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When everyone already knows the brand-new character in live-action TV.


Examples:

  • 13 Reasons Why has a strange inverted example. Season Two introduces Chloe Rice as the "new" cheer captain (despite taking place in the middle of the school year, in the same year as Season One). Despite supposedly being a longtime Liberty student, everyone acts like she somehow just popped up, with some of the characters asking one another what they know about Chloe.
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  • Used quite a bit in 24, for example, the fourth season which introduced Curtis Manning it's revealed that Jack knows him and has worked with him before. Since Jack was let go from CTU following the events of the previous season, that means that Jack would have had to work with him prior to the third season. Justified in most cases however, since the season only takes place within a 24-hour period and several months if not years pass in between each one, it means that there is time that could be accounted for all these moments during those lengthy gaps.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduces us to Agent Eric Koenig (played by Patton Oswalt) who shortly after his introduction is murdered by Ward. But! He has a twin brother, Billy, also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, who is introduced later on, and explicitly described as his twin. In the second season, it turns out there's a third Koenig brother, Sam, who is also identical to Billy and Eric, and also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Apparently they're actually triplets. Despite Billy referring to himself as Eric's twin. They try to explain it by the nature of the brothers, who like to joke about it and use their similar appearance to confuse other people. On several occasions they imply, that they are either clones or Life Model Decoys (or another form of Robot). In season four, episode 12 it is revealed, that they are quadruplets, who also have a sister (who was foreshadowed in season 2, episode 20). Since she seems totally normal and provides childhood memories, it seems to be clear, they are normal brothers and there will be no fifth.
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  • Inverted in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Someone comes into town and knows absolutely everyone and everything in the town... but no one else knows who he is. This terrifies the whole town (save Andy) until they start trying to run him out of Mayberry. Turns out he's actually a drifter who met a Mayberry resident while in the army, read about the whole town through his newspapers, and tried to integrate himself into the town far too quickly.
  • On Angel:
    • The guardian of the Deeper Well turns out to be Drogyn, an immortal, truthspeaking warrior who has never been mentioned before, but Angel has already met him. This wouldn't be so odd, since Angel is 250+ years old, except that since Drogyn trusts him and considers him a friend, Drogyn must have met Angel when he had a soul, a period where Angel wasn't doing much besides moping. You'd think that whatever Angel did to earn the friendship of someone like Drogyn would be significant enough for the show to mention earlier. None of the other characters has ever heard of him except Wesley.
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    • Angel's backstory gets this a lot; whether he spent 80 years just moping around or had a bunch of cool adventures is rather Depending on the Writer. For example, he also went to Vegas and met Elvis during this period.
    • Another example includes Spike and Drusilla knowing Darla; all had been introduced as having traveled with pre-ensouling Angel, but prior to Season 5 of Buffy/Season 2 of Angel, they hadn't been demonstrated to know each other. It was previously assumed that Angel traveled with them at different times. While it would be understandable that Darla might not have mentioned them because she traveled alone with Angel for many years, you think at least Spike would have brought up "Whatever happened to Darla?" when he was introduced in Buffy Season 2.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 and its spin-off series: Valerie Malone was supposed to be the daughter of the Walshes' best friends. Given the way they used to invite everybody to their famous parties (Christmas, weddings, etc.), it's a bit odd that the Malones were never mentioned in the first four seasons. Same for Harry Wilson: Kelly's next-door neighbor and friend for years, but never mentioned again. For a lesser extent, Teddy Montgomery qualifies, although Adrianna's past dating record saves the trope from being far-fetched in that case.
  • Lydia Rodarte-Quayle in Breaking Bad was a case of this. She's first introduced in season 5A, where she is established as being acquainted with Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut, despite the fact that she was never seen or so much as mentioned in earlier seasons. This is mitigated by Better Call Saul, which is set before the events of Breaking Bad, and, due to the return of Gus in season 3, gets to explore the early stages of Lydia's business dealings with Gus and Mike.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the first three seasons, the monster or woobie of the week or a victim thereof was almost always a student or a teacher who had never appeared or been mentioned, but would sometimes be said to have known Xander and/or Willow for some time.
    • Spoofed with Andrew in Season 6. Unlike the other two members of the Trio his character hadn't appeared in the series before, so an incident involving flying demon monkeys attacking the school play was written into his backstory — however none of the Scoobies can recall the incident, only that he's Tucker Wells's brother (who did appear in the series). This happened because originally Tucker was going to be in the trio but his actor couldn't do it; presumably he would have been the misogynist leader of the group that Warren ended up being, while Warren would be more of the pathetic toady like Andrew.
