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Chuck Cunningham Syndrome / Comic Books

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  • Atlee (aka Terra III) after the writer/artist switch during Power Girl's solo series. She appeared in one panel of the first issue after the switch and was then never seen again. Especially noticeable as she had basically been Peeg's sidekick and was well liked by fans. She later made her return in the DC YOU Starfire series, done by the same writing team that introduced her in the first place.
  • King Muskar XII of the fictional Balkan kingdom Syldavia was a major character in the Tintin story Tintin: King Ottokar's Sceptre (written in 1938), and ends up a close ally of Tintin. Yet he is completely absent for the post war stories dealing with Syldavia - in fact it is even unclear whether Syldavia is still a monarchy. Possibly a case of Reality Subtext: Muskar was based on King Leopold III of Belgium, who was forced to abdicate after World War II, and almost every Balkan kingdom except Greece was replaced by a republican form of government; although unlike the real-world Balkan states Syldavia did not become communist.
  • The original Marsupilami (the one that was Spirou's pet, and the brother of the one who lives in the jungle) vanished from Spirou and Fantasio once André Franquin quit the job and Jean-Claude Fournier took over, as Franquin had created the Marsupilami himself and didn't want anyone else to write stories about him; he kept the rights to the characters and started an independent series starring a Replacement Goldfish, a Marsupilami still living in the Palombian jungle. For forty years fans have sent letters and letters and letters to the editor of Spirou Et Fantasio wanting to get the Marsupilami back, to the point that Fournier and later authors of the series often made jokes inside the stories about the Marsupilami.
    • Fortunately, The Bus Came Back when the editor of Spirou et Fantasio bought back the society that produced the alternate Marsupilami series, and a canon explanation involving hypnotism and animal traffic was pulled by the authors currently working on Spirou et Fantasio. Since this explanation was never Franquin or Fournier's intent, however, it still counts as an example.
  • Surprisingly effective bad guy Doctor Strange easily defeated Iron Man and made a successful getaway when his too-honest daughter freed the hero. And he was never seen again! The name was later applied to Steve Ditko's unrelated magician. An explanation of what happened to him is long overdue by Marvel.
  • Famously done to Rikki in the Belgian comic epic Suske en Wiske (Spike and Suzy). Rikki was Wiske's brother, and a main character for the singular issue the comic was still called "Rikki En Wiske". He was never heard from again until after the author passed away, and the new writers decided to bring him back briefly after 254 (!) issues. The explanation? Rikki had gone out to buy shoes and somehow got stuck in Ruritania.
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  • The final issue of The Last Defenders had Kyle Richmond retire from crime-fighting and pass the Nighthawk mantle to a young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Joaquin Pennyworth. Joaquin only ever appeared as Nighthawk in an obscure mini-series called Vengeance (written by the same writer as Last Defenders) and then never showed up again, with Richmond returning to the Nighthawk identity in later books. Bizarrely, Fear Itself: Fearsome Four implied that Joaquin had somehow stolen the identity from Richmond without his consent, even though that is not at all what happened.
  • Kasper Cole became the new Black Panther in the last year or so of Christopher Priest's run and then starred in the short-lived Spin-Off, The Crew, before completely vanishing off the face of the Earth. (A decade and a half later, he briefly reappeared in Ta-Nehisi Coates' run).
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  • Kasper's teammate, Josiah X, also pretty much vanished into thin air. Ditto for Josiah's nephew Eli Bradley aka The Patriot from Young Avengers, who hasn't been seen since The Children's Crusade.
  • In current Super Hero comics every time that either writer or status quo changes, most of the supporting cast and villains with exception of Ensemble Darkhorses (and sometimes even them) are put at risk of suffering from this. If there is no place for them in the hero's new life situation it can be justified. If they are gone because the writer didn't have an idea what to do with them, not so much.
    • When Brian Michael Bendis left Daredevil, the titular character had been imprisoned in one cell block with Kingpin, Owl and Jigsaw. New writer Ed Brubaker removed Jigsaw, without any explanation.
