Perpetually unseen characters in live-action TV.
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- Many Game Shows have offscreen judges who are sometimes heard, but never seen. Their job is to determine on the spot if an answer is acceptable (e.g., if the contestant gives an answer on the buzzer, or gives an alternate answer that isn't on the host's card).
- The $25,000 Pyramid carried this a step further, as their judge liked to communicate with bells and buzzers for yes and no, respectively (e.g. "Did he get in before the buzzer?" [ding]). Other times, he would jump in with the bell or buzzer if Dick or one of the panelists said something funny.
- Deal or No Deal has the Banker, who calls host Noel Edmonds on a large prop telephone to make deals with the contestants. Noel appears to talk to him, but nothing is heard in the studio. (Critic Charlie Brooker suggested he's just listening to voices in his head.) In the US version, The Banker is a silhouette sitting in a booth above the stage.
- 30 Rock: Cerie's fiancé Aeris never makes it onto the screen, even at their wedding.
- Abigail's Party: The title character in The BBC Play For Today "Abigail's Party". The play is about a middle-class dinner party with two married couples and one divorced woman. Abigail is the divorcée's teenaged daughter, who is having her own party at the same time.
- According to Jim: Jim has a friend no one else ever meets or sees. His wife Cheryl suspects he made the friend up, since it always seems he's in town and they have to go out whenever Jim wants to get out of something. She's right, Jim made him up, and he then "kills off" this friend so Cheryl doesn't expose it.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Season 1 Big Bad The Clairvoyant, the enigmatic leader of Centipede, whose own subordinates have never even met him. He doesn't finally appear until the "Uprising" Retool arc that composes the final episodes of the season, where he's revealed to be Agent John Garrett, one of HYDRA's moles inside SHIELD.
- 'Allo 'Allo!: Clarence, who drives Lieutenant Gruber's little tank or presses his uniforms.
- Also Madame Lenard, the attractive local dressmaker.
- The Powers That Be.
- The Season 5 episode "The Girl in Question" revolves around an entity known only as "The Immortal", who only appears on camera once barely visible through the crowd on a dance floor, and Buffy herself, who fills a similar role throughout the season.
- Are You Being Served?:
- Mrs. Slocombe mentions her friend Mrs. Axelby several times, but Mrs. Axelby never makes any on-screen appearances.
- More famously, she made frequent references to (and occasionally had a conversation with) "her pussy"; the feline never appeared on screen, but one litter of kittens born at the store did.
- Mister Lucas occasionally referred to his mother, who also never appeared online.
- Other characters began as this, including Mister Humphries' mother and Old Mister Grace, but did show up in later seasons.
- American Vandal: In the first season, Hanover High student Pat Micklewaite is discussed a number of times, but he's only seen via his yearbook picture and in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot at a party. Otherwise, he is never interviewed and we never hear him speak.
- Babylon 5:
- Major Atumbe, the third-in-command. Mentioned several times, but never appears because, according to the creator, they didn't want yet another on-screen recurring character. David Corwin, who started off as a bit part, would eventually assume the 3iC role.
- Another important faceless is David Sheridan, son of John Sheridan and Delenn. In all flash-forwards, David is never seen, even when John Sheridan dies. David is off training with the rangers, and they didn't want to call him back.
- This, interestingly, is because David is too important to the arc. They wanted to keep it open to eventually cast him, and there is a lot of stuff that happened with him. Revealed in the novels, of course.
- Dr Benjamin Kyle left after the Pilot Movie, becoming Earthdome's new Head of Xenobiological Research, after which he is mentioned several times but never seen. At the end of the series he is said to be retiring, and his replacement Dr Stephen Franklin departs the station to succeed him again in his job at Earthdome.
- Luis Santiago, President of the Earth Alliance during Season One, only ever appears on screen as a still image. He visits the station during "Survivors", but is only heard briefly as a voiceover. Both the picture and the voice were of executive producer Douglas Netter.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003):
- Starbuck's Mom was mentioned now and then through the series and was finally seen in Season 3. Starbuck's Dad, who was also mentioned a few times, was seen towards the end of Season 4. President Adar was mentioned throughout Season 1 and 2 and seen in flashbacks midway through Season 2. In addition, Admiral William Adama and his son Lee often talk about (Adama's father and Lee's grandfather) Joseph Adama and Lee uses his books during Baltar's trial. Joseph isn't seen in the show itself but is a protagonist in the series spinoff, Caprica.
- An honorary mention goes to the Cylon Number 7, Daniel. He was mentioned only in one episode and never seen. Thanks to Epileptic Trees, however, speculation regarding his identity and nature of involvement has persisted through the ending of the series and turned him to a near-mythical figure. Ronald D. Moore actually referred to that portion of the fandom as the "Cult of Daniel".
