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"(Then you should know) Jason's mother, Mrs. Voorhees, was the original killer! Jason didn't show up until the sequel!"
Ghostface, Scream (1996), lampshading this trope in regards to the Friday the 13th films

A Breakout Character is the most popular or well known part of their franchise. However, what most don't realize is that this character did not appear until an installment or two in, having been completely absent at the franchise's beginning. Yet the character has become so iconic the lack of their presence feels like Early-Installment Weirdness.

Possible causes of this include adaptations frequently condensing the original story and including characters earlier on than the original (especially when the original undergoes Adaptation Displacement) or the franchise not Growing the Beard and gaining a larger audience until after the Iconic Sequel Character makes their debut, or the first installment isn't that well known.

Compare Second Episode Introduction, which is this on a much smaller scale, and Ascended Extra, for when the character is there the whole time, just in a greatly reduced role.

Contrast Demoted to Extra for when a character has importance in the beginning of a work, but their role decreases as the work goes on. Subtrope of Newer Than They Think.

Related to Iconic Sequel Song, when a piece of music, rather than a character, rises to become iconic despite originating in a later work.

Note: in order for a character in a serialized series to count, they must have appeared no earlier than the second season. Characters who appeared late in the first season go under Breakout Character.

Also note: not every significant character who debuted after a franchise's first installment is this trope. Try to keep the "Iconic" part in mind when considering adding an example.

Also see Sequel Adaptation Iconic Villain.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Satoshi from Bokura no Hentai isn't introduced until the second volume. He's one of the most important characters in the manga and is implied to be Marika's love interest.
  • Ai Haibara in Case Closed. She's one of the most prominent characters in the manga and anime and extremely relevant to the plot, but takes several chapters/episodes to appear. In the manga she's absent until the 18th volume, while in the anime she doesn't appear until the 129th episode, late into the fifth season.
  • Renamon is possibly the most well-known Digimon after the Agumon line, but she didn't make her debut until the third anime series, Digimon Tamers.
  • Dragon Ball: Krillin wasn't introduced until the first Tournament Arc (the second story arc), Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu weren't introduced until the second tournament arc (the fifth story arc), and Piccolo wasn't introduced until a story arc later. Gohan and Vegeta weren't introduced until the Saiyan saga (which is where the anime changes its name to Dragon Ball Z), and Trunks wasn't brought in until the end of the Freeza saga and beginning of the Android/Cell saga. And obviously, none of the franchise's iconic villains were introduced until their own arcs.
  • Fist of the North Star: While Raoh may have been Kenshiro's most iconic rival, he wasn't introduced in the manga until the end of the Cassandra arc in Chapter 61, although the character's existence was alluded much earlier during the Jagi arc (in which the existence of Kenshiro's brothers-in-training was revealed, with Raoh appearing as a faceless silhouette in a flashback) and the Amiba arc (in which the titular Arc Villain screams his title, Ken-Oh, as he falls to his death).
  • Hajime no Ippo: Ryo Mashiba, his sister Kumi, and Takeshi Sendo are not introduced until the second Story Arc. Alexander Vorg Zangief and Eiji Date are not introduced until the third.
  • Jewelpet:
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Thanks to Sequel Displacement and difficulty releasing the series outside of Japan, prior to 2012, most casual anime fans would point towards Jotaro Kujo as the protagonist of the series. In reality, Jotaro first appears as the main protagonist of the third story arc, which also serves as the Franchise Codifier. While the anime adaptation has gone a long way to introducing new fans to past and future JoJos, Jotaro still tends to get the lion's share of merchandise based around him. He's also one of only two JoJos to return as a supporting character for later JoJosnote  (in the fourth and sixth story arcs, with a minor appearance in the fifth).
  • In the original K-On! manga, Azusa Nakano didn't show up until the beginning of the core four's sophomore year. This still happens in the anime as it adapted the first two years, though it still means she's absent in the first half of the story.
  • Little Witch Academia: Amanda, Constanze, and Jasminka, considered part of the main cast, were not present in the first film, nor Teri Terio's manga adaptation. They wouldn't make their debut til the second film, Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • Naruto:
    • The remaining members of the Konoha 12 outside of Team 7, including Breakout Characters Hinata Hyuga,note  Shikamaru Nara, and Rock Lee (the latter of whom got a spin-off), didn't join the cast until the second story arc, the Chunin Exam. However, they were given Early Bird Cameos (save for Team Guy) in the first and third episodes of the anime.
    • The Legendary Sannin likewise only start to appear after the Land of Waves mission: Orochimaru in the second arc, Jiraiya in the third, and Tsunade in the fourth.
    • The Akatsuki, the main villains of the series, only start to pop up from the fourth arc, and only Itachi Uchiha, Kisame Hoshigaki, and Zetsu appear in Part I. The rest don't get to appear until Part II (AKA the sixth arc onward).
  • One Piece:
    • This applies to all of the Straw Hat crew outside the core five who are introduced one arc after the other. Robin doesn't appear until the Whiskey Peak arc (season two of the anime) and doesn't even join the crew until much later, Chopper doesn't appear until a few stories later in the Drum Island arc (also season two), Franky doesn't show up until several stories later in the Water 7 arc (season four), Brook doesn't show up until nearly a full decade later in the Thriller Bark arc (season six), and Jimbei isn't introduced until the Impel Down arc (season 13), and doesn't join the crew until the Whole Cake Island arc (season 19).
    • Outside the Straw Hat crew themselves, many iconic allies like Trafalgar Law and Luffy and Ace's other brother Sabo and villains like Big Mom and Kaido don't get introduced until well well into the story, with Law first appearing shortly before the Time Skip (meant at the time to be the rough halfway point of the story, though it seems to be running even longer than Oda originally planned) and the other three all showing up after the Time Skip.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • While it's difficult to associate this trope with Pokémon due to the tendency to switch most of the cast every region aside from Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket, this can definitely be said of Team Rocket's Wobbuffet, which has been part of the show for over half of its length and is still present today (and the team's only mainstay 'Mon besides Meowth). It didn't get introduced until the third season.
    • For in-region examples, Barry doesn't appear for the first time until late in Sinnoh's second year. Sawyer's first appearance is halfway through the second year of Kalos, and Professor Burnet debuts at the start of Alola's second year.
    • Within the context of the wider show, many of the most memorable characters only show up in later seasons, several hundreds of episodes into the anime. For instance; Paul is considered by many to be Ash's most well-written rival but doesn't show up until the 486th episode of the anime at large, and Serena is a shoehorn for being Ash's most prominent love interest (in large part because she actually has a canonical crush on Ash) but doesn't show up until the 800th episode. As mentioned above, neither is an example in the context of their respective era, showing up in the second and first episode respectively, but they both still make returning appearances in Journeys owing to their popularity.
  • In Ranma ˝, whilst the cast of characters is iconic, their arrival in Nerima is actually staggered out quite a lot. The most relevant examples of this trope are Ranma's would-be love interest Ukyo Kuonji and rival Mousse, who don't appear (or permanently join the crew, in the latter's case) until the ninth manga volume (which translates as the third anime season). Amongst the antagonists, Trickster Mentor Cologne and Dirty Old Man Happosai don't appear until the fifth and seventh volume respectively (season 2 of the anime), but that pales in comparison to the mad Principal Kuno (manga volume 10, anime season 4) and ki-vampire personality-switching homeroom teacher Hinako Ninomiya (manga volume 23, OAV).
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Despite being one of Kenshin's key rivals and allies, Saito Hajime does not show up until the second story arc/anime season.
  • Cinnamoroll is one of the most popular Sanrio characters, topping popularity polls year after year, but he didn't debut until 2001, nearly thirty years after the company first started creating mascot characters.
  • Slam Dunk: Ryota Miyagi and Hisashi Mitsui, Shohoku basketball team's game-changing guards, are not introduced until the second story arc.
  • Slayers has Xellos, who doesn't appear until later on in the series; in the anime not personally showing up until the NEXT season.
  • Urusei Yatsura has Ryuunosuke Fujinami. She's introduced in chapter 147 of the manga, and episode 63 of the original 1981 anime, but became practically a fifth main character, alongside Ataru, Lum, Shinobu and Mendo. She has multiple stories revolving around her, several of them multi-chapter arcs, and plays a significant role in many other stories. She is widely accepted as having inspired Rumiko Takahashi to create her next series, Ranma ˝. Such is her popularity that the 2022 anime adaptation brings her in as early as episode 16, drastically sooner than she appeared in the previous anime!
  • Yatterman
    • The Dorombo Gang, the very first Expy of the Time Skeletons from Time Bokan. While the heroes Gan and Ai are very well known, the Dorombo are the Terrible Trio in Japan, having multiple Expies across not only the rest of the Time Bokan franchise, but across most Japanese media as well. It goes so deep that even the milestone celebration of Time Bokan in 2015 was made about their descendants in the far future.
    • Odate Buta, the pig that climbs a palm tree that sometimes pops out from the Dorombo gang's mechas starting from episode 60. In little to no time it became the mascot of the Time Bokan franchise as a whole.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The 3 Egyptian God Cards in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! don't appear until the second season, but they're still some of the most iconic cards in the entire franchise, on par with the likes of Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Dark Magician. Even people who have never watched or played Yu-Gi-Oh likely know what they are.
    • Unlike most protagonists’ ace monsters, Elemental HERO Neos doesn’t appear until the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
    • The Big Bad of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Zarc, who didn't appear or even be mentioned by name until the final 30 episodes. A somewhat bizarre example as he wasn't a particularly well-written antagonist, something even fans of the show will happily admit. Yet half a decade after the show's conclusion it's still not uncommon to see people with Zarc profile pictures on social media.

    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears: Tiki and Babu are advertised to be major supporting characters alongside the woodland animals, so it can be weird watching the first season and realizing they're not there. They debuted in the second season, Boonie Bears or Bust.
  • Happy Heroes: Just barely averted. Careful S. is a main character right from his debut and is perhaps even more beloved than Supermen leader Happy S., but he doesn't make his first official appearance in the series until the finale of Season 1, Early Bird Cameos in the Season 1 intro and posters aside.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Many characters iconic to the Spider-Man franchise don't actually appear until much later in the comic's run than one might think, even if they were mentioned early.
    • Mary Jane Watson didn't have her first full appearance until Issue #42, four years into the book's run, and almost half a year after the departure of Steve Ditko: she was established as The Ghost and The Faceless as early as Issue #15, appearing with her face obscured in Issue #25, with another appearance in the Annual, and was built up as a character that Aunt May wanted to set Peter up on a date with, which Peter kept trying to dodge (because he's Peter).
    • The Green Goblin, Spider-Man's Arch-Enemy appeared in Issue #13 after the likes of Vulture, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, and the rest. The Kingpin comes more than 50 issues later, Black Cat appears after more than 190 issues in 1979, and Venom didn't make his first real appearance until issue #299 in 1988, over 25 years of publication later.
    • Special mention goes to Gwen Stacy. Due to being referenced often in flashbacks and Adaptation Displacement, it may come as a shock to some fans to find out that she was Spidey's third love interest (behind Liz Allan and Betty Brant). Likewise, Peter's best friend and eventual enemy Harry Osborn made his debut in the same issue Gwen did, The Amazing Spider-Man #31.
    • Miles Morales, Peter's successor in many continuities, didn't show up until 2011—a whopping 49 years after the first issue. Even within his original series - Ultimate Spider-Man - Miles doesn't show up for 11 years, debuting at the beginning of the 3rd series, 160 issues in.
  • Runaways: Victor Mancha became an important part of the team's plot, has significant links to the greater Marvel Universe, and has become just as well-known as the originals. He doesn't make his first appearance until Runaways' second volume. Likewise, Xavin, a character that gained the series some minor attention for being gender fluid, doesn't appear until a few issues after Victor's first appearance, and doesn't join the team or really have much effect on the plot, aside from having a character Put on a Bus for an arc, until Volume 3.
  • Batman:
    • Robin doesn't make his first appearance until Detective Comics #38, 11 issues and a year of publication after Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27.
    • Of Batman's Rogues Gallery, many of his iconic villains such as The Joker, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, The Penguin, and Catwoman appeared only 2-3 years after his first appearance. On the other hand, The Riddler didn't appear until 1948, nearly a decade later, Mr. Freeze didn't appear until two decades later in 1959 (and even then, he went under the name Mr. Zero and didn't adopt his more iconic name until nearly a decade after that!), Poison Ivy showed up in 1966, Ra's Al-Ghul in 1971, Bane and Harley Quinn in 1992-93, Hush in 2003, Professor Pyg a full 70 years later in 2009, and the Court of Owls in 2011.
    • Alfred wasn't introduced until Batman #16, a full four years after the Dark Knight's debut.
    • Damian Wayne, the fourth Robin and Batman's son, debuted as an infant almost fifty years after the first Batman story, and took nearly twenty years after that to become a regular character. However, he quickly became a Breakout Character and made it into several adaptations.
  • X-Men: Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus are some of the most famous members of the team, yet they didn't join until the series relaunch 12 years after the first issue. Other iconic X-Men like Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee, Emma Frost, Gambit and Bishop joined even later. Iconic villains Apocalypse and Mister Sinister did not appear until the mid-1980s, over two decades after the X-Men made their debut. Heck, Apocalypse was introduced in the spin-off title X-Factor and didn't appear in the main book until 1992.
  • Many fans who read the old Marvel G.I. Joe comic will be surprised that Duke, usually the team leader or otherwise central character in most other media, doesn't show up until #23, nearly two years after the comic started. The reason for this is he wasn't introduced into the toyline until a year after its debut, making it fall under same trope.
  • 100 Bullets: Five of the seven Atlantic City Minutemen (Milo Garrett, Wylie Times, Jack Daw, Victor Ray, and Remi Rome) take over twenty issues to appear.
  • The Avengers:
    • Few fans realize that Captain America was not a founding member of The Avengers. He was found frozen in the Arctic and revived four issues after the comic had started. He's considered an honorary founder because he was found so soon after the team formed, and to fill the void the Incredible Hulk left.
    • Hawkeye, another mainstay of the team, didn't join until the first change in the lineup nearly two years after the title started. Prior to that he'd only made a few appearances as a villain in Iron Man's stories.
    • Black Widow is one of the most well known Avengers as well, but like Hawkeye, she was originally an Iron Man villain. Unlike Hawkeye, she didn't become an official Avenger until issue #111.
  • Superman: Of his supporting cast, only Lois Lane has been around since day one. Perry White and Jimmy Olsen were created for the radio series before making the shift to the comic in 1940 and 1941 respectively. Clark Kent's other iconic love interest, Lana Lang, was created in 1950. Supergirl was created in 1959. His iconic Rogues Gallery also developed slowly with only Lex Luthor, the Prankster, Toyman and Mr. Mxyzptlk appearing in the early 1940s and then a long gap until the arrival of Bizarro and Brainiac in 1958. Superman did have recurring supervillain foes in his early days, but they have either had a Rogues' Gallery Transplant like the Ultra-Humanite (who became a JSA foe), or have fallen into complete obscurity like J. Wilbur Wolfingham (who was a big deal in the Golden Age but whose appearances since can be counted on one hand.)
  • Captain Haddock is one of the most iconic characters in Tintin but he doesn't appear until the ninth book. Professor Calculus doesn't appear until three books after that. Thomson and Thompson are introduced in the fourth book barring a retroactive cameo in the colour version of Tintin in the Congo.
  • Michonne is one of the longest lasting survivors in The Walking Dead, but is absent for the first few arcs, not appearing until #19 (Book 4 in the trades).
  • Archie Comics:
    • Reggie Mantle is usually considered the fifth major character; however, he didn't formally appear until one year after the series began.
    • Kevin Keller wasn't introduced until 2010 but has since become a major part of the franchise. He gets more screentime than even Reggie.
    • Archie's Third-Option Love Interest Cheryl Blossom debuted in 1982, 40 years after the franchise launched.
    • Veronica didn't appear until a few issues into the comic.
  • Ask an Iron Man fan who Tony Stark's best friend is, and chances are they'll say James "Rhodey" Rhodes, aka fellow armored hero War Machine. Ask them when he first showed up, and they may be surprised to learn he wasn't introduced until 1979 - over 15 years after Iron Man's debut. And it still took another 12 years after that before Rhodey officially donned the War Machine armor in 1992! He had previously worn the Iron Man armour in 1983.
  • Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy are some of the most iconic members of the Teen Titans, but didn't join until its third incarnation in 1980, nor were they, with the sole exception of Beast Boy, even introduced until the 80s series began.
  • Cyborg has this happen to him again regarding his role on the Justice League of America. Despite being one of its most prominent members, he didn't join until the late 2000s, becoming a founding member a few years later during the company's New 52 reboot.
  • The only members of Captain America's supporting cast to be there from the very beginning were Bucky and the Red Skull. Peggy Carter is a fixture of Cap's WWII adventures, but didn't appear until 25 years later in 1966 after his debut in 1941 when she was retroactively added into that era; her niece and Cap's present day love interest Sharon Carter first appeared the same year. Cap's other field partner, the Falcon, didn't debut until 1969. Crossbones, one of his most common recurring enemies, didn't appear until 1989, nearly 50 years since Cap's first appearance. And in Bucky's case, while he was in the comics from the very beginning, his more familiar identity as the Winter Soldier didn't appear until 2005 - 64 years after the character made his debut!
  • Daredevil:
    • The Kingpin zigzags this: while he had been appearing in Spider-Man's title since the mid-60s, he didn't appear as Daredevil's arch-enemy until 1981, well over 15 years since the comic had been in publication.
    • Daredevil's other greatest enemy, Bullseye, plays this far straighter, not appearing at all until the mid-70s in Daredevil #131, well over a decade since Daredevil's debut. Likewise, Matt's ex-girlfriend-turned-assassin Elektra was absent until 1981.
    • Even though Foggy Nelson was there from Day One, the modern take on his and Matt's relationship didn't develop until volume 2, which began running in 1998. Foggy didn't even learn that Matt was Daredevil until 1995 — and even then, it was still almost another year before the two discussed it and Foggy learned anything about Matt's history or powers. (Yes, that's right, he spent almost a year publication time thinking that Matt had just been lying about being blind this whole time.)
  • Johan and Peewit: the second character is introduced in the third book. Of course, for the first two books, the series was initially titled simply Johan.
  • Almost every major character from the third incarnation of Suicide Squad, such as Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and the Bronze Tiger, as well as the team's boss Amanda Waller, did not appear in the lineup until its Retool in 1987, over two and half decades since the team first appeared in 1959. Harley Quinn didn't join until the 2011 New 52 series (and thanks to the film is now the group's best-known character). Colonel Rick Flag, Jr. was the only major character involved from the very beginning.
  • Originally, Birds of Prey was only a Brains and Brawn duo of Oracle and Black Canary. It wasn't until Gail Simone took over as the series writer that the Huntress was added to make it into the Power Trio it is known as to this day.
  • The Disney Ducks Comic Universe had been running for at least 10 years since 1937 before Uncle Scrooge McDuck made his first appearance.
  • Green Lantern:
    • Several major lanterns to work with Hal didn't appear until far later in the book's run. Guy Gardner first premiered in 1968, John Stewart in 1971, Kilowog in 1986, Kyle Rayner in 1994, and Jessica Cruz in 2014. Ganthet, often the Only Sane Man of the Guardians of the Universe and the series' Big Good, didn't show up until 1992.
    • These days it's well known that Green Lanterns are but one of several Corps across the range of the emotional spectrum. However the first of these, the yellow Sinestro Corps, didn't actually debut until 2006. Sinestro himself has been around since 1961 and his yellow ring was introduced later the same year, but it wasn't until the Sinestro Corps the "emotional spectrum" concept was introduced and become so central to the Green Lantern mythos.
    • The multiple Corps. There's the Red Lanterns and their leater, Atrocitus. Despite being the most iconic villain after Sinestro, Atrocitus wasn't introduced until 2007.
  • Several iconic characters from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye don't appear until the second "season", such as Nautica, Velocity, and post-Heel–Face Turn Megatron. Getaway does appear in season 1, but only briefly.
  • Wonder Woman:
  • PS238: Tyler is only introduced in issue #3, but has since become the de facto protagonist. Julie appears even later, in issue #19, but quickly became the next most likely character to get her own arcs.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dennis The Menace did not appear until almost 13 years into the run of The Beano, and Gnasher didn't appear until 17 years after that. Other mainstream strips such as Minnie The Minx and The Bash Street Kids appeared even later.
  • Thimble Theater ran for ten years before Popeye made his debut, but he was so popular he eventually completely eclipsed the rest of the cast (the only major Popeye character who appeared in Thimble Theater before he did is Olive Oyl, and even most of the minor characters came afterward; Olive's brother Castor was the early breakout character for the strip, but he, her parents Cole and Nana, and her original boyfriend Ham Gravy are now all but forgotten).
  • In Peanuts (which began in 1950), Charlie Brown is the only mainstay to have appeared in the very first strip:
    • His dog Snoopy would debut merely two days after the start of the strip.
    • Shroeder first appeared in 1951. Additionally, he would not become the Beethoven fanboy we know him as until a little later.
    • Charlie Brown's best friend Linus van Pelt would not be seen until 1952. Meanwhile, Linus' sister, Lucy debuted earlier in the same year.
    • Peppermint Patty and her friend Marcie weren't introduced until 1966 and 1971 respectively, but soon became part of the main cast.
  • Dick Tracy debuted in 1931, but many of his most popular characters didn't debut until The '40s, an entire decade's worth of Iconic Sequel Characters. Nearly all of Tracy's most famous villains debuted then, including the three most publicized and frequently seen and referred to throughout the decades: Pruneface (1942), Flattop (1943), and Mumbles (1947). The Forties also marked the debut of some of the strip's best known supporting characters: Vitamin Flintheart (1944), Diet Smith (1945), and the Plenty family of hillbillies, B. O. Plenty (1945), his wife Gravel Gertie (1944) and their daughter Sparkle (born 1947). In terms of the regular cast of characters, Sam Catchem (1948) and Lizz (1955) have become so ubiquitous that anyone who began reading the strip from the late Fifties to the present might not even realize that they're later additions.
    • For characters that have become prominent under the current creative team of Mike Curtis and Joe Staton, there's the now reformed villain the Mole (1941) and frequent enemy B-B Eyes (1942), as well as Moon Maid (1963) and Honeymoon (born 1965).
  • Uncle Ruckus is one of the most well-known and memorable characters from The Boondocks, so it can be quite surprising to realise that he didn't show up in the original comic the show was based on until it had been running for over 5 years (only a year or two before its original run ended).
  • The Punisher MAX: General Zakharov and Barracuda, two of the most infamous Punisher foes in recent memory, debut in the third and fifth arcs.