    • Often happens to Spider-Man' supporting cast after all bigger changes of status quo. High school classmates from his early years, college classmates and associates, co-workers from the Daily Bugle, associates from various other occupations, and some of his love interests, vanish without explanation and are rarely mentioned afterwards. A decent example is Joy Mercado, a female reporter who was depicted as one of Peter Parker's closest associates from 1985 to 1993. She made a few cameos in the rest of the 1990s, as the Daily Bugle was de-emphasized at the time, and has since vanished without a trace.
    • Superman's post-Crisis supporting cast is notable because they were built up over such a long stretch of time, and then summarily jettisoned in 1999 when the Dan Jurgens/Louise Simonson era ended. Perry White's family, Bibbo and the other characters from Suicide Slum and the Bottle City characters introduced during the '90s all vanished abruptly. Other characters, like Emil Hamilton and Maggie Sawyer, got thrust deep into the background overnight (Maggie soon moved to Gotham).
    • Supergirl's supporting cast and Rogues Gallery is often jettisoned and replaced every time a new creative team takes over. Dick Malverne, her foster parents Fred and Edna, some of her enemies such as Lesla-Lar, 'Nasty' Luthor and Black Flame were all never seen again after the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1987. Post-Crisis Linda Danvers' supporting, characters and Rogue's Gallery vanished after Many Happy Returns.
    • One of the most popular features of Bill Messner-Loebs' run on The Flash was the large supporting cast — they even carried the book without Wally for a couple of issues. When Mark Waid took over, all of these characters, except Linda Park, faded into the distant background. Piper showed up sometimes, and Chunk got the occasional cameo, but the new "Flash family" that Waid proceeded to assemble replaced everyone else (including Wally's real family). Waid's run was wildly successful, but longtime readers still regret the loss of those characters.
      • Chunk later returned as part of the "Anti-Eclipso" task force in that villain's book but avoided being subsequently murdered along with several other mostly forgotten characters, like the female Wildcat. He'd later show up at the beginning of Geoff Johns' Flash run targeted by Amnuet Black.
    • In the 90s, Lex Luthor was a prominent businessman, who was ruthless but maintained occasional Pet the Dog moments. Among these was the fact that he had an infant daughter named Lena Luthor, who he loved very deeply but she nonetheless got roped into his life as a supervillain against his wishes. After 2004 though, Luthor became a Mad Scientist for a little while and with Dan Didio and Geoff Johns at the helm of the DC, his character was sent into a different direction. In the midst of it all, Lena just disappeared and it was never explained what happened to her or where she is now, leaving Superboy as Lex Luthor's only biological child until Flashpoint.
      • Her disappearance was eventually explained. As a result of the Cosmic Retcons that took place during Infinite Crisis, Lena was Retconned into being Lex's younger sister (which she had been Pre-COIE) rather than his child. Lena's daughter Lori subsequently became a prominent supporting character (and love interest) in Superboy, at least until she was removed from existence in the next Cosmic Retcon .
    • Happens with ridiculous regularity in the X-Men books, especially once Xavier's Institute became a full-fledged school with a student body beyond the active team members, only getting worse after the "Decimation" event reduced the mutant population to around 200 (prompting the X-Men to try to get literally every mutant on Earth to live at the X-Mansion and, later, Utopia). Whenever a new writer takes over, you can count on at least half the extended cast quietly vanishing. Sometimes a later writer will remember them and either mention where they got off to or reveal that they have been there all along, but never really doing anything.
    • Dana Drake, the stepmother of Tim Drake, Robin III, is a particularly egregious example. When Tim's father Jack was killed off in Identity Crisis, it was done so Tim could be tied more closely to Bruce, who would formally adopt him. The problem was, though, that Jack had been remarried to Dana, who had been a major supporting character all through Robin's own series. Dana had a mental breakdown over Jack's death and was sent to a sanitarium to recover... In Bludhaven, which would soon be completely destroyed in Infinite Crisis. One could assume Dana died along with everybody else in Bludhaven, but it was never explicitly stated that she did. Instead, she has simply never been mentioned again. Evidently, DC editors wanted to get rid of her, but realized that having Tim Angst over losing both his father and stepmother in 2 close together yet completely isolated incidents (especially when his girlfriend and best friend has also just died) was too much even for DC. She would be a Forgotten Fallen Friend, except that it was never confirmed she had fallen. So instead, she is this trope.
