5 Hours Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Iconic Sequel Character

A Breakout Character is the most popular or well known part of their franchise. However, what most don't realize is that this character did not appear until an installment or two in, having been completely absent at the franchise's beginning. Yet, the character has become so iconic the lack of their presence feels like Early Installment Weirdness. The character is an Iconic Sequel Character.

Possible causes of this include adaptations frequently condensing the original story and including characters earlier on than the original (especially when the original is subject to Adaptation Displacement) or the franchise not Growing the Beard and gaining a larger audience until after the Iconic Sequel Character makes their debut, or the first installment isn't that well known.

Compare Second Episode Introduction, which is this on a much smaller scale, and Ascended Extra, for when the character is there the whole time, just in a greatly reduced role.

Contrast Demoted to Extra for when a character has importance in the beginning of a work, but their role decreases as the work goes on. Subtrope of Newer Than They Think.

Note: in order for a character in a serialized television show to count, they must have appeared no earlier than season two. Examples that appeared in late season one go under Breakout Character.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: Krillin wasn't introduced until the first World Tournament Arc (the second story arc), Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu weren't introduced until the second World Tournament Arc (the fifth story arc), and Piccolo wasn't introduced until a story arc later. Gohan and Vegeta weren't introduced until the first saga of the sequel series, Dragon Ball Z, and Trunks wasn't brought in until the third saga.
  • Fist of the North Star: While Raoh may have been the first anime's Big Bad, he wasn't introduced until midway through season 2, along with his brother, Toki.
  • Naruto: The remaining members of the Konoha 12 outside of Team 7, including Ensemble Darkhorse Hinata, Shikamaru, and Rock Lee (the latter of whom got a Spin-Off), didn't join the cast until the second story arc, the Chunin Exam. However, they were given Early Bird Cameos (save for Team Gai) in the first and third episodes of the anime.
  • Slayers has Xellos, who doesn't appear until later on in the series; in the anime not personally showing up until the NEXT season.
  • In Ranma ˝ Mousse, Cologne, and Happosai don't show up until season two of the anime, while Ukyo is absent until season three.
  • This applies to all of the Straw Hat crew in One Piece outside the core five who are introduced one arc after the other. Robin doesn't appear until the Whiskey Peak arc (season two of the anime) and doesn't even join the crew until much later, Chopper doesn't appear until a few stories later in the Drum Island arc (also season two), Franky doesn't show up until several stories later in the Water 7 arc (season four), and Brook doesn't show up until nearly a full decade later in the Thriller Bark arc (season six).
  • Ai Haibara in Detective Conan. She's one of the most prominent characters in the manga and anime and extremely relevant to the plot, but takes several chapters/episodes to appear. In the manga she's absent until the 18th volume, while in the anime she doesn't appear until the 129th episode, late into the fifth season.
  • While it's difficult to associate this trope with Pokémon due to the tendency to switch most of the cast every region, this can definitely be said of Team Rocket's Wobbuffet, which has been part of the show for over half of its length and is still present today. It didn't get introduced until the third season.
  • Yatterman's Doronbo Gang, the very first Expy of the Time Skeletons from Time Bokan. While the heroes Gan and Ai are very well known, the Doronbo are the Terrible Trio in Japan, having multiple Expies across not only the rest of the Time Bokan franchise, but across most Japanese media as well. It goes so deep that even the milestone celebration of Time Bokan in 2015 was made about their descendants in the far future.

    Comic Books 
  • Many characters iconic to the Spider-Man franchise don't actually appear until MUCH later in the comic's run than one might think. Mary Jane Watson doesn't have her first full appearance until issue 42, four years into the book. Venom doesn't make his first real appearance until issue 300 in 1988 over 25 years of publication later. Special mention goes to Gwen Stacy. Due to being referenced often in flashbacks and Adaptation Displacement, it may come as a shock to some fans to find out that not only was she Spidey's fourth love interest (behind Liz Allen, Betty Brandt, and finally the future ex-Mrs. Spider-Man, Mary Jane). Likewise, Peter's best friend and eventual enemy Harry Osborn made his debut in the same issue Gwen did.
  • Victor Mancha became an important part of the team's plot in Runaways, has significant links to the greater Marvel Universe, and now that the book is on hiatus he's the only member of the team to be in an ongoing (or at least an an on going where he isn't fighting to avoid being lampshaded C-List Fodder, anyways). He doesn't make his first appearance until Runaways' second volume. Likewise, Xavin, a character that gained the series some minor attention for being gender fluid, doesn't appear until a few issues after Victor's first appearance, and doesn't join the team or really have much effect on the plot, aside from having a character Put on a Bus for an arc, until Volume 3.
  • In Batman:
    • Robin doesn't make his first appearance until Detective Comics #38, 11 issues and a year of publication after Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27.
