When should you include a shot of a character when someone talk about that character?

In films or comics book, you sometimes see someone mention a character and you still a shot or a picture of that character, but can you tell me in what situations it makes sense to do so? I am wondering, because if you won't see that character at any point in the story again, or that character will play a very minor role, I think it would be somewhat of a checkov gun violation. What do you think?

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    You seem to have answered your own question. It's only important for the viewer/reader to know what the character looks like if that character is going to be significant later on. Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


I think this is done primarily when the character in question has been introduced before, but it was far enough in the past that the audience may not remember.

In Episodic Series Television, we usually see such characters in the "Previously on Long Story": vignettes (2-3 seconds) at the beginning of a show, to remind the audience of characters, events or something said by a character from previous episodes.

In a comic book either approach could be used; reproduce a panel with a key line of dialogue but with a caption like "One year ago in the Balkan adventure:".

Sometimes, directors just want more than a name for realism, so they do a full makeup of somebody just for a short scene. In Star Trek The Next Generation, this is often done with officers from Star Fleet Headquarters. If they wanted to do it cheap, they could have sent an email or voice mail; but for the drama Captain Picard meets them in person in a video conference, the actor (in costume) may get less than 3 seconds on screen.

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