"I'll have my tailor shorten those legs for you," he'd say, and carry them into the back room. "Take about twelve inches off the legs, Pierre." Whack! Whack! "Ah, thank you, Pierre!" Pierre himself was never seen or heard, but for a Frenchman he was pretty handy with a machete.
Ernest P. Worrell, an advertising icon who later starred in a television show called Hey Vern, It's Ernest! and a series of films, often addressed a friend, Vern, who was supposedly manning the camera and thus never spoke or was seen on screen. In fact, Ernest was famous for the Catch Phrase "Knowhutimean, Vern?" This would be one of the cases where The Watson is simultaneously invoked.
Anime and Manga
Tower Of God: King Zahard, the ruler of the Tower. Furthermore the Irregulars Phantaminum, Urek Mazino and Enryu. And finally the Director of the 2nd Floor, Evankell.
The Shinigami King on Death Note. At least until the one shot sequel was released.
Actually before the one-shot's release, he was included as a figure in Volume 13 of the DVD series, only in Japan though.
Naota's older brother Tasuku from FLCL, only appearing as a silhouette in an episode 2 flashback and as a picture with his American girlfriend in a later episode, which is of course obscured by glare.
Kyo Kara Maoh: Shinou ('The Great One') up to the end of Season 2.
Mr. Ichinose started out like this in Maison Ikkoku, but he did eventually appear (in a story where his appearance was the main focus). Oddly enough, he recognized everyone from Maison Ikkoku on sight, and knew many things about them. However, none of the tenants recognized him. He continued to make appearances in expected places for the rest of the manga's run.
Lina's older sister Luna in Slayers. She's mentioned several times (especially in TRY), but we never do see her on screen, or in the novels that the anime was based on. Word Of God says that she'll never appear in canon outside of the opening sequences, because she's so ridiculously powerful that she would unbalance the rest of the cast.
Kyoko's deceased husband, Soichiro, from Maison Ikkoku. While PARTLY a Posthumous Character, even when he IS shown in flashback any exposed skin (face, hands) is blacked out. In universe, Godai, Kyoko's new love interest, never even gets to see a picture of him until nearly the end of the series when he sees a picture from Kyoko's first wedding. Even then the READER only gets to see a part of Soichiro's hand.
Himeko from SKET Dance will occasionally make a passing reference to "Nakatai-san from Class A". Late in the series, Bossun finally points out that he has no idea who that person is. This leads to an entire chapter where he tries to meet the character, only to keep missing her due to increasingly improbable events. He does manage to catch a partial glimpse of her at one point.
Contrary to popular belief, Yugi Mouto from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!did have a mother, and she wasn't dead. She was seen in one brief scene in the manga, and one scene in one episode after the Duelist Kingdom arc (which was cut from the dub) but that was it. Exactly why she kept herself hidden all the time wasn't clear.
Jonouchi's father was someone who was never seen, except in one panel in the manga, but he was talked about often. Apparently, he was an alcoholic whose illness had caused his marriage to end in divorce. Jonouchi's mother got a small amount of screen time; she kept custody of his sister Shizuka, and was very reluctant to talk to Jonouchi until Shizuka's surgery.
Lawrence and Mobile of Scott Pilgrim, until they both appear near the end of volume five.
Believe it or not, Mary Jane Watson was this until her first appearance in Amazing Spider Man #42. Before that, she was sort of a Running Gag by the writers, someone who Aunt May and Mary Jane's own aunt were trying to have Peter meet, but never succeeding. The first time she appeared, her face was hidden. When she and Peter finally met, it came as quite a shock to Peter.
Empowered's mother. (They sometimes talk on the telephone, but we never hear what she says.)
The "Enemy" in Sturmtruppen is never ever shown, except for one single strip (which is still pitch black).
The Joker was given this treatment in the New 52. After the events of Batman: Detective Comics #1, he apparently "retired", and the only thing left of him is his face after he had another psychotic criminal surgically remove it for some reason. He still manages to cause trouble for Gotham — in the wake of his disappearance, he gets in-universe Draco in Leather Pants treatment from a bunch of idiots who dress up like him to form angry mobs that accuse Batman of murdering the Joker. His face (which is currently being held by Gotham police) is also being treated as an object of worship by the Joker's crazier fans. The few times Joker appeared, it was either in a flashback or an impostor.
The Joker returns in Batman #13, where he retrieves his face. This leads to an event called Death Of The Family, in which he goes after every member of the Bat-Family.
Not only is Hayate never shown in Perfection Is Overrated, but nothing is revealed about this person apart from being Toki's most important person, someone for whom she'd risk a temporal paradox- not even Hayate's gender is revealed. The Usurper wonders what Toki sees in Hayate, but she refuses to elaborate, a reference to the shallow and hastily established romances some Mary Sue characters have.
Star Wars: A New Hope had several Ghosts: Emperor Palpatine and Jabba the Hutt were both The Ghost. Jabba was originally supposed to appear in the film, but his scene was cut, and his character was reimagined as a giant slug alien. His scene was restored in the Special Edition with a CGI version of Jabba inserted over the original actor and his dialogue dubbed over with Huttese.
In the James Bond movies, most of the other 00 agents qualify, with one notable exception. Not counting Thunderball where they're all seen in the background, at best they're only seen when dead or 3 seconds from dying. 008 in particular is never seen onscreen, though M always threatens to replace Bond with him if he keeps disobeying orders.
In Waiting for Guffman, the characters spend the entire movie preparing for the arrival of Broadway talent scout Guffman. During their performance, a distinguished man arrives late and takes Guffman's seat, but we later find out that he's just a random guy. Guffman never appears.
Claude Daigle, the boy Rhoada murdered from The Bad Seed, is only referred to in past tense, though he may have been glimpsed at the school picnic.
Al Capone in Road to Perdition is referred to a number of times, but he never appears. A scene was shot with him, but it was cut out to make his presence more abstract and ominous.
Patton does this with General Eisenhower, both on purpose and by accident. They couldn't find an actor that looked enough like Eisenhower, so they decided to have Eisenhower be an unseen, ominous figure.
