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Valentine: He was me best mate. I'll never forget him. Ah, well. Onwards and upwards.

Helena: Did you know him long?

Valentine: Who?

Heroes often have to be motivated to pick up The Call, or are simply forced to by chilling events. An all too common way for this to happen is to have their friends and loved ones become Friendly Targets and suffer Death By Origin Story to kick start their quest.

They will thrash and wail, swear bloody vengeance on their killer and go on a multi-season quest to avenge... who was it again? Bob? Alice?

This trope is about the tendency of a narrative to have heroes forget their fallen friends and loved ones with worrying ease. This is both mental and emotional; heroes will rarely reflect on these losses, or even use them in an "And This Is For" speech, and the emotional impact of the loss is rarely ever shown afterward. (And not because they are bottling it up.)

This can manifest as a husband avenging his murdered wife by hooking up with the Action Girl without the smallest bit of guilt, or an orphaned son who quickly puts his parents' smoldering remains out of mind to have fun with his new Five-Man Band. The hero might even Easily Forgiven the culprit without batting an eye. Depends On The Writer, especially on a Long Runner where there are often Loads And Loads of them; if the writer can't remember a character, there's no chance in hell that the characters will.

Granted, a character can't be moody and depressed forever, it would get really old, really fast, but in moderate doses it's actually compelling drama to see them bury their grief and perhaps even forgive (or at least not want to murder) the killer and instead bring them to justice. However, when the dearly departed's loss has all the emotional impact of a Red Shirt or Disposable Woman dying, it can nudge uncomfortably outside of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief Zone.

This trope is also useful for killing a Sacrificial Lamb off in the beginning that the author doesn't want to appear as a main character in the rest of the work, whether to avoid Fridge Logic, or to lessen the burden of the hero on their Heroic Journey. Taken further, the character may be killed off before the story starts and get referenced only in a Troubled Backstory Flashback.

In episodic series, this will always happen to Remember the New Guy? if they die. Just as how they were never mentioned before the episode despite being close friends with one of the main characters, their tragic death will never be mentioned again after the episode.

Contrast Dead Guy, Junior, To Absent Friends and see also Death By Origin Story. When a character simply goes missing, with their ultimate fate unrevealed (to the other characters or to the audience,) yet nobody (in the story) seems to care, it's What Happened to the Mouse?. When it's the villain who can't remember... whoever it was he killed that has made The Hero mad at him, it's But for Me It Was Tuesday. Compare Friendless Background.

Examples of Forgotten Fallen Friend include:


  • Despite criticism claiming otherwise, this is averted in the second season of Code Geass—the death of pretty much any named character gets brought up again. Lelouch and Suzaku definitely experience some Jumping Off the Slippery Slope due to the deaths of Shirley and Euphie, and even if they don't constantly mention them (though once Suzaku is sure that Lelouch got his memories back, he spends plenty of time interrogating him over killing Euphie), both of them are obviously still boiling over their losses later on. Suzaku becomes less nice, and Shirley's death makes Lelouch hate Rolo that much more - his first attempt to kill Rolo was in the next episode.
  • In Transformers Headmasters, Sixshot kills several of Chromedome's oldest friends in front of him, yet Chromedome is always back to normal by the start of the next episode. The death of Abel, Chromedome's best friend in the galaxy, was particularly egregious, as he mourned him for all of one minute and then went back to playing with Wheelie and Daniel.
  • Averted in Gurren Lagann. It takes Simon around two and a half episodes (instead of the usual "one mopey episode and then never mention him again) to recover from Kamina's death, and the event is never forgotten, affecting the entire rest of the series.
    • They named a city after this guy!
  • Outlaw Star: Hilda dies towards the end of the fourth episode. The crew wax reminiscent about her for a few minutes at the start of the fifth episode, then she's mentioned again only a handful of times.
  • Played literally at one point in Naruto. While fighting against Gaara, Naruto can't remember what exactly he's fighting for. Namely, he had forgotten the life lesson taught to him by Haku and the boy himself, a person whose death he had wept over not a few months prior.
    • Naruto respected Haku after he found out he hadn't really killed Sasuke and for sacrificing his life for Zabuza, but don't forget Naruto was about to kill Haku right before this (granted with Haku's insistence), but Haku was not a friend. The forgotten fallen friend was actually Sasuke who sacrificed his life to save Naruto. But Naruto "forgot" this until the Gaara fight because Sasuke got better and Naruto was embarrassed at being saved by his rival so he went right back to treating him the same as before.
    • Averted with Kakashi and Obito. Kakashi often visits Obito's grave, such as during the Third Hokage's funeral and near the end of Part I of the manga. When Kakashi dies (he gets better), he thinks about Obito as well as Rin, whose fate was more ambiguous.
  • Notably averted in the manga of Fullmetal Alchemist, where the death of Nina after being transformed into a chimera in Chapter 6 receives a Call Back in the last chapter.
    • There is also the death of Maes Hughes, which is a HUGE driving motivation for Roy and is thus prevalent throughout the plot.
  • Chor Tempest loses half its members in the first episode of Simoun. Much angst ensues over Amuria and Eri, but the first pair to actually die not only are never mentioned again, they never even get names on-screen.
  • INVERTED in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, in that while Reinhard's friend Siegfried Kircheis dies a quarterway through the 110-episode series spanning several YEARS in-universe, he is still continuously mentioned and thought of by characters and in flashbacks after his death.
  • In the first few episodes of Shakugan no Shana, Yukari Hirai shows Yuji the reality of the world, spurs him to let her enjoy her last days, has her existence consumed, and is never mentioned again.
    • Well it's justified for everyone (Yuji's being the only one that's weird), considering Yukari never disappeared and Shana just took her place, the denizens and flame hazes wouldn't bat an eye at the disappearance of a torch, and Yuji wasn't really close to her and he gained a Love Interest in her replacement.
  • Berserk played with this trope during the Conviction Arc. Guts remembered quite vividly what had happened to his comrades who were all killed by demons during the Eclipse and especially to his lover Casca who survived, but was brutalized to insanity. He used their fates as his motivation for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Griffith, the man who betrayed them, and the Godhand. However, Guts was so embroiled in his hatred and the sadness and grief he suffered that he decided to suffer alone, often forgetting that he was not the only survivor of the Eclipse and that the only other survivor, Casca, was the one he loved the most, but he left her for two years, not sticking around to help or comfort her through the pain she had suffered (which was considerably worse than what he had been through). Godo called Guts out on this, and Guts realized that leaving Casca and forgetting about her pain was his failure.
  • Averted in the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00: after the Time Skip, Feldt styles her hair exactly like Christina's as a tribute to her late friend, and Sumeragi Lee Noriega spends most of the four-year gap drunk and mourning the dead crew members of the first Ptolemaios.
    • This is pretty regularly averted in the entire Gundam series, for that matter - in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, for instance, Amuro gets angry at a Federation officer after they finally reach Jaburo since all they can do for the dead Ryu is give him a posthumous two-rank promotion. He also meets and apologizes to another lieutenant who had been engaged to Matilda Ajan, who died around the same time as Ryu, and much later the death of Lalah is what drives him to truly hate Char for the rest of the series.
  • Subverted in Fairy Tail, which has had three significant character deaths. Lisanna's death is first mentioned in the Phantom Lord arc, and her sibling are seen going to pray for her near the aniversary of her death about 100 chapters later (not to mention her coming back) Ur's death, which also happened in a back story, plays a large roll in Gray's arc, and that she became part of the ocean at the end is actually a significant point 200 chapters later despite not being mentioned once before then. And of course, the death of Simon comes up whenever Jellal is playing a large part in whatever is going on, even if it's usually pushed out of mind when Jellal isn't around.

