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Satellite Character

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21: Could you sign this, boss? It's for 24, he got knifed by the Moppets.
The Monarch: Which one is 24 again?
21: What?! You're kidding, right? Let me give a hint — you know how every time you talk to me, there's usually another guy next to me? That's 24.
The Venture Bros., "Home is Where the Hate Is"

A character whose motivations and overall personality essentially revolve around their interaction with another, possibly more interesting, character with whom they really should be on an equal standing. Without this interaction, they would otherwise be pretty bland.

Sometimes a series will remove that "central" person from the equation somehow, and the Satellite Character has to establish their own motives. This is a common way to make a Battle Butler more interesting. On the other hand, a Spin-Off can fail entirely if the star is a Satellite Character whose character can't support their own stories.

Contributing to their poor image in some circles, badly-written Magical Girlfriends become Satellite Characters if not outright Satellite Love Interests with disturbing frequency.

Note that not all satellite characters are friendly, though... Some satellites are the exact opposite, full of all-consuming jealousy, rage, bitterness, vengefulness, or outright hatred, orbiting until the time is right to crash violently into the character they circle. This is less common, though.

Likely to count if the character is the Token Black Friend, Gay Best Friend, Hollywood Homely, Uncool Redhead, or even the character's own parent.

Contrast The Friends Who Never Hang, where a character has developed interaction with a much larger number of characters except for one or two significant exceptions. Similar to Flat Character, in that their characterization/role in the story revolves around one thing, in this case being another character. The romantic-only variant of this trope is Satellite Love Interest and familial-only variant is Satellite Family Member.

