Meg Ryan didn’t have a huge role in the original “Top Gun,” but she was still plenty memorable as Goose’s wife, Carole Bradshaw. Who can forget her delivery of the line, “Goose, you big stud, take me to bed or lose me forever”? She was also at the emotional center of the film, giving a terrific performance in a pivotal scene with Tom Cruise following Goose’s death.

That death is still felt in “Top Gun: Maverick,” as Maverick has to reckon with his past and help Goose’s son, Rooster (played by Miles Teller), reach his potential in the cockpit. It also forms the main conflict of the film, with Maverick feeling guilt over Goose’s death while Rooster maintains a grudge. So it certainly would have made sense to include Ryan’s character. However, director Joseph Kosinski told Insider that he didn’t feel like there was room in the story for Ryan (or McGillis, for that matter):

“Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around. I didn’t want every storyline to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters.”

Instead, we learn Ryan’s character died in between the two movies, and the story focuses purely on the tension between Maverick and Rooster. While we might raise an eyebrow at Kosinski not wanting to look backward too much in a movie built around nostalgia (not to mention, him just-so-happening to leave out two of the rare female characters from the first “Top Gun” film), we certainly can’t argue with the results. Because when it comes to “Top Gun: Maverick,” it proved itself as the best of the best in 2022.