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- Assassin's Creed features a rare example of this happening to the main character, Desmond Miles. He is only used as Audience Surrogate and the modern day story of the games is ignored in favor of the historical portion. At the end of Assassin's Creed III, he is tricked into doing a Heroic Sacrifice, which means that everything he did was for nothing.
- The first game suffers from this in two ways. First, the game treats all party members as expendable, and thus doesn't feel the need to flesh any of them out very much, leaving characters having to endear themselves to the player through sheer force of personality (like Minsc and Xan) despite some promising character ideas (like Kivan.) Second, many characters are only encountered well into the game, when the player will have already gathered a dedicated party and won't have room to recruit them. Hell, a few characters are only encountered when the titular Baldur's gate becomes accessible in Chapter 5 (out of 7.)
- Imoen is introduced as the player's plucky childhood friend/half-sister, she was added in at the last second when playtesting revealed the beginning of the game to be too difficult to go alone without recruiting two nearby evil-aligned characters, and thus she doesn't even get the minimal amount of inter-party banter that the first game had. Fortunately, the sequels more than made up for her lack of presence in the first game.
- Many recruitable characters from the first game are flat-out killed with little fanfare in the second game (like Ajantis, Xzar, Montaron and Safana,) ruining any chance at developing them altogether, and fan-favorite Xan is relegated to the tutorial section where he doesn't even get to show off his character quirks. Fortunately, there are mods that fix this.
Call of Duty
- Call of Duty 3 despite having a large cast of characters from the four playable factions, doesn't really do much with them. The main focus is clearly on Nichols and his squad, with Guzzo in particular having an arc of going from being a self-centered jerkass to taking up the role of squad leader when he's needed most. The most notable case of a "botched" arc would be with Private Leslie Baron from the Canadian campaign. As the squad's radio operator he attempts to stay out of combat as much as possible which results in Robiechauld essentially bullying him throughout his few appearances and accusing him of being a coward. When he finally attempts to stand up for himself he is quite harshly dismissed before being sent to aid the Polish characters on Hill 262. In the following battle he does not retreat from a position being torn apart by enemy fire, shouting "I'm not a coward, I won't run away!" before being gunned down. The Polish characters dismiss him as an idiot, not knowing his story and we never see a reaction or anything from the rest of the Canadian cast later on when they arrive to help.
- Jason Hudson was one of the few characters in Black Ops II who's fate couldn't be changed by player-choice. Given that he was the previous game's second playable protagonist this left some fans unsatisfied with his much smaller and life-ending role here.
- Ramirez, Dunn and Foley are never heard from again after the events of Modern Warfare 2. Instead the third game's American perspective comes from Frost and his team. This is especially strange as there are many levels where US Army Rangers appear as friendlies during combat where they could've easily appeared as cameos.
- The Ultimis incarnation of Takeo Masaki from the Black Ops Zombies storyline was the first of his group to regain his memories. Several character quotes suggest he was planning on trying to stop Richtofen before he enacted his masterplan. Despite this he not only never stops him, but he is forced to become a jail-cell buddy with Richtofen following the events of Moon. This is double-strange given that his last words in Moon were him angrily vowing to avenge the Earth and kill the remnants of Group 935.
- Hammer from the Castlevania Sorrow games, big time. As a former military member who provides a lot of the games' humor, he sure doesn't get a lot of attention, made worse by the fact that he was Dummied Out of Dawn of Sorrow from the extra Julius Mode as well as not appearing in Harmony of Despair when voice clips indicated that he was planned. Worse still, according to this interview, Koji "IGA" Igarashi also likes the character.
- Word of God is that their aim with Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was to create a game where the entire cast is a fully fleshed out character and has some impact on the plot. Danganronpa is also a murder mystery game in which those same characters are being pushed towards the Despair Event Horizon by a sadistically evil mascot and pressured to kill each other to escape.
- One of the biggest examples in the first game is Kiyotaka, who, after the death of Mondo, suffers a Heroic BSoD and only manages to snap out of it by going completely insane and Hot-Blooded to the Nth degree. He's then then killed soon after, before anything can be done with this.
- Leon Kuwata, the first ever person to be executed within the franchise received this treatment as the two people who died before him (aka Mukuro and Sayaka) ended up getting a lot of emphasis. Possibly because of that, he's featured prominently in the "Ultra Despair Hagakure" story that comes with Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.
- Some of the readers believe that Celeste's motive made her too one-dimensional, while others believe that was precisely the point - the motive of the chapter was simple cash and some people in real life do murder simply for that. Other still point out that either reading is Completely Missing the Point of Celeste as lying liar who lies, meaning everything about her from her allegedly shallow motive all the way to the name "Celestia Ludenburg" is not supposed to be taken at face value, with the game providing several hints that there is more to her than she wants others to see. The manga capitalizes on this by explaining how her motivation came to be and slightly made her into a Jerkass Woobie instead. Unfortunately, the canonity of the manga isn't clear, although the official AU "School Mode" seems to run with this characterization through a Defrosting Ice Queen arc, and the canonical Another Episode: Ultimate Despair Girls also makes a point of showing how lonely her life outside of Hope's Peak Academy was.
- Hiyoko in Super Danganronpa 2 as right before she died, she attempted to change but Mikan killed her before having any Character Development. Her attempts to change came across as too little too late because of that.
- The third game has Kaede Akamatsu, the initial protagonist, a colorful character who's a breath of fresh air for the series, as a playable character who contrasts with the previous protagonists, particularly how she leads the students in an attempt to escape or otherwise end the killing game(and to a lesser degree, being the first female protagonist outside of the Gaiden Game Ultra Despair Girls). Said character dies in the first chapter, and is replaced by Shuichi Saihara, a less interesting and confident character who is in many ways similar to other protagonists.
- Also, from the third game, Rantaro Amami ended up being the first person to die but that person was extremely Out of Focus before dying in comparison to the other first victims. It is quite telling that the player learns a lot more about Rantaro in the bonus mode contents that includes his freetime events with Shuichi than in the actual canon game.
- Daveth has been seen as this because of his likability, humour, and, despite him being presented as a rather sketchy figure, his bravery and intelligence.
- Jowan. Many players wished he was added to the party (some even before playing the Mage-Origin), because of his likable personality, his status as the Atoner, and to round out the mages in the party. This was planned early in development, but later given up on.
- Ser Cauthrien has also been seen as this, since despite a grand total of 3 times throughout the game she appears, she has made an impression because of her fierce loyalty to Teyrn Loghain yet still retaining a sense of honor and justice, and towards the end she can be made to admit that Loghain is no longer the hero he was and asks the player to stop him.
- To varying degrees, many of the Origin-specific-characters are seen this way:
- Ser Gilmore from the Human Noble-origin has a number of fans because of his likability, loyalty, and humour; and there is more than one mod which adds him as a permanent companion.
- Gorim from the Dwarf Noble-Origin is also very well liked, and many players find themselves disappointed when they encounter him in Denerim and can't recruit him.
- Merril from the Dalish Elf-Origin had this originally, so much so that her character was expanded upon in the sequel, to however somewhat debatable success.
