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Supporting Protagonist

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"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
David Copperfield, opening lines

In many genres, we expect the story to be told from a specific Point of View, with a certain character role that is expected to be The Protagonist. Some writers like to mix it up by choosing someone that does not have the central role in the story and tell the story from their perspective. This is the Supporting Protagonist: someone who would normally be a secondary character by conventions of the genre but is actually the main character in the story. When done correctly, this provides a Point of View other than what's typical. When done wrong, it can easily lead to the character becoming The Load.


In many cases, this means choosing someone other than The Hero to be the protagonist. For instance, the story follows the Big Good as they watch The Hero on their adventure. In this case they are also the Supporting Leader. In another case the story could follow the Sidekick as they support the hero. The third case is Supporting Protagonist being The Hero, but not The Chosen One. It can also be that we follow this protagonist for much of the story, but the one who gets to resolve the in-story conflict is not him/her.

In a mystery, it means choosing someone other than the detective. In a Romance Novel, it means choosing someone other than the lead character. In Historical Fiction, it means choosing someone other than the important historical figure.

It's common in Japanese works with a supernatural touch (Light Novels, Fish out of Water scenarios, etc.) in order to have somebody to spout exposition to. In Real-Time Strategy games, this usually happens in conjunction with Non-Entity General.


This trope is often a good way to deconstruct the conventions of a given genre or character archetype, such as a "normal" person reacting to the many bizarre things that RPG characters tend to do, or a level-headed secretary constantly trying to propose saner alternatives to the Insane Admiral's shenannigans.

A sister trope to A Day in the Limelight, where just part of the story doesn't center around the expected protagonist, and First-Person Peripheral Narrator, in which the character is not the protagonist at all, but is the narrator of the story.

