12 TV Shows Narrated By An Unseen Star

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Vote up the TV narrators that keep you watching.

If you're gonna add a narrator to your television series, you better make sure that casting is a perfect choice. The best narrator voices television has to offer end up being as memorable as the actual stars of the shows themselves. 

Think about it: What would Arrested Development even be without Ron Howard's deadpan delivery summing up the Bluth family's antics during every episode? Is Gossip Girl even Gossip Girl without Kristen Bell doing her thing? Imagine if Josh Radnor had done the narration for How I Met Your Mother instead of Bob Saget. Sometimes an unseen star narrator ends up being one of the most vital aspects of a TV hit.


  • The Wonder Years
    Photo: ABC

    Both versions of The Wonder Years, the 1988 original and the 2021 reboot, do a fantastic job of capturing the follies of youth while telling an engaging coming-of-age tale. We'll leave it up to you to choose which narrator is better between Daniel Stern and Don Cheadle. The Academy Award-nominated Cheadle is undoubtedly a better actor than Stern, but there is something ineffable about Stern's narration in the original incarnation of the show. 

    Where the original series focused on a white middle-class family in a never-disclosed suburban town, the reboot centers around a Black middle-class family in the Montgomery, AL, of the late 1960s. Suffice it to say, the 2021 version of the series has a lot more to say about race than the 1980s version does. Fred Savage is also involved in both versions of the show, but the less said about his involvement in light of recent developments, the better.

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    The Goldbergs
    Photo: ABC

    The Goldbergs has to be one of the most unlikely network television success stories in recent memory. Coming from Adam F. Goldberg, then best known for co-creating the short-lived crime sitcom Breaking In, The Goldbergs doesn't feature a big name that can be marketed to a wide audience. Say what you want about George Segal and Jeff Garlin, those guys aren't turning a sitcom into appointment television. Despite a cast of relative unknowns, The Goldbergs became a smash hit that has aired over 200 episodes. It even was recently picked up for a 10th season with an option for an 11th season included, as well.

    Perhaps the secret sauce that turned the show into a success is the involvement of Patton Oswalt as the adult version of Sean Giambrone's fictionalized Adam F. Goldberg. Oswalt has been a stand-up star for years now and has featured in everything from Ratatouille to Justified. The guy just has one of those voices that works, you know?

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  • How I Met Your Mother
    Photo: CBS

    How I Met Your Mother has an ingenious framing device. An unseen Bob Saget explains to his teenage kids the very lengthy and often inappropriate story of how he met their mother. Getting the man best known for his dad-like persona on Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos was an inspired decision. But, like, those kids had to be sitting there for ages. How I Met Your Mother ran for nine seasons and over 200 episodes! 

    Is it kind of weird that Bob Saget sounds nothing like Josh Radnor? Yeah, a little bit. Luckily, though, they never put Saget on camera, so the cognitive dissonance was never all that crazy. Honestly, it's much more alarming that a dad went into such detail with his children about all the various relationships he had throughout his 30s. That is not normal behavior. Oh, well. At least the show is funny!

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  • How do you get the general public on board with a sitcom as unique (for the time) as Arrested Development? You get sitcom royalty to narrate it! Based on the show's relatively small audience numbers and eventual cancellation despite critical acclaim, this plan didn't exactly work out as intended. Howard and his business partner Brian Grazer served as executive producers on the series and would return for the show's Netflix continuation. 

    After becoming a household name thanks to starring roles on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, Howard became one of the most prominent directors in Hollywood. Arrested Development even played on this, having Howard show up as a fictionalized version of himself in a few episodes with his family in tow. It is funny to see Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard appear in an episode of Arrested Development mainly as a sight gag.

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  • Everybody Hates Chris
    Photo: The CW

    Famous comedian Chris Rock co-created and narrated his own sitcom in Everybody Hates Chris. With a title inspired by popular TV comedy Everybody Loves Raymond and a nostalgic 1980s setting, this mid-2000s gem became an underrated hit for the CW. That is in no small part thanks to Rock as a creative lead and narrator. 

    Rock has one of the most recognizable voices in comedy after decades of Hollywood success. Pretty much everyone has either seen at least one of his movies, watched Saturday Night Live when he was a cast member, or has laughed at one of his award-winning stand-up specials. Tyler James Williams starred as a young version of Rock as the comedian reminisced about his life growing up in New York City.

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  • Pushing Daisies
    Photo: ABC

    Pushing Daisies is one of those cult television shows that never got the proper due it deserved during its heyday. Sure, it was a critical darling and yes, it garnered all kinds of Emmy nominations, but the audience numbers were never there for this whimsical series, and it truly is a shame. Instead of becoming a long-running show with numerous seasons, all fans got was a scant 22-episode run that only scratched the surface of what could've been.

    In addition to having a bomb cast including the likes of Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, and Kristin Chenoweth, the series also featured Jim Dale as an unseen, seemingly omniscient narrator. Harry Potter fans will recognize Dale's signature vocal style from his Grammy award-winning audiobooks of the beloved children's series. As you'd imagine, getting Dale to narrate each episode plays perfectly into the show's storybook aesthetic.

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