Follow TV Tropes


Sidelined Protagonist Crossover

Go To

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 tons 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 the Fantastic Four themselves, yet they are together with members of 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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • This is the fate of most male protagonists of Harem anime and manga if their works are involved in crossovers, given the marketing for the genre tend to focus just on the attractive romantic leads.
  • The Empire of Corpses is a Steampunk Crossover of several novels that are set in the Victorian era (and some that are not, which are given Setting Updates). Some of the representatives are not the protagonists in their original novels.

    Comic Books 
  • Crossroads was a miniseries from First Comics intended to create a shared universe. However, the crossover between The Badger and American Flagg! featured sidekick Lithor Ironheart rather than Reuben Flagg.
  • Mina is the representative for Dracula in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen instead of her former husband Jonathan Harker. The comic was criticized in later volumes due to keeping the focus on Mina, Allan and Orlando, since it meant 19th-century characters interacting with 20th-century ones, taking the focus off of the latter.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • Comic Book SNAFU: Two of the central characters are Akiza Izayoi and Gajeel Redfox, who appears in place of Yusei Fudo and Natsu Dragneel respectively.
  • Honoka's Bizarre Adventure is a crossover between Love Live! and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, though neither DiU's protagonist Josuke Higashikata nor any of the other Joestars are present while other characters like Yoshikage Kira, Aya Tsuji, and Reimi Sugimoto make an apperance. Justified as the series takes place in Tokyo in the 2010s and focuses on the idol group µ's, far from the small town of Morioh in 1999.
  • Cinders and Ashes: the Chronicles of Kamen Rider Dante averts the usual notion of an original character becoming a Kamen Rider and replacing both the protagonist of the show it's crossing over with and the person who was originally the Kamen Rider (who is usually a protagonist) in the first place by being an original Rider, but also still allowing for the protagonist(s) to retain their spotlight.
  • Imaginary Seas: While Percy Jackson is the protagonist, the main characters from Chaldea do not. Justified as the story takes place in the Atlantis Lostbelt before Chaldea's arrival.
  • The Infinity Train: Blossomverse makes Ash Ketchum a secondary character, as it focuses more on other characters from his world going through traumatic experiences and confronting them on an interdimensional therapy train. Whether he's involved in their struggles depends on the person.
  • Double subverted in Paradoxus: At first, the prologue follows some Original Character, then the narrative switches to Bloom's shenanigans in Azeroth and makes the reader expect her to slowly piece together the clues to figure it's the Burning Legion (with a brand-new Undead Plague) the responsible of ravaging several Eraklyon cities. Thus, being the subversion of this trope. However, the fic suddenly time-skips eight years into the future — the reader learns Bloom has been assassinated and the actual protagonists of the story are Bloom's and Stella's daughters. On top of that, there are only two plot-relevant characters from the World of Warcraft canon; the rest are only mentioned.
  • Despite taking place in John Wick, se vis pacem para bellum features characters only from The Lord of the Rings/The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton
    • Downplayed with the titular character. While Supergirl isn't a minor character by all means and had her own series, this trope applies as she was chosen over her more famous cousin Superman. This was purposely invoked by Doctor Doom and Richard Reed when they created the Krypton-verse, as Superman was the load-bearing pillar of the DC Multiverse even in Earth-16. Kara was selected because she was the closest to Superman they can get and was fated to die in that universe anyway.
    • Supporting character Nico di Angelo is the main representative of The Camp Half-Blood Series instead of the protagonist Percy Jackson.
  • Downplayed with Minato in Throw Away Your Mask. The fic primarily follows Akechi and the people and social links he interacts with, but Minato is still doing all of his usual protagonist things in the background and off-screen.

    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.
  • Cheers characters Norm Peterson, Cliff Clavin, Frasier Crane and Rebecca Howe have all made appearances in Wings, but Sam Malone did not.
  • 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.
  • Steve Urkel from Family Matters appears in one episode of Full House and two episodes of Step by Step, while none of the Winslow family do. Since Steve would become the de-facto protagonist of Family Matters later on (due to him being the show's most popular character), this is a downplayed example.
  • 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 willing.note  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).
