The Big Bang Theory’s Mrs Wolowitz and the best off-screen TV characters

You never see them, but you still feel like you know them. In honour of Big Bang's Carol Anne Susi, here are some of the best unseen TV characters...

Carol Ann Susi, best known for voicing Howard’s unseen mother on The Big Bang Theory, has died aged 62. We never saw more than a glimpse of Mrs Wolowitz’ dress, but the overbearing screechy matriarch was a staple of the show. Her constant yelling in a grating Brooklyn accent was all the funnier because we she was never on screen.


This is the first time we catch sight of Mrs Wolowitz as she cooks an enormous feast for a disconserted Raj who keeps trying to escape but can’t quite manage to break away.

In honour of Mrs Wolowitz, here are some of the other best unseen TV characters whose invisibility drives the plot and provides top-class comedy and drama…

Diane from Twin Peaks

Diane, the mysterious woman to whom FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper addresses all of his tapes, is never seen but we hear her name in every episode. In this clip, the detective enters the town of Twin Peaks for the first time and starts recording: “Diane, 11.24 am, February 24th…”

Stan from Will & Grace

Stan Walker is Karen’s hugely rich, morbidly obese, unfaithful husband who goes to prison and divorces Karen twice. We never see him but we hear about him so often that he drives Karen’s storylines.

Here, Karen goes on a conjugal visit to see Stan in prison, but things go awry before she gets to the cell…

Charlie from Charlie’s Angels

Charlie is arguably the original unseen TV character. Only ever appearing through a mustard-coloured telephone speaker, the big boss introduces the angels to their mission.

Here’s Charlie in the 2000 film version of the TV show starring Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz.

Vera Peterson from Cheers

The butt of Norm’s jokes, his wife Vera Peterson is never seen. She’s portrated as a battle ax who makes his life very difficult but as the programme goes on, the viewers start to suspect that Norm loved Vera a bit more than he let on to his friends. Once when she arrived late to Thanksgiving dinner only to get a pie in the face. And that’s the closest we get to seeing Vera.

Ugly Naked Guy from Friends

UNG is of the show’s longest running jokes and he becomes a very familiar figure. We get a very detailed insight into his life as Monica, Rachel and the gang regularly watch him from the window, providing commentary on his love life (Ugly Naked Gal), his new musical endevours (the cello) and his exercise routines (he buys a Thighmaster)…

Maris Crane from Frasier

A constant source of physical comedy, we feel like we know Niles’ wife Maris as well as any character we actually get to see. Small, very pale (“So white she’s almost blue”), she often travels to Europe for plastic surgery and expensive, eccentric health treatment. Niles always talks about her with a gloomy affection.

Here are the funniest anecdotes told about the mysterious Maris

Mrs Mainwaring from Dad’s Army

Elizabeth, Captain Mainwaring’s wife, is often referred to as “the little woman” and has lived a sheltered life. Her hobby is making lamp shades and she hasn’t left the house since Munich (1938) Although she is evidently the domineering figure of the two and makes his life rather difficult, the Captain claims it’s a “blissful” marriage.

In this clip, the Captain holds a party in his house and the platoon speculate about his wife’s appearance…


So it turns out that being invisible can be pretty powerful…