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He Who Must Not Be Seen

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"I've never met your father, no-one has, I'm not even sure he bloody well exists."
Maxwell Sheffield, The Nanny

A regular or Recurring Character that is never seen on screen. There are three variants: The Ghost, The Voice, and The Faceless.

See also Unseen Evil, Invisible Celebrity Guest and Invisible President. Compare with He Who Must Not Be Heard.


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  • In the Partnership for a Drug Free America PSA "Final Lesson", Susie, the girl who was not taught about the dangers of illegal drugs, is never shown save for some brief photos of her as a child when the camera is panning to various things in her bedroom.

    Anime and Manga 
  • As a rule of thumb, The Emperor of Japan (both the living, historical, or even fictitious ones) is never shown or even mentioned in any Japanese media other than news stories or story books. See this for details. On the other hand, they don't have any qualms to show any daimyo, shogun or even Prime Ministers (both historical and fictitious) in any kind of light. Some clever writers manage to include an equivalent of the Japanese Imperial Family through some good writing:
    • In Queen's Blade, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan, Hinomoto, has an Emperor, who is a girl.
    • Subverted in Samurai Pizza Cats at least between the Japanese and American versions: Little Tokyo is ruled by a brainless emperor in the American iteration, but the character is described as a Shogun in the original Japanese airings.
    • Averted in The Ambition of Oda Nobuna with Himiko, who is also a girl by making her a Captain Ersatz: She is "the head of Yamato court" and said to be an incarnation of the Gods who built Japan, something any Japanese would immediately associated with the empress—but she was never referred to as the empress of Japan. She's also notable to be the only character of the series when the number of fan-art (erotic or otherwise) about her can be counted on a single hand.
    • Averted in the Harukanaru Toki no Naka de manga for the original game. The Emperor of the parallel Heian Japan-like universe face is seen when he speaks with his brother Eisen - we even see him give Eisen advice on how to interact with Akane.
    • Averted with a revenge in Angolmois when the historical Emperor Tokihito (Antoku) appears, at least in the animated adaptation, something really unusual for an modern adaptation of an anime series.
    • Also averted like hell in Heike Monogatari, when the Emperor also appears and mentioned by his name, in this case the Emperor Shirakawa, aka Sadahito.
  • Like the Peanuts example below, there are few, if any parents shown in Daily Lives of High School Boys, even though they are mentioned or alluded to at various points in the series.
  • Toji's sister is mentioned at various points in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and is important enough that she serves as the main reason he becomes a pilot. Despite this, she never actually appears in the series at all. She does however have a very brief non-speaking cameo in the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie. She then becomes an Ascended Extra in the third movie, and is finally given an actual name ("Sakura").
    • This is true of several other characters. For instance, Hikari mentions several times that she has two sisters, but we never see either of them... at least for a long time. They were first seen as part of a promotional campaign for the opening of the 500 Type EVA train featured in merchandise, and going along with the Theme Naming, they are called Kodama and Nozomi, which along with Hikari are the names of the different speed categories of train used by the Tokaido Shinkansen. They later appeared as a cameo in the kids' mecha anime Shinkalion.
  • Astro Boy's Lord Deadcross.
  • The Dancing Giant ghost in Haunted Junction is only seen from the knee down, and generally only one leg at a time. He's that big.
  • Ai Enma's "grandma" from Hell Girl. Although she talks, all we ever see of her form is her silhouette. The only human that takes a good look at her is completely horrified by what she saw.
  • Partial example: Tsunade from Naruto always makes herself look much younger than she is, and on the couple of occasions where she was exhausted enough that the illusion fades we're prevented from getting a good look at her. What little we do see implies that she actually looks older than she really is, no doubt due to the life-shortening effect of her ultimate healing technique.
  • In Taro Kid/Skyers 5 (name varies depending on jurisdiction) the Big Bad (head of a SPECTRE-like criminal organization) is only ever seen from behind his chair.
  • The Sacred Ancestor, the Vampire King Dracula remains unseen save for flashbacks where he receives no physical description save for his eyes in all mediums of Vampire Hunter D.
  • In Arata: The Legend, the Hayagami in their humanoid forms.
  • In The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Ryunosuke, resident in room 102 of Sakura Hall is one of these. Early on, his only interactions with the other characters are over the computer, either via chat room dialogue, or more commonly, a maid AI program that does the speaking for what he's thinking about. He finally appears onscreen in episode 9, and is also visible in the credits.
  • Quite a few of the bigger players in FLCL are never shown, including Medical Mechanica, Haruko's higher-ups, and Naota's older brother. (Even when there's a picture of him, his face is never shown.)
    • The Pirate King Atomsk is unseen until almost the very end. Even Amarao's earlier mental picture of him has his back to the audience and Amarao is completely wrong about what he looks like anyway.
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne Hitomi occasionally referred to her younger brother, we never see him once at her home in the present day.
  • The writer of "Aerial Girls' Squad" in Shirobako only appears in the form of cryptic emails and his obnoxious editor, who always loudly insists that his client is too busy to see anyone. The director finally meets him in the second-to-last episode and, unsurprisingly, it turns out he wasn't really that busy, his editor was just getting in the way.
  • God in Heaven's Design Team is never seen, only heard, usually making animal requests and approving them. It seemed like He was going to make an appearance at Hell's office party, but he ended up sending Garuda in his place with a recorded message.

  • Nobody is certain who or what Froghand/"Froge" is, aside from the limited information he provides willingly. This is understandable, given his strong views on privacy, security, and anti-surveillance tactics, having formerly devoted his website to the topic of Web security.

  • Bob Newhart was famous for this. Many of his stand-up routines featured a "telephone" bit in which you only heard Bob's side of the conversation and had to imagine the other side. This gag made it into his TV shows a couple of times.
    Bob: [into phone, while drunk] Derr Bob Hartley. ... Derr. ... Dee, Ar, period.
  • One who really defies categorization is the character of Vern from any of the late comedian Jim Varney's Ernest routines since the action was always told in first-person fashion from Vern's perspective, allowing the audience to essentially be that character. Sometimes Vern's hands were seen, such as when Ernest got his hands caught in the window and asks for help, and the audience sees Vern's hands simply closing the blinds.
  • The late Joyce Grenfell used to do the same thing, with the audience taking the perspective of Shirley, or half the guests at a cocktail party (with Grenfell playing all the other half), or a nursery school.
    "George...don't do that."

