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Describe Video Game characters who really caught on with the fans, despite not being a main character here.

Sonic the Hedgehog examples can be found here

Danganronpa

The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda has a variety of Ensemble Darkhorses, including:

  • The King.
  • Tingle from Majora's Mask was popular enough to get his own Gaiden Game or two released in Japan and Europe, although Americans Hate Tingle.
  • There's Linebeck from Phantom Hourglass, thanks to a combination of his Lovable Cowardness and his character development throughout the game.
  • And there's Dark Link, who only showed up in a couple of games as a minor character and is only known for being Link's doppelganger, but is fairly popular among the fans.
  • Sheik, the ninja alter-ego of Princess Zelda from Ocarina of Time. She was cemented as this by Super Smash Bros.
  • Koloktos.
  • And Ghirahim.
  • And, the biggest Memetic Badass in Zelda history, Groose. Memetic Badass has now been renamed Memetic Groosenator.

Mega Man

  • Zero from the Mega Man X series was originally intended to be just in the first game, hence his death; however, he turned out to be so popular that he was revived in the second game. He even got his own critically acclaimed series of games later on. He also had a strong impact on the following series.
    • Keiji Inafune, the producer of the Mega Man series, originally designed Zero to be the main character in Mega Man X. Believing that players wouldn't be able to accept Zero as the new Mega Man, since he was radically different from the original one, he instead redesigned Mega Man X to give him a greater resemblance to the original blue bomber and used X's original design for Zero, a supporting character. Inafune actually admits that Zero was a bit of a Canon Sue, since he gave Zero some of the more important scenes in the game (source).
    • Later, Zero was going to be written out of the X series by having him die for good in X5 (Intended to be the end by creator Keiji Inafune) and wake up with no memory in Mega Man Zero. X6 revived him yet again, putting him in a pod for 100 years to come out in Zero. However, they wanted to use him in the X timeline again, so this scene (Zero's ending in X6) was declared to be a "bonus ending" taking place after the rest of the series.
  • Speaking of those important scenes, let's not forget little Iris from X4, whom, despite her short lifespan, had a massive impact on players as his first love interest, the X-series' first female, and just being so darn sweet and cuddly. She got appearances in prequels and crossovers in addition to her NetNavi counterpart and lots of fan media. His second love Layer has also received a lot of fan interest, despite her even smaller role.
  • From Mega Man X2, the Green Biker Dude who dies in the beginning of the first level has attained meme status.
  • Harpuia became a huge Ensemble Darkhorse during the run of the Zero series, and Girouette was almost one for the ZX series until it turned out he was a Sacrificial Lamb. Come to think of it, he might be one anyway. The Zero series spawned a few minor/temporary ones, like Chilldre Inarabitta.
    • Don't forget about Omega. This Ax Crazy psychopath was popular enough that he came back as a bonus boss in Mega Man ZX.
  • Colonel.EXE, Protoman.EXE, Tomahawkman.EXE, Searchman.EXE, and Bass.EXE--freaking INCREDIBLY popular from the Mega Man Battle Network game/Mega Man NT Warrior anime-manga series.
  • And what about Tron Bonne and the Bonne family from Mega Man Legends? Seriously, they got their own spin-off game!
    • They automatically lose out to Tron's Servbots. Their popularity led to one being a joke character in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and one of Tron's super combos is summoning all 40 Servbots (sans the one following her) to Zerg Rush her opponent. They also have buttloads of merchandise and cameos in Dead Rising.
      • Not quite. While the Servbots definitely beat out Teisel and Bon, they don't beat Tron. She was announced before any other character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, was actually a starter in 2 (no other Mega Man character was), was playable in Namco X Capcom, and appeared in the second wallpaper for Legends 3 (although the Servbots appeared in the third, while Mega Man and Roll appeared in the first).
  • Hyde became somewhat subject to this to those who watched the Tribe season of the Mega Man Star Force anime, as he was changed from a sycophant quasi-Dragon in the game to an out-there, comic relief artist in the anime. It didn't hurt that his crowning moment of villainy was kidnapping the hero's mother and throwing her off buildings and bridges Green Goblin-style just for the lulz.
  • Eventually, both Tron Bonne and Zero found their way onto the Capcom Vs. Fighting Game series. Tron and Servbot in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tron returns in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Zero in the Updated Rerelease of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (Ultimate All-Stars) and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Zero also appears as a secret character in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos.
  • Another ZX example comes in the form of the villainous Brother-Sister Team known as Prometheus and Pandora. A Red Oni, Blue Oni Evil Duo consisting of a Badass Ax Crazy Crazy Awesome Grim Reaper and his Emotionless Girl Dark Magical Girl of a sister, the fandom has been warming up to these two from day one. They've garnered even more of a fanbase since they've been revealed as Woobies, Destroyers of Worlds due to their horrendous childhood. The stellar music that accompanies their multiple appearances also helps. How much do the fans like them? So that much that there was an outcry when Master Albert, the Magnificent Bastard of the series, owned them. Fans are hoping that the ambiguous nature of their "death" can allow for a reappearance in the future.
    • That, and Pandora is ADORABLE.
  • In the original series, we have Sheep Man who was once The Scrappy when Mega Man 10 was announced, but he ultimately became this when the game came out, due to how beautifully absurd his concept is.

Street Fighter

  • Cammy from the Street Fighter series. Originally the only other "chick" in the roster aside from Chun-Li, she became popular enough to appear in several of the game's crossovers. Sakura, who debuted in Street Fighter Alpha 2, also became popular enough to have her own comic book, which spawned the Canon Immigrant character Karin, who appeared as her rival in Alpha 3.
    • Dan Hibiki, the quintessential Joke Character, has also become unusually popular because of his status as such. Although he's been given a major buff in IV.
  • There's also Guy, the Bushin Ninja who crossed over from Final Fight, and Fei Long, one of the original Bruce Lee Clones in video games (indeed, Fei Long is the only "New Challenger" from Super Street Fighter II other than Cammy to return in the original version of Street Fighter IV). Charlie/Nash is also pretty popular, despite the fact that in his first chronological appearance, he dies.
    • And then he dies again. Both in Street Fighter Alpha 2, which, to be fair, was actually superseding the first game's canon, but then, more absurdly, resurrected and killed once more in Alpha 3. He might have even been brought back as "Shadow" after that, but Capcom's never really come to a conclusion on that point until Street Fighter V, where he returns only to die for good at the end.
  • Dudley of Street Fighter III fame is easily the most popular original character from his series, to the point where he was ranked 1st in an online poll held by Capcom to determine which characters should show up in Super Street Fighter IV. Keep it classy!
    • Also from III is Highly-Visible Ninja Ibuki, who was originally the only member of that game's cast to appear in another game (Pocket Fighter/Super Gem Fighter: Mini Mix). At least until Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
    • Another Final Fight example comes from Colonel Badass Rolento, whose last appearances were in Street Fighter Alpha 3, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and Namco x Capcom. He remains a popular choice in polls, and everyone wanted to see him in SSFIV. USFIV finally returned him to the series.
    • Also from III is Genki Girl princess Elena. She just barely missed being included in SSFIV, being brought into USFIV instead. Although most of the players who voted for her were guys. I wonder why.
    • And then we have the Lee Bros, Yun and Yang, who actually did make it to the arcade version of SSFIV. Yun also has the distinction of making the most crossover appearances out of the entire SFIII cast.
    • From Street Fighter EX, there is one name that stands above all: SKULLOMANIA. Perhaps the campiest Homage to all things Toku, he is a walking Crowning Moment of Funny. In the poll for Street Fighter IV (the same one that Cammy won), he came in second place. Clearly, Skullo is the darkhorse among darkhorses. And that's not getting into the likes of Garuda (who's second in regards to Skullo), Pullum, Doctrine Dark, Hokuto, Kairi, Cracker Jack (who was probably the original Dudley), Darun, Blair, Allen...
  • And speaking of IV, the two female additions, no-nonsense CIA agent (and mother of one) Crimson Viper (vanilla SFIV) and the deliciously insane and evil Tae-kwon-do fighter Juri Han (Super), have pretty much overshadowed the other newcomers, to the point that Viper is the fourth SF rep in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (alongside Ryu, Chun-Li, and Akuma). Would you believe it that Abel was supposed to be the focal point of IV? Didn't think so. And Poison finally made her playable debut in this series as well.
  • There is also Karin and Mika from Street Fighter Alpha 3, two highly requested characters to return. They finally did in V.
  • Speaking of V, say hi to Rashid and his memetic theme song. He's a bundle of joy with quite the unique playstyle and powerset. Laura and Menat are quite popular too. But none of the other V characters, can match up to Ed in terms of eye-catching popularity due to his never-before-seen playstyle based on Mortal Kombat-style inputs.

Other

  • Drawn to Life has Crazy Barks, whose defining trait is that he likes to TALKINALLCAPSWITHNOSPACESBETWEENWORDS!. There is a lot of fan art of this character, especially on Deviant ART.
  • Jiub the Dunmer prisoner and Crassius Curio the Haalu councillor from Morrowind are unusually popular in the fandom. Also, the latter's self-made play, entitled: The Lusty Argonian Maid counts. Despite not being an actual character, the Lusty Maid has spawned much... Fanart.
    • Preumablly Jiub has fans dues to being a nice person & Crassius owes at least part of his fame to being one of the few Morrowind NPCs with a personality.
    • In Oblivion, the player's superior in the Dark Brotherhood, Lucien Lachance, is extremely popular, both with fangirls and otherwise. Somehow, the fact that he is a Complete Monster Card-Carrying Villain doesn't hurt his popularity in the slightest. That said, if they've been working for Lachance long enough, the player also qualifies as a Complete Monster Card-Carrying Villain.
      • And if he weren't already enough of a Darkhorse, you can gain the power to summon his ghost in Skyrim.
    • Lydia from Skyrim quickly gained this status in the first few days of launch. One of the many companion characters who can be gained early in the campaign, she stands out for many reasons, among them the facts that she's well-armed, attractive, and sarcastic--as well as given to you as a housecarl as part of the main quest.
  • One of the generic resistance fighter character models from Half-Life 2 has gotten a lot of memetic fame as Gordon Frohman and John Freeman.
    • Dog was so beloved by the fans that the developers ensured he would be the first thing the player sees at the beginning of Episode One, and was reintroduced in Episode Two by fighting a Strider and tearing out its goddamn brain.
    • Father Grigori, who appeared in one level and was never even mentioned again, yet is still remembered as one of the best parts of the game.
  • One of the most bizarre Ensemble Darkhorse characters ever is the Weighted Companion Cube from Portal. It's literally just an inanimate box. This is arguably intentional, as the cube idea came from some actual government studies aimed at making people develop feelings for inanimate objects. Also, it was a trick by the developer's to make sure you kept that Cube with you as your friend. When people didn't care about it, they'd leave it behind and not realize they needed it to complete puzzles.
    • And now the Space Core from the end of Portal 2 seems to have joined the Companion Cube among the darkhorses of the series.
  • Final Fantasy, being the Long Runner it is with a new cast in every main game, naturally has a lot of this. Here's some of them:
    • Final Fantasy II wasn't released in the States until 2003, but that didn't stop darkhorses emerging in Japanese fandom, namely Minwu the White Wizard, for bucking the White Magician Girl trend, having Ho Yay with Firion, and being attractive and baring his midriff; and The Emperor, due to his good looks, scheming ways, and that famous death cry. With the game's stateside release, the two characters are also enjoying more fannish squee, though apparently more Emperor-focused there.
    • In Final Fantasy IV we have two members of Golbez's Elemental Archfiends, Rubicante and Barbariccia. The former is noted as being a Noble Demon/Worthy Opponent who arranges a fair duel with the heroes and one of the first Genre Savvy villains in the series who notes if the heroes can combine powers and fight like a team, why can't the villains? The latter? Appearance and attire (to the point that she rivals/equals Rydia as Ms. Fanservice), as well as being one half of the Fan-Preferred Couple with Kain.
      • Also from IV is the aforementioned Kain Highwind, the conflicted pretty boy rival to The Hero Cecil who's an absolute badass and has an unrequited crush on the heroine.
    • Final Fantasy V has Gilgamesh, who is a full-on Breakout Character. Originally just The Dragon to Exdeath and a bumbling, cowardly hammy one at that, he's made cameo appearances in almost every main game in the series, being worked into remakes of previous games and popping up from nowhere in the ones made after. He's so popular that Type-0 announced him to be in the game before it even came out, or before the playable cast was even fully revealed. Adding to his popularity is that where Gilgamesh goes, "Battle on the Big Bridge" is almost certain to follow.
      • Gilgamesh's boss, Exdeath, was nowhere near as popular, being a generic Tin Tyrant who wanted to destroy the world, mocked the heroes and threw out an Evil Laugh now and then. Then, Dissidia Final Fantasy was released. Exdeath's popularity skyrocketed due to his hilariously hammy lines, his obsession with the VOID, and the sheer fun of being opponents up with a tree. He's also become a Fountain of Memes, with almost everything he says being quotable. This began before the game even had its English release when people noticed that one of his lines in Japanese sounded like "tasty arrow!", and could be chained to another certain attack for "tasty arrow...is yummy!" And then we got the English release..."Get the fruit!"
    • Sabin of Final Fantasy VI, mostly because of the MOTHERFUCKER SUPLEXED A TRAIN! meme. His having the best physical stats in the game and a couple of great lines don't hurt either.
      • Also Setzer, mostly because of his most famous line.
    • Zack of Final Fantasy VII was also popular, so much so that despite having about a total of ten minutes of screentime in the original game, much of which was optional scenes, he got his own spin off Crisis Core. There are actually those who proudly declare "I loved Zack before Crisis Core!"
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Lady of War/Hot Amazon Beatrix and Black Waltz 3 are held in pretty high regard as well. While Beatrix serves as The Dragon to the Queen of Alexandria (thus remaining a prominent character throughout the game) and is a Magic Knight that absolutely puts Steiner to shame fifty times over, Black Waltz 3 was a bit player at best. His appearance most likely helped.
    • While Vivi is one of the main characters of the game, he also became one of the most popular characters in the series.
    • A very odd example: Shantotto of Final Fantasy XI is an absurdly popular Tarutaru who is known for being quirky, haughty, Crazy Awesome and possibly a megalomaniac (which is explored in the mini-Expansion Pack "A Shantotto Ascension"). It's amazing when you consider that her initial role in the game was as a quest starter for one insignificant quest chain and another quest chain that was restricted to Black Mages. She's actually also popular with the developers of Dissidia Final Fantasy and, well...
    • Stepping off the main series, Final Fantasy Tactics deserves a few mentions. Oranlandu "Thunder God" Cid is regarded as one of the best warriors in all of Ivalice, everyone speaks of him in-story as a total badass. What happens when you finally recruit him? He surprisingly lives up to the hype. He's a total Game Breaker having access to all of the speical sword skills of the other story characters use as well as being armed with one of the most powerful swords in the game. In the fanbase he's become the Chuck Norris of Ivalice.
      • Alica and Lavian, two generic Knight that can join you at the beginning of Chapter 2 under the command Holy Knight Agrias Oaks. Aside from their set names they have nothing unique to them compared to and other female knight units and no lines of dialog. Despite this they are accepted at Canon members of the story by fans often showing up prominently in fanfiction and fanart. Even the developer's seemed to think so as come time for the PSP remake the two were required for a late game romantic subplot as Mustadio tried to find out their former commanding officer's birthday.
    • Final Fantasy X gives us Auron, who has actually had people on this very wiki call for him to get his own page just for his awesome and badass tropes.
      • Game Informer even named him one of the top thirty video game characters who defined the decade.
    • When Balthier of Final Fantasy XII proclaimed himself as the "leading man", no one in the fanbase was quick to correct him. Also, there's Al-Cid Margrace and Judge Magister Gabranth. The latter was popular enough to make it into the aforementioned Dissidia. On the other hand, Montblanc (originally from Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced) cements himself as a Breakout Character in this game, as he's probably the second most iconic element of the Ivalice games behind the Judges.
    • Even when Final Fantasy XIII wasn't out yet, Sazh Katroy found himself having a Darkhorse status from get-go. I mean, not only his design is really different than other Nomura characters (Funny Afro non-bishonen, anyone?), he's got Badass Longcoat, dual-wields gun, has a chocobo on his afro and is a good guy extraordinary, so much that he is one of the And the Fandom Rejoiced triggers of the game. Certainly, Jihl Nabaat picked the wrong person to interrogate and boast on, so much that the moment she did that only in trailers (we don't know if she did that to Sazh because it's just duty or it's completely For the Evulz), she's immediately pegged as a Complete Monster who crossed the Moral Event Horizon (you don't mess/fuck up with the Ensemble Darkhorse, bitch). Oh, by the way, Nomura likes him so much that said he would see Sazh in a Dissidia sequel over Lightning. When Lightning got announced for the sequel, fan speculation ran rampant over Sazh getting in as a secret character. He didn't, though.
    • When it comes to the villains of the Final Fantasy series, even previously-mentioned favorites like Exdeath and The Emperor have nowhere near the popularity of Final Fantasy VIs Kefka Palazzo and Final Fantasy VIIs Sephiroth. They are the most iconic baddies in the entire franchise--Kefka for being a creepy Monster Clown with hilarious lines and Sephiroth for being an intimidating Bishonen. Like Gilgamesh, both characters owe some of their popularity to the music accompanying them--VIs "Dancing Mad" and VIIs "One-Winged Angel" routinely appear on lists of the greatest Final Boss music ever, the latter being so popular that it's a Trope Namer here on this very wiki!
  • Murray, the Mighty Demonic Skull from The Curse of Monkey Island. Originally a one-shot character scheduled to appear only during the opening sequence, feedback on the demo -- which featured the full conversation with a maniacal, animated, Card-Carrying Villain skull with an over-the-top Evil Laugh and plans for world domination -- convinced the creators to turn him into a Recurring Character who even got a spot in the follow-up, Escape from Monkey Island. And naturally, he shows up in Tales of Monkey Island (in Episode 3, "Lair of the Leviathan").
  • Tachibana Ukyo from Samurai Shodown, a Badass swordsman afflicted with tuberculosis, was intended for death early on in the series. However, due to popularity among fans, he was not killed off and has appeared throughout the series. Or rather, the latter Samurai Shodown game stories is always set in a timeline where they can always include Ukyo (that one game that didn't have him turned out to be a flop).
    • Iroha seems to be another case; despite a single appearance in the series (in VI), she is popular enough to gain a spin-off game starring her.
    • Cham Cham is also quite popular for someone who only appears in three games (II, IV, and VI; and in IV, she was a Playstation-exclusive character). She even has her own pachinko game!
    • Shiki from the Hyper Neo Geo 64 titles is quite popular as well. Even though she never made it to the main series, she was among the first characters from her subseries to make it into other SNK crossovers, such as SNK vs. Capcom SVC Chaos and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
  • No discussion about Mario darkhorses is complete without mention of Fawful, Cackletta's Blind Idiot Translation-spewing sidekick from the Mario & Luigi RPG series. He's gone from Dragon, to Cameo, to... wait for it...BigBad.
    • Bowser's original seven children, the Koopalings, were a well loved Quirky Miniboss Squad before being replaced by Bowser Jr. Their surprise return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii made many nostalgic fans happy.
