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Forgotten Fallen Friend

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"Look, Barry, the only way to respectfully honor Frank is to completely forget about him."
Carl, Sausage Party

Heroes often have to be motivated to pick up The Call, or are simply forced to by chilling events. An all too common way for this to happen is to have their friends and loved ones become Friendly Targets and suffer Death by Origin Story to kick start their quest.

They will thrash and wail, swear bloody vengeance on their killer and go on a multi-season quest to avenge... who was it again? Bob? Alice?

This trope is about the tendency of a narrative to have heroes forget their fallen friends and loved ones with worrying ease. This is both mental and emotional; heroes will rarely reflect on these losses, or even use them in an "And This Is for..." speech, and the emotional impact of the loss is rarely ever shown afterward. (And not because they are bottling it up.)

This can manifest as a husband avenging his murdered wife who hooks up with the first Action Girl he meets without the smallest bit of guilt, or an orphaned son who quickly puts his parents' smoldering remains out of mind to have fun with his new Five-Man Band. The hero might even easily forgive the culprit without batting an eye. Depends On The Writer, especially on a Long Runner where there are often loads of them; if the writer can't remember a character, there's no chance in hell that the characters will.

Granted, a character can't be moody and depressed forever, as it would get really old, really fast, but in moderate doses it's actually compelling drama to see them bury their grief and perhaps even forgive (or at least not want to murder) the killer and instead bring them to justice. However, when the dearly departed's loss has all the emotional impact of a Red Shirt or Disposable Woman dying, it can nudge uncomfortably outside of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief Zone.

This trope is also useful for killing a Sacrificial Lamb off in the beginning that the author doesn't want to appear as a main character in the rest of the work, whether to avoid Fridge Logic, or to lessen the burden of the hero on their Heroic Journey. Taken further, the character may be killed off before the story starts and get referenced only in a Troubled Backstory Flashback.

In episodic series, this will always happen to Remember the New Guy? if they die. Just as how they were never mentioned before the episode despite being close friends with one of the main characters, their tragic death will never be mentioned again after the episode.

Contrast Dead Guy Junior, To Absent Friends, He Had a Name and see also Death by Origin Story. When a character simply goes missing, with their ultimate fate unrevealed (to the other characters or to the audience,) yet nobody (in the story) seems to care, it's What Happened to the Mouse? or Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. When it's the villain who can't remember... whoever it was he killed that has made The Hero mad at him, it's But for Me, It Was Tuesday. Compare Present Absence, when this is averted.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Early on in Injustice The Flash is killed when he is exposed to Scarecrow’s fear toxin leading him to stumble into one of The Joker’s traps where he is sliced by a buzzsaw. His death goes unmentioned for the rest of the film, probably because moments later all of Metropolis is destroyed when Joker had planted a time bomb in Lois Lane’s heart where upon her death it wipes out the entire city.
  • A rare example of this trope being justified in-story: Bing Bong in Inside Out. In a heroic sacrifice in the Memory Dump, he fades out of existence. From that point on, he's never mentioned again and Riley forgets him permanently.
  • Khumba: Khumba’s mother dies early on, but she is never mentioned again after passing away.
  • Littlefoot's mother in The Land Before Time. He mourns for her for a good deal of the first film, but only mentions her a grand total of three times during the following twelve sequels, one of which is just a passing reference. Presumably the writers were uncomfortable about bringing up such a dark topic in a kid's series, but it does give us the slightly worrying possibility that Littlefoot is in serious denial or something.
  • Duffel the original pilot for the journey in Strange World is the only member of the crew to die, he is eaten by an energy pterodactyl and is not acknowledged afterwards.
  • All of the Autobots who died during the events of Transformers: The Movie who are not Optimus Prime, are hardly acknowledged when they are killed during the Decepticon’s attack on the shuttle and the Battle of Autobot City.

  • Poppy's death midway through Series 1 of Bleak Expectations is met with a typically Victorian melodramatic reaction: her siblings and friends are inconsolable with grief (as are the people listening to the story several decades later). But despite dying in the climactic scene of an episode, she's never mentioned once for the rest of the series, and even her parents don't think to ask where she is after her conspicuous absence during their reunion with their other two children. Other than a single, brief mention three series later, her name never comes up again once she's dead. Of course, the show being what it is, this is probably an example of this trope being subtly Played for Laughs.

  • Les Misérables: Eponine gets her drawn-out dramatic death scene in Marius' arms. As soon as she drops, he's back to mooning over Cosette, and Eponine is never mentioned again.note  Even in his Grief Song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," about the deaths of all his friends at the barricades, he only sings about his fellow student revolutionaries, not Éponine.
  • Romeo and Juliet: Romeo is heartbroken about his friend Mercutio's least during the scene where Mercutio actually died. After Romeo kills Tybalt to avenge him, Mercutio is pretty much forgotten. Romeo expresses far more grief over Tybalt's death than Mercutio's.
  • In A Very Potter Musical, Cedric dies at the end of the first act. Nobody cares enough to mention it after the first five minutes of Act Two. His sickeningly sweetheart Cho Chang cries for a minute, but then Neville Longbottom pantses Draco and she says, "That made me feel better." About her dead boyfriend.

