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So a series doesn't quite manage to make the jump into other countries. It happens. Sometimes this work may cross over with another series, and characters from it may appear in something else, typically in a non-starring role. Official crossovers, extended company in-jokes, whatever, Product B has characters and whatnot from Product A...
...and then, for whatever reason, Product B manages to come out in a new market before Product A does. Meaning that the characters of Product A get their debut... in a product that isn't theirs at all. This causes people to assume that an Easter Egg character from Product B got their own spinoff in the form of Product A.
That's how Marth debuted in Super Smash Bros. (in the West, anyway). A fairly peculiar subtrope of No Export for You that applies often to video games but can happen in any medium where a product is blocked or delayed at length from reaching other countries and then gets referenced in another work. Distinct from Sequel First in that this often involves characters debuting in crossover works that are often nothing like their "core" franchises or are at best tangentially connected. This happens to Japanese products fairly often as companies, especially fan-oriented ones, like to have cameos and such as a nod to their fans. Note that the "source" products for the characters may eventually come out in other countries, but the fact remains that they debuted in other markets in other, often decidedly odd ways. It's also worth noting that if this happens multiple times to a single franchise, it can agitate the fans, who may begin to (understandably) wonder why Product A doesn't just come out in the first place instead of appearing minorly in Products B, C, D, and so on. Of course, if Product A comes out because of its appearances in Products B, C, etc..., that's one explanation right there.
Sometimes an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, since this can drum up interest in the game or series in question, causing it to be localized. The Trope Namer is one of these positive examples.
See also Sequel First, Adaptation First. May lead to Remade for the Export.
Examples (sorted by the original source material):
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The Trope Namer and current world record holder of this trope is, of course, Marth, the star of the original Fire Emblem game who made his (and the series as a whole) Western debut in Super Smash Bros. Melee, over a decade after the first Fire Emblem game was released in Japan. His presence and popularity motivated Nintendo to release Fire Emblem games in the West at last. However, since that series uses mostly NonLinearSequels, until 2009 Marth would not appear in any of his own games, despite appearing in Super Smash Brothers twice. In 2009, the Nintendo DS remake of his game (Shadow Dragon) at last reached Western shores. This was around eight years after the various Western releases of Melee and almost nineteen years after his initial Famicom debut in Japan. Because of how long it took to localize the game, Marth's Japanese voice is retained in the international versions of Melee and Brawl, instead of being given an English dub.
In comparison, Roy actually did debut in Melee — his own game hadn't come out yet in Japan when the game was released, and his inclusion was meant to promote the upcoming game. His game never even made it to the US, which instead got the prequel starring his father Eliwood, in which Roy only makes a cameo in the epilogue as a child. For Europe and Australia, however, this is a straight example, as Melee was delayed in those regions and came out after Roy's game.
As newer Fire Emblem games have been released internationally, later Fire Emblem characters in Super Smash Bros. (Ike in Brawl, Robin and Lucina in 3DS/Wii U) have avoided this altogether.
Fire Emblem Characters Debuting Internationally Outside Their Own Games
With many past characters appearing in Fire Emblem Awakening as DLC, this trope was inevitable for the international releases. For every game not released overseas, ten more characters made their international debuts this way.note 4 from Mystery of the Emblem counting Emperor Hardin and 3 from the "Others" set, for a total of 53. This count includes the characters from FE6 appearing in the FE7 epilogue, as the epilogue was removed from European and Australian copies of FE7.
Ayumi Tachibana, a character of the Japan-only Famicom Detective Club games, appeared as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Donbe and Hikari have a fairly long lineage in Japanese releases and cameos, but have only been seen outside Japan twice: first as a cameo in Kirby's Dream Land 3 and then as a trophy in Melee. Bonus SSB credit for the fact that they originated in the Japanese adventure game Famicom Mukashibanashi: Shin Onigashima, a title most often recognized by Western audiences as "that awesome speed metal song in Brawl".
Devil World is the only game by Shigeru Miyamoto that has been released in Europe but not in North America. Despite that fact, Tamagon has made cameos in three games available worldwide - Tetris DS, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Art Style: PiCOPiCT (known as PiCTOBiTS in North America). Brawl also had the Devil as an assist trophy; Tamagon was a trophy in Melee but was removed from the international release (along with a few others).
