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Bus Crash

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And to top it off, he had only just retired.

Poochie: I have to go now. My planet needs me.
[screen displays "Note: Poochie died on the way back to his home planet."]

When Bob is Put on a Bus, that means he's being written out of the show in such a way that he could logically return. Audiences have come to expect that the bus will come back someday with Bob on it, even if it's only for the last arc or episode, or even a quick cameo or Easter Egg. So one of the cruelest subversions of that expectation is for the writers to show us the bus bringing Bob back again and then wreck it just as it comes into view. That is, they mention Bob only to show us that he's not coming back. A bridge fell on him while he was off-screen. Or, as M*A*S*H once employed to great effect, we learn of Bob's death within minutes of receiving the news that he went away. This is doubly shocking in situations where the main plot is a dangerous place and getting on the "bus" means escape and safety.

This is manipulative on many levels. It allows an angry writer to kill a character from beyond the grave, as it were, and after the "real" reason for the actor's departure has faded from public memory — thus avoiding appearing as mean-spirited as a typical case of Actor Leaves, Character Dies. It allows the writer to do a Tonight, Someone Dies without sacrificing a current cast member. It allows him to get the requisite ratings boost from bringing back departed characters without actually bringing them back, and it triggers a much more convincing It's Personal episode as our heroes avenge one of their own.

Contrast Character Outlives Actor (where it's the actor who dies, but the character is kept alive off-screen), The Character Died with Him (where the character dies because the actor has) and Back for the Dead (where the character returns just long enough to be killed off). In Distracted from Death, a character will die offscreen, but only because the action was focused on another character who needs a few minutes to notice what's happened.

Sometimes, when a character is put on the bus and the actor later dies, the character is stated to have died (typically the same way the actor did) out of respect for the actor. However, since there's obviously no planning for this, existing scripts must be (minimally) tweaked to work it in, so it tends to be less of a heartfelt tribute and more of a bizarre "I got bread, I got eggs, Don got hit by a train, and I got milk." "That sucks. Anyway, about that Zany Scheme on Friday..." scenario, after which Don is never mentioned again. Don't expect to find these moments listed under Heartwarming Moments.

Note: this trope is not for when a bus actually crashes onscreen; those go under Surprise Car Crash.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mamoru Chiba in Sailor Moon was last seen in the seventh episode of the Sailor Stars season boarding a plane to the United States. His fate was uncertain all the way until the Grand Finale, when it was revealed in a flashback that Galaxia had killed him after intercepting the plane he was on during that very episode. By that point, though, most of the main characters were already dead, and Mamoru got his Reset Button treatment along with the others.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) it's stated that Tim Marcoh was killed by Gluttony relatively late in the series. And by "relatively late in the series", we mean toward the end of the penultimate episode. His death is heavily implied the last time we see him, however, as Gluttony asks for permission to eat him just before the cutaway.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Yusuke forcibly enlists the help of Murota, a Muggle who gained a Territory power as a side effect of Sensui's actions. He disappears after the fight with Dr. Kamiya, and no one gives this a second thought... until the gang comes up against Gourmet, and he starts using Murota's unique ability. Gourmet's Territory is completely within his stomach, and he gets to steal the powers of anyone he eats.
    • Subverted with Gourmet himself. Gourmet eats Elder Toguro very early in the arc, and then doesn't appear again until Sensui kidnaps Kuwabara. When Kurama decapitates Gourmet for eating Murota (and because he's still pissed that Sensui forced him to kill a little kid), you find out that the nigh-immortal Toguro has actually taken over Gourmet and, for all intents and purposes, already killed him. He's also notably the only one of Sensui's Seven (other than the boss himself) not to be revived or given the chance to pull a Heel–Face Turn after the arc's completion.
  • A rare example of this happening onscreen was Franco and Flanca in Gunslinger Girl (though you don't find this out until much later, when Cristiano breaks the news).
  • Maria and Mamoru in From the New World. Mamoru believed that he was going be killed by their Social Darwinist elders, so Maria accompanied him to leave the village. After they had a child, they were killed by Yakomaru. A double-subversion of sorts: Yakomaru told Saki he would fake their deaths to make the adults stop hunting them, but it eventually comes out that the skeletons the adults recovered were examined to the genetic level and undoubtedly genuine, so he must have killed them.
  • Jude Heartfilia from Fairy Tail is introduced as Lucy's neglectful and Well-Intentioned Extremist father early in the series, but is put on a bus when she disowns him for inadvertently causing the guild war between Fairy Tail and Phantom Lord. Later, he comes back in an attempt to make up to her, and he sort of manages. Cue putting him on a bus again. Much later (seven years in-universe and more than 100 chapters), Lucy herself realizes that he wasn't that bad and she wants him to pay him a visit. She finds out from his workplace that he just died...
  • In One Piece, Absalom was one of the villains in the Thriller Bark arc, who kidnapped Nami to make her his bride before getting the crap kicked out of him by Sanji. Although he didn't make further appearances in the flesh, he's been offhandedly mentioned a couple times, until the Wano arc revealed that the Blackbeard Pirates captured and killed him to get his Devil Fruit.
  • Crossed with Chuck Cunningham Syndrome for Yu-Gi-Oh! and Miho Nosaka. Miho was once one of Yugi's friends at school in the manga and was a major character in the Toei anime, but in the NAS anime she is never heard from once, that is until Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, when it's revealed she was one of Trueman's victims and was sent to the World of Darkness.

    Comic Books 
  • In Convergence, many characters returning from the other DC eras will not survive the event. The Justice Riders are killed at the beginning of the Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle series.
  • In Time Runs Out Marvel Comics is cramming various elements of their main universes together to create a streamlined, merged setting. As they state outright they are taking many pieces off the board and sticking the remainder in a larger world, many characters and both the Ultimate and -616 universes will be Bus Crashed or Killed Off for Real, solely depending on if they show it "onscreen" or not.
  • In Legends, when "Justice League Detroit" was Put on a Bus following their failure to take down Brimstone, most of the members of that team either retired from active duty or were killed off by Professor Ivo's robotic copies, with only J'onn J'onnz returning to the main mini-series to help what would become the new Justice League take down Glorious Godfrey and his Warhound minions.
  • Marvel Mystery Comics had this right out of the gate. The Human Torch story in issue #1 introduced Professor Horton and his creation The Human Torch. At the end of the story The Torch is tired of everyone, including the professor, of using him for their own personal gain. As a result, he escapes Professor Horton's lab by burning a hole through the roof, leaving the professor behind staring in shock at what happened. The Human Torch story in issue #2 starts with recap of the events in the first story with the addition of us being told that Professor Horton was now dead, though apparently he still had the presence of mind to type up his experience while his house burned down around him. Though he would later be revived (briefly) in the 1970s, this would be his only living appearance during the Golden Age Timely/Atlas era.
  • X-Men: Blue revealed that Miles Morales and The Maker weren't the only survivors of the destruction of the Ultimate Marvel universe—Jimmy Hudson, Guardian, and Mach II, and the Ultimate versions of Quicksilver and Armor did, too. However, the Ultimate versions of Storm, Rogue, and Iceman did as well — only for Miss Sinister to get them and kill them.
  • Doom Patrol:
    • During John Arcudi's run, Dorothy Spinner was revealed to be in a coma since the events of Rachel Pollack's run. When Robotman learned of her condition, he decided that it would be better for her if he pulled the plug, and thus she died.
    • Ted Bruder/Fast Forward winds up in a coma during his comeback in Keith Giffen's run. The possibility of his recovery is brought up, but it is later confirmed he died when he appears among the ghosts of deceased Doom Patrol members haunting Robotman in DC's Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun.
  • Robin (1993): Tim's martial arts instructor the Rahul Lama dies of old age off panel between Tim's visits to Paris, in a very mellow and peaceful death for a martial arts master in the DCU.
  • In one issue of Fantastic Four, the team meets up with the former pilots of the team the Shogun Warriors, who piloted Marvel Universe versions of the super robots Combattler V, Raideen and Planet Robo Danguard Ace. While the pilots lived, it was revealed their robots were destroyed prior to their reappearance by a fourth Shogun Warrior, an unfinished unit called the "Samurai Destroyer." This was likely for legal reasons, as Shogun Warriors was a licensed comic based on a toy line featuring imported Japanese anime robots. When Mattel cancelled the line and eventually lost the various licenses, Marvel was able to keep the human pilots (who were created exclusively for the American comics and did not originate in the Japanese cartoons), but had to get rid of the robots.
  • In Superman storyline The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor, when Linda Danvers meets up with Lena, her friend mentions her husband Jeffrey Colby -who had not appeared on panel in years- has passed away.
  • During the period where Jane Foster was generally Out of Focus in The Mighty Thor, she dated and married her new partner Dr. Keith Kincaid (only to eventually divorce him), and had a son with him named Jimmy. When Jason Aaron brought Jane back during his run on Thor, her family status wasn't addressed until a flashback in issue #704, where it was revealed that Keith and Jimmy both died in a car accident.
  • In Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, Mothra was badly injured helping Godzilla defeat Destroya and retreats to Infant Island to heal. Many issues later, it's revealed that Mothra was killed offscreen by Battra.
  • In the first issue of the Mega Man: Fully Charged comic, Breaker Knight is revealed to have been killed by Skull Man before events of the comic.

