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Spotlight-Stealing Title

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Your eyes are not deceiving you; the rest of the X-Men actually got the "Professor and Mary Anne" treatment.

So you've got a TV series, cartoon, comic book or other publication in the works, and of course you want it to succeed. What do you do to get it to catch the audience's attention? Make use of the character who has the most Popularity Power or is played by the most popular star by promoting them to the series title, kind of like Wolverine Publicity but for the team he's already a part of.

This has various scales, somewhat like the Poor Man's Substitute. First, the character's name is appended to the end (Character Title and Friend). Then it takes the lead (Friend and Character Title), and finally it's just their name (Friend Title).

This alone is not an indicator of Adaptation Decay, but generally raises a warning flag to potential viewers. Then again, if And the Fandom Rejoiced is involved then it's just a mere marketing trick rather than a sign of decay.

Compare Billing Displacement. Protagonist and Friends is a form of this. See also Artist and the Band. When the creator is the main draw, a related title trope is In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It. Can also be a Market-Based Title if it appeals to the popularity of a character or actor in a particular market.

Example of title changes:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The original anime adaptation of Doctor Slump was officially titled Dr. Slump Arale-chan. Justified by the fact that the manga itself focused more on the android girl Arale than her inventor Senbei Norimaki, the titular bumbling scientist.
  • Hatsune Mix is a manga focusing on Hatsune Miku... and the other 4 Crypton Vocaloids at the time.note 
  • Rock Lee and his Ninja Pals is a manga/anime focused on Rock Lee, and the other members of his team.

    Comic Books 
  • In Brazil, O Pato Donald (Donald Duck) #434 introduced Zé Carioca. The stories became popular enough that Issue #479 Was titled O Pato Donald apresenta Zé Carioca (Or Donald Duck presents Joe Carioca), and the series continued to take that title every other issue (So even numbers were Donald Duck and odd numbers were Joe Carioca). Donald's face was removed from the Zé Carioca title logo after issue #527, the words "O Pato Donald apresenta" were shrunk down after issue #539, and removed completely from the title after issue #981 until eventually, this trope was reversed when Zé Carioca split off from Donald Duck, becoming its own individual series after issue #1751. This treatment was quite generous to the character, because even for a while after the split, an issue of Zé Carioca wasn't necessarily entirely Zé Carioca stories.
  • From issue 135 to 145, Marvel's G.I. Joe comic series was retitled G.I. Joe: Starring Snake-Eyes, with the "Snake-Eyes" portion consuming most of the cover.
  • Sonic the Comic originally featured comics of various Sega games at the time. You wouldn't know it from the title though.
    • Although Sonic was always presented as the headline act, having the longest out of the four strips presented within, with the other strips being presented as backup stories.
    • Early issues would add "Starring Sonic the Hedgehog" to the cover, especially if one of the other strips had the cover spotlight for the issue, as if the title wasn't enough of a clue.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) ongoing spinoff Knuckles the Echidna had its title changed to Sonic the Hedgehog Presents: Knuckles the Echidna late in its run, despite Sonic having no role in the comic.
    • Downplayed example though, as Knuckles stil has the bigger credit, although it didn't stop a picture of Sonic being added to the logo anyway.
  • 2000 AD spinoff title Judge Dredd Megazine has gone back and forth on this over its run. While Dredd is certainly the headline act, the comic contains many other strips, some from the Dredd Universe, some from other 2000 AD regulars and some completely original. The logo on the front has changed a few times to reflect this: when the 1995 movie came out, "Judge Dredd" was much more prominent, around the millennium the name was shrunk drastically to give more emphasis to "Megazine" and then some time later this was reversed back to having Judge Dredd take up a whole third of the front page, and the rest of the logo frequently obscured by the cover art.
  • Jimmy Tornado: When the comic went from magazine to album, it was rechristened from Jimmy & Lupe Tornado to just Jimmy Tornado. According to the creators, this was out of a need for a punchier title and not wanting to drop the impact of "Tornado".
  • While Gotham City Sirens averts this, the French localization by Urban Comics retitles the series into "Harley Quinn et les Sirènes de Gotham" (Harley Quinn and the Gotham Sirens) for marketability purposes.

