->''"Ha! Legendary guardian? I was just a boy. A boy about your age actually. I wanted to change the world too, but I changed nothing. That [[ArcWords is my story.]]"''
-->-- '''Auron''', ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''

So, here you are, the top of your field. You felled countless enemy commanders, slew a dragon, worked up to your rank by the sweat of your brow, and became the envy of everyone. That's why you're the main character!

Wait, what's this? Despite your illustrious career, something disastrous just happened. You've been demoted and now you're working for some young, shiny hero instead! Hold on--weren't you the main character?

Sorry, but [[DecoyProtagonist you're not the main character]].

The Quickly Demoted Leader is established as a powerful character, but then immediately made to serve under the hero. This happens to provide the hero with the companionship of someone with much more experience and might put him in a position of authority quickly. If too GenreSavvy of their position, the QuicklyDemotedLeader can easily become TheResenter.

Possible reasons this character has lost his position:

* He doesn't have the right balance of emotion--maybe he's too reckless, or maybe he's TheStoic.
* [[BecauseDestinySaysSo He's not]] TheChosenOne.
* He made a mistake on a mission at the worst time. This can be realistic depending on the degree of the mistake and his reputation.
* He attempted a FaceHeelTurn or other form of betrayal.
* His character flaw finally got the best of him. Alcoholism is a common one.
* He suffered a crippling injury or was otherwise weakened considerably. This is common if the demotion is figurative rather than literal.
* [[QuicklyDemotedWoman She was demoted for not possessing a Y chromosome.]]

May overlap with ProudWarriorRaceGuy. If resentful, the character may insist he's StillTheLeader.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' introduces Yuuno so you can watch him get his butt kicked, turn into a ferret, and hand over magic casting and monster fighting duties to our heroine.
* ''Manga/{{Pretear}}'' puts a [[CastFullOfPrettyBoys harem]] of experienced capable male warriors behind an inexperienced teenage girl. Because she's TheChosenOne and apparently their powers are rather ineffective without being able to merge with said girl. Subverted somewhat because [[spoiler:this did not go well for the ''last'' girl who had to be the Pretear. One FaceHeelTurn later and our male heroes use the exact same methods to find the new {{Pretear}}]]. You think they'd learn.
* In possibly one of the few inversions in existence, GundamSEEDDestiny gives us Shinn Asuka's relationship with Athrun Zala. With war breaking out again between the Earth and the PLANTs, Athrun reenlists and in spite of getting a shiny new Savior Gundam does nothing for the greater part of the series, playing second fiddle to [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold a well-meaning but flawed soldier]]. ''Then'' it becomes more apparent Shinn has been being manipulated magnificently by the evil [[ChessMaster Chessmaster]] chairman of ZAFT, and Athrun goes back to the actual hero group, and ends up owning Shinn in the final battle.
* The Monk in EurekaSeven qualifies for this. He's supposed to be a very powerful [[TheForce "attuned"]] person to the will of the Earth (actually trained for this), and can even destroy large buildings. But he's arrogant, not interested in explaining almost anything he does and [[{{Arson Murder And Jaywalking}} doesn't even bathe]]. He's also the ProudWarriorRaceGuy. These all pale in comparison with his history of [[spoiler:being in Renton's position and [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption failing]]]] for no explained reason, unless he was the [[spoiler:corralians']] own, intended Obi Wrong.
** Holland Novak is a MUCH better example of this. He is the leader of Gekko State, but was rejected by Eureka as her partner, and greatly [[TheResenter resents]] and physically abuses [[TheHero Renton]], who does become Eureka's partner.
* In the ''SouthernCross'' arc of ''{{Robotech}}'', Sean starts out as the commander of the [[HumongousMecha ATAC]] unit, but when [[TheChosenOne Dana]] comes along, fresh out of the academy, he gets busted to private due to a combination of his own terrible discipline record and Dana [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveConnections having family connections in the brass]].