- Becker: Margaret's husband Lewis.
- The Big Bang Theory:
- Sheldon's "Meemaw" until she visited in Season 9. Also, Howard's mother.
- Howard and Bernadette's children, Michael and Halley. Throughout the series, the show avoided having them onscreen until the final episode, when after the Title Sequence, Bernadette picked Michael out of his crib, and Howard walked in with Halley soon afterward.
- Birds of a Feather: Marcus, Dorian's husband. He eventually makes three appearances. (He also appears in a Christmas special, played by a different actor.)
- Blossom: Six's parents, although Six's mother was seen in one episode.
- The Bob Newhart Show: Mr. Peterson's domineering wife, Doris. Unfortunately, she was shown once, which made all the jokes about her much less funny.
- In Broad City, Abbi's roommate is often mentioned but never seen. (In one episode, she appears in a couple of photos with her face obscured). Her freeloading boyfriend, meanwhile, is a constant nuisance in Abbi's life.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Lothos is one in the series; he and his minions are vaguely referenced in the first episode. (For context, Lothos was Buffy's arch-nemesis in the movie, and there he was indeed seen on screen.)
- Hank Summers, Buffy and Dawn's dad, became this after Season 2, the exceptions being "The Weight of the World" (in a flashback) and "Normal Again" (in the Cuckoo Nest).
- Castle: Martha's Old Flame/boyfriend Chet never appears onscreen, even after she (sort of) moves in with him.
- The Children's Corner: Mister Rogers (see the entry for The Unintelligible for more details on this show).
- ChuckleVision: Dan the Van. Often mentioned by the Chuckle Brothers or spoken to on the phone. Appeared in one episode, covered entirely in bandages.
- The Colbert Report: Parodied in one episode, when Stephen Colbert says that an imaginary state district's residents include Vera from Cheers, Charlie Brown's teacher, and the smoke monster from Lost.
- Columbo: Mrs. Columbo is a prime example of the phenomenon. Though she never appeared in the series, a spinoff which ran under several titles featured as its lead a character purported to be the detective's wife, in which Columbo himself was likewise a Ghost. "Kate Columbo" is generally considered by the makers of the Columbo series to not, in fact, be the same person, but either the wife of an entirely different detective of the same name, or (in a line cut from an actual Columbo episode) an impostor.
- There are fan theories that the missus does not even exist, and is perhaps just something Columbo uses as an conversational technique to get people to open up. However, there has been at least one instance of another character saying he had just met Mrs. Columbo, indicating she does exist.
- Corner Gas: Wanda's son, Tanner.
- Coronation Street has "Fat" Brenda, who works for Street Cars. She once appeared briefly in an online spin-off but was only seen from the ankles down.
- Dad's Army: Captain Mainwaring's wife Elizabeth. The closest we come to seeing her is the disturbingly large bulge she makes in the top matress of a bunk bed, while Mainwaring himself is on the bottom bunk.
- Dear Ladies: In the 1980s British sitcom starring the female impersonators Hinge and Bracket many unseen characters were mentioned most notably Teddy and Peggy Tranter although Teddy and Dame Hilda would talk on the phone in most episodes.
- Degrassi: The Next Generation has Heather Sinclair. She's a running joke between the writers and is basically only brought up when there needs to be drama in an episode but it's not between the main characters. Curiously enough, Heather's younger sister Holly J was brought onto the show in later seasons.
- Diff'rent Strokes: "The Gooch", a bully Arnold feared (and judging by the descriptions of him, downright freakish).
- Doctor Who: Sarah Jane's Aunt Lavinia, whom she frequently referred to during her time as the Doctor's companion, but who only appeared in the later Spin-Off K-9 and Company. Sarah Jane continues to reference her in The Sarah Jane Adventures, where she's become a Posthumous Character.
- Drake & Josh: Bruce Winchill, although often talked about, doesn't even make a cameo appearance. This is probably the one character that should not have been a hidden character.
- Dream On: Martin's ex-wife's husband Richard, who is portrayed as Always Someone Better compared to Martin.
- Drop the Dead Donkey:
- Jerry the cameraman. He is never seen as he is always behind the camera. Due to the situations that Damien places him in he is always the Fall Guy.
- He does show up at least once, at a Christmas party covered head to toe in bandages.
- Sir Royston Merchant, the media mogul who owns Globelink News (until a brief appearance in the final episode).
- In the Enemy at the Door two-parter "Steel Hand From the Sea"/"The Laws and Usages of War", the fisherman Joe Le Bec is often mentioned and plays a significant part in the plot without ever appearing on screen.
