List of unseen characters

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Television shows and stage plays sometimes include continuing characters who are never seen or heard by the audience, but only described by other characters. Radio shows and plays also feature characters who never speak, and books feature characters who are merely referred to.

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Unseen characters in television

Hidden characters appear in all varieties of fiction, but their prevalence is in televised programs. These can run for much longer than a movie or play (which usually last only a couple of hours), and unseen characters can take on special qualities. There are several levels of "unseenness." The most complete is never seen, only mentioned (sometimes pointed to, off screen), like Niles' wife Maris on Frasier. This means that any qualities of the character are only in the form of descriptions given by the other characters. The second most complete is heard but not seen. This allows the character to speak for him or herself, but allows the viewers to construct their own image of what the character looks like. After that are partially seen characters, such as Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget, the only part of whom ever shown was his mechanical arms. Other parts of characters can be shown, like many adult supporting characters in cartoons, who are only ever shown from the waist down to bring the perspective on the child-size stars, the typical example was Mammy Two-Shoes in Tom and Jerry. The Cow and Chicken show parodies this particular convention of unseen characters with the characters of Mom and Dad, who are shown only from the waist down, as the shadows they cast indicate that their bodies end at the waist.

The best known unseen character in British television was Elizabeth, the wife of Captain Mainwaring, the main character in Dad’s Army; not showing her added a touch of whimsical fantasy to the programme. In Are You Being Served? the action never left the department store, so the odd mention of the characters’ lives outside the store tended to include unseen characters. The scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais included a large number of minor unseen characters in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and Porridge, in the form of people the leading characters had known earlier in their lives who were mentioned briefly.

Television programs

Heard but never seen

  • On the Batman TV series, the voice of Bonnie, who's the unseen (and even uncredited) secretary of Gotham City Police Headquarters, is often heard through the intercom in Commissioner Gordon's office.
  • Throughout the run of Australian police drama Matlock Police all the regular characters communicated with radio operator Shirl. Her voice was regularly heard by viewers over the radio, yet she was never seen. In the show's final episode the radio signal broke up and the camera cut to a shot of her for the first time. However the actor shown, Margaret Cruikshank, had not actually provided Shirl's voice in earlier episodes.
  • Peg's mother (voice of Kathleen Freeman) in Married... with Children. Knowing Al's criticism of her, we know she is THAT fat. Twice viewers have heard her shake herself dry (creating an impromptu earthquake) and nearly crumbled the foundation of the house for trying to turn (pieces of the ceiling fell for clues) . Plus, at the end of one episode, the viewer sees a giant shadow coming at Al & his friends (with Al shaking his fist at her, irritated).
  • All adults in Charlie Brown comic strip and most of the animated specials (they speak unintelligibly, their voices emulated by a muted trumpet). In some of the earliest drawn cartoons, however, they could be heard speaking intelligibly, although they were never seen.
  • John Beresford Tipton (voice of Paul Frees) in The Millionaire; only the back of his head, seated in a chair, was ever shown.
  • White Fang and Black Tooth in The Soupy Sales Show (seen as hand gloves of a dog paw, worn by Clyde Adler, who also supplied their voices).
  • Magic Voice, in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (presumably a computer).
  • The Thing Upstairs in The Trap Door.
  • Orson, Mork's boss who he reported to at the end of every episode, in Mork & Mindy.
  • Al, the cook at "Al's Wait & Eat", in ReBoot.
  • Dr. Kelso's wife Enid in Scrubs.
  • Margeret, Roy the shopkeeper's wife, in Little Britain.
  • Mr. Shotz, the boss of Shotz Brewery, in Laverne and Shirley. His voice is heard over the loudspeaker.
  • Dirty Joe in The Cramp Twins.
  • Dr. Kahn, the director of Camp Anawana, in Salute Your Shorts, is heard over the PA system nearly every episode but is never seen. The characters, who also seem to have never seen him either, sometimes muse about what he might look like.
  • Roger Bender's overbearing wife Ruth in Now and Again (voiced by an uncredited Christine Baranski).
  • Morganna from .Hack//Sign and .Hack in general is also known as "The Voice," which seems to come from nowhere. It is later hinted that she is actually The World's environment.
  • The Mysterons in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
  • During the first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise, a mysterious figure from a distant century (dubbed "Future Guy" by fans) is heard but never completely seen in several episodes dealing with the Temporal Cold War, and his identity is never revealed.
  • In the original TV series Mission: Impossible, the unidentified government official who gives Mr. Briggs (later Mr. Phelps) his assignment via self-destructing audio tapes and other devices.
  • Robin Masters (Orson Welles) the owner of Robin's Nest where Magnum lived on Magnum P.I. was never seen in the course of the show, although his voice was heard briefly on an answering machine.
  • Danny, a resident of Sunnyvale Trailer Park, in Trailer Park Boys, who can be heard often yelling out the profane exclamation "What in the fuck!?" even during scenes where he can not possibly be present.
  • In some episodes of Megas XLR, we hear the voice of Coop's mom, and she's not seen.
  • The French Narrator in SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Radio Announcer in The Adventures of Tintin.
  • Chloe Montez in The Weekenders.
  • Kevin Arnold as an adult on The Wonder Years, voiced by Daniel Stern.
  • Ted, Josh Radnor's character's older self in 2030, voiced by Bob Saget on the new CBS show How I Met Your Mother.
  • Alma Borland, Al's mother on Home Improvement.
  • The Narrator in The Powerpuff Girls. One episode even centered on Mojo Jojo kidnapping him and taking over his job, making the Girls do whatever he commanded them to do.
  • In the Finnish TV Series Pulkkinen the show's head character Pulkkinen accuses his friend Koponen of doing mistakes or various things Pulkkinen himself had done. Koponen is never seen by the audience.

