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In a long-running series, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with new covers that are all distinct but clearly related to each other. One common strategy is to draw a different character on the cover of each volume.
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The first few volumes will usually show the main heroes and villains of the series, with supporting characters appearing on later covers. The covers may show only the current character's face or the character in some sort of action pose, but they will seldom show a scene from the story. While a character may appear on the cover of the volume where they are first introduced it is not uncommon for the character on the cover to play a small role in the story of the volume, or even not appear at all in the story. If the series continues long enough the illustrator might be forced to reuse characters but very rarely will the same character appear on the cover of consecutive volumes. If the point-of-view character varies from volume to volume often the point-of-view character for a volume will also be the one on the cover.

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This trope is often used for Variant Covers. Compare Team Shot, where the main cast is pictured together on one cover.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You always has two of the 100 girlfriends on the cover of a volume instead of just one — the few exceptions so far being both of Kusuri's age selves in volume 3, the then-13 girlfriends posing as idols in volume 8, and the then-19 girlfriends posing in white dresses in volume 12 — but otherwise it is an example of this trope. The two girls are usually in a similar pose holding each other (if not, one is carrying the other), and no girl appears on two covers.
  • Bleach has a different character on the cover of each collected volume (except Ichigo and Rukia in the final, 74th volume), sometimes just a face and sometimes in an action pose but always against a blank background. Ichigo, Rukia, Orihime, Uryu, Byakuya, Zangetsu, Renji, Aizen, Gin, Shinji, Ulquiora, Grimmjow & Yamamoto have had the distinction of more than one cover (Ichigo has 4 total; 1, 19, 49 & 74, Rukia has 3; 2, 54, 74).
  • Cowboy Bebop: The initial DVD releases had each "Session" with a different monochromatic character on each cover. Session 1 had a red Spike, Session 2 an orange Faye, Session 3 a yellow Ed, Session 4 a green Jet. Sessions 5 and 6, having run out of individual human crew members, had a purple Ed holding the dog Ein and a blue collage of the entire crew respectively.
  • Dead Dead Demons Dededede Destruction: The first 8 volumes' covers are all close-ups of one member of the cast, specifically (in order) Kadode, Oran, Kiho, Ai, Rin, Futaba, Makoto, and "Oba". Volume 9 breaks this trend by having both Kadode and Oran, and then volume 10 features a close-up of an Invader.
  • Death Note: The Black Edition of the manga combines the original twelve volumes into six books. Each cover, while minimalistic, features a character's face in the center of a circular frame, in order — Light, Ryuk, L, Misa, Mello, and Near.
  • Both Fruits Basket and its sequel Fruits Basket Another do this for the manga volumes. In Fruits Basket, the first fifteen volumes show Tohru and the Sohma members of the Zodiac, while volumes 16-23 feature normal humans who are either close friends or relatives of the main characters. In Another, every volume cover has a main character on them, with Sawa on Volume 1, Mutsuki on Volume 2, Hajime on Volume 3, and Shiki on Volume 4.
  • The re-released Fullmetal Alchemist volumes have a different character on each cover.
  • Girlfriend, Girlfriend starts out with one girlfriend on each cover, but later volumes increase this to two per cover, again with little repetition. The girls are always dressed similarly and in similar poses.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The JoJonium editions of Phantom Blood, Battle Tendency, and Stardust Crusaders feature one principal character on each volume's cover, using new illustrations by author Hirohiko Araki. In order, the volumes depict Jonathan Joestar, William Zeppeli, Dio Brando in 1889, Joseph Joestar in 1938, Lisa Lisa, Caesar Zeppeli, Kars, Jotaro Kujo, Joseph Joestar in 1988, Hol Horse, Enyaba, Noriaki Kakyoin, Mohammed Avdol, D'Arby the Elder, Iggy, Jean Pierre Polnareff, and DIO in 1988. The volumes for Stardust Crusaders additionally depict each character's Stand on the back covers.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War does this with a little over half of its volumes, with the other half focusing on two or more characters. It also falls a bit into P.O.V. Boy, Poster Girl since Shirogane doesn't appear on his own until volume 20 and Ishigami never appears by himself at all.
    • The Official Doujinshi Spin-Off also does this, though the final volume does show a second character's hands.
  • Kingdom: Features each cover with a different character or the entire cast of the story arc. Even the back covers typically have one or two characters being featured, with four being the main stay.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Every volume cover has a different member of the main cast. Originally, volumes with odd numbers feature a character of Team Moriarty while even numbers feature one of Team Holmes. For example, William is on Volume 1 and Sherlock is on Volume 2. This breaks in later volumes, as far more people are on William's team than Sherlock's, so team Moriarty features on most of the teen covers, and both Sherlock and William are on the cover of volume 19, finally breaking the pattern.
  • My-HiME's manga adaptation played this straight for the first three volumes, with Mai on vol. 1, Natsuki on vol. 2, and Mikoto on vol.3. Volumes 4 & 5 feature multiple characters.
  • Pluto: Each volume features a main character's face on the cover, starting with the two heroes of the story, Gesicht and Atom, on the first and second volume respectively. Subsequent volumes have Uran, Doctor Tenma, Hercules, Professor Ochanomizu, Epsilon, and finally Atom again for the concluding volume.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: The first and last volumes bookend the series with cover images of all five sisters together, but all of the covers in-between exclusively feature individual characters. Volumes 2-6 have each of the five sisters in their normal clothes, volumes 7-11 show each of them in a bridal gown, and volumes 12 and 13 spotlight Futaro and The Bride, respectively.
  • The 2011 re-release of the Sailor Moon manga includes a different character on each volume cover. In order, they are: Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus, Sailor Chibi Moon, Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, Sailor Pluto, Sailor Saturn, Sailor Chibi Chibi Moon, and Princess Serenity with Small Lady and Chibi Chibi.
  • Spy X Family: Each cover of the manga's volumes has a different cast member sitting down on a chair. The style of the chair and the objects surrounding it are used to show that character's personality. The DVD/Blu-ray covers follow suit, with each having a cast member facing front in the same order as the manga covers.
  • The Tamagotchi series has multiple DVDs whose covers each put one of the characters front and center, up to Miracle Friends.
    • GO-GO Tamagotchi! has multiple characters on the cover of each DVD. Since the first installment has 35 volumes, some characters are repeated in later covers.
  • Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki : The original OVA series did this with the first 5 volumes, with the addition of the character holding up a number of fingers matching the volume number. (#3 was a partial exception, as Sasami was holding Team Pet Ryo-Oh-Ki.)
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: The covers of the first five volumes each feature one of the girls in Chromatic Arrangement order; Ichigo on Volume 1, Mint on Volume 2, Lettuce on Volume 3, Pudding on Volume 4, Zakuro on Volume 5.
  • The manga adaptation of Trinity Blood shows the important characters on each cover. Abel and Ester are the only characters who are featured on more than one cover.
  • The deluxe edition of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- featured every important character for each cover such as Syaoran and Sakura in the first two volumes. The two were shown again in volumes 23 and 24 respectively after their true identities as clones were revealed. Then, the last two volumes featured them again as their real selves.
  • Nearly every volume of Witch Hat Atelier features a different character on both the front cover and back cover. The only characters who appear on multiple covers are those from Quifrey's atelier, such as Coco and Argott.

