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  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf completely removed the various character arcs that had been central to the series up to this point. Blathers no longer talks about his childhood as you donate more and more to his museum, Sable only becomes a little more sociable, nary talking about her past with Tom Nook and Labelle as you befriend her, Resetti and Lloyd's Hidden Heart of Gold traits are never brought up, etc. As a result, these characters, who were once the most well developed and deep of the cast, have effectively been reduced to bit characters who have little to no charactertization aside from their status as shopkeepers or, in Blathers and Resetti's case, game mechanic overseers.
  • Jessica got this in the second Another Code game. While her role was never huge to being with, mainly getting Ashley to go adventuring either by getting kidnapped or talking her into it, she at least provided some exposition in both her appearances in the first game. In the second game, she only has lines in her second time on-screen via a phone call that serves more as a recap that really moving anything.
  • In the Super Robot Wars pastiche game Battle Moon Wars, this is transferred from Sacchin to Servant Assassin instead. All Servants made it to the game, even True Assassin, who only appears in one route and is obviously less popular. Sacchin is at least playable and can be acquired. But Assassin wasn't even included in any of those series, not even as Caster's Servant. Kotomine is also conspicuously absent, even though the plot explains why he isn't there. Then there's the representation of Kara no Kyoukai...we only got Ryougi, Touko, and Araya.
  • Many playable characters from the first Baldur's Gate game make cameo appearances as NPCs in the sequel.
  • Deis from Breath of Fire was slowly demoted from sequel to sequel: In Breath of Fire I she was a normal (and very powerful) party member, in Breath of Fire II she became an non-essential optional (but still very powerful) party member, Breath of Fire III saw her a plot-important NPC and Master character to the party and Breath of Fire IV left her only a plot-important NPC (though she's somewhat part of the party. as she lives in Ershin). Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter didn't even featured her, thought she was at one point planned to appear.
  • If a Versus game or some Mascot Fighter by Capcom (Capcom Fighting Jam or Pocket Fighter) is going to feature one of the Darkstalkers, it's usually going to be Morrigan or one of the other female characters in the series (Felicia, Hsien-Ko, and B.B. Hood). Q-Bee is not as lucky and Lilith often gets upstaged/overshadowed by Morrigan. They did use Demitri for Capcom Fighting Jam and SVC Chaos, as well as Anakaris in Fighting Jam and Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Lord Raptor is a Recurring Boss in Namco X Capcom, Donovan manages to get into Puzzle Fighter, Pyron appears in Capcom Fighting Evolution and Jedah appears in Capcom Fighting Evolution, and in Cross Edge and Project X Zone as a non-playable boss. Besides cameos in Pocket Fighter, J. Talbain, Rikuo, Bishamon and Sasquatch get nothing, while Victor and Huitzil have gone forgotten. Q-Bee and Huitzil also appear in Namco × Capcom and Project X Zone (Q-Bee only), though as minor enemies.
  • The Capcom vs. SNK series does this a lot. Popular characters expected to appear (such as Andy Bogard, Robert Garcia, Goro Daimon, Yang, Jill Valentine Ralf and Clark and even Mega Man) either get cameo appearances or don't appear at all (Though it should be noted that Capcom's two entries in the series restricted themselves to fighting game characters; SNK's games, not so much.). Some characters who appeared in the handheld title, Match of the Millennium (such as Felicia, B.B. Hood, Akari and Leona) appeared in that game and then got cameos or nothing. On the plus side, the Card Fighters series contains nearly all major characters (and several minor ones) from practically all Capcom and SNK games... in the forms of cards, as it is a trading card game series.
  • Tawna, the title character's original girlfriend from the Crash Bandicoot series, only made a few returns appearances following her role as Damsel in Distress in the first game. The game designers decide to explain away her absence in the second game by stating in the (now-defunct) official website that Tawna left Crash for Pinstripe Potoroo.
  • Heavily lampshaded in the Disgaea series, where former main character Laharl is quite annoyed with the fact that he's been delegated to an optional unlockable unit from Disgaea 2 onward.
  • Donkey Kong was only a playable character for the first Donkey Kong Country; after that he was just someone who needed rescuing in the SNES games, though later be becomes playable again in Donkey Kong 64 and Donkey Kong Country Returns.
    • Squawks in Donkey Kong Country Returns is demoted from his role in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!. In those previous two games, Squawks was controllable and could fly around and shoot enemies. In DKCR, he's reduced to sitting in the corner of your screen and letting you know when there's a puzzle piece nearby to be found. Incidentally, Squawks as a playable character actually made him an Ascended Extra from the very first DKC where all he did was hold a flashlight for you in one level...before eventually being demoted again.
