The Lost Year is the time in Empath's life that occurred around his 155th and 156th birthdays, when the events of the Smurfed Behind saga took place. Empath epithetically refers to this period as "the year of hell".
Some time prior to the events leading to The Lost Year, Empath and several other Smurfs were called upon to rescue a book that belonged to Father Time called the Tome Of Tomorrow, which would give whoever reads the book glimpses into the future in order to shape events according to their desires, although in reality events recorded in the book are considered unalterable. Father Time warned the Smurfs not to open the book under any circumstances. Although the Smurfs were faithful in this regard as they retrieved the Tome of Tomorrow from those who have stolen it, Brainy had accidentally caused the book to be opened, and to the page it was opened, the Smurfs present saw that the entire Smurf Village was sucked into a vortex that transported them through time with no certainty of ever getting home. Empath became rather obsessively worried about this event coming to pass, but Papa Smurf tried to calm Empath by saying that even though they have no way of knowing when exactly such an event would take place, he and all the other Smurfs will do whatever they can to at least be aware of it so that Empath would know what to do if it occurs.
Empath's 155th birthday
- Related article: Smurfed Behind: The Departure. See also Smurfed Behind: Smurfs Of The Stone Age and Smurfed Behind: Time Travels.
Shortly before Empath's 155th birthday, Empath was summoned to do some errands for Homnibus the wizard in retrieving some vital elements for his experiments. During Empath's absence from the Smurf Village, Snappy, Hefty, Brainy, and Tracker had awakened a baby dinosaur named Crinkles and tried to take care of him, only to realize that he was unable to eat the food in the present time that was offered to him. Uncertain of what to do, Papa Smurf and Grandpa Smurf visited Father Time, who gave them the Key Of Chronos, a time-traveling device that would enable the user to open portals between one time period and another. Papa Smurf used the key to open a portal to the prehistoric era that Crinkles had come from with the intention that he and Grandpa Smurf would travel alone with Crinkles to find his parents. However, upon opening the portal, it ended up drawing all the other Smurfs, including Puppy and Smoogle, into the vortex and they ended up in the same time period as Papa Smurf and Grandpa Smurf. Only Polaris Psyche was left alone in the village, as the portal had closed up after the last Smurf was sucked in. It is presumably during this that the Key of Chronos was destroyed and the timelost Smurfs were left with the chronosyte crystals that powered the key, forcing Papa Smurf to find the proper arrangement so that he could bring all his little Smurfs back home, leading to the adventures they had as chronicled in the Season 9 episodes of the cartoon show (with the addition of many other Smurfs).
Empath, who was at this time finishing his errands for Homnibus, received a vision that all his other Smurfs had been sucked into a time portal, hurried home to find that the village was absent of all the Smurfs save for his friend Polaris Psyche, who told Empath of what had transpired. Empath at first believed he could simply wait for their return, but as the day drew to a close, he feared the worst and went to Father Time's workshop to find out what went wrong. Father Time revealed through the door that led to the timestream that the Smurfs were now traveling through time because they had lost the Key of Chronos and were now using the crystals to try getting home. Empath asked if there was anything Father Time could do, and Father Time said that the situation was beyond his ability to correct. Disheartened by this news, Empath went back home to the village and drowned his sorrows in baked marshmallows, trying to think of what he could do to bring all the other Smurfs back home. Polaris suggested that they should wait in the village until such an opportunity arises for them to do so, but Empath became more determined to leave the village in order to find that way home.
With that determination in mind, Empath left the village with Polaris Psyche and the HoloSmurf that Empath had given Papa Smurf for his 550th birthday, but caused the entire village to disappear so that no one would be able to find it and discover any of its secrets. They visited Homnibus and informed him of what had happened, who then allowed them to use his Imaginarium to plot a course that they would take in their journey around the world to find that way to bring the other Smurfs home. Polaris suggested following the course that Grandpa Smurf had taken in finding the pure samples of the four primal elements in restoring the Neverstone on Smurfling Island. As they set off on their journey, Empath and Polaris had encountered a Schliphargon who was frequenting a brothel run by Lilliput the woodnymph, making them realize that the Schliphargons have indeed survived the destruction of their spaceship in "Where No Smurf Has Gone Before". This eventually led to a run-in with the surviving Schliphargons led by Heftargan, who swore to get even with Empath for the destruction of the spaceship and of his captain Cullivargh, and that they would track the two travelers down no matter where they would go. It was from this run-in that Empath had a change of heart of ever leaving the village, but Polaris convinced Empath that their best chance of rescuing their fellow Smurfs now would be to continue their journey and make sure that the Schliphargons never find the Smurfs.
During Empath's journey through the world, he came across various sorts of threats in different parts of the world, including one where he thought all the other Smurfs had died and he was taken to heaven to meet them there, only to find out that it was a trap set up by Ares the god of war who wanted to turn Empath into a god of conquest to work alongside him for his purposes. Empath and Polaris had come across the Mirror of Janus which transported them into a mirror universe where the Smurfs were evil and were planning to overtake mankind with an army of self-replicating Clockwork Smurfs created by Handy Smurf. In this mirror universe, Empath and Polaris teamed up with the heroic version of Gargamel and an emotional counterpart of the Psyches in order to stop the Smurfs in that universe from achieving their goals. Empath had also at one point traveled into the present time where his fellow Smurfs had also gone during their time travels, only to be captured by a descendant of Gargamel who was now a wicked business owner and now intended to use the Smurfs for scientific studies. Empath had met a young teenager named Gerry Royeaux, who was the descendant of King Gerard, and together with a rebuilt Clockwork Smurf that Gerry happened to own, they had sneaked their way into the secret laboratory where the Smurfs were being held and rescued them, though Empath was pulled back into his own present time before he even met the Smurfs again.
