Arc Hero

How do you top the first outing? You have to add something unique to the sequel, or else why would anyone buy it? Sometimes this means introducing a new obstacle in the Arc Villain, but you could also introduce a new partner. That's where the Arc Hero comes in.

Basically if you start with the adventures of Alice, in the sequel you follow the adventures of Alice and Bob. Then in the third the main characters are Alice and Charley. And so on.

You don't want to write out the characters you already built your series off of, but what's The Hero without a new Foil to keep things interesting? Not every new cast member counts. They should get a good amount of Character Focus and have a real impact. A new sidekick you have to learn to work with, a Sixth Ranger with history with the Arc Villain, a new Rival that changes how you look at things. Any of them can work.

In Videogames, an Arc Hero might also something to do with new gameplay mechanics. Sometimes even if the new mechanic is just multiplayer.

Compare the shorter Day in the Limelight and Spotlight-Stealing Squad when they completely overshadow the main guy. The Arc Hero is usually a supporting cast member to whoever The Hero is. If the Arc Hero becomes The Hero outright it may overlap with Changing of the Guard or Contrasting Sequel Main Character. Doing this too often can result in Loads and Loads of Characters, and old favorites who used to carry the plot getting Demoted to Extra.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Dragon Ball: The first three arcs in Z focused on a new hero or anti hero, mostly because of Goku's extended absences, but he would still come back in time to be the main hero of the final fight.
    • The Saiyan Saga heavily featured previous Arc Villain Picollo as the first point of contact with Raditz, the co-founding of the Z fighters with Goku to oppose him, the kidnapping, training, and character development he goes through with Gohan, leading the charge against Nappa and ending in a Heroic Sacrifice just in time for Goku to return and take center stage in the final battle.
    • The Namek/Frieza Saga heavily featured previous Arc Villain Vegeta whose relationship with Frieza's Army, the Ginyu Force, and Frieza himself gave context to the battles, as well as his transition from villain to free agent to joining to Z Fighters to even have a chance at beating Frieza. He is also killed in action just in time for Goku to take center stage in the final battle, but not before pouring his heart out to the main hero.
    • The Android Saga overall is about newcomer Future Trunks arriving to warn the others of the Android threat, his strenuous relationship with his father Vegeta in contrast to his hero worship of Goku on full display, and another version of him's time machine being the conduit that Cell came to their Universe.
      • The sub Cell Games Arc looked like it was going to be about Goku,who again takes center stage in the final battle, but he makes a conscious decision to pass the reins on to Gohan.
  • Pokémon: While Ash is the show's constant protagonist, each new region after Johto switches up the team he travels with — after Misty and Brock in Kanto and Johto, it's May, Max, and Brock in Hoenn, Brock and Dawn in Sinnoh, Iris and Cilan in Unova, and Clemont, Bonnie, and Serena in Kalos. Each new Deuteragonist has their own arc, personality, and motivations, and more relationships with the natives of each region.
  • Done in every sequel arc of Sailor Moon.
    • In the second arc, we're introduced to Chibiusa, Usagi and Mamoru's daughter from the future who also becomes a Sailor Guardian by the end of the story. We also get to know the mysterious Sailor Pluto.
    • In the third arc,expands the idea of Sailor Pluto into an entire Outer Senshi team, bringing Haruka (Uranus) and Michiru (Neptune) as the focus of many episodes, and Hotaru (Saturn) as the ultimate McGuffin.
    • On the fourth story arc, Chibiusa befriends a Winged Unicorn named Pegasus which becomes central to the plot to the point of being the McGuffin all along.
    • The fifth and final arc introduces us to the Sailor Starlights and Chibi-Chibi who the main mysteries from the storyline surround.