  • In the original arcade versions of the first two Double Dragon, Machine Gun Willy was undoubtedly the main bad guy, as he was the final boss in the first game and the guy who shoots the Lee brothers' girlfriend Marian in the second game. In the NES version of the first game, he is simply the last guy Billy faces before the final battle with his brother Jimmy and is a complete no-show in the second NES game. The people who made Battletoads & Double Dragon, aside from demoting him into a lackey to some made-up new villain, didn't even bother to get his name right. His Big Bad status was restored in the GBA version though.
  • The Grey Wardens in Dragon Age II. While some of the fandom complained, this was actually justified. With the Blight defeated in the first game and the Darkspawn driven back into the Deep Roads, what exactly was there left for the Grey Wardens to actually do?
    • In the first game, Jowan was meant to be a companion who would have joined after Redcliffe and taught the Blood Mage specialisation, but was cut early in development and his role in the story reduced to simply appearing in the Mage Origin and the Redcliffe questlines.
  • While Sun Quan was often overshadowed by his father Sun Jian and (To a lesser extent) his brother Sun Ce in the Dynasty Warriors series, DW6 ups this to the point where his father gets a story mode over him, the actual ruler of Wu. Keep in mind that only five characters (Plus two in the special edition) per faction as well as "other" characters Diao Chan and Lu Bu. Practically, Wu itself could be considered this compared to Wei and (especially) Shu.
    • And in DW7, with the addition of new faction Jin, guess which one of the three kingdoms will be focused in the earlier eras instead of the later eras?
    • Pang De. He debuts in DW5, and was quite the welcome addition. In DW6, he was turned into a generic officer as Word of God thinks he's not unique enough, and his weapon and personality got transferred to Zhang Liao, but then again lots of characters were cut. In DW7, most of the cut characters return... and still no Pang De in sight. Although Pang De made it back for the Xtreme Legends expansion, making the only one not yet cured from this trope being Zuo Ci.
    • Zuo Ci now appears in DW 8, although he only have one personal stage of him.
    • Even if he appears in all games since his debut, Guan Ping has been suffering this since 7. First, the most canon appearance he gets will be just about Fan Castle, where he will be unplayable and proceeds to die doing a failed You Shall Not Pass. And with the inclusion of Liu Shan, his budding romance with Xingcai, which was introduced in 5, vanishes out of thin air as Xingcai focuses more on babysitting Liu Shan (may be historically justified as Guan Ping would've died far before Xingcai would come to age). They still give teases like they're still close friends in case of free modes, but that's it.
    • The Qiaos (Daqiao and Xiaoqiao) and Cai Wenji of Wu and Wei respectively suffer through this. In 7, its best described that the Wu and Wei stories took place in a universe where neither existed while in 8 their only appearance in the story (let alone as playable characters) is in the Hypothetical path.
  • In Fallout 3, Paladin Vargas, right-hand man to Sentinel Lyons and an essential ally during "Following in his Footsteps", is reduced to an expendable Red Shirt during "Take it Back!".
  • Final Fantasy
    • Terra in Final Fantasy VI gets this treatment. The entire first half of the game is all about her origin and her half-esper-ness, then The End of the World as We Know It happens. Then Celes becomes the star and Terra's barely mentioned in the second half.
    • Although Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is meant to be a sequel to the game, practically nobody other than Cloud, Vincent and Tifa get any screen time, so practically the entire cast falls into this trope. Ironic in Vincent's case, as he was an Optional Party Member in the game while his role in the film is much larger than regular characters like Barrett, Cid and Red. Dirge of Cerberus fixed this for many characters; while Cloud and Tifa were given nary more than a cameo, Barret unfortunately was grouped with them. Red XIII meanwhile was by far the least shown named character in both installments and can barely even be called an extra at all by now.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Freya features rather prominently in the first disc after her introduction, but pretty much as soon as her race is massacred, she only appears in battle until the epilogue. Painfully ironic given that her character quote is "To be forgotten is worse than death."
    • Final Fantasy XII winds up doing this to the so-called "hero" Vaan and his girlfriend Penelo a quarter of the way through the game once the other party members join and steal the plot. You'll hear nary a peep out of them for many hours until the end of the end, where they only finally get a starring role again in the epilogue. Word of God is Basch was supposed to be the main character, which makes more sense considering the vast majority of game events revolve around him. All things considered, Vaan's really more of Audience Surrogate than a true protagonist, even if he figures into Ashe's character arc.
    • Prior to the release of the game, Jihl Nabaat was given quite a bit of attention for an Extra from the Final Fantasy XIII trailers and information released on them. Just when you think she would play a major part in the game and fight you, she gets killed off in a rather unceremonious fashion by Galenth Dysley before she has the chance to do so. Talk about getting taken out like some punk.
    • Final Fantasy XIII was also originally meant to have seven party members, but implementation problems led to Serah being reduced to an NPC. This led to Lightning becoming a more serious character which then led to Fang becoming a woman.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, the entire original cast suffers from this, but especially Sazh. While the others make either physical appearances (Hope, Snow, Lightning) or are significant to the backstory (Fang and Vanille) Sazh is only referenced a few times in passing, last seen flying an airship and mysteriously disappearing. (Though one of Snow's temporal messages implies he saw him floating around in the Historia Crux...)
  • Fire Emblem
    • The series has its own way of dealing with this. If a character is vital to the story, they'll get critically wounded and will never be able to take part in battles again, though they'll still be present for the story segments. It's still common for characters to get demoted out of the story once they're recruited, thus allowing them to die their Final Death, though. The seventh game manages to do this with the Tactician, your Player Character. Yes, this game managed to render the player him/herself to be of minimal importance to the overall plot.
    • Most characters cease to have dialogue by the first 1-3 chapters after you've recruited them. Although slightly subverted by the revolutionary character development advent of Support Conversations in the majority of later games (including almost every game released in English, save for a single oddity and a sequel), as well as the base conversations of FE 9 and FE 10 (which incidentally served the character development purposes in FE 10).
    • Evident in FE 9,where the mysterious Volke tells Ike the truth after getting 50,000 gold. Results in a Didn't See That Coming where Volke was originally hired to kill Ike's father if he lost control, and to do research on the medallion. After that, Volke has little to no relevance in the entire game aside from being a good unit.
      • Even worse in FE 10, where Volke is hired to do research by Count Bastian himself about the feral potion, because apparently, Elincia's uncle has been turned feral in Part 4. Which ends up not being relevant at all, because the person in question gets healed by a heron and ends out fine. Volke shows up the last chapter before Endgame, despite apparently having been doing this for the entire game.
  • A common complaint about Golden Sun: The Lost Age was that this happened to everyone but Isaac, Felix and Kraden once the two parties met up. The sequel, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, attempted to fix this, but that ended up causing another problem.
  • Isn't it sad, Justice? After the first game, sure its understandable you're dead, but you barely had any lasting impact beyond possibly being Dizzy's mother. Even this wiki has forgotten it was YOU who was the first to use the Gamma Ray move in a GG game. Also, Kliff Undersn, who after GG1, story-wise, dies offscreen with barely any mention why or how. When they do appear they're probably only added due to fan demand and are usually removed due to balance issues.
  • The Arbiter from Halo 2 going into Halo 3 gets moved from an intriguing character to a one-line-wonder with the intelligence of a slug. Notwithstanding that your co-op partner plays as him, meaning for such players the Arbiter is the Chief's ertswhile ally and badass-in-arms.
  • Keira in Jak and Daxter: Love Interest and fixer of Broken Bridges. Keira in Jak II: Love Interest and source of a few bits and pieces (one of which, yes, fixed a Broken Bridge). Keira in Jak III: appears in a few scenes doing exaggerated facial expressions and gets somewhere in the neighbourhood of one line (seriously, Tess had more importance to the plot). Thankfully, she was re-promoted in time for Jak X.
  • All the characters from Jump Start (that weren't eliminated entirely earlier) had this happen to them in the massively multiplayer online game that's now the series' main product; only Frankie remains prominent.
  • Kessen II is likely the worst standing culprit to the above. The story opts for a fictional angle depicting Diao Chan as Liu Bei's primary love interest and completely focuses on his and Cao Cao's conflict. Wu is only seen twice in the entire game.
  • Namine and Axel were major characters in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, but their roles were greatly reduced in Kingdom Hearts II (probably because, once Roxas was gone and Sora's memories were restored, Namine didn't have much else she could possibly do except remerge with Kairi, and Axel was supposed to die in the Prologue as a tutorial boss, but he was Saved by the Fans and his role extension had to be small or it would clash with what was already plotted out).
    • After Kingdom Hearts II, Donald and Goofy, who were consistent main characters alongside Sora, have been put more and more Out of Focus, amounting to cameos in Birth by Sleep, unlockable multiplayer mode characters in 358/2 Days, Guest Star Party Members in Coded, and background furnishing in Dream Drop Distance save for the VERY end. Also after Kingdom Hearts II, Kairi was dropped from all importance while just Sora and Riku recieved further focus, but the secret ending of 3D firmly suggests that this will be changing.
  • The King of Fighters demotes the protagonist of the previous arc for the following arc. Kyo's importance to the plot during the Orochi saga was downgraded to make room for K' in the NESTS saga and then K' himself moved down to make way for Ash Crimson in the Tales of Ash arc. After being demoted the character continues to add to the story (Kyo was used as a base for a series of clones in the NESTS arc and K' got to fight Mukai in 2003) but it's the current main character who gets the spotlight and wraps up the saga.
