Demoted to Extra

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Over the course of three films, Cyclops moves to the back (while Wolverine moves to the front).

We have a member of the supporting cast. They're important to the plot. Although, like any other minor character, they fall Out of Focus at times. Then comes the sequel, or the adaptation, or The Movie, and... hey, where'd they go? They weren't completely written out, but they just weren't good enough to keep what importance they had in the original. The character's fanbase will complain, and everyone else may just accept it as the status quo. It's sad.

This always, always, always happens to The Chick and/or The One Guy when The Smurfette Principle put them in their roles; if not in the story, definitely in the merchandise.

Opposite of the Ascended Extra; instead of a background or one-off character becoming a key member of the supporting cast, a key member of the supporting cast becomes a background or one-off character. Also contrast Spotlight-Stealing Squad; there may not be anyone in particular that takes these characters' screentime, and the presence of a Spotlight Stealing Squad doesn't mean no one else is plot-important anymore. In works when Anyone Can Die, characters fated to die frequently end up demoted to extra before their deaths.

This trope is for characters who become unimportant to the story, but are still seen or mentioned occasionally; for characters who disappear completely from the story as if they had never existed, see Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.

Compare Shoo Out the Clowns, Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer, Not as You Know Them, The Artifact, Out of Focus, What Happened to the Mouse?, Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, and Commuting on a Bus. Contrast Ascended Extra, Breakout Character and Ensemble Darkhorse.

There were more examples to this trope, but we had them cut out to save time. If you can see them, feel free to put them back on.