Neither seen nor heard

(may be partially seen on rare occasions)

  • Captain Mainwaring's wife Elizabeth in Dad's Army. We did hear her footsteps on one occasion. Also a pronounced downward 'bulge' is seen in the mattress above Cpt. Mainwaring when they are sleeping in an air raid shelter, presumably her large rear end.
  • The Ditmeyer family, neighbours to the Bradys, in The Brady Bunch, were frequently mentioned but never seen. Only Mr. Ditmeyer's face was shown briefly in one episode. In The Brady Bunch Movie all of the Ditmeyers were shown (they were the sterotypical dysfunctional American family). Mr. Ditmeyer was the film's villain.
  • Karen's husband, Stan, on Will & Grace. All we ever see of him is his feet when they are in the bath when Karen gets a call from Grace, and his hands when Karen and Will are working on legal issues in the islands. He is obese and has worn a toupee since his teens. Over the course of the series, Stan has been jailed, taken a mistress (Lorraine Finster), died, and then revealed that he faked his death.
  • Crystal Leslie, wife of Beverly Leslie, the archrival of Karen Walker on Will & Grace. It is implied that Crystal is much older than Beverly and uses a wheelchair. Beverly, a closeted homosexual who has a relationship with a male "business associate," apparently married Crystal only for her money (she is extremely wealthy), and it is implied that he has tried to expedite her death.
  • Lord Southwold, Lady Marjorie's father, in Upstairs Downstairs.
  • Mabell Hefner, Barney's first wife on All in the Family. She was rarely mentioned from 1974 until late in 1976 when she left Barney. They divorced and Barney married again in 1977.
  • Admiral Hunter, leader of the United Earth Expeditionary Force in Robotech. Scott Bernard made frequent reference to him in the New Generation segment of Robotech and Admiral Hunter is, of course a much older version of Rick Hunter, the main character from the Macross segment. As the three original segments of the show were originally unrelated anime series, this was simply one of the ways the show was re-written to tie the three shows together. The upcoming Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles series is expected to show the older Rick Hunter.
  • Al, of Al's Pancake World, in Gilmore Girls.
  • Maris Crane, wife, and later ex-wife, of Niles Crane, in Frasier. While the producers once planned to reveal her, the list of Maris' unusual attributes and characteristics became so long that -- despite plotlines as far-reaching as a murder -- Maris was ultimately kept offscreen.
  • Muriel Yates, wife of Derek Yates, in Me and My Girl.
  • Lewis Wyborn, husband of head nurse Margaret in Becker.
  • Bob Sacamano, Kramer's friend, in Seinfeld.
  • Beavis and Butt-head meet their fathers in Beavis and Butt-head Do America; however, their mothers are never seen and are only referred to as sluts.
  • Lomez, Kramer's friend, in Seinfeld.
  • Cousin Jeffrey, Jerry's never-seen cousin, whom Uncle Leo was always raving about, in Seinfeld. He worked for the NY Parks Department. He once got Jerry tickets to a Paul Simon concert, and a glasses-less George once claimed to see Jeffrey kissing Jerry's girlfriend. It turned out to be a horse.
  • 'Er Indoors, Arthur Daley's wife, in Minder.
  • Mrs Axelby, Mrs Slocombe's friend, in Are You Being Served?
  • Iola Boyland's mother and father (referred to as "Mother" and "Daddy," respectively) in Mama's Family.
  • Diane, Agent Cooper's secretary, in Twin Peaks. (Until Fire Walk With Me was released, some people theorised that Diane was the name of his dictophone!)
  • Sheridan, Hyacinth Bucket's son, in Keeping Up Appearances.
  • Truly's and Clegg's ex-wives in Last of the Summer Wine.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Gibbler and Garth Gibbler, Kimmy Gibbler's immediate family, in Full House.
  • Mrs. Columbo, wife of Inspector Columbo, in Columbo. (A spin-off series entitled Mrs. Columbo was not endorsed by the makers of the original; later plot divergences in the spinoff indicated that this Mrs. Columbo was not actually Inspector Columbo's spouse.)
  • Marion and Geoff in Marion and Geoff. (In the series, the only character who appears is Keith, the pathetically optimistic ex-husband of Marion, and still best friend of Geoff who is now Marion's husband. However, an extended prequel, A Small Summer Party, was later made in which Marion and Geoff do both appear.)
  • Naota Nandaba's older brother Tasuku in FLCL.
  • Phantom Dennis, a ghost, in Angel (does appear on-screen, but is invisible and inaudible).
  • Consuela, Suzanne Sugarbaker's housekeeper, in Designing Women.
  • Kitty Chumley, Sir Bernard Chumley's sister, in Little Britain.
  • Father Bigley, who had many physical abnormalities described in passing over the course of several episodes of Father Ted. He was deliberately created as a composite for the viewer.
  • Local fisherman "Bucket", on SeaChange. He possibly has several artificial limbs, and definitely has a body odor problem. He is also constantly involved in practical jokes and scams.
  • Beverley Macca, the ex-girlfriend of Dave, in The Royle Family.
  • Carol, Alan's wife, in I'm Alan Partridge.
  • Also in I'm Alan Partridge, Fernando and Denise, Alan's children.
  • Headless Horseman, from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  • Won Ton, the hospital chief, in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
  • The ship's chef in Star Trek: Enterprise (only his legs and hands were ever shown). (Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker posed as Chef in a holodeck simulation during the final episode of the series.)
  • Mrs Alf Ventress in Heartbeat.
  • Tibor, Homer's scapegoat at the powerplant, in The Simpsons.
