Follow TV Tropes


Written-In Absence

Go To

Sprig: Do you ever think it's weird when the main characters aren't in an episode?
Anne: Eh, you don't miss 'em.

A character who should be here isn't here, and the extent of acknowledgment of the absence is limited to a few lines in the dialog, as if to say, "Yeah, we know they're not here, so here's an explanation and let's move on." (Well, usually we get some sort of explanation for the absence).

Prevalent in movie sequels, when casting is just too lazy to rehire the actor of a significant character and don't feel like trotting out Poor Man's Substitute. (Or they are trotting them out, but as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute.)

A few of these are justified in that the actor died in the interim (and some are categorized in The Character Died with Him).

Examples also exist in regular TV series, and often in this case the absence is only temporary. This is often an excuse to bring in a Temporary Substitute in live-action, but some just acknowledge the absence and move on, especially in Animated Series. Green Rooming is the specific case where a character is introduced in one episode and immediately disappears again for the next few episodes.

Often a case of Real Life Writes the Plot.


    open/close all folders 

  • UFO Kamen Yakisoban had spin-off ads featuring Yakisobany, Yakisoban's cousin, who came to protect Earth while Yakisoban was away.

    Anime & Manga 
  • During the Pain Invasion Arc in Naruto, an ANBU named Ko Hyuuga mentions to Hinata that Hiashi and Hanabi are out of town on a mission, which is relevant since the original Ino-Shika-Cho trio is actively involved in the battle, and so is Kiba's mom.
  • A truly bizarre case is the second story of the Urusei Yatsura manga, which is the only story in the manga that doesn't contain Lum at all. In fact, Lum is not even mentioned, and Shinobu takes her place in the story.
    • Not bizarre at all when you consider that Ataru is the actual protagonist, was meant to be the actual "star" of the manga, and that that he was originally supposed to be in an OTP with Shinobu. Takahashi originally wanted UY to be an anthology revolving around Ataru, with Lum as a throwaway gag character for that story. but Lum became the most popular character in the series and so, barring one other story, she figured in all of the manga. (This is also why, for the first year or so, Lum is a lot more malicious in the manga than the later sweet-with-a-twist-of-Tsundere character she became. It seems that Takahashi toyed with making her at best an antagonist or, at worst, a borderline villain before realizing that just didn't work.)
    • Chapter 60 is very similar, as it stars Ran and Ataru instead of Lum. Lum only appears on the chapter cover, where it is revealed that she's Bound and Gagged inside a closet, explaining why she isn't in this story.
  • The first Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Sound Stage has a scene where Nanoha decides to visit her family's bakery when work ends up bringing her to her home city. Her older brother Kyouya is the only one who is absent, with it being explained that he's currently in Germany with his girlfriend.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Done retroactively for canon, twice.
    • During the events of "Boast Busters", Fluttershy was nowhere to be seen. In this continuity, it's explained that she was at home caring for a sick chickadee at the time.
    • In chapter 3 of the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, Applejack asks why Cadance's parents weren't at her wedding. Cadance explains that Chrysalis had them kidnapped (because they would have easily been able to identify Chrysalis as an imposter), with a couple of changelings impersonating them and pretending they had to be in a hospital at the time. When Cadance and Shining Armor stopped by to visit them en route to the Crystal Empire, they caught on to the impersonation and rescued the couple from their prison.
  • Knows if You've Been Naughty: Dib and Professor Membrane are both absent from the story, instead being out trying to hunt down Santa to fulfill the Professor's vendetta against him. As such, Gaz is on her own when Krampus shows up for her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Partly avoided in the second Austin Powers film, where we actually see the departure of Austin's wife (Elizabeth Hurley, who gets an opening credit mention despite exploding before the opening credits) and are told she was a Ridiculously Human Robot all along.
  • Back to the Future Part II had its entire plot reworked when Crispin Glover wanted too much money to reprise his role as Marty's father. Instead of a trip to the 1960s (where George was a flower child), we go to an alternate 1980s where Biff had become extremely wealthy thanks to a certain book, and George was dead.
  • In Batman Returns, we're informed that Vicki Vale (previous love interest) couldn't handle Bruce's dual life and left him.
  • Cars: The Hudson Hornet Memorial Piston Cup.
  • In The Cheetah Girls: One World, Galleria's absence is explained by her going off to college in England. The movie then proceeds as if the group only has 3 girls and never mention her again, despite her being a pivotal member and their best friend. The real-life explanation is Raven-Symone who played Galleria in the first two movies couldn't return due to her busy schedule.
  • This happens in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, when Liz explains the reason John Myers (from the first movie) is gone is that Red had him transferred to Antarctica.
  • After the death of Anita Mui, her character in House of Flying Daggers was written out of the film almost entirely, only appearing in one scene played by an anonymous actress with her face covered. Director Zhang Yimou had felt it would be disrespectful to simply recast the role.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull features Indy talking about how his father and Marcus have both died in the last year. Denholm Elliot, who played Marcus, died shortly after the third film was released. Sean Connery was still alive, but retired from acting and turned down a chance at a cameo.
  • Roy Scheider's absence from Jaws: The Revenge was explained by saying that his character, Martin Brody, had died of a heart attack between movies. His wife says he died from fear though.
  • The Karate Kid Part III: Daniel's mother couldn't appear in this movie because she went back to New Jersey to help a sick relative.
  • The Klumps, sequel to The Nutty Professor (1996): This one has a lab hand talking about Sherman Klump's (Eddie Murphy) previous partner/love interest (Jada Pinkett Smith) transferring to another university. Janet Jackson serves as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Jada as his new partner/love interest.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers, several characters from other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are conspicuously absent.
      • Natalie Portman was unavailable to appear as Jane Foster due to pregnancy. Her absence was explained as Jane being transferred to a secure location in an observatory for her protection since the villain abducted one of her colleagues.
      • Neither Odin nor any of the other Asgardians save for Thor appear, and Loki explains why; the Bifrost Bridge had been destroyed at the close of Thor, and Odin had to expend a dangerous amount of dark energy just to send Thor back to Earth.
      • War Machine from Iron Man was absent as well, but no explanation was given. The prequel comic to Iron Man 3 finally cleared this up by stating that he was busy fighting terrorists in China during the events of The Avengers.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron continues this trend. While War Machine does appear this time around, the same can't be said for some other supporting players:
      • Jane is once again absent, as she is busy receiving a Nobel Prize overseas thanks to the events of Thor: The Dark World.
      • Pepper Potts is stated to be busy running Stark Industries.
    • Pepper is again absent in Captain America: Civil War, where it's revealed that she broke up with Tony sometime after the events of Age of Ultron.
    • While the majority of the movie superheroes appear in Avengers: Infinity War to fight off Thanos, Hawkeye and Ant-Man are absent because they are under house arrest as part of a plea deal they made to be able to stay with their families after violating the Sokovia Accords and aiding Captain America in Civil War.
