TV is a visual medium that’s all about watching the action on screen. However, there are some iconic characters who never made an appearance – or at least not one where we could actually see their face to identify them. They may have been heard but not seen, yet they still had important roles that are part of our collective consciousness. Here are some of the best TV characters we never actually laid eyes on.
1. Charlie from Charlie’s Angels
The enigmatic character Charlie Townsend of Charlie’s Angels was the wealthy owner of the investigative agency the show centered around, but he was never actually seen from the front. John Forsythe voiced the role after being personally asked to by Aaron Spelling, who he later worked with on Dynasty. The gorgeous women hired to work for Charlie would get their mission briefings over the phone, and his face was kept hidden throughout the show’s life.
2. Orson from Mork and Mindy
In the TV show Mork and Mindy, Mork is sent to earth by his superior, Orson, to observe human behavior on the planet. The character remained unseen throughout the show (although you do see his rather large shadow occasionally) but kept in constant contact as Mork reported back to him about his studies at the end of each episode. Orson was voiced by the actor Ralph James.
3. Wilson from Home Improvement
The character Tim Taylor on Home Improvement was always getting into some sort of trouble, and no one gave better advice than his neighbor, Wilson, who he would talk to over (or through) the fence that divided their yards. Part of the schtick with Wilson was that we never saw all of his face at once, elevating him to a somewhat elusive all knowing presence as opposed to just the chatty guy next door.
4. Ugly Naked Guy from Friends
Friends centered around one of the most famous casts of buddies ever to exist on television, and to keep driving their stories forward we got to meet a lot of random supporting characters over the years. One of those recurring side-plots involved the “ugly naked guy” who could be seen through a window across the alley strutting his stuff around his own apartment without realizing that he was on display. We never actually saw the guy, leaving his looks totally up to imagination.
5. Norm’s Wife from Cheers
The character Norm Peterson on Cheers made tons of jokes about his wife Vera…so many that you might have assumed she was actually there. The most Vera was ever seen on the eleven years that the show was on, however, was when she took a pie to the face in a Thanksgiving episode. Of course, he was shown with the pie and pie all over her face, so even then we never got a real look at her.
6. The Rich Guy from Magnum P.I.
On the show Magnum P.I., Tom Seleck’s Magnum lived in a mansion owned by a millionaire who went unseen on the show. The voice of the millionaire was done by Orson Welles, who is best known for writing, directing and starring in the film Citizen Kane. However the ending of the show brought about a new twist…that the true owner of the mansion was actually the butler Higgins the whole time.
7. Maris from Frasier
We never actually get to see Nile’s first wife, Maris, on Frasier, but from what we hear of her, she’s not the kind of person you’d ever want to meet. Frasier describes her “like the sun, except without the warmth.” During their divorce, it is eventually revealed that Maris is filthy rich. They may be ultra-snobby, her family came by their fortune through a urinal cake business.
8. Diane from Twin Peaks
The character Diane from Twin Peaks seemed to be the secretary of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, although her unseen character was never totally explained. Agent Cooper would create notes for her into a dictaphone that had to do with observations and general tasks. Her elusiveness just added to the intrigue of the show.
9. George Steinbrenner from Seinfeld
The character George Costanza on Seinfeld worked for the New York Yankees, so his boss was George Steinbrenner. George Steinbrenner is a real guy, which is perhaps part of the reason why they never showed his face and had Larry David do his voice. Unlike many examples of unseen characters, Steinbrenner didn’t exactly seem all knowing. Instead he would talk non stop and make eccentric decisions for the team – but what do you expect from a show about nothing.
10. Tino from My So Called Life
The high school in My So Called Life was a lot like all other high schools out there…in that it had a student who was too “cool” to regularly attend class. The character Tino was often referenced in the show for being in the know about a lot of stuff and busy with his band, and he was actually never pictured at all. Tino was referenced in pretty much every episode by every character, so he was pretty popular for someone with no tangible evidence of existence.
11. Stan Walker from Will and Grace
On Will and Grace, Karen had an apparently obese husband named Stan Walker who was never shown but still had a pretty big role. Karen was a pretty spoiled character, thanks to the multi-millions of dollars that she got from Stan. Throughout the show’s history, the couple actually got divorced twice, once because Stan faked his own death.
12. The President from Veep
On Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the vice president of the United States, and her superior (the president) is not only never shown, but is never even referred to by name. The cast calls him POTUS and it isn’t even clear what his political affiliation is. Julia says: “We’re depicting a situation in which that relationship is highly dysfunctional, and the president is very much trying to keep this vice president, Selina Meyer, an arm’s length away.”
13. Bob Sacamano from Seinfeld
George Steinbrenner was not the only character we never saw on Seinfeld. Bob Sacamano was another character who was based on a real life person yet never makes an appearance on screen, although Kramer talked about him often. Apparently the real life Bob was not pleased to be referenced in an episode where the character had a hernia operation go wrong that him with a high-pitched voice. It caused a falling out between Bob and writer Larry Charles.
14. Heather Sinclair from Degrassi
Heather Sinclair was the queen bee of Degrassi school and constantly gossiped about. Co-executive producer and writer Matt Huether explained a good reason why. “It felt very high school to me to see someone’s reputation created through bits and pieces of gossip, without ever meeting the legend herself. If we’d seen her, it’s hard to believe she could have lived up to that reputation.” They ultimately did consider “anyone who was blond and famous from 2007 through 2011” to make a cameo as the character but ultimately decided to keep her identity a mystery.
15. Lars Lindstrom from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
In The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Richards had a landlady named Phyllis (played by Cloris Leachman) who had a husband named Lars. Lars was a dermotologist and he had a big impact on the plot of the show…such as when he got caught cheating with the character Sue Ann Nivens (played by Betty White).
16. Juanita Beasley from The Andy Griffith Show
Producer Aaron Ruben created a character for The Andy Griffith Show who was referenced but never shown on screen. Juanita Beasley was a waitress at the Bluebird Diner that the character Barney Fife had a crush on. Here’s a quote from the book The Andy Griffith Show: “They reminded Andy Griffith of the old radio show Vic and Sade: ‘They originally had only three characters — later four — but they talked about their town and other towns nearby, and you never met any of those people. But their talk made you believe they were there.'”
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