Q: Do I know you?A minor character who is given a greatly expanded role in the later part of the series, a new adaptation of a story, or in the Expanded Universe. It is usually safer to do this with an otherwise obscure character without much depth, since the likelihood of creating plot contradictions is lower. On the other hand, the character may or may not be allowed to have a huge effect on the plot depending on how much the writer is trying to follow source material. Can lead to some bizarre incongruities in planning (e.g. Overtook the Manga, Restricted Expanded Universe). Sometimes the minor character becomes an Ascended Extra just so the writers can immediately turn them into a Sacrificial Lion. This naturally occurs as a series goes on for long periods of time and useful for filler, technically not requiring you invent someone whole cloth. Be warned however that this character might be more liked by the fandom than the writers, who may have no compunction with getting rid of them when convenient. If a series involves a Time Skip between seasons or story arcs (or if time travel involves someone taking The Slow Path), this can happen when a character who was a child in the first part grows up enough to have an impact on the plot. This also happens somewhat regularly in Fan Fiction, often when writers feel a character has potential that wasn't fully exploited in the original source. See also O.C. Stand-in, They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character. Compare the Breakout Character, where a supporting character gains a fandom that rivals or exceeds the main characters and thus becomes more prominent in canon. Compare also the Ensemble Dark Horse where in a similar fashion, a supporting character role remains the same but that character receives more fans . See Breakout Villain specifically for when a would-be one-shot villain ascends to Big Bad status, either through Ascended Extra or Breakout Character. A One-Scene Wonder is not an Ascended Extra, at least officially; fanfic, on the other hand... See Mauve Shirt for when a member of the Redshirt Army gets his own name and minor characterization, but still doesn't become more than a minor supporting character in any way. For the villain equivalent, see Mook Promotion. The inverse of this trope is Demoted to Extra. Retroactive Recognition is when this happens in Real Life. O.C. Stand-in is when this happens in a fanfic. Compare Red Herring Shirt, only the ascension is intended from the beginning, and Ensemble Dark Horse, where fans become fascinated by a character who canonically has only a very small role, at least initially. Also, contrast with Demoted to Extra.
O'Brien: O'Brien. From the Enterprise.
Q: The Enterprise...? Ah yes! Weren't you one of the little people?
O'Brien: O'Brien. From the Enterprise.
Q: The Enterprise...? Ah yes! Weren't you one of the little people?
— Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Q-Less"
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- In his first appearance in the Robin Hood ballads, Guy Of Guisborne is a bounty hunter in horsehide armour who Robin beheads. Modern retellings have promoted the character being The Dragon to the Sheriff of Nottingham (or sometimes the Big Bad himself) because he was one of the few villains from the ballads to be given a name (and a catchy one, at that), and the fact that held his own against Robin in an epic swordfight described as lasting "two howres".
- It isn't unheard of for bands to include one of their member's (usually the lead singer) solo material into their concert set-lists and greatest hits albums. For example, Journey performed lead singer Steve Perry's hit single "Oh Sherrie" on their 1986 Raised On Radio tour.
- All the time. Go through a list of your favorite bands, and it's almost a guarantee that at least a handful of those bands had a touring guitarist/bassist/drummer that eventually became a full-time member after a year or two, or, barring that, a close friend or tech who was invited to replace a departing member.
- Opening Acts. It's not uncommon for them to become more popular than the band they toured with. Or never heard from again.
- Rare musical instrument example: Keyboard instruments (usually the harpsichord or organ) were originally used just for bass accompaniment (basso continuo). Then along came Johann Sebastian Bach, with his keyboard toccatas, preludes, fugues, passacaglias, fantasies, etc. which showed the world that keyboard instruments were fit as the main instrument of a concerto or even as a solo instrument.
- The harpsichord fell out of favour in the 19th Century, with Bach music largely having been migrated to the piano. In the 20th century, it enjoyed a revival, thanks largely to keyboard virtuosi and harpsichord enthusiasts Violet Gordon-Woodhouse and Wanda Landowska.
