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Memetic Bystander

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All shows need to have extras. Whether they're the Faceless Masses or a Cast of Snowflakes, everything needs to have some way to show the main characters are not the only people existing in the world (unless, of course, that's the point). But every now and then someone will stand out, and all of a sudden they become incredibly popular for whatever reason. They may be endowed with a Fan Nickname, and a whole Backstory and personality may be extrapolated from just one random bystander with few or no lines and highly limited appearances.

The fandom may latch onto these characters because they are either a Recurring Extra or a One-Scene Wonder. If the creators of the work get wind of this phenomenon, the character may become an Ascended Extra. Compare the Ensemble Dark Horse, who is a popular minor character instead of a background character. Can overlap with Memetic Badass, but not all the time. See also O.C. Stand-in and Recurring Fanon Character.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The reporter in Death Note who, knowing full well what the consequences were, gave out his name and face after denouncing Kira.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, as Rossiu announces Simon's execution, a man can be seen in the crowd giving a Bicep-Polishing Gesture. However, due to cultural differences the Western audience interpreted it as the man giving an "up-yours" gesture (it helps that the man had a mustache as well). Dubbed Bruce Ironstaunch, this man became a vent for viewers' hatred toward Rossiu.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica fandom has some to the US audience.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the "Aquarium Lady", who, despite having less than two minutes of screen time and doing nothing of real relevance to the plot, is widely shipped with Mako Tsunami (when he's not being shipped with Ocean, that is.)
  • Inazuma Eleven has Masaru Gojou, midfielder for Teikoku, who has never gotten a single line, never even referred to by name (the only reason his name is even known is because the games have individual data for each and every one of the 1000+ characters, including a name and short bio), looks like he's in his 30s despite being a high schooler, and his face seems to be permanently frozen in one facial expression best described as "you might wanna draw your curtains." He won a popularity contest thanks to the meddling of 2ch; it's a long story really. The creators noticed this and gave him an appearance in the GO movie (the only member from Teikoku sans the ones who joined Inazuma Japan to appear in GO at all) and a cameo in LBX: Little Battlers eXperience.
  • A random farmer in Dragon Ball Z, who appeared trying to fight Raditz and horribly failed (and later a lookalike whose job is a hunter, trashed by Dr. Gero/Android no. 20). This person became so phenomenal this character later became known as "Farmer With Shotgun" and is sometimes considered a Memetic Badass.
  • Tiger & Bunny gives us a young girl with a pink scarf who shows up every single episode, and has been nicknamed "Scarf-tan".
  • The fans of One Piece regularly make memes out of random background characters, probably because even the background characters are affected by Cast of Snowflakes and thus often look unique, awesome or funny.
    • From the Fishman Island arc: A muscular octopus-like fishman with a seaman's cap who was seen standing next to Jinbe in one single panel of the fishman flashback. Aladdin from the same flashback partially counts, as he was rather popular during his first few background appearances, but he was introduced and given an actual role in the story before he could really become a fan meme.
    • Pandaman is a more widely known one, showing up in the background all over the place. Oda himself confirmed that Pandaman is the same person in every appearance, and likes to detail his adventures whenever the fans bring him up. Pandaman was a character Oda created for Kinnikuman (which accepted character designs from fans) when he was 8.
  • Attack on Titan is full of giant humanoid monstrosities. One of these giant humanoid monstrosities had giant, shimmering schoolgirl eyes. Finding this to be bizarrely adorable, the internet anime community has dubbed it Kawaii Titan (or Moe Titan) and treated it as a supporting character whose life was tragically cut short in episode 8. The guidebook gives it the official name of the Peering Titan. And a flashback eventually shows its human self. He was an Eldian Restorationist who was turned into a Titan by Marley and set loose on Paradis, and bears a serious resemblance to his Titan self, down to having the exact same eyes.
  • Aquarion Evol has Paperbag-chan, an extra who appears in several shots wearing a paper bag over her head. The series gives no development, characterization, or explanation of any kind as to what this girl's deal is.
  • Code Geass has Carve-tan, an Ashford student whom Lelouch commanded to carve a mark on a certain wall every day at a certain time as part of figuring out his powers. She makes a few background appearances throughout the first season, always marking the wall; this only picked up between seasons when Word of God confirmed that she went back to Britannia but still tries to get back to the school and mark the wall, with her family believing she's sleepwalking.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: While DIO is having Senator Phillips drive over a sidewalk, one of the people he runs over resembles Waldo. Fans who noticed him dubbed him "Wally", and some have begun editing him into other scenes, such as having him alongside the images of the dead Crusaders while Joseph and Jotaro gaze into the sky.