    • Dimentio has recently gotten this treatment from the fans as well, due to his effectiveness as a Manipulative Bastard, his cheerful disposition, his numerous weird similes, and his ... MAGIC! Many are desperately hoping for his return in later games.
    • Fans have been begging for Super Mario RPG's Geno to make another appearance anywhere, but he has yet to show up outside his role in the original RPG.
      • He got a cameo in Mario & Luigi, but beyond that, the reason he hasn't appeared is likely due to Squeenix still holding the rights to the character.
    • Waluigi started out as a character solely to mirror Mario & Wario's rivalry by giving Luigi an enemy and completely lacking a personality, Waluigi has steadily increased in popularity over the years, even earning himself an appearance in Super Smash Bros Brawl as an Assist Trophy.
      • The biggest reason he's so popular is thanks to Brawl in the Family, where every so often he engages in Hostile Show Takeover--TOO BAD. WALUIGI TIME.
      • He also became more of a mischievous trickster as more games came out, giving him an overall better characterization other than just being a "rival to Luigi", got awesome music and stages to his name (particularly Waluigi Pinball), and got more hilarious animations and roles in the games he appeared in, like the Crotch Chop in Strikers! All of this coupled with the Mario series constantly pulling in new fans who didn't have to deal with his early Scrappy moments, and Brawl in the Family above have been responsible for his more positive reception.
    • Rosalina is very popular among the fans of the series since she's the one of if not the only female that is not a Distressed Damsel. Many fans clamor for her to return in the spin-off games though sadly she has only appeared in Mario Kart.
    • Kamek. Dear God, Kamek. He has a huge fanbase, and he's even gotten the distinction of having several appearances of unnamed Magikoopas in other games be considered to be him (Mario Kart 64, Yoshi's Safari, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Bowser's Inside Story, an official trading card confirms his appearance in Super Mario Galaxy).
    • ~Yoshi's Island~ has Raphael the Raven, a boss character that proved popular enough with the fans that he reappeared in Paper Mario with a Heel Face Turn despite becoming a constellation in his original game.
    • How about Yoshi himself? Pretty much defined the idea of a Powerup Mount, and was popular enough to get his own game. Several of them, in fact.
    • How can there be no mention of Luigi on this page? He started as a second player only character, now he basically shares the spotlight with his "more popular" brother.
  • On the subject of Mario we have Donkey Kong Country and its Darkhorses. The first game Rare gave the world Diddy. Diddy would because the star of sequel and have to rescue his former co-star Donkey.
    • Diddy would then have the same thing happen to him because his co-star Dixie, along with being a girl, could use her hair to make jumps easier. Dixie was so popular that many were upset that she didn't return for ..DK64.
      • But DK64 gave us Chunky, who was welcomed and is liked more than his younger brother Kiddy who was Dixie’s sidekick. There is also Lanky. No doubt because the two provide most of the comedy in the DK Rap.
        • Since then though, the latest DK Darkhorse seems to be Funky, who has been the 4th character in King of Swing and Jungle Climber and was unlockable alongside Diddy in Mario Kart Wii.
  • Ashley the Cute Witch from the Wario Ware series has only appeared in a few games to date, but she's easily one of the most popular characters in the franchise.
    • As are Nine Volt and Eighteen Volt. Why? Because their mini games are all based on classic Nintendo franchises. How can anyone not like mini games/microgames based on Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid?
  • Galacta Knight from Kirby Super Star Ultra, who, despite merely being a Bonus Boss for the Updated Rerelease, gained huge popularity with the fandom, particularly in the area of speculation regarding his relation to Meta Knight.
    • Apparently, the higher-ups were savvy enough to pick up on this, as Galacta Knight returns as a Bonus Boss in The True Arena of Kirbys Return to Dream Land.
    • Many of the enemies may also qualify, such as Waddle Doo and Knuckle Joe (who might both owe this to the anime).
    • The one-shot characters from Kirby 64, such as Adeleine, Ribbon, and 02 have a TON of fanart for them. 02 even got a remix of his theme music in Brawl.
    • Bandana Dee, who went from one-shot opponent in a Kirby Super Star minigame, to the confirmed identity of the Waddle Dee boss in the remake (with speaking parts!), to a playable character in Kirbys Return to Dream Land, is gaining in popularity lately.
  • Jack Krauser from Resident Evil 4 was such a popular villain that he will be reappearing in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, where he will receive a more detailed backstory, and is reappearing in The Mercenaries 3D. Not only that, but he's even a favorite among the creators themselves.
    • Then there's the Merchant from RE4.
    • The Memetic Mutation of the first game's legendarily-bad voice-acting led to throwaway character Barry Burton becoming a playable character in Resident Evil 5 and its "Mercenaries: Reunion" mode. Note that the rest of the Reunion cast consists of the main characters, The Dragon, and the helicopter pilot from RE5 itself, as well as long-time recurring character Rebecca Chambers; Barry's completely-out-of-the-blue appearance is the Crowning Moment of Awesome for many fans who enjoyed mocking his deadpan delivery of his lines. Capcom understands this to the point where his Narm-tastic "I have THIS!" line about his revolver has carried over to RE5.
    • HUNK appeared in a flashback cutscene in Resident Evil 2 in which his entire team is thrashed. However, he wears a gas mask and had a mini-game, making him popular with many fans.
    • Manuela from The Darkside Chronicles seems to be heading in this direction despite canon suggesting that she'll only be a one-shot character (she survives the events of the game and is taken into the custody of the US government). That lovely singing voice of hers is probably why. She gets bonus points for actually becoming one with the Veronica virus to no ill-effect (something Alexia Ashford couldn't do) and then using said powers to help out Leon and Krauser during the final battle.
    • Out of all the freaks and mutants in the Resident Evil series the one who stands out the most is the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 Nemesis. His appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 pretty much cements this.
  • Tekken has Nina Williams. A staple character in the series, and the first one to get a Spin-Off game (which unfortunately bombed).
    • Rivaling (and perhaps even surpassing) Nina is none other than the Crazy Awesome, Robin Hood-esque Space Ninja Yoshimitsu, who quickly became an iconic member of the cast to the point that his ancestor popped up in Soulcalibur and has remained a staple member of the cast ever-since. Even better; in the Japanese version of Soulcalibur, he's voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama and then Norio Wakamoto in IV, making him even more of a darkhorse.
    • There is also Kunimitsu (backstabbing former member of Yoshi's Manji Party) and Jun Kazama (one-time partner of Kazuya and Jin's Missing Mom). When the Time Skip occurred to set up the plot of 3, these two ladies were the only members of the 2 cast to not reappear by the time of 5: Dark Resurrection (not counting the Killed Off for Real King I and Armor King I), causing an inordinate amount of ruckus from the fans trying to get them back on the roster in subsequent games. This seems to have worked in Jun's favor, as she'll be making a playable appearance for the first time in years in the upcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Only time will tell if Kuni will share Jun's fate.
    • Aside of that there's Emilie de "Lili" Rochefort. She's introduced in the expansion of Tekken 5 (Dark Resurrection) and seems to have no importance story-wise so far, but she proved really popular due to her rich girl design, young age and easy-to-use character without being much of a button masher, enough that she appeared in the trailer of Tekken 6, and then appears in the crossover game Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos as the only Tekken representative. Oh, and a magazine also put her on the cover while wearing a bikini. Remember, folks. This is after she is introduced in just two games.
    • There is also Eddy Gordo, a character that was formerly widely hated for being formerly a character that was easy to button mash with. However, the fact that Christie initially replaced him, along with button mashing turning into a much less effective method helped boost up his popularity to the point where he is a heavily wanted character in the official Tekken X Street Fighter Poll. Other Ensemble Darkhorses includes Hwoarang and Ling Xiaoyu
  • Adrian Andrews, a central character to the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All and had a minor appearance in the 2nd case of the 3rd game, Trials and Tribulations, is far more popular in the fandom than any other side character. This partly has to do with her having the central role in a fan-favorite case, but more importantly, there's the implied Les Yay between her and the Whip It Good Tsundere Prosecutor Franziska von Karma. This might also be because fairly early in the case, she turned from being a hard-edged talent agent into a soft-hearted puppy, because she was the real victim all along. Some of that may also be explained by players feeling guilty for having to re-accuse her of a crime they know she's innocent of to bide time, and later being forced to choose between her life or Maya's. It's quite a feat to have the player feel personally involved like that.
    • Before Adrian Andrews, there was Phoenix's rival, Miles Edgeworth. He even got his own game!
      • Games. You know you've succeeded when your new series puts out a sequel before the old series can even get a new game into the development stages.
    • Until Apollo Justice hit the market in America, Ema Skye appeared in all of one case (albeit a big one) in the first game as a stand-in for Phoenix's assistant, Maya. However, she apparently struck a chord with people, given that her coverage practically eclipsed Maya for a while -- maybe it was the magenta goggles and flair for scientific investigation. She was almost the protagonist of Investigations before a certain cravatted prosecutor took over.
    • Don't forget Matt Engarde, who only appeared in ONE case, but has a huge fanbase. His rival, Juan Corrida, was just the victim of the case, and he has gained loads of fans (though this may be because of fanartist Zarla's works).
    • Godot. Cool shades, snappy dresser, and one of the most sympathetic and conflicted killers of the entire series.
    • Byrne Faraday of Investigations has also become very popular, despite the fact that we see exactly one screenshot of him before finding his corpse. Probably has something to do with being a good father to Kay, a master thief, and one of the very few prosecutors who isn't an Amoral Attorney.
    • Don't forget Gumshoe, pal!
    • Also, Maya Fey. Trucy was criticised simply for not being her.
    • Detective Baddass in Investigations. You know you're popular when you're the Ace Attorney equivalent to Chuck Norris.
    • Investigations 2 might not be out yet in America but Yumihiko Ichiyanagi already has a huge fanbase once the game came out. Given his voice actor is a fan favorite of another famous male Tsundere from a certain series and the personalities are near identical to the point that he's technically a moeblob to his fanbase (and an Ineffectual Sympathetic Prosecutor), it really stands out.