* Kiritsugu Emiya in the ''Fate'' series. Played with in that the prequel ''FateZero'' has him as the protagonist and actually shows us how he became the QuicklyDemotedLeader: [[spoiler:failing to fulfill his wish, failing to destroy the Grail, and being cursed to lose his powers and die after mentoring [[TheHero Shirou]] for five years.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* This happens to Spock at the end of ''Film/StarTrek'' (2009).
** Also, Captain Pike is quickly captured allowing the main cast to take control of the ''Enterprise''.
* Ultra Magnus is given the Matrix of Leadership in ''[[TransformersGeneration1 The Transformers: The Movie]]'' and can't get it open ([[MemeticMutation dammit, open!]]). It later falls to Hot Rod to kill [[CosmicHorror Unicron]] with it.
** Foreshadowed because Hot Rod was the first to touch the Matrix as [[spoiler:it falls from Optimus Prime's dying grasp.]]
* Fung from ''ShaolinSoccer''. He's a great soccer player who throws a game and is crippled by [[strike:outraged fans]] a hired mob, then years later becomes the coach to a group who use their shaolin martial arts to form their own soccer team.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* Kratos May, from Javier Negrete's ''LaEspadaDeFuego''. He is easily the greatest swordsman on the continent and second-in-command of a band of mercenaries so powerful that they're their own nation. When the time comes to fight for a Sword ForgedByTheGods, a wizard who [[IOweYouMyLife saved his life]] tells him to teach the much younger protagonist so ''he'' can win the sword instead.
* The ''StarWarsExpandedUniverse'' plays with this a lot, with Luke being the Obi-Wrong in many of the stories.
** The Jedi Academy trilogy plays it straight: A Sith [=Lord's=] ghost puts him in a coma.
** In ''Legacy of the Force'', he is the commander, but [[spoiler: killing Jacen would be the dark side because Jacen killed his wife.]]
** In the Black Fleet Crisis, [=he's=] too busy finding his mother [[spoiler: even if it is a con.]]
** In the ''Hand of Thrawn'', [=he's=] busy saving Mara, who he marries at the end.
*** The last two are subversions, because while everyone is busy saving the Republic from a major threat, Luke go to isolated regions, not much caring. And in the end he is the one who finds something to save the day. Yeah, while he was the only one not searching.
** Subverted in the Corellian trilogy, where he plays matchmaker for Lando.
** Also subverted in the New Jedi Order, since Luke and Mara have an active sex life which leaves them distracted.
** Fate of the Jedi plays it straight, with Luke being in exile.
* In the BlackCompany books, Lady is the BigBad of the first trilogy. Then someone [[IKnowYourTrueName speaks her true name]], and she's Croaker's second-in-command from then on.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Often shows up in ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' due to the series' use of RookieRedRanger:
** ''Series/PowerRangersTimeForce'': After her fiancee, Red Ranger Alex, gets apparently killed, Jen takes charge and swipes his and other morphers so her team can take down the villain. However, has to hand over the Red morpher to Wes, a civilian with no military training, because he's [[IdenticalGrandson a dead ringer for Alex]] and [[BorrowedBiometricBypass the only DNA match close enough to unlock the morphers.]] But mostly averted in that while Wes leads the charge on the battlefield because the producers don't know how to ''not'' have the Red Ranger stand front and center, he only serves as (somewhat) dumb muscle or extra firepower while Jen still calls the shots on the team.
*** It was played straight both ways when Alex returns, alive and well. He quickly ousts Wes so he can go handle his destiny and takes over leadership of the team. However, his straight-laced, by-the-book attitude get under everyone's skin and the team throws him out, leading to Jen to break off her engagement with him as well. Alex realizes he messes up and goes to get back Wes.
** In ''Series/PowerRangersWildForce'', Taylor had been the a Ranger for about a year, longer than any of the others, and yet had to step down from leadership in favor of a guy that was RaisedByNatives in the Amazon because his patron Power Animal outranked hers. She wasn't happy about it.