  • Gundam Build Divers revels in this trope with the addition of a background character who looks for all the world like Patrick Colasour from Mobile Suit Gundam 00, known for appearing Once an Episode and no more. Thanks in part to his popularity in his home series, fans caught on right away, and "Patrick" proved popular enough to be brought back for the following season Re: Rise. And he's an online avatar, so outside of one voiced appearance by the original VA, there's no possible way it could be the real guy since Build Divers takes place 20 Minutes into the Future... except so does Gundam 00.
  • The blonde delinquent girl from season 2 episode 4 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is something of a bizarre example since she's actually Houka Kazetomo, a supporting character from Metsuko ni Yoroshiku. But since Metsuko ended almost seven years before the episode aired and was never officially translated into English, most viewers would have no way of knowing who she was ahead of time.

    Audio Play 
  • Fans of 36 Questions often call Henry the best character, despite the fact that Henry is a Living Prop with almost no impact on the story. And he's a duck.

    Comic Books 
  • If you pick up a comic book, you might notice two recurring characters in the form of a ginger man with glasses and a goatee and his stockier, black-haired friend. They’re usually cops, but they’ve also be seen as everything from civilians, party-goers and common crooks, and are always seen together. The kicker? They’re found in Marvel, DC and Transformers comics, completely transcending companies, writers, and artists. No one knows where they come from or who created them. They are known to fans simply as the "Mystery Hipster Cops".
  • An early example that's seen to this day, straight from 1938, is the Cowering Man, who's seen in Action Comics #1, running in fear from Superman lifting a car. Whenever this scene is referenced, you can count on him running away. Dude's been running for almost 80 years.

    Fan Works 
  • The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal exploits such incidental characters, such as Howondaland Smith, Alice Band, Miss Smith-Rhodes, Madame Deux-Epées, and many others.



    Live-Action Television 
  • Morn from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a regular at Quark's bar and is seen in the background in almost every episode in which the location is featured. He's played by the same man throughout the series, though he's not visible beneath the costume. The mask includes a jointed mouth so that the character can speak if necessary, but he never gets any lines. He eventually began getting acknowledgement within the show, as characters would supply all sorts of Informed Attributes about him, including the fact that he's a big talker. Morn eventually gets an entire episode devoted to him, but he still manages to stay off camera for most of it, does very little while on camera, and is even prevented from speaking when he attempts to do so. Word of God is that Morn's path to significance started when his actor was told to stay in the background and pantomime that he's telling the funniest joke in the universe to the other extras. The result was so funny that he was kept on, and on-screen silence became his bit.
  • Balding Asian Guy from Stargate Universe had some popularity from appearing in crowd scenes in one episode.
  • The extremely hot guy standing behind Carrie when she gets splashed in the Sex and the City opening had quite a following in certain circles.
  • The Observer in Fringe is an in-universe example — though he is significant to the plot, he and his kind have an oath of non-interference (which is only mostly adhered to), but were noticed by the characters because of their habit of turning up at significant events throughout history.
  • The Glee fandom loves Brad the accompanist, despite him having never spoken. Not to mention he doesn't do anything other than accompany the kids on the piano—at one point, a character actually referred to him as "furniture."
    • Starting in season four there was also the infamous Neck-Brace Cheerio. She first appeared in a behind-the-scenes photo that fans mistook for Brittany. When the episode aired and it showed that the girl was just in the background, the fans still clamoured around her and started making head canons for her backstory and character. This led to her getting a bit more to do in the next season, such as becoming Bree's Dragon and getting nominated for Prom Queen.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation gives us Towerz, a tall black guy who never says anything.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) has a number of recurring background characters that are popular among fans; one of the more easily recognizable ones is the "tattooed pilot".
  • In Highlander, the two-part episode "Comes a Horseman/Revelation 6:8" had a flashback scene with the Horsemen pillaging a Bronze Age village. The fans quickly started liking a character seen running from the horses with a bundle of sticks in his arms. They called him "Stickboy".
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show gave us the irritated-looking, bespectacled matron looking at Mary as she tossed her hat into the air in the show’s iconic opening credits.
