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Chuck Cunningham Syndrome / Film

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  • Predating Chuck by nearly half a century, Joan Hardy (Julie Haydon) appears as a member of the Hardy family in the first Andy Hardy movie, A Family Affair in 1937, and plays a bigger role in the plot than Andy. She disappears without explanation for the remainder of the long-running movie series.
  • In the Disney movie A Goofy Movie, Roxanne is shown to be Goofy's son Max's love interest. In the sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie, Roxanne and her best friend Stacey (Max's friend Bobby's love interest) never appear and are not mentioned, despite all the trouble Max went on that summer. Roxanne does appear in an episode of House of Mouse, though. Meanwhile, A Goofy Movie itself removed Pete's wife, Peg and PJ's sister, Pistol along with both the family pets, Chainsaw and Waffles, from Goof Troop, without even a passing mention of any of them in either movie, and with a line in the sequel that explicitly proves Pistol's not around anymore.
  • Transformers Film Series
    • Maggie and Glen played a major part in the first movie, only to vanish in the sequels.
    • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Autobot twins, Skids and Mudflap have this happen. After the fight with Devastator, you don't see them again for the rest of the film. They don't even return in Dark of the Moon. This is because everyone, including Michael Bay himself, hated them, considering them unfunny stereotypes of African Americans. They do return in the comic adaptation and novelization for Dark of the Moon...and get killed alongside Ironhide.
    • Transformers: Age of Extinction does this to the entire human cast from the first three movies along with most of the surviving Transformers from the previous movie. However, the latter could be attributed to the actions of Cemetery Wind in the period between the two movies.
  • The original Transformers: The Movie does this to some of the surviving cast members up to that point, as nearly anyone who didn't die or was implicitly shown to have survived is never mentioned again.
    • Shortly after Unicron transforms Megatron into Galvatron, Skywarp and Bombshell are transformed into the identical "Cyclonus and his Armada", however, the "Armada" (which is just one guy) is never seen or mentioned after this scene. It is disputed who got reformatted into Cyclonus and who into the Armada. Bombshell is the one shown in front and Skywarp further at the back so it is considered that Bombshell got formatted into Cyclonus however. Skywarp is the major character and much more loyal to Megatron (Bombshell and the other insecticons consider them seperate from the other Decepticons) and has the personality of becoming Galvatron's/Megatron's new Number Two.
    • If you look closely, whenever Snarl is present, one of the other Dinobots is missing. And the script even refers to "the four Dinobots". It's like the entire production team thought there were only four of them and couldn't decide which four there were.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Nightcrawler was a major character and love interest for Storm in X2: X-Men United, but didn't even appear in X-Men: The Last Stand because actor Alan Cumming found the make-up and prosthetic process grueling and refused to return to it without Bryan Singer. Cumming can be seen in the behind-the-scenes footage for X2 already stating that he never wants to go through the ordeal again. The video game based on the films which takes place between the two movies explains that Nightcrawler, a peaceful man, went abroad to distance himself from the X-Men's violent lifestyle.
    • Poor Riptide. He goes from No Name Given in the previous film to not even earning a mention in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Particularly notable since Erik takes the time to list all the characters not in this movie because they died in between films. Though it can easily be assumed that Trask killed Riptide along with the others, he still goes unmentioned.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Betty Ross was Bruce Banner's love interest and a major character in The Incredible Hulk. She hasn't been seen or mentioned since, and Bruce is instead shown dating Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even her Dad's got a bus ticket back for Captain America: Civil War.
    • Thanos's servant, The Other. While his death in Guardians of the Galaxy would obviously prevent him from appearing in the present of Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame, he does not appear in the former's flashback to Thanos taking Gamora's planet (Ebony Maw is shown in his place), nor does he appear when an alternate timeline version of Thanos and his entire army from a point in time where he would still be alive come to the main timeline for a final battle, where the Black Order is still shown. Although, the alternate Thanos does quote The Other slightly when he recognizes the Avengers and calls them "unruly wretches".
  • Dr. Dolittle: Rodney the guinea pig is nowhere to be found come the sequel, probably because his voice actor, Chris Rock, declined to return. While Rodney may likely have died of age by Dr. Dolittle 2, this is never addressed at any point.
  • In the early Olsen-banden movies, Kjeld and Yvonne had two children: A son Børge and a smaller daughter. As the series went on Børge became an important regular while his sister vanished into thin air.
    • At least in the Norwegian versions, Kjell had two sons and a baby daughter in the first movie, and while the middle son Basse becomes a regular character, the other two have disappeared completely by the second one. Likewise, Benny ends up fathering a kid during the first movie, but both kid and fiance are never again referred to, and the only supporting cast member to reappear is Hansen the bartender. After movie 2, he's gone too.