Has nothing to do with a story where the character in question is a living Satellite, nor a character that happened to be punched or rocketed into orbit.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bulat in Akame ga Kill!, despite his established backstory, his Imperial Arm Incursio, and his status as one of the strongest fighters in Night Raid; is pretty much defined entirely by his relationship and interactions with Tatsumi before he dies early in the story, the second member of Night Raid to do so after Sheele's death established Anyone Can Die. Aside from constantly hitting on Tatsumi to the point of Running Gag, he also acts as a Big Brother Mentor to him, and even hands him Incursio before succumbing to death via Liver's poison. In addition, Bulat is rarely ever shown interacting with other Night Raid members despite being a senior member, and only does so if Tatsumi is involved somehow. Finally, unlike Sheele, who has a Happy Flashback of her time with Night Raid right before her death, Bulat never experiences anything like that. His final thoughts are only on Tatsumi, no one else. Take Tatsumi out of the equation, he's reduced to a background character who happens to be a really strong (gay) guy.
  • Zigzagged by Ayano of Asteroid in Love. For a whole 20 chapters since her introduction, she acts as one towards Sayuri, being members of the Newspaper Club. It is until Chapter 39 when she is given some spotlight, when her backstory is more fleshed out.
  • Mikasa Ackerman in Attack on Titan. It's noted in-series that she really can't function very well without Eren.
  • Kaori of Azumanga Daioh exists mainly to be in the closet about expressing her feelings towards Sakaki.
    • And Chihiro has even less to call her own than Kaori, being defined almost entirely as part of a pair with Kaori herself. Kaori at least is defined around Sakaki, Chihiro, and Kimura.
  • Ben-To: Being a Clingy Jealous Girl for Hana is Ume's defining character trait and she doesn't contribute anything to the series other than physically abusing Satou out of jealousy.
  • Yuno from Black Clover suffers from this in the beginning despite being a main character due to being in a different squad, only interacting with and thinking of Asta. As time passes, his relationships with other characters such as his squadmates is seen more and his origins become important.
  • Bleach: Tatsuki, Keigo and Mizuiro are defined by their role in the story as the classmates and friends of the story's main True Companions (Ichigo, Sado and Orihime and, later, Ishida). Tatsuki is additionally the friend of Orihime and Keigo's role expands a little to encompass Ikkaku and Yumichika. However, the interactions are still based on, and therefore revolve around, what is happening in Ichigo's life at that time. Word of God states that they were supposed to have more prominent roles in the story, but they inevitably got pushed to the sidelines after the Shinigami and later the arrancar were introduced.
    • Choujirou Sasakibe, lieutenant of the 1st division (the division of the captain-commander himself). He stays in the background of the story, barely receiving any prominence or dialogue and only ever heading into battle twice, being defeated both times. Justified in universe as it's revealed he made a vow to never become a captain, (he possesses Bankai) never fight and to only serve Yamamoto rather than serving the Gotei 13 as a whole. In the end, the most important role he has in the story is to become the first good guy to die in the Final Arc, thereby cementing both the power and attitude of the villains as well as putting the captain-commander on the backfoot immediately via the emotional fallout of Sasakibe's death.
    • Though not as bad as the above, as she does get to interact with the other lieutenants and the members of the Women's Shinigami Association in the omakes, Nanao Ise is largely defined by being Kyoraku's no-nonsense Girl Friday and she has no notable relationships with anybody else in the series. She doesn't even take part in any major fights on her own until the Quincy arc, though this does get an explanation in-canon — after what happened to his last lieutenant, Kyoraku just can't bear having Nanao on the frontlines. Plus, she's his niece and he promised to protect her.
  • In Bloom Into You, the School Play is the story of a high school girl with amnesia. The rest of the cast- her nurse, her schoolmate, her younger half-brother and her girlfriend — are mostly defined by their relationships with her, and used to explore various facets of her personality. This is somewhat justified, since the play is largely a character study about the girl in question.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Zigzagged with Taro Misaki. Outside the field, he has his own personal character arc and even has a few chapters where he is the main protagonist. On the field, however, he serves mostly as Tsubasa's personal support, and it is noted during the World Youth that this has become a weakness and he needs to step up and develop his own individual playing style. Golden-23 has him slowly grow out of this trope where he starts to develop his leadership skills, as Tsubasa is absent from the Japanese team during the qualification for the Madrid Olympics.
  • Castle Town Dandelion has a Rotating Arcs / A Day in the Limelight. As a result, many characters are only associated with one of the 9 Sakurada siblings:
    • Aoi has her Childhood Friends Uzuki, Nanao and Shizuru. The latter three are often seen as Aoi-sama's attendents, which annoys Aoi to no end.
    • Shuu has his Love Interest, Hana. Although in Hana's case it is eventually averted as she effectively became part of the Sakurada family as Shuu's fiancee.
    • Akane has her Childhood Friend Karen and the vice-class rep Fukushina, which is also secretly the president of her Instant Fan Club.
    • Hikari has Matsuoka, her manager and producer, and Sacchan, a fellow Idol Singer.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Mary Magdalene's character mostly revolves around her interactions with Chrono. However, she's a creepier version than what's typical, particularly in the manga version (and in fact seems to have been meant to be slightly disturbing) — she's a seer that is so overwhelmed by the visions she has that she can't remember her own childhood or even her real name. There's only one piece of herself she clings onto — a dream she's had since she was a child of Chrono being the one to take her life. When she meets him, she willingly allows him to take her away from the safety of the religious order that guarded her because she wanted to get to know him before he killed her.
  • Rivalz Cardemonde from Code Geass is Lelouch's friend, member of the Ashford Student Council, and not much else beyond that. He doesn't really have a stake in the central conflict, relegating him to the status of background character, if that. Shirley, Milly and Kallen have more plot relevance than he does. Even Nina, who may as well have been invisible for the first eleven (no pun intended) episodes, has a bigger stake in the plot...though saying fan reaction to that has been "less than kind" would be a massive understatement.
    • Rivalz lampshades his status in the penultimate episode with Milly, lamenting that his friends are out there fighting for the fate of the world while he sits on his duff doing nothing but feeling sorry for himself. He actually is appreciated by some small measure of the fanbase for being quite attuned to his status as one. And several more fans find him cute or fun.
    • Even though she sets up plot-important gatherings and events at her school, Milly doesn't do much at all after she graduates from Ashford Academy.
    • A straighter example would be Kanon. We really don't know anything about him besides the fact that he's Schneizel's #2 (or something) and...that's really it. There's nothing else really notable about him and he never really does anything important.
  • The fact that Riff from Count Cain exists totally to serve his master becomes a plot point eventually. Especially when he turns out to be a brainwashed zombie planted by the lead's evil father to set up trauma when Alexis pushes the switch and Cain is betrayed by the person he trusts most. Of course, their relationship is explored fairly extensively, making Riff a possible subversion.
  • Cromartie High School lampshades this with "You", the toady of the requisite snobby rich guy. Not even his boss knows his name, and the character has made numerous attempts to say it. Of course, all of them are interrupted by myriad events, from spilling juice to a meteor hitting the school.
  • The main female lead of Daltanious, Sanae Shiratori, is this. She orbits around Kento and Danji, and her most significant action in the story is making sure they don't kill themselves (or each other) with their recklessness. Any time the spotlight is on her, it's to emphasize that she enjoys doing stereotypically feminine things, such as cooking and cleaning, for the Adalus base.
  • Matt in Death Note is an orphan from Wammy's House who was stated to have been created for Mello, but all we know about Matt apart from his loyalty to him is that he likes video games and cigarettes, he's messy and lazy, and is gunned down while trying to get away from Takada's bodyguards.
    • Even the author admitted that Matt was the hardest character to write since he had "no idea what kind of a person he was."
  • The various Digimon series tend fall into this with the partner Digimon.
    • Sometimes (like in Digimon Tamers and Digimon Ghost Game) they're well-developed and have actual independent characterization and importance, whereas other times (like in Digimon Data Squad and most other anime in the franchise) they simply don't. Probably the most extreme example is MailBirdramon in Digimon Fusion; he has practically zero characterization and a handful of lines early in the series, and seems to exist solely to be a Mecha Expansion Pack for the much more fleshed-out Greymon, to the point that when they're merged into MetalGreymon/ZekeGreymon, said merger is almost always treated as just Greymon.
    • As a whole, the Mon genre is often very guilty of this regarding their practically non-existent Character Focus of the mons in question. Sometimes this was due to them being not intelligent enough for any character development to happen, but other times they felt like borderline walking advertisements.
  • D.N.Angel has that one guy who is apparently a friend of Daisuke and Saehara, meaning Daisuke will sometimes ignore Saehara's fits to ask him what's happened, instead. A lot of googling will finally reveal his name as Sekimoto Masahiro; finding it mentioned in the manga itself is extremely hard. But he is fairly omnipresent, despite only speaking now and then to bemoan Saehara's antics. There are also the two class representatives; the only thing known about them is their names and relationship — the guy has a crush on the girl, who is oblivious and thus unintentionally cruel to him.
  • Chiaotzu from Dragon Ball Z was occasionally shown in promotional art alongside the rest of the Z-Fighters, as if he was an important character with his own desires and conflicts. This couldn't be further from the truth (even in the original Dragon Ball!), as Chiaotzu only exists to be Tien Shinhan's best friend, is barely ever seen speaking to any other Z-Fighters and has no character traits other than "admiring Tien". Eventually, his appearances become rarer and rarer, and whenever he's seen, he's literally floating around Tien.
    • Villain example: Nappa exists mainly as The Brute to his boss Vegeta, having no real personality or characterization beyond being a mean bastard who likes smashing the Z-warriors into the ground.
    • Puar is mainly defined by being Yamcha's best friend and having the ability to shape shift. He (or she if you watch the English dub) barely talks to anyone individually outside of Yamcha and, to a lesser extent, Oolong, resulting in having little to no chemistry with the other characters. Due to his decreased screen time and relevance and his shape shifting powers becoming an Informed Ability during the shift from Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Z, Puar's only defining characteristic left was being Yamcha's friend.
    • Turtle, a Talking Animal, exists mainly to be a Servile Snarker to Roshi's Dirty Old Man attitude and high jinks and has few interactions with anyone else. Once Roshi becomes Demoted to Extra, so does he.
  • Discussed in Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, with the added visual gag of depicting the sidekick character as a literal satellite orbiting The Protagonist.
  • In Fairy Tail, Droy and Jet are defined entirely by being Levy's bodyguards/fanboys and probably being very weak. Some of the less important minion characters like Shou are little different, but at least have their own personalities.
  • Chigusa Hanamura from Free!. As a minor character, all that's known about her is that she's a good friend of Gou and Makoto compliments her looks in one episode.
    • Also, Nitori doesn't really serve any purpose other than to be Rin's roommate, look up to Rin, and worry about Rin. However, the Season 1 ending montage that shows him hanging out with the others as well might signify that the next season will change this, and he's fairly popular in his own right even without that.
  • Sakura Kakei, the Team Mom of Get Backers, is largely defined by her relationship with Makubex, and rarely appears without him. And he's a minor supporting character himself (a Non-Action Guy unable to exist outside of Mugenjou).
  • Yukari Akiyama of Girls und Panzer is a tank otaku whose primary defining characteristic is being an ardent fan of the protagonist, Miho Nishizumi.
  • No one knows what's up with Emiri Kimidori from Haruhi Suzumiya. The only things she ever does is have "silent conversations" with Yuki and play the nice girl for other people.
    • Also Kyon's Other Friend (Kunikida, according to The Other Wiki), at least in the anime series, who is mostly characterized as "That guy who hangs out with Kyon and Taniguchi" (to the point that in the novels he says he mostly hangs out with Taniguchi so he will have some in-universe characterization). Taniguchi is a lesser example, being Kyon's Only Sane Friend.
  • Those two boys from Higurashi: When They Cry who fawn over Rika and Satoko, Okamura and Tomita, respectively.
  • Rin from Inuyasha is largely defined by her interactions with Sesshomaru.
  • Isabelle of Paris: Jean. All of his appearances exist around Isabelle and his unrequited love for her, until the second arc where he shows he's actually a Badass Normal in spite of his crybaby exterior. He also plays a role in helping Isabelle during the mass slaughter of civilians, at the cost of his own life.
  • Mirin and Subaru from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War pretty much exclusively exist to be Hayasaka's Gyaru friends. The closest they get to developing as characters beyond that is a single chapter in the spin-off implying that Mirin has an offscreen friendship with Erika.
  • Nodoka Manabe of K-On!. Despite being a major supporting character who is given almost as much screentime as the five main girls, most of her character can be condensed down to being Yui's childhood friend and nothing else.
  • Lady!!: Dorothy and Lara. Everything they do is hinged around Lynn and her dreams of winning the Lady's Crest, amongst slice-of-life shenanigans.
  • Hannah and Barbara from Little Witch Academia are basically there to be lackeys/fangirls for Diana and are the most active in bullying Akko.
  • Mitsune "Kitsune" Konno's role in Love Hina mostly boils down to being The Tease and helping Keitaro understand Naru better, since she's been Naru's best friend since middle school and frequently provides Keitaro with exposition regarding that, particularly Naru's crush on Seta. Sometime she plays the oldest voice of reason if Haruka isn't present, but that's about it. She is one of the only Hinata Inn girls who doesn't get a subplot of her own — even Mutsumi and Sarah get more storylines than her. Even the author regrets how underused Kitsune was.
  • Ayano from Lucky Star is largely characterized as "that one girl who hangs out with Kagami and Misao". Aside from being the only one of the main cast with an (offscreen) boyfriend, there's very little to her character beyond that.
  • Sette of Lyrical Nanoha, whose entire personality revolved around her loyalty to her older sister Tre. This led to her becoming the only one of the younger Numbers to be imprisoned along with Jail and the older Numbers.
  • Medaka Box: Despite being the male lead, much of Zenkichi Hitoyoshi's role gets boiled down to being the titular character's loyal childhood friend.
  • Michal, Lucia's love rival from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, revolves almost completely around Kaito until she becomes Michel's mana battery. In fact, she does this intentionally, thinking that being completely devoted to Kaito in every way will help her steal him from Lucia before he gets his memory back, while her brother Rihito worries about her well-being for it.
  • Saikawa from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid revolves almost completely around her best friend and crush Kanna. Justified since it's established that Kanna is her Only Friend and the rest of the recurring cast are adults (except for Shouta, but they never really interact).
  • Deconstructed in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans with the protagonist Mikazuki Augus. Mikazuki is largely defined by his relationship with the Deuteragonist Orga Itsuka, to the point where Mikazuki himself views himself as nothing more than a tool to exercise Orga's will. Several other characters note just how unsettling and self-destructive this is, and urge him to start thinking about himself and what he wants to do with his life. His response is always the same: "I'll just do what Orga tells me to do."
    • In the second season, we got Hush Middy, Tekkadan's new recruit. The earlier episodes portray as a potential rival to Mikazuki and has a backstory on how he joined Tekkadan in the first place. Later on, he decided to become Mikazuki's understudy, much to Mika's chagrin, and carries him all around after he got paralyzed. Then on the second to the last episode, he got killed off lamenting that he couldn't catch up with Mika. What worse is that in the epilogue, his name is not even in the Tekkadan memorial.
  • An In-Universe example can be seen in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun when Nozaki and Mikoshiba play a dating sim together. The character they get invested in is Tomoda, the friend of the protagonist, but he never really interacts with anyone but the protagonist so they decide he must be gay and trying to put the protagonist's feelings ahead of his own.
  • Katsuki Bakugo of My Hero Academia is a more complex example of the angry/jealous variant despite being a main character. Heck, his entire development theme revolves around Midoriya in one way or another.
  • Naruto:
    • Shizune is this to Tsunade. Downplayed in that it's more of an Overshadowed by Awesome thing — while she barely has a Backstory (she's the niece of Tsunade's ex-fiancé) or much development, at the very least she's enjoyable to watch on her own.
    • Konan is one as well, as we don't know anything about her other than she uses paper as a weapon, likes to do origami, and that she followed Yahiko and Nagato around, fighting for the same goal as them. It pretty much becomes confirmed around Chapter 449 when she calmly tells Naruto that since Nagato believed in him, she'll also believe in him. Without showing any emotion whatsoever towards the person who made her friend kill himself.
      • Nagato himself was one to Yahiko in the backstory. For all that he's supposedly prohpecied to change the world, he spends all his time orbiting Yahiko, and tells Jiraiya that all he really wants to do is protect Yahiko and Konan. After they form the Akatsuki, Nagato becomes Yahiko's Lancer and/or Dragon, dedicating himself to ensuring his friend's dream comes true. When Yahiko dies, and Nagato loses a planet around he snaps and becomes Pain...and is still trying to fulfill Yahiko's dream of a peaceful world, not so much because he cares, as because it was Yahiko's. Even after all this time, he's still chasing his friend's ghost.
    • Yamato was introduced into the series as being the substitute leader after Kakashi went out of commission. He was in the Anbu, was kidnapped and experimented on as an infant by Orochimaru, and is essentially the genetic clone of the most powerful shinobi who ever existed. On paper that sounds like one of the most interesting characters of the series. In actual practice? All Yamato has done in the series is help Kakashi train Naruto and play the straight man to Naruto and Killer B's antics.
    • Despite being a main character, Sakura qualifies. She starts the series as Sasuke's Fangirl and Naruto's object of affection and the most meaningful moments in her Character Development (outside of her friendship with Ino and asking Tsunade to train her) are...related only to the boys.
    • Out of all the Konoha 12, Tenten has gotten the least amount of development. She has no last name and practically all of the development she ever gets is usually in Filler episodes in the anime. It seems as if she is just there to fill in the usual "two boys, one girl" most ninja squads tend to have and also display a cool fighting style.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has a few. Understandable in a series with many characters that some may be less noticeable than others, such as Yue's magic school class-mates or some of the mage teachers to the headmaster or each other.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Nagisa Kaworu is this, as he exists only to interact with Shinji and has little (if any) interaction with other characters. However, due to being the only person to ever unconditionally and openly loves Shinji, as well as having an intense but tragic relationship with him, Kaworu becomes massively popular with the fandom.
  • Lt. Zakki Bronco in Overman King Gainer has little else in the way of characterization than being Asuham Boone's sidekick.
  • Homura Akemi in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Her entire life revolves around Madoka. She has no past outside of being a Shrinking Violet who devoted her life to saving Madoka, and not a thing is said of her family or life prior to meeting Madoka.
    • Kyousuke Kamijou is a rare male-to-female example. His only purpose in the story is for Sayaka to wish to heal him in the hopes of winning him over, and his character can be summed up as "sad because disabled in accident" and "good with violin." He takes no actions of his own initiative in the story, and is mostly there as something for Sayaka to covet. He doesn't even make an effort to know her, which ends up factoring into Sayaka's eventual fate. Consequently, he's often considered the least popular character in the series.
    • Kirika Kure, of Puella Magi Oriko Magica, is an enforced example; her wish modified her personality to be a match for love interest Oriko Mikuni. At one point, she memorizes the names of a number of flowers to impress Oriko, but when Oriko informs her that it was her father who liked flowers, she deliberately erases the memory.
  • Raideen: Mari Sakurano was this at first. Her backstory and characterization centers initially around Akira, mainly that she manages his soccer team and drives a similar vehicle, as well as her terrible Clingy Jealous Girl tendencies. However, she gets an arc of her own when she joins the Copelander Corps, averting Satellite Love Interest.
  • In Sailor Moon, the original author admitted Michiru was so unlike her she was difficult to write for, a trait carried over to the original anime. While her musical career is well-documented and she does occasionally interact with other people from time to time, the otherwise cryptic girl is largely defined by her interactions with Haruka, whom she usually appears alongside. Even an episode that shows how the two met is told from Haruka's perspective and doesn't explain that much of her life before Haruka meets her. In contrast, the fans liked Haruka's personality enough she got her own mini-arc and Back Story episode. Even so, Haruka only rarely appears in the series without Michiru (despite being better defined as a character) and most fans of one character are by default fans of the other.
  • In Saint Beast, Luca is quiet and frequently overlooked by other characters, and even lampshades it by saying he is the shadow to Judas' light. However, he is the most important person to Judas and Rey, both of whom have more dominant personalities, and this is mainly how he gets developed.
  • Seven Mortal Sins has two minor characters who fit this trope. Mina, who has no role in the plot beyond being Maria's friend, and Gnosis, who is characterized as Belial's loyal servant that doubles as her armor and nothing else.
  • Gopher from Soul Eater lives to please his master, Noah. He is, however, not very competent and very jealous.
    • There's also Jacqueline, the weapon partner of the Kim, whose entire character is defined solely by her relationship with her meister and is rarely, if ever, in a scene without her. In the spin off, Soul Eater Not, she's allowed to flesh out a little bit more outside of being Kim's partner but overall her motivations and interests seem to always revolve around Kim.
    • Also in Soul Eater Not!, there is Clay Sizemore who is the weapon partner to Akane. Out of all his appearances in the series, he's not with Akane in only one of them, and even then what little is known about him is based entirely on his interactions with his partner.
  • Shinobu from Sweetness & Lightning exists only to be Kotori's friend and be an extra body in the cooking scenes.
    • Yagi is the Spear Counterpart of Shinobu, being largely defined around being longtime friends with Kouhei. He's well aware of this trope, however, and he and Shinobu even get Ship Tease because of how similar their in-story roles are.
    • Kotori has another friend, Chiyo, who is an even more extreme version of this, having even less screentime and agency than Shinobu does.
    • Mikio exists largely to be in denial about his feelings for Tsumugi.
  • Sakuya in Tenchi In Tokyo, who was also a Magical Girlfriend. This was, however, deliberately built up for The Reveal.
  • The non-existent Tsukihime anime did this to Akiha. She's Shiki's concerned sister, and... uh... Though this is somewhat remedied in the last few episodes, where she's still a borderline non-character, but is at least a borderline non-character with a backstory, an opinion on a couple of the other characters, and the illusion of being relevant to the plot.
  • While other characters show Hidden Depths eventually, Momoko from Wandering Son never really goes farther than "That girl who clings to Chizuru constantly".
  • Asuka in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX grew to serve less and less purpose over the course of the series outside her interest in the protagonist and The Rival's interest in her.
    • Not to mention Yubel, one of the aforementioned rare villainous examples. They were the Big Bad of the third season whose only defining trait is their obsessive love for Judai and the depraved lengths they are willing to go for the sake of that love. Take away Judai, and you have nothing left.
    • The standout example from this series would have to be Echo; she has literally no characterization outside her devotion to Amon, to the point that when Amon decides to sacrifice her to release Exodia, she obliges without hesitation.
    • Johan. Even though he's a downplayed example as he has a large role in the plot and interacts with many characters, the most important aspect of his characterization is still his closeness with Judai.
  • Aki Izayoi from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, post-Heel–Face Turn, becomes totally devoted to Yusei to the point that the devotion eclipses all of ther other traits.
  • Among the Bracelet Girls in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, the main heroine Yuzu and her Fusion Dimension counterpart Serena get decent development, but the other two girls Rin and Ruri spend most of the series in captivity and are defined by their relationship with the people trying to save them; the former's childhood friend Yugo and the latter's older brother Shun Kurosaki and his friend Yuto who she started dating. Ruri suffers slightly less from this trope, as flashbacks show other facets of her character, like her admiration of the protagonist Yuya's father and his entertainment dueling, her friendship with a minor character (Sayaka), and implications that she was getting fed up with the aforementioned Knight Templar Big Brother Kurosaki controlling who she's around. Rin has no meaningful interaction with anyone besides Yugo, which becomes even more evident when she's the only one of the four who has no connection with any of the Lancers who are trying to save them all. It also doesn't help that Yugo and Rin have no friends besides each other, whereas Yuya & Yuzu and Yuto & Ruri have friends, while Yuri & Serena have comrades they know even if they aren't close to them. By the final season, Yuzu herself became little more than "the girl Yuya's trying to save" once the antagonists keep kidnapping her and depriving her of more meaningful moments.