    • Deconstructed in the Season 7 episode "Conversations With Dead People". When a vampire recognizes Buffy he explains that they went to high school together and shared a few classes. Buffy, however, does not recognize him at all, not even when he tells her his name, and it is only after ten minutes of explaining when they met and things they had done together that she remembers who he is. To the end of the episode, he never becomes a close and dear friend from her past, instead remaining a minor acquaintance that she met on rare occasions and had forgotten in the time since then because they had never been very close in the first place. If anything he represents how Slayer duties have left Buffy largely disconnected from people besides her close friends.
  • Similarly parodied on Community when it was explained that Jack Black's character was a background student who had always been there. After that episode he fades right back into the background never to be seen again.
  • Kelly Crabtree in Coronation Street — the first time we ever see her, she's just left her supposedly long time job at the factory that half the other characters work at.
  • Sondra, the oldest Huxtable daughter, was added late in season 1 of The Cosby Show as being busy attending Princeton, even though dialogue in early episodes indicates that the Huxtables have only four kids. In real life, Sondra was created because Bill Cosby wanted the show to express the accomplishment of successfully raising a child (e.g., a college graduate).
  • CSI Verse:
    • CSI: NY did this with Don Flack - he did not appear in the series pilot, CSI: Miami "MIA-NYC Nonstop" but the character was added for the main series, and given they work with Flack every case, it's strange they weren't working with him in that ep. He could've been sick or something, but no one said anything later on in the series' first ep of its own, either.
    • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: In "The Theory of Everything", we learn that there is an insane Conspiracy Theorist woman who comes to police HQ to file charges against extraterrestrials every night, and that Nick is fond of her. This is of course the first time we ever hear of her. And the last: She's hit by a truck in the second act.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Averted with this incarnation of Stick, as his time training Matt forms the flashbacks of the seventh episode in season 1.
    • Benjamin Donovan, the crooked lawyer overseeing Wilson Fisk's affairs while Fisk is in prison during season 2, was not mentioned at all during the first season.
    • Lampshaded in season 2. When helping Matt with his tie prior to Grotto's funeral, Karen mentions having a brother, who has never been so much as discussed up until this point. Matt is surprised as Karen has never mentioned having any siblings before, to which Karen simply replies, "You never asked."
  • The Defenders (2017): Only two of the Hand's five leaders were introduced in prior series: Madame Gao through Daredevil (2015) and Iron Fist (2017), and Bakuto in Iron Fist. The other three - Alexandra, Sowande, and Murakami - are this trope. While Bakuto and Madame Gao made cryptic references to Alexandra's existence during Iron Fist, Murakami is an egregious case as Stick mentions that Murakami pulled the strings behind Nobu's operation in Daredevil, yet Nobu at no point gave any indication he was a subordinate to a Finger. Especially since Nobu was the one assisting Madame Gao in doing business with Wilson Fisk.
  • Happens in Degrassi sometimes, in the most recent seasons with Dave and Imogen. Partly justified since it is a school setting, so presumably the person was a student at Degrassi but never was friends with the main cast.
    • This happens whenever the sibling of a character that's in the main cast is introduced without any mention before hand. Such as Danny, Alli, and Tristan.
    • This is averted with Clare, because she was introduced in season 6, well before she started attending Degrassi as a freshman in season 8.
    • Connor is a minor example because Mr. Simpson explains that he's the latter's god son, despite not being mentioned at all before season 8.
    • Peter could be seen as this since it's mentioned quite frequently that Ms. Hatzilakos has never been married, or ever has had children, before he was introduced in season 5.
    • Katie is this because she mentioned that she was at the infamous Vegas Night dance, and she along with the Degrassi Daily have always been at the school, despite not being introduced until season 11.
    • Used to decent effect in the case of Imogen, where she explains to Eli that she saw all the things he'd been going through over the last year, but Eli never saw her and instantly freaks out, accusing her of being a stalker.
  • A Different World actually manages to do this in the first episode. Denise already knows the character of Whitley, and her personality and habits are treated as if they are already established. She meets every other character for the first time. Since this show is a spin-off, an easy assumption to make was that she first showed up in an episode of The Cosby Show, but that isn't the case. Justified since it wasn't actually Denise's first day on campus. Denise was a sophomore during the first season of A Different World, her freshman year took place the year before while she was still on The Cosby Show. It was assumed that Denise met Whitley off-camera during her freshman year.
