Ascended Extra

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At least the forced perspective necessary to pull off this shot is magnificent.


Q: Do I know you?
O'Brien: O'Brien...
Q: (stares)
O'Brien: From the Enterprise.

Q: The Enterprise... ah yes. Weren't you one of the little people?

A minor character who is given a greatly expanded role in the later part of the series, a new adaptation of a story, or in the Expanded Universe. It is usually safer to do this with an otherwise obscure character without much depth, since the likelihood of creating plot contradictions is lower. On the other hand, the character may or may not be allowed to have a huge effect on the plot depending on how much the writer is trying to follow source material. Can lead to some bizarre incongruities in planning (e.g. Overtook the Manga, Restricted Expanded Universe). Sometimes the minor character becomes an Ascended Extra just so the writers can immediately turn them into a Sacrificial Lion.

This naturally occurs as a series goes on for long periods of time and useful for filler, technically not requiring you invent someone whole cloth. Be warned however that this character might be more liked by the Fandom than the writers, who may have no compunction with getting rid of them when convenient.

This also happens somewhat regularly in Fan Fiction. Stories about a minor character who is given his own subplot (or prequel, sequel, or AU) seem to be 'training wheels' for writers who don't quite trust themselves with original fiction yet and are re-using the setting, but basically making up new characters.

Compare the Breakout Character, where a supporting character gains a fandom that rivals or exceeds the main characters and thus becomes more prominent in canon. Compare also the Ensemble Darkhorse where in a similar fashion, a small side character will be readjusted in the course of the same show to gain a more central role in the plot. See Breakout Villain specifically for when a would-be one-shot villain ascends to Big Bad status, either through Ascended Extra or Breakout Character. A One-Scene Wonder is not an Ascended Extra, at least officially; fanfic, on the other hand...

See Mauve Shirt for when a member of the Redshirt Army gets his own name and minor characterization, but still doesn't become more than a minor supporting character in any way. For the villain equivalent, see Mook Promotion. The inverse of this Trope is Demoted to Extra. Retroactive Recognition is when this happens in Real Life.

Compare Red Herring Shirt, only the ascension is intended from the beginning, and Ensemble Darkhorse, where fans become fascinated by a character who canonically has only a very small role, at least initially.

Also, contrast with Demoted to Extra.