    Visual Novels 
  • Defied in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Makoto promises to remember both Sayaka and Leon, even after it turned out that they'd tried to kill each other and frame him for it- the latter killed the former, but failed to get away with it- as well as everyone else who dies, even though Kyoko points out that it's more painful than simply forgetting about them. He takes it very seriously, and Danganronpa 3 shows him having a nightmare about everyone who'd died in the first game, with the exception of Junko and Mukuro, which is understandable since those two were the prime movers behind both the Tragedy and the killing games, so it's no wonder he doesn't regret their deaths.

    Web Animation 
  • In Sonic for Hire, no matter who gets killed or dies, there is hardly any remorse from everyone in the show that immediately brushes off that particular death. Ironically, Sonic's death ended up triggering world peace the moment he died.
  • It's pretty rare in Teen Girl Squad for anyone to acknowledge the many deaths that occur over the series. Pretty much the only time they've ever expressed regret is in the first episode, where What's-Her-Face lackadaisically mentions missing So-and-So, but gets her name wrong despite her having died less than thirty seconds ago.

    Web Comics 
  • In Commander Kitty Zenith is transformed from malfunctioning Big Bad to enthusiastic assistant-slash-fashion designer as easily as rebooting her in "Safe Mode." She's rewarded for trying to repair the damage she caused (and making a spiffy new outfit for one of the characters) with a Logic Bomb that fries her brain completely. No one has yet to acknowledge the overall dickishness of this, or the fact that "Good Zenith" is now little more than an ambulate robot corpse.
  • Lars of Girl Genius dies protecting Agatha and is given a Jäger funeral, with Maxim donating his hat. He's never mentioned again afterwards despite being one of the protagonists early on in the story.
    • The print-novel adaptations do a somewhat better job - Agatha grieves over the death when she's allowed a spare moment, and later tells Tarvek to get out of Castle Heterodyne because she doesn't want anyone else dying for her.
  • Homestuck has this appear to be the case for Feferi and Nepeta, who both haven't been mentioned or seen in-universe for a while.
    • Until Fefetasprite is created, and then dies around 20 pages after her introduction.
  • The Order of the Stick: The Order of the Scribble seems to regard Kraagor as this. The dwarf barbarian was killed saving the world from a god-killing supermonster and his soul presumed lost. In order to protect the seals they placed on the monster, their mission, and Kraagor's bravery, have been sworn to secrecy, with only a monument in his honor, engraved with "Sacrifice Forgotten," left to honor him.
    Liran: Dearest Kraagor... your brave sacrifice will not be forgotten.
    Girard: Actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what will happen.
  • Sluggy Freelance is usually pretty good about this (Val and Alt-Zoe have been referenced a fair bit after their deaths), but this applies in full force to anyone who died during the Horror parodies "KITTEN" and "KITTEN II." Unless their ghosts come back to haunt their main characters, any friends who fall during those stories seem to be completely forgotten. Well, Dex is remembered a little:
    Riff: Gee, Zoe! Sorry your boyfriend got eaten by kittens!
    [Riff and Torg snicker]
    Torg: It's funny when he says it.
  • Whenever a character dies in Sonichu, someone says something to the effect of "I know it's sad, but we have to move on" and everybody goes about their business like nothing even happened. Most likely because the webcomic's author does the same thing.

    Web Original 
  • In Escape the Night season three there was Teala, a guest who was so useless, the group simply pretends she doesn’t exist. No one bothers to ask what happened to her after she dies, simply ignoring the fact that she existed. She’s only mentioned ONCE after her death, as a Take That! by one of the other guests in the finale.
  • In Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk, the protagonists rarely refer to their fallen comrades (but if you tell them their friend died, they'll tell you he was not their friend). In the novel, when the elf dies, even the inner monologues show us that they remember about one of their fallen friends, while the narrator remember both. It is actually used to lampshade the fact that in Seasons 1 and 2, the characters zig-zagged Death Is Cheap and Killed Off for Real, but after this, any dying protagonist will get better.
  • In the final episodes of Omega Guardians second season, three characters end up dying. Walker, Andy, and Brandon. While the former two are mourned and cause at least one character to have a Heroic BSoD, the latter is quickly forgotten by all except his father.

    Real Life 
  • This may also be a bit of Truth in Television. It doesn't seem that unlikely that a crusade started for one reason may continue on its own momentum. See some people's feelings about the post-9/11 wars, or The Onion's story in Our Dumb Century where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was found alive and World War I was called off as a result.
    • The actual Crusades began when the Byzantine Empire asked for Western help against the encroaching Muslim Turks. A little over a century later, the Fourth Crusade attacked and heavily damaged the Empire, and nowadays Turkey still controls Byzantium (Istanbul).
    • Also, there's a pretty good chance that the person whose friend/relative/whoever died could be subconsciously using the crusade as a substitute for their fallen friend, which prevents them from feeling the full impact of the loss, or even thinking of the person at all, even though the bottled up grief will keep them going. Remember that keeping themselves occupied so that it gives them something to do other than mourn is a quite common occurrence among people who have lost loved ones.


Video Example(s):



Played for Laughs; Milton is shot and killed by Corto Maltese Military troops. However, while Poka-Dot Man mourns him, Bloodsport forgot that he tagged along whereas Harley Quinn forgot who he was, much to Polka-Dot Man's dismay.

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