The player base is split about the leaders of their respective factions being this. The first, Thrall, has generally been accepted as Chris Metzen's pet character ever since his initial appearance, but not many have called him out on it, since the change of the Horde from bloodthirsty demonic army to a shamanic society of proud warrior race guys under his leadership has been accepted as a good thing for the lore. Ever since the latest expansion pack, though, they've been treated to Varian Wrynn, the rightful king of Stormwind who was lost to his people until recently. The way his change in character, return and insertion into the game has been handled, however, has been heavily criticized. Not only does his character development run a clear parallel to Thrall's, but it has been done in a fraction of the time, in which his character made a complete 180 - a barbaric human to Thrall's educated Orc - it involved some major asspulls and, to give him weight, culminated in his hijacking the lore of one of the most prominent quest lines the Alliance had: the exposing and subsequent slaying of Onyxia. This has drawn bad blood from both factions, while getting others up in arms over Thrall's status as Metzen's pet. Currently, Varian seems more deserving of Creator's Pet status, as the developers keep pushing him in an ever more prominent role in matters even though a large part of the base hates him, while the main complaint of Thrall's detractors is that he's doing too little to oppose the inner conflicts, instead relying too much on advisers.
Thrall's popularity also had a lot to do with his excellent writing and characterization in the novels and Warcraft 3. However, when World of Warcraft came along and Metzen was given a great deal of control over the writing...
Varian's hijacking of Onyxia's kill was rather obnoxious in and of itself, putting him almost in Marty Stu territory, and his constant whininess about how a secret sect of the Forsaken experimented on humans without Thrall's knowledge automatically makes the Horde evil and unbearable has made him almost a return to the Alliance's roots as horrible anti-orc racists—indeed, he's beginning to sound rather like the ill-fated bigot Lord Garithos of Warcraft 3. Thrall has been taking his responsibilities quite well, only making appearances for doing awesome things, where Varian has the "wonderful" privilege of being a gigantic fracking tool in every cutscene he's in. The fact that he serves as the instigator for a larger Alliance Vs Horde split in the latest expansion is especially grating: Thrall was doing quite well in working the Horde and Alliance towards a solid cold-war style peace, and with one word Varian brings it crumbling around Thrall's head.
Garrosh Hellscream is the Horde equivalent of Varian Wrynn. In Burning Crusade he was nothing but a minor character whose story was mostly a Call Back to Warcraft III. Lately, he's been all over the place, leading the Horde forces in Northrend and escorting Thrall to all diplomatic events, and he's a hothead who causes conflict wherever he goes. His actions are doubly insulting to players who identify with the Horde. First, he loves to criticize Thrall and tell him what a "true Warchief" would do, despite only being a member of the Horde for less than a year. Second, for years Horde players have had to deal with idiots who aren't familiar with the story assuming Alliance are the good guys and Horde are the bad guys - Garrosh's making the Horde look bad makes them look bad as people who play Horde.
His entire involvement in Cataclysm is just other characters (besides the other racial leaders), talking about how awesome and talented he is. It almost seems like a joke, since this shilling is usually followed by Garrosh destroying his own faction through sheer stupidity.
To the complete and utter joy of the fanbase, this favoritism seems to have a been a ploy to make Garrosh less-likable to the players, and he's currently set up to be the final boss in the upcoming expansion Mists of Pandaria, following a War crime that sends him past a Moral Event Horizon that makes the Horde turn on him. Good riddance.
Most of this can be summed up as the writers liberally passing around the Conflict Ball. That's not being snarky; its a well-known fact that the creators want the factions to remain at war (its called World of Warcraft, after all), and introducing two racist, overbearing and aggressive faction leaders is a great way to do that. It was either that or derail Thrall and Bolvar Foredragon, which would have resulted in riots. The players are constantly bombarded with the two leaders' their supposed "badass"-ness at every freaking opportunity and are then expected to be ecstatic about them whenever the subject about them comes up. It's a Double Standard if there ever was one.
Hitting existing characters with the Idiot Ball and indulging in supreme Informed Ability hijinx with Garrosh and Varian does not help matters.
An interesting reversal in regards to the initial point; Thrall is truly starting to slip into full-blown Creator's Pet-ism as of Cataclysm. He has since gone from being a likeable leadership figure to the shaman equivalent of Superman, which many people have felt has made him less effectual than he was before. What's worse is that it's obvious Metzen has let loose the floodgates and is gushing his unadorned love of Thrall into the narrative now. He outright stated in the Cataclysm DVD commentary that Thrall is both the most important character in Warcraft, AND that he is representative of everything the franchise is about. Many fans, even long-time fans of the series and the character, have met these statements and Thrall's character development in Cataclysm with disdain.
It's gotten to the point of stupidity. The cinematic patch 4.2 goes as follows: Thrall's at the Maelstrom keeping the world stable, when out of nowhere Ragnaros comes and tells Thrall about how he's going to burn the world. Thrall has hallucinations of the world burning to the point of collapse and Aggra runs over to see what's wrong. Thrall has almost no presence this patch (He gets a short, arguably minor, questline in which he dies and you help Aggra restore him and then they get married, that's it), as opposed to major characters for this patch like Hamuul Runetotem, Malfurion Stormrage, Fandral Staghelm or even Leyara. Yep, Metzen loves Thrall to the point of giving him Wolverine Publicity.
Metzen's even admitted to this, but hopes to focus on other characters in the future.
Aggra herself, who was created by Metzen because he hates the Thrall/Jaina ship. Aggra represents a buttload of Unfortunate Implications, too.
Thrall does make a few appearances in patch 4.3... you have to follow him around in an Escort Mission dungeon instance (Hour of Twilight) and he shows up in the final battle against Deathwing after the players fought him to near victory and Kill Steal the whole fight with a spirit bomb. And did we mention he gets ALL the attention from the dragon aspects in the following cinematic? Yeah, we'll be standing over there, saving the world from the next Omnicidal Maniac while you philosophize about the endless nature of war and the passing of the age.
Some of Richard Knaak's characters for the tie-in novels.
Rhonin becomes leader of the Kirin Tor and marries the unknown-until-now youngest Windrunner sister, going back in time and altering history in the War of the Ancients. He has recently been killed off. Whether that just happened or if it was due to fan backlash is unknown. Krasus, Knaack's other favorite character, previously died in another recent book.
Lead quest designer Dave "Fargo" Kosak's pet seems to be Sylvanas Windrunner. From Cataclysm on, her characterization has been somewhat similar to Varian and Garrosh. No matter what she does, no one can attempt to deal with her because she has too much plot armor, making her a Karma Houdini. Forsaken zones (minus Alliance/Horde flame wars) are full of plot holes that mainly exist because too much effort was spent making her and the Forsaken generically "awesome". If you are not cheering for everything they do, you are wrong. She has been called out onscreen twice, once by Garrosh (so it does not count), and once by a Thassarian that was derailed into a mirror of his Horde-counterpart Koltira. She has also lost only twice in recent times: once in Gilneas off-screen, which is quickly never mentioned again, and once by getting shot in the back, which is quickly fixed by the val'kyr. She and her forces have steamrolled everything else besides that. In the Tides of War novel, the Alliance is given the Informed Ability of being able to beat the Forsaken if they attacked in force, but Kosak was unaware of this (and will probably ignore it), and the Alliance still lost in Andorhal (and then literally gave up, only for the consequences to never be explored).
And while Garrosh may be going down at the end of Mists of Pandaria, the shilling of Varian has, if anything, got worse, with Blizzard derailing other Alliance leaders to make Varian look good in comparison. In particular, in patch 5.1, Tyrande is forced into the Leeroy Jenkins role just so she can later submit to his superior wisdom and bow before his awesomeness, acknowledging him as the "High King" of the Alliance, whatever the heck that means.
The drama with Jaina is running the same course. Because after Theramore got bombed by the Horde, she suddenly Took a Level in Jerkass (though "doing a 180" would be a more appropriate description) and is now all about revenge and steamrolling the Horde. All that while Varian suddenly discovers the merits of diplomacy and tries to bring the Blood Elves back into the fold (who were, of course, antagonized by Garrosh, who else), but Jaina purges Dalaran of the Sunreavers (the Blood Elf aka Horde faction in the city) and patronizes Varian for not being decisive enough. Unfriendly individuals might consider this a transparent attempt of making Varian both more and Jaina less appealing (and therefore less Thrall-worthy) at the same time.
What's worse is that prior to it's destruction, Theramore was being used as a staging post for the invasion of Mulgore with Jaina's consent. Therefore, Jaina is going bananas over Theramore being treated as a military target after she made it a military target! Worse still, this was all Varian's idea to begin with and yet Varian takes no responsibility and is presented as the reasonable one which seems the result of a concerted effort to make every Alliance leader look like an imbecile in order to make Varian look good.