Examples of Ascended Extra include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Black Cat, Mason Ordrosso goes from having a one-page cameo (in the manga), to becomming the second Big Bad in the anime adaption.
  • When Slayers was novelized, Lina and Gourry were actually the only real protagonists; their companions in the first arc of novels, Zelgadis and Amelia, were only their allies for that period of time (and even then, Amelia did not appear during the battle with Copy Rezo as she did in the anime). They were replaced with Luke and Milina in the second arc of novels. When the anime was becoming popular, however, Zel and Amelia became popular enough to appear in more places than they did, and upon expansion, the "Slayers" became a four-man party instead; just about all of the video games and manga that came followed suit with this. By contrast, Luke and Milina only appeared outside the novels in the Hourglass of Falces manga, and even there, the group is a Six-Man Band instead.
  • The Dragon Ball series:
    • Chi-Chi first appeared as a small warrior princess who can hold her own in a fight, and offered Goku a marriage proposal, which he unwittingly accepts thinking it was a type of food. Years later, an angry Chi-Chi fights Goku in the 23rd Tenka'ichi Budokai and they end up together as husband and wife, where from then on, Chi-Chi goes from Action Girl to Mama Bear, but a few times, she can still kick someone's ass.
  • Given that the entire series is heavily character-centric, Bleach is a good example; nearly everyone initially appears as supporting characters (Isshin going from comic relief-ridden Bumbling Dad to the most likely candidate for the series' Big Good) or typical background extras (Ishida first appearing as part of the crowd at Don Kanonji's show and Harribel's introduction as among the twenty Arrancar that were present when Ulquiorra gave his report on Ichigo's power level to the Big Bad), only to gain a much more prominent role several dozen, or even hundred chapters/episodes later on. Even those that seem as insignificant as the foddergami (less than half of the lieutenants) are likely to, or already have gotten more screen time and depth over the course of the series. This in mind, it's no wonder the Shinigami captains and lieutenants of the Gotei 13 became the Spotlight-Stealing Squad. However, the major flaw of this is that, in order to better-develop the Shinigami, practically the entire Five-Man Band has either been shifted Out of Focus or suffered disconcerting degrees of Demoted to Extra status, and that's without taking the Karakura High School classmates into consideration.
  • In the manga, Sailor Moon's secondary villains never lasted beyond one or two chapters. When the TV adaptation introduced its Monster of the Week Filler, they were often given quirkier personalities, some depth to their characters, and increased screen time.
    • The fourth season has an especially odd example. The Amazon Trio (three goofy bishounen) stuck around long enough that fans not familiar with the manga might have thought they were the season's primary Quirky Miniboss Squad, even though they would be replaced by the more appropriate Amazoness Quartet (who actually got less appearances.) In the manga, the members of the Trio were one-shot characters who served the Amazoness Quartet and were generally closer to the Monster of the Week type.
      • As hinted at above, the Amazoness Quartet are an inversion—not only are they the main secondary villains of that Story Arc in the manga, but they're some of the very few villains in the manga to be redeemed, and end up becoming the Asteroid Senshi who act as Chibiusa's bodyguards. Whereas in the anime, they have less episodes than the Trio did, and never show up again after their redemption, thus never becoming the Asteroid Senshi. Thus, the Quartet were actually Demoted to Extra from manga to anime.
    • Jadeite was the first villain the girls ever faced and was done away with after a few episodes, but latched onto by Fanfic writers because he didn't explicitly die, suffering a Fate Worse Than Death instead. Also, a Monster of the Week called Thetis is often adopted with him, as she has much more personality to work with than the other monsters (and has a notable crush on Jadeite).
    • Another noticeable example is the first season's Nephrite, whose goal was to locate the Silver Crystal. While he was quickly and unceremoniously killed off in the manga, in the anime, Usagi/Serena's friend Naru/Molly kept interfering in his progress, and through continued interaction, he fell for her, and pulled a last-minute Heel Face Turn to save her at the cost of his own life.
    • The Sailor Starlights were even noted for being this trope by the author of the original manga (where they're killed off after a few chapters, never to be seen again). Their anime role is basically a mix of Tuxedo Mask and the Outer Senshi, with Seiya's relationship with Usagi given a much bigger focus (due to Seiya being rewritten into a boy who transforms into a girl, rather than a girl crossdressing as a boy.) Oh, and they're the only ones apart from Usagi to survive until the very end.
  • In the third season of Full Metal Panic!, the assassin twin sisters Yu Fan and Yu Lan had a much expanded role than they had in the novel on which the show was based. In said novel, they were male and died rather quickly. Perhaps their tendency to hold each other naked had something to do with this change.
  • The entire Montague family in the Romeo X Juliet anime. In the original play, the Capulets had more focus, partially due to Juliet's Arranged Marriage to Paris; in contrast, Romeo's mother, Lady Montague, has one spoken line and dies from sadness by the end of the play. In the anime, it's reversed: save Juliet, all of the Capulets are dead, Lord Montague is the Big Bad, Romeo's the one with an arranged suitor, and Tybalt is secretly related to Romeo as a cousin, whereas he was Juliet's in the play. For individual characters, there's Romeo's relative Benvolio, and Juliet's nurse, who is actually given a name, Cornelia.
  • Sumomo in Keroro Gunsou was, in the manga, a character from a one-shot side story loosely connected to the main comic. In the anime, she was remade into an alien Idol Singer who was taking an impromptu vacation on Earth in her first appearance, and eventually became a recurring character.
    • Interestingly, the show seems aware of this, as some characters only appear between long stretches of episodes, prompting the narrator to cheerfully jog the viewer's memory.
  • Madame Taki in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. In the manga, she's a nondescript fortune teller from Lucia's palace who only appears twice, and one of those times was in a flashback detailing why Lucia was raised as a Sleeping Beauty. In the anime, she's a weird fortune teller who came to the surface with Lucia, Nikora and Hippo, and she's also Nikora's "guardian creature", like Hippo to Lucia.
  • Miho Nosaka only appeared in one chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, but was made a main character in the Toei anime version (the lost "first" season). Her personality was drastically altered, too; in the manga, she was a gentle, bookish girl, but in the anime she is sweet, kind, innocent, outgoing, and a Kawaiiko.
    • In the Toei series, Jounouchi's Ill Girl sister Shizuka only appeared in one episode. The second series gives her a more extended role and two Moments Of Awesome.
    • Ryuji Otogi (Duke Devlin in the English version). In the manga, his father sent him to defeat Yugi because his loss to Yugi's grandfather Sugoroku when they played the Devil's Board Game, which aged him 50 years overnight. But, Ryuji isn't that cold-hearted and won't let his dad make him hate Yugi. After that story arc, he was never to be seen again in the manga. As for the anime, he was first shown in a less sympathetic light, wanting revenge on Yugi for defeating Pegasus at Duelist Kingdom. After being beaten at his own game, Dungeon Dice Monsters, he softens up completely and appears throughout the rest of the anime as a supporting character.
    • Remember Tetsu Ushio, that bully who was Dark Yugi's first victim? He's back as a policeman in a supporting role in 5Ds, and even gets to act heroic.
  • Kazuhiko Amagasaki from Tenchi Muyo only showed up in a brief scene of episode 1, but managed to gain enough popularity to get a bigger role in Tenchi in Tokyo.
  • Yoki gets this treatment in Fullmetal Alchemist. In both the manga and the 2003 anime version, he's first introduced as a corrupt official lording over a mining town: Ed deposes him, the townspeople kick him out, and he ends up living as a fugitive. In the 2003 anime, he lives long enough to perform one last Kick the Dog before getting killed with little fanfare; in the manga, however, he ends up traveling with Scar and becomes a reluctant member of the team, ultimately getting his own Big Damn Heroes moment when he shows up in a stolen car and runs down Pride, the hands-down most powerful of the Homunculi.
    • Lust's role in the 2003 series was greatly expanded, and given much more depth than her manga counterpart. In the 2003 series, she wants to be human because she feels something is missing, and she is one of the three Homonculi portrayed with great sympathy (Greed and Wrath are the others).
      • Also, Shou Tucker, a minor villain who was wasted in fairly short order in the manga, becomes a Chimera in the first anime and returns to cause trouble a few more times.
      • Rose and Sheska both count as this in the first anime too. Rose became important to the story near the end and Sheska basically became a second heroine next to her (in this incarnation) best friend Winry.
      • The other Chimeras from Devil's Nest also had greatly expanded roles in the anime.
  • Chie Harada was simply one of Those Two Guys in My-HiME, and a close friend who provided emotional and moral support to the protagonist, but didn't have much plot importance. Her Mai-Otome counterpart, Chie Hallard, is a high-profile supporting character, even getting pictured on a DVD cover with Aoi, That Other One Girl.
    • Not to mention Arika and Nina, the two main characters of Mai-Otome were practically nonexistant in Mai-HiME. They had no lines and minimal screen time - Arika only as a cameo in the finale, Nina as simply a Living Prop in Mai's classroom. Only Nina had a name, and it was in Japanese, only revealed in one of the Omake that briefly lists the names of everyone in Mai's class.
  • In one of the Naruto video games, the ANBU organization, specifically members Towa, Komachi and Yugao Uzuki, were given major roles in the storyline. Also, Kakashi wearing an ANBU uniform is playable in the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja games.
    • As if Iruka wasn't already enough of an Ensemble Darkhorse, the Abridged Series gets him into a rivalry with Kakashi.
    • A filler episode of the anime turns Mizuki (a very minor villain who appeared in the first episode of the series) into that arc's Big Bad (and in fact had him working for the regular Big Bad).
    • Matsuri, formerly a nameless Fan Girl of Gaara's in Part II, appears in the last of the Part 1 filler arcs as the first student to accept him as her teacher, and who gets kidnapped by the villains of the arc to lure him out. She also gets some lines of dialogue in the anime version of the Gaara arc.
      • And proceeded to get her very own entry into the official databook under that name.
    • Chiriku, one of Asuma's old friends and one of the 12 Guardian Ninjas, gets more of a role in the Temple of Fire arc.
    • Tenten also counts. While in the manga, she has two off-screen battles- one of which she loses and one of which she wins... against herself and makes minor contributions to a group battle, in the anime filler arcs, she gets a few battles where she does significantly better and even has her off-screen battles shown from start to finish.
  • Kaworu from Neon Genesis Evangelion. It sometimes takes fans a bit of time to realize that outside of the movies, he only appeared in one episode, and had the approximate screentime of Jet Alone (remember JA? We didn't think so.) That said, he was important to the plot, but most of the character attributes were retconned since they couldn't actually be displayed in what little screentime he had.
    • In the franchise, Mana Kirishima counts as well, being one of the very few non-canon characters to appear in more than one spin-off (debuts in Girlfriend of Steel, then manages to get into Shinji Ikari Instrumentality Project).
  • Shin, Kenshiro's first notable adversary in Fist of the North Star, was killed off rather quickly in the original manga after playing out his role to serve as exposition on Kenshiro's background and motivation, since the future of the serial was still uncertain at the time. In the TV series, Shin's story arc was extended beyond the events of the original manga, with Shin getting much greater development. One episode gives his own moment of glory when he singlehandedly thwarts a rebellion within his own subordinates, displaying a bit of his martial art skills before confronting Kenshiro.
  • Franz in Gankutsuou. In The Count of Monte Cristo he's a minor character who receives exposition in one short section of the story and serves as an easily overcome roadblock to the Official Couple. In the anime he becomes integral to the two main characters' relationship.
  • Code Geass's Nina Einstein is arguably a rather uncommon case on how this isn't always a good thing. At first she seemed to be nothing more than a quiet, shy little Meganekko whom is just one of Milly's friends. However, due to her knowledge in science (among other things), her role gradually gets considerably larger. But the bad news is that this is when her reputation of being "an evil insane racist" was starting to grow as well. (Granted, the show tries to redeem her later on in R2, but lets just say not everyone was willing to forgive her.) Though in a way people probably would've liked her more right from the start if she was just one of Milly's little friends and pretty much stayed that way (in fact, the manga adaptation actually does just this.)
    • In a way Lelouch and Nunally's mother Marianne is like this as well; in the beginning she seemed to be a token "Kind Mother whose only purpose is to have died in a flashback just so main characters can have a sad backstory". However later on in R2 let's just say that wasn't quite the case, and it appears that she is just as bad as her dear hubby Charles. Granted it was all a part of their rather convoluted plan for peace that reminded people about a certain other plan lets just say. Not to mention on how the only reason why Lelouch and Nunally were living their lives like they were before the whole story started is that it was all a part of Charles and Marianne's plan. So in short as for later on R2 Marianne went from one of the better mothers in the show to quite possibly the worst mother ever.
    • While some characters were Demoted to Extra's for "Lelouch of The Rebellion" (manga), some such as Euphemia were given far bigger parts.
    • Jeremiah Gottwald also got an expanded role in R2 after some Executive Meddling. Apparently, Jeremiah gained such a fanbase in the first season, that the producer rewrote the script to include him in R2 instead keeping him killed off. It was awesome.
  • In One Piece, Michael and Hoichael, two delinquents in Water 7, are once suspected as being responsible for the assassination attempt on Water 7, and later try to mug Zoro, only to get beaten up and forced to lead him back to the rest of the crew. In the Post-Enies Lobby arc, they appear in a filler episode as part of a makeshift family consisting of a woman and her "children," who are not blood-related, and Zoro helps defeat the collectors after they hire Mikazaki of the Crescent Moon (another Ascended Extra, a pirate with a 38 million bounty who got Worfed by the Galley-La company).
  • Digimon Tamers had a few of these. Bridge Bunny Riley/Reika became an Ascended Extra later on in the series, although that might have been because she was dating the not-bad-guy of the series (Yamaki). Takato's friends Jeri, Kazu, and Kenta; as well as Henry's little sister Suzie, also become this trope when all four of them become Sixth Rangers.
  • Sae's sister Chika is arguably important in the Hidamari Sketch anime, but you won't be able to find her in the manga—she is only referenced to and not given a name there.
  • Renko Kamishakujii and Koyuki Asagiri, while they both had minor roles in the first Kujibiki Unbalance "series" (it's tough to tell with only three episodes), they were major characters in the TV series version. In contrast, Komaki and Izumi, once major characters, were reduced to side roles.
  • Ouran High School Host Club's Renge Houshakuji was introduced early on with her own chapter, and then she faded to the background. She does still make occasional cameo appearances, though. Bisco Hatori-sensei had mentioned Renge was intended to be a recurring character, but for whatever reason it never happened. Her role in the anime is expanded quite a bit as an As You Know, Genre Savvy Fan Girl, and she does a few of the tasks Tamaki had initially done in the manga (such as helping Nekozawa with his photophobia). Bisco-sensei was happy to see Renge given more screentime in the anime, even if her appearances became less frequent toward the finale.
  • "Lum's Stormtroopers" in Urusei Yatsura. In the manga, they were minor characters who didn't even have nicknames given, weren't really distinguished from each other (to the point that it's not consistent about whether there are four of five of them), and stop appearing fairly early on in the series. In the anime, they're given the nicknames "Megane", "Chibi", "Kakugari", and "Perm", Megane is a supporting character about as important as (for example) Mendo or Ten, and Perm is sort of a composite of two characters from the manga: minor character Kosuke Shirai, and the nameless permed-hair guy. (Kosuke Shirai himself eventually appeared in the anime in the 2008 OVA.)
  • Konori Mii from To Aru Kagaku no Railgun was originally a nameless Judgement character in the manga, but in the anime, she got backstory, character development, her own fair share of moments and voicing from Kana Ueda.
    • Uiharu is a very small character in Index but a main cast member in Railgun.
  • Simply because of the nature of the series, this arguably happens a lot in Axis Powers Hetalia. Examples may include the Nordics, Micronations or characters that only have a basic design.
    • This is also arguably how the Allies and the more prominent Nations like Poland, Lithuania and the Frying Pangle (Austria, Hungary, Prussia) started off in the first place.
  • Brigadoon Marin and Melan was an Anime First series. When the manga came out, Aloma was given a much greater role, including the role of alternative love interest for Marin.
  • Nanami from Revolutionary Girl Utena. She only appears in a photo in the manga, but becomes a regular secondary character and a duelist in the anime.
  • In the Excel Saga manga, Pedro appears only a few panels before dying. He still dies as quickly in the anime, but his story continues, with continuity that the rest of the series lacks.
  • The author of D.Gray-man revealed in her commentary that Miranda Lotto was originally supposed to be an arc character never to be seen again, but as she got into the story she took a liking to her, made her an exorcist and had her join the main cast a couple of arcs later.
  • General Gunther Reindardt of Robotech: Originally, the animation for the final series made many fans assume that the returning Expeditionary fleet was destroyed by the Invids' transcendence to a higher plane. The Jack McKinney novels assumed this. It was probably true in the original Japanese version of Mospeada. At that time, the General didn't yet have a name and his connection to Admiral Hunter was Just Following Orders. He was named in the novels and was established as one of Rick Hunter's close friends. After 20 years of debating what was seen in the animation, the 2007 movie Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles not only made Reinhardt one of the lead characters, but showed that the Invids' transcendence destroyed only the Neutron-S missiles, and not any manned Expeditionary ships, ensuring that Reinhardt and his crew survive to be in sequels.
  • Misty and Brock of Pokémon would qualify as this as in the games the show was based on they merely appeared as the first two Gym Leaders.
    • In Best Wishes, they repeat this with Cilan and Iris.
    • Pikachu was nothing in Pokémon Red and Blue. As explained here, it was turned from an insignificant unevolved Pokémon into the poster boy for the entire thing.
    • Pokémon Special has this with nearly every Gym Leader, and quite a few other people. A noticeable example is Courtney, a Team Magma admin. She never appeared in the anime, never appeared in any other manga, doesn't have any official art, was fought once, and never appeared in the timeline canon Emerald. But she's the most developed of the admins for either team, maybe even more-so then the leaders.
    • Pokemon adaptations in general tend to do this. Any important NPC will probably have some plot significance for at least a chapter.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima exemplifies this trope. Several characters who barely got any panels per volume to their selves for the first few volumes get entire sub-plots revolving around them. A few examples:
    • Natsumi, Kazumi, Ku Fei and Mana are barely mentioned in the beginning yet became pivotal players in the most recent story arc.
    • The defeat Rakan revolved partly around Ako trying to work out her feelings for Negi/Nagi.
    • Chao Lingshen had an entire story arc written around her. If that's not ascension of an extra, I don't know what is.
  • Yuka Hanazawa of Beelzebub was originally just one of two occasional characters in The Red Tails, usually just appearing for a quick background appearance. As of late, she's taken on a more prominent role, frequently seen hanging around Kanzaki.
  • In the original OVA for |Black Rock Shooter, Yuu was little more than a side character (she didn't even have a last name), while Black★Gold Saw and Strength appeared without much relevance to the plot. The 2012 anime increased the roles of all three characters particularly Yuu and Strength.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Much of the human cast of The Sandman. Its traditional to introduce a character in one story arc as a minor background character, only to have them reappear in a later arc as the protagonist.
    • Unity Kincaid. In "Preludes and Nocturnes", she briefly appears as one of the victims of the sleeping sickness. In "The Doll's House", she is revealed to be the grandmother of that story's protagonist, Rose Walker.
    • Barbie. In "The Doll's House", she's one of the guests at Hal's boarding house. She later turns out to be the protagonist of "A Game of You", which follows her adventures in the Dreaming after she breaks up with her boyfriend Ken.
    • Martin Tenbones. First appears in one frame in "The Doll's House", where he's one of the creatures in Barbie's dream. He appears as a living being in "A Game of You", when Barbie travels through her own dreams.
    • Lyta Hall. Briefly appears in "The Doll's House" as a prisoner of Brute and Glob. Then Dream vows to take away her child, and...things get more complicated. After a few sporadic appearances in later issues, she becomes the protagonist of "The Kindly Ones".
    • Daniel Hall. Introduced as Lyta Hall's baby, who Dream vows to take away when he's old enough. After a few background appearances, he plays a central role in "The Kindly Ones". And in "The Wake", he becomes the new Dream after the original's death.
  • John Constantine, star of Hellblazer, was originally just a recurring extra in Swamp Thing who looked like Sting. Artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben convinced writer Alan Moore to give him a speaking part, just because they liked drawing Sting so much. His popularity took off from there.
  • X-Men has quite a few characters whose role is expanded in adaptations:
    • Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels. In the comicverse, he dies in the three-parter that introduces them, in a Heroic Sacrifice once they get out of control. His son and his nephew also tried their hand at it, but also didn't stick around. Despite X-Men's love of Back from the Dead, Bolivar took forty-three years to get there. He finally came back from the dead in the main Marvel Universe in X-Force v3 #6. In the intervening years however? In the 1990s animated series, he's a Recurrer you can expect to see in many a Sentinel story, on the run from his own creations. In X-Men: Evolution, he's arrested after the initial (unauthorized in this version) Sentinel incident, but kept around by SHIELD to design more once Apocalypse comes onto the scene. Had the series continued past the Apocalypse arc, we'd no doubt have seen a lot more of him and his wayward Humongous Mecha children. He's got an expanded, recurring role in Ultimate Marvel as well.
    • Berzerker of the Morlocks (yeah, with a Z). Comics: seen in one issue. Sympathetic but completely nuts. His friend Scaleface is killed by the cops because of Cyclops destroying their cover (he figured it'd make 'em stand down and hadn't counted on the cops shooting first and asking questions later) so he goes, well, berserk and dies when he's knocked into water during the ensuing battle (frying him with his own electrical powers). In X-Men: Evolution, though, he's an ex-Morlock and one of the newer students, with the show for three seasons. Temperamental but not Ax Crazy.
      • Scaleface herself. In the 1990s series and Evo, her power to turn into a big nasty lizard really gets to shine. Though she doesn't see an increase in screentime, her role goes from "dies so Berzerker can go even more nuts" to "Morlocks' resident bruiser." Berzerker wasn't even in the 1990s series.
  • Karl Ruprect Kroenen from Hellboy. In the comics, he appeared briefly in Seed of Destruction, then figured in a minor subplot of Wake the Devil, at the end of which he died. In The Movie, he had as much screen time as the main villain, Rasputin, and his death was pretty ambiguous.
  • Oroku Saki, aka The Shredder, was originally a one-time villain. However, he grew popular with the comic's readers. The rest is history.
    • In the original Mirage comics Chet was the name given to the turtles' original owner, whose panel time can be counted on one hand. In the IDW comics, however, he is now one of Stockgen's head scientists, and April's supervisor.
  • Sunstorm of Transformers. In the Transformers Generation 1 show, before the Decepticon roster grew enough to fill large battles with known characters, repaints of Starscream were often used when Megatron needed more Mooks. One of these repaints, seen very briefly in the premiere, was bright yellow. The comic books flesh out this blink-and-you-miss it extra into a radioactive berserker, and he's still getting toys and other appearances, and is homaged in Transformers Animated (the kiss-up Starscream clone has his coloration.)
    • Many, many Transformers have a role that's much larger than that of previous holders of the name. For example, Red Alert was a background character in a few episodes of G1, and his one A Day in the Limelight episode had him go insane due to damage. Transformers Armada and Transformers Cybertron make him The Medic and a central character. Also, Overhaul was previously a Red Shirt in the Dreamwave Comics series: his first panel involved him getting a hole blasted through him.
  • This happens to at least two characters in the film adaptation of 300; Stelios turns from a teenage Spartan who is ridiculed by the others when he tires out to an adult, battle-hardened soldier who exemplifies the Spartan image, and the Captain's son is given a name (Astinos) and takes Stelios's place as the eager young Spartan.
  • Batman villains, anyone? Two-Face appeared perhaps three times in the Golden Age, and was unused for roughly twenty years before his Bronze Age revival; The Riddler and The Penguin made more frequent appearances, but were still, at best, recurrent characters. Today, they are regular cast members. The Penguin is now an unshakable Gotham crime boss; Two-Face, the Riddler, and Man-Bat have all Ascended to "dubious ally" status. Catwoman is now firmly an Anti-Hero, and rather less "anti" than many of her peers in that group.
  • And let's not forget that random office boy who eventually graduated to a long-running book of his own as Superman's Pal.
  • In the Green Lantern, Mogo, the sentient Green Lantern planet, began as a clever gag in an Alan Moore story, but now he's a regular presence in stories about the Corps.
  • Marvel Comics' Headsman started off as a villain in Untold Tales of Spider Man, but didn't come to attention until he later joined the Thunderbolts.
  • Sandra and Monique from the Scott Pilgrim series. Lampshaded in the final volume when they get multiple introduction scenes.
  • Parodied in the very first issue of Bartman #1 during the scene where Bart Simpson, Milhouse Van Houten, and Martin Prince all meet in the comic-book shop. Bart points out one comics panel (unseen to the reader) featuring a street scene with a random pedestrian in the background. Bart explains that the writers plan to kill this guy off in the next issue and then bring him back to life as a supervillain known as "The Jaywalker"!

