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I'm still not quite sure how SMeyer came up with her; it's like she wandered in from a better book.
cmdr_zoom, commenting on Cleolinda's LiveJournal about Alice.

The character is brilliant. They might be any role but no matter what trope they fall under, whether a single trope or many, they all have one thing in common. You love them, but the writer doesn't.

It's not their fault. They do the best they can. They just never seem to get the screentime that you think they deserve. That Day in the Limelight isn't forthcoming, the episode focusing on their mysterious past doesn't turn up, you never get to hear their snarky remarks on a situation that just calls for it and after five pages of teasing they get Put on a Bus to Nowhereville.

Often happens when a single- or few-episode character is introduced. They show great promise, with an interesting background or interaction with the main character(s), and could have led to a compelling plot or new dynamic if made a permanent fixture, or at least a recurring character — but were underdeveloped and then discarded.

Occasionally this happens to someone whose backstory is revealed in supplementary materials or in a video game, are filled through sidequests. Players are very likely to skip sidequests and ignore these things, although it's especially annoying if these supplementary materials were never available in your country.

Contrast Creator's Pet, this trope's exact opposite, where a character isn't considered good by many viewers but keeps getting exposure anyway. A subtrope of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, supertrope of Too Cool to Live. Nearly always an Ensemble Darkhorse.

At least we'll always have Fan Fiction...

Examples of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character include:

Anime & Manga

  • Raditz from Dragon Ball Z. He's Goku's older brother, but after his defeat and death, he's rarely if ever brought up ever again. The Abridged Series lampoons this, with Krillin asking Raditz "You'll be involved in many future events, right?", to which Raditz responds by attacking Krillin.
    • Everyone who isn't Goku (or a Saiyan, at the very least) eventually falls victim to this trope by the end of the series.
  • Gai Daigoji from Martian Successor Nadesico, the perfect lancer, a goofball character that was never really seen before (Super Robot Wars would later base Ryusei Date off of him). His also killed in an event that seems less to show that real war isn't fun and games (the cast was full of goofballs, Gai was just the most entertaining) and more a move to piss off fans.
  • Very prevalent in Naruto. Considering the number of characters, their limited screen time and the fandom, it's really not surprising. Special mention goes to the Jinchuuriki since all of them except Naruto, Killer Bee and Gaara were killed and captured off-screen. However, Utakata was given his own filler arc in the anime.
    • Some fans feel this way about various Akatsuki members who were killed off, at least before those who were resurrected by Kabuto's Edo Tensei spell returned. Notable examples include Hidan and Kakuzu.
  • This is all over the place in Bleach, especially in more recent arcs. It's incredibly common for a new character with a unique and interesting power to show up, and then get killed in short order without actually using their unique and interesting powers for anything.
    • Some subversions occurred in the anime, however. For example, Harribel was given a plausible backstory and explanation for why she didn't seem as powerful as she was reputed to be. Also, Loly gets some redemption rather than just staying a Flat Character, actually defending Orihime from Yammy.
    • A weird example is Rudobon (officially romanized as "Rudbornn Chelute"). He's a rather mysterious character who strangely has a fully intact mask unlike every other Arrancar, is the leader of the equally mysterious Exequias group of completely identical soldiers. He apparently kills off a few minor antagonists once they've outlived their usefulness. He then sort of disappears for a little while. Toward the end of the Hueco Mundo arc, he has a brief fight with Rukia in the manga, a full-episode fight against Rukia, Renji, and Chad in the anime... Until he's smashed to pieces by Yammy before we find out anything really significant about him.
    • The fullbringers earned some time in the arc, but in the large scheme of things, the arc seems to merely be treated as a canon filler, serving as little more than to have Ichigo get his powers back. While their arc avoids Arc Fatigue, they seemed to have been quickly written off, possibly never to return. Especially as the hollows came back in the following arc.
  • Code Geass is extremely guilty of this even in the first season, only for it to be even worse in the second.
    • Prince Clovis, despite being a prejudicial sibling of Lelouch who killed him for his racist views on Elevens/Japanese, he actually cared for his sister, painted a portrait of Lelouch's mother and children and actually made some good contributions to Area 11. He was killed off to to show that Lelouch was ruthless and to show that even ZERO had guilt for his actions. He would've been a nice Recurring Boss that would eventually get Character Development to actually get over his bigot pride and do some good for the Japanese.
    • The House of Kyoto, the heads of the major industries in Japan, who later assist the Black Knights by supplying them with technology after one of them, Kirihara, recognizes Zero as Lelouch who he met as a child. It would've been nice if all the members not just Kaguya were elaborated in character and Kirhara's relationship with Lelouch was explored more rather than executing them for being the Black Knights' supporters.
    • Ohgi, Diethart, Euphemia, Toudou, the Four Holy Swords, Tamaki, Rolo, V.V, Mao and oh God, Shirley.
    • The Knights Of Round who should've been an elite Quirky Miniboss Squad, but are cannon fodder to show how skilled Suzaku and Kallen are.
  • Death Note: Naomi Misora. Competent FBI agent. Developed and multidimensional. Has a very good reason and more than enough skill to bring Kira down. Dies less than three episodes after being introduced.
    • According to Word of God, she was meant to last a while longer and have a lasting impact on the plot, but she was far too clever and would have figured Light out before long, bringing the story to a quick end. Perhaps in compensation, the live action movie sees her role expanded from the manga, although she still does die.
  • Nena Trinity. She's introduced, like her brothers, as an unsettling figure and later crosses the Moral Event Horizon by killing all of Louise's family. Then the show's resident Complete Monster, Ali Al-Saachez, unknowingly gives her a taste of her own medicine by killing her brothers and leaving her all alone. Now in the second season, this seems to have affected her and she's slightly less batshit insane and more thoughtful. She also has to work with an even bigger spoiled, sociopathic villainess, giving her someone to reflect on. She later helps out the cause of good, not due to a Heel Face Turn, but because her side isn't living up to her standards. All the while, Louise is becoming a Dark Action Girl and out for revenge against Nena. This would be a great plot: have Louise face Nena now that Nena has somewhat redeemed herself and is beginning to change for the better. It would be a fasicnating conflict of Grey and Gray Morality: does the change in Nena mean Louise shouldn't take vengenace on her, or does the Moral Event Horizon still stand and Louise is justified? So what happens? A Time Skip occurs, Nena is suddenly as much of a psychotic bitch as before, she discards her standards, and, though she does awesomely get rid of Wang Lui Mei, nothing really happens to even out the conflict between her and Louise.Aside from the whole vengeance is wrong shtick, nothing is done to convince you that perhaps Louise isn't justified, and it winds up a Black and Gray Morality issue instead of a Gray and Gray Morality one. Which leaves the question: What was the POINT of trying to develop Nena's character if the staff was just going to end her THIS way?!
  • Sailor Moon is full to the brim with these, largely thanks to its Monster of the Week and Victim Of The Week format:
    • Thetis, perhaps the only MotW to show something like human emotion, and hints of a backstory connecting her with Jadeite. None of this ever gets developed, as she's only in one episode. And Jadeite himself, who also got some hints of character in that episode, is done away with in the very next one.
    • Rui Saionji, Naru's "sister", had potential in her own right and could have been used to develop Naru's character and history. Also only appears in one episode.
    • Shingo's girlfriend Mika and Ami's boyfriend Ryou get two episodes each. Makoto's best friend Shinozaki gets only one.
    • Although she has a much bigger role than the above examples, Naru herself qualifies. After two seasons of being just Usagi's "normal" friend, it seems for a moment she's going to discover (or reveal that she knows) the truth about the Senshi and so transition into a new role. Instead, from this moment on she disappears from the plot almost completely.
    • Pretty much all of Sailor Galaxia's minions qualify as wasted, especially compared to past Quirky Miniboss Squad members. Also, three out of five of the Witches 5 from Sailor Moon S, who only got one episode each to themselves whereas the first two had at least around fifteen each.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Yuuno Scrya. In a series so focused on how the ancient civilizations and technologies of the past are constantly unearthing themselves to cause major trouble in the present day, having an archeologist, scholar and librarian of ancient knowledge in the cast was a great idea. But despite his many virtues and all of the potential left to explore with his background and career, the writers seemed to only care about him as a romantic possibility for the eponymous heroine. So when they decided not to do that any more, they took him completely out of the action and plot without a word of explanation, even when the rest of the cast should have been still looking to rely on his support in battle, or at least asking him what the heck they're dealing with this time. Yuuno even teaches magic to Nanoha's adoptive daughter, Vivio, according to the side-materials, but we never actually see or hear them interact, even when she visits his library to do what was originally his role in the story. Also, why did Vita, who claims there isn't anything she can't break, never seek a rematch with him, to see if she could finally defeat his defenses?
    • Zest. The degrading clone of a deceased mage, he could have faced off against Erio who is also a clone and the former's issues could have been something for the latter to struggle with.
    • Jail. A fatherly (in some cases literally) Phlebotinum Rebel fighting to defend his family and overthrow the secretly corrupt establishment with minimal collateral damage, as established when the RF6 HQ was destroyed without loss of innocent life, could have made for a great Hero Antagonist. It could have led the heroes to struggle with the ethics of their situation, fighting a good man under the orders of a diseased high command. However, the writer chickened out and tried to eliminate viewer sympathy by making him carry out stereotypically villainous behaviour such as brainwashing, torture and leaving his "daughters" to die in a base self-destruct.
  • A whole lot of characters in the Pokémon anime, many of them being characters of the day or occasionally reoccurring characters at best.
    • Some of the Pokemon are also wasted. The worst example is probably Ash's Primeape, which he caught in one episode, didn't use until a few episodes later, at the end of which he gave it away, and it hasn't been heard from since.
    • So far, the villainous teams get this, so much it's not funny. Crosses over with They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. To elaborate:
      • The very first appearance of Teams Magma/Aqua and the last are less than 100 episodes apart. So how much screen time did the Teams get? Only 6 for Magma (not counting a two-shot member with a Ditto, who served no major role at all); and 7 for Aqua - and out of these, their leaders only appeared in the two-parter which ended their arc, with very little character development as the writers chose to focus - again - on Ash and Pikachu as opposed to developing the conflict better. And most of these episodes had both teams so there's even less development. Given how they were loads more competent as adversaries and have interesting motivations, scrapping the opportunity to use them feels like a complete waste.
      • Team Galactic fares a little better, but still only get 10 episodes out of well over 100.
      • Team Plasma hasn't even appeared yet due to their debut being pulled off the air for the time being.
      • And of course, Team Rocket themselves haven't prominently appeared since the Kanto saga, and even then we were mostly limited to the bumbling trio. This looks to be subverted - mercifully - with greater plot and story development in the new Best Wishes series, however.
  • Ogawa of Bakuman。. He's incredibly knowledgeable about manga, from his prediction that Detective Trap wouldn't last long in Jump to knowing how to set up an office and manage assistants. Despite his talent, he doesn't try to become an mangaka, not even trying to pair up with a writer to offset his weaknesses as a storyteller, and is never seen again after Trap gets canceled. Even having him as an assistant might have been a good way to contrast him with assistants driven to get a series, such as Nakai and Takahama.
  • Black Butler: Despite an impressive cast, most characters who aren't Sebastian or Ciel become dead weight pretty quickly. Not to say that many aren't Flat, but many others showed serious promise before being unceremoniously killed or forgotten. It's especially problematic when two such characters are the season's Big Bads.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 had numerous examples of wasted plots, but two infamous ones were the aborted Dagomon arc and later the Daemon Corps. Both characters could also count as wasted.
  • Love Live! Series:
    • Depending on who you ask: Most of the main characters also fall into this, as the fans wished that their actual lesbian sexuality is beyond queerbaiting.
      • Nozomi and Eli are one of the offenders: Despite their repeated subtextual relationship (although they barely even tried in some publishings, especially one of the official artwork had them dressed in traditional wedding outfits) seen in every single media including the School Idol Festival game, many fans wished that they would've just properly developed a relationship and become an official couple.
      • This also applies to both Nico and Maki, as the frequently repeated ship teasing without any actual romantic confessions may upset many of their fans as well.
    • Though downplayed, The reveal of the unnamed protagonist's potential names on a shortlist may have disappointed a few fans who prefer the character to have "Anata" as one of her real names.

Comic Books

  • Ares from Marvel Comics was portrayed as a Badass Papa Wolf, once villain of the Avengers who was recruited onto the Mighty Avengers team. However, the team itself was short lived as after only two short arcs the team was disbanded and he became a Dark Avenger instead. This led to him being tossed around by every other villain the team faced and the book focused on other characters instead. He scored a few crowning moments of awesome while being neglected but it seems increasingly likely that he won't feature too prominently anymore seeing as The Void tore him in half in an embarrassingly short Curb Stomp Battle during Siege.
  • Shamrock, Marvel's Captain Irish heroine. She's possessed by the spirits of dead Irish soldiers who have unfinished business. When they possess her they give her the speed, strength and martial skill of a thousand dead warriors... oh sorry, they actually made her really, really lucky. But wait, it gets better; she retired from superhero-ing to become... a hairdresser.
    • And no one cared!
  • Cute Mute and Body Surfer Jericho of the Teen Titans. After being stuck on a floppy as a Brainwashed and Crazy ghost for a couple years he was finally revived and restored to his old self and with a new body... only to be shoved into limbo about ten issues later where he would turn up a in couple years evil again due to multiple evil personalities from his power of possession (and also possibly from being 'dead') and ultimately suffer Eye Scream. What makes this even more of a waste was that during Jericho’s short time as a newly revived hero, he had hardly any interaction with any of his old friends (especially best friend/almost love interest Raven who resurrected him but insteas their relationship seemed forgotten) or a decent reunion with his father Deathstroke the Terminator, or really anything about the character was explored besides "mute son of Deathstroke". Now, the mute part has been taken away, thus DC Comics having one less hero with a physical disability. Besides some sweet bonding moments with his half-sister Ravager, Jericho was mostly stuck in the background and underused until he was thrown in to the mediocre and forgettable stories DCU: Decisions and the Titans/Teen Titans/Vigilante crossover Deathtrap. However, as of Blackest Night Jericho seemed to have recovered from both insanity and Eye Scream... for now.
  • In general, both Marvel and DC Comics have countless characters who may have had intriguing concepts or personalities, but after their first appearances or the cancellation of their series, they're rarely seen again. When they do appear, they're usually killed as throwaway C-List Fodder or serve as second-rate Mooks, in the case of many supervillains. Sadly, these characters might have had a lot of creative potential, but more often than not fans and writers alike ignore them in favour of long-established characters and Expys of these long-standing characters.


