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Hero of Another Story
aka: Heroes Of Another Story
"Everyone’s the lead in their own story, Administrator. Some roles are bigger, some smaller, but none are more important, understand?"
Glaistig Uaine, Worm

In works of fiction, it often seems like the world revolves around the Main Characters, that nothing interesting happens unless one of them is in the middle of it. And sometimes that’s true; sometimes the main cast are so important that nothing big can happen without their involvement. But other times, it’s not that the Main Characters are the only ones that stories happen to; it’s that we only see the stories that happen to the Main Characters.

It turns out the supporting characters have their own adventures going on off-screen, where they’re the stars and the Main Characters only make cameo appearances. These characters are the Heroes of Another Story: we may not see much of their adventures, but it adds something to the fictional world if we know these people continue to lead interesting lives even when the Main Characters aren’t around.

On occasion, we'll see one of these characters get a Day in the Limelight and they'll become The Protagonist for an episode. This often makes the real cast the Hero of Another Story for the episode, as they'll be off on their own adventures in the meantime.

Compare Supporting Leader. Naturally, this will result when someone encounters the main character(s) of another series via Cross Over or a Poorly Disguised Pilot. See also Little Hero, Big War, for settings that often have a bunch of heroes of other stories. Depending on how well written the character is they could become an Ensemble Dark Horse. When these sorts of characters are only hinted at, see Unknown Character.

Compare Lower Deck Episode, where minor characters get a brief chance to shine, or Spin-Off, where the character gets an entire series devoted to them.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Advertising 
  • A commercial for an insurance company lampshades Star Trek's tendency to do this, with a man on a spaceship in Starfleet uniform saying, "I'm just saying, why does Enterprise get all of the good missions?" The ship then shakes, and he says, "Finally," only for it to turn out to be an alien ship that hit him on accident.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Chiaki from Bodacious Space Pirates. She has her ship that she works on with her dad, and does a lot things which often forces her to suffer from being Out of Focus (despite appearing prominently in the opening and ending sequences). She also fills in for Marika's pirate role in some episodes while the real one is working on a more covert mission.
  • Ryoji Kaji from "Neon Genesis Evangelion" qualifies. His investigation of the Instrumentality Council happens almost entirely offscreen but is implied to have been a long and convoluted project of his, complete with at least two "supporting" characters.
  • In Dog Days, most of the plot involves non-fatal sports-like "war" (where literally Nobody Can Die) and the Ordinary High-School Student becoming "the Hero" while Trapped in Another World. Two of the characters in that world, a samurai and ninja partner team; Lady Brioche and her subordinate Yukikaze; are hunters of monsters and demons. While 2 episodes of the plot deal with a similar entity; even the monster that main characters fight is redeemable as opposed to the untold Darker and Edgier dealings they handle. They are polite and make gestures at helping the main characters; but it's clear they normally deal with things on a totally different level; and aren't nearly using their full abilities at the games the rest of the cast are playing.
  • Vyura and Chor Rubor on Simoun and Chor Caput, and the Arcus Niger. Vyura is later promoted to the main cast.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Major Genya Nakajima of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, commander of Ground Forces Unit 108. There to lend additional assistance when the heroes need help on an investigation, or to provide a Red Shirt Army to protect against The Siege while the heroes go off to handle the named villains.
    • Chrono Harlaown starts out as one of the main characters but becomes a stronger and stronger version of this trope as the series goes on, culminating in his apparent leadership of a large portion of the TSAB's Navy but barely being a part of the story in StrikerS.
    • Inspector Acous, also of StrikerS, likewise gives the impression of staring in his own story; which only briefly intersects with the main characters despite having the same bad guys. Ditto for Sister Schach, who apparently teams up with Acous about half way through the series.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann example: Kittan is this when first introduced but becomes a member of the main cast in the beginning of part two. While Simon, Kamina and Yoko were having their adventures he was stealing gunmen and gathering a crew. There's enough material there for GAINAX to write a midquel with Kittan as The Protagonist.
  • In GANTZ, after following for quite a long time the adventures of a team of fighters from Tokyo, we learn that there's another team in Osaka. And then one in Rome. And in Germany, the USA, etc... Basically, there are GANTZ teams everywhere on the globe, often stronger and more experienced than the Tokyo team.
  • Kino's Journey:
    • Kino meets a male counterpart; an exiled prince with a talking dog. They go their separate ways after one chapter. In the novels that the anime is based on he is one of the main heroes as he appears in stories of his own, all of which are narrated by his dog, Riku. This trope still does apply though, in that every once in awhile he will cross paths with Kino and these stories are never narrated by Riku and are told in third person, just like all the stories that focus on Kino. The same trope also applies to Shishou (or "master"), the woman who taught Kino and used to go on travels of her own. In the anime we only see her as an old woman, once in a flashback during the main 13 episodes and during the movie ~Life Goes On~, which is set during the time Kino is living with her, but the novels include stories about the travels of a much younger Shishou and her unnamed student.
  • One Piece:
    • Any D is the Hero Of Another Story. Ace is the most notable, with an arc driving about a third of the series. However, Blackbeard qualifies, from a Villain Protagonist perspective, performing feats like deposing King Wapol, breaking in to Impel Down, and joining the Battle of Marineford.
    • In the manga, the entire crew sans Luffy get demoted to heroes of other stories during the consecutive Amazon Lily, Impel Down and Marineford Arcs as they basically each become the hero of a different island so Luffy can have an adventure with a fresh supporting cast. This differs from normal split up arcs because we don't get to see the crew's stories while they are away, it's just implied with sparse glimpses and tellings. However, in the anime, they each get episodes explaining this more in-depth every so often while the story still mainly follows Luffy. This stops at the Return to Shabody Arc.
    • The Eleven Supernovas: they are all the rookie pirates that have started their journey through the Grand Line, but managed to amass serious bounties and by coincidence all happened to be on Shabaody at the same time. In total, they are nine pirate crews, including the protagonistsnote . They all had their offscreen journey, their wacky crews, their own dreams. During the arc, they all have their own battles with marine forces. During the time skip, they also continued to have their adventures in the New World and now that the Strawhats are heading there, the others are becoming plot important - Trafalgar Law achieved the title of Warlord of the Sea during the timeskip and now joins forces with Luffy to take down Doflamingo and then one of the Four Emperors. Eustass Kid (with Killer), Scratchman Appo and Bazil Hawkings also allied themselves to take down another. Jewelry Bonney had an unfortunate run-in with Blackbeard and Akainu, but managed to escape. The rest haven't appeared as of yet, but are expected to show up at some point as well.
    • There's also Red-Haired Shanks and his crew, who've been going on adventures since before the beginning of the story and still do so while playing a major part in the overall Myth Arc. At this point in the story, Shanks is one of the most powerful pirates in the world.
  • The Pokémon Chronicles had an episode do this with a different character in the series, be it Misty, Richie, or Brock.
  • Naruto:
    • Gaara was introduced during the Chunin Exams. One can only imagine the story to how he went from the repentant Dark Magical Guy to the most loved man in his home village.
    • There are also at least 3 other teams that we rarely see in the show, and they're all implied to be out fighting their own battles offscreen.
    • Also Killer Bee, who was hated/feared as a child (due to having the 8-tails inside him) and is now a considered a hero in his village.
    • Or even Kakashi during the 12 years in between Naruto's birth and the start of the story. We know that he went from being an undoubtedly heartbroken, traumatized teenager to a relatively well adjusted adult who is highly respected within the village. How did he become this man after losing everyone he loved? Why did he quit ANBU?
  • Digimon Tamers had Ryo, a character with a fairly small role in the grand scheme of the Tamers story, but who was literally the hero of another story (a set of video games that were never released in the west)
  • In the Hayate the Combat Butler manga, it seems like Hayate's older brother is shaping up to this. We haven't actually seen him yet, but we've met a few people he helped, years ago.
  • The Ojou Tsuruya of Haruhi Suzumiya is implied to be this. In addition to flat-out calling Unreliable Narrator Kyon on being bad at upholding The Masquerade (but says that she's content to sit back and watch the antics), she is in possession of at least one potential plot coupon and it is known that her (apparently stupidly rich) family are one of the financial supporters of Koizumi's Organization.
  • The big sister of the main character of Mayoi Neko Overrun tends to go missing for several days and return with heroic tales to tell.
  • Kirby of the Stars has Meta Knight, who took part in a resistance movement fighting the Big Bad before the series' hero, Kirby, came along.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
  • This occurs frequently in the works of Leiji Matsumoto: Captain Harlock and Queen Emeraldas occasionally have made either been referenced or made cameo appearances in Galaxy Express 999 and Galaxy Railways. The Space Battleship Yamato had a very brief cameo in Harlock Saga as well as in the Galaxy Express 999 manga. In all such cases however, the crew of the Yamato is never seen.
  • Habit By Teacher/It Ejaculates In The Teacher does it with the eponymous cast as Teacher A will have sex with one or more students then runs into Teacher B before or after said encounter and so on in essentially one day.
  • Luna Inverse, Lina's older sister in Slayers. One reason she's never shown in anything but flashbacks or cameos is she would easily solve all the problems the heroes face alone.
  • Pansuto Taro in Ranma ˝. The only character he has any connection to (or wants any connection with) in the cast is Happosai. As such whenever he appears his plot is at a right-angle to the rest of the series, and the appearance of any of the regulars seems like it's contractually mandated.
  • There are many examples in Sgt. Frog, the biggest one likely being Yamato and Kapuu. Yamato is a boy who found a creature called Kapuu, and alongside his friends, went in many adventures with him, even going to magical worlds and space, and fighting against evil Yokai. Kapuu had a verbal tic, and claimed to be an hero of justice, but was actually quite clumsy and couldn't even swim, in spite of resembling a Kappa. Yamato also has his own supporting cast of friends. And, yet, he was just a one shot Keroro character in both anime and manga. Fuyuki meets him right after Kapuu had disappeared for unknown reasons, and notes the similarities between their stories. The manga version of the story even ends with a report where Fuyuki writes about how he realized now that the world didn't spin around him, and other stories similar to his own could happen elsewhere, basically Lampshade Hanging this trope, for readers who hadn't understood the point of the story.
    • In the anime, Yamato is voiced by Rika Matsumoto, Pokemon's Ash original voice actress, and the episode title used a "De Arinsu" verbal tic, rather than Keroro's "De Arimasu". The narrator even had to make it clear that the viewer still was watching Keroro after a few minutes into the episode, before the recurring Keroro characters appeared in the story.
    • The third movie ends with Dark Keroro traveling to another planet, while followed by his former subordinates, and, while infiltrating the planet to start a new invasion, he's found by a couple of siblings very similar to Fuyuki and Natsumi in a similar way to the events of Keroro's first episode, with the implication that a similar story will happen there.
    • In addition to that, several of the Captain Ersatz and Expy characters in the show are shown to have their own off screen adventures, like Baio's and Ouka's Street Fighting battles which are acknowledged several times in the anime and manga. Ouka even reveals that she had already faced non human opponents in the manga (while having flashbacks to thinly disguised versions of several of the odder characters from Street Fighter III). Meanwhile, Orara, a Keronian Goku expy, stopped by the Hinata's once and defeated a villain that collected planets, all while preparing for a tournament that would take place in the secret Alien Street on Earth.
    • There are other Keronian platoons, like the Garuru platoon, as well as individual Keronians, like the invader salesman Urere, who are often in their own missions for the army and invasions in other planets, only sometimes crossing path with the Keroro platoon when they visit Earth for one reason or another.
  • Sogiita Gunha from A Certain Magical Index. Every time he is shown, he's fighting criminals, helping people, etc. Amusingly, he thinks he's the main character and The Hero, and is completely unaware of the main plot.
  • With its massive cast and complex backstory, Bleach has some subplots that could easily become entire manga series of their own:
    • Uryu Ishida is the protagonist of the story of the Quincy Clan's rise and fall and his quest to reclaim his family's heritage. He serves as an important Foil for Ichigo so his story runs parallel to, rather than within, the main plotline. In the Thousand Year Blood War arc, he even becomes the Unexpected Successor to the Quincy Emperor Yhwach.
    • Toushirou Hitsugaya is a prodigy who rose to captain in record time. He gets an unusually well-developed personality and backstory separate from Ichigo's plotline. He also shares time with a gaggle of less powerful characters during the Soul Society arc, including childhood friend Momo and subordinate Rangiku. This group of characters has a far more personal connection to the bad guys than Ichigo does, and some of their stories play out while Ichigo is otherwise occupied before focus switches back to Ichigo for the final battle. Hitsugaya's history of unusual power at a young age and having to cope with the alienation it causes is even parallel to that of Aizen's: the difference between them being that Hitsugaya came through the other side having found a place, friends and allies, whereas Aizen felt so alienated, he turned his back on everyone and the world instead.
    • Kisuke Urahara , as Ichigo's Mysterious Backer, alludes to an extensive offscreen history of rivalry with Aizen, with Ichigo's involvement beginning only later. He's also got a decades-long history with Isshin and Ryuuken that is only explored in the Final Arc.
    • Yamamoto was already a warrior of great renown 2000 years before the main story, and built much of the present Soul Society around himself. In particular he established the Shinigami Academy, which has trained the vast majority of Shinigami for the last 2000 years. His body is covered in a road map of old scars, each one of which presumably has a story behind it (we know the scars on his forehead do). Yamamoto's millennium-long struggle with Yhwach, the Quincy Emperor, gives the Thousand Year Blood War arc its name but is still mostly unexplained.

