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The Ghost / Video Games

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Perpetually unseen characters in video games.

  • Phoenix Wright is this in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, or almost - He can be seen rowing just off the bridge in the third case, along with Maya and Pearl. He makes a similar cameo in the game's sequel.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Until the iOS game, Batman Arkham Underworld, Carmine Falcone was this, he never put in a physical appearance until Underworld (in part in City and Knight due to Hugo Strange forcing him out of the city, according to the Arkham City Stories). According to the interview tapes in Arkham City, he's the one who caused Harvey Dent to become Two-Face (taking Sal Maroni's role) and was the true power behind the Red Hood Gang that'd spawn the future Joker, as well as one of his businesses, Falcone Shipping, being seen in the Joker's turf and a Sequel Hook to Arkham Knight. In Origins, the Penguin tries to use his son, Alberto, to force Falcone out of the weapons business and in Knight, there's another Falcone warehouse.
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    • Likewise, while stuff tied to other villains appear, including Maxie Zeus's cell and a business he owns, the Ratcatcher's equipment, the Joker using the Ventriloquist's Scarface dummy, Count Vertigo and Toyman's cells, and some of the body parts the Great White Shark lost, they themselves don't appear in the games.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine:
    • Grant Cohen has left at least one audio log and is important enough for his office to appear in the game, but he himself hasn't.
    • Henry's body is deliberately left completely off-screen at all times. Not even his arms are shown when handling objects.
    • Although Wally Franks has left useful clues for puzzles in the studio, he has yet to appear in-person.
  • The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble: Woodruff and The Schnibble of Azimuth has the eponymous Schnibble, the savior of the city, who everybody the player meets says is just around the corner. Near the end, it's revealed that the Schnibble was a fictional person invented by Professor Azimuth to give the people hope, and inspire people to action, helping the less fortunate. Since the player has done exactly that, he has effectively become the Schnibble.
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  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, a mysterious girl called Amelie is alluded to several times, but never seen, and only communicates with the player once, via a letter she left behind in an Easter Egg location. (No, not with the player character, the player).
  • Captain John Alder, the captain of the Retribution in Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare, is talked about several times in the first two missions. The one time he appears, he's already dead and in a body bag.
  • According to the backstory of Castlevania: Judgment, the entity responsible for sending the Time Reaper back in time to change history is Galamoth, better known as the main villain of Kid Dracula and the Bonus Boss in Symphony of the Night. He never appears in the game, and aside from one of the Time Reaper's death screams, his identity is never revealed.
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  • Ultimately averted twice in excellent fashion in Cave Story. After Grasstown/Bushlands, Jack, if you talk to him, will tell you about how Arthur drove away a red demon. Later, after defeating the Core, you're told about Jenka, a woman met earlier in the Sand Zone, having a younger brother named Ballos. If you don't get the Booster 2.0, both of these people will never be seen. If you at least get the Booster 2.0, you'll be able to finish what Arthur started and fight the Red Demon/Ogre. If you go for the True Ending, which requires a second item in addition to the spoiler-covered item, then you learn more of Ballos's backstory. The second through fifth parts of the True Final Boss battle is against Ballos, the man who created the Demon Crown.
  • Dark Souls:
    • In the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, you travel back in time and can personally meet the other three knights (and even kill them). Nothing of the Furtive Pygmy, though. Although it's implied that he became Manus, Father of the Abyss and Big Bad of the DLC.
    • On a similar note, several of the mentioned gods, kings, and warriors, such as Velka and Allfather Lloyd and technically Gwynevere, as the one you see in Anor Londo is an illusion by her brother.
  • The Hero of Ferelden has become this in Dragon Age: Inquisition. They get mentioned by several characters, most particularly Leliana; statues erected in their honor are found in Redcliffe Village and Halamshiral Palace; and one late-game war room mission enables the Inquisitor to receive a letter from them. But at no time do they actually appear.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Several races are mentioned in the series' backstory and lore but have not yet been seen in-game in the main series. These include the Imga (intelligent ape men) of Valenwood, all of the races of Akavir (the Tsaesci, the Ka Po' Tun, the Tang Mo, and the Kamal) as well as the Maormer (Sea Elves), though they do finally make an appearance in Online. Likewise, the Sload (slug-men) of Thras have so far only appeared in the The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard spin-off game but are still mentioned in the other games.
