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Sidelined Protagonist Crossover

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In Crossovers, one of the draws is the main characters of all involved series interacting with each other. This isn't always the case, however. In some crossovers, the main character of one or more series is Demoted to Extra or doesn't appear at all. Then, a secondary character becomes an Ascended Extra and the focal point for their franchise.

This can be because of numerous reasons:

Compare with A Day in the Limelight, which focuses on a secondary character without necessarily being in a crossover. In a franchise where there are Loads and Loads of Characters, there may be those that are Heroes of Another Story but others do not get the limelight until a crossover. Contrast with Spotlight-Stealing Crossover, where one or several franchises demote others to extra.

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In some works, there can be multiple protagonists. When not all of them appear or are important to a crossover, it is considered as a downplaying of this trope.

When adding examples from Shared Universes, do observe that some of them have Character Overlap and such a character may be a regular in multiple works. In such cases, only add a secondary character as an example if they crossover to a work in their Shared Universe that they do not regularly appear in (which may be a tricky thing to track in really large Universes).

When a Shared Universe crosses over with works that doesn't belong to it, do note that the characters represent the entire Verse. For example, Doctor Doom, Galactus, and Super-Skrull began as Fantastic Four villains yet they have since undergone Rogues Gallery Transplant to several other heroes in the Marvel Universe. These villains are playable in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but not the Fantastic Four themselves, yet they are together with members of the The Avengers (which has a rotating line-up of almost every Marvel hero) to whom they acted as rogues before. Therefore, it is also considered a downplaying of this trope.

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Also see Transplant, when a character is not intended to be a crossover representative but a permanent transferee to a different work.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Mina is the representative for Dracula in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen instead of her former husband Jonathan Harker.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite is mainly a crossover between Mega Man, Mega Man X, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Boom. In Sonic Boom's case, however, the only characters with actual involvement in the crossover are Sticks the Badger, Fastidious Beaver, and Comedy Chimp, as they're the only characters who don't have counterparts in the main Archie Sonic continuity (which is acknowledged in at least one of the crossover's backup humor shorts). The Boom versions of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy have no involvement at all beyond bookending cameos when Sticks leaves and returns to her world, and the Boom versions of Orbot and Cubot are the only counterpart characters to interact with someone from another franchise (specifically, the Mega Man X characters).
  • The Jack Knight Starman series was revived for one issue as a Blackest Night crossover. However, the main character of the book was The Shade, as Jack had retired from being a superhero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Pilot episode of CSI: Miami crossed over with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the one of CSI: NY crossed over with Miami, and there was an eventual three-part crossover with all three, but Gil Grissom never appeared in any of them. This is apparently because William Petersen was against the spin-offs and refused to appear.
  • The Bones spinoff The Finder features visits from Bones supporting characters Sweets and Hodgins, but not Booth or Brennan.
  • Happy Days: In one episode, Fonzie needs some help defeating a gang so he calls on his good friend Carmine Ragusa, the Golden Gloves boxing champion and a character introduced in the Spin-Off Laverne & Shirley.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O is a Milestone Celebration and Crisis Crossover for the Kamen Rider franchise's Heisei era (2000-2018), but Toei could only get about half of the shows' stars to return. Kamen Rider Fourze, Kamen Rider Wizard, Kamen Rider Hibiki, Kamen Rider Kiva, Kamen Rider Kabuto, Kamen Rider Drive, and Kamen Rider Double only had secondary characters interact with Zi-O's cast, and appearances by the main heroes were done via Fake Shemp.
    • The Fourze tribute episodes in particular were awkwardly mashed together with the Kamen Rider 555 tribute because Fourze and Meteor's actors were tied up with filming Bleach; that said, Souta Fukushi (Fourze) was at least able to record dialog for his Shemp.
    • Kuuga didn't even get secondary characters to appear. Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FOREVER had Kuuga as a focus, but no actual actors from the show appeared; the closest thing to a Kuuga guest appearance was a Posthumous Character appearing as a mummified corpse.
    • Subverted with Den-O in the same movie, as lead actor Takeru Satoh is now a huge star beyond Toei's usual pay-grade and Den-O appearances have used deuteragonist Momotaros - who is a rubber suit character and thus incredibly easy to bring in - for years, but Toei was able to negotiate to have Satoh make a surprise cameo appearance. (A Den-O arc later on in the show itself, however, reverted to just using the supporting cast.)
    • Double never received a proper tribute at all; much like Satoh, Masaki Suda (Philip) had become such a big star that his schedule was booked solid for two years straight and he was unable to return despite being willingnote . Heisei Generations FOREVER ostensibly had Double's tribute, but it was represented by an extremely minor character who was portrayed by a member of the Double production staff anyway. Instead, the show's final arc brought back Double movie antagonist Kamen Rider Eternal for several episodes.
  • Neither Cat (part of the protagonist ensemble of Victorious) nor Sam (supporting protagonist of iCarly) are the main characters of their home shows, but they become the protagonists in the Crossover Spin-Off series Sam & Cat (in which Tori and Carly don't appear).
  • Super Sentai