    • The Impulse supporting cast soon vanished after his book ended, most notably Bart Allen's best friend Preston and love interest Carol. Much to fans' displeasure, one line in Geoff Johns' Teen Titans had Bart suggest it was Wonder Girl who got him to like girls, rather than mentioning Carol or even Arrowette (another crush of his). Bart's pet dog Dox was also never seen again or mentioned by any later writers.
    • Holly Robinson was one of Catwoman's prominent supporting cast members, even temporarily taking on the codename for an arc in the One Year Later era. However, after the "Countdown" event, Holly vanished and was never seen again in the Batman universe. A later throwaway line about the character suggests that she moved elsewhere after receiving a huge sum of stolen money from Hush's fortune. This is in no small part because of the sorry reputation her creator, Frank Miller, picked up over the years–the makers of The Dark Knight Rises even went so far as to create a similar character called Jen to avoid having to forward any money to Miller.
    • Between 2001's Officer Down and Face the Face, the One Year Later Time Skip tie-in to Infinite Crisis, Jim Gordon had retired from the post of Gotham's police commissioner with Michael Akins taking over the post, who didn't want to rely on Batman so much and eventually cut off the GCPD's ties to Batman after the events of War Games. Come Face the Face, Gordon is back as Commissioner (and subsequently the GCPD resumes its alliance with Batman) with no real clue about Akins's fate. However, The Bus Came Back as Detective Comics (Rebirth) saw him as Gotham's new mayor.
  • Following Excalibur #67, half the team is Put on a Bus. Former members show up sporadically in other titles, except Feron.
  • Due to his Continuity Snarl, Hawkman was infamously declared "radioactive" in the late 90's and was subjected to this trope. Grant Morrison had to create a Captain Ersatz for his run on Justice League of America. Eventually he came back in Justice Society of America by Geoff Johns.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Post-Crisis Wonder Woman entered a business partnership with her friend a Boston based PI Micah Rains, then without a single word as to what happened to their partnership and the offices she rented for them she moved to the other side of the country and he was never mentioned again, despite her returning to Boston on several occasions.
    • This is pretty much true for most Wonder Woman characters which were not created by George Pérez or the original Golden Age creators. There are tons of love interests, supporting cast members and villains who simply never appeared again after their respective creator left the series. The few exceptions would be characters like Phillipus and Artemis, and even they seem to have been dropped as of the New 52 revamp.
    • After Phil Jimenez left Wonder Woman Cassie's best friend George was never seen nor mentioned again, despite her lasting through a couple of writers on Wonder Woman. Even at points when Cassie's friendships were part of larger stories elsewhere it seemed the writers and editors all forgot she had any outside the costumed superhero community, or didn't want to bring up Cassie's tomboyish origin and best pal after she was revamped into a very feminine girly-girl by later writers.
  • A mid-story issue of the Super Mario Adventures comic strip, which ran in Nintendo Power during 1992, featured this. Toad uses a Cape Feather to fly up to a pipe sticking out of a cloud (allegedly the one Mario and Luigi entered at the beginning of the story to unknowingly wind up in Dinosaur Land), and gets "help" - which is actually Bowser's Koopa Troop in disguise (the cloud was actually an airship of sorts in disguise). After the Princess gets kidnapped, Toad is shown being held hostage by two Koopas, delivers one line about the Koopas "taking control of the Mushroom Kingdom", and is then never seen or mentioned again for the remainder of the comic (So they just left Toad in the Koopa Castle dungeons?).
  • In Strontium Dog, as the series got progressively darker and more serious, the Gronk just sort of faded away.
  • In the Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi comics, main characters included Nomi and Vima Sunrider, the latter of which was going to be in Knights of the Old Republic. However, due to unclear trademark restrictions involving the name "Sunrider" (speculated to be from either a brand of convertible tops for Jeeps or some kind of corporation that makes herbal products, neither of which is very easy to mistake for a comic character), the characters stopped appearing at all in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, aside from an accidental anecdote in the first KOTOR game and an item description that didn't mention the last name in the second. However, Lucasfilm Licensing has apparently gotten past the worst of it, and can now create products and media featuring the characters, provided the name "Sunrider" isn't mentioned on the external packaging, and a book about Nomi Sunrider was due out in 2011. (See Wookiepedia.) For whatever reason, however, the book was cancelled.
