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Wolverine Publicity

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Just to be clear, he doesn't appear in any of her other issues either.

"I stopped reading X-Men about the same time they started putting Wolverine on the cover of comics in which he didn't actually, technically, appear."
Lore Sjöberg, The Book of Ratings, "Marvel Supervillains (Part I)"

Certain popular characters within a fictional universe (and sometimes in real life) get used in gratuitous and/or inappropriate ways purely to enhance marketing.

Superhero teams in comic books constantly change. Characters join and leave so often that any given superhero team is often unrecognizable within a year. Other superhero teams have a Heroes Unlimited setup, where there are Loads and Loads of Characters and no two issues will have the same group. As a result, there are a lot more fans of particular comic-book characters than there are fans of particular comic-book teams or titles. Fans will like a new team book not if it has a name they recognize, but if it has characters they recognize. A new title will often sell based on whether it has already-popular characters in it, and existing characters will often be made more or less powerful based on how popular they are with readers. This is done so that characters can be viewed by more readers, and also to find the best possible combination for a team for sales.


This leads to one of the most overused tricks in comic-book marketing. When a character is very popular, they will often get Wolverine Publicity: appearing in every comic book title and format possible, smearing them all over even the non-related covers with all the fine delicacy of bacon-flavoured soap. The character will often have a flood of mini-series which desperately search for something new to do with them ("in this issue, Wolverine visits Turkmenistan!"), until the fans are sicker of them than they would be of bacon if they had to bathe in an offal gutter at the meat-packing plant too.

The next step of Wolverine Publicity is random cameos to drive other titles. The promoted character will appear in the first issue of every new title, and appear in old titles with flagging sales, regardless of whether the promoted character makes any sense there. Particularly shameless marketers will just slap the promoted character on the cover and have them appear for one panel in the issue. They will often suffer from The Worf Effect; a new character hasn't 'made it' unless they can thrash the most important character in the universe. Even if the story is actually a team-up, this pairing might suffer from being a Story-Breaker Team-Up since the promoted character may not fit in with the title's story or tone at all.


If a team has multiple titles, with different members in each one, the promoted character will somehow manage to appear in both titles — even if the two stories are supposed to be happening at the same time.

A subtrope of Face on the Cover. Compare Spotlight-Stealing Title, Advertised Extra, Billing Displacement, Clickbait Gag, Covers Always Lie, Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game, Overused Copycat Character, Red Skies Crossover, and Sir Cameos-a-Lot. When an iconic villain shows up in an installment supposedly featuring someone else as the Big Bad, this becomes Hijacked by Ganon. If an actor or character engages in self-promotion (whether in-universe or out), this could shade into It's All About Me. In music this can be one of the factors that leads to one or two members being The Face Of The Band.

Not to be confused with the idea that Wolverine is becoming the focus of the Marvel Universe (although that certainly has spawned many examples of this trope). Whenever Marvel wants to do without him for a while, they usually have Magneto rip the metal off his bones...

Note that if the popular character is a legitimate lead character in a specific work, then the trope should not be listed in it. It may count for the character as a whole, but not for that work. "Wolverine buys an ice-cream" may be an example; "Wolverine saves the universe during the Crisis Crossover" is not. Try to avoid trope misuse.

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Superhero Examples:

    Marvel — Wolverine 
The Marvel Comics character Wolverine (who is of course the Trope Namer) is the worst offender, hands down. So he gets his own section, which may be in itself an example of this trope. He's been so overused that his later appearances are prone to parody and Lampshade Hanging. By the end of the 1990s, Wolverine had been paired up with practically every other Marvel hero in existence, all the way down to five-year-old Katie Power of Power Pack. Twice. Why? Well, beyond his general popularity, he has a number of traits that make him the perfect storm for this:
  1. His long life-span means he can appear in all flash-back stories with his modern personality. He can appear in flash-forward stories for this reason, and also his popularity means he won't be Killed Off for Real.
  2. That long life means he has connections all over the world and beyond, meaning he can easily drop into any location: America? Japan? Canada? Germany? France? Russia? Hong Kong? Space? Hell? Yep.
  3. He's both a Rated M for Manly Action Hero and a Woobie, depending on the story you want to tell.
  4. It's almost impossible to write him out of character: Is he in helpful teammate good-guy mode? Or berserker evil loner animal mode? A blow to the head can make all the difference.
  5. He seems to know every hot babe in the Marvel Universe, making an enticing cover design easy to draw.

Even his son Daken was following in his footsteps for a little bit; he was a member of both the Dark Avengers and the Dark X-Men, in addition to having his own solo title at the time. And of course X-23 was added to the cast of Avengers Academy to boost the falling sales. She was also one of the leads in Avengers Arena.

This practice appeared to be dying in the 2010s due to the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has The Avengers as its main focus, and Fox's refusal to hand over the X-Men film rights, which means that Marvel and Disney had no incentive to promote a character whose film rights are owned by a direct competitor. Wolverine, along with the other X-Men characters, were nowhere to found in Marvel crossover video games such as Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, and Disney XD's ongoing Marvel shows. Then Disney bought Fox, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order was revealed, with a first trailer that showed Wolverine fighting alongside other Marvel characters, meaning that he and the other X-Men characters might be featured on a regular basis in future games and cartoons starring the rest of the Marvel Universe like they used to.

Parodies and Lampshades

Comic Books

  • The image at the top of this page is from a month when Marvel published every single one of their comics with a Wolverine variant cover (it was the 30th anniversary of his first appearance so they did something special for him), even if they didn't actually take place in the Marvel Universe. This includes their adaptation of the Anita Blake Urban Fantasy books.
  • Marvel had already recognized how absurd it was getting by the late 1980s. Their humor/parody comic What The?! showed Wolverine just trying to have a quiet day of fishing and going insane because of all the other characters popping up to get him to guest-star.
  • A cover of the first "What The?!" featured Wolverine saying he had to appear on the first cover, as it was in his contract. It was specifically parodying Marvel Comics Presents, the biweekly Anthology Comic which featured Wolverine on the cover for its first ten issues, and all but twice from issues 39 through 142. That series even changed its logo font to match Wolverine's with issue 50.
    • And Wolverine was appalled when he discovered how the editors were going to squeeze even more out of him when he's introduced to Wolverina. Then came X-23... who would become a Legacy Character herself over a decade after her introduction.
  • In another What The?! story, various characters tried to increase their popularity by wearing eyepatches... which Wolverine sported at the time. Said story ends with Wolvie 'cutting' their plans short.
  • In an issue of New X-Men, a character mentions that Wolverine is the only mutant who finds time to be on all three X-Men teams at once.
  • Lampshaded in New Avengers. After discovering that Elektra had at some point been replaced by a Skrull, they discuss who else might have been substituted. Wolverine himself pointed out that his ability to be on so many teams at once seemed ridiculous... unless he was trying to infiltrate as many as possible.
  • Lampshaded in Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet, an all-ages retelling of The Infinity Gauntlet. When selecting a team of heroes to investigate the cosmic disturbance Thanos has caused, the Invisible Woman selects Ms. Marvel for her powers, leadership skills and familiarity with space, Spider-Man for his intellect and scientific know-how, the Incredible Hulk for his raw strength, and Wolverine "because he's on every super hero team."
    Spider-Man: Sounds exhausting. No wonder you're always so cranky.
    Wolverine: Grrrah.
  • And from Runaways:
    Iron Man: "A Wolverine appearance? How novel. Seriously, this is the third time I've run into you this week..."
  • In Deadpool, Wolverine's appearance in issue #27 was declared "his most gratuitous guest appearance ever!" right on the cover.
  • Also lampshaded in the Weapon X: First Class mini-series Deadpool gives a laundry list of Wolverine's powers ending with "the ability to appear in twenty books every month".
    • This House of M parody cartoon takes a shot at it, too.
      Cyclops: Since when are you in the Avengers anyway, Wolverine?
      Wolverine: I was getting bored only being on three teams while having my own solo adventures. A guy's got to live a little.
    • Also from the same flash artist, Cyclops assigning teams to deal with the latest return of the Dark Phoenix. Team A is sent, with Wolverine, to track down Phoenix. Team B, with Wolverine, ( "Uh...OK." ) is sent to defend from an inevitable attack by the Brotherhood of Evil, and Team C, with Wolverine, to have adventures in Europe, or something.
      Wolverine: Now wait just one minute here!
      • Even funnier because it happened. In one issue, Cyclops had pretty much the whole team in his face complaining about their assignments. Wolverine was among them, saying "Look, I appreciate the confidence, but I can't be on every team!" In the end, Cyclops told them nobody was having their assignments changed.
      • He wasn't even on all three teams at once beyond the first story arcs. Once things settled, he pretty much only appeared in Astonishing, basically proving that he was only thrown on the other two teams to boost sales.
  • One X-Force (with the team that would later become X-Statix) cover actually has Wolverine baring his claws for the camera and say "I'm only doin' this to increase sales." Amazingly, this was revealed to be the first panel of the story, in which he legitimately was appearing in the issue. It's revealed that he was doing this to help legitimize the new X-Force as a favor to his old pal Doop, hence the Leaning on the Fourth Wall line about boosting sales. However, when a super-donnybrook breaks out the villains deride Wolvie as "the housewife's choice", a mass-market approved badass not to be taken any more seriously than Mr. Clean or Toucan Sam.
  • Wolverine #73 (July 2009) has a short story that covers a month or so in Wolverine's life that parodies/riffs on the idea of his many appearances in various Marvel titles.
  • Wolverine even manages to pull this off in non-Marvel publications. Twisted Toyfare Theatre in particular enjoys pointing this out — one comic followed Wolverine through a day of his many crossovers. This included Wolvie plowing through a magazine stand, forcing his head through a copy of Wizard magazine, and a kid asking his mom to get the copy of Wizard with Wolverine on/through the cover.
    • If you can't figure out for yourself, Wolverine has appeared on the cover of Wizard (the leading comics mag) more than any other character. In 2004, Wizard even released a supplement that was entirely about Wolverine, and proudly copped to the trend by displaying their favorite Wolvie covers — listing all of them would just take all day.
  • Lampshaded in an issue of New Avengers, when Mockingbird ask him how he can be on the X-Men and two Avengers (regular Avengers and New Avengers) teams at the same time. He jokes that multitasking is his mutant power.
  • During the brief period where Daken was posing as Wolverine at the behest of Norman Osborn, he was a member of both the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men. The writers decided to have several characters get in some digs by asking just how many teams Dark Wolverine could possibly be a member of.
  • Spoofed in one cover of Great Comics That Never Happened, in which Wolverine converts to get his contractually-obligated spot on a Jewish superhero teamup.
  • There is a backup story that shows a few weeks in the life of Wolverine. Every day is a different team-up. Except for Saturday. Saturday, Logan Drinks.
  • This was eventually lampshaded and dealt with in issue Avengers (vol. 6) #24, where Captain America removed Wolverine from the team because he felt Logan was spreading himself too thin.
  • Lampshaded in Uncanny Avengers Annual #1. Mojo pitches a new show called "Avengers of the Supernatural", which stars various magic and horror-themed Marvel characters such as Blade, Doctor Strange, and Ghost Rider. Upon seeing the pitch, the network execs immediately ask if he can add Wolverine to the team as well.
  • One of the segments in Wha...Huh? written by Brian Michael Bendis featured this as its What If?: every single comic book in the world featured Wolverine, including manga and a much more successful Runaways.
  • In Avengers and Power Pack Assemble Wolverine claims even he doesn't know how many teams he's on.

Fan Works

  • In Thinking In Little Green Boxes, Harry both lampshades this and weaponizes it; one of his plans counts on Wolverine making an appearance in the fic because of this trope.


  • Magneto chides Logan for thinking it's "all about [him]" when Logan thinks he has nothing left that Jean can read out of his mind in their pursuit of Col. Stryker in X2: X-Men United, likely taking a jab at the trend.



Web Comics

Web Original

  • Honest Trailers in their review of X-Men: Days of Future Past lampshades the Wolverine publicity in the X-Men movie franchise.
    In a world full of other cool X-Men, meet Wolverine.. for the seventh f**king time!
  • The Cinema Snob has a bootleg of the Power Pack unaired TV pilot with Wolverine in the cover (taken straight from this). Needless to say, Logan doesn't appear.

Western Animation

  • Wolverine's super teaming-up abilities were lampshaded in an episode of The Super Hero Squad Show.
    Wolverine: Just you and me, huh HERBIE? Okay, let's see... (Pulls out a huge list) Reptil, X-23, Dr. Doom, Firestar. Ah, here we go! HERBIE, Wolverine team up #640.
    HERBIE: bzzt Wolverine and the Easter Bunny?
    Wolverine: Yeah, that was a hairy one.
    • "Too Many Wolverines" featured the clones present in the episode as an excuse for Wolverine publicity. And yes, X-23 is one of them, wearing a Wolverine outfit long before she actually took the mantle.

Straight Examples

Anime & Manga

  • And now Wolverine even appears in anime form!
    • As a tie in to that, he also saves Tony Stark twice in the Iron Man anime.
    • He's also in the Blade anime. And, for obvious reasons, the X-Men one. That's a year of constant Woverine anime-ness!

Comic Books

  • One of the earliest examples is Alpha Flight #13, released in 1984. On the cover of this issue we see a badass-looking Wolverine pointing his claws at some unseen menace, defending Heather Hudson from it, and saying: "Okay, sucker, the only way to get to the lady is through me!". Something like this does happen in the comic, but then we learn it was all just a nightmare by Heather (and even in the nightmare Wolverine only appears in a handful of panels), and the real Wolverine is not in this issue at all.
    • Issue #16 features a Wolverine cameo at the very end, but showing that the trope is not yet in full effect, the cover doesn't mention him at all, instead featuring main story guest-star the Sub-Mariner. Wolverine does feature prominently on the next issue's cover, as it's a reprint of James Hudson's first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #109 (with John Byrne re-creating Dave Cockrum's original cover) with a present-day Framing Device in which Wolverine also appears.
  • In the 80s, Marvel launched an anthology series called Marvel Comics Presents, each issue of which usually featured several different stories. While the series did often spotlight lesser-known characters like Black Panther, Namor, Man-Thing, Wonder Man and Shang-Chi, the majority of the issues also featured Wolverine, and the ones he appeared in almost always used him as the hero on the cover.
  • The Wolverine: First Class title is this taken to its logical extreme: The book is really about Kitty Pryde as a young X-Man, but because Logan is her mentor, he gets the title. Had the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series from the 80s come out about three years later, the names would have definitely been reversed, although the book is 60% Kitty and 40% Wolverine.
  • Wolverine and Power Pack is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. One episode had the Power Pack (and Franklin Richards) accidentally travel back in time to the early 20th century and save a boy named James Howlett from kidnapping. A cynical reader might think they've been bilked out of their money, until The Reveal: James Howlett is Wolvie as a kid.
  • Exiles is a comic where the members are drawn from different alternate universes. For one arc, the main characters are suddenly fired and a new team created, made up of Wolverine alone. Why? Because an evil alternate Wolverine is causing trouble and everyone knows the only way to beat Wolverine is with two or more Wolverines. What's more, we discover there have been several teams of Wolverines before that, and the main villain is a Wolverine. You end up with two entire issues with every version of Wolverine imaginable; the main team is the Days of Future Past Wolverine, young James Howlett, Marvel Zombies Wolvie, Albert (a robot made in Wolvie's image) and Elsie Dee, and a fresh from Department H Wolvie.
  • The poorly-regarded First X-Men mini-series went so far as to establish that prior to the formation of the original Silver Age team, Wolverine had actually led a short-lived sort of prototype X-Men team. Whats more, it was even implied that Logan's influence was what ultimately gave Professor X the idea to form the X-Men.
  • The Ultimate X-Men collection books have special covers depicting, in order, Wolverine, Wolverine, Wolverine, Wolverine, Wolverine, Captain America, Wolverine...
  • New Avengers #35 is the perfect example of how Covers Always Lie.
  • The Old Man Logan miniseries published during Secret Wars (2015) is an odd example of this. The protagonist of the series is Wolverine, and he does appear... the Old Man Logan version of him. Issue 2's cover depicted Old Man Logan fighting a version of Wolverine (almost all characters from Secret Wars (2015) are just versions of the original) who looks exactly like the mainstream incarnation. That Wolverine appears nowhere in the issue, nor does Logan meet any other Wolverine. So yes, it technically counts because the cover lies to us about the amount of Wolverines.
  • For 2015 Marvel's relaunch called All-New, All-Different Marvel, Wolverine remains dead...Which means someone will have to take over his identity. Enter Logan's Opposite-Sex Clone and adopted daughter, Laura Kinney aka X-23. The All-New Wolverine. She is featured in two books (solo and team book All-New X-Men). But that's not all, because the popular alternate version of Logan, Old Man Logan, finds his way into the 616 Universe as well. Like Laura, in two books (solo and Extraordinary X-Men). That's four books featuring Wolverine in some capacity (all the X-line sans Deadpool actually). Amusingly enough, All-New Wolverine actually inverts the trope: Taskmaster, Doctor Strange and The Wasp all make guest appearances in the first arc to help establish Laura in the role of Wolverine. As of ResurrXion, Jimmy Hudson, Wolverine's son and successor from the Ultimate Marvel universe, is now part of the 616 universe too.
  • As a part of Marvel Legacy, where the original Wolverine gets resurrected, Marvel starts including "after-credits scenes" in various issues where Wolverine is just...roaming around in random parts of the world, maybe witnessing the events of the comics and commenting on it. It's never explained what he's doing, but at least his omnipresence is at least partially justified by his (rather contrived) possession of the Space Gem, ostensibly as a lead-in to Infinity Countdown, but even then he eventually passes it off to Black Widow, so his presence is inexplicable.
  • Wolverine's return itself brought on an entire new wave of this. While a character returning would normally be a miniseries at best, if not just an arc in their own title with some other related series tying in, Logan's return got three separate series devoted to it... before revealing that, nah, there's a fourth, proper one called Return Of Wolverine launched as part of Marvel: A Fresh Start. Oh, but even before that series has wrapped, he was announced as co-starring with Cyclops in Uncanny X-Men, appearing with the Hulk in Hulkverines, appearing in an anthology comic, a series based on a podcast, starting a new Infinity Watch series with Loki and the Dead Man Logan series will still be going. This is all in a single month.
  • This became notable during the 2019 relaunch of the X-books. There were no X-books being published alongside House of X and Powers of X — aside from the aforementioned Dead Man Logan, which had to complete its run — and the X-characters weren't appearing in anything else... except Wolverine, who appeared in Savage Avengers and had a long story running in the pages of Marvel Comics: Presents, making him the only X-character to appear outside the X-books at the time. Once the Dawn of X relaunch proper started, Wolverine was on the first issue covers of X-Men and X-Force and later had Wolverine announced as a solo series.
  • One Incredible Hulk collection appears to do this at first, featuring Wolverine and only Wolverine on the cover. Only when you look carefully at his claws do you realize you can see the Hulk reflected in them.


  • The X-Men Film Series:
    • Wolverine, as portrayed by actor Hugh Jackman, is one of only two characters (the other being Professor X, who has been played by both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy at different points in his life) to be in the first nine main X-Men live-action moviesnote  - a sidenote is Deadpool (which only mentions both characters, and has the title character wearing a Hugh Jackman mask—this Deadpool advert even pokes fun at Wolverine's and Professor X's Spotlight-Stealing Squad status) and its sequel (where they actually briefly appear, Xavier in the background of a scene, and Logan through Stock Footage). Jackman has thus appeared more than any other actor in a superhero role.note 
    • Wolverine was the first X-Man to receive an entire movie about his character (not even a movie, but three: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine and Logan). Also, four of the six team X-Men films had him in a role of importance, even though in the comic book storylines the movies are based on, Wolvie does not play a central role in any of them. Magneto was also under consideration to receive an X-Men Origins film, but this idea was scrapped, and much of his history ended up being integrated into X-Men: First Class. Then Deadpool managed to get his own spin-off (which also got a sequel), while a Gambit solo movie had been green-lit before Development Hell effectively killed it.
    • Due to getting his own prequel movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he once used to hog every single ad spot in Quake Live during early May 2009.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • The movie made Wolverine into a major character and gave him the role Kitty Pryde held in the original story. Cracked had this to say:
      Obviously the real reason for the lead character change-up is that Fox knew a ripped-to-shreds Hugh Jackman would sell more tickets than an intangible Ellen Page. It was both the wrong decision for the story, and one that instantly made them $500 million. The term "Wolverine Publicity" is codified on TV tropes for a reason.
      • Although Hugh Jackman does have the most screen time of any single actor, the central character of the story is the younger Xavier, but James McAvoy takes up a meager amount of space on the official poster. Jennifer Lawrence is more famous than McAvoy, so Mystique's prominence on the poster is equal to Wolverine's despite her role being smaller than Charles' (albeit a very important one, given Mystique causes the Plot-Triggering Death). Moreover, McAvoy is absent from the Blu-Ray/DVD cover for The Rogue Cut, which has Michael Fassbender's Magneto (who also is a bigger star than McAvoy) as its largest figure.
    • Averted with X-Men: First Class, which didn't give any clue that Wolverine would appear, and his cameo made for a really effective One-Scene Wonder.
    • Then played straight with X-Men: Apocalypse, where again he's a One-Scene Wonder, but Fox decided to allude to it in the last trailer.


  • The audio book adaptation of Civil War has Wolverine front and center on the cover, displayed prominently next to Captain America and Iron Man. Wolverine literally shows up in one chapter and then completely disappears from the plot.


