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"[Jeeves] has a way of suddenly materializing at one's side like one of those Indian blokes who shoot their astral bodies to and fro, going into thin air in Rangoon and re-assembling the parts in Calcutta. I think it's done with mirrors."
Bertie Wooster, Joy in the Morning

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.

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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    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.
  • Chairman Morinoyama's butler Saikawa from Gakuen Babysitters will constantly pop into a scene out of nowhere.
  • Maeda, Hanako's family butler in Asobi Asobase, will always enter a scene by appearing right behind Hanako, usually right after she mentions him. He reveals that he's actually always right behind her seat, but very carefully hidden so no one will notice him.

    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.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Mr. Deeds, Blake's servant Emilio, whom Deeds inherits along with the estate, is a master of the Stealth Hi/Bye. He explains it as simply being "very sneaky".

  • Igors from Discworld are explicitly able to instantly appear right behind their masters when called ("ith a knack, thir"). One employer 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." Another master regularly summoned his Igor with his back to a spiked pit, until the day he forgot about the pit and took a step backwards.
  • 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.
  • Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox: Argent appears from seemingly nowhere whenever Tsumiko says his name, which he demonstrates both to vex and fluster her and to rescue her from imminent danger. It's much easier to pull off with faster-than-human-sight speed available to him and a superhuman sense of hearing as well (although it is implies he may simply be able to sense her saying his name through their bond)

    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 has a literal Butler Space AKA The Void.
  • The Addams Family: Lurch would always appear on the scene the instant the bell (more like a gong) was rung, even if establishing shots showed he was not in the room a few seconds ago.
  • Played for Laughs in Police Squad! when, during a hostage situation, someone out-of-frame hands Frank a megaphone the second he needs one despite him arriving to the location alone.


    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.
    • The iconic spell unseen servant 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.
  • Like the above, the Dragonborn DLC of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a spell that allows you to summon a Dremora Butler to carry your stuff.
  • The infamous Watson from Sherlock Holmes Nemesis, for whom the developers couldn't be bothered to code pathfinding and instead just programmed him to teleport to a position near you whenever he was offscreen. This could have been only mildly uncanny if they had restricted him to only doing it when you get far away from him and have gone a minimum amount of time without looking in his direction, but they didn't. The result is as hilarious as it is terrifying.
  • BlazBlue: This is an explicit ability for Rachel's butler, Valkenhayn. He's frequently depicted as walking in and out of a dark portal, usually to come to his master's aid.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted at the palace where Amy lives in Double Homework. The first things the protagonist sees when coming down to the Great Hall are servants bustling around. Also, on Amy’s romantic path, the protagonist visits her when she’s sick in bed, and the queen answers the door personally.

  • Homestuck: Equius' lusus slash butler, the centaur Aurthour, is initially absent during Equius' introduction, but just as his charge starts to wonder the he is he appears from offpanel with a fresh glass of milk in hand.
    Oh, there he is. He was just preparing an ice cold glass of nutritious LUSUS MILK for you, with a thick foamy head on it, just the way you like it.
    You cannot hope to beat Aurthour in a butler-off. He is simply the best there is.

    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."