*** A similar situation occurs in ''Series/PowerRangersSamurai'', where [[spoiler:Lauren took leadership from her brother Jayden by virtue of her being the firstborn.]] The difference here is that Jayden knew this would happen all along and willingly stepped down; it was the ''other'' Rangers that had a tough time coping. After [[spoiler:Lauren's special sealing technique failed when the BigBad found a way to counter it]], leadership was passed back to Jayden (again, willingly) out of recognition that he had earned the position by the way he led before.
** Sky of ''Series/PowerRangersSPD'' was easily at the top of the police academy - the problem is that he knew it, and failed a test of character due to arrogance with a dash of sexism. His superior officer made him Blue Ranger to learn some humility, while the Red morpher went to Jack, a thief drafted into the Ranger program as a kind of community service sentence. [[TheResenter He was even less happy than Taylor was.]]
** ''Series/PowerRangersJungleFury'' had a bit of variation. While leadership never openly came up, an early episode had Blue Ranger Theo concerned that Red Ranger Casey was an untrained "cub". This was resolved when he was gently prodded "So train him."
*** Before that, Jarrod would be a ranger along with Lily and Theo but his arrogance made their sensei decide to demote him and that's how Casey took the spot in the first place. Jarrod was so much of TheResenter he ended up posessed by the BigBad.
* Subverted in ''Series/{{Psych}}''. Initially, and for most of the first season, Police Chief Karen Vick is ''Interim'' Chief Vick. She's also [[RealLifeWritesThePlot pregnant]], providing one of the standard excuses for character replacement via this trope... Then, in the season 2 finale, it finally seems like she's going to be replaced, with Chief Vick outright saying, "I was originally appointed just to be the interim chief..." However, she ends up getting a ''promotion'' and from season two on holds the chief position permanently. [[spoiler: Until she is fired on season 7, that is.]]
*** Shawn had a hand in keeping her on by photographing the man the mayor wanted while he was having an affair.
* A disabled [[Series/UltraSeven Dan Moroboshi]] is this to upstart Gen Ootori in ''Series/UltramanLeo''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Maria of ''SakuraTaisen'' is a firearms expert with intrigue and assassins in her past, so she ''seems'' like a good choice for leader in a war. But she is summarily replaced as field leader by...a rookie cadet we first saw swabbing the deck of a ship. Averted insofar as she stays on as second-in-command, remains competent in the field, and is tapped to be leader once again during the time Oogami is transferred to Paris.
** Dodged in ''SakuraTaisen V'' with Ratchet, no-nonsense knife expert and prototype mech pilot. Leader and general badass, until shortly into Chapter 1. At this moment, her spiritual power gives out, rendering her unable to pilot her mecha and thus no longer able to lead from the front. Instead of getting demoted to following the new hero, Shinjiro Taiga, Ratchet gets the promotion she deserves from being Taiga's immediate commanding officer to still his immediate commanding officer.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' has one of these... namely, you. You, the player character, are actually a supporting character in the long-lost Emperor's son's story. Although you do more than your share of the work, it is he who the plot ultimately revolves around, he who will defeat the BigBad, and he who will be remembered in future legends. You do get the Elder Scrolls equivalent of a knighthood, though...
** Your efforts don't go unrecognized, as you do get a huge statue in Bruma for saving the city, and yes, it is ''you'', not a generic statue. You will at least be remembered as, probably, TheObiWan played straight.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'', there is a book about what happened. History is a bit fuzzy on the details but the player character is remembered for a dizzying mix of heroic deeds while the son is only really known for his HeroicSacrifice.
* Orca in the ''[[Franchise/DotHack .hack//]]'' games is Kite's best friend and mentor in The World. He's quickly data drained and spends the rest of the first game series in a coma, thus setting up the plot.
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' has quite a few characters like this.
** Mia Fey is killed early on so Phoenix can be a protagonist without the 'safety net' of his uber-awesome boss. Though Mia still does bail him out a few times and remains a key supporting played for Phoenix in the trilogy.
