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It took 15 episodes just to see Team Rocket's leader in shadow, and it would be another 48 before he finally stepped into the light.

We have The Ghost or He Who Must Not Be Seen, a character who is frequently mentioned but is never seen on-screen.

Sometimes it happens that the writers decide to finally reveal this character to the audience, either as a recurring character or just for one appearance. This character is Unseen No More.

Compare Ascended Extra, who is a minor character whose role is later expanded. May overlap with The Reveal if the appearance is somewhat shocking. If the character is only seen from behind or we only hear his voice, it falls into The Faceless or The Voice. The Faceless or The Voice characters may overlap only if they finally get shown on screen entirely. Might even be a subversion of Posthumous Character if the talked-about character is assumed to be dead and turns out not to be; see also Chekhov M.I.A. and Not Quite Dead.

Contrast also Remember the New Guy?, a previously unmentioned new character who is treated like they've always been there.

Related to Named in the Sequel, where someone who is initially No Name Given is finally given a name in a later installment.

Compare The Real Remington Steele, when someone whose identity was known to be fake/used by another guy shows up as a real person, and Not-So-Imaginary Friend, where a character who's presumed to be imaginary is proven to be real.

As this is a form of The Reveal, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Kusuri’s grandmother Yaku is first mentioned in Chapter 48 before finally appearing at the end of Chapter 74.
  • Digimon Adventure: When Myotismon first appears in "Forget About It", he is only shown in a silhouette. He finally shows himself in "Sora's Crest of Love".
  • Dragon Ball: Grandpa Gohan is The Ghost by virtue of being dead. While he's mentioned a lot, he never makes an appearance in the Pilaf Arc and most of the Tournament Arc, before making a surprise appearance at the end as a literal ghost.
  • I Belong to the Baddest Girl at School: As early as the second chapter, we learn that Fuyuhiko has a younger sister. Despite him bringing her up from time to time, we never see her or even learn her name until Kanade saves her from a pair of bullies in chapter 63.
  • My Hero Academia: While part of Class 1A, Toru Hagakure's true appearance was a matter of mystery because she was perpetually invisible. Her true appearance was not revealed until Chapter 337 when she takes a hit for Deku from Aoyama's navel laser after he gets exposed as The Mole, which refracts the light to reveal part of her face.
  • One Piece: The author Eiichiro Oda is fond of introducing major characters as Ghosts well in advance of them being actually seen in person. Dr. Vegapunk, the Marines' Omnidisciplinary Scientist, may be the most extreme example of this: he is first mentioned by name in the Post-Enies Lobby arc by Coby, brought up several times later, and makes a silhouetted appearance in the Punk Hazard arc. It would take until the Egghead arc, sixteen years later, for him to fully appear in person.
    • Hand in hand with Vegapunk's appearance in the Egghead arc is the revelation that the Straw Hats' likely next destination, according to the one steady Log Pose needle that Nami picked up from Wano Country, is pointing towards an island that has been sporadically talked about and shown in parts throughout the story ever since the Little Garden arc: Elbaf, the homeland of the Giant race.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: Giovanni, Team Rocket's leader, is hidden in shadow when he first appears and finally becomes visible in "The Battle of the Badge". He has since remained visible for the rest of the series. Granted, this also applies in the games.
  • Tweeny Witches: For the most part, Jidan is either heard or has his full face obscured in flashback. He finally appears in person when Sigma is revealed to have been imprisoned.
  • Yotsuba&!:
    • In the very first chapter, after Yotsuba and her dad moves into their new house, Dad and his good friend Jumbo mention another friend named Yanda, who was also supposed to help with the move but pulled out at the last minute. He gets several more occasional mentions whenever Dad and Jumbo have an outing together. He eventually shows up in chapter 30, becomes Yotsuba's Sitcom Archnemesis, and becomes a semi-regular part of the cast.
    • Dad also frequently talks to his mother (Yotsuba's grandmother) through the phone, and Yotsuba talks about her grandmother quite a bit, too. She only makes an on-screen appearance in chapter 86, where it is also revealed that Dad's name is Yosuke.

    Asian Animation 
  • Agent Ali: The Big Bad Uno only reveals his face in the season finale. Before then, his voice is only heard through him giving commands to his agents, and he's either masked in shadow or his face is unseen during video transmissions. Then Uno removes the mask in episode 12, revealing himself to be agent Djin, the former INVISO pillar chief who was assumed dead for years.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson is first mentioned in The Amazing Spider-Man #15, first seen with a plant obscuring her face in #25, and continues to appear as The Faceless until her iconic reveal in issue #42 almost a year and a half later.
  • Batman '66:
    • Lord Death Man is first mentioned in "The Tail of the Tiger Topaz", but doesn't physically appear until "The Garden of Death".
    • Killer Moth is mentioned by the Joker during his stand-up routine in "The Joker's Big Show", but it isn't until the main comic's antepenultimate story "Parker Breaks Out", where Ma Parker breaks him out of prison alongside Killer Croc and Solomon Grundy, that he appears in person.
  • The Boys:
    • Mallory is mentioned several times before finally appearing in person in the Highland Laddie miniseries.
    • During the arc "The Innocents", Malchemical is mentioned as being a former member of Team Titanic who was booted off for using his shape-shifting abilities to impersonate his team's unnamed leader and sleep with said leader's girlfriend, who is also unnamed but described as having orange skin. Much later in the comic, the rest of Team Titanic appear in person and are identified, with their leader being Jimmy the One and his girlfriend being a Starfire expy called Regina Dentata.
  • Doom Patrol: Dorothy Spinner's parents remained off-screen when she made her debut in Paul Kupperberg's run and continued to only be mentioned by Dorothy when she talked about her childhood in Grant Morrison and Rachel Pollack's subsequent runs. In John Arcudi's run (which retroactively established that the Spinners were Dorothy's adoptive parents), Margaret Spinner was finally shown physically, but Dorothy's father remained unnamed and unseen, with it being revealed that he died a short time before the incident that vaporized Kate Godwin and rendered Dorothy comatose in compliance with the Doom Patrol's tradition of cleaning house for every new roster of the team.
  • Fantastic Four: the Thing frequently shares anecdotes about his Aunt Petunia, who doesn't show up until Fantastic Four #238, and even then it isn't apparent that it's the same character (she's referred to as Penny) until she actually visits Ben in the following issue.
  • Hitman (1993): Men's Room Louie is mentioned repeatedly before finally appearing in the 23rd issue.
  • Scott Pilgrim: The first four volumes have a Running Gag of Mobile and Lawrence being barely off-screen but often mentioned. Both of them finally appear in person at the end of Volume 5, wherein Scott briefly confuses them both for Gideon.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Jon is frequently trying to get dates over the phone with a girl called Ellen, who makes him do stupid things and/or just plain insults him. After 16 years, she eventually appears in a July 2006 storyline that involves Jon finally becoming the Official Couple with Liz the vet.
  • Luann: Tiffany’s father was frequently mentioned, and when he did show up he was hidden in shadow or his face was covered by the word balloons. His face was finally revealed in a story arc in which his girlfriend pretends to be pregnant so that he will marry her.
  • One Big Happy: Buggy Crispino was for a long time only known through Ruthie talking about him. He eventually starts making appearances, but is still never seen without a bug mask that covers the upper half of his face.
  • Peanuts: Even though it's known that Charlie Brown has a crush on her, the Little Red-Haired Girl only made a single appearance as a silhouette in 1998. She does appear a few times in animated adaptations, though Charles M. Schulz says that those appearances don't count.