    • In an even more confusing example, there's also a Sam & Cat episode where Freddie from iCarly and Robbie and Jade from Victorious appear, yet neither Carly nor Tori do.
    • Stacey Dillsen from Zoey 101 appears in three episodes across Sam & Cat and one of its parent shows iCarly, while Zoey herself is nowhere to be seen.
      • Coco Wexler also appeared in an episode of Sam & Cat, but again, no Zoey.
  • Mr. Moseby from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody appears in an episode of Jessie, while Zack and Cody themselves do not.
  • Super Sentai:
  • Sesame Street:
    • In the 70's, the show had a crossover episode with The Wizard of Oz (1939), represented by Margaret Hamilton reprising her role of Big Bad the Wicked Witch of the West so that the show can teach its preschool audience about the concept of fear and "the value of planning by creating and implementing methods of retrieving [her] broom". This has Gone Horribly Right, becoming a Banned Episode because Moral Guardians deemed the Witch too intensely frightening for the little kids.
    • Given the sheer difference of tone between an educational show for preschoolers and a Space Opera, Sesame Street pulled off two crossovers with Star Wars in the 70's-80's by featuring visits from R2-D2 and C-3PO, Star Wars's designated Kid-Appeal Character duo at the time. Not once were Luke, Leia or Han referenced, let alone the Empire or the Galactic Civil War.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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, his role as the chronicler filling out a journal in each game ensures 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, especially as one of the first game's primary antagonists. With the relegation of the Disney properties to the background, she is one of the few Disney characters who still regularly impact the plot even if she takes a back seat to more influential villains such as Xehanort.
    • 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 game,note  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 the Wicked Witch of the West and Beetlejuice has the titular ghost, both of whom are ultimately the Mascot Villains of their respective films.
  • Nickelodeon video games:
    • 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.
    • Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl has a number of series in the playable roster represented by supporting characters:
      • Nigel, The Wild Thornberrys's Fountain of Memes, over protagonist Eliza.
      • Reptar, a character from a Show Within a Show in Rugrats, as opposed to any of the lead baby ensemble cast, though in the sequel, Tommy appears during Reptar's victory animations.
      • Hey Arnold! tritagonist Helga instead of the titular protagonist. In the sequel, Gerald and Grandma made it in instead of Arnold.
      • Of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters's Power Trio, Oblina made the cut over poster boy Ickis.
      • Subverted in the case of The Ren & Stimpy Show. When the game was originally revealed, it seemed as though Powdered Toast Man would be the sole representative of the show over Ren and Stimpy themselves. Weeks after Gamescom 2021, however, the duo would be revealed to actually be joining as well.
      • Zig-Zagged with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): Leonardo and Michelangelo are playable, but Raphael and Donatello are absent in favor of secondary protagonist April O'Neil. Later on, Shredder, the Turtles' Arch-Enemy, was added through DLC, while Raph and Donny were still absent. This is unusual, as all other TMNT material features all four turtles equally. While the other two turtles joined the roster in the sequel, Leo and Mikey are now absent, with April still in, making her the only character to be in the roster of both games.
      • Hugh, the father of the titular character of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius and Fountain of Memes, was added as a DLC fighter instead of Jimmy. Averted in the sequel, where Jimmy is playable while Hugh was demoted to a NPC in the single-player campaign mode.
    • Carrying on from Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl before it, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway reps some series with secondary characters while the main protagonists are absent:
      • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: Oblina is playable instead of Ickis, the main protagonist.
      • Rugrats (2021): Bizarrely, despite both characters being playable in the previous Kart Racers entries, series protagonist Tommy Pickles and Villain Protagonist Angelica Pickles (the latter of whom became a non-playable Pit Crew member and the former of whom is left out entirely) are completely absent in Slime Speedway in favor of Reptar, Chuckie, and Susie.
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle features Breakout Character Yumi from Senran Kagura as a playable fighter, but series protagonist Asuka is completely absent.
  • The roster of Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax and its Updated Re-release features a few supporting protagonists who make up the list of playable characters while the main characters of the franchises they represent are delegated to assist characters. These include:
    • Mikoto Misaka as the initial representative of A Certain Magical Index over series lead Touma Kamijou. Downplayed in that Misaka was enough of an Ensemble Dark Horse that she is the main protagonist of the Railgun Spin-Off, which could justify her inclusion further.
