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[[quoteright:250:[[Series/HappyDays http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/HappyDaysPan_161.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:Hmmm. Something has changed about who's important enough to be on the cover, and where...]]

->'''Gandy Goose''': Nobody remembers me! Why are you still popular?\\
'''Mighty Mouse''': Well... some of us are built to last!
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/MightyMouse: The New Adventures'', "The Ice Goose Cometh".

What's a writer to do when a minor character that he created for a show suddenly becomes much more popular than the other members of the cast? Why, re-write him as a (if not the) main character of course!

This is that character. Usually starring in a sitcom, the Breakout Character quickly grabs hold of the audience's attention and writers take advantage of this energy. Someone who was once a one-note C-character (such as a SatelliteCharacter or a LivingProp) becomes a central part of the regular cast. Often liable to lead to a SpinOff, or be subject to becoming an AdaptationalBadass. Sometimes a BreakoutCharacter becomes such because he fills a niche in the cast that wasn't previously filled or acts as an impressive foil to [[TheHero the Hero]].

When a character gets a larger- but ''still supporting''- role because of the fanbase, that is simply an EnsembleDarkHorse (which they also are even if they don't get any increased role). AscendedExtra is when a character gains any sort of increased role regardless of the character's popularity (or lack thereof). When a character simply takes over the existing show, see SpotlightStealingSquad.

[[TropesAreTools It isn't always good though]]. Sometimes if a BreakoutCharacter character gets too much screentime they risk making the audience feel that the character is [[WolverinePublicity overexposed]] or worse, become a [[TheScrappy Scrappy]]. Always remember that you still have other characters in the cast who need screen time too and just because one character in extremely popular doesn't mean that the others should always be DemotedToExtra. This pitfall can be avoided by occasionally giving breaks to the Breakout, other characters can get their stories told and his fans will patiently wait for him to reappear in the story and be all the more excited when he does reappear.

Trying to intentionally make breakout character before they're even introduced to audiences can also lead to some [[HypeBacklash unfortunate results]].

Also see BreakoutVillain, a SubTrope for villain character, and IconicSequelCharacter, a SubTrope for when the Breakout Character in question doesn't appear until a sequel. Compare to BreakupBreakout. Contrast TheArtifact. Often causes complaints of TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodCharacter.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8sZ1DWsAHE "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!"]]
* Although the Geico Gecko was always the main character of his own commercials, he started out as a complainer, annoyed that the company's name was similar to his own, causing him to get calls from prospective customers. When he proved sufficiently popular, he became the company's mascot (justified by a commercial that actually depicts him getting hired as the company spokesman...spokesreptile?), the focus of most commercials, and, inexplicably, changed accents. The Geico Cavemen were so popular they got their own show. Of course, that didn't last very long.
* In one campaign, commercials for Capital One credit cards featured rampaging Barbarian hordes, who would mercilessly attack anyone not bearing the correct card. Because Barbarians are more interesting than shoppers, they quickly became the main characters of these commercials, using the cards themselves to stock up for their various acts of mayhem.
* Sugar Bear, the mascot for Super Sugar Crisp (now Super Golden Crisp) cereal, started as the least-of-the-least on a cartoon show sponsored by Post. Of the characters in that show, he's the only one still in use.
* In the UK, the character [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Orlov_(meerkat) Aleksandr Orlov]], a meerkat, was created to advertise an insurance comparison site called "compare the market.com", presumably based on the idea that "compare the market" and "Advertising/CompareTheMeerkat" sound similar if you say them in a silly accent. The character has become a huge success, spawning his own franchise (books, toys, general merch etc...). He's even been interviewed on a talkshow, despite being a CGI character. His wikipedia page is actually longer and more detailed than that of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compare_the_Market company he was created to promote.]]
* [[Advertising/TheManYourManCouldSmellLike Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Man]] was initially just one of several Old Spice ads airing on television. The popularity and FountainOfMemes caught on like wildfire, leading Old Spice to launch an entire marketing blitz centered around Mustafa.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha''
** Fate Testarossa. Originally TheDragon of the first series, her interplay with Nanoha after [[DefeatMeansFriendship they joined forces]] proved so popular, the two of them were made equal partners starting from season two, and she is essentially a co-protagonist from then on.
** Vivio, a MysteriousWaif who was introduced half-way into ''NanohaStrikers''. Many of the mostly GirlsLove loving fandom {{Squee}}d at the prospect of [[HasTwoMommies Nanoha and Fate having a daughter]], while others {{Squee}}d at the possibility of Nanoha having a MagicalGirl successor. Her popularity and the producers taking advantage of it becomes apparent when you realize that she's the only civilian [[CrackIsCheaper to get a figure]] and that she joins the three Aces [[FourthWallMailSlot fielding questions in the third Megami Sound Stage]]. One and a half years later, one of the two fourth seasons of ''Nanoha'' was announced: ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaViVid'', [[SpinOffspring a manga starring Vivio]].
** Nanoha herself was originally a very minor character from ''TriangleHeart3SweetSongsForever''. She proved popular enough to get her own game, and soon afterwards - a SpinOff show. The original concept of the show was a straight up MagicalGirl series until somebody in the staff commented about her design resemblance to a Gundam. The creators took the idea and ran with it, packing the show to the brim with {{Magitek}}, tense battles that wouldn't look out of place if mages were substituted with HumongousMecha, and, as the seasons progressed, an increasing number of MilitaryScienceFiction and SpaceOpera elements. As of Nanoha herself, she is now one of the most iconic and widely recognizable [[MagicalGirl Magical Girls]], and by a large margin the most BadAss. Very few people realise that she was originally a supporting character in another series that they most likely never even heard about.
* Hiei from ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' was originally meant to be a one-shot character (this is clear in his first appearance), but he proved so popular with fans that he was given another appearance - and ''continued'' to prove popular enough with fans to make him a main character, complete with his own plotlines and backstory.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': Jeremiah Gottwald was supposed to die early in the series' run, but proved to be so popular that he was allowed to survive and become a more important character than originally planned.
* ''{{Slayers}}'':
** Zelgadis the chimera and Amelia the princess were protagonist duo Gourry and Lina's allies for a couple of novels and were eventually replaced. When the anime began branching off from the novels, chimera and princess had proven popular enough to become as major characters and as integral to the story as Lina and Gourry. All adaptations of manga and games have followed suit with this. [[AdaptationDisplacement The replacements, on the other hand, are virtually unknown.]]
** Xellos the demonic priest is also this combined with EnsembleDarkHorse; he only appears in five books (cameoing in the last one); like Zelgadis and Amelia above, he became more integral as the franchise evolved.
* Vegeta from ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' was originally supposed to be just the BigBad for the Saiyan saga, but proved to be so popular among the fans that Akira Toriyama continued using him and turned him into the AntiHero as a result.
** [[BigBad Frieza]]. He is often cited as one of the best and most important villains in the franchise. His popularity has reached such a point that is remembered on several occasions, including in the latest film "The Battle of the Gods".
** Broly. The non-canon (read: not part of the original manga) MonsterOfTheWeek in one of the movies proved so popular that not only did he get ''two'' more movies as the antagonist, but is now practically ''guaranteed'' to show up in every tie-in video game, regardless of whether or not he fits into the story. His English voice actor, VicMignogna, has a love-hate relationship with this. He likes Broly as a character, but [[PlayingAgainstType doing the voice is hell on his vocal chords]], so he was understandably dismayed when he and the others at Funimation found out that Broly was going to be more than a one-time gig.
** Bardock, father of Goku, [[CanonForeigner was an anime creation]] for a special going into detail the events that led up to the destruction of Planet Vegeta. The special was well received, and Bardock was actually so well liked by Akira Toriyama that he actually [[CanonImmigrant included him in the manga.]] Years down the line, Bardock became more heavily featured in the video games and eventually got a spinoff manga and OVA where he got to turn Super Saiyan too.
* ''Osu! Karate Bu'': AntiHero Yoshiyuki Takagi from the manga was originally the mentor of the original main character, Tadashi Matsushita. Takagi became so popular with readers, that the author decided to make him the main character, reducing Matsushita to a supporting role.
* In-universe example: in ''MacrossFrontier'', Ranka manages to pull this off in a [[ShowWithinAShow movie adaptation]] of [[BasedOnATrueStory the events of]] ''MacrossZero'', playing the role of Mao.
* ''MartianSuccessorNadesico'' had Ruri "Former TropeNamer for LittleMissSnarker" Hoshino, a BridgeBunny whose popularity was such that it was even noted in the anime itself (Ruri figure doll by the in-universe {{otaku}}, anyone?). Once TheMovie rolled around, guess which character had replaced Akito as the main character?
* ''Anime/{{Naruto}}'':
** Shikamaru Nara started off the series as being one of the definitive [[EnsembleDarkhorse darkhorses.]] Following the surge of popularity, Shikamaru was given [[AscendedExtra more prominence]] and CharacterDevelopment in the series. Come Shippuden, he finally was upgraded to being a Main Character, even given [[ADayInTheLimelight an entire arc]] dedicated to him.
** Lee's popularity eventually grew to him getting his own spin-off: ''Manga/RockLeesSpringtimeOfYouth'', which even got an anime adaptation.
* ''Manga/ToLoveRu'' - The sequel series took fan favorite Golden Darkness and promoted her to the co-protagonist position, alongside Momo.
* Syaoran Li of ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura''. Originally a secondary character, Syaoran became a more prominant friend (and later love interest) for Sakura, with some later episodes revolving more around his perspective than the title character. Like Sakura, Syaoran also provided the basis for several other CLAMP characters, many of them just as (or more) prominant than the former. Somewhat ironically Nelvana and WB attempted to endorse Syaoran as co lead for the ''Cardcaptors' dub to appeal to male audiences early on in its run.
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', Chopper. Most likely due to him being the most marketable character. (So much that some believe 4kids skipped arcs just to get to Chopper so they could rake in the cash.) What really brought him out was the Chopperman bits. So much so that he now has his own spinoff manga series! He's a relatively mild example, as he ''was'' intended to be one of the (currently) 9 main characters from the start. But the author probably didn't expect him to become that iconic.
** And the irony is that in-universe, he is merely thought of as the Straw Hat Crew's ''pet'', only getting a bounty after Enies Lobby of ''50 berries'', highlighting how unimportant the Marines consider him. If only they knew...
* ''Anime/YuGiOh''
** A non-character example: the Duel Monsters card game, which was originally meant as just one of many games played throughout the series, but eventually became so popular that the series was given a ReTool to make it the only game that mattered- even the few games played that ''weren't'' Duel Monsters were still about battling monsters. This carried over to the [[Anime/YuGiOhGX sequel]] [[Anime/YuGiOh5Ds series]], where there's not even a hint of any other games.
** For a character example, Kaiba, who was made to be a one use enemy for the Duel Monsters chapter and got to come back as [[BigBad a larger villain]] due to popularity, then as one of the most important characters after that, tied to the Pharaoh's backstory itself.
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'':
** Accelerator was a villain who slaughtered 10,031 clones and was eventually stopped by the protagonist, but he was so popular with the fanbase that he was given a chance to atone for it. Ever since then, he's become the {{Deuteragonist}} of the series.
** Mikoto Misaka even got her own spin-off series, ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'', that is arguably more popular than the original one.
* Yomi from ''{{Ga-Rei}}'', enough that a [[GaReiZero prequel anime]] was created to chronicle her StartOfDarkness.
* ''MedakaBox'':
** Kumagawa Misogi is a truly outstanding example of this. Introduced as TheDreaded several chapters before his appearance as the second big bad, he then proceeds to be essentially the biggest, most destructively psychopathic troll the series had seen up to that point. However, through a combination of interesting character traits and fourth wall breaking humor he rocketed to the top of the second character poll, beating out the second place character (Kurokami Medaka, the ''main character'') by several ''times'' the amount votes. His pinup in the poll results has him crying tears of joy at finally winning (and, probably, achieving his wish to see all the female characters in [[HadakaApron naked aprons]]). He's even getting his own spin-off!
** Naze Youka also qualifies to a lesser extent. Originally just a member of the Class 13, once it was revealed [[spoiler: she was the older sister to the titular character]], her significance continued to increase, as well as her popularity. She's now [[spoiler: Vice-President of the Student Council.]]
* In ''GunslingerGirl'', Triela. Originally a secondary character, she replaces Henrietta as the central character in season 2 of the {{anime}}.
* For ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'', in the Popularity Polls for the manga, Hinagiku Katsura came in the first place by a landslide ''in every single contest''. She's also the most marketed character by a huge margin with figurines of her coming out before anyone else's, two special character albums, and having the greatest volume of stuff put out.
* Osaka from ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'' got considerably less focus than the other main characters in the first volume of the manga. Compare now where she's pretty much the face of the series.
* Due to the nature of ''Manga/AxisPowersHetalia,'' this also happens considerably with a good chunk of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters. Overlaps with AscendedExtra and EnsembleDarkHorse.
* Yun of ''{{Simoun}}''. Originally tripping all of the {{Sacrificial Lamb}} flags (not in the OP when the character that's introduced alongside her is, portrayed as a prideful, somewhat antisocial fool who refuses to listen to the wisdom of others, etc.), creators reacted to her unexpected popularity by giving her one of the most important roles in the story.
* Most people equate ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' with Jotaro Kujo, Dio Brando, and the psychic powers known as Stands (most importantly [[MemeticMutation THE WORLD]]), without realizing that Jotaro is only the protagonist of Part 3. Of 8. And that the parts that preceded Part 3 featured no Stands at all, and instead a martial art that emulates sunlight so you can fight immortal vampires.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' has the witch Charlotte. She only appeared in one episode...[[WhamEpisode but what]] [[KnightOfCerebus an episode]] [[OneSceneWonder it was]]. This, and her general cuteness, made her extremely popular among the fans to the point where she was even included in group shots as an unofficial extra {{mascot}} character. [[AscendedFanon The creators noticed this]] [[AscendedExtra and gave her an expanded role in]] ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion''. In fact, [[spoiler: she changes back to her original human form and joins the other characters as a SixthRanger.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Admiral Gar Stazi of ''StarWarsLegacy''. Introduced basically to explain what happened to a pre-existing galactic faction, his appearance featured some memorable examples of badassery, prompting the author to write more and then some more stories about him. By the end of the series, he basically has his own secondary plotline, spanning one third of the issues.
* [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Scrooge McDuck]] was first created by CarlBarks as a rich LongLostUncleAesop character who invited his nephews to his cottage for Christmas. He was brought back because his greedy, misanthropic nature and personal wealth could drive stories by playing him as an antagonistic supporting character, but he slowly evolved more and more into a protagonist as he gained more character depth beyond "rich and greedy", eventually becoming the former TropeNamer for MrViceGuy. Among many fans, he's more popular than DonaldDuck, spawning Scrooge-centric works such as ''Comicbook/TheLifeAndTimesOfScroogeMcDuck'' and ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales''.
* ''[[Franchise/{{Tintin}} The Adventures of Tintin]]'':
** Captain Haddock started out as a one-shot character in ''Recap/TintinTheCrabWithTheGoldenClaws'', but became so popular that he went on to play a leading role in the rest of the series.