    Comic Strips 
  • Gasoline Alley, unlike many other long-running comic strips, had its characters get older as time went on, mostly averting Comic-Book Time. And while Walt Wallet and Phyllis lived to be over a hundred before Phyllis finally passed away, it was considered not credible for their friends from the early days to have the same sort of longevity. So Walt's friends Doc, Avery, and Bill were phased out of the strip, and it was later said that Doc and Avery had died off-screen.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • A literal example happens with Doc Hudson prior to the events of Cars 2, due to Lightning McQueen recently winning the "Hudson Hornet Memorial Piston Cup."note 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Expendables has Bruce Willis character Mr. Church killed off by the third film. Harrison Ford mentions a line to Barney Ross that "Mr. Church is out of the picture." This is due to Bruce Willis having a salary dispute with the film's producers.
  • Star Trek has had a few bus crashes:
    • Marla McGivers, Khan's lover from "Space Seed", was killed offscreen by the Ceti Eels in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While she appears in earlier drafts of the movie, her role progressively dwindled further into the writing process until director Nicholas Meyer decided to kill her off to give Khan a stronger motivation for his revenge (not because of actress Madlyn Rhue’s multiple sclerosis, as popularly believed). Rather than simply wanting revenge on Kirk because "You defeated me," it now becomes "You killed my wife."
    • And rather more infamously, Picard's brother and his family are burned to death offscreen at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations, just so Picard can be properly tempted by the Nexus. Goodbye to that optimistic episode ending about his nephew hoping to join Starfleet!
    • One of the major fan complaints about Star Trek (2009) was the implication that the time-travel shenanigans in that film had done this to the entire original timeline (with Spock Prime being the only survivor). The Star Trek Relaunch series of novels shows that the Prime continuity still "exists" as a separate timeline. Because time travel is funny like that.
      • There are clues in the movies to this effect, Scotty's exile posting being due to a transporter experiment causing Admiral Archer's dog Porthos the Fourth to be beaming... somewhere. Scotty says he'll be fine when he eventually rematerializes. (The novel of the movie has this happen on the Enterprise bridge in the epilogue.) On the face of that alone, it's clear the reboot is happening in the near-parallel timeline established in Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • Spock Prime finally does die between Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, with young Spock learning the news from envoys of New Vulcan, which prompts him to consider dropping out of Starfleet. This bus crash was necessitated by Leonard Nimoy's death the year before; this is the first Star Trek film/episode featuring Spock to not have Nimoy in it.
  • Sean Connery didn't want to reprise his role as Henry Jones Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so he was written out as having passed away of natural causes. However, the character in question would have been very old anyway, and the touching moment to show this piece of information seems to indicate that there wasn't any bad blood there. It kept nicely with the theme of passing generations as well, and with their needing to write out Indy's other older-boss figure, Marcus Brody (played by the late Denholm Elliott), who had been Henry Jones Sr's friend.
  • Dawn Wiener, the protagonist of Todd Solodz's Welcome to the Dollhouse, is reported to have died (under bizarre, tragic circumstances) in the opening moments of the semi-sequel Palindromes.
  • According to Word of God, most of the Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger have died of natural causes by the time The Avengers takes place (although this is hardly unexpected, due to the huge time gap). To drive this home, an alternate opening for Captain America: The Winter Soldier would have shown Steve reading a newspaper headline about Dum Dum Dugan having passed away.
  • Vin Diesel's character in xXx is supposed to have died between the original film and the sequel xXx: State of the Union. There's even a deleted scene where he is killed off. Vin Diesel likes to tell everyone that He's Just Hiding. This is subverted when the third film came out in 2016, where Diesel's character is revealed to be alive, confirming Diesel's He's Just Hiding theory.
  • Ace Ventura Jr establishes that the titular character is the son of Melissa and Ace... and that Ace Sr. vanished in the Bermuda Triangle while trying to save a flock of Canadian geese.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
    • Mystique discovers partway through the film that Angel Salvadore, Azazel, Emma Frost, and Banshee (Sean Cassidy) all died (and their bodies were used in experiments by Trask) during the Time Skip between X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past.
    • The tie-in website reveals that Angel (Warren Worthington) and Beast from X-Men: The Last Stand were killed between X-Men: The Last Stand and the Bad Future of this film's opening.
    • When the younger Beast asks, Wolverine admits that Beast died at some point in the Bad Future.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • At the end of Jurassic Park III, a trio of Pteranodon are shown having escaped the Aviary and flying into the sunset. The Viral Marketing website for Jurassic World reveals that they were killed over Canada that same year (2001) by Vic Hoskins, whose skill and professionalism during the incident convinced Simon Masrani to hire him as head of security for the new park on Isla Nublar.
    • The Spinosaurus from III is never actually killed. As with the Pteranodon, it's said to be put down offscreen. Its skeleton was preserved and can be seen in several shots of the Jurassic World park.
    • On a similar note, the sick Triceratops from the first movie. She's still sick the last time we see her. According to promotional material for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, she died sometime afterwards, and her body was eaten by Rexy.
    • John Hammond has been dead for years by the time Jurassic World starts. The last we saw him in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, he is clearly ill and bedridden, so it's somewhat of a Foregone Conclusion that he is dead 18 years later. Richard Attenborough was still alive during filming but had been retired for several years. He passed away a few weeks after filming wrapped up.
  • Tom Hagen dies between The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III, as Robert Duvall demanded too much money to return as Tom for the third film.
  • The Viral Marketing for Independence Day: Resurgence reveals that in the two decades since the War of 1996, Will Smith's Captain Hiller got promoted to Colonel, and died testing a jet/alien fighter hybrid. The movie shows that Constance Spano has also died.
  • In the course of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, we learn that Gekko's son has died of a drug overdose during the nearly quarter-century since the original film. His mother was apparently so distraught by this she eventually had to be committed to a mental hospital; it's implied she may have passed on as well.
  • Transformers: The Last Knight introduces a new character named Vivian Wembley, who is stated to be the last surviving member of the Witwiccan line. This implies that Sam Witwicky from the first three movies (as well as his dad) died or started Faking the Dead some time after Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
  • Word of God is that Lady Sif, Betty Ross, the actor playing Loki in the play shown in Thor: Ragnarok, and the guy playing Galaga in The Avengers (2012) were among those Thanos killed when he wiped out half the universe in Avengers: Infinity War. Jane Foster, last seen in Thor: The Dark World and Thaddeus Ross were also confirmed to have died off screen from the snap before their deaths were undone by Hulk in Avengers: Endgame. Of those, all but Betty and the guy playing Galaga later returned in future MCU instalments.
  • Final Destination:
    • Alex Browning is mentioned to have died offscreen in Final Destination 2, being crushed by falling debris. He was supposed to appear, but the filmmakers ended up in a pay dispute with Devon Sawa, so they decided to just kill him off.
    • A deleted scene in Final Destination 3 shows a newspaper reporting the deaths of Kimberly Coleman and Officer Thomas Burke in a woodchipper accident. Again, they were supposed to appear, meeting Wendy Christensen at the train. Since the theatrical cut excises this, this means that, canonically, they are the only people on Death's List who have genuinely cheated death.
  • Scream 4: It's stated that Sidney Prescott's father, Neil, died of natural causes in the Time Skip between the film and Scream 3.
  • In the climax of Underworld: Blood Wars, Selene learns that her lover, Michael Corvin, was killed by Marius sometime before the film begins. Note that Michael has been a mostly non-entity since Awakening, with Fake Shemp being used as Scott Speedman couldn't return.
  • Subverted in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Ethan Hunt's wife, Julia Meade, is stated to have been killed during a holiday, seemingly undoing their happy ending from the previous film. However, it turns out that Ethan merely faked her death then sent her to go into hiding. Julia is very much alive and even cameos in the ending.
  • The 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans ends with Io being resurrected and living together with Perseus. The sequel, Wrath of the Titans, opens with Perseus visiting her grave, alongside their son, Heleus. This conveniently allows Perseus to end up with Andromeda, who is his canonical lover in the original myths.
  • To explain why Jamie Lee Curtis (by that point a Hollywood A-lister) didn't reprise her role as Laurie Strode in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, the film revealed that Laurie had died in an accident a year before the events of the movie, with her daughter Jamie Lloyd, now being raised by the family of a girl who Laurie once babysat, serving as the film's main connection to the Strode family saga. (Laurie did eventually come back to the series, but in an Alternate Timeline.)
  • Clerks III: Becky Scott is revealed to have been killed by a drunk driver shortly after the events of Clerks II, along with her and Dante's unborn daughter.
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had T'Challa passing away offscreen in the beginning of the film due to a disease. This is because of Chadwick Boseman's untimely passing to cancer in 2020 and Ryan Coolger feeling wrong recasting such an iconic role.