  • Joan Mavis Trotter, Del Boy's beloved mother, in Only Fools and Horses. Del often recalls his Mum giving 'advice' to his brother Rodney, although this is usually to bribe Rodney into doing something dodgy. We hear an overvoice of Del's mum in the episode "Time on our Hands".
  • Also on Only Fools and Horses, Monkey Harris and Paddy the Greek, both mentioned as contacts of Del.
  • Old Man Sedgwick, Stinky Peterson and other members of Possum Lodge, in The Red Green Show.
  • The Gooch, Arnold Jackson's long-time nemesis, in Diff'rent Strokes.
  • Charlie, the proprietor of Charlie's Restaurant, in Sesame Street. In a long-running series of sketches, Grover works at Charlie's Restaurant as a waiter who always gives poor service to a blue Muppet known as "Fat Blue".
  • Bluster Kong's mother in Donkey Kong Country.
  • The Council in the first season of War of the Worlds, with whom their earthbound counterparts, the Advocacy, always made frequent contact (mainly to inform them of their positive progress).
  • Danny from The X Files. A friend of Fox Mulder who provides information and runs various background checks.
  • Phil Petrillo, son to Sophia Petrillo and brother to Dorothy Zbornak on the Golden Girls. Phil is often referred to as a cross-dresser who lives with his wife and many kids in a trailer park in New Jersey.
  • Captain Boday on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was talked about in many episodes, usually in conversations between Kira and Dax. Dax went out on a date with him at least once, which Kira found repulsive due to Boday's transparent skull.
  • Ensign Vilix'pran on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was talked about in many episodes, usually because he was budding (having babies) and needed larger quarters.
  • The mother of Nick Swainey, neighbour to Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave - a clear reference to Hitchcock's Psycho.
  • Detective Quandt's superior on Ein Mord für Quandt (a German detective show).
  • Maureen, the supposed wife of Leslie Norris, the absent-minded barman from Harry Enfield's Television Programme. Leslie is forgetful to the point that he is frequently reminded that he isn't married, often after he has hailed his good lady wife to assist him in the running of the normally empty bar.
  • The Prime Minister, the head of the British government in Yes, Minister, eventually succeeded by Jim Hacker for Yes, Prime Minister
  • Mr. Butsavich, Doug's principal, in Doug.
  • Principal John Lazarus, in Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • Hugo Southwold on Upstairs Downstairs.
  • Vern, neighbour of Ernest P. Worrell, in the various "Ernest" productions.
  • Mrs. Raven's triplets in My Hero. She is sometimes seen arguing with them over the phone.
  • Larry Mondello's father and sister in Leave it to Beaver. His mother often mentions his father as being out of town on business; his sister is less often mentioned, but is also never seen.
  • Edna, the on-and-off girlfriend of Antonio, in the sitcom Wings. She supposedly has an unusually large face, which is always mentioned when she is referred to and earns her the moniker "the big-faced girl". The closest we ever come to seeing her is once when Antonio is talking to her and she remains silent, off-camera; other characters walk by and react to her strangely proportioned face.
  • Numerous characters in Samson en Gert: Bobientje, Marlèneke, Jean-Louis Michel, Fred Kroket, Alberto's mother, Marie, Boer Teun and Basil.
  • Chloe Montez in The Weekenders, often mentioned as getting herself into all sorts of trouble.
  • Lennie Briscoe's ex-wife in Law & Order, often mentioned by him.
  • Lars Lindstrom, husband of Phyllis, in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. When the character of Phyllis got her own spin-off show, the pilot episode revolved around the death of Lars.
  • Fred Sanford's deceased wife, Elizabeth, in Sanford and Son.
  • Heather Sinclair is frequently mentioned on Degrassi: The Next Generation but has never actually been seen or heard, a fact that is one of the show's running jokes.
  • Tammy, Ricky's mother and Ray's ex-wife, in Trailer Park Boys.
  • Jonathan, inspector Lea Sommer's boyfriend, in the German detective series Die Komissarin
  • Eddy's brother, in Ed, Edd n Eddy. Best known for achieving everything Eddy miserably fails at on a constant basis. Feared by many kids of the cul-de-sac.
  • Barney Fife's occasional fling, Juanita, in The Andy Griffith Show. She is spoken to by Barney (but never heard) in telephone conversations, usually overheard by Andy or Opie to Barney's chagrin.
  • Sarah, the Mayberry telephone operator, also in The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Dan the Van, in Chucklevision
  • Michael Ellis, the continually-mentioned titular character of a Monty Python's Flying Circus episode. Throughout the episode, Eric Idle is continually mistaken for this person, but Ellis himself is never seen.
  • The farmer from U.S. Acres is often mentioned by the characters, but never seen.
  • Joe Kaplan's Wife, Gladys, on Our House
  • Deirdre Birchwood, Bob's ex-girlfriend in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, references to her became a running gag in the first series.
  • Mick Belker's mother on Hill Street Blues. He spoke to her on the phone in almost every episode in the first seasons, but she was never seen.
  • Brad and Tuck Carbunkle's parents on My Life as a Teenage Robot
  • Kimmy Gibbler's family on Full House. D. J. mentioned Kimmy having 3 Sisters on the pilot episode. Also mentioned was a Brother named Garth, as well as Her Parents.
  • Chris' mother on Kenan and Kel.
  • Tino, supplier of Chinese food to Rayanne & Rickie, on My So-Called Life.

