"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.
A character who is often referred to, but never quite makes it onto the screen. Sometimes just casually mentioned, but eventually played for comic effect as the camera (or lead character) just fails to catch them.
Sometimes the character is never seen because the viewer is, in essence, this character (and thus share viewpoints). In this case the viewers are probably being used as The Watson
If a disembodied voice — "Yes Ma, I'm coming!" — they're The Voice
Not the Great Gazoo
, but occurs in similar range of plot devices. See also He Who Must Not Be Seen
and Nothing Is Scarier
(for when a character remains unseen for the Rule of Scary
). For a concept, item, or location, rather than a person, see Cryptic Background Reference
. Often overlaps with No One Sees the Boss
For a character who is frequently mentioned but never seen because they died before the story began, see Posthumous Character
and Death by Origin Story
. For a character whose existence can only be inferred see Unknown Character
For actual ghosts and spirits, see Our Ghosts Are Different
. Not to be confused with the radio character known as the Ghost
, the industrial saboteur of the same name from Iron Man
comics, or the film/Broadway musical Ghost
Sometimes related to Bigger Bad
when dealing with villains.
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- 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 someone named Vern who was (presumably) behind the camera and 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
- The Shinigami King on Death Note. At least until the one shot sequel was released.
- Naota's older brother Tasuku, 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.
- Medical Mechanica remains a near-complete mystery throughout the series. We never see anything of them other than the giant clothing iron in the center of the city, and the occasional killer robot that pops out of Naota's head.
- Kyo Kara Maoh: Shinou ('The Great One') up to the end of Season 2.
- Maison Ikkoku has several ghosts:
- Mr. Ichinose started out like this, 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.
- Kyoko's deceased husband, Soichiro. 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.
- Toji's sister in Neon Genesis Evangelion started out as this. She finally appeared◊ in Rebuild 2.0.
- 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.
- Maka's mother from Soul Eater.
- 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.
- Leina's parents, Owen and The Head Archangel are only mentioned in all the adaptations of the franchise, except in the animated ones when they physically appear for first time, albeit Leina's mother previously appeared in a non-canonical light novel side-story.
- A Certain Magical Index has the #6 Level 5 Esper. So far, this person is mentioned to be very anti-social and refuses to go out in public. This person's name, gender, and power has not been revealed.
- Mahiro's father in Haiyore! Nyarko-san; when his mother Yoriko first shows up, she implies that Dad'll be stuck at the office for a while making up the time they took off for their most recent honeymoon. As of the 11th novel, he still hasn't made a physical appearance (except in the second anime season where Yoriko flashes back to their courtship, where his face is obscured).
- Pokémon - In the first episode, Ash winds up with Pikachu because three other trainers beat him to Professor Oak's lab. One was Gary, the other two are never seen or even given names. However, through the start of season one trainers and gym leaders Ash meets tell him he doesn't measure up to the three trainers from Pallet Town ahead of him. Oak eventually tells Ash and Gary that the other two weren't successful in getting the required badges.
- Fittingly for the adaptation version of a faceless Player Character, the Admiral in Kantai Collection is never shown on-screen. The most the audience gets to see of him is his shadow, and his voice is never heard. Secretary Ship Nagato tends to be the one relaying his orders to the girls.
- Lawrence and Mobile of Scott Pilgrim, until they both appear near the end of volume five.
- Knights of the Dinner Table has several:
- Bob's sister (who is the mother of Croix and Hunter)
- B.A.'s mother (although she does become The Voice occasionally)
- Crutch's 'old lady', Casey Mae
- Crowbar, Switch's partner-in-crime was this for years until he finally appeared on-panel in Hawg Waller's.
- Brian's uncle (and former guardian)
- Dave's father and brother.
- Little Ego's therapist.
- 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 Cartoon History Of The Universe portrays Mohammed this way, out of respect for mainstream Islam's prohibition on visual representations of historic Muslim figures.
- Traditionally, this is true for the original members of the Yancy Street Gang, the ones that Ben Grimm knew when he was a member; they are never fully seen in the comics, only heard from the shadows, from the windows of buildings, or shown with hardhats or other headwear covering their faces. However, the younger "new generation" of the Gang was seen in full.
- 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. He finally 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.
- As of Batman 36 Joker has made his official return with a new, albeit tight to the point of looking Uncanny Valley, layer of skin on his fave
- Gaston Lagaffe's aunt Hortense.