  • Tank of The Matrix was said to have died between it and The Matrix Reloaded (by Tank's sister, Zee, who said she lost two brothers on the Nebuchadnezzar) after Marcus Chong's salary demands and conflicts with The Wachowskis led to him being fired.
  • Men in Black II: Jay (Will Smith) and his boss (Rip Torn) are talking about how Jay is burning through partners really fast. Somewhere in there, Jay says "You can't count L. She wanted to go back to the morgue." L, played by Linda Fiorentino, had been first shown as a morgue worker, then shown as Jay's partner at the end of the first movie, and then carried over to Men in Black: The Series. The given reason for Laurel being written off was Linda Fiorentino apparently being an insanely difficult actress to work with.
  • Early in Ocean's Thirteen, we're told that Tess (Julia Roberts) and Isabel (Catherine Zeta-Jones) aren't participating in this caper because "it's not their fight."
  • Another justified example is in Species II where Dan Smithson is said to be unwilling to help track another alien, having been deeply disturbed by the events of the first movie. In reality, Forrest Whitaker was unable or unwilling to appear in the sequel.
  • As Neve Campbell chose not to return for Scream VI due to payment disputes, Gale explains that Sidney went into hiding in response to the latest Ghostface killings.
  • Supergirl: The producers couldn't get Christopher Reeve to make a cameo appearance, so the movie includes a radio news report that Superman has just left Earth on an intergalactic peacekeeping mission. Reeve's Superman does briefly appear once in the movie (sort of), as a poster in Lucy Lane's dorm room.
  • Marion Cotillard didn't want to play Lilly Bertineau in the Taxi series anymore after the third film. In Taxi 4, Daniel (Samy Naceri) simply mentions that they broke up.
  • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, it is said that Sarah Connor died of leukemia in 1997. The actress, Linda Hamilton, would not play a part because she felt that T2 was the proper ending and there was no reason for shooting more pictures in the franchise.
  • Megan Fox was fired during the production of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, so Sam got a new girlfriend named Carly and Wheelie offhandedly mentioned that Mikaela dumped him.
  • xXx: State of the Union: In another case of Poor Man's Substitute as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Ice Cube gets the job previously held by Vin Diesel, and we're told that the Vin Diesel version has died in a jet-skiing accident. The end of the film even has the government already searching for a new one.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League is a special case, with a character's In-Universe absence from a place being used to write the absence of another in. Lois Lane doesn't go back to work at the Daily Planet following the death of Superman, so no scene takes place there. This is because Laurence Fishburne was not available to reprise the role of Da Editor Perry White from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Black Widowers: The very first story, The Acquisitive Chuckle, notes that there are more members than just the five who appeared here. In Truth to Tell (the third story), Gonzalo mentions that Drake will be absent due to family obligations, while welcoming Halstead (who'd been absent from the previous two). In The Obvious Factor (the sixth story), Gonzalo is mentioned as absent from that meeting; The Pointing Finger (the seventh story) explains why, while also having Avalon announce to the club that Halsted won't be present for that meeting.
    • "Risk": Schloss had been out on sick leave during the events of "Little Lost Robot", which is why he was not present in that story.
  • The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries:
    • Justin Wardlaw, introduced as one of Charlie's boarders in book 1 and a Recurring Character for much of the series, is absent from books 2, 7, 8 and 9, and is given an explanation each time - he's away with his family for spring break in book 2, in England for the semester in 7 and 8, and away with his family on vacation in 9.
    • The spinoff series starts with one, as Charlie, his girlfriend Helen Louise, his children, their love partners and his boarder Stewart Delacorte are all off in Europe for a few weeks. This allows the action to focus on the Ducote sisters, who are cat-sitting for Charlie in his absence (since he can't take Diesel on the trip with him).
  • Discworld: In Night Watch, Sergeant Angua (who had been a main character in every other City Watch book since her introduction) is only briefly mentioned in dialogue as being on duty in another part of the city.
  • My Babysitter Is a Vampire: Meg's mother and Trevor are away for most of book 6, visiting Disneyland while Meg is on the movie set with her father.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7th Heaven: Barry Watson's character, Matt, was written out as having gone to medical school in New York with his wife because Watson was going into chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma. Luckily, he recovered.
  • Tracy Morgan was absent from a few episodes of 30 Rock as he was undergoing a kidney transplant. In-universe, Tracy Jordan went on a fake trip to Africa (It Makes Sense in Context well, kinda).
  • During production of season 5 of All in the Family, Carroll O'Connor temporarily walked out on the show due to a salary dispute. The producers rather cleverly responded to this by crafting a three-part story arc in which his character, Archie Bunker, goes missing after leaving to attend a lodge convention.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actor Iain De Caestecker was involved during the filming of the first few episodes of Season 5. The writers worked with this by having his character, Leo Fitz, left behind when the rest of the team is sent forward in time to fix a Bad Future, then going after them later when he's informed they'll run into trouble with the Arc Villain. De Caestecker's filming schedule conflicted with the show's again during the majority of (the admittedly shorter) Season 7, which resulted in his character needing to stay behind on a Time Travel mission to provide a link between timelines to get the rest of the team back home in the last few episodes. His absence is actually a plot point for much of the season, and his partner Jemma Simmons even has a brain implant to suppress her memory of his location in case the enemies try to coerce it from her.
  • 'Allo 'Allo!:
    • Helga Geerhart was absent from two episodes. Her absence was filled by a terrifying woman called Elsa Bigstern.
    • Two other characters, Maria the Short Waitress and Captain Alberto Bertorelli, had their disappearances explained away in a similarly perfunctory manner - Maria, in an effort to escape a Nazi POW camp where she was hiding while in drag accidentally mailed herself to Switzerland; and when the Italians dropped out of WWII, Captain Bertorelli disappeared (perhaps back home, perhaps shot by the Nazis - the exact nature of his vanishing is left vague).
    • Herr Flick is missing from the epilogue, without any explanation (though since he and Smallhausen were last seen surrounded by British soldiers with orders to capture them, one can assume things didn't work out for them).
  • Andromeda had many of these, usually very casually thrown in - Harper went off to a surfing contest, or Rev Bem went to a prayer retreat, or Trance was off picking flowers somewhere. It got to the point that in one episode Dylan lampshaded these constant holidays as examples of how poorly the crew treated their duties.
  • In the Angel episode "Destiny" (season 5), Angel and Spike have a conversation in the teaser where Spike's asking for an office and asks if he can just take Wesley's because Wesley's gone. Angel retorts that he's not gone, he's taking a leave of absence, which was given the in-universe justification that he had thought he had killed his father in the previous ep "Lineage". In real life, Wesley's actor Alexis Denisof was having his wedding with Alyson Hannigan.
  • The direct-to-video release of Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, attempted this on a grand scale. Set ten years after the end of the series, the only original cast members it features are John Sheridan and Captain Elizabeth Lockley. Dr. Franklin and G'Kar, whose actors had died in the interim, are explained as having gone "beyond the Rim". Delenn has remained back on Minbar, and almost all the other cast members receive brief explanations of their current status.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210: The season 5 episode "Love Hurts" doesn't feature Kelly because her actress Jennie Garth had emergency dental surgery, which is referenced in the following episode.
