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Recurring Extra

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Granter of three Wild Cards' desires!note 

"Have you ever met someone you don't know, again? Like, you don't actually know them, but they keep popping up, like God is running out of extras for the movie of your life."

Character(s) with no relation to the main story who keep popping up when the important cast is doing something in the vicinity, usually to their inconvenience or discomfort. They usually have nothing to do with the plot whatsoever, and the cast doesn't even notice them. For obvious reasons, this can become a Running Gag, although their appearances often culminate in a formal introduction into the cast.

A level or two below Those Two Guys and the Recurring Traveller. Also see Memetic Bystander for when the fans take a shine to these characters. If he's always getting maimed or in trouble, he's an Unlucky Extra. May overlap with New Job as the Plot Demands.


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  • Aflac duck commercials from the Gilbert Gottfried era usually ended with the duck turning up in the vicinity of a confused bystander. It was the same guy every time.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Rumiko Takahashi:
    • Menko ("Miss Noodle") and Shiruo ("Mr. Soup") in Urusei Yatsura, a terminally shy couple who are always just about to declare their love for one another at the moment another Thundering Herd runs over them.
    • A similarly named couple showed up in Akane's soaps in Ranma ½. Usually they inadvertently fanned Akane's fears that someone was going to get raped.
  • Canaan has a taxi driver who always ends up driving the cast around; he is a big fan of Nene-chan's songs.
  • Cowboy Bebop had a trio of senior citizens who kept popping up all over the solar system, and even appeared in The Movie. The old men do have names, and Theme Naming pops up yet again — their names are Antonio, Carlos and Jobim.
  • Desert Punk features a tragic comedy example: a recurring set of parents and young girl who always suffer a misfortune such as being robbed, having no food/water or having their livelihood destroyed, the parents will usually break down in tears or cower in terror of their mortal peril while the punchline is the young girl pull a parents sleeve and exclaim 'I'm hungry'.
  • Digimon Universe Appmonsters: "Caught-Up Old Man" is a middle-aged guy sporting a Funny Afro who shows up every episode for just a few seconds. His designation (provided by the credits) is appropriate, given his only purpose is to get badly caught up in the trouble caused by the Monster of the Week, to which he always reacts with a Big "NO!".
  • Dramacon has a raccoon that first appears plastered to the bumper of the car Brett is driving to the convention. The little guy pops up in the background every so often throughout the series, usually scavenging snacks. He even makes a cameo appearance in Nightschool, another one of the author's works.
  • The third season of Dropkick on My Devil, Dropkick on My Devil X, has Hatsune Miku randomly showing up in every episode for some sort of gag.
  • In Eyeshield 21, there's a trio of super-fangirls who can be seen in the stands whenever singer/model Haruto Sakuraba is expected to play. Sakuraba had a lot of fans, but those three stuck by him even after he quit modeling and remade himself as a serious athlete. Of the three, the most notable is a short chubby girl with pigtails who faints every time she sees Sakuraba.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has its own couple of Recurring Extras who frequently appear in order to have their car 'requisitioned' by various military characters.
  • Hajime no Ippo has exactly one referee and two commentators. They're the same in absolutely every official match; the only ones that don't show them are unofficial or the ones done in the past.
    • We finally got a different ref in a present-day official match for Vorg vs. Mike Elliot fight, mainly because he took bribe from Elliot's trainer. Can't have your only one ref being a crook, can we?
  • Infinite Ryvius features two background characters, a girl wearing a blue mascot costume and a boy wearing only a towel, who appear at least once in every episode.
  • Ushiko ("Miss Cow") and Umao ("Mr. Horse") in Kimagure Orange Road.
  • The old men in the Love Hina anime.
  • The Miyakawa sisters in Lucky Star appear as minor characters in both the manga and only two instances in the anime, but had their own story explored later in their own mini series.
  • Macross 7 has the Flower Girl, an unnamed fangirl of Fire Bomber who appears Once per Episode, trying to give a bouquet of flowers to Basara, and always failing one way or another.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • The Mahora Festival Story Arc has Haruki and Yuki, the adorable kid couple who randomly popped up in all three days of the festival. They served as one of the background characters Negi saved from Mana's gun, one of Negi and Ako's opponents in the Best Couple in Mahora contest (they won), and some of the cannon fodder in the Mages vs. Martians war game.
    • A high school couple also appeared in all three scenes. Don't believe their names were given, though.
  • For some reason, a group of monks passes by the house in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo awfully often.
  • One Piece:
    • Pandaman. A joke character and something of a Running Gag in the series. Shows up in backgrounds of the series for the audience to spot.
    • A door repairman is commonly seen, along with a drunk who tends to get involved with mobs very easily. It doesn't help that his fans tend to egg him on about adding these characters.
    • Past THAT, in almost every arc, there are always a handful of nameless characters that will continually keep showing up; for example, the egg-shaped Franky Family guy with tiny glasses. No name, hardly spoke, WAS ALWAYS THERE.
    • One of Iva's okama squad, with bunny ears and flowing mustache.
    • In any scene with the Navy, you can expect the same crowd of minor sailors and officers to show up, doing basically the same stuff each time. Especially notable here are Vice Admiral John Giant, who is decked out with excessive Bling of War and seems to specialize in Rousing Speeches, Petty Officer Masshikaku, who follows Smoker and Tashigi around, and Commodore Brannew, the briefings officer who shows up whenever there's an Info Dump to be had.
  • Osomatsu-kun / Osomatsu-san:
    • The Sextuplets themselves are often this in Kun days.
    • Hijirisawa Shonosuke is the official bystander character in San, though Dekapan, Dayon and Nyaa Hashimoto often play such roles as well.
    • In Season 2 of San, the Girlymatsu-sans (female counterparts of the Sextuplets) often stand-in wherever a skit needs some generic female characters.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • A number of recurring character designs used in the background of various shots, which are occasionally given a Palette Swap.
    • During the Alolan saga, several background characters do not get recycled but show up very frequently, though this is justified due to grounding Ash to Melemele Island (and having many characters constantly visit the island helps that a lot). On rare occasions, COTDs may even get a second spotlight episode.
    • At the start of Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, there is a mother and daughter reading the story of Riley and Lucario. They have gone on to appear in most of the other films (with the exceptions of movies 9 and 17) mostly walking around where Ash and his friends are. They even appear in the Reboot timeline and the Evolution CGI film! They've even appeared twice in the main series.
  • Autor from Princess Tutu first starts off as one, but later becomes a full-fledged character in the plot.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • There is a little girl with pigtails that shows up quite a lot, though several "sightings" are pretty big stretches. Scroll down about halfway on this page to see an article on her.
    • There is one character that serves as this, with a twist. There is a fat, unnamed woman in burgundy that appears only once in any media, but has an appearance in the manga, the anime (first episode) and the RPG as a NPC who tries to set the girls up with her son. Considering she's a one-off character in the manga, it's odd that the creators of both the anime and the game thought to include her.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats has the mother bear and her son that watch the pizza cats be launched from the shop every episode.
  • Sister Princess has several people about the island — including a salesgirl, a fellow dressed like a stereotypical Frenchman and a short dumpy guy in coveralls — who are constantly seen in the background (and once in a while in the foreground). In a twist, they gather together during the climax of the series to see if there's anything they can do to help the hero or his sisters.
  • So, I Can't Play H!: Meshiyori is a silver-haired girl, who's notable for having heterochromia and an unusually high spirit levelnote . Despite this, she's a minor character who only appears in episode 3, briefly again near the end of 4, and isn't seen again 'til the OVA special.
  • Street Fighter II V — Gouki/Akuma appears in the background of several scenes but has absolutely no place in the plot. This stretches belief that somehow, in an anime all about the main characters trying to find the best and greatest street brawlers, Ryu and Ken both overlook a huge muscular man in a karate gi with burning red hair who seems to show up wherever they go...
  • Tiger & Bunny features a young redheaded woman with a scarf involved in the events of just about every episode.
  • To Love Ru has some recurring students of the Sainan High School:
    • Sayaka and Koyomi, the two girls who make minor appearances throughout the series. Sayaka usually wears two hairpins with short hair and Koyomi is the bespectacled girl with long hair.
    • Matome, the male class representative in Rito's class; he always wears a pair of glasses. In "Darkness" he sometimes appears with Ren.
  • Kelly, the hapless and perpetually unlucky woman who inadvertently runs afoul of alien robots who turn into cars in Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Her insurance probably didn't cover most of the problems they caused. Her name was never spoken in-series, and comes from a sheet listing the cast.
  • Trigun has Kuroneko-sama ("Lady Black Cat"), a small black cat with giant green eyes. She appears in every episode; even in the one Whole Episode Flashback over 100 years earlier (albeit cryogenically frozen). Her entrances tend to come out of left field (example: as Wolfwood digs through his bag looking for a book, he pulls Kuroneko-sama out of it). There are rumors that suggested the black cat is put in as a game between one of the animators and his children to see if they can find the cat in every episode.
  • The '90s anime YAT: Anshin Uchuu Ryokou is about an intergalactic travel agency, where this old couple would be present in the space-tourbus on every single trip no matter where in what galaxy they were going.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, a hippie couple pops up from time to time, especially when something dealing with the Earthbound Gods is going on.
  • Zombieland Saga:
    • Policeman A has an unfortunate (for him and for them) tendency to run into zombies. Luckily for him, they're Friendly Zombies. Unluckily for them, he doesn't know that.
    • The Fat and Skinny pair of Metalheads who show up at the idol group's first performance as "Death Musume" in "Good Morning Saga" go on to catch their later performances, even when they become a full-blown pop group as "Franchouchou".