    • Shizuo Heiwajima as the sole representative of Durarara!!, with the series' main protagonist and antagonist (Celty Sturluson and Izaya Orihara) as assists.
    • Kuroyukihime as the representative of Accel World over main protagonist Haruyuki Arita.
    • Emi Sakura as the representative of The Devil is a Part-Timer! over main protagonist Sadao Maou.
    • Selvaria Bles - one of the bosses of Valkyria Chronicles - as the playable representative, with deuteragonist Alicia Melciott as her assist.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the original Dissidia Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XII is represented by the villain Gabranth, with The Hero Vaan appearing in the sequel. This continues in Dissidia Final Fantasy (2015), where, as per tradition, Shantotto and Y'Shtola replace the player-created protagonists from XI and XIV. The Glaive from XV Comrades is a downplayed case, as they are never mentioned but the representative is Noctis, who was the protagonist of the vanilla version of XV.
    • World of Final Fantasy: Several main protagonists don't make the cut, and not a single character from Final Fantasy II makes it in. Final Fantasy III has one representative in Refia from the Nintendo DS remake rather than the Onion Knight from the original NES game or any of the other kids from the DS remake. Final Fantasy IV has Rydia rather than Cecil or even Kain. Final Fantasy VIII does have Squall, but in addition to him rather than Rinoa or Laguna they included Quistis, who is the closest thing the original Final Fantasy cast has to a Big Good in this game. Final Fantasy 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). Final Fantasy XII also lacked any representatives in the base game whatsoever, while Final Fantasy XI had Shantotto, as usual for crossovers.
  • Fighters Megamix is a crossover focusing on characters from games developped by Sega AM2, including (but not limited to) Virtua Fighter, Fighting Vipers, and Sonic the Fighters. In the case of the latter, its only representatives were the characters created for that game, namely Bean the Dynamite and Bark the Polar Bear, while Sonic himself was completely absent.
  • Mario Hoops 3-on-3: The Final Fantasy characters that are playable are three mooks (and one Helpful Mook) and a trio of regular class characters rather than using the more well-known characters.
  • Injustice 2: Black Adam returns as a playable character, but not Billy Batson/Captain Marvel/Shazam due to the latter's death at the hands of Superman in the previous game.
  • Jump Super Stars:
    • Eve from Black Cat was playable while series protagonist Train Heartnet was only an assist. Averted in the sequel, however, as Train was Promoted to Playable.
    • Regarding JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, each part (up to Steel Ball Run as that was the most recent part at the time) is represented by its respective JoJo. The sole exception was Steel Ball Run itself which was instead represented by its Deuteragonist Gyro Zeppeli instead of Johnny Joestar. At the time, Steel Ball Run was considered independent from JoJo and Gyro was front and center for its marketing.
  • River City Girls 2: Billy and Jimmy have been passed over for Marian as the sole playable character to represent the Double Dragon series. This is explained by Marian's decision to become a powerful fighter that's no longer helpless, so there's no real need for the Double Dragons to be involved in much of anything anymore. They got bored and set up their respective dojos to pass the time.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom:
  • MultiVersus:
    • The game has both Shaggy and Velma as playable characters representing the Scooby-Doo franchise, but the titular Great Dane is nowhere to be seen.
    • In a case of a sidelined antagonist crossover, the game lacks Batman's most well-known archenemy, the Joker; his role is filled by Harley Quinn, who's normally an evil sidekick-turned-vigilante.
    • Like the Injustice 2 example above, Black Adam was announced without his arch-nemesis Billy Batson/Captain Marvel/Shazam. Though his inclusion was undoubtedly a tie-in with his solo film.
    • Subverted with the Gremlins characters. Stripe was originally announced without Gizmo. However, not only was Gizmo eventually confirmed to be playable, but he was officially added to the game before Stripe.
  • Persona: In Persona 4: Arena, characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 appear, but the former's protagonist is absent because he died sealing Nyx away at the end of Persona 3. This carries over to BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle via New Work, Recycled Graphics.
  • In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, the different series sometimes had the most iconic character rather than the main one.