- The bassoon started out just the same way as the keyboard did. Then Antonio Vivaldi showcased the instrument in more than thirty bassoon concerti, giving the instrument the nicknames of both the clown and the gentleman of the orchestra.
- In the later years of U.S. Acres, Jim Davis' assistant Brett Koth gained a co-writer's credit, and his signature even appeared alongside Davis's. However, Koth was a longtime assistant of Davis's who had done just as much work on Garfield at that point without such credit. (Koth also had co-writer's credit when he and Davis penned a short-lived strip based on Mr. Potato Head in 2001.)
- In Bloom County, Opus started out in a one-joke throwaway gag where Binkley brought him home thinking he was a German shepherd. After appearing in a few bit parts in other one-strip gags, he didn't appear for a few months, and was later re-introduced and gradually became the main protagonist of the strip.
- The Pink Panther pinball, a very loose adaptation of The Return of the Pink Panther, elevates the jewel thief from a supporting character to equal billing with the Pink Panther himself.
- Done with a cranenote of all things in Last Action Hero. While it's a one-scene prop in the movie, it's the most prominent toy in the game, gets used in multiple modes, and is even featured on the sides of the cabinet and backbox.
- Before they were known for wrestling in triangle ladder matches on pay per view, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy first appeared on national television in 1994 as jobbers and sometimes didn't even appear, relegated to opening doors for other wrestlers.
- Marcela had been making sporadic appearances for CMLL since 1997 as an extra for pareja and tercia matches until 2004 when La Amapola, who was seemingly being groomed to succeed La Diabólica, Lady Apache and Ayako Hamada, was upset by her. They next year Marcela was at the forefront of CMLL's revived women's division and stayed there for ten years.
- Used for a World Wrestling Counsel angle, where Carly Colón had little interest in becoming a wrestler and was content to help his father's company by filming some shows. But then Ray González discovered that one of the cameramen was the son of the boss and decided to try and exploit the fact to his advantage...which led to him beating up Carly when he made it clear he wanted nothing to do with González. Then Carly decided to jump into a more active role.
- This happens quite a bit in wrestling. Many times when there's a need for non-wrestling roles in a show, they'll hire local wrestlers or talents from their developmental programs to fill in, and it stands to reason that eventually a few of them will get called up. A couple of famous examples:
- Frankie "The Future" Kazarian's first appearance on a Ring of Honor show was as a Do or Die reject. He later became a World Tag Team Champion, making his Red Baron very accurate.
- The highest paid free agent in all of "sports entertainment" as a security guard.
- Ivelisse Vélez first appeared on SHIMMER in video clips where she was beat up by Melanie Cruise and Wesna Busic.
- Paul Heyman guy and "Best In The World" CM Punk as a gangster in John Cena's WrestleMania 22 entrance.
- Before Dean Ambrose "beat" The Undertaker he served as one of his druids
- On !Bang! TV, Claudia "The Claw" Reiff started as the program's referee but then became a jobber and then ended up challenging for and winning the United States Title belt, beating her trainer Adam Windsor.
- And there's a really cool one, which counts as a Retroactive Recognition moment if you only started watching wrestling in 2006. Remember at the 2005 Royal Rumble when Kurt Angle was so incensed by Shawn Michaels quickly eliminating him that he got back in the ring and returned the favor? See all those referees and other backstage personnel coming out to stop Angle from beating Michaels to death? Isn't one of them....? Yup, that's Finlay. Of course, if you were just a casual WWE fan you had no idea that he'd been in WCW a decade earlier and had been training the WWE Divas for several years.
- John Laurinaitis was Demoted to Extra and then became an Ascended Extra. After his in-ring career was over, he eventually ended up in his more well-known role note - but careful peeks at WWE programming from a few years ago (for example, the time Randy Orton punted Vince McMahon) will show that he's been there all along. Then, in 2011, CM Punk name-dropped him in that promo, setting up his role as an on-screen authority figure.