  • On Are You Being Served?, the lift girls and sales assistants were nearly always present. Many were also professional dancers, so they were able to take part in some of the dance sequences. Two of the Long-Runners were Belinda Lee (lift girl) and Sue Bishop (sales assistant), who both got speaking parts in one episode.
  • Harry Hill's TV Burp loved singling out minor characters and extras who would otherwise get little attention. Perhaps the best-known example was when he made note of the two blonde pink nurses on Casualty—the short one who does "lengths" (walking toward or away from a camera pointed down a long corridor) in the scenes and the taller one who does "widths" (generally seen walking across shots in the background). This led to amused commentary online and on other shows about the fact that Casualty was indeed doing this.
  • Game of Thrones had a recurring bystander with a beard. He first appeared in season 5 as one of Stannis' soldiers, then he's seen as part of the Stark army starting with season 6. The fact he's just normal soldier who nevertheless survives a blizzard, a battle massively lopsided against his side, and well as a zombie apocalypse and remains a leal servant of the Starks has endeared him to the fandom. In a companion documentary for season 8, the extra playing him gives him a name; Aberdolf Strongbeard.

  • In Rebecca Black's Friday video, a girl in pink dancing awkwardly next to Black in one scene exploded in popularity from an already highly memetic song.
  • In Sound Horizon's Märchen, there is a character called Idolfried Ehrenberg (aka. "Ido") who is only heard faintly in the background of a single song and has all of two lines, neither of which have anything to do with either the album or the song proper. Naturally, fans have created a detailed backstory for himnote  (which, given Revo's MO, may have been exactly what was intended) and draw nearly as much fanart for him as they do for the title character.
  • One of Katy Perry's backup dancers at Super Bowl XLIX unexpectedly created the phenomenon known to the Internet as "Left Shark."
  • A fan passionately dancing at the live debut of BABYMETAL, which was also a Sakura Gakuin event, earned the Fan Nickname "White T-Shirt Guy".

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The man who witnesses Jesus's arrest and then flees naked after Giving Them the Strip in Mark 14:51-52. Since this bystander is not mentioned in any of the other Gospels, a common theory is that he was Mark himself.

    Video Games 
  • Street Fighter II:
    • There's a background character in the Las Vegas stage (Balrog's) that always loses a bet no matter who wins. He sobs on his forearm once a round is over.
    • Right next to him there's another BG chara who has a top hat. Once the round is over, he takes off his top hat to celebrate.
    • A retroactive example: Ken's stage (a yacht docked at what is believed to be the San Francisco Bay), features a mysterious man on the boat who heavily resembles Q from Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Cue speculation and rumors. Notably, the guy thought to be Q is absent in HD Remix, which raised more than a few eyebrows from fans.
  • While several NPCs in Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days just kind of stand and stare blankly at the protagonists (despite how many guns they're packing and/or how many bullet wounds they're covered in), one middle-aged man in the chapter "Laying Low" has received some attention for getting up off of his stoop and staring fearlessly at Lynch when he's walked past.
  • Mass Effect 2: The Turian Groundskeeper's cut lines and the Alliance Drill Instructor's awesome speech elevated both to this state. And the Techno Turian in Thane's loyalty mission, who displays some incredible dancing. Many a mission was failed by watching him bust a move.
  • Mega Man X2 has the Green Biker Dude, a Reploid who appears at the beginning of the intro stage and whose only purpose is to pop a wheelie and die.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Radiant Dawn has the 3-13 Archer, a random generic allied Sniper who appears in Chapter 3-13. If left to his own devices, he will singlehandedly kill three enemy Laguz before dying in a Heroic Sacrifice on the final turn. In a game where the allied units are infamously useless, this has earned him a great deal of love from players.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has the Rallyman in Conquest Chapter 23 (in Lunatic Mode). The fans latched onto him after realizing how useful he is if captured.
    • Three Houses has The Gatekeeper, an unnamed soldier who stands at the gates of the monastery and recaps the events of the chapter when the player speaks to him. His cheerfulness and voice acting has caused him to become quite popular with the fanbase.
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years has Monk C (known by many in the fandom as "Monk Coleman", though that's of course not an official name). In the PSP remake, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, Monk C even has a slightly different color scheme from Monks A and B.
  • Pokémon:
  • The first Pidget in Level 1-2 of Super Mario Bros. 2 was dubbed "Bill the Extra Guy" by Neglected Mario Characters and given his own bio and backstory. It seems to have caught on within some parts of the Mario fandom.