- Final Fantasy VI has a lot of these, due to the cast of 14 playable characters. Everyone but Terra, Celes, Locke, Edgar, Sabin, Kefka, and arguably Cyan fall victim to this.
- Seigfried has all the makings of an interesting recurring villain or subplot, but the character and his apparent doppelganger are extremely underused. Apparently, his impostor was going to tie into a (cut) subplot involving Gogo, who, well, is him/herself a victim of this trope.
- Final Fantasy VII:
- Yuffie could be considered this by some. She is the princess of a nation that was invaded and defeated by Shinra. This same nation is again hit by Geostigma, essentially The Black Plague of the VII universe and yet little is said about how it's handling this. It is said that this country was once great and mysterious, and yet Square decided to expand on Cloud's story and make a side-game centered around Vincent Valentine rather than explore a country with its own history and culture that is vastly different from the one already shown in series. Given what history has already given us, Square could've used some real world examples and made a story centered around politics and Yuffie's history growing up in a vastly different setting then Cloud and the rest of the cast.
- The developer explanation for Dirge of Cerberus's focus on Vincent was that he was the party's gunner, allowing them to make a third-person shooter game. This naturally made some people in the fandom comment that there's two gunners in Final Fantasy VII, and that it was a waste that they assumed you'd want to play a shooter as an over-serious and shallow Goth Bishounen when you could be playing as Barret, a funny badass Hot-Blooded eco-terrorist with a gun attached to his arm? Barret also suffered the indignity into being pushed into a small cameo in Advent Children, with even his daughter and Not Love Interest Marlene associated with Tifa instead of with him.
- Selphie and Irvine from Final Fantasy VIII. Aside from Rinoa, they are the only two not from Balamb Garden. Selphie's Garden, Trabia, is the victim of an attack by the Galbadian Army, and a lot of focus could have been given to that. Irvine, a Galbadian himself, basically just has the purpose of revealing the Laser-Guided Amnesia everyone has before shifting to the background.
- Freya from Final Fantasy IX. She has a focus during the Burmecia and Cleyra plotlines, but after that she becomes almost completely irrelevant to the storyline, with her plot around Sir Fratley being left unresolved. Quina, Amarant, Eiko, and to a lesser extent Mikoto and Lani fall victim to this as well.
- Kimahri from Final Fantasy X. He has little relevance in the story despite being an exile from his people and knowing Yuna the longest out of the rest of the cast.
- Final Fantasy XII:
- Fran, the only nonhuman character in the cast and by far the oldest, is a victim of this. Little of her backstory is ever uncovered and she contributes almost nothing to the story. She barely even interacts with anyone besides Balthier and occasionally Vaan.
- Speaking of Vaan, he's an even more prominent example of this. He's undeniably the main character of the story up until Ashe joins the party, the game focusing on him and his actions being wholly responsible for bringing the party together in the first place, but as soon as the full party is assembled he is immediately Demoted to Extra. There was plenty they could have done with him after this point, even if they wanted to focus on Ashe, but they settle for having him do little more than sit on the sidelines during cutscenes and occasionally get some lines, or having him be involved in a Funny Background Event while the other characters talk about more plot-important stuff. There's a plot point about him being a Morality Pet to Ashe, but it is underdeveloped and barely touched upon, when the relationship between the two could have gotten so much more attention and focus, and would have allowed Vaan to stay relevant to the story even if he's not the "main character" anymore. Vaan also could have gotten more interaction with Balthier and Basch, whom he generally stops talking to once he's been Demoted to Extra. A sequel where Vaan is truly the main character this time was made, but it was considered too little too late.
- Penelo is in much the same boat as Vaan. She's fairly prominent early on, being a friend and possible love interest for Vaan, her kidnapping sends the party to Bhujerba where they meet Larsa and rescue Ashe, and her befriending of Larsa makes him realize the Empire and especially his brother Vayne aren't as great as he thinks they are and motivates him to help Ashe and the party. Once she's reunited with Vaan though, she does practically nothing for the rest of the game and barely interacts with anyone besides Vaan and Larsa during his brief time as a Guest-Star Party Member. Supposedly, Penelo had a much bigger role during the planning stages, with one of the writers even citing her as his favorite character during this time, but for whatever reason, it was all axed in favor of making her little more than a Tagalong Kid. She does get more attention in the aforementioned sequel, but again, too little too late.
- Final Fantasy Tactics is a particularly glaring offender. Because any party member can die permanently in combat, the designers didn't bother to write any further material for characters once they join the party permanently. It gets to the point where it's almost disappointing to get a new party member, because it means that the character in question has been reduced to a block of combat statistics and will never do anything interesting in-story again. This is especially galling with characters like Agrias and Mustadio, who join early in the game and would likely have gotten a lot of development in any other RPG, or who like Meliadoul (whose father is the Big Bad for much of the game) still have an obvious connection to events in the main plotline. The only exception is in a battle soon after you get Agrias that will initiate a unique conversation between her, Ramza, and Gafgarion, but she only gets a single line of it. Additionally there are very few times where the optional characters contribute anything to the game after joining. Mustadio is needed to recruit Worker 8, Cloud, and to get Reis' human form. In the PSP version, you need Mustadio and Agrias to get a super-powerful accessory. The PSP version also adds an optional sidequest for Beowulf and Reis. This is a complete list, leaving the other characters pointless for anything besides combat after joining the party.
- Many Fire Emblem characters suffer from this for much the same reason as Final Fantasy Tactics mentioned above, but they (usually) get Support Conversations to make up for it.
- When Fire Emblem Gaiden was remade as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, all of the generic characters who were little better than Player Mooks were given vastly more fleshed out personalities and backstories. However, Deen sticks out due to having no backstory and little personality beyond being a Jerkass Aloner. A character profile for Deen in an artbook released after the game reveals his backstory. * Why this was excluded from the actual game and not explored at all is baffling.
- Renault in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. He has one of the most deep and complex backstories in the entire series... but he joins right before the final chapter, meaning it'll take about 10 playthroughs for you to actually realise this.
- In the same game, Florina and Sain do interact once or twice throughout the game note but generally not for anything more than a gag. What's particularly wasteful about it is that you have a perfect relationship to base Support Conversations on (where the meat of the game's characterisations occur with non-Lord units), and yet it doesn't ever happen.
- Stefan in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the source of nearly all the information on the Branded, itself a wasted plot, and displays some serious hints of a Dark and Troubled Past. He is also heavily implied to be a direct descendant of one of the three Precursor Heroes. Everything about him indicates that he should be one of the most important characters in both games, not the most obscure unit in the franchise.
- The Dawn Brigade fall into this only a few chapters into Part 1 of Radiant Dawn. They're reduced to Flat Characters because Support conversations were oversimplified into battle chatter, and literally have no dialogue in the main story. Nolan got the worst of it because he was their actual leader while they were freedom fighters, and is said to be a Genius Bruiser that likes to study and read.
- Shura from Fire Emblem Fates is very interesting, with an extensive backstory that ties into both Hoshido and Nohr by way of being the one to kidnap Azura when she was younger. Unfortunately, very little of this has any relevance outside of his recruitment chapters, and he can only support with Corrin, instead of some characters the player might expect him to. He doesn't even get any DLC conversations, like some of the other characters with few support options, to make up for it.
