What made applets less desirable? All the security limitations?
Try running an applet on a mobile device...you will quickly find out that most (if not all?) do not support applets. Would a web developer wish to exclude a huge (and increasing) percentage of their audience?
Additionally, is there a more smooth way to remove an image than redrawing? I want an image to go away after an event, but how can I achieve this without having to redraw the whole page?