"In the sequel, it's like I never existed."Sometimes a character from a movie doesn't appear, has a brief Hand Wave explaining their absence or even does not get in any way referenced in the sequel because the actor didn't want to return, or couldn't for scheduling reasons, and the producers feel (maybe justifiably, maybe not) that nobody would care about the lack of resolution, even if the character ended up connected to the major characters in an important way. They may have appeared as a minor joke character early in the previous film, whom a main character offends somehow, but returned at the end turning out to be their new Mother-In-Law. Logically they'd now be important to the character's future, but when the sequel rolls around there's either a very brief Hand Wave over their non-appearance, or simply no reference to them at all. Or the character may have been a love interest or Living MacGuffin who the producers felt wasn't popular or memorable enough to recast, deciding the only people who would care would be nerds. If the character's absence extends past the sequel to all material in the series following it, you've got Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. See also Brother Chuck, Demoted to Extra, Put on a Bus, Estranged Soap Family and Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome.
—Heather the One-Dimensional Female Character From a Male-Driven Comedy, Saturday Night Live
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- None of the secondary characters from With Strings Attached return in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, though Brox and Grunnel are briefly mentioned as not having been seen in over a year (the implication is that they're out adventuring). The explanation for this is that the Pyar gods took all the Ketafans and tirin (and, presumably, the Thirders and Jim Hunter) to a more compatible location.
Films — Animation
- All the ship's crew from the first Pocahontas apart from John Smith, Governor Ratcliffe, and Percy.
- Bo Peep, who was Woody's love interest in the first two Toy Story films, was given only a brief, yet sad, mention Toy Story 3, where it was indicated she had been either given away or sold off, along with a few other toys.
- Roxanne, Max's girlfriend in A Goofy Movie does not appear in the sequel nor is she mentioned in any way. Debates rage on about whether this was an okay change or not.
- Outside a few mentions, King Louie doesn't appear in The Jungle Book 2 due to a legal debacle with Louis Prima's estate over the imitation of his voice.
Films — Live-Action
- Rebecca from Night at the Museum doesn't appear or get mentioned in the sequel, despite starting a relationship with Larry at the end of the first film, because Carla Gugino was busy filming Race to Witch Mountain. And it'd be weird to have her along with Larry's relationship with Amelia Earhart. The nerdy Identical Stranger seen at the sequel's end, played yet again by Amy Adams (and lightly implied to begin a relationship with Larry) is nowhere to be seen in the third movie either.
- In Men in Black II they mention Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino) once just to "explain" why she isn't with them and then drop the whole thing.
- They briefly mention in xXx: State of the Union that Xander Cage from the first movie was (allegedly) killed and that's why there's a new xXx. There was even a scene filmed with Cage being blown up in an attack by the sequel's villains, resulting in the tattooed chuck on his neck landing in front of the camera, just to thoroughly avert He's Just Hiding. Smart choice not to include that in the final cut, since they're planning to bring Xander back for another movie.
- They briefly explain that the Keanu character from Speed broke up with her because of how their relationship started.
- Nightcrawler's absence in X-Men: The Last Stand was handwaved in the X2 video game, so the die-hard X-Geeks knew. All us normal people were left in the dark. (in real life, Alan Cumming didn't want to use that painful make-up again without Bryan Singer at the helm).
- Myers in the Hellboy movie. In the sequel, he's said to be in Antarctica.
- The absence of Tank, who survived The Matrix, is explained away in The Matrix Reloaded by Zee saying she had lost two brothers to the Nebuchadnezzar, implying that Tank had been killed.
- Dan Cain, the nominal hero of the first two Re-Animator films, is nowhere to be seen by the time the third movie rolls around. This is handwaved away by West remarking that his "last assistant turned state's evidence on [him]".
- Bill Murray's Bosley is conspiciously absent (save for a photo on his family's wall) in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, having been replaced by his adoptive brother, played by Bernie Mac. Despite the fact that Bosley appeared to be beloved by the Angels in the first film, here they never seem to miss him for even a moment - nor is his absence (and current whereabouts) ever explained.
- Chris Klein was the only dude from the original five guys not included in the third American Pie movie, American Wedding. Word of God says they simply had nothing for him to do, so the character just wasn't included.