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • In the X-Men fanfic Mutatis Mutandis, the author mentions that initially Jean-Paul was supposed to be Rogue's snarky best friend and moral compass but realized he was described in a way that did not lend himself to such a role. Thus, Victor (Anole) became the blue oni to Anna's red.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality does this a fair bit; some characters with only background roles in the original series have much more fleshed out parts, most notably Blaise Zabini.
  • The Supetastic 6 were just in an animated special of the same name in The Naked Brothers Band, now they're recurring characters in Super Milestone Wars with Captain Music as the Supporting Leader. In it's sequel, they're are the main protagonists.
  • Luminosity diverges from the plot of the Twilight novels radically enough that this is almost a guarantee. One notable example would be Gianna, whom Twilight fans would know as that woman who was in the Volturi's waiting room and whom Luminosity fans would immediately recognize—her brother Ilario gets a role, she's Elspeth's mother, she's Maggie's mate...
  • Ever since Blaise Zabini shared a train compartment with Draco, he's shown up in countless fanfics as Draco's BFF. This is particularly noticeable when authors fail to get the few facts we do know about him, such as his dark skin or the fact that his mother has married seven times (with a very strong implication that she's a Black Widow).
  • In Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns, Trian Aeducan does not die because of the Zero-Approval Gambit that the Guile Hero / Magnificent Bastard protagonist pulled off. He grows into a very likable Wise Prince later on, although, true enough, he goes through a several months-long Break the Haughty process first.
  • In the Forever Knight Continuation FK4, Urs, a vampire character who appeared in four episodes of Season 3, becomes part of the main cast.
  • XSGCOM does this a lot. For example, central character Commander Russell Sharp was merely a throwaway mention in a X-COM manual.
  • This Death Note fanfic does this with Matt, who went from One-Scene Wonder of 16-panel and 30-second fame in canon to becoming one of the main characters. In fact, L needs him specifically to not only solve the Kira investigation, but also to resolve the tension between Near and Mello.
    • And then there's Linda,[1] who also seems to be a central character. though as of late she's been Put on a Bus.
  • Winter War has a lot of these, ranging from Minor Major Characterss like Sasakibe, who goes from "the Lieutenant of First Division who never does anything" to a more fleshed-out character and a mainstay of La Résistance, to characters who had brief importance in canon and haven't been seen since (Shiba Kuukaku, Rikichi, Sora Inoue) and become pivotal again in the fic, to Omake characters like Shirogane and Ogidou getting personalities and plot importance, to literal Ascended Extras like Ito- who seems to be the nameless guy with the blond mohawk in the Eleventh Division ending of the anime.
  • Lily from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Silver Resistance. First she was submitted as a potential character for the prequel, Emerald Chronicles. After that, she starts appearing in the main story, eventually joining the main characters on their quest.
  • A Growing Affection, even more than the video game above, makes Yugao Uzuki a major supporting character. She has a romantic subplot, gets her own team, and gets a Backstory linking her to Anko and Iruka. Who also appear in a more pivotal role in this story.
  • Eri's Game makes Eri, Shiki's best friend, the main character and narrator of this fanfic.


Film[edit | hide]

  • So many characters in Star Wars that it would be impossible to list them all. For example, watch the cantina scene from the original film; every last patron has at least a name and a bit of backstory. Some actually get their own story in the anthology book "Tales From The Cantina"; several who hadn't been named ended up on the Star Wars Databank, where fans were allowed to come up with their own backstories and names, then vote on which ones were the best. After that, though, they tend to never come up again - the Star Wars Expanded Universe is infamous for this and a few characters do recur, but honestly, most characters in the EU were either named and had a line or two or are entirely original creations who were never on screen. Even fan favorites like Boba Fett and Wedge Antilles, moving on to their own novels and appearing again and again, were minor non-mains who still had lines and plot significance.
    • Remember that nameless red droid with a bad motivator from Episode 4? This trope was mocked in the non-canon comic Skippy the Jedi Droid, where he was a Force-Sensitive droid who used to work for Jabba. He self-destructed on purpose because he could see the future and knew that R2 needed to go with Luke, or even Skippy's Parody Sue skills couldn't stop Reality from Ensuing badly.
    • Ask any hardcore Star Wars fan about the silver protocol droid Threepio meets in Cloud City just before he gets blasted. Go ahead. We'll wait.
    • A good example of the difference ascension makes: This is a normal Imperial Guard. And here's Kir Kanos, who wasn't in the films but has a comics plotline of his own, in what could be a case of the job producing an Ascended Extra.
    • Every character that ever appeared in the films has at least a name. Watch A New Hope. Red 6 (the fat guy in Luke's wing when they attacked the Death Star)? Jek Porkins. The Stormtrooper who found 3P0's ankle ring? Davin Felth. Remember the Endor strike team?
    • Several characters from Death Star. The guy manning the Death Star's main weapon, who appears once and says "Stand by"? There's a whole story about him.
    • Wulff Yularen, originally an unnamed background officer on the Death Star in A New Hope was given one in the collectible card game and then generally forgotten. Come 2008 and he's probably the largest Republic non-Jedi, non-clone military figure in Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the first two seasons.
  • In The Lord of the Rings novels, Arwen appears only briefly in the main narrative with the majority of her and Aragorn's story relegated to a chapter in the appendix. In Peter Jackson's version, she is featured prominently in all three films and replaces several minor characters, most notably Glorfindel who aids Aragorn and the Hobbits as they flee the Ringwraiths. Not only does Arwen replace Glorfindel, she's given the additional task of personally carrying Frodo upon her horse, and her Crowning Moment of Awesome -- "If you want him, come and claim him!"—is a unique addition to the film. In the novel, Glorfindel places Frodo on his horse and then stays behind with Aragorn and the Hobbits to do what he can to slow the Ringwraiths' pursuit, at which point the narrative focus shifts entirely to Frodo.
  • The Meganulon (Giant dragonfly-like monsters) from Rodan were only minor characters in the film. Later, they would become the major villains in Godzilla vs Megaguirus.
  • Scabior In The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Films. He appears very briefly in the books when he and other snatchers capture the trio and take them to Malfoy Monor after that He dissapears from the Plot though There is speculation that he is Killed by Voldemort after the trio escapes with Dean, Luna, Griphook and Olivander. He appears much more in the films peppered about to the point where he doesn't even appear in the events portrayed in part 2 in the books even though he does in the Film.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a fox appears for approximately one page whose main hobbies include hosting dinner parties and Innocently Bystanding. In the movie version, he gets to show off his pedigree a bit more, and is upgraded to the Sacrificial Lion, though he got better. He was also used as a device to make Edmund a bit kinder than the book version before his Heel Face Turn.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Denny the whale (uber-producer Jerry Weintraub) has a tiny cameo in the first film, causes the second film by unwittingly bragging about the heist to two European master thieves, and makes amends in the last film when he convinces the other big spenders to leave Bank's casino. Also, the mansion seen in the last movie is one of Jerry's Big Fancy Houses.
  • Playing with this trope, Guy Fleegman in Galaxy Quest was just another Red Shirt who got killed in the original series. But after going on a real space adventure with the crew gets his own starring role in the new Galaxy Quest series.
  • Snow White and The Three Stooges gave Prince Charming an actual major role. Unfortunately it was at the expense of the title characters.
  • In The Crow, there's that one little girl whom Eric helps that has a name similar to his dead fiancee's, yeah that one... Well, she gets a name change (Sarah), a big role in the film (basically the bestest buddy of Shelly and Eric), and her mom's involvement with Funboy is upped. From there, she becomes the love interest in the sequel and once again is in the series.
  • Dizzy Flores from Starship Troopers combines this with Gender Flip. In the novel Dizzy is a man, and pretty much all you're told about him is that he died. In the movie adaptation he's a she, and she's one of the major characters as well as a love interest for the main character. This was continued in the animated Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles.
  • Both the Worm Guys and Frank the Pug in Men in Black were one-off jokes in the first movie, but had expanded roles in the second movie and the series.
  • In Spider-Man 3, Elizabeth Banks and Ted Raimi receive billing after their smaller roles in the previous films led to slightly bigger ones in the third.
  • Every doll besides 9 and 5 in the film Nine. In the original short film, the remaining seven dolls did appear, but only for a few seconds at the end of the film. The feature film takes all of them and gives them larger roles and actual personalities (as well as complete character make-overs).
  • Micheal Jai White, who played a small part as an unnamed soldier in the first Universal Soldier, later played the Big Bad in Universal Soldier: The Return.
  • "Happy" Hogan, Tony Stark's bodyguard in Iron Man played by director Jon Favreau, has considerably more lines in the second movie; in addition, he gets to beat down a guard, ram Ivan with his car, and has Black Widow (aka Scarlett Johansson) put him in a headlock with her legs.
  • Mark Hoffman appears briefly in one scene, and has two lines, in Saw III. He becomes considerably more important in later sequels.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, the Furious Five were little more than window-dressing. In Kung Fu Panda 2, they have a much more active role, particularly Tigress.
  • Martin Clunes plays a supporting character in Saving Grace, Dr. Martin Bamford. The character was expanded into two prequel tv films explaining his background. Sometime after that, the character was given a Retool, and became the main character on the series Doc Martin.
  • In the original Bambi Ronno is an unnamed stag who fights over Faline with Bambi. In the midquel he's a fleshed out buck and the central antagonist of the movie.
  • In The Whisperer In Darkness by HP Lovecraft, George Akeley, Henry Akeley's son, is a very minor character who is only mentioned a couple of times in his father's letters and is never seen in person. In the movie based on the story, he is a key liason between Henry and Professor Wilmarth early on. Unlike the story, he is strongly implied to be caught and killed offscreen by the Mi-Go when he tries to deliver the Black Stone to Wilmarth.
  • In the original Rocky, Little Marie appears in one scene where Rocky walks the 12-year-old home. Three decades later, Marie shows up in the final film Rocky Balboa as the lead female character and love interest (after Adrian's death).
  • Ulla in the original film The Producers is nothing but a walking sex joke, barely speaking any English and only showing up to dance occasionally. In the musical, she's made into a fully developed character who speaks English more or less fluently, and even becomes Leo's love interest.
  • In the third movie in the Halloweentown series, Halloweentown High, Ethan (a warlock) was a minor character who was mainly a rival to Marnie but who wasn't important to the story. In Return to Halloweentown, he is a love interest to Marnie. This may be because Lucas Grabeel, who played Ethan, had just been in High School Musical and Disney was trying to promote him.
  • The Greatest Gift, the short story that inpsired Its a Wonderful Life, says nothing about Mr. Potter other than the fact he owned a photography studio. The movie turns him into a Corrupt Corporate Executive who owns nearly all of the town and seizes a couple opportunities to ruin the protagonist's life.
  • In the Tintin comic The Secret of the Unicorn, the minor character Ivan Sakharine is a pushy but ultimately harmless model ship collector who is briefly suspected of stealing Tintin's model of the Unicorn. In the film adaptation of the same comic, however, he is the main villain and the descendant of the pirate Red Rackham. Ironically, in the comic Sakharine is later attacked by the real thief, and if a brief cameo appearance in Red Rackham's Treasure is anything to go by he eventually made his peace with Tintin.
  • The Sea Witch in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid only appears to trade the unnamed mermaid's voice for legs. In the Disney adaptation, however, she is named Ursula and becomes the main antagonist. The same is true for the evil fairy in Sleeping Beauty, who was also unnamed in the original story and disappears after cursing the princess for not being invited to the party.
  • Agent Phil Coulson started out as a minor comic relief character in the Iron Man movie, and has since appeared in Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers, the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, and eventually a main character of the SHIELD TV series, as well as becoming a Canon Immigrant to the comics.

