->"No one sees Gold, but Gold sees ''everything''."
-->--''Film/{{Revolver}}''

Hello, Troper. I see you've come to learn more about the No One Sees The Boss trope. Don't worry, I can take care of that for you. While [[BlatantLies I'm not the trope you're asking about]], you can deal with me just as you would him. You see, [[SelfDemonstratingArticle no one sees that particular trope]], ''ever''.

This trope [[RunningGag (that is, the trope that is not me)]] is often used in conjunction with MysteriousEmployer, TheDon, The BigBad, The BiggerBad, The GodOfEvil, and villains which are MadeOfEvil, when the bad guy in question is TheUnseen. Supposedly, the guy exists, and [[WeAreEverywhere almost every person you see acts as his eyes and ears]]. At the same time, [[ShadowDictator no one has any idea who he is or what he looks like]], or even if "he" is really a [[PowersThatBe "they"]]. There are also the examples where [[{{Masquerade}} the Boss may want people to think he doesn't exist at all.]]

[[TheChessmaster Almost every ordeal the characters suffer through was caused, known, or controlled by him]]. Often, it's as simple as it sounds: The Boss exists, but is simply reclusive. But sometimes, the person in charge only exists as a [[LegacyCharacter title, rather than a name]] and [[LegacyImmortality is simply replaced by a successor]] if they die, [[YouAreInCommandNow step down]] or [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt are killed by said successor]]. Other times, the Boss spends most of his time as a faceless mook and is HiddenInPlainSight the whole time. And lastly, there's the version where there actually IS no Boss, and it's actually been the DragonInChief, TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness or a {{Cult}} that's been running the show by pretending to follow TheMaster's orders.

This can sometimes be used by the forces of good as well, but it's not very common. Some heroic cases where this may apply are MissionControl, TheChosenOne, The BigGood or The FakeUltimateHero.

This trope [[OverlyLongGag (which is certainly not speaking to you now)]] is a SubTrope of TheUnseen, The PowersThatBe, and The {{Masquerade}} in combination. Like the first two, the character never makes an appearance with enough weight to establish whether he's real or not, but this is done ''deliberately'' either by his {{Mooks}} or the ManipulativeBastard himself. Sometimes, the ExactWords "no one sees the boss" are used, or some variation thereof like "no one knows what he looks like" or "he may or may not exist". Any information given will usually be ShroudedInMyth like, "I heard he was born after Cthulhu raped Beelzebub and the baby clawed his way out of the womb and ate both parents' souls". Before TheReveal (if there is one), any origin will be MultipleChoicePast.

The point is, if it's not being done in-universe, it's not this trope. Usually, the audience doesn't even know themselves, but this tends to vary depending on its importance as a PlotTwist. See also ShadowDictator.

Now, please write your examples below, my Troper friend. I am sure that the real No One Sees The Boss trope will put them on display so fast that it'll almost seem as though he were on this page the whole time . . .