    • Of Batman's Rogues Gallery, many of his iconic villains such as The Joker, Two-Face, the Scarecrow, the Penguin, and Catwoman appeared only 2-3 years after his first appearance. On the other hand, The Riddler didn't appear until 1948 nearly a decade later, Mr. Freeze didn't appear until two decades later in 1959 (and even then, he went under the name Mr. Zero and didn't adopt his more iconic name until nearly a decade after that!), Poison Ivy showed up in 1966, Ra's Al-Ghul in 1971, Bane and Harley Quinn in 1992-93, Hush in 2003, and Professor Pyg a full 70 years later in 2009.
    • Alfred wasn't introduced until Batman #16, a full four years after the Dark Knight's debut.
  • Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus didn't join the X-Men until the series relaunch (twelve years after its initial launch). Other iconic X-Men like Kitty Pryde, Rogue, and Gambit joined even later. Iconic villains Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister did not appear until the mid-1980s, over two decades since the X-men made their debut. Heck, Apocalypse was introduced in the spin-off title X-Factor and didn't appear in the main book until 1992.
  • Many fans who read the old Marvel G.I. Joe comic will be surprised that Duke, usually the team leader or otherwise central character in most other media, doesn't show up until #23, nearly two years after the comic started. The reason for this is he wasn't introduced into the toyline until a year after its debut, making it fall under same trope.
  • Few fans realize that Captain America was not a founding member of The Avengers. He was found frozen in the Arctic and revived four issues after the comic had started. He's considered an honorary founder due to the fact that he was found so soon after the team formed, and to fill the void the Hulk left.
  • Of Superman's supporting cast only Lois Lane has been around since day one. Perry White and Jimmy Olsen were created for the radio series before making the shift to the comic in 1940 and 1941 respectively. Clark Kent's other iconic love interest, Lana Lang was created in 1950. His iconic Rogues Gallery also developed slowly with only Lex Luthor, the Prankster and Toyman appearing in the early 1940s and then a long gap until the arrival of Bizzaro and Braniac in 1958. Superman did have recurring supervillain foes in his early days but they have either had a Rogues-Gallery Transplant like the Ultra-Humanite (who became a JSA foe) or have fallen into complete obscurity like J. Wilbur Wolfingham (who was a big deal in the Golden Age but whose appearances since can be counted on one hand.)
  • Captain Haddock is one of the most iconic characters in Tintin but he doesn't appear until the ninth book. Professor Calculus doesn't appear until three books after that.
  • Michonne is one of the longest lasting survivors in The Walking Dead, but is absent for the first few arcs, not appearing until #19 (Book 4 in the trades).
  • Reggie Mantle from Archie Comics is considered the fifth major character however he didn't formally appear until one year after the series began.
  • Ask an Iron Man fan who Tony Stark's best friend is, and chances are they'll say James Rhodes, aka fellow armored hero War Machine. Ask them when he first showed up, and they may be surprised to learn he wasn't introduced until 1979 - over 15 years after Iron Man's debut. And it still took another 12 years after that before Rhodey officially donned the War Machine armor in 1992!
  • Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy are some of the most iconic members of the Teen Titans, but didn't join until its third incarnation in 1980, nor were they, with the sole exception of Beast Boy, even introduced until the 80's series began.
  • The only members of Captain America's supporting cast to be there from the very beginning were Bucky and the Red Skull. Peggy Carter is a fixture of Cap's WWII adventures, but didn't appear until 25 years later in 1966 after his debut in 1941 when she was retroactively added into that era; her niece and Cap's present day love interest Sharon Carter first appeared the same year. Cap's other field partner, the Falcon, didn't debut until 1969. Crossbones, one of his most common recurring enemies, didn't appear until 1989, nearly 50 years since Cap's first appearance.
  • Daredevil:
    • The Kingpin zigzags this: while he had been appearing in Spider-Man's title since the mid-60's, he didn't appear as Daredevil's arch-enemy until 1981; well over 15 years since the comic had been in publication.
    • Daredevil's other greatest enemy, Bullseye, plays this far straighter, not appearing at all until the mid-70's in Daredevil #131, well over a decade since Daredevil's debut. Likewise, Matt's ex-girlfriend-turned-assassin Elektra was absent until 1981.

    Comic Strip 
  • Dennis the Menace (UK) did not appear until almost thirteen years into the run of The Beano. Other mainstream strips such as Minnie The Minx and The Bash Street Kids appeared even later.
  • Thimble Theater ran for ten years before Popeye made his debut, but he was so popular he eventually completely eclipsed the rest of the cast (the only major Popeye character who appeared in Thimble Theater before he did is Olive Oyl, and even most of the minor characters came afterward; Olive's brother Castor was the early breakout character for the strip, but he, her parents Cole and Nana, and her original boyfriend Ham Gravy are now all but forgotten).