Compare Deuteragonist and Hero of Another Story. Contrast with Hero Protagonist and Decoy Protagonist (the character who appears at first to be The Protagonist but is not). See Secondary Character Title, when the character the work is named after isn't the protagonist.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Koyomi Araragi from Bakemonogatari is the main character and plays a key role in the arcs, but it's often the girls themselves who are the focus and have to solve the problems themselves in the end.
  • Rock in Black Lagoon starts off as a First-Person Peripheral Narrator to the Lagoon company and Revy in particular, but as the story progresses he gets a considerable amount of Character Development while going from The Load to a Guile Hero.
  • In Bloom Into You, we're initially led to believe that we'll be following Yuu's love story with her senpai, Touko (and we do, to a degree). However, the more we follow Yuu's story, the more it's made clear that it's Touko who fits the bill as a romance protagonist, given how she is actively pursuing Yuu and is often the one who reacts like a romance heroine whenever she's around her Love Interest. Eventually, when Touko's deep self-esteem issues are brought to light, Yuu is the one who takes action to help Touko.
  • Bubblegum Crisis: While Priss is the face of the series, the narrative has more to do with her leader, Sylia Stingray, who serves as the Genom Corporation's chief opposition. Though the series was cut short before it had the chance to delve into her past, and reveal that she may not be human.
  • Code:Breaker: Sakurakouji Sakura is the viewpoint character of the series. Despite being quite important due to her status as a Rare-Kind, much of the manga focuses around Ogami.
  • Doraemon: According to Fujiko F. Fujio in volume 0, Doraemon is the protagonist. In a 1989 interview note , the creator stated that Nobita is the secondary protagonist. Doraemon drives the plot, however, it’s ultimately about Nobita trying to improve his future with the help of Doraemon and his gadgets.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: While Daisuke/Davis may be the one who saves the day with his partner at the end of the two halves of the season, the story focuses more on Ken Ichijouji, who is for the most part a focal point throughout all of it.
  • Don't Meddle with My Daughter!: While Athena is the main heroine of the series, the narrative has more to do with her daughter, Clara, since Athena has to protect her without being seen. This means subjecting herself to Deepthroat's sexual harassment to keep them from getting to Clara.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Yes, Goku is undoubtedly the main character, but there are times when Gohan is more the protagonist, especially considering the series focused a great deal on his character development. Whenever Goku's written out in some way (recuperating, ill, dead, training, etc), chances are, Gohan takes over as the main character, particularly for the Namek saga (pre-Frieza fight), Garlic Jr. saga, the Cell Games (where he defeats the main villain), and was meant to take over as the lead for good in the Majin Buu saga (with the beginning of the arc told from his perspective). But Goku returned nonetheless. Gohan's importance wanes by the very end of the series, like everyone else in the franchise not named Goku (and sometimes Vegeta).
    • Trunks, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Krillin all step into the protagonist role in roughly equal measures in the early Cell Saga as Goku recovers from an illness, with each one having a distinct arc: Trunks wants to avert his Bad Future and impress his father and grows increasingly frustrated with his seeming inability to do either; Vegeta just wants to become stronger than Goku no matter who he has to step on to get there; Piccolo ends up re-fusing with Kami in an ultimately futile attempt to destroy Cell, which renders the Dragon Balls inoperable for a while; and Krillin is assigned to terminate #18 before Cell can absorb her but ends up falling for her instead.
    • Also Trunks and Bardock are the leads of their respective TV specials, with Goku making little more than cameos in each. Also, Gohan once again takes over as main character in a couple of the films (with Trunks and Goten as major supporting characters). The final film focuses more on Trunks than anyone else, even with Goku back.
  • In Ergo Proxy, Re-l Mayer is the protagonist for the first two episodes, after which the story will shift back and forth between her and Vincent Law, The Hero and eponymous character.
  • Lucy of Fairy Tail. Of the main cast members, Natsu is definitely The Hero: he's got the personality, is the most likely to take action, and is the one most likely to fight the main villain of the arc (the exception are either when another character has a closer association with the villain, or Natsu is so outclassed only the strongest members of his guild can take him). However, Lucy is the one that plot follows the most, meaning she is either the protagonist or at least co-protagonist.
    • In-universe, Lucy is a writer and it's hinted a few times that the novel she's working on is about Fairy Tail. So it's likely that Fairy Tail is her story... about Natsu.
  • Saito from The Familiar of Zero is the "Familiar of Zero" in the title. Zero herself is the one directing the story.
  • While not the case in the original manga and anime, the film Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos plays this straight in regards to Edward and Alphonse Elric. Yes, they're still the main characters, but the true protagonist of the film's story is Julia Crichton.
  • Eiji Shigure in Gravion. Though the story is mostly told through his viewpoint, he's only the leg of the eponymous Combining Mecha. He later graduates to the chestplate of the Mid-Season Upgrade.
  • Megumi Aino/Cure Lovely of HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! can be seen as filling this role as a lot of the story focuses on Princess Hime/Cure Princess and her Must Make Amends backstory. However, Megumi makes up the lack of major focus by being very good with her powers, and she gets a lot more focus in the final arc of the anime.
  • Tomoki from Heaven's Lost Property sort of fits this; although he's the center of the harem, and it's hinted at that he's The Chosen One, the drama is largely surrounded the angeloids, and the one who's actually trying to solve the mystery of Synapse is Sugata.
  • Kagome of Inuyasha is the main character, and viewpoint character, of the series. Despite that, the plot focuses more on Inuyasha, who does the fighting and has a more personal reason to fight Naraku. However, Naraku himself specifically notes, that it's Kagome, not Inuyasha, whom he has reason to fear, because she can purify the sacred jewel while Inuyasha can only find the shards.
  • Tylor in Irresponsible Captain Tylor is inscrutable, as no one can tell whether he's a lucky idiot or a genius. Yuriko and Yamamoto tend to be the viewpoint characters.
  • In Jewelpet Happiness, Chiari might be the human protagonist, but the most important thing she does is help out at the Cafe, while the story is really about Ruby's mission to collect the Magic Gems.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Koichi in Part 4. Koichi gets more screentime in the story, almost as much as the main character Josuke. He is the first new character that appears in the story and his popularity is such that he also appears at the beginning of Part 5.
    • Bruno Buccellati in Part 5. He leads his own sub-gang and is the first to lend meaningful support to protagonist, Giorno Giovanna. A lot of the story focuses around him rather than Giorno.
  • Nanami is the main character of Kamisama Kiss and we see the story from her point of view. However, a good deal of the plot tends to focus on Tomoe and his Dark and Troubled Past and for most of the story so far Nanami has relied upon Tomoe's powers and abilities for protection and to accomplish her goals.
  • In A Lazy Guy Woke Up as a Girl One Morning, the protagonist, Hayasaka, is actually the roommate and kohai of the lazy guy turned girl, Yasuda.
  • Volume 2, chapters 8 and 9 of the manga adaptation of the Little Witch Academia (2017) series gives a Perspective Flip for the Fountain of Polaris arc from the side of the nonmagical aristocrat Andrew Hanbridge, and how he came about befriending The Hero Akko and unwittingly ending up in her own main quest.
  • While Nanoha might be the title character of Lyrical Nanoha, the focus of the series has always been more about the people around her (for example, the first and second seasons were about Fate and Hayate respectively). In fact, Nanoha herself never even comes face to face with any of the Big Bads until the Detonation movie. This also happens in the Spin-Off ViVid Strike!, which focuses far more on Rinne than it does on Fuka.
  • Magi: Labyrinth of Magic has an interesting subversion. Aladdin is The Chosen One, a magi, but he is meant to choose the next king, Alibaba, who is the more traditionally heroic character and the All-Loving Hero. However, they are also Deuteragonists to each other.
  • The Power Trio of Arika, Nina and Erstin aren't the real protagonists of the My-Otome manga - it's Mashiro's twin brother.
  • Maken-ki!: Takeru is both the main character and the hero of the story, but most conflicts are resolved by others. Most often by Himegami.
  • Zenkichi from Medaka Box. He's the primary viewpoint character and male lead, but it's Medaka who acts as The Hero, and converts previous antagonists to allies. He becomes more and more important to the plot, and is also her Morality Chain. The Big Bad of a later arc even lampshades this, stating that he's the type that that's always supporting someone else, never the main focus.
  • Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam pulls a bit of zigzagging with this trope. While Tobia Arronax is the POV character, it is Kincaid Nau (alias Seabook Arno) who is the main pilot of the titular Humongous Mecha and is responsible for most of the victories of the Crossbone Vanguard. However, during the final parts of the story, Tobia comes into his own following a string of moments of badassery, finally gets his own Gundam, and winds up saving the world; while Kincaid is put into the role of the Supporting Leader. In the end, Kincaid retires, Passing the Torch to Tobia, who goes on to become a fully-fledged main character in all of the sequels.
  • Athrun Zala fills this role in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, being The Mentor to Decoy Protagonist Shinn, and following the midseason perspective switch, foil to Kira. The story's told from his point of view for most of the series—and even more so in the compilation movies—and its his interactions with the other two that define the show.
  • Saji Crossroad, during the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. The heroes are, of course, Celestial Being. Saji also pilots the support machine for the eponymous mobile suit which acts as the catalyst.
  • While Kou Uraki and the Albion crew in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory are the protagonists, the OVA places more focus on Delaz, Gato and Cima. As well as the masterminds behind the Titans from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
  • Nozaki may be the titular character of Monthly Girls Nozakikun, but we're mainly following the story from the perspective of Chiyo and her experience in working as an manga assistant for Nozaki and the escapades they get into to better understand shoujo manga.
  • One Piece:
    • While Luffy is the protagonist and his dreams are still the primary Myth Arc, the stories often focus on larger implications and conflicts such as the balance of the Great Powers. While Luffy always takes on the Big Bad, there are times when the main character arc is someone else(i.e. Usopp in the Syrup Village arc, Nami in the Arlong Park arc, Vivi in the Alabasta Arc)
    • Trafalgar Law, King Riku, Kyros, and Rebecca in the Dressrosa arc all have much more direct axes to grind with Doflamingo than Luffy does, but all ultimately yield to him the duty of actually taking him out.
  • Persona 4 Golden: The Animation is the second anime adaptation of Persona 4, adapting the scenes from the Updated Re Release Golden which introduces the character Marie, who in the anime also gets an Adaptation Expansion and has several scenes not featured in the Golden game. Thus, the playable protagonist of the games Yu Narukami ends up taking this role to Marie, especially compared to his own expansion in the original Persona 4: The Animation. In anime for Golden he is instead focused on helping Marie in her larger character arc.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: While the series was running, Gen Urobuchi outright stated that, while the series has her name in the title, Madoka is actually meant to be a supporting character, and the true protagonist is Sayaka. This is not entirely true. While Sayaka is the most traditionally heroic character, Madoka remains the primary viewpoint for the majority of the series. Once the series was over he admitted that in reality Homura is more accurately the real protagonist.
  • In Rainbow, Mario is the main character despite Sakuragi being The Hero and Big Good. One could also say that Sakuragi is the main character at first until he dies, and the role then goes to Mario.
  • In Ranking of Kings, the story starts by quickly establishing Bojji’s ordeal with his body limitations preventing others from seeing him as the great future king that Bojji dreams of becoming, with that Bojji journeys on to make himself capable in any way he can past his limits. After that the plot and characters become increasingly more intricate, focusing a great deal on how the side-cast better (or worsen) themselves due Bojji’s indirect, and sometimes direct, actions.
  • Reborn! (2004) has Reborn, whose job is tutoring the main character Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada. And Tsuna has to solve his conflict by himself, with some help of his guardians and Reborn.
  • Sota Mizushino from Re:CREATORS is the viewpoint character and male protagonist, but he is a real-life person surrounded by fictional characters that have come to life, which means he has to rely on his friends for protection, especially Selesia. He even straight-up admits in the beginning that the story is not about him, even if he is the main character.
  • Tougo Asagaki, the titular Red Ranger of The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World gets top billing and is the main character, he ultimately travels with Idola to help her with her goals before his own because of his belief that he ended up in her world for a reason.
  • Tsukune Aono from Rosario + Vampire is the viewpoint character and male lead, but as a Non-Action Guy early on he generally relied on his friends for protection, especially Inner Moka. Even after he Took a Level in Badass, he remained a Technical Pacifist, though he's become much more of a Hero Protagonist in recent chapters. In addition, while he does grow into The Hero, Moka and her family become the primary focus of the story.
  • Jun from Rozen Maiden is this to Shinku; he's the master of Shinku (though she treats him like a servant), Hinaichigo (indirectly) and Suiseiseki and in the manga, eventually Souseiseki as well, but he himself is a Non-Action Guy most of the time, though he can provide useful support from the sidelines. Justified, since he's a human child and an unathletic hikikomori, and both the heroes and the antagonists are superpowered dolls.
  • Ruin Explorers: Ihrie and Fam are the eponymous explorers, but the series has more to do with Prince Lyle and his quest for vengeance against Rugudurull, for the massacre of his people and his fiance. The girls simply team up with him to help him out, since Ihrie knows the only spell that can bypass Rugudurull's defenses.
  • She and Her Cat, a short Slice of Life story about a young woman, told through the perspective of her cat (who, being a cat, doesn't fully grasp what's happening in her life outside the apartment).
  • Shimoneta: Tanukichi gets drawn into the narrative shortly after a chance encounter with Ayame Kajou, while she's disguised as 'Blue Snow'. This event inspires her to create SOX and draft him as its first member. From then on, Tanukichi provides commentary on Ayame, the people they meet, and their group's actions.
  • Sakuragi from Slam Dunk. He is definitely the main character of the story, with his development becoming more and more important to the plot. However, Rukawa and Akagi fit the hero mold better, as the Team Ace and Captain respectively. They are often the ones who carry the team.
  • So, I Can't Play H! mainly focuses on Lisara's search for the fabled "One", said to possess the power to potentially save Grimwald. Whereas her partner, Ryosuke, spends half the series on the sidelines watching her fight, unless he's needed to recharge her energy. Even after he gains possession of the legendary sword, Ghram, Lisara remains the series' heroine.
  • Everybody in Sonic X Season 3, plays this towards Cosmo the Seedrian. As it turns out in the second-to last episode, she was destined to die from birth.
    • Prior to this, most of the cast, especially Chris, usually played this to Sonic, who despite being the main hero, often got the least spotlight and development each episode.
  • A variation in Soul Eater. Despite being the eponymous character, Soul is The Lancer, and the story's protagonist role is taken up mostly by Maka. Then we have Black Star, who thinks he's the Hero because he's a loud-mouthed egomaniac but on Maka's team he's more likely to fill The Big Guy role and yet he has such textbook shounen traits when he rescues Kid from the Book of Eibon.
  • SPY×FAMILY has Anya. While the main character is ostensibly Loid, as him needing to create a fake family as a cover for his newest assignment is what kickstarts and drives the main plot, it's Anya's actions that much of the story ends up hinging upon, as she's fully aware of everyone's secrets and actively works to makes sure all their masquerades are maintained whenever her "parents" drop the ball.
  • Both SSSS.GRIDMAN and its sequel, SSSS.DYNɅZENON, seem to prefer having their designated viewpoint character not be the main focus of their respective stories:
    • Yuta from GRIDMAN, being the one who merges with titular character, is The Hero of his series, but the story is ultimately about Akane.
    • Yomogi from DYNɅZENON controls Dyna Soldier, the core component of the titular mech, but Gauma is the the one who serves as the main pilot when combined, and is the one driving the plot.
  • Super Dreadnought Girl 4946's main and title character is Mana Eimiya, but the story is told from the perspective of her muggle love interest Tobita.
  • Simon takes this role in the first third of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, up until Kamina dies. In this case, however, it's not a viewpoint shift, but the viewpoint character becoming the protagonist as he comes into his own.
  • The first season of Tower of God is the story of Twenty-Fifth Bam. The second season is the story of Ja Wangnan, who meets the new Bam five years later.
    • However this might now be with the way the Season Two is a going a Averted trope. After the Workshop Battle Ficus and view point has almost completly shifted to Bam and Khun like back and Season One with the prime Myth arc of Season Two is currently finding the truth behind Bam's true power.
  • For the first few eps. of Trigun we mostly see Vash from Meryl's point of view, and don't even get confirmation he is the real Vash the Stampede for some time. This doesn't last- we get very deep in Vash's psyche by the end.
  • In Vinland Saga, main character Thorfinn spends the first arc mostly as a hanger-on to deuteragonist Askeladd, more concerned with his own revenge than the Danish-English war that Askeladd is actively influencing. Thorfinn comes into sharper focus during the later arcs, as he begins taking a more active role in his own narrative and seeks to change and affect the world around him.
  • Yugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga Inai has Chihiro. While the plot revolves around both her and Yugami, much of the story tends to focus on events in Yugami's life while Chihiro mostly serves as the Character Narrator.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, Kaiba gets the most amount of character development and it's his goals and actions that ultimately drive the plot. In the tie-in prequel manga, Yugi and friends aren't featured at all. However, it's ultimately up to Yugi to defeat the movie's villain as usual. The movie was meant to give Kaiba's character the closure it never got in the manga, as he just screws off after Battle City and is never heard from again.

