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Playing With: The Ghost
Basic Trope: A character is often mentioned or referred to, but never appears.
  • Straight: Alice and Bob mention their childhood friend Charlie at almost every episode, but he is never seen onscreen.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Alice and Bob mention Charlie all the time, mostly about a certain Noodle Incident, his outrageous personality and antics, and some Noodle Implements thrown in. Yet Charlie never shows up at all.
    • The main characters frequently mention several unseen friends of theirs.
    • Unknown Character
  • Downplayed:
    • Alice and Bob just casually mention Charlie several times.
    • Charlie is never seen, but his voice is heard.
  • Justified:
    • Charlie just never gets the chance to stop by; he could be holding multiple jobs, or busy with his other (also unseen) friends.
    • Charlie is an anonymous witness.
    • Charlie is on the run.
    • If Charlie is only mentioned in the past tense, then he is possibly deceased.
    • If the characters are children (or act like children), Charlie could be an Imaginary Friend.
  • Inverted: Charlie is seen at almost every episode, but Alice and Bob never mentions anything about him. They had never even mentioned his name; it was said by a waiter at a cafe.
  • Subverted:
    • Charlie finally appears at one occasion, and may or may not get a line.
    • Charlie is never seen, but his voice is eventually heard over the telephone.
  • Double Subverted: Only for Alice and Bob to say that the person they saw/heard was Charlie's brother. The real Charlie had important things to do.
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged: After three seasons of characters talking about Charlie, it is revealed that he is deceased. However, he is eventually seen as a ghost.
  • Averted: All characters ever mentioned appear at least once.
  • Enforced:
    • Charlie is a character device that could cause network troubles if directly confronted (he's a prostitute, gay, drug addict, etc.) so early allusions to the character never amount to anything.
    • "You know how your loved ones talk about people you've never seen? Let's have our characters do that for the sake of realism."
  • Lampshaded: "We never get to see Charlie much, now do we?"
  • Invoked: Charlie tries to visit Alice and Bob, but "Dylan the Villain" (actually an Anti-Hero) chases him off. All offscreen.
  • Exploited: Dylan wants Alice's friend Elaine to do an unspecified dirty deed. Knowing that Elaine has never met Charlie, Dylan bribes her with a photo of him. (The audience never gets to see the photo.)
  • Defied: Someone finally manages to force Charlie onto the screen.
  • Discussed: "Charlie's so mysterious, isn't he? I mean, we hardly ever see him!"
  • Conversed: "Who is Charlie, anyway? I'm dying to know what he looks like!"
  • Implied: The characters always refer to Charlie using pronouns (as in "I think he was the best friend I ever had,") in situations where no character who is shown would fit.
  • Plotted A Good Waste: The original plan was to have Charlie appear eventually, but the executives decide to make him an off-screen character.
  • Played For Laughs: Any attempt to show Charlie onscreen by the characters will end up ill-fated: He never accepts invitations to anyone's house (maybe he's been called into work), any photos of him will be very blurry, and if he is supposed to appear on television, the set will break down (or the power will go out) just before he appears.
  • Deconstructed/Reconstructed: Not applicable. (This trope is completely realistic when Played Straight, as the characters would not necessarily notice the fact that the audience never gets to see a certain character.)

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