"Shadows are in reality, when the sun is shining, the most conspicuous thing in a landscape, next to the highest lights."This is when one creator or character is pushed out of the spotlight and another member of the team gets all the credit. Distinct from Lesser Star, where equal credit is given for unequal work. This trope is about equal work that results in unequal credit. Compare with Breakup Breakout. Compare Overshadowed by Awesome and Always Second Best where the person in the spotlight REALLY is better than the person in the shadows.
— John Ruskin
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger serves as an example in Tiger & Bunny's Show Within a Show, HeroTV. While they do about the same amount of work as a hero team, it's Barnaby Brooks Jr. that gets all the publicity, interviews, photoshoots, fans and credit. This is taken to its logical conclusion in the thirteenth episode when Kotetsu pulls a Batman Gambit that allows Barnaby to take down Ouroboros terrorist Jake Martinez, and the public completely ignores his contribution to the fight. He's naturally a bit annoyed by this.
- In-universe example in Berserk: despite being instrumental in many battles throughout the hundred-year-war, most of the public do not know Guts's name, or indeed that of anyone in the Band of the Hawk outside their leader, Griffith. Everyone that meets him, friend or foe, is merely pulled along by his charisma and into the currents of his own mighty dream. This eventually causes Guts to leave the group entirely, as he feels he can never truly discover himself as long as he is within Griffith's shadow.
- Marx Brothers: Groucho and Harpo Marx have always been the most prominent names in the group. If you're lucky they may remember Chico too. The one that everyone forgets is Zeppo (though, granted he only appeared in their movies until Duck Soup (1933) and was usually the straight member.)
- Wayne's World is named after Wayne, however, Garth is no less important in the scheme of things, gets about equal screen time, and provides just as many memorable lines.
- An in-movie example occurs as a running gag in Monsters, Inc.. Whenever Mike appears in the media he is always covered up by something, like the barcode of a magazine or the company logo in a commercial, or in the prequel where his student ID photo cut off at his forehead. (Meanwhile, Sullivan is always front and center.) Whenever this happens, Mike initially appears shocked but then talks excitedly about being in print/on TV/being a college student, never even noticing the unfortunate circumstances.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: Ask most people to name all the members of Monty Python and you're bound to hear John Cleese first, then Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and maybe Terry Gilliam, but Graham Chapman and to a lesser extent Terry Jones are only known primarily by Pythons' fans. There is a bit of historical irony here, because John Cleese (who formed one of the writer teams with Graham Chapman) felt that he was doing all the work and Chapman was getting all the attention.
- HBO has launched several popular shows in the 2010s, but all of them have languished in the colossal shadow of the pop-cultural phenomenon that is Game of Thrones.
- Most people seem to think Macklemore is a solo artist, and not part of a duo. Ryan Lewis is the producer, but most people aren't sure what he does, and few people aside from Macklemore's biggest fans really know anything about him other than his name. The fact that Macklemore is the face of most of the music videos, often the only one present (if Lewis is present, he's mainly in the background), further proves this. The cover for the "Downtown" single even puts Macklemore's front and center; Lewis is crammed in with the many credited guest artists.
- The Three Tenors have sometimes been referred to as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, and "that other guy".
- John Deacon of Queen is usually thought of as "the other one" compared to the more outgoing, Large Ham members of the band. Actually, in almost any other band he would have been Lead Bassist (Type A), but as it happened he worked with people who just wouldn't be outdone. Still, he penned several of their big hits, and contributed enormously to the songs he didn't write: Brian May says that after his retirement, Queen lacks a kind of magic that Deacon used to bring.
- John Entwistle of The Who, regarded by many as the greatest bass player of all time, is certainly a lot better-known than the bassists of most famous bands, but still nowhere near as famous as Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey or Keith Moon.
- John McVie, the bassist for Fleetwood Mac, is probably the least known member of the group in spite of being half of its namesake and one of only two members who have been in the band since it started, especially compared to singer-songwriters Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, original bandleader Peter Green and co-group namer Mick Fleetwood.
- Ask any person about who was in Nirvana and they will pretty much forget Krist Novoselic. While Kurt Cobain is easily the band's most famous member (Dead Artists Are Better may have had something to do with it), Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters and escaped what would have otherwise been a fade into obscurity.