Kuru Kuru Kururin is a Nintendo series that focuses on a duck-like character who must pilot a spinning stick-shaped vehicle through mazes. Because the series never made it stateside, Kururin's vehicle appearing as an assist trophy in Brawl led to a lot of confusion from American gamers.
A rather notorious example in SSB is Lucas in Brawl. Fans have been hollering for a MOTHER 3 release ever since it came out in Japan and Nintendo pointedly ignored them... and then Lucas was put into Brawl, and some of his Subspace Emissary missions were spoilers for his game. This remains a sore spot with a lot of Nintendo fans.
Ness from EarthBound has been in all three Smash Bros. games before his own game got released in Europe's Virtual Console.
Shoot Em Up
Averted with assist trophy Saki Amamiya. His game Sin and Punishment was made available to Americans on the Virtual Console mere months before Brawl's release, more than seven years after its initial Japanese release.
Though previously released for the Nintendo 64 in Japan, Melee's trophy list included characters from Doshin The Giant (Doshin and Jashin), Cubivore (Alpha), and Animal Crossing (Tom Nook, Mr. Resetti and K.K. Slider/Totakeke), all of which had the words "Future release" in their descriptions in the Western releases of Melee. While Animal Crossing gained worldwide availability (eventually, after two years of waiting in Europe), Cubivore was released in the US only, while Doshin the Giant only came out in the PAL reigons. No Export for You, indeed.
Yet another Smash example, though it's so strange and unexpected that it's almost funny. A song from the game Shaberu! DS Cooking Navi (which, as the name implies, is a talking cookbook; the song contains voice clips from the cookbook) appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl a few months before the sequel was localized.
One of the alternate character skins becomes this in the Japanese version of Prince of Persia (2008). After beating the game, you unlock an alternate skin for the Prince's sidekick, Elika, which makes her look like Jade from Beyond Good & Evil. But that game was never released in Japan. (The other cameo skins—Altair for the Prince, and characters from the previous Prince of Persia trilogy on the previous generation of systems—do feature games released in Japan.)
Non-Smash Bros. Nintendo example. Samurai Warriors 3 features "Murasamame Castle Mode" accompanied by none other than Takamaru from the Famicom Disk System game Nazo no Murasamejō (Mysterious Castle of Murasame), who is appearing as a Guest Fighter. If a sticker and a song count as a debut, he technically debuted in Smash Bros. too. Even earlier, a Nazo no Murasamejo disk made a cameo appearance in Pikmin 2.
Nazo No Murasamejo was also the basis for the "Takamaru's Ninja Castle" game in Nintendo Land.
Super Godzilla featured several monsters from movies that had yet to be released outside of Japan such as Battra and Mecha King Ghidorah. However, the American version did replace the 90's Mechagodzilla with the 70's one.
This could've easily been called "Meryl Silverburgh debuted in Metal Gear Solid". Originally a character from Hideo Kojima's previous Adventure GamePolicenauts, the game was officially slated for an North American release at one point, but apparently cancelled when Konami couldn't properly lip-sync the English dialogue with the game's FMV cutscenes. The bottom line of this is that the Shout-Out in the scene where Snake tells her his real name is lost (it's the same name as her best friend in Policenauts, who is otherwise the complete opposite of Snake).
To a lesser extent, many of the tropes that Metal Gear Solid is credited for creating were actually featured in some form or another in the original MSX2 games, especially in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Remember the part where you have to look at the back of the game's packaging to obtain Meryl's frequency? Or where you had to follow her to the women's bathroom? Or where Snake's mysterious informant tells him to watch out for mines? Metal Gear 2 did all of that first.
Alfred, the main character in Garou Densetsu: Dominated Mind, made an earlier appearance as a hidden end-boss in Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. Since Dominated Mind was never released outside Japan, most overseas players know him simply for being the final boss in Real Bout 2 and assume that he was a character made up for that game.
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core featured an alternate version of Sol Badguy called Order Sol. Except his first appearence in the series as a playable character (Outside of cameos in gallery art) was Guilty Gear XX Slash, which was Japan-only. A.B.A, however, averts this as she first appeared in Isuka, which did get an overseas release.
The Sega game Rent-a-Hero has never been released outside Japan (and even lacks a Fan Translation), but its title character was unlockable in the internationally released Fighters Megamix.
