Yemen to escape his girlfriend Janice, and she was the one that disappeared from the show.
In a way, the transition between The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and the Spin Off series The Suite Life On Deck is an inverted example with Zack, Cody, London, and Mr. Moseby. They are the only characters that are main characters in both shows, with most of the characters from the original series completely disappearing. Only 6 of the characters from the original series reprise their roles, half of which only make one time appearances, and that's them coming to visit, rather than the characters returning home.
Maddie Fitzpatrick is put on a bus temporarily in Season 3 of the original series. She comes to visit once in On Deck.
Marcus Little, who entered the series midway through second season of the spin off, is put on a bus about a third of the way through third season. It would have been nice to see him appear again in the series finale, since they were in New York at that time, where he had moved to.
Justin from Wizards of Waverly Place in the Alex vs. Alex special is mentioned heavily but not actually seen. At the time, David Henrie was working on another movie, but the scheduling conflicts were impossible to rework, so he chose not to return.
On the NBC version of The Voice, this happens to Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green temporarily after Season 3 so that they can tour and record new music, while Shakira and Usher fill in. Shakira and Usher became so popular that they ultimately returned to the coaches' chairs for the spring 2014 season.
Patrick McKenna had to briefly leave the show due to personal problems. His character, Harold, was thus written as getting a job in the city. Once McKenna was able to return to the show, he was written back in as being his company's liaison to the community in which the show is set.
Rick Green (Bill of the eponymous "Adventures with Bill" segments) also bowed out for a few seasons to do History Bites. As a result, the other characters began appearing in that segment in his absence.
Frasier: Kate Costas (Mercedes Ruehl was uncomfortable with the routine of doing a weekly sitcom), and Julia Wilcox (the writers were not happy with the Season 10 romantic triangle between Frasier, Julia, and Roz.)
When Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, died in late 1982, and after his last completed episodes aired in early 1983, there were still several weeks left in the 1982-1983 season; little reference was made to his being away. When planning for the 1983-1984 season began and ideas were being considered to address why Mr. Hooper was no longer around, this was indeed one of the suggestions, perhaps stating that he had retired to some other location, that he had stated his farewells during the off-season and was not coming back. Ultimately, this and a few other ideas – notably, hiring another actor to play Hooper – were discarded and they chose to also kill off Hooper as well.
David, with the Season 21 opening episode when he moved to Florida to care for his grandmother and manage her farm. This came after Northern Calloway was fired (or resigned, depending on whose story you believe) from the show due to personal issues he was having at the time. His fate remains ambiguous, since that episode is the last time David is referred to; Calloway died in January 1990.
Happens twice on Parks and Recreation. Mark (Paul Schneider) leaves to take a private sector job at the end of Season 2, and halfway through season 6 Ann (Rashida Jones) and Chris (Rob Lowe) move to Michigan to start a family.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: Malone spent the beginning of Season 3 in the Spirit World (a holdover from the end of Season 2), and the later part of the season on his own. Veronica also spends some time offscreen when she rides in Challenger's hot air balloon and gets blown far away.
As many actors came and went from Doctor in the House and its sequel series, some of them were put on a bus to allow for the possibility of their eventual return, but some never did return:
Simon Cuff as Dave Briddock only appeared as a regular in Doctor in the House, passing his final exams at the end of the series with the other main characters; Briddock's name was mentioned a few times in the next series, Doctor at Large, but otherwise was largely forgotten.
Barry Evans as Michael Upton, the original central character, was obliged to leave the franchise after Doctor at Large due to personal problems affecting his reliability; Upton was said to have proposed to a notoriously loose-moralled nurse in a drunken haze, and run off to join the Merchant Navy when he realised what he had done. He continued to be mentioned through the other series in the franchise.
Richard O'Sullivan left after Doctor in Charge to play Robin Tripp in Man About The House; his Doctor character, Lawrence Bingham, was written out as having become father to triplets before moving from St. Swithin's to rival hospital High Cross.
Rosen, the Sons' original lawyer. In one episode a colleague of his, Ally Lowen, shows up with the explanation that Rosen couldn't come because he was "in court." From that point on he is not mentioned again and Lowen serves as the Sons' legal counsel.