** Professor Calculus. Starting as the [[AbsentMindedProfessor inventor of the shark-shaped submarine]] in ''Recap/TintinRedRackhamsTreasure'', he went on to become a recurring character, and ''Recap/TintinDestinationMoon'', ''Recap/TintinExplorersOnTheMoon'' and ''Recap/TintinTheCalculusAffair'' all centered around his [[GadgeteerGenius achievements]].
** Occurred on a meta-level with the official "[[http://www.pickafont.com/images/fonts/large/t/Tintin%20Majuscules%20%20%20Bold.ttf.png Tintin font]]" that is used for the album titles. It looks vaguely "far east" because it was originally used for ''The Blue Lotus'', which takes place in China. However it stuck around and became the font for all subsequent titles.
* Back in the early to mid 1980s, ''The Comicbook/{{X-Men}}'' comics were known for their ensemble cast. Everyone was allowed their moments to shine. However, {{Wolverine}} eventually became popular, and over the next decade or so, he not only had his own solo comic, but also seemed required to be in [[WolverinePublicity every X-Men comic (and plenty of other ones) as well]]. It got to the point where one writer even lampshaded this by including one scene where Wolverine complained to his leader that he couldn't be assigned to every X-Men subgroup. In adaptations, the franchise has made a complete shift from "X-Men" to "Wolverine [-and some other guys in the background.-]" Can you say WolverinePublicity? Wolverine wasn't even an X-Men character originally to begin with. He was originally meant to be a one-shot nemesis for ''[[Comicbook/IncredibleHulk the Incredible Hulk]]''.
** [[LikeFatherLikeSon Like Father Like Daughter]]. Wolverine's OppositeSexClone, {{X-23}}, did this as well: EnsembleDarkHorse and Breakout Character on ''XMenEvolution'', she became a CanonImmigrant and has started to become the same in the books.
* ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' has {{Hawkeye}}. Originally a villain and one of then-villain Comicbook/{{Black Widow}}'s many short lived boyfriends that she manipulates into fighting Iron Man. Then, Hawkeye joined the Avengers, where he became TheLancer to Captain America. He would then go on to get several largely successful miniseries until finally becoming the leader of his own Avengers team in the form of the West Coast Avengers, which lasted quite a while. Then he fell back into the C-list, but in recent times has returned as one of the core Avengers, being a member or supporting member of most Avengers team, and to tie in with the [[Film/TheAvengers 2012 film]] even got his own ongoing that, currently, is the most critically acclaimed book (or tying for it) Marvel is publishing, while also being a core cast member of the Avengers MarvelNow! book, the Avengers Assemble comic book, and the SecretAvengers.
* ''[[SpiderMan Spider-Man]]'':
** ''Amazing Spider-Man'' #42: Peter Parker has a blind date with the neighbor's niece, Mary Jane Watson, whom the writer and artist intend as a minor character to play second banana to the real love interest, Gwen Stacy. But when in the final panel [[EstablishingCharacterMoment Mary Jane's face is finally seen]] and she says the much-quoted words "[[TheReveal Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot!]]", the letters calling for ''her'' to become Peter's girlfriend start coming. Stan Lee and John Romita eventually discover that no matter what they do, MJ is more popular with the readers than designated love interest Gwen. To cut a long and complex story short, 250 issues later Mary Jane finally consents to become Spider-Man's wife.
** ''Amazing Spider-Man'' #129: The Jackal, an established villain has duped some [[ThePunisher crazy vigilante]] into attacking Spidey. The story's finishes and thus we'll probably [[BlatantLies never hear from him again...]]
** Two alternate universe characters, SpiderGirl and ComicBook/UltimateSpiderMan, were suppose to be a one-shot and a mini series respectively. Sales and fan response were so positive that Marvel decided to create an entire alternate universe and a line of comics for both characters, The MarvelComics2 and UltimateMarvel.
** Heck, Spidey's one himself. He was originally intended to be a one-shot character in the final issue of anthology series Amazing Fantasy. Stan Lee's editor was against a spider-based superhero appearing in comics since it was generally common that people hated spiders. After his appearance in the comic he wasn't intended to appear again but the readers liked him so much from this little 11-page story he got his own series less than a year later, and nowadays he's easily one of the most popular and recognizable comic book characters in history.
* ComicBook/{{Static}} of the MilestoneComics line. Originally created as one series among many during the companies run in the 90's, Static started off as a [[EnsembleDarkhorse fan favorite]]. Later on, he was even star of the, at the time, company's swan song; Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Due in part to his [[StaticShock cartoon series]], Static has gone on to become the most well known and famous of the Milestone characters, and has since become the poster child of the line.
* Vincent Van Goat from ''QuantumAndWoody''. Originally intended as a one-issue gag, he became so popular that fans brought goat-themed toys, drawings, and memorabilia during promotional tours.
* Marv from SinCity proved popular enough in the very first story that the series switched to being told in AnachronicOrder so that he could reappear [[spoiler: after getting killed off]].
* ''ComicBook/{{Nightwing}}'': Dick Grayson, the first Robin, and formerly Batman. He started off as a kid sidekick in the 1940's, finally officially becoming his own hero in the 1980's in the ''ComicBook/TeenTitans'' comics. Creator/GeoffJohns and Creator/DanDiDio went on to later describe him as [[TheHeart "The Heart and Soul"]] of the entire DC Universe. There were plans to kill him off (permanently), but the idea was scrapped because of the above reason and because he was just too popular. Most fans don't consider Azrael to be a true successor to Batman, and in fact, hated the very idea of him being Batman. The same fans didn't complain when Dick became Batman, and plenty of fans were disappointed when it was announced that he would return to his Nightwing persona in the ComicBook/{{New 52}}.
* Batman himself. Originally he was just one of many characters being published in the anthology series ''Detective Comics''. He then became the most prominent character in the book as well as the most popular, and now, he's probably the second most well known superhero, right after Superman (and considering Supes' suffering from ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontWatch, probably the most popular).
* Likewise, ''DoomPatrol'' is relatively obscure, but Garfield Logan (Beast Boy, Changeling, or Menagerie depending on the era) certainly got a boost in prominance after the first Patrol was destroyed.
* Magog, an anti-hero from the DC {{Elseworld}} graphic novel ComicBook/KingdomCome was so well-liked among fans (and the writers themselves) that he eventually got his own series and was [[CanonImmigrant incorporated into the main]] [[Franchise/TheDCU DCU]]. [[TheScrappy Things]] [[CreatorsPet soon]] [[TakeThatScrappy soured]], [[DroppedABridgeOnHim however.]]
* The {{Smurfs}} made their debut as one-shot supporting characters in ''Johann and Peewit'', a Belgian comic book about a heroic king's page and his jester sidekick. The pair went on adventures that often featured magical creatures of the author's invention. The Smurfs were one such group of creatures, and were only intended to appear in one story. They became so popular, however, that the author kept bringing them back, and within a year they had received their own spin-off series, which completely eclipsed ''Johann and Peewit'' in popularity. What goes around comes around: Johan and Peewit (now named "Peewee") became minor characters in the Smurfs cartoon, eventually getting entire episodes to themselves (with the Smurfs showing up as cameos at the most).
* ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'':
** Princess Sally Acorn, from "ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog" and "WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM". Had more of a supporting role in early Archie. Arguably as prominent a character as Sonic himself later on. This is even more evident counting her earlier background as a minor captive in the games.
** Mina the Mongoose, first appear in the issue #76 of "ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog" Although, She was originally as a background character in the comic issue of #52, then her appearances shows up in the later issues, starting with her super speed before meeting the Freedom Fighters. She was first discovered by Sonic the Hedgehog after Dr. Eggman captured her mother and roboticized her, leaving Mina mourning and vulnerable to capture by Shadowbots. She fell in love with Sonic after spending more time with him, and tried to win over his heart. When she realized that Sonic loved Sally Acorn, she gave up on pursuing him, and she instead began a singing career, eventually becoming the lead singer for Knothole Knuts and later the Forget Me Knots. Though she left the Knothole Freedom Fighters, she remains an ally and friend to them, as well as an active-if somewhat misdirected at times-citizen of New Mobotropolis. Mina, her character design has become very popular among Sonic fans, that some of her supporters wish for her to appear in the next future Sonic the Hedgehog video games. But, still no word from the Sega Corporation.
** Dr. Robotnik became this in Archie's ''ComicBook/SonicX'' comic. It got to the point where Robotnik was practically the main character and the series was more about the many misadventures he and his robot mooks get into than about Sonic himself. Quite impressive considering that he was a side character at best when the series started.
* Swerve, a formerly minor background character, has become this in IDW's recent ''[[TheTransformersIDW Transformers]]'' comic largely because he's totally hilarious, spending all of his time making snarky comments and [[LampshadeHanging lampshading]] the many tropes and cliches that everyone else stubbles into. He also gives the greatest idea for a prank ever, moving around the furniture in someone's room while they're sleeping then pretending that nothing changed the next day (he also says that he's planning on [[UpToEleven taking it up a level]] by wheeling the victim into another room while they're sleeping]]).
* BuckyBarnes from CaptainAmerica. He was just another teen sidekick when introduced, and then killed off in flashback by Stan Lee when he reintroduced Cap into the Silver Age. For decades Bucky became a running joke as "the only character to [[DeathIsCheap stay dead]]" in comics. Fast forward to 2005 and at the very beginning of his run Creator/EdBrubaker proceeds to bring Bucky back as the Winter Soldier, a brainwashed assassin used by the Russians during the Cold War who is eventually freed from control and goes on to become a well-characterized anti-hero. And then when original Captain America Steve Rogers was killed, Bucky wound up taking over the mantle to honor his partner. And he wound up becoming such a hit that when Steve was inevitably brought back to life, the fans actually didn't want him resuming his old identity and replacing Bucky.
* It's easy to forget that ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' didn't debut in ''ComicBook/TwoThousandAD'' until Prog 2.
* Chances are, if you wear the shield of ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'', you're gonna be popular with the fans. Just look at ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}, ComicBook/{{Superboy}}, ComicBook/{{Steel}} and [[ComicBook/TheDeathOfSuperman the Cyborg Superman]].
* ''Supernatural Thrillers'' started out as an AnthologyComic where each isssue was [[ComicbookAdaptation an adaptation]] of horror/suspense literature (i.e. Creator/TheodoreSturgeon's ''It'',''Literature/TheLegendOfSleepyHollow'', ''Literature/TheInvisibleMan''), but the original creation The Living Mummy from the fifth issue proved to be so popular that the series was {{retool}}ed to be about him from seventh issue onward.
* ''{{Blade}}'' from Marvel's ''Tomb Of Dracula''. He debuted in issue #10 as a recurring ally to Quincy Harker's vampire hunting team. Harker's team who included regulars Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing were the constants of ''Tomb'' and can be considered the actal protagonists of the series. Blade did have at least one short story arc dedicated to his hunt for Deacon Frost. But he dissapeared after his mission was completed and the focus turned back to Harker's team. Today, Blade is (other than Dracula himself), considered the most longeval character from that comic. He would go on to appear in numerous 90's comic such as ''Nightstalkers'' and his own title before actually becoming the star of a series of movies and a TV series starting in 1998.
* ''SelfDemonstrating/{{Deadpool}}'' was originally designed to be a one-shot villain of the New Mutants and a parody of DC Comics' Comicbook/{{Deathstroke}}. He was later teamed up with Cable and briefly joined the X-Men and X-Force. His sociopathic comedy and constant fourth wall breaking have pushed him to the elite of Marvel Characters with his popularity rivaling that of Wolverine and Spider-Man.
** Ironically Comicbook/{{Deathstroke}} also fits this trope. Another one-shot villain that went over big with fans.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction]]
* ''PJ Fan Fiction/The Perseus Attraction'': Luke Castellan. Luke was originally intended to become the main antagonist, and Percy's rival for Annabeth. However, the breakout of his first real appearance (doing squats in a sword class listening to Noah and the Whale and Katy Perry) quickly gained him recognition among the reviewers. He further solidified his position by making stupid dream appearances with Kronsis throughout the first season, and then when he saved the entire Perseus Attraction main cast by recreating The Princess Bride (as the 'Man in Pink.) By season 3, which covers The Titan's Curse, Luke appears tag teaming the sky with Annabeth, even though he should have no part in the story at all at all, in a typically 'Luke' fashion, making him all but untouchable as the Breakout.
* The SouthOfNowhere story 'Romance on the Set' has an universe example on the show Spencer and Ashley star in with Rachel played by TaylorMomsen. She starts as a minor character but later becomes a regular and is then PromotedToLoveInterest for Ashley's character
* Electra Pendragon first appeared in Fanfic/JakeEnglishsMysteriousTheaterOfScientificRomanceFromTheYear3000, an MST series with a laughably thin ExcusePlot, as a ParodySue that [[CreatorsPet the author pretended to have an unhealthy obsession with]]. She was surprisingly well-received and ended up becoming a character in the author's next fic, Fanfic/JusticeSocietyOfJapan.
* TD from ''FanFic/{{The Non-Bronyverse}}'' was originally conceived as the protagonist for a silly one-shot story, but whose popularity (no doubt helped by his DeadpanSnarker tendencies) ended up spawning a full-fledged story, and later an entire series of works.
* In canon, [[MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Lightning Dust]] is a one episode foil that serves to show why teamwork trumps solo flying. In the Blog/ReadingRainbowverse, she becomes the center of an ever-increasingly dysfunctional family and the personal target of an eldritch abomination who dates a changeling.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film - Animated]]
* ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'': Cruella de Vil, Cruella de Vil... What does it say that the 1961 animated version treated her simply as the villain, but the '90s live-action films were essentially a VillainBasedFranchise focused on Cruella? In fact, Cruella was the only human character to return in the live-action sequel. Of course, this was compounded by the dogs not talking in the live-action versions, although they still had AmplifiedAnimalAptitude. Ironically, the [[Literature/TheHundredAndOneDalmatians original book]] had a sequel in which Cruella only had a small role.
* Iago from ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}''. His popularity has grown to the point that he's arguably more iconic than Aladdin himself, and he even has a HeelFaceTurn. Only the Genie rivals him in popularity.
* Tinker Bell and, to an extent, Tick-Tock the Crocodile from ''Disney/PeterPan''
* In the animated movie ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'', Yzma's servant Kronk delivers many of the film's funnier moments. Because of this, and partly because he was voiced by the deep-voiced Creator/PatrickWarburton, Kronk was popular enough among the fanbase to be the main character in the sequel, ''Kronk's New Groove.''
* Timon and Pumbaa from ''Disney/TheLionKing''. They got their own TV show, a POVSequel, and have tons of fanart dedicated to them, far more than Simba, Nala or Mufasa get.
* Chomper from ''TheLandBeforeTime'' film series. He was originally just a guest character brought in for the second film. But he proved to be so popular with fans and critics that he was brought back as a supporting character in the fifth film. Eventually, he became a main character in the TV series as well.