  • In the animated version of Charlotte's Web Jeffrey the gosling, Wilbur's best friend besides Charlotte, is never seen again after he attempts to join Wilbur, Charlotte, and Templeton in the crate and is taken out.
  • Anamaria is never seen or heard from again after the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Interestingly, the cast was told in Dead Man's Chest that Anamaria would appear at the ending of the film, so the shock and surprise of Captain Barbossa greeting them was genuine.
  • John Tate and Molly Cartwell were last seen "driving down to the Becker's" at the end of Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, and are nowhere to be found or mentioned in Halloween: Resurrection. And we will almost certainly never know, as the series producer suffered Author Existence Failure, then Rob Zombie rebooted the series.
  • Dana Freeling, the eldest daughter in Poltergeist is completely absent from the film's sequel, with only a small mention from Steven that she wouldn't return to the original house. An original draft of the script explains her absence due to being away at college. Tragically, this is due to the actress, Dominique Dunne, being murdered by her ex-boyfriend shortly after the release of the first film.
  • In Jackie Chan's Mr Nice Guy, whatever happened to Tara and Diana? The latter was last seen getting punched in the face by one of the bad guys, but we can't tell whether she was killed.
  • Pyramid Head was a pretty major villain for the first half of the Silent Hill movie. Then he kills off a side character, goes away, and is never seen or mentioned again for the rest of the film. Interestingly, the originally planned ending had six Pyramid Heads come back at the end and butcher most of the characters, but they ran out of money and just had the little girl do it.
  • In Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, Thomas and Wiggins do not appear
  • In The Never Ending Story III, Atreyu — who the co-protagonist of the first film and a major character as Bastian's best friend in the second — is nowhere to be seen. The very noticeable actor changes for both Atreyu and Bastian between each film create a lot of dissonance anyway.
  • American Pie and American Pie 2 center around four friends; Jim, Kevin, Finch, and Oz. In American Wedding, Oz is completely left out. You'd think they'd at least mention why one of Jim's best friends didn't attend his wedding. He returns for Reunion though.
  • In Eddie and the Cruisers, Frank Ridgeway plays a key role in the band and the story. When the sequel comes out, there's no mention of Ridgeway at all. They even go so far as to replace Frank's image with Sal in recycled footage from the first film.
  • At the end of Legally Blonde, Elle becomes best friends with Vivian Kensington, her rival for her boyfriend. However, in the sequel, Vivian is never even mentioned.
  • In Halloweentown, Luke was a fairly important character, and he became even more important in the first sequel. He disappears completely in the third and fourth films, just in time for Marnie to get a cuter, human Love Interest instead.
  • In Weekend at Bernie's II, Catherine Mary Stewart's character disappears without a mention, even after one of the heroes spent the entire first movie romantically obsessing over her.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride:
    • Sarabi, Simba's own mother, is never seen and no dialogue mentions her. Apparently, Sarabi's voice actress died before the sequel was made, and it's possible a replacement could not be found.
    • Shenzi, Banzai and Ed failed to appear as well, although they are mentioned to have fled from Pride Lands following the first film. They also made several appearences in the 1995 Timon & Pumbaa series.
  • In the Direct-to-Video sequels to An American Tail, Bridget, the love interest of Fievel's older friend Tony Toponi, vanishes without even a mention and Tony starts lusting after other women. This could possibly be because Bridget's voice actress was terminally ill when the movies were made and died soon after (for their faults, the 3rd and 4th films did manage to get most of the original voice talents from the first two movies). It could also have been because the writers wanted Tony to be single so he could interact with Fievel more.
  • In Batman Returns, Catwoman, Batman's love interest and villain throughout most of the movie, is last seen on the roof of a building before the movie ends, and is never seen again in the two subsequent films (and is only mentioned once, and in a subtle way, when Chase Meridian says "Or do I need skintight vinyl and a whip?"). Michelle Pfeiffer was meant to get her own film as Catwoman, but the project fell into Development Hell and eventually crawled out in 2004 with Halle Berry as the star and nothing to do with the Burton films.
    • According to Batman Wikia, Catwoman was suppose to appear in the then planned second sequel directed by Tim Burton, but Warner Bros considered Burton’s dark toned-movies to be difficult to sell to young audiences, so the project was then passed to Schumacher. We know what happened.