    Video Games 
Action RPG
  • Marvel Future Fight downplays this with Nico Minoru, who is part of the protagonist ensemble in Runaways. She was added as a playable character in a December 2015 update (reflecting her role in A-Force at the time), and remains the sole Runaways representative in the game four years on. She does, however, have a team-up bonus called "Runaways"... which she shares with Bucky Barnes, of all characters.

Action-Adventure

  • Kingdom Hearts has many instances of supporting characters from Disney films overshadowing their protagonists, especially if said Disney films do not feature as full-fledged worlds.
    • The biggest examples are Donald Duck and Goofy being part of the Power Trio, but not Mickey Mouse, who doesn't appear until the final cutscene of the first game. This was after a long deliberation: Square Enix wanted Mickey to become the main hero, but was vetoed by Disney, who preferred Donald instead. Eventually, they decided to Take a Third Option and created an original character, but retained Donald and Goofy in the sidekick roles. The sequels promoted Mickey into a major character, though.
    • Jiminy Cricket, who is part of Sora's team. Though he seldom appears, he has more plot importance than Pinocchio, who stays in his Disney world.
    • Maleficent is much more important than any other character from Sleeping Beauty. With the relegation of the Disney properties to the background, she is one of few Disney characters who still regularly impact the plot.
    • Beast is a party member in the first game and II and is generally a major character compared to Belle.
    • Out of the cast of TRON, only Tron, Sark, and the MCP appear in II. Despite being the titular character, Tron isn't actually the protagonist of his film. This is rectified in Dream Drop Distance, which follows the plot of Legacy and features Kevin Flynn as the hero of his world.
    • Unlike other Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts III where Sora regularly interacts with the cast, Sora barely has any moment with the Frozen cast. Though Anna and Elsa appear, they do not become party members and Sora interacts with them exactly once each in the gamenote , while the plot of the movie goes on without his input at all. They don't even notice Sora in the world's final scene to say goodbye to him unlike all other Disney casts in the same game, despite standing a mere few steps in front of him. The Ascended Extra part? Marshmallow becomes a party member and Hans manifests Arendelle's Heartless Final Boss, Skoll.
  • LEGO Dimensions
    • Although both Aragorn and Frodo appear in cutscenes, neither one is playable (read: has a set) with the job of the main The Lord of the Rings hero going to series Big Good Gandalf. Downplayed for The LEGO Movie as although Wyldstyle is the main hero in story, Emmet is still playable.
    • In terms of non-main universes, The Wizard of Oz has only one set, represented by the Wicked Witch Of The West and Beetlejuice has the titular ghost who is ultimately the antagonist.
  • The console versions of Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots feature Breakout Character GIR from Invader Zim as a secret playable character, but Zim himself doesn't appear anywhere in the game. Averted in the DS version, which features both Zim and GIR as playable characters.

Fighting Game

Role-Playing Game

  • Various Dragon Quest crossovers (including Itadaki Street, Dragon Quest Heroes, Dragon Quest Heroes II, and cameo appearances in Dragon Quest IX) feature party members from past games but, with the sole exception of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, never the main characters. The series embraces having the main character as an avatar for the player and so does not want to establish a true name or personality for any of them.
  • World of Final Fantasy: Several main protagonists don't make the cut, and not a single character from II makes it in. FFIII has one representative in Refia, rather than the Onion Knight or any of the other kids from the DS remake of the game. IV has Rydia rather than Cecil or even Kain. VIII does have Squall, but in addition to him rather than Rinoa or Laguna they included Quistis, who is the closest thing the original FF cast has to a Big Good. IX forgoes Zidane or Garnet entirely in favor of Vivi and Eiko (also odd, since Eiko's status as a summoner is relevant to the plot and Garnet would have worked just fine, too). XII also lacked any representatives whatsoever, while XI had Shantotto, as usual for crossovers.

Strategy RPG

Turn-Based Strategy

Fictional Video Game

    Multi-Media/Other 

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