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->''"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."''
-->-- ''Literature/DavidCopperfield'', opening lines

In many genres, we expect the story to be told from a specific PointOfView, with a certain character role that is expected to be TheProtagonist. Some writers like to mix it up by choosing someone that does ''not'' have the central role in the story and tell the story from their perspective. This is the Supporting Protagonist: someone who would normally be a secondary character by conventions of the genre but is actually the main character in the story. When done correctly, this provides a PointOfView other than what's typical. When done wrong, it can easily lead to the character becoming TheLoad.

In many cases, this means choosing someone other than TheHero to be the protagonist. For instance, the story follows the BigGood as they watch TheHero on their adventure. In this case they are also the SupportingLeader. In another case the story could follow the SideKick as they support the hero. The third case is Supporting Protagonist ''being'' TheHero, but ''not'' TheChosenOne. It can also be that we follow this protagonist for much of the story, but the one who gets to resolve the in-story conflict [[NonProtagonistResolver is not him/her]].

In a {{mystery|Fiction}}, it means choosing someone other than the detective. In a RomanceNovel, it means choosing someone other than the (fe)male lead. In HistoricalFiction, it means choosing someone other than the important historical figure.

It's common in Japanese works with a supernatural touch (LightNovels, FishOutOfWater scenarios, etc.) in order to have somebody to spout exposition to. In RealTimeStrategy games, this usually happens in conjunction with NonEntityGeneral.

A sister trope to ADayInTheLimelight, where just part of the story doesn't center around the expected protagonist, and FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator, in which the character is not the protagonist at all, but is the narrator of the story.

Compare {{Deuteragonist}} and HeroOfAnotherStory. Contrast with HeroProtagonist and DecoyProtagonist (the character who appears at first to be TheProtagonist but is not). See SecondaryCharacterTitle, when the character the work is named after isn't the protagonist.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Koyomi Araragi from ''LightNovel/{{Bakemonogatari}}'' is the main character and plays a key role in the arcs, but it's often the girls themselves who are the focus and have to solve the problems themselves in the end.
* Rock in ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' starts off as a FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator to the Lagoon company and Revy in particular, but as the story progresses he gets a considerable amount of CharacterDevelopment while going from TheLoad to a GuileHero.
* In ''Manga/BloomIntoYou'', we're initially led to believe that we'll be following Yuu's love story with her senpai, Touko (and we do, to a degree). However, the more we follow Yuu's story, the more it's made clear that it's Touko who fits the bill as a romance protagonist, given how she is actively pursuing Yuu and is often the one who reacts like a romance heroine whenever she's around her LoveInterest. Eventually, [[spoiler: when Touko's deep self-esteem issues are brought to light]], Yuu is the one who takes action to help Touko.
* ''Anime/BubblegumCrisis'': While Priss is the face of the series, the narrative has more to do with her leader, [[SupportingLeader Sylia Stingray]], who serves as [[MegaCorp the Genom Corporation's]] chief opposition. Though the series was cut short before it had the chance to delve into her past, and reveal that [[spoiler: [[TransHuman she may not be human]]]].
* ''Manga/CodeBreaker'': Sakurakouji Sakura is the viewpoint character of the series. Despite being quite important due to her status as a Rare-Kind, much of the manga focuses around [[AntiHero Ogami]].
* ''Anime/DigimonAdventure02'': While Daisuke/[[DubNameChange Davis]] maybe the one who saves the day with his partner at the end of the two halves of the season, the story focuses more on Ken Ichijouji, who is the focal point in all of this.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** Yes, Goku is undoubtedly the main character, but there are times when Gohan is more the protagonist, especially considering the series focused a great deal on his character development. Whenever Goku's written out in some way (recuperating, ill, dead, training, etc), chances are, Gohan takes over as the main character, particularly for the Namek saga (pre-Frieza fight), Garlic Jr. saga, the Cell Games (where he [[spoiler:defeats the main villain]]), and was meant to take over as the lead for good in the Majin Buu saga (with the beginning of the arc told from his perspective), but Goku returned nonetheless. Gohan's importance wanes by the very end of the series, like everyone else in the franchise not named Goku.
** Trunks, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Krillin all step into the protagonist role in roughly equal measures in the early Cell Saga as Goku recovers from an illness, with each one having a distinct arc: Trunks wants to avert his BadFuture and impress his father and grows increasingly frustrated with his seeming inability to do either; Vegeta just wants to [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou become stronger than Goku]] no matter who he has to step on to get there; Piccolo ends up re-fusing with Kami in an ultimately futile attempt to destroy Cell, [[GodzillaThreshold which renders the Dragon Balls inoperable for a while]]; and Krillin is assigned to [[ShootTheDog terminate #18 before Cell can absorb her]] but [[InLoveWithTheMark ends up falling for her instead]].
** Also Trunks and Bardock are the leads of their respective TV specials, with Goku making little more than cameos in each. Also, Gohan once again takes over as main character in a couple of the films (with Trunks and Goten as major supporting characters). The final film focuses more on Trunks than anyone else, even with Goku back.
* In ''Anime/ErgoProxy'', Re-l Mayer is the protagonist for the first two episodes, after which the story will shift back and forth between her and Vincent Law, TheHero [[spoiler:and eponymous character]].
* Lucy of ''Manga/FairyTail''. Of the main cast members, Natsu is definitely TheHero: he's got [[IdiotHero the]] [[HeroicSpirit personality]], is the most likely to take action, and is the one most likely to fight the main villain of the arc (the exception are either when another character has a closer association with the villain, or Natsu is so outclassed only the strongest members of his guild can take him). However, Lucy is the one that plot follows the most, meaning she is either the protagonist or at least co-protagonist.
** In-universe, Lucy is a writer and it's hinted a few times that the novel she's working on is about ''Fairy Tail''. So it's likely that ''Fairy Tail'' is her story... about Natsu.
* Saito from ''LightNovel/TheFamiliarOfZero'' is the "Familiar of Zero" in the title. Zero herself is the one directing the story.
* Eiji Shigure in ''Anime/{{Gravion}}''. Though the story is mostly told through his viewpoint, he's only the leg of the eponymous CombiningMecha. He later graduates to the chestplate of the MidSeasonUpgrade.
* Megumi Aino/Cure Lovely of ''Anime/HappinessChargePrettyCure'' can be seen as filling this role as a lot of the story focuses on Princess Hime/Cure Princess and her MustMakeAmends backstory. However, Megumi makes up the lack of major focus by being very good with her powers, and she gets a lot more focus in the final arc of the anime.
* Tomoki from ''Manga/HeavensLostProperty'' sort of fits this; although he's the center of the harem, and it's hinted at that he's TheChosenOne, the drama is largely surrounded the angeloids, and the one who's actually trying to solve the mystery of Synapse is Sugata.
* Kagome of ''Manga/InuYasha'' is the main character, and view point character, of the series. Despite that, the plot focuses more on Inuyasha who does the fighting and has a more personal reason to fight Naraku. However Naraku himself specifically notes, that it's Kagome, not Inuyasha, that he has reason to fear because she can purify the sacred jewel while Inuyasha can only find the shards.
* Tylor in ''Anime/IrresponsibleCaptainTylor'' is inscrutable, as no one can tell whether he's a lucky idiot or a [[ObfuscatingStupidity genius]]. Yuriko and Yamamoto tend to be the viewpoint characters.
* In ''Anime/JewelpetHappiness'', Chiari might be the human protagonist, but the most important thing she does is help out at the Cafe, while the story is really about Ruby's mission to collect the Magic Gems.
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure''
** Koichi in Part 4. Koichi get more screentime in the story, almost as much as the main character Josuke. He is the first new character that appear in the story and his popularity is such that also appear at the beginning of Part 5.
** Bruno Buccellati in Part 5. He leads his own sub-gang and is the first to lend meaningful support to protagonist, Giorno Giovanna. A lot of the story focuses around him rather than Giorno.
* Nanami is the main character of ''Manga/KamisamaKiss'' and we see the story from her point of view. However, a good deal of the plot tends to focus on Tomoe and his DarkAndTroubledPast and for most of the story so far Nanami has relied upon Tomoe's powers and abilities for protection and to accomplish her goals.
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' has [[CharacterTitle Reborn]], whose job is tutoring the main character Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada. And Tsuna has to solve his conflict by himself, with some help of his guardians and Reborn.
* While Nanoha might be the title character of ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'', the focus of the series has always been more about the people around her (for example, the first and second seasons were about Fate and Hayate respectively). This also happens in the SpinOff ''Anime/VividStrike'', which focuses far more on Rinne than it does on Fuka.
* ''Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic'' has an interesting subversion. Aladdin is the viewpoint character and TheChosenOne, but he is meant to ''choose'' the next king, Alibaba, who is the more traditionally [[TheHero heroic]] character and the AllLovingHero. However, they are also {{Deuteragonist}}s to each other.
* The PowerTrio of Arika, Nina and Erstin aren't the real protagonists of the ''Manga/MaiOtome'' manga - it's Mashiro[[spoiler:'s twin brother]].
* ''Manga/MakenKi'': Takeru is both the main character and {{the hero}} of the story, but most conflicts are resolved by others. Most often [[{{deuteragonist}} by Himegami]].