Heard but never completely seen

  • Carlton, the doorman on Rhoda (You sometimes saw parts of his body, but never his face. Once you could see his whole body, but his face was covered by a gorilla mask. Additionally, a cartoon version of Carlton was seen in a 1980 animated television special.)
  • Mindy's mother (face never shown, back of her head usually seen) in Animaniacs; her brown hair can be seen very briefly in Wakko's Wish.
  • Charlie Townsend, the head of the detective agency on Charlie's Angels (Charlie is frequently seen from behind, except in the series finale where he appears in surgeon's mask and outfit. He is also seen from a distance in the 2000 film version.)
  • Mom and Dad in Cow and Chicken. They are only ever seen from the waist down. In fact, Cow and Chicken makes a big joke of the idea of the unseen character, as it repeatedly implies that Mom and Dad genuinely have no upper body (in an episode after Cow woke up from nightmare that had Weasel & Babboon in I Am Weasel as well as the common generic character Red Heiny). In the pilot episode, they are actually revealed as having no upper body.
  • Wizard Kelly in The Proud Family. He is only seen from the nose down or from behind. Maybe Disney wants to give the impression to the viewer that he is so tall that his eyes are always off from view. There is one episode in the series that shows him sleeping in his bed, but then the camera is blurry with him putting his hand over his eyes.
  • Harvey Nash, the father of Captain Nice. Always seated in his easy chair, his face is always completely buried in that day's newspaper.
  • Bill Brasky from a series of sketches in the 1996-1997 season of Saturday Night Live, whose only description is from the outlandish exaggerations given by a group of drunken businessmen and a closing shot in the sketches with the back of Brasky's head at a high angle, giving the impression that the man is a giant.
  • Big Al in Police Squad! and The Naked Gun (he is so tall his face is always cut off by the top of the screen)
  • "Nanny" in Muppet Babies (generally only her striped socks are seen, since the series is presented from a child's-eye view)
  • Miss Sara Bellum in The Powerpuff Girls (her face is either above the screen like Big Al's or otherwise obscured)
  • Dr. Claw in the Inspector Gadget cartoon series, who is always seated in a high-backed chair, facing away from the camera; only his fore arms and hands are ever seen. He was eventually seen in the action figure line and the theatrical movie; however, he remained absent for the entire cartoon. This is a deliberate spoof of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the villain in the early James Bond films, whose face was never seen until the fifth movie in the series; You Only Live Twice.
  • Victor Lewis-Smith in Inside Victor Lewis-Smith (possibly the only series whose star is never seen clearly; he or a body double appears wreathed in bandages after a car crash in the opening scene; he is also seen in highly distorted close-ups while making crank phone calls)
  • "Troy", the extra-terrestrial father in Out of This World. Voiced by Burt Reynolds.
  • David Tatsyrup on The League of Gentlemen (while he is seen as a normal human character at the end of the first series, he has become some kind of unseen beast in the attic of the local shop come series two)
  • Amber Klein, Marsha's daughter in Spaced
  • All trainers in Pokémon Junior series of short films, who look just the same as in the Pokémon anime; their heads are never shown.
  • Mammy Two-Shoes in Tom and Jerry cartoons.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Turner, Timmy's parents in The Fairly OddParents, who were always shown with their faces obscured on the Oh Yeah! Cartoons series; in the later Fairly OddParents series, they were fully visible.
  • Roy Mallard, played by Chris Langham: presenter of the spoof documentary People Like Us. A slight send-up of the "unseen character" concept, as some part of him (often one hand) gets in shot in every episode. In one episode, his full-length reflection is seen in a mirrored window.
  • Barbara the Transsexual from the League of Gentlemen. Her face is never seen.
  • Sam, the operator at the Hi-Fi Answering Service, on Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Voiced by Mary Tyler Moore when introduced, she was usually shown only from the legs down as she exchanged innuendo on the phone with Diamond.
  • The complete face of South Park's Kenny McCormick was always hidden under his orange hood (and his voice muffled) until the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
  • Vera Peterson, wife of Norm Peterson, on Cheers. She was only heard a few times, but was talked about a lot. (She twice appeared on screen. However, on the first occasion, was hit with a cream pie which covered her face entirely before her face could be seen. And on the second occasion, viewers could see only her legs, through the bar's front window, as she stood and sat on the steps that led down to the entrance to the bar.)
  • Most of the time, the parents of the Kids Next Door fall under this category (one distinct exception was Numbuh One's dad, who was shown in two eps). However, on Curious Pictures' official website, the faces are completely shown except Numbuh 5's parents.
  • The General in Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines; usually only his voice is heard, but occasionally his arm would be seen.
  • George Steinbrenner's face was never shown in Seinfeld. He was always viewed from behind.
  • Yugi Muto (Yugi Mutou in the English-language manga of Yu-Gi-Oh!) in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. He is completely seen in the original stories of Yu-Gi-Oh!.
  • Doctor Dick, Mary-Ann's ex-husband from Cybill
  • The "Imperious Leader" of the Cylons in the original Battlestar Galactica is rarely if ever seen in full light, but is seen merely as a shadow. (Voiced by Patrick Macnee.)
  • Christopher Robin's mother (face never shown, back of her head usually seen) in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  • Meena, Navid's wife in Still Game makes frequent appearances in the series, although her face is always obscured. She cannot speak English but is always subtitled.
  • Wilson, the Taylors' wise neighbor in Home Improvement, who is usually seen with the lower half of his face obscured by his picket fence or other prop. On rare occasions, this would be reversed, such as a Halloween episode where Wilson dressed as The Phantom of the Opera, complete with half-mask obscuring the upper part of his face. His face is fully seen only in the very final moments of the last episode, as the actors of the series take a bow in sequence. Played by Earl Hindman, who once appeared on a talk show with a miniature fence to hide his face.