Examples of Demoted to Extra include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Berserk The Count and Rosine, in Manga they both have their own story arcs while in the first Anime they only show up in one episode.
  • Caren, Coco and Noel in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. The second arc of the manga shuffles them Out of Focus, but they still maintain some importance and form a West Coast Team of Lovely Angels. The anime, though, shafts every single one of them. Noel doesn't even get A Day in the Limelight in the mountain of filler; Caren, a key figure in the first season, becomes completely useless in the second; and everything to do with Coco is cut from the plot. One episode actually reveals that Coco, Noel and Caren can't even fight off a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad and are now comic relief.
  • All of the original main characters from the Tokyo Mew Mew manga were demoted to extras in the short-lived sequel, Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode, when manga-original Shirayuki Berii was made the new main character. Although it is said this was due to Executive Meddling, and the other Mew Mews were supposed to play a more important role, but Mia Ikumi was told not to include them very much, as she was restricted to two volumes.
  • Sailor Moon
    • Usagi's original group of friends were replaced by the other sailor soldiers, although one of Naru's "final" episodes lampshades this. More inexplicable is the complete disappearance of any side characters over the course of the show. One source of occasional drama is the alleged inability of the girls to have either normal friends or boyfriends, despite them meeting dozens of Victims of the Week who they apparently become chums with.
    • To a lesser degree, Sailor Venus, who had her own title before it was decided to make an ensemble team. Sure, she's still around, but "one of many" instead of the main character. Made worse in the anime, where she's The Chick rather than The Lancer like she was in the manga, and in the live action series, where she rarely fights with the others at all due to becoming partially an Expy of Uranus and Neptune.
    • The Amazoness Quartet are much more important characters in the manga than the anime. Not only were they the main secondary villains of their arc, but they're among the few villains in the manga to be redeemed—and since they were made from stolen and corrupted Senshi star seeds, they end up becoming the Asteroid Senshi who act as Chibiusa's bodyguards.
  • Mai-Otome
    • Mai , though hinted at early in the anime series, doesn't appear in person at all until the very last arc. However, this is an Alternate Continuity to My-HiME, where she was the main character. It's worse in the manga: that world's Mai is the deceased mother of Manshiro and Mashiro and the other Mai only shows up as the brainwashed Dragon to the Big Bad.
    • Her younger brother Takumi and his bodyguard/girlfriend Akira are reduced to a two-episode arc in the middle of the series.
    • Yuuichi, the male main character from My-HiME only makes brief appearances in the flashbacks of Mai's backstory - and said backstory turned out to be fake, to boot! Word of God states that this is "punishment" for his voice actor leaking spoilers.
    • Shizuru has a significantly reduced role in the Mai-HiME manga, as the subplot of her feelings for Natsuki is largely unexplored, and she isn't even a Hime. As a result, she does not turn Psycho Lesbian and kill people. That was probably to make up for the anime forgetting about how that was supposed to be a SUBplot.
  • Poor Misawa Daichi in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. In the first season he was one of the main character's closest friends and rivals. In the second season he was slowly ignored, and was Put on a Bus half way through. In the third season he turned up again to provide Expospeak, only to disappear again for a good part of the second arc, and appeared once to provide more Expospeak, then to finally disappear for good. He wasn't even mentioned in the fourth season, and was one of the few characters from the very beginning to not get any sort of closure. Being Demoted To Extra is actually cited as the reason for his Face Heel Turn in season 2.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's
    • Jack Atlas was the main antagonist in the first season, once best friend and then arch rival of the protagonist, object of all his thoughts, a formidable opponent. Long story short: he was pretty badass. Neither did their conflict ever get solved, nor did he stay this important to the plot for long. He was taken off the beaten track via his new love interest Carly Nagisa, who occupied his sole attention throughout the whole second season. And in the third season, his only purpose seems to be used as a Plucky Comic Relief every now and then, together with and practically glued to the side of the main characters other BFF Crow, if he appears at all, holding no special importance to the plot whatsoever anymore, not to mention his former badassness.
    • Aki in the first season was a formidable, destructive, and ominous Yandere Dark Magical Girl, who established herself as one of the strongest females in the series, and a prominent rival for Yusei. Aki by the third season is more or less a Living Prop who, every ten or so episodes, gets on a bike to look nice in leather and, once in a blue moon, beat or lose to a minor character.
    • Depending on how you look at it, most of the cast except Yusei could fall under this trope in the 3rd season.
  • There's a character in Jubei-chan who not only gets this treatment in J2 but lampshades it. Everybody from Jubei-chan get this except the main character's father.
  • Nanami in the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie. It's widely believed that the director kept her in a limited role (as a cow, no less) because certain members of the staff didn't like her. She is the Alpha Bitch, but still... In the manga it was even worse, as she only ever shows up in one photograph and doesn't even make an actual on-panel appearance. Ikuhara has stated that Nanami was one of his favorite characters. Originally, Nanami wasn't going to be in the movie at all (she only had screentime because her seiyuu wanted it), and in the manga, Chiho Saito never planned to make her an important character.
  • Shuro, a recurring secondary character in the Ayashi no Ceres manga who has a few moments of plot-importance, shows up in all of one episode of the anime before getting killed off.
  • Those who start reading Akumetsu for the first time might think that Shinna is the main character. That only lasts for a couple chapters before the spotlight shifts to the title character.
  • In the X 1999 movie, Shiyu Kusanagi not only had his Gentle Giant and Friend to All Living Things persona stripped away to make him an explicit villain, but his relationship with Yuzuriha was left out, despite being probably the key aspect of his character, and to top it off, he was killed in a very mean-spirited manner by his own ally after only a few minutes of screen time. It could be justified as being necessary for the short length of the movie, but for fans of the character it was just painful.
  • Poor Yuuno. Once the partner to the title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, his status rapidly degrades with each passing season thanks to the growing Fundamentally Female Cast. It's telling that he's completely absent from the opening of the second series, and that the film adaptation of the first series excises his role in the plot. Sufficed to say, Yuuno fans were pleasantly surprised when he not only became a playable character in The Gears Of Destiny, but Took a Level in Badass in the process.
    • Chrono suffers a similar fate thanks to his Y chromosone, but manages to stave off irrelevance until StrikerS due to playing a pretty major role in A's.
    • Really, even the female characters aren't immune to this, as a natural consequence of Loads and Loads of Characters, and the series shifting in tone from a Seinen Magical Girl Show to a Space Military Show (with Magical Girls)
  • Fist of the North Star
    • Shin, one of the major villains, is demoted into sitting around in Southern Cross during The Movie and doesn't even get a decent fight scene with Kenshiro. To put that in perspective, Mr. Heart gets a better fight scene than Shin does.
    • Jackal, Colonel, and Galf were all demoted into nameless henchmen. Jackal only appears just to get killed by Jagi, Colonel doesn't really do much other than get killed by Shin in one strike, and Galf was given only one line and a few seconds of screen time.
    • The Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu movies features most of the major characters who weren't in the original movie. Aside for the child version of Ryuga in Yuria Den, Ryuga and Juza are nowhere to be seen in any of the movies except for their appearance as dead spirits attending Ken and Yuria's wedding in the opening sequence of Kenshirō Den.
  • There seems to be an unspoken rule of sorts stating that in the Pokémon anime, NO player characters from the games ever appear in any great capacity unless they're a girl. Granted, it might be so that none of the game heroes can get a chance to upstage Ash, but the resulting attention heaped upon the female characters is rather baffling. Poor Brendan, Wally, Lucas, Lunick... well, you get the point.
    • Team Rocket as of the Best Wishes iteration of the Pokémon anime, where they're reacurring villains rather than regular ones.
    • Leaf's a girl, and she didn't appear at all. One might excuse this as she was in a game's remake, but then there's the fact that Lyra appears and Kris (who's a girl) doesn't, despite being the original female player character on Crystal. At least Marina (Kris) and Jimmy (Ethan), got their own 1-hour special.. Also, there are many shout-outs to Marina in the Diamond/Pearl season, with her being a model for the new Pokétch in an ad, and showing up in a double contest video that Dawn watches.
    • Brock, Misty, Tracey, May, Max, and Dawn were all regulars at one point before being Put on a Bus. Only Brock has returned to the main cast since, and even he left after the Diamond and Pearl arc. Also, Gary's appearances dropped off dramatically after the Kanto arc. You could honestly almost forget the fact that Ash even had a rival in Johto until their battle in the Johto League Tournament.
    • Both Hajime/Kellyn and Natsuya got to play character-of-the-day in one episode each, though, and Natsuya got a short special all to himself on top of that. The male rangers DID fare better than the female ones.
    • In Pokémon Black and White, Bianca is one of the main character's friendly rivals and makes frequent appearances. In the anime, she does show up fairly often but never really rises above the level of supporting cast. She's at least luckier than Cheren, who doesn't appear at all.
  • Nozomi from Elfen Lied was a main character and the reason that the show's called Elfen Lied. However, she was written out of the anime. Towards the end of the manga, she becomes a Cute Mute due to injury, further pushing her out of the plot and turning her into background filler when she even appears at all. Arguably a good candidate for Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
  • The Pretty Cure franchise loves Sixth Rangers... unless they're Michiru and Kaoru, the Dark Magical Girl twins from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star, who share the dubious title of Dame Not Appearing In This Trailer. If having no merchandise whatsoever despite being on a Merchandise-Driven show wasn't enough, they didn't even get to fight in the Pretty Cure All Stars DX movie and only showed up for a few seconds without any lines. It wasn't a voice actor issue, as Moop and Fuup, played by the same two people, appeared and got lines. No, Michiru and Kaoru just didn't get their spotlight for no good reason, even though every other Cure and support character in the history of the Media Franchise, including Cure Berry, Cure Peach and Cure Pine from Fresh Pretty Cure (which started just over a month before the movie's release date!) got tons of attention. The second DX movie finally gave them a speaking part, but it was very minor and they didn't get to fight. Though in general, the older your series was the less screen time you got on that movie (Splash Star and Original/Max Heart getting the worst of it), so they should still be thankful.
    • While not as bad as the above example, Honoka/Cure White also suffers from this. Supposedly co-stars with Nagisa/Cure Black. Actually appears half as much as her and has less episodes and scenes focused on her, plus she has no lover (Well, there's Kiriya, but he only appears a bit in the first season and vanishes into light at the end. Fuji P. is around ALL the time both seasons), has almost no friends, and her family rarely appears. The exact opposite happens for Nagisa. The second season only made things worse, for Hikari stole most of Honoka's screentime while Nagisa held a firm grip on most of hers, leaving poor Honoka with even less importance. And yet she's the more popular of the two. Go figure.
    • In the first Non-Serial Movie, Nagisa does everything: She befriends the prince who oddly looks like Fuji P., he gives her the trinket that saves the day later, she has a scene where she risks her life to save one of the Ridiculously Cute Critters, and, worst of all, SHE and SHE alone gives the Filler Villain the lecture about love and whatnot, when on the series proper they're always delivered by both girls trading lines. Honoka gets... two scenes where she warms up the Aloof Ally. That's it. Even Hikari has more memorable scenes, and she spends half the movie injured in bed! (In fact, she's there because of such awesome scenes!) At least the second movie was fairer to poor Honoka... by giving Hikari the shaft instead. As long as Nagisa has plenty of screentime...
    • And then there's the Nintendo DS Crossover game, where both Honoka AND Kaoru and Michiru get Demoted to Extra! Well, fine, Kaoru and Michiru have it MUCH worse, since they don't even appear (again). Honoka does appear but she's the ONLY ONE out of the 11 PCs who never gets to be the main character of a chapter. Yes, even her Expy Mai and Sixth Rangers Hikari and Kurumi get to star in one chapter, and Kurumi stars in TWO. The game's about Yes! Pretty Cure 5 with the older series tacked in so this is not a surprise, but still.
    • Now thanks to the wonders of Loads and Loads of Characters, Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage ends up giving this to anyone pre-Fresh Pretty Cure, meaning 11 heroines show up, but don't have any real purpose beyond "pounding the Big Bad's head in in the end".
  • Team Kurenai and Team Guy in Naruto post-skip. Team Guy did very little in the Gaara arc (though Guy himself at least got to do something), Team Kurenai's role in the Hunt for Uchiha arc came down to helping hunt down two people who both escaped quite easily. Team Asuma has mostly avoided this. Shikamaru became an Ascended Extra during the Immortals Arc and has maintained his status as an important character. Team Asuma then received development during the Fourth Ninja War with Choji this time getting the spotlight. Ino also got to shine as their battles showed how Badass the three are together.
    • Might Gai is an exception to the rule. His fights with Kisame make him almost as much of a Sixth Ranger as Shikamaru Nara.
    • Even Sai has suffered from this. When introduced in the 2nd arc of Part 2 of the manga, he was one of the most important characters with plenty of time spent on Character Development and hinting at his backstory. He goes on to make minimal appearances for the rest of the series, with little to no further character development.
  • In the first season of Gundam 00 Allelujah Haptism gets significantly less focus than the rest of the meisters. He has some focus in a couple of episodes early on and his Crowning Moment of Awesome, but he gets sidelined for the rest of the time and actually isn't even present for a very significant battle and bonding scene. The second season manages to start off even worse for him, he has two scenes (each five seconds long) and a single word of speech in the first two episodes. By the end of the series while Lyle, Setsuna, and Tieria all get important plotlines Alle is on grunt duty blowing up overglorified missiles. This is heaviest emphasized by Episode 13 of the second season. All the Meisters get badass moments of awesome, including Setsuna whipping an Innovator's ass in style, Tieria placing a giant hole in the side of a space cannon, and Lyle sniping it down. Allejulah? He's stuck in Arios with it attached to Ptolemy. His ONLY PURPOSE was to say "Trans-Am" and provide Trans-Am to Ptolemy. Arios is a glorified battery.
    • His case is even sorrier if one considers his Super-Powered Evil Side a separate character. Hallelujah does all of the really incredible stuff onscreen including what should have been Al's moment of glory in the Grand Finale. In the end we're shown Al settling down peacefully with Marie, so at least those two can brood over their misfortunes together. At least he's promoted as The Lancer in The Movie.
    • Anyone remember who kissed Setsuna? Is that ... Gundam? Also, who used to be his archenemy from his homeland? And... Does Marina have anything to do with the plot in the long run?
  • Tsumugi is a rather unfortunate victim of this in the manga of K-On!; she originally had a few lines per situation or the occasional two-cents to throw in, she's essentially become furniture now that the girls are in college (despite her being the reason they all chose that school!).
    • The anime, while not being that much better with Tsumugi, prefers doing this to Ritsu instead, pushing her off to the side whenever it can. As an example, there's an episode with a scene taken from the manga where Azusa asks Tsumugi for help. The anime added scenes of Azusa asking for Yui and Mio's help as well, but Ritsu and just Ritsu was neglected. However, she instead got a scene of the other girls visiting her house. It seems Ritsu can't get the focus unless all the other girls are around.
  • Scar's cohorts were cut out of the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist. Dr. Marcoh and Yoki both were killed off rather unceremoniously rather than join him in his quest, though the producers probably didn't realize what it was they were doing at the time of the adaption. Alternatively, they did know, but were bound by the original author 's request to alter the anime's plot significantly from the manga's to avoid spoiling the latter.
    • The relevance of Roy's friends was also downplayed, with the guys demoted from competent secondary characters (for example Vato Falman has excellent memory allowing him to remember dates about everything) to incompetent Mauve Shirts who are only useful for comic relief and Riza losing her backstory .
    • In the manga, Selim Bradley turns out to be the homunculus Pride. In the 2003 anime, he only has a few scenes before he gets killed by his own father- who took his role as the homunculus Pride- in a Moral Event Horizon crossing. Then again, this is partly due to the author not wanting later twists being spoiled.
    • In the 2003 anime, Sheska got a rather significant amount of screen time and was a full-blown supporting character. In the manga, Sheska is barely in it after her introduction, with the exception of a few cameos.
    • Also, in the manga, Marta, one of Greed's companions, is killed with the rest of Greed's allies in the Devil's Nest. In the 2003 anime, Marta had a somewhat significant role in the latter half of the anime, even traveling with the Elrics for a few episodes.
    • An unpleasant example is Alex Armstrong in the 2003 anime, who did very little of true importance and during the final events, he's reassigned to work somewhere up north and only makes a brief cameo afterward.
  • Tetsuo Ishimaru from Eyeshield 21 often goes unnoticed even by his teammates. This was actually his strength; his opponents often failed to notice him, letting him gain big yards and score the occasional touchdown (which sadly, happened unceremoniously every time he managed). Poor Ishimaru....
  • Sylphiel Nels Lahda appears in the first two Slayers seasons. She is absent from the third (and they even tease the viewer about it by giving her an eyecatch). She does appear in the final couple of episodes of the fourth, but has only a cameo in the beginning of the fifth (and is part of the penultimate eyecatch).
  • The short lived OAV series Dragon Half parodies this. The second episode (also the last- it was that short lived) introduces a character named Dug Finn, who comes out of nowhere to fight his way through the Inevitable Tournament. Confronting the heroine Mink in the finals, he rants to her about how he will kill her for daring to oppose his father, Azatodeth, only to find that Mink has no idea what he's talking about and doesn't remember doing that. Confused, Dug Finn calls a time-out to check his VHS copy of the first OAV, and is infuriated to find out that the producers cut out all his scenes.
    • This is exactly what happened—in the original (much longer-lived) manga, Mink does indeed swear to defeat Azatodeth.
  • This trope can be applied to any character of the entire Dragon Ball franchise that isn't Goku or Vegeta, and to a lesser extent Pan in GT.
    • One of the worst cases being Lunch, who acted as the secondary heroine of the series (next to Bulma) for a time. At the beginning of the Saiyan saga (the first saga of Z), her absence was HandWaved, and she was never mentioned again. She was planned to make one final appearance near the end of the series, but this never came to fruition, as by that point the artist had forgotten what she looked like. At least she appeared on the anime.
    • Yamcha was the first recurring villain in the entire series and Goku's first true rival (predating Vegeta, Piccolo, Tien, and Krillin), yet he was quickly reduced to a joke character and treated as little more than background noise after the Freeza saga. Or well before that: He never went past the quarterfinals on a tournament (Krillin did twice), did nothing for most of the second Dragon Ball hunt, and when he finally fought, he won against the Invisible Man with outside help (admittedly, his enemy had that too) and lost to an opponent Goku defeated without trying at all. Then he spent the Piccolo Daimaoh saga with a broken leg. And in the 23rd Tenka'ichi Budokai he broke his balls on a disguised guardian of Earth. No wonder he's somewhat of a Memetic Loser and his most popular moment in Japan is the posture his corpse takes after dying to a Mook (An Action Bomb Mook, but still, Krillin killed three of those right after that! KRILLIN! And he lost to one!).
    • Tenshinhan (Tien) counts as well. Introduced as a powerful and serious character whose strength and drive were admired by the other characters, and the only character who could put up a fight against Goku he was demoted to background noise during the Frieza Saga. He regained his importance in the Cell Saga and did make appearances during the Buu Saga and GT, but they were few and far between.
    • Gohan, who played a key role in every saga of Dragon Ball Z(he was the hero of the Cell saga and was even intended to become the main character after Goku died), in Dragon Ball GT is reduced to being a secondary character that ends up being useless every time he jumps into action. He only receives appropriate focus when taken over by Baby and when Piccolo dies but this are very small instances.
    • Piccolo also suffers this fate in Dragon Ball GT where he only makes 4 appearances. He does provide many of the best moments in that series.
    • Krillin, who managed to remain an important character during the Frieza and Cell sagas despite being far surpassed in power by almost everyone, is demoted in the Majin Buu saga where he doesn't do much but is there. His role gets even smaller in Dragon Ball GT where he makes fewer appearances. The importance of his character to the series as a whole is acknowledged in the last episode, though.
    • On a more meta sort of way, this also happens to the last big Tournament Arc, the 23rd Tenka'ichi Budoukai, when it comes to videogames, as it's rarely included and most of the games that cover it are relatively obscure, do so by demoting Piccolo to a Warmup Boss, or both. Generally, this happens because games either cover "Kid Goku" or "Z (And maybe GT)", and this arc just so happens to be in the middle of both things. Specially bad is Attack of the Saiyans, which despite being focused on the "23rd tourney to Vegeta fight" part, glosses over most of the tournament to the point there's only ONE fight, and not a hard one.
  • In Bakugan: New Vestroia, Dan, Marucho and Shun are all back as regulars, but Runo and Julie only appear in the first episode and Alice doesn't even get that much. (Seriously, the girls got phased out? What the hell type of show is this?!)
  • Happened to every human character, and most of the shinigami in Bleach. That includes Ichigo and Rukia, despite their official status as main characters, Ichigo went over 50 chapters without even being seen, and Rukia's gone almost 100 without a single line of dialogue. It's even worse in the anime, with ever non-shinigami, sometimes with the exception of Ichigo, having next to no role in anime original stories (with the sole exception of the Bount arc), they're hardly even featured in the merchandise. Ishida, Orihime, and Chad got Brother Chucked out of the musicals (Ishida wasn't even in them to begin with), and in one movie they didn't even get a cameo while every random shinigami got some screentime.
    • Part of the problem is that none of the hero characters have ever been killed off, or went away in Bleach, so every single shinigami has to go through the motions before the actual characters in the story get any screen time, if they get it at all. Chad hasn't been seen in so long, he might as well have been killed, but NOBODY DIES IN BLEACH, so that'll never happen.
      • Heavily adverted in the new arc, where Shinigami seem to be getting killed off left and right.
  • Tsukiyo Ooba from Sketchbook only gets a few lines of dialogue in the anime. Sure, she is an irregular cast member in the manga as well, but at least there she gets some of the funniest moments. Hopefully a second season will set this injustice straight.
  • This happened to Takayanagi as the Tenjou Tenge series wore on; he went from being a core Juken member strong enough to school lead character Souichiro with one punch to an occasional appearance here and there, either for comic relief or to be pointedly ignored by Aya in her point of Souichiro. Sad indeed.
  • Gundam X is a rare example of a series being Demoted to Extra. Despite being a fan-favorite (especially in the West), it only rarely appears in Massive Multiplayer Crossover games like Super Robot Wars. When it does appear, however, it tends to be handled rather well though.
    • Gundam X is also the only Gundam series not to have a Master Grade model of even one single suit from it (V Gundam used to be this way too, but it's getting one soon).
  • In the Yu Yu Hakusho manga, Yusuke's mother Atsuko was present for much of the early story and attended the Dark Tournament, but gradually faded away. In the anime, virtually all of her appearances after the Yukina arc were cut out, and she was removed from later versions of the opening.
    • Kuwabara loses most of his screentime after the Chapter Black saga. It's just his bad luck that he wasn't a demon.
  • Kallen has very little panel time in the Code Geass Alternate Universe spin-off mangas. In the Lelouch of the Rebellion manga she actually does get a fair amount of attention, but the part dealing with her past is significantly trimmed down, only showing a brief scene of her at home and her visiting her mother in the hospital. In Suzaku of the Counterattack and Nightmare of Nunnally, the Ashford cast is considerably less important, and they disappear midway through both series.
    • Princess Cornelia li Britannia was a major character throughout Season 1 of Code Geass. After being Put on a Bus (sorta; her fate was left ambiguous for a while) at the end of the first season, she returned much later in R2. Aside from one memorable encounter in the middle of the season, she spends most of her time standing around and commenting on her brother Schneizel's moves.
    • Jeremiah Gottwald, despite being an Ensemble Darkhorse of the original series, disappears without explanation after surviving his Knightmare Frame's destruction in the Nightmare of Nunnally version of the hotel incident. Viletta suffers a similar loss of screentime in Nightmare of Nunnally, and in the Lelouch of the Rebellion manga, she doesn't appear until the manga reaches R2's events, resulting in the removal of her relationship with Ougi. Viletta gets demoted again in the Nintendo DS RPG, where her plotline with Ohgi is cut, leaving her to disappear for a large part of the Season 1 plot, then return in the final stage as a Mini Boss in Ohgi's route split.
    • Suzaku of the Counterattack demotes practically everyone except Suzaku and new character Mariel to extra; even characters like C.C. and the Emperor, major players in every other adaptation, do nothing of note (C.C. is only there to be a MacGuffin Girl, while the Emperor does nothing other than get murdered by Schneizel so he can frame Lelouch/Zero for it.) Lelouch himself does remarkably little, despite being the main character of the source series and a major driving element in all the adaptations.
  • Konata's dad doesn't appear on the Lucky Star OVA, despite having a decent amount of screentime on the series proper. Notable because the Hiiragi twins' parents and Miyuki's mom DO appear, despite being MUCH more minor characters.
  • In the second half of Death Note, Misa loses much of her importance when, in order to fool the investigation team when they move to put her and Light under surveillance, she gives up her Death Note and her memories of it a second time. The SPK and Mello sometimes investigate her, but she shows up less often and does nothing of importance. Light's mother and sister faded from the plot after Soichiro's death, and so did Ryuk, although he showed up at the end to write Light's name in the Death Note.
    • Sayu actually appears one final and brief time in the manga, in chapter 97 or so. She's shown in a panel at a coming-of-age ceremony, no longer confined to a wheelchair from trauma but still slowly recovering, per Word of God. The anime cut that bit out when it came time to adapt that chapter.
  • The Clannad porn video, Clonnad doesn't have Fuuko at all, despite being one of Clannad's five main heroines and the other 4 being there. Before you argue how she's similar to a loli and thus it's to be expected: Other movies by TMA had lolis when they were main characters (Rika and Satoko, Ilya, Nunnally and so on. Nunnally even had a porn scene. She wasn't crippled, don't worry.) so this isn't a issue, at least for TMA. Second, these movies are 90% a crappy live-action version of the original anime and 10% porn so she could have appeared only on said 90%. And third, Kotomi and Tomoyo are also main heroines but didn't have porn scenes despite appearing (And they're actually the bustiest heroines, even!), making Fuuko's non-appearance even more bizarre and strange. And yes, that means only Nagisa and Kyou got porn scenes. And they're the heroines with the most screentime on the anime (With good reason, mind). Surely this isn't a coincidence...
  • The Axis Powers Hetalia anime hasn't quite ended yet, but a lot of fans are wondering if Poland is ever going to get more than a three-second cameo, especially considering that his partner Lithuania has actually gotten a fair amount of screen time and arguably more minor characters like Belarus and Liechtenstein have received sizeable roles in at least two episodes so far. Spain and Sweden also suffer from this to some extent, with the characters they're seen the most frequently within the webcomic (Romano and Finland, respectively) being somewhat luckier than them.
    • Ah, but our prayers have been answered! Poland practically gets his own episode later, removing him from the abandonment list. Like, that's so hot!
    • Unfortunately, Korea gets Demoted to Extra as well as been hinted to be erased from the manga altogether. It doesn't make his fans happy.
  • In the To LOVE-Ru anime, Saki and Ren&Run gain plenty of screentime, and Miss Mikado goes from being the regular with less appearances to have a lot of 'em... yet it seems they managed this by stealing off all of Mikan's screentime, despite Mikan being more popular than all of them combined. Most notable, there's one episode happening almost entirely on (And under) her (And her brother Rito's) backyard, but she doesn't get even one line. The OVAs and second season avert this, but still.
    • Mikan even lampshades this To Love Ru Darkness, stating that she feels that she is becoming less important because Momo is taking away most of the things she used to do. However, she does get fairly good screentime so it's not a "true" example. A better example would be Lala, the main heroine of the series, that has yet to get an episode truly about herself in Darkness, the closest being one she shared with her sisters, but her sisters already get far more screentime anyway!
  • All the main characters from Digimon Adventure, except Takeru and Hikari, were demoted in Digimon Adventure 02. Taichi's giving his signature googles to Daisuke was almost symbolic of that transition. From there, the older kids became the younger ones' mentors and had occasional supporting roles. But their influence on the story was limited; in fact, they were hardly able to travel to the Digital World without the new Chosen Kids' help.
  • Oh, Keiichi. You may be a very important character, giving Rika hope. But unfortunately, you're also The One Guy, so don't expect to show up in the official merchandise much. He does get a couple small figures, but all of the girls get at least one normal sized one.
    • And don't even get me started on Umineko no Naku Koro ni. George didn't even show up on the cover of his own Character CD, while Beatrice (who he shared the CD with and is, admittedly, probably more important) got the whole cover to herself. Meanwhile the Stakes of Purgatory got a CD of their own, while Battler, the main character only got one "image song" on a different CD. One that's not even performed by his seiyuu. And the parents, my God the parents...
  • Loads of characters get demoted to extras in the Future GPX Cyber Formula series, starting from Johji Otomo, who can rarely be seen or heard after Hayato gets his Super Asurada 01 until the last four episodes, and eventually he retires from the Cyber GPX for good. The SIN OVA have many characters get demoted, especially Randoll, thanks to Hayato and Kaga's Super Modes, with them curbstomping their opponents left, right and center.
    • This also happens in-series during the second half of the TV series when Naoki Shinjyo is demoted after his boss Kyoko made a secondary team of Aoi Formula, Aoi ZIP Formula and made Bleed Kaga as the new team's driver. Kyoko herself gets demoted to vice president when Aoi Formula and Aoi ZIP Formula are merged into one team and the team chooses Kyoshiro Nagumo as the new president and Shinjyo was subsequently fired from the team. Needless to say, both of them are less than happy about the news.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index's titular character, Index, gets shunted off to the side pretty quick. She does have a bigger role in the last arc of the anime, but still! You'd think she'd have more screentime throughout the rest, given the series name.
    • She actually gets more screen time than any other character besides Touma, she just doesn't get any action scene so many people fail to notice since that is all they pay attention to. May be part of the reason why Action Girl Mikoto is so popular.
    • Index does get quite a few action scenes, just not big fights. And Mikoto doesn't get that much action anyway (In her spin-off, maybe, but in the parent series she rarely goes beyond beating mooks, and often offscreen at that).
  • After Weiss Kreuz Gluhen, Omi and Youji demote themselves by taking over Kritiker and getting married after developing amnesia, leaving Aya and Ken to become the backbone of a new assassin team in England while they only appear in flashbacks. Frustratingly, looked about to change, what with Youji being called by his real name in a cameo and Omi keeping tabs on Aya and Ken's actions, but the series was Cut Short.
  • Kaorin from Azumanga Daioh, despite numerous attempts to avert this, falls to the wayside, despite being introduced before many of the major players.
  • Hanai in School Rumble. He was a main character is season one, but in season two was used less and less, until the extent of his appearances were a running gag about how he was stuck on a kite for several episodes. His role as the Large Ham seemed to have been usurped by Togou.
  • Ojamajo Doremi does this to Momoko, who is a key character in her introductory season, but by the next one is shafted in favor of magically grown-up Hana-chan and becomes merely window-dressing.
  • In the Tokko manga, Itto and Mayu become the main characters in their own dedicated arc, but in the anime they only make a few cameo appearences, and their arc is rewritten with them removed from it and are replaced by Ranmaru.
  • As Ah! My Goddess goes on, the importance of Keichii's non-supernatural acquaintances gradually decreases.
  • Maximillian Jenius from the original Macross series (Max Sterling in Robotech). After the Force of Arms episode, he and Mirya only made sporadic appearances, usually non speaking. And even in Viva Mirya, the love triangle buisness between Rick and Lisa still took up more screen time than was given to Max or Mirya. Neither Max nor Mirya appear in Prelude to Shadow Chronicles but Admiral Hunter is said to have summoned Max to the SDF-3.
  • In Persona 4: The Animation, Igor - he has one or two lines an episode. This is because Igor's seiyuu passed away prior to the anime's production, and rather than recast the role the producers decided to only use archived dialogue from the game itself.
    • Also amongst the S-Links, since the two possible Sun S-Links are separate stories, they chose Ayane's S-Link. As a result, the only time we see Yumi is when she's silently annoyed at Kou hamming it up in the Cultural Festival drama play.
  • In the anime adaptation of Sengoku Basara, this hits several less popular characters like Honganji Kennyo, whose sole appearance is just to get sliced to death by Mitsuhide; or Hojo Ujimasa, who immediately got snuffed out by Shingen's Hot-Blooded punch of fire RIGHT AFTER HIS BRIEF APPEARANCE.
    • The second season has this hit Takeda Shingen (though justified since he had to protect his region while Yukimura led the troops).