- The Facts of Life: Snake, Natalie's boyfriend in the later seasons. He does show up in the latter half of the final season, just in time for a Very Special Episode about Natalie being the first of the girls to "get her V-Card punched."
- Faking It: Shane's dad, who's mentioned though not seen (while his mother and sister both appear).
- Family Matters: Steve Urkel's parents. In one episode, we see a baby picture of Steve with his mother holding him. The glare partially obscures her face, however.
- The Fast Show: Maureen, the barman's wife in one darkly comedic sketch. The barman would chat to his regulars about her, call up the stairs to her—usually "Maureen? It's getting busy down here!"—and when she didn't respond, he did whatever he'd asked her for himself. No one reminds him that she died several years ago and he's in denial.
- Father Ted: The priests would occasionally list another attribute of "Father Bigley", (he wears perfume, has lips like a fish) but the character never appeared on-screen.
- Fawlty Towers: Audrey. She did end up appearing in the episode "The Anniversary".
- In Frasier, Vera (a ghost character in Cheers) was reincarnated in Niles's wife Maris. She wasn't originally meant to be a ghost, but as the series when on, the show's creators realized her off-screen descriptions had gotten extreme to the point where no actress could play her. You do see a (very hazy) silhouette in one episode and (in a flashback) her bandage-covered face in another.
- The trope and character were referenced in an episode of The Simpsons, where Bart covers Cecil Terwilliger's eyes and says "guess who", to distract him. Cecil, voiced by David Hyde Pierce, Niles's actor, guesses "Maris?"
- Only four of Daphne's eight brothers are ever portrayed on screen, though there is a brief scene in one episode where they all briefly flood into a room (played by extras).
- "Fresh Meat": Paul Lamb, the "Invisible Man", the seventh housemate of the first season. The only time he shows up "in person" is when he throws the gym equipment JP set up in his room out the window; the audience only sees the equipment fly out as JP pleads with him to stop. His mother appears in the season finale, saying that he's been out of school, having suffered a mental breakdown from feeling unnoticed. The main characters never even noticed he left.
- Friends: Ugly Naked Guy. He is seen twice, though not completely: his rear end and his hand in "The One With the Giant Poking Device", and also from behind in the episode where Ross is trying to get his apartment.
- An in-universe example: Phoebe's roommate Denise. She's mentioned a few times, but the rest of the friends have never seen her. It's left ambiguous as to whether she ever existed.Phoebe: I talk about her all the time, DENISE!
- An in-universe example: Phoebe's roommate Denise. She's mentioned a few times, but the rest of the friends have never seen her. It's left ambiguous as to whether she ever existed.
- Fringe: William Bell. In the Season 1 finale, he's finally seen, played by Leonard Nimoy.
- Full House: Kimmy's parents.
- Fuller House: Michelle, due to the Olsen twins declining to return.
- Game of Thrones: Several characters.
- Stannis Baratheon in Season 1. He is only occasionally talked about by other characters. Stephen Dillane portrays him from Season 2 onwards.
- Like Stannis, Balon Greyjoy never appears in the first season, and is talked about by other characters. Patrick Malahide portrays him in Season 2.
- Mance Rayder in Season 2.
- Roose Bolton's bastard, Ramsay Snow, in Season 2. He later appears in Season 3.
- Brandon Stark is only mentioned in the show and only seen in the Blu-Ray lore.
- Walda Bolton is mentioned (although not by name) in Season 3, but isn't seen on-screen until Season 4.
- Howland Reed, in-universe as well as out. House Reed's seat, Greywater Watch, is constantly moving because it is built on a floating island, and has never been found by anyone not led by a Crannogman guide. The Crannogmen, while exceptionally loyal to the Starks, are mercurial and reclusive by nature, and all live on floating islands similar to the one Greywater Watch lies on, making them nearly impossible to find if they don't want to be found. And, because passing between the south and North requires knowledge of the floating islands or the Crannogmen's own secret routes, they have proven extremely difficult to conquer and strategically essential. And of course as he's the only living witness to what happened at the Tower of Joy (Lyanna Stark's death, Ned's promise to her). The third episode of Season 6 provides our first cross-media glimpse of him, in which he's revealed to be the real winner of Ned Stark's famous fight with Arthur Dayne. He still has no lines, though.
- House Manderly are repeatedly said to be one of the largest Northern houses after the Boltons, along with the Umbers and Karstarks, but don't appear. Wyman Manderly finally shows up in The Winds of Winter.
- Ser Stafford Lannister doesn't even appear onscreen. Not alive, anyways. He's certainly among the many Lannister casualties shown in the Battle of Oxcross' aftermath.