Unseen characters who were spoken of for a long time and then eventually seen

  • Arnold from Happy Days was often mentioned in the first two seasons of that show, but he did not appear until the third season when he was played by Pat Morita.
  • Jenny Piccalo on Happy Days was for a number of seasons only talked about as a neighbourhood friend of, and bad influence on, Joanie. Later she became a series regular, played by Cathy Silvers.
  • During season nine of Happy Days, Clarence, the new cook at Arnold's restaurant was frequently mentioned by Al Delveccio with a series of bizarre characteristics and behaviours described, but he never appeared on screen. In season ten Clarence suddenly became a conventional regular character in the series and was fully seen, and it was revealed he was a dwarf. Clarence was portrayed by Gary Friedkin.
  • Mr. Whittendale the landlord from the Jeffersons appeared later in the series played by Jack Fletcher.
  • Alistair Crane on the NBC soap Passions
  • Robin Masters, the novelist who hires Thomas Magnum on Magnum P.I.. (Masters' voice is provided by Orson Welles in a number of episodes; however, the final episode revealed that one of the main ongoing characters of the series was actually Robin all along. Viewers are left wondering if this is true.)
  • Number One on The Prisoner (Whether Number One's appearance in "Fall Out", should be interpreted as a literal occurrence, remains debated.)
  • Fran's father, Morty on The Nanny who was unseen or heard from until the final season, when he suddenly appeared during the final season of the show, played by Steve Lawrence. Previously, all you saw was the toupee on the back of his head.
  • The Big Giant Head on 3rd Rock from the Sun was unseen for several seasons but finally appeared, played by William Shatner.
  • "Daddy" from Keeping Up Appearances. He is almost perpetually asleep, however, thus maintaining a certain air of 'unseenness'.
  • Management on Carnivàle. It was revealed that he was a legless, one-armed Russian named Belyakov who fought in the first World War, who stayed behind a curtain until late in the second season, when he lured Ben & Scudder into his trailer & attempted to stab Scudder to lure Ben into killing him to pass on all his worldly knowledge as a "creature of light".
  • Violet and Bruce from Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth frequently talked to Violet on the phone (with Hyancinth's side of the conversation being the only one which was seen) about Bruce. Both were finally seen in latter seasons of the show.
  • Mr. Humphries' mother from Are You Being Served?. Mr. Humphries could frequently be seen talking to his mother on the phone. Mrs. Humphries finally made three appearances: two in episodes of the show and a third on the PBS special, The Best of Are You Being Served?, each time being played by John Inman, the same actor who played Mr. Humphries.
  • Clive from Men Behaving Badly. An old friend of Gary's, he was mentioned several times, and finally appeared at Gary and Dorothy's wedding, albeit behind a camcorder.
  • Sir Royston Merchant from Drop the Dead Donkey. As the tycoon owner of Globelink, he was mentioned in practically every episode, but never seen. Phone conversations with him sometimes took place, but could only be heard from the side of one of the characters. He was finally seen in the very last episode of the series, when Gus Hedges broke into his house to confront him. He was played by Roger Hammond.
  • Field Marshal Haig, being a prominent figure of the First World War, was mentioned several times in the series Blackadder Goes Forth, and was actually seen in the final episode, played by Geoffrey Palmer.
  • The Ugly Naked Guy, a fat and ugly nudist living opposite Monica and Rachel's apartment in Friends. The gang always commented on what they saw him do through the apartment's window. He was finally seen when he moved out and Ross visited him to persuade him into giving him his apartment. Even then, we only saw his (naked) back and he did not speak.
  • Mr. Bell on The Drew Carey Show. For the show's first season he existed only as a voice on Drew's speaker phone. He was fully revealed in the first episode of the second season, seen leaving his office after being fired from Winfred-Louder, thus marking it as his final "appearance." He was voiced and played by Kevin Pollak.
  • Paloma Lopez-Fitzgerald, on the soap opera Passions. She was seen after five years of references.
  • Maria Lopez, Pilar's sister on Passions, who raised Paloma, was also seen after five years of references.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Grimes, who are Bill & Ben's next door neighbours on British sitcom 2point4 Children. Initially, apart from their foreheards over the garden fence, they were never seen in the show, only their voices were heard. They eventually appeared in later series of the show.
  • Tochiro Oyama in the 1977 animated series Space Pirate Captain Harlock. The architect of Captain Harlock's pirate ship Arcadia and the father of Maya, the young girl Harlock pledged his life to protect, Tochiro's grave is visited in the first episode and Harlock often spoke briefly of his great friend in his more reflective moods. Some of these reflections took the form of a silent vigil in the ship's massive computer room. Tochiro is also sometimes referred to as the forty second soul on the Arcadia although the enemy has only ever counted forty one living beings aboard. Tochiro was finally seen and referred to by name in a flashback during the episode Mystery of the Arcadia. It is also revealed as to why the Arcadia seems to have a mind of its own. Tochiro, upon his death, found a way to transfer his soul into the ships computer. A totally different version of this event was seen in the 1979 movie version of Galaxy Express 999 in which Harlock and crew made guest appearances. Tochiro appeared as a living, active character and crewmember in subsequent Harlock anime placing those somewhat roughly before the events in Space Pirate and Galaxy Express 999.
  • Ziggy from Quantum Leap. As the computer that works out what Sam needs to do in order to 'leap', Ziggy is mentioned in every episode by Al, who communicates with Ziggy via a hand-link device. In the first three series the show is nearly always seen from Sam's perspective with Ziggy and the rest of the 'present day' remaining off-screen. At the start of Season four Sam briefly 'leaps' back home and Ziggy's interface console and voice are seen and heard directly.