Comic Books

  • One of the elements of Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom's Backstory is that he wants to accumulate enough power to free his mother from Mephisto's Hell stand-in. Many writers seem to completely ignore this, though it was referenced in the original Secret Wars.
    • That is partially because he already did that.
      • Don't tell us, tell the writers!
  • The Appendix To The Marvel Universe site is loaded with examples of previously important dead sidekicks, teammates, lovers, friends, and relatives (far too many to list here), complete with heroic tears shed, Big No's no'd, and vengeance vowed, who were relegated to obscure footnoteitude once the Revolving Door of Writers made its next quarter-turn. No doubt any other comics publisher with more than a single Story Arc's worth of issues under their belts could draw up similar rolls of "Who's that again?"'s recognizable only to the most scholarly of comic geeks.
    • Averted, at least, by Warpath of X-Force fame. The only times he ever joins a team are when he's looking for revenge. Of course, he's lost a lot of people to the mutant wars, probably more than anyone else, but he's never forgotten his brother or his mother. In fact, he still has yet to forgive Xavier completely for Thunderbird's death, and he chased the man who killed his mother and slaughtered his entire tribe until the guy died. And even that wasn't good enough, so he followed him down to hell to beat on him one more time. And it's looking like Warpath is going to be the one who manages to kill Selene, an immortal psychic vampire who killed the original Hellions off and is using big brother Thunderbird as a zombie.
  • This is one of the many tropes parodied in Adam Warren's Gen 13 story "Grunge: The Movie":

 The Hero (Grunge): For what you did, you're gonna pay, big time! (Psst! H-hey... D'you remember exactly what he did? I kinda forgot...!)

Shaolin Warrior Nun (Caitlin): (whispering) He wiped out your beloved peasant village and murdered everyone in it, including your beloved bro Bobby, remember?

"Kiddo" (Roxy): (whispering) Perhaps now would be a good time for a nostalgic Flash Back or Montage sequence of happier times, back in your beloved peasant village?

  • In the indie comic book Dreamkeepers, in the first issue the main protagonist Mace is attacked by a monster, and shortly thereafter finds his little sister stand-in literally ripped to pieces and splattered all over the walls. Despite a trauma that would send a hardened Marine into an emotional tailspin, he barely mentions her twice in the entire time since and shrugs off her death like he was made of iron. Take note, the protagonist is a thirteen year old orphan. lampshaded at the end of volume two where he wonders if he's a bad person because of it. Of course, Lilith has proven to be a good distraction for him.
  • A meta example occurs in the Justice League of America tie-ins to Blackest Night. A villain tells C-list heroine Doctor Light that once he kills her, the superhero community will briefly mourn but quickly forget about her. He then cites several superheroes (such as Triumph) who were all quickly forgotten about by both writers and fans after their deaths.
  • On a meta level, this could be said for the characters who were killed and or retconned out of existence in DC's reality-warping stories such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint. They are literally forgotten by everyone, including former friends.
  • Averted in Star Trek. Unlike TOS below, Kirk has been mourning Mitchell ever since he was forced to kill him.

Fan Fiction

  • In Christian Humber Reloaded, the main character tends to forget about many of the people he's lost, such as his parents, his brother, the little girl who took him in and her father.
  • This has happened so much to Ron in Harry Potter fanfic, probably from authors that weren't interested in having him in the story, that it was noted in Rugi and Gwena's Tough Guide to Harry Potter that killing Ron off "provides an opportunity for tragedy, weeping, and little need to mention him afterwards."
  • Anyone who Die for Our Ship will be swiftly forgotten.
  • In Transformers Animated: Cybertronian Genesis, Optimus fears that Prowl has become this.



 Luke: "Wow, I can't wait to tell Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru about... oh... yeah..."