Vic Trammel, the sheriff's deputy on the Sons' payroll. He is shot while performing a traffic stop on behalf of the Sons, and never appears again (without even an explanation of whether he died from his injuries, retired from the force, etc).
In Sherlock, Sherlock is sent on a suicide mission by his brother after a case went south in a way that ended in high treason and murder. He gets called back when Moriarty is apparently resurrected. This happens before the plane even leaves the tarmac.
Mycroft: How are you enjoying exile? Sherlock: I've only been gone four minutes! Mycroft: Well, I certainly hope you've learned your lesson.
In Mystery Science Theater 3000, by the end of the series the entire original cast had been replaced (Except for Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl who debuted in Season 7)
Whenever a wrestler gets injured, (Kayfabe or not) they will be put on a bus.
The ending of Have Gun — Will Travel has Paladin inheriting a small fortune and heading back East to handle the estate, though he does promise to be back for Hey Boy's wedding.
The character of Trillian got a one-sentence send-off at the start of the second series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Thanks to a Reset Button, she was brought back for the three much-belated series made after Douglas Adams' death.
One regular team member of BBC Radio 1's Scott Mills Show, Mark Chapman, went to the toilet on Christmas Eve 2009 and hasn't been heard from since.
He got given his own show on Radio 5.
The Squats in Warhammer 40,000 were an unpopular Dwarf knockoff from older editions of 40k. They have disappeared from the game and the fluff, without much explanation. When pressed, GW will say they were eaten by a Tyranid Hive Fleet.
As of 6th edition, the bus seems to have come back.
In Warhammer Fantasy, the Dogs of War and Chaos Dwarves are former armies, with people even having the option of hiring Dogs of War units as rare choices. GW presumably realized what a Game Breaker that could be (essentially allowing you to hire units to get around your armies designated balancing weaknesses) and completely cut them from the fluff and army books. Chaos Dwarves are a little more complicated as the army is remembered fondly by veteran players and often sought after by new players, and they remain in the fluff (primarily due to the proximity of the newer Ogre Kingdoms army). Lately models and rules have begun popping up on Forge World, leading people to hope that the army might be due for a revival.
In the end of Half-Life: Opposing Force, G-Man stores the main character, Adrian Sheppard away for an undisclosed period of time. This allows for reinstating the character in any future story, even if it is in a completely different era.
Similarly, Gordon Freeman, the hero of the original Half-Life, is put away in the end of Half-Life, and in the end of Half-Life 2.
One could almost say the player is put on a bus at the end of the first game, as a great many significant events occur in the game's narrative between the first and second game, but events in the Half-Life universe are only ever viewed through Gordon's eyes (well, mostly.)
At the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Gordon's security guard-buddy Barney Calhoun is put on a train at the end of the game. He does not appear in Episode 2, nor is he mentioned.
In the Crash Bandicoot series, Crash's girlfriend Tawna never appeared in any of the main games after the first one, her only reappearance being in a side-game titled Crash Boom Bang. Her disappearance was never explained in-game, but in the now-defunct official website of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, as well as in the manual for the Japanese version of the same, Tawna left Crash to be with Pinstripe Potoroo. There were also rumors of Moral Guardians not liking Tawna's character design having an influence on children (mostly due to her cleavage and body type), thus the developers made a new character to be more kid friendly; Crash's sister, Coco, who is a genius with technology.
Riku in Kingdom Hearts, who is constantly appearing and re-appearing throughout the series, and changes his outfit and role almost every time.
Aqua in regards to the rest of the series after prequel Birth by Sleep. Eraqus and Vanitas are killed, and Braig is still around as Xigbar. Terra and Master Xehanort are still around as Xehanort/Xemnas (sort of, it's Terra's body and both their hearts, but amnesiac) and Ven is still sort of around as Roxas. However Aqua was trapped in the Dark Realm and has no alternate form so she's completely cut out of the story. Everything hints that she'll be making a return though once the series get back on track.
