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Ensemble Darkhorse: F Ilm
Popularity: Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how friggin' cool you look not saying it.

Film - Animated

  • Star from Balto who sadly didn't appear in the sequels is quite well-liked by the Balto fandom. "Circles are a good thing!"
  • The relatively minor character Morkubine Porcupine from Chicken Little has quite a fanbase despite his small screen time and only three lines of dialogue (They were "Yo", "No", and "Whoa").
  • In the Coraline fandom, there are insanely-huge fan-followings for The Other Wybie.
  • After the three mains, Bonejangles can be said to be the most popular character in Corpse Bride, and is often the subject of an alternate ship with Emily. Apart from his big song "Remains of the Day," however, Bonejangles is pretty much just an amusing background character in the movie. He never even gets a name on-screen! Being voiced by Danny Elfman helps a lot.
  • Although Kuzco and Pacha are decently funny in The Emperor's New Groove, it's Kronk who provides most of the gutbusting hilarity. He even got his own Direct-to-Video sequel and Love Interest.
  • Finding Nemo
  • Mambo from Happily N'Ever After. A cute, purple, awesome, wisecracking, sarcastic cat from a rather mediocre animated movie. Even people who hate the movie love him!
  • Twitchy from Hoodwinked.
  • She appears for less than two minutes in the film and has only one line (apart from loudly inhaling), yet still manages to upstage Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, and Steve Carell. Katie from the CGI Horton Hears a Who! is a perfect example of this trope. As well as The Mayor's son, JoJo.
  • Ruffnut from How to Train Your Dragon, despite having only a few lines and sharing all of her scenes with the other secondary characters. She's aroused by insanity, that's always hot!
  • Scamper the suicidal monster-bunny from Igor is arguably the most popular character in the entire movie.
  • The Incredibles gave us the crazed, meddling, indignant, and all around badass fashion goddess, Edna Mode. Also, Femme Fatale Mirage. Mr Huph is pretty hilarious too.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Mei Ling from Secrets of the Furious Five has gained quite a following, as have the Wu Sisters (A trio of Lynx assassins) from the video game.
  • The hyenas of The Lion King, anybody?
  • The penguins from Madagascar, to the extent that they earned their own spin off The Penguins of Madagascar. Be honest - did you see Madagascar as a film about friends moved from a zoo to the jungle with a few scenes based around penguins, or did you see it as a film about penguins that kept being hijacked by that idiot zebra and his friends? On a similar note, the zoosters get severely upstaged in the third film by the circus trio- or more specifically Vitaly; Fridge Brilliance in that he's the heart of both the circus and, in turn, the movie in general.
  • Buddy the porcupine from Open Season.
  • Tinkerbell from Peter Pan became hugely iconic, overshadowing Peter himself. Captain Hook and Mr. Smee as well, mostly for being the funniest characters in the movie.
  • Shrek: The Gingerbread man, a.k.a. Gingy.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Toon Patrol fanbase makes up an astonishingly high amount of fans, right after Jessica Rabbit then Roger Rabbit. They don't even get named on screen. They don't even survive the movie and they STILL get the Draco in Leather Pants treatment in fairly equal quantities.
  • Alpha and Omega has a few, but the most notable one is Lilly due to her cuteness and situation. She and Garth, another example in regards to his character development and terrible howl gag, are sometimes preferred over Kate and Humphrey, to the point of some fans becoming concerned that they'll disappear in the sequels.
  • From Wreck-It Ralph, Sour Bill is very well liked, but even more impressively is Turbo, aka King Candy's original identity. Want to know how much the fandom loves him? He got his own t-shirt on ThinkGeek (which is unfortunately no longer available) before the site sold any other merchandise from the movie, even of the main characters. Something has to be said for that. Being voiced by a graduate of Joss Whedon productions Dollhouse and Firefly probably helped with the geek cred.
  • The Cinderella films have the two stepsisters, especially Anastasia. Her Heel-Face Turn in the third movie helps.
  • The most well known characters in Sleeping Beauty, are the three Good fairies, and Maleficent. The three appear in Kingdom Hearts, and in Sofia the First, the later is getting her own movie.
  • Ice Age has a few examples. Most notably Scrat the squirrel from the whole series, Buck the weasel from the third, and Gutt and his crew from the fourth.
  • Frozen has Elsa, the quote, unquote: 'deuteragonist'.