  • The 2019 Samurai Shodown eventually brought in several Guest Fighters from both The Last Blade and Guilty Gear. Neither of them are series protagonists Kaede and Sol Badguy respectively, instead being Hibiki Takane and Baiken.
  • Slap City is a crossover of Ludosity's titles but out of the 11 characters, only Ittle Dew and Princess Remedy are the main playable characters of their games.
    • The Goddess of Explosions features over her daughter Princess Pitch.
    • Major antagonist Asha features over the titular hero of Iji.
    • Card City Nights is represented by reoccouring joke character Business Casual Man rather than the customisable protagonist.
    • Hero Core is represented by Cruiser Tetron, the Big Bad.
    • Similarly to Min Min in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Healthy Weapon's character is Orka, one of the many fighters and not the default protagonist, Baraden.
  • SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos has Metal Slug's Mars People as a Mid-Boss and a Red Arremer from Ghosts 'n Goblins as an Optional Boss, but neither Arthur nor any of the Metal Slug player characters. And the Red Arremer is stated to be just a generic Red Arremer, not Firebrand, protagonist of the spin-off series Gargoyle's Quest. Averted with Demitri from Darkstalkers, however. SVC Chaos is currently the only fighting game in the Capcom vs. series where he's actually playable instead of Morrigan, who usually serves as the series' rep during crossovers.
  • The Pac-Man franchise had a game called Pac-Man Fever, which had a few characters crossing over from other Namco Bandai franchises. Among them are Astaroth from the Soul Series games, over Siegfried. In a very strange example, the game also includes Tiger Jackson from the Tekken series, of all characters, alongside Heihachi rather than Kazuya or Jin.
  • Street Fighter's Akuma is a Guest Fighter in both X-Men: Children of the Atom and Tekken 7 without series main character Ryu appearing.
    • Speaking of Street Fighter, while it's technically set in the same universe, Final Fight's Mike Haggar (one of the three selectable characters from the original game) has yet to be playable in a mainline Street Fighter game, while enemies and bosses from the Final Fight games such as Poison, Hugo, Rolento, Sodom and Abigail have.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Some games ignore the Trainers in place of having you control the Pokémon themselves. Super Smash Bros. Brawl included Pokémon Trainer, who is based on the original protagonist Red from Pokémon Red and Blue. However, he was replaced with Charizard in the sequel because of technical limitations over the 3DS. Charizard was one of his three Pokémon in Brawl, along with Squirtle and Ivysaur. They all returned for Ultimate, together with the Trainer's Distaff Counterpart.
    • The Robotic Operating Buddy games are only ever represented by the bot himself (who was a game peripheral), with their player character Professor Hector being completely absent.
    • Downplayed for Duck Hunt. The dog was a NPC, while the ducks were the closest thing the games had to enemies. But the actual "main character", the hunter, is still part of the fighter, being the one shooting at the screen during certain attacks.
    • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Chrom, the main character for Fire Emblem: Awakening, was absent in favor of the Avatar character, Robin, and his daughter Lucina, something their trailer lampshades. While the reason for Lucina's inclusion was that she was originally a skin for existing character Marth, Robin was chosen over Chrom because Robin had the potential to have an interesting moveset using both magic and swords. However, Chrom does appear as Robin's Final Smash and as a costume for Mii Fighters, before being included as a playable character in Ultimate as a Moveset Clone of Roy. Subverted as Chrom turns out to be a Decoy Protagonist to Robin, though this continues to be debated among the Fire Emblem fandom.
    • In Ultimate, the one character from Undertale that appears as a Mii Costume is Sans, a major NPC and final boss of the Genocide route. The protagonist is absent and represented by Animal Crossing Villagers in the trailer.
    • A notable aversion is four of the Heroes of Dragon Quest appearing as one character but Sakurai has gone on record as saying he was willing to add a Slime as a character if Square Enix turned down the Hero.
    • In Ultimate, Min Min is the playable character representing ARMS over Spring Man, who is more or less the Series Mascot of that game and appears as a non-playable Assist Character. This was by request from ARMS producer Kosuke Yabuki, for whom Min Min is the Creator's Favorite and who considers ARMS to have an Ensemble Cast instead of a designed protagonist.
