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A character is introduced into a show with a lot of fanfare, and almost at once moves up to main character status (if not necessarily the credits). He/she will often form a close relationship with the existing main characters, and may even have a prior history with a main character, even if this has never been mentioned before. Sometimes the character is a result of Executive Meddling.
For some reason, the character doesn't gel. Maybe the audience takes against him/her, maybe the actor over- or underperforms, maybe the writers realize they have no idea what to do with him/her. Whatever it is, the character will end up leaving the show setting, often for a fairly contrived reason (and they probably won't be back, even if they logically should be at certain points).
Different from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in that the character's disappearance will be explained, even if in a fairly flimsy manner.
Anime and Manga Edit
- In the Orange Islands saga of the Pokémon anime, after Brock was replaced because the producers thought that people would be put off by his eyes and partially due to a poll of popularity where Brock ranked the lowest (and contrary to popular belief, 4KidsEntertainment had absolutely nothing to do with Brock's removal, as the decision was made long before 4Kids started dubbing Pokémon), they replaced him with a more Western-looking character, Tracey Sketchit. It didn't quite work, and many fans were put off by Tracey. Those in charge realized that the Western audience didn't mind Brock's eyes at all, so they chucked Tracey at Professor Oak's place and brought Brock back from presumably being dumped by Ivy in time for the Johto saga. Tracey still makes appearances from time to time when Ash and friends visit Pallet Town, but for the most part he's been retired from the cast.
Comic Books Edit
- Justice Society of America had Magog, who joined the cast when Alex Ross was allowed to collaborate with Geoff Johns on his own "Kingdom Come" sequel. Magog made a huge splash, was subject to a MASSIVE multi-part storyline and ultimately given both his own comic book AND his own spin-off JSA team book! But fans didn't take to him and not only was his comic canceled, but he was killed off in the pages of "Justice League: Generation Lost".
- Maggott and Marrow in X-Men. Marrow in particular, who continued to exist within the X-Men roster largely because editor Bob Harras wanted her to be both the next Wolverine and as a potential spoiler for the Rogue/Gambit relationship. Thankfully, she was put on a bus right before Chris Claremont returned to the X-Books. At least Marrow had a fair number of fans; Maggott, on the other hand, remained as a Scrappy.
- Likewise, the sister book New Mutants had Rusty Collins and Skids, who were added to the book as part of a group of kids called the X-Terminators. While initially important, they were left behind to fend against Freedom Force and search for mutant children while the others went to Asgard. They were turned evil and joined the MLF, due to Rob Liefeld deeming them lame!
- Rusty was later killed in a crossover event. Skids, however, is alive and well and working as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent!
- Jeph Loeb's run on The Ultimates managed to have no less than three of these: Black Panther, Ka-zar, and Shanna. All were introduced and removed in the same arc, without even doing anything significant to the plot, due to backlash from before the story was even published.
- Thunderfox fron Femforce was introduced with much fanfare, but only appeared in eight issues before disappearing. The explanation occured five issues after her last appearance, telling us that her 'book' was cancelled.
- In Red Hood and the Outlaws, Crux was going to be a main team member after being mentioned in interviews and given a backstory, but the fans didn't care for him and the writer decided he didn't fit in. Sent to Arkham, until next needed.
- Jar Jar Binks is an infamous failed attempt at pandering to kids in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Thankfully, George Lucas took the hint and severely reduced his screentime in the following prequels. Nowadays, he usually only shows up as the butt of cheap jokes; and even Star Wars: The Clone Wars, probably the one place where he's given an ounce of respect, only features him maybe once a season.
- The even more hated Granola Girl Rose Tico from the sequels gets reduced screentime in The Rise of Skywalker.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe gave us Callista, a Mary Sue girlfriend for Luke who was quickly written out. She later came back, assimilated by Abeloth.
- Twilight. One could argue Bree Tanner was this in Eclipse. She was introduced as a pacifist newborn who chose not to fight. She was mercilessly killed by the Volturi for no reason. Some thought she would be a better match for Jacob than Renesmee.
Live Action TV Edit
- Babylon 5: Poor Keffer, he was actually utilized fairly effectively during season 2 and was really quite likable, not to mention it made more sense for there to be a dedicated starfury squadron commander in Keffer rather than the senior command staff constantly jumping into fighters. Unfortunately for him, though, his creation was actually the result of Executive Meddling (they wanted a "hotshot Top Gun kind of pilot"), and the series creator/head writer J. Michael Straczynski never forgave him for that and subsequently killed him off, even though he was fitting in just fine.