- Boneville from Bone is a whole ghost town. Despite all the references the Bone cousins make to it, creator Jeff Smith has never actually depicted it, saying because Boneville isn't the focus of the story. Whatever Boneville looks like is up to the reader's imagination.
- Kind of averted in the Spin-off novels "Quest for the Spark" which was written by Tom Sniegoski (Jeff Smith still illustrated it) starts off at the Boneville adventurer's guild. Yet true to the original story, it still doesn't describe anything of what Boneville actually looks like.
- The Director General in Union Jack is never seen, even though she's being scapegoated for British government's lackluster response to the R.A.I.D. attack.
- Rafiki in The Lion King Adventures. He is mentioned a few times in the series, but was never seen. He presented Simba at his birth, and also confirmed that he had the Kulaani illness in Sick Simba. Word of God claims he died after Series Three.
- 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.
- Enforced in The Universiad with regards to the Moderators. Due to Gideon (the author)'s insistence that only the appropriate users can "play" the characters representing themselves, and none of the actual mods deigning to join in, they will remain offscreen for the foreseeable future.
- The character Hope from Justice Society of Japan is a huge fan of Wild Tiger, but said character never appears on-screen (not counting a dream sequence).
- Bad Future Crusaders has Queen Twilight Sparkle. It was her Face-Heel Turn and transformation into a despotic tyrant that instigated the plot, but as of this writing, she's yet to appear personally.
- Weiss Reacts has Weiss' grandfather. He set in motion most of the tragedies that befall the characters in the backstory but isn't actually seen during the present as of this writing.
- Star Wars: A New Hope had two Ghosts: the Emperor and Jabba the Hutt. Jabba was originally supposed to appear in the film, but his scene was cut, and his character was reimagined as a giant, slug-like 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. Though Emperor Palpatine briefly appeared in the following film, it wasn't until Return of the Jedi that Jabba finally appeared onscreen.
- 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 three 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.
- Dagmar Geech in Art House.
- General Kemidov and Floyd Thursby in The Maltese Falcon.
- The title character of Oscar appears only for a moment in the very last scene.
- The title character in Edward, My Son is never seen or even pictured.
- Lord and Lady Ferncliffe in the George Cukor classic Dinner at Eight.
- 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 Spider-Man and everything else going on than he lets on...
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off has a few Ghosts, the most prominent one being Morris Frye, Cameron's father. All we know of him is related or implied by Cameron or Ferris, and none of it is pretty. Some film scholars have argued that he, not Rooney or Ferris, is the true villain of the film despite never physically appearing.
- Despite having the film named after him, Mohammad never appears in Mohammad Messenger Of God, for very obvious reasons. While the film does show his point of view a few times, the closest the viewer ever gets to seeing him is getting glimpses of his sword, staff, and camel, respectively.
- Yield to the Night, a British crime drama, was about Mary Hilton (played by Diana Dors), a woman sentenced to die for murdering her boyfriend's other lover. The victim shows up in the opening scene, when the murder is shown, and a few other times in flashback, but her face is never completely visible to the camera. (The movie was loosely based on the case of Ruth Ellis, and in an odd coincidence Ellis had actually been in another Diana Dors movie, Lady Godiva Rides Again, as a beauty pageant contestant.)
- We never see (or even hear) Dwight Eisenhower in Into The Storm, despite him having some bearing in the plot. The same also goes for Adolf Hitler and Mussolini, neither of which ever appears in the movie, but bear heavily in the plot.
- In Imperium Augustus, Augustus' wife Scribonia was never shown onscreen. His marriage and divorce with her was only briefly mentioned in the aging Augustus' narration. This is despite the fact that one of the movie's main plot point was Augustus' attempt to rise to power by marrying her for money and later leaving her for Livia.
- In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide To The Internet, Lisa and Andrew's mother dropped them off and is heard honking to pick them up, but doesn't come in and talk to the Mom and Dad.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events has a wide backstory and several characters are only ever referred to. The most notable example is probably R., the Duchess of Winnipeg.
- 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.
- Older Than Steam example besides William Shakespeare: In the novel Don Quixote, Dulcinea — or, to be more precise, the peasant woman whom Quixote apparently renames "Dulcinea" - never appears.
- 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 it's 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.
- Harry Potter
- Eloise Midgen. 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 of her dancing with Moody at the Yule Ball.
- 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 is this until Book 7.
