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Elements Exiled from Continuity for legal reasons.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gundam Build Fighters suffered an unusual version of this. Due to various legal agreements with Japanese TV networks, none of the Gundam shows that had aired on MBS or TBS within the past five years could be represented in Build Fighters, which covered Mobile Suit Gundam 00's second season and movie as well as AGE itself. Reportedly, the contract on 00 Second Season ended one day before the final episode of Build Fighters aired, which allowed the staff to include Yuuki/Meijin turning his damaged Amazing Gundam Exia into a "Repair" version. As of the sequel Gundam Build Fighters Try, all licensing issues seem to be resolved, as references to AGE (namely Kei Karima using the Vagan Gear SID and a Gundam Spiegel wielding AGE-1 Spallow's combat knife) have begun to crop up.
  • The Mewtwo featured in Pokémon: The First Movie is owned by the estate of the movie's screenwriter, Takeshi Shudō (despite The Pokémon Company owning the concept of Mewtwo). This is why the much-maligned Pokémon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened created a different, if very similar Mewtwo, and why the first movie's CGI remake required the permission of Shudo's estate.
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    Comic Books 
  • The estates of Siegel & Shuster, original creators of Superman, won a court ruling that the concept of Superboy belonged to them. This is believed to have led to the death of one character, the Modern Age clone Superboy, and the renaming of another. Even the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon, which was based on the concept of Superboy, instead has a teenage "young Superman" as its star. And the DVD of the '60s Filmation Superman cartoons had the Superboy shorts deleted. A later ruling determined that Kon-El (the '90s clone Superboy) is different enough from the original Superboy ("our" Superman as a teenager) to be used with impunity. Even more, it's since been ruled that Superboy is now owned by DC Comics instead. However, there was the problem of Superman, which started this mess and what many people think is the main reason for The New 52. Since then, it's been ruled that DC owns Superman and his concepts flat out.

    Film — Animated 
  • Disney was unable to reuse Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. franchise in the Wreck-It Ralph sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet, whilst once again omitting Mario from the feature after having previously cut him from Wreck-it Ralph, after the Super Mario Bros. franchise's movie rights were acquired by Universal Studios almost a year before its release. To make up for their absence, an Easter Egg was added to where the background of Spamley's shack has yellow question mark blocks hidden in a stash full of game items. It should be noted that Nintendo did give Disney permission to use Mario in Wreck-it Ralph, but the filmmakers didn't know where to fit him without turning the whole movie into a full-blown Mario adaptation. On the flip side, Sonic and Dr. Eggman, both of whom appeared in the previous film and whose movie rights were tied up with Paramount, were allowed to appear in Ralph Breaks the Internet at Paramount's blessing.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The SPECTRE fracas in James Bond movies is a good non-comics example, and probably the most notorious case in live-action films. The villainous terrorist organization debuted in Thunderball, a book written by Ian Fleming based on a screenplay he worked on with several other people. One of said people, Kevin McClory, brought him to court in a complicated brouhaha; eventually, it was settled out of court, but the terms prevented SPECTRE from appearing in The Spy Who Loved Me. This is also what led to the Daniel Craig films using the Expy organization Quantum. This legal battle finally ended on November 15, 2013 when MGM and Danjaq, LLC (the owners of the James Bond franchise) acquired the rights and interests of the estate of Kevin McClory (who died in 2006, about ten years after trying to inflate how he much contributed to Bond), and the title of the next Bond movie ended up being...SPECTRE.