  • In Aeon 14, the Victoria colony that the Intrepid crew builds in Building Victoria ends up being glassed offscreen by vengeful Sirians during the FTL Wars, centuries after Intrepid leaves (but only days for the Intrepid due to a Year Outside, Hour Inside scenario). The same happened to much of the Sol system that they had originally launched from, including Tanis's birthplace on Mars (buried under a fallen docking ring).
  • An in-universe example when a character in After (2003) disappears and is assumed by the other students to have been suspended, but later an announcement is made about her tragic death.
  • Implied to have happened to Drumon, a senior Techmarine from the Ciaphas Cain series. He's mentioned in The Greater Good to have volunteered to stay behind on the space hulk Spawn of Damnation as it reentered the Warp, and given that Hyperspace Is a Scary Place, it's unsurprising that he is nowhere to be seen when his Astartes chapter the Reclaimers reappears in that book.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, one of the Eighth Doctor's main expanded universe continuities involved this trope. Former companion Sam Jones is revealed, in the very last of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, (which is to say, the 73rd, or, continuity-wise, the 75th), to have died in her twenties. Fitz is terribly upset, but the Doctor, having Trauma-Induced Amnesia, doesn't remember and therefore shows no response whatsoever, not even to his best friend's distress. Fitz gets absolutely furious (and he's usually rather slow to anger).
  • In the Cal Leandros book Doubletake, readers find out via flashback from Grimm that he killed Georgia awhile back. However, she did some Mind Manipulation on him to make sure he never told Cal what he did, and it seems somewhat implied that maybe things didn't end as Grimm thinks they did.
  • Yukari in Qualia the Purple. About 6 months after leaving Hatou's school for JAUNT, she's Killed Offscreen.
  • In GONE, and its four sequels (with a fifth and final sequel on April 2013), fans were excited when Mary Terrafino was revealed to be coming back in FEAR after a whole book of absence. She's present in one scene. Dead.
  • Igor Karkaroff in Harry Potter goes into hiding at the end of the fourth book and is mentioned to have been killed a few chapters into the sixth book. Of course, Voldemort's words at the end of the fourth book very heavily foreshadowed this, as he made it clear Karkaroff's days were numbered.
  • In the Jurassic Park franchise, Gennaro, who survives in the novel but dies in the film, is mentioned as having died from medical causes in the sequel novel, The Lost World (1995), neatly bringing the novels and films somewhat more in line.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Glóin the Dwarf tells the Council of Elrond that Balin, Óin, and Ori from The Hobbit are among the Dwarves who went to liberate Moria. Later, after the Fellowship fails to cross the Redhorn Pass, Gimli looks forward enthusiastically to going to Moria and meeting Balin and company there. Then they get to Moria... and find that the dwarf-colony was destroyed years before by Orcs and the Balrog, and Balin, Óin, and Ori are all among the dead.
  • Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables. She's put in jail after the Gorbeau robbery, never seen again, and it's mentioned much later that she died. Bear in mind she was a big, healthy, middle-aged woman.
  • In Peter Pan in Scarlet, the 2004 authorized sequel to Peter Pan, Michael Darling, the youngest of the three Darling siblings, is absent. It is revealed that he died in World War I.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Hector; the Quagmire triplets; Captain Widdershins; Fernald; Fiona, in some interpretations: the human race. Maybe.
  • Mort and Ysabelle, after a turn as main characters in Discworld novel Mort, are given barely one scene in Soul Music, where they're not seen, and their carriage falls off a cliff. Intentional, as it proves to be a major part of Death's Character Development: the realisation at just how fragile and short human lives are, and how randomly and easily they are taken.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes canon, Watson's first wife (Mary Morstan) is revealed to have died during the Great Hiatus, but no greater explanation is made, nor is it shown in a story itself.
  • In the Diane Duane novel Spock's World, the plot reveals that Stonn died in between the novel and the last encounter with Spock, due to a risk the former character took to recapture a mate's attention.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Survivor's Quest introduced Chak Fel, one of Soontir Fel's sons and a pilot/officer who left at the end of the novel to head back to the Empire of the Hand, which was basically all of The Empire's strengths and almost none of its flaws. Later books not only somehow managed to confuse the Empire of the Hand with the Chiss Ascendancy (they are adjacent to each other, the Empire was formed by a prominent Chiss, and it really wants to open up friendly channels with its parent, but they're not the same), but later claimed that the Empire just sort of fell apart - and oh, by the way, Chak Fel died in a war that's over now.
    • The franchise did this to a whole species at one point. The Crystal Star introduces the Firrerreos, a race of near-humans that were all but destroyed by one of their own, a Dark Jedi serving Vader. The survivors disappear into hyperspace after Leia revives them from cryogenic hibernation and are mentioned by The Essential Guide to Alien Species to have been granted asylum on the planet Belderone. Happy ending, right? Not so fast: the New Jedi Order book Remnant mentions offhand that Belderone was invaded by the Yuuzhan Vong and that the Firrerreos are now functionally extinct.
    • Sten Thanas dies of an illness between The Truce at Bakura and The Corellian Trilogy.
  • In Island of the Blue Dolphins, the protagonist's entire people seem to be Put on a Bus when they emigrate from their island and accidentally leave her behind, but later it's revealed that the ship they were on sank during a storm and nobody survived. This was retconned for the eventual sequel.
  • As befitting the setting, many characters disappear in The Hunger Games trilogy only to be noted as dead later. Large examples include Cinna, Darius, Madge, the red-headed Avox, and the District 8 runaways.
  • Happens several times in Warrior Cats after timeskips: for instance, Rainwhisker's death is mentioned at the start of The Sight, killed between books by a falling tree branch.
  • In Worm, Grue was apparently Put on a Bus, and quite a few people wondered why he hadn't done anything useful for a while. Then Tattletale mentions he died back on the oil rig. Ouch.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Archie Bunker's Place: When Jean Stapleton left her long-running role of Edith Bunker (which she originated on All in the Family), she was written out as having died of a stroke off-screen. The resulting story was the 1980 season opener, where Archie — in deep shock after Edith's sudden passing — refuses to come to terms with the death until his bottled-up grief is triggered by spotting her slippers on the bedroom floor.
  • In an overlap with Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome, the character of Young Mr. Grace, who had already been Put on a Bus in Are You Being Served? (owing to Harold Bennett's ill health), has died before the beginning of the first episode of the sequel series Are You Being Served Again (also known as Grace and Favour), and the episode involves the cast taking charge of his country manor and attending the reading of his will.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Talia Winters, played by Andrea Thompson, is kind of a complicated one. Herself a replacement character for an actress who was fired after the pilot, Thompson became very dissatisfied with her lack of screen time, despite a slowly building subplot of Talia developing powerful telekinetic abilities that would clearly have paid off soon. She was written off by having an evil "sleeper personality" become activated and effectively kill the real Talia, which was originally planned for another character that had been replaced after the pilot, but NOT the one Talia replaced. This still left the opportunity for Thompson to return as an antagonist, like Denise Crosby in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the next season, it was strongly suggested (though by a character known for his dishonesty and enjoyment of jerking others' chains) that she had been killed and dissected off screen. And after all that, her replacement character was actually the same character Talia herself had replaced, and who then required a Vorlon upgrade to match Talia's implied new power level. Whew!
    • The actress who played Na'Toth left between Seasons 1 and 2 due to problems with the prosthetic make-up, so a new actress was brought in. The new actress only appeared in two episodes of Season 2 due to her desire to reinterpret the character instead of sticking with what had already been established. JMS got so annoyed with her he just had her vanish halfway through Season 2, and later revealed she'd gone back to the Narn home world to join the war against the Centauri and been killed in the Centauri assault later in Season 2. However, the original actress was willing to come back for a one-off guest appearance in Season 5, so JMS retconned it that Na'Toth had survived.
    • Possibly the highest-profile one from the show: Lennier vanishes towards the end of Season 5 having left Sheridan to die in an accident. Riven by guilt, he vows not to return until he has redeemed himself. His character is later referred to as dead. It is eventually explained in the Babylon 5 books series that Lennier died during the Telepath War, alongside Lyta Alexander in an explosion that destroyed Psi Corps Headquarters.
    • General William Hague was introduced in the second season as a Chekhov's Gunman who was intended to become an important ally to the protagonists later on during the Earth Civil War arc. However, when the pivotal episodes rolled around, the actor had been booked to Deep Space Nine instead (Robert Foxworth's agent apparently screwed up and double-booked him). The character was promptly Bus Crashed. JMS freely admitted he did this out of spite.
    • In a first-season episode, Londo falls in love with a beautiful slave named Adira. After gaining her freedom, she leaves to further herself, with a promise to return to him someday. Several seasons later, she does return... but only her cloth-draped corpse makes it onto the station. She was poisoned off screen as part of a Batman Gambit to shock Londo into joining back up with the Shadows.
    • In season 2's "The Geometry of Shadows" a group of techno-mages pass through the station, led by a man named Elric. They're traveling beyond known space to avoid having their arts harnessed for the upcoming Shadow War. In the second episode of Crusade, Elric was said by Galen to have died soon after the techno-mages reached their hiding place. This was eventually explained in the licensed novel The Passing of the Techno-Mages: Invoking Darkness (he is killed by a techno-mage working for the Shadows, but manages to stop her from revealing the hiding place).
  • After Ruby Rose departed from the show, Batwoman was retooled with a new protagonist, while Kate Kane is stated to have gone missing in a plane accident sometime after the Season 1 finale, seemingly playing this trope straight. Then it's revealed that Kate survived but was given a Magic Plastic Surgery, neatly explaining why she is played by The Other Darrin.
  • Being Human (UK):
    • The werewolf who turned George, Tully, appears in one episode in the first series, and is then not heard from again until an important piece of graffiti by him in the finale of the second series, in which one of the characters mentions him as dead.
    • Daisy Hannigan-Spiteri, a vampire who appears repeatedly in the second series, is left behind when the group moves to Wales, and a vampire-hunter later refers to her as one of his kills.
  • Jenna in Blake's 7 was launched out of the spaceship in an escape pod at the end of the second series. In the final episode of the series, Blake states that she has died but it's left ambiguous if he's telling the truth or not. The Big Finish audios later revealed he was indeed telling the truth.