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Joker was this in Death of the Family for a large part because mostly, he had no face.
  • Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm often speaks fondly of his dear Aunt Petunia, but for decades she was never seen. Finally, issue #239 featured her in person. It's revealed that she is a young woman married to Ben's Uncle Jake. Another couple of decades later, she is Stuffed in the Fridge.
  • Jan, Jans en de Kinderen: Gijs, Jan's older brother, who is always mentioned, but never seen.
  • De Kiekeboes: Mevrouw Stokvis is a friend of Moemoe, Kiekeboe's grandmother. She always talks about her, but we never ever see her appear.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In the early comics, Mary Jane Watson was only referred to and never fully seen — although one story did feature a brief cameo, we could only see her body and not her face. It would be over two years before readers received their first full glimpse of her in the comics, and Peter (and the audience) is shocked to find out she is actually a very attractive young woman.
    • Before he was revealed to be Norman Osborn, any time the Green Goblin wasn't wearing his mask, his back was either turned to the reader or his face was almost completely shrouded in shadows.
    • Likewise with the Hobgoblin, who trod a lot of familiar ground in his debut.
  • In Runaways, Mr. Prast, Klara's "husband" and abuser, has appeared in maybe two or three panels in the entire decade or so since she was introduced.
  • Ultimatum: There is a woman in the shadows in the last page who seems to be allied with Quicksilver in the creation of a new Brotherhood of Mutants. She was later revealed to be Moira MacTaggert, Xavier's ex-wife.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts:
    • Adults were seen exactly once: Some adults are partially shown in an early strip depicting Charlie Brown and Lucy at a golf tournament.
    • In a few early strips Linus and Lucy's parents (and blanket-hating grandmother) can be "heard" off-panel, and the kids' schoolteachers are heard (albeit as trombone music) in the animated specials (with the exception of "She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown", which featured an actual voice).
    • The Little Red-Haired Girl is also never seen, except once in silhouette, this was to show Charlie Brown's hopelessness in longing for her. (She is seen in one of the specials, It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, although this was deemed non-canonical by Charles Schulz.)
    • Also Snoopy's nemesis, The Cat Next Door aka World War II. Although some fans believe that Brutus from Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown fits the description of the Cat Next Door.
  • Susie's parents in Calvin and Hobbes. Their voices were heard from off-panel once or twice, but they never appeared. Susie's mom was seen from the waist down once.
  • The Phantom is usually wearing a mask or sunglasses; whenever he's not, he's usually shown from behind or has his head out of frame. In-story, anyone who sees his face will die (mainly through Laser-Guided Karma), but his wife and other loved ones are apparently excluded. (In one ancestor story, the current Phantom had died and his son arrived at the Skull Cave to take up the role; he's shown completely, face and all, for several frames. Presumably the curse doesn't take full effect before he dons the suit for the first time, or the comic's readership may have taken a drastic drop in numbers...)
  • In Cul-de-sac, Dil has a horde of unseen older brothers whose hobbies include building trebuchets.
  • The title characters in George Herriman's early 20th century strip The Family Upstairs. They live on the top floor of an apartment building and cause endless problems for the poor souls situated below them.
  • This also applied to the title characters in another early strip, Pom Momand's Keeping Up with the Joneses.

    Fan Works 
  • In Monsters In Paradise, Hello-san, the story's Big Bad, is this. When Koishi meets him for the first time, she finds it impossible to discern his appearance as she cannot see him at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • Bambi:
    • The hunter who shot Bambi's mom. Unless you buy the fanon that it was Gaston.
    • Thumper's mother constantly refers to his father's Green Aesops whenever Thumper is causing her trouble, even though he is never once seen onscreen or even heard in either movie.
  • In the 1980 Claymation educational film Dinosaurs!, neither the main character Phillip nor his classmates are ever actually shown, and his teacher is only briefly seen from behind. When this film was released to home video in 1987, new scenes were added with Phillip being played by Fred Savage. The new footage featured Phillip's unseen mother, as well as a mysterious female voice who educates him on dinosaurs.
  • Sykes was originally going to be this in Oliver & Company, however as the plot began calling for more action on his part, this idea was eventually dropped.
  • Mickey's father the King, from Mickey's The Prince and the Pauper, is never fully shown; even during his death scene only his hands and silhouette are seen.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The unseen monster(s) in Bird Box. Though one was originally going to appear in the flesh as a hideous, infant-looking humanoid, it was removed from the final film because Sandra Bullock found it too ridiculous.
  • The supposed god in 10,000 BC makes sure no ones sees him to add to his whole mystique. He even has all blind servants.
  • The Soviet premier in Dr. Strangelove. Not only not seen, but not heard either. Sellers does a Newhart-style telephone gag where, though you only hear President Merkin's side of the conversation, it's pretty clear what "Dmitri" is saying.
    Merkin: I'm sorry too, Dmitri. I'm very sorry.... All right, you're sorrier than I am. But I am sorry as well... I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri. Don't say that you're more sorry than I am because I am capable of being just as sorry as you are. So we're both sorry, all right? ... All right.
  • Roxy Carmichael from the 1990 movie Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael. Mainly because he's in Russia, which is only shown in the movie as a background-shot.
  • The Blair Witch in The Blair Witch Project is never seen on camera, only spoken of and feared. This of course makes her all the more scary!
  • Blofeld in the James Bond films (yeah, him) actually started out this way.
  • Sir Not Appearing in the Film from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But he does appear very briefly, in the illustration on his page of the storybook. From the looks of things, he must be the youngest knight of them all... (the picture is actually of Michael Palin's son).
  • The man directing the criminal organization in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is only shown as a silhouette behind a curtain giving orders. It's later revealed that the man behind the curtain is just a cardboard cutout and a radio; the head of the psych hospital, who has become obsessed with patient Mabuse's titular "crime manual", has been remotely directing the organization the whole time.
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941):
    • Floyd Thursby, (one of) the murder victim(s).
    • The audience never sees who shoots Miles Archer; all we see is a hand raising a gun, the shot, and him falling backward, as Sam Spade later describes the aftermath, "with his gun tucked away in his hip and his overcoat buttoned". It's this that helps Sam figure out who the killer of both men was.
  • The title character in Edward, My Son is never seen onscreen. Everything we know about him we hear from other people.
  • Much like Dr. Claw, Mr. Feather's boss "The Man" from Undercover Brother. only the back of his head and his hands are seen.
  • The 1976 biopic of the Prophet Mohammed, Mohammad, Messenger of God (US title The Message ), complies with Islamic law by never showing the Prophet or any of his immediate family. This leads to a lot of very meaningful shots of his camel and his camel-goad.
  • Technically, this tactic was used before in Ben-Hur (1959). Jesus cameos in the film, giving water to Judah Ben-Hur and, later, when Ben Hur witnesses the crucifixion. Not once is Jesus' face shown. Many Christians, especially Roman Catholics, are uncomfortable with any depictions of Jesus' face in contemporary or even classic media, as it puts a potentially misleading visual "face" on Jesus. The director of Ben-Hur decided not to show Jesus' face in the film out of respect for this.
    • The same tactic was used in the original silent version of Ben-Hur.
  • Mrs. Matuschek in The Shop Around the Corner.
  • Claude Daigle the boy Rhoda murdered in The Bad Seed adaptations is never shown except possibly at the beginning with the other students at the school picnic.
  • In Planes, Trains and Automobiles, it appears that Del's wife is this trope. We find out at the end it's much sadder.
  • In Angels in the Outfield, none of the angels are directly seen by the audience. Only one of them appears as a voice. Averted in the remake, though.

  • Santa Claus is this in the puzzle book series Can You See What I See?, with the only signs of his presence being his hat in the chimney, his shadow on the wall, and a faraway shot of his sleigh in the sky.
  • The Soldier in White from Catch-22. A hospital patient so covered in bandages that no one knows anything about him. No one even realizes when he dies, until a nurse takes his temperature and he doesn't have one. One soldier speculates there's nothing under the bandages, he's just a hollow plaster shell.
    • Also, the Dead Man in Yossarian's Tent (Lt. Mudd). He died on a mission before officially checking in at the base, therefore the army brass refuse to admit he ever existed, causing a paperwork nightmare.
  • Bod from The Graveyard Book never sees the Sleer until the end of the book.
  • Galbatorix, the Big Bad of the Inheritance Cycle, has yet to put in a physical appearance in the books. He does appear in The Film, played by John Malkovich, but this was only for appearances' sake. He finally shows up in the last book.
    • By extension, his dragon Shruikan isn't seen until they confront Galbatorix in his throne room.
  • The Minotaur in House of Leaves is an odd, in-universe instance of this. All that's ever made clear is its presence as it destroys things through its passing, as it never actually appears and whenever it's mentioned the passage is striken out. This appears to be because Zampanò is so freaked out by it that he doesn't want to invoke it. Johnny describes its core elements as darkness, silence and "the obliteration of meaning," which suggests that it is nothingness itself, which would make its appearance inherently paradoxical.
  • Matai Shang, Holy Hekkador of the Holy Therns in John Carter of Mars hovers around the edges of the second book, The Gods of Mars without ever putting in a direct appearance. He finally shows up in the next book, The Warlord of Mars, where he's half of the Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • Let's not forget the "Once-ler" and all his friends and relatives in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, of whom only their hands are ever seen. That was so they could represent big companies in general rather than a single person, although the film adaptation shows them fully.
  • Takeshi Kovacs: Altered Carbon includes the often-referenced but never-present Elias Ryker. It emerges that the central character, Takeshi Kovacs, is inhabiting Ryker's body or "sleeve" while Ryker himself is "on stack", imprisoned in a digital environment.
  • For some reason, Glenis the Guinea Pig is frequently mentioned in the first Roland Rat Christmas Annual, but never actually shown (her character profile has a photo of Harrods, and she makes one illustrated appearance behind a pile of shopping). It's possible that the lead-in time meant that the annual's writers were aware of the new character being introduced in the October show, but hadn't seen the puppet design.
  • Dr Seuss' There's a Wocket in my Pocket features a whole host of weird creatures with which the narrating character - a young boy - lives, except one. "The only one I'm really scared of is that VUG under the RUG," the character narrates; and indeed, all you are shown of it is a formless, nonspecific lump under a rug in a darkened room.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hive in his first appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where he's referred to as "It" for the entirety of the episode. We do see him as a figure in a black cloak and the corpse of an astronaut, but we don't see his face until the episode "Maveth". It takes even longer to reveal his true form or even his name.
  • Possibly the most famous example, Charlie from Charlie's Angels. He's never been seen in any version of the show. Not even the movies! But for those who really want to know and be spoiled it was John Forsythe
  • Are You Being Served? features an example in Mrs. Slocombe's friend Mrs. Axelby. Her cat Tiddles (or at least one bearing the same name) appeared in the After Series Grace and Favour.
  • In public-relations specials, these characters need not even be fictional. After playing The Voice (Carlton the doorman on Rhoda), Lorenzo Music (who also provided the voice for Garfield) later appeared on a Garfield TV special with his back to the camera at all times, as Garfield's creator Jim Davis remarked that he'd never seen his face. However, Music did once appear on camera during an interview for Here Comes Garfield, but after that, when out in public, he either wore a Garfield mask or just wore a beret and sunglasses. The producers of an E! special on Beanie Babies did something similar with the founder of the Ty corporation.
    • Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Gravity's Rainbow author Thomas Pynchon, both of whom refuse to appear on camera throughout their whole careers.
    • In his first interview after leaving the band in 1980, former KISS drummer Peter Criss appeared with his back to the camera, apparently at the insistence of his former band mates. At the time, KISS had never appeared in public without their trademark stage makeup. Criss would reveal his face in a television appearance later that year. The band would abandon its makeup in 1983 in an "unmasking" on MTV.
    • Similar to the first example, VH1's I Love The 90s had a segment on MovieFone, with the celebrities commenting that they had no idea what "Mr. MovieFone" looked like. They actually had the actor, Russ Leatherman, on the show.
  • Don Pardo announced the prizes on many game shows, and the cast on Saturday Night Live during the '70s, without ever appearing on-camera. One SNL skit lampshaded this by having Pardo appear as, literally, an invisible man; auditioning for the SNL announcer gig ("Don Pardo? Is he still alive?"), his invisible presence sits down in a swivel chair which visibly moves and audibly creaks.
    • Subverted on the NBC episodes of The Price Is Right, as he would occasionally be seen on camera as a substitute host whenever regular host Bill Cullen was either sick or on vacation.
    • Also subverted for much of the 1980s on WNBC, NBC's flagship station- he announced their Live at Five newscast from 1980 until around 1990 (and made a return for its' last edition in 1991 (it's been revived a few times since, though)), and starting around 1984, he'd be seen on-camera doing the announcement live.
  • In 2 Broke Girls, Caroline's father, Martin, was originally unseen — Justified because he's in jail, but both she and Max were shown talking to him on her phone. He later appeared on screen, played by Steven Weber.
  • On The Andy Griffith Show, Goober started out as one of these; his cousin Gomer would tell Andy, "Goober says 'hey,'" when the two men met. Goober finally made an appearance (alongside Gomer) in the season 4 episode "Fun Girls," and after Gomer left for his own show Goober essentially became his Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
    • Sarah, the town telephone operator.
    • Then, of course, there was "Juanita", the waitress that Barney sometimes flirted with on the telephone.
  • From The Big Bang Theory, the mother of Howard Wolowitz. And given her shrilling voice and what we know about her, it sure as hell better stay that way.
    • In "The Countdown Reflection" she can bee seen from a birds eye view thanks to the Google Earth satellite from Leonard and Sheldon's apartment roof.
    • In "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" She is seen through a slightly ajar door 3 times each lasting around a second or two each only her back side is seen as well as the back of her brunette hair.
  • John Bracken, studio head and title character of Brackens World, was not seen until season two.
  • Castle (2009): Martha's often-talked-about boyfriend Chet is never seen on screen. Since he's killed off in episode 3x02, it's doubtful that he ever will be.
  • And, of course, the ultimate example, Charlie, from Charlie's Angels. He usually appears as The Voice, but has sometimes appeared as The Faceless in several episodes and only finally reveals himself to the Angels during the final episode, "Let Our Angel Live" when he shows up at the hospital to be by Kelly's side after she is shot.
  • Norm's wife Vera in Cheers, although she was occasionally given a voice or partially shown.
    • Also Sam's brother Derrick, although he was given a voice.
  • Mrs. Columbo. Some fans theorize she doesn't exist, partly because some scenes really stretch the feasibility of it (she's nowhere to be seen at the policeman's ball despite Lt. Columbo asserting she'd be there), and partly because it ties into theories about how Columbo solves his cases.
  • Captain Mainwaring's wife Elizabeth from Dad's Army, who is apparently much scarier than the Nazis. We get the briefest of glimpses in one episode where the two are lying in bunks, with the captain on the bottom. Above him in the top bunk is an extraordinarily massive indentation, suggesting a mountain of a woman.
  • Dan & Becs is absolutely made of this trope. Although the only characters to appear onscreen are the titular ones recording their video diaries, between them they reference dozens of characters. Just for starters: their respective parents, Becs's sister, their various respective friends, their various respective friends' siblings, Becs's agent, Dan's various exes, the various people they meet when looking for work... the list goes on. And that's not even starting on the real-life people who are unseen characters within the show.
  • The Banker from the game show Deal or No Deal. His body can be seen from the booth, but there is no lighting on him, making him practically a shadow.
    • In the UK version, he is simply the voice on the other end of the telephone.
  • The '50s sitcom December Bride had as one of its supporting characters next-door neighbor Pete Porter (Harry Morgan), who often spoke of his unseen wife Gladys. Morgan was popular enough to get his own After Show called Pete and which the latter did appear.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The creatures inside the Daleks fitted this trope for the first few years of the show's run, with only the occasional (and often contradictory) hint as to their true nature. A hand was seen in the first story, a "time-destructed" octopus in the fourth, and so on. This added considerably to their menace.
      • Justified in that the Daleks have altered themselves many times, sometimes through natural evolution and sometimes by deliberate choice. Somewhat ironically for a species so dedicated to racial purity (and often leading to wars between almost identical sub-species).
      • It got so extreme that even the creators of the Long Runner show apparently forgot/didn't know that there was something inside and referred to them as a race of robots in one serial.
    • Queen Elizabeth II made fairly frequent non-appearances. It's partly a running joke, partly because they likely didn't want to have someone playing her onscreen and it obviously not being her. Hence why in "Silver Nemesis", she's played by a lookalike shot from far away. (They'd originally wanted Prince Edward to play himself, but he graciously declined.)
    • The Silence played this role during Series 5, with their presence only being alluded to by the term "Silence Will Fall" or some variation of it. They are later revealed to be the ones responsible for blowing up the Doctor's TARDIS in the penultimate episode of Series 5, "The Pandorica Opens".
  • First boss Mr. Bell in The Drew Carey Show. His voice is frequently heard over intercom, but he doesn't appear on-screen until the end of the first season (in which he's been fired).
  • Forever: Adam starts out as The Voice on the telephone, then becomes The Faceless to the audience for a few seconds at the end of "Look Before You Leap," and for Henry at the end of "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths." His face is finally shown to Henry and the viewer at the same time at the end of "Skinny Dipper."
  • Frasier:
    • Maris. The creators had initially planned to show her, but the descriptions of her made her so monstrous that after a few seasons, they couldn't think of a way to show her without underselling the character.
    • Also the source of a hilarious subplot involving Niles getting a pet whippet that everyone agrees is basically a canine Maris — this is basically the closest the audience ever gets to seeing the woman.
      • Except that we did see a heavily bandaged-up Maris in a flashback in one episode set in a hospital, but it was brief and she was almost entirely covered up. Another episode showed us her silhouette against a shower curtain.
    • Queen [1] does make one appearance in an episode, in a dream sequence where Daphne is horrified to see her on the balcony enjoying a barbecue with Marty. She is played by an unconvincing impersonator, mind you.
  • Friends has "Ugly Naked Guy" who is blessedly always off-camera. The only time "Ugly Naked Guy" appeared on-screen, he was shot from the back (and thankfully above the waist).
  • Kimmy Gibbler's parents and brother from Full House are regularly mentioned by Kimmy, but are never shown onscreen.
  • On The Golden Girls, Dorothy's crossdressing brother Phil is frequently mentioned and joked about but never seen. Rose's husband Charlie is the only former husband of the girls never seen; Sophia and Blanche's husbands are seen in flashback, and Dorothy's ex-husband Stan is a recurring character.
  • On Hannah Montana, the main characters frequently mentioned eccentric relative Uncle Earl. He finally appeared in a late Season 2 episode, portrayed by David Koechner, then appeared again in the last two episodes of Season 3.
  • On Happy Days, the character of Jenny Piccalo was an offscreen "bad girl" friend of Joanie until the eighth season. Once brought onscreen, her character became much Lighter and Softer.
  • Linderman of Heroes was this for much of the show's run, often referenced with characters seen speaking to him over the phone, or middle men conveying his orders. This makes sense as he's very much the shadowy manipulator but it was actually because the show couldn't afford to have a big star like Malcolm McDowell appear in too many episodes.
