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Absent Animal Companion

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One of the most sacred mantras among producers of syndicated television is "Status Quo Is God." While that may not make for the most compelling entertainment possible, there are legitimate reasons this is the case. When TV shows enter syndication and are licensed by new TV networks, they're usually just filling air time and there's no guarantee that they're going to be aired in any particular order, which would make watching any show with actual continuity difficult to impossible. So there is a place for shows where changes rarely stick...except, of course, during the requisite season-premiere shakeups.

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Some of the most common victims of the Status Quo Is God rule are pets. Many TV shows and cartoons will introduce a companion animal into the mix for an episode or so — whether newly adopted by the cast, or a pet owned by an established character — only to never show or mention it again. On rare occasions, there may be an explanation for the pet's absence, but more often than not, the pet simply disappears and is never seen nor mentioned again.

Asides the aforementioned syndication issue, there are other reasons why this happens. It may be an issue of conserving detail, and the pet simply isn't shown again because it isn't necessary for the current story. There's also the matter that whenever an animal appears on a TV show, trainers and/or representatives of animal-welfare organizations have to be present, which costs money and resources the production company may not want to spend long-term. There's also the fact that working with various animals has its own unique challenges, such as the fact that some animals simply don't live very long and others might not behave. So it's not altogether surprising that many studios don't want to deal with animals more than is necessary.

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A type of Plot Hole. Subtrope of What Happened to the Mouse?. Compare Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, which is when an established character suddenly disappears without being mentioned again. If a reason for the pet's disappearance is ever given, it's usually classifiable under Unsuccessful Pet Adoption or Put on a Bus. In extremely rare cases, the pet may be Killed Off for Real, either in dramatic or mundane fashion.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • During the Sinnoh arc of the Pokémon anime, Paul caught a Gliscor at the same time as Ash caught his Gligar. The implication was that Gliscor would become The Rival to Gligar, but Gliscor made only two further appearances (one of those being a cameo) before disappearing with no explanation.
  • In the original Tenchi Muyo! OVA, Sasami has a cute ferret-like pet in her first appearance. It is neither shown nor brought up again, likely because it was functionally replaced with Ryo-Ohki.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: The commander of Planet Gray has a pet dog named Laifu who serves a major role in one episode of Season 7 before disappearing afterwards.

    Comic Books 
  • Johan and Peewit: Peewit adops a vegetarian falcon named Romulus in "The Earl of Montresor" who then promptly vanishes.
  • Les Légendaires: Shimy's lion Lionfeu was initially meant the be the Team Pet but the author hated drawing him so he vanished after the second book.
  • Thorgal: Slive's pet wolf Sharn doesn't appear in her second and final appearance.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: While Jumpa's long absences are explained by the fact that Diana keeps her on Paradise Island, Diana also owns a horse named Serge who never appears again without explanation after Paula von Gunther's Heel–Face Turn. Jumpa shows up occasionally in later iterations, only to once again go missing without explanation as the comic continues.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Princess and the Frog: In Charlotte and Tiana's childhood, the former has a cat and dog. In the present, only the dog is seen. We're never shown an explanation for the cat, who may even be dead.
  • Pewku the giant crab vanishes before the climax of BIONICLE: Mask of Light mostly because the plot didn't require her to be there (she was used mostly as transportation) and the film's ending went through substantial rewrites which even excluded her from crowd scenes. Word of God claimed she was given to new owners afterward.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One scene in It's Pat! shows that Pat has a cat, Muffy, who is never seen or mentioned again after the one scene. This scene is done to once again trick the audience into thinking that the mystery of Pat's gender is revealed, as Chris says to Pat, "I love to stroke your pussycat", before we see the cat.
  • The opening battle of Gladiator features Maximus' pet wolfhound, who had a prominent role on the battlefield up to helping its master by biting an enemy soldier's arm. But after the battle is over, the wolfhound just dissappears.