Video Games
  • Sonic Team has done this throughout the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, to the point you could almost subtitle them based on the Arc Hero. Of course, it eventually became a never ending Debut Queue and lead to some backlash due to Loads and Loads of Characters.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Sonic and Tails, plot wise a new sidekick, gameplay introducing two player mode.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Sonic and Knuckles, plotwise a new rival, gameplay introducing characters with different abilities.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 Sonic and Shadow, plot-wise another new rival who was directly related to Space Colony Ark and Gerald Robotnik's experiments. Also introducing the idea of seeing the plot from different perspectives with Hero Mode and Dark Mode.
    • Sonic Heroes Sonic and Tails and Knuckles. Plotwise the Power of Friendship on full display and gameplay wise the Stance System of changing the leader on the fly.
    • Sonic Rush Sonic and Blaze, who had a direct relationship with new Arc Villain Eggman Nega.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) Sonic and Silver, who came to stop Sonic from becoming the Iblis Trigger and creating his Bad Future.
    • Sonic Unleashed Sonic and Chip, a new sidekick also directly related to the new Arc Villain. Gameplay was more about the contrast between default Sonic and his new werewolf-like form.
    • Sonic Colors Sonic and Yacker, or the Wisps generally, a new powerup system.
    • Sonic Generations Sonic and Sonic bringing it full circle for the anniversary, combining new gameplay with classic gameplay.
  • Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, did this, making a point of putting the other main playable character, Catwoman, whose story affects the Batman part of the story. She plays similarly, but not the same, giving it a unique challenge. There's also a bunch of DLC characters for challenge maps, but they're far closer to pallet swaps for Batman, and don't have a playable role in the story.
  • Donkey Kong made Mario famous. Mario Bros. gave him a brother named Luigi for two player mode. The rest is history.
    • Super Mario World introduced the Power Up Mount with Yoshi who Mario had to help save Dinosaur Land.
    • Yoshi's Island: In addition to letting Yoshi be The Hero and basing most of the game around his abilities, it also introduced Baby Mario who directly tied into the plot, some power ups, and the unique take on the health meter.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Similarly made Luigi The Hero for once, but introduced Prof. E. Gadd who had already been on the case in the haunted mansion and provides story justification for new gameplay gadgets like the vacuum and even the next game's water cannon.
    • Super Mario Sunshine: Introduced FLUDD as Mario's assistant to help take care of Arc Villain Shadow Mario's paint, and personified the water cannon gameplay additions and powerups.
    • Super Mario Galaxy: Brought Rosalina and Luma as the force opposing Bowser throughout the galaxy, and personifying/granting Mario the new gameplay mechanics of everything from his all-purpose Spin Move, to shooting Star Bits, to the Launch Stars and other environment features throughout the levels. The sequel also brought Lubba as the pilot of Star Ship Mario, the new worldmap/hub world hybrid system.
  • On the Donkey Kong side of things. The second DKC game made Diddy The Hero, and introduced Dixie his girlfriend to personify to new gliding mechanics. The third followed formula by making Dixie The Hero, and introducing Kiddy her cousin to personify the new power based mechanics.
  • Ganbare Goemon 2 introduced Ebisumaru, who would be Goemon's sidekick and comic relief for the entire series afterward.
  • Halo: Master Chief is the star of the show, but sometimes there's a second protagonist:
    • Halo 2 did this with the Arbiter, whose plot starts out being separate from the Master Chief's, but then they come together at the end of the game. The Arbiter is also the second player character in Halo 3.
    • Halo 5: Guardians does this with Jameson Locke and Fireteam Osiris; not coincidentally, Halo 5 is also the second game of a saga. Unlike Halo 2 however, which had you playing as the Arbiter be a plot twist, all of 5's promotional material was very clear about the game having two protagonists, focusing on their contrasting personalities and ideals. The cover art has them glaring at each other, and a lampshade is hung about the fact that, since Locke and his team are hunting the Chief and his team, the former are going to be hated by everyone.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit 2 introduced Jazz's brother Spaz.
  • King of Fighters manages this within each major story arc in the series.
    • While the '94 had Kyo be the main protagonist, The proper Orochi Trilogy ('95-'97) gave some measure of focus on both Kyo and his rival, Iori.
    • The NESTS Trilogy ('99-'01) gave focus to both Kyo and K'.
    • The Ash trilogy ('03, XI, XIII) gave focus to Kyo and new protagonist/antagonist Ash Crimson.
  • Dishonored 2 is doing this, having two main playable characters. Playing with the trope, the second was little more than a MacGuffin in the first game.
  • Half-Life 2 did this with Alyx Vance, who plays a major role in the franchise and is rather beloved by fans, with few detractors.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 did this infamously. Solid Snake was playable for the heavily-advertised prologue chapter. Then you switched to Raiden for the real game, with Snake acting as a part of your mission control.
  • Inverted with Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2; the original game allows the player to choose between playing Jude, a medical student who gets swept up in a demigod's plan to save the world from evil technology, or Milla, the demigod in question, with the decision affecting a few missions and cut scenes but ultimately not changing the game much. In Tales of Xillia 2, on the other hand, the player can only play as Ludger, a Guns Akimbo-wielding... cook.
  • Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two has Mickey and Oswald playable, while Epic Mickey only has Mickey. The title is one of the more blatant uses of the trope, managing to not only emphasis that there's now two, but that it's the second game, by using "two" twice.
  • Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus introduced 2 more teams as counterparts for the initial two: for the good guys' side (Hanzo academy) there's Gessen Girls High and for the bad guys (Homura's Crimson Squad) there's the (second gen) Hebijo Academy. Both of the new groups look down on the old ones for getting soft on each other (in the prev game the two initial groups grew to respect each other greatly) which serves to highlight the Grey and Grey Morality in the game's lore and paint the two new groups as zealots of their own philosophies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Since Ocarina the new Fairy Companion tends to be the main supporting character for each game, partially due to having to be the Voice for the Voiceless since Link is the Heroic Mime.
    • Ocarina of Time added Navi to personify the new Z-Targeting system. She was the fairy for 'the boy without a fairy' and his guide as he fulfilled his destiny. Tatl in the direct followup Majora's Mask didn't add anything gameplay wise, but was friends with Arc Villain Skull Kid and the sister of his fairy companion Tael.
    • The Wind Waker: The King of Red Lions gave character to the sailing mechanics as a talking boat. Getting deeper into the plot, it's revealed he's actually the King of Hyrule trying to awaken and reunite this era's Link and Zelda with their Triforce pieces to end Ganon and bury old Hyrule once and for all.
    • The Minish Cap: Ezlo, the titular Minish Cap, was the former mentor of Arc Villain Vaati and was the character tied to the growing and shrinking mechanics.
    • Twilight Princess: Midna, the titular Twilight Princess, partners with Link and commands his new wolf form, as well as managing teleportation and a few other new twilight abilities. Link's story to save his friends ends about a third through the game, with the rest about her quest to reclaim her throne from Usurper King Zant.
    • Skyward Sword: Fi, the titular Skyward Sword, personified the new one-to-one motion controls, and various new abilities of the Goddess/Master Sword. She's Link's guide to become Hylia's chosen hero and is the Good Counterpart to Arc Villain Ghirahim.

Western Animation
  • Star Wars Rebels: Season 2 adds Ashoka Tano to the cast as a Big Good type figure leading Kanan and Ezra to contrast the new Big Bad Arc Villain Darth Vader leading the Inquisitors. She also has history with him as his former apprentice.
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