  • In Peanuts (which began in 1950), Peppermint Patty and her friend Marcie weren't introduced until 1966 and 1971 respectively, but soon became part of the main cast.
  • Dick Tracy debuted in 1931, but many of his most popular characters didn't debut until The Forties, an entire decade's worth of Iconic Sequel Characters. Nearly all of Tracy's most famous villains debuted then, including the three most publicized and frequently seen and referred to throughout the decades: Pruneface (1942), Flattop (1943), and Mumbles (1947). The Forties also marked the debut of some of the strip's best known supporting characters: Vitamin Flintheart (1944), Diet Smith (1945), and the Plenty family of hillbillies, B. O. Plenty (1945), his wife Gravel Gertie (1944) and their daughter Sparkle (born 1947). In terms of the regular cast of characters, Sam Catchem (1948) and Lizz (1955) have become so ubiquitous that anyone who began reading the strip from the late Fifites to the present might not even realize that they're later additions.
    • For characters that have become prominent under the current creative team of Mike Curtis and Joe Staton, there's the now reformed villain the Mole (1941) and frequent enemy B-B Eyes (1942), as well as Moon Maid (1963) and Honeymoon (born 1965).

    Film - Animated 
  • Puss in Boots was introduced in Shrek 2, and became popular enough to get his own movie.
  • Ellie, Crash, and Eddie were all introduced in the second Ice Age movie, and have been part of the herd ever since.
  • Outside a mention in the theme song, Piglet didn't appear in the Disney adaptation until the second film Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day. Allegedly, the reason for this was that he was not intended to be adapted at all, though fan requests eventually convinced Disney to think otherwise. Much like in the books (see below), Tigger makes his delayed debut in the same film.
  • Jessie and Bullseye first show up in the second part of the Toy Story trilogy, and are remembered as well as the original characters, with Jessie remaining a vital part of the cast in Toy Story 3.
  • Kovu, Kiara, and Zira pop up in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride but are pretty much as popular as some of the other characters. Kiara even appears in The Lion Guard.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • Yoda first appears in The Empire Strikes Back. For those who watch the series in order of events (i.e., prequels first), Yoda would seem to mysteriously drop out for the fourth installment!
    • To a lesser extent, from the same film, Lando Calrissian.
    • Big Bad Palpatine also doesn't appear in the first movie (although he is mentioned) and only briefly appears in Empire; his first full appearance (and Ian McDiarmid's first appearance) is in Return of the Jedi, and his name isn't mentioned until the prequel trilogy.
    • Boba Fett first shows up in Empire as well, though some fans consider him an Advertised Extra anyway.
  • In the Lethal Weapon series, Joe Pesci's Leo Getz character first appears as a federal witness in the second film, and manages to show up in the rest of the series' films.
  • The James Bond film series character "Q" was referred to as "Major Boothroyd" in the first film, and was not played by the instantly recognizable Desmond Llewellyn until the second film, From Russia with Love. Definitely in the books, where this character does not come up until the sixth book.
  • In the Police Academy films, Bobcat Goldthwait's "Zed" character shows up in the second film as the main villain (sort of), ends up joining the Academy in the next one, and making his final appearance in the fourth.
  • Cato and Dreyfus from The Pink Panther movies didn't appear until the second film.
  • Gollum for The Lord of the Rings is only briefly and partially visible in the first film. (The Hobbit inverts this instead, with Gollum only appearing in the first movie of the trilogy).
  • Simon Pegg's character Benji in the Mission: Impossible films seems to be becoming this. He doesn't appear until the third film, but he's been a central part of both of the movies that followed and has made more appearances in the franchise than any actor aside from Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames.
  • Many regular characters in The Fast and the Furious films aren't introduced until after the original installment. Both Roman Pierce and Tej Parker are introduced in 2 Fast 2 Furious and don't reappear until Fast Five. Han Lue doesn't show up until Tokyo Drift. Gisele Yashar makes her debut in Fast & Furious, and Luke Hobbs is absent until Fast Five.

  • Tigger wasn't introduced until the second Winnie-the-Pooh book and is now one of the most popular and recognizable characters from the franchise.
  • Thomas The Tank Engine didn't appear until the second book of The Railway Series. James, Percy and Toby also appeared in later books.
  • Thalia Grace of Percy Jackson and the Olympians does not appear until the very end of The Sea of Monsters and doesn't do anything until The Titan's Curse, but became extremely popular with the fanbase. Her connection read: being his sister with one of the primary characters of the Sequel Series The Heroes of Olympus solidified her importance.