  • Birds of a Feather: Sharon’s absence in the final Christmas Episode is explained as being due to being quarantined in Costa Rica during its events. The real life reason for this is because her actor had decided to retire from acting to focus on her performing arts academy.
  • Laurence Fishburne missed a few episodes of Blackish thanks to also appearing as a main character in Hannibal. The writers sent his character, Pops, on a trip to Bermuda in order to explain his sudden absence.
  • Several episodes from Season 6 of The Bob Newhart Show only had Bob in them for one scene, in which he would do one of his patented one-sided telephone conversations from "out of town."
  • The character of Mike Brady was 'out of town' for the final episode of The Brady Bunch because actor Robert Reed thought the storyline was too ridiculous and demanded script changes. To avoid an ugly showdown, the producers wrote him out of the episode.
  • The Brittas Empire: The episode "Playing With Fire" is the only episode in the series to not feature Gordon Brittas' wife Helen, with the explanation given being that she was away on holiday without Brittas.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Quite a few episodes from season four needed some mention of why Joyce wasn't around, as Joss Whedon got second thoughts about killing her off, and then had to work around the schedule she had set up thinking she would be off the show that season.
    • Prior to her Face–Heel Turn, Faith did not appear in several episodes in Season 3 when her presence would have made quite a bit of sense. One episode described her as being on a "walkabout", which is more than was given for any of the other absences.
    • The season 2 episode "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" is noticeably Xander-centric, and Buffy spends much of the later half transformed into a rat due to a witch's spell. This is because Sarah Michelle Gellar was leaving for a while to appear on Saturday Night Live, so the episode was written in a matter of days and her scenes were filmed first. The rushed schedule doesn't seem to have hurt the episode, as it's a personal favorite of many fans and production members (plus, having an episode with Buffy unable to come in and save the day adds a higher level of tension).
  • Charmed has done this for various characters. Dan does not show up in four episodes of the second season (it's said that he is on a vacation in "Astral Monkey"); Cole is absent in "Pardon My Past" because he wants to know his personality; and Darryl moved to the east coast since his actor suddenly dropped out. There was also a situation in which Leo was frozen.
  • Control Z: Isabela's absence in season two is a product of her respective actress Zión Moreno being cast for the Gossip Girl reboot.
  • In the episode "25 to Life" of Criminal Minds, Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner does not appear, with the only explanation being a few seconds of dialogue where Rossi is seen ending a phone conversation with Hotch telling him to "take as much time as he needs". This was due to Thomas Gibson, who plays Hotch, taking time off to take in a golf tournament.
  • Gil Grissom was absent for several episodes on CSI when William Petersen did a play. Grissom was sent to a college for a seminar, in the same city where Petersen was doing the play.
  • Anna Belknap went on maternity leave twice during her stint on CSI: NY. The first time, Lindsay goes home to Montana for the trial of the guy who murdered her high school friends. The second time, Lindsay was pregnant with Danny's child and went on maternity leave, too, back to Montana to visit her parents, but returned in time for Lucy's birth.
  • An especially poignant example occurs in Dad's Army, in which Captain Mainwaring reads out a note left by Private Walker to excuse his absence - the actor who portrayed Walker, James Beck, had fallen into a coma before the episode was filmed and passed away, meaning that he never returned.
  • In Dead Like Me, Betty is gone for one episode due to being trapped in a morgue. We don't see her there, but we hear her shouting for help.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the first 6 seasons of the classic series, the actors playing the Doctor and his companions were often given a week or two off per season, due to the long, frenetic, stressful filming schedule (40 to 44 episodes a year). Since the characters travel randomly throughout time and space, they can't just go on vacation. So the reasons for missing an episode or two vary—sometimes they're held hostage and/or prisoner, a few times the Doctor was in a coma (played by a double, from the back), once he was being put into permanent suspended animation, once a Sufficiently Advanced Alien made him invisible. (Brief pre-filmed scenes were also used.)
    • In Seasons 15 to 18, K9 is often left out of stories, sometimes with a cameo in the first and/or last episode, sometimes not. Explanations included being unable to handle swampy terrain (which the prop couldn't) and still being in the TARDIS when it's buried by a rockfall. (In the former case, because he was contracted as a regular cast member, the actor who provided his voice played a guest character in the story, getting a rare chance to show his face onscreen.)
    • In "The Five Doctors", Tom Baker declined to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor, so it was claimed that Four got caught in a time eddy when he was retrieved from the timestream. He only appears in stock footage from the unaired story "Shada", where he's punting on the Cam with Romana Two.
    • In the modern revival, they've had a few "Doctor-lite" episodes where it focuses on someone who has never been seen on the TV show, to give the Doctor and his companion some time to film the Christmas specials.
      • Although in series 4, this method was changed to have one episode focusing all on the Doctor, and another focusing on Donna.
      • And in series 5, they had an Amy-lite episode, but not a Doctor-lite one, despite him also doing The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Proms, and the video scenes for the Doctor Who Experience!
  • During the filming of the second series of Downton Abbey, Penelope Wilton spent some weeks starring in the play A Delicate Balance at the Almeida Theatre, so Isobel Crawley was packed off to France for several episodes, the in-universe reason being that she was serving as a nurse with the Red Cross. (Fortunately, this was an entirely characteristic move for Isobel.)
  • The Dukes of Hazzard:
    • Deputy Enos Strate was absent for two episodes in season two, being temporarily replaced by the debuting Cletus Hogg. The Balladeer explained that the doctor had to "separate Enos from his appendix". This write-in was Truth in Television; actor Sonny Shroyer really was in the hospital—for appendicitis.
    • Also in Season 2, Sheriff Rosco Coltrane was missing for a short stretch due to a contract dispute with actor James Best. His absence was explained as Rosco having been forced to go to the police academy for re-certification. Several actors filled in as cameo substitutes during the interim before the dispute was settled and Rosco returned to Hazzard. One of the temporary replacements was, appropriately enough, Dick Sargent. (It appears they were ready to possibly put him in permanently in case Best walked; he had two appearances and was one of two replacements (the other was James Hampton) to make it to the opening credits.)
    • The Suspiciously Similar Substitute situation when Coy and Vance stepped in for Bo and Luke in much of season five is well-known, but John Schneider sat out "Baa, Baa White Sheep" in season three for another reason - he was shooting the Made-for-TV Movie Dream House, so Bo went off to spend a weekend in the Marine Corps.
  • In a non-temporary example, perhaps the weirdest subversion of this in the history of ever came in the third season of Due South. When David Marciano left the show, his character, Ray Vecchio, was actually recast with a replacement character who, apparently, shared the same name. His replacement was actually Stanley Raymond Kowalski, an undercover cop pretending to be Vecchio, while they explained that the real Vecchio was undercover elsewhere.
  • By the second season of Farscape, Virginia Hey, the actress who portrayed Zhaan, had bad reactions to her extensive makeup. Zhaan eventually decided to focus on her spiritual training, allowing her to spend a lot of time meditating while the rest of the crew got themselves in trouble. Zhaan is eventually killed off by having her sacrifice herself to save the ship and crew.
