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Missing Main Character

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The inverse of Can't Drop the Hero— Rather than the game forcing you to use Bob at all times, the game makes you pick someone other than Bob to be the hero for one reason or another. Popular storyline reasons include Bob going missing, being incapacitated, or just not being allowed in whatever town the rest of the group is going to.

Forcing Bob out of the party can lead to serious issues if your team always consisted of Alice, Bob, and Carol and you never leveled up anyone else—Now Dave, who is at level five, has to try to fight level fifty monsters ...poorly.

See also And Now for Someone Completely Different if Bob's time as the main character simply ends because his story is over. Expect spoilers ahead.


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    Eastern RPG 
  • There's a section in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean where the player has to take control of Xelha while Kalas, the main character for the other 95% of the game, does various spoiler-y things.
  • Towards the end of the main quest in Chrono Trigger, Crono is removed from the party due to being killed by Lavos, forcing the player to choose another party member to replace him. Fortunately, due to Leaked Experience, the character will be the same level, but they won't have as many abilities as the characters that the player was using on a regular basis, both due to having to learn their abilities via Tech Points that're only given to characters in the battle party and because every Triple Tech up until that point used Crono as one of the necessary party members. Once the player reaches the point that only Sidequests and the final boss remain, it is possible (though not required) for Crono to rejoin the party.
  • The fangame sequel to Chrono Trigger, Crimson Echoes, forces you to fight solo with Marle for a single chapter. The developers admitted that Marle was not intended to be a solo character.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, there's a portion of the game during which Terra Branford leaves the party due to transforming into her Esper form for the first time and then flying off in a frenzy, thus making Locke, Celes and the party go after her. In the second half of the game (dubbed 'The World of Ruin') the party is scattered and you start with only Celes in the party. Terra does not need to be re-recruited during these events. However, she is the only character who always appears in the ending regardless (aside from Celes, Edgar, and Setzer, who are required no matter what).
    • In Final Fantasy VII, there's a short period of time where Cloud is removed from the party and presumed dead, and later found in a braindead state. During these times, Tifa and Cid take turns being the party leader.
    • There's a point in Final Fantasy XIII-2 during which Noel Kreiss, one of the game's two protagonists, gets separated from Serah, the other protagonist, due to Alyssa Zaidele sabotaging the time gate the group used in Academia, splitting the party up and then taking them straight to Caius. During this section of the game, Serah has to find and rescue Noel from the dream world Caius trapped him in.
    • After the completion of the 4.3 main scenario in Final Fantasy XIV, the player is briefly given control of Alphinaud for an instanced duty, when he is separated from the Warrior of Light and attacked by the Emperor's soldiers on his way to Garlemald with Maxima. This marks the first occasion of the player controlling an NPC, though it would not be the last, as most of the Scions, Hien, and a handful of others have scenarios where they are playable. Amusingly, there are segments where the game feels the need to inform you that you are playing as you, and not as another character.
  • Sands of Destruction: After the Dragon Isle the game removes Kyrie from the party because he allows Naja to kill him in an attempt to save the world from his Destruct powers. Morte subsequently takes the role of the party leader.
  • In the original Shadow Hearts Yuri leaves the party at the end of the Asia part, as he tries and fails to subdue Seraphic Radiance by fusing with it, and gets possessed. The game then skips forward six months, and gives you control over Alice, with Zhuzhenas the sole paty member.
  • Some parts of Sonic Chronicles have the party split into two groups, with Sonic leading one team and another party member leading the other.
  • Dragon Quest IV (combined with And Now for Someone Completely Different) has a bit of an odd form of this. Because the game employs a chapter-based progression system where you're forced to play through the backstories of your party members up until they meet and join the hero, for the majority of the game the protagonist isn't even playable, with his supporting cast taking the role of main playable character for each of their respective chapters.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a unique example. While the main character, Rex, is still usable, Chapter 7 removes access to his main Blade Pyra/Mythra, who is also the Deuteragonist of the story. As Chapter 6 ends with her being captured by Torna.
  • The Rance series often employs this in games that incorporate Fiends in them. Basically, Fiends can only be harmed by a few weapons in the entire world, and Rance's sword Chaos happens to be one of them. Rance also happens to be the only person around who can wield Chaos, meaning that if he's incapacitated in some way the heroes have no way of fighting back until he is recovered. Some examples across the series include:
  • Mega Man Battle Network
  • Thanks to Sweet Home (1989)'s Permadeath mechanic, it is entirely possible for the player to get Kazuo killed and have to soldier on without him. You'll be missing his lighter, for sure.
  • Trails Series:
    • In Trails in the Sky the 3rd, one chapter forces Kevin and Ries to each split up, dividing the other six party members among their teams. Then later, Kevin suffers a Heroic RRoD after being forced to unleash his barely-used Stigma against a Devil, forcing Ries to lead the group until he recovers.
    • Trails of Cold Steel IV actually starts with this situation, as Rean suffered a Trauma Conga Line that caused him to lose control of his Superpowered Evil Side in III's finale, resulting in him being captured by the Black Workshop. The entire first act is dedicated to Class VII, temporarily led by Juna, searching for where Rean was taken and eventually rescuing him.
  • In Earthbound, Ness and Paula are locked in a prison and Paula telepathically calls Jeff to save them. You then play as Jeff through Winters until he gets to the Sky Runner and rescue them. Additionally, after eating the Magic Cake you play as Poo as he masters his training before joining up with the rest of the Chosen Four.