    • Similarly, Nico di Angelo wasn't introduced until The Titan's Curse, where from then on he became a prominent supporting character and popular with the fans. His role also becomes more emphasized in The Heroes of Olympus.
  • Several popular characters in the Harry Potter series did not show up until well after the first novel. Some include:
    • Book 2: Lucius Malfoy, Arthur Weasley, Dobby, Tom Riddle.
    • Book 3: Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Cedric Diggory, Peter Pettigrew, the Dementors in general, Cho Chang.
    • Book 4: Mad-Eye Moody, Barty Crouch, Jr., Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour, Bellatrix Lestrange (although she isn't named till the next book).
    • Book 5: Luna Lovegood, Dolores Umbridge, Nymphadora Tonks, Grawp.
    • Book 6: Horace Slughorn.
  • For the Discworld series:
    • Though it's certainly justified by the eventual end of the Klingon Promotion present in early books, it wasn't until Moving Pictures that Unseen University actually had any of its more iconic wizards, including Archchancellor Ridcully, the Dean, the Bursar, Ponder Stibbons...
    • The first City Watch book, Guards! Guards!, had only four significant named characters in the Watchnote . Many iconic members such as Angua, Detritus and Cheery weren't introduced until later installments.
  • Clarice Starling first appeared in The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris's second book featuring Hannibal Lecter.
  • Finnick Odair is one of the most popular characters from The Hunger Games. He doesn't show up until "Catching Fire", the second book.
  • The Honorverse is prone to this, given how long it's been running. Some of its most iconic and beloved characters don't appear until much later than an incoming fan might expect.note 
    • Michelle Henke, Honor Harrington's best friend, isn't introduced until The Short Victorious War, which is book three — yes, two whole books go by in which Honor's best friend isn't even mentioned.
    • Everyone's favourite Havenite tac-witch, Shannon Foraker, isn't introduced until Flag in Exile, which is book five.
    • Eloise Pritchart, series anchor and beloved Havenite heroine, doesn't debut until book six, Honor Among Enemies, and doesn't become a major player until Echoes of Honor, which is book eight.
    • Lester Tourville, Havenite admiral who is capable of beating the title character herself in head-to-head combat, isn't introduced until In Enemy Hands, which is book seven.
    • Victor Cachat, superspy extraordinaire, isn't introduced until the third short-story anthology, Changer of Worlds (published between Ashes of Victory and War of Honor, books nine and ten).

    Live Action TV 
  • Frank, a main character from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is introduced in the second season.
  • Mike Nelson, a well known Mystery Science Theater 3000 host, was part of the writing team early on but didn't join the main cast until midway through season 5. Which makes it odd to see "Mike" show up in bit parts in earlier seasons as Morrisey, the Amazing Colossal Man, and many others.
  • Amy and Bernadette were introduced only in Season 4 of The Big Bang Theory, and have since become part of the core cast.
  • Elmo first appears in 1984, almost 20 years after the premier of Sesame Street.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Even though he's now considered to be one of the most iconic villains of the series, The Master didn't appear in until Season 8 during Jon Pertwee's tenure as The Doctor.
    • Likewise with most of the monsters. The only recurring monsters from the first three seasons are the Daleks. The Cybermen are introduced in William Hartnell's last story, and in the Troughton era we get the Ice Warriors and the Great Intelligence. The Autons and Silurians make their first appearance in Season 7, the Sontarans in Season 11, Davros in Season 12, the Zygons in Season 13, and of course the Slitheen, Weeping Angels and Ood don't appear until the new series.
    • Ask anyone unfamiliar with the show what Dr. Who looks like and they'll probably tell you he is tall with curly brown hair and a really long scarf. Tom Baker's Doctor did not show up for real until Season 12, a whopping eleven years after the show started, and promptly eclipsed all of his predecessors and all of his successors until the revival for sheer recognizability.
  • Castiel is so popular in Supernatural fandom that many new viewers are surprised he doesn't appear until the beginning of the fourth season.
    • Crowley is easily the most recognizable antagonist in the series, but doesn't show up until halfway through season five.
  • In Person of Interest Root only appears at the end of the first season, played by Amy Acker, Bear DaHond debuts in the next episode and Sameen Shaw is introduced near the end of Season 2, making some first season episodes rather strange to watch.
  • It takes until the beginning of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's second season for Spike to appear, and he doesn't join the main cast until several episodes into the fourth season (meaning he's only credited as such for the latter half of the series). Regardless, he's frequently considered to be one of the more iconic figures of the show, thanks in part to his debut being seen as the point where the show started Growing the Beard.
  • In Angel of the core cast for the majority of the show's run only Angel himself and Cordelia were there from the very beginning, while both Wesley and Gunn joined the team later on in the show's first season. Both Lorne and Fred didn't appear until season two. In Lorne's case, he appeared as early as the premiere, but similar to Spike wasn't promoted to the main cast until halfway through season four, even though he was in nearly every episode since his debut. Fred meanwhile had to wait until the final four episodes of the season before her introduction.