  • The second series in the Doctor in the House franchise, Doctor at Large, introduced Professional Butt-Kisser Lawrence Bingham, who is implied to have gone through medical training at St. Swithin's with the main cast and whom the other doctors know well enough to thoroughly detest from the start. However, he was never so much as mentioned in the first series, Doctor in the House, despite winning the surgery prize in his final year ahead of main characters Michael Upton and Duncan Waring.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Mel Bush is introduced as the Doctor's companion in a future adventure where she's been travelling with him for some time already.
    • Inverted with River Song, who in "Silence in the Library" walks up to the Doctor and begins chatting with him as if they're old friends. The Doctor, however, has never met her before — turns out that, thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball, he's meeting her out of sequence.
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory's old friend Mels suddenly shows up, to the Doctor's confusion — he doesn't know who she is, as she wasn't at Amy's wedding because she "doesn't do weddings". She's actually River Song's previous regeneration. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.
  • The Dingle family were introduced into Emmerdale as an infamous bunch of rowdies known to the entire village, despite never being mentioned in two decades of the soap's previous history.
  • Family Ties has several episodes in which characters are introduced as being childhood best friends or so-and-so's favorite relative yet they have never been shown or mentioned before and almost always never referenced again. One notable example was when Alex was given a black friend and the family spent an entire scene explaining that the two were best friends who have been competing with each other since they were kids.
    • Another example was Alex's friend Greg from the two-part Very Special Episode "A, My Name Is Alex". Even though he was never shown before this episode, he was one of Alex's best friends since childhood, and Alex was so distraught over his death that he needed to see a therapist.
  • Subverted on Farscape. In the Season 3 finale, "Dog With Two Bones", Noranti appears for the first time. It's stated that in-between episodes, the crew rescued some refugees and Noranti apparently decided to stay. Anyway, whenever Noranti begins to talk about the crew's current problems, everyone else remarks with a "Who is that?" response. Viewers didn't even learn her name until the end of the third Season 4 episode. Given her ability to affect memory with her potions, Noranti could well have been lying about the whole business.
  • When writing the film Serenity, a follow up to the quickly canceled Firefly intended to show a condensed version of his plans through roughly the show's first 2 seasons, Joss Whedon created the previously unmentioned jack-of-all-trades Mr. Universe to facilitate plot developments that he didn't have the time to develop more naturally anymore.
    • It was mentioned somewhere that Mr. Universe was a friend of Wash's, possibly explaining his lack of an existence previously as Mal never having had any reason to talk to the guy, only being peripherally aware of him. Wash is the one who suggests going to see him, though he says it in way that suggests he expects everyone else to know who he's referring to.
  • Frasier's brother Niles on Frasier had never been mentioned on Frasier's previous series Cheers. Lampshaded when Sam Malone from Cheers visited Frasier and told Niles he was never mentioned by his brother. At least in this case it's made clear that during Cheers Frasier was estranged from his family besides his mother, and had even told the cast of Cheers that his father was dead (something Sam also asks about).
  • Friends:
    • All the celebrity guest stars easily fall under this trope. For instance, Brad Pitt's character, who was supposedly a close friend of Ross and Monica, but was never mentioned before or since, wasn't in attendance at their wedding, etc.
    • Phoebe says she has a roommate Denise who has always been there if only the gang would listen to her. Word of God says that Denise didn't actually exist. It was just a weird Phoebe quirk the writers tossed in for comic relief.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Dolorous Edd is suddenly part of Lord Commander Mormont's group, although the scene from the book where he meets up with them is cut.
    • Roose Bolton. The Bolton sigil is seen at Robb's war council in Season 1. He was planned to be included in a montage of the Stark bannermen receiving their summons to Winterfell, which was scrapped for being far too expensive. The actor was cast in Season 2.
    • The Tullys of Riverrun show up around the same time, and we're told they were part of Robb's war effort just offscreen until now. Edmure is actually introduced being chewed out for not following a (badly communicated) plan in a battle that hadn't previously been mentioned.
      • In the books, he's introduced and discussed well before this time, and you see the scene from Catelyn's point of view where he elects to engage Tywin, although Catelyn displays some misgivings. The significance of how this impacts the war effort is deliberately downplayed until later so as to leave the consequences (Tywin being stymied at heading west and therefore being available to come to King's Landing to defeat Stannis) as a surprise (to the reader, and to most of the characters). In the show Tywin wasn't present and it's an insignificant skirmish that had no effect on anything other than a half-baked strategem against The Mountain that was never mentioned before or again.
