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[[quoteright:329:[[Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kamina_thumb.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:329:Guess which of these two is the main character!]]

->''"Long time ago on a planet long forgotten by time, a young hero was born, a righteous Saiyan warrior who would bring peace to the galaxy. This... is '''not''' his story."''
-->-- '''Narrator''', ''[[TeamFourStar Bardock: The Father of Goku Abridged]]''

So you've got your hero. He practically has a giant neon sign over his head that says he's a hero. It might be subtle, but it's fairly obvious you've found the guy who'll save the day, get the girl, and live a long and hap-- what the? Did he just get bitten in half by a mutant [[TyrannosaurusRex T. Rex]]?

Some books, films, or games like to mix things up and throw viewers for a loop by revealing that the StandardizedLeader isn't TheHero. This can be very dramatic; there are few more effective ways to showcase AnyoneCanDie than taking out the apparent protagonist. It can also be used comedically, revealing that [[WrongGenreSavvy the guy who]] ''[[WrongGenreSavvy thinks]]'' [[WrongGenreSavvy he's the protagonist is just a glorified bit player]]. Sometimes the Decoy Protagonist will turn out to be the antagonist.

IntroOnlyPointOfView frequently is used to emphasize his importance before TheReveal.

What happens next is the guy we perceive of as TheLancer, SideKick, or even a fringe loner takes center stage as the real protagonist (maybe even Hero). Usually they reveal a much greater level of personal integrity and strength of will than previously thought, despite their DarkAndTroubledPast.

Note that this does not necessarily involve the death of the initial protagonist, although that is often how this trope expresses itself. If the target actually dies, they're often a SacrificialLion. If the character actually was TheHero, see TakeUpMySword. Also see DeadStarWalking.

In video games, this can overlap with AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent; compare FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator, where the narrator is obviously not the protagonist. For the villainous version of this trope, see DiscOneFinalBoss.

Contrast PassingTheTorch, RedHerringShirt, DiscOneFinalBoss, TheUnchosenOne, SupportingLeader.

Not to be confused with SupportingProtagonist, which is simply that the focus is on another character than the hero, or FakeUltimateHero, who doesn't appear to be the protagonist.

'''As this is frequently a DeathTrope, beware spoilers:'''

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Some viewers didn't realize Kamina wasn't the central protagonist of ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' until [[spoiler:his death in Episode 8.]] It turns out that Simon is the main character. As time goes on, the segment of the fanbase that wish Kamina had ''stayed'' the main character has only grown.
* Double subverted in ''Anime/TheTowerOfDruaga''. Neeba is shown to be the leader of his group early on with Jil showing up as a mysterious badass... who then gets knocked out within five seconds of first encountering an enemy and has a sort of goofy flashback for most of the first episode about how his journey started... which turns out to be a dream while the rest of his party saves him. His brother, Neeba is seems to be the real hero, for much of the early show. [[spoiler:Then his brother turns out to be the FakeUltimateHero, and the second arc supplants him with Jil.]]
* A running joke in ''Anime/YuruYuri'', where 'main character' Akari worries constantly on her complete lack of screen time, character traits, and presence. Although she leads the [[TitleSequence opening segment]], she's always interrupted, ignored, or distracted by something. Once or twice, she only appears to tell the audience that she won't be in the rest of the episode.
--> "I'm Akaza Akari and I'm still the protagonist!"
* Waku from ''Manga/{{Bokurano}}'' is presented in a way that couldn't be mistaken for anything other than the classic HotBlooded shonen KidHero. At least until [[spoiler:he dies after piloting the robot in the second episode (''first'' volume of the manga).]]
* Played with in ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'', where Carol insists that Firo is the protagonist because he's "main character-ish." Given the [[JigsawPuzzlePlot deliberately]] [[AnachronicOrder disjointed]] nature of the series (in the anime anyway, the source books are much more chronological), as well as the [[EnsembleCast ridiculously huge cast of "main" characters]], she manages to be completely right and way off the mark at the same time.
** If one defined "main character" based on screen time alone, Isaac and Miria would fit.
* In Nobuhiro Watsuki's Crescent Moon in the Warring States, the protagonist is actually Isshinta, not Hiko Seijuro as many readers believe
* The prologue episodes of ''Anime/MuvLuvAlternativeTotalEclipse'' follow Yui Takemura, before episode 3 switches to Yuuya's viewpoint.
* ''{{Blassreiter}}'': This guy got a lot of screen-time. He's ''great''. His life is wrecked, but he should not give up. He got TheVirus but clearly has enough of HeroicWillpower -- look, he doesn't kill when even non-infectee [[EtTuBrute could be]] [[GreenEyedMonster tempted]] [[WasItAllALie a lot]]! He must be the protagonist! Right?.. Oops, he turns out to be but one more deadman, who just kept the horror scenes of imminent NinjaPirateZombieRobot [[ZombieApocalypse Apocalypse]] from being looked upon as AMillionIsAStatistic.
* The demon-hunting squad you're introduced to in the first episode of ''GaReiZero''. They're all distinctive, have some interesting chemistry and seem like a skilled bunch. [[spoiler:They all die.]] At the end of that very same episode. They were included on promotional material
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes'' has two main characters: Reinhard von Lohengramm of the TheEmpire and Yang Wenli of TheAlliance.[[spoiler: While Yang Wenli IS the most important character of the democratic cast, he's assassinated three-quarters of the way through - completely changing the dynamic of the show. Yang's protégée Julian succeeds him in the last season while Reinhard is a protagonist throughout.]]
* For the first dozen volumes of the manga and all of the anime, ''[[TsubasaReservoirChronicle Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles]]'' seems to be a typical shounen series about strength and determination, centering on typical shounen hero Syaoran with the other characters in supporting roles. However, that changed when Syaoran [[spoiler:[[FaceHeelTurn turned out to be a clone and puppet of the Big Bad,]] splitting off from the party and going to wreak evil havoc.]] At that point the focus of the series switched to former motivational love interest Sakura, at least until [[spoiler: SHE died]] several volumes later.
** [[spoiler: Clone Syaoran]] can still be considered to be the main protagonist for the first half.
* Despite featuring an EnsembleCast, Creator/NaokiUrasawa's ''TwentiethCenturyBoys'' [[spoiler: has Kenji Endo at the center of the story for the first five volumes or so. After the TimeSkip, this focus shifts to his niece Kanna]] and remains there for most of the series.
* While we're on the subject of Naoki Urasawa, [[spoiler:Richard Braun]] is this for ''Anime/{{Monster}}''. Not an entirely straight example, because he isn't this way for the series as a whole, just for an arc that takes up volumes 5-9. Still for that arc, this trope definitely applies.
* And back to Urasawa, ''{{Pluto}}'' [[spoiler:tells the story mostly from Gesicht's point of view for the first six volumes - up until his murder. Epsilon and then Atom take on the mantle of the hero, though Gesicht's memories play a role in the final confrontation against Pluto.]]
* Aaaaand while we're on Urasawa, ''BillyBat'' now has [[spoiler: the death of Kevin Yamagata, after which Kevin Goodman takes over as the true protagonist.]]
* In ''Manga/TheDaughterOfTwentyFaces'', the audience is lead to believe that the main characters are the crew of [[VillainProtagonist sympathetic thieves]] that Chizuko hooks up with. Then comes [[WhamEpisode Episodes 6 and 7]], where [[spoiler: most of the thieves are killed]] and Chizuko is sent back to Japan. It's there that we meet Chizuko's ''real'' supporting cast; Shunka and Tome.
* In ''Manga/TheWorldIsMine'', we meet the two {{Villain Protagonist}}s [[PsychopathicManChild Toshiya]] and [[WildChild Mon]] driving down the highway, with Mon having sex with a flashy-looking high school girl. She describes herself to the audience as if she'll be the protagonist ("My name is Miho, seventeen years old, ''love'' sex!") and is then [[DisposableWoman pushed out of the car into oncoming traffic]]. The ''real'' female protagonist is a plain-looking girl and one of the few people that Mon doesn't want to rape or kill (Mon actually curls up into her lap and falls asleep like Berserker Rage {{Ranma}}).
* From the same author of ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'', ''{{Durarara}}'' has Mikado Ryuugamine who may look like he's the protagonist because he was the focus for the first episode. You might be thinking "huh, so we get to see Ikebukuro from the eyes of a NaiveNewcomer". [[spoiler: Until you see his biggest secret.]] WordOfGod says that [[HeadlessHorseman Celty]] is the protagonist of the series, not Mikado.
* The majorly BrokenBase of ''GundamSEEDDestiny'' always seems to be fighting over the problem of who exactly the main character ''was''. While [[{{Determinator}} Shinn Asuka]] gets all the best combat scenes, pilots a [[HumongousMecha Gundam]] painted in the traditional white/blue/red/yellow color scheme usually used to signify a main character, and is front and center in most promotional material for the show; the OlderAndWiser [[AllLovingHero Kira Yamato]] takes Shinn's place as the front-and-center character halfway through the show and is portrayed as having the [[OmniscientMoralityLicense moral high ground]] over Shinn, who is supporting a character whose stated goal is the elimination of TheEvilsOfFreeWill. A fairly famous FlipFlopOfGod has named Athrun Zala, a character who goes from being Shinn's [[TheObiWan mentor]] to Kira's [[TheLancer Lancer]] around the point that the change in perspective happens as ''the'' main character of the story. While there has been much FanWank over this idea, citing it as an AssPull, it does [[MakesSenseInContext make some sense in context]]; as A) a large amount of the story is dedicated to Athrun's crisis of faith over having to side with his former [[TheEmpire ZAFT]] comrades against TheKingdom he defected to in the previous series (due to said kingdom deciding to give in to the corrupt [[TheFederation Federation]]), B) The change in series' perspective from pro-ZAFT to pro-Three Ships Alliance comes around the time when Athrun had learned of the BigBad's master plan and jumped ship to rejoin Kira in hopes of stopping him, and C) Athrun is the one who engages and defeats Shinn (who by this point had become a ''very'' dangerous [[TheDragon Dragon]]) in very emotional single combat right before the end of the war (Kira meanwhile, is busy [[CurbStompBattle curbstomping]] the local EvilGenius).
** It doesn't help that Shinn eventually gets the titular Destiny Gundam as his MidSeasonUpgrade.
** Also, the Destiny TV Movies were narrated from Athrun's point of view.
** In the credits for Destiny, Shinn was billed first for the first 47 episodes, with Athrun getting second billing. For the final three episodes and Final Plus, Kira received top billing and Shinn was knocked down to third billing. For the TV Movies, Athrun received top billing, and Shinn was billed second.
* In the second "season" of ''Takemitsu Zamurai'', a bandit leader named "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Glass-eyed]] Tetsuzo" is set up to be the new antagonist after landing in jail. Unfortunately he's [[spoiler:TooDumbToLive and kicks previous antagonist [[ImplacableMan Kikuchi]] awake.]] The next morning, Tetsuzo is found [[spoiler:''with his head twisted off'' and Kikuchi]] is now the owner of a [[spoiler:pretty marble, which he eventually uses to burn the prison down]] and escape.
* The sequel to ''Manga/BlackButler'' sets up Alois Trancy and Claude Faustus as the new Master and Butler duo, [[spoiler:until Sebastian comes back, and Ciel is brought back to life. All in the first episode. After all of the marketing A-1 Pictures has done for Alois and Claude, it turns out that it was done to hide the fact that Sebastian and Ciel would be returning. Bravo.]]
* [[spoiler:Gohan, Videl, and Goku]] in the 13th ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' movie, ''Wrath of the Dragon''. Not a death example, but after the first act, the focus switches from them to Trunks and Tapion and stays there for the rest of the film.
* In ''YokuWakaruGendaiMahou'' Yumiko has the focus in the First Episode until its shown that Koyomi is The Main Character
* The First Episode of ''{{Shiki}}'' follows Megumi as the central character and her life around the village. [[spoiler:She's dead by the end of the episode]]
* ''Manga/{{Emerging}}'': Since she appears on the cover and since the first chapter revolves around her, it's very easy to mistake Akari for the series' protagonist. [[spoiler: She gets infected with the disease at the very beginning of the story, and from then until the very end does nothing except lying in her hospital bed looking miserable. Her family doctor becomes the hero.]]