  • Wolverine is one of the most frequently used characters in the Marvel Legends line from Hasbro (and the original Marvel Legends line from ToyBiz), having been featured over 20 times (and that's not counting repaints or reissues) in the 6" line as of 2019.
  • He was the most frequently featured character in the toy line for the first X-Men movie, popping up no less than six times in the primary 6" assortment. The 6" line for the sequel was significantly smaller, and yet still managed to include four Wolverine figures. Strangely enough, this was averted with the Marvel Legends figures for X-Men: The Last Stand, which included Jean Grey, Beast, the Juggernaut and Colossus, but not Wolverine.
  • Despite the film having Loads and Loads of Characters and Wolverine not even being the main character, he was the only person from X-Men: Days of Future Past to get an action figure from Hot Toys.
  • He was featured in the toy line for Avengers, Assemble! despite never actually appearing on the show.

Video Games

  • Wolverine even shows up in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, as one of the boss battles for Venom.
  • He's on the cover of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (except for the Nintendo DS version; Nightcrawler is the only mutant to be found there). You fight him, he gives you all of two missions, he (involuntarily) becomes Venom-Wolverine much later so you fight him again and then he disappears from the game. Luke Cage does more in the game than he does. And the game cover was voted by fans out of a choice of two. The other cover didn't feature Wolverine.
  • He also appears in the Deadpool game. He does very little of note other than lying unconscious whilst Deadpool repeatedly slaps him in the face.
  • In the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Wolverine is one of the most frequently-appearing characters on the Marvel side, showing up in almost every single installment, even X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes. He's even in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes twice (one with the adamantium claws and one with bone, since the metal had been removed from his skeleton at that time), with each version having different movesets (the adamantium version is based on his previous Marvel vs. Capcom appearance while the bone claw version takes after his style in X-Men vs. Street Fighter). The lone exception is Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, which seems to be entirely because of the whole kerfuffle over the Marvel movie rights.
  • When the X-Men embargo ended in 2019, Marvel and Nintendo chose to announce this by featuring Wolverine in the reveal trailer for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and also making him one of just six characters in the promo to actually have any dialogue (for context, not even Captain America, Iron Man or Spider-Man got to speak). In the actual game itself, Wolverine is the first X-Men member available as a playable character, showing up to help out the Avengers during the prison break level near the beginning. By contrast, most of the other X-Men don't become playable until the Xavier Institute stage later in the game.
    • The boxart has him right smack at the front of the entire entourage, as if to say “WOLVERINE IS HERE, YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT!”

Western Animation

  • And extending into animated adaptations, we have Wolverine and the X-Men. In fairness, this show was originally going to be simply a Wolverine solo series. The rest of the X-Men were added later. A Wolverine and the X-Men comic launched a few years later, featuring Wolvie at the helm of a new mutant academy, leading his splinter version of the X-Men after an internal struggle led to the population of Utopia siding with either him or Cyclops.
  • Wolverine was one of the first guest-stars in Ultimate Spider-Man, and his arrival was promoted on Marvel's official website. By the way? He was the only member of the X-Men to make a full appearance on that show, as it was made at a time when Marvel's TV division began phasing out mutants as a whole due to Disney not having the X-Men's film rights.
  • The Hulk Vs. double feature was released in Scandinavia under the much catchier title, "Wolverine".
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
    • Season one might have retconned Wolverine into a member of the Howling Commandos. He fought alongside them in the episode "Meet Captain America", and later appeared with them before Cap during his stay in Niflheim. However, no one refers to Wolverine by his codename in either of those episodes, instead using his original surname, Howlett.
    • In the second season, Wolverine becomes The Lancer of the New Avengers. Interestingly, Iron Man explains that he picked each of the New Avengers based on past performance; each of the other five heroes did guest spots prior to this episode, but Wolvie just had the fleeting cameos mentioned above, and only gets accepted into the team after saving Spider-Man.

    Marvel — Others 
  • The first-ever issue of Daredevil featured a pretty blatant case of this trope, where a quarter of the cover page was dedicated to the likes of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Marvel's most popular characters at the time... Who didn't appear in the story at all. The use of those characters was meant to set Daredevil up as a Marvel hero worthy of being compared to them, although it doesn't make the trope's usage any less shameless.
  • Iron Man got this starting from 2008 onward, thanks to his explosion of popularity after his movie, a trend which continues even past the completion of "The Infinity Saga" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the Marvel NOW relaunch, not only did he have his own title, but is a main character in two different Avengers titles (Avengers and New Avengers).
    • He was a lead character in Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • He was the leader of the team in Avengers, Assemble! and the mentor of The Falcon, the show's Audience Surrogate.
    • He got multiple guest-starring roles in Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel's Spider-Man.
    • He starred in four shows at the same time for a while (The Marvel Anime IM series aired during the run of Armored Aventures, and of course there was an Avengers series and the Super Hero Squad Show going on at the same time.
    • In addition to another live-action blockbuster, he had two DVD films, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore and Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United out in 2013.
    • He's an immensely popular candidate for team-ups and even had an entire month of Iron Man variant covers (where nearly every book Marvel published had an Iron Man-themed cover, even if he had nothing to do with the series) devoted to him.
    • Although it hit new levels with the movie, Iron Man's wide publicity in the comics began a bit earlier with Civil War. Tony was the face of superhero registration, and as such he appeared in almost every Civil War tie-in, often seeming to be everywhere at once — and serving whatever political purpose each writer wanted.
    • Iron Man is also one of the few Marvel characters who have been granted two concurrent monthly books. (Again, the movie had a lot to do with this.) For about a year, Iron Man: Director of SHIELD and Invincible Iron Man were both on the stands. This is the case again with Invincible Iron Man and The International Iron Man, plus starring in All-New All-Different Avengers.. When he was put out of commission after Civil War II, two new books starring his successors were launched: Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man.
    • Like Wolverine, Iron Man has been featured multiple times in the 6" Marvel Legends series, receiving at least 8 figures under ToyBiz and (as of 2018) at least 16 figures under Hasbro. These also include instances of Iron Man figures being included in waves produced for movies that he doesn't actually appear in, like Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther. And that's not even counting the figures produced in the other scales or sub-series that comprise the overall Marvel Legends brand. In probably the perfect example of this trope, when Hasbro later did an MCU 10th Anniversary line, Iron Man received five figures (Tony Stark and the Mark I armor from Iron Man, the Mark VII armor from The Avengers, the Mark XXII armor from Iron Man 3 and the Hulkbuster armor from Avengers: Age of Ultron). For comparison, every other character in the anniversary line only got one figure each, and quite a few characters didn't even appear at all.
  • In the Silver Age of the Marvel Universe, virtually any character who was supposed to get their own title would either appear in Spider-Man first, or have Spider-Man appear in their title's first issue — in fact, there's a phrase to refer to most of Marvel's Silver Age that basically amounted to "Spider-Man is in the third issue". Trades soliciting comics to shop owners would often carry a picture of the title's third issue's cover. Thus, Spider-Man wound up on a huge number of these, encouraging owners to feel that at least up to that issue the title would be a sure seller. In the nineties, replace Spidey with Wolvie, and it still works.
    • This even happened with the Marvel The Transformers series which had the alien suit Spidey appear before being retconned away later.
    • In the 70s, there was a title called Marvel Team-Up, each issue of which featured a crossover between two or more Marvel heroes. Of the 150 issues of the series, 140 featured Spider-Man.
    • This trend continued even into the 1990s, with Spider-Man appearing in the second and third issues of Darkhawk and the fifth and sixth issues of Sleepwalker. Wolverine didn't appear (and thank God for that), but Darkhawk and Sleepwalker would later team up with Spidey again when they tangled with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
  • Linkara reviewed NFL SuperPro #1, guest-starring Spider-Man. He didn't wait a second after seeing the cover to point out he was there simply to boost sales. Things got worse as the story progresses, as Spider-Man and Super-Pro had little to no interaction, and had a solo scene where he broke into a mob boss's house and gave up searching for evidence after scanning only one room. Simply put, Spider-Man didn't add anything to the plot whatsoever, which is worse than not appearing at all.
    Linkara: So this scene was: COMPLETELY POINTLESS.
  • Spider-Man was featured in the second issue of Marvel's The Awesome Slapstick limited series (albeit not on the cover). Noteworthy only because Spidey was all but useless in the issue, with many jokes made at his expense.
  • This extends to the current age, where C-lister Gravity finds Spider-Man watching him fight his nemesis, and he doesn't lift a single finger to help .
  • Around 2011, Spider-Man was catching up with Wolverine for the number of books he's in per month. Besides his own book, he was also on two Avengers teams (same as Wolvie), and with the Human Torch's death, Spidey had taken his spot in the Fantastic Four.
    • This was lampshaded in the first issue of Avenging Spider-Man. While talking about how he has very little free time, Peter mentions that he's on two different teams of Avengers with an emphasis on the "two", as if to highlight how ridiculous that is.
    • Lampshaded as well in the first appearance of Yellowjacket in The Avengers (who, as you should know by now, was actually Henry Pym with a double-personality crisis). After introducing the characters, we have two pages with J.J. Jameson praising the new hero and Spider-Man making fun remarks from the window. Then, the caption text reminds us that it was an Avengers comic book, and continued with them. Spider-Man's influence in the actual plot? Zero.
  • Panini Comics is an Italian company that publishes comics (including ones from Marvel) in various countries. In France, they once published a trade paperback of Silver Surfer: Requiem, a 4 issues-long mini-series written by J. Michael Straczynski. The cover for the second issue was used as the cover for the trade and prominently features Spider-Man alongside the Silver Surfer. The second issue is also the only one in the entire mini-series where Spidey makes an appearance.
  • During the Bronze Age, Ghost Rider was a cameo in some Marvel property about once a month.
  • The Punisher seemed to be everywhere in the Marvel Universe in the early '90s.
  • In 1991 Marvel parodied their own tendency to do this with a three part Fantastic Four story headlined "The World's Most Commercial Comics Magazine" which starred Wolverine and Spider-Man, as well as the then-hot Ghost Rider and Gray Hulk, as a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits brought together as Unwitting Pawns "The New Fantastic Four". The issue also had another unnecessary cameo by The Punisher in the last page (lampshaded on the cover blurb— "World's Most Exploitative Cameo"), coming over pursuing a giant flying monster returning to Monster Island where the last part of the story takes place. When he sees the FF and the aforementioned "new FF" coming out of the island together, he went ah forget it and breaks off his pursuit.
  • In a similar vein, a few years later, an issue of She-Hulk was "starring on this issue" Wolverine, the Punisher and Spider-Man. She-Hulk helpfully informs us they are not starring (nor even technically appearing) in this issue, however.
  • The villain Venom from the Spider-Man comic was so popular that he was turned into a '90s Anti-Hero, then given endless cameos and mini-series. To give you an idea of this, he's advertised on the cover of one of the Quasar tie-ins to Acts of Vengeance as though he's a prominent part of the story. He shows up at the very beginning of the issue, is defeated within two pages, and then never appears again. When he began to feel over-exposed, the writers created the new character Carnage (a Darker and Edgier version of Venom— think about it, darker and edgier than a brain-eating fanged Body Horror, they had to make Carnage totally Ax-Crazy and covered in blood) and repeated the process all over again.
  • Gambit of the X-Men followed in Wolverine's wandering footsteps for a while too.
  • Emma Frost has been appearing in a great deal of comics, often just so that she can be there. The worst example is the time when she showed up in one page of one issue of White Tiger's miniseries to tell her that white wasn't her color (after several thugs had mistaken her for Emma... because a dark-haired Hispanic woman and a blonde Caucasian woman are so alike).
  • Deadpool has been appearing everywhere since the late 2000s. Within one year (Fall '08–Fall '09) alone, he was granted three of his own ongoing titles (more than Iron Man and Captain America combined) and a confirmed place as a regular character in X-Force, given his first animated speaking role (Hulk vs. Wolverine), confirmed as making his first speaking television debut (Season 2 of The Super Hero Squad Show), made one of the most prominent characters of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, ... errr... "featured" in a live-action film ("Barakapool" in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and later rebooted in a new timeline.
    • In 2010, there was a Marvel Team-Up between Deadpool and It the Living Colossus. For all that Deadpool actually did to help, it was basically an It one-shot. It seems Deadpool's role in this team-up was just to get people to buy the book. Sorry, did we say Marvel Team-Up? Our mistake — the book's called Deadpool Team-Up. Yes, Deadpool was the star of a Marvel Team-Up book — meaning Marvel editorial already considered Deadpool a flagship character. Oh, and Deadpool Team-Up started with issue 900 and counts down from there. Granted, this was a joke about the then-current release of Action Comics 900 — the series got canned after a little over a year.
    • Similar to the Wolverine variant covers, Deadpool was for one month featured on numerous variant covers, though the series were mainly in the Marvel Universe. The covers ranged from slight alterations of the original covers to parodies of classic covers (One Amazing Spider-Man cover parodied Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, and featured Deadpool smoozing up Mary-Jane and pushing Spidey out of the way) to at least one completely original cover.
    • He's prominently displayed on most of the artwork for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and shown opposite Dante in the intro. His eventual burst of popularity is lampshaded by She-Hulk in the game, who annoyedly points out to Deadpool that in the 80s and early 90s she was very popular and even shared his signature fourth-wall-breaking powers.
    • In 2013, Deadpool got his own video game. The last line of the teaser trailer? "Suck it, Wolverine!"
    • He's also given a prominent position on the promo for the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game, right up there with the cast of The Avengers movie, Spider-Man, and you guessed it, Wolverine.
    • In this interview, the writer of the 2010 Ant-Man and the Wasp miniseries felt the need to specify that neither Wolverine nor Deadpool appears in it.
    • Lampshaded in one solicitation for Secret Avengers:
    • In the lead-up to his first solo movie, Deadpool got a lot of additional exposure. There's not only a Deadpool series, but also a Deadpool & Cable series, a Spider-Man/Deadpool series, and a miniseries. Oh, and if that's not enough, the omnibus collection of the popular Cable & Deadpool series? It's called the Deadpool & Cable Omnibus. Yep.
    • Deadpool shows up in this X-Men: Apocalypse trailer, despite not being in the movie, to promote his own film.
    • When part of the 90s Secret Defenders series (which briefly featured Deadpool as a member) was finally collected as a trade paperback in 2017, it was titled Deadpool and the Secret Defenders, even though he only appears in 3 issuesnote .
    • To promote Deadpool 2, Walmart and 20th Century Fox teamed up to sell blu-rays with variant slip-on covers featuring Deadpool, ranging from the other movies in the X-Men universe to The Terminator and Revenge of the Nerds. The idea primarily seemed to be about making a memorably absurd store display that would promote the forthcoming movie, but collectors would probably buy the old movies for the new covers too.
  • Similarly, Marvel released a collection of Thanos' earliest appearances after he made a surprise cameo in The Stinger of The Avengers (2012). Even though the collection only contained two issues of The Avengers and more heavily featured other series like Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and Daredevil, it was still titled The Avengers vs. Thanos to capitalize on the success of the movie.
  • Likewise, whenever a formerly B-list property shows up in a movie, Marvel likes to release a collection of stories featuring them. However, they'll often make sure to prominently place "Avengers" somewhere in the title, such as Avengers: Falcon, Avengers: Scarlet Witch, Avengers: Quicksilver and even Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow's Avengers.
  • Along those same lines, the collected edition of the short-lived Force Works team book from the 90s is called Avengers/Iron Man: Force Works, with those two logos being displayed far more prominently than the series' actual title.
  • In yet another example, to cash in on Beast's major role in the then-upcoming X-Men: First Class movie, Marvel reprinted some issues of Steve Englehart's Avengers run under the title Avengers: The Coming of the Beast. Beast even had the cover all to himself, something that would seem quite ludicrous after the way the Avengers exploded in mainstream popularity following the release of their own movie just a year later.
  • Villains have started getting in the act too. The Hood and Norman Osborn especially. Doctor Doom did it before them though; he was even the first villain defeated by Squirrel Girl.
    • Doctor Doom was involved in Marvel lampshading of this in Strange Tales 122, at the time a Human Torch series. Doom's face (or rather, mask) appears in the bottom-left corner of the cover, above the caption "Doctor Doom does not appear in this story! We just felt like drawing his face!"
    • The first few issues of the Warren Ellis revamp of Marvel's Thunderbolts have Norman Osborn dressed in his Green Goblin suit displayed prominently in all the covers, despite the fact that he does not wear it until much later in the series.
  • For a brief time in the '90s, the popularity of Death's Head II led to him appearing in nearly every Marvel UK comic, either as a cameo or a guest appearance.
  • The Fantastic Four were pretty much this for most of The '60s and The '70s; Strange Tales (which introduced a Human Torch solo feature in Issue #101, which was later retooled — unofficially in Issue #123, and officially in Issue #124 — into a Team-Up Series with The Thing) and Marvel Two-In-One (the Thing's own team-up series with guest characters) were just two ways Marvel Comics tried to turn the Fantastic Four into a Cash Cow Franchise. The Fantastic Four even show up in The Amazing Spider-Man #1, back before the Web-head could start making his rounds (coincidentally, the Fantastic Four's own book featured the Incredible Hulk that same month in an attempt to boost sales for the Hulk's then-fledgling magazine, which was soon cancelled anyway).
  • Guardians of the Galaxy:
    • With the growing popularity of the comic, Marvel has started making a habit of inserting Rocket Raccoon into media, including his own mini-series being included with the first volume of The Annihilators to help boost sales, his surprising appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, his confirmed playable appearance in Marvel Heroes Online, and the raccoon even holds a prominent position in the promotional image for Marvel's upcoming Marvel NOW series, standing in the front next to Wolverine himself. Marvel has also included him as one of the four heroes on the banner of their News preview images on the Marvel website (alongside Iron Man, Thor and Nova). In 2014, alongside the Guardians' film, he got an ongoing series.
    • When the Guardians were first set to appear in an episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, almost all of the commercials and previews focused on Rocket, despite his relatively small role in the episode compared to the rest of the team.
    • Most egregious is his role in Original Sin. Rocket shows up out of nowhere in the latter half of the series to rescue Gamora and the other heroes after they are left stranded by the Winter Soldier, and then travels with them to confront Nick Fury. You can almost hear the editors saying "Remember, this guy has a movie in theaters right now!" whenever he's onscreen.
    • The Guardians in general have become way more prominent in the Marvel universe because of the movie. Before 2012, they were a mostly obscure group of D-list characters with a book that while acclaimed, very few people actually read. They mostly stuck to their own little corner of the Marvel Universe and didn't really factor into much. Now they're treated like A-list rock stars with a family of titles, prominent roles in big Crisis Crossovers, and frequent guest appearances in other books. Marvel even attempted to boost sales for lower-selling characters like Captain Marvel and Agent Venom by making them members of the Guardians and then relaunching their solo books.
  • Hawkeye has been living out this trope in the wake of The Avengers live-action movie. For a time, he was in several team books in addition to his own solo title, and was previously added to the cast of Avengers Academy in order to help boost sales. Beyond that, he was one of the most heavily promoted new additions to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Avengers, Assemble! animated series. That's in addition to appearing in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! and Ultimate Spider-Man. He's also appeared in the Iron Man Anime film.
  • Fellow movie Avenger Black Widow has also gotten a boost in terms of this trope. In comics, she starred in Avengers Assemble, Avengers, Secret Avengers, and was also featured in Winter Soldier as a main character before getting her own solo feature in 2014. In addition, she was one of the leads in the Avengers, Assemble! animated series, and the co-lead in the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, before finally getting her own solo movie announced for the MCU's Phase 4. She also appeared alongside Hawkeye in the aforementioned Iron Man anime feature, and even got her own animated film co-starring the Punisher.
  • The Falcon got in on this in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Marvel temporarily making him the new Cap due to the sudden influx of interest in the character. In addition to his own solo book, he was also made a member of the Avengers (even becoming the leader in All-New, All-Different Avengers), All-New Invaders, the Mighty Avengers (renamed Captain America and the Mighty Avengers), and the Uncanny Avengers. This was spoofed in a solicitation for an issue of Ant-Man: The solicit excitedly pointed out that Sam Wilson was showing up in the comics to team up with Ant-Man just like he did in the movie, but then reluctantly noted the number of ways both he and Ant-Man differed from their movie counterparts. It ended with a desperate plea for moviegoers to buy the comic anyway.
  • Around the time their film came out, Marvel seems to have decided to pimp out the six characters featured in the film above all others, along with Coulson, Hill, and Nick Fury as the go-to SHIELD team. As well as each one now having their own book note  and the above listed points of publicity-giving-ness, they now regularly appear as the default Avengers line up in any book besides the main Avenger book, with Secret Avengers being relaunched to be a SHIELD-focused team book that had the characters from the film featured heavily in promotional material but notably left out characters yet to be featured note . As well as that, these six, plus Falcon, now also have their own animated show, appear regularly in Spidey's animated series, and alongside Wolverine and Spider-Man (both of whom, as noted, are VERY guilty of this trope) were the main characters of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
    • It got to the point that when Marvel published their Avengers: Season One graphic novel, the artist made sure to omit Ant-Man and The Wasp from the cover because they hadn't yet been introduced in the movies.
    • Some of the marketing for Ant-Man basically consists of Marvel shouting "Hey, remember the Avengers?" One of the TV spots shows recycled footage of the Avengers from their various movies, while a trio of posters for the movie have Ant-Man standing on Cap's shield, Thor's hammer, and Iron Man's armor, respectively.
  • Phil Coulson is a weird example of a Canon Foreigner-turned-Canon Immigrant who benefits from this. Not only did he get his own TV show, but he appeared as a major character in Ultimate Spider-Man (until he was Put on a Bus in Season 3), was a main character in Secret Avengers and Ultimate FF, and has become the go-to guy to use whenever S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a guest appearance in any other series.
  • One of the variant covers for Secret Wars (2015) focuses almost entirely on characters who either have had or are getting their own movies, MCU or otherwise. The only exceptions are Miles Morales, Jane Foster as Thor (both of whom got a bunch of publicity in their own rights) and Namor.
  • A stated goal of the All-New, All-Different Marvel books is to avert this when it comes to team books. The general rule is that a character can only regularly appear in one team book and their own ongoing. Though it's already being played straight by Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers who is a member of A-Force and the Ultimates on top of having her own book. However, Marvel has said this was an oversight on their part and have reduced Carol to a guest character in future A-Force issues.
  • A bizarre example was Models, Inc. The mini-series starred Mary Jane Watson and several old Golden Age girls' comics characters like Millie the Model and Patsy Walker, but the cover of the collected edition omitted all of them in favor of an image of Iron Man and Tim Gunn from Project Runway. While Gunn does appear in the series, it's only in one issue in a comedic backup story. Likewise, Iron Man doesn't appear at all, even though his armor does show up in the aforementioned short story. The actual main characters were regulated to the back cover.
  • Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! #5 parodies it with "Plus! You Won't Believe Who Shows Up On The Last Page! (Psst! It's Jessica Jones!)" (after all, Jessica Jones gave Walker her live-action debut.)
  • Black Panther:
    • Marvel began pushing the character very heavily after his movie unexpectedly became a monstrous hit at the box office. The cover for the collected edition of the Spider-Man mini-series Spidey: School's Out features a large image of Black Panther, even though he only plays a supporting role. A Black Panther vs. Deadpool limited series was also commissioned, seemingly for no other reason than them both being popular characters who had movies in theaters that year.
    • Black Panther's presence in animation, particularly Avengers, Assemble!, is really telling about how this trope works for MCU characters, with all other media following the films at all costs. Not slated for film appearances? The popular recurring character from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! is nowhere to be seen in Assemble and related series. Oh, he’s going to be in Civil War and they’re working on a solo film? He suddenly pops up in season three, appearing quite a few times. That solo film is a huge runaway success, the highest grossing solo superhero movie of all time? Suddenly Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest is basically a Panther solo series occasionally guest-starring Captain America. (To be fair, the subtitle of the show has changed every season for a while now. But there’s no exaggerating about it being his show entirely now, taking place in Wakanda and only occasionally featuring other Avengers than him. The most common is Cap, likely due to Panther’s MCU debut being in Captain America: Civil War).
    • Related, but the cast of 2018 Avengers relaunch by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness was also very obviously influenced by the popularity of the MCU, with Black Panther even being elected as the team chairman for the first time in his published history (so admittedly, it was a long time coming). Black Panther's various supporting characters like Shuri and Okoye have also taken on more important roles within the Marvel Universe, and are now seeing way more use in just a year or two than they arguably did in the years before he got his movie. This even extends to Wakandan characters in general, such as in West Coast Avengers (2018), where it was revealed late in the series that the characters Fuse and Ramone were the children of an exiled Dora Milaje member who had moved to the United States, the use of the Wakandan mutant Gentle in X-Men: Red, and Gail Simone's Domino: Hotshots mini-series, which featured a new Wakandan heroine named Atlas Bear as part of Domino's team.
    • Similar to the examples mentioned in the Avengers section, the fourth volume in the Fantastic Four Epic Collection is called The Mystery of the Black Panther, and prominently features T'Challa on the cover.
  • Captain Marvel:
    • Marvel has been doing this with Captain Marvel (formerly Ms. Marvel) in the wake of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. In addition to her own solo book, she had a guest arc in Avenging Spider-Man, is present on two different Avengers teams, and is slated for team-ups in several other titles. She was also the main focus of the Enemy Within Bat Family Crossover featuring her solo title and the Avengers Assemble comicnote . This push also unfortunately included some less than sterling examples, such as making her one of the two leads in Civil War II, a move that was ostensibly done to help raise her popularity among readers, but ironically led to the exact opposite happening for many of them.
    • The push also began seeping into other media in anticipation of her then-upcoming movie, such as joining the cast of the aforementioned Avengers Assemble cartoon during the third season. She was also the first new Marvel character revealed for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and played a prominent part in the game's story mode, even getting to take down the final boss with Dante from Devil May Cry. She was announced during the February 13th, 2019 editon of Nintendo Direct to be part of the roster for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order. With her solo film now officially a massive hit at the box office, The Stinger for the second Avengers: Endgame trailer was even devoted to introducing her to the rest of the team.
  • In an example with decidedly more mixed results, we have The Inhumans. Around 2013 or so, Marvel began aggressively pushing the Inhumans, beginning with the Inhumanity event and eventually Charles Soule's run on Inhuman. This coincided with Disney and Marvel's decision to begin downplaying the X-Men due to their film rights being held by 20th Century Fox, and was meant to all lead up to a massive Inhumans live-action movie in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Inhumans push touched all corners of Marvel as a company, with the publishing division launching a veritable family of titles (including Uncanny Inhumans, Secret Warriors (2017), Royals and solo Black Bolt and Karnak books), the TV division heavily featuring the Inhumans in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and guest spots on Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers, Assemble!, and the Inhumans getting significant appearances in games like Avengers Academy and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. Even though the company seemed to have a vested interest in making the Inhumans the next big Marvel franchise (including the big Inhumans vs. X-Men crossover event), most of the books struggled to sell, even though a select few characters like Kamala Khan and Moon Girl managed to break out and become pretty popular (especially the former). Many fans began to resent what they saw as a transparent attempt by Marvel and Disney to replace the X-Men with a bunch of Suspiciously Similar Substitutes. Things only got worse when the planned Inhumans movie was dropped by Marvel Studios, leading instead to an ill-advised live-action series that was panned by critics and cancelled after just one season. The failure of the TV show, coupled with Disney later enacting plans to purchase Fox (and thus regain the X-Men's film rights, which eventually happened in 2019) led to Marvel rolling back its push of the Inhumans, with the franchise itself essentially placed on hiatus after the Death of the Inhumans mini-series.
  • After the massive success of Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy of Earth-65), who was created for the Spider-Verse event, Marvel released variant covers of her as various Marvel heroes. One of them, Gwenpool (based on Deadpool) proved so popular that she got her own spin-off series.

