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
- After the end of Drake & Josh, Miranda Cosgrove moved on to the lead role in iCarly. That show was a massive smash hit for Nickelodeon and propelled her to a level of stardom way beyond what any Nickeoldeon actor had ever had before and likely won't see again for a long time. She eventually became the highest paid 'minor aged' actress on all of television for the last three seasons of the show.
- 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.
- 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.
- Out of the recent season of WWE Tough Enough which featured five female contestants against 11 males, three of the women who were on the show have now been signed by WWE. The (male) winner hasn't even debuted in FCW yet.
- The first woman eliminated became the first one to debut on WWE TV regularly (as one of Brodus Clay's dancers) while winner Andy got released after a few months in developmental.
- 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.
- Sable was first Triple H's valet and then Marc Mero's. The fans cared more about Sable than Mero, and she was given more attention and storylines and is now recognised 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 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.
- 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, so time will tell.
- Happened with MNM, arguably. Joey Mercury got released twice and faded away and John Morrison is permanently 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.
- Happened again when the Hart Dynasty split. David Hart Smith got released, Tyson Kidd is now mostly competing on NXT, but Natalya Neidhart 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.
- Inverted Thuggin And Buggin Enterprises, as Jazz ended up being the most successful member of the group despite being a hanger on to it but after they were forced apart by the draft, Theodore Long eventually became general manager of Smackdown and Mark Henry eventually became World Heavyweight Champion.
- Remember ECW dancing machine DJ Gabriel? Well, he lasted only six months in the WWE while his valet Alicia Fox became one of the WWE's most popular Divas and is still with the WWE as of 2012.
- 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 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.
- Morrigan Aensland and Felicia 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.