    Comic Books 
  • The French comic Asterix features a band of pirates (who themselves are caricatures of characters from the Belgian comic Redbeard) who kept getting their ship wrecked whenever they ran into Asterix.

  • Crossed:
    • In the first volume, one member of the group of Zombie Apocalypse survivors is an unnamed man in a red baseball cap who never gets a name or really interacts with any of the others but still outlives a few named and semi-prominent characters before being killed by a Wacky Wayside Tribe in the fourth issue, after which he’s never directly mentioned again.
    • The first volume of Wish You Were Here has lots of people in the survivor colony (Viceroy, Edith, Christine, Chanice, Maria, Jackie, Boy, Sofia, Jamie, and Tabitha) who spend a lot of time loitering around group meetings, doing chores, joining firing lines against the Crossed and such but take a long time to get proper introductions and (with a couple notable exceptions) often suffer A Death in the Limelight or remain fairly unimportant even after they do get named and/or directly interact with Shaky.
  • The Belgian comic De Kiekeboes has a fat woman in a red sweater who is always being run over by the main character. To date she has appeared in EVERY De Kiekeboes comic that was written, equaling the four main characters and doing better than every other character.
  • The woodcutter couple in Usagi Yojimbo. They appear in the background of every other issue or so, sometimes interacting with the main cast (unwittingly helping Usagi foil the Neko Ninja's plans, even more unwittingly helping him feed and clothe Princess Kinuko, and very nearly getting killed by Inazuma...) and often telling one another that samurai are crazy.
  • In Watchmen, the Bernards appear repeatedly yet have nothing to do with the plot, save to sell other characters newspapers and be a Framing Device for the Black Freighter story arc. The lesbian couple who get into a fight just before the squid-alien appears have even less connection to the main characters. Subverted with the "End Is Nigh" sign-carrier, who looks innocuous until it turns out he's Rorschach.
  • Some examples from Marvel:
  • If not Jolyon Wagg himself, then the members of his family in Tintin.
  • A pair of hipsterish cops appear in the background of a huge number of Marvel, DC, and Transformers comics aimed at younger readers.
  • Similar to the above, it's lately become a common in-joke for Marvel and DC artists to insert artist Jordan Gibson and commentator/"superhero sartorialist" Betty Felon into scenes as background extras.

    Comic Strips 
  • The alien inhabiting the Negative Zone in Twisted Toyfare Theatre, whose life is constantly screwed up by the antics of a rowdy Thing.
  • Ted from Dilbert. Word of God says he basically appears whenever an extra character is needed and it's simply easier to re-use character designs.
  • Cathy had one nameless character who would fill the role of shopkeeper, waitress, receptionist, etc, wherever needed.

    Fan Works 
  • The End of the World (FernWithy):
    • Three of the six District 5 victors (the ones besides Faraday Sykes, Charlie Flynn, and, to a lesser extent, Thalis Dorgan), are never shown interacting with a POV character. Their final victor, Tanager Lowe, wins during the Time Skip between The Hanging Tree and These are the Names, and is only shown or mentioned two or three times afterward. It isn't even clear whether any of them besides Tanager are still alive during the 3rd Quarter Quellnote , where the only direct mention of the District 5 mentor or mentors is Haymitch mentions seeing the District 5 and 9 mentors playing cards together as he glances across the room.
    • Mindwell Larue, District 10's last victor (near the end of The Hanging Tree), has a background scene or two in The Narrow Path, and some background moments in The Golden Mean where Haymitch observes her reaction to the death of District 10's male victor-tribute, but she only ever gets one line of dialogue, right before her last and most prominent scene of getting involved in a fight with some Peacekeepers.
  • Johanna Mason: They Will Never See Me Cry: Several non-Quell tribute victors (one-eyed Drake from District 4, Gate and Agnes from District 3, and Baler and Flora from District 11) appear multiple times throughout the story but rarely talk, do anything related to the rebellion, or have significant interactions with Johanna. This is somewhat justified since victors are cast into each other's proximity by necessity, but past traumas and important duties keep some of them from getting to know others very well.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero there's an unnamed underclassman of Kyon who has run him when interrogating a member of an illegal photography ring and talking how him breaking a yakuza thug's hand was the most impressive display of that fight, between other moments.
  • The Palaververse: Mother-and-daughter pair Desperada and Conquista, respectively, appear in The Tempest for some commentary on the Fire Queen's post-issue actions, and in Mr Stripes Versus A Cthonic Horror, who happen to be the owners of a ship that the plot is happening on.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brave: The Hunk from Clan Dingwall appears several times.
  • A Goofy Movie features a quartet of nuns who appear multiple times throughout Goofy and Max's road trip. Two of them first appear in the store Goofy works in, while all four appear: during the On The Open Road musical number, the diner Goofy and Max stop at, a monster truck rally, and finally arriving at the Powerline concert as Goofy and Max sneak backstage.
  • Ice Age and its sequels have Scrat, a disaster-prone prehistoric rodent who wants nothing more than to harvest and bury acorns and who occasionally crosses paths with the main characters.
  • Throughout Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress, there are three schoolgirls who appear in her flashbacks, which tend to take place within many different time periods (Edo Japan, for example) and locations, while either sneering at her dreams or trying to pry her secrets. They make a cameo in Tokyo Godfathers. To some degree, every single character forms a Recurring Extra to Chiyoko's movies/lives/events.
  • Rango: Even the townspeople who don't speak or interact with Rango-like the javelina blacksmith, a vulture saloon patron, and a swaggering beetle-tend to recur in several scenes throughout the film.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's classmates Stacy Frick and Carter Murphy-Mayhew appear several times.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Stan Lee in all Marvel Universe filmsnote .