    Comic Strips 
  • Another Brazilian example: when Mauricio de Sousa started making his comic strips, they revolved around Blu and Franklin, and while other characters were added in, their strips were mostly self-contained. Then, in one of Jimmy Five's strips, he got beat up by a chubby, bucktoothed, short-tempered girl whose name ended up becoming the umbrella title for all the other strips (and the comic books, when they made the jump in 1970): Monica's Gang.
  • Starting in the late '60s, the Peanuts Sunday Strip had the subtitle "Featuring Good ol' Charlie Brown" for much of its run.
  • When the character of Snuffy Smith became popular in the Barney Google strip, it was renamed Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, and continued to be called that long after the focus shifted almost exclusively to Snuffy, with "Barney Google and" being reduced to small print in the title.
  • E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre was a well-regarded strip recounting the adventures of one Castor Oyl, his family, and his best friend Ham Gravy, until one day they needed to hire a sailor to captain a ship for them. The sailor, like most of the strip's cast, was intended to be a throw-away character, never to return after the story arc ended, but fan response was so overwhelmingly positive that he joined the main cast, and eventually the strip was re-named after him. You might have read it; it's called Popeye.
  • Robotman became Robotman and Monty, then finally just Monty, reflecting the process of the former main character being Demoted to Extra.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the Cthulhu Mythos, Cthulhu is only a minor character of only passing significance and few appearances. Almost all stories in which the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods play a role are about the less well known Yog-Sothoth and Dagon, or even Nyarlathotep. While "The Call of Cthulhu" is one of the best known titles, it's actually a rather short story in which not much happens and Cthulhu only has a short cameo at the very end.
  • Parodied in Ogden Nash's poem "The Self-Effacement of Electra Thorne":
    As for egocentricity, good heavens!
    What's egocentric about wanting the marquee to read

    Live-Action TV 
  • When The Green Hornet was shown in Hong Kong, they retitled it The Kato Show due to Bruce Lee's popularity.
  • The Show Within a Show on 30 Rock goes from The Girlie Show to TGS with Tracy Jordan.
  • Star Ron Howard and creator Gary Marshall threatening to walk stopped ABC from their "brilliant" idea of renaming their hit show to Fonzie's Happy Days. Even Henry Winkler himself spoke out against the idea, feeling that such a change would have been disrespectful to his co-stars. But it didn't stop Winkler's ascension from credited at the end of the episode to top-billing star and the animated series ended up being called The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.
  • The Daily Show became The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, mostly to distinguish itself from the earlier seasons, which were hosted by Craig Kilborn.
  • Averted on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Ensemble Dark Horse and fan favorite Illya Kuryakin was promoted to co-star status, so the show was really about two men from U.N.C.L.E. from mid-Season 1 onward, but the singular title was never changed, and there was no question that Napoleon Solo was the man to whom it referred.
    • However, the French title was Des Agents Très Spéciaux, meaning Very Special Agents.
  • A moderately obscure one: 1980s BBC Children's show Lift Off (not to be confused with the ITV show of a decade earlier) became Lift Off with Coppers & Co. and then just Coppers & Co (though to be fair, they did drop the lift gimmick, so it was either that or leave it as an Artifact Title).

  • "The Miami Sound Machine" eventually became "Gloria Estefan And Miami Sound Machine," before becoming just Gloria Estefan.
    • MAD ran a parody of the above situation with the rise and fall of a starlet in a church choir. At first, it's "The Fellows" with just her head sticking out of the row of singers, then it's "The Fellows and Melanie", "Melanie and the Fellows", before apexing at "M" with a closeup of her face. From there it spirals down the way it came, with her a sad, nameless member of the choir again.
    • MAD #79 had a similar "Rise and Fall" feature, with the starlet starting as a nameless member of a vocal group, advancing from "The Euclid Phlomm Chorale with Patricia Blousen" to "Patricia Blousen and the Euclid Phlomm Chorale," reaching the peak of her career with an album cover showing "Patti" and a closeup of her face, then gradually declining until once again becoming a nameless member of the Euclid Phlomm Chorale.
  • During his tenure with the Faces, the groups' billing changed from "Faces" to "Faces featuring Rod Stewart" and finally "Rod Stewart and Faces" before Ronnie Lane quit and the group essentially just became Stewart's backing band.
  • Similarly: Red Rider => Tom Cochrane and Red Rider => Tom Cochrane, with his first "solo" album heavily featuring people brought into Red Rider during the middle part of that chain. (Most people outside Canada will only know the last part of that chain, but Red Rider had quite a following in their home country long before Cochrane went solo.)
  • The Supremes became Diana Ross and the Supremes because of her popularity and diva behavior.
    • And because some have argued that Ross's involvement with Motown boss Berry Gordy caused him to favour her in the first place.
  • Even cartoon bands are not immune to this. "David Seville and the Chipmunks" had their names simplified to "The Chipmunks" before they officially became "Alvin and the Chipmunks".
    • This was less from fame and more from the fact that creator Ross Bagdasarian's stage name was David Seville. After his death, his son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., inherited the Chipmunks, but did not do much with them for a few years; when he did, followed in his father's footsteps, taking the stage name 'Alvin Chipmunk' and also doing all of the voices of the characters using the same methods as his father. Thus the change in name over the years from David Seville to Alvin.
  • During The '80s, radio DJs would often announce Genesis songs as "Phil Collins and Genesis", as though Genesis were merely Collins's backing band.
    • The cover art for the 2006 reissuing of their very first single, "The Silent Sun", credited the group as "Peter Gabriel and Genesis". This might have been for clarity, since by 2006, Phil Collins had long since established himself as the new frontman.
  • The Stooges became Iggy & the Stooges for quite some time because of Iggy Pop's popularity. Eventually it became just the Stooges again.
  • The song "Careless Whisper" was credited as a George Michael solo effort initially in the UK but became Wham! featuring George Michael internationally.
  • Initially conceived as a Tony Iommi solo record, "Seventh Star" eventually became Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.
  • Rainbow's 1975 debut album was titled Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, even though Ronnie James Dio was clearly the frontman.
  • Selena Gomez's band was (at Gomez's own request) originally just "The Scene" , but to capitalize on Selena's fanbase and name-recognition, it became Selena Gomez & The Scene.
  • The Final Cut is credited to "Roger Waters, with Pink Floyd''.
  • Marc Bolan AND T-Rex
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was this for David Bowie during his Ziggy period, and he even went so far as to write a song about it.
  • Before one live performance, The Doors were introduced as "Jim Morrison and The Doors." However, Jim Morrison refused to go onstage afterwards and insisted that they be introduced as just "The Doors."
  • Like the Hatsune Mix example above, official events and crossovers featuring the Crypton Vocaloidsnote  are usually branded under "Hatsune Miku". Not even "Hatsune Miku feat. Crypton Vocaloids", just Miku's name, as though the other four were supporting cast.
  • The Machine in Florence + the Machine originally referred not to Florence's band as a whole but to her keyboardist, Isa Summers. The two first billed themselves as "Florence Robot and Isa Machine" before condensing the name.
  • The DeFranco Family released their albums as "The DeFranco Family, Featuring Tony DeFranco".


    Video Games 
  • The Nicktoons Unite! series eventually got to the point where it was billed as "SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons" rather than just "Nicktoons." Considering that the series had been slowly becoming a Spotlight-Stealing Crossover, the title is actually fitting.
    • In Europe, the series was entitled "SpongeBob SquarePants and Friends" since the beginning.
  • While the Marvel Universe LEGO Adaptation Game is appropriately titled LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the DC Universe equivalent remains to be under the wing of the LEGO Batman label, even in its third installment, which is primarily about Superman's villain Brainiac and the various Lantern corps. Eventually subverted with the fourth game, which is titled LEGO DC Super-Villains and thus no longer has Batman's name in the title.
  • The PlayStation port of Addiction Pinball was renamed Worms Pinball.
  • The 360/PS3 "sequel" to the Sega Genesis Collection is entitled Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in America but Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection in Europe.
  • GB Bomberman was retitled Wario Blast: featuring Bomberman outside Japan, even though it was Wario being shoehorned into a Bomberman game rather than the other way around.
  • The MSX2 sequel to the original Metal Gear was titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, with the "Solid Snake" portion spelled in bigger letters (some official sources even go as far to call the game Solid Snake: Metal Gear 2, much like the Rambo example above). However, the series subverted this with the third game, Metal Gear Solid for the Play Station. While "Solid" is indeed part of Solid Snake's codename, the word also has some significance besides the main character (mainly that it's the third Metal Gear and the first one in 3D).
  • An inversion: in Japan, the Castlevania series is known as Akumajou Dracula ("Demon Castle Dracula") and with a few exceptions (particularly Vampire Killer for the Mega Drive, the Japanese version of Castlevania: Bloodlines), all of the games in the series have been released under the Akumajou Dracula name until the second GBA game, in which Konami attempted to adapt the overseas title of Castlevania for the Japanese versions due to Dracula's downplayed role in the newer games. It didn't quite work out and after fan backlash, the series went back to being called Akumajou Dracula in Japan.
    • In Japan, Castlevania never had a consistent title up until later games. The second Famicom game was titled Dracula II, the third one was Akumajou Densetsu (Legend of the Devil's Castle), the first two Game Boy games were known as Dracula Densetsu (Legend of Dracula) and the Mega Drive game was called Vampire Killer (a title previously used for the European version of the MSX2 Akumajou Dracula). It wasn't until Chi no Rondo for the PC Engine that the full Akumajo Dracula name started to be used more frequently in sequels.
  • Mega Man Zero. Despite popular belief, the "title" character is not a "Mega Man", it's Mega Man X's friend Zero.
  • Inversion: the sequels to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney downplayed the "Phoenix Wright" portion of the title after the localization staff realized that the fourth installment would feature a new protagonist, which ended up being released as Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
  • Jak and Daxter turned into Jak II with the second game. Of course, since it went Darker and Edgier with that game, removing the comic relief sidekick from the title made sense. Incidentally, Daxter seemed to gain more involvement as the series progressed. Jak & Daxter is one of the few games where he isn't playable in some sense.
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. To be fair, over a third of the characters are from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
    • The sequel takes it up a notch, removing "Sega" out of the title and simply calling it Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. To be fair in this case, the game has a number of characters who aren't from Sega properties.
  • The Data East beat 'em up Dragon Ninja became Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja when it was released in North America to simply Bad Dudes when it was ported to the NES. A Justified Trope, since the titular "Dragon Ninja" was actually the main bad guy.
  • Not quite a character, but a similar idea: Final Fantasy Chronicles for the PlayStation is a Compilation Rerelease... but only one of the games is a Final Fantasy title (Final Fantasy IV). The other is Chrono Trigger.
  • Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is a curious example. On the SNES, a game from the Ganbare Goemon series was released in English as Legend of the Mystical Ninja. It seems that Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon was an attempt to keep the Mystical Ninja name for the franchise in the US whilst also having the main character's name in the title. In the European release's logo, the words "Starring Goemon" are much bigger than "Mystical Ninja." So, in a sense, Goemon is stealing the spotlight from himself.
    • It's also worth mentioning that the Ganbare Goemon game featured in the English Konami GB Collection Vol. 3, which uses the same logo, is simply called Starring Goemon in the game itself.
  • The classic arcade Beat 'em Up Captain America and the Avengers had Captain America as only one of a team of four playable characters. A voice clip exclaiming "The Avengers!" supports the notion that Captain America was shoehorned into the game's title.
  • Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure: Spyro the Dragon is only one character out of thirty-two, and within the game itself has no more prominence than any of the others, other than being one of the three packaged with the game.note  Furthermore, the sequel is titled Skylanders: Giants, taking Spyro out of the spotlight completely.
  • Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition was retitled Pokémon Conquest for North America, most likely because Nobunaga's Ambition is a fairly obscure series in America.
  • In-Universe example in Sonic Mania. If you beat the & Knuckles Mode as Knuckles, you get a special ending in which it's revealed that the whole Knuckles & Knuckles playthrough was just a retelling of the game by Knuckles called Sonic Mania & Knuckles.
  • The Sega 32x game Chaotix was retitled to Knuckles Chaotix for the international release, simply because Knuckles happened to be one of the playable cast.
    • The title screen still gives the title as simply Chaotix but gives Knuckles a special "Featuring" credit.
  • While many Pico games are titled after the character who leads them, others will have Pico's name in the title despite not being the main character.
    • Pico vs. Überkids is about Nene, Darnell, and Pico (in that order) taking turns playing Russian Roulette with the titular New Transfer Students. Despite being the last of the three to play, he gets top billing, though he came up with the idea first. The same goes for its Fan Remake Pico Roulette, which has him as just one of many playable characters.
  • Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-Tachi no Banka was given the Market-Based Title River City Girls Zero when translated. While this is meant to indicate that this is the game Misako and Kyoko's River City Girls incarnations are based on, the main characters were Kunio and Riki; the girls, while playable, were along for the ride.