    Audio Plays 
  • Gallifrey: Narvin is unambiguously stated by the series' creator to be the protagonist, since everything that happens revolves around him, and he's the only character who cares more about the plot than about his own personal goals. However, his role to the story is a supporting one.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw Dunstan, our viewpoint character, is simply a young noble who follows around the legendary warrior out of a sense of admiration and duty.
  • Star Wars: Tag & Bink follow the adventures of two bumbling rebels during the events of the Star Wars films. They also turn out to be Jedi Padawans during the events of the prequels.
  • Jed from the Star Raiders graphic novel. He starts off as one of the three main characters, but halfway through the story he's sidelined into irrelevancy.
  • Art Spiegelman (or at least his Author Avatar) in Maus as the story follows him and his attempt to record his father's experience throughout the Holocaust. However, the story is clearly about his father Vladek and his Holocaust experience.
  • By the end of the story, despite their name being in the title, it's pretty apparent that The Avengers in Avengers vs. X-Men are there to punch people and provide a "down in the trenches" viewpoint. The actual main characters are Cyclops, Scarlet Witch, and Hope Summers, with input from Emma Frost and, oddly enough, Iron Fist as well.
  • This was a bad problem with Sonic in his own title between the end of the Sonic Adventure arc and the start of Ian Flynn's run as Karl Bollers and Ken Penders were really notorious on focusing on those not named Sonic.

    Fan Works 
  • A Certain Unknown Level 0: Kamijou Touma is the title viewpoint character of the story, but most of the time the story focuses more on the various supporting/minor characters.
  • Although Clopson is the protagonist of Songs Uncle Sings, Breeze is obviously the main focus of the story.
  • In the main story of The Legacy of the Blood Ravens, Nathaniel Augustine, Ocella Lyon, and Nikephoros are all supporting protagonists. However, as the story goes on (and people die), they grow to become true protagonists of their own.
  • The Brightburn fic A Monster's Nature basically does this for Caitlyn Connors; she's essentially the Lana Lang/Lois Lane to Brandon Breyer's Superman (making the necessary moral adjustments) and yet the story focuses on her perspective of events rather than Brandon's.
  • The Dragon Age: Inquisition AU story Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium gives this role to Varric. He's the point of view character whose thoughts and emotions are shown to the reader; however, the hero of the story is the Inquisitor, which in this case is Bethany Hawke.
  • Sandy serves as one in The Bikini Bottom Horror since most of the comic is shown from her point of view. The story is about a Patrick clone called "The Tortured One", with Squidward as the main hero.

    Film — Animation 
  • Cars 2 has Lightning McQueen, protagonist of the first, falling into this as his buddy Mater becomes the center of a espionage plot and thus the focus of the movie.
  • Cars 3 revolves around Lightning coming to terms with the fact that he is not the hero of this story but rather the mentor to Cruz Ramirez.
  • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Aladdin is the moral centre of the story, but the true protagonist of the movie is Iago, who gradually defects from Jafar.
  • Song of the Sea has Ben. Despite the fact that he's the central character, it's his sister, Saoirse, who's the important one.
  • Tip is considerably the main protagonist of Home (2015), but the story deals with Oh's Character Development in learning empathy towards other species. Same can be said about The Boss Baby, Tim Templeton is the protagonist, yet the story puts more emphasis on Boss Baby (aka, Ted) and his mission to save Baby-Corp from a competitive crisis in the hands of Puppy-Co (with Tim helping him out).
  • In the second half of Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph's story tends to take a backseat to Vanellope's. But even that was eventually overtaken by Calhoun/Felix's.
  • The Seventh Dwarf is mostly an adaptation of "Sleeping Beauty," but focused on a sidekick who has to help the Love Interest break the princess's curse.
  • Belle is the POV character of Beauty and the Beast, yet it's the Beast who goes through character development.
  • The Prophet: Both Almitra and Kamila play this role. The narrative is from their POV but the focus of the story is Mustafa.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Andy's story drives the action, but it's Red's evolution as a person that turns out to be the point of it all, making him the "main" character. Made all the more obvious in that he, not Andy, is the narrator.
  • While Holly Golightly is definitely the main character of Breakfast at Tiffany's, her love interest Paul Varjak is the protagonist.
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Dave Stutler is the main character, but Balthazar Blake does the traditional heroic deeds. Interestingly, he's also the Mentor Archetype.
  • Transformers: Sam is the main character, but Optimus Prime is The Hero.
  • Thor: Thor is The Hero, but the story is very much framed by Jane's point-of-view.
  • Mary Poppins: Mary drives the plot, but it's ultimately about George Banks and his realization that he's gotten so wrapped up with his work that he's forgotten about his family, particularly his children Jane and Michael. This is what the title of Saving Mr. Banks refers to, as author P.L. Travers explaining this to Walt Disney is a major plot point.
  • The poster of Deep Blue Sea has Dr. Susan McCallister, whose shark experiments inspires the plot. But it's hard to argue that the protagonists aren't shark wrangler Carter and cook Preacher, to the point both are the only survivors.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Cameron Frye is the character who experiences the most development through the film. Alternative Character Interpretation / Epileptic Trees even goes as far as suggesting that Ferris is merely the manifestation of Cameron's personal desires, and doesn't actually exist.
  • Batman becomes this in both the 90's movies and The Dark Knight Trilogy. He arguably carries the first movies in both series just fine, but in the sequels, he becomes overshadowed by the colorful cast of villains, allies, and love interests. In the Dark Knight Trilogy, for instance, half the villains aren't even defeated by his hand.
  • Word of God describes Spock as this in both this in Star Trek (2009) and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • My Week with Marilyn is shot from Colin Clarke's point of view, though it's clearly all about Marilyn Monroe.
  • Newt Scamander is the protagonist of the Fantastic Beasts series but the story is really about Dumbledore’s eventual defeat of Grindlewald in 1945.
  • The first three films in Pirates of the Caribbean are about Will and Elizabeth's journeys and are primarily told from Elizabeth's point-of-view. However, they get less attention in favor of Captain Jack's story.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
    • Even though Wolverine Publicity is in full effect, Charles is the true protagonist of the film. Wolverine even gets taken out before the climax.
    • Mystique is presented as a villain throughout the movie, but her motivations (to kill the man who tortured and murdered her friends) are heroic, and she's the one who saves the day and stops Magneto at the end.
  • Word of God describes Marty McFly as this in the first and third Back to the Future films, with his parents Lorraine and especially George getting the most development in Part I, and Doc getting it in Part III.
  • Cloverfield: Rob is the protagonist of the film, but the majority of it is seen through the POV (literally, thanks to the Found Footage gimmick) of Hud.
  • Super Mario Bros.: While Mario has the most Character Development and ultimately defeats King Koopa, making him The Hero, much of the plot revolves around Luigi and it is largely his story.
  • The Final Countdown: Warren Lasky is the point of view character throughout most of the film, but contributes little to the development of the plot; the heroic roles are played by Captain Yellen and Commander Owens. Lasky is, rather, the unwitting key to the Stable Time Loop.
  • The Man Who Would Be King: Peachy is the protagonist and the narrator of the story, but the story is really about Danny, "the man who would be king."
  • In Hoffa, the based on a true story about the tough Teamsters Union leader in bed with the Mafia is seen through the eyes and actions of his best friend, played by Danny Devito.
  • Despite being the titular character and the main protagonist of the Mad Max series, Max serves this role starting from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. He's the titular character and the focus of the films, but he's never the hero of the story, instead showing up as a hired hand for the real hero (a la Han Solo in the original Star Wars). Most blatant in Mad Max: Fury Road, where Furiosa is The Hero who has a quest, goes on a Hero's Journey and defeats the Big Bad, while Max tags along and keeps her from getting killed.
    • Max becomes more of a catalyst for the plot, in every case the actual hero wouldn't have gotten anywhere without Max being in the right place at the right time. The people in the Refinery were fighting a losing war of attrition and couldn't escape until Max offered his services and Furiosa's quest would likely have failed early on if Max hadn't gotten caught up in it and swayed to her side.
    • Word of God is that Max is an in-universe Folk Hero who tends to pop up in other people's legends. Thus the Framing Device in the later movies about them being stories told by different storytellers long after the fact.
  • In Ex Machina, though we see most of the movie from his perspective, Caleb is ultimately just an Unwitting Pawn in Ava's escape plan. The movie's true conflict is between Nathan and Ava.
  • Though The Man With No Name is the star A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More is Colonel Mortimer's story, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is Tuco's.
  • The Sandlot: Scotty may be the narrator, and the plot focused on him losing his father's rare Babe Ruth ball, but Benny is more of the hero than he is. It's even worse in the sequel, where Johnnie is the narrator but David is the true protagonist and Hayley the deuteragonist.
  • The Force Awakens, Although the movie ultimately sets up Rey as The Hero, much of the film is told from Finn's perspective. In fact, after the crash-landing on Jaku, Finn is technically The Protagonist of the film up until the climax.
    • The Last Jedi: Rey in this position as well - although she is The Hero who has the primary point of view, it's Kylo Ren, Han and Leia's son and Anakin's grandchild, who has the most important personal journey in the film.
  • The hero of The 13th Warrior is Buliwyf, leader of the group of Norse warriors (which includes point of view character Ahmed ibn Fadlan, the 13th warrior) and is the one who eventually kills the two Wendol leaders.
  • Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Mark isn't the title character, and doesn't do as much to advance the plot as Gleahan or Penelope, but the story revolves around him.
  • In Prom Night (1980), the film is mostly told from Kim Hammond's perspective, despite not being much involved in the main conflict, and wasn't even a target for the killer. This is most likely because she was played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Better (and more interesting) choices for protagonists would be her boyfriend Nick (basically the Final Boy), Wendy (the surprisingly complex Alpha Bitch), and her brother Alex (the killer).
  • Lord of Illusions: Despite Harry's central role in investigating the mysteries behind the film, it could be argued that the movie's conflict is really driven by the feud between Swann and Nix, the respective good and evil sorcerers, especially given that the audience arguably knows more than Harry does. Harry is the main protagonist largely because he is the one willing to combat the forces of evil and protect the innocent directly, while Swann hopes that hiding from them will be enough to thwart their plans while also keeping himself alive. When Harry is the one who arrives to face Nix in the climax, the villain takes one look at him and says;
    Nix: You're not Swann. Who are you?
  • The Rock: Although John Mason is an aged James Bond expy played by Sean Connery himself, Dr. Stanley Goodspeed is the main hero of the movie, and Mason is the one assisting him.
  • The Happiest Millionaire follows the story of the title character and his family, but the POV character is their recently hired butler John.