* Despite being almost pure comedy relief, the Penguins and King Julien from ''WesternAnimation/{{Madagascar}}'' and its sequel were so obscenely popular that they got their own SpinOff, ThePenguinsOfMadagascar. Nobody really cared that it seemed to take place in a completely AlternateUniverse (there's no feasible way the two series can co-exist) - the characters are just ''that'' awesome.
* Puss in Boots, the swashbuckling feline who became the primary protagonist of the 2011 spin-off prequel ''WesternAnimation/PussInBoots'', was a supporting character who first appeared in ''{{Shrek 2}}'' as an assassin on Shrek and Donkey's life before making amends and joining them as a PowerTrio in all the other sequels. Audience and critics alike gave him credit for stealing the show. Even after the Shrek franchise ended, his own popular spinoff has left room for an entirely new franchise focused on him.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'', if script revisions count for this trope. In Brad Bird's first draft, the main antagonist was a ''Film/JamesBond''-style DiabolicalMastermind named Xerek. There was also a minor villain, an old enemy of Bob and Helen's, named Syndrome, who attacks their home early in the first act and dies shortly afterward when the house blows up. With his one scene, Syndrome made a bigger impression on the initial readers than Xerek did, so Brad Bird made Syndrome the BigBad and relegated Xerek to a role in the spinoff comicbook series.
** Violet Parr became one of Pixar's most popular female characters and fans have stated they would like her as the protagonist in the upcoming sequel.
* ''WesternAnimation/AGoofyMovie'' introduced Bobby, who became insanely popular for a brand new PluckyComicRelief character who only appeared in about 20% of the movie and had no familial relationships with other characters, as well as an "exception" for many Pauly Shore haters but not at all for his fans. The sequel makes him a main character ''and'' gives him a closer relationship to Max and PJ while the other new characters from the movie [[ChuckCunninghamSyndrome disappear without explanation]].
* Scrat from the ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' franchise, quickly rose to the most popular character in the film, he even has a special segment of his own in the first film.
* ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo'' has Dory. She's so popular, the upcoming sequel ''Finding Dory'' will give her a larger role.
* Tai Lung and Lord Shen, the villains of the WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda movies, are some of the most popular characters.
* The [[SpotlightStealingSquad scene-stealing]] Minions from ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe'' definitely qualify. They're little, cute, hilarious, and practically the only reason why anyone watches the films. They have starred in countless mini-films, dominate the soundtrack, have earned the position of official Mascot of ''Universal Pictures'', and are getting a feature film of their own in 2014 ''Minions''.
* The Triplets from ''WesternAnimation/{{Brave}}''; Hamish, Harris and Hubert stole the show and the viewers' hearts. If ever ''Brave'' gets a sequel or a spinoff, there will very likely be more focus on them.
* Vanellope von Scweetz, the adorable, sharp tongued, princess sidekick of WreckItRalph, only thing is there was so much focus on her, and her development of character, the movie should have been named after ''her''. At least now she's dominanting all spinoff media as well as the DisneyInfinity Game.
* ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'' has Elsa the Snow Queen. Fans fell in love with everything about her: Her story, her conflicted emotions, her beauty, her iconic outfit, her trademark song, "Let It Go", and her powers. Many of the critics reviewed that one of the few flaws with the film, was that there wasn't enough of Elsa. Heck, most of them and many fans even wanted Elsa to be the protagonist, instead of the deuteragonist!
* And {{Disney}}'s TropeCodifier: [[Disney/SleepingBeauty Malenificent]]. Many of the heroic characters in ''{{Disney/SleepingBeauty}}'' were shallow and bland by comparison. But every time the evil fairy showed up, she shamelessly stole the scene. To this day, she is perhaps ''the'' iconic Disney Villain. Malenificent is all over the merchandice, possibly one of [[BestBossEver the most epic bosses]] in ''KingdomHearts'', and is even getting a movie of her own starring Angelina Jolie!
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film - Live-Action]]
* DazedAndConfused's David Wooderson. Originally a more minor character, Richard Linklater was so impressed with Matthew [=McConaughey's=] performance, he ended up writing much more dialogue for him.
* In the first ''Film/FridayThe13th1980'' Jason was supposed to have [[DeadForReal drowned]] before the events of the film. His mother is actually the killer in this film. However, the writer saw the movie ''Film/{{Carrie 1976}}'' and wanted a shocker ending, so Jason crawls out of the lake at the end of the movie. Sequels would have Jason as the main character, though he did not get his iconic hockey mask until [[Film/FridayThe13thPartIII the third movie]].
* ''Film/ThePinkPanther'' was originally meant to be about David Niven's jewel thief character, with Inspector Clouseau bumbling antagonist. Then a last-minute casting change put Creator/PeterSellers in the Clouseau role, and the rest is history. Let's face it, the whole thing ended up turned around. The thief, the antihero, the glamour romance interest and the plot all end up being forgotten in favour of Clouseau. The animated Pink Panther that appeared in the opening credits to the movies ended up as an independent character.
* Agent Phil Coulson from the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse is the very definition of this. In the first ''Iron Man'', he's had a quite a minor role as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. ''Insanely'' positive fan reaction to his character got his role somewhat expanded in ''Iron Man 2'', and in ''Thor'' and ''The Avengers'' he's outright one of the central characters. It gets better: The guy headlines his own short films, has his own comic book series, and from the looks of it, is getting bigger and bigger. Even [[spoiler:his own death]] couldn't stop him, as he just was [[spoiler:resurrected]] to lead the TV series ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD''.
** To a lesser extent Film/IronMan himself fits this primarily because before the movies came out, he was gradually being shifted into the background. While he was still a mainline superhero in the Marvel Universe, people just wanted to see everyone else more. Then the movies came out and suddenly, Iron Man is one of the biggest things ever to exist. To the point that he's arguably overshadowed ''Spider-Man'' in popularity these days.
** Loki. Despite having previously appeared in ''Thor'', it wasn't until his depiction in ''The Avengers'' that Loki became almost as merchandise-able as the heroes themselves. Suddenly people wanted more of Loki and actor Tom Hiddleston to the point that Target even released their own ''Thor: Dark World'' Blu-ray packagaing that features only Loki on the cover.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** Han Solo. Creator/GeorgeLucas wanted [[TheHero Luke Skywalker]] to be the hero that everyone else just supports, but the public [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys just went for Han]]. Doesn't hurt that it was Creator/HarrisonFord, [[MemeticSexGod even before he was big]].
** Even Darth Vader is one of these. In the first movie, he barely even appears, and when he does, he's usually being [[TheDragon subordinate]] to Grand Moff Tarkin. In early drafts of the script, he was even killed in the Death Star trench run, and was never intended to [[ItWasHisSled be Luke's father]]. Fortunately, however, Lucas decided to insert a shot of him escaping as a SequelHook, and he ended up becoming ''the'' big villain of the series, enough to warrant a three-movie-long StartOfDarkness arc.
** Admiral Piett is a more minor example. Viewers found him so sympathetic in Episode V that he was written in to Episode VI to reprise his own role as Admiral of Vader's fleet... and then he dies.
*** At least he [[GoingDownWithTheShip went down fighting]].
** Boba Fett became so popular, that a decent chunk of the prequel trilogy's second film was dedicated to his own coming of story. His father became the sole genetic basis for the Grand Army of the Republic, one of the single most influential factions in the entire Star Wars saga. He was popular enough that he was even digitally added into a restored scene of ''A New Hope'' when Lucas released the Special Editions of the original trilogy. This in addition to his role as a supporting character and even a protagonist in the Expanded Universe stories. All of this is pretty crazy when you realize he has just two lines in Episode V and none in Episode VI.
* Logan's ActionGirl sidekick Yukio in ''Film/TheWolverine''.
* Slimer from ''Film/{{Ghostbusters}}'' didn't even have a name in the original film, yet he wound up the mascot of the cartoon series and franchise. The 3rd season of the cartoon series was even titled ''Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters''. His semi-official name during production of the first film was Onionhead, but the [[FanNickname fans nicknamed him Slimer]] and it stuck.
* Captain Jack Sparrow, of the ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' movies. The original intention was for the series to focus on the adventures of up-and-coming pirate Will Turner. Jack was meant to be a freewheeling, accidental mentor, with a large role only in the first film. But JohnnyDepp ended up re-imagining Jack in such a hilarious, fascinating way that he dominates the first movie. His increased role continues into the sequels until the fourth film, where he's the only star and the previous main characters are not present.
** Barbossa similarly was originally only meant to be a {{Foil}} and nemesis Jack in the first film, but proved to be so memorable due to Geoffrey Rush's incredible performance that the writers decided to [[BackFromTheDead resurrect]] him at the end of the second film, leading him to become one of the main characters in the third and fourth.
* Aldous Snow from ''Film/ForgettingSarahMarshall'' who got his [[SpinOff own movie]], ''Film/GetHimToTheGreek''.
* ''Film/TropicThunder'' - [[TomCruise Les Grossman]], the foul mouthed movie producer has his own movie in the works.
* ''Film/{{Clerks}}'' - Jay and Silent Bob are originally bit characters. Smith put them again in ''Film/{{Mallrats}}'' only because he wanted to see Jason Mewes play Jay one more time. According to his blog, he had no idea they were so popular at all until the screening of ''Mallrats'' at 1995 San Diego Comic Con. After that, he felt confident enough to put them as bit characters again in ''Film/ChasingAmy'', to give them a more prominent part in ''Film/{{Dogma}}'', and finally to make a whole movie about them: ''Film/JayAndSilentBobStrikeBack''. And, of course, they made their return in ''Film/ClerksII''.
* Burt Gummer, a supporting character in the original ''Film/{{Tremors}}'', wound up stealing the franchise so completely that the TV series never bothered to give leads Kevin Bacon or Fred Ward so much as a ContinuityNod.
* ''AmericanPie'' - Stifler starts out as a supporting character, establishing himself as a jerkass who is only interested in sex. In the sequel, he actually gets involved in the main plot, getting much more screen time even though he continues to be the same selfish jerk throughout the entire film. The third movie goes much further, with Stifler as the central character, making the ultimate transition into JerkWithAHeartOfGold, which took up most of the film's plot. In the fourth movie, he's the deuteragonist.
* Creator/TommyLeeJones' version of Deputy Gerard in ''Film/TheFugitive'' was so popular that he got his own sequel, ''Film/USMarshals''.
* [[AlphaBitch Sharpey Evans]] from the ''HighSchoolMusical'' films, despite being the DesignatedVillain, proved so popular that she ended up getting her own spin-off film in which she's the protagonist.
* Punic Wars-era strong man Maciste (played by Bartolomeo Pagano) was the breakout character of the Italian epic ''Cabiria'' (1914). Pagano reprised his role as the star of 25 Maciste films in the following twelve years, and a further slew of SwordAndSandal films during the 1960s and 1970s starred various other actors in the same role.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* The Ponson Du Terrial 19th Century saga that came to be known as ''Rocambole'' was originally called ''The Dramas of Paris'' the first Book of which was sub titled ''The Mysterious Inheritance''. The Hero was Armand de Kurgas and the BigBad was his half brother and EvilCounterpart Adrea Feliponi aka Sir Williams. Baccarat was a supporting character, not even the most prominent female, and Rocmabole was a Minor character who only show sup near the end. But those latter 2 character were the most popular.
** So in the second Novel Rocambole becomes TheDragon and Baccaret the main Hero of the story, and given her own EvilCounterpart in FemmeFatale Torquise. Andrea is still the BigBad but Armand is absent much of the story and seems useless when he is there.
** 3rd book Baccarat is still the lead protagonist, now dealing with her Evil Doppleganger half sister. Armand's role is even smaller, Rocambole is DragonInCheif to a mute Andrea serving more[[Spoiler: and becomes DragonAscendent]]
** Then he get a HeelFaceTurn and becomes TheHero of the saga with the other main character phased out all together.
* Slappy, the DemonicDummy of ''{{Goosebumps}}'' fame was a minor character in the first ''Night of the Living Dummy'' book, but in the sequels was brought back as the primary villain.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** Samuel Vimes was originally intended to be a minor character in City Watch sub-series, with Carrot being the major character. Suffice it to say, Samuel Vimes is likely only beaten by Death and the Librarian for the number of books he's in.
** Death. He started out as a joke in ''Discworld/TheColourOfMagic''. He appears in nearly all of the books, sometimes as a main character.
* Literature/TheLumatereChronicles: Froi. He begins as an immoral thief and supreme ButtMonkey who just cannot catch a break, and ''deserves'' it to a degree as well, but he grows on the group of Exiles when [[TheHero Finnikin]] and [[ActionGirl Evanjalin]] save him from slave traders. He begins to speak the language of Lumatere, albeit poorly. Later on, he helps gather the Lumateren exiles from around the continent in order to regain the kingdom and helps to rebuild Lumatere as well. In book two, ''Froi of the Exiles'', he takes center stage and the readers are shown just how much CharacterDevelopment he's gone through.
* [[Literature/{{Psmith}} Rupert Psmith]] was a supporting character in Creator/PGWodehouse's school-story ''Mike'', but quickly eclipsed the stolid protagonist to become the star of the novel. In later books he is the central character. As Creator/EvelynWaugh wrote: "One can date exactly the first moment when Wodehouse was touched by the sacred flame. It occurs halfway through ''Mike'' ... Psmith appears and the light is kindled which has burned with growing brilliancy for half a century."
* The novels [[Literature/AgentPendergast ''Relic'' and ''Reliquary'']] have Batman-like, super-competent FBI Agent Pendergast as the tertiary main character (who didn't even manage to appear in the film of the book). The authors subsequently made him the main character of their next several books. Note that this wiki's own page for the series even bears his name.
* Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh from the PinkCarnation series by Lauren Willig. In the first few books, he's a very minor character -- young and handsome, but so daft and foppish that no one takes him seriously. He appears in a few society scenes, but has nothing to do with the plot. Turnip was so popular with fans, however, that Willig gave him his own book, ''The Mischief of the Mistletoe''.
* ''Literature/TheIcewindDaleTrilogy'' was originally supposed to be about Wulfgar and his friends, one of whom was a dark elf named Drizzt Do'Urden. The first book is pretty much like this, the second book has everybody pretty much share the spotlight, and by the third book Drizzt has clearly become the star. Salvatore followed up with ''Literature/TheDarkElfTrilogy'', a prequel series which told Drizzt's life story before he met the others, cementing Drizzt's status as TheHero. The greater series as a whole became known as ''Literature/TheLegendOfDrizzt''.
* Literature/AlbertCampion in the series of novels by Margery Allingham. He was originally just a minor character in ''The Crime at Black Dudley'', but Margery Allingham found him so fascinating that he became the lead character in a series of novels.
* ''InterviewWithTheVampire'' is Louis's story, with Lestat as a villain and supporting character (he's actually absent for a good chunk of the novel midway). But thanks to all the positive feedback he got in Interview, Rice saw fit to not only make the sequel from Lestat's POV, but to pretty much make him the protagonist of the whole damn ''TheVampireChronicles'' series.
* RamonaQuimby, star of Beverly Cleary's beloved book series started off as a minor character in the ''Henry Huggins'' series.
