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Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer

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So, you're watching a new movie and you instantly recognize the guy playing the hero's best friend — he's Bob Smith from your favorite TV show! Wait just a second, you think, you've heard a lot about this movie and you had no idea that he was in it. Why not? It's not like he's appearing in a big part.

Well, it may be because he was effectively unpersoned by the marketing campaign. He wasn't in the trailer, he doesn't have his own action figure and he's not on the poster. But everyone else from the movie is. For some reason, the marketing department has apparently decided that he's Sir Not Appearing In This Trailer.


Usually used purposely to prevent spoilers. Sometimes occurs due to a legal issue with the actor. The typical result is that anyone who absorbs the movie through Popcultural Osmosis will not know the character exists.

This trope is named after the aptly named "Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film" who failed to appear in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, making him actually the opposite of this trope. Contrast Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game, as video games tend to have the exact opposite problem. Compare Dead Star Walking, where an apparently major character is quickly killed for dramatic effect. Contrast Advertised Extra, where a heavily-promoted character barely appears.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kiryuu Michiru and Kiryuu Kaoru of Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star are the Dark Magical Girl Evil Counterparts of Saki and Mai, the original owners of the Frills of Justice, and eventually part of the True Companions. Despite other non-Cure allies Shiny Luminous and Milky Rose getting tons of merchandise and appearing prominently in ads, Michiru and Kaoru may as well not exist to the toy companies and marketing department.
  • Baccano!:
    • While introducing most of the Loads and Loads of Characters in the series, the Title Sequence deliberately leaves everyone's favorite Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire, Claire Stanfield, unmentioned. Not to say that he doesn't a make a visual appearance in it — just look for the redheaded conductor.
    • The same thing happens in the Post-Episode Trailer of episode 8. Episode nine is titled "Claire Stanfield Successfully Completes the Mission", but most of the clips in the trailer focus on Rachel, which helps to hide Claire's identity again. And once again, he does make a small appearance in the trailer — his is the face shown right at the start of it covered in shadows and blood. Yeah, he's like that.
  • The opening credits of Tytania leave out the ostensible protagonist Admiral Fan Hyulick, his entire band of supporting characters, and his love interest entirely.
  • ADV Films' trailer for Cyber Team in Akihabara almost completely leaves out the Divas (arguably one of the more memorable elements of the series): the main character's Diva form only appears briefly, and the character's voiceover doesn't make note of it at all.
  • Close to this is the opening sequence for Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which shows all the major human characters, except for Lynn Minmay.
  • Rei Ryugazaki from Free! is initially not as well-known as the other four main leads due to being added onto the character roster after the original commercial had aired, effectively missing out on the pre-release hype. This is due to him not being in the High☆Speed! Light Novel the series is a successor to. After season 1, though, he is one of the most beloved characters due to his likable and unique personality.
  • Kyoko Sakura of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. A good way to determine if a piece of artwork came out before or after the series is if it features four girls or five - she eases out of this considerably afterward. Until the end of the fourth episode, the only thing she appeared in was a single second of the opening.
  • The trailer for Pokémon The Series: XY ignores the Team Rocket trio, among others; it was probably in favor of previewing the new stuff (i.e. new region, friends, and Pokémon), Ash, Pikachu, and his mother.
  • The opening and the trailers of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha do not feature Precia Testarossa, the Big Bad and Fate's mother. She does appear in the movie trailer.
    • The opening and trailers of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's do not feature Reinforce, despite her being an important member of the Yagami family, making her appearance completely unexpected. She appears in the movie trailer.
    • The second opening of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS features the Big Bad, the Numbers, and the other villains... with the sole exception of Due, who hadn't appeared at that point.
  • It's almost like the marketing of Monster Musume is carrying over to real life the gag of Lala being unnoticed by everyone. She is absent from the trailers, the opening, the official site, almost every piece of promotional material, and her voice actress did not release an Image Song.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has Fafnir. Despite being one of the earliest dragons introduced in-series, he doesn't appear on any of the manga covers (until about 6 volumes after his debut), nor does he get any character art in the anime to himself. The most he gets is a signed shikishi that comes as a bonus with volume 4 of the anime's Blu-Ray release, and even that is shared with Takiya.
  • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, Chiaki Nanami is absent from promotional materials and even silhouetted out in the first episode's intro. This was because Danganronpa 2 had revealed her as an artificial intelligence, so seeing her as a real living person would be a massive shock to the audience.
  • The trailers and all promotional material for the movie of Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head Kidou Kyuukyuu Keisatsu did a good job hiding the existence of Karigari, allowing him to appear only in a scene of old footage from the anime. Karigari actually has a major role in the movie. This was seemingly done to hide the extent of his injuries, leading him to wear a mask over half his face and have one prosthetic hand.
  • Azur Lane: The Animation: The Ironblood nation is one of the four major nations. In the trailers, only one of their members is briefly shown and they get some mentions, but in the actual opening, we get to see more of them.
  • To conceal the First-Episode Twist of Ayakashi Triangle, initial promotional material and the cover of the first volume only shows Matsuri in his male form, not the female one he has from the end of the first chapter onward. Promos tended to recycle the same images even months later, and it wasn't until the second publishing year that Weekly Shonen Jump used female Matsuri as the icon in the table of contents.

    Comic Books 
  • Advertising for Nick Spencer's Spider-Man (as a part of Marvel's 2018 "Fresh Start" initiative) included a wrap-around cover for the first issue, featuring several important people in Peter Parker's life. Mary Jane was noticeably absent, despite her relationship with Peter being a huge focus of the first issue. The closest thing was the editor hinting that Peter might get a new girlfriend. All the secrecy was most likely to preserve the surprise of the long-awaited reunion between Peter and MJ.

    Fan Works 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Movie:
    • Inverted and parodied in the trailer. Bakura is credited as "Sir not appearing in this film." Sure enough, he is not in the movie explained as he is making Zorc and Pals: The Movie, however he still makes a cameo and is credited at the end.
    • This is played with further using Mokuba, as despite having numerous appearances no one is willing to acknowledge he appears in the movie, with everyone saying "Shut up Mokuba" whenever he asks to be in the film.

    Films — Animation 
  • Robin Williams wanted his animated character Genie to be under-emphasized in promotions for Aladdin, because he had done the voicework for less money than usual for someone of his stature, and didn't want them to disproportionately profit from it. However, Disney only followed their contract in word and not spirit,note  and the use of celebrity voices in animated films became an industry staple from about that point onward.
  • The trailers for The Angry Birds Movie have The Blues be completely absent from any scenes, even being edited out of one scene in which they would appear. This is justified as in the movie, they were only hatched in the finale and shown later in The Stinger.
  • The "woodcarver" lady in Brave does not appear in any trailer and is hardly featured on any posters, except a Japanese one. Kind of funny considering she sets off the entire plot in the first place. (In fact, the plot itself is notably absent from the trailers, since Queen Elinor only appears as a human. The trailers suggest the film is just about Merida not wanting to be betrothed.)
  • Radio does not appear on the German VHS cover of The Brave Little Toaster, despite it featuring a few more characters, compared to other foreign releases.
  • Edith does not appear in the trailer or any TV commercials for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. She isn’t even mentioned in the tie-in guidebook for the film!