  • The narrator of E. T. A. Hoffmann's "Das Majorat" ("The Entail") is a 20-year-old law student, Theodor, who accompanies his great-uncle, V., to the Baron von R.'s castle, where V. banishes a ghost, and Theodor falls in love with the Baron's wife and tries to play the hero, only to realize that he has no idea what's going on in the R. family and is of no importance. After they leave, V. tells the story of the last 35 years of the R. family's history which he's been a continuing part of.
  • Sherlock Holmes's Watson may be the most famous case of this in history. Although it's averted in a few stories where Holmes himself narrates when Watson is unavailable.
  • Parker in the Solar Pons. Being a pastiche of Watson, this is all too natural.
  • Chief Bromden is the Unreliable Narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but the primary conflict is between McMurphy and Ratched.
  • By the end of the Midnighters trilogy, the protagonist role has shifted largely to Dess, the Five-Man Band's resident Smart Guy.
  • The Trail of Cthulhu is a novel that is made up of 5 interlocking stories. Each story has its own protagonist, but Professor Shrewsbury is the hero of the main narrative.
  • Beth from the children's book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and its sequels
  • Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Most people agree that the true hero of the story is her father, Atticus.
  • Bryan starts out as one of these in the teen series DRAMA!, but by the third book he's become the focus of the story. This is lampshaded repeatedly.
  • The protagonist of Aimee by Mary Beth Miller is not the eponymous Aimee, in fact the protagonist is not given a name until the last few pages. It's Zoe. She is the girl who was accused of killing Aimee (when in fact Aimee killed herself). The book is all about the protagonist trying to detach herself from the shadow of Aimee's death.
  • Vin from Mistborn- she's the main POV character, but the story itself centers more on her mentor Kelsier. Subverted when Kelsier is killed near the end of the first book, after which Vin shoulders the role of both protagonist and heroine for the remainder of the trilogy, and invoked again when it turns out the prophecy about the Hero of Ages, the one destined to save the world, was about Sazed all along.
  • Discworld:
    • Sam Vimes is an interesting example. He became The Hero of the Watch novels, but when Terry Pratchett wrote Guards! Guards! he thought Carrot was The Hero, and Vimes was a handy pair of eyes to see him through.
    • At the end of Monstrous Regiment, Polly realises that Joan-of-Arc-equivalent Wazzer is the one everyone will really remember.
  • The Dickens novel Our Mutual Friend is presented partly through the viewpoint of Mortimer Lightwood. As the family's lawyer Lightwood has a linking position between the hero and heroine, and is also connected to Eugene Wrayburn, but he has little direct impact on the action until fairly late in the story. In the 1990s BBC adaptation, he also functioned as the narrator.
  • In SkyClan's Destiny, one of the novels in Warrior Cats, Leafstar is the perspective character, however Stick is the main character and the story centers around his struggles with the evil Dodge.
  • While The Tiger's Wife is framed as a story about a doctor delivering medicine to an orphanage at the same time as she's trying to find out some facts about her grandfather's death, the grandfather is really the central figure of the novel.
  • Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict series is narrated by Chase Kolpath. (All except the first novel.)
  • In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Charles Wallace goes Within various people from the past, so he essentially witnesses their stories, and only is it implied that he's even influencing their action. We assume he is, because that's the point of the body surfing, but his action is reduced. Then, when Charles finally reaches 1863 he possesses Within Matthew, a paralyzed young man in New England... who is having a vision of where the real action is taking place: Vespugia, South America! There is the big fight that the entire book has been building up to.
  • In The Supernaturalist, while Cosmo is the protagonist, the story is about Stefan.
  • Charlotte starts off as the viewpoint character in the Mediochre Q Seth Series, and scenes are generally written from her point of view if she's available. However, she's still a sidekick to Mediochre himself.
  • Song at Dawn: The story begins with Estela and follows her most of the time but Dragonetz is more important to the overall plot.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Ben is the protagonist but all he does is follow Daniar and watch her fight evil.
    • Legacy of the Dragokin: Benji, Daniar's son, likewise. The story follows him but he is less involved with the plot than his namesake because he is not sought after.
  • Xenophon is The Hero of Michael Curtis Ford's The Ten Thousand, but the protagonist and narrator is his slave, Themistogenes of Syracuse, a character Ford created for the novel (unlike Xenophon, who was a real person).
  • According to Word of God, in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, both Wills are just sidekicks and the story is actually about Tiny.
  • The Brazilian duology O Caçador de Apóstolos/Deus Máquina uses this trope. The point of view character is not important as a warrior or politician, he's just a writer who used to create false prophecies for one side of the conflict, and now is supposedly telling the truth (still with a few embellishments) in a book, which he promptly burns as he finishes, since no one can know the truth.
  • Parodied in Sir Apropos of Nothing. Apropos starts out this way, but eventually parts ways with the supposed true hero. The next time they meet, he chucks a rock at the hero's head and takes the story by force. The final time they meet, the hero tries to get revenge on Apropos, but is killed by the King's army before he can kill him.
  • A Mage's Power: Eric spends the first half of the story following Basilard, his superior in the mercenary guild, on missions. Then he becomes Kasile's sidekick in her court/political shenanigans. The story follows him the whole time but only on two occasions does he set the agenda.
  • Three Act Tragedy mostly follows the perspective of Mr. Satterwhaite, but the "star of the show", so to speak, is Hercule Poirot'' (whom the former lured into the investigation).
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth is told from the point of view of Axel, but the story largely revolves around his uncle, Professor Liedenbrock.
    • Likewise, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea's main character is Captain Nemo, but its protagonist is Prof. Arronax, and you could also argue that the hero of the story is Ned Land.
  • In Terra Ignota, while Mycroft is the point of view character and plays an important role in nearly every plot, he insists that Bridger is the protagonist since Bridger has the power to change the world while Mycroft does the menial work on the sidelines.
    I am the window through which you watch the coming storm. He is the lightning.
  • Cooking With Wild Game begins with some guy being saved by Ai Fa, an orphan (ding) Barbarian Hero (ding) who is exceptionally skilled at just about everything (ding) and the last surviving member of a proud clan (ding) but due to a Dark and Troubled Past (ding) is ostracized by her tribe (ding). You'd expect her to be the chosen one- or at least that the setting would have a chosen one- but instead it's a fluff-filled story about Asuta persuading the tribe to accept him. Ai Fa acts as his guardian and artistic patron.
  • In Fangs Vampire Spy, when Puppy turns into a human and loses her memory, Fangs writes the mission report in her place until she turns back into a werewolf.
  • The Screwtape Letters: The central conflict of the novel is about Wormwood trying to corrupt the Patient, but everything is told from the perspective of Wormwood's uncle and mentor, Screwtape.
  • Quentin Coldwater The Magicians might think he's the hero of the story, but he's really just a handy pawn for the Beast; he barely helps anyone, sucks in combat, and serves as The Millstone for his friends. The real hero of the story is Alice, who not only saves the day but - as Alice's Story demonstrates, serves as the Watcherwoman's unknowing champion.
  • The .hack Another Birth novels retell the first four games, which star Kite, from the perspective of the Deuteragonist, BlackRose. Played with in that it also tells plenty of original content that expands the series' worldbuilding, and truly paints her as the secondary lead in a Hero of Another Story kind of way (with said other story being another side to the original).
  • Moby-Dick is narrated by Ishmael, but the main character who drives the plot - and whose journey defines the story - is Cpt. Ahab. Ishmael himself does remarkably little over the course of the book.
  • Heart of Darkness is fundamentally a story about Kurtz, the Evil Colonialist, but most of it is told from the perspective of Marlowe, the protagonist sailing up the River of Insanity to find him. There's an extra layer of disconnect with the Framing Story, where Marlowe tells the story of his encounter with Kurtz to a boatload of listeners, including an unnamed narrator (who might be the author himself).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The finale of Ashes to Ashes (2008) reveals that both Sam Tyler and Alex Drake are supporting protagonists for Gene Hunt.
  • Despite being the title character of Castle, Richard Castle is the Supporting Protagonist to Kate Beckett. There's even the Sherlock Holmes comparison: she's a brilliant detective while he follows her about and writes stories about their adventures. Their relationship is central to the show, Castle helps mellows out the emotionally-distant Beckett, and there's oodles of Unresolved Sexual Tension. While the show may take his perspective on events, provides a lot of focus on his family life and furnishes him with a fair bit of Character Development as well, the main overarching arc of the series surrounds Beckett's mother's murder, and he's clearly the Plucky Comic Relief Love Interest to her Broken Bird Hardboiled Detective.
  • Daredevil (2015) gives the primary focus on Matt Murdock, since he's the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. But there's also the character arc of Karen Page, as she goes from being a secretary mentored in investigative reporting under Ben Urich, to a seasoned journalist at the New York Bulletin. Significant portions of Karen's storyline also happen with minimal to no involvement from Matt.
  • The revived series of Doctor Who is often told from the companion's POV.
  • Henry Danger: The titular character and protagonist is the Sidekick to a superhero named Captain Man.
  • Boyd Crowder has become this in Justified, so much so that he had almost equal screentime to Raylan in season 4 so far, even though it was several episodes before they saw each other for the first time in the season and that their stories finally intersected. Now they're competing to find Drew Thompson, and solve the seasons Myth Arc.
  • Done countless times in Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Shinji may be the main Rider, but the story is more focused on Ren and his goal of bringing his girlfriend back. This trope was solidified when Shinji was killed by a Mirror Monster, leaving Ren to win the Rider Fight, which he did.
    • Kamen Rider 555: The first and last episodes are more focused on Yuji than Takumi, as we see him forming bonds with other people, both human and Orphnoch, and then losing his faith in humanity after having lost one of his best friends.
    • Kamen Rider Blade: Kenzaki is the title character, but his role as the protagonist is quickly given to Hajime after his true identity as the Joker Undead was revealed.
    • Kamen Rider Hibiki: Asumu is the protagonist, while Hibiki is the main hero and Oni (Kamen Rider) of the show. Word of God has it that Asumu was originally to have become an Oni himself at the end of the show, but this didn't happen, and even if it had, he still wouldn't have been The Hero for the main run of the story.
    • Kamen Rider Kabuto: Tendou is The Hero but Kagami is the POV character and main protagonist. Tendou shares more traits in common with a typical secondary/supporting Rider.
    • Kamen Rider Kiva: Wataru's father, Otoya, is generally treated as the main protagonist of the season. Not only was he a key character in both the 1986 and 2008 storylines, but he was also the human who originally defeated the King.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: Mitsuzane is this to Kouta, acting as his most prominent ally until his obsession with saving those he loved led to him becoming a tragic, broken caricature of his former self; his quest for redemption is even the focus of the show's epilogue, as he becomes the hero of Zawame City in Kouta's absence.
    • Kamen Rider Drive: While initially a secondary character, Go progresses from a mere drifter to the true hero of the show, being the one who killed Banno, his own father to save the city and the world.
    • Kamen Rider Amazons: While Haruka and Chihiro are the POV characters for the first and second season respectively, the spotlight always goes to Jin and his status as the most prolific Amazon hunter.
  • While Leo is technically the protagonist, Adam, Bree, and Chase are the true heroes of Lab Rats.
  • Mad Men gives the most focus to Don Draper. Yet there's also the character arc of Peggy Olson, who in the first episode gets a low job at Draper's agency and through the series evolves into a respected businesswoman.
  • Merlin plays with this trope, as it is Merlin's story, and he really does seem to be the Chosen One, but once you step back and look at what he's been chosen for... His entire purpose in life, his reason for existing at all in the threads of Destiny is to protect Arthur. Arthur's destiny is to be the greatest king Albion has ever known. Who's the Chosen One now?
    • By the start of series 5, Arthur is King Arthur, with a Cool Sword, Hot Consort and Badass Crew seated at the Round Table. Merlin is still standing around somewhere in the background.
    • Even stranger is what happens in the Grand Finale. The Series Goal of the entire show was always stated as being Merlin and Arthur uniting Albion, legalizing magic and ruling over the Golden Age. And yet the show ends with Arthur dying and Merlin going into self-imposed exile, leaving Queen Guinevere to assume their responsibilities. Assuming that she did indeed inherit their destiny and achieve all that they were originally supposed to do, then hindsight makes her the most important character within the show's narrative.
  • In the first few seasons of The Office (US), newly-hired temp Ryan is the POV character and Only Sane Man to the eccentricities of the other office workers and their ringleader Michael. However, as time passes and Ryan rapidly rises and falls from corporate leadership, the "normal guy" archetype is better filled by Jim.
  • While Power Rangers always has the Red Ranger be The Hero, sometimes they're not the one with the biggest connection to the overall plot:
    • Power Rangers Time Force: Red Ranger Wes may be the focus of the Screw Destiny subplot, but he's still a civilian caught up in a fight that's not strictly his business. It's Pink Ranger Jen who's the official team leader and who has a personal stake, as the Big Bad killed her fiancee. The third subplot is a romance between the two, but it can be considered more Jen's story than Wes' because of the Heartbroken Badass angle. The story supports this considering that it is Jen who is in fact the main confronter of the villain in the finale.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Shane, Dustin and Tori are prophecized to defeat Lothar and the season begins from primarily their perspective. However, Cam, the Sixth Ranger has a familial connection to Lothar while the Thunder Rangers have a personal stake in defeating Lothar since he murdered their parents.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder: Tommy Oliver has a connection to two of the villains in the show - they were former friends of his - and has prior experience as a Ranger but he gets the least amount of focus episodes and development of the entire Ranger team.
    • In Power Rangers S.P.D., Jack is the Red Ranger, but the story is more about the Blue Ranger, Sky, dealing with his issues and evolving into a worthy team leader. Alternately, Commander Cruger is the show's focus, as he's the team's commanding officer and the one who has a personal rivalry with the Big Bad.
    • Dillon is one of the main focuses of Power Rangers RPM, even though he's the Black Ranger, as he's an amnesiac searching for his identity and his missing sister (now The Dragon). A case can also be made that Mission Control Dr. K is the actual main character, as she created the Big Bad and gets the most Character Development throughout the season.
    • In Super Sentai as in Power Rangers the Red Ranger is always the hero, but in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Tsuruhime (White) was the protagonist and most central character.
  • Riverdale is loosely based on Archie Comics, which stars the title character. Here Archie is allegedly the main character, but Jughead is the one who serves as the narrator and point-of-view character.
  • Sherlock is told from the point of view of John Watson, at least in the beginning. He later becomes the Deuteragonist, and we get Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Molly, Mycroft, and later Mary as the Supporting Protagonists.
  • While Sam is The Chosen One in Supernatural with the Myth Arc of the story largely focusing on him, the story is told from his older brother, Dean's point of view. An odd case in that Sam was supposed to fill both roles (he starts out with all the traits of an Audience Surrogate) but Dean quickly ended up being the POV character and the show ended up focusing on Dean's reactions to the plots and events surrounding Sam.
  • Sookie becomes this in True Blood. She's clearly the central character in Season 1 and half of 2, but as the show moved away from the books where she's the first-person narrator, this distinction became increasingly murky until entire plotlines would start and conclude with no involvement from her at all. This trope was the strongest and most justified in Season 5, as Anna Paquin was pregnant at the time.
  • Ultraman Nexus focuses on the life of Komon Kazuki, a member of the Night Raider team. However, he does not transform into the eponymous hero, making him this trope. But he does become Ultraman in the series's finale and thus, ditches this role.
  • The Vampire Diaries has Stefan. He is the second protagonist of the series with Elena being the main protagonist.