It doesn't help that, in the process, Jaina has essentially become her bigoted and needlessly-antagonistic father, Daelin, who was almost singlehandedly responsible for ending the peace between the Alliance and the Horde to begin with when he used Kul Tiras' navy to take over Theramore and attempt to wipe out the Horde after the end of Hyjal.
What makes no sense is that in Warcraft 3, Jaina basically let Arthas purge Stratholme (which was truly a civilian city as opposed to Theramore), let him become the Lich King and kill his father, and she still thought Arthas could be redeemed until he did a Neck Lift on her. Garrosh bombs ONE city — instant Horde hatred.
It should be noted that Jaina's new characterisation is an attempt to appeal to Alliance players who felt the Horde had got off lightly for their aggression against the Alliance in the previous expansion, but has somewhat split the Alliance playerbase between those who dislike the Alliance being shown in an agreesive manner and those who think she hasn't gone far enough. She's also being rather sporadic with her aggression: first she went into full on revenge mode against the Horde; then she was talked down by her dragon boyfriend and became the new leader of the Kirin Tor, preaching the importance that the group remain neutral; then she went into full on revenge mode after an apparent betrayal by the Blood Elves. How long she'll remain in this frame of mind has yet to be seen.
Aya Shameimaru has long flirted with Creator's Pet status. She made her first appearance in Phantasmagoria of Flower View as a tengu reporter who was investigating the incidents going on at the time. Oh, and she also "accidentally" beat up everyone along the way because she was "holding back" and "not actually trying to fight". This would have been one thing, but she would, in some form, go on to appear in the next four Touhou games, including a Gaiden Game with her as the main character. Her appearance in Mountain of Faith was particularly infuriating because most of the old cast, Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame notwithstanding, made no appearance in this game... except for Aya, who not only ended up being the level four boss, but was explicitly stated by Touhou creator ZUN himself to have lost to the heroine on purpose.
At her peak, Aya had become so bad that a minor meme had spawned explaining that she had gotten into so many games in exchange for giving ZUN sexual favors. However, fanon often portrays Aya as a humorously over-the-top, so-obnoxious-she's-funny tabloid reporter with a penchant for taking embarrassing photos of the other girls. This interpretation of Aya is not nearly as bad as the one that ZUN has saddled her with, and it not only rescued her from the scrappy heap, but it gave her almost as many fans as she has haters, making her one of the most polarizing characters in the series.
Sanae as of late is on the verge of coming off as this as she's been getting many starring roles and generally being shown as the same level as the other two heroines. She has also been getting some polarizing character development as some like the new quirky zealous Sanae while others prefer her earlier personality. A sign this may be wearing on the japanese is that she's started to slip in popularity in japan. It remains to be seen if her absence in the last two games will change this.
Rayman: Some older members of the fandom absolutely deplore the Raving Rabbids. There can be little debate about their forcibly changing the Rayman series from adventure platformers to collections of short, bizarre minigames, pushing all of Rayman's previous supporting cast out of the spotlight, and carrying on their franchise hijack for a large number of games in a short amount of time. Their Creator's Pet status only became more apparent when two or three of them got a playable role in, of all places, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesgame. Thankfully, the Rabbids eventually split completely from their parent franchise and Rayman's started going on adventures without them again.
The character of Mhenlo at times felt more like the hero than the player characters. In the cutscenes, he seemed to do most of the thinking and talking, and he appeared to be..."acquainted"...with most of the female population of Cantha. In addition, that chapter was full of Escort Missions, usually with him as the person who you had to keep alive. (It helped that Mhenlo was actually a healer who was good at keeping himself alive, though.) Fortunately, ArenaNet dialed his importance FAR back in later campaigns and didn't make that mistake again.
Although Lieutenant Thackeray is coming close to taking his place. It's already been revealed that he's going to father an important character in the sequel with fan-favorite Broken Bird, Gwen. However, he was only introduced in the Christmas event, and since then his interactions with her have been seen as ham-handed at best, and outright forced at worst.
Many players take issue with the character of Trahearne in Guild Wars 2, who in a story mode thus far focused around the player character suddenly inserts himself and takes over, becoming the leader of absolutely everything who you are suddenly subordinate to, the Chosen One and so on. Everything revolves around him despite him not having anywhere near the presence or charisma to pull it off.