    • Rebecca Riggs was unavailable for filming of "Bad Timing" as she was getting married. Commandant Grayza is said to have been confined to her quarters after Captain Braca staged a mutiny against her at the end of the previous episode.
  • Firefly:
    • Shepherd Book was absent from one episode; the explanation given was that he was off meditating.
    • Zoe's injury in "Out of Gas" was contrived so Gina Torres could get away for her marriage to Laurence Fishburne.
  • The Flash (2014): In season 5 Jesse L. Martin (Joe West) missed much of the season due to a back injury, and was said to be taking baby Jenna to visit Wally (who himself was Put on a Bus) in Tibet. Carlos Valdes (Cisco/Vibe) also misses a few episodes, which is explained as Cisco working on a metahuman cure.
  • Frasier:
    • "Cheerful Goodbyes" had Frasier and his family attending the retirement party of Cliff Clavin, Frasier's old friend from Cheers. The party was not at Cheers but somewhere else, and only Norm, Carla and a few of the recurrers were at the party. Sam and the Cheers bar itself were explained away by Sam hosting a Red Sox reunion at Cheers that night, and thus unable to make it. (Of course, in reality the Cheers set was dismantled once the show ended. In fact, Frasier was shot on the same stage.)
    • Kelsey Grammer missed the episode "Head Game" because he was in rehab. Niles took Frasier's place starring in the episode - an introductory scene with both characters was recorded later.
  • Friends:
    • In the Hundredth Episode, Phoebe gives birth to the babies she was carrying as a surrogate for her half-brother and his wife Alice. Debra Jo Rupp, who plays Alice, had been cast on That '70s Show and only had time to film a single scene for the episode. Alice is said to be out of town and trying to rush back, finally making it just after the babies are born.
    • After Chandler and Monica get engaged during the sixth season finale the celebratory Group Hug is interrupted when Phoebe notices that Ross isn't there. He's missing because David Schwimmer had left production early to work on Band of Brothers.
  • Has happened once on Glee: When Darren Criss left for two weeks to replace Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway, they wrote in a storyline in which Blaine gets hit in the face with a slushie laced with rock salt and injures his eye. Thus they could explain in-universe that the reason Blaine was absent for two episodes was that he had to have surgery on his eye and stay home from school.
  • A variation occurred in the 2009 season finale of Grey's Anatomy. George is absent for most of the episode, but the writers have people constantly talk about him. This was supposed to distract viewers from noticing that he is in fact never on screen, because the episode's wham ending (where he turns out to be the John Doe that saved a girl from being hit by a bus only to get hit himself) absolutely requires this. It actually works rather well.
  • The actor playing Henry isn't in Grounded for Life's final season. In the final episode, his Grandpa casually mentions that "he's around here somewhere".
  • A plotline introduced at the end of season 3 of Hannah Montana that Oliver Oken would be discovered for his singing ability and go on tour set up his actor, Mitchel Musso's absence for most of the fourth and final season (save for two episodes, including the Series Finale). This was because of Musso's having left the series to star in Disney XD series, Pair of Kings and serve as the host of PrankStars. Musso's own brief pop music career was also taken off.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: In "Justice Pt. 1", Kellerman is absent on vacation, but returns in the following episode. It actually becomes important to the plot, as Kellerman is assigned to investigate the murder of the previous episode's killer because he doesn't have a pre-existing bias.
  • House had this quite a lot:
    • The first episode of the fourth season shows the absences of Foreman, Chase, and Cameron (who quit in one episode of season 1 before coming back). All of them were fired or resigned. By the following of the fourth season, only Foreman appears in the team while the others failed to participate in a few episodes.
    • Done also to Wilson after he left temporary the hospital due to an argument with House regarding Amber.
    • In the first episode of the sixth season, House was temporarily deprived of his medical license and also had to stay in a mental hospital without any visits except a call from Wilson.
    • Taub and Thirteen were dropped out with Taub being absent for four episodes while Thirteen only missed two and were present in the two others although she wasn't on the team anymore.
    • Cameron and Thirteen had it worse. The first left the team and only came back for two episodes while the second abruptly vanished in sixteen episodes of the seventh season before returning until the end. She also came back for three episodes of the final season.
    • Cuddy wasn't on the show anymore after the seventh season. Foreman wanted to tell House her new place but he cut him saying that he didn't need any details.
    • Also, Chase and Taub didn't appear in the first four episodes, leaving House to find the money in order to rebuild a team. Taub also missed one episode where he must take care of his daughter while Chase left the hospital (because Jesse Spencer was cast on another show) near the end of the series.
    • Foreman missed a few episodes for the final season while Wilson only was absent in two. Adams and Park weren't present in one (not the same). Possibly explained by the fact that the actors agreed to drop their salary out in order to save the show.
  • How I Met Your Mother did a good job hiding Alyson Hannigan's pregnancy during season 4, but had to cover her absence in episodes 20-23. In the Cold Opening to episode 20, Barney tells her a dirty joke. She's so offended she doesn't return for three weeks, the end of episode 23, having finally got over the joke. In case you're interested, The Other Wiki says the joke is as follows; "What's the difference between peanut butter & jam? I can't 'peanut butter' my dick down your throat."
  • iCarly:
    • Sam is absent in "iWon't Cancel the Show" due to Jennette McCurdy being in the hospital for a tonsillectomy. It is mentioned that she is in juvie for shoving a hot chili dog down a foreign dignitary's pants. In this case, though, her absence is pivotal to the episode's plot.
    • Noah Munck (Gibby) was the only main cast member still under 18 at the time and couldn't work as many hours per day during shooting. This normally led to his character mentioning how he had to leave all of a sudden (usually making a comical exit) halfway during scenes that he initially was slated to have lines in the entire scene, while his original lines were rewritten for someone else such as Freddie or Sam to say. Sometimes if an episode ran long, they edited a scene out that Gibby was supposed to do on the web show, from the actual episode. The writers then had the other characters mention how they plan to cut Gibby from that week's web show. Occasionally Hilarity Ensues.
    • In "iBalls", Carly was sent off to take care of her grandfather in Yakima and only seen at the beginning and end of the episode. This was because Miranda Cosgrove had broken her ankle in a bus accident while touring and had not healed enough yet.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: Ryoma Sengoku disappears from the plot for about four episodes leaving Yggdrasil Tower (and the rest of Zawame City) via escape pod when the Helheim vines start taking over because actor Tsunenori Aoki was booked for a stage play at the time.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit does a variation on this a lot, with characters appearing in the first few minutes and dealing with an active case off screen, taking some time off or in Stabler's case, usually something involving his family with the partners switched for the episode, though interestingly enough it's not uncommon for a character to get an excuse to leave in the beginning and come back halfway through the episode.
  • Lalaine's character Miranda was left out of the last few shot episodes of Lizzie McGuire, and Lizzie always had some excuse for her not being there (Usually, she said Miranda was on vacation in Mexico). Then The Movie came out without Miranda. The poor girl missed her own middle school graduation.
  • This happened often in London's Burning, when the character in question doesn't get spectacularly killed off. A line of dialogue will mention that a missing character has moved on, usually early in the opening episode of a new series, and then that'll be pretty much that. Towards the end of the series, they didn't even bother with that, even for station cook Maggie who'd been a major cast member since the very first episode. Only a few characters ever got a proper send-off without dying.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: In the third season Required Spinoff Crossover, "The Galetea Affair". In The Teaser, Solo and Kuryakin are attacked by THRUSH agents while on the Venetian canals, and Solo winds up diving into the canal to save his life. In the first scene of Act I, it's mentioned that Solo has caught pneumonia as a result of his swim in Venice, and for that reason, Mr. Waverly teams Kuryakin with The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.'s partner, Mark Slate. The Girl of the Week is built up for the entire episode as Slate's Love Interest, only to have Solo appear in The Tag to sweep her off her feet and away from Slate.
    • In the The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Mother Muffin Affair" broadcast three days earlier, Slate does not appear. Solo teams up with April Dancer.
  • M*A*S*H did this occasionally; Father Mulcahy would be visiting the orphanage or someone would be on leave.
    • Radar spent an unusually large amount of time "away on R&R" in the character's last couple of seasons, due to actor Gary Burghoff's contractually-limited appearances.
  • Miami Vice: At the beginning of the first-season episode "The Home Invaders," Crockett mentions that Tubbs is visiting his girlfriend in New York. Philip Michael Thomas was actually injured during a stunt in the previous episode, "Made For Each Other."
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Unlike Bambang's father and aunt, Bambang's uncle Trisno and cousin Dian are played by guest stars so they don't appear when Bambang's home is visited. In episode 40, Trisno is said to be away in Bali while in episode 65, Trisno and Dian are said to be already at home when Bambang stays besides his father's grave and then said to be taking care of the death certificates when Bambang comes home.
  • Due to Steven Hill refusing to work Friday evenings and Saturdays because he was an Orthodox Jew, which screwed up the shooting schedule and eventually led to him being fired, Dan Briggs doesn't appear in many episodes of Mission: Impossible after the team briefing scene. Some (but not all) of them have him claim he can't be in the field for that episode because someone involved in the plot they're defusing knows him and would realize something was up if they saw him there. The final season explained Lynda Day George missing the first third of the season (she was pregnant) by saying that her character, Lisa Casey, was on assignment in Europe.
  • In Season 10 of Murdoch Mysteries, morgue scenes in episodes that don't feature Miss James will mention that she's being kept busy at the medical school.
  • Pete and Manu missed quite a number of episodes My Kitchen Rules's Season 6. Both judges were completely absent in the 3rd round of the competition, as the "secret teams" were led by Colin Fassnidge. Colin also took Manu's place as the co-judge of the season's first People's Choice Challenge. The exact reason of their absences weren't really explained, but Pete and Manu did mention that the two won't be traveling with the contestants for all their challenges because Colin will do it instead.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a good number of instances of this in its KTMA season, but seeing as Joel and the 'bots can't leave the Satellite this resulted in such bizarre episode plots as Crow being frozen and decorated as a Christmas tree and Joel being locked out of the ship stark naked—although sometimes it wasn't explained at all. In the season, Trace Beaulieu (Crow/Dr. Forrester) was absent three times and Joel Hodgson was absent once.
  • In Nashville's "That's The Way Love Goes," Juliette's participation is limited to talking to Avery on the phone off-camera due to Hayden Panettiere's pregnancy. (Because Juliette was also pregnant, this is the only season three episode where Hayden doesn't appear.)
  • Repeatedly on NUMB3RS:
    • When Peter MacNicol took a temporary leave of absence during the second season to be in 24 his character, Larry Fleinhardt, (a professor of Cosmology) spent six months on the International Space Station. Since the showrunners knew about it well in advance, they wrote in a several-episode build-up to the launch.
    • In the same season, Diane Farr (Megan Reeves) took a temporary leave of absence because she was pregnant. This was written into the script as Reeves being forced into a special assignment, which would form the basis for much of her character arc in Season 4.
    • This escalates to the point of ridiculous in the last two seasons, due to budgetary concerns. It was too expensive to have as many series regulars as they had appear in every episode, so it became common for only three of the four supporting FBI agents to be present at a time. This is usually given a Hand Wave or completely ignored, but it does get lampshaded in "12:01 AM" (with Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno) being the absent character in that episode).
  • During the filming of series four of Only Fools and Horses, Lennard Pierce (Grandad) was suddenly taken into hospital, which was explained by having a character ask after the missing Grandad's health. Pierce then died; in the next episode, Grandad's funeral is held and he is replaced by his brother, Uncle Albert.
  • On Parks and Recreation, the writers pulled out all the stops to justify Andy's absence in season 6 while Chris Pratt was filming Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - the entire show took a two-episode trip to England (where Guardians was filmed) and left Andy behind.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse: The writers did this throughout the later seasons as Paul Reubens wanted to minimize his time onscreen. Pee-wee would be out or otherwise incapacitated (i.e. catching cold or developing a toothache), and episodes would either be carried by the supporting cast, be clip episodes, or rely more heavily on cartoons such as Penny and El Hombre.
  • When the crew of the Red Dwarf is resurrected in Series VIII, the first crewmembers to appear are Lister's old drinking buddies Selby and Chen. Petersen, previously the most prominent member of the group, isn't there, because he's drunk.
  • One of the leads of Route 66, George Maharis, took a leave of absence due to illness, and a few lines of dialogue assign his character Buz the same fate. When Maharis left for good, there are one-line mentions for about two episodes afterward about how Buz is ill and in the hospital again, but no resolution is ever really given. It turns into a Chuck Cunningham Syndrome scenario, with Tod never mentioning his former best friend and Heterosexual Life Partner again. Maybe he died.
  • A season premiere for Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina (and her aunts) getting ready for Valerie, one of her prominent classmates from last season, to move in, but then later receiving a call from her and finding out that Valerie's staying in Alaska.
  • Star Redd Foxx got into a salary dispute with the producers of Sanford and Son during its fourth season and was said to be going to St. Louis for a funeral. The funeral apparently lasted a few months. Luckily, the supporting cast, especially Grady, was more than capable of filling the void and Foxx returned for the final two seasons before his (and co-star Demond Wilson's) salary dispute killed the show for good.
  • Sliders had Quinn being absent during half an episode. In reality, Jerry O'Connell asked to have some more time in order to participate in Jerry Maguire.
  • Smart Guy has an episode where the eponymous character, TJ Henderson, was absent. It was explained away that TJ was away at a science camp for a week. In addition, it was also somewhat important to the episode, because Floyd Henderson had spent most of his finances on the tuition for the camp, meaning Marcus and Yvette had to get jobs to buy what they wanted. Yvette ended up working in a department store with her (white) best friend; the latter's sole job was following black customers around the store since the owner feared they would shoplift. Marcus got a job at a late-night radio station, despite his dad's insistence that he not get that kind of job.