  • The prequel film Oz: The Great and Powerful pays homage to many aspects of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz due to its widespread popularity. However, Oz: The Great and Powerful is owned by Disney, The Wizard of Oz was made by MGM (but owned by Warner Bros. due to a complicated distributor change), and the original novel is in the public domain, so Disney could not use elements that originated in the MGM movie like the Ruby Slippers (they were silver in the book), the swirl of the Yellow Brick Road, and even the Wicked Witch of the West's green skin tone (they got around the last one by making it a slightly different shade of green). This was also the reason why Return to Oz, Disney's surprisingly dark "sequel" to the 1939 film, emphasized characters and concepts from L. Frank Baum's Oz books as opposed to the 1939 film. Baum's public domain characters who aid Dorothy in Return, such as Tik-Tok and Belina the Chicken, ended up alienating moviegoers who were otherwise familiar with the characters in the 1939 film, who either didn't appear or were "turned into stone" throughout most of the film. The Scarecrow does appear later in the movie,note  as do Dorothy's ruby slippers,note  but the reduced emphasis of many of the characters that appeared in The Wizard of Oz, along with the film's nightmarish tone, caused Return to Oz to flop and be mostly forgotten among the wave of fantasy films of the 1980s.

    Franchises 
  • In The Transformers, the Jetfire toy was a licensed reissue of the Bandai VF-1S Valkyrie toy, and in the comics and the cartoon, the character was to resemble the toy for obvious reasons. However, difficulties with one of the entities involved with Macross/Robotech (It's not clear whether it was Big West, Tatsunoko Production or Harmony Gold who put their foot down) made it obvious to Hasbro, Sunbow and Toei Animation that the character could not be used without a major hassle. Instead, the cartoon featured "Skyfire"... and the comic books used Skyfire but called him Jetfire. Thanks to the multiversal nature of Transformers fiction, none of this is a problem—Skyfire and Jetfire are considered Alternate Universe counterparts who happen to be unusually divergent, and modern depictions tend to feature a "Jetfire" who combines elements of both—but it's still weird.
    • Similarly, issues over the ownership of Death's Head and Circuit Breaker; Marvel ramrodded both into non-Transformers appearances (Circuit Breaker appeared in cameo in Secret Wars II and Death's Head in an editorial cartoon) before they "officially debuted" in their respective Transformers comics to ensure that they own the two characters and not Hasbro, meaning that their issues can't be reprinted by IDW Comics. Which in the case of Death's Head means that none of his UK stories ("Galvatron: Wanted Dead or Alive" and "The Legacy of Unicron") can be published in the United States (though both stories did see release via comic shops via importing of the UK published trade paperbacks). Circuit Breaker's situation is more complicated, as the first three TPBs had to replace her early appearances with text summaries, though apparently IDW was FINALLY able to strike some sort of deal with Marvel to reprint #72-80 in full come the release of volume #5 of their reprint series.
    • The Deluxe Insecticons and the Deluxe Vehicles didn't appear in either the cartoon or the comic (though they did appear in the UK comic... despite not being sold in the UK). Like with Jetfire, their toys were licensed from another company - in this case Bandai, who were the main competitor of Takara (whom Hasbro collaborated with for Transformers) in Japan. Since including them would mean advertising a competitor's product, they were left out.
  • Whoniverse:
    • Big Finish could not use Grace in Big Finish Doctor Who audios because the character is partly owned by Universal. (They could get her actress to voice different characters.)
    • Doctor Who: The new series nearly wasn't able to use the Daleks due to difficult negotiations with the estate of Terry Nation, their creator. Although the estate and The BBC were eventually able to come to an agreement, the exact details are unknown. However, it was widely believed that part of the agreement was that the Daleks had to have at least one obligatory appearance in any given season of the new series, even if just a cameo appearance as was the case with "The Waters of Mars" in the 2009 specials and "The Wedding of River Song" in Series 6. However, former showrunner Steven Moffat debunked this not long before leaving the show, and it has been claimed that the Daleks' almost Once a Season appearances are simply due to their popularity with those working on the show and in the fandom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The embargo on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel crossovers is a good example of this. When Buffy moved to UPN, Angel remained on The WB, and until the networks came to agreement a season later, no crossovers could be done. This made things extremely difficult when Buffy wanted to meet and talk to Angel after her resurrection. Neither series could use the other network's character, so the meeting had to take place between Sunnydale and L.A. Additionally, by the time the Buffy tie-in novels set in season 3 were being released, Wesley had already left for Angel and that series had the rights to him. None of the season 3 set novels feature Wesley at all, only the episode novelizations do.