Joey MacAdoo in the Backyard Sports series. Saying nothing other than corny jokes (you gotta MACADOO it!) in his first appearance in Backyard Baseball 2007, he was destined to become The Scrappy. The writers somehow thought he and Ernie Steele (who is also corny, but actually realizes he is making bad jokes) should be the poster boys for the series, evolving into a Creator's Pet. Even worse: In one of the few Backyard Books, Joey is the main character.
Reaver returns in Fable III, and he still can't be killed. However, pretty much EVERY character hates Reaver with a bloody passion, and it's hard to find someone in the game who doesn't want him dead. Doesn't help much though, considering in Fable III, you have no choice but to rely on him as king/queen even though he tried to kill you earlier in the game. You're either forced to agree with his evil ideas or use his company to have your morally sound decisions reach fruition.
Notably, Reaver comes out smelling like roses no matter what your decisions are. For example while he might argue strongly that children should keep working as slaves in his factories, ordering him to turn the factories into schools results in "Reaver Industries proudly sponsors education for all children" and things of that manner.
The fans got their Creator's Pet with the form of Pichu, a second-generation Pokémon promoted heavily two generations later. It's known that Pichu is one of the creator's favorite Pokémon, but in the height of rumors about the fifth generation and with a new movie on the way (that would make all Generation IV Pokémon featured at least once in the anime), Spiky-eared Pichu (a female Pichu with a spike/notch-ended ear) made her first appearance. She was basically promoted as one of the main stars of the twelfth movie, that featured the God of Pokémon. She made her way into merchandising, got an anime ending, and even got an appearance as a very special event-only Pokémon in HeartGold and SoulSilver. They also got as far as featuring a Pichu with A UKULELE as a big surprise for an upcoming game (a spin-off, fortunately).
Plusle and Minun, who had a lot of exposure in marketing, movies and spinoffs despite lacking in stats and basically being "Pichu/Pikachu AS TWINS" designwise, for the sake of promoting double battles. Thankfully, they only had this much exposure during Generation III and the following "Pikaclones" had much less exposure.
Zoroark came close and didn't quite become a Creator's Pet. A blatant Expy of Lucario, it was shilled endlessly during the early days of Generation V as an attempt to repeat Lucario's success - and didn't reach the same level of popularity. However, instead of continuing to shoving Zoroark in everyone's faces, Game Freak shifted its main marketing for Gen V to other Pokémon such as pre-established Ensemble Darkhorses Reshiram and Zekrom, and the Zoroark hate never really materialized. Zoroark instead became a somewhat popular Pokémon (though not as popular as Lucario during its peak.)
Shadow is currently seen as this by half of Broken Base. He was once the most popular character in the series with his debut in Sonic Adventure 2, having a deep and compelling backstory as well as being an Evil Counterpart to Sonic. After his apparent death at the end was Retconned into him surviving with amnesia, a huge amount of plot focus was put on him in Sonic Heroes. Later, he got his own game that continued his story arc. Due to all of the focus on him, many fans have started to hate him for somehow managing to displace, if only temporarily, Sonic himself from being the focus of the series.
The Sonic-displacing is proven by Sonic being nerfed in boss fights against Shadow to a truly unbelievable degree and being given a thorough backseat moveset-wise. In Sonic X, 9 times out of 10, Shadow will have Sonic on the ropes with Sonic putting up no believable resistance given his consistent attributes throughout the series.
Even after Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) continued this trend, giving not only Shadow but also Silver the treatment: it reserved the most important and interesting parts of the story to Shadow and Silver's episodes, while Sonic's story consisted in a tedious and uninteresting sidestory that can be described as a endless save-Elise-from-Eggman-only-for-her-to-get-kidnapped-again loop; and made Sonic out to be the weakest out of the three main protagonists, with Silver expressing incredulity at how much of a wimp he was (and not in the Lampshade Hanging kind of way). There was even a particularly cringe worthy scene in which Sonic got defeated by Silver in a matter of seconds, followed by Shadow showing up and saving him (contrast with Sonic Adventure 2, in which Sonic and Shadow were depicted as equals in terms of abilities and fighting skills). And that's not even getting to the part in which Sonic became the only character in the game to get killed, which also happened in a few seconds, resulting in him being the only character (other than Blaze, who at least had the dignity of being removed from the story by her Heroic Sacrifice, rather than because of the Dropped a Bridge on Him trope) to be absent from the final level. It almost makes you forget that Sonic is supposed to be the main hero, the title character, and the series' protagonist...
