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The Quick 10: The 10 Best Characters You’ve Never Seen

Sometimes the characters we don’t see end up having the most impact… and sometimes they’re just a good running joke for a sitcom. Check out these 10 characters from film, television and literature who were often referenced but never seen.

1. Godot from Waiting for Godot. In Samuel Beckett’s classic, two men spend two days (wait for it…) waiting for Godot, and of course, he never shows. Because he’s central to the whole plot of the novel, this arguably makes Godot one of the most famous unseen characters in literature.
2.Tino from My So-Called Life. Though referenced in nearly every single episode of MSCL (he was the lead singer of Jordan Catalano’s band, the Frozen Embryos) he was too cool to actually show up anywhere.
3. Nanny from Muppet Babies. Well, this one is only half-true. She appeared onscreen, but only from the Babies’ point of view. Side note: this is one of the funniest Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen.
4. Dulcinea from Don Quixote. Don Quixote’s one true love was later represented when Miguel de Cervantes’ novel was adapted for stage and screen, but in the book, she never appears in the flesh. It’s hard to imagine what a woman with gold hair, Elysian fields forehead, rainbow eyebrows and eyes of sun would possibly look like anyway (though Sophia Loren and Vanessa Williams have both played her, if that helps).
5. Mrs. Columbo from Columbo. She’s one of the most famous examples of an unseen character on TV. Though she was never actually seen on the show, a spinoff called Kate Columbo was often thought to revolve around what Mrs. Columbo did when Columbo was at work. Not so, say the people behind the series – they consider Kate an entirely different person who happens to have the same last name.
6. Rosaline from Romeo and Juliet. Romeo was so distraught over Rosaline – so distraught that it took him about two seconds to fall in love with her cousin, Juliet. Mr. Montague’s infatuation with Rosaline is over so quickly that the audience never even gets a chance to meet her in person.
7. Phil from Golden Girls. Dorothy Zbornak had a cross-dressing brother whom she often made jokes about but never invited to visit.
8. Crazy Rhoda Zimmerman from The Odd Couple. Oscar’s girlfriend was often referred to but never seen.
9. Vera Peterson from Cheers. Norm often complained about his wife, but she never actually showed her face at his favorite haunt (though you could occasionally see her legs). She once went to Carla’s home for Thanksgiving dinner with the gang but got a pie in the face before we could get a glimpse of it. Whenever Vera was on the show, she was played by George Wendt’s real-life wife, actress Bernadette Birkett.
10. Vern from the Ernest movies. I was trying really hard to adapt Ernest’s trademark “Know what I mean, Vern?” to “Something, something, seen, Vern?” but I just couldn’t do it. I know. A perfectly good pun, wasted. Anyway, the guy Ernest P. Worrell always addressed, Vern, was always on the other side of the camera. He would sometimes respond with a head shake, but he never spoke and was never seen.

There are lots of other good examples – who’s your favorite unseen character? Maris? Urkel’s parents? Let us know in the comments!


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