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Absentee Club Member

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Urushi: So that's why [Takeru]'s a ghost member. Since he's on the Kendo team.
Ayumu: No, he's not in any team or club.
Urushi: Then is he busy as a class representative or something?
Ayumu: He's on the library committee, but I think that's only two days a week. Not exactly busy.
Urushi: Then why is he a ghost member?
Ayumu: He has his reasons.
Ayumu Tanaka and Urushi Yaotome, When Will Ayumu Make His Move?

In any given social club, group, organization, and other related functions, attendance is an important aspect of maintaining its well-being. Attending meetings indicates that there is legitimate interest in whatever the organization is focused on and that its members are committed to it. Some members are full-fledged, such as leadership, and other members pick and choose when they can attend meetings.

And then there's that one guy who is either rarely present or doesn't attend at all, but they're still a member of the group.

These types of people are considered "ghost members". Contrary to how the name sounds, they are not literal ghosts. This refers to members of a group that are almost completely absent from group-related functions. Their absence can be chalked up to a variety of reasons. They may be burdened with busy schedules and time constraints, maybe they have other commitments, or they have some personal things going on. Or they don't really care about going and/or their status as a member is for more self-fulfilling reasons (i.e for the perks, to hang with friends, etc). Whatever the reason, this results in their attendance being kept at a minimum at best or just downright absent completely.

Compare Culturally Religious for characters who don't attend church service but still identify as a member of a religion. For school clubs specifically that take themselves and club conduct seriously, see School Clubs Are Serious Business. For people that are only alluded to but are never seen, see The Ghost. For certain people in a Limited Social Circle who never seem to hang out, see The Friends Who Never Hang.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bamboo Blade: Toyama and Iwasa are ghost members of the Muroe Kendo Club. They only make a few on-screen appearances and are otherwise completely absent for most of the series. Given that Toyama in particular had bullied most of the previous club members until they quit, nobody really misses them.
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure: Though she was already a member (and then became the leader) of the science club, Honoka Yukishiro was also technically a member of several other clubs. However, her presence at these clubs and at meetings was a rarity due to time constraints.
  • Genshiken: Ironically, the First Club President of The Society for the Study of the Modern Visual Culture almost never attends the club, let alone rarely even appear in general. That said, he possesses an omniscient presence, implied to be due to hidden cameras all over the school.
  • Hajime from The Kindaichi Case Files is a member of the Mystery Club, but he's almost never present in the club meetings because he's just that much of an Apathetic Student. One case arc starts with Miyuki, his "friend since childhood" and a fellow club member herself, browbeating him into joining the meeting, just to make sure he won't skip out on it this time.
  • Kyō Kara Ore Wa!!: Parodied. Mitsuhashi is a member of the Gardening Club. Despite the President's pleas to keep him around due to bullying the club receives from members of a Sports Club, Mitsuhashi never actually shows up. However, the one time he does show up (albeit tricked into doing so), he takes over the Gardening Club and beats the Sports Club into submission.
  • Oishinbo: Discussed when Shiro meets his old college senior to purchase some flour. The senior recalls that they're both a part of an Outdoor Club, and they hit off pretty well during the welcome meeting. However, Shiro is too lazy to actually partake in the club activities, which are almost as physically demanding as an athletics club, and would only show up during events to get free food and drinks.
  • One-Punch Man: Justified. Blast is the highest ranked Hero of the Hero Association and is occasionally mentioned by the staff or the other heroes. However, he is always absent and never participates in meetings or group operations, leaving the rest of the S-Class to deal with the threats that appear regularly. This is because he's currently occupied trying to stop "God", as opposed to deliberately blowing them off.
  • When Will Ayumu Make His Move?: Takeru Kakuryu is this for the unofficial Shōgi club. Though he is a legitimate member on paper, he almost never attends club meetings in favor of spending time with Sakurako. This still works out for them as his addition brings the club one member closer toward being deemed an official club.