* Edward D. Hoch originally wrote Captain Leopold as a supporting character in a story about private investigator Al Darlan; he went on to be Hoch's main detective.
* Evvy of the ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'' universe by Creator/TamoraPierce. She was one of the students that the first four protagonists found in their travels, but thanks to her terrible living situation Briar decided to take her with him, whereas the other students were okay where they were and haven't appeared since. Evvy was the protagonist of ''Melting Stones'' in the next series and tritagonist in ''Battle Magic'' with Briar and Rosethorn after that.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* Arthur 'The Fonz' Fonzarelli from ''HappyDays'' is such a good example, few people know it is an example at all. ''HappyDays'' originally was written around Ron Howard's Richie Cunningham character with Anson William's Potsie as his co-lead. The Fonz character was only supposed to be an incidental character, but his popularity grew so dramatically that [[ExecutiveMeddling the network]] even tried to [[SpotlightStealingTitle change the title]] to ''Fonzie's Happy Days'' until Henry Winkler himself (along with the rest of the cast and the director) protested it. Most of the plots did begin to revolve around The Fonz character and the AnimatedAdaptation did end up being called the ''WesternAnimation/TheFonzAndTheHappyDaysGang''.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Believe it not, The Doctor himself qualifies. True, he's the title character and his actor got top billing, but the producers had always intended for the show's protagonist to be Ian Chesterton, the dashing science teacher and man of action who served as one of the Doctor's first companions. The Doctor was envisioned as more of a mentor figure and guide. Thanks to William Hartnell's authoritative performance, however, the Doctor quickly took over the show, and stories began to revolve around him starting with the second season.
** Jago and Litefoot from "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" were so popular a spin-off was considered. This didn't happen but they got their own series with Creator/BigFinish.
** Jack Harkness was so popular that a [[Series/{{Torchwood}} spinoff series]] followed not too long after.
** Rory Williams is so popular, many viewers believed (with very good reason) that he would be the title character in "A Good Man Goes to War". And with the Doctor telling Kovarian that good men don't need rules and it's not a good idea to find out why he has so many, it basically was.
** Sarah Jane Smith, who also later gained a [[Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures spinoff]].
** Jamie [=McCrimmon=] was only supposed to be a one-off character in "The Highlanders", but ended up traveling with the Second Doctor for all but his first serial, making him the longest serving companion in terms of consecutive episodes.
** The Daleks were only intended to appear in the second story and nearly didn't appear at all, but changed the direction of the show from educational to AliensAndMonsters and became the most popular characters. There were even plans for them to have a spin-off.
** The Weeping Angels dethroned the Daleks as the fan voted most scariest monster, and became one the most popular of the Doctor's rogue gallery in the revived series, and thus were brought back again and again (despite never having any direct linkage to the particular story arc[[spoiler:, with the exception of the Cracks in Time]]).
* The character of [[SitcomArchNemesis Mimi]] on ''TheDrewCareyShow'' was originally only supposed to appear in the pilot.
* Steve Urkel on ''FamilyMatters''. The degree to which Urkel the ExtravertedNerd took over the show is hard to exaggerate. It's not uncommon to hear people refer to it as [[IconicCharacterForgottenTitle ''The Urkel Show''.]]
** The fact that ''FamilyMatters'' started out as a spin-off of ''PerfectStrangers'' meant to spotlight Carl and Harriett Winslow makes this feel pretty absurd.
* "Reverend" Jim Ignatowsky on ''Series/{{Taxi}}'', played by Christopher Lloyd. The character first appeared in a one-shot role in the first season, being hired to officiate Latka's green card "wedding", but he was so well-received that the producers brought him back early in Season Two, becoming a regular just a few weeks in.
* Barney Fife on ''TheAndyGriffithShow.''
* Paul and Jamie's respective families on ''MadAboutYou''.
* Arnold Jackson from ''DiffrentStrokes''.
* Arthur Daley from the United Kingdom comedy-drama ''{{Minder}}''.
* London Tipton from ''TheSuiteLifeOfZackAndCody''.
* Barnabas Collins from ''Series/DarkShadows'', who was originally slated to be staked within a few weeks of his first appearance.
* Benson from ''Series/{{Soap}}'' the resident sarcastic character, who (when he left) received his own series, ''Series/{{Benson}}''.
* Avon from ''Series/BlakesSeven''. He was just initially supposed to be TheLancer to the titular Blake but Terry Nation (not to mention the audience) loved the spins Paul Darrow would put on his lines so much that by the second season Avon was a full-fledged {{Deuteragonist}} and when Gareth Thomas (Blake) left the series, it continued on for two more seasons with Avon as the protagonist.
* Nasir, the Saracen in ''RobinOfSherwood''. Originally TheDragon for the BigBad in the pilot, actor Mark Ryan's [[WorthyOpponent Badass]] portrayal was so full of win that the series creator wisely gave him a HeelFaceTurn so that he [[ThrowItIn joined the Merry Men]]. Kevin Costner's ''[[Film/RobinHoodPrinceOfThieves Robin Hood]]'' later borrowed Nasir and altered his name after a crewman [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood:_Prince_of_Thieves#Reception pointed out]] possible copyright infringement.
* Kramer from ''{{Seinfeld}}'' - He is considered by many fans to be the most popular character of the series.
* ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'': Tommy Oliver, originally the SixthRanger, eventually took leadership throughout Seasons 2-3, completely ignoring the ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' franchise's tradition of having the Red Ranger as the leader, demoting him to [[TheLancer sub-leader]] status (granted, the actor who played the original Red Ranger was [[CommutingOnABus already leaving the show]]). When Jason leaves, his replacement Rocky, the first RookieRedRanger, is such in colors only. Tommy eventually became Red Ranger himself in ''Series/PowerRangersZeo'' and part of ''Series/PowerRangersTurbo'', establishing the Red = leader status quo. There was ''much'' rejoicing when he returned for ''Series/PowerRangersDinoThunder'' as TheMentor, the Black Ranger.
* J.J. Evans from ''GoodTimes''. This was made even worse when two of the main characters were either killed off or temporarily gone, making J.J. even more of the focus of the show. The ''original'' star, Esther Rolle, actually left the show over it and only came back on the condition that they clean up the J.J. character.
* Many of the character of TheMuppets are this. Some examples include Kermit, who started off as a supporting character on the show SamAndFriends before eventually become of The Muppet's unofficial leader and Gonzo, whose role has expanded over time, especially in the movies, where he is one of ThoseTwoGuys or the LemonyNarrator, but later had an [[CanonDiscontinuity imaginary]] film regarding his origins/species, in which he was the protagonist. He also had an expanded role in MuppetBabies as a DoggedNiceGuy toward Miss Piggy.
* ''StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': Spock's popularity threatened to overshadow Kirk; in an attempt to avert this, the PowerTrio of Kirk/Spock/[=McCoy=] was emphasised.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'':
** The Emergency Medical Hologram ("the Doctor"). It help that he was the only character more or less written consistently, and with some CharacterDevelopment in that entire show.
** Seven Of Nine ended up being another one after she joined the show partway through, and for [[DeadpanSnarker totally]] [[HeReallyCanAct different reasons]] than what the [[FanService producers intended.]]
** Interestingly, according to internet reviewer SFDebris, Neelix was originally created with this role in mind. It didn't work out so well.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': Quark and Garak became a lot more popular than anticipated.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' had Worf. Watching the first season it's clear he doesn't really have a whole lot to do other than being a Klingon hanging around the bridge and glowering at people to indicate the series was in The Future! compared to TheOriginalSeries. By later in the run entire main story arcs were devoted to the character, changes in the setting of the Star Trek universe (such as the Klingon Civil War) revolved around him, and that carried over to ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'', which made him one of only two characters to be a regular in more than one Star Trek series.
** John de Lancie's Q was the other one: the character is the only one to have appeared in all three of the contemporaneous Star Trek series in a major role in the episode (as opposed to a quick cameo).
** Data was basically Spock 2.0.
* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'''s Dr. Carson Beckett was originally just billed as a supporting character but ended up in almost every episode of the first season, leading to the producers upgrading him to lead status for the second and third. [[spoiler: They then tried to kill him off but fan attachment was strong enough that, in Daniel Jackson-esque fashion, he was [[CloningBlues brought back]] as a recurring character.]]
* Dennis Finch (David Spade) in ''JustShootMe''.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** Spike started out as an EnsembleDarkHorse, than his role got larger as the show went on and he became one of the major characters, which continued when he appeared in ''Series/{{Angel}}''. He even got his own miniseries in the ''After the Fall/Season 9'' comics.
** The entire ex-Sunnydale cast of ''Series/{{Angel}}''. They got their own show.
** Jonathan. He was always shown as a generic Sunnydale student and later EnsembleDarkHorse in the earlier seasons. A later season has him return and turn out be [[spoiler: a villain.]] But [[spoiler: [[AffablyEvil not really evil.]]]] In any case, more important than originally thought.
** Anya. [[WordOfGod Originally]] a literal MonsterOfTheWeek, she was such an interesting character that she got a second episode outing, then was repurposed as Xander's rebound love interest. Joss Whedon did try to [[PutOnABus write her out]] on more than one occasion, but kept bringing her back. [[spoiler: He waited until The Finale to kill her off.]]
* Elmo from ''Series/SesameStreet'' was a minor ([[NoNameGiven originally unnamed]]) background Muppet in the show's early years before becoming the one of main focuses of the show and the CreatorsPet.
* ''MelrosePlace'' - Both Marcia Cross (Kimberly) and Heather Locklear (Amanda), with Kimberly stealing the crown in particular with her antics on the show...
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'': Ben. He was originally meant to be a minor Other who would appear in only three episodes. Extremely positive reception made this extend to eight; then it went to being a series regular (the original leader of the Others was rewritten to be Ben) and one of the show's most important characters. The same applies to Desmond: originally meant to only be in the first three episodes, his popularity made them bring back Desmond, focus the two hour finale on him, and make him a series regular the next year.
* ''Series/{{Dallas}}'':
** J.R. Ewing was only supposed to be a supporting cast member, with the thrust of the storyline revolving around the feuding families. J.R. quickly stole the focus and the producers admitted he had become the breakout character of his series.
** Cifff Barnes, Donna Culver, and Clayton Farlow to a much lesser extent as all three were only guest stars before they became part of the cast. Cliff Barnes ultimately appeared in more episodes than anyone else not called J.R. Ewing.
* ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'': [[AlmightyJanitor The Janitor]] became a Breakout Character. He was intended to be a background character to torment J.D. (if the show ended before the first half of the second season, he was going to be a figment of J.D.'s imagination), but the creators quickly (and thankfully) realized how awesome he was and included him in the main cast.
* ''{{Newhart}}'': "[[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083455/ Hi. I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.]]"
* ''Series/FamilyTies'' was supposed to focus on the parents. The kids, especially Alex, quickly stole the spotlight.
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'':
** Hiro Nakamura.
** Sylar's popularity conflicted with the fact that season 1 was about killing him, so bringing him back sort of made everything from that season seem pointless and made his presence increasingly unneeded...
** In the original publicity for the series, Niki is ''much'' more prominent than Claire (see the show's page image). Claire turned out to be one of the show's most popular characters; Niki... [[TheScrappy not so much.]]
* ''TheManFromUNCLE'': An example of a successful ReTool which made a minor character into a Breakout Character: The original premise had Napoleon Solo working alone, with Illya Kuryakin intended to be only a minor recurring character. Kuryakin struck such a chord with the show's fans, however, that he was raised to one of the leads.
* ''Series/TheWestWing'':
** President Bartlet was only supposed to be in four episodes a season, with the show focusing on the White House Senior Staff. But when Creator/MartinSheen's performance wowed the production team, the show was retooled to make Bartlet a main character.
** Donna Moss was intended to be a minor character, on level with the other assistants on the show. Bradley Whitford (who plays Josh, her boss) pointed out their fantastic onscreen chemistry to the producers. This led to Donna being upgraded to a main character with her own storylines, and replacing the character Mandy as Josh's main love interest.
* [[MommasBoy Bernardo]] and [[CloudCuckooLander Cañizares]] from the Spanish ''CameraCafe'', though they don't appear that much lately.
* Derek Reese on ''TheSarahConnorChronicles'' due to Brian Austin Green's haunting portrayal; when his character gets killed off it begins a fan hemmorhage.
* ''Series/GossipGirl'':
** Chuck Bass. The show originally gave him a similar role in the book as a date raping villain while also having him as Nate's sidekick. However his astounding popularity has led to him taking center stage to the point where Nate (who is the main male character of the books) seems to have mostly been shoved into the background while Chuck Bass is developed into a more likable character through his relationship with Blair and redemption plotline.
** Blair is an even more prevalent example. Early on Serena was the main character but Blair quickly passed her for that title (although ironically Creator/BlakeLively became a bigger star than Leighton Meester).
*** YMMV when it comes to who the actual protagonist of the TV series was - Blair did get a lot of stories and screentime later on, but the series began and ended with a Serena-centred plot. In the books, on the other hand, Blair's indeed more prevalent than Serena.
* Sophia Petrilo of ''TheGoldenGirls'' was original intended to be an occasional DropInCharacter, but test audiences loved her so much that she was made an equal to the other three.
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}'':
** Abigail Sciuto (Abby).
** Later Jimmy Palmer.
* ''PrisonBreak'' has Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell, originally intended to appear in two episodes only. The character was so popular in those two episodes only that he was promoted to main character and appeared in all four seasons.
** Also, [[HospitalHottie Sara]]. To the extend that, when it was rumored that she may not be around for season 3, fans signed a petition to ask for her to continue being a part of the series.
** Mahone had become so popular by the end of season 2 that the writers decided not to kill him off like they originally intended to, and keep him alive [[spoiler: and locked in Sona.]]
* Orenthal Gibson (Gibby) on ''Series/ICarly''. To the extent that he starred in one of two pilots for a potential spinoff (the one that ''didn't'' become a series, mind).
* In Season 4 of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', Castiel was only supposed to appear in a few episodes and then another character was to take his place as Dean's angel guide. However, general consensus decided he'd become the EnsembleDarkHorse. Even though he'd only gotten less than 40 minutes of screen-time at that point, the episode "On the Head of a Pin" (4.16) featured him heavily and 4.20 ("Rapture") centered on his vessel, [[spoiler: Jimmy]]. In Season 5, Misha Collins (Castiel's actor) was promoted to regular status.
** Bobby Singer was originally slated to be in only one episode, but circumstances led to him being given more appearances. Luckily the fans loved him. Fastforward to season seven and Bobby is one of the most frequently recurring characters on the show and Sam and Dean both admit to seeing him as the father [[ParentsAsPeople John]] never was.
* Barney Stinson on ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''.
** Which is actually an example of FridgeBrilliance, since Barney's prominence does interfere with Future!Ted's story about meeting his future children's mother...but it's completely realistic that Ted's life ''isn't'' conveniently tailored to somehow be completely thematically compliant with the story of the mother, and Ted can't cut out important parts of his life just because he wasn't the most important figure in those events.
** The landmark 150th episode replaced the opening with a gag opening called "How I Met Barney."
* Abed on ''Series/{{Community}}''.
