Indiana Jones 5 director James Mangold explained Ke Huy Quan's absence as Short Round in the movie.
Ke Huy Quan made his franchise debut as Short Round in 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The character served as Indy's sidekick in the quest to find the titular temple.
Short Round instantly became a fan-favorite in Temple of Doom, but the character didn't return in future sequels.
Indiana Jones 5 Director Reveals Real Reason Behind Short Round’s Absence
Speaking as a guest on Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director James Mangold opened up about Ke Huy Quan's Short Round and his non-appearance in the film.
Mangold first praised the actor's work in Everything Everywhere All at Once before saying that the concept he already wrote for the movie required a "kid" alongside Indy and Helena, a role that would be filled by Ethann Isidore's Teddy Kumar:
“I was blown away by his work in Everything Everywhere [All at Once], but that movie was shooting while we were making our movie. And I was looking for a kid, meaning I had written this concept that required Indy and Helena."
Conversations surrounding Ke Huy Quan's cameo as Short Round spread like wildfire online, especially after the actor's impressive and Oscar-winning performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The possibility of a reunion was further spurred by a real-life encounter between Ford and Quan, where the two giddily met up with one another at Disney's D23 convention in 2022.
The Indiana Jones 5 director continued by saying that an appearance from Ke Huy Quan's Short Round would be "the worst kind of cameo," seemingly implying that it would come across as hollow fan service:
"And at that point, I was thinking of how we could introduce Ke [Huy Quan], I didn’t have a space for another adult to come in the movie and have anything that wouldn’t be more than kind of the worst kind of cameo. Plus, he was actually shooting."
Mangold ended by pointing out that he was ultimately looking to infuse the latest Indiana Jones movie with "the energy of a young person:"
"But I was looking for Ke at 13, meaning I was looking to introduce what I felt was a kind of staple of these films as family films and also in terms of just having the energy of a young person in the picture. A really young person like a child.”
Indiana Jones 5 Really Didn’t Need Ke Huy Quan’s Short Round
Given that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny serves as the final adventure of Harrison Ford's titular adventurer, it would've been fitting to see Ke Huy Quan's Short Round for one last appearance, considering the character's popularity.
However, James Mangold's comment about it being the "worst kind of cameo" is absolutely correct, as an appearance from Short Round wouldn't necessarily serve the movie's story.
While some fans would celebrate the character's return, Short Round's inclusion could've damaged his longstanding legacy in the franchise. Still, if the Indiana Jones franchise decides to do a potential spin-off in the future, then a Short Round-led film or series could be one of the best routes to go.
But, what really happened to Short Round after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?
In a tie-in comicbook titled "Trail of the Golden Guns," it was revealed that Indy enrolled Short Round into a boarding school while also helping him on an adventure to find Atlantis.
During the events of Indiana Jones 5, it's possible that Short Round already graduated and, potentially, started a new family.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now playing in theaters worldwide.