Deuteragonist. The second guy. No, not the Sidekick
, who follows the main character around. Not the Supporting Protagonist
, who is the main character yet not the focus of the story. Not the Decoy Protagonist
either. The second person the show revolves around.
The deuteragonist (from Greek: second actor) is the second important character in the story; the first is, of course, The Protagonist
. This person can be either with
, or against
the protagonist - thus sometimes pulling double duty as a major antagonist or rival
to the protagonist; though they are rarely the "main villain
" in this sort of scenario, they may be a high ranking
minion. If on the same side as the protagonist they can be a sidekick
, or love interest as long as they are given enough screen time independent of the main protagonist.
We can see how their actions drive the plot just as much as those of the protagonist. If there's another example of this trope in play following the previous one, then that character is the Tritagonist
An important aspect is that we see quite a bit of the story from this character's point of view, and that they get a good amount of screen time/pages.
Subtropes include Supporting Leader
. The Sidekick
or The Lancer
can become a deuteragonist if given enough focus on their own. In a romance story, the Official Couple
will usually be the protagonist and deuteragonist. If a character seems like a deuteragonist but doesn't get as much screentime, they're likely the Hero of Another Story
. Compare Two Lines, No Waiting
, where the plots don't actually intersect.
calls this character the Impact Character, while The Hollywood Formula
refers to this as the Relationship character.
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Anime and Manga
- Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist.
- In Valvrave the Liberator, L-Elf is this, and serves as a deliberate contrast to the main hero. They're both roughly the same age, but while Haruto is a normal teenage student, L-Elf is a Child Soldier, genius tactician, and brutal fighter. Haruto gets super powers and a bad ass mecha, L-Elf relies on his years of skills. Haruto is trying to defend his homeland (which L-Elf initially invaded), and L-Elf is trying to overthrow his homeland and defend his childhood love. Its only under very specific and unusual circumstances that they're working together.
- Bleach switches the role of Deuteragonist to several different characters over the years. The first was Rukia Kuchiki, who served as Ichigo's mentor, partner and pseudo-love interest, as well as the Damsel in Distress (something she willingly agreed to on account of being a Death Seeker) for the Soul Society arc.
- After The Reveal over who the Big Bad was, Rukia was then replaced by Orihime Inoue as the deuteragonist. Her own personality flaws and unique powers became the focus for the first half of the Arrancar arc, to the point where she was blackmailed into joining the Big Bad's forces and thus became the second Damsel in Distress of the series. Since the Rescue Arc in Hueco Mundo took place concurrently with a Big Badass Battle Sequence in a replica of Karakura Town, Orihime lost the mantle of deuteragonist after Ulquiorra was defeated (leaving only Yammy as the last big opponent.)
- Sosuke Aizen, the Big Bad, briefly became the deuteragonist following his Let's Get Dangerous moment in Fake Karakura, where he became the primary focus via fighting just about every able-bodied combatant left in the series by that point. He defeated everyone who went at him, in some form or other, and ended up as the only other prominently featured character (along with Ichigo) who did not die or get shafted for the Deicide arc.
- The Millennial Blood War, the final arc of the series, has switched it to Uryu Ishida. Although the arc has technically featured him less than other characters, his race - the Quincies - have returned as the primary enemies to the Shinigami, and his Face-Heel Turn (disliked by his own side, never mind that of his friends) will inevitably prove to become one of the focal points of the Blood War.
- Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass. There is at least one interview from the creators stating that Code Geass was intended as a double narrative of Lelouch and Suzaku's stories. He even gets a spin-off "Suzaku of the Counterattack".
- C.C. and Kallen, the female leads, are the Tritagonist and the Tetragonist (though which is which is debatable).
- Persona 4 Golden: The Animation elevates Marie into the role of Deuteragonist, as she becomes the focal point of the story, has scenes with Narukami that never happened in the original game source, and is featured more prominently in promotional art than anybody that isn't the protagonist.
- In Death Note, the deuteragonist is L, who is the antagonist. Ryuk the shinigami is the Tritagonist.
- Takamura Mamoru from Hajime No Ippo could also be considered one.
- With Itagaki Manabu and Miyata Ichiro as tritagonists.
- Batou of Ghost in the Shell. Long-time partner of The Major, he even becomes The Protagonist after The Major vanishes. Fits the role in the TV series too.
- In the first season, Togusa might be this or the tritagonist, given that he does a lot of the actual legwork in investigating The Laughing Man and tends to have more Days In The Limelight. He's also used as a foil to the rest of the cast, being more down to earth and much more of a newcomer (having been recruited recently as a police officer and having virtually no cyborg implants until the third movie). Not to mention he's almost always Locked Out of the Loop to set up The Reveal of unspoken plans (the best example being the final episode of the first season, which recaps on the events entirely from his perspective and avoids revealing the team survived and he's the last member to be brought back and debriefed until the end).
- Yang Wen-Li in Legend of Galactic Heroes, with Reinhard von Lohengramm being the protagonist.
- Jounouchi/Joey in Yu-Gi-Oh!, according to Word of God. In the anime adaptation, Kaiba is made deuteragonist and Joey is the definite tritagonist.
- Madlax and Margaret Burton in Madlax, though it's difficult to say who is the main girl and who, the second, since technically, they are the same person in two separate bodies.
- Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
- Depending on whom you think is The Protagonist of StrikerS, Nanoha or Subaru, the other one would be the deuteragonist.
- From Full Metal Panic!, Kaname Chidori is this to the series' protagonist Sosuske Sagara. One might even say she's even the main protagonist of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu.
- Ja Wangnan in the second season of Tower of God.
- The roles of deuteragonist and tritagonist in Dragon Ball shift from arc to arc:
- Opening arc: Bulma as the deuteragonist and either Oolong or Yamcha as the tritagonist.
- First Tournament Arc: Krillin as deuteragonist, Master Roshi the tritagonist.
- Red Ribbon Saga: No one, because Goku was on his own for most of the time.
- Second Tournament Arc, King Piccolo Arc, and third Tournament Arc: Tenshinhan is deuteragonist, Master Roshi is tritagonist.
- Dragon Ball Z: Initially Gohan as deuteragonist with Vegeta as the tritagonist. But, by the end, these positions were swapped.
- The movies in particular are in love with switching this around. Goku himself even gets to serve in the deuteragonist role in a few of them (mainly movies 9 and 13 to Gohan and Trunks respectively) rather than his usual one of protagonist.
- Athrun Zala in the Cosmic Era timeline.
- Disputed in Destiny. Before POV shift, Destiny had Shinn as protagonist, Athrun as deuteragonist, and Kira as triteragonist. At the end, Kira is the protagonist, Athrun still deuteragonist, and Shinn is the triteragonist. On average, and in the Special edition anyway, Athrun is the main character (which is odd because he always pilots a red Gundam, while the hero's Gundam has to be white/blue/red).
- The Astray spinoff as a whole has Lowe Gear as primary protagonist and Gai Murakamo as a deuteragonist. Jess Rabble and Ergnes Brahe have also been protagonists for specific story arcs, but are thereafter reduced to side characters.
- Saji Crossroad during Gundam 00's second season.
- Sasuke Uchiha develops into this near the end of the first half of Naruto. Shippuden has had some full length arcs with Sasuke as the lead character and he plays a very important role in Naruto's motives.
- In Busou Renkin, Tokiko, and to a lesser extent, Papillion.
- A Certain Magical Index has Accelerator (eventually) as the deuteragonist and much later Hamazura as tritagonist..
- Homura Akemi of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is this to Madoka's protagonist, with Sayaka as the Tritagonist and Kyouko as the Tetragonist.
- The deuteragonist shifts in Weiß Kreuz. Omi holds the title for Kapitel, Sena does for Gluhen, and Ken takes over for Side B. Youji, meanwhile, only ever gets as high as the tritagonist in Gluhen.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a different one depending on what part of the story you're in. The first part it's Kamina (who is also the Decoy Protagonist), the second it's Nia, the third it's Rossiu and then Viral.
- Kill la Kill has Satsuki Kiryuin, who zigzags between Anti-Villain and Anti-Hero as she challenges Ryuko Matoi.