- American Pie Presents: Band Camp, arguably the series' first foray into hardcore Sequelitis, had a line about why the main characters from the previous films weren't around.
- Jurassic Park
- A famous example is The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It focuses on secondary (and, in the first novel, deceased) character Ian Malcolm; as such, main characters Alan Grant and Satler are not seen or mentioned, while the kids and Hammond only cameo early on.
- Jurassic Park III is focused on Grant. He's still good friends with Satler, so she appears twice in the movie (one of the scenes indirectly leads to The Cavalry's arrival). Malcolm is remembered in one scene. Hammond and inGen aren't mentioned directly (only in scenes such as when they visit an abandoned facility).
- Short Circuit 2 didn't have Steve Guttenberg and only had a brief voice-only cameo from Ally Sheedy, despite them being the main characters of the previous film (aside from the robot, obviously). The movie instead focuses on Steve Guttenberg's Indian sidekick Ben, inexplicably played by Fisher Stevens.
- The Austin Powers films gleefully embraced this trope in its mockery of James Bond film clichés. The love interest from the first film is retconned as always having been a fembot in the second just to get rid of her, and Heather Graham's character from the second film doesn't even get a nod in the third.
- Galleria (Raven-Symone) in the third The Cheetah Girls "goes to college". In reality, backstage catfights between Raven-Symone and the rest of the cast led to her leaving the defictionalized band and the movie, and for Adrienne Bailon's character leaving That's So Raven.
- Yori's rather conspicious absence from TRON: Legacy has been the source of plenty of speculation. The Betrayal comic shoves Dr. Baines-Bradley on a bus to Washington DC, but no mention at all is made of what became of her program, most likely due to the fact the sequel doesn't take place in the same computer system as the first.
- Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones don't appear in Ocean's Thirteen. This is explained at the beginning of the movie with about two lines, the main one of which is "it's not their fight." However, given the nature of the motivation for the Ocean crew, this makes at least a little bit of sense.
- Bernard the Head Elf from The Santa Clause inexplicably vanished when the third movie rolled around.
- Although Gracie and Eric appeared to be starting a relationship at the end of Miss Congeniality, Eric is nowhere to be seen in the sequel. He did however, break up with her over the phone (without his voice being heard), and said breakup is a large part of Gracie's character throughout the film, even made into Gracie's personal Berserk Button.
- The live-action Transformers Film Series has plenty of these.
- For starters, there are several secondary human characters from the first film who are never seen or mentioned in either sequel. Nobody really cared about them, though, since one of the most common complaints that the hardcore fans had about all three films (and especially the first one) was that the secondary human characters were given far too much screen time.
- As for the Transformers themselves, this was averted with the surviving Autobots from the first film, all four of whom returned for both sequels. On the Decepticon side, however, Barricade was not shown to be killed in the first film, yet despite one of the writers claiming that his fate had been intentionally left unresolved as a Sequel Hook, he was a no-show in the second film and only received a brief uncredited cameo in the third film.
- Sideswipe and Wheelie were the only two new Autobots introduced in the second film who returned for the third film. Skids, Mudflap, Jolt, and at least one of the Arcee sisters survived the second film, but were absent for the third film. The Decepticons, however, averted this going from the second to the third film as Megatron, Starscream, and Soundwave were the three Decepticon survivors from the second film and all three returned with significant roles in the third film.
- This even happens mid-movie in these films. Remember Miles? Neither does anybody else.
- In the third film, Mikaela and Sam apparently broke up off-screen. This was due to Megan Fox getting fired, having insulted Michael Bay in the press.
- Sam himself becomes this in the fourth movie, with not even a mention despite Bumblebee still playing a huge role.
- The titular St. Bernard of the Beethoven movies gets given away to the brother "temporarily" (and permanently) in the third movie.
- Wrath of the Titans opens with Perseus standing over the grave of Io, his love interest from the first film.
- For the 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth series, only Sean Anderson appears in the sequel. It is not known whether the other original characters will return in the third film.
- Thanks to the Actor Existence Failure of Heath Ledger, The Joker doesn't appear in The Dark Knight Rises. But despite being seen alive and taken into custody at the end of the previous film, his fate isn't alluded to at all, and the other characters go out of their way to not mention him.