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Reading Justice Society of America can be a bit jarring if you're a fan of Sandman Mystery Theatre. After the Golden Age Sandman spent years as the hero of his own cult classic series, he's reduced to a mere scene-filler in JSA.
  • Some Spider-Man editors have been quoted saying "Spider-Man has a supporting cast?". This is because most supporting cast members are either lost in limbo or have been killed off.
  • Happens with X-Men, even the main characters, as well as with other teams.
    • But it also happens with newer members (such as Marrow) who almost always turned out to be only temporarily popular or big-time.
      • The junior classes have it the worst. Out of the members who aren't Killed Off for Real, generally one out of each generation will get much of any face time if they aren't Wolverine's sidekick. New X-men fans refer to this is 'becoming wallpaper'. Currently, Husk from Generation X and Pixie (who ironically started as wallpaper) from New X-men are filling their respective generation's 'slot'.
    • This tends to be cyclical, particularly in the X-books. Jamie Madrox, for instance, started off as a background character with little personality, became an Ascended Extra in Peter David's first X-Factor run, then spent a couple years Not Quite Dead and about a decade as a bit player until David got the opportunity to have him lead the new X-Factor. The New Warriors (the ones who got blown up right before Civil War) started out as an attempt to ascend a bunch of nobodies and has-beens, with the whole team dropping Out of Focus several times.
    • A lot of human allies to the X-teams disappear when their creator leaves the books. Peter Corbeau got several particularly awesome scenes in Chris Claremont's early days, now, he doesn't even get an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
    • Kitty Pryde inevitably gets reduced to a minor background character in adaptations. People often forget that, for a while, she was the closest thing that X-Men had to a central protagonist.
  • It also happens a lot to the Legion of Super-Heroes, given the sheer number of characters, frequent RetCons and all-out continuity reboots, generally convoluted continuity, and the fact that the team has been in existence since the '50s, giving fans plenty of opportunity to start Running the Asylum. The most notable victim is probably Dyrk Magz aka Magno, who spent all of ten issues as a member of the Legion before getting summarily depowered, was given just enough development to be interesting, and then mostly got relegated to the background before the Legion Worlds miniseries finally managed to abandon the character in a way that gave him no resolution but also left him in a position from which it would be hard to bring him back into play. And then the Legion's continuity was rebooted entirely a few years later anyhow.
  • Also tends to happen to the Doom Patrol. Often Lampshaded at the end of their newest guest appearance in some other hero team's series.
  • Comics have their own name for this trope: Comic Book Limbo. So many characters and whole teams end up there—even ones who used to have a series of their very own.
  • Rotor Walrus in Sonic the Hedgehog, both SatAM and Archie Comics versions, have been hit hard with this; in both versions, he started out as a strong fixture in the Freedom Fighters, then got kicked into this position after a certain point (Season 2 in SatAM, issue #125 in the Archie Comics); in fact, in the comics, his jacked-up importance and Word of Gay relationship in the "Mobius: 25 Years Later" storyline was meant by previous head writer Ken Penders as a way of moving him out of extra status and giving him a much-needed jolt of Character Development. Sadly, when current head writer Ian Flynn took over, he was beaten back down to this spot violently, in both the main comic and the "M:25YL" storyline.
    • A group of characters called "The Substitute Freedom Fighters" that faded out of relevance soon after their introduction. Currently, they were brought back as councilors on the royal council. One of them, Hamlin, was angry enough about his treatment that he joined the council out of spite for the Freedom Fighters.
  • The original Titans West from the '70s Teen Titans vanished when it came time for the New Teen Titans series, due to Marv Wolfman considering all of the characters (except Lilith and Beast Boy/Changeling) to be lame. Bumblebee and Mal Duncan (who were part of the original East Coast team towards the end of the '70s) were also Put on a Bus, and Duela Dent showed up once as a fat phony who revealed that she had lied about her origin of being Two-Face's daughter. After the Crisis, Wolfman seized the opportunity to retcon Bumblebee and Mal (now called "Herald") as having been part of Titans West, and attempted to erase Duela from continuity completely. Caveman G'narrk (who died in a Bus Crash Pre-Crisis) became a case of Death by Origin Story, while Bat-Girl (retconned to Flamebird) and Golden Eagle became even more shallow "joke" characters stuck in a rut of Can't Catch Up.
    • The earlier Titans all became demoted when it was time for Dan Jurgens' version of the Titans, partly due to Executive Meddling. Jurgens had originally planned to use Nightwing and the JSA member Wildcat as mentors for the team, but had to make do with using the de-aged Ray Palmer instead.
    • Characters like the second Wonder Girl suffered this in the change from the Young Justice title to the third volume of Teen Titans, as Geoff Johns decided to pay more attention to Robin and Superboy, effectively making the rest of the cast into wallpaper. After OYL, the focus then became Robin and Wonder Girl, which continued somewhat into Sean Mc Keever's run.
  • Practically every Golden Age character in The DCU save for the Justice Society of America's core team has either been killed off as C-List Fodder or relegated to the team's reserves. It's hard to imagine that the Red Bee once had his own backup series.
  • Lampshaded in James Robinson's Starman, where the Red Bee is seriously PISSED OFF during a Thanksgiving with dead superheroes.
  • Wonder Woman hasn't been able to keep a stable supporting cast together in decades. Even Steve Trevor got Put on a Bus years ago.
  • This happens in Sin City, mostly because different stories have different protagonists. For instance, Marv was the main character in the first story and a supporting character in the second. Aside from two one-shots, he was never the main character for any stories after that. Later stories have him showing up as an extra in the background (often if the scene takes place at Kadie's Bar) with one or two lines. Word of God states that he will be the focal point in future tales.
  • In the later years of the feature, Toni Turner, best friend to Millie the Model, seldom appeared, her role largely supplanted by "Millie's Redheaded Rival," the nastier and more colorful Chili Storm.
  • The third Flash, Wally West, was hit with this pretty hard. He started out as the original Kid Flash, before replacing Barry Allen as the Flash (And becoming the Trope Codifier for Sidekick Graduations Stick) following Crisis on Infinite Earths; even being used as the Flash over Barry in Justice League Unlimited. After that, Wally remained the main character in the Flash series until Infinite Crisis, when Bart Allen briefly took over the role for a year before Wally returned, at which point Wally took the series over again. Until Final Crisis brought Barry Allen Back from the Dead & he took the book back from Wally; and although they both remained active as the Flash, Wally only made two appearances in the Flash series after that point & was effectively reduced to appearing in crowd shots, until DC launched their line wide reboot & Wally was "taken off the table." Given that Wally is one of DC's most popular characters, fans were deeply unhappy with this.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Captain Metropolis in Watchmen. In the book, he's a hopelessly naive superhero who forms the Crimebusters in the 1960s and tries to convince them that they can solve all of the world's problems. In the movie, Ozymandias forms the team (re-named "The Watchmen"). Metropolis becomes an unspeaking character who briefly appears in a flashback.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kim Pine is a background Deadpan Snarker instead of Scott's best friend. Her Betty duties are reassigned to Knives.
  • Hakan and the alcoholics in Let the Right One In have significantly reduced roles in the film adaptation. They are removed entirely from the American version.
  • Cyclops in X-Men: The Last Stand, though there's a reason. This started happening even in the second film where he was captured fairly early on and didn't come back until the end. Rogue, in the same film as well
    • By the third, it's easier to name who isn't a case of this, due to the growth of the writers' obsession with Wolverine as the franchise went on. In all fairness, they were just following the comic's example.
    • It also doesn't help that they had to focus on background X-Men from the previous movies while introducing new ones. This resulted in Cyclops, Rogue, and Prof X being removed from the climax altogether. And considering Jean was on Magneto's side at the time, the ending battle only had three classic movie X-Men (one of which had been a bit of a sidekick up until then).
    • The difference between the movie version and the comics version is that with so many X-Books, comic Wolverine's role can increase without anyone else's role decreasing (with plenty of Lampshade Hanging on how he can be everywhere at once.) In the movies, we go from Wolvie getting a lot of focus in X1 to most of the focus in X2 to "you're Wolverine or you're a One-Scene Wonder" in X3.
    • Wolverine himself gets this in First Class. And he still manages to be a One-Scene Wonder!
  • Ann Lewis from RoboCop 3. Her actress, Nancy Allen, was reportedly Genre Savvy enough to notice how RoboCop was becoming a Cash Cow Franchise, and thus wouldn't sign on until they promised to kill her character off.
  • The character of Pete, the largely silent and essentially background droog in A Clockwork Orange, played quite a pivotal role in the last chapter of Anthony Burgess' original novel. However, since Kubrick's adaptation was based on a version of the book with the final chapter excised, Pete's role was rendered largely inconsequential.
  • All secondary characters in Tom Clany's novels that are produced into films. ALL OF THEM!
    • Dan Murray, who played a large role in Clear and Present Danger and all Jack Ryan Sr. books after that, is Killed in the Colomiban Cartel attack on the FBI Director, when in the book, he wasn't even there!
  • Star Wars:
    • Jar Jar Binks. Clearly set up as a Chewbacca for the prequels. Given only a cursory nod in the sequel and silently allowed to attend his dear friend's funeral in Episode III. No doubt resulting from the extreme distaste much of the audience had for him.
    • In the original cut of A New Hope, Biggs Darklighter (this X-wing pilot) had a much more prominent role. He's actually Luke's best friend from Tatooine who left to join the Imperial Navy, but the scenes where we learn this were deleted. In one scene, Luke meets him while on shore leave and he confesses that he's defecting to the Rebellion. In another, he and Luke get an emotional reunion before the attack on the Death Star, which makes his death in the battle a lot more tragic. The special edition restored his reunion scene with Luke, but left out the early scenes where we learn who he is.
  • The Star Trek films. Saavik, who was a major character in The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock, made a brief appearance in only one scene in The Voyage Home, and then was never seen again.
  • In Serenity the characters of Book and Inara are set up as not living on the ship anymore. Shepherd Book is an odd example as he's only in two scenes in the entire movie (the second of which kills him off), less than any of the other main characters from the series. However, they're both really good scenes that play a major part in shaping Mal's own story arc as well as shedding some light on the film's villain, so despite his limited screentime he ends up being one of the more important characters.
  • The Kevin Myers character suffers from this in the third American Pie film, commensurate with the rise of Breakout Character Stifler.
  • Rico and Oliver were reduced to a few lines at the beginning of the Hannah Montana movie.
  • The Resident Evil movies, based loosely off of the video game series of the same name, end up doing this to most canon characters in favor of their own. At best, they end up as sidekicks (Jill Valentine is still a semi-main character in Resident Evil Apocalypse) and at worst, they're truly reduced to extras (Badass Normals Carlos and Nicholai each get a bridge dropped on them, in the case of the latter with absolutely no fanfare).
  • LAPD officer Sergeant Al Powell is a big part of Die Hard, but none of the other films take place in Los Angeles. The second film offers him a gratuitous cameo, and the rest leave him out all together. Possibly justified in that Al had a family and was working the beat again by the second movie, so he wouldn't have been able to join John for more adventures.
  • Bagheera in Disney's The Jungle Book had a big role. In the sequel "The Jungle Book 2" he falls in the trope
  • Lois Lane in Superman III shows up in the beginning, says she's going to Bermuda and disappears for most of the movie while Supes hooks up with Lana Lang, turns evil from Kryptonite, splits in half and fights himself, fights a supercomputer and flies around carrying Richard Pryor! Then she comes back before the movie's over as if nothing happened! This was largely because Margot Kidder played hard to get with them after the director of the first film was fired from the franchise. It's a testament to how iconic the Superman mythos is in general, and Lois Lane in particular, that it wasn't worse
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: In which Arcee gets blown up real good. This after much expectation that she would actually do something of note.
    • At least Arcee's first movie appearance was in Revenge. Ironhide and the other Autobots from the first movie, except for Bumblebee and Optimus, of course, share something of a total of 10 lines between the lot of them. Meanwhile, these memorable characters were replaced with the Twins.
  • The Last Airbender naturally has this by virtue of trying to condense twenty episodes into two hours. However, it's especially noticeable with Momo, who, while admittedly a comic relief lemur, shows up just long enough to be introduced then does absolutely nothing but appear in the background of scenes for the rest of the movie. You seriously will forget he was in it at all. There's also Avatar Roku, who was a major player in the Avatar's quest in the show. In the movie, with the exception of a brief mention, he's completely removed and his mentor role to Aang is handled by a dragon...for some reason.
  • In The Lord of the Rings live action trilogy, perhaps the biggest casualty of this was Éomer, who was built up to be almost a Sixth Ranger to the trio of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the book of The Two Towers. He was offscreen for much of The Two Towers movie as his role was merged with a minor commander who leads The Cavalry rescue at the fortress of Helm's Deep. Conversely, his sister Éowyn takes the almost-Sixth Ranger role since she also goes to Helm's Deep instead of leading civilians to another fortress. Their uncle King Théoden also takes his memorable lines and moments in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
  • In the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King, Legolas and Gimli are reduced to background characters who have a few non speaking cameos, while Saruman doesn't appear at all.
  • Harry Potter
    • Percy Weasley. He wasn't all that big a player in the books, usually being involved in the side-plots, but his estrangement from his family was a poignant reminder of what Dumbledore always said about Voldemort's gift for dividing loyalties.
    • Up until Deathly Hallows, Charlie was mentioned a couple of times in the first film and Bill wasn't mentioned in the films at all. Bill and Charlie's only actual appearances in the first six films were in the photo of the Weasley family in Egypt, which was onscreen for about a second.
    • Tonks and Lupin only appear in one scene in Half-Blood Prince despite having a sub-plot in the book.
  • In an in-universe example, this happens to a character in Mrs. Doubtfire. Early in the movie, Mr. Sprinkles is the star of a children's show. At the end of the movie, he's replaced by Mrs. Doubtfire and is demoted to Mr. Mailman, a minor character.
  • Randy becomes this in Scream 2, before having a bridge dropped on him halfway through the film. Conversely, Cotton becomes an Ascended Extra in 2, only to be bridge-dropped at the beginning of 3.
  • Done purposefully by the filmmakers and fandom of the Police Story/Supercop movies (combinations of Sequel First and Market-Based Title confuse the nomenclature.) Jackie Chan was the original star but one sequel (called Supercop in North America) featured Michelle Yeoh as a supporting character. She was so popular that the next movie (Supercop 2 in North America) featured her as the star, with Chan's character appearing only in a humorous cameo.
  • The fate of Hefty Smurf in The Smurfs, who went from being one of the main characters in the comic books and the cartoon show to showing up only in a few scenes, replaced by Gutsy Smurf as The Big Guy because he wasn't macho (or Scottish) enough.
  • Elizabeth March aka Beth, the Ill Girl and Dead Little Sister, in The Film of the Book Little Women, played by Claire Danes.
  • Finding Nemo: Remember that pelican Gerald that swallows Marlin and Dory? Initially in production he and Nigel were originally going to be Those Two Guys, Nigel being the neat freak of the two, Gerald being scruffy and sloppy. In the finished film, Gerald's final screen time is less than a minute.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Harry Potter:
    • In the books and movies, Ginny Weasley in Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire. Gradually reverted in the later books, though.
    • Colin Creevey had a moderate supporting role in the fourth and fifth books and then vanished entirely until Deathly Hallows, when in only one or two lines it is explained that he was killed by Death Eaters when Hogwarts was attacked. As a muggle-born (much less a sixth year), he wasn't even supposed to be there, but the author Handwaved this by saying that he broke into the school to fight.
  • Happened to most of the characters from the first series of Warrior Cats. Characters like Sandstorm, Mistyfoot, Cloudtail and Graystripe (who was also Put on a Bus for three books) don't make many appearances from the second series onward. Firestar still has a noteworthy presence as Clan leader, but he still isn't as important as the main characters. The second series characters were a bit better about this (except for Tawnypelt, whose purpose in the plot seems to be one of the few cats in ShadowClan who isn't a jerk, and to give birth to relatively important characters, and Stormfur, who has been Put on a Bus twice), especially with Leafpool, who is still an important character after the end of the second series.
  • In Avalon: Web of Magic, The One Guy Zach appeared as a major character in the third book, at the end of which he seemed to be an important addition to the team. In books four to eleven, he's lucky if he gets a scene or two, or even a few lines of dialogue. However, the author says that he'll have a bigger role in the sequel trilogy, Shadow Warrior, so he may just be Out of Focus.
  • In the first two Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, Haruhi was a walking, talking, reality-warping McGuffin. Skipping ahead to the last few novels, and Haruhi seems to have been Put on a Bus. Koizumi says she's getting more normal, but we all know from the first few that he isn't exactly someone you'd trust too much. And everything comes from Kyon's point of view, and he's the poster child for Unreliable Narrator.
  • This happens to Ged in the Earthsea books. He's the main character first three books (being the eponymous Wizard of Earthsea), but after he loses his power at the end of The Farthest Shore, he becomes a peripheral figure in Tehanu and The Other Wind, having given way to Tenar and Tehanu.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this happened to Tahiri Veila for a while. During the latter part of the New Jedi Order, her arc was given a great deal of prominence and she was built up as a main character, but was barely an extra in the final book, and was a peripheral character during the Dark Nest Trilogy and the first half of Legacy of the Force. Then LOTF finally brought her back midway through.
  • In James Gurney's Dinotopia, the first book centered around Arthur Denison and his teenaged son Will. When they split up towards the end, the narrative followed Will on his quest to become a skybax rider. The second book, The World Beneath, dropped the epistolary frame and went with Two Lines, No Waiting, showing what both did. The third, Journey to Chandra, has father and son meet in the beginning and briefly in the middle, but otherwise Will is a bit part. Orianna, a crucial character in the second book and hinted to be Arthur's Love Interest, has the briefest cameo in the third.
  • In the The Heroes of Olympus, the Sequel Series to Percy Jackson and The Olympians, all the main characters from the original have been demoted to either cameos or Put on a Bus entirely. The only possible exceptions are Annabeth, who's Out of Focus as soon as the new trio leave on their quest, and Thalia, whose brother is the new lead.
  • Shan in Chronicles of Magravandias goes from being the viewpoint character of the second book to a barely important secondary character in the third. Secondary but still vital character Merlan disappears from the third book until the end.
  • Partly due to the castofthousands nature of the series this tends to happen to a lot of characters in the Honor Harrington novels, but a noteable example is Aubrey Wanderman, who has a major plot thread running through the entire 6th book, but then vanishes bar a cameo afterwards