    Comics 
  • The mysterious night shift team in the Hero Hotline mini-series in The DCU.
  • Pick a super hero. Any super hero. Odds are they have had an adventure and encountered Spider-Man, Wolverine, Superman, Batman...
    • Spider-Man's first encounter with the Sinister Six had Iron Man playing this role; also subverted, when he encounters the X-Men and they turn out to be android duplicates programmed to try and kill him.
  • It was once a common occurance that everytime the Sinister Six would show up, Spider-Man would call the Avengers and Fantastic Four, only to find out that they were on other missions. Other super heroes would eventually come to his aid, however.
    • The first Spider-Man Annual was full of this. He couldn't go two pages without crossing paths with another super hero who was off on his own adventure (while the narrator points out that you can follow said hero's adventures in his respective comic).
    • Maximum Carnage shows this trope too, as both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are specifically mentioned as being away. At one point, Spidey and Venom break into the FF's headquarters while they're away to steal a sonic weapon to fight Carnage. Later, Captain America shows up to lend a hand, and the rest of the Avengers finally return just in time to mop up after Carnage is defeated.
    • To an extent, all superheroes are this, considering they tend to live in a universe full of characters with their own respective series.
  • Sin City will do this to the point where actual stories will intersect. For instance, in Yellow Bastard we see Marv in the background in the scene where Nancy runs off with Hartigan. They go off and have their own adventure. In Just Another Saturday Night, we see this scene from Marv's view point, lamenting that "Nancy ran off with some old guy" before going off to have his own adventure.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): While the mane six were dealing with the Changelings, Spike and Princess Celestia were fighting off a horde of giant, magic cockatrices in Canterlot. Also, Princess Luna makes a small cameo at the end holding a map of Manehatten, implying she may have been the one to deal with the giant magical marshmallow pony that Celestia mentioned (or tried too since how she's lost).
  • John Constantine started out this way, back when he was still just a supporting character in Swamp Thing.

    Fan Works 
  • Tiberium Wars features this in the form of several officers and commanders fighting other battles. As with the main characters of the story, though, Anyone Can Die is in full force.
  • The Sun Soul has a few of these. Ash Ketchum leads his core party of intrepid heroes all over the place, but along they meet up with a number of recurring individuals who work towards similarly heroic ends off-screen. So far, not many of these have been Killed Off for Real, but given the author's willingness to kill anyone...
  • In the Fallout 3 fan fiction Trouble, Harkness encounters the lone wanderer, the protagonist of the game, who goes through in-game quests off screen while the story takes place.
  • The other mercenaries count in Racer And The Geek, especially Keffiyeh and Goggles.
  • The Hunter is one of these in With Strings Attached. The four are unfortunately sucked into some of his adventures... and he is fortunately sucked into theirs.
  • Doctor Whooves and Assistant works a lot like this. The Doctor and Ditzy Doo's adventures run side by side with those of the main cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. For example, while the mane cast was heading off to fight Nightmare Moon, the Doctor and Ditzy went that way before them and fought the Manticore first. The mane cast are seen at some points, but only from the view of the Doctor and Ditzy.
  • The Arbiter in The Last Spartan has been investigating Cerberus at least a month before the story began, and even tells The Chief he went on several missions lifted directly from the game relating to them before they had met again.
  • In Mortality, Inspector Patterson is defined as this from his first appearance, introduced as the man who's been undercover in Professor Moriarty's criminal empire for the past several years.
  • In The Hearth Series, Marcus, Ludovicus, Muhammad, Yao, Sadik, Nefertiti, and Helene serve as this. Throughout the stories of the shenanigans of the residents of Hearth, we get hints of their own adventures including how they all met in ancient times and lived for hundreds of years through their discovery of the secret of immortality, but the exact stories have yet to be told.
  • Human Curiosity has a few, including Lukas (a man who comes from a long line of members of the Swiss Guard, and who rescues and temporarily protects Liechtenstein from the HCS) and several nations such as Russia, who were vital in helping everyone escape from the HCS facility. Among other things, sequel fic has several chapters telling their stories.
  • Reimagined Enterprise (a fan prose remake of Star Trek: Enterprise) has all the ones of Enterprise (if at times heavily modified) as well as repeatedly showing that other (non-NX-class) UESPA starships do in fact get involved in important matters, as well. The episode "Of Another Story" takes it to the point of not even having the main characters cameo, being instead entirely about the Daedalus and an historic event the ship and her crew is involved in.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Minty Pie becomes this in the latter end of Dark World. She rushes after the new Elements of Harmony to help them fight Discord, but falls into a cavern network, where she has a series of adventures and a Big Bad of her own, which the reader only sees bits and pieces of. She finally joins up with the others just in time for the Final Battle with Nightmare Paradox.
    • The "7 Dreams/Nightmares" collection has Logan, who shows up in Clover's and Bright Eyes' stories and saves both them and their families from monsters created by the disaster with the Yellow shard of the Rainbow of Light, during his quest to find his parents. Luna suggests to Twilight that he continued to do so for the rest of his life (help others, that is; he did eventually find his parents).
    • The Shining Armor Arc has Commander Bond, who handles several espionage-related investigations while Shining and Cadence are busy with politics, and the anti-Hooviet rebels led by Dima and Mother Deer (who have been fighting Makarov a lot longer than Shining has).
    • The Wedding Arc primarily focuses on the Mane Six and their friends fighting off the Changelings, but there's a side story focusing on Misfit Actual, Shining's command squad, as they perform covert operations against the Changeling occupation of Canterlot.
  • Luigi and his team of heroes get the spotlight in Paper Luigi X. While Team Mario is busy rescuing Team ZAP from the clutches of the X-Nauts, Team Luigi is busy rescuing Princess Eclair.
  • Recurring characters Dr. Kit Bennett, alias Kathy Watson and retired D.I. Michael Lestrade in Children of Time.
  • Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has many adventures running parallel to the Kyoto Arc:
    • Month of Sundays: A group of Amanogawa High students fight off against Foundation X and a strange serpent who can transform people into dolls.
    • SplitxEnd: Yayoi Tokuda, a college student and former Zodiarts, teams up with Haruto Souma to uncover the truth about Gentaro's past.
    • Wheel of Fortune: Mei Shirakawa tries to determine fate with her tarot cards while looking up the origins on Yamada Tatsumori.
    • Quick To The Trigger is a fanfic regarding a comment Owner made way back in Horseshoes, telling on what Ryotaro, Kotaro and Yuto are doing that has Power Rangers and Kamen Riders teaming up against a future threat.
  • In The Manehattanverse, Twilight was sent to Manehattan instead of Ponyville; a lot of the events that occured there still happened, but were resolved in different manners by the remaining members of the Canon Six offscreen.
  • The various Shadowchasers fanfics have these a lot. The franchise features an organization that is spread out globally, and members of the local group featured in one story often show up in another, from time to time.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Starship Troopers crossover fic "Garbed in Steel", Johnny Rico himself, the hero of Starship Troopers is this to Sergeant Buffy Summers of the Mobile Infantry.
  • Reimagined Enterprise: UESPA might only have two NX-class starships (the second, Columbia, commanded by Captain Erika Hernandez), but Shran is reminiscent of his counterpart in the canonical show, and Earth has other classes of ships. The eponymous episode "Of Another Story" focuses entirely on Captain Paul Stiles of the Daedalus and one of the incidents the Daedalus is involved.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian has some other guy named Jesus Christ whose story is taking place at the same time and place as the movie, which is occasionally referenced.
  • The Avengers has a lead-up scattered across a number of films:
    • Iron Man 2 has Nick Fury, Black Widow and a hint of Thor, who are obviously having their own adventures.
    • In the latest Incredible Hulk movie, Tony Stark briefly appears at the end.
    • In the first Iron Man movie, Agent Coulson mentions, "This isn't my first rodeo" and Nick Fury blatantly states that there are other heroes out there.
    • Thor film features Nick Fury, has a cameo by Hawkeye, the aforementioned Agent Coulson, and plenty of Asgardian warriors who have had plenty of adventures off-camera. Tony Stark even gets mentioned in a throwaway line.
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap works with an entire team of crack soldiers, spies, and even one brave millionaire Science Hero who all have had their own adventures prior to meeting him. Then there is the mentioning of the Tesseract being an artifact from Asgard.
  • Not to be outdone, Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has plenty of references:
    • In Iron Man 3, the Avengers are mentioned quite a bit, War Machine has his own missions in the Middle East, and the stinger includes a cameo by Bruce Banner.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, we learn that Asgard has been fighting marauders since the events of the last film, we get a good look at what Thor's grandfather was up to before he was born, the obligatory mentioning of the Avengers, and the Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy shows up in the mid-credits scene.
  • James Bond films sometimes feature other double-O agents,
    • Goldfinger. 008 never appears, but if M ever tells Bond that if he can't do the mission, someone else will, chances are 008 is that "someone else".
    • In The Living Daylights, 008 is said to "obey orders, not instincts", in contrast with the more headstrong Bond. We see a number of other double-O agents being picked off in a training exercise, which teases the identity of the newly recast Bond.
    • Octopussy and A View to a Kill start with the deaths of 009 and (off-screen) 003, respectively. Agents other than Bond, with 007 picking up the cases they were working with only the cryptic clues taken off their bodies.
    • Bill Fairbanks, 002, was killed before the start of The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • In The World Is Not Enough it is mentioned that 009 was the one who shot the Big Bad prior to the events of the film.
    • Felix Leitner is almost always in this role, sometimes hints are dropped that his adventures are even more exciting than Bond's.
    • Thunderball is the only film where we see all the double-O agents in one place, at M's briefing.
  • Jessica Stevenson's team in Shaun of the Dead appear to take part in a much more heroic adventure, ultimately joining up with the army and leading The Cavalry to defeat the zombies. However, we only see a brief glimpse of them as the plot follows Shaun's trip to the pub.
  • Averted with the soldiers who rob the main characters in Diary of the Dead. We get to see their story in the sequel.
  • An Officer and a Gentleman is the story of Zack Mayo (Richard Gere). Casey Seeger, the only female officer candidate, appears in a few scenes—just enough to declare her intention to be the Navy's first female fighter pilot, show her struggles on the obstacle course, reveal it's really an internal struggle with feeling like "a second class citizen" and with "daddy's disappointment that she wasn't a boy", let Foley hold her up to the main character as an example of "heart! and character!" and overall give the impression that, if the camera started following her around, there'd be a damn good movie in there.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Stephen Stills appears to be starring in his own movie, where Scott is just some weird guy who flakes out on the band and messes up their shows. Director Edgar Wright has stated that he instructed Stills' actor to pretend that the movie he's in is called Stephen Stills Is Almost Famous.
  • Frankie and her group from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  • The ending to Batman Returns suggests Catwoman will become this. Also counts as a Poorly Disguised Pilot... sorta.
  • In Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle, Goldstein and Rosenberg are on their own quest for Hot Dog Heaven. Their names are an homage to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who serve this function in Hamlet.
  • Cloverfield. The main characters end up lugging a camera about when the monsters attack and naturally start filming the weirdness. On the bridge they see another guy doing the same thing. Word of God says this is a Sequel Hook.
  • The Lord of the Rings alludes to Bilbo's adventures, as well as adventures made by unseen heroes. See the Literature section for more info.
  • Throughout Cop Out, we see an old cop-young cop pairing who appear to be acting out a more routine cop movie off-screen, only bits of which we see.
  • Pacific Rim has the Wei Tang triplets and the Kaidanovskys, all of whom have impressive records with defeating Kaiju and defending their assigned Shatterdomes, but are sadly not the biggest heroes of this story. Several movies or books could be made about the other 30+ Humongous Mecha and the very colorful pilots who fought in the Golden Age of the Jaegers.
  • Saving Private Ryan casts recognizable actors in small roles to give the impression that they're each the heroes for their own respective stories, which our heroes visit only briefly before moving on.
  • In Ed Wood, the eponymous character runs into Orson Welles near the end; he appears to be facing the exact same problems Edward has been facing throughout the actual film, but he appears in only one scene.
  • In Satan's Playground, while Paula is freaking out in the Leeds house, there's a knock on the door. When she answers it, there's a teenage girl there who says her car broke down, and that she needs a telephone. She ends up being scared off by Paula's erratic behavior.
  • The Cabin in the Woods takes this to the extreme. The eponymous cabin, the teenagers who visit it, and the zombies hunting them down? That's only one of dozens of other monster attacks happening all over the world on the same night. We only get to see the destructive aftermath for most of these, but we do a couple glimpses of some Japanese grade-schoolers being terrorized by a ghost and then turning the ghost into a frog with a magic spell.
  • In What's Your Number? Chris Pratt's character Donald seems to be starring in another movie where a guy keeps running into his crazy ex in the run up to his wedding.
  • In The Muppet Movie, at one point during the "Moving Right Along" number, Kermit and Fozzie run into Big Bird hiking along the road, who cheerfully explains to them "I'm on my way to New York City, to try to break into public television."
  • The Wei triplets and the Kaidanoskys from Pacific Rim has impressive records and are veterans in the Kaiju War — being among the last four Jaeger teams — but are sadly not the main heroes in the film.
  • The main plot of Machete Kills features Machete assigned by the President of the United States to stop a missile from being launched at Washington DC. Halfway through the movie, Luther Voz mentions that there are other missiles pointed at different worldwide targets, which Machete warns the President about. At the end, when Machete succeeds in disarming the Washington DC missile, the President says his other agents stopped the other missiles.
  • In The Natural, the young pitcher who faces off against Hobbs in the final game, and who nearly strikes Hobbs out, is described by the game's radio announcer in the same terms that Hobbs is described at the beginning of the movie. This pitcher is another "Natural", and its clear that, given time, he'll end up being one of the greatest players in the game, just like Hobbs.
  • In his review of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Roger Ebert describes this trope in action:
    Another irritation is the way in which we meet apparently major characters [...] who are introduced with fanfares of dialogue and then never developed or given anything to do. The entire movie seems crowded with loose ends, overlooked developments and forgotten characters, and there are little snatches of dialogue where some of these minor characters seem to be soldiering on in their original subplots as if unaware that they've been cut from the movie.
  • Arguably The Big Lebowski, since The Dude's involvement in most of the ongoing plots is tangential, whether the struggle between Maude and the eponymous Big Lebowski over his embezzlement (and Maude's subsequent quest to find a "sperm donor" to get her pregnant), Jackie Treehorn's dispute with Bunny Lebowski (which kickstarts the plot due only to the incompetence of Treehorn's hired thugs), or the private detective's struggle to return "Bunny" to her family back east. Inverting this trope, The Dude is the hero of the story of the bowling league and his team's struggle against "Da Jesus", but we never get to see how that turned out.