    Comic Books 
  • The color editions of the Scott Pilgrim series have a different character adorning each of the six volumes—Scott, Knives, Envy, Wallace, Kim, & Ramona, respectively. There's also the "Evil Editions" that have each volume adorned by its respective evil ex(es).
  • The first Serenity comic story, Those Left Behind, had three issues with three variant covers each, each depicting one of the nine Serenity crew members: Mal, Jayne, Inara, Zoe, Kaylee, Book, Simon, Wash, and River.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts: The book series The Complete Peanuts collects every strip from the almost 50-year history of Peanuts. Every cover shows a cast member with a look of some strong emotion on their face. A different cast member is shown on the spine. While there is repetition of the cover characters, no character appears on more than one spine.
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    Literature 
  • Each Animorphs volume has that book's viewpoint character on the cover, morphing into an animal morph used in the book. Of course, since there are only six main viewpoint characters, they repeat each character several times.
  • Cinnamon Bun: Each cover shows the top of a character's head, from about the eyes up. Volume 1 shows Broccoli, Volume 2 shows Amaryllis, volume 3 shows Awen and Volume 4 shows Bastion. Despite showing so little of the characters, the cover of volume 1 still manages to contain a spoiler, picturing Broccoli with rabbit ears that she does not obtain until volume 2.
  • Hive Mind (2016): The first book has Amber flanked by Adika and Lucas, but since then, the book covers have featured Amber (Defender), Lucas (Hurricane), Forge (Perilous), and Buzz (Borderline). The pre-release cover for Adversary features Adversary Aura of Hive Genex.
  • Each Loner Life In Another World novel cover features a female member of the cast, despite the cast being gender-balanced.
  • The Mortal Instruments: The 2015 covers depict a different main character on each of the six books: Jace on City of Bones Clary on City of Ashes, Simon on City of Glass, Isabelle of City of Fallen Angels, Alec on City of Lost Souls and Sebastian on City of Heavenly Fire. The spines of the books also depict different characters and each of them forms part of a larger illustration.
  • The US publications for The Stormlight Archive books feature one of the main focus characters of the series on each cover.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: There's two patterns to the series, one after the other:
    • Each of the first seven Episodes' covers have one player and their respective game character presented back-to-back on the cover. The player character pairs by book are: Helen-Gwenevrael, Shelby-Selvi, Natalie-Isabel, Claire-Cassandrella, Tim-Dell, Cynthia-Flora, and Katelyn-Bianca.
    • From the eighth Episode on, each cover features a new game character partnered with the game character from the first pattern. The eighth and ninth books are: Gwenevrael paired with Ouragonea, and Selvi paired with Sally Slickskin.
  • Warrior Cats: Each book has a different cat featured on the cover, which may either be one of the protagonists, or a side character that's particularly important to that book. A few characters repeat, but it's not very frequent considering that there's over 100 works in the series. Even the reprinted covers occasionally feature a different cat than the original version: notably the first series originally featured only the protagonist Fireheart, while the 2015 reprinted covers of the first arc also featured the major supporting characters Tigerclaw, Graystripe, Yellowfang, and Bluestar.
  • Wings of Fire: Each book depicts a different dragon on the cover. That dragon is the point-of-view character for that particular book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The complete DVD box set of Friends ignores seasons and divides all the episodes into 6 smaller boxes, each holding multiple discs. Episodes 1-43 have Monica on the cover, episodes 44-79 have Chandler, episodes 80-121 have Rachel, episodes 122-164 have Ross, episodes 165-206 have Phoebe, and episodes 207-236 have Joey.
  • The DVD releases of The Muppet Show did this, with Season 1 being a picture of Kermit's torso, 2 being Miss Piggy, and 3 being Fozzie Bear. Season 4 would have followed the trend and been Gonzo, but it went unreleased.