* This trope gets played with [[ZigZaggingTrope all over the place]] in ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' as well. Despite being the title character, Madoka [[UselessProtagonist has little effect on the plot, and is mostly an observer]]. Sayaka does become a magical girl, and she has a personality much more commonly associated with protagonists. According to WordOfGod, she is the hero of the story, [[spoiler:except that it's actually her StartOfDarkness.]] Then episode 10 came along [[spoiler:and we find out that in many ways, this is Homura's story.]] And in the finale, [[spoiler:Madoka ''does'' become the hero, [[HeroicSacrifice selflessly erasing herself from existence]] to change the world.]]
** Gen literally says "I think the human protagonist is actually Homura." [[http://wiki.puella-magi.net/Otona_Anime_Vol.20#Summary_of_Staff_Comments in an interview.]]
** ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'' is more of a straight example. The film follows Madoka at first, but then Homura takes over the plot right when things start happening.
* ''Manga/PuellaMagiOrikoMagica'', had an odd case. For starters, the title character ''isn't even on the cover of the first volume''. In fact, [[spoiler: it's an AntagonistTitle; Oriko is the villain.]] The real protagonists, at least in the first volume, are Kyouko and Yuma, the girl who actually was on the cover. Mami functions as a secondary protagonist. [[spoiler: And then in the second volume, [[HijackedByGanon Homura]] [[InvertedTrope becomes the protagonist]].]]
* Takashi of ''AllRounderMeguru'' is clearly the star of the prologue, and his storyline is the heaviest and most dramatic element of the series, but Meguru's the one with his name in the title.
* The first chapter of ''Manga/ArataKangatari'' and its debut cover page on the magazine it's serialized in would have you believe that Amawakuni Arata is the main character, but he isn't - it's Hinohara Arata, who's not even on said cover.
* The first episode of ''Popotan'' starts out with Daichi discovering [[spoiler: the ''real'' protagonists']] mansion as he explores a field. He walks inside... It's dark, and lit only by a Christmas tree... Suddenly, "UNA!" He runs into the hallway, having been startled by Unagi, and runs into the bathroom door as Ai comes out wearing only a towel. It's from here on that we meet all the ''real'' protagonists as he frantically attempts to flee the house. He is present during the last minute of the episode, after the girls leave, but is only ever seen again in episode 7 (as an adult, except for flashbacks) and the last episode (when [[spoiler: Ai travels back to the time she and her sisters first met him]]).
* In ''Manga/{{Basara}}'', everyone thinks that a boy named Tatara is TheChosenOne—he fits the prophecy to a T—until the king he’s supposed to overthrow hears about him, rides in, and takes his head from his shoulders. Tatara's twin sister Sarasa, who grew up in her brother’s shadow and has basically been forgotten about by almost everyone, rises up to take his place. [[ImpersonationGambit Literally]].
* In ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', after vowing to exterminate all the Titans because one of them ate his mother and after joining the army, Eren is devoured [[HeroicSacrifice while trying to save his friend Armin]]. [[spoiler: Subverted when he is later revealed to have survived and transformed into the Rogue Titan attacking other Titans]].
* ''Manga/SketDance'' begins with [[NewTransferStudent Teppei's]] first day in his new school and meeting the eponymous Sket-dan. Then the chapter ends and he never appears again aside from a few cameos.
* In ''Anime/{{Vexille}}'', the first half of the movie is spent with Vexille, who's part of a force that's about to stage a covert operation against an isolationist nation. The second half of the film reveals the protagonist to be Maria, a character who wasn't introduced in the first half. Indeed, pretty much everything Vexille was trying to do didn't matter at all. Maria's the one who knows what the stakes are, has devised a plan to thwart the villain, and has gathered together a group of people to execute said plan. She has a direct and personal connection to the villain, as well as people on her side who she has to work against to gather resources and manpower to pull off her scheme. The story in the second half continues to be told from Vexille's point of view, yet her main contribution is to have things explained to. And to pilot the Mecha.
* ''GingaNagareboshiGin'' started out with Daisuke as the protagonist and was your typical ABoyAndHisDog story. Eight episodes in it had a GenreShift when the attention changed to his dog, Gin, and Gin ran off to join a pack of feral dogs. Daisuke doesn't appear again until the tail end of the series and is nowhere in the sequel anime.
* ''Manga/{{Arachnid}}'' begins with Kumo the assassin kidnapping an orphan named Alice to make her into his apprentice. She soon comes to respect and regard him as her father, only to be forced into a fight to the death because Kumo actually [[DeathSeeker wanted her to kill him]] and inherit his abilities.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Like a lot of comics, Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Comicbook/BlackOrchid'' lampshades BondVillainStupidity. Unlike most, the {{Mook}} really ''[[DefiedTrope does]]'' shoot the main character in the head. He doesn't know that [[GoodThingYouCanHeal she can regenerate]], but he [[KillItWithFire sets her on fire]] to be absolutely certain she's DeaderThanDead. Given this is on the second page of the first issue, it's a good thing MesACrowd.
* A non-fatal example in the ''Department of Monsterology'' comics. We are initially introduced to Emma Hampton and Team Challenger and are led to believe that they are going to be the main protagonists(with TheHero being the NaiveNewcomer Emma Hampton). However, after their initial scene, one of them mentions Team Carnacki who then become the main protagonists, with [[HeroOfAnotherStory Team Challenger]] being DemotedToExtra afterwards.
** The two body-jumping villains appear to be set up as the BigBadDuumvirate, or at least as major antagonists. They ultimately turn out to be Decoy Antagonists, and are defeated by the end of the initial story arc.
* Similarly, Gaiman's ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' gave us a Decoy Antagonist with Roderick Burgess, the warlock who imprisons Dream in the first issue. He seems to be set up as the BigBad, or at least as a major antagonist. Then it turns out that the first issue spans ''70 freakin' years''. By the end of issue #1, Burgess has died of old age, and his son Alex is a harmless, senile old man. After Dream escapes, he leaves him in a permanent nightmare and never sees him again.
* ''[[ComicBook/TwoThousandAD 2000 AD]]''[='=]s ''Shakara'' begins with a human thinking he's the LastOfHisKind after the Earth is destroyed. He's killed on page 2, by the protagonist.
* Used to great effect in ''Origin'', in which it turns out that the kid who looks like a young Wolverine, is nicknamed "Dog", and has the surname "Logan", isn't the one who grows up to be {{Wolverine}}. The real young Wolverine is actually James Howlett, who starts out as a sickly rich kid living in a manor house in Alberta--though Dog is heavily implied to be his half-brother (and may or may not be connected to Sabretooth in some way).
* ''ComicBook/TheMask'' comics is a very good example of this. Stanley may be the first person to wear the ArtifactOfDoom but he is not the main character. It is debatable after the 2nd series of books whether the wearer of the mask is the main character or if it is Kellaway (the SympatheticInspectorAntagonist). And Big Head is just TheBigBad.
* The first ''Comicbook/{{Azrael}}'' miniseries begins with what appears to be the title character being shot and killed in the first few pages. As it turns out, this was the main character's father and the mantle is a LegacyCharacter.
* James Robinson's ''Comicbook/StarMan'' series had a similar opening with a superhero being killed in the first two pages, only for his brother to take up the mantle.
* In a third act switch, Archangel Cameron in ''Archangels: The Saga''. He's the main character for the first seven issues [[spoiler:and for the epilogue of the 9th]], but in Issues 8 and 9, the famous archangel Michael is summoned by God to issue the BigBad's final defeat and ''he'' becomes the new focus character.
* In the UltimateMarvel universe Ray Connor, the kid who takes up the Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} identity after the death of Matt Murdock. We're given an issue dealing with his origin and background and the book makes it seem like he's being positioned as a major character in the mold of previous [[LegacyCharacter Legacy Characters]]...but then at the end of said issue, he gets bitten by a vampire.
* TransformersWingsOfHonor: Follows Metalhawk's group (with TheHero being the NaiveNewcomer Dion), and Onslaught's in their war against the growing Decepticon uprising lead by Deathsaurus. In the final few comics, Onslaught's team reneges, and kills half of Metalhawk's team, with Dion defeating their combined form. Then the protagonist switches to Magnum, the leader of the Elite guard which Onslaught and his men wiped out. He and the rest of the survivors, including Dion, fight Deathsaurus and beat him. Deathsaurus turns out to be a Decoy Antagonist, and is beaten and overthrown by the true antagonist Megatron. Megatron leads an attack on the Autobots, fatally shooting Dion and Magnum. Alpha Trion takes them, and rebuilds Ultra Magnus from one of them, while the other dies, and Ultra Magnus welcomes the true hero of the war, Optimus Prime.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Noob}}'', being the player whose DayInTheLife is shown at the beginning doesn't guarantee being the focus for the rest of the comic.
* ''ComicBook/InnocenceLost'' tells the story of {{X-23}}'s creation, and provides the groundwork for how she became the BrokenBird DarkActionGirl she's best known as. However Laura herself is ''not'' the main character, and in fact isn't even born until roughly halfway through the book. The story actually focuses on Dr. Sarah Kinney's attempts to create her, [[HeelFaceTurn the events that lead to her decision to free Laura from the Facility]], [[spoiler: and her accidental death at Laura's hands]].
* ''ComicBook/TheBojeffriesSaga'' introduces us to the titular family through the eyes of a rent collector trying to get back rent from them. He gets turned into a geranium plant at the end of the first arc.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Used in ''FanFic/FairlyEnglishStory''.
* In ''FanFic/SeventyTwoHours'', Nick Savini and Tamyra Carpenter are set up as the protagonists and main couple...up until the fourth chapter, where Nick unwittingly blows himself up and Tamyra gets shot in the heart.
* Marty in ''FanFic/NoAntidote''. He's only really there to tie the Pokemon in his team (including the real protagonist, Bulbasaur) together.
* Connor Russell in [[TheSlenderManMythos the Slender Man fic]] ''Fanfic/ByTheFiresLight'' starts as our first viewpoint protagonist, but dies in short order. He ends up being replaced by Detective Carl Rourke and Mira Grolinsky.
* Broddigan "Longbow" Quarles from ''Fanfic/WhatLiesBeyondTheWalls'' is set up as being the story's main viewpoint character, and there's even a good chunk of information given about his background. Then a weasel comes by and [[SlashedThroat slices his neck open while he's sleeping]] before the first chapter's even ''one-third'' of the way finished.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Most people assume that Aurora is the protagonist of Disney's ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' and get annoyed that she is so underdeveloped. It was planned for her to be a protagonist, but the final film has the three fairies as the protagonists and basically do most of the stuff for both Aurora and Phillip.
* A deleted opening for ''Disney/AtlantisTheLostEmpire'' was actually going to make [[HornyVikings a team of Vikings]] the main characters of the movie. Cue [[KrakenandLeviathan the Leviathan]] sinking their ship, killing said Vikings, and causing the Shepherd's Journal to float away into the Atlantic Ocean...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The TropeCodifier (if not the TropeMaker) and easily the most famous example is ''Film/{{Psycho}}''. Marion Crane is set up as the main character through the first half of the film. Then [[ItWasHisSled she takes a shower]]. She's the reason Hitchcock asked for a "no late admission" policy, as he thought that if people entered the theater late and never saw the star actress Janet Leigh, they would feel cheated. Leigh's agent didn't want her to take the role because of how quickly the screen time ended. Leigh's response was "Ah, but who are they ''talking'' about the rest of the film?"
* ''Film/{{Hostel}}'' primarily focuses on [[spoiler: Josh, the nice, shy, virginal guy]] for most the film before killing him and revealing [[spoiler: Paxton, who'd be among the first to die in most horror movies,]] as the lead and survivor. The second movie does this for [[spoiler:Paxton]], setting him up to be the protagonist and quite possibly [[spoiler:trying to take down the organization after what he suffered in the first movie]]. Instead, he gets his head chopped off five minutes in.
* In ''Film/{{Fargo}}'', Jerry Lundegaard seems to be the main character, as would be typical for the Coen brothers' ordinary-schmuck-commits-a-crime-gone-wrong genre, until Marge Gunderson is introduced about a half hour into the film.