    DC — Batman 
Batman has this, to the point where the trope could be renamed to "Batman Publicity". Like Wolverine, there are a few reasons for his constant cameos:
  1. He slides into any story quite easily; between his Comically Serious nature, his Detective skills, and his ability to fight and sneak, he can show up in any story involving either crime or superpowers, and have an obvious role to fill.
  2. Batman's already well known for being an in-and-out operator, so having him show up for only a page or two and leave when he's no longer needed is entirely within his character.
  3. He's usually either the #1 or #2 most popular character at DC at any given time.
  4. He's got a very large supporting cast who have their own books, requiring he frequently cameo in them for subtly obvious reasons.
  5. He's got a lot of research and development infrastructure, which makes him a logical port of call for any story requiring a "hero consults with other heroes about something" scene, if that something involves Gotham City, crime in general, martial arts, or countering superpowers.
  6. He's innately suspicious of other heroes, is very sneaky, and always tries to have the advantage when "on-duty", making him a good candidate for a brief Let's You and Him Fight scenario.

A few examples:

  • A particularly bad offender of this is the back cover of the Catwoman collected volume Relentless. The back cover shows Catwoman and Batman kissing. While this TECHNICALLY takes place, Batman doesn't show up until the last 5 pages, barely has 2 pages of screentime, and serves mostly to talk Catwoman out of her Heroic BSoD. The kiss is Catwoman drunkenly coming on to him.
  • A common theme will be Superman for the most part being supportive of the new hero, while Batman will be a bit more suspicious. DC's former policy regarding the two was actually an inversion, as they were kept away from other titles (and even off the covers of Justice League of America, which they actually appeared in regularly) to prevent them from becoming overexposed.
  • In a rather surprising aversion of this, Simon Dark, a series set in Gotham City, went more than a year without an appearance by the Bat. Or Robin. Or Catwoman.
  • Tim Drake, who appeared in his own title, Batman, and Teen Titans. This was lampshaded once when he was helping Batman on a case. Batman reminded him that he had to be on a plane to San Francisco that night, and that he should honor his commitments. Robin still appeared for the rest of the arc, and this would also imply that the Titans' adventures (at least those that include him) all occur over the course of a weekend.
  • This also happens with Robin (Damian Wayne), who appeared in Batgirl and a bunch of other titles shortly after Final Crisis. He was even briefly added to the floundering Teen Titans series as part of a heavily-promoted sales stunt, complete with multiple variant covers celebrating his arrival.
  • While Batman's appearances in the Blue Beetle series were never particularly gratuitous, they do provide an interesting contrast to his perceived constant distrust of new heroes. Even when he doesn't show it to him, Bruce always seems to keep an eye out for Jaime and is proud of his growth as a superhero. Whether this is because he has a soft spot for the kid or because he feels guilty for accidentally leaving him for dead on the Brother Eye satellite is certainly up for debate.
  • After the New 52 DC comics relaunch, it seems Batman Publicity is the name of the game. Not only is he a member of both the Justice League and the new Justice League International, he's got no less than FOUR books where he's the main character (Batman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman and Robin and Detective Comics). Plus tying into the Batman books are the new Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing, Birds of Prey and Catwoman comics, plus the all new comics Batwing and Red Hood and the Outlaws. That's a lot of Bat (to be exact, thirteen issues, or an entire quarter of DC's relaunched comics line).
    • If you count Red Robin in the Teen Titans, Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad, and even old-time Gotham City in All-Star Western, the number of books with Bat-related characters is raised to sixteen; that's almost a full third of the relaunch.
    • DC has also occasionally refreshed the line by cancelling and replacing a few books at a time, though the net result has been the Bat-family gaining three new books: Batman Incorporated, Worlds' Finest (with Huntress as co-lead), and Talon (with a new Bat-related character). The only cancelled book with a Bat-character was Justice League International, but even that was eventually replaced with another Justice League team (Justice League of America) that included Catwoman. An alternate version of Batman was also used to hype Earth-2, along with an alternate Superman and Wonder Woman, but the three were killed off in the first issue.
    • A second Batman was added to the Earth 2 series and featured on the cover of Earth 2's first Annual — despite the story mainly concerning Earth 2's Atom.
    • Justice League of America's Vibe had an issue with Batman on the cover, with the tagline being "Betrayed by Batman!". Except he only appeared for one-and-a-half pages, and it wasn't even him — It was someone who made herself look like him.
    • July 2014 almost parodied this in its exposure. The line-wide variant covers all included Batman, even if he had nothing to do with the comic and had never been involved, or even didn't really fit in on the cover either. July 23 was proclaimed "Batman Day" by DC Comics on top of this. The exposure would not be much of a problem in hindsight, considering this was in fact the month of Batman's 75th anniversary, but no similar publicity ever came up regarding Superman the year prior, on his own 75th anniversary. Other examples pervaded media in this month, but they were related to his then-upcoming movie, which is an entirely other story altogether.
    • After Bruce was removed from the Batman role and Jim Gordon became the new Batman, this trope applied... to Dick Grayson, probably because Jimbats was a massive Base-Breaking Character while Dick continued to be a Breakout Character with a beloved new series, Grayson. Dick began appearing in other titles a lot, from Batgirl to Starfire, while at the same time being the main character in Batman and Robin Eternal and Titans Hunt. And out of the Robins, Dick plays the most prominent role in the Robin War crossover, which basically exists to lay the foundation for a new ongoing for Dick when Grayson eventually wraps up.
  • There is a trade paperback featuring 3 issues that detail the first meeting of Green Arrow and Green Lantern and 5 issues about the first meeting between Green Arrow and Batman. What this Green Arrow team up book called? Batman: The Ring, The Arrow and the Bat, of course!
  • The LEGO Movie features appearances by characters from The LEGO Company's licensed theme sets... and Batman happens to be the most prominent of them all. To the point he earned his own movie.
  • When Man of Steel proved more divisive among fans and critics than expected, WB's solution was to insert Batman into the sequel and name the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. They also made sure to give Batman a cameo in Suicide Squad (2016), complete with the trailers making it clear he was in the movie.
  • Lampshaded in Brightest Day, where Deadman assumed that his role in proceedings was to bring the White Lantern Ring to Batman, reasoning that Batman is usually the one who ends up becoming the main hero in situations like that. Turned out not to be the case that time around, but still.
  • Despite having jack-all to do with the comics' version of Justice League Dark, Bruce is a main character in the animated movie.
  • This trope is hit with Reality Ensues with Batman in the Justice League storyline "The People vs. the Justice League"; Batman's solo stories, his time with the regular League, the other League he started and the Gotham Knights has left him seriously sleep deprived to the point where, when multiple disasters start up, he makes disastrous mistakes that leads to the death of an innocent.

    DC — Others 
  • Superman has sometimes been used this way, especially when he always turns up in a flagging new series starring an untested character (of course, given Superman's speed he could actually pull this off if he wanted to).
    • At one point Superman had four monthly comics — Superman, Action Comics, Man of Steel, and Adventures of Superman. After The Death of Superman storyline, these were each headlined by a different 'replacement Superman' for a time.
    • As of October 2014, Superman is the lead in Superman, Action Comics, one of two leads in Batman/Superman, World's Finest, and Superman/Wonder Woman, and a member of the main cast in Justice League.
    • In 1976, DC Comics released a special oversized comic titled Superman Salutes the Bicentennial, in honor of the United States' 200th birthday. The book itself was actually reprints of DC's colonial-era hero Tomahawk, with Superman appearing on the cover and first two pages only.
    • As DC's most popular character in the 1950s and 60s, Superman had the most books out of anyone at DC: Superman, Action Comics, one-half of World's Finest Comics, Adventure Comics (as Superboy), Superboy, prominent appearances in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen and Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane, and regularly seen in Justice League of America.
  • In the 90's, after his creation and Zero Hour!, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner was somewhat guilty of this, too. He had his own title, adventures with the Nightwing-less Titans incarnation, joined the JLA, had cross-overs with Superboy, The Flash, Connor!Green Arrow, still had his own monthly, made an appearance or two in Wonder Woman during the period Donna Troy had just lost her ex-husband and son, and basically showed up in a lot of titles. More of an inversion, though, since he was also establishing himself as a hero in his own right and had to run across these other heroes at some point; his guest appearances weren't about using him to hype other characters, they were using the other characters to hype him.
  • '90s Anti-Hero Lobo has also been used in this way. One Superman cover had the strapline "In this issue: Lobo appears on one page!" As a parody of Wolverine, this is to be expected.
  • Parodied with the cover of the last issue of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, prominently featuring a member of the popular Teen Titans — "All right, it's just Changeling, you can't have everything." Also, Superman's appearance in the first issue.
  • The second trade paperback of DC's Justice miniseries has the Legion of Doom on the cover, with The Joker front and center. Except that the Joker was never in the Legion of Doom, wasn't broken out of prison when Legion member Scarecrow escaped from Arkham Asylum, and only makes cameo appearances in the rest of the series, in a Paper-Thin Disguise as an Amish man most of the time, and he blows up a building. None of those things have any bearing on the actual plot. The actual main villains of the series, Lex Luthor and Brainiac, are shoved off to the side behind Joker, as if to insinuate that they're supporting characters instead of the main antagonists. This may be a Mythology Gag in reference to the various Superfriends series, which Justice is heavily inspired by; Joker was originally slated to be a member of the Legion of Doom, but due to a Filmation cartoon being produced at the same time getting the rights to him first, the Ace of Knaves was largely left out of Super Friends.
  • WildStorm also tried to pull this off with Grifter, Zealot and, later, Midnighter, by having them make as many guest appearances as possible. Grifter and Midnighter actually starred in two miniseries just about them teaming up! Generally the best way to tell if a comic was in trouble was by how prominently Grifter appeared on the cover. When Wildstorm was still an Image imprint, Grifter and Zealot shared the spotlight with Spawn and Badrock. Badrock is an oddity in that his solo series was short-lived and he's much better known for Youngblood, but he was the star of the Marvel Team Up-like Badrock and Company and has had many crossover minis — including ones with Wolverine and Grifter!
  • Believe it or not, Captain Marvel was often shoved on the cover back in the 40s, when he was the decade's most popular hero. Of course, since the number of genres was a lot more eclectic, you'd see him promoting the latest Funny Animal book or Western.
  • Forever Evil: Though it is more or less par for the course, Batman's exposure in Villains Month far outshines most others. In all of his goings-on taking place in the present day, he has four villain issues, making for a total of sixteen between Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, and Detective Comics, seventeen if Superman/Batman counts. The next highest amount is Superman at eight or nine following the same rules between Action Comics and Superman as his personal goings-on. The third member of the Big Three, Wonder Woman, has only two issues in her one ongoing, less than many of the other series going on. The Batman situation would not be so jarring but for the fact that some of the villains involved in it have no connection to Forever Evil (The Joker being highly publicized, but one of these), are very new to The DCU (the Court of Owls), are just being introduced at this time (Joker's Daughter) or are actually a rogue of another member of the Batfamily (Ventriloquist III).
  • Harley Quinn could be considered Deadpool's Alternate Company Equivalent in this regard. She's been a popular character for years, but this trope was taken Up to Eleven after the launch of her New 52 series and her role in the Suicide Squad (2016) movie. She appears in nearly all of the Batman: Arkham Series publicity despite her fairly minor role, is likely to turn up in almost any Batman-themed merchandise, and ended up as one of the most prominent characters in the DC Super Hero Girls line despite not actually being a hero. That's not even getting into her many comic book appearances, including two separate months where many books had Harley Quinn-themed variant covers (much like the Deadpool variants mentioned above).
  • The DC Rebirth relaunch got rid of many of the smaller, more experimental DC books in favor of an increased focus on franchises that are either already popular, or are connected to the Arrowverse or DC Extended Universe. More specifically, Birds of Prey was renamed Batgirl and the Birds of Prey after the recent burst of popularity Batgirl enjoyed in her solo series.
  • The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle (see above under "Batman") actually got this a lot, with Superman, Oracle and The Phantom Stranger showing up for a few pages and getting a picture on the cover of various issues. Though Vindicated by History, the series was never a huge seller when it was running, so this might well have been an attempt to promote it. It was never too egregious, though, and is even kind of entertaining in the way that it makes Jaime seem like a Weirdness Magnet.
  • Due to the enduring popularity of Watchmen, DC has begun reprinting early work featuring Charlton Comics characters like Blue Beetle and The Question under the title Road to Watchmen, even though the extent of their connection to Watchmen was inspiring some of its characters.
  • While already an iconic character, the success of her solo movie led to DC marketing Wonder Woman as a much bigger deal, with the revised 5G timeline flat-out retconning her into having been the first superhero to emerge during the Golden Age. This extends to reprinted material as well, such as a paperback collection of the 90s Justice League America series being marketed as Wonder Woman and the Justice League America.