- Marya Seaworth lives at Davos' keep while he serves Stannis at Dragonstone.
- Lord Selwyn Tarth hasn't appeared, and likely never will, unwritten books notwithstanding.
- Euron and Aeron Greyjoy. Before Euron's casting in Season 5 and Aeron's casting in Season 6, we didn't hear anything about them, only that Theon had 'uncles' during a talk between Tyrion and Theon early in Season 1.
- Gavin & Stacey: Smithy's girlfriend Lucy.
- George Smiley: In the BBC serial adaptations of John Le Carre's George Smiley novels, Karla is almost entirely invisible. He appears once in flashback in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and once in Smiley's People for just ten seconds during his defection. He doesn't speak in either appearance. Despite this he drives the entire plot of both series.
- Gilmore Girls:
- Allegedly, Lane Kim's dad is this. It is a rather strange case because not only is he never seen onscreen, he also is never really mentioned, except in cases when Lane would say "my parents" instead of "my mum". Word of God has it he not only exists but also lives together with his wife, Mrs. Kim, who appears quite frequently. (Seventeen years later, he finally made an on-screen appearance... for all of one second.)
- Al of Al's Pancake World is never seen onscreen even though the girls frequent the establishment often, almost as much as Luke's Diner.
- Glee: Rachel's gay dads on the show, though they're seen with her in a photo booth picture strip in the pilot episode. They've been introduced and had almost a whole episode dedicated to them as of season three.
- The Golden Girls: All of the girls mention relatives who are never seen.
- Dorothy's brother Phil, a cross-dresser who is married to Angela, a welder. Angela does appear in the episode where Phil dies.
- Blanche's daughters, Janet and Rebecca, are each featured at least once, but her sons Biff, Doug, Skippy, and Matthew are never seen.
- Sophia's sister Angela and brother Angelo make several appearances, but her sister Regina and brother Vito are only ever mentioned.
- Only two of Rose's five children, Kirsten and Bridget, ever appear; we do not meet Adam, Gunilla (pronounced "Jenella"), or Charlie Jr. And most of her family and friends from St. Olaf live on only in legend.
- Good Eats: Alton Brown uses the viewer as The Watson, much like Ernest P. Worrell example.
- The Good Life: A number of Margo's acquaintances, including Miss Mountshaft of the music society, are talked about regularly but are never seen.
- Gotham has Judge Bam-Bam, Harvey Bullock's go-to judge for getting warrants, who has the odd distinction of never having appeared despite the show being a Crime Procedural.
- Hannah Montana: Uncle Earl and Aunt Pearl. Aunt Pearl continues to be this; Uncle Earl was until mid Season 2, when he was portrayed in all his larger-than-life glory by David Koechner.
- Happy Days: Jenny Piccalo for the first few seasons. Her character became noticeably Lighter and Softer once she was brought onscreen.
- Heartbeat: Mrs. Ventress.
- Heroes: Linderman was mentioned in just about every episode without being seen until he was finally revealed near the end of Season 1.
- Hi-de-Hi!: Holiday camp supremo Joe Maplin. He was intended to be played by Bob Monkhouse, who in the end was unavailable for filming, so it was decided to make him a Ghost.
- Hogan's Heroes:
- A dubbed example is Klink's housekeeper/possible mistress. Never heard of her? You weren't watching the dub, where dialogue relating to Hitler or other topics verboten on German television were replaced by more innocent dialogue about Klink's housekeeper. She was never seen because originally she never existed.
- This was also featured prominently in the non-dubbed version with regards to historical figures associated with World War II. The best example would be Hitler himself, whose appearances outside of background pictures and paintings only occur in the form of being on the other end of a telephone conversation or the heroes impersonating him.
- Home Improvement: Al's Mom. Similarly, they built up Al's mother's weight so long that there was no way they'd actually get anybody to play her. There'd need to be unimaginable amounts of padding. After she dies, we get to see her casket, which is the size of a station wagon and requires no fewer than seventeen pallbearers.
- Throughout the series, it's mentioned that Tim has four brothers. However, we only ever meet two of them.
- House: Wilson's third wife, Julie. (His first two wives did appear on the show.)
- How I Met Your Mother: The Mother, the woman who Ted will marry and have the children that he's telling his story to. The reason none of the characters in the present day ever talk about her is because they haven't met her yet, but since the show is told in a flashback, Future!Ted's narration refers to her many, many, many times, yet her face is never seen and her voice is never heard. Her ankle is briefly glimpsed in "Girls vs. Suits", and a dark figure carrying a yellow umbrella (which signifies the Mother, whose yellow umbrella connected her and Ted without either of them knowing it, and will somehow be a part of their first meeting) is seen in "Wait for It" and "No Tomorrow". Even in flash forwards to times after Ted met her, she is conveniently never seen. For example, in "How I Met Everyone Else", when Ted, Marshall, and Lilly are shown hiding in the hall and smoking confiscated weed during their college class reunion in the year 2020, the scene ends with Ted giggling "Dude, where's my wife?"
