This is when a character who was computer-controlled (as an {{NPC}} or as a boss) in one installment of a series becomes a potential [[PlayerCharacter player-controlled character]] through the course of the game, or in sequels. They may be hidden unlockable characters, you might get the chance to recruit them, or they might be presented outright at the character select screen.

Typically they are more powerful than your average "normal" character, though of course they may end up a lot weaker than when they were boss characters (expect their HP to be divided by a factor of 10). This may be due to a RedemptionDemotion or for [[PVPBalanced PVP balancing]]. It's also possible that the game has played up a bad guy as such, only for him to become playable near the end of the game. There is no HeelFaceTurn involved; just the bad guy doing stuff on his own or just passively riding the plot along. (Unless there's a storyline twist, like AnotherSideAnotherStory or ADayInTheLimelight.)

Beating the game with/as one of these characters usually reveals a special type of end-game victory screen. A FightingGame series [[VideoGameLongRunner of sufficient length]] will almost always resort to this.

* Princess Zelda was playable in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks'' in certain dungeons and boss battles, being this the first game in the main series where the player gets to control the title princess directly.
** ''VideoGame/HyruleWarriors'' marks the first playable appearance of many other Legend of Zelda characters including [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Midna, Agatha and Zant]], [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Ghirahim and Fi]], and [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Darunia and Ruto]]. It is also the first playable appearance of Ganondorf and Sheik outside of ''Super Smash Bros.''
** It also should be noted that she is playable in [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaCDiGames THOSE]] games. (Well, two out of three, at least)
* Shiva was TheDragon to the final boss in ''VideoGame/StreetsOfRage 2'', notable for having a move set remarkably close to that of the playable characters. In the sequel to that game, he became selectable from a Continue after being defeated in an earlier level -- however, he lacked one of his special moves when playable, which was available to a later boss version of him.
* Vergil in ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 3: Special Edition''.
** Trish and Lady in ''Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition''.
* In ''VideoGame/FreedomPlanet'', Neera Li was [[GoddamnedBoss a particularly tough midboss]] that attracted some popularity thanks to her character design, detailed animation, and sporting moves that have the feel of a playable character. Come [[VideoGame/FreedomPlanet2 the sequel]], she's a fourth playable character with an extensive moveset.
* ''VideoGame/YakuzaDeadSouls'' has Goro Majima, perennial madman of the ''VideoGame/{{Yakuza}}'' series, and Ryuji Goda, TheRival from ''VideoGame/Yakuza2''.
** ''VideoGame/Yakuza5'' lets players control Haruka, the series' designated DamselInDistress, for the first time.
* The Tag Climax mode in ''VideoGame/Bayonetta2'' allows players to control [[TheBlacksmith Rodin]] and [[BigBad Balder]] (though the former had an earlier playable appearance in ''VideoGame/TheWonderful101'').
* In ''VideoGame/MadStalkerFullMetalForce'', Gongs and Kamui were a common enemy and the boss of the fifth stage, respectively. In the PC Engine CD [[UpdatedRerelease re-release]], it featured a much larger Story Mode where players can play as Richard Winston who pilots Kamui and Eve Lurdia who pilots a Gong.
* Any and all [=NPCs=], minor characters, major characters, main characters, villains and supporting characters in the {{LEGO}} movie games can and will be unlocked some way or another. Even the ones who have no weapons and can't do anything. You can play as ''anybody''. Newer games let you create your own character using parts from unlocked characters.
** Despite this, the first ''LEGO Star Wars'' did have a few characters who were restricted to appearing in cutscenes, including [[Film/ThePhantomMenace Boss Nass, Watto, Captain Tarpals]] [[Film/AttackOfTheClones Lama Su, and Dexter Jettster]]. The aforementioned characters would all become playable in ''LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga'', but several other characters would remain unplayable.
* Most ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' games after ''Symphony of the Night'' let you play as a boss/rival character after you finish the main game. Examples are Richter in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight'' (and Maria in the Sega Saturn version and a reworked version of Maria in the PSP version), Julius in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaAriaOfSorrow'', Julius again with Yoko and [[spoiler:Alucard]] in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaDawnOfSorrow'', [[spoiler:Stella and Loretta]] in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaPortraitOfRuin'' (though Richter and Maria are also unlockable), Joachim Armster in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLamentOfInnocence'' and Albus in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaOrderOfEcclesia''.
* WesternAnimation/OswaldTheLuckyRabbit spends ''VideoGame/EpicMickey'' driving the plot and having a CainAndAbel relationship with WesternAnimation/MickeyMouse. In ''Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two'', he's playable alongside Mickey.
* The Green Goblin is unlockable in the game of the first Spider-Man movie.
* Dengekiko and Famitsu started out as random [=NPCs=] but are both major and playable characters in ''VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptuniaUActionUnleashed''.
* ''VideoGame/TombRaiderAngelOfDarkness'' features Kurtis Trent, a character who initially appears to be a background {{NPC}}, then has a few lines of dialogue, and who then begins to influence the story more and more as the game progresses. He eventually becomes playable for three levels near the end of the game.
* Chloe Frazer was a major side character in the second and third installments of the ''VideoGame/{{Uncharted}}'' series, until she became that star of her own game with ''VideoGame/UnchartedTheLostLegacy''.

[[folder:Adventure Game]]
* Brian Westhouse is an NPC in ''VideoGame/TheLongestJourney'', an ends up being playable in the prologue of the sequel ''VideoGame/DreamfallTheLongestJourney''.
* Clementine becomes the playable protagonist of Season Two of ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead'' since [[spoiler:Lee eventually succumbs to the plague or is {{Mercy Kill}}ed by Clem at the ending of Season One]].
* Gabriel's assistant Grace from the first ''VideoGame/GabrielKnight'' game was enough of an EnsembleDarkhorse that she became the second playable character in the two sequels, receiving equal screen-time (and a bigger fan-base) than the title character by the end of the trilogy.
* Similar to the above example, Nico in the ''VideoGame/BrokenSword'' games was George's companion/love interest in the first game, and became the second playable character from the second game onward.
* Chloe, the {{Deuteragonist}} of ''VideoGame/LifeIsStrange'' becomes the player character in the prequel ''VideoGame/LifeIsStrangeBeforeTheStorm''.

[[folder:Driving Game]]
* Many characters from the ''VideoGame/MarioKart'' series games.
* Ditto for the characters in ''VideoGame/CrashTeamRacing'', of which most of its cast was formed by the bosses of all 3 previous games in the series.
* The same applies to ''[[Franchise/JakAndDaxter Jak X: Combat Racing]]'', instead it's your allies who become playable.
* Minion was the final boss in ''VideoGame/TwistedMetal'', in subsequent games he's usually featured as a mid-game boss and tends to be unlockable, [[LightningBruiser and generally is as strong when playable as he is when he's a boss]].
** ''Twisted Metal 2'' FinalBoss Dark Tooth became an unlockable car in ''Twisted Metal: Head-Oh''.
* Amy Rose and Dr. Eggman made their first playable appearances in ''VideoGame/SonicDrift'', years before they would become playable in the main series.

[[folder:Fan Games]]
* Petey Piranha, Ridley and Porky Minch were boss characters in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl''. They became playable in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBrosCrusade''.
** Waluigi, Shadow, Tingle, Saki and Little Mac were assist trophies in ''Brawl'' before being part of the roster in ''Crusade''.
* [[VideoGame/GoldenSun Isaac]] is an assist trophy in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl''. He becomes playable in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashFlash 2''.