** Also Troy and Chang. More and more of the series' gags tend to revolve around these three characters.
** You could call The Dean one as well. After all, he went from a recurring secondary character in the first two season to a series regular, featured in the title sequence, for Season 3.
** Annie's role was also expanded greatly after the [[Front13Back9 first thirteen episodes]] of the show. Her character underwent a major change, from buttoned-up nerdy girl who had a secondary role at best in most episodes, to becoming a major part of several storylines and one of Jeff's two main love interests. [[WordOfGod Dan Harmon]] has said this was done in response to "Debate 109," the episode in which Jeff and Annie kiss, as well as Alison Brie's breakout popularity.
* Snooki on ''JerseyShore'', which is an unusual example considering ''Jersey Shore'' is a reality show. The same thing happend with [[TheDitz Zlatko]] in the first season of the german ''Big Brother''.
* The first "''Celebrity Series/{{Jeopardy}}''" sketch on ''SaturdayNightLive'' was written to showcase ... Norm Macdonald's Burt Reynolds impression. Darrell Hammond as SeanConnery was just to round out the players.
* Guy of Gisborne from the BBC's ''Series/RobinHood'' was never a minor character (and the actor had top billing, behind only Robin himself and Marian [[spoiler:until she was killed off]]), but halfway through the first season the writers develop a serious man-crush on him and his relationship with Marian. By season three, the show may as well be called "Guy of Gisborne."
* ''Series/{{Glee}}''
** Kurt became a fan favorite. To the point that a huge chunk of season 2 was devoted to him, [[CreatorsPet even when he was doing fine and had no relation to the main plot]].
** Sue Sylvester, who wasn't even in the first script drafts until some fairly subtle ExecutiveMeddling and even then wasn't intended as a major character. Importantly, Sue does appear in the very first scene of the first episode, but only as a one-joke character.
* ''XenaWarriorPrincess'': Xena originally started out as a villainous warlord in ''HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys''. The fanbase loved her so much that she got her own show, which in time eclipsed the old show in popularity.
* Jaime Summers, The Bionic Woman, was meant to be a one time character in a two-part episode of ''TheSixMillionDollarMan'', to the point where she died at the end. However, the character's popularity caused the writers to retcon her death and give her a spinoff.
* Zachary Smith from ''Series/LostInSpace'' became so popular that the show's producer, Creator/IrwinAllen, created an {{Expy}} of Smith in his later series ''Series/LandOfTheGiants''.
* [[InsufferableGenius Sheldon]] on ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' is pretty much the new Urkel.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' - Chiana was intended to die at the end of her first episode. Instead, she became a main character for the rest of the show's run.
** Scorpius was originally intended as a one-shot villain for the first season finale, but proved such a hit with fans that he was promoted to BigBad for the next two seasons and eventually [[spoiler:became one of the protagonists in Season 4]].
* ''Series/AreYouBeingServed'' - The original concept was originally to have Mr. Lucas and Miss Brahms as the leads, being the younger and more "normal" characters. However, the more flamboyant Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Humphries stole the spotlight.
* Jazz in ''FreshPrinceOfBelAir'' was originally just a guest star to [[MetaCasting call back to Will's earlier career in music]]. He eventually became a main character (as well as a RunningGag).
* Phoebe in ''Series/{{Charmed}}''. She was really just there in the first two seasons as a background character but fans loved her and in season 3 she was given the main plot arc while Prue was shunted aside and eventually [[McLeaned killed off when the actress left the series]].
** Leo Wyatt and Cole Turner also became breakout characters. However, Cole was eventually dropped in the middle of the fifth season.
* Klinger in ''Series/{{MASH}}'' started as a one-note bit part in a handful of Season 1 episodes; by the end of the series, he'd been promoted to the main cast, replacing Radar as Company Clerk.
* When ''Series/LawAndOrderSVU'' began it was quite clear that despite the largish cast, everyone was there really as secondary characters to Benson and Stabler. Then people started noticing Fin Tutuola. While the original pair stayed the main focus, Ice-T's Fin had several episodes and even a significant story arc and arch-enemy, sometimes to the point that the main pair barely make an appearance.
* Benson on ''Series/{{Soap}}'', notably, he was spun off into his own show before he could become a SpotlightStealingSquad.
* Jill Monroe in ''Series/CharliesAngels''. Despite the fact that she only starred in the first season, she is considered by many fans to be the most popular (for reasons not unconnected with her being played by Farrah Fawcett-Majors).
* Frasier Crane was originally supposed to be in ''{{Cheers}}'' for only a few episodes, but because of his popularity, he became a main character. When the series ended, he starred in a ''SpinOff'' show.
** Lilith Sternin also counts as originally she was only supposed to appear in one episode.
* Niles Crane in ''{{Frasier}}''.
** To a lesser extent Bulldog, he started off as a guest star, but fans liked him enough that he became a part of the main cast. However, the producers eventually dropped him when he started appearing in less episodes. He continued to appear occaisonally.
* Dylan Mckay in ''BeverlyHills90210'' (despite not being in the pilot).
** Also Kelly Taylor, to a lesser extent.
** The sequel series has Naomi Clark replacing Annie Wilson as the central character of the show starting Season 2.
* Doug Ross in ''{{ER}}''.
** Several members of the cast introduced later in the series also became breakout characters.
** One could argue that several others from the first season rose in prominence, as well. Carol Hathaway is a prime example, as she was originally scripted to die from her suicide attempt in the pilot. However the test audience (and executive producer Creator/StevenSpielberg) enjoyed her so much that she was given a PromotionToOpeningTitles in the second episode, became part of the show's supercouple (with Doug Ross, as it turns out), and won Julianna Margulies an Emmy in 1995 (the only one from the ''entire'' main cast to earn such an honor). She also earned more nominations than any of the other cast members (at six total, starting out as a supporting female before being upgraded to Lead Actress).
** John Carter also received greater exposure as time went on, starting out as fourth-billed in the pilot's opening credits before becoming the central protagonist in the ninth season. However, this may have more to do with the fact that Noah Wyle was simply the only member of the original cast to remain up through then. Even so, Wyle received more Emmy nominations for his work than any cast member besides Margulies, and it's a testament to his character that the closing arc of the series was centered on his return to Chicago, especially as this was 4 years after Wyle departed from the show. [[ArcWords "Set the tone", indeed]].
* Lt. Series/{{Columbo}} began life as a throwaway character from an episode of a short-lived anthology series called ''The Chevy Mystery Show''. Here he was played by Bert Freed. That particular episode, "Enough Rope", was later remade as a MadeForTVMovie titled ''Prescription: Murder'', which marked Peter Falk's debut as the character. Even then, the murderer, played by Gene Barry, was envisioned as a VillainProtagonist with Columbo intended as a supporting character. Instead, Gene Barry's character became simply the first of many murderers to be outwitted by Lt. Columbo.
* Kelso on ''That70sShow''. He began as one of the lower-tier main characters and later surpassed Topher Grace as the star. Seasons 6 and 7 even focused more on his character development than Eric's as he dealt with the trials of fatherhood.
* Camille Saroyan in ''Series/{{Bones}}'' was supposed to die in "The Man In The Cell" but she'd become so popular they kept her.
* Brooke Davis on ''OneTreeHill''. She went from not even being in the pilot to slowly surpassing Lucas as the star of the show.
* ''DesperateHousewives'': Orson Hodge went from being a one-off character, to a short-term villain, to a main character for 4 seasons.
* Zack Morris started off as a supporting character for ''Good Morning Ms. Bliss'' with the title character, a teacher, being the actual main character. The series got retooled into being the super popular KidCom, ''SavedByTheBell'', with Zack being promoted to the starring role, and the rest was history.
* Adam in ''Series/{{Girls}}''. Possibly also Ray.
* Belle and Captain Hook from ''Series/OnceUponATime'', both of whom started off in secondary roles but were elevated to the central cast due to their popularity.
* Cat from ''{{Victorious}}'', considering that a) whenever Ariana Grande posts a video of her singing on Website/YouTube, half the comments are about how she should be the show's star instead of Victoria Justice, and b) Cat got her own SpinOff, ''Sam & Cat'' ([[{{iCarly}} shared with another Nickelodeon show's]] Breakout Character). In fact, this led to Ariana becoming a bigger celebrity than Victoria, with more Twitter followers and pop chart success.
* Because of the episodic nature of ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', guest stars [[OneShotCharacter are seldom seen again]] after the episode in which they appear, however Queen Annis, Princess Mithian and the Dochraid (all introduced in series 4) were popular enough to ensure a reappearance in series 5.
* ''Series/TheCloser'' has Captain Sharon Raydor. Who's awesome enough to make an Internal Affairs cop popular enough to headline [[MajorCrimes the spinoff series]]? MaryMcDonnell, that's who.
* Creator/BettyWhite's character, [[DeadpanSnarker El]][[CoolOldLady ka]], in ''HotInCleveland'' was only intended to be in the pilot, but she did such a good job that the stayed.
* ''Series/PatitoFeo'' is an Argentine teen comedy freely based on ''The Ugly Duckling'' tale. "Patito" is Patricia Castro, an ugly girl, constantly insulted by the AlphaBitch Antonella. But the [[BrokenAesop aesop broke]], and Antonella became far more popular than Patito, and the second season began fully focused on her.
* [[CanonForeigner Daryl]] [[BadAss Dixon]] of ''Series/TheWalkingDead''. Despite not being in the comic that the show was based off, Daryl quickly grew popular enough to receive an action figure and be [[PromotionToOpeningTitles made a series regular for Season 2]]. Now, he is the second highest-billed character and [[TheLancer the lancer]] for [[TheHero Rick Grimes]].
* Archie Kennedy of ''Series/HoratioHornblower''. He was written as a CompositeCharacter and was meant only to appear in the first episode "The Even Chance". However, Creator/JamieBamber and his portrayal of Archie were so well liked by the cast and crew that he got written into "The Duchess and the Devil" and "The Frogs and the Lobsters", serving as awesome {{Foil}} to Horatio's [[TheHero Hero]]. However, ExecutiveMeddling of The Forester estate would only let other parts of the MiniSeries film if Archie Kennedy was to be written out. Not completely unreasonable, since their friendship was changing Horatio's characterization too drastically from the source. Archie was therefore given the opportunity to perform a HeroicSacrifice to save Horatio in "Mutiny" and "Retribution", and thus immortalized himself in the process. In fans' (and perhaps even the authors') dreams, Hornblower would form [[TheKirk the complete hero]] with Lt. Bush (Hornblower's canonical best friend from the book who appeared in "Mutiny" and "Retribution", and also in the final instalments "Loyalty" and "Duty") as [[TheSpock the mind]] and Archie as [[TheMcCoy the soul]] of the trio, à la [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Kirk's complete hero, Spock's mind and [=McCoy=]'s soul]]. Even the star of the show Creator/IoanGruffudd expressed sincere shock that he would have never ever believed it possible to write Archie's character out of the adaptation.
* Janel Parrish's portrayal of [[CuteAndPsycho Mona]] [[LovableAlphaBitch Vanderwaal]] in ''Series/PrettyLittleLiars'' was so well-received and loved by the audience that the producers decided to [[SparedByTheAdaptation not to kill her off in the season 2 finale]]. Mona had already [[AscendedExtra gained a bigger role]] in the second season after the fans received her well in the first one.
* Felicity Smoak on {{Arrow}} was originally supposed to be just a tech support agent at Queen Consolidated, but was eventually added to The Arrow's team and PromotedToLoveInterest for Oliver replacing Laurel in that regard
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]
* ''{{Popeye}}'' - Popeye the Sailor started out as a minor character in ''Thimble Theatre'', which had been running for ''ten full years'' before he was introduced. The strip was originally about the adventures of a money-hungry slacker named Harold Hamgravy, who traveled the world in search of riches. Popeye originally showed up as a generic sailor who was hired by Hamgravy for a treasure hunting voyage. He wasn't supposed to show up again after the end of that story arc. Instead, he ended up becoming so popular that the strip was eventually renamed after him. Poor Hamgravy was demoted to minor supporting character status, and to add insult to injury, Popeye even stole his girlfriend, Olive Oyl!
** This history is lampshaded in the live-action Popeye movie. As the story opens, Olive has just dumped Hamgravy.
*** In fairness, though, Hamgravy is kind of a jerk, and only dated Olive because her family is rich (and would routinely dump her for wealthier women, only to come crawling back after they rejected him.) Popeye, on the other hand, is always true to his lady.
* The very aptly named Opus of ''BloomCounty'' and its follow-up comic strips was originally a fairly flat gag character, not intended to ever be seen again after his week-long plot was resolved, but fan reaction quickly led the author to make him the main character of the strip.
** Years later, Breathed mused in one of his books about the nature of the breakout character: "You can't design an Opus; they're the sort of characters who come knocking at your door in the pouring rain at 3 in the morning. [The author's] job is to figure out which ones should be let in and allowed to stay."
** Funny thing is, he almost accidentally made another one -- by making the worst possible ''deliberate'' attempt: Bill the Cat. Many long storylines in the later years of the initial strip featured only Bill and Opus, with the rest of the crew having barely more than cameos -- such as the 'Deathtongue' stories.
* ComicStrip/SnuffySmith. He started out as a one-shot character in ''Barney Google'', a comic about a luckless gambler. A 1934 storyline took Google to a hillbilly mountain community called Hoot'n Holler, where he met Snuffy and his family. Google was only supposed to be there for a few weeks, but Snuffy proved so popular that Google permanently relocated there. The comic was renamed "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith" and Google's part in the strip became smaller and smaller, until he was written out altogether. Despite his name being in the title, Google has only appeared in the strip twice in the past 20 years.
** This was actually the second time this had happened to the strip. A decade prior to this, Google's horse, Spark Plug, proved incredibly popular, and ended up becoming the focus of several storylines and a huge amount of merchandise (with the strip temporarily renamed "Barney Google and Spark Plug.") When Snuffy took over the comic, he adopted Spark Plug as his horse.
* First, it was ''Robotman''. Then, it was ''[[RobotmanAndMonty Robotman...and Monty]]''. Then Robotman got [[PutOnABus put on an intergalactic bus]], and now it's just ''Monty''.
* In the early ''{{Peanuts}}'' strips, Snoopy acted like an ordinary dog, and wasn't a key character.
* ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_(comics) Nancy]]'' was originally called ''Fritzi Ritz'' and about a flapper. Fritzi became Nancy's Aunt Fritzy, and Nancy and Sluggo took center stage.
* British newspaper strip ''Flook'' (1949-84) featured Flook (a creature) and Rufus (a boy) as main characters. But there was a short period back at the start (before Rufus ''found'' and ''named'' Flook) when the strip was called ''Rufus''.
* Dick Cavalli's ''Morty Meekle'' was eventually taken over by (and renamed after) what was originally a minor character, Winthrop.
* In the early years of ''FoxTrot'', the strip equally focused on the five members of the family. Come the late 90's, and Jason's pretty much the main character.