    • Similarly, in Sister, Sister, one episode had Tia and Tamera being absent for most of the episode because they were out of state. They returned in the last few moments of the episode in question, when Tyreke and Jordan were waiting for them at the airport, but they learned from an announcement that the twins flight had been redirected (or so they thought), so they decided to wait out for them, only for the twins to come off shortly after they left.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Crusher's absence during season two was explained as being "transferred to head Starfleet Medical". In real life, Gates McFadden's complaints about the writing had led to a falling out with the showrunner, and instead, season two returned with a different approach in Dr. Pulaski played by Diane Muldaur. This didn't work out, and there was pressure to bring Crusher back, so she returned in season three, where she remained for the rest of the run. No explanation was given for where Pulaski went.
    • Numerous examples in The Next Generation and other Star Trek spinoffs of an actor needing to take the week off and their character given a significantly reduced role, especially cases where the actor was directing an episode:
      • In "The Offspring", Commander Riker is mentioned to be "away on leave" early on due to Jonathan Frakes directing. Riker later appears in a scene that plays his being away and not aware of the plot happening for comedy.
      • In "Genesis", Dr. Crusher is incapacitated early on by an acid blast to the face, which gave Gates McFadden time to direct.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In "Bad Guys" Sam Carter was absent from the team. One of the characters explained that she was in Washington briefing the President about the events of a previous episode. "Bad Guys" hinged on the fact that the team couldn't get the Stargate working and had she been present, the episode would have lasted all of ten minutes (the time for her to hook up her Naquadah generator). So it was a good thing overall.
    • Sam was also absent from the first few episodes of season 9, appearing only briefly by video feed, to accommodate Amanda Tapping's pregnancy.
    • When Michael Shanks wasn't available to film an episode due to appendicitis, the writers had to explain why his character Daniel didn't accompany the team on the mission. Showing some very straightforward thinking, they decided that Daniel had appendicitis too. Interestingly, he is still recovering at the beginning of the next season, filmed months later, but set a few weeks in the future.
    • Other episodes where Daniel needs to be absent for most or all of the episode will explain that he's on a dig on another planet. Teal'c will go to spend time with the Jaffa army for the same reasons. Of course, Teal'c has a nearly perfect attendance record in terms of actually appearing in the episodes (only missing one episode in season 8; other episodes which didn't involve him actually showed him leaving or coming back).
    • Parodied in "200" - when one of the leads for Wormhole Extreme looks like he could be completely absent, the SG-1 crew suggests they write his character as turning invisible - and use fake flashbacks of this happening to O'Neill to set the precedent.
    • Speaking of Colonel O'Neill, his screen-time was gradually reduced alongside a promotion to Brigadier General and move to a staff position, which allowed him to be gracefully written out of the spin-offs as simply having retired from the Air Force.
  • One episode of Taxi, shot while Judd Hirsch was filming his Oscar-nominated performance in Ordinary People, only has Alex (his character) in it for one scene — a phone conversation at the very end — saying that he was on a skiing trip.
  • Teen Wolf has several examples of actors leaving before their characters planned arc is over. In some of the cases, the actor gave enough notice for them to write in a death scene, but others left without that, forcing the writers to improvise.
    • Colton Haynes, who played one of the main characters Jackson Whittemore waffled over leaving at the end of season 2 to join the cast of Arrow, to the point where they actually shot a death scene for him. Then he indicated he would be back for season 3, so they aired the version of the finale where Jackson survived... only to not come back for season 3, forcing the writers to throw in a bit of dialogue about him moving to London with his parents, and he was never mentioned again.
    • Adelaide Kane who played Cora Hale left after only one season, so she was written as moving back into hiding in South America.
    • Daniel Sharman who plays Isaac Lahey will apparently not be returning for season 4 due to his commitments to The Originals, but asked the writers to leave the door open to return, so he is being written as moving to France to recover after Allison's death.
  • That '70s Show:
    • The episode where the gang tells of how they all met each other. When Eric met Donna, her mom wasn't there because she "got her finger stuck on something". Actually, Midge had left the show.
    • Done with Leo too as Tommy Chong was in prison.
  • In the final season of That's So Raven, Tanya (Raven and Cory's mother) is said to have gone off to law school in England. Of course, she was absent for the entire season because her actress had left the show.
  • After Suzanne Somers was unceremoniously fired from Three's Company following a nasty pay dispute, her character, Chrissy, was said to have moved back to Fresno to be with her ailing mother. She's never mentioned again.
  • In Torchwood, Martha's absence in Children of Earth was explained by her being on her honeymoon. Which, per Word of God and a scene in the Doctor Who story The End of Time would explain Mickey's absence as well.
  • During Warehouse 13 season 4, we are told that "H.G is God knows where." In reality, Jaime Murray was too busy filming Defiance to be on Warehouse 13.
  • Max Russo's actor Jake T. Austin took a short break from Wizards of Waverly Place to attend college and to finish his role on the Blue Sky Studios film, Rio during the fourth and final season of the series; his absence was explained by a story arc in which Alex botched a transformation spell during a Zany Scheme to restore her powers, and Max was changed to a girl named Maxine (played by Bailee Madison).
  • During the second season of WMAC Masters it originally looked like Eric "Panther" Betts had suffered from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome as he disappeared between seasons without mention, however, a few episodes in Tracer tells Warlock that Panther was previously The Mole working for Jukido (a role the two of them now had) but had become the mask so they had to take him out. In reality, he had broken his hip and thigh during a fight with The Machine and could not compete.
  • Jillian Bell had to miss a few episodes of Workaholics Season 5 to film the TV adaptation of her Idiotsitter videos. In-show, it was explained that Jillian was on leave for National Guard duty.
  • After David Duchovny decided to leave The X-Files, his character's absence was written well in one case and badly in another. Season 8 had him abducted and returned for the last few episodes, which fits well with the show's premise. Season 9 starts off with Mulder gone completely, and fans are never given a straight answer as to why he was missing, save for the flimsy excuse that it wasn't "safe" for him to stay with Scully and their new baby, though no one could remember a threat that would warrant such a measure in season 8, and that him leaving goes against his character.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Impact Wrestling has used this once In-Universe. In the third Throwback Throwdown pay per view, Ross mentions at the beginning of the show that Downtown Daddy Brown can't make it to the main event due to someone slashing his car's tires, which leads to Giuseppe Scovelli Jr. (played by Josh Matthews) to take his spot. In reality, Downtown Daddy Brown was played by Willie Mack, who left the company before the show aired.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Finn's player was absent for a month when Finn was supposed to be talking with the principal. This was explained away as him going into a trance as he used his seer power on the principal, with other characters in the scene commenting on how weird it is.
    • Zia's player was gone for a few months while she was in the middle of helping kidnap an author. This is explained as her experiencing a Teleporter Accident when Vivian uses a portal to get them all away from the scene. When she eventually returns, she ends up in a stranger's house and has to walk back to Vivian's.