  • Avatar: Flat Character Mook Fike, a bald black guy in Selfridge's headquarters, two science team members who play basketball with their Avatars, and the Asian mission control tech on Grace's staff. All of them appear in multiple scenes throughout the film, but have very few lines and little characterization beyond their loyalties to one side or the other.
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes: Jake and his friend only appear a few times, but barely speak or interact with anyone else beside being bossed around and locked up by Aldo and the gorillas.
  • Ben 10: Race Against Time:
    • Alpha Bitch duo Candace and Stephanie are constantly accompanied by three younger girls who are training to dance at the talent show with them, none of whom talk or are credited.
    • Bellwood plumbers Mrs. Carlyle, Mr. Jenga, and Mr. Engels appear in several scenes, are mentioned by name, and share friendly nods with Ben, but none of them talk or are credited
  • Carrie (1976): Rhonda and Cora have few if any focus scenes but get several scenes as being among the crowd of people who bully Carrie and then get punished, then show some remorse. Later, they have a few scenes among the promoters who are happy for Carrie and then are left trying to escape her rampage.
  • Cold Turkey: One town councilman, an elderly farmer, spends all of their meetings sitting around, scowling, saying nothing, and being ignored as chaos engulfs the town.
  • In Manos: The Hands of Fate, the action keeps on cutting to two teenagers making out in a convertible. This is for no apparent reason, other than to tell a policeman that nobody ever goes the way the main characters did. Supposedly they were going to have a bigger part in the overall plot until the female teenager broke her leg (she was supposed to play one of the 'wives'), thus having to be confined to the car at all times to hide her cast.
  • Jeepers Creepers 2: One of the four girls on the bus with the boys’ basketball team spends the movie trying to avoid the Creeper’s attention like most of the cast, never really speaking up, establishing her role in the group or interacting with the three cheerleaders or their male companions.
  • In Time Bandits, a couple named Vincent and Pansy show up in different time periods throughout history, presumably reincarnated, as they are slightly different each time. Vincent always has an embarrassing personal problem they're trying not to talk about, and they're swamped by the wake of the main characters each time.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: Dr. Dealgood generally has A Lady on Each Arm, with said ladies being uncredited characters who nonetheless get a few notable moments (spinning a wheel to decide a punishment and trying to get out of town with Dealgood after Max blows up the methane plant).
  • The Mist: Lots of supermarket survivors (Silas the janitor, a father and daughter, three teenagers, an older cashier etc.) show up in lots of crowd scenes but keep quiet, stick to the background, and (in some cases) avoid taking sides as David and Mrs. Carmody come to blows. Four others, Tom Smalley, Mike Hatlen, and the Eagleton brothers, aren’t really part of David’s core group but show up multiple times and try to help out against the monsters when they can in the first half of the film, generally to their detriment.
  • In Battlefield Baseball, a group of people, including a girl in old-fashioned school uniform, a guy wearing just a fig leaf, and someone with a broken arm, appear out of nowhere to create a crowd several times during the movie. There's also a drunk and his dog who are seen multiple times, including the end, where it's implied that the dog is the narrator of the movie. Yeah.
  • Dick Tracy: The Club Ritz backup singers perform onstage along with Breathless in two scenes and get yelled instructions by Big Boy Caprice during rehearsals, but none of them get names or interact with the other characters whenever they're not singing or rehearsing.
  • Safety Patrol: Hannah's fellow cheerleaders have several scenes and are friends with the main cast, but get little dialogue and only one of them might be identified in the credits as the hard to identify last listed character.
  • In Young Frankenstein, there is a couple at the train station when Dr Frankenstein boards the train who are having a strange conversation about some guy named Harry. When he arrives at his destination, the same couple is there, having the exact same conversation, but in German, and the guy is now named Hans.
  • Toy Soldiers: A student named Robert Anderson has a few notable scenes, such as trying to call for help during the raid on the school and being identified as one of the students with a particularly rich father, but never speaks up or mingles with the main gang of kids.
  • In Trick 'r Treat, Sam starts out as one of these, but from how much attention the camera pays to him, as well as his frequent appearances in the title montage and the fact that he's on the cover of the movie, you can tell he'll be pretty important later on. A more conventional example would be the three kids dressed as clowns, who can be very helpful in putting together the film's complicated time line.
  • Eric Idle's character in National Lampoon's European Vacation just happens to turn up at the same spots all over Europe at the same time as the main characters, suffering increasingly grievous injuries due to their actions. He returns for more of the same 18 years later in the Made-for-TV Movie Christmas Vacation 2.
  • A woman with a large hat shows up multiple times in the background of The Double Life of Veronique (La double vie de Véronique). As this occurs in scenes taking place in different countries, and the film itself is concerned with the idea of doppelgängers, it seems intended by the filmmaker.
  • In Shaun of the Dead, all of the extras seen over the course of the beginning of the first half of the film appear as zombies in the second half.
  • Gregory's Girl has a character dressed as a penguin who wanders through several of the scenes at the high school. There's never an explanation.
  • In the Roger Moore James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only, the man who keeps seeing Bond do crazy stuff in Italy, probably without ever realising it is the same man (emerging from the sea in his car-sub; driving around the streets of Venice in his land-gondola; and escaping from armed assassins on skis in the Italian alps, respectively). In each case he is drinking and in the first two, finds what he's seeing so bizarre that he seems to wonder if he's been drinking too much (though not enough to stop, evidently). Played by Victor Tourjansky, who was the assistant director for these Italy-set scenes in all three films.
  • Done literally for a scene of Space Mutiny, with a scene in a corridor with Ryder and Lea having a conversation whilst extras pass them back and forth in the background. Quite plainly, the same two extras again and again.
  • According to the DVD commentary of A Bridge Too Far, members of Attenborough's Army (the actors trained to play the soldiers) would obscure their faces during death scenes (such as having a helmet fall over their face when shot) so they'd continue to have work, as anyone killed in a close-up wouldn't be used again.
  • In the Russian Super-hero film Black Lightning there's recurring character of a middle-aged Russian man with a drinking problem as a recurring gag of him swearing off drinking (twice) after seeing the flying super-car and taking up jogging as a means of keeping the 'hallucinations' away (apparently he never reads or watches the news).
  • Some people have actually made entire careers out of being extras, making them some of the most prolific actors and actresses in history. They include Tom London, Franklyn Farnum, and Bess Flowers, who was the most prolific actress ever.
  • In-universe example in The Truman Show: noticing the same extras popping up again and again is one of Truman's important clues in figuring out he's actually living in a TV studio.
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: Several of the unnamed, uncredited members of both the Refinery Tribe (such as the archers guarding the gate-a red-bearded man wearing pink and a slightly built blonde woman-, and the doctor who the Captain's Girl assists) and Lord Humungus's marauders recur throughout the movie without getting names, dialogue, or a place in the credits.
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials features seven survivors from the last movie, Thomas, Teresa, Minho, Newt, Frypan, Winston and Jack. Jack is an extra who survived the first movie, and he's the only extra to return for the sequel, where he spends a third of the movie in the background, joining the main cast in their adventures until he's unceremoniously killed off. He's gained Ensemble Dark Horse status for surviving as long as he did without ANY plot armour(or lines).
  • Scream (1996): Two guests (a girl in a gold varsity sweatshirt and blue skirt who is dancing when Sidney and Tatum arrive and a girl in a black shirt with flower sequins and a pink skirt who sits next to Randy during the movie) are present in most of the scenes throughout the long party sequence but don't have any audible dialogue and aren't credited.
  • Ultraman Zearth has an elderly civilian woman who repeatedly catches the antics of MYDO (such as seeing their Jets materializing from a billboard, and attempts to convince everyone else what she saw, to no avail. She even shows up in the sequel, this time with a camera at ready. She's played by Hiroko Sakurai, the female lead of the original Ultraman three decades ago.