* Marlon Brando had star billing and a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Vito Corleone in ''Film/TheGodfather'', but he was [[spoiler:gunned down]] less than forty minutes in and spent a good deal of the rest of the film [[spoiler:lying in a hospital bed before dying of a heart attack]]. His son Michael was the [[VillainProtagonist hero]] of the film.
* Creator/QuentinTarantino takes this to the point of having an entire decoy ''cast'' in the ''Film/{{Grindhouse}}'' film ''Film/DeathProof''. Half of the movie focuses on a bunch of characters where they very distinctly focus on one character who just ''screams'' FinalGirl only for her and all of the characters introduced to be [[spoiler:killed off all at once.]] After that the rest of the movie focuses on a completely different bunch of characters in a completely different area, and filmed in a completely different style. It was like watching a sequel to the movie in the middle of the first one!
* In the original ''Film/{{Alien}}'' movie, Creator/SigourneyWeaver's Ripley was not played as the main protagonist. For the first half of the movie, the presumptive lead was Captain Dallas [[spoiler:AKA Victim #3]]. In fact, Creator/SigourneyWeaver was probably the least famous actor in the cast. John Hurt, the most established actor, dies first in the iconic ChestBurster scene.
* Alderson in ''Film/{{Cube}}''. The beginning of the movie shows him getting up and beginning to explore his surroundings... only to be unexpectedly [[{{Gorn}} sliced into cubes moments later.]] The movie pulls it again by making Quentin look like the heroic protective leader-type within the group before pulling a FaceHeelTurn. Worth, who initially appears to be an AntiHero, eventually steps up to be the true protector of the survivors.
* In ''Film/DeepBlueSea'', the adventurer/executive played by Creator/SamuelLJackson [[spoiler: gets bitten in half by a shark]]. And later,[[spoiler: Saffron Burrows who got billing as the lead character, is the only character on the cover and posters and looking like the presumed Final Girl... gets eaten. It wasn't written that way, but the test audiences felt she shouldn't survive after causing that much death.]]
* Sarge in the ''Film/{{Doom}}'' movie [[spoiler: has a psychotic break and later (for unrelated reasons) turns into a demon. He even lampshades this when he is caught by the demons and shouts out "I'm not supposed to die!", because he assumed he was the main character.]].
* ''Franchise/FridayThe13th'' franchise:
** The ''Film/FridayThe13th2009'' ContinuityReboot has a group of teens slaughtered by Jason in the beginning and then introduces another group of teens including obvious FinalGirl Jenna. Jenna is the Decoy Protagonist and is abruptly killed off twenty minutes before the end. The actual FinalGirl is Whitney, one of the girls from the first group whom Jason took alive.
** Rob Dier in ''Film/FridayThe13thTheFinalChapter'', who we were led to believe was going to be the [[BigDamnHeroes Big Damn Hero]], only for him to die a pretty anticlimactic death.
---> '''Rob:''' [[{{Narm}} He's killing me! He's killing me! Oh God, he's killing me!]]
* The first ''Film/{{Feast}}'' movie has the characters named "Hero" (''Life Expectancy: Pretty Good. Occupation: Kicking Ass'') and "Heroine" (''Occupation: Wear tanktops, tote shotgun, save day. LIFE EXPECTANCY: Hopefully Better Than The Last Hero'') both end up dying, the former a few minutes after being introduced. The second Heroine (''Occupation: Career waitress, single mom. Life Expectancy: Expects nothing from life.'' upgraded to ''Occupation: Heroine #2. Life Expectancy: Let's hope for the best'') is the one to make it through, even [[InfantImmortality after her son is eaten]]. Needless to say, this movie loves [[SubvertedTrope subverting]] the SortingAlgorithmOfMortality.
* Jim Ogilvie in the first of ''TheStepfather'' films. He spends most of the film looking for his sister's killer and in the end, when he does finally find the stepfather, he's [[spoiler: knifed in the stomach before he can even pull his gun out.]]
* Lucius Hunt is clearly the protagonist of ''Film/TheVillage'', right up until he is stabbed viciously and his blind girlfriend Ivy must make the journey to rescue him that takes up the rest of the film. Notably, this is the only plot twist in the film that isn't telegraphed very early on and actually feels twisty as a result.
* A rare third-act POV switch in ''Film/DeathBecomesHer'': Bruce Willis's character takes over as the protagonist, leaving the previous main characters played by Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn sidelined until the movie's coda.
* Happens in a few of ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'' films:
** In [[Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984 the first movie]] we're introduced to Freddy through Tina's dreams, hearing about Tina's fears in regards to the nightmares, and generally being led to believe that this movie will be about Tina's escape from Freddy. And then she's the first member of the group to die.
** [[Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet4TheDreamMaster Part four]] starts out focusing on Kristen, the protagonist of [[Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet3DreamWarriors the previous film]], but she is rather quickly killed off and focus completely shifts to her schoolmate Alice.
** In ''Film/FreddysDeadTheFinalNightmare'' the apparent main character confronts Freddy, telling him [[spoiler:that he knows that he's his son.]] He promptly learns, [[spoiler: the hard way, that Freddy had a daughter.]]
** The [[Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet2010 2010 remake]] employs a use of this trope. [[spoiler: Kris]] is actually the second victim but most of the first twenty minutes focus on her and the actual heroine, though already introduced only becomes important after [[spoiler: Kris]] is killed. This works significantly less well considering the real heroine [[spoiler: Nancy]] shares the same name as the original's heroine
* ''Franchise/{{Scream}}''
** In another Wes Craven film, the trailer for the first ''Film/{{Scream|1996}}'' movie had audiences assuming that Drew Barrymore's character Casey was a main character. [[spoiler:She's killed in the first ten minutes.]]
** Played with in ''Film/{{Scream 4}}''. [[Creator/EmmaRoberts Jill]] is set up as an {{Expy}} of her cousin Sidney, her actions mirroring those of Sidney in the first film, and everything seems to be on the way for her to become the FinalGirl. [[spoiler:Turns out she's the killer.]]
* ''Film/APerfectGetaway''. The seeming main characters are [[spoiler:not only ''not'' the protagonists, they turn out to be the ''villains''. The actual protagonists]] only show up twenty to thirty minutes into the film.
* ''The Spectre Of Freedom'' by [[Creator/LuisBunuel Luis Buñuel]] does this repeatedly. (If you can call the characters protagonists in the first place...)
* Ilios from Lucio Fulci's ''Conquest'' is TheChosenOne, possesses one of the few bows in the film's world, and is on TheQuest. He tends to screw up and gets rescued by his sidekick, Maxz. And then [[spoiler:the minions of the BigBad kill him and Maxz takes up his bow, completing the quest]].
* During the first 1/2 hour of ''Film/TheBoysFromBrazil'', it seems pretty clear that Barry (Steve Guttenberg) is the main character. Then he has a run in with some Nazis...
* The slasher flick/cop movie ''Film/ManiacCop'' focuses largely on Detective Frank [=McCrae=] (Tom Atkins) as he tries to track down a killer who dresses as a police officer, for about the first forty-five minutes. Then [[spoiler: the Detective is killed and the focus shifts to Officer Jack Forrest (Creator/BruceCampbell)]] for the remainder of the movie.
* The opening scene of ''Film/TheHurtLocker'' focuses on Thompson, played by Guy Pearce, who seems to be the hero until he dies and gets replaced with the real main character.
* Unless you had seen the poster or trailer for the first ''Film/BringItOn'' movie, the opening sequence would lead you to believe that [[spoiler:Big Red]] is the main character. Then, mid-song, the focus shifts to [[spoiler:Torrance]]. Granted, [[spoiler:Torrance]] is there in the first part of the song too, but she's off to the side or in the background. No one dies, but it otherwise fits this trope.
* [[spoiler:Aziz]] in ''Film/AnAmericanCarol''. [[spoiler:He doesn't die, but it is Michael]] who is the actual hero. Interestingly, [[spoiler:Aziz is portrayed as a VillainProtagonist. Michael effectively replaces him, but is portrayed as a well-meaning, dim-witted ActionSurvivor]].
* ''Film/{{Mindhunters}}'': [[spoiler:Christian Slater's character]] gets killed first.
* At the end of ''Film/SuckerPunch'', the protagonist Baby Doll has a revelation that [[spoiler:the movie isn't actually her story at all, but actually Sweet Pea's. She sacrifices her own freedom for Sweet Pea once she realizes she was only ever meant to be the catalyst for Sweet Pea's escape from the mental asylum]]. [[spoiler:Unless you view the movie as a nested series of traumatic dissociation within Baby Doll's own mind, in which case all the other girls we see in the Burlesque and High Fantasy scenes are fractured aspects of her consciousness, which kinda changes the entire meaning of the film.]]
* The horror movie ''Scarecrow 2'' started off with an older farmer telling a flashbacked story about how the titular monster murdered his father when he was a kid to a reporter. It sets up as if he's (one of) the main protagonist(s), but he's chopped up by the scarecrow to the point of LudicrousGibs while handcuffed to a hospital bed within 20 minutes of the opening credits.
* Watch the first hour of ''Film/TheReturn'', and it's pretty clear that Ivan is the main character. Watch the final 20 minutes, and it's pretty clear that Andrei has taken over the role. According to WordOfGod, Andrei was the main character for the entire movie, but was metaphorically "hidden in the shadows" up until that point.
* In ''Film/{{Blindness}}'', it might appear at first the movie's main character would be the Japanese man, or the Doctor, but after a while it is made clear that the Doctor's Wife is the real main character of the story.
* In ''One Day'', given that the movie, at first, appears to focus primarily on Emma, she appears to be the protagonist. However, with about fifteen minutes of the film to go, [[spoiler:she gets hit by a truck and dies]], completely transferring the focus to Dexter.
* In ''Film/MacGruber'', the title character assembles a super-team of secret agents. [[spoiler:They are then promptly packed into a car and blown up, to be replaced by a rag-tag team consisting of MacGruber, Vicki St. Elmo and Dixon Piper.]]
* A superhero appears at the beginning of ''Film/KickAss'', prepared to make the dive of a skyscraper. He's hailed by a bad-ass soundtrack and the voice-over about superheroes. [[spoiler: He dies from the fall. And the movie moves on. Turns out he was just some random crazy person.]]
* Mike from ''Film/KillerKlownsFromOuterSpace''. He survives the whole movie, but his role as TheHero is usurped early on by Dave the policeman, who becomes the only character in the entire film to kill any of the klowns, and he never gets it back.
* Done surprisingly well in {{Bollywood}} movie ''Dum Maaro Dum'' where the whole movie focuses on ACP Vishnu Kamath((Abhishek Bachchan)'s attempts to root out the drug traffickers. He suddenly gets killed by a corrupt cop about 3/4th into the movie and a supporting character DJ Joki(played by debutante Rana Daggubati) assumes the lead role and ends up foiling the BigBad's plan
* The ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' franchise.
** Although Jamie is clearly the main protagonist in ''Film/Halloween5TheRevengeOfMichaelMyers'', we're led to believe that [[spoiler:Rachel]] will once again be at her side for the duration. She's one of the earliest victims in the film. Then, the annoying girl who you'd expect to die first [[spoiler:(Tina)]] ends up outliving her friends (bar Jamie).
** ''Film/HalloweenTheCurseOfMichaelMyers'': [[spoiler:Jamie herself. She is killed very early on in the movie]].
** [[spoiler:Laurie Strode]] in ''Film/HalloweenResurrection''. [[spoiler:After being the main protagonist in 3 films, she's the first victim in the final outing.]]
* The President's daughter from ''[[Film/SpyKids Spy Kids 2]]'', whose prologue made the film look like if it was actually about her and her adventures at an amusement park full of wacky CGI rides.
* Creator/ViggoMortensen's character in ''Film/{{Daylight}}'', an adventurer who becomes the de-facto leader of the survivors, is killed while trying to look for an exit of the collapsed tunnel, coincidentally just as SylvesterStallone's character arrives.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** The prequel trilogy is about Anakin Skywalker but he doesn't actually appear until half way through the first movie. For most of ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'' Qui-Gon Jinn seems like the main character.