The King of Fighters XI added Gai Tendo and Silber to the KOF cast, but they originated in Buriki One: World Grapple Tournament '99, which was exclusive to Japanese arcades.
In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, we have Nova's DLCcostume◊. The preview of this costume took place on November 16, 2011. Both Marvel and Capcom executives weren't allowed to tell the public were it originated from, as it was from a new project that Marvel wanted to keep under wraps at the time. On February 21, 2012, the costume was finally made downloadable to the public, but there was still no word about its origin. Then, on March 2, 2012, Marvel gives us a preview of Sam Alexander, the new Nova as seen in Ultimate Spider-Man (which later aired on April 1, 2012). Sam's costume is the DLC costume of Nova in UMvC3.
Super Robot Spirits barely sold 10,000 units in Japan and it never got exported, so a lot of Super Robot Wars fans never knew that Levi Torah and her unit Judecca came from this game, rather than debuting in Alpha.
Though there were English translations of his mangas, Gon was incredibly obscure outside Japan, which meant that his appearance in Tekken 3 led people to believe he'd been invented for the game.
Labrys was on a drama CD for Persona 3. These were not released outside of Japan, so many Western gamers thought she debuted in Persona 4 Arena
In 3D Dot Game Heroes, the loading screens are parodies of the artwork to various classic games in the "3D pixel" style of DGH. However, many of the games were never released outside of Japan are currently being having their remade forms released. It's surprisingly hard to be nostalgic for something that isn't due out until later this year. Compounding the problem is that these are (with a few exceptions) parodies of the Japanese artwork which is many cases is completely different from the artwork in other territories. Sure, you got Tetris, but not with the box art being parodied.
Many fans of Sonic the Hedgehog widely believe that certain details about the characters, such as Tails' Gadgeteer Genius skills and Eggman's goofiness (and his nickname being Eggman) first appeared in Sonic Adventure. In reality, this was actually a case of All There in the Manual mixed with No Export for You, as the Japanese manuals and supplemental material revealed these facts from the start. There were hints in-game, however, such as Tails' mechanical know-how in Sonic Triple Trouble or Tails Adventure (he has a personal submarine, for one thing). Even more notably, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tails fixed Sonic's plane, the Tornado, by affixing a jet beneath it when it was shot down at the start of Wing Fortress Zone, and in such a short amount of time as to be ready to pick Sonic up at the end of the stage no more than ten minutes later.
These same fans also believe that that Sonic Adventure was the first Sonic game that takes place on Earth. Sonic 1's Japanese backstory never mentions Mobius.
Sonic Adventure wasn't even the first game in English-speaking markets to use the name "Eggman". It appears on the side of the ship in Wing Fortress Zone in Sonic 2.
Mighty the Armadillo, a Sonic-like character in Knuckles Chaotix, made his first actual appearance in SegaSonic the Hedgehog, whose Japan-only release predates even Sonic 3, let alone Chaotix. Mighty was allegedly based on one of the original designs for Sonic.
As does Ray The Flying Squirrel, who appeared in some of the Sonic Archie Comics in the US, but only appeared in the Japan only Sega Sonic game.
Maria Renard debuted in Rondo of Blood as a 12-year old vampire slayer, and returns as a 17 year old adult in Symphony of the Night. All cameos of Maria use her as a 12 year old since that's how she debuted first. Many western fans are confused why they don't show her as an adult, since that's the first time they saw her.
Sayo, heroine of Kiki Kai Kai (later known to Western gamers as Pocky when the series was released Sequel First), first appeared outside Japan as the World 6 boss in the NES version of Rainbow Islands.
The characters from Jewelry Master Twinkle, a Falling BlocksPuzzle Game with Dating Sim elements that somehow got an international release, actually come from an older Japan-only Mahjong game called Taikyoku Mahjong: Net de Ron!.
Toro Inoue, mascot of SCE Japan, is the star of the Doko Demo Issho series and the spinoff Mainichi Issho. None of these games made it out of Japan, and even his cameos in other games tended not to be exported. His first international appearance in a video game was as a playable character in the PlayStation 3 version of Street Fighter X Tekken, along with his neighbor Kuro, followed by his appearance in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
In a cross media example, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva introduced some new characters from the not-yet-released-outside-of-Japan prequel trilogy to the western world. (Mainly in Europe - in the US the movie was delayed just long enough for the first game to be released first.)