** The end of the first game also has [[spoiler: Edgeworth's mentor]] behind bars.
** This even counts for flashbacks: [[spoiler: Diego Armando]] in the third game took over the mentor duties over one of his collegues when the actual mentor failed to show up for her first case. He ended up hooking up with her... [[spoiler: and then being poisoned to almost-death by her evil cousin.]]
** In ''Apollo Justice'', [[spoiler: Apollo actually puts his own mentor in jail]] in the first case.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' quickly puts Cloud in charge of AVALANCHE and the OlderAndWiser Barret Wallace under his command. Barret is [[BoisterousBruiser not necessarily the most reliable of mentors.]]
** ''VII'' actually completely subverts this trope, Cloud is (as far as the story knows) the most experienced party member and is in fact the guy that tried and failed to stop TheBigBad the last time he showed his face, yet is allowed to lead the party anyway because he's still the most suited for the job.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' continues this with Quistis Trepe, who starts out as Squall's instructor. She's already on thin ice by the time you meet her for not being able to control her students and gets her instructor's license revoked after the raid on Dollet early in the game. Officially, this is because she "lacks leadership qualities," though unofficially it's because the [[AbsurdlyPowerfulStudentCouncil disciplinary committee]] threw its weight around after she teased their leader. However, this only demotes her to being a normal [=SeeD=], and somewhat subverts this trope in that Quistis, despite being upset over getting a demotion, actually seems happier to have the bureaucracy out of her way and returning to [=SeeD=] field work. She also has seniority over Squall up until events past Disc 1 in which Squall eventually gets promoted to leadership roles because of his proven ability to take control in difficult situations. As they are roughly the same age and both considered prodigies, this is not so surprising.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' has an odd version of this in Auron, who actually ''succeeded'' in bringing his first summoner, Braska, to Zanarkand to perform the Final Summoning and is helping a new party, including Tidus whom he is mentoring, to do the same thing with a new summoner, Yuna, Braska's daughter. However [[spoiler: by not stopping Braska and Jecht from sacrificing themselves to Sin as the pilgrimage traditions dictate, Auron failed to bring an end to Spira's cycle of death, and now is attempting to help Tidus end it.]] He never really gets demoted, but the concept is still there in that the mentor figure that is theoretically more powerful than the main character is still forced into a subservient role instead.
** Justified: Yuna is the one giving orders to Auron (and the rest of the party), and Auron's role as a guardian ''is'' to take orders from her, as the summoner.
** Also, Auron clearly has no interest in taking the leading role. Perhaps because [[spoiler:[[DeadAllAlong the dead shouldn't lead the living]]]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance'' has Marche's mentor Montblanc gladly hand over the keys to the clan after a single tutorial battle.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsA2'' does the same thing with Cid, though he's actually given a plot reason to back down from leadership. He still hands over the clan to Luso who, like Marche, is actually a normal schoolboy with little combat experience.
** Although, to be fair, luso kinda lends himself to being charismatic/somewhat endearing and full of potential, even if Cid is unimpressed it does help to gain new members.
* ''VideoGame/LiveALive'' subverts this with Hash and Uranus, with a WhamEpisode.
* Titania of ''FireEmblem Path of Radiance'' is first Ike's mentor and boss, and after his father [[TheObiWan dies]], she becomes Ike's subordinate. Unlike many examples of this trope, Ike's youth and inexperience is actually a source of conflict and some of the mercenaries quit over it (Ike ''himself'' thinks this is too sudden). Titania and those that remain do so by choice. Titania also doesn't get demoted - she still has her "second-in-command" position, she just changed bosses.
* ''{{Growlanser}} II'' includes several returning characters from ''{{Growlanser}} I''. Many of them, including the first game's hero, end up OverratedAndUnderleveled, serving under the command of the new main character - who just recently graduated from the military academy. The game even {{lampshade}}s this in the script, in a brief scene where the ''{{Growlanser}} I'' hero reassures the ''{{Growlanser}} II'' hero that he'll do fine despite his relative inexperience.