  • Blackhawk: The early stories in the 1940s featured three squadron members named Zeg (Polish), Boris (Russian) and Baker (English). They all vanished without trace after their initial appearances.
    • Boris DID return briefly in the short-lived mid-1970s revival.
  • When the Micronauts began appearing starting in 1996 issues of Cable, not only was their reappearance due to a very apparent retcon, but no mention was made of Acroyear or Huntarr. Acroyear's absence is most likely due to the fact that Marvel no longer has the rights to any of the Micronaut characters derived from the old-school toyline. It doesn't explain why Huntarr is not there, as he was created by Marvel writer Bill Mantlo.
  • Wayne's in Pain, a character put into The Bash Street Kids (a comic strip in the Anthology Comic The Beano) after a Blue Peter competition, disappeared after being in the strip for only a short while.
  • One of the signs that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures has dropped all pretense of being a Recursive Adaptation of the original cartoon series was that Channel 6 and April's co-workers from the station disappeared without explanation; by the time April gets her own mini-series and we get an update on her job situation, she has been fired from her job at WRTL, by her boss Murdoch Maxwell.
  • The Mighty Thor: Remember Sigyn? Loki's wife (like in mythology)? Neither does anyone else, except as an Author Avatar in some Loki fanfics. Sigyn is presumed to have died in Ragnarok, but so did all the other Asgardians. Everybody else reincarnated, so the reincarnated Sigyn should be around somewhere. But nope, still no mention of her. See here.
  • A number of characters from the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series have disappeared from the face of the Earth, especially if they weren't mainstream Sega-based characters or part of the Saturday Morning series. However, one bad example of this is Dulcy Dragon, a character from the second season of the Saturday Morning cartoon. She had a few roles up until issue 50 before appearing in a set of back stories along with Amy Rose. Beyond one last appearance in the early 100s, Dulcy has rarely, if ever, been seen again.
    • However, Ian Flynn's run has revived a number of characters and pulled them out of this hole, including Scratch, Grounder and Coconuts, and obscure, early issue characters such as Larry Lynx and Harvey Who.
      • On the other hand, thanks to a heaping dose of Screwed by the Lawyers, a large majority of the non-SEGA-approved characters (re: those created by former head writer Ken Penders) have disappeared due to Cosmic Retcon. However, being what the comic is, the entire thing is lampshaded greatly.
  • Archie Comics:
    • Archie Comics have introduced several characters who never appeared after a few issues. Sometimes their absence is explainable, like the alien characters who have landed and vanished soon after. But then we have cases like Betty's older brother and sister, who have been recurring characters in Little Archie but are never mentioned in any of the teen or adult Archie stories (though Polly appears in the Alternate Universe comic Afterlife with Archie). Polly Cooper is actually a peculiar example. As Betty's 20-something older sister, she has appeared in several regular stories from various decades. Only for writers to forget her again for a few years, and bring her back at later points. She has vanished and returned multiple times.
    • Back when Josie and the Pussycats was a slice of life comic called She's Josie, Josie had a tomboyish best friend named Pepper. When the series was retooled Melody stayed, however Pepper was quietly dropped. Her role has mostly been covered by Valerie.
    • Other peculiar cases involve supporting cast members for a number of characters. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, an entirely new supporting cast developed around Jughead in his own subseries. A few years later, all of them were written out and Jughead lost some of his character development. Dilton was given his own love interest and supporting cast, only to quickly loose them. Cheryl Blossom had her own, rather large, supporting cast. With the exception of her brother Jason Blossom, most of them vanished as well.
  • Wiccan of the Young Avengers originally had two younger brothers, who have since fallen off the face of the earth.
    • Marvel Boy (formerly the Protector) had a girlfriend named Annie while he was a member of the Avengers. They had a very close relationship, and there were even some dangling plot threads concerning their relationship when Bendis left the book. Then came the second volume of Young Avengers, where Marvel Boy was shown shacking up with Kate Bishop without even a single mention of Annie.