  • In Broadchurch, Beth's mother Elizabeth dies off-screen between seasons one and two, apparently from some sort of stress-related illness.
  • In Season 5 premiere of Community, Pierce is stated to have left the school after being banned for sexual harassment. Later in the episode "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics", the remaining members of the group find out that Pierce has passed away.
  • Handled very well with Blanche Hunt in Coronation Street whose actress died. The writers put her on a bus to Portugal for a holiday temporarily while they worked through their current storylines. Once they were ready to handle it properly, Blanche's daughter Deirdre got a phonecall that Blanche had died in Portugal. She was given a full funeral and wake in The Rovers.
  • In Criminal Minds, Jason Gideon, after leaving the team for 8 years, becomes the Victim of the Week when the UnSub murders Gideon in his cabin.
  • Crossing Jordan: A show that had only its original core group as the regulars with added characters who were in and out, Crossing Jordan was not afraid of writing a character off, doing this at least once if not twice. One died in a plane crash and the other died semi-on-screen from really bad food poisoning.
  • CSI: NY crossed it with Stuffed in the Fridge with Aiden. She quit the lab to avoid Mac firing her in season 2’s beginning. At the end of the season, her return was hyped, but she was only seen onscreen in flashback, having been killed and left to incinerate in a burning car for the team to find.
  • Jock Ewing was written to have died in a helicopter crash to start the fifth season of Dallas because actor Jim Davis had died before production of the season began.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This was the situation of the Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann for many years. He was never seen again after the 1996 TV movie (aside from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, which continued unabated, even using Paul McGann in the audio dramas). The Eighth Doctor's regeneration had been intended to be shown in the official comic series, but Executive Meddling resulted in it being changed when the decision was made that the Ninth Doctor's comic strip adventures should be strictly tied into the TV continuity. The Eighth Doctor's regeneration was finally shown in the pre-50th anniversary webcast teaser "The Night of the Doctor", in which he regenerated into someone quite different from whom the fans had assumed that he did for years...
    • "The Empty Child" demonstrates that the Eighth Doctor isn't the only character to have died in the planetary Bus Crash that was the Time War.
      Dr. Constantine: Before this war began I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither, but I'm still a doctor.
      The Doctor: I know the feeling.
    • When Steven Moffat was asked if he would bring the popular Time Lady character Romana back now that the Time Lords had been resurrected, he announced that he assumed she was dead anyway.
    • The Brigadier dies this way, due to The Character Died with Him.
  • Earth: Final Conflict: The main character of the series was replaced after the first season and Put on a Bus. He came back for two episodes of the final season, where he resolves a few plot threads, then leaves again. In the Grand Finale it's mentioned in passing that he was killed (then again, the series had essentially decided that everyone dies at that point).
  • On Elementary Mycroft has a bounty put on his head by a powerful organized crime group and goes into hiding, unable to contact Sherlock in any way without risking both their lives. A few seasons later, Sherlock discovers that the mob bosses hunting Mycroft have all been killed in a Mob War a few months back and is quite upset that Mycroft has not contacted him yet. He finally decides to track down his brother and discovers that eight months earlier Mycroft suffered a brain aneurysm and died in an Australian hospital under a fake name.
  • The Expanse: Anderson Dawes is killed off-screen between season 5 and 6. This is, in a sense, a long time coming given that his last in-person appearance was all the way back in season 2, due to Jared Harris's extremely busy schedule preventing him from returning to the show since.
  • Falling Skies has the character of Uncle Scott killed between seasons 1 and 2. Viewers aren't even shown his grave, it's only mentioned in passing that he died.
  • In Farscape the “Liars, Guns, and Money” trilogy brought back a ton of villains from the first season, many of whom were Back for the Dead. One villain, Commander Kraccic, the leader of a group of Space Pirates Moya's crew had encountered, is revealed to have been murdered by Durka offscreen some time ago.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • It's less that he was Put on a Bus and more that he only appeared in a few episodes, but Cisco’s brother Dante was revealed to have died offscreen in Season 3, in an almost literal version of this trope as he was killed by a drunk driver.
    • Cisco’s love interest and interdimensional traveller Gypsy was put on a bus after Season 4. In Season 6, her father Breacher showed up and revealed she had been murdered in cold blood by one of her targets.
  • A French Village: Sarah gets deported along with other Jews to Poland. Later it turns out that she died in Auschwitz of typhus.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • When Jon reconnects with Qhorin after being sidetracked by Ygritte, he learns that the rest of their party were killed by the wildlings off-screen.
    • Shaggydog's decapitated head is shown to prove that Rickon is a real Stark to Ramsay Bolton.
    • Violet is revealed to have died offscreen, two seasons after her first and only appearance on screen.
    • Smalljon observes that the Greatjon died at some unspecified time before Season 6.
    • Galbart Glover hasn't been seen since the end of the first season. His brother confirmed that he died during Robb's campaign.
  • Happened twice in Glee:
    • Jean Sylvester, Sue's sister and a recurring character, dies off-screen in season 2 ("Funeral" dealt with exactly what you think it did). The actress who played her was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and was no longer able to work.
    • Finn Hudson's death. The character had been Put on a Bus at the end of Season 4 due to his actor having gone to rehab, but he died in between seasons due to a drug overdose. Season 5's third episode, "The Quarterback", is a heavily emotional tribute to him. Since Finn was the show's deuteragonist, he wasn't forgotten after this episode. On the contrary, he was remembered until the very last moment.
  • In Good Times, patriarch James Evans was Put on a Bus to Mississippi, "looking for work". In the season four premiere, Florida gets a letter that says James was killed in a car accident on his way back to Chicago. note 
  • The final episode of Green Wing opens at the funeral of Angela, who had left to pursue an acting career. It is said that she was killed by a moose.
  • In Grey's Anatomy, George gets hit and killed by the bus that he was going to take to leave the hospital and go join the Army. His character wasn't coming back anyway as the actor ended his contract, hence the in-universe result of him wanting to join the Army, but this is still a pretty harsh way to go. Though, in this case it was also a Heroic Sacrifice, as he pushed away the person about to get hit.
  • In the second episode of the last season of Halt and Catch Fire, Joe mentions that his father died sometime in the previous year.
  • On Hollyoaks, Kurt Benson was Put on a Bus to get his head together, but sometime later, it was revealed he'd been killed by, of all things, a jet-ski.
  • Home and Away:
    • The show had Beth leaving Summer Bay to visit some other members of her family. In the episode in which she was supposed to come back, she ends up getting involved in a crash with a lorry and ends up dead.
    • And, one season later, Dan died on a rock-climbing trip in America.
    • Vinnie Patterson was an interesting example. In early 2002 he was sent to prison. At the end of the year he was killed, off screen, in a fire. In 2004 he was resurrected and in the Witness Protection Program, but was only seen in a bear costume at his son's birthday party. In early 2010, he was killed off again.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street:
    • The show did it to Daniel Baldwin's character, Beau Felton. He left with several other cast members, allegedly on administrative leave after some bad behavior at a police convention, but turned up as the Victim of the Week a few seasons later. A shotgun blast to the head even obviated the need to have Baldwin play his own corpse.
    • Likewise, Jon Polito's character, Steve Crosetti, took a holiday for the first three episodes of season three, then drowned himself.
  • In JAG, Lt. Loren Singer was transferred from the Judge Advocate General's office (And There Was Much Rejoicing)...and a few months later Naval Criminal Investigation Services arrested Commander Rabb for her murder. So they lost a hated character, and gained a much-loved spin-off.
  • Law & Order:
    • A fairly literal example happens in one episode. ADA Claire Kincaid was in a car crash with Lennie Briscoe in the Season 6 finale - this was originally intended to write out actress Jill Hennessey, who would be revealed to be paralyzed in the Season 7 premiere and then Put on a Bus. But when Hennessey declined to return for one more episode, Claire was instead killed off.
    • Lennie Briscoe also got this treatment after Jerry Orbach died. Briscoe was originally written out as retiring. Then he was seen working as an investigator for the DA's office on "Trial By Jury". After he died, all references to him in "Trial By Jury" were removed, and after that series was cancelled, references to his death were peppered into scripts for Criminal Intent and the Mothership. Somewhat subverted in that these mentions only arose from his former colleagues during personal crises.
    • In a minor example, Detective Curtis left the show in part because of his wife Deborah's worsening multiple sclerosis (Deborah had appeared in only a couple of episodes because at the time, the series paid little attention to the personal lives of its characters). Curtis returned for one episode for his wife's funeral.
    • Executive ADA Ben Stone was written out after Season 4 because his actor, Michael Moriarty, began to behave erratically after NBC executives asked for more female characters on the show, accusing the then-Attorney General Janet Reno of trying to censor TV. At first he was simply said to be away, and then stopped being mentioned at all, but twenty-four years later, Law & Order: SVU showed the character's funeral.
  • Another strange one: Kahlan's sister Denee from Legend of the Seeker was the focus of an episode after Kahlan learned that she was still alive, having apparently been killed in the pilot episode. The episode in question involves the main characters going to great lengths to save her and her newborn baby, only for their deaths to be off-handedly mentioned towards the end of season one. Denee is eventually brought back in a new body, and that's all we hear of her.
  • Zig-zagged in the fourth-season opener of The Librarians 2014, where Flynn reveals that Nicole Noone, his first guardian, died sometime after the events of The Librarian Quest For The Spear... only for her to turn up alive in a secret dungeon in the Library.