- One of the security guards who carried a terrified Simon Dean to the ring for his match against the debuting Boogeyman on the December 2, 2005 SmackDown!? That's Cliff Compton, later known as Dice Domino of the tag team Deuce N' Domino.
- Toxxin was a clerk/manager of a tattoo parlor used by Ink Inc and Mexican America, indifferent to their difference so long as they remained peaceful in her shop. When a fight did break out though, she took Ink Inc's side. Christina Von Eerie had appeared on a TNA show the previous year alongside Shannon Moore, but it was a dark match that had no impact on any angles.
- Happened twofold with Dolph Ziggler, who first appeared in WWE in 2005 as Chavo Guerrero Jr.'s caddy in the short-lived and controversial Kerwin White gimmick. Once that gimmick was canned, he reappeared as Nicky, a member of the Spirit Squad. He finally debuted as a singles wrestler with the Dolph Ziggler name in 2008, where he eventually became World Champion in 2011.
- Batista first appeared in WWE as Deacon Batista, the muscle for D-Von Dudley of The Dudley Boys' short-lived Reverend D-von gimmick in 2002. It was the following year when Triple H picked him up as the main muscle for Evolution, and he went on to become a multiple-time champion.
- Cackling Jack, the panel operator for Hamish And Andy. He allegedly started out as a work experience kid, and is one of many behind-the-scenes people mentioned on the air, but he gets the most amount of time on-mic after Hamish and Andy themselves.
- The Shadow started out as the narrator of Detective Story Hour. When audiences proved more interested in the Shadow than the stories, writer Walter Gibson was commissioned to write about him. A full radio show started shortly thereafter, and a legend was born.
- A number of examples from Dino Attack RPG:
- PeabodySam's primary character, Rex, was originally an unnamed Red Shirt in Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG, who was later Retconned and revealed to have survived.
- Trouble was intended to be a one-off character, but his popularity ascended him to a more important role.
- Kat was originally introduced as an Affirmative Action Girl, and her character went on to much greater importance.
- Ata was originally The Generic Guy who thought his GPS was glitching. He was later reintroduced as a Communications Officer and ultimately revealed to be The Mole.
- Helmie was just supposed to be an unimportant barge helmsman who got Hotwire to Ogel's Island, but his character ended up being developed much more than Jackson Lake had initially expected.
- Hertz was introduced as a Red Shirt, but when he survived longer than usual, he graduated to Mauve Shirt and, ultimately, became that guy from that show's new primary character.
- Frank Einstein was a seemingly minor scientist introduced shortly before the Goo Caverns Story Arc, who went on to become Dino Attack Team's Reverse Mole, the creator of Pterisa, and the one responsible for Rex's Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- Like Hertz, Zelda Frodongan was introduced as a Red Shirt who defied the odds and survived, allowing her to become an important cast member.
- The alpha female T-Rex made her brief, minor debut in Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG. She was expanded upon and given much more character in Dino Attack RPG.
- Toku from Legend of the Five Rings. A simple peasant farmer who became a ronin samurai, he was originally a one-shot character, but he was so loved by the fans of the card game that he was worked in as a seminal part to the overarching story, including having a Clan founded for him (the Monkey) and eventually dying in a Heroic Sacrifice...then serving in the Army of the Dead and being named a minor Fortune (deity) by the Emperor.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, the Formorians were formerly just a very ugly type of giant that rarely got used. But with the creation of the default Nentir Vale setting for 4th Edition, they are now the major villain race of an entire plane (Specifically, the Feywild).
- In A Touch Of Evil, Lucy Hanbrook and the Scarlett Shadow were originally available as Allies. The Hero Pack One expansion made them into fully playable characters.