About halfway across the world in the northeastern part of America, around the time of Empath's 156th birthday, Empath and Polaris had run into what appeared to be Grandpa Smurf in light blue clothing. However, this elderly Smurf revealed himself to be an older version of Baby Smurf who was now going by the name of Miracle Smurf, and more than that was actually a copy of Baby Smurf who was sent outside the time loop that Baby Smurf caused all the other Smurfs to be trapped in so that they would never wind up in a place in time where they couldn't escape without the chronosyte crystals. This copy of Baby Smurf, who was also accompanied by a copy of Puppy created from the power inside the magic locket, revealed to Empath and Polaris that the Key of Chronos, although destroyed in the prehistoric era the timelost Smurfs started off in, was actually copied and placed in a cave awaiting its discovery by the two world travelers. What the copy of the actual key needs is the chronosyte crystals, which the timelost Smurfs ended up losing. Empath begins to wonder if the Schliphargons, who have been hounding them throughout their travels around the world, were the ones who now possessed the crystals.
Surely enough, upon finding the place where the Schliphargons had camped after the copies of Baby Smurf and Puppy had passed away and disappeared due to the fact of them being mere copies of the originals, Empath and Polaris had discovered that the Schliphargons had indeed possessed the crystals and that they need to wrest them away from the alien warriors in order to repower the Key of Chronos. HoloSmurf provided a distraction long enough for Empath and Polaris to get the crystals. However, upon reaching the site where they found the key, Empath and Polaris found the key surrounded by the Schliphargons, who were determined to fight to the death to keep the two travelers from reaching the key. Empath and Polaris fought their way through the Schliphargons with the help of the mysterious Lone Smurf they encountered in their travels, so that HoloSmurf could insert the crystals into the key and activate it in order to open the portal, allowing the Smurfs to finally reach home. However, Empath's solo fight against Heftargan was so brutal that it basically injured Empath almost to the point of death. As the Smurfs had all emerged back into the present after the Schliphargons were cast out of the present through the opening of the portal, Smurfette quickly went to Empath's side to comfort him when she saw his condition. With the Smurfs now back in the present, they began to wonder how they were ever going to make it home when Polaris produced the magic whistle Papa Smurf had given Dreamy in "Dreamy's Nightmare" that Empath had been carrying for such an event. Papa Smurf quickly used the magic whistle to transport every Smurf present back to the Smurf Village.
- Related article: The Smurf Village Revival
With Empath severely injured to the point where he fell into a coma, the Smurfs put him on life support using Handy's machines to keep him alive and Polaris Psyche tending to his injuries, trying to awaken him. It was during this that the Smurfs fell prey to a Viperion who passed himself as a traveling missionary who would offer them peace in a time of great suffering. Although he seemed initially harmless as his teachings brought comfort to the mourning Smurfs, over time the converts wreaked havoc in the village and ended up turning against those who would not submit to the missionary, which included Grandpa Smurf, Baby Smurf, Wild Smurf, and Polaris Psyche. As they headed into the infirmary in a last-ditch effort for safety and reviving Empath, they found that Traveler Smurf was already there with somebody in Empath's future -- his daughter Psycheliana -- in attempting to revive him. Eventually their efforts proved to have worked, and with Empath's help the non-converted Smurfs and Polaris Psyche helped the other Smurfs realize that they are being deceived by a Viperion and chased him out of the village. With the Viperion gone, the rest of the Smurfs were happy to see Empath alive again, and that night they had a celebration for Empath's 156th birthday (albeit a few weeks late), their successful return to the Smurf Village in their own time, and Baby Smurf finally receiving the new name of Miracle Smurf.
The events of the Lost Year were primarily so traumatic to Empath that he rarely wants to remember that year, just as much as he never wants to remember any of the years he had spent in Psychelia. Empath also began to wonder if Smurfette had lost her affection for him during the year they spent apart from each other, a question which she laid to rest by showing Empath in the Imaginarium all the places in their time travels they had went to where she had always thought of him. Papa Smurf, immediately following the events of the Lost Year, was too preoccupied with his failure of ever finding the right combination of the crystal arrangements to get his little Smurfs home and had to step down from being the village leader for a time until he was able to regain his confidence and sanity in the face of a village-wide crisis. Wild Smurf had left the village for a while, realizing that Smurfette's heart was fixed on Empath and that he could never be anything more to Smurfette than just a good friend. Grandpa Smurf and Nanny eventually decided to retire to Smurfling Island where they would teach the Lost Smurflings living there, though they would return in time for Empath and Smurfette's wedding.
The trauma of the Lost Year was carried over into Empath's marriage with Smurfette and his fathering his daughter Psycheliana through Smurfette, who as a young Smurfling had dreams that her father was being killed by a Schliphargon. Empath realized that his daughter needed to know the event that she sensed was so painful that he tried to keep her from ever knowing about it, and so told her about all the events that took place in the Lost Year. Also around that time, Empath had mysteriously fallen into a death sleep which Traveler revealed to Psycheliana that Empath in the past was dying and needed his daughter to appear to him in the past to remind him that he has a future with Smurfette. With Empath in the past successfully revived, the Empath of Psycheliana's present time was also revived. From that point on, Empath vowed to his daughter that he would keep nothing about his own past hidden from her no matter painful it may be.