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It's common for a series to be named after one or more of its main characters. Either [[ProtagonistTitle the series title and the star's name are one and the same]] (as in ''Literature/JaneEyre'' and ''Franchise/IndianaJones'') or [[NameAndName the names of more than one protagonist will appear in the title]] (as in ''RomeoAndJuliet'' and ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry''). Occasionally, though, the title comes from the name of a character who is ''not'' the main protagonist, which may cause some [[ProtagonistTitleFallacy confusion about who's who]]. Usually, this character is pivotal to the plot or sets the story in motion. It still can cause confusion, especially when the actor playing the protagonist is billed directly above the title.

This trope sometimes leads to IAmNotShazam, when people think the title is the protagonist's name. When the eponymous secondary character is mistaken for the protagonist, someone has committed the ProtagonistTitleFallacy.

Compare VillainBasedFranchise, AntagonistTitle, SupportingProtagonist, and {{Deuteragonist}}. May overlap with TrivialTitle if the secondary character is especially unimportant to the story.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Akira}}'' spends the entirety of the film version in a glass jar. He's somewhat more active in the manga version, but while plot-relevant, isn't much more than tertiary as a character.
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'': The title character is only the second most important character in the series; the main character is Touma. Though the first story arc revolved around her, Index rarely even makes an appearance in a lot of later story arcs.
* ''Anime/AttackerYou'': Similar example to ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa'' below, this trope applies to the title in foreign adaptations, specifically European, where NameAndName titles were very common. In Italy, the anime is known as ''Mila and Shiro'', the [[DubNameChange "Italian" names]] of ''You and Sho''. Even though he is You's LoveInterest, Sho is a minor character ''at best'' and his name certainly doesn't deserve to be in the title along with the protagonist.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': The first [[TheMovie movie]], ''[[Anime/BleachMemoriesOfNobody Memories of Nobody]]'', refers to Senna, a girl who has [[MultipleChoicePast multiple memories]] [[spoiler:that weren't really hers to begin with due to being an amalgam of different souls]].
* ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa''. Even though the series is only Tsubasa-centric, in many European adaptations the anime is known with a NameAndName title that makes it look like that Tsubasa and Genzo Wakabayashi are both equally important protagonists (evidenced also by the theme songs). While still a major character, Wakabayashi is often kept OutOfFocus (or even PutOnABus) due to injuries or other reasons.
* ''Manga/{{Doraemon}}'': Nobita is the main protagonist in virtually most stories/episodes of the series. Actually, most of the movies have CharacterNameAndTheNounPhrase titles like "Nobita and..." or "Nobita's..."
* ''Manga/{{Dororo}}'': Hyakkimaru is really the main protagonist. Indeed the original title is ''Dororo to Hyakkimaru''.
* ''Manga/DoctorSlump'' was originally supposed to be the story of the wacky inventor Senbei Norimaki (AKA. The eponymous Dr. Slump), however, RobotGirl Arale ended up taking center stage, to the point that the AnimatedAdaptation was actually called "''Dr. Slump: Arale-chan''".
* ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'': At first glance, it may look like Haruhi is the main character (she is after all the poster girl) but [[POVBoyPosterGirl she's]] [[DecoyProtagonist not]]. Kyon serves as the narrator and POV character for the entire series, becoming more and more clearly TheHero as events progress. He is only the SupportingProtagonist in the sense that many of the events that occur are a result of Haruhi's actions or emotional state.
* Despite being the titular ''Manga/HighScoreGirl'' who drives much of the plot, legendary [[GamerChick arcade gamer]] [[CuteBruiser Akira]] [[ChildProdigy Oono]] isn't the main character of the series. That honor goes to [[LoserProtagonist Haruo Yaguchi]], who befriends her.
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' has Reborn, the hitman who is the tutor to the main character Tsunayoshi Sawada. Reborn does nothing except making Tsuna stronger and stronger, so the latter can beat the crap out of the enemies.
* ''Manga/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaVivid'' and ''Manga/MagicalRecordLyricalNanohaForce'', the two fourth season manga of the ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'' franchise, still keeps Nanoha's name in the title even though her main character status has been taken by [[SpinOffspring Vivio]] and Thoma respectively. This is especially noticeable in ''[=ViVid=]'', where multiple volumes could pass with Nanoha barely appearing on page.
* ''Anime/MaiHime'': After being the main character, Mai Tokiha barely appears in the {{Elseworld}} spin-off ''Anime/MaiOtome'', relegated to a supporting role near the end. Also an example of ArtifactTitle.
