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Above: the characters that were actually in the show.
Below: the one that wasn't.
Merchandise-Driven works exist to sell The Merch, as you would expect, and characters who have merch are expected to appear in the work itself.
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Not with these guys.

This trope refers to a character who only appears in toys and merchandise but not the actual work. When a series is made into toys (or vice-versa), writers must conceive a role for a character to play in the story, and toymakers must have a reasonable amount of merchandise to sell as part of an assortment, thus resulting in several characters never appearing in fiction and only appearing as toys. Alternatively, it may be easier for toymakers to Palette Swap an existing toy into a new character to keep the line going. Perhaps someday some writer will love them all.

Sub-Trope of Canon Foreigner. See also Environment-Specific Action Figure where the an existing character's costume is exclusive to a toyline. The polar opposite would be Toyless Toyline Character where a character exists only in fiction and not in The Merch.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gundam: The various MSV ("Mobile Suit Variations") lines are a group of semi-canon variants of existing mobile suits that, at the time of their creation, existed only in said line. While the majority of these fall under Environment-Specific Action Figure due to being variants of existing mobile suits, a handful of original vehicles and mobile suits exist like the subterranean Acg existed only as model kits and were never seen in fiction (... for a while).
  • Trigun has Gazelle the Peacemaker, who only appears as an action figure. He was intended to be in the game Trigun The Planet Gunsmoke but since the game was cancelled, the action figure is all that remains. Certain elements of his design were recycled for Beyond the Grave, the protagonist of Gungrave, which is speculated to be what the canned Trigun game ended up becoming as it heavily involved series creator Yasuhiro Nightow and was made by the same developer. Additionally the "black beast" version of his design ended up having certain elements like his hat and white hair reused for Livio the Double Fang, an actual Trigun character proper who only shows up in the manga.

    Comic Books 
  • Kenner's Super Powers Collection contains a few characters not seen in either The DCU or the Super Friends TV series. Among the new characters are heroes named Golden Pharaoh and Cyclotron, as well as an Apokoliptian assassin named Silicon. South American company Gulliver Juguetes introduced The Abominable Snowman and Captain Ray in their South American release of Super Heroes/Super Powers.
  • Hulk: Around the time of the first movie, ToyBiz launched a series called "Hulk Classics" (a companion to their Marvel Legends, Spider-Man Classics, X-Men Classics and Fantastic Four Classics lines), which featured various characters from across the history of the comic. The major exception was Mecha-Hulk, a robotic Hulk piloted by the Gremlin. Despite the suit never having appeared in the comics (even though the Gremlin did) Mecha-Hulk proved to be a huge hit with collectors and frequently goes for extremely high prices on the aftermarket.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien:
    • When Kenner had the license to Alien and Predator, they created many original Predators and other characters original to the toyline, such as the Alien King and the alien-animal hybrids Arachnid, Boar, Bull, Cougar, Crab, Gorilla, Mantis, Panther, Rhino, Scorpion, Snake, and Swarm. Probably the most famous is the "Renegade Predator" who came from a 2-pack with an alien who given the fact he included a pack-in comic book, he technically wouldn't be an example of this trope. Other unique Predators and Aliens weren't so lucky and were toyline-exclusive, as was Ajax, a human wearing armor designed to allow him to mimic an Alien queen. When NECA got the license in the late 2010s, they began releasing these original designs with their updated sculpts, targeting the now-adult toy collectors who owned these toyline-original characters.
    • NECA's "Sewer Mutation Warrior Alien" is a fun example, as no such alien exists in the Alien franchise... it is, however, inspired by a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that had the turtles meet an ersatz xenomorph in the sewer (hence the name). It also shows up in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time but is a complete foreigner to the franchise that the toy is from.
  • The Batman Returns toyline included a Robin figure, despite the film not having Robin anywhere in it. (He was planned to at one point, so thus this may also qualify as an Early Draft Tie-In.)