  • From Glee, Blaine and Sam were both introduced in Season 2; Sam was the Sixth Ranger at the start of the season, and Blaine appeared a couple episodes later as a love interest for Kurt before integrating with the rest of New Directions in later seasons. Due to Sam and Blaine's longevity and popularity with fans (none of the other new kids caught on quite as much), both are given a sort of "Honorary Original" status.
  • Alexis Carrington, the scheming Rich Bitch from Dynasty, didn't appear until the second season.
  • Chloe O'Brien is one of the best known characters from 24; serving as Jack's primary source of information who always has his back. She doesn't appear until season three and doesn't even get promoted to the main cast until season five.
    • Jack's boss Bill Buchanan doesn't show up until halfway through the fourth season.
    • Charles Logan, arguably the show's most iconic villain, is likewise introduced in the same season in the episode immediately after Bill's introduction.
  • Even most non-fans of the franchise will recognize Pavel Chekov from Star Trek as one of the core seven characters from the original show. Several of them may be more surprised to learn he wasn't added to the show until season 2.
  • Worf and General Martok are iconic parts of the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine despite not showing up until halfway through the show.
  • Seven of Nine is probably the most well known Voyager character outside the fandom, for reasons. She was first introduced in the season 4 premiere.
  • Beaker on The Muppet Show didn't appear until season 2. Rizzo the Rat, as performed by Steve Whitmire, wasn't featured on the show until season 5. And to a lesser extent Pepe the Prawn didn't join the Muppet cast until Muppets Tonight.
  • Frasier Crane is one of the best known characters from Cheers, thanks in no small part to his own series that spun off from it, but doesn't appear until the third season.
  • Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad is getting his own spinoff, but didn't appear until the middle of season 2.
    • Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmntraut are two of the show's most iconic characters and didn't appear until the very end of season 2.
  • Ben and Desmond of Lost.
  • Most of Law & Order's longest running and most iconic characters weren't introduced until after the first season. Most notably, Lennie Briscoe, Anita Vanburen, Jack McCoy and Ed Green weren't introduced until season 3, season 4, season 5 and season 10 respectively.
  • Most of True Blood's main characters have been around since the first season. However, werewolf Alcide didn't appear until the third. Despite such a late appearance, he was made a main character and eventually became a long-term love interest for Sookie.
  • In Red Dwarf, Kryten is as much an iconic character of the series as Lister, Rimmer, and Cat, but doesn't appear until the second series - and even then, it's only in one episode, and not even by his regular actor. It isn't until the third series where he becomes a regular character and is played by Robert Llewellyn.
  • Captain Sheridan, the hero of Babylon 5 and main protagonist of the whole series' Myth Arc, doesn't appear or become the commander of the titular station until the second season.
  • The Once Upon a Time version of Captain Hook doesn't show up until early on in the second season.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Maggie, Hershel, and Beth first appeared in the second episode of season 2.
    • Michonne makes a cameo in the second season finale before becoming a main character in season 3.
  • The Borg are one of Star Trek's most iconic villains, but they never appeared till "Q Who", the 16th episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Seinfeld is remembered for some truly iconic supporting characters but many of them didn't show up until late in the series run. George's father Frank Costanza didn't show up until the very end of Season 4 (and even then was played by a different actor than Jerry Stiller so arguably didn't really show up until the start Season 5.) Others debuted even later; Elaine's on again off again boyfriend David Puddy only first appeared towards the end of Season 6.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 would be unthinkable today without Warmaster Horus, the Primarchs, the Horus Heresy and the Chaos Marine legions fighting their Long War against the Imperium of Man. Yet these characters, this event, and the forces of Chaos in general, were nowhere in evidence in the original 1986 Rogue Trader book - being introduced a couple of years after its release in the Realm of Chaos supplements (1988 and 1990).
    • Likewise, of all the iconic special characters that are synonymous with 40k today - Marneus Calgar, Abaddon, Kharn the Betrayer, Ahriman, Eldrad Ulthran, Mephiston and dozens more. - the only three that pre-date the 1993 2nd edition of the game are Commissar Yarrick and Ghazghkull Thraka (who were introduced very late in 1st edition, setting the stage for the explosion of characters in 2nd edition), and Pedro Kantor of the Crimson Fists - the only character from the original Rogue Trader book still in the game today.