    Literature 
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days:
    • Rodrick and Greg get a fish each. Greg's fish dies, but Rodrick's fish survives, yet still is never seen again.
    • Zigzagged with the pig the family receives in The Long Haul. It sticks around in the following two books, but it's absent from The Getaway. The Meltdown explains that the pig was upset over not being included on the vacation, and was then sent to obedience school, where it escaped. The pig isn't seen or mentioned after this book.
  • In the Harry Potter books, some of the main cast's pets—namely, Hermione's cat Crookshanks, Neville's toad Trevor, and Ron's owl Pigwidgeon— aren't mentioned in the final book, leaving their status ambiguous at the end of the series.
  • Mog: In "Goodbye, Mog", Mog appears to die and the Thomases get a kitten named Rumpus. In the next book, "Mog's Christmas Calamity", Mog gets an Unexplained Recovery and Rumpus is nowhere to be seen.
  • Musashi: When we first meet Sasaki Kojirō he has a pet monkey. The monkey then disappears, never to be seen again!
  • In the Tom Clancy novel Patriot Games, Jack got his daughter a Labrador named Ernie. It does not appear in any later book, though a comment in Red Rabbit, the next book in chronological (If not publication) order, implied that the dog stayed in America when the Ryan family moved to London for a year or so. No explanation is given for why they aren't reunited with the dog when they moved back to Annapolis.
  • Jaller in the BIONICLE books of the underwater Mahir Nui arc uses a Hahnah crab that saved his life to carry his gatling gun. The animal was even included with Jaller's toy. When he and his team get teleported back to dry land by Matoro, the Hahnah is absent and not brought up again. The writer explained that Matoro just wanted to save his friends and didn't care for the animal, which so remained in the sea. At least Jaller got to keep his gun.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Amy Farrah Fowler has a smoking pet monkey in one episode of The Big Bang Theory that is never mentioned again after that episode. Fowler is actually forced by her academic superiors to relinquish the monkeys she keeps at home. Not because of the smoking or the unauthorised taking her work home with her, but for "unprofessional behaviour": when monkeys crazed by nicotine deprivation started flinging excrement at her in protest, she threw it right back.
  • The Brady Bunch:
    • In the first episode, the girls have a cat, who is never seen or mentioned again after the first episode. This despite the cat's inability to get along with the boys' dog Tiger is used as an analogy for the kids learning to get along with their new step-siblings.
    • As for Tiger himself, he stuck around for a couple of seasons before vanishing without explanation. Even stranger, the final episode he appeared in was A Day in the Limelight where the plot involves the kids devastated that they have to get rid of their pet because Bobby is allergic to him, only for a happy ending when it turns out he was allergic to something else. The reason for this was that, the day the episode was supposed to start filming, the animal handler discovered to his horror that Tiger had somehow escaped his kennel, ran out onto the freeway, and met a gruesome end. He ended up finding a lookalike at a pet store but since the dog wasn't trained the truth came out when they tried to shoot the scene where the kids say goodbye and the dog wasn't cooperating. They managed to get enough footage out of the dog to finish the episode but that was the last we saw of Tiger, ironically in an episode where he doesn't leave the Brady family.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • In Season 3, Rosa adopts Arlo as a Replacement Goldfish for Charles's dead dog Jason. Charles is understandably upset by Rosa's heartlessness, so Rosa adopts Arlo instead. Despite her declaration of love for him at the end of the episode, he's never seen or mentioned again, even at the end of Season 4 when Rosa is sending off all of her belongings so that she can flee to Argentina.
      Rosa: I didn't understand why people cared so much about their dumb dogs. Until I had a dumb dog myself. I've only had Arlo for a day and a half, and if anything happened to him, I would kill everyone in this room and then myself.
    • Jason himself only appears (alive) in one episode, when Jake is forced to wash Jason as payback for his debt to Charles. Likewise, Charles's other dogs only appear in "Payback" being washed by Jake.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Tara got a kitten, who was only seen in three episodes. An off-hand comment much later on suggests that this kitten was killed off-screen by an accident. It's not explicitly confirmed that the cat is dead, though, and the wording could be interpreted a number of ways.
    Dawn: I told you, I don't leave crossbows around all willy-nilly...not since that time with Miss Kitty Fantastico.
  • On Charmed (1998) the sisters had a cat named Kit, but after the first season or so the studio no longer had the animal. They covered with green screens and stock footage, but eventually stopped. Years later Kit returns as a human, having been rewarded for her work as the sisters' familiar.