- In Warhammer 40,000, Harald Deathwolf was simply one of the 12 Wolf Lords of the Space Wolves with no backstory. Then the Codex author thought the generic Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf model looked too cool not to have its own backstory, and so wrote the full Saga of Harald Deathwolf in White Dwarf. The model even comes with a moulded shoulder pad allowing you to represent him specifically, and he was one of two Wolf Lords to get a transfer sheet for their Great Company. (Ragnar Blackmane, an actual special character didn't) All that, and he wasn't even an official named character. And then in the 7th Edition Codex, he is. So he's well and truly ascended.
- Erasmus Tycho was originally just a Blood Angels captain who appeared in a White Dwarf battle report, during which he was killed by an enemy psyker. Following this he was made a canon character with a full background, and was even made an HQ choice in the Blood Angels main force. Retaining the exact same wargear he had during his initial appearance.
- The gynosphinx from the 1st edition D&D adventure White Plume Mountain was a simple riddling monster encounter to ensure that Only Smart People May Pass. In Paul Kidd's novelisation of the adventure for Greyhawk Classics, the Justicar and his band befriend her, and she becomes a member of the group in Kidd's subsequent novels. Her name's Enid.
- Some characters who are apped in Super Smash Brothers Life Itself Are either Minor characters or people who did not have enough spotlight in there main games.
- Portal 2: The Unauthorized Musical
- The Cores that only appeared briefly at the end of the original Portal 2 are prominent characters with defined personalities and backstories. Special mention goes to Space Core, who, in a feat of Adaptational Heroism, physically drags Wheatley through the moon-portal at the end of the play.
- Caroline is a strange example of this. While she is a very important character, she only has a few short lines in Portal 2. However, in the musical she's a very prominent character.
- In the stage musical of Beauty and the Beast, the feather duster and the wardrobe are given bigger roles, more developed personalities, and names, Babette and Madame de la Grande Bouche, respectively.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2013 West End musical) elevates Charlie's other grandparents to equal status with Older Sidekick Grandpa Joe by having them share Mr. Exposition duties in Act One. Mr. and Mrs. Bucket (especially the former) also get more-rounded personalities and a Parental Love Song. Mrs. Teavee is elevated from a more-or-less homogenous Doting Parent in the novel into a Stepford Smiler Housewife at the mercy of an Enfant Terrible son and a key source of comedy in Act Two.
- Neil Simon's first play, Come Blow Your Horn, briefly mentions an offstage character named Felix Ungar. Felix, of course, later became half of the eponymous duo in Simon's The Odd Couple and its film and TV adaptations.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's main character, Albus Potter, had about four lines at the end of the final Harry Potter book. Notably, all those four-ish lines are in the play, so Albus's ascension is immediate.
- Miss Saigon: Ruthie Henshall is one of the nameless bar girls in the original London production before eventually playing the role of Ellen (the woman Chris marries after the war). In fact, most of the "bar girl" actresses went on to play Kim (the titular character) or Ellen.
- Will Parker is one half of the Beta Couple in the musical Oklahoma!. He wasn't really a character in Green Grow The Lilacs (the straight play Oklahoma! was derived from), which mentioned him once.
- In-universe example: Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera was a chorus girl until Carlotta stormed off the set in a huff.
- Speaking of which, many of the alternates/understudies for the three main roles eventually took on the role proper in other productions—Rebecca Caine was an alternate for Christine in the initial London production before being the main Christine in the Toronto one, many of the actors who played Raoul eventually played the Phantom, etc.
- Compared to their roles in the Pokémon anime, Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum have much larger roles in Pokémon Live!.
- As per the usual, Shakespeare Did It.
- Several minor characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth seem to barely qualify to have names until very late into the play.
- Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare's source, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, he makes one appearance, and only gets mentioned at all because he happens to be sitting next to Juliet at the feast. Shakespeare makes him Romeo's best friend, the only person who can maintain connections with both the Capulets and the Montegues, a Trickster and a Deadpan Snarker.