My Dinner With Andre is full of them. The cast literally conists of two guys, a waiter, and a few extras. Throughout the film, Wallace talks about his girlfriend Debbie, and Andre talks about quite a few people. The closest we ever get to seeing any of them is a single black and white photograph of a Polish woman Andre worked with one time.
The Big Lebowski: Walter's ex-wife, Cynthia. She is mentioned a few times, Walter even takes care of her dog, but she is never seen or heard.
Norman Osborn gets this treatment in The Amazing Spider-Man. We never get a clear look at him and all we hear about is that he founded Oscorp, he's dying from an unknown disease, and he is linked to Peter's parents somehow. The Stinger suggests that he may know more about Spiderman and everything else going on then he lets on...
Galbatorix from the Inheritance Cycle. Somewhat unusual in that he is the Big Bad of the series, at least as of the third book. He finally appears in the last book, Inheritance.
Inversion in Thursday Next: First Among Sequels: Jenny never appears because she's actually a mindworm implanted in the first-person narrator's mind. This was revealed when her family explained it to her to stop her freaking out over an abandoned Jenny - only to have the mindworm blank out her memory of the conversation afterwards.
Not really literature, but who exactly is Uncle John of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader? He's referenced countless times in the series. Its not the person on the back of the books either, they've pointed out multiple times his name is Larry Kelp and he's merely a technician for the Bathroom Readers Institute.
Uncle John just seems to be an alias for whatever persona happens to be convenient for the remarks prefacing an article—in the article on microwaves it makes comments about how he once swore he'd never have anything to do with the device, but now he thanks the appliance gods every time he pulls a pizza out of the freezer to keep the kids from killing each other.
Uncle John might be humorist John Javna, who was one of the co-creators of the series and who contributes to every book, but Javna nor the BRI have ever confirmed its supposed to be him
The Hittite king Suppiluliuma I is a constant presence throughout The Egyptian — we hear of his plans, we see his armies and what he does, but he never appears on-stage himself.
Eloise Midgen of Harry Potter. We know that she has unfortunate acne, that Ron doesn't want to go with her to the Yule Ball, and that she's one of the first to go home in the sixth book during Voldemort's reign of terror, but we never see her. (She does appear in one of the films, however.)
Nicholas Flamel, from the first book. Very important to the plot, but never actually appeared in person.
Professor Aurora Sinistra, the Astronomy teacher, is mentioned but never shown, except for one brief mention as dancing with Moody at the Yule Ball.
In the same strain, aside from a tiny mention where she's almost concussed by Hagrid, Professor Vector, the Arithmancy Teacher is the same.
Ron's Great Auntie Muriel was this, until book 7.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is brimming full of ghosts. There's ex-president of the galaxy Yooden Vranx, acclaimed writer Oolong Colluphid, the long-lost Guide editor Lig Lury Junior, and of course, Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon VI.
In The Ambassadors by Henry James, the mother of Chad Newsome, who guides much of the novel's action by sending her fiancee Strether to Europe, never appears in the book.
Margaret, the mother of Alison in Alan Garner's The Owl Service. Many of the events pan out as the characters try desperately to keep her happy, but she never appears in the book. Similarly occurs in the TV series, to the extent that you see parts of her clothing and even hear her play piano in the same room, but never actually hear or see her.
Arianllyn, Adaon's betrothed in The Black Cauldron. He references her repeatedly, but since he dies two-thirds of the way through the book, the reader never gets to meet her.
The eponymous character of Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster. Since almost the entire Epistolary Novel consists of protagonist Judy's letters to her unknown benefactor, this makes sense. Subverted in the end, however, when it's revealed that "Daddy" is Jervis, the man she's in love with and has written about extensively.
Augusta Elton, in Emma, is expecting a visit from her fashionable sister Selina and her husband, and she never hesitates to mention them, but they never arrive. Frank Churchill's aunt and uncle are also mentioned frequently but never seen. Frank himself had been The Ghost in Highbury for several years prior to the events of the novel.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Howland Reed of Greywater Watch is a longtime friend of Eddard Stark, and is mentioned a number of times throughout the story, but he has yet to appear himself. What's more, he's the only surviving member of Eddard's group of men that went to the Tower of Joy, and he is probably the only person who knows exactly what promise Eddard made to his dead sister, Lyanna.
Stannis Baratheon in the first book.
Bergholt Stuttley "Bloody Stupid" Johnson, Discworld's most infamous inventor. His works are present throughout the series, but Johnson himself never makes an appearance. It's pretty strongly implied that he's been dead for decades.
It's mentioned that Sybil Ramkin's father shot the man when he started to work his particular landscaping genius on their estate, although whether this is what killed him is unclear.
Mrs Colon was The Ghost up to Snuff; often mentioned, but part of the joke was that she and Fred barely saw each other, and the two communicated almost exclusively through notes left about the house. Vimes at one point wondered how they managed to have kids, eventually chalking it up to some very persuasive notes.
The letters that Last Dragon consists of are addressed to Esumi, a character we never meet in the story and about whom we learn very little.
In The Catcher in the Rye, Jane Gallagher is one of the few people Holden respects and admires. Thinking she might have had sex with Holden's boorish roommate sparks the fight that sets the plot in motion. Holden considers or tries to call her at various points during the novel, but never reaches her.
Silver's unnamed wife in Treasure Island. All we know is that she's "a woman of colour" and is trusted with Silver's finances while he's on the Hispanola (specifically, to sell everything, clear the account, and meet up with him somewhere).
Live Action TV
Ercole "Ecky" DiMeo, the boss of the crime family in The Sopranos, was sent to prison years before the events of the show. Though the crime family still bears his name, it's actually run by his underlings.
Heather Sinclair of Degrassi The Next Generation is a ghost. She's a running joke between the writers and is basically only brought up when there needs to be drama in an episode but it's not between the main characters.
One of the earliest would be "'Er Indoors", Arthur's wife from Minder.
Captain Mainwaring's wife Elizabeth in Dad's Army.
