And Then There Were None

December 19th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

Chuck Cunningham syndrome is “a term that refers to when in which an important character in a television series is removed with little or no explanation.”

Ignore the grammar. I’m sure that’ll be fixed by one of the Magical Editing Gnomes soon. Along with distributed knowledge, they’re also practicing distributed syntax over there. Or “quantum grammar,” as Tycho might say, in which a sentence is both woefully and perfectly formed at any given moment.

Anyhow … “Chuck Cunningham syndrome” can be sort of creepy, even if that wikipedia entry does what many wikipedia entries in the pop culture category do, which is sort of miss the point of something.

For instance: Yes … it’s weird that Chuck Cunningham just disappeared and that suddenly there were never any Cunningham children besides Ritchie and Joanie in later seasons.

On the other hand, in a Star Trek show where you can assume that crew are continually rotating on and off a ship or base, someone just appearing, then being “sent away” with a line in the script about being off at academy isn’t really jarring or weird … it’s just part of that milieu. You don’t hear people complaining about Chekov “just appearing,” do you? Probably you do, but I don’t and I wouldn’t suffer the fool lightly who tried to complain in my presence. Besides … there’s already a severe Chekov continuity problem that’s “explained” in the lamest way possible by a movie novelization, though I think that might be a case of retcon.

I think the best t.v. episode to ever bottle the spirit of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome and sell it as a new, disturbing product was probably Buffy’s “Superstar”, which would be one of my favorites if it didn’t involve “Adam” and one of the hokiest rationales for anything ever as part of the plot’s resolution.

Anyhow … all this via a random link from Sam, who mentioned the Jumping the Shark entry, which is also sort of overkill, but an entertaining walk down memory lane.

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