  • In Airborn, the Lumiere triplets are mentioned in all three books and Matt sees them at a restaurant in Skybreaker.
  • This is what Hoid started out as in The Cosmere. He keeps crossing paths with the main characters of all the various books, at first in very subtle ways but with larger and larger roles in the main plots over time.
  • In the Discworld Watch novels:
    • The dwarf watchman Stronginthearmnote  is mentioned in passing a few times between Men at Arms, when nonhumans first join the police force, and Night Watch, when he is suddenly and shockingly murdered by a fugitive.
    • Constable Haddock also started off as just a placeholder that there were more Watchmen about than the main characters, but quickly became an Ascended Extra.
  • Don't Care High: Shopaholic Cindy Schwartz, gum-chewing Rosalie Gladstone, and reckless driver Phil Gonzalez are all classmates of the main characters who appear for a sentence or two every other chapter or so and get caught up in the hype over their new student body President. They don’t greatly affect the plot, but add some color to it.
  • The many courtiers around King's Landing in A Song of Ice and Fire play this role, although some like Lord Giles Rosby, the Stokeworths do become more notable as time goes on.
  • Before writing Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling made a list of forty students who would be in the title character's year. Naturally, familiar names will show up whenever we need to hear what a random Hufflepuff thinks about the yearly crisis.
  • The Host: Several of the nearly forty cave dwellers, such as Reid, Violeta, Travis, Carol, and Ruth Ann, show up briefly a few times to attend gatherings or participate in conversations Wanda overhears, but none of them make much of an impression or move the plot along in any way besides adding a bit to the feel of the cave community.
  • The Hunger Games: The District 7 female appears the most of all the unnamed tributes.
  • Macdonald Hall: A few Macdonald Hall students like Rob Adams, Marvin Trimble, Gary Potts, and Mortimer Day recur throughout the second and third books and get occasional mentions elsewhere, but are never fleshed out much and mainly appear for quick Butt-Monkey moments of misfortune.
  • Much Ado About Grubstake: Mickey the livery owner shows up in several scenes as a customer at the saloon or part-time paperboy for the newspaper, but his only particularly important scene is when he gets his head shaved offscreen by the Big Bad in an effort to intimidate the locals.
  • In the children's books by David Walliams, Raj the corner shop owner frequently appears in nearly every book and the short film adaptations, except Awful Auntie, due to it majorly taking place in a single outlandish location (Saxby Hall) and Raj wasn't born yet. He still appears in The Stinger, via a letter of complaint about his absence.
  • The Scholomance: A few students like Ibrahim's friend Yaakov and New York enclaver Jermaine show up briefly to be commented on, have a meal near the main cast or something without ever interacting with them for long periods of time. Nkoyo’s friends Cora and Jowani start out out this way in the first book but have a slightly bigger presence in the second book.
  • Under the Dome: A few townspeople, like lumberyard wonders Bonnie and Tabby Morrell, roadhouse owners Tommy and Willow Anderson, Food City cashier Bruce Yardley, and deputized handyman Todd Wendlestat, repeatedly show up as people caught up in the chaos or attending town gatherings, but rarely speak up or do anything important in the process.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The actor Frank Nelson literally made a career of this, playing essentially the same character (an antagonistic and smarmy shop-clerk) on numerous television and radio shows including The Jack Benny Program, The Flintstones, and Sanford and Son.
    • Bizarrely, the Frank Nelson gag was even carried over into the legacy comic strip Gasoline Alley, where Walt Wallet and his pals occasionally encounter the same smarmily obstructive Frank Nelson knockoff at various shops and businesses; once he even turned up as a police officer. Discussed by The Comics Curmudgeon whenever he recurs (e.g. here).
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): The tattooed pilot is a background character in all four seasons who attends briefings and card games, only ever gets one line, and outlives many more important characters.
  • A.P. Bio: All of the nonspeaking students in Jack's class are portrayed by the same kids, always sitting in the same desks. In the first season, only one extra, the chubby girl in the front-right desk, is actually given a line when she accompanies the all of the named students to a party.
  • In Auction Kings, All the experts, who are only on if there's a piece for them to appraise. Paul's dad and son also show up from time-to-time.
    • A few of the buyers and sellers are also repeat customers. Paul will occasionally mention items they've bought or sold in the past.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, there is Anthea, the wisecracking hospital emergency room receptionist, who has had frequent dealings with the gang, especially Howard, when an allergy flares or a robotic arm grips tightly but will not let go. One of the goth girls Howard and Raj date in the third season reappeared in the eighth as their guide to a problem-solving dungeon. Then there are Lonely Larry and Captain Sweatpants who first appeared in the comic book store and later as Wil Wheaton's friends.
  • Blue Bloods often does this with reporters at press conferences. While the reporters get very little in the way of characterization (and sometimes not even names) the same reporters will often show up in a number of different episodes, presumably intended to represent the local journalists who cover police and crime news.
    • The current record for this is a reporter by the name of Helen who has appeared in 22 different episodes spread across 10 years.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a number of these:
    • The most famous was their go-to victim, played by Danny Strong, who eventually became a minor named recurring character and then a villain in season six, Jonathan.
    • Should you be watching reruns of season 3 episodes, look for a shortish Asian guy carrying a skateboard. He's in many episodes and is referred to as "Asian Dan" by the cast. In the season 4 DVD, Seth Green, Joss Whedon, and Marti Noxon joke about his frequent appearances in the "Wild at Heart" audio commentary.
  • Chuck: Several retail workers at the store where Chuck works recur for the whole show without doing much besides hang around the break room. The two most recognizable ones (outside the main cast, of course) are Skip and Fernando, who only talk in one and two episodes respectively.
  • In "Spellbound", why did they need to ask witness Anna Leah for her fingerprints (since she touched the car of a man claiming he hadn't been near the crime scene) when she had already been arrested, booked and presumably fingerprinted for drunk driving and GTA "Evaluation Day". Even if the charges were dropped due to how she was trying to get away from a potential felon at the time, the arrest and related information should have still been on record.
  • Deadwood: The same extras are used throughout each season for the exterior shots of Deadwood. According to Word of God, the extras established their own jobs and personas throughout the town, so you'll see the same people manning the same shop stalls and going about the same types of tasks from episode to episode.
  • Doctor Who had American newscaster Trinity Wells, played by Lachele Carl, who reported on every alien invasion of Earth during the Davies era. She made one final appearance during the Moffat era in "The Power of Three", an Internal Homage to Davies-era alien invasion stories.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: The same uncredited actor plays Boss Hogg's chauffeur in most episodes of the first two seasons and gets a few Butt-Monkey scenes while assisting his boss, but is usually silent and out of focus.
  • In El Chavo del ocho, Godínez, different from the other "kids", rarely appeared in the "regular" episodes set in the village and when he did, he was close to a Living Prop. But, during some of the school/classroom theme episodes, he had significant appearances.
  • Frasier uses a few recurring baristas at the Café Nervosa set. A particular Indian actress appears for eleven episodes in the first through third seasons as the most commonly-seen one. Likewise, its parent show, Cheers had a number of background bar regulars, most notably Paul who became something of a minor supporting character.
  • Glee had a few, all of whom became ascended extras to differing degrees. Lauren Zizes actually joined the club, Stoner Brett auditioned and got a few lines in later episodes, and Jordan Stern (the neck-brace cheerio)...well, she got named at least.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • There are fifteen prisoners in Hogan's barracks and only five main characters. At least four of the other men in the barracks are played by the same actors throughout the show's whole six year run but are never once credited.
    • In a handful of episodes, the same red-haired officer is seen doing paperwork in Klink’s outer office while the main characters ignore him.
  • How I Met Your Mother has Ranjit, the... various vehicles driver; his only line was ‘where to’ or ‘Hello’. Laster he became an Ascended Extra when he started to get more lines and received actual focus.
  • I, Claudius spans the lifetime of the eponymous character (and a couple generations before his birth), yet the same actors always play the Roman soldiers.
  • Leverage has a burgeoning pair in the form of two FBI agents tangentially involved in their projects, who tend to benefit significantly by the association.
  • Lost went to a great deal of trouble to keep its extra pool consistent over years: Main Camp, Tailies Camp, Ajira Survivors, The Others (both post-crash and during the 70s), Kahana crew etc. all spotted mostly the same share of background faces who contributed absolutely nothing to the plot except when being suddenly killed as a Red Shirt deserves. In some cases extras were even asked to reprise their roles years after their original appearance, simply because events of a scene would happen at the same time and place.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the first season a knight in armor would knock various characters over the head with a rubber chicken at least once in every episode.
  • The live-action version of Moyashimon has the Four-Eyed Explorer, a bespectacled member of the university's Explorer Club who keeps showing up in the background. When he appears outside of Kawahama and Misato's room in episode 4, Sawaki even asks him who is he and what he's doing here.
  • Miami Vice: A silent, bumbling background character named Manny helps Izzy sell weird stuff or acts as his driver in several episodes but is never credited.
  • My Family uses the same actor as receptionist in any hotel the family visit. They never comment on it, but he always has the same personality.
  • Parks and Recreation has a few. For example, the titular events in the episodes "The Banquet", "Beauty Pageant", and "Telethon" all feature the same guy as the MC.
  • Pawn Stars:
  • Murdoch Mysteries: The same actors play most to all of the many constables at the station house throughout the series but it's extremely rare for any of them besides George, Higgins, or Jackson to have dialogue or plot prominence.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Stuntwoman Bridgett Riley played a minor character named Sharkie that kept popping up in Bulk & Skull's scenes between the pilot and "Life's a Masquerade" of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • Producer Doug Sloan had a habit of randomly popping up as a reporter when he wasn't playing one of Kimberly's relatives.
    • A bunch of interchangeable one-shot characters frequently reappeared in the Power Rangers Turbo PSAs.
  • Used to unsettling effect in the first episode of The Prisoner (1967): a mechanic appears and repairs McGoohan's radio; while he does that, McGoohan leaves, and moments later runs into the same, instantly-recognizable guy coming from the opposite direction, except that guy is apparently now a gardener. Although he is an extra only twice, he is very memorable for having a distinct bald, lumpy appearance and visibly unnerving McGoohan.
  • Buck Henry, a 10-time host on Saturday Night Live, played the same customer, Mr. Dantley, in seven different John Belushi "Samurai" sketches.
    • One of SNL's behind-the-scenes crew, production designer Akira Yoshimura, has protrayed Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek skits dating back to the very first season. The unfortunate reason for this is that SNL had zero Asian cast members until Bowen Yang came on in 2019.
  • Seinfeld has Ruthie, the Monk's cashier. Despite having at most one speaking part in the entire series, she racked up more appearances than any recurring character.
  • In the early episodes of Sliders, whenever the group arrived on a new parallel world and ended up taking a taxi anywhere, the same bearded Russian guy was always the driver.
    Rembrandt: So.. you enjoy driving a taxi?
    Driver: What is to enjoy? It is my destiny.
    Rembrant: You don't know the half of it.
  • Scrubs has a few, including Snoop Dogg Intern / Resident / Attending (that's right, baby) Dr. Beardface (pronounced Beard-fa-say, dammit!), Colonel Doctor, and Dr. Mickhead.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, there is a cadre of about half a dozen recurring redshirts, some of whom appear more frequently than some of the regulars, and all of whom are played by extras. The most famous of these is Lt. Leslie, "King of the Redshirts", who died and then came back to life, with nary a mention from anyone. Another is Hadley, who appeared in 62 episodes, but never had a single line. There's also Brent, Lemli, and Galloway, among others - though many of these characters had inconsistent names anyway, so it's a wonder they were given ones that stuck.
  • Due to its fixed location, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a high number of recurring extras. Fan-favorite and bar fixture Morn is the most notable, although there were many recurring station residents—Ferengi waiters and Dabo girls at Quark's, Starfleet personnel like Ensign Tannenbaum and Nurse Bandee, and Bajoran officers like engineer Neela.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise had a small pool of MACO extras, most of whom became very quickly recognizable. This made it awkward whenever they needed a MACO to have a large speaking role, because they were the only one we had never seen before.
  • Stargate SG1 and Atlantis directors Martin Wood and Peter Deluise were rather fond of putting themselves (and occasionally each other) in their episodes. If you look closely, you will often see them discussing something technical in the background or pointing guns at the gate during an unscheduled activation.
  • Jacob Collins in Trailer Park Boys is this until the later seasons of the show when he's promoted to a full character. Initially he is the cashier at whatever store Ricky is currently robbing.
  • The first season of The Vampire Diaries has Tina Fell, who appears in multiple episodes and even gets a line in one, but never does anything important.
  • In the first two seasons of Wizards of Waverly Place, Amanda Tepe portrayed various oneshot characters.
  • Game of Thrones feaingtures a recurring extra distinguished by an impressive beard, which is saying something. Among his appearances; he's a soldier fighting for Stannis in season 5, a soldier fighting in the Stark army in season 6, and one of the guards at Winterfell in season 7. Plenty of fans consider him playing the same person throughout.

  • The various helicopter pilots, particularly the French one and his extended family, who encounter main character Shautieh Ley's Rushmore Refacement everywhere they go in Bowling King.

  • In On the Town, Flossie can be seen wandering through several scenes with a friend, telling her the middle of some story about Mr. Gadolphin.
  • In the 1919 Broadway musical Apple Blossoms, a young Fred Astaire and his sister Adele played two characters who were named Johnny and Molly in the program and appeared only in dance numbers, having no sung or spoken lines.

    Video Games 
  • Club Penguin: The PSA secret missions had a recurring brown penguin. They are crying in almost every mission where they appear because of something broken.
  • Patches the Hyena from Demon's Souls is a scoundrel of an NPC who has a habit of luring the player into a trap to kick them down into, profusely apologizing when you escape, becoming a merchant and a summonable ally at times, then tricking you again later. The Patches as you know reappears in Dark Souls, an entirely different continuity, and managed to lived through end times in Dark Souls III, and then shows up in yet another continuity in Elden Ring. And in all those games, he does more of the same.
  • Pretty much every single Fire Emblem game has had Anna show up, who usually either provides tutorials or mans the Secret Shops. A full thirteen games into the series she ascends to the role of full-fledged playable unit in Awakening. This is repeatedly Lampshaded in Engage, where characters from previous games mention that this version of Anna reminds them of someone familiar.
  • The Halo games have several Marines who are inconsequential to the plot and can even be killed with no consequence, yet reappear plenty of times throughout the series. Of note is PFC. Chips Dubbo (recognizable due to his deep Australian accent), and Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker; Dubbo was a regular in the original trilogy, while Stacker showed up in every single Halo FPS until he was finally absent in Halo 5: Guardians. For Marines who only appeared in one game, Halo 2 featured Staff Sergeant Banks, noteworthy for being voiced by Orlando Jones, while Halo 3 gave us Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds, voiced by Nathan Fillion. Sergeant Johnson also fulfilled this role in Halo: Combat Evolved, but he became an Ascended Extra for the sequels.
  • The Hitman series has quite a few:
    • Agent Smith is a CIA agent who 47 often finds captured during one of his undercover missions, usually stripped down to his all-American boxers. In fact, he appears in every game except Absolution in some capacity.
    • Jason Portman, a nerdy Tech Bro and former CEO of Quantum Leap can be found in Hitman (2016) getting some facial reconstruction surgery to look like a male model. While initially only serving as a Shout-Out to Angelo Palazzi, he reappears in Hitman 2 as a member of the Ark Society on the Isle of Sgail, and being the subject of tech scandals in HAVEN Islands' mission "The Last Resort", in which he is constantly being badgered by one of the targets to sell his company to a former colleague (and another one on your targets) Steven Bradley, with whom he doesn't get along with.
    • Pam Kingsley initially debut's in the mission "A Gilded Cage" in 2016, but later makes re-appearances in 2 as a news reporter on various televisions in the levels, before finally appearing once more in-person in Hitman 3 as a part of Mendoza's "The Farewell" mission.
  • Starting from chapter 4 onwards, Mother 3 has a man and a woman who are pretty much in love with each other, although neither of them is aware of the other's feelings. Every time Lucas and Co. encounter them, the Ship Tease between the two becomes bigger and bigger. They eventually kiss during chapter 8 (off-screen and during a blackout, but still).
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has a trio of Toads who travel to the various locations Mario visits. Likewise that Disco Dan who seems to be either a step behind or a step ahead of where you visit.
  • Professor Layton games:
    • Stachenscarfen and Pavel.
    • Also, in every game bar the first one there is a team of 10 different charactersnote , 5 males and 5 females, that appear in various puzzles (and as background extras in Miracle Mask). The character bios you unlock at the end of each game mention them as "Puzzle Guys/Gals"note , and the bio for Puzzle Gal 3 in Diabolical Box outright states that they're a theatre crew that reenacts puzzles.
  • The Up'n'down from Rockman 4 Minus Infinity and it shows up in most of the Robot Master stages with different forms and patterns of attack.
  • Big the Cat from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, although he used to play important roles on occasion.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater: Ollie the magic bum in the games. He appears in some capacity or another in almost every game (mysteriously; as noted, he's homeless, but appears in diverse locations the world over) and never plays an important role, but Ollie was playable in the third game. He hasn't appeared in a game since the Underground games, which were the triumphant finale of the original soulful series.
  • Persona has company president and TV salesman Tanaka who debuted in Persona 3 as the Devil Social Link and a vendor for various goods during his TV show; "Tanaka's Amazing Commodities". Likely due to his popularity as one of the game's easiest Social Links due to not being able to reverse or break at all and can be instantly leveled up just by talking to him, he reappears in Persona 4, still running his TV show and peddling various things, albeit you can't directly talk to him anymore. He takes a backseat in Persona 5, having forgone his TV show (replaced with a generic one which functions the same as the previous titles) and instead runs a Silk Road-esque website called "Tanaka's Shady Commodities", which Joker can become a customer of if he buys and fixes the broken laptop.
  • Kuukiyomi: There are some extras who also appear in some installments.
    • The pretty idol named B.B. appears in the background commercial posters, in her gravures, in her training lesson and in her signage stand situation in the first and second games. She appears in the train machinist situation in the "Considerate Mode" and the concert situation in the "Considerate Together Mode" from the third game.
    • The 3 punk rock members: The bassist, the vocalist and the guitarist. The bassist appears in the 49th, 64th and 94th situations from the first game; 10th and 81st situations from the second game; and 76th and 89th situation from the third game. He also appears with B.B. in one of Co-Op situations when the train departs. The vocalist appears in the 58th and 63rd situations from the first game. And the guitarist only appears in the 64th and 94th situations in the "Considerate Mode" and B.B.'s concert situation of the Co-Op mode.
    • C-Ko's parents first appear in the 2nd game, especially the 72nd and the 89th situations. C-Ko's father also appears in the 100th situation of the third game.
    • The Big Bro and Setsuko from Grave of the Fireflies appear in some morality-based situations.

    Visual Novels 
  • Henry from Double Homework doesn’t have much effect on the plot, and it’s unclear why he hangs around the school so much, seeing as he supposedly doesn’t need summer school.

  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • The Onion Kid character suffers repeatedly as a side effect of Black Mage's actions, even as they travel to different cities and continents. His family and two foster families are killed by Black Mage, he is put on trial for one of those murders, and he is kicked out of an orphanage for being bad luck when a delivery is destroyed. Eventually this was subverted by the revelation that the Onion Kid is actually Sarda's past self.
    • The Real Light Warriors Missed the Call that hired Black Mage & Co., and are now always one step behind the Light Warriors (or being screwed by them).
  • The Order of the Stick has a pair of Flumphs, floating, white, tentacled creatures, who wander around and get landed on by (and save the lives of) falling main characters in almost every appearance. Lampshaded with a towering side of spoilers here.
  • Outsider: The Loroi commanding officers of Tsunami and Black Razor seen here show up occasionally thereafter, usually to jaw at each other in a way that indicates a good-natured rivalry including some sort of wager.
  • Keychain of Creation has a young man with yellow eyes and brown hair who reappears numerous times in various roles, such as a horse trader and bartender. He turns out to be a Sidereal Exalted who knows Ten Winds. Probably a Chosen of Journeys, given his yellow color scheme.
  • Real Life Comics has Alan Extra whenever a background character is called for.
  • Sakana has a guy with a cap with the phrase "THIS GUY" on it showing up frequently in the background. He seems to be a Chekhov's Gunman, because the artist revealed that he will have a bigger role in the future.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • The Shy Girl, despite only appearing in the background a few times, garnered quite a few fans. Eventually Dan merged her with a supporting character.
    • There are also several students that appear many times whenever random bystanders are needed, as well as the boys that hang out at the comic shop.
  • The Fan has the character Mustache Bob appear every now and then, usually in a panel's lower left corner.
  • RPG World had a Running Gag of a guy who'd just sigh and say "Times are tough" everytime someone interacted with him showing up in every bar Hero and his friends visited.
  • This little guy from Zap! appears at the site of every major disaster.
  • Zebra Girl: There's a kid who used to appear in front of Sandra's house.
  • Princess Pi has the man in the third panel of this scene constantly appear during disasters and assure onlookers that the victims will survive.
  • Sandra on the Rocks has a mother-and-daughter pair who occasionally wander through to embarrass and be shocked by Sandra. For bonus weirdness, they have also shown up to similar effect in Sticky Dilly Buns (here) and Ménage à 3 (here), both of which are set in the same universe but on a different continent.
  • Beyond the End has Kuro, an amphitere that accompanies Death. He was originally a cameo character, but his connection with Death turned him into a recurring extra.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner has the old lady who often makes remarks on Strong Bad while off screen, prompting Strong Bad to yell "Shut up lady!"
  • Parodied in this 5secondfilms short.
  • In Return of the Cartoon Man, Kim and Donnie start out this way, but they end up affecting the plot in a minor way when they help Valerie. They also take part in the third movie's final battle.
  • Vaguely Recalling JoJo turns the Villains of the Week in the Stardust Crusaders arc into comedic background characters.
  • In Noob, the webseries and comic tend to have T-Man show up whenever the scene needs a lone or extra Coalition player for a scene or gag, but not necessarily one of the other known characters from the faction. In later installments, he and some of the protagonists treat each other as acquaintances.
  • RWBY has an elderly shopkeeper who the writers have admitted was inspired by Avatar's Cabbage Guy (see the Western Animation folder). Like Cabbage Guy, he shows up in random places during the first three volumes and usually meets with some kind of misfortune to his business involving the protagonists. He stopped appearing regularly once Cerebus Syndrome hit at the end of Volume Three.
  • Eddsworld has Paul, a character based on Edd's friend and later lead animator after Edd's passing Paul ter Voorde, who frequently shows up as a background or speaking cameo but almost never actually has any impact on the plot. He shows up so often that many fans consider him something of an "honorary" main character.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has The Snail, who appears briefly in nearly every episode. Usually plot-irrelevant, though there are a couple of instances (mainly in the fourth season) where he actually plays some part in the events.
  • On The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, pretty much every one of the minor students in Jimmy's school are easily recognizable. While they show up in almost every scene taking place at school, they're also seen at Retroland and the Candy Bar store very often.
  • In The Adventures of Tintin (1991), Tintin's creator Hergé appears at least once in every story.
  • On Arthur, there are two kids in Arthur's class who have been in nearly every episode that shows his class since the beginning of the series. One is a gray rabbit boy, the other is a rabbit girl with a hairstyle like D.W.'s. The girl has never said anything, and the boy has had three lines for the entire run of the show, and none of the other main characters talk about or notice them. The girl, Maria, is getting an episode dedicated to her in season 19.
  • A cabbage merchant in Avatar: The Last Airbender who always seems to find himself in the exact same city as Aang and the gang as they're Walking the Earth and always finds his cart destroyed when they cross paths. His last appearance was about halfway through the second season, but was lampshaded in the last episode before the Grand Finale when Sokka is reading the poster for the play they are about to see. ("Sources include singing nomads, pirates, prisoners of war, and a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage.")
    • The cabbage merchant even manages to recur (sort of) a full 70 years later in Sequel Series The Legend of Korra. In a true case of Throw the Dog a Bone, it seems his luck changed for the better: the Cabbage Corporation is now a leading brand in technology. He even got a statue in front of the factory. Only for it to be accused of treason and shut down.
      Cabbage Corp CEO: No! Not my Cabbage Corp!
    • Additionally, both times we see Kyoshi Island, a particular person gets over excited at the Avatar visiting and starts foaming at the mouth and passes out. In the second instance, Aang isn't really there, so he suddenly gets up, pulls his hood over his head, and slinks away in embarrassment.
    • Korra also has "Feather Hat Guy," a guy with a feathered hat who appears in the background of almost every episode of the first season, prompting a fandom "Where's Waldo?" with fans scouring the episodes to find him. After not appearing for all of the second season, he reappeared as a disgruntled driver in an episode of the third season.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes had a few, one noticeable one being a woman with shoulder-length red hair, a brown turtleneck and a tan skirt, who became Suddenly Speaking in "Along Came a Spider", but never received a name.
  • Batman Beyond features a nondescript bald man in black that has constantly appeared in the background or in random moments throughout the series. The fans have noticed him so much that he's gained his own bio page on World's Finest. He has been alternately referred to as "Mr. Lucky" or the intentionally-misspelled "The Blad Man". It is possible, but as of yet unconfirmed, as to whether the character was designed after longtime DC Animated Universe director Dan Riba.
  • Bob's Burgers has a few reoccurring minor characters like the Speedo Guy, a Surfer Dude who goes around on roller blades wearing nothing but a speedo.
  • Several of the unnamed citizens of Marzipan City in Chowder pop up more than once, and considering their individual bizarre attributes, it's not hard to notice them.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • Di Lung, who would often pop up very briefly to utter his catchphrase, "Watch where you're going, you foo'!" He was essentially an extra until about halfway through the series, when he became more active in the plot.
    • Jean Bonne also filled this role after his demotion.
    • There's many others, including a duck with a paper hat, the parachute lady, and a weird purple alien.
  • Danny Phantom consistently has a number of these. Though it makes sense as the main character is going to the same high school for the whole show, they do seem to show up everywhere.
    • The boy with the spiky blond hair. (Who only ever got one line: "A freakisly large hornet!...Owww, my leg!")
    • The chick with red hair and glasses... and possibly braces. (She does actually get a role as one of the transformed geeks when the trio goes to the San Diego Comic Con. At least, it's the same character design.)
    • The black chick with the tall black hair and green sweater.
  • Daria's background classmates are kept consistent throughout the series, most notably Andrea, the goth girl who drops the occasional snark and writes Wangsty poetry. She's given some development though, such as when Daria and Jane ease her embarrassment towards working at a wholesale club (we actually see her smile), and at the very end of the series when she hooks up with Upchuck.
  • DuckTales (1987): Two characters created for the series ended up this way:
    • Vacation Vanhonk, a duck in a Hawaiian shirt, whose gimmick is that he's always going on vacation. He attends Scrooge's birthday party in "Sweet Duck of Youth", crowds Duckworth and the nephews on the bus bench in "Duckworth's Revolt", and even is an extra in Mrs. Beakley's opera in "Maid of the Myth". Vacation Vanhonk has a couple speaking lines as well, berating Gyro in "Sir Gyro de Gearloose" and struggling with Magica's shadow in "Magica's Shadow War".
    • Quacky McSlant, whose distinguishing feature is that he walks askew, makes one notable appearance at the start of "Home Sweet Homer" when he delivers Scrooge's mail. Other than that, he only appears at Scrooge's birthday party in "Sweet Duck of Youth" and also plays an extra in Mrs. Beakley's "Maid of Myth" opera.
  • Family Guy does this, but none of the recurring extras are seen in the same role twice. Of particular note is Bruce, who first appeared as an unnamed and rather creepy Spider-Man impersonator Peter considered hiring for Stewie's party in "Death Has a Shadow", and later popped up in various roles over the series first run. Eventually, after the show was Un-Canceled, he received a name (lampshaded of course), and became an Ascended Extra.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has a number of background imaginary friends like Fluffer Nutter, Billy the Squid, Two-Head Fred, Wheelie, Mucus George, or Clumsy (to name some that are given ones). This would be because the ones that consistently appear are noticeable in part of the Cast of Snowflakes.
  • Season 1 of Frisky Dingo had the ubiquitous Mr. Ford, a character who seemed to work at every menial job in the city from retail clerk to security guard to hospital employee, depending on the plot. Lampshaded in episode 12 when the main cast finally notices, to which his resigned response is "Yeah, my ass is everywhere." He was elevated to a main character actually affecting the plot in season 2 and the spinoff The Xtacles.
  • Futurama:
    • Number 9 Man appeared in the background throughout the cartoon series before getting an important role in the fourth film Into the Wild Green Yonder.
    • Scruffy the Janitor is often present and makes comments on situations that have nothing to do with him.
    • There's also a fat, balding man with an exaggerated Bronx accent, apparently named "Sal", occasionally seen in some sort of blue-collar job. The writers can not decide whether they're all clones or just one guy who can't hold down a job.
  • Galaxy High had another couple. The wife's name was Myrtle. They were actually an important part of at least one story, giving the main character a lift when his spaceship broke down. They may have been a pair of the Roepers from Three's Company.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Margot Yale and Breandan Quarters have moved out of the background and have become involved in the greater story, making them no longer an example of the trope named for them. In the four-part episode "City of Stone" a pair of statues that looked like them were smashed by Demona, prompting fan outcry about killing them. Word of God says that the statues were two other identical people who were not this couple, and the couple has gained larger roles in the comics — the woman being the DA representative on the Gargoyles Task Force, and the man bringing a doctor to help save the life of the mortally wounded Goliath. The couple in question even appeared, albeit with swapped names (Brenda and Marco), in another Disney action series, W.I.T.C.H., but only as a one time, not recurring (Greg Weisman worked on both shows).
    • A jogger who wears an "I Love NY" baseball cap who appears in a few episodes, and gets the occasional Spear Carrier line of dialogue.
    • Vinnie Grigori (whose voice mimics Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta) from Welcome Back, Kotter). This guy loses at least two jobs and a motorcycle to the Gargoyles' actions. In the Lower-Deck Episode Clip Show centered on him, he spends most of the show narrating his past troubles to a custom-built weapon called "Mr. Carter," which his accent renders indistinguishable from "Mr. Kotter", before finally shooting Goliath in the face just after the climax of a big battle that had Goliath's attention all night. Fortunately, "Mr. Carter" only shoots cream pies, and Vinnie walked away very satisfied with himself, leaving a confused Goliath to wonder at his identity. In the first episode of The Goliath Chronicles he actually has a major role, and saves Goliath and Elisa's lives before putting himself on a bus to take a job in Japan. Too bad for him there are Gargoyles there too... He is next seen being observed by Yama, one of the Japanese Gargoyles in the Gargoyles: Bad Guys mini series.
  • Invader Zim had many very distinct extras; so many were recognizable as they changed from one small role to another—such as a Ron Jeremy caricature who appears as both a taxi driver and a hot dog vendor. Some, such as classmates, stayed consistent though. Jhonen Vasquez often appears as an extra.
  • When Jem needs a band besides Jem and The Holograms, The Misfits, and The Stingers they use Limp Lizards. Their only song seems to be a wangsty One-Hit Wonder called "Broken Glasss".
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes has numerous, thanks to the Cast of Snowflakes designs of the backgrounders being constantly reused. Named ones include the Awe Guy; Chef Garbage; Butley the butler; Chuck the bus driver; Luigi-Paulo; Ms. Cheesebreath; and Apple.
  • Justice League: In the Unlimited era, there are three instances of this trope being at play.
    • Lots of the same Watchtower medics and mechanics are often shown working in the background while having little to no interactions with the regular cast.
    • Several superheroes in the expanded Justice League like Obsidian, Hourman, Doctor Mid-nite, Waverider, Ice, Gypsy, Atom Smasher, and the Creeper are regularly seen during briefings or cafeteria scenes but rarely appear in the field and never get any dialogue.
    • The Legion of Doom contains dozens of recurring super villains, including many characters who never get named and barely do anything besides sit around at meetings and (in some cases) get a few seconds of fighting during the Enemy Civil War.
  • Kappa Mikey has at least a half-dozen of these, including a pirate, a little old lady, a delivery guy, a biker named Beef, and a janitor. Whether or not Yoshi the cameraman counts is debatable.
  • The Middleton High students from Kim Possible milling around in the background when Kim and Ron are at school are quite consistent, but fans particularly picked up on two: a freckled brunette usually wearing blue outfits and thus dubbed "Girl in Blue" and a tall, short-haired girl who fit the image of a Butch Lesbian and was dubbed "Alex Sapphic", first by slashfic, then by the fandom in general.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series had a few characters like this, including their own yuppie couple and that large, bald, sunburnt tourist who keeps dropping his ice cream cone.
  • In Megas XLR, frequently when mass devastation is being caused (frequently causing everyone else to scream and run for their lives), we see a particular kid watching it who just watches and says "Cool."
  • Miraculous Ladybug has Théo Barbot, who, after his stint as Villain of the Week in the early episode "Copycat", continues to show up from time to time in minor roles with a different job each time.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has an entire stable of recurring background ponies, many of whom have fan followings almost as unlikely as that of the show itself. These include clumsy Ensemble Dark Horse Derpy Hooves, probably the most well-known of them all thanks to an animator's in-joke, as well as Doctor Hooves and Lyra Heartstrings, to name but a few out of very, very many.