    Gamebooks 
  • Lone Wolf
    • Banedon the wizard pops up to help the main character at several points in the series and gains power and prestige at the same rate as Lone Wolf. He's a more prominent character in the Legend of Lone Wolf novelizations.
    • In the Mongoose Publishing remakes, each book has a 100 page mini-story about one of the characters who shaped the plot of that book, either taking place before or after said book. One character, the Noble Zombie Dire from Captives of Kaag, is also the mini-story character in The Legacy of Vashna.
  • In the Choose Your Own Adventure books by Edward Packard, one gets the impression that recurring guest character Dr. Nera Vivaldi doesn't just show up only in adventures that happen to involve you.

    Literature 
  • Possible Ur Example: many warriors—particularly Trojan ones—of the Trojan Cycle are only fleetingly mentioned, and could well have had other adventures before or after the war. Vergil took a brief appearance by the Trojan Aeneas as free rein to cast him as literally the hero of another story: The Aeneid.
  • The Neverending Story lives off this literally. It is maintained by dreams and stories and everyone has one.
  • Famously discussed in the opening lines to David Copperfield.
    "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
  • The Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts novels make extensive use of other Imperial Guard regiments fighting alongside or in the same area as the Ghosts, with the commanders typically being named, likable individuals.
    • Watch out, though, for the other commanders ever getting character development. If they do, bastardry will ensue at some point during the book.
  • In Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM):
    • Amberly Vail clearly has lots of adventures fighting enemies of the Imperium in between those times when her path crosses with Cain's. Her footnotes occasionally make references to these.
    • In stories when Cain is serving with the 597th Valhallan it's also usually mentioned that there are several other regiments on the same planet (most notably "Duty Calls", where he notices a young Commissar who shows enough signs of competence that he wonders how he did later on).
    • Several minor characters wrote similar memoirs to Cain (that is similar to his "official" memoirs, not the candid ones that the stories consist of). Most notably Sulla (who's only a Lieutenant/Captain at the time of the books, but is Lady General by the time she wrote them). Other examples include the Medic (who was essentially a fictionalised James Herriot) from "Death or Glory" and Sgt. Tyber, who went on to write a book about the events of the same.
  • In Great Expectations, both Miss Havisham and Magwitch could easily have been the heroes of the story, with Pip as a side character.
  • Any named character from The Dresden Files. Special credit goes to:
    • Carlos Ramirez, professional Badass and Harry's best friend on the Wardens. The regional commander of the Wardens on the West Coast, he gets into almost as much trouble as Harry.
    • Michael Carpenter's exploits against the Denarians could make a fantastic series on their own.
    • Sanya. As of Small Favor, he is the only active Knight of the Cross, which means that he is single-handedly patrolling the world and putting down various supernatural threats. This is a normally a job for three people, but, as Harry notes, he seems to be handling it with aplomb.
    • Morgan. Come on, we get to hear the stories about how he nuked a shapeshifting demi-god of pure evil, and cut his way through the entire Red Court, fully intent on dueling a being that has Odin matched for metaphysical muscle.
    • Karrin Murphy, and the rest of S.I. After the first few books Harry mentions that S.I. has gotten good enough at handling minor supernatural threats that they don't call him in as much.
    • The Alphas. College kids turned werewolves, dealing with the troubles of young adulthood by day, wolf-shaped vigilantes by night.
    • John Marcone counts as well. The short story "Even Hand" is told from his perspective, and lays ground for potential future narratives. "Aftermath" informs us that, since the death of Harry Dresden, Marcone and his people have repelled several attempts by the Fomor and other bad guys to infiltrate the city.
    • Thomas Raith, Harry's half brother provides vital back up on a number of occasions, but we eventually find that he's a member of the Venatori, and has been fighting the Oblivion War off and on for years.
    • Elaine Mallory, who starts up a similar Wizard for Hire business in Los Angeles.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe (outside of the X-Wing Series, where he is The Hero), Wedge Antilles tends to be this. He's rarely in focus, but almost always there. In the X-Wing Series, Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are the Heroes of Another Story.
  • There are so many characters in Harry Potter that would make good protagonists, including Neville Longbottom, Severus Snape, and Albus Dumbledore.
    • And Nymphadora Tonks. She's probably just slumming in this series; surely she is off having awesome Auror adventures at other times.
    • Nicolas Flamel probably would have a pretty interesting story to tell, considering that he lived for more than 650 years.
    • Neville is an interesting case, because it could have been his story had Voldemort made different choices. As it stands, there's an entire alternate Power Trio in Deathly Hallows (Neville, Luna and Ginny) with enough stories to take up an entire novel.
    • The previous generation characters (Lily, Snape and the Marauders) had more than enough high drama to support their own series. Plus, the epilogue gives us the tantalizing hint of a whole new generation headed for Hogwarts. It's not surprising that novel-length Marauder-era and next-generation fanfics are so common.
    • The Order of the Phoenix, a resistance group that fights Voldemort. Both the past Order (which disbanded before the beginning of the series) and the present incarnation are alluded to having many offscreen adventures that we never hear about. The past Order in particular could easily have its own book series.
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern series, Menolly and Piemur are literally this; as well as appearing here and there in the books, they have their own trilogy that runs concurrently with the first three books. This in turn causes major characters from the first few books who appear in the Harper Hall books to themselves be heroes of another story.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, Rachel Weintraub, who we see travel to the far future at the end of Fall of Hyperion, and then learn that she later returns to a (slightly less distant) the future. Just read the books.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, where the protagonists from our world might be The Only One for the brief time they are there, but Narnia exists for thousands of years without them and is said to have many adventures and heroes of its own that we never hear of (as well as many times where nothing exciting at all is happening). The (adult) Pevensie children become this in The Horse and His Boy and Shasta is this to them (his being the story we get to see).
  • In Second Stage Lensmen, Nadreck of Palain VII. He goes on a solo mission to destroy an enemy base that no one has been able to touch. He does so by inciting the locals into a civil war. However, despite great urging, he absolutely refuses to tell anyone how he did it, because in his eyes the mission was an unmitigated disaster. His shame comes from the fact that he comes from a race of cowards, and he was forced at one point to kill three people directly to complete his mission, rather than causing them to kill each other. To make the point clearer, these people included the highest-ranking enemies at the base, and in a society where Authority Equals Asskicking is taken to the extreme that means he had to personally fight the hardest targets.
  • In the final stage of the Nibelungenlied, the last survivors of the besieged Burgundians are at last taken out by the retinue of the Gothic king Dietrich of Bern (not Bern in Switzerland, but Verona in Italy). Dietrich, the mythical version of king Theoderic the Great, and his followers Hildebrand et al. literally are the heroes of a whole different cycle of legends and stories, so the decision to bring him in not only was an early example of a "cross-over", but also served to enhance the standing of Gunther and Hagen.
  • Not dissimilarly, a number of well-known characters from the Arthurian cycle - Percivale, Tristram, Merlin and quite possibly Lancelot - appear to have started out as the heroes of stories of their own that were gradually absorbed into Arthur's.
  • Sir Apropos of Nothing seems to be beset with many, many heroes of other stories. Whenever they try to regale him with their adventures, however, he always cuts them off...because he abhors such stories.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien did this several times in his Middle Earth stories. He was creating a mythology, and he knew that mythologies are never perfect records, and there are always gaps which leave tantalizing hints of other stories. Some examples:
    • In The Hobbit, while he's certainly involved in the main plot, Gandalf spends much of the novel attending to other matters, which turn out to be destroying the Mirkwood stronghold of the Necromancer, otherwise known as Sauron.
    • In The Lord of the Rings, there are hints of adventures that the other members of the Fellowship had before meeting the hobbits at Rivendell, such as Aragorn's capture of Gollum, or Gandalf's escape from the Ringwraiths. At one point, Sam wonders if Gollum thinks he's the hero of his own story.
    • Both stories focus on the exploits of Gandalf, who is only one of five wizards who were sent into the world by the Powers That Be, each with missions of great importance to all of Middle-Earth. Little is known of what Saruman did before he became evil, and Radagast is only mentioned fleetingly. The other two wizards, Alatar and Pallando, are not even named in the main trilogy but it is mentioned elsewhere that their actions in the East were crucial in weakening Sauron's forces.
    • There's also the battles at Lothlórien and Dale, which are briefly mentioned and correspond closely with the battles at Minas Tirith. The latter one beneath the Lonely Mountain is stated to be the largest one of them all because of its close proximity to Sauron's Easterling forces.
    • Overall, the entire northern arm of the War of the Ring is only briefly described in the books, despite its importance in diverting a very large portion of Sauron's strength from Lórien, Rivendell, and Gondor. The Men of Dale and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain gave their southern allies the time that they needed to fight off Sauron's primary forces and destroy the One Ring.
  • Due to series Loads and Loads of Characters, A Song of Ice and Fire is full to the brim with these. Special mention should go to King Stannis (who survived a siege, later described as "They were down to rats and beets, horses and dogs have been eaten long ago"), Dolorous Edd (just about anything he says, but highlights include finding a dead brother of the Night Watch floating in the barrel of wine and being attacked by a bear!), Maester Aemon (the man was 102 years old when he died and has lived through most of the history known to main characters), Aegon the Fifth (A hero from Tales Of Dunk And Egg, long dead in main novels), Barristan The Bold, Thormund Giantsbane, Theon's friend Cleftjaw, Mance Ryder and Lord Bloodraven... This list goes on and on.
  • Roran Stronghammer of the Inheritance Cycle is an arguable example. He's technically a point of view character, but over the course of Brisingr he slaughters nearly one hundred men from atop an ever-growing mountain of their shattered corpses, is summarily beaten to within an inch of his life for disobeying orders, immediately goes out and wrestles an Urgal chieftan into submission, and leads his new troops to several important victories over The Empire. And everyone completely forgets about him once Eragon gets back from his vacation, to the point that he isn't even mentioned during the Final Battle.
    • Saphira gives a blessing of sorts to an infant girl, later informing Eragon that the girl won't have an ordinary life after receiving it, and that what he just witnessed was the beginning of a whole new legend. And then it turns out that they screwed up and cursed her to suffer other people's problems. After they find out, they try to remove the curse, but only partially remove it, resulting in someone who is aware of other people's problems, but is not inclined to help. It's implied that she is now on a path to become a villain.
    • An even more blatant example comes in Brisingr, when Angela asks Eragon to bless a mother and daughter whose fortunes she had just read. She even lampshades this later by refusing to tell Eragon anything about the two, and they only have one more brief appearance in the final battle in Inheritance.
  • Discussed and lampshaded in one of the Aubrey-Maturin books by Stephen Maturin and Jagiello, right after Jagiello loses his grip on a ship's mast, narrowly avoids the deck, plunges into the sea, and is pulled out roaring with laughter: in a bit of metafictional humor, Jagiello jokingly says that the hero of the story never dies in such a unspectacular fashion, and that he considers himself to be the hero of his own story.
  • This is discussed in Fifth Business. Dunstan Ramsay isn't even the hero of his own story; instead, he (according to Liesl) is destined to be the vital supporting character to everyone else. Strictly speaking, the hero of the story is the successful, handsome Boy Staunton, but the narration only checks in on him now and again.
  • In Laura Anne Gilman's Retriever series there's the Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigators (PUPI or "puppies") who she eventually decided to give their own series in which the characters from the Retriver series play this role.
  • In For Whom the Bell Tolls, the partisan leader El Sordo appears to be the best in the area, with many exciting battles under his belt. But the narration focuses on Pablo's band, and we only see Sordo in one conversation scene and one combat scene.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, each series could be considered this to the other ones. However, Star Trek: New Frontier really plays this role. Because Peter David has sole control over New Frontier, any major events that the Excalibur cannot somehow be excused from, such as Star Trek: Destiny, are told through Broad Strokes by the other authors. Whether we actually get to read those stories depends on whether Peter David wants to write them.
  • In the Star Trek: Mere Anarchy series, the fourth tale attempts to give the impression that Starfleet captains across the board have noteworthy adventures, avoiding the implications that Kirk is the guy to which everything interesting happens. When Kirk mentions he was present at a particular event, the captain he's talking too responds with a casual "oh yeah, that was you", and it's mentioned that this captain was off having his own adventure at the time.
  • Hawk between Spenser novels.
  • Since The Hunger Games are told entirely from Katniss's point of view, there's a lot of details and stories we miss out on because she is unaware of what's happening.
    • Thresh and Foxface throughout the first novel are off having adventures completely separate from Katniss. Foxface and Katniss unknowingly cross each others paths a couple of times but Katniss only runs into Thresh once during the games. Thresh is also apparently off having a major battle with Cato for several days while Katniss and Peeta are in the cave.
    • In the first half of the first book, Peeta could be considered this as he has some agenda and his own adventures with the Career Tributes. We find out about some of these actions later after he has revealed his true colors.
    • The Avox Girl, who apparently had an entire adventure before she ever crossed paths with Katniss.
    • Bonnie and Twill. Katniss hears the first half of their story but is left wondering what happened to them.
    • We also never find out what the rebel movement was up to before Katniss came on the scene (it's way too big and organized to just be a reaction to one defiant act), or how Finnick, Johanna, Beatee, etc all joined it and their stories.
    • Nor do we see Gale evacuate what remains of District 12 after they are bombed. He is considered by many a literal hero.
  • Wrath of the Lemming Men has General Sir Florence Young (sic), who at the conclusion of the book is being knighted for winning a critical battle which (from the central characters' perspective) was fought completely off-stage.
  • In Warrior Cats, there are several times when characters other than the heroes are off on their own quests to save the Clans. There are several such as Yellowfang, who in the first book was organizing a resistance against Brokenstar; Stormfur, who was helping the Tribe become strong enough to defeat the Mountain Invaders; Tigerheart, who spied on the Dark Forest so that he could protect the Clans; and even Jingo, a cat trying to protect her band of former kittypets after their lives were ruined by Sol.
  • Thalia and Nico of Percy Jackson and the Olympians start out as side characters, but head off in their own direction after a while. They come back occasionally, and as they are demigods (and children of the other two-thirds of the "Big Three") no matter what, they often hint at their own ripe share of brushes with death. Nico even gets kidnapped off-screen in what we presume to be an epic and never-to-be-known quest.
    • Retroactively, Jason Grace. We know that while Percy was fighting Kronos, he was fighting the Titan Krios, and that he's been on quite a few quests— enough for him to start rehabilitating the reputation of the Fifth Cohort and be elected praetor. After he regains his memory, Riordan sprinkles in little references (such as going to Charleston with Reyna and having some kind of experience with the dead of the Civil War), but fleshes nothing out.
  • Interestingly subverted in Pocket in the Sea—the heroes are all from the naval prison system and it is very deliberately pointed out in the text that some of them are innocent and some aren't. This means that some of the characters were the Villain of Another Story.
  • In The Wee Free Men, the second Discworld YA novel but the first to be integrated into the adult novels' chronology, Miss Tick spends most of the novel off-page, seeking out Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg and convincing them to return to the Wold with her in order to begin Tiffany's training.
  • Shadow Children: Mr. Talbot is a high ranking government agent who secretly leads some sort of organized resistance, and usually helps out the kids. Another revolutionary shows up repeatedly to aid the heroes in book 5 and 6 rescuing them in the former and executing a gambit in the latter. We don't know what his name is, but he goes by Nedley and later Mike, and is implied to be working behind the scenes as a government officer.
  • The Exile's Violin: Serge went on many adventures with Jacquie's father and one of them involved finding treasure that is relevant to the main plot; the key that unlocks the chest containing the Exile's violin. He made a lot of friends that look down on Jacquie for lacking his experience.
  • Unusual example in that the character in question is actually a key villain of the main story: Demandred in The Wheel of Time makes references to having had a series of adventures on the other side of the world in which he fulfilled a set of prophecies parallel to those of the Dragon Reborn ultimately leading him to become the ruler and Dark Messiah of The Empire of Shara. Word of God even notes that Demandred was essentially the hero of his own parallel version of The Wheel of Time that the reader just barely gets to glimpse.
  • Admiral Hamish Alexander, Earl of White Haven, from the Honor Harrington series. He is already an admiral when the series begins, and thus spends most of his time commanding large fleet actions that are analyzed in exhaustive detail by the main characters after the event. Probably the first notable instance of this is the Third Battle of Yeltsin, a spectacular Manticoran victory that was critical to the opening phases of the war — which we never see.
  • In two of the early stories from Larry Niven's Known Space series ("There is a Tide" and "Flatlander"), a Terran cop named Sigmund Ausfaller shows up as a minor character in one of the Beowulf Schaeffer stories, but its implied that this guy is an even more competent adventurer than Schaeffer is. We'd have to wait for nearly forty years before Niven would write a trio of novels featuring Ausfaller as the hero... and it turns out he's absolutely more competent than Schaeffer was.
  • In The Saga of Grettir the Strong:
    • The life of the outlaw Hallmund is apparently quite a story not unlike that of Grettir himself. When Hallmund lies dying, he recites a poem commemorating his adventures, and "many exploits of his did Hallmund recount in the lay, for he had been in every land." Only a short piece of it is given, but it hints at a most extraordinary tale:
      The giant-kind and the grim rock-dwellers,
      demons and blendings fell before me,
      elves and devils have felt my hand.
    • The outlaw Grim who kills Hallmund goes on to become a famous adventurer himself: "Grim became a great traveller and there is a long saga about him."
  • Bean, from Ender’s Game, was made the "hero" of Enders Shadow, though it's technically the same story from a different perspective. There are also further novels (known as the Shadow saga) focused on other characters from the original story.
  • Pact stars Blake and Rose Thorburn, the same person born as different genders, who inherit their familial heritage of property, books on demon-summoning, and the karmic debt of seven lifetimes worth of monstrous deeds. Early on they meet Maggie Holt, a teenaged goblin binder who's dealing with a prophecy that demands she experience three rounds of "blood and darkness and fire" in return for her family's lives. Though they occasionally assist one another, Maggie feels compelled to deal with her problems her own way-after helping the Thorburns defeat the Incarnation of Conquest, she remarks that being the side character isn't really her thing.

    Live Action TV 
  • Stargate SG-1
    • This trope used to be named after Colonel Makepeace, the leader of SG-3. Makepeace was even briefly put in charge of SG-1 after O'Neill's 10-Minute Retirement as the highest-ranking officer in SG teams — right before he was exposed as The Mole. The new leader of SG-3, Colonel Reynolds, picked up the trope after that, and held it longer than Makepeace ever did. Colonel Makepeace gets his Crowning Moment Of Awesome when he leads an assault team composed of half a dozen SG teams to rescue SG-1 from Hathor. Of course he fails, the rescuers being rescued in turn by Bra'tac, Teal'c, and General Hammond (in one of his rare off-world trips).
      • You could say this is true for all of the other SG teams who are off on their own assignments, which sometimes include assisting SG-1. In the 2-part episode Heroes SG-13 is shown off on a mission or their own.
    • Speaking of Bra'tac, as a leader in the Jaffa Rebellion, he could also qualify as this, as could other rebel leaders such as Ishtar.
  • Stargate Atlantis also features such a character, Major Lorne.
    • The cast of SG-1 is actually sometimes this for SGA. It's understood that they're still doing big important things that we just don't see. (Especially while their show was actually still going on. There'd often be references to the SG-1 plot - nothing too detailed, but... y'know, just in case you forgot that the Ori and Baal are bad.)
    • Also showed up on Stargate Universe more than once; in the first episode, we see a number of starships (one of which is being captained by Samantha Carter of SG-1), who then slide out of focus as the main plot kicks into gear. They're alluded to a few times afterwards, and a few episodes in the second season involve characters from the previous two series working to get SGU's cast home.
    • The alternate crew created by a time travel incident, thought to have been killed, actually landed on a planet a thousand years in the past. They were just as much "them" as the crew that remained on the ship (of whom they were unaware), and although they didn't know they'd traveled back in time, Eli theorised it was possible that they had. The "real" crew go to see their alternate lives play out in "episodes" captured by the Kinos. Had the show gone onto a third season, it's likely that their descendants would have weaved in and out of the main story.
  • On The 4400, we have Jed Garrity, another NTAC agent who seems to be the only other person in that department. Incidentally, he's played by the same actor who played Lorne over on SGA
  • Supporting characters on Doctor Who often choose to stay behind on Earth, or similar, in order to have their own adventures. Sarah Jane (twice) and Captain Jack got their own spinoffs. These "adventures" are often referenced when the character returns to the main show.
    • Rose was originally going to get a spin-off as well, but development of it fell through.
    • According to the two-parter "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky", the Brigadier still takes assignments to Peru in his old age. After years of frustrated fans clamoring "Come on! Nicholas Courtney's not getting any younger!" he finally appeared on TV for the first time since 1989 in series 2 of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • Captain Erika Hernandez of the Columbia in Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • Another example from Enterprise is Shran. They run into him several times, and he tends to take the focus when he does appear, because he's always got his own problems. He even gets to swoop in and save the Enterprise in one episode.
      • The writers were even planning on making Shran a main character if the show got a fifth season. This is probably why they destroyed his ship in the fourth season. That pretty much ended His story and force him to join the main story.
      • The Enterprise that became a generation ship had plenty of adventures after the crew went back in time. No wonder the Xindi accused the main timeline's Enterprise of having sister ships (before any were completed).
      • There's also Daniels, who fights in the Temporal Cold War to protect the Federation.
    • TOS tended to suggest that the other Constitution-class starships generally did have their own 'only ship in the sector' and 'stumbled upon a dangerous mystery while exploring' incidents off-screen whenever other Constitition-class starships showed up. No specific individual served the Hero of Another Story role well, though.
    • Deep Space Nine could be argued as it itself being "Another Story", given that it takes place during the time of The Next Generation and, when that ends, Voyager. It just focuses on a different cast of characters.
    • Admiral Ross is this within Deep Space Nine itself, in that he is a competent (somewhat) admiral who actually does something useful, so Sisko doesn't have to do all alone. Also we have Martok, who flies attack runs against the Dominion.
    • Also Dukat, during his time as a guerilla on a stolen Klingon bird-of-prey. Until his yet another Face-Heel Turn, that is.
  • The day shifts on Homicide: Life on the Street and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  • Detective Profaci on Law & Order, who was eventually a casualty in a Tonight Someone Dies episode (not killed, but arrested for corruption, and exited stage left just the same).
  • Curtis on 24, plus several other less notable CTU agents, who lead tactical teams whenever Jack Bauer can't be there for plot reasons.
  • Commander Turner was the most visible of several JAG officers who served this purpose on JAG.
  • In Dad's Army, whatever assignment the series regulars weren't handling tended to be handed off to Private Sponge.
  • Supernatural did this in its first season, alluding to other hunters associated with the Winchesters, most notably Pastor Jim and Caleb, each mentioned in multiple episodes before a demon who was hunting down the boy's contacts killed them. This same storyline introduced Bobby, who they were able to warn in time, and who has become the longest-living recurring character of the show.
    • Early season six has an episode focusing on Bobby, with the brothers only appearing briefly.
    • Also in Supernatural, since the Apocalypse arc came to an end, Castiel is becoming this. A focus on HIS story would be frankly too effects-heavy for the show.
    • Spoofed with Garth, a hunter who teams up with Team Free Will in season 7; as well as having a name drop in season 6.
    Bobby: "Yeah, Garth, what do you got? ... Never heard of a vamp doin' that. It doesn't sound like our kind of thing. Better drop a dime to the FBI."
    Bobby hangs up the phone. Another phone labeled FBI Tom Willis rings.
    Bobby: "Willis, FBI. ... No, Garth, not me the FBI. The real FBI! How are you still alive?"
    • Season 8 reveals that during the Time Skip between seasons 7 and 8, Garth has been rebuilding the hunter network and has assumed the mentor/Mission Control role that Bobby used to have.
  • NCIS
    • FBI Agent Fornell
    • Special Agent Paula Cassidy.
    • And LtCol Hollis Mann.
    • E. J. Barrett.
    • Special Agent Chris Pacci, before he was killed in season 1.
  • A number of examples on Babylon 5, notably Captain Maynard and the EAS Cortez notably featured, a huge exploration ship which served the more traditional Star Trek role of exploration. It's indicated that they spend so much time out exploring, that most EarthForce personnel will be fortunate to see one in person once. To hammer the point home, much of Maynard's time spent visiting Babylon 5 had him and Sheridan trading stories about what they'd done over the years since they last met.
  • The cast of Friends includes a great number of minor characters and guest stars who serve as love interests for the main characters, but only a handful last more than an episode or two. Of all the secondary characters, only Mike (Paul Rudd) convincingly suggests a character whose life does not revolve around the main characters. Although one of the stars, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) also repeatedly implies that she has a very strange life going on off-screen.
    • Pete Becker, the billionaire thirtysomething software tycoon and Monica's short-term love interest also had a lot going on off-screen, given the small snippets of his real life that we see.
  • The chipper and eccentric Special Agent Lundy from Dexter has had a long and very successful career catching serial killers. That would make a great tv show.
  • After the Smallville season 6 episode "Justice", Oliver Queen's Justice League was frequently made mention of (usually by Chloe) as they travelled the world dismantling Lex Luthor's secret metahuman labs. Every so often a Leaguer (or combinations thereof) would return for a guest appearance, and during the season 9 finale multiple heroes (including those from the Justice Society) provided cameos via the Watchtower's monitors to establish Zod's threat as a global one.
  • Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer touched upon this. Xander gets left behind as the characters take on a world-shaking threat. He himself has to deal with a clearly homicidal school bully. It gets much, much worse. Xander's story only briefly intersects with the 'Let's stop the world from ending' the other cast members are involved with...but if he had failed, the bully would have interfered with the aforementioned world-saving, triggering fun times.
    • Over the course of the show, Riley, Oz, and the entire cast of Angel becomes this.
    • More specifically, in the penultimate episode of the series, Angel arrives in a Big Damn Heroes moment. Unusually, this is a character who used to be one of the heroes of this story, left to be the hero of another story, comes back as both of the above, and then gets sent away explicitly to be the hero of another story if The Plan fails.
  • Angel:
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Stella (Sarah Chalke) guest stars as Ted's love interest for several episodes. Her character has a child from a prior marriage, which initially makes her reluctant to date Ted. In the end, she leaves Ted to reunite with her former husband. Ted's final voice-over narration observes:
    Ted : It was the perfect ending to the perfect love story, it just wasn't mine.
    • Later on we get to see (parts of) that story from the other guy's perspective after a movie was made about it, with Ted's character as a flanderized villain. Ted is not happy about this.
    • The 200th episode "How Your Mother Met Me" is centered on the Mother and what kind of life she was living before she met Ted, from 2005 up until the wedding. It also shows just how close she could have crossed paths with Ted but always just miss, including when Ted was teaching in the wrong classroom, when she mistakenly believed she was in the wrong classroom and was about to head back to the right classroom when Ted rushed past her and again, when the Mother went out for drinks with Louis and walked by Ted who was wearing a dress without seeing him.
  • Community: Meta Guy Abed sees his life as a collection of tropes. In one episode he remarks that "we did lean on that pretty hard last week. I could lie low for an episode." He doesn't have many lines in the rest of the episode but he can be seen in the background of another scene delivering a baby, which gets a call back in the next season when Troy asks if he just always has his own little adventures, which include ticking off a list of the "quintessential list of college experiences," a list of college film tropes. In another episode we learn he became the mask during an trip to the set of Cougar Town and had several imaginary adventures. Presumably, other characters like Annie's Boobs have active off-camera lives.
    • There's another study group on campus that apparently features Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Starburns.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) does this to some extent - there are many, many recurring characters who clearly have a lot going on that doesn't impact on the main plot, such as the ever-busy Doc Cottle and some of the pilots such as Racetrack (who, as of the end of series 3, had been a recurring character since the beginning but had never had a Day in the Limelight) or Hotdog, who had been a supporting player from his introduction in series 1 up until the point in series 4 when it was revealed he was baby Nicky's real father.
    • The standalone features Razor and The Plan tell the other stories: in Razor the protagonist is an officer on the Pegasus, while The Plan retells events from the Cylons' viewpoint.
  • In The Walking Dead's first season the protagonists meet a group of what at first they think are gangbangers who turn out to be protecting a bunch of senior citizens too fragile to be moved. We never find out what happens to them. Likewise Morgan and his son until two seasons later.
  • The series From the Earth to the Moon was produced by director Ron Howard and lead actor Tom Hanks from Apollo 13, retelling the story of NASA and the different missions going to the moon. The episode focusing on Apollo 13 was this, as instead of showing the astronauts (as the film had already done that) it instead focused on the media's coverage on the incident.
    • Also, the episode "The Original First Wives Club", about the wives of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts and what they had to put up with, handle on their own, and do as wives of astronauts, shone a spotlight on women who were, in their own way, just as heroic as their husbands.
  • In the first Lexx movie Thodin the Arch-Heretic was almost the hero of the story, but then he and his compatriots all got killed and we ended up with three losers and an undead assassin.
  • Sherlock writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat mentioned in the commentary for "A Study in Pink" that they cast Rupert Graves because he played the character of DI Lestrade as though he could be this to Sherlock and Watson.
  • A third season episode of Andromeda reveals an alternate timeline where Rhade, Dylan's second in command in the first episode, kills Dylan in their fight in that episode. It results in him taking the role of trying to revive the Commonwealth, and showcases a few important episodes of Season 1 with him in command. In the end, Harper mentions that he seems like a scumbag, and Dylan replies "everyone is the hero of their own story."
  • Blake's 7 featured the System, a cybernetic civilization that built the mysterious starship Liberator; they were the villains of another story.
  • 30 Rock does this occasionally. Entire storylines will be mentioned in passing, often to Liz's relief.
  • In Haven, Audrey, Nathan, and Duke eventually meet other people who help protect the town from the Troubles like Dwight Hendrickson (the guy who cleans up disasters and fight scenes to keep the public in the dark about the Troubles) and Claire Callahan (the shrink who helps people recover and deal with the Troubles).
  • Red Dwarf had Ace Rimmer, a parallel universe duplicate of Rimmer whose life was identical to that of "our" Rimmer until a single incident played out differently and compelled Ace to get his shit together and become the hero of countless off screen adventures.
  • An episode of Person of Interest was told from the point of view of Samantha Shaw, a counter-terrorist agent tasked with chasing the numbers the Government does consider relevant. She later became a main character.
    • Another episode had brief flashes of Det. Fusco protecting a supermodel from Albanian gangsters. His story is unrelated to that of the main characters and we only see glimpses of him doing some extremely heroic things. It demonstrated that while Fusco might be the Butt Monkey of Team Machine, on his own he is actually a highly competent police officer.
    • Hersh and Control are borderline examples due to their immorality and frequent bouts of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, but are still trying their best to protect America as a nation.
    • Root evolved into this after becoming an "analong interface" for the Machine, running ops around the world in order to prevent rival Machines being activated.
  • Justified's fifth season gives us DEA Agent Alex Miller, essentially an older, more world weary version of protagonist, Raylan Givens. It's very easy to imagine that Miller's past is as exciting as Raylan's present, with recurring villain Hot-Rod Dunham as his Boyd Crowder.

    Video Games 
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • The first Super Robot Wars Original Generation game gives you the choice of stoic gambler Kyosuke or Hot-Blooded Ascended Fanboy Ryusei. For the first half of the game, they play this role in the other's storyline.
    • Similarly, other games in the series will have Route Splits, where the player can choose one of two or three different paths for a few missions. Whichever one the player picks, the rest of the team fulfills this trope and takes care of business on their own.
    • One such split in W can actually put the player into this role: While trying to track down Kaname and Tessa in Orb, the Mycene Empire attacks all over the world. After fighting off the monsters sent to attack Orb, you rush off to Paris to help your other teammates there, and arrive just in time to see Mazinkaiser, Great Mazinger, and Shin Getter Robo finish off Ankoku Daishogun.
    • Alpha 3 has "extra stages" which are independent missions that can be accessed from the scenario chart in the options menu. These detail some of the goings on in the story that the Alpha Numbers aren't present for, specifically. 1. What the Raideen and Dancougar people were up to during Alpha 2 (which were notably absent for) 2. Ditto for Gunbuster, and Macross. 3. Ryusei getting his confidence back when he was recovering for the first half the game. 4. the Debut of Ratsel's Aussenseiter. 5. Rai Mai, Sanger and Ratsel and the Tesla lab crew hurrying to roll out Banpreios 6. The villains (now allies) of Voltes V and Daimos defending the refugees of their people from the Balmar and getting their affairs in order in prepartion for a take back of their planets.
    • Masaki Andoh is probably just being an 'extra character' whenever he features in a Super Robot Wars game (be it OG or not), as he and Cybuster was originally a stand-in for Aura Battler Dunbine. However, the Super Robot Wars Gaiden game later reveals that he's pretty much The Hero in the saga of La Gias, which is also pretty rich in backstory. This trope is lampshaded in Second Original Generations, when the OG heroes visit La Gias, and surprised with how much Masaki was treated with full respect like a real hero when otherwise he's just being your typical 'wandering kid who gets lost at times.
      • From the same game, Shu Shirakawa is this with the release of Dark Prison for 2nd OG as it covers what he's been doing behind the scenes during the La Gias portion of the game.
    • Shin Super Robot Wars also has a route split, but it covers a majority of the game itself. In fact, some characters are exclusive to each route. The only time they get to meet is in the True Final Boss scenario.
  • Flint Paper in Sam & Max. When you first meet him in "Ice Station Santa", Sam asks why he hasn't been seen all year. He replies by listing a series of adventures remarkably similar to the plots of Season One. Max then asks why can't they do "cool stuff" like that.
  • The Warden of Dragon Age: Origins fills this role in Dragon Age II.
    • Bethany/Carver also become this if they end up becoming Grey Wardens, or Circle-Mage/Templar. What they did in the last 6 years before Act 3 is left vague.
    • Also Zevran after the end of Origins. He shows up in the sequel but only as a side quest (and can help during the final battle).
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom, there's sort of an In-Universe example. Moisture Creature is included as a Hidden Character, and he claims to be an alien that got trapped inside the game and was identified as a monster character. (Not technically true, because Moisture Creature is a real card in the actually card game.)
  • Your rival adventurers in Elona will wander about the continent, clearing dungeons, finding treasures, and visiting towns on their own. Every time you bump into them, you can challenge them, barter for their equipment, hire them as bodyguards or romance them.
    • Also, should you sacrifice them or beat them up enough to shame them off the continent, new ones take their place.
  • Luigi in the second Paper Mario game. He's been going on his own adventures and getting his own party members on his own time (even getting a book series adapted). While he and the books claim to be going on a truly epic adventure, his (usually beleaguered) party members state that Luigi's exploits are just one Epic Fail to another Epic Fail and it's usually up to them to pull him out.
  • Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion takes place during the same war as Ace Combat X; the player character this time is the leader of Falco Squadron, another Aurelian unit.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has the Sea Goblin Team, a special operations unit that essentially does on the ground what you and your wingmates do in the air (i.e. The Impossible). You fly top-cover for them while they pull off their trademark Gunship Rescues at certain points in the game.
  • Dr. Marie Delacroix of System Shock 2 is another SHODAN-assisted agent aboard the Von Braun, always just one step ahead of the player. While the player doesn't interact with or even see her until you find her corpse, the player finds her audio logs throughout the game. Late in the game SHODAN abandons her and leaves her to die.
    • BioShock 2 has Mark Meltzer, the hero of the viral marketing storyline released before the game. The player can track Meltzer's progress through Rapture through audio diaries he leaves and eventually kills him without even thinking about it.
    • Bianca Schuler was this in the first System Shock game. SHODAN hated her so much that she imprisoned her in a cage next to her main memory bank so she could watch her die.
  • A humorous example. As of TES: Oblivion, Jiub of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has become known as "Saint Jiub" for clearing the cliff racers out of Vvardenfall. And there was much rejoicing!
  • Crowe in Star Ocean The Last Hope is a perfect example, traveling the universe and having adventures with his own ship and later serving as The Cavalry several times for the main party.
  • Near the end of Persona 3 Portable, you can talk to a man at Club Escapade in the endgame, who talks about his problems but states that they've got nothing to do with you. The man (named Vincent) is an Early-Bird Cameo from a game called Catherine, where he is a main character.
  • Both, Felix and Isaac's group in both Golden Sun games. In the first game, Felix is on a quest with the antagonists to unleash Alchemy on the world and you hear a few people mention about him and his group as you travel. In the sequel, you take over Felix's role while occasionally hearing tales about Isaac's group as you travel. Isaac and Felix's parties finally meet at one point and they team up to finish Felix's quest.
    • There's also Sean and Ouranos, who you ride with on the boat across the Karagol Sea. They have unique sprites and icons, personality quirks (such as Ouranos' fear of water), and have obviously been traveling around for a while to be as strong as they are. Although they get their asses handed to them by the Kraken (Which happens to be That One Boss), they are more than capable of fighting off the other monsters that attack the ship.
  • Many of the characters you encounter in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect are this.
    • An interesting twist occurs in some of the cutscenes, in which YOU are the aforementioned hero, thanks to a Stable Time Loop.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The protaganist, C.J. sees his insane girlfriend run off with a quiet racing competitor. Said quiet man is the main character, Claude, in the (chronologically later, though earlier release) Grand Theft Auto 3.
  • The main story of Grand Theft Auto IV centers around Niko Bellic. The two following DLC releases, collectively titled "Episodes from Liberty City", focus on biker Johnny Klebitz and Luis Fernando Lopez, bodyguard and hitman for club owner Tony Prince. The three occasionally run across one another, but their stories are largely independent. All three are together in a single location only once, during a diamond deal they've all been brought into by various circumstances (which was foreshadowed by the achievement for completing the diamond mission in Niko's story, called "Impossible Trinity").
  • Acting Chief Engineer Jacob Temple would have made a good protagonist for a Dead Space DLC. The only real difference between him and Silent Protagonist Isaac Clarke is that Isaac's girlfriend was in Medical - Jacob's was in hydroponics. Through the game, you find logs on the same path as Isaac's, with Temple literally doing all the things that Isaac does, only failing. But, hey, at least he found his girlfriend alive.
  • Parodied in Super Mario RPG with the Bonus Boss Culex, who claims to belong in a different game, but doesn't say which one. (He seems to be a Shout-Out to various villains from Final Fantasy.)
  • Fallout: New Vegas gives us Vulpes Incluta, a spy who manages to beat the Courier to Nipton, The Strip, and The Fort, no matter how fast the Courier travels. He is involved in many covert operations, and it's implied that when you don't see him, he's wreaking havoc in NCR territory somewhere.
    • Also, any of the NCR Rangers. They have spies everywhere, even at all the Legion bases. You even meet a drug dealer who turns out to be one. Imagine how many are out there.
      • Also, the Legion doesn't really know if you help the NCR in the beginning, so long as you don't go against the Legion, until you get very overt about your NCR aid, they have no idea. But if you help the Legion, Rangers WILL know, and they will find you.
    • Marcus really gives this impression, being among those responsible for taking down the Enclave.
    • And finally there's Ulysses, who is gradually revealed to have visited every location explored in the DLC packs and had his own adventures there before his final confrontation with the Courier in Lonesome Road.
  • Wing Commander has this in the form of other pilots. Especially in Prophecy Maniac and some other pilots start as aces while the player is a green-horn. In missions they often lead different squads and are only heard over radio fulfilling their part of the plan. The player joins them towards the end of the game.
  • In Starlancer the player actually plays this role. Especially in the beginning, the player's team of misfits is largely unknown while established aces like Klaus Steiner are often mentioned on TV. It is not until much later in the game that the player is treated as an equal.
    • The news reports certainly help to make the player feel like there's a devastating war on, instead of a series of small engagements. A war that would last another 100 years.
  • In the first of the two video game prequels to the Eureka Seven anime series, Holland (Supporting Leader} in the main series) initiates his anti-government movement while main character Sumner Sturgeon is busy dealing with his own issues.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has the player character(s) encounter many other myrrh-gathering groups, including the real main characters. You're just there to watch.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud discovers that his choppy memories are actually those of Zack, who gets his story told in Crisis Core.
  • The Spartan Captain of God of War 2 manages to get to the island of the Fates and get to the phoenix puzzle. He does this without any sort of godly powers or assistance from them, and would have gotten further if he didn't encounter Kratos in a dark room. There's also the people who were once all those corpses you see lying around deep inside each of the major locations, and the Argonauts, Perseus, and Icarus are also on their own adventures on the island.
  • Captain Marcus Walker in Freelancer is the commander of the Liberty cruiser LNS Utah. Unlike the Anti-Hero Trent, Walker is a straight shooter who takes pride in his service. He even offers to help Trent join the Liberty Navy. After helping to defend the Willard Research Station and a Liberty battleship, Walker disappears for a while, before reappearing to help Trent and the others escape from a Liberty ambush in Zone-21. It's not clear what he did while Trent was out doing his thing, but given his impressive record and his Heroic Sacrifice, it was probably something awesome. Then there's Casper Orillion, the man in charge of The Order. Actually, there are plenty of characters, including Ozu, Michael King, Lord Hakkera, and Diedrich Von Claussen, who are impressive in their own right.
    • Even cooler, Walker actually mentions that while they were gone, he and his crew launched guerilla attacks against Rheinland supply depots in the Border Worlds. Pity you don't get to see it.
  • The Signature Heroes of RuneScape, while still a relatively new concept as of the time of this statement, appear to be this to the player.
  • Everyone else at Wigglytuff's Guilde in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers. They're on their own adventures daily, and you even hear bits and pieces about them. In Explorers Of The Sky, you get to actually step into their shoes and see some of their adventures first hands.
  • The Call of Duty games often invoke this trope, particularly the ones focused on World War II. The different characters you play as, while they never meet each other in-game, help to contribute in their own way in order to defeat the Germans on vastly separated fronts.
  • Mass Effect has Captain Kirrahe, a Salarian Spectial Task Group commando, who gives a rousing Patrick Stewart Speech to his squad telling them to Hold the Line and act as the distraction while Shepard and his team infiltrate the base and plant a nuke on Virmire. Throughout the mission we hear both the gunfire of their unseen battle and their radio chatter, reminding Shepard that in comparison, Shepard's mission is the easy one.
    • Even though Garrus rejoins the squad early on in Mass Effect 2, the fact that his activities in between 1 and 2 caused all three major mercenary bands in Omega to join forces to take him down makes it clear that he's been busy, even before this is confirmed during dialogue. His dossier in the Lair of the Shadow Broker even lampshades the fact that he's practically Shepard's equal, but is unlikely to fully come into his own as long as he's working with Shepard.
    • In Mass Effect 3, this extends to every surviving member of the Suicide Mission in the last game, with the exception of Garrus and Tali, who join your squad for the third time. To whit:
      • Miranda continues to fight her father.
      • Jacob is protecting defecting Cerberus scientists at a safe house.
      • Jack is mentoring biotic students at the Ascension Project.
      • Grunt is leading a crack team of krogan commandos.
      • Mordin plays a pivotal role in curing the genophage.
      • Kasumi is being tracked by a Salarian Spectre (who fits this trope himself), whom she helps on a different investigation.
      • Zaeed is messing with Cerberus.
      • Thane dies of a combination of a stab wound by Kai Leng (incurred while protecting the Salarian Councillor) and Kepral's.
      • Samara is investigating an Ardat-Yakshi monastery that went dark.
      • Legion plays a pivotal role in dealing with the geth.
    • Mass Effect 3 also has Admiral David Anderson and his second in command, Major Coates, both of whom stayed behind on Earth to set up a resistance fight against the Reaper invaders prior to Commander Shepard arriving with the Sword Fleet to liberate Earth. There are many fans out there who are rather vocal about their desire to see a new Mass Effect title based on that story.
    • Anderson is also the hero of the tie-in novels — Revelation, Ascension, Retribution, and the much-maligned Deception.
    • Also from Mass Effect 3 comes Jondom Bau, Council Spectre and all around Salarian Badass. Your single mission with him gives you the feeling that this guy's been around and that following him around for a couple of games would make for some incredible stories.
  • TRON: Evolution has the protagonist Anon, a newly rezzed Security Monitor who starts his function just as CLU triggers The Purge in the backstory of TRON: Legacy. Anon goes through all kinds of troubles to keep CLU from finishing off the last ISO, Quorra. And by the end of the game, he dies saving her.
  • When the Left 4 Dead 2 group meets the Left 4 Dead group in The Passing, each group is this to the other group.
  • In The Trail Of Anguish, Chris is just a cute boy to you, but he claims to be on some unrevealed adventure of his own.
  • Banjo's was this in his appearance in Diddy Kong Racing, according to the game's instruction manual.
  • Fire Emblem Thracia 776 is essentially this for Leif, a supporting character from Fire Emblem Genealogy of the Holy War's second half. The game takes place a year before the second half of Genealogy and follows Leif in the Thracian Peninsula and his desperate struggle to reclaim his kingdom while fighting a division of the Grannvale Empire and the Loptr Cult. Seliph, the actual hero of Genealogy shows up briefly and his role is essentially to show how badass his army is which initially increases Leif's self doubt.
  • This happens roughly once per game in the Summon Night: Swordcraft Story series. Particulary obvious in the second, where a Power Trio seeking out a MacGuffin of some sort briefly cross paths with you and team up to the fight the local baddie, then continue their quest. That would make you this in relation to them, for that matter.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour, the Full Circle ending implies that Howard Blackwood, JP Sater, and DJ Bobby Ricks were all Heroes of their own stories, but failed and became stuck in Silent Hill limbo as a result. Anne Cunningham plays this trope the most straight: every time Murphy encounters her she looks more rough than before, as she is also enduring the same sort of nightmares and monsters, and she even has a final boss she has to face: Murphy himself.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, the player characters are this in relation to the Knight-Captain, the PC from the first two campaigns. (SoZ takes place during or after Mask of the Betrayer, on the opposite side of the continent.)
    • The original NW 2 also applies, from the party members (such as Shandra, who even has a similar background to the Knight-Captain's) to all of the major antagonists.
  • A lot of the NPCs from Dark Souls are this trope. You'll often find them in extremely dangerous areas like Anor Londo and Lost Izalith, meaning they must be pretty Bad Ass to fight their way there. Moreover, several of them are direct analogues to the player:
    • Solaire of Astora is undertaking a parallel journey to your own in his world, having conquered all of the challenges you face before you do, engraved his summon sign near a number of bosses, and even, judging by some of his Dummied Out dialogue, escaped the Undead Asylum just as you did. Word of God confirms that if you save him in Lost Izalith and summon him for the final boss battle, he then goes on to defeat Gwyn and link the Fire in his own world, thus finding his own sun at long last.
    • Oscar of Astora, the Elite Knight who frees you from your cell and gives you the tools you need to take on your quest, journeyed to the Undead Asylum in hopes of somehow taking part in the supposed prophecy of the Chosen Undead. As it stands in-game, his failure enables the player's victory; in an entire subplot cut from the game, however, his role would have gone much father. In this scenario, Oscar would have escaped the Asylum along with the player, met up with them multiple times after the latter rings the Bells of Awakening (including an instance where he partners up with you to fight through the Forest Hunters and reach Artorias's grave), and had his own dealings with the two Primordial Serpents and perhaps even Solaire. But as it becomes clear that your accomplishments better fit the prophecy, Oscar's need to take his place in destiny would have consumed him, and at the end of the game, he would have aligned himself against whichever Serpent you sided with and fought you to the death for the title of Chosen Undead.
  • Valkyria Chronicles III: Welkin (militia), Leon (military), Baldren (military), Juliana (military), Avan (civil defense).
    • The first Valkyria Chronicles game had Optional Party Members Vyse and Aika. They apparently travel the world having adventures, and in their ending, they both leave Gallia on a boat one misty morning and are never seen or heard from again. Given who they're based on...
  • In Half-Life 2, Isaac Kleiner, Eli Vance and Barney Calhoun have obviously had quite a number of adventures and have set up the infrastructure for a rebellion, with Barney even infiltrating the Combine. But those adventures are really never talked about much.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Gangrel scholar Beckett is only in LA to investigate the rumors of the Ankaran Sarcophagus, and bumps into you on occasion to offer advice. He's up to a lot in the bigger scheme of the Old World of Darkness, though, and indeed he's one of the main heroes of the Vampire setting.
  • In Assassin's Creed III Connor Kenway ends up meeting up with Aveline de Grandpré, protagonist of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation. In this case, it also applies to Aveline as well in her game.
  • The Stranger from The Walking Dead. Like Lee, he was just trying to survive, and keep his family safe in the Zombie Apocalypse. Then Lee and the group steal the supplies from his car. He loses what's left of his family, what's left of his sanity, and turns from hero to vengeance seeker.
  • Taken literally in the first mission of HAWX, which has you running air support for a mission from one of the Ghost Recon games.
  • In Muramasa The Demon Blade, Kisuke and Momohime can occasionally meet during the hot springs segments of the game, but aside from certain endings don't directly interact with each other.
  • The Dishonored DLCs The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches focus on the exploits of Daud, the Empress' assassin prior to his fate in the main game.
  • Bloodedge from BlazBlue. An unsung hero who fought the Black Beast for an entire year, giving humanity time to learn Ars Magus and prepare to kill it, at the cost of his own life. Although Subverted in that Bloodedge is actually a time-displaced de-powered version of Ragna with amnesia. So, really, he's the same hero. In fact, because of the Stable Time Loop the game is set in, it's technically the same story as well.
    • The exploits of Bloodedge, and his battle against the Black Beast, are covered in BlazBlue: Phase 0.
  • The Portal series: In Portal there are only two characters: Chell and GLaDOS. In Portal 2 we are introduced to Wheatley, and we get to know more about Cave Johnson, founder of Aperture Science, and his assistant, Caroline. But there is another character that is not only common to both games, but is also crucial to the story, as in without his actions, there would be no story at all; and yet we never get to see him - but we find references to him and his work everywhere: "The Ratman". Doug Rattman was a scientist working in the GLaDOS project, and became the only survivor after GLaDOS gassed everyone with Neurotoxins. He then managed to stay alive for several years, living in hiding, moving through the facilities using secret passages; and eventually succeeded in starting the events that lead to Chell facing GLaDOS, and all that happens afterwards. In fact, he is so much a Hero of Another Story that he actually does have his own story
  • In The Night Of The Rabbit the Big Bad Great Zaroff and his mentor Marquis de Hoto were this until their Face-Heel Turn.
  • Ish from The Last of Us. In the notes you find from him, you get to read about him developing from a lone survivor hiding out on his boat, to founding and protecting a doomed encampment in the sewers. What happened to him after he and a small pocket escapes the sewer, is a mystery.
  • In the Starfleet Adventures mod for EV Nova the player character's career runs parallel to Star Trek: The Original Series and the first six movies, and events in the live-action canon occasionally reshape the game universe.
  • In The Babylon Project's campaign "The Raider Wars" the Player Character is one to the main cast of Babylon 5. You start out leading part of B5's fighter wing during the series pilot "Midnight on the Firing Line". After the first mission you're transferred to the destroyer EAS Hood.
  • Iroquois Pliskin Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2. While you're playing as Raiden, Iroquois is having an adventure of his own on Arsenal Gear.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Samus is just one of four bounty hunters summoned for the mission, and it's clear that they all knew of each other and had possibly worked together before. Sadly, all of the others' stories end with them becoming villains of this one.
  • The basic premise of You Are Not The Hero is that you are one, being an NPC that's chasing after the actual heroes because they stole your pendant (an essential Deconstruction of the Kleptomaniac Hero, as well as general RPG heroism).
  • In the Ogre Battle, in a twist, in every game there's the MacGuffin of another story, the Fireseal/crest. While technically it is the most powerful accessory one can wear, its Flavor Text indicates that it's either equally powerful or more than that particular game's doohicky; but nobody knows what it is for.
  • The main cast of The World Ends with You are this in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance.

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck has the kid's Guardians, who, though often ignored or avoided by the main characters, show up all over the place, occasionally helping the kids from the background while engaging in their own adventures.
    • Not to mention fedorafreak, who only ever appears on a Twitter expy for three frames, and provides regular updates about, respectively, his choice of hats, his house burning down, The End of the World as We Know It, and finally, his own journey through another session of Sburb and, finally, his death, possibly on a Quest Bed (which would allow his ascension to God Tier). The forums make him a Memetic Badass.
    • The trolls' ancestors played an unsuccessful session that resulting in the Scratch, resetting their universe so our trolls could have another chance.
  • On the cast page of the webcomic Precocious, Kaitlyn is described as "the central character in another strip". She literally became the Hero of Another Story later, with the introduction of the Precocious spinoff strip, Copper Road.
  • In Girl Genius, Othar Trygvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!) is this for much of the comic (as chronicled on his Twitter feed) until his story crosses with the main plot. And in his mind, he's still The Hero even when it does.
  • It is heavily implied that adventuring parties and Player Characters in the world of The Order of the Stick are this, although the heroes have yet to directly interact with another good-aligned PCs or Adventuring parties. Nale and his adventuring party (the Linear Guild) tried to pretend they were this, claiming they were in the same dungeon on a completely different quest (although later turned out to be a lie). Inverted at one point when the Order ran into a pair of villains from another story, a dwarf and a Ninja who were trying to murder The King of Nowhere (don't ask).
  • Goblins has two groups of main characters in a RPG setting, one as if it were a real world (the titular Goblins) and another who act like a group of RPG players, making meta comments all the time. Then there's another RPG player group that fares poorly and seems only to show up to complain about their previous characters dying before dying again, yet reference adventures that aren't shown.
  • The Walkyverse, spanning as it does at least half a dozen different authors, is a tangled, continuity-challenged rat's nest of this trope.
  • Likewise, Gisele Lagacé's two current main comics, Ménage ŕ 3 and Eerie Cuties, have their own spinoffs that take place in the same continuities with characters who've faded into the background in the original comics.
  • Exterminatus Now occasionally features Inquisitor Damien's hyper-competent B-Team and Inquisitor Deket's hyper-destructive C-Team. Inquisitor Brisbane also appears in numerous background and flashback shots and Schaefer was shown having his own adventures once.