- Ryohou in the first half of Scryed. In the second half, he's a true joint protagonist with Kazuma.
- Detective Conan— in Osaka arcs Heiji is often this, while in Non Serial Movies deuteragonists has become a common scene—some use recurring characters, but some used One Shot Characters.
- Zatch Bell!'s book owner Kiyo Takamine definitely counts.
- Blood+ has Kai as the deuteragonist to Saya's protagonist. David is the tritagonist.
- In Ranma ˝, Akane Tendo is the deuteragonist with Ryoga as the tritagonist.
- In Tiger & Bunny, Barnaby is the Deuteragonist to his partner Kotetsu's Hero Protagonist. Their screen-time division is about 40% and 60% respectively; Barnaby's past and involvement with the show's Big Bad is what leads to Kotetsu being drawn into the main plot. Kotetsu is effectively the catalyst for the emotions, ideals and philosophies that the story tries to put across while Barnaby provides the drive for the plot.
- Meeting, and subsequently providing shelter to, Tokito Minoru is the reason Wild Adapter's Anti-Hero protagonist Kubota Makoto becomes involved in the plot proper. Page-time division is something like 45% and 55%, especially later on in the story where Tokito becomes more and more involved with Kubota's life and vice-versa.
- The Steel Ball Run arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has an interesting variant. Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli share the protagonist role equally for the first 21 volumes, but Gyro dies at the hands of the arc's Big Bad after failing to defeat him, leading to Johnny taking the spotlight completely in the last 3 volumes.
- Another anomalous example can be seen in Get Backers. Due to the anime being produced while the manga was less than halfway through its storyline, Ban, who's past and personality is explored much later on in the manga than his partner and best friend Ginji's, appears to be a cross between the Deuteragonist and The Artifact. In the manga he is the Deuteragonist during the first 12 or so volumes, but is later promoted to share the protagonist role with Ginji.
- Makise Kurisu in Steins;Gate, but more so in the second half.
- Chrono in the manga version of Chrono Crusade, while Rosette Christopher is the protagonist.
- Reki from Haibane Renmei. Initially she serves as a mentor to protagonist Rakka, but it soon becomes clear she has a whole story of her own.
- Starting from the Advance Generation series onward, Pokémon isn't just about Ash Ketchum anymore. His female companions (May during the aforementioned AG saga, and later Dawn) also get their focus by having a quest running concurrently with Ash's. Dawn is notable for being mentioned in Japanese title scroll(a brief summary of the gist of the show shown at the begining of ever intro) as a main character alongside Ash, something that neither May nor the female companions after her(obviously she was removed when she stopped being a regular) got.
- In Pokémon Special, Sapphire in the RS chapter, White in the BW. In the Sinnoh-based chapters, it's a little hard to say who among Dia, Pearl, and Platinum have this role seeing how the focus is on all of them near equally.
- Griffith from Berserk plays this role, as well as being the main antagonist of the story.
- Kotomine Kirei from Fate/Zero is the Deuteragonist to Emiya Kiritsugu's Protagonist, with Waver Velvet being the Tritagonist.
- In Sangatsu no Lion, the narrative implies early on that it would be either of the two eldest Kawamoto sisters, Akari and Hina. Once the character gets their own story arc well into the series run that does not intrinsically involve Rei until he steps in to help with their problems, the deuteragonist is made clear. It's Hina, who begins to go through some rather nasty bullying problems, leaving Rei to prevent her developing trauma.
- Syaoran Li gradually evolves into one in Cardcaptor Sakura, especially in the anime adaptation where he gets numerous spotlight episodes and almost as much Sympathetic P.O.V. and Character Development as Sakura herself.
- Killua Zoldyck from Hunter × Hunter is this next to Gon Freecss for the majority of the series. In the current arc, both are seperated from each other and Demoted to Extra, so the two other Demoted to Extra main characters can get the focus back. But at this point, it's hard to tell, who is the protagonist and whether there is a deuteragonist or not.
- Ookiku Furikabutte is just much about Abe Takaya as it is about the main character, Mihashi Ren.
- Medaka Box: Kumagawa Misogi to the Official Couple. As the Arch-Enemy, his storyline has continued to be linked with Medaka and Zenkichi as well as expanding on his character.
- The cast of Kimi ni Todoke are easier to categorise in pairs than as individuals; Sawako and Kazehaya would be our protagonists; Chizu and Ryu would be our deuteragonists; Ayane and Kent would be our tritagonists.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Sagara Sanosuke after his defeat. There are a few arcs where we delve into his past. Kenshin himself even states that Tokyo wouldn't be able to contain him and by the end of the series he leaves Japan to explore the world.
- Hellsing: Seras Victoria is this to Alucard, while Alucard is one for Integra Hellsing.
- Sword Art Online has three or so Deuteragonists depending on the arc. Asuna for the SAO arc, Suguya for the ALO arc (Asuna is still in the show during this arc, but her role is reduced), and Sinon for the GGO arc.
- Patlabor: While Noa is the PoV character, her partner, Asuma, receives a near equal amount of focus as the series follows their growing partnership (and their implied budding relationship).
- Satomi fills this role, in Variable Geo, and stars opposite her best friend, Yuka. Satomi's half of the story deals with her struggles to support herself and her brother, Daisuke, and how she's scouted by The Jahana Group, who manipulate her into entering the VG tournament so they can use her as a test subject.
- Destro from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Although to be honest, the old Larry Hama comics are chock full of deuteragonists and tritagonists. Destro was the villain who wasn't so villainous, who had a code of honor, and who we very often see stories told through his Point-Of-View, so much to the point where we have two views of the evil Cobra organization - first through the eyes of the G.I. Joes, and second through the eyes of Destro, the arms dealer.
- In Batman: Year One Jim Gordon is the deuteragonist of the story along with Batman. Although as the story is essentially a retelling of Batman's origin with a large amount of focus put on Gordon's first year as a member of the Gotham City Police Department, the two are optional for both positions.
- In the Knights of the Old Republic comic, Zayne Carrick is the protagonist and Jarael is the deuteragonist. Particularly noteworthy is that the comic's arcs come to center as much around Jarael's personal journey as Zayne's, and while the main villains of the first major arc are Zayne's Evil Mentor and Evil Counterpart, the main villains of the second major arc are Jarael's. The third main character, Marn Hierogryph, is by contrast defined mostly by his interactions with Zayne.
- In the grand scheme of Grant Morrison's Batman Damian is the deutragonist for much of the run. Most prominently during Batman and Robin (to Dick Grayson) and the second half of Batman Incorporated. He's also firmly the deutragonist in Peter Tomasi's Batman and Robin run with Alfred as a tritagonist up until Damian's death.
- Wilson "The Kingpin" Fisk is this in the Daredevil comics. We've watched him run, lose, and rebuild his empire, seen the details of his messy personal life, and when he's not a part of Matt's life, it often feels like something is missing.
- In Sherlockian fanfic, Inspector Lestrade is a fairly popular deuteragonist to Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson as The Hero. (Some Scotland Yard-focused fics reverse the position and make Lestrade the Protagonist with Holmes and/or Watson secondary.)
- Inner Demons has Apple Bloom, who gets the second character billing after Twilight, has a large amount of focus and Character Development, and is ultimately revealed to be the Master of Harmony.
- Hinata is this in Blind while Naruto is The Protagonist.
- Obsidian fills this role in the Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning, to Vale's protagonist. Though it is primarily her story, he is in the spotlight quite a bit and gets a lot of Character Development. He actually becomes the de facto main character after Vale's death.
- In Turnabout Storm, Twilight plays this role to Phoenix's protagonism. Not only does she assist Phoenix and is responsible for his involvement in the events, but is also central to one of the story's major conflicts, and gets a whole episode dedicated to her own side of the investigation via Simultaneous Arcs.
- In Perfection Is Overrated, Mai is the protagonist, Natsuki is the deuteragonist, Nao is the tritagonist, and Shizuru is the tetragonist.
- In Graduate Meeting Of Mutual Killing, the main character (Akane Ogata) ends incapacitated. The story now focused on Yukio Ohmoto and his actions, including internal thoughts and relationship with the rest of the graduates.
Films — Animation
- Flynn Ryder in Tangled.
- Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films, with Woody as the main protagonist and Jessie is the tritagonist.
- EVE in WALL•E, with WALL•E as the main protagonist and Captain McRea as the tritagonist.
- Vanellope Von Schweetz in Wreck-It Ralph, with Fix-It Felix as the Tritagonist and Sgt. Calhoun as Tetragonist.
- Master Shifu in the first Kung Fu Panda. In the sequel, however, he's Out of Focus, and Tigress takes over this role in his place.
- Elsa in Frozen, with Anna as the main protagonist, Kristoff as the Tritagonist and Prince Hans as the Tetragonist and primary villain. Notably, Frozen is the first film in the Disney Princess franchise to add two characters to the official roster of Disney Princesses, with Anna and Elsa both considered "canonical" Princesses (the 12th and 13th additions to the list, respectively).
- Jewel (primary) and Tulio (secondary) in Rio, with Blu as the main protagonist, Linda as the secondary protagonist, and Fernando being the tritagonist.
- Queen Elinor in Brave. The story is just as much about her as about Merida.
- In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is the protagonist and Belle is the deuteragonist. Only she is capable of saving him from the curse with his love, but that requires him to become a better person first, and both wind up with a common adversary in Gaston as they fall in love.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars
- Darth Vader is this in the series as whole (though Lucas disagrees), serving as the Tragic Hero of the first trilogy, while the second trilogy charts his time as The Dragon up until his final redemption. Ultimately Luke Skywalker is the protagonist of the whole series, with the first trilogy ending at his birth and the second trilogy ending with his heroic triumph.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, with Yoda as the tritagonist.
- Old Man Marley in Home Alone, The Pigeon Lady in Lost in New York, and Mrs. Hess in 3, with Kevin as the protagonist in 1 & 2 and Alex in 3, and their parents as the tritagonist.
- Clerks has Randall as this to Dante's protagonist and Jay and Silent Bob sharing the tritagonist slot.
- Network definitely merits mention, but it's very ambiguous as to which character is which. Max Schumacher is the most conventional audience surrogate point, being one of the few characters in the film who is both sane and (relatively) moral, but the film doesn't end when his part of the story does, since he exits the film shortly before the climax. Alternatively, he is the deuteragonist, and Diana Christensen is in fact Villain Protagonist; she doesn't really have an actual character arc, but she's more proactive than Max, and has slightly more screen-time. Howard Beale is the center of the story, whose actions initially drive the plot, but he becomes more of a plot point than a character in the second half of the film, and has some ten minutes fewer screen-time than his co-stars, so either way he's probably best described as the tritagonist. All three actors involved—William Holden, Faye Dunaway, and Peter Finch—were nominated in leading categories at that year's Academy Awards.
- Jack Sparrow was originally supposed to be the Deuteragonist in the original Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, but Jack's popularity just took off. In the end, Jack became the Protagonist, Will the Deuteragonist, and Elizabeth the Tritagonist.
- Lois Lane in Superman I, II and Returns, Gus Gorman in III and Lacy Warfield in IV, with Superman/Clark Kent as the main protagonist of the series. In Man of Steel, Lois returns to being this, while Jor-El is the tritagonist in this case.
- Zaltar in Supergirl, with Kara/Supergirl as the main protagonist and Ethan as the tritagonist.
- Robin in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, with Chase Meridian as the tritagonist in Forever.
- Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight (Gordon as the tritagonist). Arguably Blake in The Dark Knight Rises.
- Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar is the real protagonist.
- Thao in the Gran Torino, as the character who develops alongside Walt.
- Annie Hall in Annie Hall, despite being the title character. She is the protagonist's Love Interest.
- Ellis Boyd Redding in The Shawshank Redemption, also serving as Supporting Protagonist.
- Doc Brown is this to Marty McFly in the Back to the Future films.
- Mark from The Room.
- Edward Cullen from Twilight. He is the main love interest of the heroine and protagonist, Bella.
- Bella is the main protagonist, Edward is the deuteragonist, and Jacob is the tritagonist.
- The Social Network: Eduardo Saverin to Mark Zuckerberg's Protagonist.
- M to James Bond's protagonist in Skyfall.
- In Double Take, Freddie Tiffany is the obvious Deuteragonist to Daryl Chase's Protagonist, being the titular Double.
- Brian O'Conner serves as this to Dominic "Dom" Toretto in The Fast and the Furious films beginning with the fourth installment; an inverse of their roles in the original movie where Brian was clearly the protagonist and Dom was the deuteragonist. Luke Hobbs serves as the tritagonist to the two of them in films five and six. The second and third movies change things up a little, since Dom is not in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Brian is not in Tokyo Drift (Dom only briefly appears). In the second, Roman Pearce is the deuteragonist to Brian while in the third film either Neela or Han serves as the deuteragonist to protagonist Sean Boswell.
- Loki moves the plot along in Thor as much as his brother as for most of the movie he is wrapped up with his own story that doesn't intersect with Thor's perfectly. At the end everything converges and Loki must bear the consequences of his actions.
- Spock in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. While Kirk is still the protagonist, McCoy's role in the Power Trio is downplayed in favor of focusing on Kirk and Spock's friendship and growth.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has Blondie as its protagonist, Tuco as the deutragonist and Angel Eyes as the tritagonist.
- Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. Even more pronounced in Kick-Ass 2.
- Chris Sabian in The Negotiator. It is probably not a coincidence that, like the Protagonist, Danny Roman, he is also a Negotiator.
- Godzilla movies typically have some main human character who helps move the plot along just as much as Godzilla. Miki Saegusa most commonly plays this role in the Heisei films starting with Godzilla vs. Biollante.
- In Godzilla (2014), Ford Brody plays the other role of protagonist while Godzilla is the lead. This is alluded to when Ford faints at the same time Godzilla collapses after defeating the MUTOs.
- Kumar in ''Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle.
- Peeta is this to Katniss' protagonist in The Hunger Games series. Although given what happens to him in "Mockingjay" he probably won't appear all that much in the third movie. Jennifer Lawrence has mentioned in more than on interview how upset she was when she read the script for the third film and saw that she would barely get to work with Platonic Life Partners Josh Hutcherson in that film.
- In Halvgudene is both Trigg and Briskir deuteragonists. And Askill as the tritagonist in the first book, but later Rasp takes that place and he is moved to tetragonist. Eld is tritagonist for a short while.
- In Kire Flora is the deuteragonist to Erik's protagonist. And Trine and Tore are the tritanogists.
- In Phenomena is Ilke the deuteragonist to Alk's protagonist.
- Holly Short from the Artemis Fowl series, especially in the first two book before she teams up with Artemis, she acts as a Hero Antagonist in contrast to Artemis's intial role as Villain Protagonist, during this period the story revolves around her almost as much as with Artemis and the readers are made to sympathise with her. It is more evident in the Graphic Novels where she serves as the second narrator in the stories.
- Will Parry in the His Dark Materials trilogy shares the spotlight with Lyra when he's introduced in the second book.
- Melanie Stryder in The Host.
- Thirteen Reasons Why switches between Hannah Baker, who's narrating a series of tapes, and Clay, the boy who listens to them, responds to them, and confronts the people mentioned in them. And the tapes are Hannah's suicide note to the people who convinced her to kill herself. The book is as morbid as it sounds. It sold extremely well, met rave reviews, and is getting a film adaptation.
- Mikael Blomkvist in The Millennium Trilogy. He and Lisbeth Salander are developed quite a bit as separate characters, but once they team up the plot centers around them both.
- Edward Cullen in Twilight
- Bella is the protagonist.
- Jacob Black is the tritagonist.
- In the first Mistborn book, Kelsier is the deuteragonist (while he's actually introduced first of the main characters, and is the Big Good, most of the POVs end up revolving around his protege Vin). After he dies, Vin remains The Protagonist while Elend takes up the role of deuteragonist and Sazed gets promoted to tritagonist.
- In the same author's Elantris, Prince Raoden is The Protagonist, Sarene is the deuteragonist, and Hrathen is the tritagonist.
- All of Brandon Sanderson's fantasy books utilize this trope, such as Warbreaker, where Vivenna is the protagonist, Siri is the deuteragonist, and Lightsong is the tritagonist, and The Way of Kings, where Kaladin is the protagonist, Shallan is the deuteragonist, and Dalinar is the tritagonist (the latter two get about the same amount of pagetime, but Shallan is introduced first).
- Discworld has a number of perennial deuteragonists, including Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson (in the stories featuring Sam Vimes as the protagonist), Nanny Ogg (in stories focusing on Granny Weatherwax), and even Death himself (in the stories primarily centered around his granddaughter, Susan).
- In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim plays this role to Huck, with Tom Sawyer as the tritagonist.
- In PC Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Torisen is the deuteragonist to Jame's protagonist from the second book and onwards.
- * In Phoenix Rising: Tobimar, to Kyris protagonist. But Poplock has a tendency to steal the show, whenever he gets half a chance.
- Kahlan Amnell in the Sword of Truth series, with Richard as the protagonist and Zedd as the tritagonist. In the seventh book, Oba Rahl becomes this.note In the Chainfire Trilogy, it is uncertain who is what, given the shifting of roles, but the top three are definitely Richard, Kahlan, and Nicci in some order.
- Roran Stronghammer in Inheritance Cycle, with Eragon as the protagonist and Murtagh as the tritagonist, according to Word of God. Other possible interpretations include Eragon > Saphira > Roran, Eragon/Saphira > Roran > Murtagh, and Eragon > Roran > Nasuada.
- Skulduggery himself in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, with Stephanie/Valkyrie as the protagonist. The tritagonist is swiched between the books.
- The Wheel of Time has several tiers of this going on, owing to its sprawling nature and Loads and Loads of Characters:
- Rand is the main character and obviously the protagonist.
- Perrin, Mat, and Egwene, peers of Rand from the same village who follow parallel story arcs, are clearly deuteragonists.
- Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha, Min, and Lan also hold down their own subplots, but get less focus than the above, making them more solidly tritagonists.
- Pretty much everyone else is either a supporting character or antagonist to at least one of the above.
- Fisk, in the Knight and Rogue Series, since he's 'just' the squire while Michael is the knight.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- In The Hobbit, Thorin is the deuteragonist, while our hobbit Bilbo is the protagonist. The quest is to restore Thorin as King under the Mountain.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo is the protagonist, Sam is the deuteragonist, and Aragorn is a tritagonist, along with some of the other members of the Fellowship, particularly Gandalf, Merry, and Pippin.
- In Tolkien's The Children of Húrin, though Niënor isn't introduced as a major player until about two thirds of the way through, owing to the approx. ten year age gap between herself and her brother Túrin (the protagonist), once she does show up, she slips into this role.
- The eponymous unicorn in Cerberon is a very close second to George, who is the protagonist for most of the story. After George and Margaret are betrothed, and especially once they leave Aeronweyir for America, Cerberon becomes the protagonist, with George taking on a secondary role.
- Lt. Vincent D'Agosta in the Agent Pendergast novels, serving as the one to protagonist Margo Green in Relic and Reliquary with Pendergast himself as the tritagonist. D'Agosta serves in this role as well for the other novels he appears after Pendergast takes over as the protagonist.
- Additionally, other characters have also served in deuteragonist/tritagonist roles in the books. In The Cabinet of Curiosities Nora Kelly is the deuteragonist, with William Smithback as the tritagonist, in the novel Thunderhead Kelly was the protagonist and Smithback was the deuteragonist, and in Cemetary Dance Kelly is the tritagonist to Pendergast and D'Agosta. In Still Life with Crows Corrie Swanson serves as the deuteragonist with Sheriff Hazen as the tritagonist. In Brimstone Laura Hayward serves as the tritagonist to Pendergast and D'Agosta. Constance Greene acts as the deuteragonist in The Wheel of Darkness. Corrie again serves in the role for White Fire.
- The "Helen Trilogy" novels begin mixing this up, as despite D'Agosta appearing in all three books he remains Out of Focus. He initially starts out as the deuteragonist like usual in Fever Dream, but halfway through it he is shot and Laura Hayward serves in the role for the rest of the book. In Cold Vengeance Judson Esterhazy is the deuteragonist. In Two Graves Pendergast's son Alban serves as the deuteragonist as his relationship with Pendergast serves as a driving force in the novel, while roughly 3-4 different characters all serve in the tritagonist role.
- Septimus Heap: Jenna Heap. Especially in Physik she does get the major plot-driving role.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden is the protagonist and Karrin Murphy is the deuteragonist, being the only other human character to be a substantial presence in every book in the series (even Dead Beat, where she barely appeared, still had her actions in the previous book as the impetus for a subplot). The tritagonist position tends to vary from book to book, but after book eight or so it tends to be either Thomas Raith or Molly Carpenter.
- In the Mediochre Q Seth Series, Mediochre and Charlotte Johnson tend to bat the roles of Protagonist and Deuteragonist back and forth between them. The positions of tritagonist and tetragonist go to Joseph Carrion and Dhampinella respectively.
- Song at Dawn': Estela and Dragonetz share the spotlight because the story follows the former but the plot is centered on the later.
- In Brimstone Angels, Word of God explicitly describes Lorcan (the devil who heroine Farideh made a pact with) as the deuteragonist. Who fills the tritagonist position isn't as explicitly described, but it's probably Farideh's twin sister Havilar.
- The Doom novels have Arlene Sanders. Once Fly reunites with her on Deimos, mid-way through the first book, she remains at his side for virtually everything. Together they take on the "demons" on the Martian moons, "hell", the ruins of Earth, and ultimately the enemy homeworld and beyond.
- Milla in The Seventh Tower, to Tal's protagonist. Starting from the second book they get about equal focus.
- Mal and Laura are this in the sequel to Those That Wake.
- The Hunger Games has Peeta Mellark as the deuteragonist. Until "Mockingjay", where he spends the better part of the first third being tortured in the Capitol and the second third being kept away from Katniss because he's been brainwashed into wanting to kill her. He goes back to being the deuteragonist in the last third.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the titular characters Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange essentially share the protagonist role, but Stephen Black consistently serves as the deuteragonist, with Lady Charlotte Pole (née Wintertowne) as the tritagonist. Though the latter two don't directly affect Stange and Norrell's story until the end, they both prove crucial to resolving the plot, as Lady Pole's liberation from the service of the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair signals his downfall, while Stephen ultimately defeats him. By the final act, the novel is just as much the story of Stephen and Lady Pole's suffering at the Gentleman's hands as it is the story of Strange and Norrell reintroducing magic to the world.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Charlie Bucket as the protagonist and Willy Wonka as the deuteragonist. While they don't meet until the 1/3 mark of the book and the halfway point of adaptations, Mr. Wonka's fame and reputation precede him, and it's his actions that set the plot Charlie gets swept into in motion. (The sequel makes Mr. Wonka the protagonist and Charlie a Sidekick.) The 2005 film and 2013 stage musical adaptations take this trope further via Adaptation Expansion:
- In the 2005 film, the audience becomes privy to Mr. Wonka's Backstory via flashbacks, which reveal how he became an Anti-Villain in the present and set up a Not His Sled climax.
- In the 2013 stage musical, Charlie and Mr. Wonka turn out to be Not So Different — both are Mr Imaginations. It's telling that they're the only characters who warrant solo songs (two apiece, in fact) about their personalities and motivations; all the other songs are crowd numbers or team-ups between two or more characters. And Mr. Wonka sometimes ventures out of his factory disguised as an elderly tramp, whom Charlie meets in the opening scene.
Live Action TV
- Boy Meets World had Shawn Hunter. Starting late in the second season.Shawn's Mother left and his father chased after him. Following this, Shawn got a large amount of focus as a character.
- Eric Mathews developed into the Tritagonist later in the series starting in about season 3 with him interning at a TV new station in order to beef up is college resume. This is followed by him not getting into college then trying to figure out what to do. This is followed by him seeking help from Mr. Feeny. This is less in play from season 5 onward after he gets into college. By season 7, his flanderization has turned him into the comic relief of the series and is mainly there to provide laughs.
- The 4400. Normally Diana Skouris takes the role of the Deuteragonist with Tom Baldwin as the Protagonist, and several different 4400s filling in the role of the Tritagonist. In season 2 Shawn Farrell is the Tritagonist. In season 3 its Isabelle Tyler with Shawn becoming the tetragonist. In season 4 Diana become the Tritagonist and the resurrected Jordan Collier becomes the Deuteragonist.