  • The toyline for The Dark Knight featured two comics villains: Deathstroke and Firefly both of whom never appeared in the movie or any tie-in media.
  • Fantastic Four (2005): The most sought after figure from the movie line is the Doombot, a character who didn't even appear in the film (and whose design is totally different in the comics).
  • Godzilla: The Trendmasters King of the Monsters / Godzilla Force toyline has Godzilla Force, and its members David Easton, Peter Richards, Margaret O'Brien, and Michael Van Horn, a group of human commandos wearing Power Rangers-style helmets, based on G-Force from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. Both groups fly a Garuda ship.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider generally averts this, with toys only existing for characters that actually appear in the shows and movies. However, with the recent years of Multiform Balance and Swiss Army Hero, the toys allow for mixing and matching that don't appear in the show proper, such as with Kamen Rider Double's FangJoker or Kamen Rider OOO's Putotyra Combo; these were never compatible with any other combination of powers in the show, but the toys did not have the same restriction so Metal Joker or Pujakuzo were possible to play with.
  • Power Rangers loves this trope; many Humongous Mecha, forms, vehicles, weapons, and even Rangers have never left the toy shelves, as they were simply not present in the original Super Sentai source material.
    • The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers toyline featured a monster never seen in the show (or any of the Super Sentai series it was based on) called Pythor, an anthropomorphic snake wielding a spear and a shield.
    • A notable oddity in the Evil Space Monsters lineup were three monsters, Steamy Meanie, Calcifire, and Silent Knight, who did not appear in Power Rangers. What makes them notable is that these villain did appear in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, (where they were Enraenra, Ittanmomen, and Hakumenrou respectively) but were otherwise not adapted.
    • The toyline for Power Rangers Turbo featured a monster called Hammeron that was never used in the show (he was in the Japanese source series Gekisou Sentai Carranger and clips from his episode were used in commercials for the show).
    • Power Rangers in Space:
      • The toyline contained a Zord named Silver Titanus, who appeared in neither the show itself, nor Denji Sentai Megaranger, the Japanese series it was adapted from. It was instead a retooled version of the original Titanus from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
      • The Craterite figure came with a small figure of Bibidebi, a villain from Megaranger that was not adapted for In Space.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy had the Astro Galactic Megazord, a redeco of the Astro Megazord from In Space in black and gold that wasn't in the show or in its Sentai version Seijuu Sentai Gingaman.
    • The Titanium Ranger from Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (who did not exist in Rescue Sentai GoGoFive) had a toy-exclusive Zord called the Titanium Land Crawler, which did not appear in either TV show.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force had the Ultimus Megazord, an altered version of GaoKnight from The Movie for Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger with some differences in the formation (the Bison Wildzord is purple and locked permanently into robot legs form, while the Tiger, Eagle and Elephant Wildzords are replaced with the Soul Bird, which was not an actual Zord in the show as he went inside to form the Megazord's cockpit)
    • Power Rangers Ninja Storm had a figure called "Ninjakon" that never appeared on the show. It was simply a red recolor of Ninjor from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder has the Phantom Ranger (not to be confused with the character of the same name from Turbo), whose body parts came with the figures of the main Rangers, giving you an incentive to collect them all.
    • Power Rangers Jungle Fury subverts this - the Bat, Elephant, and Shark Rangers were created for the toyline and then showed up in the TV series. However, one item tied to the three that had nothing to do with the show was the Beast Master Megazord; on TV their Zords were Mecha Expansion Packs and incapable of forming a Megazord on their own, while the Beast Master combined completely different versions of those Zords (that could not be used as Expansion Packs) with Leopard and Puma Zords (which also didn't appear in the show). The show-accurate Expansion Pack versions of the Zords were released later.
    • Power Rangers RPM features the Mammoth, T-Rex, and Triceratops Rangers based upon the PaleoMax Megazord. Although the Rangers never appeared on the show, the PaleoMax Megazord did.
    • The Power Rangers Samurai toyline featured the Scorpion Creature, a retooled version of a shrunk down version of the Gold Ranger's Clawzord that belongs to Deker, which was never used in the show.
    • The Power Rangers Megaforce toyline had a Zord called the Zeo Racer Zord that did not appear in the show. It was a retool of the Delta Runner Zord that did appear in the show.
    • The Power Rangers Dino Charge toyline had a few exclusive Zords that didn't appear in either the TV series or its source material — the latter justifying it by saying that the "auxiliary" dinosaurs lost their physical form in the battle against the Big Bad at the end of the dinosaur era.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE was generally the opposite, having more Toyless Toyline Characters than these, though there were some non-canon sets such as the Titan version of Mata Nui,note  or the infamously low-effort promo bags "Good Guy" and "Bad Guy" (several were released under each name).
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: Double Trouble was never featured in the show proper, instead included as a doll in the merchandise though she made an appearance in one comic. In the reboot, it's the other way around; they get a prominent role in season four but aren't part of the toy line.
  • Transformers: Incredibly common; every single toyline ever has characters whose only appearance in fiction is the little bio on their Action Figure File Card, and some don't even have those. This is often eventually subverted, as later writers love using obscure toyline-exclusive Transformers in media or by retconning them to be existing characters. Of course, the toys are rarely still on shelves, meaning these subversions make the original toys much more expensive on the secondary market.
    • Chronologically, the first example might be the character Enemy, a red and blue recolor of the humanoid cassette Rumble/Frenzy who was released as part of a working radio, but had no fictional appearances for decades.
    • Slamdance is a gestalt made up of two microcassettes, Grand Slam and Raindance. While the components would (barely) appear in the contemporary comics, their combined form wouldn't make an appearance until Dreamworks Comics had the license decades down the line.
    • Takara-Tomy released many Generation 1 figures in their pre-Transformers color schemes as e-Hobby exclusives. These characters would then usually wait years before ever being used in fiction, if they're ever used at all.
    • Beast Wars had this by the dozens. Out of the many, many various animals, Fuzors, Transmetals and non-canon variants, only a handful were showcased in the show itself. Many of them received new life in the comic lines (both Western and Japanese), as well as a Japanese exclusive Beast Wars II, but in the initial show itself? Not so much as a cameo. This would be repeated later on in Beast Machines.
    • Notably averted following the release of Transformers and the toylines that immediately followed it. While normally Hasbro has a standard stable of repaints of characters it normally uses, due to the sudden name recognition of certain characters (such as Optimus Prime or Bumblebee), the toys would generally be repainted as alternate versions of the same character rather than a new character such as Ultra Magnus or Cliffjumper respectively.
    • Thundercracker from Transformers Armada is an interesting case. While the figure's exact decoration did appear in the anime as Starscream's powered up form, the character did not, aside from an utterance that Starscream's new color scheme looked like Thundercracker. A Thundercracker did eventually appear in the same continuity when Transformers Cybertron came out, and fans assume that they're one and the same.
    • The Giant Planet Minicon Team, despite being from the Transformers Cybertron toyline, has not appeared in any media whatsoever. Part of the reason why may be the fact that there is No Export for You; they were only released in America, while Cybertron was made in Japan. The same can be said for Wreckloose, Shortround, Armorhide, Hardtop, Swindle, and quite a few others in this line.
    • Ironfist the Lightformer Jeep went seventeen years without a single appearance in fiction until this trope was coincidentally subverted by two completely separate comic series that independently chose to use him as a major character at the same time, both believing that he wasn't going to be used by anyone else.
    • Defied in Transformers Animated: Some characters with toys are made without any plan to include them in the show, but all of them appear somewhere in-canon, even if it's just a mention in The AllSpark Almanac books. One notable case is Oil Slick, who the show's staff caught wind of and liked, so he was featured in a tie-in comic (written by the show's head writer) and had a small cameo in season three.