** Such as during the Venus arc, where she was abducted and held hostage. Takeru and his friends battled the Venus unit to try to save her. But in the end, Himegami [[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/23/34/ freed herself]] and was the one to battle her captor's chief agent, [[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/24/6/ Martha Minerva]]. Which left Takeru frustrated and ashamed that [[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/25/20/ he hadn't been able to help]].
** She also defeated [[BigBad Ouken Yamato]], near the end of the [[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/53/21/ Okino]] [[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/53/22/ Island saga]]. Whereas Takeru had only been able to match Ouken, yet [[ImplacableMan unable to finish him]], despite his best efforts.
* Zenkichi from ''Manga/MedakaBox''. He's the primary viewpoint character and male lead, but it's Medaka who acts as TheHero, and converts previous antagonists to allies. He becomes more and more important to the plot, and is also her MoralityChain. [[spoiler:The BigBad of a later arc even lampshades this, stating that he's the type that that's always supporting someone else, never the main focus]].
* ''Manga/MobileSuitCrossboneGundam'' pulls a bit of zigzagging with this trope. While Tobia Arronax is the POV character, it is [[TheAce Kincaid Nau]] (alias [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamF91 Seabook Arno]]) who is the main pilot of the titular HumongousMecha and is responsible for most of the victories of the [[SpacePirate Crossbone Vanguard]]. However, during the final parts of the story, Tobia comes into his own following a string of moments of badassery, finally gets his own [[SuperPrototype Gundam]], and winds up saving the world; while Kincaid is put into the role of the SupportingLeader. In the end, Kincaid retires, PassingTheTorch to Tobia, who goes on to become a fully-fledged main character in ''all'' of the sequels.
* Athrun Zala fills this role in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'', being TheMentor to DecoyProtagonist Shinn, and following the midseason perspective switch, {{foil}} to [[TheHero Kira]]. The story's told from his point of view for most of the series--and even more so in the compilation movies--and its his interactions with the other two that define the show.
* Saji Crossroad, during the second season of ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00''. The heroes are, of course, Celestial Being. [[spoiler:Saji also pilots the support machine for the eponymous mobile suit which acts as the catalyst]].
* While Kou Uraki and the Albion crew in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam0083StardustMemory'' are the protagonists, the OVA places more focus on Delaz, Gato and Cima. [[spoiler:As well as the masterminds behind the Titans from ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'']].
* Nozaki may be the titular character of ''Manga/MonthlyGirlsNozakikun'', but we're mainly following the story from the perspective of Chiyo and her experience in working as an manga assistant for Nozaki and the escapades they get into to better understand shoujo manga.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** While Luffy is the protagonist and his dreams are still the primary MythArc, the stories often focus on larger implications and conflicts such as the balance of the Great Powers. While Luffy always takes on the BigBad, there are times when the main character arc is someone else(i.e. Ussop in the Syrup Village arc, Nami in the Arlong Park arc, Vivi in the Alabasta Arc)
** Trafalgar Law, King Riku, Kyros, and Rebecca in the Dressrosa arc all have much more direct axes to grind with Doflamingo than Luffy does, but all ultimately yield to him the duty of actually taking him out.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'': While the series was running, [[WordOfGod Gen Urobuchi]] outright stated that, while the series has her name in the title, Madoka is actually meant to be a supporting character, and the true protagonist is Sayaka. [[spoiler: This is not ''[[TrollingCreator entirely]]'' true. While Sayaka is the most traditionally heroic character, Madoka remains the primary viewpoint for the majority of the series]]. Once the series was over he admitted that in reality [[http://wiki.puella-magi.net/Otona_Anime_Vol.20#Summary_of_Staff_Comments Homura]] is more accurately the real protagonist.
* In ''[[Manga/RainbowNishaRokubouNoShichinin Rainbow]]'', Mario is the main character despite Sakuragi being TheHero and BigGood. One could also say that Sakuragi is the main character at first [[spoiler:until he dies]], and the role ''then'' goes to Mario.
* Sota Mizushino from ''Anime/ReCreators'' is the viewpoint character and male protagonist, but he is a real-life person surrounded by fictional characters that have come to life, which means he has to rely on his friends for protection, especially [[TheHero Celejia]]. He even straight-up admits in the beginning that the story is not about him, even if he is the main character.
* Tsukune Aono from ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'' is the viewpoint character and male lead, but as a NonActionGuy early on he generally relied on his friends for protection, especially [[TheAce Inner Moka]]. Even after he TookALevelInBadass, he remained a TechnicalPacifist, though he's become much more of a HeroProtagonist in recent chapters. In addition, while he does grow into TheHero, Moka and her family become the primary focus of the story.
* Jun from ''Manga/RozenMaiden'' is this to Shinku; he's the master of Shinku (though she treats him like a servant), Hinaichigo (indirectly) and Suiseiseki [[spoiler:and in the manga, eventually Souseiseki as well]], but he himself is a NonActionGuy most of the time, though he can provide useful support from the sidelines. Justified, since he's a human child and an unathletic {{hikikomori}}, and both the heroes and the antagonists are superpowered dolls.
* ''Manga/RuinExplorers'': Ihrie and Fam are the eponymous explorers, but the series has more to do with Prince Lyle and his quest for vengeance against Rugudurull, for the massacre of his people and [[spoiler: his fiance]]. The girls simply team up with him to help him out, since [[spoiler: Ihrie knows the only spell that can bypass [[InvincibleVillain Rugudurull's defenses]]]].
* ''LightNovel/{{Shimoneta}}'': Tanukichi gets drawn into the narrative shortly after a chance encounter with [[ManicPixieDreamGirl Ayame Kajou]], while she's disguised [[SecretIdentity as 'Blue Snow']]. This event inspires her to create [[LaResistance SOX]] and draft him as its first member. From then on, Tanukichi provides commentary on Ayame, the people they meet, and their group's actions.
* Sakuragi from ''Manga/SlamDunk''. He is definitely the main character of the story, with his development becoming more and more important to the plot. However, Rukawa and Akagi fit the hero mold better, as the Team Ace and Captain respectively. They are often the ones who carry the team.
* ''LightNovel/SoICantPlayH'' mainly focuses on Lisara's search for [[ChosenOne the fabled "One"]], said to possess the power to potentially save [[AnotherDimension Grimwald]]. Whereas her partner, Ryosuke, spends half the series [[NonActionGuy on the sidelines]] watching her fight, unless he's needed to [[EnergyDonation recharge her energy]]. Even after he gains possession of [[spoiler: the legendary sword, Ghram]], Lisara remains the series' heroine.
* Everybody in ''Anime/SonicX'' Season 3, plays this towards Cosmo the Seedrian. As it turns out in the second-to last episode, she was destined to die from birth.
** Prior to this, most of the cast, especially Chris usually played this to Sonic, who despite being the main hero, often got the least spotlight and development each episode.
* A variation in ''Manga/SoulEater''. Despite being the eponymous character, Soul is TheLancer, and the story's protagonist role is taken up mostly by [[TheHero Maka]]. Then we have Black Star, who ''thinks'' he's the Hero because he's a loud-mouthed egomaniac but on Maka's [[TheTeam team]] he's more likely to fill TheBigGuy role and yet he has such [[WarriorTherapist textbook]] [[DefeatMeansFriendship shounen]] traits when he rescues Kid from the Book of Eibon.
* ''LightNovel/SpiceAndWolf'' is a story about Holo as experienced by Lawrence. She provides the [[DeadpanSnarker comedy]] and [[PleaseDontLeaveMe drama]], and Lawrence provides the [[IWatchItForTheEconomics economics]] and [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming hugs]].
* ''Manga/SuperDreadnoughtGirl4946''[='s=] main and title character is Mana Eimiya, but the story is told from the perspective of her {{muggle|s}} love interest Tobita.
* Simon takes this role in the first third of ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', up until [[spoiler:Kamina dies]]. In this case, however, it's not a viewpoint shift, but the viewpoint character becoming the protagonist as he comes into his own.
* The first season of ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' is the story of 25th Baam. The second season is the story of Ja Wangnan, who meets the [[BrokenBird new]] [[TookALevelInBadass Baam]] five years later.
** However this might now be with the way the second season is a going a Averted trope. [[spoiler: After the Workshop Battle Ficus and view point has almost completly shifted to Baam and Koon like back and season one with the prime [[MythArc Myth arc]] of season 2 is currently finding the truth behind Baams true power]].
* For the first few eps. of ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'' we mostly see Vash from Meryl's point of view, and don't even get confirmation he is the real Vash the Stampede for some time. This doesn't last- we get very deep in Vash's psyche by the end.
* ''Manga/UchiNoMusumeNiTeODasuNa'': While Athena is [[ActionMom the main heroine]] of the series, the narrative has more to do with [[{{Deuteragonist}} her daughter]], [[RookieRedRanger Clara]], since Athena has to protect her without being seen. Which means, subjecting herself to Deepthroat's sexual harassment to keep them from [[VirginTension getting to Clara]].
* ''Manga/YugamiKunNiWaTomodachiGaInai'' has [[IJustWantToHaveFriends Chihiro]]. While the plot revolves around both her and [[LonersAreFreaks Yugami]], much of the story tends to focus on events in Yugami's life while Chihiro mostly serves as the {{Narrator}}.

[[folder:Audio Plays]]
* ''AudioPlay/{{Gallifrey}}'': Narvin is unambiguously stated by the series' creator to be the protagonist, since everything that happens revolves around him, and he's the only character who cares more about the plot than about his own personal goals. However, his role to the story is a supporting one.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheAutumnlandsToothAndClaw'' Dunstan, our viewpoint character, is simply a young noble who follows around the legendary warrior out of a sense of admiration and duty.