    • Despite the fact that he was originally thought to be The Scrappy before the film's release, Olaf the Snowman has been praised as the best Disney sidekick since Timon and Pumbaa.
  • The Princess and the Frog has Charlotte who is utterly beloved despite her supporting role. Not only does she help Tiana achieve her dreams by paying her a lot of money to cater a party, but when an accident happens and Tiana ruins a plate of food, Charlotte accepts it as an accident, takes Tiana upstairs, and gives her some of her own clothes to wear since hers were ruined.
  • The Hunchbackof Notre Dame has Esmerelda, whose selfless nature coupled with her snarkiness and Action Girl tendencies to make her quite beloved among the fanbase.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas has Eris who, despite being the villain, has very little screen time. Through Evil Is Sexy and her gorgeous character design, alongside her interesting personality and powers she is very popular in fandom, to a point that many only watch this movie for her.

Film - Live Action

  • Star Wars has a few:
    • Boba Fett was a minor character in the original Star Wars Trilogy, with a total of six lines of dialogue in his cameo appearances in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the latter of which depicts his apparent death. The character was first introduced in the cartoon portion of the The Star Wars Holiday Special prior to both films. Originally, Lucas conceived that Fett was a clone who shirked off the opportunity to be a stormtrooper because he had somehow become more independent-minded. After the character's rise in popularity (owing in part to the rarity of his action figure in the early '80s), he eventually became a major character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, his death was written out of the canon, and his backstory (loosely based on the character's conceptual origins) was depicted in Attack of the Clones.
    • Wedge Antilles can also be seen this way; his appearances in the Imperial Trilogy are short, but he's one of your sidekicks in the Rogue Squadron videogames (and replaces Luke as the protagonist of Rogue Squadron II partway through the Battle of Hoth mission), and in the Expanded Universe, he evolves into a General and commander of the New Republic's armed forces. This may have something to do with being the only character in the films to survive both Death Star runs (Keyan Farlander flew a Y-Wing at Yavin and an X-Wing at Endor, but he was in the games/EU only), and the only non-major character to appear in all three films of the Imperial Trilogy. Wedge is the Badass Normal of Star Wars, the everyman, and the "designated survivor". He has fangirls. We love him.
    • The RiffTrax guys found a pilot named Porkins to be their favorite character. Check the Marvel comics adaptation of Star Wars: A New Hope: Biggs Darklighter bids a sad "So long, Piggy," to Porkins who gets killed in the Battle of Yavin and then vows to avenge him. Luke only knows the dead pilot by his Red Squadron call sign number.
    • Firmus Piett was only supposed to be in The Empire Strikes Back, until a deluge of fanmail convinced Lucas to include him in Return of the Jedi. He is often thought of as the Empire's equivalent to Wedge Antilles.
    • In the Republic Trilogy it was the minor Jedi who became fan favorites, chiefly Mace Windu, Aayla Secura, and Quinlan Vos. In particular Mace's expanded role in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith was due to the way fans reacted to his appearance in The Phantom Menace (in which he only had a couple lines and never used his lightsaber or Force talents), and his impressive displays of badassery in said films made him one of the most popular characters in the prequel trilogy.
    • Ironically, the character who was set up as "the Next Boba Fett," Aurra Sing in The Phantom Menace, never became very popular, and EU works featuring her ebbed to a trickle within a couple years of her introduction. Cad Bane from Star Wars: The Clone Wars was set up the same way, however, and did become a pretty significant darkhorse (though not as much as Fett himself).
    • Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace, on par with Fett. Despite appearing for only a few minutes total in the most controversial movie in the series, he was awesome and Badass enough to become one of the most popular characters in the entire franchise, to the point that he's one of the few things from the prequels that isn't, erm, the subject of much debate. It's why they brought him back in the Clone Wars.
    • Similarly, General Grievous. Despite being rather pathetic in Revenge of the Sith, his debut appearance and Establishing Character Moment in Star Wars: Clone Wars where he easily Curb Stomps six Jedi was one of the most Bad Ass CMOAs in the entire franchise, let alone Clone Wars.
  • Vasquez, and Hudson or maybe the colonial marines in general from Aliens.
  • Jennifer Coolidge in American Pie became an instant pop-culture icon—to the point where the word "MILF" is now in the Oxford English Dictionary—despite having less than five minutes of screen time!