- Speaking of Fates, in both Fates and Awakening, this trope can arguably apply to any of the Avatarsexual charactersnote . While their existence is more justified in Fates than in Awakening, since in Fates, children are linked to the father (the only exceptions being a Female Avatar and Azura), meaning that if the player marries one of the non-Avatarsexuals, and one of the non-Avatarsexual male characters ends up without someone to pair up with, then the child they would have is permanently missable. While Anna can at least be justified as Downloadable Content (as well as the fact that the Avatar would be the one she talks the most to), one very notable example is Scarlet, who's shown having Ship Tease with Ryoma, yet not only is she an Avatarsexual, she's only available on Birthright and Revelation, and in the case of the latter, the game dropped a bridge on her two chapters after she joins you.
- Reina and Yukimura are also two pretty bad examples of this. Reina is one of Mikoto's retainers, so, logically speaking, that would mean she works alongside Orochi and knows Kagero (since Kagero used to work for Mikoto as well), as well as having close ties to the Hoshidan siblings. But, nope, she only supports with the Avatar; while her supports with them show a decent amount of her backstory, all of those potentially-interesting relationships go to waste. Meanwhile, Yukimura is also important to the Hoshidan court, being one of its main strategists, effectively being its leader while Ryoma is away in Birthright and Revelation, and being the one to plan out Azura's kidnapping. He can't support with any of the Hoshidan royals or Shura, and he only joins the team in Birthright.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a rare villainous example in Kronya. She received a decent amount of marketing pre-release, even getting an Early-Bird Cameo in Fire Emblem Heroes. And she first reveals herself as a villain in-game by killing Jeralt. Surely that would set her up as a major recurring nemesis, right? Well, actually... she's fought and killed in the very next chapter, and ends up having little to do with the overall story.
Five Nights at Freddy's
- Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location: Ballora is one of the few animatronics in the franchise to have a humanoid appearance, and the first to look like an adult. She's a ballerina animatronic programmed to teach kids how to get fit, as well as distracting the parents while their children get killed/abducted. She also has the unique game mechanic of being blind, so you have to move slowly through her gallery. Her voice lines on Night 2 are a song about how lonely she is without anyone to perform for, and, according to Baby was against the plan to scoop you, not because she didn't want to hurt you, but because she was "afraid." Despite this, she became part of Ennard anyways. Despite all this characterization, as well as having a voice actress, the only time you directly encounter her after Night 2 is on Night 4, when Baby forces you to watch Ballora get scooped, leaving her out of commission until Ennard is formed.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn:
- Himi, introduced maybe an hour before the end of the game. There are nameless NPCs with more screen time than she gets.
- Likewise, Eoleo doesn't get any screen time after joining the party, despite being an Ascended Extra with a background and career perfectly suited to Golden Sun's traditional Grey and Gray Morality theme.
Grand Theft Auto
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Ryder is one of the major characters who is a member of the Grove Street Families gang and one of CJ's friends from childhood with the charisma and attitude to be well liked by many fans of the game in spite of his jerkassness. When he is revealed to be a traitor along with Big Smoke, CJ shows genuine shock of Smoke betraying him and never once mentions Ryder's name, even when he tells Sweet. In the mission "Pier 69", CJ kills Ryder without much of a dramatic scene between the two and only mentions him once after his betrayal. Since then, Ryder is never brought up again, and Sweet never even asks about Ryder's whereabouts by the time he is released from prison. It made Ryder seem more like a minor character who suddenly became less important half way through the game and his death scene isn't any more different from Kane's death earlier in a Los Santos mission. It also doesn't help that he has the least amount of backstory of the main cast.
- Halo 5: Guardians:
- Jul 'Mdama, an Elite antagonist built up throughout Halo 4's Spartan Ops, the Kilo-Five trilogy, and Halo: Escalation as a dead-serious tactician who is almost always one step ahead, gets stabbed in the neck by Locke and killed with pretty much no fanfare at the end of the first mission of the game.
- The ad campaign boasted that players would be able to play as the legendary Blue Team in the co-op campaign, except the Master Chief and Blue Team are only featured in a paltry three missions and barely given any focus, with the majority of the game focusing on Locke and Fireteam Osiris.
- The ad campaign and HUNT the TRUTH both imply that ONI would be one of the primary villains and that John would rebel against them, forcing Locke to hunt him down. Instead the role goes to Cortana, which some have accused of undermining her sacrifice in Halo 4.
- Many members of the Organization XIII in Kingdom Hearts are unceremoniously killed in Chain of Memories or II without doing much in the plot. Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days was supposed to be a game around them, yet the focus is mostly on Axel, Roxas, Xion and a bit Saix. Prime examples include Demyx, a nice guy who controls water, and Luxord (Ironically, Nomura's favorite member), who can control time and is surprisingly friendly with Roxas but only appears twice in II. Even their original identities and backstories before they became nobodies are (so far) unknown.
- Kairi, full stop. Prior to Kingdom Hearts III, it's constantly hinted that Kairi will learn how to wield a Keyblade and join Sora and co. in the second Keyblade War to fight against Xehanort and his new Organization XIII. Sadly, her training with Lea (Axel's original person) happens mostly offscreen with the most we see being the two conversing with each other, and when the war does finally happen, not only does she get kidnapped yet again, but she ends up killed by Xehanort as a means to motivate Sora into forging the χ-blade and forcing him to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save her. She was built up to be a valuable ally; instead, she was little more than a living plot device.
Knights of the Old Republic
- Trask Ulgo in Knights of the Old Republic is killed off before the end of the tutorial level, and given no character arc, but you get an intriguing hint from a Hutt in-game talking about the "Ulgo" noble family of Alderaan, bitter rivals to House Organa. No confirmation Trask was related at the time, but get to the MMO sequel and you find out that, yes, he was high-ranking Alderaanian nobility in a house whose hat was warfare and military service, and Trask was one of their best.
- Darth Nihilus in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a mysterious Humanoid Abomination who communicates exclusively in the untranslated language used by Atris' Sith Holocrons, can destroy planets using the power of the Force and was featured very prominently on the cover of the game. Judging from cut content he is also substantially more powerful than undead Implacable Man Darth Sion. However, when you confront him he's easily beaten and turns out to have been a pawn of Kreia/Darth Traya all along and he isn't even named in the game. He gives the impression of being Too Powerful to Live more than anything. The real problem with Nihilus was more tied to the cut content of the game and because much of his character is fleshed out through two characters it is entirely possible to kill instead of conversing with. He isn't really that easy to kill either - again, the player has to interrogate characters and read between the lines to see that the Jedi Exile was the only one Nihilus couldn't devour.
The Legend of Zelda
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
- The Champions have interesting personalities and designs that could easily bounce off one-another and Link, but they're all dead by the time Link wakes up, leaving most of their scenes to the Memories, and thus they end up underdeveloped. A lot of people see this as a huge waste of potential, as the Champions could have added to the story in a much more direct way, allowing for fleshing out what is a fairly sparse story by Zelda standards.
