"Have you ever met someone you don't know, again? Like, you don't actually know them, but they keep popping up, like God is running out of extras for the movie of your life."Character(s) with no relation to the main story who keep popping up when the important cast is doing something in the vicinity, usually to their inconvenience or discomfort. They usually have nothing to do with the plot whatsoever, and the cast doesn't even notice them. For obvious reasons, this can become a Running Gag, although their appearances often culminate in a formal introduction into the cast. A level or two below Those Two Guys and the Recurring Traveller. Also see Memetic Bystander for when the fans take a shine to these characters. If he's always getting maimed or in trouble, he's an Unlucky Extra. May overlap with New Job as the Plot Demands.
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Anime and Manga
- Menko ("Miss Noodle") and Shiruo ("Mr. Soup") in Urusei Yatsura, a terminally shy couple who are always just about to declare their love for one another at the moment another Thundering Herd runs over them.
- Similarly, Ushiko ("Miss Cow") and Umao ("Mr. Horse") in Kimagure Orange Road. A similarly named couple showed up in Akane's soaps in Ranma ½. Usually they inadvertently fanned Akane's fears that someone was going to get raped.
- Cowboy Bebop had a trio of senior citizens who kept popping up all over the solar system, and even appeared in The Movie. The old men do have names, and Theme Naming pops up yet again — their names are Antonio, Carlos and Jobim.
- Sister Princess has several people about the island — including a salesgirl, a fellow dressed like a stereotypical Frenchman and a short dumpy guy in coveralls — who are constantly seen in the background (and once in a while in the foreground). In a twist, they gather together during the climax of the series to see if there's anything they can do to help the hero or his sisters.
- Trigun has Kuroneko-sama ("Lady Black Cat"), a small black cat with giant green eyes. She appears in every episode; even in the one Whole Episode Flashback over 100 years earlier (albeit cryogenically frozen). Her entrances tend to come out of left field (example: as Wolfwood digs through his bag looking for a book, he pulls Kuroneko-sama out of it). There are rumors that suggested the black cat is put in as a game between one of the animators and his children to see if they can find the cat in every episode.
- Canaan has a taxi driver who always ends up driving the cast around; he is a big fan of Nene-chan's songs.
- Throughout Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress, there are three schoolgirls who appear in her flashbacks, which tend to take place within many different time periods (Edo Japan, for example) and locations, while either sneering at her dreams or trying to pry her secrets. They make a cameo in Tokyo Godfathers. To some degree, every single character forms a Recurring Extra to Chiyoko's movies/lives/events.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- The Mahora Festival Story Arc has Haruki and Yuki, the adorable kid couple who randomly popped up in all three days of the festival. They served as one of the background characters Negi saved from Mana's gun, one of Negi and Ako's opponents in the Best Couple in Mahora contest (they won), and some of the cannon fodder in the Mages vs. Martians war game.
- A high school couple also appeared in all three scenes. Don't believe their names were given, though.
- The '90s anime YAT: Anshin Uchuu Ryokou is about an intergalactic travel agency, where this old couple would be present in the space-tourbus on every single trip no matter where in what galaxy they were going.
- The old men in the Love Hina anime.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has its own couple of Recurring Extras who frequently appear in order to have their car 'requisitioned' by various military characters.
- Street Fighter II V — Gouki/Akuma appears in the background of several scenes but has absolutely no place in the plot. This stretches belief that somehow, in an anime all about the main characters trying to find the best and greatest street brawlers, Ryu and Ken both overlook a huge muscular man in a karate gi with burning red hair who seems to show up wherever they go...
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, a hippie couple pops up from time to time, especially when something dealing with the Earthbound Gods is going on.
- Infinite Ryvius features two background characters, a girl wearing a blue mascot costume and a boy wearing only a towel, who appear at least once in every episode.
- Sailor Moon:
- There is a little girl with pigtails that shows up quite a lot, though several "sightings" are pretty big stretches. Scroll down about halfway on this page to see an article on her.
- There is one character that serves as this, with a twist. There is a fat, unnamed woman in burgundy that appears only once in any media, but has an appearance in the manga, the anime (first episode) and the RPG as a NPC who tries to set the girls up with her son. Considering she's a one-off character in the manga, it's odd that the creators of both the anime and the game thought to include her.
- One Piece:
- Oda seems to like this trope.
- A door repairman is commonly seen, along with a drunk who tends to get involved with mobs very easily. It doesn't help that his fans tend to egg him on about adding these characters.
- Past THAT, in almost every arc, there are always a handful of nameless characters that will continually keep showing up; for example, the egg-shaped Franky Family guy with tiny glasses. No name, hardly spoke, WAS ALWAYS THERE.
- One of Iva's okama squad, whose bunny ears and flowing mustache earned him the Fan Nickname of "Bunnystache."
- In any scene with the Navy, you can expect the same crowd of minor sailors and officers to show up, doing basically the same stuff each time. Especially notable here are Vice Admiral John Giant, who is decked out with excessive Bling of War and seems to specialize in Rousing Speeches, Petty Officer Masshikaku, who follows Smoker and Tashigi around, and Commodore Brannew, the briefings officer who shows up whenever there's an Info Dump to be had.
- The Pokémon anime has a number of recurring character designs used in the background of various shots, which are occasionally given a Palette Swap.
- Dramacon has a raccoon that first appears plastered to the bumper of the car Brett is driving to the convention. The little guy pops up in the background every so often throughout the series, usually scavenging snacks. He even makes a cameo appearance in Nightschool, another one of the author's works.
- Samurai Pizza Cats has the mother bear and her son that watch the pizza cats be launched from the shop every episode.
- Desert Punk features a tragic comedy example: a recurring set of parents and young girl who always suffer a misfortune such as being robbed, having no food/water or having their livelihood destroyed, the parents will usually break down in tears or cower in terror of their mortal peril while the punchline is the young girl pull a parents sleeve and exclaim 'I'm hungry'.
- Tiger & Bunny features a young redheaded woman with a scarf◊ involved in the events of just about every episode.
- The Miyakawa sisters in Lucky Star appear as minor characters in both the manga and only two instances in the anime, but had their own story explored later in their own mini series.
- Hajime No Ippo has exactly one referee and two commentators. They're the same in absolutely every official match; the only ones that don't show them are unofficial or the ones done in the past.
- We finally got a different ref in a present-day official match for Vorg vs. Mike Elliot fight, mainly because he took bribe from Elliot's trainer. Can't have your only one ref being a crook, can we?
- For some reason, a group of monks passes by the house in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo awfully often.
- In Eyeshield 21, there's a trio of super-fangirls who can be seen in the stands whenever singer/model Haruto Sakuraba is expected to play. Sakuraba had a lot of fans, but those three stuck by him even after he quit modeling and remade himself as a serious athlete. Of the three, the most notable is a short chubby girl with pigtails who faints every time she sees Sakuraba.
- Autor from Princess Tutu first starts off as one, but later becomes a full-fledged character in the plot.
- The French comic Astérix features a band of pirates (who themselves are caricatures of characters from the Belgian comic Redbeard) who kept getting their ship wrecked whenever they ran into Asterix.
- The Belgian comic De Kiekeboes has a fat woman in a red sweater who is always being run over by the main character. To date she has appeared in EVERY De Kiekeboes comic that was written, equaling the four main characters and doing better than every other character.
- The various helicopter pilots, particularly the French one and his extended family, who encounter main character Shautieh Ley's Rushmore Refacement everywhere they go in Bowling King.
- The alien inhabiting the Negative Zone in Twisted Toyfare Theatre, whose life is constantly screwed up by the antics of a rowdy Thing.
- The woodcutter couple in Usagi Yojimbo. They appear in the background of every other issue or so, sometimes interacting with the main cast (unwittingly helping Usagi foil the Neko Ninja's plans, even more unwittingly helping him feed and clothe Princess Kinuko, and very nearly getting killed by Inazuma...) and often telling one another that samurai are crazy.
- In Watchmen, the Bernards appear repeatedly yet have nothing to do with the plot, save to sell other characters newspapers and be a Framing Device for the Black Freighter story arc. The lesbian couple who get into a fight just before the squid-alien appears have even less connection to the main characters. Subverted with the "End Is Nigh" sign-carrier, who looks innocuous until it turns out he's Rorschach.
- Some examples from Marvel:
- If not Jolyon Wagg himself, then the members of his family in Tintin.
- A pair of hipsterish cops appear in the background of a huge number of Marvel, DC, and Transformers comics aimed at younger readers.
- Similar to the above, it's lately become a common in-joke for Marvel and DC artists to insert artist Jordan Gibson and commentator/"superhero sartorialist" Betty Felon into scenes as background extras.
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero there's an unnamed underclassman of Kyon who has run him when interrogating a member of an illegal photography ring and talking how him breaking a yakuza thug's hand was the most impressive display of that fight, between other moments.
- In "Manos" The Hands of Fate, the action keeps on cutting to two teenagers making out in a convertible. This is for no apparent reason, other than to tell a policeman that nobody ever goes the way the main characters did. Supposedly they were going to have a bigger part in the overall plot until the female teenager broke her leg (she was supposed to play one of the 'wives'), thus having to be confined to the car at all times to hide her cast.