  • The American Sports Team from The King of Fighters '94, only returned as playable characters in one game and that was KOF '98. Their other appearances in the series were mostly just background and ending cameos.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Bastila and Carth, the two main romance options and the most plot-relevant party members in the first game, become this in the second. Carth is only seen during cutscenes and a brief meeting with the Exile near the end of the game. The only time Bastila appears in person is a cameo near the end of the game, provided the player makes the PC from the first game a Light Side male. Otherwise she only appears as a vision in Ludo Kressh's tomb and if the first game's PC is Dark Side, as a hologram of a Sith holocron in the abandoned Sith Academy. Depending on the first game's PC's gender, Bastila or Carth also appears as a hologram of their message to T3-M4.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Nippon Ichi has a variation of its own: In Makai Kingdom, the game offered a fight against Asagi, the protagonist of their next planned game as a Bonus Boss. Unfortunately, the game got scrapped. Instead of trying again, they've left poor Asagi wandering from game to game, bemoaning her bad luck, and occasionally trying to take over the game from the main characters.
    • Speaking of Makai Kingdom, there's also Zetta's original body. To explain, Zetta loses his original body in the beginning of the game and turns into a book. He regains his original body at the end of the game (it's also an Optional Party Member - long story) but in his subsequent appearances in other Nippon Ichi titles he only appears in book form. This is finally averted in Disgaea 4
  • Examples from the Mass Effect series:
    • In Mass Effect 3, most party members from Mass Effect 2. While Garrus and Tali are the only ones to return as party members, Mordin, Thane, Legion and Miranda play important roles in the main game. The rest appear in side missions.
    • Harbinger, the Big Bad of Mass Effect 2, despite still being the leader of the Reapers in Mass Effect 3, only briefly appears once at the end of the game. He doesn't get any lines, and the only actual indication that the Reaper who tries to kill Shepard (again) is Harbinger is because you're specifically told that it's him and his appearance is unique among the other Reapers.
    • Wrex, Liara and Kaiden/Ashley, who all were party members in the original game, become extras in Mass Effect 2, forced to undergo their own missions parallel to Shepard's quest. They all become important again, come Mass Effect 3, depending on who you've left alive. Wrex becomes a major ally (and a Guest Star Party Member in the Citadel DLC), while the others are available to join as permanent party members again.
    • For that matter, even Captain/Councillor/Admiral David Anderson receives this treatment in the second game. Although not a party member, in the first game he does serve as a major driving force for Commander Shepard and plays a pretty important part late in the game. In the sequel, he only really has one scene with Shepard, and even then, it's optional. In the third game he again becomes a major figure, serving as a Guest Star Party Member early on and again playing a key role in the climax.
    • Legion and Morinth from Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC were the only two squadmates without their own lines. Somewhat justifiable as Legion's appearance in the game was tied into the Rannoch arc which resulted in his death, either way, while Morinth is said to have been on the run and likely had been turned into a Banshee by this point.
    • In a non-character example, the Citadel itself somewhat becomes this in the second game. In the first and third games, it somewhat acts as a secondary Hub Level after the Normandy and was the scene of several important plot developments, while in the second game it's only briefly visited to accomplish a few sidequests, the most important ones being the loyalty missions of two characters. Depending on how the player plays the game, they may be able to accomplish everything they need to do in the Citadel in just one visit!
      • One of the reasons for the demotion of the Citadel in 2 was due to the introduction of Omega as the new secondary Hub Level, rather apropos as Shepard is forced to work with the Evil Counterpart of the Alliance, on their Evil Knockoff Normandy and make berth in the Citadel's Evil Counterpart in the Terminus Systems.
    • Omega in turn gets this in Mass Effect 3, due to having been invaded by Cerberus between games. While Shepard eventually allows it to be retaken in the Omega DLC, it's sadly not visitable afterwards.
  • It seems like Capcom's once beloved mascot, Mega Man, has now suffered from this. After a series of games starring the "blue bomber", Zero, whom was first introduced in Mega Man X has seemly taken over. By Mega Man X4, Zero had the storyline with more Character Development, while Mega Man was portrayed as one track minded. Then followed a series of handheld games starring Zero called Mega Man Zero. This alone wouldn't be a problem, but then you had Capcom cancelling the much talked about Mega Man Legends 3 which received a huge backlash from fans. And in the Marvel vs. Capcom series of fighting games, Mega Man was once a playable character, but he once again was replaced by Zero, whom as of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is easily one of the best characters in the series. Then there was the promise to put Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken, only for Capcom to use the crappy American box-art version from the original 8-bit NES game, which again received hateful responses. The streak of bad luck finally ended when the original 8-bit Mega Man was revealed as a playable character in the fourth Super Smash Bros. game.
  • Within the Versus series, there's the Servbots, who started out as both Tron Bonne's helpers and independent joke characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes, reappeared as Tron's non-playable helpers in Namco × Capcom, and finally got stuck in background cameos in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
  • Pat Sprigs (AKA Gemini Spark), from Mega Man Star Force, is a major character in the first game, to being an optional boss in the second, to only having a few references in battle cards in the third game.
  • Motaro is the only character from Mortal Kombat 3 who is not a fighter in Mortal Kombat 9. He is killed by Raiden in a cut-scene and later appears as a dead body.