* ''VideoGame/DiveKick'' allows ''VideoGame/SaintsRow'' fans to play as ''the'' Johnny Gat for the first time ever, as he's a guest character.
* ''VideoGame/SamuraiShodown'' added Amakusa to the playable roster in the third game.
* ''VideoGame/{{Darkstalkers}}'' made Pyron and Huitzil playable in the second game.
** Oboro Bishamon was a BonusBoss in Vampire Savior, but is made playable in Darkstalkers 3, the enhanced [=PlayStation=] port.
* Many ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear'' sequels include a playable Justice. Other bosses in the series were playable in their own games from their introduction.
** Baiken initially started as a secret boss in the original ''Guilty Gear''. Since ''[=GGX=]'', however, she appears as a playable character from the very beginning.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}}'' series, the first game had Kazuya as a main character and Heihachi as an unlockable boss. The second game had Kazuya as an unlockable boss and Heihachi as a main character. Then Heihachi recovered his unlockable boss status in the third and Kazuya became a main character again in the fourth, and that's without getting into Jin... yeah, the whole Mishima family is like this.
** Lee becomes a main character in ''Tekken 5''. After being an unlockable Law clone he was greatly improved in ''Tekken Tag'' and is a notable part of the story in Tekken 4.
*** As a matter of fact, ''all'' rival/sub-boss characters in the first ''Tekken'' arcade were unselectable, and thus were promoted for the game's PS port.
** Jinpachi Mishima went from unplayable boss in ''Tekken 5'' to playable in the [=PS3=] port of ''Dark Resurrection'' and ''Tekken Tag Tournament 2'' (albeit in human form).
** ''Tekken 6'' BonusBoss NANCY can be used in some missions in the home port's ''Scenario Campaign'' mode.
* The first game in the ''VideoGame/SoulSeries'', ''Soul Edge'', saw Sub-Boss Cervantes playable in its 2nd revision and FinalBoss [=SoulEdge=] in the PS port; ''Soulcalibur'' saw Inferno selectable in the Dreamcast port, only to later invert it in ''Soulcalibur II'' and ''Soulcalibur III: Arcade Edition''.
* Shang Tsung became playable (and young) from ''Franchise/MortalKombat'' to ''Mortal Kombat II'', where Shao Kahn replaced him as the FinalBoss.
** All bosses eventually became playable at some point: Goro in the GameBoy port of ''[=MK=]'', ''Trilogy'' (UsefulNotes/PlayStation only), home versions of ''[=MK4=]'' and [[UsefulNotes/NintendoGameCube GameCube]]'s ''Deception''; Kintaro in ''Trilogy'' ([=PlayStation=] only), Motaro and Shao Kahn in home ports of ''[=MK3=]''/''[=UMK3=]'', ''Trilogy'' and [=GameCube=]'s ''Deception'' (Kahn only). And all of them, plus Moloch, Onaga and Sareena (from ''Mythologies'') became playable in ''Armageddon''.
** Unplayable hidden characters as well: Reptile (''[=MK=]'') and Jade (''[=MK2=]'') were added to the main roster in ''[=MK2=]'' and ''[=UMK3=]'' respectively, whereas Smoke (''[=MK2=]'') and Noob Saibot (''[=MK2=]'' & ''3'') were first playable "hidden" characters in ''[=MK3=]'' (Smoke only) and ''[=UMK3=]'' before becoming regulars in ''Trilogy''.[[note]]though Noob still tends to jump back and forth between being a normal or hidden character[[/note]]
*** ''Armageddon'' had everyone. Literally every fighter over the course of the entire series was playable in that one ( except for Human Smoke, and Khameleon continued to be Nintendo exclusive).
** The developers deliberately [[InvertedTrope flipped this on its head]] for the 2011 game, however, by relegating Goro, Kintaro, and Shao Kahn back to non-playable territory.[[note]]Though you ''can'' play as Goro once, for a single match in the Challenge Tower[[/note]] They said they were trying to bring back the feeling of [[SNKBoss impossible, unplayable bosses]] from the arcade days.[[note]]No Motaro, though, because [[TheScrappy no one really liked him anyway]][[/note]]
** In a rather surprising semi-promotion, the Vita port of ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'' included an extra Challenge Tower where the player can play as Tremor, one of the bosses in the [[ObviousBeta not-quite finished]] ''VideoGame/MortalKombatSpecialForces''.
** Speaking of Tremor, he's been confirmed as the fourth kombatant in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX'''s Kombat Pack, alongside with fellow fan favorite Tanya and two iconic guests, [[Franchise/FridayThe13th Jason Voorhees]] and the Franchise/{{Predator}}.
* The four Shadaloo Grand Masters (Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and M. Bison) from ''VideoGame/StreetFighterII'' were exclusively computer-controlled in the original game, but were promoted to playable characters in ''Champion Edition'' and onward.
** The ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha'' sub-series received 4 of the CPU-only characters from the first ''VideoGame/StreetFighter'': Gen, Adon, Birdie and (much much later) Eagle.
** Akuma (aka Gouki) was originally the TrueFinalBoss in ''Super Street Fighter II Turbo'', playable only via a cheat code. He became a regular playable character in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha 2'', with an alternate "Shin Akuma" version as a secret boss (who was only playable in the [=PS1=] and Saturn ports).
** In a sort of cross-series example: ''VideoGame/FinalFight'' bosses Sodom and Rolento became playable in the ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha'' sub-series; Hugo (Andore) became playable in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII'' and Poison became playable in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterXTekken''. Though Poison and Hugo (together with [[CorruptCop Edi.E]], [[EnemySummoner Thrasher]] and [[EliteMook El Gado]]) were first playable in the Sega Saturn fighting game ''Final Fight Revenge''.
* The roster of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterV'' has veterans from old entries of the ''SF'' series and newcomers that made their debut in said game. However, while Season 2 DLC featured a veteran like Akuma, the 5 remaining characters from said Season were pre-existing [[NonPlayerCharacter [=NPCs=]]] that are now playable:
** Kolin AKA Helen (Gill's secretary) made minor appearances in the ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII'' series. She first appears in Dudley's ending in ''[=SFIII=]: New Generation'' and ''2nd Impact''[[note]]It's the same ending between both installments[[/note]] and stands alongside Gill prior to his boss fight in ''3rd Strike'', then walks off-screen. Before becoming playable, [[AscendedExtra she had a larger role]] in ''[=SFV=]'' during the Cinematic Story "A Shadow Falls".
** Ed first appeared as a nameless child in Rose's ending in the original version of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV'' and Balrog's ending in ''Super SFIV''. In the latter's ending, he came across as a failed replacement body for M. Bison that had no powers whatsoever, until the Shadaloo emblem faintly began to glow on one of his palms. And with that, [[AscendedExtra there were definitely plans for him in the future]]. Surely enough, he returns in ''[=SFV=]'', making more NPC appearances in several Story Mode campaigns before finally becoming playable.
** Abigail was seemingly a one-shot character that appeared as the 5th boss of the original ''VideoGame/FinalFight'' game. Between then and ''SFV'', he only reappeared in several ports of ''[=FF1=]'' and made a [[TheCameo background cameo]] in the Mad Gear Hideout stage of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterXTekken'' and ''Ultra [=SFIV=]''.
** It didn't take long for Menat to become playable, since she's the most recently created character on the list. Debuting in ''[=SFV=]'' during Ed's Story Mode campaign, she makes an appearance as the mysterious "Fortune Teller". This is more of an EarlyBirdCameo.
** Finally, we have Zeku, who debuted in Guy's ending in ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha Street Fighter Alpha 2]]''. Prior to ''[=SFV=]'', his video game appearances were limited only to the same scenario in subsequent ports of ''[=SFA2=]''. He also made a minor flashback cameo in the ''[[Comicbook/StreetFighter [=SF=]]]'' [[Comicbook/StreetFighter comic series by Udon]].
** In the case of Season 3, one of the new playable characters is Falke. She was briefly seen walking alongside Ed at the end of his Story Mode campaign.
* In ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable: The Battle of Aces'' allows you to use the [[FinalBoss Materials]] once you beat the storylines of the three characters each of them is based upon (e.g. Nanoha, Vita, and Zafira for Material-S). Needless to say, they are the most powerful characters in the game, [[spoiler:except [[GameBreaker Unison Reinforce]]]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyDissidia'' made many villains of the series, including the incredibly popular [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Sephiroth]], (though he had already been playable in ''VideoGame/{{Ehrgeiz}}'') into playable characters.
** ''Dissidia 012'' does it again, adding [[DimensionalTraveler Gilgamesh]] into the mix. Also notably--in the first ''Dissidia'' game, many fans wished that the {{Final|Boss}} SNKBoss Chaos was playable (he wasn't, not without hacks). But his new and altered form, Feral Chaos, is.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaJudgment'' has Dracula and Death as unlockable characters.
* There are several characters who had background cameos in ''VideoGame/InjusticeGodsAmongUs'' that were promoted to playable status in [[VideoGame/{{Injustice 2}} the sequel]]. These include Comicbook/{{Darkseid}}, Comicbook/DoctorFate, Comicbook/{{Deadshot}}, Scarecrow, Gorilla Grodd and Comicbook/TheAtom (though in this case it's the [[LegacyCharacter successor of the guy that had a cameo in the original]]).
* The ''VideoGame/CapcomVsWhatever'' series has a tendency to do this with most of its bosses:
** Comicbook/{{Magneto}} and Juggernaut started out as boss and sub-boss in ''VideoGame/XMenChildrenOfTheAtom'', to later become playable in ''VideoGame/MarvelSuperHeroes'' and subsequent games.
** In ''VideoGame/MarvelSuperHeroes'', Comicbook/{{Thanos}} and Comicbook/DoctorDoom became unlockable in the home ports, and then as standard playable characters in ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom2''.
** Comicbook/{{Apocalypse}} went from non-playable in ''VideoGame/XMenVsStreetFighter'' to secret character in the home ports of ''VideoGame/MarvelSuperHeroesVsStreetFighter'', alongside Cyber Akuma.
** Comicbook/{{Onslaught}} gained his own "Onslaught Mode" in the Dreamcast port of ''[[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcomClashOfSuperHeroes Marvel vs. Capcom]]''.
** Similarly to the above, Comicbook/{{Galactus}} got his own "Galactus Mode" in ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3'''s UpdatedRerelease, ''Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3''.
** In some way, this also applies to Jin Saotome in ''Marvel vs. Capcom'', since he was more a "story path" choice rather than a playable character in ''VideoGame/{{Cyberbots}}''.
** Comicbook/JeanGrey made cameo appearances in Comicbook/{{Cyclops}}' and Comicbook/{{Wolverine}}'s respective endings in ''X-Men: Children of the Atom'' before going on to appear as a playable character in ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3''.
** Comicbook/SheHulk and Comicbook/{{Nova}} appeared as petrified statues in Thanos' ''VideoGame/MarvelSuperHeroes'' stage, and would return to normal after his defeat. Both heroes later appeared as playable characters in ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3'' and ''Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3'', respectively.
** In a variation, [[Comicbook/TheMightyThor Thor]] and [[VideoGame/GhostsNGoblins Arthur]] started off as {{Assist Character}}s in ''Marvel vs. Capcom'' before returning as fully playable fighters in ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3''.
** Comicbook/DoctorStrange made a cameo appearance in Hsien-Ko's ending in ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3'', before returning as a playable fighter in ''Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3''.
** Likewise, Comicbook/IronFist showed up in Ryu's ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3'' ending before joining the cast of ''Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3''.
** [[VideoGame/AceAttorney Phoenix Wright]] made a cameo appearance in She-Hulk's ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3'' ending before becoming playable in ''Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3''.
** Comicbook/BlackPanther appeared in Comicbook/{{Storm}}'s ending in ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3'', before becoming a playable DLC character in ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcomInfinite''.
** Likewise, Comicbook/{{Ultron}}, [[Comicbook/MsMarvel Carol Danvers]], Comicbook/BlackWidow and the [[Comicbook/BuckyBarnes Winter Soldier]] all appeared on cards in ''Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3'''s "Heroes and Heralds Mode," before being made playable in ''Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite'' (as part of the base roster in Ultron and Carol's cases, and as DLC for the rest).
** [[VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha Dan Hibiki]] and [[VideoGame/FatalFury Joe Higashi]] originally made a cameo appearance in ''[[VideoGame/CapcomVsSNKMillenniumFight2000 Capcom vs. SNK]]'''s ending, before being added as playable characters in ''[[CapcomSequelStagnation Capcom vs. SNK Pro]]''.
** As mentioned above, Eagle was originally an unplayable opponent in the first ''VideoGame/{{Street Fighter|I}}''. While he did eventually show up in the ''Alpha'' series, his first playable appearance was in 2001's ''[[VideoGame/CapcomVsSNK2MarkOfTheMillennium Capcom vs. SNK 2]]''.
** ''VideoGame/SNKVsCapcomSVCChaos'' featured the Mars People from ''VideoGame/MetalSlug'' as a playable character, as did ''VideoGame/NeoGeoBattleColiseum''.
** Saki Omokane was originally one of the main love interests in ''VideoGame/QuizNanairoDREAMS'', a DatingSim that was never released in America. She eventually made it into ''[[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcomClashOfSuperHeroes Marvel vs. Capcom]]'' as an AssistCharacter, and later, as as a fully playable fighter in ''VideoGame/TatsunokoVsCapcom''.
* ''VideoGame/BushidoBlade 2'' saw some of the previous game's bosses become hidden characters: Sazanka, Tsubame and Hongou.
* For ''VideoGame/BloodyRoar'' its original FinalBoss Uriko was completely retooled when she became playable in ''Bloody Roar 2''.
* Yuri Sakazaki, the DamselInDistress of the first ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'' game, becomes playable in the sequel and turns out to be a skilled fighter in her own right. She became so popular that she's a mainstay in ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'' series.
* With more information being available in the [[Manga/{{Naruto}} source material]], Darui went from a support-only character in ''VideoGame/NarutoShippudenUltimateNinjaStormGenerations'' to a full-on playable character in ''[[VideoGame/NarutoShippudenUltimateNinjaStorm3 Storm 3]]''.
* ''Super Smash Bros. Melee'' marks the first time that [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Sheik, Ganondorf]] and (if one doesn't count VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaCDIGames) Princess Zelda have ever been playable in any game.
** ''Super Smash Bros. 4'' has [[VideoGame/KidIcarus Palutena]] and the dog and duck from ''VideoGame/DuckHunt'' becoming playable after appearing as [=NPCs=] in their own series.
** In the ''Smash Bros.'' series Wario, Meta Knight, Pit, Olimar, Squirtle (who doubles as the starting platform in Poké Floats) and King Dedede (who also appeared in the N64 installment as a background character in Kirby's stage) all appeared as trophies in ''Melee'' before becoming playable characters. Charizard was one of the Pokémon summoned in the first two games before it became a playable character in ''Brawl'' and Red made a cameo in the N64 game's intro before becoming playable as Pokémon trainer.
** Palutena had a minor role in the ''Subspace Emissary'' and assisted Pit during his [[LimitBreak Final Smash]] and [[VideoGame/PunchOut Little Mac]] was [[ an Assist Trophy]] in ''Brawl'' and now their [[‎ playable characters]] in the fourth game.
** Metal Mario and Giant Franchise/DonkeyKong appear as unplayable bosses in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' From ''Melee'' onward, anyone can be made metal or giant with the [[VideoGame/SuperMario64 green box]] and Super Mushroom items respectively.
** Also, [[TrueFinalBoss Giga Bowser]] from ''Melee'' becomes playable through [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Bowser's]] Final Smash in ''Brawl''.
** The first character shown off for the Switch game were the [[VideoGame/{{Splatoon}} Inklings]], who were just a trophy in ''3DS/Wii U''.
** Nintendo's E3 2018 presentation ends with a trailer that reveals that, after being a background character (64), cutscene extra (Melee), 2 bosses (Brawl), completely non-existent (3DS), and stage hazard boss (Wii U), [[VideoGame/{{Metroid}} Ridley]] finally makes the cut as a playable character in the aforementioned Switch game, now titled ''Super Smash Bros. Ultimate''.
* ''Anime/DragonBallKai: Ultimate Butouden'' marks the first playable appearance of [[EccentricMentor King Kai]] in '''''any''''' ''Manga/DragonBall'' game.
* ''VideoGame/Persona4Arena'' allows you to play as Labrys from a Drama CD unreleased outside Japan and the BonusBoss of ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'', [[spoiler: Elizabeth]].
* ''VideoGame/Persona4ArenaUltimax'' allows you to play as [[MissionControl Rise Kujikawa]], Tohru Adachi, Margaret, Marie and Sho Minazuki, all of whom had NPC roles in earlier games.
* In the ''Godzilla'' FightingGame for the Turbo CD, Biollante was not playable by any means, but became available to players of the game's UsefulNotes/SuperFamicom successor, ''Kaijuu Daikessen''.
* Bai-Hu, the FinalBoss of ''Breakers'' for the UsefulNotes/NeoGeo, can be playable through codes in the CD version and the UpdatedRerelease ''Breakers Revenge''.
* Happens after a fashion in ''[[VideoGame/GundamVsSeries Gundam Extreme Vs.]]''; the boss of the game is the Extreme Gundam from the manga ''Gundam EXA''. The sequel, ''Extreme Vs. Full Boost'', introduces ''EXA'''s protagonist Leos Alloi, who has his own version of the Extreme Gundam complete with [[MultiformBalance melee, ranged, and funnel forms]] based off the original Extreme's MetaMecha. Several of Leos' attacks are taken directly from the original, allowing players to be on the delivering end for a change.
** The Gundam Vs. Series does this quite a bit, with some mecha (such as [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam Char's Geloogo]], [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Deathscythe Hell]] or the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED Strike Rouge]] going from {{Assist Character}}s to playable over the course of the franchise. It also [[DemotedToExtra happens in reverse]], with playable units being bumped down to Assists.
* In ''VideoGame/EternalFighterZero'', we have the final bosses [[VisualNovel/OneKagayakuKisetsuE Unknown]] and [[VisualNovel/{{AIR}} Kanna]]:
** [[MyLittlePanzer Unknown]] was originally the FinalBoss, later, in the ''Blue Sky Edition'', [[WingedHumanoid Kanna]] took her place and Unknown became a SecretCharacter instead, till finally, she became fully playable from the beginning in the ''Bad Moon Edition''. Although her moveset was toned down, her boss version remains as powerful as before.
** Kanna started as the unplayable FinalBoss in the ''Blue Sky Edition''; she later became playable in ''Memorial'', however, unlike Unknown, her moveset was not toned down, and [[GameBreaker she's so overpowered]] that she's banned from tournaments.
* Croagunk in ''VideoGame/PokkenTournament'' was just a Support Pokemon at first that lowered the opponent's defenses. A later update made it a playable character while also retaining its Support Pokemon status.
* ''VideoGame/BodyBlows'': Max, who was unplayable in the first game and also a weaker version of [[SNKBoss T-17]] prior its RoboticReveal after losing one round its opponent, was made playable in the sequel ''[[DreamMatchGame Ultimate Body Blows]]''. T-17 remained the unplayable FinalBoss of that installment.
* Each ''Franchise/BlazBlue'' game promoted at least one NPC from a previous game:
** ''Continuum Shift'' promoted [[TheDogWasTheMastermind Hazama]] and Tsubaki Yayoi, although Tsubaki only appeared in TheStinger of the first game. ''Continuum Shift Extend'' promoted [[BattleButler Valkenhayn R. Hellsing]] and Relius Clover.
** ''Chronophantasma'' promoted Kokonoe and [[BigBad Yuuki Terumi]]. From the wider franchise, it also promoted Celica A. Mercury.
** Almost all the new characters in ''Central Fiction'' were this: Hibiki Kohaku (Kagura's attendant), Phantom (one of Terumi's conspirators), Izanami (the other BigBad) and, nine years after his initial appearance, Ragna's mentor Jubei. From the wider franchise, it also promoted Naoto Kurogane, Mai Natsume and [[VisualNovel/XBlazeCodeEmbryo Es]].