- In Time Bandits, a couple named Vincent and Pansy show up in different time periods throughout history, presumably reincarnated, as they are slightly different each time. Vincent always has an embarrassing personal problem they're trying not to talk about, and they're swamped by the wake of the main characters each time.
- In the Widget Series (well, movie), Battlefield Baseball, a group of people, including a girl in old-fashioned school uniform, a guy wearing just a fig leaf, and someone with a broken arm, appear out of nowhere to create a crowd several times during the movie. There's also a drunk and his dog who are seen multiple times, including the end, where it's implied that the dog is the narrator of the movie. Yeah.
- In Young Frankenstein, there is a couple at the train station when Dr Frankenstein boards the train who are having a strange conversation about some guy named Harry. When he arrives at his destination, the same couple is there, having the exact same conversation, but in German, and the guy is now named Hans.
- In Trick 'r Treat, Sam starts out as one of these, but from how much attention the camera pays to him, as well as his frequent appearances in the title montage and the fact that he's on the cover of the movie, you can tell he'll be pretty important later on. A more conventional example would be the three kids dressed as clowns, who can be very helpful in putting together the film's complicated time line.
- Eric Idle's character in National Lampoon's European Vacation just happens to turn up at the same spots all over Europe at the same time as the main characters, suffering increasingly grievous injuries due to their actions. He returns for more of the same 18 years later in the Made-for-TV Movie Christmas Vacation 2.
- A woman with a large hat shows up multiple times in the background of The Double Life of Veronique (La double vie de Véronique). As this occurs in scenes taking place in different countries, and the film itself is concerned with the idea of doppelgängers, it seems intended by the filmmaker.
- In Shaun of the Dead, all of the extras seen over the course of the beginning of the first half of the film appear as zombies in the second half.
- Gregory's Girl has a character dressed as a penguin who wanders through several of the scenes at the high school. There's never an explanation.
- In the Roger Moore James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only, the man who keeps seeing Bond do crazy stuff in Italy, probably without ever realising it is the same man (emerging from the sea in his car-sub; driving around the streets of Venice in his land-gondola; and escaping from armed assassins on skis in the Italian alps, respectively). In each case he is drinking and in the first two, finds what he's seeing so bizarre that he seems to wonder if he's been drinking too much (though not enough to stop, evidently). Played by Victor Tourjansky, who was the assistant director for these Italy-set scenes in all three films.
- Done literally for a scene of Space Mutiny, with a scene in a corridor with Ryder and Lea having a conversation whilst extras pass them back and forth in the background. Quite plainly, the same two extras again and again.
- According to the DVD commentary of A Bridge Too Far, members of Attenborough's Army (the actors trained to play the soldiers) would obscure their faces during death scenes (such as having a helmet fall over their face when shot) so they'd continue to have work, as anyone killed in a close-up wouldn't be used again.
- In Airborn, the Lumiere triplets are mentioned in all three books and Matt sees them at a restaurant in Skybreaker.
- In the Discworld Watch novels:
- The dwarf watchman Stronginthearm is mentioned in passing a few times between Men at Arms, when nonhumans first join the police force, and Night Watch, when he is suddenly and shockingly murdered by a fugitive.
- Constable Haddock also started off as just a placeholder that there were more Watchmen about than the main characters, but quickly became an Ascended Extra.
- The many courtiers around King's Landing in A Song of Ice and Fire play this role, although some like Lord Giles Rosby and the Stokeworths do become more notable as time goes on.
- Before writing Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling made a list of forty students who would be in the title character's year. Naturally, familiar names will show up whenever we near to hear what a random Hufflepuff thinks about the yearly crisis.
Live Action TV
- In Auction Kings, All the experts, who are only on if there's a piece for them to appraise. Paul's dad and son also show up from time-to-time.
- A few of the buyers and sellers are also repeat customers. Paul will occasionally mention items they've bought or sold in the past.
- Pawn Stars:
- Rick will take certain antiques to be restored by one of his buddies, Rick Dale. Dale got his own show, American Restoration, which focuses on his work restoring things such as bicycles, refrigerators and candy machines.
- Danny "The Count" Koker, often called in to check over and fix up vehicles, now has his own show as well, Counting Cars.
- Mark Hall-Patton, the Clark County Museum Administrator is often called upon when items from historic Vegas are brought in.
- Much like Auction Kings above, several sellers show up in several episodes. Their previous appearances are often mentioned as well.
- Scrubs has a few, including Snoop Dogg Intern / Resident / Attending (that's right, baby) Dr. Beardface (pronounced Beard-fa-say, dammit!), Colonel Doctor, and Dr. Mickhead.
- How I Met Your Mother has Ranjit, the... various vehicles driver.
- Leverage has a burgeoning pair in the form of two FBI agents tangentially involved in their projects, who tend to benefit significantly by the association.