Angela Cross from the Ratchet & Clank series. She only appears in Going Commando and is briefly mentioned on a radio broadcast in A Crack In Time. As the only female Lombax in the series, some fans have wondered why she was written out, especially considering the series' focus on Ratchet trying to find out what happened to the rest of his race.
It has been confirmed that Bosco will not appear in Sam and Max season 3. The ingame explanation is that Bosco has gone on a road trip to Las Vegas. It is later revealed he has a large gambling debt, and is forced to be a male stripper.
Dr. Madison Li in Fallout 3 gets this treatment in the Broken Steel expansion. Once you turn on the purifier, Dr. Li leaves the Capital Wasteland for the Commonwealth, even though she just witnessed a major breakthrough in her work.
During the Time Skip between the first two Golden Sun games and the third, six of the original eight heroes mysteriously vanish from the plot. Ivan, Mia and Jenna are seemingly just offscreen, given that their children are the new protagonists, but Piers and Felix have gone travelling and Sheba's whereabouts are not even mentioned. Since the game ends with yet another Sequel Hook, we hopefully haven't heard the last of them.
Diddy Kong, Toadette, Dry Bones, King Boo, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi share the trope in the Mario Kart series (so far).
In Toadette's case it seems worse. She hasn't been seen since Mario Super Sluggers... And that's from 2008! Giving the fact that after her introduction in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!!! she appeared in almost every Mario game until Super Sluggers, it seems a little odd. Six year later, and she's back for Mario Kart 8.
Fahrenheit has Tyler leaving to Florida with his fiancee, Sam. Even if you choose to let him stay in New York, he wouldn't appear in the next chapter.
Elora was an important character in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!. She's missing for most of the third game, despite other characters from her game getting larger roles then before, and only appears in an ending cutscene. She hasn't appeared in any other games since the original trilogy, especially odd since she was Spyro's love interest. Though, it's probably a good thing since the new guys aren't so swell when it comes to keeping the original personalities.
Actually it seems they were put into storage, so the developers would have extras on hand for later installments. As a couple villagers in Animal Crossing New Leaf haven't been seen since the original, while others from earlier games have been removed. (Whom we'll likely see again in next game or so)
In the first .Hack:// games for PS2, in volume 2 Mistral admits she is nearing the end of her pregnancy and can't do anything stressful so she has to log off for a while. She is not seen or heard from again until she magically reappears in the 4th volume. Aura pulls this as well, appearing frequently in volumes 1 and several times in 2, but seems to have forgotten to aid you in your quest in 3 and only appears a couple times in 4.
.Hack://GU does this with the majority of the characters in the game who are not Morganna factors or turned into Lost Ones. Although all of the characters are still selectable and can be adventured with at any time, none of the majority of them, for example Matsu, will ever have importance in the story again until the end of the 3rd game, and then it's optional.
Grant DaNasty from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and the DaNasty family line beside brief mentions and a doppelganger boss of him through out the series no one ever talks of him or his family before or after Dracula's Curse. No character has tried to take his place and in other games where Alucard and family members of the other two meet. One of the saddest video game examples as this is now over 20 years since the release of Dracula's Curse.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion does this with most of the prominent figures from Morrowind, despite only taking place 6 years later. Although you couldn't possibly expect to see so many major characters when they were in a whole different province, you only hear of vague rumors that Vivec "disappeared" and the Nerevarine left on an expedition to Akavir. A former living god and a previous hero sound like exactly the kind of people you'd want to have around to help repel a demonic invasion.
Furthermore, halfway through Morrowind, your first quest giver Caius Cosades gets reassigned... to Cyrodiil (for those who haven't played an Elder Scrolls game, the latter is where Oblivion takes place). You would think he would be in the game, considering he was a Blade that was known to be around the Emperor. Even a cameo as the Red Shirt Blade that gets cut down in your first battle would have been nice.
Jiub was originally going to appear, as a priest in Kvatch before it was destroyed, though that canon is still present, Word of God states that he died in the Kvatch attack right before you arrived. Though you do meet his ghost in Skyrim.