  • MS Paint Adventures referred to the four series that ran on it: Jailbreak, Bard Quest, Problem Sleuth, and Homestuck. Due to Homestuck's overwhelming popularity, however, Viz Media rebranded the site to, logos, hyperlinks and all. The other 3 are still on the site, though they're given little advertising beyond the "Read" and "Extras" pages.

    Western Animation 
  • Winnie the Pooh spun off My Friends Tigger & Pooh
  • The latest X-Men Animated Adaptation was Wolverine and the X-Men (2009)
  • The Real Ghostbusters to Slimer! and The Real Ghostbusters
  • Rocky and His Friends featured Rocky and Bullwinkle cliffhanger shorts. After a while, the name of the overall show became The Bullwinkle Show.
  • Gargoyles to Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), whereas the original action figure line and comic books were simply called Masters of the Universe.
  • By the same token, the Mattel toyline "Wheeled Warriors" was adapted into Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.
    • Which, it should be noted, originally had no such things as plot or characters. Those were all supplied by the show.
  • The pilot of My Little Pony has gone by many subtitles. While most names are general, one of them is "Firefly's Adventure"; Firefly is the most prominent Pony in the pilot.
  • The Disney Wartime Cartoon "Donald Duck in Nutzi Land" was retitled "Der Fuehrer's Face" when the song from the cartoon became a hit.
  • Given Charles Schulz' dislike of the Peanuts title for his comic strip, every animated work based on it during his lifetime was titled after Charlie Brown or Snoopy. It was only after his death that The Peanuts Movie and the French Peanuts TV cartoon were allowed their titles.
    • The opening for The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show shows Charlie Brown painting his name on a blank sign as part of the show title, then Snoopy cuts in to paint his name on the sign to finish it off.