- My Family uses the same actor as receptionist in any hotel the family visit. They never comment on it, but he always has the same personality.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a number of these:
- The most famous was their go-to victim, played by Danny Strong, who eventually became a minor named recurring character and then a villain in season six, Jonathan.
- Should you be watching reruns of season 3 episodes, look for a shortish Asian guy carrying a skateboard. He's in many episodes and is referred to as "Asian Dan" by the cast. In the season 4 DVD, Seth Green, Joss Whedon, and Marti Noxon joke about his frequent appearances in the "Wild at Heart" audio commentary.
- Jacob Collins in Trailer Park Boys is this until the later seasons of the show when he's promoted to a full character. Initially he is the cashier at whatever store Ricky is currently robbing.
- The live-action version of Moyashimon has the Four-Eyed Explorer, a bespectacled member of the university's Explorer Club who keeps showing up in the background. When he appears outside of Kawahama and Misato's room in episode 4, Sawaki even asks him who is he and what he's doing here.
- SG1 and Atlantis directors Martin Wood and Peter Deluise were rather fond of putting themselves (and occasionally each other) in their episodes. If you look closely, you will often see them discussing something technical in the background or pointing guns at the gate during an unscheduled activation.
- The actor Frank Nelson literally made a career of this, playing essentially the same character (an antagonistic and smarmy shop-clerk) on numerous television and radio shows including The Jack Benny Program, The Flintstones, and Sanford and Son.
- In the early going of Sliders, whenever the group arrived on a new parallel world and ended up taking a taxi anywhere, the same bearded Russian guy was always the driver.
Rembrandt: So.. you enjoy driving a taxi?Driver: What is to enjoy? It is my destiny.Rembrant: You don't know the half of it.
- Used to unsettling effect in the first episode of The Prisoner: a mechanic appears and repairs McGoohan's radio; while he does that, McGoohan leaves, and moments later runs into the same, instantly-recognizable guy coming from the opposite direction, except that guy is apparently now a gardener. Although he is an extra only twice, he is very memorable for having a distinct bald, lumpy appearance and visibly unnerving McGoohan.
- In the first two seasons of Wizards of Waverly Place, Amanda Tepe portrayed various oneshot characters, earning her the Fan Nickname "The Monotone Lady".
- Parks and Recreation has a few. For example, the titular events in the episodes "The Banquet", "Beauty Pageant", and "Telethon" all feature the same guy as the MC.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, there is a cadre of about half a dozen recurring redshirts, some of whom appear more frequently than some of the regulars, and all of whom are played by extras. The most famous of these is Lt. Leslie, "King of the Redshirts", who died and then came back to life, with nary a mention from anyone. Another is Hadley, who appeared in 62 episodes, but never had a single line. There's also Brent, Lemli, and Galloway, among others - though many of these characters had inconsistent names anyway, so it's a wonder they were given ones that stuck.
- Due to its fixed location, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a high number of recurring extras. Fan-favorite and bar fixture Morn is the most notable, although there were many recurring station residents—Ferengi waiters and Dabo girls at Quark's, Starfleet personnel like Ensign Tannenbaum and Nurse Bandee, and Bajoran officers like engineer Neela.
- Star Trek: Enterprise had a small pool of MACO extras, most of whom became very quickly recognizable. This made it awkward whenever they needed a MACO to have a large speaking role, because they were the only one we had never seen before.
- Lost went to a great deal of trouble to keep its extra pool consistent over years: Main Camp, Tailies Camp, Ajira Survivors, The Others (both post-crash and during the 70s), Kahana crew etc. all spotted mostly the same share of background faces who contributed absolutely nothing to the plot except when being suddenly killed as a Red Shirt deserves. In some cases extras were even asked to reprise their roles years after their original appearance, simply because events of a scene would happen at the same time and place.
- The late actor Ed Peck played five different characters in all five seasons of That Girl and three different characters in three different seasons of The Odd Couple.
- I, Claudius spans the lifetime of the eponymous character (and a couple generations before his birth), yet the same actors always play the Roman soldiers.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the first season a knight in armor would knock various characters over the head with a rubber chicken at least once in every episode.
- Frasier uses a few recurring baristas at the Café Nervosa set. A particular Indian actress appears for eleven episodes in the first through third seasons as the most commonly-seen one. Likewise, its parent show, Cheers had a number of background bar regulars, most notably Paul who became something of a minor supporting character.
- The first season of The Vampire Diaries has Tina Fell, who appears in multiple episodes and even gets a line in one, but never does anything important.
- Seinfeld has Ruthie, the Monk's cashier. Despite having at most one speaking part in the entire series, she racked up more appearances than any recurring character.
