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Meet R.O.B - Robotic Omnipresent Buddy.note 
"Hello, I'm Troy McClure! You might remember me from such celebrity funerals as "Andre The Giant, We Hardly Knew Ye" and "Shemp Howard: Today We Mourn A Stooge."
— Troy McClure, The Simpsons
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Plenty of characters appear in crossovers and cameos. Sometimes, however, a character will have more cameo appearances than otherwise. This is where this trope comes into play. A non-Public Domain Character appears more in crossovers than they do in their own series (assuming they even have a series to begin with).

This trope can easily invoke Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.", Adaptation Displacement and Iconic Character, Forgotten Title. A character might only have one or two titles to their resume, so most people first learn of them from their cameos. Mascots have a good chance of becoming this, especially if they hail from long dead franchises or are not interesting enough to carry a series on their own.

Compare to Wolverine Publicity, for cameos driven by character popularity, Public Domain Character, for those who can cameo freely due to not being owned by anyone, and Continuity Cameo, if this guy's purpose is to establish continuity between different works.

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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The original Shining Knight, Justin Arthur, made a number of cameo appearances, including the original Seven Soldiers miniseries, but never had a series of his own.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Tick-Tock Crocodile of the Disney version of Peter Pan keeps showing up in miscellaenous Disney properties: the short Goliath II, the Jungle Cubs, Marsupilami and Darkwing Duck TV series; all while he ironically was left out of the actual sequel to the movie, Return To Never Land (aside for a cloud formation at the opening).
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Stan Lee has had a contractually-obligated Creator Cameo in every Marvel production for years up until his death, and even a few non-Marvel works.
  • Alfred Hitchcock had a cameo in every movie he directed, but in a non-obvious way so people would try to find him. To the point that after a while he decided to always have his cameo during the first minutes of the movie so people would not waste time searching for him after a while.
  • M. Night Shyamalan cameos in nearly every film he has been involved in.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • Greg Leisz got his start touring with John Stewart (formerly of the Kingston Trio) and was a member of the Funky Kings, who only put out one album before breaking up. Since then, he's bounced from band to band, sometimes touring with them and sometimes just recording in the studio. He's credited as a guest musician on hundreds of albums by dozens of different artists.
  • John Mark Painter has just four albums to his name (two as the duo Fleming & John, and an album and EP as a member of Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil), but has played as a studio musician on over a hundred other albums.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus is more known for being Miley Cyrus's dad and his collaboration with Lil Nas than his own music career. To be fair he was a one hit wonder, his big claim to fame before Miley Cyrus's career took off was being "The achy breaky heart guy"