- John Paul Jones, the bassist (noticing a theme?) of Led Zeppelin.
- Though he did like being able to walk around cities without being recognized while the rest of the band couldn't leave their hotel room without being mobbed by fans, since most people didn't know what he looked like.
- This is also a general philosophy of many bass players, that you should play in such a way that it provides a framework for the guitarist, singer, and keyboardist to do their stuff without distracting the audience. Essentially if you're doing your job well no one knows you're there, until you flub, disconnect from the mix, what have you, and then your absence is immediately noted. See this video of Franz Ferdinand.
- Blue Cheer is considered one of the pioneering Heavy Metal bands alongside Black Sabbath. However, outside the metal community (and even within) they're almost completely unheard of compared to Sabbath. This is despite the fact that they're the first American band to play metal.
- Of "The Jackson Five", Michael Jackson was obviously the most famous. Ask who the other four members are, and most could get Jermaine, Tito, and Marlon. Poor Jackie Jackson.
- Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order. Not as well known as front-man Bernard Sumner or Bassist Peter Hook, they even called their spin-off band "The Other Two."
- On a more macro level, there's are entire swaths of musicians that aren't talked about. Who plays the instruments during a Backstreet Boys concert? Who wrote Céline Dion's hits? Who records, mixes, engineers Katy Perry? What is a Record Producer? These people provide contributions to the music industry that are absolutely vital, but it's an easy bet that the average troper reading this entry hasn't once spared them a thought.
- Electronic producers like David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Avicii, and Zedd have largely averted this by being credited on all of their hits. Avicii in particular has avoided high profile guest vocalists, to the point of not even crediting the vocalists he does work with.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's band is a case where some might know, if only because it's the same since the 80s.
- Guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police were largely overshadowed by bassist/singer/songwriter Sting. Oddly enough, whilst they didn't receive the same individual credit, the band as a whole was far more popular than Sting's solo career.
- Operatic librettists. Traditionally, operas were written in two stages: a librettist would write the libretto (Italian: little book) containing the script and lyrics, and then basically hawk it out to a composer, who would set the whole thing to music. Also traditionally, the composer would be listed as the creator of the work, with the librettist listed as a secondary figure, and usually known only to opera buffs. There are only two well-known exceptions to this: W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan, and Richard Wagner, who wrote his own librettos.
- Aerosmith is divided by fans into the Toxic Twins (frontman Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry) and the Less Interesting Three or LI3 (rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer).
- Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel, to the point of being the former Trope Namer for Lesser Star. It was renamed to keep Real Life examples off the page, but it's just as well because Garfunkel wasn't actually an example of that trope, but rather this one—and, even then, mostly by virtue of Paul Simon's Breakup Breakout.
- Alex Lifeson of Rush is as talented at Neil Peart and Geddy Lee but still gets this. A rare example of the lead guitarist being less memorable than the drummer and bassist.
- Nearly everyone who's performed with Eric Clapton. Ginger Baker of Cream has somewhat escaped this, and Steve Winwood and Duane Allman are famous for other projects as well, but most of the others are mostly known for performing with Clapton, despite often being quite talented in their own right. (Ironically, Jack Bruce of Cream was better known than Clapton during the band's initial period of activity, but Clapton had a massive Breakup Breakout).
- To an extext, Pantera bassist Rex Brown is often forgotten among his former band-mates, becoming specially obscure after the break-up of Pantera, as he did not side with either Phil Anselmo nor Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul in their feud.
- Rage Against the Machine has an excellent, almost jazzy rhythm section in Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk; however, they are both largely overshadowed by Zack de la Rocha, who in turn is overshadowed by Tom Morello, primarily due to Morello's incredibly innovative guitar playing style and remaining in the spotlight through Audioslave whereas de la Rocha faded into obscurity.
- Jermaine Jackson and Kelly Rowland both found success as solo artists following the dissolution of their respective groups only to be completely overshadowed by a fellow ex-bandmate. In fact, while Michael and Beyoncé are more recognized for their solo work than as part of a group, Jermaine and Rowland are famous in the exact opposite way.
- Nu Metal was often seen as the most commercially profitable genre of metal during its prime, with numerous acts gaining massive commercial success. In reality, this only applied to a handful of bands. Namely Korn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Disturbed, Godsmack, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and Evanescence (and System of a Down, if you consider them nu metal). Sevendust, Trapt, Saliva, P.O.D., and Drowning Pool also had success, but not to the same extent. Compare this to the glut of acts who failed to have that same success such as Coal Chamber, 36 Crazyfists, Alien Ant Farm, Martyr AD, Guano Apes, Crazy Town, Stereomud, Ultraspank, Spineshank, Systematic, Injected, Skrape, Primer 55, Unloco, Orgy, Presence, Hot Action Cop, Demon Hunter, Nonpoint, Mushroomhead, Shuvel, Twisted Method, Skindred, Static-X, Flaw, Cold, Dry Kill Logic, Kittie, Machine Head, hed (p.e.), Ra, Lifer, Otep...
- The 2010s saw a massive revival of teen heartthrobs and boy bands in the pop music world. Dozens and dozens have aimed for commercial success, but only two have actually become worldwide megastars: Canadian pop-R&B singer Justin Bieber and British-Irish boy band quintet One Direction. The only other acts to have had achieved success, though not to the same extent, during the decade were Australian pop-punk group 5 Seconds of Summer and Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes. Compare that to the glut of acts who have fallen flat on their face in their attempts to break through, such as JLS, Mindless Behavior, Cody Simpson, Greyson Chance, Jacob Latimore, Union J, District 3, Emblem3, Midnight Red, IM 5, Austin Mahone, Conor Maynard, Jake Miller, The Vamps, Rixton, Troye Sivan, and perhaps most embarrassingly, Big Time Rush and The Wanted, who were being pushed especially hard. All of these acts, with the exception of the American ones, had their popularity limited to their home country.
- A similar scenario happened with girl groups: American Fifth Harmony and British Little Mix have overshadowed all the other 2010s girl groups in their respective home countries. The less-popular of the two in each country is the only other one to really have a major following there. While both of them are easily bigger than anyone in the aforementioned "failure" group of males (at least in their home countries), but far below Bieber/1D levels, they're really not that far off from where 5SOS and Mendes are.
- Lady Gaga's decline in popularity, going from being the proclaimed "Queen of Pop" to just another act who's only known for "being weird", had this as the exact cause in 2013. After the massive success of Born This Way she took a two year break, but when she was supposed to make her return to rule, she fell flat on her face. Simply put, between Miley Cyrus shocking the world with her "good girl gone bad" act in the summer, Lorde taking the world by storm in the fall, Beyoncé ruling the winter with her surprise album, and Katy Perry continuing her success throughout, Gaga simply couldn't find room to generate any buzz. Considering that her whole appeal relies entirely on buzz, that is very bad. The meteoric rise of female newcomers like Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Meghan Trainor, and the aforemetioned Lorde, followed by Taylor Swift's successful transition to pure pop was the final nail in the coffin. She's no longer the "Queen of Pop", she's just a former pop-star who can't catch a break, being forced to switch over to critical success.
- Hollywood Undead has J-Dog, Charlie Scene, and Danny (the ones everyone can name) competing for Face of the Band. Deuce fit too, before he left and was replaced by the latter. It's a safe bet that Funny Man and Johnny 3 Tears get their dues too, but what about that sixth member that almost never provides lead vocals? That's Da Kurlzz, who many people can't name.
- Linkin Park to many people is lead vocalist/metal screamer Chester Bennington, rapper/multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda, and four other guys. Guitarist Brad Delson may get recognition, if only for the Funny Afro (despite the fact that he co-founded the band), while turntablist Joe "Mr." Hahn was a pretty well known in their earlier days for his DJ scratches but today is just in the background. As for drummer Rob Bourdon and bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell? Not so much.
- Haim is a pop-rock girl band centered around sisters Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim. But who's that one guy you see drumming in background at their concerts? That's Dash Hutton, their unrelated friend. Despite being an official member, he's rarely seen in promotional material.
- Sleigh Bells has Derek E. Miller who plays all the instruments, produces the albums, writes the songs, and basically does all the heavy lifting, but is completely overshadowed by Alexis Krauss, who only sings. This is a bit odd, since the band is well-known for the amazing instrumentation used to create all sorts of wild sounds. Given that a female lead singer of a band (especially a Ms. Fanservice) almost always overshadows the rest of the group unless there are other girls in it or there's a male that also sings, this is obvious.
- Mark Ronson is a very successful producer in the UK, but never had a hit in the US until 2014/15 with "Uptown Funk!". Unfortunately, outside the UK he was completely stuck in the shadow of its featured vocalist, global pop superstar Bruno Mars, and it's almost universally seen as Mars' song rather than Ronson's. His name is literally a footnote, and even the music video put all attention on Mars with Ronson only making cameos. As a result, Ronson himself had so little momentum coming out of the song that it failed to translate into any sales for its parent album Uptown Special outside the UK and, aside from a credit on an A$AP Rocky song that scraped the bottom of the charts for one week, Ronson never set foot on a non-British singles chart again. (A similar situation has happened with the Amy Winehouse-sung "Valerie", although it was nowhere near as bad as with "Uptown Funk!")
- Nickelodeon's Victorious was meant to be a vehicle that would launch the music career of its star Victoria Justice. It certainly launched a music career alright, just not hers. Instead, supporting actress Ariana Grande started a massively successful career as a pop sensation, producing numerous hits and platinum albums. Her meteoric rise to fame has completely eclipsed Justice (and the other five cast members), and her whole Nickelodeon roots for that matter. In fact, she's easily the biggest celebrity Nickelodeon has ever produced in its entire existence.
- 2015 saw a trend of completely unknown rappers scoring surprise hits thanks to exposure through Vine. Specifically, they were Fetty Wap ("Trap Queen"), T-Wayne ("Nasty Freestyle"), Silento ("Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)"), and iHeartMemphis/iLoveMemphis ("Hit the Quan"). Of the four however, only Fetty Wap has had any success afterwards, becoming a rap superstar. None of the latter three rappers ever had another hit. Of the songs, only "Trap Queen" and "Watch Me" stayed remembered after their popularity died down.
- A similar case to "Uptown Funk!" happened with "The Hanging Tree" by James Newton Howard featuring Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Despite being the lead artist, Howard was completely overshadowed by Lawrence, to the point that even Billboard's articles on the song's chart run used titles such as "Jennifer Lawrence Debuts on Hot 100" and barely made Howard a footnote. Since Lawrence is an A-list celebrity actress and Howard is a movie composer almost completely unknown to the general public and not even as known to film fanatics as the likes of John Williams and Hans Zimmer, this was inevitable.
- The other bloke out of Wham, who at the start had equal billing in a two-boy Boy Band with a then-starting-out George Michael. George's career went stellar. The other bloke's note didn't.
- Power Metal/Speed Metal band DragonForce has a Face of the Band with the guitarist Herman Li, who is well-known for his insanely technical guitar solos and has reached a level of Memetic Badass within the community. For some, it might be easy to forget that they have another guitarist with Sam Totman, who's been around since the beginning alongside Li, as the band had been started based around their dual-shred guitars. Despite being just as skilled at his instrument, engaging in similarly technical solos, and (unlike Li), taking a big part in the main songwriting process, he is nowhere near as well-known as Li. Being a Token Minority in metal alongside having a very distinct appearance can definitely help with sticking out from the rest.
- Tim Yeung, when he joined Morbid Angel. There's not much debate whether or not he is a skilled or famous drummer, but the guy he was filling the shoes for? Pete Sandoval, who is the Trope Codifier for Death Metal drumming. Unfortunately for Yeung, he was destined for Replacement Scrappy status from the word go.
- Lacuna Coil tried to avert the standard "female lead singer overshadows male backup band" stigma by pairing Cristina Scabbia with male singer Andrea Ferro. Unfortunately, that didn't stop the latter from ultimately languishing in the former's shadow.
- Japan has a wide variety of rock and metal bands that are popular back home and have a worldwide cult following. However, the only Japanese band that's made an impression on the mainstream American market is heavy metal idol group BABYMETAL.
- Future Classic, an independent label from Australia, has a wide variety of acts who have their own followings such as Chet Faker, Classixx, Flight Facilities, Panana, Jagwar Ma, and Ta-ku. However, none of them have achieved anywhere near as much success or recognition as a single artist they share the label with — Flume.
- Pedro Morales is one of the biggest stars of his era and the first Latin American to win a "recognized" World title. Unfortunately, Bruno Sammartino was also in his era and Morales was never truly accepted as a worthy successor by the World Wrestling Federation fans. This wasn't such a big deal at the time, but as the WWF systematically destroyed every other territory it could, it retroactively made Pedro being in Bruno's shadow in one territory have more impact on his image.
- Marty Jannetty: Following the breakout of the Rockers, Shawn Michaels would go on to become a future WWE Hall of Famer and win multiple championships while Janetty would fade into obscurity.
- Tarzan Goto is considered one of the founding fathers of FMW but was simply unable to draw without Atsushi Onita's help, leading him to job in attempts to build credibility in younger wrestlers, giving them a chance to draw whenever Onita wasn't around. Goto would go on to run his own "Shin" FMW shows in an attempt to become a top draw himself. Even when Onita was gone from FMW Goto wound up in the shadow of Megumi Kudo, leading to Japan's first mixed tag team match when Goto brought his wife along to do something about it and Kudo brought in Riki Fuji to handle him.
- As a singles wrestler Kyle O'Reilly's Ring of Honor career has often been derisively compared to his former Tag Team partners Davey Richards and Adam Cole. As a tag team wrestler however, he's found much more success with Bobby Fish as reDRagon than he ever did riding either of their coattails. In 2015, O'Reilly started to find more success as a singles wrestler only to be thwarted in every title match he earned by Adam Cole, who wanted keep O'Reilly in his shadow. Kyle finally broke out after beating Cole, who was in his second reign as ROH Champion, at the 2016 Final Battle, finally starting his first singles title run...only for Cole to be given a rematch by New Japan's officials at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and win the belt back, becoming ROH's first three time world champion, before ROH itself could even book O'Reilly any title matches.
- Ted DiBiase Jr.: Was initially labeled the breakout star of Legacy but instead Cody Rhodes would go on to become one of the longest reigning Intercontinental Champions as well as one of the WWE's top heels. DiBiase, on the other hand was relegated to WWE Superstars territory. If that's not enough, there's an even bigger shadow hanging over him: his father.
- The first luchador CMLL gave the Místico gimmick to became the undisputed top draw in not only the promotion but the entire nation, with strong arguments that he was the breakout star of the planet. That argument fell apart when his success in Latin America and Asia was followed up by the disastrous Sin Cara gimmick in WWE, which coincided with CMLL trying again by giving the Místico gimmick to Dragon Lee, who merely drew decent critical response and financial gain. The Dragon Lee gimmick in turn went to a rookie luchador who took everyone by surprise and became one of CMLL's foremost stars, leaving their first Dragon Lee stuck in two shadows.
- The only member of the Spirit Squad who is still well-known today is Nick "Nicky" Nemeth, now better known as Dolph Ziggler.
- Stu Hart had twelve children, all who who were involved in the wrestling business, but only two of them are particularly well-known: Bret and Owen.
- The best known members of the Guerrero family are easily Eddie and Vickie. The only other member most people will be able to name is Chavo Jr.
- Lanny Poffo, brother of Randy Savage, is often considered the prime example for a wrestler being stuck in his sibling's shadow. Their father, Angelo Poffo, has also been overshadowed by Randy.
- Stevie Ray, to his younger brother Booker T.
- The Knight wrestling family: Britani Knight, a.k.a WWE's Paige is by far its most famous member, with the only other well-known one, at least in America, being her mother, Saraya Knight.
- Ric Flair has four children, the best known of which is his younger daughter, Charlotte. While not nearly as well known, his two sons David and Reid have their own notoriety: the former for his infamous flop of a career and memetic entrance video, the latter for dying tragically at the age of 25 and for his death being tastelessly referenced by WWE in a Paige/Charlotte angle. His older daughter, Megan, on the other hand, is virtually unknown.
- Matt Hardy is far from unknown, but still not nearly as recognized as his younger brother Jeff. However, he's been slowly escaping this through his "Broken" TNA run in 2016.
- Many people recognize The Dudley Boys as Bubba Ray and D-Von. The other Dudleys from ECW are mostly forgotten, with the possible exception of Spike.
- Julio Dinero was one of four members of the TNA stable the Gathering. Unfortunately for him, the other three members are all much better known than him: Raven, Mickie James, and CM Punk.
- After the Steiner Brothers split up, Scott became the genetic freak "Big Poppa Pump" while Rick has more or less faded into obscurity.
- Donkey Kong Country
- Diddy Kong from the original Donkey Kong Country. He can do everything Donkey Kong can do, with the exception of defeating a specific kind of enemy (Krusha), and is even far superior in some aspects such as running faster, swimming more precisely, and making long jumps better. You could beat the entire game playing as Diddy alone and probably have an easier time of it. However, canonically, he's Donkey Kong's "wannabe sidekick" and didn't get his chance to shine until the sequel Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, where he was in turn overshadowed by his newbie companion...
- Dixie Kong in Diddy's Kong Quest may be a little slower than her boyfriend, but other than that barely-noticeable detail, she surpasses him in every way. Not only is she a more precise jumper and swimmer, she can do the famous ponytail twirl, wherein she hovers to the ground slowly by using her long ponytail as a propeller. This game is a little fairer because it makes it crucial to play as either one character or the other at specific times, but it may also be worth mentioning that in her own game Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, she was not surpassed by Kiddy Kong.
- Banjo-Kazooie is a little weird about this. Ask anyone who the star is, and most will say it's Banjo, even though the titles of three out of five games also include his partner Kazooie. The second game, Banjo Tooie, opts for a silly title pun instead of recognizing the second lead's name (it's even lampshaded by Kazooie herself at the end of the first game), and Banjo Kazooie Grunty's Revenge mentions her name although she isn't in it for the first few worlds. Indeed, in the first two games, Kazooie's the one doing the majority of attacking and acrobatics when the two are teamed up, with Banjo mostly just doing the walking around and (in the first game) the Claw Swipe and Roll (the second game replaced the Claw Swipe with another attack by Kazooie and had Kazooie assist with the Roll).
- Being stuck in the shadow of his father Cao Cao has been Cao Pi's story path since his debut in Dynasty Warriors 5; he doesn't get a break even in the crossover game, as the warriors of Wei are still more loyal to Cao Cao (who is outright presumed dead until near the end of the plot) than to him in the first game, and he has to share an uneasy spotlight with his father in the sequel (though in the final battle Cao Cao does officially hand the baton over).
- Luigi has incorporated this into his character. Initially a Palette Swap of Mario, even after he underwent Divergent Character Evolution he failed to get a starring role in anything except the Luigi's Mansion series and the poorly received Mario Is Missing!. The canon now portrays him to be just competent as his brother (albeit significantly more cowardly), but perpetually ignored for his contributions.
- In the Mario & Luigi games (especially Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, but somewhat less so later on), Luigi is often the victim of being a Forgettable Character and Accidental Misnaming.
- Super Mario World has this example: if you beat the game as Luigi (in 2 player), the first three words of text are "Thank you Mario" while Luigi is still on the screen.
- But come 2013, Nintendo is giving him some recognition, dubbing this year The Year of Luigi, specifically releasing 3 games (Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, New Super Luigi U, and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team) that give him A Day in the Limelight, putting Luigi-themed content in Animal Crossing New Leaf and StreetPass Mii Plaza, rereleasing his first 4 games (Mario Bros., Wrecking Crew, Super Mario Bros., and Super Mario Bros. 2) on the Wii U's Virtual Console, and making him playable from the get-go in Super Mario 3D World (previous 3D Mario games required you to unlock him after playing through as Mario).
- Luigi's enemy counterpart (Waluigi) has it even worse, he has never had his own solo game and indeed is rarely even a playable character outside of sports games. He also has never achieved a status higher than assist trophy in Super Smash Bros.
- Thanks to Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Xande has become this in favor of Cloud of Darkness. This is despite Xande was the Big Bad for most of the game, while Cloud of Darkness was a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere that didn't appear to have much involvement until the very end.
- Bandai Namco Entertainment has two important fighting game franchises: Tekken and Soulcalibur. However, despite having a large fanbase, the latter tends to get overshadowed by the former by Namco. Especially in later years, where Soulcalibur V was rushed out the door in less than a year with cut funding and staff, while Tekken was treated as a masterpiece that gets all the love and attention. This disparity in how the franchises have been treated has not gone unnoticed by fans, who want a Soulcalibur VI, but it hasn't even been announced yet while Tekken 7 has been revealed and shown to the world.
- The FreddieW videos are made by both Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch, though Brandon's less heard of because Freddie's name is on the channel and stars in most of the videos.
- The Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Road Runner cartoons have an incredibly blatant example. It's all about Wile E. Coyote and his ridiculous plans for catching and eating the bird. He probably gets three times as much screen time as the Road Runner in every cartoon.
- In both the book and film versions of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the story focuses more on the human detective, Eddie Valiant. In the book, he was Eddie's shifty client, and although he was pivotal to the story, the focus was clearly on Eddie and his investigations. In the movie, Roger gets the plot rolling, but after that his job consists mostly of hanging around with Eddie and acting goofy. Even in his cartoons in-universe, Roger gets second billing behind Baby Herman, even though (like Wile E.) he gets the lion's share of the laughs. Never more blatant than when he saves Eddie's life (if only momentarily) at the Gag Factory, then drops right back down to "goofy" again without so much as a thank-you on Eddie's part - although his wife, Jessica, whom he also saved, at least gives him some of the respect he's desperately been trying to earn.
- In-universe example from Avatar: The Last Airbender: despite that he is the eldest child and heir to the throne, Zuko is constantly overlooked by his father in favor of his obscenely talented younger sister. This becomes one of the main driving forces of his personality within the show.
- However, in a trope reversal, we discover though Character Development that Azula thinks she's stuck in Zuko's shadow when it comes to their mother's love. It's the driving force behind Azula's negative actions towards her brother and the reason why she has a mental breakdown in the end.
- Frank James, Jesse James's brother, has become relatively obscure in modern culture and exists largely in Jesse's shadow, even though the two were equally infamous in the old West and committed their criminal acts as a pair. It turns out an alliterative name counts for a lot.
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels penned The Communist Manifesto together, but Marx is the only one directly associated with it (with Marxism being another name for communism), while Engels is unknown to many who don't study Marxism.
- Engels is somewhat better known in the UK for his seminal work On The Condition Of The Working Classes In England, which was the first serious academic survey of urban living conditions in the age of industrialisation. It took forty years for anyone to get around to an English translation, but it was still relevant enough to influence a lot of British political and economic reformists well into the 1920s.
- After one of the authors of Off-White became a real life example of this trope, they tried to avert this by doing things like alternately posting pages on both their deviantart accounts.
- Many kids with older siblings tend to feel this way, sometimes into adulthood.
- Ever heard of Christian Friedrich Henrici (aka Picander, his pseudonym), the lyricist for Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas? Chances are even those who are into Bach's music haven't heard of him. Picander (as he is known on The Other Wiki) wrote the lyrics for many of Bach's religious and secular cantatas, yet he is obscure to all but the most learned Bach scholars. Part of the reason why he is so unknown is because it is general practice to attribute a classical work to the one who has composed the music; hence, Picander is unknown while Bach is always in the spotlight.
- Bach also had composers create the melody line for each cantata movement; Bach would then create the actual music for the movement based on that melody. Such melody composers remain even more obscure than Picander.
- Most fans of American Football agree that this has happened with Peyton and Eli Manning, two brothers who play at quarterback for different teams in the NFL. It's just a question of who's stuck in whose shadow that tends to start a few arguments. Peyton is clearly the better of the two players, having had to carry multiple teams by himself in a few big games, but he has a reputation as a choke artist in the playoffs, making it to the Super Bowl four times and only winning twice. On the other hand, Eli is far less accurate in throwing and has had multiple losing seasons, but has shown flashes of real brilliance, winning the Super Bowl both times he's appeared, including against the at-the-time undefeated New England Patriots. It comes down to a debate over whether "consistently good" or "subpar with occasional streaks of excellence" is better, one that will probably continue long after both brothers have retired.
- Everyone who is familiar with Dungeons & Dragons (and many who aren't) knows who Gary Gygax is. You'd have to look harder to find someone familiar with Dave Arneson, despite him being more influential in creating the tabletop RPG (he was the one who had the idea in the first place and wrote the original rules set; Gygaxnote helped develop the rules, did most of the work necessary for publishing the game, and knew someone (Brian Blume) who could fund the venture). It seems to have gotten a bit better after Arneson's death, though.
- Lauren Faust gets way more credit from fans of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends than her husband Craig McCracken, and he made the shows, she just worked on them.
- The 2012 United States Olympic Women's Gymnastics team. Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, and Kyla Ross did not gain nearly as much publicity as Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney (the former for her actual gymnastic accomplishments and the latter because of an internet meme.)
- Same deal with the 2008 team. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin pretty badly overshadowed the rest of the squad. Alicia Sacramone remains a gymternet favorite, but Chellsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, and Bridget Sloan are almost entirely forgotten by all but the hardcore fans.
- Find someone who isn't a lifelong gym fan and ask them to name all members of Atlanta's Magnificent Seven. Their response will probably be, "Dominique Moceanu, Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, that one girl who hurt her ankle (Kerri Strug), and.... uh...." Poor, poor Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps, and Amy Chow.
- Mary Lou Retton. Does anyone really remember any of her teammates in the '84 Olympics? Maybe Julianne McNamara, but that's it.
- In 2016, it's Douglas and Simone Biles taking all the media attention. Raisman got her fair share of further recognition for being "the other returnee".
- The tables have turned slightly: two silver medals and a team gold later, Raisman got a lot more media attention (alongside Biles) than Douglas this time around. Douglas's only medal has been the team gold. Aside from being replaced by Biles as the Face of the Band, Douglas only got attention for not placing her hand on her heart during the medal ceremony.
- The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was won by Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, but, given the fame she already had, it was the former who got all the media attention as the latter was ignored.
- Chiwetel Ejiofor starred in the movie 12 Years a Slave but got overshadowed by his co-star Lupita Nyong'o.
- Male American professional soccer players are hit by this hard. On the home front, they're almost completely overshadowed by the women, especially following their victory in the 2015 World Cup. When it's strictly men's soccer being discussed, the American players are barely a blip on the radar compared to some of the South American and European superstars like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. In fact, while most people, American or not, who aren't die-hard soccer fans will be hard-pressed to name even one male soccer star from the States, there are inversely little-to-no well known U.S.-known international soccer stars on the female side. This lack of American male success is probably why soccer is generally considered to be "hated" in America.
- After Ronda Rousey took UFC by storm in 2015, she has all but overshadowed the entire industry of mixed-martial-arts in the eyes of non-fans. Very few people outside the UFC fan base (or at least target demographic) will likely be able to name any other MMA fighter — with the only one coming close being Holly Holm, for being the one to end her streak.
- John Boyega's breakout performance as Finn in The Force Awakens was by no means a failure; in fact, his performance was one of the most widely praised of the year. It's just that Boyega's hype was all but drowned out by that of his costar Daisy Ridley, who played Rey. While it's clear she's being set up to be the main character, it's doubtful that Lucasfilm were trying to get search interest in Ridley to be five times as big as that in Boyega. This may have to do with the fact that white female celebrities like Ridley tend to attract the general public to a much greater degree than black male stars like Boyega do, or also, unlike the cult star that Boyega was due to Attack the Block, Ridley was a complete unknown beforehand, meaning people wanted to know more about her. Nevertheless, Boyega was the first to land a major non-Star Wars role afterwards, as he is set to appear in the sci-fi film The Circle with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson; Ridley's only upcoming project outside her Star Wars work is a dub of an old Studio Ghibli film.
- Jack Butler, the original writer, editor, and promulgator of the Evil Overlord List is said to have been damned surprised to find that his list had been copied, copyrighted, and "made famous" by Peter Anspach. Butler has — by way of a successful lawsuit — regained control over his creation, but the damage is pretty much done. If people attach a creator credit to the Evil Overlord List, they invariably think of the man who copyrighted it, not the man who actually created the thing.
- Ever since Daniel Inouye died in 2012, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy became the oldest sitting member of the U.S. Senate. He'd be a sure-fire standout for the second-smallest state in the country — except for the fact that he's virtually unheard of compared to Vermont's other, nationally-recognized senator: Bernie Sanders.