    • This makes it even more strange to see a kind, grandfatherly character as the Big Bad, while we have been assured that "Mr. Linderman" is a truly ruthless, merciless villain. Informed Ability anyone?
      • Except that he really is an evil manipulator, so he's closer to Affably Evil.
  • The physical incarnation of this particular trope is undoubtedly Wilson from Home Improvement. If it wasn't the fence hiding his mouth, it was a tree branch, a grill, other people, a Santa beard, or even a yam!
  • If the titular mother in How I Met Your Mother does make appearances, we never see her face. In "Girls vs. Suits", Ted sees her ankle. In "No Pressure", only the back of her covered head is shown. In "No Tomorrow", the yellow umbrella is covering half of her body and she is wearing jeans.
    • Until the Season 8 Finale, when we finally get to see her face.
  • The game show Inquizition was hosted by a mysterious, shadowy figure known only as "The Inquizitor" whose main job was to belittle and goad the contestants. To this day, it is unknown who portrayed him.
  • Kim's "best friend" Tina on Kath & Kim never seems to spend any time with Kim at all.
  • Keeping Up Appearances:
    • Hyacinth's rich sister Violet (and husband Bruce) remained unseen for the earlier series. She eventually made her full-time appearance as a character in the final series.
    • Sheridan remained off-screen, though frequently mentioned, for the entire series, apart from a brief glimpse in a late episode of a figure dressed in motorbike gear (including helmet) that completely concealed his appearance.
  • Angela Valentine was a girl in Beaver's class at Grant Avenue Elementary School in Leave It to Beaver. She was mentioned in no fewer than 16 episodes throughout the series' run. Usually concerning her sixth toe or getting sick in class, having a real gold filling, the eating of library paste, winning a tool chest at the local theater, suggesting (and then winning) a class beauty contest, losing her bite plate on the playground, bringing a "baked Alaskan" to the cake sale, getting her extra toe cut off, calling Beaver a "dirty, rotten, smelly old apple," having a birthday party, getting sick in the back of the school bus and wearing a Jackie Kennedy wig to school. (She is shown very briefly in 2 episodes but only from behind and later running or walking by. No one seems to know who played the part.)
    • Also, Larry Mondello's father.
  • The Librarians (2007): Frances' daughter Bernadette. While the effects of her rampant sociopathy are visible, she herself never is. Later progresses to The Voice.
  • On Lost:
    • One of the main things keeping viewers in suspense from the very first episode onwards was the true nature and appearance of the "monster", an enigmatic creature with terrifying distinct roars and the capacity to uproot trees and brutally mutilate. For a long time, the camera refuses to get a shot of the monster and we were kept in suspense of what it was. That is, until we got a very brief glimpse of it in the first season finale, and we finally begin to get a clear shot of it in the second season.
      • By the end of the series, this turns out to be Subverted: we saw the Monster repeatedly throughout the first season, except we didn't know it was the Monster because we didn't yet know it had the ability to do a Dead Person Impersonation.
    • There's also the mysterious Jacob. After frequently being mentioned and painted as a powerful figure in seasons 3-5 but never appearing, we had no idea who he was (and if he was even real at all), until the human form of the monster dropped a Wham Line revealing the existence and appearance of Jacob.
  • Accounts Executive Mitch on MadMen, Harry Crane's enemy, with a very attractive wife.
  • Robin Masters, the author who owns the estate on Magnum, P.I.. This led to in and out of universe speculation about whether or not Higgins was really Masters all along.
  • Peggy's mother in Married... with Children. She is implied to be amazingly obese, so perhaps the idea is that the camera couldn't have fit her in? The only thing visible about her is the vibrations in the house she causes when she moves.
  • Lars Lindstrom, Phyllis' husband on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
    • Chuckles the Clown was one of these for the most part, although he did appear onscreen in a couple different episodes (played by a couple different actors).
    • As noted, Carlton the doorman in the spin off, Rhoda (aside from a gloved hand in one episode).
  • M*A*S*H: Sparky, the radio operator at I-Corps who Radar or Klinger often speaks with, pretty much fits this trope... although he did make a single, brief appearance in the season 1 episode "Tuttle".
    • The characters' loved ones back in the States, obviously...although some of them did "appear" via home movie, including Henry's wife Lorraine, Frank's wife Louise, B.J.'s wife Peg, and Radar's mother (played by Gary Burghoff in drag).
    • B.J.'s wife Peg appears again in the surreal episode "Dreams", in a depressing Nightmare Sequence that is meant to show how much he misses her and how he believes the war has pulled him away from her. Naturally, everyone else is suffering a case of this throughout this particular episode.
    • In the "Run for the Money" episode, Charles gets a tape recording from his sister Honoria, so we get to hear her voice (which includes a bad stutter).
    • Colonel Potter's wife in the states, Mildred, does not appear in the main series (save as a photograph on his desk), but is a regular character (played by two different actresses) in the short-lived spin-off AfterMASH.
  • Arthur Daley's wife in Minder, fearfully referred to as "'Er Indoors."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus had the episode "Michael Ellis" which involved Eric Idle being repeatedly mistaken for the mysterious Mr. Ellis, who is never seen.
  • Moonlighting characters often referred to the "Ensalmo Case", which sort of combines this with Noodle Incident: The case was only mentioned in passing. There were no characters named Ensalmo, nor did the case ever come to a close. It's revealed in the Grand Finale that it was never solved.
  • Nils' mother Elna in the first season of Norwegian sitcom Mot I Brøstet, only referred to and heard through one-sided phone calls for the first 7 episodes. The sequel series Karl&Co did the same with Ulf's wife Magda, who stayed unrevealed throughout the entire series.
  • Adele, Sherrif Metzger's wife in Murder, She Wrote is often mentioned but never seen.
  • During several episodes of My So-Called Life, Rayanne Graff mentions a friend named "Tino" who never made a physical appearance throughout the show's unfortunately short run.
  • Cambot in Mystery Science Theater 3000, apart from his brief appearances in the Robot Roll Call. Justified in that everything on the Satellite of Love is seen through his lens.
  • Until the last season Morty Fine, Fran's father, from The Nanny.
  • The Odd Couple (1970):
    • Felix's ex-wife Gloria did not appear on-screen until the second season.
    • Oscar's girlfriend "Crazy Rhoda Zimmerman" was never seen.
  • The documentary film crews from all the various versions of The Office, who never speak or overtly involve themselves with the office workers, but who must have some offscreen relationship with them, especially in the long-lasting American version.
  • When the One Away game is played on The Price Is Right, Drew has the contestant plead to the "Mighty Sound Effects Lady" to see if they got X numbers right on the board. Naturally, said sound effects lady is never seen or heard on camera.
  • The Red Green Show:
    • Red's wife Berince was never seen (except in a Christmas special near the series end).
    • Dalton's wife Ann Marie also went unseen for most of the show, but was later upgraded to The Voice.
    • Actually, the show was full of these people. There were a number of lodge members who were alwayso talked about but never seen, mainly Moose Thompson and Old Man Segewick.
    • For that matter there were often entire episodes in which unseen characters would have significant roles.
  • The Royle Family, which rarely leaves the confines of one house, creates a whole community of characters only ever described by the core cast. Chiefly; Jim and Barbara's neighbour 'Leggings' Lorraine, the housebound Elsie (who lives in the same flats as 'Nana' Norma and whose eventual death provides the background to an episode in the third series) and Dave's best friends Tony Macca and Gary. Most memorable though is Tony's supposedly tarty - and well-endowed - younger sister, Beverley.
    • Some characters are talked about in several episodes before we do eventually get a glimpse of them, including Anthony's best friend Darren and girlfriend Emma (plus her parents). Dave's parents were also regularly mentioned but didn't appear onscreen until the 2008 Christmas special. In addition, crucial aspects of Norma's character are introduced in the very first episode, when she makes a phone call to the Royle household, but it's not until later in the series that we see and hear her.
  • Samson En Gert: This show has a lot of characters that are always talked about, but never seen: Bobientje, Marlèneke, Fred Kroket…
  • The extent to which Burnside is/is not willing to reconcile with his ex-wife Belinda in The Sandbaggers is a plot point in several episodes. However, she is never seen.
  • In Scarecrow and Mrs. King,
    • there was a character in the first season or two (later phased out) who drove around in a limo giving out orders/assignments. The name of the character was Blue Leader."
    • Amanda's boyfriend during the 1st half of Season 1 is Dean. His face is never shown.
  • Seinfeld had several, most notably George's Boss George Steinbrenner, whose face is never seen, Kramer's never-seen friends Bob Sacamano and Lomez, and Jerry's cousin Jeffrey, about whom Uncle Leo talks constantly.
    • George Steinbrenner was then real part owner and managing partner of the Yankees when George supposedly worked for the team. Steinbrenner was in the news a lot, and everyone knew what he looked like. Rather than try and get the real Steinbrenner to play himself, or find an actor who looked uncannily like him, whom audiences would accept, the producers chose to use someone who just looked like Steinbrenner from the back.
  • On The Sopranos, Janice's estranged son Harpo is mentioned repeatedly over the course of the show, but never seen.
  • Amber, daughter of Tim and Daisy's landlady Marsha in Spaced. The others hear her having raging (but indistinct) rows with her mother, and at one point she storms downs the stairs played by the producer's sister in a wig, but neither they nor we ever meet her or see her face.
  • On Sports Night, Luther Sachs was the owner of Continental Corp, which owned Continental Sports Channel, which broadcast the titular Show Within a Show. Though there were many times he was referenced (through such things as people having to take a call from him or having to go meet him, etc.) he was never seen or heard.
  • Chef in Star Trek: Enterprise. In the last episode, he's revealed to be... William Riker? Actually, Riker was on the holodeck playing Chef.
  • Captain Boday in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He was said to have various strange features, such as a brain visible through his transparent cranium.
  • St. Elsewhere:
    • Dr. Oliver London, Craig's main surgical rival at St. Eligius. However, he makes two brief, wordless appearances in flashbacks to 1955 in "Time Heals, Part 2".
    • Robert Wade, Jackie Wade's husband.
  • In Super Human Samurai Syber Squad, main character Sam Collins' sister Elizabeth. Sam, who's almost always in the basement, talks to Elizabeth through the laundary chute, and sometimes she drops something down it on his head. The one time she actually comes down into the basement, the power is out and it's pitch black in the basement so we still can't see her. We also never see or hear Sam's parents, though sometimes one of the team is heard talking to them on the way down the basement stairs.
  • In Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper constantly recorded messages to "Diane" with his mini recorder, but Diane herself is never seen or heard. She does apparently mail Coop some earplugs at one point, however, so she is assumed to actually exist. She is finally seen in Season 3 as a major character played by Laura Dern - 27 years later.
  • This trope fits the grossly oversized Stan (or so we are told) from Will & Grace to a tee.
    • His hand is seen in one episode, grabbing at Karen's breast.
    • This trope is more applicable to Beverly Leslie's wife Crystal who is never seen once in the show.
  • The Prime Minister is this in Utopia (2014). His only appearance was a non-speaking cameo in which he was in costume as a mascot. The character is always referred to as male, but no party is specified, nor is it clear if it's the same Prime Minister from one reference to the next.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder often made calls to someone at the FBI named "Danny", requesting warrants, paperwork, or other small but difficult-to-retrieve items they needed in the field. Sometimes Scully called Danny, and once John Dogget did as well. However, audiences never got to see Danny. The closest Chris Carter ever got to a character description was once during an interview when he joked that Danny was a gnome that lived in Mulder's desk.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • On WWE Smackdown, Tazz frequently referred to a mystery bookmaker named Joey Numbers who gave him insider dirt on the wrestlers currently in the ring.
  • WWE Raw has an anonymous general manager who only communicates to whomever's in the arena via e-mails sent to Michael Cole.
    • Recently, it was revealed that the anonymous GM was Hornswoggle.
      • And even more recently, that was eventually Retconned away — likely due to so much negative fan reception — making the AGM an enigma once again.
  • Vince Russo was this at the beginning of his WCW tenure as "The Powers That Be," and vowed never to show his face. After he was fired and re-hired, he showed his face for the first time in WCW.

    Puppet Shows 
  • On Fraggle Rock, Doc's neighbour Ned Schimelfinny is never shown, and only one side of conversations are ever heard.
  • Scooter's uncle, the theater owner, was supposed to be this on The Muppet Show. He actually did appear in a couple of season 2 episodes, but the writers decided he was better kept unseen for the force of the gag.
  • On Sesame Street, Charlie the chef is never shown, but is frequently mentioned by Grover the Waiter. He is heard in one sketch, the Russian Restaurant sketch, where he says "Nyet!" (Russian for "No!")

  • Dorothy Gale in Wicked. She is only heard crying in Elphaba's dungeon, and seen in silhouette when she throws the bucket of water.
  • The unseen Mrs. Grundy, in Thomas Morton's Speed the Plough, 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.
  • Nell from The Comedy of Errors, whose infamous breadth is probably better described than seen.
  • Wilson, the unseen boss of Gus and Ben in Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter. He may or may not be the one sending them mysterious messages via the titular device throughout.
  • In Cross Road, when Niccolo Paganini performs for Napoléon Bonaparte, the Emperor's reactions are described by his sister Elisa (Niccolo's patron and lover), but Napoleon himself is never seen.
  • Godot never does turn up.
  • Charlie and Myra in Neil Simon's Rumors. Charlie (the host) spends the entire play in his bedroom having shot himself through the earlobe for an unexplained reason, and his wife Myra reveals that she spent the entire evening locked in the basement in the play's final line.
  • The pooka Harvey in the play and movie of the same name.
  • Mrs. Lovett's rival in the pie business in Sweeney Todd, Mrs. Mooney. She is mentioned several times throughout the play and her apparent use of house cats for meat in her pies at least partially inspires Lovett to use a secret ingredient in hers, but she is never seen on stage.

  • LEGO outright forbid the BIONICLE writers to give away what the Great Beings look like. Since the story was mostly told in written form, this wasn't a problem. In two instances, though, the writers used this trope to bend the rules — images in the Mata Nui Saga included tiny silhouettes of them, and a pre-existing toy of another character was retroactively revealed to have been a disguised Great Being. The latter is a Double Subversion, since while it's a tangible representation of a GB, it's explicitly not their real form.

    Video Games 
  • The original Doom made this famous - the only reason anybody knows what he looks like is the face in the status bar.
  • Gordon Freeman of Half-Life, whose appearance is only known at all thanks to the box art. He shows up very briefly in the expansions, but then in Half-Life 2 he doesn't even have a model.
  • Mental from Serious Sam is this taken the extreme. He's the Big Bad of all the games, and yet all we've seen of him is a bony hand. In a spinoff.
  • An odd example from Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves: Jing King, the Panda King's daughter, is only ever seen as a silhouette behind a screen. No reason is ever given for this. (It may be a reference to the story, "The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind".)
    • Sly's father, in games' flashback scenes, is only seen from the legs down.
  • Halo: Despite being clearly seen in Halo 2, the Gravemind is never seen beyond its tentacles in Halo 3, much to the annoyance of many fans. To some degree, though, we do see it. Some hints suggest that after taking over the Covenant capital of High Charity, the Gravemind grew and merged with it; essentially, Gravemind is High Charity at that point.
  • Mass Effect: Most of the sidequests in the first game are given to you by Admiral Hackett, yet he never appears in person until the Arrival DLC of the second game. He has a much more prominent role in the thrid game, and as such appears regularly to give you missions or update you on the current situation.
  • Mickey Mouse is absent for much of Kingdom Hearts, having left his castle to face the Heartless himself, and depending on his trusting aids Goofy and Donald to guide Sora. While he does show up in the story's climax, he's only really seen from the back, and not for very long at that. Though Mickey is much more prominent in the various sequels.
  • Dragon Age loves this trope. Most of the really big players in this universe have not been seen yet although heavily impacting the lore. The Evanuris who are confirmed imprisoned somewhere in the fade, the Titans who we only get to see from the inside, and of course the forbidden ones, the older gods, and the forgotten ones, that might or might not be the same people.
  • Gary Smith is absent for the majority of the game Bully, so much so that Jimmy nearly forgets about him, and this gives him time to take over the school himself (or at least set it in a frenzy) in all of two hours.
  • In Backyard Sports, Stephanie Morgan always talks about her best friend Dorothy, who is never seen in the game.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Most human characters seldom appear on-screen outside of Atari-style minimalist mini-games with the focus being on the player character (whom can't be seen since the game is from his P.O.V) being alone with the animatronics. For a while, the closest thing to a human character showing up as a 3D-model was William Afton's mangled remains inside of Springtrap. Averted in the Steel Wool-developed games which are more kin on featuring humans characters.
  • Warcraft:
    • The Lich King is this for the core campaign of Warcraft III, despite being one of the main villains and having his backstory described in detail in the manual (though to be fair, he is a disembodied spirit sealed inside a block of ice, controlling his minions telepathically). He does show up in the expansion.
    • Until "Wrath of the Lich King", this was a staple of most of World of Warcraft. The Big Bad was rarely seen other than his or her particular raid encounter. The Lich King, however, had a very prominent and personal role for the player all throughout Wrath of the Lich King, as does Deathwing in Cataclysm, so this seems to have changed.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Ryder, one of CJ's childhood friends, mentions his homie LB several times in his missions yet LB never makes an official appearance.
  • In the games Betrayal at Krondor and Return to Krondor, there is a character called the Crawler. The Crawler is never seen or heard, only mentioned through conversations and letters. What is known for certain is that the Crawler is some sort of crime boss, and is assumed to be male. He has an agent named Bear, who is very dangerous on his own. He also has powerful connections (one letter from a powerful man in a land called Kesh warns his niece to "Beware the master of Durbin. The Crawler's plot is a web within a web."). It is too bad a game has not made where you actually get to fight this guy.
  • The protagonist in the game In the 1st Degree is prosecutor Sterling Granger. The character is male, and you can hear his voice. However, he is never seen in the game.
  • Bain, the crew's brains behind the heists in PAYDAY: The Heist is never seen and is basically a Voice with an Internet Connection. Even in official media, Bain's face is always covered by shadows, making his true identity a mystery. We finally do get to see what he looks like during the Hell’s Island heist.
  • In Fredbear and Friends, the murderer's mysterious associate is never seen, only heard. It's not even clear if the voice on the phone is him or the murderer himself.
  • Campfire Cat Cafe & Snack Bar: Alessia frequently appears in photos and other flashbacks, but she is always seen from the back to hide her face.

  • The Big Bad of The Order of the Stick, Xykon, has a monster that he's keeping in the shadows for the final confrontation with the heroes. When they leave the dungeon, this shadow is provided by a pink Hello Kitty umbrella which, nonetheless, casts a pitch black shadow in which nothing but the monster's eyes can be seen. Even later the monster is placed in a box to preserve the surprise. Rich Burlew is well aware of this trope, and teases the readers by offering small displays of the creature's powers.
    • Burlew has also confirmed that whatever the creature is, it's not something he thought up.
  • Solid Snake is sorta seen in the webcomic, The Last Days of FOXHOUND but only as a featureless silhouette.
  • By the time Gordon Freeman arrives in Concerned, you only get to see his arm (and weapon he's holding). Sometimes he is in full view, but so far away you can't make out any detail.
  • In Blip, K's roommate is only shown in silhouette, and never named.
  • Old Cobbley, Sylvester's (possibly psychotic) homeless friend from ''A Game of Fools is mentioned in passing quite a bit, but yet to make an appearance.
  • Ssid in Bitmap World. Originally, he was not seen because he was hiding, however, after that storyline, the character is only shown as a pair of eyes under his desk. No explanation is given as to how he manages to get any work done. His first appearance.
  • In the webcomic Jix, the bounty hunter Maricax is never seen out of his armor, though at the end of his story arc, he is seen wrapped in bandages and some of his burned skin, one of his eyes and the tip of his nose can be seen as well as some green fur poking out of the bandages, but his face itself has never been seen.
  • Dragon City has a parody of Batman named Batdragon. His face has never been shown in the comic. This is because the comic isn't about him. This allows the reader to see him as the main characters do and none of them know his real identity.
  • Erfworld's Charlie, much like his real-world namesake, is never seen by anyone except a select few of his highest Archons. If he needs to send a Thinkagram to someone, he'll appear to them as a variety of whimsical symbols that either reflect how the conversation is going or what he thinks of whom he's speaking to.
  • Played with in Something*Positive. Mike's son is shown occasionally, but his FACE never is. He's supposedly grotesquely ugly, but you have to take the characters' words for it. It is eventually lampshaded in The Reveal. We never see the kid's face as anything younger than a toddler, though.
  • Precocious:
  • In Nicole and Derek, we have yet to see the grown-up Cerise Namir, only hearing from her in text exchanges with Derek, her cousin.