    • Shireen Baratheon is never mentioned in Season 2 and Melisandre's dialogue even implies she doesn't even exist in the TV canon. In the books, it is mentioned that she was always hidden from public sight because of her greyscale. For the most part, Stannis and Selyse usually behave as if she doesn't exist — likely because her deformity is viewed as a sign of the Lord of Light's divine punishment. The out-of-universe explanation — Word of God as confirmed by writer Bryan Cogman — is that the producers were considering having her Adapted Out of the TV series during Season 2, but made the dialogue deliberately vague to keep their options open: it's only stated that Stannis has no sons. Cogman revealed that they actually agonized over that "no sons" line, specifically wording it so that they could later say that Stannis has a daughter without contradicting themselves. Even then, they weren't sure if Shireen would be a recurring role or only briefly appear in Season 3 (Ingram explained she was originally only hired for one year), but as time went on they felt her scenes were working well enough to make her a recurring character and gradually expand he appearances.
    • The most common reaction to the image of Lord Axell Florent being burned alive is to wonder who the hell he is.
  • Grey's Anatomy has Jim Nelson, aka "Shadow Shepherd", the hospital's other neurosurgeon, who isn't mentioned or shown until Season 5 despite having worked there all along. It's only when Derek Shepherd temporarily decides to quit operating that Nelson is shown, due to him supposedly not being as good a surgeon as Shepherd. Also a possible lampshading of how self-involved the main characters are.
  • Chachi is introduced this way in Happy Days with The Fonz delivering the line, "You all know my cousin Chachi," and everyone else replying in the affirmative even though he's never been seen or mentioned before.
  • Home and Away's latest school principal Martin Bartlett first appeared in 2008, but when Kirsty Phillips, who attended the school during her original 2000-2005 stint, returned a few months later she mentioned that Martin had been one of her teachers.
    • Similarly, character Travis Nash (1995-1999) first appeared as a witness to the death of Laura Bonnetti with all the regular cast already knowing him - he was another local who had always been around but just never seen on-screen before.
    • This happened with an entire group: The River Boys first appeared in 2011, despite living in a region that is not far from Summer Bay. This is largely because they are a No Celebrities Were Harmed take on the Bra Boys, who were largely unknown outside of their home suburb of Maroubra (despite several well-known members) until 2007.
  • House of Anubis introduces the character of Willow in season three, a character everyone in Anubis House knows but the audience doesn't. This is justified in that the main characters were hardly ever shown interacting on screen with anyone not from Anubis House, and only the important events of each season's year were shown to the audience. It's possible Willow- and by extension, her house Isis House- had existed all along, but just wasn't relevant until the third season.
  • How I Met Your Mother makes this trope part of its regular routine, as the show is framed as the recollections of an Unreliable Narrator; Ted is regularly shown to remember things that are out of order or skips over events and people that he deems unimportant to that particular story. A lot of events and characters are only mentioned when they actually become relevant.
  • Every school kid who ends up in the plot for iCarly except Wendy, Gibby and Rebecca Berkowitz. Some of the teachers, too. For some reason, most of the guys (who are usually a love interest) are introduced as seniors, which kinda makes it creepy in the couple seasons when they hit on Carly and Sam who haven't even reached the 'growth' stage of puberty yet. Then they give Chuck Cunningham Syndrome to them all anyway. It's averted once, where Brad is looked over as a new intern to drive the plot of "iHire an Idiot" then gets re-introduced in "iOMG" in a way that makes it obvious he's a New Transfer Student. The most famous example is Sam's identical twin Melanie who Carly and Spencer seemed to know was at boarding school. Freddie thought she was just Sam but her existence was confirmed.
  • Iron Fist (2017): The Bulletin reporter that interviews Ward Meachum is Jennifer Many, who appears to be a veteran reporter, but was never seen nor mentioned in any of the Bulletin scenes in Daredevil (2015).
  • JAG: In the 7th season we first meet Sturgis Turner. He and Harm went to the Naval Academy together and were apparently quite close friends. The writers also make several continuity references just to shoe-horn him in.