    • Also in A New Hope, Luke's best friend Biggs Darklighter whom we meet during the initiation to destroy the Death Star gets killed by Darth Vader during the ensuing battle and after a very brief moment of mourning he is never mentioned again, however in the Expanded Universe he gets mentioned quite a few times and we meet some of his family members.
    • Of course, Leia does Luke one better: she seemingly manages to forget her entire PLANET! In interviews, Carrie Fisher actually expressed annoyance at this trope.
  • The Transformers films.
    • "So sad Jazz is dead. Oh well, we have new friends!".
    • At least they said something for Jazz. Jetfire didn't get so much as a mention after he rips his own spark out to give Optimus his parts to fight The Fallen and is more or less forgotten after Optimus kills The Fallen.
    • In Dark of the Moon, Ironhide is barely even acknowledged as having been killed. Even Que/Wheeljack was given a better, albeit brief eulogy by Bumblebee before Bee went back to kicking ass.
    • The Last Knight heavily implies that Sam Witwicky is dead. Not one of the Autobots, not even Bumblebee, has any sort of reaction to this.
  • In the Peter Pan Fan Sequel film Hook, the mourning period for Rufio is criminally short.
    • To be fair, the Lost Boys—and Peter, before he grew up—don't really seem to comprehend death.
      • In the original book, Lost Boys come and go all the time, either getting killed off by pirates or leaving Neverland. There's one ambiguous line about them being 'culled' when they get too old. Either way, Peter tends to forget about friend and foe alike after they die or otherwise leave. Unlike most of the examples on this page, however, it IS noted by both the narrator and by Wendy (on the one occasion where Peter actually remembers to bring her to Neverland again before she grows up and can't go there anymore. Also all Lost Boys who die are almost instantly forgotten, "Neverland makes you forget."
  • Somewhat averted in The Bourne Ultimatum when Nikki's efforts to get closer to Bourne largely go unanswered because he is still mourning Marie.
  • Bing, Valentine's juggler in Mirror Mask. This is lampshaded, and he doesn't even pretend to miss his anonymous violinist for a moment.
  • The supporting cast in the Evil Dead trilogy all tend to suffer this fate as the hero Ash survives each night and moves from one sequel to the next (each movie begins just a few seconds after the last one's cliffhanger ending), with his dead girlfriend Linda remaining relevant the longest. But the most brazen example is his sister Cheryl, who was the first one possessed by the demons. Her existence, along with two other friends, was skipped right over by the second movie's opening recap, and a recent comic book adaptation of the first movie relegated her from his sibling to a friend-of-a-friend whose Demonic Possession merely annoys Ash. The still more recent musical's version of the story elevates her back to being his sister, mostly so she can spout off Incredibly Lame Puns about being his sibling...

 Evil Cheryl: I'll get you Ash! I'm like a literal Hulk Hogan - I'll get you, brother!

  • At the beginning of the second Austin Powers movie, Austin's wife Vanessa reveals herself to be a Fembot apropos of nothing and promptly explodes. His boss drops a line like "Sadly, yes, we knew it all the time" and the matter is never brought up again.
    • Don't forget the hilarious line right after she explodes:

 Austin (holding Vanessa's hand): I can't believe it...Vanessa, my bride, the love of my life, was a Fembot all along...wait a tic! This means I'm single again! Oh, behave! (laughs while clapping the hand together with his) Yeah! (tosses hand away)

  • In the Wing Commander film, the characters deliberately tried to pretend that their comrades who had died never existed.

Lt. Cmdr. Devereaux: "Who in the hell do you think you are? Let me give you a reality check. In all likelihood, you're going to die out here. We're all going to die out here - but none of us need to be reminded of that fact. So you die, you never existed. Understand?"

    • Later one, after Rosie dies, Blair tries to do this to Maniac, who immediately tells him that it's a bullshit game. In the next scene, Blair tells the same thing to Devereaux, as if he wasn't just playing the same game.
  • Played for serious drama in Bent. By the end of the movie Max has forgotten the names of the people he knew and cared about before entering the camp.
  • Orlando Bloom's wife in Kingdom of Heaven probably counts. He goes on Crusade partly out of the hope that his wife who committed suicide (an unforgivable sin)will be let out of Hell and into Heaven because of his actions here on Earth. But at the end of the film he gets to ride off into the sunset with Sibylla, his one true love. Um hello? Do you remember why you went on Crusade originally?
  • In the newsreel at the start of Citizen Kane, it's revealed that Kane's first ex-wife and their son were killed in a car crash. They are never mentioned in any flashback that takes place after they died. No one ever suggests that among Kane's many personal problems, losing his only child might be among them.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Quicksilver. Despite his Heroic Sacrifice in Avengers: Age of Ultron, no one ever mentions him again. Not even his sister. Given an Author's Saving Throw in WandaVision where it's revealed that Wanda is not over Pietro's death and the Avengers had enough tact to not mention him around her.
    • The Warriors Three in Thor: Ragnarok. Though they were Thor's closest friends, they go unmentioned after they die and Thor is never shown to even learn of their deaths. Even after Loki dies in Avengers: Infinity War, Thor doesn't mention his brother after reaching Nidavellir, his big "And This Is For" moment against Thanos being vengeance for the Mad Titan killing Heimdall.
    • Vision in Avengers: Infinity War. No one is even shown trying to revive him in Avengers: Endgame and he's not even referred to by name in the latter film. Was later justified in WandaVision where Vision's will explicitly said that no one was to try to resurrect him in the event of his death.


  • Older Than Dirt: Averted (and gives a moral on why this trope is necessary) in The Epic of Gilgamesh, as Gilgamesh's entire quest for immortality was to overcome death and bring his only friend Enkidu back to life, as he continuously reminded the reader and everybody he met. In the end, he asks a random person if he knows who Enkidu was, only to be told "no"—which gives Gilgamesh the epiphany that he cannot force his grief on anybody else anymore, and needs to accept it, get over it, and move on with life—and that being famous could be one form of immortality. He then went on to become the god of the dead so the message isn't quite that clear cut.
  • Notably avoided in Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. Roland's defining feature is that he just keeps going, but he frequently angsts about all his companions who have died so he could continue his quest, and when he makes it to the Tower, he shouts all the names of his fallen comrades.
  • In Twenty Years After, the heroes spend half the book trying to save Charles I from Cromwell and eventually fail to prevent his execution (the bad guys weren't quite as stupid as they thought.) Before the king's death, the musketeers are determined to save him or die trying, since he's such a noble person; afterwards they mourn him for about a chapter.

Live Action TV

  • Xander, Willow and Jesse were set up in the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as best friends since a young age, but once Jesse was Killed Off for Real to prove Anyone Can Die in the pilot, no one mentions him again. Maybe his death was too painful to speak about. Let's hope.
    • One might excuse their forgetting, since he's hardly the last casualty of the series. However, even the writers seem to have utterly forgotten about him when Season 3's Alternate Universe What If episode came around and no mention was made of his existence.
    • His form is also never assumed by The First, who worked really hard to dredge up memories of departed loved ones. Minor characters were brought back, but Xander & Willow's best friend for 10 years is never mentioned. Seems like a fixture of your life that died within hours of meeting the main character might have been mined for angst.
      • There were plans to have this entire phenomenon dramatically lampshaded in "Conversations With Dead People," which would have seen The First taking Jesse's form and angrily accuse Xander of forgetting about him. Some combination of Eric Balfor being unavailable and the episode already having too much story led the writers to scarp this plotline. Instead, it became the only episode without Xander in it at all.
      • It's probably safe to say that Xander's hatred of vampires - always noticeably stronger than that of the other characters, as seen by his relentless dislike of Angel and Spike during even their good periods - can be attributed to his statement in Episode 2 (after he and Buffy found that Jesse's been killed and turned):

 Willow: Well, at least you two are alright.

Xander: (*kicks trash can in library*) I don't like vampires. I'm gonna take a stand and say that they're not good.

    • One could argue that Xander's super-hatred of vampires (never trusting "good guys" Angel, Spike, etc.) stems from Jesse. Or it could be hots-for-Buffy stuff. Or both.
      • He approved of Riley, so it's probably not hots-for-Buffy.
    • In fact, Jesse was initially to appear in the opening titles for the pilot. The network refused; Whedon finally pulled the same trick on a different network in season 6 when Tara was killed. Torchwood did the same thing in its own first episode, but did return to the Fallen Friend for one episode later.
    • Buffy's original Watcher, Merrick, killed himself in a Heroic Sacrifice to save Buffy from the vampire Lothos shortly before the series began. He's rarely mentioned at all outside of the prequel comics. Ironically, when Faith was introduced in season 3, her Watcher's death did have a heavy impact on her.
  • Averted on Angel however with the death of Doyle. He is mentioned sporadically throughout the remainder of the series as a fallen comrade and friend. One villain in the last season even earns a special beatdown from Angel when he sort of tries to use Doyle's identity as a cover.
  • In full effect on Todd and the Book of Pure Evil.
    • Aside from the sheer number of classmates and recurring characters killed off unceremoniously, regular character Jenny lost her long-time best friend in the third episode, never to mention her again. True to form, after spending a season trying to track down her long-lost father, Jenny seemingly forgets he ever existed after dear old dad dies after using the Book of Pure Evil(co-incidentally in the following season's third episode).
    • Averted with the death of recurring villain the Hooded Leader at the hands of his own son, Atticus Murphy, who spends the next season carting around his dad's head believing it's talking to him. Said character is also one of the few to react with any emotion to the murder of one of the Crowley High student body, granted the student in question was a Satan Worshiper and prospective cult member, and the desperately lonely Atticus mistakenly believed they'd already become Best Friends Forever.
  • In "Where No Man Has Gone Before" in Star Trek: The Original Series suffers (in the first episode in which he appears,) the loss of a friend he's had for many years, whom he himself was forced to kill. Further along in the series, he also suffers the loss of his brother. And yet, the only death that seemed to affect him long term was the death of main, recurring character Spock (which didn't even stick.) Although Kirk has had and lost many love interests over the course of the show, he doesn't seem all that affected by their passing. (Granted, in at least two cases, he was made to forget that they had ever existed, but one would think he would at least remember and dwell upon Edith Keeler from time to time...)
  • Near the end of Farscape, after Crichton finally gets back to Earth, an assassin tortures and kills his two best friends and it's literally never mentioned again.
    • Except in one of the following episodes in which Scorpius asks his Old Master about the assassin's species and origin. Besides, it's clear that Crichton was having a something of a falling-out with said friends over his sharing of alien technologies.
  • Heroes: Caitlin who? Never heard of any Simone. Yaeko? Charlie? Possible Lampshade/Subversion of Charlie's death in Season 4 Who are these people, and why are they all female? With the possible exception of Alixander Alejandro Dead Twin.
    • Conveniently, with Simone dead, there's nobody to cry for Isaac.
    • Subverted with Alejandro because the only people who knew of him on the show are Sylar (his killer) and Molly and Maya the last two having been Put on a Bus.
    • Lampshaded later by Sylar. It went something like this: "What was his name again? Ted...Ted something. Ted... It's on the tip of my tongue." A few moments later... "Sprague! Ted Sprague! That was his name."
  • In the fourth episode of Robin Hood, Roy is killed off in a Redemption Equals Death moment. Despite John mentioning earlier that he was like a son to him and all of the outlaws mourning him at the end of the episode, he hasn't been mentioned since.
    • Even worse was Marian's death at the end of the second season. Granted, she is name-dropped occasionally, but Robin bounces back from her death with astounding ease, hardly ever mentions her again, and eventually addresses her killer as "my friend." The other outlaws never bother mentioning her at all, and Robin manages to nab himself two girlfriends within a year of her death.
  • Played for laughs in Blackadder. Whenever a character loses the woman they love, their mourning lasts for about five seconds.

   "Amy! Oh, Amy! ...What's for breakfast?"