    Fan Works 
  • Hades Izanami's appearances throughout the first three volumes of BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant were rare and always had her hidden behind the curtains of a chrysanthemum throne. The only thing readers and characters saw of her was her silhouette. She makes her first full appearance in Chapter 78, where she has a private conversation with Pyrrha.
  • The Calvinverse: Socrates's owner Elliot went his first several appearances without the reader getting a good look at his physical description, much to Calvin's frustration. The audience and characters finally get their first actual encounter with him in the Calvin & Hobbes: The Series episode "Bodyswap".
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Applied to a location rather than a person: The Wolf is repeatedly shown to be based in a castle, but there's no direct indication of where it is, only that the walls are oversized but in disrepair and it's very badly lit. Only after the main characters deduce his location do several other characters independently confirm that he's in Harrenhal.

    Films — Animation 
  • A retroactive example with The Lorax (2012), which finally reveals exactly what the Once-ler looked like.
  • Meet the Robinsons: Mr. Robinson is talked about a great deal, but only appears at the very end of the film, where he's revealed to be the grown-up version of Lewis.
  • Robin Hood (1973): King Richard is the Big Good of the story and is repeatedly mentioned throughout the movie. He finally appears onscreen at the very end of the film.
  • Shrek: The Muffin Man is mentioned by Gingy in one scene of the first movie. He appears in the sequel.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut marks the first time Kenny McCormick is seen without his hood and his voice is heard unmuffled. He's only sparringly depicted as such throughout the rest of the series.
  • Toy Story:
    • Evil Emperor Zurg is only mentioned by Buzz in the first movie, but appears in Toy Story 2, and is the main villain in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.
    • Al's Toy Barn is also mentioned in the first movie, but both the establishment and Al himself don't appear until the second movie.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: After 42 years, the animated movie finally allowed us to see the famous Mamma Mia, momma Mario.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV is mentioned multiple times during Dune (2021). Despite serving as the Greater-Scope Villain for this movie, planning the downfall of House Atreides, he never appears in person. This changes in Dune: Part Two where he's played by Christopher Walken.
  • Since the Fantastic Beasts film series is a canonical prequel to the Harry Potter books, there are a few characters mentioned in the books that get introduced here:
    • Protagonist Newt is mentioned in passing in the first book, and he and his wife Tina are mentioned in his textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which got released on its own, with the proceeds going to charity. Harry presumably meets them at some point given that their grandson is married to his friend, Luna, but it never happens in the books.
    • Nicholas Flamel, whose MacGuffin is important to the story of the first book and who then dies shortly thereafter without Harry having ever met him, also appears in the series. He gets introduced as an ally of Dumbledore's in the second movie when Newt briefly stays with him in Paris.
  • James Bond villain Blofeld reveals his face near the climax of You Only Live Twice, after two and a half movies of being The Faceless, when he first makes direct contact with Bond.
  • Jaws: The shark is never shown on screen, only the damage it causes from the perspective of the victims. It finally shows up when Brody, Quint, and Hooper are at sea.
  • Similar to the animated Robin Hood example, King Richard is frequently mentioned throughout Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and finally turns up in the last five minutes of the film.
  • Signs: The presence of an extraterrestrial threat is made all the more menacing by the fact that we never see them directly — most of the time, all we get is a quick glimpse of alien fingers reaching under a doorway, or a leg disappearing into the corn stalks. Even when we do see them directly, it's only as a blurry image on a video camera or a silhouette outside the window at night. Eventually, we get a quick glimpse of one of the aliens without any shadows, but even then it's so fast that you'd need to pause the video to get a proper look.
  • The Sixth Sense: Cole, the Trope Namer for I See Dead People, discusses his ability to see ghosts, but it isn't until halfway through the film that we get to see the ghosts. That is, unless you count Malcolm, who was Dead to Begin With.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Emperor is referenced multiple times in A New Hope, but is not seen in the film. He appears via hologram in The Empire Strikes Back, looking very different than he would later on and mostly hidden in shadows.note  The Emperor appears in person for the first time in Return of the Jedi.
    • Return of the Jedi:
      • Darth Vader is finally unmasked at the end of the movie, after Luke turned him good.
      • Jabba the Hutt is mentioned often throughout the original trilogy as the crime lord whom Han Solo owes money, he doesn't appear until this film (excluding a Deleted Scene that was remade with Jabba's final design and inserted into the Special Edition of A New Hope).
    • Boba Fett was never seen without his helmet on in the Original Trilogy. Attack of the Clones shows Boba's face as a child, as well as that of his "father" Jango, giving us some idea as to what Boba looked like unmasked in the OT (since Boba is an unaltered clone of Jango).