Other Examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • For Ah! My Goddess this is the norm, with the main character Keiichi rarely making the cover page.
  • In Gyo, the main characters only encounter a single infected Great White Land Shark. In the OVA Adaptation, several appear throughout the chaos.
  • Most of the promotional art for A Certain Magical Index features Mikoto in a rather notable way, as if she formed a Power Trio with main characters Touma and Index. In reality, she only makes bit appearances on various episodes, the only notable ones being a Story Arc about her (Which she shares with one of her clones and Accelerator, with the clone having similar screentime and more Character Development) and A Day in the Limelight Ship Tease episode later on the season. Komoe and Kaori have as much importance than her if not more (At least in the anime first season), but they get very few appearances in the official art and tend to share them with Mikoto, despite never meeting in the anime (Stiyl, being a guy in a Improbably Female Cast, was never in the running, even if he's more relevant than any girl). This goes even more so for her roommate Kuroko, who is in most of the aforementioned art, but only gets 2-3 minor appearances with Mikoto and a Barack Obama gag, yet outdoes in appearances everyone else on the series but Mikoto and actual heroine Index.
    • Mikoto and Kuroko are also the focus of the artwork of the A Certain Scientific Railgun anime, their spin-off series', but at least there's it's justified: They're The Hero and The Lancer. Uiharu and Saten complete the Four-Girl Ensemble, but the artwork always makes them seem less important for some reason.
    • The second anime season took the same route as the first, with Mikoto (Kuroko too, but less so this time) being shoved in on nearly every official artwork, but she's only been a secondary character on Kuroko's arc, helped a little on the final arc and got another Ship Tease date, but she was never the main focus at any time. All her other appearances are Ship Tease cameos (Generally made up for the anime at that) with no relevance to the current arc. Oddly enough, official art is more likely to come out when she is around, so they have an excuse to stick her in pics every time, even if the arc has like 5-6 important girls. Meanwhile, more important or relevant characters get one or two pictures tops and barely any cameos (With one exception marked below). Remember, this is after Mikoto got her already mentioned Spin-Off with her on the lead and lots of artwork focused on her. At this point she may as well be the Index equivalent of Wolverine.
    • The exception is Itsuwa. She's had a grand total of three appearances, one in a mob with no lines, and two short ones where she gives the main guy a hot towel. Truly important things, which is why she appears the most in official art after Mikoto, Kuroko and Index. Never mind that the two arcs with Itsuwa had WAY more important girls (mostly Agnese and Orsola), Itsuwa gets all the art. Subverted in that she becomes more important on later novels, but that's hardly a justification to have her appear so much now, when she hasn't done a single thing, while the girls who actually do stuff get ignored. Funnily, there's a picture of her with Mikoto. They've never met, and on most of Itsuwa's screentime she was on a different continent than Mikoto. The preview for the second season also featured three of the four members of God's Right Seat, Vento, Terra and Aqua, which seems to imply that they had originally intended to go as far as volume 16, but apparently didn't get there. As a result, only Vento plays a role and Aqua puts on a brief appearance in the second-to-last episode, but otherwise...
    • Most openings and endings also emphasize Mikoto (Again, to Power Trio levels). The second season openings also highlights Accelerator (who has little screentime on the anime but is loved by the fans), as well as throwing in a Uiharu cameo, even though she's a very minor character on Index, but since she's a main on Railgun, there we go.
    • All in all, this is par per the course for JC Staff, which loves Pandering to the Base to Crippling Overspecialization and promotes the 1-2 most popular females while ignoring everyone else. Only that's usually the lead girl (Such as Shana or Louise), not a secondary character with little to no relevance on over half the arcs, making Mikoto's case stand out the most.
  • Nearly all of the promotional art for Ergo Proxy solely features supporting protagonist Re-l Mayer, indicating that she is the main character. And, to the marketing team's credit, the first few episodes certainly make it look this way. However, once the series kicks into high gear, it becomes obvious that the true protagonist is the comparatively unassuming Vincent Law.
  • When the Wild Swans movie was dubbed into Italian, the dubbers tried to cash in on the popularity of the Heidi anime by claiming that the princess was Heidi, even calling the movie, "Heidi Becomes a Princess."
  • This happens in the Gundam franchise, with none other than Char Aznable. The first opening credits sequence for Gundam ZZ features Char opposite the main character, and yet he never appears in the series.
    • Char's sister Sayla appears on the cover of the Laserdisc boxset for the second half of Zeta Gundam, but she only appears in one episode, with no speaking parts at that.
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, whenever official art comes out and it's not from the manga spinoffs ViVid or Force, there's a 95% chance it'll be from the third season Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers, which came after a 10-year Time Skip that radically changed the appearance of Nanoha and Fate, the main girls, plus introduced a lot of new characters and got rid of several others. While this made sense back in 2007-2008, when Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers had just aired and was the Cool New Thing, nowadays we've had two movies retelling the events of the first two seasons, set before the big Time Skip, and a third movie with an original story set during the same time zone, manga adaptations of said movies and two Video Game adaptations set in the A's timeframe. (Though the second game has ViVid characters, but it's still mainly an A's game). Despite this the majority of fanart will depict Nanoha and Fate post-Time Skip (and often alongside their adopted daughter Vivio), or otherwise characters from the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS period, with the usual exceptions being movie or spin-off advertisements. Likewise Nanoha and Fate tend to get the lion share of art even on the pics of said spin-offs, where they aren't the main characters or appear for long periods of time.
  • Unusually, Nel's adult form from Bleach is featured heavily on manga covers and anime openings, despite only appearing in a few chapters and not really accomplishing anything important.
    • Hitsugaya also gets this in spades, to the point where an official poster for the Hell Verse movie (the only one of the 4 animated movies where he does not have a notable or major role, and in fact only appears in two scenes to talk) features him alongside Ichigo and Kokuto - the two protagonists.
  • Fate/stay night and all of its related works in the Nasuverse have this with the insanely popular Servant Saber. She (or one of her incarnations) gets top billing in almost everything related to Fate, and even if she doesn't show up personally, you can bet one of her Saberfaces will pick up the slack. The page image for Fate/Zero (which was also the 1st promotional image released for its anime adaptation) is a perfect example: Saber is front and center in the picture and is illustrated in bright, eye-catching colors while everyone else is a mere silhouette (and while she is a major character of said series, she's not the main protagonist).
    • The same can also be said of Shirou Emiya or his future self, Archer. In series where Saber does not even show up, he does instead, in one form or another.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
  • Levi from Attack on Titan is a supporting character, but insanely popular with the fandom. This has resulted in official merchandise and promotional material frequently replacing the actual Deuteragonists of the series with him. Based on these, one might be surprised to learn that Armin is the third member of the Power Trio, and not Levi — who almost always replaces Armin in anime-related materials.
  • Pretty much the only reason why Yugi Moto/Muto, the protagonist from the previous series, appears in the pilot episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
  • Broly from Dragon Ball Z is among the most popular villains the series has produced, which is especially impressive considering he's movie-exclusive. He was so impressive, in fact, that unlike the other film-exclusive villains, Broly actually got two sequels. He also quickly became a mainstay of the DBZ video games, even ones set before the Namek saga. As of Dragonball Super, Broly not only has a canon female Expy, but he's finally become a Canon Immigrant himself. He's also so popular that, much like Wolverine in MVC2, two distinct playable incarnations of the character were featured in Dragon Ball Fighter Z: A classic version based on his original appearance in the 90s Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan movie, and a modern version based on his rebooted appearance from the 2019 Dragon Ball Super: Broly film.
    • Frieza himself has also become guilty of this, appearing no less than seven times in various animated Dragon Ball media, canon and non-canon, since Trunks killed him early in the manga's ninth arc. What's more, he's received a Captain Ersatz in the form of Frost in Dragon Ball Super and both have returned in the Universal Survivor Arc.
  • For works by CLAMP:
    • Sakura Kinomoto of Cardcaptor Sakura is considered to be the most popular character and the Trope Codifier of Moe as she had an alternate version in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- where she also made a cameo in the OAV and her Clow staff appeared in Xxxholic and had tons of merchandises compared to the rest of the CCS cast or any Clamp character.
    • Asides from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Kimihiro Watanuki of XxxHolic made cameos in several Clamp works such as Drug & Drop, Kobato. and Blood-C. He doesn’t have the merchandising powers as Sakura, but every time you see in another Clamp work, you know that he’s the bridge of the Clamp multiverse.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has Jotaro and Dio Brando from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. Jotaro is the most popular Joestar in Japan and was not in just one but four different arcs (Stardust Crusaders, Diamond is Unbreakable, Vento Aureo, and Stone Ocean) and plays a big part in three of the four of them. Dio Brando is a cruel, conniving, and somewhat classy vampire who's anger gets the better of him easily and who's greatest rival is... Jotaro Kujo. Not Jonathan Joestar, the man he was raised with as a brother and and the only man he could respect and even love as family (in a twisted sort of way), but Jotaro. Both of them have become the default hero/villain duo due to the massive popularity of their appearances in Stardust Crusaders.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: A weird example where the subject is an item, not a character. Ask any fan of the show what they remember of this series, they'll mention the Golden Condor almost immediately. It appears on most promotional art, is seen in the intro, is mentioned in the lyrics of the theme song in both French and English. Yet it doesn't actually appear until half way into original series.

    Comic Books 
  • Sort of parodied in PS238, when the students start forming their own super-teams—most kids wind up in three or four different groups, mostly as "beta teammates." This is mostly presented as a cliquey popularity thing.
  • Issue #58 of The Powerpuff Girls (DC run) features a cover with the girls wearing 3-D glasses and Him coming out of the TV, hypnotizing the girls. Neither story in the issue features Him, nor do they entail the girls getting hypnotized.
  • Spoofed on the very first cover of Animaniacs comics, which featured Pinky and the Brain dressed in costumes they wore in a story later in the comic. (It could be argued, of course, that Pinky and the Brain are the most popular Animaniacs characters; but since they're not the main characters, you wouldn't expect to see them on the cover of the first issue.) The spoof part comes from Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, who "tear" their way through the front of the cover so that Yakko can complain "Whose comic is this, anyway?!"
  • Donald Duck is on most of the covers of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Somewhat fair, since he also probably has at least one story in every one of them, but there are a few times where the cover art in question is actually from a story that isn't actually published in said issue.
    • The Scandinavian Disney trades, which didn't start printing home-produced material until the late 90s, could always be counted on to feature Duck Avenger on the cover if he made the slightest appearance in the book. Amusingly enough, he appears more often than ever nowadays, but has only had two cover appearances in 20 years. His popularity dropped. This is because the Scandinavian trades only ever put Donald Duck's name in the title anymore (as mentioned above), no matter who are the main characters of the stories inside.
  • The Knights of the Old Republic comics are set ~4000 years before A New Hope. Yet, the cover of issue 25 has Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Cade Skywalker on it. Granted, they appear, although in a vision.
  • IDW Comics clearly hoped that they could do this in their Transformers comics with new character Drift. They even said as much.
  • Some variant covers for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) prominently feature popular background ponies from the show. Two covers feature Time Turner decked out in Doctor Who Shout Outs implying the first Story Arc is an epic crossover, one of them for an issue with no background ponies much less Time Turner and the other flat out having the TARDIS on it. He does appear in the first issue, but only as an incidental pony with no allusions to Doctor Who (just like in the show). A particularly egregious example is the alternate cover to Friends Forever #14 that depicts Spike and Princess Luna in a fierce battle against massive dragons, with the actual issue not featuring any battle whatsoever, or massive dragons, and barely even Princess Luna. Another big offender is Vinyl Scratch, who shares a cover with Applejack for Issue #1 (the only BG pony to appear on one of the Mane Six covers by Andy Price) and appears by herself or with others on later covers. Like Time Turner she does appear in the first issue, but as an incidental character.
  • Sonic appears on the cover of the first issue of Sonic Universe, despite not actually appearing in the issue other than a brief flashback.
    • Similarly, Sonic would appear in the corner of nearly every Archie-published spinoff that didn't focus on him, varying between functioning as a stylised issue number (such as the Tails and Princess Sally miniseries), or simply there to point out that this comic book with Sonic characters was a Sonic comic.
      • Later issues of the Knuckles the Echidna ongoing, published after the Adventure redesigns began, even altered the title to become Sonic the Hedgehog Presents: Knuckles the Echidna.
  • A downplayed example with the Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle & Whisper miniseries - while Sonic himself doesn't appear, shapeshifting villain Mimic spends a chunk of the first issue disguised as him to lure out the protagonists and trick them into potentially fighting each other.

    Fan Works 
  • Naruto is the second most popular fiction to be used in crossover fanfics. They pretty much have Rule 50 on every single Fanfic you can imagine. Thanks to this trope, readers will often only read and give a ton of reviews to Naruto crossovers even if the story makes no sense and/or very poorly written while overlooking the other non-Naruto ones.
  • Every Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai doujinshi features Sena in some shape or form. Every single one. While most do it because they're focused on her, it's rather jarring to see a book about Yozora with her on the cover and all the plot being about her, yet the first three pages being Sena love just because. Or having her on the cover with Yozora yet not appear even once inside the thing. While she may be popular, this is a little annoying to non-fans of her, as other "Ensemble Dark Horse" characters, using the term loosely here, don't do this kind of stuff, it's just Sena.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Blu-ray cover of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs features the Queen in the front and center, in her hag form, with Snow White relegated to the bottom of the picture.
  • Stitch the alien is represented in Lilo & Stitch's marketing more than the little girl Lilo, with the theatrical poster simply showing Stitch surrounded by other Disney characters, referencing the film's promotional campaign of Stitch hijacking iconic scenes from other Disney Animated Canon films.
  • The Smurfs and the Magic Flute was originally a Johan and Peewit film, but when The Smurfs became really popular the title was changed to make it look like they were the stars, even though the film really focused much more on Johan and Peewit.
  • The Jungle Book 2 had megastar actor John Goodman providing the voice of Baloo the Bear, and ads for the movie loudly proclaimed "Baloo is back!", even though this story was supposed to be about Mowgli.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • Wreck-It Ralph is about video game characters, both original and already famous from other titles. So while the story only deals with Disney's original characters created for the film, a lot of posters prominently featured Sonic the Hedgehog, Zangief, M. Bison, Q*bert, Clyde the Pac-Man Ghost, and Bowser in them, even though they only have seconds to minutes of screen time for each of them. Calhoun, one of the four major characters, didn't even make it onto the front cover of the DVD case because of all space taken up by the extras. In-Universe, it's Played for Drama/Averted; Ralph seeing Vanellope's picture on the console is what causes him to realize that she is supposed to be in the game.
    • Advertising for Ralph Breaks the Internet really put emphasis on the scene featuring all the Disney Princess girls together. This scene doesn't even occur until the middle of the film and is only a few minutes long. As it turns out, it's more than just a funny gag. The princesses help save Ralph in the climax. They're still far from as prominent in the movie than they are in the marketing, though..
  • The posters and covers of Tom and Jerry: The Movie prominently featured Droopy, despite his only getting a short cameo. One could even argue Tom and Jerry themselves were victims of this trope, since the movie wasn't really about them anyway but about a poor little orphan girl.
  • The Kung Fu Panda animated shorts Secrets of the Furious Five and Secrets of the Masters are both advertised as being "brand new Po adventures" when they're actually about the Furious Five and the Master's Council. Po is just the narrator.
  • For Melody Time, Donald Duck, who appears in the "Blame It On the Samba" sequence, receives some fanfare in the VHS trailer and is the only character on the DVD case. On the other hand, most theatrical posters, both domestic and international, prominently featured another character from a different segment, Pecos Bill.
  • In the poster for Foodfight!, the Product Placement characters are featured first and foremost on the film poster, even though the characters in question aren't featured prominently in the film.
  • Promotional materials for Big Hero 6 give the big adorable robot Baymax the most attention by far, with the theatrical poster only including him, and the Japanese title changing to "ベイマックス" (Baymax).
  • The Peanuts Movie suffered this in some countries, tackling Snoopy and Charlie Brown's names in the beginning of the title, easily the two most popular characters.
    • While Charlie Brown is easily the lead character in the film, Snoopy suffers from this (possibly as a whole for the franchise), being a supporting character at best.
  • Happy Feet: While Robin Williams plays a side role in this movie, his role is heavily featured in teasers, leading many to assume the film would be a wacky family comedy rather than the environmental drama it really was.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings heavily advertised George Takei, to the point that in some trailers, he got higher billing than Matthew McConaughey. In reality, he played a minor villager in the beginning and end the film.
  • When Periwinkle became a Breakout Character in the Disney Fairies movies just when Disney decided they were going to pull the plug on the franchise for low toy sales, the toy line decided to shove her into every line they had, elbowing out characters who had earned the spotlight she took. She barely appeared in The Pirate Fairy, but she was on more merchandise for it than Iridessa, Fawn, and Vidia combined, and all three were present and important to the plot; the same happened for Legend of the NeverBeast. Peri might have started showing up more again in the movies too, but the ones after that were scrapped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jack Nicholson became (at the time) the highest-salaried actor in film history for his performance as The Joker in Batman, even getting a share of the film's enormous box-office take. Warner Bros. promoted him as the movie's main star on posters, on videotape boxes, and in the credits of the movie itself. This extended even to DC Comics' official adaptation, which, despite being clearly titled Batman, showed the Joker's face looming like a godlike apparition over Gotham City, while a smaller image of Batman himself appears below.
  • The American DVD cover of Infernal Affairs shows Kelly Chen posing with a gun. At no point in the movie does she have a gun, or even an action scene. The two main characters get much less space on the cover. On the other hand, this might just be a case of Sex Sells. The Chinese DVDs rightly put Andy Lau and Tony Leung up front, but since fewer Americans know who any of them are, they decided to sex things up a bit.
  • In at least one video store, in the French film section, there is a sub-section called "Films in which Audrey Tautou has less screen time than the box art would suggest." There's also a "Non-Satanic Malevolent Children" section in Horror, but that's neither here nor there.
  • "Bruceploitation" refers to the wave of Bruce Lee imitators, and Lee-style martial arts movies, that followed the superstar's death. Actors adopted stage names like Bruce Li, Bruce Lei, and Dragon Lee in an attempt to cash in on Lee Mania. Jackie Chan recalled how his early movie posters would say "the next BRUCE LEE, Jackie Chan," with Lee's name much larger than his own.
  • The undisputed king of Wolverine Publicity in the Star Wars universe has to be Darth Vader — this trope could have well been called "Vader Publicity". Even when the main focus of Lucasfilm's marketing is a series that doesn't involve Vader as a Sith Lord, such as the first two prequels or Star Wars: The Clone Wars, one can be absolutely sure to see zillions of different products featuring Vader in the current merchandising line. Often, original trilogy characters are included in the line, or the line itself becomes partly original trilogy-focused, for the sake of including Vader merchandise. One can also expect a cameo or two from the Sith Lord in some form in the media itself (such as a vision to his former self Anakin in Star Wars: Clone Wars), or at least a new character that happens to be a blatant Expy (such as Darth Malak in Knights of the Old Republic).
    • Revenge of the Sith had a heavy marketing campaign focused on featuring Anakin finally becoming Darth Vader and his first chronological appearance in the Vader suit. While the movie does detail his turn to the dark side, he doesn't don the outfit until the very end of the movie.
    • It's even parodied in LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace where throughout the movie, Darth Vader would appear out of nowhere to take center stage of a scene, only for a LEGO mini-figure of George Lucas to call cut and tell Vader he's not in the movie because it takes place in the prequel era.
    • The original Star Wars movies were the rise, fall and redemption of Darth Vader - the last part meaning he dies in the last one. Well, once Disney decided to make more movies, The Force Awakens just had to include Vader's destroyed helmet as early as the trailer and a Darth Vader Clone as the villain (in-universe, a deliberate case of copycat, as it's his grandson who also fell for the Dark Side).
    • In the original pitch for Rogue One, Vader had a single minor appearance with no dialogue. The execs requested that his part be beefed up, so he was given dialogue and a truly spectacular action scene at the end of the movie. His helmet is also featured prominently on the movie's poster, and is actually larger than many of the main characters. Coincidentally, he's the only character in the poster that doesn't die.
  • The DVD release of Mazes and Monsters has on the cover a dragon, a castle and a maze. None of these things appear in the movie. The title refers to a roleplaying game (a reference to Dungeons and Dragons) played by the characters. Furthermore, while Tom Hanks is in the movie, the picture of him on the cover is from when he was much older and well established. Furthermore, despite how much the breakdown of his character drives the plot, he was actually a supporting character and given rather low billing compared to the other cast members (the movie seems to treat Jay Jay as the main character).
  • Dazed and Confused was promoted with posters prominently featuring Milla Jovovich simply because she was, at the time, the most famous person in the cast. She only has one line in the movie, is not a focus character in the ensemble action, and only pops up a handful of times. She's also on the cover of the DVD cases (excluding The Criterion Collection edition) since those reuse one of the movie's promotional posters.
  • Deep In The Valley has Kim Kardashian on the front cover. She appears in the actual movie for all of ten seconds and her character does nothing other than lets the heroes into a night club.
  • The DVD cover for Frankenstein Island features only John Carradine's name at the top, and his face is on all of the different DVD covers. In the movie he plays the ghost of Dr. Frankenstein, and his screentime is less than five minutes combined.
  • The DVD cover for Showtime's 2005 musical parody Reefer Madness features Neve Campbell, both with her picture displayed in the foreground and her name at top-center - yet her character is in two scenes in the whole movie, once for the length of a musical number and the other for literally the three seconds it took to say her line, and like John Carradine above, has less than 5 minutes total screen time.
  • In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you could be forgiven for thinking that Angelina Jolie's character was the main character, being the focus of basically every commercial and having a spot on the cover. Turns out that her character gets around 10 minutes of screentime.
  • The Hungarian movie Sacra Corona featured Franco Nero on the cover. He appears in the role of Gerard Sagredo in the opening scene, where he's promptly killed. He makes a second appearance as a ghost towards the end of the film.
  • Although Steven Seagal is featured prominently in the promotional material for the film Executive Decision, his character meets an untimely death barely a quarter of the way through the movie.
  • The American DVD for The Twins Effect (retitled Vampire Effect) places Jackie Chan prominently on the cover. His appearance only amounts to a cameo.
  • The White Witch, Big Bad of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, has made a cameo in the film versions of both Prince Caspian (when her three worshipers try to force Caspian to resurrect her) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (as a form taken by the Mist of Evil), despite being completely absent from the respective books. (In this case, it has more to do with Tilda Swinton's contract, as she signed on to do and get paid for three films.)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Advertising for The Avengers puts the spotlight on Iron Man, whose movies became the highest grossing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at the time. The Blu-Ray box art for the film shows Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk, the four Avengers who had their own movies prior to the big team-up. Hawkeye and Black Widow are completely absent.
    • Due to the character's obscurity, a lot of the marketing for Ant-Man referenced the Avengers. A series of posters were made showing Ant-Man posing on top of Iron Man's armor, Captain America's shield, and Thor's hammer, complete with the tagline "No shield. No hammer. No problem," even though none of those characters appear in the movie proper.note  Additionally, the TV spots spoiled The Falcon's cameo in the movie, and even made sure to include the scene where Luis excitedly points out that Falcon is one of the Avengers, just in case there was anyone left in the audience who didn't realize the movie takes place in the same universe as the Avengers flicks.
    • The studio did the same thing for Doctor Strange, with one TV spot showing prominent shots of Iron Man's helmet, Thor's hammer and Cap's shield, likely for the same reasons as Ant-Man. Another TV spot took this even further by using recycled footage from Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. Furthermore, one TV spot (narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch himself) depicts the Avengers as dogs and then ending with...Dogtor Strange. Yet another spot has Cumberbatch analyzing the injuries of the cast of Captain America: Civil War.
    • One of the selling points used to market Spider-Man: Homecoming after the failure of The Amazing Spider Man 2 was the presence of Iron Man as Peter's mentor. Some fans complained about this, to the point that the film's poster (which managed to feature Iron Man twice) became a meme in its own right.
    • Likewise, while the second Black Panther trailer includes a voiceover from Ross that references the other heroes of the MCU, the international version of the trailer took this a step further by actually showing recycled footage of Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers and the Chitauri.
    • The first trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp actually begins with reused footage of Scott fighting Iron Man's team during Civil War. Later TV spots also show footage from Avengers: Infinity War.
    • In an inversion, after Black Panther ended up as an insane hit at the box office (becoming the highest grossing solo film in the entire MCU), the later promotional material for Avengers: Infinity War made sure to prominently feature the character, as well as Okoye and Shuri.
  • DC Extended Universe:
  • Pee-wee Herman makes a cameo in the 1987 comedy Back to the Beach. His scene doesn't really advance the plot (not that Back to the Beach had much plot to begin with, anyway), and seems to have been included only because Pee-wee's portrayer, Paul Reubens, was one of the biggest stars in the world at the time. (You'll also notice that he's prominently featured on that movie's video box cover, despite appearing on screen for only a few minutes.)
  • Ultimately subverted by Anna Nicole Smith in To the Limit (1995). She was heavily promoted as the star of this direct-to-video action flick, despite not portraying the main character and despite To the Limit being a sequel to an earlier film — Da Vinci's War — in which Smith hadn't even appeared! (This was a year or so after Smith had been named Playboy Playmate of the Year, appeared in some sexy ads for women's jeans, and been cast in relatively small roles in two major Hollywood movies, so at the time it seemed like she was everywhere.) Throughout the movie (which, continuity-wise, is pretty much a mess anyway), her character is featured to a ridiculous degree, at one point with the story stopping dead in its tracks just to show an extended sequence of her naked in the shower! And yet, despite her character being both The Ditz and a Faux Action Girl, Anna Nicole is the one more responsible than anyone else for defeating the villain in the end! Weird.
  • Optimus Prime is the most advertised character in the Transformers Film Series, followed by Bumblebee and the human characters. Also, the Dinobots are heavily featured in the marketing campaign for Age of Extinction, even if they only are on-screen for 15 minutes.
  • Based on marketing, you would think Drew Barrymore was the main character of Scream, when in reality her character dies several minutes into the movie. Despite this, she even received top billing on some promotional material (she was credited toward the end as "And Drew Barrymore" in the actual film).note  This was a marketing gimmick since they were paying homage to Psycho by killing off the supposed main character early on, shocking audiences.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Legolas gets minimal screen-time in this film, but he was an Ensemble Dark Horse in The Lord of the Rings. Three guesses who got the most coverage in all the trailers.
  • Both movie adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory place more focus on Willy Wonka than protagonist Charlie Bucket in their advertising, DVD box art, etc. (The first film, of course, is actually titled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but the reasons why didn't have to do with this trope.) Mr. Wonka is a Deuteragonist who is offstage for the first half of both films, aside from a few brief flashbacks and a voiceover in the 2005 version. Mr. Wonka also tends to be the most prominent figure on cover illustrations and in advertisements for other adaptations, but the films are the worst about this trope.
  • When 12 Years a Slave was promoted in some countries overseas, the poster they used was different than the one promoted in America. Instead of the promotional posters showing the large image of the film's lead, Chiwetel Ejiofor, his image is mostly replaced by a huge one of Brad Pitt who has a small role in the film. This caused a huge backlash among many movie goers. The studio explained this trope as being the reason for the poster change, claiming Brad Pitt was more popular and well known among foreigners.
  • The advertising for the television debut of Logan's Run made it sound like Farrah Fawcett, who'd just become a superstar with Charlie's Angels, was one of the main characters. Nope. She just had a bit role as a nurse.
  • Subverted in Se7en, where in order to keep the antagonist's identity a secret to cinema-goers, Kevin Spacey wasn't used in promotion for the film at all despite being a significantly bigger star than anyone else in the cast at the time.
  • Inverted with James McAvoy, who generally receives the short end of the stick when it comes to marketing. Even when he portrays the lead character, he is occasionally ignored or placed in the background of promotional materials.
  • Victor Frankenstein: The story is told from Igor's perspective, yet James McAvoy has slightly more prominence than Daniel Radcliffe in the trailers, the theatrical posters and the old-fashioned alternate poster created by professional artist Ciara McAvoy. Moreover, the film was known as Igor for a time, but the title was later switched to Victor Frankenstein. Radcliffe is more famous than McAvoy (e.g. the former's IMDb STARmeter is almost always consistently higher than the latter's), so it's unusual that the marketing department chose to give more focus on the less well-known actor.
  • During the credits at the beginning of Life of Pi, they give a special emphasis in Gérard Depardieu having a role in it, but his total screen time, as the ship's cook, is no more than four minutes.
  • Marketing for The Place Beyond the Pines prominently features Ryan Gosling, making him out to be the main character. This is true, for the first third of the film, as he is killed and the rest of the movie revolves around his death.
  • This print advertisement for The Greatest Story Ever Told features the face of John Wayne as the Roman Centurion— neglecting to mention that it was a cameo role in which he has exactly one line.
  • International advertisements and covers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles put a lot of emphasis on Raphael.