- Going to be averted with Newt Scamander, the writer of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As he's getting his own spin-off movie, written by Rowling herself.
- The Hitchhikers 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 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 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, the 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.
- Gravid Rust is mentioned several times, and has a major role in Snuff, but is never seen.
- 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.
- Sauron of The Lord of the Rings. Not so much in The Film of the Book.
- The "GA" (Great Aunt) of Nancy and Peggy in Swallows and Amazons. She does make a brief appearance at the end of The Picts and the Martyrs, though.
- The Raven King in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Although he has a cameo near the end of the book.
- The Maltese Falcon: Floyd Thursby and General Kemidov, the real Magnificent Bastard of the story.
- Professor Angus MacGuffin in Jasper Fforde's The Fourth Bear. He almost appears near the end, but has vanished when someone turns to introduce him - because, of course, he's just a plot device and doesn't have to actually exist.
- The Emperor Over The Sea in The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Show Within a Show example: In The Phoenix Guards, Paarfi compares one of his own characters to the Marquis of Havenwood, The Ghost from the in-universe play The Return of Duke Highwater.
- 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).
- Mistborn: The Original Trilogy:
- Lord Hasting, a powerful noble, is never met by the main characters. He was originally going to have a one-shot appearance when Kelsier was posing as an informant, but his role was given to the much more important Straff Venture.
- Crews Geffenry a Mistborn and and knife fighter, who Kelsier frames for an assassination. He never actually appears in the story, unless he was the Mistborn aiding Lady Shan Elariel when she tried to assassinate Lord Elend Venture near the end of Mistborn: The Final Empire.
- In Redwall Series: there are many characters mentioned from long ago that never appeared. "King Mortspear" "The First Reguba" "Almost all the Badger Lords/Ladies before Stonepaw" whom if Brian Jacques hadn't passed away, they may have likely got a chance for a story. But then again, he seemed to have made it clear he was finished with prequels.
- In Pinkie Pie and the Rockin' Ponypalooza Party, Pinkie's third sister, Maud Pie, is only mentioned (and not by name). She's running the rock farm while her relatives are visiting Ponyville.
- Prismia is only mentioned in a flashback and does not make any sort of present day appearance in Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell.
Live Action TV
- All adults, 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 was seen in full in both It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown (which also claimed her name was Heather). However, despite the fact that Charles Schulz wrote the scripts for both specials, he claimed both were non-canonical.
- There's also the Head Beagle, the dog who rules over all dogs in the world and has the respect of humans. Other than Snoopy's brief reign, no dog who ever held the title has ever been seen.
- Also, the "Girl in the Red Truck", who Snoopy's desert-dwelling brother Spike had a crush on. She was eventually fleshed out for a special It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown that combined animation and live action, where she was named Jenny and portrayed by Charles Schulz's daughter Jill. (Again, the special, which wasn't as well-received as most Peanuts specials, is considered non-canonical.)
- Though the not showing adults in any form, is averted in the fourth movie, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) in which it shows a female voice speaking through the airport intercom, Charlie Brown's grandfather in a war photo (Looks exactly like Charlie Brown except taller), and a girl's uncle (The main antagonist) who is fully voiced (But granted you only see him as a silhouette), among others.
- Roger, Juliette's loud, boorish brother in Nine 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.
- Many of Jon's dates count. Such as Ruby the violent convict who had YBUR tattooed on her forehead. But many we do see as well, such as Bertha (A large woman who loved to eat) and Kimmy (A woman raised by wolves)
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's grandmother and grandfather are mentioned on several occasions, but are never seen.
- 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 Duffy's 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."
- Samantha, the scorekeeper for the panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Since The Points Mean Nothing, the game doesn't need a scorekeeper; she only exists as the focus of elaborate double entendres.
- 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!"
- Waiting for Godot; It's not a spoiler to say that he never shows up.
- For The Glass Menagerie, Tom and Laura's father is frequently mentioned, but never seen. His absence, in fact, leaves a greater impact on all their lives than his presence likely would have.
- Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare does these all the time.
- 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."
- Princess Elizabeth of York in Richard III.
- None of the husbands ever appear in Clare Boothe's play The Women or its black and white film adaptation (which had the Tag Line "It's all about the men!").
- Lisa in Wait Until Dark.
- George Washington in 1776.
- Matthew Shepard in The Laramie Project, as the play is all about the aftermath of his murder.
- Mr. Stroheim in Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs.