  • X Minus One's "The C-Chute": The Character Narrator, Stuart, is not The Hero; Randolph Mullen is. Mullen is the one who comes up with the idea to use the C-Chute to sneak out of the cabin and into the control room, and then put on the space suit to enact the plan when nobody else wanted to try.

  • Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • Mark in RENT. He's the central character, but most of the story revolves around his seven friends.
  • Veta in Harvey. Her brother Elwood is the best friend of the titular character, but the entire plot revolves around Veta's efforts to take care of the giant rabbit.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat:
  • In the original Advance Wars, the player takes control of an unseen military strategist who is assisted by a Commanding Officer (C.O.) in each battle. This was dropped in the sequels.
  • The main protagonist of After I met that catgirl, my questlist got too long! is Vera the Charm Witch, but most of the instigating events are due to Téa, the titular catgirl who's actually a human from London undergoing her own "Isekai" story.
  • The protagonists in the Ar tonelico series are generally secondary to the Reyvateils, who are more important in resolving the game's conflict. This is especially the case with Croix in Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica.
  • Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm: Edge, the player character, is this to the other party members: Iris and Nell.
  • In the original Battle Clash, the player controls the gunner of a giant robot known as a "Standing Tank". The actual protagonist is the robot's pilot, who talks to the player directly before each battle. In the sequel, Metal Combat, there's a cheat code that allows the player to have the pilot address them by name.
  • In BioShock Infinite, the playable character Booker DeWitt is only involved with the events of the game to clear his gambling debt. The focus character of the story is Elizabeth, a girl he's supposed to find and bring to his employers who has reality warping abilities. However this is subverted near the end with the revelations that Elizabeth is actually Booker's daughter who he sold as a baby to clear his gambling debts, and the villain Comstock is Booker from another reality. All of this makes the story suddenly as much about Booker as it is about Elizabeth.
  • Played with in Brütal Legend. Eddie acts like he's one of these and purposely avoids the spotlight, but everyone else knows he's responsible for their success and thank him appropriately.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is not about Soap or Jackson, but much rather Cpt. Price, Gaz, Sgt. Griggs, and strangely enough, Zakhaev.
  • Lucia in Devil May Cry 2. The game's final boss is a demon that was sealed away by Sparda, the father of Dante who is the main protagonist of the previous game. However, Lucia is the character with an actual arc and a connection to the game's main villain Arius who is revealed to be her creator.
  • In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Adell is clearly the protagonist, but Rozalin is the one who gets all the character development and plot twists, and she is ultimately the one who vanquishes Zenon.
  • Played with in Dragon Quest V. It appears that, unlike in Dragon Quest IV and Dragon Quest VI, the protagonist isn't a chosen hero as he cannot equip the Zenithian Equipment; it's actually his son that can. Still, you are in a lead and in a full control over the said hero. This mean you can subvert the trope by ditching the character completely, or play it straight by putting yourself in the reserve and let the chosen fight. Either way, the final boss is killable.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Monkey in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The narrative revolves around Trip as Monkey supports Trip on her journey home and her quest for revenge of the one responsible for the annihilation of her village. It's Trip that kills the main antagonist, Pyramid.
    • Enslaved is loosely based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West, in which this still holds true; ostensibly, it's about a priest named Tripitaka traveling westward to retrieve sacred documents. In practice, it's about Sun Wukong the Monkey King and all the awesome shit he does while he's forced to help Tripitaka on his journey.
  • Eternal Sonata: Allegretto is this to not one, but two possible protagonists - Polka, a girl from a remote village who is the Messianic Archetype catalyst for the "Groundhog Day" Loop that the world is trapped in, and Chopin, who claims that everything and everyone around him is merely one of his dreams. The latter's appearance in their world is destined to end the loop of Polka repeatedly dying/reliving the same seven years over and over. Other than being the player avatar (and even then, that role is switched between him, Polka, and Beat) and acting as Polka's love interest, Allegretto doesn't do much in the main story itself.
  • The Updated Re-release of the original Etrian Odyssey puts you in the shoes of a highlander recruited by the Radha in order to investigate the Yggdrasil ruin. However, the subtitle of the game, Millennium Girl, refers to Frederica Irving, an amnesiac gunner whom you awaken from a capsule while exploring a different ruin that's connected to the one you're searching. Your goal is twofold: assist the investigation team and unlock the secrets of the ruin, and help Frederica regain her lost memories.
  • Fallout:
    • The Fallout: New Vegas Honest Hearts DLC can feel like this as you help Joshua Graham prepare the tribes for the war against the White Legs. And while he effectively becomes your companion for the duration of the final battle, his interactions are limited compared to other companions (for example, you can't trade inventory items or order him to wait), and he'll eventually ditch you and forge on ahead if he feels like you're slowing him down too much.
    • Each of the storyline DLCs in Fallout 4 has the Sole Survivor stay the hero, but the main story of each focuses on another character(s)'s journey, with the Sole Survivor's efforts altering some/all of their story. It roughly goes:
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Tidus in Final Fantasy X is an interesting case. The bulk of the game is that the characters are playing supporting roles in Yuna's quest. They, including Tidus, are merely her guardians while she is destined to defeat the Big Bad. However, Tidus is the game's narrator, and often points out how, "This Is My Story." Indeed, the very first line of the game is, "Listen to my story." We eventually learn that Yuna defeating the Big Bad would get her killed while it would just come back later, and it's Tidus's destiny to truly kill the thing. Thus, Tidus and Yuna swap being The Hero and Supporting Protagonist multiple times throughout the game: starting with Tidus as the hero, then switching to Yuna, then back to Tidus, and finally ending with Yuna.
    • In Final Fantasy X-2, Yuna gets full control of the protagonist role. Even when other characters look like they're going to usurp her role as The Hero, Yuna slaps them back down and says "No. This is my story."
    • Final Fantasy XI has the player character often playing second fiddle to a (usually female) hero NPC in most of its storylines, doing the heavy lifting while the heroines magically appear wherever you go and have most of the interactions with other characters that the player character would have in most single player games.
    • Vaan is the Supporting Protagonist to Ashe (and possibly Basch) in Final Fantasy XII, though Balthier would have you believe different. By his own words, he's "Just along for the ride."
    • Fang and Vanille are the true protagonists of Final Fantasy XIII, but largely thanks to her being featured heavily in the marketing and being a personal favorite of the director, Lightning is largely viewed as the main character, despite her role in the story being comparatively less central.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Lightning has been promoted to Goddesshood and made the overarching protagonist for the XIII universe, but doesn't appear in the game outside the intro. The game is instead played from the point of view of her sister trying to find her. Making Lightning a Missing Protagonist(?). Lightning doesn't finally don the mantle of full protagonist status until the 3rd game, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, where she is the sole playable character.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
      • The player takes control of a faceless tactician who assists the real protagonists, giving the protagonists an excuse to address the player in second-person.
      • There's an extra mode that is unlocked after you beat the main game: Hector mode, where the axe-wielding lord that normally plays The Lancer to Eliwood becomes the main character. However, in the grand scheme of things, Eliwood is still the central character regardless of who's the protagonist.
    • In Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, your player-created Avatar is the main character of the prologue and continues to be a major presence afterwards, but the true main character is Marth.
    • In Fire Emblem Awakening, while your player-created Avatar is the viewpoint character and turns out to be central to the main villain's scheme, the game is really Chrom's story.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, no matter which route you choose, the story truly follows your chosen house leader, with the Avatar taking on the mentor role.
  • Tact Mayers of Galaxy Angel. Although he's the captain of the Elsior which is a capital ship all the work is done by the angels.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has Sveta as its most central playable character, followed by Matthew, then Amiti, followed distantly by everyone else.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • The Mission Pack Prequel Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories has Toni Cipriani as the player controlled protagonist, despite the entire game revolving around him assisting Salvatore Leone's rise to power.
    • As the title suggests, the expansion Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony focuses on Tony Prince, but the view point character the player controls is his right-hand man Luis Lopez.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has three rotating playable characters: Franklin, Michael, and Trevor. The story is told mostly through Franklin’s eyes and he’s the one through whom you’re allowed to make the choices but the narrative is really about Michael and Trevor’s relationship. They’ve known each other for about twenty-five years at that point and Franklin is some random guy Michael just happens to have bumped into.
  • The main reason Trahearne in Guild Wars 2 is so disliked is because the story starts with the feeling that the player character is The Hero, perhaps even the Chosen One, but then Trahearne suddenly appears — completely out of nowhere for non-sylvari players — and steals the spotlight, relegating the player to the Supporting Protagonist role.
  • The Rookie in Halo 3: ODST only begins to affect the story in the last two levels: the rest of the game is spent reliving the experiences of the rest of the squad in the six hours the Rookie was unconscious. The story is largely about Dare and Buck. He explores the Myth Arc though.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: For most of the story, the Batmen are the main characters but the real hero is Superman. As the Batmen lead the assembled heroes to defeat the Regime, Superman attempts to get to the alternate universe to save his friends. By the end of the story, the Batmen realize only Superman is capable of defeating the Big Bad, who happens to be alternate Superman who became evil. Once Superman makes his debut, he kicks everyone's asses.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Link in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is less important to the order of events than usual (compared to the Hero of Time in Ocarina of Time or the Hero of Winds in The Wind Waker). While he is chosen by the gods to carry on the spirit of the hero, and Zelda relies on him to help her reclaim her throne and castle, the majority of the story has to do with the Twilight Realm, the homeland of Midna (who is the "Twilight Princess" of the title). The main antagonist, Zant, has usurped the rule of the Twilight Realm and is serving the whim of Ganondorf by spreading its toxic influence across the land of Hyrule while Midna is determined to restore rightful rule of the realm. Link facilitates that (and becomes a champion of Hyrule in the process) but his contribution ends there.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Link's own quest basically serves as a Framing Device for the story of Zelda struggling to live up to her duty to use her Royalty Super Power to defeat Calamity Ganon. She even deals the final blow against Ganon this time.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online has its central epic quest line, in which you follow along with the characters in the story and run errands for them. So far, every epic "Book" ends with your watching NPCs finish the fight.
  • Life Is Strange: Max Caulfield is the playable character, but the plot is more centered on her friend, Chloe Price.
    • We see this again in Life Is Strange 2. Sean Diaz is the playable character, but his brother Daniel is the true focus of the story.
  • Mass Effect averts this for the most part with Commander Shepard, who is both the protagonist and the hero. However, Shepard takes the passenger seat during Loyalty Missions (to squadmates), in Lair of the Shadow Broker (to Liara) and Omega (to Aria and, to a lesser extent, Nyreen). Shepard's role in those stories is, essentially, to shoot things. And, if Paragon, to act as a Morality Chain to many of them.
    • Shepard also acts as an escort rather than a leader during Mass Effect 3's Tuchanka arc. The real hero is Mordin Solus (or Padok Wiks if the former didn't survive ME2), who develops the cure for the genophage while Shepard is busy shooting things, and sacrifices his life to ensure its delivery.
  • Mega Man X himself. Zero's the one with the most drawn-out, and important, storylines in the series, which is what Keiji Inafune, his creator, originally intended the series to be. Keiji Inafune planned for Maverick Hunter X to be a Continuity Reboot of the series. So, naturally, said Video Game Remake is an exception. Unlike the majority of fan adaptations, it does not expand Zero's role and instead develop X's character.
  • The central Metal Gear canon is rife with this. While Solid Snake is the iconic hero of the series, the games all centre around the villain Big Boss and his impact, yet he is only occasionally played as:
  • Artyom in Metro 2033. Most of the time he is merely following someone more experienced and last part of the game is him essentially helping people who know what needs to be done. He himself does not have much of a goal beyond "Get to Polis", after which he starts following people who react to his news. In Metro: Last Light, he starts having his own agenda and becomes a classic protagonist.