Folklore[edit | hide]

  • In his first appearance in the Robin Hood ballads, Guy Of Guisborne is a bounty hunter in horsehide armour who Robin beheads. Modern retellings have promoted the character being The Dragon to the Sheriff of Nottingham (or sometimes the Big Bad himself) because he was one of the few villains from the ballads to be given a name (and a catchy one, at that).
    • Well, it probably helps that the "Ballad of Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne" features him holding his own against Robin in a two-hour long swordfight. "These yemen together they fought, Two howres of a summer's day. Yett neither Sir Guy nor Robin Hood, Them fettled to flye away." Also that Robin is wounded and prays, before making one more leap and killing Guy with an "awkward" move. Guy fared far better than most of Robin's opponents from the Ballads. It might be among the earliest Robin ballads, because there was a theatrical play based on it c. 1475.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter books was a fairly minor character not being that much more prominent than Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan (who themselves become a little more prominent in Book 5 and 6, and 7 with Dean; though not as much as Neville) until book 5 when he Took a Level in Badass and became much more prominent.
    • Zigzagged with Ginny Weasley. In then first book she was a Chekhov's Gunman having only one brief appearance then in book 2 becoming essential to the plot. Demoted To Extra in Book 3 and a lesser extent in book 4 then becoming far more prominent in Book 5 onward.
  • Irene Adler is frequently Promoted to Love Interest or upgraded to a major supporting character in non-Canon Sherlock Holmes works, even though she only appeared in one original Doyle story ("A Scandal in Bohemia"), and Holmes only briefly encountered her in said story. She makes an impression on Holmes in her brief appearance (understandable, since she's one of the only people ever to outsmart him), but her actual role in the Canon series is minimal.
  • Captain Hastings is promoted to full-fledged Sidekick in the Poirot series. Though he was originally thought up as a Watson figure, he doesn't even appear in most of the novels.
    • However, the novels he does appear in make it clear that he's meant to be a Watson type character, and he appears in enough to make his mark, so this progression is at least Justified Trope.
      • Hastings was introduced in "The Mysterious Affairs at Styles" (1920) to be a Watson-like figure and played that part in several Poirot short stories of the 1920s. Christie later wrote further "early cases" of Poirot set in this period and featuring Hastings. In "The Murder on the Links" (1923), Hastings gains a love interest in the person of Dulcie Duveen, a music-hall actress, singer, and acrobat. (Which he nicknames "Cinderella" or "Cinders".) By the end of the novel they marry and move together to Argentina. Christie later used the excuse of Hastings visiting Poirot in Great Britain to involve him in further cases. The only novels actually using said device were "The Big Four" (1927), "Peril at End House" (1932), "Lord Edgware Dies" (1933), "The A.B.C Murders" (1936) and "Dumb Witness" (1937). Poirot stories or novels set in the 1940s or later, generally do not feature nor mention Hastings. The one exception is "Curtain: Poirot's Last Case" (1975), which was actually written in World War II. There Hastings is featured as an elderly widower, bitter that his children have aged to adulthood and are living their lives far away from their father. He survives Poirot's suicide and gains a second wife in the person of Elizabeth Cole.
  • Arwen barely appears in the story proper to The Lord of the Rings, but she has a major role in the Backstory. The films used material from the appendices, which explained her role, to make her a prominent player in the three films.
    • Gothmog in Return of the King. One mention in the novel (it's never even specified what race he is) becomes a memorable turn in the film with Gothmog as a severely deformed but competent orc general.
      • Fans have speculated that the novel's Gothmog, Lieutenant for Morgul might be a Nazgul (as only two Nazgul is referred to by any name in Tolkien's books - The Witch-King of Angmar and his second-in-command Khamul) - although there are (Name's the Same-invoking) mentions in The Silmarillion of a prior Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs in the First Age of Middle Earth; but I think if the later one was also a Balrog this might have, you know, come up in conversation around Minas Tirith... (Almost a self-Shout-Out, in fact: a likely example of Tolkien recycling a name he'd already created in the 'ancient histories' - not expecting these to ever be published, he occasionally reused a name from them in LOTR e.g. Denethor, Gothmog.)
  • Max the Dog in the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Cindy Lou Who in the live-action film.
  • The cricket from Pinocchio: in the original story, he was a nameless cricket who was squashed by the title character early on and appeared later as a ghost. In the Disney version, he was given the name Jiminy Cricket and promoted to Narrator. Not only did he practically steal the movie away from its title character, but he's gone on to host/narrate other Disney films, short subjects, and even theme park shows. He's also a notable character in several of the Kingdom Hearts games.
  • Emily Bennett in the American Girls Collection books originally appeared in one book, for two weeks of a story (the Molly franchise) that details almost a year and a half. Since she got her own doll, she's been retconned into more of the story. The Film of the Book does it even more.
  • A Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz by Jorge Luis Borges is about a secondary character from the epic poem Martin Fierro.
  • Every character in the film Shrek that wasn't made up for that adaptation is an Ascended Extra, given that it was originally a picture book. This includes Shrek himself, the dragon, Donkey, Lord Farquaad (from the Knight—their specific roles are different, but the parallels are obvious), and Fiona (from the Ugly Princess).
  • Bosie in Cold Mountain was barely described in the book. He's arguably the most entertaining thing about the movie, becoming a sardonic, acrobatic, sharp-shooting Evil Albino prone to nosebleeds.
  • Meet the Robinsons is also adapted from a children's picture book, but oddly, only really does this for Mr. and Mrs. Robinson and Louis. In the book, the former two were rather flat characters with little relevance to the strange goings-on the book focused on... and Louis was an extreme example of the First-Person Peripheral Narrator, being a first-person narrator lacking even a name. Most of the other characters are only minorly expanded, or new to this version.
  • Dune: most adaptations expand the character of Princess Irulan. In the original book, the joke is that she's the author of all the chapter-starting quotes about Muad'Dib, yet only appears right at the end as the Emperor's daughter who Paul marries out of political convenience (and another character remarks that, with such a loveless marriage, she'll have plenty of time for writing...). Which is obviously undermined when the character appears early on, especially in the 2000 miniseries where she meets Paul early in the story and they even seem to have feelings for each other.
    • Duncan Idaho counts, was well. He has a minor (if significant) part in the first book. He returns in Dune Messiah despite having died in the first book for a slightly more major part, and by the end of the series, he's practically the only true constant in the Universe. He's been cloned and killed so often that the afterlife probably has a "Duncan Idaho" section. He is the only character to appear in every novel, excepting only the novels that take place before his birth.
  • In James and the Giant Peach, the rhinoceros that kills James' parents is only mentioned at the very beginning in the book. The Movie, however, gave it a severe upgrade into a major antagonist: it's more of a demonic, lightning-spewing manifestation of James' fears than an actual rhino.
  • According to the foreword to the omnibus edition of the books, Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was intended as a one-scene joke in the original radio play until series producer Geoffrey Perkins talked Adams into developing him further.
  • Discworld has numerous Ascended Extras, from Detritus, who started out as a Splatter (like a Bouncer, but he used more force) who didn't even get a line in Guards! Guards! and eventually worked his way up to being a Sergeant in the City Watch, to Ponder Stibbons, who started out as an inconsequential student at Unseen University and managed to become a senior faculty and later the Archchancellor's right hand man (and by virtue of being the only one of this select group that ever does any actual work, de facto ruler of the University).
    • But Discworld's best example is probably Death. He first showed up in The Colour of Magic as a one-off gag, and has since become one of the most major characters in the series, with at least a cameo in every book but one and several stories that star him. Later on, the same happened for the Death of Rats, as it went from a one-off joke to a steady sidekick to Death, with some non-minor roles in most of Death's books.
    • Terry Pratchett declared that Sam Vimes was planned to be a support character for Carrot, but it just so happened that the whole Watch series ended up revolving around Vimes instead.
      • Unlike most examples, this came more about because of Carrot's character development rather than Vimes. After his first appearance, one of Carrot's major traits is that it is ambiguous whether he is really a naive, simple person that believes everyone has some good within them or if he is essentially manipulating everyone with this persona. The ambiguity wouldn't work if it was from Carrot's perspective.
  • Captain Leopold was created as a supporting character in an Al Darlan story; he went on to become Edward D. Hoch's primary series character.
  • Tigger was a minor character in the original Winnie the Pooh novels by A.A. Milne, only appearing in The House At Pooh Corner. In the Disney Animated Adaptations, his role was expanded, making him the most prominent character after Pooh himself (and perhaps even topping him!). Roo seems to be undergoing a similar evolution in more modern features (though it is probably worth noting nearly every character has gained a plausible amount of screen time at some point, due to the Disney interpretation's tendency to give A Day in the Limelight).
  • Katie Reed in the Anno Dracula series. Kim Newman makes a major player out of a character Bram Stoker created as a plot device in an early draft of Dracula (she was simply someone the main characters of the Epistolary Novel could write letters to), and who never actually appeared in the finished book at all!
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Boq is an extremely minor character—a rich Munchkin who lets Dorothy stay the night at his house before she leaves Munchkinland. In Wicked, Boq is a decently significant supporting character during the Shiz University portion, even narrating an entire chapter. Better yet, in the musical, he becomes the Tin Man.
  • In Harry Turtledove's How Few Remain, Prussian diplomatic attache Schifflen nearly runs down a careless little girl who charges into the street in front of his horse. In the later Great War and American Empire series, that little girl is one of the primary viewpoint characters.
  • Several Havenite characters in the Honor Harrington series, not least Thomas Theisman. If you read the more recent books first and only came back to the start later, you'd be surprised to see how small fry he was in his first appearance back in the second book.
  • Nightcloud was a minor character in The New prophecy, the second Warrior Cats arc. In the third arc, she becomes Crowfeather's mate and is one of the most important WindClan characters.
  • Some theatrical and film adaptations of A Christmas Carol do this with minor or unnamed characters, such as Mrs. Dilber in the 1951 film, and the third Cratchit daughter (given the name Kathy) in the 1970 musical film. Scrooge's ex-fiancee Belle (or whatever she is renamed) usually gets a larger part in the Christmas Past sequence, in at least one version she is even shown in the present, and the 1970 film made her one of Fezziwig's daughters. The 1951 film also includes a heartwrenching scene of Fan's Death by Childbirth. Tiny Tim usually also gets more screen/stage time.
  • Fred and Cathy from The Cornersville Trace Mythos make their first appearances in I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It as side characters, but are vital to the plot in Extraordinary*
  • Jeeves and Wooster:
    • Jeeves himself. In "Extricating Young Gussie", the first story featuring Bertie, Jeeves was merely mentioned in passing a few times as Bertie's valet. According to Word of God, he'd never been intended for a larger role than that, and only became the character we know today in the second story, "Leave It to Jeeves" (later edited and republished as "The Artistic Career of Corky").
    • Sir Roderick Glossop's wife, Lady Delia Glossop, in the TV series (played by Jane Downs). In the original stories she is an extra, to the point where in Thank You, Jeeves she's said to have died two years ago, with little fuss made over the fact. In the series she never dies, and she's a much more active character who appears almost every time her husband does and has as many lines.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek
    • The pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation features an unnamed, curly-haired conn officer played by Colm Meaney. That character would reappear on a regular basis in subsequent episodes as a gold-shirted (the 24th-century equivalent of Red Shirt) transporter operator. That operator eventually got a name and rank, Chief Miles O'Brien, and ended up becoming a semi-regular character with a wife and family who interacted regularly with the main cast. When it came time to create a Spin-Off of TNG, O'Brien went even further to become a main character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Miles O'Brien is the embodiment of a character working up from the Redshirt Army to donning fullblown Plot Armor.
    • Damar from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ascends from the role of basically a henchman to that of national hero for Cardassia in the final episode.
      • The main difference between O'Brien and Damar is that (at least according to Word of God) Damar was always intended to play a major role in the Dominion War, while O'Brien was only a nameless extra in the TNG pilot (Meaney got the part as a sort of consolation prize; he was runner-up in another role).
    • Many bit characters from the Star Trek shows have become major players in the tie-in novels, even starring in some of the book-only spinoff series. Star Trek: New Frontier made regulars out of one- or two-shot Next Generation characters Shelby, Selar, and Lefler. Starfleet Corps of Engineers features guest engineers like Sonya Gomez, Duffy, and Stevens. A major character in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch novels (Vedek Yevir) is based on an extra who appeared in one scene and was only seen from behind. Star Trek: Ex Machina, a sequel to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, bases most of its supporting crew characters on faces (and alien masks) in the crowd from a crew-assembly scene in that film. Meanwhile, Agents Lucsly and Dulmur of the Department of Temporal Investigations, who were minor joke characters with less than four minutes of screen time in one episode of Deep Space Nine, have been the focus of several works of short fiction, culminating in an entire novel about the DTI.
    • An averted example is Star Trek: Voyager's Tom Paris, who was originally supposed to be the same character as Nick Locarno, a one-off character from Next Generation. Because Locarno never repents for his actions in his only episode, and because the producers would have to pay royalties to the episode writer, the character was given a new name and background (one which painted him more as The Atoner than the remorseless Locarno), but kept the same actor and basic personality. Tom's father's picture of Tom as a cadet is even a still of Locarno taken from that episode.
    • Painfully averted in Star Trek: Voyager by Lt. "Extra-Man" Ayala. Ayala appears in 120 episodes out of 167, in all seven seasons. He speaks in exactly four of those episodes, and is only credited twice, never with a name. The mere act of establishing a name for the actor took some detective work. He's achieved a certain amount of Memetic Badass status among the fandom for simply managing to surviving all seven seasons.
    • The Gorn are a whole race' of these - towering, reptilian aliens who were the primary focus of the Original Series episode 'The Arena', and had brief cameos in an episode each of the Animated Series and Enterprise. Despite these obscure beginnings, they crop up astonishingly frequently in games and other supplementary material, even becoming a playable race in Star Trek Starfleet Command and Star Trek Online.