  • Capture the Flag: The trailer makes no mention of Richard Carson and his plans to mine the Moon for Helium-3, nor that this is the real reason NASA suddenly wants to go back to the Moon after all these years.
  • The trailers for Cars 2 for some reason actually do not show Miles Axlerod anywhere at all, despite him being the creator of allinol and sponsor of the race the plot centers around. Probably because Axlerod is the Big Bad, and Professor Z is The Dragon.
  • The DVD cover of Chicken Little is missing Ugly Duckling. But apparently Morcubine Porcupine was good enough to take her place, despite playing very little part in the movie. Abby is displayed on the back cover, though.
  • Vidia in Disney Fairies, especially in regards to the Tinker Bell movie. Although she is the main antagonist in the movie and an antisocial antihero in the novels, she hasn't appeared in any of the trailers for the movie, had a briefer-than-brief scene in a sneak peek on ABC, and has very little merchandise, all of which appeared at the launch of the line, leaving her none whatsoever for the movie.
  • Early trailers for The Emoji Movie tend to focus on side characters like Mel and Poop rather than the main characters. Gene and Hi-5 got character posters, but Jailbreak didn't.
  • The cover for The Flintstones: Stone Age SmackDown! does not show the main villain of the movie, CM Punk. Punk had quit the WWE and been unpersoned as a result, but the animation and voice over work was already complete and the producers refused to remake the movie based on WWE's pettiness. The best they could do was to remove him from the advertising as much as possible. The cover instead features The Undertaker and Daniel Bryan, despite Bryan only having a brief cameo and neither of the men having a significant number of lines.
  • The earliest trailers for Frozen (2013) focused exclusively on the comic relief side characters Olaf and Sven and barely showed the human leads. The later trailers did focus more on the actual main characters, however.
    • After the film's release, any promotions, whether for merchandise, re-releases, or their appearance in Kingdom Hearts III, tend to leave out Hans, one of the two main human male characters featured in pre-release advertisements, because of his role as a sociopathic villain.
    • Similar to the Hans example, advertising for Frozen II omitted the outfit Elsa wears during "Show Yourself, with the toyline instead using the nightgown she wears while singing "Into The Unknown". This would be averted a week after the film's release, via an ad for the soundtrack, of all things.
  • According to a theatrical trailer of A Goofy Movie, Bobby is more important to the plot than Pete, and PJ doesn't appear at all. In reality, Pete and PJ play a somewhat prominent (though less than on the show, Goof Troop) role in the plot, meeting up with the Goofs before the trip, at the first campground, and at the hotel. Bobby is only at the beginning and the very end, and is there mainly for comic relief, with only one real contribution to the plot (that PJ helped with). The trailer for the sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie shows a decent amount of all of the protagonists, but is lacking in Bradley, the main antagonist of the movie, although this was probably done to prevent spoiling that he was actually a bad guy and not just a rival.
  • Frollo from Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame doesn't appear on the DVD cover and is not mentioned in the plot synopsis on the back, yet he has the most screen time of any villain in the Disney Animated Canon. He used to be displayed on the VHS cover, though.
  • Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary friend in Pixar's Inside Out, was only seen in one or two trailers and was only sporadically featured in promotional materials (such as the tie-in fruit snacks by Kellogg's), despite playing a major role in the film.
  • Kung Fu Panda: In the trailers, Academy-Award winner Dustin Hoffman received billing for his role as 2nd lead Master Shifu.
  • Promotional materials for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks tended to downplay Sunset Shimmer's role on the rare occasions she wasn't omitted entirely, focusing on Twilight and the Humane Six instead. The final film would have the plot centered on Sunset's status as Reformed, but Rejected just as much, if not more, than any other element of the story.
  • The original British title of The Pirates! Band of Misfits was The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, and the British trailer prominently features Charles Darwin, who is one of the main characters. Not only does Darwin disappear entirely from the American trailer, but the word "scientists" is excised from the title entirely. Apparently, science just isn't a box office draw in the United States.
  • The first trailer for DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians is missing Jack Frost, intended as the film's viewpoint character. In fact, it's apparently to the point where Jack has been edited out of shots he appears in the actual film, presumably to focus on getting across the premise of a Holiday flavored superhero team. Given a lot of Jack's angst comes from nobody acknowledging he exists, it's a pretty neat coincidence.
  • With the exception of a brief cameo in a TV spot, Sausage Party's trailers and commercials do not contain Douche in them.
  • Moriarty from Sherlock Gnomes, only appeared in two TV spots for the film, and Reggie and Ronnie also only appeared on one of the film's posters.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse kept a tight lid on its version of Doctor Octopus in its marketing. In the Late-Arrival Spoiler territory, it had many fans unfamiliar with the comics convinced that the blond Peter Parker voiced by Chris Pine and the older, dark-haired version voiced by Jake Johnson were the same person. Jake Johnson recorded some of the other actor's lines exclusively for the trailers to avoid giving this away.
  • One Japanese TV spot for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water did not feature Squidward in it. This was because his voice actor, Rokurou Naya, had died and they had not yet found a replacement.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: The trailers carefully avoided showing any shots of the rejuvenated Gems, especially Spinel, to avoid giving away the plot twist involving such in the first act.
  • In the trailers for Tangled, Big Bad Mother Gothel isn't featured in any of the trailers except for a split second in the second official one. Early trailers also extensively tried to make it look like Flynn Rider was the lead, with much made of how smarmy and how well he could say a one liner. Rapunzel, by contrast, gets one line (of three words) in most of the trailers and ads. This was because Disney didn't like how much money The Princess and the Frog made (it did well, but not the stratospheric levels they wanted), and blamed it on how "girly" it was; therefore, while acknowledging that Rapunzel was in it, they pushed Rider to appeal to boys.
  • None of the Toy Story 3 trailers include Bonnie, the little girl whose mother works at the daycare, despite Andy giving Woody and his friends to Bonnie in the final scene. As a result, the third trailer could make some people believe that her triceratops, Trixie, and Totoro dolls live at the daycare.
  • Transformers: The Movie doesn't even have Optimus Prime in the trailer or on the poster! To compare, Blurr is on both (and his voice actor, John Moschitta, "co-stars" in the film) and he probably has no more than seven lines and an extremely minor role. The characters featured on the poster and in the trailer are almost entirely the new characters introduced in this film — i.e., the newest toys, now available on store shelves.
  • The teaser trailer for Trolls didn't feature the main characters, Branch and Poppy, instead focusing more on a bunch of side characters dancing.
  • The trailers for WALL•E were full of cute robots mooning for their girlfriends, but rather lacking in the person who spent most of his considerable screen time on getting humanity back on track — the Captain. This was deliberate, of course. The morbidly obese appearance of what's left of Humanity was meant to be shocking to the audience, so spoiling it in the trailers would have made very little sense.
  • King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph gets shockingly little screen time in the trailers. Okay, you don't want to give away the twist but throughout the entire movie, he is a crucial figure, which can be rather shocking. Really crucial.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anthony Mackie in The Adjustment Bureau has third billing, but you wouldn't know he's in the film from its advertising. They were likely banking on audience recognition of John Slattery. This was also before Mackie's Star-Making Role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so the marketers might not have thought of him as a recognizable face yet.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Robin Williams was called in as a last minute replacement due to Executive Meddling and Troubled Production. Robin's agent wouldn't let Terry Gilliam credit him or promote the film using his name, so that the studio wouldn't credit him as the star and try to mismarket it as a Robin Williams-type comedy. Williams did the same on Dead Again and The Secret Agent.