  • Sanger Zonvolt, The Sword That Smites/Cleaves Evil. Originally just The Dragon in Alpha Gaiden, but his EPIC HAM tendencies and rampant Badassery led him to be included in Super Robot Wars Original Generation, as well as several other incarnations, making him even more badass with each incarnation (such as is possible with Sanger, anyway). And then, he's scheduled to appear in the crossover game Project X Zone, a Spiritual Successor to Namco X Capcom (throwing Sega in as well), smiting evils on foot, with a human sized Type-3 Colossal Blade.
  • Also in the department of Darkhorse by way of Hamming, we have Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth! Seriously, does anyone remember just how late he shows up? Here's a reminder: In a game with 14 "episodes", he's not even introduced until the preview for episode 9 (which is one of only two episode previews that's actually accurate), and doesn't join the party until you beat him as the boss of that chapter. He then proceeds to utterly dominate the storyline for the next four episodes before finally taking a backseat to Laharl and Flonne for the final episode... except even then, he manages to dominate, because that's when Kurtis returns from the dead. And then there's the alternative "human world" ending... normally, when a character hijacks the plot like that, they'd be hated, right? Yet Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth is easily among the most popular characters in the game. Again--only playable for the final five episodes, or about 35.7% of the story.
    • However, this seems to be more of a case of Americans Love Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth, considering he is a parody of their nation's hero archetype. In various image sites (like Danbooru), mostly dominated with Japanese artists, Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth has very minimum amount of fanarts.
    • Another example is the Dark Adonis, Vyers Mid-Boss, the recurring enemy that is eventually battled five times. Also shows up a couple of times without fighting you. Granted, he does turn out to have a lot more plot significance than his apparent comic relief role would imply, but I'm pretty sure it's the comic relief bits that make him so popular. Well, that and the face and the perpetually bare well-defined chest.
    • Asagi and female archers are quite popular as well. The former was 5th in a Japanese NIS character popularity poll and the latter was 11th. Most of Asagi's popularity comes from the fact that she's been largely unsuccessful in her quest for main character status (only appearing as a Secret Character in several Disgaea-related games; NIS has seemed to turn this into a Running Gag for her).
    • Dood, no mention of the Prinnies? They even got their own Spin-Off and everything!
    • Possibly the biggest Dark Horse in all of the Disgaea franchise would be Axel, The Dark Hero. Starts out as the usual Goldfish Poop Gang of the second game, but his over the top personality and happy ending endeared him enough to the fan base to get an appearance in both subsequent titles (Including a storyline in the fourth game!) as well as his own story in the PSP remake of the second game. Add to this fact that Axel has THREE separate themes (White Tiger, Let's Dance at the Last Battle and Pandora Ignition) over the course of these games. They are all awesome.
    • ...so there's a discussion about Disgaea Ensemble Darkhorses without mentioning Pleinar?
  • Protests arose in some circles that Thana, a temporary rival character on Taris for Empire players in Star Wars: The Old Republic, was merely a minor NPC and not a full-fledged party member.
  • Leon Magnus of Tales of Destiny consistently tops the Tales character popularity lists (Kratos Aurion did top him out during the Symphonia boom, but once the Tales of Destiny remake came out, Leon got back to the top). He was a Draco in Leather Pants in the original game, was brought back as Judas in the sequel, and got his own game mode in the Directors Cut remake. He also made appears in Namco X Capcom as Judas.
    • And if there's another boom (such as Vesperia), he may step aside from the first place (as Yuri Lowell beat him), but WILL always tail behind as second place, as if ready to take over the spot again when the boom died out.
    • Within each game itself, there tends to be a fan favorite among the cast. Symphonia had Kratos, obviously, and Abyss had Jade Curtiss, Deadpan Snarker and Magnificent Bastard extraordinaire. In fact, Vesperia may be the first game in the series where the main character (Yuri Lowell) is the most well-liked character.
      • I think when it comes to Symphonia, Wonder Chef proves himself as the best example of Emsemble Darkhorse. While never appearing on Tales character popularity lists, he is loved by most of the fandom for an almost non-existent role in the game (he's only featured in one sidequest).
      • Zelos and Sheena of Symphonia also get a lot of love, though not as much as Kratos.
    • Nanaly Fletch from Tales of Destiny 2 might be a subversion of this. She is never seen in popularity polls, her story involvement in-game is rather minimal, but maintains quite a substantial fanbase, nobody complains about her... and when there's a Tales crossover spinoff (Radiant Mythology, Versus) she's usually the first character from Destiny 2 to be announced, before The Hero Kyle is ever announced. She's also the only Destiny 2 representative in the Bonus Boss battle in Tales of the Abyss.
    • And amongst Tales villains, once again from Tales of Destiny 2, Barbatos Goetia takes the top spot for villainous Dark Horse, I mean, he's just Elraine's Dragon! He's also one Memetic Badass, provides a challenging fight and is voiced by Norio Wakamoto... guess that explains.
      • NO! ITEMS! EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR!
      • His popularity is acknowledged by his numerous cameo appearances in future games, and having the privilege of being the only villain to get multiple roles in the various Tales Of comedy CDs.
    • Pascal. Enough Said.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War has Ayra the sword mistress, probably due to the fact that she's one of the most powerful units early in the game due to her Meteor Sword skill. Her looks and attitude (cold, tough, ass-kicking on the outside, but quite a sweety on the inside) also help out. In fact, you can be assured if there's some fans wishing that Genealogy of the Holy War gets represented in other games, if it's not Sigurd, or Celice, it's her.
    • Nino from Fire Emblem also qualifies, taking first place in a Nintendo of Japan popularity poll (ahead of the main characters); many people assume this is for unwholesome reasons, the same poll also show Matthew might be an example, placing ahead of Lyn.
    • Although he is an optional character who can only be recuited in a sidequest, Canas from Blazing Sword received 7th place in the above popularity poll and is often considered as a must have character. This is likely due to his well balanced stats, being the only dark magic (arguably the best magic in the game) user until the last chapter, his usefulness as a healer due to his magic stat, and being capable of dealing more damage than even Athos with Luna. People also seem to like his curious, passionate personality which contrasts with the typical brooding or evil stereotype of dark magicians.
    • On the subject of Fire Emblem, Denning, a character who only appears as an optional boss (killing him is not required to complete the mission) near the very end of the game fits this trope. He is found in almost every ROM Hack of Fire Emblem and was popular amongst the Fire Emblem fans, and his one-line vocabulary was found in a lot of people's signatures.
    • In the same vein as Ayra, Mia (Wayu) from Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn has an equal fandom without actual importance. The Myrmidon/Swordmaster/Trueblade classes always have some amount of fandom especially when said character is a Genki Girl with a Cool Sword.
    • The Sacred Stones has Joshua, the game's first Myrmidon. There was a certain degree of lot of Nice Hat involved, with a side of Handsome Lech.
    • Path of Radiance has Oliver, a fat and ugly slave trader with an incredibly ironic love for beauty (which he sees himself as the paragon of), who as a boss dies so easily that the only challenge is getting to him before the allied NPCs kill him. He is loved for two reasons: his characterization being ridiculously over the top to the point of hilarity, and his Leitmotif, the famous Power-Hungry Fool. He returns in Radiant Dawn, where he was revealed to be Not Quite Dead, and becomes recruitable.
    • Nephenee in Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn is a major one, mainly for her asskicking abilities.
    • In Path of Radiance, Sothe was a small (teenager-ish), weak thief with limited use. In Radiant Dawn, Sothe is a strong, developed Lovable Rogue. He appears as one of the main characters.
    • If we're going by Radiance and Dawn, you can't forget about the silent assassin Volke then. He's pretty damn good at what he does, too.
    • Radiant Dawn has the 3-13 archer. He's a non-playable AI-controlled character that manages to actually help you out a lot in a difficult chapter of the game.
    • Fire Emblem in general is chock-full of Enesemble Darkhorses, mainly due to having Loads and Loads of Characters. A lot of them, such as Gheb, Glass and Batta the Beast (minor boss characters in both regards, or so the game's creators would have you think), have been elevated to the status of Memetic Badass.
  • Admiral ZEX from Star Control II has a surprising amount of appeal outside the main fan site, but he's no Draco in Leather Pants; female fans simply tend to find him attractive for his canon personality. Of course, the Ho Yay with the main character do have a bit everything to do with it... additionally, the first Spathi that the player meets - Captain Fwiffo - is a fan favourite, even though the player basically only has one conversation with him, after which Fwiffo's commanded ship becomes one of your fleet. It is not uncommon for SC 2 players to keep his ship in active duty and alive for the rest of the game. Why? Just because Fwiffo rocks.
  • Sasha Nein, the almost-emotionless German secret agent from Psychonauts, has an almost absurdly huge fanbase. This is probably because he has an angsty backstory, and we all know how much fangirls love that. Alternatively, it could be that they just find his deep, smooth, German accent sexy.
    • The angsty backstory might not necessarily be it, considering that everyone whose mind you enter has an angsty backstory that provides the basis for their particular neurosis or outright insanity.
    • He's not emotionless. He only advocates keeping emotions controlled as a means of turning them into firepower to destroy tacky lamps. And that is awesome.
    • Psychonauts also has D'Artagnan, the original protagonist, who was cut for being hard to render. Nonetheless, he does get a quick cameo reference in the end, and fans seem to have latched on to him as well.
    • Dart's popularity may have something to do with the fact that the reason he was cut was that his hat was too Awesome to render.
  • The Captain, a wannabe-character who only serves as someone Arthas can talk to in the human campaign of Warcraft III has attained many fans among the community. In the retelling of the Warcraft III events in the book Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, he finally gained a name -- or actually two, split into two separate characters, Falric and Luc Valonforth.
  • Speaking of Warcraft, The Horde in general became immensely popular despite being the main antagonist in the first two games for their hilarious Stop Poking Me quotes actually making playing the bad guy more fun, which eventually lead to the Horde's (or at the very least, the Orcs') ultimate redemption in Warcraft III. Since then they've gotten more and more attention from both fans and Blizzard themselves, and are by far the most iconic group in the entire series, almost overshadowing their rival faction, The Alliance (much to their chargin). Blizzard Entertainment has made numerous art, novels, and other media centerd around them, as well as their fanmade equvialent, and Blizzard even has an offical rock band, the Tauren Chieftains, with songs like their well known "Power of the Horde" dedicated to them. Not bad for a faction that was orginally your typical stock orc villains.