  • The main character in the Neverwinter Nights plague campaign is Aribeth; the player is just the lackey that got sent to do stuff for the political powers with whom he sided.
  • The Featureless Protagonist of The PK Girl is a Supporting Protagonist to Laurie in the main plot. Laurie is the focal character, as the Living MacGuffin and the target of the antagonist, and her attempts to get free of ROSA's clutches drive the plot; the PC's just the guy who does the fighting, heavy lifting and rescue work, and otherwise he's along for the ride. If he's chasing any girl besides Laurie (who is romanced through the main plot), he becomes the protagonist of his own Romance Sidequest, but only two Romance Sidequests tie back into the main story in any way after they start off (Katryn's and Saffy's).
  • Ash in Phantom Brave. Marona is the focus of the plot, but Ash is who you directly control during downtime and the story is mainly told from his perspective.
  • Persona:
    • In the first game, the player character is this in both routes, as the SEBEC route revolves around Maki coming to grips that she created an alternate reality that's trying to overtake the real reality and the Snow Queen route revolves around Yukino's attempts to save Ms. Saeko.
    • The protagonist in Persona 3. While you play as him and he is given the most tragic backstory out of all of S.E.E.S. (and he even sacrifices himself to stop the Big Bad), the game mostly focuses on the rest of S.E.E.S. and how they deal with their own tragic problems (and unlike future games, they do so mostly without the main character's intervention) during their attempts to stop the Dark Hour. Many cutscenes don't even feature the main character, and when he is, he contributes almost nothing to the main plot. This is fixed in the film adaptations, which give him a stronger role in the story and even his own character arc.
  • For reason of having a Heroic Mime protagonist and a strong supporting cast, GLaDOS is the star of Portal, though Chell is the protagonist. You could go the whole game - perhaps even both games - without ever learning her name, or any other reliable fact about her.
  • While both Kogoro and Mii share the protagonist role in Project X Zone, most of the plot involves Mii going on a Hero's Journey to reclaim the Portalstone from Oros Phlox.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: While Arthur Morgan certainly gets his share of Character Development and drives the story, he's really more of this to John Marston. When we meet John in the first game, he's a former gunslinger who is on a Suicide Mission to kill the remaining members of his old gang because his wife Abigail and son Jack are being held hostage by the proto- FBI. When we meet him in 2, twelve years prior he's a dead beat dad to Jack who treats Abigail like crap (they aren't married). Throughout the events of the main story, he begins to treat them better and they become a real family. Arthur ends up sacrificing himself to give them a shot at a normal life. Arthur teaches John that he needs to own up to his responsibilities and be the dad/husband we see in the first game. So much that John ends up sacrificing himself for them at the end of the first game because he realizes they'll never have a normal life with him alive. John gets more Character Development in 2 where he's a major supporting character than in 1 where he's the main character.
  • Subverted in Shadow Hearts: From the New World. Shania appears to be the more important character, with the protagonist, Johnny Garland, just tagging along... then it becomes clear who, exactly, Lady is, and It's Personal.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog takes this role in most of the plot-heavy games of his series when they introduce a new character. Sonic remains The Hero and is generally the one who saves the day, but its the other characters that the plots tend to focus on and get the character arcs. The most notable examples of this are probably Shadow, Emerl, Silver, and the Rookie.
  • StarCraft is about Arcturus Mengsk, Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan, Tassadar, and Zeratul, whereas the PC is just some generic, nameless "magistrate", "cerebrate", "executor", or "captain" (in the Brood War expansion). Word of God has retconned that the Executor of Episode III was Artanis, and presumably the Executor of Ep IV was him or his student Selendis (who is Executor in Starcraft II). The other player characters get fleeting references in the expanded universe to confirm that in the current canon they still exist, but their roles are downplayed because, well, they were always little more than viewpoints for the player to see the characters. The UED captain of the Brood War Terran Campaign, and the two cerebates of the Zerg campaigns are explicitly stated to be dead by the time of StarCraft II, however. The captain died when the Swarm annihilated the UED fleet during its retreat back to Earth; the first cerebrate was killed between Episodes II and III by Zeratul, Tassadar, and Raynor; and the second cerebrate was murdered by Kerrigan between StarCraft I and StarCraft II when she purged the Swarm of all remaining cerebrates. It's somewhat doubtful that the Captain was actually present throughout the campaign, however, since if he was he withheld critical information so as to doublecross himself.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time: Fayt serves as point of view character, but he and Cliff follow Nel's lead while they're stranded on Elicoor II, since they weren't familiar with her world. Which lasts until just after the Vendeeni attacks Aquaria. At that point, Maria enters the picture and assumes the lead role, with Fayt and the others acting as her support.
  • Ryu of the Street Fighter series. While he is the main character, his role in the stories of most of the games tends to be minimal; at the most, he is a Living MacGuffin. Guile was the focus of Street Fighter II due to his motives against Bison, while Abel's mysterious origins serve are the focal point of Street Fighter IV. Street Fighter III has Alex replacing Ryu as the protagonist. Within the series as a whole, most of the major heroic acts are done by Chun-Li while Ryu is focused on finding strong opponents.
    • The Street Fighter Alpha trilogy as well as Street Fighter are the only installments in which Ryu has any importance to the story, even having the most developed endings.
  • While the plot of Super Paper Mario certainly incorporates Mario, Peach, Bowser, and Luigi, the main story focuses on the romance of Blumiere and Timpani. In the end, they're the ones who save the Multiverse.
  • Super Robot Wars
    • In spite of not technically having a "canon" or a proper finale, Fei Yen HD typically plays an important role in a number of stages in Super Robot Wars UX all the same, often obtaining new attacks or abilities along the way, capped off during the Fafner finale when she gains the Emotional Wave IBS.
    • Ultimately, the chosen protagonist of Super Robot Wars V is this towards Nine who has a bigger presence to the plot, undergoes a massive Character Development, interacts with the cast far more than the protagonist, and has ties to the Big Bad. Meanwhile, the subplot for the protagonist is more of their rivalry between Ghuli, Jamie, and the other protagonist.
    • This applies not only to the protagonist, but the Original Generation plot in Super Robot Wars V as a whole. The role of primary hero of the story actually goes to the Yamato and her crew. Much of the game revolves around their quest to save the Earth and in fact the Cosmo Reverse System becomes vital to save all three Earths. By comparison, the OG protagonists are treated with about the same importance as all the other series's involved, and the OG villains are treated as just another obstacle in the heroes way, no different than the Gamilas or the Myceane. Souji/Chitose don't even get to deal the final blow to Nevanlinna. That honor, once again, goes to the Yamato.
    • With the fairly explicit goal of X-Cross being to defeat Doakudar, the original protagonist of Super Robot Wars X is this to Wataru.
    • Super Robot Wars 30: The original protagonist is once again regluated to this as most of the character development goes to the main original generation battleship captain, Mitsuba Greyvalley. In fact, after a certain point, the player character doesn't appear outside of interactions with Mitsuba.
  • Tales Series:
    • Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia in a way similar to Final Fantasy X. It seems the story is more focused on the young girl on a pilgrimage and whom Lloyd is just friends with. Then comes the Tower of Salvation, where the situation causes him to take charge onward.
    • Tales of Legendia has character quest chapters, which switch focuses on every characters in the party. Long story short, Senel is demoted to this between the main quest and the very late portion of the game.
      • Even in the first half of the game where Senel is more clearly the focal character and the controllable protagonist, much of the story focuses on his "sister" Shirley. Even though she's not playable at this point, she nevertheless is very important and central to the goings on during this time of the game, and the progressions of her developing character are extremely important and relevant to the first half's plot. In this sense, this also means that Senel is the supporting protagonist to Shirley in the first half, albeit one with his own focal plot line/subplot. Both of them being focused leads can also be extrapolated by the fact that neither have designated character quest chapters in the game's second half (because the first half was essentially one extended one for the both of them).
      • Going from this, Shirley herself becomes a sort of supporting protagonist during the party-focused chapters of the second half. Often times she will be a voice of reason or encouragement to the party member getting their character quest at the moment. This is most clear with her role in Jay's development during his chapter.
    • Tales of Xillia is the first game that claimed to have two protagonists in the form of Milla and Jude, and the player can choose whose route to follow. But the truth in terms of the plot made it clear that Jude was a supporting protagonist, at best. The plot focuses heavily on Milla — she's the Lord of the Elements, Milla Maxwell, and she is set on going after her mission of keeping the world safe by fighting the terrorist organization Exodus, who keeps the goal moving on ahead. Jude is mostly following along. Their respective routes do end up diverting towards the last third of the game, and giving each their share of the limelight, the general consensus is that Milla's route should be chosen for plot and Jude's route for Character Development among the various party members.
  • Lars in Tekken 6. He may command an entire army, fight waves of soldiers bare-handed and deflect missiles with his wrists, but the Mishima family are the ones doing all the important stuff while Lars runs around punching folks.
  • Eva and Neil are the playable characters in To the Moon, but they function mostly as part of the Framing Device; the story is about Johnny and River, slowly discovered by the two doctors.
  • In Under Night In-Birth, Ordinary High-School Student Hyde Kido is nominally the main character of his series (which is why in Blazblue Cross Tag Battle he gets top billing with the clear protagonists of the other three featured series, Ragna the Bloodedge, Yu Narukami and Ruby Rose) but in fact, the story places a lot more focus on Really 700 Years Old Rebellious Princess Linne and her conflict with finding a way to end the Hollow Nights for good - Hyde is effectively The Lancer to her in this goal.
  • Laura's scenario in Unlimited Saga is told through the eyes of Henri, a displaced Prince who meets her while running from assassins.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Lee is the player controlled character in Season 1 but Clementine is the focus of the series. How she grows up depends on Lee's decisions and how he responds to the new world around him.
    • Clementine ultimately serves as this in season two. The first two episodes are about the new group as a whole, with special emphasis on Nick in episode 2. The last half of the season is centered more on Kenny's losing his sanity and his rivalry with both Luke and Jane.
    • Downplayed in New Frontier: Clem is still a playable character, but only in flashbacks. Her story is treated separately from The Garcias', although she's a major aid to them.
    • Downplayed in Season Four while the story is about her and she still plays a very important role a lot of the story is about AJ’s development and what he learns from Clementine she’s not even the playable character in the ending
  • In White Knight Chronicles, the Avatar designed by the player and used as their point of view character is just a newly hired wine delivery person sent out to assist Leonard with a delivery — a delivery that Leonard botches. This sets the tone for the rest of the game: the story focuses on Leonard and his attempts to play the hero while the Avatar tags along and does their best to clean up the messes left behind by Leonard's ineptitude.
  • Done rather annoyingly in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Most of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom expy chain in uldum involves the character grabbing hold of a major Idiot Ball, and getting saved by Harrison over and over again, while he does the impressive feats, you're either cowering in fear or doing his grunt work.
    • This is common in World of Warcraft. While the player character does his fair share of heroics, most of the major story arcs have another character with a more important role in the story (due to the issues having a faceless character who could be of any race from either faction as a major character would cause). For example, Tirion Fordring is the true protagonist of Wrath of the Lich King. The player character is one of his followers.
  • World in Conflict has a named PC, Lt. Parker, but the real protagonist of the 2/3 of the game is Capt. Bannon (who receives ALL of the Character Development in the game), while the remaining one third focuses on Webb and Col. Sawyer. Same goes for Lt. Romanov from the Expansion Pack, who plays a secondary role to Capt. Malashenko and their common superiors.
  • Rook, the Player Character in Xenoblade Chronicles X, falls into this role, with Elma and Lin being the ones the story focuses on.
    • Although, the game's many, many sidequests do follow the adventures of Rook, rather than Elma or Lin.
  • Leo from Zone of the Enders has a personal journey, but the focus moves more towards the larger conflict and he's ultimately an insect to the villain. He gets the focus on his journey but the true hero is already dead at game start and his journey is just a small part of the much larger story he was sucked into.