- While it's understandable that Ganon would be too far gone from humanity to be any more than a Generic Doomsday Villain, his backstory is just barely acknowledged, something that would have made its place in the timeline much easier. It's mentioned that he's a continuously reincarnating Ancient Evil, but it's left ambiguous whether he's the same as the one originating from Ocarina of Time, the one originating from Four Swords Adventures, or a new Ganon(dorf) entirely (though it's unlikely the one from Ocarina of Time, since he died in both Wind Waker (in the Adult Timeline) and Twilight Princess (in the Child Timeline). Not to mention Urbosa mentions that Ganon used to be a Gerudo and she intends to get revenge for the stain his heritage left on her people, but no other Gerudo in the game acknowledges that he used to be one of them.
- The characters that help you board the Divine Beasts: Sidon, Riju, Yunobo and Teba. The main storyline seems to be building them up to be super important aside from the fact they just help you get on board. But after you seize the Divine Beasts, they are just brushed to the side and are never brought back again.
- Epona. The game provides horses based on those of Ganondorf and Zelda, and both provide quests and a bit of lore behind either of them. But due to being an amiibo-locked extra, Epona doesn't get a special quest nor any lore beyond being a "legendary" horse.
- In a gameplay example, unique mounts like Bears, the Lord of the Mountain, or Stalhorses cannot be registered at the stable. Stalhorses have it particularly bad as they die once daytime hits.
- Nihlus in Mass Effect falls victim to Dropped a Bridge on Him five minutes into the game.
- Miranda Lawson's demotion to extra in Mass Effect 3, despite being one of the main characters in the second game. Many fans lamented that since she was now on Cerberus' hitlist and wanted to track down her kidnapped sister, why on Earth would she turn down the chance to rejoin the Normandy, since with Commander Shepard and the Shadow Broker on-board, this would only have helped her achieve her goals?
- Emily Wong gets unceremoniously killed off-screen in Mass Effect 3, seemingly to make way for Diana Allers to join the Normandy as the Alliance's official War Correspondent. Even her Dying Moment of Awesome by attempting to take down a Reaper by ramming it did little to mitigate the blow many fans felt, especially since the character of Diana Allers was included due to corporate whoring out to IGN.
- Kelly Chambers qualifies as enough of a love interest in 3 that she triggers a Paramour achievement, and Shepard gets a photo of her to display in his/her quarters. However, she lacks any presence at all in the Citadel DLC to expand upon this. Nor does Shepard think of her during the ending.
- Tela Vasir is one of only six Spectres seen in the entire series note , is a master manipulator, like Shepard she's working for an unscrupulous organisation for the greater good, and is easily one of the most powerful individuals Shepard has ever faced that isn't a Reaper creation, but she's limited to the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC and gets killed off in it. She did receive some attention in prequel comics.
- Despite being the Big Bad of the second game and leader of the Reapers, Harbinger only appeared briefly at the end of Mass Effect 3 with one line.
- Nyreen Kandros, who only appeared in the Omega DLC. The first female turian seen in the games, gay and with a history with Aria T'Loak, discriminated against by her own people because of her biotics, looking out for the civilians in a Wretched Hive, killed near the end of the DLC in a Heroic Sacrifice so Aria can go ballistic and get captured.
- Kiya the mummy from MediEvil 2, a resurrected Egyptian princess and Sir Dan's Love Interest. She has barely any lines, their romance feels forced at best, and her only role in the story is to die at the hands (or better, claws) of Jack The Ripper, in order to force Dan into a boss fight against said killer. Interestingly, the concept for the never made third chapter would have turned her into half of the Big Bad Duumvirate together with Dan's nemesis Zarok.
- Metroid: Other M introduces Anthony Higgs, Samus's best friend from when she was a trainee, first introduced in a trailer with the memetic line "Remember me?" Even those who don't like Other M's story as a whole often like Anthony, as he is a badass who is also respectful towards Samus and treats her like a good friend. For those who don't like the way Samus's old commander Adam is portrayed as controlling and overly authoritative, Anthony feels like a better version of the friendly old character from Samus's past.
- Metroid Prime: Hunters introduces six new characters. Each has a unique backstory giving them motivations in the plot, special weapons and alternate forms, and minor details that flesh out the universe. But in-game, they serve as nothing more than randomly generated minibosses. Though there is still hope that this trope with cease to be (at least with Sylux), as the creator of the Prime series has expressed interest in exploring more of the Metroid universe.
- For a boss-example, there's Draygon, who was introduced in Super Metroid. Draygon is essentially a prototype for the Other M incarnation of Mother Brain, using her own species instead of Metroids, and considering that the game had the Federation develop their own version of Ridley, Draygon could've been used as a One-Winged Angel form for Mother Brain, who is somewhat of an Anti-Climax Boss (some players defeat her on accident), but she hasn't reappeared at all since her debut in Super Metroid - considering that you could fight Phantoom as the True Final Boss of Other M, it's especially irritating that Draygon has pretty much been confined to Super Metroid.
- While the revitalization of the Mortal Kombat franchise that started with 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot and continued with 2015's Mortal Kombat X has been generally successful, these two games have acquired a certain infamy among longtime fans of the series for killing off several classic characters in the name of Anyone Can Die. While Popularity Power ensured the biggest names would and did return, several low-key fan favorites remain dead. Among them are:
- Shang Tsung, the very first Big Bad of the franchise. He appears in the 2011 reboot, in which his story plays out roughly the same as it did in the first and second games (hosts the tournament, gets beaten by Liu Kang, proposes the plan to invade Earthrealm to save his own skin) but is then abruptly cut short when Kahn randomly sacrifices him to Sindel to power her up. Aside from enabling Sindel to go on the killing spree which claims most of the other characters on this list, this move is regarded as a waste as Tsung has historically been a more interesting and compelling villain than Sindel. Despite this, he has not returned in X and all indications are that he is gone from the series for good.
- Motaro, the Centaurian warrior who serves as The Dragon of Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 3 and its spinoffs, is a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as his four-legged Centaurian form proved very difficult for Netherrealm Studios and their Midway predecessors to transition into the 3D era (leading to the notorious "plot twist" in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon where he was transformed into a biped). While 2011's reboot sees him make a return (and kill off Johnny Cage in a possible Bad Future), he is once again unplayable and is killed off midway through the game by Rayden. At this point one wishes Netherrealm would just hire a programmer that knows how to create a 4-legged playable character, since it's obvious no one currently on their payroll knows how to pull it off.
- Kurtis Stryker, originally of Mortal Kombat 3, is a particularly tragic case of potential wasted. Originally a rather infamous character, Netherrealm gave him an overhaul for their 2011 reboot which did something many Mortal Kombat fans didn't think was possible — it made Stryker cool. On top of his much-needed design overhaul, the reboot gave him a new Heterosexual Life-Partners relationship with fellow MK3 character Kabal, giving both characters motivation and making them seem like more natural additions to the Forces of Light. And then, after all that work put into him, he is unceremoniously killed off along with several other characters by Sindel in an Ax-Crazy rampage.