    • Saurfang, Bolvar, and recently Darius Crowley were all minor characters introduced in World of Warcraft. They have all become hugely popular since their introduction (Saurfang moreso than Bolvar and Darius combined), with the first two gaining more promienent roles in later expansions.
  • The Rabbids from the Rayman games have overshadowed the title character. They're usually Creator's Pets to anyone who was a fan of the original games, though.
    • From the original, Bad/Dark Rayman, popular enough to later appear as an unlockable character in Rayman M.
    • Globox and the Teensies from Rayman Origins
  • The Metal Gear Solid series has Psycho Mantis, ever-popular for his No Fourth Wall Mind Screw boss fight, Sniper Wolf, who still succeeds in making gamers cry, the AI simulation Colonel and his memetically-delicious "I need scissors! 61!", and the perplexing example of Raikov, who exists solely to be knocked unconscious and impersonated (and provide some Ho Yay with the game's Big Bad, but surely that's irrelevant). The best example, however, has to be The Cardboard Box (tm).
    • This may have led to Raikov's re-appearance in Portable Ops, this time as a playable character, who despite having limited relevance to the main story, ended up having more lines than in Metal Gear Solid 3.
      • You forgot Raikov's main purpose: To mock Raiden.
    • The AI Colonel is so popular that he's basically entirely eclipsed the actual Colonel in terms of personality and memorability. Even in Super Smash Bros Brawl and Metal Gear Solid 4, there were references to the AI Colonel (in 4, this meant an Easter Egg flashback of something Snake couldn't possibly have known about), and the real Colonel's personality was changed to be a little more Cloudcuckoolander to bring it in line with the AI Colonel. The AI Colonel is probably the only thing about Metal Gear Solid 2 that even its detractors liked.
    • Revolver Ocelot, a consumate Magnificent Bastard turned Breakout Villain, and Butt Monkey Johnny Sasaki.
  • Although they only appeared in two games, the Dynamic Duo of Suikoden, 'Blue Lightning' Flik and Boisterous Bruiser Viktor, remain as fan favorites and fans have been wishing that if the chronological setting is correct, they would reappear again. Too bad Konami never thought of that since their last appearance (though, they did get some mention in the third game).
  • Sergeant Major Avery Johnson from the Halo series of videogames started out as an expendable, randomly spawned Marine. In Halo 2, he is promoted three pay grades at once, from Staff Sergeant to Sergeant Major, hailed as the only survivor besides the Master Chief of the events of the first Halo (despite the presence throughout the game of Gunnery Sergeant Stacker and PFC Chips Dubbo, two other Marine survivors). In Halo 3, Johnson heroically sacrifices himself so Chief can destroy the Flood. There were many Manly Tears during that scene.
    • Notable about Stacker and Dubbo is that, like Wedge, they both live through the whole trilogy.
    • The ODSTs deserve some respect. It's even noted that the employees at Bungie consider these guys to be their favorites. With a name like "Orbital Drop Shock Troopers", what's not to like? They even got their own Gaiden Game.
  • The World Ends With You has Sho Minamimoto, by virtue of being the quirkiest of the game's Quirky Miniboss Squad... and possessing a freakin' sweet hat, which you can equip yourself for a big ability boost before the Final Boss battle.
    • Kariya's almost as popular as Minamimoto, and his role is even more minor.
  • Organization XIII from the Kingdom Hearts series, especially Breakout Character Axel. See also Draco in Leather Pants.
    • An even bigger Ensemble Darkhorse is Demyx. While Axel does play a prominent role in Chain of Memories, Demyx plays an extremely minor role in the story compared to Axel. (He basically exists to steal the Olympus Stone, and to put an actual boss battle before the 1000 Heartless Fight.) Despite dying relatively early in the game, he has one of the largest fan followings in the game.
      • This may be partly because Demyx, during the second fight against him, is a Boss among Bosses. Especially surprising since right up until that fight he seemed like such a wuss.
      • Demyx got a good deal of help in the characterization department when they let Kenichi Suzumura voice him in the Japanese version. Originally, his role was even smaller but Suzumura was allowed to ad-lib and helped expand the character, and even came up with his distinctive death cry.
    • Another example is Zexion. Despite only appearing in a few scenes for Riku's story in Chain of Memories, being killed off by Axel (off-screen in the original, too) before the end of the story and all in all being unimportant, he has several fanlistings, dozens of fanfics devoted to him and quite a large amount of fanart. The reason beind this is pretty obvious.
  • It is practically a given that in Fate/stay night fandom, Archer has more fans than Shirou. This is hilarious because Archer is Shirou.
    • The release of Unlimited Blade Works, however, may also put Lancer in this position. Sfter the release, a lot of message boards (those who played UBW) were saying "Lancer is more GAR than Archer!" And yes, he's never alive by the end of any scenarios like Archer.
    • Rider as well. It's too bad she gets so little screen time even in the route focusing on her and Sakura as the heroines.
    • Playable Caster of Fate Extra likely qualifies. She's barely promoted at all, but she's only a little behind Saber in terms of popularity in Japan, and probably surpasses her by a large margin in the west.
    • To a more minor degree, Assassin. Many people find his calmness and his katana and the way he was able to stand up to Saber despite his limitations far more awesome than any of the above. And then, of course, there's the music that plays during his fight with Saber in the Fate route.
  • It could be considered a Touhou tradition for at least one Ensemble Darkhorse to arise per game:
    • The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has Hong Meiling, who for a long while was the most popular minor character that was never playable. After several debates about what to call her (which ended with everyone calling her "China") she garnered enough popularity that, at one point, she took the top spot in the game's equivalent of Saimoe. Her popularity led to her being included as a playable character in the first fighting Gaiden Game of the series, but due to her Butt Monkey status she became a Joke Character with no role in the storyline, and with Hisoutensoku returned to playable status as well as finally getting her own story route (she still didn't escape being a Butt Monkey, though).
      • Cirno is THE Ensemble Darkhorse of Touhou, Memetic Mutation (she's the strongest and a genius!) propelling her into perpetual stardom amongst the fans. This led not only to her being playable in Hisoutensoku but also one of only three with a story route (along with Meiling and Sanae), and with Great Fairy Wars managed to get her very own game.
      • Cute, destructive Flandre Scarlet is featured just as much, if not more, in fan works than the other members of the Koumakan Cast Herd, despite appearing in a grand total of one game (and one Gaiden Game that no-one liked).
      • And then there's that "little devil" that appeared as a midboss in Patchouli's stage. No dialogue. No name. No profile. Immensely popular. Not quite as popular is the similarly unnamed fairy that appears as the Stage 2 midboss, though that's due almost entirely to her portrayal as being a friend of Cirno (see above).
    • Perfect Cherry Blossom has the Prismriver Sisters. They would later return in Phantasmagoria of a Flower View and frequently appear in various fanworks.
      • Lily White, a midboss of PCB, also a special Mook in Phantasmagoria of Flower View, is exceptional enough to have received her own profile in Perfect Memento in a Strict Sense (read: official material)! Ran and Chen are debatable depending whether you view Yukari's shikigami as side characters or not. Alice would be considered an Ascended Extra.
    • Imperishable Night has Tewi Inaba, and arguably Fujiwara no Mokou. Even more arguable is Reisen, which depends on whether you view her as a main character or a side character.
    • Phantasmagoria of Flower View has Yuuka Kazami, who is a debatable example as while most of her fans are only familiar with her brief appearance in one game she was also the final boss of Lotus Land Story and playable in Mystic Square (though even that is debatable, as ZUN hasn't confirmed if they're the same character or just him being nostalgic).
      • Also from PoFV, "sunfower fairy". While being just a Giant Mook, she does have some popularity and fanart.
    • Mountain of Faith has Nitori Kawashiro to a limited degree, especially after her appearance as a supporting character in the following game. Momiji Inubashiri as well, another nameless, dialogueless, official-artless midboss who has as much fanart as most of the main playable characters.
    • Subterranean Animism has both Parsee Mizuhashi and Yuugi Hoshiguma. May have something to do with the incredible amount of people that pair them together.
    • Undefined Flying Object has Kogasa Tatara. Partly due to the fanbase quickly latching onto her when the demo was first released, partly due to being the only character not connected to the game's plot at all, mostly due to being immensely cute and pitiable.
    • And now Ten Desires has Yoshika Miyako, the Chinese zombie with an invisible steering wheel and the latest Touhou Ear Worm as her theme.
    • There are some PC-98 darkhorses as well. They were not necessarily such when they were released, but once Touhou gained its memetic popularity people decided to look at the earlier games and decided these characters need to come back. Mima is persistently on the top of the charts of PC-98 character that needs to come back, being formerly playable, connected to secondary protagonist Marisa, and having mysteries about her backstory and nature. Next in line is Shinki, mostly because she may be popular character Alice's mother. Finally Elly get this because of the "Bad Apple" meme - it's based off her stage theme from Lotus Land Story.
  • Tokimeki Memorial had Miharu Tatebayashi, a sweet Shrinking Violet who often crashes into the main guy as a hidden character, but she became extremely popular with gamers. Similarly, assistant Saki Nijino also became very well-loved within fandom, often scoring 1st place in character polls and as such became the heroine of the 1st Drama Series game ; and add to the list Ayako Katagiri, who was popular enough to be the heroine of the 2nd Drama Series game.
  • Arguably, Chihiro from Persona 3. She's the only character who returns Older and Wiser in Persona 4, and while she is a Social Link, she's not even a party member! It's probably the glasses... or her Shrinking Violet with slight dashes of Yandere streak.
    • Elizabeth as well. In the original release, she was mostly a side-quest hub character, but she gathered enough popularity to receive a fully voice acted personal side-quest in the Updated Rerelease which ends with her and the main character sleeping together!. She also obtained additional quests and dialogue, and was another of the few characters from Persona 3 to receive a Shout-Out in Persona 4 through her sister, Margaret.
    • Both of them pale in comparison to Badass Longcoat Shinjiro Aragaki, who stands as a fan-favorite party member despite only being available for a small fraction of the game. Unsurprisingly, when the PSP update of the game added the option of playing as a female protagonist, Shinji was not only made a possible love interest, but maxing out his Social Link provides an additional bonus: it saves him from his Plotline Death.
  • Persona 4 has Naoto Shirogane, who doesn't show up until midway through the game and only becomes a party member much later, who is popular for her status as a badass ace detective, her quiet intellect, her slight social ineptitude, and her androgyny.