  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor's companion Nyssa had her father taken over by the Master in the Shocking Swerve ending of "The Keeper of Traken". In the following story, "Logopolis", the Doctor met Tegan, whose aunt the Master killed. Subsequently, the Master destroys Nyssa's planet and she discovers that he has stolen her father's body. She has a slight moment of shock and outrage in "Time-Flight" The Doctor says "Yes, I'm sorry Nyssa" but that's about it.
    • Likewise, Adric made no direct mention of his brother following the latter's death in "Full Circle", the closest he got being the scene where he told Romana: "One of my family's died for your lot already." Indeed, the only person to mention Adric's brother by name in any subsequent adventure is the Doctor in "Time-Flight", by which time Adric has himself been killed.
      • Apparently, actor Matthew Waterhouse was also upset about this not being brought up at all (his own brother had died by this time). However, there's a subtle hint towards the death for the observant viewers, seen in "Earthshock" - Adric, aware of his impending fate, is holding onto his brother's belt (given to him after Varsh's death) like a security blanket, as though to reassure himself in his final moments. It's not something everyone would pick up (given the belt looks like a thick rope), but for those that do ... Oh, Adric.
    • The Doctor himself is prone to this. If you're not a companion, he'll be very upset to see you die, but probably have forgotten you minutes (or even seconds) after the fact. It's implied this is a coping mechanism for him to deal with the fact that everyone he knows eventually dies.
    • Even when one of the Doctor's companions is permanently killed off, he or she is not exempt from this trope. Adric, for example, is only mentioned directly in a handful of post-"Earthshock" episodes, the last being Part Four of "The Caves of Androzani", where the Doctor whispers Adric's name moments before regenerating into his sixth incarnation.
    • Extreme example in "The Girl in the Fireplace" where the Doctor has an (allegedly passionate) love affair with Mme de Pompadour. By the next episode she's been forgotten, and is never mentioned again. In "Human Nature" he left Martha with instructions but never said what to do if he falls in love, implying he didn't consider it a real possibility though "The Girl in the Fireplace" was just a year ago. By the time of "Deep Breath", the Doctor can barely remember any of this.
  • Persistently and conspicuously averted in the second season of Sanctuary. Following Ashley's Heroic Sacrifice, Magnus is shown grieving in nearly every episode, with her attempts to cope driving the plot in some instances.
    • Also, Clara Griffin is mentioned several times by Will but only when it is absolutely necessary (such as telling his new girlfriend about his exes).
  • Invoked in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Apollo complains that he is barely able to remember the pilots that have lost their lives over the course of the series. He makes an effort to remember a few but not all. Starbuck cynically retorts that she doesn't remember any of them and doesn't bother trying. Later, she averts the trope and shows she was lying before, raising a toast to fallen comrades and listing every single one until she breaks down in tears and can't continue...
    • Apollo's pregnant fiancée is a played-straight example. He barely thinks about the fact that he left her to be nuked, aside from one episode.
    • Arguably, Peter Laird though people could be forgiven due to the fact that he dies at the start of a mutiny that takes the lives of over a hundred other people including the entire Quorum.
    • Billy. Only Laura seems to shed any tears over him.
    • Felix Gaeta is never mentioned again after he and Zarek are executed for the mutiny. No one is shown placing a photo on the memorial wall, either, not even Baltar, who was with him shortly before he was executed.
      • To be fair, Gaeta had just co-lead a mutiny, so no one was feeling too charitable towards him. And Baltar's a self-absorbed jerk, so he hardly counts.
  • The original 1978 Battlestar Galactica Classic has one or two examples as well. Apollo's brother Zac dies in the first episode, and is almost never even mentioned again in later episodes.
    • Averted in the new series, where Zac died much earlier and plays a significant part in several subplots.
  • Handled oddly in The Wire. It seems as though Wallace has been pretty well forgotten by Poot and Bodie after season one, but the mention of his name in season four provokes Bodie into panicked alarm.
    • Also soundly averted in the case of Brandon; Omar's Roaring Rampage of Revenge lasts two and a half seasons, and he never forgets who it is that he's trying to avenge. He does pick up a new boyfriend, Dante, in the two years afterwards but he splits with Dante at the same time as he finally gets closure for Brandon, meaning he can put it all behind him and enter his next relationship unencumbered.
    • It's odd because Omar didn't treated his next boyfriends the same way he treated Brandon. Specially with his third boyfriend in which he barelly touches, although this may be a case of But Not Too Gay.
  • Highlander had its share of such problems. While Duncan held rivalries with other Immortals ongoing for centuries, he rarely went after mortals. Regardless of what they did to him or his loved ones. From 1980 to 1993, Duncan's love interest was mortal Tessa Noel. A main character until early in the second season, Tessa was killed by a junkie over some petty change. Duncan never bothers to search for the killer. When Richard Ryan, a student of Duncan, managed to locate the junkie, Duncan refuses to lift a finger against him. Ryan eventually lets the guy go, once convinced the junkie has quit the habit and is now a struggling father. After that Tessa rarely gets mentioned. Similarly, a number of killed lovers or best friends such as Mei-Ling Shen, Brian Cullen or Nefertiri are greatly mourned in the single episode featuring them. Then never mentioned again, even in episodes summarizing the key moments of the character.
    • Actually, the Series Finale features a case of It's a Wonderful Plot in which Duncan finds himself in a world in which he had never existed. For Want of a Nail all characters live miserable lives or are evil, and Duncan wants to undo what has happened. Until he discovers that in this reality Tessa is very much alive.
    • On the same note, several episodes have Duncan trying to get other Immortals to quit their quest of vengeance against mortals. With several of them having some pretty good reasons to seek revenge. Ceirdwyn going after the people who killed her mortal husband, Kamir killing the people who smuggled India's cultural treasures to American museums, Muhammad ibn Kassim targeting the dictator of his country, Katya of Greenhil struggling to avenge the murder of her adoptive daughter, Jacob Galati hunting the people who butchered his wive, William Kingsley wanting to punish whoever killed his wife and those covering for them, Ingrid Henning going after any would-be dictator and hatemonger in hope of preventing a new Holocaust, and Everett Bellian waging war against the rapist of his adoptive daughter. Apparently they should have all forgotten their foes and let go. Somehow, this would seem rather difficult.
  • Averted in NCIS. Deceased characters are oft referenced and never forgotten. At one point, an entire episode was used to show that (six years later!) Kate Todd is still on the minds of her True Companions co-workers.
  • A number of Knights of Camelot have died in Merlin but are never mentioned again. This includes some relatively famous names, including Sir Pellinore and Sir Bedivere. In one episode Merlin's childhood friend Will is killed saving Arthur's life, and he hasn't been mentioned since.
    • Lancelot died twice, first at the beginning of the fourth season, only to be resurrected and killed off again in the ninth episode. Each time he died, no one ever mentioned him again in subsequent episodes - which was especially strange the second time around given the ramifications of the Arthurian Love Triangle. Yet instead of referencing him by name, all the other characters only obliquely mention a "betrayal."
  • Archie Kennedy dies a heroic death in the Horatio Hornblower episode "Retribution" ... then is never mentioned again for the rest of the series. Similarly, in the first episode, Clayton sacrifices himself to save Horatio's life; Horatio seems to remember him and mourn his death but Archie, his former shipmate, seems to forget him entirely almost immediately.
  • In Babylon 5, Talia's personality is wiped by the Psi Corp. Everyone is very upset about it at the time, but, by the next episode, she might as well not have existed. Especially notable in that two characters were strongly implied to have had romantic feelings for her.
  • Smallville has always been very bad about this. In the earliest episodes, the "Freak of the Week" would often be a a longtime friend the main cast would've known for years prior to Kryptonite radiation turning them evil. More often than not, they'd die. The main cast would spend absolutely no time mourning their loss or what they had become even in the episode where they died.
    • In later years this would extend to recurring characters and several cases of series regulars Whitney Fordman, Jason Teague, Davis Bloome, and Jimmy Olson who'd be Killed Off for Real, might be mourned in the episode they died, and then either never mentioned again or mentioned in only the briefest most casual way for plot purposes. Some particularly Egregious examples:
      • Ryan James
      • Alicia Baker.
      • Grant Gabriel. Lionel does mourn him. For one episode. Which is one more episode than Lois ever mourned for him, even though she knew him longer.
      • Gina. Granted the only one who'd care would be Lex, and it's Lex were talking about here. Still, you'd think he'd spend at least a moment wondering who the Hell murdered his most loyal and devoted assistant.
      • Season two, Clark had a passionately romantic attachment to this Native American shapeshifter with a meaningful bracelet and prophecy saying she was his soul mate, and in the end she tragically dies. Next episode it was like it never happened, except she had been the device for the 'caves' setting to be introduced, and those stuck around. What was her name, anyway?
    • Partially averted with Lionel Luthor, who's mentioned quite a bit after his death. However most of his mentions are of the evil bastard he was at the start of the series and not as the ally he became in the show's second half.
    • Averted in the best way when it comes to Jonathan Kent.
  • Grey's Anatomy is also doing this with George. He was a main character for five seasons, then after the first two episodes of season six, has only been mentioned twice.


