So, you're watching a new movie and you instantly recognize the guy playing the hero's best friend — he's Bob Smith from your favorite TV show! Wait just a second, you think, you've heard a lot about this movie and you had no idea that he was in it. Why not? It's not like he's appearing in a bit part.
Well, it may be because he was effectively unpersoned by the marketing campaign. He wasn't in the trailer, he doesn't have his own action figure and he's not on the poster. But everyone else from the movie is. For some reason, the marketing department has apparently decided that he's Sir Not Appearing In This Trailer.
Usually used purposefully to preventspoilers. Sometimes occurs due to a legal issue with the actor. The typical result is that anyone who absorbs the movie through Popcultural Osmosis will not know the character exists.
This trope is named after the aptly named "Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film" who failed to appear in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Contrast Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game, as video games tend to have the exact opposite problem. Compare Dead Star Walking, where an apparently major character is quickly killed for dramatic effect.
To be fair, they did have cameos in the Pretty Cure All Stars movies, but it seems that once it shifted to the New Stage series of films, they were tossed right out, along with other cameo-making characters like Bunbee.
The same thing happens in the Post Episode Trailer of episode 8. Episode nine is titled "Claire Stanfield Successfully Completes the Mission", but most of the clips in the trailer focus on Rachel, which helps to hide Claire's identity again. And once again, he does make a small appearance in the trailer — his is the face shown right at the start of it covered in shadows and blood. Yeah, he's like that.
The focus on Rachel becomes another bit of Fridge Brilliance when you realize that the withholding of Rachel's name up to that point combined with Claire's Gender-Blender Name make it easy for new viewers to assume that Rachel is the Claire in the episode title.
The opening credits of Tytania leave out the ostensible protagonist Admiral Fan Hyulick, his entire band of supporting characters, and his love interest entirely.
ADV Films' trailer for Cyberteam In Akihabara almost completely leaves out the Divas (arguably one of the more memorable elements of the series): the main character's Diva form only appears briefly, and the character's voiceover doesn't make note of it at all.
Rei Ryugazaki from Free! isn't as well-known as the other four main leads due to being added onto the character roster after the original commercial had aired, effectively missing out on the pre-release hype.
The trailer for Pokémon The Series: XY ignores the TRio (Jessie, James, and Meowth, respectively), in favor of Ash, his friends, his mother, and his Pokémon (including Pikachu).
Inverted and parodied in the Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Movie trailer, where Bakura is credited as "Sir not appearing in this film." Sure enough, he is not in the movie (briefly), as he is making Zorc and Pals: The Movie.
Film - Animated
Vidia in Disney Fairies, especially in regards to the Tinker Bell movie. Although she is the main antagonist in the movie and an antisocial antihero in the novels, she hasn't appeared in any of the trailers for the movie, had a briefer-than-brief scene in a sneak peek on ABC, and has very little merchandise, all of which appeared at the launch of the line, leaving her none whatsoever for the movie.
The trailers for WALL•E were full of cute robots mooning for their girlfriends, but rather lacking in the person who spent most of his considerable screen time on getting humanity back on track — the Captain. This was deliberate, of course. The morbidly obese appearance of what's left of Humanity was meant to be shocking to the audience, so spoiling it in the trailers would have made very little sense.
None of the Toy Story 3 trailers include Bonnie, the little girl whose mother works at the daycare, despite Andy giving Woody and his friends to Bonnie in the final scene. As a result, the third trailer could make some people believe that her triceratops and Totoro dolls live at the daycare.
In the trailers for Tangled, Big Bad Mother Gothel isn't featured in any of the trailers except for a split second in the second official one.
Early trailers also extensively tried to make it look like Flynn Rider was the lead, with much made of how smarmy and how well he could say a one liner. Rapunzel, by contrast, gets one line (of three words) in most of the trailers and ads. This was because Disney didn't like how much money The Princess and the Frog made (it did well, but not the stratospheric levels they wanted), and blamed it on how "girly" it was; therefore, while acknowledging that Rapunzel was in it, they pushed Rider to appeal to boys.
The trailers for Cars 2 for some reason actually do not show Miles Axlerod anywhere at all, making Professor Z look like the film's Big Bad. In the actual movie, Axlerod is the Big Bad, and Professor Z is The Dragon.
The first trailer for DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians is missing Jack Frost, intended as the film's viewpoint character. In fact, it's apparently to the point where Jack has been edited out of shots he appears in the actual film, presumably to focus on getting across the premise of a Holiday flavored superhero team. Given a lot of Jack's angst comes from nobody acknowledging he exists, it's a pretty neat coincidence.
According to a theatrical trailer of A Goofy Movie, Bobby is more important to the plot than Pete, and PJ doesn't appear at all. In reality, Pete and PJ play a somewhat prominent (though less than on the show, Goof Troop) role in the plot, meeting up with the Goofs before the trip, at the first campground, and at the hotel. Bobby is only at the beginning and the very end, and is there mainly for comic relief, with only one real contribution to the plot (that PJ helped with). The trailer for the sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie shows a decent amount of all of the protagonists, but is lacking in Bradley, the main antagonist of the movie, although this was probably done to prevent spoiling that he was actually a bad guy and not just a rival.
The "woodcarver" lady in Brave does not appear in any trailer and is hardly featured on any posters, except a Japanese one. Kind of funny considering she sets off the entire plot in the first place. (In fact, the plot itself is notably absent from the trailers, since Queen Elinor only appears as a human. The trailers suggest the film is just about Merida not wanting to be betrothed.)
King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph gets shockingly little screentime in the trailers. Okay, you don't want to give away the twist but throughout the entire movie, he is a crucial figure, which can be rather shocking. Really crucial.
The earliest trailers for Frozen focused exclusively on the comic relief side characters Olaf and Sven and barely showed the human leads. The later trailers did focus more on the actual main characters, however.
Film - Live Action
The Emperor in Return of the Jedi. He's been treated more kindly since the prequels came out, but the original promotion of Jedi in 1983 seemed to go out of its way to ignore his existence. He didn't show up on any of the posters (in fact, one poster shows his throne room without his chair) and the trailers only ever showed Darth Vader or Jabba the Hutt when a word like "evil" or "villain" was mentioned. Presumably, the marketing department wanted to continue portraying Darth Vader as the Big Bad and the existence of the Emperor kind of got in the way.
Reversed with the Revenge of the Sith marketing, which did feature a heavy emphasis on the Emperor. Similarly reversed in the same marketing campaign with Darth Vader, who became THE posterchild for the film, despite only actually showing up in his classic appearance for two short scenes at the end (one of which is infamous).
Anthony Mackie in The Adjustment Bureau has third billing, but you wouldn't know he's in the film from its advertising.
They were likely banking on audience recognition of John Slattery.
Nathaniel in Enchanted. The trailer shows Giselle, Prince Edward and Queen Narissa come out of the manhole and then goes on to show several Fish out of Water scenes with only them. This despite the fact that Nathaniel is pursuing Giselle through New York for most of the movie and Narissa herself comes through only at the end.
Possibly because if the audience did see him, they'd shout out "Hey, what's PeterPettigrew doing there?"
Charlize Theron's character in Hancock was completely absent from the original trailers, as was any indication that Hancock was not a one of a kind superhero. Thus, when the ads for the DVD came out showing her and her role, many people who hadn't seen the movie thought it looked like a completely different movie.
Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs is conspicuously absent from most posters, some of which even say 'Five men...' instead of six. Also, Joe and Nice Guy Eddie (because they don't fit the naming convention) often aren't in posters that contain much more minor characters, Mr. Brown and sometimes Blue, who do fit.
The original UK quad not only has Mr. Blue on the poster, but Nice Guy Eddie as well (wearing the trademark suit that the other characters wear rather than the tracksuit he wears throughout the film). The only character not seen on this poster is Joe.
A deliberate example is Kevin Spacey as the killer in Se7en, who was excluded from all promotional material and even the opening credits to avoid giving away his identity before he appears.
Spacey himself insisted on the anonymity prior to the film's release. He made no mention of his involvement with the film until after it was released. The producers had wanted him to have top billing. Dedication to his craft indeed.
He eventually does get top billing in the end credits, but that's pretty consistent since it's about as far from the advertising stage as you can get.
There is very little footage of Ozymandias in any of the trailers for the film adaptation of Watchmen. This is because 90% of his scenes are after he is revealed as The Chessmaster.
In the movie Earthquake, there is a scene in a bar where a drunk is talking, and it turns out to be Walter Matthau, but because of contractual obligations, they can't refer to him directly, so in the credits he's called Walter Matuschanskayasky, supposedly his real name, but in fact it wasn't and this spawned its own urban legend.
Many trailers of The Dark Knight went to great lengths to avoid mentioning that Harvey Dent became Two-Face in that movie, leading many fans to assume he was being set up as the Big Bad of the next one.
Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) does not appear at all in the trailer for Batman Returns, even though he is directly responsible for Selina Kyle becoming Catwoman and the Penguin's main scheme for a good portion of the movie was originally his idea. This undoubtedly left many moviegoers confused when they actually saw the film and saw Shreck being set up as almost the main antagonist in the earliest scenes. Not that it was all that difficult for the trailers to ignore his existence, since Shreck really does disappear during the movie's entire second act as the Penguin takes center stage and is only very elliptically referred to by the other characters, only to abruptly reappear for the third act and once again assume a prominent role.
Executive Producer Mel Brooks deliberately kept his name away from the ads for David Lynch's The Elephant Man and David Cronenberg's The Fly, out of fear that people would get the wrong idea about the movies in question. When his involvement in The Fly became public knowledge, he made the most of it and attended the premiere passing out plastic antennae. Boy, was that audience in for a surprise.
Tom Cruise only appears in Tropic Thunder trailers from after the film's wide release. Ben Stiller wanted him to be a surprise for audiences when they recognised him. He said in interviews that he was disappointed that reviewers and critics gave the game away. While this was a letdown on the filmmaking side, the giveaway that Cruise was in the movie played a big role in its success.
Kung Fu Panda - In the trailers, Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman received no credit for his role as 2nd lead Master Shifu.
Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean. After all, who wants to see a stuffy British officer in a movie about pirates? Other than the fangirls, that is. He was downplayed in the first three films, yet served as a secondary/important villain in the first two, and had a Heel-Face Turn in the third.
One actor's appearance in the second film was given away by IMDB, of all places, which listed him in the cast credits. He has roughly 10 seconds of screen time in that film. It's Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, who was resurrected at the end of the second film, to the surprise of even the second film's main actors.
Elmer Fudd in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. He is a fairly prominent character in the film, but instead of showing him in the cover or any promotional material, apparently the artists felt Tweety and the Road Runner, both of whom barely appear in the film, had to be in it.
Both viable candidates for the role of protagonist in Inglourious Basterds — Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) and Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) — are entirely eclipsed in trailers by Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine, who has both less screen time and a less important role in the plot of the movie than either of them. The only other important characters, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) and the English agent Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), also fail to appear.
Hans Landa may be the character that appears most in the film, but that's just because he's the antagonist to all of the multiple protagonists. He, himself, is most definitely not a protagonist. Both Bridget and Shoshanna do appear in the trailers, but yes, they're entirely eclipsed by Aldo.
Amanda Seyfriedis billed prominently in the ads for Jennifers Body, but the entire focus of the advertising campaign was put on Megan Fox (she was the only person who appeared in the posters), making it look as though Seyfried's character was only a supporting role, as opposed to the film's protagonist. Although slasher movie promotion traditionally focuses its marketing on the monster, and not on the victims that are technically the protagonists.
Alex, the character in The Big Chill who commits suicide, is only seen with slit wrists. All of his scenes in the movie that were performed by Kevin Costner, were dropped from the film.
Kick-Ass seems to be an interesting case of this. From the trailer you'd think Red Mist was a fairly minor character, as he was in the comic. However, the movie actually fleshed him out far more, and gave him a lot of screen time to himself.
And both he and Bruce Williswere mentioned on the British posters, even though they both appear in the same cameo and aren't mentioned on the movie's credits!
Also, the sequel. While Jet Li's name appears in the poster and in the credits, his character (Yin Yang) only appears in the first 10 minutes or so before being Put on a Bus. The token Asian teammate position for the rest of the movie of the team is filled by Asian actress Yu Nan (playing Maggie Chan)... who didn't appear in the trailers or the poster.
For the advertising of the 2009 Star Trek film, McCoy seemed to get little attention at all despite being the third piece of the Holy Trinity of Trek. Instead, they seemed to give all his advertisement time to Zoe Saldana's Uhura. Don't worry, however — good ol' Bones did have a substantial role in the film after all.
Leonard Nimoy was also left out of the trailers and the posters. Of course, the whole point was that his appearance was supposed to be a surprise.
While Dileep Rao appeared in the group poster, had one line in the trailer, most people didn't know he was in Inception, because his name failed to appear in the billing. This was despite the fact that he was the Chemist, without which the entire heist that Cobb planned would have been impossible. More than one fan felt that he got shafted.
In the posters for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, they consistently show the seven evil exes - and leave off Scott Pilgrim whenever they can. It's believed that after a few obvious flops (like Year One which was made after Scott Pilgrim, but released first) they considered Michael Cera box-office poison, and tried to hide him.
Not all that unexpected. She wasn't really a star yet when Talladega Nights was released, she didn't get famous until Enchanted came out a year later.
Adams had just been nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Junebug and had been in other films before then (such as Catch Me If You Can) while Bibb's best known role was in the short-lived series Popular so it is unusual that an actress who was beginning to get a lot of notice was completely left out of the marketing campaign.
In the sequel to The Boondock Saints, Willem Dafoe's character is mentioned early on as having died recently. As it turned out, he faked his own death, but we don't find this out until nearly the very end of the movie. Not only did they avoid putting Dafoe in any promotional material, but they made a big deal of how they had wanted him to return for the sequel but he had declined, making the quick early reference to his death look like their cheap way out of not having his character in the movie.
The original trailer and promotional material for TRON: Legacy went out of their way to avoid indicating who or what the villain of the film would be. It wasn't revealed until a few weeks before the film was released that Flynn's A.I. doppelganger CLU would be the Big Bad, and that was only after the release of the tie-in comic book Tron: Betrayal and video game Tron: Evolution which made it pretty explicit that Clu would be the movie's villain.
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland More a case of 'Sir Not Appearing In This Poster'; anyone who only saw the advertising campaign would think that it was basically 'Johnny Depp Plays a Weird Guy in a Hat: The Movie'.
Nicole Kidman has been left off of all marketing on Just Go With It due to her current status as box office poison. Rather, more of the focus has been placed on newcomer Brooklyn Decker.
Another case of 'Sir Not Appearing On This Poster' is The Dilemma. One would not even know that it is an ensemble film with Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah and Channing Tatum in the cast (instead, the poster just shows Vince Vaughn and Kevin James grinning).
Probably because she's played by not-a-name actress Greta Gerwig, the trailer for the Russell Brand-led Arthur remake barely includes her character — even though she's the Man Child title character's Love Interest. Instead, the trailer gives priority to his relationships with the woman he doesn't want to marry (Jennifer Garner) and his nanny (Helen Mirren), both of whom also appear on the poster and get higher billing.
Blades of Glory tended to overlook the Van Waldenbergs in their advertisements. This was despite them being the main villains and Love Interest of the movie and all three being played by relatively well-known and funny actors.
In an even stranger case, some TV and online ads left out Jon Heder despite being the film's second billed actor.
Brian Cox in RED. He didn't appear in any of the trailers or posters but plays a very large and significant role in the movie.
Especially since he also fits the bill (i.e. Retired Extremely Dangerous), even though he's not actually retired.
Bill Murray originally never appeared in any of the original trailers of Tootsie. Only when the film hit premium cable and video stores did subsequent trailers depict his character.
All of the promotional material for Thor left out major supporting characters like Lady Sif (except for one brief shot) and two-thirds of the Warriors Three (except for Hogun, who did and said the least). Even Asgard itself may qualify because almost all of the trailers made it look likevery little of the plot took place there.
Loki appeared in only one or two shots in just about all of the trailers and TV spots for Thor, even though he became the film's main villain. This may have contributed to how Loki became this movie's (and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's) Ensemble Darkhorse—people simply had very few (or very low) expectations for him and were presently surprised with the results.
Kevin Bacon is barely in any of the promotional materials for X-Men: First Class despite having a prominent role as the main villain of the film. He's barely recognizable on the very crowded poster and doesn't seem to be in any trailers or commercials.
Likewise with R.I.P.D., where Bacon plays the main villain and is entirely absent from the trailers.
A reversal of this occurs in the trailer for Crazy Stupid Love. Bacon appears at the very end of the trailer but no mention is made of what his role in the film is.
Robin Williamswanted his animated character Genie to be underemphasized in promotions for Aladdin, because he had done the voicework for less money than usual for someone of his stature, and didn't want them to disproportionately profit from it. However, Disney did not follow the contract he made with them, and the use of celebrity voices in animated films became an industry staple from about that point onward.
Inverted with Takers; Zoe Saldanadoes appear in the trailer but she isn't billed, despite being one of the biggest names in the film!
Chris Messina is in none of the trailers for Devil, despite being the star of the film, and the only name as of its release. Instead, the main focus is placed on the action in the elevator and its cast of unknowns and character actors.
Inversion: while it may not be a person per se, the USS Voyager from Star Trek: Voyager is almost a character on its show. She appeared in several teaser trailers for Star Trek: First Contact (which is based on a previous Star Trek show), despite not appearing in the film at all. Not to mention that her trailer scenes were especially made just for the trailer.
The trailers and promotional media for Transformers: Dark Of The Moon made it seem as Shockwave was the film's main villain. Then again, it must have helped Sentinel Prime's Face-Heel Turn to become a twist (the character only appeared in the teaser trailer, with no clear indication of who he was). What's interesting about the teaser trailer is that Sentinel Prime sports a golden body armor, but in the film his armor is red. This may have either been because they were still unsure about Sentinel's appearance or that they deliberately re-colored him to keep his identity ambiguous.
Speaking of the teaser, while every other member of the Avengers were shown, the Hulk was absent. Bruce Banner appeared in a few shots, though. This is likely due to the fact that the movie wasn't finished filming by that point and the special effects were not ready.
In both the teaser and the first full trailer, Loki's mystery-army is absent, although there are several shots of people reacting to it coming to Earth, making it all the more mysterious. This was likely done on purpose to continue the speculation surrounding it.
The cover of the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack does not have Nick Fury, Black Widow, or Hawkeye on it, even though they do appear on the theatrical poster (recycled for the 3-D Blu-Ray cover and the thumbnail of the digital copies) and the Vanilla Edition DVD cover.
Sort of happens in New Year's Eve. Depending on the commercial, Sarah Jessica Parker's part was downplayed. Also, there are so many characters and cameos in the movie (because of the All-Star Cast) that quite a few of them never make it into the commercials.
Michael Anganaro was noticeably absent from pretty much all promotional material for The Forbidden Kingdom. Which happened to annoy a fair share of viewers, who didn't expect and didn't welcome the Mighty Whitey in a movie promoted as "Starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li''.
The trailers for Pain and Gain do not show Michael Rispoli's character, who is a major part of the film's third act. In fact, the magazine that covered the original story (The Miami New Times) the film is based on actually thought that the film reduced the two crimes into one based on the trailers.
Olivia Wilde isn't in the trailer for Her (while Rooney Mara, who only appears in flashbacks, is given heavy emphasis).
On Doctor Who in the 1980s, The Master would often be disguised in his plots against the Doctor. Since the show was serialized at the time, it would often be the case that the disguise hadn't been revealed to the audience prior to the end of part one. As a result, a pseudonym would be used in the credits for actor Anthony Ainley.
Rory was omitted from the trailer and cast list for the series 5 finale to keep his resurrection a secret.
While the audience were aware that Jenna-Louise Coleman was cast as Clara, the trailers for "Asylum of the Daleks" purposefully left out any scenes of her appearing as "Oswin", in order to surprise the audience and make her death even more unexpected.
Although technically not a trailer, copies of the Series 4 opener, "Partners in Crime" sent to media for review omitted a scene in which Rose Tyler appears; although actress Billie Piper's return to the series had already been spoiled in the press, her wordless cameo in the first episode managed to arrive spoiler-free, in part due to her scene being omitted.
Although it had been well-reported that John Hurt would be appearing in the 50th anniversary special buy the time this aired, what was not announced was that Hurt would also appear in "The Name of the Doctor."
Tom Baker and Peter Capaldi's cameos in "The Day of the Doctor".
Karen Gillan was not mentioned at all in the promotional material for the 2013 Christmas special "The Time of the Doctor". Her character, Amy Pond, appeared at the very end to say goodbye to the Doctor
The trailer for season 4 of Heroes curiously leaves out any scenes of Mohinder, despite being rather long and featuring every other main character prominently (plus several new ones) and the actor confirming that he's returning. This gives the overall impression he's not part of the season.
He appeared eventually, dead three months before the start of the events of the new season. He got better.
The presence of Angel Coulby (Guinevere) in Merlin trailers and promotional material is always played down, leading to some Unfortunate Implications considering she's the only non-white main character. However, it would seem that those in charge of this sort of thing are finally starting to make an effort to include her: in 2012 she finally appears on the cover of the DVD, her character finally becomes an action-figure, and she was invited to Comic Con for the first time in 2012. It would seem that her upgrade in status on the show (Guinevere is crowned queen at the end of series 4) means more attention paid to the actress.
However, this may have simply been because she didn't really have much focus until she became Arthur's Love Interest in Series 2, but still didn't really qualify as one of the major players like Arthur, Merlin or Morgana until after she becomes The High Queen in Series 5.
Many of the Fraggle Rock DVD releases from Hit! Entertainment don't include Mokey on the covers, despite her being one of the main five Fraggles. One cover even removed Mokey from an image she was originally part of. This might be because Mokey is literally the least colorful of all the Fraggles, looking almost like an old woman with gray hair, and thus the character least likely to make kids want the video.
To further explain, Cena was sideline by an injury three months earlier and was supposed to be gone for at least six months (Wrestlemania time). He came in, completely healed and at number 30, completely shocking everyone off of their seats!
Inverted in the case of SummerSlam 2013: the DVD cover immediately gives away the surprise ending! (Especially annoying because that pay-per-view technically had three surprise endings, and the cover gives them all away!)
None of the advertisements for The Lion King musical show Timon, Pumbaa, or the hyenas.
Cirque du Soleil tends to downplay or leave out its shows' clowns in advertisements in favor of focusing on the glamorous and attractive acrobats/dancers.
Auto in Mega Man 9 does not appear in the character lists of said game in either the official American or Japanese sites. Ironically, while Auto is featured and described in the Wii Operations Guide, Eddie and Beat are not, and no personal information on the Robot Masters was provided. As for non-appearances in an actual trailer, there's Hornet Man, whose silhouette never appears in this video.
Mega Man Powered Up, a remake of a game that had only six Robot Masters, promoted the fact that there are two new bosses added to the game, while in reality there were actually three new bosses. Granted, the unmentioned boss was a Warm-Up Boss that doesn't even show up in the Boss Rush challenges, but still...
When Super Smash Bros.. Brawl was first revealed, the normal form of Samus that has been in the previous two games appeared briefly to perform her Final Smash. Apart from her character artwork, no other media featuring Samus in this form was released until the Smash Bros. Dojo finally put up her profile. Take a look at this movie, which was released between the first movie and the Dojo update in question. Do you see any trace of Samus in a Power Suit anywhere? Didn't think so.
Relatedly, when the Dojo was relaunched in May 2007, Snake was not featured anywhere on the site, with the exception of E3 and Nintendo World 2006 videos. This means that new media of Snake was not released until Konami decided to show off footage of Snake in Brawl in a conference.
And now, for Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U, this has fallen to Yoshi. He is the only one of the original 8 characters to not appear in any of the new trailers.
Back when they unveiled Melee to the public at E3 2001, they showed off the entire starting roster... except for Zelda. Or rather Zelda in her Princess form, as the early previews only showed her Sheik disguise as being playable. It wasn't until near release that the dual-character nature was revealed.
The only Elite Beat Agents seen in advertising (and Super Smash Bros. Brawl) were J, Derek, Morris, and Commander Kahn. Who would have guessed that there would still be Agent Spin, Agent Chieftain, and the Elite Beat Divas squad?
To be fair, Chieftain and the Divas are both secret unlockable characters.
Yuri was left out of original trailers for Shadow Hearts: Covenant, with edited scenes showing Nicolai in his place instead.
In Assassin's Creed I, Desmond Miles, the real-life protagonist is never shown in gameplay trailers or game footage for any installments of the series, though this is partly because his part of the game is purely exposition and that it's still technically a twist if you haven't played the first game yet. That was part of the game's mystique: the original trailers showing Altair would suddenly distort and get static from the Animus, hinting that there was more to the game than first appeared.
Though Kristen Bell accidentally spoiled the big reveal in some pre-release interviews.
The novelizations of the games run with this, focusing on the past characters and completely ignoring the Animus and Desmond, even changing a few scenes (like Minerva calling Desmond by name) to focus on the assassin part of the franchise.
For the longest time, Garrus Vakarian was this for Mass Effect 2. He wasn't shown in any videos or screenshots outside of when you meet him on Omega for the first time. This to preserve the surprise that he gets half his face blown off shortly after you recruit him. While he's since been shown in screenshots for subsequent DLC... he still doesn't have an official biography on the official website, despite the game being out for several years.
Apparently Bioware decided to make up for it in Mass Effect 3, as early screenshots of all new DLC tended to heavily showcase Garrus in action and he was one of only three characters given an alternate appearance pack.
The promotional material for the Leviathan DLC does not depict the Leviathan at all, while implying that it's a rogue Reaper. It's actually one of the last survivors of the race of gigantic sea-creatures who came before the Reapers, who were made in their image.
Speaking of Dark Dawn, Rief didn't make any appearance in the early promo art, and Tyrell and Karis were redesigned between the promo art and the game's release.
Advertising for Portal 2 focuses almost exclusively on Atlas and P-body, and Chell only gets the final released trailer in the spotlight. Atlas and P-body star in the co-op campaign that chonologically takes place after the main single-player game, and Chell doesn't even meet them until the end of her story.
Wheatley doesn't appear in any promotional material, despite being a major character.
Japanese previews of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn kept secret the fact that Ike and the Griel Mercanaries were going to return in the game.
In Halo the Flood and the Gravemind, despite being major enemies they never appear in any of the trailers.
In the Mann VS Machine trailer for Team Fortress 2, the Pyro, Sniper, and Spy are absent.
Jowd, a character from Ghost Trick, appears in no promotional art created for the game. He's treated much the same way as a Walking Spoiler, despite not qualifying as one.
Played ridiculously straight in Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-KIMIA when only 2 protagonists were mentioned in the trailer post out of the more than 10 characters who exist in the web serial.
Inverted (or arguably just played straight, considering Monty Python) by the YGOTASmovie trailer
Tess the Succubus is almost everywhere in artwork concerning The Demon Mages—her face is even the logo for their Character Blog. Even so, she has yet to appear in the comic.
The week that Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics premiered, TV Guide's print ad showed Jeannie (from her 1973 CBS cartoon) and Josie and the Pussycats as members of the Scooby Doobies team. All of which did not appear on the show due to clearance issues with their rights holders (Columbia Pictures, Radio Comics).
The promotions for the Futurama episode "Neutopia" got a lot of mileage out of the gender bent Planet Express crew, though what wasn't shown was their genderless forms beforehand. A bunch of minor characters also get subjected to the gender changes, but their forms aren't shown either.
Despite being portrayed as being major characters in the show's plot, neither Lugnut nor Sari Sumdac appear in the Japanese opening for Transformers Animated.
The original British title of The Pirates! Band of Misfits was The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, and the British trailer prominently features Charles Darwin, who is one of the main characters. Not only does Darwin disappear entirely from the American trailer, but the word "scientists" is excised from the title entirely. Apparently, science just isn't box office draw in the United States.
The back covers for the Garfield and Friends Volume 5 sets contains pictures for each episode. However, unlike episodes such as Catch As Cats Can't, which showed an image with Ludloaf in it, none of the pictures for Kevin Meaney's episodes show his character, Aloysius Pig! Instead the pictures they showed were Roy with all his feathers off and Wade asking for "a tasty mint" for "Temp Trouble", Orson as Edmond sitting in a prison cell, and Lanolin as Little Miss Muffet sitting with Orson as a spider. Since Aloysius was voiced by a well known comedian, why were they scared to show him in any of the DVD pictures?
Ultimate Spider-Man only has one of the five main characters, Spider-Man, on the cover of its first DVD released through Disney, with the rest of the space taken up by (albeit more well-known) characters that only appear in one or two episodes. No doubt this happened as a testament to how few fans the other four main characters earned.
The season two finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was about a sweet, charming wedding between a soon-to-be prince and a princess while the sister of the groom comes to terms with the fact that the fiance isn't the same nice babysitter she knew when she was young. That's what the trailers advertised, right? Until the princess is revealed to actually be Queen Chrysalis, a shapeshiftingEmotion Eater who comes right the hell out of nowhere with an invading army of insect zombie succubus ponies, curb stomps Princess Celestia and lays siege to Canterlot while the ponies fight to rescue the real Princess and save the entire kingdom. What was promised to be a straightforward (and boring) wedding episode instead introduced a genuinely cool and threatening villain, complete with a kick ass Villain Song, much to the delight of fans everywhere.
None of the Muppet Babies video releases from 1993-1994 feature Rowlf, Scooter, or Skeeter on the video packaging.