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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.
  • AI: The Somnium Files has a hostess named Reika that Date, Aiba, and Mizuki mention at various points, though we never see her or the cabaret club she works at. Date did something to make her block his phone number, but that's all we know about her.
  • 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.
    • 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 left at least one audio log and is important enough for his office to appear in the game, but he himself doesn'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 left useful clues for puzzles in the studio, he doesn't appear in-person.
  • The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble 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.
  • Bloodborne:
    • The appropriately named Formless Oedon lacks form, and exists only in voice. It fits this trope in other ways too, as it's the only named Great One aside from Mergo that doesn't interact with the player in any way (unlike Amygdala, Ebrietas, and the Pale Moon Presence). The only ways that it might affect the plot is by most likely being responsible for impregnating Arianna and possibly being the father of Mergo.
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    • Mergo is a downplayed example of this trope. The Good Hunter does come close to Mergo, as you can hear his crying and is confronted by his wet-nurse when you get too close, but like Oedon, Mergo is formless, so we never actually get to see him.
  • 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.
  • Subverted twice 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 as well, then you learn more of Ballos's backstory, and he ends up being the True Final Boss and Greater-Scope Villain as 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.
    • 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 are never 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 only appear 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 are actually seen in the main series games — 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 influential Posthumous Character in the series. But even in the only game which takes place during his lifetime, 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 crime lord 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 DLCs, 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.
  • Holst Goneril, older brother of Hilda Valentine Goneril in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. He's a renowned general in the Leicester Alliance, and he guards the fortress that stands between the Alliance and its rival neighbor Almyra. He's mentioned by several characters, Hilda's paralogue has her defending the fortress in his stead, and he's even explicitly mentioned to have been severely injured in a fight with one route's final boss, but he never makes a physical appearance — even on Verdant Wind, a route that not only prominently features Fódlan/Almyran relations, but is also the home route of his sister.
  • 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. This is possibly a Rewatch Bonus and Foreshadowing to the fact that Ryder has many "connections", as he is actually The Mole working for the Big Bad. However, this explanation is very unlikely, since Ryder's subplot went through a small Development Hell, and his Face–Heel Turn was shoehorned into the game after most of the missions were completed, so the game designers probably didn't even add any deliberate foreshadowing. Instead, it is more likely that these are just some clunky cases of Hand-Waving which accidentally lead to Fridge Brilliance.
  • 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 never makes a direct appearance.
  • Harthorn: Pretty much the staff of Harthorn High School. Since the game is set during the Player Character's night shift, they of course wouldn't be at the school. Except for one embittered ex-teacher.
  • King Taskan II in Hype: The Time Quest is often referenced by the characters and is arguably one of the characters that helped Hype 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 during his reign.
  • Billy from Kindergarten is a mystery former student who went missing before the events of the game. While he's talked about by the characters who knew him, he's naturally nowhere to be found in the eponymous kindergarten. That is, until the final mission, when the protagonist and Billy's sister Lily finds him mutated and held captive in the principal's secret lab and rescue him.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • 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, 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. Downplayed 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's 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 added them to a single mission. In Mass Effect 2 they appear as often as the other major races.
    • The Shadow Broker from Mass Effect 2 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, nor 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 shows up on screen is Tela Vasir, while two turians from a long-running storyline are 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 broke 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.
  • My Cafe has numerous examples, although they are justified/enforced by the game's limited setting. Many of the customers mention relatives, friends, and other relations who never actually come to the titular cafe, and therefore are never seen.
  • 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 at whichever place she's solving a mystery today. Sonny is never 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.
  • Persona 4 has Misuzu Hiiragi, the wife of Taro Namatame. Shortly before the start of the game, Namatame cheats on Hiiragi with Mayumi Yamano, an announcer, and Yamano is found dead during the protagonist's first day in Inaba. While Hiiragi has a possible motive for killing Yamano, she was not in Inaba at the time of the murder, and her likeness is only seen in posters.
  • Persona 5 has a minor example with Miwa-chan, a patient of Takemi's who suffers from an extremely rare disorder. Takemi's efforts to develop a treatment for said disorder are the driving force behind her Confidant route, and on multiple occasions she promises to introduce you to Miwa-chan, but this never actually happens.
  • 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 notwithstanding. 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 the Portal series, 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 are 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! However, 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 doesn't appear at all for the first three games, but the player can 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.
  • Remnant: From the Ashes has two hostile figures who are mentioned but never seen:
    • First is the Devourer, an agent of the Root who killed or injured all the Guardians except Ixillis; it is never encountered in the game, only mentioned by the Keeper.
    • The second is the Pan empress, the tyrant ruler of the Pan, the enemies encountered at Yaesha (except the rebels, who are on your side). Of all the world enemies, the Pan are the only ones whose supreme leader is never seen, let alone fought; their empress is only mentioned in Ford's notes and by the rebels. The world boss of Yaesha, the last thing standing between you and Ford, will always either be a werewolf called the Ravager, or a monkeylike Pan in their nobility called Totem Father.
  • The Resident Evil series stars a famed gunsmith named Joseph Kendo, who designed the custom Samurai Edge handguns used by the S.T.A.R.S. team, as well as Leon Kennedy's Silver Ghost pistol. Joseph himself, however, never physically appears in the games and is only mentioned in one file in the original Resident Evil 3, though his brother Robert does show up in Resident Evil 2 and its remake. The backstories of him creating the Samurai Edge and Silver Ghost are included in manuals included with the Tokyo Marui airsoft Samurai Edges for the former and a magazine article for the latter.
  • 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 that 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 Greater-Scope Villain of the Serious Sam games, has never been seen in over ten years of existence 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 that 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 is mentioned in most of the games, they are never seen. It is unknown if Hikusaak is still alive during any of the games, and no one even knows their gender.
    • Another notable character is Schtolteheim Reinbach III, who's 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 that 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 choose the Ascension ending, Samsara and The Shepherd).
  • Terraria: The Torch God. Placing enough torches close together underground will start his event where he makes the torches shoot fireballs at the player, but the Torch God himself is never seen in the event or anywhere else in the game. The Bestiary uses an image of a torch to represent him.
  • 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.
  • In Wolf's Gang, the Dark Lord is never actually seen, as he is Killed Offscreen by the heroes at the very start.
  • 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. Even his file only depicts his gravestone. 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 them but their 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.

    The closest we get to seeing them is in Zork Zero. You have to play a card game against the Jester, and one of the cards is the "Grue" card, which shows nothing but ominous glowing eyes. Also, in Zork: Grand Inquisitor, you can 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?!"