[[folder:Party Game]]
* ZigZaggedTrope: After not being playable since the fifth game in the series, Donkey Kong finally becomes playable again in ''VideoGame/MarioParty 10''. Bowser also becomes playable for the first time in ''Mario Party 10'' in Bowser Party and {{Toys/amiibo}} Party modes (if one does not count his playable appearance in ''Mario Party 4'''s Beach Volley Folley minigame).
* In previous ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing'' games, the only playable character was... The playable character. In the PartyGame spinoff, ''Toys/{{amiibo}} Festival'', fifteen of the animal [=NPC=] characters are playable themselves: Isabelle, K.K. Slider, Tom Nook, Mr. Resetti, Lottie, Kapp'n, Blathers, Celeste, Cyrus, Reese, Digby, Rover, Mabel, Kicks, and [[TheDividual Timmy and Tommy]]. [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters Many more are playable through the card-based minigames.]]

* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'':
** Although he was playable as a reskin of Sonic in the multiplayer mode of ''Sonic 3'', Knuckles became fully playable in ''[[VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles Sonic & Knuckles]]''.
** Tikal and Chaos were playable in the multiplayer of VideoGame/SonicAdventure2, and believe it or not, you can play as Maria Robotnik in two levels of ''VideoGame/ShadowTheHedgehog''.
** There's also Tails in the [[VideoGameRemake remake]] of ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehogCD''. In the original, he just made a couple of [[TheCameo cameos]].
** [[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006 Mephiles the Dark]] made a surprise appearance as a playable character in ''VideoGame/SonicRunners''.
* The ''Franchise/SlyCooper'' series made Bentley and Murray playable characters in its [[VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves second game]], while [[VideoGame/Sly3HonorAmongThieves the third]] finally upgraded Carmelita Fox, and former antagonists, Panda King and Dimitri, to playable status.
* Previous recurring series antagonist Captain Qwark became playable in ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankUpYourArsenal''. Sort of. (In-game, Ratchet is controlling an interactive "vid-comic" where the player controls Qwark). He also had his own playable dream sequences in ''VideoGame/SecretAgentClank''. He was officially made a playable character in ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankAll4One'', alongside Dr. Nefarious as well as ''Full Frontal Assault''.
* ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot'':
** Cortex became playable in ''VideoGame/CrashTwinsanity''.
** Coco got partly-playable in ''VideoGame/CrashBandicoot3Warped'' and fully playable in ''VideoGame/CrashBandicootTheWrathOfCortex''. She later appears as the co-op character in ''Crash: Mind over Mutant'' and in ''VideoGame/CrashBandicootNSaneTrilogy'' as an alternative to Crash.
** Nina too, thanks to EarlyBirdCameo -- she appears as a boss in ''VideoGame/CrashBandicootPurpleRiptosRampage'' before her intended debut in ''VideoGame/CrashTwinsanity''.
** A fair amount of the main cast got limited playability in ''VideoGame/CrashBash''.
* DLC packs for ''VideoGame/ScottPilgrim'' added Knives Chau and Wallace Wells as playable characters.
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros''
** Princess Peach was introduced as a generic DamselInDistress, but ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros2'' included her in the playable cast, and she's made occasional playable appearances ever since.
** Wario was strictly a bad guy in his first few appearances (''VideoGame/SuperMarioLand2SixGoldenCoins'', ''Mario & Wario'', and ''Wario's Woods''). He was first playable in ''Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman!'', then got [[VideoGame/WarioLand his own series]], and now he's both a recurring ''Mario'' playable character and a star in his own right.
** Rosalina, after her debut in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'', became a regular character in the ''VideoGame/MarioKart'' spin-off series. Eventually, she took a spot in the main series by becoming a SecretCharacter in ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DWorld''.
** ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosU'' introduced villain named Nabbit who would occasionally show up for a special challenge. In the DLC ''VideoGame/NewSuperLuigiU'', he becomes playable - though he can't collect power-ups, he is utterly immune to enemies.
* After years of lamenting the sorry state of modern video games and boasting of his trained-on-the-good-old-hard-games skills in the ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' series, Cranky Kong finally gets to put his money where his mouth is in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountryTropicalFreeze''. Funky Kong later followed suit in the Switch re-release, though he had also been playable in some spinoff games earlier.
* Kaos, BigBad of the ''VideoGame/{{Skylanders}}'' franchise, becomes playable in ''Trap Team'' using a special Trap toy. He then becomes playable in aerial racing segments in ''[=SuperChargers=]'' and ''[=SuperChargers=] Racing'' using a trophy, then gets a proper figure in ''Imaginators''.
* After the release of ''VideoGame/ShovelKnight'', additional campaigns for three of the game's boss characters (Plague Knight's ''Plague of Shadows'', Specter Knight's ''Specter of Torment'', and King Knight's ''King of Cards'') were released.
* ''Franchise/{{Rayman}}:''
** ''VideoGame/RaymanM'' promotes Globox, [[BigBad Razorbeard]], the Teensies and Henchman 800 from ''VideoGame/Rayman2''. Globox and the Teensies would be playable again in the platformer ''VideoGame/RaymanOrigins''.
** ExpositionFairy Murphy is playable in the Wii U version of ''VideoGame/RaymanLegends''
* ''VideoGame/{{Cuphead}}'': For the upcoming DLC called "The Delicious Last Course", the Legendary Chalice will make a playable appearance as the normal-bodied Ms. Chalice.