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010): More a case of 'Sir Not Appearing In This Poster'; anyone who only saw the advertising campaign would think that it was basically 'Johnny Depp Plays a Weird Guy in a Hat: The Movie'.
  • Probably because she's played by not-a-name actress Greta Gerwig, the trailer for the Russell Brand-led Arthur remake barely includes her character — even though she's the Manchild title character's Love Interest. Instead, the trailer gives priority to his relationships with the woman he doesn't want to marry (Jennifer Garner) and his nanny (Helen Mirren), both of whom also appear on the poster and get higher billing.
  • Dr. Evil was completely omitted from the marketing for the first Austin Powers movie.
  • For some reason, the ads for Bad Teacher focus on just Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel and leave out Justin Timberlake entirely.
  • Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) does not appear at all in the trailer for Batman Returns, even though he is directly responsible for Selina Kyle becoming Catwoman and The Penguin's main scheme for a good portion of the movie was originally his idea. This undoubtedly left many moviegoers confused when they actually saw the film and saw Shreck being set up as almost the main antagonist in the earliest scenes. Not that it was all that difficult for the trailers to ignore his existence, since Shreck really does disappear during the movie's entire second act as the Penguin takes center stage and is only very elliptically referred to by the other characters, only to abruptly reappear for the third act and once again assume a prominent role.
  • Alex, the character in The Big Chill who commits suicide, is only seen with slit wrists. All of his scenes in the movie that were performed by Kevin Costner, were dropped from the film.
  • Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show fame) doesn't appear in the theatrical trailer for Big Daddy, even though his character is The Lancer, the movie's plot hinges on Adam Sandler impersonating him, and he even serves as The Cavalry during the courtroom climax.
  • There was surely more than one viewer who was astonished to discover that Winona Ryder was in Black Swan.
  • Blades of Glory tended to overlook the Van Waldenbergs in their advertisements. This was despite them being the main villains and Love Interest of the movie and all three being played by relatively well-known and funny actors. In an even stranger case, some TV and online ads left out Jon Heder despite being the film's second billed actor.
  • In the sequel to The Boondock Saints, Willem Dafoe's character is mentioned early on as having died recently. As it turned out, he faked his own death, but we don't find this out until nearly the very end of the movie. Not only did they avoid putting Dafoe in any promotional material, but they made a big deal of how they had wanted him to return for the sequel but he had declined, making the quick early reference to his death look like their cheap way out of not having his character in the movie.
  • Bridesmaids is a pretty extreme case of Never Trust a Trailer anyway, but almost all of the ads leave out Chris O'Dowd as the main Love Interest in the film.
  • Jack Nicholson had a prominent role in Broadcast News, but he didn't want to be credited because he didn't want to divert the attention from the eventual Academy Award nominated trio of Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks.
  • Ninja and Yolandi (the husband and wife duo who form Die Antwoord) were originally supposed to be featured on the posters for Chappie, but due to a falling out between the duo and director Neill Blomkamp, the finalized posters ended up omitting them completely (with the trailers even downplaying their presence in the film). The DVD/Blu-ray cover art only features Chappie alongside Dev Patel and Hugh Jackman - while both played key characters (Chappie's creator and arch-nemesis respectively), they are not as prominent in the movie as Ninja and Yolandi, who are the ones who spent the majority of the screen-time with Chappie as his adoptive parents.
  • Bryan Cranston is nowhere to be seen in the trailers for Larry Crowne, Contagion, Drive and Red Tails, despite playing major roles in all four films.
  • Many trailers of The Dark Knight went to great lengths to avoid mentioning that Harvey Dent became Two-Face in that movie, leading many fans to assume he was being set up as the Big Bad of the next one.
  • Every Torchwood fan who saw The Dark Knight Rises were shocked to see Burn Gorman in a pretty big role as Stryver, a corrupt corporate rich guy.
  • The Juggernaut was omitted from almost all of the marketing for Deadpool 2, likely to make his appearance a surprise for audiences.
  • Chris Messina is in none of the trailers for Devil, despite being the star of the film, and the only name as of its release. Instead, the main focus is placed on the action in the elevator and its cast of unknowns and character actors.
  • Another case of 'Sir Not Appearing On This Poster' is The Dilemma. One would not even know that it is an ensemble film with Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah and Channing Tatum in the cast (instead, the poster just shows Vince Vaughn and Kevin James grinning).
  • In Earthquake, there is a scene in a bar where a drunk is talking, and it turns out to be Walter Matthau, but because of contractual obligations, they can't refer to him directly, so in the credits he's called Walter Matuschanskayasky, supposedly his real name, but in fact it wasn't and this spawned its own urban legend.
  • Executive Producer Mel Brooks deliberately kept his name away from the ads for David Lynch's The Elephant Man and David Cronenberg's The Fly, out of fear that people would get the wrong idea about the movies in question. When his involvement in The Fly became public knowledge, he made the most of it and attended the premiere passing out plastic antennae. Boy, was that audience in for a surprise.
  • Nathaniel in Enchanted. The trailer shows Giselle, Prince Edward and Queen Narissa come out of the manhole and then goes on to show several Fish out of Water scenes with only them. This despite the fact that Nathaniel is pursuing Giselle through New York for most of the movie and Narissa herself comes through only at the end. Possibly because if the audience did see him, they'd shout out "Hey, what's Peter Pettigrew doing there?"
  • Although Hayden Panettiere is actually billed in the trailer (and on the posters) for the 2011 US release of Fireflies in the Garden - along with Ryan Reynolds (the film's star), Willem Dafoe, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Watson and Julia Roberts - and does have a fairly large supporting role in the film itself. This may have something to do with the film having been made when she was somewhat younger than she is now (the movie was filmed in 2007).
  • Despite being the actual main character of The Forbidden Kingdom, Jason Tripitikas is almost entirely excised from the trailers, instead choosing to focus on being the first movie to feature Jet Li and Jackie Chan together, and their characters' animosity towards each other. The actual plot of the movie and the fact that it involves a white kid from Boston in a fantasy version of Ancient China is brushed aside.
  • Charlize Theron's character in Hancock was completely absent from the original trailers, as was any indication that Hancock was not a one of a kind superhero. Thus, when the ads for the DVD came out showing her and her role, many people who hadn't seen the movie thought it looked like a completely different movie.
  • Paul Giamatti wasn't shown in the trailers for The Hangover Part II despite being the biggest name in the film.
  • While Dileep Rao appeared in the group poster, had one line in the trailer, most people didn't know he was in Inception, because his name failed to appear in the billing. This was despite the fact that he was the Chemist, without which the entire heist that Cobb planned would have been impossible. More than one fan felt that he got shafted.
  • Olivia Wilde isn't in the trailer for Her, although she plays a fairly minor role.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Azog is completely absent from any promotional material for the first film despite being the main antagonist of The Hobbit film trilogy. The reason for this is that he went through several redesigns during the production and his look was finalized only two months before the premiere, after main trailers have been already released.