Shadow is also the Assist Trophy (which work like Poke Balls) from Sonic's universe in [[Super Smash Bros.. Super Smash Bros. Brawl]], seemingly displacing other candidates such as Tails or Knuckles, who are relegated to running loop-de-loops in the background of the Sonic stage alongside Silver.
It should be noted that this has reversed in recent years, with Shadow's only major appearance as of late being a boss fight in Sonic Generations. Silver has suffered the same fate, and aside from Generations, the both of them have only appeared in spin-offs. The series has pushed Sonic back into the forefront in general, with him being the only playable character in most recent games. This has actually looped back around and made fans wish they'd give the extended cast more focus again.
The Squeal of Fortune definitely fits here. It's a simple wheel-spin minigame where you can win items. The items scale by level, but the more common ones are generally junk. Players earn spins several ways: they receive spins daily (free players get one, members get two), they can earn them through quests, or they can purchase them. From day one, the fandom hated this thing for a myriad of reasons (the common prizes clutter up bank space, it dumps lots of free cash into the economy, frequent Lost Forever cosmetic items, the ability to essentially pay to level up, the fact that Jagex had previously promised never to do something like this, the blatant attempts to encourage membership, the questionable legality of encouraging underage gambling, and the hideously annoying goblin mascot), but the developers have fallen in love with it. Hardly a week goes by without some mention of the Squeal from the devs, and most of the actual content updates (you know, the stuff people actually play the game for) gets second billing next to the new Squeal updates.
Joining the Squeal is Solomon's General Store, which offers cosmetic items and animations in exchange for Runecoins - which have to be bought with money. While the items sold from the store don't affect gameplay, it still gets a good deal of hatred because Jagex relentlessly updates it, prioritizes it over actual content, and refuses to acknowledge the feedback.
And then Jagex released an update that allowed players to purchase bank space through Solomon's General Store. Players were outraged, with many of them calling it a huge sellout move. Jagex's attempt at damage control, claiming that 'it doesn't technically affect gameplay', just made them angrier.
Within Crisis Core, we have Genesis. Essentially a Sephiroth knockoff, he acts like a loathsome spoiled child, commits numerous acts of murder and violence for no good reason (not even having the Sephiroth excuse of being Ax-Crazy) and is generally uninteresting. Yet, the major events of the game revolve around him and the events of Final Fantasy VII have been retconned to all revolve around having been kicked off by Genesis. Worst of all, Dirge of Cerberus shows us he somehow survives with no ill effects, making him the FFVII series' Karma Houdini. This might have to do with the fact that Genesis was based on inexplicably popular J Pop singer Gackt.
Final Fantasy XI has Absolute Virtue, a side boss that no one seems able to defeat. Every time someone does manage to find a way, Square Enix goes out of their way to squash those methods to render them useless. It's as if the developers enjoy using the boss character just to piss off their fanbase.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is largely laid out in a traditional Saturday morning cartoon fashion. Two very cartoony and decidedly fairly unthreatening villains, Underling (her real name is Linda, but everybody calls her Underling) and Pirachu, hinder our protagonists at every turn as they attempt to accomplish their objectives. The game's creators have since acknowledged that the Saturday morning cartoon atmosphere and Underling were probably mistakes. But what about Pirachu, the less popular of the duo, considered to be obnoxious by many fans, and who scored lower than Underling on the official popularity poll? (if only by a hair) Oh, he's back for the sequel.
Nepgear could have this said of her as Mk2 goes out of its way to make her the center of attention even when the old cast returns (or rather instead of taking charge, they tend to fawn over her). Getting some of the best abilities doesn't help considering her rather bland personality.
Originally conceived by Hideo Kojima as "a beautiful man", Raiden was almost universally loathed by the fanbase ever since the Metal Gear Solid 2'' bait and switch where he replaced Solid Snake for the majority of the game. He has since redeemed himself as later games note upon his issues, which were covered up in his debut as a plot point and his current rendition is liked by a sizable chunk of fans. It helps that his later appearances set him apart from Snake in gameplay.
Kojima has mentioned that Raiden is the favorite of the development team as well. However, this trope is subverted by the fact that a good portion of content in MGS3 was dedicated to mocking his character.