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Ascended Extra

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At least the forced perspective necessary to pull off this shot is magnificent.

Q: Do I know you?
O'Brien: O'Brien. From the Enterprise.
Q: The Enterprise...? Ah yes! Weren't you one of the little people?

A minor character who is given a greatly expanded role in the later part of the series, a new adaptation of a story, or in the Expanded Universe.

This often arises simply due to the creators realizing that said character holds far more story potential than they originally thought, or at the very least, re-purposing this character for a greater role in the narrative is better than making an entirely new character. Of course, if this is an adaptation of an ongoing work, the character may have only been given this status to fill time, and won't be allowed to have a huge effect on the plot depending on how much the writer is trying to follow the source material; this can lead to some bizarre incongruities in planning (e.g. Overtook the Manga, Restricted Expanded Universe). And in some cases, a minor character becomes an Ascended Extra solely because the writers want a Sacrificial Lion, but aren't willing to use characters they care about for the role, though the audience might.

This can occur as a series goes on for long periods of time and is useful for filler; as it gets harder and harder to come up with meaningful new stories for the main cast, creators may find themselves looking at their supporting cast for ideas (assuming they don't decide to make a new character for this purpose, that is). Be warned however that this character might be more liked by the fandom than the writers, who may have no compunction with getting rid of them when convenient.

If a series involves a Time Skip between seasons or story arcs (or if time travel involves someone taking The Slow Path), this can happen when a character who was a child in the first part grows up enough to have an impact on the plot.

This also happens somewhat regularly in Fan Fiction, often when writers feel a character has potential that wasn't fully exploited in the original source. See also O.C. Stand-in, They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character, and A Day in the Limelight.

Compare the Breakout Character, where a supporting character gains a fandom that rivals or exceeds the main characters and thus becomes more prominent in canon. Compare also the Ensemble Dark Horse where in a similar fashion, a supporting character role remains the same but that character receives more fans. See Breakout Villain specifically for when a would-be one-shot villain ascends to Big Bad status, either through Ascended Extra or Breakout Character. A One-Scene Wonder is not an Ascended Extra, at least officially; fanfic, on the other hand...

See Mauve Shirt for when a member of the Redshirt Army gets his own name and minor characterization, but still doesn't become more than a minor supporting character in any way. For the villain equivalent, see Mook Promotion. The inverse of this trope is Demoted to Extra. Retroactive Recognition is when this happens in Real Life. O.C. Stand-in is when this happens in a fanfic.

Compare Red Herring Shirt, only the ascension is intended from the beginning, and Ensemble Dark Horse, where fans become fascinated by a character who canonically has only a very small role, at least initially. Sister Trope of Adaptational Protagonist, when either minor or major characters acquire the main lead role in an adaptation.

When something similar happens to a side story rather than a side character, it is Resolved Noodle Incident or What Could Have Been.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Doby & Disy: Panda, who was just a secondary character in the first season, becomes a main character alongside Doby and Disy in Season 2 (and anywhere where they form the Detective Kubi).

    Audio Play 
  • Several characters in the Dutch audio play series Ome Henk start off as one-off jokes before turning into full fledged characters. A good example is the Wizard of Salsa Borenco. In his first appearance, the narrator introduces him as the one who will solve all of the current story's problems. He refuses to do so and tells he only arrived to announce a song. After that, he becomes a recurring character, who even has one of the CDs named after him.

    Comic Strips 
  • In the later years of U.S. Acres, Jim Davis' assistant Brett Koth gained a co-writer's credit, and his signature even appeared alongside Davis's. However, Koth was a long-time assistant of Davis's who had done just as much work on Garfield at that point without such credit. (Koth also had co-writer's credit when he and Davis penned a short-lived strip based on Mr. Potato Head in 2001.)
  • Garfield, Dr. Liz started as an infrequent side character who usually only showed up as Garfield's grouchy vet and an occasional date partner for Jon. After Liz and Jon became an Official Couple, though, she started appearing much more often.
  • In Bloom County, Opus started out in a one-joke throwaway gag where Binkley brought him home thinking he was a German shepherd. After appearing in a few bit parts in other one-strip gags, he didn't appear for a few months, and was later re-introduced and gradually became the protagonist of the strip.
  • Thimble Theater had been running for about ten years, with the strip focusing on the misadventures of Castor Oyl, his sister Olive, and her boyfriend Hamgravy. When Popeye the sailor was introduced, he was meant to be a one shot character that took the trio to an island casino, and never seen again after bringing them back home. Instead, he was brought back as a regular, became the star of the strip, and even stole Hamgravy's's girlfriend, Olive. Though to be fair, Popeye was always faithful to Olive, while Hamgravy was only with her because she was well off, and would occasionally dump her for someone wealthier, though he came crawling back when the other woman wised up to him.

    Myth and Folklore 
  • In his first appearance in the Robin Hood ballads, Guy of Guisborne is a bounty hunter in horsehide armour who Robin beheads. Modern retellings have promoted the character to being The Dragon to the Sheriff of Nottingham (or sometimes the Big Bad himself) because he was one of the few villains from the ballads to be given a name (and a catchy one, at that), and the fact that held his own against Robin in an epic swordfight described as lasting "two howres".
  • Aeneas is a minor character in Greek mythology and appears only briefly in The Iliad, but takes on a much greater role in Roman mythology, most notably The Aeneid, being placed as the first hero of Rome itself.

  • It isn't unheard of for bands to include one of their member's (usually the lead singer) solo material into their concert set-lists and greatest hits albums. For example, Journey performed lead singer Steve Perry's hit single "Oh Sherrie" on their 1986 Raised On Radio tour.
    • Public Image Limited frequently include "Open Up", originally a collaboration between lead singer John Lydon and the group Leftfield. Less often, songs from Lydon's only solo album, Psycho's Path, are performed at PIL concerts.
  • All the time. Go through a list of your favorite bands, and it's almost a guarantee that at least a handful of those bands had a touring guitarist/bassist/drummer that eventually became a full-time member after a year or two, or, barring that, a close friend or tech who was invited to replace a departing member.
  • Bomfunk Mc's originally consisted of B.O.W., DJ Gismo and JS 16, but when Gismo left before the making of Reverse Psychology, the group expanded to feature the members of the production team Skillsters Plus One, longtime friends of the band who had remixed several of their previous singles (including what was their most recent single at the time, Back To Back). As a result, the album sounds quite different to the previous two, particularly as it ended up being their last.
  • Opening Acts. It's not uncommon for them to become more popular than the band they toured with. Or never heard from again.
  • Indietronica supergroup The Postal Service started out as a duo consisting of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. For their first and only album, Jenny Lewis was brought in to simply provide backup vocals. Her singing contributions however, were considered very important by many fans to the band’s sound that when they began touring again, she was promoted to be a full fledged main member.
  • Rare musical instrument example: Keyboard instruments (usually the harpsichord or organ) were originally used just for bass accompaniment (basso continuo). Then along came Johann Sebastian Bach, with his keyboard toccatas, preludes, fugues, passacaglias, fantasies, etc. which showed the world that keyboard instruments were fit as the main instrument of a concerto or even as a solo instrument.
    • The harpsichord fell out of favour in the 19th Century, with Bach music largely having been migrated to the piano. In the 20th century, it enjoyed a revival, thanks largely to keyboard virtuosi and harpsichord enthusiasts Violet Gordon-Woodhouse and Wanda Landowska.
  • The bassoon started out just the same way as the keyboard did. Then Antonio Vivaldi showcased the instrument in more than thirty bassoon concerti, giving the instrument the nicknames of both the clown and the gentleman of the orchestra.
  • For nearly three decades, Nine Inch Nails was a one-person project of Trent Reznor. In 2016, it expanded into a two-person project with the addition of producer Atticus Ross, after Ross had contributed production work to all of Reznor's albums since 2005's With Teeth, was a member of side project How to Destroy Angels, and had been co-composing film scores with Reznor since 2010's The Social Network.

  • The Pink Panther pinball, a very loose adaptation of The Return of the Pink Panther, elevates the jewel thief from a supporting character to equal billing with the Pink Panther himself.
  • Done with a cranenote  of all things in Last Action Hero. While it's a one-scene prop in the movie, it's the most prominent toy in the game, gets used in multiple modes, and is even featured on the sides of the cabinet and backbox.

  • Hermes had a sparing role in the original myth of Perseus and only stopped to lend his winged sandals, and Athena acted as Perseus's main helper. In the Live From Mount Olympus podcast, he's frequently alongside her and helps Perseus much more, helping him learn to fly and spiriting him to far-off places. He also narrates the tale.
  • The Chronicles Of Oz expands on members of the Emerald City staff in the books such as Jellia Jamb, Omby Amby, and the Guardian of the Gates as part of its theme of framing the stories from a The West Wing-esque political perspective, with the adaptation of the first book often following their efforts to monitor Dorothy's actions since her accidental assassination of the Wicked Witch of the East plunged Muchkinland into civil war and created unrest elsewhere in Oz.
  • The Ricky Gervais Show was initially, as its title suggests, mostly about host Ricky Gervais, co-hosted by Stephen Merchant. Karl Pilkington was just the show's producer who Gervais and Merchant sometimes asked to give a brief comment in the occasional episode. Over time, however, Pilkington's eccentric personality came to light and was given more and more time, to the point that the later series of the show revolve almost entirely around him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Before they were known for wrestling in triangle ladder matches on pay per view, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy first appeared on national television in 1994 as jobbers and sometimes didn't even appear, relegated to opening doors for other wrestlers.
  • Marcela had been making sporadic appearances for CMLL since 1997 as an extra for pareja and tercia matches until 2004 when La Amapola, who was seemingly being groomed to succeed La Diabólica, Lady Apache and Ayako Hamada, was upset by her. The next year Marcela was at the forefront of CMLL's revived women's division and stayed there for ten years.
  • Used for a World Wrestling Counsel angle, where Carly Colón had little interest in becoming a wrestler and was content to help his father's company by filming some shows. But then Ray González discovered that one of the cameramen was the son of the boss and decided to try and exploit the fact to his advantage...which led to him beating up Carly when he made it clear he wanted nothing to do with González. Then Carly decided to jump into a more active role.
  • This happens quite a bit in wrestling. Many times when there's a need for non-wrestling roles in a show, they'll hire local wrestlers or talents from their developmental programs to fill in, and it stands to reason that eventually a few of them will get called up. A couple of famous examples:
  • On !Bang! TV, Claudia "The Claw" Reiff started as the program's referee but then became a jobber and then ended up challenging for and winning the United States Title belt, beating her trainer Adam Windsor.
  • And there's a really cool one, which counts as a Retroactive Recognition moment if you only started watching wrestling in 2006. Remember at the 2005 Royal Rumble when Kurt Angle was so incensed by Shawn Michaels quickly eliminating him that he got back in the ring and returned the favor? See all those referees and other backstage personnel coming out to stop Angle from beating Michaels to death? Isn't one of them....? Yup, that's Finlay. Of course, if you were just a casual WWE fan you had no idea that he'd been in WCW a decade earlier and had been training the WWE Divas for several years.
  • John Laurinaitis was Demoted to Extra and then became an Ascended Extra. After his in-ring career was over, he eventually ended up in his more well-known role note  - but careful peeks at WWE programming from a few years ago (for example, the time Randy Orton punted Vince McMahon) will show that he's been there all along. Then, in 2011, CM Punk name-dropped him in that promo, setting up his role as an on-screen authority figure.
  • One of the security guards who carried a terrified Simon Dean to the ring for his match against the debuting Boogeyman on the December 2, 2005 SmackDown!? That's Cliff Compton, later known as Dice Domino of the tag team Deuce 'n Domino.
  • Toxxin was a clerk/manager of a tattoo parlor used by Ink Inc and Mexican America, indifferent to their difference so long as they remained peaceful in her shop. When a fight did break out though, she took Ink Inc's side. Christina Von Eerie had appeared on a TNA show the previous year alongside Shannon Moore, but it was a dark match that had no impact on any angles.
  • Happened twofold with Dolph Ziggler, who first appeared in WWE in 2005 as Chavo Guerrero Jr.'s caddy in the short-lived and controversial Kerwin White gimmick. Once that gimmick was canned, he reappeared as Nicky, a member of the Spirit Squad. He finally debuted as a singles wrestler with the Dolph Ziggler name in 2008, where he eventually became World Champion in 2011.
  • Batista first appeared in WWE as Deacon Batista, the muscle for D-Von Dudley of The Dudley Boys' short-lived Reverend D-von gimmick in 2002. It was the following year when Triple H picked him up as the main muscle for Evolution, and he went on to become a multiple-time champion.
  • The women of the WWE have become this as the Divas Division was rebranded as the Women's Division due in large part to Triple H as he took over for Laurinaitis as WWE's head of talent. Whereas Laurinaitis hired mainly models, Triple H hired female wrestlers from the indie circuit. Originally used as filler, it is now common for RAW and SmackDown to feature two (sometimes even three) women's matches on the same show due in large part to the rise of the likes of Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, and Asuka, among others.
  • Elix Skipper started his tenure in WCW as a jobber named Skip Over. By the end of WCW, he would have become a WCW Cruiserweight Champion (though that title was awarded to him by Lance Storm) and an inaugural WCW World Cruiserweight Tag Team Champion with Kid Romeo.
  • On the July 14th, 2005 episode of smackdown, Muhammad Hassan hires an attonery named Tomas Whitney to read a statment from Hassan himself. Hassan attorney would eventually become Tomasso Ciampa, a WWE wrestler who tagged with Johnny Gargano as #DIY who became NXT Tag Team Champion and Tomasso himself would eventually become NXT Champion beating Aleister Black on the July 18th, 2018 episode of NXT
  • On the May 21st, 2018 episode of Raw in a storyline feud, Sami Zayn brings out 3 of Bobby Lashley's "sisters" to try and expose him. One of the sister's was named Frances who would later go to AEW to form the Acclaimed alongside Anthony Bowens and eventually Billy Gunn as Max Caster. The Acclaimed would become AEW Tag team Champions
  • At NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2 as Samoa Joe was making his entrance, he would eventually shove a security guard into a wall. That security guard was a young Maxwell Jacob Friedman(MJF) who would go onto become the face of AEW and become AEW world Champion. When the two feuded going into Dynamite Grand Slam, this moment was also referenced as well.
  • On the October 28th, 2008 episode of ECW on the Miz's talk show "The Dirt Sheet" the duo of Miz and John morrison would bring out a duo who were impersonating DX. Those two men were Matt and Nick Jackson of the Young Bucks. Ironic since in the promo, John Morrison said that they were the elite of the elite and the Young Bucks would help found All Elite Wrestling and are apart of the elite faction in AEW.
  • Johnny Gargano has made two appearances before appearing in NXT as apart of the tag team #DIY with Tomasso Ciampa. The first was appearing on the March 23rd, 2007 episode of Smackdown to face MVP as Cedrick Von Haussen. He would later appear on an episode of Superstars as Joey Gray. Much like his tag partner Ciampa, Gargano would also become an NXT champion beating Adam Cole at NXT Takeover New York
  • There are two counts of Retroactive Recognition with the big red machine Kane if you watched WWE in the late 90s. Before Kane was the big red machine he had two seperate gimmicks. One of them was Sir Isaac Yankem which was used when he first debuted in the WWE. He had about a year long stint as Isaac Yankem before disppearing. In September 1996 after Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left WWE for WCW, Jim Ross reintroduced Diesel and Razor Ramon with Kane being Fake Diesel and Rick Bognar as Fake Razor since WWE still owned those characters
  • At Cyber Sunday 2006, Shawn Michaels was trying to vote on who the special guest referee should be for his tag match with Triple H that night. Triple H argued against voting for Mr. McMahon or Jonathan Coachman, leaving Eric Bischoff as the last choice. Shawn wasn't too displeased with that until Triple H informed him that Bischoff had claimed DX didn't understand controversial. This wound up Shawn so much that he picked the first guy he saw... a backstage producer by the name of Stan who gets superkicked. Stan would eventually become a perfect 10 as he would turn into Tye Dillinger.
  • Future AEW star Ricky Starks had only 4 matches in WWE with all of them being squash matches to showcase someone else. His first appearance in a WWE ring was on the August 7th 2012 episode of Smackdown where Ricky Starks along with a wrestler named Robbie Barnes was squashed in less than a minute by Jinder Mahal. Four years later on the January 7th, 2016 episode of NXT, Ricky Starks and Jack Hurley got beat by Enzo Amore and Big Cass(then Colin Cassady). 7 months after the squash on NXT... Ricky Starks then got squashed by Kane on the August 16th 2016 episode of Main event. His final WWE match was on the January 15th 2018 episode of Raw where Starks and Aaron Solow got squashed in less than 2 minutes by The Revival(now FTR).
  • Before he was in NXT alongside Carmelo Hayes to make the Trick-Melo Gang, Trick Williams served as one of the guards of Apollo Crews back in Apollo's Nigerian royalty character run. He can be seen on the March 5th, 2021 episode of Smackdown

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Donkey Hodie, two background puppets became recurring characters later on in the series: a possum puppet, first seen in "Spooky Shadow Swamp", became Polly the mailcarrier, and a skunk puppet, first seen in "The Cow and Potato Bug Opera", became Doctor Skunk.

  • Cackling Jack, the panel operator for Hamish and Andy. He allegedly started out as a work experience kid, and is one of many behind-the-scenes people mentioned on the air, but he gets the most amount of time on-mic after Hamish and Andy themselves.
  • The Shadow started out as the narrator of Detective Story Hour. When audiences proved more interested in the Shadow than the stories, writer Walter Gibson was commissioned to write about him. A full radio show started shortly thereafter, and a legend was born.
  • Peter Sagal was originally one of several city correspondents when Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me was first launched. The format was retooled and Sagal was promoted to host.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • A number of examples from Dino Attack RPG:
    • PeabodySam's primary character, Rex, was originally an unnamed Red Shirt in Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG, who was later Retconned and revealed to have survived.
    • Trouble was intended to be a one-off character, but his popularity ascended him to a more important role.
    • Kat was originally introduced as an Affirmative Action Girl, and her character went on to much greater importance.
    • Ata was originally The Generic Guy who thought his GPS was glitching. He was later reintroduced as a Communications Officer and ultimately revealed to be The Mole.
    • Helmie was just supposed to be an unimportant barge helmsman who got Hotwire to Ogel's Island, but his character ended up being developed much more than Jackson Lake had initially expected.
    • Hertz was introduced as a Red Shirt, but when he survived longer than usual, he graduated to Mauve Shirt and, ultimately, became that guy from that show's new primary character.
    • Frank Einstein was a seemingly minor scientist introduced shortly before the Goo Caverns Story Arc, who went on to become Dino Attack Team's Mole, the creator of Pterisa, and the one responsible for Rex's Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Like Hertz, Zelda Frodongan was introduced as a Red Shirt who defied the odds and survived, allowing her to become an important cast member.
    • The alpha female T-Rex made her brief, minor debut in Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG. She was expanded upon and given much more character in Dino Attack RPG.
  • Most of the main characters from Ruby Quest, if you consider their Animal Crossing. counterparts. Most of the characters, including Player Character Ruby and Deuteragonist Tom, are based off random villagers from the game. The only characters to be based on plot-significant characters are Red and Subject #6 (Crazy Redd and Tom Nook, respectively), and they're Demoted to Extra as secondary characters.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Toku from Legend of the Five Rings. A simple peasant farmer who became a ronin samurai, he was originally a one-shot character, but he was so loved by the fans of the card game that he was worked in as a seminal part to the overarching story, including having a Clan founded for him (the Monkey) and eventually dying in a Heroic Sacrifice...then serving in the Army of the Dead and being named a minor Fortune (deity) by the Emperor.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the Formorians were formerly just a very ugly type of giant that rarely got used. But with the creation of the default Nentir Vale setting for 4th Edition, they are now the major villain race of an entire plane (Specifically, the Feywild).
    • Tieflings have been around in the Planescape Setting since 1996, but became a Core Race with 4e.
    • 3.5 retroclone Pathfinder did this with a variety of OGL monsters as it adapted things to its own setting of Golarion. Aboleths, which had always been present but never really emphasised, became a major villainous element with a selection of purpose-bred subspecies, while the chain devil was rebuilt into an entire lineage of Cenobite knockoffs that shared its name - kytons. And then Pathfinder spinoff Starfinder, in order to better fit its interstellar setting, promoted the androids, kasatha and lashunta from optional species in adventure paths and bestiaries to full corebook races.
  • In A Touch of Evil, Lucy Hanbrook and the Scarlett Shadow were originally available as Allies. The Hero Pack One expansion made them into fully playable characters. Hero Pack Two made the Something Wicked Ally Abigail Sturn into a fully playable character.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Originally, Harald Deathwolf was simply one of the 12 Wolf Lords of the Space Wolves with no backstory. Then the Codex author thought the generic Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf model looked too cool not to have its own backstory, and so wrote the full Saga of Harald Deathwolf in the issue of White Dwarf that preceded the model's release. The model even comes with a molded shoulder pad allowing you to represent him specifically, and he was one of two Wolf Lords to get a transfer sheet for their Great Company. (Ragnar Blackmane, an actual special character, didn't) All that, and he wasn't even an official named character... until the 7th Edition Space Wolves Codex, where he became one. So he's well and truly ascended.
    • Likewise for Bran Redmaw, who went from just being a named, but generic, Wolf Lord in the 3rd edition Space Wolves Codex, to being re-envisioned by Forge World as having a severe form of the Curse of the Wulfen, which allows him to transform into a ravenous, twelve-foot-tall wolf monster. He also received rules from Forge World, and had a pair of models (one for each of his two forms) in the works. However, only his human model was ever completed, and Forge World shelved it rather than release it alone.
    • Erasmus Tycho was originally just a Blood Angels captain who appeared in a White Dwarf battle report, during which he was killed by an enemy psyker. Following this he was made a canon character with a full background, and was even made an HQ choice in the Blood Angels main force. Retaining the exact same wargear he had during his initial appearance.
    • The Crimson Slaughter were originally just a name and colour scheme, provided by Games Workshop as an example for Chaos Space Marine collectors. With the release of 6th edition, they suddenly became the focus of half of the new Dark Vengeance starter box, and wound up appearing in quite a bit of the new Chaos Space Marine Codex's photos and artwork. They then got their own supplementary Codex, ahead of several much more popular and established warbands and Traitor Legions, which led some fans to complain that they had turned into a Spotlight-Stealing Squad. This came up again a couple of years later, when Games Workshop reissued the majority of Chaos Space Marine kits to feature models in Crimson Slaughter colours in all of the box photos, replacing the Black Legion as the faction's default display army from the tail end of 6th edition until the 8th edition releases in 2019.
    • Imotekh the Stormlord was also a generic Necron Lord that appeared once in a White Dwarf battle report in late 2010, and one year later he became one of the army's first named characters when the 5th edition Codex came out.
  • Many characters mentioned in the The Realmgate Wars books for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, such as the Lady of Vines, Gardus Steel Soul and King Brodd, were promoted as playable characters with their own rules in subsequent years (Gardus was introduced in the Broken Realms supplements at the end of the 2nd edition, while the Lady and Brodd were added during the 3rd edition). Another character from The Realmgate Wars, Bael-Grimnir, was also briefly made playable as part of a supplement published in a White Dwarf issue from 2019, albeit with no dedicated model (it used the generic Auric Runefather on Magmadroth model) and became unusable as the 3rd edition came out.
  • The gynosphinx from the 1st edition D&D adventure White Plume Mountain was a simple riddling monster encounter to ensure that Only Smart People May Pass. In Paul Kidd's novelisation of the adventure for Greyhawk Classics, the Justicar and his band befriend her, and she becomes a member of the group in Kidd's subsequent novels. Her name's Enid.
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse, Citizens Hammer and Anvil were promoted from minions in Citizen Dawn's deck to having their own deck for villain team-up games, in which state they are considerably more obnoxious than they were in Dawn's.
    • Additionally, The Xtreme Prime Wardens were originally just one off things for the Obliv Aeon ARG but everyone loved them so much that they were made into variants.
  • Some characters who are apped in Super Smash Brothers Life Itself are either minor characters or people who did not have enough spotlight in their main games.
  • In the Chronicles of Darkness setting, the first edition corebook mentioned the God-Machine in a short story that also talked about Ancient Astronauts and so on. Fast-forward to 2013 and the God-Machine became a major setting element, with an entire gameline about being its rogue servants.
  • A number of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards were completely innocuous on their first printing but went on to spawn significantly more content later on.
    • Kagemusha of the Blue Flame, whose flavor text mentions him to be a body double for an unknown "ruler of the Blue Flame", was expanded into the Six Samurai archetype and lore, with the ruler in question, Shien, becoming a fairly notable boss monster. Kagemusha himself got two upgrades.
    • Petit Dragon and Archfiend Marmot of Nefariousness were completely unremarkable vanillas, but then became part of the general lore of the Charmers.
    • Dark King of the Abyss's lore mentioned he was once a powerful ruler but had been overthrown at some point. Later on, we met Dark Ruler Ha Des, the guy who had done the overthrowing in the first place, and a number of other cards went on to not only show the overthrowing in question, but also Dark King killing Ha Des in vengeance, prompting Ha Des's transformation into an undead.
    • The fat rich goblin in the artwork of Upstart Goblin got further expansion in a later set where it was revealed he had lost his money, then got his own card as the Goblin of Greed, and went on to feature in the art of countless other cards detailing his many attempts to regain his old fortune.

  • Portal 2: The (Unauthorized) Musical: Multiple:
    • The Cores that only appeared briefly at the end of the original Portal 2 are prominent characters with defined personalities and backstories. Special mention goes to Space Core, who, in a feat of Adaptational Heroism, physically drags Wheatley through the moon-portal at the end of the play.
    • Caroline is a strange example of this. While she is a very important character, she only has a few short lines in Portal 2. However, in the musical she's a very prominent character.
  • In the stage musical of Beauty and the Beast, the feather duster and the wardrobe are given bigger roles, more developed personalities, and names, Babette and Madame de la Grande Bouche, respectively.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2013 West End musical) elevates Charlie's other grandparents to equal status with Older Sidekick Grandpa Joe by having them share Mr. Exposition duties in Act One. Mr. and Mrs. Bucket (especially the former) also get more-rounded personalities and a Parental Love Song. Mrs. Teavee is elevated from a more-or-less homogenous Doting Parent in the novel into a Stepford Smiler Housewife at the mercy of an Enfant Terrible son and a key source of comedy in Act Two.
  • Neil Simon's first play, Come Blow Your Horn, briefly mentions an offstage character named Felix Ungar. Felix, of course, later became half of the eponymous duo in Simon's The Odd Couple and its film and TV adaptations.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's main character, Albus Potter, had about four lines at the end of the final Harry Potter book. Notably, all those four-ish lines are in the play, so Albus's ascension is immediate.
  • Will Parker is one half of the Beta Couple in the musical Oklahoma!. He wasn't really a character in Green Grow The Lilacs (the straight play Oklahoma! was derived from), which mentioned him once.
  • Compared to their roles in Pokémon: The Series, Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum have much larger roles in Pokémon Live!.
  • As per the usual, Shakespeare Did It.
    • Several minor characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth seem to barely qualify to have names until very late into the play.
    • Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare's source, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, he makes one appearance, and only gets mentioned at all because he happens to be sitting next to Juliet at the feast. Shakespeare makes him Romeo's best friend, the only person who can maintain connections with both the Capulets and the Montegues, a Trickster and a Deadpan Snarker.
    • In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the two most minor characters in Hamlet become the focus of the whole story, and Hamlet becomes just a bit part.
  • Shrek: The Musical expands the roles of Pinocchio, Gingy, and the rest of the banished fairy tale creatures by introducing a new substory in which they rebel against Lord Farquaad's laws against "freaks". This new story, of course, was included to help further the show's moral of embracing one's uniqueness, and their show stopping number, "Freak Flag", delivers the message perfectly.
  • In Noah Smith's stage version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Utterson's kinsman Richard Enfield is a major character. In the novel, he only appeared in a couple of scenes, and his only significant part in the plot was to witness the flower girl incident and later tell Utterson about it.
  • The Wiz gives the Good Witch of the North a larger role than she had in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In that book, she prepared Dorothy for her journey to the eponymous wizard, then disappeared for the rest of the story. In the play (and NBC's telecast), the witch (now named Addaperle), re-appears after the Wiz leaves Dorothy behind in Oz, then calls Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, to help Dorothy go home to Kansas.
  • In and out universe in The Phantom of the Opera. Christine is a chorus girl before the Phantom's scheming gets her placed in a lead role. Meanwhile, ever since the show's debut, many of the understudies/alternates for the lead roles (Christine, Raoul, the Phantom) have eventually taken them on—Rebecca Cain was an alternate Christine in the London cast before playing her in the Toronto production.
  • A downplayed example in Heathers: In the original movie, Martha Dunnstock is just a solitary figure who exists to be the butt of the school, whom Veronica ends up befriending. In the musical, Martha becomes Veronica's longtime childhood friend.

  • The Toa Inika from BIONICLE started out as mere Matoran who were barely mentioned (if at all) in the Chronicles series of books. In Legends, however, they become the central heroes for the first two thirds of the Mask of Life story arc. Special mention goes to Hahli who started out as a randomly introduced Ga-Matoran in 2002, replacing the little-known Kotu as the series' "secondary" Ga-Matoran character, and was Promoted to Love Interest to Jaller almost immediately. In 2003, she was the star of her own online game and became an important supporting character in The Movie, thereby pushing Macku, the former "main" Ga-Matoran, into "second-tier" status.
    • Most of the '04 Matoran characters first appeared in '03 in the Mata Nui Online Game II as background NPCs — although in-universe, they've technically been demoted to extras, seeing as '04 was a flashback year. An exception is Ahkmou: introduced as an unnamed bazaar trader in the original MNOG, brought back and given a name in MNOG II, and released as a set in '04 (which might have been purely coincidental — the toy looked like him, but there's no indication that that was the designers' intent), preserving some of his storyline importance even later on in the series. This would have culminated in him becoming a Toa and thus getting a new set in 2008, but its plans were canceled.
    • Mata Nui, a major Big Good of the series, occupied a slot in the background as The Ghost since even though he was important, he had no active role in the story. This is turned on its head during the 2009-2010 storyline, where he becomes more or less the protagonist after he is forced out of his Humongous Mecha body by Makuta.
  • Take Care Bear of the Care Bears had only appeared in one coloring book in 1987, and nowhere else. Most fans never knew her. Then, the 2002 relaunch of the Care Bears included Take Care Bear in the toyline. Her tummy symbol from 1987 was an apple, because Take Care Bear promoted good health; but the apple now belongs to Smart Heart Bear, so Take Care Bear's tummy symbol is now a heart hugging a star.
  • Transformers: There's numerous examples, but exclusively toy wise one of the biggest would be Exhaust. Initially he was an unnamed redeco of Wheeljack with a new head that was an homage to Marlboro Cigarettes (named Marlboor for trademark reasons). He's only been referenced twice in fiction (once in the Dreamwave comics and again in a minor toy redeco of Prime Wheeljack), and his original toy isn't even a Transformer, it's still part of the Diaclone line. He saw no headway until 2014 where it's revealed that the Masterpiece Wheeljack, one off the most expensive and articulated of figures, would get a retool into him (as well as retroactively naming him Exhaust as he went by Marlboor Wheeljack before).

    Visual Novels 
  • After being Demoted to Extra in the original version of Tsukihime, Satsuki Yumizuka (Sacchin to fans) has been confirmed to have regained her own route in the upcoming Tsukihime remake. Isn't it great, Sacchin?
    • While the remake appears to be in Development Hell, that hasn't stopped Satsuki from appearing as a playable character in the spinoff game Melty Blood.
    • There’s also Len, Arceuid’s succubus familiar. In the original game she only appears for one scene in two routes, is disguised as whatever character Shiki’s crushing on, and is forgotten afterwards. In the fandisc sequel Kagetsu Tohya she appears in her true form and is the pivotal character of the main story.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • While an important character, Archer has little actual relevance to the Fate route that the anime is based off of. However, he's such a popular/interesting character that his importance and screen time are rather increased. They mostly drag in bits of information from the UBW path and fully animate the battle with Berserker, which was only alluded to in the game itself.
    • Sakura's rare and unobtrusive appearances in the first two arcs would not lead players to suspect she'd become the Love Interest and MacGuffin Super-Person of the final arc.
    • Yukika, Kaede and Kane, those three girls who only appear in a single scene of the Fate/stay night Visual Novel become recurring characters in the sequel Fate/hollow ataraxia, even getting a whole side story to themselves.
    • Also from Fate/hollow ataraxia is Lancer’s master Bazett, who was barely mentioned in the original game due to having been killed by Kirei. Similarly to Len above, Bazett becomes a key character in the story.
    • Mordred started off as just being mentioned in the original Visual Novel. They then got a cameo in the anime, being summoned in Fate/Apocrypha, and then gets the closest role to a Deuteragonist amongst the summonable Servants in Fate/Grand Order.
  • Fragment's Note has a few of these, but the most prominent examples are Rina and Shizuku Akikawa; the former appears only for one or two scenes in After Stories, while the latter is mentioned once and never actually appears. In the sequel, both of them are fairly prominent characters.
  • Majikoi! Love Me Seriously!: Oodles and oodles of characters get their own standing drawings and voice actors/actresses in the sequel, such as the Ninja Maid contingent, assistant instructor Ru, and Gale and Gates, to name but a few. A handful also get the vaunted heroine treatment.
  • In Akatsuki no Goei's fandisc, the supporting character Kyouka got her own proper route, as did Anzu. Kyouka seems as though she may have been intended to be a heroine in the original story, though.
  • In AIR, Kano Kirishima and Minagi Tohno were Demoted to Extra, and never referenced again, not even in the movie. However, both girls were given a second chance in Eternal Fighter Zero, where they appear as playable characters: Kano uses elemental magic to fight, and Minagi weaponizes her rice tickets. Minagi's friend Michiru counts as well, as she and Minagi fight jointly, although you can only control Michiru vis special moves.
  • Something similar happened to characters from Kanon: Sayuri Kurata was originally a support character, but not one of the selectable girls, however, she became a playable character in Eternal Fighter Zero, where she fights with Magical Girl powers.
    • Later, in the Bad Moon Edition Updated Re-release, Kaori Misaka and Mishio Amano were added to the roster: Kaori as a powerful boxer, and Mishio as a spear master; Much later, in the Memorial version, Akiko Minase was also added as a playable character, she fights with a vast array of household tools, and can also use her "Special Jam" in battle.
  • NomnomNami seems to have a habit of turning supporting characters into main characters.

    Web Video 
  • GamerGod88 is one for Jacksfilms, appearing in a few sketches before becoming the star of his own show.
  • From the Yogscast as a group:
    • Turpster was never exactly "unimportant", but was more of a behind the scenes kind of guy during the early days. However, he started doing more livestreams and gained a bit of an audience, eventually gaining his own channel. Then he became a recurring player on Sips' channel for Garry's Mod, and developed a substantial fanbase. While his uploading is still more sporadic compared to the rest of the crew, he's hardly the lesser-known figure from before.
    • Strippin was initially just an admin at Yogtowers, but became good friends with InTheLittleWood and Sparkles*, appearing with them on Christmas livestreams and gaining a loyal fanbase. He was eventually given the go-ahead from Lewis Brindley to launch his own channel, and the rest is history.
  • The Annoying Orange: Pear made a brief appearance in the first episode as a one-off gag. He didn't make another appearance until 13 episodes in, and a few seasons later was elevated to become the Deuteragonist to Orange.
  • SuperMarioLogan: The Brooklyn Guy appeared in an SML Short and didn't appear again until "Bowser Junior's Summer School 5". Following this, he became more of a recurring/major character afterwards, like Pear in the above example.
  • In Noob T-Man was a Recurring Extra that was showed up whenever a scene required a Coalition players that wasn't one of the other established ones. By the time Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions and Noob: La Quête Légendaire roll in, he's the first to benefit from the bigger focus the Coalition has been getting.
  • Majority of the cast of YouTubers React were the subject of Kids and Teens episodes before joining the show, and in some cases (e.g. Lucas Cruikshank, Ian Hecox, Anthony Padilla, Justine Ezarik, Tay Zonday, Rebecca Black) before YouTubers even premiered.
  • Belkinus Necrohunt:
    • Cyril and Julius, the two goons that Nathaniel and Renee recruited early on show up again in Session 8, having succeeded at their "initiation" and are now employed by their syndication, with portrait art when they had none before.
    • An Earth Genasi that Renee gave a knife to also appears with her own portrait art, but as a bandit robbing deliveries to a potion shop that Renee has to deal with.
    • Session 12 features numerous faces from the past making a reappearance, some with new portrait art, as the Tiefling from Session 1 and Rottak the bard have joined the Protectors to, respectively, avenge their dead friend and help pay for a sick sister. The latter even joins the syndication like Cyril and Julius after Renee recruits her.
    • Session 13 has the return of Grikyak, the down-on-his-luck goblin merchant from the first episode, who the party purchase supplies from, as well as some horses to expedite the next part of their journey. Session 14, similarly, features the return of No-Tail, another traveling merchant the party had encountered before.
  • Danganronpa Re:Birth has Narumi Osone, who goes from just another student in the Japanese version to the Big Bad of the English version.
  • Search for Sandvich: The Giggling Secretary from the background of "the Plot Thickens!" returns in "Out to Sea!", this time directly interacting with Sniper and having dialogue.
  • Critical Role:
    • Essek Thelyss was never meant to be a major player in the second campaign, merely serving as a Neutral Evil instigator of the war between the Empire and the Dynasty, and the Mighty Nein's main point of contact with the Dynasty's leadership. However, the Nein took a shining to him and set out to befriend him, and by the end of the campaign, he has pulled a Heel–Face Turn, entered a romantic relationship with Caleb, and become an official member of the Mighty Nein.
    • Laudna, one of Bell's Hells, is eventually revealed to be one of the nameless corpses hung from the Sun Tree in campaign 1 to leave a message for Vox Machina, brought back to life as a Hollow One by Delilah Briarwood.

    Real Life 
  • Mammals were originally the size of badgers that played second fiddle to the dinosaurs during the Mesozoic period. But once the asteroid struck and the dinosaurs (except birds) died out, this allowed the mammals to dominate the Earth as the larger animals.
  • Zigzagged, but downplayed with the dwarf planet Ceres. Like Pluto, Ceres too was originally considered a planet at the time it was discovered but was eventually downgraded to being an asteroid after more, similar objects like Vesta, Pallas, and Juno were discovered as well, but the same circumstances that resulted in Pluto being downgraded to being a dwarf planet also resulted in Ceres being reclassified as a dwarf planet as well. Although some fans still think Ceres should still remain as an asteroid and Pluto, even after being downgraded, will still be more recognizable than Ceres.
  • Most historical figures and celebrities originally began as regular people.