  • Both viable candidates for the role of protagonist in Inglourious Basterds — Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) and Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) — are entirely eclipsed in trailers by Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine, who has both less screen time and a less important role in the plot of the movie than either of them. The only other important characters, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) and the English agent Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), also fail to appear. However, this might not be because of Pitt’s star power but because of the fact that about 30% of the film is in English and he’s the most prominent character who speaks it exclusively.
  • The real villain (played by Michael Luckett) doesn't even appear in trailers for The Intruders.
  • Jack the Bear hides the main antagonist , Neo-Nazi neighbor Norman Strick (Gary Sinise), making it seem like it's just a Danny DeVito Slice of Life drama.
  • Jackass: Number Two inverts this trope, though not intentionally. Vincent "Don Vito" Margera is shown in the trailers for the film, but following a court order in the wake of a child sex offense conviction that mandated he not portray the character in public, he was removed from the movie (though the trailers remained unaffected). In particular, the Lamborghini Tooth Pull was originally done by Don Vito for this movie, but was later redone with Danger Ehren in Jackass 3D (while Don Vito was still on probation). Sadly, Don Vito passed away the year before his probation would have ended, and thus, a year before he could have safely taken up the role again (and the footage would probably have been released).
  • Amanda Seyfried is billed prominently in the ads for Jennifer's Body, but the entire focus of the advertising campaign was put on Megan Fox (she was the only person who appeared in the posters), making it look as though Seyfried's character was only a supporting role, as opposed to the film's protagonist. Although slasher movie promotion traditionally focuses its marketing on the monster (which Fox's Jennifer is), and not on the victims that are technically the protagonists.
  • Nicole Kidman was left off of all marketing on Just Go with It due to her status as box office poison. Rather, more of the focus was placed on newcomer Brooklyn Decker.
  • Kick-Ass seems to be an interesting case of this. From the trailer you'd think Red Mist was a fairly minor character, as he was in the comic. However, the movie actually fleshed him out far more, and gave him a lot of screen time to himself.
  • Did anyone know Edward Norton's in Kingdom of Heaven? He plays a near-unrecognizable victim of leprosy who spends most of the movie wearing a large metal mask.
  • Logan has a surprise villain in X-24, who was kept completely out of trailers, TV spots and online advertising.
  • Elmer Fudd in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. He is a fairly prominent character in the film, but instead of showing him on the cover or any promotional material, apparently the artists felt Tweety and the Road Runner, both of whom barely appear in the film, had to be in it.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor:
      • All of the promotional material left out major supporting characters like Lady Sif (except for one brief shot) and two-thirds of the Warriors Three (except for Hogun, who did and said the least). Even Asgard itself may qualify because almost all of the trailers made it look like very little of the plot took place there.
      • Loki appeared in only one or two shots in just about all of the trailers and TV spots for Thor, even though he became the film's main villain. This may have contributed to how Loki became this movie's (and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's) Ensemble Dark Horse—people simply had very few (or very low) expectations for him and were presently surprised with the results.
    • The Avengers:
      • Despite appearing in the teaser that played after Captain America: The First Avenger, Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill did not appear at all in the full trailer. Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson was also only seen very briefly (from the back), although you can hear his voice.
      • Speaking of the teaser, while every other member of the Avengers were shown, the Hulk was absent. Bruce Banner appeared in a few shots, though. This is likely due to the fact that the movie wasn't finished filming by that point and the special effects were not ready.
      • In both the teaser and the first full trailer, Loki's mystery-army is absent, although there are several shots of people reacting to it coming to Earth, making it all the more mysterious. This was likely done on purpose to continue the speculation surrounding it.
      • The cover of the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack does not have Nick Fury, Black Widow, or Hawkeye on it, even though they do appear on the theatrical poster (recycled for the 3-D Blu-Ray cover and the thumbnail of the digital copies) and the Vanilla Edition DVD cover.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • Ultron did not appear on the main one-sheet (though he did receive his own poster) aside from his sentries in the air, requiring Marvel to Photoshop him into the picture when they recycled it for home video releases.
      • In North America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury do not appear on the DVD cover. However, the 2-D and 3-D Blu-Ray cases do show them, as does the thumbnail for the Disney Movies Anywhere digital copy (which resembles the 2-D Blu-Ray cover). In some other countries, Widow, Hawkeye, and Fury appear on the 2-D Blu-Ray cover, but not that of the 3-D version.
    • Probably due to the truly insane amount of characters, the marketing for Captain America: Civil War is rife with this:
      • The first trailer completely omits Ant-Man, The Vision, Crossbones, Spider-Man, and Baron Zemo, the Big Bad of the film.
      • Scarlet Witch does appear in the trailer, but was absent from many of the early promotional and merchandising images.
      • The poster designed for use in theaters and concession products has all of the heroes but Spider-Man and Ant-Man.
      • Due to contractual issues between Marvel Studios and Sony, Spider-Man was absent from pretty much all of the promotional material for the film, which includes toy lines and promotional images (in addition to the above mentioned trailers and posters) and even the official home releases' covers.
      • Spider-Man was actually edited out of several shots in the trailer that he appears in the film proper, notably the two sides running at each other scene.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
      • Red Skull’s appearance in this film was a closely guarded secret, catching every fan by surprise.
      • Eitri’s appearance was kept a secret as well, with even his casting not being announced before release.
      • Inverted, as well. Hawkeye appeared in the first poster, but didn’t appear in the film.
      • Loki had about the same screentime in the film as Black Panther, Groot, Nebula, Okoye and War Machine (3:00-3:30) and more than Wong, Falcon or Bucky, but unlike all of them he never got a character poster nor made it to any of the "group" posters, and was mostly absent from trailers and other promotional material, likely because he dies in The Teaser.
    • Avengers: Endgame:
      • Most of the dead characters (with the exclusion of Peter Parker and Shuri whose photos were shown) were not featured in the first official trailer, though many of them are known to be in it in some capacity. Even some of the characters who survived Avengers: Infinity War were missing, such as Rocket and War Machine.
      • Captain Marvel doesn't appear in the first trailer, or the Super Bowl commercial. It took until a sneak preview of the film during the credits of her solo film for her to be shown to part of Endgame at all.
      • While Bruce Banner in his Professor Hulk form was prominent in promotional artwork, he was not featured in promotional movie footage at all, to the point where he's even edited out of the ones he does appear in.
  • Sort of happens in New Year's Eve. Depending on the commercial, Sarah Jessica Parker's part was downplayed. Also, there are so many characters and cameos in the movie (because of the All-Star Cast) that quite a few of them never make it into the commercials.
  • Inverted in Alain Resnais' Pas Sur La Bouche (Not on the lips). The trailer features André Dussolier, a regular Resnais cast, ranting about not being in this particular Resnais movie, and making snide remarks on the featured actors.
  • The trailers for Pain and Gain do not show Michael Rispoli's character, who is a major part of the film's third act. In fact, the magazine that covered the original story (The Miami New Times) the film is based on actually thought that the film reduced the two crimes into one based on the trailers.
  • Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean. After all, who wants to see a stuffy British officer in a movie about pirates? Other than the fangirls, that is. He was downplayed in the first three films, yet served as a secondary/important villain in the first two, and had a Heel–Face Turn in the third.