** With ''Film/ANewHope'', Luke Skywalker doesn't appear until around 20 minutes in. C-3PO and R2-D2 are the focus of the movie until then.
** Luke can actually be seen as the Decoy Protagonist of the saga as a whole: he's clearly set up as the hero of the original trilogy, but when viewed alongside the prequel trilogy, it becomes clear that the series is actually about his father Anakin's rise, fall, and eventual redemption.
* ''Silver Tongues'' opens with Rachel and Alex, a newly married and already fraying young couple on their tense honeymoon. A few minutes in they run into a couple in their 40's and have dinner with them. [[spoiler: The older couple turn out to be con artists who trick Rachel and Alex into believing they are swingers, manipulate the frustrations the younger couple have and leave the newlyweds with a seemingly broken marriage. The plot then sticks with the con artists as they run into other people - Rachel and Alex are never seen or mentioned again after the first act.]]
* In ''Film/BramStokersDracula'', Jonathan Harker appears to be the heroic protagonist for the first quarter until the focus shifts to his fiancee Mina for the rest of the film and Jonathan fades into the background as a supporting character. [[spoiler:Mina is even the one who vanquishes Dracula in the end.]]
* ''Film/PitchBlack'' had [[spoiler:Carolyn, who dies at the end, with Riddick who ends up starring in his own movie]].
* ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus'' starts with Anton as the protagonist at the film's beginning. Then it's Tony in the middle of the film. The ending makes it clear that the film's protagonist all along was [[spoiler: Parnassus himself]].
* The cop at the start of ''Film/{{Ultraviolet}}'' looks like the typical BigBrotherIsEmployingYou hero. He goes on about the harshness against hemophages and believes the whole thing is just a witch hunt. Then, he gets infected and his partner shoots him dead.
* In ''Film/ByTheSword'', in the first half, we seem to focus more on students Erin Clavelli and Jim Trebor and their romance at the fencing school. About halfway through, they become more background characters and shown as differences in teaching styles between the real main characters, Max Suba and Alexander Villard.
* ''Creator/MarilynMonroe'' gets top billing in ''Film/{{Niagara}}'' but not only is she the villain, [[spoiler:she dies halfway through!]]
* ''Franchise/EvilDead''
** ''Film/TheEvilDead1981'' clearly sets up Scott to be the likeliest to the survive the story. As the story continues, he's the one who is continuously doing things, trying to save the rest of the group's lives, and eventually decides to go get help, only for the camera's focus to shift to Ash, the character whose defining moment up until this point had been getting trapped under a bookshelf. [[spoiler: Scott makes it back...but not in one piece]]
** ''Film/EvilDead2013'' Reboot sets up David as the group leader and protagonist. He leads the group, and takes charge. [[spoiler: The shift occurs when Mia changes from the dead to the living, and David is killed.]]
* ''Grave of the Vampire'' starts off with a vampire attacking a young couple (killing the man, raping the woman). A police detective, after hearing the woman's story, goes to the cemetery. So far, so good. It doesn't end well for him.
* In ''Film/{{Chronicle}}'', Andrew is the primary character for the first half of the film. [[spoiler: However, the focus shifts to Matt when Andrew starts to [[DrunkOnTheDarkSide abuse his powers]] and [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope go further off the deep-end]]]].
* Sean Bean is the most established actor and in one of the lead roles in ''Film/{{Equilibrium}}''. He gets killed early on. Which is kind of a trend for Sean Bean. In numerous other movies and shows, he seems to be set up as the main character (at least to an unexperienced audience), only to be killed or turned into the villain. Or both.
* Rare antagonist example in ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra''. A lot of fans familiar with [[Franchise/GIJoe the mythology]] expected the Doctor to actually be the ''Rise of Cobra'' version of Doctor Mindbender. Only at the end, was it revealed [[spoiler: that the Doctor is actually Cobra Commander.]]
* ''Film/CitizenKane'' is a double subversion. Even though Kane is the title character, he's actually the person we learn about through multiple third-person perspectives of him, [[ItWasHisSled since he died at the beginning.]] The real protagonist is Jerry Thompson, whose goal throughout the film is to find out what "Rosebud" meant.
* ''Film/SevenSamurai'' first focuses on a bunch of peasants before shifting to the samurai. The peasants continue to play an important part, including in fighting and defeating the bandits (and the ones who go out in search of samurai at the beginning are shown to have stories of their own, in particular Rikichi), and Kambei at the end of the movies states that the peasants are the real winners.
* In ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness'', [[spoiler:it's actually Spock who defeats Khan, not Kirk. The movie focuses on Spock's growth as a character through Kirk's actions. Unlike most cases though, Kirk doesn't stay dead]].
* Contrary to what the advertising for ''Film/NowYouSeeMe'' suggests, the Four Horsemen aren't the leads, Agent Dylan Rhodes is, though they (and Thaddeus Bradley, for that matter) are {{Deuteragonist}}s. [[spoiler: Taken to a new level when you learn that Dylan is the fifth Horseman.]]
* ''Film/ThePlaceBeyondThePines'': The film follows Luke for the first hour of the film, [[spoiler:until he's killed. The film then follows the police officer who kills him and then Luke's son fifteen years later. There is no real main character]].
* The first half of ''Film/DressedToKill'' follows Kate ... until she gets killed.
* ''Film/TheOne'' starts showing Lawless, played by JetLi. Naturally, people assume that he's either the hero or the villain, as the trailers claimed that JetLi is ActingForTwo. Lawless is killed by the real villain Yulaw a few minutes into the film, the latest in the long line of doubles he's already killed.
* ''Film/WhatHaveYouDoneToSolange'' has Elizabeth as the FinalGirl until she gets killed viciously midway through the movie. An especially well-done example of the trope as it comes out of nowhere.
* In ''Film/SouthlandTales'', the final minutes reveal that the character of Boxer Santaros was the false messiah - the primer being the Taverner brothers.
* In highly realistic {{Bollywood}} film Bollywood/{{Parinda}}, Karan is the hero who is our introduction into the CrapsackWorld of Mumbai gangland where his brother is a {{Mook}} for the BigBad. Then, [[spoiler: Karan and his wife get murdered brutally and his brother performs a HeelFaceTurn and avenges his death.]]
%% * Steven Seagal in ''Film/ExecutiveDecision''.
%% * Paul Taylor in the remake of ''Film/TheBlob''
%% * Both Tom and Jerry in ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerryTheMovie''.
%% * Detectives [[DwayneJohnson Danson]] and [[Creator/SamuelLJackson Highsmith]] in ''Film/TheOtherGuys''
* In ''ParanormalActivity: The Marked Ones'', Jesse is the protagonist at first. The movie opens with him getting a camcorder for his high school graduation present. [[spoiler: After he fully gets possessed by the demon, his best friend Hector takes over the protagonist role, and the second half of the film shows him trying to save Jesse from the covenant of witches that 'marked' and chose him.]]
* Though Joseph Brody is given a lot of development early on in ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}'', his son is TheHero of the story as far as human characters go.
* ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'':
** Even though WolverinePublicity is in full effect, Charles is the true protagonist of the film. [[spoiler: Wolverine even gets taken out before the climax.]]
** [[spoiler: Mystique]] is presented as a villain throughout the movie, but her motivations (to kill the man who tortured and murdered her friends) are heroic, and she's the one who saves the day and stops [[spoiler: Magneto]] at the end.
* ''Film/FallingDown'': It seems like the story's main character is Bill Foster and Prendergast is a HeroAntagonist, but as the movie progresses and Foster [[ProtagonistJourneyToVillain becomes increasingly villainous]] they switch roles as well.
* ''Film/RiseOfThePlanetOfTheApes'': Despite Creator/JamesFranco getting top billing for the movie, the chimpanzee, Caesar, is the true hero of the story. By ''Film/DawnOfThePlanetOfTheApes'', Creator/AndySerkis, who does the motion capture for Caesar, got top billing.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In Thomas Sniegoski's ''The Fallen'', the first few pages revolve around a high school kid experiencing a bout of HeroicBSOD due to the fact that he's just gained superpowers and can now talk to animals. He's obviously the protagonist, right? Wrong. [[OurAngelsAreDifferent He gets torched by the big bad]] and is [[ButForMeItWasTuesday never mentioned again]].
* In the book ''{{Hexwood}}'', we are first introduced to Ann Stavely, a 14-year-old-ish girl recovering from a long illness, who lives in a small town. About halfway through, the protagonist switches to a 20-something fashion designer from the heart of the galaxy. It turns out she was just [[spoiler:hallucinating that she was the girl, Ann, due to the effects of a powerful magical artifact.]]
* ''Literature/BraveNewWorld'' features perhaps one of the most iconic examples of this: we are initially led to believe the protagonist of the story is Bernard Marx, as the novel focuses on him being a misfit in the World State and his questioning of its ideals. Then, as soon as Bernard and Lenina arrive at the Savage reservation, we are introduced to John the Savage and the novel focuses more and more on John while Bernard fades into the background.
* ''Literature/TheDiamondAge'' by Creator/NealStephenson features a particularly spiteful example: as the book begins, we're introduced to a thuggish cyberpunk protagonist straight out of the low-rent sci-fi movies of the late Eighties, complete with spiffy black leather clothes, skull-mounted nanotech weapons, and life of petty crime. Within a hundred pages he's been [[spoiler: gruesomely executed for armed robbery]], and his neglected four-year-old daughter turns out to be the book's ''real'' heroine.
* Literature/BattleRoyale tries to fool readers, [[spoiler: making them think that Shinji Mimura will be the hero. He dies, and Shuya is obviously the hero after that point]]
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' is a poster child for this trope, due to extensive use of AnyoneCanDie:
** Each and every prologue is told from the point of view of a character who turns out to be a SacrificialLamb, but that's just the warm-up.
** The main act is Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and leader of the protagonist-heavy Stark family. While we see many points of view, the main action of the story centers around Lord Eddard; he gets loads of character development, hints at a fascinating past, the works. [[spoiler:And then the Lannisters chop his head off]].
** The Stark Family in general. They certainly become less central to the plot some time after the third part, as members die and the roster of POV characters expands. There's also no saying that they're going to remain the designated "good guys" either.
** To a lesser extent, Viserys Targaryen. In any "[[WorldHalfFull normal]]" fantasy story, he'd go through his BreakTheHaughty process and earn his throne through learned humility and wisdom. In this one, he [[ExactWords gets his crown of gold]], all right...
** [[spoiler:Robb Stark]] and the other victims of the Red Wedding.
** [[spoiler:Beric Dondarrion]] has all the makings of a major player, but by the end of the fourth book, it's obvious in hindsight he was just there to put the pieces in place to advance [[spoiler:Catelyn's]] storyline.
* Played straight in Ben Bova's ''Moonrise.'' The first half of the book has playboy astronaut Paul Stavenger as the main character, only to have him die about half way through. Following a TimeSkip, Paul's less interesting and MartyStu-esque son assumes the role of protagonist.
* Veil Sixclaw in ''[[{{Redwall}} Outcast of Redwall]]''. The book's description talks about nothing but him and doesn't even mention the real protagonist. He's even on the front cover. So naturally, one would assume the story centers around him. [[CoversAlwaysLie It doesn't.]] Veil ''doesn't even exist'' in Part 1 of the story and he's a {{Jerkass}} in Part 2 ([[LaserGuidedKarma and gets banished for what he does]]). By Part 3 his subplot (which should've been ''the main plot'') [[TrappedByMountainLions wasn't necessary to keep the book going]], and at the end of the story [[spoiler: he does a random "heroic" [[HeroicSacrifice sacrifice]] [[AssPull for reasons not fully explained]] and dies]].
* ''Literature/MarcusDidiusFalco'':
** In the first ''Literature/MarcusDidiusFalco'' novel, the spirited young noblewoman who encounters Falco, Sosia, seems to be the second protagonist, but then she's [[spoiler:murdered]]. The actual second major character and Falco's love interest is [[spoiler: her cousin, Helena]].
** ''The Course Of Honour'' appears to be Caenis' story, but in reality, it's the story of the rise of Vespasian, seen through Caenis' eyes.
