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"You rang?"
Lurch, The Addams Family

The hallmark of a good servant is to be out of sight when not needed, and there instantly when required. However, fictional butlers take it one step further — instantly appearing out of thin air whenever summoned, like a particularly well-dressed genie. The reasons for this vary. Sometimes it's explained as being able to stay well hidden, but most often they just mysteriously appear for no reason at all, in obedience to the Rule of Funny.

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In real-life Europe, many Big Fancy Houses and castles were built with secret (or at least easily overlooked) passages and hidden alcoves to allow service staff to move about unseen, particularly while moving carts of food or laundry (and, until indoor plumbing was finally adopted, excrement). It was often considered appropriate that a servant should be generally unseen, but always within earshot, and their dedication to this facility was gradually inflated among the gentry to a pseudo-magical ability.

See also Ninja Maid, when their hiding abilities may be due to ninja training, or Battle Butler. Subtrope of Offscreen Teleportation.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Butler from The Devil King Is Bored also does this. Possibly because he owns a Portal gun.
  • This trope is part of a Running Gag in Scrapped Princess. Princess Seness' personal assistant Eirote has a penchant to stay out of frame until the moment Seness yells for her, at which point she materializes behind her seemingly out of thin air with a calm "Yes?" and a polite smile.
  • In Saki, Touka's butler Hagiyoshi does this all the time.

    Films — Animation 
  • At one point in Cats Don't Dance, Darla's butler Max does this when he suddenly appears holding the door open, even though he was in a different room a few seconds ago. Lampshaded by Danny, who looks back at the room where Max previously was, clearly confused.

    Literature 
  • Igors from Discworld are explicitly able to instantly appear right behind their masters when called. One even goes so far as to set a beartrap behind him as a test, but the Igor gets around it, being no stranger to "masters of an inquiring mind".
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves is formally a valet, rather than a butler, but Bertie frequently remarks on how he can "shimmer" into a room without ever being seen to enter.
  • Honor Harrington: Honor's faithful valet, James MacGuiness, has been ascribed a broad selection of seemingly-supernatural abilities, including teleportation, invisibility, and precognition. He can serve an entire tableful of admirals without anyone actually seeing him, appear the moment he's needed whether he's been called for or not, and always has whatever snacks, drinks or other necessities any guest may require ready - piping hot or pleasantly chilled, as preferred, even if they appeared unannounced in the middle of the night... and are the President of a foreign star nation and most of her Cabinet.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • Baldrick does this occasionally in the first season of Blackadder (in which he's a Hypercompetent Sidekick instead of the bumbling slob of later episodes). At one point he emerges from a decorative suit of armor that Edmund happens to be walking past, just as he's needed.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", Donna, after trying a locked door upstairs while searching the Big Fancy House, is then startled by Greaves the butler, who unlocks the door when she asks.
  • Played realistically (and shown) in one episode of Jeeves and Wooster where Jeeves is serving as a butler for a dinner Bertie is attending. There are little alcoves the butlers stand in which make them effectively invisible from casual view but still available to be called upon at a moment's notice.
  • Janet from The Good Place dials this trope Up to Eleven having a literal Butler Space AKA The Void.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Basic supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. When the Gong of Butler Summoning is rung, a hill giant wearing all-black clothing appears and serves as a butler.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the iconic spell "Unseen Servant", which summons an ethereal entity that acts like a butler whilst being completely invisible and inaudible of itself. Also weaponized in that a related spell summons a version of the same entity which acts as a killer, called the Invisible Stalker.

    Video Games 
  • Geoffrey in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice combines this with Crazy-Prepared. Whenever Mao orders him to prepare something, he would appear almost instantly with everything already finished.
  • Trauma Team: Tomoe Tachibana's head butler Hanzou constanly does a ninja blur teleport thing. He even manages to appear from nowhere on a transatlantic flight.
  • A literal example in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion. Haskill, the chamberlain to Sheogorath, can be summoned with a spell you get during the main quest.
  • A Good Bad Bug in one of the Sherlock Holmes video games had that Watson was ALWAYS visible nearby. The problem was that they forgot to code any way for him to walk, so he visibly teleports.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-662 ("Mr. Deeds"). SCP-662 is a small silver bell. When it is rung, a short well-dressed Caucasian butler named Mr. Deeds will appear from the nearest area not within line-of-sight or monitored by a security camera. If he is still monitored by camera where he goes, they will inexplicably go out so he can leave.

    Western Animation 
  • Very frequently in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, all Daphne needs to do is call her butler, Jenkins, no matter where they are, and he shows up almost instantly. He also turned up once when he misheard Velma say her Catchphrase, "Jinkies."

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