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The examples in question are listed in Base-Breaking Character in the YMMV pages to the pokemon games:
Again, going back to "in need of cleaning badly". There are main characters listed on this page. N and Ghetsis are the main antagonists of two separate games, Emma's the focus of the post-game plot of the later of those, and the villain teams can hardly be called "background". Player characters might count since they have no default personality to speak of, but their friends who you run into frequently certainly have them.
I've commented out the most offending entries I saw while looking over the page, at least to the best of my knowledge. Feel free to discuss whether or not they should be included, but I think characters as story-centric as N, Ghetsis, and Blue Oak do not meet the requirements of the trope.
Ensemble Dark Horse is defined as "popular minor character". The problem with the Pokemon video games section is that nearly every that Pokemon can be defined as "minor" in the games because they all receive more or less equal focus in the games, or at least, I think that must be the logic some people are using, because fan favorites are being listed by the dozen and I can't think of any other reason why. Many of these Pokemon receive substantial focus in the anime and other media and substantial use by the players. It's turned into nothing more than a list of popular Pokemon only there because of a twisted definition of "minor character" and not this trope.
OK, I agree that Lucario's promotion level being similar to the starters and Mascot Legendaries makes it fall under the clause of being a Breakout Character and not a true Darkhorse despite being genuinely highly popular, (and added a note about similar mons to the clause) but I'm wondering where we draw the line for whether a mon qualifies for that.
Like, I'm wondering if Mewtwo could count, as it's a very popular mon and still promoted pretty heavily (despite the extreme negative reaction to its portrayal the sixteenth anime movie being a setback that caused that to be toned down a bit as of late, and even then the attempts could still make it count - for example, Zoroark probably would've fallen under the clause if it'd actually succeeded in making it beyond Base Breaker).
I'd say Jigglypuff would be a contender but it stopped being promoted or popular outside of Smash over a decade ago.
Thing about Mewtwo is its promotion came after it got popular. Back in the RBY days, it was popular due to its ridiculous power. Its promotion may have led to it being a Breakout Character, but it was already an Ensemble Dark Horse before that.
Ah, OK. I'd argue first movie but I don't remember how much it was promoted outside of that back then since I was like, six, so if someone could do some digging that'd help if I don't do it myself.
So judging from that the criteria for any Pokemon that falls under the "breakout, not true darkhorse" category - starter, box legendary, something like Lucario, etc. - would have to be promoted heavily from the start to the point of pretty much being an intentional, meant-to-be-popular "main character" for the generation and/or the franchise as a whole?
Outside of the first and 16th movie and Mega Mewtwo Y, Mewtwo wasn't really promoted that heavily. He's an iconic character and borderline example as far as I'm concerned.
Mewtwo wasn't pulled because it was too publicized, it was pulled because it's also listed under the (mutually exclusive) Base Breaker.
Though that surprises me, I thought Mewtwo (and Garchomp) were pretty universally popular.
Out of curiosity- if a character exclusive to a remake (i.e. Lisia, who has really caught on from what I've seen- maybe Zinnia too, but she seems a bit more story-vital so I don't know if she's "Darkhorse" enough) might be an Ensemble Darkhorse, would they go under the generation they're remaking (i.e. 3), or the generation they debuted in regardless of region (i.e. 6)?
Wait- Leaf is under Gen 3, so I guess that answers my question.
So... it's weird to me that Ash's Unova team has four Pokemon. I'm not familiar with Best Wishes, but that seems like it's... well... 2/3 of the main character's roster. Considering at least one of the two remaining slots is Pikachu it kinda seems like misuse, as not everyone can be an ED.
I think it should be as "while every one of Ash's team has its fans Pokemon x and y are very popular for z reason" so only like one or two for the team not 2/3 of them.
This page needs a comical amount of cleaning. Ensemble Dark Horse does NOT mean "popular Pokemon."
I mean, Pikachu is on the page. So are a ton of the starters and box legendaries, which are about as far from Ensemble Dark Horse material as you can possibly get. They can be a Breakout Character, but an Ensemble Dark Horse a character with unexpected popularity. Most of these characters were heavily pushed by Nintendo, thus not really a darkhorse.
I'm going to do some heavy trimming. We had to do the same on the YMMV.Pokemon page.
EDIT: I pulled all the starters, box legendaries, and Lucario. There's probably some more that shouldn't be there as well, but I got rid of the really obvious ones.
Um, Pikachu was never meant to be the series mascot, Clefairy was; that fact alone should keep it on the page. Also, Ensemble Dark Horse does equal Popular, but Popular doesn't equal Ensemble Dark Horse (think about the whole relationship between Squares and Rectangles). One could also make an argument for Charizard since no other Starter has the same degree of popularity that it has, and being heavily marketed by Nintendo could also be proof that they recognize a Mon's Darkhorse status. Also, not all Mons pushed by Nintendo are Darkhorses, like Zoroark.
I pulled Charizard and Zekrom because even though they are the most popular of their gens, they were still heavily marketed as mascots. By the pure definition, they can't be Ensemble Darkhorses. A Breakout Character in hindsight, but not darkhorses.
Pikachu wasn't popular until the anime. Clefairy was the original choice to be the mascot, but the writers decided to go another way. Not because of fan opinion, but because they changed their mind.
Pulled Pikachu, again. He only became particularly popular after a very conscious choice to push him.
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