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • After Richie Cunningham left Happy Days, his friend Potsie remained on the show in various different roles before getting a job working for Mr. Cunningham. His screen time, however, was greatly reduced and he wasn't present in several episodes because the writers struggled to find things for him to do.
  • On Boy Meets World Alan, Amy, and Morgan Matthews are demoted during seasons 6 and 7 when the main characters went to college.
  • Emily Prentiss got Demoted To Extra only for season six of Criminal Minds, as a result of some extraordinarily ill-advised Executive Meddling.
  • After Katey Segal's tragic miscarriage on Married With Children, where the producers had written her pregnancy into the storyline before being being forced to backtrack, the character of Peg Bundy was instead subjected to this trope during the second and third times Segal became pregnant during the show's run. Both times, Peggy was sent out in search of her missing father, and was only shown in voiceovers talking to her family on the telephone, or only shown in scenes where she didn't have to do anything strenuous and the viewers couldn't see her pregnancy. Happily, Segal's later two pregnancies were both successful, and when she was ready to return to work the producers brought Peggy home, much to Al's chagrin.
  • In Doctor Who, after Jack Harkness left the TARDIS and subsequently joined Torchwood, he made return appearances in the third and fourth series' season finales. Similarly, both Martha and Rose returned for the series 4 finale (along with Martha making prior guest appearances in both Doctor Who and Torchwood) after officially "leaving" their roles of companion.
    • A similar thing happened to Roger Delgado's incarnation of the Master. In his first season of Doctor Who, the character turned up in every single serial, from Terror of the Autons to The Daemons. Then, Delgado, while enjoying the show, became concerned that while officially a guest star, many casting directors considered him a de facto regular cast member of Doctor Who and therefore unavailable for other work. So in the next season dramatically scaled back his appearances, with an eye to making a splashy departure the following season. Due to his untimely death in Turkey, the character was quietly retired for a time.
  • After Don Knotts' departure from The Andy Griffith Show as a regular, his character of Barney Fife was brought back as a guest for at least one episode in each of the remaining seasons.
  • Though still listed as a main cast member, Lost's Desmond was commuting on a bus to make brief appearances in a few episodes in the fifth season. Still listed as a main cast member (on the episodes, not in the press releases) in season six... he showed up in the first episode, but didn't show up again until the second half of the season.
    • Frank Lapidus was also Demoted To Extra. He was a pretty major character during Season 4 and most of 5, but when Season 6 came around he seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle and became an extra body and frequent cheesy One-Liner. Pretty ironic considering Jeff Fahey wasn't promoted to the main cast until Season 6.
    • Made worse by the fact that we never really knew who Lapidus really was or where he came from, as he was one of the few main characters to never get his own flashback episode. The one flashback he did get was in an episode that he shared with several others, and all it did was explain how he got onto the freighter that came to the island.
  • Steven Hill was originally the main star of Mission: Impossible, but partway through the first season (after his returning to his roots of Orthodox Judaism meant that he refused to work after sundown on Fridays) he was downgraded to only appearing in a couple scenes per episode.
  • During the final season of The Bob Newhart Show, there are several episodes where Newhart himself has only one scene, which is not shared with any other characters (allowing him to perform one of his trademark one-sided telephone conversations).
  • Done by necessity with some characters from Last of the Summer Wine due to the actors' age catching up with them.
  • Very prevalent in the weird final season of Welcome Back, Kotter. Mr. Kotter only makes fleeting appearances, due to actor Gabe Kaplan not being very happy with the show. No one acted as though it were at all unusual that Mr. Kotter hardly seemed to be around any more. In fact, Gabe Kaplan still got top billing. At least Barbarino, who was also absent that season because John Travolta was doing movies, was explained away as having dropped out of school. To preserve some semblance of familiarity, the previously stay-at-home Mrs. Kotter became the Sweathogs' new adult supervisor in her role as the school secretary, or something.
  • This started happening to Kimberly in season three of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Notably, she didn't even appear in the season premiere (AKA the Poorly-Disguised Pilot for Saban's Masked Rider), and had her powers drained halfway through after being captured by Kat Hillard. Since Amy Jo Johnson actually told Saban she was going to quit beforehand, instead of clumsy camera tricks and an abrupt Suspiciously Similar Substitute, half the season was spent slowly easing her character out of the Pink Ranger position and setting up her successor.
    • After Skull was Demoted To Extra in Lost Galaxy, the writers apparently had trouble coming up with material for Bulk on his own. He only appears in a few episodes despite being in the opening credits.
  • In the seventh season of Red Dwarf, Arnold Rimmer only appeared in person in two episodes, then was relegated to flashbacks, dream sequences and—in one memorable case—a theme park ride based on his own diaries. The actor playing him, Chris Barrie, had decided to leave the show and had a very limited schedule, so he agreed to appear in a handful of episodes (and sequences that could be filmed out of order, such as ADR or flashbacks).
  • On House, Doctors Cameron and Chase were fired from the title character's team at the end of Season 3. In Season 4 they were shown to have taken new jobs at the hospital, while House recruited a new team.
    • Season 6 has a lot of demotions: Cameron becomes a long-distance extra, while Chase found his way back into the cast.
  • On Angel, Cordelia spent a good portion of her last season in a coma despite nominally being in the opening cast.
    • Speaking of Angel, his last season on Buffy The Vampire Slayer had very reduced screen time (though being in hell is quite a commute).
    • This also happened to Giles in the last two seasons of Buffy.
  • Thirty Rock. Josh Girard, who was prominent in season one as Jenna's male co-star, and reduced to an almost anonymous staff writer.
    • The 100th episode lamp shades this with the new actor Danny having replaced Josh on the show-within-a-show as the "other guy", no explanation for Josh's complete departure is given, and everybody keeps forgetting Danny wasn't the "other guy" that was with them from the beginning (even Danny starts to mix himself and Josh up under the effects of the gas leak).
    • Josh actually reappears briefly before that, when he throws a fit over how he's been neglected and ignored and quits - then later, auditions for his own old job back and loses to Danny. Danny ends up befalling the same fate anyway.
  • Stargate SG-1 examples:
    • Richard Dean Anderson's final season as a regular on Stargate SG-1 had him promoted to general where he had vastly reduced screen time.
    • Stargate SG-1: Continuum opens with an over-the-shoulder shot of Pentagon liaison Major Davis walking down the corridors of Stargate Command. He was a fairly major recurring character in the earlier seasons of the TV series, so you might expect him to have at least one scene, but nope, the camera quickly cuts to the main characters, and all you see of Davis in the movie is the back of his head for several seconds. The director did this as a joke, according to the DVD commentary.
    • Teal'c is the only member of the original SG-1 to not appear in Stargate Universe so far.
    • Meanwhile, of all the characters who survived the original movie, Feretti is the one the writers forget exists. In fact, despite dying in the first regular episode of SG-1, Kawalsky makes far more appearances than Feretti (Kawalsky gets Time Travel, Alternate Timelines, Parallel Universes, illusionary worlds. Feretti gets... one brief appearance in the first season finale, one mention in season three, and never, ever has his existence hinted at again.) Feretti's lack of appearance was initially attributed to the actor having other commitments, but SG-1 far outlived Brent Stait's role in Andromeda, and Brent Stait has even appeared in Stargate Atlantis as someone who was not Feretti. He's been treated much better by Fanfic: the show's sheer lack of love for him kept him on the minds of enough fans that he's got plenty of fanwork dedicated to him.
    • * On Stargate Atlantis Weir and Ford did this before being dropped entirely Weir's actress could not return to do any more episodes (despite the writers having plans for a longer arc involving her), so they pulled (another) The Other Darrin on her (the character's 2nd time) before having her Put on a Bus. Ford just wasn't very interesting to them, so despite bringing him back several times he was eventually dropped.
  • Family Matters: The character of Judy Winslow, especially in Season 3 until she was eliminated without explanation completely in Season 4; she usually appeared only in scenes involving the entire family or to move a plot along. To a lesser extent, this also happened with Rachel Crawford (Thelma Hopkins, who was involved with other projects), despite making several bit appearances from Season 6 onward.
  • Step by Step: The character of Brendan Lambert, the youngest son of family patriarch Frank Lambert, was given fewer plots and lines before being eliminated completely by the sixth season. To a lesser extent, this was also the case with Mark (the nerdy middle son of Carol Foster), although Mark would continue to appear sporactically until the series ended, usually given one-liners or in family scenes whereby his absence would be conspicuous. These reduced appearances were perhaps in part due to the shift in focus on the female siblings, especially one-time tomboy Al (after Christine Lakin grew in desirability as she became an adult); while many of the remaining stories were 5-year-old Lily (who was born in 1995 and was age-advanced to create "little girl" stories).
  • When Mash made it to the little screen, several characters from the movie had this happen to them (when they weren't eliminated entirely): Spearchucker, Ugly John, and Lieutenant Dish were all reduced to second-tier status, and all were gone from the show well before the end of the first season. The character of Spearchucker was supposedly written out for greater historical accuracy, as the writers claimed there was no record of African-American surgeons serving in Korea. (There were, in fact, black doctors in Korea, and Spearchucker was based on an African-American doctor Richard Hornberger heard about at the 8055.)
  • In Kamen Rider Kiva, Basshaa is the only character to not get a specific arc, and never gets a Fever attack when Kiva upgrades to Emperor form. In the next series, Kamen Rider Decade, Basshaa gets his ass blown away effortlessly in each fight—in the second, he doesn't even get a single shot off!
  • Happy Days:
    • Chuck Cunningham, Richie's rarely seen older brother in the first two seasons. Chuck, usually seen only in transition scenes where basketball was the discussion, was eventually eliminated altogether. (At the same time, the character of The Fonz grew in popularity, and many of the storylines began focusing on him.)
    • Poor Potsie is the ultimate. Initially one of the major characters as Richie's pal, he stuck around when Richie & Ralph left the series. Some weak storylines had him as a "pledge" to Howard's Men's Club, but he ultimately vanished by the last season. He's one of the only cast members not to be there for the finale!
    • Also poor Lori-Beth, who is a minor recurring character who later becomes Richie's steady girl. When Richie left, she stuck around, getting married to him over the phone, and giving birth to Richie's son when he was away. Eventually, she just stopped appearing entirely unless it was a special occasion, having little way to play off the others.
  • Leoben, in the last half season of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. He wasn't even used when they needed background Cylons.
    • He does get a larger role in The Plan, the feature length episode produced after the main series had finished. It was, however, set before the end of season 2, so quite what happened to Leoben (and the other Twos) is never addressed.
  • Once Yutaka Ishinabe, Roksaburo Michiba, and Koumei Nakamura retired from their positions as Iron Chefs, they were demoted to extras, only appearing for specials.
  • Micah in Season 3 of Heroes. He goes from being a series regular to only appearing in a few episodes of Season 3 after his storyline was dumped from most of the show.
    • Since Heroes has Loads and Loads of Characters, every single series has demoted at least one of them to extra so far. And completely written out a couple of others.
    • The Haitian in particular suffered badly from this. Never a prominent character, by the final season most of his appearances were reduced to a single scene every few episodes. On at least one occasion he didn't even get a line - rather, he simply stood in the background to imply that the good guys would use his power in some way (not that they ever actually showed it happening).
  • Kim Bauer after Season 3 of 24, although as she was The Scrappy in the first three seasons most fans didn't seem to mind.
  • Much of the main cast from the first 4 seasons of The West Wing were Demoted to Extra as the presidential race took precedence over the running of the White House in the latter seasons. Of particular note, perhaps, is Toby, who was summarily dismissed by the president, and appeared in less than half the episodes of the final season, and those for very small amounts of time (despite Richard Schiff being paid for all of them...).
  • Kay Howard on Homicide after her promotion to Sergeant, especially in Season 5 where she does nothing until the season finale, after which she's Put on a Bus. To a lesser extent, Munch from Season 4-on and Bayliss for most of Season 7.
  • Jack McCoy on Law and Order after getting promoted to DA. Interestingly, this was at Sam Waterston's request—when Fred Dalton Thompson left, Waterston campaigned pretty hard for McCoy to get the promotion.
  • In the first half of the first season of Law and Order Special Victims Unit Eliot Stabler's four children were regular characters, however after that they became infrequent recurrers showing up about once season. Two of his daughters have not even been seen since the seventh season and between that and the first they had about 3 appearances each. This oldest son (who is the twin of one of the daughters) has remained showing up about once a year and later had a Day in The Limelight, and his middle daughter had a subplot about her being a bipolar thieving drug addict.
    • The entire rest of the supporting cast on SVU has fallen victim to this. Most noticeably are Munch, Fin, and Huang, who used to get entire subplots in every episode and now don't even appear in half of them. Cragen might have a scene or two, and Liz might have a line per episode. Nowhere near the screentime of Stabler, Benson, and the ADA (Alex, Casey, or whoever the rotating one may be).
  • Carrie Ingalls on Little House On The Prairie, who went from a major character in the first four seasons, to walking scenery during the next four. She was lucky to get a line once an episode... then once a month... then once a season.
  • In Robin Hood both Much and Allan-a-Dale, who were hugely important characters in seasons one and two, ended up being lucky if they got three lines each in season three. They were shunted aside in favor of Kate.
  • The original version of Survivors did this with several characters as the focus of the show shifted from season to season. Jenny in particular started out as one of the principal characters, faded away almost completely, then came back to star in the third and final season.
  • On Community John Oliver's character, Prof. Ian Duncan was initially featured in early promotional material as the main professor character in the show, but after a handful of episodes has essentially disappeared, with Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) essentially taking his place. Oliver did return in the first season finale, and took over as replacement anthropology professor in the next season. Despite being featured more than he was in the first season, he only turns up in a handful of Season 2 episodes.
    • The showrunners wanted him to appear more, but Oliver was unwilling to move to California (where the show is filmed) due to his obligations to The Daily Show in New York, so his part was pared down.
  • The Wire
    • Jimmy McNulty from The Wire in season four, going from being the defacto star in the first three seasons. The actor playing McNulty wanted some time off to do film and theater and spend time with his family, this was explained in series by him deciding to leave the Major Crimes Unit after his adversary was killed before he could take him down, becoming a patrolman and mending his ways while he was at it. He got off the bus in season five, though.
    • In the fifth season of HBO's , many of the supporting (and even major) characters from the previous seasons appear during several episodes of the series, largely as a reminder that life in Baltimore keeps on going, even when the major plot arcs end. Roland Prezbylewski, the other three main child characters from season four, Cutty Wise, Nick Sobotka, Major Colvin and several others show up in different scenes. More notably, however, various characters who were glimpsed in previous seasons also return, including Clay Davis' limo driver, several dock workers (who are now homeless) and former members of Avon Barksdale's gang who were prominent in the first and second seasons.
    • Similarly, since the fourth season dealt with the school system, this inevitably led to less focus being spent on the actual police force; which was the forte of Jimmy McNulty (arguably the show's main character). He's even absent for an episode.
  • Since Season 4 of iCarly started, Freddie's mom Mrs. Benson, has been used sparingly. It's possible that Gibby being promoted to the main cast is the reason for this.
  • During the first season of Beverly Hills, 90210, Scott Scanlon is David Silvers' best friend. As David becomes accepted by Brandon and Brenda's friends, Scott is pushed into the background since he doesn't fit in with that group. He eventually develops a liking for country music and accidentally kills himself in front of David while playing with his father's gun in a second-season episode.
  • Happened to a lot of characters on Degrassi the Next Generation, because the show has Loads and Loads of Characters (and they can only focus on so many of them). The most notable example would probably have to be Toby Issacs. He was a major character in the first 2 seasons. Come season 3, he became more of a background character and his screen time was significantly reduced (only getting a total of two major story lines from seasons 3-7 while it seemed like some characters would have a new story line every other episode). He was even removed from the opening credits during his final 2 seasons, before being Put on a Bus for good in season 8.
  • With the second Retool of 3-2-1 Contact in 1986, the seasons 2-4 cast was relegated to a few cameo appearances.
  • Babylon 5: Two of the most-seen recurring villains in the first season, the Raiders and the Home Guard. The Raiders' lack of presence is due to a number of major defeats they suffered in the same episode where the Shadows are seen for the first time, though they begin to appear again later on. The Home Guard get one mention in season 2 before not being seen or referred to again.
    • To a lesser degree, Lou Welch, one of the low-ranking security guards on the station, gradually disappears in season 2 as Zack Allen begins to get more and more screen time.
  • Space: 1999: In season 2, Sandra Benes went from being one of the senior staff to barely having any lines when she appeared. That is, if she was even supposed to be the same character. Oddly, she was called Sahn during season 2. Her original role seemed to be given to another Asian characeter named Yasko.
  • Especially in Season One, Merlin had a habit of taking the names of reasonably significant Arthurian characters, like Pellinore, and giving them to random knights, who were then killed.
    • In series four, Gaius is given virtually nothing to do except be Mr. Exposition. True, that was always his role, but he was also given several character-centric episodes in the past. This was not necessarily a bad thing, as the introduction of the knights of the Round Table at the end of series three meant that the show was juggling Loads and Loads of Characters, and one of the themes of the season was passing on the torch to the younger generation.
  • On Boy Meets World, Mr. Turner appeared less often and had less impact on storylines in the show's fourth season before disappearing completely by the fifth season.
  • Jorja Fox on CSI: Sara left, then came back, but though she's credited as a regular, she doesn't appear in every single episode.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Keyboardist Ian Stewart was an original member of The Rolling Stones, but when they began recording in 1963 their manager, Andrew "Loog" Oldham, had him officially demoted to road manager, mainly because his straitlaced, short-haired look didn't fit the image Oldham was trying to cultivate for the band. Because the band still liked him, Stewart did continue to appear on the Stones' recordings, though, and occasionally performed with them on stage until his death. He by any meaningful measure was a full member of the band, so his demotion really only was relevant in promotional material.
  • Blues helped to create Rock and Roll and yet never sees much in the way of thanks or tribute from any of the sub-genres that sprouted from its existence. Blues, being characteristically not particularly glory-seeking is probably okay with this.
    • A lot of early Rock and Roll and classic rock hits, especially from the British Invasion, were covers of old Blues songs. The similarities are so close, Sam Phillips famously said "Rock and Roll is just the Blues sped up."
  • Roger Waters-I mean Pink Floyd did this to Richard Wright, as he was no longer a member of the band durring The Wall but still played on that album. Their next album, The Final Cut, lacked him altogether. David Gilmour brought him back, but still as an extra on the first Waters-less album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Then The Division Bell (the final album of the band) credited Wright as a band member again.
    • Before that, the band did this to Syd Barrett. He only appears on a few tracks on their second album.
  • Alan Myers was the drummer for Devo up until the mid-eighties, after they recorded Shout. By that point Devo had made him somewhat obsolete on record, relying increasingly on drum machines rather than acoustic drums, so Myers left essentially out of creative boredom.
  • Malin Berggren used to be the lead vocalist of Ace of Base for the first two studio albums, then got more and more into the background [1] and her sister Jenny had to fill the void, and eventually quit the band (and her sister a few years later as well).


