This article is from the ER FAQ, by Rose Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
As mentioned in the previous question, Bob was a character on
"ER" who stopped appearing with no explanation provided as to why she
wasn`t around anymore. In her honor, members of the alt.tv.er
newsgroup have taken to using the word "bobbed" to refer to any
character who drops out of the show mysteriously. Susan`s boyfriend,
Div Cvetic, was "bobbed", until they finally explained his disappearance
[5.34]. Timmy, a character who manned the administration desk, was also
"bobbed". In a sense, a character named Dr. Linda Martins was
"pre-bobbed", since she was announced at the end of the second season to be
the new chief resident, and yet we haven`t seen her at all.
The term was first used by Peter J. Evans on 4/28/96 in an
alt.tv.er message about Kerry Weaver (although luckily, Kerry was not
"bobbed"). In a follow-up message, Kim Rivers was the person who
suggested adopting the term as an "official" label.
(-Information provided by Scott Hollifield)
Recent discussions on a.t.e. have lead The MotherFAQer to question
common usage of the verb "to bob". Unlike Scott and some others, I don't
think that term can apply equally across the board to just "any" character.
If, as noted above, the state of bobness "refer[s] to any character who
drops out of the show mysteriously", then I posit that characters whose
absence is referenced in any way--no matter how slight--cannot be said to
be bobbed. Further, though this is of course simply my opinion (I could
gasp!horrors!, be wrong), as I stated in the a.t.e. thread, "Creeping
"... I'd agree with you that characters like E. Ray, the various
paramedics, the 'background' nurses, et al, aren't really bobbed
when they're gone, since they're not really an integral part of
'everyday' ER to start with. No slight meant to the actors at all,
but their characters are akin to the Red Shirts on Star Trek TOS...
I'd personally consider Dr. Maggie Doyle bobbed as of now, more so
than, say, Dr. Hicks--simply because Doyle had some semblance of a
storyline, no matter how slight; Hicks didn't..."
...and from that, and subsequent discussions in that thread, comes the