- In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the two most minor characters in Hamlet become the focus of the whole story, and Hamlet becomes just a bit part.
- Shrek the Musical expands the roles of Pinocchio, Gingy, and the rest of the banished fairy tale creatures by introducing a new substory in which they rebel against Lord Farquaad's laws against "freaks". This new story, of course, was included to help further the show's moral of embracing one's uniqueness, and their show stopping number, "Freak Flag", delivers the message perfectly.
- The Wiz gives the Good Witch of the North a larger role than she had in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In that book, she prepared Dorothy for her journey to the eponymous wizard, then disappeared for the rest of the story. In the play (and NBC's telecast), the witch (now named Addaperle), re-appears after the Wiz leaves Dorothy behind in Oz, then calls Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, to help Dorothy go home to Kansas.
- The Toa Inika from BIONICLE started out as mere Matoran who were barely mentioned (if at all) in the Chronicles series of books. In Legends, however, they become the central heroes for the first two thirds of the Mask of Life story arc. Special mention goes to Hahli who started out as a randomly introduced Ga-Matoran in 2002, replacing the little-known Kotu as the series' "secondary" Ga-Matoran character, and was Promoted to Love Interest to Jaller almost immediately. In 2003, she was the star of her own online game and became an important supporting character in The Movie, thereby pushing Macku, the former "main" Ga-Matoran, into "second-tier" status.
- Most of the '04 Matoran characters first appeared in '03 in the Mata Nui Online Game II as background NPCs — although in-universe, they've technically been demoted to extras, seeing as '04 was a flashback year. An exception is Ahkmou: introduced as an unnamed bazaar trader in the original MNOG, brought back and given a name in MNOG II, and released as a set in '04 (which might have been purely coincidental — the toy looked like him, but there's no indication that that was the designers' intent), preserving some of his storyline importance even later on in the series. This would have culminated in him becoming a Toa and thus getting a new set in 2008, but its plans were canceled.
- Take Care Bear of the Care Bears had only appeared in one coloring book in 1987, and nowhere else. Most fans never knew her. Then, the 2002 relaunch of the Care Bears included Take Care Bear in the toyline. Her tummy symbol from 1987 was an apple, because Take Care Bear promoted good health; but the apple now belongs to Smart Heart Bear, so Take Care Bear's tummy symbol is now a heart hugging a star.
- Transformers: There's numerous examples, but exclusively toy wise one of the biggest would be Exhaust. Initially he was an unnamed redeco of Wheeljack with a new head that was an homage to Marlboro Cigarettes (named Marlboor for trademark reasons). He's only been referenced twice in fiction (once in the Dreamwave comics and again in a minor toy redeco of Prime Wheeljack),and his original toy isn't even a Transformer, it's still part of the diaclone line. He saw no headway until 2014 where it's revealed that the Masterpiece Wheeljack, one off the most expensive and articulated of figures, would get a retool into him (as well as retroactively naming him Exhaust as he went by Marlboor Wheeljack before). Exhaust is now the most obscure character to receive such an upgrade, unfortunately due to copyright claims by Marlboro's parent company as well as The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement which prohibits selling products with tobacco markings in products that could end up in children's hands, Exhaust is now illegal to sell in the United States.
- After being Demoted to Extra in the original version of Tsukihime, Satsuki Yumizuka (Sacchin to fans) has been confirmed to have regained her own route in the upcoming Tsukihime remake. Isn't it great, Sacchin?
- Fate/stay night:
- While an important character, Archer has little actual relevance to the Fate route that the anime is based off of. However, he's such a popular/interesting character that his importance and screen time are rather increased. They mostly drag in bits of information from the UBW path and fully animate the battle with Berserker, which was only alluded to in the game itself.
- Sakura's rare and unobtrusive appearances in the first two arcs would not lead players to suspect she'd become the Love Interest and MacGuffin Super Person of the final arc.