    Literature 
  • The Graveyard Book keeps the Sleer, an Eldritch Abomination that guards an ancient pagan tomb, obscured in shadow until the book's climax.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Hagrid mentions having borrowed the flying motorcycle he used to take Harry to the Dursleys from a "Sirius Black". Black would eventually appear in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the titular Prisoner of Azkaban.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, several characters only mentioned in the previous books make their on-page debuts:
      • Mrs. Figg, the Dursleys' Crazy Cat Lady neighbor who was previously mentioned as having looked after Harry for them before he found out he was a wizard, is revealed to be a Muggle Born of Mages who was watching over Harry for Dumbledore.
      • Mundungus Fletcher had previously been mentioned in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with the indication being that he was the wizarding world equivalent of a swindler. He finally appears in Chapter 2 and is exactly as much a sneaky thief as the previous books presented him as.
      • An interesting example with Dumbledore's brother Aberforth. First referenced by Dumbledore in the previous book, then again by Mad-Eye Moody with the indication that he's the Black Sheep of the family, he makes his debut in Chapter 16 as the owner of the Hog's Head pub in Hogsmeade; however, we don't find out that he's Aberforth until Deathly Hallows.
    • One of the first things Harry learns about Dumbledore is that he defeated a dark wizard by the name of Gellert Grindelwald in 1945. Grindelwald doesn't actually appear until about 2/3 of the way through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when he dies telling Voldemort to shove it. It's also revealed in the same book that he's incredibly important to Dumbledore's backstory and is probably the most significant figure (in a bad way) in his life outside of his siblings.
  • The Inheritance Cycle frequently mentions the Big Bad King Galbatorix, but he never makes an appearance until the end of the final book.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain: After years of only being mentioned, posthumous Big Good Evolution appears in the climax of the prequel short story "Summer of Lob."
  • Seven Stars is a series of novellas. One of them, "Mimsy", revolves around a detective's search for a missing woman, hampered by the fact that she never allowed anybody to take her photo or make a portrait; the detective never finds her, nor even learns what she looks like. Mimsy continues to be a significant off-stage presence in the next novella, "The Dog Story", finally introducing herself to the protagonist in a scene near the end — at which point the reader discovers that this scene isn't the first time she's appeared in the series, we just didn't know it was her when she appeared before.
  • Several major characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are mentioned often in the first book but don't appear until the second or third — Stannis Baratheon, Randyll Tarly, Mance Rayder, and Balon Greyjoy, to name a few.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: The aliens' leader, the Big Giant Head, is frequently referred to and sends transmissions to them via Harry, but doesn't directly appear until the end of the fourth season, where his human form is played by none other than William Shatner.
  • All in the Family: George Jefferson is often mentioned on the show but does not appear until "Henry's Farewell" in Season 4. That's because producer Norman Lear's choice to play George, Sherman Hemsley, was appearing in a Broadway musical at the time and the role was left open until he was available.
  • Babylon 5: In Season 4, William Edgars of Edgars Industries communicates multiple times with Michael Garibaldi, deliberately choosing an audio-only feed each time. It's not until "The Exercise of Vital Powers", most of the way through the season, that Garibaldi (and the audience) finally sees his face.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Howard and Bernadette's two young children are often discussed but are never seen until "The Stockholm Syndrome", the final episode of the series.
    • Except for his mother Mary, who is a recurring character, and his sister Missy, who first appears in Season 1, most of the people from Sheldon's childhood are mentioned often but unseen for the most part. His grandmother Constance (A.K.A. Meemaw) appears in Season 9, and older brother Georgie in Season 11. All of them, plus his deceased father, appear in the Spin-Off Young Sheldon.
    • Howard having lost his virginity to his second cousin Jeanie, is a recurring joke throughout the series, but Jeanie herself doesn't appear until Season 8 episode "The Prom Equivalency".
  • BOB ❤️ ABISHOLA:
    • Bob's ex-wife Lorraine and Abishola's husband Tayo are often mentioned early on. Lorraine first appears in late-season one episode "Sock Wife" and Tayo first appears in season two episode "The Wrong Adebambo".
    • Abishola's mother Ebunoluwa is only mentioned a few times in the first season. When she makes her first few appearances in the second season, it is via webcam with most of her face out of frame, making it seem like she is going to be The Faceless. Her full face and body are shown for the first time in the Season 3 premiere "Welcome to Lagos".
  • Boris:
    • Dr. Cane, the network director often mentioned since the first episode, spends most of the show either as The Ghost or The Faceless. When he's The Faceless, he's usually seen from behind, sitting on a chair and talking to the character in front of him. His face is revealed for the first time in the next-to-last episode, although he oddly goes back to being The Faceless in the finale.
    • In Season 1, the crew often mentions the main villain of the Soap Within a Show, known as "The Count". We only get to see him in Season 2, when his actor Mariano appears (on the other hand, the actor Mariano himself is never mentioned by name until the episode where he appears for the first time).
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: At first, Alan Brady is only mentioned. When he starts appearing, he's The Faceless. In later seasons, his face is clearly seen.
  • Doom Patrol (2019):
    • The team's iconic adversaries the Brain and Monsieur Mallah are first mentioned in the first season (the former mentioned by Mento in the episode "Doom Patrol Patrol" and both mentioned by Mr. Nobody in a flashback of his time as Eric Morden in "Penultimate Patrol", the former by name and the latter indirectly) before finally appearing in person in the third season episode "Vacay Patrol".
    • Dorothy Spinner is first shown from the back at the first season's conclusion, but has her face shown at last starting with the second season.
  • The Drew Carey Show: For most of the first season, Mr. Bell (Drew's boss at this point in the series) doesn't appear on-camera, only being heard through an intercom. At the end of the Season Finale, Winfred-Lauder's new Dutch owners fire Mr. Bell, setting up Season 2's debut of the far better known Mr. Wick. It is at this point where Mr. Bell makes his first and only on-screen appearance.
  • In Elementary, Morland Holmes is frequently mentioned throughout the first three seasons, but doesn't actually appear until Season 4, when he becomes a Recurring Character.
  • Early seasons of Empty Nest have the Westons mention a third sister named Emily while Harry lives with Carol and Barbara. After Kristy McNichol (Barbara) decided to leave the show, Emily — who was previously described as being away at college — finally showed up and moved back home.
  • Frasier: Whilst the show's most famous Ghost, Maris, remains unseen throughoutnote  Roz's mother finally makes an on-screen appearance after six seasons of mentions, and Daphne's parents make their first appearances in "Something Borrowed, Someone Blue" and "Moons Over Seattle", respectively.
  • Friends:
    • Phoebe's father. In the Season 2 episode "The One With Phoebe's Dad", Phoebe wants to meet her father (it turns out the guy from the pictures isn't him) but eventually decides she's not ready for that. He remains unseen until a Season 5 episode where he makes his first and only appearance.
    • Speaking of fathers, Chandler repeatedly refers to his father, mentioning him heading a gay burlesque show in Vegas, and how his father's coming out and divorce from his mother really gave him some issues. It's not until Season 7 where Monica convinces him to patch things up with his father so he can attend their wedding, with Kathleen Turner playing the role.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Stannis Baratheon in Season 1 is only occasionally talked about by other characters. Stephen Dillane portrays him from Season 2 onward.
    • Balon Greyjoy never appears in the first season, and is talked about by other characters. Patrick Malahide portrays him in Season 2.
    • Mance Rayder is mentioned in the first two seasons. Ciarán Hinds portrays him from Season 3 onward.
    • Roose Bolton's bastard, Ramsay Snow, is first mentioned in Season 2. He later appears in Season 3, and his name is only revealed in "Mhysa", the Season 3 finale, when it's revealed he's played by Iwan Rheon.
