When it comes to television, you usually know who and what is going on because all the main characters are right there for you to see. On occasion, a character might be able to cover all their lines and get it done completely behind the scenes.
These characters tend to be the wise ones—the givers of sage advice—or simply invisible comedic props that other actors use for their jokes. Here are the 10 most interesting and important characters from television whom we never fully see on camera.
10 Eckley DiMeo
If you watched The Sopranos, you may recall everyone referencing a guy called the “Old Man” but may not remember ever seeing him. That’s because Ercole DiMeo was the founder and longtime boss of the DiMeo crime family. He ran the gang from around the 1960s until he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995. Then Jackie Aprile took over.
Aprile describes his role as “I may be acting boss while the old man’s a guest of the government” in deference to his mentor. While DiMeo was mentioned throughout the series, nobody ever went to see him in prison. But his importance to the family remained in the forefront of The Sopranos.
DiMeo was based on Giovanni Riggi, the real-world boss of the North Jersey DeCavalcante crime family. He suffered the same fate as his fictional representation and remained behind bars on a life sentence. Still, he managed to intervene in the family’s affairs via the occasional acting boss.
9 Maris Crane
Frasier was one of the most successful spin-off series from NBC. With the new show starring Frasier, our favorite beer-swilling psychoanalyst (technically psychiatrist) from Cheers, we were introduced to Maris Crane. She was the wife of Niles Crane, Frasier’s brother, and while she was mentioned by Niles all the time, she never appeared on screen. Well, her shadow once did, but that could have been anyone.
Niles did describe her at one point, calling her extremely thin, frail, and pale to the point of being “very, very Caucasian.” Frasier even said that she had no pigmentation at all, which led the viewers to concoct their own image of Maris.
She is also referred to as a cold person, even as being “like the Sun, except without the warmth” and is so self-conscious about her appearance that she never showed up for anything. It added to the gag of her not being seen on camera and served as more of a plot device to guide Niles’s actions throughout the series.
Eventually, the pair divorced, but she remained a constant in his life due to her incredible jealousy.
8 Stan Walker
Will & Grace
Stanley Walker is Karen’s husband on Will & Grace and is described as extremely obese on the show. Karen often said that she married Stan for his money. But thanks to her confiding in Will and a flashback on the show, we know that she ended up falling in love with Stan.
In the show’s fourth season, Stanley gets arrested for tax evasion, which lands him in prison. While there, he uses his time in the library to engage in insider trading, which costs him his conjugal visits with his wife.
Later in the series, Stan and Karen get divorced, but Stanley dies of a heart attack while having sex with Lorraine. Two years later, it turns out that he is still alive and living in the witness protection program to keep him safe from the mob.
This all happened across eight seasons without ever showing the character. The only physical indication of him on-screen is a partial silhouette seen during the episode “Moveable Feast.” We also got treated to seeing his arms in the third season’s premiere when he touches Karen’s breasts in front of Will.
7 Howard Wolowitz’s Mom
The Big Bang Theory
Howard Wolowitz’s mother on The Big Bang Theory served as comic relief for the unfortunate Jewish kid who never seemed to grow up and move out of his mother’s house. We later learn that the main reason he didn’t want to leave home was due to his father’s abandoning the family when Howard was younger, which showed how much he cared for his mother. Still, the Howard and his mom never had a conversation without yelling at one another.
Howard’s mother was described as morbidly obese, making it difficult for her to get around in public. This offered an excuse for her absence in most situations. While she never appeared directly on camera, you can catch a few quick glimpses of her.
In the episode “The Countdown Reflection,” she can somewhat be seen wearing a pink dress at Howard’s rooftop wedding, and in a later episode “The Spoiler Alert Segmentation,” she is shown from the neck down. Debbie Wolowitz was removed from the series when the actress who supplied her voice, Carol Ann Susi, died in November 2014.
6 Ugly Naked Guy
Ugly Naked Guy was an occasional gag for the Friends gang to poke fun at—and even poke in one episode. But you never get to see him on-screen in all his naked glory. In a flashback, it was revealed that he was once called “Cute Naked Guy” but he apparently let his looks go.
There is never any indication of the character’s true name. We only know of him because the cast stares at his antics from Monica’s living room window across the street.
He was seen a little bit in only three episodes but never fully. When the gang thought he was dead, they fashioned a device out of chopsticks to poke at him through their respective windows. We see a sleeping person swat away this device.
In “The One Where Everybody Finds Out,” we see his back as Ross is facing him. Ross is trying to rent Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment because the nudist is moving. Eventually, Ross ends up getting the apartment by showing his appreciation for Ugly Naked Guy’s nudity.
Unlike most of the characters on this list, Ugly Naked Guy was played by an actual person—Jon Haugen—who is neither ugly nor naked (most of the time, we assume).
5 The President Of The United States
You might think that someone as important as the president of the United States might be afforded a few seconds of screen time in a political comedy but not on the HBO show Veep. As the title suggests, Veep is all about the vice president, played by comedy alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Four presidents have appeared on the series, and one of them never got in front of the camera. That would be Stuart Hughes, the 44th president and running mate to Selina Meyer, who succeeds him in his position for less than a year.
Although Hughes isn’t featured on the series (it even takes a while before we learn his name), there were two brief appearances where he wasn’t shown entirely. In the episode “Hostages,” he can briefly be seen, and he is also shown in a photograph in “The Vic Allen Dinner.” He is described as having never picked up a book in his life and being “jowly.”
4 Wilson W. Wilson Jr., PhD
Of all the characters on this list, Wilson is the one we see the most. He is the giver of sage advice to his neighbor on Home Improvement. We see Wilson all the time, but the running joke is we never get to see his face—at least not entirely. He would poke his head over the fence so we could see his eyes and the top of his head. But that was it.
Wilson was played by Earl Hindman throughout the series. The character was somewhat inspired by Tim Allen’s real-life neighbor growing up. Allen would see his neighbor looking over the fence at him when he was a kid, but because Tim was too short, he only ever saw the man’s eyes.
Wilson’s purpose on the show was to act as the “God figure” who would know exactly how to fix Tim’s problems—or sometimes the problems of Tim’s wife or kids. Wilson would know what was wrong in very short order and offer up the perfect advice. His face was only revealed at the final curtain call to the audience.
3 Vera Peterson
Vera Peterson is a spouse we never got to fully see through the entirety of Cheers. As the wife of Norm Peterson, we mainly get to see him speaking to her on the phone or referencing her in some way.
Norm cracks a lot of jokes at his wife’s expense, but it is revealed through the course of the series that he cared for her very much. We see her once with a pie covering her face in “Thanksgiving Orphans,” and she can be heard in a few episodes.
Vera’s voice is provided by Bernadette Birkett. She and Norm actor George Wendt have been married since 1978, making Norm’s somewhat on-screen wife and his real one the same person!
2 Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano is another character who is mentioned in numerous episodes but is never heard or seen. He is the longtime friend and confidant of Cosmo Kramer, but Bob’s help is often accompanied by disaster. Whenever Kramer mentions Bob, the audience knows that Kramer isn’t getting the best advice but instead an obscure and often funny anecdote.
In one episode, Kramer reveals that Bob was in a mental institution but couldn’t receive electroshock treatment due to his synapses being too large. In another episode, Kramer mentions that a botched hernia operation left Bob sitting in a chair by a window repeating “My name is Bob!” in a high-pitched voice.
When Jerry lives in Kramer’s apartment for a short while, Jerry takes on Kramer’s persona and mentions his buddy Bob, whom he spoke to at length the previous evening. The result is some terrible advice that lands Elaine in trouble with her boss due to the purchase of a rat-hair hat.
Series writer Larry Charles has said that Bob Sacamano was his real-life friend. After creating the character for the show, Charles and the real-life Bob had a falling-out.
1 Charlie Townsend
Few characters in film or television are as well-known but never seen as Charles “Charlie” Townsend. You probably clicked on this list thinking to yourself, “They better have Charlie on here somewhere!”
While he never appeared on-screen, he is associated with a call box/speaker grille as this was his primary means of communication with his angels. To keep his employees safe from his many enemies, Charlie only reveals his face to employee Bosley.
Throughout the television series and the subsequent theatrical films, nobody ever gets to see Charlie, although his enemies do attempt to get at him through his angels. While we never get to see him, we do hear him quite a lot.
The character was voiced by John Forsythe for all five seasons of the original Charlie’s Angels television series and again in the 2000 film and its sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Forsythe died in 2010, but his voice lives on thanks to his portrayal of Charlie.
Want to fascinate your friends with more fun TV and movie trivia? Then check out 10 Television And Movie Scenes That Fall Apart When Analyzed and 10 Glaringly Obvious Uses Of CGI In Movies And TV.