The Best TV Characters We Never See On-Screen

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TV shows are one of the most popular types of entertainment we have today. They are a great way to stay connected with our favorite characters and engage in storylines that inspire and entertain us. We all know some iconic TV characters that we associate with a show. From Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory to Bojack Horseman in Bojack Horseman, we are used to seeing the stars of these shows on screen.

But there are many other characters that remain unseen. They add further layers of depth to the stories we watch and drive the plot along in ways that we usually don’t see or even think about. This article examines some of the best TV characters that audiences never get to see but still provide powerful impacts to the narrative.

Off-Screen Characters That Drive the Narrative

One of the best off-screen TV characters that is rarely seen but has a huge impact on the narrative of a show is referred to as the “narrator”. This character is often responsible for guiding the story along and providing the viewers with necessary information about the plot, setting, and important characters. Oftentimes, viewers will hear this narrative in the form of a voice-over by a narrator, but it can also be seen written on-screen instead.

Narrators may also provide often critical backstory to the show and flesh out the world and its characters. This is very important for a show to have because it helps give viewers greater understanding and insight into the characters and their motivations.

In addition to narrators, there are other off-screen characters that provide clear contributions to the narrative. These include unseen workers such as producers, editors, scriptwriters, or even set designers. All of them are essential contributors to the show, especially when it comes to the technical aspects.

For instance, a producer helps develop and produce a show, while the editor helps shape the story by stitching together the right scenes and dialogue to create logical and powerful narrative arcs.

The Powers of Non-Speaking Characters

Very commonly, there are a few characters that are absent of dialogue but yet still provide powerful contributions to the narrative. These characters can usually be seen in the form of recurring elements or symbols used throughout the show. They are not necessarily sentient characters, but durable elements that are meant to dig deep into the story and its characters.

A great example of a powerful non-speaking character is a scene-stealer. This character may not be speaking or taking part in a major plot, but will show up in an ongoing basis to aid in storytelling or to spark off certain conversations.

An example of a scene-stealer can be seen in Mad Men, which has an ongoing presence of the show’s leading character Don Draper’s iconic fedora hat. This hat turns up in a couple of scenes throughout the show and is meant to show the audience the importance of Don’s character and to add a bit of mystery and intrigue to the storyline.

Apart from scene-stealers, there are also recurring locations that serve as powerful non-speaking characters that help build the narrative. These characters (locations) may be seen virtually anywhere — from coffee shops and parks to museums and beaches — and are used symbolically to bring out the tensions, dynamics, and relationships between the characters.

They also provide viewers with a heightened sense of the environment and the surrounding activities. This is particularly evident in the show Friends, where the famous Central Perk cafe is featured. It serves as a gathering place for friends and an important backdrop to the show’s many conflicts and drama.

Invisible Characters That Shape the Story

In addition to physically visible elements, there are also invisible characters that play a part in building the storyline of TV shows. These characters are typically in the form of unseen forces or concepts, such as the laws in the world of a show, the theme of a show, or a certain genre.

One of the most significant invisible characters is often the show’s theme. Every show has a central theme that shapes the narrative and gives it life and meaning. This can range from a political satire theme like on Veep to a time-traveling theme like on Doctor Who.

Apart from motifs and themes, there are also genres that are just as powerful and serve as major invisible characters in a show. Genres, such as comedies, dramas, and horror serials, are the invisible forces that influence and drive the story forward.

Likewise, a show may also be set in a certain world, and its own unique laws of that world forms an invisible character. In the show The 100, for instance, the characters live in a post-apocalyptic world where certain rules and regulations drive and limit characters’ choices and decisions.

There are a huge variety of TV characters that we never get to see on screen, but play a key role in the narrative of a popular show. From narrators and producers to invisible characters like themes and genres, these powerful unseen characters often factor heavily into the story and provide audiences with greater understanding and insight into the characters and the world they inhabit.

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