Looking at the greatest concealed roles on TV
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
Unlike movies, television is a fantastic medium for character development. A character can be built through multiple episodes and seasons. However, despite this advantage, there are some characters which have their whole backstory and face never revealed.
This is the role of the unseen character, and they appear for many reasons. Regardless, they remain enduring mysteries for audiences to chew on. It’s time to shine a light on some of the best unseen characters in TV history.
Charlie Townsend—Charlie’s Angels
We’ll start this list out with what may be the most famous unseen character of all. It’s hard to deny the illusiveness of Charlie Townsend, the prominent name and encompassing force behind the Charles Townsend Detective Agency. Though heard frequently through a voice box when communicating with the Angels, Charlie was never seen on the show. There are fans who speculate that he may have appeared on the show in a quick “blink and you’ll miss it moment” but officially, the character never made a full-fledged appearance on the show.
This one could have been a tossup between Maris and the original inspiration for her, Vera from Cheers, but Maris is the pick due to how deep the well goes for her mysterious character. Maris has been described as “skinny,” “ounces of fun,” and as a bag of flour because she is “bleached, 100 percent fat-free, and best kept in an air-tight container.” The initial goal wasn’t to hide Maris, but instead to make a sly reference to Frasier Crane’s previous show Cheers.
This would make the audience think that they were going to go back to the same joke, but they had the plan to reveal Maris a few episodes into the first season. However, the writers quickly went too far in describing the malnourished proportions of Niles Crane’s wife that they felt there was no way they could cast someone who could would genuinely deserve the reputation they had established for the character, so she went on to remain unseen for the show’s entire run—with the exception of her silhouette in one episode.
Wilson Wilson Jr.—Home Improvement
One of the weirder unseen characters in TV history is Wilson Wilson Jr., the always helpful neighbour of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Wilson could be seen and heard in every appearance he made on the Tim Allen comedy. However, his body and face were always obscured—most of the time by a tall fence. Wilson appeared in every episode of the show, but can only be seen unobscured in a “behind-the-scenes” special after the final episode of the show, in which the actor comes out to take a bow.
There were three possible choices here: Jerry’s cousin Jeffery, and another one of Kramer’s friends Lomez, but the mention goes to Bob Sacamano due to his rich backstory. Sacamano is described as being left a soprano after a botched hernia operation, selling replica Russian hats at Battery Park, and having a previous job at a condom factory in Edison, New Jersey. The story behind Bob Sacamano is that he was apparently named after one of writer Larry Charles’ real life friends, but the friendship ceased after the first reference was made.
Michael Scott’s Mother—The Office (US)
For a character as fleshed out and layered as Michael Scott, it’s amazing that his mother was never seen on the show. Yes, Michael Scott’s dad is never revealed, but his mother was pointed out frequently as an important person in his life.
The closest she ever came to appearing on the show was in the episode “Customer Survey,” where she can be heard talking to Michael on the phone after he calls to tell her he is getting married. Though she is never seen, it is possible that the show was setting itself up to introduce her, as the actress on the other end of the call is none other than acclaimed actress June Squibb in an uncredited role.