- As noted just above, another MK3 character that was much improved in the reboot was Kabal. Originally a character with a tumultuous and somewhat confusing backstory (he was an ex-Black Dragon member caught in a HeelFace Revolving Door), the 2011 reboot streamline him by making him a police officer in Stryker's unit who joined the force to atone for his criminal past. His mutilation, which was never explained originally, was shown onscreen this time around, and his hero cred was further boosted by having him be given an opportunity to rejoin the Black Dragon and rejecting it. Along with his new best friend Stryker, Kabal seemed on the track to a bright future indeed... until he became another casualty of Sindel's rampage.
- And to further cement the theme of "Netherrealm Studios hates every character from MK3", we have Nightwolf. Originally a very generic Magical Native American type (so much so that his old Midway design provides the trope's page image), the 2011 reboot introduced him as being among the Forces of Light kombatants who participated in the first tournament, solidifying his link to the rest of the team. While he generally retained his Magical Native American elements, these were downplayed in comparison to past appearances, with his new design cues being taken from the Assassin's Creed games instead. Like Stryker and Kabal above, he is thrown away in Sindel's rampage, though unlike them he gets a Dying Moment of Awesome by sacrificing himself to stop her.
- Sindel was spoken a lot, and she's also a case of this (and another MK3 character, surprise surprise). In the old timeline, she's actually one of the more noble characters in the entire series, able to break away from the brainwashing Shao Kahn gave to her thanks to Kitana and eventually resuming to become The High Queen and later on saving Kitana from being brainwashed by Onaga. This actually could have given her a good redemption arc after her brainwashing period in MK3. In the reboot, as stated so many times, Sindel was turned into a rampaging killing machine by Shao Kahn and killed by Nightwolf. The rampage itself could've been a very strong catalyst for her to restart her atonement arc in the new timeline. But nope, she, like the majority of other Revenants alongside her, were pretty much Demoted to Extra as 'extra revenant punching bag'. She fared a bit better than other Revenants that she had a few speaking lines, but Netherrealm Studios seemed to be uninterested in improving her redemption arc.
- One wasted character not from MK3 is Hotaru. The Order half of an Order Versus Chaos dichotomy introduced in 2005's Mortal Kombat: Deception, Hotaru was a Knight Templar whose striking character design was diluted by very generic fatalities and bad writing. While the same held true for his opposite number Havik, the latter was allowed to return in the DC Comics-published Mortal Kombat X comics and was made a fairly significant villain. Hotaru on the other hand has been almost completely forgotten, even though his home realm of Seido has made (admittedly minor) appearances in both of the Netherrealm games.
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin has two. First is Isabella, who is a fully playable CO in VS mode but is never used once in the campaign mode and has a very minor role on the story, only existing to be Will's love interest and to drop a bit of exposition. The second is The Beast, who is the primary antagonist for about half the game AND has his own unique battle theme, design, etc, but is completely unplayable. Pretty much everyone would have rather seen The Beast selectable in VS mode instead of Isabella.
No More Heroes
- No More Heroes:
- No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle seems to do this deliberately with Henry to tease the fans. After the revelation that Henry will be a playable character, the player soon finds out that he's actually only playable for one single boss fight (that's a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere), and outside of that only makes an appearance in a few scenes, where he takes out three of the ranked assassins off-screen before calling Travis and showing brief glimpses of fights that could've been.
- The ranked assassins, in both games. Nearby every ranked fight is memorable in some way, and a few of the assassins could even potentially carry more of the game (like Kimmy Howell or Bad Girl,) but other than Shinobu, and Letz Shake and Destroyman getting rematches in the second game, none of them ever appear outside of their boss fights.
- There's also Final Boss Dark Star, a Darth Vader Clone voiced by Steve Blum with a lightsaber dragon, who trolls Travis by claiming to be his father. The player doesn't even get to fight him, as he's killed by Jeane just before the actual final boss fight against her.
- The Shadow Triad from Pokémon Black and White are introduced as the most loyal servants of Team Plasma's boss. They have cool teleporting powers unlike anything seen in a Pokémon villain before. They are introduced really late into the game, are never fought and their only purpose seems to be passing down messages and items from their boss. In other words, any regular grunt could have filled in their role without any effort whatsoever. Fortunately, they had an expended role in the sequels.
- Anthea and Concordia, N's foster sisters from the same game. They simply exist to give exposition about N and heal your Pokémon, despite being family to N and Ghetsis. The anime thankfully expands on their relationship with N and shows their stance on humans and their relationship with Pokémon.
- Pokémon X and Y has Malva and Tienro. The first is a Holo Caster news reporter and Elite Four member who turns out to be in league with the game's villainous Team. This has amazing potential, but it's only explored in one postgame sidequest. Notably, the anime's incarnation of Malva is convinced by Ash's hopes and ideals, deciding to pull a HeelFace Turn to help him and Alain battle against Lysandre to determine the fate of the world, which was better-received by fans. Meanwhile, Tierno, who could have easily battled with a whole team based around "dance" moves, is only fought twice and his other battle appearances are restricted to the Battle Maison (where he can only use 2 Pokémon). Some also feel this way about AZ, who does have a well-developed backstory but is introduced a little too late in the plot to make a meaningful impact, and Professor Sycamore, who has a history with Lysandre that isn't really expanded on, also appears to be close to the Kalos region's Champion (Diantha is notably the only character to refer to him as Augustine), and is only battled twice despite being the first battleable Professor in the series.
- The entirety of Team Galactic. They were great in concept, but feel very underdeveloped, even in Platinum. The grunts all have the same basic personality, the commanders aren't explored, even Cyrus himself feels, to quote the man, "incomplete." They're a bit better in Platinum, but barely.
- Most Gym Leaders (bar Unova's, where their careers outside the Gym are incorporated) and almost all Elite Four have little focus outside of their roles as obstacles. The Elite Four are especially bad, as they're supposed to be masters of their types and among the best of the Region, but get almost no focus outside their jobs or leave their stations. Pokémon Sun and Moon does a better job with its equivalent Trial Captains and Island Kahunas, all of whom are encountered multiple times throughout the game (some in plot-important contexts, some as part of version-specific sidequests). In fact, three of the kahunas are rounded up by Professor Kukui to become Alola's first incarnation of the Elite Four. Unfortunately, the fourth member, Kahili, falls right into this trope, never being seen until that point in the game. She's only mentioned in passing as the daughter of the Hano Grand Resort's owner and a former island challenge champion.
- Even specific Pokémon can fall into this trope. Genesect is supposedly a genetically-modified cyborg created by Team Plasma, and the project was canceled because it disgusted N. Yet, despite its huge relationship to the villainous team, it gets exactly zero references in the main game due to being an event-only Mythical Pokémon.
Project X Zone
- Kogoro and Mii were main characters exclusive to Project X Zone, but they are nowhere found in the sequel. Even if they were to appear in the sequel, they were likely to be Demoted to Extra or become Previous Player-Character Cameos.
- The sequel introduces more NPCs who appear only once or twice, not counting the ending, but whose appearances make you wish they were playable. This includes Ada Wong, who many wanted to be a pair-unit with Leon, Tiki, who many agree should of been a Solo character, and Miles Edgeworth, who many say should of been a Rival unit or another Solo unit.
- This applies to Hayato as well, who was The Hero of the series he's from, but is one of the main antagonists here due to being Brainwashed and Crazy. Had it not been for that, he could have possibly formed a Pair Unit with June.