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    Puppet Shows 
  • In the years since the death of Jim Henson, the rights to his various Muppet characters have been divided up among several different companies (key amongst them is Disney's buyout of The Muppets, including the word "Muppet", and the Sesame Street Muppets being granted to Sesame Workshop), which affects modern productions featuring the characters. For example, Kermit the Frog doesn't appear much on Sesame Street any more, and the characters from Fraggle Rock are no longer allowed to be identified as Muppets (Sesame Workshop has a deal with Disney that allows them to continue to refer to their characters as Muppets).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Way back when, FASA had obtained a license to use a number of mecha from three anime shows — Crusher Joe, Fang of the Sun Dougram and — yep, you guessed it — Super Dimension Fortress Macross for use in their BattleDroids wargame. Never heard of Battledroids? That's because George Lucas threatened a lawsuit over the word "Droid". So, the game became BattleTech. Then, in 1994, Harmony Gold complained and threatened a lawsuit over use of the Macross mecha in the game. The problem was that FASA had rights to the miniatures that originally came with the game, which were based on the aforementioned designs. But because of the way they were licensed, FASA did not necessarily have rights to the artwork, which Harmony Gold took them to task over. The battlemechs based on those designs continued to be used (The Warhammer and Marauder are some of the most famous 3025-era battlemechs), but not depicted in images, being dubbed the "Unseen".
    • In 2012, Catalyst Game Labs (the game's current publisher) gained the rights to use the artwork for much of the Unseen... except for Macross based designs, which Harmony Gold still retains control over. This deal promptly fell through, and which point Catalyst said "screw it, we're done dealing with this shit" and in 2013 it was announce that they were simply going to retcon the appearance of everything in the game who'd original used artwork that was created by anyone who was not FASA, FanPro, or Catalyst Game Labs. They then set about creating new artwork for the Unseens that, while evocative of the old appearances, was created in-house and different enough that it was legally clear.
    • Another attempt to bypass problems with the Unseen was the Technical Readout: Project Phoenix, which published updated, original artwork for the designs, using the art style for current-era Battlemechs. The different look is explained in-universe as a simple retooling of production lines to match current Inner Sphere tech standards, letting the new Reseen mechs exist alongside the original Unseen designs in the background and still allowing Reseen designs to be used in the art.
  • In Deadlands, the town of Gomorra was extensively featured in the spinoff game Deadlands: Doomtown. Unfortunately, all IP for the spinoff game wound up being transferred to AEG and because Gomorra was so heavily tied to the game, any reference to the town became a copyright gray area. Realizing they couldn't write about the town any more, future Deadlands RPG supplements from Pinnacle explained that there was "the Gomorra Incident" resulting in the town getting blown sky high with nothing left to tell a story about and nobody left to explain what happened.
  • In the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 metaseries, Games Workshop ran into some issues with the fifth god of chaos, Malal. Rather than fight John Wagner and Alan Grant for his rights, however, they just dropped Malal entirely and stuck to "the Big Four". Malal has since crept back in as "Malice", who is either a rogue Daemon Prince or a minor deity in the Chaos pantheon depending on which Fan Wank you subscribe to.

    Theme Parks 
  • A Theme Park example: Because of a perpetual licensing agreement Marvel Comics made with Universal Studios in 1994, Disney, Marvel's parent company since 2010, is not allowed to build anything Marvel-related, be it attractions or character experiences, in Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando or the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan (though they are allowed to preview Marvel films or sell Marvel merchandise, albeit without the "Marvel" branding) due to Universal having parks and Marvel attractions in both regions. This meant that while a monorail train themed after The Avengers was allowed to travel between the parking lot and the Magic Kingdom gate, it couldn't go to Epcot since it would entail actually entering the park. Averted with Disney's other resorts, in which they are free to build Marvel attractions whenever they pleasenote .
