Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Top 10 Unseen Television Characters

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

you know. the characters which never appear, but are often referenced. They might even speak, but no face is ever given to the name. Some shows use this convention more than others, but there are definitely some memorable characters which have no formal physical appearance.

10. Charlie Brown's Teacher (Peanuts), whose voice is created by a trombone (although someone once told me it was actually a muted trumpet, so that may also be the case). She's the one animated character to make the list, and I think it may be because the "voice" amused me from a young age.

9. The Gooch (Diff'rent Strokes), Arnold's foil. Bet you forgot about him, eh? Well, he was mentioned plenty of times... teasing Arnold, daring Arnold, fighting with Arnold, all sorts of childhood mischief.

8. Cousin Jeffrey (Seinfeld), the one that Uncle Leo is always bragging about. He was rumored to have kissed one of Jerry's girlfriends. He worked for the Park (Central Park, maybe? I'm not sure) and once got Jerry some concert tickets. Considering how often other members of Jerry's family were seen, I'm completely unsure as to why we didn't see Jeffrey even once.

7. Dr. Kahn (Salute Your Shorts), the camp director whom none of the characters seem to have seen, either. His voice was heard over the loudspeaker (almost) every episode, and Counselor Ug seems quite afraid of him.

6. Vera Peterson (Cheers), Norm's wife. You might argue that she shouldn't be on this list, since her legs are on camera, and I believe her torso is seen once as well. But Norm speaks of her semi-regularly, and the other characters seem to have a grasp of her as well, so she still counts as unseen.

5. Heather Sinclair (Degrassi: The Next Generation), Holly J's older sister, who is pretty much everyone's enemy. Paige specifically doesn't like her, but many of the characters talk about Heather in an unpleasant tone throughout the show.

4. George Steinbrenner (Seinfeld), George Costanza's boss while he worked for the Yankees. We see the back of his large office chair, and hear him speak almost constantly (his voice is not by the real George Steinbrenner). I wonder if that's why we don't see him... because he is an actual person and didn't want to be on the show.

3. Stanley Walker (Will & Grace), Karen's rich and obese husband. Technically you see his feet and hands at separate times, but he's talked about a crazy amount of time without actually ever being seen. His character ends up with quite the storyline, including jail, (faked) death, divorce, and financial difficulties.

2. Maris Crane (Frasier), Niles' first wife. She's spoken of throughout all eleven seasons, although she and Niles divorced several years into the show. She specifically was never seen because it became too difficult to properly portray her due to all of the crazy attributes which she gathers throughout the series.

1. Alma Borland (Home Improvement), Al's often-ridiculed mother. Since Al and his brother Cal look so much alike, and it's made clear that one takes after the mother and one takes after the father, mom & dad must also look quite similar. That, and Tim's frequent teasing of Al about his mother's size (among other things) really made me want to see how they'd cast her. Alas, it never happened, despite the fact that Al had two planned weddings.

The other major contenders: The Gibblers (Full House), Kimmy's family, that includes two parents, an older brother, and possibly three sisters. Dr. Claw (Inspector Gadget), the guy always plotting against Inspector Gadget. Nanny (Muppet Babies), although we do see her striped socks. Mr. & Mrs. Urkel (Family Matters), Steve's parents. Sparky (M*A*S*H), the radio operator. The Ditmeyer Family (Brady Bunch), the neighbors to Mike, Carol, and family.
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