  • Gilmore Girls: Lane Kim's father is mentioned several times throughout the show's seven original seasons but is never seen. Only in the Netflix followup, "A Year in the Life", does he appear — only to give a casual wave and disappear once again.
  • The Good Place:
    • In "Everything Is Fine", Michael mentions Doug Forcett, the only man who has figured out how the Afterlife actually works. He finally appears in Season 3 when Michael and Eleanor seek to find him.
    • The Judge is mentioned several times before she makes her proper first appearance in the Season 2 episode "The Burrito".
    • Early on in Season 4, there is a brief mention of a Disco Janet, who appears in Season 4 as part of the army of Janets who come to stop the Judge from rebooting all of existence.
    • Jason often mentions a buddy of his named Donkey Doug, whom we finally meet in Season 3 and who is revealed to be Jason's father.
  • Grace Under Fire: Grace's ex-husband Jimmy is The Unseen for the first season, never appearing on-screen and only being heard when he's in a television ad that's not shown to the audience. He becomes a recurring character in the second season.
  • Hannah Montana: Uncle Earl is the character mentioned whenever the Stewarts need to talk about weird events in their family. He's finally shown on-screen in "(We're So Sorry) Uncle Earl", where he's just as crazy and hammy as they built him up to be.
  • Happy Days:
    • Jenny Piccalo is Joanie's off-screen best friend for quite a few seasons, but in Season 8 she finally appears and becomes a recurring character.
    • For the first two seasons, Arnold is sometimes mentioned but not seen. He becomes a regular on-screen character in Season 3.
  • Haven: Laverne is the dispatcher for Haven PD that Nathan frequently calls over the radio, but she's never seen in person until the Season 5 episode "Blind Spot".
  • Wilson revealed his face when the cast gave a final bow at the end of the last episode of Home Improvement.
  • House of Anubis: In Season 1, Nina's Gran is only mentioned in conversation, or in one case, heard over the phone, due to her being in America while Nina is in England. In Season 2, however, she becomes a recurring character, having gone to England on vacation.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The titular mother. When talking to his children, Ted reveals many facts about her, but she remains unseen until "Something New", the Season 8 finale. In Season 9, she appears in both episodes.
    • The "Slutty Pumpkin", a girl wearing a sexy pumpkin costume at a Halloween party, is the plot point of a Season 1 episode, though Ted fails to find her. She finally appears in Season 7 played by Katie Holmes.
  • iCarly: Sam's mom and Carly's dad are often mentioned by their daughters throughout the show but not shown. The former eventually appears in the episode "iSam's Mom" and the latter in the series finale "iGoodbye".
  • Just Shoot Me!: It happens a few times.
    • Jack's wife Allie is constantly mentioned throughout the series, but only makes a physical appearance in the fifth season finale.
    • Nina will often mention her friend and roommate Binny. In one episode that parodies Psycho, Elliot and Finch begin to wonder if Binny is real at all since no one besides Nina seems to know her. Elliot and Finch break into Nina's apartment to discover that she's in fact real, but apparently won't go outside due to botched plastic surgery.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Hyacinth's sister Violet and her husband Bruce are mentioned throughout the series, but do not appear on screen until the fifth series.
  • The Latest Buzz: Amanda is constantly seen hounding on her phone for "Daddy's Assistant", who works for her father. Said man finally appears in person in the series finale, where the gang remark that this is the guy she has been pestering this whole time.
  • Letterkenny:
    • Ellen, don't mention the finger up the bum
    • The Ginger and Boots, to be used "only in emergencies," as at the end of Season 1
    • Jivin' Pete, who starts as a "real good guy" but is "not really a goods guy any more" when revealed in Season 3
  • Lois & Clark: Perry White's wife Alice is mentioned numerous times throughout the series, often in relation to his ongoing struggles with his marriage, but doesn't appear (even when they both are kidnapped by a cult leader she remains offscreen) up until the second-to-last episode in Season 4.
  • Lost:
    • Occasionally, the show depicts its own cheesy Show Within a Show called "Exposé", mostly via island survivor Nikki's flashbacks to her time as an actress. In one such flashback, the show's supposedly long-running Ghost Big Bad turns out to be played by none other than Billy Dee Williams.
    • Jacob is first mentioned early in Season 3, but doesn't appear until "The Incident", the Season 5 finale.
    • During Desmond's flashbacks at the end of Season 2, Kelvin mentions his former partner in the hatch, Radzinsky, several times and even shows Desmond the bloodstain from his suicide. Radzinsky is eventually seen in season 5 when the main characters Travel back in time to the 70's.
  • Lucifer deals a lot of the struggles the titular character, the devil himself, has with his father, God. God is frequently mentioned by the spiritual characters of the show and in therapy lessons, but doesn't make a physical appearance until the mid-season finale of season 5.
  • On Married... with Children: Al and his coworkers at Gary's Shoes have never seen Gary, to the point where Al believes that it's just the store's name. In Season 9, Gary makes a visit where they learn that she's the 401st richest American because of the store's poor performance. Gary becomes a recurring character for the rest of the series.
  • For most of The Nanny Fran's father is often mentioned but never appears, with Maxwell questioning his existence. This changes when appears twice during the final season.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: After years of being mentioned, we finally get to meet Kensi's civilian girlfriends Mindy, Mandy, Tiffany, Tiffany, and Cat during her wedding to Marty Deeks in the latter half of Season 10.
  • Only Fools and Horses: Boycie's wife Marlene is a Ghost in the first three seasons, with a Running Gag that Boycie will mention her, say "You remember Marlene?", and get the reply, "All the boys remember Marlene." She appears in the fourth season episode "Sleeping Dogs Lie", and is a recurring character from then on.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Jerry's wife Gayle is occasionally mentioned throughout earlier seasons before making a proper appearance in the Season 5 episode "Ron and Diane", played by Christie Brinkley. This begins a Running Gag where the characters constantly question why someone who looks like her married Jerry.
    • Mayor Gunderson doesn't make any appearances until the final season, and even then, he's dead.
  • Peep Show:
    • Big Suze is mentioned in the second episode but does not appear until Series 3
    • Mark's dad is semi-legendary until Series 7
  • Psych: Shawn and the rest of the crew frequently refer to Dobson, an SBPD officer, for eight years, but never actually interact with him. All we're told is that he supposedly looks like Val Kilmer. In "The Break-up", the series finale, Dobson is seen for the first and last time for less than a minute and he's played by Val Kilmer.
  • Throughout Rhoda, Carlton the Doorman is often heard over the speaker, but never actually appears on screen, unless you count the episode where he shows up to a party of Rhoda's in a gorilla mask. Two years after the show ended, Carlton ended up being the subject of an attempted animated spin-off that never made it past the pilot episode, "Carlton Your Doorman". Carlton finally appears on screen (albeit in animated form) as a tall, thin young man with shoulder-length blond hair and a mustache.
  • This was supposed to happen in Seinfeld with George Steinbrenner, Real Life owner of the New York Yankees, who was a recurring The Faceless character voiced by Larry David, with his back played by Lee Bear. A few scenes in which the real George Steinbrenner cameoed as the character were filmed for the Season 7 finale "The Invitations", but ultimately cut.
  • Supergirl:
    • Kara's "more famous cousin", Superman, is constantly teased in Season 1 as the show's favorite Easter Egg, being constantly mentioned and rarely directly. Even the few times he does appear, he's The Faceless. This finally changes in Season 2 following the network change for the show, where he shows up proper and assists Kara as a Guest-Star Party Member when he does.
    • Lex Luthor and his past crimes are also referenced frequently, and some of his weapons (including his Powered Armor) and even one of his security houses are used by his family, but, aside from some childhood flashbacks, he doesn't appear properly until Season 4 as the Big Bad.
  • Diane in Twin Peaks was only known as the faceless secretary whom Agent Cooper constantly addresses over his tape recorder for over 25 years, leading some to believe Cooper made her up. She finally appears in the series's 2017 revival, played by Laura Dern.
  • The Walking Dead Television Universe:

    Multiple Media 
  • The Beginning After the End: Given how the novel does not contain any illustrations of the characters outside of covers, on top of the webcomic being several volumes (and thus a few years) behind the novel, many characters did not receive visual depictions for a very long time until being depicted in either the webcomic or in external official tie-in illustrationsnote . However, there are a few traditional examples of characters only being mentioned in passing before eventually appearing in person much later on in the story.
    • The Big Bad Agrona was first mentioned in Volume 4 of the novel during Windsom's exposition about the Divine Conflict to Arthur. He technically made his first appearance at the end of Volume 6, but it was only him possessing the now-human Sylvie to have a private conversation with Arthur. He made his first proper physical appearance in Volume 9 given how it takes place in his domain of Alacrya. Outside of the novels, he was featured in silhouette during Season 5 of the webcomic in a flashback to when he brought the news of Sylvia's apparent death to her father and his Arch-Enemy Kezess, but his actual appearance was finally revealed in a tie-in illustration released after the end of Volume 9.
    • Similarly, the aforementioned Kezess was also first mentioned in that same exposition from Windsom, but he made his first appearance much earlier compared to his nemesis in Volume 5 when Windsom brings Arthur and Sylvie to Epheotus for training.
    • Windsom's exposition also has him bring up how Agrona and his clan had been experimenting upon and interbreeding with the populace of Alacrya over the course of generations. While the War Arc and onward would show some of these hybrids, most notably the Scythes and Retainers, Volume 10 makes it apparent that he was specifically referring to the newly-introduced Wraiths, an elite group of hybrid Super-Soldiers whom Agrona created to be asura-killers.
    • Early on in the novel, the backstory of Arthur's past self King Grey is elaborated upon, as he mentions the death of his Parental Substitute Olivia Willbeck and how it led him to become a vengeful and lonely Warrior King. In the novel, he describes the sequence of events in question, while the Webcomic only has a flashback to a young Grey seeing her body being carted away without any additional context. Headmaster Willbeck would not make her first physical appearance until the start of Volume 6, as part of a major shift in the plot as Arthur's past life is once again revisited.
    • Elijah mentions that he spent his youth in the dwarven kingdom of Darv being raised by a elder named Rahdeas, whom he maintains correspondence with even after leaving Darv. Rahdeas finally appears in person at the start of Volume 6 as the new representative of the dwarves on the Council following the deaths of the Greysunders.
    • Throughout the novel, it is mentioned that Jasmine does not have a good relationship with the rest of her family, specifically her Archnemesis Dad Trodius. Trodius would not make his first appearance until Volume 7, when Arthur ends up having to work alongside him at the height of the war.
    • The Lost Prince Mordain was alluded to in Volume 9 in a conversation between Windsom and Aldir as a former friend of Kezess whom the latter had covertly banished for opposing his genocide of the djinn. He made his first physical appearance at the end of Volume 10 when Arthur visits the Hearth, the Outcast Refuge he established following his exile.
    • While first mentioned around the start of the War Arc, the Scythes and Retainers are only introduced sporadically, with a few only making their first appearances after its conclusion. In addition, most of the Scythes and Retainers lacked any visual depiction barring Cadell (who appears early on as the first servant of the Vritra featured in the story as the one who fatally wounds Sylvia) and Uto (who appears in the vision Alea imparts onto Arthur of him slaughtering her and her team). A tie-in illustration released after the end of Volume 9 marks the first visual depiction of Seris, who is depicted alongside her protégé Caera (who was introduced in Volume 8 but was first depicted on the cover of Volume 9). Rather than wait for the webcomic to catch up with the novel, the rest of the Scythes and Retainers (barring Bivran and Bivrae) were finally depicted in a tie-in illustration released after the end of Volume 10.
    • Played With in regards to Cecilia, the Legacy. Her original appearance would not be revealed until Season 6 of the webcomic in May 2024 (roughly six years after she was introduced in the novel), but her current appearance (in which she has possessed the body of Tessia) was revealed in the same tie-in illustration as Agrona's.
    • The Jasmine: Wind-Borne side story, released in the extended hiatus between Seasons 5 and 6 of the webcomic, finally depicts a few minor characters by way of Adaptational Early Appearance/Early-Bird Cameo. Aside from the aforementioned Trodius, the side story has the first visual appearances of the other White Sheeps of House Flamesworth, those being Jasmine's Cool Big Sis Senyir and Cool Aunt Hester. The end of the side story features a cameo from Lensa, a former member of the Twin Horns whose death was pivotal in the backstory of Arthur's mother Alice.
  • BIONICLE had the mysterious figures of legend, Big Bad Makuta Teridax, Big Good Mata Nui, Artakha, Karzahni, and the Great Beings, as well as Toa Helryx and the unmutated Toa Hagah. Makuta casting Mata Nui into a coma drove the whole story but their appearance was a secret for a long while. Until the reveal, both were represented via stone carvings other characters told stories with.
    • Makuta was merely alluded to for most of 2001, his visual representations were stone symbols and a corrupted Mask of Shielding seen in promo art and comics. His main presence came from the element of shadow and the concept of destruction. At the end of the year, Makuta showed up in person in the shape of a corrupted villager, then as a swirling mass of body parts and tendrils. His true form was revealed in 2003, twice: first as a toy, then in the Mask of Light movie where Makuta's appearance was modeled on the toy's prototype.
    • Mata Nui likewise had many symbols: a stone effigy, an etching of a Vitruvian Man, the Mask of Shielding, a humanoid form on the face of the Mask of Life, and various vague face-like carvings. It took until late 2008 for his original form to be revealed in an online CGI clip and the comics, though it was never sold as a toy. With that came the twist that Mata Nui was actually a Humongous Mecha, the world where the 2001-2008 story took place, meaning we've been seeing incomplete glimpses of him since the very start.
    • Karzahni was first brought up in a 2004 side-story novel as the namesake of the Karzahni plant monster. In 2006, the true Karzahni actually appeared in another novel, then a 2007 guide book published his first official image, though his colors in the picture strangely didn't follow the text's description. A toy of Karzahni's mutated underwater form also came out the same year.
    • Artakha was invented for a short-lived promotional website's browser game advertizing the Mask of Light movie in 2003, then accepted into canon together with Karzahni. Never appearing in the main story but affecting it indirectly, Artakha was given a written description in a 2011 online story serial when he first appeared in person. In 2020, 17 years after his introduction and 10 years after the franchise had ended, an officially sanctioned fan contest hosted by The Three Virtues gave him a definitive visual appearance.
