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Smurfette Breakout

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Pictured above: Captain America: The First Avenger. Pictured below: Spinoffs, Agent Carter short film, Agent Carter TV series, and Peggy Carter of S.H.I.E.L.D. comics.

"Women who are in this sport, I always tell them not to quit too soon. If they work hard, they will eventually go further than many of the men!"
Sweet Nancy on professional wrestling,

It's often that many shows feature a bigger ratio of males to females in their characters, with The Smurfette Principle being pretty widespread. However a lot of the time this can work in favor of the female character. Being the only female in a largely male environment makes her stand out and be distinctive from all the male characters. If the writers have written her well and avoided making the character a Flawless Token, then chances are she will become popular with the viewers. If her popularity rises high enough, she might even become a Breakout Character.

The area in which this is most common is Professional Wrestling. It's a rather frequent occurrence for a woman to be introduced as someone's manager or valet, usually for a tag team, and end up becoming more popular than the wrestlers they're managing. Often if the team splits, the woman will fare much better because she can be integrated into the women's division while the men will often become lost in the shuffle. It also helps that by nature of the beast, a woman with no athletic or mic skills can easily get over with the male-dominated audience if she has enough sex appeal.

Note that this is not simply about a female becoming a Breakout Character. There must be a majority of males compared to females for this to count. The character need not be the only woman on the show either. See also Ensemble Dark Horse and Breakup Breakout.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • There have been plenty of female characters in Lupin III over the decades, but Fujiko Mine is the only one to appear in every version of the franchise. Her fame reached a climax in 2012, when after forty years and much egging by the fans, she had a spin-off series that featured her and the rest of the Lupin gang as a series-long Origins Episode, similar to the Monkey Punch era titled Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
  • Rika Nonaka and Renamon, the only girls in the Power Trio of Digimon Tamers became big breakout characters and are perhaps the most iconic characters not just in Tamers, but the entire Digimon franchise, Renamon especially. During the series 15th anniversary, the duo represented the entire season of Tamers alongside Takato, with Henry curiously absent. Rika was also chosen as the narrator for the English dub of Digimon Frontier instead of Takato, when the previous seasons had only used the goggle boys as narrators.
  • Android 18 from Dragon Ball. She is without a doubt the most popular and well-known of the Androids (excluding Cell) and has been playable in almost every Dragon Ball fighting game on the market; aside from the Z Fighters and the main villains, she is easily the character you can be most assured will be playable.
  • Deedlit of Record of Lodoss War, the work's (early) token female, got her own spinoff manga Deedlit's Tale as well as starring in the 2021 Metroidvania Record of Lodoss War -Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth-.
  • Uta is the only One Piece movie antagonist to be female and she is by far the most popular. The amount of fanart and merchandise she's received in comparison to Shiki or Tesoro is rather staggering.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Gwen Stacy was originally remembered in the 21st century only for being part of Peter's Love Triangle with Mary Jane Watson and then dying. However, her return in adaptations The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man Seriesnote  resulted in Gwen getting fans again and many begging for her to return from the dead. This culminated with Spider-Verse, a massive crossover of all the alternate universe counterparts of Spider-Man, which introduced the Spider-Woman of Earth-65, a universe where Peter died and Gwen gained spider powers. "Spider-Gwen", as she became known, was so popular amongst fans that she received her own comic series, which became the highest debuting comic of 2015. Gwen Stacy later got another spinoff version of herself, Gwenpool, from a variant cover of Deadpool. A far cry from her iconic "death for angst", and ironic considering she was originally killed off due to her lack of popularity compared to Mary-Jane.
    • In practice, Gwenpool is actually a subversion, as the character derived from the variant cover isn't an alternate version of Gwen Stacy: it's a comic book nerd who got stuck in the Marvel Universe whose name literally is Gwen Poole. All the superficial similarities to both characters are "freakish coincidences" and misunderstandings, up to the character having never even read any Deadpool comics. One issue featuring Deadpool even has him point that any casual reader would automatically assume that she's just another alternate Gwen Stacy, if they were even aware of her character existing.
  • Darth Vader: Doctor Aphra, Vader's amoral hired gun with a fondness for treasure hunting, getting rich, and her two disturbingly bloodthirsty droids, became popular with Star Wars fans and received her own spin-off following the next of her interstellar adventures.