Vera (A ghost character in Cheers) was reincarnated in Niles' wife Maris in Frasier. She wasn't originally meant to be a ghost, but by the time they would otherwise have showed her the makers of the show realized that they'd built up such an inhuman woman with their imagery that no actress could play her. You do see a silhouette in one episode and (in a flashback) a bandage-covered woman in another.
Al's Mom from Home Improvement. Similarly, they built up Al's mother's weight so long that there was no way they'd actually get anybody to play her. There'd need to be unimaginable amounts of padding. After she dies, we see her casket at her funeral. It's the size of a station wagon.
Clive appears in the episode dealing with Gary's non-wedding, as the one to whom the task of filming the whole shebang falls. Needless to say, the only thing you see is his legs, although you do occasionally hear his leering comments.
Both Allie, Jack Gallo's young wife and Binnie, Nina's best friend on Just Shoot Me!
Both characters eventually appeared onscreen. Jack's wife Allie made her first appearance in the fourth season finale, a Cliff Hanger that ends with her sleeping with Finch. Binnie appeared both in a Halloween Episode and as a ghost in one of the final episodes; in both she was The Faceless (covered in bandages in the former, seen only from the back in the latter).
Donald Trump, Jack's friendly rival, also qualifies.
The Season 5 episode "The Girl in Question" revolves around an entity known only as "The Immortal", who only appears on camera once barely visible through the crowd on a dance floor, and Buffy herself, who fills a similar role throughout the season.
A dubbed example is Klink's housekeeper/possible mistress in Hogan's Heroes. Never heard of the her? You weren't watching the dub, where dialogue relating to Hitler or other topics verboten on German television were replaced by more innocent dialogue about Klink's housekeeper. She was never seen because originally she never existed.
Snake, Natalie's boyfriend in the later seasons of The Facts of Life. He does show up in the latter half of the final season, just in time for a Very Special Episode about Natalie being the first of the girls to "get her V-Card punched".
That Beryl Marston... is not actually in the ITV sitcom of that title (it's about a couple played by Julia McKenzie and Gareth Hunt, and the effect of Hunt's affair with Marston on their marriage)
Honorable mention: Bella's Gran, Tweenies. She did make one appearance though, in "Jake and the Beanstalk" (she's watching the Tweenies doing a Christmas pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Jake).
Mrs. Columbo in Columbo is a prime example of the phenomenon. Though she never appeared in the series, a spinoff which ran under several titles featured as its lead a character purported to be the detective's wife, in which Columbo himself was likewise a Ghost. "Kate Columbo" is generally considered by the makers of the Columbo series to not, in fact, be the same person, but either the wife of an entirely different detective of the same name, or (in a line cut from an actual Columbo episode) an imposter.
Dan the Van from Chucklevision. Often mentioned by the Chuckle Brothers or spoken to on the phone. Appeared in one episode, covered entirely in bandages
In Touched by an Angel, and indeed in most non-comedy programs in which He is a character, God. He finally appears in the last episode as part of Monica's promotion test.
Enid, Dr. Kelso's wife in Scrubs. Also, his son Harrison.
Enid is seen at least once from behind (without her face showing) in a flashback. Harrison is also (just) seen in a photo that Kelso is holding.
Also, R.N. Laverne Roberts' husband and son.
Possible parody in most/all of the Janitor's anecdotes. He's constantly referencing Ghost characters who never appear, with the reality of those Ghosts being called into question constantly. Even once when his Father made an actual appearance, he later mentions his father having died years ago, when J.D. responds with the fact that he'd met the Janitor's father, the Janitor replies "You met a Man". This also builds up to a subversion of the trope. After an entire series of the Janitor making up people, he mentions a girlfriend named "Lady". You're led to believe she's another made up Ghost for a while until she actually appears and the two get married.
In the first season of The Mighty Boosh, Vince and Howard mention their friend Leroy, who apparently has influence on the show. His face is actually seen in one scene, but only for a few seconds, and covered completely by KISS-style make-up.
Major Atumbe, Babylon 5's third-in-command. Mentioned several times, but never appears because, according to the creator, they didn't want yet another on-screen recurring character. Oddly, David Corwin who started off as a bit part would eventually assume the 3iC role.
Another important faceless is David Sheridan, son of John Sheridan and Delenn. In all flash-forwards, David is never seen, even when John Sheridan dies. David is off training with the rangers, and they didn't want to call him back.
This, interestingly, is because David is too important to the arc. They wanted to keep it open to eventually cast him, and there is a lot of stuff that happened with him. Revealed in the novels, of course.
The Chef on Star Trek: Enterprise. May be a Shout Out to an episode of the original Star Trek (where the Chef over the comm system was voiced by Gene Roddenberry), though in the series finale, it's Riker from TNG standing in for the Chef. He makes a Faceless appearance in a second season episode, where the lower half of his body can be seen as he passes food down.
Throughout the series, there were many offscreen Star Trek: The Original Series aliens constantly being mentioned, but never being shown. The Orions (yeah, them) were the villains of one episode... by way of non-Orion enforcers, with no actual Orions ever showing up. Star Trek: Enterprise would return them to the television screen for the first time in 35-ish years... and also threw in the Tarkaleans, whose only presence at the time had been their getting mentioned (especially by way of "Tarkalean tea") but not seen in Deep Space Nine.
Lt. Vilix'Pran and his ever-growing brood of budlings were sometimes mentioned. Jake is even supposed to have baby-sat some, which involved keeping their wings untangled.
Jadzia also has an ex-boyfriend with a transparent skull who fits this trope nicely.
The Breen on Star Trek: The Next Generation were something of a running in-joke. They were never shown on screen but were supposedly a dangerous empire and enemy of the Federation. Characters would often wrongly suspect their involvement in the conflict of the week but they were always red herrings. They were eventually revealed on Deep Space Nine, but it turned out Breen wear body suits at all times as they breathe differently, so their actual bodies are covered. The never-seen Tzenkethi filled a similar role thereafter.
Ugly Naked Guy in Friends. He is seen twice, though not completely: his rear end and his hand in "The One with the Giant Poking Device", and also from behind in the episode where Ross is trying to get his apartment.