* The crocodiles from ''PearlsBeforeSwine''. Zebra originally contacted his predators through letters in the early days of the strip. Wanting to cut out the middleman, author Stephen Pastis had a fraternity of crocodiles (Zeeba Zeeba Eata) move next door. Their complete incompetence in killing Zebra became the comic's new and most popular RunningGag (besides long, confusing puns, of course).
* Catbert was introduced to ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}} as a one-shot character who tried to eat Ratbert. Fans began asking to see more of Catbert (asking for him by that name, even though he hadn't been given one in the strip) and Scott Adams decided that when [[FanNickname your readers spontaneously name a character for you]], it's a good idea to keep him in the strip. Now Catbert is [[CardCarryingVillain Evil Director of Human Resources]] at Dilbert's company.
* ComicStrip/KrazyKat and Ignatz Mouse were so popular as {{Funny Background Event}}s in ''ComicStrip/TheFamilyUpstairs'' (originally titled ''The Dingbat Family''), that George Herriman gave them their own strip.
* Bill Holbrook
** The first time it happened in a comic was [[PerkyGoth Dethany Dendrobia]] in ''OnTheFastrack''.
** The second time was Samantha Argus from ''ComicStrip/SafeHavens'' went from just one of the kids in the (former) main character's [[ArtifactTitle eponymous day care center]] to the strip's central character.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio]]
* Creator/DouglasAdams originally intended Marvin the Paranoid Android to be a one-off character in the ''Radio/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''; he supposed that there were only so many jokes you could get out of a robot with [[TheEeyore Eeyore-like depression]].
* Hey, man, this is Donnie Baker. I was a know-nothin' redneck that owned a boat and worked as a stockboy under that dumbass Randy. Then I started callin' ''TheBobAndTomShow''. Now the chicks can't keep their hands off my pork rind. I swear to God they can't.
* Karl Pilkington, from ''The Ricky Gervais Show'', for a real life example. Originally the show was just a vessel for Ricky Gervais and his partner in crime Stephen Merchant. Then they discovered the machinations of their producer's mind and the entire thing changed gear. Karl Pilkington quickly became the focus of the show, and his thoughts (and mad stories) have since been compiled into books, and even a TV series.
* Radio/{{The Adam Carolla Show}}:
** David Alan Grier when he's a guest. Particularly his impression of R and B singer Teddy Pendegrast, which usually involves a skit of him coming into the studio to lay down backing vocal tracks (with Adam acting as producer) and him going off into obscene sexual tangents.
** Recently, comedian Jo Koy's "Bung Lu Soo" character (aka "The Rooster"), who has evolved from his "generic Asian guy accent" bit. He's constantly trying to join old 70s bands and goes on weird tangents. When he's not trying to join musical acts, he's the host at PF Chang's, not allowing Adam to sit down despite his reservation.
*** Jo seems to have another hit on his hands with "Brown Sugar" a literal box of brown sugar trying to live in the pantry, only to be denied by the other spices due to his "ethnicity."

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Roleplay]]
* A number of examples from ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'':
** Trouble was intended by [=PeabodySam=] to be a one-off character who would only appear in a very short scene. Trouble ended up becoming popular enough to become Rex's personal [[TheLancer Lancer]]. When Trouble was suddenly subjected to ChuckCunninghamSyndrome, other players eagerly awaited his return. [[spoiler:They ultimately got their wish when Trouble came BackForTheFinale and was given a DyingMomentOfAwesome.]]
** Kat was introduced by Jackson Lake as an AffirmativeActionGirl. As a response to her unexpected popularity, Kat was elevated to a higher level of prominence and given far more character development, especially starting with the [[UndergroundLevel Goo Caverns]] StoryArc.
** Dr. Alan Pierce was first brought in as a seemingly random extra who existed for no other purpose than to heal Zenna after she got into a nasty accident. Not only did he go on to become a major character in the RPG and one of Atton Rand's most popular characters, but his popularity also led to the Dino Attack Team's medical wing being brought to the forefront and being a focus for drama as opposed to simply a place for wounded agents to be healed.
** A number of RedShirt characters, such as Hertz and Zelda Frodongan, were able to survive and graduate to MauveShirt status before ultimately becoming important members of the cast thanks to their popularity.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* The popularity of Sir John Falstaff in ''HenryIV, parts I and II'' inspired Creator/WilliamShakespeare to write a play around the character, ''The Merry Wives of Windsor'', making this OlderThanSteam.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros''
** Luigi started off as a simple PaletteSwap of Mario, and became perhaps the biggest EnsembleDarkhorse of the entire franchise. He got [[VideoGame/LuigisMansion a game of his own]], and while he remained out of the main series in the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube era, he came back in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'', earning bigger roles in the main series as it went on.
** [[PowerUpMount Yoshi]] was popular enough after his debut in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioWorld'' for [[VideoGame/SuperMarioWorld2YoshisIsland the next game in the main series]] to feature him as the main character, which set the road for his very own sub-series, with games such as ''VideoGame/YoshisStory'' and ''Yoshi's Cookie''.
** Wario was created for ''VideoGame/SuperMarioLand2SixGoldenCoins'' to symbolize the development team's displeasure with developing for a series they did not create. However, the guy became so popular that he ended up getting his own SpinOff series, ''VideoGame/WarioLand''. And if that wasn't enough, ''that'' series became so popular, Wario received another spin-off series called ''VideoGame/WarioWare'', which has typically become one of Nintendo's flagship franchises for showcasing each new console's unique features. Not bad for a one shot EvilCounterpart[=/=]{{Rival}} born of a WriterRevolt.
** [[TheHighQueen Rosalina]] was introduced as a main character in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy''; quickly becoming an EnsembleDarkhorse amongst the fandom. Six years after her debut, after being DemotedToExtra in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2'' and becoming a regular character in the ''VideoGame/MarioKart'' series, she suddenly took a spotlight in the main series by being PromotedToPlayable as a SecretCharacter in ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DWorld'', and later being featured as a playable fighter in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Wii U/3DS'', probably the biggest honor for any Nintendo character.
* ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}}'':
** Illidan Stormrage appears in only one level and one cutscene in ''[[VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} Warcraft III]]''. The Addon ''Frozen Throne'' and the ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' expansion ''Burning Crusade'' are all about him being BadAss. The latter, by turning him from an AntiHero to an OmnicidalManiac, seems to have taken the edge off his popularity somewhat.
** Highlord Mograine, AKA The Ashbringer, from ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' got so popular among fans that now he has [[ComicBook/{{Ashbringer}} his own comic series]].
** Saurfang was just a quest-giving NPC among thousands in ''World of Warcraft'', until the fanbase made him a MemeticBadass. Realising how popular he was, Blizzard subsequently made him a veteran fighter in all three wars, commander of a coalition army, right-hand to the warchief, [[{{Retcon}} retroactively]] right-hand to the ''former'' warchief, second in command in the Northrend campaign, and if he hadn't [[spoiler:lost his son]], he'd probably be warchief now.
** In ''Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne'', Vol'jin was a witch-doctor (a very weak, support-only unit) who gave quests to the real heroes of the campaign (Rexxar, Rokhan and Chen) so they could save his people. In ''World of Warcraft'' he doesn't do much more at first, besides asking for help to deal with a level 10 mob. Several expansions later, he's leading the rebellion against [[TyrantTakesTheHelm Garrosh Hellscream]], had a novel written about him, and finally [[spoiler:becomes the new Warchief of the Horde (and the first non-orc to do so) after Garrosh is deposed.]]
* Axel was an important villain in ''KingdomHearts: ChainOfMemories'' and was intended to carry over to ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' as the tutorial boss. However, both fans ''and the staff'' liked him too much, and his role was extended into ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII's'' main scenario. Now ''358/2 Days'' has been released, which features Axel as a primary protagonist...and ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep'' brings him back as his "original self", Lea. At this point, it's almost a given that he's going to be a mainstay of the series.
** He's back again in ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'', or rather Lea is back, but he looks like Axel without his face tattoos. Oh, and he [[spoiler: gets ''his own Keyblade'']] at the end.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' has a lot of characters, some of them more popular than others. Probably the most striking example is Cirno, the lovable Baka of the series. From her lowly start as a Stage 2 Boss, her popularity grew to the point where she received her own game: ''[[http://touhou.wikia.com/wiki/Fairy_Wars Touhou 12.8: Fairy Wars]]''
* Some say Zero, EnsembleDarkHorse of ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' is this, seeing as he was a supporting character in his first appearance, and promoted to main character status as the series progressed, especially getting his [[VideoGame/MegaManZero own series]] that further showed his [[{{Badass}} awesomeness]]. There's a twist, though: [[spoiler:Zero was ''supposed to be the main character'' (in other words, ''Mega Man X'' himself), but was "demoted" because his creator, Keiji Inafune, was told that Zero looked too different from the original Mega Man.]]
* Aigis from ''{{Persona 3}}'' is given the spotlight plenty of times throughout the course of the game, but no more often than anyone else in the main cast. But she was such a hit with fans that she was made the main character of the game's direct sequel, ''The Answer''.
** Naoto from ''{{Persona 4}}'' also proved popular enough to get a spinoff manga.
* The Rabbids from the ''VideoGame/{{Rayman}}'' series. Most people don't know about Rayman, while the Rabbids have their own games.
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife1'''s 'Barney' Security guards, not only did they get an expansion pack (Blue Shift) where the player takes the role of one, but they are personified in the next game by one of the support cast (Barney, arguably only second to Alyx as a player companion).
* In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'', the canon route is obviously Ryusei Date's. But Kyosuke Nanbu proved to be ''way too popular'' that he and his girlfriend Excellen Browning are promoted into main characters by the second game.
** Sanger Zonvolt is this. At his debut, he is one of TheDragon to the BigBad that just appear near the end of the game. In the next game, hes the protagonist of Super Robot route. In the next game, hes an important character. In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'', he become the StealthMentor to the group, and then the second game have his EvilTwin and an exclusive route for his story. And he represents mainline ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'' in ''ProjectXZone''.
** A rather surprising example is [[GreatMazinger Tetsuya Tsurugi]]. In the first ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha'', hes basically a character who complements Koji's role and following strictly into the original show's storyline. And then he proceed to become the Main Character of ''Alpha Gaiden''. Yes you read that right, a non OriginalGeneration character become the Main Character.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', Kain was merely TheLancer to TheHero Cecil, but proved to be an EnsembleDarkHorse. In the game's sequel ''[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIVTheAfterYears The After Years]]'', Cecil is DemotedToExtra while his son Ceodore is the protagonist. However, a sizable part of the storyline focuses on Kain and [[spoiler:his battle with his EvilTwin EnemyWithout who is masquerading as him]].
* Vincent Valentine from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' was popular enough to warrant [[VideoGame/DirgeOfCerberus his own game.]]
** As was [[PosthumousCharacter Zack]] [[VideoGame/CrisisCore Fair]].
** Meanwhile Cloud has gone on to make more playable appearances in Creator/SquareEnix games than any other ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' character and [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyV Gilgamesh]], who was a ''villain'', has the most appearances in ''Final Fantasy'' games overall. ''[[VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy Dissidia 012]]'' even confirms the longtime fan theory that, unlike most other recurring characters, it's the same Gilgamesh ''[[DimensionalTraveler in every single appearance]]''.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'', Shantotto started off as just a rather random NPC with a series of somewhat humourous quests and being involved in the black mage quests. Then she made a cameo towards the end of the Windurst missions and some of the ''Chains of Promathia'' missions. Then she was a major character in ''Treasures of Aht Urhgan'' and appeared in some minor events (such as being the main enemy in a fight against some of the female characters). Then she represented the game in ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy''. Then she got her own storyline expansion centered just around her.
** With the added bonus that she's voiced by MegumiHayashibara.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIII'', the BigBad was Xande, an EvilSorcerer who wanted to destroy the Crystals to regain his lost immortality by stopping time. The final boss that appeared when he died, Cloud of Darkness, was a GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere that was your typical OmnicidalManiac. But the Cloud of Darkness was a more interesting, climactic boss with a [[FetishFuel striking design]], which, combined with the game being a vague memory at best for most fans and the vagueness of the plot, meant that she was much better remembered. This became official with ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'' where the Cloud of Darkness is ''III'''s sole villain representative, even after the sequel adds to the cast.
* [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyV Exdeath]] (the BigBad to the aforementioned Gilgamesh's [[TheDragon Dragon]]) becomes this himself in ''Dissidia 012'', the prequel to ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy''. In the first ''Dissidia'', thanks to the power of [[{{Mondegreen}} incomprehensible battle quotes]] and [[LargeHam hickory-smoked lines]], Exdeath became a [[FountainOfMemes Sealed Meme In A Tree]] and went from one of the most-overlooked villains in the series to one who gave longstanding fan-faves like [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI Kefka]] and [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Sephiroth]] [[EnsembleDarkhorse a run for their money]]. It's unknown how attentive Square Enix was to his overnight surge in popularity, but given that '''[[PowerOfTheVoid VOID!]]''' jokes [[AscendedMeme run abundant]] in ''Duodecim'', it's a safe bet that they knew. On top of this, [[spoiler:[[TheManBehindTheMonsters his control of the]] [[{{Golem}} manikins]] led to the ''[[KilledOffForReal permanent deaths]]'' of every newcomer ''not'' named Gilgamesh or [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI Prishe]], as well as [[TheBadGuyWins Team Chaos' victory in the 12th cycle]].]]
* ''[[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Shadow the Hedgehog]]'' was so popular that SEGA brought him back to life [[spoiler:[[OnlyMostlyDead well, sorta]]]] in ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'', and then gave him [[VideoGame/ShadowTheHedgehog his own game]].
** However, this also came with a price: many felt that bringing Shadow BackFromTheDead cheapened his [[TearJerker deeply saddening]] HeroicSacrifice in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' (the [[TraumaInducedAmnesia amnesia]] and eventual resurgence of {{angst}} over Maria didn't help in their eyes, although he ''did'' get over it by ''[=SHtH=]''[='s=] close). When their [[CreatorsPet lukewarm reception]] clashed with the equally large number of fans who [[EnsembleDarkhorse couldn't get enough of the Ultimate Life Form]], Shadow's status as a BaseBreaker would be forever cemented.
** In the convoluted mess that was ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'', it is Shadow and Silver, ''not'' Sonic, who ultimately have more ties to the plot (in Silver's case, he hails from the BadFuture, so of course he'd be heavily involved).
** And before Shadow, in the 90s there was Knuckles. Much like Shadow, he initially showed up as an antagonist to Sonic, and then found himself upgraded to being a member of the main trio and on the 32X he [[VideoGame/KnucklesChaotix even had his own game.]] This even extends to [[ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog the Archie comics]] where Knuckles had his own spin-off book that at one point almost surpassed Sonic's in popularity.