    Web Original 
  • During the Cross Over between Dark Harvest and Tribe Twelve, Alex and Chris (the former) are this to Noah Maxwell (the latter), and vice versa.
  • Similarly, Everyman Hybrid meets Jeff, Alex and Chris, as well as Noah Maxwell, in their Cross Over episodes.
  • Not an example in and of itself, but Cracked lists Six Movie/Tv Universes That Overlap.
  • SF Debris gives us "Lieutenant Nobody" from Star Trek: First Contact; his take on the unseen original chief of security of the Enterprise-E before Worf, who repeatedly demonstrates he's the Hyper Competent Sidekick developing new tactics to fight the Borg on the fly, keeps his team fighting against impossible odds, and who of course, is completely ignored by the Enterprise crew.
  • In Pay Me, Bug!, there's some kind of coup in progress against Baron Minerva Tyrelos. Grif stumbles into the middle of it, and nearly gets himself killed. We never find out who's behind it, what their ultimate plan is, or whether the Baron's plan to have her brother publicly take the blame ever worked.
  • In the Whateley Universe, there are several. Lady Astarte, the greatest superheroine of the era, is hovering around in the background, because she's the headmistress of the Superhero School the main characters go to. At Halloween, when Deathlist attacks, she takes him on single-handed and wins. There are lots of references to former battles she has fought and former superheroes she has known, because she has been superheroing since World War II. Skyhawk, one of the main superheroes of Boston, probably counts as well.
  • Worm:
    • While the adventures of the Undersiders are the main focus, Faultine's crew, a group of superpowered mercenaries, crops up from time to time pursuing their own goals, and interludes focusing on them tell of their investigation into Cauldron independent of the main plotline.
    • Word of God has stated that the Las Vegas Protectorate and the Thanda regularly battle S-Class threats whose abilities are either too subtle or potentially panic-inducing to be publicised.
  • The various main characters in each of the 33 different campaign blocks in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe were this to each other. Each campaign was a separate story that usually had nothing to do with each other except every once in a while they'd overlap somehow.
  • Kris "The Girl Who Never Was" of Twitch Plays Pokémon Crystal. We'll likely never know what her journey would've been like.
  • Welcome to Night Vale has various examples, the most memorable being Dana, who gets lost in the Dog Park, and Tamika Flynn, child leader of the revolution against Strexcorp.

    Western Animation 
  • Fitting for a show with a frequent Villain Protagonist, The Venture Bros. originally had Sergeant Hatred as the Villain of Another Story. He started as a catch-all for any time the writers needed to reference a villain for the Monarch's henchmen to steal from, or someone else that the Venture twins had encountered in the past. He eventually joined the show as a regular. A similar situation occurred with Captain Sunshine, a supposed hero. He does appear later on.
  • Likewise, whenever Kim Possible mentioned her exploits thwarting a different villain to the one she was this episode, it would always be Professor Dementor, who was originally He Who Must Not Be Seen, but was developed into Always Someone Better for Dr Drakken.
  • The DCAU was fond of this, especially when it entered the Justice League Unlimited era.
    • The pilot for JLU, Initiation, sets the stage as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Supergirl and Captain Atom go on a mission to a fictional North Korean Expy country. Green Arrow just wanted to go home but got dragged into the story because all the other heroes were off doing other missions.
    • Subsequent episodes would often include J'onn J'onzz or Mister Terrific at the monitor watching and directing various heroes around the globe doing all sorts of heroic stuff that had nothing to do with that episode's plot, especially if said plot was set primarily on the Watchtower itself.
    • The Greatest Story Never Told focuses on the glory hog Booster Gold who is busted down to directing pedestrians to safety while the rest of the League fight the Dark Lord Mordru, who is strong enough to take them all and an obviously awesomely powerful villain, and the first "Omega-Level" threat the League comes up against. We hardly get to see any of it. Booster's own story however ends up seeing him saving the world from a black hole and getting the girl while the other heroes are too busy fighting. He gets berated by an injured Batman at the end for abandoning his post.
    • Patriot Act involves a crazed general giving himself super-powers to battle the League because he sees this group of superhumans, lording over them in a space station, as a potential threat to national security. He calls out Superman for a fight, but Shining Knight tells him that Superman is fighting to save a planet from an unspecified crisis, and that all the other genuine superhumans are all out doing other stuff. He ends up having to face Green Arrow and an assortment of lesser known "normal" heroes, eventually including reserve members the Crimson Avenger (who, basically, just has a gun) and Arrow's ex-sidekick Speedy (who, naturally, is just an expy of GA himself), the only back-up available. This is the closest either two get to spending a day in the limelight, and Avenger doesn't even get dialogue while Speedy is never seen again, and that was his debut.
  • In the pilot to Superman: The Animated Series, Martha Kent mentions "that nut in Gotham City". The two heroes met later, setting the stage for the DCAU.
    • The multiple guest appearances of several DC heroes in both Superman and Batman (the former more than the latter).
  • Teen Titans: Speedy might've gotten the shaft (no pun intended) on Justice League Unlimited but he was set up as a recurring hero on Teen Titans as a rival for Robin, eventually forming Titans East along with other heroes who had previous appearances.
  • The future Justice League in Batman Beyond.
  • At the start of The Incredibles we see Frozone fighting a villain in a helicopter as main character Mr. Incredible carries out his own string of heroic deeds.
  • Mater the tow truck, a minor character in Cars who is the star (and Unreliable Narrator) of Mater's Tall Tales in the Pixar Shorts collection.
  • In Darkwing Duck, DuckTales' Gizmo Duck made many appearances as a hero who had much better adventures and publicity. There were other heroes introduced in the show, including his mystical girlfriend Morgana and the aquatic Neptuna. Eventually, they formed the Justice Ducks.
  • American Dad! has had a couple appearances by John Mind, a quadruple amputee whose limbs weren't blown off, but "blown in, into his mind," giving him telekinetic powers. He never has more than the most minimal effect on an episode's plot, but he apparently walks the Earth, having adventures as "Mind Quad."
  • Bucky O Hare And The Toad Wars had Commander Dogstar, commander of the sister ship of the Righteous Indignation, the Indefatigable, and his crew.
  • The Justice League in Young Justice. At one point, Professor Ivo escapes from the team, but appears in prison for most of the rest of the series. We're expected to assume that the Justice League caught him.
  • Lampshaded on an episode of The Simpsons; when Bart loses his girlfriend to a rich Ace, he fails to win her back at the end of the episode. When Bart protests that the protagonist of the story is supposed to get the girl, her new boyfriend counters that in this case, he is the protagonist.
  • Elise in Dan Vs.. She's a highly skilled spy who is almost always caught up in her own assignments, and it just so happens that those often cross paths with Dan when he's on whatever his newest tirade is.
  • Zapp Brannigan on Futurama has many off-screen adventures that are referred to briefly, mostly in the form of hilarously one-sided military campaigns that are nonetheless treated as heroic (such as defeating the pacifists of the Ghandi Nebula).
  • Generator Rex: Captain Calan normally leads the troops, but is implied to do all sorts of off-screen adventures, like leading a mission to steal a data cartridge from a foreign country, and feeding information to the protagonists when they defect. White Knight seems to trust him with higher up missions.
    • The Jungle Cat EVO also defects with the protagonists, and is reported to have been investigating the Consortium on WK's orders, and abducting a former member.
  • The Scotsman of Samurai Jack. When he meets Jack(And is unaware of his fame) he regales how he's the most wanted man on the planet.
  • Simon Petrikov on Adventure Time was a Badass Bookworm and a massive Woobie, who survived a nuclear apocalypse, became a Parental Substitute to a little girl in the aftermath of said apocalypse, and successfully fought for years to resist the corrupting influence of the enchanted crown that allowed him to survive. Unfortunately, the show takes place centuries after he eventually lost that fight, so most of the current protagonists only know him as the rather crazy and pathetic Ice King.
  • Daring Do from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is this when she's discovered to be real.
    • In Inspiration Manifestation, Twilight goes through a lot of offscreen trouble to clean up Rarity's mess. She eventually had to call in backup from Luna and Cadance, and it's made clear that the whole ordeal caused a great amount of stress.

    Other 
  • Extended Universes is this by default. Usually containing other bad ass heroes (and villains) that the main series might only mention, or show as a background/side character or not show at all. In the EU they get their own adventures, missions and supporting characters and villains. Might even eventually become Ensemble Darkhorse(s) if well written.

    Real Life 
  • Strictly speaking, anybody you run into is likely the Hero of Another Story. Assuming that they (or you) aren't in fact the villain, or even worse, a Red Shirt. Then again, it's very possible that many folks you run into will just be the Butt Monkey.
    • Well, most people you meet are a Hero of Another Story: their own. They'd have to have pretty low opinions of themselves to be the the villains or red shirts of their own stories, and we all are probably the butt monkeys at some point or another.
    • You most likely see your best friend or anyone else close to you as this.
    • It can be quite disconcerting to look around yourself in a public place and think how everyone else is also seeing themselves as "the person looking around themselves at a bunch of strangers"
  • The scientists working on Ultra (the Enigma code breakers during World War II) were this for a long time to the scientists working on the Manhattan project (development of the atomic bomb). While the latter were widely recognized for their work, Ultra was kept officially secret until 1974.
  • This trope was invoked by practically everyone, on all sides of the fight during World War II (and any other war if you think about it). In their own version of this trope, both sides (Axis/Allies) were doing what they felt was right, while twisting the other side's words/actions against them as much as possible to justify their actions.

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alternative title(s): Colonel Makepeace; Heroes Of Another Story
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