  • Romeo is heartbroken about his friend Mercutio's least during the scene where Mercutio actually died. After Romeo kills Tybalt to avenge him, Mercutio is pretty much forgotten. Romeo expresses far more grief over Tybalt's death than Mercutio's.

Video Games

  • Many a videogame hero ends up this way. Tyrian, for example, hung a lantern on it when the hero stopped to reminisce on how the assassination of his best friend was what threw him in the middle of his galactic warzone hell.

 "Dang. Can't even remember his name now."

    • He actually tries to quit fighting after this.
  • Averted in Tales of Symphonia. Lloyd never forgets the destruction of his city and Genis never forgets Marble's sacrifice. Mostly off-screen, Yuan is fighting in the name of Martel for four thousand years.
    • Then it is played straight if you take the Kratos path. Zelos dying is mentioned in a skit once and then never brought up again, despite being a party member for a long period of time. Even though it is not canon and he is present in the other seven routes, this is still a really strange thing to leave out.
      • Although, if you take the Kratos path, Zelos actually is a traitor and tries to kill the group, so...
        • That makes it even stranger, as the betrayal and death of one of your trusted companions seems like something you wouldn't forget a whole five seconds later. Especially since it makes Lloyds skit-lamentation seem like:" I never understood his true feelings..Oh well, what's for dinner?" Oh and Zelos wasn't really betraying them as much as forcing them to kill him
        • Remember though that the party's initial reaction to him dying is a mixture of animosity towards him for dying in a somewhat pointless fashion and guilt for wondering if, had they been a bit more receptive to him, he would have sided with them. This is particularly evident in the difference in Lloyd's remarks to him in Flanoir. If he lives, Lloyd tells Zelos that he trusts him in spite of his suspect recent behavior; if Zelos dies, Lloyd questions whether or not he can trust him.
  • Excessively common in RPGs, unless it's an entire city/village, though the amount of times that event is mentioned varies. Sometimes, it may only be mentioned immediately after it happens, and right before confronting the guy who did it. It would be better naming exceptions. Cyan in Final Fantasy VI beats himself up a few times over Doma being destroyed by poison water, along with his family. He attempts to heal himself by pretending to be the wounded boyfriend of a woman and writing her letters, but finally learns to let go when you encounter him again in the second half. Aerith's death in Final Fantasy VII haunts Cloud all the way through Advent Children. Also tends to happen comically easy in sandboxy RPGs since there's no telling when you'll arrive at what quest.
    • One of the late-game dungeons involves Cyan's nightmares about the poisoning at Doma, forcing you to go in and save him from himself.
    • Averted in Final Fantasy XII: the loss of Ashe's husband and Vaan's brother are what motivate them to become one-queen/Sky Pirates armies in the first place, and both deaths remain important plot devices which induce Character Development for both playable characters: Vaan learns that Wangst is not the proper way to respect the deceased, while remembering that her husband was a nice guy and not a nationalistic jerk is what set Ashe's Moment of Awesome at the end of the last dungeon.
    • Also from Final Fantasy VII are Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie, whose deaths weigh on Barret for much of the game. Not to mention the unseen casualties of AVALANCHE's actions at the beginning of the game. Reeve/ Cait Sith finally calls Barret out on this towards the end of the game (when he tries to justify it as a few casualties in order to save the Planet) reminding him that "what may be just few to you, was EVERYTHING to them that died"
    • In Final Fantasy III; Elia is largely forgotten after her Heroic Sacrifice in taking the Kraken's arrow.
    • Hope's mother in Final Fantasy XIII isn't forgotten - his anger towards Snow, for his involvement in her death, drives Hope's character arc for some time, and she's even mentioned when they meet Hope's father. Mentions decrease after that, but given that the party had other things to worry about, this is justified.
      • Also, Serah's crystalisation is a major motivator for Snow and Lightning and so too is Dajh's for Sazh (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, for Vanille). Subverted in that neither of them are truly dead ...
  • Averted in Breath of Fire 3, Teepo's supposed demise nearly drives Rei insane, while he's separated from the party he's become a nearly feral bandit, until confronted by Ryu and regaining his memories and sense of self, whom he also believed had died. and then upon learning Teepo is really alive, you have to kill him shortly after!
  • Especially bad in Sands of Destruction, since the whole reason Kyrie's village doesn't exist any more is because he destroyed it himself, along with the only family he had ever had. Apart from one passing mention several hours after the fact, he never even reflects on the matter.
  • Metal Gear generally takes pains to avoid this, but dropped the ball between Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid's half-Continuity Reboot by making Snake grieve the deaths of Gray Fox and Big Boss, but completely forget about the deaths of Natasha Markova and Kyle Schneider, whose deaths were shown to badly affect him in game. There's also no mention of Master Miller again after his death in Metal Gear Solid, even though he was supposed to be Snake's mentor and one of his best friends.
    • To be fair, the Master Miller Snake was speaking to in Solid was actually Liquid, and Snake legitimately had other things on his mind at the time.
  • Through Laser-Guided Amnesia, the bad ending of Mega Man X 5 has the title character losing his memories of Zero who just died in the same game. There have been no explicit reason for why this happened, and can be treated as a Shoot the Dog on the part of Dr. Light, X's creator.
  • The Saboteur is another of those rare games that don't follow this trope: Jules' death is the entire reason Sean does what he does, and one of his battle cries when shooting Nazis is "That was for Jules you bastards!". Sean regularly mentions Jules' death and his ensuing desire for revenge.
  • When you fight Darth Bandon in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, one of the ways the player can respond to his greeting is "You killed Trask! I'll make you pay!" It's cute that they thought we'd remember who the heck Trask was; he's a Republic soldier who joins you as a party member for the tutorial before he is killed, after which point Carth replaces him.
  • Averted in Mass Effect. Whether you're talking about whoever you left behind on Virmire or even just Jenkins, Shepard remembers them and is still particularly sore about the former since The Chains of Commanding put the death squarely on his/her shoulders. And a side quest in the second game lets you toast to the memory of your fallen comrades.
