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Smurfette Breakout
It's often that many shows feature a bigger ratio of males to females in their characters, with The Smurfette Principle being pretty widespread. However a lot of the time this can work in favor of the female character. Being the only female in a largely male environment makes her stand out and be distinctive from the rest of the show's male characters. If the writers have written her well and avoided most Positive Discrimination, then chances are she will become popular with the viewers. If her popularity rises high enough, she might even become a Breakout Character.

The area in which this is most common is Professional Wrestling. It's a rather frequent occurance for a woman to be introduced as someone's manager or valet, usually for a tag team, and end up becoming more popular than the wrestler they're managing. Often if the team splits, the woman will fare much better because she can be integrated into the women's division while the men will often become lost in the shuffle. It also helps that by nature of the beast, a woman with no athletic or mic skills can easily get over with the male-dominated audience if she has enough sex appeal.

Note that this is not simply about a female becoming a Breakout Character. There must be a majority of males compared to females for this to count. The character need not be the only woman on the show either. See also Ensemble Darkhorse and Breakup Breakout.

Examples:

Film

Live-Action TV

Music
  • Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, though she was The Face Of The Band to begin with. The video for "Don't Speak" shows her taking the spotlight and starring in all the publicity photos, while her three (male) bandmates languish in obscurity.

Puppet Shows
  • In The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy, one of the few female Muppets, was initially only a minor character, but her popularity skyrocketed and she is now probably the most famous of them, along with Kermit.

Professional Wrestling
  • Older Than They Think: The Fabulous Moolah was initially a valet for "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers but eventually branched out on her own and became a pioneer for women's wrestling. She is recognised as the first ever WWE Women's Champion and held it for over twenty years. However, Rogers is still a legend, so she doesn't overshadow him completely.
  • Sable was first Triple H's valet and then Marc Mero's. He was popular in WCW as Johnny B Bad but the WWF fans cared little for Marc Mero and much more for Sable, to the point that this was made into an angle. She was given more attention and storylines and is now recognized as the first true WWE Diva. This also happened to Mero's second valet, Jacqueline, though she didn't become quite as big a star as Sable.
  • Sunny first debuted as the valet for the Bodydonnas. She became much more popular than they did, and was booked as the manager of several different wrestlers (The Godwinns, Farooq Asad, even The Road Warriors briefly). However she was a few years early for the Attitude Era and so wasn't able to reach the popularity level that Sable did.
  • Stacy Keibler. Originally came up in WCW as Miss Hancock, the secretary for Standards & Practices. Eventually broke out and wound up being the only woman NOT to be fired by WCW near the end. In the WWF, she was manager for many wrestlers, and was almost always more popular than the guys she managed.
  • In World Class Championship Wrestling, Hollywood John Tatum was a decent wrestler with poor mic skills. To spice him up, his real-life girlfriend, Missy Hyatt, was promoted to being his valet. She was considered much more interesting than he was and when they moved to the UWF, Missy & John broke up and she got involved with manager/booker/part-time wrestler Eddie Gilbert. Tatum's career flamed out, while Missy went on to working in Memphis, WCW and had brief runs in the WWF and ECW.
  • Remember T&A? Test and Albert? A few people probably do remember them and some probably will remember that they were in a tag team but who was their valet again? Oh yeah...Trish Stratus the 2013 Hall Of Famer.
  • Trish's arch-rival, Lita, benefited from this as well. She debuted as a valet to Essa Rios who was meant to be a pioneer of the Light-Heavyweight division. He ended up lapsing into obscurity (more so than Test and Albert) while Lita became popular with the fans for her high flying moves. She averted this when Team Xtreme broke up, as all three of that group have remained well known.
    • Of course, everyone remembers her being with a certain Rated R Superstar. That and the angle where she was Kane's bitter wife.
    • Even with Team Xtreme, Lita ended up becoming the breakout star in the long run. She's the only member of the stable that is remembered with genuine fondness (mainly due to being Vindicated by History), and was even immortalized into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. The Hardyz are unlikely to ever get that honor due to their personal problems, though the WWE may be willing to overlook that for Jeff Hardy.
  • Anyone remember the team of KC James and Idol Stevens known as the Teacher's Pets? Probably not, but they do remember Michelle McCool, who was their valet and went onto become the first WWE Divas' Champion as well as one of the prominent figures of the women's division - not to mention Mrs. Undertaker.
    • As of 2012, KC James has been released from WWE and is toiling away on the indy circuit. Stevens was sent back to developmental where he was repackaged as Damien Sandow, tore up FCW, and soon earned the attention of WWE's higher-ups as a possible future star. He has since reappeared on WWE main programming in a fairly prominent role and thus has over came this.
  • Happened with MNM, arguably. Joey Mercury got released twice and faded away and John Morrison got stuck in midcard purgatory while Melina broke out on her own and became Women's Champion and was surprisingly popular after her Heel-Face Turn. Still, Morrison was memorable enough that Melina didn't completely overshadow him.
  • Happened again when the Hart Dynasty split. David Hart Smith got released, Tyson Kidd is now mostly competing on NXT, but Natalya got put back into the women's division and pushed to win the title.
  • The British wrestling family of the Knights have five wrestlers, three men and two women. The two women are much more well-known in America. Sweet Saraya has competed with SHIMMER many times and eventually claimed their title while daughter Britani is now Paige in WWE. Paige also became the first ever NXT Women's Champion.
  • For that matter, the Canadian All Knighter's tag team did operate in the USA for awhile and they had a student who became their valet, one Beth Phoenix.
  • Inverted Thuggin And Buggin Enterprises, as Jazz ended up being the most successful member of the group despite being a hanger on to it while they were together but after they were forced apart by the draft, Theodore Long eventually became general manager of Smackdown, Mark Henry eventually became World Heavyweight Champion and Chris Nowinsky's research into concussions would change the way people in the USA looked at sports (and simulated sports) for good. She likely is the most successful of the Impact Players, post breakup, but that group almost had as many women as men (Nicole Bass, Dawn Marie being the other two).
  • Remember ECW dancing machine DJ Gabriel? Well, he lasted only six months in the WWE while his valet Alicia Fox got traded to Smackdown and put into a prominent storyline. She became an Ensemble Darkhorse with Diva fans on the internet and won the Divas' Championship when she was moved to Raw.
  • Though they've never wrestled away from Vince McMahon's thumbs, The Funkadactyl's WWE Career has very much out shined Byron Saxton's, starting when they were paired up with the Funkasaurus Brodus Clay. In 2013 they were chosen to star in the reality series Total Divas - which was an immediate hit while Brodus Clay and Tensai mostly competed on Superstars and in the odd Squash Match. Cameron and Naomi have received prominent spots in the women's division in addition to their managing duties, duties which eventually transitioned to Ron Killings when Brodus was released.
  • If you talk to wrestling fans long enough you just might run into one or two who have a passing familiarity of Cheerleader Melissa, perhaps as the chick fight staple, the multiple time APW Future Legend title holder, a Shimmer Champion, perhaps as the burqua clad Raisha Saeed or zipper happy Alissa Flash in TNA, for that time she was ranked #1 among wrestlers around the world, maybe even as that jobber on Sunday Night Heat but good luck finding anyone who remembers the tag team she used to lead cheers for, the Ballard Brothers.
  • People recall Jillian Hall's WWE run for her ridiculous gimmicks and jobber run but at least they recall. How much less is said of the rest of the Bomb Squad, the stable she used to be a member of (not helped that it shares its name with other wrestling groups)? The same could be said of Jillian's OVW team, the Blonde Bombers, who became the Dicks on Smackdown and the Johnson's on TNA. Who knows her personal referee Whipme Spearz or her former tag team partner Tiny Tim? The male teammates whose fame was not overshadowed by Jillian's were already well established (JBL, London, Kendrick...maybe Orlando Jordan and the Basham Brothers)
  • Among English speaking wrestling fans, Black Rose is easily the best known member of the Dominican Revolution (despite being Puerto Rican). She's also better known in the continental US than her WWC clients Los Fugitivos de la Calle (Niche and Lynx) or El Bronco #1.
  • Yes, Alexander Rusev just debuted on WWE programing in April 2014, but it's obvious that his valet Lana is stealing the spotlight away from him. In fact, when asked what the first think they'd think of when Rusev is brought up, 9 out of 10 people would name his manager. Granted, the fact that Rusev isn't portrayed as being conversant in English doesn't help matters.

Video Games
  • Nina Williams, the only woman to have appeared in every Tekken game, got her own spin-off game titled Death by Degrees based on her assassin background.
  • Chun Li of Street Fighter and Mai Shiranui of Fatal Fury, originally the only female characters in their series, are quite possibly even more popular than the two franchise's true leads, Ryu and Terry. Chun Li is the only character aside from Ryu to have appeared in every Capcom vs. Whatever game and even got her own movie, though people don't like to talk about it.
    • Related to Chun-li, Cammy is the only new character from the expanded editions of Street Fighter (besides Akuma) to appear in several spin-offs including Street Fighter X Tekken. The same also goes for C. Viper and Juri of Street Figher 4.
    • In Street Fighter Alpha, Sakura Kasugano became a case of this. A female fan of Ryu with a similar play style, she became one of the most beloved characters of the spin-off series, to the point where she got her own manga spin-off. The only other Alpha character to prominently feature in other games is Dan.
  • Morrigan Aensland and Felicia (and to a lesser extent, B.B. Hood and Hsien-Ko) from Darkstalkers are a particularly extreme example. They have completely overtaken the male lead, Demitri, almost 100%. Probably because he was a Villain Protagonist who was hard to render in 3D. In, particular, Felicia was advertised as just another monster at the start, and is now way more than that.
  • Poppet from Moshi Monsters, specifically, the pink one that is used as the default color and is classified as female, managed to get popular enough to have a spin-off magazine with new monster friends.

Western Animation
  • Jasmine from Aladdin is a supporting character while the story is about Aladdin, but she is included in the Disney Princess franchise and is actually the only princess in the lineup who isn't the main character in her film.
  • Tinkerbell from Peter Pan got her own spinoff franchise in the Disney Fairies.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power was actually introduced with this in mind.
  • Penelope Pitstop was the only female racer on Wacky Races and got her own spinoff series.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: The Wasp was the only female Avenger during the first season, and went on to become the show's most popular character by far.
  • Cindy Bear, despite having only a handful of appearances in the original Yogi Bear cartoon, seemed to gain more prominent appearances in later revivals and crossover series, likely because she is the nearest to a recurring female character representing the early Hanna-Barbera works. She is among the few supporting characters to compete in Laff-A-Lympics and is a lead character in Yo Yogi!. In both cases she is the only female character in her team.
  • Tak on Invader Zim, despite only actually appearing in one episode, became an Ensemble Darkhorse at least in part because she was a female character who had degrees of Ship Tease with both Zim (whom she was technically dating) and Dib (who admits he "likes" her without specifying how). Other than her, Gaz and Ms. Bitters most of the female characters are just background filler.

Other
  • The Tudor family in English history had five rulers, three men and two women. Elizabeth I is undoubtedly the most famous and iconic of the five, having had the most stories and films made about her. Also, the next best known, Henry VIII, is only really remembered for marrying six different women (and putting a few of them to the axe in the process) or for Herman's Hermits' song about him.
    • Henry VIII also led the English Reformation, the single most important event to occur during the Tudor dynasty, though that was linked to the six women. He was never well liked, which was why he was less popular.
    • If you count Jane Grey, Queen for Nine Days, there were three male and three female rulers during the Tudor era. Also in her day Elizabeth was not quite the Smurfette, being the successor to a ruling queen, her sister Mary I, and finding her legitimacy challenged by another, Mary Queen of Scots. While neighboring France was for a time ruled on behalf of her underage sons by Catherine de Medici. What worked for Elizabeth was a number of factors - she had the longest reign of any Tudor, she never married, she won an epic war against Spain, then the greatest power on Earth, while it is hard to remember what the wars of Henry VIII were about. Not to mention that she had a lot more famous and exciting contemporaries - Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe, Spenser, Drake, Hawkins, Raleigh etc. etc.

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