  • Occurs so often in Touhou fandom that they could form their own independent cast, usually to midbosses with unique sprites but no dialogue. Daiyousei, Koakuma (not even having names originally until ZUN caught on), Lily White, Momiji, Shizuha, Kisume, Youki (only mentioned in Youmu's profile), and many, many others.
  • One of the stages of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift contains a big fluffy dog that barks repeatedly. Hype Dog swiftly became beloved by the fans.
  • Guilty Gear: In Xrd, there's a fat grey-haired sheriff in the background of the Neo New York stage as its only background character, who's watching the fight while eating hamburgers out of a bottomless bag. Fans took a liking to him and dubbed him "Burger Sheriff". Newcomer Goldlewis Dickinson in -STRIVE- was commonly believed to be the Burger Sheriff initially, but Word of God comfirmed he's actually his younger brother.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 features the "Lady in Purple", a random slave girl in a purple skirt who appears in a story mode cutscene briefly and never comes up again. She was raised to this status after a topic sprung up on a fansite message board written by someone who wanted her to be playable because they liked her design. To a lesser extent, there's also "Steam", a grey Palette Swap of the Mortal Kombat 3 female ninja model who appears in a lineup of fighters entering the tournament who fans have declared to be the Distaff Counterpart of Smoke, and the "Lady in Green", a mysterious goddess who possesses Jade in her ending. That last example would later turn out to be Kronika, the Big Bad of Mortal Kombat 11, albeit with a significantly altered design.
    • There's also the old lady in the Outrealm stage from Mortal Kombat X, who's there as a stage interactable that you can throw at your opponent. It's no surprise she was used as the Stage Fatality when they were added to the game.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, a number of the background characters from Hisao's overview of the class have gone on to become very popular, particularly Molly, an Ambiguously Brown girl with dark brown plaits. Because of the nature of the game's development, most of them became popular before the full game was even released. One of them, Miki, went on to become an actual, if minor, character.
  • Japan-only variant in the Disgaea series. The character Pleinair started out as a mascot for the character designer, appearing as a distinctive NPC in the original game and hosting the On the Next chapter sequences in the second game. Somehow she became very popular in Japan; subsequent games and remakes include her as an optional or DLC party member. This is acknowledged in Disgaea 4, which explicitly states she has a fan club. She's not nearly as popular in America (though she has a reputation of being a Memetic Badass Game-Breaker).
  • Running Kid from Persona 4, who runs across the screen right before the Iris In transition out of walking-to-school scenes.
  • Floral Pants Man from Persona 5, a nameless NPC who replaces Mishima as the one who rallies the people of Tokyo behind the Phantom Thieves in the finale if you don't max out the latter's Confidant.
  • In various splash arts or promotions of a League of Legends champion, there's usually one poor knight schmuck that is either obliterated or devoured by the champion in question, leaving behind just his helmet. This particular knight was later known by fans as "Helmet Bro", and became something of a minor fan favorite.
  • Clem and John Prodman from Warframe both originated as random goons assisting Tenno during invasion missions; Clem as a Grineer trooper who made it to the extraction together with the players, giving him characterisation as a Tenno fanboy, and John as a Corpus prodman who landed a killing hit on the mission boss and survived, elevating him into a Memetic Badass status.
  • Resident Evil 4: The Merchant is oddly popular in fanart, because for no real adequately-explained reason, he talks like a pirate in the English dub.
  • The music in Splatoon is credited in-universe to several fictional bands, most of which don't even appear in game. Nonetheless, the vocalist of the band Chirpy Chips (seen here, second from the right) became very popular with the community, inspiring quite a lot of fan art and being given the temporary Fan Nickname Glenna Nalira. Possibly owing in part to her popularity, Chirpy Chips was one of the few bands from the first game to return in Splatoon 2, and promotional material eventually gave her the name Paruko in Japanese. She would later appear as a full-on Ascended Extra in Splatoon 3 as the shopkeeper at the in-game store Hotlantis, and finally be given an official English name — Harmony.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery has a blond Gryffindor student whom the players noticed often struggled to cast the spell Wingardium Leviosa in the background. He was quickly nicknamed Leviosa Kid by the fandom, and given a Memetic Loser characterization in fan works. That became an Ascended Meme, as the characters in-universe would also start referring to him as such, until he eventually got an actual name - Levi Kidd.