In the inspirational television series Life Is Worth Living, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen would refer to an Angel who erased a blackboard used on the program. The Angel is never seen, since the host would move away so the blackboard and whoever erased it was off-screen. When transcripts of the series were published, illustrations would show an angel along with recreated diagrams.
Jerry the cameraman from Drop the Dead Donkey. He is never seen as he is always behind the camera. Due to the situations that Damien places him in he is always the Fall Guy.
He does show up at least once, at a Christmas party covered head to toe in bandages.
Also Sir Royston Merchant, the media mogul who owns Globelink News (until a brief appearance in the final episode).
Hyacinth's sister Violet and son Sheridan in Keeping Up Appearances, though only in the first season. Violet does fully appear in the second while Sheridan makes one appearance as The Voiceless.
Liz's husband was mentioned from time to time, but his job required a lot of travel, so we never got to see him.
Linderman in Heroes was mentioned in just about every episode without being seen until he was finally revealed near the end of season 1.
"The Missus" Hunt in Life On Mars, who spends quite a bit of time out of town at her mother's; an inexplicably deleted line from the Ashes to Ashes pilot has her leaving Gene for another woman.
The priests on Father Ted would occasionally list another attribute of "Father Bigley", (he wears perfume, has lips like a fish) but the character never appeared on-screen.
Half the cast of The Red Green Show were ghosts, including Moose Thompson, Stinky Peterson, Buster Hadfield, Old Man Sedgwick, Junior Singleton, Harold's parents, and Red's wife Bernice. Even more ironic is that quite often one or more of these ghost characters (or sometimes a one-off ghost) would play crucial roles in the plot of the episode. This actually becomes funnier because we usually only see the characters' reactions to what happens, and just what sort of shenanigans they got into with Moose Thomson or Old Man Segewick left to our imaginations. What the audience pictures in their head based on what is described is probably a lot funnier than anything the writing team could come up with.
Drake & Josh: Drake's unseen best friend, Trevor. He was seen in episode two, played by Jerry O'Connell look-alike Taran Killam.
If Trevor is seen at least once, then he doesn't count.
Bruce Winchill, although often talked about, is never seen period. He doesn't even make a cameo appearance. This is probably the one character that should not have been a hidden character.
Mr. Peterson's domineering wife, Doris, in The Bob Newhart Show. Unfortunately, she was shown once, which made all the jokes about her much less funny.
Mrs. Slocombe in Are You Being Served? mentions her friend Mrs. Axelby several times, but Mrs. Axelby never makes any on-screen appearances.
The Steve Harvey Show makes many references to characters' family members that are never seen: Regina (has a brother who married a white woman and moved to Arizona), Steve (has a sister who is a dentist and whose dental school tuition was paid by Steve writing jingles, also has a brother who married a white woman), Ced (mother), Lovita (many, many family members named for products, but brother Duracell is most talked about along with her mother).
The Golden Girls also makes references to never seen relatives: Dorothy (brother Phil who liked to cross-dress), Sophia (at least 4 other siblings), Rose (Charlie), Blanche (3 sons and their wives, grandmother.)
If Charlie (who is actually dead) counts then Blanche's husband, George, Sophia's husband, Sal, and Blanche's father, known only as Big Daddy, also count.
One of Sophia's sisters appears a few times in later episodes. Sal, George, and Charlie are justified because they've all died by the time the series starts, although Sal is seen in a few flashbacks. George later appears and reveals that he faked his death which was All Just a Dream and Big Daddy does appear in a few episodes until he dies. Phil is the straightest example.
Amen: Thelma's mother is never seen as she died when Thelma was about 6 years old.
Sitcom The Parkers: Kim's friend Shaquan was frequently talked about throughout the series but was never seen until the final episode when it was revealed that Shaquan is Asian.
Audrey in Fawlty Towers. She did end up appearing in the episode "The Anniversary."
The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica had a few. Starbuck's Mom was mentioned now and then throught the series and was finally seen in Season 3. Starbuck's Dad, who was also mentioned a few times, was seen towards the end of Season 4. President Adar was mentioned throughout Season 1 and 2 and seen in flashbacks midway through Season 2. In addition, Admiral William Adama and his son Lee often talk about (Adama's father and Lee's grandfather) Joseph Adama and Lee uses his books during Baltar's trial. Joseph isn't seen in the show itself but is a protagonist in the series spinoff, Caprica.
An honorary mention goes to the Cylon Number 7, Daniel. He was mentioned only in one episode and never seen. Thanks to Epileptic Trees, however, speculation regarding his identity and nature of involvement has persisted through the ending of the series and turned him to a near-mythical figure. Ronald D. Moore actually referred to that portion of the fandom as the "Cult of Daniel".
Cambot from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Which makes sense as he is the camera taping the show. However, you do see him in the opening credits (looking into a mirror), though his appearance changes between theme-song updates.
Spencer's friend Socko in iCarly. Sam's Mom until the episode iSam's Mom.
Allegedly, Lane Kim's dad in Gilmore Girls is this. It is a rather strange case because not only is he never seen onscreen, he also is never really referred to. Word Of God has it he not only exists but also lives together with his wife, Mrs. Kim, who appears quite frequently.
Likewise, Al of Al's Pancake World is never seen onscreen even though the girls frequent the establishment often, almost as much as Luke's Diner.
The Nanny: Morty, Fran Fine's dad was pretty much this until he finally appeared for real in one of the last episodes. Up to that point he had only had a couple of appearances as The Faceless, even in an episode that was set almost entirely in Morty's and Sylvia's appartment.
Mareen, the barman's wife in one blackly comic sketch from The Fast Show. The barman would chat to his regulars about her, call up the stairs to her - usually "Mareen? It's getting busy down here!" - and when she didn't respond, he did whatever he'd asked her for himself. No-one reminds him that she died several years ago and he's in denial.
Rachel's gay dads on the show Glee, though they're seen with her in a photo booth picture strip in the pilot episode.
They've been introduced and had almost a whole episode dedicated to them as of season three.
In The Good Life, a number of Margo's acquaintances including Miss Mountshaft of the music society are talked about regularly but are never seen.
Family Matters: Steve Urkel's parents. In one episode, we see a baby picture of Steve with his mother holding him. The glare partially obscures her face, however.
In Quantum Leap, Al is Sam's only contact with the future, so all the other members of the Quantum Leap Project are ghost characters. Programmer Gooshie shows up briefly in the pilot, and a few times in the fourth and fifth seasons, and Al's girlfriend Tina gets maybe a minute of screen time in the fourth-season premiere, but for the most part we only get Al's stories about them.
In the BBC serial adaptations of John Le Carre's George Smiley novels, Karla is almost entirely invisible. He appears once in flashback in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and once in Smiley's People for just ten seconds during his defection. He doesn't speak in either appearance. Despite this he drives the entire plot of both series.
In 30 Rock Cerie's fiancé Aeris never makes it onto the screen, even at their wedding.
Episode 38 of Tensou Sentai Goseiger builds up to a visit from Nozomu's mother, with the Goseigers fighting to save the train she is supposed to be on, only to find out at the end that she missed the train and will not be coming. Her voice is heard in a telephone conversation, and the Goseigers look at a photo of her (which the viewer doesn't see) but she never appears on screen.
The title character in The BBCPlay For Today "Abigail's Party". The play is about a middle-class dinner party with two married couples and one divorced woman. Abigail is the divorcée's teenaged daughter, who is having her own party at the same time.
In one episode of That's So Raven, Chelsie and Eddie win a prize from a radio contest that is never actually seen but viewers are given clues as to what it is. (It's implied that it's a toy robot dog.)
Danny, especially in the early seasons of The X-Files. Danny was another FBI agent whom primarily Mulder would occasionally call upon for information. One writer for the show joked that he was "a gnome that lives in Mulder's desk drawer." He was never seen or heard throughout the run of the show.
Scully's younger brother Charlie is often mentioned but never seen, except briefly in a flashback to Scully's childhood.
In the 1980s British sitcom Dear Ladies starring the female impersonators Hinge and Bracket many unseen characters were mentioned most notably Teddy and Peggy Tranter although Teddy and Dame Hilda would talk on the phone in most episodes.
Marlene Boyce for the first three seasons of Only Fools And Horses. She was frequently mentioned by the characters, usually to wind up her husband Boycie by implying she'd really got around, but made her first appearance in Season 4, episode 5. Luckily they hadn't quite built her up to the point where no-one could play her.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager has Mike, Leo's chauffeur. He's gotten several mentions and has driven several of the characters around (off-screen, of course), but he's never put in an appearance.
A man known only as Bucket is mentioned constantly in Sea Change, usually in humorous circumstances, but we never get to see him. (One time we see a boat he is driving, packed with fireworks, crash into the newly-repaired bridge.) If you piece together all the throwaway remarks people make about him in the show, he becomes a man of very strange appearance and habits: he apparently has no arms, legs or teeth, and he enjoys stealing people's ride-on lawnmowers and drinking out of his dog's bowl when he gets drunk.
The Mother, the woman who Ted will marry and have the children that he's telling How I Met Your Mother. She's a slight subversion though — the reason none of the characters in the present day ever talk about her is because they haven't met her yet, but since the show is told in a flashback, Future!Ted's narration refers to her many, many, many times, yet her face is never seen and her voice is never heard. Her ankle is briefly glimpsed in "Girls vs. Suits", and a dark figure carrying a yellow umbrella (which signifies the Mother, whose yellow umbrella connected her and Ted without either of them knowing it, and will somehow be a part of their first meeting) is seen in "Wait for It" and "No Tomorrow". Even in flash forwards to times after Ted met her, she is conveniently never seen. For example, in "How I Met Everyone Else", when Ted, Marshall, and Lilly are shown hiding in the hall and smoking confiscated weed during their college class reunion in the year 2020, the scene ends with Ted giggling "Dude, where's my wife?"
In According to Jim, Jim has a friend no one else ever meets or sees. His wife Cheryl suspects he made the friend up, since it always seems he's in town and they have to go out whenever Jim wants to get out of something. She's right, Jim made him up, and he then "kills off" this friend so Cheryl doesn't expose it.
Many Game Shows have offscreen judges who are sometimes heard, but never seen. Their job is to determine on the spot if an answer is acceptable (e.g., if the contestant gives an answer on the buzzer, or gives an alternate answer that isn't on the host's card).
The $25,000 Pyramid carried this a step further, as their judge liked to communicate with bells and buzzers for yes and no, respectively (e.g. "Did he get in before the buzzer?" [ding]). Other times, he would jump in with the bell or buzzer if Dick or one of the panelists said something funny.
Deal or No Deal has the Banker, who calls host Noel Edmonds on a large prop telephone to make deals with the contestants. Noel appears to talk to him, but nothing is heard in the studio. (Critic Charlie Brooker suggested he's just listening to voices in his head.)
Shane's wife Anna in Raw. She appears in episode 5 and that's it.
In a What If? episode of Party of Five where the parents had never died, the parents themselves are not seen in the episode apart from a blurry scene at the end and the mother's voice on the answering machine.
Holiday camp supremo Joe Maplin in Hi De Hi He was intended to be played by Bob Monkhouse, who in the end was unavailable for filming, so it was decided to make him a Ghost.
The boy who owns and plays the games in Pixelface. The characters inside the console just refer to him as 'the boy'.
In Game of Thrones, several characters are this — Stannis Baratheon in Season 1, and Mance Rayder and Roose Bolton's bastard in Season 2.
In Castle, Martha's Old Flame/boyfriend Chet never appears onscreen, even after she (sort of) moves in with him.
Played hilariously in one final season episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. An ordinary man walks into an ant shop and gets mistaken for someone named "Michael Ellis" — whom we never see (though apparently he's done something that warrants the store's clerks greeting him by wearing a creepy mask and slowly emerging from behind the counter). Throughout the whole episode this guy keeps getting brought up at random intervals, and just to make things even more frustrating, the protagonist's mother angrily turns off (one of) the televisions just as a newsman is about to explain everything. It also certainly does not help that while Michael Ellis himself never appears, we see a random man who fits the physical description (the manage of the ant shop says he's extremely short).