    • Much earlier, Kano and Sonya went from two of the original seven characters in Mortal Kombat to background stage props in Mortal Kombat II. The got much better in later games.
    • Kitana got a much smaller role as a simple cameo in Mortal Kombat 4 in Liu Kang's ending (though she was intented to be playable and remains Dummied Out) before being restored as a playable character in Gold.
    • Ermac went from becoming a canon character in Ultimate and Trilogy to a simple background mention in Kenshi's backstory in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. Kabal was similarly just mentioned/shown dead in Mavado's story. Both got better in Mortal Kombat Deception.
    • Several characters who were only playable once or twice (like Stryker, Kintaro, Kai, Fujin) returned as NPCs in Deception's Konquest Mode.
    • In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks the Secret Characters from II Smoke and Noob Saibot were demoted from hidden AI-only characters to an optional quest giver and a minor cameo respectively. The third secret character, Jade, averted it however.
  • Happens to Chou-Chou in the sequel to Mugen Souls, Mugen Souls Z. In the beginning of Z, she loses her powers and gets shrunk down to a chibi sized version of herself. From there, she's practically useless except for being the supporting guide for Syrma, the game's main character, who she rides on.
  • Odin gets this pretty bad in Odin Sphere, despite being the title character! Despite making a decent role in everyone's storyline (except Cornelius', where he essentially just cameos early on), and all of the truly massive amounts of storyline hyping he gets, Odin gets knocked off rather easily at the end of the game, where he gets overwhelmed by the undead and killed by a Halja.
  • Mewtwo was a playable character in Super Smash Bros: Melee, but in Brawl, he's now only just a trophy.
  • Flora Reinhold of the Professor Layton series was the Golden Apple in the first game, and was demoted to being a secondary character in the second game, being replaced by Don Paolo in disguise for most of the game. The third game fixes this, promoting her to being a playable character, though she only gets a few puzzles to solve, and doesn't appear until about halfway through the game. Flora does not appear in the prequel trilogy, but she is a cameo in the Framing Device of Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva.
    • Granny Riddleton started off as a mysterious secondary character in the first two games, but was replaced by a talking bee, and later by her granddaughter in the third game, though she did get a small appearance near the beginning of the third game. In the fourth, however, she simply appears as a cameo before being replaced by a cat. She does come back in full force for the fifth game, under the guise of Elizabeth, only to once again be replaced by the cat in the sixth, making only a brief cameo to introduce said cat.
  • Poor, poor Rayman. Originally the star of his self titled franchise, he has slowly been getting shoved to the sides by those damned Rabbids. This hijacking has gotten to the point where the latest announced game is a Katamari-like game starring the Rabbids. Rayman is nowhere to be found, even in the title. Luckily he got back in the spotlight in Rayman Origins.
  • Resident Evil
    • The series has always been known for bringing in and kicking out new and old characters like a revolving door, but even then, the five characters with the biggest stage presences (Chris and Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon S. Kennedy, and Ada Wong) aren't immune from this. Claire gets the worst of it - after being a major player character for two games (Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code: Veronica), she's off the map until the CG film, Resident Evil: Degeneration. While she's still in the fight against bioterrorism, she takes a passive role at the company TerraSave. Chris also has less presence in favor of Leon in Resident Evil 6, but his status as the hero of RE5 and Revelations might have something to do with that.
    • Luis from Resident Evil 4 isn't playable in mercenary mode, despite the fact that he showed himself to be capable of using a gun in story mode and a total Badass, yet Hunk, who has no bearing in the main story, appears.
  • In Robopon 2, Lisa, Cody's girlfriend, has a very bit part compared to the first game. She lampshades this.
  • SaGa Frontier's Fuse is much like Sacchin; he was supposed to have his own quest route and be a playable hero and so on and so forth, but when time constraints ate the development team, that got dropped entirely (along with a lot of the playable characters' sidequest material - the game wasn't exactly a polished work). He's recruitable by any/all the other characters but all that remains of what would've been his storyline is a few debug rooms. Woe!
  • Samurai Shodown
    • Several characters in the series, including Earthquake, Wan-Fu, Genan, Sieger, Jubei and Cham Cham (although a few of them returned as playable characters in later games, and Jubei was included in certain ports of Samurai Shodown III).
    • Ukyo Tachibana, despite appearing in nearly every game, is this. He was first introduced as The Rival for Haohmaru (being based on Sasaki Kojiro while Haohmaru is based on Miyamoto Musashi). Then in the second game, they introduced Haohmaru's true rival with the story connections to go: Genjuro Kibagami. Afterwards, Ukyo became more irrelevant to the main storyline, going so low as being beaten like a Cannon Fodder in Haohmaru's ending in IV, but still appear in the games due to fan demand.
  • The Silver Saint Sagitta Ptolemy was one of the bosses in Saint Seiya Ougon Densetsu, but appeared briefly in the prologue introduction of its sequel game.
  • Sonic and All Stars Racing did this to NiGHTS who is demoted to a cameo. Which is better than nothing: originally NiGHTS wasn't to appear at all, and it was only after an extensive emailing campaign by a fan site that NiGHTS was placed in as the flag-bearer.
    • The sequel added NiGHTS to the playable roster, with Ristar taking it's place as the flag-bearer.
  • Shin Getter Robo, Dancougar, and Trider G7 have no plot relevance in Shin Super Robot Wars, while Gundam Wing and G Gundam get the bare minimum of its characters. In fact, Heero Yuy is a Secret Character in this game.
  • Every character in Sonic the Hedgehog who isn't Sonic, Tails, or Eggman had this happen to them to varying degrees. Some of this may be due to the Unpleasable Fanbase's reaction to the increase of playable characters before this period. Between Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Boom in 2014, the only playble appearance by a character other than Sonic were Tails and Metal Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2, as well as Tails piloting vehicles in bonus stages of Sonic Rush Adventure and Sonic Lost World. Some other characters were playable in the spin-off game Sonic Rivals 2 (2007).
    • Knuckles and Shadow were not in Sonic Unleashed, and the two and Amy didn't appear in the Wii version of Sonic Colors. The setting of the latter game logically prevented appearances from other characters, but the DS version inserted random cameos of most of the cast. This continued the trend of other supporting characters solely making cameos in most in other games.
    • Tails does get substantial time as a supporting character even in the games he is not playable in, but considering in-story he is Sonic's partner in heroism, his gameplay role still seems limited.
  • Soul Calibur V's redesigned Story Mode received criticism because only the main characters, Patroklos and Pyrrha receive any kind of backstory and characterization. Most of the new characters have an average of only five lines and contribute minimally to the advancement of the plot. Two returning characters actually have NO dialogue and leap out of nowhere in order to be fought. Nine of the returning characters don't make a single appearance in the game's story. Made worse by the fact that it's no longer possible to read character bios in the game. In order to learn what the rest of the characters have been up to since the 17 year time skip, one has to view their official online profiles. Additionay, two major and fan-favorite characters, Talim and Zasalamel, were removed from the story entirely. Unlike others who at least had mention of what they did after Soul Calibur IV, their profiles just stop.
    • Soul Calibur III began the shift of focus more towards certain storylines, even as it fleshed out all of them. As a result, certain characters who were present since the start of the series faded more into the background as it went on.
  • This happened to Spyro the Dragon with Skylanders. While originally launched as a new Spyro game it quickly became its own franchise, being more of a spinoff than an actual reboot. Spyro himself does not play a role larger than any of the other characters, and only the first game has Spyro's name in the title.
    • For the first Skylanders Spyro came with every copy, had three variations, and was in the title. In the other titles he's dropped out of the title and Spyro isn't available with a copy of the game.
  • About half the cast of playable characters in Star Ocean Till The End Of Time falls into this. Nel, Albel, and Mirage are fairly important characters in disk 1, then in disk 2 fade into obscurity. Adray, Peppita and Roger do this as well, though they never had a particularly major hand in the plot to begin with (Roger being the only 100% optional character). Since you are only allowed to bring along two characters out of Nel, Albel, Roger, and Peppita, the game has to fit their dialogue in rather awkwardly, and the other characters rarely if ever acknowledge their presence. Mirage is perhaps the most painful example, however - she doesn't even get this courtesy, since she was added in a version after the original released in Japan, and as such essentially gets no dialogue at all after she joins the party!
  • Happened to most of the Street Fighter II cast during the Street Fighter Alpha series and the Vs. series, as most of them (such as Balrog, Vega, Fei-Long, and E. Honda) only appeared in ending or stage cameos. But each new Alpha and Vs. game gradually brought back characters from II until the console version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 featured all the remaining characters needed to fill out the entire Super Street Fighter II Turbo roster. On the other hand, the arcade version of Street Fighter IV only had the original twelve from the first Street Fighter II in addition to all the new characters (and Akuma) and it wasn't until the console version (and the later Super editions) that characters from the Alpha and III games (along with the "New Challengers" from Super Street Fighter II) were included in IV as well.
  • Strider Hiryu's rival from Strider 2, Hien, went from being a recurring boss character to a Posthumous Character (represented by an unlockable costume) in the 2014 Strider remake.
  • The Super Mario Bros. series and spinoffs has a few. Look at Fawful, who went from The Dragon to minor NPC... right back to Big Bad by the next game. Or Tatanga, who went from Big Bad, to boss, to vanishing off the face of the planet. King Boo went from Big Bad to standard boss after Luigi's Mansion, the Koopalings ended up in fairly mediocre roles after Yoshi's Safari until New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Professor E Gadd went from important character, to minor NPC, to Put on a Bus.