- Yukika, Kaede and Kane, those three girls who only appear in a single scene of the Fate/stay night Visual Novel become recurring characters in the sequel Fate/hollow ataraxia.
- Mordred started off as just being mentioned in the original Visual Novel. He (or rather she) then got a cameo in the anime, being summoned in Fate/Apocrypha, and then gets the closest role to a Tritagonist amongst the summonable Servants in Fate/Grand Order.
- Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!: Oodles and oodles of characters get their own standing drawings and voice actors/actresses in the sequel, such as the Ninja Maid contingent, assistant instructor Ru, and Gale and Gates, to name but a few. A handful also get the vaunted heroine treatment.
- In Akatsuki No Goei's fandisc, the supporting character Kyouka got her own proper route, as did Anzu. Kyouka seems as though she may have been intended to be a heroine in the original story, though.
- In AIR, Kano Kirishima and Minagi Tohno were Demoted to Extra, and never referenced again, not even in the movie. However, both girls were given a second chance in Eternal Fighter Zero, where they appear as playable characters: Kano uses elemental magic to fight, and Minagi weaponizes her rice tickets. Minagi's friend Michiru counts as well, as she and Minagi fight jointly, although you can only control Michiru vis special moves.
- Something similar happened to characters from Kanon: Sayuri Kurata was originally a support character, but not one of the selectable girls, hoever, she became a playable character in Eternal Fighter Zero, where she fights with Magical Girl powers.
- Later, in the Bad Moon Edition Updated Re-release, Kaori Misaka and Mishio Amano were added to the roster: Kaori as a powerful boxer, and Mishio as a spear master; Much later, in the Memorial version, Akiko Minase was also added as a playable character, she fighs with a vast array of household tools, and can also use her "Special Jam" in battle.
- The Other Side has a number of examples:
- Ethan, a minor character in Season 1, got a rather surprising Promotion to Opening Titles in Season 2. However, this didn't end up translating into more screentime, and the only episode where he ever really got any prominence was the one in which he died.
- Brent, a wordless extra in of one episode in Season 1, gained so much momentum with a guest stint in Season 2 that he's made it to the title credits of Season 3.
- Mr. Livingston was originally Turk's Bad Boss, but he ended up reprising the role in Season 2 several times due to how he was tied to the background stories of several characters. Also Promoted to Opening Titles in Season 3.
- GamerGod88 is one for Jacksfilms, appearing in a few sketches before becoming the star of his own show.
- From the Yogscast as a group:
- Turpster was never exactly "unimportant", but was more of a behind the scenes kind of guy during the early days. However, he started doing more livestreams and gained a bit of an audience, eventually gaining his own channel. Then he became a recurring player on Sips' channel for Garry's Mod, and developed a substantial fanbase. While his uploading is still more sporadic compared to the rest of the crew, he's hardly the lesser-known figure from before.
- Strippin was initially just an admin at Yogtowers, but became good friends with In The Little Wood and Sparkles*, appearing with them on Christmas livestreams and gaining a loyal fanbase. He was eventually given the go-ahead from Lewis Brindley to launch his own channel, and the rest is history.
- The Annoying Orange: Pear made a brief appearance in the first episode as a one-off gag. He didn't make another appearance until 13 episodes in, and a few seasons later was elevated to become the Deuteragonist to Orange.
- Super Mario Logan: The Brooklyn Guy appeared in an SML Short and didn't appear again until "Bowser Junior's Summer School 5". Following this, he became more of a recurring/major character afterwards, like Pear in the above example.
- In Noob T-Man was a Recurring Extra that was showed up whenever a scene required a Coalition players that wasn't one of the other established ones. By the time Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions and Noob: La Quête Légendaire roll in, he's the first to benefit from the bigger focus the Coalition has been getting.
- Ivanhoe: The King's Knight features the mentioned Edwin Turneham as Edwin of Gordale as a one-shot character.