    • Steve Stifler himself, going from being a frenemy to the main quartet in the original, to The Friend Nobody Likes in the sequel, and due to his Breakout Character status, the protagonist and deuteragonist in the third and fourth films, respectively.
  • Colonel Miles Quaritch from Avatar was probably not intended to be nearly as popular as he was (after all, he wasn't a perfect blue-skinned space alien or someone who joined their side). But when he showed as much sheer badassery as he did, it became impossible not to admire the guy to some extent, whatever side you're on. To further illustrate, Quaritch is not the main character of this movie. He is, in fact, a villain. The villain. Yet until recently, his was the longest and first section on the character sheet. Not to mention the only character to get his own listing. All the other characters were grouped together. Even James Cameron acknowledges the power of this trope, as he has announced that Stephen Lang will be returning to play the good Colonel in all three sequels.
    • It is especially notable that Mr. Lang was the first member of the original cast to be officially signed on for the sequels. Yes, even before Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, the main protagonists.
  • "Bob the Goon" from Tim Burton's Batman, aided in no small part by his hilarious death scene. Toy Biz may have predicted this with the toyline: the only characters to get figures were Batman, The Joker and Bob.
  • "CIA" from The Dark Knight Rises, due to the scene he appears in being considerably memetic. Barsad "The Masketta Man"/"The Mosquito Man" and "Brother" (the man who stays behind on the plane when it crashes after Bane tells him to) also have attracted popularity for similar reasons, but none quite as much as CIA.
  • Jesus "The Jesus" Quintana from The Big Lebowski. Despite the fact that he's only in the movie for about five minutes, he's nearly as popular as the main characters themselves. "Nobody fucks with The Jesus!"
  • Megan in Bridesmaids. Depicted in the trailers as being just The Lad-ette, she ends up being the most well-developed character in the film and her actress, Melissa McCarthy would get an Oscar nomination for the role.
  • The Howling Commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger, considering they're only in a handful of scenes and one montage. Dum-Dum Dugan and Montgomery Falsworth are the most popular, though.
  • Yvette, the French girl who cries during the singing of "La Marseillaise" in Casablanca.
  • The Djinn from The Remake of Clash of the Titans. They save Perseus & Co. from the giant scorpions, not by defeating them, but by taming them. One of them (credited as "Sheikh Suleiman") joins the quest to slay Medusa. As it turns out, since he is not a being of flesh, he is immune to her stare. Wrapped in her coils, he uses his magic to self-destruct, providing Perseus the opening needed to decapitate her.
    • While we're on the subject, Hephaestus from the sequel Wrath of the Titans also qualifies. He's the only remotely funny character in the movie, he's quite hammy, he's Crazy Awesome, and he spends most of his time getting into arguments with an owl figurine. Unfortunately, like Sheikh Suleiman, he doesn't last very long and he sacrifices his life to help Perseus. Did we mention he's portrayed by Bill Nighy?
    • Bobo from the original film, while the fanbase is divided about whether he is a good character or not. There is no denying he is one of the most talked about characters of the film.
  • DeeJay & Zangief of Street Fighter both have a lot of fans. QUICK! CHANGE THE CHANNEL!
  • Jean Reno's Victor 'The Cleaner' managed to become the most memorable character of the French (original) version of La Femme Nikita with just a few minutes of screen time. His popularity led Luc Besson to make him the main character of his next movie, Leon (The Professional).
  • LL Cool J's character in Deep Blue Sea spends most of the movie alone, separated from the main cast, who never even seem to remember he's there. This makes one wonder if he was even originally intended to be in the movie, but eventually he turns out to be a lot more intelligent and probably more likable than the other characters. Apparently he was popular enough that the movie was rewritten to have him survive at the end.
  • Simon Phoenix From Demolition Man.
  • The most popular character in Doomsday is undoubtedly the Dark Action Girl Viper, who has about maybe seven minutes of screentime and just one line. Trailers made it look like this sexy tattooed Bad Ass was going to be a major character, causing some disappointment when she's rather casually dispatched early in the film.
  • Kit in Failure to Launch. She's the roommate of one of the leads, but is often considered the funniest and most likable character in the film. Being played by Zooey Deschanel certainly doesn't hurt any.
  • Animal Mother, the Sociopathic Hero from Full Metal Jacket.
    • Really? What's the first quote most people can give from the movie; "Hey, soldier boy!..."