- She is finally revealed in Season 8.
- iCarly: Sam's mom - until the episode "iSam's Mom" - Carly's dad - until the series finale "iGoodbye" - and Spencer's friend Socko, as well as many of his relatives.
- In Treatment: In Season 1, Laura's father and her fiancé Andrew, Sophie's father and her coach Cy, Jake and Amy's son Lenny, and Alex's father and family (until after the funeral).
- The trope is also deconstructed at season's end when Paul and Gina talk about how many people they get to know from their conversations with patients but usually never meet.
- Just Shoot Me!:
- Both Allie, Jack Gallo's young wife and Binnie, Nina's best friend.
- Both characters eventually appeared onscreen. Jack's wife Allie made her first appearance in the fourth season finale, a Cliffhanger that ends with her sleeping with Finch. Binnie appeared both in a Halloween Episode and as a ghost in one of the final episodes; in both she was The Faceless (covered in bandages in the former, seen only from the back in the latter).
- Donald Trump, Jack's friendly rival, also qualifies.
- And in early episodes there are mentions of one Baxter from accounting.
- Kath and Kim: Kim constantly refers to Sharon as her second best friend. Her alleged best friend, Tina, has never appeared.
- Keeping Up Appearances:
- Hyacinth's sister Violet and son Sheridan, though only in the first season. Violet does fully appear in the second while Sheridan makes one appearance as The Voiceless.
- Liz's husband was mentioned from time to time, but his job required a lot of travel, so we never got to see him.
- Kenan & Kel: Chris's mother. This gets lampshaded in the episode where the boys are housesitting for him, and all the pictures with his mother in them just happen to have her blocked, causing Kenan to realize he's never actually seen Chris's mom.
- Kim's Convenience: Mrs. Park's husband Mr. Park is alluded to several times (especially when their trouble marriage is mentioned), but he's yet to make an appearance unlike his wife and daughter.
- Kingdom Adventure: The Emperor (being the series' God-analog in a Religious Edutainment show) is mentioned often, but is never on screen.
- Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge: Roger Moore in one episode. Alan keeps expecting Roger to show up for the entire episode, and valiantly attempts to host a segment called "An Audience with Roger Moore", despite Roger's absence.
- The Latest Buzz: "Daddy's Assistant", whom Amanda was constantly harassing on the phone. He finally appears on screen in the Grand Finale. Also Rebecca's grandmother 'Baba', and DJ's mother.
- In Life Is Worth Living, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen would refer to an Angel who erased a blackboard used on the program. The Angel is never seen, since the host would move away so the blackboard and whoever erased it was off-screen. When transcripts of the series were published, illustrations would show an angel along with recreated diagrams.
- Life on Mars (2006): "The Missus" Hunt, who spends quite a bit of time out of town at her mother's; an inexplicably deleted line from the Ashes to Ashes (2008) pilot has her leaving Gene for another woman.
- Lois & Clark: Alice, Perry White's wife. We see her from the neck down in one late-season episode.
- Lost: Jacob until near the end of Season 5.
- In the Austrian Black Comedy MA 2412, Breitfuss and Weber actually have another co-worker whos name is Löwi. He is mentioned multiple times by their boss, usually asking what he is up to, which is always answered with, that Löwi is on vacation, on sick leave, doing out door duties, etc. The fact that he doesn't even has a desk in the office fits perfectly in with the series theme of lazy and corrupt bureaucrats.
- Marion and Geoff has, interestingly enough, the title characters. Despite the title, the show is all about chauffeur Rob Brydon talking about them and other people. The events are entirely Second-Hand Storytelling. They did eventually appear in the prequel, A Small Summer Party.
- Similarly (and predating Al's mother) is Peg's mother from Married... with Children. She was audible in several cases, and a few times parts of her massive bulk were shown, but she was never seen fully.
- Martin: Big Shirley is a woman whose reputed size and appetite make it nigh impossible for her to be portrayed by a real person on screen. However, before her legend grows, she is briefly seen in the Season 2 episode "Got to Be There." Her body is shown while she is asleep on Martin's couch after a party. Martin names her Big Shirley as he is telling Cole she has to leave.
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Phyllis's husband, Lars.
- Mathnet: There's George Frankly's wife Martha who's never seen even when there's a party at her and George's house. She was behind the camera.