Almost the entire cast of main characters from the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series was put on a bus by the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Phoenix appears as usual and the only other returning characters (where they only appear once for a flashback event) are Gumshoe and Mike Meekins. Maya, Pearl, mentions of Mia and Edgeworth, and several other recurring characters are completely ignored and Phoenix makes no mention of them at all except a slight nod to Maya with his collection of The Steel Samurai discs.
Edgeworth and Pearl, however, return in the next game, Dual Destinies.
A good majority of the characters who had appeared since before Soulcalibur IV have suddenly either vanished without a trace or have successors put in their stead come Soulcalibur V. What drives the knife even further here is that most of the characters that even did make it back get shafted in the story department, and play little to no role in the Story Mode. As one can see, SCV has become something of a Contested Sequel because of this.
A rare literal example occurs in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Charlie Cutter, established as a ass-kicking Brit, has his last scene on a tour guide bus. Chloe Frasier gets put on the same bus. Neither of them appear again in the game. Chloe ends up replaced with Elena Fischer (just like in the second game). Sure, Charlie's leg was broken, but they could have at least shown him in an epilogue, or something.
This is also an example of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Cutter's actor, Graham McTavish, was to be cast in The Hobbit, meaning that he couldn't be around to voice Cutter for the last third of the game, since he was intended to be a part of the whole game.
Unlike the other cases where Gundam SEED Destiny was included, Lacus Clyne is conspicuously absent for the majority of UX's plot, though she appears past chapter 40 (and she did help Arthun behind the scenes as shown in Scenario 22). Justified as she's now PLANT's chairlady.
Grandma Virginia and Teacher Collins also never appear after chapter 2.
Also Captain Shinobu Igarashi from Kurogane no Linebarrel only makes one appearance in chapter 40 against Rouri and Kanamoto.
Rouri and Kanamoto also, we can presume Rouri died when Asap shot him down, and it's not certain did Kanamoto return to Byston Well too with his Shinden after The Wings Of Rean finale.
In Dark Butt 2 / Dark Chronicle, Flotsam serves as an early villain, although he's quickly put on a bus early on, not to return until the post-game dungeon.
Later MechWarrior games have left Clan mechs out; the creators probably don't want them to be gamebreakers to Inner Sphere mechs.
As Bright Noa deliberates during Scenario 20 of the Space Route in Shin Super Robot Wars, Bright gets an unexpected transmission from someone he's never met before: Chief Oka of the Federation Far East Base. He asks if Bright is planning to heed the order he just got to return, and Bright says that he doesn't see any alternative. Oka is adamant that Bright do no such thing, saying that as Bright is well aware, Staff HQ is anything but sane these days. There's no call for Bright to be punished for the whims of a few lunatics, especially since he and his men are one of the few glimmers of hope mankind has left. Bright briefly protests that disobeying would get all his men branded as traitors, but Oka firmly points out that fighting the aliens comes first. He tells Bright to leave things to him and his friends at Staff HQ, though the Reinforce Jr. itself will have to be relinquished.
Amuro is impressed with Oka, and after all the transfer is complete, Londo Bell decides to go to the Moon. This will fulfill the League Militare's needs and let Amuro pick up the Nu Gundam from its commissioned builders at Anaheim Electronics. Usso Evin is a little sad to see Gomez go, but most of the rest of the crew are still with the Londo Bell.
Donkey Kong Country EVERYONE who isn't Donkey Kong, Diddy, Cranky, Funky or Dixie (And almost all the animal friends). Candy, Swanky, Kiddie, Chunky, Lanky, Tiny, and Wrinkly note though likely justified that she's a ghost now , even King K. Rool is long replaced. All just vanished. Some may assume that after Rare and Nintendo split, Nintendo were only able to keep a few properties, but that's just speculation.
Rose Guns Days as this as a pattern: at the end of each year, one of the characters has to leave Japan for a reason or another. In 1947 Leo goes back to southern Asia to fight with former comrades who try to get their independence; in 1948 Rapunzel must leave Japan with her father and take refuge in South America, since the latter is still under arrest from the Chinese army for war crimes and in 1949 Alan is wanted by Primavera for betrayal and goes to China where his dead girlfriend Meixue must be burried. All of them are Back for the Finale in 1950.