  • Puppy Swap Love Unleashed: The trailer does not include Powers, aside from his voice announcing Jessica's publicity tour being heard, nor does it include Sally Ann or Powers' assistant who accompanies Jessica on her tour.
  • Gary Sinise appears in just one shot in the trailers for Ransom. Like many above, he's the main villain.
  • Brian Cox in Red. He didn't appear in any of the trailers or posters but plays a very large and significant role in the movie. Especially since he also fits the bill (i.e. Retired Extremely Dangerous), even though he's not actually retired.
  • Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs is conspicuously absent from most posters, some of which even say 'Five men...' instead of six. Also, Joe and Nice Guy Eddie (because they don't fit the naming convention) often aren't in posters that contain much more minor characters, Mr. Brown and sometimes Blue, who do fit.
  • Likewise, Kevin Bacon is also noticeably absent from the trailers and commercials for R.I.P.D., despite once again being the main villain.
  • Though Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Poster: the film poster for Scary Movie doesn't feature protagonist Cindy Campbell - probably because then-unknown Anna Faris wouldn't attract as many moviegoers as co-star Shannon Elizabeth. The DVD tries to fix it.
  • In the posters for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, they consistently show the seven evil exes - and leave off Scott Pilgrim whenever they can. It's believed that after a few obvious flops (like Year One which was made after Scott Pilgrim, but released first) they considered Michael Cera box-office poison, and tried to hide him.
  • A deliberate example is Kevin Spacey as the killer in Se7en, who was excluded from all promotional material and even the opening credits to avoid giving away his identity before he appears. Spacey himself insisted on the anonymity prior to the film's release. He made no mention of his involvement with the film until after it was released. The producers had wanted him to have top billing. Dedication to his craft indeed.
  • Inversion: while it may not be a person per se, the USS Voyager from Star Trek: Voyager is almost a character on its show. She appeared in several teaser trailers for Star Trek: First Contact (which is based on a previous Star Trek show), despite not appearing in the film at all. Not to mention that her trailer scenes were especially made just for the trailer.
  • For the advertising of Star Trek (2009):
    • McCoy seemed to get little attention at all despite being the third piece of the Holy Trinity of Trek. Instead, they seemed to give all his advertisement time to Zoe Saldana's Uhura. Don't worry, however — good ol' Bones did have a substantial role in the film after all. RedLetterMedia theorized that having Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on the poster would make the movie seem a little.. gay, so only in advertising, Smurfette Uhura is given a visibility upgrade and McCoy is featured far less. He notes that the movie takes pains through dialogue and scenes to inform the audience that everyone is attracted to the opposite gender.
    • Leonard Nimoy was also left out of the trailers and the posters. Of course, the whole point was that his appearance was supposed to be a surprise.
  • Peter Weller was explicitly left out of trailers for the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, despite having a major role in the film as Starfleet Admiral Marcus. This is because he's part of the film's Big Bad Ensemble, alongside John Harrison/Khan.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Emperor in Return of the Jedi. He's been treated more kindly since the prequels came out, but the original promotion of Jedi in 1983 seemed to go out of its way to ignore his existence. He didn't show up on any of the posters (in fact, one poster shows his throne room without his chair) and the trailers only ever showed Darth Vader or Jabba the Hutt when a word like "evil" or "villain" was mentioned. Presumably, the marketing department wanted to continue portraying Darth Vader as the Big Bad and the existence of the Emperor kind of got in the way.
    • The Force Awakens:
      • Luke Skywalker's near-complete absence in the official trailers note  and posters did not go unnoticed, of course, leading many to wonder just what Skywalker's role in this film is — although interestingly, Mark Hamill is given second billing on the poster. The reason is Luke has disappeared and the driving force of the movie is finding him. He only appears in the very last scene, and doesn't talk, so his absence in the trailers is entirely justified — it's the billing that's off.
      • Maz Kanata doesn't appear in any of the trailers aside from a Missing Trailer Scene where her hand can be seen passing Anakin's lightsaber to Leia.
  • James Woods was notably absent from the trailer for 1992's Straight Talk despite being the main male character and second only to Dolly Parton in the credits.
  • Suicide Squad (2016) has Incubus, brother of Enchantress who acts as The Dragon to her.
  • The Superman III Deluxe Edition DVD cover shows Superman looming above the Corrupt Corporate Executive and two of his Mooks. Conspicuously absent is Gus Gorman, even though he has so much screentime, his actor (Richard Pryor) receives second billing in the opening credits.
  • Inverted with Takers; Zoe Saldana does appear in the trailer but she isn't billed, despite being one of the biggest names in the film!
  • Amy Adams in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Rather, the girl shown in the trailers and posters is Leslie Bibb (who disappears midway through the film).
  • The T-800 in Terminator Salvation. Particularly that he has Schwarzenegger's face.
  • Bill Murray originally never appeared in any of the original trailers of Tootsie. Only when the film hit premium cable and video stores did subsequent trailers depict his character.
  • The trailers and promotional media for Transformers: Dark of the Moon made it seem as Shockwave was the film's main villain. Then again, it must have helped Sentinel Prime's Face–Heel Turn to become a twist (the character only appeared in the teaser trailer, with no clear indication of who he was). What's interesting about the teaser trailer is that Sentinel Prime sports a golden body armor, but in the film his armor is red. This may have either been because they were still unsure about Sentinel's appearance or that they deliberately re-colored him to keep his identity ambiguous.
  • The original trailer and promotional material for TRON: Legacy went out of their way to avoid indicating who or what the villain of the film would be. It wasn't revealed until a few weeks before the film was released that Flynn's A.I. doppelganger CLU would be the Big Bad, and that was only after the release of the tie-in comic book Tron: Betrayal and video game Tron: Evolution which made it pretty explicit that Clu would be the movie's villain.
  • Tom Cruise only appears in Tropic Thunder trailers from after the film's wide release. Ben Stiller wanted him to be a surprise for audiences when they recognized him. He said in interviews that he was disappointed that reviewers and critics gave the game away. While this was a letdown on the filmmaking side, the giveaway that Cruise was in the movie played a big role in its success.
  • There is very little footage of Ozymandias in any of the trailers for Watchmen. This is because 90% of his scenes are after he is revealed as The Chessmaster.
  • The Wonder Woman (2017) movies are fond of this trope:
    • In trailers for the first film, David Thewlis is not featured in any trailers or marketing for the movie. He ends up playing Ares The Man Behind the Man of the film; the trailers lead you to believe that General Ludendorff played by Danny Huston is the real Big Bad of the film. Mind you, the film itself heavily implies that General Ludendorff is Ares in disguise; the twist isn't revealed until the final battle.
    • The trailers for Wonder Woman 1984 spend most of the time focused on Barbara Minerva, suggesting that Wonder Woman's archenemy Cheetah is the main villain of the film. The villain turns out to be Maxwell Lord, but since he's a Non-Action Big Bad, Cheetah exists primarily so that Diana has someone on her level to fight.
  • Kevin Bacon is barely in any of the promotional materials for X-Men: First Class despite having a prominent role as the main villain of the film. He's hardly noticeable on the very crowded poster and doesn't seem to be in any trailers or commercials.
  • Most everyone who has seen Zero Dark Thirty has expressed surprise to see John Barrowman in it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Beth is missing from most promos and team shots of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, and even from the Poorly Disguised Pilot.
