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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.


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 Fantastic Four itself, 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.


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


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    Comic Books 
  • 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 Bones spinoff The Finder features visits from Bones supporting characters Sweets and Hodgins, but not Booth or Brennan.
  • The Pilot episodes of CSI: Miami and CSI: NY both crossed over with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as well as there being an eventual three part crossover with all three, but Gil Grissom never appeared in them. This is apparently because William Petersen was against the spin-offs and refused to appear.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Super Sentai
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O is a Milestone Celebration and Crisis Crossover for the Kamen Rider franchise, but Toei couldn't get all the main actors back. Fourze, Wizard, Hibiki, Kiva, Kabuto, Drive, and 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 555 tribute because the major actors for the former were unavailable, and the staff specifically called out their being tied up with Bleach as the reason in a tie-in web video.
    • 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; instead being shoehorned into Heisei Generations FOREVER and 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 in a recurring role.

    Video Games 
  • 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. Subverted 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.
  • 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.

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