Created By: DaibhidC on February 1, 2012 Last Edited By: DaibhidC on February 3, 2012

Suddenly Seen

A character who was previously TheGhost makes an onscreen debut.

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Is This Tropable?? Really Needs More Examples.

There are a number of reasons why a character might be The Ghost. It allows the creator free reign in creating outlandish descriptions of them, it lets the audience create an image in their mind, or maybe they were just a random background reference that somehow turned into a Running Gag.

But sometimes The Ghost can become a limiting factor, and it would be much easier to write stories if the character could actually be present. So you find an actor who fits the description thus far, and the never-seen character suddenly makes an appearance! They may become a regular or Recurring Character, or that may be the only time we see them.


Live-Action TV
  • In Only Fools and Horses, Boycie's wife Marlene was an unseen Running Gag for the first three seasons, before making her debut in the Season 4 story "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie". From then on she was in every episode Boycie was, and went on to be the female lead of The Green Green Grass.
  • The Delaney twins were a Running Gag in Star Trek: Voyager, before finally appearing in the Season 5 episode "Thirty Days". They were then never seen again.
  • Averted in Frasier: the writers intended to eventually bring Maris on screen, but the character became so exaggerated and outlandish that no actress could possibly have played her.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • February 1, 2012
    • Mary Jane Watson was mentioned for years before she was actually introduced. IIRC, Peter had gone through three provisional interests while Aunt May and Anna Watson kept talking about introducing Peter and MJ. Peter kept brushing the idea off, having low expectations of such a blind date. Boy, was he wrong.
  • February 1, 2012
    Compare Suddenly Voiced, when The Voiceless stops being such.
  • February 1, 2012
    The Drew Carey Show had Mr. Bell present only as a voice. In the final episode featuring him, he finally appeared on screen. Drew was appropriately weirded out.
  • February 1, 2012
    • Ally, Jack's wife on Just Shoot Me, was unseen and unheard until the fourth season finale.
    • Mr. E from Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated was only heard in recordings for most of the first season. He finally appeared in the flesh in the next to last episode of the season.
  • February 1, 2012
  • February 1, 2012
    Jenny Piccolo was mentioned as Joanie's boy-crazy best friend on Happy Days, but didn't appear till 1980.
  • February 1, 2012
    On Hannah Montana, Miley and her dad would frequently talk about their Uncle Earl, but Uncle Earl himself never actually appeared for quite a while.
  • February 1, 2012
    • King Wencit of Torenth (and his impending invasion of Gwynedd) is mentioned in Deryni Rising and Deryni Checkmate, but he doesn't actually make an appearance until the following book, High Deryni.
  • February 1, 2012
    @NES Boy: Mr. Bell was The Voice, not The Ghost. He was frequently heard on the intercom talking with Carey.
    • She Spies: The Chairman, the boss of the She Spies operation. Unseen in season one, he appears in season two played by Bruce Boxleitner in a beard. After he is killed off several other Babylon Five actors also showed up for an episode.
  • February 1, 2012
    In Psych, Shawn's mother was occasionally referred to, but remained unseen until the beginning of Season 3.
  • February 2, 2012
    A couple of webcomic examples: both zoe's mom from Sluggy Freelance and Mike's mom from College Roomies From Hell were both The Ghost for years before suddenly appearing. The former was more of a Cameo Character, appearing occasionally when Zoe visits her family, while Mrs. Green became a Recurring Character.

    I'm not sure this counts, or if it's a different trope, but in an episode of Sabrina The Teenaged Witch had Sabrina start working as a magician's assistant, but the magician isn't very good at this tricks. For his big finale, he tries to disappear from his elaborate device, but his pants get stuck. Sabrina decides to help him out and makes him invisible. For the second half of the episode, the plot revolves around finding him again and making him visible once more. When he gets hit, he doesn't realize it at first; Aunt Zelda comments on him being visible and that he's not wearing any pants.
  • February 2, 2012
    For years in One Big Happy Buggy Crispino was an unseen character that Ruthie would yell at on the phone or talk about in an exasperated way. It was a surprise when he finally showed up on-panel, in a weird bug costume.
  • February 2, 2012
    • In The Phantom Of The Opera, the eponymous phantom is first believed to be an actual ghost. It isn't until halfway through the first act that he appears for the first time. (This applies more to the Broadway musical than the movie; in the latter, he is shown much earlier).
    • In the first season of Heroes, Sylar is not shown for several episodes after his first mention. Even his earliest appearance was not played by Zachary Quinto, who would later play him for the rest of the series.
  • February 3, 2012
    On Are You Being Served Mr. Humphries would often make references to his mother however she was not seem until series 8 when she was played by John Inman in drag

    On Keeping Up Appearances Hyacinth sister Violet (You know Violet, who married the turf accountant with a Mercedes, sauna, and room for a pony) was often talked about but did not appear until the last series when she was played by Anna Dawson

  • February 3, 2012
    I think the description should reflect the additional dread this can build for villains (the Phantom of the Opera, Wencit of Torenth).