  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • Cthulhu himself. In the original works of H. P. Lovecraft, he appeared only once, in "The Call of Cthulhu", but has since come to be adopted as the symbol of Lovecraft, no doubt due to the work of Lovecraft's "protege", August Derleth, who did more than anyone else to help keep Lovecraft's writings in print after his death and also basically created (and certainly named) the Cthulhu Mythos. Most of the core ideas that people today would describe as being part of the "Cthulhu Mythos" come not from Lovecraft at all, but Derleth's later imitative stories.
    • Same applies to all of the Old Ones, really. The only Lovecraftian god that actually plays a prominent role in more than a couple of stories is Nyarlahothep. Yog-Sothoth often has a fairly important role, but usually he's just invoked in spells, rather than making an actual appearance. Azathoth gets mentioned a lot too, but never actually appears in any of Lovecraft's stories.
    • Of course, none of this stopped Lovecraft from mentioning Cthulhu, Yog Sothoth, Azathoth and the Old Ones in general every chance he got, regardless of relevance to the story at hand. The moment someone mentions the Necronomicon, or starts muttering about other old books, or gives any sort of long expository speech, you have a fairly safe bet some of the big names will pop up.
    • Independent writers and fans seem to focus their attention on Hastur, Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep. The reason seems to mainly be that Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth and other Outer Gods are fun setpieces, but not exactly characters. Nyarlathotep, on the other hand, is actively malevolent toward humanity, while Yog-Sothoth at least interacts with us on a regular basis (whether it be chatting with dreamers, impregnating albino women or being invoked in spells), and finally Hastur has the benefit of an incredibly iconic (maybe) avatar, in the King in Yellow.
  • Cross-promotion. Aside from the common example of "story in book by the author of popular book ", there's when older books get hijacked by adaptations into other media. One example: All of Arthur C. Clarke's books getting reissues whose covers depicted spaceships from the then-recent film 2001: A Space Odyssey... Including Tales From The White Hart, which didn't even HAVE spaceships.
  • This got an author acknowledgement in regards to the Discworld universe. After a few Ankh-Morpork/City Watch books, he got away from them for a while. When asked, he admitted that when he wrote Ankh-Morpork books, the City Watch took over, and when the City Watch took over, Sam Vimes took over.
  • Then there are things like "Tom Clancy's Op-Center," where Clancy's name is often the biggest thing on the cover even though he didn't actually write the series. He's credited as "creator", which usually means coming up with the core setting concepts, and leaving them to be fleshed out by other creators.
    • This is a common publishing phenomenon wherein a bestselling author's name is placed prominently on the front cover in order to attract the sales that author normally generates, wherein his or her contribution may have been limited to an idea or an outline at most. Generally speaking, if a best-selling author's name appears on the cover in massive print followed by the name(s) of another author you've never even heard of in smaller letters, this trope's in play.
    • This is especially true for those suffering from Author Existence Failure; usually, whomever is finishing their work, or writing in the style of that person, gets their own name printed on the cover in a much smaller, less noticeable typeface.
  • As noted below in Magazines, Rush Limbaugh is sometimes used for Wolverine Publicity, and Limbaugh claims it's no coincidence that Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations sold significantly more copies than Al Franken's other books.
  • In the wake of Twilight, we're being inundated with reissued classic romances such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Romeo and Juliet — all featuring black covers with close-up pictures of something red (usually a rose) and a very familiar typeface. In the case of the relatively short Romeo and Juliet, the typeface has been blown up to a ridiculous point size to inflate the page count to more closely match the Twilight readin' experience. (Nothing wrong with the last one, though; no matter your reading level, it's always nice not to have to squint.) Then there's the Wuthering Heights editions with not only the aforementioned cover art but also plastered with a huge sticker that says "EDWARD AND BELLA'S FAVORITE BOOK!"
  • Roger McBride Allen wrote three novelsnote  that take place in the same Universe as Isaac Asimov's Robot series. Asimov's name is so large on the cover of these books that you could be forgiven for thinking he wrote them.
  • Wild Cards, which is a series of books written by dozens of different authors set in the same universe, was edited by George R. R. Martin. After Song of Fire and Ice started becoming popular the Wild Card books started featuring his name more and more prominently over the actual authors' names. Then when Game of Thrones started airing some printings and online book stores went as far as giving him top author credit.
  • Mark Tavener's novel In the Red is a comedy thriller starring a BBC journalist, which features minor roles by the unnamed Head of Radio 2 and Head of Radio 4. When it was adapted for BBC radio, these roles were played by Stephen Fry and John Bird, who reprised them in the BBC TV adaptation. These devious figures became Breakout Characters in Tavener's radio spin-off Absolute Power, at which time the TV tie-in of the book duly had a photo cover of Fry and Bird, with no sign of Warren Clarke, who played the main character, at all.
  • The sixth edition of Broadway Musicals Show By Show contains Wicked, Hairspray, and Jersey Boys on the cover because they were some of the biggest musicals when the edition came out. However, those musicals are given bare minimum synopsis' with little-to-no historical information, and the latter two don't even have photographs in the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied on 30 Rock with "Seinfeld-Vision", in which Jerry Seinfeld is digitally inserted into every single NBC show, whether he's appropriate or not.
  • This actually happened to live-action sitcoms on ABC, with Steve Urkel, at the height of his popularity, being crossed over onto almost every show in the TGIF lineup at one point or another.
    • He even had cameo appearances in shows on completely different networks. "Hey, what's Urkel doing on All That? ... for the third time?"
    • Later syndication advertisements of earlier episodes often were ONLY about his small scene unrelated to the actual plot of the episode.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles features a Portuguese actress (Daniela Ruah). The Portuguese FOX only stated it a few rare times, and then only in the first few weeks. When the show started airing on Portuguese network TV, she was the focus. As in every single trailer just showed her character.
  • Castiel is starting to get this in Supernatural's sixth season, with most of his appearances cameos at best, and Cas mostly showing up to explain why he's too busy off-screen to help out this week. Also, Misha Collins is now receiving credits for episodes in which he doesn't even appear.
    • He also gets his own solo TV bumper (Dean and Sam had to share one) and is one of the only three cast members to be included in the official publicity photos despite only appearing for about thirty minutes total in the entire sixth season so far.
    • Extends to Misha Collins himself—ever since he started appearing in the fourth season he's been doing as many, if not more, interviews as Jared and Jensen and appearing at just about every convention.
  • Blunt: The Fourth Man was a British TV movie from the '80s. The video was released in the late '90s or the 21st century. Anthony Hopkins's face featured prominently on the cover. Ian Richardson played the eponymous Blunt (not a drug reference), the main character, while Hopkins played someone else. But then Richardson never played a cannibal (or at least not Lecter).
  • Kamen Rider has been doing this to a point with Momotaros from Kamen Rider Den-O. If it's a Kamen Rider production, and Den-O is in it, you WILL at least hear his voice, even if other Riders don't even have a line. (That being said, it should be noted that his voice actor, Toshihiko Seki, being a voice actor, is indeed the most readily available of all the lead actors in the entire franchise when it comes to Role Reprise.) The Den-O series itself counts as well, having more crossovers with other Riders and more spinoff movies than any other in the franchise.
    • Both of the movies for Kamen Rider Decade extend this. There is no real need for Momotaros to be on-screen, but they put him in anyway just because of his Wolverine Publicity.
      • Decade is at least consistent with this; each Rider has a Final Form related to their abilities that Decade can activate but, due to the Demonic Possession that Den-O is known for, his Final Form is Momotaros himself. Diend can also summon former Riders, including Momotaros in one episode. And the first of Decade's movies was the epilogue to the Den-O arc in the show and the second was a Reunion Show featuring every single main Kamen Rider in history.
      • Lampshaded in said second movie. The final line before the credits roll is Momo telling Tsukasa to stop pestering him because he's "super busy" (the Chou Den-O Trilogy of films soon followed.) Busy doing some Wolverine Publicity, we presume...oh, wait, not just Wolverine Publicity: he's also a Wolverine Publicist!... and he even advertised for McDonald's! Choke on that, Wolverine.
      • In the show itself, Den-O's world is the only one to not have any kind of key alteration, for no apparent reason other than to have all the original characters readily there for crossover movie purposes. Even characters that weren't as important (like Naomi, who could have just as easily been discarded or at least given an Other Darrin) were there.
    • The franchise's 40th anniversary movie stars the original Kamen Rider, then-current Rider OOO... and Den-O. And Momotaros is part of OOO's movie-exclusive powerup mode. At least they made it a Time Travel plot, which is right in Den-O's wheelhouse and justifies his presence.
      • Den-O aside, in that particular movie, Double got a bit of this as well, with Shotaro and Philip being the only one(s) of the remaining Heisei Riders to appear out-of-suit and have proper lines. They also appeared prominently out-of-suit in the following year's Movie Wars Megamax, and Double and Accel got to appear with OOO (who got to show up out-of-suit himself) and Birth in the following Movie Wars Ultimatum.
    • Den-O's presence in crossovers has generally been dialed back since then, getting at most a line or two more than other non-leading Riders, though he did have more of a presence in Kamen Rider Taisen. In this case, it's kind of justified: the movie guest-stars Super Sentai, it's traditional for Sentai mecha to use a Rider powerup in such situations, and the Sentai at the time and Den-O shared a Cool Train theme. Having Den-O's train combine with the Sentai train mecha is a natural fit.
  • "Hey guys I heard this rumor that Libby/The Smoke Monster/Walt/Christian/Desmond is going to be in this episode! Oh look there they..." * blink* Lost.
    • Australian promos, especially in the early seasons, would sometimes imply that the upcoming episode would reveal that a particular character would be the key to everything. One promo claimed that the season 1 episode with the first Hurley flashback would answer the already answered (off screen) question "is it a dream/purgatory/Truman Show?"
  • The Sky1 adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather went to DVD with David Jason front and centre, making him look like the most important character in the story. He was actually the sidekick in what was largely the b-story. He was also used in all their advertising and his name dropped constantly in all promo material.
  • If you look online, you'd be excused for thinking iCarly was actually iSam or even iSeddie and that the star is Jennette McCurdy and not Miranda Cosgrove.
  • Nick @ Nite did this with The George Lopez Show, during its syndication on the channel. At first, they would look for any excuse they could find to air a George Lopez marathon. ("Hey, it's St. Patrick's Day! How can we celebrate Irish culture? George Lopez is Mexican — close enough!") Then they dropped the pretenses altogether and aired George Lopez marathons without even giving an excuse.
  • Advertisements for Merry Christmas Drake and Josh on Nick, which focus much more on iCarly stars Miranda Cosgrove and Jerry Trainor, despite their characters relatively minor roles in this show. Heck it won't even say the stars' names until the end, and that's because they're the title characters (and they have to say what show they're advertising).
  • Almost every CBS episode promo for How I Met Your Mother heavily features Barney Stinson, so if you didn't actually watch the show, you could be forgiven for thinking he's the main character. In the actual show, he gets lots and lots of entertaining subplots, being a legitimate Breakout Character, but is actually the focus of the A-plot only around 1/4 of the time. So that promo you just saw that dedicated 15 out of its 20 seconds to Barney pulling some crazy stunt? Chances are, said stunt takes up only around three minutes of the episode.
  • The Stargate-verse franchise has a particular case of this with Samantha Carter, every episode where she appears she is heavily advertised regardless of screentime. A particular notorious episode was early in the first season of Atlantis where she was identified as "guest starring" in the commercials. In the episode, she had ONE WORD and 10 seconds of screen time.
    • Richard Dean Anderson, being easily the most famous star and face of the franchise, started getting this after he left the show. Stargate Continuum was particularly marketed as The Return of O'Neill! when in actuality he appeared for all of two scenes that could have easily been cut without loss.
  • Desperate Housewives in season 7 had Renee, a character who had no major ties to any of the plot lines that season standing front and center on the DVD cover, with all of the other main characters in the background.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike. Friggin' Spike. After he joined the main cast of Buffy he essentially became the face for the franchise as a whole. He pretty much became shoehorned into every following episode even if his appearances were limited to just less than a minute, with the same even applying after he moved over to Angel after Buffy ended. The comics have been no different: Angel's canon After the Fall sequel gave him not one but two spinoff comics that tied in with its main story with Buffy season 9 doing the same. He's also heavily featured in marketing, even if he appears very little (heck, Buffy's third season DVD heavily featured him in cover images, even though he's only in one episode!). By this point it's surprising they don't just call it the Spikeverse instead.
  • A DVD containing Christmas-themed episodes of The Garry Moore Show bore the title, "The Garry Moore Show Presents: A Carol Burnett Christmas", and also had a cover featuring only Carol Burnett. Since early pressings just used the title, "A Carol Burnett Christmas", she actually sued the producers of the DVD for false advertising.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
    • Based on how prominently he was featured in the merchandise for the series, you might think that King Sphinx was a member of the main group of villains, maybe even to the point of being Co-Dragons with Goldar. In the show itself, he was just a standard MOTW featured in a single filler episode who did nothing that would make him particularly memorable and was never seen or even mentioned anywhere outside of that one episode.
    • After Adam made a brief return in In Space (then believed to be the last season) and "Forever Red" brought back Jason and Tommy for the tenth anniversary special in Wild Force (also believed to be the last season at the time of filming) it's become more and more prevalent for series to try and harken back to the original series and bank in on its popularity and nostalgia. Tommy was specifically brought into Dino Thunder to help boost ratings. Since then, it hasn't been uncommon to try and bring back Rangers/characters/suits/plot devices from the Mighty Morphin' era, knowing that people's nostalgia for that series will prompt a ratings boost and make it a popular/talked about episode, or in the hopes that it will get people to watch the season. The reuse of the theme song from Samurai onwards is also a version of this. Hell, Megaforce has basically marketed itself to older viewers on the fact that, "Past rangers are going to appear in it, so you should watch it for that reason!"
    • Tommy in particular is a very popular choice for crossover appearances in various pieces of spin-off media, which is especially pronounced since he's had several different Ranger forms over the years due to having starred in at least four different entries in the franchise. Much like the Wolverine in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 example listed above, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid launched with two playable incarnations of Tommy note  as part of the base roster, and Jason David Frank even appeared in the game's launch trailer.
  • In print ads for the Son of Svengoolie, whenever they ran a film with the word "Frankenstein" or "Dracula" in the title they'd use a still shot of Boris Karloff as the Monster or Bela Lugosi as Drac, even if they weren't in the film running. Or even if the character didn't appear, such as in Dracula's Daughter.
  • Children of Dune: Leto Atreides II is the central focus of two of its three episodes, but he's very small on the poster, and you don't even get to see James McAvoy's face. This gets rectified for the North American DVD release.
  • For the third and final season of Robin Hood the new characters of Kate and Tuck were widely publicized, outranking every other character except Robin himself. Considering the two of them were Replacement Scrappys for the far more popular characters of Marian, Will Scarlet and Djaq (written out at the end of season two) this backfired rather spectacularly.
  • The Punisher (2017) heavily hyped up its use of Karen Page during the marketing campaign, presumably to draw in viewers from Daredevil (2015), even though she's only in four episodes and her contribution to the overall plot is minimal.
  • Twisty the clown from American Horror Story: Freak Show was a popular character, so when he reappeared in later season American Horror Story: Cult he was heavily featured in the marketing campaign, even though he only had cameos at best, his role in the story was inexistent, and had been dead for 64 years by the time Cult took place, which made it impossible for him to have any impact in a season explicitly advertised as supernatural-free.

  • In 1995, Time Magazine ran a cover photo of a cigar-chomping Rush Limbaugh with the blurb, "Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America?" The article inside only tangentially dealt with Limbaugh and mainly concerned the rise of "electronic populism" that would result from people having more TV and radio choices and from consumers getting more of their news from the Internet. This trope tends to involve Limbaugh a lot; a controversial, polarizing figure with 20 million daily listeners can attract a lot of attention even if he doesn't have much to do with the real guts of the project.
  • Cosmopolitan often promises BRAND NEW SEX SECRETS, but really just tells the reader the same stuff everybody knows. The worst cover example was "Orgasm Guaranteed", while inside the magazine, it says there's no such thing.
  • Syd Lexia's review of MAD Magazine #292. Needless to say, he was quite put out to discover that the actual article did not feature Mario (or any Nintendo game) at all:
    Syd Lexia: Then again, it's possible MAD knew *exactly* what they were doing when they put Super Mario on the cover. Mario is the single most recognizable video game of all-time and he had a godlike hold over my generation when this magazine was printed, so it's very possible that MAD put him on the cover as a cheap ploy to sell more issues. So you can take you pick as to why Mario is on the cover of a Nintendo-less issue of MAD, shoddy workmanship or intentional exploitation.

  • The only reason Michael Jackson sang on The Jacksons' album Victory and tour was because his father and brothers wanted to capitalise on his success with Thriller. Around the same time Michael was making guest appearances on other things, such as Paul McCartney's "Say Say Say" and Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me", to name a few. Too bad the tour was a disaster that led Michael to leave. Jackson then appeared on the Jacksons' album 2300 Jackson Street, singing only the title track because his father and brothers were desperate for a sale, but the album still flopped.
  • This is extremely common with hip-hop artists, such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Akon, Lil Jon, and Lil Wayne, etc. It's even worse with producer-types like P. Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Timbaland, whose collaborations are better-known than their own songs. Likely because popular artists are used as crutches for newer artists, or older artists to help them sell to a very fickle hip-hop crowed with short attention spans. Interestingly enough this was somewhat rarer in The '90s (except maybe Tupac Shakur), and The '80s.
  • In the late '90s, Puff Daddy (or whatever he's called now) was in so many videos that Chris Rock made a joke about it during the 1997 MTV Music Video Awards.
  • Rihanna. Until 2013, her record company pushed for for her to release at least one new album every year (for fear of her losing star power), and that's on top of nearly every mainstream hip hop album within the last five or six years having at least one song with her doing guest vocals.
  • The album "Wolverine Blues", by Death Metal band Entombed, actually featured Marvel's Wolverine on the cover of some early versions. This was done by the record company cutting a deal with Marvel without the knowledge of the band. Obviously, the album had nothing actual to do with Wolverine at all.
  • Slash. Parodied in the "Crack Baby Athletic Association" episode of South Park.
  • This review of a mediocre German recording of Leonard Bernstein's Candide, narrated by Loriot, notes that Loriot's name is "twice the size of Bernstein's name" on the cover and that he "is the only person whose picture is printed in this package. The same picture, six times."
  • Angus Young of AC/DC always seems to be emphasized as the Face of the Band, even though the singers Bon Scott and Brian Johnson could be more fit that role. Granted, he is the lead guitarist and always co-writes the songs along with his brother Malcolm (they even do the lyrics ever since The Razors Edge); but it seems as if his face is featured front and center on every piece of AC/DC merchandise, while Malcolm, Bon or Brian are hardly featured at all.
  • Same with Gene Simmons of KISS, probably because he wears the most outlandish face paint. He's been a guest judge on American Idol, recorded a spoken-word album, and was even a guest in a documentary about Superman. Many fans are surprised when they first learn that Gene is only the co-lead singer (splitting the duties with Paul Stanley) and plays bass and not lead or rhythm guitar.
  • Kevin Talley. Even when he was in Dying Fetus, he was already making a name for himself as an in-demand live session player, and once he left, it seemed as if he had made it his life's goal to do session work for every single band in metal. It goes like this: if a band suddenly needs a fill-in drummer or needs someone to do studio work due to lack of a full-time drummer, chances are high that Talley will get the job due to his extreme precision, protean adaptability, and uncanny ability to learn entire sets in a matter of hours and play them perfectly.
  • For an artist who has yet to have her own real top 40 hit, singer Bebe Rexha has become almost a staple for other artists to have hits and is featured on a new hit song almost once a week.
  • Invoking this trope was key to Beyoncé's success. Her first appearances outside Destiny's Child was singing hooks on various rap songs, where she'd be credited as "...featuring Beyoncé Knowles from Destiny's Child" (though the "...from Destiny's Child" part was eventually dropped). Later, she started acting in movies and lending her vocals to their soundtracks, and her very first solo release was "Work It Out" from Austin Powers in Goldmember. This led to her solo debut album Dangerously In Love, where she was credited as simply Beyoncé.

  • Medusa. Despite the fact that her only solid presence in the original myths is against Perseus, her woobieness in retrospect and being a stock Shout-Out means that if someone's doing anything remotely related to Greek Mythology, she's pretty much an obligatory presence even if claiming to be mythologically accurate yet making the setting during the time of The Argonauts (the Argonauts had Heracles, Medusa was slain by Perseus, Perseus was Heracles' great-grandfather, you do the math) as a reviewer noted in Rise of the Argonauts that she's just there to be there. Granted she's not the only Gorgon in the myths, but she's a perennial favorite to use.
  • Hercules. Hercules, in some plays and stories, at some point, was in almost every major thing Greece ever did, including riding along with Jason and the Argonauts. He also apparently stopped off at every island and city-state he could find and had about 300 kids, all of whom are the ancestors of kings. He often makes cameos in stories where people go to the underworld, as well. Even accounts of the Trojan War, which took place decades after Hercules' death, have one of his sons make a cameo appearance (and be killed by a son of Zeus despite his own divine heritage). At least the Argonauts story gets rid of him fairly quickly, when he abandons the expedition out of grief at the death of his Ambiguously Gay friend Hylas.
  • Hermes, better known to the Romans as Mercury. Although he was not one of the highest-ranking gods on Olympus (being Zeus's son and the official messenger for the other gods), the Greeks loved him for his penchant for mischievous adventure, and tried to work him into every one of their stories.

  • For Stern Pinball's X-Men, Deadpool was teased in the initial game menus, but did not appear until an early 2014 software update. If the player can make a certain number of Combos, Deadpool appears during various Villain Modes and increases the amount of damage the player inflicts.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street:
    • Since the early 90's, Elmo has been given more prominence than older characters on the show such as Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster, much to the chagrin of longtime fans. A notable example of this was the second DVD release of Follow That Bird. Elmo is featured prominently on the cover in spite of appearing for roughly three seconds, in a silent cameo as part of a crowd scene.
    • The DVD cover and trailer for A Special Sesame Street Christmas give Michael Jackson more emphasis than deserved for a singer whose guest spot lasts shorter than a minute. Not only that, but one of the bonus features is a Stupid Statement Dance Mix of Jackson's very brief cameo!
  • When The Noddy Shop was imported to the UK as Noddy In Toyland, The BBC had a particular fondness for Johnny Crawfish out of all the new puppet characters created for the framing segments. Any episode where he was the focus was frequently played, he was featured on the back cover of a series of books branded under the Noddy In Toyland name, as well as a series of toy cars and he even got his own music video.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During the entire "Rock n' Wrestling era" of the WWF and well into the '90s, they promoted Hulk Hogan endlessly. This jumped the shark at Wrestlemania IX, where after Mr. Fuji's interference caused Bret Hart to lose the heavyweight title to Yokozuna, the Hulkster himself came out and demanded an immediate match with the big sumo, which was granted...and ended 20 seconds later with Hogan as the new champion. Hogan later refused to put over Bret and was shamed out of WWF, so he could repeated the process in WCW.
  • A common complaint about the WWE's Attitude Era was that too much focus was put on Vince McMahon's own family. He even went so far as to have daughter Stephanie become a part-time wrestler and gave an on-air role to his wife Linda, even though neither had any significant experience with the "sport". Luckily, the McMahon family's Wolverine Publicity slowly declined once The Rock became champion at King of the Ring 2000, and daughter Stephanie was later given the much more appropriate role of general manager. This became a problem again in 2001 though with the Invasion storyline. Apparently, they didn't think WWF fans/wrestling fans would be interested in seeing guys from WCW and ECW wrestle against WWF guys, so they made the whole storyline about Shane McMahon and Stephanie trying to take out Vince and take over his company, and it eventually turned into a continuation of the Austin/Vince McMahon feud, which basically meant it was a rehash of everything the Attitude era had already done long after it had gotten stale in the hopes that it would work twice, which is why this era is generally looked upon as a massive waste of potential.
  • The Rock was originally billed as Rocky Maivia. He was publicized so much, that everyone got sick of him. Even Rocky Maivia hated Rocky Maivia.
  • Attempted in-universe by Chris Jericho. ("Raw is Jericho!")
  • Triple H, circa 2002-2005 (give or take). Led to Pat Patterson quitting after his suggesting using "less Triple H" to stop ratings from falling fell on deaf ears, and led to the Bubba Ray Dudley line "This is not the Triple H Show!" This criticism actually dates as far back as 1999-2000, when the infamous "Rock vs. Triple H" feud was in full swing. It became so bad, in fact, that when Mick Foley became the new WWE commissioner after King of the Ring 2000, one of the first things he opted to do was reduce Triple H to a midcarder role. Even in the time when he wasn't on the show, Spring 2010 to July 2011 (with the exception of the lead-up and actual PPV of WrestleMania 27) he was still in the opening, toward the end, in one of the more prominent spots. When he was out with an injury in 2001, he was still mentioned pretty much constantly and they were running a sequence that showed his rehab pretty much every night. This, of course, is one of the benefits of being married to the boss's daughter who is also the head of "Creative".
  • ARSION's head booker was guilty of it, or so it was thought, until 2001 when she left the promotion they still continued to advertise her on shows Aja Kong obviously would not be on, having left and all. She eventually took them to court to put a stop to it. Also, combining this trope with loophole abuse kicked off the career of Amazing Kong, previously known as Vixen, who was given to fans by promoters who had promised A Kong but couldn't get Aja.
  • Since the foundation of TNA up until the acquisition of Kurt Angle, the promotion basically existed to put over Jeff Jarrett, who was greeted by chants of "drop the title" due to many extended title reigns as NWA World Heavyweight Champion, including the deletion of Ray Gonzales's title reign from the record books, a tactic WWE fans had seen used by Triple H, leading to the Fan Nickname Triple J (Jackass Jeff Jarrett)
  • John Cena was in a main title bout at every WrestleMania from 2005 to 2016, going 9–3. By the end of that run, if you never watched wrestling, you would have thought John Cena was the only wrestler because he was the only one in every promo commercial.
  • John Morrison and The Miz most definitely. Not just because they appeared on all three WWE brands regularly, featured on most pay-per-views if only for a short segment and had their own Internet talk show but also because the World Tag Team Championships they wore were supposed to be exclusive to one show, Raw. As ECW superstars they never should have gotten a title shot in the first place. Even worse, SmackDown!'s equivalent WWE Tag Team Champions, Carlito and Primo, weren't even guaranteed to appear on their own show, then Miz and Morrison stole their girlfriends. It was justified by ECW having kayfabe "talent sharing agreements" with both Smackdown and Raw, but it seemed that they were the only two wrestlers smart enough to take advantage of the agreement. (Interestingly, therefore, Morrison and Miz may have been the ones responsible for ECW being discontinued two years later and Raw and SmackDown being reintegrated a year after that!) And fans really wanted to see them take a beating.
    • Carlito and Primo later defeated Miz and Morrison for the Unified Tag Team titles, belts that were supposed to crossover between different shows, and still weren't as overexposed as Miz and John Morrison were.
    • 1. The talent scene at the time was so pitifully dead compared to previous years that "rules" aren't going to get in the way of entertainment. 2. Miz and Morrison were heels, thus should be hated and 3. Carlito's growing issues with the company was counterproductive.
  • After Brock Lesnar walked out on New Japan Pro-Wrestling, the IWGP Heavyweight Title picture could be described as Hiroshi Tanahashi and the challenger of the month, as no one else really stuck around until the unexpected rise of Kazuchika Okada and the acquisition of AJ Styles. To a lesser extent, Shinsuke Nakamura got heavy press for his decent showings in MMA and a victory over Kurt Angle that resulted in the return of the belt Lesnar took, or to a greater extent considering he was the actual champion for a much shorter time relative to his press, more so than Tanahashi.
  • Even though WWE was divided into the Raw and Smackdown brands, pretty much the entire main event crew, including John Cena, Triple H, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and others appear on both shows with alarming regularity.
  • Kelly Kelly is one of the most overexposed Divas (and no, not because she used to be an exhibitionist). Except for The Fabulous Moolah, she was the only Diva featured in the 2011 opening montage for all WWE programming till the day of her release. WWE's writers dredged up one excuse after another to have her appear in segments, most infamously her fake pregnancy prank when Jerry Springer was the special guest host. (And this was before she was booked to win the Divas' Championship!) Not-so-subtly lampshaded in a TV commercial for 7-Eleven, one of the sponsors of the 2009 SummerSlam show (in which Kelly barely even appeared), in which she knocks away a row of commemorative Edge, John Cena, Triple H, and The Undertaker drinking cups with a Kelly Kelly cup.
  • A.J. Lee is another Diva who started hogging the spotlight in later years. Despite rarely competing in the ring, she was made the focal point of almost every main-event feud on Raw for seven months, culminating in her becoming the psychotic lover of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Then it was taken to extremes when she was named the new Raw General Manager. Vince has surprisingly been listening to viewers who frequently request he build back up the Divas division to where it was during its peak in the early-to-mid-2000s. However, at this time, the Divas division was pretty heavily based around Trish Stratus, and to a lesser extent, Lita, then Mickie James. Vince feels that, much like Cena, the Divas division needs a "central character" to work as a keystone, saying he "needs a Trish" to build from. He's tried with Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, and AJ, and to a lesser extent, Maryse and the Bella Twins, but these have all fallen apart for one reason or another.
  • To tie in with A.J.'s increased screentime, the ever popular Daniel Bryan saw his increase significantly post-WrestleMania 28. As of late 2012 he and his tag team partner Kane are a major part of shows as dysfunctional WWE Tag Team Champions, appearing in multiple segments on any given night. Consequently, this has brought more focus to the tag team division than it's seen in years.
  • Also attempted in-universe by John Laurinaitis, who while General Manager of both Raw and SmackDown booked himself into the ring (sometimes to compete, sometimes not) at every opportunity, and even tried to have his face put on the cover of WWE's latest video game instead of CM Punk's.
  • Yet another in-universe attempt involves Brock Lesnar making this part of his demands on signing a contract with WWE, specifically asking for Raw to be re-christened as WWE Monday Night Raw: Starring Brock Lesnar. (What makes this really strange is that, in Real Life, Lesnar is a notoriously private person -- almost to the point of being a recluse -- so he'd be one of the last people in the world to ever demand such a thing.)
  • Invoked in Ring of Honor by Jay Briscoe. After he was forced to vacate the World Title due to an injury, he showed his defiance by creating his own world title and doing everything he could overshadow the official champion Adam Cole, including taping his image over Cole's on promotional posters. Matt Hardy and Jay Lethal in turn would use Bricoe's own tactic against him, though neither went to quite the same extremes.

  • LeBron James from 2010 to June 2012. The media paid attention to EVERYTHING he did, to the point of stalking.
  • Shaquille O'Neal anyone? Within his first four years in the NBA, Shaq released two rap albums, starred in two movies, had his own video game, and appeared in commercials endorsing Pepsi, Taco Bell and more. Years later, he would go on to do even more endorsements, get his own reality TV show, release a couple more albums, and make cameos in video games. Shaq has been everywhere, and this isn't even getting into his basketball career.
  • The Yankees and Red Sox at ESPN. Baseball Tonight should be renamed the Yankees and Red Sox show.
  • For the final few years of his career, Troy Polamalu was promoted as virtually the equal of Ben Roethlisberger on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Granted, Polamalu was a top-notch player, but he was only a safety while Roethlisberger was (and still is) the quarterback.
  • Tim Tebow, definitely. Despite a fairly average quarterback, he was the most talked about person on ESPN during the 2011 NFL season. His overexposure declined a little bit during the 2012 season when he spent it entirely as the backup to Mark Sanchez, but he still got way too much attention. Now a thing of the past since he's out of football and trying his hand at a pro baseball career.
  • NBC Sports Network airs one or two games of Major League Soccer every weekend. The overwhelming majority of the matches they air feature the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC, and/or Philadelphia Union. However, they are pretty good at not hyping up star players on the level of other examples, so unless a player is having an incredible day, don't expect the commentators to ramble on about them for half the match.
  • Danica Patrick, first in Indycar and then NASCAR gets constant promotion and coverage no matter how well she's doing. Since there are 42 other drivers in a NASCAR race Danica gets far more coverage than any other driver with similar career stats. Somewhat lampshaded by the fact that sponsored both Patrick in NASCAR and James Hinchcliffe in Indycar; Hinchcliffe won several races with their name on his car, as opposed to Patrick who won nothing except the pole position at the Daytona 500, yet GoDaddy dropped Hinchcliffe and kept sponsoring Patrick.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo. To the point that in the European Championship Final 2016 he was prominently featured on the international TV stream (unlike the NFL with Football, the UEFA and FIFA don't allow TV stations to shoot their own feed instead making one pre-mixed for the world to take at face value or leave) even though he wasn't on the field for most of the game, falling victim to an early injury. Maybe France also fell victim to this trope as they lost to a team "that only consists of Cristiano Ronaldo" - without Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Mickey Mouse is featured on the cover of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days alongside the main characters, but he only actually shows up for one scene and as a Secret Character in multiplayer mode. Presumably he was on the cover to remind folks that Kingdom Hearts is still a Disney property, as series mainstays Donald and Goofy are entirely absent outside said multiplayer mode.
    • Similarly, Mickey is front and center in much of the official artwork for Kingdom Hearts χ, including all the app icons for Unchained. His actual role inside the game is minor, being featured on a few medals and making a cameo appearance during a filler subplot.
    • These examples seem to stem from the fact that Mickey is depicted on every cover in the series, starting with Kingdom Hearts II, in most cases he has a large, or at the very least significant, role, unlike the two exceptions listed.
  • Christopher Walken appears on the box cover and on the serigraphy of every single CD of Black Dahlia. He has a three minute bit part in the game.
  • Mario, his supporting cast, and to a lesser extent Link has a habit of making cameos in games on Nintendo systems. The Mario gang has made appearances in even third party games for Nintendo systems, sometimes even as playable characters. The Gamecube release of Soulcalibur II was the best selling version of that game almost entirely because Link was a character in it. This has even been lampshaded in some of the Mario RPGs.
  • Mega Man:
  • Always expect Ryu and Chun-Li to pop up in Capcom's crossover games. Excluding the Street Fighter-less Cross Edge, they're the only characters with a perfect attendance record, and Ken would had got it too if it wasn't for him being one of Ryu's transformations in Marvel vs. Capcom, an entirely different character with the same name in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and the developers deciding Akuma was enough in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. And predictably, the trope namer has appeared in nearly all of Capcom's Marvel-licensed fighting games. He even has two versions of himself in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
    • Spider-Man, Captain America and Incredible Hulk are all tied for second place when it comes to Marvel characters with the most appearances in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. The only entries not to feature them were X-Men: Children of the Atom and X-Men vs. Street Fighter, which didn't include Marvel characters who weren't tied to the X-Men franchise.
    • Zangief is also present in nearly all of the crossover fighting games; his absentee counts are SVC Chaos (where he's replaced by Hugo from Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact), Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (where he's replaced by Alex from Street Fighter III), Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (both of which replace him with Haggar from Final Fight as the Capcom side's grappler) as the Capcom side's grappler.
    • Morrigan is next to them. Since the first Marvel vs. Capcom she was always present, except in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos where she's replaced by Demitri as the Darkstalkers character. And it's still played straight, since said game wasn't developed by Capcom, but by SNK.
      • To put it in perspective, she's the sole Darkstalker in FOUR games: Marvel vs. Capcom, Capcom vs. SNK, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Given that she's essentially a Pirate Who Doesn't Do Anything (succubi are supposed to use their charms to corrupt good men's souls, not get modelling gigs), that's pretty impressive.
    • Capcom intends to give Frank West the same treatment.
    • On the topic of Street Fighter: When Akuma first appeared in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, he was in every piece of promotional material for the game. The home conversions of the game prominently featured him on the cover art. Lastly, Akuma appears in the intro of the game opposite Ryu. In spite all of this promotion, the conditions to fight Akuma are so exceedingly difficult to attain due to the game's difficulty that it's safe to say that most people have never seen him in the arcade version. In addition, the code to play as that character requires such precise timing that the average player probably wouldn't get it right after the first 30 tries. After all of this, though, Akuma has been guaranteed an appearance in almost everything Street Fighter-related since.
    • Oddly enough, when it came to the initial release of SFA3, Cody ended up taking this spot. Despite not being a 'main' character story-wise or even the most high-profile of the new additions, he ended up a major presence, if not the focus, of most promotional art for the game, including one of him vs. Ryu, with the rest of the cast in the background.
  • On the subject of SNK, there are a few characters you can almost always expect to show up in any crossover. Among the most notable are Terry Bogard, Mai Shiranui, Kim Kaphwan and Geese Howard from Fatal Fury, Kyo Kusanagi from The King of Fighters, Athena Asamiya from Psycho Soldier and Ryo Sakazaki, Yuri Sakazaki and Robert Garcia from Art of Fighting. In the actual King of Fighters series, Rugal Bernstein emerged as the most popular villain, and has gone on to appear in multiple entries despite canonically having died way back in KOF '95. Mai is so popular that, in addition to showing up in the all of the crossovers with Capcom and the all-female fighting games like SNK Gals Fighters and SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, she's a playable Guest Fighter in Dead or Alive 5 and Dead or Alive 6.
  • In the MMOFPS PlanetSide there are three factions to play as, and the blue/yellow clad freedom fighters, the New Conglomerate, are the poster boys. They're on watermarks, the game's loading screens (giving it to the other two factions), all the promotional material and trailers. Even the lead developer of the game shamelessly promotes them as his favorite faction, so it comes as no surprise that they're everywhere.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Despite the multitude of characters showing up in the games, Mario, Link, Kirby and Pikachu are always featured front and center.
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl prominently featured Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog on its back cover. While they are indeed playable characters, both have to be unlocked, and Sonic doesn't appear in the game's story mode until the final boss battle.
    • Mega Man in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, to the point that he gets twice as much screen time as Sonic and Pac-Man in the game's intro.
    • Out of all of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's newcomers, the Inklings have received a large amount of focus in promo material for the game. The teaser that announced the game even featured a Commercial Switcheroo, by making it seem as if it were a trailer for something Splatoon-centric, only for it to end up being a Smash teaser.
    • Ultimate also boasts the most amount of third-party characters seen in any Smash title, by virtue of bringing back every fighter the series has ever had. Out of all of them, Solid Snake, Ryu, and Cloud Strife have been featured heavily in the advertising for the game. The former's appearance in the game's trailer from E3 2018 was marked by the "EVERYONE IS HERE" text, confirming that everyone who was a fighter in Smash was returning in this game, while the latter two received prominent placing on the game's boxart, and all three have prominent position in the "Everyone is Here" banner.
  • Marisa Kirisame of Touhou is the second playable character, having been in the games since the second on the PC-98. To date (up to UFO), her head is the icon for all ZUN-made Touhou games in the Windows domain — even the one where she doesn't even appear in, Shoot the Bullet. Not even Reimu (the lead) is capable of boasting that she's appeared in every game in one form or another. Marisa is not, however, the icon for Double Spoiler or Fairy Wars. She is, however, fightable in both, and Reimu isn't in Fairy Wars outside an ending appearance. As doujinshi are a major part of Touhou, it also happens to all the fangames Marisa takes a starring role in, more than Reimu by far.
  • Super Robot Wars:
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Bonus Boss of Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans, none other than "Legendary" Super Saiyan Broly, despite the game covering until the saga before Super Saiyans appear on the plot, about 15 volumes and 150 episodes before the point Broly's movie could happen. Proving why he belongs in this trope, they used him on ads for the game. Broly appeared in a total of 17 games, including a "What If?" Super Saiyan 3 form in Raging Blast.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu was heavily promoted as the first game in the US to include Broly, which is probably Taiketsu's only claim to fame.
    • Cooler gets a lot of advertising, and has appeared in numerous video games.
    • Revenge of King Piccolo only has King Piccolo himself show up for the last few stages. Most of the game is spent covering the Red Ribbon arc. The Japanese name counts too, as it refers the Tournament Arc that gets even less stages than King Piccolo's arc. At least the Red Ribbon is prominently featured on the cover.
    • Even though he is the franchise's main character, the sheer overexposure of Goku Dragon Ball Fighter Z quickly became kind of infamous among fans. As of 2019, no less than five different versions of the character are present in the game: A base version of Goku, Super Saiyan Goku, Super Saiyan Blue Goku, Dragon Ball GT Goku and Ultra Instinct Goku. That's not even counting Goku Blacknote  and Fused Zamasu note , or the fused versions of the character like Vegito and Gogeta. And you thought Marvel vs. Capcom 2 having two playable versions of Wolverine was excessive...
  • The AC Nine Ball from Armored Core has only shown up in four out of thirteen games, yet is the series' unofficial mascot and every AC fan worth their salt will instantly recognize him.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Shadow. It's Sonic & Tails that generally get top billing on merchandise (with Knuckles & Amy added sometimes as well), but Shadow still gets significant focus on games and comics that feature him. For example, Shadow was highly publicised for Sonic X even though he only got a handful of episodes, almost some of which were dedicated to him and that's excluding the adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Back in the Genesis era, an enemy named "Splats the Rabbit" often appeared in promotional artwork, comics, and toy lines, despite not having made it into the actual game.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Sub-Zero is the only character who is present and playable in every fighting game in the series, and is present in every spin-off except for Mortal Kombat: Special Forces. He was also the main character in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, and he has made cameos in other Midway titles such as MLB Slugfest.
    • For a while, even he was upstaged by Goro, who created an amazing amount of buzz for a game he wasn't even in. No, he was not in Mortal Kombat II. Any version. At all. No, that didn't prevent a kajillion hours of speculation about whether he was alive, where he could be, what exactly happened to him after Mortal Kombat, whether Shao Kahn knew about him, etc. When he did finally return, in Mortal Kombat 4, he was given a superstar's welcome-back and placed front and center on the cover art, despite the fact that he had virtually no story to speak of and no connection to Shinnok's scheme whatsoever.
    • Scorpion. It doesn't hurt that he's not only Ed Boon's favorite character, but a fan-favorite for many. In fact, his omission in Mortal Kombat 3 led to some fan backlash that caused Midway to release a Champion Edition revamp of the game titled Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 that added Scorpion and Kitana (plus all their palette swaps) back to the roster. He and Sub-Zero have become the series' Spotlight-Stealing Squad, usually receiving top-billing or spots on the covers despite initially having minimal ties to the overall plot. The only exception was in Mortal Kombat: Deception, where the Elder Gods made Scorpion into their Champion to deal with the threat of Onaga. It has gone beyond top-billing: Scorpion's the logo mascot for Netherrealm Studios. He even got to appear in Injustice: Gods Among Us as a Guest Fighter.
    • Unsurprisingly, Scorpion and Sub-Zero were the ones chosen to debut Mortal Kombat X to the world.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Pyramid Head, after his popularity in Silent Hill 2, was put in the movie. He appears in two scenes. He serves no real purpose other than fanservice and to be scary as hell.
    • Appeared again in Homecoming, said movie's sequel, and had an expy in Origins with The Butcher. Again with no real reason other than fanservice.
  • Thrall and the Horde (or at the very least the Orcish race) in modern Warcraft media. A giant statue of a Orc riding his wolf into battle was even erected right at the headquarters of Blizzard Entertainment because of how popular they are.
  • If your knowledge of Team Fortress 2 is small to barely existent, chances are the only class you know from this game is the Heavy.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The adult incarnations of Link have appeared in less than half of titles of the series, but you'd never know it from all the times he's showed up. He's been in on the default roster of every single Super Smash Bros. game labeled as just "Link", with his Young incarnation (who has in comparison appeared in eight games in the series, including one where the Adult form appears as well) appearing as a secret character in Melee and Ultimate, while his Toon incarnation (who has appeared in six titles of the series) appeared in every SSB game since Brawl. Adult Link even appeared as a Guest Fighter in Soul Calibur II and was the star of Link's Crossbow Training one of the few spin-offs in the series. At this point, Adult Link is probably the most recognized incarnation of the character.
  • Pokémon:
    • Charizard's case probably most closely resembles that of the Trope Namer. In many circles, it ended up becoming one of the (if not the) most popular Pokémon and overshadowing Series Mascot Pikachu for being the series' definitive Rated M for Manly character, just as Wolvie himself ended up overshadowing Marvel's mascot Spider-Man in similar circles. As a result, from 2013 onwards, it started getting a ton of gratuitous anime (including Ash's being shoehorned into the second half of Best Wishes! in an attempt to soften the Dork Age), manga and merchandise appearances (many of them in starring roles), acting as the franchise's backup Spotlight-Stealing Squad not named "Pikachu", and getting two Mega Evolutions while other Pokémon (except Mewtwo, who is also an example of this trope) only get one. They even managed to work Charizard into Pokémon Sun and Moon, despite it not being in the regional Pokédex (it appears as a "Ride Pokémon" and it allows players to fly from area to area). Then, in Pokémon Sword and Shield, it shows up not only as Leon's signature Pokémon, Charizard is one of the returning Pokémon to get a Gigantamax form with an exclusive new move, and its family is not only the sole returning Kanto Starter, but the sole returning Starter, period (discounting Pikachu and Eevee). In fact, a strong case can be made for Charizard being more aggressively marketed than Pikachu during this period, largely due to Game Freak's efforts to appeal to older Pokémon fans.
      • In the case of the Super Smash Bros. series, Charizard started out as a Pokémon that can be summoned through the Poké Ball item. In Brawl, it becomes a playable character through the Pokémon Trainer, alongside Squirtle and Ivysaur. Then, in the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U installments, Charizard returns as an independent character, while Squirtle and Ivysaur appear only as collectible trophies. Luckily for the latter two Pokémon, they came back alongside the Pokémon Trainer, with Charizard going back to being one of the Trainer's Pokémon, in Ultimate.
      • Mega Charizard X in particular has been getting this treatment, being marketed much more heavily then its Y counterpart. It's made multiple anime appearances, on top of being the form utilized in the 2014 Super Smash Bros. games, whereas the latter ended up only showing up in the Kalos League of the X and Y anime... where it gets beaten by Mega Charizard X.
    • Pikachu is the best-known example, appearing in almost every single piece of merchandising available (you wouldn't even know that it's actually a fairly rare Pokémon species, and unobtainable via normal gameplay in Pokémon Black and White or their sequels). It was the franchise's poster boy for this trope for the longest time, until Game Freak decided to change its marketing strategy.
    • The cute "Pikaclones" (Pichu, Plusle/Minun, Pachirisu, Emolga, Dedenne, and Togedemaru) tend to get a lot of focus, especially in the anime, where it's become a tradition since generation 4 for one of the main characters to own the one introduced in the current generation of games.
    • Lucario was the first widely-noted example of this after Pikachu. One got to star in its own movie, and also appeared prominently in every single aspect of the franchise (including a playable appearance in every Super Smash Bros. game since Brawl). It ended up getting even more attention after receiving a Mega Evolution in X/Y.
    • Then after trying again and failing with Zoroark (an Expy of Lucario), the Pokémon Company noticed how popular Zekrom was, and proceeded to give it a prominent appearance in nearly everything (including as the main Pokémon in Pokémon RéBURST and Pokémon Conquest).
    • Similar to Charizard, Blaziken received a Mega Evolution and a distribution event when X and Y came out, with no word of its counterparts Sceptile and Swampert getting a similar treatment until Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
    • Goomy also ended up with a lot of representation due to its unexpected popularity for being an "underdog", Ugly Cute, and evolving into a pseudo-legendary. The anime even has a Character Arc dedicated to the little Dragon-type, which includes Ash catching and fully evolving it.
    • Greninja ended up becoming the most popular of the Kalos starters. Much like Charizard and Lucario, it was made a playable character in Super Smash Bros. and was even given a new Mega Evolution-like transformation that was invented for the anime. This form, dubbed "Ash-Greninja" in that it slightly resembles Ash's design for the X and Y anime, was later added to Pokémon Sun and Moon as part of the playable demo.
    • Legendary Pokemon usually receive most of the promotion and publicity, despite being the rarest and most difficult 'mons to obtain in-game. The most prominent example is Mewtwo, who is largely perceived as a Single Specimen Species and is regarded as much as a singular character as the human characters (as opposed to an entire species as most Pokemon are). Part of the reason why the 16th Pokemon movie was disliked was due to the fact that it took away that distinction by introducing a second Mewtwo. Mewtwo is still highly regarded enough to get two Mega Evolutions (a distinction shared only with Charizard) and made available as a DLC character for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
    • Starter Pokemon received plenty of marketing due to being the "ambassadors" of the game (they are the very first Pokemon that players start out with). When a new generation is revealed, marketing switches to the newest starters while the previous generation starters are swept under the rug. That being said, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle are still marketed like crazy (Pokemon X/Y having them as a second set of starters probably helped with this), sometimes even appearing alongside Pikachu.
    • For the Pokemon GO 2017 Halloween update, a new hat item resembling Mimikyu was added. Mimikyu is from generation VII and not available to capture, while the game was only on generation II.
    • Eevee began getting this treatment during Generation 5. It's a rare Pokémon in most regions and there are usually only one given out per game. It was popular for years but eventually Game Freak really began noticing how cute and popular it is. It also helps that Eevee is a gender-neutral Pokémon liked equally by boys and girls. As a result, Eevee has essentially become the second mascot of the franchise. It has a lot of merchandise and regularly appears in the anime (with May, Serena, and Lana even having one each). Eevee even received a game alongside Pikachu where it's a starter Pokémon.
    • Among the fully-evolved Alola starters, Incineroar gets this treatment, appearing in the 20th movie and in several episodes of the Sun & Moon animated series, under the ownership of Professor Kukui/The Masked Royal. It also appears as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Metroid:
  • Heihachi Mishima is the Tekken series' designated cameo character, appearing in Xevious 3D/G, Smash Court Tennis, SoulCalibur II, Pac-Man Fever, Namco × Capcom, Tales of the Abyss, Project X Zone, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
  • In the Mascot Fighter Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien was the only represented series that was still running at the time of the game's release. All other Cartoon Network shows represented had been finished for a while now.
  • God of War's Kratos has become Sony Computer Entertainment's Wolverine, seeing as how he appeared in SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny as per fan-request as well as the PS3 version of Mortal Kombat 9. He's also stated to be the "beginner's character" in Play Station All Stars Battle Royale, similar to Mario in Super Smash Bros.
    • Ratchet also seems to be going the same way. He's essentially to Sony as to what Mario is to Nintendo.
  • Five of the first eleven characters revealed for Injustice: Gods Among Us were Batman characters. Commented in this webcomic.
  • Six of the first twelve characters revealed for Infinite Crisis were Batman characters, including three versions of Batman.
  • Judging by Skyrim fanworks, you'd think Unrelenting Force (aka "Fus Ro Dah!") was the only Shout in the game, and that the Dragonborn is required to use it all the time. While it can stagger foes (or knock them off their feet with its full power), it's not that powerful or useful unless you employ a very specific strategy.
    • Not to mention the Iron Helmet used in almost all promotional materials and even as a crossover item in Team Fortress 2. It's bottom tier gear in-game; by the time the Dragonborn has obtained the final level of the aforementioned Shout, they'll likely have moved on to Steel gear at the least.
  • Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign has roughly thirty playable heroes and villains (at the time of this update). Wolverine and Black Widow, each in three different costumes, are six of them.
  • Another Marvel example: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes heavily leans on three characters:
    • Phil Coulson, who serves as the guide icon for story missions and serves as the voice of hints as to what powers you need to use to solve a particular puzzle.
    • Deadpool, who serves as the guide icon for side missions and voices the intro and outro to EVERY side mission.
    • Stan Lee, who you need to save 50 times over the course of the game, including once in every single mission. (Deadpool even says "He's in this game more then I am!")
    • Wolverine, the Trope Namer, only appears in a few missions where his presence is more or less justified, thereby kinda averting the trope for him.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne's American and Japanese versions subvert this. The European cover, however, is very happy to zoom out of the main character just so they can stick in a poorly photoshopped version of Dante in and adding a "Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry Series" right there in the front.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth does not contain the titular Great Old One. There are many mentions of Cthulhu, a few statues... you even fight one of his Chosen, but Cthulhu himself does not appear. This actually caused a bit of a rift among people who played the game, between those who appreciated the game giving greater focus to lesser known Old Ones Dagon and Hydra, and those who felt that it's not a real Call of Cthulhu game without Cthulhu.
  • Shortly after LJN Toys (and therefore Acclaim, which bought them out around the same time) acquired the rights to churn out Spider-Man Licensed Games, they made sure to shoehorn a "SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY SPIDER-MAN®" (as Mission Control) into their Game Boy version of The Punisher. Oddly enough, LJN/Acclaim also held the rights to Wolverine but didn't give him this sort of treatment.
  • Likewise, Spider-Man was added as a Guest Fighter in X-Men: Mutant Academy 2, making him the only playable combatant in the game who isn't actually part of the X-Men franchise.
  • The NCR Ranger Combat Armor of Fallout: New Vegas features prominently on the cover, advertising, opening cinematic, and main menu of the game. Despite this, it's rather rare in-game and can only be used by members of one faction, the New California Republic (good luck waltzing into the Legion's main encampment wearing the clothing of the enemy faction's most powerful soldiers - you will be shot on sight). A nearly identical version of the armor, called Riot Gear, was included in the game's final DLC Lonesome Road, and, unlike the Ranger Armor, can be used by members of any faction. However, the difficulty of the DLC ensures the armor's rarity.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Lucina, who first appeared in Fire Emblem Awakening and has since appeared in every single spinoff and sequel since (barring Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE) in some form or another. She constantly tops popularity polls, appears to represent the series in crossovers like Super Smash Bros. and Project X Zone, and even has multiple versions of herself appear as playable characters in Fire Emblem Heroes. While she's mostly an extremely popular character, her heavy marketing and constant presence in the spotlight has attracted the ire of fans, particularly of the older games, who feel that other equally popular characters get disproportionate amounts of love from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems.
    • While Lucina may be the worst offender, she's not the only one. Marth, Robin, Chrom, Corrin, Ike, Roy, and Lyn are the characters most likely to get publicity. With the exception of Lyn, they're all playable characters in Super Smash Bros., and Lyn's an Assist Trophy. All this, despite the fact it's actually Anna who is the closest thing to a Series Mascot.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Super Mario Odyssey does this with New Donk City and by extension with Pauline. You don't reach New Donk City for several levels into the game, and in the grand scheme of things neither it nor Pauline are important, however it is the level that is most marketed for the game. Pauline isn't actually that major of a character but advertisements treats her like she is in the main female. The reason why New Donk City gets this treatment is due to it being one big Call-Back to the original Donkey Kong, with Pauline also having her first major appearance in years.
  • Nintendo Badge Arcade features Isabelle from Animal Crossing, Ashley from WarioWare, and Nikki from Swapnote in a large number of badge sets in a variety of different costumes.
  • One piece of promotional art for the game Tank Troopers has WarioWare's Breakout Character Ashley posing with the game's cast. While Ashley did feature in some cross-promotional badges for the game in the aforementioned Nintendo Badge Arcade, she doesn't actually appear in the game or its online comic.
  • Shovel Knight has somehow become the darling of the Indie Game circuit, and his Crossover appearances are heavily advertised even if he's just an NPC. He's been made a playable character in more than a dozen games that aren't his own, cameoed in a few more, and even became an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney series does this on occasion, promoting popular characters from previous installments in games they barely appear in. Justice for All has Miles Edgeworth on the box cover despite not appearing at all until the final case and being assumed dead until he shows up. Investigations gave major promotion for Ema Skye despite her only showing up for one scene in case 3. Spirit of Justice made a big deal about Maya Fey's return, giving her a spot on the box cover and dedicating an entire trailer to her. In the actual game, her only major role (excluding DLC) is as the defendant in case 3 and a plot device in case 5.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, almost all chapters prominently feature Rena in the cover, even those that have nothing to do with her. She is missing only in Meakashi-hen and Minagoroshi-hen. That's 2 out of 8, people! Rena is also on the PS2 remakes covers, except for Kakera Asobi, where Rika and Hanyuu are there instead. Rena does have an important role in the plot, though Keiichi is the Decoy Protagonist and Rika the real one. That being said, it's a sure thing she gets the most attention due to her popularity.
  • Used, like many VN and Harem Series tropes, to play with the reader's mind in Doki Doki Literature Club!. Monika, a character with no route, is given equal billing in the promo pictures, the blurb to advertise it is written from her point of view, and she has more merchandise than others. It's like if Ryou were on the cover of CLANNAD and Nagisa were hidden in the corner. But then you find out there's a reason for that: Monika may have been a side character for the romantic comedy the game started as, but she pulls a Hostile Show Takeover and becomes the villain of the horror game it turns into.

  • For a while in the late 90s/early '00s, Max Blackrabbit's Zig Zag was like this in Furry Comics (especially those of a Fan Servicey bent); a member of the Sabrina Online cast from the strip's third year onward, she was also a supporting character in Badly Drawn Kitties (before the reboot) and had cameos and guest spots in at least a dozen other comics. Zig Zag isn't quite as popular in the fandom now as she was at the beginning of the '00s, so this sort of thing has been averted as of late.
  • Parodied by Schlock Mercenary in their transcript blurb— whenever the true transcript is not available, this message replaces it, trying to attract advertisers by using popular tags:
    The transcript for today's comic has not yet been entered. Had it been entered, instead of seeing this message you would have seen the text of the strip, rendering this page searchable, and providing all kinds of yummy words for our advertisers to twig on, like "mercenary" and "iPod Warcraft xBox Playstation widescreen TV".
  • Parodied in an 8-Bit Theater strip, where the cast splits up into multiple teams and Fighter appears in all of them, a team consisting of multiple Fighters, all in the same panel, ''with two of them high-fiving each other''. Black Mage doesn't get it. Neither does Fighter. The strip is even titled "Fighterine" in reference to the Trope Namer.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Chapter 25 was announced as Bibidi's special, even though he only appears during the first part of the special and the Kaioshins have much more time.

    Web Original 
  • That Guy with the Glasses:
    • The site has been so rife with Dr. Insano and Spooning With Spoony crossovers that Noah Antwiler says they've frequently left him ragged and that he worries his fans will tire of them. Thankfully, there's a good supply of Expy Insanos willing to pop out of The Multiverse at any time.
    • The Nostalgia Critic is no stranger to this kind of exposure either; given Doug has multiple characters, it is common for the other reviewers to get him to cameo or crossover at least once as one of these characters. Inverted too though; he's had just about every contributor on the site crossover and cameo once in his videos, which probably helps get their names out to his fans and encourage them to watch his videos. His recent videos, meanwhile, tend to be filled with skits and cameos by actors/actresses from his Demo Reel series, leading many to complain that show is starting to focus more on guest star hijinx than on actual reviews.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara has appeared in other peoples' reviews several times. Admittedly, these reviews are usually comic-book related, but he also usually appears with less well-known reviewers of the site like MarzGurl and Film Brain.
  • Many YouTubers use this tactic in order to get views, by labeling things that have nothing to do with their video, or using a gratuitous image of a hot woman, and misnaming their video.
    • Raocow does this in reverse — he sticks random tags that make sense in context on his videos. The Related videos section typically gets some comments on the video in question.
    • The VlogBrothers tend to get more views from guys on videos where the picture giraffe sex on the preview, even though the giraffe sex is not typically actually in the video.
  • Amazon Prime Video has slapped Jonathan Frakes' face on the header images for every season and episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. You'd never know James Brolin was involved unless you watched those episodes.