  • The original Warhammer, like its spin-off 40k, acquired most of its iconic characters in the mid 90s (during its 4th and 5th editions between 1992 and 2000, the game having first arrived in 1983). Starting with Tyrion and Teclis for the High Elves every army in the game acquired its defining heroes during this period, including Malekith the Witch King, Nagash, Tomb King Settra, Archaon, Thorgrim Grudgebearer, Orion and Ariel and the rest. Only a small handful of the characters who existed between 1983 and 1992 are still prominent in the game, pretty much just Josef Bugman, Grom the Paunch, Golgfag Maneater, Emperor Karl Franz and Lord Mazdamundi.
  • In BattleTech, the enormously popular Clan Humongous Mechas - most notably the Chicken Walker "Timber Wolf / Mad Cat" - were nowhere to be seen in the original publications. The Clans didn't exist until 1990's Technical Readout 3050, published six years after the very first sourcebook. The "Mad Cat" eclipsed the earlier Series Mascots like the "Atlas", "Marauder", and "Battlemaster" to become the face of the franchise.

    Video Games 
  • The King of Fighters '95 introduced Iori Yagami, The Rival to the game's protagonist, Kyo. His popularity, which was spurred by his appearance and personality, managed to make him so popular that he not only kept being used as an icon for the series in later iterations, but also became a major breakout character.
    • In most minds, the ever-popular Ikari Warriors team consists primarily of Ralf, Clark and Leona. Leona was not added to the series until '96, replacing her commander Heidern.
  • In another SNK series, Genjuro Kibagami debuts in Samurai Shodown 2 as a more directly involved rival to Haohmaru compared to historically-inspired rival Ukyo Tachibana, since then they have been the series' traditional fighting game Shotoclone-rivals.
  • Touhou has incredible amounts of this, particularly if one ignores the fact that the sixth game was essentially a reboot. Marisa, who would eventually become the secondary protagonist of the games alongside Reimu, was first introduced in the second game. Yukari, probably the single most important character to the backstory, is first introduced in the seventh game. Some of the most important characters to the current status come from the tenth.
  • From Crash Bandicoot games, the series mainstay villains Tiny Tiger and N. Gin are introduced in the second game, while the other ones Dingodile, N. Tropy, & Bigger Bad Uka Uka are introduced in the third one.
    • On the other side, Crash's little sister, Coco, is introduced the second game, and their third bandicoot member, Crunch, was introduced in the the forth platformer game.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog games, Sonic and Dr. Eggman were the only characters introduced in the first game. Sonic's most well-known friends Tails, Knuckles and Amy Rose were introduced respectively in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog CD. The lattermost game also introduced recurring villain Metal Sonic.
    • Shadow didn't appear much later till Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast about 2 gens later to the debut of the others above, but despite that, he is just as iconic. What makes it worse is that in the Mega Collection and Gems Collection for the PS2/Xbox, the compilations specifically cover the Genesis/Saturn only, yet you'll still see Shadow renders and artwork everywhere, when Shadow was no where to be seen on any pre-Dreamcast game. Rouge is this to a lesser extent.
  • In Final Fantasy, the three contenders for Series Mascot are the Black Mage, the Chocobo, and the Moogle. The first title had no Chocobos or Moogles; Chocobos debuted in Final Fantasy II and Moogles in Final Fantasy III.
  • Pyramid Head was introduced in the second Silent Hill game and has since become a iconic part of the series, appearing in both Silent Hill movies.
  • Doctor Nefarious in Ratchet & Clank came about in the third game, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, yet he's since become the series' most recognizable villain, even being made playable in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One along with the title duo and series mainstay Captain Qwark.
  • Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield first appeared in Resident Evil 2 and went on to become key characters in the series, with many installments revolving around them.
  • Spyro the Dragon
  • Terence wasn't one of the original five birds (seven, if you count the Blues as separate characters) in Angry Birds, but he's come to be very popular among the fans.
  • Street Fighter
    • Chun-Li, Guile, Zangief, Vega, and M. Bison? They weren't introduced until Street Fighter II. Due to Sequel Displacement, the entire SFII cast is better known than the non-holdovers from the first game. And Cammy didn't join until the re-release.
    • Though Akuma was present at the tail end of Street Fighter II's lifespan, he was a secret-only character until Alpha 2.
    • Other examples: Sakura and Dan in "Alpha', Alex, Ibuki, Yun, and Dudley in "III", and C. Viper, Juri, and Abel in "IV"
  • Fatal Fury waited until its second game to introduce the female lead, Mai Shiranui (along with Kim Kaphwan).
  • Whether you instinctively add the Super to the Super Mario Bros. franchise or not, it should always be remembered that there was a regular Mario Bros. first that completely lacked Peach and Bowser. You can make the same argument for Luigi in Donkey Kong, but there were still many later games without him.
    • Wario managed to replace Mario as protagonist in the third Super Mario Land game and ended up turning it into the Wario Land series. Impressive, considering he didn't even appear until the second one.
    • Yoshi has become such a recognizable character in the Mario series that it's easy to forget he didn't show up until Super Mario World.
    • Rosalina has become a major series character, but she only debuted in Super Mario Galaxy.
    • Bowser Jr. was not introduced until Super Mario Sunshine.
    • As for classic enemy types, Shy Guys and Bob-ombs didn't appear until Super Mario Bros. 2, and weren't originally designed for the Mario series at all. Boos, Dry Bones and Thwomps didn't show up until 3, and World was the first game to propose the very concept of the Magikoopa, let alone Kamek's debut in Yoshi's Island.
  • Ebisumaru didn't appear in the Ganbare Goemon series until the second game, let alone Goemon's other allies.
  • Sludge Vohaul didn't show up until the second game in the Space Quest series (and indeed was in only 2 out of the 6 official games overall), yet he's treated as Roger Wilco's major iconic arch-nemesis by the fans.
  • While several of the more notable characters of the Mass Effect series debut in the first game, Mass Effect 2 brings us a number of important ones as well. Perhaps the biggest are the Illusive Man, EDI, Miranda, Mordin, and Thane.
  • Rush and Proto Man didn't appear in the Mega Man series until Mega Man 3. Bass didn't come into existence until Mega Man 7.
  • Mocchis are one of the "main 6" monster breeds of Monster Rancher, and are often one of the species shown at the forefront in the series. This is possibly due to Mocchi's involvement as the mascot of the anime series. However, Mocchis didn't appear until Monster Rancher 2.
  • World of Warcraft originally released with only nine character classes. Death Knights were added with the second expansion Wrath of the Lich King and Monks joined in with the fourth expansion Mists of Pandaria.
  • Tekken certainly does this. Lei (introduced in Tekken 2), Jin, Xiaoyu, Hwoarang, Eddy, Julia, and Bryan (introduced in Tekken 3), Steve, Marduk, and Christie (introduced in Tekken 4), Asuka, Feng, and Raven (introduced in 5), Lili and Dragunov (introduced in DR), and Leo, Bob, Lars and Alisa (introduced in 6/BR) get just as much coverage as fan favourites from the first game (like Kazuya, King, Paul etc).
  • In the Soul Series, Nightmare debuted in the second game, Soul Calibur, and became the main villain of the franchise, appearing on all following games and even becoming the mascot for Project Soul.
    • And of course, Ivy's become to the franchise what Chun-Li is to Street Fighter.
    • Maxi wasn't the franchise's original nunchaku fighter. That was Li Long. He never came back after the original game except as a bonus character in Soul Calibur III.
    • Astaroth wasn't the original big guy. Rock was.
    • Yoshimitsu didn't arrive until the second game either (though his descendant has been in his series from the beginning)
    • Characters such as Raphael (introduced in II) and Tira (introduced in III) fit the trope to a lesser extent, as they become quite relevant to the series' story in later installments.
  • Raziel in the Legacy of Kain series. Introduced in the second game, Soul Reaver, he quickly became a central character in the games, with his conflict with Kain driving most of the franchise's plot.
  • The Mortal Kombat series had many of these through its history. Kitana might be one of the most notable, as she ended up appearing in the first film (based on the first game's events), even though she debuted in II.note  Plus you've got Jax, Mileena, Baraka, and Kung Lao. There's also Quan Chi and Shinnok from 4 onwards. Kenshi and Frost had to wait until Deadly Alliance.
  • Castlevania has Alucard as one of its most popular and recognizable characters. Yet, he debuted in Dracula's Curse, and as a side character. It was only in Symphony of the Night that he became a main character.
    • Legion, the mass of human bodies covering a laser-emitting core, has been one of the most frequently recurring bosses in the series, having appeared in no fewer than six installments. Its first appearance was in Symphony of the Night, more than a decade after the franchise started.
    • Unlike most of the Universal/Hammer recurring monsters, there wasn't a single werewolf in the series until Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
  • While Marco and Tarma were both present in the Metal Slug series from the very beginning, the series' resident Action Girls Fio and Eri wouldn't appear until the second title in the series.
  • Globox isn't introduced until the second game of the Rayman series.
  • While future gens are hit and miss depending on the person, Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver are often cited interchangeably with the original Pokemon.
    • Also, Cynthia. Highly popular character who appeared first in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and went on to appear in every game in the main series until Gen VI.
    • Lucario has become one of the faces of the franchise alongside original-generation characters, but he too debuted in Diamond and Pearl.
  • The Devil May Cry series has Vergil as an possible inversion of the trope: an Iconic Prequel Character. Though he technically debuted in the first game as Nelo Angelo, his incarnation from the third game is his most famous, appearing in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and serving as the basis for his appearance in the reboot, in which he is an important character.