Alice, Perry White's wife, in Lois and Clark. We see her from the neck down in one late-season episode.
In Power Rangers Zeo, it is mentioned that King Mondo'sArch-Enemy is someone named King Aradon. Mondo's first-built son Prince Gasket fell in love with Aradon's daughter Princess Archerina, and the two eloped, knowing their parents would never approve of their relationship. Although both Gasket and Archerina are valid threats to heroes during the brief period that Mondo is believed to be dead, Aradon himself is never seen.
All adults in Peanuts, the cat next door who hates Snoopy ... and that little red-haired girl. The TV specials adapt the fact that adult dialogue is never presented as speech bubbles in the comic by making the adults The Unintelligible (Waa Waa wa Wa wa wa Waa).
The little red haired girl finally appeared in the television special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown, which also revealed her name to be Heather.
Roger, Juliette's loud, boorish brother in 9 Chickweed Lane. Mentioned infrequently at best. And it had been so long since anyone had mentioned him in the comic, that when Edna mentioned him at the end of the WWII flashback, many thought Brooke McEldowney had made him up on the spot. When he eventually appears in the flesh, he's mild-mannered and soft-spoken; pretty much the opposite of his passionate, outspoken sister and niece.
In Garfield, Ellen was a woman Jon regularly phoned to get a date, and always failed. We never heard her actual answers, only his reactions to them. She eventually appeared in a storyline where she has amnesia, and therefore agreed to a date with Jon. Also, Jon's neighbor Mrs. Feeny, often the target of Garfield's pranks, was never seen in the comic.
Sabrina Thwaite (and husband Richard) in The Archers are often "just missed" on-air, pulling out of Christmas pantos at the last moment and so forth, usually explained by tutting disapproval from the regular characters.
A long-standing trope in The Archers. Mr Pullen, whose troublesome prostate has been a Running Gag for many years, is never heard. Freda the Middle White sow used to be heard sometime but not Freda Fry, cook at The Bull and long-suffering wife of Bert Fry. Most notoriously, the late Pru Forrest went unheard for years only to be lampshaded in a special anniversary episode by being voiced by Judi Dench.
Duffy, the owner of the eponymous eatery in the the 1940s radio show Duffys Tavern. Every episode opened with the manager Archie answering the phone with the words "Hello, Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager speakin'. Duffy ain't here — oh, hello, Duffy."
Colin Sell, the pianist, has sometimes been assumed by listeners to be fictional too (if you decided they were just playing prerecorded piano music, then Colin would be in a similar position of only existing to be abused in elaborate wordplay). Humphrey Lyttelton once claimed that someone had come up to him to ask whether Samantha and Colin were real and he told them that Samantha was but Colin wasn't.
Stand Up Comedy
A running joke for the surrealist comedy group Stella is for one member to refer to someone named "Marcus." Another member responds, "Who the fuck is Marcus?" The original member just shakes his head in equal bewilderment, saying, "I know, I know!"
In the beginning of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo spends his time indulging in Wangst over his former flame Rosaline. She never appears in the play, and Romeo quickly turns his sights on Juliet. Mercutio's brother Valentine is included with Mercutio in the invitation to the Capulet ball, but never appears or gets a second mention.
In The Tempest, the witch Sycorax is the island's original owner. She is referred to many times throughout the play, but has died before the play begins.
In Act I Scene III of Othello, two characters are mentioned as though significant, but never introduced or mentioned again (this has naturally baffled many scholars). The characters' names are "Signior Angelo" and "Marcus Luccios."
The unseen Mrs. Grundy, in Thomas Morton's Speed the Plough (1798), in which Dame Ashfield continually worries, "What will Mrs. Grundy say?" of each development. Since then the term "Mrs. Grundy" has passed into everyday speech as the embodiment of prudery and censorship.
Arcadia has a bunch, the most prominent of which are Lord Byron and Mrs. Chater. There are several other characters who are mentioned repeatedly but never appear; this is somewhat inevitable given that the play takes place in a single room.
The title character of the opera The Consul, who appears only as a distant, inaudible shadow. As with Godot, the protagonist waits for him in vain.
God in Jesus Christ Superstar although he is addressed, indeed harangued, by Jesus in the scene at Gethsemane.
The person(s) operating the eponymous device and sending bizarre messages in Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter. It may be Wilson, the unseen superior of protagonists Gus and Ben, but this is never made clear.
This is the main joke of Tom Jacobsen's Bunbury: A Serious Play for Trivial People. It features— you guessed it!— Wilde's Bunbury and Shakespeare's Rosaline teaming up and roaming through the Western canon meeting or becoming other Ghosts or imagined characters and changing ends as they go. Romeo and Juliet gets a happy ending; we meet Blanche DuBois's dead husband, Martha's blond-eyed blue-haired son, and a whole slew of unseen characters from ''Three Sisters''; and Bunbury himself becomes or is mistaken for Godot.
Cyrano de Bergerac: Act I Scene III: Cardenal Richelieu, the most powerful man in France arrives to the Burgundy Theater to a box with the bars in front… or at least the public (in the play) murmurs it so, because he is never shown. Anyway, the simple rumor of his presence is enough to command respect from the public, impose silence, and even makes the Pages behave. He will be mentioned again at Act IV, but never seen.
Ted, Joanne's husband in Vanities, whom she finds out has been cheating.
Father Reilly in The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge. Characters worry about how he will react to events, and relay conversations they've had with him since they last appeared onstage, but he himself is never seen.
In The Moon Is Blue, Cynthia never appears onstage. She does appear in the film version.
Lots of characters in Betrayal, since only three real characters actually appear onstage. The most important are Jerry's wife Judith, Emma's lover Casey, and all the children of the main couples.
Ellis' good buddy Keith of Left 4 Dead 2, who must look like a pile of ground hamburger given the outrageous stories he shares at inopportune times.
Oddly, characters like Keith have small, but dedicated fan-followings and Rule 34 dedicated to them, based entirely on Fanon speculations of backstory and appearance, none of which is backed up in-game.
