We can pretty much count on a sequel when a movie does well at the box office. And we can always count on more than one movie when feelings of nostalgia or a book series are involved. (Here’s looking at you, comic books and ’80s cartoons.) But let’s face it, sequels can be a lot fun. We want to see great characters again. We want to know what they’ve been up to in the in-between time. And if the previous film left any loose ends, we want those resolved.
But sometimes things happen. And when the sequel comes around, we don’t get all of the characters back. Maybe it was failed contract negotiations with the actor or the sequel was going in a different direction that couldn’t accommodate a particular character. Whatever the reason, it can be a shock to fans when a character is suddenly missing from the next movie. They haven’t been replaced with a different actor, they’re simply gone.
We may get a heads up before the movie’s release. We may get a short, often meaningless, explanation in the new film as to the whereabouts of the character. Or we may get nothing at all. Sometimes the disappearance makes sense, but many times it just leaves us scratching our heads as we’re walking out of the theater.
Here are 15 characters who didn’t make it into the sequel.
15. Adam Yates – Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Hot Tub Time Machine opened at #3 at the box office and ended up grossing almost $66 million in its theatrical run worldwide. Couple that with almost $33 million in domestic DVD and Blu-Ray sales and we were guaranteed a sequel to this surprise hit. Five years later, we got one, but it was not up to par with the first film. Disappointment in the sequel began even before its release when we learned John Cusack would not be returning. Adam Yates was replaced with his son (played by Adam Scott) and his non-appearance was quickly explained away as his character writing a best-selling book and on a trip of self-discovery.
Reasons varied from Rob Corddry stating in an interview with All Access Pass with Billy Kidd that Cusack was too serious of an actor and it wasn’t “his cup of tea”, to Cusack himself tweeting that he hadn’t been asked back. Regardless of the reason for his character’s departure, Adam Yates does make a cameo in the unrated home release version. He showed up briefly, killed Lou, and then disappeared. The scene was cut for the theatrical release because it just didn’t fit.
14. Agent L – Men In Black II
Laurel Weaver proved she could hold her own in Men In Black. As the cynical deputy medical examiner, she examined plenty of aliens, had been neuralyzed numerous times, and saved Agents K and J from the alien cockroach. The final scene showed Agent K had returned to his wife after being neuralyzed by J. And in a fitting move, Laurel, now Agent L, was J’s new partner, leaving us with a promising lead-in to a sequel. But when Men in Black 2 was released five years later, Agent L was gone, with only a very brief mention that she returned to being a medical examiner. Agent J and Agent K, after a drawn out journey, teamed back up to fight the aliens.
Although there has never been a clear explanation as to why Agent L wasn’t brought back, the rumor mill worked overtime churning out theories. Some stating Linda Fiorentino was dropped because cast and crew complained she was difficult and didn’t want to work with her again. Others stating the studio wanted Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones together again, so there was simply no room for Agent L. Regardless of the reason, it was a missed opportunity for a great pairing.
13. Jack Traven – Speed 2: Cruise Control
From elevator to bus to subway train, Jack Traven saved the day time and time again in Speed. Paired with Annie Porter, the two raced to box office success. So, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when a sequel was in the works. But instead of the same critically acclaimed nail-biting action of the first film, we got what is easily the worst sequel in movie history. And no Jack Traven. Jack had been replaced with Alex (Jason Patric) as Annie’s new love interest. She explained his absence with the phrase, “relationships based on extreme circumstances never work out.” And sequels to film called Speed that are set on a slow-moving cruise ship clearly don’t work out either.
When it came time for the sequel, Keanu Reeves opted not to participate, despite being offered a hefty salary. He told Jimmy Kimmel that after reading the script, he just couldn’t do it. We don’t blame you, Keanu.
12. Vicki Vale – Batman Returns
1989’s Batman was the revival we needed. Michael Keaton as Batman, Jack Nicholson as The Joker, Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, and Prince’s soundtrack to back it all up. After being nominated for, and winning, many awards and grossing more than $250 million in the U.S. alone, it was a given Keaton would be back for more.
When the aptly named sequel Batman Returns was released, Keaton was there as Batman, but Vicki Vale was a no-show. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise, however. Can a superhero ever truly have a committed relationship when there is so much crime fighting to be done? It was an obvious plot choice. Bruce Wayne explained it away with: “There were two truths, and she had trouble reconciling them.” While Vicki was dismissed with that one line, it was a nice set up for his new relationship with Selina Kyle, who was secretly Catwoman.
11. Tom Hagen – The Godfather Part III
Tom Hagen was an integral part of the Family. He served as consigliere and took over briefly as Don after the attempt on Michael’s life in The Godfather Parts I and II. He was cold, calculating, and most of all, fiercely loyal. Yet when The Godfather Part III came out, Hagen is notably absent. In a rather flippant dismissal, there was only a mention that he had died at some point in the timeline between Part II and Part III.
Francis Ford Coppola has stated in the past that a split between Hagen and Michael was to be a central plot in Part III. However due to salary disagreements between the studio and Robert Duvall, the character was dropped from the third film. Duvall had turned down the $1 million offered and demanded the same salary as Al Pacino at $5 million, but the studio refused. Coppola later stated he regretted having to write out Hagen because he was such an essential character.
10. Vanessa Kensington – Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Technically, yes, Vanessa did appear at the beginning of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. We quickly learned, however, that she was a “fembot” controlled by Dr. Evil. In a failed assassination attempt on Austin, she exploded. All of this occurred despite contradictory information from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, such as the existence of her mother. Last time we checked, fembots didn’t have mothers. Basil tells Austin that they knew all along she was a fembot, which only adds to the mystery. Was Vanessa switched by Dr. Evil at some point? Was she killed off screen? Is she still being held captive somewhere? Why would they pair Austin with someone who would turn on him? Was she a sleeper agent programmed to believe she was real? Oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.
9. Matt Hooper – Jaws 2
Jaws is undeniably one of the greatest movies of all time, but as for its sequels? Not so much. Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss, was an oceanographer and a major character in the first film. He and Chief Brody survived, while Quint did not. In Jaws 2, Chief Brody was once again plagued by a killer great white. But when he calls Hooper for help again, he discovers that Hooper is on an expedition on the Aurora and unavailable.
Erland Josephson had been offered the role of Hooper in the sequel, but turned it down and the character was subsequently cut from the film. As for why Richard Dreyfuss didn’t return, he stated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Jaws was so good because of Spielberg and he wasn’t directing the sequel. In fact, at the time of shooting Jaws 2, Spielberg and Dreyfuss were busy with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Spielberg later stated he declined to direct because of the production problems he faced on the first movie.
8. Newt and Corporal Hicks – Alien 3
Sometimes a character not returning in a sequel just hurts. In Aliens, we cheered for the survival of Ripley, Newt, and Corporal Hicks and we were rewarded when they did, in fact, survive to the end of the film. But then Alien 3 happened and any hopes of Ripley’s family surviving again were shattered very quickly. Newt and Hicks were killed at the very start when the Sulaco crashed on the prison planet, leaving Ripley as the only survivor.
The omissions made sense after the fact. Michael Biehn had scheduling conflicts and Carrie Henn was no longer pursuing an acting career. Plus, given that she was six years older, it may have been difficult for her to portray a 10-year old. So rather than replace the actors, a decision was made to kill the characters. At least in this sequel we get more than a one-line remark. Ripley actually spends a good deal of time mourning the loss of Newt.
7. Karen Jenson – Blade II
In Blade, Karen Jenson was a force to be reckoned with. A brilliant hematologist, she developed a cure for herself after she was bitten and Whistler’s remedy didn’t work for her. She also developed a weapon for Blade to use against the vampires. She mercilessly burned Pearl with the UV light. And when things were looking grim for Blade, she allowed him to feed on her so he could regain his strength and defeat Deacon Frost. She was awesome.
Karen and Blade made a great team, especially once Whistler was gone. In the end, she agreed to make him a more efficient serum rather than a cure. It was quite a surprise then to not only find no Karen in Blade 2, but no explanation of her absence. We did get a pre-Walking Dead Norman Reddus as the new sidekick, so there was that. But the only hint to Karen at all was that Blade had a very large amount of serum in smaller bottles. Perhaps this indicated that he didn’t need as much serum anymore and once she developed enough, she left.
6. Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Based on a theme park ride at Disney World, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has spawned four movies with a fifth coming in July 2017.
At World’s End, the third installment, ended with Elizabeth and Will having their one day on land together before Will must return to the Dutchman for the next ten years. The bonus scene after the credits showed Elizabeth and her son watching the sunset and waiting for Will to return for one more day. Per Disney, this scene served as the end of the Will and Elizabeth storyline.
Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley both announced after filming At World’s End that they would not be returning because they wanted to pursue other projects and felt the Will/Elizabeth storyline had gone as far as it could go. So it came as no surprise really when their characters weren’t present four years later in On Stranger Tides. Seen as more of a stand-alone movie, it was a Jack Sparrow focused story.
5. Mikaela Banes – Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Sam Witwicky and Mikaela Banes were a good team as they fought Decepticons in the first two Transformers films. But when things grew contentious between Megan Fox and Michael Bay off screen, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Mikaela was a no-show in Dark of the Moon. Wheelie and Brains explained it by stating Sam was dumped by his girlfriend.
The rumors surrounding Megan Fox’s departure from the Transformers franchise were dramatic enough to warrant their own film. She stated it was her choice not to return because Michael Bay was verbally abusive to her, even stating he was like Hitler on the set. Michael Bay claimed at one point he was told by Steven Spielberg to fire her due to the Hitler comment, only to say later that his statement about Spielberg was taken out of context.
Whatever truly happened, the character Mikaela Banes was replaced with a new love interest for Sam. Shia LeBeouf chimed in on the controversy by sticking to character development, stating it was a blessing Mikaela was written out because she and Sam “had become one. There was no arc. There was no room for Sam to be heroic. They were sharing the same experience.”
4. Sam Witwicky – Transformers: Age of Extinction
Following closely behind Megan Fox’s departure from Transformers was Shia LaBeouf’s announcement that he no longer wished to continue in the series. In an interview with MTV News shortly before the release of Dark of the Moon, LaBeouf stated he felt there was nowhere for his character to go, but he would do any movie Michael Bay wanted him to do.
Bay and writer Ehren Kruger obviously agreed with LaBeouf and in the fourth installment, Sam Witwicky is gone and we got a whole new cast with no mention of the whereabouts of Sam. Missing from Age of Extinction are also Will Lennox and his entire NEST strike force team. We get references to the Battle of Chicago, but no mention of Lennox himself or his team. It’s most likely NEST ended when the government dissolved its alliance with the Autobots, but to not even mention so many characters’ fates just seemed odd. Will Lennox is listed as coming back for Transformers 5 in 2017, however, so maybe we’ll finally get some resolution.
3. The Joker – The Dark Knight Rises
The Joker’s final scene in The Dark Knight had him hanging upside down over the edge of a building as Gotham SWAT closed in to capture him. It arguably left his fate open to interpretation and a possible reappearance in a third installment of this dark reboot of the Batman franchise.
At the end of filming The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan didn’t know if he wanted to make a third film. Those close to the film’s production have said Nolan and Heath Ledger became close friends during filming and Nolan gained a lot of respect for what he brought to the role. So if a third film was to be made, it was very likely Ledger would’ve been asked back.
The tragic and untimely death of Ledger ended that possibility, and there is no mention of The Joker in The Dark Knight Rises. That hasn’t stopped fans from theorizing where The Joker might have been during the sequel, however. Some guessing he was left in Arkham Asylum while everyone else was moved to Blackgate Prison when the Dent Act was passed and others surmising he simply escaped. No matter where he may be, the idea that Heath Ledger’s Joker is somewhere out there in The Dark Knight Rises is a strangely comforting thought.
2. Steven Hiller – Independence Day: Resurgence
Audiences didn’t have to wait until the film’s release to learn that Steven Hiller would not be returning for the sequel to Independence Day. Fox set up a site called “War of 1996″ with an interactive timeline of events that occurred between the two films. On April 27, 2007, the world mourned the death of Hiller, now a Colonel. His death is portrayed as being caused by an unknown malfunction while he test piloted a new alien hybrid fighter. The site states Hiller was a “beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat.”
Originally set to be a father-son story, writers of the sequel had to rework the script when Will Smith decided to not join the cast. As for why he chose to not come back to the film that launched him into super-stardom, he said it was a decision between this sequel and Suicide Squad. In reaction to his character’s fate, Smith told Yahoo!, “It was terrible when I found out my character died.”
1. Carol Marcus – Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
The most recent character to be written out of a sequel is Carol Marcus in Star Trek Beyond. After joining the Enterprise crew at the end of Into Darkness, it was a logical expectation that she would return. But when Beyond opened a few weeks ago, not only was she not in it, there was absolutely no mention of her at all. In the August 2nd Star Trek podcast, Simon Pegg explained that he and co-writer Doug Jung didn’t want to “underserve” her character by only including her as a small supporting role and killing the character would have been a bad option. He stated it was better to “have her be alive, in canon, and be ready to come back at any time.”
This isn’t the first time poor Carol Marcus has been written out of a sequel either. Introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as the lead scientist working on Project Genesis and mother to Kirk’s son, David, Carol was subsequently written out of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Harve Bennet wanted to include her in the third film, but ultimately decided the character was extraneous to the story and didn’t use her, being able to cut the film’s budget as a result.