- Babe's husband Zachary in Crimes of the Heart.
- Mary and the late Old Man Meeks from The Foreigner both qualify.
- 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, David's Southern Belle daughter and Don's ex-girlfriend, never appears onstage, nor is her voice heard when she phones him; she does appear in the film version. Vicki, Patty's slightly older roommate, appears in neither play nor film.
- 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.
- In Bell Book and Candle, Mrs. de Pass and Merle Kittredge are characters who figure in the plot but only appear in the film version.
- Pokémon Live! has Ash's father and Professor Xalrons; both are mentioned but never seen.
- French play L'Arlésienne by Alphonse Daudet (adapted from one short story Letters From My Windmill). Young man named Frederic falls in love in the titular girl from Arles who never appears nor do we learn her name. He finds out that she has been unfaithful and decides to renonce the wedding. To please his parents, he tries to act happy and marries another girl but after a while unable to forget his first love, he kills himself by jumping off a balcony. In french "Arlésienne" is also the Trope Namer.
- The plot of Miss Julie revolves around the titular character's father, who is never seen but whose boots and gloves are on stage throughout the play.
- In the Zork games, whenever the lights go out you are warned that you might be eaten by a grue, and if you stay in the dark for too many turns you WILL be eaten by a grue, which is described, but never seen.
- In Zork Zero, it's slightly averted as you have to play a card game against the Jester, one of the cards is a the "Grue" card, and shows nothing but ominous glowing eyes.
- In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, you actually hear it. At the start of the game, if you go down the well without the Lantern, you do not get a warning of the Grue. But wait long enough, you hear a slobbering, chewing, gnawing and then belch. The death text playfully criticizes you for not expecting it. "Going into a dark area in a Zork game? What were you thinking?!"
- 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 1 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. He's 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. In the final level, the Sign Painter is supposedly there at the telescope, but nothing can be seen of him but his eye.
- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army has Takeshi Daidouji, the ill and bedridden father of the game's Damsel in Distress. He is only mentioned by his brother and butler, and never seen.
- 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 his 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 is the "spirit" (really a hallucinated voice) 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:
- 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!
- Though we do get an image of them on the death screen. They seem to resemble RingWraiths
- The sorceress Erana is a more prominent example. She didn't appear at all for the first three games, but the player could find various sanctuaries created and protected by her magic. In the fourth game, when she finally makes a direct appearance, the player finds out that she's been dead for a long time, but is able to communicate with her spirit and help her find peace in death, and in the fifth game the player has the option to resurrect and marry her depending on their class.
- 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.
- According to the backstory of Castlevania: Judgment, the entity responsible for sending the Time Reaper back in time to change history is Galamoth, better known as the main villain of Kid Dracula and That One Boss in Symphony of the Night. He never appears in the game, and aside from one of the Time Reaper's death screams, his identity is never revealed.
- Phoenix Wright is this in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, or almost - He can be seen rowing just off the bridge in the third case, along with Maya and Pearl.
- 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.
- Kingdom Hearts plays with this trope in regard to its Big Bad, Xehanort:
- 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
- Dark Souls:
- In the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, you travel back in time and can personally meet the other three knights (and even kill them). Nothing of the Furtive Pygmy, though. Although it's implied that he became Manus, Father of the Abyss and Big Bad of the DLC.
- On a similar note, several of the mentioned gods, kings, and warriors, such as Velka and Allfather Lloyd and technically Gwynevere, as the one you see in Anor Londo is an illusion by her brother.
- 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 Lightnote , Cainnote , Wilynote , 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.
- Mental, the Evil Overlord and Big Bad of the Serious Sam games, has never been seen or in over ten years of existance of the franchise. Technically, he has been heard, but at best he'll only get at least one or two incomprehensible lines at the end of the game.
- New Super Luigi U does this with Mario, as he is replaced in multiplayer by Nabbit, and his cap rests where he normally would be in the opening cutscene. Also, the M blocks that appear after beating the game that restore normal physics to Luigi.
- An unseen sharpshooter helps out the Duck Hunt team in Super Smash Bros.. His hand, armed with the NES Zapper, is the only thing seen of him in the trailer. But during the actual game, he never makes an appearance.
- 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.
- In Saya no Uta, Doctor Masahiko Ogai, Saya's "father", never appears in the story because he's Dead All Along.
- 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.
- Asumu Ushiromiya, Battler's not quite mother, is often talked about but she is never shown, not even in flashbacks.
