Now before I get into this, I just want to say I am true fan of “The Fast and The Furious” franchise, except for “Tokyo Drift”. The only reason I can appreciate “Tokyo Drift”, without being a fan of it, is because of how they incorporate the ending of “Tokyo Drift”, with part of the 7th installment (Furious 7 – after Han is killed, Dom goes to Tokyo to collect his things and bring him back home for burial). I even have mixed feelings for “2 Fast, 2 Furious”, but it gave us Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris).
Anyways, so as a fan, throughout each installments, I always wondered where Leon was and why he wasn’t part of the “family”. We got a chance to at least see Vince, and his unfortunate demise, in the 5th installment, where they are all in Brazil but we have yet to see Leon. What’s up with that?
As a quick recap, the family began with Dom (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Mia (Jordana Bewster), Vince (Matt Shulze), Jesse (Chad Lindberg) and Leon (Johnny Strong). At the end of The Fast and The Furious, the first installment, we are down one with the death of Jesse. So, that’s just an obvious on why he doesn’t come back to join the remainder of the installments. Leon, Mia and Letty, disappear to where ever, which we learn from Dom, when Brian asks where they are, coming down to the end of the movie. We all also know that at the end of the movie, Brian gives up his ride so Dom can escape and this is why he got kicked off the police force, and where a story is set up for 2 Fast and 2 Furious.
In the 4th installment; Fast and Furious, Dom has to come out of hiding after learning that Letty has been killed (which we find out in the 5th installment (Fast Five), that she wasn’t) and ends up working with Brian (who has been reinstated as an officer of the law), to bring down a big drug cartel. At the end of the movie, despite Dom’s assistance with bringing down a drug lord, he was still sentenced to 25 years to life, without the possibility of early parole (yeah I remember that detail lol), leaving Mia and Brian visibly upset by the decision. As a big middle finger to the whole justice system, we see Mia, Brian and the two latinos (who we will see again in the 5th installment; Fast Five) speeding towards the bus carrying the prisoners along with Dom, with an intent to break Dom free.
So now, at the end of Fast and Furious and throughout Fast Five, the remaining bunch includes Mia, Dom and Brian. In Fast Five, we are re-introduced to Vince and we see additions to the family which include; Roman Pearce (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris), Gisele (Gal Gadot) – who we’ve been introduced to in Fast and Furious – installment 4, and Han (Sung Kang) – who we are introduced to in Fast and Furious briefly but plays a big part of the team until he was killed in the 7th installment (Furious 7). The two latinos aren’t a big part of the story, so they aren’t considered part of the family. We are made aware of this, when Han tells the rest of the crew in the 6th installment (Fast and Furious 6), that the last time he heard from them, they were hitting up casinos (which we saw at the end of the 5th installment – Fast Five). In Fast and Furious 6, Letty is brought back into the picture and becomes part of the family again.
So now, after the 6th movie, we have most of our family back together; Dom, Letty, Mia and Brian. We are now minus Jesse, who died in the first one, Vince, who died in the 5th one and Leon, who left in the first one and never returned for any of the other installments in the franchise.
Now after I have said all of the above, as a big massive prelude to why in the hell is Leon not in any of the other movies, the biggest reason I believe Leon wasn’t brought back, is because he wasn’t much of a character that if he wasn’t brought back, he wouldn’t have been missed. This is greatly true, because as much as I wondered where he was, I didn’t really miss his character at all. Most people, probably wouldn’t even remember who he was, if you said Leon from The Fast and The Furious. Most people may mix him up with Jesse or Vince, as both of their characters weren’t that memorable either. Only reason Vince probably came back is because he always caused problems in the movie (his back and forth conflict with Brian) and stood out more as a character and did more of the hands on during their heist, to be brought back. Leon was just there, mumbling some lines and mainly in the background. If Jesse wasn’t killed, I would expect the same thing would have happened to his character and the same question would have been asked about him also.
If we look at the other characters who remained and continue to be part of the franchise, except for Brian because of the unfortunate and unforeseen death of Paul Walker in 2013 (who would have definitely been in all of the remaining installments they may have for this franchise), we can say that they played a huge role in the overall continuation of the story line, throughout the whole franchise.
Take Mia for example; a character that doesn’t really do much but was and is the love interest of Brian in the movie. As she’s Dom sister, it would only be expected that they eventually come across each other and end up on the big screen with each other. So her character may not have been as impressive as Letty or Dom, but she still stood her own. As for Letty, well she’s Dom’s love interest and also a bad ass. So she definitely had to stay. Dom, that’s just a given. He’s like the Godfather of the whole crew, so that’s a must. Then Brian, being basically buds with Dom and his background in law enforcement and the connection he has with the crew, makes his character also a given, to be in future installments (obviously prior to the 8th installment Fast and Furious 8 – because of his untimely death). In Fast 7, as a way to remove Brian from future installments with a decent reason, we see that he gives up the crime fighting life to raise his family with Mia. So this brings the family at the end of the 7th movie to; Dom, Letty, Roman, and Tej. I don’t include Megan (Nathalie Emmanuel), because although she was in the 6th and 7th movie, she seems more of an add-on and to any true fan, she’d never be part of the family. The original family that will continue to be seen in the future, unfortunately would only include Dom and Letty.
So, although Johnny Strong would want to say that Leon most likely felt that the lifestyle he was a part of, became too dangerous and too risky, so he left and never looked back, is something nice to say but we all know the truth. Leon’s character was one that could have easily been left out in the original movie and it still be the smashing hit, that it was. The character didn’t bring much to the story line, so hence, wasn’t necessary for any of the future ones that was told throughout the 8 movies (9 when you count Tokyo Drift – technically it’s a Fast and Furious movie, but who cares if one forgets to add it to the list 🤣)