  • Arguably, several of the main demons in the main Shin Megami Tensei have received this treatment. Notably, Mara, Matador and Alice. Mara, for being a Crazy Awesome Hurricane of Puns Giant Gag Penis, Matador for becoming THE representative of the series' trademark bosses, and Alice is a Little Miss Badass who just wants you... to Die for Her!
  • Anthony Carmine in Gears of War, a Red Shirt killed early in the campaign and also present in multiplayer mode became very popular. In the sequel, Carmine was brought back - or more specifically, his brother, Ben Carmine who has a similar personality He dies as well although he was given more screen time and a dramatic, emotive, death unlike Anthony.
    • From the Locust side we have General RAAM. Despite appearing only about three times in the first game and having a much smaller role than Skorge and Myrrah. He is so popular that the next DLC for the third game is a single player prequel story where RAAM returns.
    • Among the weapon selection, the Gnasher Shotgun seemingly acquired Ensemble Darkhorse status. It's fairly obvious that the Lancer and its Chainsaw Bayonet, the signature weapons of the series, were intended to be the weapon people relied on most. However, the shotgun was so strong that 90% of the community used it exclusively, and foamed at the mouth when Epic tweaked it in the sequel.
      • And then continued to use it.
  • Apparently, No More Heroes fans seem to love Letz Shake. His status as Ensemble Darkhorse is especially noteworthy in that you don't even get to fight him despite his seemingly very powerful Dr. Shake weapon; Henry kills him in one blow, and doesn't even give you the courtesy of a replacement boss to fight.
    • This has been rectified in the sequel. Letz Shake and Dr. Shake have combined to form Dr. Letz Shake. Now with awesome new Verbal Tic. Exclamation mark.
    • There's also Bad Girl, one of the most recognizable characters from the first game, probably for being the most psychotic (and having an awesome theme song.) Also, being hot.
    • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has Margaret. Reaper, reaper that's what people call me...
    • From the first game, we also have Mister Sir Henry Motherfucker (Travis' twin brother and the True Final Boss) and Scarlet Jacobs aka Shinobu (the Rank 8 assassin). Their popularity pays off, as they're both briefly playable in Desperate Struggle.
    • If the staggering amount of fanart and cosplays are anything to go by, Dr. Naomi is quite loved by the fanbase. Half the reason due to her knockers and all the cool stuff that she provides Travis, including a giant mecha.
  • Valkyria Chronicles is prone to this, since every single grunt character has their own appearance, animations, voice sets, personality, and personal biography. This can lead to some players becoming attached to some of the grunts even more than the main characters themselves! The best example would be Edy Nelson, an Unknown Rival to main character Rosie who dreams of becoming a Glamorous Wartime Singer. She has more fanart than any other character, with the exception of Selvaria (a Darkhorse in her own right), and she and Selvaria have entire side chapters dedicated to them as downloadable content!
  • Castlevania's Alucard, who wasn't that much noticed in his debut, but when he appeared in Symphony of the Night as a heroic, conflicted Badass White-Haired Pretty Boy, his popularity skyrocketed so much that he is the only being to ever rival (or surpass) the Belmont clan in terms of popularity.
  • Looking back at the Shining series, if there is one character who receives considerable popularity, it's none other than Shining Tears' token ice witch Blanc Neige. She is often hailed as one of the best NPCs to have around (despite being squishy) and possesses a skill that is extremely useful, and many fawn over seeing how she starts out super aloof and bitchy, then warms up and lets out a very cute smile if paired at the ending. Maybe she's not the true main character, but she stands out as the character who received the most fanarts, and also escaped the 'cut', appearing in the crossover with Shining Winds. And if there's one more factor to her popularity, it's her voice in the game, in the Japanese version. She's voiced by none other than Megumi Hayashibara herself.f
    • From the sequel to Tears, Shining Wind, we have Tetsu Inada's own beast king Rouen. He's a Badass who is also a pirate and a king of a Chinese based kingdom.
    • An older example back from the Genisis days would be the Kiwi, an optional character from Shining force 2. His stats asside from phisyical defense is poor and Magic will inevitiably one hit kill him every time. He is a bit of a Magikarp Power type if you level him to his promotion level he gains the ability of flight and breathing fire!... but even with this he's still likely to be instant killed by magic due to his horrible HP. Despite this many players will use him through the whole game, giving him nearly all of the stat boosting items to keep him on par with the rest of the force.
  • Don't ask us how, but the pre-packaged Frances Worthington III, a student from The Sims 2: University somehow developed a small cult that's absolutely obsessed with him. Per the strangeness that is TS 2 fandom, you can't quite tell how serious they really are about it.
  • A number of Pop'n Music 's many, many, MANY characters have more fans than mascots Nyami and Mimi; Milk, MZD, and Minit's, just to name a few.
  • Silent Hill has the one and only Pyramid Head. Most likely due to being an utterly terrifying Implacable Man (and Memetic Molester, though surely that's irrelevant) and frequent threat in the most popular and acclaimed of the games, he/it/whatever is iconic to the series. Origins and Homecoming both feature Expys of him, and despite being unrelated to the plot his appearance in The Movie was almost as well-publicised as the film itself.
  • Earthbound brings us the New Age Retro Hippie, a minor enemy.
    • The Mother series has Loads And Loads Of Quirky NPCs, so it's got a few darkhorses. Compare Tony's prominence in fanart to his actual role, for example.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has Ruby Heart and Amingo, who are original characters. They managed to appear in the SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash series, though.
    • And Strider Hiryu, who's one of the most requested characters for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, thanks to his previous appearances. To give you an idea, he ended in third place in one of Capcom's poll for favourite Marvel vs. Capcom/Street Fighter characters, with Mega Man and Poison before him. That doesn't sound all that good, until you realize that the poll featured exactly 111 characters.
      • This actually seems to have paid off in Hiryu's favor. While he didn't make the cut (due to licensing issues) for MvC3, fan demand almost singlehandedly ensured that he'd be joining the roster of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
  • In the SSX games, Psymon Stark. Not only is he one of the more popular characters due to his out-there personality, he's the only one of the new characters introduced in SSX Tricky to return in any of the later games.
  • Uzuki from Akai Ito, the resident Tall, Dark and Bishoujo. In an official poll asking which couple was the most popular, Uzuki and the main character Kei ended up as number one.
  • Minsc (and Boo!) from the Baldur's Gate series. Practically the series' mascot character(s).
    • The main reason for this is because his legendary Cloudcuckoolander tendencies (mostly by relying on Boo to do any thinking beyond "hitting bad guy with BFS") backed up by being a living wall of ham.
    • They even got a shout out in Mass Effect 2 with Tali having a combat line referencing one of Minsc's and a purchasable space hamster for your quarters.
    • To some, the paladin Keldorn attains this status for the simple virtue of being one of the few D&D paladins ever who manages to avert all their most common flaws.
  • May Greenfield, from Armored Core For Answer. Practically no characterization, is an entirely optional wigman, and is never seen outside of her mech, but AC fandom in general and 4chan's /m/ in particular have fallen in love with the cheerful teenage girl in the bright green Engine of Destruction.
    • Whose logo is a smiley face. Unsurprisingly, (fan) depiction of her is with green hair. And busty.
    • From the same franchise is Nineball. No player may consider themselves true AC fans if they don't know Nineball, owing to the fact that everyone has had their asses handed to them once by this guy and he won't hesitate to do it again.
    • Stinger,while not as popular,has his fans as well.
  • She may not be loved (or maybe she is?) but Satsuki of Tsukihime gets an inordinate amount of attention simply because she didn't get any (mind out of gutter please) in the game itself. Enough attention that Type Moon eventually declared that in the remake her route will actually be available.
  • In The Legend of Spyro, Cynder is regarded as this by over half the fandom. The other half... errrrm...
    • In the original trilogy, Bianca counts.
    • Greta, Bentley, and Sgt. Byrd in the second and third games. Trigger Happy, Terrafin, and Gill Grunt from Skylanders
  • The Punch Out series has Warmup Boss Glass Joe, who is almost literally the series' punching bag, having a career record of 1-99. Perhaps it's his Woobieness that's garnered him such a fanbase; perhaps it's due to the surprisingly difficult battle against him in the Wii game's Title Defense mode. Either way, Joe is perhaps the most popular character in the series, and many fans want him to have his own game.
    • Also Aran Ryan.
  • Ironically, Charon, a ghoul, is one of the most fangirled characters in Fallout 3.
    • On the same note, the Enclave (the antagonists of Fallout 2 and 3) has a huge fanbase.
    • Don't forget to mention Dogmeat.
    • Who can forget about Argyle? Poor guy...
    • No love for LIBERTY PRIME (caps and bold a must)? Nothing this guy does cannot be considered awesome.
    • What about Vault boy or Pipboy or whathever you call him? No love?
    • How in the HELL did we forget Harold?
    • Boone, from New Vegas is somewhere between this and Memetic Badass. On a more general note, the First Recon Snipers are pretty popular.
    • Yes-Man.
    • Veronica has also become quite popular.
    • Ulysess. Legion deserter who intends to fire a nuke at whomever the player character sides with in-story (3 times out of four, he'll want to nuke the NCR).
  • Bang Shishigami is one of the more unexpectedly popular characters in Blaz Blue. At first it appeared as though he was going to be a ripoff of Chipp Zanuff. By the time the Arcade game came out, he was highly-praised for his hammily over-the-top hilariousness. He's practically a living Shout-Out to every manly Shonen character designed in the past two decades of Anime history. This is quite surprising that he's usually seen as a clown in-universe (who likes bitching on him) as well as not even considered 'important' by ASW themselves (he's considered weaker than Carl, of all people, as a vigilante), although that may change in the future due to story progression. He also enjoys a lot of fanworks by the fans.
  • Also, Taokaka. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that there isn't a single person who hates her, due to her established reputation for being a walking Crowning Moment of Funny. She even lampshades her status in a Gag Reel when she said "Hey, Tao's not at fault because Tao is a fan favorite."
  • Makoto Nanaya was originally an NPC who only appeared in a few cutscenes, an old friend of Noel's from the academy. Like Tao, she was ditzy, Fun Personified and rather cute, so she was quite well-received. And then she was announced as a playable DLC character with a Stripperiffic new outfit. And the Fandom Rejoiced.
  • Amongst NPC's, Kokonoe and Jubei are darkhorses too. Kokonoe is well loved for her utter snarkiness and the hilarity she brought in 'Help me! Professor Kokonoe!', although her darker, Slippery Slope Jumping actual story has also earned her haters. Jubei is universally liked simply because he's probably the only Six Heroes with the least mental problems or emotional baggage and the closest they can get for a Big Good.