    • Also, R. Lee Ermey's character, Drill Sergeant Nasty Hartman. He was only in the first half of the film, but the way people go on about him, you'd be amazed that there's actually more to the film after the boot-camp arc. He also gets a lot of Misaimed Fandom and Draco in Leather Pants treatment from fans.
  • Just as in the comics, Snake-Eyes was the Ensemble Darkhorse for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. During test screenings, audiences were given cards to fill out, answering various questions about the film, including their favorite character. Despite the fact that he wasn't even listed as a choice (because he didn't have a speaking role), Snake consistently won as a write-in. All of the film's ads even featured him over the film's actual stars. G.I. Joe: Retaliation keeps Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Zartan, but also adds Firefly as well.
  • Godzilla:
    • Poor Anguirus - he crawls around on the ground, he's got no flashy beam-weapons, and whenever he appears you know it's just so Godzilla or the new Monster of the Week can beat him up to show how tough they are. For this reason, a lot of fans who feel sorry for him name Anguirus as their favorite kaiju.
      • Just a punching bag? Anguirus nearly took down Gigan all on his own - which is no small feat, considering that Gigan is one of the few kaiju that is truly on-par with Godzilla himself.
      • Let's not forget that he was Godzilla's very first opponent and nearly won! Plus, as noted above, he matched Gigan and was one of the three kaiju who directly kill one of King Ghidorah's heads in Destroy All Monsters. Punching bag my ass.
      • In the Mark Cerasi Godzilla novel series, Anguirus fights and defeats Gigan by himself, after the cyborg monster totally obliterates several Russian cities and new cosmodrome, and pulls him into the Baltic Sea to his death. Later on Anguirus twice battles the Russian-built super-robot MOGUERA and nearly wins both times (he is defeated, but merely sedated so he can be kept in an enclosure).
    • Don't forget Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: All Out Monsters Attack! The movie features Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah and some other monster who appeared for five seconds in Destroy All Monsters and who doesn't even make it to the final showdown. Which just means little Baragon went up against Godzilla all by himself!
    • Hell, nearly every Toho Kaiju is an Ensemble Darkhorse of one kind or another. The most notable examples besides Anguirus are: Biollante, a gigantic rose/Godzilla/human hybrid that operates on sheer terror; Gorosaurus, the giant Tyrannosaurus rex from King Kong Escapes who got a Crowning Moment Of Awesome in Destroy All Monsters! (Heck, if fellow Ensemble Darkhorse Baragon's suit hadn't been so damaged, he might not have appeared at all!); and Mechagodzilla, Godzilla's Humongous Mecha Evil Twin that always gives the King a run for his money.
    • BAGAN. The one Monster in the series that to this day is still no where to be seen except on one video game, but is one of the most powerful monsters in the series. Also being the only monster to force Godzilla to transform into a Superpowered state, ONLY for Bagan to not only SURVIVE the fight, but just be beamed away by the retreating aliens.
    • In many ways, Zone Fighter. Despite being a ripoff of Ultraman, He is the only Tokusatsu superhero to have teamed up with Godzilla (and vice versa). Thanks to the internet, many fans still hope to see him return alongside Godzilla to this day.
  • Godzilla (2014):
    • Joe Brody is considered to be the best human character in the movie, and to some, the franchise as a whole. Being played by Bryan Cranston probably has something to do with that. The real reason he's listed as part of the ensemble is because he dies in the first half of the movie, but gives a memorable performance in that time.
    • The nameless Badass Driver bus driver who not only passes through a military/police barricade, he drives like hell when Godzilla has an explosive skirmish with the military.
    • Sergeant Morales has only three scenes but he is liked for being amicable and polite even in the face of danger.
  • Both Sinestro and Tomar-Re from Green Lantern are considered to be this by a good deal of people. It doesn't hurt that Sinestro already has an established fanbase carrying over from the comics, though Tomar-Re has developed a small following in other places.
  • Given that the series is often referred to as the "Hannibal Lecter series" and the latter two books are named after him, it's easy to forget that Lecter was a supporting character in Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins' 16 minutes of screen time in The Film of the Book for Silence is the least of any Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar winner.