    Western Animation 
  • During the early seasons of The Simpsons, Bart Simpson constantly took front and center in publicity materials, even if the upcoming episode focused on someone else. Some of the more gratuitous examples include TV Guide's advertisements for "Old Money"note  and "Lisa's Substitute"note . The Simpons Guide showed how Bart dominated the ad for Marge-centric episode "Marge Gets a Job". (In later years, Homer has often replaced Bart.)
    • As a whole, The Simpsons franchise is this for Fox. They will be included wherever Fox is trying to promote themselves and gain an audience.
    • On the audio commentary for the episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy", then showrunners Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein discuss FOX's marketing for the episode, which featured a picture in TV Guide of Bart taking a peek under a doll's skirt — and the ad stated "Springfield gets a sexy new doll!" which was the complete opposite of the Lisa Lionheart doll's theme.
  • Each episode of The Marvel Action Hour consists of one story featuring the Fantastic Four and one featuring Iron Man, but Netflix lists streaming episodes of the show under, Iron Man: The Complete Animated Series.
  • Disney XD's updated opening of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! showcases Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Incredible Hulk, and Captain America, but not the superheroes who didn't have movies released before the premiere of The Avengers. Also, Nick Fury narrates, even though he sometimes goes several episodes without appearing.
    • Another egregious example involves a DVD titled, "Iron Man Unleashed". In actuality, three of the included episodes showcase other Avengers' Character Development, and the other three feature the heroes working togethernote  to save the world from Kang the Conqueror. (Iron Man seems to have become The Smart Guy for most of that arc, except for a few times when he blasts Kang with his repulsors.)
    • Australia got a season 1 Blu-Ray with a case depicting all eight Avengers. However, it also shows Nick Fury and Black Widow standing alongside them. Black Widow only appears in six episodes of the first season (though she is rather important) and is not an Avenger.
    • The Australian season 2 Blu-Ray did the exact same thing, positioning Black Widow, Nick Fury, Spider-Man, and Wolverine next to the team, even though the former two were supporting players and the latter two only appeared in about 2-3 episodes each. Basically those four took prominence because people know them from the movies.
    • The cover for the sixth American DVD shunts Captain America for an alien disguised as Ultimate Captain America, whose costume inspired that worn by Cap in the live-action Avengers movie. It also features Black Widow, despite her not having any lines in the included episodes.
    • When Marvel finally released a DVD collection of The Avengers: United They Stand to coincide with the popularity of the MCU, Captain America and Iron Man were given the most prominent placement on the box, despite the fact that they only appeared in one episode each. The actual Avengers highlighted in the show like The Wasp, The Falcon, and Hawkeye were all shunted off to the side, including Ant-Man, who was actually the leader and the main character.
  • Not that this is anything new. During the same year the live-action Daredevil movie came out, several episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (as well as semi-relevant episodes of Spider-Man (1967) and Fantastic Four) were collected on a DVD entitled Daredevil vs. Spider-Man.
  • Iron Man, for a while, was a lead in no less than four series at once: Iron Man: Armored Adventures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, and Marvel Anime: Iron Man. Ol' shellhead gets around these days.
    • At the time, Cartoon Network used different symbols to represent its shows. For Pokémon, it used a Poké Ball. For Hot Wheels, it uses the Hot Wheels logo. For The Super Hero Squad Show (notably the last Marvel series to air on Cartoon Network following the Disney buyout)? A profile of Iron Man's face.
  • For a time, the Incredible Hulk was a main character in both Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Avengers, Assemble!, while also making guest appearances on Ultimate Spider-Man.
  • Spider-Man's not totally neglecting his crossover duties, popping up a few times in both Avengers series and Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
  • One of the most controversial aspects of Avengers, Assemble! is that it largely focuses on heroes featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the seven lead Avengers being the six Avengers from the first movie plus Falcon (who was added in anticipation of his then-upcoming movie debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). The cast eventually expanded with new characters like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, The Vision, Ant-Man and The Wasp in later seasons, but only after they'd either debuted in the movies, or had movies officially greenlit and in production. There are a few exceptions like Kamala Khan or the Jane Foster version of Thor, but the show still heavily favors the MCU.
  • My Little Pony:
    • Firefly was on everything in the first Generation. Her only appearance in the cartoons was the pilot where she was the Spotlight-Stealing Squad and protagonist, but she appeared on the most merchandise for sure.
    • Pinkie Pie seems to appear on most of the promotional material for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Even moreso than Twilight Sparkle (who's supposed to be the main character). Mostly because of her bubbly personality. And she's pink.
      • She was also quite popular in G3. She went from a cute background pony with a lisp to being the leader of the generation within a few years, appearing on most merchandise and even being on toothpaste (her G4 counterpart has replaced her on the toothpaste now).
    • Rainbow Dash, an Expy of Firefly, seems to be inheriting this trope from her as well. She's on most of the official t-shirts and was the center of the hype leading up to "Cutie Mark Chronicles", a popular episode expanding on the main cast's backstories. However, she did turn out to be vital to all of them.
    • Hasbro seems to want to use their pretty pink pony Princess Cadence for all she's worth. She has two toylines centered around her, the logo for one of them (The Crystal Empire) is just a picture of her. She's also on the DVD artwork for one of the Season 1 box set DVD's. She's not introduced in the series until the Season 2 finale.
    • Hasbro is also well aware of bronies' love for background ponies and thus have started using them quite a bit in merchandise and advertising, usually Derpy, Time Turner, and Vinyl Scratch. Vinyl in particular has a bunch of t-shirts, a brushable toy that came in a "collector's set", was the first to get an Ascended Fan Nickname ("DJ-Pon3" in a commercial), and appears on several comic book covers (see the comic books folder). Her three appearances in the show barely make up a minute of screentime. At least Derpy & Time Turner are Recurring Extras!
    • Bizarrely, Fluttershy seems to be receiving this favorable treatment too. The Topps trading card and sticker packs and related merchandise (such as tins and lunch boxes) all feature either Fluttershy only or Fluttershy (sometimes accompanied by Angel) with everyone else to the side. If you didn't know any better and you were just in a department store's trading cards and tins shelf, you might think Fluttershy was the main character—and not shy at all, considering the way she hogs the spotlight for these materials. (The lunch box even has the other five main characters visibly annoyed at her smiling front and center!)
  • Duck Dodgers: A Movie Within a Show example, actually. Though Duck Dodgers had the lead role in a movie, Bugs Bunny was announced as the star. It was lampshaded when Cadet explained to Dodgers that it was to attract a larger audience.
  • Looney Tunes: During the intro sequence of Daffy Duck's Quackbusters, they've called more attention to Bugs' presence than Daffy's. Which is, of course, the point.
  • Brian and Stewie are starting to become this for Family Guy: if a story has a B plot with these two and the main plot with somebody else, the promos will focus on the Brian and Stewie (sometimes only Stewie) plot. "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" and "Stew-roids" were the most egregious examples. There was also a time when almost all merchandise only featured Stewie, similar to the Bart example above.
  • Despite only being a secondary character in Peter Pan, Tinker Bell has been used to introduce just about every Disney TV special of the past several decades. Younger generations of kids might not even know why she's important!
  • Despite only appearing in two of his shorts, the bombshell character of Red Hot Riding Hood is prominently displayed in packaging and artwork of the Droopy DVD collection.
  • THIS VIDEO. During 2005, Cartoon Network made a summertime song as a promotion that around the time, the Cartoon Network original shows that were running consistently around that time included Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, and Codename: Kids Next Door. Well Cartoon Network tended to give a lot of emphasis to the older characters like Dexter, Johnny Bravo, and The Powerpuff Girls that didn't have their shows running as consistently. And that was also the same summer that introduced Camp Lazlo.
  • Cartoon Network:
    Billy: (opening door) I'm so glad you're here- HEY! You're not the Powerpuff Girls!
    Numbuh 1: No, we're not.
  • Raw Toonage's opening titles featured Webby from DuckTales, but she never actually appeared in any of the show's cartoons or host segments. At the time Raw Toonage was on the air, The Disney Afternoon was still going strong, and DuckTales was its flagship show.
  • Transformers:
    • Four characters are primarily used to advertise most incarnations of the franchise — Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and Starscream. Even in Beast Wars, a series which takes place both millions of years in the future and in the past, the original Starscream still managed to get an episode starring himself.
    • In a well-stocked Toys 'R' Us in the US in 2014 it would have been possible to find no fewer than 9 different Starscream toys on shelves simultaneouslynote .
  • Yogi's Space Race isn't so focused on Yogi Bear as the title suggested.
    • It was originally a 90-minute umbrella show which featured Galaxy Goof-Ups (in which Yogi stars), "The Galloping Ghost" and "Space Race" (again Yogi is in it). It was split up at mid-season into three separate shows. A similar case was Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, which some would argue on which Scooby-Doo is barely focused. But it was originally a two-hour show which featured Scooby in a full hour (repeats of Where Are You! followed by new eps and repeats from 1976) before handing it off to the show's co-stars (Dynomutt, Captain Caveman) and Laff-A-Lympics.
    • Scooby-Doo is definitely no slouch in this department either. The franchise is still going strong, with at least one TV movie produced each year, new television shows being made at least every couple of years, comic books produced by several different companies (including DC and Marvel) and tons of merchandise, up to and including its own set of LEGO mini-figures.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • Beast Boy has been treated this way. Because of him being the most popular character among the target audience, more episodes have been centered on him than any other character. They also gave him four birthday episodes and Cartoon Network has had an annual birthday marathon for him each year since 2015.
    • To a lesser extent, Beast Boy's best friend Cyborg is also advertised a lot. It also helps that he's become an original Justice League member in the comics, which means the show references this.
  • DC Super Hero Girls advertising puts a lot of emphasis on Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl.

    US Presidents 
  • George Washington is America's First President and Commander in Chief and has the highest military rank any general can ever achieve. America's capital city, Washington DC, is named after him, as is Washington State, and his name adorns many streets and places across the United States of America. He is still ranked among the three greatest American presidents (alongside Lincoln and FDR) and he certainly played a major role in the founding of America. Yet from the way Washington's presence is emphasized, it tends to get lost that he rarely had any role in the great events of the American Revolution. He had no involvement in the Boston Tea Party and the early parts of the Revolution and he only came on the scene as a behind-the-scenes colonial property-owning landholder. As Commander in Chief, he was actually a fairly mediocre general who never really won any battles and he had little participation on the decisive American victories (such as Saratoga). Indeed, Washington was far more effective spymaster. Washington had no involvement in authoring the Declaration of Independence and is not included among its signatories. He had no say in the writing of the Constitution and its debate (Madison, Adams and Hamilton were far more relevant) and as President, he more or less tried to be above-the-fray and rarely interfered in any of the debates or proposed his own policies.
  • It wasn't really deliberate, but it ended up happening during the 1900 U.S. presidential election. President William McKinley was running for reelection that year, but in those days presidential candidates usually didn't campaign for themselves. The task instead fell to McKinley's running mate, New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt, who had been added as a last-minute replacement but by that point was justly famous for his participation in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba and many other larger-than-life adventures, particularly his days as a rancher in the Dakota Territory. On the campaign trail, Roosevelt dressed as a cowboy and managed to keep the spotlight consistently on him, to the point that many of the Americans who ended up voting for the Republican Party ticket did so more for Roosevelt than for McKinley. This was parodied in a popular cartoon of the time, which showed Roosevelt leading the inaugural parade on horseback... while just behind him, President McKinley was riding on a bandwagon and being forced to hold up a sign on which was written "ROOSEVELT is just ahead! Look at ROOSEVELT!" (Eight months later, McKinley was murdered by an anarchist, and the rest is history.)
  • At least once a generation, American politics tends to become utterly dominated by the persona of a single president; this is despite the fact that the American political system actually has less power centralized in the head of the executive branch than many other nations. A particularly charismatic, popular president winds up being the defining figure of his political era, getting credit (or blame) for basically everything that happens in government. Congress? The Supreme Court? Not so much.
    • Ronald Reagan: Practically every modern Republican politician will cite his name as someone who inspired them in some way — 'Reagan made me a Republican' is very much a full-swing Catchphrase to the right wing. Nevertheless, Ronald Reagan's fans will attribute popular conservative policies to him even if he had little or nothing to do with them, and likewise, he provides convenient scapegoat excuses for unpopular policies he personally implemented. Conservative radio shows and Fox News portray him a messiah for the American conservative workingman, to the point where the more unhinged among them claim he singlehandedly won the Cold War. 'What would Ronnie do?' is constantly applied to every current issue in Washington, even if that problem is something Ronnie had absolutely zero interest in or did not exist in his time. It even extends to the nominal left wing, as this hero worship of Reagan created a bloc of conservative Democrats (known as Blue Dogs) who originated as... Democrats who voted for/supported Reagan. This even goes far enough to whitewash whatever flaws the man himself had, as well as ignore policies he implemented and/or endorsed that no longer reflect the GOP's current agenda.note  On the other hand there has been a backlash among people farther to the left that point out true or imagined flaws of Reagan making him into a boogeyman who single-handedly - and deliberately - destroyed the American Middle Class, while being corrupt, committing war crimes and being too riddled by dementia and other ills of old age to find his pants while he was supposedly master-minding his evil master-plan even though the good as well as the bad was not Reagan's doing alone.
    • John F. Kennedy serves as the Alternate Company Equivalent of Reagan for the Democrats and left-leaning artists. Most democrat senators cite his presidency at the start of the 60s as a Golden Age ("Camelot")note , with even some of his posthumously revealed flaws (such as his incorrigible womanizing) lending him an image of a Lovable Sex Maniac in internet videos and biographies, while films like The Butler and JFK and others will demonize his successors, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon for ruining his "good work". In truth, it was JFK who, however reluctantly, committed troops into Vietnam, he was far less committed to Civil Rights than Johnson, and while many praised him for his statesmanship on the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was his incompetent handling of the Bay of Pigs invasion that led to that incident to begin with, not to mention that it was Kennedy who passed the controversial and widely criticized Cuban Embargo. His spectacular Conspicuously Public Assassination and the debates surrounding it has ironically done more to preserve his memory, preventing him from facing the backlash to the initially popular Vietnam War that his successors faced as well as his slippage into increasingly ill health that he had spent a lot of effort to cover up for the public. He's become in effect a legendary figure in the age of mass media.
  • Presidential also-rans can often retain a level of fame that can be quite disproportionate to their actual success. Ron Paul, for instance, didn't fare well at all in the 2008 or 2012 Presidential races, but still became incredibly famous and earned a reputation as a major figure in American politics.

    Other Politics 
  • This often happens with many national Founding Fathers or Icon of Rebellion. Many of them start out as Rebel Leader and upon their passing, either by natural causes, or early death, they recieve Historical Hero Upgrade, Historical Badass Upgrade and a Cult of Personality, either deliberate or spontaneous, takes root and they tend to have their faces spread everywhere and anywhere, often overshadowing the work of other people and groups in the public consciousness.
    • Mahatma Gandhi is possibly the most famous Indian in the world, and certainly the Icon of Rebellion for India's Independence movement and a Trope Codifier for non-violent resistance. He inspired the Civil Rights Movement and Nelson Mandela. He's also the only Indian leader represented on its currency, and the only one whose birth is celebrated with a national holiday, and he's considered the "father of the nation". So who governed India, who wrote its constitution and who oversaw the nation-building in the early years? Naturally you would assume that it's Gandhi, but the answer is no on all fronts. In fact, Gandhi never really held any public office or official post. He was primarily a community organizer and protest strategist, who spoke on a series of moral issues and social justice questions. The Constitution of India was in fact written by B. R. Ambedkar, a man who was critical of Gandhi. India's state-building, negotiation of boundaries and joining in territories from princely states was overseen by Sardar Vallabhai Patel, while India's first Prime Minister was Jawaharlal Nehru, who promoted secularism, modernization and industrialization. Furthermore, India's independence movement is really an umbrella term for a huge range of social movements, sometimes at odds with each other and while Gandhi was certainly important, movies like Gandhi tend to make him far more central than others are.
    • Simón Bolívar really was instrumental in the history and independence of several Latin American countries, but had he gotten his will, Venezuela Bolivia (which is named after him) Colombia and Panama would still be one country. He was by far not the only independence leader, by far not the only general of note and certainly not the most capable politician of his generation. Bolivar in fact repeatedly tried to pull a Cincinnatus/Washington, only it always turned out to be a 10-Minute Retirement because someone, somewhere just needed him to lead an army or serve yet again as President or Dictator.
  • Napoléon Bonaparte deliberately went out of his way to publicize and promote himself over and above his already considerable level of accomplishments, while posthumously his memory is elevated inside and outside France over and beyond proportion. The famous Napoleonic Code was authored by Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, and it was more or less a codification of laws put in place by the governments of the First French Republic, with Napoleon's main contribution being the political stability he brought about to consolidate the process. His own coup to take power was essentially an opportunistic power grab of a pre-existing plot by a group of liberals who wanted to topple the Directory government by using the military (already a common occurrence for the last four years by that time), and the plot would have gone ahead with another general in place of Napoleon, who barely got out of a military disaster in Egypt to luck in on a plot that had it gone another way would have brought him to task for his misadventure in Egypt. Within France and Europe, historians and commentators commend him for being a founder of Modern Europe, even if what he really wanted to do is rise in the social ladder and become part of the nobility of Europe and put a halt to the changes he had to put in place to maintain his legitimacy as a "son of the Revolution".
  • Kim Campbell, Canada’s first female prime minister, is often prominently emphasized in educational materials in Canada that deal with the prime ministership, as well as the history of Canadian women. The current official tour of the temporary House of Commons usually features a stop at her (prominently displayed) portrait. Trouble is, she was never elected to the position, and merely inherited the job for a few months before leading her party to the largest landslide defeat in Canadian history.
  • Iconic suffragette Susan B. Anthony has, in recent years, been co-opted by the pro-life movement for allegedly being against abortion, even though she took no active part in protecting unborn fetuses. The pro-lifers referred to several documented statements against abortion claimed to have been said by Anthony, but there have been debates over whether or not she actually said them, or even if she was against abortion at all. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was against abortion, and her organization only starting performing abortions several years after her death, but the pro-life movement tends to ignore that and vilifies her as "the godmother of abortion."note 

  • Certain legendary historical figures are reduced to "mascots" of their era, and often used to hock products or services they have absolutely nothing to do with include John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin.note  At its worst, this phenomenon will result in Unintentional Period Piece if the celebrity featured is clearly a product of his/her time and will be forgotten by everyone in about a decade or so.
  • This sometimes happens to entire civilizations. People know Angkor Wat as a ruined temple in the jungles of Cambodia (to the point it's on the flag) and at least recognize Bayon; that they were built in the biggest city in the world (by area) at the time, which was the capital of the Khmer empire that spanned half of southeast Asia, gets forgotten unless it's in connection with those monuments. Similarly, a lot more people recognize the Taj Mahal than can tell you what a "Mughal" is.
  • You also see this in the case of culture where whole periods of literature, painting, architecture and landscape are reduced to a few names and individuals who end up being way more overexposed.
    • In the case of India, China, Japan and other nations, tourist industries and advertising promotes and identifies a particular group of monuments (Taj Mahal, Great Wall, Sensoji Temple) over others despite each nation having real diversity and several different buildings and places that are quite diverse from each other.
  • Leonardo da Vinci is often promoted as the ultimate embodiment of The Renaissance based on the fact that he painted two of the most iconic paintings (Mona Lisa, The Last Supper) as well as his notebooks. In actual fact, he was Brilliant, but Lazy, forever procrastinating his commissions and only left few complete paintings at the time of his death, his so-called "inventions" and designs while certainly striking and ahead-of-its-time, were absolutely unworkable and certainly never had any influence when these inventions eventually went into production. As for Renaissance Man Michelangelo Buonarroti was equally multi-talented (a poet, a sculptor, a painter) but he was more prolific in his different fields and more importantly completed his commissions as did the other artists of his generation (Giotto, Massacio, Ghirlandio, Tiziano, Donatello, Bramante) yet Leonardo is the Spotlight-Stealing Squad for 300 years of Italian cultural greatness.
  • Gustav Eiffel was primarily a structural engineer yet he supplied his name to the Eiffel Tower, even if the iconic design of the monument was the work of two employees for his firm, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, who let's face it you just heard about them on this page. Eiffel is also associated with the Statue of Liberty, even if the designer of the statue was the sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi. Eiffel is a genius and innovator in his field of course, but the people who created the look of his famous works end up being overshadowed by him.
  • This can happen with YouTube's "related videos" service. Most times the "recommended for you" video will be something you watched ages ago and don't care to revisit. This can be rather annoying if you watched one Nostalgia Critic video out of curiosity and the site keeps trying to get you to watch it again even though you don't have any interest in his videos whatsoever. It can also base recommendations off of a video that you clicked by accident a while ago, or repeatedly recommend the same shipping video for months at a time because you watched a few non-shipping videos related to the fandom. Or, more annoyingly, you watch a political video that's anti-X, and suddenly your "related videos" feed includes mostly pro-X videos, because the pro-X video producers use similar tags and get more views. This might be less of a problem now that YouTube has installed a "not interested" button in a dropdown menu for each item. Clicking it immediately hides the item from view and, no doubt, will tweak the site's algorithms to avoid it & others like it in the future.
  • The Manhattan Project owes its existence to this: when Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner escaped to the US to flee from Nazi Germany, they knew that atomic bombs were on the cusp of being invented, and Germany had a good chance of being the ones to do so. They wrote a letter advising the US President (Franklin D. Roosevelt) of the danger and that the US should start their own atomic bomb project so as not to fall behind. Of course, getting a letter to the US President during a time of war is very difficult, so they had Albert Einstein sign the letter, since his name was big enough to get the White House's attention. It worked, and the seeds for the Manhatten Project were planted.

Alternative Title(s): Mascot Abuse, Cash Cow Publicity


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