  • In the final Murdoc episode of MacGyver, MacGyver's Arch-Enemy Murdoc mentions that his sister was killed in a skiing accident, which is partially what prompts his return to a life of supervillainy. This makes the previous Murdoc episode, in which he and MacGyver went to an enormous amount of trouble to save her, something of a Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • The remake MacGyver also used this trope, when actor George Eads left the show mid-season 3 over an ongoing disagreement about the show's shooting location. His character Jack Dalton was called back to help hunt down a terrorist who he thought his team had killed years earlier. In Season 5, episode 5 (perhaps in response to frequent fan demands for the production team to bring him back), he is stated to have been killed in the attempt, and the rest of the episode deals with the team attempting to complete the mission as a memorial.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In the Season 3 finale, Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) leaves the 4077th because his tour of duty is up; he has enough points for an honorable discharge and can go home. At the episode's end, Radar O'Reilly comes in to inform the cast that Henry was killed when his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. To keep the rest of the episode sad about Col. Blake leaving, but happy about him going home, the only cast member told about this before the episode started shooting was Alan Alda; everyone else (McLean Stevenson himself apparently wasn't even told) instead believed that Henry was merely going home. The final sad scene was filmed last, and the actors were only told of Henry's fate just before then (the notion that they weren't told at all prior to filming the scene is an Urban Legend). It's said that the traditional wrap party was canceled because of the gloomy mood after the scene was shot. Apparently, while there was some resentment from the production crew over Stevenson's leaving the show, the official reason for the shocking twist was to hammer home the capriciousness of war. Showrunner Larry Gelbart explicitly said in an interview soon after that he didn't want Blake going back to Bloomington because "a lot of guys didn't get back to Bloomington."
    • Stevenson got a small measure of revenge that Saturday night, as on Cher's variety show (he had already been booked as a guest), the opening bumper had Stevenson dressed as Henry Blake on a raft waving his arms and shouting, "I'm OK! I'm OK!" Some fanfiction writers picked up on the raft sketch and worked out explanations for why Henry hadn't contacted the 4077th after being rescued.
  • McMillan & Wife: Thanks to a contract dispute between Susan Saint James and Universal, Sally McMillan was killed in a plane crash after the fifth season. Without the chemistry between Sally and her husband, most viewers lost interest, and the show was cancelled a few episodes later.
  • Matt Fielding left Melrose Place after several seasons as the token gay. His death by car crash is reported a season or so later.
  • Due to Peter Capaldi becoming the next Doctor Who, writers for The Musketeers had to kill off Cardinal Richelieu between seasons one and two, having him die of some unspecified heart problem. The real Richelieu died of a long, debilitating illness.
  • In the final series of My Family, Susan's mother Grace is revealed to have suddenly died offscreen - supposedly from falling into crocodile-infested waters after her cord snapped during a bungee jump.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In "Laserblast", which the showrunners thought would be the final episode, Dr. Clayton Forrester's story arc turns into an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, ending with him reverting to a baby. His mother Pearl declares she's going to raise him again, and do it right this time. Then the series got renewed, but Clayton's actor Trace Beaulieu decided not to return. So, in the first episode of the new season, "Revenge of the Creature", Pearl reveals that Clayton grew up to be just as bad as he was before, so she smothered him in his sleep with a pillow.
  • NCIS:
    • Special Agent Laura Macy was originally was the leader of the Los Angeles Team in the pilot of NCIS: Los Angeles, but did not appear in the actual show. She was later found dead.
    • The season 13 finale also did this to former NCIS agent Ziva David, killed in a bombing of her family home two seasons after leaving the show under already-bittersweet circumstances.
  • The O.C. had an on-screen example, with Marissa Cooper at the end of the third season - her father invited her to live with him in Maui, only for Marissa to die in a car crash after her ex-boyfriend ran her off the road. The death was especially shocking, as not one piece of hype for the episode teased a death.
  • A rather aggravating example from Primeval with Sarah Paige. At the end of season 3 she says she's come up with an idea to rescue Conor, Abby and Danny from the past but she's conspicuous by her absence at the start of season 4. Becker then mentions "when Sarah was killed" and apart from Abby asking where she is, she's never mentioned again.
  • On St. Elsewhere, Bobby Caldwell contracted AIDS, moved to a care facility in California, and left the show. In a much later episode, the staff hears that he had succumbed to the disease.
  • John Ritter played JD's father in Scrubs. When Ritter died some time after his last appearance, his character had a fatal heart attack. Various other forms of death tropes happened to a number of Ritter's other characters for the same reason.
  • Sesame Street: When Will Lee died of a heart attack in December 1982, so did his character, Mr. Hooper. Usually in children's programming, this would be addressed by simply erasing the character from existence, getting another actor for the role, or even stating that he had moved out. Not here; the show broke the trend, and actually tackled Hooper's death head-on in a segment to teach children about death. It can be viewed here.
  • Subverted by Shameless (UK). Debbie Gallagher left to join the army at the end of Series 6, and later sent a letter saying she was in Afghanistan. In the first episode of Series 8, an army officer tells Frank that Debbie was killed in action, but it turns out to be a malicious prank by his ex wife.
  • The Shield:
    • Assistant Police Chief Ben Gilroy appears in a number of Season 1 episodes, but is smuggled into Mexico by Vic Mackey after he commits a number of crimes. In season 4, he shows up... dead, from cirrhosis of the liver.
    • The same thing happens to Tigra (the woman Lem was involved with after he rescued her brother in Season 1). In Season 5, Kavanaugh mentions her name when he runs down the list of criminal informants who died over the course of the series (and which many fans missed because the statement isn't immediately clear until he clarifies it).
  • Smallville:
    • Whitney is put on a literal bus in a season finale when he joins the armed forces, and he dies in an overseas war a little bit later. In fact he dies a bit sooner than the audience thinks he does. Eric Johnson returns as Whitney for this episode, and it shows the real Whitney being blown up overseas in the teaser. So it's Back for the Dead and Not Himself.
    • General Fanon agrees that Lex had his brother Lucas Luthor murdered sometime before Season 7.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • After Jonas Quinn departs he comes back for one season 7 episode, then doesn't appear again. In season 10 his home planet is mentioned as falling to the Ori, and "their allies" on the planet could not be contacted, implying that they were killed. Though not stated on the show, one of the producers stated in an interview that Jonas was part of an underground movement set on resisting the Ori.
    • Another example from SG-1 is the Tollan Omoc, who appears for exactly one episode in Enigma, the first episode in which the Tollans are introduced. He is then stated to be an influential member of the Tollan government, until Between Two Fires, which opens with his (off-screen) death and funeral. And then the entire Tollan race is exterminated. (The writers ignoring, for the entire rest of the franchise, the fact that there were almost certain to be at least a few off-world Tollans.)
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Ford becomes addicted to Wraith enzyme at the end of season one and goes AWOL. He returns in season two, helping the team off a Wraith Hive ship that's about to explode, but stays behind to buy them time. Sheppard however, remains confident that he survived (given that his enemies always seem to consistently do so). Ford never appeared in the show again save for an Imagine Spot, but is never confirmed as killed either.
    • One episode of Atlantis had the team save a human civilization whose homeworld was about to be devastated by a supervolcano eruption, and relocate them to another planet. A later episode reveals that they had all been killed by Michael to provide DNA for one of his Super-Soldier projects.
    • In the final episode of Atlantis it is revealed that General Hammond, who got promoted out of the show after series 7 of SG-1 and from then on had occasional guest appearances, died of a heart attack (just like Don S. Davies). They promptly rename a spaceship in construction after him. The operational spaceship appears in Stargate Universe.
  • Supernatural:
    • After his only appearance in the Season 9 midseason finale, Malachi is mentioned near the season's end as having been murdered by Gadreel at some point.
    • Krissy Chambers' father Lee who appeared in her debut episode. It's revealed when Krissy reappears in "Freaks and Geeks" that he's been killed since we last saw the two of them.
  • In the Big Finish The Tomorrow People line, viewers are told that Kenny, one of the early Tomorrow People, has been killed by an assassin.
  • Two and a Half Men: Charlie Sheen, who plays Charlie Harper, was causing massive production delays on set and pissed off showrunner Chuck Lorre. In the show, Charlie Harper was revealed to have died when he was pushed in front of a Paris train by his new wife Rose. The series finale has Charlie brought Back for the Dead (sort of).
  • Rachel Gurney worried about getting typecast as upper-class matriarchs in period dramas; so at the beginning of the second season of Edwardian domestic drama Upstairs Downstairs, Lady Marjorie goes to visit some family in America... on the Titanic.
  • CD Parker in Walker, Texas Ranger. His actor, Noble Willingham, left the show to run for a seat on the United States House of Representatives, but came out unsuccessful. CD's death occurred in "The Avenging Angel", supposedly from heart failure, but in the Grand Finale, "The Final Show/Down", the villain of the latter episode reveals he is responsible for murdering him, prompting a second autopsy that confirms that CD's cause of death was due to poison.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • In Season 1, the group comes across a group of Hispanic men protecting elderly people at an Atlanta retirement home. Season 2 was supposed to open with the CDC survivors discovering that they had all been murdered off-camera by unknown assailants, and this scene was filmed and included in the DVD release, though it was cut from broadcasts - leaving behind a What Happened to the Mouse?.
    • In Season 4 the main characters get separated and escape from the prison in their own ways whilst all of the extraneous hangers-on get away in a literal bus. Eventually some of the main characters catch up with the bus and find that all of the people on board are now dead or undead, removing them from the plot with minimal effort on the part of the writers.
    • The Season 5 premiere, "No Sanctuary," brings back the character of Sam (played by Robin Lord Taylor), whom we met in Season 4's "Indifference." His throat is slashed by the residents of Terminus, and he bleeds out.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess was fairly good about giving characters who'd been important on-screen deaths — up until the mid-fifth season. Amarice, who had been Xena and Gabrielle's companion for a good run of episodes earlier that season and a few in the previous, was unceremoniously killed off screen during the teaser for the episode "Lifeblood." It's said that she died during an attack that viewers didn't see onscreen (by then the actress, Jennifer Sky, was starring in Cleopatra 2525, but Amarice's character arc ended with her being happily left with a tribe of Amazons, so mentioning her again just to say she was dead seemed, well, kind of mean and pointless).
  • Literal bus crash with The Young Ones — a bus they're driving crashes through a poster of Cliff Richard, then tumbles off an actual cliff. Normally they'd be back next episode, but this was the series' final show.
    • The closing credits, which usually said "The Young Ones are", followed by the lead actor's names, instead reads "The Young Ones were", followed by the names of all the people who worked on the show, behind and in front of the camera.

