As WandaVision continues to mine classic sitcom tropes in its slightly twisted suburban world (the disastrous dinner party! The nosy neighbour!) it should be no surprise that another popular aspect of that genre – the offscreen character – is included in the Disney+ series.
Yes, while Wanda and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) have met plenty of their fellow Westview fitter-inners (and tried pretty hard to keep their superheroic secret from them) across the first few episodes of WandaVision, one named character has remained notably absent – Ralph, the apparently hopeless husband of Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes.
While Agnes is regularly dropping barbs about her husbands lack of looks, charm and his terrible mother we’ve not seen any of this in person – and in sitcom terms this isn’t that unusual. Friends had Ugly Naked Guy, The Big Bang Theory had Mrs Wolowitz, Will & Grace had Stan Walker, Cheers had Vera and even Bojack Horseman had Mr Peanutbutter’s pal Erica, all of whom failed to make a full appearance on-screen despite regular references.
Over the years, the unseen character has been a key part of sitcoms around the world, a regular foil to the main characters and often a source of comedy because of their absence, with over-the-top gags and descriptions made all the funnier because we don’t know what they actually look like – just like the apparently unfortunate Ralph.
Though we have to wonder, in WandaVision’s twisty take on sitcoms could there be more to it than that? Sure, Ralph seems like another unseen character now – but maybe as the series goes on, we’ll learn he’s off-screen for a reason.
One theory could be that Ralph really is Agnes’ husband, but he’s not in Westview with her – like Geraldine/Monica at the end of episode three perhaps he was thrown out or was away when the strange TV simulation began, trapping him outside while the “sitcom” narrative has to find a reason for his absence.
Alternatively, it could be that Ralph represents something far more sinister. We’ve written before about the possibility that Agnes – seen in a witch costume in a later episode – could be an MCU version of comic-book spellcaster Agatha Harkness, a friend and teacher of Wanda who later suffers at her hands.
And if Agnes is a witch, is it possible that her husband Ralph is none other than rumoured WandaVision villain Mephisto (aka the Marvel version of the devil)? We’ve already heard Agnes make a crack about the devil in episode two (“The devil’s in the details,” Emma Caulfield’s Dottie said, while Agnes replied “That’s not all he’s in”), and in the comics Mephisto is closely linked to Wanda and Vision’s twin boys Tommy and Billy (who were just born in the series).
Agnes’ rabbit is also named Senor Scratchy, with “Mr Scratch” being a famous alter-ego for the devil, while hints in other Disney+ series (including a stained glass window in the Loki trailer) suggest that Mephisto could be a new Big Bad for the MCU going forward.
Perhaps Agnes (who seems vaguely aware of the false nature of her reality, calling Wanda “the star of the show” on more than one occasion (including trailers for future episodes) is working with Mephisto to in some way create Wanda’s children, and the offscreen “Ralph” is her name for him.
Alternatively, it could be that Ralph is some other villain with designs on Wanda, who will be revealed in due course. But whichever way this story goes, we can’t help but think that Ralph won’t be kept offscreen for too much longer.
In other words, it’s time for this particular unseen character to take centre stage.
Want more WandaVision content? Check out our latest WandaVision review, our guide to the WandaVision cast, the WandaVision release schedule, Agatha Harkness and the creepy WandaVision commercials. Plus, we ask: is Wanda the villain in WandaVision? When is WandaVision set and how is Vision alive?
WandaVision releases new episodes on Disney+ on Fridays. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year.
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