    • This was eventually explained. Marvel Boy dumped Annie at some point between The Avengers and Young Avengers, eventually leading to her apparent return as an Ax-Crazy Woman Scorned.
  • Despite the fact that Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles occurs partially during the same timeframe as final episode of the original Robotech series, Rand, Rook, Lunk, Annie, and Lancer are not seen or mentioned at any time. In the Prelude to Shadow Chronicles prequel, several Sentinels characters are not mentioned at all, such as Burak and Invid defector Tesla, leaving both of their storylines unresolved (although they were resolved in the original Jack McKinney novelizations, they may have been retconned out given that Prelude presents a revised ending to The Sentinels).
  • Tomahawk: After the Retool that introduced the Rangers, Tomahawk's sidekick Dan Hunter popped up less and less frequently until he disappeared entirely without explanation.
  • Echo, Daredevil's former Love Interest, was once a member of the New Avengers briefly before disappearing, then briefly reappearing in Secret Invasion, then disappearing again. This wasn't lost on writer Brian Michael Bendis, who had Spider-Man question where she was at one point and have her flip her shit at Luke Cage and Jessica Jones when she was poked to be Danielle Cage's babysitter.
    "You know I used to be on this @#$@#$ing team!"
    • Echo has recently turned up in Ta-Nehesi Coates' Captain America run as one of Sharon Carter's "Daughters of Liberty" team. Which is interesting, since Bendis had killed her off WHILE explaining where she'd disappeared to in his Moon Knight run. (Undercover trying to bring down the Count Nefaria mob.)
  • Annihilation: Conquest introduced a character called Wraith, who seemed to have been created purely because his powers were useful to the plot. Once he had served his purpose in the story, he never appeared again, leaving his subplot (his quest to find the signet-ring-wearing man who killed his father) unresolved to this day.
  • Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham introduced Mary Jane Waterbuffalo as this continuity's version of Mary Jane Watson, but she disappeared after "The Pig from Porker's Past, Part 1", an unresolved story featured in the 224th issue of the second volume of Marvel Tales. Instead of being brought back for the Spider-Ham story featured in issue four of Amazing Spider-Man Family and the Spider-Ham 25th Anniversary Special one-shot, Mary Jane Waterbuffalo was replaced with a new character named Mary Crane Watsow.
  • Mark Waid's final arc of Champions saw Ironheart, Red Locust and the new Wasp, Patriot and Falcon join the team. While Ironheart and Wasp remained when Jim Zub took over the series, Falcon, Red Locust and Patriot all vanished without explanation.
  • A number of Marvel Comics villains have rather inexplicably disappeared.
    • Kala, Queen of the Netherworld was one of Iron Man's earliest foes. She has appeared sporadically since this, but her rapid aging when leaving her realm limits her appearances to situations where she's forced out of it by Subterranean politics, most recently (to my knowledge) during the Subterranean Wars in the 1990s.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In "Flesh of My Flesh", the transporter chief Nils Pitcairn, who appeared in "The Cage", is introduced as if he is going to be a major character. However, he appears in only two panels and is never seen nor mentioned again in the remaining 16 issues.
  • The Ultimates: Petra Laskov first appears as Swarm, a member of the Liberators, and then as the second Wasp. She never appeared again since she killed Red Skull.
  • Hunter's Hellcats: Once the feature settled on the main criminal characters of Brute, Swinger, Snake Oil and Juggler, the other Hellcats just kind of disappeared, apart from the occasional Red Shirt. Sometimes unnamed Hellcats would appear, usually brawling with the main characters, so one possibility is that these are the name characters from the early stories.
  • Much of the original Youngblood's Loads and Loads of Characters are nowhere to be seen or heard in Youngblood (2017), and it's only assumed they're laying low.
  • The New 52 introduced a new version of The Question who was a faceless immortal who had his memory of his past erased due to committing some crime. After appearing in the "Trinity of Sin" miniseries, the character vanished and was never seen again. A few years later, the original Vic Sage Question and the Renee Montoya Question were brought back while the New 52 Question is still MIA.


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