- Several characters in The OC suffered this, but Lindsay Gardner was an especially glaring example, as she was introduced as a love interest for Ryan and turned out to be a blood relative of three other main characters. She didn't even return for Caleb's funeral, despite discovering he was her real father.
- Likewise in Dawson's Creek. A notable example is Nikki Green, who after a major initial appearance as a rival/potential love interest to Dawson, was dropped only a few episodes later.
- In fact, Dawson's Creek might have used this trope more than any other series. Many secondary characters vanished in between seasons, with flimsy reasons given for their disappearance. Gretchen Witter, for instance, was introduced in Season 4 as Pacey's sister and Dawson's childhood crush. After spending the entire season as practically a main character, she moved away and was never seen or mentioned again.
- Thats Life (the American dramedy, not the British consumer protection show) featured a variation with one of the original cast as being shooed out: Candy Cooper, one of the protagonist's best friends, was written out half-way through the first season.
- Megan Donner of CSI: Miami had the same fate.
- In Happy Days, Pinky Tuscadero and the "black drummer" from the band were both hyped in promos as new characters, but neither appeared for more than an arc before disappearing. Pinky's sister Leather was a stand-in for Pinky -- whose actress apparently caused problems -- but even she did not appear very often. Other examples include down-home hick cousin K.C. Cunningham and Fonzie's temporary girlfriend and her daughter for the first post-Richie season.
- Regarding the black drummer: it's possible he disappeared because he had previously performed in porn. Not exactly the sort of thing you want hanging over a "family" show.
- Nikki Carpenter from season 3 of MacGyver. She was written as a potential love interest for the title character, only for the producers to discover that female fans did not want Mac to have a regular girlfriend. About halfway through the season, she is mentioned as being on assignment in South America and is then never heard from again.
- In Scrubs, Julie Miller was Brother Chucked after the writers realized that she was a Dr. Cox Distaff Counterpart, but with the key difference of not having any redeeming qualities, and his ex-wife Jordan already having that position, therefore making her a completely superfluous character.
- The Applewhite family from season 2 of Desperate Housewives, and Kayla Scavo from season 4.
- A better example would have to be Ana from season six. For some time, there was quite some buzz over her entrance, only for her to be reviled by many fans on message boards. She eventually got Put on a Bus to New York... literally.
- The Muppet Show had Fleet Scribbler, tabloid journalist. One show, a few mentions later, and he vanished. The critics loved him. The writers hated him.
- Just Shoot Me had Vicki Costa, a brash hairdresser whom Jack brought in to help make the magazine hipper. Everyone else's story lines were sidetracked to revolve around her -- Jack immediately respects her, Elliot immediately falls for her, Nina feels threatened by her, Finch thinks she's really hot, and Maya is obsessed with getting Vikki to open up to her. All the while, Vikki's too cool to really participate in the plot and usually has to be pursued by the other characters. It's been suggested by somewhat dubious sources that forcing her character into the cast was an aggressive attempt by executives to give Rena Sofer a star vehicle. Ratings plummeted after her introduction, she barely lasted half a season, and they didn't even air her farewell episode.
- Nikki and Paulo from Lost were suddenly introduced in the third season as regular characters. The idea was to shine a light on what was happening with some of the other survivors who were not main characters. The characters were written to be somewhat unsympathetic at first to give them an arc, much like many of the other main characters. However, fans didn't like the new characters, nor the artificiality of their sudden inclusion. Luckily, the writers had sensed the incoming backlash and "scrapped" the idea, chosing to give them a gruesome death in a single character-centric episode. Happy now, Losties?
- West in Heroes. His much-trumpeted relationship with Claire ended in the final episode of Series 2, leaving a way for him to be left out in the future because he was poorly received by fans. The show's creator has stated in an interview that one of the mistakes he made with this series was writing the romance badly.
- West did, however, appear in the graphic novels that run concurrent to the television show, as one of the freedom fighters working with Rebel. He's not nearly as annoying when he's not around Claire, but he did not reappear on the show.
- Or maybe it was because it was a comic. The role may have been miscast.
- He also played a role, though off-screen, in the last season, when Peter visited him to gain his flying ability.
- Similarly, Alejandro and Maya were included in season 2 and initially teased as major characters. After much angst, Alejandro is murdered by Sylar, Maya is cured of her Unfortunate Implications powers, and they are never referenced again.