  • It might surprise you to realize that Pinhead is actually the Ensemble Darkhorse of the Hellraiser series. In the first film he was only known as the 'Lead Cenobite', had very little actual screen time and wasn't even the main antagonist. He wasn't the villain in Hellbound: Hellraiser II either (he was actually killed by that film's Big Bad) and it wasn't until the third film where he took center stage. Clive Barker himself said of Pinhead that "It quickly became clear to all of us that he had made a mark on the consciousness of the audience out of all proportion to his screen time."
  • Ryan Evans of the High School Musical series. In the first film, he seems to just be Sharpay's dumber, less bitchy, and Ambiguously Gay twin. In the second film, however, he steps out of Sharpay's shadow, gets some much-needed Character Development, and is revealed to have mad baseball skillz in a hoyay-tastic duet with the lead's best friend. By the third film, he's the Wildcats' mascot and well-liked by everyone. When he's charged with the choreography of the "Senior Year" musical, he turns out to be so good at it that the scouts sent from Julliard offer him a scholarship on opening night. Please ignore how unlikely this would be in real life. Debates rage over among the fans whether Troy and Gabriella's relationship is genuinely sweet or sickening, whether Kelsi is adorable or annoying, whether Sharpay is grating or utterly fabulous - but no-one disagrees that Ryan is awesome.
    • Not only that, his actor is arguably the best singer, second best dancer and definitely the best with acting. In an interview, all the cast agreed Lucas was the most serious one of them and actually thought of character motivation, which is more then the writers seem to do, giving Ryan little quirks and realistic reactions to the insanity around him.
  • Hostage, from the book of the same name, has Marshall "Mars" Krupcheck.
  • The Hunger Games
    • Curly Haired Constipated Fuck (aka the tribute from District 4). The reason for his popularity? His amazing head of red curls as well as his constipated look in the magazine shoot.
    • Seneca Crane, thanks to his Badass Beard.
  • Inception
    • Tom Hardy's con-man-type character Eames is a definite case of this. He received a lot of buzz around the role, which, for an actor who was supposed to have gotten his big Hollywood break from Band of Brothers nearly a decade ago, is probably a relief at this point.
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Point Man Arthur is another case. A high percentage of fanworks made are focused on either character (whether paired with each other or not).
  • Inglourious Basterds
    • Sgt. Werner Rachtman has only one scene, in which his brains get bashed out with a baseball bat by Sgt. Donny Donowitz. Despite being a Nazi German soldier, his refusal to sell out his countrymen, even to save his own life, definitely made him a One-Scene Wonder. This is probably because he falls into My Country, Right or Wrong.
    • Though he has a larger role, Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz falls into this trope as well. He does little in the film's actual present timeframe, but he won people over by murdering thirteen Nazis officers in a flashback.
  • Q, in the James Bond series. Not only because he provides the gadgets that save his life, but also his lab with all the other cool and deadly spy equipment and his grumpiness towards 007. So much so that his final scene in The World Is Not Enough is really moving knowing that you will never see him again
    "I've always tried to teach you two things. One, never let them see you bleed; second, always have an escape plan."
  • Robert Muldoon and Roland Tembo are usually quite popular among the Jurassic Park fandom. Justified, as both are the Only Sane Man and Great White Hunter in their respective novel/movie. Not to mention that both are the ones in charge of the security of a lot of people.
    • Before the film, no-one really knew what a Velociraptor was. After the film, however, they became THE go-to dinosaur, rivalling Tyrannosaurus Rex in popularity.
  • M. Night Shyamalan put a film critic in Lady in the Water mainly so he could bash film critics for not liking The Village. A great many viewers felt this critic was the only likeable character in the film.
  • Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4 was just so cool that he stole the movie. It ended up becoming his breakout role to American audiences.
    • "He took your gun apart with just ONE DEFT MOVEMENT... how did he DO THAT?"
  • Bret Mackenzie's character from The Lord of the Rings gained a very, very devoted following of fans. He first appeared as a silent background extra in The Fellowship of the Ring at the Council of Elrond scene, where fans noted his expression and named him Figwit, which stands for "Frodo is great... who is that?" Peter Jackon himself became aware of the "Figwit" phenomena, so he asked McKenzie back for The Return of the King, where he got a little more prominent scene, with two lines and even a close-up. He even got some official merchandise as "Figwit" at that point. Then, when filming The Hobbit ten years later, they asked him to come back again, and even gave his character an on-screen name by retconning him as Lindir, a minor Elf in the Book of The Fellowship of the Ring. This time around, he appeared in four different scenes, had several lines and plenty of screentime.