- Sarah on My Babysitter's a Vampire. She's also the love interest of the protagonist.
- 24: Depending on who you ask, either David Palmer or Tony Almeida serves as the Deuteragonist in the first three seasons, with the other being the Tritagonist. Beginning with season four things get more mixed up:
- In Season 4, Audrey Raines is the Deuteragonist while Tony Almeida is the Tritagonist.
- In Seasons 5 and 6, the Deuteragonist is Chloe O'Brian, with Bill Buchanan as the Tritagonist. Audrey also shares the role of Tritagonist with Bill during Season 5, with Charles Logan serving in the role of Tetragonist the same season.
- In Season 7, Renee Walker becomes the Deuteragonist. Either Tony and Allison Taylor share the role of the Tritagonist with Chloe as the Tetragonist, or Chloe and Tony share the role as the Tetragonist with Allison Taylor as the Tritagonist.
- In Season 8, Chloe is back to being the Deuteragonist, with Allison Taylor as the Tritagonist and Cole Ortiz as the Tetragonist. Renee shares a role with either Cole or Taylor.
- In Live Another Day, Kate Morgan is set up as the Deuteragonist, with Chloe and President James Heller sharing the role of Tritagonist.
- Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock, with Tracy as the Tritagonist.
- Londo in Babylon 5. Word of God has even said the story is almost as much about Londo as about Sheridan.
- Jesse Pinkman is the deuteragonist to Walter White's protagonist in Breaking Bad, and his character arc, which runs parallel and acts as a Foil to Walter's, eventually becomes important as well. Hank Schrader and Skyler White alternate between tritagonist and tetragonist.
- Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for its first three seasons, before he spun off to his own show.
- After Angel left, it's possible Spike takes on the role, at least in the final few seasons, due to him becoming more of a confidant to Buffy after her revival (as well as a love interest). In Season 7, following the reclaiming of his soul and increased spotlight stealing, this fully cements itself.
- Cordelia Chase initially starts as this on Angel, with Allen Francis Doyle initially starting out as the Tritagonist, and then Wesley Wyndam-Pryce taking his place not long after. Beginning with Season 3 Cordelia and Wesley begin alternating between the Deuteragonist role, with Wesley completely taking it over for Season 4. In Season 5, Spike appears and takes over as Deuteragonist, while Wesley resumes his role as the Tritagonist.
- Jimmy Darmody from Boardwalk Empire to Nucky Thompson's protagonist with Margaret as the Tritagonist and Van Alden as the tetragonist for the first two seasons.
- Season 3 has Gyp Rosetti and Margaret as either the deuteragonist or tritagonist respectively.
- Season 4 sees Margaret Demoted to Extra and thus having Chalky as the deuteragonist and Eli as the tritagonist.
- Sarah Walker in Chuck, which is unsurprising since she's also the love interest. John Casey and Morgan Grimes respectively serve as the tritagonist and tetragonist.
- Debra Morgan in Dexter. She tends to have the second most important plot line, often solving a crime that relates to Dexter's victim.
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor's companion (when there's only one of them, anyway) fulfills this role.
- When there's two companions the second will always serve as the tritagonist, such as Harry Sullivan to the Fourth Doctor (protagonist) and Sarah Jane Smith (deuteragonist) in season 12 of the original series or Rory Williams to the Eleventh Doctor (protagonist) and Amy Pond (deuteragonist) in series 5-7 of the revival.
- Gwen Cooper in Torchwood.
- Though she's only a recurring Companion, River Song serves as the deuteragonist of Series 6, to the Eleventh Doctor's protagonist. The overarching plot line of that series has just as much to do with the mystery behind River's origins as it does with the Doctor's continuing adventures. The finale of Series 6 is even titled "The Wedding of River Song".
- River in Firefly, as a substantial number of episodes in the series' short run centered around her. It became much more clear that River was the second protagonist during Serenity.
- Fringe has Peter Bishop and Walter Bishop respectively acting as the deuteragonist and the tritagonist to protagonist Olivia Dunham.
- Game of Thrones has Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Both are engaged in their own plots that are almost completely independent of the main factions competing for the Iron Throne. Whilst it's true that in Dany's case, she is building an army to compete later, so far her story has remained on a separate continent to the main action.
- In Grimm we have Captain Sean Renard.
- Depending on who you view as the protagonist, either Lorelai or Rory on Gilmore Girls.
- In Hannibal Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter arguably share the top spot and Jack Crawford is the tritagonist
- Spencer in iCarly
- The Inspector Lynley Mysteries has Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, in a rare example of an Inspector's partner being this. Unlike most non-protagonist detective sergeants in British mystery fiction, Havers' storyline gets almost as much focus as the titular protagonist's right from the get-go. In addition, though she frequently acts as The Watson to her partner, it isn't uncommon for him to act as The Watson to her (for instance, the majority of "Natural Causes", or the caravan site in "One Guilty Deed"). This very trope has been cited as one of the things that sets this series apart from other Detective Dramas of its kind, and as one of the best aspects of the show.
- In Justified local gang boss Boyd Crowder is the deuteragonist to U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens' protagonist.
- In Juken Sentai Gekiranger the villains Rio and Mele are just as important to the story as the main heroes.
- This really is a staple of the more recent Kamen Rider series as to date, all of them have a secondary protagonist who provide as much if not more importance to the storyline as the titular character from their respective series. These second protagonists aren't necessarily the Second Riders that are another staple of the franchise and many aren't even Riders in the first place.
- Prince and later King Arthur from Merlin had his journey from being a Jerk Jock "Well Done, Son" Guy to The Wise Prince and later The Good King parallel Merlin's development from his Hypercompetent Sidekick/Beleaguered Assistant to The Good Chancellor.
- Morgana is the tritagonist as well as antagonist. A big part of the plot is about her rise from a young person who struggles with her magic in a kingdom hostile to her kind to High Priestess, which parallels Merlin's rise in power but is on the opposite side of the conflict.
- And Guinevere is the tetragonist. Never given a huge amount of focus in comparison to the other three, she quietly goes through a Rags to Riches storyline and Shrinking Violet to confident High Queen Character Development before ending as the most powerful figure in the show. (In fact, the very last line uttered in the show's Grand Finale refers to her).
- Angela's parents in My So-Called Life.
- The X-Files:
- Depending on who you ask, for the first 7 seasons either Mulder was this to Scully or the other way around with Skinner eventually developing into a tritagonist.
- In season 8, Scully is the protagonist with John Doggett as a deuteragonist with Mulder sharing or plain overtaking that slot on occasion with Skinner still as a tritagonist.
- Season 9 is hard to classify because it was a weird transitional period where they were minimizing Scully and giving Doggett a new partner but before anybody could settle into their new roles, they found out the show was cancelled and all that had to be thrown out the window for the Grand Finale which more or less reverted back to the structure of seasons 1-7.
- Gus in Psych is a wonderful example.
- Turk in Scrubs, along with Elliot as the tritagonist.
- Lestrade often qualifies as the tritagonist.
- Mary Morstan later Waston becomes the Tritagonist of Series 3.
- The Shield:
- Shane Vendrell to Vic Mackey's Protagonist.
- Season 4 adds Monica Rawling as a rather prominent Tritagonist.
- Jon Kavanaugh in season 5.
- Spock emerges as the deuteragonist of Star Trek: The Original Series fairly early on; David Gerrold has said that the show was originally supposed to be about "Kirk and X", where character "X" would alternate every week, but Spock was repeatedly placed in that position, and it stuck. This trend was amplified in the movies, and especially in the reboot. (In fact, in the reboot, Spock can be said to be the deuteragonist and the tritagonist). McCoy, on the other hand, despite being the third member of the Power Trio, is defined largely by his interactions with Kirk and Spock.