  • Harry Potter
    • Crabbe disappears from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, when he always appeared alongside Goyle in all of the first six films. Although the filmmakers had a reason for cutting him out (his actor was arrested for drug possession), no mention is given to him at all, Harry never asks where he is, and Malfoy doesn't seem to notice, as he specifically gets Goyle and Blaise Zabini (another Slytherin ally in the books) when he Apparates into the dungeons. Crabbe was supposed to die in this movie too, but due to the character omission they killed off Goyle instead.
    • Parvati Patil, who does not appear alongside Padma in the last film (who was seen less in the series than Parvati).
    • Viktor Krum, Cornelius Fudge and Buckbeak, among others. While they're not exactly main characters in the books after their main plotlines end, they do appear in later books. In the films, on the other hand, they're not even mentioned after they've gone.
    • Some of the Hogwarts ghosts didn't make it past the first film. Nearly Headless Nick managed to stick around a little bit longer and was last seen in the second film. Moaning Myrtle disappears after the fourth film. Colin Creevey has a sizable role in the second film and is then never seen again. He's sort-of replaced by Canon Foreigner Nigel. Madam Hooch is only in the first movie (this was due to a conflict with the actor). The Fat Lady is never seen after the third movie and that appearance was a case of The Other Darrin.
      • What's particularly odd about the Colin/Nigel situation is that when there are pictures of Nigel in companion media, he's often referred to as 'Colin Creevey'.
      • The entirety of Slytherin house with the exception of Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle might as well be extras as far as the movies are concerned, Viktor Krum can be assumed to just be back home as far as the movies are concerned, Rita Skeeter was important in one scene and can be assumed to be getting on with her career. Played straight with Fudge and Buckbeak though.
    • Barty Crouch Jr. who was Spared by the Adaptation, yet never appears in any of the later movies. In the book, he got his soul sucked out by the Dementor's Kiss. The film merely states he will be sent back to Azkaban. In later movies, Voldemort frees all of the Death Eaters from Azkaban yet Crouch Jr. never appears alongside any of them. True Chuck Cunningham Syndrome indeed.
  • Blade gave us Karen Jenson, a haematologist who develops a biochemical weapon against vampires and even finds a freakin' cure for vampirism. The movie ends on the note that, if she wants to be useful, she'll have to make Blade a better serum to suppress his bloodthirst. She never shows up or is mentioned in the sequels, but Blade doesn't have any serum-related problems (so presumably she did make him a better one), and other characters are mentioned as being cured of vampirism.
  • In the first Men in Black movie we're told that K was in love with his old girlfriend throughout his career and his original partner was D. In the third movie, J time travels back to the early years of K's career. K is shown to be romantically interested in O and there's no mention of his old girlfriend or D.
  • In High School Musical, during the "Stick to the Status Quo" musical number, three characters decide to follow after Troy and confess their Hidden Depths: a member of the school's basketball team bakes, a smart girl dances hip-hop, and a skater boy plays the cello. While the first two, Zeke Baylor and Martha Cox, become major supporting characters, the skater boy is never seen or mentioned again once the song is done.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Due to Heath Ledger's death, the Joker is not released by Bane with all of Gotham's other prisoners. People are 90% certain that he would have played Scarecrow's role in the plot, were the actor still alive.
    • The Novelization explains that he is kept in the otherwise abandoned Arkham Asylum, its sole inmate, and Bane never got around to releasing him.
  • The Police Academy franchise has a nasty case of the syndrome with characters disappearing between each of the sequels:
    • Their First Assignment: Cadet Leslie Barbara, Cadet Karen Thompson, and Cadet George Martín.
    • Back in Training: Capt. Pete Lassard and Sgt. Vinnie Schtulman.
    • Citizens on Patrol: Cmdnt. Mauser, Sgt. Kyle Blankes, Mrs. Fackler, Cadet Hedges, and Cadet Karen Adams.
    • Assignment Miami Beach: Sgt. Carey Mahoney, Officer Tomoko Nogata, Sgt. Chad Copeland, Officer Sweetchuck, Officer Zed, Officer Bud Kirkland, and Sgt. Kathleen Kirkland Tackleberry.
    • City Under Siege: Officer Tommy "House" Conklin.
    • Mission to Moscow: Sgt. Nick Lassard, Sgt. Laverne Hooks, Sgt. Douglas Fackler, Lt. Proctor, Lt. Moses Hightower, and Commissioner Henry Hurst.
  • Played for laughs in Summer School. An early scene has a large black student asking to use the bathroom. He's absent for the entire movie before returning for the big test. When asked what happened, he just says he was in the bathroom for the entire summer. "Door was stuck."
