Follow TV Tropes


Demoted to Extra

Go To
Over the course of three films, Cyclops moves to the back (while Wolverine moves to the front).

"Remember when we used to do stuff? You know, be out there with them and help?"
Bulma, Dragon Ball Z Abridgednote .

When a main character or prominent member of the supporting cast all but disappears for a sequel, new season, adaptation, or The Movie. While not completely written out, they are stripped of any plot importance in favor of a new role as background filler, at most giving a Mandatory Line or two before fading back into irrelevancy. The character's existing fanbase will complain, while everyone else may just accept it as the new status quo.

Opposite of the Ascended Extra; instead of a background or one-off character becoming a key member of the supporting cast, a key member of the supporting cast becomes a background or one-off character. And of Adaptational Protagonist, when either minor or major characters acquire the main lead role in an adaptation. Also contrast Spotlight-Stealing Squad, which can also cause this to happen; that said, there may not be anyone in particular that takes these characters' screentime, and the presence of a Spotlight Stealing Squad doesn't mean no one else is plot-important anymore. In works where Anyone Can Die, supporting characters fated to die may end up demoted to extra before their deaths.

This trope is for characters who become unimportant to the story, but are still seen or mentioned occasionally; for characters who disappear completely from the story as if they had never existed, see Chuck Cunningham Syndrome for when they disappear from the original work and Adapted Out for when they never appear in the adaptation. For when a character has (or multiple characters have) extended periods of irrelevancy within the same work to give others the spotlight, see Rotating Arcs.

Super-Trope to Demoted to Comic Relief and Demoted to Satellite Love Interest. Compare Shoo Out the Clowns, Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer, Not as You Know Them, The Artifact, Out of Focus, What Happened to the Mouse?, Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, and Commuting on a Bus. Contrast Ascended Extra, Breakout Character, and Ensemble Dark Horse.


    open/close all folders 

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, all five Supermen are the series' protagonists for the most part, but in the mini-season Happy Heroes and the City of Mystery, only Careful S. is a main character. The other four, Happy S., Sweet S., Smart S., and Careless S., are reduced to making brief appearances when they are summoned by the Skill Balls, which were invented by Doctor H. to help Careful S. out during his journey on Planet Earth.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Wolnie still appears in Pleasant Goat Fun Class, but she has less screen time than she does in the original show. Instead, Wolffy spends more time with the goats.