    Fan Works 
  • The Victors Project is technically both a prequel and sequel to the earlier written The Lumberjack and the Tree-Elf, and several particularly notable OC Victors from TVP (such as Abram, Orchus, Granyte, Cotton, Gates, Luxe, Luster, Honorious, Justus, Bovina, and Boudicca) are never even mentioned in The Lumberjack and the Tree-Elf.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Gangreen, the main villain of the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! series, is introduced in the second film, Return of the Killer Tomatoes.
  • Austin Powers:
    • Even if it's impossible to imagine Dr. Evil without Mini-me nowadays, he wasn't introduced until The Spy Who Shagged Me, the second movie.
    • Fat Bastard wasn't introduced until that movie either.
  • The Monster's Bride only appears for a few minutes at the end of Bride of Frankenstein, the second Frankenstein film by Universal, and she was a one-off character without more appearances, but she became one of the most recognizable characters from horror cinema of the era and one of the official mascot characters under the "Universal Monsters" label, becoming about as famous and visually iconic as her mate. note 
  • Tiffany Valentine in the Child's Play series isn't introduced until the fourth movie, but is the third-most important character in the series, after Andy Barclay and Chucky himself.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy waits until the second movie to introduce the Joker (whose actor won an Oscar for the role) and Harvey Dent.
  • The DC Extended Universe has quite a few examples, but the most prominent examples would have to be Justice League mainstays Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, who weren't properly introduced until the second film in the DCEU. Harley Quinn made her debut shortly afterwards. Shazam didn't show up until the seventh film, while Peacemaker was introduced in the tenth film.
  • Many regular characters in The Fast and the Furious films aren't introduced until after the original installment. Roman Pierce and Tej Parker are introduced in 2 Fast 2 Furious and don't reappear until Fast Five. Han Lue doesn't show up until The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Gisele Yashar makes her debut in Fast & Furious, Luke Hobbs is absent until Fast Five, and Ramsey first shows up in Furious 7.
  • Final Destination: Wendy Christiansen is almost certainly the most beloved and recognizable protagonist in the series despite not appearing until the third movie. Several of her fellow survivors from that film (Kevin, Ian, Erin, Ashley, and Ashlynn) also manage to reach an iconic level when many previous film characters don't.
  • In Friday the 13th, the iconic and most recurring villain of the series and subject of the page quote Jason Voorhees is a unique example in that he is technically introduced in the first movie, but doesn't become the main antagonist until the second onwards, and even then his defining traits take several movies to firmly establish. In the first film, the killer is Pamela Voorhees. Jason doesn't appear until the next film,note  and he doesn't gain his iconic hockey mask until the film after that. To top it all off, he's also famous for being an undead supernatural killer but he doesn't even become this until Part VI! Furthermore, Jason's best known portrayer (and the only actor to portray him more than once), Kane Hodder, doesn't start portraying him until Part VII.
    • Tommy Jarvis, the most recurring character after Jason himself, first appears in the fourth film, The Final Chapter. Tommy was not only responsible for Jason's first death, but he was also inadvertently responsible for bringing him back and turning him into a revenant, making him even harder to kill than he already was.
  • Halloween: Jamie Lloyd, Rachel Carruthers, and Sheriff Meeker, three of the most frequently lauded characters from the series, don't appear until Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.
  • The James Bond film series character "Q" was referred to as "Major Boothroyd" in the first film, and was not played by the instantly recognizable Desmond Llewellyn until the second film, From Russia with Love. Definitely in the books, where this character does not come up until the sixth book. This also applies to Ben Wishaw's Q from the Continuity Reboot, who doesn't appear until Skyfall (the third film), as well as Dr. Madeleine Swann, who doesn't appear until Spectre (the fourth and second to last) but becomes Bond's Second Love and the mother of his child.
  • In Jeepers Creepers 2, Jack Taggart Sr. is the most impressive foe the Creeper has faced across the series to date.
  • John Wick: The Bowery King and Cassian don't appear until the first sequel, while Sofia shows up in the third film, and Caine and Mr. Nobody debut in the fourth movie.
  • The Karate Kid:
    • The Karate Kid Part II introduces Kumiko and Chozen Toguchi. Kumiko served as The Hero's Love Interest for the film, but proves to be a hit with fans that her popularity is enough to rival original female lead Ali Mills and even Daniel's eventual wife Amanda LaRusso. Chozen is likewise fondly remembered and is next only to the iconic Johnny Lawrence as Daniel's most remembered rivals.
    • The Karate Kid Part III introduces its Big Bad Terry Silver, whose crazy and manipulative antics became so enamoured with the fans that he was constantly cited as the bright spot of the otherwise divisive film. He's so popular that he's brought back in the Sequel Series Cobra Kai in which he continues his crazy and manipulative ways.
  • Lake Placid: Reformed Criminal Reba first appears in the third film, but is one of the most recognizable human characters in the franchise.
  • In the Lethal Weapon series, Joe Pesci's Leo Getz character first appears as a federal witness in the second film, and manages to show up in the rest of the series' films.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is only briefly and partially visible in the first film. (The Hobbit inverts this instead, with Gollum only appearing in the first movie of the trilogy).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The franchise is eventually loaded with popular characters, but the prominent characters introduced in the very first film are Tony Stark (naturally), Nick Fury, Pepper Potts, Phil Coulson, and James Rhodes (who was played by a different actor originally).
    • If one considers the entire Phase 1 as a single "season" in television terms, then Hulk, Steve Rogers, Peggy Carter, Bucky Barnes, Thor, Loki, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, and Thanos were the only recurring characters introduced from the "starting arc", with Thanos only appearing in a Post-Credits Scene cameo.
    • Later Captain America movies introduced Sam Wilson, Helmut Zemo, Peter Parker, and T'Challa. The latter two got their own sub-series. Sam Wilson became one of Steve's biggest allies and eventually took up the shield, even receiving A Day in the Limelight with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and will reprise his role in Captain America 4. Helmut Zemo also returned in that series and is due to appear in Thunderbolts.
    • Thor: Ragnarok, the third Thor film, introduced Korg and Valkryie, both of whom received larger roles in Love and Thunder.
    • Many iconic sub-franchises came about in later phases, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Black Panther. Each of them have their own ensemble including characters who appeared in later installments
    • Wanda Maximoff, Scott Lang, Hank Pym, Hope van Dyne, Vision, Nebula, and the entire original Guardians of the Galaxy were introduced in Phase 2.
    • Stephen Strange, Mantis, Wong, Shuri, and Janet van Dyne were introduced in Phase 3, with Mantis only debuting in the second Guardians movie and Janet appearing in the Ant Man sequel (and treated as a Posthumous Character in the first).
    • Yelena Belova, Kamala Khan, and Cosmo were introduced in Phase 4. Yelena returned in Hawkeye and will re-appear in Thunderbolts. Kamala Khan will be the Deuteragonist in The Marvels, sequel to Captain Marvel. Cosmo debuted in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special - where she was already a member of the Guardians - and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 showed that she was there to stay.
  • Niobe first appears in The Matrix Reloaded after being absent from the first film.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Simon Pegg's character Benji. He doesn't appear until the third film and then becomes a central part of the movies that follow, making more appearances in the franchise than any actor aside from Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames.
    • Ilsa Faust isn't introduced until the fifth film, but has since gone on to be one of the mainstays of the films.
  • Sister Gloria from Night of the Demons 2 is probably more recognizable to fans than the protagonists from the first movie.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Kristen and Alice debut in the third and fourth films but are nearly as well known as the original Final Girl, Nancy. Taryn and Kincaid (two of Kristen's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits allies in the third movie) and Tomboy with a Girly Streak Debbie from the fourth film aren't far behind Alice and Kristen in renown with the fanbase.
  • Olsen-banden has a bit of a tricky one with the character of Dynamite-Harry, introduced in the second movie. In the original Danish series, he isn't really this (he only re-appears in one of the other films). However, in the Norwegian Olsenbanden version (which otherwise tended to fairly closely stick to the Danish original) he became a considerably more prominent figure, re-appearing in several movies and taking over roles filled by other characters in the Danish series, and he most definitely was this in the Swedish Jönssonligan version (which was more divergent, though it still remade the first three movies closely enough that Dynamite-Harry was introduced in the second movie), where he even took over as the third member of the eponymous trio from the third film on.
  • Cato and Dreyfus from The Pink Panther movies didn't appear until the second film.
  • In the Police Academy films, Bobcat Goldthwait's "Zed" character shows up in the second film as the main villain (sort of), ends up joining the Academy in the next one, and making his final appearance in the fourth.
  • Despite being seen as The Hero and face of The Purge film franchise, Leo Barnes only debuted in the second film installment.
  • Scream:
    • Jennifer Jolie only appears in Scream 3 but is frequently rated almost as highly as the main Power Trio by people discussing great characters in the series.
    • The killer from Scream 4 made enough of an impact to eventually get a character page all to herself on this website.
    • The Carpenter and Meeks siblings don't appear until Scream (2022), but quickly became some of the most praised slasher Spin-Offspring characters in a long time.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Dr. Curt Connors, Mr. Ditkovich and the latter's daughter Ursula are all notable supporting cast members of the trilogy, but all three only showed up in the second film.
    • Doc Ock and Sandman are iconic villains of the film series, but respectively debuted in the second and third films.
  • Several Star Wars characters, though a few were ret-conned into earlier movies when rereleased as special editions:
    • Yoda first appears in The Empire Strikes Back. For those who watch the series in order of events (i.e., prequels first), Yoda would seem to mysteriously drop out for the fourth installment!
    • Big Bad Palpatine also doesn't appear in the first movie (although he is mentioned) and only briefly appears in Empire; his first full appearance (and Ian McDiarmid's first appearance) is in Return of the Jedi, and his name isn't mentioned until the prequel trilogy.
    • In the original cuts of the movies, Jabba the Hutt was never seen until Return of the Jedi, though he was mentioned in the original. A scene with him was filmed for A New Hope, but never made it to the post-production phase until the Special Edition in 1997, which included a finished version of the scene with a CGI Jabbanote .
    • Boba Fett first shows up in Empirenote , though some fans consider him an Advertised Extra anyway. He was edited into the aforementioned Jabba scene, even giving the audience a direct Aside Glance.
    • Admiral Piett was introduced in Empire and proved to be quite popular with fans, leading to Lucas including him in Return of the Jedi.
    • Lando Calrissian didn't appear until The Empire Strikes Back.
    • From the Prequel trilogy, Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, the Clones and Jango Fett debuted in Attack of the Clones and General Grievous debuted in Revenge of the Sith.
  • Step Up: Andie and Moose, who are often described as the two best-known and best-liked characters in the franchise, both debut in the second movie.
  • John Connor, the closest thing that the Terminator series has to a protagonist and its most important and popular human character, is only mentioned in the first film, and does not appear until the sequel.
  • Zombieland: Double Tap, which is set and made ten years after the first film, introduces the hilarious Madison.