- Buck Henry, a 10-time host on Saturday Night Live, played the same customer, Mr. Dantley, in seven different John Belushi "Samurai" sketches.
- Glee had a few, all of whom became ascended extras to differing degrees. Lauren Zizes actually joined the club, Stoner Brett auditioned and got a few lines in later episodes, and Jordan Stern (the neck-brace cheerio)...well, she got named at least.
- In On the Town, Flossie can be seen wandering through several scenes with a friend, telling her the middle of some story about Mr. Gadolphin.
- In the 1919 Broadway musical Apple Blossoms, a young Fred Astaire and his sister Adele played two characters who were named Johnny and Molly in the program and appeared only in dance numbers, having no sung or spoken lines.
- Pretty much every single Fire Emblem game has had Anna show up, who usually either provides tutorials or mans the Secret Shops. A full thirteen games into the series she ascends to the role of full-fledged playable unit in Awakening.
- Tony Hawk: Ollie the magic bum in the games. He appears in some capacity or another in almost every game (mysteriously; as noted, he's homeless, but appears in diverse locations the world over) and never plays an important role, but Ollie was playable in the third game. He hasn't appeared in a game since the Underground games, which were the triumphant finale of the original soulful series.
- Stachenscarfen and Pavel in the Professor Layton games.
- The Up'n'down from Rockman 4 Minus Infinity and it shows up in most of the Robot Master stages with different forms and patterns of attack.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has a trio of Toads who travel to the various locations Mario visits. Likewise that Disco Dan who seems to be either a step behind or a step ahead of where you visit.
- Big the Cat from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, although he used to play important roles on occasion.
- Katawa Shoujo has Kenji, Hisao's legally blind neighbour in the dorms who appears in a few scenes in every path. His bizarre personality makes any interaction with him highly comedic, so his few scenes come off as Breather Episodes.
- In 8-Bit Theater, the Onion Kid character suffers repeatedly as a side effect of Black Mage's actions, even as they travel to different cities and continents. His family and two foster families are killed by Black Mage, he is put on trial for one of those murders, and he is kicked out of an orphanage for being bad luck when a delivery is destroyed. Eventually this was subverted by the revelation that the Onion Kid is actually Sarda's past self.
- Another example are the Real Light Warriors, which Missed the Call that hired Black Mage & Co., and now always one step behind the Light Warriors (or being screwed by them).
- The Order of the Stick has a pair of Flumphs, floating, white, tentacled creatures, who wander around and get landed on by (and save the lives of) falling main characters in almost every appearance.
- Lampshaded with a towering side of spoilers here.
- Keychain of Creation has a young man with yellow eyes and brown hair who reappears numerous times in various roles, such as a horse trader and bartender. He turns out to be a Sidereal Exalted who knows Ten Winds. Probably a Chosen of Journeys, given his yellow color scheme.
- Real Life has Alan Extra whenever a background character is called for.
- Sakana has a guy with a cap with the phrase "THIS GUY" on it showing up frequently in the background. He seems to be a Chekhov's Gunman, because the artist revealed that he will have a bigger role in the future.
- El Goonish Shive has the Shy Girl who, despite only appearing in the background a few times, garnered quite a few fans. Eventually Dan merged her with a supporting character.
- There are also several students that appear many times whenever random bystanders are needed, as well as the boys that hang out at the comic shop.
- The FAN has the character Mustache Bob appear every now and then, usually in a panel's lower left corner.
- This little guy from Zap! appears at the site of every major disaster.
- There's a kid in Zebra Girl who used to appear in front of Sandra's house.
- Princess Pi has the man in the third panel of this scene constantly appear during disasters and assure onlookers that the victims will survive.
- Sandra on the Rocks has a mother-and-daughter pair who occasionally wander through to embarrass and be shocked by Sandra.
- Homestar Runner has the old lady who often makes remarks on Strong Bad while off screen, prompting Strong Bad to yell "Shut up lady!"
- Parodied in this 5secondfilms short.
- In Return of the Cartoon Man, Kim and Donnie start out this way, but they end up affecting the plot in a minor way when they help Valerie. They also take part in the third movie's final battle.
- Vaguely Recalling JoJo turns the Villains of the Week in the Stardust Crusaders arc into comedic background characters.
- In Noob, the webseries and comic tend to have T-Man show up whenever the scene needs a lone or extra Coalition player for a scene or gag, but not necessarily one of the other known characters from the faction. In later instllments, he and some of the protagonists treat each other as acquaintances.
- Adventure Time has The Snail, who appears briefly in nearly every episode. Usually plot-irrelevant, though there are a couple of instances (mainly in the fourth season) where he actually plays some part in the events.