* A variant occurs with ''{{Lifesigns}}''; Suzu-sensei probably ''should'' have been fired. She's an alcoholic with some serious mental instability who puts her obsession with her [[spoiler:boss and]] unrequited love above her responsibilities as a surgeon, placing her squarely under the "too emotional" category. Who picks up the pieces of her FreakOut and proves to be a better doctor in the process? The hero, Tendo. Afterwards [[spoiler: it's hinted that Suzu quits, although this isn't entirely clear.]]
** It's even worse in the JP-only prequel, where she's a hopeless drunk who hangs around in the basement drinking and [[spoiler:attempts suicide at one point.]]
* Captain Anderson in ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' is your commanding officer at the beginning of the game, but once you become a Spectre he steps down and takes a desk job because a Spectre must have their own ship and the ''Normandy'' is too awesome not to give to the first human Spectre. (Though [[FridgeLogic you'd think]] that they'd just reassign Anderson to a different ship.) However, at the end of the game [[spoiler:you have an option of making him the first human Council member]].
** A few discussions imply that while Anderson could get another posting, he'd rather take the desk job and be able to support Shepard rather than leave him alone to deal with Ambassador Udina. Later events in the games prove him right.
*** It's also implied Anderson has been on the Citadel for several years serving in an advisory role.
* In another BioWare game, ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', [[spoiler:Teirn Loghain has this done to him for killing the King and undermining the war efforts. Another choice is to have him killed.]]
* Third BioWare example. ''Technically'' the whole Star Forge hunt in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' is being led by Bastila Shan. This quickly degrades into "leading only on paper" as your character is able to take command of the situation and your RagtagBunchOfMisfits who mostly ignore Jedi authority.
** Somewhat subverted in that [[spoiler: Bastila was never meant to be the leader rather than a supervisor to the player character, brainwashed Dark Lord Revan. Their skills and memories were what were meant to and did lead the mission. It's that forced role of a glorified babysitter for someone far more important than herself (coupled with torture, naturally) what made her fall to the dark side by the end of the game]]
* ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' has Lieutenant Aric Jorgan, your first commanding officer in the Republic Trooper class storyline, who blames you for more or less everything that goes wrong, right up until [[spoiler:your entire squad defects]]. The Republic demotes him as a result in order to be seen as doing something, turning him into your first companion character and subordinate. He's not necessarily happy about the demotion, but he is happy to actually be doing ''something'' about the [[spoiler:defectors]], so he follows your orders well enough. At the end of Act I, when the PC is [[RankUp promoted to Captain]], General Garza offers you to appoint one of your organic squadmates (i.e. either Jorgan or [[DefectorFromDecadence Elara]]) to [[NumberTwo Squad Lieutenant]]--if you pick Jorgan, he tries his best to hide how happy he is about that.
* ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs 3}}'' strangely takes the two ''most'' experienced party members, Jet and Clive, and demotes them both to taking orders from Virginia, a complete newbie at combat, let alone Drifter work, as soon as everybody's tutorial is finished. Because they like her pep talks.
** Not that Jet will admit it. While they follow her orders, they do so only if they agree with them. In several instances they flat out refused to do something Virginia proposed on the grounds of it being unforgivably dumb and suicidal and steered her towards a more reasonable choice without making it look like they were taking charge. In the end, the de facto leader is Clive, as Virginia near-constantly defers to his authority when he disagrees with her, because she trusts his judgment more than her own.
* ''VideoGame/LufiaIIRiseOfTheSinistrals'' gives us the record-setting example of General Selan, who practically within ''seconds'' of meeting Maxim--a scruffy traveler who became famous by recovering a stolen crown from two idiot thieves--is ordered to take orders from him.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' gives us the Necromancer, Jade Curtiss. When he first joins your party, he is level 45, hitting for hundreds of damage while your other two characters are around level 7. Shortly thereafter his magic is mostly sealed, reverting him to a more manageable level, and allowing the spoiled brat hero to take the lead again.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Uncle Iroh from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' used to be the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation and a famed general known as "The Dragon of The West". After his only son was killed in the siege of Ba Sing Se, he abandoned the battle and was disgraced, his younger brother Ozai usurping his inheritance. Iroh voluntarily accompanies Zuko in his exile, becoming his mentor and a true father figure to the prince. Despite his ''much'' greater wisdom and experience he willingly serves under Zuko's command, having to stand by and helplessly watch him do stupid things like sailing into Fire nation waters.