    • In Ultimate, the character chosen to represent Fallout as a Mii Costume is Vault Boy, an in- and out-of-universe fictional mascot and game interface element. This has to do with the design of all of Fallout's protagonists being entirely up to the player's discretion (to the point that Fallout lore explicitly avoids canonizing any protagonist character design aspect).
    • For Ultimate, Pyra and Mythra were chosen to represent Xenoblade Chronicles 2 instead of that game's protagonist, Rex (who nonetheless shows up as part of their Final Smashes and in many of their miscellaneous animations). Although the girls are a vital part of their source game's plot and Rex's most frequent partners, so it's fair enough. And this case, Rex was the original planned fighter with Pyra/Mythra tagging along, but having both characters involved would have been too taxing for the game.
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom features Ōkami's Final Boss Yami as its final boss, yet Amaterasu isn't represented in the game. (Ammy herself would then appear in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where—you guessed it—Yami was a no-show.)
    • Roll appears as a playable character, but her titular big brother only makes a cameo during her ending.
  • Aside from Akuma, Tekken 7 also added Geese Howard and Negan. Both are antagonists in the works they appear in. For the latter, his characterization is taken from before he starts mellowing out in Season 9, which began just a couple of months after his inclusion's announcement in EVO 2018.
  • The modern Mortal Kombat games, given the violence on display, have potential guest fighters limited to those who the licensors will allow to be violent and be dismembered. As such, if they're not the protagonists of bloody and gory action franchises, then they're the headliners of villain-based franchises (to the point that Mortal Kombat X's guest cast is entirely the latter). The only case as of 2020 of a villain who is not part of such a franchise is The Joker appearing in Mortal Kombat 11 over his Technical Pacifist foe Batman, whose only appearance in the game is during the Joker's Friendship, where he throws a Batarang (from off-screen) at the Joker's head.
  • The only time the Soul Series ran into this trope with its guest fighters was with Soulcalibur IV's Star Wars Original Trilogy-based representation of Darth Vader (a major villain), Yoda (a supporting character) and Galen Marek (protagonist of The Force Unleashed, explicitly brought in as Dualvertisement; this was back when Star Wars Legends was still canon) over Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Zig-zagged with Xuan Dou Zhi Wang regarding SNK's two Guest Fighters - Fatal Fury is represented by its protagonist Terry Bogard, yet instead of Kyo Kusanagi, it's his sidekick Benimaru Nikaido who represents The King of Fighters.
  • Million Arthur: Arcana Blood
  • PAYDAY 2 features a number of guest characters. Out of all of them, two aren't the main stars of their source material.
    • Bodhi, specifically from the 2015 remake of Point Break, was added over the protagonist, Johnny Utah, due to Bodhi being an actual bank robber while Johnny goes undercover within the Ex-Presidents
    • Jimmy from Hardcore Henry was chosen over the titular protagonist, as Henry is The Faceless aside from a single scene showing his reflection (in contrast to other guest character Jacket as the game uses his maskless sprites from his source material as a base for his unmasked appearance) and would likely be way too overpowered due to being a Cyborg.
  • The Dreamworks Animation crossover game Dreamworks Universe Of Legends generally features the main heroes of each series represented, but for Monsters vs. Aliens, B.O.B. (who turned out to be the Breakout Character of the movie) and Gallaxhar are playable heroes while main heroine Ginormica is nowhere to be seen (though it can also be assumed to be because of, well, her size).
  • Various Dragon Quest crossovers (including Fortune 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.
  • Rakenzarn Frontier Story mainly uses side characters from the worlds they come from as active party members, with characters who are the mains from their worlds usually as guest party members or off doing their own thing. The only exceptions are Makoto Naegi and Yuko Asou.
  • As a crossover of Manga Time Kirara series, Kirara Fantasia has a Chromosome Cast with the unique exception of Blend-S's Wholesome Crossdresser Hideri - business as usual for nearly all of the manga featured in the game but Yumeji from Dream Eater Merry and Io from Place to Place, two extremely rare cases of male protagonists in Kirara titles, are noticeably absent. The boys were eventually given their due, though only as part of the game's Kirara Boys April Fools' Day prank.
  • Downplayed for Disgaea's representation in Nippon Ichi and Idea Factory crossovers. Etna and the Prinnies appeared in Cross Edge and are joined by Flonne in Trinity Universe but Laharl didn't appear at all.