  • In the Agatha Christie book The Big Four, the titular Big Bad Ensemble is a Cosmopolitan Council consisting of American multibillionaire Abe Ryland (Number Two), French Evil Genius Madame Olivier (Number Three), and English Master of Disguise Claude Darrell (Number Four). They are led by Number One: Li Chang Yen, a Chinese Diabolical Mastermind. Toward the end of the book, the Four gather together for a summit, but Li Chang Yen does not appear; instead, an ornate robe is draped over his chair to signify his presence, and Poirot can sense just how much power Yen still wields even though he's thousands of miles away.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort is revived to human form and immediately summons his Death Eaters, who are expected to apparate (teleport) to him immediately. As he moves among the gathered crowd, he starts lashing out at them as they believed he was truly dead and/or did not try to search for him in the thirteen years after his initial downfall, accusing them of their wavering loyalty. During this, he became even more furious with those that did not respond to his summons, vowing vengeance upon them, such as Igor Karkaroff.
      • Also a Justified example, as among those who did not respond to Voldemort's summons were the Lestranges, as they were currently locked up in the Wizarding prison, Azkaban. Speaking fondly of them as they were the only Death Eaters who never renounced him during his long time away (Bellatrix Lestrange is even his right-hand woman), Voldemort remarks that the Lestranges should be with him that night and makes it clear that their absence is the only one he's willing to excuse.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry is made a member of Horace Slughorn's "Slug Club", whose members consist of Slughorn's handpicked favorite students and those he believes show promise and/or have beneficial connections to important figures in Wizarding society. Harry actively tries to avoid the club functions due to his dislike for them and out of concern for his best friend Ron, who was the only one out of the main trio not to be admitted into the club.
  • Imperial Radch: The Radchaai Galactic Superpower allows Mystery Cults outside the official state religion, so long as they make the Lord of the Radch Anaander Mianaai a member with full privileges. Mianaai never attends but uses the insider knowledge for her own purposes.
  • Nevermoor: Both Exaggerated and Played for Laughs in the second book, which mentions Wunsoc has several social and academic clubs, including Introverts Utterly Anonymous. It promises its members no meetings, of any kind, ever. Morrigan immediately thinks this is a club she could actually join.
  • Zeroes: Anonymous's power makes him this by default. Even when he does show up, it's impossible for anyone else to remember he was there.

  • In 1776, it's a minor Running Gag that the delegation from New Jersey doesn't have any representatives in the Continental Congress for the first portion of the show. The rules of decorum dictate that the colony has to be called at every roll and for every vote, even though there isn't anyone to speak for them.
    • The trope is played more seriously with Caesar Rodney, one of the three delegates from Delaware. He's forced to leave the Congress early due to his quickly-failing health, with a doctor commenting that he may never leave his house again. Rodney's absence leaves the Delaware delegation split on the question of declaring independence (one other delegate is for it, and another against it), which is problematic because a single "no" vote will sink the entire proposal. In a particularly triumphant moment, Rodney returns to break the stalemate when it comes time to vote on independence, saving the cause.

    Visual Novels 
  • Daitoshokan No Hitsujikai: Kakei and his friends are the only active members of the Library Club. The inactive members remain unseen and forgotten until near the climax of the true route when their sudden reappearance causes all kinds of problems for the main cast.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Shion is ostensibly the Cute Sports Club Manager for the Hinamizawa Fighters, except she rarely attends games anymore. She doesn't attend them because her main reason for attending them before her crush, Satoshi, stopped attending due to having disappeared one year ago. However, when she does attend after Keiichi joins the team, she hops right back into her old role and there is no questioning it from anyone.

    Western Animation 
  • Fraggle Rock: In the Season 3 episode, The Secret Society of Poobahs, the leader of the Poobahs, the Beggler-Beg, initiates rollcall during Mokey's trial:
    Beggler-Beg: The trial of Mokey Fraggle shall now begin! All Poohbahs should be present. The judge will call the roll...
    Vanguard: Allllll present shall reply by saying "present," and allllll absent shall reply by saying "linoleum"! Fritz?
    Two Fraggles: [in unison] Present!
    Vanguard: Fritz?
    Another Fraggle: Present!
    Vanguard: Fritz?
    Another Fraggle: Present!
    Vanguard: Fritz?
    Another Fraggle: Present!
    Vanguard: Fritz?
    Another Fraggle: Linoleum!
    Vanguard: Ah, that Fritz, he's never here when you need him. And finally, Fritz, Fritz, Fritz, Fritz, Fritz, and Fritz!
    Vanguard: Mmmmmmmm. [Turns to the Beggler-Beg.] All present and accounted forrrrrr... except for Fritz!
    Beggler-Beg: Thank you, Fritz.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The "Cutie-Mark Crusaders" (Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo) accepted Babs Seed into their club in "One Bad Apple", but she never attended any of their meetings due to living far away, and she left the club after getting her cutie mark in "Bloom and Gloom". They also accepted a griffin named Gabby into their club in another episode, but she's never been seen since then.