    Web Videos 
  • Oswald Sherzikien in The Cartoon Man and Return of the Cartoon Man. He finally appears in Journey of the Cartoon Man.
  • Midnight Screenings has Lettie, Brian Lewis' girlfriend, who "appears" in just about every video he's in, except she's scrunched down in the back seat (or working the camera, depending on how many people are there).
  • There are many Web Video Creators never shown their faces as their defining characteristic.
    • Cryaotic's adamant refusal to ever show his face is one of his defining characteristics. Fans always depict him wearing a mask of his mascot, "Sup Guy".
    • Dream's real appearance was unknown. He had shown rare photos of himself (naturally hiding his face, of course) that revealed he has dirty blond/brown hair, but that was the extent of what he had revealed. Eventually, he did a full face reveal in October 2022.
  • Zoey Proasheck was this for a long time due to her intense anxiety and privacy fears, and was famously the only main member of the Yogscast to never appear on camera. However, since 2014, she has been doing all she can to subvert this, initially posting some pictures on Twitter and moving on to scattershot livestream appearances. Eventually, during the 2015 holiday streams, she appeared on the main channel to sing karaoke live with her girlfriend and hosted a stream that included both extended camera segments and a permanent facecam as a donation reward.
  • Mostly played straight for Darkmindedsith. He doesn't record his let's play with a webcam, but he does have videos showing his face.
  • Supergreatfriend is a man with a boxhead who may or may not be a robot masquerading as a human, as seen here.
  • Girlfriend Reviews: Shelby and Matt went one year from starting the channel to showing their faces: one still picture on social media, and a few seconds of video.

    Western Animation 
  • King Features' Cool McCool and Terrytoons' James Hound both had the title secret agents with bosses who were only seen sitting in a chair but their faces were never seen.
  • In American Dad! we have Francine's older stepsister Gwen whom she would periodically mention and Stan would remark on how attractive she is, she never made an onscreen appearance until the season 11 episode "Now And Gwen".
  • Fire Lord Ozai from Avatar: The Last Airbender isn't clearly shown for the first two seasons. Most of the time he was a shadow behind a curtain or too far away to be seen in detail, or only his back or legs were shown. When his face is finally revealed to the audience, he turns out to be a surprisingly handsome man. Subsequent appearances are used to demonstrate that, appearances aside, Ozai is as monstrous and evil as they come.
  • Due to bizarre rights issues (as well as a desire to focus on lesser-known heroes), Superman and Wonder Woman were barred from appearing in the first few seasons of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. They were partially seen in one episode, but didn't make proper appearances until the final season. Superman was also usually alluded to via nicknames like "Big Blue" rather than his actual name.
  • The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein is shown from the coat collar down at the beginning of the cartoon "Thank You Girl".
  • Beavis And Butthead's moms — they occasionally mention them and sometimes call to them but they are never seen.
  • In Bob's Burgers, Linda frequently mentions and talks on the phone with her best friend, Ginger. Her voice is never heard and she is almost never seen; when she is, she is only shown from the back. In "Clear and Present Ginger", Linda spends the entire episode preparing for a visit from Ginger while the rest of the family is out. Ginger's arrival is constantly delayed, and when she only shows up at the very end, she is again only seen from the back, as well as a silhouette during the credits. The Season 1 episode "Hamburger Dinner Theatre" briefly shows Linda out with two friends, one of whom wears the same clothes as Ginger in her proper "appearances", leading to theories from fans that this woman was Ginger, but this was never confirmed.
  • In BoJack Horseman, Mr. Peanutbutter often leaves mid-conversation to speak to a never-seen entity only known as Erica. Also, on Tom Jumbo-Grumbo's show, whenever a bad joke is written in Jumbo-Grumbo's script, he blames it all on "Randy", who is also never seen. Some fan theories say that Erica and Randy are the same person.
  • One of the stranger examples of this was in the episode "I Oughta Be in Toons" of the Disney series Bonkers, in which Mickey Mouse is the focal point of the plot (he is kidnapped by an impostor who attempts to sign a large contract with a rival studio) but is never actually shown on screen (except for a brief silhouette toward the beginning) or mentioned by name, only heard from inside the cage in which he had been locked.
    • Disney had a weird, unwritten policy in the '90s that actually putting Mickey Mouse in cartoons would somehow dilute his iconic marketability. The logic was that if anything he was in was ever regarded as bad, it might hurt the whole company, so it was better to never actually do anything with the character at all. A similar policy was instituted for Kingdom Hearts. This weird policy was thankfully dropped in the 2000s, probably because people began to question just what the hell he actually did besides pose for merchandise.
  • Gazpacho in Chowder often talks about his mom, but she never appears in the series.
  • XANA from Code Lyoko. As an artificial intelligence, he solely exists as a program inside supercomputers. Hence he never takes a visible form, but his influence is certainly felt, symbolized by the ever-present "Eye of XANA" logo. There is one point where XANA does appear physically, but takes on Jérémie's appearance, and another episode where he appears in Franz Hopper's form. It's debatable that XANA also appears in the form of a black shadow with the logo on it.
  • Cow and Chicken parodied this one — the (human) parents of the title characters didn't exist above their waist. This was only shown twice: in the pilot, and in an episode of I Am Weasel (its spinoff), "Who Rubbed Out Cow and Chicken?" However, their shadows turned up too, and photos of them were of their upside-down legs.
    • One episode played with this; Chicken, rummaging through the closet, pulls out what appear to be the upper halves of a man and a woman, possibly their parents. After a stunned second, Cow says it's from an old school project.
  • The General on Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines was never seen but heard over Dastardly's telephone. He pays a visit to the squadron in "Stop Which Pigeon?" but we still only hear him as opposed to see him. Subverted in two comic book stories (Gold Key, Hanna-Barbera Fun-In issues 4 and 7) where he is clearly seen.
  • In Doug, Principal Buttsavitch was mentioned but never shown. In the "Doug Graduates" (part of the last episode before Disney took over the show, not counting the Christmas special), Doug and Roger actively searched for him so that they could get some words of reassurance, since they were nervous about graduating, but they never actually found him. Also, Skunky Beaumont was a character who was often mentioned but never seen. He appeared in Disney's Doug, and he is portrayed as practically an expy of Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
  • Eddy in Ed, Edd n Eddy often spoke highly of his brother, who never appeared until the finale movie.
    • Also adults in general they sometimes mention their parents and talk to them but we never see them except in one episode where we see Ed and Eddy's parents' hands drag them away over bad report cards, in the episodes where they're in school the teachers and faculty are also unseen.
      • Adults do finally appear during a bus scene in the movie finale, but they are only seen from the waists down and none of them actually speak.
  • In Futurama Leela would periodically refer to her ex-boyfriend Sean, he finally made an appearance in the episode "Fry and Leela's Big Fling".
  • In the cartoon Hey Arnold!, there is a character that Gerald refers as "Fuzzy Slippers" and who knows a lot about urban legends, the local guys and how to contact a superheroine, but Fuzzy Slippers is never seen.
    • There is also the boarding house resident Mr. Smith we never see him aside from his silhouette and hand and when they eat together he has Arnold send him his food through a dumbwaiter, one episode has the residents try to break into his apartment so they can see him but Arnold convinces them to respect his privacy after they see he has a photo of the residents whom he considers his family.
  • Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget is never shown except in an over-the-shoulder shot of him sitting in a high-backed chair which obscures everything except his gloved right fist (although his left arm has also been shown in some episodes). This was played on in the opening, which had Gadget run in and handcuff him... only to reveal that he's really handcuffed a glove attached to a chair with a bomb in it.
    • In 1992, Tiger Toys released an action figure line based on Inspector Gadget (despite the fact that the show hasn't had new episodes made since 1986, it was still popular thanks to reruns on Nickelodeon). One of the figures was one of Dr. Claw himself, making it the first time his face would be shown in any form. In fact, this revelation was such a huge selling point for the figure, that Tiger covered its face with a sticker on the blister pack, forcing kids to buy the toy if they wanted to see how Dr. Claw looked like. Once unpackaged, the figure revealed Dr. Claw to be an elderly-looking man with wild white hair, a goatee and an angry expression. The only other time this version of Dr. Claw would appear again was in the 1993 Inspector Gadget video game for the Super NES by Hudson Soft, where he appears as the game's final boss. Later revival movies and shows completely ignored this face reveal and kept portraying Dr. Claw as a faceless antagonist.
    • Dr. Claw would also been shown in the 1999 live-action movie, in which he is played by actor Rupert Everett. However, his potrayal of the character was a far-cry from the Evil Overlord depicted in the show, being more of a smooth-talking suave businessman. The movie's Direct to Video sequel, Inspector Gadget 2, made him an unseen character once again in an attempt to portray the character more like his cartoon counterpart.
  • Wade from Kim Possible in person; broken in a late Season 3 episode.
  • The nanny from Muppet Babies (1984) is usually only ever seen from the waist down; we never see her face. In a time travel episode we see her whole body but she is bent over while talking to someone in a car so her face is obscured.
  • Starswirl the Bearded in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, at least initially. He had been mentioned numerous times, was responsible for creating spells which fueled the plot of several episodes, Twilight dressed up as him for Nightmare Night, and he's a Distaff Counterpart of an earlier generation character, but nothing about his appearance or personality was known for a while (which spawned a fan theory that he eventually became Discord). It was later averted when he was extensively depicted in the comics and shown in a flashback in season four's two-parter finale Twilight's Kingdom (albeit stylized), in Three's a Crowd (also stylized), and finally in season seven's two-parter finale Shadow Play (this time in flesh and even interacting with the main cast, with a backstory behind his absence).
  • In the original Peanuts specials, adults were never seen (and only heard as "Mwah-wah" sounds, making them also The Unintelligible), although on at least one occasion the unseen teacher's hand was shown giving a paper to Peppermint Patty.
    • A few specials and one of the movies showed adults. The Little Red-Haired Girl occasionally put in an appearance, under various designs.
  • The cannibal tribe in the 1960’s Popeye short “Jingle Jangle Jungle” all that’s shown of them are their eyes in the bushes, their hands putting Popeye in their cauldron, and their silhouettes.
  • The Nightmare Prince's mother in Potsworth & Company.
  • The User in ReBoot. The closest we ever get to seeing the human operating Mainframe is a computer screen when he or she restarts the system. This is averted in ReBoot: The Guardian Code where the user is seen onscreen.
  • Rocko's next-door neighbor/unattainable unrequited crush Melba Toast on Rocko's Modern Life. We only see an arm here or a leg there, and she is never seen at all, only mentioned, after the first season (rather cleverly, the comic book played off of the lack of information about Melba in one issue by having her be a successful model... of products which only require the hand or foot to be displayed).
  • In the first two seasons of Rugrats, Chuckie's mom was presumed to be alive, and would be referenced periodically. It wasn't until the Mother's Day episode that she was finally seen, and the revelation came that she was dead.
    • In earlier episodes Grandpa Lou would often refer to his younger brother "Sparky" whom he had a lot of crazy stories about including one where he supposedly sucked on a bottle for "15 years", we never saw him.
  • An episode of The Simpsons had the main characters temporarily joining a nefarious cult. The actual cult leader, known only as "The Leader", never shows his face, traveling among his disciples in a limousine with tinted windows and making himself visible only by sticking his right arm out the window and waving to his disciples with a white-gloved hand in a nod to Rajneesh. We don't get to see the inside of the limo until more than halfway through the episode, when the white-gloved hand suddenly grabs Homer and yanks him inside - and the person wearing the gloves turns out to be Marge, who had escaped from the cult's compound earlier in the story. While it's obvious that Marge managed to overthrow The Leader and take his place to help the rest of her family escape, it is never shown exactly how she did this. Yet, it's also subverted because we do see the cult leader's face on big billboards and in the final scene he escapes.
  • An odd example occurred in the final season of Static Shock. The Teen Titans were mentioned, which was intended as a nod to the team's then-upcoming TV debut. However, Paul Dini was unaware of the fact that Teen Titans was NOT part of the DC Animated Universe, and thus the crossover that was alluded to never took place.
  • Most of the characters' parents in Tiny Toon Adventures were like this; if they were shown at all, it was from the waist down. The notable exceptions were Hamton's parents (seen in The Movie), Elmyra's entire family, Calamity Coyote's dad, and Plucky's dad.
  • In older MGM cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, humans are only shown from the legs down, with an occasional shaken finger for emphasis.
    • However, In the uncensored version of Saturday Night Puss (the version that does not feature June Foray's character), Mammy Two-Shoes is finally seen in-full for a split second as she runs home to stop Tom's raucous party.
  • In The Weekenders, Chloe Montez is commonly discussed yet never seen.
  • Timothy Goes to School: Mrs. Jenkins is married to a Mr. Jenkins. He is mentioned in the episode "Just in Time", but when we see Mrs. Jenkins' house in "Get Well Soon", he is nowhere to be seen.