    Comic Books 
  • Panacea from Asterix. The character appears only to exist so Obelix can have a crush on somebody. She rarely ever had lines that weren't responding to other characters. Most of the time she just "stands there and looks pretty". She also doesn't have any comical traits to make her stand out from the rest of the cast.

    Fan Works 
  • Hermione fears becoming this in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.
  • Bridge to Terabithia 2: The Last Time: An LDD-fanfic some 50 chapters long. Due to the inclusion of over a dozen new characters throughout the story (since it's been years after the original story ended and the follow-up is now in a high-school setting), some of them ends up being sidelined, the most glaring example being Jake Elliots, introduced two-thirds into the storyline. He is depicted as Jess Aarons' new best friend (since Leslie has been Promoted to Love Interest by that point) and almost all his interactions involves hanging out with Jess or Leslie, or occasionally providing advice to Jess when a Love Triangle subplot pops up between Jess, Leslie, and their new mutual friend Amelia. The most characterization Jake has in the story is that he's a music student who is a jock, Nice Guy and The Casanova having his own (off-screen, unnamed) girlfriend, and his friendship with Jess feels more like an Informed Attribute. Although in the Epilogue Jake turns out to be more important than it seems, considering Jess and Leslie named their son Jake, after their friend with the same name, and actually allows Jake Sr. to be godfather to their children.
  • Willow, B'loody Mary Smith, Ron, and Ginny in My Immortal. Willow does little except be Ebony's best friend, B'loody Mary is slightly more developed but her sole purpose is to agree with Ebony's goffikness, and Ron and Ginny have no characters at all, except to be concerned with Ebony. It makes you wonder why the author went to the trouble to concoct new names and backgrounds for them, and then ditch them from the plot. The guys in Tom Satan Bombadil's gang seem to stand out of their own right, though their lives seem to revolve round their band and goffik stuff. To give Tara Gilesbie credit, this is true to life. Teenage girls tend to be satellite to the popular chick more than guys do, even when the popular chick (Ebony) is evidently being a bitch.
  • Deconstructed in You Got HaruhiRolled!. Emiri's canonical exemplar of this trope is exaggerated to the point where Haruhi takes it as license to be rude to her for no reason. Emiri, depressed at having no friendsnote  becomes emo. This sets in motion a chain of events where Kyon and some other characters try to get Emiri back to normal. They succeed, only for Emiri to join the Anti-SOS Brigade because they were nice to her, thus giving them enough strength to destroy the SOS Brigade.
  • In The Ariana Black Series, Harry and the others are reduced to pretty much having nothing to do but orbit around Ariana until they graduate, and even then they keep popping back to visit her all the time even though they should have jobs and, you know, lives.
    • Ariana also has her own personal rival, Maria Higgins, who has an obsessive hatred over Ariana and exists purely to make Ariana throw tantrums by picking on her — which she does by making totally legitimate criticisms of Ariana's character (relying on her friends to fight for her, it's wrong for her to be dating a teacher (Neville), abusing her 'empath' powers, etc), which the author seems hilariously oblivious to.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Tabby, Frankie and Lourdes increasingly end up as this to Lily in The Craft: Legacy. We don't find out much, if anything, about their backgrounds and lives outside of their friendship with Lily, and most of their screentime serves to advance Lily's character and story arc in some way (such as introducing her to witchcraft, helping her cast spells, hanging around with her, causing her angst via a Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure, and turning up in the climax to help her fight the baddie).
  • Billy and Dan of Fugitive Alien, per the page quote from the MST3k version.
  • Dr. Vivienne Graham in Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). She is Number Two to Dr. Serizawa, is almost never seen apart from him, and the two have much of the same personality save that Graham lacks Serizawa's Hiroshima backstory.
  • Do-won "The Good" of The Good, The Bad, The Weird has little characterisation outside of his interactions with Tae-goo.
  • The Circus Performers of The Greatest Showman mostly exist to be background dancers to P.T. during musical numbers, be in the background prepping for the circus, or talk to P.T. and Phillip about how they're oppressed by society. The only time they get any focus at all is during This is Me and the scene where the carnival breaks down yet, even with those scenes in mind, you never really get a sense of what their personalities are like or who they are other as people other than they look funny and people hate them for looking funny. Even Anne, who gets her own romantic subplot, doesn't have much characterization other than "she's black and is depressed that people judge her for it". We don't even find out WHY she falls in love with Phillip in the first place!
  • Watch Major Payne closely and you'll notice two of the ROTC boys who are only ever just... there. They get no lines, they never get spoken to, they get no arc, they get no personalities, and they only ever get to go along with the schemes of the other boys. The younger of the two does get a name (Leland) when the titular Major is relocating the boys to "The House of Payne", but the other is nameless and credited as "Cadet". Who are they and why are they even in the movie? Nobody knows...
  • Gretchen from Mean Girls, toady in chief to Regina, who is possibly a Deconstruction in that she may actually be a more developed character than Regina herself; despite being beautiful and rich she is such an insecure mess that she is willing to put up with any amount of crap just to follow Regina (seething bitterly all the while). At the end of the film it is revealed that she actually learns Korean just so she can join the new top clique.
  • In the Police Academy series, Sweetchuck is a store owner tormented by thief Zed in the second movie, and in the third and fourth he joins the police force, only to learn Zed has gone in too and become his roommate. Tellingly, when Zed was cut out of the fifth movie, Sweetchuck was dropped too because his role is basically to be abused by Zed.
  • Out of all the Seven Samurai, Shichiroji gets the least to do.
  • Chewbacca becomes this in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While his development in the original trilogy didn't go much further than Han's friend and sidekick, it becomes especially noticeable in Han's absence where he doesn't really have much to do other than fly the Falcon and fool around with Porgs.
  • The Warriors Three in the Thor films don't really have much in the way of development beyond Thor's closest friends and allies. They're given less and less importance with each sequel.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • In the original trilogy, we know very little about Mystique as an individual outside of her Undying Loyalty to Magneto.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Despite receiving a fair amount of screentime, Hank McCoy doesn't undergo any proper character development, as his existence completely revolves around Charles Xavier.

