I've been watching TV for a long time, and some of my favorite characters I never saw. The writers on these shows were masters at giving us a character that would never show their face on camera, and some who would never even utter a line of dialogue. These are their stories.
Norm Peterson's wife on "Cheers" may have been the best known nonexistent TV character of all time. Always threatening an appearance to drag her beer drinking husband home from the neighborhood bar, we never actually got a glimpse of her. Like so many other anonymous bar widows across America, Vera stayed just on the outskirts, but everybody still knew her name.
Not only was "Frasier" a spin-off of "Cheers," but also they took along a great character idea and built on it in the form of Niles Crane's wife, Maris. In the style of Norm Peterson's phantom wife on "Cheers," the writers of "Frasier" managed to build Maris into a main character on the show. It was for the best that an actress was never cast, as no one could have lived up to the character we'd built Maris Crane up to be after so many years.
Hearing the voice of Charlie, the boss on "Charlie's Angels," was as close as we could get to this hidden TV character. Voiced by the very recognizable John Forsythe, we could only imagine the suave and sophisticated Charlie sitting in a large leather chair doling out the weekly assignments to his ladies. It only helped play up the character's mystery by having no one on the show know who he was either.
Carlton the Doorman
The sitcom "Rhoda" would not have been as funny without Carlton the doorman, voiced by Lorenzo Music. Even if the episode was not that funny, his signature line over the apartment intercom system, "Hello, this is Carlton your doorman" (always delivered slightly slurred) was sure to bring a chuckle.
Wilson Wilson, the ever helpful next door neighbor of Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor on "Home Improvement," is likely the best known hidden character. Wilson managed to keep most of his face out of sight despite being a main character. Even when the series concluded, he came out to take his final bow to the live audience with a small fence on a stick hiding the lower half of his face.
While there have been other shows with unseen characters, I think these five had the biggest impact on their shows. One thing these unseen TV characters proved is that all you really need is great writing for a character to come to life.
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