    Real Life 
  • This trope applies equally to anyone considered a prophet in Islam — thus, movies about figures considered prophets like Jesus (Isa) or Moses (Musa) are often banned in Islamic countries. Muhammad is probably the most notable. Depictions of Muhammad (typically in Western media) have often led to threats of or actual violence by certain Muslim groups. This was not always the case note  and it's still a matter of contest among various Muslim sects.note  Until around the turn of the millenium, pictures of Muhammed were common in many Islamic countries.
  • Anonymous. Or at least the "true" face of Anonymous (which is everyone and no one, simultaneously). If one must illustrate Anonymous, the most popular images are a Guy Fawkes mask, a headless man wearing a suit, or a green-headed featureless man in a grey suit and red tie.
  • The Albrecht brothers, Karl and Theo, formerly some of the richest people in the world (Karl even being in the top 10), were nearly a complete mystery to the public before their deaths. What is commonly known about them is that they took over their mother's convenience store and created a business empire with a discount store chain.
  • John Swartzwelder has written more episodes of The Simpsons than anyone else but lives a notoriously reclusive lifestyle. He is the only main Simpsons writer to not appear on any DVD commentary and is rarely photographed or makes public appearances.
  • Until the end of World War II, the Japanese Emperor was this to a certain extent. For most common Japanese citizens, they had to avert their eyes when the Emperor passed by, and even the High Command gave their reports to the Emperor with him screened from view. This did not preclude his being filmed and photographed, however.
  • During his time in prison, the South African apartheid regime prevented any photographs of Nelson Mandela from being taken. Right up until he was released in 1990, the most recent pictures of him anyone had seen were from 1964. Most people, having only seen images of a middle-aged man, didn't recognise the elderly man in his 70s walking out of prison.
  • J. D. Salinger lived outside the public view from 1965 until his death in 2010.
  • Greta Garbo also refused all interviews and media attention after she left the movie industry in the 1940s until her death in 1990.
  • Thomas Pynchon is another well known recluse.
  • Banksy was an example of someone whose face was never seen...until a photograph of him turned up. A former collaborator, Joel Unangst, confirmed that it was him.
  • The Residents: The identities of the band members are secret. During performances they cover their faces in masks and grotesque make-up. In 2017, a year before dying, Hardy Fox revealed himself as the co-producer.
  • Inverted with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, where it is seen as illegal to hide or blur his image. To the point where Russian internet company, Yandex, and their version of Street View had to go back and unblur all the accidental blurring of his face.


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Alternative Title(s): She Who Must Not Be Seen


Smaug Attacks Erebor

Drawn by the immense amount of gold stockpiled by the dwarf king Thror, Smaug the dragon, after attacking the city of Dale, invaded Erebor to claim the gold as his own.

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Main / AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs

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