  • In spite of being the titular character and more or less the hero of his series, Betterman Lamia's reduced to a handful of roles in Super Robot Wars Compact 3 and always is a NPC ally on missions he appears.
  • In Super Robot Wars K, Mazinger Z gets zero plot aside from some involvement of Dr. Hell in the Opening Scroll, and Great Mazinger doesn't even show up despite both Mazins being always together. Probably justified in that Mazinger and co. have been on a bajillion games already. Then again, it's the same game that gave a war story anime with 50 episodes only 6 levels of plot, but a 13 episode one where half are Monster-of-the-Week format got 8, so maybe it's just the story wasn't K's best point (Japanese reviewers agree with this).
  • Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden hammers this trope to one of Duminuss' Homunculi, Laliar, the only male. In his origin game (SRW R), at least he gets to get involved in the grand schemes along with his siblings, joining some factions to screw them up. But in OG Gaiden... Tis gets to deal with the Wendigo and G Thunder Gate, Despinis gets to guard a brainwashed Lamia, and later ends up surviving, unlike in the original series... and Laliar? He's relegated into just contacting Tis and Despinis from afar in case they're about to screw up, and doesn't do much in the grander scheme (obviously, he had a bigger role in his original game). Makes this editor wonder if Duminuss prefers an Improbably Female Cast for her main Homunculus.
    • A similar case can be seen with the Bridge Bunnies. Early in OG 1, Rio becomes a pilot and stays that way until the end of OG 2. After Daitetsu's death, Eita and Tetsuya end up taking charge and commanding the Kurogane to the best of their abilities. And poor Eun, best friend to the Hiryu Kai's captain Lefina? She is just there to give bits of information every so often, lacking even the hint of A Day in the Limelight.
  • A variation in Super Robot Wars W, where material (characters, missions, etc) for Gundam SEED are fairly scarce. Aside from a skirmish against Mwu La Flaga, a later mission where you get to play as him, and a couple of cameos, SEED's events and stories don't even appear until halfway through the game, and even then, are mostly passed over in favor of it's spinoff Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray. A particularly glaring example being the Artemis Base battle. When the Zaft forces show up, the Archangel actually leaves as soon as it exits the base, leaving the Nadesico B and the Junk Guild and Original Generation crew to deal with them.
  • Strategy RPGs with Loads and Loads of Characters such as Tactics Ogre or Knights in the Nightmare do this, and they have reason for it. Due to some of them having Final Death, the story is purposely written so that they could have been killed off at any point in the story after recruitment, whereas the characters whose death will result in a game over (namely the player character) will remain in the story at all times. In some JRPGs, particularly those where you can change the makeup of your party, characters often stop developing after you recruit them, particularly because they do not necessarily have to be present at any given scene.
  • Spoofed in the Tales Series Drama CD Viva Tales of! to promote Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. It got Veigue Lungberg of Tales of Rebirth, being the protagonist and all, in the interview. Then he finds out that he's not in the actual game (with other characters like Eugene Gallardo and Annie Barrs actually in). Cue to him crying and shouting CLAAAAAAIIIIIRREEEEE!!!!!!! (He got in the sequel, though).
  • Eddy Gordo from Tekken became an extra costume for Christie in Tekken 4. It's a shame because this meant that the storyline he had in Tekken 3 was cut off far too soon in favour of one which also included Christie. Many people complained and so he returned as a separate character in Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection, and later in Tekken 6.
  • Rikimaru, the main protagonist/playable character in Tenchu, was demoted to the NPC Master of the player's character in Tenchu Z.
    • Tesshu went from being a Secret Character and third leg to Rikimaru/Ayame in Wrath of Heaven, to a meager small cameo appearance in Fatal Shadows. Gets (somewhat) better in Time of the Assassins, where he gets his own Prequel story.
  • All characters in Touhou (except protagonists Reimu and Marisa, of course) get shunted to the side after their debut game is finished. The exceptions to this are the occasional player characters (Sakuya, Youmu, Sanae, and the other playable characters in the fighting games) and the characters who appear in the side materials (covering everyone who don't appear or have appeared already in the main games).
    • In general, any character that debiuted in either first or second stage of any game. Expect Cirno, who is treated like a mascot.
    • Both Flandre Scarlet and Ran Yakumo were Demoted to Extra after their debut in their respective Extra Stages. Flandre was basically a one-shoot character, and Ran was, after her debut, almost exclusively shown in the shadow of Yukari Yakumo as a helper.
    • Yuuka Kazami, from all the Windows games, has a prominent role only in Phantasmagoria of Flower View, as an extra character, and was serving basically a role of a reminder to PC-98 era.
    • Sakuya got that treatment after Scarlet Weather Rhapsody was released in 2008. Since then, her only main appearance was in Double Dealing Character, released in 2013, as the playable character. It's today unknown if whether she will appear in a prominent role again.
    • Eientei residents (Tewi, Reisen, Eirin, Kaguya) were pretty much out of focus after side works dedicated to them ended.