    • The Great Beings were mentioned in 2001 but LEGO had a rule not to reveal much of them. In 2011, a couple of official images showed them as robed figures watching over important events. Prior to that, Great Beings appeared in books as early as 2006 but their appearance was not described. After the franchise was discontinued, Word of God revealed they belonged to the same species as the Glatorian and one older character, Velika, was said to be a Great Being disguised as a Matoran villager.
    • Toa Helryx was introduced in 2008 as the leader of the Order of Mata Nui and the very first Toa ever created. While she had a visual description, her physical appearance would not see the light of day until 2020, when she became the subject of the first fan canonization contest hosted by The Three Virtues fansite and Greg Farshtey himself.
    • The Toa Hagah are a unique case. They were introduced back in 2005 as the Rahagah, the mentors to the Toa Hordika who had once been Toa themselves before being mutated by Roodaka. While two of them - Norik and Iruni - received special edition figures of their Toa forms, the remainder - Bomonga, Gaaki, Kualus, and Pouks - did not receive visual depictions until another officially sanctioned fan contest by The Three Virtues in 2021 gave them canonical appearances for their Toa forms.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the short film All Hail the King, it's established that neither Trevor Slattery nor Aldrich Killian from Iron Man 3 are the setting's definitive take on the Mandarin, and that there is a real version of the character who Killian (loosely) based Slattery's performance of the Mandarin on. However, the real Mandarin is established as The Ghost in this short film and spends the entire Infinity Saga (and, specifically, Iron Man's entire Character Arc) without appearing on-screen or even having his real name (Xu Wenwu) established. He finally surfaces as the Big Bad of the 2021 film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai.
    • Agent Carter: Jarvis' wife, Ana, is mentioned from time to time in Season 1, and finally appears and becomes a supporting character in Season 2.
    • Exaggerated in the third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where the inhuman Hive is the main antagonist. We don't even know Hive's name until the sixteenth episode. He first appears in "4,722 Hours" as the malevolent "It", terrorizing the No-Fly Zone of the planet Maveth. He never says a word, and we only ever see him in a flowing black cloak and an astronaut suit. He first appears in person in the episode "Maveth", and we only see his true form in "Ascension", the season finale.
    • WandaVision: Agnes constantly mentions her husband Ralph, who seems to be a stereotypical sitcom husband. In "The Series Finale", which is what the episode title implies, Ralph is revealed to be the real name of the fake "Pietro Maximoff" whom Agatha mind-controlled to act as Pietro.
  • MonsterVerse:
  • Nasuverse:
    • Background material for Tsukihime mentions the creature most suited to kill humans is the Dead Apostle Primate Murder. Over a decade later, said character would finally debut in Fate/Grand Order. He's the little mascot critter Fou! It's also revealed that this is an AU version of him who never turned into the Murderer of Primates. instead staying in his adorable "norma" form, Caithe Palug.
    • In another example, the one being who can challenge Primate Murder for the title of creature most suited to kill humans is ORT, the Ultimate One of Mercury. Just like Primate Murder, said character would finally show up in Fate/Grand Order, where they become the Arc Villain for the Seventh Lostbelt, Nahui Mictlan. To call them a difficult boss is a hilariously exaggerated Understatement.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Voyager: A running plotline for the first few seasons is Harry and Tom dating the Delaney Sisters (Jenny and Megan). Tom has to convince Harry to double-date with him, and later it's revealed that Harry isn't interested in the sister that's interested in him. It's not until the fifth season (after Tom has gotten into a relationship with someone else) that they appear on screen. As Voyager reviewer Jim Wright puts it when they appear...
    THESE are the Delaney sisters? Oh my. The legends are true... Gee, Mr. Braga (one of the producers), it's not even my birthday!
  • The Shea Fontana iteration of DC Super Hero Girls mentions Darkseid at various points before having him finally appear physically in the fifth season, first appearing disguised as math teacher Professor Seid before revealing his true colors in the final episode "My So-Called Anti-Life".
  • Warhammer Fantasy/Warhammer: Age of Sigmar/Warhammer 40,000:
    • Szarekh the Silent King was a major character in Necron lore who had no visual depiction at all, having departed the galaxy in exile millennia ago following the Necrons' biotransference and rebellion against the C'tan out of remorse for his role in his people's fate. He was finally revealed on July 2020 as part of the Necron model range update for 9th Edition, complete with him finally returning to the present to lead the Necrons Back from the Brink.
    • Total War: Warhammer:
      • Several of the Legendary Lords and Heroes featured in the game had no official depiction in any ancillary media before being featured in the game. Grand Hierophant Khatep, a named Lord in the Tomb Kings 8th Edition Army Book, received his first official depiction when the Tomb Kings were added as one of their Legendary Lords. Alberic de Bordeleaux, a minor character from Bretonnia's 6th Edition Army Book, was featured as one of their Legendary Lords when the faction was Promoted to Playable. Coeddil, a character only mentioned in Wood Elf lore as Durthu's Evil Counterpart, was eventually featured as a Legendary Hero for Drycha's subfaction.
      • The Empire of Grand Cathay has been a Hufflepuff House Space-Filling Empire across all of Warhammer, with only a few mentions in source books and no units or rules to represent them anywhere. Thirty years later, though, they finally get a major role in Total War: Warhammer III, where not only are they one of the six factions playable at launch, they've teamed up with Kislev to invade the Chaos Wastes and take the fight to the Dark Gods themselves!
      • Speaking of the third game and the massive lore updates that accompanied its portrayals of Kislev and Cathay, quite a few new characters for both of these factions have been introduced in passing before eventually being introduced in DLC. For example, Mother Ostyankanote , Naryska Leysa, and Yuan Bo were new characters who were eventually depicted in the Shadows of Change DLC.
    • Similarly to the aforementioned Khatep, the Herald Nekaph was a named Hero from the Tomb Kings 8th Edition Army Book who had no depiction. Come The Old World revival, and Nekaph finally received his first official miniature.
    • Ushoran was a fairly important named vampire as the Monster Progenitor of the Strigoi and later the Flesh-Eater Courts. However, he never had an official depiction as he was only referred to as a mysterious, legendary figure for decades. It was not until near the end of the third edition of Age of Sigmar when Ushoran suddenly returned from exile as the Mortarch of Delusion, gaining a model for the first time and an important role in the story while he was at it.