- The Middleton High students from Kim Possible milling around in the background when Kim and Ron are at school are quite consistent, but fans particularly picked up on two: a freckled brunette usually wearing blue outfits and thus dubbed "Girl in Blue" and a tall, short-haired girl who fit the image of a Butch Lesbian and was dubbed "Alex Sapphic", first by slashfic, then by the fandom in general.
- Spongebob Squarepants has a ton, to the point that Bikini Bottom only has about twenty or so unique residents. A few of particular note are the dark-green adult male fish who yelled "my leg!!" during large scenes of commotion, an unseen person who often yelled "boo, you stink!" (later revealed to be Squidward's mother!), a blue fish somewhat resembling a shark who switches his accent partly through the series and has a hatred for big meaty claws, and another green fish with an....unhealthy obsession for chocolate.
- The "Yuppie Couple" have moved out of the background and have become involved in the greater story, making them no longer an example of the trope named for them. In the four-part episode "City of Stone" a pair of statues that looked like them were smashed by Demona, prompting fan outcry about killing them. Word of God says that the statues were two other identical people who were not this couple, and the couple has gained larger roles in the comics — the woman being the DA representative on the Gargoyles Task Force, and the man bringing a doctor to help save the life of the mortally wounded Goliath. The couple in question even appeared in another series, W.I.T.C.H., but only as a one time, not recurring (Greg Weisman worked on both shows).
- A jogger who wears an "I Love NY" baseball cap who appears in a few episodes, and gets the occasional Spear Carrier line of dialogue.
- Vinnie Grigori (whose voice mimics Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta) from Welcome Back, Kotter). This guy loses at least two jobs and a motorcycle to the Gargoyles' actions. In the Lower Deck Episode Clip Show centered on him, he spends most of the show narrating his past troubles to a custom-built weapon called "Mr. Carter," which his accent renders indistinguishable from "Mr. Kotter", before finally shooting Goliath in the face just after the climax of a big battle that had Goliath's attention all night. Fortunately, "Mr. Carter" only shoots cream pies, and Vinnie walked away very satisfied with himself, leaving a confused Goliath to wonder at his identity. In the first episode of The Goliath Chronicles he actually has a major role, and saves Goliath and Elisa's lives before putting himself on a bus to take a job in Japan. Too bad for him there are Gargoyles there too... He is next seen being observed by Yama, one of the Japanese Gargoyles in the Bad Guys mini series.
- Rocko's Modern Life had this in Filbert for a while, until he became an Ascended Extra.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series had a few characters like this, including their own yuppie couple and that large, bald, sunburnt tourist who keeps dropping his ice cream cone.
- Galaxy High had another couple. The wife's name was Myrtle. They were actually an important part of at least one story, giving the main character a lift when his spaceship broke down. They may have been a pair of the Roepers from Three's Company.
- Family Guy does this, but none of the recurring extras are seen in the same role twice. Of particular note is Bruce, who first appeared as an unnamed and rather creepy Spider-Man impersonator Peter considered hiring for Stewie's party in "Death Has a Shadow", and later popped up in various roles over the series first run. Eventually, after the show was Un-Canceled, he received a name (lampshaded of course), and became an Ascended Extra.
- Several on The Simpsons.
- Squeaky Voice Teen, usually seen working in fast food restaurants or other low level retail.
- Raphael, AKA Wiseguy, AKA Sarcastic Man, who is a taxi driver, store clerk, plumber, etc depending of what the plot needs.
- Yes Guy, a Frank Nelson parody (see above in live action TV). In a homage to the original, he has Nelson's odd mannerisms and voice and always plays clerks.
- This applies greatly to the children seen in Bart and Lisa's classes. One-time character of the day students like Allison, Alex, and Francine, who are voiced by celebrities, are reduced to this. In fact, due to the severe lack of female students at Springfield Elementary and Lisa's lack of friends, the only girls she is ever seen with are Janey (her fair-weathered "friend") and Sherri & Terri (two bratty twins who aren't even in her class).
- Silkie, from the second season of Teen Titans onward, was basically Kuroneko as played by an oversized grub.
- Kappa Mikey has at least a half-dozen of these, including a pirate, a little old lady, a delivery guy, a biker named Beef, and a janitor. Whether or not Yoshi the cameraman counts is debatable.
- A cabbage merchant in Avatar: The Last Airbender who always seems to find himself in the exact same city as Aang and the gang as they're Walking the Earth and always finds his cart destroyed when they cross paths. His last appearance was about halfway through the second season, but was lampshaded in the last episode before the Grand Finale when Sokka is reading the poster for the play they are about to see. ("Sources include singing nomads, pirates, prisoners of war, and a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage.")