- Though Star Trek: The Next Generation seemed to establish Riker as the deuteragonist at first (Kirk-ish personality, expy of would-be Star Trek: Phase II deuteragonist Willard Decker, and Jonathan Frakes having star billing alongside Patrick Stewart), he was quickly usurped by Data. This was readily apparent in the movies, which amounted to Picard and Data having grand adventures among talking set-pieces.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager both introduced their deuteragonist in the fourth season: Worf and Seven of Nine, respectively. In both cases, this resulted in the previous deuteragonist (Kira and the Doctor, respectively) being demoted to tritagonist.
- Seinfeld has Jerry as a protagonist with George as the deutragonist (given that he was an Expy or Author Avatar of series co-creator Larry David) with Elaine as the Tritagonist and Kramer as a Tetragonist.
- Ellen Parsons to Patty Hewes in Damages.
- Dean Winchester from Supernatural. He's the deuteragonist to Sam, who's the focal character and the protagonist, especially from seasons one to six.
- John (Sam and Dean's father) was seen as the tritagonist in seasons one to two;
- Bobby was the tritagonist in the later seasons (seasons five to seven);
- Castiel can be seen as a tritagonist in the current seasons after Bobby's death (seasons seven to nine);
- Prior to that, he could be seen as the tetragonist (particularly seasons five to six)
- Beginning in season 8, Crowley becomes the tetragonist of the series.
- Joseph Bede from The Shadow Line. His drug deal gets a lot of focus over the entire series, despite only rarely intersecting with protagonist Jonah Gabriel's investigation into Harvey Wratten's death. In addition, Gatehouse is a tritagonist.
- If you can apply this to a group of people, then the focus of each season apart from the Major Case Squad: the dock workers (season 2), Bunny Colvin and his people (season 3), the middle-school kids (season 4), and the newspaper people (season 5).
- The Wire:
- The first season has McNulty as the protagonist and D'Angelo Barksdale as the Deutragonist.
- Season 2 has Frank Sobotka as its Deutragonist with Stringer Bell possibly being a Tritagonist.
- Season 3 has Stringer Bell as the Deutragonist, Tommy Carcetti as the Tritagonist and Omar as the Tetragonist with Bunny Colvin sharing a role with either Carcetti or Omar.
- Season 4 becomes fairly muddled in this aspect as it finds McNulty Commuting on a Bus for a lot of the season and the show takes on more of a true Ensemble Cast.
- Season 5 has McNulty back as the Protagonist with Gus as the Deutragonist and Omar the Tritagonist.
- Sam from True Blood. In the third, fourth, and half of the fifth season, his storylines didn't intersect with Sookie's at all.
- The Ultra Series has examples of this before even Kamen Rider.
- Ultraman Agul/Hiroya Fujimiya from Ultraman Gaia is the first and most notable.
- Ultraman Nexus would then have Himeya Jun, later replaced by Senjyu Ren.
- Yuukou Minami in Ultraman Ace, until she left TAC.
- Captain Dan Moroboshi in Ultraman Leo with Tohru as the tritagonist. In Episode 40, Commander Black becomes the Deuteragonist.
- Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries is more of a deuteragonist to Elena, who is the protagonist of the series. Stefan is also the hero as well as the narrator of the series (he's the one telling the story) while Elena is the heroine of the series. Damon can be seen as the tritagonist (as well as the anti-hero) of the show.
- Elena is the main protagonist, Stefan is the deuteragonist and Damon is the tritagonist.
- Niles Crane in Frasier, especially after the early seasons.
- Barney Stinson eventually becomes Deteragonist in How I Met Your Mother, as more focus is put on his growth from a womanizer to someone willing to settle down, especially since it's at Barney's wedding that the titular event takes place.
- Allison Argent from Teen Wolf. She is the main female character and serves as the love interest of the hero and protagonist of the series, Scott.
- Scott is the main protagonist, Allison is the deuteragonist and Stiles is the tritagonist.
- Nathan Scott from One Tree Hill served as this to Lucas' protagonist in the first 6 seasons. Later on in the series after Lucas left, Nathan became The Hero and protagonist.
- From Season's 1 to 6, Lucas is the main protagonist, Nathan is the deuteragonist and Peyton is the tritagonist.
- From Season's 7 to 9, Nathan is the protagonist, Haley is the deuteragonist and Brooke is the tritagonist.
- Joey Potter from Dawson's Creek. She was the main female character. She also served as the main love interest of the series protagonist, Dawson. In fact, she was the only character to appear in every single episode of the show's six-season run; not even the title character has that distinction. Dawson is the main protagonist, Joey is the deuteragonist and Pacey is the tritagonist.
- Ally from Austin & Ally is the central character of the tv show, but the in-universe plot revolves around the Austin character becoming a famous musician. While Ally continues to have stage fright and stick to the shadows to write the songs for Austin she will be an in-universe deuteragonist to his protagonist.
- Booth is the deuteragonist of Bones, with the title character as the protagonist. He's also the Love Interest.
- Ryan O'Reily is the deuteragonist to Tobias Beecher's protagonist and Miguel Alvarez's tritagonist on Oz.
- In Monk, Sharona Flemming serves as the deuteragonist to the title character for the first two and half seasons, with Natalie Teeger serving in the role for the remainder of the show. Leland Stottlemeyer is the tritagonist and Randy Disher is the tetragonist.
- In Homeland, Carrie Mathison and Nicolas Brody switched roles between protagonist and dueteragonist depending on the episode with Saul Berenson being the steady tritagonist. In season 2, this began to change as Nicolas Brody slowly descended into a tritagonist, while Saul Berenson began to upgrade into a dueteragonist. By the end of season 3, Nicolas Brody is mostly Out of Focus and ends up being a Decoy Protagonist after he's Killed Off for Real, and Saul Berenson's role as the dueteragonist is set in stone.
- American Horror Story: Murder House: Tate plays this to Ben and Vivien, who share the Protagonist slot (reflected by their credit switching order every episode). Violet comes in as a very close Tritagonist. Tate also overlaps with the role of antagonist (which is also shared with his mother), as he is the rubber-man, who killed several peers in a school shooting, Chad and Patrick and raped Vivien - kick-starting the chain of events leading to the birth of the Anti-Christ.
- In the first Season of House of Cards (US), Zoe Barnes serves as the deuteragonist to Frank Underwood's protagonist, with Peter Russo as the tritagonist. In Season 2, after Frank murders Zoe and Peter in his quest for power, Lucas Goodwin briefly steps into the deuteragonist role, with Rachel Posner serving as the tritagonist.
- Noob has the eponymous low-level guild as the protagonist ensemble. The only other full team from their faction ever seen is the main roster from the high-level Justice guild, that is used to depict the elite's gaming life and have enough importance in the story to have their own rivals be semi-regular characters.
- Jesus Christ Superstar functions this way, shifting its focus pretty evenly between the title character and Judas Iscariot, while giving equal weight and sympathy to the actions of both of them.
- The Arbiter (Thel 'Vadam) in Halo; He's the main character in several levels of Halo 2, and fights beside Master Chief in Halo 3.
- Zero in the Mega Man X series, especially starting at around X4. He even takes over as the main character in the Sequel Series, Mega Man Zero, after X disappears.
- Axl, debuting in X7, is the X series' tritagonist. Notably, X7 and X8 are (more) focused on him than X or Zero.
- In Tales of the Abyss, Luke is the protagonist, with either Asch or Tear as the deuteragonist, depending on how you view it.
- Tales of Xillia has a more direct example, with main characters Jude and Milla even having separate dungeons and events.
- In the Tokimeki Memorial series, and if discounting the main male protagonist:
- 1 : Yukari was planned as this to Shiori in the initial development stages of the game, but the idea was ultimately scrapped, and Shiori remained the sole main heroine ;
- 4 : Yuu (to Maki) ;
- Drama Series Vol. 3 : Tabidachi no Uta : Miharu (to Shiori), if going the Miharu route ;
- Substories 1 : Dancing Summer Vacation : Kaori, or the Shirayuki twins (to Miyuki), depending on which one you choose as Miyuki's DDR partner.
- Rena or Claude in Star Ocean: The Second Story, depending on which of the two you choose as the main character at the beginning.