  • Most writers for Camp Rock fanfiction completely waste all potential of Caitlyn and Tess (arguably played best by the two best actors in the teen cast) by pairing them with the The Jonas Brothers Expies (who seem to suck at playing themselves)
  • For some fans, any side characters or Beta Couple in most shipping fics can feel like this if the main couple's storyline is poorly written enough.
  • Sho and Mai in How I Became Yours, thanks to the main cast being badly derailed into Unintentionally Unsympathetic Designated Heroes. Many readers were curious as to where Sho came from, canon-bending aside, and found Mai much more interesting and sympathetic than Katara or Azula.
    • Subverted with Toph and Aang. Readers tolerated them more because they avoided the overblown angst and melodrama of Zuko/Katara and later Sokka/Azula, but only because they were deliberately set up to take a back seat to them as the "pouting teens pining for each other long-distance" amidst the soap opera antics of the other two. Chances are if they'd had the same amount of focus, the OOCness and bad writing would have had people hating them just as much as they did the other four mains.
  • Narrowly averted with Iris and Larry in the Ace Attorney fic Turnabout Everlasting. While most of the focus was given to the largely annoying and unsympathetic portrayals of Phoenix/Maya and Franziska/Edgeworth, Larry and Iris had a romance arc that felt genuine and even ended with the two getting married. In fact, them being out of focus may have been a blessing given that the fic is still ongoing after half a decade!
  • The Ron/Draco romance in Little Miss Mary is this and They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. The reader learns through secondhand narrative that Draco was disowned by Lucius after refusing to support Voldermort and that Narcissa disappeared sometime after. Draco ran away, wound up staying with the Weasleys, and from there he and Ron got closer and fell in love. Later on they get a total of one scene together, after they're married and we learn Narcissa was unceremoniously killed offscreen. This would have made a much more interesting story than the sappy sex-fest of the Snape/Harry romance that was at the center of things.
  • Drago Bludvist in the How To Train Your Dragon 2 based fic The Vigilante's War. The story being based on the film's early concept where Valka is the villain, however despite the story's synopsis literally saying "A HTTYD 2 alternate universe in which Valka is Hiccup's greatest foe and Drago an ally, not an enemy, of Berk" this is far from being true. Instead of getting to see how Drago could potentially be with him and Valka swapping roles and him as a good guy the writer just has Stoick going to Drago for help to attack the Bewilderbeast nest to save Hiccup and when they attack the nest Drago just betrays them trying to take Valka's Bewilderbeast for himself so he can take control of all dragons. Also despite being listed as one of the 4 main characters Drago barely appears and has little involvement with the overall plot and main conflict between Hiccup and Valka. He doesn't appear until the 13th chapter and then when it gets to the chapter when Valka's Bewilderbeast controls Toothless and kills Stoick, Drago basically disappears and isn't seen again for the remainder of the story. It certainly felt like the writer didn't really feel like including Drago but shoehorned him in and then just forgets about him obviously too focused on writing about Hiccup and Valka's conflict.
    • Many writers of How to Train Your Dragon fics who include Drago as part of the story in general usually waste all potential with Drago's character to flesh him out into a more three dimensional character despite that he had an interesting tragic backstory involving dragons destroying his village and tore off his arm as a child showing that not all dragons in the franchise are kind which was never expanded upon only being brought up once in the entire second movie only to be never discussed again and that in earlier drafts of the third movie was to have a focus on him returning after his defeat getting Character Development and showing steps to a possible Heel Face Turn before it was scrapped from the movie entirely. Writers usually tend to ignore Drago's past wasting any interesting ideas such as his relationship with his family before they died, the daily life and culture of his village, the actual attack on his village, trying to fill in the gap of how he became so ruthless or why he his motivations shifted from just wanting to control dragons to wanting to control people along with dragons, possibly having a more vulnerable and frightened side who is haunted by the trauma of the attack or actually developing into a slightly better person by realizing the error of his ways. When you see Drago listed as one of the characters in a fanfiction or is in the synopsis don't expect him to develop beyond being a simple two dimensional heartless villain.
  • Transformers Prime: Joining The Battle is amazing in this regard because it manages to waste every single one of its characters save for the Author Avatar. There are several Decepticon Peggy Sues who performed a Heel Face Turn but they do nothing, not even using the foreknowledge that they logically should have, with all their roles in the show being subbed by Suspiciously Similar Substitute OCs. The Marty Stu has a few conflicts with June and Miko but they quickly fizzle out as he goes off to kill the Necessary Weasels, negating canon's Character Development. And there are Intercontinuity Crossovers which sound very interesting but the characters from other shows are dumped in the background and don't even speak, simply being Mooks for the Autobots. Even the final battle with Unicron is wrapped up in about eight seconds.
    • The spinoff AU Transformers War for Cybertron: Joining the War keeps up this streak but for the opposite reason, it sticks too close to canon's timeline despite all the changes. The key example is the Seeker who managed to ensure Cybertron was poisoned by Dark Energon. How did he so effectively accomplish this and manage to derail the God Mode Sue's meticulous plan? How did he manage to so easily enter Autobot territory to taunt them about this? Seekers are Elite Mooks sure, but the fact that this one managed to pull all this off, seemingly on his own and as a "prank", would make him the most dangerously competent Cybertronian to ever live. Well hopefully you don't want those answers because the second after the Seeker is introduced, he gets Eaten Alive by the Nominal Hero.


  • Colossus in the X-Men Cinematic Universe, and he's only the most Egregious example. The third film is lousy with this, wasting not only Colossus, but Psylocke and Multiple Man as well. Even Callisto could have gotten more characterization mileage than simply being another of Magneto's lackies. Basically, there are two kinds of characters in the third film: on one hand, you have the characters who could all be the poster children for this trope. On the other hand, you have Wolverine.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine, among other things, totally wasted Deadpool with an In Name Only version of the character.
  • For people who never delve into the Expanded Universe of Star Wars, General Grievous. He gets name-dropped in the opening crawl, shares several qualities with the original trilogy's Darth Vader and appears for just a few minutes total in the film before Obi-Wan pwns him.
    • From the first prequel movie we have Darth Maul. He was dark, energetic, had strange markings and gave two Jedi an even fight, managing to kill the more experienced of the two. He got two or three lines[1] in the entire movie, no characterization except for a brief mention of wanting revenge on the Jedi and then got killed because he apparently couldn't believe that Obi-wan could make that jump. It's a slight consolation that Star Wars: The Clone Wars spent a few episodes on his origin and gave him another chance.
    • Fans of The Last Jedi were rather displeased when the vitriolic reaction of the Unpleasable Fanbase led to the roles of much of the Sequel original cast being reduced in The Rise of Skywalker in favour of simply having Ben and Rey interact with the members of the Original Trilogy.
  • In the third Pirates of the Caribbean film there are two young Asian women (possibly sisters) as part of Sao Feng's court. When the fighting begins one of them takes a bullet to the forehead and the other catches her with a look of devastation on her face. She turns to the camera with RAGEFACE and it looks like everyone is about to get their asses handed back to them...but she is shot dead just a few minutes later. She could have made a fantastic Chekhov's Gunman to take out Gilette.
  • Mikaela Banes in Transformers. She surprisingly has more characterization than just being the Designated Love Interest, holds her own fairly well against smaller Decepticons, and is overall an intriguing character. Then the second movie tosses most of that aside to focus on her relationship with Sam (and gratuitous Fan Service), and then she barely even gets a mention in the third.
    • The actress badmouthing Michael Bay (the reason she doesn't appear in the third film) has also made her a bit more popular.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:


  • Twilight
    • Alice, in spades. Reasons range from her being the Badass Adorable Ensemble Darkhorse to some people just enjoying the Les Yay between her and Bella and fans finding that this Edward fellow just keeps getting in the way.
    • Carlisle is also a favorite among people who find the books otherwise horrific, mainly due to the way he actually makes good use of his condition. He's not used so much in the plot.
    • Seth and Leah of the Quileute Tribe/Werewolf Pack, and Jacob (generally before Eclipse and/or Breaking Dawn).
    • Rosalie Hale, Rich Bitch vampire with a distaste for Bella that many readers can sympathize with.
    • A lot of the supporting characters seem to be this. It helps that most of them have much more interesting backstories and personalities than the main characters.
    • Some people believe that the side characters became just as flat and/or boring as the main characters after they got fleshed out more, so sometimes wasting characters might be for the best.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle the author devotes a book to novelising the plot of the insanely successful RPG Betrayal at Krondor written by Neal Hallford and set in his world. One of the characters, Owyn Beleforte, ends up as a very powerful 19-year-old magician who has become friends with one of the allegedly Always Chaotic Evil dark elves and the first character to actually sympathise with the enemy. Additionally, he can understand their language due to a spell cast on him by one of their witches. He's also one of the handful in the world to be aware of the nature and location of the Artifact of Doom after helping save the world from it, as well as the super secret details of the last major war between humans and dark elves - to wit, the dark elves were manipulated by a third party into a near-suicidal invasion that killed many of them off like flies. Oh, and his dark elf friend dies through a Heroic Sacrifice. The story that practically begs to be told is that of Owyn taking up his fallen friend's cause and working further toward the peace which neither of the nations really want at the moment - he is unique in having both the backstory and motivation as well as the power to make feasible progress in it. The author, however, holds no interest at all in a character he didn't come up with, so after that book Owyn allegedly gave up the life of adventure and went home to live a normal life - according to Word of God - his fate didn't even get an in-story explanation, much less an appearance on-screen.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe fans will never agree on it, but it seems that the decision to kill Anakin Solo just as they'd launched three major plot arcs around him (romance, check; special abilities, check; unique connection with enemy culture, check) was a bit of a dead end. Oddly, the writers of the post-New Jedi Order era seem to agree, as they keep making everyone relive his death. Oddly, Anakin bordered on Creator's Pet in the Corellian Trilogy. According to the writers, they were going to make Anakin the hero of the New Jedi Order books, but George Lucas vetoed it because he was afraid people would mix up Anakin Skywalker and Anakin Solo.
    • Jaina Solo as well, since the writers turned her into a Flat Character.
    • Also, Anakin's girlfriend, Tahiri Veila, gets this; while she was important for much of the New Jedi Order, she got Demoted to Extra in the last book and then hovered around in the background for a while, as if the writers were unsure what to do with her - and then brought her back into the spotlight only to have a lot of her Character Development undone so she could be derailed into a villain.
  • Brian Jacques is guilty of this quite often in the Redwall series, introducing a charismatic, kickass new character and then killing them off within two chapters. Has overlap with Too Cool to Live.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire does such a good job of creating fascinating characters, even ones that play very small roles, that it's inevitable to be upset at the horrible fates of at least one.
  • Did anyone else plod through Brisingr just hoping that Eragon and Roran will go away so we can have more Nasuada chapters? It's amazing how awesome and realistic she becomes, probably because Paolini makes her problems practical concerns rather than the philosophical, "deep" issues he tries to have the others grapple with.
  • The sardonic, tragic, cheerful Lenox from Agatha Christie's Mystery of the Blue Train. Admittedly, it wasn't her best novel anyway, but Lenox was infinitely preferable to the rather prissy Katherine.
  • For some, Peter Pettigew in the Harry Potter books. He's a central figure in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, but we never really learn anything more about him - not his motivations in betraying the Potters, not his family or personal history, and not much about what he was up to in books five to seven. Despite setting up a Chekhov's Gun in the third book about how he owes Harry a life debt, this comes to a rather lackluster conclusion in which he spares Harry's life (and this seems to be less his own choice as it is the "magical rules" that surround the life debt) and is promptly strangled by the silver hand Voldemort gave him - which doesn't make much sense anyway considering all the Death Eaters were under strict instructions not to kill Harry.
    • It's mentioned a few times that Peter Pettigrew was the type of person who was concerned for keeping his own skin safe. His spying and betraying was because he wanted Voldemort's protection by being on his side, rather than running risk of being killed. The part about his magical hand choking him to death stems from Voldemort's warning to not let his loyalty waver. And he hesitated a tiny moment, where he probably questioned his actions, that caused his death.
    • Rowling's writing is made of this, unfortunately - with Loads and Loads of Characters and a very protagonist-centralised focus, it stands to reason that at least a number of characters would feel like they were wasted in the long run. Some people have similar feelings about ones such as Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Luna Lovegood, Mad-Eye Moody, the Hogwarts professors besides Dumbledore & Snape (not to mention the trope namer for Hufflepuff House, and Ravenclaw doesn't get much more exposure)... if we all thought up a character whose development we might consider to be short-changed and compiled them in one place, we'd probably have enough guests to hire out an entire restaurant for.
      • Rowling has lamented this - she had a lot more that she wanted to include in the books that she couldn't due to Executive Meddling.
  • With the exception of Spink, all of Nevare's academy classmates completely disappear from the story after the first book of The Soldier Son. Especially Gord and his troubled relation to Trist seemed to have loads of potential, but they are never seen again.
  • Shannon Killbourne, to a lot of Babysitters Club readers.
  • Mary Watson, née Morstan, in Sherlock Holmes. Despite playing a major role in The Sign of Four, having quite a bit of genuine detective skill herself, and ending up married to Dr. Watson, she's never used again except in cameos, and during the Time Skip between "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House", she's killed off.
  • A few of the characters from The Hunger Games don't have much light shed on their motives, histories, etc..
    • A good example is Cinna. It is established immediately that he chose to style the District 12 tributes this time, despite them being so unpopular, but we never find out why. Or why he doesn't have a Capitol accent, or why his fashion isn't as extravagant, or... anything about him really.
    • Another character is Johanna who once says that the mimickery of the Jabberjays can't hurt her because everyone she loves is dead - we never find out why. She also barely appears in the third book.
    • Rue also doesn't get much characterisation - just enough to make her an appealing victim.
    • Nor does Prim. As the sister of the main character, and a huge motivation of Katniss' actions in the first book, you'd think some insight into her personality and their relationship would be shown.
    • Lavinia, the red-headed avox girl who Katniss and Gale saw escaping from the capitol. We're never told why they were running, how they got to district 12, or anything of the like, and she's promptly killed off with almost no part to play at all.
  • In Perry Moore's Hero, the protagonist Thom gets picked up at a gay bar by a slightly older young man and has his first kiss with him. Later, it's revealed that Thom's would-be beau is the supervillain Ssnake, who stands accused of murdering a beloved superhero at the time this was happening. When Thom reveals this to the public, it sets in motion a series of events that lead to the real villain's downfall and saves the planet from destruction. But sadly, we never see Ssnake again, even though he could have been a much more interesting love interest than Goran.
  • There were a few of these types in Animorphs, most notably Joe Bob Fenestre from The Warning and Arbat-Elivat-Estoni from The Arrival. David might count as well, given his much-anticipated return to the series was much less climatic than the fans were hoping for.

Live Action TV

  • Becca Swanson from Eastenders. An incredibly hot, manipulative Psycho Lesbian with an obsessive crush on Stacey Slater. Largely manipulated things from the sidelines and played a key role in the death of Stacey's husband, Bradley. Set herself up as Stacey's best friend, comforting her and driving a wedge between Stacey and her manic depressive mother, Jean with plenty of Les Yay between her and Stacey thrown into the mix. Then just as it looks as though Becca's plans are coming to fruition, Jean suddenly plucks up the courage to tell Stacey that Becca caused Bradley's death. Stacey slaps Becca who smashes Bradley's urn then just leaves without a fuss. She was a lot more interesting than a lot of antagonists on the show and was part of just about the only interesting plot they had at the time but both it and her just stayed in the background. It's like the writers deliberately thwart their own opportunities. They could have saved her for a fiery Christmas Day denouement.
  • Sherlock had many such examples, Kitty Reilly, Mycroft's mysterious and snarky assistant "Anthea", John's Action Girl girlfriend Sarah Sawyer, and DS Sally Donovan, but the stand out is likely Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Big Bad of Series 3. After being introduced as a shadowy antagonist who pretty much has the Western world in the palm of his hand and is capable of brow beating Mycroft, he's casually ended by a single bullet to the head and his schemes forgotten about by Series 4 with the worry that Moriarty might be Back From the Dead. He wasn't.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Whistler, the mysterious agent of the Powers That Be. Like the Doyle example below, the writers did have further plans for the character (in fact, Doyle was originally supposed to be Whistler), but the drug problems of the actor made this impossible.
  • Angel: The fifth season Big Bads, The Circle of Black Thorns, are introduced and killed off in just two episodes.
    • From the same show, Doyle. Arguably he needed to die in order to give Cordelia her powers as a seeress, but watching the dynamic between Angel, Doyle and Cordelia in those first few episodes... damn it makes you wish that they'd kept him around.
      • This is a case of Real Life Writes the Plot. He was supposed to stick around but the producers were getting increasingly worried about his drug problems.
  • A lot of early boots on Reality TV shows, game shows or otherwise come off as this way. See also Shocking Elimination; some people who seem genuinely good at the game or are actually good in talent shows wind up eliminated early, sometimes for the wrong reasons, sometimes for being the low-man on the totem pole.
    • Brian and Annie in the American version of Big Brother. Season 12 (where Annie was from) is probably one of the smartest players in a season full of already-educated and genre savvy players. (Even if some players were Genre Blind; they were pretty booksmart.) Brian meanwhile was actually considered a legit threat; there's a reason Julie Chen spoke to him more than she did the other early boots. Alex and Parker from season 9, too, were booted mostly for the wrong reasons.
    • From Survivor, we had Dolly from Vanuatu, Marisa and Betsy from Samoa (Russell actually voted them out because he said that those two could have beaten him), then Sugar, Stephanie, Tom, and Cirie in Heroes Vs. Villains.
  • Stargate SG-1: Linea, the genocidal maniac who could effortlessly hack computers, cure the blind, and make diseases that destroy planets, who had a complete understanding of how the Stargate worked, and was an old lady, seemed like such a cool villain for SG-1 to face. It was their fault she was loose in the first place, which adds drama. On top of that, she is obviously smarter than them, and how often do you see a quiet old lady as a villain anyway? Instead, she came back a year later; younger, mindwiped, and redeemed so Daniel could have a rebound girl, and then was completely forgotten about all over again.
    • Aside from Baal, Yu was by far the most interesting of the System Lords. He was the only one that was openly against Anubis from the beginning, was nice enough that his worshipers seemed to genuinely respect him instead of following out of fear, like Baal he recognised the value of not obliterating Earth, and was so old even by Goa'uld standards he was actually going senile. And yet with the exception of during a brief Enemy Mine situation none of this was really explored, and he went the way of all the other System Lords after the Replicators arrived.
  • A case where it was not the fault of the writers was Eko on Lost, likely the most interesting of the tail section survivors who is unceremoniously beaten to death by the smoke monster with plenty of interesting story left in him. This was mostly due to the actor wishing to back out, despite a large character arc having been planned by the writers.
    • Could be said of some of the short-termers on Lost: Libby, Charlotte, Ilana, etc. Shannon got the bridge when she was just starting to develop.
    • Richard, the mysterious immortal agent of Jacob, gained a lot of Memetic Badass points with fans due to his mysterious immortalness, as well as his actor Nestor Carbonell's incredibly badass eyelashes. A lot of people wanted to see more of him doing many badass things, however the timing of the unveiling of the background and the fact that mysterious characters don't stay mysterious for that long if you spend too much time on them, meant that he only got the one focus episode and some side character action in the final season.
    • Frank Lapidus. Brief dialogue painted him as something of a conspiracy theorist (on a mysterious island with time travel and reality-bending numbers and polar bears! Imagine the possibilities!), yet he was never given his own flashback episode (yeah, he shared one with the other freighter people, but that hardly counts). His upgrade to full-time status in season 6 was also wasted, as he didn't really have anything to do until the very end: somebody needed to fly that plane off the island.
  • Victor of Burn Notice started out as a cool recurring villain. He was an excellent Shadow Archetype to Michael, he and Michael shared loads of Ho Yay, he was an awesome Deadpan Snarker, and he was played by Michael Shanks. Naturally, when Victor and Michael teamed up, he died.
    • Tricia Helfer's fantastic villain Carla - another one who is offed way too soon.
  • Gillina on Farscape - a fan favorite who appeared in four episodes then fell victim to Death of the Hypotenuse.
  • Djaq from Robin Hood was a Sweet Polly Oliver who played the Gender Flipped role of the Saracen, brought from Jerusalem to England as a slave. She disguises herself as a boy, takes her twin brother's persona, and decides to join Robin and his outlaws as The Medic. The potential here was breathtaking - not only could it been a great Fish Out of Water story, but Djaq effortlessly took the place as The Heart of the group, had an intriguing dynamic with all her fellow outlaws (including a Love Triangle that was vastly more interesting than Robin, Marian and Guy forever whinging at each other) and an endearing superiority complex that was completely at odds with the actress's tiny stature. She almost instantly become the show's Ensemble Darkhorse, only for the writers to completely ignore her, throw her into an abrupt relationship with Will Scarlett, write her out of the show, and replace her with a Jerkass Sue who was hated by all and sundry, but who got twice as much screentime in one season than Djaq did in two.
  • The sorceress Nimeuh from Merlin: an interesting villain with plenty of justification for her crimes against Camelot, an intriguing backstory with Uther and Gaius, and plenty of mileage left in her as a character before she is killed off at the end of the first season.
    • The show also had Aglain, a wise Druid who rescues Morgana and helps her come to terms with her magical powers, only to be unceremoniously killed off by Arthur's men when they mistakenly think he's kidnapped her. Of course, this was entirely intentional - the character was designed in order to show Morgana that her magic was not to be feared and that (at the same time) men like Uther are to be pitied for their stance on magic. Given how Morgana eventually turns out, one can only mourn What Might Have Been had Aglain lived to be her mentor.
  • In Torchwood, Gwen was largely meant to be a Girl Next Door who ended up on the team, proved to be its 'Heart', and become Jack's second despite being less experienced than the rest. She only sometimes acting as 'Police Liaison' (for which she was originally hired in the first place) - they seemed to have realised their mistake since then the character has improved massively.
    • More like wasting a relationship, but the build-up between Jack and Ianto was underdeveloped. Ianto went from thinking Jack was a Complete Monster to completely deveoted to him in four episodes without any character development.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise features the tragically underutilised ship pilot Ensign Mayweather. Born and raised on a space freighter, he had the most practical space experience of the entire crew, despite his relative youth and low rank in Starfleet. The writers never seemed to grasp the inherent hooks of this however, and the poor ensign had more or less nothing significant to do during the show's entire run.
  • In Desperate Housewives, Lynette's horrible mother marries a wealthy but bad tempered, elderly racist. Normally the viewers would be eager to see the back of him except for two things: he was hinted to have Hidden Depths during the lead up to the wedding and he was played by Larry Hagman. He dies less than halfway through his second episode without the writers doing anything with him - the writers simply wanted an excuse to make Lynette's mother rich, ignoring the potential the character had in his own right.
  • The eponymous "Angel of Death" from the episode of the same name in the 80's War of the Worlds series. The Blackwood Project (a group of researchers and a military colonel who are fighting extraterrestrial invaders looking to conquer Earth) find out that there's a rogue assassin running around the city, interrogating and killing scores of aliens. The Blackwood team learn that this assassin (an android from another world) wants to help them save Earth, and eventually leads the team in a battle royale with a horde of invaders (during which she demonstrates that she has the ability to bring people back from death). Then, she just up and decides to go back to her homeworld for reinforcements, and is never seen again for the rest of the series.
  • Curtis from 24.
  • Burai from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. Super-cool Sixth Ranger, the first real Sixth Ranger in Super Sentai in fact. Fan-loved and wildly popular, but after his initial arc he gets no development and very little interaction with his team-mates due to Living on Borrowed Time and having to spend most of the series offscreen in a Place Beyond Time. He was eventually killed after it looked like they'd be able to restore his lifespan, in order to generate cheap pathos and to give Geki, the red ranger, his Bling of War.
  • Heroes had Elle played by Kristen Bell. The 7th episode of Season 3 set her up for a Heel Face Turn, only to abort it and the last minute. Then she starts a relationship with Sylar which seemed to be going well until he suddenly kills her.
    • An even better example is Scott the super soldier from Season 3. He's given significant screen time in Our Father, up to and including an explanation of his motives for participating in the program, which is a novelty in a show where characters do things for unexplained and inexplicable reasons. He is the first recipient of the perfected formula, neatly subverts With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, and is all set up to be a big player in the finale. Then the finale comes and minor villain Knox unceremoniously snaps his neck.
  • In Doctor Who you could actually argue this applies to the Doctor a couple of times. For all the mixed feelings that fans have about the TV movie, most agree that the 8th Doctor was a fine character, and we should have gotten more of him. The new series begins with the newly regenerated into the 9th, making him a case of We Hardly Knew Ye (though there are novels, comics, and radio plays he features in).
    • Then there was the 6th Doctor, who was supposed to start out as an abrasive, egotistical blowhard before softening considerably as his tenure went on. Executive Meddling cut his time short, so he never really got past being an abrasive, egotistical blowhard. Like the above example, there is Expanded Universe material that helps rectify this.
    • Other notable examples include Susan Foreman and Ian Chesterton not returning during the 50th anniversary celebrations, and the Time Lords from Series 7 onwards.
  • Supernatural features at least one of these a season: there's Meg's brother Tom in Season 1, most of the psychic kids in Season 2, Bela Talbot from Season 3, and so on.
  • Jade West from Victorious. Though first introduced as a textbook Alpha Bitch, she quickly showed that she had some Hidden Depths and might have had a Hidden Heart of Gold. But despite everything, she remained an ungrateful Static Character who refused to change no matter what with any Character Development she underwent being chucked aside in the next episode in favour of keeping her a Plot Irrelevant Villain.