  • The Order of the Stick gives us That Guy With A Halberd, a nameless Azurite soldier armed with (you guessed it) a halberd who appeared briefly during the battle for Azure City. A thread devoted to him on the OOTS forums reached 28 pages.
  • Homestuck:
    • Ms. Paint, a Prospitian woman who carries a bucket of paint and seems to be a part of the White Queen's retinue. Fan reaction lead to a cameo in one of the comic's many fourth wall breaking segments, during which she became Andrew Hussie's love interest.
    • Fedorafreak, a Memetic Badass despite only communicating in text.
    • An out-of-universe example: Lemy Telya (short for "Let Me Tell You About Homestuck"), a nameless security guard who can be seen in the background of this photograph apparently scowling at a group of cosplayers at a convention being incredibly silly. He's inspired fanart, cosplay, and fanart OF the cosplay. He's not the only Memetic Bystander to have arisen from the background of a cosplay photo, though he was the first. Another is a similarly unnamed waitress at an IHOP seen in the background of a photo openly mocking some cosplayers.
  • Adventurers! has that guy who says "There are many guards in the castle", while RPG World had The "Times are Tough" Guy.
  • Collar 6 has "Epic Hat and Moustache Guy", an exceedingly manly man in Victorian (or as close as the Rule Of Fetish setting can get to it) attire who appears in a mere single frame as part of a crowd, giving a thumbs up to the reader.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! does not believe in Faceless Masses, and these background extras tend to reappear later with actual personalities. Floyd Fitznewski, Heywood J. Lookathat, Ms. Hatbrim, and Herb Gardner all first appeared as background extras in crowd shots. The strip's character page even lists "Random Woman From Crowd Scene on Aug. 14, 2007: The only figure in that scene who has never reappeared."
  • El Goonish Shive has "Shy Girl". Originally an extra she quickly became popular with the fans and was eventually merged with a supporting character.
  • Heroine Chic has the fan-favorite (and fan-named!) "Man Bun Jogger," an attractive fitness enthusiast who can be seen jogging, stretching, and hanging out (always shirtless) in the background of scenes taking place on the streets of New York City. In season 3, "MBJ" gets upgraded to a named character (Tom) and begins dating Laren, the roommate of protagonist Zoe.
  • Sonichu: One moment in Issue #8, set underwater, contains numerous cameos by Water-type Pokémon, among which include a tired Squirtle. Said "Yawning Squirtle" quickly became a ripe source of jokes and memes due to the amateurish art making it instead appear to be stoned.

    Web Original 
  • The Epic Beard Man viral video, featuring a fistfight on a bus between two men, mysteriously spawned a popular sub-meme around a disinterested bystander who was listening to music. She became known as "Amber Lamps", after one of the men's mangled cry for an ambulance.
  • Tiribomba, an exceptionally generic-looking Ta-Matoran lava farmer who does nothing in the BIONICLE Flash game, Mata Nui Online Game II, but has a memorably funky name.
  • RWBY: The Shopkeeper/Noodle Stand Guy, who makes sporadic appearances in the first 3 volumes only to have his day ruined by a member of the main cast. Every volume afterwards has its own memetic bystander:
    • Volume 4 had the Higinbana waitress with the unfortunate tendency to encounter dangerous people.
    • Volume 5 gave us Shay D Mann, who existed to be punched out by Yang and then lead her to the plot.
    • Volume 6 had the Mistral Girl who encountered Cinder (and was almost certainly killed).
    • Volume 7 had the Pink-Haired Faunus Girl who left Pietro's clinic just as the heroes arrived.
    • Volume 8 gives us two—one in the form of Fiona's Uncle, a friendly badger faunus who gave Oscar some soup, and Bill the unlucky coffee-drinking staff member in the Atlas Military Headquarters. Also the Shopkeep shows up again.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Foaming Mouth Guy. His first appearance was only for a few seconds in Season 1 as a background character, but he became such a fan favourite he reappeared again in Season 2 (still in the background, but with a lot more screen time). And then was featured as one of the possible shipped characters at a panel held by the creators. Apparently, he once dated Suki, and she's embarrassed about the whole thing.
    • Aunt Wu's male assistant from the episode "The Fortuneteller", who never gets any lines but still managed to leave an impression due to his striking appearance.