    Music 
  • The 11-CD edition of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary soundtrack compilation dedicates each disc to music and sound effects from one of the then-eleven mainline Doctors' eras. Appropriately, the sleeve and label for each disc features a silhouette of the Doctor that it corresponds to.
  • Green Day: Each installment of the Divided for Publication triple album ¡Uno!,¡Dos!,¡Tré! features a different member of the trio with their eyes crossed out.
  • When the members of Kiss decided to record solo albums in 1978, it was arranged to have all four albums released on the same day (September 18, 1978), with each of the four covers featuring a solo illustration of its respective band member.
  • Queen: The 2021 cassette reissue of the band's first Greatest Hits Album featured five Alternate Album Covers: one depicting the group photo from the original release, and four that each depict a different member of the band.

    Video Games 
  • Escape from Monkey Island: The label of disc 1 has a render of Guybrush, while disc 2 has a render of Elaine.
  • The Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII is split between three discs, all of which have a different character on them. The first has Lightning, the second is Snow and the third disc is Serah.
  • The original release of Final Fantasy VIII did this as well. Disc 1 had an image of Squall on it, Disc 2 had Rinoa, Disc 3 had Seifer, and Disc 4 had Laguna. The in-game disc change prompts also usually followed this trope, usually showing an image of a single character standing in front of an abstract background; Squall for the "change to Disc 2" prompt, Rinoa for "change to disc 3", and Seifer for "change to disc 4". The "change to disc 1" image (seen if you try to start a new game or load a disc 1 save file with any other disc inserted) breaks the trend by showing Kiros and Ward alongside Laguna, as well as having a more detailed background (specifically, the interior of the Centra Excavation Site) and by having the trio striking an action pose with their weapons drawn.
  • The Legend of Dragoon is another multi-disc game that has an image of a different character on the front of each disc; Dart for Disc 1, Rose for Disc 2, Shana for Disc 3, and Lavitz for Disc 4.
  • Resident Evil 2 has Leon's model on disc 1 while Claire's model is on disc 2., and the order you play the discs determines which routes you play. Playing disc 1 first plays Leon's A route and Claire's B route while playing disc 2 first plays Claire's A route and Leon's B route.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: The DVD release of each season has a different character on the cover.
  • Futurama: The 2012 rereleases of Volumes 1-4 and the original releases of Volumes 5-8 feature a different cast member on the cover. For instance, Volume 1 has Fry, Volume 2 has Morbo, Volume 3 has Professor Farnsworth, Volume 4 features Amy Wong, Volume 5 features Bender, Volume 6 features Leela, Volume 7 features Zoidberg, and Volume 8 Hypnotoad.
  • Rugrats (1991): The Amazon.com on demand DVD box sets had a different character on the cover for each season it had. Season 1 had Tommy Pickles, Season 2 had Chuckie Finster, Season 3 had Angelica Pickles, Season 4 had Susie Carmichael, Season 5 had Dil Pickles (which is particularly odd since he was introduced in the first movie, just after the fifth season and before the sixth), Season 6 had Lil DeVille, Season 7 had Phil DeVille, Season 8 had Kimi Watanabe-Finster, and Season 9 had Reptar. The Paramount re-issues of the first four seasons retain the designs with Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica, and Susie.
  • The Simpsons has a different character on the iTunes cover of each season, as well as the DVD releases of Seasons 11 to 19 (with Seasons 6 to 10 being an ensemble picture with the same character from the iTunes cover showing up at the front.) And they are... 
  • Every season of Teen Titans released on DVD featured one of the five team members.

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