  • Mike's dog Bongo in Desperate Housewives is never seen again after season 2.
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert's pet bulldog Chamsky has a whole episode devoted to him explaining how he arrived and how he cost Ray nearly two thousand dollars. After this big build-up Chamsky the bulldog appears in maybe two more episodes and then nothing more is seen or heard.
  • In The Flash, H.R gives a pet turtle called "McSnurtle the Turtle" to Barry and Iris as a house warming gift. It only appears in "Borrowing Problems from the Future" and is never mentioned again.
  • In Friends, the chick and the duck serve as Chandler and Joey's pets for several seasons before disappearing without explanation. In the Grand Finale, it's mentioned that they died of natural causes and everyone in group lied to Joey that they were sent to live on a farm.
  • Full House:
    • In one episode, DJ and Kimmy decide to buy a horse, which is sold cheap but its daily food is expensive. At the end, Becky decides to keep the horse somewhere for them, and the horse is never mentioned again.
    • After it saves his life in "The Return Of Grandma", Jesse adopts a turtle and names it Bubba. Bubba never appears again.
  • Happy Days: In "Two Angry Men", Fonzie has several pigeons as pets, but we never see them in future episodes.
  • House of Anubis: Though kept slightly longer than one episode, the cat Amber found and adopted in the first season vanished following the short arc where they assumed Victor stole it, killed it, and stuffed it. Though this led to Trudy being fired by Victor, the cat itself was never seen or mentioned again.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, for the first two seasons Robin keeps five dogs in her apartment and they appear in several episodes. However, she ends up sending them to live on a farm with her aunt and they are never seen again. The real reason for this was that Josh Radnor had dog allergies.
  • One episode of I Love Lucy shows that Ethel and Fred have a dog. It never appears again.
  • In The Odd Couple (1970) TV series episode "The Subway Story", Felix brings home a puppy for Oscar called Yawbus ("subway" spelled backwards). He's never mentioned again. Earlier, Felix's parrot Albert contracted Chuck Cunningham Syndrome after an episode in which he "died."
  • Odd Squad: Ms. O gets a dog named Woops in the episode Puppet Show. He helps out in that one episode, and never appears again.
  • In one episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse, a puppy shows up in the playhouse. It ends up belonging to Reba, who says that she'll bring it over to the playhouse to visit. And yet she never does.
  • Among the Early Installment Weirdness in Seinfeld's pilot episode was the fact that Kramer (or "Kessler") apparently had a dog—called "Ralph" in the script—who dropped into Jerry's apartment with the same abandon as his owner.
  • The Byers family has a dog named Chester in the first season of Stranger Things that is never seen or mentioned in later seasons. The actor who plays Will Byers says Chester died between the first and second seasons.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Chief O'Brien shows Reg Barclay his pet tarantula Christina in the episode "Realm of Fear", who he got after ditching his fear of spiders. The spider is never seen in other episodes.
  • Victorious: When the two break up, Jade buys Beck a dog so he will take her back. The dog ends up attacking Beck's dad. The dog doesn't appear in any other episodes, with no explanation. Presumably Beck didn't want to keep it after it attacked his dad.
  • Warehouse 13: In the first episode, Myka is given a ferret by an artifact that grants wishes when she wishes for something impossible (which is apparently its default consolation prize for such wishes). It's only mentioned once or twice in passing thereafter, with the exception of a single episode a couple seasons later when they need a cover story to visit a local vet...during which we only see the pet carrier.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Early in season one, the kids adopt a dragon in disguise as a dog, fittingly named "Dragon". Throughout the episode, they were struggling to keep Dragon's true species from their parents and, later, take him back from the con-artist who sold him to them and then stole him back. After this episode, their parents knew he was a dragon and they were prepared to keep him. However, he never showed up again, and his disappearance was questioned by Max in a much later episode.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "And the Winner Is...", during a live-by-satellite interview with Earl, Earl reveals that the family now has a dog (in response to Roy's advice that for every question he's unsure of, just say something about children or puppies). It's an especially surprising case since it's the one time an actual dog was used (as opposed to having cave people acting like dogs). Needless to say, this was a one-time gag and the dog never appeared again.
  • Sesame Street:
    • In one segment, Ernie brings home a puppy for himself and Bert. The sketch ends with them having trouble coming up with names for the dog...maybe that's why they didn't keep it.
    • In one book, Ernie and Bert get a cat named Bernie. Bernie is never seen on the show.