* ''Anime/MoribitoGuardianOfTheSpirit'': The title "Guardian of the Spirit" actually refers to the young [[ShelteredAristocrat Prince Chagum]], not the main protagonist [[ActionGirl Balsa.]] This is easy to mistake, as Balsa is [[MamaBear Chagum's bodyguard]], making her the Guardian of the Guardian of the Spirit.
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'': Ash, first and foremost, is the main character of the series rather than the titular creatures, with Pikachu as his sidekick. In fact, as with the ''Transformers'' example below, the {{Mons}} in general take a backseat to the humans. This is somewhat true of the game series as well, but to a lesser extent due to how much the gameplay itself revolves around the titular {{Mons}}.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'' has the titular character fall to a supporting role with the story being told from Homura's perspective.
* ''Manga/{{Sankarea}}'': The plot mainly follows Chihiro Furuya, although Rea Sanka is pretty much the central character to the plot.
* ''Manga/TensaiBakabon'' is initially a gag manga about a little boy named Bakabon and his adventures with his pals, focusing so strongly on his point of view that his parents don't even get names, referred to only as "Papa" and "Mama." Over time, however, Bakabon's troublemaking father becomes the BreakoutCharacter, to the point that the series soon revolves around him and his various schemes. Bakabon himself is demoted to his occasional sidekick. Despite this, the dad is still never given a name, and is called "Bakabon's Father" on merchandise.
* ''Anime/WhenMarnieWasThere'' is about a girl named Anna who befriends the titular Marnie.
* ''LightNovel/VioletEvergarden'' starts out as an example of this. In the first 4 chapters, Violet's clients are the main characters of each short story. Violet didn't become the protagonist until Chapter 5.

[[folder:Asian Animation]]
* ''Animation/GuardianFairyMichel'' largely focuses on Kim White, an AcePilot who meets the titular Michel and ends up traveling with him when her old enemies kidnap the rest of the fairies. Although Michel can do a FusionDance to merge with any rescued fairies and gain their powers, it's Kim who does the final blow to most monsters they fight.

* Most comic book series starring DC's Captain Marvel are named ''ComicBook/{{Shazam}}'', after Captain Marvel's wizard mentor, or, more specifically, the [[IAmNotShazam often conflated word Billy Batson says to transform]]. This is actually due to an agreement with Creator/MarvelComics over the use of the name "Captain Marvel"--it can't be used in the title of a DC book.
** At least it ''was'' the case, since Captain Marvel was officially [[ComicBook/{{New 52}} renamed]] Shazam.
* The main character of ''[[ComicBook/{{Convergence}} Convergence: Adventures of Superman]]'' is the Pre-Crisis Supergirl. Superman himself is the {{Deuteragonist}}.
* ComicBook/{{Gear}}. The title character doesn't show up until the second-to-last issue. The word "gear" isn't even mentioned by name until then. The main characters are actually Waffle, Gordon, and Mr. Black.
* ''[[Comicbook/XMen X-Men: Noir]]'', an {{Elseworld}} ''X-Men'' miniseries set in a version of 1930s New York without any superpowered heroes, is an example of this, oddly enough. Its protagonist is actually [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_(Thomas_Halloway) The Angel]], [[note]] Completely unrelated to Warren Worthington III of the original X-Men, who's a PosthumousCharacter in this story.[[/note]] a mostly-forgotten Timely Comics character who spends the story investigating the murder that kicks off the plot. "The X Men" are a fugitive gang of teenage criminals who are suspected of said murder, and end up helping The Angel take down the real criminals by the end.
* The ''ComicBook/{{Tintin}}'' story ''King Ottokar's Sceptre'' is a tertiary character title where one might expect a secondary: the king in the story is named Muskar. (The eponymous sceptre was named for his ancestor Ottokar).
* ''ComicBook/{{Sha}}'': The main character is a witch named Lara; Sha is the protector deity of witches who makes Lara remember her past life.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''Polly and Her Pals'' ultimately became this. Initially, Polly ''was'' the main character, until Cliff Sterrett (the artist) decided that her father, Paw Perkins, had more comedic potential and made ''him'' the star of the strip.
* In a similar vein, ''ComicStrip/FunkyWinkerbean'' really did once star the title character, but as time went on, he was DemotedToExtra.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Blondie}}'' is the wife of the main character, Dagwood, though (similarly to the above example) she was the lead during the strip's start.
* Another old strip where this happened was ''Barney Google'', which after some years focused on Barney's hillbilly cousin. Eventually, the series was renamed after the latter, ''ComicStrip/SnuffySmith''.

[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* "Literature/ThePrincessOnTheGlassHill" is the LoveInterest.
* "Literature/TheGratefulBeasts" are the hero's allies and helpers after he cured them.
* "Literature/IronHans" tricks the prince (the main character) into freeing him, abducts him to protect him from punishment, and aids him thereafter.
