There’s no question that being a writer on a TV show is hard work. Week after week, writers have to come up with entertaining storylines for their characters, ideally without getting too ridiculous. We all know those shows that have just been going for way too long, so it’s important to stay fresh. Along the way, this can lead to some tough decisions being made, and certain characters just have to go.
Usually, a character will get killed off, or move to a different city, but sometimes things don’t get tied up so neatly. It’s crazy how often major characters just disappear, often with little-to-no explanation. Sometimes an older sibling goes to college, never to be seen (or talked to?) again. Other times, they’re hurt or injured, but we never know their fate. Whatever happens to these characters, it’s not pretty. Here are all of the craziest times TV characters just disappeared from their shows.
20. Happy Days – Chuck Cunningham
Happy Days was one of the most successful sitcoms of the 1970s, but there was one character who just didn’t work out. The show centered on Archie Cunningham, who lived with his parents, a sister, and an older brother, Chuck. Chuck caused problems from the beginning when the original actor dropped out and was replaced with Randolph Roberts. The replacement didn’t help the character, and he vanished after appearing just 11 times. Over the course of 11 seasons, Chuck was never mentioned again. In fact, this phenomenon is often still referred to as being “Brother Chucked.”
19. Saved By the Bell – Tori
Saved By the Bell was a huge hit, and the producers at NBC wanted to get as much as possible out of the final season. They demanded that the season have 23 episodes, but stars Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen had only committed to 13. Instead, they made 10 episodes with a new main character, Tori. Audiences hated the character, and she was nowhere to be found in the series finale, which had been filmed with the original cast. She hasn’t appeared in any of the subsequent reunion shows or movies, which is probably for the best.
18. 24 – Mandy
24 has gotten rid of many characters over the years, but most of them just die. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to justify killing off characters on a show about terrorism. But Mandy was one woman who didn’t get such a final exit. In season two, she attempted to assassinate the President, which understandably landed her in jail. Two seasons later, she was pardoned for her crimes after giving the authorities valuable information. Since then, we’ve heard nothing from her, so maybe she’s given up her life of crime and is just working in an office somewhere.
17. Family Matters – Judy
Family Matters was your typical sitcom that focuses on an average family, with two parents and three kids. Or at least, they had three kids for a few seasons. Judy was the youngest child in the Winslow family, and she appeared in the first four seasons as a series regular. But starting with season five, Judy was gone, and no one ever mentioned it. Is that not so strange?! The rumors are that Jaimee Foxworth, who played Judy, asked for more money, and ABC responded by just dumping her from the show. That’s gotta hurt.
16. Heroes – Monica Dawson
Heroes was a cool show, but let’s be honest: sometimes it was kind of a mess. Monica, played by Dana Davis, was introduced in the second season, and she had an awesome power. She had “adoptive muscle memory,” which meant she could perfectly do any physical movement after seeing someone else do it. While I would use this talent to win a gymnastics gold medal at the Olympics, the producers decided to use it… not at all. Monica’s last appearance was the season two finale, and she was never heard from again.
15. Boy Meets World – Mr. Turner
It’s normal for shows to kill characters off, but sometimes they don’t quite finish the job. On Boy Meets World, Mr. Turner appeared for 51 episodes as the cool teacher, giving his students valuable life lessons in and out of the classroom. But all good things must come to an end, and in season four, he gets into a bad motorcycle accident. The last we see is him injured in the hospital, but there’s never any resolution as to what actually happened. Maybe he died, or maybe he’s still lying there in a coma. This just feels lazy, when it would only take two lines of dialogue to explain the whole thing.
14. Boy Meets World – Stuart Minkus
Apparently the writers of Boy Meets World didn’t like spending time on goodbyes. Stuart Minkus was supposed to be a good counterpart to the main characters on the show, but he never really clicked that well. He just disappeared one day, but we later found out what happened to him. In the series finale literal YEARS later, he appeared once more, saying that he got moved to a class on the other side of the hall. Ah yes, that explains the complete disappearance perfectly!
13. Degrassi: The Next Generation – Kendra
Degrassi: The Next Generation basically had a revolving door for its characters, and many of them went missing eventually. The internet even refers to this phenomenon as the “Degrassi black hole.” One character who fell into the hole is Kendra, who was a popular character in the show’s second and third seasons. Apparently, the character was supposed to have sex with Toby, but the actress’s parents weren’t comfortable with this storyline for their daughter. Kendra left the show without a trace, but her brother Spinner stayed around as if nothing had happened.
12. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Deathlok
Marvel pretty much dominates the world of entertainment these days, and they have a lot of characters to juggle. They began their push into TV in 2013 with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it’s been running for five seasons now. One of the original recurring characters was Mike Peterson, better known as Deathlok. We saw a lot of him over the first two seasons, but since then he’s just vanished. His character arc has yet to get any sort of closure, and now the show is definitely busy with other characters. We might never know what happens to Deathlok.