* [[{{Badass}} Sergeant Johnson]] of ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved''. Originally intended to be a homage to the DrillSergeantNasty stock character type, became so popular that Bungie {{retcon}}ned his death in the legendary bonus cutscene to add him into ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}''. This is largely due to [[HeyItsThatVoice David Scully]]'s hilariously stellar delivery as Johnson's voice actor.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series, most of the games focus on the efforts of the [[BadassFamily Belmont family]] to do away with {{Dracula}} once and for all. In 1989's ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaIIIDraculasCurse Castlevania III]]'', we are introduced to Alucard, the Dark Lord's [[IHateYouVampireDad prodigal son]]. Here, Alucard didn't really amount to much, seeing as he was a generic-looking vampire who threw weak fireballs. However, when he resurfaced eight years later in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight Symphony of the Night]]'' (the series' [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaIISimonsQuest re-visitation]] into the now iconic {{Metroidvania}} style and widely considered to be the MagnumOpus of the series alongside ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaRondoOfBlood Rondo of Blood]]''), revamped as a {{badass}}, [[TheStoic stoic]] {{Bishonen}} with a slew of nifty tricks and weapons (as well as strong, yet conflicting ties to both [[HumanMomNonhumanDad his father and mother]]), he instantly became so popular that he's now just as synonymous with the series as the Belmonts, Dracula, and [[TheGrimReaper Death]] are. It doesn't help that he's basically immortal, thus meaning that he's the sole recurring hero with the greatest chance to be in ''any'' game should his presence be required (i.e. his appearance in the ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow Sorrow]]'' games as Genya Arikado).
* ''VideoGame/{{Darkstalkers}}''' Morrigan Aensland became not only popular enough [[SpotlightStealingSquad to promote herself to the status of protagonist]], but she became iconic to the point that there are few Creator/{{Capcom}} [[CapcomVsWhatever crossover titles]] that ''don't'' include her. By the turn of the 21st century, most gamers ''easily'' knew who she was, [[BestKnownForTheFanservice just not where she came from]].
* Tron Bonne from ''VideoGame/MegaManLegends'', the GadgeteerGenius {{tsundere}} member of the QuirkyMinibossSquad. Her popularity not only gave her the starring role of her own SpinOff game, ''The Misadventures of Tron Bonne'', but also led to her appearing in [[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom2 various]] [[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3 Capcom]] [[VideoGame/NamcoXCapcom crossovers]]. In fact, she has made the most appearances of ''any'' character from the franchise in these fighting games, even moreso than the titular Blue Bomber himself, due to the swapping between the different Mega Man incarnations [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg and]] [[VideoGame/MegaManX Zero]].
* [=GLaDOS=] from ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}''. She was originally intended to only speak in the Relaxation Chamber at the start of the game; playtesters liked her so much, Valve decided to use her throughout the game. She became synonymous with the ''Portal'' franchise and was even [[spoiler:the final boss of the first game]].
* Georg from ''SuikodenII'' was just one of the characters of the OneHundredAndEight needed to be recruited. However, his backstory by having Richmond investigate him proved to be popular to fans so much that in ''SuikodenV'', set a few years before ''SuikodenI'', Georg became one of the main characters. [[MemeticBadass The rest is history]].
* In ''[[VideoGame/MassEffect1 Mass Effect]]'', it was obvious the spotlight was supposed to be on your two human squadmates. They both got lots of screentime, were the major romance options ([[BiTheWay Liara]] sort of played second fiddle), and were your first two partners. Instead, fans centered on [[WrenchWench Tali]], [[CowboyCop Garrus]], and [[TheBigGuy Wrex]]. In [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 the sequel]], the three of them get lots of screentime and plot relevance, while the surviving human is DemotedToExtra. By the third game, both Garrus and Tali are easily in the category of "top five most important characters in the entire series", as they're the only characters who are squadmates in all three games and Shepard calls them his closest friends. In [[VideoGame/MassEffect3 the third game]], Garrus and Liara have the most dialogue with Shepard by far, even though the former can be dead at that point in the story.
* While not more popular than the main characters, Murray the Mighty Demonic Skull was only intended to be in one scene of ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland''. The beta testers liked him so much that the developers added him to several other scenes and subsequent games (as a bouncer for Planet Threepwood in ''VideoGame/EscapeFromMonkeyIsland'' and locked up in a treasure chest inside a giant manatee in the third episode of ''VideoGame/TalesOfMonkeyIsland'').
-->'''Murray:''' ...and the forces of darkness will applaud me as I STRIDE through the gates of Hell carrying your head on a pike!
-->'''Guybrush Threepwood:''' Stride?
-->'''Murray:''' Alright then, ROLL! ROLL through the gates of Hell... Must you take the fun out of everything?
* [[Franchise/StreetFighter Chun-Li]] was one of the original twelve in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterII''. She became very popular due to [[TheSmurfettePrinciple being the only playable female character at the time]] ([[FanNickname "first lady of fighting games", anyone?]]), as well as her quick kick-based fighting style. She has since appeared as playable character in almost every ''Street Fighter'' game (with ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterIII Street Fighter III: New Generation]]'' and ''[=2nd=] Impact'' being her only absences). However, if [[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom cr]][[VideoGame/SNKVsCapcom os]][[VideoGame/NamcoXCapcom so]][[VideoGame/TatsunokoVsCapcom ve]][[VideoGame/StreetFighterXTekken rs]] [[VideoGame/ProjectXZone are]] [[CapcomVsWhatever taken into account]], then Chun-Li has appeared in more games than Ken. [[WolverinePublicity She and Ryu are the only ones to appear in each of the Vs. games]].
* [[KnifeNut Jack]] [[AxCrazy Krauser]]. He originally appeared in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'' as a RememberTheNewGuy before he dies, but his badassery led him to getting expanded on in a prequel mission in ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvilTheDarksideChronicles The Darkside Chronicles]]''.
* In most games, the child that the protagonist is saddled with protecting is despised. The developers of the ''[[VideoGame/TheWalkingDead The Walking Dead]]'' played their cards right with [[TheHeart Clementine]], however. She's one of the most popular characters in the game.
* Kabuki from ''VideoGame/TengaiMakyou II: Manjimaru'' overshadowed the title character in popularity, and got his own GaidenGame.
* It's hard to remember, but Pikachu wasn't the original mascot of the ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' franchise. ''Clefairy'' was. The AnimeOfTheGame had Pikachu be the starter of the protagonist instead of one of the original three, and when the series took off so did Pikachu. Pikachu [[JustForPun evolved]] into the series mascot, even getting its own game in the form of ''Pokemon Yellow Version'', and never looked back.
** For three generations of ''Pokemon'' games, the champions and other main characters from each region didn't really do anything big outside of them. Then in Generation 4, the first female champion, Cynthia, was created, and she appeared in ''VideoGame/PokemonHeartGoldAndSoulSilver'', ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'', and ''VideoGame/PokemonBlack2AndWhite2''.
** Also worth noting that every gen tends to have it's own Breakout Pokemon that end up representing the gen as whole:
*** Generation 1: Charizard, Pikachu, Mewtwo
*** Generation 2: Lugia
*** Generation 3: Blaziken
*** Generation 4: Lucario
*** Generation 5: Zekrom
*** Generation 6: Greninja
**** Four characters on this list (Charizard, Pikachu, Lucario, and Greninja) are playable in [[SuperSmashBros Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U]], while Mewtwo was in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
* The {{Edutainment}} series ''VideoGame/JumpStart'' has an example not precipitated by popularity among the fans (because ''[=JumpStart=]'' kinda doesn't have a fandom). Frankie the dog was always a relatively important character, but circa 2001 he was made the main character and mascot of the entire series (for no clear reason except that they wanted a main character). Nowadays, it has intensified - it seems like Frankie is much more important than any of his friends in the MMOG.
* The ''FireEmblem'' series has Malice, the [[TheLadette tomboyish]] PunchClockHero sporting an EyepatchOfPower who first appeared in the obscure downloadable title ''BS Fire Emblem''. She quickly became the most popular character in the spinoff, and was later incorportated into the main story of the ''Mystery of the Emblem'' remake, complete with a bigger role in a DLC chapter that expanded her backstory considerably. She went on to appear in ''Awakening'' as a Spotpass-distributed legacy character, "representing" ''Mystery of the Emblem'' despite ''not actually debuting in that game!'' And there she ''finally'' gets to be a female Mercenary again, to the rejoicing of many fans (for those not in the know, female members of that class are ''extremely'' rare throughout the series, so the few that exist generally receive immediate EnsembleDarkhorse status).
* One of the Waddle Dees in the ''{{Kirby}}'' series has turned into his own character--he's known across the fanbase as [[FanNickname "Bandana Dee"]] because of his signature blue bandana. He originally appeared as a minor opponent in the MegatonPunch ''KirbySuperStar'' minigame, but later went on to become the joke boss in ''KirbyAndTheAmazingMirror''. He would end up being very popular with the fans after that, so the developers followed up by making a major character in ''[[UpdatedRerelease Kirby Super Star Ultra]]'' in the ''Revenge of the King'' episode, and eventually became PromotedToPlayable in ''KirbysReturnToDreamland'', with his primary ability being the [[BladeOnAStick spear]] and being able to simply jump continuously rather than float or fly with wings. Since then, he's been a core part of the series.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Kotori Shirakawa was one of the heroines in ''VisualNovel/DaCapo'', though both Nemu and Sakura were more important characters to the 'real' plot of the story. However, Kotori proved to be extremely popular and landed not only a clear expy in [[VisualNovel/DaCapoII the sequel]] but also numerous fan discs and side stories to satisfy all of her fans.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Animation ]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner''
** Strong Bad, the cartoon's rival/villain is even more popular than the title character.
** Homsar, who started off as a OneShotCharacter that's purely there to help make fun of a [[RougeAnglesOfSatin misspelling of Homestar's name]] in the second [[FourthWallMailSlot Strong Bad Email]], but has since became one of the core characters of the series.
*** Senor Cardgage, Stinkoman, Trogdor, and Teen Girl Squad started as jokes in sbemails, and the latter now have [[WebAnimation/TeenGirlSquad their own page.]]
* ''WebAnimation/BravestWarriors'' has Catbug. An adorable [[MixAndMatchCritters cat with a ladybug shell and wings.]] Fans ''loved'' the cute little critter. He's basically the series mascot at this point, and even outshines the Bravest Warriors themselves in popularity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Ray and Roast Beef from ''{{Achewood}}''. Originally two of a trio of cats (along with Pat) who fancied themselves "the dirtiest dudes in town" and basically existed to be a bad influence on Phillipe. So interchangeable were they in the early years that Beef was billed simply as "the other cat," notable only for being "not Ray, and not Pat." But soon the three of them began to develop their own personalities, the trio became a duo (with Pat evolving into a sanctimonious vegan) and the strip began to revolve around the friendship between laid-back Ray and eternally depressed Beef.
* The little blue thing in ''SomethingPositive'' was simply a one-off joke for ''Life with Rippy'' until...well...fans started ''liking'' the bastard. He'd eventually become Kharisma's imaginary "NEW FRIEND!" What the hell were the fans thinking?
** Probably the same thing they were thinking with Rippy ''himself''...who was a one-shot one-panel gag in S* P, and he'd eventually get his own gag series.
* Loopy church-girl Joyce stole the spotlight in ''Webcomic/{{Roomies}}'', with most storylines centering around her. Willis tried to write her out by having her [[PutOnABus inducted into secret alien-fighting organisation SEMME,]] but it backfired. Once SEMME was in the picture, Willis found it more interesting than the college life premise, and ''ItsWalky'' was the result. She then ''stole the spotlight again'' in ''It's Walky!'', as the strip mutated from being primarily about Walky to being primarily about Walky and Joyce's relationship.
** Both Mike and Robin were relatively minor characters in ''It's Walky''; Robin was only introduced halfway through, and while Mike was there from the beginning, his role was later reduced by transferring him to a different squad. However, come ''Webcomic/{{Shortpacked}}'', both are members of the primary cast--in fact, Willis knew his next project would be ''Shortpacked'', and decided to lay the groundwork early, creating Robin to spin her off and deliberately [[LateArrivalSpoiler killing Mike]] to cause confusion when he reappeared. (come ''Webcomic/DumbingOfAge'', emphasis on both is heavily reduced, Robin moreso than Mike) .
* Fox and Collin from ''FriendlyHostility'' were originally minor characters on the author's previous webcomic, ''BoyMeetsBoy''. Now that ''Friendly Hostility'' is over, the writer's started ''Other People's Business'' which has Leon, a minor character from ''Friendly Hostility'' as a major character, and Collin reduced to the background.
* The [[Webcomic/MSPaintAdventures Midnight Crew]] originally started as {{Evil Counterpart}}s of the ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'' characters that appeared in a few non-canonical strips drawn for donations. They became so popular that they started appearing frequently as a ShowWithinAShow in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', then became [[InteractiveFiction playable]] during an Intermission arc between Acts 3 and 4.
** Said intermission is ''canon'' - the Midnight Crew are the exiles of the Trolls, who are {{Breakout Character}}s in their own right..
** They also have counterparts in the kids' session. Spades Slick's counterpart / alternate universe past self, Jack Noir, ultimately became the BigBad.
* In ''WebComic/DeadOfSummer'', the integration of Music/TheProtomen was secondary, as originally, the characters in Book 2 were going to be just a group of people who lived underground. The Protomen's willingness to be in the comic, however, suddenly gave these people names and faces. They soon became major characters, and have drawn many fans to the site for the sole reason that they're the Protomen.
* Zexion in ''AnsemRetort'' became increasingly more popular in Ansem Retort, to the point that Season 3 revolved entirely around him. Nearly everything in the comic ends up focusing on him and/or Axel
* Arthur the duck and Gramp in ''{{Sheldon}}''. ''Weeks'' can go by without seeing the title character.
* Zig Zag from ''WebComic/SabrinaOnline''. A decade after her introduction, she's gone from "just Sabrina's boss" to being just as prominent a character as Sabrina herself.
** Yeah, but Zig Zag was invented by Max Blackrabbit, a friend of ''Sabrina'' creator Eric Schwartz, and was already established with a backstory and porn career when Schwartz asked to use her. She's more of a permanent crossover character, and was pretty well destined to rub up against Sabrina in the way that she does.
* Kel from ''Webcomic/RoguesOfClwydRhan''. She first appeared as indentured servant to the Green Knight, joined the Rogues when they overcame him, and spent a year or so snarking in the background (with stringy hair) before growing a personality (and nice head of ginger locks), and becoming one of the principal characters.
* [[BigBad Helmeted]] [[BobAndGeorge Author]]. Did you know that he wasn't originally even a character to begin with? When he first appeared, he was supposed to be just [[AuthorAvatar THE Author]] [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin with a helmet]]. The Dave just decided to give him [[SpinOff his own comic]]. Helmeted Author Quips were so popular that [[FanNickname Helmut]] [[spoiler:became the BigBad of the series, eventually possessing Bob]].