    • Arguably, most of what we now consider the "Core Cast" of Star Trek TOS. The show was about Spock and Kirk, mostly Kirk, with everyone else as recurring minor characters. McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov and Scotty, again, arguably, didn't become major characters until the movies.
  • Rodney McKay, who after a couple one-shot appearances on Stargate SG-1, became one of the main characters in Stargate Atlantis.
    • McKay is kind of a backwards case. The original Casting Call asked for someone with similar qualities to the McKay character. David Hewlett auditioned and nailed the part, at which point the producers just turned the character into McKay since it didn't make much sense for David Hewlett to be playing a similar but distinct character.
    • Also, Dr. Carson Beckett was originally only written into a few episodes throughout season 1, but he was such a big hit that the writers put him in several more. In later seasons, he's promoted to one of the main characters.
    • Major Lorne appeared in a single episode of SG-1. Starting from season 2 of Atlantis he became their Colonel Makepeace.
    • Walter aka (Engaging Chevrons Guy). Something odd as he never really gets a main character spot. He does get a big nod in the end of the 200th episode. However in the fandom, Walter (and his actor) have been used as stars in promos and skits. A promo for the aforementioned 200th episode has him going to ask his castmates, producers, writers and directors for his part on the special, only to realize none of them recognize him despite him having been on the show since the pilot.
    • Vala in Stargate SG 1, who progressed from single-episode guest star in Season 8, to recurring guest in Season 9, to full-time cast member in Season 10.
  • Parodied in a Ferrell-era sketch on Saturday Night Live with NBC making an adaptation of the New Testament. As they don't have time for a script, they just ad-lib (something that Will Ferrell, playing Jesus, doesn't feel comfortable doing). When the actors can't decide how their characters should know each other, they just say they have a mutual friend named Barry. By the end of the sketch, Barry gets an "actor" (one of the boom-mike guys), Jesus betrays Barry, and (the film now taking place in a college dorm) Barry kills the Devil.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Harmony was originally one of Cordelia's cronies who was in the second half of the pilot and got bitten by a vampire at the end of Season 3. She shows up again in Season 4 as Spike's vampire girlfriend. She later showed up in the Buffy spin-off, Angel, eventually promoted to main character. Actress Mercedes McNabb is the only actor in the Buffy franchise to go from extra to recurring cast member to regular.
    • She also holds the distinction of being one the only character (and actress) to be part of the Buffyverse for its entire television run, appearing in both the original Buffy pilot episode (the unaired one, the one used to originally pitch the concept to the network, not the reshot and expanded two-parter that was eventually broadcast) and the final episode of Angel. While Angel himself was in both Buffy's first broadcast episode and the Angel series finale, he wasn't in the pre-revised pilot.
    • Faith could fit there as well not only having avoided death by suicide due to fans' positive response to the character but also turned out to play a major role in the season 3 arc and recurring character in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Ironically, she went from being a short lived Slayer to technically the longest living "official" Slayer (from the main traditional Slayer's line).
    • Danny Strong was credited as an unnamed extra on "Buffy" for quite some time before even "obtaining" the name "Jonathan".
  • Gonzo first appeared in the Jim Henson and Ed Sullivan Christmas Special The Great Santa Claus switch in a small role as a creature living in the villain's cigar box named Snarl. The puppet was repurposed for usage on The Muppet Show and the rest is history.
    • Ratzo Rizzo was also a minor character originally, going on to fame and fortune as Gonzo's sidekick. And Ms. Piggy, as originally conceived, was meant to be a bit player.
    • Sesame Street's Elmo was originally a nameless background character, but after Kevin Clash took over the role, he became a more regular character, and eventually received a recurring 15-20 minute sketch.
  • The eponymous family on Family Matters was that of Harriette Winslow, a minor character from Perfect Strangers.
  • Thanks to The Next Iron Chef, Michael Symon, initially a challenger on Iron Chef America , ascended to a position of Iron Chef. In season two, Jose Garces, who had defeated Iron Chef Bobby Flay, joined him.
  • By the finale of Battlestar Galactica, it seems half of the surviving cast were initially one-off characters. Helo, Racetrack, Hotdog, Ishay, Hoshi, Seelix, and Anders were initially background or minimally recurring characters, but end up with fairly major roles.
  • In Doctor Who, the character of Wilfred Mott was initially a brief 2-minute cameo for Bernard Cribbins in the 2007 Christmas special. However, due to the death of the actor playing Donna's father, the character later returned as her grandfather in the 2008 series. His role continued to be increased to the extent that he was promoted to main companion status for the 2009 Christmas and New Year's specials, and caused the Doctor's regeneration. Not bad for what was intended as a Hey, It's That Guy! moment.
    • Rory Williams had a minor role as Amy's kind of boyfriend in "The Eleventh Hour". By "The Vampires of Venice" later that series, he became a full-ish companion, who was Promoted to Opening Titles from "A Christmas Carol".
    • From the classic series:
      • Jamie McCrimmon was supposed to be a one-off character for The Highlanders, but the team liked him so much that they re-filmed the ending of the serial to keep him. He ended up becoming the Second Doctor's longest running companion, appearing in all of his stories apart from The Power of the Daleks and The Three Doctors.
      • Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart from The Web of Fear was supposed to be a one-off character. Then they decided to bring him back for The Invasion and gave him a promotion, and he became one of the most important characters of the Third Doctor's era. The Brigadier would be a recurring member of the franchise for forty years, exceeding even Sarah Jane Smith's tenure as the longest-used Companion ever.
  • Toshiko of Torchwood was seen ever-so-briefly in series one of the new Doctor Who first. As an extra, she was a doctor. As a full time Torchwood character, she was explained to have been impersonating a doctor because the actual doctor (fellow Torchwood member Owen Harper) had been too hung over to work.
  • An extreme example of this is Mrs Miggins from Blackadder. In the second series she was an unseen character mentioned two or three times as a throwaway joke. She became a regular character in the third series.
  • Red Dwarf has various examples. Kryten was a one-episode character who wouldn't have been included originally as one of the writers wanted to avoid robotic characters. He returned in Series III as a main character (although played by a different actor).
  • Glee seems to live off of this, especially in the second season.
    • We'll start with Brittany, though technically she ascended in the first season. Heather Morris was a back-up dancer for Beyonce's "Single Ladies" live performances and was initially hired to teach the choreography to the cast. They gave her the role, intended to be just a recurring background dancer, without even an acting audition. It turned out that she had great comic timing, and after a gradual increase in lines over season one, she was promoted to the regular cast by season two, and is also a major player in one of its subplots. And the Fandom Rejoiced rejoiced.
    • Similar to Britanny, Santana was little more than a background character in the first few episodes only getting a few lines here and there but eventually started getting more and more focus, probably due both to actress Naya Rivera's ability to sell the part of bitch real well and her chemistry with Heather Morris making them a great comedic duo.
    • Mike Chang went from a minor character in season one to getting more and more focus in season 2. His actor Harry Shrum will promoted to main cast member in season 3.
    • Dave Karofsky. He was a two dimensional, stereotypical, homophobic highschool bully but has now been promoted to having his own sub-storyline.
    • Lauren Zizes was a randomly-appearing homely looking girl who most fans and characters didn't bat an eye at. Suddenly, halfway through the second season, she became an Eleventh-Hour Ranger, Puck's new love interest, and an extreme Badass in one fell swoop.
  • In The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries novels, the character of Mary Ann originally named Callisto pretty much just showed up at a party, made a few comments and was never seen again. On True Blood, the show based on the books, she was the Big Bad of season two.
    • Similarly, Lafayette Reynolds has been a pretty prominent supporting character since the show began, but appeared only briefly in book one before being killed off at the beginning of book two.
    • Tara, Lafayette's cousin, wasn't even mentioned in the first novel, but she is Sookie's best friend through the whole series.
  • Paul from Cheers. But not as much as Frasier, who went from just another bar patron to a main character, to the star of his own Spin-Off.
    • Actually, Frasier was a guest star who was only intended to be a Romantic False Lead who would vanish after one season. He was so popular, he stayed for nine seasons on Cheers and did another eleven on Frasier.
  • Becker in Primeval. Originally just a named redshirt. Now a main character with, apparently, his own love interest.
  • Gunther in Friends. He was originally an extra appearing in the background of a few Central Perk scenes. The show's executives decided to give him a named role in Season 2 because he was the only extra who actually knew how to work the coffee machine. He became a bigger regular after Season 3, when his character was given a hopeless crush on Rachel as a Running Gag that would continue for the rest of the series.
  • Benjamin Linus from Lost was only supposed to appear in three episodes in season two, but the writers liked him so much that they rewrote him to become a major character in the series.
    • The exact same thing happened to Desmond, a three-episode guest star in season two who became an important regular in the subsequent four seasons.
    • The writers tried to create an illusion of Ascended Extra for Nikki and Paolo by pretending that they were "there the whole time, but weren't being focused on" when they were introduced in season three.
  • The Zyu2 monsters for the first and second seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are kind of this trope. The Super Sentai footage was exhausted by "Doomsday," so Saban Entertainment contacted Toei to produce more action footage to keep the season/series going, and the Zyu2 episodes were shot with monsters and battle footage exclusively for the US series. Starting with Goo Fish and finishing with Turban Shell, each of them started as a Monster of the Week like any other. Since they were US-only monsters, Saban owned the costumes exclusively without having to rent them. As Saban had to fill out the 50-episode second season, bringing back hordes of old monsters became a fairly regular occurrence as the season wore on, and most (if not all) of those monsters would be from the Zyu2 crowd. Some even showed up for the grand season 6 finale at the end of Power Rangers in Space, and even the monster hell scenes from the final arc of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, (season eight.) Of course, these scenes contained many monsters from across franchise history, American-original and Japanese-original.
    • Season two had Zedd summon some past monsters to protect the Rock of Time... immediately followed by past monsters being involved in the wedding of Rita and Zedd. Some of them were the same ones. This meant we had one-shot monsters from ages past returning for four episodes in a row. Dramole in particular totals six appearances in which he actually does something (not crowd filler like in Countdown.) Undoubtedly a record for most Toku (the Ultra Series has some iconic recurring monsters too.)
  • The British TV Show Skins has a great example in Effy, who was the little sister of her main character Tony for series 1 + 2, but appeared in only a few episodes and never spoke. When the new cast was picked for series 3+4, Effy was promoted to a full character and became the main protagonist. Effy remains the only character to be involved in more than three series of skins. (Pandora briefly appears in Series 2, before being promoted to full cast in 3)
  • Zack Allen of Babylon 5 didn't even rate a name in his first several appearances, being just another faceless security guard. By Season 4, he had been promoted to the opening credits.
  • Archie Kennedy, as well as Styles and Matthews, from the Horatio Hornblower mini-series. The latter two characters were mentioned in the first book briefly, but given no real importance, and in the series they're promoted to Those Two Guys and prominent lower-deck characters. Archie is somewhere between this and Composite Character, as he is mentioned by last name in the first book, but his personality is made up of fragments of other minor characters from the books. Still, he goes from being a midshipman who appears in one scene to being the title character's best friend—a definite step up.
  • Richardson in Deadwood. The actor was hired as an extra and eventually placed as Farnum's cook. The writers gave him a few incidental lines and liked the results, so he was expanded to a fully-fledged supporting character.
  • On Boy Meets World, Angela first appears in season 5 episode 2 as a student in Feeney's class who has one line of dialogue, and then in season 5 episode 7 she has a much larger role as Shawn's girlfriend and from there she becomes a recurring character and then a main character.
  • The Wire did this for several characters who initially appeared as background characters. Kenard is seen in a quick season-three scene playing with two other kids before he gains more screentime in the fourth and fifth seasons. Detective Colicchio was initially an unnamed background character in Major Colvin's unit before gaining an abrasive personality and more dialogue. Jeff Price (a court reporter for the Baltimore Sun) appears in one season three sequence (a press conference) asking a question, then becomes a full-fledged supporting character in the fifth and final season.
  • Ronnie Gardocki from The Shield. The character was initially treated as a glorified extra, and the only reason why actor David Rees Snell took the part was because creator Shawn Ryan needed someone to fill out the team. You could count the number of lines Ronnie had in the first season on one hand. Yet, as the seasons continue, Gardocki becomes more and more central to the power struggle between Vic and Shane, and becomes a fully-developed main character in his own right.
  • Dr Vincent Strudwick from 3rd Rock from the Sun became Dick's Sitcom Arch Nemesis in the later seasons.
  • Both Al and Heidi on Home Improvement. Al was originally a temporary character because the producers were waiting out for another actor to play Tim's assistant on Tool Time, but that didn't go through and they made Al a permanent character. Heidi's role on Tool Time was expanded from just introducing Tim and Al and helping bring out tools to having a part in the projects on the show, and she was given more screentime outside of Tool Time which included a few storylines about her personal life.
  • Community has quite a few example of one time characters being brought back for later episodes. Leonard is a pretty prominent example.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Pearl Forrester was initially a very minor character who showed up occasionally for some jokes at her long-suffering son Clayton's expense. When Frank left the show before the abbreviated seventh season, Pearl moved into Deep 13 permanently, though she was still used mainly for mother jokes and wasn't really a villain. Then the show was resurrected sans Clayton and Pearl became main antagonist for the remaining three-year run.
  • Sir Leon from Merlin was originally just an extra who was chosen to speak on behalf of the Redshirt Army of Camelot knights. He proved so popular with both the cast and the audience that the writers brought him back after he was seemingly killed off, and upgraded him to Arthur's second-in-command.
  • Kari Byron made her first on-camera appearance in a pilot episode of MythBusters, for the vacuum toilet myth. (She had her rear end scanned.) She reappeared, alongside fellow Build Team members Scottie Chapman and Tory Belleci, at the beginning of the second season.

Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]


Radio[edit | hide]

  • The Hamish and Andy show has Cackling Jack, Who allegedly started out on work experience is now pretty much the third member of the comedy duo. though there are lile several behind the sense guys who are more important then him, he now probibly appears on mike more then any one else other then Hamish and Andy.
  • The Shadow started out as the narrator of Detective Story Hour. When audiences proved more interested in the Shadow than the stories, writer Walter Gibson was commissioned to write about him. A full radio show started shortly thereafter, and a legend was born.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Toku from Legend of the Five Rings. A simple peasant farmer who became a ronin samurai, he was originally a one-shot character, but he was so loved by the fans of the card game that he was worked in as a seminal part to the overarching story, including having a Clan founded for him (the Monkey) and eventually dying in a Heroic Sacrifice...then serving in the Army of the Dead and being named a minor Fortune (deity) by the Emperor.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the Formorians were formerly just a very ugly type of giant that rarely got used. But with the creation of the default Points of Light setting for 4th Edition, they are now the major villain race of an entire plane (Specifically, the Feywild).
  • In A Touch Of Evil, Lucy Hanbrook and the Scarlett Shadow were originally available as Allies. The Hero Pack One expansion made them into fully playable characters.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Harald Deathwolf was simply one of the 12 Wolf Lords of the Space Wolves with no backstory. Then the Codex author thought the generic Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf model looked too cool not to have its own backstory, and so wrote the full Saga of Harald Deathwolf in White Dwarf. The model even comes with a moulded shoulder pad allowing you to represent him specifically, and he was one of two Wolf Lords to get a transfer sheet for their Great Company. (Ragnar Blackmane, an actual special character didn't) Bear in mind, he's not even an official named character.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Several minor characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth seem to barely qualify to have names until very late into the play.
    • Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare's source, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, he makes one appearance, and only gets mentioned at all because he happens to be sitting next to Juliet at the feast. Shakespeare makes him Romeo's best friend, the only person who can maintain connections with both the Capulets and the Montegues, a Trickster and a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Will Parker is one half of the Beta Couple in the musical Oklahoma!. He wasn't really a character in Green Grow The Lilacs (the straight play Oklahoma! was derived from), which mentioned him once.
  • Tom Stoppard did this in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The two most minor characters in Hamlet become the focus of the whole story, and Hamlet becomes just a bit part.
  • Neil Simon's first play, Come Blow Your Horn, briefly mentions an offstage character named Felix Ungar. Felix, of course, later became half of the eponymous duo in Simon's The Odd Couple and its film and TV adaptations.
  • In the stage musical of Beauty and the Beast, the feather duster and the wardrobe are given bigger roles, more developed personalities, and names, Babette and Madame de la Grande Bouche, respectively.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • The Toa Inika from Bionicle started out as mere Matoran who were barely mentioned (if at all) in the Chronicles series of books. In Legends, however, they become the central heroes for the first two thirds of the Mask of Life story arc.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The excellent Fan Remake of King's Quest II does this with several NPCs. Perhaps the best is Valanice, who was rewritten from her original flat, MacGuffin-esque Damsel in Distress portrayal to a character more in line with what's seen in her later appearances in the series, who—although a prisoner—is hardly a helpless shrinking violet. Similarily, the vampire (originally Dracula; Caldaur in the remake) is turned into a sympathic character with personality, depth and motives, who will end up aiding the hero if you help him in return. Seeing as his original role was to hang out in his castle until the hero showed up to kill him for no apparent reason (other than needing the key he had), this was a definite improvement.
    • In the original versions of the series, Rosella was given her own adventure to star in after appearing briefly in the previous game as the Damsel in Distress, and later on she co-starred alongside Valanice as the heroes of King's Quest VII. Princess Cassima, meanwhile, was introduced near the end of King's Quest V and was later ascended to being a major character in King's Quest VI.
  • He was The Dragon in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, but the Darkhorse on the rise Fawful was, sadly, Demoted to Extra in the second game...and then became the Big Bad in the third.
  • Waluigi is a mild example. Originally showing up in Mario Tennis as a fill in for Wario's partner and Luigi's rival, Waluigi's shown up in virtually every spinoff since then, and is the only regular character that hasn't ever been in a platformer to do so. He's either loved for being insane or loathed as a auxiliary character.
  • The hero's main Love Interest Luna from Lunar: The Silver Star. In the original game for the Sega CD, she fought with the protagonist as the White Magician Girl (with a Magic Music power) for the first dungeon and returns home, not appearing again until the Big Bad kidnaps her and it's revealed that she is a routine human incarnation of the world's goddess and has to be saved. In the game's subsqent remakes, starting with the one on the Sega Saturn, she stays with the group until the mentioned kidnapping, but it doesn't wholly matter because the player gets three far more useful spell casters along the way, and the main character can also obtain powerful magic later in the game.
  • World of Warcraft does this constantly. Literally every pre-WoW bit of Warcraft material had a lot of lore that may or may not have appeared on screen, and may have had little if any effect on the plot, that end up becoming major characters in a later game or when Blizzard needs material for an expansion pack or raid dungeon. In the most extreme example, Sargeras went from a generic bit-part monster to THE Big Bad of the entire universe (albeit a Big Bad who's long dead, as such. Word of God says his spirit is scattered across the Twisting Nether in limbo, but not gone for good).
    • This has also happened in response to the players falling in love with random NPCs. For example, Hemet Nesingwary was once a minor quest-giver put in as a Shout-Out to Ernest Hemingway. Players either liked or hated him so much that in the first expansion he was moved to Outland and given more quests, and in the second there is an entire faction devoted to fighting him, a third of an area taken over by his crazed former compatriots, as well as yet another group of quests from Nesingwary's hunting party.
    • High Overlord Saurfang, pre-expansion, served no purpose in the game or the story except to put Nefarian's severed head on a stick and look like a total Badass. He's since become one of the most prominent NPCs in the game. Otherwise, he'll Cleave everyone.
    • And the Alliance equivalent of Saurfang, Bolvar Fordragon, started out as a stand-in for the disappeared King Varian Wrynn and earned some major cool points for fighting off Onyxia's entire elite guard. When Varian came back, Bolvar played a major role in the Dragonblight campaign, pulled a Big Damn Heroes for you, and died during the Forsaken betrayal at the Wrath Gate.
      • You want Ascended Extra? Bolvar is the new Lich King. That's an Ascended Extra.
  • Similarly in Star Trek Online, numerous minor characters are revisited, most of whom were mere babies when they were shown on screen. Notable examples include Leonard James Akaar (mentioned above in Television) and Miral Paris, who was born in the last episode of Star Trek: Voyager, and Thomas Riker, Will Riker's transporter double whom the writers of Deep Space Nine cruelly abandoned in spite of fan outcry. There are villainous examples as well; Gul Dukat's half-Bajoran daughter appears, and one of the more enjoyable boss fights is against Gul Madred, the one who tortured Captain Picard.
  • Because of the nature of Suikoden games all being in the same world, there's usually recurring characters. A number of them are Ascended Extras, frequently as a result of She's All Grown Up. Notable examples are Apple, Futch, Luc, Sasarai, Georg, Lilly, Clive etc. Resulted in a lot of Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • Once upon a time, there was a game called Triangle Heart 3 ~sweet songs forever~. This game had a Token Mini-Moe who had little role to the plot aside from being the adorable little sister of the main character Kyouya. This little sister would later get a mini-scenario of her own in the game's fandisc where she becomes a Magical Girl, and said mini-scenario would eventually get turned into a full-fledged anime. The name of the little sister and her show? Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, who ascended so much, she displaced the entire series she originated from.
  • In Sam And Max Hit The Road, the protagonists may optionally enter the convenience store near their office (which has no bearing on the plot or any puzzles) and save its owner, Bosco, from an armed robber. The interior of the store is never seen and Bosco is never seen nor heard. When the sequel was canceled and Telltale Games was formed as a result, due to his not-legally-a-character status, Bosco was the only character from Hit the Road (besides an appearance of the Human Enigma on a poster, due to an appearance, also on a poster, in the original Sam and Max Freelance Police comic book series) who could legally feature in their new episodic Sam and Max Freelance Police series. Indeed, he became a major recurring character, with appearances in all but one episode in the first two seasons and a backstory that is revealed and resolved in Season 2.
  • While he may seem like one of many other characters the player can pick to go with them in Maniac Mansion, Bernard arguably fits this trope, becoming the hero of Day of the Tentacle, which suggests that the canonical trio includes him.
  • In the first Mega Man Star Force, Damion Wolfe and his FM-ian, Wolf, are just Bonus Bosses you can challenge anytime you want. In the third game they were promoted to secondary characters, helping our heroes in an occasion or two. In the anime he was also promoted, but to a "villain" (well, he softens up later).
    • Mega Man Battle Network has Tory Froid, who is nothing more than a generic, nameless NPC but was upgraded to one of Lan's friends for Mega Man NT Warrior and given a unique design. IceMan is his Navi in the anime but is his father's Navi in the game.
    • Bass in the first Battle Network was just a Bonus Boss, but became one of the villains in the two next sequels. Battle Network 4 and beyond then turned him into an extra again, but at least he gets dialogue. He was important in the anime and manga adaptations, too.
  • The weapon salesmen from the first Spectrobes game gets redesigned in the second with his own sprite, cutscene, and name. It's Dave, of all things.
  • Despite immense unpopularity in America, Tingle from Zelda saw his role increase consistently from his original debut in Majora's Mask to the point he's already the star of two games with a third one on the way. But unless you live in Europe or Japan, don't count on ever playing them without importing.
    • The Skull Kid in Ocarina of Time gives you a heart piece and is part of a very minor sidequest. In Majoras Mask, he jumpstarts the plot and is set up (somewhat incorrectly) as the Big Bad. He also becomes an integral part of the Sacred Woods subquest in Twilight Princess'.
    • A more notible example would be the Happy Mask Salesman, who, like the Skull Kid, was only part of a minor subquest in Ocarina of Time. He became an unlikely major, and very popular character in Majoras Mask.
  • Charizard, Squirtle, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Pit in the Super Smash Bros. series. They first appeared as trophies in Melee, then all became playable in Brawl.
  • The Capcom vs. Whatever series ascended many minor characters from both Capcom and the rival companies:
  • The Unreal universe has a lot of this. First are Malcolm, Brock and Lauren, who were simple skins a player could choose on the first Unreal Tournament. Then, Unreal Tournament 2003 showed that Malcolm was the winner of the Tournament, with Brock and Lauren as part of his team. Since that moment, Malcolm is considered the face of the Unreal series. Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Championship 2 The Liandri Conflict also ascended Gorge and Arclite, (and later, many others, through a patch) from the same game.
  • After only one showing in one mission set, for an add-on to Wing Commander II, Jason "Bear" Bondarevski goes on to become a major character in the non-Novelization Wing Commander novels, as do, to a lesser extent, several minor characters seen elsewhere in the games, like Janet "Sparks" McCullough and Kevin Tolwyn.
  • The first Half-Life has about three "skins" for all of the scientist models, all of whom exist solely to provide exposition, open certain doors and/or die horribly and thereby show the player how not to die horribly. Two of these skins were later used as the basis for two of the main characters of Half-Life 2, which has led to interesting arguments about which of the scientists is the "real" one (Eli is explicitly stated to be the first one to talk to Gordon after the Resonance Cascade; Kliener is generally considered to be the only scientist seen wielding a weapon, appearing at the end of the "Lambda Core" level). Barney, a character similarly based on model skins, this time of the security guards (of which there was only one originally) is more of a Mauve Shirt however.
  • In [[Dark Fall: The Journal]], Nigel is basically someone you have to rescue. In the spinoff game, The Lost Crown, he is the main character.
  • Before the final boss of The King of Fighters '94, a blonde woman escorts your team to Rugal's chamber. After a number of victories in KOF '95, a brunette woman informs the unseen Rugal of your team's progress. These two otherwise unremarkable secretaries would go on to become playable characters in KOF '96 under the names Mature and Vice, complete with relevance to the Orochi storyline. And even though they were both killed at the end of the game, they still proved popular enough to return in full-cast compilation games and intercompany crossovers, and may even be rejoining the canon cast in recent games.
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years loved this trope—numerous party members were minor characters in the original game, and one such party member was so minor as to be an NPC that only appeared in the ending. Meanwhile, The Dragon ascended from being a one-of enemy in a short sidequest exclusive to the original game's Gameboy Advance release.
  • Tseng of Final Fantasy VII. In the original game, he is the leader of the Turks, but you never fought him, and he only appears for a short while. Come Crisis Core, he becomes Zack's Turk partner, and could fight alongside him in a DMW sequence.
  • While he's not technically a person per se, the Blue Badger in Ace Attorney. He goes from a little plush toy in the first game, to the police mascot and key plot device in the second game, and by Ace Attorney Investigations he's got an entire family and a stage show as well as being the Gatewaterland Mascot.
    • Also, Gregory Edgeworth. Besides being the deceased father of one of the main characters, and the victim in the DL-6 Incident, he doesn't get much fame...that is, until you play a case as him in Ace Attorney Investigations 2.
  • Johnny Sasaski from the Metal Gear Solid series.
    • Revolver Ocelot, who is introduced in the first game as Liquid's underling—he is the least memorable boss in the game, and has little impact on the plot. By Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, he has become the ultimate Big Bad of the series, and he is the only character to appear in all four games.
  • In the Total War series, when an army goes into a difficult battle without a general to lead it, and comes out victorious, the army's captain (up to that point a non-entity) can ascend to General status and become a valued member of your royal family (and a powerful unit in his own right).
  • In the Ys series, Dogi the Wallcrusher was at first a minor character who busts Adol out of jail at one point in the first game and disappears until the end of the second game. However, his bravado and infamous wallcrushing skill instantly turned him into a fan favorite and Dogi became the constant companion of Adol who follows Adol in his later adventures, always busting wall at one point to save Adol in each game. Most recently in Ys Seven, he is a playable character.
  • In Pokemon Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver, Caitlin just sat in a throne in the Battle Castle, never even battling you. In Pokémon Black and White, she's the third member of the Elite Four!
  • Deekin ascended to party member near the end of Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide, and played a significant part in Hordes of the Underdark as well.
  • Isabela and Merril in Dragon Age II. In Dragon Age, the former was a character who taught a Rogue specialization while the latter was a Guest Star Party Member for the Dalish Warden's prologue. In the sequel, they are both party members and both are love interests.
    • Also Anders to a lesser degree, he was a party member in Awakening as well, but his role was greatly expanded on and his character was fleshed out much more in Dragon Age 2.
    • The entire Qunari race. We saw two or three in Origins and heard a little about their culture, in Dragon Age 2 the plot of a third of the game centers around them.
  • Animated Adaptations of video game franchises seem to be fond of expanding bit players. This was especially common in earlier shows due to the usually basic (or near non-existent) storyline and character involvement in the original material, and thus writers relying on creating extra depths for what cast it has (or in some cases original additional characters):
    • The SatAm Sonic the Hedgehog animated series was intended to develop the initial games "small animal" cast (only generic animals that jumped out of badnik enemies in the game itself) into a team of heroes assisting Sonic. Alterations were made to the core cast in the final revision, however the show still used a redesigned Sally Acorn (aka. Ricky Squirrel in the east) who was arguably the most prominant protagonist other than Sonic himself.
    • Additionally the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog series expanded some of the badnik enemies from the original games and converted them into recurring henchmen for Dr Robotnik. Scratch (based largely on Clucker from Sonic 2), Grounder and Coconuts frequently appeared as comic relief in the show.
      • This position was reversed around with the promotional Sega Genesis title Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, that not only includes said recurring characters as opponents, but uses numerous original badnik characters from the show, the large majority of them background characters from the pilot episode that weren't even given a name or speaking role in the show itself.
    • Peter Puppy of Earthworm Jim served as a minor assistant (or hindrance) in the original games. In the animated series he is promoted to Jim's Kid Sidekick and Heterosexual Life Partner. Earthworm Jim 3D uses concepts and character traits from the show, and thus Peter has a similar expanded role, acting as a tutorial character.
  • Rebecca Chambers, an extra in the original Resident Evil, became the main character of the prequel, Resident Evil Zero. Unfortunately, she suffered from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome afterwards.
    • And then there's Ada Wong, whose offscreen role in the first game was simply serving as a three-letter name in a memo that provided the solution to a puzzle (a scientist's note mentions that his girlfriend's name is the password). Resident Evil 2 expanded on that bit of trivia to introduce her in Leon's storyline as an important supporting character with a Dark and Troubled Past, and then Resident Evil 4 elevated her all the way up to a full-fledged Dark Action Girl and Leon's Dating Catwoman adversary.
  • Kytes and Filo were named, recurring NPCs of little importance in Final Fantasy XII become fully playable characters in Revenant Wings. Likewise, Tomaj (another named but unimportant NPC that shows up the original game's tutorial) is promoted to supporting character, and Ba'Gamnan becomes a Guest Star Party Member and recurring Quirky Miniboss. Heck, even Vaan goes from Supporting Protagonist to Main Character.
  • Jiub, a prisoner in Morrowind, apparently became a Saint after droving the Cliffracers out from Morrowind. This takes place off-screen, however, and is only mentioned during conversations between NPCs.
  • Adeleine in the Kirby games may count, depending on if she is supposed to be the same character as Ado or not. Ado was introduced in Kirby's Dreamland 3 as a simple boss character, and Adeleine was one of the main characters in Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards.
    • Bandana Dee from Kirby Super Star was an extremely minor character, appearing only in the Megaton Punch minigame. In Super Star Ultra, he was given a speaking role and a boss fight in the Revenge of the King arc, and he's playable in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
    • Gooey from Kirby's Dream Land 2 was originally a simple health restoring item that sometimes showed up instead of an animal friend, but in Dream Land 3 he was promoted to Kirby's partner in co-op mode (or an optional computer-controlled ally in single-player).
  • Rick in the Harvest Moon series. In Harvest Moon 64, he was just another shopkeeper. In the PS 1 Back to Nature titles, however, he was promoted to being a rival slash Love Interest, and has retained this position for the rest of the series.
  • Thanks the the experience-based promotion system that Battle for Wesnoth uses and the ability to recall units from previous battles onto the current map, any unit with multiple promotion tiers can go through this in the campaigns, going from "just another generic recruit" to a strong, powerful, and pivotal member of your army.
  • Sheogorath in The Elder Scrolls series had been nothing more than an interested observer who occasionally handed out Joke Items or riddles. Shivering Isles gave him a larger role and presence than all other Daedra Princes combined.
    • In fact, this applies to all Daedric lords who've gotten larger roles after Daggerfall. Sheogorath (the only Daedric lord who played a part in the main story of Daggerfall, even if it was limited to showing up in the final dungeon for no readily apparent reason and handing out commentary and riddles) got, as mentioned above, an entire expansion pack centred around him and his Realm, Azura played a key role in Morrowind's main story, Hircine turns out to be behind the Bloodmoon in the Bloodmoon expansion, Oblivion's main story was closely connected to Mehrunes Dagon, and now Molag Bal has been pinned as the Big Bad in The Elder Scrolls Online.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Amy Rose was introduced as a Damsel in Distress in Sonic the Hedgehog CD and then got a few appearances in racing games. After Sonic Adventure, she became a recurring support character (even playable in some games, like Adventure and the Sonic Advance series).
  • Rudy Beagle, a forklift in the Pajama Sam series, only existed in the second game to get Sam into World Wide Weather. In the spinoff game Pajama Sam's Lost & Found, he was an actual playable character, albeit getting his name changed to Mr. Forklift.
  • The first Digimon Battle Spirit featured Cherubimon as a relatively minor character, the seldom-seen evolved form of a Secret Character. For the sequel, he became the final boss, in an attempt to vaguely follow the storyline of the anime series which the sequel accompanied.
  • Cookie Masterson of You Don't Know Jack was first the sign in host for the first 3 games (Yes Sports did come before volume 2) then finally gets in the limelight starting in Movies.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Clayface appeared as a cameo shuffling between using three other characters' models, totally unimportant to the story, while Ra's al Ghul showed up as a tagged corpse. In the sequel, Clayface is the Final Boss while Ra's al Ghul is one of three Big Bads.
  • Walter Sullivan, a name mentioned in a newspaper in Silent Hill 2, ascended to be the Big Bad of Silent Hill 4.
  • Mass Effect 2's EDI was never precisely an extra, being your ever-present Spaceship Girl Voice with an Internet Connection, but nonetheless receives a major step up in 3, hijacking a Cerberus robot body and becoming a full squadmate.
  • Back in the first Samurai Warriors, there's one certain generic officer named Honda Tadakatsu who stood up in defense of Tokugawa Ieyasu during the battle of Mikatagahara, and Takeda Shingen refers him as one of Ieyasu's luxuries. Then Xtreme Legends get announced to have brand new 4 characters, two of them are Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Imagawa Yoshimoto who already got unique character model despite being NPC in the vanilla version, one of them is a brand new archer babe called Inahime, whose father is... Honda Tadakatsu, who is the last playable character and ascended so great he practically became SW's answer to Lu Bu.
  • Both The Witcher and its sequel enjoy using this trope. Side characters from the books, such as Triss and Zoltan, get upgraded to main characters in the games, with the former even becoming the protagonist's main Love Interest. Other characters who largely existed as names dropped in the text, like Iorveth, make actual appearances and get fully fleshed out.
  • Dr. Bombe and Kazuo Nakano never even fought in the original Kinnikuman manga. As a result, they are given more complete movesets in Kinnikuman: Muscle Fight. Dr. Bombe is a Deadly Doctor, while Nakano is a Joke Character.

Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • After being Demoted to Extra in the original version of Tsukihime, Satsuki Yumizuka (Sacchin to fans) has been confirmed to have regained her own route in the upcoming Tsukihime remake. Isn't it great, Sacchin?
    • While the remake appears to be in Development Hell, that hasn't stopped Satsuki from appearing as a playable character in the spinoff game Melty Blood.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • While an important character, Archer has little actual relevance to the Fate route that the anime is based off of. However, he's such a popular/interesting character that his importance and screen time are rather increased. They mostly drag in bits of information from the UBW path and fully animate the battle with Berserker, which was only alluded to in the game itself.
    • Sakura's rare and unobtrusive appearances in the first two arcs would not lead players to suspect she'd become the Love Interest and MacGuffin Girl of the final arc.
    • Yukika, Kaede and Kane, those three girls who only appear in a single scene of the Fate/stay night Visual Novel become recurring characters in the sequel Fate/hollow ataraxia.
  • Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai: Oodles and oodles of characters get their own standing drawings and voice actors/actresses in the sequel, such as the Ninja Maid contingent, assistant instructor Ru, and Gale and Gates, to name but a few. A handful also get the vaunted heroine treatment.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Kaitlyn of Precocious was referred to by Chrispy as the central character of another strip. That other strip (Copper Road) was eventually made.
  • In the sprite comic Ansem Retort, Red XIII was initially a member of the replacement cast while the main cast went missing. Thanks to some manipulation by Darth Maul, he became evil enough to fit in with the main cast. His ascension was complete when the rest of the cast picked him over Marluxia to come along on a trip to Hawaii.
    • And in the newest season, Marluxia is actually trying to reverse his demotion to extra. This is why he won't let Sora be taken hostage: he gets more screen time this way.
  • Lionk of Nintendo Acres started out as a one-off character working at the fancy restaurant in town, but the Authors liked him, and the jokes associated with him, so much that he's become a regular with his own problems and goals.
  • Dr. Schlock entered Sluggy Freelance as a one-off Chew Toy for Bun-bun's ire. His time-travel counterpart became involved in more and more major story arcs, until he got one of his own arc plus a major hand every other.
  • The Trolls in Homestuck. Andrew planned for them to have minor roles at best and never planned to introduce them all. That changed and they became the Ensemble Darkhorse to beat all others of the series, so much so that to many they are what the series is about.
    • MS. Paint anyone?
    • When Andrew was working on Problem Sleuth, he was accepting donations for non-canon fan commands in the secrets page. One of those commands was Problem Sleuth summoning The Midnight Crew. A few more commands later each member were given actual names. They then became a recurring canon element of Homestuck before later properly debuting as full-fledged characters in an intermission, and have gone on to sporadically appear since then. In fact, a direct Alternate Universe Expy of the Crew's leader is Homestuck's Big Bad.
    • After the Scratch, the kids' various ancestors step into the spotlight and join the main cast. Pretty good for faceless characters that Hussie didn't even originally know would all be ancestors.
    • Lil' Cal goes from being a creepy joke prop to being called "the most important character in Homestuck." It's impossible to tell how much Hussie's nature as a Teasing Creator is in play, but it's not a claim that can be just dismissed out of hand, given his role in the story.
    • Gamzee Makara was one of the least notable trolls... until he ran out of sopor pie and went Ax Crazy.
  • In Suppression, Kirk started out as a random mook that got punched in the face by Sally.
  • in Voodoo Walrus a couple of lowly union ninjas by the name of Phil and Dave go from being sources of amusing random conversation (usually regarding one's problematic ex-girlfriend)to Mac's personal right-hand men in the Infernum slaughter. Though the ex-girlfriend commentary still lingers.
    • NUXXOR! also went from being a random, expendable extra to a prominent villain later on.
  • In Wapsi Square, Tina was originally a minor, recurring character who ran the coffee shop the main characters frequented. However, once the strip's supernatural elements started to become more prominent, she developed a bizarre backstory and effectively became a main character in her own right.
  • In the comments on this page of 151 Hidden Depths.

"And Hitmonchan is definitely his own character now. Seems like just yesterday I only used him to fill out a bully spot with no future plans on what to do with him..."