  • Many Disney Channel promotional materials will often omit members of the main cast (i.e. Hal Sparks frequently being absent from Lab Rats promo photos). Usually this is to emphasize the young actors and/or the actors that play teenagers to appeal to their primary demographic of six-to-fourteen-year-olds. Perhaps the most glaring case was Veronica Dunne (who plays the title character's mother) not being on several K.C. Undercover material despite her getting second billing. In the case of Wizards of Waverly Place, it's somewhat justified due to Jennifer Stone's character not being part of the Russo family, but given that the character appeared on most material despite being in the exact same position (and she was billed fourth), it's a little hypocritical.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the 1980s, the Master would often be disguised in his plots against the Doctor. Since the show was serialized at the time, it would often be the case that the disguise hadn't been revealed to the audience prior to the end of part one. As a result, a pseudonym would be used in the credits for actor Anthony Ainley.
      • While fans knew that John Simm would be returning in "World Enough and Time", his Master didn't appear in any promotional photos of the episode per se... but his disguise did, leaving fans to be shocked when Mr. Razor taunts Missy and asks her if she still loves disguises, before ripping his mask off.
    • The same goes for Davros, whose actor Terry Molloy had his name listed in the credits under the anagram "Roy Tromelly" to avoid spoiling his big reveal in part four of "Remembrance of the Daleks".
    • Although technically not a trailer, copies of the Series 4 opener "Partners in Crime" sent to media for review omitted a scene in which Rose Tyler appears; although actress Billie Piper's return to the series had already been spoiled in the press, her wordless cameo in the first episode managed to arrive spoiler-free, in part due to her scene being omitted.
    • "The Pandorica Opens": Rory was omitted from the trailer and cast list to keep his resurrection a secret.
    • While the audience were aware that Jenna Coleman was cast as Clara, the trailers for "Asylum of the Daleks" purposely left out any scenes of her appearing as "Oswin", in order to surprise the audience and make her death even more unexpected.
    • Although it had been well-reported that John Hurt would be appearing in the 50th anniversary special by the time this aired, what was not announced was that Hurt would also appear in "The Name of the Doctor".
    • Tom Baker and Peter Capaldi's cameos in "The Day of the Doctor".
    • Karen Gillan was not mentioned at all in the promotional material for the 2013 Christmas special "The Time of the Doctor". Her character, Amy Pond, appeared at the very end to say goodbye to the Doctor.
    • The trailer and posters for "Mummy on the Orient Express" make it seem as though Clara Oswald isn't in the episode, because the previous episode, "Kill the Moon", ends on her and the Doctor having a massive argument and her storming out of the TARDIS. She's in it, and plays a major role.
    • Series 11 trailers and promotional materials had the TARDIS either outright absent or only in the background of some images, leading to theories that, after the cliffhanger ending of "Twice Upon a Time", she would be missing for most of the season. She's back at the end of the second episode, "The Ghost Monument".
    • Sacha Dhawan was completely absent from any and all Series 12 promotional material before the premiere of part one of "Spyfall", including trailers, promotional images and announced cast lists. This was done because his Walking Spoiler character is the latest incarnation of the Master, introduced undercover as an apparent ally of the Doctor's.
  • The trailers of Game of Thrones Season 6 kept emphasizing that Jon Snow is dead and they were very careful of not showing the scenes of him in several important events at the North. In the show itself, it's only at the end of episode two where he was resurrected by Melisandre and spent the rest of the season gathering forces to drive the Boltons out of Winterfell.
  • The trailer for season 4 of Heroes curiously leaves out any scenes of Mohinder, despite being rather long and featuring every other main character prominently (plus several new ones) and the actor confirming that he's returning. This gives the overall impression he's not part of the season. He appeared eventually, dead three months before the start of the events of the new season. He got better.
  • The promos for Season 3 of House of Cards (US) avoided showing Doug Stamper, who survived his apparent death in Season 2. He does technically appear once, but only as an unrecognizable silhouette.
  • The Child (aka Baby Yoda) plays a major part in the plot of The Mandalorian, but was completely omitted from the marketing for season one, most likely to avoid spoilers.
    • Ditto Luke Skywalker's shocking return in the Season 2 finale. It's pretty impressive that though fans got word early of the involvement of Rosario Dawson, Temuera Morrison, and Katee Sackhoff as Ahsoka, Boba Fett, and Bo-Katan respectively, the creators were able to keep the aforementioned character's return a secret. Notably, Mark Hamill falsely claimed that he had retired from the role in order to preserve the twist, Luke is never mentioned or spotted in the "Making of" documentary for season two, and Katee Sackhoff herself didn't even know about Luke's appearance until the final episode aired.
  • The presence of Angel Coulby (Guinevere) in Merlin trailers and promotional material is always played down, leading to some Unfortunate Implications considering she's the only non-white main character. However, it would seem that those in charge of this sort of thing are finally starting to make an effort to include her: in 2012 she finally appears on the cover of the DVD, her character finally becomes an action-figure, and she was invited to Comic Con for the first time in 2012. It would seem that her upgrade in status on the show (Guinevere is crowned queen at the end of series 4) means more attention paid to the actress. However, this may have simply been because she didn't really have much focus until she became Arthur's Love Interest in Series 2, but still didn't really qualify as one of the major players like Arthur, Merlin or Morgana until after she becomes The High Queen in Series 5.
  • The character of Caliban was purposely left out of the trailers and promotional material for Penny Dreadful, so as to make his first appearance all the more surprising. Said appearance being when he showed up at the end of the second episode, firstly brutally killing Proteus and secondly showing us that Proteus was not the first being Frankenstein made!
  • The Walking Dead had a difficult task creating a trailer for its seventh season without including any footage of most of the main cast. The sixth season ended on a cliffhanger where one of the main characters, unknown to the viewer, was beaten to death with a baseball bat. Even though dialogue from the final scene of season six made it impossible for Rick or Carl to be the victim, they too were omitted from the trailer.
  • Out of the entire main first-year cast of Wasteful Days of High School Girls, Lily was the only one who's conspicuously absent from all promotional materials and trailers of the live-action adaptation. In fact, she wasn't even included in the cast announcements up until her introductory episode, where she's revealed to be played by Yui Kobayashi, leading to many viewers believing that she was Adapted Out.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Justified when a pay-per-view event is supposed to have a big surprise ending. Take WWE's 2008 Royal Rumble, for instance: Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, Edge, Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Jericho, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Ric Flair, and Montel Vontavious Porter were promoted as the stars of the show. In retrospect, however, the big scene-stealer at that event proved to be John Cena, who won the Rumble match despite nobody expecting him to even show up! To further explain, Cena was sidelined by an injury only three months earlier and was supposed to be gone for at least six months (WrestleMania time). He came in, completely healed and at number 30, completely shocking everyone off of their seats! There's a reason every live event poster and commercial includes the phrase "Card Subject To Change". WWE tours around 300 days a year and injuries and life can get in the way.
  • Inverted in the case of SummerSlam 2013: the DVD cover immediately gives away the surprise ending! (Especially annoying because that pay-per-view technically had three surprise endings, and the cover gives them all away!)