* ''ComicBook/StarWarsTagAndBink'' follow the adventures of two bumbling rebels during the events of the ''Film/StarWars'' films. They also turn out to be Jedi Padawans during the events of the prequels.
* Jed from the ''ComicBook/StarRaiders'' graphic novel. He starts off as one of the three main characters, but halfway through the story he's sidelined into irrelevancy.
* Creator/ArtSpiegelman (or at least his AuthorAvatar) in ''ComicBook/{{Maus}}'' as the story follows him and his attempt to record his father's experience throughout [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the Holocaust]]. However, the story is clearly about his father Vladek and his Holocaust experience.
* By the end of the story, despite their name being in the title, it's pretty apparent that ComicBook/TheAvengers in ''ComicBook/AvengersVsXMen'' are there to punch people and provide a "down in the trenches" viewpoint. The actual main characters are [[TragicHero Cyclops]], [[TheAtoner Scarlet Witch]], and Hope Summers, with input from Emma Frost and, oddly enough, Iron Fist as well.
* This was a bad problem with Sonic in [[ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog his own title]] between the end of the ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' arc and the start of Ian Flynn's run as Karl Bollers and Ken Penders were really notorious on focusing on those ''not'' named Sonic.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/ACertainUnknownLevel0'': While Kamijou Touma is the title character of the story, most of the time the story [[ADayInTheLimelight focuses more on the supporting/minor characters]], and less focus on him.
* Although Clopson is the protagonist of [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/124263/1/songs-uncle-sings/sineva Songs Uncle Sings]], Breeze is obviously the main focus of the story.
* In the main story of ''Fanfic/TheLegacyOfTheBloodRavens'', Nathaniel Augustine, Ocella Lyon, and Nikephoros were all supporting protagonists. However, as the story went on (and [[AnyoneCanDie people died]]) they grew to become true protagonists of their own.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/Cars2'' has Lightning [=McQueen=], protagonist of the first, falling into this as his buddy Mater becomes the center of a espionage plot and thus the focus of the movie.
* In ''Disney/AladdinTheReturnOfJafar'', Aladdin is the moral centre of the story, but the true protagonist of the movie is Iago, who gradually defects from Jafar.
* ''WesternAnimation/SongOfTheSea'' has Ben, who despite the fact that he's the central character, it's his sister, Saoirse, who's the important one.
* Tip is considerably the main protagonist of ''WesternAnimation/{{Home}}'', but the story deals with Oh's CharacterDevelopment [[TookALevelInKindness in learning empathy towards other species]]. Same can be said about ''WesternAnimation/{{The Boss Baby}}'', Tim Templeton is the protagonist, yet the story puts more emphasis on Boss Baby (aka, Ted) and his mission to save Baby-Corp from a competitive crisis in the hands of Puppy-Co (with Tim helping him out).
* In the second half of ''Disney/WreckItRalph'', Ralph's story tends to take a backseat to Vanellope's. But even that was eventually overtaken by Calhoun/Felix's.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSeventhDwarf'' is mostly an adaptation of "Literature/SleepingBeauty," but focused on a sidekick who has to help the LoveInterest break the princess' curse.
* Judy Hopps may be the central character of ''WesternAnimation/{{Zootopia}}'', but it doesn't stop Nick Wilde from taking up a good chunk of the film as well, resulting in an equally fleshed out, if not an even more loveable character than Judy.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheHiddenFortress'' tells the story of the noblewoman and her guardian from the perspective of ThoseTwoGuys.
* ''Film/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead''. This trope is the point of the story, which is to show the events of ''{{Hamlet}}'' from the POV from ThoseTwoGuys.
* Jack Burton in ''Film/BigTroubleInLittleChina'' thinks he's the ActionHero, but he's really the PluckyComicRelief while his companions do all the real work. WordOfGod says this is the point of the movie. (At the very end, he does finally help out and even [[spoiler:kills the BigBad]].)
* ''Film/LastActionHero'' has the KidHero realizing he's comic relief, right as he attempts to use his ContractualImmortality against a villain.
%%* ''Film/RoadToPerdition'': Michael Jr.
* ''Film/TheShawshankRedemption'': Andy's story drives the action, but it's Red's evolution as a person that turns out to be the point of it all, making him the "main" character. Made all the more obvious in that he, not Andy, is the narrator.
* While Holly Golightly is definitely the main character of ''Film/BreakfastAtTiffanys'', her love interest Paul Varjak is the protagonist.
* ''Film/TheSorcerersApprentice'': Dave Stutler is the main character, but Balthazar Blake does the traditional heroic deeds. Interestingly, he's also the MentorArchetype.
* ''Film/{{Transformers}}'': Sam is the main character, but Optimus Prime is TheHero.
* ''Film/{{Thor}}'': Thor is TheProtagonist, but the story is very much framed by Jane's point-of-view.
* ''Film/MaryPoppins'': Mary drives the plot, but it's ultimately about George Banks and his realization that he's gotten so wrapped up with his work that he's forgotten about his family, particularly his children Jane and Michael. This is what the title of ''Film/SavingMrBanks'' refers to, as author P.L. Travers explaining this to Creator/WaltDisney is a major plot point.
* The poster of ''Film/DeepBlueSea'' has Dr. Susan [=McCallister=], whose shark experiments inspires the plot. But it's hard to argue that the protagonists aren't shark wrangler Carter and [[ActionSurvivor cook]] Preacher, [[spoiler:to the point both are the only survivors]].
* ''Film/FerrisBuellersDayOff'': Cameron Frye is the character who experiences the most development through the film. AlternativeCharacterInterpretation / EpilepticTrees even goes as far as suggesting that Ferris is merely the manifestation of Cameron's personal desires, and doesn't actually exist.
* Franchise/{{Batman}} becomes this in both the [[Film/{{Batman}} 90's movies]] and ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga''. He arguably carries the first movies in both series just fine, but in the sequels, he becomes overshadowed by the colorful cast of villains, allies, and love interests. In the ''Dark Knight Saga'', for instance, half the villains aren't even defeated by his hand.
* WordOfGod describes Spock as this in both this in ''Film/StarTrek'' and its sequel ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness''.
* ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn'' is shot from Colin Clarke's point-of-view, though it's clearly all about Marilyn Monroe.
* The first three films in ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' are about Will and Elizabeth's journeys and are primarily told from Elizabeth's point-of-view. However, they get less attention in favor of Captain Jack's story.
* ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'':
** Even though WolverinePublicity is in full effect, Charles is the true protagonist of the film. [[spoiler: Wolverine even gets taken out before the climax]].
** [[spoiler:Mystique]] is presented as a villain throughout the movie, but her motivations (to kill the man who tortured and murdered her friends) are heroic, and she's the one who saves the day and stops [[spoiler:Magneto]] at the end.
* WordOfGod describes Marty [=McFly=] as this in the [[Film/BackToTheFuture first]] and [[Film/BackToTheFuturePartIII third]] ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'' films, with his parents Lorraine and especially George getting the most development in ''Part I'', and Doc getting it in ''Part III''.
* ''Film/{{Cloverfield}}'': Rob is the protagonist of the film, but the majority of it is seen through the POV (literally, thanks to the Found Footage gimmick) of Hud.
* ''Film/SuperMarioBros'': While Mario has the most CharacterDevelopment and ultimately defeats King Koopa, making him TheHero, much of the plot revolves around Luigi and it is largely his story.
* ''Film/TheFinalCountdown'': Warren Lasky is the point of view character throughout most of the film, but contributes little to the development of the plot; the heroic roles are played by Captain Yellen and Commander Owens. Lasky is, rather, the unwitting key to the StableTimeLoop.
* ''Film/TheManWhoWouldBeKing'': Peachy is the protagonist and the narrator of the story, but the story is really about Danny, "the man who would be king."
* In ''Film/{{Hoffa}}'', the based on a true story about the tough Teamsters Union leader in bed with the Mafia is seen through the eyes and actions of his best friend, played by Danny Devito.
* Despite being the titular character and the main protagonist of the ''Franchise/MadMax'' series, Max serves this role starting from ''Film/MadMax2TheRoadWarrior''. He's the titular character and the focus of the films, but he's never the hero of the story, instead showing up as a hired hand for the real hero (a la Han Solo in the original Star Wars). Most blatant in ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'', where Furiosa is TheHero who has a quest, goes on a HerosJourney and [[spoiler:defeats the BigBad]], while Max tags along and keeps her from getting killed.
** Max becomes more of a catalyst for the plot, in every case the actual hero wouldn't have gotten anywhere without Max being in the right place at the right time. The people in the Refinery were fighting a losing war of attrition and couldn't escape until Max offered his services and Furiosa's quest would likely have failed early on if Max hadn't gotten caught up in it and swayed to her side.
* In ''Film/ExMachina'', [[spoiler:though we see most of the movie from his perspective, Caleb is ultimately just an UnwittingPawn in Ava's escape plan. The movie's true conflict is between Nathan and Ava]].
* Though The Man With No Name is the star ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars'', ''Film/ForAFewDollarsMore'' is Colonel Mortimer's story, and ''Film/TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly'' is Tuco's.