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • This happened to a number of Peanuts characters: Shermy, Patty, Violet, Freida, Pig-Pen. For example, in the 1980's and 1990's, Patty (not to be confused with the more prominent Peppermint Patty) appeared in a total of three comic strips. Word of God said Patty and Violet got the shaft because Lucy worked better as a female bully character, so it would be too redundant to have all three of them featured prominently.
    • In the latter half of the 1990s this had happened to nearly the entire cast. By the end of the strip's run, the focus had boiled down to four major story lines: the misadventures of Rerun (with Snoopy or Lucy acting as the Straight Man depending on the plot), the day-to-day life of Snoopy's desert-dwelling brother Spike, the travels of Snoopy's other brothers Andy and Olaf, and Charlie Brown and Franklin (who had essentially replaced Linus) talking about life while leaning on a brick wall. Charlie Brown's sister Sally would occasionally get her own Sunday strip, but the other characters (particularly Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and the already-mentioned Linus) rarely appeared.
  • On The Fastrack used to star Bob Shirt, but compared to the other characters, he was boring. For many years now, he has appeared almost exclusively in ensembles—the only exception being him complaining about his reduced role at Fastrack. Another Bill Holbrook comic, Safe Havens, used to star Matt Havens. He hasn't appeared at all in the last decade.
  • After the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Boondocks became less of a life comedy strip and commented more on world news. It takes few to commentate so the strip neglected everyone except Huey, Riley, Granddad, Tom and Caesar. Eventually a few characters were brought back though, Jazmin was mad that Huey wasn't worried about her while she was gone.
  • The London Evening Standard used to run a cartoon called Clive about a boy of 17-18 and his various escapades. However, the strip began focusing less on him and more on his ten-year-old sister Augusta, until he was such a minor character that the strip was renamed Augusta. It was recognisably the same strip, especially since it still had all the Running Gags of its previous incarnation.
  • This happens all the time in Newspaper Comics - the long running American strip Nancy was initially based around the title character's aunt Fritzi (the original title was Fritzi Ritz).
  • This eventually happened to Cutter John in Bloom County. Though he didn't disappear like the scores of other characters who were dropped from the comic, his role was dramatically reduced by the strip's end (Word of God being that wheelchairs are difficult to draw within the confines of a comic strip panel).
  • Luann was initially a comic largely about the titular character and her classmates and family. Once Brad, her brother, started becoming more and more important to the strip, gaining his own storylines, most of the teenage cast was downgraded significantly. Even Luann's best friends Bernice and Delta rarely appear, to say nothing of poor Knute and Crystal, themselves Satellite Characters of others.
    • They seem to have moved into a pattern: Brad and Luann alternate focus each week. Luann's storylines tend to alternate between using her parents and using her friends. Every other month we usually get a week focusing on Gunther and Knute.
  • Once upon a time, back in 1919, there was a comic called "Take Barney Google f'rinstance". The titular character was a diminutive gambler with a gigantic angry wife. The wife was written out, and Barney got himself a horse named Spark plug, and the strip was renamed "Barney Google and Spark Plug". In 1934, Barney found himself deep in the Appalachians, where he met a hill-billy named "Snuffy Smith". And the strip was renamed, again, "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith". Here Barney would live for 20 years, until he left in 1954... But the comic stayed with Snuffy, and Barney became a rare guest in the comic carrying his name, his last two appearances being in 1997 and 2012.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • The Pro Wrestling industry term for this trope is "getting buried." It refers to the worked lowering (relegation) of a popular wrestler's status in the eyes of the fans. It is the act of a promoter or booker causing a wrestler to lose popularity by forcing him to lose in squash matches, continuously, and/or participate in unentertaining or degrading storylines. It can be a form of punishment for real-life backstage disagreements or feuds between the wrestler and the booker, the wrestler falling out of favor with the company, or the wrestler receiving an unpopular gimmick that causes him to lose credibility regardless of win-loss record. It is also a result of a company seeing a wrestler as having no potential or charisma. The term can also be applied to a wrestling company that jumps the shark, rapidly loses ratings, fans, and finally becomes bankrupt. According to many critics, the most infamous burial of a company was The Finger-Poke of Doom, a pivotal incident in the Monday Night Wars that took place in January 4, 1999 on WCW Monday Nitro at the Georgia Dome.
  • This also happens to some wrestlers towards the end of their careers. They get older and/or less interesting, but still have enough respect from the company that they aren't flat out fired. Instead they slide down the card to mainly work on the opening matches and put the new guys over. Tito Santana and Val Venis are two of the best examples of this. At his high point Venis was an upper midcarder who actually tested the main event waters by feuding with Mick Foley, but he spent the last 4 years of his career in WWE working opening matches, working Heat, and rarely winning.
  • This happens to many women's wrestlers, especially after their Playboy pictorials come out and everybody's already seen them naked. Torrie Wilson suffered a very painful decline from "Top Tier" star to "Still on TV Every week" star to "In a stable" star to "maybe shows up on TV every once in a while" star. Candice Michelle and Maria Kanellis have similarly been released. Non-pictorial-related Divas include Victoria, who went from top-tier Women's Champion to a jobber to new girls before quitting. Molly Holly had all but vanished by the time she requested her release.
  • Both played straight and inverted by The Acolytes. Ron "Faarooq" Simmons was the first African-American WCW World Heavyweight Champion and had one of the longest single reigns of the title (at 150 days). In the WWF, he became famous for leading the stable "The Nation of Domination," which was also responsible for jump starting the careers of Mark Henry, D'Lo Brown, and most famously, The Rock. After the Nation disbanded, he found success in the Acolytes (later the Acolytes Protection Agency) with John Bradshaw Layfield, who had several failed singles pushes beforehand. After the APA split up, JBL became a world champion with the Intercontinental, United States, and WWE Championships, while at the same time Simmons was reduced to making short cameos watching backstage promos and saying "Damn!"
  • Happen to many WCW wrestlers who joined up with the WWF/WWE following falling of the WCW. Save for Rey Mysterio, and to a lesser degree Booker T, none of them managed to find much success in the WWE. In fact, Booker T himself also happens to be a pretty egregious example since he went from being one of the top wrestlers near the end of WCW, to not receiving a decent push in the WWE for about 5 years.


Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

  • After the untimely deaths of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, most of the Muppets they once played were handed down to new performers, starting with A Muppet Christmas Carol. However, Henson's Rowlf and Dr. Teeth and Hunt's Janice and Scooter, all formerly major characters with sizable roles in previous Muppet productions, would be reduced to non-speaking background appearances or not appear at all. The new movie The Muppets may reverse this, as all four characters are as prominent as ever in the various trailers.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The priest who plays a minor part in The Most Happy Fella played a considerably larger role in They Knew What They Wanted. Whereas in The Most Happy Fella he silently approves of Tony's resolution to have "plenty bambini" by his wife-to-be, in They Knew What They Wanted he objects strenuously to Tony taking a non-Catholic wife, in return to which Tony accuses the Church of coveting his inheritance.
  • In the original film The Little Shop of Horrors, the first customer is a recurring character who appears throughout. In the stage musical, however, he only appears in two scenes, one of which is a background cameo.
  • Benvolio doesn't appear in the last two acts of Romeo and Juliet, despite having been quite important in the first three. He doesn't even show up to cry over his dead cousin.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Bionicle has many examples, even after its Merchandise-Driven nature has faded. For instance, the Turaga: major side characters initially with a great story-importance, then got two full years devoted to their early lives, but from '06 onwards, they barely appeared in any scenes, and now... Where are they?


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Donkey Kong was only a playable character for the first Donkey Kong Country; after that he was just someone who needed rescuing.
  • Donkey Kong was a main playable character in Mario Party until the fifth installment, since which he became a Mini Game sponsor. And in Mario Party DS, he was just a statue adorning the third board (enchanted to be such according to the Story Mode). A Koopa Kid was a playable character for a couple games as well.
  • The Arbiter from Halo 2 going into Halo 3 gets moved from an intriguing character to a one-line-wonder with the intelligence of a slug. Notwisthstanding that your co-op partner plays as him, meaning for such players the Arbiter is the Chief's ertswhile ally and baddass-in-arms.
  • Sonic Adventure 2 had comparatively very little of Sonic himself. Also counts as Artifact Title and Supporting Protagonist. One Penny Arcade strip brings this up.

Gabe: Hey, I think you gave me Tails and Knuckles' Shitty, Stupid Adventure by mistake. I only got to play as Sonic, like four times.