  • Achates in The Aeneid is an Older Than Feudalism example. As written, he is Aeneas' close battle-brother and companion (perpetually described as "the faithful Achates"), but he has barely any dialogue or plot-relevant actions.
  • Animorphs has Rachel's sisters, Jordan and Sara, who rarely interact with anyone other than her and are scarcely mentioned outside of Rachel's points-of-view until the final arc.
  • In Bubble World, for people who have trouble making friends, an Insta-Friend can be programmed in to give them someone to connect to.
  • The narrator of The Fall of the House of Usher doesn't have much of a personality, just an Only Sane Man reacting to Roderick's actions.
  • Noah Caldwell from the Goosebumps book "The Haunted Mask" is Carly Beth's annoying little brother who likes to scare her, takes advantage of his sister's easy-to-scare nature and wants everything Carly Beth owns (including her duck costume and her mask)... That's about all there is to Noah.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, for the first six books, are Draco Malfoy's two dumb cronies. And...that's it. Despite their frequent mentions throughout the series, neither one of them even gets a single line of dialogue until Deathly Hallows, when Crabbe finally gets some characterization — he's not very nice, and he dies within pages of his first line. This all makes sense, though; for the first six books, Crabbe and Goyle were intimidated by Draco (and his father) and were perfectly willing to be little more than Draco's cronies, but when the Malfoy family falls out of favor with the Ministry of Magic, the Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, Crabbe and Goyle abandon their leader. Under the Carrows, Crabbe and Goyle unleash their sadistic natures. (Yeah, Goyle's still pretty much just Crabbe's sidekick, but at least one of them took the initiative.)
    • Also, Wormtail. He basically finds the most influential person he has access to and sucks up like nobody's business. He lived as someone's pet for years — literally — just so he could avoid braving the world on his own under the SLIGHT chance that someone might have discovered his incredibly well-concealed Death Eater crimes. One wonders how he got into Gryffindor in the first place.
  • Colonel Moran, Professor Moriarty's Watson in The Hound of the D'Urbervilles is essentially this to Professor Moriarty, despite being quite engaging by himself. Two characters, the fake publisher who printed the book which is supposed to Moran's memoirs and Moran himself note that if Moran is remembered (the modern publisher calls him a minor Victorian), it is because of his association with the Professor. This is not strictly, because Moran gets more characterization than Moriarty, but Moriarty, like Holmes is a bigger deal, in and out of universe. Moran actually grows resentful of this over time.
  • Nora Grey from Hush, Hush. The only reason at all she's involved in the plot of the first book is because of her interactions with Patch. Because Patch loves her, Jules and Dabria want to kill her. If he wasn't interested in her, they wouldn't look twice at her. Not even being in a relationship with Patch is her own doing, because they officially hook up after he declares that they should do so, giving her pretty much no say in the matter.
  • Twilight brings us Bella, who despite being the protagonist, barely manages to stand on her own as character. Then when Edward shows up... well, you know.
    • Ignoring Bella, the majority of her human admirers and friends have no characterization, back-story, or purpose outside of being Bella's long-suffering lackeys. Mike's about the only one with some depth, and even he is pushed to the darkest corners of the book when Edward shows up, only popping back out now and then to be jealous of Edward.
    • Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, Victoria, Esme, and Laurent were all this in Twilight. Rosalie's sole purpose exists to be the bitchy blonde foil to Bella. Emmett and Jasper serve no purpose but to be husbands to Rosalie and Alice respectively, and Esme is only really there to be Carlisle's wife. Victoria and Laurent, meanwhile, are defined through their interactions with James — Laurent's only purpose is to warn the Cullens how powerful James is, and Victoria acts as James's back-up/mate.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign has an unusual example of the main character and the Big Bad being this to each other, simultaneously. Kyousuke is driven to save anyone in need because of his perceived failure to control the White Queen, causing her to kill many people. His main goal in life is to find some way of permanently destroying her. Conversely, the White Queen wants nothing more than for Kyousuke to love her again, and is involved in every story arc solely for this reason.
  • In the Wayside School books, Paul's entire character revolves around his obsession with pulling his classmate Leslie's pigtails. Leslie has slightly more development than Paul, though not by much.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Had an episode featuring the notorious (and entirely fictional) Utah Johnny Montana, a master duelist and bounty hunter. He was unable to speak due to a bullet wound to the throat, so the man he kept with him at all times said everything for him, fully aware of his intent despite never receiving any cues. When Montana is defeated, he even collapses as though he was the one defeated.
  • Arrowverse had a problem with this for its main shows, particularly in regards to how it handled key characters from the comics mixing in with the show's Canon Foreigner or reinvented additions. Almost without fail, the show would push aside the core members of the original comics' supporting family in favour of pushing characters they created themselves or had loosely based on existing characters from other comics. The result was that when the shows tried to use prominent members of the canon comic cast, they were often pushed to the sideline and eventually written out. Fans of the comics were not amused.
    • Solid examples were Roy Harper and Wally West, who in the comics were the proteges, adopted sons, and successors of the lead characters, Oliver Queen and Barry Allen respectfully. In the shows, they're introduced mostly as supporting characters of other supporting characters (Roy being introduced as the Love Interest of Oliver's sister and Wally introduced as the long lost son of the Joe West), and spent more time interacting with them then the characters they're meant to be the sidekick of. When they finally meet properly and eventually start their Super Hero Origin, the shows had a nasty habit of keeping them Out of Focus, skipping over their development, or putting them out of commission. Fans of the comics complained heavily, especially as the characters were being sidelined in favour of Creator's Pet characters. Eventually both characters got Put on the Bus; while Roy came back a few times and got to be Back for the Finale, Wally briefly joined a different show where he got much more development, but was then written out as his actor was unsatisfied with the character's treatment.
    • Laurel Lance was never very well treated, either. As she was demoted from being a kick-ass Action Girl to a civilian love interest and Designated Damsel, she was out of the main plot focus and instead stuck in Trapped by Mountain Lions stories, similar to Thea (who was also this early on). She eventually got some Character Development and became an Action Girl, but one who was remarkably off the mark from her comic self, and having long since lost her role as the love interest, she didn't even get to be a love interest, either. Eventually the show killed her off, and the fandom never quite forgave the writers for such a huge waste of a character.
    • Jay Garrick and Jesse Quick, despite their prominent roles in the Flash mythos, ultimately got little to do in the show before they stopped appearing. In the comics, Jay was the original Flash and it was him who inspired Barry, but he was Adapted Out of the show in favour of using the newer retconned origin story of Barry's mother being murdered in his youth. When Jay was later introduced, they didn't have much to do with him and eventually he quietly left. Jesse Quick, meanwhile, was retooled by the show into the daughter of the alternate universe counterpart of their former mentor Harrison Wells, rather than be the legacy of two golden age heroes who inherited their powers. Jesse spent most of the show as Harry's daughter and nothing more; any story she got was framed as how it affected him rather than herself (She wants to move out? It's so he can angst about his daughter leaving; She gets hurt? So he can be upset at her pain; She gains superpowers and wants to become a superhero? It's so he can worry about her safety before learning to let go; She starts dating Wally and wants to move in with him? It's so he can be upset his daughter is leaving him, etc), and she similarly stopped appearing after her actress got cast in God Friended Me. In-universe, this was all justified by Jay Garrick and Jesse being from alternate earths, so them showing up for friend stuff wasn't, exactly, something they could justify much, but the fact they weren't in the source materialnote  made this change all the more noticeable.
  • Boston Public: The school coach was billed as a main character in the opening credits, but his entire role seemed to be commenting on other people's plotlines. The Television Without Pity recaps dubbed him "Coach Lamphrey the Plot Parasite."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Oz. Even in spite of being a werewolf, which seems like it would be a potentially interesting backstory, this aspect often times barely got glossed over, and felt like the only real time he got to shine was when he was with Willow. This is one of the reasons Seth Green eventually left the show.
    • His friend Devon was this even more so. Devon was the lead singer of their band, Dingoes Ate My Baby, and aside from very briefly dating Cordelia in his first appearance, his entire role in the show was to jam on stage with Oz during scenes set at the Bronze. In fact, after Oz left Sunnydale, it was never explained what happened to Devon or the other members of Dingoes Ate My Baby, as they simply vanished without a trace.
    • Tara played this trope straight for a while until it was subverted. Originally there to just be a love interest to Willow and also someone to help her magic growth, she soon became efficient to the Scoobies. Aside from being Willow's girlfriend, she proved to be the moral center of the Scooby Gang. After Buffy's death at the end of Season 5 she and Willow grew to be surrogate parents to Dawn and during the 6th season she was the the only person to know of Spike and Buffy's affair and helped Buffy deal with it. Plus her and Willow's breakup also allowed the character to expand more.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Much of Elektra's characterization revolves around her relationships with Matt and with Stick.
    • Outside of interacting with Karen in her first scene, Marci Stahl has only ever existed as part of Foggy's story. Though this changes in Season 3.
    • Mitchell Ellison primarily exists solely as part of Ben's storyline in Season 1, and Karen's storyline in Season 2.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • Hazel became the butt of constant jokes among the fandom over how little she did. Depending on the episode, she's either a Spear Carrier or holding the Strawman Ball. The problem was that she started out as a Recurring Character, received a Promotion to Opening Titles — and then received the exact same amount of screen time and plot relevance as before. She had one character-centric episode in season 2 (ironically this was before becoming a regular) about her not wanting to embrace her Somali Muslim ethnicity, and it's a pretty solid episode. Other than that, there are only a few other episodes that feature her prominently...interacting with Jimmy, Paige, and others in their far-more interesting problems.
    • Chantay Black somehow managed to be introduced in Season 4, do nothing for literally four seasons, be put in the title credits in season 8, and do a whole lot more of nothing before she begins dating Danny Van Zandt. After Danny's graduation she got one episode that wasn't about her being Holly J and Anya's friend, but soon after the Graduated From The Story as well.
    • Then of course there's Leia. She didn't do much other than be Mia's friend (until she left) or Danny's girlfriend (until he dumped her for Chantay), and once they were out of the picure she quickly faded away.
    • In Season 7, Anya and Sav are in the story strictly to further drama between Mia and Holly J. While they have gotten better, they spend a lot more time as support to other plots then they do on their own plot.
    • Blue was introduced as a love interest for Holly J in Season 8, they break up in Season 9, he leaves the show before Season 10. Given his only interaction outside of Holly J was one episode with Riley and he didn't do much in it. Safe to say, when he leaves, nothing of value was lost.
    • Zane's not a bad or flat character, and actually became a bit of an Ensemble Dark Horse, but all of his storylines revolved around Riley. When they broke up he disappeared until graduation.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The families of Rose, Martha, Donna, and Rory become recurring satellite characters of one form or another for as long as they remained on the show (and not one second longer). Averted Trope with Donna's grandfather Wilf, who becomes a companion in his own right, although briefly.
    • The classic series had all the minor UNIT people who were satellites to the Brigadier.
    • Then there's Rory, who starts off like this, then dies, gets erased from existence, comes back with his soul in a plastic Auton body, then properly revived and graduated to full companion status.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: As the show's original intro explained, unlike most other sitcoms at the time, the show is not about the kids. Ally and the twins are secondary characters with no real defined personalities or traits of their own aside from being Ray and Debra's occasionally troublesome children. Their main purpose in the series is to provide situations for the adults in their family to react to without taking a prominent position in the plot themselves.
  • Aisha from Fate: The Winx Saga role solely revolves around helping or criticizing Bloom, lacking a story-line of her own.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Rickon Stark is the least prominent Stark in the story, and mostly served as a Kid Sidekick at best. His death at the hands of Ramsay Bolton only serves to anger Jon during the Battle of the Bastards and there's no mention of him afterwards, not even from Bran, Arya, and Sansa.
    • Loras Tyrell's importance in the show pretty much disappears after Margaery's engagement to Joffrey and he is mostly seen with his sister afterwards.
    • Ironically, Tyrion becomes this after he joins forces with Daenerys, as his own motivations wither down to just wanting her to be Queen because he thinks she'd be good at it, and pretty much all of Tyrion's storylines after the Season 5 are there to further Daenerys's goals. It's only when Daenerys starts Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and becomes the Final Boss of the show that the writers remembered that Tyrion used to be a three-dimensional main character.
  • Juliette in Grimm. She seemingly only exists in Nick's presence. Despite being a licensed veterinarian, we only see her go to work when it furthers the plot of a case Nick is investigating. We know nothing about her family or where she's from. Her friends on the show consist of Monroe and Rosalie who she met through Nick. The one friend who appears from her past only appeared because she needed Nick's help and disappeared never to be heard from again after the situation was resolved. Juliette is bilingual but this is only revealed when Nick needs a Spanish-speaker to help him with a case based in Mexican lore. When Juliette finally got an independent plot involving amnesia that made her forget Nick she decided she was in love with Captain Renard, Nick's boss! When fan's had had enough she was Put on a Bus until the writers could retool the character and bring her back as "Eve" who is a reprogrammed with Juliette's memories and powers, but stripped of her feelings for Nick.
  • Leo Valentine in Hollyoaks has almost no characterisation beyond the premise of "irresponsible, cheating father", and no real storylines of his own. Everything he does is connected to his children, and he seems to exist primarily to cause trouble for them.
  • Ted's children in How I Met Your Mother are only featured listening to their father's story of how he met their mother.
  • Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger:
    • Zocks is the only member of the Goldtsuiker family with any major focus, with the other three siblings, Flint, Ricky and Cuttaner, being essentially his cheerleaders/form-change gimmick. While Ricky and Cuttaner do get some occasional Snark-to-Snark Combat with Juran, Flint gets little more than a few scenes with Kaito in one episode.
    • Uniquely, the Big Bad is this. Boccowaus’s obssession with ruling the multiverse is what kickstarts the name lot and the Zenkaigers liberating most of his collection is what makes him decided to face them personally… and that’s all there is to him.
  • Lost: There's Niki and Paulo. When alone, Paulo stood up better than Niki did. And in Season 4 Charlotte is one who is best when interacting with Daniel.
  • Merlin: Guinevere has no real Character Arc of her own, at least not one that isn't connected to her relationships with Morgana, Arthur, or Merlin. She does have a father and a brother, but the former was killed off and she barely interacts with the latter. That said, it's also an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, as her relationships with Merlin, Arthur, and Morgana make up a significant part of the show.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gypsy is a literal satellite character, tied to the functions of the Satellite of Love. While she has a personality and her own interests, it's to a far lesser extent than either Crow or Tom Servo. To a lesser extent, Gerry & Sylvia, the Mole People who occasionally helped out down in Deep 13. Even Dr. Lawrence Erhardt from Season 1 is largely considered little more than the sidekick to Dr. Forrester, until his return in Season 12 to assist Clayton's daughter, Kinga.
    • Cambot by virtue of being almost completely offscreen to film the show also falls into this.
  • Power Rangers
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Angela, Curtis and Richie are there solely to expand the characters of Zack and Trini. Angela was chucked as soon as Zack finally got the girl, and the other two vanished when Zack and Trini left. Trini herself also has shades of this, making Richie somewhat of a satellite character for a satellite character.
    • Power Rangers Time Force: Despite being part of the Spotlight-Stealing Squad, all of Jen's development is tied to either Alex or Wes. Her entire motivation of the series is to avenge her fiance's supposed death, and even after she breaks up with him her loyalty does not waver. Pretty much the only part of her character, that is exclusive to her character, is that she loves Frankie Chang movies. Even her leadership was undermined after the Sixth Ranger tried stealing leadership from Wes, leaving her out entirely.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Blake was pretty much just Hunter's brother and Tori's potential boyfriend. Even when he gets his own special weapon, the episode just as much focuses on Tori's jealousy of his female instructor.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force: Subverted with Madison, whose tendency to go Out of Focus makes her seem like just the responsible sibling to her brash sister or the shy girl pining over the new kid. However, she does in fact have enough personality to stand on her own if you actually pay her enough attention.
    • Power Rangers Megaforce: Despite having shades of The Ace, Gia's whole personality revolves around being the recipient of Jake's affection and Emma's best friend.
  • Revolution: Charlie Matheson is supposed to be one of the main characters. After episode 11, she becomes this, revolving around her uncle Miles Matheson.
  • Robin Hood: David Harewood's Tuck gets some interaction with Guy and the outlaws in his first episode, but from then on out, he barely interacts with anyone except Robin, acting as his P.R. spokesperson.
  • Scrubs Jordan, despite being arguably the third female tritagonist after Elliot and Carla, doesn't really get any of her own subplots the same way they do and mostly exists to showcase Dr. Cox's family life and how he's changing as a person thanks to having an (ex) wife and a child. Even times when the writers could have developed her character aren't really taken advantage of, Dr. Cox's relationship with Ben is given far more focus than Jordan's relationship with her brother and her younger sister Danni is only used very sparingly and mostly exists to torment J.D. To be fair, Jordan was only supposed to be a oneshot character, but you'd think if the show decided to keep her on, they would bother to do something more with her than just be a Distaff Counterpart to Dr. Cox.
  • Stargate SG-1: Although Vala is more than capable of standing on her own feet as a character, she is noticeably much more interesting and funny when she's teasing Daniel. In fact, she often seems more lost and bored without him, and definitely much less manageable.
  • V (2009): Tyler is supposed to be a Morality Chain for Erica, but fails miserably, becoming this. To add insult to injury, his girlfriend Lisa began as a Satellite Love Interest for him before emerging as one of the most important characters on the show, making him one to her as well.
  • Zoe Bartlet in The West Wing. Her plotlines are all about either her relationship with Charlie or her father's Papa Wolf tendencies, including the part where she gets kidnapped, to the point where her breakup with Charlie is offscreen and they get back together offscreen. Although we see her at Georgetown U occasionally, we never learn what her major was or what she intends to do with it, unlike her sisters.


  • Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! is one of, if not the most notable musical example. Although Wham! were always presented as a duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael was the one who wrote the songs and had the most star appeal. This was confirmed when George Michael's solo career became very successful, but Ridgeley's sank without trace.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In FoxTrot, Nicole and Steve pretty much existed only to be the respective friends of Paige and Peter. Morton Goldthwait and Eileen Jacobson also spent most of their time in the strip as little more than antagonists for Paige and Jason, respectively, with little to no interaction with any other character. Morton is also Peter's classmate and, at one time, Jason's camp counselor, but neither of those roles is quite as prominent as his relationship with Paige.
  • Exaggerated with Kitty, the family pet in Polly and her Pals. 90 % of Kitty's actions can be summed up as, "follow Pa around and perfectly mirror his mannerisms and expressions". Naturally, this was Played for Laughs.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Rizzo the Rat of The Muppets is seen as this, especially in his later years, whether he was paired with Kermit or with Gonzo. The fact that they haven't recast him after Steve Whitmire was fired is saying something.

  • Conversational Troping on The News Quiz back in 1995. During all the rumours that Will Carling was having an affair with Princess Diana, his then wife Julia won Satellite Personality of the Year at some TV awards (because she was appearing on satellite TV), and Alan Coren pointed out what a perfect description "satellite personality" was.

  • In the Book of Hosea, Hosea is told by God to marry Gomer, a known prostitute who only known to cheat on Hosea and give the Israelites an object lesson on rebellious idolatry.

  • W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan are one of theatre's most famous, if not the most famous, examples of mutual satellites. Both were successful in their own day even before they met, but it is unlikely that either would have gained their long-enduring fame without the other. The most important part of Gilbert & Sullivan was neither Gilbert nor Sullivan, it was the ampersand.