  • Blackhawk: Both versions of Lady Blackhawk are more well known than their respective squad members. Zinda Blake, especially, as she became a prominent Birds of Prey member during the 2000s.
  • In Superman comics, female supporting characters Lois Lane and Supergirl are more popular than any male supporting character who isn't called Jimmy Olsen, and they eventually became popular enough to have their own ongoing series. Lois' first book clocked 139 issues before being cancelled, and Supergirl's adventures were published continuously as her own book or as a backup strip during twenty-six years until DC decided to kill her off. Even so, Kara Zor-El was so popular and well-known that DC had to end up bringing her back.
  • Silk Spectre is the best-loved of the Before Watchmen series by the old-school Watchmen fandom.
  • The Scientist Supreme from Marvel comics is really a title given to the heads of AIM throughout comic book history, but for some reason the one female Scientist Supreme, Monica Rappaccini, has been the primary one in other adaptations, from tentpole video game Marvel's Avengers to mobile game Marvel Strike Force.

    Films — Animation 
  • Jasmine from Aladdin is a supporting character, while the main character is the titular Aladdin. That didn't prevent her from being included in the Disney Princess franchise, where she is the only princess in the lineup who isn't the main character from their debut film.
  • Tinkerbell from Peter Pan got her own spinoff franchise in the Disney Fairies. Even before that, she was recognized as one of the company's mascots, even if she was no where near the level of Mickey and his friends. She's easily the most recognisable character from the movie for these reasons.
  • Aisling from The Secret of Kells is the only prominent female character in the film (aside from Pangur Ban, who's a cat), but she's also the most popular character by far, and fans have been calling for a spin-off about her ever since the movie came out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Out of the three leading actors in the Harry Potter movies, Emma Watson has received the most publicity. While Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have gotten a large number of roles, it is Emma who has remained in the public eye the most. She's done quite well for herself alongside her film career, even becoming the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women (part of the United Nations).
  • Agent Peggy Carter, the love interest and only non-bit female character in Captain America: The First Avenger. After her popularity with fans became clear (due in no small part to her actress, Hayley Atwell), Marvel Studios has tried to include her wherever possible. Joss Whedon wrote a deleted scene for her in The Avengers, she's the subject of one of the Marvel One-Shots, and she has cameos in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Ant-Man. To top it off, she was given her very own television miniseries, Agent Carter, making her the first leading lady of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She has or will have more appearances across the franchise than Captain America himself.
  • Despite not being the protagonist and being introduced half an hour into the film, Mako Mori is often considered the most standout character of Pacific Rim, thanks to Rinko Kikuchi's (and Mana Ashida's) performance and Mako's arc driving much of the plot. It also helps that she's not a love interest; she and protagonist Raleigh stick to being just friends by the end of the movie. Her character ended up inspiring a new template for feminism in films, the Mako Mori Test, intended as a partner to The Bechdel Test.
  • DC Extended Universe
    • Perhaps invoked with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Despite Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) having a supporting role, a lot of press stemmed from the fact that she was making her live-action film debut. She got lots of praise, to the point of being the one thing universally loved about the film - and many expressed excitement for her upcoming long-awaited movie. Said movie ended up becoming the first critical success of the DCEU. The film has gone on to become the setting's most successful film at the domestic box office, and a sequel was fast-tracked while other movie projects that were discussed way before (some even since the days of Man of Steel) remain in Development Hell. She's front and center on the DVD covers of the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman, and was featured front and center in the promotional campaigns of Justice League. Doubly ironic, considering Wonder Woman used to be considered as the least popular (or the least well-known) of DC's Big Three heroes.
    • Harley Quinn on Suicide Squad also qualifies. While not the only female member of the team, Harley had the most agency and the best dialogue of the team. This coupled with her sexy design and Margot Robbie's funny, menacing and athletically impressive performance made Harley one of the best characters in the film. Immediately people talked about a Harley spinoff, which eventually got optioned (by Robbie's production company) as Birds of Prey, stretched to Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. She would also appear in The Suicide Squad.
  • The child actresses in the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid trilogy, as Chloë Grace Moretz and, to a lesser extent, Peyton List have been the most successful stars since the series endednote . The actors have not done much otherwise, as Karan Brar only remained relevant by appearing on the same shows as Peyton List. Devon Bostick did OK since then thanks to his role on The 100, but not by that much. Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Grayson Russell, and the Fielding twins (who played Manny) virtually vanished from the spotlight after the series ended.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. The video for "Don't Speak" shows her taking the spotlight and starring in all the publicity photos, while her three (male) bandmates languish in obscurity.
  • Very prevalent in hip-hop. Any time there's a lone femcee among a clique of male rappers, she'll stand out simply by being the only female voice. Her success as a solo artist isn't guaranteed, but she'll still serve a niche by catering to female audiences in the male-dominated genre. Lil Kim is one of the earliest and best-known examples, as she was the breakout star from Junior M.A.F.I.A., a group of The Notorious BIG's proteges, before becoming famous in her own right. Other female rappers who came up this way include Lauryn Hill (The Fugees), Eve (the Ruff Ryders), and Nicki Minaj (Young Money).

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy, one of the few female Muppets, was initially only a minor character, but her popularity skyrocketed and she is now probably the most famous of them, along with Kermit.

  • In Apocalyptour, Meredith Stepien staying behind after the show ostensibly ends to sing "The Coolest Girl in the World" directly references this. Possibly Foreshadowing eventually producing a female-centered musical starring her and Lauren Lopez.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In general, there are numerous women's wrestling websites - Diva Dirt and Lethal WOW being the most notable - dedicated to chronicling every type of women's wrestling out there. So the result is that many women signed to the WWE developmental system will be known simply from the websites following their progress. Alexa Bliss for example had loads of fans before she had even debuted on TV.
  • Older Than They Think: The Fabulous Moolah was initially a valet for "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers but eventually branched out on her own and became a pioneer for women's wrestling. She is recognised as the first ever WWE Women's Champion and held it for over twenty years. However, Rogers is still a legend, so she doesn't overshadow him completely, he simply wasn't pushed as hard by WWE, who went so far as retcon the women's title record for Moolah and continued to use her well past her peak, while if one only watched WWE they'd mostly recognize Rogers as the "Nature Boy" before Ric Flair.
  • Sable was first Triple H's valet and then Marc Mero's. He was popular in WCW as Johnny B Badd but the WWF fans cared little for Marc Mero and much more for Sable, to the point that this was made into an angle. She was given more attention and storylines and is now recognized as the first true WWE Diva. This also happened to Mero's second valet, Jacqueline, though she didn't become quite as big a WWF star as Sable. She did however get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016.
  • Sunny first debuted for WWF as the valet for the Bodydonnas. She became much more popular than they did, and was booked as the manager of several different wrestlers (The Godwinns, Farooq Asad, even The Road Warriors briefly). However she was a few years early for the Attitude Era and so wasn't able to reach the popularity level that Sable did.
  • Stacy Keibler originally came up in WCW as Miss Hancock, the secretary for Standards & Practices. Eventually broke out and wound up being the only woman not to be fired by WCW near the end. In the WWF, she was manager for many wrestlers, and was almost always more popular than the guys she managed.
  • In World Class Championship Wrestling, Hollywood John Tatum was a decent wrestler with poor mic skills. To spice him up, his real-life girlfriend, Missy Hyatt, was promoted to being his valet. She was considered much more interesting than he was and when they moved to the UWF, Missy & John broke up and she got involved with manager/booker/part-time wrestler Eddie Gilbert. Tatum's career flamed out, while Missy went on to working in Memphis, WCW and had brief runs in the WWF and ECW.
  • A few people probably remember Test and Albert, and some probably will remember that they were in a tag team, but who knew that Trish Stratus, the 2013 Hall Of Famer, was their valet?
    • Trish lampshaded this once when Vince McMahon complimented on her match. She pantomimed dialing a phone and said, "Hello, 911? I'd like to report a robbery. It looks like the women have stolen the show."
  • Trish's arch-rival, Lita, benefited from this as well. She debuted as a valet to Essa Rios who was meant to be a pioneer of the Light-Heavyweight division. He ended up lapsing into obscurity (more so than Test and Albert) while Lita became popular with the fans for her high flying moves. She had previously been this in ECW as Danny Doring's manager, Miss Congeniality. Doring was hired by WWE after the closure of ECW, but never called up from developmental.
  • The Lovely Lacey, self proclaimed First Lady Of ROH, is the comparable breakout to every member of Special K not named Jay Lethal, and is one of the two main reasons Special K has such a powerful Villainous Legacy despite being completely overshadowed and displaced by Generation Next.(the other is of course other companies didn't siphon Special K members out of ROH the way they did stables like Generation Next). So that leaves one other woman(two if you count their victim Jail Bait) and seventeen males in Angel Dust, Brian XL, Cheech, Cloudy, Dixie, Deranged, Izzy, Hyjinx, Fred The Elephant Boy, Slugger, Jody Fleisch(another victim), Joey Matthews(victim), Mikey Batts, Mellow, Lit, Slim J, Yeyo and bodyguard Abyss. A few of them have had respectable careers outside of ROH, Abyss being especially noticeable on TNA, Mikey Whipwreck already being an established name, but none besides Hydro(Lethal) had as much effect on ROH, which slowly but surely rose to rival TNA in noteriety, as Lacey.
  • Melina Perez was initially more successful than the tag team she was managing, MNM, after they broke up, but overtime, sometimes in spite of himself, John Morrison/Hennigan/Mundo achieved at least as much recognition. Joey Mercury has gotten the short end of the stick however. He was considered the heart of MNM in OVW, who taught the other two to become better wrestlers while learning from them to become even more charismatic, but when the team came to WWE he was deemed the weak link and became the reason for their breakup when Melina called him such and Morrison agreed with her! Between this and a burial following a botched spot in a ladder match, that may have not even been his fault, Mercury's promising career kind of stalled.
  • Dark Angel was a member of Los Un-Mexicans with seven men for a year in NGX, and then became a bigger name in the industry than all of them via MainStream Wrestling New Brunswick, CMLL and World Wonder Ring STARDOM. That said, she had little impact on NGX itself, so restricting things to the company Kaientai was the biggest star. Just that when most fans think Kaientai they think the Michinoku Pro Wrestling Power Stable that eventually became it's own pro wrestling company, while Sarah Stock is something of a legend for her feuds with La Amapola and Princesa Sugehit.
  • Hardly anyone remembers the team of KC James and Idol Stevens known as the Teacher's Pets, but they do remember Michelle McCool, who was their valet and went onto become the first WWE Divas' Champion as well as one of the prominent figures of the women's division - not to mention Mrs. Undertaker. As of 2012, KC James has been released from WWE and is toiling away on the indy circuit. Stevens was sent back to developmental where he was repackaged as Damien Sandow, tore up FCW, and soon earned the attention of WWE's higher-ups as a possible future star. He has since reappeared on WWE main programming in a fairly prominent role and thus has over came this.
  • Happened again when the Hart Dynasty split. David Hart Smith got released, Tyson Kidd mostly competed on NXT, but Natalya got put back into the women's division and pushed to win the title. This was actually used as a storyline on NXT. Tyson Kidd made a heel turn as a result of feeling overshadowed by his wife's success - to the degree that crowds were chanting "Nattie's wife!" at him.
  • The British wrestling family of the Knights had five wrestlers by 2011, three men and two women. The two women are much more well-known in America during that same year. Sweet Saraya has competed with SHIMMER many times and eventually claimed their title while daughter Britani is now Paige in WWE. Paige also became the first ever NXT Women's Champion.
  • For that matter, the Canadian All Knighter's tag team did operate in the USA for awhile and they had a student who became their valet, one Beth Phoenix.
  • Inverted with Thuggin And Buggin Enterprises, as Jazz ended up being the most successful member of the group despite being a hanger-on to it while they were together but after they were forced apart by the draft, Theodore Long eventually became general manager of Smackdown, Mark Henry eventually became World Heavyweight Champion and Chris Nowinski's research into concussions would change the way people in the USA looked at sports (and simulated sports) for good. The one she remained more successful than was Rodney Mack (her real-life husband), and even that only picked back up when they left WWE entirely and went back to the NWA promotions.
  • ECW dancing machine DJ Gabriel lasted only six months in the WWE, while his valet Alicia Fox got traded to Smackdown and put into a prominent storyline. She became an Ensemble Dark Horse with Diva fans on the internet and won the Divas' Championship when she was moved to Raw.
  • Naomi initially made it to TV as part of The Funkadactyls managing Brodus Clay. While part of the stable, she became a cast member of Total Divas and garnered more mainstream attention. While she suffered a few career setbacks from 2015-2016, she eventually struck gold when she became Smackdown Women's Champion and got over massively with the fans. Brodus was released two years previously after a failed heel turn. Her partner Cameron looked to be a straight example too, but her WWE career came to an abrupt end in 2016.
  • If you talk to wrestling fans long enough you just might run into one or two who have a passing familiarity with Cheerleader Melissa. Perhaps as the ChickFight staple, the multiple time APW Future Legend title holder, a SHIMMER Champion, perhaps as the burqua clad Raisha Saeed or zipper happy Alissa Flash in TNA, for that time she was ranked #1 among wrestlers around the world, as a President Of Wonder Ring Stardom, as masked luchadora Mariposa on El Rey's Lucha Underground, maybe even as that jobber on Sunday Night Heat but good luck finding anyone who knows the tag team she used to lead cheers for, the Ballard Brothers. They do still appear on the same card every once and while, even if no longer on the same spot, so the Ballards have benefited from her success to an extent.
  • People recall Jillian Hall's WWE run for her ridiculous gimmicks and jobber run but at least they recall. How much less is said of the rest of the Bomb Squad, the stable she used to be a member of? The bomb squad sharing their name with many other stables may also play a role but the same could be said of Jillian's OVW team, the Blonde Bombers, who became the Dicks on Smackdown. Who knows her personal referee Whipme Spearz or her former tag team partner Tiny Tim? The male teammates whose fame was not overshadowed by Jillian's were already well established (JBL, London, Kendrick...maybe Orlando Jordan and the Basham Brothers)
  • Among English speaking wrestling fans, Black Rose is easily the best known member of the Dominican Revolution (despite being Puerto Rican). She's also better known in the continental US than her WWC clients Los Fugitivos de la Calle (Niche and Lynx), El Bronco #1, Huracan Castillo Jr or IWA client Jumping Jeff Jeffery. Jeffery's partner Chicano is at least as well known as her in the English market however, if not by wrestling fans then by boxing fans, as he is part of the Cotto family.
  • When Alexander Rusev debuted on WWE programing in April 2014, it was obvious his valet Lana was stealing the spotlight away from him. The fact that Rusev was portrayed as not being conversant in English didn't help matters. This, in fact, was the intent, but it was Averted in the end. Despite the pairing of Rusev and Lana working out well, WWE had big plans to split them up in 2015 in preparation for Lana becoming a solo star, as Vince McMahon liked her but not him. Lana was paired with Dolph Ziggler while Rusev was paired with Summer Rae, who dressed and styled her hair much like Lana did. Fans hated the angle and both of them suffered from it, and was scrapped due to a combination of both Lana and Rusev getting hurt, and Lana posting about their real-life engagement on Twitter, which incurred Vince's ire. When both had recovered from their injuries, they were back together.
  • It happened with Fandango's dance partner Summer Rae. After months of just acting as a valet, she began getting chants from fans. She was slowly integrated into the women's division and was chosen to join the cast of the reality show Total Divas. When she broke away from Fandango, this happened to his next dance partner Layla. The two feuded for a while before ultimately joining forces and dumping Fandango. They formed a team called SLayers while Fandango just faded away. They would eventually be Inverted as Fandango rebound as one-half of Breezango the Fashion Police with Tyler Breeze, while Summer was released in 2017.
  • Katey Harvey first surfaced as a valet to the tag team Rough Stuff. She soon struck out on her own to become the top female wrestler in Ireland (including the first Irish Women's Champion!) whereas Rough Stuff took a two year hiatus. When they returned, they did so completely separate from Katey.
  • A similar case happened with Irish female "Session Moth" Martina. The character debuted as a valet in OTT to a tag team The Lads From The Flats. Her popularity skyrocketed and she eclipsed the team, breaking out on her own as one of the flagship faces of the promotion. Of course she did still have a pre-existing fanbase from her days as Kazza G but still.
  • All three Eagles have found success in professional wrestling, however, Ryan and Robbie are not as well known as Madison is in North America thanks to a run as SHIMMER Champion getting her ranked #1 in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. At least they were not until Bullet Club anyway. So Madison broke out, then Robbie and Ryan played catch up.
  • Alexa Bliss became the manager to Blake and Murphy on NXT. Fans are usually indifferent to the two of them, but Alexa draws good reactions and has been pushed for the Women's Championship more than once. She became a high-profile star of her own when she parted ways with them, and soon became the first woman to hold both the Raw and Smackdown Women's Championship. As for the team she left behind: Buddy Murphy was briefly Cruiserweight Champion and Seth Rollins' lackey, whilst Wesley Blake had brief runs as part of the Forgotten Sons (torpedoed by stablemate Jaxson Ryker's anti-BLM comments) and as enforcer for Baron Corbin. Both men were released in 2021.
  • Carmella is quite a similar case to Alexa. She first made a name for herself as the valet of Enzo Amore and Big Cass, but when all was done had the most successful career of all of them, as she became a standout of the female roster, winning the first ever Women's Money in the Bank match and eventually taking the title for herself. While Enzo and Cass were popular starting out (certainly more so than Blake and Murphy), the team split after only a year on the main roster, and Enzo's reputation was ruined with his rape allegations (leading WWE to Un-person him completely). According to her, she wasn't called up to TV as part of their act because Triple H told her she could make it on her own. After Big Cass' firing, she's the only one of the three still employed in WWE.
  • When the stable SAnitY was called up to the main roster, Nikki Cross was notably absent. The reason for this was perhaps invoking this trope, as it was thought she could break out on her own. They were right; Nikki has had success as a multi-time Women's Tag Team Champion (and Morality Chain to) with Alexa Bliss, a (2021) Money in the Bank winner, and a (Raw) Women's Champion. As of June 2021, she was the last member of the stable left in the company. The others' post-heights in WWE: jobber (Eric Young), teaming with Drake Maverick in NXT (Killian Dain), and member of Imperium (Alexander Wolfe). This is, of course, not counting Sawyer Fulton, who was replaced even before the main roster move.

    Video Games 
  • Capcom in general seems quite fond of this trope:
    • The Street Fighter franchise has multiple examples just by itself:
      • Chun-Li is often called "The First Lady of Fighting Games," and for very good reason. She is generally treated as the representative of Street Fighter II note , she is one of the only returning characters in Street Fighter III (and the only returning character in 3rd Strike), is the only character aside from Ryu to have appeared in every Capcom vs. game, and even received her very own movie (although people don't like to talk about it).
      • Cammy White from Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers is, besides Akuma from Super Street Fighter II Turbo: The Ultimate Championship, the only other debuting character from an Updated Re-release of Street Fighter to appear in several spin-offs, including Street Fighter X Tekken. She is also the only character to have her own spin-off in Cannon Spike.note 
      • Street Fighter Alpha's Sakura Kasugano also became a case of this. A female fan of Ryu with a similar play style, she became one of the most beloved characters of the spin-off series, to the point where she got her own manga spin-off. The only other Alpha character to prominently feature in other games is Dan.
      • Subverted with C. Viper of Street Fighter IV fame. It would seem Capcom believed she would become an Ensemble Dark Horse and thus included her in Marvel vs. Capcom 3note , only to abruptly bail on her when she turned out to not be as popular as they had hoped, to the point that she hasn't made a single playable appearance since. The game's second female newcomer, Juri Han from Super Street Fighter IV, on the other hand, would end up being the one who actually played this straight, proving to be SFIV's most popular newcomer altogether and making playable appearances in both crossover spin-off Street Fighter X Tekken and following mainline entries V and 6.
    • Morrigan Aensland and Felicia (and to a lesser extent, B.B. Hood and Hsien-Ko) from Darkstalkers are a particularly extreme example. They have completely overtaken the male lead, Demitri, almost 100%. Probably because he was a Villain Protagonist who was hard to render in 3D. In, particular, Felicia was advertised as just another monster at the start, and is now way more than that. And Morrigan has become to Darkstalkers what Chun-Li is to Street Fighter, the consistent face of the franchise in crossover games, while Demitri Maximoff, the original protagonist of the series, is largely a Memetic Loser only really known for his Midnight Bliss attack.