    Literature 
  • Artemis Fowl: Opal Koboi premieres in the second book, and even there she's somewhere between a co-villain and a Doctor Girlfriend for Briar Cudgeon. She would go on to be the antagonist of half of the books, while other bad guys were all one-shots. It's notable that the movie, while mostly a (bad) adaptation of the first book, opted to give her an Adaptational Early Appearance while also downgrading Cudgeon to her platonic lackey.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: High Priest Ferdinand, Myne's mentor from her time in the temple onwards, doesn't appear until late in first major arc, which concludes with Myne being formally accepted as a temple apprentice. Ferdinand is such an important character that the anime adaptation added a Framing Device that gave him an Adaptational Early Appearance, while his proper debut was twelve episodes into a fourteen-episode Season.
  • In The Borrowers, Spiller doesn't appear until the second book. He's one of the most popular and beloved characters of the series, and the adaptations of the series always seem to fit him in — even the Studio Ghibli movie, which was based exclusively on the first book, still featured Spiller in a fairly major role.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • Thalia Grace does not appear until the very end of The Sea of Monsters and doesn't do anything until The Titan's Curse, but became extremely popular with the fanbase. The first book does give her an Early-Bird Cameo in a dream, though, aside from her role in other characters' backstory.
    • Similarly, Nico di Angelo wasn't introduced until The Titan's Curse, where from then on he became a prominent supporting character and popular with the fans. He serves as a narrator in The Blood of Olympus purely due to fan demand.
    • Most of the Seven, the main protagonists of The Heroes of Olympus, are introduced in that series. While some are hit-and-miss (Jason Grace), others (Hazel Levesque) are very popular with fans for their engaging backstory.
    • The entire Roman side of the demigods, including the above mentioned Hazel. Except for Jason, they only began to appear in The Son of Neptune. Reyna Ramírez-Arellano, in particular, goes from being a minor supporting character to a narrator with her own story arc within the span of three books.
  • Philosophical and hilariously quirky exo-warrior Skink doesn't appear until Double Whammy, the second book of the Carl Hiaasen Shared Universe, but appears in almost every following book, has his own Wikipedia page, and even gets a passing mention in a Jimmy Buffett song. Surprisingly nuanced Giant Mook Chemo (who debuts a book after Skink in Skin Tight and returns in Star Island, the twelfth book) and Lovable Rogue hired mob kidnapper Merry Mansfield (the eponymous character in Razor Girl, the fifteenth book), also enjoy impressive amounts of popularity.
  • The Caster Chronicles: John Breed debuts in book 2 and is just as recognizable as the main characters from the first book.
  • Children of the Red King: Dagbert Endless, the most dangerous and complex of the younger antagonists in the series, takes six books to debut.
  • Played with in The Chronicles of Narnia: the Pevensie siblings are the most famous protagonists in the series, and five of the seven books feature them to some degree. They're introduced in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is the first published book, but nowadays the series is usually marketed with the Prequel, The Magician's Nephew, as book #1, retroactively turning them into this trope.
  • For the Discworld series:
    • Though it's certainly justified by the eventual end of the Klingon Promotion present in early books, it wasn't until Moving Pictures that Unseen University actually had any of its more iconic wizards, including Archchancellor Ridcully, the Dean, the Bursar, Ponder Stibbons... In short, the only faculty who were present from the beginning were the Librarian and technically Rincewind. And the Librarian, on that note, only became an ourangutang at the start of the second book
    • The first City Watch book, Guards! Guards!, had only four characters in the Watchnote . Many iconic members such as Angua, Detritus and Cheery weren't introduced until later installments.note 
    • It's "only right" for witches to form covens of at least three ("the maiden, the mother and the...other one"). Despite this, only Granny Weatherwax shows up in the first witch-centric book, Equal Rites, with Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick premiering in Wyrd Sisters. Magrat's replacement in the trio, Agnes Nitt, wouldn't show up until Lords and Ladies.
    • Death was around since the beginning of the series, as were several members of his supporting cast, but the Death of Rats wasn't introduced until the second Death-centric book, Reaper Man. And his deuteragonist granddaughter Susan Sto Helit didn't appear until Soul Music, the third one.
    • Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler didn't make his debut until Guards! Guards!, though later books would establish that he's been an Ankh-Morpork fixture for decadesInteresting Times shows that Rincewind is well acquainted with him and that Twoflower met him at some point during The Colour of Magic, and his first chronological appearance is in Night Watch, over a decade before the series began.
  • Dortmunder: Tiny Bulcher doesn't work with the Caper Crew until Nobody's Perfect (book 4) and is more of a part-time member for his first few appearances, but he eventually ends up as a full-time crew member and one of the author's most memorable and quotable characters.
  • The Dresden Files: Of the multitudes of Harry's recurring allies, barely any appear to begin with. Only Murphy, Bob, Susan, Marcone, Toot, and Morgan appear in the first book; his werewolf buddies the Alphas appear in the second, Lea and the Carpenter family in the third (with Molly only becoming a mainstay in the eighth), and the Fae courts and White Council appearing in the fourth, and so on. And then try putting together a list of where the iconic villains debut...
  • Earth's Children: Jondalar first appears in the second installment, The Valley of Horses, and besides Ayla herself, he's probably the most important and well-known character.
  • Ex-Heroes: Captain Freedom, the Driver, Corpse Girl (in a Chekhov's Gunman role that takes until Ex-Communication to pay off), and Agent Smith all debut in book 2, Ex-Patriots, but quickly fill in important, seemingly permanent roles in the series.
  • Slappy is Goosebumps' Breakout Villain, but he actually wasn't the Big Bad of the first Living Dummy book. That story centered around two sisters who each had a ventriloquist dummy—Slappy was one, while the other, Mr. Wood, comes to life and terrorizes them; only after Mr. Wood is defeated does the Twist Ending reveal Slappy to be alive, too. He went on to appear in many other books, though, while Mr. Wood only merited a Continuity Nod when Slappy's origin was revealed.
  • Several popular characters in the Harry Potter series did not show up until well after the first novel. Some include:
    • Book 3: Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, both of whom would go on to be very popular and important figures in Harry's life.
    • Book 4: Bellatrix Lestrange, one of Voldemort's Co-Dragons, though it was mostly an Early-Bird Cameo before the next book.
    • Book 5: Luna Lovegood would end up being one of the few characters able to comfort Harry when his closest friends could not, and was one of the most active fighters in Dumbledore's Army.
  • The Honorverse is prone to this, given how long it's been running. Some of its most iconic and beloved characters don't appear until much later than an incoming fan might expect.note 
    • Michelle Henke, Honor Harrington's best friend, isn't introduced until The Short Victorious War, which is book three — yes, two whole books go by in which Honor's best friend isn't even mentioned.
    • Everyone's favourite Havenite tac-witch, Shannon Foraker, isn't introduced until Flag in Exile, which is book five.
    • Eloise Pritchart, series anchor and beloved Havenite heroine, doesn't debut until book six, Honor Among Enemies, and doesn't become a major player until Echoes of Honor, which is book eight.
    • Lester Tourville, Havenite admiral who is capable of beating the title character herself in head-to-head combat, isn't introduced until In Enemy Hands, which is book seven.
    • Victor Cachat, superspy extraordinaire, isn't introduced until the third short-story anthology, Changer of Worlds (published between Ashes of Victory and War of Honor, books nine and ten).
  • Finnick Odair is one of the most popular characters from The Hunger Games. He doesn't show up until Catching Fire, the second book.
  • Joe Pickett: Deuteragonist Nate Romanowski debuts in Winterkill (book 3), and Governor Rulon, the Big Good of much of the series, only shows up four books later in Free Fire. Both appear in season 1 of the television adaptation.
  • Princess Ozma didn't appear until the second Land of Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz and isn't revealed as Ozma until the very end. Despite this, she is one of the most iconic Oz characters amongst those who remember anything besides the MGM adaptation of the first book.
  • The Lost Fleet
    • Captain Badaya and Jane Geary both end up being among the most prominent captains in the fleet, and both get more Character Development than some of the other major characters, but they take until books three and five to debut.
    • Gwen Iceni first appears late in book six before becoming one of the main characters of The Lost Stars.
  • Macdonald Hall: Sidney and Wilbur don't appear until book 2 (Go Jump in a Pool), but are among the first characters many fans think of decades after the final book.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl sidekick duo Bess and George first debut in the fifth Nancy Drew book and love interest Ned shows up in the seventh, but all three remain franchise mainstays over ninety years later.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain:
  • Thomas the Tank Engine didn't appear until the second book of The Railway Series. James, Percy and Toby also appeared in later books.
  • Tell Sackett is one of the most famous and frequently used characters in the Louis LA Mour shared universe, but doesn't appear until the second Sackett novel (although his brothers mention him in the preceding book). Tell's distant cousin Lando and family friend The Tinkerer only debut in the book after that, and Sackett ancestor Jubal (who rivals Tell in iconic status despite having far fewer appearances) had to wait another twelve years for his literary debut.
  • The Scholomance: Despite her recognizability, Liesel is never even mentioned before the second book.
  • Clarice Starling first appeared in The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris's second book featuring Hannibal Lecter.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a huge cast and many Hero of Another Story.
    • Book 2: A Clash of Kings introduces Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Asha Greyjoy, Jaqen H'ghar, Brienne of Tarth, Ygritte, Margaery Tyrell, Qyburn and Ramsay Snow. It also has the first appearance of Wyman Manderly who would become a major fan favorite in A Dance with Dragons, as well as Aeron and Victarion Greyjoy who become POV characters in A Feast for Crows.
    • Book 3: A Storm of Swords has Lord Beric, Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners (who had small roles in the first book), Prince Oberyn Martell, Coldhands, Mance Rayder, Tormund Giantsbane, Val the Wildling Princess, Olenna Redwyne.
    • Book 4: A Feast for Crows has Euron Greyjoy, Arianne Martell, Doran Martell, Septon Meribald, the Elder Brother, Marwyn the Mage, Alleras and the High Sparrow.
    • Book 5: A Dance with Dragons has Barbrey Dustin, Jon Connington, the Golden Company, Quentyn Martell, Alys Karstark.
  • Survivor Dogs:
    • Despite being one of the most important characters in the series and having his own novella, the wolf-dog Alpha didn't appear until the second book. The first book focuses on the earthquake and the dogs learning to live after the disaster.
    • Storm is one of the most popular characters, and most important characters, in the series (as well as the lead of the second arc), but she isn't introduced until the third book. In it, Lucky and Mickey come across three orphaned puppies whose mother was seemingly murdered.
  • The Twilight Saga: Aro, Marcus, and Caius, the three leaders of vampire society (although a picture of them is shown in the first book), and werewolf girl Leah Clearwater (although she doesn't appear transformed until the third book) all debut in the second novel.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Firestar's evil half-brother Scourge is a Breakout Villain but didn't appear until the last book of the first arc.
    • Many important characters like Squirrelflight and Leafpool aren't introduced until the second, Spin-Offspring, arc.
  • Tigger wasn't introduced until the second Winnie the Pooh book and is now one of the most popular and recognizable characters from the franchise.