  • Jane the Virgin introduces Jane's previously-unmentioned first love Adam in season 4. This is especially odd because prior to this Michael was heavily implied to be Jane's first love.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie plays with this, by having Marvelous (Gokai Red) reveal that he has met Retsu Ichijouji a.k.a. Space Sheriff Gavan when Marvelous was still young; the flashback also implies that the Space Police are also dealing against the Zangyack invasion around that time. This wasn't the first time that Super Sentai and the Metal Heroes are teased to take place in the same universe.
  • Lampshaded with Yukina in Kamen Rider Fourze. It is presented as though the other characters already know her when she makes her introductory appearance, but Ryusei confusedly asks "Who?" immediately after seeing her.
  • In The Legend Of William Tell Vara breaks back into the Citadel in one episode to look for her nurse, who she loves dearly and who's always taken care of her. It's neither the actress nor the character who was her nurse in other episodes.
  • This is true of several characters on Lost, including Ethan and Arzt, but Nikki and Paulo are easily the best example. Introduced out of nowhere at the beginning of season three, the dynamic duo were apparently survivors of the crash. While random Redshirt characters regularly pop in and out, Nikki and Paulo began chumming with the main characters, going on adventures, and in general trying to fit in when they had obviously never been there before. They quickly became the most hated characters on the show, and showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse admit that they were a big mistake (but still regularly joke about them). The pair's story climaxes halfway through the season, when a flashback episode retcons them into various scenes, interacting with old characters, and making discoveries. The episode ends when Nikki paralyzes Paulo with a spider that paralyzes him with its venom (don't ask) and Nikki herself is then bitten by another spider (Word of God says it was the smoke monster in disguise). Both are then buried alive because they looked dead.
    • Lost plays with this trope a bit. Sawyer often refuses to accept the existence of new cast members, asking them "who the hell are you?" Arzt and Frogurt were vocally annoyed that the main characters didn't think about them. And Ethan was a spy for the Others who was meant to act like a normal 815 survivor, so the odds are that if he was, he probably would've got a little bit of face time anyway.
    • Lost justifies this in that there are about 40-odd survivors of the crash, most of them extras, so they can easily get away with this. Ethan is only introduced in one of the early episodes anyway- the cast don't remember him, but ignore that because they have all only just met.
    • Neil "Frogurt" is an aversion, however; though he does step in out of nowhere, he had already been mentioned a few times in season two and the mobisodes, so he was already known among both the fans and the characters.
    • Part of the reasoning behind Nikki and Paulo's existence was that the show had declared forty-something survivors from the plane crash in the pilot episode. Since they were nearly always seen as background extras with no lines (with the exception of Rose, and nominally Scott and Steve), a frequent fan question was "What do these other people do?" Nikki and Paulo appeared to be a (perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek) attempt by the writers to respond to that curiosity. That said, they are used to clear up a number of dangling plot threads, like the case with the gun that the other characters found in the first season.
  • In many, many episodes of MacGyver (1985), an old friend or girlfriend shows up in need of MacGyver's help, but it's never someone he saw fit to mention before or ever again. He must have a lot of Facebook friends these days.
  • In the early years of Mad About You Paul's best friend Selby is a major supporting character. After Selby get Brother Chucked the role of "Paul's friend and confidant" got taken by Paul's never-before-mentioned but buddies-since-childhood cousin Ira.
  • Iola Boylan on Mama's Family. In the syndicated episodes, she's Thelma's next door neighbor/sidekick and has been for years. She's never so much as mentioned in the previous NBC episodes. The entire cast of both versions can be considered under this trope, since the original Mama sketches on The Carol Burnett Show only featured Thelma (Vicki Lawrence), her daughters Eunice (Burnett) and Ellen (Betty White), and Eunices's husband, Ed (Harvey Korman).
  • Merlin:
    • The writers take advantage of a year's Time Skip between series three and four to introduce Arthur's uncle Agravaine as though he's been present in the kingdom all along. Even though he's never been mentioned before, there are lines like: "I promised your mother I'd always be there for you," and "I've known him since I was a child," though there's no indication where he's been all this time.
    • A similar thing happened with Guinevere's brother Elyan and Morgana's half-sister Morgause, even though these examples were partially justified in that the former siblings were estranged for years, and the latter were deliberately kept apart.
  • The Musketeers: Louis' brother shows up in Season Three. Everyone knows him, including people banished or otherwise gone from Paris for longer than the show's been running.
  • My Name Is Earl: When Earl encounters his friend, Frank Stump, in prison, the episode (one long flashback) explains that Frank and another new character, Paco, were the original occupants of Earl's trailer, and that they and the Hickey brothers used to live all four together. Plus, Earl's El Camino is revealed to actually be Frank's. The same time frame was seen in many other flashbacks, and Frank wasn't in any of them.