  • Ironically, Universal themselves got into a similar mess after acquiring DreamWorks Animation in 2016. Since DreamWorks and The Rudolph Company licensed the 1964 likeness of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to SeaWorld months before Universal purchased the studio, Universal is unable to use the character or its related elements in their Orlando or Hollywood parks, where SeaWorld also has a presence. They can build Rudolph experiences in Japan and Singapore, of course, provided that they receive blessings from The Rudolph Company. Additionally, Universal also cannot use the characters in markets where DreamWorks has pre-acquisition licensing agreements in place, such as Australia, Dubai, Russia and China. On a side note, Madagascar characters would've also been banned from the Orlando and Hollywood parks as well... had SeaWorld chosen to renew its licensing agreement in late 2015.
  • Kingdom Hearts itself is entirely absent from Disneyland and Disneyworld. While Disney owns the rights to all Kingdom Hearts characters, they're still not included for a few reasons: a good number of people wouldn't know who the characters are, the few that do know probably wouldn't care, and Disney doesn't want to run afoul of any licensing issues that might come up with Square Enix. Sora could be seen in the parks back when the first game came out, but the costume left much to be desired. The Mitsukoshi store at Epcot's Japan pavilion carries some Kingdom Hearts merchandise, but that's about it.

    Video Games 
  • Similarly, characters that appeared in DIC Entertainment-produced cartoons based on video games, such as Oogtar and the cavemen, Scratch, Grounder, and Coconutsnote , Sally Acorn and the other Acorn characters, and even Captain N are believed to be banned from appearing in their video game source material due to messy rights issues with the characters (though in the case of Captain N, he wasn't created by Nintendo nor appears in any Nintendo video games whatsoever). This is possibly the reason why they don't appear or get referenced at all in the Super Smash Bros. series, and it also doesn't help that the characters often suffer from Snark Bait by fans. The only official game appearances the Acorn characters and Scratch, Grounder and Coconuts ever made were Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and Sonic Spinball, as both were essentially Merchandise-Driven fare for the TV shows and developed in the United States.
  • When Rare was working with Nintendo, originally they planned on making the Donkey Kong, Banjo-Kazooie, and Conker IPs take place in the same universe. This is most apparent with Diddy Kong Racing, where Diddy Kong, Banjo, and Conker appeared together, and the manual alluding to off-screen adventures explaining how they knew each other. However when Rare was bought out by Microsoft, they were forced to drop this idea, resulting the Donkey Kong games no longer referencing any other Rare series. This notably impacted the aforementioned Diddy Kong Racing; when it was remade for the Nintendo DS Banjo and Conker were replaced with Tiny Kong and Dixie Kong respectively, while the original N64 version never got a re-release.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Surprisingly, Square Enix was able to produce a HD remaster for the original game and retain Deep Jungle, which would be otherwise impossible without cutting the world out. And since some items relating to the controversial world have appeared in coded, it's possible that it's a sign saying that the trope could be averted one day.
    • Enforced in the games themselves to a certain degree; Disney has strict rules about how the franchises interact. This leads to both The Stations of the Canon (in that the plots of the levels loosely follow the movies they're based on) and an Alien Non-Interference Clause (in that the natives of each world can't be told about other worlds). The rule of thumb seems to be that if you're tied to a particular movie, you're Locked Out of the Loop, though some characters get a bit of leeway in this, including The Beast being a partner during Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts I, Cloud, Zack and Auron being plot-critical in the Colosseum stages in 1, Birth By Sleep, and 2, and the TRON level being Hollow Bastion's operating system in Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Want to see the characters that only appear in The Legend Of Zelda CDI Games appear in future games in the The Legend of Zelda series from Nintendo? Keep dreaming because it's highly unlikely that will happen. The games are property of Philips, not Nintendo, and the characters that were created strictly for the games (such as Gwonam from Link: The Faces of Evil and Duke Onkled from Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon) are Philips' property. Of course, the games themselves are considered nonexistent by Nintendo, so the chances of anything pertaining to the CD-i games appearing in Nintendo's official canon, even if the legal problems weren't in play, are slim.