    Music 
  • Hatsune Miku is the most popular Vocaloid character by far, but she's the third voicebank released by Crypton Future Media and debuted in the second version of the Vocaloid software.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 would be unthinkable today without Warmaster Horus, the Primarchs, the Horus Heresy and the Chaos Marine legions fighting their Long War against the Imperium of Man. Yet these characters, this event, and the forces of Chaos in general, were nowhere in evidence in the original 1986 Rogue Trader book - being introduced a couple of years after its release in the Realm of Chaos supplements (1988 and 1990). Also, of all the iconic special characters that are synonymous with 40k today - Marneus Calgar, Abaddon, Kharn the Betrayer, Ahriman, Eldrad Ulthran, Mephiston and dozens more. - the only three that pre-date the 1993 2nd edition of the game are Commissar Yarrick and Ghazghkull Thraka (who were introduced very late in 1st edition, setting the stage for the explosion of characters in 2nd edition), and Pedro Kantor of the Crimson Fists - the only character from the original Rogue Trader book still in the game today (and who was named Pedro Cantor at the time, after a playtester of the book, Pete Cantor).
  • The original Warhammer, like its spin-off 40k, acquired most of its iconic characters in the mid 90s (during its 4th and 5th editions between 1992 and 2000, the game having first arrived in 1983). Starting with Tyrion and Teclis for the High Elves every army in the game acquired its defining heroes during this period, including Malekith the Witch King, Nagash, Tomb King Settra, Archaon, Thorgrim Grudgebearer, Orion and Ariel and the rest. Only a small handful of the characters who existed between 1983 and 1992 are still prominent in the game, pretty much just Josef Bugman, Grom the Paunch, Golgfag Maneater, Emperor Karl Franz and Lord Mazdamundi.
  • In BattleTech, the enormously popular Clan Humongous Mechas - most notably the Chicken Walker "Timber Wolf / Mad Cat" - were nowhere to be seen in the original publications. The Clans didn't exist until 1990's Technical Readout 3050, published six years after the very first sourcebook. The "Mad Cat" eclipsed the earlier Series Mascots like the "Atlas", "Marauder", and "Battlemaster" to become the face of the franchise. The Mad Cat's rise to prominence became something of an Enforced Trope as a number of fan favorites like the "Marauder" and "Warhammer" suddenly became off limits in artwork due to a messy intellectual property lawsuit.

    Toys 
  • G.I. Joe: Duke is usually considered the face of the team, being one of the leaders and the main character of most media adaptations. He was absent from the first year of the toyline and didn't appear until the second.
  • Teresa Rivera is regarded as the best friend of Barbie, but she didn't make her first appearance until 1988, 29 years after Barbie's debut.

    Visual Novels 
  • Neither Pearl Fey nor Franziska von Karma appear in the Ace Attorney series until the second game, Justice for All. Apollo Justice and Trucy Wright make their debut in the fourth game. Athena Cykes first appeared in Dual Destinies, the fifth game.
    • This can also extend to the cases within the first game. The only characters we see in the first case of the game are Phoenix, Mia, Larry, Payne, Sahwit, and the Judge. We're not introduced to Maya, Gumshoe, and Edgeworth until the second case or Manfred von Karma until the fourth. Ema Skye is an interesting case: she went on to become a major recurring character, but she wasn't originally in the first game at all. She was introduced in a "bonus case" created for the first game's Video Game Remake.
  • Danganronpa: The most marketed character is Nagito Komaeda, The Rival for the second game. No mention of him is made during the entirety of the first game, but Nagito would go on to appear in installments that even Makoto, the Hope's Peak Saga main character, wouldn't and even gain his own OVA.
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry: Mion's twin sister Shion wasn't introduce until the second arc, Watanagashi-Hen. And Hanyuu aka the real Oyashiro wasn't introduced until Minagoroshi-Hen, the second last of the core arcs.
    • Umineko: When They Cry: Lambdadelta; the Witch Of Certainty makes her debut in the Turn Of The Golden Witch Tea party, Ange makes her debut at the end of Banquet, Erika Furudo who's the best example of this in Umineko appeared first in End alongside Dlanor, Featherine; the Witch Of Theater-Going in Dawn, and Will Wright in Requiem.