Barbara the Bat is quite an odd case. While her first game, Daigasso! Band Brothers, debuted in Japan, she only made her first appearance overseas in Master of Illusion, which is a completely different game. Later, she was brought back as an unlockable Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with a callback to Band Brothers to boot. To add insult to injury, there were scrapped plans to bring Band Brothers overseas under the title Jam with the Band. Band Brothers DX wasn't released in Europe until May 2010.
Some of the cast of the first and second games finally appeared in the US... in the Gust game Ar tonelico, in a bonus level of the dream states for the heroines. This happened nearly ten years after the debut of the first Atelier game. The characters finally made their solo debut in the Western market in manga form, but the Atelier games that Ar Tonelico referenced still aren't out in the States.
X Edge (pronounced "Cross Edge") was released by NIS America in late May 2009. It's the full-on console debut for Marie, the first Atelier heroine, in a SSB-style crossover game that wasn't produced by, and isn't distributed by, her own home company.
With Trinity Universe, it's happening again, with Violet Platane of Atelier ViorateViolet making her American debut in that game. Potentially rabid gamers wielding carrots have, in fact, been spotted outside the NISA offices.
Also in X Edge, 4 characters from it, Lily, Whim, Raze, and Rewrich are from Mana Khemia 2, a game that was planned to be brought over by NISA months after X Edge in spite of MK2 far preceding it in Japan in both system and release dates.
Relatedly, the Atelier series first came to the US via the Iris subseries, which was an attempt to use some of the Atelier concepts in a more standard RPG — namely, one with a male lead and a Defeat The Big Bad main plot. The fact that these were the ones that finally managed to get companies interested in a US release is irksome to some fans, as well.
In a franchise sense, the newest Atelier games are now coming over, Rorona and Annie respectively... which means that this trope has happened again. Liese Randel in Atelier Annie shows up in the second year of gameplay to help out our heroine and seemingly has a bit of history... history which is covered in her own game, Atelier Liese, which didn't make it out of Japannote For reasons related to Game Breaking Bugs in the initial release meaning English gamers only know her from Annie.
Cless Albane and Arche Klein, of Tales of Phantasia fame, made their Western debut in 1998... in a cameo in Tales of Destiny. And then they appeared in Tales of Eternia (known in the West as Tales Of Destiny 2) as a Bonus Boss fight. Phantasia didn't cross the Pacific until 2006, over a decade after its debut in Japan and eight years after the characters showed up in ToD.
Tales of the Abyss has Cameo fights too. Granted, all three of the cameos in Tales of Symphonia were from games that were released in America before (Garr was from Tales of Destiny, Farah and Meredy were from Tales of Eternia), but not in Europe. However, in Tales of the Abyss, there's Mint (from Tales of Phantasia, not released until much later in the US), Philia (from Tales of Destiny, released years ago), and Reid from Tales of Eternia. However, who's this "Nanaly" girl in there? She is not Chelsea from Tales of Destiny. Ironically she's from the real Tales of Destiny 2 and is in no way related to Chelsea unless you WMG her to be a descendant of Chelsea (or Mary). Not to mention, two of Anise's Tokunaga accessories that reference Reala and Harold also first appeared in the west through Tales of the Abyss.
Tales of Vesperia also had Barbatos appear as a cameo boss - and neither the Destiny remake nor the real ToD2 ever was released outside of Japan!
Tales of Graces f had three of these upon its western release in the forms of Veigue Lungberg (Tales of Rebirth), Reala (Tales of Destiny 2) and Kohak Hearts (Tales of Hearts). The PS Vita version of Tales of Hearts is the only one that's getting a western release.
One of the save data unlockables in Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is an alternate costume for Kratos based on Ludger from Tales of Xillia 2. While Xillia 2 was released a year before the compilation in Japan, Symphonia Chronicles came out first in the US.
A peculiar intra-series instance of this involves the Final Fantasy series. The games tend to reuse themes, but Western audiences were denied several of the original games for quite a while. So, for example, while practically every game has "Gysahl Greens", the place it's named after wasn't seen until Final Fantasy III was finally released for the Nintendo DS in 2006, a full sixteen years after its 1990 release in Japan and nine years after Gysahl Greens first were seen in the West under that name.)
