10 Characters From Famous TV Shows Who Were Swept Under The Carpet

Disappeared into limbo when the writers realised they served zero purpose. Awkward.

In the world of popular culture, a dreaded disease exists called the Chuck Cunningham syndrome, named after the oldest son on Happy Days who tragically disappeared from the series without explanation. This disease often ravages innocent characters whose only crime was not being useful enough to the progression of a plot. On television, some characters suffering from Chuck Cunningham syndrome are major characters whose absence we notice and puzzle over (for example, Judy Winslow in Family Matters). More often than not, they are characters who, for one reason or another, just did not work when production of a series began. Of course, Chuck Cunningham syndrome is actually the result of lazy writers who hope we will not remember these minor characters and will focus, instead, on the more well known and loved characters of a series. But some of us do remember, and we puzzle over what could have been the fate of poor characters, like those in this list, who were written out without explanation and largely forgotten by all but the most die-hard fans of the shows they were on. So, here are 10 characters intended to be regulars you probably don't remember from famous shows, in no particular order, starting with the namesake of the disease himself...

10. Chuck Cunningham - Happy Days

Happy Days was a spin-off from Love, American Style, and, in the episode "Love and the Happy Days," we were introduced to the three child Cunningham family. Oldest child Chuck Cunningham (Ric Carrot) was intended to be kind of an older mentor to Ron Howard's middle child Richie, whom the latter could count on for sagely advice. When ABC picked up Happy Days for its own run, Gavan O'Herlihy was cast as Chuck. Chuck didn't work so well as a character on Happy Days, though, and the writers found it hard to find ways to include him in episodes. Many of his appearances were brief exchanges with his family before he went to basketball practice and, out of all the first season characters, Chuck received the least development. To make matters worse, O'Herilhy left the show before the season was up, and Randolph Roberts was cast to play the character for the last few episodes of the season. By this time, Henry Winkler's Fonzie had become a breakout character on the show and assumed the role intended for Chuck. Chuck was written out at the beginning of the second season with the explanation that he had gone off to college. The character was never heard from or mentioned again after the second season, and it became sort of a running gag among the cast that a Cunningham child had just been completely forgotten to time, with Marion Ross even asking in a blooper of the final episode, "Where's Chuck?"

Christopher A. Rothbauer is a freelance writer who specializes in nostalgic television and B-movies. His current project is the blog Saved by the Bell...Reviewed!, which reviews every episode of the Saved by the Bell franchise one week at a time. He lives in the southern Indiana suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky.