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Your favorite franchise is getting a new game! All of your favorite characters are returning again to kick each other's asses!
But wait a second, we all knew that Hero Guy was going to be in the game, but, One Episode Comic Relief Squid Guy!?! That's just crazy!
Welcome to The Unexpected, where a character that seems so strange, or not that well known will make an appearance in an installment, that it was not to be expected by anyone. Even the most diehard fans didn't expect these guys.
Sometimes these character choices are praised, bringing in a previously unknown character to recent audiences, others, somewhat controversial, especially if they make it in over an Ensemble Darkhorse...
Expect most of these to be fighting game examples. Guest Fighter can be considered a subtrope.
- The revival of Justice League International has Godiva, a very minor DC superheroine mostly remembered for being in the Global Guardians, a really minor DC superteam.
- Toy Story 3 has the title character from My Neighbor Totoro as one of Bonnie's toys. He's visible in a lot of shots but he's also completely voiceless.
- Bio Hunter Silva, a villain introduced late into Choudenshi Bioman, completely faded into obscurity after the series ended its run. However, around 30 years later, he has recently been added to the roster of a Super Sentai Legion of Doom during Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen, and, as the trailers imply, he's going to have a major role as well.
- Lots of unexpected characters pop up in the Warrior Cats novel The Last Hope, such as Redtail, Raggedstar and Mosskit. But almost nobody was expecting Brambleberry's cameo appearance at the beginning where she is one of the first cats to ever successfully give Jayfeather a lecture.
- Large-scale tours and festivals are bound to have this. Obviously everyone will know the headlining act, but when an unsigned band makes the line-up, people tend to scratch their heads (especially if they play the main-stage). For instance, Download Fest 2011, main stage with the likes of Def Leppard, System of a Down, Linkin Park and... The Pretty Reckless?
- Mass-artist compilations fall into this from time to time.
- In a media crossover-example, Rhythm Games probably get this sort of reaction when they announce the new setlist for their next title, such as with Rock Band 3 ("The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elton John and... Phoenix?").
- Street Fighter X Tekken has Cole Macgrath as part of its roster (naturally, only on the Play Station versions).
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash Up has characters described as "Characters you know in addition to ones you wouldn't expect"...
- ...Which is completely true, everybody knew that Shredder, April, Casey, and the title characters would appear, but not an unnamed Foot Soldier or an alien in a battle suit that was a one-shot character from the 2003 show (as an Expy for Krang from the 80s show). And for established characters, there's the Fugitoid and Night Watcher (who has a completely different gameplay from regular Raphael).
- And Raving Rabbids. Don't forget them.
- This isn't the first time a Ninja turtles has had really obscure characters. Excluding the Turtles and Shredder, almost the SNES entire cast of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters" was really obscure (at the time). The two biggest examples are Aska(an original character) and War(a very minor bad guy in the Archie comic book series).
- The Genesis version also had its own original in the form of Sisyphyus. Mutant Melee takes the cake, thanks to having Monster, who technically isn't a character at all. He showed up within an old b-movie Mike was watching, and wasn't real. The game also has Sleeg, an incidental alien character.
- Ness's appearance in the original Super Smash Bros. Captain Falcon to a certain extent as well, as he is from a racing series, not a platformer, and was never seen active outside the vehicle in his home games.
- The Ice Climbers appearing in Super Smash Bros Melee would qualify, since they previously only ever existed in a single arcade/NES title, and were only added to the roster for their gameplay potential. Mr. Game & Watch in the same game and R.O.B. in Brawl could also qualify, though they're quite a bit more significant to Nintendo's history as well. However, none of these can compare to when Solid Snake was confirmed as the series' first third-party character...and later, Sonic the Hedgehog as the other.
- Then we have the infamous case of Marth. Perhaps not too unexpected for Japanese gamers, but the series he hailed from had never been released in the US prior to their inclusion. Even Fire Emblem came to the United States, it took several years for the Akaneia games in which Marth was featured in to reach America and by then they had aged poorly compared to the newer games in the series.
- Roy made his character debut in Melee. Fire Emblem Sealed Sword came out a few months later. Even the Japanese were surprised.
- Pit. Who would've thought they would bring back a character that had not been in a game for over 20 years?  The only hint was his appearance as a trophy in Melee.
- The Pokémon Trainer, as well. While the idea of having a playable Trainer was a somewhat popular choice, many wrote it off as very unlikely to happen. And even within the Trainer's moveset, while Squirtle and Charizard were popular choices, nobody expected Ivysaur, even if it was the most logical counterpart to the other two.
- Just to expand on that, Ivysaur is unexpected for two main reasons. 1) It's the middle evolution of a Pokemon. You could see Bulbasaur perhaps or Venusaur at a stretch, but Ivysaur? and B) It's the ONLY fully quadruped fighter in the series!
- Also, in the original Smash Bros' 1P mode, you fight classic Nintendo characters, the Mario Bros., Giant Mook Donkey Kong, Samus, then "Fighting Polygon Team!" Wait, what?
- Similarly, when playing Melee's adventure Mode, if you've played it a few times you'll know about the Metal Mario fight. Then when you've unlocked Luigi, you find yourself fighting both Metal Mario AND Metal Luigi
- Capcom's 2D fighting game based on the third part of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure has a couple. First up is Midler, the user of the stand High Priestess: since she is never seen clearly in the manga, the original author had to create her character design for the game from scratch! There's also the younger version of Joseph, based on his appearance in the second part of the manga.
- Frank West in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars had this reaction (of course, for many American gamers, nearly the entire Tatsunoko side counts, too). In the other crossover games, we've got Shuma-Gorath and Marrow in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Ryuhaku Todoh, Maki, and Hibiki Takane (among others) in Capcom vs. SNK 2, and four Red Earth characters in Capcom Fighting Evolution, none of whom were Tessa.
- In the first Marvel vs. Capcom game, there's also Jin Saotome from Cyberbots, which had Americans asking, "Who the hell is Jin?"
- M.O.D.O.K. in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Also unexpected (and before M.O.D.O.K.'s reveal) were Trish, Amaterasu, and X-23. Later, Mike Haggar joined the fray and the manliness levels of the game skyrocketed. And near the end, Taskmaster. 'Nuff said.
- Before appearing in Brawl as mentioned above, R.O.B. also showed up as a secret character in Mario Kart DS. The Wii installment also has a few surprises, such as Funky Kong and Dry Bowser (from New Super Mario Bros.).
- SNK has gotten into the act as well, from the many Another Striker cameos in The King of Fighters 2000 to such characters as Mars People, Red Arremer and the title character of Athena in SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos. And nobody expected a King of the Monsters character in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
- Super Robot Wars is not above doing this. In addition to the usual legendary series and recent hits, any Humongous Mecha that exists in any medium, no matter how obscure it is, has a chance to be included. Combat Mecha Xabungle and Hades Project Zeorymer are two such examples.
- Prior to Super Robot Wars Judgment, the term "robot" implied that only series featuring Humongous Mecha can only be included. When Tekkaman Blade and the subsequent Detonator Orgun and Iczer One made their debut into the franchise, this was totally out of the blue, as these series were centered around Powered Armor mechanics, not robots. In a sense, this was developer Banpresto's way of letting loose with formula, but also their willingness to redefine what exactly encompasses the terms "robot" and "Mecha".
- The Super Robot Wars Original Generation series mostly just features original cast members from other Super Robot Wars games. When the bonus chapters of the compilation/VideoGameRemake Original Generations was unveiled, it caught everyone by surprise when it included Fighter Roar, a character from the Great Battle series, another Massively Multiplayer Crossover by Banpresto, piloting a redesigned Compatible Kaiser, which appeared in just one game.
- Banpresto did it again for Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier EXCEED with Mark Hunter, from a more obscure Banpresto Action RPG called Gaia Saver. At this point, anyone from any Banpresto-developed game has a possibility to appear in Original Generation, be it the main series or its Spinoffs.
- Few people expected Super Robot Wars Z 2 would add Dai-Guard to the roster.
- The Dragon Ball games do this a lot. The Budokai Tenkaichi games have, among others, Grandpa Gohan, Arale Norimaki, General Blue, Frieza Soldier (No, seriously, that is a character), Appule, Spopovich, Babidi, Gokule, and possibly Nail. The more popular characters are usually expected or asked for, but some of these are just unexpected.
- Melty Blood, a fighting game based on Tsukihime, had Miyako Arima, a character barely mentioned to have existed, and even then not by name. Not to mention Neko-Arc, Mecha-Hisui, and Neko-Arc-Chaos.
- While both Yoda and Darth Vader were constantly advertised as playable characters in Soulcalibur IV, having Vader's apprentice from The Force Unleashed was not expected by many, particularly since his game had yet to be released at the time.
- In Dissidia Final Fantasy people assumed early on Seymour would be in as the villain of Final Fantasy X, but instead Tidus' father Jecht, who was more an Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain than a real antagonist, got in over Seymour. Not that people mind... Square actually decided to explain this one--Seymour had more of a rivalry/connection with Yuna, so having him in the game as the representative villain would have meant there was little going on between Tidus and Seymour story-wise, whereas Jecht provided a deeper father-son/rivalry dynamic.
- Nippon Ichi games often have a number of characters from other games appear as cameos, which may fall under this trope. For example, the character Aramis from Disgaea Hour of Darkness appears for all of one chapter and isn't even playable in any version of the game. He becomes a Downloadable Content Optional Party Member in Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice. Another example is in Zettai Hero Project, whose strongest Bonus Boss is actually Valvoga from Makai Kingdom. His only other appearance outside those two games were as part of a spell animation in Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories.
- Harold the ghoul in Fallout 3. He's now the only character that appears in all 3 main Fallout games.
- The Mascot Fighter Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion includes the channel's usual stable of characters... and Captain Planet, who actually predated the channel by a few years.
- Nicktoons MLB has five SpongeBob characters (natch): SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy,... Larry the Lobster and the Flying Dutchman? We also get Gaz, Powdered Toast Man and a Yak. The 3DS version adds Hiro Mightypaw, a character from the MMORPG Monkey Quest, and not any actual Nick show.
- Okay, so after an unusually long hiatus (filled by three side-games), Touhou 13.0 has finally been announced, and we've got...four playable characters? Having Sanae playable again was expected as she'd been playable in 12.0 as well, but Youmu's return to playability (last appearance in a danmaku game: Shoot the Bullet, as a boss) was a pleasant surprise.
- And then the demo revealed that Yuyuko is the Stage 1 boss. It was possibly more unexpected than Kogasa returning as the Stage 3 mid-boss, mostly because some fans did expect her to return in a future game this way.
- The PSP Zombie Apocalypse shooter Infected allows you to play as the members of Slipknot along with... the vocalist from Chimaira (who says musicians need to get their own Guitar Hero title to be put in a game?)
- The appearance of Sonic's Classic self in the teaser trailer for Sonic Generations.
- While Mortal Kombat Armageddon promised to bring back every character that ever appeared in a Mortal Kombat game as playable, it's doubtful that very many fans (assuming they even knew who he was) would have expected Meat making it to the roster, given that in his appearance in Mortal Kombat 4 he wasn't so much a character as an alternate costume available for any character through a cheat code to make them look like a bloody skeleton. The Wii version also had Khameleon.
- Kuina and Zeff from One Piece appeared in One Piece: Grand Adventure, the American made sequel to One Piece: Grand Battle.
- Yugao Uzuki from the Naruto series, appearing in Clash of Ninja Revolution 2, has to be one of the most unexpected characters on this list, appearing in the Manga for less then five panels, showing none of her skills in these panels.
- She is so unknown that many assumed (and still do assume) she was a character created exclusively for Revolution 2 along with Komachi and Towa, the other exclusive ANBU, despite appearing in the Anime and Manga as mentioned before.
- It doesn't help that she was unnamed in all English versions of the series up to that date (guidebooks referred to her as a generic female ANBU).
- Among the huge roster of characters in LEGO Star Wars 3 is Galen Marek, also known as Starkiller. While there was a set made to promote The Force Unleashed (the Rogue Shadow set), few could've guessed that Vader's Apprentice would actually be in a LEGO game.
- In Batman: Arkham City, the roster included such iconic Batman foes as Two-Face, Catwoman, and the Penguin. More of a surprise was Solomon Grundy; while he's had a few run-ins with the Dark Knight, he was a foe of the original Green Lantern, and more commonly takes on various DCU heavy hitters.
- Opa-Opa, the spaceship from Fantasy Zone, appearing in Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing.
- Capcom vs. SNK 2 with Eagle, a fighter from the first iteration of Street Fighter otherwise not seen in years. There's also Kyosuke Kagami and Hibiki Takane (though they're both still fan-favorites in their own series).
- Kingdom Hearts 3D, an early article on the game had the name blocked out, but it mentioned the reviewer was really surprised by some of the new characters he saw. Turns out that no one could have predicted who he meant -- Neku and his friends! All bets are off on whoever else might be getting in, in this or future games now.
- Here's another surprise: 3D has the first Disney Bonus Boss since the Ice Titan in Final Mix. Who could it be? The Friends on the Other Side? The Horned King? Chernabog, back for another round? The answer is Julius, the main antagonist of a fairly obscure seven-minute short.
- The final boss of the game? Sora.
- Persona 4 got a sequel, not in the form of the much-desired Persona 5, but in an arcade-style fighting game Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena... with Aigis, Akihiko, and Mitsuru from Persona 3. Then there's Labrys, who was seemingly a new character created from the game...until Americans learned she had actually debuted in a Persona 3 Drama CD released only in Japan.
- A rare case when a game itself can fit this: For a while, it was rumoured a new Pokémon game would be revealed at Jump Festa 2011. Fan speculation ensued. Would it be Grey Version? A Ruby/Sapphire remake? No, we got this.
- The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: A game of swords, sorcery, dragons, and... the Space Core, as of a recent official PC-only add-on.
- The much-delayed PC version of Renegade Ops features... Gordon Freeman?
- Final Fantasy XIII-2's first North American DLC features a battle with Lightning, and everyone was expecting that. What they weren't expecting was for Sergeant Amodar to appear... and be a Commando-role monster. Also, Jhil Nabaat is following in March.
- Probably one of the most insane examples is Ryu appearing a DLC boss in Asura's Wrath', a game that isn't even a Fighting Game to begin with. What makes it even crazier, is that fighting him Changes the gameplay completely into a 2D fighter, Meters and life gauges and all ala Street Fighter IV, though Asura's bottom Gauges are different and more like his own game, of course.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds has Joss Whedon as an unlockable character.
- Sonic And Sega All Stars Racing Transformed will have NASCAR driver Danica Patrick as a playable racer as a cross promotional stunt for the game; the car she'll be driving in the game will also be driven by her in future NASCAR races.
- The first game had several, like Big the Cat.
- The band's logo was used on the back of the case alongside names like Queen, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and the Ramones
- well, okay...
- who appeared in Pocket Fighter and SVC Chaos
- Cyber Woo
- and even then, only playable on the SNES version
- his appearance was used for a quick joke in Dragon Ball Abridged in which he's playing the game as himself, beating up Bardock
- Though, in a strange case of an character playing the role of his own Expy, Emperor Palamecia, to whom Seymour bears a very strong resemblance, was placed in the role of Yuna's main opponent in Duodecim.
- Also, Abraham Lincoln is in too, at the expense of the film's lead female.