    • While the Khajiit are known to have at least 17 distinct sub-species, only two have actually been seen in the main series games to date - the Ohmes/Ohmes-raht (Arena and Daggerfall) and Suthay/Suthay-raht (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Online). However, the Legends digital card battle game shows the Cathay-raht ("Jaguar Men"), Dagi-raht (a smaller sub-breed with an affinity for climbing trees and using magic), and Pahmar-raht ("Tiger Men" and the largest bi-pedal sub-species).
    • The Ideal Masters are immortal beings who were once powerful mortal sorcerers during the Merethic Era. After finding their mortal forms to be too weak and limiting, they entered Oblivion as beings of pure energy and settled an area of "chaotic creatia", forming the Soul Cairn. The Ideal Masters have never actually been seen, though they will use gem forms to communicate with mortals (as well as capture their souls).
    • Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who ascended after his death as Talos, the Ninth Divine, is an extremely influence Posthumous Character in the series. Even in the only game which takes place during his lifetime, the spin-off game Redguard, he does not make an appearance.
    • Emperor Uriel Septim VII is one in Morrowind. He is mentioned frequently and is the impetus for the game's plot, sending the Nerevarine to Morrowind, but does not appear himself.
    • Unless one follows the Dark Brotherhood questline to its conclusion, Emperor Titus Mede II is mentioned but never seen in Skyrim.
  • Neo is mentioned numerous times in Enter the Matrix, but only appears once, in a film clip of him saving Morpheus and the Keymaker. Interestingly, he is seemingly aware of your existence, as Trinity passes a message from him to you in the hacking minigame.
  • In Fable II there is Nicky "the Nickname" Chalmers, who appears to be a crimelord in Bowerstone oldtown, occasionally mentioned by Afur, but never seen in-game.
  • Ulysses acts as this in Fallout: New Vegas. When you first hear about him, you never even learn his name, he just sounds like some guy that used to know the Courier somehow. Throughout the game and the various DLC's we slowly hear more and more about him but never see or hear him while everything is built up about how the final battle between him and the Courier will essentially change the fates of everyone. He's finally revealed in the Lonesome Road DLC which is all about the final confrontation between him and the Courier.
  • Ryder's pal LB in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is apparently a master of the Stealth Hi/Bye, dropping things off and then disappearing before CJ, i.e., the player, gets to see him.
  • Admiral Mattius Drake in Halo is the leader of the New Colonial Alliance, founding the group while he was still a high-ranking UNSC admiral, with his true colors only being revealed after some members of an NCA cell trying to steal the UNSC Infinity were captured. Drake is currently in hiding, and while the NCA has involved in a number of incidents since, with Drake himself being mentioned multiple times, he has still not made a direct appearance so far.
  • King Taskan II in Hype: The Time Quest is often referenced by the characters and is arguably one of the characters that helped Hype to get back to his own time the most (by finding the Lost City and entrusting a map to guide him there to Hype's allies), but he is never encountered in-game as he is away from Torras when Hype visits Torras during his reign.
  • Kingdom Hearts plays with this trope in regard to its Big Bad, Xehanort:
    • The apprentice of Ansem the Wise, Xehanort, is responsible for the creation of The Heartless and almost everything bad that happens to the protagonists across the franchise, but only appears in the flesh in a few brief cutscenes and a single portrait. Instead, his heartless, nobody and original self play the role of Big Bad in the games themselves.
    • In Kingdom Hearts I, the heroes are searching for Ansem (retconned into Xehanort calling himself Ansem), who created the Heartless. He remains The Ghost until the end of the game when he is revealed to have become a Heartless himself, and has been The Man Behind the Man to Maleficent all along.
    • This also applies for certain Disney characters. Zeus, The Sultan, and many others are mentioned, but never appear in the game. Subverted in that we've already seen them in their source material.
  • King Minos is the villain of The Labyrinth of Time, but the most you actually hear about him comes from a computer message left by a future librarian.
  • Ellis' good buddy Keith of Left 4 Dead 2, who must look like a pile of ground hamburger given the outrageous stories he shares at inopportune times.
    • Oddly, characters like Keith have small, but dedicated fan-followings and Rule 34 dedicated to them, based entirely on Fanon speculations of backstory and appearance, none of which is backed up in-game.
