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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.

This trope can easily invoke Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros." and Adaptation Displacement. A character might only have one or two titles to their own, so most people first learn of them from their cameos.

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Compare to Wolverine Publicity, Public-Domain Character, and Continuity Cameo, if this guy's purpose is to establish continuity between different works.


Examples:

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    Anime and 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 — Animated 
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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.

    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 the best cameos are in the Super Smash Bros. series, where his game got content 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.
  • Sega:
  • SNK:
    • Ryo Sakazaki from Art of Fighting series is known as this for SNK, having more appearances in other titles than his own series (not counting The King of Fighters of course): as a Secret Character in some Fatal Fury games: in FF2/Special and in Wild Ambition (here as Mr. Karate II), as the only known character in the Original Generation roster in Buriki One also as Mr. Karate II (and retuned in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum), and even just mentioned as part of Marco's background story from Garou: Mark of the Wolves (Marco is one of Ryo's students, also appearing in some artworks).
    • G-Mantle was a former mascot of SNK before Terry Bogard that only appeared in SNK's old ads and in-game in Blue's Journey. Cameos are seen in multiple games like Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, The King of Fighters (as an Assist Character in KOF 2000) and even having his own card in the SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash series.
  • 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.

    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.
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    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

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