    • Arwen the film slightly expands on her role, combining it with the most Badass elements of Glorfindel, and bringing in most elements of the love story which Tolkien left to the appendices.
    • Then there's Legolas, thanks to Orlando Bloom's portrayal of him.
  • In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey...
    • Radagast the Brown, mostly thanks to his Crazy Awesome badassery, dealing with the giant spiders, the Nazgl and the orcs with ease. (And among older fans, for being the Seventh Doctor in addition to the above.)
    • Within the group of Dwarves, there is Bofur, in part because of his greater character development, and his Crowning Moment of Heartwarming with Bilbo. It may also have something to do with him being played by the always charming James Nesbitt. He also has some of the best facial hair in the film, which is saying something in a film full of bearded men.
    • Kli and Fli as well, enjoying a case of Adaptational Attractiveness and a lot of screentime.
    • Ori, for those that don't consider him The Scrappy. He's just adorable.
  • The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of the most memorable characters in the entire movie, despite being a One-Scene Wonder. Ditto for the Knights Who Say Ni and the French Taunter.
  • While showing movies that would have faded into obscurity on their own, the hosts of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will sometimes find a favorite character in a generally-subpar film. Often, the fans agree.
  • Rocky and to a lesser extent Tim from Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead.
    • Some would argue that Reggie from Phantasm is right up there with Inspector Clouseau and Pinhead as far as defining this trope goes. He's the balding ice cream salesman sidekick in the first film — and the protagonist of the next three!
  • The original The Pink Panther was designed as a star vehicle for David Niven as a charming gentleman thief. Unluckily for Niven, Peter Sellers was cast as the thief's nemesis, the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, and ended up completely stealing the film. Several other movies were made featuring Clouseau, and when the thief character returned, he was played by Christopher Plummer.
  • Mac from Predator is arguably the third most memorable character in the movie after Ahnold and the Predator himself.
  • Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. This statement says it all:
  • The nameless chubby guy always sipping from a hip flask in Troma's Redneck Zombies is popular with fans of the film, despite never doing anything really relevant or even speaking. Even his actor ("Bill Johnson" according to the DVD commentary) went uncredited. And yet fans love the "Always Drinking Guy."
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera
    • Grave-Robber's actually a fairly minor character, but fans adore him. Him being played by the incredible Terrance Zdunich doesn't exactly hurt matters.
    • Pavi Largo could also be considered an example of this; he should be funny-but-creepy-as-hell, but he's played by Ogre, who makes the whole thing just too cute for words.
  • The Tarman zombie from Return of the Living Dead seems to be rather popular amongst zombie movie fans. He has had a figurine made and people also like to make Tarman costumes.
  • Wallace Wells in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
  • Scream 4 was the least successful film of the series by far, but just about everyone who's seen it declared Hayden Panettiere as Kirby the real Final Girl.
    • Both Dewey (all four films) and Randy (the first two and a cameo in the third) are really popular too. Dewey because of his awkward characteristics, and Randy for being the lovable Genre Savvy Meta Guy.
  • Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love. Eight minutes of screen time for Dame Judi Dench, and it wins her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar!
  • Promotion for Sin City showcased major actors like Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. Marv, one of the more popular characters from the comics got a few seconds in the trailers, likely because he was hideous and played by a lesser-known actor, Mickey Rourke (he hadn't made his comeback yet). Just look at the page image and find Marv on the movie poster. Fans of the film and critics focused most of their attention on Marv's character anyway. Comic fans and the filmmakers weren't surprised, though.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy
    • JK Simmons absolutely stole every scene he was in as J. Jonah Jameson while hamming it up like no other.
    • Though minor, Bruce Campbell's cameos were always memorable in each film. It's also worth noting that Campbell loves to credit himself for naming Spider-Man in the first film.
  • Loki from Thor has been hugely popular since the movie was released despite the fact that he is the villain and only has roughly twenty minutes of screen time. His popularity seems to rival that of Thor, the hero and older brother's popularity, especially the female fanbase. And he does a repeat performance in The Avengers, in many places beating characters who are popular enough to carry their own movies (and sequels): Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor (again). Advertising for the Thor sequel quickly became almost entirely "Here's more Loki". And several months after filming ended, they went back and shot some additional scenes just of him.
    • Another Thor example would be Darcy Lewis, played to perfection by Kat Dennings.