    Webcomics 
  • In Darths & Droids, Corey doesn't join the group until the comic begins adapting A New Hope, over five years into the series' run. He's been a permanent fixture since.
  • In Girl Genius, Tarvek doesn't turn up until Volume 5 - three years into the comic's run. Airman Higgs, another Breakout Character, doesn't appear until Volume 7, two years later.
  • In Homestuck, the trolls don't show up at all until act 3, and most of them aren't seen on screen until act 5 act 1. Even among them, Vriska stands out. She was the ninth troll to make an appearance in a pesterlog and the eighth to receive a proper introduction, but became possibly the most iconic of them all, rivaled only by Karkat (who was first in both aspects).
  • Wilde Life's Deuteragonist and possibly most popular character, Clifford, doesn't show up until chapter two (aside from a background appearance). Meanwhile, Eliza doesn't show up until chapter four.

    Web Original 
  • Epic Rap Battles of History:
    • Donald Trump, the most recurring rapper since Darth Vader and Adolf Hitler, made his first appearance in Season 3.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, who was the face of the series before even appearing in a battle due to his frequent use in update videos. In terms of main series videos, he didn't appear until the second last battle of season 5.
  • While the Game Grumps network doesn't divide their work into seasons, just about every member of the main cast not named Jon or Arin is one of these, as the network was just Jon and Arin doing Game Grumps for a year. Danny and Ross were the first of these, as Danny took over for Jon on Game Grumps while doing Steam Train with Ross, with (in order) Barry, Suzy, Kevin and Brian eventually joining in as well.
  • Marble Kingdoms: Agobard the Knight, one of the most notable named marbles in the series to the extent of becoming a Memetic Badass amongst its small fanbase, debuted in Marble Kingdoms 10.
  • React has had several reactors through the years, so any prominent reactor introduced starting its second season counts.note  The only prominent reactors who have been with the show during the first season are/were Lia, Dylan, Morgan, Elle, the twins Megan and Shannon, Emma, Athena, Jake, William, and Sammie. And of the eleven, only Lia, Dylan, Morgan, Jake, Emma, and Samme were in the pilot. note  Further, the original cast of Teens (minus those who graduated from Kids, obviously) weren't introduced until the launching of the show near the end of the second season. The original cast of both Elders and YouTubers (minus eventually Lianote ) weren't introduced until the shows were launched during the third season. And the original cast of Adults (minus those who graduated from Teens) weren't introduced until the show's launching during the sixth season.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Lich King is the closest thing the show has to a proper Big Bad, and a creepy Knight of Cerebus, but he doesn't make a major appearance until the end of the second season. He did make an Early-Bird Cameo in the first season, however.
    • Flame Princess, a major character who also acted as Finn's girlfriend for two seasons, didn't appear until season three.
  • Amphibia:
    • Despite being one of the most prominent characters outside of Anne and the Plantars and playing a key role in kicking off the show's events, Marcy doesn't appear until season 2 aside from a brief cameo in "Best Fronds".
    • Andrias is the show's Big Bad, but doesn't appear until season 2.
  • Archer introduced Katya Kazanova in Season 2 as a possible love interest, before the writers decided to invest in Archer and Lana's relationship, at which point Katya was phased out.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph Bei Fong is as much of a member of the core cast as Aang, Sokka, and Katara, but she doesn't appear until the second season.
    • Princess Azula is an Early-Bird Cameo in Book 1, but doesn't say or do anything until Book 2 where she proceeds to become Team Avatar's most memorable and consistently dangerous threat. This also applies to her two competent henchwomen, Mai and Ty Lee.
  • Much of Bob's Burgers' recurring cast debuted after the first season, such as:
    • Season 2: Jimmy Jr.'s best friend Zeke, Affably Evil bank robber Mickey, incompetent police sergeant Bosco, gaming nerd Darryl, Casanova Wannabe Dr. Yap, and Alpha Bitch Tammy Larsen.
    • Season 3: The obnoxious Logan and Cynthia Bush, Gene's rival/love interest Courtney Wheeler, Boy Band Boyz 4 Now, and Louise's partner-in-crime/Only Friend Regular-Sized Rudy.
    • Season 4: Calvin Fischoeder's younger brother Felix and Louise's Stalker Without A Crush Millie Frock.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Varrick became a wildly popular character who was integral to the plot of the final season, but didn't debut until Book Two.
    • On a much grander scale, Avatar Wan, Raava, and Vaatu are all the key players of the origins of the entire franchise, but don't appear until the middle of Book Two (though the origin story was originally meant to be told in Book Two of Avatar).
  • Silverbolt doesn't join the Maximals in Beast Wars until early on in the second season.
  • The second season of Big Mouth introduced their first real antagonist the Shame Wizard, as well as Nick's love interest Gina as well as his temporary hormone monster Tyler. Season 3 introduced Missy's hormone monstress Mona and new girl Ali.
  • With the exceptions of Minnie Mouse and Pete, Mickey Mouse's supporting cast was much different in the early days of the Classic Disney Shorts. Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck would all debut much later.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has three major characters that didn't appear until season 2.
    • Both Numbuh 86 and Numbuh 362 are some of the most important and recurring non-Sector V members of the Kids Next Door (with the latter even serving as the Big Good for most the show), yet don't appear until midway through the second season.
    • Numbuh 5's older sister, Cree Lincoln, serves as her Arch-Enemy and is one of the most formidable foes that the team has to face. However, she doesn't debut until near the beginning of the second season and most of her backstory with Numbuh 5 isn't revealed until near the end of the season.
  • Fenton Crackshell, alias the armored superhero Gizmo-Duck, is absent until the second season of DuckTales (1987), nearly two thirds into the show's run. Despite that, he's one of the most recognizable characters from the series and has appeared prominently in other works related to it, even making an Adaptational Early Appearance in the franchise's 2017 reboot.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: While most of the main characters were around since the Oh Yeah! Cartoons days, Mr. Crocker was not introduced until after the show was launched as an independent series.
  • Felix the Cat's Magic Bag of Tricks (which is strongly implied in some episodes to be sentient due to its loyalty to Felix) is one of the most well known aspects of Felix the Cat—but it didn't appear in the franchise until the late 1950s made-for-TV cartoons, 40 years after Felix made his debut in Feline Follies.
  • In Final Space, Fox and Ash only debut in Season 2, but they play a significant role in the events of Season 3 - Fox's death strains the relationship between Gary and Ash, with the next episode being a Funeral Episode for him. Invictus' manipulations convincing Ash to to turn against the team squad, revealing that Avocato murdered Little Cato's parents, and using Mooncake's power to free Invictus from his chains
  • Pebbles and Bam-Bam are mainstays on The Flintstones and its various spin-offs, but the former wasn't born until Season 3 of the original series and the latter didn't show up until Season 4.
  • Gravity Falls:
  • Two of the most well-known characters from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Dracula and Fred Fredburger, didn't appear until the fifth and sixth (and penultimate) seasons respectively. Especially notable with the latter case, who appeared so much on Cartoon Network's promos and marketing at the time that he gained a reputation for being a Creator's Pet Spotlight-Stealing Squad - despite the fact that the amount of appearances he has on the show itself can be counted on one hand, and only has two episodes where he's a major focus.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • Lila Sawyer is one of the show's most recognizable characters, but she didn't debut until season 2 and didn't become a regular character until mid-season 3.
    • Ditto for Mr. Simmons, the fourth grade teacher. Arnold and his classmates were taught by the elderly Miss Slovak in the first season, but she retired to become a pro golfer. However, due to Nickelodeon airing episodes Out of Order, Miss Slovak made a few appearances after Simmons' introduction in Season 2.
  • Jem:
    • The beginning of season 2 introduced three new characters: Stormer's brother Craig, a new Misfit named Jetta, and and a new Hologram named Raya. While Raya gets ignored by fans, Craig and especially Jetta are staples. The 2015 IDW reboot comic even introduced Jetta as a founding member and has Craig appear in the first arc.
    • The Stingers appear in the final season (season 3), which also had the fewest episodes, yet are popular. They didn't even get toys. Riot is known for being very attractive, being the only male singer, and being Jem's second love interest.
  • The first season of Johnny Bravo had middling ratings, resulting in a retooled second season. This retool introduced the mainstays Carl and Pops.