  • Life The Game features the protagonist's cousin Alan, who's never seen, only mentioned.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Batarians in Mass Effect are referenced numerous times in text and dialog, but, are never actually seen in the game. A DLC module, Bring Down the Sky later adds them to a single mission. In Mass Effect 2 they appear as often as the other major races.
    • The Shadow Broker was the Ghost for some time, until the aptly named DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker. He's also a Ghost in-universe, as nobody has ever seen him or talked to him in person. Turns out the one in the game is not the first one, or the last. Since nobody ever sees or hears him, everyone who can hack into his private terminal can become the new Shadow Broker, with none of the hundreds or even thousands of agents and informants being the wiser.
    • Many of the characters and races from the Cerberus Daily News "reports" are considered to be ghosts. The only one who ever showed up on screen was Tela Vasir, while two turians from a long-running storyline were briefly mentioned - but not seen - in the aforementioned DLC.
  • In the Mega Man X series through the Mega Man Zero series, the human race as a whole becomes this. Besides Doctors Lightnote , Cainnote , Wilynote , Weil and the scientist Ciel, no humans have any appearance. They are repeatedly mentioned as whole throughout both series, but none make an appearance unless they are the aforementioned main characters. Mega Man Zero 4 finally breaks this to a degree by introducing an entire convoy of humans fleeing from Neo Arcadia and showcasing just how bitter and distrustful of reploids they've become after the ravaging of the entire planet during the Maverick and Elf Wars.
  • In the Nancy Drew game series, a minor character named Sonny Joon is used as The Unseen in a Running Gag, as Nancy keeps finding out he'd just been working, living, or visiting whichever place she's solving a mystery today. Sonny has never been seen or even heard on the telephone, but his habit of leaving notes and doodles everywhere means that a fair bit is known about him.
  • New Super Luigi U does this with Mario, as he is replaced in multiplayer by Nabbit, and his cap rests where he normally would be in the opening cutscene. Also, the M blocks that appear after beating the game that restore normal physics to Luigi.
  • Pajama Sam mentions his big brother Mark sometimes, but with the exception of his mom (who is The Faceless), we never see any members of his family.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Pokémon Mansion journals in Pokémon Red and Blue tell of a scientist discovering a new Pokémon, naming it "Mew", and creating Mewtwo using its DNA. Nowhere outside of these will you find Mew or anyone who knows of it, Good Bad Bugs nowithstanding. Notably, while Mew is in the game as a Secret Character, it wasn't intended to be; it was only added to the game two weeks before release when the removal of development tools left enough space for one more Pokémon species.
    • Hilbert or Hilda, the main protagonists of Pokémon Black and White, become this in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. They are mentioned by numerous NPCs across the game, and are even talked about by their names if Memory Link is activated. There's even a random Trainer in Victory Road who fought against them in the first games that ponder on where they are now. Their mother says that they took their respective dragon and went off to search for N.
  • The "Rat Man" from Portal, of whom you find only stashes, hidden cubby-holes, and scrawled graffiti that either gives you hints, slightly illuminates the plot, gives you an insight into his increasing insanity, or all of the above. Until the Lab Rat digital comic, that is, which completely centers around him and gives more insight into his backstory. His name is Doug Rattmann, and his schizophrenia actually helped him escape GLaDOS - he always suspected she'd try to kill them, so when she did, he was prepared. His scrawlings serve as art therapy, and his only companion is the "spirit" (really a hallucinated voice) of his "dead" Weighted Companion Cube.
  • The Quest for Glory games:
    • The Night Gaunts, who were never seen but supposedly might kill you. Oh, they will kill you, but you still won't see them. Don't sleep in the forest!
    • Though we do get an image of them on the death screen. They seem to resemble RingWraiths
    • The sorceress Erana is a more prominent example. She didn't appear at all for the first three games, but the player could find various sanctuaries created and protected by her magic. In the fourth game, when she finally makes a direct appearance, the player finds out that she's been dead for a long time, but is able to communicate with her spirit and help her find peace in death, and in the fifth game the player has the option to resurrect and marry her depending on their class.
  • Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army has Takeshi Daidouji, the ill and bedridden father of the game's Damsel in Distress. He is only mentioned by his brother and butler, and never seen.