- Luigi fits this role in many Super Mario games, especially in the early ones, where he was playable as a sprite recolor of Mario. He still has that role in many of the recent Mario games, having just as big of a role as Mario in the Mario & Luigi games, and even appearing in both Super Mario Galaxy games as an alternative to playing Mario. It's not called Super Mario Bros without a reason, y'know. Bowser is another recent example, strangely enough, having his own separate storyline in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and technically being the the real hero of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
- Princess Zelda for the most part is this in The Legend of Zelda series naturally. In some games, however, she's the Tritagonist, while characters like Midna or Linebeck serve as the Deuteragonist.
- Riku in Kingdom Hearts has progressively become this, starting with Chain of Memories, where he takes over as the playable character in his own story once Sora's story finishes, and cemented past Kingdom Hearts II.
- Miles Edgeworth plays an important role in the plot of the first two Ace Attorney games (as well as a minor role in the third), and the fifth and sixth games feature him as the player character. The series' face, however, will forever be Phoenix Wright.
- In Final Fantasy VI it's hard to tell who the primary protagonist is among Terra, Celes, and Locke. But there is a pro-, deuter-, and tritagonist, make no mistake.
- Final Fantasy VII had Aerith in this role, while Barret and Tifa were pretty evenly tied as the tritagonists. Once Aerith dies, Tifa steps into the deuteragonist role, leaving Barret as the sole Tritagonist.
- Final Fantasy VIII has two major candidates for this trope, depending on perspective.
- On one hand, Square officially considers Laguna Loire to be the deuteragonist. The manual emphasizes this as his role, with its summary of the storyline placing special note on how the story is of his and Squall's fates intertwining with each other (it's heavily implied that Laguna is Squall's father), as well as listing the two on the same page. In addition, Laguna is responsible for and involved in many crucial aspects of the game's backstory, and he was added as the new VIII representative in Dissidia Duodecim. The creators made him with the intent of his being an "alternate protagonist".
- On the other hand, among fans it is usually Rinoa who is considered the deuteragonist, due to her prominence in the game itself as the heroine, her and Squall's romance being a major part of the storyline, as well as her overall popularity. It also helps that she is a permanent party member, unlike Laguna who is only playable during the flashback sequences.
- Final Fantasy IX has Garnet and Vivi. Which one is the Deuteragonist or Tritagonist depends on your point of view.
- Yuna is this to Tidus of Final Fantasy X. She even tells him, "It's your story, but it's my story too."
- Noel Kreiss to Serah Farron in Final Fantasy XIII-2
- While formerly The Big Guy of the Five-Man Band, Augustus Cole is promoted to this at the start of Gears of War 3. The second half of the first Act is played from his perspective, and is the only time in all three campaigns that player 1 isn't controlling Marcus Fenix.
- Touhou is a bit odd with this. Theoretically Reimu is the protagonist and Marisa the deuteragonist, but Marisa actually gets more appearances outside of the main games (while they're tied in the games). Reverse-wise, the games put Sakuya and later Sanae as the tritagonist, but this hasn't extended to the side material (where most of the story is).
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, it's Delita Heiral, the former best friend of Ramza Beolve who's actions play a major part in shaping the plot. The story is his as much as it is Ramza's, with them taking divergent paths that nonetheless criss-cross throughout the game from start to finish.
- Liara T'Soni for the Mass Effect series, she has the biggest role in the plot and major roles In the Expanded Universe that takes place between games and serves this role in Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 3
- However, for Mass Effect 2 specifically, Miranda Lawson has this role.
- Alistair is the deuteragonist to the Warden in Dragon Age: Origins—especially if he's picked to be king—and Varric serves as one to Hawke in the sequel.
- In other Bioware games, Imoen of the Baldur's Gate series, Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic, and Dawn Star in Jade Empire
- In the Modern Warfare series, John Price, "Soap" MacTavish, and whoever is the "other" player character frequently switch off depending on the game; it is generally easiest to tell who is the protagonist by whomever you control in the final level. In order:
- In the first game, Soap was the protagonist, with Price playing deuteragonist and Sergeant Jackson playing tritagonist.
- In the second, Soap was again the protagonist, with Price again playing deuteragonist and Roach and Ramirez playing tritagonist.
- In the third, Price became the primary protagonist, with Yuri being the deuteragonist and Soap and Frost serving as tritagonist.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops, Mason is the protagonist, Hudson is the deuteragonist, Woods and Reznov are the tritagonists.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, in the flashback, Woods is promoted to deuteragonist since most of the past is narrated by him, but you still play all save one of the missions as Alex Mason. Woods can also be considered the deuteragonist of the story as a whole, since although Mason gets the spotlight in the 1980s missions, it is ultimately Woods' actions and mistakes that set up the 2025 conflict.
- For the 2025 story, David Mason is the protagonist, Mike Harper is the deuteragonist, Javier Salazar and Admiral Briggs (probably Crosby too) are the tritagonists.
- Bentley from the Sly Cooper series. Especially by the third game, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. He's even the only other character aside from Sly to have a voiceover narration in the cutscenes.
- Jack and Leo from Anarchy Reigns. Both gets an equal amount of focus, and you have to play both sides of the single player campaign.
- Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite after Booker frees her from captivity early in the game.
- The Metal Gear Solid games are pretty complicated in this respect:
- The first game the deuteragonist is either Liquid Snake, Meryl, or Otacon, with the other two serving in the roles of tritagonist and tetragonist.
- The second game is an interesting case, as Raiden is the Protagonist while Snake is the deuteragonist... at least that should be the case. Hideo Kojima actually states that Raiden is really a Supporting Protagonist while Snake is still the main hero.
- In the third game, Naked Snake is the protagonist, The Boss is the deuteragonist, and EVA is the tritagonist.
- In the fourth game, Snake is the protagonist, Otacon is the deuteragonist, Liquid Ocelot is the tritagonist, and Raiden is the tetragonist.
- Art of Fighting: Robert is the next most pivotal character in the series' canon, as he and Ryo are both credited for taking down Mr. Big's Syndicate, while Robert is credited for personally defeating Big. While AoF 3 reveresed their roles, making him the protagonist of that game. During which, he visits Glasshill Valley, Mexico to protect his childhood friend, Freia Lawrence, from Wyler (whom he defeats). Robert is also reknowned as both the first known foreign practictioner of Kyokugenryu Karate and as the first foreigner to ever master the discipline. Which has earned him the title: "Saikyo no Tora" ("The Mightiest Tiger"). And his distinction has grown, by helping Ryo and his father represent their dojo at the annual King of Fighters tournament.
- Haruka in the first Yakuza, for all intents and purposes.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Martin Septim is the deuteragonist.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Serana in Dawnguard and Frea in Dragonborn both serve as the deuteragonist of the main questline.
- Marie in I Miss the Sunrise. The developer even makes an argument that she could be considered the protagonist, with Ros as the deuteragonist.
- Tezkhra is eligible for the role of tritagonist, also, as his subplot gets a great deal of focus and is significant to the main story.
- Jin Kisaragi from BlazBlue. A major part of the conflict in the series is the rivalry between him and the protagonist, who also happens to be his brother, Ragna the Bloodedge. Ragna is the "Destroyer of the World", and Jin is the holder of "The Power of Order" and destined to eliminate him.
- Noel Vermillion also serves as the Tritagonist, being the "Successor of the Azure" and has as large a role as Ragna & Jin as she is the only one who can locate the Master Unit, which the Big Bad Duumvirate are looking to destroy
- Rachel and Carl share the spot of Tetragonist, being the more active half of the Big Good Duumvirate and the son of half of the Big Bad Duumvirate respectively
- Really, BlazBlue has such a wide cast of characters with their own arcs that they could be Deuteragonist on their own. Bang Shishigami can be considered the Deuteragonist for his arc focuses on Ikaruga's restoration, which is culminated in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. Litchi Faye-Ling can be considered another Deuteragonist as she is the main focus of her quest to save Arakune even if she would end up being an antagonist to the main story, as she received enough Sympathetic P.O.V. that details her own struggles. These two are also heavily linked to the aforementioned Carl. As of the third game, it's possible that Tsubaki is going up to tetragonist or maybe tritagonist due to Taking A Level In Badass and her pre-existing bonds with Jin and Noel, with Ragna moving aside due to becoming an Eldritch Abomination, and Jin and Noel therefore moving up one too.