  • Victor Sullivan in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, who was a major character in the first game but only accompanies you for two chapters of the second before deciding he wants out. In "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," Sullivan becomes a main character once again, only for the main female leads of 2, Elena and Chloe, to be demoted to extras.
  • This happens mid-game for everybody but the main protagonist of Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. Characters are given compelling, interesting motivations and backstories, but the minute they decide to join the party as anything other than guest characters, the only time they say a word or even show up outside of battles is when you decide to sacrifice them to your Plume.
  • Ogres suffered this in the Warcraft series. In Warcraft II they were the most important part of the Horde next to orcs and the only non-orcs who led orc clans and there were several important ogre-mage characters. In Warcraft III they were no longer part of the Horde, and now had the small role of neutral mercenaries and hostile creeps. They were also inexplicably weaker compared to the powerful units they were in Warcraft II and resorted to using clubs rather than Good Old Fisticuffs. In the expansion pack a half ogre was introduced, and an ogre/goblin Hero Unit was introduced. Most importantly they rejoined the Horde in the story hinting at a greater role in future games. But then, in World of Warcraft the ogres' home is destroyed by black dragons and they show up for a minor role in one zone. As of the extension Cataclysm they are the only race from Warcraft II not playable in some form.
    • Happened to the Blood Elf race - except for Kael'thas - in the Frozen Throne expansion of Warcraft 3. The "human" campaign largely on the plight of Kael'thas and his Blood Elf remnants... for about two and a half missions. Then they grew Out of Focus as the story importance shifted to Illidan and his Naga (the fact that the Blood Elf forces were completely irrelevant compared to the much stronger Naga didn't help). By the middle of the Undead campaign, the Blood Elves were out-and-out Mooks with the exception of Kael'thas himself.
    • While trolls in general seem to be the go-to race for evil mooks, troll heroes tend to either vanish into obscurity or be Driven to Villainy. And the playable Darkspear tribe—a late (and somewhat rushed) addition to the baseline game to begin with—have been largely sidelined.
    • The draenei have pulled up even with trolls in that regard. While they did get quite a bit of focus in the beginning of the Burning Crusade, they were overshadowed by the blood elves after the Black Temple. Like the trolls, they didn't do much of anything in WOTLK. And finally, in Cataclysm, they're the only race to not get a new class—despite rogue, druid, and (if you stretch a point) even warlock being at least theoretically possible. At least they make up a decent percentage of the Earthen Ring faction...but seeing as shamanism is canonically a tiny and new splinter of their culture, that's not saying much.
    • Gnomes, considering their lore, have quite the potential for sad or bittersweet storylines. Instead, they're almost strictly comic relief.
    • Worgen, who despite being the new Alliance race in Cataclysm, are shipped off to Darnassus at the end of their starting zone and promptly forgotten about. Their only other major appearance is in Silverpine Forest, a Horde leveling zone, where they are the antagonists. Alliance side, they make only a few token appearances as generic Non Player Characters, most of who could be changed to a human or a Night Elf without impacting anything. Their induction into the Alliance as well as the effects it had on the Worgen and the other races was instead put into the Expanded Universe novel Wolfheart, much to the annoyance of Alliance players.
  • This fate eventually befalls most of the secondary playable characters in Xenogears, but a notable example involves the NPC Hammer. During the Kislev story arc, Hammer is almost omni-present. His network of black-market goods, information, and mechanical skill are vital in eventually helping the main character escape imprisonment. After the escape, Hammer virtually disappears for twenty-odd game hours, only re-appearing near the end of the Solaris arc. He understands that he has been Demoted to Extra, and the knowledge drives him to cross the Moral Event Horizon at a certain point.
  • Xenosaga has MOMO Mizrahi, a little Realian girl. In the first two games she was one of the most important characters because her father/creator Joachim placed the "Y-Data" (which included coordinates to a planet that EVERYBODY wanted to get to) inside her mind. One of the main points of the first game is to get MOMO to a research facility where this data can be analyzed, and in the second game that actually occurs. She also serves as a foil and love interest for Junior (she was modeled after his old romantic interest, Sakura, who happened to be Joachim's biological daughter, effectively making MOMO her sister). And...then the third game comes, and she has very few lines and one or maybe two scenes that actually give her any real attention. It's as if she lost any real importance once they got the Y-Data out of her and just stayed on as a playable character because people were used to her being around.
  • Luciana Rune Artwaltz is very important in Yggdra Union (although she appears under her sister's name for most of her appearances), but does almost nothing in its prequel, Blaze Union, instead shifting the focus onto the aforementioned twin sister Aegina. Then again, you can't do all that much on an injured leg. Aegina herself falls out of the spotlight in two of the three Multiple Endings - but in the third one, Luciana dies.
  • Lilia, the heroe's love interest in Ys II, was reduced to a minor supporting character in Ys IV, and completely forgotten afterward.

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