* ''Film/TheSandlot'': Scotty may be the narrator, and the plot focused on him losing his father's rare Babe Ruth ball, but Benny is more of the hero than he is. It's even worse in the sequel, where Johnnie is the narrator but David is the true protagonist and Hayley the deuteragonist.
* ''Film/TheForceAwakens'', [[spoiler: Although the movie ultimately sets up Rey as TheHero, much of the film is told from Finn's perspective. In fact, after the crash-landing on Jaku, Finn is technically TheProtagonist of the film up until the climax]].
* The hero of ''Film/TheThirteenthWarrior'' is Buliwyf, leader of the group of Norse warriors (which includes point of view character Ahmed ibn Fadlan, the 13th warrior) and is the one who eventually kills the two Wendol leaders.
* ''Film/GleahanAndTheKnavesOfIndustry:'' Mark isn't the title character, and doesn't do as much to advance the plot as Gleahan or Penelope, but the story revolves around him.

* The narrator of Author/ETAHoffmann's "Das Majorat" ("The Entail") is a 20-year-old law student, Theodor, who accompanies his great-uncle, V., to the Baron von R.'s castle, where V. banishes a ghost, and Theodor falls in love with the Baron's wife and tries to play the hero, only to realize that he has no idea what's going on in the R. family and is of no importance. After they leave, V. tells the story of the last 35 years of the R. family's history which he's been a continuing part of.
* ''Literature/SherlockHolmes'''s [[TheWatson Watson]] may be the most famous case of this in history. Although it's averted in a few stories where Holmes himself narrates when Watson is unavailable.
* Parker in the ''Literature/SolarPons''. Being a pastiche of Watson, this is all too natural.
* [[TheVoiceless Chief Bromden]] is the UnreliableNarrator of ''Literature/OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest'', but the primary conflict is between [=McMurphy=] and Ratched.
* By the end of the ''Literature/{{Midnighters}}'' trilogy, the protagonist role has shifted largely to Dess, the FiveManBand's resident [[TheSmartGuy Smart Guy]].
* ''Literature/TheTrailOfCthulhu'' is a novel that is made up of 5 interlocking stories. Each story has its own protagonist, but Professor Shrewsbury is the hero of the main narrative.
* Nick Carraway may be the narrator, but ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby'' is really all about Jay Gatsby.
* Beth from the children's book ''The Best Christmas Pageant Ever'' and its sequels
* Scout from ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird''. Most people agree that the true hero of the story is her father, Atticus.
* Bryan starts out as one of these in the teen series ''[[Literature/DramaSeries DRAMA!]]'', but by the third book he's become the focus of the story. This is [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] repeatedly.
* The protagonist of ''Literature/{{Aimee}}'' by Mary Beth Miller is not the eponymous Aimee, in fact the protagonist is not given a name until the last few pages. [[spoiler:It's Zoe]]. She is the girl who was accused of killing Aimee (when in fact Aimee killed herself). The book is all about the protagonist trying to detach herself from the shadow of Aimee's death.
* [[ActionGirl Vin]] from ''Literature/{{Mistborn}}''- she's the main POV character, but the story itself centers more on her mentor [[RebelLeader Kelsier]]. [[spoiler: Subverted when Kelsier is killed near the end of the first book, after which Vin shoulders the role of both protagonist and [[TheHero heroine]] for the remainder of the trilogy, and invoked again when it turns out the prophecy about the Hero of Ages, the one destined to save the world, was about Sazed all along]].
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** Sam Vimes is an interesting example. He ''became'' TheHero of the Watch novels, but when Creator/TerryPratchett wrote ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'' he thought Carrot was TheHero, and Vimes was a handy pair of eyes to see him through.
** At the end of ''Discworld/MonstrousRegiment'', Polly realises that [[spoiler: Joan-of-Arc-equivalent Wazzer]] is the one everyone will really remember.
* The Dickens novel ''Literature/OurMutualFriend'' is presented partly through the viewpoint of Mortimer Lightwood. As the family's lawyer Lightwood has a linking position between the hero and heroine, and is also connected to Eugene Wrayburn, but he has little direct impact on the action until fairly late in the story. In the 1990s BBC adaptation, he also functioned as the narrator.
* In ''[=SkyClan's=] Destiny'', one of the novels in Literature/WarriorCats, Leafstar is the perspective character, however Stick is the main character and the story centers around his struggles with the [[OffscreenVillainy evil]] Dodge.
* While ''Literature/TheTigersWife'' is framed as a story about a doctor delivering medicine to an orphanage at the same time as she's trying to find out some facts about her grandfather's death, the grandfather is really the central figure of the novel.
* Creator/JackMcDevitt's ''Literature/AlexBenedict'' series is narrated by Chase Kolpath. (All except the first novel.)
* In ''Literature/ASwiftlyTiltingPlanet'', Charles Wallace [[BodySurf goes Within various people from the past]], so he essentially witnesses their stories, and only is it implied that he's even influencing their action. We assume he ''is'', because that's the point of the body surfing, but his action is reduced. Then, when Charles finally reaches 1863 he possesses Within Matthew, a paralyzed young man in New England... who is having a vision of where the ''real'' action is taking place: [[spoiler: Vespugia, South America! There is the big fight that the entire book has been building up to]].
* In ''Literature/TheSupernaturalist'', while Cosmo is the protagonist, the story is about Stefan.
* Ishmael may be the protagonist of ''Literature/MobyDick'', but the real star of the show is Captain Ahab and his quest for vengeance against the eponymous whale.
* Charlotte starts off as the viewpoint character in the ''Literature/MediochreQSethSeries'', and scenes are generally written from her point of view if she's available. However, she's still a SideKick to [[TheHero Mediochre himself]].
* ''Literature/SongAtDawn'': The story begins with Estela and follows her most of the time but Dragonetz is more important to the overall plot.
* ''Literature/TrappedOnDraconica'': Ben is the protagonist but all he does is follow [[TheHero Daniar]] and watch her fight evil.
** ''Literature/LegacyOfTheDragokin'': Benji, Daniar's son, likewise. The story follows him but he is less involved with the plot than his namesake because he is not sought after.
* [[HistoricalDomainCharacter Xenophon]] is TheHero of Michael Curtis Ford's ''The Ten Thousand'', but the protagonist and narrator is his slave, Themistogenes of Syracuse, a character Ford created for the novel (unlike Xenophon, who [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophon was a real person]]).
* According to WordOfGod, in ''Literature/WillGraysonWillGrayson'', both Wills are just sidekicks and the story is actually about Tiny.
* In the second trilogy of [[Literature/{{Dragons}} The Last Dragon Chronicles]], David spends far less time in the limelight as opposed to the other characters.
* Brazilian duology ''O Caçador de Apóstolos''/''Deus Máquina'' uses it. The point of view character is not important as a warrior or politician, he's just a writer who used to create false prophecies for one side of the conflict, and now is supposedly telling the truth (still with a few embellishments) in a book, [[spoiler: which he promptly burns as he finishes, since no one can know the truth]].
* Parodied in ''Literature/SirAproposOfNothing''. Apropos starts out this way, but eventually parts ways with the supposed true hero. The next time they meet, he chucks a rock at the hero's head and takes the story by force. The final time they meet, the hero tries to get revenge on Apropos, but is killed by the King's army before he can kill him.
* ''Literature/AMagesPower'': Eric spends the first half of the story following Basilard, his superior in the mecernary guild, on missions. Then he becomes Kasile's {{sidekick}} in her court/political shenanigans. The story follows him the whole time but only on two occasions does he set the agenda.
* ''Literature/ThreeActTragedy'' mostly follows the perspective of Mr. Satterwhaite, but the "star of the show", so to speak, is Literature/HerculePoirot'' (whom the former lured into the investigation).
* ''Literature/JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth'' is told from the point of view of Axel, but the story largely revolves around his uncle, Professor Lindenbrock.
* In ''Literature/TerraIgnota'', while Mycroft is the point of view character and plays an important role in nearly every plot, he insists that Bridger is the protagonist since Bridger has the power to change the world while Mycroft does the menial work on the sidelines.
-->I am the window through which you watch the coming storm. He is the lightning.
* ''LightNovel/CookingWithWildGame'' begins with some guy being saved by Ai Fa, an orphan (''ding'') BarbarianHero (''ding'') who is exceptionally skilled at just about everything (''ding'') and the last surviving member of a proud clan (''ding'') but due to a DarkAndTroubledPast (''ding'') is [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer ostracized by her tribe]] (''ding''). You'd expect her to be the chosen one- or at least that the setting would have a chosen one- but instead it's a fluff-filled story about Asuta persuading the tribe to accept him. Ai Fa acts as his guardian and artistic patron.


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Mark Hollander, in ''Series/AceLightning''.
* The revived series of ''DoctorWho'' is often told from the companion's POV
* ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' is told from the point of view of John Watson, at least in the beginning. He later becomes the {{Deuteragonist}}, and we get [[InspectorLestrade Lestrade]], [[TeamMom Mrs. Hudson]], [[NiceGirl Molly]], [[AloofBigBrother Mycroft]], and later [[RetiredBadass Mary]] as the Supporting Protagonists.
* ''Series/{{Merlin|2008}}'' plays with this trope, as it is Merlin's story, and he really does seem to be the ChosenOne, but once you step back and look at what he's been chosen ''for''... His entire purpose in life, his reason for existing at all in the threads of Destiny is to protect Arthur. Arthur's destiny is to be the greatest king Albion has ever known. Who's the ChosenOne now?