Professional Wrestling

  • In the WWE, Muhammad Hassan was original portrayed as an Arab-American suffering from racism in a post-9/11 world. Judging by his character alone, he had the potential of becoming one of the biggest woobies ever. However, he was treated as a typical Foreign Wrestling Heel by the fans despite being billed from Detroit, Michigan to the point where he eventually became the very thing he was stereotyped as.


  • Dark Hunter Ancient of Bionicle. See here as to why. Other Dark Hunters might also count, such as Guardian, who only ever appeared in one scene before being killed by the Big Bad For the Evulz, even though they had an in-depth backstory written for him. Toyless Toyline Characters are prone to this.
    • Some might think they wasted Tren Krom too. Sure, he had a great impact on the story already, and was a very interestingly developed character (some sort of a benevolent but still mean-spirited Eldritch Abomination who's terrified to see what the world he was once appointed to rule had come to), but he was bound to his island prison, which limited his use greatly. Then, he became free, and when we next see him... his pieces are all over the scenery. Justified in that killing off powerful characters was the point of this story, but still. There was great potential in the guy.
    • And now Telluris. A crazed and evil Gadgeteer Genius who does have a good side, but this is usually overshadowed by his mighty mechanical scorpion-war machine, the Skopio XV-1. The Skopio only ever appeared in one scene (not counting its animation model appearing in The Legend Reborn), in a difficult-to-get side story, and got trashed. Thus, the most defining aspect of Telluris' character was gone. Telluris also received an in-depth history, and even seemed like an actual likeable character, only to be killed off later for no reason whatsoever, before he could do anything that had an impact on the plot.