  • Agent Coulson from Thor, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers has quite a few fans. Watch "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer". You'll see why.
    • Coulson. He was actually in Iron Man 1. Remember the guy who kept trying to get Tony to get Iron Man to join SHIELD, was mostly ignored, and there's a Running Gag of him saying SHIELD's full name and being told it was too long? That's him. This gag's pretty much all he gets as well as being in a few crowd scenes. By now, he's one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just due to being his lovable Woobieish self, the face of SHIELD to everybody who doesn't like organizations like SHIELD. Powers That Be have definitely taken note and the actor has really gotten into the role, so he wound up in Thor and had a much bigger role in The Avengers. There are two short films with him (the other being The Consultant) and now he has appeared in first a non-canon side story in the comics, and then an appearance that definitely counts. Also, he's a major character in Ultimate Spider-Man, being the SHIELD agent who is under cover as the principal at Peter's high school, keeping an eye on them. His design is basically the exact likeness of his actor, Clark Gregg, and he also has the same voice - Gregg has so much fun with the role and is somewhat protective of it by now. There's just one Agent Coulson! He's also got a cameo in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Coulson's gone from a bit part to a phenomenon. For a middle-aged human in a world of superheroes, he really impressed.
  • Bruce Banner/The Hulk from The Avengers, thanks to the film's funnier moments featuring everyone's favorite green rage-monster and Mark Ruffalo's performance.
  • Dummy, from Iron Man. Sure, it's an artificially living thing but it has its fans.
    • As does JARVIS, who for some reason even has fangirls despite being a disembodied AI. The British accent and snarkiness are probably a major factor.
  • Some supporting players in The Three Stooges shorts have sizable fan bases, especially Vernon Dent, Christine McIntyre, and Emil Sitka.
  • No one watching later entries in the Tremors franchise, whether film sequels or TV series, would suspect that Burt Gummer was originally a supporting character.
  • TRON
  • Yuri Boyka from Undisputed II Last Man Standing
    • Gaga, the gangster who is Boyka's patron, also is quite adept at stealing the scenes he's in. Also, quite a few people think Andriago Silva, a capoeira fighter played by Lateef Crowder in Undisputed III: Redemption, should have had a much more prominent role than he did.
  • Michael Jai White in Universal Soldier: The Return.
  • Bruno Ganz as Jurgen in Unknown steals the movie and swallows it whole for breakfast. With tea.
  • In the X-Men movies:
    • Nightcrawler is exceedingly popular amongst many, mostly due to the opening of the second film and the truly memorable scene he had. Its almost a tradition for him to be the most surprisingly popular character in every adaptation, but it's usually because he's Fun Personified. In the film, they played up his religious side, and downplayed his funny charmer side. While many would see this as a worsening, the simple fact he's so damn badass in that one scene makes up for it.
      • Badass, and the fact that his scenes after that play up the The Woobie factor to full effect.
    • Similarly, his father Azazel, who appears in the prequel X-Men: First Class, is also a rather popular character, due to being, basically, Nightcrawler with red skin. Sure beats his really lame comic version.
    • Surprisingly, Cyclops has attracted a large group of fans. Due to being repeatedly screwed over by the directors and writers, many have taken to preferring him over Wolverine, a large flip from the comics. Many are wishing for his death in 3 to be ignored or retconned, and with rumors that it's now in Canon Discontinuity, many are happy. Considering this is the guy many hate for being 'boring', this is quite a feat. It helps that James Marsden, who plays Cyclops, is possibly the biggest X-Men fan in the main cast and ever enthusiastic about his role.
    • Colossus shows up for a grand total of three minutes in X2: X-Men United, during which he saves Siryn from being kidnapped, armors up on-screen, beats the crap out of several soldiers and offers to help Wolverine. The character proved to be so popular with moviegoers and fans that he returned as one of the six team members (although several of his scenes were cut) who take part in the final battle in X-Men: The Last Stand.
    • Even though Toad only appeared in the first movie, he is very popular. This is mainly due to the fact that he is tasked with taking out Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm by himself...and he utterly annihilates all three of them. Toad was supposed to appear in the second movie, and have a fight scene with Nightcrawler, but these plans were scrapped due to conflicts in Ray Park's schedule.
    • Wade Wilson from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Not Deadpool, oh no, but critics and fans pretty much unanimously praised Ryan Reynolds as pre-experimented Wade Wilson.
