TV Characters Who Went MIA

Judy Winslow – Family Matters

Judy Winslow

Before Urkel’s influence made it all about experiments with cloning and nerd hormone, this TGIF staple focused on the Winslow family and their three kids…and Grandma…and Aunt and adorable baby Cousin. Youngest daughter Judy wasn’t old enough for romantic or rebellious subplots like Laura and Eddy, and Cousin Richie had the cute little kid antics on lockdown. That’s 8 family members vying for screen time it’s actually not too surprising that unremarkable Judy just sort of faded away into the background. It’s just sad though that a show all about family morality just iced out the kid’s entire existence. It’s kids from that kind of unsupportive family dynamic that end up on Celebrity Rehab and making porn under the name Crave…Miller-Boyet you brought this on yourself.

Kate Lockley — Angel

Angel and Kate

Appearing as early as the second episode, Angel meets LAPD detective Kate Lockley when they’re both investigating a string of mysterious murders at a nightclub. Which turned out to be a body snatching demon, obviously. So Kate becomes Angel’s cop friend, his connection on “the force” to help out with confidential information and backup firepower if need be. That is when she’s not freaking out on him, all distrustful of his undead nature and accusing him of committing the crimes himself. That happened a lot.  But after two seasons of playing supernatural detective, the show evolved from freak-of-the-week procedural to an apocalyptic urban fantasy and Detective Kate was never heard from again….even though you can still totally see her in the credits.  Presumably she’s still kicking ass in the world of human-crime, we just don’t care about that anymore.

Chuck Cunningham- Happy Days


He's that guy in the top right who you don't recognize

He’s that guy in the top right who you don’t recognize

Not that anyone really cares, but the Cunninghams did have an older son in a handful of episodes of Happy Days’ first two seasons. He was away at college and wasn’t really around a lot unless there was a holiday celebration or Richie needed some heartfelt brotherly advice. Then Richie started going to Fonzie with his problems, and once the Fonz becomes your moral compass you’re pretty much set.  Whatever, Chuck was boring and unremarkable. But he was the very first television character to go ghost on the audience and thus will always be remembered as the first victim of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.

Mandy Hampton – The West Wing

Mandy and Josh

The first season of any show is always rife with changes as the show runners figure out what kind of show they’re actually making, so you expect some hiccups from episode to episode. You DO NOT expect someone whom you have supposed to be a main character to just suddenly not be part of the story anymore. Mandy Hampton was arguably THE main character of the first few episodes and central figure in several major dramas. Then it was all, hey remember that chick? The White House Media Consultant who dated Senator Russell AND  Josh AND totally embarrassed the President with that whole Memo scandal? Nah we’re only halfway through the first season nobody will even notice.

Violet/Max/Tori — Saved by the Bell

Screech and Violet

Apparently the writers assumed we’d be so wowed by Zak’s fancy giant cell phone and ability to break the fourth wall that we wouldn’t notice three series regulars simply vanishing into what is apparently Bayside’s black hole. Max was the wacky proprietor of, wouldn’t you know it, The Max. In the beginning he was in every episode for just about 30 seconds to pop in, make a stupid joke or do a magic trick then vamanos back to the kitchen. One day he never just never re-appeared, we can only hope he found a better job than glorified lunch lady for spoiled teenagers. Played by a pre-anally defiled Tori Spelling, Violet was Screech’s nerdy and smitten girlfriend…except when she wasn’t. They could have been the Sheldon and Amy of their time but for some reason Violet wasn’t around very much, only appearing in a few sporadic episodes over season 2 and 3. Probably because he was pretty vocal about his megacrush on one Miss Lisa Turtle and Violet is far too fabulous to play second fiddle, but it would’ve been nice to see a breakup scene of some kind. And poor Harley-riding Tori was only a replacement for a distinct lack of Kelly and Jessi in the last season. When 2/3 of Hot Sundae neglected to renew their contracts the show went on without them focusing on the sexual tension between Zak and new tough girl Tori.  Who was completely forgotten when the time came for the previously filmed graduation episode featuring the original gang.  Because fuck new girls when Kelly Kapowski bats her eyes that’s why.

Professor Michelle Slater — Community

Sure she wasn’t one of the Magnificent Seven, or beloved or even very interesting next to the rest of Greendale’s zany characters. Professor Slater was actually half totally forgettable and half raging bitch so it’s really no loss she didn’t stick around. The problem is in the sloppy ass writing that ends a season finale on a love triangle cliffhanger…never to be mentioned again. Who’s he gonna choose, the sophisticated, hot and sarcastic teacher or the edgy, hot and sarcastic college activist? The answer is neither and please just forget about the question entirely.  Leaving the cliffhanger unresolved is a goddamn breach in the unwritten contract between television show and audience.  Not cool Harmon.

Monica Dawson — Heroes


In a show about good and evil with actual fatal consequences it’s really jarring when a beloved character just doesn’t return for the next season with absolutely zero explanation or mention ever again. I mean how can I give a shit if anyone dies after that? And what about poor Niki who died saving Monica? If Monica’s newly saved life is just forgotten that was all for nothing. Which is kinda bullshit since given the option, I’d choose Niki every time.

Wanda and Joey — Big Love


I was super sad about Kathy's death but these matchy sister-wife outfits are so creepy I'm now OK with it

I was super sad about Kathy’s death but these matchy sister-wife outfits are so creepy I’m now OK with it

This one pisses me off so bad. What the Hell happened to Joey and Wanda? Remember Bill’s only brother and his absolutely bonkers wife?  He was lovably dumb and loyal and she was adorably bat-shit insane. They were major characters who had central storylines with significant consequences. Wacky Wanda like to poison those she feels are a threat to her family, including Bill’s gross and violent big papa Frank who definitely had it coming. And though many attempted, only Joey succeeded in straight up murdering the Prophet Roman – leader of their whole twisted cult.  So yea, pretty important shit got done by these two. But they went into hiding after their respective crimes never to be heard from again. I like to imagine they’re really happy somewhere with a few kids and super normal lives…except sometimes maybe a bitchy teacher or two gets poisoned here and there. Basically I just want Wanda to turn into Serial Mom.

Stuart Minkus – Boy Meets World


Every school show needs a stereotypical nerd, and Minkus was the smartest kid in Feeny’s class. And when I say smartest it’s not hyperbole, the boy accidentally invented time travel one afternoon. He was an every-episode staple of season one as the nerdy kid Cory and Shawn beat up to make themselves feel better about not being cool or smart. But he was cool because rather than shrink from his tormentors Minkus wasn’t afraid to stand up to them with threats and multi-syllabic insults. He was also super crushing on Topanga, and this is season one when she’s still super crazy and talks to dead people and is into psychic shit. It was actually her psychic experiment that led to Cory and Shawn basically wishing Minkus away, he literally disappeared and was never on the show again. Until years later when he shows up having apparently just been hiding in another wing of the school, all indignant about being ignored by the duo. It was one of the funniest moment of my childhood and introduced a whole generation to the concept of Meta.

– Amelia Steinmetz