  • Namco × Capcom: None of the game's Rival Schools rep is Batsu, the main character — instead there's Hideo Shimazu and Kyoko Minazuki.
  • Project × Zone:
  • Super Heroine Chronicle has a Chromosome Cast, due to using the heroines of multiple franchises while removing the male protagonists. One of the stranger results of this is that Ichika Orimura's harem remains intact... but is transferred to Hibiki Tachibana instead.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • Zoids: New Century debuted in Operation Extend, but Bit Cloud and his Liger Zero were nowhere in sight. Instead the series was represented by Leena Toros and Naomi Fluegal (Both of which are supporting characters) and their respective customized Gun Snipers.
    • Downplayed with Cowboy Bebop in Super Robot Wars T. The protagonist Spike Spiegel piloting his Swordfish II appears as a playable unit, but the titular ship isn't and was Put on a Bus for the majority of the game for repairs, leaving its crew to hang around ships from other series.
  • This is the point of the Blizzard Entertainment 2014 April Fools' Day prank Blizzard Outcasts. It's like Heroes of the Storm, but as a Fighting Game, and it exclusively features a variety of minor characters, units, and Mooks from their various series. The closest to a Hero of Another Story here is Kael'thas Sunstrider, as he's the main character in some of the Warcraft III campaigns. Unlike HotS, it has a Rock n' Roll Racing representative in the form of the Dirt Devil.
  • Macross Expanded Universe:
    • The Uta Macross mobile rhythm game is a crossover between all the Idol Singers in the franchise. Naturally, this meant that none of the main pilot characters are present with the exception of rock star Basara Nekki, who is The One Guy among the playable cast.
    • Ironically, the Shoot 'Em Up game Macross: Shooting Insight, which does features all of the main characters in the franchise, sidelines Basara in favor of The Rival Gamlin Kizaki. Probably because Basara is the odd one out among the franchise's protagonists due to being a Badass Pacifist rock star rather than a military pilot, to the point that his own Variable Fighter does not sport any actual weapons at all which would be ill-suited for a shooting game.
  • Telltale Games's Poker Night at the Inventory has this in spades.
  • DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing does this for a few of the movies represented in-game.
    • Penguins of Madagascar: Oddly, the game features a track based on the movie (Arctic Ocean) despite none of the titular penguins appearing.
    • Trolls: Due to their small size, the titular trolls are relegated to voiceless assist characters. Instead, the bergens, Bridget and King Gristle, are the playable series reps.
    • The Boss Baby: The titular Boss Baby and Tim's daughter Tina are playable, but Tim himself is nowhere to be found.
  • Both of the DreamWorks Animation racing games produced by Activision - Madagascar Kartz and DreamWorks Super Star Kartz - represent Monsters vs. Aliens with B.O.B., the comic-relief Breakout Character. Likely due to difficulties making her size work, Ginormica - the actual main protagonist of the movie - is absent from the former game altogether and relegated to a background appearance in Gallaxhar's Spaceship in the latter game.

    Western Animation 
  • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue features Huey, Dewey, and Louie to represent DuckTales (1987), but not Scrooge McDuck. Likewise, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) don't get to appear in the special, but Michelangelo does. Finally, Slimer from The Real Ghostbusters shows up, but not the Ghostbusters themselves.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Crossover Nexus" averts this with K.O. and Ben Tennyson, but plays it straight with Garnet (who is the leader of the Crystal Gems, but not the protagonist; that honor obviously going to the titular Steven) and Raven (whose leader is Robin), not to mention all of the various cameos in the episode.
  • Downplayed in the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "Hear All, Trust Nothing", which crosses over with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Mariner is present, but she's instead relegated to a B plot and only goes onto the eponymous station at the very end of the episode (previous episodes had established that she had been stationed there in the past, so she had less interest in going than the rest of the crew).
  • A planned episode for the scrapped Atlantis: The Lost Empire TV series would have had Team Atlantis visiting Paris and running into Demona from Gargoyles, with Goliath and the rest of his clan absent, as at that point in time they would have still been under the effects of the Magus' spell and sleeping on Castle Wyvern.