    Western RPG 
  • While Dragon Age: Origins normally has Can't Drop the Hero in effect, there are a few portions of the game in which the Warden is removed from your party. The first involves entering the Fade to kill a demon -since only Mages can enter the Fade voluntarily, if your Warden is a Rogue or Warrior you have to send someone else (you can also choose to send someone else if your Warden is a mage). The second is a mission in which your other characters have to break the Warden out of prison (though you can also choose to escape as the Warden or simply bypass the section entirely, depending on your choices). The third is a Duel Boss Combat by Champion against Loghain, which can be fought as any party member other than Dog. And finally, a small segment of the final battle has whatever party members you didn't take with you Hold the Line against the Darkspawn to buy your main party time to kill the Archdemon.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, when the Player Character, Bastila, and Carth are imprisoned by the Sith, you have to pick one of your other party members to stage a rescue mission.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords does this when you have to attack two installations simultaneously: one on the planet surface and the other, on the planet's moon. You have to decide which three of your teammates go to the moon and which two you take with you to the planet. The choice is made slightly easier by the fact that Knights of the Old Republic gives equal amounts of XP to all characters, even on the Ebon Hawk, but there's still the small matter of all the cool items being concentrated in the hands of your top three characters...
  • Mass Effect 2 has a short section where you play as Joker while Shepard and all the party members are off the Normandy when the Collectors attack and abduct the crew.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda has a brief section where you play as your twin. Additionally, your twin has just woken up from cryo-sleep and as a result, has gained no levels. Furthermore, they aren't packing all the awesome gear your party has. Bioware seems to be in love with this trope.

    Turn Based Tactics 
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown doesn't force you to take a particular character at any point, but in the early to mid-game your most high-level units are likely to be two named characters from the DLC and/or the Sole Survivor from the tutorial mission. If they get wounded badly enough that they have to sit out a few missions, and you've been bringing them every time and neglecting to train up your rookies, you're going to have a bad time.
  • Makai Kingdom has this trope permanently in force outside the prologue — main character Zetta quickly turns himself into a book after the first tutorial battle. While the story still revolves around him and his attempts to return to his old body, he is not usable in a fight and serves the role as the deployment portal from which your Player Mooks deploy.
  • As We Cannot Go On With Out You is always a loss condition in Fire Emblem, this only happens very rarely. But there are some exceptions. All these games either temporarily "promote" someone else to the position of Hero Must Survive, or have multiple main characters.
    • Elincia is nominally the main character of Part 2 in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, but she's only usable for its Prologue and Endgame chapters, with those in between having you jump between other Crimean characters while she deals with her country's politics.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
      • Your chosen house's main Lord isn't available during Chapter 6's story battle, as they went to get help. This is likely because the Flame Emperor appears at the end of the chapter, allowing every Lord to be a possible suspect for their identity.
      • If you do Linhardt and Leonie's Paralogue on the Crimson Flower route, Edelgard won't be usable. This is because the chapter involves meeting The Immovable, one of the Nabataeans, a race Edelgard distrusts.