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Spotlight-Stealing Crossover

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So we have ourselves a Massive Multiplayer Crossover spanning across multiple worlds, franchises, etc. Countless characters and elements from across a large number of works make some sort of showing, in one way or another, and the fans love it.

But then you notice something: one, or at least a small number, of said franchises/worlds gets more spotlight than the others. Maybe it gets more representation than the others when it comes to setting, elements, or number of characters involved. Maybe characters from the other franchises won't stop talking about how characters from this franchise are so amazing or they get the coolest moments. Or maybe the story just revolves around them or takes place from their Point of View. Whatever the case may be, we've got ourselves an example of the Spotlight-Stealing Crossover.


Keep in mind, though, that this trope isn't always bad. After all, it's unlikely that every work featured in a big crossover has the same amount of popularity, so the most beloved or well-known of all the works probably should get more representation than others. For example, it would be really weird if Super Smash Bros. had more characters from Xenoblade Chronicles than Pokémon: the former is a franchise only Nintendo fans would really be aware of, while the latter is an immense Cash Cow Franchise that even people with zero interest in video games have basic knowledge of. Of course, it can also be a result of creator favoritism: if the creator of one of the works happens to be in charge of the entire crossover, then it's inevitable that their own work will get the most attention, if only because that's the one they're most familiar with.


Not to be confused with someone from a franchise who's regularly featured in crossovers because of popularity — check Breakout Character, Wolverine Publicity and Popularity Power for that.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This is a continual problem faced by the Pretty Cure All Stars series, as it will have all active Cures show up in a movie, but as the number of Cures increases, it becomes less practical to have all of the teams receive equal focus (All Stars DX, the first installment, has 14 Cures; Everyone Sing♪ Miraculous Magic, the eighth, has 42). Instead, the current season and the one before it are the most prioritized, while the others are reduced to The Cameo or The Voiceless at worst. Eventually, the crossovers were downscaled to focusing on the latest three seasons. The 15 year Milestone Celebration HuGtto! Pretty CureFutari wa Pretty Cure: All Stars Memories, while giving speaking roles to all 55 Cures, also projects exactly which seasons get the most focus in its title.
  • Show by Rock!! Stars acted as the fifth overall installment of the Show by Rock!! anime, and featured bands from both the original two seasons and of the third-fourth installment Mashmairesh. However, the band Mashmairesh got the lion's share of advertisement, with supporting band Dokonjofinger getting some more spotlight as well. The original bands do have some presence, but they act more as mentors to the new bands.
  • If there's a Time Bokan crossover, you can bet that the cast of Yatterman will be leading the forefront of the plot. The Royal Revival OVA was a major offender of this—although it was meant to be a celebration of the series as a whole, the whereabouts of the Doronbo Gang was the main plot point of the first episode while the second focused on Gan and Ai's off-screen retirement. Everyone else got a cameo bit at best.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time, which crosses over the then-three Yu-Gi-Oh! series, the story mostly focuses on Yusei and the cast of 5D's with all the supporting cast appearing (seemingly in large part due to that having been the current series at the time). The plot mostly takes place in the time of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series but GX gets the shaft with Jaden being the only living character to appear and his section takes place in Venice rather than anywhere from his life.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is meant to be a Milestone Celebration of the three prior shows (Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL), but it's really not hard to figure out which one the creators favored (and it's really not surprising, given the series director also worked on 5D's). Despite the overall plot casting the 5D's-based Synchro Dimension as somewhat ancillary to the overall conflict, the arc that takes place there is by far the longest, and contains both alternate versions of main characters Jack and Crow (who are kept almost completely in-character from their original selves), but also a metric ton of minor Continuity Cameo-type appearances and references to even lesser parts of the show's lore. The alternate Jack and Crow also rack up a large number of victories against established characters, with Crow ultimately joining the main cast and Jack not only beating the main character, but getting the second-to-last Duel in the series. ZEXAL's Xyz Dimension gets a comparatively much shorter arc and only one alternate main character, who is relatively In Name Only to his prior self, but is still cast mainly as good-aligned and fairly relevant to the plot. Lastly, GX gets shafted almost completely—not only is the Fusion Dimension arc very short and most of its inhabitants cast as the show's vile antagonists, but its alternate counterparts have terrible win records and little plot relevance.

    Comic Books 
  • In any given Crisis Crossover in the DC Universe, Batman and Co. will likely be featured prominently despite being as street-level as superheroes get.
  • Happened quite a bit with the Silver Age World's Finest comics—they were run by the Superman editorial office, so tended to feature Superman's villains and themes far more than Batman's. (And sometimes when they did use Batman characters, failed to check for updates on their status.)

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Toei's Superhero Taisen movies that feature their Toku franchises (Super Sentai and Kamen Rider), the current installments in those franchises tend to get featured while the past ones primarily fill in crowd scenes. They also tend to favor Kamen Rider much more heavily than Sentai; one was explicitly Kamen Rider Taisen with Sentai making just a token appearance, the next one was back to being named Superhero Taisen but still left the then-current Sentai team with just one scene, and the year after that flat-out pre-empted the Taisen series with a Kamen Rider movie instead before getting back on track.
  • Averted by executive mandate in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Warner Bros. gave Disney permission to include the Looney Tunes in the film on the (understandable) condition that Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck have the same amount of screen time as their respective Disney rivals, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Mickey and Bugs are never seen separately on-screen, and were made sure to have the exact same amount of frames of animation each. (It's not hard to tell that the scenes were written with just Bugs in mind, though—he gets the lion's share of dialogue.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Chou Sei Shin Series had a Grand Finale movie, which was marketed as a Crisis Crossover between the three teams. In practice, the then-current Sazer X team received the lion's share of focus, with the Justirisers Demoted to Extra and the Gransazers shemped. Especially aggravating in the last case, since the film's villains, the Bosquito, hail from their series and the mentor for their team played a major role.
  • Power Rangers:
    • This sometimes happens whenever two different seasons would crossover — while some crossovers would balance the exposure of the teams, others not so much. One notable example being "Clash of the Red Rangers," which saw the one RPM Ranger play a much more important role in the plot than 5 of the Samurai Rangers — the Sixth Ranger for the Samurai team didn't even appear in the crossover, despite having been introduced by that point!
    • The most extreme example, arguably, was Power Rangers Super Megaforce — the series spent more time focusing on teams from pre-Zyuranger Sentai series note  that HADN'T been adapted into Power Rangers, whereas some Power Rangers teams didn't even get a full team morph. note  Even worse was that the teams were given no background — they were just treated as if they were there from the beginning, only stated to be "Powers never before seen on Earth."
    • Another notable PR example would be Lightspeed Rescue/Lost Galaxy crossover, where the Lost Galaxy cast members get shafted in favour of a one-off monster and a little girl.

    Video Games 
  • Battletoads and Double Dragon is almost entirely centered around the Battletoads half of it, as all but one of the levels are based around the former game, and nearly all of the levels take place on a ship seen in the franchise. And in terms of the villains, the Dark Queen and her lackeys take center stage- the antagonist for the Double Dragon half of the roster, the Shadow Boss, was created entirely for this game, and of his two lackeys, the only one who is a boss in Double Dragon is Abobo, with Roper being a promoted enemy.
  • About half of the 14-man rosternote  in Blade Strangers are from Code of Princess and Umihara Kawase whereas the other represented series only get one or two. This might be due to the fact that Studio Saizensen, the developer of the game, also made the aforementioned games.
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is pretty upfront about this. It says it's a BlazBlue game and delivers: Despite being a crossover between seven properties, BlazBlue makes up half the playable starting roster. With all launch window DLC characters included, BlazBlue has 16 representatives, Persona 4: Arena and Under Night In-Birth have 10 each, while RWBY has four. note  Even Story Mode is pretty blatant about this; Episode BlazBlue has four possible endings, one of which is the Golden Ending, while the other three series only have one apiece. Episode Persona has a gag ending, Episode Under Night has a Here We Go Again! ending, and Episode RWBY wraps things up in a way that doesn't account for anyone besides Team RWBY.
  • Capcom vs.:
  • Eternal Fighter Zero gives Kanon the most representation, with 10 player characters coming from there.
  • A large majority of the playable characters in Fire Emblem Warriors are from Awakening and Fates, the 3DS titles responsible for a tremendous Newbie Boom in the Fire Emblem fandom. Ignoring the two original characters and Anna, Shadow Dragon (the title that started it all and is held in high regard in Japan) is the third most represented with a total of 6, and the only characters not from these three games are Lyn and Celica. This means 7 of the 12 games in the mainline series up to that point (remakes notwithstanding) got zero representation, which became a major point of contention for many fans.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • About half the game's cast are characters from the Warcraft series, with Hero releases often just alternating Warcraft, something else, Warcraft, something else. Of course, given that Warcraft's cast of notable characters dwarfs that of Blizzard's other franchises to the degree where they're having to resort to well-known boss fights and promoted mook units for Diablo and Starcraft respectively... and that Warcraft actually has plenty of both of those in its own right to boot, it's difficult to conceive of a release schedule that could be more even without running dry of compelling non-Warcraft heroes. As of writing, there are two Original Generation heroes, one (or rather three) from Blizzard's "Classic" era games, 17 Starcraft heroes, 18 Diablo heroes, 9 Overwatch heroes, and 42 Warcraft heroes.
    • On top of this, many of the game's core concepts are clearly Warcraft-inspired, including Mounts, Hearthstones, Healing Fountains (clearly based on the Moonwell structure from Warcraft III), and the name of the respawn area, the Altar of the Storm, named after the Orcish hero structure, also from Warcraft III. Even the coloration of the health and mana bars remain distinctly Warcraft-styled Green Health, White Shields, and Blue Mana, as opposed to Starcraft's Green Health, Blue Shields, and Purple "Energy", Diablo's Red Health and Blue Mana, and Overwatch's White Health and Blue Shields.
  • Injustice:
    • Injustice: Gods Among Us had a significant portion of its cast coming from Gotham even though Catwoman and Bane barely play any role in the story. Batman is also the only remaining superhero and the only character to have two chapters in Story Mode: one as the main universe one and the other as his Injustice verse counterpart. He even has a bonus Mirror Match fight between Wonder Woman and Superman's chapters.
    • Injustice 2 continued the trend, even keeping the Joker playable despite his Injustice 'verse self being long dead. That on top of keeping most of the Bat-cast from the first game around, the game added even more to the roster, namely Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Deadshot, and Red Hood, with Mr. Freeze appearing as a premier skin for Captain Cold.
  • Kingdom Hearts plays with this, since it focuses on the Original Generation more than the Disney and Final Fantasy worlds. To a lesser extent, the Final Fantasy worlds play this straight, due to being a franchise (granted, one where the games are Non-Linear Sequels to Disney's various non-associated movies). Though they appear in fewer worlds than the Disney characters, a couple of them are among Sora's group of friends and as a result, slightly impact the plot more than the characters founds in the Disney worlds note  and at least one the worlds that they do appear in (Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden, Twilight Town and Traverse Town) shows up in each game. Out of the Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VII gets the most representation with 7 characters. note  However, the Final Fantasy characters receive significantly less focus after II and by III are completely absent save the Moogles. The Re:Mind DLC expansion for III rectifies this somewhat by bringing back several of the FF representatives stationed at Radiant Garden. In general, this can be explained by the fact that the first game was always intended to be a vehicle for exploring Disney worlds first and foremost, and the use of Final Fantasy characters was only a logistical decision since they didn't want to make entirely new characters for bit roles that mostly serve for exposition.
  • Similar to the Injustice example above, this happened in LEGO Dimensions. During the first year, eight characters from DC Comics were playable. Half of them consisted entirely of Batman characters (the Caped Crusader himself, plus The Joker, Harley Quinn, and Bane), while the other half consisted of individual DC heroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg). While the second year saw the debut of Green Arrow, Supergirl, Beast Boy, Raven, and Starfire (the latter three as their Teen Titans Go! versions), the Batman roster continued to grow with Robin, Batgirl and another incarnation of Batman, all three of them as their versions from The LEGO Batman Movie. This is also telling in bosses from the main story: many of the bosses of the game are DC villains, with four Batman ones (The Joker, Two-Face, The Riddler, and Bane) and three Superman ones (Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and General Zod). Any other franchises with boss characters only have one (The Wicked Witch of the West, Lord Business, GLaDOS, Thief) or two (Saruman, Sauron, Cyberking, Dalek Emperor, Master Chen, Digital Overlord).
  • Magical Battle Arena:
    • As of Complete Form, the first game has nearly half of its roster consist of characters from Lyrical Nanoha as opposed to the other series who only get one or two representatives, not counting the Original Generation ones.
    • Its sequel Magical Battle Arena NEXT was split into One Game for the Price of Two with their own unique roster which can be combined into one complete game. The Magical Girl Side roster scales the Nanoha representation down to just Nanoha and Fate. The Fantasy World Side pack, on the other hand? Only Touhou characters in there.
  • Look no further than Nicktoons Unite!, or SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons, as the final installment was named. While the earlier titles in the series went toward more egalitarian representation of the Nicktoons involved, as the series progressed SpongeBob SquarePants stole the whole show.
  • Persona:
    • While the original Persona Q featured a fairly balanced representation of the Persona 3 and Persona 4 casts, Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth pushed them aside in favor of the Persona 5 cast. note  There's also some spotlight presented on P3's female protagonist in the latter, and even she slowly gets pushed out once the player reaches the dungeon that finally reveals Hikari's past.
    • Similar to the above, Persona 4: Arena put more spotlight on the P4 cast, with only three members of the P3 cast (Mitsuru, Akihiko, and Aigis) coming along for the ride, although it's arguably justified in that the game takes place in P4's setting. The sequel brought back the rest of the P3 cast and both sides got equal spotlight, with each having a route in which they're the focus of the story.
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale started getting called "God of War All-Stars Battle Royale" after the Greek Saga's Big Bad and Final Boss Zeus was added as a Dualvertisement DLC character in anticipation of God of War: Ascension, bringing the usual collection of new icons, backgrounds and minions associated with a new character (and thus, more fanservice for the God of War fanbase) with him. It should also be noted that God of War is the only series to have two different characters (Cole has a "Good" and "Evil" version, but these are derivatives of the same person).
  • Across both Poker Night games, there are eight characters from seven different franchises to play against. Out of these franchises, most have a single representative between the games. The one exception is the Sam and Max series, which has two representatives overall, the first of which even appears in a side role in the sequel. Downplayed in that the games themselves, taken individually, don't let Sam or Max overshadow the other guest players.
  • The Queen Of Heart '98 and '99 has To Heart as the series with most representation: the second game has 12 characters from there, in a roster of 24.
  • Sega Superstars got so far into this with regards to Sonic the Hedgehog's overabundance of characters that they later renamed the series Sonic & SEGA All-Stars (starting with Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing) and then Sonic & All-Stars (though the lack of "SEGA" in the title for Racing: Transformed is more so due to the inclusion of multiple guest racers) before just flat-out following up Racing: Transformed with the non-crossover Team Sonic Racing.
  • A weird case with Starlink: Battle for Atlas, specifically the Nintendo Switch version: the Switch version of the game shipped with an Arwing and Fox McCloud from Star Fox, complete with their own side campaign and integration into the main story. While the game's proper campaign kept the split pretty even, the lackluster reception of the game's other ports meant that the lion's share of DLC produced for the game was exclusive for the Switch version... and focused on the Star Fox team, thus making the Switch version this retroactively.
  • Super Robot Wars features several cases where a small number of series receive disproportionate representation over several others.
    • A large number of Super Robot Wars games rely heavily on Universal Century Gundam (the original Mobile Suit Gundam and its canon sequels) to provide much of the backbone of their respective settings. While it makes sense for the earliest entries, as many of the other series in those games were of Monster of the Week Super Robot fare, it became increasingly blatant as series with better-developed settings and narratives joined the franchise and yet the Titans and/or some incarnation of Neo Zeon remained major enemies. It took fifteen years for Banpresto to release a non-Original Generation-based Super Robot Wars without Universal Century Gundam... only for them to replace it with the equally plot-consuming Mobile Suit Gundam SEED.
    • Macross Frontier is another notable multi-game case. Boosted by a large amount of popularity, and often flanked by the similarly-popular Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny and the far-less-popular but still notable Dancougar Novanote , Frontier appears in every single licensed-based Super Robot Wars between its debut in 2010's Super Robot Wars L and exclusion in 2017's Super Robot Wars V; it is also highly relevant to the plots of most of them. Why did it stop at V? Bandai Namco wanted an English Southeast Asian release, and thanks to Macross's memetic case of Screwed by the Lawyers outside of Japan, they essentially had to drop it.
    • Super Robot Wars V is basically Space Battleship Yamato 2199 with a very long pit-stop. The first and final arcs of the game are almost entirely about the Yamato's voyage, and the series gets one of the game's three alternate dimensions almost entirely to itself.
    • Likewise, Super Robot Wars X has Mashin Hero Wataru as the primary focus of the story, with many of the game's series being secondary to Wataru's journey. Two of the three other series debuting in this game, Gundam: Reconguista in G and Buddy Complex, effectively make up the game's B Plot and often find their stories buried in route splits that separate the Gundam franchise and Buddy Complex from every other series in the game. That being said, G-Reco is also this trope but for a different reason, having a huge number of playable pilots when unlockables are accounted for.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • The series' name is a play on Super Mario Bros., and so naturally, that franchise gets the most representation by far, with fourteen characters as of Ultimate. Even if you're generous like the games themselves, and count characters with spin-off franchises — Yoshi, the Kongs and King K. Rool, and Wario — as representing those instead, Super Mario is still the most at a total of nine characters. note  This extends to the amount of stages as well, at eighteen stages note  in Ultimate.
    • The series with the second-highest representation is Pokémon, with ten characters as of Ultimate, only barely edging out Mario. note  The franchise also has the unique distinction of being the only series to receive at least one new fighter in each installment, with nearly every generation of the games having a playable representative. (As of Ultimate, Ruby and Sapphire and Black and White lack playable representation. So does Sword and Shield, but that one at least has the excuse that it released well after Smash.) And that's to say nothing of the Poké Ball and Master Ball items that, by Ultimate, can randomly summon one of over fifty of the creatures to assist the player in battle. Its modest number of stages is the main reason why it clearly falls short of Mario, and even so, one must consider that Pokémon isn't even fully owned by Nintendo — something that holds its representation back somewhat.
    • Fire Emblem is another candidate. After being modestly represented with two reps apiece in Melee and Brawl, it shot up to six in 3DS/Wii U note  to be the third best represented franchise in the series, with a seventh and eighth (Chrom in the base game, Byleth as DLC) being added in Ultimate. This is a controversial topic among the Western Smash fandom, both due to the franchise's perceived popularity note  and perceived lack of gameplay variation (most of them being sword wielders). Corrin, the sixth rep, was at the forefront of the debate for some time, as they were announced as DLC before their game had even been released outside of Japan, with Word of God admitting that their inclusion was decided specifically as a Dualvertisement, and that they were aware of the reactions that could (and did) arise from adding another Fire Emblem character to the cast. Byleth, the eighth rep, was at the center of a similar dispute upon the unveiling of their inclusion in Ultimate as the final addition to the game's first wave of DLC note  and it's unclear if Three Houses actually making it to Western territories months before the news dropped note  did anything to mitigate certain fans' displeasure. (In fact, judging by the way the internet seemed to collectively implode despite Byleth perhaps being the most unique FE rep since Robin, it's not a stretch to say Byleth probably has it worse than Corrin did.)
    • After Masahiro Sakurai directed Kid Icarus: Uprising, many people argued that Kid Icarus was being over-represented in 3DS/Wii U. The franchise received two newcomers (one of which being a clone), tons of items, and more Smash Run enemies than even Mario, Nintendo's Flagship Franchise. Palutena also had 12 completely unique special moves, and was the only character in the game to do so other than the customizable Mii Fighters (though Ultimate would streamline her kit, giving Palutena the normal number of special moves). By comparison, series that had similar levels of popularity at the time, like Metroid and Donkey Kong, barely got any new content. Effectively demonstrated here. It should be noted that this was reversed in Ultimate, with new Donkey Kong and Metroid characters and elements being added, while Kid Icarus received no new elements aside from one new item, and even had one of its Assist Trophies (Magnus) removed.
    • Kirby may not be over-represented character-wise, with only three fighters, but it still steals quite a bit of spotlight whenever the games have any sort of Story Mode. Brawl's "The Subspace Emissary" features the Halberd prominently, Kirby kicks a surprising amount of ass (even more than Mario), and King Dedede is the only reason the effortless defeat of all of the characters by Tabuu was only a minor setback. The trend continued in Ultimate's "World of Light", where Kirby is the only being to survive Galeem's attack — not just of the playable characters, but in the entire universe! note 

    Western Animation 
  • House of Mouse is a Disney series in which characters from the Disney Animated Canon up to Atlantis: The Lost Empire all hang out and party at a club. However, the movie that is referenced more than others is Alice in Wonderland, with over 30 characters and at least one reference per episode. The Lion King (1994), Hercules, and most of the Disney Princess movies also tend to appear a lot, with Timon and Pumbaa and Hades getting episodes to themselves.
  • Justice League:
    • Averted when the series became Justice League Unlimited by way of Executive Meddling. Because another Batman-focused series was running at the same time, the only Batman characters available were the Dark Knight himself, Huntress, Deadshot, Professor Milo, and the characters from Batman Beyond. Hugo Strange also made a silent cameo during one episode before The Batman prevented him from making further appearances in JLU.
    • Played straight, however, in relation to the Superman characters, where most of the arc villains are from Superman's Rogues Gallery. Justice League can be considered to essentially be a successor to Superman: The Animated Series, at least more so than to Batman.
  • While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) is an amalgamation of various TMNT media, favoritism toward the 80s-90s cartoon can be rather blatant at times. A lot more characters are reused from that series than the others, and one episode even featured the original cartoon's Turtles for little reason than to please its nostalgic audience. But to its credit, it also improves upon most of the many flaws that the original cartoon had, making the ideas seem more plausible, and the Shredder is still treated as the more dangerous and formidable of the two main villains.