- The cabbage merchant even manages to recur (sort of) a full 70 years later in Sequel Series The Legend of Korra. In a true case of Throw the Dog a Bone, it seems his luck changed for the better: the Cabbage Corporation is now a leading brand in technology. He even got a statue in front of the factory. Only for it to be accused of treason and shut down.
Cabbage Corp CEO: No! Not my Cabbage Corp!
- Additionally, both times we see Kyoshi Island, a particular person gets over excited at the Avatar visiting and starts foaming at the mouth and passes out. In the second instance, Aang isn't really there, so he suddenly gets up, pulls his hood over his head, and slinks away in embarrassment.
- Korra also has "Feather Hat Guy," a guy with a feathered hat who appears in the background of almost every episode of the first season, prompting a fandom "Where's Waldo?" with fans scouring the episodes to find him. After not appearing for all of the second season, he reappeared as a disgruntled driver in an episode of the third season.
- The cabbage merchant even manages to recur (sort of) a full 70 years later in Sequel Series The Legend of Korra. In a true case of Throw the Dog a Bone, it seems his luck changed for the better: the Cabbage Corporation is now a leading brand in technology. He even got a statue in front of the factory. Only for it to be accused of treason and shut down.
- Rugrats: Larry and Steve, two of Didi's students who have worked at several different disastrous jobs (thanks to the babies), including house painting, the supermarket, and the movie theater.
- Edgar and Chauncey, in the various incarnations of Rocky and Bullwinkle:
Edgar: There's something you don't see every day, Chauncey.
Chauncey: What's that, Edgar?
- Kelly, the hapless and perpetually unlucky woman who inadvertently runs afoul of alien robots who turn into cars in Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Her insurance probably didn't cover most of the problems they caused. Her name was never spoken in-series, and comes from a sheet listing the cast.
- In Megas XLR, frequently when mass devastation is being caused (frequently causing everyone else to scream and run for their lives), we see a particular kid watching it who just watches and says "Cool."
- Ice Age and its sequels have Scrat, a disaster-prone prehistoric rodent who wants nothing more than to harvest and bury acorns and who occasionally crosses paths with the main characters.
- Transformers Animated has its various appearances of the Witwicky Family.
- Danny Phantom consistently has a number of these. Though it makes sense as the main character is going to the same high school for the whole show, they do seem to show up everywhere.
- The boy with the spiky blond hair. (Who only ever got one line: "It's a ridiculously large hornet! Run!")
- The chick with red hair and glasses... and possibly braces. (She does actually get a role as one of the transformed geeks when the trio goes to the San Diego Comic Con. At least, it's the same character design.)
- The black chick with the tall black hair and green sweater.
- Batman Beyond features a nondescript bald man in black that has constantly appeared in the background or in random moments throughout the series. The fans have noticed him so much that he's gained his own bio page on World's Finest. He has been alternately referred to as "Mr. Lucky" or the intentionally-misspelled "The Blad Man". It is possible, but as of yet unconfirmed, as to whether the character was designed after longtime DCAU director Dan Riba.◊
- Number 9 Man appeared in the background throughout the cartoon series before getting an important role in the fourth film Into the Wild Green Yonder.
- Scruffy the Janitor is often present and makes comments on situations that have nothing to do with him.
- There's also a fat, balding man with an exaggerated Bronx accent, apparently named "Sal", occasionally seen in some sort of blue-collar job. The writers can not decide whether they're all clones or just one guy who can't hold down a job.
- Daria's background classmates are kept consistent throughout the series, most notably Andrea, the goth girl who drops the occasional snark and writes Wangsty poetry. She's given some development though, such as when Daria and Jane ease her embarrassment towards working at a wholesale club (we actually see her smile), and at the very end of the series when she hooks up with Upchuck.
- Invader Zim had many very distinct extras; so many were recognizable as they changed from one small role to another—such as a Ron Jeremy caricature who appears as both a taxi driver and a hot dog vendor. Some, such as classmates, stayed consistent though. Jhonen Vasquez often appears as an extra.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a pair of cops — based on Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird — who would appear whenever the scene required policemen.
- Bibbo Bibbowski of Superman: The Animated Series, an absent-minded longshoreman, who appears in the pilot (with minor plot-relevance; he's established as an informant for Lois who helped her on an arms smuggling expose, and whom she asks to inform the Planet of her whereabouts if she doesn't return from the ship she is investigating, a task he is quickly distracted from). He appears several times thereafter, often just to provide a comment on something strange that has occurred, though occasionally Lois or Clark seek information from him, and he often makes shows of support for Superman.