    Tabletop Games 
  • As of February 2016, the Tomb Kings and were discontinued in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, with the models going on the "Last Chance to Buy" part of GW's online store and they will not show up in Age of Sigmar's new Death faction. A bit of an odd example since they had been destroyed "on-screen" in Warhammer: The End Times, but so had every other faction. The Bretonnians got it even worse, since they were denied even that dignity and just sort of wandered off in the middle of the story before getting discontinued.

  • Older Than Steam Shakespeare examples:
    • Falstaff, a supporting character in the two Henry IV plays, does not appear in the sequel Henry V, and his friends are first seen discussing his illness and death. (One theory has it that writing Falstaff out was because the actor, William Kempe, had left the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Killing him was because Kempe joined a rival troupe, Worcester's Men.)
    • In Romeo and Juliet, Lady Montague. She has a fairly important role in the first scene of the play, then disappears and is never mentioned again until the last scene when Montague mentions that she died. (In an early text, this is Benvolio's fate as well.)
    • In Othello, Desdemona's father, Brabantio, is seen only in the first act, and not mentioned again until Act 5, where someone comments on his recent passing.
    • The first scene of Pericles, Prince of Tyre is all about Pericles escaping from an evil king and princess, and Pericles goes on the run to escape their assassin. Much later, at the end of Act 2, two minor characters have a conversation that basically amounts to "Hey, what happened to the evil king and princess from scene 1?" "Oh, didn't you hear? They got hit by a meteor and died."
  • Zigzagged for Josephine from production to production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia Limited, depending whether or not the stage director puts in a thorough Pair the Spares; Sir Captain Corcoran, KCB was raised under the name Ralph Rackstraw.