    TV Tropes Wiki 

    Video Games 
  • Due to limits on how much story time (developers usually have to spend a lot of time tweaking the gameplay, so if there's a minor character they're just there to take up space) there is to develop characters with, non-RPG video games have far too many examples of this to list, mostly in the form of rivals, love interests, parents, slain mentors and other already-cliched roles.
  • Backyard Sports: Amir Khan, for Achmed.
  • In Dead Rising 2, Chuck Greene's main motivation aside from clearing his name is to make sure his daughter, Katey, stays safe. In the What If? game Off the Record, Katey dies during the Fortune City outbreak, turning Chuck into an alcoholic psychopath.
  • Disco Elysium has an In-Universe example. The Player Character's old partner, Jean, has the rank of Satellite-Officer. Satellite-Officer is a rank only given to officers by merit of their partner being promoted ahead of them, to ensure they retain a similar degree of authority. That someone would be the Player Character.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, Penelo's official character description says it all: "Vaan's friend."
    • Fleshed out in succeeding Ivalice games, thankfully. It's sort of sad to have a satellite character being the satellite to, well... Vaan.
  • Babus is mainly defined by his loyalty to Mewt in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and its sequel Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn:
      • Geoffrey is heavily defined by his Undying Loyalty to his Childhood Friend Elincia, Princess (and later Queen) of Crimea. Other than his painfully obvious Bodyguard Crush on her and his being a bog-standard straightlaced and morally upright knight, there's not much more development from him. His sister Lucia has far more influence on the plot.
      • Giffca, the black lion laguz, serves as the extremely loyal vassal to the king of the cat, tiger and lion laguz, Caineghis, even though in the laguz tribes Asskicking Leads to Leadership and his strength is said to be comparable to his king's. What does he do other than being "The Lion King's Shadow"? Nothing.
      • The purple tiger laguz Kyza serves as the subordinate to the lion laguz Skrimir's aide Ranulf, and in-game all of his development revolves around him vying for Ranulf's attention and approval alongside his subordinate Lyre. Other than him being uptight and bureaucratic, there's not much else that's developed about him.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia has a couple of Canon Foreigners who were newly added to the story of Gaiden, two of which revolve around their relationship with one individual:
      • Faye has very little personality outside of her unrequited crush on Alm. Her one support chain outside of Alm's is with Silque, who Faye refuses to speak to at first because Silque wants to talk about things besides him. One of her base conversations also has her mention that her family wishes she would write to them about things besides Alm every once in a while. She is excited to see Celica again if you wait until Act 2 to recruit her, implying she still likes her despite Celica's own feelings for Alm, but this is very easy to miss, and something that players have little reason to do.
      • Rinea, Berkut's fiancée, exists purely to signify Berkut's morality at the moment. She has no impact on the plot, doesn't speak to anybody who isn't her fiancé, has no ambitions of her own and the only time she does anything of importance, it wasn't even her choice; Berkut sacrifices her and transforms her into a Witch in a desperate bid for the power to defeat Alm.
  • The Henry Stickmin Series has the character Grigori Olyat. His role is being The Dragon to Dmitri Johannes Petrov... and that's really it. That's the main point of this character.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The only purpose of Jiminy Cricket most of the time is to fill in the journal with story summaries and descriptions of enemies and characters. You could be forgiven for forgetting that he tags along with Sora, Donald, and Goofy, because he almost never speaks (or shows) up. Chain of Memories and coded do give him a more expanded role, however, since the erasure of his journal in the former becomes a plot point in the latter.
    • Much of Aqua's role in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is to be associated with her fellow males and support Ven (making friends and warn Terra of Vanitas) and Terra's own motives (investigate on the matters regarding Xehanort and the Unversed) while lacking a motive herself besides to look after them.
  • Casey in Night in the Woods is a friend of the main characters but has disappeared by the time the game starts, and thus never gets much characterization outside of the stories his friends have about him. Eventually revealed to be a horrific deconstruction; Casey was specifically chosen to be a sacrifice for a cult because he was this trope. The cult deliberately chooses people who they think A, won't contribute anything to society, and B, won't be missed by anyone. Because Casey had no real connections with anyone outside of his immediate friends and family, the cult found him the perfect victim.
  • In Puyo Puyo, the quiet, stoic Rei doesn't really do much apart from following his much more peppy twin sister Yu around.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has quite a few of these.
    • Despite being one of the series' major characters, Tails falls into this category. He definitely has a personality of his own, and games like Sonic Adventure have attempted to give him some development that's independent of Sonic. But for the most part, Tails is mostly stuck playing a supporting role as Sonic's Kid Sidekick and The Smart Guy of the group. That said, Tropes Are NotBad and his dynamic with Sonic is very popular within the fandom due to their brotherly bond.
    • Metal Sonic is defined by his desire to beat his namesake and being The Dragon to Dr. Eggman. This is justified however as that's specifically what Eggman designed him for. Played for Drama in Sonic Heroes, as Metal's obsession and subsequently his inability to defeat Sonic causes him to turn on his creator and becoming obsessed gaining as much power as possible to not only defeat Sonic, but to become the only Sonic around. Later games have downplayed this however, returning to his original role.
    • Knuckles devolved into this over time. He decidedly wasn't this in his first couple of years after his debut, being a major Breakout Character. He had his own goals and storylines that made him rather indedepndent. However, like with Amy, those traits would slowly be downplayed as time went on, and he mostly just shows up to help out Sonic and contributing nothing but Plucky Comic Relief.
    • Rouge and Omega are this towards Shadow. The former is particularly egregious since her and Shadow debuted in the same game and Rouge had her own rivalry with the aforementioned Knuckles and only occasionally interacted with Shadow, and even then it was a mostly professional dynamic and they had completely seperate goals. Come Sonic Heroes however, Rouge is now mostly defined as being one of Shadow's closest friends and confidant, essentially becoming Shadow's Tails equivalent. It's so bad that many fans incorrectly assume that Shadow is The Leader of Team Dark, when Sonic Heroes attributes that role to Rouge. Like Tails however, Rouge and Shadow's friendship is very popular within the fandom however.
    • Cream is this to either Amy or Blaze depending on the medium. Like Rouge, she debuted as having a goal, namely wanting to rescue her mother from Dr. Eggman. Probably somewhat justified by the fact that Cream is the Tagalong Kid of the group, and a pacifist at that, so she can't really be expected to take care of herself like the older cast members.
    • Speaking of Blaze, she herself becomes this towards Silver in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). What makes this example so strange is that Blaze debuted before Silver, and her initial debut in Sonic Rush has her as the Deuteragonist just behind Sonic. Cue one year later, and Blaze is now playing a secondary role to Silver, whom the two are treated as close friends for a long time, and none of Blaze's story or events from Rush are referenced at all, nor does she recognize Sonic in one of the series' most infamous Continuity Snarls as fans were now confused which set events were meant to be taken as canon. Subsequent games continue to group the two together in spite of the game's ending undoing the events of the entire game. Like with Rouge and Tails however, Blaze and Silver are very popular within the fandom for this reason, arguably eclipsing Blaze's dynamics with Sonic and Cream.
  • Several characters in the Soul Series are this, especially as the series becomes more evidently about only a select few characters. These include Setsuka, the Unknown Rival to Mitsurugi, who already has a rival; Amy, the foster Daughter to Raphael who himself has already served his importance to the main plot; and several other characters who were either never important or have concluded their importance.
  • Thanks to having 108 characters, Suikoden can be pretty bad about this. Suikoden Tierkreis in particular has satellites to satellites (for instance, Megion's male follower, or the two kids who argue about whether Fredegund should be forgiven).
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Angry variant: While Wario's main characteristic is his greed, Waluigi used to be defined primarily by his hatred of Luigi. Later games have given him an trickster and bitter cheater personality, but only once has he featured without Wario (Mario Tennis: Power Tour) and is never not seen competing with Luigi. He has never appeared in his own (official) game. He was created for Mario Tennis and has since only appeared in the multi-player party and sports games. He's had a cameo in the Paper Mario and a loose reference in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but that's about it. After a while, Waluigi became defined by his crazy and jerkish behaviour and self-pity.
    • Princess Daisy first started out as being mostly defined as being Peach's gal pal and a possible love interest to Luigi. After a while, she did get a more energetic personality, her own flower motif, and a louder voice to go with during the Nintendo GameCube games, which is an improvement from her first few playable appearances, where there was little to really differentiate her from Peach. In later games such as Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Mario Strikers Charged, she doesn't even share the same gameplay type and statistics as Peach, and is fully playable without Peach's involvement, and the two don't even show up in the same events in the 3DS version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
    • Luigi himself is a major Deconstruction of this trope. He originally started out like this with him merely serving as Player 2 to Mario's Player 1 with no distinguishing characteristics, but he then eventually devolved away from this and became a much more fleshed out character. He was then given a higher, floatier jump but wasn't shown in the video games to be anything more than Mario's most frequent sidekick and his abilities defined as variants of Mario's until Luigi's Mansion, where he got to be in his own game and was portrayed as cowardly and in need of confidence. Since then, Mario and Luigi have diverged in personalities and abilities. Luigi's behavior was even given a reason as a direct cause of Mario always overshadowing him.
  • Jude Mathis from Tales of Xillia has gotten this as the main complaint of his being one of the two protagonists. He has no real motivation of his own and merely follows Milla, about whom the game more revolves around, because he can't think of anything better to do once he's labelled a fugitive criminal. Even later on in the game, after Milla's death, Jude cannot hold his own in his route and suffers a Heroic BSoD that takes some time to shake him out of. He improves a little more, but is ultimately not very important to the plot. The sequel has improved Jude as a character a lot, by giving him his own motivation and arc that revolves around his attempt at spyrite technology, including making him more determined to be present during important plot scenes, despite still being more a helpful sidekick to Ludger.
  • Miharu Hirano only exists in the Tekken continuity to be a friend for Xiaoyu, and now Panda and Alisa as well.
  • Justified in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines with Heather: she seeks the player character out if they use their highly addictive blood to save her from a deadly injury, and, if allowed, comes to devote her entire life to them without question. For players who save her out of kindness, watching her slow Loss of Identity as the blood addiction makes her more fanatically dependent and eventually gets her killed by the character's enemies is quite a Player Punch. For those who enjoy ordering her around and exploiting her dependency, it can be hilarious.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • This commonly applies to the victims, especially those who died before the murder that is being investigated. For example, Manuel from Turnabout Samurai is implied to have been in a relationship with Dee Vasquez (hence why she blackmailed Jack Hammer and ruined his career for killing him, despite the incident supposedly being an accident), but not much more is known about him.
    • Lisa Basil of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, is the boss of the victim, Glen Elg, and only exists to give some exposition about Elg's gambling debts. As a result of her lack of importance, she ends up being Adapted Out of the anime adaptation.
    • Ellen Wyatt from the DLC case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice is almost purely defined as Sorin Sprocket's bride-to-be, and her tendency to overreact is largely due to any indication that she might not get to marry Sorin if she or Sorin gets convicted of murder. Her only other relationships revolve around her status as Sorin's bride- she rejects Larry due to already having Sorin, Gloomsbury disapproves of her marrying Sorin and Pierce Nichody tries to convince her that it's for the best if Sorin doesn't marry her. The only reason she ends up being targeted- first as an intended murder victim, and then being framed for murder- is for a Revenge by Proxy scheme against Sorin himself.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, there's Toko Fukawa, aka Genocider Syo/Genocide Jack. After she's revealed to be a serial killer with a personality disorder, her modus operandi in the game is pretty much being a creep to Togami and aggressively lusting after him. Even on rare occasions when she does revert back to Fukawa, "her prince" Togami is still almost everything she talks about. Even in the end, when Naegi is giving hope to the surviving students, Fukawa's motivation not to give in to despair is "following whenever her prince goes".
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, there's a more grounded and in-depth case of this. Peko Pekoyama's entire character pretty much revolves around Fuyuhiko, though the player only learns this during the second trial. Peko was raised to be Fuyuhiko's "tool" and she is the culprit of Chapter 2, murdering Mahiru on Fuyuhiko's behalf as his "tool" after he discovered that Mahiru covered up for the girl who murdered his sister. She has very little characterisation outside of being his Bodyguard Babe, tells the rest of the students she was only pretending to befriend them and Fuyuhiko's Character Development is kickstarted upon her death, after which she becomes his Lost Lenore. In fact, Fuyuhiko was even made into a survivor partly because they realised Peko's sacrifice would be meaningless if he died.
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair has Nobara Akadori, the main character Raiko Shinpuku's best friend. She mainly exists to provide comic relief and be Raiko's alibi when people start dying. While Nobara and Raiko hang out with Rie and Runa, Nobara, unlike most of the cast, has no significant connections with anyone besides her best friend.