    • The Cabbage Merchant ("My cabbages!") got so popular he ended up with multiple appearances, and his descendant makes an appearance in The Legend of Korra. His ancestors also get a Shout-Out in The Rise of Kyoshi when Kyoshi hears a conversation about a cabbage merchant's harvest in passing.
  • The Legend of Korra has a specific member of the Order of the White Lotus who, despite appearing on-screen for roughly ten seconds or less, is quite popular with the fans. He's been dubbed "Howl" note  and apparently gets shipped with Korra pretty often.
  • Daria had a large number of recurring background characters (generally referred to as "backgrounders"), many of whom were based on MTV staffers or had interesting, cliquey looks. Over time a large number of them have become Ensemble Darkhorses with Fanon names and personalities. Behold an entire webpage dedicated to analyzing them.
  • Out of the consistent Recurring Extras at Kim Possible's school, fans latched onto a freckled brunette who always wore shades of blue, and so was dubbed the "Girl in Blue". But the really memetic one was a tall, short-haired girl in a red top and cargo pants, who fit the stereotypical image of a Butch Lesbian and was named "Alex Sapphic" by a fanartist. This identity became fanon, and she still appears in fanfiction with this name. Oddly enough, the show's aversion to Faceless Masses means the two of them show up in the background all over the world, as if they're having their own thrilling adventures alongside Kim's.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle: There's a pony who caught fans' eyes precisely because she has no toy. She caused a lot of speculation and discussion but is generally considered to be a figurine-only pony named "Firstborn".
    • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has an unbelievable amount of these:
      • The page image: in the first episode, a bluish grey, cock-eyed pony can be seen for a few seconds on the background, and she immediately became a fan favorite, with an enormous amount of art and fanfic about her and a whole fan-crafted personality. Dubbed "Derpy Hooves", she reached Ascended Meme status with several cameos, a full speaking part, some official toys (including a large Comic Con-exclusive one and a standard brushable in a "Fan Favorites" set), and a prominent role in the 100th episode, which is almost nothing but Ascended Fanon.
      • A brown pony with hair resembling the Tenth Doctor and an hourglass cutie mark was swiftly branded Doctor Whooves. Cue hundreds of crossovers. This intensified when other Earth stallion ponies appeared in the background with hourglass cutie marks, seemingly representing some of the previous incarnations of the Doctor. He also got canonized in a trading card, which includes a "timey-wimey" reference. He also has appeared in licensed merchandise and as a small Hasbro-made figure, where he has a unique mold note  and is actually referred to as Doctor Whooves on the packaging. He also holds the distinction of having had a speaking role before the 100th episode, but with an American accent, which was officially retconned for the Milestone Celebration, where he gets the correct English accent and a completely new characterization (though due to copyrights, he's a screwball inventor who believes in time travel a la Doc Brown, rather than a Time Lord).
      • Lyra (the go-to pony for a Funny Background Event) and Bon Bon (who is often seen with her, and made her own fame with having a very different voice each time she gets an incidental line) are about equal in popularity, and loop on each other's popularity by being romantically paired together more consistently than any other pairing. They too have a role in the 100th episode, and a few official toys. The final season has them proposing to each other and then get married in the background.
      • Octavia, a cello-playing pony from "The Best Night Ever" with an incredible resemblance to Pinkie Pie's sister, got fan popularity far beyond most of the other musicians that have appeared, finally getting voiced in the 100th episode.
      • A white DJ pony with purple glasses and a blue/cyan mane who appears for all of six seconds in "Suited For Success" gained a lot of popularity, dubbed Vinyl Scratch/DJ PON-3, appearing in fanfics, fan art and tons of fan music. She got some more cameos, official toys from Hasbro including a standard brushable one as part of a "Fan Favorites" set, and appears alongside Octavia in the 100th episode.
      • A white pegasus pony with huge muscles, very tiny wings and No Indoor Voice that fans dubbed "Snowflake" first appeared in the "Hurricane Fluttershy" episode. He showed up again later as one of the recruits in "Wonderbolts Academy" before finally getting a canon name (Bulk Biceps) and a major speaking role as part of Dash's relay team in "Rainbow Falls".
  • Several from Spongebob Squarepants: the "MY LEG!" (or, if you're going by The Movie, "MY EYES!") guy from several episodes, the "he kept us waiting for a bubble!?" guy from "Bubble Buddy", and the "DEUUEAUGH" fish from "Something Smells". All three have gained significant popularity, mostly through YouTube Poop.