- 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.
- All of the characters from Dinosaur Comics that aren't the main characters, bar maybe the flea that lives on the end of T-Rex's nose, but he's so small you can't see him.
- 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.
- Tobuscus: Toby Turner's possibly fictional partner Steven.
- 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 Downfall Parodies 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. There's one video where he finally arrives in Hitler's office and Hitler at last gets the chance to talk to him. Too bad Hitler forgot what he wanted to talk to Fegelin about.
- Stan, the camera man from Crash Course. John assures us that he really does exist.
- On VlogBrothers, Sarah Urist Green, John's wife, was often referred to but has yet to appear in person. In an early video, John Green referred to her as "the Yeti", because she was an important part of vlogbrothers "folklore" but was never seen, and the name stuck.
- 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."
- Ultra Fast Pony is an Abridged Series, so it's forced to keep important characters off-screen when it deviates too far from the original episodes' plots. So, in "Mob Wars", a Canon Foreigner named Snuggle Berry wins an award for being an upstanding, much-loved member of the community, then dies in a rabbit stampede, all without appearing on screen once. And Princess Luna, in spite of having a lot of screen time in the first two episodes, is shoved off-screen for the rest of season one. There are several references to Luna being the royal court's Butt Monkey, and a several-episode-spanning subplot in which she gets kidnapped—all without her putting in a single appearance.
- Cazo! was this for The Sharkasm Crew before finally showing up at Paranormal Activity X.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Fire Lord Sozin, the Fire Lord who started the war was initially this He made a surprise appearance in season three however in a backstory episode
- Aang's old friend Kuzon is another example.
- 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.
- Several examples in Reboot:
- 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 - a voice that only ever says "WHAT?!"
- The parents, Eddy's brother, and Rolf's Nana on Ed, Edd n Eddy. In fact, everyone outside of the core characters. Eddy's brother finally showed up in The Movie.
- 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 (originally listed in the credits as Colin, later 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) 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.
- Colonel K's secretary, Miss Boathook, in Danger Mouse.
- Von Goosewing's assistant, Heinrich, in Count Duckula. It is entirely possible that Heinrich has, in fact, quit and that Von Goosewing has just failed to notice his absence.
- The oft-randomly-mentioned Muffy Jenkins of Codename: Kids Next Door. 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.
- Moltar's beloved wife Linda on Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
- Gazpacho's mother in Chowder. In one episode, it is revealed that Gazpacho is his own mother. But that wasn't real. OR WAS IT?
- Trudy Beekman, Mallory Archer's nemesis on Archer. "MEH MEH MEH, I'm Trudy Beekman. I'm on the co-op board and I'm going on a blimp! MEHHH!"
- 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. In a book, "This Book Sucks", they shown pictures of them in a Family Tree page. Beavis's mom looks like a female version of Butthead and visa-versa.
- 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. With a name like Plankton, it might require a microscope.
- Spinelli's older brothers, Joey and Vito, from Recess. T.J.'s older sister, Becky, started out as one of these, but then made her physical appearance in Recess: School's Out
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gives us Starswirl the Bearded, a powerful unicorn wizard who lived at least one thousand years ago.note He's been referenced in no less than five episodes, but never actually seen, even in a flashback. All we know of what he may have looked like comes from Twilight's costume for Nightmare Night and an artistic travelling exhibition poster. (He does appear on-screen (so to speak) during flashbacks in one arc of the comic series, however)
- Leela from Futurama periodically mentions relationship troubles she has with one of her unseen boyfriends (later ex-boyfriend) Sean. He eventually makes a full appearance in season 7, though.
- On Franklin, Great Aunt Harriet is this. She's very important as she's known for giving great presents and serves as the inspiration for the name of the title character's little sister. Additionally, in the Franklin and Friends special "Polar Explorer," she provides a navigation bar that leads Franklin and his parents on an adventure to the North and South Poles. Despite all of this, she is never seen, even in pictures.
- In League of Super Evil we have Voltar's Arch-Nemesis "Steve" a mild mannered yet seemingly crabby/annoyed neighbour. Whose catchphrase is "I DON'T CARE" when Voltar brags about his plans to humiliate him. We do see him in one episode, but we only see him with bucket fell his head as he walked around dazed.
- The General on Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines was always heard in inaudible gibberish (his name in a comic book story was in fact General Gibberish) but was never seen on the show.