    Video Games 
  • One of the reasons that Chrono Cross received a lot of ire from the fans was that it did exactly this to several of the main cast members from Chrono Trigger — none of whom we'd seen get on the bus.
    • The problem being that this is actually Fanon. Canonically, something happened to Lucca, but we don't know if she actually died, and we have no idea what happened to Crono and Marle when Guardia fell. People saw ghost-like children resembling the three — but younger even than they were in Chrono Trigger — toward the end of the game and jumped to conclusions.
    • Very reasonable conclusions, given the way the game presents what little info it does about the previous game's protagonists. Worse for Western fans, as the interim game Radical Dreamers never made it to U.S. shores until more than two decades later, so a vast amount of stuff simply happened offscreen between the two main games, including the main trio's possible Bus Crash.
  • In Fable: The Lost Chapters, the hero can either marry Lady Grey (The Mayor of Bowerstone), or reveal to the world that she killed her sister for the seat of power. Assuming the player chooses the latter, Lady Grey will become enraged with you and leave. Then, in Fable II, you discover that Lady Grey was accused of being a witch, hunted down, killed, and cut into pieces. Bus Crash, indeed.
  • In Dawn of War II, a short conversation between characters reveals that Indrick "Spess Mahreens" Boreale, an extremely unpopular character from the first game's Soulstorm expansion, had died shortly thereafter and was considered a failure by everyone. Specifically, it was revealed that the Space Marines canonically lost the Kauravan campaign and that Boreale fell with them.
  • In Super Robot Wars Compact, Chan Agi mentions Gihren Zabi and Kishiria Zabi were assassinated off-screen in the intermission after scenario 10 "Cruel Fairy Tale". However, since these two characters died in their original series, hitting them with this trope isn't as big as it is with other notable examples within the franchise.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In Assassin's Creed II, Lorenzo de' Medici is not seen again after Ezio goes to Venice. If you know your Renaissance history, you'll know that he died in 1492, a year not depicted onscreen.
    • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood: In-game example. Caterina Sforza's last appearance is her riding into the sunset with the intent of reclaiming rulership of Forli. Desmond asks What Happened to the Mouse? and Shawn replies that Caterina's petition was rejected, she got pneumonia, and died in 1509.
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has a stage based on the famous Days Of Future Past storyline, Complete with a large "Apprehended/Slain" poster with the X-Men replaced by characters from Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Only Mega Man is still alive and free...presumably because, as a robot, the Sentinels aren't designed to track him.
  • In Metal Gear, Otacon's mother Dr. Strangelove was never seen again after her introduction in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, we learn the reason is that she was murdered by her Hated by All husband, Huey.
  • Soul series:
    • According to official sources for Soulcalibur V, Sophitia passed away between the events of IV and V sacrificing herself to save her daughter, Pyrrha. This kinda-sorta gets undone in Soulcalibur VI by means of Continuity Reboot, though only in regards to the new timeline's Sophitia.
    • Maxi gets two shots for this trope in Soulcalibur and Soulcalibur III, but he's still alive as of Soulcalibur V.
    • Given the nature of his ending in Soul Edge, Li Long was considered this trope for a long time, but he turned up alive and well for Soulcalibur III.
    • Most of the cast during the sixth game is just gone (as in "missing in action" or otherwise Put on a Bus/ending up a Sequel Non-Entity) or retired. Kilik was thought to have died due to his status as an "ill-fated character", but it turns out that he's also alive during SCV.
      • Likewise, Amy is said to have gone missing after Soulcalibur IV. All signs point to her becoming the amnesiac fortune teller known as Viola, though nothing is conclusively stated in-game or elsewhere.
    • An interesting zig-zag comes from Raphael, one of a handful of vets to return in Soulcalibur V. Word of God states he died during the events of SCIV and additional supplemental materials all but say that he, or at least his body, is being used as the host for the new Nightmare, Graf Dumas. However, because time constraints and slashed budgets led to 3/4 of the planned story being left out of the final release, it's unclear if Raphael is some kind of revenant or spectre in V or if he's alive due to Soul Edge but otherwise being controlled by the cursed sword for most of his screen time.
  • Daggoth suffers this fate in between StarCraft and StarCraft II, the only explanation from Chris Metzen being that he and the other Cerebrates can't survive without the Overmind.
  • Alis(a) in the Phantasy Star series. Phantasy Star Gaiden revealed that she was alive and headed for Algol as a set-up for what was then the plot of Phantasy Star IV. Later, they decided to go with a different premise, and to "resolve" this plot point, they simply imply she died off-screen at some point between Gaiden and IV with no real explanation of how or why.
  • Also happens to Khalid and Dynaheir in the Baldur's Gate game series, between games 1 and 2 (apparently killed in the fight which also resulted in the protagonist's capture: it being assumed as canon that the protagonist was travelling with Imoen, Khalid + Jaheira, and Minsc + Dynaheir, even if he completed the first game with a different party.) Khalid's fate is learned early on — his body was used for experiments and is found in the opening dungeon. Apart from being confirmed dead, nothing is seen of Dynaheir again, presumably she was left where she fell. Both of the deceased characters' bereaved partners have to deal with the fallout in their own way.
  • Ash's girlfriend Jenny died, quite fittingly, in a bus crash between the events of Evil Dead: Hail to the King and its sequel Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick. Now he is drinking his sorrows away.
  • Star Trek Online: Thomas Riker, the transporter clone of Commander William Riker from TNG: "Second Chances" who was last heard of when he surrendered to the Cardassians in DS9: "Defiant" and then was completely forgotten about. In Episode "Cardassian Struggle", Mission "Badlands", you meet his son Joshua Riker and learn Tom's fate. With the Cardassians having been basically destroyed by the Dominion War, the prison camp where Tom was held was abandoned by the government, and the prisoners turned it into a settlement under Tom's leadership. Tom died of heart failure after rescuing his wife when she fell into a ravine.
  • It's revealed in Time Crisis 5 that Christy Ryan, the Damsel in Distress from the second game, was Killed Offscreen by Robert Baxter prior to the events of the fifth game while she was investigating a possible traitor within the VSSE.
  • Several characters from the first Dishonored turn out to have died in the fifteen year Time Skip before Dishonored 2, which is only known due to tweets from the developers. Samuel was already in his sixties in the first game, so he dies of old age before the second. Meanwhile, Callista ends up lost at sea, and Piero dies of unknown causes.
  • Dark Souls III brings back a few non-player characters from the first two games as corpses - for example, you find Laddersmith Gilligan's corpse in the Profaned Capital, the Darkmoon Knightess is found dead in a hidden room in Anor Londo, while the Giant Blacksmith is out in the open, and the Fair Lady's body is in the Demon Ruins in Smouldering Lake. And Aldrich, Devourer of Gods, is found in the middle of absorbing Gwyndolin's corpse, which he uses as a weapon throughout his boss fight.
  • Crysis: Neither Nomad nor Helena Rosenthal are mentioned after surviving the events of the first game. The latter is completely forgotten about, and the only reference towards Nomad in either sequel is the fact Prophet affixes the dog tags of the three fallen members of Raptor Team (only two members die on screen in the original) to his bow towards the end of Crysis 3, even though Nomad’s tag is never seen directly. The comics reveal both were killed by the CIA shortly after the events of the first game.