- Special mention goes to Barry Burton. He's quite popular outside of Japan and absolutely loved by Americans because his cheesy lines, overacting, love of huge guns, and his portrayal as a loving family man make him akin to an action star from the 80's, but has vanished completely into the pit of Plot Holes along with a lot of other characters. He finally got his due, a mere 19 years later, where he got to roll up to the party, unleash the Ham, Cheese, and Papa Wolf, and be utterly glorious.
- Adam from the first Shining Force is the token robot in a mostly fantasy setting. He is introduced alongside Chaos, who was his ally until Darksol reprogrammed him. The main problem with Adam: he's dangerously underleveled for how late in the game he joins (within the last seven battles). Even with a Power Ring, he's lucky to even scratch the softer enemies for more than one hit point of damage, and God forbid the enemy AI ever targets him in his currently fragile state. While he can be one of the best tanks with enough training, even people who like him find him to be a waste of time to bother training.
Sonic the Hedgehog
- Sonic Generations includes relatively few of the Classic characters: Sonic, Metal Sonic, Tails, and Eggman. It doesn't include Classic Knuckles or Amy, even though they were prominent characters before the Modern Art Shift.
- Almost every cast member after Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). After the massive outcry of the overabundance of characters, the games were made Lighter and Softer with only Sonic himself in mind, with Tails being the sole major NPC and the bare minimum of supporting characters, usually Knuckles and/or Amy, appearing otherwise. Characters that had relevant and engaging roles in previous games have been pushed to the side, with no mention of their past relationships at all. Even Tails doesn't get to do all that much, and the lack of gameplay variation that results from only Sonic being playable has been noticed, with many fans clamoring for another game where Sonic's friends are playable (ironically, considering what started this trend in the first place!).
- The Deadly Six from Sonic Lost World are huge examples of this. They could've made very interesting and memorable villains, and while their character interaction is great despite their cliche personalities, everything else is wasted. We know next to nothing about them, why they became the Deadly Six, where they came from, why they were sealed away, why the conch controls them, or what a Zeti even is! Not to mention their fate is VERY anticlimactic and ambiguous. Most we get is some vague little snippets of their relationship to each other and that's about it.
- From the same game, there's Knuckles & Amy, who do absolutely nothing in the story.
Super Mario Bros.
- Princess Daisy. She's Peach's best friend, hinted as love interest of Luigi, and is at a sharp contrast to many of the other female characters yet she's destined to appear in more spinoffs. She even has an entire kingdom, Sarasaland, to explore and from what little we got to see of it in Super Mario Land it's a desert kingdom with Moai and Chinese architecture.
- Waluigi. A character with little information when it comes to his backstory and origins, a wide arrangement of strange powers and a surprisingly complex personality. He plays the role of Luigi's angry rival, Wario's partner in comedic mischief and the oddball of the cast, alongside being the klutzy and unlucky bad guy. Alongside Luigi, he is one of the few characters who underwent actual Character Development, going from an angry and narcissistic rival to Luigi who didn't appreciate the joy of the cast and tried very hard to be popular and liked to a loony and comedic jerk who frustrates himself with his repeated failures and tries to make everyone as miserable as he. Despite all of this, he has yet to receive his own game or even an appearance in a main game of the series. Despite being Wario's sidekick in the sports games, he doesn't appear in the Wario Land or WarioWare games either.
- Bowser in Paper Mario: Sticker Star. After being a hilarious villain in Paper Mario 64, starring his own playable sections in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and being one of the four protagonists in Super Paper Mario, he's virtually Demoted to Extra, appearing just in three scenes (one of them, admittedly, is the final battle, but still) and having a whooping amount of 0 lines in the entire game. It's especially painful since this is the series where Bowser has pretty much acquired his entire lovable yet evil personality, instead of the mindless brute he is still portrayed as in the platformers. In Color Splash he has dialogue again, but is still wasted, since he spends the majority of the game being possessed by the Black Paint and clearly has no idea what's going on when it's removed at the very end.
- Of the many characters subject to this in Paper Mario: Color Splash, the Koopalings as a whole are most brought up with this trope in mind. Unlike in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, the Koopalings don't interact with Mario at all aside from their respective stages and boss fights, whereas in Paper Jam they appeared throughout the game and some of them were even fought more than once. Not helping any matters is the severe case of Depending on the Writer, as some of the personalities in Color Splash are very different from the ones in Paper Jam (for example, Morton now speaks in a Hulk Speak manner, which he didn't in Paper Jam, and Roy is suddenly far more intelligent than he was in Paper Jam), which isn't helped by the aforementioned lack of screentime, either.
- In an inversion of this trope where the waste is certain characters not appearing when they would be expected to, a new restriction that popped up with the newer Paper Mario games is they had to be from the main "Super Mario world". Despite this great chance for underused or obscure Mario characters to play a rolenote , only generic Toads appear as recurring Non Player Characters. This wouldn't be so jarring, except other level archetypes usually associated with other characters or species also only have Toadsnote . Meanwhile, the bestiary mainly uses enemies or bosses introduced from New Super Mario Bros. 1 and backwards (with the exception of Scaredy Rats and Dry Goombas), when Super Mario Galaxy had been out for 2-3 years by the time Sticker Star started development. For a straighter example of this phenomenon, Yoshis, which are usually portrayed as intelligent beings equal to Toads in other Mario games including the first Paper Mario, only cameo as a sphinx in Sticker Star, and are restricted to two stages in Color Splash.
- Cheria in Tales of Graces had so much potential! She appears to be just the Token Love Interest character for Asbel, but her first appearance in the main arc makes it clear that she's supposed to be a deconstruction of that. Tired of Asbel never contacting her over the years since childhood, and knowing that her feelings will never be requited by him, she chose to move on and become her own type of person. This deconstruction doesn't go anywhere as her role diminishes and she's mostly just tagging along after one scene of telling Asbel off. Bandai Namco Entertainment does seem to have realized this, as Cheria becomes more developed in Tales of Graces f. Still not nearly as much as she should be though.
- Cheria was lucky compared to many of Tales of Destiny 2 characters. Most of the story focuses so much on Kyle and Reala that there's only a handful scenes for other members, especially so for Loni Dunamis (Kyle's best bud) and Nanaly Fletch (Loni's would-be girlfriend) who, after joining, seemed to exist only to "tag along." At least Judas and Harold got things to do in the past arc, what with the first being Leon Magnus Back from the Dead, the other is a historical person. And once the past arc is done, it's back to Kyle-Reala getting most focus again, and they're just "tagging along."
- Yeager from Tales of Vesperia doesn't get a lot of light shed on his motives, despite being a main villain. What little we find out is pieced together through sidequests, and still leaves a lot unsaid.
- Noishe in Tales of Symphonia is Lloyd's dog-like companion that, by the end of the game, is revealed to be a Protozoan, the first living beings to exist on the planet, and which take many forms throughout their extremely long lifetimes. Of course, other than a handful of times in the beginning, he rarely appears in cutscenes, even though he's tagging along for the whole game, and is used mainly as a way to avoid random battles on the world map until you get the Rheiards. By the time you see the cutscene explaining his origins, you'll probably have forgotten that he even existed.