    • In the third game, there is a memorial wall on the Normandy, which has the name of anyone who died while serving on the ship. You see it every time you get off the elevator on one of the decks. It even gets updated if more of your comrades die over the course of the game.
    • Hell, a side quest in the second game has you spend time looking for 20-something dogtags in the wreckage of the original Normandy for any crewmember who didn't make it out alive and leave a memorial dedicated to the ship and her crew. A very moving mission for anyone who played the first game and really got into the game.
  • At the end of his arc in Starcraft: Brood War, Raynor makes an impressive speech vowing to hunt down and kill Kerrigan after her final betrayal and murdering of Protoss warrior and fellow ass-kicker, Fenix. Come Wings of Liberty, Fenix is not mentioned (not even in passing), and Raynor's anger at Kerrigan seems to have subsided into a mixture of terror and confused longing. Of course, 4 years have passed (in game) and Starcraft II's story is only a third complete, so this could very well change come the Kerrigan/Zerg-centric Heart of the Swarm.
  • Fallout 1 and 2, mostly because none of your potential party members are important to the plot in the least, and because everyone is so inured to the killing. There's not even a single line about, even if the victim was a friend, spouse or loyal dog. Lampshaded in one fanfic where the female protagonist shows her utter contempt for the slimy Myron - after he's gunned down by an enemy, she just rifles through his stuff and leaves his corpse to the scavengers.
  • Subverted hard in Rudra no Hihou. Rostam and Huey, Sion's best friends, are killed off on day one. They're immediately forgotten and never mentioned again... or so it seems. Not only do they get a gorgeous optional cutscene all the way at the end of the story in which they give Sion one of his best weapons, they also get used by Surlent as his temporary host bodies for a huge chunk of the plot.
  • Drastically subverted in the Phantasy Star games—three of them have the main character losing someone they love early in the game: Alis in the first, Rolf in the second, and Chaz in the fourth. While the technological limitations of the 8-bit Phantasy Star meant not a lot of cutscenes, no one ever forgets Nero is the reason Alis became a heroine. Alys' death in IV is not only honored with an actual grave, her left-behind house and belongings in it and her entire hometown noting her absence, the people closest to her reference her death and the meaning of what she taught while she was alive, and one of the later possible wise-mentor figures actually uses her image to manipulate her student. Nei's death hit Phantasy Star II and its fanbase so hard she became a legacy character whose name or image appears in every Phantasy Star game since then. And all of them were honored in a cutscene in the fourth game, specifically to remind Chaz of the worth of their cause.
    • Played straight in Phantasy Star III: in one possible story path, the protagonist loses his entire family, mourns them for about ten minutes, then goes about his business.
  • In Wing Commander II, Christopher Blair doesn't dwell on the death of Elizabeth "Shadow" Norwood, his wingman from Caernavon station, much after her death at the end of the Gwynedd missions. She wasn't in the game much in game time, but she was one of the few friends he had since he was blamed for the destruction of the Tiger's Claw.
  • Averted in routes A and B of Blaze Union, where Siskier and Luciana's deaths respectively are deeply scarring to the ones who loved them most dearly, but played straight in route C--wherein Jenon disappears after pulling a You Shall Not Pass, then turns up afterward as a reanimated corpse and just barely manages to die as himself in a rather well-written series of events. In the battlefield following this, Jenon is mentioned once in passing, then never brought up again for the rest of the game.
  • Subverted in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: There's never any real mention of Rundas, Ghor and Gandrayda after Samus is forced to kill them. That is, until the ending cinematic in which Samus silently remembers her fallen comrades while watching the Elysian sunset.
  • Persona 3 averts this with Shinjiro Aragaki. After Akihiko's persona evolves, one of his battle end quotes is "Did you see that, Shinji?" and brings him up sporadically after his death. He's also listed as being a member of the Nyx Annihilation Team, which isn't even created until almost three months after his death.
  • Happens to a named unique NPC in the course of Saints Row 2 when the Brotherhood of Stilwater takes revenge on the Saints disfiguring the Brotherhood's leader with tainted tattoo ink by dragging young Saints lieutenant Carlos nearly to death. The Boss tries to rescue him, but has to Shoot the Dog and give Carlos a Mercy Kill to free him of his suffering. Especially poignant because previously the Boss treated Carlos like a younger brother. Due to the nonlinear nature of the game this can happen early or late in the narrative, but it's a more jarring early on as the rest of the game takes place without them and no one seems to mention their absence. Then you can get Zombie Carlos as a homie. No one else still seems to notice.
    • Averted in The Third, wherein Johnny Gat's death is an important point for quite a bit of the game: Shaundi is visibly affected for at least the entirety of the first act, the whole point of said act is to take revenge on the Syndicate for it (specifically the part of it directly controlled by the man who did it), and the second act is kick-started by the Luchadores interrupting Gat's funeral procession. And then, when you beat the game, one of your rewards is the ability to bring Gat back as a zombie.
  • Lufia Curse of the Sinistrals, A reaction of Tia when her boyfriend sacrifices himself to defeat Idura and save her from being dragged to hell is tear jerkily. Two minutes after that, she goes back to her Genki Girl state, never bother to mention or angst about him despite the following event is about couple and love. Dekar doesn't really bite the dust, though.
  • Invoked in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: Xion, a being made from Sora's memories, must merge with Sora to complete the restoration of his memories, though it also means that everyone's memories of her will vanish entirely. While she's aware of this, she pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to ensure that her friends continue to live safe and sound. However, it's all but outright said at the end of the game and subsequent games in the series such as Kingdom Hearts 3D that everyone's memories of Xion are still there, even if most of them don't realize it.
  • By the time of Mega Man Zero, Iris seems to have become this, as she's never brought up by Zero at all.