    • Even better? He had claimed the computer made an error in his being in summer school. It's then stated that despite not being around for any of the classes, he scored the highest grade on the final exam.
  • Scary Movie: Shorty and Ray are completely absent in the third film onwards, having prominently been there for the first two.
  • Bernard is absent in The Santa Clause 3 and no one mentions him at all. This is particularly noticeable because he was in a high position of authority in the previous movies.
    • David Krumholtzr was too busy with the TV show NUMB3RS and couldn't appear. He is in the Novelization, however.
  • Our Daily Bread was King Vidor's sequel to his silent film masterpiece The Crowd. John and Mary Sims return, but their son is nowhere to be seen.
  • In Shrek, the second film introduces six dronkeys, one of which is red and doesn't breathe fire. Unlike the other five, this red dronkey does not appear in Shrek the Third or Shrek Forever After.
  • Lori from Ted was built up as John's major love interest and motivation for him to grow up. In the sequel, they've apparently divorced after only 6 months of marriage and John is now chasing his attorney, who just so happens to be an attractive young woman who doesn't try to change him.
  • Significant characters from the Disney Fairies franchise frequently fall victim to this when the next movie comes along. Some of the lucky ones are Demotedto Extra but others have simply disappeared without explanation by the next installment even though they had top billing right below Tinker Bell in the previous film.
  • In The Room, Only Sane Man Peter abruptly disappears before the climax, as his actor had schedule conflicts. As as result, he was replaced by Stephen, a character we'd never seen before whose name isn't even mentioned except for in the end credits.
  • Jodi from Knocked Up is The Chick of the gang but she vanishes halfway through the film.
  • Miss Perty from the Eddie Murphy version of The Nutty Professor vanishes in the sequel. Even Buddy Love doesn't know what happened to her and has to ask Sherman (who is his split personality).
  • All of Carter's colleagues at the LAPD from the first Rush Hour vanish in the sequels since they focus more on his and Lee's partnership.
  • Carol Marcus in Star Trek Beyond. The previous film, Into Darkness, ends with her joining the Enterprise crew for its five-year mission, but Beyond makes no mention of her or her absence.
  • Cars 3: Finn McMissile, Holley Shiftwell and the other agents from Cars 2 are not seen or mentioned in this movie. It is also never mentioned whether or not Mater and Holley became a couple after the implications at the end of that film.
  • In Sanctum, both Liz (Nicole Downs) and J.D. (Christopher James Baker) disappear about twenty minutes into the film, during a scene wherein Josh (Rhys Wakefield) is trying to climb a rock formation to save himself from the flooding cave, and they're trying to help him. Despite being two of the very small group of cave divers, no one ever sees or mentions them again.
  • Puppy Paws, the son of Santa Paws in Santa Buddies, is nowhere to be seen in Santa Paws 2, despite the latter film being about Santa Paws's pups.
  • In Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, Zeke is nowhere to be found, and Cody insists it has always been the Hang 5, who inspired him to take up surfing. In the first film, there was no mention of any Hang 5, and it was Big Z's visit to Shiverpool and gift to Cody.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet notably has Bowser, who previously appeared in Wreck-It Ralph, removed from the film without even a mention or explanation as to why. Universal acquiring the movie rights to Super Mario Bros. from Nintendo likely factored into this, though Sonic and Dr. Eggman, who also appeared in the prior movie, returned for Ralph Breaks the Internet despite also having a movie in production by a different company by then.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost, the Fully Absorbed Finale to The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, features appearances by and references to nearly all of the ghosts from that show except for the bumbling duo of Bogel and Weerd. Scrappy-Doo would also fall into this by being absent in the flashbacks to the original series and never making a comeback in this movie had Flim Flam not mentioned him in passing at one point.
  • Due partly to its long-running status and not-insignificant gaps between movies, the Mission: Impossible film series have had an absolutely terrible time retaining leading actresses — not because the characters were disliked or there were problems on set, but because the actresses in question simply haven't been available to return for subsequent films. It wasn't until Rebecca Ferguson, who debuted in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, joined the franchise that the series actually managed to keep a leading actress on an ongoing basis (she returned for Fallout and is slated to return for the seventh and likely eighth films as well).
  • At the end of The Maze Runner, there are 9 Gladers who escaped from the maze. But in the sequel, only 8 Gladers return. One of them disappears after just 2 scenes and another one disappears after 1/3 of the movie. What makes it even weirder, is that a deleted scene shows that the last one dies in a scene that was included in the trailers and many other promotional materials. The director said that test audiences weren’t noticing the background character so when he died everyone was confused who he was. The other two have gotten no explanation for their disappearances.


Example of: