A Brother Chuck, which is also referred to as The Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, refers, originally, to the sudden and unexplained disappearance of Richie Cunningham’s older brother Chuck on “Happy Days.” (“Happy Days” is also responsible for the term, Jumping the Shark.) Thus, a Brother Chuck, which is the inverse of a Cousin Ollie, is a television character who disappeared from the show with no explanation, like the dog on “The Brady Bunch,” or half the cast of the first season of “The Facts of Life.” Brother Chucks aren’t as common as they once were (though, both Santiago and Waverly on “Friday Night Lights” would count as Brother Chucks) because, presumably, television audiences insist on explanations and farewells (save for “Lost.”)
And throughout television history, here are the five most memorable Brother Chucks.
5. Budd Bronski (Brian Haley), “Wings.” He was brought in to replace Thomas Haden Church after he left the show, but Bronski didn’t fare well, and disappeared with no explanation after a few episodes.
4. Dr. Marvin Monroe (Harry Shearer), “The Simpsons.” Marvin Monroe’s most memorable appearance on “The Simpsons” was in the episode, “There’s Disgrace Like Home.” He attempted to help the Simpson family bond through shock therapy. However, despite recurring appearances (12 episodes), he eventually disappeared without explanation, though he’s thought to have died because both a hospital and the school gym were named after him. (Note, also, that though it’s not exactly a Brother Chuck, Waylon Smithers was originally a dark-skinned character, but was changed to a fair-skinned one without explanation).
3. Mandy Hampton (Moira Kelly), “The West Wing.” Mandy was a former girlfriend of Josh Lyman and a White House consultant in season one of “West Wing.” However, without explanation, she was dropped from the series between season one and two, even though season two picked up immediately where the previous season left off. She was one of many Brother Chucks on “The West Wing,” including Emily Proctor’s Ainsley Hayes.
2. Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers), “Three’s Company.” After the fourth season, Chrissy left the “Three’s Company” apartment to care for her ill mother (who was already feeling better). Her cousin, Cindy, moved into the apartment, which was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. Chrissy never appeared on the show again (Cindy was replaced, two years later, by Terri Alden).
1. Coy and Vance Duke, “The Dukes of Hazzard.” During the 1982-83 season of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” while John Schneider and Tom Wopat were negotiation their contracts, their characters cousins Coy and Vance, replaced them on the show for 19 episodes. They were surprisingly similar in personality to Bo and Luke Duke, but were not popular with audiences. Because they sucked. Once Schneider and Wopat settled their contract dispute, Coy and Vance just … disappeared from the show without explanation.