It sucks that Will Smith won’t be in the Independence Day sequel—but wait ‘til you hear the random explanation for his character being gone. Alas, this is standard practice. When stars decide not to come back, movies come up with rationales for writing them out, that go beyond “dog ate my homework.”

Spoilers ahead...

In the case of Will Smith’s character, Captain Steven Hiller, apparently we’re going to learn that he died testing an experimental alien aircraft following the events of Independence Day. Which is kind of a sad way to go. “So what does this button do? Aaaaaaaaaaa.”


Here are some other major characters who were written out of movie sequels in the most hand-wavy fashion possible.

1) Agent L in MIB 2:

The first Men in Black ends with Will Smith getting a brand new partner: Agent L, aka the awesome coroner who has proved she can hold her own against him throughout the first movie. But for the second film, they decided to go back to the original pairing of Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. So she’s summarily removed.


How do they explain this? We’re told that Agent L decided to return to her work as a medical examiner between movies.

From the Men In Black Wiki:

“Now, she is probably once again the same sexy and cynical morgue examiner that she once was with no idea about the existence of aliens, although she probably still gets neuralyzed on a regular basis, as she probably continues dealing with alien corpses.”

2) Henry Jones, Sr. and Marcus Brody in Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

It’s revealed in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that Henry Jones, Sr, died in 1951 of unspecified causes. Ditto Marcus Brody, who died of a heart attack the following year.In memorial, Indiana Jones pushed for a bronze memorial statue to commemorate his late friend.

Jones’ illegitimate son, Mutt Williams, would later decapitate the statue.

3) Amy in Fright Night 2:

Amy is MIA in Fright Night 2, seemingly replaced by Charley’s new girlfriend, Alex. A cut exchange from the original script clears this up:


We kind of broke up, and she started dating a lot of older men. They all vaguely resembled Jerry Dandridge.


Oh my. Yes...


One of them owned a bank. She married him and moved to Houston.


Well, I had to ask.

4) Agent Meyers in Hellboy 2:

Written to be a surrogate for audiences to ease them into the weird world of Hellboy, Agent Meyers was dropped for the sequel. According to Liz, the BPRD had him “transferred to Antarctica”—compliments of Hellboy.

5) Vanessa in Austin Powers 2:

Feeling there should be a new female lead in each sequel to fully parody the James Bond franchise, Mike Myers decided that Vanessa was a Fembot under the control of Dr. Evil. She explodes during their honeymoon at the beginning of the film, in a failed attempt to kill Austin.

Since being an android directly contradicts events and characters portrayed in the first film—including the existence of Vanessa’s mother, Mrs. Kensington—this suggests Vanessa was captured and killed off-screen in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Which is pretty “off brand” for these movies, to say the least.

6) Jack Forrest in Maniac Cop 2:

Not wanting to pay the same actor for two films (at least, this is the reason director William Lustig gave at a Maniac Cop 2 screening that I attended at the Sunshine a few years ago), Bruce Campbell’s character is killed early on, allowing Robert Davi to take the reigns as our new leading man.

7) Newt, Hicks and Bishop in Alien 3:

Ripley’s entire ragtag family died on impact when the Sulaco crash-landed onto a prison planet—or more accurately, they were impaled (Hicks), drowned (Newt) and deactivated (Bishop). They are eulogized thusly:

“Why? Why are the innocent punished? Why the sacrifice? Why the pain? There aren’t any promises. Nothing’s certain. Only that some get called, some get saved.”

8) Duke in GI Joe: Retaliation

Duke is killed in an airstrike early in the film, after Zartan has framed the G.I. Joe unit for stealing Pakistani warheads. Since the character was originally intended to die in the 1980s animated film G.I. Joe: The Movie, this may have been a callback or a correction, whatever your feelings about Duke may be.

9) Adam Yates in Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The character was said to have wrote a best-selling book and was currently on a trip of self-discovery, and thus couldn’t even be bothered to help prevent his best friend from being murdered in the past, or whatever. However, John Cusack did actually make an appearance in a deleted scene, which features a head explosion and neon green vomit.

10) Sam Witwicky in Transformers 4:

Absolutely no mention is made of Sam Witwicky in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

11) Valentine McKee in Tremors 2: Aftershocks

It’s explained that Val moved away from Perfection, Nevada to marry Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter), leaving Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) to invest in a fledgling ostrich farm all on his lonesome. Luckily, they’re both coming back for the next one!

12) Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

While Orlando Bloom’s character, Will Turner, became a buoy-ghost (or something…) following the events of At World’s End, Elizabeth is still free to roam the mortal plane as long as she remains faithful to Will (or something…). In any case, she’s off doing her own thing.

13) George McFly in Back to the Future II:

George was shot and killed by Biff in an alternate timeline’s 1973 while on his way to receive an award for his writing. We do actually glimpse George in the sequel, but he’s played by a new actor.

14) Nightcrawler in X3

Nightcrawler was written out of film continuity in X-Men: The Official Game, explaining his absence in the third movie. Apparently he quit the team, thinking the X-Men are too violent.

15) The Freeling Family in Poltergeist 3

In the third Poltergeist, Carol Ann is packed off to live with her aunt, Pat (Nancy Allen) and her husband, Tom Skerritt. Lara Flynn Boyle rounds out the significantly less expensive supporting cast.

16) Superman in Supergirl (1984)

Superman completely missed out on Kara’s arrival to Earth, since—as we learn from a radio news report—he was offworld on an “intergalactic peacekeeping mission”. This trend seems to carry over into the current Supergirl series, where Superman is often mentioned, but never available when Hellgramite or Livewire is causing a scene.

17) Jane Foster (& War Machine) in The Avengers

Phil Coulson lets us know Jane had been transferred to a super max observatory in light of Loki kidnapping her colleague Erik Selvig:

“As soon as Loki took the doctor, we moved Jane Foster. We’ve got an excellent observatory in Tromsø. She was asked to consult there very suddenly yesterday. Handsome fee, private plane, very remote. She’ll be safe.”

No explanation is given for the absence of War Machine, but a tie-in comic to the movie tells us he was “fighting terrorists in China”. Maybe that’s the secret origin of his “tank drop” story?

18) Jane Foster (again) & Pepper Potts in The Avengers: Age of Ultron

This time around, Jane is overseas, having been nominated for the Nobel Prize following the events of Thor: The Dark World.


Pepper is busy running Stark Industries, and apparently is unaffected by Ultron occupying the internet.

19) Martin Brody in Jaws: The Revenge

Sadly, Martin Brody died between films of a heart attack—caused by a perpetual fear of shark incursion.

Michael Brody: Dad died of a heart attack!

Ellen Brody: No. He died from fear. The fear of it killed him.

20) Tank in The Matrix: Reloaded

Another instance of dying between films—whether he succumbed to his injuries sustained from Joe Pantaliano’s lighting gun, or another reason, is ambiguous.

21) Sarah Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Sarah Connor died of leukemia in 1997. Except in all the timelines where she didn’t.

22) Dan Smithson in Species 2: Subspecies

We learn that the empathic Dan Smithson was so disturbed by the events of the first Species, he just didn’t have it in him to track a second alien. Fair enough?

23) Vicki Vale in Batman Returns

Bruce mentions to Selina that Vicki Vale broke up with him essentially for being Batman. The original shooting script makes this explicitly clear:




Had one. Didn’t work.


What went wrong? Hang on, I think I know. You kept things from her.


Nope, I told her everything.


And the truth frightened her?


(careful, pained)

Well ... How can I put this. There were two truths ... and she had trouble reconciling them. Because I had trouble reconciling them. Vicki said.



“Vicki.” Ice-skater, or stewardess?





24) Xander Cage in xXx: State of the Union

We’re told Xander died while on vacation in Bora Bora, immediately following the events of the first film—which ends with him vacationing on the island with Yelena (Asia Argento).


However, a short film called The Final Chapter: The Death of Xander Cage—a special feature on the State of the Union DVD—depicts the true death of Xander.

In the short, Cage—filmed entirely from behind (and portrayed by stuntman Kristian Lupo)—was set up by the film’s villain to walk into a building rigged with explosives. No word on how they’ll explain his return in the upcoming sequel.

25) Carla Purty in The Klumps

We’re told Carla transferred to a new university, making way for Janet Jackson to become the new love interest to nutty professor, Sherman Klump.

26) Marie in the Bourne Supremacy

Marie is shot in the head in very early on in the second Bourne film, essentially freeing up Jason Bourne from a happy domestic life in India. Marie is basically the Tracy Bond of the Bourne franchise. Speaking of…

27) Irma Bunt in Diamonds Are Forever

Tracy Bond’s co-murderer, Irma seemingly managed to escape retribution from 007. The character was intended to return in Diamonds are Forever, but actress Ilse Steppat died of a heart attack between films.


If you really want Ms. Bunt get her comeuppance, though, track down the January 1997 issue of Playboy (Marilyn Monroe cover). In a story by Raymond Benson called Blast From the Past, Irma meets her fate after trying to kill Bond with deadly blowfish venom.

28) Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat: Annhilation

He’s killed in the first ten minutes by Shao Khan—Johnny has his neck snapped during a doomed rescue mission to save Sonya Blade. FATALITY!

29) Mace, Catrine and Jeremitt Towani in Ewoks: The Battle For Endor

Nearly the entire Towani clan is massacred at the beginning of the movie by invading marauders from the planet Sanyassa. George Lucas’s decision to make Cindel an orphan in the sequel was influenced by a recent viewing of the 1937 film, Heidi.

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