Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hey, where's Chuck?

Disclaimer: Today's post has a lot of reference to popluar culture. Please bare with me because there's a reason behind the madness that's related to writing.

Miss Caitlin recently did a post on sneaky characters. It really got me thinking about how a new character can just pop into your head at the last minute or how a minor character can jump into a major character. The post almost remained me of the show Happy Days. For those of you that are fans of the show, know someone who are fans of the show (my parents use to it watch all the time), or maybe you were watching a show that likes to reference popluar culture, there's one thing you might be wondering: Hey, where's (or who is) Chuck? Well, Chuck (or Charles which ever you prefer) was the elder brother to Richie Cunningham, the series' main protagonist who disappear without a trace (or explaination) by the second season.

You're probably thinking why a post on book characters would get me thinking about a show that came out before I was even born? Well, the Fonz  started out as a Minor character whom, due to popularity, became a member of the full cast. He became sort of a "big brother" figure to Richie and his friends. So, Chuck went to the place of no return for characters. A kind of "No Man 's(in some case No Woman's) Land" for forgotten characters. Chuck's disappearnce was so creepy and noticeable to the audience that the term "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" was coined to describe characters that vanished in a similar fashion.

Note that  "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" is not  limited to T.V. characters on a live-action show. Examples can be found in cartoons, movies, books, and even video games.

So, let's see what happens when this is applied to books or your own writing:

You're writing a book (or writing a book) about four characters named Alice, Bob, Cindy, and Dan. Alice and Cindy both like Bob. They compete for him any chance they get. Soon, you (or the author of the book you're reading) so interested in what happens to them in this "love triangle" that Dan is eventally forgotten about. Or, in the case of  "sneaky characters", Eddy could appear as a new minor character and eventally worm his way to a more major part. Dan is a dull and flat character compared to new, interesting Eddy, so he's forgotten about. It's does not matter how important Dan was to the plot or his relation to the other characters. Once Dan disappears, there's no mention to him ever again.

So, I have to ask, have you ever notice a character from your favorite T.V., movie, or book series that just vanished without a trace. Or, have you ever read a older draft of your WIP and realized that there was a character who was important that did not make it to newer, more editted drafts? How about a character that was in the first book and then just disappear without explaintion in the sequels (in case your writing a book series)?  Please post your answers in the comment sections, I would love to here them! :)

And for more information on  "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" including examples in literature visited the TV Trope page hereWikipedia also has a full list, but I'm not sure if that one has book examples as well.

P.S.  I can name one "Brother Chuck" from the first Sirius story that I had written with Shelby in it. His name is Griffen.

P.S.S  I'm sadden to say that "L" is my last letter post until next Apirl. Between finishing the summer assignments Clemson has given me and revisions on my stories, I don't think I'll be able to do it anymore. However, I will continue posting. Expect a post on how  orientation went REAL soon.


  1. Great post! Hmmm, I can't think of anyone of the top of my head that would fit into this character trope, but give me some time, and I'm sure I'll come up with someone.

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