    Video Games 
  • Arknights: During Rewinding Breeze, the player's point of view briefly shifts to an Elite Operator by the name of Logos, who comes across the Mudrock Squad making their Last Stand against a cult of Witch King loyalists and steps in to save them. As he's the viewpoint character, however, the player doesn't get to see what he looks like, and this would remain the case for a good two years until Chapter 11 of the main story gave him his first proper onscreen appearance.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum:
    • The Riddler is not physically present in the game, having hacked into Batman's comms in order to coax the Dark Knight into solving his Riddles. Riddler appears in the flesh in Batman: Arkham City.
    • Clayface is seen in a cell, but we only see him shapeshifting into other people. His true form is not seen until Arkham City.
    • There are many villains who are referenced in Arkham Asylum (either directly or via Riddles/in-game Character Bios) but don't actually appear until Arkham City. These villains include: Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, Ra's al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Hush, Mad Hatter, Calendar Man and Black Mask. Firefly is also referenced, but he doesn't appear in Arkham City. Firefly first appears in the prequel game Batman: Arkham Origins and later Batman: Arkham Knight.
    • Alfred doesn't appear at all in Arkham Asylum and only via comms in Arkham City (though a character model was made for his bio). His first physical appearance is in Arkham Origins. This also applies to Oracle, who is only heard over Batman's comms in Asylum and City, but not seen physically until Origins (her character model in her City bio has her back turned with her face mostly obscured by her hair).
  • The ClayFighter series has two of them: Santa Claus, The Rival of Bad Mr. Frosty mentioned in his backstory in the first two games, and Dr. Kiln, the man behind the clones in the second game. Both finally appear in the third game of the series, ClayFighter 63 1/3, and its update Sculptor's Cut, as bosses; the former as Sumo Santa (having had a Face–Heel Turn) and the latter as the Big Bad and Final Boss.
  • Dark Souls II: Aldia, King Vendrick's older brother, used to be a background character who didn't appear on-screen, but due to his experiments on the Giants and his attempt to create a dragon (after which he was not heard from again), he was an important character lore-wise. In Scholar of the First Sin, he finally appears as the titular character and the True Final Boss of the game.
  • Beat Jevil with violence in Deltarune and he'll allude to a character called "Queen". Sure enough, Queen makes her debut in the next chapter, "A Cyber's World".
  • EarthBound (1994): Giygas is mentioned as the ultimate Big Bad of the story in the opening. He is constantly mentioned throughout the plot, but not shown until the end, and even then, only for a few minutes. (He did appear in the previous game Mother under similarly brief circumstances, but with a different appearance.)
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses had a number of characters, typically family members of various students, who are The Ghost, never seen on-screen but who have had an impact on the characters, particularly shown through support conversations of the characters they have affected. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes shows several of these characters on-screen for the first time, including the fathers of Linhardt, Caspar, Bernadetta, Sylvain, and Lorenz, as well as Dimitri's uncle Rufus, Hilda's older brother Holst, Claude's half-brother Shahid, and the real Monica von Ochs.
  • The Forerunners from Halo are never seen in the games made by Bungie, having apparently gone extinct when the Halo Array was activated. We don't even hear of any individual Forerunner characters until Halo 3, where the Terminals mention two Forerunners known as the Didact and the Librarian who were at the forefront of the conflict against the Flood. In Halo 4, Master Chief and Cortana encounter the Didact, who was imprisoned in Requiem for 100,000 years for his brutal treatment of the Advanced Ancient Humans, and the Librarian, copied by Brain Uploading into Requiem's computer systems.
  • For most of Kindergarten, Billy is a mysteriously missing student who's spoken about by the kids who knew him, but obviously never seen because of the whole missing part. However, in the final mission, the protagonist and Billy's sister Lily infiltrate the principal's secret lab and find Billy in mutated form. They manage to turn him back and rescue him, and he appears as his normal self with the other students in Kindergarten 2.
  • The "Posthumous Character Subversion" is used in Knights of the Old Republic. We don't see Revan without a full face mask and thick robes you could practically hide a Wookiee in. We also don't hear Revan speak on camera. After a battle with the Republic where Malak took the opportunity to pull a properly-Sith power grab and shoot Revan's ship, it's presumed that Revan is dead. However, several characters mention that there's always the possibility that Revan might still be alive. Well, that does turn out to be the case; it's the Player Character under that mask.
  • In League of Legends, the "Ruined King" was introduced as major background character in a 2014 lore update that informed the backstory of the Shadow Isles and several of its champions, but while the gist of his story was available (a king who went mad with grief after the death of his queen, whose attempts to resurrect her led to the isles becoming a festering hellhole of undeath), he wasn't given an appearance or even a name, with his status in the present day remaining greatly vague. As the years went on, his reputation developed him into being the Big Bad of the Shadow Isles that several heroic champions began searching for to defeat, and in 2021, he was finally unveiled to much fanfare through the "Year of the Ruined King", which revealed his appearance, officially christened him "Viego", made him a playable champion, and slotted him as the Arc Villain for a massive Crisis Crossover involving his all-out attack across Runeterra.
  • Metroid: The Chozo race, whose statues and technology are found across many worlds and who raised an orphaned Samus Aran to be the great Bounty Hunter she is, are never seen alive in the present. The most we get to see are flashbacks to when they were still around, like in Metroid: Zero Mission or Metroid: Samus Returns, or ghosts corrupted by Phazon in Metroid Prime. It isn't until Metroid Dread that Samus finally meets living Chozo in the present — but as revealed in the second trailer, this group of Chozo isn't friendly.
  • PAYDAY 2: After nearly two games as the PAYDAY Gang's Mission Control (and being only ever seen from behind by the player during the live-action web series), they finally meet Bain in person during the "Hell's Island" heist, which tasks the gang with rescuing him after he's been captured by the Kataru. Unfortunately for him, by the time he's rescued, he's been infected with a terminal disease by his torturers, and he dies following the White House heist (at least, unless the True Ending is unlocked).
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Red and Blue kept the identity of the eighth gym leader quiet in any released material, meaning players would have to go through most of the game just to find out who he is. After they get to the eighth gym (and navigate through its complicated floor maze), the gym leader is revealed to be Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket.
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver gives this treatment to "Red", the variously-named protagonist of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, which takes place a few years prior to Gold and Silver in-universe. The current Player Character can run into Red's family, and even The Rival from the same previous generation, now named "Blue", in their post-Elite Four campaign across Kanto, but never actually comes face-to-face with Red until confronting him at the summit of Mount Silver, the true final level of the game. Even so, Red never says a word before, during, or after combat, and remains The Voiceless and a Heroic Mime.
  • Power Instinct: The Belti sisters, Elizabeth and Sandra, are rivals of Goketsuji sisters since decades and only are mentioned in the backstory of the first game, being represented by Sandra's granddaughter Angela Belti. Finally, both sisters appeared as selectable characters for the last game of the franchise, Matsuri Senzo Kuyou, being effectively foils for the Goketsuji, both being Western witches compared to Oume and Otane's evil Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • Sonic Lost World: Apart from Zavok, each of the members of the Deadly Six are shown in shadow until the cutscene preceding the first level where they are fought. This is particularly glaring because at times they're out in open sunlight, yet they're still shadowy.
  • Vermintide II features the Chaos Sorcerer Lord Burblespue Halescourge as a Boss Battle, after only being mentioned as a background villain in The End Times: Vermintide.
  • The Big Bad of Stinkoman 20X6 is revealed to be Z-Sabre, the 20X6 version of Coach Z.
  • Your employer during the Player Versus Environment game-mode "Salmon Run" in Splatoon 2 is an extremely enigmatic individual known as Mr. Grizz, who only speaks through a bear-shaped radio. He finally makes a physical appearance in Splatoon 3 as the Final Boss of the story mode, revealing that, yes, he is in fact a huge grizzly bear, one of the last surviving mammals at that, who seeks to wipe out cephalopod-kind and return the Earth to the age of mammals.
  • In The World Ends with You, Shiki has a photo of her with her best friend Eri on her phone, which she often looks to for moral support in completing the Reapers' Game. However, every time we're shown the photo, there's a glare across the screen covering her eyes. That's Shiki's eyes, not Eri's — we eventually learn that Shiki was forced to give up her appearance to take part in the Reapers' Game and has been playing as an exact doppelganger of Eri. When she shows up in person during the ending, there's a shot panning up her body towards her face, but it cuts away right before it reaches her eyes. Even the anime adaptation, released over a decade after the game, makes sure to avoid showing her face in full. It's only in NEO: The World Ends with You that we get a clear shot of what she looks like following a three-year Time Skip.