** By the start of series 5, Arthur is KingArthur, with a CoolSword, HotConsort and BadassCrew seated at the Round Table. Merlin is still standing around somewhere in the background.
** Even stranger is what happens in the GrandFinale. The SeriesGoal of the entire show was always stated as being Merlin and Arthur uniting Albion, legalizing magic and ruling over the Golden Age. And yet the show ends with [[spoiler:Arthur dying and Merlin going into self-imposed exile]], leaving Queen Guinevere to assume their responsibilities. Assuming that she did indeed inherit their destiny and achieve all that they were originally supposed to do, then hindsight makes her the most important character within the show's narrative.
* The finale of ''Series/AshesToAshes'' reveals that [[spoiler:both Sam Tyler and Alex Drake are supporting protagonists for Gene Hunt]].
* While ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' always has the Red Ranger be TheHero, sometimes they're not the one with the biggest connection to the overall plot:
** ''Series/PowerRangersTimeForce'': Red Ranger Wes may be the focus of the ScrewDestiny subplot, but he's still a civilian caught up in a fight that's not strictly his business. It's Pink Ranger Jen who's [[TheLeader the official team leader]] and who has a personal stake, as the BigBad killed her fiancee. The third subplot is a romance between the two, but it can be considered more Jen's story than Wes' because of the HeartbrokenBadass angle. The story supports this considering that it is Jen who ''is'' in fact the main confronter of the villain in the finale.
** In ''Series/PowerRangersSPD'', Jack is the Red Ranger, but the story is more about the Blue Ranger, Sky, dealing with his issues and evolving into a worthy team leader. Alternately, Commander Cruger is the show's focus, as he's the team's commanding officer and the one who has a personal rivalry with the BigBad.
** Dillon is one of the main focuses of ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'', even though he's the Black Ranger, as he's an amnesiac searching for his identity and his missing sister ([[spoiler:now TheDragon]]). A case can also be made that MissionControl Dr. K is the actual main character, as she created the BigBad and gets the most CharacterDevelopment throughout the season.
** In ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' as in ''Power Rangers'' the Red Ranger is always the hero, but in ''Series/NinjaSentaiKakuranger'', Tsuruhime (White) was the protagonist and most central character.
* Despite being the title character of ''Series/{{Castle}}'', Richard Castle is the Supporting Protagonist to [[FairCop Kate Beckett]]. There's even the Literature/SherlockHolmes comparison: she's a brilliant detective while he follows her about and writes stories about their adventures. Their relationship is central to the show, Castle helps mellows out the emotionally-distant Beckett, and there's oodles of UnresolvedSexualTension. While the show may take his perspective on events, provides a lot of focus on his family life and furnishes him with a fair bit of CharacterDevelopment as well, the main overarching arc of the series surrounds Beckett's mother's murder, and he's clearly the PluckyComicRelief LoveInterest to her BrokenBird HardboiledDetective.
* ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'' has Stefan. He is the second protagonist of the series with Elena being the main protagonist.
* ''Series/UltramanNexus'' focuses on the life of Komon Kazuki, a member of the Night Raider team. However, he does not transform into the eponymous hero, making him this trope. [[spoiler: But he ''does'' become Ultraman in the series's finale and thus, ditches this role]].
* Done in a couple of ''Franchise/KamenRider'' series:
** ''Series/KamenRiderHibiki'': Asumu is the protagonist, while Hibiki is the main hero and Oni (Kamen Rider) of the show. [[spoiler:WordOfGod has it that Asumu was originally to have become an Oni himself at the end of the show, but this [[WhatCouldHaveBeen didn't happen]], and even if it had, he still wouldn't have been TheHero for the main run of the story]].
** ''Series/KamenRiderKabuto'': Tendou is TheHero but Kagami is the POV character and main protagonist. Tendou shares more traits in common with a typical secondary/supporting Rider.
* Boyd Crowder has become this in ''Series/{{Justified}}'', so much so that he had almost equal screentime to Raylan in season 4 so far, even though it was several episodes before they saw each other for the first time in the season and that their stories finally intersected. Now they're competing to find [[BigBad Drew Thompson]], and solve the seasons MythArc.
* Sookie becomes this in ''Series/TrueBlood''. She's clearly the central character in Season 1 and half of 2, but as the show moved away from [[Literature/TheSookieStackhouseMysteries the books]] where she's the first-person narrator, this distinction became increasingly murky until entire plotlines would start and conclude with no involvement from her at all. This trope was the strongest and most justified in Season 5, as Anna Paquin was pregnant at the time.
* While Sam is TheChosenOne in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' with the MythArc of the story largely focusing on him, the story is told from his older brother, Dean's point of view. An odd case in that Sam was supposed to fill both roles (he starts out with all the traits of an AudienceSurrogate) but Dean quickly ended up being the POV character and the show ended up focusing on Dean's reactions to the plots and events surrounding Sam.
* ''Series/MadMen'' gives the most focus to Don Draper. Yet there's also the character arc of Peggy Olson, who in the first episode gets a low job at Draper's agency and through the series evolves into a respected businesswoman.
* ''Series/Daredevil2015'' gives the primary focus on Matt Murdock, since he's the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. But there's also the character arc of [[Creator/DeborahAnnWoll Karen Page]], as she goes from being a secretary mentored in investigative reporting under Ben Urich, to a seasoned journalist at the ''New York Bulletin''. Significant portions of Karen's storyline also happen with minimal to no involvement from Matt.
* While Leo is technically the protagonist, Adam, Bree, and Chase are the true heroes of ''Series/LabRats''.

* Music/{{Eminem}}'s song ''Stan'' is about his LoonyFan who went [[SanitySlippage into the deep end]].
* Music/LilyAllen's song ''Alfie'' is about her showing and voicing her concern ([[TakeThat in a]] "[[AffectionateParody harsh and sweet way]]") over her titular brother on what he is doing with his life.
* The music video for [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUvhAPs38RA DJ Play My Song (NO, LEAVE ME ALONE)]] shows that the DJ is the protagonist, but the majority of the song is sung by the woman who won't stop annoying him.

* Judas in ''Music/JesusChristSuperstar''.
* Mark in ''Theater/{{Rent}}''. He's the central character, but most of the story revolves around his seven friends.
* Veta in ''Theater/{{Harvey}}''. Her brother Elwood is the best friend of the titular character, but the entire plot revolves around Veta's efforts to take care of the giant rabbit.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The central [[Franchise/MetalGear Metal Gear canon]] is rife with this. While Solid Snake is the iconic hero of the series, the games all centre around the villain Big Boss and his impact, yet he is only occasionally played as:
** In ''VideoGame/MetalGear'' and ''[[VideoGame/MetalGear2SolidSnake Metal Gear 2]]'', he acts as BigBad, acting as a terrorist with nuclear arms and malicious intentions. Following Big Boss' death in ''[=MG2=]'', villians moved on to "[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid The Sons of Big Boss]]" (clones created from him), "[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty The Sons of Liberty]]" (terrorists continuing his goals), and "[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots Outer Heaven]]" ([=PMCs=] enforcing his beliefs).
** On the flip side, you get to play as Big Boss in his pre-"terrorist" days in ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater MGS3]]'', ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker Peace Walker]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain MGS5]]'', meaning he gets recognized as the [[VillainProtagonist series' key character]] for only 1/3 of the central canon.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/DragonQuestV. It appears that, unlike in ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIV'' and ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVI'', the protagonist isn't a chosen hero as he cannot equip the Zenithian Equipment; it's actually [[spoiler: his son that can]]. Still, you are in a lead and in a full control over the said hero. This mean you can subvert the trope by ditching the character completely, or play it straight by putting yourself in the reserve and let the chosen fight. Either way, the final boss is killable.
* Monkey in ''VideoGame/EnslavedOdysseyToTheWest''. The narrative revolves around Trip as Monkey supports Trip on her journey home and her quest for revenge of the one responsible for the annihilation of her village. [[spoiler: It's Trip that kills the main antagonist, Pyramid]].
** Enslaved is loosely based on the Chinese novel ''Literature/JourneyToTheWest'', in which this still holds true; ostensibly, it's about a priest named Tripitaka [[CaptainObvious traveling westward]] to retrieve sacred documents. In practice, it's about Sun Wukong the Monkey King and all the awesome shit he does while he's forced to help Tripitaka on his journey.
* Tidus in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' is an interesting case. The bulk of the game is that the characters are playing supporting roles in Yuna's quest. They, including Tidus, are merely her guardians while ''she'' is destined to defeat the BigBad. However, Tidus is the game's narrator, and often points out how, "ThisIsMyStory." Indeed, the very first line of the game is, "Listen to my story." We eventually learn that [[spoiler:Yuna defeating the BigBad would get her killed while it would just come back later, and it's Tidus's destiny to truly kill the thing]]. Thus, Tidus and Yuna ''swap'' being TheHero and Supporting Protagonist multiple times throughout the game: starting with Tidus as the hero, then switching to Yuna, then back to Tidus, and finally ending with Yuna.
** In [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2 the sequel]], Yuna gets full control of the protagonist role. Even when other characters look like they're going to usurp her role as TheHero, Yuna slaps them back down and says "No. [[MeaningfulEcho This is my story]]."