  • George Jefferson finally appeared on All in the Family two seasons after his wife Louise and son Lionel began as regulars on the series. George was mentioned numerous times before his first on-screen appearance. (Later, the characters received their own spin-off series, The Jeffersons.)
  • Carl Reiner's character of Alan Brady was heard but not seen fully (once he appeared with his back towards the camera and a second time with shaving cream on his face) for the first 2 full seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show. He eventually became a semi-regular.
  • Ally on Just Shoot Me!, Maya's former classmate and Jack's wife and then ex-wife, was spoken of often (and occasionally spoken to on the phone) but not seen until she demanded a job at Blush in exchange for putting an end to the long, drawn-out divorce settlement.
  • Binnie on Just Shoot Me!, Nina's friend. Nina often spoke of Binnie (and her many plastic surgery experiences); she was finally seen, her face covered with bandages, when recovering from a face lift, after Finch and Elliot determine to find out whether Binnie really exists (they incorrectly suspected that Nina was making her up).
  • Cliff's mother, Ester Clavin, on Cheers. She was mentioned many times before finally appearing in season 5, played by Frances Sternhagen.
  • Sparky, the eternally on-duty I-Corps radio operator on the television series M*A*S*H, is spoken of (and spoken to, in numerous one-way radio 'conversations') repeatedly throughout the series's entire 11-year run, but only makes a single brief cameo appearance in one first season episode. Many other characters in the series are similarly heard (but not seen), or spoken of/to but neither seen nor heard.
  • Jimmy Kelly, Grace's ex-husband on Grace Under Fire and the father of her children was not seen for a long time (except once his arm reached out from under the bedcovers on Grace's dream). Later he bacame a regular on the show.
  • The Delaney Twins from Star Trek: Voyager, eventually shown briefly in one episode
  • Jonathan, Charlotte Pickles' executive assistant from Rugrats was often on the other end of the phone when Charlotte was working, but eventually appeared in two episodes.
  • Serge Monsoon, Edina Monsoon's son on Absolutely Fabulous was frequently referred to, and he finally made an appearance in the Christmas episode 'Gay'.
  • Skunky Beaumont in the cartoon Doug, who was mentioned often, but only heard once saying "hi" to Doug as Doug passes the guidance counselor's office in the episode with the Yodeling Trophy. When the show moved from Nickelodeon to Disney, Skunky joined the other guest-characters and was fully seen thereafter.
  • The "Dark Kaiser" in the anime series Zoids: Guardian Force, the supposed master villain of the show, appeared only as a shadowy figure for most of the series. In the penultimate episode, he was revealed to be Gunter Prozen, the villain from Chaotic Century - and then killed off.
  • Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, was shown mostly shadowed up during most of the first season of Pokémon until the episode "Battle of the Badge", in which he was fully revealed. This same practice was used with Cloaked Nightmare in Kirby: Right Back at Ya (he was fully seen in the series finale).
  • Dr. Slug, the arch-nemesis of Darkwing Duck, was often mentioned on the show, but was never seen until until the episode "Inside Binkie's Brain", where he made a small appearence at the start of the episode.
  • "Stretch" Cunningham, Archie Bunker's friend and co-worker on the loading dock in All in the Family, was originally only spoken of, then was portrayed onscreen in several episodes (by James Cromwell) before reverting to offscreen status for an episode where the character dies and it is revealed, to Archie's consternation, that he was Jewish.
  • Noah Bennett and Fancy Crane on Passions. Note: Fancy did not have a name until she was introduced on screen in May 2005. Julian and Ivy's other unnamed daughter on Passions has yet to appear. Also, Fox Crane was the unnamed son of Julian and Ivy Crane until introduced in 2002. Ivy did mention having 3 other children besides Ethan, but didn't mention one being a boy. Ethan only mentioned having sisters, but later revealed in 2001, as having 2 sisters and 1 brother.
  • Eleanor, Janet and Chrissy's first roommate on Three's Company, got married and moved out before the setting of the Pilot episode, and was only spoken of. She was later introduced on the show in the first season, and was not seen or heard of afterwards.
  • Armando Deschanel Jr. on Sunset Beach was only mentioned in the beginning of the soap in 1997. He was finally introduced on the soap in 1998, and stayed on until the show ended on December 31, 1999.
  • Maria Torres Evans on Sunset Beach. She was the presumed-dead wife of Ben, who turned up alive 1 1/2 year after the show premiered.
  • Emily, Harry's 3rd Daughter on Empty Nest.
  • Ben Witherspoon, Gus's second son, on Our House. He appeared in the second season of the show played by William Katt.
  • Johnny Witherspoon, Jessica's(played by Deidre Hall) deceased Husband on Our House. He appeared to his son, David, while David was in the hospital after hurting himself in a bicycle accident. He was played by Patrick Duffy.
  • Martin Fitzgerald and Antonio Lopez-Fitzgerald on Passions.
  • Kathy Santone, one of D. J.'s friends on Full House was spoken of during the 2nd season, then was finally given a face in season 3.
  • Pam Tanner, Danny's deceased wife on Full House. She was eventually seen on a video tape being viewed in the 3rd season.
  • Kimmy Gibbler on Full House. She was first mentioned on the pilot episode when D. J. was talking to Her on the phone. She was finally introduced after several episodes.
  • Gary, owner of Gary's Shoes on Married... with Children, finally appeared in the long-running series ninth season, and to everyone's surprise, turned out to be a woman. Janet Carroll continued to play the role throughout Married's tenth and eleventh seasons.
  • Suzee, Catalina's invisible friend on Space Cases. She was seen in the second season.
  • Randy Klein on Unfabulous. He was first seen in the first season finale.