    Webcomics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Annie's Disappeared Dad, whose fraught relationship with her and with his childhood acquaintances among the teachers is a major ongoing plot element, abruptly shows up with a teaching position in Chapter 51. Annie is just as stunned as everyone else.
  • Freefall: On page 2467, Florence has an unexpected meeting with Doctor Bowman, the creator of Florence's species and of a sapient Artificial Intelligence design that's central to the story. It's triply unexpected, since she's kidnapped to the installation where he lives, and he turns out to be an uplifted chimpanzee himself.
  • In Mountain Time, the Blade of Torthos appears in episode 5. Torthos himself doesn't show up until episode 447.

    Web Original 
  • Nightmare Time:
    • The episode "Jane's a Car" is the first appearance of Jane Houston, whose death had been a driving force in the plots of both The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals and Black Friday.
    • Gerald Monroe makes his first appearance in "Honey Queen." In the musical Black Friday, his wife Linda was constantly on the phone with him, but he never appeared on stage, nor was his voice heard.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • Even as early as the first season, Greg kept pressuring Terry to tell his homophobic father that he's gay. Terry's father Tank Bates appears in "Daddy Queerest" and is indeed a homophobic jerk.
    • Francine is mentioned to have an adopted sister Gwen, whom her biological parents think is a disappointment. Gwen eventually makes an appearance in the episode "Now and Gwen", where it's revealed that she's a criminal who manipulates Francine into covering for her.
    • A few episodes mention Hayley having a friend named "Nerfer", but she doesn't actually appear in the flesh until "Beyond the Alcove".
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise:
    • Fire Lord Ozai, the Big Bad of Avatar: The Last Airbender, is cloaked in shadow for the first two seasons despite frequently appearing even with a speaking role. He's finally fully revealed in "The Awakening".
    • Fire Lord Izumi, of The Legend of Korra similarly goes mentioned but unseen until the final season. She's mentioned in passing several times as one of the world leaders and directly a couple of times. Her son, Iroh II, tells Korra to go to her for help in Season 2 when the President of the United Republic ties his hands. Korra is prepared to go talk to her but gets sidetracked and never makes it. Zuko and Korra have a conversation about her in late Season 3 when he decides to go home to protect her after the Earth Queen gets murdered because he's worried that the Red Lotus is going to go after all the world leaders. The two of them are at Prince Wu's coronation in "The Coronation" and she finally gets to speak in "Beyond the Wilds".
  • Bob's Burgers: Bob makes occasional references to his childhood friend Warren Fitzgerald starting in "Carpe Museum". Warren actually shows up in the Season 6 episode "Pro Tiki/Con Tiki".
  • Bojack Horseman: In the Season 1 episode "Zoes and Zeldas", Todd mentions his girlfriend leaving him and his mother kicking him out the house because of his video game obsession, both being The Faceless. In Season 3, his girlfriend is introduced as a major character, and at the end of Season 6 he reconciles with his mother after having her be The Ghost for the two episodes.
  • Doug: Skunky Beaumont goes from The Ghost in the Nickelodeon cartoon to a recurring character in the Disney version.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Eddy's brother is only mentioned in the show. He finally shows up in the final scene of the Finale Movie Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Timmy Turner's parents always have their faces out of frame in the original Oh Yeah! Cartoons shorts, but started having their faces shown unobscured after The Fairly OddParents became a full-fledged television series.
    • Remy Buxaplenty's parents were initially shown only from the neck down, but would finally have their faces shown in the episode "Country Clubbed".
  • Futurama:
    • Leela periodically mentions her ex-boyfriend Sean in early seasons, but he's never be seen on screen. In the Season 7 episode "Fry and Leela's Big Fling", he has his first on-screen appearance.
    • The King of Space was first mentioned by Leela during the Comedy Central run episode "Overclockwise", subsequently appearing on-screen in the Framing Device of the Hulu run's episode "The Prince and the Product".
  • Generator Rex: The Consortium is mentioned as early as Season 1 and are the employers of the third season's Big Bad, yet none of their members are ever seen or heard. They finally make a full appearance in the episode "Target: Consortium".
  • Gravity Falls: The Author of the Journals is frequently mentioned throughout the series, but never been seen. In the Season 2 episode "Not What He Seems", the identity of the Author is revealed to be Grunkle Stan's long-lost brother.
  • Orpheus is mentioned but never seen in early Hercules: The Animated Series episodes like "Hercules and the Tapestry of Fate", and appears in person in "Hercules and the Prom".
  • Kim Possible: Professor Dementor is mentioned several times as a Mad Scientist with a much more impressive reputation than Dr. Drakken (much to Drakken's annoyance) before he finally starts appearing as a regular antagonist late in the first season.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Bill's ex-wife Lenore is referenced often throughout the show. She makes her first and only appearance in the fifth season episode "Hank and the Great Glass Elevator".
    • After being The Ghost for most of the show's lengthy run, Luanne's father Hoyt finally appears in the flesh in the twelfth season episode "Life: A Loser's Manual" (though a younger version of him was seen in the wedding video from season 3's "Hank's Cowboy Movie"). He's Put on a Prison Bus for good at the end of the episode once his plan to frame Lucky for his crimes goes south.
  • The Loud House:
    • Sam's younger brother Simon was first mentioned in her description in the intro pages of the third volume of the tie-in comic book series, released in March 2018. He didn't appear in the proper show until "Purrfect Gig", which aired two years and a month later.
    • Ronnie Anne, Lincoln's former bully in her first appearance in the episode "Heavy Meddle" is never seen. She wouldn't properly appear until the episode, "Save the Date", where she's revealed to be Bobby's younger sister.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Star Swirl the Bearded is referenced in various episodes since Season 2. He only shows up for the first time in "Shadow Play", the Season 7 finale, and makes a few other appearances in the following seasons.
    • Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Big Mac's parents, Bright Mac and Pear Butter's whereabouts were left ambiguous until they made their proper first onscreen appearance in the Season 7 episode, "The Perfect Pear", in which they're shown in a flashback to when they first met, and the show hints the both are long dead, or "not in the world anymore".
  • Regular Show: After being the punchline of Muscle Man's "My Mom!" jokes for 6 seasons, Muscle Mom makes her first on-screen appearance in "Terror Tales of the Park IV"
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle
    • The narrator is only heard for most of the show's run, but is actually seen in person in the "Banana Formula" arc.
    • The leader of Pottsylvania, Mr. Big, was hinted as early as the show’s first story arc, and was so fearsome, a threat to report to him from Fearless Leader had Boris Badenov shaking in his boots. He’s finally shown in the “Upsidasium” arc, where despite his reputation, he’s actually only a few inches tall.
  • Rugrats:
    • Dr. Lipschitz, the pop child psychologist whose advice Didi and Chas often turn to when raising the babies, finally appears in person in the Season 2 episode "A Visit From Lipschitz".
    • Whenever Angelica's mother Charlotte appears in the earlier seasons, she's usually on her cell phone talking to her assistant Jonathon. Jonathon finally appears in person in the Season 3 episode "Mommy's Little Assets", when Charlotte has to take Tommy and Angelica to her office for a business meeting while watching them.
    • Another of the people Charlotte constantly mentions on her phone is Mr. Yamaguchi, who finally appears in person in the second movie, Rugrats in Paris.
    • Charlotte herself and some other adult characters, such as Chuckie's dad Chas, are also fleetingly mentioned in early episodes before being introduced officially (though some do make the occasional background appearance beforehand).
  • The Simpsons: Agnes Skinner did not appear in early seasons, despite Principal Skinner often talking about her, and it was implied she was in fact either dead or a figment of Skinner's imagination a la Norma Bates.
  • Steven Universe: White Diamond is alluded to in various Homeworld iconography, from murals depicting her likeness to the appearance of the color white on the Diamond Authority's Era 1 and Era 2 symbols. It is not until her debut episode "Legs From Here to Homeworld" that she is even mentioned by name five seasons in.
  • Total Drama World Tour: Throughout the series, Alejandro occasionally makes reference to his Big Brother Bully José. José finally appears in person in the Total Drama All-Stars episode "Suckers Punched", appearing as the greatest fear of Alejandro's that he needed to fight against in that episode's challenge.
  • Trollhunters: Merlin is alluded to as the Big Good of the series numerous times, having been the creator of the Amulet of Daylight and the Trollhunter. In "Unbecoming", he appears in a disembodied voice, and in "For the Glory of Merlin", he is revealed to be alive (having been in an endless sleep for centuries) and joins the main cast.

 
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Nick Locarno

The episode opens with a quick flashback to thirteen years ago, showing how Mariner was a fan of Sito, how Nick Locarno was in the process of planning his dangerous stunt, and we finally see Joshua Albert on-screen before his death.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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