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'' has the player character often playing second fiddle to a (usually female) hero NPC in most of its storylines, doing the heavy lifting while the heroines magically appear wherever you go and have most of the interactions with other characters that the player character would have in most single player games.
* Vaan is the Supporting Protagonist to Ashe (and possibly Basch) in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', though Balthier would have you believe different. By his own words, he's "Just along for the ride."
* Fang and Vanille are the true protagonists of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'', but largely thanks to her being featured heavily in the marketing and being a personal favorite of the director, Lightning is largely viewed as the main character. Despite playing virtually no role in the story.
** Taken further in the sequel ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2''. Lightning has been promoted to Goddesshood and made the overarching protagonist for the XIII universe, but doesn't appear in the game outside the intro. The game is instead played from the point of view of her sister trying to find her. Making Lightning a Missing Protagonist(?). Lightning doesn't finally don the mantle of full protagonist status until the 3rd game, ''VideoGame/LightningReturnsFinalFantasyXIII'', where she is the sole playable character.
* Allegretto of ''VideoGame/EternalSonata'', in the same vein as Vaan of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', is most definitely this to not one, but two possible protagonists - Polka, a girl from a remote village who is the [[spoiler:MessianicArchetype catalyst for the GroundhogDayLoop that the world is trapped in]], and Chopin, who claims that everything and everyone around him is merely one of his dreams. The latter's appearance in their world [[spoiler:is destined to end the loop of Polka repeatedly dying/reliving the same seven years over and over]]. Other than being the player avatar (and even then, that role is switched between him, Polka, and Beat) and acting as Polka's love interest, Allegretto doesn't do much in the main story itself.
* ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' ''Dark Dawn'' has Sveta as its most central playable character, followed by [[TheHero Matthew]], then Amiti, followed distantly by everyone else.
* ''VideoGame/{{StarCraft|I}}'' is about Arcturus Mengsk, Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan, Tassadar, and Zeratul, whereas the PC is just some [[NonEntityGeneral generic, nameless "magistrate", "cerebrate", "executor", or "captain"]] (in the ''Brood War'' expansion). WordOfGod has retconned that the Executor of Episode III was Artanis, and presumably the Executor of Ep IV was him or his student Selendis (who is Executor in ''VideoGame/StarcraftII''). The other player characters get fleeting references in the expanded universe to confirm that in the current canon they still exist, but their roles are downplayed because, well, they were always little more than viewpoints for the player to see the characters. The UED captain of the ''Brood War'' Terran Campaign, and the two cerebates of the Zerg campaigns are explicitly stated to be dead by the time of ''VideoGame/StarCraftII'', however. The captain died when the Swarm annihilated the UED fleet during its retreat back to Earth; the first cerebrate was killed between Episodes II and III by Zeratul, Tassadar, and Raynor; and the second cerebrate was murdered by Kerrigan between ''VideoGame/StarCraftI'' and ''VideoGame/StarCraftII'' when she purged the Swarm of all remaining cerebrates.
* ''VideoGame/WorldInConflict'' has a named PC, Lt. Parker, but the real protagonist of the 2/3 of the game is Capt. Bannon (who receives ALL of the CharacterDevelopment in the game), while the remaining one third focuses on Webb and Col. Sawyer. Same goes for Lt. Romanov from the ExpansionPack, who plays a secondary role to Capt. Malashenko and their common superiors.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend''. Eddie acts like he's one of these and purposely avoids the spotlight, but everyone else knows he's responsible for their success and thank him appropriately.
* The main character in the ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' plague campaign is Aribeth, the player is just the lackey that got sent to do stuff for the political powers he sided with.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty 4: VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' is not about Soap or Jackson, but much rather [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking Cpt. Price]], [[TheAce Gaz]], [[BigGuy Sgt. Griggs]], and strangely enough, [[BigBad Zakhaev]].
* For reason of having a HeroicMime protagonist and a strong supporting cast, [=GLaDOS=] is the star of ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'', though Chell is the protagonist. You could go the whole game - perhaps even both games - without ever learning her name, or [[ProtagonistWithoutAPast any other reliable fact about her]].
* ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' himself. Zero's the one with the most drawn-out, and important, storylines in the series, [[WriterRevolt which is what Keiji Inafune, his creator, originally intended the series to be]]. [[WordOfGod Keiji Inafune]] planned for ''Maverick Hunter X'' to be a ContinuityReboot of the series. So, naturally, said VideoGameRemake ''is'' an exception. Unlike the majority of fan adaptations, it does not expand Zero's role and instead develop X's character.
* Laura's scenario in ''VideoGame/UnlimitedSaGa'' is told through the eyes of Henri, a displaced Prince who meets her while running from assassins.
* Lloyd in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' in a way similar to ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. It seems the story is more focused on the young girl on a pilgrimage and whom Lloyd is just friends with. [[WhamEpisode Then comes]] [[PlayerPunch the Tower of Salvation]], where the situation causes him to take charge onward.
* ''{{VideoGame/Persona}}'': The player character is this in both routes, as the SEBEC route revolves around [[spoiler:Maki coming to grips that she created an alternate reality that's trying to overtake the real reality]] and the Snow Queen route revolves around Yukino's attempts to save Ms. Saeko.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfLegendia'' has character quest chapters, which [[CharacterFocus switch focuses on every characters in the party]]. Long story short, Senel is demoted to this between the main quest and the very late portion of the game.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts: From The New World''. Shania appears to be the more important character, with Johnny Garland just tagging along... then it becomes clear who, exactly, Lady is, and ItsPersonal.
* The protagonists in the ''[[VideoGame/ExaPico Ar tonelico]]'' series are generally secondary to the Reyvateils, who are more important in resolving the game's conflict. This is especially the case with Croix in ''VideoGame/ArTonelicoIIMelodyOfMetafalica''.
* Nintendo-owned developer Intelligent Systems did this in some of the few games they made with western players in mind.
** In the original ''VideoGame/BattleClash'', the player controls the gunner of a giant robot known as a "[[AMechByAnyOtherName Standing Tank]]". The actual protagonist is the robot's pilot, who talks to the player directly before each battle. In the sequel, ''Metal Combat'', there's a cheat code that allows the player to have the pilot [[HelloInsertNameHEre address them by name]].
** In the original ''VideoGame/AdvanceWars'', the player takes control of an unseen military strategist who is assisted by a Commanding Officer (C.O.) in each battle. This was dropped in the sequels.
** In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheBlazingBlade'' (a.k.a. [[SequelFirst the first game in the series to get an overseas release]]), the player takes control of a faceless tactician who assist the real protagonists, giving the protagonists an excuse to address the player in second-person. This is the only ''Fire Emblem'' game that does this, although...
*** Later games, the enhanced remake of the third game, ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemMysteryOfTheEmblem Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem]]'', and ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' feature a player created unit that can be used in battle and, at least in ''Awakening'', plays a major role in the story.
** Also in ''The Blazing Blade'', there's an extra mode that is unlocked after you beat the main game: Hector mode, where the axe-wielding lord that normally plays TheLancer to [[TheHero Eliwood]] becomes the main character. However, in the grand scheme of things, Eliwood is still the central character regardless of who's the protagonist.
* ''VideoGame/StarOceanTillTheEndOfTime'': Fayt serves as point of view character, but he and Cliff follow Nel's lead while they're stranded on Elicoor II, since they weren't familiar with her world. Which lasts until just after the Vendeeni attacks Aquaria. At that point, [[TheCaptain Maria]] enters the picture and assumes [[TheHero the lead role]], with Fayt and the others acting as her support.
* While the plot of ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' certainly incorporates Mario, Peach, Bowser, and Luigi, the main story focuses on the romance of Blumiere and Timpani [[spoiler: and in the end they're the ones who save the {{Multiverse}}]].
** In ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory'', the game is really about Bowser forced to become a hero and saving the Mushroom Kingdom while Mario and Luigi secretly help him on the (in)side and saving him due to Bowser being both TheChewToy and TooDumbToLive. Furthermore, [[spoiler: Bowser is the one who finishes off the FinalBoss]].
** A non-RPG ''Mario'' example would be in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'', where Mario is just there to fly through space as an attempt to save Peach again from Bowser, who wants to take over the galaxy, but this is actually just a subplot. The game is really about a young woman's TearJerker tale of her constant wandering through the cosmos with several little star-people as her only friends while lamenting about the loss of her family since her departure. Mario's side is there because you need something to do in the game, as Rosalina's story doesn't translate at all into gameplay, which is why it's all told in a storybook.
* ''VideoGame/TheLordOfTheRingsOnline'' has its central epic quest line, in which you follow along with the characters in the story and run errands for them. So far, every epic "Book" ends with your watching [=NPCs=] finish the fight.
* Done rather annoyingly in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft: Cataclysm''. [[spoiler: Most of the ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom'' {{expy}} chain in uldum involves the character grabbing hold of a major IdiotBall, and getting saved by Harrison over and over again, while he does the impressive feats, you're either cowering in fear or doing his grunt work]].
** This is common in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''. While the player character does his fair share of heroics, most of the major story arcs have another character with a more important role in the story (due to the issues having a faceless character who could be of any race from either faction as a major character would cause). For example, Tirion Fordring is the true protagonist of ''Wrath of the Lich King''. The player character is one of his followers.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 2|CursedMemories}}'', Adell is clearly the protagonist, but Rozalin is the one who gets all the character development and plot twists, and [[spoiler:she is ultimately the one who vanquishes Zenon]].
