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- One Piece:
- Vivi travels alongside the Straw Hats for close to 3 arcs, but never officially joins the crew. It was teased in her final arc that she would join, and was even offered to by Luffy, but she reluctantly turned down his request. Despite this, she is considered one of the crew (and that she'd be welcomed back with open arms anytime in the future), arguably having the closest bond with the crew of all of the Supporting Cast. When Luffy returned to Marineford under the guise of paying his respects to Whitebeard, she, along with the crew, realized there was an ulterior meaning to it. She only lacked the up to date knowledge of the Straw Hats to know what the message was actually about.
- Jimbei as well develops a close relationship with Luffy and is even offered a chance to join the crew. He declines due to other duties but hopes that Luffy will still keep his offer open.
- Trafalgar Law forms an alliance with the Straw Hats and has essentially been promoted to the unofficial 10th member of their crew. For his part, Law was initially reluctant to treat their alliance as anything more than an Enemy Mine situation, but he eventually came around to accept that Luffy sees him as a friend. It's likely he won't join up since, similar to Jimbei, he has other responsibilities, namely his own ship and crew.
- Sylphiel from Slayers. She is a good friend of the main cast, is remembered or missed by the heroes rather often, and even shown in the opening credits alongside the main four, but actually joins the party only for several episodes per season, then is Put on a Bus again.
- Sieghart in Rave Master, started out as an enemy, but then switched sides to the good guys. Despite this, he never actually joined the main gang and preferred to do his own stuff.
- Fairy Tail:
- Jellal (who is an Expy of Sieghart from Rave Master) becomes this over time to the guild.
- As an inversion, Wendy, one of the main characters and True Companions, becomes this to the Lamia Scale guild after the second Time Skip. After Fairy Tail disbanded she joined their guild, but after she rejoins the re-formed Fairy Tail the offer to stay part of Lamia Scale still stands, and she's still close to all of them.
- In post-Time Skip Claymore, Galatea is technically not one of the Seven Ghosts (as she has not directly taken part in the Northern Campaign) and never hangs out with them for long (preferring to defend her new home city of Rabona), but she belongs to the same generation and is likewise hunted by the Organization for deserting almost simultaneously with the Ghosts, so they let her in on all their plans and secrets, anyway.
- The Beast is prone to mention being an honorary member of The Avengers far more than being on the team.
- Spider-Man shared this dynamic with the Fantastic Four for years. He initially tried to join the team in his early years as a Superhero but was rejected. Despite this he maintained a close bond with the group, particularly Johnny Storm. When Johnny was seemingly killed, Spider-Man was their first choice for a replacement to fill the void.
- In the Teen Titans Very Special Comic Book dealing with teen drug use Robin is replaced by The Protector, who is well known to the other Titans and they are implied to have had adventures together before this. He even orders them about like he's in charge even though he's explicitly a friend of the Titans and not a Titan himself. He is Robin with the serial numbers filed off because the comic book was produced by Keebler, and Nabisco owned the Robin cookie license.
- While his exact location and involvement with the larger conflict has varied throughout the series' run, this was how Knuckles the Echidna started out in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. While helping them out when they were in his area, joining up with them when they really needed him and even going on an extended quest to find a legendary sword connected to the royal family, Knuckles could never permanently join the Freedom Fighters because he had to take care of the Floating Island.
- Surprisingly, Batman never officially joined the Justice League, despite the fact that he is considered a part of their main trio along with Superman and Wonder Woman.
- Several X-Men allies who support the team and are inextricably tied to them but never officially joined, such as Ms./Captain Marvel, Daytripper, Captain Britain, Lilandra, Lila Cheney, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, etc.
- Being two teams of True Companions, Runaways and Young Avengers take this Up to Eleven in that each team treats the other one as whole like this.
- In Baptism of Fire, Geralt's hanse meets up and travels with Zoltan Chivay's gang for a while, with both groups starting to see each other as True Companions, but never actually merging into one (they go separate ways at the end of the book, but their friendship persists well into the later novels). Considering how Geralt is the only one alive of his group when he meets Chivay again, he is the Honorary True Companion to Chivay's gang.
- Prince Gwydion and Doli the dwarf, in The Chronicles of Prydain, are both good examples of the trope. While Taran, Eilonwy, Gurgi and Fflewddur Fflam make up the core group who are identified in the narrative as "the companions," both Gwydion and Doli join them on an as-needed basis in the varying adventures. They're kept from being there all the time because Doli, being a dwarf, lives in the underground kingdom of his people; while Gwydion is the heir apparent and war leader of Math son of Mathonwy, the High King of Prydain, so he's usually off in the service of the crown.
- Tiny seems to be the honorary True Companion for Oregon's crew in The Oregon Files, as he is treated as member of the Corporation while not living with them on their Cool Ship. His honorary status is justified by the fact that he is team's plane pilot, and Boeings hardly fit on a ship.
- Pat Savage is this to Doc and his aides in the Doc Savage novels. She is always willing to help them, and would be a permanent member of the crew if Doc would allow her, but Doc consider his work too dangerous to allow his sole surviving family member to be involved regularly.
- Sunahara of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note has being considered, or even being invited, as a member of the KZ detective team every time he appears. But since he leaves at the end of every book he appears due to one reason or the other, nothing comes out of it.
- CGIS Special Agent Abigail Boran becomes one for the NCIS team once or twice per season, a position which includes affectionate familiarity, lots of harmless flirting, and a strong role in the Mystery of the Week.
- Maj. Dr. Janet Frasier, the CMO of Stargate Command in Stargate SG-1 was effectively a series regular (despite never appearing in the opening credits) and was treated this way, particularly by Sam, who was apparently her best friend and a surrogate aunt to Janet's adopted daughter. This made Janet's sudden death by a stray staff blast in "Heroes" all the more of a Tear Jerker.
- Another example is Maj. General George Hammond, who was the base commander for seven years and is A Father to His Men, with a particularly strong fondness toward the members of SG-1. He occasionally joins them off-world, even participating in their rescue at one point, but naturally is forced away from regular action because of his job.
- An even stronger example is Jacob Carter (also a retired Air Force general), the father of SG-1 team member Samantha. He is host to a Tok'ra, a race of symbiotic alien who shares a human's body, and because of his military expertise, knowledge of alien technology and tactics, and general savvy, he is a great help to SG-1 on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, he can't ever stick around because the Tok'ra still need him.
- Similar to Jacob is the Jaffa Bra'tac, who was a mentor and father figure to Teal'c. He is also a very good example of the Badass Grandpa. With his sage advice, warrior's cunning, and strong network of contacts in the Jaffa Rebellion, he is a great asset to the people of Earth, but once again he is often called away on his own missions and isn't around to help as much as we might like him to be.
- Dr. Turner to the nurse-midwives of Nonnatus House on Call the Midwife. Though he's not quite One Of Them, as he's a doctor with different responsibilities, he is on excellent terms with all of them — especially Sister Julienne, with whom he has worked side-by-side for years, he as the local physician and she as the nun-in-charge — and is just as dedicated to serving the residents of Poplar. Oh yeah, and after she realises that God's plan for her is not to be a nun, but to be a wife and mother as well as a midwife, he earns his happy ending with the utterly adorable Sister Bernadette, becoming engaged to her at the end of the second series.
- Zoe Morgan on Person of Interest is this. She isn't going to quit her day job anytime soon, but whenever the team needs it she is more than willing to help. In her case the motive has something to do with John.
- Doctor Who
- Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny Flint and their alien butler Strax technically don't count as companions as they've never traveled with the Doctor in the TARDIS full-time. The three of them are, however, loyal allies to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and the Doctor once visited his own future grave-site (a big time travel no-no) in order to save them, stating that they've always been there for him.
- Before them was Captain Jack Harkness, who travelled with the Ninth Doctor and Rose for a few adventures before being left behind. Once Jack and Ten worked their problems out, Jack was the Doctor's most consistently recurring ally on for the Tenth Doctor. He even led a team to help defend Earth against threats the Doctor couldn't (or didn't) show up for.
- Sarah Jane Smith was originally a full-fledged Companion of the Doctor, but became this during Nu Who. Like Captain Jack, she protected Earth and had a few adventures with the Doctor. Due to her adoptive son Luke being only fourteen, she never rejoined the Doctor, but would always have his back.
- Martha Jones and Mickey Smith also have shades of this. They both stopped travelling with the Doctor, but ended up carrying on the good fight on their own. Both would show up several times after parting ways with him, just like Sarah-Jane and Captain Jack.
- Before all of them, however, was Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, CMG, CBE, DSO. He lead UNIT in the 70's (or was it the 80's?) and fought alongside more incarnations of the Doctor than anybody else in the franchise's history. Their relationship could be rocky, but the Brigadier was just as determined as the Doctor to keep the Earth safe. Even when he was old, grey and retired, the Master considered him a big enough threat that he took countermeasures to ensure he couldn't interfere with his plans.
- Smallville: While he's a part of the larger group of True Companions that is the JLA, Dr. Emil Hamilton also qualifies as an Honorary True Companion for the smaller core group of True Companions within the team that consists of Clark, Oliver, Chloe, Lois, and, eventually, Tess. He's not around all that often, but when he shows up he's considered a good enough friend to be a part of the bachelor/bachelorette party What Did I Do Last Night? episode that centers on the core five.
- Arrow: John Diggle's ex-wife/girlfriend /wife Lyla Michaels, Action Girl member of A.R.G.U.S., likely qualifies. She'll help Team Arrow immediately when she can, to the point of Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! if necessary, and the team overall is protective of her, getting very angry whenever her life is in danger.
- Supernatural has the angel Castiel as this to brother hunters Sam and Dean Winchesters. All three are nicknamed "Team Free Will" but since Castiel is a walking Story-Breaker Power, the show keeps making flimsy excuses to keep him away for most of the series, in order not to resolve the Monster of the Week episodes too easily.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the core members of the Scooby Gang are Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles. Lovable Alpha Bitch Cordelia and Buffy's vampire boyfriend Angel would sometimes join them in the early seasons; but the former still does not like being in their presence, and the latter, being a vampire, can't be there during the day.
- Million Yen Women: Shin and the five women are bound by a set of rules imposed upon them the anonymous person who invited the women to live in Shin's house. By the time the series starts, Shin's frequently-visiting publicist Seiji is on friendly terms with all the women, is unfazed by Shameless Fanservice Girl Minami walking around the house naked and regularly joins Shin and the women for dinner, the one meal the invitation sender wants all six members of the household to have together. He can't be considered part of the central group due neither living in the house nor being covered by the invitation sender's rules.
- Ric Flair was never officially a member of D-Generation X, but he was The Mentor of Shawn Michaels and Triple H, so he still maintained a close relationship with them, and anyone hurting him was their personal Berserk Button.
- Sarah Stock never wrestled for Arsion and it was defunct before she even had the chance to but during her 2010 trip to Japan, mainly to participate in FUKA's retirement show she also took a booking at Shinkiba First Ring, which lead to her being offered another for a battle royal which lead to a rematch with Princesa Sujey two days later in the same place at Estrella★Japan. Afterwards she was gifted the Sky High Of Arsion title belt, which was no longer recognized by any promotion, ahead of all Arsion alumnus present, who then posed in the ring with her.
- Carmelita Fox in Sly Cooper has several Enemy Mine teamups with the title character throughout the series, but it's not until the fourth game that she actually teams up with the Cooper Gang and develops a bond with them. Murray's drawing makes it known that he considers her part of the gang.
- Invoked in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. After clearing a Bonus Boss fight with the Sentai parody Prism Rangers, Adell will be granted the title of Prism Black. Rozalin complains that she doesn't get to be Prism Pink.
- In the Mass Effect series:
- Urdnot Wrex is the only one of the first game's squad mates who appears in both sequels but never rejoins the Normandy crew (except temporarily in the "Citadel" DLC of Mass Effect 3).
- All survivors of the Suicide Mission in ME2 who don't rejoin you in part three (conditionally: Grunt, Jack, Jacob, Kasumi, Legion, Miranda, Mordin, Samara, Thane, Zaeed) are treated as True Companions when you meet them.
- Lastly, Admiral Anderson, Shepard's CO and the first captain of the Normandy. You only fight alongside him as a guest star in the first level of the last game, but he's included on the Normandy memorial wall right next to Shepard's own name in the Extended Cut.
- A few of the Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts. They don't get to join the main group and their only scenes are when Sora visits their world. Ariel from The Little Mermaid is the most notable example. The first game draws parallels between her desires and Sora's, and Ariel is the only Disney character to worry that she'll never see Sora again. The trio also go through rather a lot of bother to help set her up with Eric in the second game.
- Shadow the Hedgehog becomes one of these to Sonic after his Heel–Face Turn. Although he doesn't hang out with Sonic's group like Tails, Amy, and Knuckles and keeps more than a bit of his rivalry with Sonic intact; he can usually be counted on to be "Just Passing Through" whenever Sonic really needs him.
- As mentioned in the Comic Books entry, Knuckles also qualifies for this, as he spends most of his time doting over the Master Emerald instead of tangling with Eggman.
- Marie in Persona 4 Golden and especially in its anime adaptation could easily be a full-fledged member of the Investigation Team. The only reason she's not is because she's helping from the back stage as a Velvet Room attendant and is technically the Bigger Bad. After the crisis passes, she becomes a full-blooded Persona-user in Persona 4: Arena Ultimax and happily joins her friends in the game's epilogue.
- Yuuki Mishima in Persona 5 is a rather interesting subversion. Despite being the Phantom Thieves' chief Knowledge Broker and public relations guy, the only two members he's really close to are Ryuji and the protagonist. Through the course of his Confidant, it's revealed that he wants to play the trope straight, in the hopes that it'll make him "special" too.
- The Fairy Tale Detective is implied to be this to the Red Riding Sisterhood in the Dark Parables games. She initially joins them for one adventure, but when they join forces again in a later game, her familiarity with the members and inner monologue indicate that she's been periodically visiting them and is still their respected and treasured ally. She can't join them permanently, because she has too many other fairy tale mysteries to solve, but they would almost certainly welcome her if she could.
- Tales of Zestiria: Alicia. A sometimes party guest.
- Tita Russell from The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, is this to the new Class VII in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III where she accompanies them on a few occasions but never in the party whatsoever. Then again, one of the students of new Class VII, Musse, is her roommate.
- Kev in F*** Kayfabe: Wrestling With Labels. He's the only person outside the tight group of friends we meet. He clearly has a close bond with Bobby though it's unconfirmed if he knows anyone else in the group. One would assume they'd accept him as one of their own.
- In Noob, the eponymous guild never left the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits stage, but frequently gets help from Golgotha, who's a mercenary and can't formally join any guild because of that (as it's against rules). She's however a childhood friend to Gaea, gets along with the other members of the guild and is frequently the one who decides to join the group, even if they can't afford to pay her. DVD covers and official photomontages meant to show the entire Noob guild frequently include Golgotha.
- Flash the Wonder Dog was awarded Honorary Membership in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers for thwarting Fat Cat's attempt to replace Flash on his television show. In return, Flash made Chip and Dale Honorary Wonder Dogs.
- Codename: Kids Next Door:
- Tommy Gilligan. He joins sector V for one episode, but sacrifices his membership in order to save everyone. After that he becomes a parody of the trope. He dresses in a ridiculous cape and fedora, attempts to make dramatic entries, tries to be mysterious (when everybody is well aware he's the Annoying Younger Sibling of The Smart Guy) and refers to himself as "The Tommy."
- The baby skunk Bradley, honorary Numbuh 6.
- In Young Justice:
- This was Red Arrow's role in the first season. Despite the fact that he could've been a founding member of the team, he refused to join because he only thought the Justice League was worthy of his talents. Still being close friends with the other founders he relied on them, backed them up, and threatened people on their behalf.
- Captain Marvel also has this dynamic with the team, once they find out he's a kid younger than them. He doesn't join the team because he's already a member of the Justice League, but he hangs out with them when he can because they're his closer to his age. He's part of the group that fights Despero and L-Ron because he was helping Mal, M'gann, and Conner move their stuff from the Hall of Justice.
- Recess has Cornchip Girl, who frequently helps the gang out later in the series and has a Ship Tease with Gus but is not part of the core six. Justified as she was several grades below them so not around as much.
- The trope's title is dropped towards Darren in As Told by Ginger. He was already pretty tight with the girls before he and Ginger started dating.
"Darren's...an honorary BFF."
- Courtney too. She shows herself to be kind-hearted towards Ginger and demonstrates her loyalty in many episodes. One incident has her refer to the three of them as her "real friends".
- In The Legend of Korra, the actual Team Avatar consists of Avatar Korra, Bolin, Mako and Asami Sato, but they have many friends who help them so often that they can be considered extended members: Tenzin, Jinora, Lin Beifong, Bumi, Kya, and (starting from Book 3) Kai.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- Both Shining Armor and Spike are this to the Mane Six. They've saved their friends several times each (and Spike has saved the day twice), but the two of them don't have Elements Of Harmony nor were they united by the Rainboom that gave the Mane Six their cutie marks. Not that they don't try anyways: Shining Armor typically finds himself incapacitated early on by the threat and Spike is simply too young to regularly fight alongside his pals.
- Starlight from Season 6 and on is an interesting case. Like Spike, she doesn't have an Element of Harmony and she lives with Twilight, but she's gotten more character focus than him since her addition to the show (especially in the "higher stakes" two-parter episodes) in a way which would be typical of many Sixth Ranger additions in most other media. However, when it comes to her relationship with the Mane Six, the show tends to keep them separate as she's seen hanging with them even less compared to him. Even though she lives in Twilight's castle, out of the main cast she mostly only runs with Twilight and Spike, usually only meeting the other Mane Six through Twilight or when she tags along as the Mane Six go on said two-parter adventures, but seeing her in a one-on-one with the primary cast in Slice of Life stories is more rare (She has spent time with Pinkie Pie however, who is friends with everyone). Although the show seems to make a distinction between her and the other Mane Cast, to compensate, her own focus episodes tend to follow her with her own set of friends instead.
- Two episodes of Defenders of the Earth ("Audie and Tweak" and "One of the Guys") end with a guest character being made an honorary Defender. In both cases, the character in question is a young boy of roughly the same age as Kshin.
- In X-Men, mutant guest stars, with every right to be on the team, would appear every few episodes, but you'd have to pay for the additional voice acting and everything so they just kind of left and did their own thing.
- Starling is this to the Storm Hawks. Aerrow refers to the team including her as the Storm Hawks Seven, and the team tries to get her to join permanently, but she declines for fear of attachment.