    Web Original 
  • In Critical Role, Tiberius's fate after his sendoff was left uncertain for a while after Vox Machina discover the fall of his home country. The end of episode 64 hits everyone with the reveal that the Dragonborn was killed fighting Vorugal.
  • Aydin from Darwin's Soldiers is reported by a newspaper to have committed suicide in a Cornova, TX convenience store. The heroes find out about it from a local newspaper.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z Abridged version of "The World's Strongest", the heroes are able to give Dr. Wheelo a new body and allow him to live a happy life (though, with a humongous brain). The very next movie, "Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan", as they're listing off all the villains they could be fighting instead of Broly, it's mentioned that Wheelo died of brain cancer.
  • Dream SMP: A year after Vikkstar and Lazarbeam's last appearance on the server, their absence was finally explained: Dream had trapped them both in a Resurrection/Death Loop to test out the revive-book, and then permanently killed them off afterwards to keep the book's existence a secret.
  • In the Season 1 finale of gen:LOCK, unit leader Leon, voiced by series creator Gray Haddock, performs a Heroic Sacrifice that ends with him in a coma. In the first episode of Season 2, Leon's comatose body gets some attention before he unceremoniously dies — as Haddock was found to have embezzled money and overworked the staff in order to finish Season 1, it's not surprising that they quickly removed the possibility of his return.
  • Poor Patricia in KateModern — vanished from the series in Season 2, only to be killed off in the episode immediately before Grand Finale. Worse yet, her death is only mentioned in a barely-legible, blink-and-you-'ll-miss-it shot of a headline in a newspaper that Sophie is reading. None of the characters appear to notice it, and nobody draws attention to it.
  • In Red vs. Blue the last time we see Sister is at the start of season 6. Later in season 7 when Lopez shows up, he claims to have killed her before leaving Blood Gulch. Grif doesn't believe it, but Lopez gives no indication that he is lying.
    • Turns out to be a subversion, as the second to last episode of Season 13 reveals that Sister is still alive and well in Blood Gulch. Apparently, Lopez only choked her until she passed out, which Sister recalls as being "kinda hot".
  • In older SuperMarioLogan episodes, there was a character named Mr. Pig who vanished from the series after 2014. About three years later in "Jeffy Breaks his Helmet!", Mario off-handedly mentions that Mr. Pig is dead.
  • Survival of the Fittest v4 has an example with the escape group gathered by STAR. According to a broadcast by the terrorists, they all died in the attempt. However, subverted! They turn out to be alive and well, currently in a hospital somewhere in Canada.
    • This was also believed to be the case in v3 when a large number of characters, including v1 winner Adam Dodd, suddenly disappeared and were declared dead. After a while, it was revealed that they got their collars off and were plotting an escape.
  • In Yandere High School, Sam and Taurtis read Hidden's journal, and in it, it indicates that Jts died in the war when he went back to Denmark.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • Season 7's "Stew-roids" has Joe inform Peter that his son Kevin Swanson, who mainly appeared in the first 3 seasons, has died in the war in Iraq. Seth MacFarlane commented that they did it because they thought he was a boring character and they didn't want to use him anymore. However, he re-appeared in Season 10's Thanksgiving, revealing he actually faked his own death and went A.W.O.L. Now it seems Kevin is back for good.
    • In Season 14's "Candy, Quahog, Marshmallow", it is revealed Dee Dee-Donna's estranged mother who appeared in The Cleveland Show-committed suicide by gunshot; in the final episode of the latter series, Dee Dee and Donna's ex-husband Robert had adopted a Chinese baby, and her death effectively cancelled out any chances of this storyline going further.
    • In Season 18's "Coma Guy", Brenda Quagmire returns from Season 10's "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" as one of the spirits on the boat in Peter's coma. This leads to some disturbing implications, given what happened in that episode.
  • The Simpsons
    • Amber, the Vegas showgirl Homer was accidentally "married" to, was later said to have died off screen in a later season. The family attends a funeral service for her at the beginning of an episode.
    • Poochie, the much-hated third character from The Itchy and Scratchy Show, is to be removed through Executive Meddling because the viewers hate him. After a passionate speech by Homer (Poochie's voice actor) to save the poor dog, he is nevertheless literally pulled out of the cartoon with the deadpan "I have to go, my planet needs me," followed by a scribbled note that "Poochie died on the way to his home planet" and then Krusty comes up stating that they have made a legally binding contract to make sure Poochie never, ever returns. That didn't stop him from making a cameo in another Itchy and Scratchy episode during Scratchy's funeral, though.
    • Dr. Marvin Monroe was believed to have died in this manner (disappeared from the series, a 'memorial' hospital named after him, a tombstone for him shaped like a psychiatrist's couch, an explicit statement he died in a retrospective), but he suddenly reappeared alive and well at a book signing, much to Marge's surprise. He reveals that he's just been very sick.
    • Parodied with Shary Bobbins who flies off after helping the Simpsons. The kids ask if they'll see her again and Homer says he's sure they will just moments before she's sucked into a jet engine. Like Poochie and Marvin Monroe, she's since made a reappearance, in this case in a Treehouse of Horror special.
  • American Dad!:
    • Played out quite literally in the Season 6 premiere "100 A.D." which began with the promise/threat that 100 characters were going to die off for real. It ends up teased several times where a major character will narrowly avoid a horrific death, until a literal busload of minor side characters who had been introduced over the previous seasons all went over a cliff together, accounting for 96 of the 100 deaths (even though less than 50 characters were on the bus).
    • Cassandra Dawson, Francine's birth mother met a similar unceremonious fate as Dee Dee Tubs (Donna's mother) from The Cleveland Show. She and her husband Nicholas first appeared in the Season 3 episode "Big Trouble in Little Langley" and would only appear one other time in a non-speaking cameo in "Shallow Vows" two seasons later. When Nicholas returns many years later in Season 13's "Family Plan" we learn that Cassandra ultimately killed herself via hanging after a long drawn-out "Joke" full of fake-outs over other possible ways that she might've died with the reveal of her suicide being the "Punchline".
  • Poor Huffer from The Transformers was confirmed dead when his coffin was shown on the Autobot Mausoleum in "Dark Awakening," presumably because someone mistook him for Brawn, who had died in The Transformers: The Movie. This becomes hilarious in the episode "Carnage In C-Minor" where due to an art error, both Huffer and Brawn accidentally make a cameo appearance despite both having been dead for months in the canon.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Bill's entire extended family (except for one survivor) met this fate. In one episode, you learn that Bill is of New Orleans ancestry, and his family turns out to be a colorful bunch of backstabbing rich Cajun layabouts. Bill gets caught up in their intrigues a couple of times, and then they aren't heard from again until the final season, when Bill's cousin Gilbert turns up to rather casually inform him that they all caught bad fevers and died. Their deaths are given little attention and essentially just serve to set up a plot where Bill worries about his own mortality.
    • Cotton's war buddy Topsy suffered this fate and may have died from old age or sickness. He and Cotton are often shown together in episodes before his death. An episode showed that Cotton inherited his money and instead of using it for Topsy's funeral, he cremated him and used the rest trying to buy a timeshare in Mexico.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Professor Zei is last seen deciding to stay in Wan Shi Tong's enormous library as it sinks into the desert sands. Seventy years later, in Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Jinora comes across his mummified corpse, still sitting among the scrolls and books.
  • In The Long Long Holiday, Fernand, a Jew, is arrested halfway through the series for going outside without a Star of David on his clothes. In the closing narration of the last episode, we learn that he died in Auschwitz.
  • When Toonami came back, it came back with a version of TOM 3, TOM 3.5, hosting and no sign of TOM 4. Sometime later, though TOM 4 made a brief appearance, making it clear he and Tom 3/5 were separate entities, but outside of a mention of a story happening between them, that was it—until The Intruder II where The Intruder comes back and gloats about killing TOM 4.
  • Parodied in Animaniacs (2020). The Warner Siblings discover that a hunter had hunted down, killed and mounted all the past cast members, suggesting this is why so few cast members were returning. When it's revealed that Chicken Boo was in fact the hunter, his Karma Houdini Warranty suddenly runs out when it turns out said cast members survived and they want the chicken's head.


Video Example(s):


The Simpsons - Poochie Dies

The resident Scrappy Poochie of the Itchy and Scratchy Show unceremoniously dies on the way back to his own planet. His departure is animated by just lifting the whole animation cel off the table. The kids in Krusty's studio audience cheer when it's confirmed that Poochie is dead with a confirmed 0% chance of return.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (48 votes)

Example of:

Main / BusCrash

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