    Visual Novels 
  • Most romantic Visual Novels are more about the romanceable characters (and one 'true path' character in particular) than they are about the player character. In the Bishoujo setup, the male lead is often either a nonentity, a loser, or a jerk, and one of the female leads is the real hero. This tends to carry over into their anime adaptations.
  • Fate/stay night is both a literal and figurative example: in the Fate route, Shirou is no match for Saber in combat, and instead supports her with projection and, later, mana. Emotionally, it's his job to break through her stoic exterior and make her happy. Either way, Saber is the primary focus, and the driving force of that route.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: Junpei is the focus character, and you see the story through his eyes. However, the story is really about June/Akane who was the one who instigated everything, and in a twist, the narration is actually from the perspective of Akane from 9 years earlier watching the various possible lives of Junpei in order to learn the answer to a puzzle she as a child was unable to complete which resulted in her death.
  • In Loren: The Amazon Princess, Saren or Eleanor (whichever character you pick) fills this role. The titular Princess is The Chosen One and the game is about her quest, while The Hero is along as Loren's personal slave and sidekick.
  • This seems to be a recurring aspect in 07th Expansion's works:
    • While Keiichi is undeniably The Hero of Higurashi: When They Cry, Rika is the person who experiences the "Groundhog Day" Loop, and the person trying to figure out why she is always killed in the end of every arc. Keiichi's just the one who is actively trying to do so, and is unaware of the actual protagonist's plight.
    • In Umineko: When They Cry, Battler is the main viewpoint character, especially in the first four arcs. However, when it comes down to it, the entire story is really about Sayo Yasuda (Beatrice's real identity), and Battler's real goal in all games that he participates is to understand them.
    • In The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night, only the first story is about Marie. In the other stories, she either has a supporting role or is merely an observer, and in a few doesn't appear at all. The series is just a collection of individual stories taking place in the same school, with Marie's fellow youkai acting as antagonists of sorts.
    • In Rose Guns Days, while each Season follows one or several protagonists (Leo, the Wandering Dogs, Alan and Keith, Jeanne), the core of the story is actually about Rose, her ideals, the people she inspires, and her evolution as a leader.
  • Robotics;Notes: Kaitou is the protagonist and player character, as well the eventual pilot of the robots that are built. However he's mainly focused on helping Akiho with her ambitions.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Apollo is the main character according to the title. However, previous series protagonist Phoenix Wright turns out to be far more important to the overall plot, with most of the last case focusing the events that led to his disbarment 7 years ago and his gambit to reform the legal system ever since. In the grand scheme of things Apollo is more like an Unwitting Pawn.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Phoenix is back as the title character and has regained his badge, but the overarching plot focuses more on Apollo and newcomer Athena Cykes than him.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, the story begins as Phoenix arrives in the despotic Kingdom of Khura'in. However, though the first few cases focus on him dealing with its thoroughly lopsided (even by Ace Attorney standards) legal system, while Apollo is handling things back at L.A., ultimately it's Apollo who has the strongest ties to Khura'in and its ongoing revolution, to the point that the game ends with him moving there.