- Aigis from Persona 3 is notable because she's introduced into the story about a quarter of the way in, and only becomes really important by the last four months of the game, yet she's as central to the story as the Main Character, after it's revealed that she Sealed Death inside him, creating the personality of Ryoji/Pharos, and her arc about starting to feel emotions and becoming more "human" really gets going. This is taken to its logical extent by having her be the protagonist of the Playable Epilogue included in the Updated Re-release, as well has playing a central role in Persona 4 Arena.
- Fire Emblem Awakening has the Avatar and Marth ( Actually Chrom's daughter from the future, Lucina), whose roles in the game are equally important as Chrom's, despite the fact that they aren't given as much focus.
- Fate/stay night's Kotomine Kirei is a pretty obvious villain from the moment he first appears. However, it is not clear until Heavens Feel just how much he has truly shaped the plot of the series. Following slightly behind him as the tritagonist, Rin Tohsaka is one of the primary heroines (though not necessarily love interest). She's the only character besides Shirou who gets first-person P.O.V. scenes, and plays a major role in every route of the game (unlike the other villains and supporting characters, whose role may be significantly downplayed).
- Houzuki in Sharin No Kuni is Kenichi's mentor figure and guides him along from point to point in the story while forcing Kyousuke to confront his own past and his future. While he's Kenichi's boss, supervisor and even a father figure of sorts, he's also clearly the antagonist of the story due to his harsh methods and later even becomes the villain. The identity of the tritagonist is much less clear: The main heroine that the story is focused around is Natsumi, but the person who really shaped Kenichi into who he is is his sister Ririko who has been following him around the whole time.
- Kyousuke is the protagonist of G-Senjou no Maou followed by main heroine Usami Heroine and antagonist Maou. Usami is almost a second protagonist and her introduction to the story starts off the plot with her obsession with both justice and revenge with Kyousuke acting as something of an actor for her. Maou, the tritagonist, is the villain of the story and is a criminal mastermind who killed Usami's mother and has a suspicious connection to Kyousuke. There's even a tetragonist: Azai Gonzou, Kyousuke's badass yakuza father, who is the primary target of Maou's schemes.
- Kyouko Kirigiri in Dangan Ronpa, to the point where Naegi might even be considered a Supporting Protagonist.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, it progressively becomes very clear (especially from Episode3) that Beatrice is just as much the main character of the story as Battler is. The entire mystery is about understanding who she is, where she comes from and what her motivations are. If we add the 1998 part, Ange, who desperately tries to find the truth of what happened on Rokkenjima, would be the tritagonist.
- In Ever17, you have the choice in the beginning to play as either Takeshi or The Kid. Blinkwinkel is either the tritagonist, or the actual protagonist.
- Remember11 has Kokoro and Satoru as the deuteragonists in the respective other's route.
- Phantom of Inferno changes it each act, also depending on which routes are taken:
- In Act I, either Ein or Claudia is the deuteragonist while the other is the tritagonist.
- In Act II, either Cal or Claudia is the deuteragonist while the other is the tritagonist.
- In Act III, if the player takes Mio's route she will serve as the deuteragonist while both Ein and Drei share the tritagonist role. If not, then either Ein or Drei serves in the role instead while the other is the tritagonist and Mio is automatically relegated to tetragonist.
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Junpei is the protagonist and Akane/June is the deuteragonist. This is subverted in the True Ending, where it's revealed that the positions were reversed the entire time - you have been playing as 12-year old Akane, who is viewing the Second Nonary Game through Junpei's eyes in order to survive the First Nonary Game. In its sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, Sigma is the protagonist and Phi is the deuteragonist. In Phi's ending, Junpei Tenmyouji is promoted to tritagonist and his romance subplot with Akane is finally resolved (although not on a happy note).
- In RWBY, team JNPR is the deuteragonist to team RWBY's protagonist, particularly in regards to the teams' respective leaders, with Jaune playing deuteragonist to Ruby. Word of Monty is that originally, they were supposed to be the B-team, "but somewhere along the lines, they became a second A-team."
- Faye from Questionable Content. The ostensible protagonist is Marten, especially at first, but the comic's development meant it revolved equally around both of them, before becoming an ensemble cast.
- In The Order of the Stick, Haley and Elan more or less take turns as deuteragonist and tritagonist.
- Start of Darkness fits this perfectly: Redcloak is the protagonist, Xykon is the deuteragonist and antagonist, and Right-Eye is the tritagonist.
- According to Word of God, Karkat is the Deuteragonist in Homestuck to Protagonist John, as he takes the role of John's foil when the focus shifts off of the kids and onto the trolls. When the series shifts yet again to a second set of kids, Jane becomes the series' Tritagonist. Meenah is the tetragonist of the Openbound arc.
- Amber in Matchu. Neither her nor Protagonist Matchu know each other, and the stories revolve around their intertwining lives.
- Archipelago's becomes Raven, despite the role seeming to have always been set up for Blitz.
- Joseph from Joseph And Yusra. Despite both he and Yusra are the main characters, he has no Point of View of the story.
- Kat in Gunnerkrigg Court to protagonist Annie, her best friend and foil. Magic Versus Science is a recurring theme of the story and setting, and is represented in the two characters. Annie, who converses with psychopomps and has connections to the ether and the forest, represents the supernatural. Kat, a Gadgeteer Genius who grew up in the Court, represents technology.
- Minx, daughter of protagonist Battlecat, is the deuteragonist of Night Life in the Big Easy.
- Red vs. Blue has several characters who play the role of Deuteragonist to Protagonist Leonard Church depending on the season:
- The Recollection Trilogy (Seasons 6-8) has Agent Washington.
- Revelation (Season 8) has Agent Texas, with Agent Washington serving as a villainous Tritagonist for most of it.
- Seasons 9 and 10 have Agent Carolina, with Agent Texas serving as the Tritagonist.
- Jake is this for Finn in Adventure Time.
- Buena Girl is this for Rikochet in ˇMucha Lucha! with The Flea being the tritagonist.
- Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender is the deuteragonist of the series, his story arc and Character Development have the most impact on the overall narrative next to Aang's.
- Riley Freeman on The Boondocks, with his older brother Huey as Protagonist and their grandfather Robert as Tritagonist.
- Daria: The titular character's sister Quinn serves as the deuteragonist of the series.
- Daria's best friend Jane is probably a better example, with Quinn as the tritagonist.
- Chris from Dan Vs. wavers between this and minion on a regular basis. His wife, Elise, acts as the tritagonist just as often.
- Helga on Hey Arnold!, to Arnold himself. As the seasons went on an Arnold became more of a Flat Character the focus on her family issues and neurosis made her the real protagonist. The canceled sequel series would've been told from her perspective from the beginning.
- Dib to Invader Zim, of the opposing kind.
- Rufus and Amberley of The Dreamstone, much like Dib, flip flop between being this or Hero Antagonists to the Urpneys depending on the episode.
- The Cutie Mark Crusaders are collectively the deuteragonist cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. As far as the primary cast goes, Twilight Sparkle is the protagonist, while the remaining five are equally deuteragonistic (with Spike following closely behind as the tritagonist).
- Teen Titans tended to focus on one character per seasonal arc as the protagonist, but a couple of them had Deuteragonists as well- notably, Beast Boy was the Deuteragonist to Terra's Protagonist in season 2, and Robin was the Deuteragonist to Raven's Protagonist in season 4.
- Trevor Goodchild of Ćon Flux.
- In Gargoyles, Goliath is clearly the protagonist (Word of God even describes him as the prism through which all of the other characters were viewed), with Elisa Maza and the deuteragonist and Brooklyn as the tritagonist (except during the Avalon World Tour arc, when Brooklyn is Out of Focus along with the other non-Goliath clan members and Angela takes over as tritagonist).
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars is primarly about Anakin and his slow slipping towards The Dark Side. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka are the deuteragonists, with both of them having roughtly equal screentime, and entire arcs revolving around them. Finally there're Ventress and Fives as a tritagonists, who have rather complex and rounded arcs built around their Character Development, despite being relatively minor characters.
- In Gravity Falls the Pine twins are the stars of the show, but the main focus is Dipper while Mabel is a Deuteragonist.
- Both Tommy Anybody and Brattus are this to Mr. Bogus, the real star of the show.