Characters whose voice was only heard then later seen

  • The Waltons narrator Earl Hamner, Jr.. He was only seen on screen during a Walton's special with his real siblings talking to the actors who play their characters on the show.
  • Waylon Jennings on The Dukes of Hazzard. Though he was heard as the narrator throughout the show, he did make a one time appearance as Himself.

Stage plays

Movies

  • Addie Ross in A Letter to Three Wives (1949). This character is crucial to the film's overall story, is constantly referred to by characters throughout the film, and her portrait is viewed by characters but never shown to the audience, however only her voice is heard (provided by an uncredited Celeste Holm.)
  • The hunter in Bambi
  • Jesus Christ in Ben-Hur (1959) is shown from behind.
  • The prophet Muhammad in the film The Message. (Strict Islamic law prohibits depictions of the human form, so any attempt to visually portray the Prophet would be considered a very severe transgression.)
  • Charlie Townsend in Charlie's Angels (the back of his head is seen closely and his full body is seen from a distance in the first film, and not at all in the second.)
  • Guffman in Waiting for Guffman
  • The truck driver in Duel
  • Rusty Nail, the truck driver, in Joy Ride
  • Henne in Kein Pardon -- Throughout the movie, the main character's relatives speak fondly of him. In the last scene, Henne is greeted by the door just when the screen begins to blacken, so he is not seen even once.
  • Oscar -- The entire movie revolves around the title character, a chauffeur. But he makes his appearance only in the last scene.
  • Bill in Kill Bill vol. 1 -- only his arms or legs are shown. He is later seen full-bodied in Kill Bill vol. 2.
  • Emperor Palpatine in the original Star Wars trilogy. He is mentioned in A New Hope, seen as a hologram in The Empire Strikes Back and finally shown, in person, in Return of the Jedi. The character has appeared in person in all the prequel movies, but the true identity of his alter ego Darth Sidious was not revealed until the third prequel movie; as Darth Sidious, he kept a hood over his head to conceal all his face except his mouth and double-chin.
  • Another Star Wars character from the original trilogy, none other than Darth Vader himself, is for the most part nothing but a voice emanating from a menacing suit of armor. The audience is given a brief view - lasting no more than a second or two - of the back of his head, sans helmet, in The Empire Strikes Back, and we finally see his true face unmasked - though twisted and scarred - at the end of Return of the Jedi. Star Wars creator George Lucas made his audience wait for nearly a quarter century before showing them the face of the man who would become Vader in his prequel trilogy.
  • Jabba the Hutt in the original version of Star Wars; he later appeared in Return of the Jedi. A new scene was introduced in the special edition of Star Wars which featured Han confronting Jabba on giving him more time to pay him back.
  • Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the most famous James Bond villain, is seen only in silhouette or from the back in his first appearances in From Russia With Love and Thunderball. He is finally seen in You Only Live Twice.
  • The Blue Voice (voiced by Fenella Fielding) in the 1972 feature film of The Magic Roundabout, Dougal and the Blue Cat, was the disembodied voice situated in the treacle factory who gave orders to Buxton (the blue cat of the title) to take over the colours of the world, and replace them all with the colour blue. It is rumored that she was based on Margaret Thatcher, and the character is a political comment about the beginnings of Thatcherism - the colour blue being the colour of the Conservative Party.
  • Korben Dallas' mother and friend, Finger, from The Fifth Element are both heard but not seen.
  • Father in Equilibrium (2002 movie). The character never appears in public except as a hologram or on a video screen, and like Big Brother in the movie and novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, it remains unclear as to whether or not Father ever truly existed, or if he is simply the representative embodiment of a political and social ideal.
  • Cameron Frye's father in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
  • Russian Premier Dimitri Kissoff in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
  • Alex, the suicidal common friend of The Big Chill (played by Kevin Costner, but left on the cutting room floor)
  • The Man In Black, from Halloween 5 -we don't get to see his face until the next movie.
  • Horseflesh in Time Bandits
  • In the Alfred Hitchcock film Rebecca, based on the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, the title character is constantly referred to but never seen, having died before the beginning of the film.

Comic strips, comic books, webcomics, and graphic novels

  • Mary Jane Watson in the Spider-Man comic book series was spoken of for several issues, and in her first "appearance," was glimpsed by other characters only, and not finally revealed until the next issue.
  • The Adversary in Vertigo comics's Fables
  • Carlyle, the suave cabbie/adventurer from the webcomic Sam and Fuzzy.
  • The comic strip Peanuts featured several unseen characters:
  • Charlie, Rosalyn's boyfriend in Calvin and Hobbes. He is talked to by a few characters (notably Rosalyn and Calvin), over the phone.
  • Andy Capp's mother-in-law.
  • J.P. Pembrooke, Roger Fox's boss in FoxTrot. His arms and cigar are seen, but never his whole body.
  • Charlie Noodles (mentioned but never seen) and Stella (face never seen) from The Goon.
  • Mrs. Feeny, the next door neighbour, and her little dog, who Garfield likes tormenting. Mrs. Feeny keeps phoning Garfield's owner Jon telling him what his pet has done to hers.
  • Ellen, a girl Jon Arbuckle keeps phoning to try to get her to go out with him in Garfield.
  • Lord Deadcross in the Astro Boy manga, where his face was always out of view or masked.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, the face of the late husband of the boarding house's manager is obscured in flashbacks and photographs.
  • The Commissioner in the Sam & Max comics.
  • R.L., Kell's boss in Kevin and Kell. Only his drooling muzzle is usually ever seen. His whole body was recently shown, but his face was still hidden by a wrestler's mask.
  • Curtis's cousins in the comic strip Curtis. (We hear of his vague details of them, though, during Thanksgiving week.)
  • Dilbert's father in the comic strip Dilbert (However, in the TV series, we do see a part of him in one episode).
  • Roger, in Safe Havens. Roger is terminally shy, and his appearance has been hidden since the start of the strip, first inside a box, and more recently inside various mascot costumes.
  • The nameless, troublesome family upstairs in George Herriman's Dingbat Family (later retitled, appropriately, The Family Upstairs).
  • The title characters in Pop Momand's Keeping up with the Joneses.
  • Haydon in the comic and novelizations of the aborted Robotech series Robotech II the Sentinels. He was finally revealed in the Jack McKinney novel End of The Circle as a godlike being trying to reach the next level of existence.
  • The full head and eyes of Judge Dredd is never seen, almost always covered by his vizored helmet and if not, covered with a towel, bandages or something else. Once, he is knocked out and his enemies take his helmet off, but this is not seen by the reader, and all of the people who saw his whole face are later killed by Dredd.
  • Clow Reed from Cardcaptor Sakura is mentioned in xxxHOLiC by Ichihara Yuuko but is never heard, mostly due to the fact that he is dead when the series begins. He does, however, have one splash page.