    • Oichi from Sengoku Basara is noteworthy for being the main female Breakout Character in a Cast Full of Pretty Boys with a largely female fanbase. She's the only character with her own ending in Sengoku Basara 2, she has her own Image Song, she is the only playable female character in Sengoku Basara X, and she is the playable representative for the franchise in TEPPEN.
    • Tron Bonne from Mega Man Legends exploded in popularity upon her debut, between her Tsundere relationship with Mega Man Volnutt and her command of the Servbots. She quickly got her own spin-off game, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, and her popularity was cemented with her inclusion in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. At this point she's appeared in more games than Volnutt himself!
    • Princess Devilotte from Cyberbots is about as popular as its main lead and her appearance in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo was the first of guest appearances that would pull that game out from obscurity.
    • Even a niche game like Gotcha Force can get this treatment - the few times it's been acknowledged in later games it was represented not by Kou Shishido, its main protagonist, but by Usagi Kurokawa, the Action Girl of the two main girls.
  • Nina Williams, the only woman to have appeared in every Tekken game, got her own spin-off game titled Death by Degrees based on her assassin background.
  • Mai Shiranui of Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters is quite possibly more popular than either franchise's actual leads. Being one of the most notable Ms. Fanservices in fighting games with multiple guest appearances in Dead or Alive certainly helps.
  • Poppet from Moshi Monsters, specifically, the pink one that is used as the default color and is classified as female, managed to get popular enough to have a spin-off magazine with new monster friends.
  • Hyrule Warriors basically is "The Legend of Zelda: Smurfette Breakout Edition" as its cast of playable characters is mainly composed of popular female characters from all across the series. In particular, Zelda is finally able to showcase her skills as a Pretty Princess Powerhouse (something usually saved for the final moments of mainline games) and fan favorite Midna from Twilight Princess makes a long desired return (receiving both her Imp and Twili forms). It even had a bit of its own Smurfette Breakout in the form of Linkle, who was popular even before her formal inclusion in the game; the character was originally scrapped from the game, but overwhelmingly positive fan reaction towards the concept art led to her being implemented for the 3DS version (albeit as a random farm girl rather than Link's younger sister).
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Princess Peach proved to be popular enough to receive her own spin-off game: Super Princess Peach. The game was well received, though criticized for using the Hysterical Woman trope as the main gameplay mechanic. In any case, she's never missed a single spin-off multiplayer game and proved to be quite the Action Girl in some of them (especially in the Mario Strikers series). To say nothing of the occasions she becomes a party member in the RPGs.
    • In Super Mario and its spin-offs, several female characters stood up enough to receive some kind of representation in Super Smash Bros., which is usually a good barometer of popular characters in the Nintendo universes. First, Super Mario Galaxy's Rosalina is the most notorious exemple as she became playable in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U before more familiar and grounded Mario characters like Daisy and Waluigi. WarioWare's Dark Magical Girl Ashley is also noteworthy, receiving two songs in Super Smash Bros. Brawl then promoted to Assist Trophy in the fourth game. Finally, Goombella from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is probably one of the most popular companions from the Paper Mario series, and as such is the only one of them to have its own trophy in Brawl and even in 3DS/Wii U, ten years after her only playable appearance.
    • Toadette, the sole recurring female Toad, originated as a partner for the main Toad in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Since then, she's gone on to be a helper in two Paper Mario games, joined up with Captain Toad as a member of the Toad Brigade, serves as an extra player alongside Blue and Yellow Toad in the platformers, and rarely misses a spin-off. She even got her own exclusive power-up in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
  • Gender inverted with Ryo Akizuki from THE iDOLM@STER: Dearly Stars. At the time of the game's release he was the only male idol in the franchise (though you sure couldn't tell by looking at him), and once his gender was revealed preorders of the game skyrocketed. Ryo was eventually made into a fully producable idol in the male idol branch THE iDOLM@STER: SideM, but his fellow Dearly Stars idols Ai and Eri have yet to be playable since, being relegated to occasional cameos.
  • Fire Emblem
  • Rocbouquet, the token female from the Seven Heroes from Romancing SaGa 2, is by far the most popular character of the game and considerably the entire franchise given all guest appearances she's made.