- Men Behaving Badly: Gary repeatedly mentions his friend Clive in conversation, but Clive is never seen. (This was a Hand Wave of sorts, to tell the audience the cast did have friends other than each other.) Clive appears in the episode dealing with Gary's non-wedding, as the one to whom the task of filming the whole shebang falls. Needless to say, the only thing you see is his legs, although you do occasionally hear his leering comments.
- The Mighty Boosh: In the first season, Vince and Howard mention their friend Leroy, who apparently has influence on the show. His face is actually seen in one scene, but only for a few seconds, and covered completely by KISS-style make-up.
- Minder has possibly one of the earliest examples: "'Er Indoors", Arthur's wife.
- Modern Family has Phil's mother, who is never shown despite it being implied on a number of occasions that she's just out of shot during webcam conversations with the family. Her death is the central plot point for the Season 4 finale; she dies before the start of the episode, without ever appearing onscreen.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: Played hilariously in one final season episode. An ordinary man walks into an ant shop and gets mistaken for someone named "Michael Ellis" whom we never see (though apparently he's done something that warrants the store's clerks greeting him by wearing a creepy mask and slowly emerging from behind the counter). Throughout the whole episode this guy keeps getting brought up at random intervals, and just to make things even more frustrating, the protagonist's mother angrily turns off (one of) the televisions just as a newsman is about to explain everything. It also certainly does not help that while Michael Ellis himself never appears, we see a random man who fits the physical description (the manager of the ant shop says he's extremely short).
- The name of that episode is, fittingly enough, "Michael Ellis".
- My Hero: Mrs. Raven's triplets.
- My So-Called Life: Tino. He got a Shout-Out in Juno.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: Cambot. Which makes sense as he is the camera taping the show. However, you do see him in the opening credits (looking into a mirror), though his appearance changes between theme-song updates.
- The Nanny: Morty, Fran Fine's dad was pretty much this until he finally appeared for real in one of the last episodes. Up to that point he had only had a couple of appearances as The Faceless, even in an episode that was set almost entirely in Morty and Sylvia's apartment. (In the episode where he finally did appear, Max half-jokingly said that he wasn't even sure the man existed.)
- Only Fools and Horses: Marlene Boyce for the first three seasons. She was frequently mentioned by the characters, usually to wind up her husband Boycie by implying she'd really got around, but made her first appearance in Season 4, episode 5. Luckily they hadn't quite built her up to the point where no-one could play her.
- Del's friend Monkey Harris was also this, as were their oft-mentioned but never seen business associates Sunglasses Ron and Paddy the Greek.
- Orange Is the New Black: Unusually for a show set inside a prison, the Warden is never seen, and we aren't told anything about him, not even his name. He's frequently mentioned (by his title only) by prison staff, though, who all seem terrified of him, and do their best to make sure he never learns about any big problems.
- In Season 3, the Warden is abruptly fired after the prison is sold to a private company. Joe Caputo, who has been a frequently recurring character since the first episode, becomes the new Warden, essentially undoing this trope. The old Warden is never mentioned again, and we never do see him or find out a single thing about him.
- Our Miss Brooks:
- Mrs. Davis' eccentric sister Angela is frequently discussed by Mrs. Davis at the breakfast table. Angela, however, remains unheard (on the radio) and unseen (on television) for quire awhile. Eventually, Jessica makes several appearances on the television series (sometimes as her sister's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, at a time when actress Jane Morgan suffered a stroke). The role was played by Canadian actress Jesselyn Fax. Fax also performed the role at least twice on the radio.
- Similarly, Mrs. Davis' much discussed brother Victor goes several years without being seen. He finally makes one appearance in the second television season, the episode "The Egg".
- Outnumbered: A running gag is that Sue's boss is never seen: Veronica in the first series, Tyson in the second.
- The Parkers: Kim's friend Shaquan was frequently talked about throughout the series but was never seen until the final episode when it was revealed that Shaquan is Asian.
- Parks and Recreation: Dr. Richard Nygard, guru of Chris Traeger.
- Party of Five: In a What If? episode where the parents had never died, the parents themselves are not seen in the episode apart from a blurry scene at the end and the mother's voice on the answering machine.
- Pixelface: The boy who owns and plays the games. The characters inside the console just refer to him as 'the boy'.
- Portlandia: Royce from the Portland Milk Advisory Board mentions his girlfriend Tanya a few times, once describing her as 'Frankenstein-esque'. Tanya shows up in one skit but is not visible to the audience.