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* L from ''Manga/DeathNote'' counts, at least for the first book. For all intents and purposes he fits as a BigGood version, but his character is pretty much fully introduced in only the second of twelve books (his name remains a mystery). Kira himself counts as this at first, since no one is sure what the hell is going on in the beginning.
* Goth, the big boss of the syndicate in ''Manga/EtCetera'', due to highly-secretive and indirect contact being enforced among the higher-ranks in order to keep the drug operations running. As such, he isn't seen at all until the final book.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'''s Crocodile, [[VillainWithGoodPublicity Hero of Alabasta]], turns out to be Mr. 0, leader of the Baroque Works organization, fomenting revolt. We, the audience, know this right away, but InUniverse agents of his organization are kept in the dark, only receiving orders through TheDragon, Miss All-Sunday.
* The Big Bad of ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'', Diavolo, is this trope embodied, to the point where he uses the name 'the Boss' and is absolutely obsessed with remaining unseen. This trope is basically what the character is based around.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comicbooks]]
* There was a story arc in ''ComicStrip/ThePhantom'' newspaper comic where the Phantom busted a gang whose leader spoke to his underlings via radio from a secret location and had never been seen. He turned out to be the mousy-looking accountant type who collected the gang's takings.
* In ''ComicBook/TheGoon'' no one sees Labrazio, as he conducts all his business through the Goon. [[spoiler: Because the Goon killed him years ago.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''Film/{{Equilibrium}}'', the "Father" who runs the entire dystopian society is revealed to have been dead for years, and his son now effectively controls everything.
* Sam Gold in ''Film/{{Revolver}}''. He ''does'' exist. Kinda. [[spoiler:But he's all in your head. Sorta. He's in ''everybody's'' heads. MetaphoricallyTrue. And he's also {{Satan}}. Maybe. [[MindScrew This movie is weird like that.]]]]
* Keyser Soze from ''Film/TheUsualSuspects'' is the "HiddenInPlainSight" variant.
* ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'': "But nobody can see the Great Oz! Nobody's ever ''seen'' the Great Oz! Even ''I've'' never seen him!" Turns out [[TheManBehindTheCurtain there's a good reason for that]].
* In the fourth ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'', (Captain) Jack believes this to be the case when no one has seen the captain or heard him, instead taking orders from the first mate (his purported daughter), and starts a mutiny by getting the crew to realize it. Unfortunately, this backfires when it turns out Blackbeard [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szUEkiRPQwQ is in fact very much present and in command]].
* The mysterious boss in Fritz Lang's ''Film/DasTestamentDesDoktorMabuse'' who gives out his orders from behind a curtain.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* It's strongly implied in ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour'' that Big Brother doesn't actually exist, and is a complete fabrication of the Party.
* The Creator in ''Literature/SwordOfTruth''. While the earlier books almost flat out show that he exists, later books start to imply that he's a figurative entity that has no actual consciousness, but is the essence of all good and righteousness. The same is ''NOT'' true of his [[GodOfEvil opposite]], [[DevilButNoGod the Keeper of the Underworld.]]
* In ''Literature/TheManWhoWasThursday'', the BigGood who hired all the policemen to infiltrate the anarchists has never actually been seen, allowing each policeman only one brief conversation in a darkened room. Meanwhile, no one seems to have met the BigBad Sunday at all. [[spoiler: They're the same person.]]
* ''Literature/CatchTwentyTwo'': Major Major Major Major has left explicit orders that no one is to be let in to his office while he is.
** Major Major Major Major has left; you can go in now.
* In ''Literature/GarrettPI'', crime boss Chodo Contague has a stroke and his daughter Belinda takes over his organization, claiming to relay his orders.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Up until the very end of Season 5, Jacob in ''{{Lost}}'' appears to give some sort of orders but is never seen. When Locke demands in Season 3 that Ben take him to see Jacob, it turns out that Jacob apparently doesn't exist at all... or does he?
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}'': In one episode, [[spoiler:the errand boy]] is actually the boss, but nobody realises because the real boss was around, but is now [[spoiler:in a coma]].
* Robin Masters from ''Series/MagnumPI'', with Higgins as his front man. The last episode seemed to clear it up, but then...
* In the first half or so season of ''Series/{{Soap}}'', the head of the Mafia was like this. (He later appeared, negating his [[BuffySpeak this-trope-ness.]])
--> "Nobody sees Mr. Lefkowitz. Not even ''Mrs.'' Lefkowitz."
* Number One in ''Series/ThePrisoner''.
* On the Apprentice-spoof ''MyBigFatObnoxiousBoss'', the apparent boss "Mr Todd" would refer the elimination decisions to "the real boss". In the final episode, the real boss is revealed to be [[spoiler:a monkey]].
* ''Series/RemingtonSteele'': Miss Holt named the eponymous agency because she didn't think she'd be hired if people didn't believe there was a man at the helm, sending her on her assignments. This trope starts out being placed perfectly straight, but then a man actually did show up to take on the role and name.