* The Rookie in ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'' only begins to affect the story in the last two levels: the rest of the game is spent reliving the experiences of the rest of the squad in the six hours the Rookie was unconscious. The story is largely about Dare and Buck. He explores the MythArc though.
* Lars in ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}} 6''. He may command an entire army, fight waves of soldiers bare-handed and [[CutscenePowerToTheMax deflect missiles with his wrists]], but the Mishima family are the ones doing all the important stuff while Lars runs around punching folks.
* The FacelessProtagonist of ''VideoGame/ThePKGirl'' is a Supporting Protagonist to Laurie in the main plot. Laurie is the focal character, as the LivingMacGuffin and the target of the antagonist, and her attempts to get free of ROSA's clutches drive the plot; the PC's just the guy who does the fighting, heavy lifting and rescue work, and otherwise he's along for the ride. If he's chasing any girl besides Laurie (who is romanced through the main plot), he becomes the protagonist of his own RomanceSidequest, but only two [[RomanceSidequest Romance Sidequests]] tie back into the main story in any way after they start off [[spoiler: (Katryn's and Saffy's)]].
* Ryu of the ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' series. While he is the main character, his role in the [[AllThereInTheManual stories]] of most of the games tends to be minimal; at the most, he is a LivingMacGuffin. [[AllAmericanFace Guile]] was the focus of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterII'' due to his motives against Bison, while [[GentleGiant Abel's]] mysterious origins serve are the focal point of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV''. ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII'' has [[WrestlerinAllofUs Alex]] replacing Ryu as the protagonist. Within the series as a whole, most of the major heroic acts are done by [[SupportingLeader Chun-Li]] while Ryu is [[ToBeAMaster focused on finding strong opponents]].
** The ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha'' trilogy as well as ''VideoGame/StreetFighterI'' are the only installments in which Ryu has any importance to the story, even having the most developed endings.
* Tact Mayers of ''VideoGame/GalaxyAngel''. Although he's the captain of the Elsior which is a capital ship all the work is done by the angels.
* Leo from ''VideoGame/ZoneOfTheEnders'' has a personal journey, but the focus moves more towards the larger conflict and he's ultimately an insect to the villain. He gets the focus on his journey but the true hero is already dead at game start and his journey is just a small part of the much larger story he was sucked into.
* The various {{AFGNCAAP}} player characters of ''VideoGame/AceCombat'' have been this ever since the series steered away from {{Excuse Plot}}s (around the time of ''VideoGame/AceCombat3Electrosphere''). Nowhere is this more obvious than in ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'', where the entire game is told from the perspective of the enemy aces you shot down and your ex-{{wingman}} [[spoiler:whom you also shoot down]]. TheNarrator even admits in the end that despite telling the whole story, he still has no idea just what kind of person the Demon Lord of the Round Table was.
** The only exception to the above thus far is ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizon'', which at least attempts to give the player character (who actually has a personality this time) some CharacterDevelopment.
* ''VideoGame/SilentHill4'' focuses on the serial killer Walter Sullivan, but the hero and protagonist is Henry Townshend.
* As the title suggests, the expansion ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheBalladOfGayTony'' focuses on Tony Prince, but the view point character the player controls is his right-hand man Luis Lopez.
** Earlier than that was the [[MissionPackSequel Mission Pack Prequel]] ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoLibertyCityStories'', which has Toni Cipriani as the player controlled protagonist, despise the entire game revolving around him assisting Salvatore Leone's rise to power.
* Ash in ''VideoGame/PhantomBrave''. Marona is the focus of the plot, but Ash is who you directly control during downtime and the story is mainly told from his perspective.
* Artyom in ''VideoGame/{{Metro 2033}}''. Most of the time he is merely following someone more experienced and last part of the game is him essentially helping people who know what needs to be done. He himself does not have much of a goal beyond "Get to Polis", after which he starts following people who react to his news. In ''MetroLastLight'', he starts having his own agenda and becomes a classic protagonist.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'' averts this for the most part with Commander Shepard, who is both the protagonist and the hero. However, Shepard takes the passenger seat during Loyalty Missions (to squadmates), in ''Lair of the Shadow Broker'' (to Liara) and ''Omega'' (to Aria and, to a lesser extent, Nyreen). Shepard's role in those stories is, essentially, to shoot things. And, if [[TheParagon Paragon]], to act as a MoralityChain to many of them.
** Shepard also acts as an escort rather than a leader during ''{{VideoGame/Mass Effect 3}}'s'' Tuchanka arc. The real hero is [[ScienceHero Mordin Solus]] (or Padok Wiks if the former didn't survive ''[=ME2=]''), who develops the cure for the genophage while Shepard is busy shooting things, [[spoiler:and sacrifices his life to ensure its delivery]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'': Locke plays this role to Terra in the early part of the World of Balance. It's not until she gets her memory back and learns to control her power that she starts acting like the protagonist and making suggestions about the party's next course of action.
** Celes then becomes this in the World of Ruin, being in the ending, the perspective character focusing on Terra, the focus character.
* ''VideoGame/InjusticeGodsAmongUs'': For most of the story, the [[{{Franchise/Batman}} Batmen]] are the main characters but the real hero is {{Franchise/Superman}}. As the Batmen lead the assembled heroes to defeat the Regime, Superman attempts to get to the alternate universe to save his friends. By the end of the story, the Batmen realize only Superman is capable of defeating the BigBad, who happens to be alternate Superman [[FallenHero who became evil]]. Once Superman makes his debut, [[CurbStompBattle he kicks everyone's asses]].
* The UpdatedRerelease of the original ''VideoGame/EtrianOdyssey'' puts you in the shoes of a highlander recruited by the Radha in order to investigate the Yggdrasil ruin. However, the subtitle of the game, ''Millennium Girl'', refers to Frederica Irving, an [[LaserGuidedAmnesia amnesiac]] gunner whom you awaken from a capsule while exploring a different ruin that's connected to the one you're searching. Your goal is twofold: assist the investigation team and unlock the secrets of the ruin, and help Frederica regain her lost memories.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'':
** In a sharp departure from the previous and later titles in the series, ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]''[='s=] main quest is less about the protagonist than about Martin Septim, the [[HiddenBackupPrince illegitimate son of the late emperor]], who matures and grows into his new role of Tamriel's leader, [[spoiler:before [[HeroicSacrifice giving his life]] to banish [[BigBad Mehrunes Dagon]] from it forever--as expected of a true Septim]]. As later installments show, history has a much better memory of Martin than of the PlayerCharacter, who fills the role of TheLancer and/or a HypercompetentSidekick.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]''[='s=] ''Dawnguard'' DLC, the Dragonborn shifts into this role. While they remain the hero, most of the focus is on their vampire companion Serana, the subject of a Prophecy that will lead to [[TheNightThatNeverEnds Eternal Night]], of which is trying to be fulfilled by her father, [[MonsterLord Lord Harkon]].
* Each of ''VideoGame/Fallout4''[='s=] storyline [=DLCs=] has the [[PlayerCharacter Sole Survivor]] stay the hero, but the main story of each focuses on ''another'' character(s)'s journey, with the Sole Survivor's efforts altering some/all of their story. It roughly goes:
** ''Automatron'': [[RobotBuddy Ada]] and her struggle to avenge her friends' deaths at the hands of the Mechanist's robots while also not letting herself get consumed with vengeance.
** ''Far Harbor'': [[NiceGirl Kasumi Nakano]] and her {{Quest For Identity}} in Acadia, [[HardboiledDetective Nick Valentine]] trying to decide on how [[LongLostRelative his "brother" DiMA]] fits into his life, and [[TheAlcoholic Old Longellow]] trying to let go of his past.
** ''Vault-Tec Workshop'': [[MadScientist Overseer]] [[LaughablyEvil Valery]] [[VillainProtagonist Barstow's]] to create even ''more'' sociopathic Vault-Tec experiments to inflict upon random Wastelanders.
** ''Nuka-World'': [[TokenEvilTeammate Porter]] [[AffablyEvil Gage's]] wish to properly unify the Nuka-World Raiders so as to get rich by [[RapePillageAndBurn ravaging the Commonwealth]].
* The main reason Trahearne in ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' is so disliked is because the story ''starts'' with the feeling that the player character is TheHero, perhaps even the ChosenOne, but then Trahearne suddenly appears -- completely out of nowhere for non-sylvari players -- and steals the spotlight, relegating the player to the SupportingProtagonist role.
* Eva and Neil are the playable characters in ''VideoGame/ToTheMoon'', but they function mostly as part of the FramingDevice; the story is ''about'' Johnny and River, slowly discovered by the two doctors.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars''
** In spite of not technically having a "canon" or a proper finale, Fei Yen HD typically plays an important role in a number of stages in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsUX'' all the same, often obtaining new attacks or abilities along the way, capped off during the Fafner finale when she gains the Emotional Wave IBS.
** Ultimately, the chosen protagonist of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsV'' is this towards Nine who has a bigger presence to the plot, undergoes a massive CharacterDevelopment, interacts with the cast far more than the protagonist, and [[spoiler: has ties to the BigBad]]. Meanwhile, the subplot for the protagonist is more of their rivalry between Ghuli, Jamie, [[spoiler: and the other protagonist]].