* Highly pronounced in Susanna Clarke's ''JonathanStrangeandMrNorrell,'' where the titular Jonathan Strange is not introduced for 250 pages, before proceeding to gobble up most of the spotlight.
* ''Literature/TheCavaliersSeries'' Oxford Blood opens with Stephanie French, social climber extraordinaire, attending the Cavaliers Summer Party and having Archie, the heir to a dukedom declare his love for her. And then Archie is turned into a vampire and kills her to complete his transformation. From then on, the action skips a year and focuses on Harriet, Stephanie’s cousin. Although [[spoiler: Stephanie continues to have a major influence on the story, most notably by being the major motivation for Archie’s murder spree]].
* China Mieville's ''Un Lun Dun'' starts with two girls as protagonists, of which Zanna is presumed to be TheChosenOne, according to a prophecy, and Diba seems to be her CowardlySidekick. Then, [[ScrewDestiny prophecy doesn't come true]], Zanna is kicked off the story, and Diba takes the limelight.
* Though he doesn't die, in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'' quite a few pages are spent making it look like Carrot is going to be the main character of the story, having all the traits of the classical hero, before Sam Vimes takes over as protagonist, not just of the book, but of the City Watch series. This was how it was intended to be, before Creator/TerryPratchett realised Vimes had more character and switched protagonists.
* ''The Zero Game'': The apparent protagonist [[RevealingCoverup is murdered]] four chapters in, with the narration switching to his friend.
* ''Franchise/{{Whoniverse}}'':
** In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' novel ''Prisoner of the Daleks'', [[spoiler: Stella]] seems like a perfect companion figure for the Doctor, but [[spoiler: she gets killed off]] by Chapter Three. This sets the DarkerAndEdgier tone for the book.
** This was also done in the VirginMissingAdventures novel ''Time of Your Life'', focusing on the Doctor's first adventure after Trial of a Time Lord. [[spoiler: Angela]] is set up as the new companion, only to get killed pretty quickly. Instead it's [[spoiler: Grant Markham]] who ends up as a companion by the novel's end.
* In the classic Greek ''Theatre/{{Antigone}}'', the titular character seems to be our main until... Well, she is a [[spoiler:TragicHero]]. Creon, the only character to have appeared in all of the Theban plays, takes the spotlight. Ergo, trope is OlderThanFeudalism.
* In ''The Night of the Generals'', during WorldWarII, an officer of German military intelligence is investigating a series of murders of prostitutes, and comes to the conclusion that the killer is a German general. Two-thirds of the way through the book, he [[spoiler:confronts the murderer, and is killed]]. Years later, a friend of his, who had a very small role in the story before this point, [[spoiler:takes up the case and brings it to a successful conclusion]].
* Creator/JackVance's ''Literature/{{Lyonesse}}'' trilogy begins with the birth and upbringing of the spirited Princess Suldrun. At about the halfway point of book one, however, she dies. The rest of the series divides its focus amongst a number of other characters, including her lover, son and father.
* Robert Silverberg's ''The Alien Years'' begins with an alien invasion from the perspective of a resourceful pilot. He's killed in the first chapter, and the rest of the novel focuses on his brother's family.
* Orson Scott Card uses this at least a couple of times.
** In ''Xenocide'', Qing-jao is the focus of the storyline on Path. She doesn't die, [[spoiler: (she does have her OCD/godspoken-ness taken away though)]] but she's very handily displaced by Wang-mu towards the end of the book, and though Wang-mu appears as a main character in ''Children of the Mind'', Qing-jao does not.
** In ''Empire'', we meet Reuben Malich, who is basically the hero of the whole book [[spoiler: except he gets unceremoniously shot in the face about two-thirds the way through, and Cole has to finish his work.]] Bonus points for the paperback version of Empire because it happens ''right'' before a page turn.
* Card also uses it, by degrees, in ''Literature/HartsHope'', which begins centuries before the protagonist is born, with the story of a baron who overthrows his king. Orem, the hero, isn't born until roughly one-third into the 300 page novel.
* The first chapter of ''Literature/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'' novel centers around a BrainlessBeauty named La Sorelli, who is given a disproportionate amount of detail describing her physical appearance, personality, and history for someone who turns out to be one of the most insignificant characters in the book. This is particularly HilariousInHindsight considering the losses the real heroine Christine endures to her personality in adaptations, reducing her to TheIngenue who vaguely resembles La Sorelli, personality-wise.
* Andrew Phelan in ''TheTrailOfCthulhu''. It seems like he'll be something of a SupportingProtagonist or an ActionSurvivor, witnessing the bizarre goings on that may or may not be connected to his mysterious new employer, Professor Shrewsbury of Miskatonic University...but that's only for the first chapter. [[spoiler:After this, he is no longer the [=POV=] character and eventually all-but-disappears entirely. He doesn't die, though, and considering this is a CthulhuMythos yarn, that's really saying something.]]
* Creator/ArthurMachen's short story, "The Dover Road". The first two thirds of the story stars Professor Warburton as he tries to come to grips with a bizarre phenomenon he and his colleagues have witnessed. Warburton eventually gathers up enough evidence to come up with [[AgentScully a rational-enough solution that completely satisfies him]]. The focus then turns to one of the other witnesses, [[AgentMulder Ian Tallent]], who had previously taken up all of 2-3 sentences in the story. Ian notices that Warburton's proposed solution fails to address certain aspects of the case and spends the remainder of the story doing some investigating of his own.
* Machen did this again in his novella, ''The Terror'' where he makes ''[[CreatorCameo himself]]'' the main character for the first few chapters before being demoted to mere GreekChorus.
* Biographical example in ''Literature/StrangerThanFictionTheLifeAndTimesOfSplitEnz''. Author Mike Chunn leaves the titular band in chapter nine out of sixteen, before they [[ThePeteBest even released their third album]]. Even still, he was only really a SupportingProtagonist up till that point.
* From ''TheKingdomsOfEvil'': Pon, who appears to be a Farm Boy on his way to seek his fortune. You know, before [[spoiler: he's slaughtered.]]
* Sara Douglass's ''Literature/TheWayfarerRedemption'' series takes an interesting take on this. The main protagonist of the first three volumes is Axis. Initially, it seems that his love interest is [[spoiler:Faraday]]. However, partway through the series, Axis falls in love with and marries [[spoiler:Azhure]], relegating [[spoiler:Faraday]] to a supporting role. The first half ends on an apparently final note with Axis defeating Gorgrael, after [[spoiler: Gorgrael kills Faraday and tears her body apart in a hopeless attempt to distract Axis]]. Then the second half begins with [[spoiler:Axis retired and the kingdom in the hands of his eldest son Caelum]]. The first volume strongly pushes Caelum as the main protagonist, [[spoiler:only for him to be rather unceremoniously cut down by Qeteb, turning over the reins of the series to his disgraced younger brother, [=DragonStar=].]] Oh, and [[spoiler:Faraday returns from the dead to become ''Drago's'' love-interest.]]
* Margo Smith is the hero of the first ''Literature/TimeScout'' book. Skeeter Jackson steps in for the second and carries much of the rest of the series.
* Eponymous character of NarrativePoem ''Pan Tadeusz'' (''SirThaddeus'') by Adam Mickiewicz, Tadeusz Soplica is set up to make readers belive he is the main character, but as the story progress it becomes more and more apparent that real protagonist is Preist Robak [[ForegoneConclusion also known as]] [[spoiler: infamous Jacek Soplica]].
* Shadow is technically the main character of ''Literature/AmericanGods'', in that he is the viewpoint character, but his role in the story is largely the same as that of [[Literature/AliceInWonderland Alice]]; that is to say, he watches as the plot happens around him, occasionally pausing to say, "Gosh, that's unusual," but by and large he neither actively contributes to the plot unless deliberately roped into it by someone else nor does he react as though he seriously believes he's involved. It's really Mr. Wednesday's story at the end of the day (well, [[JediTruth there's a strong argument]] that it's actually Mr. Nancy's, but he's letting Mr. Wednesday borrow it).
* Similarly, while Aly is the view-point character of the Literature/TortallUniverse's ''Literature/DaughterOfTheLioness'', she's just one of [[TheChosenMany several chosen]] creating a rebellion to put the prophesied queen on the throne; the beautiful, passionate and caring Sarai. [[spoiler: At least, so it appears for the first 2/3rds of the story, until Sarai goes off and elopes to another country, leaving her little sister to become queen.]]
* There are ''two'' of these in the ''Literature/{{Mistborn}}'' series.
** In the first book, though the main viewpoint character is [[SupportingProtagonist Vin]], the story is about Kelsier and his rebellion. [[spoiler: Then he dies and Vin takes on the main protagonist role.]]
** A variation happens in ''Hero of Ages'' when [[spoiler: Vin sacrifices herself to destroy Ruin and it turns out that Sazed is TheChosenOne, though the core thrust of the narrative is still centered around Vin.]]
* The focus in ''Literature/{{Wraeththu}}'' shifts from Pellaz who [[RagsToRoyalty becomes a king]], to Swift who [[ComingOfAgeStory grows up to defy his father]], to Cal, a side character who turns out to be the key to everything.
* While he is not a point of view character until the third book and then only part of the time Valraven in ''Literature/ChroniclesOfMagravandias'' is the true protagonist of the story. The story shifts from [[BrotherSisterIncest his sister]] to his [[PlatonicLifePartners second wife]], to [[TheChosenOne a peasant boy]], but the focus of the story is always Valraven.
* JinYong loves this trope. A majority of his WuXia novels start around an apparent protagonist, only to reveal (sometimes several chapters later) that it is not. First comes to mind should be TheSmilingProudWanderer (笑傲江湖) when the audience should be fooled to view Lin Pingzhi as the protagonist [[spoiler: while it is actually Linghu Chong]].
* In ''Literature/TheWalkingDeadRiseOfTheGovernor'', [[spoiler: the two main characters are Philip and his ineffectual brother. Philip is the name of the Governor in the comics and it seems apparent that the novel is about him. Before it ends, however, Philip is killed and Brian takes on his name. Thus, the story was about him.]]
* The original novel version of ''TheUnholyThree'' has the titular, murderous three as the main characters until the fourth or fifth chapter; afterward, the focus switches to a young man named Hector who has the misfortune of crossing paths with the three. Averted in the movie adaptation (coincidentally Creator/LonChaney Sr's only sound picture), where the focus remains on the three even after Hector is introduced.
* Cynthia Voigt's third Kingdom novel, ''The Wings of the Falcon'', pulls this. Oriel is a dashing, brave, fantastically charismatic young man who is clearly the perfect candidate to win the heart of the princess and save the Kingdom. Until, of course, he [[spoiler: dies in a duel about 3/4 of the way through the book.]] His always-in-the-background best friend, Griff, gets a rather abrupt promotion to Hero after that.
* In the first ''Literature/EmpireOfTheAnts'' book, the Ants part of the story starts from the perspective of a young male named 327, and follows him as he forms a team with female 56 and asexual warrior 103683... he is killed in the middle of the book, and his two partners take over as the main characters. And again later, 56 becomes queen and is reduced to secondary character then killed, while 103683 serves as the main character for the remaining of the trilogy.
* Ensign Tom Davis in the opening chapter of ''Literature/{{Redshirts}}''
* ''Literature/LesMiserables'' opens with a book detailing Bishop Myriel's life and philosophy, firmly establishing his character. Then in the second book comes bursting through his door a certain parolee named Jean Valjean...
* In ''[[HumanxCommonwealth Quofum]]'', Ersa Trellenberg is the initial viewpoint-character, and seems to have all the elements -- unique appearance and backstory, adventurous but responsible, UST with the expedition's only female crew member -- expected in a heroic protagonist. [[spoiler: Then he catches a lethal sonic blast to the forehead.]]
* ''Fade to Blue'' by Sean Beaudoin appears to have two protagonists, Kenny Fade and Sophie Blue. But later in the book, it's revealed that [[spoiler: Kenny doesn't exist. He's a virtual life that Sophie has been living.]]
* ''Literature/{{Reckless}}'' briefly appears this way, [[spoiler: but it's ultimately subverted.]]
