On a day that honors the unbreakable bond of siblings, we gather to mourn our brothers and sisters lost to the whims of TV writing staffs across Hollywood.
For TV siblings suddenly written off shows, we bow our heads. They did not ask for the fates they were handed. Rather, writers and producers scrubbed their short lives from existence, abandoning storylines completely in favor of something more interesting.
A moment of silence for That 70s Show‘s Tina Pinciotti. Donna’s younger sister made a brief appearance in Season 1 before she disappeared. And while we honor Tina, let’s also take a moment for Valerie Pinciotti.
There’s just one mention of the eldest Pinciotti in Season 1. Soon after the writers would make Donna an only child, leaving Tina and Valerie forgotten forever.
As producer William Bickley told People in 2000, he and his fellow writers hoped everyone might somehow forget that a third Winslow child exists.
“The official name is denial, hoping the audience won’t notice,” admits William Bickley, who says dropping the character was “a budget consideration.”
And then there’s Happy Days’ Chuck Cunningham, Richie and Joanie older brother, who fell victim to the actor cast to play him.
As Gavan O’Herlihy, who played Chuck, told On Milwaukee in 2013, he simply asked out of his contract.
The late Garry Marshall, who created and produced Happy Days, corroborated O’Herlihy’s story.
“I said, ‘What is it you want to be?’ And he said, ‘I want to be a poet.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’d keep this in your back pocket once and a while to eat.’ … He did leave. He was an Irish kid, and he went to Trinity College.'”
The actor moved on, while fans of the show pondered Chuck’s sudden departure.
Chuck’s memory lives on as the namesake for the TV trope in which characters like his exit shows with no explanation.
A salute to shunned TV siblings. May we continue to hold writing staffs accountable for their embarrassing screw-ups.