Final Fantasy III is especially prone to this as it wasn't released outside of Japan until the DS remake. This led to many elements first introduced here being assumed to have debuted in later games, such as Summon Magic, Moogles and the Job Change system.
Lone Wolf and Gogo both first appeared in Japan and Europe in Final Fantasy V (the European appearance was in the remake), but the US in Final Fantasy VI. Unusually for this trope, both characters have larger roles in VI than V.
Cissnei's appearance in Crisis Core was the first time Western audiences met her, but she was actually featured in Before Crisis which came out three or four years prior and was never released outside Japan.
Another example is the recurring Job Class of Dragoons, which originally came out in Final Fantasy II with the character Ricard Highwind. It would also appear again in Final Fantasy III as a Class that the player could pick for the main characters. Since neither of those games were ported outside of Japan originally, the first time westerners would see that Class would be with Kain Highwind in Final Fantasy IV. References to the class as a whole are sometimes erroneously attributed to the popular Kain character in specific. The remakes of II and IV make a Mythology Gag out of it, naming Richard's son Kain in II, and Kain's father Richard in IV.
Terra from Ys: The Ark of Napishtim originally debuted in Ys V, which was never exported.
Dragon Quest IX has its own spin on this phenomenon. With downloadable character and cameos from the entire series becoming slowly available over the course of a year (July 2010 - July 2011), it's a fun look back at the history of the series as a whole - wait, Dragon Quest VI? That hadn't been released outside of Japan yet, and "Ashlynn of Sorceria" was the third one up. Hence, she came over before her game did. (Another character from VI, Carver, averted this by making his cameo afterVI's US release..unless you hacked the game to unlock all the DLC at once.).
The first three games weren't released in PAL regions, making their characters examples.
Dragon Quest Monsters. The first game had enemies from Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI plus Milly and Terry from VI, well before either game was released in the US. Milly and VI's bosses Murdaw, Mortamor, and Nokturnus would go on to make further cameos in IX before their own game got released in the US.
Another example is Shuma-Gorath. Most people know him more from the Marvel vs Capcom games than they do from the comics, though he only actually counts as an example in territories where the comics didn't get published.
In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, surprisingly, Ippatsuman (and his Humongous Mecha Gyakuten-Oh) is the only one who fits in this trope. All the other Tatsunoko (and Capcom) characters had their licenses applied in many ways.
Disgaea 3 introduces a little known character in the West named Souichirou Kogure. The reason why he is little known is because the visual novel in which he originated from, Hayarigami, has not been released outside of Japan and, considering NISA's general aversion to visual novels outside of Disgaea Infinite, probably never will.
Another example would be Takato's cousin Kai. He first appeared in the first Tamers movie, which wouldn't be dubbed til several years after the show ended in the U.S. His second appearance (first in the dub) is toward the end of Tamers, where Takato clearly recognizes him but not in a way that the show is introducing him.
Ryuma in One Piece was the main character of his own Manga oneshot called "Wanted!" before, which has yet to be released outside of Japan.
The American release of the Wii game Unlimited Adventure has numerous characters that had yet to appear in the official releases of the anime or the manga, as did a few others games between then a couple years later when the English release of the manga rushed ahead to catch up with the Japanese one. This includes Franky, Kaku, Spandam, Rob Lucci, Kuzan/Aokiji, and Paulie.
Funimation released One Piece Film: Strong World, featuring Brook as a one of the Straw Hat Pirates, long before his introduction in the English dub of the TV series, and even used this as one of the film's main selling points.
Kaito Kid has his own Manga and Anime adaption, but most people know him as an reoccurring character in Detective Conan/Case Closed.
This occurred to Mazinger Z in large parts of Europe and the Middle East; UFO Robo Grendizer was translated and shown in countries such as Italy and France first, and when Mazinger finally aired in response to the surprise popularity of Grendizer, it was seen as a cheap knockoff of Grendizer, especially since Kouji Kabuto, the hero of Mazinger, appears in Grendizer in a supporting role (despite the series sort-of-not-really being a direct sequel.) This was exacerbated even further because Kouji's name was somewhat unnecessarily changed between the two shows, making people think that "Kouji Kabuto" was a bad knockoff of Duke Fleed's buddy "Alcor".
Raideen, Planet Robo Danguard Ace, and Combattler V. They were part of the "Shogun Warriors" toy set Mattel introduced into the States in the late 70s - which also included bizzaro versions of Mazinger Z and the various Getters, so if you really want to stretch the trope you could say that a lot of robots "debuted" as oddly huge toys - but the cartoons weren't licensed for American release. Oh no, that would be logical. Instead, the likenesses of the Raideen, Danguard and Combattler robots were licensed to, of all people, Marvel Comics for the creation of a Shogun Warriors American print comic. That eventually featured, among other things, Combattler fighting alongside the Fantastic Four against the gigantic robot minion of, basically, the Star of David. Really, you couldn't make up something like this if you tried. Raideen and Combattler's shows never made it to the US note (well, Raideen aired in three cities on local Japanese language commmunity channels, but the majority of the Union and 99% of the public never got to see the show); Danguard eventually made it to American TV with the franchise name intact as part of the syndicated Force Five cartoon package (alongside Grendizer from above), after the toys and comic went out of production.
Kinnikuman - While neither, the original manga nor anime were licensed for the US, toy company Mattel did sell a toyline of Kinnikuman figures under the name of M.U.S.C.L.E. When the sequel series, Kinnikuman Nisei, was later adapted to the US, the title was changed to Ultimate Muscle in order to tie the series with Mattel's figures.
Dragon Ball has several near misses where this trope almost happened, but was barely missed because of the obscure Nippon Golden Network television channel. Unless you had seen episodes of Dragonball from this obscure channel, every one of Goku's fellow Z-Warriors (with the exception of Yamcha, who appeared in the aborted syndication of the first 13 episodes) would have been introduced when Dragon Ball Z debuted, not with their original Dragonball appearances.
Likewise, NGN also showed Dr. Slump. If you missed it, your first introduction to Dr. Slump would have been when Goku and General Blue visited Penguin Village.
An interesting case happened in Malaysia. The Penguin Village episode aired in Malaysia around 1997-1998, Dr Slump later aired 4-5 years after the episode aired.
Fusion Reborn was released in North America in March 2006. Before that, the video game Budokai 3 had Gogeta as a playable character in 2004, and 2005's Budokai Tenkaichi had Gogeta and the movie's antagonist, Janemba. Gogeta was also in the game Ultimate Battle 22, but they tried to cover it up by calling him Vegito (another fusion). Budokai 3 also came out a few months before Dragon Ball GT ended, so it additionally spoiled Omega Shenron and Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta. The aforementioned Gogeta is also playable in his Super Saiyan 4 state from the end of GT, making him a double spoiler.
Oddly enough, the events of Fusion Reborn were also covered by the Game Boy Advance game Buu's Fury before it was released in English, despite the game being developed in the US.
Raging Blast 2 averts this with Hatchiyack, since the game comes with a remake of the anime special he debuted in. However, it's played straight with Tarble, from the yet-to-be-dubbed Son Goku and his Friends Return.
''Legendary Super Warriors," a Game Boy Color title released in November 2002, covered the entire DBZ saga beginning to end. This is notable for the fact that it featured the ending of the Buu saga where Goku destroyed Kid Buu with the Spirit Bomb, only a few months before the corresponding episodes made their debut in the U.S.
When Dragonball first aired in America, they released three action figures for Goku, Yamcha, and Krillin. However, the run was cancelled before Krillin made his debut in the series. This was repeated in the Dragonball Z line done by Irwin Toys in 1999, which had figures for characters years before they debuted in the US. The most notable examples were Majin Buu, the multiple Super Saiyan forms, and Tapion.
Since Gundam Wing debuted before the original Mobile Suit Gundam on Toonami, American viewers met the Char Clone Zechs Marquise before the original villain. This got so bad that in the early 2000s, the single best way to identify a "new fan" was whether or not they mis-identified a Char cosplayer as Zechs. This happened a lot.