    Puppet Shows 
  • Many of the Fraggle Rock DVD releases from Hit! Entertainment don't include Mokey on the covers, despite her being one of the main five Fraggles. One cover even removed Mokey from an image she was originally part of. This might be because Mokey is literally the least colorful of all the Fraggles, looking almost like an old woman with gray hair, and thus the character least likely to make kids want the video.

  • None of the advertisements for The Lion King show Timon, Pumbaa, or the hyenas.
  • Cirque du Soleil tends to downplay or leave out its shows' clowns in advertisements in favor of focusing on the glamorous and attractive acrobats/dancers, even if the clowns are key to the Excuse Plot (some are the Audience Surrogate lead characters) and/or turn out to be audience favorites.
  • Referenced by Spamalot, the musical adaptation of the Trope Namer. The aptly named Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Show (who resembles Don Quixote) walks onstage, realizes his mistake, and promptly exits.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed I, Desmond Miles, the real-life protagonist is never shown in gameplay trailers or game footage for any installments of the series, though this is partly because his part of the game is purely exposition and that it's still technically a twist if you haven't played the first game yet. That was part of the game's mystique: the original trailers showing Altaïr would suddenly distort and get static from the Animus, hinting that there was more to the game than first appeared. And in Assassin's Creed III, Haytham's portion of the game was completely ignored, leaving many fans confused for the first 3 sequences of the game, as they were expecting to be Connor.
  • The only Elite Beat Agents seen in advertising (and Super Smash Bros. Brawl) were J, Derek, Morris, and Commander Kahn. Who would have guessed that there would still be Agent Spin, Agent Chieftain, and the Elite Beat Divas squad?
  • Japanese previews of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn kept secret the fact that Ike and the Griel Mercenaries were going to return in the game.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: In most of the promotional material and in the trailer, Foxy doesn't make an appearance, even when showing the other three animatronics. This may be because Foxy's existence is only revealed on Night 2, and even then he spends most of the game at Pirate Cove. However, he does appear in teaser images and the trailer for the sequel. Two of him, to be precise.
  • Jowd, a character from Ghost Trick, appears in no promotional art created for the game. He's treated much the same way as a Walking Spoiler, despite not qualifying as one.
  • Despite being an important character in the Golden Sun series and a Memetic Badass to the fandom, Kraden didn't even have official artwork until promo material for Dark Dawn, the long-awaited third game.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, most event antagonists will not appear in an event's voice trailer, or preview banners.
  • In Halo, the Flood and their Gravemind, despite being major enemies, never appear in any of the trailers. Likewise, the Arbiter is either completely absent from the trailers for Halo 2, or appears very briefly as a unidentified Covenant Elite. There's nothing to indicate he's actually the game's Deuteragonist, leading to a similar situation to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty when players actually played the game.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Hades, the true Big Bad who is only revealed after a level that could very well be the last.
  • Promotions for Kingdom Hearts III regarding Arendelle do not show Hans in any of them, hiding not only his role in the film, but also that he becomes Sköll, an Omnicidal Maniac Elite Heartless.
  • For the longest time, Garrus Vakarian was this for Mass Effect 2. He wasn't shown in any videos or screenshots outside of when you meet him on Omega for the first time. This to preserve the surprise that he gets half his face blown off shortly after you recruit him. While he's since been shown in screenshots for subsequent DLC... he still doesn't have an official biography on the official website, despite the game being out for several years.
  • Auto in Mega Man 9 does not appear in the character lists of said game in either the official American or Japanese sites. Ironically, while Auto is featured and described in the Wii Operations Guide, Eddie and Beat are not, and no personal information on the Robot Masters was provided. As for non-appearances in an actual trailer, there's Hornet Man, whose silhouette never appears in this video.
  • Mega Man Powered Up, a remake of a game that had only six Robot Masters, promoted the fact that there are two new bosses added to the game, while in reality there were actually three new bosses. Granted, the unmentioned boss was a Warm-Up Boss that doesn't even show up in the Boss Rush challenges, but still…
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden didn't appear in most of the promotional material prior to the game's U.S. release, and the one trailer which featured spoken dialogue by him made him look like an extra instead of a major player. The E3 2001 trailer even went as far as to replace Raiden with Snake in certain cutscenes and gameplay sequences to hide the fact that Raiden is the game's true protagonist, not Snake.
    • Most of the trailers and promotional materials for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots featured all the characters in the game, including bosses, except for Big Boss and Zero.
    • Senator Armstrong never appeared in any of the trailers for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and doesn't even have a character bio on the official website for the game and the only time the character's existence was even alluded prior to the release of the game was in a viral video uploaded on Konami's Youtube channel a year before release. Senator Armstrong is the game's true antagonist and final boss.
    • Ishmael, the character who helps Big Boss escape from the hospital in the prologue portion of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was absent in most of the promotional videos for the game. His most prominent appearance prior to the game's release was in a gameplay demo shown in GDC 2013, which led to plenty of speculation of whether he was a real character in the final game or was made-up for the demo. As it turns out, Ishmael is the real Big Boss and the character you control is his body double.
  • Two of the potential love interests, Isolda and Jeanne, are not present in the January 2018 demo of Missing Stars.
  • The Toy-Con Development Team — Gerry Riggs, Plaise Allatyme, and Lerna Lotte — do not appear in the promotional material for Nintendo Labo. In fact, the player could very well be unaware of the characters' existence until they go through the "Discovery" side of the games.
  • Onmyōji has Kuro Seimei, being the huge-ass Walking Spoiler he is. Noriaki Sugiyama is always only credited as voicing Abe no Seimei and nobody else in all of the game's promo material and events.
  • Goro Akechi from Persona 5 barely appears in pre-release trailers and promotional materials for the game's original release, to the point of not getting his own trailer unlike the rest of the thieves. The promotional material for the game's Updated Re-release averts this, and he appears alongside the rest of the Thieves in several trailers and even got his own character trailer.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon: Dewpider, Araquanid and Dhelmise are among the few non-legendary families not hinted at in pre-release trailers or materials.
    • Both Sun and Moon and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon promotional material leave out one of their games' Totem Pokemon. For Sun and Moon, it was Salazzle. For Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, it was Araquanid.
  • Portal 2:
    • Advertising focuses almost exclusively on Atlas and P-body, and Chell only gets the final released trailer in the spotlight. Atlas and P-body star in the co-op campaign that chronologically takes place after the main single-player game, and Chell doesn't even meet them until the end of her story.
    • Wheatley doesn't appear in any promotional material, despite being a major character.
  • Yuri was left out of original trailers for Shadow Hearts: Covenant, with edited scenes showing Nicolai in his place instead.
  • The trailers for Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time don't show Penelope despite her being a major supporting character and Bentley's girlfriend. It's to hide that she's a sociopathic villain on par with Hans from Frozen (2013), and that the whole game happened because she sold the Cooper Gang out to Le Paradox out of jealousy.
  • The True Final Boss of Spider-Man (PS4), Doctor Octopus never appeared in any of the trailers.
  • Splatoon 2's pop duo Off the Hook, Pearl and Marina, were not announced until a little under a month before the game came out. They are the main NPCs in the game and are the Squid Sisters' replacements.