  • The Owl House has a large number of unique looking recurring characters, most of whom go unnamed and never speak a single line of dialogue. Hexside alone has around 40 background students that can be seen at school or wandering around Bonesborough.
  • Phineas and Ferb has several kids who often make cameo appearances, often in crowd shots.
    • All eight boys who rode the first rollercoaster with Phineas and Ferb have a goodly number of appearances in crowd scenes. However, only Dimitri Popaunicolas ever plays an important role in any episode: he holds a red balloon in a rodeo, angering the mechanical bulls. Buford actually lampshades the group's status (or, at least, the status of the trio formed by Pedro, Dimitri, and the boy who remembers Irving) as extras in the episode with the second rollercoaster, stealing the poster to ride for free, noting that he deserves to ride more than them, because they are extras.
    • The most prominent example is the farmer couple from "Leave The Busting To Us!" et al., who never interact with the main characters, but often have something convenient fall out of the sky on them as a result of Phineas and Ferb's projects or Doofenshmirtz's schemes.
    • Another example introduced in the same episode is the teenage blonde in the "Bust 'Em" commercial. She has shown up many times since, usually as one of Jeremy's friends. Her only line so far is a censored expletive.
    • Another prominent example is the blond haired boy who wears a white shirt, green pants, and a green-and-white hat. He finally gives his name in the Season 4 example "Troy Story", Balthazar Horowitz (though most people call him the Ball-Pit Kid).
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) has the Talking Dog, who is a dog with the inexplicable ability to talk. He appears in a handful of episodes, but almost always in minor scenes where he provides some amusing commentary or gets abused in some way. He even appears in the movie, where he gets (repeatedly) rescued by Buttercup. The sole episode to put any sort of major focus on him is the Season 5 segment "Shut The Pup Up".
  • Edgar and Chauncey, in the various incarnations of Rocky and Bullwinkle:
    Edgar: There's something you don't see every day, Chauncey.
    Chauncey: What's that, Edgar?
  • Rocko's Modern Life had this in Filbert for a while, until he became an Ascended Extra.
  • Rugrats: Larry and Steve, two of Didi's students who have worked at several different disastrous jobs (thanks to the babies), including house painting, the supermarket, and the movie theater.
  • Sanjay and Craig has a lot of kid characters that show up every now and then in background roles and crowd scenes. Notable ones include a goofy boy in a propellor hat named Jeff, a red-headed girl in a pink dress and purple boots, a ginger-haired boy with a green shirt, and Sam Lastnamè, who happens to be a very popular character among the show's small fandom.
  • Several on The Simpsons:
    • Squeaky Voice Teen, usually seen working in fast food restaurants or other low level retail.
    • Raphael, AKA Wiseguy, AKA Sarcastic Man, who is a taxi driver, store clerk, plumber, etc. depending of what the plot needs.
    • Yes Guy, a Frank Nelson parody (see above in live action TV). In a homage to the original, he has Nelson's odd mannerisms and voice and always plays clerks.
    • This applies greatly to the children seen in Bart and Lisa's classes. One-time character of the day students like Allison, Alex, and Francine, who are voiced by celebrities, are reduced to this. In fact, due to the severe lack of female students at Springfield Elementary and Lisa's lack of friends, the only girls she is ever seen with are Janey (her fair-weathered "friend") and Sherri & Terri (two bratty twins who aren't even in her class).
  • The Visitors from South Park, to the point where they have a cameo Once per Episode. Even the creators aren't sure how many there are, to the point where they even held a contest to see who could find the most of them.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has a ton, to the point that Bikini Bottom has over forty unique residents. Most of these characters are known as "incidentals"- basic designs with the sole intent to populate crowded scenes. Despite this, a few of them were later given consistent names and personalities; a few of particular note are:
    • Fred, the green fish that frequently yells "my leg!" in various episodes.
    • Old Man Jenkins, an elderly green fish with a beard. At least three elderly characters were actually given this name until a consistent design was decided upon in Season 7.
    • A blue fish somewhat resembling a shark who switches his accent partway through the series and tends to get angry. He was later named 'Harold'.
    • Another green fish (Tom) with an....unhealthy obsession for chocolate.
    • Many other extras have been given names as shown here though they tend to vary from episode to episode. Sometimes, their colors will also inexplicably change.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go has a man in glasses carrying a penguin doll named Mr. Cheepers, often seen fleeing from the chaos happening in the city.
  • Bibbo Bibbowski of Superman: The Animated Series, an absent-minded longshoreman, who appears in the pilot (with minor plot-relevance; he's established as an informant for Lois who helped her on an arms smuggling expose, and whom she asks to inform the Planet of her whereabouts if she doesn't return from the ship she is investigating, a task he is quickly distracted from). He appears several times thereafter, often just to provide a comment on something strange that has occurred, though occasionally Lois or Clark seek information from him, and he often makes shows of support for Superman.
  • Silkie, from the second season of Teen Titans onward, was basically Kuroneko as played by an oversized grub.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) had a pair of cops — based on Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird — who would appear whenever the scene required policemen.
  • In Total Drama:
    • Several of the interns from Total Drama Action, as well as many of the characters' old designs as a Development Gag.
    • During the special, Chris even brought back some others (such as the intern with the hat, the serial killer, and the Eskimo dropped on Courtney) to be the "stars" of a fake reality show called "Total Drama Dirtbags".
    • Ezekiel becomes one in World Tour where he continues cameoing in the background of almost every episode.
    • Mr. Coconut is one in All-Stars.
  • Transformers: Animated has its various appearances of the Witwicky Family.
  • Reflector in The Transformers tended to just be an "extra" Decepticon, since clones of him were often used to pad out the Decepticon ranks. He never affected the plot and after the first few episodes, didn't get to speak despite a number of generic appearances. He had a minor role in the first part of "More than Meets the Eye", but that was about it.
  • The Venture Brothers has quite a few Guild villains that always tend to show up in places where many villains gather, and sometimes they get a bit more fleshed out in later episodes. In some cases they don't get that much more detail (such as Dot Comm and Tunnel Vision in Copycat's heist), but others, like Sergeant Hatred in the first two seasons, go on to play much bigger roles.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series had a recurring mutant who had no powers, but just looked kind of animalistic. He even got the occasional line of dialogue, usually pleading for his life at the hands of an angry mob of normal humans.

    Real Life 
  • As Julian Smith once put it about Facebook: "You know how on 'People You May Know', there's always that ONE DUDE that you know for a fact you don't know and never met him a day in your life, but he just NEVER GOES AWAY? I feel we should all just go add that guy."
  • A well-known phenomenon of urban life, a familiar stranger is a person you come across so often you begin to recognise them, even if you never interact with them. Of course, to them you might be an example as well. This is evident especially in schools.
  • 'Gray Shirt Liran' is an Israeli man who made it his lifelong work to appear in the background of the frame for news programming as often as possible, first gaining notoriety by showing up in countless sporting events and standing behind whoever is being interviewed or photographed (always wearing the same shirt) and then expanded his scope to any occurrence for which news coverage is anticipated. He's been at it long enough (and persistently enough) to become a local semi-celebrity.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Yuppie Couple


Tiny Toons: Mary Melody

A recurring extra in the show who is well aware of her status.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / RecurringExtra

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