  • Out of the five protagonists of the Trails Series, Estelle Bright is the sole female protagonist, representing the first two games of the The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky trilogy. However, a combination of First Installment Wins, the sheer rarity of a girl leading a major JRPG, and her memorably optimistic, yet abrasive personality has made her extremely popular even after the other characters spanning hundreds of hours worth of gameplay. She's as much the face of her franchise as Cloud is to Final Fantasy.
  • Aqua from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is the series' first female proper playable characternote , the only one to be female among that game's playable characters, and the only female major character in that game. She also became a major Breakout Character, helped by her story being the most central in her debut game, enough that she received her own dedicated game and playable story sections in Kingdom Hearts III and Kingdom Hearts III: Re𝄌Mind.

    Web Animation 
  • SMG4: Meggy the Inkling was a One-Shot Character who fans latched onto for her badassery and surprisingly wholesome friendship with Mario (a Heroic Comedic Sociopath in this series). This inspired the creators to include her as the first female character in the main cast lineupnote , but not with the intent of overshadowing the others. Still, as her popularity continued to grow, the creators took such a shine to her that they gave her a human redesign to expand the possibilities of what they could do with her. Cue Meggy getting her own movie, professional voice actorsnote , a fully animated spin-off, and a hefty dose of Character Development. Since then, she can easily be seen as a central protagonist alongside Mario and SMG4 himself.

    Western Animation 
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Chip 'n Dale were already established Disney characters and the ostensible leads of the series. But Gadget was the one who became Popular with Furries and the most memorable character due to her Genius Ditz nature. There's still a Gadget-themed roller coaster at Disneyland, twenty years after the series run.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power was actually introduced with this in mind. Lou Scheimer noticed that He-Man was developing a substantial female audience and desired to make a Spin-Off to better capitalize on this.
  • Lilo & Stitch franchise: Angel (Experiment 624), a pink genetic experiment who looks like a Distaff Counterpart to Stitch, appeared in just two episodes of Lilo & Stitch: The Series; her eponymous debut in the last third of season one, and "Snafu", which first aired nearly two-and-a-half-years later as the penultimate episode of the show and immediately before the premiere of finale film Leroy & Stitch. But a Disney Channel online poll held during the break between the two seasons showed her and her episode to be the #1 fan favorite. As a result of her popularity, she became a recurring character in the subsequent anime spin-off series Stitch!, appears as a costumed character at the Disney Theme Parks (which even got a redesign to better match with Stitch's costume design), appears in a few Disney crossover video games including Disney Magic Kingdoms and Disney Speedstorm (she was even the first Disney Television Animation character to appear in those games), and gets her own merchandise sold worldwide to this day, even in the United States where the polarizing anime had a very brief run before it was pulled from there. By comparison, nearly all the other experiments besides her and Stitch get very little to no representation in merch or marketing today.
  • Penelope Pitstop was the only female racer on Wacky Races and got her own spinoff series.
  • Cindy Bear, despite having only a handful of appearances in the original Yogi Bear cartoon, seemed to gain more prominent appearances in later revivals and crossover series, likely because she is the nearest to a recurring female character representing the early Hanna-Barbera works. She is among the few supporting characters to compete in Laff-A-Lympics and is a lead character in Yo Yogi!. In both cases, she is the only female character in her team.
  • Daria Morgendorffer, a minor recurring character in Beavis And Butthead, got her own TV show, Daria, which can't be said for any otherwise more important cast members.
  • Tak on Invader Zim, despite only actually appearing in one episode, became an Ensemble Dark Horse at least in part because she was a female character who had degrees of Ship Tease with both Zim (whom she was technically dating) and Dib (who admits he "likes" her without specifying how). Other than her, Gaz and Ms. Bitters, most of the female characters are just background filler.
    • Even Gaz gets this to a degree. While she's officially one of the show's four main characters, she shows up fewer times than the other three, and many of her appearances are short cameos. Still plenty popular with the fans, though.

  • Near the end of the Book of Genesis, we get a list of several dozen grandsons of Jacob/Israel...and one granddaughter, Serach, listed among Asher's children. She's only mentioned one other time (in the Book of Numbers, which implies that she's still alive centuries later), and the strangeness of both passages have led to many legends about her in Jewish literature.