    Web Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Summertime Shorts introduces a new pet for Sunset Shimmer in "Pet Project", a leopard gecko she names Ray. Ray never appears in any of the following shorts nor the subsequent Digital Series, mostly because the shorts were made by a different animation studio, Boulder Media Inc., instead of main studio DHX Media, who never got any assets for Ray.

    Webcomics 
  • Subverted and Lampshaded. In one Dinosaur Comics comic, T-Rex gets a dog that he names The Angriest Dog In The World. This dog is brought up again only a handful of times in the proceeding thousands of pages, usually with a Lampshade Hanging about how rarely he shows up.
  • Parodied in The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius has a raven Familiar, but like many D&D characters, kind of forgets that he exists most of the time. As a result, "Blackwing" (named by Hayley, since Vaarsuvius didn't bother) would literally pop into existence when mentioned or needed, but otherwise was nowhere to be found. Vaarsuvius eventually starts treating him better as part of his/her Character Development, which means that he's around permanently.
  • Averted in Something*Positive: Word of God says that the original plan was that Davan would (reluctantly) adopt Choo-Choo Bear, who would then disappear for years until a dark Brick Joke where they discover his corpse behind the sofa or something. Perhaps due to his popularity, he's remained a part of the cast, even though he should be pushing forty by now.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In the first season episode "The Date", Gumball discovers Penny has a pet tarantula named Mr. Cuddles. Despite numerous scenes in the Fitzgerald household, Mr. Cuddles is only seen once more in a montage of objects and animals in "The World".
    • Downplayed by the evil turtle the Wattersons adopt in "The Puppy". It makes two minor appearance after that, but then gets another major role in "The Nest" that writes it out of the series (then makes another minor appearance that's apparently from an old recording made previously).
  • Animaniacs: A Running Gag is Dot keeping a monster in a box as a pet, but she has a different pet each time.
  • Arthur: In "So Long, Spanky", D.W. has a pet bird named Spanky, who is never seen prior to this episode. And he never appears again, because he dies in this episode. D.W. then adopts a frog she names Toady, and it seems like Toady will stick around, but her next appearance is six seasons later (where it's revealed that she has since run away).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • During the show's development, Zuko originally had a pet hawk, but it was removed because the creators thought a pet would detract from Zuko's belligerent attitude.
    • In the episode "The Runaway", Sokka gets a pet messenger hawk. The episode ends with him sending it to take a message to Toph's parents, and it is never seen again.
  • Biker Mice from Mars: In the 2006 episode "Biker Mice Down Under" Stoker takes a bat, who he names Einstein, on as a companion. He's never seen again after that.
  • Extreme Dinosaurs: Early in the series, the dinosaurs obtained a baby ostrich that they named Ditto. Ditto made several sporadic appearances before disappearing entirely and never being mentioned again.
  • Gravity Falls: Mabel adopts the lobster she was supposed to eat at a restaurant in "The Hand That Rocks the Mabel" and drops it in the aquarium at the Mystery Shack. It never shows up again and the tank appears empty afterward.
  • Invader Zim has a variant: in one of his possibly-prerecorded messages to his children, Professor Membrane reminds them to feed the dog. This reminds the pair that hey, they used to have a dog, didn't they? and they take a minute to look around in confusion. The viewers, however, never heard of it before.
  • In the King of the Hill episode “Pretty, Pretty Dresses” Bill at one point buys an iguana he names Lenore after his ex-wife to try to help cope with his loneliness, it gets spooked by Ladybird, the Hill’s bloodhound and runs away, later on Hank finds it and returns it to Bill, the rest of the episode deals with Bill losing his mind and starts wearing his ex-wife’s clothes she left behind, believing himself to be her, the iguana is never seen again after that scene and for the rest of the series.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "The Price of Admission", Lana is seen with a monkey and a pig as well as her usual pets (a frog, snake, rat, and lizard). The monkey and pig are never seen again.
    • In "Mall of Duty", Lola, Lisa, and Lucy adopt a duckling each, but the ducklings are never seen again.
    • In "Missed Connection", Lana has a female snake, who has babies. In "Friends in Dry Places", she has a different female snake, who also has babies. Neither of these female snakes, nor their babies, are ever seen again.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The early episode "A Bird in the Hoof" introduces Philomena, Princess Celestia's pet phoenix. Philomena plays a major role in the episode, which establishes her as Princess Celestia's longtime and immortal pet, but she is never seen nor mentioned again for the rest of the series, with no explanation given for her absence.