  • Strategy RPGs with Loads and Loads of Characters such as Tactics Ogre or Knights in The Nightmare do this, and they have reason for it. Due to some of them having Final Death, the story is purposely written so that they could have been killed off at any point in the story after recruitment, whereas the characters whose death will result in a game over (namely the player character) will remain in the story at all times.
    • In some JRPGs, particularly those where you can change the makeup of your party, characters often stop developing after you recruit them, particularly because they do not necessarily have to be present at any given scene.
    • Fire Emblem has their own way of dealing with this. If a character is vital to the story, they'll get critically wounded and will never be able to take part in battles again, though they'll still be present for the story segments. It's still common for characters to get demoted out of the story once they're recruited, thus allowing them to die their Final Death, though.
  • In the Super Robot Wars pastiche game Battle Moon Wars, this is transferred from Sacchin to Servant Assassin instead. All Servants made it to the game, even True Assassin, who only appears in one route and is obviously less popular. Sacchin is at least playable and can be acquired. But Assassin wasn't even included in any of those series, not even as Caster's Servant. Kotomine is also conspicuously absent, even though the plot explains why he isn't there. Then there's the representation of Kara no Kyoukai...we only got Ryougi, Touko, and Araya.
  • The King of Fighters demotes the protagonist of the previous arc for the following arc. Kyo's importance to the plot during the Orochi saga was downgraded to make room for K' in the NESTS saga and then K' himself moved down to make way for Ash Crimson in the Tales of Ash arc. After being demoted the character continues to add to the story (Kyo was used as a base for a series of clones in the NESTS arc and K' got to fight Mukai in 2003) but it's the current main character who gets the spotlight and wraps up the saga.
  • The American Sports Team from The King of Fighters '94, only returned as playable characters in one game and that was KOF '98. Their other appearances in the series were mostly just background and ending cameos.
  • Every character in Sonic the Hedgehog who isn't Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, or Eggman had this happen to them. Lately even some of these characters are being pushed to the background. Knuckles and Shadow were not even in Sonic Unleashed. The two and Amy also didn't even appear in Sonic Colors.[2]
  • Super Robot Wars OG Gaiden hammers this trope to one of Duminuss' Homunculi, Laliar, the only male. In his origin game (SRW R), at least he gets to get involved in the grand schemes along with his siblings, joining some factions to screw them up. But in OG Gaiden... Tis gets to deal with the Wendigo and G Thunder Gate, Despinis gets to guard a Brainwashed Lamia, and later ends up surviving, unlike in the original series... and Laliar? He's relegated into just contacting Tis and Despinis from afar in case they're about to screw up, and doesn't do much in the grander scheme (obviously, he had a bigger role in his original game). Makes this editor wonder if Duminuss prefers an Fundamentally Female Cast for her main Homunculus.
    • A similar case can be seen with the Bridge Bunnies. Early in OG 1, Rio becomes a pilot and stays that way until the end of OG 2. After Daitetsu's death, Eita and Tetsuya end up taking charge and commanding the Kurogane to the best of their abilities. And poor Eun, best friend to the Hiryu Kai's captain Lefina? She is just there to give bits of information every so often, lacking even the hint of a Day in The Limelight.
  • In Fire Emblem, most characters cease to have dialogue by the first 1-3 chapters after you've recruited them. Although slightly subverted by the revolutionary character development advent of Support Conversations in the majority of later games (including almost every game released in English, save for a single oddity and a sequel), as well as the base conversations of FE 9 and FE 10 (which incidentally served the character development purposes in FE 10).
  • A variation in Super Robot Wars W, where material (characters, missions, etc) for Gundam SEED are fairly scarce. Aside from a skirmish against Mwu La Flaga, a later mission where you get to play as him, and a couple of cameos, SEED's events and stories don't even appear until halfway through the game, and even then, are mostly passed over in favor of it's spinoff manga Gundam SEED Astray. A particularly glaring example being the Artemis Base battle. When the Zaft forces show up, the Archangel actually leaves as soon as it exits the base, leaving the Nadesico B and the Junk Guild and Original Generation crew to deal with them.
  • In Super Robot Wars K, Mazinger Z gets zero plot aside from some involvement of Dr. Hell in the Opening Scroll, and Great Mazinger doesn't even show up despite both Mazins being always together. Probably Justified in that Mazinger and co. have been on a bajillion games already. Then again, it's the same game that gave a war story anime with 50 episodes only 6 levels of plot, but a 13 episode one where half are Monster-of-the-Week format got 8, so maybe it's just the story wasn't K's best point (Japanese reviewers agree with this).
  • Nippon Ichi has a variation of its own: In Makai Kingdom, the game offered a fight against Asagi, the protagonist of their next planned game as a Bonus Boss. Unfortunately, the game got scrapped. Instead of trying again, they've left poor Asagi wandering from game to game, bemoaning her bad luck, and occasionally trying to take over the game from the main characters.
    • Speaking of Makai Kingdom, there's also Zetta's original body. To explain, Zetta loses his original body in the beginning of the game and turns into a book. He regains his original body at the end of the game (it's also an Optional Party Member - long story) but in his subsequent appearances in other Nippon Ichi titles he only appears in book form. This is finally averted in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten
  • Happened to most of the Street Fighter II cast during the Street Fighter Alpha series and the Vs. series, as most of them (such as Balrog, Vega, Fei-Long, and E. Honda) only appeared in ending or stage cameos. But each new Alpha and Vs. game gradually brought back characters from II until the console version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 featured all the remaining characters needed to fill out the entire Super Street Fighter II Turbo roster. On the other hand, the arcade version of Street Fighter IV only had the original twelve from the first Street Fighter II in addition to all the new characters (and Akuma) and it wasn't until the console version (and the later Super editions) that characters from the Alpha and III games (along with the "New Challengers" from Super Street Fighter II) were included in IV as well.
  • If a Versus game or some Mascot Fighter by Capcom (Capcom Fighting Jam or Pocket Fighter) is going to a feature one of the Darkstalkers, it's usually going to be Morrigan or one of the other female characters in the series (Felicia, Hsien-Ko, and B.B. Hood). Q-Bee is not as lucky and Lilith often gets upstaged/overshadowed by Morrigan. They did use Demitri for Capcom Fighting Jam and SVC Chaos, as well as Anakaris in Fighting Jam and Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Lord Raptor is a Recurring Boss in Namco X Capcom, Donovan manages to get into Puzzle Fighter, Pyron appears in Capcom Fighting Evolution and Jedah appears in Capcom Fighting Evolution and in Cross Edge as a non-playable boss. Besides cameos in Pocket Fighter, J. Talbain, Rikuo, Bishamon and Sasquatch get nothing, while Victor and Huitzil have gone forgotten.
    • Q-Bee and Huitzil also appear in Namco x Capcom, though as minor enemies.
  • The Capcom vs. SNK series does this a lot. Popular characters expected to appear (such as Andy Bogard, Robert Garcia, Goro Daimon, Yang, Jill Valentine Ralf and Clark and even Mega Man) either get cameo appearances or don't appear at all (Though it should be noted that Capcom's two entries in the series restricted themselves to fighting game characters; SNK's games, not so much.). Some characters who appeared in the handheld title, Match of the Millennium (such as Felicia, B.B. Hood, Akari and Leona) appeared in that game and then got cameos or nothing. On the plus side, the Card Fighters series contains nearly all major characters (and several minor ones) from practically all Capcom and SNK games... in the forms of cards, as it is a trading card game series.
  • Within the Versus series, there's the Servbots, who started out as both Tron Bonne's helpers and independent joke characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, reappeared as Tron's non-playable helpers in Namco x Capcom, and finally got stuck in background cameos in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
  • Spoofed in the Tales (series) Drama CD Viva Tales of! to promote Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. It got Veigue Lungberg of Tales of Rebirth, being the protagonist and all, in the interview. Then he finds out that he's not in the actual game (with other characters like Eugene Gallardo and Annie Barrs actually in). Cue to him crying and shouting CLAAAAAAIIIIIRREEEEE!!!!!!! (He got in the sequel, though).
  • Although Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is meant to be a sequel to the game, practically nobody other than Cloud, Vincent and Tifa get any screen time, so practically the entire cast falls into this trope.
    • Ironic in Vincent's case, as he was an Optional Party Member in the game while his role in the film is much larger than regular characters like Barrett, Cid and Red.
    • Dirge of Cerberus fixed this for many characters, while Cloud and Tifa were given nary more then a cameo, Barret unfortunately was grouped with them. Red XIII meanwhile was by far the least shown named character in both installments and can barely even be called an Extra at all by now.
  • Eddy Gordo from Tekken became an extra costume for Christie in Tekken 4. It's a shame because this meant that the storyline he had in Tekken 3 was cut off far too soon in favour of one which also included Christie. Many people complained and so he returned as a separate character in Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection, and later in Tekken 6.
  • Final Fantasy XII winds up doing this to the so-called "hero" Vaan and his girlfriend Penelo a quarter of the way through the game once the other party members join and steal the plot. You'll hear nary a peep out of them for many hours until the end of the end, where they only finally get a starring role again in the epilogue.
    • Word of God is Basch was supposed to be the main character, which makes more sense considering the vast majority of game events revolve around him.
  • Prior to the release of the game, Jihl Nabaat was given quite a bit of attention for an Extra from the Final Fantasy XIII trailers and information released on them. Just when you think she would play a major part in the game and fight you, she gets killed off in a rather unceremonious fashion by Galenth Dysley before she has the chance to do so. Talk about getting taken out like some punk.
    • Final Fantasy XIII was also originally meant to have seven party members, but implementation problems led to Serah being reduced to an NPC. This led to Lightning becoming a more serious character which then led to Fang becoming a woman.
    • In the sequal, the entire original cast suffers from this, but especially Sazh. While the others make either physical appearences (Hope, Snow, Lightning) or are significant to the backstory (Fang and Vannile) Sazh is only reffernced a few times in passing, last being seen flying an airship and disappearing mysteriously. (Though one of Snow's temporal messages implies he say him floating around in the Historia Crux...)
  • Namine and Axel were major characters in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, but their roles were greatly reduced in Kingdom Hearts II (probably because, once Roxas was gone and Sora's memories were restored, Namine didn't have much else she could possibly do except remerge with Kairi, and Axel was supposed to die in the Prologue as a tutorial boss, but he was Saved by the Fans and his role extension had to be small or it would clash with what was already plotted out).
    • After Kingdom Hearts II, Donald and Goofy, who were consistent main characters alongside Sora, have been put more and more Out of Focus, amounting to cameos in Birth by Sleep, unlockable multiplayer mode characters in 358/2 Days, Guest Star Party Members in Coded, and background furnishing in Dream Drop Distance save for the VERY end. Also after Kingdom Hearts II, Kairi was dropped from all importance while just Sora and Riku recieved further focus, but the secret ending of 3D firmly suggests that this will be changing.
  • Odin gets this pretty bad in Odin Sphere, despite being the title character! Despite making a decent role in everyone's storyline (except Cornelius', where he essentially just cameos early on), and all of the truly massive amounts of storyline hyping he gets, Odin gets knocked off rather easily at the end of the game, where he gets overwhelmed by the undead and killed by a Halja.
  • Poor, poor Rayman. Originally the star of his self titled franchise, he has slowly been getting shoved to the sides by those damned Rabbids. This hijacking has gotten to the point where the latest announced game is a Katamari-like game starring the Rabbids. Rayman is nowhere to be found, even in the title.
    • Luckily he got back in the spotlight in Rayman Origins.
  • Several characters in the Samurai Shodown series, including Earthquake, Wan-Fu, Genan, Sieger, Jubei and Cham Cham (although a few of them returned as playable characters in later games, and Jubei was included in certain ports of Samurai Shodown III).
  • This happens mid-game for everybody but the main protagonist of Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. Characters are given compelling, interesting motivations and backstories, but the minute they decide to join the party as anything other than guest characters, the only time they say a word or even show up outside of battles is when you decide to sacrifice them to your Plume.
  • About half the cast of playable characters in Star Ocean: Till The End of Time falls into this. Nel, Albel, and Mirage are fairly important characters in disk 1, then in disk 2 fade into obscurity. Adray, Peppita and Roger do this as well, though they never had a particularly major hand in the plot to begin with (Roger being the only 100% optional character). Since you are only allowed to bring along two characters out of Nel, Albel, Roger, and Peppita, the game has to fit their dialogue in rather awkwardly, and the other characters rarely if ever acknowledge their presence. Mirage is perhaps the most painful example, however - she doesn't even get this courtesy, since she was added in a version after the original released in Japan, and as such essentially gets no dialogue at all after she joins the party!
  • This fate eventually befalls most of the secondary playable characters in Xenogears, but a notable example involves the NPC Hammer. During the Kislev story arc, Hammer is almost omni-present. His network of black-market goods, information, and mechanical skill are vital in eventually helping the main character escape imprisonment. After the escape, Hammer virtually disappears for twenty-odd game hours, only re-appearing near the end of the Solaris arc. He understands that he has been Demoted to Extra, and the knowledge drives him to cross the Moral Event Horizon at a certain point.
  • Xenosaga has MOMO Mizrahi, a little Realian girl. In the first two games she was one of the most important characters because her father/creator Joachim placed the "Y-Data" (which included coordinates to a planet that EVERYBODY wanted to get to) inside her mind. One of the main points of the first game is to get MOMO to a research facility where this data can be analyzed, and in the second game that actually occurs. She also serves as a foil and love interest for Junior (she was modeled after his old romantic interest, Sakura, who happened to be Joachim's biological daughter, effectively making MOMO her sister). And...then the third game comes, and she has very few lines and one or maybe two scenes that actually give her any real attention. It's as if she lost any real importance once they got the Y-Data out of her and just stayed on as a playable character because people were used to her being around.
  • Many of the PC-98 era characters in the Touhou series. Where'd you go, Mima?
  • Isn't it sad, Justice? After the first game, sure its understandable you're dead, but you barely had any lasting impact beyond possibly being Dizzy's mother. Even this wiki has forgotten it was YOU who was the first to use the Gamma Ray move in a GG game. Also, Kliff Undersn, who after GG1, story-wise, dies offscreen with barely any mention why or how. When they do appear they're probably only added due to fan demand and are usually removed due to balance issues.
  • Victor Sullivan in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, who was a major character in the first game but only accompanies you for two chapters of the second before deciding he wants out. In "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," Sullivan becomes a main character once again, only for the main female leads of 2, Elena and Chloe, to be demoted to extras.
  • Ogres suffered this in the Warcraft series. In Warcraft II they were the most important part of the Horde next to orcs and the only non-orcs who led orc clans and there were several important ogre-mage characters. In Warcraft III they were no longer part of the Horde, and now had the small role of neutral mercenaries and hostile creeps. They were also inexplicably weaker compared to the powerful units they were in Warcraft II and resorted to using clubs rather than Good Old Fisticuffs. In the expansion pack a half ogre was introduced, and an ogre/goblin Hero Unit was introduced. Most importantly they rejoined the Horde in the story hinting at a greater role in future games. But then, in World of Warcraft the ogres' home is destroyed by black dragons and they show up for a minor role in one zone. As of the extension Cataclysm they are the only race from Warcraft II not playable in some form.
    • Happened to the Blood Elf race - except for Kael'thas - in the Frozen Throne expansion of Warcraft 3. The "human" campaign largely on the plight of Kael'thas and his Blood Elf remnants... for about two and a half missions. Then they grew Out of Focus as the story importance shifted to Illidan and his Naga (the fact that the Blood Elf forces were completely irrelevant compared to the much stronger Naga didn't help). By the middle of the Undead campaign, the Blood Elves were out-and-out Mooks with the exception of Kael'thas himself.
    • While trolls in general seem to be the go-to race for evil mooks, troll heroes tend to either vanish into obscurity or be Driven to Villainy. And the playable Darkspear tribe—a late (and somewhat rushed) addition to the baseline game to begin with—have been largely sidelined.
    • The draenei have pulled up even with trolls in that regard. While they did get quite a bit of focus in the beginning of the Burning Crusade, they were overshadowed by the blood elves after the Black Temple. Like the trolls, they didn't do much of anything in WOTLK. And finally, in Cataclysm, they're the only race to not get a new class—despite rogue, druid, and (if you stretch a point) even warlock being at least theoretically possible. At least they make up a decent percentage of the Earthen Ring faction...but seeing as shamanism is canonically a tiny and new splinter of their culture, that's not saying much.
    • Gnomes, considering their lore, have quite the potential for sad or bittersweet storylines. Instead, they're almost strictly comic relief.
  • The latest Sega (Super/All)stars game does this to NiGHTS who is demoted to a cameo. Which is better than nothing: originally NiGHTS wasn't to appear at all, and it was only after an extensive emailing campaign by a fan site that NiGHTS was placed in as the flag-bearer.
  • Many playable characters from the first Baldur's Gate game make cameo appearances as NPCs in the sequel.
  • Luis from Resident Evil 4 isn't playable in mercenary mode, despite the fact that he showed himself to be capable of using a gun in story mode and a total Badass Spaniard, yet Hunk, who has no bearing in the main story, appears.
  • SaGa Frontier's Fuse is much like Sacchin; he was supposed to have his own quest route and be a playable hero and so on and so forth, but when time constraints ate the development team, that got dropped entirely (along with a lot of the playable characters' sidequest material - the game wasn't exactly a polished work). He's recruitable by any/all the other characters but all that remains of what would've been his storyline is a few debug rooms. Woe!
  • The Super Mario Bros. series and spinoffs has a few. Look at Fawful, who went from The Dragon to minor NPC... right back to Big Bad by the next game. Or Tatanga, who went from Big Bad, to boss, to vanishing off the face of the planet. King Boo went from Big Bad to standard boss after Luigis Mansion, the Koopalings ended up in fairly mediocre roles after Yoshi's Safari up New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Professor E Gadd went from important character, to minor NPC, to Put on a Bus.
    • And Rosalina. Despite helping Mario save both Peach and the entire Mushroom Galaxy from Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy, as well as being a playable character in the Mario Kart games, in Super Mario Galaxy 2, she actually does not appear until after Bowser is defeated at the end of the game.
  • Tawna, the title character's original girlfriend from the Crash Bandicoot series, only made a few returns appearances following her role as damsel-in-distress in the first game. The game designers decide to explain away her absence in the second game by stating in the (now-defunct) official website that Tawna left Crash for Pinstripe Potoroo.
  • Examples from the Mass Effect series:
    • In Mass Effect 3, most party members from Mass Effect 2. While Garrus and Tali are the only ones to return as party members, Mordin, Thane, Legion and Miranda play important roles in the main game. The rest appear in side missions.
    • Harbinger, the Big Bad of Mass Effect 2, despite still being the leader of the Reapers in Mass Effect 3, only briefly appears once at the end of the game.
  • While Sun Quan was often overshadowed by his father Sun Jian and (To a lesser extent) his brother Sun Ce in the Dynasty Warriors series, DW6 ups this to the point where his father gets a story mode over him, the actual ruler of Wu. Keep in mind that only five characters (Plus two in the special edition) per faction as well as "other" characters Diao Chan and Lu Bu. Practically, Wu itself could be considered this compared to Wei and (especially) Shu.
    • And in DW7, with the addition of new faction Jin, guess which one of the three kingdoms will be focused in the earlier eras instead of the later eras?
    • Pang De. He debuts in DW5, and was quite the welcome addition. In DW6, he was turned into a generic officer as Word of God thinks he's not unique enough, and his weapon and personality got transferred to Zhang Liao, but then again lots of characters were cut. In DW7, most of the cut characters return... and still no Pang De in sight. Although Pang De made it back for the Xtreme Legends expansion, making the only one not yet cured from this trope being Zuo Ci.
  • Lilia, the heroe's love interest in Ys II, was reduced to a minor supporting character in Ys IV, and completely forgotten afterward.
  • Mewtwo was a playable character in Super Smash Bros: Melee, but in Brawl, he's now only just a trophy.
    • Which is really what happened to him in the games and anime series. Especially since Lucario was currently given Wolverine Publicity at the time.
  • Pat Sprigs (AKA Gemini Spark), from Mega Man Star Force, is a major character in the first game, to being an optional boss in the second, to only having a few references in battle cards in the third game.
  • In the original arcade versions of the first two Double Dragon, Machine Gun Willy was undoubtedly the main bad guy, as he was the final boss in the first game and the guy who shoots the Lee brothers' girlfriend Marian in the second game. In the NES version of the first game, he is simply the last guy Billy faces before the final battle with his brother Jimmy and is a complete no-show in the second NES game. The people who made Battletoads & Double Dragon, aside for demoting him into a lackey to some made-up character, didn't even bother to get his name correctly. His main antagonist status was restored in the GBA version though.
  • Heavily lampshaded in the Disgaea series, where former main character Laharl is quite annoyed with the fact that he's been delegated to an optional unlockable unit from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories onward.
  • Professor Layton: Hi, Flora. How's it going after you left St. Mystere?
    • In the third game she does have a major role, being a third party member, having her own puzzle solve screens, and her head shows up with layton and luke on the map, as for the second game, she is present for the first quarter before being kidnapped and replaced by Don Paulo in disguise. It may also be lampshaded by layton when he sees her again in the second game and states he forgot all about her.
  • Motaro is the only character from Mortal Kombat 3 who is not a fighter in Mortal Kombat 9. He is killed by Raiden in a cut-scene and later appears as a dead body.
  • A common complaint about Golden Sun: The Lost Age was that this happened to everyone but Isaac, Felix and Kraden once the two parties met up. The sequel, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, attempted to fix this, but that ended up causing another problem.
  • Keira in Jak and Daxter: Love Interest and fixer of Broken Bridges. Keira in Jak II: Love Interest and source of a few bits and pieces (one of which, yes, fixed a Broken Bridge). Keira in Jak III: appears in a few scenes doing exaggerated facial expressions and gets somewhere in the neighbourhood of one line (seriously, Tess had more importance to the plot). Thankfully, she was re-promoted in time for Jak X.
  • Luciana Rune Artwaltz is very important in Yggdra Union (although she appears under her sister's name for most of her appearances), but does almost nothing in its prequel, Blaze Union, instead shifting the focus onto the aforementioned twin sister Aegina. Then again, you can't do all that much on an injured leg. Aegina herself falls out of the spotlight in two of the three Multiple Endings - but in the third one, Luciana dies.
  • The Grey Wardens in Dragon Age II. While some of the fandom complained, this was actually justified. With the Blight defeated in the first game and the Darkspawn driven back into the Deep Roads, what exactly was there left for the Grey Wardens to actually do?
  • Soul Calibur V's redesigned Story Mode received criticism because only the main characters, Patroklos and Pyrrha receive any kind of backstory and characterization. Most of the new characters have an average of only five lines and contribute minimally to the advancement of the plot. Two returning characters actually have NO dialogue and leap out of nowhere in order to be fought. Nine of the returning characters don't make a single appearance in the game's story.
    • Made worse by the fact that it's no longer possible to read character bios in the game. In order to learn what the rest of the characters have been up to since the 17 year time skip, you'll have to view them on the game's website.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Bastila and Carth, the two main romance options and the most plot-relevant party members in the first game, become this in the second. Carth is only seen during cutscenes and a brief meeting with the Exile near the end of the game. The only time Bastila appears in person is a cameo near the end of the game, provided the player makes the PC from the first game a Light Side male. Otherwise she only appears as a vision in Ludo Kressh's tomb and if the first game's PC is Dark Side, as a hologram of a Sith holocron in the abandoned Sith Academy.
  • Kinnikuman: Muscle Fight
    • Specialman is turned into an assist character for Canadianman. He also gets victimized in Strong the Budou's intro and is used against Sunshine's foe in his Hell's Combination super attack.
    • Mari Nikaido, Bimbimba, Natsuko, and Nachiguron aren't playable characters. However, they can be seen in cameos in certain stages. Bimbimba makes a cameo if Kinnikuman Super Phoenix earns a perfect victory.
    • The other Goku'aku Choujin are reduced to assist attacks in Dirty Baron's moveset.

Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • Satsuki Yumizuka a.k.a. "Sacchin" from Tsukihime. She quickly disappears on each route of the game despite being set up as another possible heroine, and in some branches she is quickly and cruelly dispatched by Shiki Tohno after becoming a vampire and declaring her admiration for him in a truly Tear Jerker moment. The anime lets her survive unvampirized in the Muggle sidelines, but other than that it didn't treat her much better; the manga, more of the same. In Melty Blood she re-appears, but as an enemy, in her vampire form. She is quite real (and dangerous) in the game, but in its manga adaptation she is the form that Tatari took after discovering Shiki's guilt for having had to kill her, and then he has to dispatches her again. In truth, she is more famous for how she doesn't appear that much on the other semi-official media, and the unreleased "Satsuki route" (which was supposedly planned and partially written but cut out, and is allegedly the one where the events of Melty Blood happen) is one of the running jokes of the franchise and the fandom, a thing not helped by the fact that the remake of the game, which allegedly would contain her route, has been stuck in Vaporware for half a decade. Within some fandoms (including this very wiki; see Meta below) she became the poster girl of the phenomenon (and former Trope Namer for this very trope) due to a meme based on the phrase "Isn't it sad, Sacchin?"
  • Assassin, Shinji and Zouken in Fate/hollow ataraxia get much smaller roles than they did in Fate/stay night. Well, Assassin had a small role anyway. The latter two probably get smaller roles because the game as a whole is lighter in tone and they were two of the darkest characters.
    • In the long term, they have been this for the Fate/ franchise. At least Assasin got it better when he became an unlockable playable character in Fate/Grand Order, but by then he has but fallen off the road.
  • Good luck finding a decent Shiori figure from Kanon. At least Kyoto Animation did her arc justice, and her falling out of the public eye might be because she doesn't have a "seven years ago" connection and is just a normal Ill Girl. In the 2002 anime, she, Makoto and Mai all fell victim to this, having their arcs squished into one episode each with key portions removed.
  • Similarly, Kano and Minagi in AIR. Everything from merchandise to posters to, well, the backstory of the game makes it clear that this is Misuzu's story. Therefore, their routes are just there so the game can't be accused of having no variety—and when you think about it, if either of them wins, then the incarnations of Kanna will live and die in loneliness and pain for all eternity (especially with Kano's "good" ending). They were completely removed from the movie adaptation, and their arcs were shrunk to three episodes each in the Kyoto Animation version. They do each have one good figure, though. One.
  • From the original Clannad game we have Yukine, who, much like poor Sacchin, was originally planned to be one of the main heroines.
    • And in After Story, anyone whose last name isn't Okazaki or Furukawa gets shafted in terms of the spotlight halfway.
    • Also Kappei. He was a pretty important character in the original visual novel, but never appears in the anime, EVER.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Dr. Lorna hasn't had more than the (very) occasional reference in Sluggy Freelance for years, despite being Riff's mom and still living in the same town by all accounts. She's essentially been Put on a Bus, having disowned Riff and fired Gwynn and Zoe, leaving her with no connections to the cast (and satirizing Dr. Laura no longer being in style).
  • Stephan used to be a much bigger part of Ozy and Millie. The cartoonist explains that he was created to represent the overly confident geeks of the dotcom era; when the dotcom bubble burst, there simply wasn't as much of a place for Stephan.
  • Happens to several characters in Something*Positive, but the most notable example is probably Monette. After years of being a major focus in the Texas storylines, she's Put on a Bus to California and has shown up sparingly since. Arguably significant to her Character Development, but her drop in panel-time is very noticeable.
  • It's happened a few times in Real Life Comics. Officially, this list includes Danny, Crystal, and the first Liz. However, anyone but Pal and Alan Extra under the Supporting Characters section get precious little panel exposure. In fact, it doesn't appear that Debbie or Cliff have appeared in the comic for years.
    • This is actually lampshaded in this strip where it's questioned if anyone remembers Ben at all
  • Mr. Birdbeak from Tragic Deaths. In the first three comics that that Petalklunk made, he was the main focus, but now he's only made one appearance after it switched focus to the war between Petalklunk and Mr. Bignose.
  • Justin and Sarah in El Goonish Shive have steadily sunken into the background, though Dan is trying to avert this. Specifically, Justin seems to only exist to be a gay male and Sarah as Elliot's girlfriend.
    • Justin, at least, was a major focus in the "New and Old Flames" arc.
  • By season four of Ansem Retort, Marluxia is demoted so much he's left behind with Darth Maul while the rest of the cast members take Red XIII with them to Hawaii. This is one of the reasons he's so keen on fighting Xemnas in season six: he gets more screen time that way.
    • He seems to be re-ascending in the current season: he's one of four people traveling through time to stop Xemnas. (Apparently, Axel and Zex need him to drink the time-traveling gay drinks. Because he's gay. It Makes Sense in Context.)
  • The title character of the notorious Sonichu series has hardly appeared at all after issue #1.
  • Ralph and Bimbo, the original main characters of Exploitation Now.
  • In Jayden and Crusader the character Hannah has often slipped into the background and mostly only exists to give Smic another character to bounce ideas off of, a roll that could be accomplished by a lamppost.
  • Several characters in Questionable Content, most notably Steve (Marten's best friend, now rarely shown) and Raven (who's apparently off getting her degree). Seems like Penelope is sliding into that abyss as well. Of course, none of them have had the indignity of being eaten by an Allosaurus.
    • Steve seems to have returned, and appears far more frequently than before, although still very much a secondary character. Pintsize and Winslow, on the other hand, seem to be slipping towards this with their ever decreasing appearances.
    • Steve was demoted to extra very early on - the joke about him being locked in the hall closet for months was as early as comic 155 (of 1750+). Raven was demoted to extra when Penelope arrived, and has now definitely been Put on a Bus. But The Bus Came Back. Apparently Jeph was doing an Archive Binge for a book release and realized that Raven was hilarious. She showed up to ask for her job back that day.
  • Rachel and Tessa start off Scary Go Round as the main protagonists, but after the first chapter they're demoted to the supporting cast. The comic would often spend time focusing on some characters at the expense of others before rotating back, but they never really recover: it's another six chapters and nearly a year later before they get the limelight back. After that, they make another few appearances, but they're inexorably sliding towards a Face Heel Turn and finally being Put on a Bus to Hell.
  • In Least I Could Do, Rayne's best friend John was given a rather strong demotion as writers switched over, being replaced with a long lost best friend. He began to see a resurgence in later times, though. Supposedly, this is because he was based on the writer's real best friend, who he had a falling out with.
  • In Homestuck, this happens to several characters after they get killed. They then recognize that this is happening, and one makes it their mission to become relevant again (dragging a friend along for the ride whether he wants to get back into the spotlight or not).


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Sister from Red vs. Blue. She brought the ship to Blood Gulch, and her arrival leads to the Reds discovering the underground caves. After that, she gets shuffled around from the Red team to the Blue team and finally to just bumming around with Doc, by which time she's barely seen. She appeared once or twice in season 6 and has not been seen since.
    • Sister suffered from all her personality traits being stuff that could not be done though machinma by Roosterteeth at the time. Anytime she is doing something, she ends up being off screen while the other characters comment on it, and that only goes so far.
  • Thanks to having Loads and Loads of Characters, this happens frequently in the Homestar Runner world. Inexplicably, Pom Pom (one of the original main characters) did not appear in the season finale of Strong Bad's game, despite Pom Pom being in every other episode up to that point. In fact, Pom Pom used to be one of the three main characters along with Homestar and Strong Bad, although now, his appearances are rare, and the annual Christmas/Halloween cartoons are the only times he'll be seen consistently.
    • The Poopsmith's demotion is, if possible, even more evident than Pom Pom's, as the Halloween cartoons just might be the only time he's seen at all anymore (evidently a result of the two characters being silent and bubbly-voiced). Still, he didn't do too bad considering he was an Ascended Extra to begin with.
    • Like Pom Pom, Homsar also didn't appear in the finale for Strong Bad's game—but he, like the Poopsmith, started out as an Ascended Extra (from a Strong Bad E-mail, no less!) and even then he was often relegated to clickable Easter Eggs.
  • Kit-chan's Fullmetal Alchemist abridged series parodies this with Alphonse's lines being cut mid-sentence in order to support Ed's status as the main character.
  • LordKat, one of the more well known and prolific contributors to That Guy With The Glasses fell into this in the second anniversary special Kickassia, due to Reality Subtext: he sprained an ankle during filming.
    • Handsome Tom also had this happen to him, relegated mostly to posing as Kickassia's flagpole. This was lampshaded in one of the "making of" videos, where Doug passes out the script and apologizes to Tom for having him be "an object". Tom takes it pretty well, pointing out that objects are useful. The other contributors have also said that Tom's okay being in the background becuase he doesn't think he's an especially good actor and is there mostly to have fun.
  • As with Comic Book Limbo, both players and entire campaigns came and went over the course of the ten-year history of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. As they did, most of the characters involved would fade from being important main characters to being supporting NPCs to eventually being background color.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Justice League Unlimited
  • In Danny Phantom, the character Valerie frequently appeared in Season One and Two, playing as the series' main Anti-Hero, then seemingly disappeared in Season Three until the second-to-last episode, then later made a small, speechless cameo in the Grand Finale. And her story arc wasn't even completed yet!
  • X-Men: Evolution has Spyke, a major character in seasons one and two; season three, he up and joins the Morlocks. Gets an episode here or there, but he's mostly gone.
  • Luanne on King of the Hill was in nearly all the episodes for the first three seasons. When she moved into her own house midway through the fourth season she was quietly changed to a recurring character, often not appearing for weeks unless the episode was specifically focused on her. Later on in the series she was upgraded again and became a semi-regular, appearing in about half the episodes.
  • Disney related material
    • Several Lion King spin-offs have Simba suffering from this, in favour of Timon and Pumbaa, such as in the aminated series, in which Simba only appeared a couple of times, and the third Lion King movie which is all about Timon and Pumbaa stealing scenes from the first movie. This was eventually lampshaded in an episode of House of Mouse, when Timon and Pumbaa are introduced by Mickey Mouse, Simba moans "Those guys always get all the attention!"
    • The entire cast of Aladdin, including the titular character, suffered this fate as the later merchandise based on the film now focus on Jasmine. Considering that The Disney Princess line of merchandising is quite profitable and has become in an odd way, it's OWN spinoff from the various Disney films that each princess comes from, this may not be the case with Jasmine—or perhaps, the fate of any character associated with a Disney Princess.
    • And Flounder from The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, where he is also now portrayed as a father to several baby fish.
    • Almost the whole cast, including Lightning McQueen, gets this treatment in Cars 2 while Tow Mater takes over as the main character.
    • Iridessa of the Disney Fairies franchise gets very little merchandise at all, and barely appears in group promo shots. It might be because she's a stuck-up Rules Lawyer, but it's probably because she's a Token Minority. Hey, at least she's better off than Vidia and Rani.
    • If your only exposure to the franchise is the coloring books, you probably don't know that there's a male fairy. According to the web game, he's a "sparrow man" despite obviously being a fairy and grouped as such before. He still gets no attention.
    • Goofy's son, Max from Goof Troop appears to be focused more on than Goofy in most of Goofy's latest apperances, particularly in the 90s. While Goofy and Max get equal attention in Goof Troop, both "Goofy" movies and both Christmas movies, "Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas" and "Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas", appear to be all about Max.
    • Lilo in any material outside the Lilo and Stitch movies and TV Series. Stitch is the regular money maker while she hardly, barely or never gets a mention. Even the Kingdom Hearts game Birth By Sleep omitted her from their movie themed level (though to be fair that was a prequel) and she only gets a cameo in the anime, Stitch! showing She's All Grown Up and now has a similar looking daughter of her own.
    • Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.
  • In the original series of Fireman Sam, Trevor Evans the bus driver was a regular, prolific character who sometimes helped Sam by acting as a part time firefighter. In the newer series he's lucky if he gets a short appearance with a single line of dialogue.
  • Most of the characters from the first few seasons of South Park, particularly Officer Barbrady & Dr. Mephisto, who were major characters in many episodes, and often had whole shows featuring them (both later vanished, and South Park even got a real police force).
    • Jimbo and Ned had major roles in many of the earlier episodes. Now, they rarely appear or speak anymore.
    • Tweek, who was a minor character prior to season six (where he replaced Kenny as the 4th member of the group), is now demoted to extra.
    • Kenny; after coming back from Killed Off for Real his role was greatly diminished and rarely speaks, although every couple of years since then he will get an episode dedicated to him. This however changed somewhat thanks to the Mysterion episodes. In fact, he's been in all the episodes of season 16 so far, having speaking roles in the majority.
    • Chef was showing up less and less (after being more or less the fourth most important character on the show) before he was killed off.
    • Pip, one of the most vocal and visible of the kids at South Park Elementary at the show's start, and got a whole episode to himself, got pushed away into the background as the show progressed, and has now vanished completely. Then he returned to have a mecha's foot dropped on him.
    • Cartman's mom was the parent that was seen the most often. Due to her serving Eric's every whim and being a total whore, she got around... until Stan's dad took the spot of 'Most Prominent Parent'.
    • Kyle's parents have gradually dropped out of sight, as well. Sheila was a major antagonist/WellIntentionedExtremist in the early years, including the movie, and she's all but disappeared in the later seasons.
    • Stan's sister Shelley was extablished to be a sociopath who beat up her brother in often over-the-top ways, but now she's become a generic sister character, with her original personality showing once in a blue moon (see "Over Logging"). Later in "Broadway Bro Down", Shelley was given a subplot that attempted to show a softer side to her.
  • In The Boondocks, Michael Caesar, who moves to the neighborhood shortly into the comic strip and is Huey's best friend (and, at times, the Straight Man to him), is completely absent from the television series. Huey gets this treatment in the middle of the second season, since his purpose is to express the creator's opinion on the situation at hand and remind us that the show is satirical in nature, this causes problems. They were planning on bringing him into the third season, but couldn't find the right voice actress.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender goes out of its way to have a balanced roster of male to female characters, but the action figures of the series, are only of the male characters (even minor or nameless male characters get action figures ahead of the lead females). They eventually announced a figure for Katara in the second line, but then the whole line was cancelled and they haven't made any since.
  • Transformers is somewhat the reverse of many other examples on this page, in that a number of characters appear only in the toyline. That said, there's plenty of straight examples... Half the cast of Cybertron, for example. How long did it take for Evac to stop doing anything? Four episodes?
    • Transformers Generation 1 isn't innocent on this by a long shot. It introduced Loads and Loads of Characters, one set after another, to sell toys, and some had more staying power than others. Many characters' roles went by this formula: 1: Show up one day without comment. 2: Have one really good episode of focus later. 3: Be occasionally seen in the background or fights. 4: Disappear mysteriously.
    • As an example, Jazz, who was a major character in the first two seasons of G1, had a supporting role in the movie, but when Scatman Crothers died shortly afterwards, Jazz's later appearances were non-speaking cameos.
    • And speaking of the movie, several characters had this happen to them. Bluestreak, Sunstreaker, Huffer, Thundercracker, Skywarp, and Bombshell appear in cameos with no lines, Shockwave appears in two scenes and is implied to die, Shrapnel and Kickback are reduced to Butt Monkeys and then rebuilt, Mixmaster, Scavenger and Long Haul do not speak, Blitzwing gets one scene for himself, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Brawn, Prowl, Ratchet and Windcharger are killed off and Sludge, despite being a major character, has no lines. In fact, Spike and the three major Autobots who survive the movie (Bumblebee, Jazz, and Cliffjumper) have more minor roles. Perceptor and the four other Dinobots (Snarl mysteriously receiving this treatment) are the only pre-movie characters to do much of anything in the post-Autobot City scenes. Even Optimus Prime is only around for the first half of the movie. Plus, some characters don't appear in the movie at all, leaving their fates uncertain.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • Sandy Cheeks, a major character, only has a few lines in The Movie, and no importance to the plot, and rarely appears in the later seasons, to the point where she is forgotten. They even forgot her name in one episode (she was called "Sandy Squirrel" in a later episode).
    • Larry the Lobster got some decent roles early on, but seems to have been forgotten as a character in later seasons.
    • A lot of recurring characters from the show seem to have been abandoned most of the time due to the unhealthy amount of focus with Mr. Krabs and Plankton. Such as Sandy, Gary, Mrs. Puff, Pearl, Larry, The Flying Dutchman, Karen, and Patchy the Pirate.
  • In Hey Arnold!s movie, Phoebe Hyerdahl only gets one line, and the only memorable thing she does in it is run into some newsguy's camera. (For that matter, none of the minor recurring characters, except Brainy, get any credit.) The movie that Craig didn't get to make supposedly would have re-dressed the balance. According to this Wikia article, the much-ignored Nadine would have finally gotten some screentime in it.
  • Pongo and Perdita, the main characters of the One Hundred and One Dalmatians movie, are secondary characters in the TV series. The episode "The Making Of..." Lampshades this by having them remark that they but were told that Disney "decided to go for a younger look". "But we're not bitter," Perdita remarks, immediately before tearing a rip on a promotional poster.
  • Lots of The Simpsons characters, especially those from the show's first two seasons. For instance, in Season 1, Lewis was regularly seen with Bart and Milhouse, and was explicitly said to be Bart's 2nd best friend. He was quickly demoted to background character, and even those appearances are getting rarer.