  • Part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Time Chasers is set in an alternate timeline where the show's host, Mike Nelson, is replaced by his brother Eddie (who was never mentioned in previous episodes).
  • NCIS: Dwayne Pride of NCIS: New Orleans is introduced in the 11th season as a longtime old friend of Gibbs—who has never been mentioned before, despite Abby shrieking with joy when she sees him, DiNozzo and McGee telling newcomer Bishop that "stories about them are legendary", and Gibbs himself telling the team that "I've known him for 30 years", and it being revealed that it's he whom Gibbs got his elevator trick from. Similarly, the latter show's Dr. Wade is apparently an old friend of Ducky's, even though he's never mentioned her before either.
  • Jessica and Taylah were randomly introduced as the school bullies in Neighbours, and everybody on the show treated them as though they has always been there, bullying other students and harassing the main teen characters, despite the fact that, story-wise, they clearly hadn't been.
  • Night Man does it with most of the main cast (except for the main character) when they moved production to Canada in-between seasons. We're expected not to notice.
  • NUMB3RS: Colby Granger and Megan Reeves both appear in the Season 2 premiere with virtually no explanation. They do at least get a few nods to the idea that they really haven't been around long (Megan has to be introduced to Larry, and Don and David have a conversation about Colby being fresh from the army), but some level of familiarity exists from the start of the episode, even though the characters are new to the audience.
  • The O.C. has Taylor Townsend. She first appeared at the start of the third season (in the aptly-named "The Shape of Things to Come") as an enemy of Marissa, yet, according to the other characters, had apparently been around for years and had even attended the same elementary school as Summer and Marissa, according to a flashback the following season. The character (and actress Autumn Reeser) proved so popular that fans were willing to overlook her origins, and the show even indulged in a little Lampshade Hanging when Summer referenced a scene that had happened long before Taylor's creation:
    Taylor: You didn't see me but I was there, and I remember that geek was totally in love with you.
  • In the final season of The Office, it was revealed that Dwight has a sister and a brother; while the brother had been previously brought up in a Christmas Episode, there was never any indication of the existence of the sister. Their sudden prominence is largely because the episode that showcased them was a backdoor pilot for a proposed Spin-Off centered around Dwight, and the creators likely wanted to flesh out his potential supporting cast.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Bones Snodgrass is introduced in the episode "The Yodar Kritch Award". He was never before seen or mentioned by name, in spite of being the brother of recurring character Stretch Snodgrass.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Stella, a heavily tattooed Australian model who stands around naked in the bathroom, has apparently been at Litchfield this whole time, but no one noticed until episode 6 of Season 3.
  • In Party of Five, Sarah Reeves pops up in second season, working a summer job at Salingers, yet she goes to the same school as Bailey and Julia, and is in many of Julia's classes, somehow without getting a previous mention.
  • Penny Dreadful: At the beginning of the third season Victor Frankenstein's friend Dr. Jekyll is introduced, and almost immediately chews Victor out for having disappeared and not contacted him for five years. Given Victor's private disposition, obsessive focus on work, and the nature of that work, it's not entirely surprising that he would never have mentioned or contacted his best friend.
  • Nothing is known about Person of Interest's Detective Petersen other than that he works for HR and enjoys shooting people. Miller, the other underling introduced in the same episode, is treated as a random mook, yet Petersen seems to go some way back with Simmons and is recognizable to Fusco. However, he's completely new to the viewer.
  • Lampshaded on Reign when the fourth season introduces Catherine's never talked of older daughter Leeza. During a family fight, Claude explains why viewers haven't heard of her before: Leeza is just so damn boring and dull that the moment she left French court, the rest of the family never found any reason to mention her at all.
  • On Revolution, characters frequently run into old friends or enemies from the past who'd never been seen or mentioned in the show before. Sometimes this is averted by having the character introduced in flashbacks before they show up in the present day (Priscilla) while sometimes when it's played straight, the character's significance is explained through flashbacks after the fact (Jeremy, Emma).
  • A late episode of Robin of Sherwood introduces Martin, the young nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Supposedly he's been living with his uncle at the castle all along, but has never even been mentioned before.
  • If you accept that Good Morning Miss Bliss is part of the same continuity as Saved by the Bell then Jesse Spano and Kelly Kapowski. The former lives next door to Zack and has been friends with him since childhood, while he has been trying to go out with the latter for as long as she can remember. That said, most people don't accept the two as the same continuity, since the entirety of the school magically moves from Indiana to California.