    • Another casualty is King Harkinian, who appears in both the animated series and the CD-i games, but not in any of the Nintendo games. The legal status of said character is unknown since he's in a legal tangle with Philips, Nintendo, and DHX Media (successors to DIC Entertainment, the studio who made the animated series), so he is believed to be forbidden from appearing in any Zelda games.
    • Also affected by this is the Super Smash Bros. series, as none of the characters from the CD-i games or King Harkinian make any appearances in that series, nor are there any trophies, stickers or chronicles pertaining to either of them.
  • A complicated case in Puyo Puyo; after Compile's bankruptcy, SEGA owns the rights to Puyo Puyo and seemingly any character that has appeared in those games, but D4 Enterprise owns Madou Monogatari, Puyo Puyo's parent RPG series. This leads to the situation where SEGA can make Puyo Puyo games and use the characters Compile initially created for those games, but cannot directly reference Madou Monogatari. For example, the character Witch alludes to her grandmother Wish in the SEGA games, but never name drops her due to the copyright situation. Meanwhile D4 Enterprise basically holds the Madou Monogatari name and presumably the few exclusive characters from the games, but cannot use the characters from the Puyo Puyo franchise without negotiating with SEGA. SEGA has gotten around this by the use of soft reboots of the franchise, with Compile's characters being transported into other worlds via excuse plots, while D4 Enterprise and Compile Heart created thinly-veiled Expies of the Madou Monogatari characters in a parallel universe when making Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God.
  • Star Trek Online has this imposed on the game. Because Paramount owns the rights to the movies, they can't use anything from the J.J. Abrams films with the sole exception of mentioning what happened to Spock (as that happened in the Prime universe). To circumvent that, they've created a number of ships based on the Narada (they did originally identify them as Narada-class — presumably, the fact that technically the Narada was from the Prime Universe made it borderline legally allowable) and the U.S.S. Vengeance in theme, but not in look. As well, they also can't use the Kzinti and, as such, created the Suspiciously Similar Substitute Ferasan. The whole problem with the J.J. Abrams films was ultimately solved in time for the third expansion, Agents of Yesterday, which allowed players to hop into the "Kelvin Timeline", buddy up with the character 0718 and even get to fly that universe's Constitution-class. It was also ultimately revealed that Paramount had no problems with this — it was Bad Robot Cryptic had to deal with.
  • Star Wars:
    • Knights of the Old Republic was originally going to include Vima Sunrider from the Tales of the Jedi comic series as a companion character, but legal issues with other companies had since developed over the name "Sunrider" and so Bastila Shan, a new character, was created to replace her. Oddly enough, her mother Nomi Sunrider is still mentioned once in the first game, but the creators said it was an oversight.
    • BioWare ran into this again with Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Noeticon (a holocron recorded from several Jedi Masters) had an entry from Nomi Sunrider... but, the rights were an issue. So, they cleverly dodged it by having the character called Nomi Da-Boda, which used the name of a descendant seen in the comics, and was handwaved as being her maiden name.
    • And now that The Old Republic has been relegated to Star Wars Legends (and is the only part of that continuity still in production due to a Grandfather Clause), this makes a trifecta for BioWare.
  • Thanks to the complex status of Strider Hiryu, which requires the OK from both Capcom and manga studio Moto Kikaku to be used, he was beyond the grasp of U.S. Gold when they decided to create their own sequel to the original. Instead of bothering with that, they simply swapped the sprite's uniform white, named him "Hinjo" and called it a day. This was also the reason he was dropped from the roster in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Fortunately, thanks to all the fan support he received, Capcom decided to work things out and he was finally included in Ultimate.
  • Video games based on Tolkien's Legendarium have long faced similar restrictions from two opposite directions, because the licenses to adapt original literature works and Peter Jackson's movies were sold to separate studios. On one side were the games unable to use any of the designs, original lines or likeness of actors from the movies (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit (2003), The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings Online). On the other side were the games unable to include anything from the books that wasn't explicitly referenced on-screen in the movies (The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, The Battle for Middle-Earth). And of course nobody at all has the rights to The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, placing events and characters exclusive to those books permanently off-limits.