    • In Dragon Quest, Spike ends up with a Phoenix egg, and it hatches into a baby Phoenix at the end of the episode, who Spike names Peewee. We didn't see him again until Just for Sidekicks, where we see through pictures that Spike tried to raise him, but ended up taking him back to his original parents.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: Baby Teeth, the Bodega's mascot/pet dinosaur, was intended to be a regular fixture of the Bodega, but disappeared after her introductory episode. Subverted at the last minute, however, as she made an appearance in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In the episode "Pet Feud", Professor Utonium creates the perfect pet named Beebo. Beebo is the main focus of the episode, and at the end of the story all inhabitants of Townsville get one, but they are never seen or even mentioned again afterwards.
  • Rugrats:
    • In "Bestest of Show", Susie is shown to have a pet gerbil named Herbie, who can ride a tricycle. Herbie is never mentioned or seen after this episode.
    • In the episode "I Remember Melville", Chuckie gets a pet pill bug named Melville, who suddenly dies when Chuckie asks Tommy, Phil, and Lil to look after him. Chuckie is upset over having lost Melville, and the babies throw a funeral for him near the end of the episode. Although "I Remember Melville" is Melville's only appearance, Chuckie does reference him in a later episode.
    • In the episode "The Smell of Success", Chuckie gets to keep a rat named Cheddar but he's not seen in future episodes.
  • SheZow: In the episode "Maz Junior", She Zow and Maz rescue a rare lizard from a greedy millionaire, Maz adopts it and names it Maz Junior. Who is never seen again.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds", the Simpsons get a new dog, She's the Fastest, and she and Santa's Little Helper give birth to puppies. While the Simpsons decide that it's best to give the puppies away and Mr. Burns ends up stealing them, they never mention anything about needing to get rid of She's the Fastest, yet she isn't seen or mentioned again after that episode. We never see Mr. Burns with the puppies again, although they're presumably all still running at various race tracks.
    • Lisa gets a guinea pig in another episode, which serves only as a Lead In for the main plot, and is not mentioned again after the episode is over.
    • Krusty adopts a greyhound-poodle hybrid puppy from the Simpson family in "Today I Am a Clown." While taking it for a walk, he realizes that his name isn't on the Jewish walk of fame, starting the main plot of the episode. Krusty's dog isn't seen again for the remainder of the episode or the series.
    • Santa's Little Helper's mother, She-Biscuit, is adopted by the Simpsons at the end of "The Way of the Dog", the finale of the 31st season. She isn't in the following season, however.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Buster", after Sticks shakes a kitten out of a tree, Amy decides to get Sticks a pet to teach her the responsibilities of animal care. When Sonic takes Sticks to the pet store, Sticks finds every pet there too cute, fuzzy, and adorable for her tastes. She then finds a disgusting robot dog that spits slime in a trash can and names him "Buster". Buster quickly annoys Sticks' friends, and it is later revealed that Buster was created by Dr. Eggman. When Buster transforms into a monster and attacks Sticks' friends, Sticks disciplines him to get him back to his normal self. At the end of the episode, Sticks lets Buster go, having found out he's an evil robot unfit to keep as a pet. Buster has not been seen or referenced since.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The episode "Wormy" has Sandy with several pets, including the titular Wormy, a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. However, later episodes don't show Sandy with any pets.
    • Squidward gets a pet racing snail named Snellie in "The Great Snail Race". Once the episode is over, Snellie is never seen again. After this episode, "Sanctuary!" and "A Place for Pets" show that Squidward is allergic to pets (especially multiple snails), explaining why Snellie isn't seen anymore.
  • In the fourth season of Steven Universe, Steven turns a pumpkin into a doglike companion for Lapis Lazuli and Peridot that is seen variously through the next two seasons. However, by Steven Universe: The Movie Pumpkin is conspicuously absent without explanation. One of the show's crew implied she died of old age during the Time Skip. However, the very last scene of Steven Universe shows several similar gourds, one of which looks like a baby version of Pumpkin.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): "The Gauntlet" introduces Hachiko, a dog owned by the Foot Clan whose only purpose appears to be playing an indirect part in turning Bradford into Dogpound. Hachiko is then never seen or even mentioned again for the rest of the series.

Alternative Title(s): What Happened To The Pet

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