  • Played with on Scrubs. Kim Briggs had been at Sacred Heart for years, it's just that J.D. couldn't see her because all women wearing wedding rings are flat-out invisible to him. The kicker is when all married women within earshot are asked to take off their rings for a moment. Suddenly J.D. is surrounded by dozens of women, including Gift Shop Girl from earlier in the series. (J.D. assumed that she had died and sent flowers to her family. Flowers that he bought from her at the gift shop.) We're even treated to fake flashbacks of important events in the series' past where Kim was photoshopped in a la Forrest Gump to make it look like she'd been there all along.
    • In her first episode they also added an extra bit to the opening credits where she fixes the backwards x-ray and tells the camera that it's been bugging her for years
  • The third season premiere of Sesame Street begins with a long sequence on the street, with child voice-overs knowing who everybody is, including humans (Luis, Molly, Rafael) who make their debuts in the opening scene.
  • Shameless loves this trope. Gloria and Dominic Meak are introduced as new characters in series 9, but it was implied that they had actually been on the estate the whole time (since rather than being 'introduced' as brand new, they simply walked in and were acknowledged and treated as if they were just ordinary regulars as usual).
    • The Maguire Family does this with Shane and Mickey. Shane is introduced and named towards the end of series 3, and Mickey is seen from the start in series 4. But neither of them ever officially appear, or are even named, prior to their scattered first appearances. And when they first appear, they are never never actually introduced. The show treats them as if they had always been around, and it's largely implied that they were the early Maguire brothers seen in the earlier series. Although why they would go from mindless, unreferenced thugs with no dialogue, straight to main big mouthed characters who are named on screen at every opportunity, is probably because the show was looking to promote the Maguire Family to main cast, and thus needed to give its members more substance and personality.
  • The Sopranos would pull this move nearly every season, with Tony Blundetto, Ritchie Aprile and Ralphie being notable example. In each instance, the justification was that they were in prison and the guys didn't want to talk about them.
  • Security Chief Tony Verdeschi in Space: 1999. His inclusion as a regular character and member of Commander Koenig's senior staff at the beginning of the second season is taken in stride by all the other characters despite no explanation of how he got there, especially in light of the contemporaneous disappearance of several characters from the first season.
  • Stargate SG-1: Cameron Mitchell. He's never mentioned before Season 9, and since the Season 8 finale was screwing with time, you have to wonder where he came from... According to Word of God, he was supposed to be introduced during the big Antarctica battle in Season 7 instead of just being retconned into it later.
  • From Star Trek:
    • The Cardassians are introduced in the The Next Generation season four episode "The Wounded," where it is explained that it has been only a year since the end of the long, costly war between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. However, this information means that the first two years of the show occurred during a war that was never seen, heard or experienced. Just where, exactly, was the flagship of Starfleet while the rest of the fleet was engaged in active operations? And how is it that Chief O'Brien is a veteran of the Cardassian War when he's been on the Enterprise-D since TNG's first episode? Was the Enterprise fighting in the war between episodes and nobody bothered to mention it, or are we supposed to assume that the first four seasons all took place in a single year despite all indications to the contrary? Admittedly there are a few hints that while to the Cardassians it was a major war, to the Federation it was a basically just a regional conflict, albeit an unusually long and bloody one for the period. If O'Brien served, presumably the conflict went back to before the Enterprise-D was commissioned and he was posted there. It's also possible that the first four seasons took place during a prolonged ceasefire leading up to the official peace treaty during which time the Federation was in a technical state of war with Cardassia. (There are actually countries in real life that are technically at war with each other despite not having fired a shot in decades).
    • Even Ben Sisko has a bit of this, as he's introduced in the DS9 pilot as an officer on the Saratoga during the Battle of Wolf 359. This one's at least justified, since we never actually see the battle in "Best of Both Worlds", only its aftermath.
    • Star Trek: Voyager had an episode Lyndsay Ballard, a crew member who had died and been resurrected by aliens, returns but no longer fits in; she had never been seen or mentioned before. This despite it being a Star Trek series, the Trope Namer and Trope Maker of the disposable one-shot crew member phenomenon. It's not like there's any lack of established dead or missing crew members to bring back. In fact, Ballard bears enough similarity to Ahni Jetal (see the "in-canon" examples) that it's likely that they couldn't get Jetal's actress back or something.
