Judge Parker fell under this trope during the 1960s when the strip shifted focus to attorney Sam Driver and now still does as most of the plots revolve around the exploits of Sam or his rich wife, Abbey, and her adopted daughters Neddy and Sophie. Circa 2008, the original Judge Parker started appearing more often, and became part of a few big plotlines, though largely as a supporting character. His son Randy Parker is a supporting character and, as of 2009, also a Judge now, thus making another Judge Parker part of the cast.
Funky Winkerbean: Funky isn't even seen that often; the strip now focuses much more on Les. This has apparently been true for decades, even back when it was a Lighter and Softer strip, if the stage musical Funky Winkerbean's Homecoming (where Les is the main character and Funky only has two scenes) is anything to go by. These days, it's debatable which is the bigger artifact, the fact that the title character doesn't show up that often or that the title "Funky Winkerbean" suggests the Lighter and Softer strip it was at the start and not the Darker and EdgierDeus Angst MachinaDiabolus ex MachinaCrapsack World for which it's become infamous.
Robotman avoided this, changing the name to Monty after the title character left.
Barney Google And Snuffy Smith has been all-Snuffy, no-Barney for decades. Barney Google didn't appear in the strip between January 1997 and February 2012. Since then current writer/artist has allowed him to cameo for roughly a week per year.
The comic strip Luann for a while seemed to focus almost exclusively on Luann's brother, Brad, and specifically his pursuit of fellow firefighter Toni.
Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip. In its earliest incarnation, she labeled a drawing "Marianne, dissatisfied with her morning brew: Dykes to Watch Out For, plate no. 27", "as if it were just one in a series of illustrations of mildly demonic lesbians". She drew more and more "plates", and kept the title when it shifted to a strip format about various aspects of lesbian culture, and also when it shifted to the serialized format with recurring characters. As the cast grew to include men and people of other sexual identities, Bechdel lampshaded the title by titling a recent collection of her strips "Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-based Life-forms to Watch Out For".
She saw this coming a long time ago, way back in 1992, in fact (The Plot Thickens, #145...one of those "noncanon" ones). Jezanna mentioned the prospects of a transgender character joning the strip, to which Toni replied, "Would we have to change the name of the strip? You know, to 'Dykes and Transgender Persons to Watch Out For?'"
The comic strip Fritzi Ritz became so dominated by Fritzi's niece that it was eventually renamed as Nancy. Yeah, that "Nancy".
Blondie, although still present, hasn't been the central or the funniest character in her own strip since the 1930s, when the strip got a revamp from being a silly strip about a flapper to a domestic comedy about Dagwood. Film versions, and the public at large, refer to the comic as "Blondie and Dagwood", for obvious reasons.
Kudzu came to spend far more time on Rev. Will B. Dunn than on the young man named Kudzu.
Steve Bell's If...... has been published every weekday since 1982. The first two strips were titled If Dinosaurs Walked on Fleet Street..., the next two were titled If Turkeys Could Vote... and that was the last time he played with the title, which swiftly rendered it meaningless.
Terry and the Pirates had an opening storyline at its outset which involved pirates, but Terry soon escaped from them, and the pirate reference in the title was meaningless for the succeeding decades of the strip's run.
Baby Blues still has a baby, but she doesn't get the spotlight half as often as her first- and third-grade siblings.
"Baby" referred to Zoe. That she wouldn't stay that way forever was something the creators readily acknowledged (and in fact made the subject of numerous strips).
According the creators' website FAQ: "The way we see it is that your children are always your babies, no matter how big or old they get. Once a parent, always a parent. And right now we have no plans for having the MacPherson clan expand. Besides, with the amount of room given comic strips these days, we couldn't fit any more characters in the panels."
To accomodate the three-panel strip in a more legible fashion, Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis developed a short, wide book format that came to be known as the "Garfield format". While many other strips began publishing in this format, Garfield itself switched to a more conventional square book starting in 2001, and the original "Garfield format" compilations have been republished in the square format.
The title daycare center of Safe Havens hasn't been a part of the strip since the mid-1990s, once the kids started aging in real time. The occasional references to it and the name "Havens" are sprinkled throughout the comic, but Safe Havens remained gone, until a few years ago, after the main cast started having children of their own, all of whom enrolled in the daycare. (And a 5-year-old Leonardo da Vinci. Don't ask.)
In the early days (1919) of Thimble Theater (the strip that introduced Popeye), each strip was a parody of stage melodramas and silent movies where Olive Oyl and her boyfriend, Harold Hamgravy, played different characters each strip. Every strip would start with a short Cast of Characters list that told you which characters Olive and Harold would be playing. After just a few months of this, the format was dropped entirely, Olive's brother Castor Oyl was introduced, and Thimble Theater became more of a humorous adventure strip. So even when Popeye was introduced in 1929 and became a one-man Spotlight-Stealing Squad, the strip had already had an Artifact Title for nearly a decade, even shortly after it debuted!
Like its namesake at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gasoline Alley is an artifact title. It began as a panel of "The Rectangle", where each of the Chicago Tribune's four staff artists drew one. In Frank King's panel, four guys (Walt Wallet, still part of the strip although he's a supercentenarian; and Doc, Avery and Bill, long dead by now) talked about cars, hence the name. It became popular enough to be spun off as a strip in 1918, with more characters who talk about a lot of other things besides cars (and who became the first to age together at a normal pace). Even by the 1950s, Mad was doing parodies noting that the strip seemed to have nothing to do with gasoline.
The eponymous Little Orphan Annie was an orphan at first, but she met her good old "Daddy" Warbucks after less than two months. Time spent as an orphan: Less than sixty strips. Time spent not being an orphan: Thousands of strips.
Bound and Gagged was originally all pantomime gags, making the title a play on words. It has been lost in recent years as creator Dana Summers has had characters actually speak.
The immediate follow-up to Bloom County, Outland, initially took place in an alternate universe accessed through a back alley in Bloom County note So its introduction at the end of Bloom County was, literally, a Back Door Pilot., populated by new characters save for Bloom County holdover Ronald-Ann. Two weeks later, Opus was very literally dropped in, characters like Bill the Cat and Steve Dallas were gradually re-introduced, and by strip's end, Opus's letters were sent to a Bloom County address.