A Ragdoll of Keith has been released for Garry’s Mod, he doesn’t appear nearly as badly beat-up as you’d think.
The Batarians in Mass Effect are referenced numerous times in text and dialog, but, are never actually seen in the game. A DLC module, Bring Down the Sky later adds them to a single mission. In Mass Effect 2 they appear as often as the other major races.
The Shadow Broker was the Ghost for some time, until the aptly named DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker.
The Shadow Broker is also a Ghost in universe, as nobody has ever seen him or talked to him in person. Turns out the one in the game is not the first one, or the last. Since nobody ever sees or hears him, everyone who can hack into his private terminal can become the new Shadow Broker, with none of the hundreds or even thousands of agents and informants being the wiser.
Many of the characters and races from the Cerberus Daily News "reports" are considered to be ghosts. The only one who ever showed up on screen was Tela Vasir, while two turians from a long-running storyline were briefly mentioned -but not seen- in the aforementioned DLC.
The Sign Painter of World Of Goo is only known to exist based on his or her messages left on various... signs.
The "Rat Man" from Portal, of whom you find only stashes, hidden cubby-holes, and scrawled graffiti that either gives you hints, slightly illuminates the plot, gives you an insight into their increasing insanity, or all of the above.
Until the Lab Rat digital comic, that is, which completely centers around him and gives more insight into his backstory. His name is Doug Rattmann, and his schizophrenia actually helped him escape GLaDOS - he always suspected she'd try to kill them, so when she did, he was prepared. His scrawlings serve as art therapy, and his only companion seems to be the spirit of his "dead" Weighted Companion Cube.
Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land features 'The Great Warrior Otto' who leaves many rather helpful messages throughout the dungeon in poor handwriting, but you never actually meet him.
The Quest for Glory games had the Night Gaunts, who were never seen but supposedly might kill you. Oh, they will kill you, but you still won't see them. Don't sleep in the forest!
King Minos is the villain of The Labyrinth Of Time, but the most you actually hear about him comes from a computer message left by a future librarian.
In the Nancy Drew game series, a minor character named Sonny Joon is used as The Unseen in a Running Gag, as Nancy keeps finding out he'd just been working, living, or visiting whichever place she's solving a mystery today. Sonny has never been seen or even heard on the telephone, but his habit of leaving notes and doodles everywhere means that a fair bit is known about him.
Vercci from the Soul Series — he's involved in both the stories of Voldo and Cervantes and by accounts is pretty important in the story. He may have been intended to be a guest character in Soul Blade, but he never made it.
Touhou has several of these, such as Youmu's former instructor Youki, Byakuren's Dead Little Brother Myouren, Marisa's unnamed father, and the Dragon (not to be confused with The Dragon), the single most powerful being in Gensoukyou.
Woodruff and The Schnibble of Azimuth has the eponymous Schnibble, the savior of the city, who everybody the player meets says is just around the corner. Near the end, it's revealed that the Schnibble was a fictional person invented by Professor Azimuth to give the people hope, and inspire people to action, helping the less fortunate. Since the player has done exactly that, he has effectively become the Schnibble.
The apprentice of Ansem the Wise, Xehanort, is responsible for the creation of The Heartless and almost everything bad that happens to the protagonists across the franchise, but only appears in the flesh in a few brief cutscenes and a single portrait. Instead, his heartless, nobody and original self play the role of Big Bad in the games themselves.
In the original Kingdom Hearts, the heroes are searching for Ansem(retconned into Xehanort calling himself Ansem), who created the heartless. He remains The Ghost until the end of the game when he is revealed to have become a heartless himself, and has been the Man Behind the Man to Maleficent all along.
This also applies for certain Disney characters. Zeus, The Sultan, and many others are mentioned, but never appear in the game. Subverted in that we've already seen them in their source material
In Dark Souls, the Furtive Pygmy and Gwyn's Four Great Knights besides Ornstein.
Tachibana Muneshige from Sengoku Basara has a frightening and bad-tempered wife (for some reason he loves her dearly) who is constantly mentioned during his Inner Monologue and his letters, but never anywhere else. The reason she's absent is because she grew tired of their lord's religious fanaticism and took off. Historically her name was Ginchiyo, but Muneshige always calls her "my wife".
Ulysses acts as this in Fallout New Vegas. When you first hear about him, you never even learn his name, he just sounds like some guy that used to know the Courier somehow. Throughout the game and the various DLC's we slowly hear more and more about him but never see or hear him while everything is built up about how the final battle between him and the Courier will essentially change the fates of everyone. He's finally revealed in the Lonesome Road DLC which is all about the final confrontation between him and the Courier.
Neo is mentioned numerous times in Enter The Matrix, but only appears once, in a film clip of him saving Morpheus and the Keymaker. Interestingly, he is seemingly aware of your existence, as Trinity passes a message from him to you in the hacking minigame.
Ultimately averted twice in excellent fashion in Cave Story. After Grasstown/Bushlands, Jack, if you talk to him, will tell you about how Arthur drove away a red demon. Later, after defeating the Core, you're told about Jenka, a woman met earlier in the Sand Zone, having a younger brother named Ballos. If you don't get the Booster 2.0, both of these people will never be seen. If you at least get the Booster 2.0, you'll be able to finish what Arthur started and fight the Red Demon/Ogre. If you go for the True Ending, which requires a second item in addition to the spoiler-covered item, then you learn more of Ballos's backstory. The second through fifth parts of the True Final Boss battle is against Ballos, the man who created the Demon Crown.
In the Mega Man X series through the series, the human race as a whole becomes this. Besides Doctors Light*
Who becomes the ghost in X4
the ghost for most of the X series, outside of Zero's dreams
, Weil and the scientist Ciel, no humans have any appearance. They are repeatedly mentioned as whole throughout both series, but none make an appearance unless they are the aforementioned main characters.
Hilbert or Hilda, the main protagonists of Pokemon Black And White, become this in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. They are mentioned by numerous NPCs across the game, and are even talked about by their names if Memory Link is activated. There's even a random Trainer in Victory Road who fought against them in the first games that ponder on where they are now.