11. Grey’s Anatomy – Erica Hahn
When Dr. Hahn was first brought to Grey’s Anatomy, she was a character that was clearly meant to stir the pot. She was the first woman that Torres dated, and she had no problem getting into arguments with other doctors on the staff. She was great on the show, but after a while, it was time for her to go. But rather than the big sendoffs that other characters have gotten on Grey’s, Erica just got into her car and drove away. It really seems like Shonda Rhimes has better tricks up her sleeve, but I guess she didn’t want to waste them on Dr. Hahn.
10. Reba – Kyra Hart
This is probably the saddest entry on this list. Kyra was Reba’s middle child, but she was mostly missing from the fifth season of the show due to some very real issues. Actress Scarlett Pomers was in the midst of a major battle with anorexia, which forced her to take time off from the show. She got the help she needed and came back for season six looking much healthier. Her absence was never really explained at the time, she was just missing from most of the episodes. But when she came back and other actors asked what she’d been doing, she responded, “I was getting something to eat.” It’s pretty amazing she can joke about it!
9. That ’70s Show – Laurie Foreman
Laurie Foreman was Eric’s older sister, and she was never supposed to be the star of the show. Her character was in college, so she would drop by now and then, just to cause a little chaos. Kelso was basically in love with her, and he would do crazy things to get her attention. For whatever reason, she started to appear less and less, until a point where she just went away. Maybe she’s still at the University of Wisconsin after all these years, but we’ll never know.
8. Scrubs – Grace Miller
Often, when a show has a character with a strong personality, it’s tough to find the right counterpart. Scrubs tried and failed with Dr. Grace Miller, who was supposed to stand up to the stubborn Dr. Cox. It was a fine idea, but the execution was all wrong. The character was blatantly unsuccessful, and she left the show after just six episodes. Her absence probably doesn’t even deserve an explanation, if we’re being honest. Scrubs had plenty of success before and after her appearance, so we can just forget about this one mistake.
7. The Cosby Show – Denise Huxtable
In some cases, real life gets in the way of TV success. Lisa Bonet was beloved as the Huxtable’s daughter Denise, but there was a little problem. Lisa got pregnant when she was in her 20s, but her character was still supposed to be an innocent high schooler. A teen pregnancy didn’t really fit with the show’s usual good morals, and Lisa left the show. They said Denise was at college, but there was no explanation for why she wouldn’t come home to visit even a single time. I think they should have gone the Scandal route and just had Denise carry giant handbags in front of her stomach.
6. Glee – Coach Tanaka
Ken Tanaka was a pretty important character on the first season of Glee, but that was it. He wasn’t even a good football coach, and after his engagement with Emma fizzled out, it didn’t really seem like there was anything left for him to do. Besides that, his character was pretty uncomfortable to watch, so it was his time to go. He was written off the show and quickly replaced with Coach Beiste, who was a much more interesting character. Later in the show, it’s mentioned that he’s living in Oregon teaching driver’s ed, but it doesn’t really matter.
5. Friday Night Lights – Santiago Herrera
Friday Night Lights had a bit of a bumpy ride, and its second season was pretty messed up by the Writer’s Guild strike. One of the biggest casualties of the writing issues was Santiago Herrera, who seemed like a character with potential. After being released from juvenile detention, he comes to stay with Buddy and Lyla, and he quickly makes the football team. There are so many places this storyline could go from here, but it was thrown straight into the trash after the strike ended. Season three saw a lot of changes, and Santiago just didn’t fit in.
4. The West Wing – Mandy Hampton
If your character is named Mandy, you might not have the best job security. Mandy Hampton was a regular character on the first season of The West Wing, but her leaked criticism of the TV President didn’t win her any fans in the White House. She started to appear less and less, and after the first season she was never seen again. The creators of the show felt that her character wasn’t that important in the first place, but everyone still noticed her absence. Fans of the show now refer to disappearing characters as being stuck in “Mandyville.”
3. Friends – Ben
We’re not going to say anything bad about Friends, but this is definitely a plot hole. During the first season, Ross has a son, Ben, with his ex-wife Carol. Played by Dylan and Cole Sprouse, Ben makes several appearances on the show. But mysteriously, once Rachel has a baby, we never see Ben again. Ross might not be, like, the world’s best dad, but it seems like he could see his son at least once a year or something? At least we know the twins haven’t had any issues with his acting career since then.
2. Roseanne – Crystal Anderson
Crystal was one of the many funny supporting characters on Roseanne, but Roseanne Barr liked having the spotlight. It’s never been precisely clear why Crystal was demoted to an occasional guest appearance, but fans speculate that Roseanne wanted less extra storylines that didn’t involve her character. This might make Roseanne sound like an egomaniac, but it also makes sense to not have too many things going on at once. Natalie West has been confirmed to guest star in the upcoming revival season, but she’s still not a main character.
1. Teen Wolf – Danny
If there’s one show that cares the least about consistency, it’s probably Teen Wolf. It’s best not to get too attached to any character because they might be gone by the end of the episode. Enter Danny, who was best friends with Jackson and dating Ethan. Seems important, right? In the season three finale, he revealed that he knows all about the supernatural stuff going on, and then he just disappeared. Like, what other purpose could that big reveal serve other than to make him a more important character?