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Doctor Tomorrowland, currently a member of the Disney-sponsored hero team Imagination in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, started out as part of the team's background extras. She rose to the rank of Ascended Extra, and then supporting character, and then to featured player, all because one of the players decided to start including her more nad more in the story. She later became a full-blown player character.
  • One example is Evangelion R, in which Maya Ibuki goes from a Bridge Bunny to a major character.
  • Dr. Robotnik (in his Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog incarnation) has gone on to become one of the most popular YouTube Poop characters, spawning hundreds of videos. This also happens with other characters from other sources, though Large Ham villains seem to get this the most.
    • I.M. Meen stars in about 4 minutes of cutscenes and is somehow nearly as big as the CD-I Zelda games, despite them having at least five times more cutscenes than I. M. Meen does.
    • Another notable Ascended Extra in the YouTube Poop universe is Morshu the Shopkeeper, who is one of the most used characters despite having only two lines in the entire game of Link: The Faces of Evil
  • Similarly, Drew Pickles from Rugrats has become the icon of the Barney Bunch, thanks to an Alternate Character Interpretation Played for Laughs (specifically, a closet semi-Invisible to Gaydar).
  • In Darwin's Soldiers, Dr. Zanasiu's assistant originally didn't even have a name, and was planned to get killed off rather quickly. He didn't, however, and after earning a name (Zachary) he soon became one of the most important characters in the series.
  • There is a Youtube user called WTLNetwork who makes YouTubePoops of Thomas the Tank Engine. A lot of his poops involve the one-shot character of the Fat Controller's Butler (originally a One-Scene Wonder) as a full-blown character and the Fat Controller's lover!
  • Starting to be a regular thing in the Whateley Universe. One of the campus jokes, the kid with the spirit of the squirrel, got a role in the Phase novels, and then her own story. Side character and campus nuisance Greasy is getting a Christmas special. Big Bad Don Sebastiano got a point-of-view story, and has gotten more screen time. And on and on...
  • Shinji Ryougi, of Yukari Is Free, originally started as a one-shot gag character to insult a Supporting Character, simply being addressed as Gang Member 122. By the next season, he had elevated to a full-blown member of the Main Cast and actually being referred to by name. The same has happened to other characters, most notably Rei Kakizaki, Kasumi Chiba, and Elesia Rumiko, all of whom started out as extras and were elevated to Supporting Roles and given unique subplots.
  • Happens all too often in Survival of the Fittest, when characters thought only to be minor characters manage to survive to the end thanks to sheer luck, or simply becoming well-noticed. Two examples:
    • Lulu Altaire was originally just a member of a four-person posse including Anna Kateridge, Amanda Redder, and (regrettably) Liam Black. Three in-game days later, the death of everyone else she'd met, Lulu becomes one of the final characters alive on the island. She ultimately places second overall in the season, after losing the final battle with J.R. Rizzolo.
    • Aston Bennett was originally only a supporting member of another rag-tag group of misfits. Then, after the group is unceremoniously split up when one of the members turns on the group and is accidentally killed, and the boy she may have had a crush on is murdered right in front of her, she steps up to the plate and sets off on a revenge quest against his killer.
  • In The Gungan Council, LiSah Mao and Deagan Hunt were introduced as NPC's but are now their own player characters.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law gives expanded roles to several Birdman villains, including Mentok, Reducto, Birdgirl (who started off brainwashed) and X. All had originally appeared in only one episode each.
  • Daria started as a minor background character on Beavis and Butthead. She's mostly just seen in the classroom and we never meet her family (though her surname Morgendorffer is established and surprisingly remembered by the writers, even if the spelling isn't). The episodes where she speaks can be counted on one hand and even then, no episode revolved around her. Her interaction with the boys was mostly just her snarking at their stupidity and Beavis using his nickname for her, "Diarrhea," before she writes them off as morons and walks off.
  • Harley Quinn from Batman the Animated Series was originally just to be a one-time Distaff Counterpart Dragon of The Joker, but proved to be an interesting character in her own right.
  • The "Two-Tone Town" episode of Tiny Toon Adventures reintroduced a trio of obscure Merrie Melodies characters from the black-and-white 1930s shorts: Foxy and Roxy (obvious Mickey and Minnie Mouse ripoffs) and Goopy Geer (who would be an obvious Goofy ripoff if he didn't predate Goofy). They were modernized and given more distinct personalities for their Tiny Toons appearance; most viewers were probably unaware that they were actual characters from the black-and-white era and not just Retraux imitations like the subsequent Warner siblings.
  • In the original U.S. Acres comic strip, Orson's nasty brothers only briefly appeared in the first three weeks, and they didn't have names then. Garfield and Friends turned them into recurring villains and gave them the names Mort, Gort, and Wart.
  • In 1932, E.C. Segar created a character named "Bluto the Terrible" to serve as Popeye's adversary for a single storyline in the Thimble Theatre strip. After the story ended, Segar discarded the character and never used him again... but when Popeye was adapted to animation a year later, Bluto became the series' main villain.
    • Rumor has it Segar created Bluto at the request of Fleischer Studios so that they'd have a recurring villain to use in the cartoons. And evidently, when creating him, Segar decided he may as well do a story with the character.
    • Popeye himself is perhaps the greatest example of this, actually. The comic strips he starred in began with chronicling the adventures of the Oyl family. Popeye was going to be a one arc gag, but became so popular that he ascended to the main character of the franchise..
  • Woody Woodpecker's girlfriend Winnie Woodpecker was only shown in one classic Woody Woodpecker cartoon called Real Gone Woody, but she was mainly shown in comic books as a recurring character. It wasn't until later in The New Woody Woodpecker Show that she became an active member of the series, with a personality similar in silliness to Woody, though showing a more developed sense of dignity.
  • Ixis Naugus was poised to team up with Snively after Sonic the Hedgehog and friends defeated Robotnik, but he (and the show) got Screwed by the Network (and the Power Rangers). He did get a much more expanded role in the comic based on the show.
    • Apparently, though not exactly an extra, Tails was also due to get a bigger role in S3 as well (he was rather low-key in the first [and only] two seasons).
  • Elyon in the animated version of WITCH is portrayed this way. Those only familiar with the show may or may not be aware that in the original comics, Elyon was a major character from the beginning. However, the TV series deliberately portrays her as a seemingly minor character who gradually "ascends" to being a major character .
    • Truth be told, a lot of characters in WITCH are ascended extras, the biggest ones being the previous Guardians minus Nerissa - in the comics, Yan Lin dies halfway through the second issue and becomes a member of the Council, Halinor's been dead, Cassidy was just an exposition ghost and Kadma was the bitter old lady. In the cartoon, Yan Lin's alive and The Mentor, Halinor's alive and part of the Council, Cassidy actually comes back to life and Kadma becomes a ruler of another world.
  • Quite a few of the extras from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West went on to become recurring characters in Fievel's American Tails.
    • Speaking of which, Tanya got quite a bigger role in Fievel Goes West when compared to the original, where she only has a couple of lines and could easily be cut from the story.
  • Jules and Verne, Doc Brown's kids in Back to The Future The Animated Series, likely qualify for this, since their only appearance in the original films is a brief, non-speaking appearance at the end of the third film.
  • Gil Gunderson, who started off as a one-off gag parody of Glengarry Glen Ross, eventually got his own starring episode on The Simpsons.
    • This actually applies to many characters on the show. Groundskeeper Willie for example was planned to just be used for a single joke. But Dan Castellaneta gave him such an amusing Scottish accent that he was brought back.
    • Others notable Simpsons promotions include Disco Stu, the Sea Captain, Hans Moleman, and many others. Disco Stu is a particularly obvious case, as he was only introduced for the sake of a single joke, but still pops up every so often.
  • South Park has many instances of this, and the show is fairly notable for promoting far more background characters into prominence than introducing new ones altogether. Virtually every member of the boys' class now has an established personality to some degree.
    • Butters in particular started off as a Living Prop before being increasingly used as a supporting background character in seasons 3-5 and eventually becoming the Fifth Ranger. He is now pretty much a main character with more focus than Kenny. This happened around the same time Kenny was more or less Demoted to Extra, though it's hard to say if Butters' rise is the cause or effect of that. Maybe it's just that Butters is capable of talking.
      • The next South Park game coming out features him lined up with the other four boys on the cover, confirming his place as a member of the gang.
  • Some one-shot villains on Word Girl might qualify. For example, Ms. Question, a villain previously seen as a student of the Coach, (another villain), has recently had two episodes where she was the main villain (after gaining the power to confuse people), as has smooth-talking game show host Seymour Orlando Smooth, who had previously only appeared in one episode. In fact, the only Wordgirl villain who hasn't returned at least once is the Masked Meat Marauder (although he's probably enjoying his time in that other city with lots of butcher shops and no superhero girls or monkey sidekicks).
  • Noelle Sussman on As Told by Ginger ascended from extra in "And She Was Gone"... and was demoted back to extra after "Wicked Game".
  • Filburt the turtle was initially a minor recurring character in Rocko's Modern Life who served as a nerdy employee for various jobs. He would go on to become one of Rocko's friends and have larger roles later on in the cartoon.
  • 21 and 24 from The Venture Brothers were minor characters early on in the first season, but became a bit more important as the season went on, and then starting with season 2 they were part of the main cast. Same could probably be said of the Monarch who went from a recurring character to getting equal screen time to the Venture family.
    • The creators often mention looking over crowd scenes and attributing characterization to whoever catches their eye, many showing up later in the show as actual characters.
      • Such as Sgt. Hatred. He was initially a throwaway off-screen villain that the 21 & 24 stole equipment from, to being one of the many unnamed villains who became excited at Dr. Venture's Walking Eye in Season 2, he eventually got a big plot upgrade in Season 3 where he eventually became Venture's new Guild arch and became tied to the backstory of why Brock was assigned to the Venture family. As of Season 4, he's become one of the main characters, becoming the new Venture bodyguard!
  • The same is true of Kim Possible's Drakken and Shego. Originally intended as just another antagonist, the producers liked the way they worked together so much (and particularly Nicole Sullivan's fleshing out of Shego as sarcastic and disrespectful to her boss) that they became Kim's arch-enemies, picking up more Backstory and Character Development and even doing a few Enemy Mine plots with the heroes.
  • One could also make the case for Stacy Hirano of Phineas and Ferb. In the early episodes, she appeared only infrequently, if at all (she was originally just an unheard voice on the other end of Candace's cell phone conversations). As the series progressed, she appeared much more often, and has actually played a role in the plot of some episodes ("Put that Putter Away", "Elementary my Dear Stacy", "Phineas & Ferb-busters", "The Lemonade Stand"). In fact, it's almost rare to see a current episode where she doesn't appear, even if it's only for a scene or two.
  • The Archmage was introduced in a flashback of an episode of Gargoyles and was originally intended as nothing more- but series creator Greg Weisman fell in love with David Warner's remarkably sinister turn voicing the character, so he was later brought back and much of the series was tied into his master plan.
  • The title character of Rex the Runt first appeared as an unnamed dog in the surreal Aardman Animations short Ident.
  • Futurama's fourth DVD movie featured Number 9, a character who had appeared as a nameless, voiceless extra in countless crowd scenes throughout the series. Now given a voice and a name, he played a prominent role in this chapter.
    • Futurama also features Scruffy, the Janitor, who shows up to comment on things when all other characters are used up. He's also occasionally featured as being even lazier than Fry, spending all his time in the basement reading porno magazines.
  • Charles Foster Ofdensen of Metalocalypse was just the routinely ignored voice of reason, and general straight man during early episodes. Then came the season 1 finale, where we learn he's a secret asskicker. Since then, he's become one of, it not, the most popular character on the show.
  • Karen in SpongeBob SquarePants. The more recent the episode starring Plankton, the more likely Karen will play an important role.
  • Despite only showing up in one chapter in the books, Sammy gets a much larger role in the Wayside School Animated Adaptation Wayside.
  • Transformers brings us Sunstorm, who started as just another random background Seeker in the original cartoon. He gained a small fanbase in his brief appearance, and was later given a name and characterization in later stories.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • Derpy Hooves is an excellent example of this. She was so unimportant that she almost didn't exist all together. She was present, with a normal appearance, among dozens of other background ponies in a longer sequence in the opening episode, but in one brief "blink and you'll miss it" cutaway shot, she was shown wall-eyed with goofy grin. Word of God admits her momentary appearance was either an animation error or a joke by one of the artists. Despite that, the Fans loved her. No, that's an understatement. They adored her. Story after story and cameo after cameo were created for her. Fans fleshed out her job, her personality, and even how she talked. Eventually, the show's creators caught on. Derpy slowly gained more acknowledgement throughout Season 1 and the first half of Season 2, first by the animators going back and derping her eyes in every scene she was in, then by placing her somewhere in the background of every new episode, then by giving her her own Funny Background Events, until finally it climaxed in the fourteenth episode of Season 2, where she was referred to by her Fan Nickname, given a voice actor, and interacted with a main character. Not bad for a animation error.
      • Of course, this lead to a massive case of Double Standard when people wrote in, complaining that a girl should never be like how Derpy was. Granted, there was a Word of God moment where one of the writers expressed regret over doing it like that because of how her own child was. Didn't placate the fans and, even today, they fight to make their beloved Derpy whole again.
    • Applejack's brother Big Macintosh was a fairly minor character who rarely spoke more than a simple "Eeyup" or "Nope" and appeared in only a handful of episodes in Season 1, usually as just a cameo whenever Applejack is involved. Once the second season came around they showrunners started putting him on more scenes and giving him more to do (although he still rarely speaks) and he's starting to get episodes written around him.
  • Valerie Grey originally appeared briefly in the second episode of Danny Phantom, but after her popular life was ruined by ghosts (or rather, unintentionally by Danny), she became one of the most Badass humans in the series, as well as one of Danny's toughest antagonists (though, in light of the Series Finale, she may now be an ally).
  • Cousin Mel, the money-grubbing villain of the Christmas Special Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, is a very minor character in the original song.
  • Cornchip Girl from Recess started out as a nameless background character. Around season four or five, she became a more prominent member of the cast, and became the unnoficial seventh member of the gang.
    • Miss Grotke, the gang's fourth grade teacher, was only in a few episodes of the first season. Come season two and she's in almost every episode of the season. Though by season five, she got Demoted to Extra and suffered from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in the final season.
  • Grune from Thundercats was a minor, though popular, villain, only appearing in three episodes as a ghost. In ThunderCats (2011) he is Spared by the Adaptation, made more attractive, given an expanded Backstory and promoted to The Dragon for the series Big Bad.
    • Likewise Pumyra was a secondary character the writers of the old show just didn't know what to do with most of the time, in the remake she's confirmed to have an expanded role and even has multiple episodes dedicated to her development.
  • Artemis and her family in Young Justice. Artemis is based on a D-list (or lower) character in the comics while she is part of a team of young superheroes like Robin, Superboy and Kid Flash for the show. Her supervillain parents and sister become more prominent because of this as well. Said sister isn't even related to her in the comics where she's the most prominent of the lot, but thanks to the writers mixing up DC Comics lore she gets an even larger role as one of the heroes' more prominent adversaries.
  • Ignatius Thistlewhite from The Year Without a Santa Claus. In the original poem on which the Christmas Special was based, he appeared once, in the middle, just long enough to suggest sending gifts to Santa; and then is seen asleep in his bed when Santa visits his home at the end of the poem. When the poem was expanded into an hour-long show, he became a major character who got to talk with elves, fly in a sleigh with Mrs. Claus, and face down a pair of elemental demigods (and their even scarier mother). He also got the nickname "Iggy".

Notes

  1. A literal One-Scene Wonder who doesn't even appear in the anime