Spoofed on Homestar Runner with the Show Within a ShowCheat Commandos. In the short "The Next Epi-snowed", voice actor Crack Stuntman gets bossy and uncooperative while recording an episode of Cheat Commandos, and director A. Chimendez eventually gives up and has Gunhaver sent "on a secret mission to the moon for an undisclosed period of time", replacing him with Author Avatar Agent Chimendez. It's also mentioned that "when [Gunhaver] gets back, his voice might have changed."
Red vs. Blue has done this several times in their later seasons, most notably after the time skip between Blood Gulch Chronicles and Reconstruction, where Tucker and Donut are put on a bus for the entirety of Reconstruction, coming back for Recreation. Tex also tends to come and go throughout the story.
Lampshaded in Bittersweet Candy Bowl several times. This◊ was commissioned by a fan from the artist in anticipation of that character's ultimate fate, due to her importance to the story primarily as Paulo's girlfriend - a status she is unlikely to enjoy much longer. This was drawn after Kizuna's original creator threw a hissy fit, resulting in Taeshi removing the character from the comic, and all of the fancharacters save Tess and McCain have been retconned out of the comic.
Nearly happens to the main character of Furmentation. More accurately, everybody else took a bus to Disneyland and left him all alone... in the enemy camp. Poor guy. Yes, that IS the main character.
Happens a lot in Sluggy Freelance due to the sheer number of characters it's introduced over its long run. Characters very rarely stay on the bus, however. Even if it takes over a decade, it seems like every character who isn't explicitly killed off is bound to make a second appearance. Sasha, who had moved away seven years ago, made a return to the comic.
Kevin & Kell has done this with several of its supporting characters over time. Candice and her family were once nearly as important to the strip as Kevin and Kell themselves, but eventually she was outsourced to New Zealand and hasn't been heard from since. The Ursuls, of whom Marjorie was Kell's best friend for the early years of the strip, moved to Florida and new best friend Aby moved into their house — they've also not been seen since. Lindesfarne's best friend Tammy Tussock and her husband Ray moved to a lighthouse, and while they were important to one more storyline after the move, they have been MIA since. Then again, longtime readers of Bill Holbrook's two syndicated strips should be well aware of his tendency to rotate the cast - both of those strips have managed almost a complete cast turnover, including their main characters.
In 8-Bit Theater, Dragoon was teleported to the Moon and has not been seen since.
He comes back in The Epilogue.
Which is hilarious if you think about a 'Dragoon coming back from the Moon' in terms of Final Fantasy IV, the game the character's appearance came from.
In Questionable Content, it looked like this was going to happen to Steve. Turns out, he's back. However, the side characters Dave and Meena caught that bus. Also, Sarah, Ellen, Amir, and Natasha. Looks like Raven is on that bus too.
Actually, it seems like the bus dropped Raven off just in time for her college physics class. Amir got off the bus for a cameo as well, but has probably caught another one at this point. Also, since Sarah was apparently "eaten by an Allosaurus," this may be more of a Bus Crash scenario.
Lampshadedhere in Books Don't Work Here when the Main character and her room mate head to the mall at the same time as the author has to move and get a new job. The author's avatar also makes an appearance getting on the bus as they get off. Which gives Robin an opportunity to punch him in the face.
In Darths & Droids, one of the players, Sally, wants her character Jar Jar to be hit by a bus. In the next strip she is playing Guitar Hero, and has mostly been playing bit part NPCs.
In episode 4, Ben disappears for an unspecified reason.
Done in Girly when Officer Policeguy gets fed up with Detective Clampjaw.
More like strapped to the bus!
In General Protection Fault, Trish goes into a coma after being attacked by her impostor, who proceeds to impersonate her until she is unmasked.