  • Many staples of The Legend of Zelda series weren't introduced until Ocarina of Time, twelve years after the first game:
    • Ganondorf, the human form of Ganon
    • The iconic blue winged hilt shape of the Master Sword
    • The nature of the Triforce, splitting into three parts and finding bearers
    • Most of the non-Hylian races, including the Gorons, Gerudo, Sheikah, and Deku and Zora as sapient cultures.
  • Of the multitude of Original Generation characters to populate the Kingdom Hearts series, only four appeared in the first game, so the majority of the cast is this. Of particular note:
  • Isabelle from the Animal Crossing series can be considered the most recognizable character of the series despite only being introduced in the fourth game, New Leaf. She's had several appearances in other games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros., an honor that not even series veterans like Tom Nook, Mr.Resetti and K.K Slider can claim.
  • Ezio Auditore of Assassin's Creed is the most famous and popular assassin of the franchise as evidenced by him appearing in three games, three short movies, and even making a cameo as a guest fighter in SoulCalibur V despite making his debut in the second game. On top of that, the most common attire he's represented with is his armor of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the third game of the franchise.
  • Several major Dead or Alive characters were absent until later installments. Ayane and Bass had to wait to appear until the Playstation 1 port of the original. Hayate (although in his Ein identity; his true identity was absent until 3), Helena, and Leon were all introduced in Part 2. Hitomi, Christie, and Brad Wong made their debut in Part 3. Lisa was absent until spinoff game Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Kokoro, Eliott and Alpha-152 didn't arrive until Part 4, and most recently Mila and Rig didn't show up until Part 5.
  • The Arbiter in Halo is the most iconic alien in the Covenant and Master Chief's later ally, but he doesn't appear until Halo 2. The Entire Brute Race also, despite being a well known species, only deputs in the second game.
  • Murray, the talking skull, is one of the most iconic, and popular, characters from the Monkey Island series. He first showed up in the third game, The Curse of Monkey Island.
  • Neptunia:

    Web Original 
  • While the Game Grumps network doesn't divide their work into seasons, just about every member of the main cast not named Jon or Arin is one of these, as the network was just Jon and Arin doing Game Grumps for a year. Danny and Ross were the first of these, as Danny took over for Jon on Game Grumps while doing Steam Train with Ross, with (in order) Barry, Suzy, Kevin and Brian eventually joining in as well.
  • Tony appears in the second Don't Hug Me I'm Scared video however is just as iconic as Sketchbook from the first. The other villains are popular in their own right however Tony and Sketchbook are the most iconic characters in the series.

    Western Animation 
  • Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck didn't appear until almost a decade into the Looney Tunes series run. Several other main stars were also Breakout Characters from later shorts.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Toph Bei Fong is as much of a member of the core cast as Aang, Sokka, and Katara, but she doesn't appear until the second season.
    • Azula serves as the dominant antagonistic force for the Gaang during the series, but only has two short cameos in the first season and does not become prominent in the series until Season 2.
  • The Legend of Korra
    • Varrick became a wildly popular character who was integral to the plot of the final season, but didn't debut until Book Two.
    • On a much grander scale, Avatar Wan, Raava, and Vaatu are all the key players of the origins of the entire franchise, but don't appear until the middle of Book Two (though the origin story was originally meant to be told in Book Two of Avatar.
  • Sgt. Hatred from The Venture Bros. doesn't appear until the end of season 2, and doesn't receive much characterization until season 3. Come seasons 4 and 5, he becomes the new Venture family bodyguard and is a main character present in almost every episode.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, one of the most memorable characters was Agent Bishop, a third party character opposed to both the Turtles and the Shredder. However, he doesn't debut until the third season of the show. Karai is also a major character for most of the series but doesn't debut until the second season.
  • While many The Simpsons characters debuted in the first season, other fan favorites like Ralph Wiggum, Duffman, Groundskeeper Willie, Fat Tony, Cletus, Comic Book Guy, Dr. Hibbert, as well as many others didn't appear until the second season on. Ralph's characterization wasn't set in stone until season four and many of them were examples of Characterization Marches On.
  • Jem:
    • The beginning of season 2 introduced three new characters: Stormer's brother Craig, a new Misfit named Jetta, and and a new Hologram named Raya. While Raya gets ignored by fans, Craig and especially Jetta are staples. The 2015 IDW reboot comic even introduced Jetta as a founding member and has Craig appear in the first arc.
    • The Stingers appear in the final season (season 3), which also had the fewest episodes, yet are popular. They didn't even get toys. Riot is both known for being very attractive, being the only male singer, and being Jem's second love interest.
  • Adventure Time
  • Pebbles and Bam-Bam are mainstays on The Flintstones and its various spinoffs, but the former wasn't born until Season 3 of the original series and the latter didn't show up until Season 4.