* ''Series/InPlainSight'', the US Marshals transport a man who is the go-between for a mysterious female assassin known as "Lola", who agreed to inform on her after being caught in a sting. It turns out [[spoiler: There is no "Lola", he is the assassin, and he let himself be caught just so he could get at a target in the jail he was being held at, confident his lieutenants would free him from the marshalls.]]
* ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'' gave us Management.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Religion and Mythology]]
* May or may not be true with every deity in every religion ever. [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement Only put examples here where it applies in story or adage.]]
* There's a popular adage: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn't exist." That's actually from ''Literature/TheScrewtapeLetters'', though the idea may have been kicking around before that specific work.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* "[[http://www.sjgames.com/pyramid/sample.html?id=4661 Supporting Cast: The Man]]", a ''Pyramid Magazine'' article for ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} Voodoo''. "The Man" is a powerful crimeboss who nobody ever sees, but who controls all the gangs in the city. In fact he's a powerful spirit who manifests because people ''[[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve believe]]'' there's a hidden figure controlling crime.
* Another ''Pyramid'' article, "[[http://www.sjgames.com/pyramid/sample.html?id=2177 A Fistful of Tunes You Can Whistle]]" for ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} Literature/{{Discworld}}'', is set in a SpaghettiWestern style town run by the barking mad Varozag family. The head of the family is never seen, but "Don Dominguo orders it!" is the standard justification for their odder demands. The article suggests that an actual encounter with the Don could serve as the climax of a scenario -- live or stuffed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Videogames]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Grandia II}}'', [[spoiler:The God of Light, Granas, has been dead for centuries and the church that supposedly worships him is actually devoted to Valmar, ''the God of Darkness''.]]
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', the Shadow Broker has never been seen by anyone--not even his closest operatives. [[spoiler:Turns out that the Broker is a yahg, a primitive species that are pretty much good at ''anything'' they care to try. He's later killed by Shepard and Liara, and to cement how good he was at his job, [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt Liara takes his place without anyone knowing there was a change.]] In fact, this is exactly how the yahg took control from the previous Broker.]]
* In ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersiaWarriorWithin'', the Empress Of Time fits this trope, since [[spoiler:her real identity is Kaileena, and her own underlings actually attempt to kill her at some points of the story.]]
* "The Colonel" in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2''. Specifically, at one point you're directly asked if you've ever met him in person or know any name for him besides "The Colonel". Raiden can't give a good answer, and later it's because we learn that The Colonel is essentially an AI construct who was never a real person.
* In the ''VideoGame/FallFromHeaven II'' mod for ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} IV'', Sabathiel is never seen except by a few high priests. [[spoiler: He actually left and the priests are ruling in his name]]
* The villain of ''VideoGame/Stinkoman20X6'' is always shown as a silhouette, but since that game actually doesn't have a final level, this means that we will ''never'' get to see what he really looks like.
* By ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'', two of the Tribunal gods, Vivec and Almalexia, have been forced into this. They ''used'' to walk amongst the people doing miracles, but now the war against Dagoth Ur has forces them into seclusion to conserve strength, only communicating directly with a select few high-ranking Temple officials (and in Almalexia's case her personal guard). The third Tribunal god, Sotha Sil already ''was'' reclusive, and has gone so far into seclusion that even Temple officials can admit they don't actually have any contact with him (they don't even know ''where'' he is, as his Clockwork City is hidden).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Vexxarr}}'', Vexxarr is arrested by some kind of AIs who unquestioningly obey the "Master", who they never disturb in case he might be in deep meditation. When Vexxarr finally talks his way into a private audience, it turns out that the Master is a skeleton sixty years dead, having died when the ship's life support was ruined in a long-ago battle.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' has a variant, with a twist: The Dai Li do this with the Earth King, in order to enforce their chief Long Feng's monopoly on his ear and control of his authority. The Gaang eventually had to fight their way into his throne room, and then found out that he didn't even ''know'' of the ForeverWar with the Fire Nation.
* From ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'', Doctor Claw.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'', no one but [[TheDragon Hammerhead]] ever gets to meet the Big Man, New York's [[BigBad premier gang lord]]. His organization either take their orders from [[MouthOfSauron Hammerhead]] or more rarely get to talk to the Big Man over speakerphone (overseen by Hammerhead). This is because the Big Man is [[VillainWithGoodPublicity a well-known and respected philanthropist]] who can't risk ''anyone'' being able to connect him to the underworld. Subverted in season two, when the Big Man starts losing faith in Hammerhead's competence and begins meeting with his henchmen in person- causing Hammerhead to turn [[TheStarscream Starscream]] against him.
[[/folder]]

----