Happened to a lot of the cast in N Fans The Series. At some point, characters were either put in confinement, captured, in a coma (in the case of Ran Cossack), or simply Out of Focus. Van for example was put in jail for a majority of the comic's arc, only appearing to mention his beloved "Goth girl", while the rest of the mettaurs and a giant robot went through a portal. Christopher Blair was also fighting Ganondorf for a very long while. Team Lalala was once stranded on the exact same screen for about a year of real-time. Eventually though, some characters were written out of the comic. (Van went home, Piney had simply chosen to return home due to having a fallout with the author at the time)
Tepoz from Wapsi Square is put on a bus to Utah shortly after his introduction. He returned later and played an important role in the plot.
The now decidedly unnecessary "human characters" in Comic Shorts: Spriteoverse are removed in episode 26 possibly the least subtle way imaginable: by interrupting the comic's dialog to announce that they're going to blink out of existence. They may or may not come back if it's convenient enough to the plot.
The author calls this practice "retiring characters", and it typically happens when people leave the Toughs or when the Toughs leave them. They usually come back with at least a follow-up arc a few years later or a bonus story.
Sonichu has a number of characters be tossed on the bus, due to the author's ever-shifting focus. Saramah Rosechu, who was supposed to be part of a big prophecy, is married off not even two issues after her appearance and the prophecy ignored; Meg-chan (aka Sailor Megtune) disappeared without a trace another two issues later; Metal Sonichu makes an appearance and is launched to the Moon, never to be seen again (he was supposed to return, but so far, no show).
Stanley Brown's mother in Assignment 2. She is committed to a mental asylum and then never even mentioned again.
Emo 5 in Mighty Moshin Emo Rangers Season Two. Captain Emohead brings up that he had to sell him on eBay to pay the phone bill, which Ross had exhausted with phone sex.
It's not like he did anything anyway.
In Darwin's Soldiers: Disruptive Selection, Hans, Werner and Cpl. Stern encounter an old friend of Cpl. Stern in a bar in New Mexico. The friend then offers to bring them back to Nevada where the terrorists from first RP are trying to put their lives back together. The three then accept the offer.
A temporary example in the second RP. Shelton is deported to Austria after the events of the first RP.
For episode 100 of the video game music podcast Nitro Game Injection, Audun "Akumu Hau" Sorlie joined the show as a new co-host. The show went on a lengthy hiatus after episode 112, and when it came back, nary a mention of Akumu was made and he was replaced by Larry Oji of OverClocked ReMix. Akumu has returned as a guest a few times, however.
Halfway into Season 7 after Chief murders Cortana. Greg leaves again, this time for good after feeling unfairly resented by Arbiter for a lie he was forced to tell.
When The Sharkasm Crew's Cephalo the Pod left for his first year of university, his mom moved to Waterford and his Dad had left town a few years ago. Even when Kason and Sauxuas come back to town for the summer, Cephalo will be living in Waterford.
In The Nostalgia Critic, Ma-ti and Douchy Mc Nitpick have both been put on a bus. Interestingly both their departures are loosely connected. Though Ask That Guy and Videogame Confessions have been so long since they were updated, one could say the same for Ask That Guy (the host) and Dominic.
Happens regularly in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Minor characters such as Haru, Jet and his Freedom Fighters, Suki, the Mechanist and others are introduced in one episode, never mentioned or seen again until half a season or more later, pop up for one more episode, and disappear again. The series finale managed to bring back everyone (who hadn't died) in a group shot, except for the handful that were put on a Long Bus Trip.
Justice League features a perfect example of this trope in its second season finale when Hawkgirl resigns from the Justice League and flies off to go soul searching. Sure enough, she returns at the end of season three when she discovers Solomon Grundy may have come back from the dead.
More permanently done with A.M.A.Z.O, who's still out on the edge of the universe trying to figure out how to beat Solomon Grundy. Word of God was he would return in the last episode as a Brick Joke, but they forgot about him.
Brick Flagg from Kim Possible, and Miss Go did one on Kim too.
Only to return driving the bus himself BACKWARDS, across North America and under water no less, then runs over Harvey with it thus putting the entire show on the bus. "HA HA HAAAA! Final episode stunt casting!"