Video Games

  • Nihlus in Mass Effect has a bridge drop on him five minutes into the game. Only those who read one of the novels can fully appreciate Nihlus' badassness.
  • Darth Nihilus in the second Knights of the Old Republic game is a mysterious Humanoid Abomination who communicates exclusively in the untranslated language used by Atris' Sith Holocrons, can destroy planets using the power of the Force and was featured very prominently on the cover of the game. Judging from cut content he is also substantially more powerful than undead Implacable Man Darth Sion. However, when you confront him he's easily beaten and turns out to have been a pawn of Kreia/Darth Traya all along and he isn't even named in the game. He gives the impression of being Too Powerful to Live more than anything.
  • Psychonauts develops even the random NPCs with their own back stories and personalities, so you could say this for just about any of them. Dr. Loboto may be the best example, though---a Depraved Dentist, one of the funniest characters and set up as the Big Bad (or at least The Dragon to him), he turns out to be an Anticlimax Boss you don't even really fight.
  • Cheria in Tales of Graces had much much more room to develop. Heck, this is a Tales (series) game! They have all sorts of nice character development in there yet Cheria seems almost put in there just to be the Token Love Interest. Unfortunately; she turns out to be a stereotypical Damsel in Distress, and violates many beliefs that Real Women Never Wear Dresses. Kind of sad though; she's kind of a Woobie, too.
    • Namco Bandai does seem to have realized this, as Cheria becomes more developed in Tales of Graces f. Still not nearly as much as she should be though.
    • Cheria was lucky compared to many of Tales of Destiny 2 characters. Most of the story focuses so much on Kyle and Reala that there's only a handful scenes for other members, especially so for Loni Dunamis (Kyle's best bud) and Nanaly Fletch (Loni's would-be girlfriend) who, after joining, seemed to exist only to 'tag along'. At least Judas and Harold got things to do in the past arc, what with the first being Leon Magnus Back From the Dead, the other is a historical person. And once the past arc is done, it's back to Kyle-Reala getting most focus again, and they're just 'tagging along'.
      • Reala herself suffers from this even as she's the Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Namco-Bandai can be pretty brutal about deconstructing Common Mary Sue Traits. Reala however, plays them all perfectly straight with no new interpretations or real negative consequences for her.
      • Although the Reala issue can be justified that TOD2 was one of the earlier titles of Tales (series) before Namco arguably grow some beard in terms of writing a balanced love story, other character focus or totally deconstructing Common Mary Sue Traits, so they make mistakes in the first go, and learn on how to deconstruct after their experience with Reala.
    • Yeager from Tales of Vesperia doesn't get a lot of light shed on his motives, despite being a main villain. What little we find out is pieced together through sidequests, and still leaves a lot unsaid.
  • Himi from Golden Sun Dark Dawn, introduced maybe an hour before the end of the game. There are nameless NPCs with more screen time than she gets.
  • The Shadow Triad from Pokémon Black and White are introduced as the most loyal servants of Team Plasma's boss. They have cool teleporting powers unlike anything seen in a Pokémon villain before. They are introduced really late into the game, are never fought and their only purpose seems to be passing down messages and items from their boss. In other words, any regular grunt could have filled in their role without any effort whatsoever. It's for this reason that some fans think that the Triad may have an expanded role in Black2 and White2, though we'll see when we see.
  • Hammer from the Castlevania Sorrow games, big time. As a former military member who provides a lot of the games' humor, he sure doesn't get a lot of attention, made worse by the fact that he was Dummied Out of Dawn of Sorrow from the extra Julius Mode as well as not appearing in Harmony of Despair when voice clips indicated that he was planned. Worse still, according to this interview, Iga also likes the character.
  • The majority of Touhou characters (and there are a lot) still manage to be interesting despite their brief appearance, and even ones with multiple appearances have large chunks of their personality and past underutilised or just unexplored. Mima, Shinki, Flandre, Ran, Mokou, Komachi, Nitori, Parsee, and Minamitsu are merely a small list of the characters fans became enamored with and speculate about constantly despite their small roles. Indeed this is part of the reason for the truly gargantuan Doujin community that arose around the games, fans exploring every aspect they can imagine, and even the fighting Gaiden Games and Expanded Universe manga (given input from ZUN but mostly made by other people) take the opportunity to expand upon the characters in more detail and attention.
  • A good quarter of the playable cast of Chrono Cross has absolutely fantastic storytelling potential, including one that was originally intended to be a returning character from the previous game and one that was intended to be the son of two chracters from the previous game, not to mention the horde of characters with interesting and engaging introductions. Then, because the herd of characters is so vast, they all effectively cease to exist once they join the party, ensuring that aside from the male and female protagonists, nobody recieves any characterization or development over the course of the game past their introduction. The connections to the previous game were dropped entirely to make room for more undeveloped roster-filler.
  • Many Fire Emblem characters suffer from the same problems, but they (usually) get Support Conversations to make up for it. Renault in the 7th game though plays this trope straight: he has one of the most deep and complex backstories in the entire series... but he joins right before the final chapter, meaning it'll take about 10 playthroughs for you to actually realise this.
    • In the same game, Florina and Sain do interact once or twice throughout the game[2] but generally not for anything more than a gag. What's particularly wasteful about it is that you have a perfect relationship to base Support Conversations on (where the meat of the game's characterisations occur with non-Lord units), and yet it doesn't ever happen.
  • Dead to Rights has several characters die after appearing in just a few chapters (if they're lucky), but the clearest example of this trope is Patch, a suave assassin who is introduced in a cutscene getting the drop on Jack Slate, killing the villain he was chasing for most of the chapter, and framing Jack for his murder, leading to the prison level. Making the scene memorable is that he has a distinct design from the other villains (dyed hair, the eponymous eyepatch, and a gold Luger), speaks with a subtle accent (unlike some other characters), and treats his hits as if he were an artist, complete with discussing his hit on the phone as if negotiating an art commission. He does not get a single line for the rest of the game, and does not appear again until four chapters later, where he dies anticlimactically in a Car Chase boss fight.
  • Sarah from Lost Odyssey seems to be the one party member who has little to no character development in the game. Her purpose seems to be to look after the kids and give Kaim an opportunity to show his softer side. She's also the only immortal who doesn't have an entry in the 1000 Years Of Dreams.
  • Adam from the first Shining Force is the token robot in a mostly fantasy setting. He is introduced alongside Chaos, who was his ally until Darksol reprogrammed him. The main problem with Adam: he's dangerously underleveled for how late in the game he joins (within the last seven battles). Even with a Power Ring, he's lucky to even scratch the softer enemies for more than one hit point of damage, and God forbid the enemy AI ever targets him in his currently fragile state. While he can be one of the best tanks with enough training, even people who like him find him to be a waste of time to bother training.
  • Love Live! School Idol Festival All Stars:
    • Subverted for Haruka Konoe (Kanata's sister); Prior to her full appearance in the 14th chapter of Kanata's bond story, she never appeared in the storyline other than being The Ghost.
    • In some extent, Ayumu Uehara's pet snake Sasuke is never even mentioned in the game either.
    • Time will tell on whether Tsuki Watanabe, a movie-exclusive character, will ever appear in the game.

Web Original

  • Presumably; this was what the producer of Sims Big Brother thought about Kristen and Roscoe. Before he canceled the original Sims Big Brother 7, the two were brought back as the guest star players. Both were evicted second and didn't have a chance to develop (That and SRN admits that he had almost no creativity while working on Sims Big Brother 4 anyways; and it shows.) However when the viewers chose the cast of All stars, Roscoe sadly didn't make the cut (He did have several amusing moments; though, more than can be said for Kristen) but Kristen was one of two people from season 4 that made it in - the other was Johnny. Kristen wasn't even a producer's choice!
    • Unfortunately; the same could be said about a lot of the big brother 4 cast. CJ seemed almost a background prop despite being popular enough to win (Viewers voted on the winner) Brian and Sam seemed to be in control of the game, heck, Sam is the only player who was never nominated.
    • The viewers also thought this about Dana, too. Dana was another early boot from Big Brother season 2 but was voted in as well.