    • Yukio from The Wolverine has acquired some remarkable popularity amongst the fanbase and movie audiences.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:

      Even with all the Fandom Rivalry shenanigans and costume grievances over Quicksilver, he ends up stealing the show when he's on screen.

      Blink is one of the highlights of the movie because of her unique look and creative uses of her power in the action scenes. Most fans predicted this, since the character's comic counterpart is already a pretty big fan-favorite, and for the exact same reasons, no less.
  • Given his tendency to show up as a One-Scene Wonder Christopher Walken ends up in this role frequently, and many of his longer performances qualify as well.
  • Johnny from Airplane! and its sequel.
    Well, first the Earth cooled, and then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, and died and turned into oil, and then the Arabs came, and they all bought Mercedes Benzes, and then Prince Charles started wearing all of Lady Di's clothes. I couldn't believe it...
  • "Four for you, Glen Coco! You go, Glen Coco!"note 
  • In Jumper, most audiences believe that Griffin played by Jamie Bell was the true hero of the film and should have been the protagonist, wanting wangsty David to quietly teleport out of his own movie.
    • Due to his popularity even the author of the original novel ended up writing a spin-off based around him. This troper wouldn't say 'due to his popularity', given that said spin-off novel was written and published almost six months before the film came out! So, unless someone has a time machine.... (The real story is that the film company wanted a new book for a tie-in for the movie, but the author didn't want to write one featuring David, since the film made major changes from the original book. Thus, he decided to pick the secondary teleporter from the film, since that would center the tie-in book around a character who didn't exist in the previous Jumper books, making it clear to fans of the books that this was set in the 'movie universe' rather than that of the books.)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show has Columbia, the Big Bad's groupie. Fans usually see her as the most sympathetic character in the film, much moreso than nominal heroes Brad ("ASSHOLE!") and Janet ("SLUT!").
  • Jules Winnfield of Pulp Fiction has emerged as the movie's most popular character.
  • Pacific Rim: Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, despite it and its pilots not getting a lot of focus in the film and getting killed off, has become a fan favorite across the fandom. Could be its unique head and that it apparently has Tesla-infused fists. Or because the Russian-designed Jaegers operate under the simple rule that either the Kaiju goes down or they do, preferably whilst taking the Kaiju down with them. As such, they don't come equipped with escape hatches. Cherno's pilots Aleksis and Sasha Kaidanovsky have been the subject of much fanart. And it seems like del Toro himself agrees with the Cherno love.
  • Red from The Lone Ranger, mainly for her ivory leg with a gun in it.
  • Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass.
  • Man of Steel:
    • Faora has received a surprisingly large amount of positive fan attention considering her status as a tertiary character who has few lines or screen time. However, she offers one of the best fight scenes in the movie and is arguably more of a badass than either Superman or Zod, leaving everyone raving over her. Which is a great stroke of luck for her actress, considering she was considering quitting acting.
    • Colonel Hardy for having the biggest balls to start a knife fight with Faora despite being severely outmatched. He even quips a Pre-Mortem One-Liner before doing a suicide run into Zod's ship, sending her and himself into the Phantom Zone.
  • Spider from Elysium, whose fast talking antics and his determination as a badass make him very charismatic.
  • Pain and Gain:
    • Ed DuBois, the only heroic character in the movie and is much more likable in the movie than Lugo himself.
    • Paul Doyle, for being a tragic Anti-Villain that didn't want any part and gets redeemed by the end after all his troubles. Dwayne Johnson portrays that quite well in the movie.
  • The Wizard in the Leaky Cauldron from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban only has roughly ten seconds of screen time. During those ten seconds, he's seen reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" (which covers things like the beginning of the universe, black holes, and thermodynamics) while stirring his tea with wandless magic. So not only is he a complete genius, he'd have to be one of the most skilled magic users in the world.
  • Both Justin Long and Fred Willard's characters in Youth in Revolt as well as just about any of the reputable character actors with smaller supporting roles.
  • Despite Neighbors being pitched as Rogen vs. Efron, most critical reviews — even the negative ones — heaped the most praise on Rose Byrne's Kelly, who doesn't get stuck with a Women Are Wiser role and gets a lot of laughs going from button-downed house-wife to scheming partner-in-crime with Mac. Plus, she does a hilarious Keet impression of Anne Hathaway.

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