  • In Achewood, Roast Beef originally just exists as a third character to fill out a clique, and is only given a name later as a joke. He goes on to be one of the most fleshed out characters in the strip.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Lucy mainly exists to be the Beta Bitch to Diane. Even after Diane went through a lot of character development, Lucy is still defined by her relationship with her. The only development her character has gotten was confessing that she has a crush on Diane, which only ties her character in further since it was more of a catalyst for Diane to realize she shares those feelings.
    • Sybil has barely even interacted with a character other than Arthur in the 10+ years since her introduction. She's mostly there so Arthur can discuss things out loud but in vague terms, or to ominously deliver him news.
  • Tavros's role in Homestuck is largely limited to his interactions with Vriska. He only appears in the story when Vriska needs a dog to kick, and he rarely interacts with any characters except Vriska, unless it is to talk about her, or to set up another interaction with her.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Zonoya's Revenge:
    • Flame and Ember exist just to be Ash's parents and to be Spyro and Cynder's friends.
    • Everything about Ash revolves around Nina: being her friend, crushing on her and fighting with Frijir for her affections. He's almost never seen doing anything by himself.
  • Lampshaded, parodied, and eventually subverted in The Order of the Stick with Blackwing, V's crow Familiar, who like most Dungeons & Dragons familiars, only appears when V needs him. It turns out that Blackwing isn't happy about the arrangement, and ends up calling out V for this treatment, after V went a bit too far. Now Blackwing is V's Morality Pet.
    • Quarr, an Imp who serves as a minion to various minor villains, gives us these sagelike words of advice: "The first thing you learn when you're my height is to find someone who's bigger to you and latch your lips firmly on their ass." Subverted in that he can come up with decent schemes on his own, and occasionally summon the odd demon who owes him a favor, but left completely to himself, he's capable of fighting V's bird to a draw and not much else.
  • In Our Little Adventure Lenny's motives for adventuring basically revolve around protecting and supporting his wife Julie, who has the task of finding pieces of the Magicant.
  • Shep in Schlock Mercenary started out as one of Those Two Guys, but as Nick got more and more fleshed out, it started to seem like Shep's only use in the strip was as an occasional foil. Eventually, the author caught on and Shep was Put on a Bus for a while, then got his own arc a couple of years down the line.
  • Trike Girl in Sinfest doesn't really do anything except show up to do something to oppose The Patriarchy.
    • Most new characters get their start this way, including Lil' E, all of the devil women, coffee shop lady, and others. Apparently Character Development being included in the benefits package makes entry-level Satellite Character work attractive at the comic.
  • In What Happens Next, true-crime podcaster Vikki's laid-back friend Xandra only shows up to give Vikki someone to talk to about her work bringing Milo's story to light.
  • Yuck Heads parodies this. Wood just forces Pecker to be his satellite character.

