Follow TV Tropes

Following

Demoted To Extra / Comic Books

Go To

  • While Archie Comics has been running consistently for decades its sister series have rougher times.
  • Also tends to happen to the Doom Patrol. Often lampshaded at the end of their newest guest appearance in some other hero team's series.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Flash: Wally West was hit with this pretty hard. He started out as the original Kid Flash, before replacing Barry Allen as the Flash (And becoming the Trope Codifier for Sidekick Graduations Stick) following Crisis on Infinite Earths. After that, Wally remained the main character in the Flash series until Infinite Crisis, when Bart Allen briefly took over the role for a year before Wally returned, at which point Wally took the series over again. Then Final Crisis brought Barry Allen Back from the Dead and he took the book back from Wally. And although they both remained active as the Flash, Wally only made two appearances in the Flash series after that point and was effectively reduced to appearing in crowd shots, until DC launched their line wide reboot and Wally was "taken off the table" with his tenure as the Flash and Kid Flash completely retconned away, with Bart becoming the first Kid Flash. It took years before Wally was reintroduced, and the new version was so In Name Only that DC Rebirth eventually revealed him to be a cousin with the same first name; now the old Wally is back in Titans, but Barry is still headlining Flash.
  • Advertisement:
  • Reading Justice Society of America can be a bit jarring if you're a fan of Sandman Mystery Theatre. After the Golden Age Sandman spent years as the hero of his own cult classic series, he's reduced to a mere scene-filler in JSA.
  • Despite being the reason for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's existance, and being the driving force behind the plot of the Black Dossier, Prospero disappears almost entirely, and only makes an appearance during the last chapter of Century to get Orlando to resume her search for the Moonchild, and disappears entirerly after that, not even supporting the remnants of the League during the final battle.
  • It also happens a lot to the Legion of Super-Heroes, given the sheer number of characters, frequent RetCons and all-out continuity reboots, generally convoluted continuity, and the fact that the team has been in existence since 1958, giving fans plenty of opportunity to start Running the Asylum. The most notable victim is probably Dyrk Magz aka Magno, who spent all of ten issues as a member of the Legion before getting summarily depowered, was given just enough development to be interesting, and then mostly got relegated to the background before the Legion Worlds miniseries finally managed to abandon the character in a way that gave him no resolution but also left him in a position from which it would be hard to bring him back into play. And then the Legion's continuity was rebooted entirely a few years later anyhow. Also notable were Wildfire and Dawnstar, who were amongst the most popular characters of the original Legion.
  • Superman:
      Advertisement:
    • The Legion was also the cause of this for Superboy. They originally appeared as supporting characters in a 1958 Superboy story, then starting in 1962 they appeared as the backup feature in Adventure Comics where Superboy had been the star since 1946. Within a year they had taken over the comic, reducing Superboy to the back up in what had been his title, and not long after solo Superboy stories stopped appearing altogether (though he continued to appear as a member of the Legion.) A decade later they repeated the feat when they started appearing in Superboy as a backup feautre, which was renamed Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and eventually just Legion of Super-Heroes as they again took over the comic and Superboy got Put on a Bus.
    • If you are a Superman secondary character and your name isn't Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Kara Zor-El, Krypto the Superdog or Lana Lang, you're out of luck. After a few years you'll be relegated to background or Comic-Book Limbo, no matter how prominent you might have been. And not even Superman's cousin, dog and childhood sweetheart are absolutely safe.
    • In the 60's, Kara Zor-El was treated as a prominent member of Superman's core cast, had her own backup strip, her own supporting cast and made frequent appearances across all books of the line. Then she was gradually pushed to the background during The Bronze Age of Comic Books and eventually killed off. She wouldn't be brought back until 18 years later, after half dozen of failed attempts to replace her with non-Kryptonian Supergirls.
    • Similarly, Krypto was gradually phased out during the Bronze Age until disappearing altogether and getting killed off in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. Leaving aside random cameos, Superman's trusty dog wouldn't be seen again until 2000 story arc "Return to Krypton", 14 years later.
    • Pre-Crisis Van-Zee "Nightwing" and his partner Ak-Var "Flamebird" were the Kryptonian equivalent to "Batman and Robin". They even had their own feature in the Superman Family magazine. They were limboed by Crisis on Infinite Earths and the 1986 reboot, and they haven't been seen since then.
    • Catherine Grant was a very prominent Daily Planet staff member from 1987 to 1993. Following her son's murder, she was put in a bus from which she didn't return until 2008 storyline Superman: Brainiac.
  • In the later years of the feature, Toni Turner, best friend to Millie the Model, seldom appeared, her role largely supplanted by "Millie's Redheaded Rival," the nastier and more colorful Chili Storm.
  • Nintendo Comics System:
    • Mouser and Tryclyde.
    • Herman Smirch became less prominent as the Game Boy series went on.
  • In Paperinik New Adventures all the important supporting cast of Donald Duck (Uncle Scrooge, his nephews, Daisy) were reduced to background characters or cameos to make place to new characters.
  • Khéna's family on his home planet in The Scrameustache. The Galaxians replace them as the frequent alien visitors.
  • This happens in Sin City, mostly because different stories have different protagonists. For instance, Marv was the main character in the first story and a supporting character in the second. Aside from two one-shots, he was never the main character for any stories after that. Later stories have him showing up as an extra in the background (often if the scene takes place at Kadie's Bar) with one or two lines. Word of God states that he will be the focal point in future tales.
  • In Sonic the Comic, expect them from any animal friend that wasn't a part of the Freedom Fighters.
  • Rotor Walrus in Sonic the Hedgehog, both SatAM and Archie Comics versions, have been hit hard with this; in both versions, he started out as a strong fixture in the Freedom Fighters, then got kicked into this position after a certain point (Season 2 in SatAM, issue #125 in the Archie Comics); in fact, in the comics, his jacked-up importance and Word of Gay relationship in the "Mobius: 25 Years Later" storyline was meant by previous head writer Ken Penders as a way of moving him out of extra status and giving him a much-needed jolt of Character Development. Sadly, when current head writer Ian Flynn took over, he was beaten back down to this spot violently, in both the main comic and the "M:25YL" storyline for quite some time. He eventually regained some prominence when he joined the Royal Council and later made himself a high-tech suit, but not until he'd been largely unseen for several years.
    • A group of characters called "The Substitute Freedom Fighters" faded out of relevance soon after their introduction. Currently, they were brought back as councilors on the royal council. One of them, Hamlin, was angry enough about his treatment that he joined the council out of spite for the Freedom Fighters.
    • Knuckles has also been demoted heavily since his own spin off comic series ended, likely due to his life on Angel Island making it harder to focus alongside the Freedom Fighters down on Mobius.
    • Interestingly, Sonic himself was affected by this - after the Knuckles comic got cancelled, Sonic was limited to mostly being stuck in Knothole following the Sonic Adventure adaptation, with Knuckles and Tails getting a lot of the screen time and action in their backup stories, due to a case of Creator's Pet.
      • A lot of this is lampshaded in the "Off-Panel" comic strips at the end of the Sonic Universe comics, from Knuckles flipping out over the title not exactly being his to Charmy commenting that if he was going to show up in a storyline, it would be here.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Some editors have been quoted saying "Spider-Man has a supporting cast?". This is because most supporting cast members are either lost in limbo or have been killed off. On the other hand, some creators and fans like to boast that Spider-Man has the best supporting cast in comics. The cast evolved, with some characters - notably Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, and Mary Jane Watson - emerging as very resistant to efforts to write them out. But important supporting characters being killed off or consigned to Limbo has been a hallmark of the series since Stan Lee's days. The first notable character Demoted to Extra was Betty Brant, Peter Parker's main love interest until he started college (her rival Liz Allan was Put on a Bus slightly earlier).
    • If a Spider-Villain wasn't created by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko or John Romita Sr., or isn't named Venom or Carnage, don't expect said villain to have too many appearances.
    • Shriek was introduced in 1993 to form an Unholy Matrimony with Carnage. She also acted as Team Mom with three younger supervillains they recruited. She was a featured player in a couple of major storylines, and made regular appearances to 1996. Since then she has made only infrequent appearances in crowd scenes.
    • Doctor Octopus died in 1995, and soon got an Affirmative Action Legacy in Doctor Octopus II/Dr. Carolyn Trainer. From 1995 to 1997 this Hot Scientist was one of the most frequently used villains of the Spider books. Then the original got resurrected through a necromantic ceremony and she was Demoted to Dragon for him, then forgotten. She has since resurfaced a few times as an easily-defeated third-string villain.
    • Scorpia was introduced in 1995 as a Distaff Counterpart to Scorpion, with the individual quirks of having Mafia connections and a tendency to hit on Anything That Moves. She was featured prominently for a year or two, got a spotlight issue in 2002, and has since been reduced to mostly appearing in crowd scenes.
    • For about two years, 1996 to 1998, Delilah was an every-issue regular in Amazing Spider-Man. Being a Dark Action Girl and The Dragon to the Rose, a Non-Action Guy type of villain, she often got more screen time than any other villain. She was written out when she was drained by a vampire. She has since been used only in a couple of storylines as a henchwoman to nobodies.
    • In Superior Spider-Man, Mary Jane, one of the most prominent characters in Spider-Man's entire mythos, is given a backseat in most of the action and is barely involved in any of the plots, to the point where she largely interacts with Peter via phone messages, and one of her biggest story arcs revolved around whether or not she listened to a message on her cell. Many other established supporting characters in Spider-Man's world have also been shuffled offstage.
  • Steve and Camp Koala in Tank Girl.
  • The original Titans West from the '70s Teen Titans vanished when it came time for the New Teen Titans series, due to Marv Wolfman considering all of the characters (except Lilith and Beast Boy/Changeling) to be lame. Bumblebee and Mal Duncan (who were part of the original East Coast team towards the end of the '70s) were also Put on a Bus, and Duela Dent showed up once as a fat phony who revealed that she had lied about her origin of being Two-Face's daughter. After the Crisis, Wolfman seized the opportunity to retcon Bumblebee and Mal (now called "Herald") as having been part of Titans West, and attempted to erase Duela from continuity completely. Caveman G'narrk (who died in a Bus Crash Pre-Crisis) became a case of Death by Origin Story, while Bat-Girl (retconned to Flamebird) and Golden Eagle became even more shallow "joke" characters stuck in a rut of Can't Catch Up.
    • The earlier Titans all became demoted when it was time for Dan Jurgens' version of the Titans, partly due to Executive Meddling. Jurgens had originally planned to use Nightwing and the JSA member Wildcat as mentors for the team, but had to make do with using the de-aged Ray Palmer instead.
    • Characters like the second Wonder Girl suffered this in the change from Young Justice to the third volume of Teen Titans, as Geoff Johns decided to pay more attention to Robin and Superboy, effectively making the rest of the cast into wallpaper. After OYL, the focus then became Robin and Wonder Girl, which continued somewhat into Sean McKeever's run but Wonder Girl's long stint as set dressing had turned the character flat and removed almost all of her previous characterization.
  • In Tomorrow Stories, Greyshirt's sidekick, Rocky, barely appears in Indigo Sunset at all.
  • The Transformers Megaseries:
    • The Dinobots are only present in Spotlight: Shockwave.
    • Soundwave was taken out of action twenty-odd years ago, and spends most of the run stuck in tape-deck mode.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • Perceptor, for the first 13 issues or so, takes a more prominent role in "Remain In Light."
    • Sunstreaker and Hound.
    • While the other four Headmasters all have story lines, with Hardhead's in RID, Highbrow has been pushed to the back.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man:
    • Flash Thompson plays a far less prominent role here than the mainstream universe.
    • The Lizard, who doesn't even appear in the series proper, only appearing in an issue of Ultimate Team-Up.
    • Randy Robertson and Betty Brant are not nearly as important here as they are in the mainstream comics.
    • Captain Stacy only made a few appearances, including overseeing the manhunt for Uncle Ben's killer, before dying.
  • Wonder Woman hasn't been able to keep a stable supporting cast together in decades. Even Steve Trevor got Put on a Bus in the late 80's, though Wonder Woman (Rebirth) brought him back.
    • In the Post-Crisis continuity Doctor Cyber went from major Bronze Age villain to a minor antagonist.
    • Pre-Crisis Gundra was a major enemy of the 1940s Wonder Woman. Post-Crisis she's appeared only once in the modern era, as part of Circe's vast collective of Wonder Woman villains.
    • Queen Cleas in the Post-Crisis world, where she faced Wonder Woman only twice, once as the leader of a new Villainy Incorporated, and once as part of Circe's massive supervillain collective.
    • Osira, post-Crisis.
    • Originally Aphrodite was the Amazon's Big Good and remained key to Wonder Woman's "birth" and the Amazon's protection, secrecy, creation and island home throughout subsequent retcons and Crises until the New 52 where she gets about five words to say in Wonder Woman (2011) no characterization and is essentially a disinterested background character who shows up in group shots of Olympians.
    • The The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016) borrows most heavily from the Post-Crisis books for the history of their Amazons and Olympians, however Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter, Hestia and Hermes—the Olympian patrons who were responsible for the creation and protection of the Amazons and their island in that version—are left as background characters with no lines at best, with several of them not appearing at all since the Olympian focus is on the conflict between Ares and Zeus.
  • Happens with X-Men, even the main characters, as well as with other teams. It also happens with newer members (such as Marrow) who almost always turned out to be only temporarily popular or big-time.
    • The junior classes have it the worst. Out of the members who aren't Killed Off for Real, generally one out of each generation will get much of any face time if they aren't Wolverine's sidekick. New X-Men fans refer to this as 'becoming wallpaper'. Currently, Husk from Generation X and Pixie (who ironically started as wallpaper) from New X-Men are filling their respective generation's 'slot'.
    • This tends to be cyclical, particularly in the X-books. Jamie Madrox, for instance, started off as a background character with little personality, became an Ascended Extra in Peter David's first X-Factor run, then spent a couple years Not Quite Dead and about a decade as a bit player until David got the opportunity to have him lead the new X-Factor. The New Warriors (the ones who got blown up right before Civil War) started out as an attempt to ascend a bunch of nobodies and has-beens, with the whole team dropping Out of Focus several times.
    • A lot of human allies to the X-teams disappear when their creator leaves the books. Peter Corbeau got several particularly awesome scenes in Chris Claremont's early days, now, he doesn't even get an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
    • Kitty Pryde inevitably gets reduced to a minor background character in adaptations. People often forget that, for a while, she was the closest thing that X-Men had to a central protagonist.
    • Marrow. She was in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, then she fell off the radar in a big way. In universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. once rewrote her mind to let her think she was a normal teenager. She turned out to be smart enough to attend university, then her mind started resisting the process.
    • Jubilee. Like many characters born in the '90s, from time to time since the early-2000s. Occasionally the character gets a sudden boon, especially after she became a vampire and had a kid, but otherwise isn't nearly as prominent as she once was.
    • During the 2000s, Cyclops got a heavy push to make him essentially the franchise's leading man, ala Captain America to the Avengers. After Secret Wars, however, he was killed off in a timeskip.
  • Practically every Golden Age character in The DCU save for the Justice Society of America's core team has either been killed off as C-List Fodder or relegated to the team's reserves. It's hard to imagine that the Red Bee once had his own backup series.
    • Lampshaded in James Robinson's Starman, where the Red Bee is seriously off during a Thanksgiving with dead superheroes.
  • Fantastic Four were likewise pushed to the background in The New '10s as a result of Fox owning the right to their franchise. More specifically, Reed Richards has been replaced by Tony Stark as the Marvel Universe's go-to genius. When the team finally returned in 2018, there was a marketing push to add them in games such as Marvel Future Fight, Marvel: Contest of Champions, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report