  • The "Unidentified Rodian with Jacket" from an episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars.
  • The "Fionna and Cake" episode of Adventure Time gender-flipped the usual cast, creating a host of Ensemble Darkhorses. The most extreme example was probably Marshall Lee, the Spear Counterpart of Marceline, who showed up for about sixteen seconds and didn't say a word (he was going to get a line, but it was cut for time), but has swarms of fangirls and gets shipped with just about everyone. He eventually got an episode dedicated to him.
  • Actor variant: Any time there's a disaster scene and you hear a woman's voice in the crowd yell "My baby!" It's probably Tress Macneille.
  • Arthur has two noticeable classmates of Arthur that never get interacted with or have lines but have been around since the original books. They're named Maria and Alex and fans have taken quite a shine to them, especially since they're often seen together. The writers noticed and gave Maria a Lower-Deck Episode eventually.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "The Answer" a pearl appeared for a few seconds. She doesn't speak or really even do much in that episode but she is the first pearl shown aside from "our" Pearl. Her design really stood out and within minutes of the episode airing fanworks started popping up. She was dubbed "Blue Pearl" by fans. She did eventually reappear in later episodes, and do a bit more than just stand around in said episodes, but there were a lot of fanworks about her just after that one scene.
  • Danny Phantom eventually gained one of these: Wes Weston. He's a background character with next to no screen time and no lines who people turned to as an explanation for why nobody figures out that Danny Fenton is Danny Phantom - said background character had enough similarities to Danny's ghost form that one could assume the resemblance really isn't enough of a clue by itself. Then somehow the character gained the name Wes (in reference to a scene in which someone reads Sam's name upside down and wonders who "Wes" is) and became one of the only ones to know Danny's Secret Identity, who tries to tell people that Danny is a ghost but is never believed, and is often teased by Danny and/or assumed to be Phantom himself.
  • In his first appearance, Creeper from Batman: The Animated Series breaks into a thrift shop to assemble his costume - the clerk, a young woman in a green sweater, is unfazed and assists him. Fans took a liking to her and nicknamed her "Thrifty".

    Real Life 
  • The exceptionally interesting background character in an otherwise normal photograph makes rich fodders for memes.
    • Cigar Guy from a famous Tiger Woods photo is a man wearing a strange wig and fake moustache, smoking a rather large cigar.
    • Frowning Flower Girl appeared at the Royal Wedding, looking rather disgruntled and covering her ears right next to the happy couple about to kiss.
    • Time-Traveling Hipster, a man in surprisingly modern clothing who was spotted in a photograph taken in 1940.
    • A Ridiculously Photogenic Guy who appeared in the background of a marathon photo. Notorious for not only his dashing good looks, but for his chipper smile and pristine appearance during a sports event defined by its exhaustive and withering effects on the human physique and spirit.
    • Major Sherrif Hussein, aka the guy behind Omar Soliman.
    • Known as Moustache Guy or The Observer, some random guy between two football club coaches who got in a fight, became famous overnight, for some reason. A common meme is photoshopped photos of historical moments with him standing in the background.
    • NASA Mohawk Guy
  • Kilroy, who apparently showed up all over the place in World War II according to widespread graffiti. The actual James Kilroy was a shipyard inspector who chalked 'Kilroy was here' on ships he was inspecting as a way of keeping track of where he had been and how far the work had gone when he was there. Not all of those marks were cleaned off before the ships left dock, leading to bored soldiers taking those ships to the European front finding them and creating the meme as a way of explaining it.
  • The lady who forms the basis of the "wat" meme.
  • The unimpressed-looking colleague seen sitting next to Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis when the latter was interviewed after refusing to issue certain marriage licenses. The popular Fanon appears to be that she's an incredibly cynical Only Sane Employee who makes a lot of foul-mouthed rants about Davis being a terrible coworker and survives mostly off Diet Mountain Dew.
  • Fursuiter Cajun Spice became this at Furry Weekend Atlanta when he passed by a couple of people engaged in pup-play.
  • Umbrella Man, who was seen opening an umbrella in the Zapruder recording of the Kennedy assassination, and has become a rather iconic character. A few conspiracy theories posit that he was the real shooter, and the umbrella was a Parasol of Pain.
    • The Zapruder film also has Babushka Lady, a woman wearing a headscarf who is holding a camera. Like Umbrella Man, Babushka Lady has become an iconic character in her own right and appears in several conspiracy theories.