William Dunbar gets put on a very interesting (and painful) sort of bus. After being attacked and possessed by XANA on his first mission as a Lyoko Warrior, he's effectively put out of commission for the entire season. He does return, but only just in time for the series to end two episodes later. There's no real explanation as to why this happened, though he was dislikeda bit. He returned for Code Lyoko: Evolution.
Kiwi, on the other hand, got on the bus for Code Lyoko: Evolution, likely because of the difficulties involved in training and handling a live-action dog, but it is said that his disappearance will be explained later in the series.
"Duck Tales" had both Doofus and Bubba disappear without ever mentioning them again.
Transformers Animated has a rather weird use of the bus. At the end of the third season opener "Transwarped" Sari is shut down by Ratchet in a desperate attempt to keep her over-upgraded body from destroying both herself and the city. Not only did she not appear for the next four episodes, no one even seemed to think about her — including her own father.
As of "Human Error" she's back off the bus, now taller, more mature, and able to make blue balls of floating electric... stuff. The coma hasn't been mentioned again.
Ultra Magnus was also put on the bus in season 3. If by 'bus' we mean the ICU.
And in perhaps the most terrifying way to be sent packing on the bus, Shockwave stuffs Blurr into a bus by force. More specifically, Blurr is crushed into a cube and shipped to oblivion. And it is implied that Blurr survived.
Transformers Prime has Airachnid, who after one of many rivalry battles with Arcee is accidentally trapped in a stasis pod. Team Prime decide it's a good idea to bring her back to base, but now 6 episodes later is never mentioned again. Considering the fandom's huge hatred of her it's clear to see why.
Considering that in Darkest Hour, the Decepticons destroy the Autobot base, this now looks like a case of a Bus Crash.
Except it was revealed in a later episode that she survived. Apparently, the force field that she's trapped in is extremely powerful, so that Bus Crash was Subverted.
In the original The Transformers, dozens of characters were put on the bus, a result of the writers and animators not having knowledge of the 1986 Movie (which hadn't yet aired in Japan).
Jazz was technically put on a bus, because although the character survives the movie and makes 2 cameos, his voice actor, Scatman Crothers fell ill and later died.
Many of Casey Kasem's characters were put on buses. (the supercomputer Teletran-I was Put on a Bus to Hell.) Autobot headquarters (the Autobots' stranded-on-Earth spacecraft and Teletran-I inside of it) were buried when Trypticon smashed the mountain it was lodged in. Cliffjumper, like Jazz, survived Unicron, but fell off the vocal map after 1 cameo by the character. Bluestreak was never seen after the 1986 movie's Battle of Autobot City. All of this stems from Kasem's displeasure with stories featuring a stereotypical Middle Eastern dictator and his country, "Carbombya".
Many of the Season 1 and 2 characters were either killed off in storyboards (but not in the finished product) or never mentioned again, only to turn up as cameos late in Season 3, or in Japanese audience only spin-offs. Hound turns up in Transformers: Headmasters
Their original other neighbours, The Winfields, relocated themselves to Florida in Season Four, to be replaced by the seldom-seen Powers (though Mrs. Winfield does show up again in a crowd scene in "Lisa the Iconoclast").
Homer's half-brother Herb hasn't been seen since season three, after he regained his fortune with a baby translator. Homer even lampshades to Herb as "his seldomly seen half brother". Believe it or not but Herb has a line in a season 24 episode. Homer, suddenly concerned about the kids' requirement for a legal guardian in the event of his and Marge's untimely demise, calls up his brother, only for Herb to say, "I'm poor again." D'oh!
Tigatron and Airazor went off to scout the extent of the Vok's damage to the planet at the start of the second series of Beast Wars to make room for the Fuzors. When they returned, they ended up being abducted by the Vok, and would not return until partway through series 3.
Buster Baxter on Arthur went on a year long trip around the world with his dad whom he doesn't spend much time with since he and his mom are divorced; he returns in the season opener.
Chef had a bridge dropped on him after his voice actor left, but the ending allowed for the possibility of a return by making him "Darth Chef" (although Isaac Haye's death would obviously require The Other Darrin).