- Monica Dawson was written out the same time West was and was equally hated.
- DL could count seeing as he wasn't introduced until episode 5. He was killed offscreen in possibly the lamest way possible. (Niki developing a THIRD personality WHICH IS NEVER SEEN AGAIN)
- West did, however, appear in the graphic novels that run concurrent to the television show, as one of the freedom fighters working with Rebel. He's not nearly as annoying when he's not around Claire, but he did not reappear on the show.
- Tori on Saved by the Bell, whose presence was so jarring that Zack, Lisa, Slater, and Screech went through their senior year again. (The producers wised up and brought Tiffani Amber Thiessen back for the College Years.)
- This is a zig-zag. The final season had its episode count doubled very shortly before shooting, and Thiessen (and Elizabeth Berkeley) refused to sign a new contract for the extra episodes.
- After the death of James Beck (Private Walker), Dads Army brought in a Suspiciously Similar Substitute in the form of Private Cheeseman, who was part of a major storyline in which he joined the platoon so he could report on them for the newspaper he wrote for. He was not well liked by either viewers or some of the cast (John Laurie is on record as saying that both the actor and character were fast approaching Spotlight-Stealing Squad status) and was written out after the seventh series.
- Lauren Graham played efficiency expert Andrea for a few episodes of News Radio. With that writing staff, the character was probably doomed to begin with. One story has it that Andrea was introduced as a potential replacement for Khandi Alexander's Catherine Duke. After a few episodes, Graham got cold feet about joining the cast when another well-liked actress was being pushed out. Sadly, Catherine was written out anyway.
- The Ferrera family on Eastenders was introduced to compensate for the lack of South Asian characters on the show. They were introduced with a great deal of hype, but became immensely unpopular despite at least one storyline that threatened to elevate them to Spotlight-Stealing Squad status. Viewers complained that these characters were deathly boring and the writers Did Not Do the Research into the Ferreras' ethnic background. Finally, one actor had to leave the show because of problems with his permit to work in the UK, and the rest of the family was then written out due to their unpopularity.
- Sadie from Grey's Anatomy is almost too perfect an example of everything mentioned at the top of the page: she shows up out of the blue in Season 5, where it's revealed that she was apparently Meredith's BFF in med school, despite having never been so much as mentioned by Meredith prior to this. Originally intended to become another major intern character as well as a lesbian romantic foil for one of the series regulars, she stuck around just long enough for her to prove she was not only crazy incompetent but also just plain crazy. Promptly quit her job at the hospital before the end of the season.
- Doc in season 2. It seems that the only reason he died from Soap Opera Disease was simply because the writers didn't want to deal with him anymore.
- Cousin Pam on The Cosby Show.
- Kara of Smallville is a "writers didn't know what to do with her" version. She was an interesting side character for about five episodes, then bigger and better ways are found of keeping her out of things. She spends a great deal of time wandering with amnesia, returns fully for an episode or two before it's revealed that Brainiac is impersonating her and has her trapped in the Phantom Zone. When Brainiac is defeated, she is not freed and the show goes on without her as normal. She finally does come back for one episode before deciding at the end, "Hey, I'll just fly into space in a random direction and hope I run into some other Kryptonians." She was never seen or mentioned again to date.
- However, they did bring her back in season 10, though this might be a case of a season-long Back for the Finale
- Also from Smallville: Lex Luthor's long lost half-brother Lucas from season two. He appeared in one episode (which was almost painfuly bad) and was immediately Put on a Bus ride from which he never reappeared; no one has ever even mentioned him again. Also something of an Aborted Arc, given the amount of build-up to his appearance.
- Lana Lang's real father was revealed to be Henry Small in Season 2. They managed to get along with each other, and Henry appeared (as a distracting subplot) in 5 episodes of that season. Finally, Lana realizes their relationship is putting a strain on Henry's marriage and advises Henry that he should distance himself from her and put more focus on his own family. He must have REALLY taken that advice to heart, since he was never seen or heard from again.
- The second season of Charmed introduced Jenny Gordon, neighbor to the main characters. Beyond living with her hot uncle (a convenient love interest for Piper), she was apparently important enough to get mentioned in the opening credits, but moved away to live with her parents before she actually did anything important, while her uncle remained a recurring character throughout the rest of the season (after season two, he also inexplicably disappeared).
- He was seen putting a For Sale sign up in the season 2 finale. He didn't much care to be around witches and warlocks. Being turned into an 80 year old man (albeit temporarly) can do that to a guy.