  • Streets of Rage features Axel and Blaze on the box art, but it does not show Adam, who is the third playable character. Adam does appear on the box art for the Japanese and European versions of the game. The third game's box art shows Axel, Blaze, Dr. Zan, and Roo. Roo is a strange case since he's a hidden character whose unlock conditions are not obvious. Meanwhile, Skate, who is one of the playable characters of the main four, is not featured on the cover, but he takes Roo's spot in the international versions of the game.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Traditionally, most of the unlockable characters were left out of promotional material. Ultimate bucked the trend by revealing the entire base roster pre-release.
    • Back when they unveiled Melee to the public at E3 2001, they showed off the entire starting roster... except for Zelda. Or rather Zelda in her Princess form, as the early previews only showed her Sheik disguise as being playable. It wasn't until near release that the dual-character nature was revealed.
    • When first revealed for Brawl, the normal form of Samus Aran from the previous two games appeared briefly to perform her Final Smash. Apart from her character artwork, no other media featuring Samus in this form was released until the Smash Bros. Dojo finally put up her profile. Take a look at this movie, which was released between the first movie and the Dojo update in question. Do you see any trace of Samus in a Power Suit anywhere? Didn't think so.
    • Relatedly, when the Dojo was relaunched in May 2007, Snake was not featured anywhere on the site, with the exception of E3 and Nintendo World 2006 videos. This means that new media of Snake was not released until Konami decided to show off footage of Snake in Brawl in a conference.
    • For 3DS/Wii U, this fell to Yoshi. He was the only one of the original 8 characters to not appear in any of the game's trailers. Speaking of Yoshi, when the returning veterans for Ultimate were revealed (which was all of them), Yoshi was the very last one to appear.
    • If the trailer in question is pre-rendered CGI, Cloud Strife doesn't appear in it; odds are good that permission to include him in the series at all meant that Smash's artists were barred from recreating him, so he's only visible in gameplay capture when he shows up. Finally defied at the Game Awards of 2020, where fellow FFVII character Sephiroth's trailer showcased both in a loving recreation of their epic battle from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
    • The trailer for Ultimate's story mode "World of Light" featured Galeem as the Big Bad. Or rather one member of the Big Bad Ensemble, as the trailer kept secret the existnence of Galeem's rival Dharkon, who is no less antagonistic towards the Smash roster, and only appears midway through the mode following Galeem's apparent defeat.
  • In the Mann VS Machine trailer for Team Fortress 2, the Pyro, Sniper, and Spy are absent.
  • In the old X-Men arcade game, Mystique does not appear in the Attract Mode with the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants despite being a major villain in the game. This helps conceal a minor plot twist where you appear to rescue Xavier halfway through the game, only for him to stand up in his wheelchair and turn into a laughing Mystique, setting a trap for the X-Men. At the end of the next level, you fight Magneto...and you may realize he only fights with punches and kicks, and sure enough, "he" turns into Mystique upon defeat.

    Web Original 
  • Played ridiculously straight in Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-KIMIA when only 2 protagonists were mentioned in the trailer post out of the more than 10 characters who exist in the web serial.

    Western Animation 
  • DVD covers for The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, as well as promo artwork at iTunes and Netflix, almost always omit Avengers who have yet to receive solo movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • The video cover for Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue does not feature Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), despite including all of the other famous cartoon characters who appear in the special.
  • Elena of Avalor merchandise tends to leave out Esteban, despite the show emphasizing that he's also of equal importance to Elena as her cousin just as much as their grandparents and her sister matter to her, likely because as an older single man, he's not as marketable as Elena, her friends, or what most people think of when they think of family. Ironically enough, Esteban getting the short end of the stick is part of why the show's backstory happened.
  • The promotions for the Futurama episode "Neutopia" got a lot of mileage out of the gender bent Planet Express crew, though what wasn't shown was their genderless forms beforehand. A bunch of minor characters also get subjected to the gender changes, but their forms aren't shown either.
  • The back covers for the Garfield and Friends Volume 5 sets contains pictures for each episode. However, unlike episodes such as "Catch As Cats Can't", which showed an image with Ludloaf in it, none of the pictures for Kevin Meaney's episodes show his character Aloysius Pig. Instead the pictures they showed were Roy with all his feathers off and Wade asking for "a tasty mint" for "Temp Trouble", Orson as Edmond sitting in a prison cell, and Lanolin as Little Miss Muffet sitting with Orson as a spider.
  • The week that Laff-A-Lympics premiered, TV Guide's print ad showed Jeannie and Josie and the Pussycats as members of the Scooby Doobies team. All of which did not appear on the show due to clearance issues with their rights holders (Columbia Pictures, Radio Comics).
  • None of the Muppet Babies video releases from 1993-1994 feature Rowlf, Scooter, or Skeeter on the video packaging.
  • The season two finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was about a sweet, charming wedding between a soon-to-be prince and a princess while the sister of the groom comes to terms with the fact that the fiancé isn't the same nice babysitter she knew when she was young. That's what the trailers advertised, right? Until the princess is revealed to actually be Queen Chrysalis, a shapeshifting Emotion Eater who comes right the hell out of nowhere with an invading army of insect zombie succubus ponies, curb stomps Princess Celestia and lays siege to Canterlot while the ponies fight to rescue the real Princess and save the entire kingdom. What was promised to be a straightforward (and boring) wedding episode instead introduced a genuinely cool and threatening villain, complete with a kick-ass Villain Song, much to the delight of fans everywhere.
  • Robotech II The Sentinels: Mid 80s promotional material from Harmony Gold focused on carryover characters from the 1985 Robotech series. Promotional artwork focused on Rick and Lisa but one popular image did at least include Mirya as well as new characters such as Vince Grant and Jack Baker. Dr. Lang was often omitted despite the fact that he's the Supporting Leader, thus giving the misconception that Admiral Rick Hunter was the supreme leader to begin with. Most notably, T.R. Edwards was never depicted in promo materials despite the fact that he's also a lead supporting character and becomes a main villain later in the series. This might be because Edwards has the look and personality of a character who is likely to do a heel face turn. Edwards is often absent from group shots of all the Expeditionary Force characters, so it's kind of telling that he's not too friendly with them.
  • When Scooby-Doo made it to home video by The '90s and the Turn of the Millennium, Scrappy-Doo, for fairly obvious reasons, often disappeared from promotional material like the DVD art covers. As a rule of thumb, if Scrappy's name wasn't in the title, you didn't have to show him. If he was in the title, it couldn't be helped.note 
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Besides Chopper, Hera was the only member of the Ghost crew that didn't get a Disney Infinity figure (or she would have, had the franchise not been cancelled before the wave she would have arrived in). She also doesn't have her own Forces of Destiny figure, unlike the other female protagonists at the time plus Luke and Kylo Ren!
    • Recurring antagonist Agent Kallus was absent in the first Season 3 trailer, despite appearing in the actual season. Actually, he is in the trailer, just not in person — he's the new Fulcrum.
  • None of the video releases of The Super Mario Bros Super Show! feature images of the live-action segments on the packaging.
  • Despite being portrayed as being major characters in the show's plot, neither Lugnut nor Sari Sumdac appear in the Japanese opening for Transformers Animated.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man only has one of the five main characters, Spider-Man, on the cover of its first DVD released through Disney, with the rest of the space taken up by (albeit more well-known) characters that only appear in one or two episodes, such as Iron Man and Captain America.


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