* After Flora Reinhold was the driving plot force of ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheCuriousVillage'', and [[spoiler:replaced by Don Paolo]] for most of ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheDiabolicalBox'', she finally became playable in ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheUnwoundFuture''.
* ''VideoGame/DeadlyRoomsOfDeath'' has a couple of examples, though they are only playable in short interlude levels, and Beethro remains the only playable character for most of the game.

* [[NebulousEvilOrganisation SEAS]] in ''VideoGame/{{Paraworld}}'' Boosterpack.

* [[MissionControl Fuuka]] in ''VideoGame/Persona3DancingMoonNight''.
* Nanako and Kanami in ''VideoGame/Persona4DancingAllNight'', alongside Rise, Margaret, Marie, and Adachi, who were [=NPCs=] in the [[VideoGame/{{Persona 4}} original game]] but became playable in an [[VideoGame/Persona4ArenaUltimax earlier spinoff]].
* [[MissionControl Futaba]] in ''VideoGame/Persona5DancingStarNight''.
* [[DistaffCounterpart CommandGirlVideo]] in ''[[VideoGame/BitTrip BIT.TRIP Presents...Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien]]'', the only non-[=CommanderVideo] character from the original saga to become playable so far.
** Creator/CharlesMartinet served as TheNarrator in [=Runner2=], but in [=RUNNER3=] you can also play as him!

* [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters All the bosses]] from ''VideoGame/IzunaLegendOfTheUnemployedNinja'' are playable in the second, including the two hidden ones ([[spoiler:Gen-An and Shino]]).
* ''VideoGame/TheBindingOfIsaac'': Zigzagged with [[spoiler:The Keeper]]. It's not directly the same character, but his attack style, unique life mechanic, appearance, and unlock method are obvious references to fan-favourite MiniBoss [[spoiler:Greed]].