- Community mocks this mercilessly with Jack Black's appearance as "Buddy", a student who has allegedly been in the gang's Spanish 101 class this entire time. The entire main cast are either weirded out by his sudden, unexplained appearance in their lives or convinced he's a murderous psycho. The episode ends with Owen Wilson suddenly appearing and offering Buddy a spot in the "cool" clique.
- Doctor Who had one early in its long run. In the fourth and final part of The Myth Makers (set during the Trojan War), a Trojan handmaiden named Katarina snuck on board the TARDIS and became the First Doctor's latest companion. She was promptly killed off in the following adventure, the 12 part epic, The Daleks' Master Plan...in part four. According to the actress who played Katerina, her death scene was the very first scene she was filmed in. This means that the writers created the character, tried her out, decided she wasn't working, and dropped a bridge on her before a single scene of her had been filmed (and possibly before the character was even cast).
- Kamelion, a shape-changing robot who joined the Fifth Doctor and his companions on board the TARDIS. Kamelion was an actual Real Life robot...built by a guy who promptly died without telling anybody how to operate the blasted thing. Technically, Kamelion was a companion for nearly a full year. In practice, he only showed up in 2 adventures, the one where he came onboard the TARDIS and the one where the writers said, "Enough's enough," and Dropped a Bridge on Him.
- Josie Sutton on Cold Case was given a mysterious Backstory and complicated relationships with the regular cast before being Put on a Bus four episodes later.
- Married... with Children had Seven, a little boy who was adopted by the Bundys. Seven was forced on the show by Fox execs, who saw how popular the cute kids on other sitcoms of the time were and decided that's what the Bundys needed (even though their ratings were just fine.) Fox hyped the kid's arrival to no end, but Seven was resoundingly hated by fans and writers alike. The main problem was that the writers couldn't do anything with him: the show's humor came from mercilessly abusing the characters, but that wouldn't work with a little kid. So Seven just kind of stood around in the background doing nothing for most episodes. After half a season of this, the writers removed him from the show entirely. His picture shows up on a milk carton a few episodes later, as both a quick gag and an explanation for his absence.
- Marcus from The Suite Life On Deck, a former hip-hop star who came to the ship to try and live a (fairly) normal life, was introduced to the series with a decent amount of fanfare, quickly receiving a Promotion to Opening Titles and becoming a Regular Character soon after. He left the show a season later to become one half of a Pair of Kings
- Lana Sheilds on Three's Company, the foxy older lady who was trying to get Jack in bed. They ran a few good episodes featuring her chasing after him then...nothing.
- Degrassi the Next Generation introduced multiple short-lived New Guys between Seasons 7 and 8. Thankfully as it's a school characters vanishing from the center stage is easily handwaved away.
- Season 7 gave us Damian who started off as Manny's love interest, quickly became Emma's love interest, then quickly became Liberty's love interest. And at the end of the season he's gone because he graduated... and all three girls want nothing to do with him.
- Kelly, Leia, and Blue in season 8. Kelly was the cool stoner roommate for Manny, Emma, and Liberty. Quickly put in a love triangle with Manny and Emma, then became Emma's new romance. He's never seen again after he breaks up with Emma in Season 9. Leia and Blue were never fleshed out, Leia's a pathological liar trying to fit in and Blue is a tall dreamy artist who can net himself any girl he wants. When Blue and Holly J don't work out, Blue slowly fades into the background. Leia appears for two episodes in Season 10, but after that she's dropped from the credits.
- Star Trek Deep Space Nine had Shakaar, who was mentioned early in the show's run as being Major Kira's former resistance commander. After he actually appeared in person he went from being a dirt farmer to being head of the Bajoran government, then was revealed as the only man that Major Kira had ever loved, before finally being Put on a Bus, all the space of three appearances. In this instance the writers actually did like Shakaar (even if the fans didn't) and intended to make him an important recurring character, but actor Duncan Regehr's other work commitments put a halt to this plan.
- An odd example from Merlin: in the first episode of season two a new knight called "Sir Geraint" in the credits was introduced, who seemed to function as Arthur's second-in-command and was given several promotional shots. He was never seen after the first episode, possibly because the second episode introduced... Sir Leon!
- Whos the Boss: During the fall of 1990, a cute kid named Billy (Jonathan Halyalkar) briefly joins the Miceli-Bower household, purportedly as a comic foil to Tony Danza's male lead character; the idea was that Billy's parents had died several months earlier in a car accident, and that Tony (both he and Billy were from the same Bronx neighborhood) would be the perfect person to raise him. Although a promising actor, Halyalkar had problems meshing with the cast (according to Katherine Helmond in a series retrospective that aired on E!), plus he came off as annoying to audiences. By the end of the season, Billy had gone to live with a new foster family, and he was retconned out of existance.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Riley Finn, introduced in season 4 to be Buffy's new love interest after Angel got his own series. He was never really accepted by the fans, and got written out again in season 5.
- Law & Order SVU added Kim Greylek in Season 10 to replace the disbarred Casey Novak. Her cold demeanor didn't win over fans so after 15 episodes she was quickly booted and replaced with the returning Alex Cabot.
- Dallas had an interesting case with Jack Ewing, played by Dack Rambo. He was brought in near the end of season 7 to replace the departing Patrick Duffy. He had a major roll in the All Just a Dream season 8. When Duffy returned for season 9, the character was no longer needed and Put on a Bus with very little time having passed in show, while two years of real time had passed.
Newspaper Comics Edit
- Uncle Max in Calvin and Hobbes, who had a brief storyline and then left the strip permanently, partly because Max did not bring out any new sides of Calvin, thus making the character redundant, and also because Bill Watterson found it too awkward to write dialogue in which he never called Calvin's parents by their names.
- Somewhat prophetically, in 1973 a character named Poochie debuted in Peanuts. She was a little girl who used to live in the neighborhood, who supposedly was the first to refer to Charlie Brown by his full name and who almost adopted Snoopy before choosing another dog. After appearing in a few Sunday strips, she disappeared without a trace.
- There was also Charlotte Braun, who appeared in a dozen strips in the 1950's before evaporating. She had a loud voice and ... that's about it. Originally she was to be a female foil for Charlie Brown, but was no more interesting in the role than Lucy was. There's a hilarious response letter that Schulz wrote to a fan who didn't like the character, featuring Charlotte with an axe in her head.
- Poochie was mentioned a couple of times later on, usually when Snoopy was adamantly refusing to accept her Valentine's Day card or send her a Christmas card.
- Pearls Before Swine had creator Stephen Pastis introduce a character named Leonard who wore a bear costume. He was actually a third roommate who lived with main characters Pig and Rat. He only appeared in about a week's worth of comics and Word of God said the character just wasn't working. As acknowledged in the strip itself, he was killed off by getting his head stuck in a toilet and drowning.
- In the WWE, Kevin "Big Poochie" Nash (though nicknamed more for his Spotlight-Stealing Squad nature). Came in with lots of history (he was, after all, Diesel back in the early '90s, but wrestling fans aren't supposed to remember that) and an infamous Real Life friendship with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Scott Hall, and X-Pac (his teammates in the nWo). His presence seemed to leave a bad taste in a lot of fans' mouths, and after his second quad tear, he left for another several years. Why Hall and X-Pac didn't get a Shoo Out the New Guy treatment is anyone's guess.
- This is actually fairly common in wrestling. Whenever a wrestler debuts and is immediately hated by the fans, promotions will usually either retool him with a different gimmick, or put him on a bus. An example would be Beaver Cleavage, who was heavily hyped by the WWE prior to his debut and lasted all of a week before becoming Chaz.
- A more recent example was Kizarny. The gimmick was that he was apparently a carnival/circus performer so he always spoke in Carny. Carny is a form of Pig Latin commonly used by carnival folks (duh) and wrestlers, where you put "iz" before the first (or maybe all) vowels of a word. This, of course, made nearly everything the guy said unintelligible and the character was dropped before he could even debut save for one match against MVP.
- In 80's WWF a lot of vignettes were filmed hyping a wrestler named Outback Jack. This was basically Vince's attempt to cash in on the success of Crocodile Dundee. After months and months of hype, fans were treated to some of the worst "wrestling" ever performed in public. Jack was shown the door in short order.
- ECW and WCW tag team Public Enemy was brought into the WWF as a favor to there-for-a-cup-of-coffee-himself booker Terry Taylor in 1999. They managed to irritate both the fans and wrestlers in short order, and found their way out of the company after being legitimately beaten up during a match.
- The most infamous example though, is The Gobbledy Gooker. He had all of one match before he was never mentioned again, save for a gimmick battle royale at Wrestlemania X-7.
- He does get referenced by the WWE every now and then, albeit only to point out how horrible he was.