- Season 1 of Frisky Dingo had the ubiquitous Mr. Ford, a character who seemed to work at every menial job in the city from retail clerk to security guard to hospital employee, depending on the plot. Lampshaded in episode 12 when the main cast finally notices, to which his resigned response is "Yeah, my ass is everywhere." He was elevated to a main character actually affecting the plot in season 2 and the spinoff The Xtacles.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes has numerous examples. This can largely be attributed to the Cast of Snowflakes designs being constantly reused. Some named ones include Ms. Cheesebreath; an old lady with a Meaningful Name (she used to teach Lucius' third grade class), Luigi-Paulo; a two-headed Italian, Chuck; an overly-friendly bus driver, Apple; a winged Cute Monster Girl newswoman, Chef Garbage, the Awe Guy, Dr. Scientist, Butley, and Rudolpho.
- In Total Drama:
- Several of the interns from Total Drama Action, as well as many of the characters' old designs as a Development Gag.
- During the special, Chris even brought back some others (such as the intern with the hat, the serial killer, and the Eskimo dropped on Courtney) to be the "stars" of a fake reality show called "Total Drama Dirtbags".
- Ezekiel becomes one in World Tour where he continues cameoing in the background of almost every episode.
- Mr. Coconut is one in All-Stars.
- Reflector in Transformers Generation 1 tended to just be an "extra" Decepticon, since clones of him were often used to pad out the Decepticon ranks. He never affected the plot and after the first few episodes, didn't get to speak despite a number of generic appearances. He had a minor role in the first part of More than Meets the Eye, but that was about it.
- Several of the unnamed citizens of Marzipan City in Chowder pop up more than once, and considering their individual bizarre attributes, it's not hard to notice them.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog:
- Di Lung, who would often pop up very briefly to utter his catchphrase, "Watch where you're going, you foo'!" He was essentially an extra until about halfway through the series, when he became more active in the plot.
- Jean Bonne also filled this role after his demotion.
- Phineas and Ferb has several kids who often make cameo appearances, often in crowd shots.
- All eight boys who rode the first rollercoaster with Phineas and Ferb have a goodly number of appearances in crowd scenes. However, only Dimitri Popaunicolas ever plays an important role in any episode: he holds a red balloon in a rodeo, angering the mechanical bulls. Buford actually lampshades the group's status (or, at least, the status of the trio formed by Pedro, Dimitri, and the boy who remembers Irving) as extras in the episode with the second rollercoaster, stealing the poster to ride for free, noting that he deserves to ride more than them, because they are extras.
- The most prominent example is the farmer couple from "Leave The Busting To Us!" et al., who never interact with the main characters, but often have something convenient fall out of the sky on them as a result of Phineas and Ferb's projects or Doofenshmirtz's schemes.
- Another example introduced in the same episode is the teenage blonde in the "Bust 'Em" commercial. She has shown up many times since, usually as one of Jeremy's friends. Her only line so far is a censored expletive.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has an entire stable of recurring background ponies, many of whom have fan followings almost as unlikely as that of the show itself. These include clumsy Ensemble Dark Horse Derpy Hooves, probably the most well-known of them all thanks to an animator's in-joke, as well as Doctor Hooves and Lyra Heartstrings, to name but a few out of very, very many.
- In The Adventures Of Tintin, Tintin's creator Hergé appears at least once in every story.
- X-Men had a recurring mutant who had no powers, but just looked kind of animalistic. He even got the occasional line of dialogue, usually pleading for his life at the hands of an angry mob of normal humans.
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go has a man in glasses carrying a penguin doll named Mr. Cheepers, often seen fleeing from the chaos happening in the city.
- Gravity Falls has many characters who are seen in every crowd. Many of them have received a Fandom Nickname like the "Free Pizza Guy".
- On Arthur, there are two kids in Arthur's class who have been in nearly every episode that shows his class since the beginning of the series. One is a gray rabbit boy, the other is a rabbit girl with a hairstyle like D.W.'s. The girl has never said anything, and the boy has had three lines for the entire run of the show, and none of the other main characters talk about or notice them. The girl, Maria, is getting an episode dedicated to her in season 19.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes had a few, one noticeable one being a woman with shoulder-length red hair, a brown turtleneck and a tan skirt, who became Suddenly Voiced in "Along Came a Spider", but never received a name.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has a number of background imaginary friends like Fluffer Nutter, Billy the Squid, Two-Head Fred, Wheelie, Mucus George, or Clumsy (to name some that are given ones). This would be because the ones that consistently appear are noticeable in part of the Cast of Snowflakes.
- As Julian Smith once put it about Facebook: "You know how on 'People You May Know', there's always that ONE DUDE that you know for a fact you don't know and never met him a day in your life, but he just NEVER GOES AWAY? I feel we should all just go add that guy." There are some people who you never talk to (and vice versa), and may not know your name (again, and vice versa), but is always seen all the time. Of course, to them you might be an example as well. This is evident especially in schools.