Western Animation

  • King of the Hill featured one episode with a cross dressing character known as Carolyn/Jamie. In the episode she became close friends with Peggy, and her male persona Jamie even got along well with Hank and the rest of the gang. After she taught Peggy about how it's okay to be different she was never seen again to the dismay of many fans.
  • Winx Club: Chimera. Her introduction showed quite some promise, but then she got saddled with a Guess Who I'm Marrying plot, which went in a completely predictable direction... that is, except for a couple things that viewers totally expected to happen: the plot taking a trip to her school, Stella having to make a truce with her, and Stella having a decent final battle with her.
  • Rocket Power introduced a potential love interest for Reggie, in an ep that shows her being afraid to show her real sports skills. Total episode count? Two, with his only other episode centering around Reggie feeling offended that she wasn't invited to play rugby like her fellow friends. At least with Breezy (who was similarly introduced for Reggie's dad and got the same episode count), she had the excuse of being a traveling saleswoman...
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Bubble Bass could be a good Arch Enemy to SpongeBob, but for years he didn't make ​​an appearance after the first season. In season 8, however he finally made a comeback and is now a recurring character again in the post sequel era.
  • The Fairly Odd Parents gives us an example of a character saved from the waste heap: Remy Buxaplenty (and his fairy godparent) made such an impression on the fans in one appearance that they clamored for more, and they eventually got another episode. However, Remy then stopped appearing after his fourth episode while his godparent still got to make more appearances without him.
    • Remember that Trixie Tang is actually a tomboy scared of alienating her 'friends' if she behaved anyway that she wasn't expected to? And even before that, in her first appearance, she showed that she was nice deep down, rather than just a spoiled Jerkass? The writers sure don't...
  • Because of the setup of Total Drama Island, all of the cast members are theoretically equal in standing, and as a result, just about everyone became an Ensemble Darkhorse to a particular fan base. During the second season, however, only some of them won a chance to compete, and most of them were the characters who had already gotten far in the first season. Many fans disapproved, and season three gave more attention to some of the less-used characters, though disagreements arose about whether it was enough after Duncan returned.
    • Ezekiel's situation deserves special mention. He was the first contestant voted off in season one and was left out of season two, but got quite a sizeable fan base anyway, perhaps especially due to the extremely popular Total Drama Comeback Series. There was a whole mini-mystery about whether or not he would be in season three, and when it turned out he was, fans got really excited... and then he got voted off first again. And then, just so his fans really understood how much the show's writers hated them, he devolved into an Expy of Gollum for no logical reason, and got to "come back" as a Running Gag before falling into a volcano in the finale. Needless to say, many of his fans have been crying this trope.
    • Eva hasn't had much screen time either. She may not be the best character, but she deserves more screen time. Maybe she could actually help significantly in a challenge, or explain why she's so angry at everything. Ezekiel has been in the competition more than her. EZEKIEL!
  • Kevin from Family Guy was generally liked by the fandom, mostly as a love interest for Meg. He was hardly ever seen, though--and then suddenly, out of nowhere, his father casually mentions that he died in Iraq. As far the fans knew, he hadn't even been in Iraq. Of course, this was really an intentionally flippant way to explain away his affliction with Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
    • And the Fandom Rejoiced when it was retconned that he wasn't really dead after all, and Joe's casual mention of his "death" was actually because the army did a paper work mix-up and Kevin had faked his death to avoid having to be in the army. Though repeated again later on as it became clear that Kevin wasn't ever going to be used in the same capacity, or any major capacity, ever again.
    • Meg is an odd example: she's a major character who appears in just about every episode, but Word of God admits they have no idea what to do with a teenage girl character. Their solution is just to show her being hating by everyone for no reason, mocked for being fat and ugly, and slowly slipping into depression/insanity. Jeez. As a result of this, even her fans hope for an episode that will one day permanently write Meg out of the show.
  • Every minor kid on South Park has his own fandom, even though many of them are only meant to be one-off characters. The show has a good number of Day in The Limelight episodes, but unfortunately, we all just have to accept that Damien isn't coming back anytime soon. And that Henrietta is the only Goth kid who will ever get a name.
    • Gary Harrison the Mormon kid was fairly popular during his debut and seemed like he would become a recurring character, but alas he never appeared again aside from a brief non-speaking cameo.
    • Similarly, the new characters from The Movie such as The Mole, Gregory and Dr. Vosknocker never appeared again (outside of a very brief cameo from the Mole).
  • Leroy of Lilo and Stitch: The Series was billed as one of the main antagonists of Leroy & Stitch. He was Stitch's Evil Counterpart, was stronger and more dangerous than Stitch and would have made a good villain. However, in the movie he is little more than an Elite Mook for Hamsterviel and didn't receive any Character Development or anything. He contributes very little to the film and you can practically edit him out and replace him with clones of Stitch instead.
  • It seems the Adventure Time writers did this with 13-year old Princess Bubblegum. She has only a little over an episode before being changed back to normal.
  • The majority of the villains in Batman Beyond never get used for more than three episodes before getting dropped for no apparent reason.
    • Blight is the biggest offender. He was the Big Bad of the first season and set up as the Big Bad of the series period... but nope, he never returned after the first season's finale.
      • The character did reappear in the comics, however - to elaborate, his body survived, but he doesn't seem to remember anything about his past life outside of hatred and a desire for vengeance for Batman and Paxton Powers, and was eventually made into a target for the Stalker, and was eventually killed by being caught in a blast furnace.
  • Bane in The Batman. He gets used for one episode, and the next time Batman has to face a huge muscular villain capable of breaking his back, it ends up being Joker using Bane's venom. Seriously? He then showed up in a few other episodes...with no lines, and being now able to be brought down easily.
    • Also, while not really badly used, Poison Ivy showed alot more potential that was realized in the spin-off comic series far more than it ever was in the show. "The Batman/Superman Story" two-parter is the biggest example of the show's wasting of her.
  • Bunnie Rabbot of Sonic Sat AM made interesting use of the show's robotocization concept and had kickass cyborg powers to boot. However she had a supporting role in the majority of the first season and was Demoted to Extra in the second, arguably getting the least amount of development time out of the rest of the Freedom Fighters (keeping in mind Rotor and Tails were also heavily Out of Focus for most of the show's later run). The comics adapted from the show utilize her a bit more, but still play her as one of the more minor leads.
  • General Immortus from the fifth season of Teen Titans. He's one of the core members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad and he's a military genius with millennia of experience, but at the end of the day he appears in only a handful of episodes, in only one of which he has lines, and does little but boss the Mooks around. In the Final Battle, he gets an ignominious curbstomp where his three companions all go down fighting hard (or at least the Brain has a Dragon fight hard and leaves a booby-trap himself).
  • Koh the Face-Stealer from Avatar: The Last Airbender, a fascinatingly creepy spirit who looks like a giant centipede and can steal the faces of victims to wear as his own. With tantalizing hints that he has dealt with the Avatar in the past and will do so again in the future, he never reappeared in the show. Hopefully he'll turn up in Sequel Series The Legend of Korra.
  • Of all the complaints frequently lobbied by My Life Me's immense hatedom, one of the most common is "Why is this show about an annoying weeaboo bitch and not Mr. Towes?"
  • As much as Transformers Prime and Transformers: Cyberverse got great praise from fans and critics, both received flak for their Anyone Can Die mentality, offing potentially very interesting Autobots and Decepticons, some right in the middle of their character arcs, even if it increased the shows' realism.
    • Both also received some flak for their treatment of humans. The humans in Prime were considered very interesting characters but were shoved into the background mid-way through Season 2; axing off MECH and never developing the potentially interesting Sierra; while Cyberverse didn't have any human characters. Even those fans who don't normally care for humans, felt it left Earth empty with the lack of collateral damage making the conflict seem stake-less.
  • Rick and Morty has many such examples but the two main ones are Morty's sister Summer, who some view as underdeveloped and a rich story potential, and his love interest Jessica who's had very little development and personality.
    • Other notable ones include the surprisingly popular Frank, whom the writers have outright said they have no interest in ever reusing, and Worldender, who was hyped as a Thanos/Darkseid type but was offed in favour of a Shallow Parody of the superhero genre.
    • Tammy, the Honey Trap agent who might have become Rick's Arch Enemy is unceremoniously killed off in the Season 4 finale.
  • Steven Universe had Loads and Loads of Characters so it was unavoidable that the twenty episode Steven Universe: Future fell victim to this. A notable example was that Centipeedle never appeared in the Sequel Series.
  • With the exception of Benny, Sam and Chas, none of The Loud House siblings crushes from "L is for Love" do not reappear. Lincoln has gone back to having a "Will they? or Won't they?" relationship with Ronnie Anne, while the most flawed character of the show, Lynn forgets her crush on Francisco and tried dating someone else named Dexter in "Singled Out".
    • Another one was Cheryl in "Inster-Gran". She was introduced as a potential recurring character as Pop Pop's new girlfriend. After that episode, she was Demoted to Extra with silent cameos.
  • Post Season 3 it is impossible to discuss Miraculous Ladybug without someone mentioning this about Chloé Bourgeois. For all her many character flaws, her Season 2 episodes did show her becoming more likeable, admitting her mistakes and showing that she wasn't completely heartless. Then Season 3 amped up her flaws and made her nasty and bratty enough to side with Hawk Moth, throwing out all her Character Development. Even beyond that, some argue that her Face Heel Turn was better suited to be something Lila Rossi did given that Lila, aside from already being the series' resident Hate Sink, had already sided with Hawk Moth. And Season 4 only increased this feeling as Chloé became even more of a bratty Attention Whore than she already was.
  1. many droids got more lines than he did
  2. by virtue of both appearing in the tutorial and remaining with Lyn at its end, as no characters under the player's control die when defeated until the Time Skip