In Fable 2 there is Nicky "the Nickname" Chalmers, who appears to be a crimelord in Bowerstone oldtown, occasionally mentioned by Afur, but never seen ingame.
In the Suikoden games, there is an ancient hero named Hikusaak who is supposed to be ageless. Although he/she has been mentioned in most of the games, they have never been seen. It is unknown if Hikusaak is still alive during any of the games, no one even knows Hikusaak's gender.
Another notable character is Schtolteheim Reinbach III, who was mentioned in the early games but finally appears in Suikoden IV.
Pajama Sam mentions his big brother Mark sometimes, but with the exception of his mom (who is The Faceless), we never see any members of his family.
Kako in A Profile never makes it onscreen, though she does have a line or two. Maybe. She sounds exactly the same as her sister, you see. Apparently, by the end, even Masayuki has never met her.
There are multiple cases in Shikkoku No Sharnoth. The most obvious being that Watson, Mycroft Holmes, Queen Victoria and Moriarty. Except that in the end it's revealed that Moriarty was the old professor that everyone has been meeting and who may or may not be the Big Bad, depending on how you look at it.
Abe Kroenen has this happen a lot, often with female characters like Ilsa or Liz (until recently). This is not so much because of gender bias in the comic as it is the fact that it's a Toy Comic and the Hellboy merchandising brigade is less than helpful.
Edward James Olmos in the LoadingReadyRun videos, who is mentioned all the time but is never seen. Possibly because it's a small production in Victoria, BC, and he's Edward James Olmos.
OpAphid, Tachyon and Brother in lonelygirl15 are implied to be present in several scenes, but never shown. OpAphid and Tachyon do appear onscreen in their own series, however. Additionally, a character named Cassie is mentioned in several episodes, but never appears. She did spawn a series of Epileptic Trees theories, however.
The Spoony Experiment: Dr. Insano's nurse is often referred to (and even threatened to be killed) but is never actually seen or heard from by the audience.
Dr. Kyle from Darwin's Soldiers has been mentioned in every RP but has never been seen.
In Homestar Runner, Strong Badman is created when Strong Bad gets an e-mail from one "Stiny". Within the email, and in several future Strong Badman appearances, Strong Bad imagines Stiny being Strong Badman's sidekick, who he constantly shouts orders or insults toward, but he never appears.
In the DownfallParodies on YouTube, there are a few characters who serve this role (mainly ones who were mentioned in Downfall but never seen). The most frequently mentioned character is Steiner, who is often responsible for providing Hitler's generals with bad news (resulting in a lengthy rant from Hitler) and is often involved with his latest plan in some manner. Also Wenck to a lesser extent, although his name is frequently mistranslated as "fine".
Fegelin serves as this to a lesser degree. There are some videos where he appears, but most just use him as an unseen nemesis for Hitler.
Stan, the camera man from Crash Course. John assures us that he really does exist.
All characters in Pittsburgh Dad, save for the title character, are neither seen nor heard, but only reacted to.
One College Humor video is about "five monsters who will be your roommate." (They're not literal monsters, but people who act rather oddly like movie monsters; the neat freak is compared to The Terminator, the slob who steals your homework is a zombie). One of these is "The Ghost," the roommate you never see, but who has to be there because there's evidence of someone else living in the apartment. "He may be trying to communicate with you, but you'll never know for sure."
The Trap Door has 'Im Upstairs who is the patron saint of this trope. Spoken about often, shouts from upstairs... Until he appears in one episode as an Eldritch Abomination.
The Users only appear as the Player Characters in games — though the User's (slow) keystrokes are heard during the system restore.
Mouse was a Ghost for a few episodes after first being mentioned.
Al of Al's Diner appears on-screen all of once, in "The Great Brain Robbery" — completely tied up in rope except for his feet. All the viewer can deduce from this is that he's a "one" binome. The rest of the time Al is The Voice.
Doug: Principal Buttsavage, Doug never met the principal in the original series, and spent most of the series finale trying to find out what he looked like. (The Disney version had ex-Mayor White serve as principal, and he appeared on camera frequently.)
Skunky Beaumont. Often spoken about, never seen, he eventually had one line in one episode. Doug walks by the guidance office and says hi to him, and he replies "Hey Doug".
In the Disney series, he made his first on-screen appearance in an early episode and remained a recurring character throughout.
Randy Beaman on Animaniacs, who is always being talked about by his friend (listed in the credits as Randy Beaman's Friend) as the "Friend of a Friend" in some bizarre urban legend (one example being the infamous Pop Rocks/Soda one). May also be an example of Second Hand Storytelling.
Darkwing Duck had Dr. Slug, who is reputed as being Darkwing's archenemy as well as the #1 most wanted criminal in St. Canard. Despite this, we never actually see him (with one exception, see below,) or know anything about him; the only times he is mentioned is when other villains bring him up, usually to admire his (always unspecified) villainous deeds, sadly wish they could be more like him, or (in Negaduck's case) grouse about being bumped down to #2 criminal. Eventually this was lampshaded by having Dr. Slug actually show up at the start of an episode, only to have Darkwing pause the action two seconds in, and then inform the viewer that they weren't going to show that story and proceed to tell an entirely unrelated one.
In "Operation: MESSAGE" we actually do see Muffy at the end of the episode, receiving a message Numbuh 2 spent the whole episode trying to deliver to her at lunch. The note mentions the Splinter Cell, the main focus of season six...which Muffy had nothing to do with.
Mateo, the bus driver, from Ellens Acres. Ellen waves goodbye to him at the start of every episode, but we never actually see him.
Beavis And Butthead's moms, they are implied to live with them and they sometimes talk about them or call out to them but they are never seen.
Lampshaded with boarder Mr. Smith on Hey Arnold. An entire episode was dedicated to Arnold and Gerald trying to track him down to deliver a package (apparently they had never seen him either). Of course, they were unsuccessful in their attempts.
Sandy Plankton in Finding Nemo is considered among his classmates to be the purveyor of great knowledge. His fun facts are almost right. He and the information he shares are only mentioned; he is never shown.