- Seles, Zelos's younger half-sister, is also an interesting character who doesn't get to do a lot, since she's confined to an Abbey off the coast of Meltokio because her mother killed Zelos' mother and was executed, while Seles was placed under house-arrest despite doing nothing wrong. Zelos greatly cares for his little sister despite this, and it would have been interesting to see her take on the events in their backstory, as well as the fact that her mother was a half-elf means Seles could have been a sympathiser for the plight of the half-elves in Tethe'alla, or fervently against them thanks to her mother's actions, but we only encounter her once in the game and then she's relegated to being a Bonus Boss in the Meltokio Coliseum.
- Tales of the Tempest: Prince Tilkis, fourth in line to the throne of Senishibia (an entire other continent you never get to visit) who, when his country was attacked by Spots, sailed across the ocean in a rowboat with only one bodyguard to figure out what the hell's going on. Sounds like he's pretty important, right? Wrong. He's the only character without an arc (save a little that was tacked on to Arria's and Forest's) and has very little involvement in the plot in general.
- Tales of Xillia 2: Alternate Milla, who originates from a fractured dimension in which she managed to successfully complete her mission years ago, all while working alongside Muzét, who ended up being blinded by an attack that she protected Milla from. It already gives potential to figuring out how this Milla won earlier and it could leave for interesting banter between her and the prime dimension's Muzét. Since she's also stuck in the prime dimension with no way of going home, it could be explored on how she feels about the removal of the shism and whether she could have chosen that route as well, compared to whatever she did in her own dimension. As it is, she only gets one skit worth of minor banter with Muzét and only offhandedly mentions how she hates how Elympios has such wide-spread Spyrix technology. The only purpose she ends up serving in the game, is to pointlessly die to bring the prime dimension's Milla into your party and leave a minor, quickly-forgotten tense atmosphere between prime Milla and Elle.
- Mettaton has a form you can only see in a No Mercy run, Mettaton NEO, that comes complete with its own theme tune. He still dies in a single hit, just like most of the other bosses in a No Mercy run. Even Toriel and Papyrus got memorable Player Punch death scenes.
- A lot of fans would have liked to see Muffet's character explored in more detail. More than a few fans have argued that her design and concept alone would have been enough to warrant a larger role in the story. Considering that she's a backer character, her lack of presence is justified, at least.
- Dr. W. D. Gaster. Everything about him (role, fate, relationship with Sans) sounds really fascinating, but you will only get to find about all of this by searching Dummied Out content, via a small random chance in any given playthrough, and in some cases you need to hack the game files to encounter what might possibly be him. Then again, this seems to be the whole point of his character and a possible Sequel Hook.
The Walking Dead
- A common complaint with Telltale's The Walking Dead due to the Anyone Can Die nature of the game.
- Every single character from the 400 Days DLC episode who isn't Bonnie or Tavia appears in Season Two... as a very brief cameo. And probably was Killed Offscreen when Carver's compound was overrun.
- Sarah and Nick are both killed off anticlimatically in Episode 4 - Amid The Ruins irrespective of the player's choices. Fans of the two argue that they were the most well-written and complex of any of Season Two's cast.
- How many players feel about Luke. Despite being built up as a major character throughout Season Two, he too gets bumped off in an anticlimactic way in Episode 5, and Jane entirely replaces his role in the story as Kenny's rival.
- By far the biggest example of this trope? Christa. Many argue that the potentially amazing story of a Pregnant Badass singlehandedly raising Clementine on her own for eighteen months in a Zombie Apocalypse spite of the deaths of her boyfriend and her unborn child is wastefully brushed aside over in favour of Clementine getting separated from Christa during a bandit attack and never seeing Christa ever again and moving on to a new group of survivors as soon as possible, a new group which also happens to contain a no-nonsense pregnant woman.
- Several characters from World of Warcraft. A prime example is Shandris Feathermoon, Tyrande's adopted daughter and leader of the Sentinels when Tyrande decided to focus on leading the priesthood of Elune. She has her own spy network, is one of the best archers in Azeroth (if not the best) and has thousands of years of experience. In Mists of Pandaria, these traits would make her a strong candidate for positon of leader of the Alliance's joint armies (since the faction leaders had their own duties). Despite this she is reduced to being a background character only showing up in a few quests and cameos in the expanded universe. Others include Kael'thas Sunstrider and Malygos (Blizzard even admitted they dropped the ball regarding Kael'thas). On the villains side there's Anub'arak, Tichondrius, and Mannoroth.
Other Video Games
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, one of the earliest followers you can gain is Jayna Stiles, a half-elf tech healer. Although half-elves have a natural affinity for magic, she uses technology because magic healers failed to save her parents during a plague. She lives in a dying kingdom that shuns technology and joins you so she can learn everything she can to make her kingdom a better place. Once she joins your party, the game treats her like an extra. She never has meaningful conversations with you and has no bearing on the subplots that involve her kingdom. She doesn't even get a voice actor.
- The Count of Groundsoaking Blood from Boktai is easily the most fascinating and well-developed of all the villains. He's the one who killed Django's father, the proxy reason Django himself gained his vampiric powers (as well as reawakens them in the third game), forms an Enemy Mine scenario with Django in the third game (Sort of, it's complicated), is the only immortal who can come back even after being roasted by the Piledriver (not even the series' Big Bads can accomplish this), and has a completely under developed romance with Queen Hel. Unfortunately he's the first level boss in every game he appears in, and thus always dies before the plot of the game even kicks off.
- Chrono Cross suffers from this. A good quarter of the playable cast is closely tied to the plot and has absolutely fantastic storytelling potential, including one that was originally intended to be a returning character from the previous game and another intended to be the son of two chracters from the same. Other characters have interesting and engaging introductions that could've gone somewhere. But, to cram in the thirty-odd other cast members — including one-note and frankly ridiculous designs like the talking dog or sentient turnip — any connections to the previous game were dropped and characterization abbreviated. The end result is that barely anyone receives any character development past their introductions or, if they're lucky, a brief sidequest to unlock their Level 7 Tech. Then, with the exception of the male and female protagonists, they effectively cease to exist.
- Dead to Rights has several characters die after appearing in just a few chapters (if they're lucky), but the clearest example of this trope is Patch, a suave assassin who is introduced in a cutscene getting the drop on Jack Slate, killing the villain he was chasing for most of the chapter, and framing Jack for his murder, leading to the prison level. Making the scene memorable is that he has a distinct design from the other villains (dyed hair, the eponymous eyepatch, and a gold Luger), speaks with a subtle accent (unlike some other characters), and treats his hits as if he were an artist, complete with discussing his hit on the phone as if negotiating an art commission. He does not get a single line for the rest of the game, and does not appear again until four chapters later, where he dies anticlimactically in a Car Chase boss fight.
- In Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, Zara is an interesting character with a vaguely defined backstory and an implied history with the heroine, has a cool design, and has the distinction of being Disney's first wicked princess. She only appears at the final boss fight, and is never mentioned before or after it.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising has Magnus, with a cool design and backstory, with a very fitting voice actor. He appears in a grand total of three chapters. There's also Poseidon, yes, that Poseidon, who only appears in one chapter and the end credits.