* Joachim in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLamentOfInnocence''.
* General Leo in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', [[spoiler: though only for one battle]].
* Sarevok in ''VideoGame/BaldursGateIIThroneOfBhaal''.
* [[TheDon Aria T'Loak]] is a temporary companion in the [[StormingTheCastle Omega DLC]] for ''MassEffect3''. She comes with the unique biotic power Flare, which contrary to its unassuming name is a staggeringly powerful ability.
** Mass Effect Multiplayer then made heroes of Batarians and Vorcha, species you could only encounter as enemies in Mass Effect 2. They were followed by the Volus, who had never been used in combat at all, and eventually joined by playable Geth Juggernauts and Collectors.
* Isabela, an NPC in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', becomes a party member in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''.
** Merrill was a tutorial NPC in ''Origins'' with not a lot of personality and without her characteristic accent; the sequel expanded her role significantly and added her to the main party.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'' added Cassandra Pentaghast as a playable character. ''Dragon Age II'' only featured her in cut scenes, interrogating a friend of the protagonist.
** It also adds Cole, who first appeared in the novel ''[[Literature/{{Asunder}} Dragon Age: Asunder]]''.
** The ''Dragonslayer'' DLC promotes the Avvar Sky Watcher met in the main game to a playable character in the multiplayer mode.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'':
** Riku had an entire campaign to himself in ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories Chain of Memories]]'', and later in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsDreamDropDistance''. He is also temporarily playable during a certain stage of the FinalBoss, though with a limited moveset.
** The entire Organization XIII (bosses) appear as playable characters in Mission Mode for ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2 358/2 Days]]'', along with Donald and Goofy ([=AI=]-controlled support party members), as well as Mickey (who would be playable in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', but only briefly if you died in certain boss fights).
* In the ''VideoGame/EpicBattleFantasy'' series, this happens fairly regularly:
** [[CuteKitten NoLegs]] was a boss in the first game, a summon in the next three, and became a playable character in the ''Bullet Heaven'' spinoffs before ''finally'' becoming a fully-fledged party member in the upcoming fifth instalment.
** Lance, the BigBad of [=EBF2=], [[HeelFaceTurn joins the party after you defeat him]] and is a player character from [=EBF3=] onward.
** Anna, a random NPC who appears in [=EBF3=], is effectively the ''main character'' of [=EBF4=], and is the character you start off as. She also bears a striking resemblance to the shopkeeper from [=EBF1=].
* ''VideoGame/ValkyrieProfile'' lets you fight Freya, Brahms, and Lezard Valeth in the BonusDungeon, and they join you if you defeat them. You can't use them in the regular game, however, since the bonus dungeon is chosen from the main menu instead of being part of the regular game.
* Bowser, after being an antagonist in the two preceding games, becomes a playable character (and is in fact the [[ADayInTheLimelight driving force]] behind the plot rather than being a [[BoisterousWeakling mere joke]]) in ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory''.
** Bowser also starts becoming playable in the ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' series from the second game and onwards.
** Way before either of those, Bowser actually joined Mario's part- er, "let Mario join his party" in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG''.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden}}'', [[spoiler:Kwanda Rosman, Milich Oppenheimer, Sonya Schulen, Varkas, Sydonia, the pirate trio, Alen, Grenseal (though technically their boss is defeated to recruit them), and Griffith (defeated in a tactical battle)]] can be recruited after defeating them. All are necessary to obtain the 108 Stars (best) ending.
** Many recruitable characters are like this throughout the series, to the point that the game may as well shove forgiveness and DefeatMeansFriendship down the player's throats.
* The ''VideoGame/TalesSeries'' tends to do this with its remakes and sequels.
** ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'' has Suzu Fujibayashi going from minor NPC in the Super Famicom version to fully playable in the [=PlayStation=] and beyond.
** Lilith was dummied out as a playable character in the [=PlayStation=] ''VideoGame/TalesOfDestiny'' but got full status in the [=PlayStation 2=] remake.
** Flynn is a minor example in ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'', going from GuestStarPartyMember in the Xbox 360 version to a fully party member in the Playstation 3 version. The same happens to Richard in ''VideoGame/TalesOfGraces'' in the transition from the Wii to the [=PS3=].
** Chalcedony in ''VideoGame/TalesOfHearts'' from goes from enemy and summonable character to fully playable in the VITA version.
** Gaius and Muzét become playable in ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia2''. Made especially noteworthy by the fact that they were [[spoiler: the final bosses]] in the original game. They also retain every single attack they possessed in their original appearances.
* ''Franchise/{{Ys}}''
** ''Ys Origin'' has [[spoiler: Toal Fact]]. He's encountered several times as an NPC when playing as Hugo or Yunica; completing the game with either of them unlocks him as a player character. Beating the game with him reveals the canon ending.
** In the original versions of ''Ys IV'', Duren and Karna were [=NPCs=]. They are completely playable in ''VideoGame/YsMemoriesOfCelceta''.
* Histoire finally became playable in VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptuniaReBirth1 via DLC.
* ''VideoGame/LufiaTheLegendReturns'' has two recurring [=NPCs=] join the party: Milka as the final main party member and [[spoiler:the Egg Dragon]] as a SecretCharacter.
* Papa Louie, the main protagonist of the ''VideoGame/PapaLouieArcade'' series of video games, regularly does this to his loyal customers. Either he will abandon them (in Pancakeria and in Pizzeria), will hold a contest (in Burgeria and in Taco Mia), or flat out give the job to someone (in Freezeria). Usually, the customers pulled into these schemes are not pleased, but end up liking their jobs.
** This has not stopped with fictional customers. Mandi and Tony Solary, who are both inspired on real people (one of which is the co-founder of Flipline Studios, the creators of the games) both have jobs in the Papa Louie universe (in Wingeria and in Donuteria).
** Willow and Rudy have the distinction of being chefs after their debut appearances (in Hot Doggeria and in Donuteria, respectively).
** In real life, however, Flipline Studios has held a challenge called "Papa's Next Chefs", which is a contest held by fans to determine the chef at Papa's next restaurant. The winners were:
:::2011: Cooper and Prudence
:::2012: Taylor and Peggy
:::2013: James and Willow
:::2014: Tony and Scooter
:::2015: Rudy and Scarlett
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyRecordKeeper'' allows you to add characters to your party that were not playable in their original ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' game. Yes, even Sephiroth.
** Reno from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' holds the honor of being the first playable character in ''Record Keeper'' to have not been playable in a prior game.
* ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIVApocalypse'': [[spoiler:Flynn, Isabeau, Jonathan, and Walter, the main character and three main partners from the original game, are fully playable during the Peace Route's final battle, while Flynn fights with Satan in the Anarchy Route's final battle. In addition, Merkabah and Lucifer, the original game's final bosses and thus unable to be fused as per series tradition, can be summoned in New Game Plus since they are only bad ending final bosses now]].
* In the original version of ''VideoGame/EternalSonata'', Prince Crescendo and Princess Serenade are royalty who your party interact with at various points in the game. The UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 UpdatedRerelease makes them both playable and adds a new dungeon, Lament Mirror, that cements their playable status.
* [[VideoGame/KisekiSeries Trails series]]:
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfHeroesTrailsInTheSky SC'' makes many important side characters playable, including Josette, Mueler, Julia, and Anelace.
** ''The Third'' adds several more, to the point where the heroine Estelle loses her spot as protagonist! The game more or less exists to give CharacterDevelopment to the side characters and wraps up plot threads unresolved by the end of ''SC''.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfHeroesTrailsOfColdSteel II'' makes a whopping number of characters playable that weren't originally, and adds a significant amount of time for two that were only very briefly playable in the original title. This includes fan favorite Towa Herschel, one of the most requested characters thanks to being the most approachable girl in her Bonding Events.
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series, Orcs and Imperials became this as of ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]''. Prior to that, the Orcs were generic {{Mooks}} in ''Arena'' and, while they got development toward becoming [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Blizzard Orcs]] in ''Daggerfall'', they weren't actually playable until ''Morrowind''. Also prior to ''Morrowind'', TheEmpire was considered to be a melting pot of all the other races. The [[GaidenGame spin-off game]] ''Redguard'' defined Imperials as a distinct race, but they were not yet playable.''Morrowind'' then made them playable.
* In the 3DS remake of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'', you can recruit fan favorite characters Red and Morrie -- the former during the plot after the Pirate's Cove, the latter as an extra reward for beating Rank S in the Monster Arena.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 2}}'': Katsuya, Ulala, and Baofu, all non-player characters in ''Innocent Sin'', become party members in ''Eternal Punishment''.
* In ''Videogame/FinalFantasyXV'', Gladio, Prompto and Ignis were made playable in their own DLC. A later update allowed you to switch between the party members in the main game itsself, with each character retaining their unique gameplay mechanics.
* In ''VideoGame/GoldenSunTheLostAge,'' your beginning party is Felix, Jenna and Sheba, either willing or unwilling members of the antagonists group in the first game. Jenna was briefly playable early in ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'', while Felix and Sheba was NPC's.
** Eoleo is a party member in ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn,'' he appears as a child in the second game.

* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowGatOutOfHell'' has the first time Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington are playable in a ''Saints Row'' title.
** In the spinoff title ''Videogame/AgentsOfMayhem'', Pierce Washington and Oleg Kirrlov are playable as "Kingpin" and "Yeti". Gat also returns as a playable character in the form of DLC.

[[folder:Simulation Game]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheSims2'', {{NPC}}s can be made playable if you have a high enough relationship score and ask them to move in, or marry them. There are also various {{Game Mod}}s to do so.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSims3'', Kaylynn Langerak - who was an {{NPC}} maid with a minor story role in ''The Sims 2'' - is included as a playable pre-made character with her own household due to her popularity with fans.
** Because it's a prequel, ''The Sims 3'' has fun including some lore characters who existed as ancestors in the family trees of the playable characters in the first two games. Notable examples include Zo and Notzo Curious (grandparents of the Curious brothers from ''The Sims 2'') and Skip Broke (Brandi Broke's husband, who was deceased by the start of ''The Sims 2'') - all of whom had EnsembleDarkhorse status - though some more obscure characters (like the grandparents of the Monty and Capp families) are present and playable as well.
* In ''VideoGame/VirtualVillagers 5: The New Believers'' another tribe of 'heathens' appears, which is controlled by the AI. The player can 'convert' them individually using various methods and they become members of your tribe.