  • Raizel of Noblesse is always stated as being the hero & main character, despite having little dialogue, little characterization, and only one action dealing the final blow. Frankenstein is the focus of the series.
  • The webcomic Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name is ostensibly about the unnamed zombie narrator, but the real hero figure is Hanna.
  • The Exiles of Homestuck have this going for them. WV, the first Exile seen, is the protagonist of the Exiles and gets the most screentime, but in terms of role in the story, he is surpassed by PM, the one who did more things that were directly relevant to the story.
  • Snippy is the protagonist of Romantically Apocalyptic, but his main role in the plot is to serve as The Lancer to Captain, the one who drives the plot.

    Web Original 
  • Although Cecil, the Character Narrator of Welcome to Night Vale, has his moments of action, it's really Carlos, Dana and Tamika who do the actual adventuring and heroics. Carlos seems to spend his days being a Science Hero, Dana is on an epic quest, and Tamika is the leader of a huge resistance movement against StrexCorp... and Cecil, in his booth, tries to support them the best he can. The times when he fails can make for heavy-hitting Wham Episode stories.
  • In The Lay of Paul Twister, Paul is the first-person narrator, telling his own story, but the classic role of The Hero is filled by Aylwyn, which Paul lampshades in the end, when the in-universe story of what happened, which he helped to publish and popularize, deliberately focuses mainly on Aylwyn and downplays his own contributions.
  • Computer is the only Recurring Character for the past seven seasons of The Daily Object Show and the show is mostly told from his perspective but he is rarely ever the focus as the spotlight has to be shared with the rotating cast. His roles can be either this trope at best or an extra at worst.

    Western Animation 
  • In one of Kablam shorts, "Life with Loopy", as the title suggests, the heroine is Loopy, but the story is told by her brother.
  • Kai from Ninjago is the main character of the series yet he is not The Hero nor is he The Green Ninja.
    • Later seasons often put more emphasis on the central focal character, Lloyd, The Green Ninja, who becomes more Ninjago's main character as the seasons progress. The movie follows suit and outright makes said central focal character the main character from the start.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Candace and Doofenshmirtz receive more marked character development than the title characters and, in fact, many episodes would be relatively uneventful if they did not focus on their activities.
  • While Mordecai and Rigby are the heroes of most of Regular Show, the Finale Season's Story Arc firmly centers on Pops' role as The Chosen One.
  • Jackknife from Superjail! definitely qualifies; he's one of four inmates that are seen from one episode to the next.
  • Carmen Sandiego from Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? may be the Villain Protagonist, but we see the series through the eyes of Ivy and her brother Zack.
  • Wander over Yonder: According to Word of God, while the title character is the main character, Lord Hater is the actual protagonist.

Alternative Title(s): Sidekick Protagonist, Supporting POV