Officer Barbrady was put on a bus at the end of "Toilet Paper", announcing that after the ordeal of solving the toilet-papering of a teacher's house he needs to take a long vacation. By the next episode to involve police, "Li'l Crimestoppers", Barbrady has been replaced by an actual police department, though he has still shown up from time to time.
Triana Orpheus from The Venture Bros. left the Venture Compound in order to study magic with her mother.
Triana has been seen again - she was Dean's date to their home-school prom.
Total Drama does this about every new season, leaving old characters behind and bringing back more popular ones or ones that were eliminated early on to give them a fresh start. But when Chris says that once a contestant is gone from a season, and they "can't come back, ev-er," he doesn't always mean it.
With the exception of Izzy, Ezekiel, and Owen, All-Stars was the first season in which non-competing characters didn't appear at all even in cameos.
Mike of the 2nd Generation cast suffered from this after All-Stars. According to Wordof God the controversy around how his MPD was portrayed in that season has lead to him not appearing in any future seasons.
Little Miss Calamity disappeared offscreen in Season 2 of The Mr. Men Show. The official explanation was that kids were becoming confused as to what "calamity" means. She did manage a cameo as a statue in the second season.
When Space Goofs returned for a second season, Stereo was absent, apart from a couple guest appearances. He's not even in the intro where they're shown crashing into Earth. This also contradicts the theme song, which states, "Five little monsters were riding through space..." as there are now four.
Ed, Edd n Eddy: Jib was literally put on a bus by the end of the only episode he's "appeared" in.
Jeff in American Dad! was accidentally kidnapped by aliens when he got shoved into their ship's tractor beam that was meant for Roger. He disappeared for the next several episodes until he was rescued from Roger's home planet in the 150th episode, "Lost in Space."
The background pony Derpy vanished as well due to a scandal, also believed to have gotten Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, but returned at the end of Season 3 and has a role in an episode of season 4.
Played more straight with Queen Chrysalis in "A Canterlot Wedding". Everything we know about the show's physics and the distance she fell suggests a Disney Villain Death, but given that the fall was staged in a similar style to Team Rocket, the show leaves it unclear whether or not she shares their Joker Immunity. However, the Expanded Universe comics DO depict such a survival.
Gilda the Griffon stormed out of Ponyville after a falling-out with her childhood friend Rainbow Dash in early first season, and hasn't been seen since despite being popular among the fans. Trixie likewise left and didn't return until the third season.
Twist was introduced in "Call of the Cutie", seen briefly in "The Cutie Pox", and hasn't been seen since. Her voice actress, Alexandra Carter, moved from Vancouver to Philadelphia around the time Season 2 was starting, so it's unlikely that she'll return.
Most of the characters on Timon & Pumbaa who had reappeared over the course of the first two seasons (Speedy, the Vulture Police, and Timon's meerkat friend Fred) failed to appear in the 1999 season, on which the series is generally regarded to have jumped the shark.
Characters have a nasty habit of this happening to them in Thomas And Friends, especially in the HIT Entertainment era (2002-present). Among the classic characters who have been gone for many seasons (not counting one-off characters like Billy and Bertram who were only created for marketing purposes, and Bulstrode, who was only intended to appear for one episode) include Duke, Boco, Daisy, Caroline, Terrence, Old Slow Coach, Duncan, Neville, Dennis, Molly, Hector, Bulgy, Arthur, Murdoch, Mighty Mac, "Fearless" Freddie, and The Pack (minus Jack).
Fortunately, in Season 17 and the special King of The Railway, The Bus Came Back for several characters thanks to the new writing team, who have set out to save the show from the Seasonal Rot it has endured since 2004. King of the Railway saw the return of Jack the Front Loader (from the cancelled spin-off Jack and the Pack), while Season 17 brought back fan-favorites Duck and Bill & Ben, as well as Harvey. Season 18 will bring back Oliver and his brakevan Toad, as well as Duncan and the Scottish Twins Donald and Douglas. More characters that have been put on a bus are likely to come back.
The Vehicle Voltron and everything to do with it seems to have been put on a bus. The only reason seems to be that it just wasn't as popular as the one with the lions. However, references to the Drule empire still pop up from time to time.