** That's mostly because [[JustEatGilligan if Iroh took a more serious effort in helping Zuko to capture Aang, it'd be over and done with by the second episode]]. [[spoiler:As a member of the White Lotus Society, Iroh is actually working to ''help'' the Avatar.]]
*** Even without this, Iroh knows that keeping Zuko away from his father (and he's only allowed to go back to his father if he captures the avatar) is the only thing that can make him a better man.
** Either subverted or not technically this trope in that you meet him after his demotion and in fact before he is established as being demoted in the first place. You don't get a hint that he was ever in a higher rank than Zuko (rather than just being a teacher to a nephew who is at a higher rank simply because he's also the Prince of the Fire Nation) until 3 episodes in.
** Interestingly, in season 1 he appears as the Obi Wrong from the Fire Nation. And what is he asked to do in the GrandFinale?
** Anyway, Iroh is the EccentricMentor, not the Obi-Wrong, because he's ''aware'' that it's not his job to save the world. So he is the mentor to Zuko, but knows his place. Obviously he used ObfuscatingStupidity to keep Zuko from succeeding because he wanted to open Zuko's eyes about the wrongness of the Fire Nation. But even after [[spoiler:Zuko's HeelFaceTurn]], he will send everyone to the fronts they are needed on, and counts on Aang to win the decisive battle.
* On ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice,'' [[BlackBossLady Amanda Waller]] was demoted from her position as warden of [[TheAlcatraz Belle Reve]] after the events of "Terrors," her first appearance. [[spoiler:Turns out this was the villains' main goal, with her replacement, [[PsychoPsychologist Hugo Strange]], being in on the whole thing]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* In most armies, a platoon is commanded by junior officer in his early twenties who's just finished his training. The most experienced member of the platoon will almost always be his second in command, the platoon sergeant. Even in larger units, until you get up to the level of regiments and brigades (commanded by senior colonels or generals), the person with the longest, most illustrious military career will probably be the senior enlisted man, not any of the officers.
** One reason for this is that it's quite difficult to take care of both the tactics and admin/discipline side of leading a platoon. They're also mutually incompatible to an extent, tactical leadership requiring a certain distance from the men but admin and discipline requiring a closer relationship. Therefore the officer deals with the relatively easy tactical side of things (whilst learning from the sergeant who will have learnt a fair bit of this himself) and the sergeant takes the job that requires more hands-on experience and a closer working relationship with the men.
** Another reason is that commanding a platoon is where officers start their career, and when they are promoted, they rise to higher levels of command (company or battalion), to be replaced by another young officer fresh from military academy. In contrast, a lot of the non-coms will lack the training and education to be commissioned officers and thus are stuck at being senior sergeants and the like.
** It depends a bit on the era, though. In the 18th century, for instance, the age difference could be even greater as the most junior officers (ensigns, cornets) in various European could be as young as 14-to-15, while many of the enlisted men would be twenty or older when they first joined up, and so an officer would be likely to be more experienced than a ranker of the same chronological age. And officers tended to continue to serve longer (if they survived), generals into their seventies.
* If a sports player steps in for an injured player and consistently plays better than that player, they are usually given the starting spot, while the injured player becomes a backup.
** It's also common in professional sports for the primary backup to a key position (like a quarterback in football) to be a highly experienced older player, while the starter is a younger rising star. Even if the younger start gets demoted to the backup position, it's always expected to be temporary, and part of the older player's job is to be a mentor to the younger one, who's seen as the future of the franchise.
[[/folder]]
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