    Web Original 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Evil Balloon just seems to be Dave's sidekick. His lack of expressiveness or even voice doesn't give him much of a personality.
  • Exaggerated in My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series. Quick recap: a cutie mark is supposed to symbolize what a pony's special talent it. Silver Spoon's cutie mark in the MAS is literally a picture of Diamond Tiara, rubbing it in that she only exists as Diamond's friend/lackey.
  • In Noob, Decklan and Battos seem to exist only to fill in the Fragile Speedster and The Medic spots in the Roxxor guild main roster. The novels state that they are both the leader of another guild as well as part of the top players, which is a status identical to Roxana who has been seen interacting with enough different people to stand on her own. They are seen pulling out weapons and using healing spells in the fights involving the team they form with Amaras and Roxana, but otherwise get little development other than always acting in accord with them.
  • Survival of the Fittest has Elizabeth Priestly, who plays the satellite to her twin brother, Lenny. Most of what she does consists of following Lenny around and angsting about his psychotic behavior.
  • Another angry variant: in the Whateley Universe, Tempest is pretty much defined by her massive hatred of Chaka (and by extension, all of Chaka's friends).
  • Helluva Boss: For most of the series, at the start especially, Millie is heavily defined as this to Moxxie. Her interactions would mainly be with Moxxie, or about Moxxie in some way. For example, in the pilot, any insults towards her would never be about her, but her choice in husband. Even more damning, "The Harvest Moon Festival" still orients more about Moxxie's acceptance to Millie's family, her role in "Truth Seekers" is mostly about him being abducted, her biggest act in "OZZIE'S" is about defending him being able to sing his song, and her role in "Seeing Stars" is being dragged along with Moxxie after he gets hooked on supporting street performers (to where they disappear until the episode's end). As Blitzo himself puts it, she's always five feet away from him. This trend continues in "Exes and Oohs" - it's established in the opener that she's furious after bumping into an ex. It later turns out the ex is Chaz, who also dated Moxxie. While Moxxie's relationship with Chaz gets a whole flashback, Millie's doesn't, and from then on her hostility towards Chaz in the episode pivots to being primarily driven by how he treated Moxxie. This would eventually be deconstructed in "Unhappy Campers" where she rants about never truly having a moment to shine since she’s always supporting her husband. She indulges in the attention she got from the campers because to her, it’s the first time she feels people really notice her.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Darwin was this to Gumball in Season 1. Though Darwin serves as the Deuteragonist, about 95% of his personality was centered around his relationship with his adopted brother Gumball. Season 2 and onwards began lessening this by giving Darwin more focus without Gumball having to be there, but it didn't completely go away.
    • Carmen is this to Alan, at least until Season 5’s The Best.
    • Jared is this to Clare.
    • Louie is this to Jojo starting in Season 3.
    • Mrs. Robinson was this to Mr. Robinson in the first three seasons. The remaining seasons, however, downplayed this in favor of showing her without her husband more often.
  • On Creative Galaxy, Epiphany's role is generally to hang floating around Arty, animating the Creative Spark rocket ship, repeating things that are said, and occasionally shapeshifting to reflect something that Arty is thinking or which is being talked about. About the only exception to this is in the second season story "Epiphany's Dino Dance / Epiphany and Eureka," in which Epiphany somehow suddenly becomes a full character, expressing her anger (in the third person) after losing a game of spaceball, and playing with a friend named Eureka that looks just like her except for being blue instead of purple.
  • This is spoofed with the character "Star" on Danny Phantom, a preppy blonde who Tucker nicknames "Satellite," because she is "the marginally attractive girl who always orbits around the popular girl". Before this, she'd received a few solo cameos, but ever since the joke, her appearances have almost always been beside Paulina, the popular girl in question.
  • Stacy and Tiffany from Daria were this in the first season; they essentially filled up the fashion club and served to either converse with Quinn or Sandi, the characters of real importance about matters related to their feelings or the plot. However, Season 2 onwards saw more characterization with respects to Stacy, actually making her highly sympathetic.
  • Zordrak of The Dreamstone. Despite being the Big Bad, his involvement is pretty limited, rarely leaving his lair outside a handful of episodes. As such he only directly challenges the heroes a small number of times, otherwise restricted to his Bad Boss banter with Urpgor and Sgt. Blob.
    • Urpgor similarly rarely leaves Viltheed and thus usually only interacts with the other villains. He branched out a little in later episodes however.
  • Jealous variant: Veronica from The Fairly OddParents!, is Trixie Tang's satellite. She is in love with Timmy, and wishes that she could be Trixie, because Timmy likes Trixie.
  • Depending on the episode in Goof Troop, occasionally PJ and Pistol will be little more than extra mouths to agree with Peg or Pete and will be treated as a single entity of "the kids". In most of these episodes, both the Sibling Yin-Yang relationship and Pete's Parental Favoritism apparent in the rest of the series are removed, though there are a few that still hint at them.
  • Gravity Falls
    • Tyler the "Cute Biker" is hardly ever seen in any context besides cheering on Manly Dan. Later on, however, he gains his own storyline by becoming mayor of Gravity Falls.
    • The same goes with Manly Dan's three sons; all they ever do when seen is cheer on their dad when he does something manly and join in on their dad's activities... we don't even know their names! The limited role of Dan and his boys seems rather strange when we start to realize that they're Wendy's family.
  • Hey Arnold!: Subverted with Helga and Brainy, almost to the point to Plotted A Good Waste: Brainy almost only interacted with Helga, who seems much more smart and sophisticated that him. (He cannot talk because his asthma). After seeing various episodes, it becomes clear that Brainy is trying to propose to Helga, (confirmed by book six of the series Hey Arnold! Arnold's E-Files). That book also confirms that Brainy has Hidden Depths. So, the continuous Offhand Backhands to Brainy are Helga’s way to interrupt him. The point is Brainy, with all his defects, is completely convinced he deserves to be loved and never gives up trying to propose, while Helga will deny her true feelings time and again. Brainy is showed only interacting with Helga because Helga is Brainy’s Shadow Archetype.
  • Dukey from Johnny Test. Although he's ostensibly the Deuteragonist of the show, he is rarely important to the plot and is mostly defined by his status as the Only Sane Man to the Test children, but even that almost never actually effects anything.
  • Madagascar gives us King Julien's personal attendant Maurice. A voice of reason in the first film, that comes along with Julien when he joins the zoo animals in the sequels, where he becomes nothing but a guy who follows Julien around, only speaking up in agreement with whatever Julien says. By the third movie he is completely Out of Focus as Julien is by himself for most of his plot.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Scootaloo started off this way. Due to the being the only Cutie Mark Crusader not related to one of the main characters, her appearances were limited mostly to those with Applebloom and Sweetie Belle. Later episodes subvert this by developing her Hero-Worshipper status towards Rainbow Dash and with an episode centered around her.
    • Silver Spoon is mainly one for Diamond Tiara. Diamond Tiara is in turn an angry variant for the CMCs, though she eventually gets some character development. This was actually enforced by Hasbro when Diamond Tiara had her Heel–Face Turn: the higher-ups felt that the duo's story was "finished" and, rather than developing them as anything beyond "bullies of the CMC", vetoed using them any further save for a couple of background appearances.
    • Most of Shining Armor's personality is centered around his relationships with his sister Twilight Sparkle, his wife Cadance, and his child Flurry Heart. In the episodes he's appeared in he hasn't had a whole lot of development or displayed any particularly notable character flaws, and he basically begins and ends with "has relation to alicorn princess": he being the captain of the guards or the prince of a nation is rarely even mentioned, let alone touched on, and his defining abilities are more or less "isn't as powerful a Barrier Warrior as his wife" and "isn't as good a leader and planner as his sister" which just tends to mean he gets to be set up to fail against the threat one or both of them will ultimately succeed against. He gets a good bit in his focus comic book, however. Sparkle's Seven introduces a heretofore undeveloped competitive streak but, unsurprisingly, the episode focuses almost entirely on how it affects Twilight Sparkle rather than developing him as a character.
    • Princess Cadance is about as bad, with no notable character flaws, background, or relationships other than Twilight, Shining, and Flurry Heart. If the episode doesn't focus on her interacting with one of them, she just sits in the background as the third princess. Like Shining, she's given more development in the comics with an entire issue devoted to her concern about this.
    • Discussed in-universe with Big Macintosh, who for the longest time was merely "the brother" to his much more developed sisters and seldom even gets lines other than "eeyup". Then "Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep" hints, and "Brotherhooves Social" confirms, that he actually feels this way himself and doesn't feel special or valuable compared to his heroic sisters. Since then he's gotten more characterization, such as his love of Ogres And Oubliettes, his friendship with Spike and Discord, and a Satellite Love Interest of his own in the form of Sugar Belle.
    • That said, the only real development Sugar Belle has ever gotten is "is in a relationship with Big Macintosh", which is more than the rest of the four have gotten, which is "are acquaintances of Starlight Glimmer".
    • The last one in the line of Satellite Love Interests is Mudbriar. Since his entire character exists to give Maud a coltfriend who's just as weird as her, he resembles a flanderized version of Maud herself. Maud likes rocks and is stoic. Mudbriar likes sticks and is stoic. Maud is socially inept. Mudbriar is even more socially inept, constantly correcting people (which is his only character trait that is somewhat different from Maud).
  • High Five Ghost and Margaret of Regular Show seem only to exist to stand mostly silently next to Muscle Man and be the object of Mordecai's affections, respectively.
    • Interestingly enough, characters introduced as satellite characters to Margaret, such her dad Mr. Smith and Eileen, continued to appear after she left and had more character development.
  • The Simpsons
    • Sanjay is this for Apu. This may be why he was eventually phased out.
    • Janey, Lisa's Ambiguously Brown friend. She too was phased out.
    • Superintendent Chalmers was this for Skinner for a long time, although eventually he was given his own stuff to do away from Springfield Elementary.
    • Arnie Pye for Kent Brockman.
    • Dolph for Jimbo and Kearney.
    • Many of the male secondary characters' wives (notably Sarah Wiggum and Bernice Hibbert) only appear with their families or in scenes where a lot of women are present.
  • On South Park, Dr. Mephesito's "friend" Kevin is a tiny, mute creature that silently follows him around everywhere but does nothing else. In one episode Chef becomes abruptly disturbed by Kevin, noticing him for the first time. Mephesito reacts dismissively.
  • The Vulture falls into this after his initial appearance in The Spectacular Spider-Man. Originally seeking revenge against Norman Osbourne for taking credit for his inventions, he eventually just becomes one of Doc Ock's lackeys.
  • Pearl from Steven Universe is a major deconstruction of this trope. Her entire existence was dedicated to being Rose Quartz's loyal confidant, and when Rose died, Pearl was left struggling to find a purpose with her life.
  • Casey Jones is a minor version of this in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). His friendship with the turtles and April is his only real way into the plot because his traditional animosity towards Hun and the Purple Dragons is greatly downplayed this iteration.
  • Total Drama
    • Single Minded Friends Katie and Sadie from are this for each other. Fanfics try to avert this (usually for shipping reasons), but the show's writers haven't given them a drop of development. Even when Katie's elimination forcibly separated them for five episodes, the best the writers seemed able to think of was demoting Sadie to a silent extra for most of them.
    • Tyler for Lindsay in the first season, where he barely gets any dialogue and only exists to provide some tension between Lindsay and Heather due to Lindsay dating someone on the other team. Luckily he receives some development in World Tour where he interacts a lot with his team, getting some memorable dialogue in the process.
    • Cody's only purpose in Island was to be Gwen's creepy Hopeless Suitor, after he does the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy shtick in Island, he gets eliminated. In a very painful way. Then along comes World Tour where his only purpose (in addition to the above) was to be the target of Sierra's unhealthy obsessions (which itself solely existed to make fun of Cody's real-life fangirls).
    • Zoey is viewed as being a Satellite Love Interest to Mike for most of Revenge of the Island and All Stars, this was subverted for three episodes where Zoey was away from Mike after he's eliminated, but quickly returned to it's original path. Mike's own arc in Revenge was largely centered around Zoey (even his shame about his Split Personality is largely because he doesn't want to freak her out), though in All Stars he does get extra conflict surrounding his evil alter Mal.
    • Amy & Samey in Pahkitew Island have no purpose other than their conflict with each other and every individual aspect about them as separate characters (such as Samey's friendship with Jasmine) still has something to do with their conflict with the other.
    • Topher in Pahkitew Island has no purpose, other than to annoy Chris. Most other characters don't even seem to be aware he exists.
    • Emma and Chase in Island (2023) have no focus on anything other than their dysfunctional romance. It becomes noticeable when both times Chase is eliminated, Emma gets eliminated shortly afterward because she has no friends or allies to call back on, especially since nobody respects her after witnessing her Relationship Revolving Door.
    • Due to the spinoff series Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race having a different structure from Total Drama, about half of the teams end suffering from this problem with the characters on a team most of the time interacting only with their partner and/or being on the show purely for their conflict. This becomes especially noticeable for teams that managed to make it more than halfway into the race despite their limited purpose or development:
      • The only reason why the LARPers (Leonard & Tammy) are a team is just so that they can be the first ones eliminated. Further proven by confirmation that Leonard was a last minute addition to the show to replace a magician character (which also lead to Tammy's creation since the magician would've been paired with an assistant).
      • Fashion Bloggers (Tom & Jen) are very similar to Topher in which they had no purpose and rarely interacted with any of the other characters or were even acknowledged.
      • Mother & Daughter (Kelly & Taylor) were pretty much this show's answer to Amy & Samey (to the point where Taylor's voiced by the same person who also did Amy & Samey) in which they had very little purpose other than their unhealthy relationship with each other. The only conversations they ever had with others is Taylor being mean to the Adversity Twins, and in "Hello and Dubai" when Kelly has a conversation with Dwayne over her parenting, which also happened to be the episode where she's eliminated.
      • Stepbrothers (Chet & Lorenzo) were also kinda like Amy & Samey where they had virtually no purpose other than to bicker and fight with each other, aside from the occasional one-time conversation with another character, or hanging with the Rockers in their elimination episode.
      • The Rockers (Rock & Spud) went through most of their run without interacting with any of the other characters. The only time they did interact with others was in their final episode where they both interacted with the Stepbrothers and Spud briefly interacted with Carrie.
      • Just like with Mother & Daughter and Stepbrothers, the Daters/Haters (Stephanie & Ryan) had virtually next to no reason for being in the game other than their extremely unhealthy and toxic relationship with each other. The only other characters that they interact with are Stephanie with Kitty in "Hawaiian Honeyruin" and Ryan with Carrie in his last few episodes as part of their Odd Friendship.
      • The only purpose Best Friends (Carrie & Devin) had to be on the show was their long drawn out Will They or Won't They? plotline and as a result they ended up mostly being... There. The only notable interactions they had was both of them with Kitty & Emma and Carrie's Odd Friendship with Ryan.
      • The Surfer Dudes (Geoff & Brody) never once had a major storyline and pretty much went through the race doing their own thing while being limited to the background most of the time. Very ironic since they ended up interacting the most characters out of their team and made it all the way to the finale.
  • Angry variant: Depth Charge, from Transformers: Beast Wars, is an Ahab-esque satellite character defined by his all-consuming hatred for the monstrous Rampage. It's heavily implied that Rampage caused this intentionally, making a point of destroying everything else Depth Charge ever cared about. In the end, Depth Charge gives his life to end Rampage's.
    • In-universe, Inferno defines himself by his loyalty to Megatron, who he considers "The Royalty". However, this is more of a subversion in that this is because Inferno was somewhat uniquely damaged as a protoform, causing his personality to be heavily influenced by his ant beast mode. In practice, he ends up with a fair amount of personality, being an Ax-Crazy (even by Predacon standards) Pyromaniac, whose loyalty to Megatron was hilariously over-the-top in contrast to, say, Scorpinok, who was implied to be loyal because he was just too dim to have his own agenda.


Video Example(s):


Pyrrha and Nora

The Judgemental Critter brings up that Pyrrha and Nora's character arcs center entirely around the feelings they have towards Jaune and Ren respectively. Even when the story has them separated and engaged in potential to have other narratives, their arcs go back to focusing on Jaune and Ren, to the point where Nora's entire character arc in Volume 8 is about figuring out who she is WITHOUT Ren.

How well does it match the trope?

3.29 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / SatelliteCharacter

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