    Comic Strips 
  • This eventually happened to Cutter John in Bloom County. Though he didn't disappear like the scores of other characters who were dropped from the comic, his role was dramatically reduced by the strip's end (Word of God being that wheelchairs are difficult to draw within the confines of a comic strip panel).
  • After the 9/11 attacks, The Boondocks became less of a slice-of-life comedy strip and commented more on world news. It takes few to commentate, so the strip neglected everyone except Huey, Riley, Granddad, Caesar, and Tom. Eventually a few characters were brought back, though Jazmine was mad that Huey wasn't worried about her while she was gone.
    Jazmine: I guess you were too busy sitting here and making mean-spirited comments about the world to realize we hadn't seen each other for two years!!
    Huey: By the way, did you hear that "Meth And Red" got canc-
    Jazmine: AARRRGH!!
  • The London Evening Standard used to run a cartoon called Clive about a boy of 17-18 and his various escapades. However, the strip began focusing less on him and more on his ten-year-old sister Augusta, until he was such a minor character that the strip was renamed Augusta. It was recognisably the same strip, especially since it still had all the Running Gags of its previous incarnation.
  • Tommy from Dennis the Menace (US) started out as a prominent character, but as Joey became more popular, Tommy's appearances became fewer and further between, until he eventually disappeared from the strip, only making occasional appearances in the Dennis the Menace Pocket Full of Fun books. Ironically enough in the 1959 live-action series, when Joey left after the first season, he remained on for the rest of the series.
  • Dilbert 's transition from slice of life absurdism to office satire meant the more fantastical characters were marginalized (Ratbert, Bob the Dinosaur, Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light) if not eliminated altogether (Zimbu the Monkey, Dawn and Rex). There's also Mordac the Preventer of Information Services, who went from a regular recurring villain to appearing infrequently.
  • On the Fastrack used to star Bob Shirt, but compared to the other characters, he was boring. For many years now, he has appeared almost exclusively in ensembles — the only exception being him complaining about his reduced role at Fastrack. Another Bill Holbrook comic, Safe Havens, used to star Matt Havens. He hasn't appeared at all in the last decade.
  • Luann was initially a comic largely about the titular character and her classmates and family. Once Brad, her brother, started becoming more and more important to the strip, gaining his own storylines, most of the teenage cast was downgraded significantly. Even Luann's best friends Bernice and Delta rarely appeared, to say nothing of poor Knute and Crystal, themselves Satellite Characters of others.
    • Things moved to a pattern: Brad and Luann would alternate focus each week. Luann's storylines tended to alternate between using her parents and using her friends. Every other month we usually get a week focusing on Gunther and Knute.
    • The transition to college has oddly seen Brad and Toni move to the background (often barely appearing at all), with Luann, Gunther, Bernice, Quill and Tiffany being the major characters. Crystal and Knute now almost never appear, and Delta has moved away and disappeared. Then after breaking up with Luann, Quill disappeared altogether as well. The storylines now alternate between Luann (with Bernice), Gunther, and Tiffany.
  • This happens all the time in Newspaper Comics — the long-running American strip Nancy was initially based around the title character's aunt Fritzi (the original title was Fritzi Ritz).
  • Harry the Head was originally a major character in Oink!, with his strip occupying a full page each issue, and having a number of multi-part adventures. In later editions, his strip had been reduced to an occasional three-frame gag.
  • This happened to a number of early Peanuts characters including Shermy, Patty, Violet, Frieda, Pig-Pen (of these only Pig-Pen stuck it out until the end). For example, in the 1980's and 1990's, Patty (not to be confused with the more prominent Peppermint Patty) appeared in eighteen strips, in comparison in the first year of the comic she was in 249. Word of God said Patty and Violet got the shaft because Lucy worked better as a female bully character, so it would be too redundant to have all three of them featured prominently.
  • Retail had a shake up in 2012 where Stuart, the store manager, was promoted to district manager, with his assistant Marla taking over his old spot. While Stuart still shows up, he doesn't appear as frequently these days. Since 2015, however, Stuart began making more frequent appearances, either by talking to Marla by phone, or through his store visits.
  • Once upon a time, back in 1919, there was a comic called "Take Barney Google f'rinstance". The titular character was a diminutive gambler with a gigantic angry wife. The wife was written out, and Barney got himself a horse named Spark plug, and the strip was renamed "Barney Google and Spark Plug". In 1934, Barney found himself deep in the Appalachians, where he met a hill-billy named "Snuffy Smith". And the strip was renamed, again, "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith". Here Barney would live for 20 years, until he left in 1954... But the comic stayed with Snuffy, and Barney became a rare guest in the comic carrying his name, usually several years going by without the originating character appearing in the strip.
  • The comic strip originally called Robotman shifted focus to the original titular character's creator, Monty, and was eventually renamed for him. Robotman himself was written out entirely in favor of a diminutive alien named Mr. Pi, who himself was demoted to extra when Monty's time traveling distant descendent showed up with his own robot sidekick, Dave, who is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the strip's original title character.
  • The strip Thimble Theatre began in 1919, and revolved around the character Harold "Ham" Gravy and his girlfriend Olive Oyl playing characters in slice-of-life stories. The theatrical aspect was later dropped, and Olive's diminutive brother Castor Oyl became an Ascended Extra as the strip shifted into an adventure comedy series, reducing Ham Gravy into to sidekick role. And then in 1929, they needed to hire a sailor. And thus Popeye was born. Not only was he a Breakout Character that became the lead and soon stole Harold's girlfriend, he became a cultural icon with a hugely popular series of theatrical shorts, TV series and a movie. Castor Oyl was demoted back to supporting player (and makes only one unvoiced cameo appearance in the shorts), while Ham Gravy was exiled from the strip entirely, disappearing for about 80 years. And when he finally did return, he became a total Butt-Monkey villain.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Omar Ben Salaad — a drug-running strongman from The Crab with the Golden Claws — is reduced to a mere plot-advancer, as proprietor of the third Unicorn model.
  • Most of the cast of Aladdin, including the titular character, as the later merchandise based on the film focuses primarily on Jasmine due to her being a Disney Princess. Special mention goes to Rajah the tiger, likely due to how difficult it would be to animate his stripes, especially since the sequels and TV series were all animated with a lower budget.
  • Tony Toponi and Bridget get demoted to background characters with a couple of blink-and-you-miss-it cameos in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West after having played a pretty large role in the first film.
  • In Balto II: Wolf Quest, Balto is the only character from the first movie to get any significant screen time. All of the other characters from the first movie who appear at all only do so for a few scenes at the beginning, including Boris and Jenna.
  • Faline's role in Bambi was decreased compared to in the original book. Faline is Bambi's cousin in the book and has a twin brother named Gobo who was Adapted Out. In the books, Bambi and his cousins meet often as fawns and spend a lot of time together (especially after their mothers start distancing themselves from their children after being weaned). In the film, Faline and Bambi meet once and don't meet again until they're adults. Faline and Bambi's courtship is also given more depth in the books, as is the process of Bambi distancing himself from Faline which was left out of the film.
  • Combined with Decomposite Character, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight sees Jacob Packer, Bruce's Honorary Uncle in Gotham by Gaslight, reduced to a mere cameo as Bruce's lawyer and Commissioner Gordon take his role as Jack the Ripper.
  • In the original comic version of Batman: Hush, a reformed Harvey Dent/Two-Face was a key player in the arc. The animated version sees Two-Face in a montage of Batman and Catwoman working together and that's it.
  • Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World gives Chip this treatment. He's one of the main characters in the original movie and is still prominent in The Enchanted Christmas. In this Compilation Movie, Chip is almost reduced to a literal Living Prop. It doesn't help that his busiest segment, "Mrs. Potts's Party", is cut from Disney+.
  • Cars franchise:
    • Almost the whole cast, including the first movie's protagonist Lightning McQueen, gets smaller roles in Cars 2 while Mater takes over as the main character.
    • And in Cars 3, Mater has only a few scenes after being the protagonist of Cars 2.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022): The original Rangers sans Chip and Dale themselves don't have much screentime. Monty is a Small Role, Big Impact whose kidnapping kicks off the main plot, while Gadget and Zipper only appear at the beginning and near the end when they help Dale rescue Chip from Sweet Pete.
  • The girls in Despicable Me 2. After being the main characters along with Gru in the first film, they essentially serve as living props in favor of giving the Minions more sequences. The Minions even get a role in the villain plot while Margo, Edith and Agnes sit on the sidelines.
  • FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue: Crysta has a very diminished role in the sequel, despite being the central character in the first film.
  • Finding Dory:
    • Crush and Squirt have even less screentime than in the first movie, and the Tank Gang, who had prominent roles in the first movie, only appear in The Stinger.
    • Any of Mr. Ray's students who had speaking roles in the first film are silent, aside from Kathy the Chicken Fishnote .
  • Todd in The Fox and the Hound 2, where he ends up doing chores, neglected by Copper, and becomes The Woobie just because he wanted to play with his friend. Justified, since he was the protagonist of the first film, where it focused on his life before and after his abandonment.
  • The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild: Manny, Sid, Diego, and Ellie have severely reduced roles with Buck, Crash, and Eddie being thrust in the spotlight.
  • In Search of the Titanic:
    • Maltravers was the main villain of the first movie but here only appears in three scenes, never interacts with the main characters, and has little purpose in the movie.
    • Elizabeth herself counts too. She mainly just appears in the background, has maybe 5 lines, and is only really featured in the beginning and at the end. And she was practically the main character in the first movie!
  • The Jungle Book:
    • The wolves, despite their prominent role raising Mowgli in the original book, only appear at the beginning of the original film and do not appear at all in the sequel or spin offs. Akela in particular: easily one of the most important characters in the book, here he appears for only a single scene and winds up being incredibly forgettable (he also gets a key appearance in an episode of Jungle Cubs however).
    • Bagheera and Kaa in the sequel. Though their two of the most important characters in both Kipling's book and in the original movie, in the sequel their barely involved in the plot and only show up to get beat up a lot.