** This applies not only to the protagonist, but the Original Generation plot in ''Super Robot Wars V'' as a whole. The role of primary hero of the story actually goes to the [[Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato2199 Yamato and her crew]]. Much of the game revolves around their quest to save the Earth and in fact the Cosmo Reverse System becomes vital to save all three Earths. By comparison, the OG protagonists are treated with about the same importance as all the other series's involved, and the OG villains are treated as just another obstacle in the heroes way, no different than the Gamilas or the Myceane. [[spoiler: Souji/Chitose don't even get to deal the final blow to [[BigBad Nevanlinna]]. That honor, once again, goes to the Yamato]].
** With the fairly explicit goal of X-Cross being to defeat [[Anime/MashinHeroWataruSeries Doakudar]], the original protagonist of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsX'' is this to Wataru.
* Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog takes this role in most of the plot-heavy games of his series when they introduce a new character. Sonic remains TheHero and is generally the one who saves the day, but its the other characters that the plots tend to focus on and get the character arcs.
* While both [[OriginalGeneration Kogoro and Mii]] share the protagonist role in ''VideoGame/ProjectXZone'', most of the plot involves Mii going on a HerosJourney to reclaim the [[MacGuffin Portalstone]] from [[BigBadEnsemble Oros Phlox]].
* [[InSeriesNickname Rook]], the PlayerCharacter in ''VideoGame/XenobladeChroniclesX'' falls into this role, with Elma and Lin being the ones the story focuses on.
** Although, the game's many, ''[[LoadsAndLoadsOfSidequests many]]'' sidequests do follow the adventures of Rook, rather than Elma or Lin.
* Max Caulfield is the playable character in ''VideoGame/LifeIsStrange'', but in a sense, the game is really more about Chloe than Max.
* In ''Videogame/WhiteKnightChronicles'', the Avatar designed by the player and used as their point of view character is just a newly hired wine delivery person sent out to assist Leonard with a delivery -- a delivery that Leonard botches. This sets the tone for the rest of the game: the story focuses on Leonard and his attempts to play the hero while the Avatar tags along and does their best to clean up the messes left behind by Leonard's ineptitude.
* Link in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' is less important to the order of events than usual (compared to the Hero of Time in ''Ocarina of Time'' or the Hero of Winds in ''The Wind Waker''). While he is chosen by the gods to carry on the spirit of the hero and Zelda relies on him to help her reclaim her throne and castle, the majority of the story has to do with the Twilight Realm, the homeland of Midna [[spoiler: (who is the "Twilight Princess" of the title)]]. The main antagonist, Zant, has usurped the rule of the Twilight Realm and is serving the whim of [[spoiler:Ganondorf]] by spreading its toxic influence across the land of Hyrule while Midna is determined to restore rightful rule of the realm. Link facilitates that (and becomes a champion of Hyrule in the process) but his contribution ends there.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild'', Link's own quest basically serves as a FramingDevice for the story of Zelda struggling to live up to her duty as the living incarnation of the goddess Hylia in the face of an impending calamity. [[spoiler:She even deals the final blow against Ganon this time]].
* In ''VideoGame/UnderNightInBirth'', OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent Hyde Kido ''is'' nominally the main character of his series (which is why in ''VideoGame/BlazblueCrossTagBattle'' he gets top billing with the clear protagonists of the other three featured series, [[Franchise/{{Blazblue}} Ragna the Bloodedge]], [[VideoGame/{{Persona 4}} Yu Narukami]] and [[WebAnimation/{{RWBY}} Ruby Rose]]) but in fact, the story places a lot more focus on ReallySevenHundredYearsOld RebelliousPrincess Linne and her conflict with finding a way to end the Hollow Nights for good - Hyde is effectively TheLancer to her in this goal.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Most romantic [[VisualNovel visual novels]] are more about the romanceable characters (and one 'true path' character in particular) than they are about the player character. In the Bishoujo setup, the male lead is often either a nonentity, a [[ThisLoserIsYou loser]], or a jerk, and one of the female leads is the real hero. This tends to carry over into their anime adaptations.
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' is both a literal and figurative example: in the Fate route, Shirou is no match for Saber in combat, and instead supports her with projection and, later, mana. Emotionally, it's his job to break through her stoic exterior and make her happy. Either way, Saber is the primary focus, and the driving force of that route.
* ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'': [[spoiler: The point of view that the player takes is June/Akane of 9 years ago, seeing things through Junpei's eyes. This is a very important plot device and technically makes her the protagonist. However, Junpei still fills the conventional role of the hero and once their connection is split at the very end, the perspective of the remaining story alternates between the both of them]].
* In ''VisualNovel/LorenTheAmazonPrincess'', Saren or Eleanor (whichever character you pick) fills this role. The titular Princess is TheChosenOne and the game is about ''her'' quest, while TheHero is along as Loren's personal slave and sidekick.
* This sems to be a recurring aspect in 07th Expansion's works:
** While Keiichi is undeniably TheHero of ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'', [[spoiler:Rika is the person who experiences the GroundhogDayLoop, and the person trying to figure out why she is always killed in the end of every arc]]. Keiichi's just the one who is actively trying to do so, and is unaware of the actual protagonist's plight.
** In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', Battler is the main viewpoint character, especially in the first four arcs. However, [[spoiler:when it comes down to it, the entire story is really about Yasu and Battler's real goal is to understand him/her]].
** In ''Manga/HiganbanaNoSakuYoruNi'', only the first story is about Marie. In the other stories, she either has a supporting role or is merely an observer, and in a few doesn't appear at all. The series is just a [[GenreAnthology collection of individual stories]] taking place in the same school, with Marie's fellow youkai acting as antagonists of sorts.
** In ''VisualNovel/RoseGunsDays'', while each Season follows one or several protagonists (Leo, the Wandering Dogs, Alan and Keith, Jeanne), the core of the story is actually about Rose, her ideals, the people she inspires, and her evolution as a leader.
* ''VisualNovel/RoboticsNotes'': Kaitou is the protagonist and player character, as well the eventual pilot of the robots that are built. However he's mainly focused on helping Akiho with her ambitions.
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'':
** In ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney'', Apollo is the main character according to the title. However, previous series protaginist Phoenix Wright turns out to be far more important to the overall plot, with most of the last case focusing the events that led to his disbarrment 7 years ago and his gambit to reform the legal system ever since. In the grand scheme of things Apollo is more like an UnwittingPawn.
** In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'', Phoenix is back as the title character and has regained his badge, but the overarching plot focuses more on Apollo and newcomer Athena Cykes than him.
** In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice'', the story begins as Phoenix arrives in the despotic Kingdom of Khura'in. However, though the first few cases focus on him dealing with its thoroughly lopsided (even by ''Frachise/AceAttorney'' standards) legal system, while Apollo is handling things back at L.A., ultimately it's Apollo who has the strongest ties to Khura'in and its ongoing revolution, [[spoiler:to the point that the game ends with him moving there]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Raizel of ''Webcomic/{{Noblesse}}'' is always stated as being the hero & main character, despite having little dialog, little characterization, and only one action [[spoiler: dealing the final blow]]. Frankenstein is the focus of the series.
* The webcomic ''Webcomic/HannaIsNotABoysName'' is ostensibly about the unnamed zombie narrator, but the real hero figure is Hanna.
* The Exiles of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' have this going for them. WV, the first Exile seen, is the protagonist of the Exiles and gets the most screentime, but in terms of role in the story, he is surpassed by PM, the one who did more things that were directly relevant to the story.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Surprisingly enough, it was the player characters who fulfilled this roll in the ''[[Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse Global Guardians]]'' "Crimebusters" campaign. The titular "heroes" were a bunch of superhero wannabes whose powers were... to put it lightly... [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway weak, goofy, and generally useless]]. The actual heroes of the story were the more powerful, more experienced [[SuperTeam Global Guardians]], in whose shadows the hapless, eager-but-incompetent Crimebusters always seemed to fall.
* Although Cecil, TheNarrator of ''Podcast/WelcomeToNightVale'', has his moments of action, it's really [[LoveInterest Carlos]], [[MauveShirt Dana]] and [[LittleMissBadass Tamika]] who do the actual adventuring and heroics. Carlos seems to spend his days being a ScienceHero, Dana is on an epic quest, and Tamika is the leader of a huge resistance movement against [=StrexCorp=]... and Cecil, in his booth, tries to support them the best he can. The times when he fails can make for heavy-hitting WhamEpisode stories.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Kai from ''WesternAnimation/{{Ninjago}}'' is the main character of the series yet he is not TheHero nor is he [[spoiler:[[TheChosenOne The Green Ninja]]]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'', Candace and Doofenshmirtz receive more marked character development than the title characters and, in fact, many episodes would be relatively uneventful if they did not focus on their activities.
* Jackknife from ''WesternAnimation/{{Superjail}}'' definitely qualifies-he's one of 4 inmates that are seen from one episode to the next. (the other 2 being the gay couple and Gary and Bird).
* Carmen Sandiego from ''WesternAnimation/WhereOnEarthIsCarmenSandiego'' may be the VillainProtagonist, but we see the series through Ivy and her brother.
* ''WesternAnimation/WanderOverYonder'': According to WordOfGod, while the title character is the main character, [[BigBad Lord Hater]] is the actual protagonist.
* While Mordecai and Rigby are the heroes of most of ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'', the FinaleSeason's StoryArc firmly centers on Pops' role as TheChosenOne.