* The ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' series has several examples of this, including Sgt. Viktor Reznov from ''World At War'' being playable in ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps Black Ops]]'', Sgt. Frank Woods from ''Black Ops'' being playable in ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2 Black Ops 2]]'' and ''Declassified'', and Captain Price from the ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' series being playable in the present time in the final level of ''Modern Warfare 3''.
* Part 2 of ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite'' DLC ''BioShockInfinite/BurialAtSea'' has you playing as Elizabeth.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' does this all the time. Every one of the Windows games has had at least one boss villain reappear as playable in a later game in some way shape or form. That includes the final bosses and some Extra Stage bosses.
** It started after ''Story of Eastern Wonderland'', the second-game of the PC-98 series.
** Being the Stage 5 boss is something of an exclusive club that seems to guarantee promotion to the role of "main protagonist", especially in main games. As of ''Hidden Star in Four Seasons'' - the sixteenth main installment - there are only two previous Stage 5 bosses who have never been the main playables of any main series games or any {{Gaiden}} games: Rin Kaenbyou and Shou Toramaru.
*** ''Hidden Star in Four Seasons'' breaks the trend by adding the playable characters Cirno (the Stage 2 boss from ''Embodiment of Scarlet Devil'') and Aya Shameimaru (the Stage 4 boss from ''Mountain of Faith'').
** Several characters have gone on to get their own {{Gaiden}} games in the series canon, two of which would later be promoted to "main protagonists":
*** Aya Shamemaru in both ''Bunkachou'' games, with what can be most easily described as photography games combined with the bullet hell of the usual series
*** Seija Kijin in ''Impossible Spell Card'', whose game plays like Aya's but with the difficulty cranked up and the ability to cheat through special items.
*** Cirno in ''Fairy Wars'', whose game was a bullet hell with bullet freezing mechanics.
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'': The extremely popular custom mod "Vs. Saxton Hale" lets a single player become the larger-than-life Mann Co. CEO and fight all the other players simultaneously.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'' makes the [[VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved predecessor]]'s main EliteMooks, the Elites, a playable race in multiplayer. While they aren't technically more powerful, the altered hit-boxes has led to arguments on which model is superior and standardization in the MLG circuit.
** Elites are also playable in ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' where they have more shield strength and faster movement speed than their Spartan counterparts. But for balance reasons, they possess larger hitboxes, slightly slower shield recharge times and less physical health, though the last balance is somewhat negated by their ability to fully recover physical health over time without a health pack.
** In ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'', multiplayer Elites are more of examples of ConfusionFu, since, despite the dramatically different character models compared to Spartans, they still had the exact same hitboxes.
* [[TrueFinalBoss Hibachi]] is an unlockable fighter in the iPhone port of ''[[VideoGame/DonPachi DoDonPachi Resurrection]]'' after beating the game [[BulletHell (Good luck with that by the way)]].
* In ''VideoGame/BrothersInArms'', Hartsock is an NPC in the first game, but is the main playable character in the second.
* ''Videogame/BorderlandsThePreSequel'' is an {{Interquel}} taking place before the second game that features Wilhelm and the Sheriff of Lynchwood (known as Nisha) as playable characters as well as SeriesMascot Claptrap and Athena from the General Knoxx DLC of the first game. Even Handsome Jack counts in a way- a DLC allows you to play as a body double of him. The only exception is Aurelia, who is a new character introduced to the series though she is connected to a previous character (being the sister of Sir Hammerlock).
* In ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'', a part of the Octarian army in the game's adventure mode is octopus versions of Inklings called Octolings. In ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon 2}}'', the biggest feature in the ''Octo Expansion'' [[DownloadableContent DLC]] is the ability to play as an Octoling for the first time.

[[folder:Side Scroller]]
* Zero becoming playable as the ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' series went on was pretty much inevitable; first he was an underpowered extra character in ''X3'', but he later became a fully fleshed out alternative to X.
** The PSP remake ''Maverick Hunter X'' allows you to unlock and play as Vile.
** The other PSP remake, ''VideoGame/MegaManPoweredUp'', does this with all eight Robot Masters. Of course, only six of them were in the original ''VideoGame/MegaMan''.
*** Also in the same game, Roll and Proto Man were also unlockable each with their own stories. Roll was a background character in the first game while Proto Man made his debut as Breakman in ''VideoGame/MegaMan3''.
** Proto Man (as well as Bass) was playable way earlier, in ''Mega Man: The Power Battles'' for Arcades. Though Bass was technically playable in a FightingGame-esque EasterEgg mode in ''VideoGame/MegaMan7'', his debut game.
** After being X, Zero and Axl's navigator from X5 to X7, Alia is promoted to unlockable in ''Mega Man X8'' with moves similar to X. Unlike X however, she cannot use any of X's armor. Layer and Pallette are also unlockable with moves similar to Zero and Axl, though you have to rebuy the weapons for Layer and Pallete cannot metamorph like Axl.
** Done in an [[PlayingWithATrope odd way]] in the [[VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork Battle Network games]]. First example is that all fightable enemies ended up as a battlechip to use. Second was games 4-6 added double soul, which allowed megaman to imitate other navis that he formed bonds with under the right conditions, which included series classics like protoman, numberman, and elecman. 5-6 actually played this straight, allowing you to play as the navis themselves as well as double soul, such playable characters included protoman, numberman, flameman, and aquaman.
* The enigmatic swordsman Meta Knight received his own campaign mode sub-game, ''Meta Knightmare'', in ''Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land'' (which happens to be a remake of ''KirbysAdventure'', Meta Knight's first appearance). This mode returns in ''Kirby Super Star Ultra'' and ''Kirby: Planet Robobot''.
** Kirby's rival King Dedede was playable in ''VideoGame/Kirby64TheCrystalShards'' as a PowerupMount in certain level sections. Then became fully playable in ''VideoGame/KirbysReturnToDreamLand''. As of ''VideoGame/KirbyTripleDeluxe'', he has his own standalone gameplay mode just as Meta Knight does; ''Dededetour''.
** Bandana Waddle Dee was a JokeBoss from ''Kirby Super Star Ultra'' before becoming one of the playable companions in ''VideoGame/KirbysReturnToDreamLand'' alongside Dedede and Meta Knight.
*** Though, it's worth noting that Bandana Dee was playable way back when he debutted in Kirby Super Star's MegatonPunch minigame.
** Gooey was a simple NPC Kirby found trapped in a sack in ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand2''. He got promoted to [[PlatformingPocketPal second player]] in ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand3''.
** This also counts for several of the [[MonsterAllies helpers]] in ''VideoGame/KirbySuperStar'' and ''VideoGame/KirbyStarAllies'' that appeared as enemies in prevvious games such as Waddle Doo, Blade Knight, Parasol Waddle Dee, Bugzzy, Bonkers, etc.
** Rick, Kine, and Coo were just {{Power Up Mount}}s in ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand2'' and ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand3'', but ''VideoGame/KirbyStarAllies'' made them into a full-fledged playable character. [[TheDividual That's not a typo.]] Likewise, the final boss of ''VideoGame/KirbySuperStar''[='=]s ''Milky Way Wishes'', Marx, becomes playable in ''Star Allies'' as well, as well as Daroach (the main antagonist of ''VideoGame/KirbySqueakSquad'' and a NPC ally in ''VideoGame/KirbyMassAttack'') and Dark Meta Knight (the main antagonist of ''VideoGame/KirbyAndTheAmazingMirror'' and the final boss of ''VideoGame/KirbyTripleDeluxe''[='=]s ''Dededetour!'').
* The Red Arremer that just spent the past few lives terrorizing you in the ''VideoGame/GhostsNGoblins'' series? He's not nearly as nimble when under your control in the ''VideoGame/GargoylesQuest'' subseries, though his fighting game appearances in ''VideoGame/SNKVsCapcomSVCChaos'' and ''Ultimate VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3'' show greater shades of his abilities.
* Hiryu's rival in ''VideoGame/{{Strider}} 2'', Hien, became playable in a special "Hien Mode" in the PS port of the game.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bravoman}}'' enemy Pistol Daimyo became the star of his own SpinOff ShootEmUp game, ''Pistol Daimyo no Bouken''.
* The main villain from ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}: Hard Corps'', Colonel Bahamut, appears as the main character in the prequel, ''VideoGame/HardCorpsUprising''.
* Sasuke's first appearance in the ''VideoGame/GanbareGoemon'' series as a boss in the first UsefulNotes/SuperFamicom game (which was translated as ''The Legend of the Mystical Ninja''), but became playable from the Japan-only sequel onward.
* ''VideoGame/{{Rosenkreuzstilette}}'' has [[AnIcePerson Freudia Neuwahl]], who was originally a boss in the first game, but later returns as the protagonist and main playable character of the sequel, ''Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel'', where Freudia has the mission of rescuing Spritia, who has been kidnapped by the Church.

* You can play as Barry [=DeJay=], the announcer from ''[[VideoGame/BackyardSports Backyard Basketball]]'', in ''Backyard Baseball'' as an unlockable. [[spoiler: He is actually in Basketball, too, through a secret code.]]

* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedChronicles'' has three protagonists who while not having been [=NPCs=] in the earlier titles were prominent in the Franchise's ExpandedUniverse.
* Technically, Big Boss counts in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3'', having been the final boss of the series' first two MSX games.
** Gray Fox is briefly playable in 3 missions in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'''s UpdatedRerelease, ''VR Missions''.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPortableOps'' has a metric buttload of playable [=NPCs=] from the series, from major characters like Ocelot and Dr. Sokolov to minor characters like Johnny Sasaki Sr. and Raidenovich Raikov.
* Though Raiden ''was'' the main character in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', nobody [[TheScrappy actually wanted to play as him]] until he appeared as the rather bad-ass (and sadly unplayable) cyborg he appears as in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4''. This changed in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRising'' where he was the main character.
* ''VideoGame/{{Tenchu}}: Wrath of Heaven'' marks the first playable appearance of series' regular bad guy Onikage, in the game's Co-op Versus mode. Some of the bosses from ''Fatal Shadows'' (plus a few from older games) became playable in the PSP game ''Time of the Assassins'' for its LevelEditor.
* In ''Videogame/{{Dishonored 2}}'', Emily Kaldwin, the first game's DistressedDamsel becomes one of the playable protagonists of the game alongside Corvo Attano. Likewise, the standalone, ''VideoGame/DishonoredDeathOfTheOutsider'' has Billie Lurk, a major supporting character in the Daud DLC and the sequel becoming playable and sole player character.

[[folder:Survival Horror]]
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilOutbreak'' lets you play as most of the [=NPCs=] from the game, even though they're pretty much only [[AndYourRewardIsClothes skins that change the appearance of the main characters]]. With a VideoGame/GameShark or Action Replay you can literally play as [[DummiedOut any NPC in the game as well as a few that didn't make the cut]].
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilGaiden'' lets you play as Barry Burton as a main character (and he also becomes a playable character in the Mercenaries Reunion mode for ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5''). Likewise, BigBad Albert Wesker became playable as a selectable character for Battle Mode in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilCodeVeronica'', playable in the Mercenaries Reunion mode in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil 5'', and has several chapters in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilTheUmbrellaChronicles'' dedicated to playing as him as he works behind the scenes to unfold his plans. Excella, TheDragon to Wesker in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5'', is also a playable character in the game's Mercenaries mode.

* Hachi the shop owner in the ''VideoGame/AdvanceWars'' series becomes unlockable in ''Black Hole Rising'' and ''Dual Strike''. [[IzchaksWrath Appropriately]], he is one of the game's most powerful [=COs=].
** Hawke and Lash in ''Black Hole Rising'' become playable in the campaign of ''Dual Strike''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 2|CursedMemories}}'' does this quite a bit in the PSP VideoGameRemake ''Dark Hero Days'', making almost all of the formerly unusable optional boss characters playable, perhaps the most notable of them being [[VideoGame/MakaiKingdom Zetta]], who's a GameBreaker due to some retained ContractualBossImmunity, and the absurdly large hit radius on his attacks.
* Guss Tarball from [[VideoGame/JaggedAlliance Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games]] becomes a controllable mercenary in Jagged Alliance 2. He's pretty powerful although quite expensive.
* ''Franchise/FireEmblem''
** Some games let you unlock the BigBad and several of his cronies (and some unrelated villains) as playable characters for Trial Maps. That is, those who [[HeelFaceTurn don't join you during the main game anyway]].
** In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemShadowDragonAndTheBladeOfLight'', you fight a powerful enemy general named Camus. He returns as a playable character in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemGaiden'', now amnesiac and acting under the pseudonym Zeke.
** Of particular note is the BlackKnight from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemPathOfRadiance'' and ''VideoGame/FireEmblemRadiantDawn''. ThatOneBoss in ''Path of Radiance'', one of the coolest characters in the game, becomes playable in a few chapters in ''Radiant Dawn''. And he, in fact, kicks even more ass than before, so players can use him to single-handedly inflict beat downs of epic proportions on their enemies. The only problem is that he is a CrutchCharacter to the max who already has the max level, so using him will cost your other characters much-needed EXP, causing many players not to use Blackie at all.
** Also from the Tellius games, Oliver (the main antagonist for the portion of ''Path of Radiance'' that took place in Begnion) turned out to be NotQuiteDead in ''Radiant Dawn'' and can be recruited near the end of the game. [[JokeCharacter Statwise he's not very impressive, but his conversations with some of the other characters are among the funniest things in the game]].
** There are also several other examples in ''Radiant Dawn'' including the previously busy Sanaki, Sigrun, and Caineghis, the previously neutral Kurthnaga, the previously powerless Leanne and Nealuchi, the previously BrainwashedAndCrazy Renning, the previously confusing [[spoiler: Prime Minister Sephiran]], and (probably the most surprisingly) [[AscendedExtra Gareth]], Kurthnaga's servant who spoke two lines and five words through the entirety of ''Path of Radiance''. Guess they did give him a name for a reason.
** ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemMysteryOfTheEmblem Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem]]'' allows you to recruit [[spoiler:Michalis]], an antagonist in ''Shadow Dragon'' who suffered RedemptionEqualsDeath in the original ''Mystery of the Emblem''.
** ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' features many bosses and characters from previous games that can be recruited through [=SpotPass=].
** ''VideoGame/FireEmblemHeroes'' is this for multiple NPC antagonists. [[VideoGame/FireEmblemThracia776 Reinhardt]] and [[VideoGame/FireEmblemGaiden Berkut]] in particular have never been controllable under any circumstances before ''Heroes''.
* ''VideoGame/PlantsVsZombiesHeroes'' has several of the Zombie Teammates. While a number of zombies were playable in I, Zombie, this game even has zombies from ''VideoGame/PlantsVsZombies2ItsAboutTime'' that are now playable. This includes some of the [[BossBattle Zombots]], and yes, the FinalBoss Zombot of the first game is a playable and very powerful unit.
* ''VideoGame/TotalWarWarhammer'': When the game's first expansion pack was released, [[spoiler:Sarthorael the Ever-Watcher (the game's TrueFinalBoss)]] was promoted to be a playable general for Custom Games and Multiplayer in a simultaneous free patch.
* Wendy, Scott, Clyde, Craig, Token, and Tweek are all just NPCs in ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'', with only one of them ever being fought and most not even having a significant role in the story. In the sequel ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheFracturedButWhole'', they're all playable party members. The ''From Dusk to Casa Bonita'' DLC adds Henrietta Biggle to the list.

* In ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** The original rules always featured humans and human-like fantasy races with the "core" type of classes. However, official and fan-made rules sprung up early and often to allow players to play things like dragons, ogres, vampires, orcs, and so on. Examples from various editions include Council of Wyrms, Savage Species, Reverse Dungeon, The Advanced Race Guide, and many more.
** It happened to the settings ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'', where both settings originally existed as a thing "normal" characters got pulled into (such as in the Manual of the Planes and the earliest Ravenloft adventures). Eventually, this was (mostly) eschewed for having characters be natives of those settings.
* The ''TabletopGame/WorldOfDarkness'', old and new, pulled a similar trick. Often, the "core" faction in the game had enemies who were both related to and opposed to them, such as the vampiric Camarilla and their enemies, the vampiric Sabbat. Sure enough, it wouldn't take long for a {{Splat}} to make that faction playable. Later editions would just stick them right in the core rules like any other player option. Examples include the Technocratic Order, Marauders, and Nephandi from ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'', the Sabbat and Independent Clans in ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'', and the Shadow Court and Nunnehi in ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheDreaming''.
* In the original editions of ''TabletopGame/{{Trinity}}'', full Quantakinetics (psychics with power over energy and inanimate matter) were off the table, deemed appropriate only as {{NPC}}s, although the ''Trinity Players Guide'' made their first-level powers available to other psions as secondary powers they couldn't raise higher, and fan supplements gave them full PC writeups. For the reboot, ''Trinity Continuum: Aeon'', full Quantakinetics were made available as [=PCs=] in the main book.