- Sarah from Lost Odyssey seems to be the one party member who has little to no character development in the game. Her purpose seems to be to look after the kids and give Kaim an opportunity to show his softer side. She's also the only immortal who doesn't have an entry in the 1000 Years Of Dreams.
- [PROTOTYPE] did this to its own main character, of all people, in its second opus. Alex Mercer was fairly popular with most fans of the first (though some people found him unlikeable); his look and backstory were fairly unique, he was recognized as badass, and he got character development, going from Villain Protagonist to on his way to become an Anti-Hero. [PROTOTYPE 2] undoes his character development, has him turning evil for unclear reasons and ending up killed by the new main character, with few character traits being carried from the end of Prototype to his behavior in 2. To put it worst, he has a reduced role even as a villain, and his rivalry with new protagonist James Heller isn't explored. Many believe it was because of this decision that caused the game to not sell as well and led to the near bankruptcy of Radical.
- Psychonauts develops even the random Non Player Characters with their own back stories and personalities, so you could say this for just about any of them. Dr. Loboto may be the best example, though—a Depraved Dentist, one of the funniest characters and set up as the Big Bad (or at least The Dragon to him), he turns out to be The Unfought.
- Carmelita becomes a fully playable Sixth Ranger of the Cooper Gang in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, something fans have been waiting for since the very beginning. The entire three missions you get to use her for are a spectacular letdown.
- Sniper Elite III: Brauer, the British prisoner rescued from Fort Rifugio. He's initially presented as a foil to the Cold Sniper Player Character Karl Fairburne, establishing a strong base for interaction and cooperation between the two for the rest of the game. However, half of his screen time focuses on his Fairburne-assisted escape from German custody, and he only gets two small parts in the two following missions before very suddenly getting blown up by a tank.
- Splatoon 2, despite having a surprising level of backstory and lore concerning its universe, initially suffered from underutilizing several characters badly. The new idols, Pearl and Marina, have no role in the game's story mode and thus lack much needed development. Cap'n Cuttlefish is straight-up not in the game. Callie not appearing following the Final Boss fight resulted in a months-long in-game hashtag campaign called #BringCallieBack. All of this does get addressed in later updates and the Octo Expansion campaign, but some things remained unanswered. The major one being that nobody knows what Mr. Grizz's deal is, with such information not even being found in supplementary material.
- Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: The Freedom Chronicles mission pack introduces three new characters fighting the Nazi occupation in different places across the US: Joseph Stallion, an American pro-football player fighting Nazis in Chicago and in space; Jessica Valiant, a British ex-OSS assassin tracking a Nazi collaborator across California from charming Tinsel Town to the scorching desert; and Captain Gerald Wilkins, a former US Army Captain dismantling a Nazi superweapon research operation in Alaska. Players were excited for a series of side stories exploring other heroes in different areas of the Nazi-occupied US and even the possibility of them meeting up with Blazko and co., until Episode Zero was released which revealed that the stories are in-universe Resistance propaganda pulp fiction, all three characters are fictional and the stories are non-canon.
- Fatal Frame V gives Miu Hinasaki interesting concepts, but they end up not being well executed. She's the daughter of Miku, the protagonist of the first game, and also a Shadowborn, meaning that she has a human mother and a ghost father. Her father is also heavily implied in-game, and confirmed in supplementary material, to be Miku's brother, Mafuyu. Her being a Shadowborn is only important in terms of explaining why Miku left her daughter years ago, but otherwise doesn't seem to have any effect on her. The only other aspect her plotline explains is the concept of the Yuukon — Ghost Marriage — which gets a much bigger focus in Ren's story. As it is, Miu is mostly there for some Continuity Porn for older fans.
- All the origins characters in Divinity: Original Sin II were well received, but some feel this trope happened with Beast. Every other origin character either has some kind of destiny to fulfill (Red Prince, Sebille), have a deep-seated revenge motivation against the games' big bads (Ifan), have a Demonic Possession (Lohse), or played a major role in the backstory (Fane). Beast's goal overall is pretty mundane, not helped by the fact that he essentially gets all his leads within the first couple hours of Act two - meaning that he'll spend a lot of time following the group around while the other characters are getting leads for their own quests. Unless you romance him, he undergoes very little Character Development. Part of the reason with Beast being Out of Focus is the fact that Justinia's the Villain of Another Story - the politics of the Dwarven Kingdom factor very little into the plot.
- Any playable character in Xenogears who isn't Fei, Citan, Elly, or Bart. Rico, Maria, Emerelda, Billy, and Chu-Chu are mostly giving commentary past their initial scenes. These characters include secret royalty, someone piloting a sentient gear that might be their mother, the world's only nanomachine colony, a member of a false religion's clergy who learns it was a scam, and a member of a dying race. The Dark Id made fun of this in his Let's Play of the game:Bart: Aren't you the one who picked up that Rico Guy?Fei: ...Who?Bart: That Blanka looking guy.Fei: That guy is STILL around? The hell?
- Part of the reason Emerelda's so Out of Focus in Xenogears is that her Backstory takes place long before the game begins. Emerelda was born during what was intended to be episode three of a six-part series.
- In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Ydwin is an animancer Mad Scientist who was considered as a full character and still has all the plot hooks when you recruit her, but as a sidekick she has very little to say after being recruited. The fandom tends to be strongly pro-animancy despite its ambiguous portrayal in-game, and were hoping to help her out in the mad experiments on her soul hinted at when being recruited.
- Doki Doki Literature Club!:
- An interesting example is Monika. She's a School Idol who shared a class with the player character, has an interesting character design, and has plenty of lines suggesting she is a love interest. However, she does not have a route, and remains the Not Love Interest instead. As it turns out, Monika agrees in-universe. See, she not only knows she's a character in a Dating Sim, but resents the fact that her only role is to root for the other girls who are programmed to fall in love with the player. Cue Hostile Show Takeover and Surprise Creepy.
- Of the four girls, Natsuki has the least focus. However, what focus she gets is compelling. She's a Tsundere who's Older Than She Looks. Much like the player character, she is a Closet Geek who keeps her manga in the clubroom and insists that it counts as literature. It's implied the reason why she's so defensive is because she doesn't get along with her classmates and she has a horrible home life where her father beats her, judges her for her interests, and often doesn't feed her properly. Despite her crankiness, once she opens up she shows a sweet, affectionate side that's desperate to have someone like her and for the club to remain a place where she feels safe. She even has a pleasant Friendship Moment where she begs the player to help Yuri overcome her obvious Sanity Slippage. However, she gets Out of Focus in Act 2, and only has one major scene exploring her psyche before she's Killed Offscreen by the end of the Act. Dan Salvato himself has said he wishes he could have added more to her story.
- Everyone in Injustice 2 that is not the Justice League, Black Adam or Brainiac. Most of them are given extremely short explanations about why their fighting that are already explained on the website (and sometimes not even that). Special mention goes to the entire Society (which is disbanded without any rhyme or reason and gives everyone bar Grodd an Ambiguous Fate), Robin (who never talks to Batman after the intro) and Doctor Fate (who does literally nothing for the entire story and then dies)