- Power Rangers Zeo: It is mentioned that King Mondo's Arch-Enemy is someone named King Aradon. Mondo's first-built son Prince Gasket fell in love with Aradon's daughter Princess Archerina, and the two eloped, knowing their parents would never approve of their relationship. Although both Gasket and Archerina are valid threats to heroes during the brief period that Mondo is believed to be dead, Aradon himself is never seen.
- Psych: Shawn and the rest of the crew frequently refer to Dobson, an SBPD officer, for eight years, but never actually interact with him.
- This is finally averted, appropriately enough, in the series finale. Dobson is seen for the first and last time for less than a minute, in which time he gets a friendship bracelet from Mira Sorvino, and Shawn leaves him a farewell message, saying he heard Dobson was heroic, and the kind of man he would've admired. Of course, knowing the kind of guy Shawn was, he'd have admired Dobson even more if he'd known Dobson looked just like Val Kilmer.
- Raw: Shane's wife Anna. She appears in episode 5 and that's it.
- The Red Green Show: Half the cast were ghosts, including Moose Thompson, Stinky Peterson, Buster Hadfield, Old Man Sedgewick, Junior Singleton, Harold's parents, and Red's wife Bernice. Even more ironic is that quite often one or more of these ghost characters (or sometimes a one-off ghost) would play crucial roles in the plot of the episode. This actually becomes funnier because we usually only see the characters' reactions to what happens, and just what sort of shenanigans they got into with Moose Thomson or Old Man Sedgewick left to our imaginations. What the audience pictures in their head based on what is described is probably a lot funnier than anything the writing team could come up with.
- Enid, Dr. Kelso's wife, and his son Harrison. He often relates anecdotes about them to his staff or is seen talking to them on the phone, but they never once visit him at the hospital. Enid is seen at least once from behind (without her face showing) in a flashback. Harrison is also (just) seen in a photo that Kelso is holding.
- R.N. Laverne Roberts' husband and son.
- Possible parody in most/all of the Janitor's anecdotes. He's constantly referencing Ghost characters who never appear, with the reality of those Ghosts being called into question constantly. Even once when his Father made an actual appearance, he later mentions his father having died years ago, when J.D. responds with the fact that he'd met the Janitor's father, the Janitor replies "You met a Man". This also builds up to a subversion of the trope. After an entire series of the Janitor making up people, he mentions a girlfriend named "Lady". You're led to believe she's another made up Ghost for a while until she actually appears and the two get married.
- Sea Change: A man known only as Bucket is mentioned constantly, usually in humorous circumstances, but we never get to see him. (One time we see a boat he is driving, packed with fireworks, crash into the newly-repaired bridge.) If you piece together all the throwaway remarks people make about him in the show, he becomes a man of very strange appearance and habits: he apparently has no arms, legs or teeth, and he enjoys stealing people's ride-on lawnmowers and drinking out of his dog's bowl when he gets drunk.
- The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Mike, Leo's chauffeur. He's gotten several mentions and has driven several of the characters around (off-screen, of course), but he's never put in an appearance.
- Seinfeld: Kramer often refers to friends of his that never appear in the show proper, such as Bob Sacamano and Lomez. In one episode, Jerry asks Kramer why he's never met any of these people. Kramer replies that they're all asking why they've never met him.
- The Sopranos: Ercole "Ecky" DiMeo, the boss of the crime family, was sent to prison years before the events of the show. Though the crime family still bears his name, it's actually run by his underlings.
- Star Trek has quite a few examples:
- The Chef on Star Trek: Enterprise. May be a Shout-Out to an episode of the original Star Trek (where the Chef over the comm system was voiced by Gene Roddenberry), though in the series finale, it's Riker from TNG standing in for the Chef. He makes a Faceless appearance in a second season episode, where the lower half of his body can be seen as he passes food down.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- Throughout the series, there were many offscreen Star Trek: The Original Series aliens constantly being mentioned, but never being shown. The Orions (yeah, them) were the villains of one episode...by way of non-Orion enforcers, with no actual Orions ever showing up. Star Trek: Enterprise would return them to the television screen for the first time in 35-ish years...and also threw in the Tarkaleans, whose only presence at the time had been their getting mentioned (especially by way of "Tarkalean tea") but not seen in Deep Space Nine.
- Lt. Vilix'Pran and his ever-growing brood of budlings were sometimes mentioned. Jake is even supposed to have baby-sat some, which involved keeping their wings untangled.
- Jadzia has an ex-boyfriend with a transparent skull who fits this trope nicely.
- Bashir's friend Felix is mentioned a few times but never seen. Felix designs holodeck programs which occasionally fuel the plotlines of some Deep Space Nine episodes, most notably a Tuxedo and Martini spy caper in "Our Man Bashir" and a '50s era Vegas nightclub, hosted by Vic Fontaine, a self-aware holographic crooner.
