Wednesday, November 7, 2007

“The Chuck Cunningham Syndrome”

This morning, I was racking my brain (don’t worry, it’s a little rack) trying to think of a good blog topic when two thoughts came to mind. After I recovered from the momentary overload, I thought about television characters that have been portrayed by two actors or actresses, as well as those characters that disappear off the face of the television screen with no explanation. Leave it to and Wikipedia to leave me a wealth of examples to choose from.

Two incidents of characters disappearing from shows with no explanation that stuck out in my mind was the youngest daughter, Judy, on “Family Matters” (portrayed by Jaimee Foxworth) and Chuck Cunningham, the oldest brother on “Happy Days.” I found in my research that the mysterious disappearance of characters from television shows has been dubbed “The Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.” The character of Chuck Cunningham also gets a double score because before his inexplicable vanishing act, the character of Chuck was portrayed by two different actors, Gavan O’Herlihy and Randolph Roberts.

I don’t know what’s worse…losing a favorite character entirely, or having him or her portrayed by a different person. Although one of my favorite switcheroos was the character of Becky on “Roseanne.” Originally portrayed by Lecy Goranson, Sarah Chalke stepped into the role for a bit, and then Lecy Goranson returned. During one of the season’s openings, the characters morph on the screen from the show’s beginning to the present, and when we get to the Becky character, we see Goranson morph into Chalke and then back into Goranson.

You can see more examples of same character, different actor and inexplicable character disappearances at:

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