    • Hathi has two scenes in the sequel when he was a major supporting character in the original.
  • Justice League: The New Frontier, the animated film adaptation of DC: The New Frontier, reduces the roles of several characters from the original comic to brief cameos or mentions, the most notable examples being the Justice Society (who are only briefly shown in the title sequence and mentioned by Superman), the Losers (who have their story from the beginning of the first issue omitted and are only shown briefly in a montage of imagery later in the film) and Thomas Kalmaku (who appears for a split-second as opposed to calling out Hal Jordan for calling him "Pieface").
  • Kuzco, who had been the protagonist of the The Emperor's New Groove, in the sequel Kronk's New Groove, when Kronk takes the lead.
  • Master Shifu, who had a major role in the first movie, in Kung Fu Panda 2. He gets a couple of brief scenes at the start, then sends Po and the Five on their way while he remains in the Valley of Peace until the very end when he does a Big Damn Heroes bit. Justified in that his character arc was mostly done with by the end of the first movie and someone had to watch the Jade Palace. Thankfully averted with the Furious Five, who appear much more this time around, and all of them actively help Po out throughout the film.
  • Several characters in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Unikitty, Benny and Metalbeard are now tertiary characters at best, President Business appears just at the beginning and end (though it's kind of justified by him being based on Finn's father, who doesn't physically appear at all this time), but Vitruvius and Bad Cop have it even worse: both have been reduced to silent cameos that last a couple of seconds.
  • Lilo Pelekai in any material outside the Lilo & Stitch movies and Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Stitch is the regular moneymaker, while Lilo hardly, barely, or never gets a mention. Even Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep omitted her from their movie-themed level (though it is a prequel), she only gets a cameo in the Stitch! anime showing that she now has a similar-looking daughter of her own, and is only shown in flashbacks in the Chinese animated series Stitch & Ai. Even worse, the men behind Lilo & Stitch: The Series do not wish for the franchise to continue with Lilo because "[her] story is done",note  that they do not want to "ruin" fans' memories of the now-adult Daveigh Chase as the voice of Lilo, and that they find the idea of a series set in the older life of a once-young character (akin to shows like Fuller House, Girl Meets World, and Raven's Home) to be "cliché". Nevertheless, Lilo was finally brought back as a lead in the children's book series Agent Stitch, which began in 2022, although her presence in contemporary marketing remains woefully limited.
  • The Lion King:
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • Prince Eric has a recurring role in the TV series, is a supporting character in the second film, and makes no appearance in the prequel.
    • In contrast to the first movie, Flounder and King Triton have very few appearances in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, with the former now also portrayed as a father to several baby fish.
    • Max the Sheepdog has minor roles in Return to the Sea and TV series. He makes no appearance in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, though considering Eric doesn't appear either, he had no reason to.
    • The mermaid's sisters in original The Little Mermaid story appear several times to help her. In the Disney film, they only briefly appear (though they're given more screen time in Ariel's Beginning, the cartoon series, books, and comics).
  • The Magic Roundabout (2005): Florence's role in the film was greatly reduced from a Deuteragonist in the series to a supporting character in the film. This was justified due to her being trapped in the frozen roundabout throughout the whole film. The same case occurs with Mr. Rusty, who was reduced from a main/supporting character to a minor character in the film as he was one of the victims trapped on the roundabout.
  • Bamm-Bamm has no dialogue in The Man Called Flintstone. Pebbles is largely unimportant, but gets two musical numbers (one of them helping to motivate Fred to continue his espionage job). Dino and Hoppy meanwhile only appear in an early scene, though it is fairly important as it helps kick off the plot.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games:
    • The original Twilight Sparkle — her native human world version (who was alluded to in the original movie and made a cameo in The Stinger of the first sequel) gets a major role in the film, and causes the portal between both worlds to be sealed. After the entire plot plays out and things go back to normal, the original Twilight only crosses over to the human world in the film's last moments.
    • Flash Sentry has been pushed further into the background as the movies have progressed, most likely due to the backlash he garnered as a Satellite Love Interest.
    • Snips and Snails, who had a major role in the first film and a comedy role in the second, and Trixie, who had a notable cameo in the first film and a major role in the second, have no lines in Friendship Games and only briefly appear in the background.
  • In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), The Cutie Mark Crusaders, who have speaking roles in the TV series, are mostly silent. Apple Bloom has a voice credit because she can be briefly heard in the pony choir during the song "We Got This Together", but Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are not credited at all.
  • In The Peanuts Movie, Linus' role as Charlie Brown's best friend and confidant is largely taken over by Snoopy, who's more supportive than in most adaptations.
  • The Blue Fairy, while still an important character, has a smaller role in Pinocchio than she does in the original book. Many of her actions and dialogue are given to Jiminy Cricket instead.
  • Pocahontas:
    • In the sequel, former Deuteragonist John Smith appears in the first scene of the movie, then doesn't get any more real screen time until very late. Justified in that he is presumed dead for most of the movie as a plot point, is revealed to be a cloaked figure in the middle of the film, and resumes an important role towards the end. A few other previously major characters, namely Chief Powhatan, Nakoma, and Grandmother Willow, as they only appear in the beginning, staying behind in America when Pocahontas leaves for England. In fact, Grandmother Willow only appears in one scene in the entire movie for about a minute (though she is a tree...).
  • In The Clever Princess, the witch raises Arete and is entrusted, along with Mrs Ample, by Arete with ruling her new realm after the deaths of Boax and Grovel. Princess Arete reduces her role to merely giving Arete a magic ring when Boax curses Arete.
  • Aaron, Moses's compatriot and aide in the Exodus, becomes less relevant to the story in The Prince of Egypt and does not personally support Moses until after the plagues have been unleashed; conversely, Tzipporah becomes an Ascended Extra. She, instead of Aaron, is with Moses in the staves-to-snakes scene.
  • Queer Duck: The Movie gives this treatment to the original web series' recurring antagonist, a fictional representation of real-life homophobe Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Her only appearance in the movie is a cameo where her photograph is one of the ingredients used in the serum the movie's villain Reverend Vandergelding concocts in his plan to make Queer Duck straight.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet: Felix and Calhoun are only present for a few scenes towards the beginning and end of the movie. Felix ends up coming off only slightly better than Calhoun does, as he has an additional scene with Ralph in Tapper's.
  • In the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King, Legolas and Gimli are reduced to background characters who have a few non speaking cameos, while Saruman doesn't appear at all. Faramir also crops up at the end. In a non-speaking moment with no explanation as to who he is. In order to give Éowyn a happy ending. The perils of Adaptation Distillation.
  • One notorious example is Ms. Brisby in The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. While Brisby was the main protagonist of the first film, not only does the sequel avoid giving any mention of what she accomplished, let alone any role in the plot, she is on-screen for a grand total of 25 seconds, and only has two or three lines of dialogue.
  • Talia al Ghul is the Big Bad of Batman and Son in the comics, but her movie role in Son of Batman is quite smaller. Much of her original role is given to Deathstroke in the film.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Ganke Lee, Miles Morales's roommate and Secret-Keeper in the comics is still his roommate, but spends most of the film ignoring Miles via Headphones Equal Isolation, and doesn't have a voice actor even when he does react to the plot.
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: Peter B. Parker was the Deuteragonist of the first movie and played a key role as Miles' mentor. In the sequel, he doesn't show up until the start of the third act. Though for what it's worth there are a lot of characters in this one, and Peter still does have an impactful conversation with Miles in the climax.
  • Any major character from the show who isn't SpongeBob, Patrick and Plankton in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Squidward and Sandy only show up a few times, and Mr. Krabs spends the movie frozen. Fortunately, the characters' appearances in the second movie are much more prominent.
  • In the Donkey Kong Country games, Diddy Kong is Donkey Kong's friend and has a major role. In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, he makes a cameo as a spectator, but doesn't get a major role like in the games.
  • While not big players in the opening arc of Superman/Batman Public Enemies (2004), Lois Lane, Starfire, and Katana did have lines. In its animated adaptation Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, they do appear, but don't speak, with Lois Lane only appearing in the end. It's especially notable in Katana's case since in the comic, she was allied with Superman, Batman, and Power Girl.
  • The Finale Movie of Teacher's Pet reduces the roles of all of Spot/Scott and Leonard's classmates with the exception of Ian Wazselewski (who turns out later to be the nephew of the film's villain Dr. Ivan Krank), to the extent that they only have one or two lines of dialogue and vanish from the plot after the school year ends.
  • Toy Story:
    • Slinky's role in Toy Story 3 is much smaller compared to his part in the first two films; he is a background character for most of the movie and his only real standout scenes are helping Woody defeat the Cymbal-Banging Monkey, as well as briefly jumping across the trash chute to the dumpster before being thwarted by Lotso. This is possibly due to him being The Other Darrin after his original voice actor Jim Varney's death.
    • Woody becomes the main protagonist in Toy Story 4 while former Deuteragonist Buzz becomes a supporting character in the "B" story. Andy and Bonnie’s toys are minor characters in this movie.
  • Dogmatix (Idefix), while one of the main characters in the books, only makes a few brief appearances in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix.
  • Christopher Robin was originally the star of the Winnie the Pooh books; in the poetry books he appears often and has several poems dedicated to him (as opposed to Pooh, who only appears in one poem in When We Were Very Young and only appears occasionally in Now We Are Six), and while he was moved Out of Focus for the Pooh stories he remained a central character. In the first Disney featurettes he was also a major character, but in later productions he got smaller and smaller roles, quite often being left out entirely. The out-of-universe reason is that Christopher Robin was a real person, and he had never been fond of the way he was portrayed in his father's books, even when he was a child. Up until his death, the real Christopher Robin was very picky about his portrayal in Disney's animated works.

  • After Monica's arc in Witch Hunter detailing around her awakening as a witch, defeating the witch plaguing her village and joining the Witch Hunter organization she is soon reduced to the background as a minor character with a crush on Tasha.

  • Malin Berggren used to be the lead vocalist of Ace of Base for the first two studio albums, then got more and more into the background note  and her sister Jenny had to fill the void, and eventually quit the band (and her sister a few years later as well).
  • After the Smile sessions ground to a halt, Brian Wilson's role in The Beach Boys diminished significantly, though he did manage to pitch in a few great songs on each album (many of them leftover Smile songs, in fact). His mental illness certainly didn't help.
  • Alan Myers was the drummer for Devo up until the mid-eighties, after they recorded Shout. By that point Devo had made him somewhat obsolete on record, relying increasingly on drum machines rather than acoustic drums, so Myers left essentially out of creative boredom.
  • On The Megas album Megatainment, Cut Man and Guts Man, despite being two of the more well known Robot Masters, don't show up at all. There's been talk of making a Megatainment Pt. 2, but The Megas have expressed a desire to finish the Mega Man 3 album before they get to work on that, and there's the issue of how they're going to fill it with more than just the songs for those two.note 
  • Mercury Rev:
    • Flautist Suzanne Thorpe was credited as part of the guest orchestra from All Is Dream onwards. It was generous to credit her as a band member to begin with considering that she didn't play on every song and didn't appear with the band in interviews and photo shoots.
    • David Fridmann gradually phased himself out of the band, first declining to tour with them from 1995 onwards and then quitting as bass player before 2005's The Secret Migration while continuing to produce the band's albums. This was the result of his growing profile as a Record Producer, particularly for fellow studio perfectionists The Flaming Lips, which as a result forced him to put his participation in Mercury Rev on the backburner. However, he remained credited as the band's bass player while still a studio player, making this case an aversion.
  • Roger Waters-I mean Pink Floyd:
    • They did this to Richard Wright, as he was no longer a member of the band during The Wall but still played on that album. Their next album, The Final Cut, lacked him altogether. David Gilmour brought him back, but still as an extra on the first Waters-less album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Then The Division Bell (the final album of the band) credited Wright as a band member again.
    • Before that, the band did this to Syd Barrett, due to his drug use causing increasingly erratic behavior. He only appears on a few tracks on their second album.
  • The Pixies bassist Kim Deal was highly prominent on the debut album as a vocalist. On the following ones, not so much, as Black Francis started to develop an I Am the Band attitude. When Francis broke the band up in 1993, he didn't even bother telling Deal personally, instead breaking the news to her through a fax.
  • The Rolling Stones:
    • Keyboardist Ian Stewart was an original member, but when they began recording in 1963 their manager, Andrew "Loog" Oldham, had him officially demoted to road manager, mainly because his straitlaced, short-haired look didn't fit the image Oldham was trying to cultivate for the band. Because the band still liked him, Stewart did continue to appear on the Stones' recordings, though, and occasionally performed with them on stage until his death and was inducted with the rest of the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. He - by any meaningful measure - was still a full member of the band, so his demotion really only was relevant in promotional material.
    • Less dramatically, this is more or less what happened to Brian Jones as the '60s progressed. Originally the Stones' leader, Jones was relegated to an increasingly secondary role in the group, due to the emergence of the Jagger-Richards partnership (Jones didn't write any songs and wasn't a big creative force in the band) and his own personal problems. His last album, Let It Bleed, features him on just two tracks (congas on Midnight Rambler and autoharp on You Got the Silver).
  • This happened more and more to Alex Lifeson of Rush as the 80s progressed, his guitars taking a back seat to Geddy Lee's synths. Starting around Roll the Bones, he's come back to the forefront.
  • SKE48:
    • Sato Sumire used to be a solid member of the Undergirls in the elections, but her rank has dropped each year, and now she ranks in Future Girls.
    • Watanabe Miyuki ended up dropping out of the senbatsu in the 2014 elections, ranking in the Under Girls.
  • Kimono My House-era Sparks bassist Martin Gordon was annoyed when he saw the final album pressing, as on the back the planned band photo had been replaced with a large colour photo of the Mael brothers, with him, guitarist Adrian Fisher and drummer Norman "Dinky" Diamond being relegated to smaller, black-and-white portraits.
  • David Palmer, Steely Dan's "original" lead singer (he only sang on three tracks on the first album, as well as in concerts) was bumped down to one of several backing vocalists for Countdown to Ecstasy. No surprise that he's gone by Pretzel Logic, since the band had abandoned touring and particularly because band leader Donald Fagen had grown dissatisfied with the way Palmer sang his songs.
  • St John Passion: Peter is the only one of Jesus' twelve disciples to directly appear, with a soloist singing his words. Judas is mentioned by the Evangelist at the very start, due to his betrayal, but does not directly appear. The other disciples are referred to collectively, but aren't even individually named. This reflects the very specific way the St John Passion is based on John 18-19, as anyone with no dialogue in those chapters is out of focus.
  • Tears for Fears: In the "I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)" music video, Curt Smith only appears thrice for a few seconds; he hits a triangle the first two times, and in the third, he's dressed to the nines in a tuxedo while he taps his champagne glass with a knife. It's an early sign that he's gradually being pushed aside by Roland Orzabal from the band's creative process.
  • In spite of their popularity and influence, Uriah Heep is less well remembered than other early metal groups, though they probably have more recognition in prog rock circles.
  • LE♂N and L♀LA where one of the first ever VOCALOID's, and yet they get the least amount of recognition (and fanart).
  • A factor in guitarist/keyboadist David Gregory's departure from XTC. Andy Partridge bought a synthesizer that allowed him to create string arrangements, something Gregory had done in the past.
  • This happened to Dusty and Frank of ZZ Top on Eliminator: despite them being credited on the album sleeve, Dusty's bass being replaced by keyboardsnote  and Frank by drum machines. For all intents and purposes, Eliminator is a Billy solo album (excepting Dusty's lead vocals on "I Got The Six" and "Bad Girl") with contributions by pre-production engineer Linden Hudson, who contributed drum machine programming and keyboard sequencing, and was alleged to have co-written most of the material, to the point that the band got into a legal conflict that was settled with him being granted the copyright to "Thug". Hudson had also showed Billy some research he'd done previously that most popular rock songs used the tempo of 120 beats per minute, which influenced Billy to write most of the album's songs at that tempo. And when the combination of blues guitar and incongruously synthesised backing tracks sent the album to diamond status, the formula was repeated on Afterburner and Recycler, leading to the infamous rereleases of the band's past albums that replaced Frank's drums with drum machines. While the band continued using electronic loops and synth elements, Dusty's bass and Frank's actual drums returned to prominence starting with Antenna and Rhythmeen.
  • Blues helped to create Rock & Roll and yet never sees much in the way of thanks or tribute from any of the sub-genres that sprouted from its existence. Blues, being characteristically not particularly glory-seeking is probably okay with this. A lot of early Rock & Roll and classic rock hits, especially from the British Invasion, were covers of old Blues songs. The similarities are so close, Sam Phillips famously said "Rock & Roll is just the Blues sped up."
  • Hip-Hop DJs; while still prominent on tours and the mix-tape circuit they have all but disappeared from mainstream media. In fact a cynic could say the same thing about all of the other "pillars of hip-hop".
  • A common occurrence when a music group has a breakout star who leaves the group for a solo career. The other members of the group usually fade into the background, until the star decides to feature them during a special segment on tour, or record a song with them, just to remind the fans of the star's origins. For example: Beyoncé of Destiny's Child fame, sometimes reunites with some of her old group members to do songs while on tour. Michael Jackson was also known for reuniting with his brothers to reform the Jackson 5 at times.

  • Gottlieb's Rocky pinball, based on Rocky III, reduces Clubber Lang to a small figure on the backglass with his face covered.
  • During development of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, pre-release secrecy and fears the pinball could be released before the film resulted in the near-total removal of Robert Patrick and the T-1000 from the playfield or the backglassnote . When the dot-matrix display programming was nearly completed, the "liquid metal" T-1000 was public knowledge, which allowed him to be included in the display animations.

    Puppet Shows 
  • After the untimely deaths of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, most of The Muppets they once played were handed down to new performers, starting with The Muppet Christmas Carol. However, Henson's Rowlf and Dr. Teeth and Hunt's Janice and Scooter, all formerly major characters with sizable roles in previous Muppet productions, would be reduced to non-speaking background appearances or not appear at all. The Muppets (2011) reversed this, as all four characters were as prominent as ever in the various trailers and the film itself. Since the departure of Mupppet performer Steve Whitmire in 2016, Rizzo the Rat has suffered a similar fate to what Henson's and Hunt's character previously went through.
  • The Muppets (2011): Rizzo the Rat and Kermit's nephew Robin only appear in crowd shots. Their reduced roles were acknowledged in Muppets Most Wanted.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Susan (Loretta Long) was part of the series' original human cast and remained a major character for almost 30 years, until around the late 90s when she was gradually phased out. By the 2010s, she only appeared in one episode per season; she made no new appearances in season 43, and in the 44th and 45th seasons she was reduced to just a background extra.
    • Jim Henson and Richard Hunt's deaths also resulted in most of their minor characters being phased out from Sesame Street. In recent years, a handful such as Henson's Guy Smiley have been recast to new performers and make sporadic new appearances.
    • This also often happens to human characters to gradually phase them out of the show so that viewers don't notice their absence too much when the actors eventually leave. Other times characters are demoted because the actors may only be available to film a few episodes in each season.
    • For those of you who haven't noticed, the only puppet characters remaining from as early as the first season are Grover, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Oscar and Kermit. In fact, even Kermit's role has been reduced incredibly compared to the early days, almost to where he doesn't appear much at all. (This is at least partly now because Disney owns the rights to the classic Muppets; they can use old Kermit scenes, but to make new ones, they have to get Disney's permission to use the character first.) Interestingly, back in the second season, there were plans to phase Kermit out, as a commercial character, in favour of Sesame-exclusive characters like Herbert Birdsfoot. (Who? Exactly.)
    • In recent years, a decision to downsize the number of principal characters has led to other Muppets, including Baby Bear, Bert and Ernie, Count von Count, Prairie Dawn, Snuffy, and Telly Monster, taking a noticeable backseat.
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: The Cat in the Hat appeared in each episode as a Framing Device for the Seuss stories in the second season, but other pre-existing Dr. Seuss characters like Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle and the Grinch only appeared in said stories. Sam-I-Am, Mr. Knox and Fox In Socks did appear, but were relegated to the Cat in the Hat's visitors.

  • After taking a new job with TMZ, previous co-host Ben Mankiewicz lost a lot of his old prominence on The Young Turks. He's been relegated to guest host and Power Panel member.

  • Trick: Chutlo. He was originally going to be the hero and would defeat Jackoren, but he was later replaced by Daniel Duck and made a cameo appearance in Act 3. Subverted, though, now that he stars in the sequel.
  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • Atton Rand introduced a number of NPCs during the Adventurers' Island story arc, resulting in his own primary character being taken out of focus in favor of stories focusing on the various medics and Kate's efforts to fit in with the team.
    • While technically they do have a significant part in the story, the four official members of the Dino Attack Team have barely appeared in the RPG.
    • Libo, who once appeared frequently in the Dino Attack RPG, has barely been seen or mentioned, especially following the idealist-realist debate. He was finally revealed to have had a literal bridge dropped on him.
  • Ithilrandir fell prey to this for a while in The Massive Multi-Fandom RPG —only appearing once in a blue moon, apparently eternally lagging kilometers behind the group and only popping up to remind that he exists, then going Out of Focus again (his player was having problems finding time to RP). He since recovered.
  • In The Sky Tides, Kefka, after being dropped, became a mod-controlled NPC due to his importance to the plot. Ocelot, too, near the end. Other dropped characters, like Chrome, have had cameos after leaving, though they are turned into Lawyer Friendly Cameos with their names no longer mentioned in case somebody else wishes to app the character.
  • In Smile For The Camera Monster Mashers, after Frankie was put into the hospital after the Lady War incident, we haven't seen much of him.
  • We Are Our Avatars:
    • Dee. Shortly after 3Dee's introduction, she would usually only say anything whenever Cupid was involved or during introductions and would tend to sleep the rest of the time. And then Rachel Elizabeth Dare appeared, which pushed Dee's speaking appearances back down to almost nothing.
    • Osaka's Other falls into this territory; she was a pretty major character in her first appearance very early on, but lost most of her screentime to Dee and 3Dee in her subsequent appearances, due to her writer's preference for the desdroids.
  • As of early 2013, Catherine made sporadic appearances in We Are Our Adventuring Avatars, since her roleplayer wasn't appearing as often in the game due to her schedule, and she wanted to try someone new.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Whenever Games Workshop, creators of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, stop producing rules, models, armies or settings for one of their games they will often continue to reference them in the background material and other media such as the novels produced by Black Library.
    • Of particular note are the Squats who were once a mildly popular army for the Warhammer 40,000 but are now reduced to being briefly mentioned in the background section of the rulebook.
    • This can even happen to some subfactions depending on the Edition. Up until 6th Edition, for example, the Black Legion were the poster child for the Chaos Space Marines, with the Chaos Space Marine line displaying their paint scheme, but when 6th came around the Black Legion was replaced by the Crimson Slaughter, a renegade warband that was the focus of the 6th Edition starter set. The Crimson Slaughter began receiving all sorts of support, such as a mini-codex with relics and warlord traits and extensive background information that even some Chaos Space Marine legions that had been around since day one didn't even get. 8th Edition turned this around, as the Crimson Slaughter were demoted back to another generic Renegade faction while the Black Legion color scheme was reintroduced for new miniature kits.
  • In Starfinder, many of the Core Races from Pathfinder (and Fantasy RPGs in general) are no longer Core, although they did get into the main rulebook (just pushed to the back). Except for humans.
  • Apocalypse World and most RPGs Powered by the Apocalypse allow for Player Characters to be retired at the end of their story arcs by turning them into Non-Player Characters with the benefit of Plot Armor.
  • Blades in the Dark and most other Forged in the Dark RPGs allow players to retire their characters to NPCs with Plot Armor, as well as forcing them into retirement if they accumulate too much trauma.
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition: Player characters who reach the level cap are encouraged to retire to "semi-NPC" status where they leave active play and devote their time to non-adventuring duties, yet remain present in the game world.

  • In the original film The Little Shop of Horrors, the first customer is a recurring character who appears throughout. In the stage musical Little Shop of Horrors, however, he only appears in two scenes, one of which is a background cameo.
  • The priest who plays a minor part in The Most Happy Fella played a considerably larger role in They Knew What They Wanted. Whereas in The Most Happy Fella he silently approves of Tony's resolution to have "plenty bambini" by his wife-to-be, in They Knew What They Wanted he objects strenuously to Tony taking a non-Catholic wife, in return to which Tony accuses the Church of coveting his inheritance.
  • In The Wiz, an all-African-American musical of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Toto doesn't accompany Dorothy to Oz, instead only appearing during scenes set in Kansas. This was likely due to difficulties with training a dog. This doesn't apply to the 1978 movie loosely adapted from the musical: Dorothy gets whisked to Oz after completing her search for a runaway Toto, resulting in both of them going to the place together.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Belvedere was the only knight to make it to the end with King Arthur and led the witch trial. In Spamalot, he doesn't even get his own recruitment scene, and his iconic helmet is missing until Act II.
  • In Toy Story: The Musical, R.C. Car, who plays an important role even later in the film, only makes an appearance in one scene. Before Woody can use R.C. to push Buzz behind the desk, Buzz notices Woody has R.C.'s remote control, leading to Woody accidentally knocking over the lamp and causing Buzz to fall out the window. After this scene, R.C. is not seen again. There's even a plot change later on that omits R.C.; instead of Woody going back to get R.C. and Woody failing to use the match, but directing the sun's light to the fuse of the rocket that Buzz is attached to, Buzz tells Woody to grab onto him and prepare for liftoff, while one of the mutant toys uses the match to light the fuse, and both Woody and Buzz sing "To infinity and beyond!" and then fly off into the sky.
  • Les Misérables (the book) versus Les Misérables (the show):
    • In the book, Combferre and Courfeyrac are the Enjolras's second and third in command of Les Amis de'l ABC. In the show, they're shunted off to the side in favor of Marius and Grantaire, who receive much more attention.
    • In the book, the Bishop of Digne is given at least a dozen chapters to explain his life in Digne and establish what kind of person he is, and presumably keeps in contact with Valjean, as the latter receives a letter when he dies. In the show, he is introduced in "Prologue/The Bishop", not even given a name beyond "The Bishop", and never seen again. Justified, in that spending that much time on a character whose effect on the work can be summed up in under ten minutes would completely wreck narrative flow (not that that ever stopped Victor Hugo).
  • Westeros: An American Musical: This happens to some of the Wildlings from A Song of Ice and Fire. "Sword in the Darkness" is the only song featuring Wildlings at all, and Mance is the only one named on-stage. However, three of the actors are credited as playing Wun-Wun, Tormund and Val, all three of whom can be picked out among the handful of actors standing in for Mance's army.

    Theme Parks 
  • At the Universal Studios parks:
    • Mary Jane and Aunt May are usually pretty important characters in Spider-Man stories, but their only appearance in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is over a voice mail message that can be heard in Peter's office, which you can only walk through if you're going through the Universal Express queue line.
    • Dr. Nefario, a supporting character in Despicable Me, is limited to just a couple of non-speaking cameos in Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.
    • After the Ghostbusters Spooktacular show closed down, the presence of Ghostbusters in the park was limited to just a simple street show, and nowadays it's merely limited to some third-party merchandise.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Barbossa - the main villain of the first movie and a recurring character through the following four - is given a single appearance, where he leads the Wicked Wench on an attack against Puerto Dorado. Likewise, Davy Jones, villain of the second and third movies, is given a single mist screen that he eventually has to share with Blackbeard, villain of the fourth movie. Somewhat justified in that it's focusing on a new adventure and not one of Jack Sparrow's previous ones.

  • BIONICLE has many examples, even after its Merchandise-Driven nature has faded. Most characters were only relevant when their toys were on shelves.
    • The Turaga: major side characters initially with a great story-importance, then got two full years devoted to their early lives, but from 2006 onwards, they barely appeared in any scenes unless it was absolutely necessary. Outside of the six primary ones, Turaga in general were phased out of the franchise for unclear reasons (perhaps elderly tribe leaders who stayed out of the action were just not a marketable concept to kids), with the last Turaga toy coming out in 2004.
    • Most of the early Matoran completely vanished after the original 2001-03 Mata Nui arc, with the exception of the six who would go on to become the Toa Inika and then Toa Mahri team in 2006-07. Onepu was probably the worst sufferer, because it's pretty clear looking at early intent that he was supposed to be the "main" Onu-Matoran — he shares his Toa's mask, he's one of the original "McToran" (promo toys sold at American McDonalds), and he is the most highly-ranked. Unfortunately for him, Nuparu ended up being the actual Breakout Character of the earth element tribe. There were pragmatic reasons for Onepu's fade into obscurity too. His distinguishing color was purple, a shade that LEGO famously had trouble getting right for years.
    • Kapura likewise, if the scrapped Legend of Mata Nui video game tie-in is anything to go by, which featured him as its "main" recurring Matoran character who showed up in most levels and interacted the most with the player. As this game was not released, Kapura's only shining role was in online content from 2001, after which he barely ever appeared. He got overshadowed by the newly invented Breakout Character Takua, who also inherited Kapura's wandering tendencies and was far more amiable, while Kapura's aloof weirdness only worked in small doses. Another reason for Kapura's diminishment was the writers simply not understanding how his Offscreen Teleportation power worked after his creator Bob Thompson left LEGO. Unlike Takua, Kapura was never released as a toy.
    • Macku, similar to Onepu, was among the franchise's first releases and had important roles in early side-media like a promo comic and online content. After the introduction of her sport teammate Hahli in 2002, Macku got one more chance as a toy and a story side character, then was all but forgotten after 2003, only getting an odd nod here and there. Macku's original player partner Kotu had it worse, as she was seemingly set up to be a potential recurring character and her village's highest-ranking citizen, only for her role to be given to Hahli. In fact, Kotu's first significant appearance was her being told to shut up and let Hahli speak, and it was downhill from there.
    • Ahkmou the traitor and secret insider of the Makuta. Introduced in 2001 as a mysterious secondary villain with a plot to foil, reduced to a seemingly innocuous shopkeeper in 2003, then given a significant side role in a 2004 flashback when he first got a toy. He was set to make a major comeback as a primary villain for the 2008 toy and story line, but plans changed and he went back to being a meaningless side story character.
  • In the Transformers Generations "Combiner Wars" line, Groove, who previously formed one of Defensor's limbs is now an accessory to him as a Legends-class figure. About a year later, Hasbro released a Deluxe Class Groove figure for people who wanted to have their Defensor figure be more G1 accurate.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kano and Minagi in AIR. Everything from merchandise to posters to, well, the backstory of the game makes it clear that this is Misuzu's story. Therefore, their routes are just there so the game can't be accused of having no variety — and when you think about it, if either of them wins, then the incarnations of Kanna will live and die in loneliness and pain for all eternity (especially with Kano's "good" ending). They were completely removed from the movie adaptation, and their arcs were shrunk to three episodes each in the Kyoto Animation version. They do each have one good figure, though. One.
  • From the original CLANNAD After Story, anyone whose last name isn't Okazaki or Furukawa gets shafted in terms of the spotlight halfway.
  • Assassin, Shinji and Zouken in Fate/hollow ataraxia get much smaller roles than they did in Fate/stay night. Well, Assassin had a small role anyway. The latter two probably get smaller roles because the game as a whole is lighter in tone and they were two of the darkest characters.
  • Good luck finding a decent Shiori figure from Kanon. At least Kyoto Animation did her arc justice, and her falling out of the public eye might be because she doesn't have a "seven years ago" connection and is just a normal ill girl. In the 2002 anime, she, Makoto and Mai all fell victim to this, having their arcs squished into one episode each with key portions removed.
  • In To Heart 2 with the exception of Konomi and Tamaki in their special route, the Another Days game sequel swaps the roles of the winnable characters and the supporting cast.
  • While in the first game Reiichi Himuro and Ikkaku Amanohashi were capturable, in Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 3 they're only supporting characters.
  • Satsuki Yumizuka a.k.a. "Sacchin" from Tsukihime. She quickly disappears on each route of the game despite being set up as another possible heroine, and in some branches she is quickly and cruelly dispatched by Shiki Tohno after becoming a vampire and declaring her admiration for him in a truly Tear Jerker moment. The anime lets her survive unvampirized, but other than that it didn't treat her much better; the manga, more of the same.

    In Melty Blood she re-appears, but as an enemy, in her vampire form. She is quite real (and dangerous) in the game, but in its manga adaptation she is the form that Tatari took after discovering Shiki's guilt for having had to kill her, and then he has to dispatch her again.

    She is more famous for how she doesn't appear that much on the other semi-official games, and the unreleased "Satsuki route" (which was supposedly planned and written but cut out, and is allegedly the one where the events of Melty Blood happen) is one of the running jokes of the franchise and the fandom. Within some fandoms (including this very wiki; see Meta below) she became the poster girl of the phenomenon (and former Trope Namer for this very trope) due to a meme based on the phrase "Isn't it sad, Satsuki."
  • The two main heroines of School Days are fairly minor supporting characters in Shiny Days. While Kotonoha remains a fairly important and sympathetic supporting character Sekai's role is both minimized and more villainous in order to give Setsuna more freedom of action.
  • A Little Lily Princess: The Large Family (real last name Carmichael), who are only briefly seen their carriage, when carefully observing their daily life from a distance becomes one of the ways Sara copes with her Riches to Rags in the source material. The only confirmations that it was indeed them are the number of siblings involved and that they are later mentioned getting a letter from their father who is currently in Moscow right when Mr. Carmichael is known to be there.

    Web Animation 
  • In The Ballad of Mike Haggar, Cody and Guy (key players in the actual game, Cody being the one who punches Belger out of the window of his complex in the finale) get a small, demeaning mention toward the tale's end. In this case, not a sour note for this ballad. This IS Haggar's story, after all.
    "This is not the ballad of Guy or Cody, / Saviours weak and frail and bony, / If you'll think back, and not too far, / Recall that I speak of Mike Haggar!"
  • Gaming All-Stars Remastered: The Colossus Monk (Or in this case, the entire race of monks) ends up staying behind rather than tagging along with Tails like he did in The Ultimate Crossover.
  • Thanks to having a large cast, this happens frequently in the Homestar Runner world. Inexplicably, Pom Pom (one of the original main characters) did not appear in the season finale of Strong Bad's game, despite Pom Pom being in every other episode up to that point. In fact, Pom Pom used to be one of the three main characters along with Homestar and Strong Bad, although his appearances in later toons are rare, with the annual Christmas/Halloween cartoons being the only times he's seen consistently. This is evidently a result of his character being The Unintelligible.
    • The Poopsmith barely appears in later cartoons outside of the Halloween specials, likely due to being The Voiceless. Still, he didn't do too bad considering he was an Ascended Extra to begin with.
    • Homsar doesn't appear in the finale for Strong Bad's game—but he started out as an Ascended Extra (from a Strong Bad E-mail, no less!) and even then he was often relegated to clickable Easter Eggs.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School:
    • The Van Buren sisters are put aside for most of the second season to focus on the feud between the cheer squads.
    • Invoked in-universe when Ashley Katchadourian asks to be left out of the current conflict after all she's gone through. However, she has a pretty prominent role in episode 58.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Sister. She brought the ship to Blood Gulch, and her arrival leads to the Reds discovering the underground caves. After that, she gets shuffled around from the Red team to the Blue team and finally to just bumming around with Doc, by which time she's barely seen. She appeared once or twice in season 6 and disappeared until the last two episodes of Season 13, playing a minor role in Seasons 14 and 15 until she joined the main cast again in Season 16.
    • Wyoming also suffered this. In the Blood Gulch episodes, he was one of the primary villains, alongside O'Malley; oftentimes accomplishing his objectives. But despite his role in those episodes, he is rather unimportant in the prequel portions of Seasons 9 and 10. Word of God is that this is due to his goofier personality clashing with the more serious tone the Freelancer bits have.
  • Spill:
    • Carlyle has stopped appearing in reviews, the last one with him being Clash of the Titans, only showing up to do ACOCO until eventually leaving that as well. This is actually because he has two other jobs reviewing movies and was burning out, so it was his own choice.
    • A good chunk of the LEOG went from regulars to Support League status on their own volition.
  • Howard Parks from the first film; in Star Trek Redemption he's seen exactly twice when we're in 2378, and unlike the scenes in Specter isn't present during the briefing scene in the observation lounge.
  • SMG4 has many of them:
    • After the text font changed (starting with "The Warrior and the Hobo"), X started only making a few appearances in later bloopers, with Starman3 taking his original place.
    • Mejiacantillogustavo had a fairly major role early on, but in later episodes he only appears as a background character.
    • In-Universe example: Bowser was demoted to co-villain in "Two Evil Friends" because his evil plans constantly failed, and SMG3 was made the main villain.
    • After Meggy took the spot of the main female character in the main cast, Princess Peach became less and less prominent.
    • Around 2019, Toad become a tertiary character, as he was displaced by later characters who often left him Out of Focus or with little or nothing to do in his appearances.
    • Many classic characters have been phased out as the series went on. Steve and Sonic have been limitated to their occasional Day In The Limelight videos and cameos, the Teletubbies only make brief and infrequent appearances nowadays, but Old Man Hobo, the Toast Fairy and Wizard Rock have it even worse, as they only appear when SMG4 videos make Call-Backs to the classic era.
    • Subverted with SMG3. Around 2017, he seemed to lose relevance in the series as he began to make very infrequent appearances, but then, he came back as the Arc Villain in The YouTube Arc.
  • Due to the large cast of Video Game Championship Wrestling, there are some characters who only show up in Royal Rumbles or Tag Team matches. A good example is Bowser, who went from being the one who finally overthrew Ganondorf's "1000 Years of Darkness" reign as champion to being an afterthought for a while. Other aren't even that lucky and get Put on a Bus.
  • Zap Dramatic:
    • Ted is the main character in the first few episodes. Later, he gradually becomes less important as focus shifts to the mystery of Angie's murder.
    • Jim is a main character in Episode 1, and then all but disappears (save for a few cameos) until Episode 10. Even then, he is still only a supporting character.
    • Frank doesn't really show up much after Episode 6, save for game over scenarios and cameos. Even what dialogue he does get in Episode 8 seems to have all been recycled from Episode 6 to save the bother of bringing back the voice actor.
    • Dave the Brave's a pretty major character in the boy's plot on Monday, but after that he becomes a background character. The one other time he speaks, it's via recycled audio.

    Web Original 
  • Cornox Vullosh from Help Not Wanted: Remixed Phallic Memories in HD was a major character who helped the goblins during their contract and had an arc where he went from being a prejudiced orc to a Noble Bigot. Help Not Wanted 2: Frigid Fornication reduces his screentime to a mere two scenes, neither of which are plot-relevant. It's jusfied though, since the four goblins head out of Glordale to do their contract and Vullosh had to stay behind to look after his shop.
  • Feral in Whateley Universe. Made a few appearances before her author vanished, leaving the Canon Cabal uncertain what to do with her. She has only appeared in one liners since.
  • Grue gradually fades in importance in the later arcs of Worm, and leaves the story entirely by the Cockroaches arc, due to his death in the first battle with Scion.

    Web Videos 
  • Kickassia:
    • LordKat, one of the more well known and prolific contributors to That Guy With the Glasses fell into this in the second anniversary special Kickassia, due to Reality Subtext: he sprained both ankles during filming.
    • Handsome Tom also had this happen to him, relegated mostly to posing as Kickassia's flagpole. This was lampshaded in one of the "making of" videos, where Doug passes out the script and apologizes to Tom for having him be "an object". Tom takes it pretty well, pointing out that objects are useful. The other contributors have also said that Tom's okay being in the background because he doesn't think he's an especially good actor and is there mostly to have fun.
  • To Boldly Flee:
    • Handsome Tom had three lines, one spoken three times, in six episodes. In the commentary, other cast members said he was to have gotten a slightly bigger role, but he begged off, saying "I'm just here to have fun" and doesn't think he's an especially good actor.
    • Benzaie and Suede are also reduced to off-site cameos, probably because they live outside the US and couldn't make the shoot that year.
    • Spoony, compared to his roles in Kickassia and Suburban Knights, had this happen to him, serving a much more passive role as a semi-comatose Distressed Dude instead. Justified in this instance as his actor, Noah Antwiler, put most of his acting chops into The Dragon Terl.
    • Similarly, Linkara is MIA for most of the story, but the actor is prominent as Linkara's villainous robot double.
  • In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Kitty Bennet, who was the fourth Bennet sister, has been adapted into an actual cat named Kitty, while Mary has been turned into a cousin seen mainly in Lydia's spin-off videos (although she has appeared in Lizzie's videos).
  • Noob:
    • Relic Hunter guild is quite essential to the franchise-wide Wham Episode, but their purpose of being the Noob guild's Griefer is the only reason they are ever seen after that.
    • Arthéon gets a gradually diminishing role, first by being kidnapped in Season 2 of the webseries, then due to Real Life Writes the Plot. This has resulted in his character being treated as a secondary role in the upcoming movie material.
  • In-Universe. The Nostalgia Critic complains about Mrs. Brisby getting this treatment in The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, including a caption at the end that asks where is a statue of her.
    Narrator: But Jonathan Brisby's widow and her family stayed behind.
    Critic: Oh, nice. Mrs. Brisby, after all the shit she’s been through, gets the incredible honor of widow credit. Oh, she also did a few other things, but fuck it, they weren't important!
  • Andy had this happen to him in Season 2 of Omega Guardians having gone from a character with a huge role in Season 1's plot to sitting on the sidelines with random appearances here and there.
  • In Spearbreakers, the Spawn were originally intended to be the main threat to the fortress, but were soon superseded by the fort's own hospital and necromancers.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • Tony the Tiger was originally a major character, but his appearances got fewer and fewer as time went on.
    • Princess Peach was Mario's original girlfriend, but broke up with him because she found out he was bald. Things went From Bad to Worse for Mario as time went on, as Peach saw him as an annoying Stalker with a Crush and sent him a five-mile restraining order. Since Mario started dating Princess Rosalina, Peach's appearances became fewer and fewer, one of them being "Mario's Valentine's Day Problem!", wherein Mario has to choose between dating her or Rosalina.
    • Before Brooklyn T. Guy got back from the bus and became a recurring character, Officer Goodman was the guy who would often be seen working different jobs. Since Brooklyn started making more appearances as of "Bowser Junior's Summer School Part 5", Goodman doesn't appear as often nowadays, demoted to only being a news anchor.
    • Shrek and Black Yoshi were also originally main characters, but their appearances became fewer and further between since Jeffy, a handicapped child, was dropped off at Mario's apartment.
    • Even Mario himself isn't immune to being this, as he was originally the main star of the show before Bowser Junior became an Ascended Extra. As of "Mario the Babysitter!", most episodes involving him are about Jeffy.
  • Blast the Hedgehog, who's rarely seen, much less talks, since the 4th episode of Taco-Man The Game Master.
  • Alex has largely stayed off the grid since the breakup of Tipping Forties, only appearing on Ryan's stream once in a while.
  • In Twitch Plays Pokémon Platinum, Togepi, the hatchling given by Cynthia, was sent to the daycare to learn some attacking moves, but she was sent to the PC and forgotten. Subverted due to fan-art portraying this as her life going through school while Napoleon is in his adventure.