* The third book in TheInheritanceTrilogy, ''The Kingdom of Gods'', plays with this; Shahar Arameri would appear to be the main character alongside the godling Sieh - she dominates the description on the jacket copy, at any rate - but she actually gets shunted aside about 260 pages in to make way for her twin brother, Dekarta. (However, the author ''did'' state that she wanted to emphasize the plot, and thus the movers and shakers of the plot, rather than the romance angle...)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Buffy|the Vampire Slayer}}'''s "The Wish", in which case poor Cordelia gets killed halfway through and the story moves on without her.
* Jack from ''Series/{{Lost}}'' was originally meant to be one of these, played for the single episode by a big-name actor- Michael Keaton being a top choice- to reinforce the audience's assumption that he was the main character. [[ExecutiveMeddling Executives]] decided that the audience would feel betrayed and tune out if he was promptly killed. Thus, Jack was made the actual leader of the group and a regular, thus necessitating a cheaper actor.
* ''Series/{{Lexx}}'':
** An early episode begins with a man drifting through space in a small shuttle, playing a radio message which details his backstory and the plight of his home planet "Gworim". Then the Lexx runs him right over, and nobody even notices due to his comparatively small size.
** In the very first episode Brian Bostwick play Thodin the leader of the rebellion. He would have been the obvious hero if it had been the type of story to have that sort of thing.
* Non-death example: ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' begins with a minister entering his office, greeting his staff, and getting ready for a meeting with Malcolm. Then, in the meeting, Malcolm suddenly forces him to resign. Quick cut, and the new minister (and the show's protagonist) appears. Basically, rather than AnyoneCanDie, this is Anyone Can Be Sacked.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'':
** Non-protagonist example: Kawalsky was only character from the film to return aside from Jack and Daniel, in addition to being made the head of SG-2. He gets more screentime in "Children of the Gods" than [[TheBigGuy Teal'c]] (who went on to be in the most episodes of any cast member) and was played up as being a regular character in the show. Unfortunately, he gets taken over by a Goa'uld at the [[FirstEpisodeSpoiler end of the pilot]] and [[WeHardlyKnewYe dies in the second episode]].
** [[DeadStarWalking Colonel Sumner]] from ''Series/StargateAtlantis''.
* ''Series/TheWire'' features an extended example: in the first season, D'Angelo Barksdale is the POV character for the criminal side of Baltimore, as [=McNulty=] is for the cop side. However, [[spoiler: he's killed off early in the second season]], while [=McNulty=] lasts through the entire show and other criminal figures step into the spotlight. This seems natural, [[spoiler: as Baltimore drug dealers tend to live short lives]].
* The pilot of ''{{CSI}}'' centred around [[NaiveNewcomer Holly Gribbs]], only to have her [[spoiler: get shot in the end and die in the next episode.]]
* As mentioned in the Literature example above, [[spoiler: Eddard Stark]] in ''Series/GameOfThrones''. Oh boy, never has ContractualImmortality been averted. Then again, it is ''[[spoiler:[[ChronicallyKilledActor Sean Bean]]]]'' we're talking about...
* Played with in the "Up Your Pavement" sketch of ''MontyPythonsFlyingCircus''. It starts as the [[ShowWithinAShow intro to a television show]] about a pair of happy-go-lucky homeless people, who are abruptly run over by a Film/JamesBond-type international crimefighter and spy. The sketch then quickly features a renowned surgeon, a [[BritsWithBattleships Royal Navy Admiral]], his daughter, a [[BreadEggsMilkSquick flasher]], and the chairman of Fiat Motors, then goes through about a dozen random, tenuously-related people before finally setting on a legendary RAF fighter ace of WorldWarII...[[OverlyLongGag and the story of the men who flew with him]].
* Multiple layer example in the first episode of ''Series/SaulOfTheMolemen''. The opening credits feature the S.T.A.R. Team, who promptly die seconds later in a meteor shower. Following are the replacement credits for Johnny Tambourine... who is a complete moron. Then the opening credits for The Molemen (as a funny sitcom)... and finally the ''real'' credits for Saul himself.
* Season 15 of ''Series/TheAmazingRace'' had Zev & Justin, who, when compared to similar editing of teams in previous seasons, appeared to be set up for a run late into the race, including a burgeoning rivalry with Maria & Tiffany, that is until they [[IdiotBall lost a passport]] in leg 4.
* Played with in the "giant blancmange" sketch during episode seven of ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'': Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Brainsample are introduced as if they were the focus of a sport-sketch but they're immediately abandoned for one about AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever. [[BrickJoke Then they show up at the end]]: turns out they were responsible for the destruction of the blancmange at Wimbledon.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': Ben Matheson in the [[Recap/RevolutionS1E1Pilot pilot]] from this new series. The show spends the first several minutes centered around him and you would think he would become the main character who ends up knowing how the blackout started and [[TheAtoner trying to atone for his sins]]. Instead, he gets shot before the first commercial break, and his daughter steps in as the real protagonist.
* New viewers watching ''Series/BlakesSeven'' might assume the thoroughly likeable Varon (Blake's lawyer) and Maja (Varon's wife) are going to be major characters, as they have a lot of screen time, and spend much of the episode attempting to help Blake. [[AnyoneCanDie New viewers would be wrong in this assumption.]]
* ''Series/TwentyFour'''s final season plays with this: [[spoiler: after [[FaceHeelTurn transitioning]] to VillainProtagonist,]] Jack still played a central role in the season's plot, but the show actually gave focus on Chloe while his screentime notably became more limited in the final episodes, making the real hero of the season her. [[spoiler: This even comes into play after Jack's HeelFaceTurn in the series finale, as he is wounded and spends most it offscreen being held captive while Chloe's efforts to expose the season's conspiracy and eventually save him are given the greater focus.]]
* ''Series/{{Oz}}'s'' Dino Ortolani, a young Italian mafioso who's introduced as the "sponsor" of series protagonist Tobias Beecher in the pilot episode. Roughly half of the pilot's plot is devoted to him, heavily hinting at a character arc involving his struggle with his own violent nature and his relationship with his family on the outside. But then he's abruptly [[spoiler: burned alive by his enemies]] at the end of the episode, hammering home the fact that AnyoneCanDie in Oswald Penitentiary.
* Fans of the Chris Gethard Show were told Random Messenger Bag would undertake a Hero's Journey, defending Chris from a full hour of attacks, to the point where Chris actually referred to him as the Mr. Baggins to his Sam Gamgee. In fact, Messenger Bag betrayed Chris when given an opportunity for more screen time, leaving him to fend for himself while handcuffed to a chair. Messenger Bag was in fact on a villain's journey, Chris is the true hero.
* Byung Hee in ''Series/ShutUpFlowerBoyBand'', who was killed at the end of the second episode. He was played by a well-known actor, had a LoveInterest, got the most screentime, and was the lead singer of the band. The focus shifts to guitarist [[TheLancer Ji Hyuk]].
* [[IntrepidReporter Zoe Barnes]] is the {{deuteragonist}} of the first season of ''Series/HouseOfCards'', with the first season focusing almost as much on her journalistic career as it does on Frank Underwood's rise to power. When Underwood becomes Vice President of the United States at the end of Season 1, and Zoe finally begins to piece together the clues about his involvement in [[spoiler: Peter Russo's death]], one could assume that the next season would feature her as the HeroAntagonist to Underwood's VillainProtagonist. [[spoiler: Nope. Underwood throws her in front of a subway train in the first episode of Season 2.]]
** It's then [[DoubleSubversion Double Subverted]] when Zoe's love interest Lucas Goodwin becomes an AscendedExtra in Season 2, and seems poised to replace Zoe as the HeroAntagonist as he gets involved with underground hackers and sets out to expose Underwood's corruption. [[spoiler: Also nope. He doesn't even make it halfway through the season before he's sent to prison for cyberterrorism after his hacker ally betrays him to the FBI]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9qYF9DZPdw music video]] for Music/WeirdAlYankovic's "White and Nerdy" (parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'") started out with two black gangsters riding a car (in reference to the music video of "Ridin'") before they meet a nerd mowing his lawn. From there, the focus was on the nerd.
* The [[http://vimeo.com/31394060 promotional video]] for Orange Range's "O2" (the first opening of the second season of CodeGeass), is also this, with a hint of {{Deconstruction}}. The story follows a {{Samurai}} in love with his lord's {{Geisha}} and having a secret relationship with her, with the band members guest starring as a RagtagBunchOfMisfits just going about their everyday lives. The samurai saves her the first time from a group of thugs through some quick thinking, but when actually forced to fight, he didn't possess the strength to save her. It fell onto the band to save them ala BigDamnHeroes and using a variety of skills from their careers (Hiroki's a thief with SuperSpeed, Yoh's a skilled ronin, ect.) The video ends with Orange Range as the heroes and implies that the geisha broke it off with the samurai afterward, since he wasn't her KnightInShiningArmor after all.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* ''Literature/TheBible'':
** ''Acts of the Apostles'' at first focused on the Apostles particularly Peter before switching to the exploits of Paul in chapter 26.
** There are two Books of Samuel, which feature the prophet [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure Samuel]]. He dies before the first one is over; the books are mainly about [[TheGoodKing King David]], whom Samuel appoints [[TheChosenOne on God's command]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
* The D&D adventure ''Vecna Lives!'' famously pulled this one. The players start in the roles of the Circle Of Eight, the most powerful archmages in the world-- guys who have spells in the rulebook named after them. But the very first encounter is a HopelessBossFight, all the archmages end up dead, and the players must switch to a less-powerful backup team and still save the day.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theater]]
* ''Theatre/TheBookOfMormon'' begins with charming, handsome Elder Price setting off to change the world with Elder Cunningham as his PluckyComicRelief sidekick. By the end of Act 1 Price has abandoned his mission and Cunningham decides to step up and lead the people. Price still remains a main character, but the action is more focused on Cunningham's actions from then on.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Toys]]
* Jaller was one of these twice in {{Bionicle}}- once for Takua/Takanuva (in-universe more than to the audience, since everyone else thought that he was TheChosenOne aside from himself and Takua), and the other for Matoro. The first time, he got killed (but got better), and the second time was something of a subversion as [[spoiler: Matoro performed a HeroicSacrifice, causing the real hero to die instead of the decoy.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* William Carter in ''VideoGame/TheBureauXCOMDeclassified''. The real protagonist is [[spoiler: an ethereal you are directly playing as, who is controlling Carter]]
* Haytham Kenway of ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'', is playable through the first three memories. The kicker is that [[spoiler: He turns out to be a Templar, and becomes an antagonist for his son Connor]].
* In ''LANoire'' [[spoiler:for the last three missions, control is switched over to his fellow marine Jack Kelso, who investigates the Suburbian Redevelopment Group as Cole is stonewalled by the corrupt police department. Cole is later killed in the final mission, and a flashback of Kelso ends the story.]]
** [[spoiler:One of the rare occurances where the decoy protagonist is playable most of the game. However, the story is really how Cole's drive as a marine and a detective spurred Kelso to do the right thing and that Jack had a lot to learn from his rival, who was neither his friend nor his enemy.]]
* [[UnwittingPawn Harry Mason]] seems to be the protagonist of ''SilentHill1'' at first, but as the game goes on it becomes clear that the main focus is on Alessa Gillespie. Harry actually has very little importance to the plot, until he [[spoiler:kills Alessa. In two of the endings, at least]].
** ''SilentHill4'' has ''two'' examples of this. You start the game playing as Joseph Schreiber, gone mad from The Room's influence. After the prologue, you start playing as Henry Townshend... who ''still'' turns out not to be the protagonist, as most of the game focuses on Walter Sullivan.
** Happens again in ''VideoGame/SilentHillOrigins''. Travis crashes his car at the edge of the titular town and stumbles right into the tangle of events surrounding what happened to Alessa (though of course he does have to deal with his own problems as well).
** And again [[MindScrew more famously]] in ''SilentHillShatteredMemories''. The game switches back and forth between a [[HeroicMime first-person therapy session]] set in the present and third-person gameplay starring Harry Mason, making it look like Harry's reminiscing of Silent Hill while under therapy. [[TwistEnding The end]] reveals that [[spoiler:the patient was Cheryl, Harry's daughter, and that the third-person PC was but a figment of Cheryl's imagination, distraught over her father's death many years ago. The therapy sessions weren't meant to cure Harry's trauma, but Cheryl's denial over Harry's death]].