Bart: I guess this is the end, Wendell.
Lewis: He's Wendell! (points to Wendell) I'm Lewis!
Bart: Well, whatever. Just tell Wendell I said bye.

    • And another was hung in "Homer to the Max";

Homer: I don't understand what happened. Why did they change Homer Simpson's character from cool to stupid?
Lisa: The first episode was just a Pilot, Dad. Producers fiddle with shows all the time! They change characters, drop others, and push some into the background.
(Mr. Largo and the Capital City Goofball walk by in the Simpsons' background window as Lisa says this.)

    • Perhaps the most notable is Phil Hartman's characters, Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz; after he was murdered, these characters were retired out of respect, and although they sometimes appear in scene backgrounds, no longer have lines.
    • For similar reasons, Lunchlady Doris stopped appearing after the death of her VA, Doris Grau. This lasted about a decade, until someone noticed Tress MacNeille does a rather good impression.
    • Marge's mother has also largely vanished. This is a matter of the stress on Julie Kavner's voice; whenever Mrs. Bouvier appears, so do Selma and Patty, and Kavner's voice takes a beating.
    • Bill and Marty (Springfield's resident DJs) have also slowly disappeared (they stopped appearing after season 15's "Fraudcast News", only to return for season 18's "The Boys of Bummer", and then vanished again)
    • Guest characters voiced by celebrities sometimes stick around as mute extras. This especially common for classmates of Bart and Lisa like Alex (voiced by Lisa Kudrow), Allison (voiced by Winona Ryder) and Jessica Lovejoy (voiced by Meryl Streep.)
  • The Riddler rarely appeared much in Batman: The Animated Series, but what episodes he did get were quite excellent and put a refreshing spin on the character. When the sequel series The New Batman Adventures rolled over, however, ol' Eddie got the shaft, despite getting an entirely new character design more faithful to Frank Gorshin's take on the character. You know that things are bad when the new Riddler's biggest role was in a Superman episode.
    • Paul Dini admitted in the "Art of..." book that they didn't use the Riddler often because his gimmick of using riddles was pretty hard to pull off in an action cartoon such as theirs. On the other hand, he had some truly spectacular moments in The Batman Adventures comic, set in the same universe.
  • Terrance and Mac's mom had very few appearances in the fifth and sixth season of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Goo had very little screen time in the later seasons too.
  • Connie (a.k.a. Kahn Jr.) from King of the Hill was a fairly important character early on and a love interest for Bobby, however they broke up in the sixth season, but she still had major roles from time to time, but starting with season 9, her role was greatly diminished and wasn't seen very often. In several later episodes where her parents were the main focus, she was nowhere to be seen, and when she did show up, her role was very minor—usually limited to a few lines of dialogue.
    • What made this really odd is that Lauren Tom voiced both Connie and her mother Minh, so it wouldn't have been much of a hassle to toss Connie into a scene with her parents.
  • One might forget that the Griffins Family Guy even have a daughter, with as little screen-time as Meg gets these days. This is even parodied in the Star Wars specials, where she's in a couple of seconds of the special, tops, and as a giant space worm.
    • Parodied in "Something Something Something Darkside":

Meg: Come on, don't I ever get any lines in these things?
Peter: Shut up, Meg.

    • One might forget too that the Griffins even have another son besides Stewie. Chris' screentime is even lower than Meg's.
  • Hayley from American Dad, particularly from Season 3 on. Compare her screen time with Francine's, Steve's, or Roger's. Arguably because the show switched from politics driven to character/story emphasis, and her personality wasn't much developed other than as the strawman liberal.
    • Also, some say Klaus has had very little screentime or lines in later years, but he still appears about the same, and has about the same number of lines he always has had (albeit both have always been very brief). One could argue he was, and always has been an extra.
  • The Fairly OddParents
    • Timmy Turner's best friends, Chester and A.J. In the beginning, both of the boys were major characters; including early episodes that centered on Timmy's friendship with these two, but they now appear very sporadically, often in non speaking roles. A.J. seems to have suffered the worst from this trope.
    • It's most evident with Veronica, Trixie's "best friend", after season five.
    • And Francis after season six.
    • This happens to Chester, A.J., and Vicky in the live-action film where they just have brief scenes that, except for Chester and A.J. helping Timmy make it into the villain's lair, leave little impact on the plot. Even worse, their scenes are cut from the reruns of the film.
    • Vicky in general, despite being heavily featured on the theme song, appears as the antagonist less often nowadays compared to the Anti Fairies, Dark Lazer, and especially Mr. Crocker.
  • Every character in the X-Men animated series had this happen to them. With the obvious exception...
  • Many major characters from the show Recess appear in the movie version...but most of them appear very briefly, with absolutely no lines. Notably, TJ's arch-rival Lawson shows up for two seconds and gives a mere thumbs up with no dialogue, but he's listed as a speaking role in the credits. Erik Von Detten's OTHER character, Captain Brad (who appeared in one episode of the show) has numerous lines. Some major recurring characters, like Cornchip Girl, don't show up at all.
    • In Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, Miss Grotke only has two lines in the entire movie. Justified, as the main kids were in the fifth grade and weren't in her class anymore.
  • Tony Toponi and Bridget get demoted to background characters with a couple blink-and-you-miss-it cameos in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West after having played a pretty large role in the first film.
  • In Total Drama Action, the second season of Total Drama Island, Ezekiel, Eva, Noah, Katie, Tyler, Cody and Sadie were reduced to this (though arguably Ezekiel was barely more than an extra to begin with.)
    • In Total Drama World Tour, four of those characters (Ezekiel, Noah, Tyler, and Cody) came back, but Geoff, Trent, Justin, and Beth, the previous season's runner up, were demoted in their place. And then of course Eva, Katie, and Sadie were not saved from this status.
  • While Tails was pretty prominent in the Sonic 2 game and and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, on the other Sonic TV series Sonic the Hedgehog he was reduced to a minor status. However, he did gradually get some more screen-time and the odd episode that gave him focus (particularly towards the end), but for the most part, several of the invented characters for the show were more in the "supporting cast" category than Tails was.
  • In the original Mirage Ninja Turtles comics, vigilante Casey Jones is a good friend of the turtles and one of the most prominent members of their supporting cast. In the original cartoon, well, if you remember him at all it's as that loon who showed up in a few episodes wanting to break things.
  • In Season 5 of the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, Casey and April really fell into this, largely a result of the season's sharply reduced episode count; it did not help that half those episodes were spent outside New York. They grew even less prominent in the Fast Forward Retool, since they did not accompany the turtles into the year 2105, and could only appear as cameos or in flashbacks. Back to the Sewer reversed the trend, however, giving them a season-long arc in which they prepared to get married.
  • In early episodes of Phineas and Ferb, Django was supposed to be one of the main members of the title characters' group of friends. He got one episode ("Oil on Candace") sort of centered around him, but by season two he's only shown up in a few background shots.
  • When the Winx Club Spin-Off PopPixie was announced, one of the major concerns about the series was the apparent disappearance of Digit (Tecna's pixie). She didn't appear in any official art at all, and the first that anyone saw of her... was when she appeared in the opening titles. It remains to be seen how significant Digit will be. (The other bonded pixies? All present and accounted for.)
    • While we're dealing with Winx Club, and related to the Avatar figures example above: Under Mattel, Tecna and Musa were never represented as much as their fellow Winx in the doll lines. Some lines even omitted Tecna altogether, but their biggest sin was when they released the Singsational line... and released Musa (the musical fairy) behind the others. (Also, the only doll they ever released outside of the main fairies was one of Sky.) Italian licensee Giochi Preziosi, and later Rainbow Toys, appear to have been a bit better with equal representation in the doll lines, at least with the fairies (they even made dolls of the Trix).
  • Dana Tan in the second and third seasons of Batman Beyond, with the introduction of Max. Went from being Terry's main "normal person" confidante and having a scene in almost every episode to mostly being a background presence who got tossed a few lines every now and then, except for the one episode where she got to be a Damsel in Distress. Notably, she was (and remained) the Official Love Interest.
    • And oddly, Max too. Despite knowing Terry's identity and being the closest thing he had to a sidekick, she's completely absent in both Return of the Joker and the post-series finale Epilogue.
    • Terry's family, Matt and Mary McGinnis, while not as prominent as Dana, also had less and less screentime as the series continued.
  • The short lived Looney Tunes character Beans the Cat was demoted when the spotlight shifted to his stuttering sidekick Porky Pig, and Beans and the rest of his co-stars soon faded into oblivion.
    • And before Daffy Duck became his sidekick Porky's best friend was a goat named Gabby who appeared in four cartoons, and he also had a girlfriend Petunia who also vanished after a couple of years (although she remained prominent in the comic books).
  • In The Cleveland Show, the daughter Roberta was demoted to this a little into the first season, having very little screen time and less dialog. She is also currently the only member of Cleavland's new family that hasn't met the Griffins. However this was mainly due to her voice actress on maternity leave.
  • In Blazing Dragons Season 2, Princess Flame plays a major role in some of the first episodes, but in later episodes she sometimes does not appear, and rarely speaks any lines when she does (appearing in a few episodes with no lines at all).
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Poor Master Shifu...
  • Happens to Storm, of all people, in Wolverine and the X-Men. While a major character in the comics, one of the most recognizable members of the X-Men, and being in the main cast of nearly all the previous animated adaptations, here she's reduced to a background character who does little, says little, and has no effect on the plot.
    • In the episodes in which he takes part in battles, she appears, makes a major power play, and is knocked out almost immediately. The writers even acknowledge that she's too powerful to work into their universe properly.
  • Happens to Tombstone after Green Goblin arc of season 1 and up until episode "Gangland" from The Spectacular Spider-Man. In the first episode of the series he sends Enforcers to destroy Spider-Man and is set up as New York's most powerful crime lord. He becomes the Big Bad during episodes 4-6, ordering Norman Osborn to create supervillains to distract Spider-Man and is set up as one of Spidey's arch-enemies. He also plays a big role in Green Goblin arc (7-9), fighting against Green Goblin and teaming up with Spider-Man to stop him. However after that, he becomes secondary character and in Symbiote arc he only appears briefly in beginning of episodes 12 and 13 and only accepting job offers and nothing more. Thus, Symbiote/Venom replaces him as Big Bad of Season 1. In first half of season 2 ( Master Planner and Venom arcs) he doesn't even appear and is only mentioned in "First Steps". In Gang War arc, while he is set up as one of crime lords fighting control over New York, he doesn't appear in Accomplices and appears in the beginning of "Probable Cause". However in "Gangland" he returns as one of big bads and fights against Doc Ock, Silvermane And Spidey. In final episodes he doesn't get mentioned at all.
    • Same thing happens to Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) in episodes with Venom.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • After the Virtual Boy flopped, Gunpei Yokoi (though it wasn't actually his fault; the suits at Nintendo rushed it out a year before production was to be completed) was given what amounted to a desk job and had no real power. He would later leave Nintendo entirely.
  • After a company merger with AOL, Ted Turner was given a figurehead desk job with no real power in the company's decision making.
  • Mergers in general. As the big boys get bigger and bigger, even the moderately-sized regional companies in the same market are either shunted aside or gobbled up by the bigs. Wal-Mart and Target v. K-Mart is a good example.
  • Pluto. But it got its own spin off, Solar System: The Dwarf Planets Saga
  • This even happens to some countries in the course of history. Spain and Portugal used to be major world colonial empires - not so much nowadays. And Germany and Japan used to be major world military powers in the first half of the 20th century, while nowadays they just follow their much more powerful allies. (Though we used to think that they would conquer the world by buying it.)
    • Even the Dutch used to be a world power. Sic transit gloria mundi. And thinking of that, Rome isn't much on the world stage these days.
    • Iran is regarded as the first world empire. Throughout the history, it conquered most of the known world. It kept its power even after the Arab conquest, and up until the 18th century, it played an important role in world affairs. But now? Just a third-world theocratic despot.
    • Ottoman Empire, it was seized half of the middle east and some eastern European countries. But after WWI, Ottoman Empire fell and a fresh Turkey was born. With Turkey's desperate attempts in becoming an EU member, it's obviously lost its relevancy.
  • Most of the world's remaining monarchies are now constitutional monarchies within a parliamentary system. In such cases, the real power resides in the Parliament (and in the person of the Prime Minister.) The monarch's position becomes largely, and often entirely, ceremonial. Even in cases where the constitutional monarch has considerable residual or theoretical power (e.g., Great Britain), the power is seldom exercised.
  • Happened to dinosaurs: for a hundred millions years, they were the dominant animals on land. Now that mammals and humans in particular have taken over, what remains of them? Birds...
    • Reptiles, as a whole, exemplify this trope even if they still play a big role in our ecosystem. Long ago, they ruled the Earth for more than 185 million years during the Mesozoic Era (compare the Cenozoic Era, which is barely a third in length) and were very diverse in their respective area. Some scientists believe that if the K-T extinction event never happened, the smaller theropods might have achieved an intelligence similar to humans.
  • Your parents. When you're a kid, they are the most important people in your life. However, as you get older and have a spouse, children, friends, co-workers, employers, and the like, your parents eventually become secondary or even tertiary people in your life (and some don't take this too well.)
    • Although to a certain extent, this might just be cultural. There are many cultures where even after the child grows up and gets married, his or her parents remain very much a big part of their lives (and are culturally expected to remain so), especially when they live close by.
  • The 25 models on Deal or No Deal were the main attraction of the game show, but when the show became syndicated and the prize money was reduced, all but 2 of the models were replaced with contestants hoping their number would be picked so they can play the game, and if not, the contestants would open the cases during the game. The two models used in this version were for only spinning the wheel to see who can play and removing cases that were picked.


Meta[edit | hide]

  • When a character-named trope has its name changed here on TV Tropes, it can end up demoting that character from star to being just another example. For instance, Spike is now just one more instance of Badass Decay instead of being the defining instance of "Spikeification".
  • Satsuki from Tsukihime is the center of the meme "Isn't it Sad, Sacchin". What makes Satsuki's lucklessness worth a section here, is that it even extends here, on TV Tropes. This trope was originally named "Isn't It Sad", after the meme in question. With the wiki's shift to less esoteric titles, Sacchin was—you guessed it—demoted in importance once again. She has since been demoted again; for a while, she was still the page's image, but she's since been replaced. Really, the only reason this page isn't a Self-Demonstrating Article is because putting it on the appropriate index would be a Promotion FROM Extra.
  1. This is to be understood quite literally in this case regarding the covers of the studio albums Flowers and Da Capo and the respective singles thereof.
  2. At least, not in the Wii version, anyway.