* "Literature/TheKingWhoWouldBeStrongerThanFate": The hero is the boy he tries to murder to avoid his daughter's fate.
* "Literature/{{Schippeitaro}}" is the dog the hero needs to help him.
* "Literature/TheSevenRavens" are the heroine's brothers
* "Literature/SnowWhiteFireRed" is the LoveInterest.
* "Literature/TheWhiteDove" is the LoveInterest.
* "Literature/TheFeatherOfFinistTheFalcon": Finist is the LoveInterest.
* "Literature/TheThreeAunts" help the heroine.
* "Literature/TheTwelveDancingPrincesses" are dancing the night away, and the hero has to try to find out why.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/ChrysalisVisitsTheHague'', Queen Chrysalis may be the character that kicked the plot off to begin with, but her lawyer Estermann is the actual protagonist.

[[folder:Film -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBossBaby'': The Boss Baby is the title character, but his older brother, the UnreliableNarrator Tim, is really the protagonist.
* ''WesternAnimation/CorpseBride'': The real hero is Victor. Emily, the titular "Corpse Bride", is the RomanticFalseLead.
* ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo'': The main character is Marlin, Nemo's father, with Dory as the {{Deuteragonist}}. The titular Nemo is actually the tritagonist.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gisaku}}'': The main character is actually Yohei. Gisaku is little more than a pet for most of the film.
* ''WesternAnimation/AGoofyMovie'': The story of the film focuses more on Goofy's son Max than it does on Goofy. It shows Max's premonition of taking after his father, trying to become popular, attempting to get the girl of his dreams to notice him, and struggling to cover up his lie to both Roxanne and Goofy. The one time we actually get to see a scene that focuses on Goofy's perspective alone is when [[spoiler:he discovers that Max changed his directions on the map]].
* ''Disney/MeetTheRobinsons'': None of the Robinsons is the main character. But they do welcome the actual orphaned protagonist--Lewis--into their family. [[spoiler:This is technically a subversion since a future version of Lewis is the Robinson patriarch.]]
* ''Anime/MyNeighborTotoro'': The titular character refers to the creature the main characters, Satsuki and Mei, meet after moving to their new home.
* ''Anime/PrincessMononoke'': Not only is the main protagonist not the character referred to by the title (it's Ashitaka), the name "Princess Mononoke" itself is only used once in the film to refer to San, as it's a nickname given to her by the residents of Irontown.
* ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'': "Sleeping Beauty" refers to Aurora, but she's just a DecoyProtagonist and the real protagonists are the three fairies. Aurora has a total of eighteen lines of dialogue in the entire movie and the shortest screentime for any Disney heroine. The fairies, despite being treated as if they were sidekicks, have much more screentime (and dialogue) than Aurora and basically, do everything for both Aurora and Phillip.
* ''Animation/WaltzWithBashir'': President Bashir is referred to but doesn't actually appear in the movie.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' is the {{Deuteragonist}}.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}'': The protagonist is Miguel, Coco is his great-grandma.

[[folder:Film -- Live-Action]]
* Roger Rabbit is not actually the main character of ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit''. He's just the one who solicits the services of the story's actual protagonist, human [[PrivateDetective detective]] Eddie Valiant. Roger steals every scene he's in and is pivotal to the case, though.
* Film/{{Beetlejuice}} has less screentime in his own movie than any of the other characters. This is not the case in the [[WesternAnimation/{{Beetlejuice}} animated series]] that followed, though, where he is undoubtedly the star.
* The titular ''BrideOfFrankenstein'' doesn't appear until the last four minutes of the movie.
* ''Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShow''. Extra points for sounding like a WordSaladTitle, rather than anything to do with the characters at all, to people who aren't very familiar with the plot.
* The title character from 1991 film ''Film/{{Oscar}}'' doesn't actually show up until the last minute or two of the movie. While some of the earlier events of the film do revolve around him in some way, the real point of the title is as a nod to Creator/OscarWilde; both the film and the play on which it's based pay homage to his style of humour.
* The protagonist of ''Film/TheBoyInTheStripedPajamas'' is the young son of a Nazi officer who becomes acquainted with the boy of the title, who's a prisoner in a concentration camp. Some people were annoyed about this.
* ''Film/TheBigLebowski'' refers to Jeffrey Lebowski, a millionaire for whom the protagonist ([[NamesTheSame also christened Jeffrey Lebowski]], but goes by "The Dude") is mistaken. Walter refers to the former as "the other Lebowski, the Big Lebowski" in one line.
* ''Film/{{Tron}}'' and ''Film/TronLegacy'' are about Kevin Flynn and his son. Tron is a minor character in both of them.
* In all three ''Film/ReAnimator'' movies, the main character is Herbert West's protege, not Dr. West himself.
* The live action ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' movies. The fact that the Transformers are secondary characters in the movies named after them is a frequent subject of mockery, due to the fact that they were the main characters in other incarnations of the franchise.
* The title character of ''Film/JohnnyGuitar'' played by Creator/SterlingHayden is the {{Deuteragonist}}, and in narrative terms the third most important character after TheHero Vienna and the BigBad Emma Small.
* ''Film/TheLastSamurai'' does not, [[InternetBackdraft as many people seemed to think]], refer to the main character Nathan Algren, but to the rebelling group of samurai led by Katsumoto. This is not helped by the fact that "samurai" can be either singular or plural in Japanese.
* John Tucker is not the main character in ''Film/JohnTuckerMustDie''. Kate is.
* Amy is only mentioned off-screen in ''Film/ChasingAmy'' as the ex-girlfriend of another secondary character.
* The protagonist of ''Film/RachelGettingMarried'' is Rachel's younger sister.
* ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn'' is told from Colin Clark's perspective.
* The protagonists of ''Film/HorribleBosses'' are their respective employees.
* ''Film/{{Paul}}'' is a CGI alien. The protagonist is the Graeme/Clive duo.
* The Focker children in ''[[Film/MeetTheParents Little Fockers]]'' have neither many lines nor much screentime.
* The protagonist of ''Film/ILoveYouPhillipMorris'' is Steven Russell, who loves Phillip Morris.
* Though the plot of ''Film/{{Rebecca}}'' has very much to do with her, Rebecca was already dead before the movie even began and is only discussed by other characters.
* ''Film/TheBourneLegacy''. Jason Bourne is only be mentioned off-screen as the movie leaves the main character's seat to (who else?) his legacy.
* Creator/JeanClaudeVanDamme's character is not the eponymous ''Film/{{Cyborg 1989}}'', it's the woman who was taken captive by the bad guys.
* ''Film/TheThinMan'': The man of the title is the victim, not one of the protagonists or the villain. This didn't prevent the sequels from using him as an ArtifactTitle, even though his deceased character has nothing to do with their plots.
* ''Theatre/{{Harvey}}'' does not even conclusively establish Harvey's actual existence until well into the film, though he does drive a lot of the plot.
* In ''Film/{{Laura}}'', Laura is the name of the woman whose murder the detective is investigating.
* ''Film/ForgettingSarahMarshall'': The titular character is the ex-girlfriend of the protagonist, who spends about a quarter of the film trying to get over.
* In ''Film/TheFactsInTheCaseOfMisterHollow'' Johnny Hollow is unseen, as the photographer who took the photo that's the subject of the film. His only "appearance" is via the text of a letter, warning the recipient, an OccultDetective viewpoint character, to "look closely."
* ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory'': Although not the case in [[Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory the original book]] (which had a different ProtagonistTitle), in the 1971 film, the titular Wonka, though an important character, is still just the owner of the titular factory to which the main protagonist Charlie wins a trip.
* Ironically, the book's second adaptation ''Film/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' is also an example because it kept the book's original title but changed the focus so that Wonka now ''is'' the main character.
* In ''Film/MonOncleAntoine'', Antoine is a significant character, but the protagonist is his nephew Benoit and the story is told from Benoit's perspective.
* The protagonist of ''Film/TheStrongMan'' is Paul, Zandow the strong man's bumbling assistant, who has a series of misadventures while trying to find his pen pal girlfriend. Zandow is only in four scenes.
* ''Film/KenPark'' kills himself at the start of the movie. The rest of the movie is about his classmates.
* ''Film/RubySparks'' is the girlfriend of the main character Calvin [[PygmalionPlot who made her from his imagination]].
* ''Film/FiveHundredDaysOfSummer'' follows Tom, the main character, as he tries to get over the fact that he and the titular character is/was never meant to be.
* In ''Film/{{Fido}}'', the titular character is the zombie butler of the main character and his family.
* ''Film/ThePrincessBride'': Buttercup, the titular bride, is the LoveInterest of both TheHero Westley and the BigBad Prince Humperdinck.
* In ''Film/{{Mud}}'', the titular character is only the {{Deuteragonist}} who is hiding from mercenaries/bounty hunters and is found and befriended by the KidHero protagonist and his [[TheLancer Lancer]].
* ''Film/TheKidsAreAllRight'': The Kids refers to Joni and Laser, but the story focuses on their [[HasTwoMommies mothers]] and their GlorifiedSpermDonor.
* ''Film/{{Junebug}}'' is the name the SupportingProtagonist's pregnant sister-in-law wants for her child once she gives birth. [[spoiler:[[ArtifactTitle She suffers]] [[TearJerker a miscarriage]].]]
* ''Film/MarketaLazarova'' doesn't play very large role in the plot. Mikolá is the actual protagonist.
* In ''Film/{{Roberta}}'', Stephanie is the main character. Her boyfriend's Aunt Minnie is the original Roberta, but she dies not long into the movie.
* ''Film/DrStrangelove'' is only in two scenes. [[OneSceneWonder Doesn't mean he didn't make a hell of an impact.]]
* ''Film/{{Trancers}}'': The protagonist is Jack Deth. The Trancers are the {{Big Bad}}'s mind slaves.
* ''Film/ChildrenOfTheNight'' refers to [[spoiler:the kids the villain used to feed while he was imprisoned.]]
* While several Film/JamesBond movies have a title [[AntagonistTitle in connection to the main villain]], ''Film/{{Octopussy}}'' has the distinction of being the only one named after the BondGirl.
* ''Film/WakingNedDevine'' is a pretty interesting example, considering the only time Ned actually appears on screen, it's [[spoiler:his dead body, having died from shock after learning that he won the lottery. The rest of the movie is about two old men pretending he's still alive to collect this winnings.]]
* In ''Film/ClairesKnee'', Claire doesn't show up until about halfway through and she's the least developed of all the major characters.

* ''Literature/MobyDick'' is really about Ishmael and Captain Ahab.
* ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers'' is about D'Artagnan, the fourth musketeer.
* Alexander Pushkin's Literature/TheCaptainsDaughter is named after the main character's love interest.
* ''Literature/TheGiver'' is about the boy who's been selected to replace the Giver.
* ''Literature/TheIndianInTheCupboard'' is about the kid whose cupboard the Indian is in.
* ''Literature/FlowersForAlgernon'' refers to the protagonist's fellow test subject--a white rat. Perhaps to avert the trope, the film adaptation was renamed ''Charly''.
* The protagonist of ''Literature/DaisyMiller'' is Frederick Winterbourne, who falls in love with Daisy.
* ''Literature/ThePrisonerOfZenda'': The protagonist is the man attempting to rescue the prisoner, who barely features.
* ''Literature/TheScarletPimpernel'': The protagonist is the eponymous hero's wife Marguerite.
* ''Literature/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe'' pulls a trifecta by being titled after a secondary character, the villain, ''and'' a gateway to another dimension.
* The protagonist of ''Literature/{{Rebecca}}'' is the second Mrs. de Winter (whose first name is never given). Rebecca herself is a PosthumousCharacter.
* The protagonist (and narrator) of ''Literature/LornaDoone'' is her love interest John Ridd.
* ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'': The Lord of the Rings is the villain. The volume ''Return of the King'' refers to the SupportingLeader.
* The protagonist of ''Literature/{{Aimee}}'' is not Aimee but her best friend who is accused of killing her. In fact, the protagonist isn't named until the end of the book. [[spoiler:Her name is Zoe.]]
* ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz'' was never the protagonist, but he is an important character who helps actual protagonist Dorothy get home (just not in the way Dorothy expected). He becomes a very minor character in later books in the series.
* ''Literature/LookingForAlaska''. Whilst Alaska is a main character, the focus is more on Pudge.
* In ''Literature/SavingZoe'', Zoë is the main character Echo's late sister, who was murdered. The book revolves around Echo finding Zoë's diary and reading it.
* ''Literature/TheThinMan'' is not detective Nick Charles, but Clyde Wynant, the man he is looking for. The confusion was not helped by the fact that [[Film/TheThinMan the movie version]] spawned a series of sequels, all of which included "the Thin Man" in their title.
* The unfinished epic ''Titurel'' by medieval poet Wolfram von Eschenbach was named by scholars after the first name mentioned in the surviving text. Titurel does not actually appear in the story, he is merely one of the protagonist's ancestors.
* Constance Greene's young adult novels in the "Alexandra" series (such as ''Al(exandra) the Great'') are all named after the narrator's best friend. The narrating character is never even given a name.
* Creator/GeorgeMacDonaldFraser's ''Literature/McAuslan'' series has Lt. [=MacNeill=] as the protagonist, and there are stories where [=McAuslan=] plays only a minor role at best.
* The ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'' books are mostly told from the point of view of his protegee, Valkyrie Cain.
* The young adult novel ''Amandine'' by Adele Griffon is named after the protagonist's eccentric (and later somewhat antagonistic) friend.
* ''Literature/TheMillenniumTrilogy'': Regardless of the title of each installment, the protagonist of the series has always been Mikael Blomkvist.
* Hawthorne Abendsen, ''Literature/TheManInTheHighCastle'', is a minor character.
* ''Literature/GivesLight'' is the surname of the main character's best friend [[StraightGay and love interest]], a Plains Shoshone boy. It's also the surname of his father, a serial killer who murdered the main character's mother years ago.
* The bride in ''Literature/BrideOfTheRatGod'' refers to the actress Christine, but her cousin Norah is the central character.
* ''Literature/TheButterflyKid'' is named for a very minor secondary character--albeit one who gets the plot rolling. Its sequel, ''Literature/TheUnicornGirl'', is also named for a secondary character, though a much more important one: the hero's potential love interest.
* Several of Creator/HRiderHaggard's novels are named after the hero's love interest, even if she is not the main focus. For example, ''Nada the Lily'' is about the hero Umslopogaas, the illegitimate son of the great Zulu king and general Chaka.
* ''Literature/TheRedVixenAdventures'': The series as a whole and half the individual titles refer to the Red Vixen, a character with very little actual screen time [[spoiler:(and most of that is spent as her SecretIdentity, Lady Melanie)]] and the story is never told from her perspective.
* In ''Literature/DearMrHenshaw'', Boyd Henshaw is more of a plot device than an actual character; the real protagonist is sixth-grader Leigh Botts.
* ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'', to the extent that we don't even find out that "Neuromancer" is a character until late in the final act. [[spoiler:It turns out that Wintermute's mission to infiltrate the Villa Straylight has actually been part of its attempt to merge with Neuromancer, its twin {{AI}}, to become capable of growing past the limits of its programming.]] Also a case of SmallRoleBigImpact.
* ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}''. The focus is not on the scientist Frankenstein but on his creation "Frankenstein's Monster".
* The ''Literature/ChroniclesOfPrydain'' are about a young man named Taran and the adventures he experiences on the path to adulthood in the country of Prydain. The final book in the series, ''The High King'', refers to the ruler of the country. [[spoiler:This is ultimately a subversion of the trope, however, because Taran himself is named High King of Prydain at the very end of the story.]]
* ''Literature/TheCrippledGod'', the last book in the ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' series, is named after an important but rarely seen character. For most of the series it actually looks like it's going to be a case of AntagonistTitle as the Crippled God is the instigator and ManBehindTheMan of most of the conflicts within the series, but then turns out to be a little fish in the pond of the BigBadEnsemble and himself in need of rescue.
* The first of the Tiffany Aching books in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' is called ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen'', after the Nac Mac Feegles, a group of rebellious "pictsies" ([[InsistentTerminology NOT "pixies"]]) who assist Tiffany, but she's the main protagonist. [[SpotlightStealingSquad The Feegles ARE quite memorable, however.]]
* Creator/DrSeuss:
** ''Literature/TheCatInTheHat'' is the tritagonist: the protagonist and deuteragonist are the boy and girl he visits.
** ''Literature/TheLorax'': The focus in on the Once-ler, not on the Lorax.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DontTrustTheBInApartment23'' is named after Chloe, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the bitch in apartment 23]], but the series' main protagonist is Chloe's new roommate June. Chloe is still the second most prominent character in the series, though, and several episodes do revolve mainly around her.
* ''Series/FamilyMatters'': Though it was originally supposed to be a show about a family, from season 2 onwards the main protagonist is Steve Urkel who is not part of the main family (the Winslows) but just a neighbor. All the members of the Winslow family gradually become {{Satellite Character}}s to him.
* ''Series/GossipGirl'' is a minor character on the show. [[spoiler:Subverted, as [[{{GIRL}} "she"]] is actually one of the main characters,]]
* ''Series/GoodLuckCharlie'' is named for the nickname (real name is Charlotte) of the baby sister of the main character [[GenderBlenderName Teddy]], who [[FramingDevice is making a series of video diaries for Charlie to watch in the future]], [[EveryEpisodeEnding all of which end]] with Teddy telling her, "[[TitleDrop Good luck, Charlie]]". In the latter two seasons, Charlie becomes the {{deuteragonist}}, being given her own character development.
* ''Series/TinMan'': The protagonist is DG, not the Tin Man, Cain.
* This is parodied in ''Series/ThatMitchellAndWebbLook'' with a sketch about TheFilmOfTheBook of the abovementioned ''Film/{{Rebecca}}'', where [[ExecutiveMeddling the studio insists]] that if the film is going to be called ''Rebecca'', it has to be ''about'' Rebecca. As a result, she spends the whole movie listening to people talk about what it'll be like when she's dead and her husband's second wife moves in.
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' is after TheHero's OneTrueLove [[EleventhHourRanger who isn't even properly introduced to him until the last five minutes of the series finale]].
* ''Series/LifeWithDerek'': The protagonist is Casey, and the title refers to her new life with her stepbrother.
* ''Series/RaisingHope'': The main character is not the titular baby. The show focuses on Jimmy, Hope's young father, and his bumbling family who support him in raising newborn child Hope.

* "There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" by Music/KirstyMaccoll. The protagonist is the narrator's probably unfaithful lover; the guy down the chip shop ("he's a liar") is just someone the real protagonist gets compared to.
* It wasn't uncommon at all for rock bands in TheSixties to be named after the founding member, even if, instead of being the lead singer, they were the guitarist (Spencer Davis Group, Jeff Beck Group), the keyboardist (Manfred Mann, Paul Revere & the Raiders) or the drummer (The Dave Clark Five).
* Venga'''boys''' can somewhat be applied to this trope, due to the fact that [[FaceOfTheBand the lead vocalists of the group]] [[NonIndicativeName are female]], [[LesserStar and the other two members]] [[EgocentricTeamNaming are male]].

* ''Theatre/WaitingForGodot'': The main characters are Vladimir and Estragon, who are [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin waiting for Godot]]. [[TheGhost Godot doesn't even appear in the play.]]
* ''Theatre/ByeByeBirdie'': The title refers to rock star [[CaptainErsatz Conrad]] [[Music/ElvisPresley Birdie]], who plays a major role, but Conrad's manager, Albert, and his secretary are the main characters.
* ''Theatre/{{Gypsy}}'' refers to Gypsy Rose Lee, the stage name Louise acquires halfway through the second act. Her mother is the principal character.
* Several Shakespearean examples, because in his day usually the character of the highest rank, not the main character, got the title (but not always, vide ''Hamlet'').
** ''Theatre/{{Cymbeline}}'': The main character is Imogen.
** ''Theatre/HenryIV'' parts 1 and 2: The main characters are Prince Hal and Falstaff.
** ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar'': Caesar dies less than halfway through; the main character is Brutus.
** ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'': Most people assume that the title refers to the villain, Shylock, but it actually refers to Antonio. The actual protagonist of the play is up for debate.)
* ''Marvin's Room''. Marvin has absolutely no lines (he's senile and bedridden, you see), and the story is about his two daughters and one of his grandsons.
* Victor Hugo's ''Lucrezia Borgia''. Lucrezia is at most a deuteragonist. The main character is Genarro, [[spoiler: her abandonned incest-born son]].
* The title character of ''Theatre/FiddlerOnTheRoof'' never speaks, and only appears a few times in the show. Tevye is the main character.
* ''Theatre/TheBarberOfSeville'' also applies. Figaro is a relatively major character, but Almaviva is the protagonist.
* The principal characters of the ballet ''Don Quixote'' are the young lovers, Basilio and Kitri. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are secondary mime parts. Not surprising, as the adaptation is InNameOnly, anyway.
* The opera ''Paul Bunyan'' introduces Paul Bunyan as the hero of its story, but he remains ShroudedInMyth and [[TheVoice never appears onstage]]. The real protagonist is Hel Helson.
* ''Theatre/{{Iolanthe}}'' gives the titular character less to act and sing about than other major characters, despite her importance in the plot. The protagonist is her son, Strephon.
* In ''Theatre/TheMikado'', the title character doesn't make his entrance until well into the second act. The protagonist is his only son, Nanki-Poo.
* The Nibelung in Richard Wagner's ''Theatre/TheRingOfTheNibelung'' is Alberich, but the central character of the tetralogy as a whole is Wotan, even though there is no character who appears in all four parts. Brünnhilde, the titular character of ''Theatre/TheValkyrie'', is also probably an example as the opera is mostly about Wotan and his mortal children Siegmund and Sieglinde (the latter is the only character who appears in all three acts), while Brünnhilde in this opera is primarily defined as Wotan's alter ego--she tries to do what he can't because he is constrained by his obligations to treaties and the law.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'': The protagonist is Link.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening'', ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', and ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTriForceHeroes'' don't even feature Zelda (besides a flashback in ''Majora's Mask'' and Link apparently mistaking a character in ''Link's Awakening'' for Zelda in the beginning).
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess''. [[spoiler:The game's main character's sidekick, Midna, is the Twilight Princess, not Zelda (who barely appears)]].
* ''VideoGame/TheImmortal'' (obvious, since there's EverythingTryingToKillYou)
* ''VideoGame/{{Lufia}}''. Even worse in the sequels, where Lufia isn't even ''in'' the game. [[spoiler:At least, not under that name.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Metroid}}'' is named after [[PersonalSpaceInvader the species]] the villains are using as biological weapons.
** [[ZigZaggingTrope Zig-zagged]] throughout the series -- later games reveal "Metroid" to be a Chozo word roughly meaning "ultimate warrior", which Samus quite definitely is; meaning that everyone who [[IAmNotShazam mistakenly referred to Samus as Metroid]] are technically correct. Meanwhile ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'' refers to the supersized version of the Metroid Hatchling, ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' is an AntagonistTitle, and ''VideoGame/MetroidFusion'' refers to Samus's transformation into a HalfHumanHybrid.
* As mentioned under Film, this is something in the ''Tron'' series.
** In ''VideoGame/TronMazeATron'', Flynn is the main character.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh Tron 2.0]]'', it's Jet Bradley as the main character. Tron himself is completely absent, having disappeared years before the game begins, but his legacy code still plays a part in the story.
** ''VideoGame/TronEvolution'' only has Tron in the opening. He's shuffled out of the plot after the first chapter, due to the film, ''Film/TronLegacy,'' mentioned above.
* A common gripe about the "Wrath of the Lich King" expansion for ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' was that the [[AntagonistTitle titular villain]] got very little screen time and spends pretty much the whole expansion as OrcusOnHisThrone.
** Another common opinion is that he got too much screen time and popped up everywhere, so that when you faced him in the final battle, he had lost much of his effect as a godlike entity who would be impossible to defeat, you had simply gotten too familiar with him letting you run off after killing a boss.
* You'd be surprised how little ''VideoGame/{{Anna}}'' actually features in her own game. In fact, it's debatable if she appears ''at all'' (because TrueArtIsIncomprehensible).
* ''VisualNovel/DateALiveRinneUtopia'' has the eponymous Rinne Sonogami, the final heroine that [[LightNovel/DateALive the subtitle-less franchise]]'s protagonist, Shido Itsuka, can date.
* The Arkham Knight from ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamKnight'', while still extremely important, is TheDragon to the game's real BigBad, Scarecrow.
* Cross of ''VideoGame/XenobladeChroniclesX'' serves as a witness to the plot which is about humanity's survival with [[TheLeader Elma]] at the helm, although [[http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/wiiu/xenoblade-chronicles-x/0/5 symbolically]], the "X" represents alien life of the unknown [[spoiler:which Elma is an alien herself.]]
* Seen in a few installments of the ''VideoGame/DarkParables''; the fourth game is called ''The Red Riding Hood Sisters'' and the fifth is ''The Final Cinderella.'' The actual protagonist of all of the games is a woman known as the Fairy Tale Detective.

[[folder:Visual Novel]]
* ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}'': The title (Moon Princess) refers to Arcueid Brunestud, whom the protagonist Shiki Tohno meets at the start of the story.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'': Regardless of what the creators might say, Strong Bad has pretty much taken over as the main character.
* The titular Girl-chan in ''WebAnimation/GirlChanInParadise'' appears only a handful of times (it's implied she and Swirly Glasses are traveling with the group, but even in group shots they rarely appear) and contributes absolutely nothing but [[MsFanservice blatant fanservice]] (or [[FanDisservice the exact opposite]] thanks to [[DerangedAnimation the art style]]).

* ''Webcomic/RustyAndCo'': A party member, but the lead character is clearly Mimic.
* ''Webcomic/{{Zelfia}}'': The ''character'' Zelfia has appeared exactly three times. The title refers more to the series' ArcWords
* ''Webcomic/UnicornJelly'': The real main character is arguably Chou, who does most of the heavy lifting and gets most of the focus, especially towards the end. The POV character is Lupiko (most of the time). Uni, the title character, is just the supporting TeamPet.
* ''Webcomic/{{Kurami}}'': Ana Kirkland is the main character, while Kurami is the infant cousin whom she is raising. To avoid confusion, author Deon Parson announced in January 2016 that he'd be changing the strip's name to ''Life With Kurami''.
* ''Webcomic/{{Oglaf}}'': The titular Oglaf has shown up maybe a handful of times in the entire comic.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Timmy Turner is the main protagonist of the ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents''. The title characters grant his wishes, teach him lessons, and generally serve as [[ParentalSubstitute parental substitutes]], since his actual parents constantly neglect him.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' is well on its way to becoming this. The majority of episodes focus on Brian and Stewie, with Peter, the titular "family guy", generally [[OutOfFocus taking a backseat]] most of the time.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Gawayn}}'', the heroes are searching for the crystal of Gawayn in order to break the curse on Princess Gwendolyn, but it is not clear who Gawayn actually is (or was).
* ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising'' is about [[TheCowl Beck]] acting as Tron under his order, not about Tron himself.
* ''WesternAnimation/WatsPig''. Wat is the protagonist, his brother the king is the {{deuteragonist}}, and the pig... is present.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Wildfire}}'' is about a young girl, Princess Sara, and her efforts to reclaim her rightful throne. The title refers to a magical talking horse who is sworn to protect her.