** [[VillainBall My]][[DangerouslyGenreSavvy nd]], [[PersonofMassDestruction Chad]][[IdiotHero ling]] and [[InstantAwesomeJustAddNinja Mike]]. They were originally just villains that a fan requested. However, [[ItWasHisSled Chadling betrayed Mynd]] and after the storyline, all three became [[WolverinePublicity so popular]] that Mike became the narrator of the Second Party. Later he was resurrected by Mega Man and Bass. Then he got an EvilCounterpart from EvilOverlord Mike AKA Ninja Ned. Mynd himself became [[spoiler: one of Bob's three evil minions]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]
* ''[[Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos The Slender Man]]'' took off by means of this trope. Originally, there was ([[LongRunner and still is]]) a thread on the Website/SomethingAwful forums devoted to photoshopping normal photos with ghosts or monsters hidden somewhere in there, with one intent being to dupe real life paranormal organizations. Eventually, one member posted two photos of a tall, thin man [[TheBlank with no face]] who had tentacles instead of arms. [[FanNickname Slendy]] gradually took over the thread because he was, more than any of the other ghosts and monsters, genuinely terrifying, and thus, a [[MemeticMutation meme]] was born.
* ''AnnoyingOrange'' sprung forth two adorable characters ''Marshmallow'' and ''Midget Apple'', who were both introduced as miniscule, supporting characters in their first videos (esp. Midget Apple who only got one line), but grew to become two of the most iconic, beloved characters of the series.
* ''WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment'' - Dr. Insano started as a one-off character in a [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall made-up 'Previously On' montage]]. He was brought back in [[NoahAntwiler Spoony's]] ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' review series, and now he's one of the most popular and iconic characters among Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses' repertoire.
* In ''TheLazerCollection'', Doctor Octogonapus made a single appearance. The sequel has him making several appearances, and in the third, there's an actual storyline and he's the antagonist.
* [[RidiculouslyCuteCritter Catbug]] only appeared in three episodes of ''BravestWarriors''' first season, but by the season's finale he's easily the most popular with its fanbase. And with a seemingly expanded role in the upcoming Season 2 ''and'' a web short just for him, the folks at Cartoon Hangover are very aware of this.
* ''WebVideo/TheLizzieBennetDiaries'':
** It has Lydia Bennet. In the book this is inspired of, she is shown as an irresponsible HormoneAddledTeenager who jeopardizes her family's future and her sister's chances of happiness for a hunk. The series highlights both her FreudianExcuse (her mother is obsessed with men and thinks that no happiness or self-worth could be really found without a loved one, and she receives no attention from her [[AloofBigBrother Aloof Big Sisters]]) and her more sympathetic traits (she's almost in love with the things she has a passion for, making her vibrant and genuine, her talent for getting things to go her way is both innocent and hilarious and she has no idea of what she is doing). Plus, she is a FieryRedhead played by the adorkable Creator/MaryKateWiles. On the flip side, she [[spoiler: becomes TheWoobie. ]] She was very popular with the fans, but she was obviously an interesting character to the writers who gave her lots of opportunities to shine. She even had her own spin-off vlog.
** Bernie Su, one of the head writers and directors of the show, frequently described Charlotte Lu as his favourite character. Charlotte Lucas of ''Literature/PrideAndPrejudice'' was voice of reason and close friend to book Lizzy, but her role was made much more important in the vlog.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''WoodyWoodpecker'': Woody first debuted in the AndyPanda short "Knock Knock" but ended up becoming so popular that he immediately spawned his own series of shorts, quickly eclipsing the [[TastesLikeDiabetes cute]] [[SmallAnnoyingCreature little panda]] in popularity.
* DonaldDuck upon his second appearance, (and his first on a MickeyMouse cartoon) where he effortlessly steals the picture away from everyone. It wasn't long before he became much more prominent on [[ClassicDisneyShorts the cartoons]] than the Mouse himself....or pretty much every other Disney character.
** The same can be said for WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck upstaging WesternAnimation/PorkyPig (a Breakout Character himself).
*** And then BugsBunny upstaging Daffy. This was even adapted into their characters.
* Jake from ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' is very popular among the majority of fans.
** [[BigBad The Lich]] manages to reaching this and the LoveToHate trope.
** Lemongrab is a rare example. Although [[TheScrappy he has a rather obvious hatred among fans]], he manages to be incredibly popular on the Internet. Most notably for his infamous "Unacceptableee!".
* Timmy in ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' was initially intended as a one-shot character, but proved so popular that he was brought back again and again, and even [[PromotionToOpeningTitles made it into the opening]] in series six, after the departure of Kenny. However, after his brief moment in the sun, he quickly receded into the background again. These days, he is hardly used at all anymore.
** [[MemeticMutation TIMMY!]]
** Jimmy ultimately proved to be the more popular differently-abled character, likely because he can say more than just his name and a few other catchphrases.
** Butters went from being a background character to being the fifth most prominent character on the show. Then there's Randy Marsh, who went from a geologist simply named "Randy" to "Stan's dad" (thus giving him a recurring role) to arguably being right behind Butters in terms of prominence.
** If you guess that the next episode will be a Stan & Kyle, Kyle & Cartman, Cartman & Butters, or Randy (& maybe Stan) episode, you will be right 80% of the time. The remaining 20% are episodes about the boys as a group or the odd supporting character.
* GIR in ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim''. He is certainly the favorite among the majority of fans, even to the point that it really annoys his voice actor when fans ask him to do something like sing the [[MemeticMutation Doom song]]. And aside from that, Nickelodeon ''still'' makes lots of GIR-themed merchandise, and now they've reached the point where they have to make up new quotes just to put on T-shirts.
** Remarked on in the script reading for ''The Trial''.
-->"Back on Earth, mankind has reconstructed the planet. Everything is in GIR's image."
-->'''Richard Horvitz''': Jut like Hot Topic!
* While ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' was always intended to be a series of shorts with many different characters, the incredible popularity of the ''WesternAnimation/PinkyAndTheBrain'' shorts led to them appearing in significantly more episodes than the other skits. They were also the only ones to spin-off into their own show.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' ruthlessly parodied this concept in an episode where Bart accidentally becomes a cast member and breakout star of the Krusty the Clown show. ''The Simpsons'' are breakout characters from ''The Tracy Ullman Show''.
** Although the Simpson family are the main characters, the early seasons focused on Bart until Homer replaced him later on.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BobsBurgers'', Louise and Tina are overwhelmingly popular for their iconic (but nearly opposite) personalities. This marks a rare instance where [[GirlShowGhetto two female characters are the most popular in a show watched mostly by men]].
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television", where Bender, nonplussed [[DemotedToExtra with his role as a comatose robot]] [[BadBadActing due to a horrendous audition]], [[LargeHam suddenly busts out and begins chewing up the scenery]] [[AntiRoleModel and engaging in all manner of incorrigible behavior]]. In spite of [[ThrowItIn deviating from the script]] (not to mention that [[TheShowMustGoOn Calculon never does retakes]]), the show finds some of its highest ratings ever, and Bender becomes a sensation.
** Bender himself is something of a straight example too.
** And who could forget Dr. Zoidberg.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' has Stewie Griffin, whose character has developed much over the course of the series. He's been voted one the greatest fictional villains of all time.
** There's also Peter's friend Cleveland Brown. Want proof? Three words: ''WesternAnimation/TheClevelandShow''.
** Quagmire is an odd example. Arguably more popular than Cleveland, he started out as one of many generic friends of Peter. However, his [[ComedicUnderstatement kinky]] nature made him too difficult to really market and Cleveland was instead chosen for the spinoff. This was eventually [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheClevelandShow'':
-->'''Quagmire''': ''Well, they made it through the whole season. Now can I have my own show, Peter?''
-->'''Peter''': ''Quagmire, you're a rapist.''
* ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'': Raimundo pretty much stole the show from Omi, being the character with the most development, and if anyone still wasn't sure of his status as the new main character, the finale proved them wrong.
* [[DarkActionGirl Shego]] from ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' started out as a flat sidekick to [[HarmlessVillain Dr. Drakken]], got a personality while being inserted into the pilot after the creators heard her voice actor Nicole Sullivan, and she and her dynamic with Dr. Drakken became so popular that they became the most featured (and fleshed out) villains in the series.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Metalocalypse}}'': Charles Foster Ofdensen wasn't even in the first episode and remained a relatively minor character for the first few episodes of the show, but slowly became not only a great straight-man foil for the band but became an [[EnsembleDarkhorse incredibly popular character]] in his own right as well as a genuine member of the main cast, leading up to several spotlight moments in Season 2 and culminating in his HeroicSacrifice at the very end of the S2 finale. [[spoiler: He gets better.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'' character Morgana Macawber ("[[PunnyName Macabre]]") and her weird undead family were introduced as a set of villains who disappeared (for many years, within the context of the episode) when their house vanished at sunrise at the end of the episode. Morgana's family was never seen again, but she herself [[PlotHole returned]] [[HandWave without explanation]] to play both [[DatingCatwoman a villain]] and later [[HeelFaceTurn a hero]], developing into a series semi-regular and Darkwing's LoveInterest. Similarly, villain Negaduck was originally an EvilTwin of Darkwing's who was accidentally created from his own body and was re-absorbed back into him at the end of the episode. Series creator Tad Stones liked the character so much that he was brought back to be Darkwing's ArchEnemy and was eventually established as [[RetCon being another Darkwing from a parallel reality]] called "[[MirrorUniverse the Negaverse]]". When the writers asked how they should explain Negaduck's return following his "death" in his debut episode, Stones replied, "What do you mean, 'how'? He's back. [[AWizardDidIt We did it]]."
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'', Dark Laser started out as a one shot villain, only existing so the writers could do a {{Homage}} to StarWars. Then he showed up as a ContinuityNod the next season. Then, suddenly, in season six he was elevated to a full time villain, and a regular part of Timmy's RoguesGallery.
* Harley Quinn of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries''. Joker's PerkyFemaleMinion who was [[MadLove madly in love with him]]. Despite her sidekick status, she became so popular that she became one of the main characters in the ''WebAnimation/GothamGirls'' Web Series, [[CanonImmigrant and when she was brought into the main comic continuity]], proceeded to become one of the main characters (if not the main character) of several comic series, such as the ''Harley & Ivy'' mini-series, the ''Comicbook/HarleyQuinn'' comic book series which ran for three years, and the ongoing ''ComicBook/GothamCitySirens''. She even became the main villain in the ''Series/BirdsOfPrey'' TV adaptation even though she's not prominent in the original comic.
* Tigger was a secondary character in the original ''Literature/WinnieThePooh'' books, appearing only in the second book, ''The House At Pooh Corner.'' In the Disney adaptations, he got bigger and bigger roles until he ended up as the franchise's main star apart from Pooh himself. He even gets top billing in ''My Friends Tigger and Pooh.'' Not to mention his own movie.
** Ironically ''The Tigger Movie'' also began the expansion of simiarly minor character Roo's role, with him gaining much larger spotlight in later movies and ''also'' his own Direct to DVD movie. ''Pooh's Heffalump Movie'' also arguably featured Roo more as the main protaganist than the title character.
* Tinkerbell being practically the second mascot of Disney after Mickey Mouse (appearing in many commercials and in the studio's VanityPlate), has become a Breakout Character and now stars in [[Franchise/DisneyFairies a series of her own]].
** And if you're a guy, [[Disney/SnowWhite Grumpy's]] got you covered. It seems the Disney characters with the the most attitude tend to be breakout characters.
*** Which leads to the creation of [[LiloAndStitch Stitch]], and [[WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries the animated series']] own Breakout Character Angel.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' has both Sokka and Iroh. In the original drafts both were meant to have smaller supporting roles, [[TreacherousAdvisor with Iroh actually becoming a villain]], but since both the voice actors and writers did such a good job bringing them to life they got bigger roles than first intended; Iroh in particular.
* Lugnut and Bulkhead from ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' have both become favorite characters in the larger Transformers canon. The former has been retconned into the G1 animated movie, while the latter has become a main character in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime''.
** Before them came Sunstorm, a random yellow background Seeker from the original cartoon that eventually gained characterization in the comic continuity.
* Roger from ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' originally started out as an alien who lives with the Smith family as well as being forced to stay within the house and didn't have much major importance to the plot. Later in the series, he was more outgoing through the use of disguises and is one of the more prominent characters. Recently, he's the second most prominent character after Stan, and is now one of the most popular characters on the show.
* ''WesternAnimation/IAmWeasel'' started out as a supporting act to help compliment ''WesternAnimation/CowAndChicken''. The shorts were eventually spun off into an independent series that even outlasted C&C.
** [[LargeHam The Red Guy]] was so popular on ''Cow & Chicken'', he started appearing on ''I Am Weasel'' starting in the second season.
* Perry the Platypus is this for ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb''. Merchandise is made in his likeness in buttloads.
* A couple of ''WesternAnimation/{{Kablam}}!'' examples include Loopy and Prometheus and Bob. Not only have they lasted through the entire show, but Life With Loopy had a ''Kablam!'' special dedicated to it while Prometheus and Bob was nominated for the show's own Kablammy award (Which was won by ALN) and was planned to be adapted into a film (It was canceled due to lack of interest).
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE. She was originally just a one shot minor antagonist in season one, but due largely to the way she [[LargeHam chewed the scenery into splinters,]] she became an instant fan favorite and reappeared in season 3, and also tends to show up as a background character in the comics.
* Princess Sally Acorn, from the "ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog" and "WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM" Had more of a supporting role in early Archie. Arguably as prominent a character as Sonic himself later on. This is even more evident counting her earlier background as a minor captive in the games.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' has ComicBook/{{AQUAMAN}}, which they even acknowledge in the [[BreakingTheFourthWall fourth-wall shattering]] GrandFinale.
* [[TheLancer Numbuh 5]] from ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor''. She went from barely speaking (outside of ADayInTheLimelight) in the first season to being pretty much the secondary main character by the time the series ended.
* In [[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage the original]] ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' comics, Leonardo was the leader, Donatello and Raphael were each a CreatorsPet... and Michelangelo was just the fourth turtle. Then when Mirakami-Wolf [[TMNT1987 adapted the comics into a cartoon]], Mike had much more to do, specially as he went from "fun-loving yet serious" to "party dude" and provided most of the series' comedy.
* Gus Griswald from ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' was just another member of the main six, and by the end of the series, he had the second largest amount of episodes focusing on him (with [[TheHero T.J.]] in the lead)
** Mikey, to a lesser extent.
** Miss Finster and Principal Prickly became this, with the latter getting a pretty big role in ''WesternAnimation/RecessSchoolsOut'' and the former getting more merchandise. Miss Grotke on the other hand just became an AscendedExtra with a PeripheryDemographic and the show left it at that.
* Brak was originally a minor character who showed up every once in a while in ''WesternAnimation/SpaceGhostCoastToCoast''. He proved to be so popular that he replaced Moltar in the CartoonPlanet spinoff, and then eventually [[TheBrakShow got his own show.]]
* ''WackyRaces'' villains Dick Dastardly and Muttley became so popular on that show that they got their own, ''DastardlyAndMuttleyInTheirFlyingMachines'', a season later. The only female racer, Penelope Pitstop, would [[ThePerilsOfPenelopePitstop get her own show as well]].
* Terra on TeenTitans was meant to be killed off at the end of Season 2, but fans kept asking for her return and later got their wish, though they were not happy about it since said episode had a DownerEnding and was the last episode of the series.
** Raven's breakout popularity on the show has actually affected how she is written in the comic, with the intent of bringing her closer in line with Tara Strong's portrayal.
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