- As much as fans complain about all the additional Sonic the Hedgehog characters the newer games have added, Sonic Team seemed to learn their lesson with Silver; after his debut in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 and prominent role in Sonic Rivals 2, he's been demoted to extremely minor roles and is not missed.
- His return in Sonic Generations was met with ire, until people actually fought him. Cue everyone liking him again.
- Subverted HARD by Zavok. After his disliked debut, there was an attempt to get people to like him again in Forces, but it didn't pan out this time. Ever since, he's been in fairly minor roles... yet still getting in over more liked characters, and is a character so despised people wouldn't want to see him at all.
Web Originals Edit
- The guy from this short Cyanide and Happiness video.
- Todd and Travis from Arby 'n' the Chief were introduced, and subsequently removed a few episodes later, because of the enormous backlash they received from the fanbase.
- Parodied in this DMFA strip. The character lasts two half-sized panels and some anguished screaming in the third. Didn't even get to finish introducing himself.
- The second Electric Wonderland comic ended with the introduction of Shroomy's boyfriend, a slacker named Parker. He did not appear in the following story for reasons unknown, although Shroomy still expresssed hope later that he would return. He finally did so in the sixth comic, written 11 months after his disappearance, but only to ask Shroomy for $50. As a result, Aerynn advised Shroomy to break up with Parker and find a more dependable boyfriend. By the time the next comic came out, Parker was officially no longer a member of the Nettropolis Free Press staff, and he wasn't even included in a set of character bios written in July 2010.
Western Animation Edit
- Poochie from The Simpsons, who is an in-universe example. Meddling executives create the Totally Radical character (voiced by Homer) in a clumsy attempt to pander to kids. In his first episode of The Itchy and Scratchy Show, Poochie sidetracks the plot to introduce himself by rapping about all of the reasons kids should just love him. The audience overwhelmingly hates Poochie and the focus being put on him. In the very next episode, the president crudely alters the cartoon himself to kill Poochie "on the way back to his home planet." Krusty then promises the audience that he will never be brought back, to great celebration. The same episode got all meta and dropped a cool guy named Roy into the Simpson family's house, with no explanation. At the end, he moved into an apartment with two sexy ladies.
- The sad thing is, Fox was at first actually serious about the idea of having a new 'hip' character in the Simpsons' household. Of course the writers were against it; and thus they created this parody instead.
- Poochie does make a brief cameo without any lines in another Itchy and Scratchy episode.
- Itchy and Scratchy were also shown to have a number of previous attempts at a newcomer who was quickly dropped in the episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land", including Uncle Ant, Disgruntled Goat (who "had his moments"), Ku Klux Klam, Rich Uncle Skeleton, Flatulent Fox, Dinner Dog, Brown-Nose Bear,Manic Mailman, and others.
- Ms. Choksondik from South Park seems to be designed to be intentionally unpleasant, and takes the empty teacher spot left by Mr. Garrison. Either out of mercy to the audience or simply because her jokes had run their course, the creators eventually kill her off by way of an instantly-resolved Tonight Someone Dies faux-cliffhanger where her death is little more than just a footnote, and restore Mr. Garrison to his previous post.
- That and they might as well fulfill her prophetic name. She may have always been planned to be a substitute teacher while Mr. Garrison took some Character Development.
- In his first appearance, Towelie appears to be a parody of this trope. He appears out of absolutely nowhere, the boys react just enough to get him to wander off periodically, and the episode features a fake commercial for Towelie merchandise (including, just in case, "I hate Towelie" T-shirts). In either plain irony or a deliberate subversion, Towelie would return to the series as a regular in the fall 2019 season of the show.
- Parodied in an episode of Pinky and The Brain, with Larry, who got an awkward Promotion to Opening Titles, and generated a Retool into a Three Stooges knock-off. And plenty of My Friends and Zoidberg moments. In a Lampshade Hanging, he left specifically because Brain pointed out that he didn't gel. Then, at the very end, just as it looked like that Pinky and the Brain will carry on as a duo again, a scientist placed another mouse into their cage, and the mouse introduces himself as Zeppo. The ending reprise of the theme song was then reworked to have Zeppo's name in it in the same manner as Larry. He's gone by before the next episode though.
- And then used for real with Pinky Elmyra and The Brain.
- The Smurfs cartoon show averts this trope by the fact that most of the Smurfs are basically Faceless Masses, identical to each other. A character can be brought in, given prominence for a while, and then be easily written out with no problem and without anybody really missing them.