      • Amusingly played with by the minor character Joseph Carey, who was a regular in the first season before disappearing from the show, except for flashbacks and time hops to the period of the first season. He then showed up again in the last season without comment, just in time to be killed off. A common fan theory is that the writers forgot they hadn't actually killed him off yet.
    • In both Star Trek Into Darkness and his debut episode Space Seed, each set in different continuities, Khan Noonien Singh is established to be a genetically / eugenically engineered Ubermenschen despot from the late 20th / early 21st century, the most prominent of several in fact-, who ruled various nations across the globe, who partook in a destructive global conflict known as the Eugenics Wars. Despite this, nobody on the crew of the Enterprise has even heard his name (including the ship's historian), and they are only vaguely aware of what must have been a fairly major era in world history. Especially noticeable since they seem fairly knowledgable of several other historical figures, yet the guy who sounds like he was a latter-day Napoleon or Julius Caesar is a mystery to them. A possible justification could be that most knowledge of the Eugenics Wars was lost in World War III (which occurred not too long afterward), making Khan a somewhat obscure figure.
      • Actually, in Space Seed Scotty mentions always having had a sneaking admiration for Khan, so he was known. It's just that up to that point he'd only identified himself as Khan and it's not likely they'd recognize him by face and first name alone. Only the actual historian was able to do that.
    • Star Trek: Discovery is going this route as well, with the protagonist Michael Burnham being a human who was adopted by Spock's parents, yet Spock's step-sister has never been mentioned in any previous material. Played with in a rather clever way, since by the end of the pilot Michael's racked up a sizeable list of crimes, including mutiny and causing war to break out between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and she's sentenced to life in prison; understandable that Spock wouldn't mention her. There's also the fact that Spock and Sarek weren't on speaking terms at the time, as Spock chose to enlist in Starfleet instead of going to the Vulcan Science Academy and then joining the Vulcan Expeditionary Group (Sarek also feels guilty for choosing Spock, when he was forced to pick either Spock or Burnham for a spot in the VEG, a choice that, in the end, was futile). Oh, and neither Burnham nor Spock mention Spock's half-brother Sybok.
  • Lindsay in Teachers is introduced in the third series as part of the gang without any prior appearances.
  • In the second season of Teen Wolf, Isaac, Erica and Boyd suddenly show up, and the other teenagers act like they've gone to school with the three of them for years, even though they're very clearly not present in the first season. Suddenly, Isaac is on the lacrosse team like he's always been there, Jackson knows that Isaac's dad is abusing him because they live across the street from each other, and it's common knowledge among the students that Erica is epileptic.
  • Maggie Thorpe in the third season of Tenko. While it is mentioned that she was already an internee in the third camp in which many of the women introduced in the first season were imprisoned, she is treated as if she had always been a part of the series. The fact that she is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Blanche Simmons, a major character who was unceremoniously killed off between the second and third seasons, suggests that Louise Jameson was unavailable to reprise her role and that the planned Blanche storylines were simply reassigned to Maggie without too much alteration.
  • In That's So Raven, even though dialogue indicates that Alana and Raven have been rivals since elementary school, Alana isn't introduced or even mentioned until Season 2.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth plays it straight with Jack's never-seen-or-mentioned-before daughter and grandson. It is stated that she asked him to stay away due to his condition.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Rebekah is stated to have been with Klaus and Elijah in 15th century England despite her role not even existing at the time.
    • The Founders Council is apparently much bigger than originally thought. We don't know this until season 3 when new members like Meredith Fell and Brian Walters start to show up. And then, in season 4, a whole bunch more come out of nowhere just to be killed off.
  • The Walking Dead: It's become common since a bit after they settled in Alexandria for the main group to be on a first name basis and implied to be connected strongly with characters who were never mentioned before. Many are redshirts, though some become more important.
  • Helen's sister Casey was added to the cast in season 6 of Wings despite having never been mentioned before. Helen had mentioned a sister in a previous episode, but that sister was named Lorraine and was clearly a different person from Casey (who is implied to be her only sister), making this a Retcon as well.
  • This was the standard way to introduce new characters in The X-Files, to the point that the show was almost an "old friend of Mulder or Scully of the week" show in addition to a Monster of the Week one. For bonus points, they were usually introduced as a friend, the relationship played up for several scenes, and then killed off by the aforementioned monster. The trope was especially prevalent in the early seasons before longer plot arcs were firmly established along with longer-lived secondary characters.


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