Bleach's fourth movie introduced a character named Kokuto who would later go on to appear in the videogame Bleach: Soul Ignition. Nothing wrong here; the movie wouldn't be dubbed for a good few years and the game would probably never see the light of day outside of Japan (as is, sadly, the case with most Bleach videogames). Then, however comes the news that N.I.S America are releasing the game in the West under the slightly modified title; Bleach Soul Resurrección. And apart from the name and the opening theme song which had to be changed due to licensing issues, everything was left intact, including Kokuto, even going as far as to giving him an English voice. Given that his backstory was not given in the game and at this point, there wasn't even a Fan Sub of the movie available yet, a standard reaction to unlocking him is "Who the Hell is Kokuto?"
Averted in Taiwan, where official Chinese translations of the manga were released before the games.
A number of Mobile Suits from various Gundam series made their American debut in video games long before their series reached the US (ZZ, V, X and Turn-A still haven't.)
Many playing Pokémon Pinball outside of Japan when it first came out probably didn't realize that the tune that plays during the "capture" mode is "Mezase Pokémon Masutaa", the original opening to the Pokémon anime.
Same deal with the Mega Man Battle Network side game Network Transmission. If you happen to have seen the anime in Japanese, you'll get the intended thrill when, at a key moment, the game busts out an instrumental version of "Kaze wo Tsukinukete" (the show's first opening theme).
The Ranma ˝ films and OAVs were made shortly after the TV series ended in Japan, but when brought over the U.S. were released right when the dub of the TV series started, and thus several characters such as Shampoo, Mousse, Cologne, Happosai, Ukyo, Principal Kuno, Gosunkugi, Sentaro, Sasuke, and even Ranma's own mother made their U.S. debuts in the OAVs before anywhere else.
Not only that, but Pantyhouse Taro made his English-debut not in either the manga or the anime, but rather the video game Hard Battle, which was released shortly after the English dub of the anime started.
Similar to Brook, Pantherlily made his Funimation debut in the English dub of Fairy Tailthe Movie: Phoenix Priestess, which was screened before Funimation would release the Edolas arc of the TV series where he was originally introduced.
In America, most InuYasha fans were introduced to Kagura not via the manga or anime, but through the fighting game Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale for the Sony Play Station, which was released in the U.S. a few months before both the manga volume with her debut was released by Viz, and before her first episodes aired on Adult Swim.
Chitti from the famous Bollywood movie Robot had his first appearance in Germany with a cameo in the movie Ra.One.
Wreck-It Ralph appearing in the British-developed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (released on November 18, 2012; around two weeks after the film's US premiere) qualifies as this in the developers' home country, where the film was released in February 2013.
In Germany, Pro7 got the rights to only the first two seasons of the Doctor Who revival. Rival TV station RTL 2 had more luck with spin-off Torchwood which led to the Doctor's companion Martha Jones first appearing in Torchwood and not Series 3 of Doctor Who.
Power Rangers Super Megaforce also features the first appearances of the five core Gosei Sentai Dairanger suits, Hikari Sentai Maskman, Choushinsei Flashman, Dengeki Sentai Changeman, and Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman as "new powers". Uniquely, the presence of this trope was actually handwaved... poorly,note The mentor Gosei tells the Rangers that they have unlocked the Dairanger suits as "new modes that have never been seen before on this planet" without explaining where did the Dairanger suits originate from within the narrative of the Power Rangers universe, naming them or saying how and why did the Rangers suddenly unlock new modes. And that's just the Dairanger suits. The Maskman and Flashman suits were equally nameless, completely pulled out of thin air and given zero explanation as to their sudden existence and how the Rangers obtained the suits! single-handely leading the Power Rangers fandom into a meltdown and causing a new fandom meme to spawn.
Stan Freberg's comedy record "St. George and the Dragonet" was a big hit in Australia years before Dragnet, which it parodies, started airing. When Freberg toured Austrailia after the TV show's debut there, he was told "some bloke went and made a TV show out of your record!"
Before Animaniacs debuted in Poland on September 1996, the Warner siblings could be seen there in the opening sequence of Rozkodowany Bugs Bunny block (which debuted in early 1995) on Canal+ Poland.
A number of international markets had not yet aired the end of the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic before they ran the theatrical release, My Little Pony Equestria Girls, which picks up on some plot points from the final episode of Season 3. As a result, in quite a few countries, the film opens with Twilight Sparkle complaining about the new wings and alicorn princess status that she hadn't yet been shown gaining. Similarly, locations and characters from Season 3 were showing up in some markets on the toys' box art before the episodes they debuted in were locally aired.