    Video Games 
  • Minecraft: Many of the collectable mini-figures include animals or creatures that never appear in the game. Notable examples include:
    • Series 12, which featured hydras, harpies, minotaurs, dryads, and Greek gods.
    • Series 14, which featured monkeys, lions, demons, and Chinese dragons.
    • Series 17, which featured scarabs, hippos, scorpions, and Egyptian gods.
    • Series 18, which featured owls, robots, octopi, sloths, and sugar gliders.
    • Many of the themed series feature Steve, Alex, and villagers in costumes and armors that do not appear in the game, such as Chinese masks, Egyptian armor, hazmat suits, and gladiatorial armor. Additionally, Series 8 consisted of various original human characters, each representing different biomes.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Averted. The villain Lil' Miss Malachite originally appeared exclusively as a mini-boss in the RWBY: Combat Ready board game. Later, the character was adapted into the show proper as a minor antagonist.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has so many toy-only characters it deserves its own article.
  • The action figure line for Iron Man featured Argent and Aureus, two robotic duplicates of Fin Fang Foom that M.O.D.O.K. created.
  • The New Batman Adventures: 20 years after the show finished airing, DC Collectibles began a new series of figures titled Batman: The Adventure Continues, releasing figures of other Batman characters who never appeared in the DC Animated Universe such as Azrael, Deathstroke, or Jason Todd. Subverted with the release of the Batman: The Adventures Continue digital-first comic, which features appearances from many of the characters from the toyline.
  • Ninjago: The "Temple of Airjitzu" set includes two characters, Jesper and Claire, who never appear in the show.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • Bench-Press from the GI Joe Rise Of Cobra line wasn't featured in any fiction whatsoever, nor does he have a direct G1 counterpart. He does share a real name with the G1 character Rock 'n Roll but their similarities end there.
    • Specialist Trakker is a fascinating case, being an example of a Canon Foreigner and a Canon Immigrant. Hasbro, creators of GI Joe, acquired the rights to M.A.S.K. when they bought Kenner and released a figure of the lead of the series, Matt Trakker, as "Specialist Trakker."
  • The toyline of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon had several figures of characters who never appeared in the cartoon. Some of them were characters exclusive to another continuity (such as Fugitoid from the original Mirage comic book, Wyrm from the Archie Comics series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures and Mitsu from the third live-action film by New Line Cinema), while others did not appear in any continuity at all (such as King Lionheart, Halfcourt, Walkabout and Sergeant Bananas).
  • There were quite a few GoBots toys that didn't appear in the Challenge of the GoBots cartoon, some of the more notable ones including the RoGuns (Rifle, Pistol and Squirt) and the Renegade Combiner Monsterous (Fright Face, Heart Attack, South Claw, Weird Wing, Gore Jaw and Fangs), though the Renegade Rhetoric Facebook page (which was largely a Character Blog for Cy-Kill where the Renegades' leader used his posts to describe the events of a non-existent second season to Challenge of the GoBots) would retroactively add many of them to the cartoon's canon.
  • From 2014 to 2016, Fisher-Price released a line of Thomas Wooden Railway specialty sets that had characters exclusive to those sets. These characters were not pre-existing characters from the The Railway Series books or the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series and were made specifically for these sets. These characters included Logan, a small, squat steam shunter that distributes coal in the yards, Sam, a massive American locomotive sent to help with the construction of a new museum, and Dustin, a snowplow locomotive that comes to help during a blizzard. In addition to models of the characters themselves, each set came with a book about the adventures these characters went on; Logan had Logan and the Big Blue Engines, Sam had Sam and the Great Bell, and Dustin had Dustin Comes in First and Dustin and the Sodor Steam Team. While Logan and Dustin have not appeared outside these books, Sam eventually made a brief cameo in the Big World! Big Adventures! movie.

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