    Real Life 
  • Gunpei Yokoi was a major figure in Nintendo's early video game history, designing the Game & Watch series, the cross-shaped Control Pad, and the Game Boy, and having a role in many classic Nintendo series, most notably Metroid and Fire Emblem. He meant for the Virtual Boy to be his swan song for the company, but after it flopped, he started working what amounted to desk jobs with no real power for a couple of months before quitting, to avoid the impression he had been Kicked Upstairs over the device.
  • Pluto used to be included every time the planets of the solar system came up. It got its own spin off, Solar System: The Dwarf Planets Saga. Much earlier, Ceres became the newest member of the Solar System, but, an influx of other similar characters (Pallas, Juno, Vesta) led for them all to be dropped. Ceres, luckily, got a role in the Dwarf Planets Saga alongside Pluto, and holds a special honour of being the only Dwarf Planet in the Solar System that isn't beyond the orbit of Neptune.
  • After a company merger with AOL, Ted Turner was given a figurehead desk job with no real power in the company's decision making.
  • Almost every U.S. president after they leave office. In office, they're the most well known person in America but once their term is up, they sink to the background except for a few public appearances like presidential library dedications and golf tournaments. The biggest exception was William Howard Taft, who after leaving office was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, an extremely powerful position in its own right. Jimmy Carter never had another major government post after leaving office, but he did do a lot of humanitarian work which is often considered to be more important and beneficial for the world than his mediocre presidency; he even won a Nobel Peace Prize for it. Barack Obama also seems to be avoiding this route, as he's active on social media and has started producing various projects for Netflix, including a well-received nature documentary.
    • Bill Clinton is probably the prime example. After leaving office with high ratings and a booming economy, Bill would stay in the spotlight as a humanitarian and kingmaker in the Democratic Party, with standouts including his lauded Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and his acclaimed 50-minute speech at the 2012 DNC that greatly helped Barack Obama get re-elected. However, his credibility as a political operator was damaged after his wife Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election.note  Then the #MeToo movement lead to a resurfacing of his sexual scandals like the Lewinsky affair and his friendship with sex offender and human trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Subsequently, Bill didn't make a single appearance during the 2018 midterm elections, as many Democrats conceded that he's too controversial to be used in public campaigns anymore. By 2020, he was barely featured in that year's election and his diminishment was crystallized by the 2020 DNC where he spoke for only 5 minutes before fading away while other politicians like Obama and Bernie Sanders had the limelight to give longer speeches.
    • The same could be said for any nation's leaders. They're the most important person while they're in power, but then disappear into the background after they lose power. It's pretty rare for a former leader to zig-zag between this and Ascended Extra, though for nations that lack strict term limits the possibility always exists. (Australia is probably one of the few countries where examples of this exist, with three Prime Ministers having done this during their lives in parliament.)
    • Cabinet-level positions occasionally avert this. Usually a party will be in power for a given period, be replaced by their rivals, then come back to power a decade or so later. When that happens, ministers / secretaries who served in government the first time sometimes come back when their party returns to office.
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II was the most important political leader in the Continent between the 1890s to 1918. He loomed large as a villainous figure in World War I propaganda. Then 1917-1918 comes around, Red October unleashes a revolution in Germany, the Kaiser abdicates and almost overnight, the Kaiser goes from center stage to minor footnote, passing the rest of his life in anonymity with hints of his later life known only to specialists interested in tying up loose ends.
  • Happened to dinosaurs: For over 167 million years, they were the dominant animals on land. Now that mammals and humans in particular have taken over, what remains of them? Birds... Although it hasn't been too bad for them since there are about 10,000 bird species compared to only about 4,000 species of mammals.
    • Reptiles, as a whole, exemplify this trope even if they still play a big role in our ecosystem. Long ago, they ruled the Earth for more than 185 million years during the Mesozoic Era (compare the Cenozoic Era, which is barely a third in length) and were very diverse in their respective area. Some scientists believe that if the K-T extinction event never happened, the smaller theropods might have achieved an intelligence similar to humans.
    • The same might be said about synapsids (or "mammal like" reptiles that preceded dinosaurs as dominant terrestrial vertebrates. After Permian-Triassic mass extinctions, the only traces left of their descendants were tiny rat-like creatures that slithered in the shadows, while the ancestral archosaurs (ancestors of dinosaurs, among other things) became dominant.
  • This happens pretty frequently with pro athletes. As a player's skill declines due to age or injuries his playing time will be reduced. This can take on different forms depending on the sport, a baseball player might be moved to designated hitter or used as a substitute, hockey players will get demoted to the third/fourth line or even the dreaded "healthy scratch", basketball players might be moved into a "sixth man" rolenote . The NFL mostly averts this because unlike the other three of the "big 4" sports NFL players don't have guaranteed contracts and can simply be cut if needed.
  • In a manner of speaking, when a company, government entity or school district purchases new vehicles, the new vehicles are the ones used on the primary routes and/or long trips. The older vehicles are demoted to shorter routes, while the oldest vehicles in the fleet are parked in the yard and used as spare vehicles (such as when one of the newer vehicles is unavailable or in the shop for repairs). Eventually, it is the oldest vehicles that are sold off and replaced by the new vehicles, and the cycle continues.
    • An illustration: A school district in a rural school district covering 200 square miles purchases five new buses. The new buses are placed on the high-mileage routes and used for athletic trips. The buses they replace are then put on shorter routes, perhaps in-town. The oldest buses still on regular routes are then parked at the bus garage, used only when one of the newer buses is being repaired or otherwise unavailable. To mean – as a bus gets older, they begin fitting the trope more and more as the newer buses fit the spotlight.
    • The same thing happens on the railways, especially with passenger engines. The railway gets a new passenger engine, the fastest thing on the rails, and it pulls the big expresses for about ten or fifteen years. Then it gets an even newer engine, and the original one gets put on the second-string trains. Finally, after thirty or forty years in service, the former "star" engine is clanking around on branch lines or commuter routes, or being relegated to switching duty in a rail yard before it gets scrapped or donated to a museum. Ditto for airlines.
    • And also for cruise ships — the newest ships get the most prominent (often longer) routes, while the older ones run less popular or shorter routes, and the oldest ships doing 3-day runs to the Bahamasnote  until they are sold off or scrapped.
  • In the West, advances in agriculture that made meat more widely available did this to vegetables. In Western cuisine, meat is considered the "main dish" with vegetables as "sides". Due to the health problems excessive meat consumption can cause, many experts are recommending that meat should be Demoted To Extra.
  • Mergers in general. As the big boys get bigger and bigger, even the moderately-sized regional companies in the same market are either shunted aside or gobbled up by the bigs. Wal-Mart and Target v. K-Mart is a good example.
  • Most of the world's remaining monarchies are now constitutional monarchies within a parliamentary system. In such cases, the real power resides in the Parliament (and in the person of the Prime Minister.) The monarch's position becomes largely ceremonial. Even in cases where the constitutional monarch has considerable residual or theoretical power (e.g., Great Britain), the power is seldom exercised.
  • Speaking of Parliament, the institution itself was originally a threefold system with the 'King-in-Parliament', the House of Lords to represent the aristocracy, and the House of Commons to represent the wealthy middle classes (the idea that poor people might actually have a right to representation didn't have any traction at this point). From the Civil War onwards, the monarch was gradually removed from this arrangement, leaving the Lords as the main centre of power. However, from the early 19th century onwards they too began to lose power, and its aristocratic nature was also reduced. Now the Commons holds supreme power and the House of Lords is just a technocratic advisory body.
  • This even happens to some countries in the course of history.
    • Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, once known as the "Cradle of Civilization" for being home to some of the world's oldest cities. Its early inhabitants were on the cutting edge of technology in their day, being among the first to adopt such significant milestones in human development as irrigation, writing, and mathematics. Even after losing its political preeminence, the region remained a premier center for culture, science, and religion for centuries. The region is now largely divided up among the modern states of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, which in the modern era have been secondary players on the global stage at best and utterly marginal clusterfucks at worst.
    • Italy was a global hegemon back when Rome had an empire. After the end of the Empire, the Peninsula became isolated city states that never had any real political unity until the 19th Century. Local Feuding Families as well as The Pope had major Continental and global influence but the center of power shifted away from Italy, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Post-Empire, it's had a far bigger role in art, philosophy, music, culture, science, cuisine, fashion and business than in military and political affairs, and the notable exceptions of its exterior military and political influence, Mussolini, Fascism and The Mafia, is not something Italians look upon with pride. For this reason, Italy's subtle and overt soft power has it dubbed "the least of the great powers".
    • Iran (known in the West as Persia) was regarded as the first global empire (under the Achaemenid Dynasty), when it conquered most of what was then called the "civilized world". It remained a major power even after the Arab conquest until declining as a regional hegemon in favor of the Ottomans, and a puppet monarch. Today it's a theocratic regime that survives by playing off rival geopolitical enemies to its advantage rather than set any agenda.
    • Greece was the cradle of democracy, science, drama, poetry, philosophy and architecture and under Alexander the Great, it expanded its domain eastward forming one of the greatest empires. Upon Alexander's defeat, it fell to a Succession Crisis that eventually led it to becoming subsumed in The Roman Empire and then as the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire, which was a major player in global politics in the Middle Ages. Then after a few sacks of Constantinople (first by the Crusaders, then by the Turks who kept the city), a bloody war of independence in the 19th Century and hard struggle in the 20th Century against various dictatorships and Those Wacky Nazis, Greece is a small nation with unstable economy and political struggles, bullied by the more powerful European Union. Even Orthodox Christianity which was native to the Byzantine Empire has more practitioners and influence in Russia and other nations than in the land of its origin.
    • On a related note, various city-states which were powerful in Ancient Greece, like Sparta, Corinth and Thebes, are now middle-sized towns, with little to no influence in the country. The only exceptions being Athens, which managed to become capital and the largest city in Greece and Thessaloniki, which is the second largest city and "co-capital".
    • The Age of Discovery and Exploration began in Portugal, and then Spain. The former were the first European powers to participate in the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the latter were the first European colonizers and settlers of the New World and with far greater territorial expansion than the English, French and the Dutch. Their naval prowess were surpassed by the English and the French, Spain went from being the richest and most influential continental monarchy to becoming second fiddle to France, and the late 18th and early 19th Century saw their Empires fade as ex-colonies liberated themselves. Today there are more Spanish and Portuguese speakers outside Spain and Portugal in their former colonies than there are in the metropoles.
    • The Dutch used to be a world power, an early investor in the financial and banking revolutions and the cradle of the European Middle Class and a major player in the Atlantic Slave Trade until surpassed by England. Then a tulip crisis, military setbacks, and the rise of England as a commercial and naval power, as well as the more numerous foreign powers surrounded Holland, led to its power and influence fading in the 18th Century. Even in the arts, Holland was once the center of painting in the Dutch Golden Age, but modern art has seen the center move to France and America. The most famous Dutch painter of modern times is Vincent van Gogh who painted most of his works, and lived most of his life in France.
    • Ottoman Empire; it seized half of the middle east and some eastern European countries but after WWI, Ottoman Empire fell and modern Turkey was born. With Turkey's desperate attempts in becoming an EU member, it's obviously lost its relevancy.
    • Germany and Japan used to be major world military powers in the first half of the 20th century. America used to think that they would conquer the world by buying it. Later they just follow their much more powerful allies. This has also happened to Japan culturally and economically during the "Lost Decade" since its neighbors, China and South Korea, took over in electronics production. K-Pop has also garnered a worldwide following while J-pop languishes, though Anime still has a cult following. On the other hand Germany remains the most powerful economy of Europe, with the biggest population of any Western European nation and these days a model for a liberal constitutional Europe. In general, the division of Germany and new constitution of Japan that denounced militarism after World War II was an attempt by the allies to invoke this trope on purpose as the USSR and USA became the undisputed hegemons. A reunified Germany was met with some resistance from French and British leaders who feared becoming this trope in Europe after decades of trying to overshadow Germany.
    • In the 19th Century, the sun never set on the British Empire. From World War I to World War II, the U.K. lost nearly all of its colonies. It became second fiddle to the United States of America as a naval and economic power (formerly their backyard). Even the English Language is no longer their sole property since some of the best poets, novelists and dramatists of the 20th Century Anglophone were American and Irish (T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Hart Crane, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, G. B. Shaw), and one of England's biggest cultural contributions came from British musicians influenced by American rock and roll. England also became more and more marginal in the Continent and with Brexit, it looks like the U.K. will be demoted even further on the world stage.
    • Next to the British Empire, the largest empire ever was the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan conquered more land than anyone in history. The last of it dissolved in 1687. Nowadays, Mongolia is nowhere near a world power, and in fact has the record for the least densely populated country on Earth.
  • Your colleagues from school/high school/college or university/work/volunteering. While it's likely a few of them will remain lifelong friends, the others will, at best, be reduced to an occasional chat when you meet them by accident on the street. Even with the advent of social networking sites it's unlikely you'll spend any significant amount of time talking to most of them.
    • Your parents. When you're a kid, they are the most important people in your life. However, as you get older and have a spouse, children, friends, co-workers, employers, and the like, your parents eventually become secondary or even tertiary people in your life. This varies by culture; there are some where even after the child grows up and gets married, his or her parents remain very much a big part of their lives (and are culturally expected to remain so), especially when they live close by.
    • Also your ex-girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands/wives/friends. Even if you remain on friendly terms, chances are you won't see them nearly as often after the break-up. There are a few cases where former lovers become best friends, but they are rare.
    • With the advent of Social Media, unfriending, unfollowing and, the biggest demotion, blocking. Definitely counts as a "demotion".
      • You also "grow out of" forums/other social media services and go from spending an entire weekend on somewhere to forgetting it exists, or simply only posting rarely... both going from extreme frequency to infrequent or nothing.
      • Back in the days when MySpace was the dominant social media site, the choices for your Top 8 Friends (prior to the expansion into however many you wished to list) showed just who had been demoted (in their own minds, at least).
    • This happens when you have a fight/falling out with a friend, they move away, or you just stop getting messages/calls from them.
  • Many works that either discuss or depict The Vietnam War largely ignore the South Vietnamese forces commonly referred to as the ARVN in favor of the American and Australian historical accounts of the war. The ARVN are considered to be the war's forgotten army. The films The Green Berets and Heaven & Earth are the two exceptions.
  • The (re)introduction of television after World War II largely did this to radio in the developed world, where it had been the biggest entertainment medium, as scripted programming moved from radio to TV. Radio remains as a background medium in cars and while people are working as audio demands less attention than TV, leaving people free to concentrate on other tasks.
  • Mining companies do this once they purchase a new piece of equipment, they put the old one into a graveyard or boneyard to use for parts or a spare machine if business is extremely busy or a machine is down for repairs, or leave it set somewhere to be forgotten about as mother nature reclaims it.
  • Trucking companies do this as well with their old tractors and old trailers. When the company purchases new equipment or acquires equipment from an auction or merger, the old equipment will either be demoted to spotting duty at a terminal, become a tractor used in the city, used for parts in other tractors, or sold/scrapped. Trailers will be either used in the city, scrapped, sold, used for storage, or in some weird cases, turned into extra space for a loading dock.

  • TV Tropes started out as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan forum. The show still gets significant attention, but has become far from the focus of the site.
  • Satsuki from Tsukihime is the center of the meme "Isn't it Sad, Sacchin". What makes Satsuki's lucklessness worth a section here, is that it even extends here, on TV Tropes. This trope was originally named "Isn't It Sad", after the meme in question. With the wiki's shift to less esoteric titles, Sacchin was—you guessed it—demoted in importance once again. She has since been demoted again; for a while, she was still the page's image, but she's since been replaced. Really, the only reason this page isn't a Self-Demonstrating Article is because putting it on the appropriate index would be a Promotion FROM Extra.
  • When a character-named trope has its name changed here on This Very Wiki, it can end up demoting that character from star to being just another example. For instance, Spike is now just one more instance of Badass Decay instead of being the defining instance of "Spikeification". Also Wesley Crusher, former Trope Namer for Creator's Pet.