* In {{WWE}} 12, when the player first starts the "Road To {{WrestleMania}}" mode, the first person they plays as is JohnCena, they make it ''look'' like you're gonna have to wrestle TheUndertaker, so Cena comes out... only to get Brouge Kicked by {{Sheamus}}.
* In ''Everlong'', the main character Brad was... well, the main character, until he suddenly [[spoiler:vanishes as the evil spirits within him took over him, causing him to because BrainwashedAndCrazy, take a FaceHeelTurn and end up being killed by the BigDamnHeroes.]] Ohnoes.
* Infamously in ''MetalGearSolid2'', the game starts you off with the series' main hero, Solid Snake investigating a new Metal Gear. After this intro mission, you skip several years into the future and control Raiden, eventually meeting Snake again as he becomes the {{Cynical Mentor}} and the {{Double Agent}} by pretending to be one of the military.
** And PlayedForLaughs in ''MetalGearSolid3''
* To some, it isn't immediately apparent that you're playing as Chaz in ''PhantasyStarIV'', rather than Alys.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII''. Roxas. Provided the cover art isn't a giveaway, anyway.
** Likewise in ''BirthBySleep'', Ven resembles Sora and Roxas in several ways, but [[spoiler: the plot actually revolves more around Terra, and Aqua does the more traditional heroic deeds.]]
** In ''KingdomHearts3D'', for the most part Sora and Riku share heroic deeds pretty evenly. Then in the last world, [[spoiler:Sora is almost corrupted by Xehanort and falls into a coma. In the end, Riku comes to the rescue by facing off against Young Xehanort, then freeing Sora's heart from the darkness by destroying the Armored Ventus Nightmare in a BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind.]]
* In ''Franchise/StarWars: VideoGame/RogueSquadron 2'', you start out playing as Luke Skywalker for two and a half missions, but when Luke's Snowspeeder gets shot down in the Battle of Hoth he gets replaced by Wedge Antilles, on Hoth and in subsequent missions. As we know, this is because while Luke survived, he didn't regroup with the others, so it was up to Wedge to lead Rogue Squadron.
* Locke of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', while Terra gets the main focus of the story in the World of Balance, its Locke that is in the traditional protagonist role. He is locked into the party for most of the game's first half and plays a role in both Terra's and Celes's stories. However, Celes becomes the protagonist in the World of Ruin and while Terra gets forced into the ending if you don't recruit her, Locke can miss the ending entirely. He is one of the last and hardest to find party members you re-recruit and his role is diminished quite a bit in the second half. While Kitase said that there is no main characters, it's Terra and Celes that come the closest to it.
** This could be said a bit about Terra herself, as almost the entire story of the World of Balance revolves around her, even if you're not playing her. When the World of Ruin comes, she has very little role as well- not much more than Locke.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' has Tidus say in the beginning "''[[ArcWords Listen to my story]]''". You then spend most of the game hearing about Yuna and her pilgrimage, Yuna and her Aeons, Yuna's duty and her goal .. [[spoiler: until you reach Zanarkand. This is when Tidus really ''screws the rules'' and became more the leader]]. Not insignificantly, Yuna eventually says "This is ''our'' story."
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', Reks, a level 3 soldier and the brother of the protagonist, is this as you briefly control him through the castle, and fight empire enemies in attempt to save the king during the prologue.
** This seems to run in his family - while the player spends the rest of the game controlling Reks' younger brother, Vaan, it quickly becomes clear that Vaan is not the protagonist. Despite filling a typical JRPG young plucky hero trope, the story is clearly centered around Ashe, Basche, and Balthier (the latter of whom frequently proclaims himself the leading man.) Vaan even comes to this conclusion for himself eventually. Vaan serves as the player's viewpoint into the other major characters, since he's largely an outsider to the nature of the political and social state Ivalice - something the other characters use for insight into their own problems. [[spoiler: The game ends with Vaan eventually setting out on an adventure in his own right. The sequel, ''Revenant Wings'', finally let him have the role of protagonist in earnest.]]
* This is pulled with ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'''s Isaac, despite the fact he doesn't die. You begin the first game controlling him as a silent protagonist, only for the second game to shift POV to Felix, revealing that ''his'' quest was the one saving the world, making Isaac a Decoy Protagonist who is ''actually an antagonist'' (unwittingly). [[spoiler: Then, at Jupiter Lighthouse, the whole situation is explained to Isaac, and [[BigDamnHeroes he joins forces with Felix for the finale]].]]
* [[spoiler:Joseph Allen]] in ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare 2'', who is killed off in his [[spoiler:second playable mission]] after leaping the MoralEventHorizon. Also implied with Gary 'Roach' Sanderson, whose role as a playable character seems to be to show off how BadAss 'Soap' [=MacTavish=] has become. [[spoiler: Confirmed when Roach [[DroppedABridgeOnHim had a metaphorical bridge dropped on him]] so the rest of the game could be told from Soap's perspective.]]
** The first ''Modern Warfare'' game has [[spoiler:Sgt. Paul Jackson]], who seems like he's going to be a second protagonist for the entire game until [[spoiler:he's killed by a nuke]]. After this, the story focuses entirely on Soap's squad.
** Practically exaggerated in ''Modern Warfare 3''; the game has ''three'' decoy protagonists. The first is Derek 'Frost' Westbrook, who's the decoy ''decoy'' protagonist. His missions aren't of any critical importance to the A plot, [[spoiler: but he doesn't die along with the rest of his squad by the end of the game]]. The real decoy protagonist is [[spoiler: Yuri, who used to be Makarov's partner until his HeelFaceTurn. ([[RedemptionEqualsDeath Guess what happens in the end?]])]] And then there's [[spoiler: Soap, who was the original protagonist in the first two game's after the decoy protagonists were killed. But in this game, he dies ''before you even have the chance to play as him''.]] So who's the ''real'' protagonist in the series? [[spoiler: Captain Price. You only get to play as him ''twice''.]]
* Done twice in ''VideoGame/BatenKaitos'', first when it's revealed that Kalas is TheDragon, and Xelha takes over, and then second when Kalas experiences a HeelFaceTurn and rejoins your party.
* The Prelude to ''VideoGame/TheGodfather'' game starts with you playing Johnny Trapani, but he gets gunned down within minutes. The real player character is his son after a TimeSkip.
* ''VideoGame/TotalOverdose'' pulls this twice. The first level is an older man... who is neutralized mysteriously. Then it's his son, who gets laid up in the hospital. Then it's the twin brother who takes up the guns and starts shooting everything.
* In ''HybridHeaven'', you begin the game as Diaz. Except you are not Diaz, you're just in his body and get yours back about an eighth of the way through the game. Diaz is, in fact, a major villain.
* ''YggdraUnion'' starts out with a [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses princess]] [[PursuedProtagonist running for dear life from an enemy army]], accidentally costing the leader of a band of thieves his fortress, and begging him to help her take her country back. Although you start out playing as thief Milanor and this looks like your classic [[Franchise/StarWars Luke-and-Leia setup]], Princess Yggdra becomes the player character very shortly after. Milanor himself remains a completely static character until the penultimate chapter, and is shunted into the role of mentor and sidekick. (The player does take control of him during certain points of the story where Yggdra isn't where the action is, however.)
** Milanor's presence in the story at all, compared to his relative unimportance to the plot, is probably due to the need for a surrogate for male players--who might be uncomfortable at the idea of playing a game from the perspective of a (''very'' feminine) girl.
* Taken to a ridiculous extent in ''{{Kuon}}''. For nearly the entire game, you have two phases--yin and yang--to choose from, each starring a different girl. By the time you've completed them both, one protagonist is [[spoiler:a zombie]] and the other one is [[spoiler:almost dead]]. The true hero of the game is [[spoiler:Abe no Seimei, an exorcist who is only been mentioned in passing up to the point you start playing her phase.]]
* The opening cutscene of ''CompanyOfHeroes'' shows a group of American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach. They bravely charge the beach only to get mowed down to the last man. Then a second landing craft comes in, and it's these guys who turn out to be the protagonists.
* ''FatalFrame'' [[spoiler: 1 and 4 do this. Mafuyu is a playable character in the intro chapter of the first game, then spends the rest of the game wandering around Himuro mansion while his younger sister Miku takes over as the main character. Likewise, Madoka is the first playable character of the fourth game, but she is killed at the end of the prologue chapter and goes on to become one of the hostile spirits who the other protagonists (Ruka, Misaki, and Choushiro) have to fight at some point.]]
* ''SteambotChronicles'' does a variant of this trope. In the optional tutorial stage, you play as [[spoiler:Mallow, the hero's childhood friend.]]
* The Fourth installment of ''Franchise/FireEmblem'': ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemJugdral Genealogy of the Holy War]]'' takes this up to 11. [[spoiler:Sigurd is a decoy for his son, Seliph. Moreover, the most of Sigurd's ''army'' dies with him, making your entire army a decoy. The BigBad pulls a huge win making the chapter a [[HopelessBossFight hopeless level]].]]
** It does it during the tenth game, ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Radiant Dawn]]'' as well. A direct sequel to the ninth game taking place in the post-Path of Radiance world. It seems that Micaiah is the main character of this game. Then [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent part 2]] rolls around, with Queen Elincia and her gang. Then [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent part 3]] Ike shows up and kicks ass, as usual. THEN you get his story, which leads into a plot about [[spoiler: killing a goddess.]] Guess who gets shifted pretty much ''OutOfFocus'' for the rest of the game? [[spoiler: No points for guessing Micaiah.]] That's right. The main character isn't even mentioned [[AllThereInTheManual IN THE GAME MANUAL.]]
* At first glance, ''VideoGame/SonicBattle'' is about Sonic and his friends messing around with Emerl, a cool robot that mimics their combat abilities. As the cast rotates babysitting Emerl and he starts developing an emergent personality, it gradually becomes apparent that Emerl is really the protagonist. The majority of Cream's and Shadow's chapters near the end of the game are played as Emerl, and the final chapter is his solo attempt to stop Eggman's plot.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger,'' depending on how the game is played. [[spoiler:The main character, Crono, dies halfway through the game. The player has the choice of either going back in time and preventing his death or continuing the game without him.]]
* ''VideoGame/AgarestSenki'' has Leonhardt himself. He is the protagonist of the first generation, but when you finish his chapter, he gets to be sealed in a pillar with the three [[LoveInterest Love Interests]]. Then his son Ladius gets to be the protagonist of his chapter but also gets sealed after his chapter is done with his three [[LoveInterest Love Interests]]. Same thing happens to Thoma and Duran in the third and fourth generation. Duran's son Rex then becomes THE TRUE protagonist for the rest of the game itself.
* In ''VideoGame/DeadSpaceExtraction'', you first play as a mining employee, who first notices the necromorphs showing up. At the end of the first level, he's killed and his mantle of PC is taken up by the leader of the expedition that killed him.
** Similarly in ''Dead Space 3'' you start off playing as a new character named Private Kaufman. After the breathtaking opening, Kaufman is murdered and the game shifts to another time and location where the real main character, Isaac Clark, is introduced.
* Done brutally in ''HaloReach'' where SPARTAN B-312, AKA Noble Six has the same combat rating as the Master Chief and, like John, is also [[spoiler: chosen by Cortana to be her carrier. Unfortunately, Six dies on Reach.]]
* ''Videogame/{{Persona 2}}'' starts out with five protagonists: Tatsuya, Michel, Ginko, Maya, and Yukki. However, [[spoiler: Yukki ends up being a decoy protagonist for Jun, a.k.a. Joker, who joins your party near the end of the game.]]
* The prologue of ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'' introduces Dunban, a legendary hero who is the only one who can wield [[SwordOfPlotAdvancement the legendary Monado]]. Then there's a TimeSkip, and he's retired after losing the use of his right arm. We then meet Shulk, the game's actual protagonist. Unlike most examples of this trope, not only does he not die, but later into the story [[TookALevelInBadass takes further levels in badass]] and becomes a powerful party member in his own right, using a katana [[HandicappedBadass with only his]] ''[[HandicappedBadass left arm]]'' [[HandicappedBadass to fight]].