  • Relius is shaping up to be this, gaining a huge amount of popularity just after becoming a playable character. Oh, and this is despite being an Affably Evil Complete Monster who performs Mind Rape For Science!. This is probably because despite his status as an important Big Bad Duumvirate, he wasn't as oversatured in attention as compared to Hazama (who has slowly lost his favor over time and is being accused as a Villain Sue), nor was the main concern of the main hero (Ragna), thus fulfilling the Dark Horse qualificatons.
  • Perhaps the strangest Ensemble Darkhorse of them all is the fluffy white dog in the background of one of the stages, notable for barking it's head off and being absolutely adorable.
  • Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War has a couple. First, Ork Warboss Gorgutz Headhunta, who debuted in Winter Assault as the leader of the Orks during that expansion and a textbook example of Laughably Evil. He subsequently returned for Dark Crusade, where his popularity only grew, and Soulstorm, which... most people pretend never happened. Second, Chaos Lord Eliphas the Inheritor of the Word Bearers Legion, a suave and witty evil overlord who graced Dark Crusade but seemed doom to dead in canon... until he showed up in the trailer for Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising and has been confirmed as a major adversary in the expansion's campaign.
  • Yume Nikki has Uboa, the Grim Reaper-like mask thing. And that's not all. Given that the only real "character" is the protagonist herself, the fandom has latched on to a lot of random NPCs and made them its favorites. The usual suspects are: Uboa, Poniko (Uboa's "normal" form as a blonde girl), Masada (a tall figure dressed all in black, sitting in front of a keyboard in a spaceship, with googly eyes), Monoko (a sweet Joshikosei who turns into Body Horror incarnate in the presence of the "Stoplight" effect), and Kyunkyun-kun (a happy rainbow-colored blob who loves to rub poles, and that is not a euphemism).
  • Basso The Boxman from the Thief games has exactly two canonical appearances: In the first game he's in Cragscleft Prison, and Garrett- who had to break into the prison for unrelated reasons- rescues him in exchange for a valuable nonmonetary reward from Basso's sister. In a mission from the sequel Garrett, somewhat against his better judgement, assists Basso in rescuing a indentured servant that Basso's fallen in love with from her cruel mistress. For some reason, Fan Mission community liked Basso and he gets used as a plot device of creators. Eventually, Fanon evolved that established him as a hapless, bumbling individual who was nevertheless Garrett's only true friend in a Crapsack World of trecherous allies and manipulative organizations.
    • From the same game series, there's Benny, the incompetent and usually-drunk guardsman. Though he's more of a Running Gag...
  • The Mass Effect series, especially the second episode. Disregarding the party members, most of whom would qualify as darkhorses if they didn't have to share the spotlight with each other, we have a slew of One Scene Wonders like Aethyta the bartender (and asari matriarch), Gianna Parasini, the crime boss Aria T'Loak, Charr the krogan who attempts to woo his Asari girlfriend with (bad) poetry, the Tupari Sports Drink vending machine on the Citadel, "Refund Guy" in both games (he still hasn't gotten his refund, after two years!), Conrad Verner (who is also The Scrappy to a part of the fanbase, though), the Friend Zoned Turian and Valley Girl Quarian on Illium, the "Biotic God" volus Niftu Cal, Kal'Reegar (who has his own twitter page now!), Shiala, Urz the varren, and especially Blasto the Hanar Spectre.
    • Ken and Gabby, the engineers on the Normandy and the main reason you should go into the Omega 4 relay right away after they are kidnapped.
      • I like to think, even though he was kidnapped by them, Ken did manage to kick one Collector right in the daddybags.
    • Mass Effect 3 doesn't have a Final Boss in the traditional sense, so the final enemy ends up being a Marauder, not really different than any of the other ones that you fight throughout the game. He's become very popular, and has been given the nickname Marauder Shields.
    • Refund Guy comes back in 3. He finally gets his refund of fifteen credits. The clerk says he's never seen someone so dedicated over a toaster.
  • Jackle from NiGHTS Into Dreams. This card-throwing maniac has become so popular that even newer fans of the NiGHTS series who never played the original game love him to pieces.
  • Battle Garegga has Black Heart, the boss of Stage 5 and the second-to-last boss, and it's even more popular than Glow Squid; in fact, on the Japanese That Other Wiki, the Battle Garegga page has a whole section for Black Heart. Its owes its popularity to how much harder it is compared to the past four bosses when you first encounter it, and a very major scoring trick you can exploit when you encounter it a second time. It was popular enough that in the Spiritual Successor Armed Police Batrider, it appears as a Bonus Boss twice.
    • Also, the Stage 2 flamingoes. Part of a high-scoring secret, the flamingoes have become very popular amongst Garegga fans, despite being little sprites that have no relevance to the protagonists or antagonists.
  • One of the most popular and interesting characters in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is not a playable character, but rather a shopkeeper of all things. Veola, the owner of the magic shop in the first town you visit becomes the most captivating and fleshed out character in the game as the plot progresses. The character in question is also the subject of some fan fiction.
  • Achmed Khan from Backyard Sports. Originally, he was just a regular playable character who was not on any of the artwork of the first few games. But he got a massive fanbase, mostly due to his guitar-player wannabe personality. This probably led to his inclusion as a playable character in Backyard Skateboarding, and (unfortunately) his Flanderization.
  • Sengoku Basara is a series rife with Yaoi Fangirls for fans. However, there is one figure that stands to be very popular amongst the boys, and that is... Oichi. Her charm is just how tragic she ends up in her life, with her whole story being a huge Tear Jerker. She also has the voice of Mamiko Noto, and with some other things, she became the series' dear girl and even when Sengoku Basara 3 is announced to have some characters, especially those close to Nobunaga, to be cut... when asked about Oichi's eventual fate, the producers always say "I'm not telling" to tease the fans. Oh, and she's also the sole playable female in the fighting game spinoff. And now she is confirmed to be playable in SB3, despite being historically LONG DEAD before Sekigahara even begins (but then again, this game really doesn't care about historical accuracy, so she's there by popular demand). And then, it gets even better in English when she gets one of the recently popular voice actress to voice her: Laura Bailey.
  • Captain Qwark from Ratchet and Clank. He was only meant to feature in the first game, but fan reaction was so good that Qwark was made the villain for the second game and became a recurring anti-hero Butt Monkey thereafter.
  • The two sets of .hack// games have each had at least one Darkhorse: Cheerful Child Mistral for the first four (popular enough that she got to appear in the Sign epilogue, the only not-plot-important character to do so), and Proud Warrior Alkaid for GU.
  • Sly Cooper has The Murray and Bently, Sly's sidekicks in the first game, who get a major promotion into playable characters in the second and third game.
    • Being the protagonist's sidekicks, however, it's understandable that they would have a pretty good fanbase. Dimitri, on the other hand...
      • What about him? His suit is greasy sweet! His ridiculous mannerisms and oddball use for the Clockwerk tailfeathers (plates in a counterfeit money machine?) made him so popular that he managed to worm his way into the Cooper Gang in the third game.
      • He also appeared in the official E3 trailer for the fourth game, no doubt leading to massive amounts of Squeeing in the fandom.
    • Also Muggshot and Panda King, to the point where they would later reappear in the third game.
  • City of Heroes has quite a few. There's Ghost Widow, an attractive undead right-hand woman to Lord Recluse (mainly popular for being the only character in the game with animated hair), the Memetic Badass Blue Steel, and new character Desdemonda, made to showcase the Going Rogue expansion. Desdemonda's case was helped by her portrayal at HeroCon by a tall and attractive model.
    • While the Korean version of the game failed, the characters created for it proved surprisingly popular, especially Mr. Fanservice Foreshadow and Sword and Gun user Spark Blade. Good aversions of Captain Ethnic.
  • The Jak and Daxter series has a few, but the most surprisingly popular character has to be Jinx. He only appeared in three missions in the ENTIRE series.
  • Of the Loads and Loads of Characters in the The King of Fighters metaseries, two characters are apparent standouts among the fandom: bouncy Fatal Fury 2 starlet Mai Shiranui; and Shermie, the lone female member of the Orochi Saga's "New Faces" team. Mai has been a regular member of the roster in every game except for XII, and Shermie is the only character from her team to appear in a crossover game (Neo Geo Battle Coliseum). That both characters are fanservice on two legs in addition to being decent fighters may have played a part in their popularity.
  • Everyone in the Metroid fanbase loves Ridley, the iconic Space Dragon.
    • Kraid may also qualify.
    • Upon revelation of Metroid: Other M everyone seems to love Anthony Higgs who at the time fans nicknamed him MBD (Mysterious Black Dude).
    • Rundas, the ice-based alien bounty hunter of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption certainly has a large following. Most likely because 1) cool powers; 2) his voice and personality; 3) twice he rescues Samus, once from several Pirate shuttles and the other from falling to her death after battling Meta Ridley; 4) out of the three hunters, he seemed to be able to control his corruption the best, well enough in fact that Dark Samus had to take control of him herself to fight Samus; 5) his hauntingly sad and beautiful boss theme.
    • Of all the bounty hunters that appeared in Metroid Prime: Hunters, Sylux, only referred to as an 'it' seem to be the most popular. And the ship that appears to follow Samus in the Metroid Prime 3 ending looks very similiar to Sylux'.
  • In Okami, the Ensemble Darkhorse is probably Oki, who is very much of a Badass, take into account he has one of the best fights in the game, is probably one of the characters with the most personality, and he can turn into a Big Badass Wolf, yeah, he's that awesome. Waka probably counts too.
    • Tobi is also very popular, despite showing up for only one dungeon and in essence being A piece of paper.
  • Phantasmagoria 2 has Trevor, the gay guy who was the only person Spoony didn't want to see die horribly.
  • Eversion might have not won the Commonplace Book competition at the Tig Source Forums, but became more popular than Verge (the winner) and From Primordial Egg (2nd place; Eversion was the third). Apparentely, it all began when the game got posted at the VG Cats homepage...
  • F-Zero GX/AX gave us the AX racers. Each are unique in every way possible from the already massive set of 30 unique racers.
  • Assassin's Creed gave the gaming public Malik, Jerusalem quest giver. He has established himself as a fan favourite, mainly for being bitter, sarcastic, and delightfully mean to Altair.
    • Even more extreme is his brother Kadar, who exists only to get fridged fifteen minutes into the game. He still gets into a lot of fanart.
    • Cesare Borgia garnered this, mostly for being a male example of Evil Is Sexy it seems. Deviantart has lots of fanarts showing him molesting Ezio or the poor, scared shitless Leonardo Da Vinci.
    • Damascus' Rafiq (who apparently has no name). He's a...talkative, odd sort of guy.

 Rafiq D: Whose life do you come to collect today?

Altaïr: His name is Abu'l Nuqoud.

Rafiq D: Oh, the Merchant King of Damascus! Richest man in the city! Quite exciting, quite dangerous! I envy you, Altaïr--well, not the bit where you were beaten and stripped of your rank--but I envy everything else! Oh, except for the terrible things the other assassins say about you; but yes, aside from the failure and the hatred, yes, aside from those things, I envy you very much!

Altaïr: If you're finished...

  • Scorpion and Sub-Zero are among the most popular characters in the Mortal Kombat series. At one point, a lot of the newer characters (Smoke, Ermac, Noob Saibot, etc.) were directly based off their character models. In fact, Noob was later revealed to be the original Sub-Zero after the younger Sub-Zero (debuting in II) made his first unmasked appearance in Mortal Kombat 3.
  • Meii from Beyond Good and Evil is one of the more popular characters in the fandom, following only behind the main characters. She's liked far more than her fellow NPCs in the game's Mission Control. However, she's also a voluptuous, blue-furred Catgirl, which explains a lot.
  • Several in the Deus Ex series, especially with (optional-encounter) characters who have much more backstory and impact than meets the eye:
    • The Morpheus AI in the original game is an optional encounter that is "rewarded" by picking a few locks (that you may have spent as much as or more time doing, depending on how you did it and your skills) and an insignificant number of skill points. The conversation he has with the protagonist is considered one of the game's most interesting conversations, raising some interesting philosophical ideas. One of the games most quoted lines is the AI's idea that "God was a dream of good government".
    • The NSF soldier you find locked up in the UNATCO secure holding facility when JC is imprisoned a third of the way through the game. Despite the fact that nothing in the game indicates you should go out of your way to save him, he's a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and you don't get any reward for helping him get to the Liberty Island helipad besides his thanks and a mention that he can "make it from here", many players choose to save him rather than leave him behind (and spent the whole time escorting him) because the character is ridiculously charismatic and innocent.
    • Aimee, the homeless woman you meet when you first go to Paris, who asks you to kill the greasels who murdered several of her cats. The character has received a Memetic Mutation for her victory cry (when you complete the missions) of "You saved mah kittehs!" in a heavily-accented French voice.
    • The Omar in Invisible War, a Social Darwinist Cyborg Hive Mind that maintains the game's Black Market. This is most likely due to their interesting appearance and the Omar Trader's awesome voice.
    • Malik in Human Revolution, who mostly exists as your comm support, but proved to be so popular that players would go back and replay the Hong Kong crash mission to save her life (and prevent her from being killed and harvested for augs).
  • And don't even get us started on Pokémon:
    • Well for starters, there's Joey, whose Rattata is in "THE TOP PERCENTAGE OF ALL RATTATA!"
    • Of course, there's also Memetic Molester Brock, who really wanted to be a Pokemon breeder... Breeding.
    • The rivals of each game usually fall under this, but arguably Blue/Green most of all. Smell ya later!
    • Spinoff game Pokémon Colosseum has Miror B. Crazy Awesome, literal Disco Stu with a Pokeball-shaped afro as the first villain teams boss. He never cares about his duties as boss of a crime syndicate and prefers to practice his dance moves. He also comes with his latino sounding battle theme and got a second appearance in the sequel where you could battle him as often as you want (or until you got all the Shadow Pokemon, whichever came first).
    • The homeless fat guys that usually hang around starter towns and rave about technology. No seriously, just listen to starter town tunes on Youtube, and count how many times you see someone comment on the fat guy standing there. He has become epic, in his own right.
    • In a similar vein, the guys that greet the players in every Gym with "Yo! Champ in the making!" Until the 4th gen... It's unclear if it's a different guy each time or the same one, but either way, he's as beloved as the fat technology guy.
    • And that's not even going into the Pokemon themselves. There's Pikachu itself, who was just a normal Pokemon until its popularity made it the mascot of the franchise. Even though nowadays it's more of a Base Breaker, and the core fanbase tends to prefer other Mons due to the increased emphasis on the games[5] rather than the anime[6], it's still the most recognized character in the whole franchise, and what usually comes to mind when one brings up "Pokemon".
    • Meowth, similarly for his noteworthy role in the anime. Truth be told anything associated with Team Rocket is going to end up with this status.
    • In Japan, Jigglypuff is the next most popular (or at least it was during the early days of the franchise, earning it a playable spot in Super Smash Bros.; it's hard to tell nowadays). Overseas, that spot likely belongs to Charizard (who was recently voted 1st place in an IGN popularity poll spanning all 649 Pokemon!); starters in general are usually loved by the fanbase.
    • Lucario is also this, but is also a Base Breaker (mainly among those who dislike the later generations).
    • As far as Legendaries go, there's Mewtwo, the original Uber and seen by many as still the best Pokemon, as well as Lugia, the mascot of Silver/SoulSilver; both Silver versions sold more than Gold and HeartGold, the only times the second" version sold more than the "first" one.
      • Really, search Lugia and Ho-Oh on any art site, and Lugia is pretty much guaranteed to get around double the results. Even more significant when you consider that Ho-Oh had much more of a push for him: he was the first Legendary to appear (in the first episode, before his generation was even around), he has more connection with the plot (Ho-Oh is in the middle of a city, Lugia is in the depths of an out-of-the-way island) and other Legendaries of Gold and Silver (being responsible for the creation of three of the new Legendaries), and he was generally built up as the symbol of Generation 2. In the face of all this, Lugia became the most popular by a long shot.
        • Lugia got its own movie and had an actual role in the anime when Ho-Oh only made an appearance in one episode.
        • It usually does help when you're better in the metagame, however.
      • Similarly, Zekrom is easily the most popular Unova Pokémon (rather than Lucario's own Expy, Zoroark). Especially in America; in the aformentioned IGN popularity poll, despite Black and White being completely new in the States, Zekrom managed to break the Top 10.
    • "Hi! I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!" A "Youngster" character saying something along those lines have appeared in ever single game since he first was introduced.
    • Leaf, the Distaff Counterpart to Red, hasn't appeared in any game besides her debut and is mostly forgotten by Game Freak nowadays but has quite the following. People are always begging for her to cameo or be fightable in games, potentially being a higher level then Red too.
    • Misty and Brock are this in the games due to their anime and Pokémon Special counterparts.
    • In Japan, the Subway Masters Ingo and Emmet from Black and White are ridiculously popular, ranking second and third on a recent popularity poll despite not having any major role in the story.
    • Elesa and Skyla, two gym leaders from Black and White are also popular despite not being more important than any of the other gym leaders. They were even ranked fifth and fourth respectively in the most recent populartity poll.
    • Cynthia, the first female champion from Diamond and Pearl has also become quite popular. She's managed to appear in HeartGold and SoulSilver and Black and White which isn't bad considering that Pokemon has non-linear sequels.
    • Butterfree. That is all.
      • Beedrill as well. Despite Beedrill is even useless than Butterfree.
  • Puyo Puyo has Draco Centauros. She was just a random Mook and actually the first (normal) enemy, but was so liked she got upgraded to one of the hardest enemies in the sequel and then to outright a playable character with her own story mode along Schezo. Then the frachise reboot came and all old characters were gone (immediately qualifying for this trope). Then they made 15th anniversary, which brought up the old main cast and a few others... but not her. Fan reaction managed to bring her back up for the next game... And even have other two other fan-favorite characters make a cameo!
    • There's also Witch, who was so popular back in the old Puyo-days that she was given her own PC game provided by Compile Discstation Magazine. This game's claimed as the most best Discstation games out there.
    • Well, what isn't awesome about witches who can summon stars and meteors at their opponent?
      • Both returned for the 20nth Anniversary game of Puyo Puyo for DS, and became franchise staples from then onwards.
  • Main antagonist SHODAN from System Shock is definitely an example of this. She's the first thing anyone even thinks about when they think of the series. She's also scary.
  • The third season of the Sam and Max games introduces Sal, a six foot tall cockroach. Sounds disgustingly unappealing, right? Yet his kind, simple personality makes him such a likeable Gentle Giant that no one can help but love him, even Sam and Max themselves. People can't help but feel guilty when they have to beat the crap out of him later. Or when he dies. In a Heroic Sacrifice, Redemption Equals Death moment, but it's you who persuade him into it.
  • In Agarest Senki for the protagonists of the five generations, Thoma himself is the most well-liked of the 5 protagonists followed by Leo. For the other party members, we've got Fyuria, Valeria (enough to be brought back to Agarest 2), Silvi, and Murmina.
  • Kanpachi from Cave Story is merely a fishing Mimiga who isn't much important, until he manages to catch a key for you. Mirai Gamer fandom seems to raise him to Memetic Badass levels.
  • A notable one from Umineko no Naku Koro ni is Siesta 410 of the second Quirky Miniboss Squad. Really, her popularity is staggering. Probably the reason she's a playable character in the fighting game.
    • Magical Chef Gohda.
    • Hideyoshi as well. Featured as the series's resident Nice Guy, fans often complain about his lack of screentime/character development and dakimakura.
  • Tropers, I present to you the Toripo Appreciation Society.
  • Raven/Toona from Rune Factory 3. She's so popular that she beats out all the other female love interests in the series. Following her in a close second is Pia/Persia.
    • Raven's one of the four heroines in the first OP (alongside Marian, Karina, and Kuruna), she's the second heroine introduced, and she seems to be brought up in conversations a little more often than most of the other heroines. ("Isn't Raven adorable?") I don't think that her popularity came as a surprise to the creators. Pia and Sofia fit the "ensemble darkhorse" bill a little better.
  • Golden Sun has a few characters regarded this way, the best-known of whom is probably Kraden. Interesting because the series doesn't exactly focus on character development.
    • Saturos also has a great deal of popularity, despite dying in the first game and, you know, being a bad guy whose motivations weren't even clear until long after he was dead. Saturos was so popular that it caused fan hate for Agatio in The Lost Age, just because he wasn't Saturos.
    • In Dark Dawn, Sveta is actually the main focal point of the central plot. Kind of odd considering you don't recruit her until roughly half way through the game.
      • Sveta gets this from the fandom despite being the Spotlight-Stealing Squad of Dark Dawn. Because in stealing the show, she ended up with more Character Development than anybody else in the series thus far, and is a genuinely likeable character.
    • One of the series' most popular characters is its Big Bad, Alex/Arcanus. Mainly due to being a Magnificent Bastard who puts Saturos to shame, and being Dangerously Genre Savvy enough that he has managed to remain, after three whole games, The Unfought.
  • Curiously, Sid Meiers Pirates has an example of this that overlaps with Awesome Yet Practical: The Indian War Canoe. This is the tiniest, puniest ship in the game, used only by Indians to make raids against ports. However, in the hands of the player, it is a war machine - forgoing cannon-play entirely to go for a quick boarding, dodging between cannonballs. Players skilled with Fencing can pretty much defeat any ship this way, no matter how large, and very quickly the ship became a cult favourite, especially for playing at the highest difficulty levels.
  • Dragon Age Origins has a list of quirky party members, but it's Duncan who's the character that all the fans of the series love. A big reason because he was Too Cool to Live.
  • Herschel Biggs, Rusty Galloway and Malcolm Carruthers seem to be the most popular characters in the L.A. Noire fandom.
  • Ogura from the Starfy series. This made his Heroic Sacrifice in the third game even more depressing.
  • Fluffy from Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, to the point where she got a bigger role in Ty The Tasmanian Tiger 2 & 3. Sadly, she died in the ending of Ty 3.
    • Also Sly.
    • Rex, Ranger Ken, Maurice, and even JULIUS probably count.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia and its sequel, Noire is consistently at the number one polls. Appropriate, seeing as the game was released on the PlayStation 3 only. Falcom is also pretty popular amongst the cast despite the fact that at the time of this writing, she's not even released yet as a DLC character.
    • For the villains, Brave The Hard is the highest ranked among all of them, and for NPCs, it's Histoire.
  • Gilder and Ramirez from Skies of Arcadia both get this treatment at times.
  • The Soul Series series has Li Long (from Soul Edge/Soul Blade) due to his flashy moves, Hwang for being better than his replacement to the point where fans are petitioning him to be included in Soulcalibur V, and Talim due to her kind personality. Shura (from IV) is also very popular despite being a bonus character to the point where many fans were disappointed when she was confirmed not to be in V. Among the Guest Fighters, Link was the most well received by fans. Many even hope future installments of the series hit a Nintendo platform just so he can be included in it. He also singlehandedly ensured that the GameCube version of Soulcalibur II sold more than either the Play Station 2 or Xbox versions.
    • Ezio Auditore, the Guest Fighter in V, seems to have dethroned Link, believe it or not. In a series where guests (barring the aforementioned Link) are massive Base Breakers, not only is Ezio noted to be the first guest who completely fits the atmosphere of the series, but he is generating so much hype that he is creating a Just Here for Godzilla effect from both Soulcalibur and Assassin's Creed fans. To put this into perspective, his reveal trailer shows the return of series Big Bad Nightmare. Ezio completely steals the spotlight, to the point that Nightmare appears to just be an afterthought.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins gives us Guillo, Sagi's magical puppet sidekick. Aside from having several Game Breaker specials and items, Guillo is widely considered the best character in the game, being a hilarious Deadpan Snarker foil to Sagi, having a compelling backstory, and just generally being a total badass.
  • Crunch Bandicoot of the Crash Bandicoot series, a super buff bandicoot originally introduced as a Badass rival to the main character in Crash Bandicoot the Wrath of Cortex. Word of God claims Crunch's cameo in Crash Twinsanity was solely to appease his huge fanbase.
    • Tawna garnered a rather large fanbase, but appeared prominantly in only two games and made very minor cameos in others (due to the Creator Backlash concerning Executive Meddling bowdlerizing her original character design).

Notes

  1. fairly well-liked at the time of her debut, she was the only character introduced in 4 who returned before Armageddon, which required the presence of everyone due to the nature of the game (she was an unlockable character in Deception)
  2. Sub-Zero's Distaff Counterpart and Deceptive Disciple; her inclusion originally received much scorn (some even going as to say she'd "Ruined FOREVER Mortal Kombat"), but fans quickly warmed up to her
  3. the sexy, manipulative Vampiress with an intriguing appearance and backstory, but not much time to develop it further; in fact, a recent poll for which characters fans would like to see in MK10 held at this very wiki had Nitara place fourth (behind Rain, Kenshi, and Motaro), a fair bit ahead of other popular gals such as Sareena and Khameleon
  4. the Crazy Awesome, Cloudcuckoolander cleric of Chaos whose repertoire of techniques has him twist and contort his body in odd ways, such as snapping his own neck to regain health; he's also notable for this
  5. in which Pikachu and other creatures get roughly equal emphasis
  6. in which Pikachu has always been a one-Mon Spotlight-Stealing Squad
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