  • Saints Row: The Third has Tom, a second DJ for the [adult swim]-themed radio station, alongside Jon from Delocated. We never hear what he says, but thanks to Jon repeating what he apparently says and describing what he does, we can tell he's... a bit off his rocker.
  • Tachibana Muneshige from Sengoku Basara has a frightening and bad-tempered wife (for some reason he loves her dearly) who is constantly mentioned during his Inner Monologue and his letters, but never anywhere else. The reason she's absent is because she grew tired of their lord's religious fanaticism and took off. Historically her name was Ginchiyo, but Muneshige always calls her "my wife".
  • Mental, the Evil Overlord and Big Bad of the Serious Sam games, has never been seen or in over ten years of existance of the franchise. Technically, he has been heard, but at best he'll only get at least one or two incomprehensible lines at the end of the game.
  • Vercci from the Soul Series — he's involved in both the stories of Voldo and Cervantes and by accounts is pretty important in the story. He may have been intended to be a guest character in Soul Blade, but he never made it.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, everybody except for you, the manager and Cooper are ghosts, as you only get to hear some of them in brief, cutscene-less flashbacks or read their text logs.
  • Mr. Grizz, the owner of Grizzco in Splatoon 2 is never seen, unlike the other shopkeepers in the game. He communicates entirely through a speaker attached to a wooden bear carving, and even then Word of God implies his dialogue may actually be pre-recorded.
  • In the Suikoden games:
    • There is an ancient hero named Hikusaak who is supposed to be ageless. Although he/she has been mentioned in most of the games, they have never been seen. It is unknown if Hikusaak is still alive during any of the games, no one even knows Hikusaak's gender.
    • Another notable character is Schtolteheim Reinbach III, who was mentioned in the early games but finally appears in Suikoden IV.
  • An unseen sharpshooter helps out the Duck Hunt team in Super Smash Bros.. His hand, armed with the NES Zapper, is the only thing seen of him in the trailer. But during the actual game, he never makes an appearance, and if one is playing the European version of the game, one might not even be aware he's there at all!note 
  • The Talos Principle: Elohim, the Milton Library Assistant (unless you consider the library terminals to be the latter's “body”), and all the robots that painted the QR codes (excepting yourself and, if you chose the Ascension ending, Samsara and The Shepherd).
  • Touhou has several of these, such as Youmu's former instructor Youki, Byakuren's Dead Little Brother Myouren, Marisa's unnamed father, the immortal lunar goddess Chang'e, and the Dragon, the single most powerful being in Gensokyo.
  • Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land features 'The Great Warrior Otto' who leaves many rather helpful messages throughout the dungeon in poor handwriting, but you never actually meet him.
  • Heyourgah in The Wonderful 101. He is one of the main officers of GEATHJERK second only to The Dragon Gimme, and yet the Wonderful 100 never sees him, let alone fights him. This is because Prince Vorkken killed him offscreen at some point in Operation 006, taking over his role as the boss of that area. An image in a flashback shows what might be him since it includes the other GEATHJERK officers, but it's hard to make him out in detail (as all the officers are framed in shadow in that image) apart from possibly being a Horned Humanoid.
  • The Sign Painter of World of Goo is only known to exist based on his or her messages left on various... signs. In the final level, the Sign Painter is supposedly there at the telescope, but nothing can be seen of him but his eye.
  • In the Zork games, whenever the lights go out you are warned that you might be eaten by a grue. Although you never see what a grue actually looks like (and in fact no one alive has ever seen one), if you stay in the dark for too long (2-3 turns) you will, invariably, be eaten by one.
    • Not only that, but the fact that they eat careless wanderers is literally the only thing anyone knows about them. Where did they come from? Why are they afraid of light? Are they natural creatures? How do they enter spaces like attics which are completely surrounded by lit areas? How do they reproduce? How do they get adequate water? How did they avoid falling into those bottomless pits that were all over the place until very recently? If Infocom has the answers, they're not interested in sharing them.
    • In Zork Zero, it's slightly averted as you have to play a card game against the Jester, one of the cards is a the "Grue" card, and shows nothing but ominous glowing eyes.
    • In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, you actually hear it. At the start of the game, if you go down the well without the Lantern, you do not get a warning of the Grue. But wait long enough, you hear a slobbering, chewing, gnawing and then belch. The death text playfully criticizes you for not expecting it. "Going into a dark area in a Zork game? What were you thinking?!"


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