  • Green Arrow doesn't join the Justice League until the Season 3 premiere.
  • The Lilo & Stitch franchise:
    • Stitch's Love Interest Angel (Experiment 624) is the most famous of Stitch's experiment predecessors, but it took a long while for her to achieve this status. She didn't appear at all in the 2002 original film, was only hinted at through a DVD bonus feature and a mini-poster included with 2003's Stitch! The Movie, officially debuted in the thirtieth aired episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series in January 2004, did not make her only other major appearance in the show until the penultimate aired episode in June 2006, finally became a recurring regular in the Stitch! anime that debuted in 2008 (whose English dub first aired in 2009), and eventually gained a steady stream of merchandise sold worldwide (including the United States, where the anime that she appears most frequently in was rejected) during The New '10s.
    • Primary franchise villain Dr. Jacques von Hämsterviel only made a silhouetted cameo briefly in the original film, but he would not be formally introduced until Stitch! The Movie.
    • Same goes for Stitch's snarky, sandwich-loving immediate predecessor "cousin" Reuben (Experiment 625), who also debuted in that film.note  Additionally, he was only known by his experiment number until Lilo finally named him in The Series Grand Finale film Leroy & Stitch, which released on June 23, 2006 (four years and two days after Lilo & Stitch).
  • Looney Tunes as a whole started off with a completely different cast that was gradually faded out in favor of the one we know today. For example, the first character recognizable to a modern viewer to appear was Porky Pig in 1935, five years after Looney Tunes made its debut.
    • In fact, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck didn't appear until almost a decade into the Looney Tunes series run. Several other main stars were also Breakout Characters from later shorts.
    • Tweety Bird made his first appearance in 1942. Even then, Tweety wouldn't become the Tweety we know him as today until 1947, when he started being paired with Sylvester, who himself was introduced in 1945.
    • Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner would not debut until 1949, 19 years after the start of the series.
    • The Tasmanian Devil does not show up until 1954. Not counting anthology shows, he was the first Looney Tunes character to get his own show.
    • Foghorn Leghorn is first seen in Henery Hawk's second cartoon, "Walky Talky Hawky" introduced as a foil (whereas Henery was a tiny chickenhawk, Foghorn was a large rooster). By their third cartoon together, (which is the aptly titled "The Foghorn Leghorn") the series would morph into the Foghorn Leghorn series. Because of this and his loud mouthed nature, Foghorn is a more memorable character today than Henery.
    • Lola Bunny was only introduced in 1996, for Space Jam. Despite being a controversial character at first, she continued to appear as a major character (usually Bugs' love interest) in future Looney Tunes productions.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Discord, one of the most iconic characters in the G4 series for his stint as both a villain and as a Token Evil Teammate, didn't appear until the start of Season 2. This season also saw the debut of Cadance and Shining Armor, who would become some of the most prominent characters in the series.
    • Reformed villain Starlight Glimmer didn't appear until the fifth season of the series, and didn't become part of the regular cast until the season after. Starlight would go on to befriend Trixie, who despite being one of the earliest appearing characters in the show, didn't become a proper mainstay until that season as well.
  • The Owl House:
    • Aside from an Early-Bird Cameo in the last two episodes of the first season, The Golden Guard/Hunter isn't properly introduced as a recurring character who eventually joins Luz and her friends until the second season.
    • Raine, the head of the Bard Coven who is also rebelling against the Emperor and Eda's love interest only appeared briefly in a photo (with their face obscured) in the first season before their proper introduction in the second season.
    • The Coven Heads in general don't get introduced as a concept in the show (aside from the Emperor's Coven) until the second season. Out of those, the aforementioned Raine, Darius, Eberwolf, Terra, and Adrian get the most focus, but only Darius had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the first seasonnote .
    • The Collector, who has been working with Belos and whose species are responsible for trapping the Owl Beast in the scroll that Eda was cursed with, isn't introduced until about halfway through the second season aside from a brief cameo implied to actually be from another member of their species a few episodes prior where their importance to the plot wasn't made obvious.
  • Everest from PAW Patrol first appears in Season 2 Episode 6.
  • The second season of Puppy Dog Pals introduced Keia, Lollie, and Ana.
  • The Raccoons:
    • The Pigs were introduced in the third special, "The Raccoons and the Lost Star", as generals to Cyril Sneer and became his bumbling henchmen when the specials were adapted into a series.
    • Bentley Raccoon was introduced in an episode in Season 2 and proved to be popular enough to be in episodes in later seasons.
    • His big sister Lisa Raccoon was introduced in an episode in Season 4 and became one of the main characters when their family moved to the Evergreen Forest in Season 5.
  • In ReBoot AndrAIa, one of the main characters and Enzo's eventual love interest, makes her first appearance the middle of the second season.
  • Rugrats:
    • Susie Carmichael, a Sixth Ranger to the babies who acted as a foil to Angelica, and Charlotte Pickles, Angelica's workaholic mother, were both introduced in the show's second season.
    • Tommy's younger brother Dil Pickles, was born in The Rugrats Movie.
    • Kira and Kimi Watanabe-Finster were introduced in Rugrats in Paris.
  • The Simpsons:
    • While many characters debuted in the first season, other fan favorites like Duffman (season 9), Groundskeeper Willie (season 2), Fat Tony (season 3), Cletus (season 5), Comic Book Guy (season 2), Dr. Hibbert (season 2), Superintendent Chalmers (season 4), Gil Gunderson (season 9), and Disco Stu (season 7), as well as many others didn't appear until the second season on.
    • Most of the series' iconic recurring cast weren't present in The Tracey Ullman Show shorts and only debuted once The Simpsons became its own separate series. To keep things brief, the only characters to be in both the original shorts and the full show are the Simpson family themselves, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and Itchy and Scratchy.
  • South Park:
    • While the series introduced most of its supporting cast in the first season, a large number of them were just voiceless extras until Season 3 at the earliest. Of all of them, Butters in particular is a memorable breakout.
    • Saddam Hussein was introduced in the Season 2 premiere, while Tweek first appeared in the second half of the season. Timmy debuted in Season 4, while Jimmy followed in Season 5 after the writers realised they'd milked Timmy's voiceless brand of comedy dry. Ms Choksondik and Towelie also had their debuts in Seasons 4 and 5 respectively. Mr. Lu Kim the City Wok owner and Mr. Slave debuted in Season 6. Sgt. Yates and the Goth Kids first appeared in Season 7. Scott Malkinson made an Early-Bird Cameo in Season 8's "The Jeffersons" but wouldn't be properly introduced until Season 12. PC Principal debuted in Season 19 and his love interest Strong Woman debuted two seasons later.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob's live-action Loony Fan, Patchy the Pirate and his pet parrot Potty debuted in the season 2 episode "Christmas Who?" and have since starred in live-action segments at least Once a Season.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Lapis Lazuli, one of the most recognizable characters in the show, isn't introduced until the end of Season 1a (basically Season 1).
    • Peridot, Jasper, Ruby and Sapphire aren't introduced until near the end of Season 1b.
    • Yellow Diamond doesn't appear until near the end of Season 2.
    • Bismuth doesn't show up until Season 3.
    • Blue Diamond doesn't show up until Season 4. We do get to see an early glimpse of her in a flashback in Season 2.
    • Pink Diamond doesn't appear until Season 5.
    • White Diamond doesn't appear until the sixth-to-last episode of Season 5. An especially odd example, as there were so many hints to her existence that she was "iconic" before her name was ever even spoken.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: Supergirl only shows up in the second season finale, but quickly becomes the real Ensemble Dark Horse of the show and goes on to play a major role in Justice League Unlimited.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, one of the most memorable characters was Agent Bishop, a third party character opposed to both the Turtles and the Shredder. However, he doesn't debut until the third season of the show. Karai is also a major character for most of the series but doesn't debut until the second season.
  • Sgt. Hatred from The Venture Bros. doesn't appear until the end of season 2, and doesn't receive much characterization until season 3. Come seasons 4 and 5, he becomes the new Venture family bodyguard and is a main character present in almost every episode.

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