    Video Games 
  • No matter what the player does in Dragon Age II, Hawke's younger twin siblings will be out of the picture after the end of Act 1. One always dies during the prologue (which one depends on the player's chosen class); the fate of the other is variable depending on player choices. If taken along for the Act 1 finale, they either die or are conscripted to the Grey Wardens. If left at home, Carver joins the Templars, while Bethany has her magic discovered and is forced into the Circle of Magi. They can optionally be brought back for the DLC campaigns if they're alive, but otherwise, they will not fight at their elder sibling's side again until the very end of the game. This is to reinforce the narrative that Hawke is, ultimately, on their own.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty explained that the reason Otacon was saving the game for Snake during the Tanker Chapter was that Mei Ling was busy during the mission with SSCEN. Of course, that didn't stop her from making a voice cameo after Otacon botches various sayings to tell him off.
    • In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, it was explained that Zero was absent for most of the game because he was under arrest by the Pentagon for supposedly instigating the FOX revolt. This actually turned out to be a very major plot point, because this ends up being the reason why Snake has to quell the FOX rebellion and take in the person responsible.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role:
    • Ashley Johnson's characters Pike and Yasha have this going on (due to her recurring role on Blindspot). For Pike, she picked up extra-party obligations that precluded her traveling with the group (first a church to her deity, and then a bakery in Whitestone). Yasha, on the other hand, merely begins with a reputation for "Yasha-ing" off on Noodle Incident errands.
    • The Iron Shepherds mini-arc exists for this reason — Ashley had to leave for reasons listed above and Travis and Laura were having a child, so right before Laura was slated to give birth, Yasha, Jester and Fjord were abducted by slavers.
  • In the 7th episode of Four Swords Misadventures, the voice actor for Uncle Alfon was unavailable, so they explained his absence as him going to the Kakariko Village milk bar (and Blue implies that this isn't the first time Alfon does something like leaving a note as to where he went).
  • In Neopets, once Shenkuu joined the Altador Cup in 2007, there were 17 possible teams competing, so an odd team out was always written out (due to training accident or some such) in order to make a nice, neat, 16-team bracket. Now fixed in 2010, as Moltara has joined and made it an even 18 teams.