    Video Games 
  • Nintendo:
    • Kirby: Rick, Kine and Coo only appeared as characters in 3 games so far: Dream Land 2, DL3 and Star Allies. But in between them, they also have made many cameos, such as part of Kirby's Stone forms, background cameos, or as collectable icons
    • The Robotic Operating Buddy was released with only two compatible games (Gyromite and Stack-Up) and was swiftly forgotten as the Nintendo Entertainment System took off in popularity. Nowadays, R.O.B. is best known for his cameos in multiple Nintendo games, including his playable appearances in Mario Kart DS and Super Smash Bros..
    • Takamaru from The Mysterious Murasame Castle only appeared in one game of his own in 1986, which was exclusive to Japan and only localized in 2014. In Pikmin 2, the floppy disk of his game appears as one of the treasures, and it kickstarted his career of cameos, like an important role in Captain Rainbow, his own game mode in Samurai Warriors III, a mini-game in Nintendo Land, and small appearances in WarioWare and Super Mario Maker 2. But most appearances are in the Super Smash Bros. series, where his game got content like a Sticker, a Trophy, a Spirit, two music tracks, and he appeared two times as an Assist Trophy; there is a modest, but growing fanbase asking for him to become a playable character in Smash.
    • Lip, the heroine of Panel de Pon, has similarly appeared in just one game of her own that was given the Dolled-Up Installment treatment with characters from Yoshi's Island and released internationally as Tetris Attack, the original game not being brought over until 2020—25 years after its initial release date. Despite that, she has a surprisingly broad range of cameos: Lip not only appears alongside Takamaru in Captain Rainbow, but features as an unlockable costume in Animal Crossing: New Leaf as a reward for the Animal Crossing Puzzle League minigame. Again like Takamaru, it's in Super Smash Bros. where she gets the most representation by far, receiving an item, a music track, a Mii costume, and a spirit to her name (the latter marking the character's first-ever genuine appearance outside of Japan). Like Takamaru, she's picked up a burgeoning group of fans hoping to see her get Promoted to Playable in the Smash series.
    • Due to Splatoon's runaway success, the series has received a number of crossovers despite only having two games thus far. Inklings have been playable in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with amiibo costumes in Yoshi's Woolly World and Super Mario Maker. The series's biggest crossovers have been in the Animal Crossing series — unsurprisingly, as both series are directed by Hisashi Nogami — which features Splatoon-themed furniture and clothing items, villagers based on the Squid Sisters, and a full-on Splatoon 2 Fishing Tourney in Pocket Camp. Outside of video games, the games themselves have also become a frequent target of Lawyer-Friendly Cameos in anime and manga — which has in turn crossed over into the West with the game making an appearance in a We Bare Bears short.
  • Sega:
  • SNK:
  • The Lost Vikings haven't had a game since 1997, but are the most referenced characters across Blizzard's library. Every one of their games from 2004 onward has featured them or a reference to them in some capacity, including some Interplay games like ClayFighter series.
  • There are only 3 Darkstalkers game so far (excluding rereleases), but Morrigan Aensland appears a lot in crossovers involving Capcom, such as the Marvel vs. Capcom games, Namco × Capcom, Project X Zone and a few others. Demitri Maximoff is not far behind.
  • Shovel Knight's eponymous knight made numerous cameo appearances in other works before Plague of Shadows, the first bonus campaign, was even released.
  • Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures has had a total of four games; Rocket Knight Adventures (Genesis), Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 (Genesis), Sparkster (SNES), and Rocket Knight (Xbox 360, PS3, PC), but he has made cameos in numerous Konami games, including the Sega CD version of Snatcher, Ganbare Goemon 2 (Super Famicom), Mitsumete Knight (PS1), Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2), Krazy Kart Racing (IOS and Android), and New International Track & Field (Nintendo DS), where he appears as an unlockable character.
  • id Software has the Dopefish, a creature who has appeared in a grand total of one game: Commander Keen Episode IV: Goodbye Galaxy. However the creature has made cameo appearances in a lot of games, both created by Id (or Id properties) and not.
  • Ekoro of the Gal*Gun series was only a starring character in Double Peace, and even then she wasn't playable. She's remembered more often for her Guest Fighter appearances in the Mighty Gunvolt series and Blaster Master Zero, where she's considered on par with Inti Creates' greats.
  • Don-chan, the main character of Namco's Taiko no Tatsujin series, is very popular in his home country but very obscure everywhere else. This didn't stop him from appearing in dozens of Namco games, as well as non-Namco games like Mario Kart, Monster Hunter, Yo-Kai Watch, and even Super Smash Bros..
  • "The Baz" (formerly known as Zubaz) sort of originated in Street Fighter II... as a character design who didn't make it past the preliminary sketches. Years later, the Two Best Friends Play spinoff series Fighterpedia featured the Baz in an episode all about rejected Street Fighter characters, and the Best Friends Zaibatsu were so taken with The Baz that they adopted him as a mascot of sorts. Then they used their influence (and/or financial support) to get The Baz into as many indie games as they could, getting him guest roles in games like Shovel Knight, Divekick, and Indivisible, as well as cameos in dozens of other titles. Through sheer luck, the Baz even got a major role in Video Game Championship Wrestling.
  • Pyramid Head of Silent Hill 2 has become the de facto mascot of the franchise, being referenced in later installments as either himself or the "Bogeyman" as well as a major figure in both film adaptations; playable roles in Krazy Kart Racing, New International Track & Field, Super Bomberman R, and Dead by Daylight; and he even had an avatar costume available in Play Station Home. Impressive for a demon who is only supposed to represent the repressed anger/desires of the protagonist of 2.

    Web Animation 
  • In Homestar Runner, the rapper Peacey P is an In-Universe example, who outright calls himself "the best guest rapper in the music biz" and is better known for his guest appearances than for his original songs. When he actually does put out his own album, he features himself as a guest rapper on it.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Late Looney Tunes character Cool Cat only starred in six shorts from 1967 to 1969 (considered by many to be a Dork Age), but he made countless cameos since The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries.
  • An in-universe example from The Simpsons, washed-up actor Troy McClure plays and/or cameos in practically everything, to the point where it's his catchphrase.

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