Popularity Power

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Manager: "It's a secret, so keep it under your head, but the most popular robot always wins."
Bender: "You mean I'm not a great fighter? I just won 'cause I'm popular?"
Manager: "Bingo!"

Have you ever gotten into an argument where you have to defend your beloved Local Sports Team's honor and superiority against the "merits" of that honorless and inept Opposing Sports Team? Time consuming and pointless debates ensue (they really should just accept that that Local Sports Team is better and move on with their lives). If things get really bad, you can always wait for both teams to play against each other to settle the issue.

There's just one problem. Your team is in Major League Rugby, and theirs is a peewee soccer team. And they win.

This isn't the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits beating an Evil Empire, they don't have The Ace or Mary Sue leading them to a last second win by exploiting a Weaksauce Weakness or using a Drama-Preserving Handicap, they're normal and otherwise mundane. They are however far more popular and sell merchandise far better than your team. And somehow, much like The Power of Friendship, their Popularity Power gives them that added boost to take on teams far, far, far above their league that should logically crush them like so many naive hopes and dreams under tax returns.

Comic Books tend to fall to this a lot, much like an Ensemble Darkhorse but canonized in media. The super hero in question is usually the kind that stars in Wolverine Publicity or is a Badass Normal in a team of supers. Authors then give them Power Creep, Power Seep until they can take on anyone and win without flinching, or at least won't lose, to someone who should easily beat them. The means to this are usually liberal applications of Plot Induced Stupidity to the opponent, a few Contrived Coincidences to help the hero (a fire extinguisher near a fire villain), or Joker Immunity to make a popular villain's outright defeat impossible.

Note: when a character in their own title makes short work of a more popular or widely-known guest star, that is not a subversion of this trope. I'm looking at you, example section.

Compare Pandering to the Base, Wolverine Publicity, Spotlight-Stealing Squad, Power Creep, Power Seep, Running the Asylum. Related to Joker Immunity and Contractual Immortality since some characters will never get caught/Killed Off for Real because of their popularity.

Contrast The Worf Effect. See also Story-Breaker Team-Up.

Examples of Popularity Power are listed on these subpages: