Mainly talking about stories that span multiple instalments, like TV shows with multiple seasons or a novel series with multiple books.

In my experience, when a main character exits a series prematurely, it's usually a) because their actor was no longer available or b) because they're going to die. What examples are there of major characters in a work who left, but not for either of these reasons? If not examples, how might you hypothetically go about doing it?

I'm imagining a character whose development and arc have reached their conclusion/logical end point. After that, it feels natural for the character to stop showing up, otherwise you might get the feeling of "What exactly is this guy still doing here?" However, major characters like that are usually a core part of a series' identity, so it could feel weird for them to stop showing up altogether.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE! Questions about existing works of fiction are off-topic here unless they're in a writing-specific context - I think this falls on the right side of the line, as you're looking for ways to go about doing this, but I'm wary about it turning into an open-ended list question where people just post every TV series in which this has ever happened (and I'm sure there have been a lot).
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 8, 2023 at 15:31
  • 2
    TV Tropes (obligatory warning: massive time sink!) calls this being Put on a Bus - you'll find quite a few examples there, along with the circumstances behind them.
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 8, 2023 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


I've watched a lot tv shows and have seen a lot of characters leave shows.

And sometimes the creators planned all along for that character to die, or move to another country, or go to prison, etc.

And sometimes the creators decide that there is nothing more interesting to do with a character and so write them out of the show.

And sometimes the actor quit and the creators thought about replacing them with another actor for the same character and decided not to. And sometimes an actor was punished for some reason by having their character written out of the show. And sometimes an actor dies and their character is written out of the show.

There are examples of characters who disappear from a show without any explanation to the audience. The writers and producers just stop making episodes with that character and the audience has to wonder why they are no longer on the show and no longer mentioned by the other characters.

TV Tropes (time waster warning!) calls this the "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" after a character who just was no longer seen or mentioned after the early episodes of *Happy Days.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.