Web Comics


 Riff: Gee, Zoe! Sorry your boyfriend got eaten by kittens!

(Riff and Torg snicker)

Torg: It's funny when he says it.

  • Whenever a character dies in Sonichu everyone says something to the effect of "We have to move on." Most likely because the webcomic's author does the same thing.
    • Averted in Simonla's case, however, as it led to an issue ending with the Asperpedia Four getting arrested for her death, given the most unfair trial ever, and then brutally executed. And then she's forgotten quicker than most of these examples.

Web Original

  • In A Very Potter Musical, Cedric dies at the end of the first act. Nobody cares enough to mention it after the first five minutes of Act Two.
    • His Sickeningly Sweetheart Cho Chang cries for a minute, but then Neville Longbottom pantses Draco and she says, "That made me feel better." About her dead boyfriend.
  • In Naheulbeuk, the protagonists rarely refer to their fallen comrades (but if you tell them their friend died, they'll tell you he was not their friend). In the novel, when the elf dies, even the inner monologues show us that they remember about one of their fallen friends, while the narrator remember both. It is actually used to lampshade the fact that in seasons one and two, the characters zig-zagged Death Is Cheap and Killed Off for Real, but after this, any dying protagonist will get better.

Western Animation

  • If Klaus and Roger are ever thought to be dead on American Dad!, expect them to fall victim to this.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: She's not dead, but it bugged the hell out of a lot of people that it's not until the halfway point of season three that Sokka shows any concern for his girlfriend Suki, despite the previous season ending with Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee going undercover in Suki and her friends' uniforms so it was clear something bad had happened. He did finally lose his cool during the day of Black Sun, blowing their chance to defeat the Big Bad.
  • Transformers:
    • In Season 2 of Beast Wars, despite Optimus' promise that the Maximals will rescue Airazor and Tigatron, they're never shown to try.
    • Conversely, in Beast Machines, Optimus Primal spends way too long mourning the loss of his allies.
    • Blackarachnia of Transformers Animated so much it hurts. She's Optimus' and Sentinel's long lost love interest Elita-1. What do they do when she makes a return as the tragic but Gorgeous Gorgon? In Optimus' case nothing unless he can't ignore her. Sentinel tries to outright kill her. Any wonder she's a bitter, spiteful, and border-line psychotic vamp?
    • Cheetor of Transformers: Cyberverse dies in the Season 3 opener to save the AllSpark and restore life to Cybertron. Absolutely no one even alludes to him ever having existed following his Heroic Sacrifice, not even his best friends.
  • Played straight in Ben 10: Alien Force when Grandpa Max blows himself to nonexistence in front of Ben. Ben protests the move beforehand but after the fact he basically says "Let's get on with the mission" and leaves it at that. They visit the effect of Max's death later, but only with Gwen; Ben doesn't seem to care anymore.
    • Doesn't seem to matter anymore now that Max got better.
    • It's arguably worse in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and "Grounded," each of which features one of Max's sons. They don't seem particularly concerned that their father supposedly died - despite the former episode's events being triggered in part by just that.
  • Littlefoot's mother in The Land Before Time. He mourns for her for a good deal of the first film, but only mentions her a grand total of three times during the following twelve sequels, one of which is just a passing reference. Presumably the writers were uncomfortable about bringing up such a dark topic in a kid's series, but it does give us the slightly worrying possibility that Littlefoot is in serious denial or something.
  • Heavily mocked on Clone High with Ponce de Leon. What makes it more ridiculous is that no one mentioned Poncey before his death either.
  • Spoofed in Drawn Together when Captain Hero becomes friends with Popeye: after the latter dies of AIDS, Hero wants to mourn him by "winning" the AIDS awareness marathon (that is, killing all other participants). At the end of the marathon, Hero looks up in the sky, seeing an image of Popeye, and doesn't even recognize him.
  • The team's reaction in Young Justice episode "Failsafe" when all of the Justice League are killed within the first 10 minutes. Of course, they knew it was only a simulation and not real.
  • Mixed with Motive Decay in the Family Guy episode "Running Mates"; Randall Fargus, Peter's favorite teacher from Junior High is fired after Peter convinces him to go off his medication. When Lois, running for school board, says she agrees with the firing, Peter vows to run against her in order to get his teacher's job back. Eventually though, Peter's competitiveness dominates the campaign, to the extent that when the teacher is brought up later, Peter doesn't remember him. Interestingly, a post credit sequence implies that the teacher did get his job back, but was then killed by the ED-209 Hall Monitor droid Peter installed. Played straight afterwards, though, as this is the only episode he appears in, other than a previous appearance in the background.
  • One of the original The Simpsons shorts revealed Bart and Lisa had an uncle named Hubert, who they visit the funeral of and is never mentioned even in supplemental material. We're not even sure if he's a Simpson or a Bouvier.

Real Life

  • This may also be a bit of Truth in Television. It doesn't seem that unlikely that a crusade started for one reason may continue on its own momentum. See some people's feelings about the post 9-11 wars, or the Onion story in Our Dumb Century where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was found alive and WWI was called off as a result.
    • The actual Crusades began when the Byzantine Empire asked for Western help against the encroaching Muslim Turks. A little over a century later, the Fourth Crusade attacked and heavily damaged the Empire, and nowadays Turkey still controls Byzantium (Istanbul).
    • Also, there's a pretty good chance that the person whose friend/relative/whoever died could be subconsciously using the crusade as a substitute for their fallen friend, which prevents them from feeling the full impact of the loss, or even thinking of the person at all, even though the bottled up grief will keep them going. Remember that keeping themselves occupied so that it gives them something to do other than mourn is a quite common occurrence among people who have lost loved ones.