* ''FateExtra'' has one of the most [[TearJerker tragic]] uses of this in recent videogame history. [[spoiler:You spend the prologue playing as an average high school student who quickly gets swept up in the Holy Grail War. Depending on how many optional scenes you unlock, he manages to discover several secrets that are crucial to the future plot. Then, when the time comes for his trial in the prelims, he fails ''miserably''. As in, he isn't even able to get a ''single attack'' before the enemy Servant effortlessly cuts him down. The prologue ends with the dying student tearfully begging that someone, ''anyone'' will remember his name and who he was. The most tragic part is, thanks to how Eliminations in the War [[RetGone work]], ''no one ever will''.]]
** Not even the player. [[spoiler: His name is never revealed, so not even the player can remember him, so he dies as alone as any video game character can ever be: cut off even from the player. Massive PlayerPunch when you realise this.]]
* In ''{{killer7}}'', the titular group are seven split personalities all within a crippled man in a wheelchair named Harman, who is the protagonist. [[spoiler: Then the ending comes, which reveals that the leader of the seven personalities and the only one who is shown normally exist seperately of Harman, Garcian, is actually the one with the split personalities under his control, and Garcian ''himself'' is the split personality of the ruthless assassin Emir Parkreiner, and he killed Harman and the recessive six personalities, gaining Harman's power of invoking those personalities and carrying the weapons of the rececssive six in his briefcase.]] Their counterparts created by the US military work similarly. [[spoiler: Handsome Red, the supposed leader of the Handsome Men, fights Harman, the supposed leader of the killer7. The last of the Handsome Men-killer7 duels is between Handsome Pink, the real leader of the Handsome Men, and Garcian, which foreshadows Garcian being the true protagonist.]]
* ''VideoGame/HotlineMiami'' features a hitman ([[FanNickname "Jacket"]]) as its protagonist for the majority of missions, but it's [[spoiler:[[FanNickname Biker]], the boss at the phone station who solves the mystery behind the answerphone messages]]. Given that Richard is an UnreliableNarrator, one assumes that [[spoiler: Biker survived their encounter, and went on to kill the villains]].
* VideoGame/{{Mother 3}} starts with a brief prologue where you play as Lucas, and also control Claus for the first battle of the game. [[spoiler: (After the first main chapter, Claus is never seen again until the end of the game, except for as the Masked Man.)]] The first main chapter has you play as Flint as he looks for his wife and kids, and then for Claus a second time. [[spoiler: (Again, Flint is never seen again until shortly before the game ends.)]] Chapter 2 focuses mainly on Duster, who actually is one of the core protagonists, but not the main one of those four. Chapter 3 is about Salsa, who afterwards, is only seen again at Chimera Laboratories. From chapter 4 onward, after the three-year skip, you play as Lucas, the boy you started the game as.
* ''[[VideoGame/NintendoWars Advance Wars: Days of Ruin]]'' features Brenner as the protagonist until his [[spoiler:HeroicSacrifice]], after which Will is the protagonist.
* ''VideoGame/{{Crysis}}'': Nomad? Alcatraz? Nope. It was Prophet's story all along.
* ''VideoGame/{{Yesterday}}'' starts you playing as a young, idealistic man named Henry White, the heir to a multi-million dollar fortune who wants to use his money to help the homeless. He gets captured by a crazy but named Choke who talks to mannequins and wants to subject Henry to a witch trial (either he dies like a good person or survives like an evil and is shot), only to be saved by his friend, who kills Choke. Then, it's revealed that [[spoiler:Henry is a serial killer who tortures hobos for fun, while Choke is an immortal who keeps coming back to life as a young man with no memories]].
* Reimu, Byakuren, and Toyosatomimi no Miko from ''{{Touhou}}: Hopeless Masquerade'' are this. The game's premise sets up the three as the main protagonists, trying to gain the faith of the Human Village for their own religions, but in actuality [[spoiler: the incident turns out to be the cause of [[FinalBoss Hata no Kokoro]] who's on a quest to find her lost Mask of Hope, which her interactions with the other characters help her develop as a Youkai]].
* ''Clive Barker's Jericho'' starts off with Devin Ross as the only controllable character, who dies within less than an hour of playing the game and then commands his team from beyond.
* In the ''Videogame/XCOMEnemyUnknown'' tutorial Delta squad members all have names and talk to each other and command but 3 of them die before the mission ends.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'' has [[spoiler: Junpei. Notably, he's still the main character, but just before the final puzzle it is revealed that you have been playing as Akane, not him, for the entire game.]]
* Taken UpToEleven in ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry''. After Keiichi has been the main character for three arcs, his spotlight is taken away for the rest of the series, with three arcs devoted to Akasaka, Shion, and Rena. Then the first episode of ''Kai'' focuses on Akasaka and Ooishi. Then we get an arc centered around Satoko. The eventual main character? [[spoiler:Rika Furude]], a [[TrueCompanions True Companion]] who had received the least attention prior to the reveal. Keiichi still plays a critical role, though, as a source of inspiration and courage.
* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', [[spoiler:Bernkastel]] actually attempts to [[spoiler:[[HijackedByGanon hijack the whole setup]] through her game piece, [[ReplacementScrappy Erika]]]], effectively weaponizing this concept.
* ''FateStayNight'' opens with Rin Tohsaka's narration as she attempts to summon her Servant in preparation for the Grail War. Perhaps if she'd received the Saber she hoped for, she may have continued the protagonist. [[spoiler: Instead, she got an older version of the protagonist.]]
* Sayaka Maizono from ''VideoGame/DanganRonpa'' is played up throughout Chapter 1 as the main female protagonist, becoming Naegi's sidekick and potential main love interest. [[spoiler: It turns out at some point she started manipulating Naegi to become the fall guy for when she killed somebody, but when she actually tries it, it backfires horribly and she ends up as the first victim.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Shin-Wu from {{Noblesse}} plays a red herring until the supporting protagonist Raizel shows up. While Shin-Wu is still prominent in the Noblesse S lite novel, he has been relegated to the background of the comic as comic relief & as a {{DistressedDude}}
* In ''Webcomic/TheMitadakeSaga'', we're initially led to believe that [[spoiler:Zaraki Yagami is the protagonist. He's the first character we focus on and the first chapter is about him getting a weapon to defend himself with. Then, just as he's done so, he suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, showing the real protagonist, Zero Nanaya]], the true weight of the situation.
* Invoked in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' [[http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=971019 here]]
-->''"What is this? A sci-fi thriller or a goofy buddy movie?"''
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sonichu}}'', it seems like Sonichu would be the main character, but the attention quickly shifts to the creator Chris Chan himself. Almost every adventure Sonichu and his friends go on is something that happened in Chris's life. The comic is basically a big metaphor for how Chris wishes he could go back and do things differently.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Blog/JustAnotherFool'', there is Logan. After a while, he goes missing and his friend Josh takes over the blog. [[spoiler: [[NotQuiteDead Then Logan returns...]] but now, he's gone just a little [[DrivenToVillainy unhinged.]]]]
* [[http://youtu.be/POZ4CcJILWw The sequel]] too [[http://youtu.be/4txVqr1eNwc ''Cool Guy Has Chill Day'']] begins with new character Mr. Funk doing similar things to Cool Guy in the original, and plays a sweet saxophone solo... [[spoiler: then Cool Guy shows up and [[MoodWhiplash kills him]] about halfway through the video, proceeding to bury his body to his {{Leitmotif}}.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/AeonFlux'' short "War" is built around this trope. It begins by following Aeon Flux, who is quickly shot to death. The story then follows a quick succession of new "protagonists," each displaying typical lead character traits before getting unceremoniously killed.
* Played in a similar manner for Rufus in ''TheDreamstone'' with the pilot episodes establishing his role as assistant to the [[BigGood Dream Maker]] and having TookALevelInBadass to stop Zordrak. While some early episodes still play with this idea, the spotlight slowly drifts towards [[VillainProtagonist the Urpneys]] and Rufus' competence and pathos dwindle in favor of making him a HeroAntagonist no more significant than the other residents of the Land Of Dreams.
* ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'':
** Subverted in the episode ''Aisle 8A''. Bobby is the main character for the first act, then the focus shifts to Hank for the second act, and finally back to Bobby in the third act.
** ''Hank and the Great Glass Elevator'' starts with Hank dealing with the guy's antics in a trip to Austin for Bill's birthday, then it's set up for the episode to focus on him when he moons Ann Richards (ItMakesSenseInContext). After this, Bill take the blame and the rest of the episode focuses on him.
* MickeyMouse in ''PlutosJudgementDay''. Despite the short claiming that Mickey is the main character, it's actually [[PlutothePup his dog Pluto]] that is the main focus of this short. Mickey actually punishes Pluto for chasing a cat around his house, and as a result the dog starts to have a nightmare about him going to Hell.
** In fact, Mickey ends up being this in a lot of his shorts due to the [[DonaldDuck supporting]] [[{{Goofy}} characters]] being more popular and having personalities that work better for comedy.
*** An extreme example of this is the cartoon ''Donald and Pluto''. According to the opening titles, it's a Mickey Mouse cartoon, yet he is nowhere to be seen! (It can be assumed that it takes place in his house, but that's pure conjecture.)
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Reboot}}'' could be subversion, with [[TheHero Bob]] went MIA during the ''Web World Wars'' and focused on [[BrattyHalfPint Enzo]] [[IGotBigger growing up]] [[PlotRelevantAgeUp with]] [[ActionGirl AndrAIa]]. Until Bob returns and [[FusionDance forms with Glitch.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' does this regularly. Often the episode starts out with a plot that seems to be going one direction, but then a side detail creates a new plot that may focus on different characters. For instance:
** The episode "A Milhouse Divided" starts out centered on Milhouse's parents' divorce, but when Homer and Marge begin to have similar marital troubles, the narrative changes to revolve around them instead.
** In "Blood Feud," when Mr. Burns is dying, only Bart has a matching blood type to transfuse to save him. Later, Bart is sent only a thank you note and Homer steals the rest of the episode when he objects to Mr. Burns' minimal reward and sends an insulting letter to his boss. From then on, Bart becomes nothing more than his dad's sidekick, and doesn't do anything significant except for a prank call to Moe's Tavern.
* ''WesternAnimation/TitanMaximum'' did this with the promos, where both [[TheBigGuy Spud]] and [[TheLancer Gibbs]] were shown as part of the cast. But in the first episode, Spud was KilledOffForReal and Gibbs had a FaceHeelTurn. Their team roles on the actual show were taken by TheHero's younger brother and the monkey.
* [[http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_WYfblufc8eM/TNXA8DOLYVI/AAAAAAAAAaU/tJoOJMj-Ahc/s1600/Transformers_Prime_Poster__scaled_800.jpg Promotional artwork]] for ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' showed a team of six Autobots. One of them, Cliffjumper, was the star of the comic released before the show debuted, and was also announced to be voiced by fan-favourite DwayneJohnson. The first five minutes of the show follow Cliffjumper as he finds the Decepticons have arrived on Earth...and then he gets [[KilledOffForReal stabbed through the chest by Starscream]]. The other bots end up being a traditional FiveManBand.
* From episode 1, ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'' sets up [[TheChosenOne Omi]] as TheHero. For awhile, this is undoubtedly the case; his face is in the logo, he is [[TheAce the most skilled]], gets [[AdorablyPrecociousChild the most attention]], and gets the most opportunities to [[BigDamnHeroes save his teammates]]. As the series goes on, he still gets the most attention (including [[WeCanRuleTogether special training]] from Season 2's BigBad), plus the [[ArrogantKungFuGuy ego to show for it]] and the most NiceJobBreakingItHero moments, so that by the start of Season 3 he's the [[BadassInDistress one being saved]], and [[spoiler: [[TheAtoner Rai]][[TookALevelInBadass mundo]]]] is TheHero in all but name. [[CharacterDevelopment Subtly played]], but quite a few viewers saw the finale and [[spoiler: Raimundo being named team leader]] coming a season away.
** Interestingly, the sequel series, WesternAnimation/XiaolinChronicles, still seems to focus on Omi, with his face still being in the title. It is possible he becomes a SupportingProtagonist.
[[/folder]]