- Ripcord, Scarlett, and General Hawk, three characters who were an integral part of the G.I. Joes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, are nowhere to be seen in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and we don't get an explanation as to why. Their absence becomes particularly noticable when it's stated that every Joe (except for Roadblock, Flint, Jaye and Snake Eyes) is supposed to have been killed in the Cobra attack. However, it's possible they retired and therefore were no longer targets, as was the case with Joe Colton.
- Happens a few times throughout The Expendables franchise. Mickey Rourke's character, Tool, is not mentioned after the first movie, since he took the role in the first movie as a favour to Sylvester Stallone, and Mr. Church, played by Bruce Willis, is not shown in the third movie due to Willis wanting $4 million for four days' worth of work.
- The ending of Resident Evil: Afterlife and the start of Resident Evil: Retribution. Chris and Claire Redfield, characters who were from the original games, were there in the ending of RE:4 but are completely absent from RE:5. Even though both movies end and start with the same showdown on a battleship, the reverse-action in the opening scene glosses over it enough to hope you don't notice, and no-one seems to mention them again. Also a case of What Happened to the Mouse?
- Vittoria Vetra from Angels & Demons doesn't appear in The Da Vinci Code—the last time Langdon saw her is mentioned vaguely, but after that she's just plain forgotten. And Sophie Neveu didn't even get a mention in The Lost Symbol. Care to guess how many mentions the Solomon siblings get in Inferno?
- The mage Victarion was an important character in Mercedes Lackey's The Black Gryphon. He receives one brief mention in the sequel The White Gryphon and no mention at all in the final book of the trilogy, The Silver Gryphon.
- The character of Miranda is missing from several of the last episodes of Lizzie McGuire, and is only mentioned in passing as being "in Mexico with her family".
- Power Rangers:
- When the Power Rangers in Space appeared in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Zhane the Silver Space Ranger was missing.
- The 10th anniversary show "Forever Red" boasted a teamup of every Red Ranger up to that point — except Rocky, the second Red Ranger. Admittedly, including Rocky would have been a little awkward since he shared his powerset and suit with Jason, the first Red Ranger, but it's still odd. In order to get ten Red Rangers, they included Eric the Quantum Ranger (also colored red) instead.
- In Series X of Red Dwarf both Holly and Kochanski were missing. Holly was explained as being offline as the result of a bath being left on for several decades and needing to dry out. Kochanski was initially believed to have died but was eventually revealed to have left and still been alive. The entire rest of the Red Dwarf crew who'd been resurrected in Series 8 were also missing (with their fate never confirmed) but they'd never been part of the main cast.
- The epilogue of The Incredibles shows the whole Super Family Team preparing to take on the Underminer, but the video game based on this scenario, Rise of the Underminer, quickly sidelines Elastigirl and the kids, leaving the actual adventure to Mr. Incredible and Frozone.
- Rebecca Chambers in post-Resident Evil 2 sequels. She was one of the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members in the original Resident Evil and was the protagonist of Resident Evil 0, but not much is mentioned about her in games set after the Mansion Incident other than she survived.
- As a rule, any peripheral character introduced in a new Resident Evil game who survives to the end has a 90% chance of ending up as this. So far there's Billy from 0, the aforementioned Rebecca and Barry from 1, Carlos and Nicholai from 3, possibly Steve from Code: Veronica (his survival is implied in the Updated Re-release, but of course the matter was never revisited again), Sheva and Josh from 5, Helena from 6, a half-dozen more in Revelations, and the Big Bad from the CG film Damnation. All either alive or suggested to be, many with dangling plot threads left behind. Some of them have been given mention in later titles, but —barring any examples that rehash earlier plot points— only Barry Burton made a second appearance in Resident Evil: Revelations 2note , which is being released almost twenty years since the original game.
- Rebecca finally made a return to the franchise in late 2015, not in a video game, but in of all things, as part of a theatrical production called Biohazard: The Stage that takes place between Resident Evil 5 and 6.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the third Metal Gear game starring the young Big Boss, barely acknowledges anything from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (the previous game with Big Boss), other than a discontinuity nod by Miller (Big Boss' second-in-command in Peace Walker) about "leaving all the crap in San Hieronymo behind." This is likely the result of Portable Ops being the only canonical MGS game not directed by Kojima and none of its plot elements are ever brought up in Peace Walker.