    • Eventually, some studios were able to obtain both licenses, allowing for the games The Battle for Middle-Earth II (and its expansion pack) and War in the North to combine the likeness of actors and design choices with various elements that were Adapted Out from the movies. The general consensus is that (quality of the gameplay notwithstanding) this allows for a much more coherent Middle-Earth experience.
    • Meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings Online is still going after seven years, but its license is limited to The Lord of the Rings and its Appendices only. Rumours are, even The Hobbit material canot be used if it wasn't explicitly mentioned in LOTR as well. This, among other things, prevented the developers from making a proper tie-in to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - players had to revisit Bilbo's path in the "present" days of the War of the Ring instead.

    Websites 
  • The official Marvel Universe Wiki has a policy forbidding the creation of articles whose content is licensed to Marvel or is no longer owned by Marvel. This means any article based off The Transformers, Tiny Toon Adventures, Hanna-Barbera or Marvel Star Wars comics are forbidden. This could be either due to the Wiki being focused on characters explicitly in the Marvel Universe and created by Marvel, or due to fears of legal issues from the parent companies or artists of said licensed material. This is not the case with Wikia's Marvel Comics Database, which is not owned by Marvel.
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    Western Animation 
  • When Disney bought the rights to Doug in 1995, this included all the merchandising rights for the show. As such, Nickelodeon is not allowed to use any of the Doug characters in '90s Nick-related merchandise (however, Nick still owns the broadcasting and video rights for the original version of the show). To make up for it, Disney released a few Doug t-shirts in the late 2000s around the time Nick started releasing their '90s Nick related merchandise at stores such as Hot Topic and Spencers, but haven't ever since (granted, it's very rare for Disney to release any merchandise based off of their older television shows, and when they do it's normally only shows from the first few years of The Disney Afternoon).
  • Don't expect to see Hasbro-co-owned Discovery Family airing the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon anytime soon since Disney holds the rights to the seriesnote . Despite popular belief, Hasbro isn't buying the cartoon from Disney, and they're not willing to do so.
  • Since the mid-2000s, Nickelodeon rarely acknowledges KaBlam! and leaves the show's characters out of all '90s Nick-related merchandise. This is due to Nickelodeon losing ownership of the show's one-shot shorts (mainly rejected Nicktoon pilots) which had their rights reverted back to their original creators, as well as the music rights for the music video segments (Nick still owns the show's "regular" segments, such as Life With Loopy and Prometheus and Bob). Thus making it difficult for Nick to ever air the show again or release it on DVD without having to make major edits to episodes to remove segments and music they can no longer use. As such, Nick tends to leave the show out of most of their promotional material, most likely as not to overpromote a series they legally can't do too much with anymore. While they finally began to acknowledge the series more around 2016, such as airing the show on NickSplat now and again, featuring fanart during breaks when the show does air, and showing a Loopy cosplayer's photo during Halloween 2016, the fact that they only have a very limited amount of episodes they can air without major edits makes the possibility of any merchandise extremely slim.
  • Lauren Faust ran into this problem during the creation of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Turns out Hasbro lost the rights to nearly all of the 1980's My Little Pony character names (save for Applejack, Spike, and a few ponies whose names were reused for G3), so most of the main cast of the current cartoon ended up being Suspiciously Similar Substitutes of the originals with the G3 ponies' names. This seems to have improved as Tirek and Scorpan appear in the series, as has The Smooze and Grogar.
  • For many years, there was an embargo of Wonder Woman-related characters due to an obscure clause in the licensing agreements that forbade their use in any project wherein they were not featured in a "starring" role. This has meant that the second Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, was initially not able to appear in DC's Young Justice. Prior to this, Donna had been barred from appearing in Teen Titans and Wonder Woman was the only Justice League cast member not to appear on Static Shock. The Wonder Woman (and, by extension, Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark) embargo was eventually cleared up. Since then, Wonder Woman has appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Cassie Sandsmark version of Wonder Girl joined Young Justice in Season 2 (though Donna did not but did eventually appear in Season 3), and Donna Troy was featured in the Super Best Friends Forever shorts.


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