- The Breen on Star Trek: The Next Generation were something of a running in-joke. They were never shown on screen but were supposedly a dangerous empire and enemy of the Federation. Characters would often wrongly suspect their involvement in the conflict of the week but they were always red herrings. They were eventually revealed on Deep Space Nine, but it turned out Breen wear body suits (which look very much like the bounty hunter disguise Leia wore in Return of the Jedi) at all times as they breathe differently, so their actual bodies are covered. The never-seen Tzenkethi filled a similar role thereafter.
- Star Trek: Voyager had the Delaney twins from Stellar Cartography, pursued by Tom Paris and Harry Kim in the early seasons but never seen. Tom eventually hooks up with B'Elanna Torres putting an end to his womanising while Kim became a Fatal Attractor, so the tempting twins were seldom mentioned until they made a surprise one-off appearance in the Captain Proton holodeck program, playing "The Twin Mistresses of Evil" opposing Tom and Harry's hero and sidekick parts.
- The Steve Harvey Show: Makes many references to characters' family members that are never seen: Regina (has a brother who married a white woman and moved to Arizona), Steve (has a sister who is a dentist and whose dental school tuition was paid by Steve writing jingles, also has a brother who married a white woman), Ced (mother), Lovita (many, many family members named for products, but brother Duracell is most talked about along with her mother).
- In Supergirl, Superman himself is this, only ever referenced as Kara's cousin, with "Kal-El" being the only name spoken. Most characters actively avoid using the superhero name or even his secret identity (those who know it). Just "him" or "my cousin". When he appears in a flashback to give young Kara to her Earth foster parents, his face is obscured by the sun right behind him, and the picture Kara finds in James Olsen's stuff is extremely blurry. Later in the series, he continues to appear as a blur or have his face be obscured by the sun-in the finale, we see him lying down at the DEO, but only his boots are visible. Averted in Season 2, however.
- Teen Wolf: Greenberg is on the lacrosse team at Beacon Hills High. Despite never appearing onscreen, he is continuously mocked in class and blamed for the team's failures by Coach Finstock. It is entirely possible that Greenberg is in fact a delusion or figment of Coach's imagination.
- Tensou Sentai Goseiger: Episode 38 builds up to a visit from Nozomu's mother, with the Goseigers fighting to save the train she is supposed to be on, only to find out at the end that she missed the train and will not be coming. Her voice is heard in a telephone conversation, and the Goseigers look at a photo of her (which the viewer doesn't see) but she never appears on screen.
- That '70s Show: All but one of Kelso's siblings. Donna briefly dates Kelso's brother in Season 4, but he's the only one who ever appeared on screen, yet others are mentioned.
- That Beryl Marston...: The title character is not actually in the ITV sitcom of that title (it's about a couple played by Julia McKenzie and Gareth Hunt, and the effect of Hunt's affair with Marston on their marriage).
- That's So Raven: In one episode, Chelsie and Eddie win a prize from a radio contest that is never actually seen but viewers are given clues as to what it is. It's implied that it's a toy robot dog.
- Touched by an Angel, and indeed most non-comedy programs in which He is a character, has God. He finally appears in the last episode as part of Monica's promotion test.
- Tweenies: Honorable mention: Bella's Gran. She did make one appearance though, in "Jake and the Beanstalk" (she's watching the Tweenies doing a Christmas pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Jake).
- Twin Peaks: Cooper is constantly recording messages for his secretary, but we never see her. She appears in person in The Return when she's called in to tell if Cooper's Evil Twin is the real thing.
- Welcome Back, Kotter: Principal Lazarus is frequently referred to but never seen. Wise guy Juan Epstein has a friendly personal relationship with Lazarus, referring to him by his first name, "Jack".
- The President in The West Wing was intended to be this, showing up three or four times a season at most. Then they cast Martin Sheen.
- Whoops Apocalypse!: Subversion Jane, wife of President Cyclops, appears to be this. The President can be heard to speak with her over the telephone. The closing shot of the series reveals that she is in fact one of the few characters to make an appearance in every episode as the mushroom seller in the title sequence.
- Will & Grace: Stan (occasionally The Faceless).
- Wings: Lowell's cousin Beavo.
- The X-Files:
- Danny, especially in the early seasons. Danny was another FBI Agent whom primarily Mulder would occasionally call upon for information. One writer for the show joked that he was "a gnome that lives in Mulder's desk drawer." He was never seen or heard throughout the run of the show.
- Scully's younger brother Charlie is often mentioned but never seen, except briefly in a flashback to Scully's childhood.