Radio programs

Naturally, no characters are ever seen in any radio programming. However, several programs have featured recurring characters who were never heard and characterized through one-sided phone calls, letters, or references to them in conversations. Notable examples of this type, often called "silent characters," include the following:

  • Duffy, the owner of Duffy's Tavern. Every episode, Duffy telephoned Archie, the bar's manager. Listeners heard only Archie's side of the conversation.
  • Samantha the score-keeper on I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue, a long-running Radio Four comedy series.
  • Frank Remley, the guitar player on The Jack Benny Program (though he was later heard on The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show)
  • Pierre, husband of Mrs. Nussbaum on The Fred Allen Show
  • Mrs. Bloom, neighbor on The Goldbergs.
  • Mr Pullen, an elderly (and frequently suggested to be incontinent) character on The Archers.
  • Other Archers characters, including Titcombe the gardener, Bert Fry's wife Freda, Matt Crawford's wife Yvette, and until recently, Owen the cook (given a voice in the summer of 2004, by Jonathan Keeble).
  • Several characters on Fibber McGee and Molly: Myrt the telephone operator, Molly's drunken Uncle Dennis (later heard briefly, voiced by Ransom Sherman), Wallace Wimple's overbearing wife "Sweetie Face", and Fibber's pals Fred Nitney and Willie Toops.
  • Nearly all of the supporting characters on Vic and Sade (until late in the run, when several were given voices), notably Aunt Bessie and Uncle Walter, the Hink family (who called long distance), Fred and Ruthie Stembottom, and Uncle Fletcher's landlady Miz Keller.

Books

  • Joan Walden, Sally's mother in Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, who was only ever shown from the waist down (she was finally seen in the live-action film adaptation.)
  • Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein. In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is not clear if either actually exist (or existed) as a person, or are images crafted by the state, or the personification of the Party and its enemy, respectively.
  • Dulcinea del Toboso (and her alter ego Aldonzorenzo) in Cervantes' novel Don Quixote. Don Quixote falls in love with peasant Aldonza and imagines she is a princess, Dulcinea. Although in stage and film adaptations there is usually someone acting as Dulcinea, neither Dulcinea nor Aldonza really appear in the original novel.
  • The main villain (Sauron) of The Lord of the Rings. Although the book is named after him, he is never seen in the novel, and his movements and tactical thoughts of the war are assumed by his enemies. His nature is not explained. Finally, in 1977 with the publishing of The Silmarillion, by Tolkien, his major roles in the history of Middle-earth became known, as well as his nature (a Maia, a kind of lesser deity).
  • Mudd aka The Dead Man in Yossarian's Tent. In the novel Catch-22, Mudd drops his things off in Yossarian's tent, gets assigned to a mission before he checks in, and is killed in combat. No one who saw him survived, and since he never 'officially' arrived, his possessions cannot be disposed of.
  • The Soldier in White. Another Catch-22 character, he's seen in the hospital, completely encased in plaster. The viewer knows nothing about him, and it is speculated that there is actually no one under all the bandages.
  • Eccentrica Gallumbits, the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of books. She is referenced in every book in the series but never actually appears in any of them. The BBC TV version of Hitchhiker's does include a detailed diagram of her erogenous zones.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, the Emperor-Over-the-Sea is mentioned as Aslan's "father." While Aslan is seen with some frequency, the Emperor never is, presumably because he is an allegorical representation of God.
  • Also by C. S. Lewis, the implied human in The Screwtape Letters is referred to constantly by the demon Wormwood's uncle Screwtape but never given an active voice.
  • In Harry Potter, Eloise Midgen is often made reference to by name about her poor acne and off center nose. Ron Weasley does not find her attractive.

Video games

Heard but never seen

  • The Adventure Game-series Monkey Island also has an array of unseen characters.
    • Dominique, the elusive barber-pirate, was first mentioned as being Guybrush Threepwood's barber in The Secret of Monkey Island and later as having worked with the Barbery Coast pirates in The Curse of Monkey Island before leaving due to artistic differences.
    • Elaine Marley's (apparently deadbeat) parents. She was raised by her grandfather Horatio Torquemada Marley before he disappeared.
    • Guybrush Threepwood's parents (debatable, two characters in Monkey Island 2 claim to be Guybrush's parents, but they only appear when Guybrush has either been knocked on the head or hexed by LeChuck).
    • The Gamblers' Club door-man who asks Guybrush three questions before revealing the winning number for the Wheel of Fortune. The player talks to him and sees his hand and arm (both of which are quite big) but never sees his face.
    • Members of the Plunder Island Naturalists' Society. The player reads several small plaques left by them and even find the remains of one inside a snake.
  • Lionel Starkweather, the director in the video game Manhunt. His voice is heard numerous times throughout the first half of the game, but he is never actually seen until the very end.
  • Ness' dad in EarthBound. Ness can save the game by calling his dad on the telephone.
  • In the Resident Evil series, Ozwell E. Spencer, the founder of Umbrella is mentioned in various documents and by a few characters as the mastermind behind many of the tragedies that occurred through the series (such as the murder of James Marcus and the transformation of Lisa Trevor), but has not been featured in any of the actual games (with the last game, Resident Evil 4, taking place years after Umbrella's demise).
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, a voice is heard talking to and advising one of the main characters, but the speaker is never identified.

Unseen characters that are later seen (usually final bosses)

See also

Silent protagonist