    Western Animation 
  • Avengers Assemble: Black Widow is often missing due to her work with S.H.I.E.L.D., while the Hulk is sometimes implied to be off with his other team.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes often had various members of the team missing for one reason or another, which was usually justified with a Hand Wave line of dialogue. Ant-Man might be conducting a scientific study, Ms. Marvel might be busy with her S.W.O.R.D. work, Characters/{{Black Panther|Title Character]] might be dealing with politics in his native Wakanda, Thor might be visiting his family in Asgard, and so on.
  • Parodied in the Family Guy episode "Inside Family Guy", where the characters are Animated Actors starring in their own show; it's explained that the show's notorious stunt of killing Brian off for a few episodes was done so Brian could star in a remake of Old Yeller.
  • Scarlett and Snake Eyes of G.I. Joe: Renegades are absent from a late season 1 episode, bar a quick dream cameo, which is explained away as them being off on a secret mission. They and said mission appears in the following episode which has everyone else Written-In Absence instead.
  • David notes main character Frida's absence during the Hilda chapter "The Storm". Hilda says she chose not to invite her because she predicts Frida wouldn't be up to it. Later, David wishes they had Frida because she would have a plan for the bad situation they're in.
  • Ice Age: In the Easter special The Great Egg-Escapade, despite taking place after Continental Drift, Shira and Granny are nowhere to be seen in the special. Shira's absence is at least justified by her sleeping in Diego's den, but there is no explanation for Granny's.
  • Justice League:
    • It was often said that Superman was averting a natural disaster somewhere; after all, having Superman around every episode would often undermine the tension. Subverted once when he actually showed up later in the episode saying the disaster turned out to be relatively minor.
    • This happened pretty often to other members too, as most episodes were missing at least one of the Leaguers, although the absences weren't always explained. One example would be the Christmas episode, which explains that Batman is busy doing monitor duty, although the other absence from that episode - Wonder Woman - is never explained. Of course, even when it's not explained, given that they're superheroes it is easy to assume that they're just busy handling their own crises. Or in that case, she doesn't really celebrate Christmas, given she has actually met Greek gods and is a literal Amazon.
  • Molly of Denali: The episode "Sticker Shock" provides a retroactive example. It reveals that John and Jay, Tooey's older brothers, were away at college, which explains why they didn't show up often in prior episodes.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Look Before You Sleep" (which only has three main characters to begin with) showed Twilight Sparkle explaining that Spike is away in Canterlot.
    • Notable mainly because there are many episodes where main characters don't appear, including Spike several other times, but this is the only one that actually bothers to explain why no appearance was made (although, admittedly, since they were explaining why Spike wasn't asleep in his own bed, they at least had a good reason for explaining this one if no other).
    • The episode "Just For Sidekicks" explains why Spike doesn't appear in "Games Ponies Play", the episode that aired immediately after.
    • The episode "Amending Fences" has Twilight visit Canterlot to make amends with her old friends before she left; among the ones mentioned by Spike at the beginning, Lyra Heartstrings was the only one not present, with Minuette explaining she's back in Ponyville.
  • In The Owl House episode "Hunting Palismen", Amity is notably absent from Palisman Pairing Day, something Luz brings up to Willow. When informed that Amity is staying home for the day, she notes that it makes sense since Amity is probably avoiding her out of embarrassment for kissing her at the end of the previous episode.
  • Rugrats, "All Growed Up" gives us a triple dip of this trope:
    • First, the Pickles brothers are boarding a bus driven by their Grandpa:
      Dil: Hey Grandpa. How's Grandma?note 
      Grandpa Lou: Still off cruising the Nile. She sends her love. (to the others) Hang on kids, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!
    • Later, we have two back-to-back character absence acknowledgments while everyone who's left is practicing for a disco dance:
      Didi: Poor Kira is missing all the fun.
      Betty: Hey, Chazzster, thanks for filling in after Howie's little mishap practicing his dance moves.
    • All Grown Up! (which incidentally, the above Rugrats episode spawned) had a Christmas special without Angelica (a feat in and of itself, because on Rugrats, Angelica was the main plot of that show's Christmas episodes), with Susie saying one line about Angelica spending her holidays in Aspen, Colorado. They also explained Dil's general absence in a vacation episode by showing him sick in his room and having Tommy mention that Dil had the flu.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Fraudcast News", Sweat is absent from Blood Sweat And Tears' performance at Geezer Rock. His absence is hinted by Quimby's line of "Thank you, Blood and Tears! Sorry to hear about Sweat." to be due to his either having died recently or had something bad happen to him that forced him not to attend.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Bubble Buddy", to justify why SpongeBob has to create Bubble Buddy instead of just playing with Patrick or Sandy, the former is out getting more giant paper while the latter went south for the winter.
    • In the episode "Choir Boys", SpongeBob mentions when he first appears that Patrick is at a family reunion.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Lightspeed", the titular heroes are nowhere to be seen. The replacement squad, Titans East, had "Returned to Steel City" so the villainous H.I.V.E. five thought they could have free run of the city. A hero does show up later, but he's apparently not affiliated with the Titans (yet).
  • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, Geoff returns from the original series but without his girlfriend Bridgette beside him, and instead a new character named Brody is his partner. During his introduction, Geoff mentions that he was originally going to bring Bridgette to the race, but since she was on a surfing tour in Australia, Brody was his second choice.
  • Winx Club: In the premiere of the 3rd season, Tecna notes that all the Specialists except Sky, plus Mirta (a student witch who transferred to the fairies' school last season, falls under Recurrer status, much loved by the fandom), have RSVP'd for Stella's princess ball. In the next episode at the ball, we see only Brandon and Sky, and in the 4Kids dub Flora notes, "I can't believe Helia's ship broke down," thus explicitly explaining his absence, and implicitly everyone else's (although original Flora was merely noting how Solaria was absolutely splurging for the ball). (It's Flora who notes this because she and Helia are one of the series' couples.)
  • Many episodes of Young Justice won't feature the full team. Since there's a lot of superheroic antics going on outside of what we see in the main plot, the reasons given for whatever member's absence, if any, vary.


Video Example(s):


Sir Topham Hatt on Holiday

Sir Topham Hatt is totally absent in this movie, with Mr. Conductor looking after his engines while he's on holiday.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / WrittenInAbsence

Media sources: