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File:Overshadowed 4447.jpg

This tends to happen when your President is Captain America.

"Bad news, Cale. I'm afraid that your position as my closest and dearest companion is being replaced by the fellow who just tackled a dragon."
Richard, Looking for Group

Where in a show or game that features ludicrously powerful people, a certain character or group of characters are overshadowed by their superior fellows and end up looking like plain crap, even though they are still very competent in comparison to your average Innocent Bystander.

Similar to Badass Normal, except they rarely get a chance to actually be Badass and they are not always considered "normal" in the first place. If the creator is cognizant of this, expect a few rounds of Training From Hell to remedy this Can't Catch Up. Occasionally, they'll get their own storyline among 'real' normals, just to show how objectively badass they actually are.

Unfortunately, Hard Work Hardly Works, so you can expect them to remain overshadowed throughout the show...

See also What Measure Is a Non Super, In the End You Are on Your Own. Can cause Always Second Best, Always Someone Better, Stuck in Their Shadow.

Examples of Overshadowed by Awesome include:

Anime and Manga

  • The title character of Sailor Moon begins as this with Mercury by her side; the other senshi just have more strength and fighting ability, plus their attacks are offensive. As the seasons pass Moon levels up and passes over everyone else. The Outers then overshadow the Inners, and everyone overshadows Chibi Moon. At least Chibi Moon has the potential to be insanely powerful, according to the manga.
  • Bamboo Blade's Yuji Nakata qualifies for this. As if being The One Guy is not sad enough, it's clear that he has remarkable skills and discipline in Kendo, is one of the strongest students in the dojo as the few fights he has been in ended with him beating the opponent with little to no effort, but this show/manga is mainly about cute female kendo practitioners and their every day life; in the end Yuji is more of a possible love interest for Tama than anything else.
  • Dragonball Z does this a good deal, especially considering even "normal" characters like ChiChi still have unusual origins and are ridiculously powerful.
    • Krillin, the former Trope Namer, was once represented as a powerful prodigy in the original Dragon Ball, occasionally having victories over Goku and even reaching the semifinals in the World Martial Arts Tournament at the age of twelve, only losing to other members of the Turtle School. By the end though, he's just about useless as more and more Saiyan characters are introduced. The adult Krillin is (by Word of God) still one of the most powerful full-blooded humans in the series. Yamucha, during the Buu Saga, admits that Krillin is probably the most powerful human alive, while Tenshinhan isn't human according to Akira Toriyama. It's just that compared to godly powerhouses like Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Trunks, Goten, and Android 18, no human can compare. He occasionally lampshades this, bringing up the nature of characters introduced when the series began.
    • Yamcha is probably the one who suffers the most from this trope, despite being an experienced martial artist evidenced by each one of the Tenkaichi Budokai in which he took part. No matter how much he does to improve, he always gets to be one of the eight finalists and loses in the first round due to being put against a much more powerful opponent (Master Roshi, Tenshinhan and Kami-sama). At least he is Genre Savvy enough to know when to retire.
    • Tien shouldn't be forgotten. He was once ON PAR with Goku, only to be completely outshined in a matter of days. Then again at the next tournament Goku defeated him without breathing and hard or even using a Kamahamaha. By the Sayians became mainstream, the author almost completely forgot about Tien, giving him one shot areas for him to prove of SOME use.
    • Even a Joke Character like Hercule/Mr Satan, who is somewhat of a showboating coward, is still competent in a realistic context — that is to say, when he's not standing next to a Saiyan, and he won the world martial arts championship legitimately after teen Goku and company stopped attending. It's just his misfortune that the Z-fighters showed up again all those years later.
    • Pretty much anyone who isn't part Sayian hits a wall sooner or later and is never able to catch up again. Cyborg 18, who along with her brother was strong enough to kill Super-Saiyan Gohan and DESTROY THE WORLD in an alternate future, is never given a real chance to distinguish herself as a fighter once she becomes a good guy. Despite the fact that her alternate future version is stated to be weaker than her present self. She's still as strong as ever, but everyone else just got so much stronger that she's now almost useless.
    • At one point or another, everyone except for Goku and Vegeta gets this treatment (and even Vegeta isn't completely immune). Gohan was actually stronger than those two, both at the end of the Cell arc and during the battle with Buu when he gets his upgrade from Elder Kai, but he doesn't train. So even disregarding GT, Goku and Vegeta must have surpassed him by the Budokai at the end of the series. However, of all the Z fighters Goku and Vegeta are the only ones who truly enjoy fighting and will keep training not to fight some uber threat but because they feel the need to push themselves past their ever increasing limits; Gohan actually had greater potential than those two, but didn't utilize it. Of course, at the end of the Canon series Gohan is the strongest character in this series (yes, that includes Goku, Vegeta, and Majin Buu)!
      • GT takes this concept Up to Eleven. By the end of the Shadow Dragons Arc, Vegeta, Goku, Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta and Omega Shenron are THOUSANDS of times stronger than everyone else, with the sole exception of Super Android 17. GT was so unbalanced that no one but Goku mattered in the fights anymore.
  • Rurouni Kenshin--
    • Kaoru is stated to be as strong as a national level kendo champ (and trust this kendoka — that's badass) but she only really gets to show this off once in the manga against "designated female" Kamatari of the Ten Swords, though to her credit she manages to beat him with a broken bokken. She gets better treatment in the anime, where she's treated more as an equal member of the Kenshin Gumi and is given more to do. For example, in the anime version of the Megumi arc, she participates in the rescue mission at Kanryu's mansion along with the others, and gets to plow through waves of mooks. In the manga, she stays home for no apparent reason because Sanosuke tells her to have breakfast and a hot bath ready for when they get back.
    • To be slightly fair, the first time Kaoru tagged along with Kenshin, she became a Distressed Damsel due to Jin-E. Kenshin nearly lost himself to Battousai that time. It gets ridiculous though when her own student Yahiko does more fighting than her.
      • Her ultimate proof of awesomeness is the fact that she was able to train ten-year-old Yahiko to be able to fight people twice his size, three times his weight, and at least ten times his experience in a matter of months.
    • Ironically, Kenshin's fighting partner Sanosuke is given the reverse treatment in the anime. In the manga he's an expert in hand-to-hand combat and wins more than his fair share of fights against impossibly strong opponents (often whilst heavily wounded). In the anime? He's mainly used to show how strong the villain of the week is before Kenshin saves the day.
    • Regardless, once opponents that are at Kenshin's level are introduced, the gap between Kenshin and Sanosuke, Yahiko, and Kaoru become much more apparent.
    • And of course, even Kenshin is overpowered by his master Hiko, who is so ridiculously powerful that the author stated he can't use him to deal with threats in the story because it would be too easy for him.
  • Naruto--
    • Hatake Kakashi, their Jonin Sensei, was originally made up to be one of the most elite ninjas of Konoha, merely for his Sharingan. And indeed it is a nice weapon for him, since just having that eye made him a powerful threat. At least until Sasuke and the other Uchihas begun to have double Sharingans, much more advanced ones, and people start coming out with lots of Sharingans put in their eye, or grafted into their arm in the case of Danzo. Of course, even most Uchiha didn't have the super-powerful Sharingan upgrades that Sasuke, Itachi, and Madara have, since getting them required you do to things like killing your best friend.
    • We can add a lot of the Naruto cast to this. Unless you're a main character like Naruto, Sakura, or Sasuke, it's pretty much a given that nobody other than those three will stand a chance against a member of the Big Bad Akatsuki group unless you're either helped or receive some kind of power-up...and even then, you can still end up a Jobber. (Case in point: when Hinata came to Naruto's rescue and got utterly pwned by Pain.) Remember when Choji and Neji managed to successfully defeat jonin-level ninja one-on-one?'s obvious they won't be able to do that anymore.
      • This might be averted by Shikamaru, who is still the best strategist in the entire show
    • Rock Lee is severely lacking the flashy powers of the main characters, but is "realistically" strong through sheer training and effort. (He is, however, very superhumanly fast by real-world standards. Even though other characters arguably become faster, Lee's speed with his weights off remains impressive.) Sadly, he tends to get stuck with the Worf role.
      • Word of God says he was created to show viewers that effort and hard work pay off. Make of that what you will.
    • After the Pain arc, you could say this has happened to the entire Leaf Village in comparison to the eponymous character.
    • And again in the Fourth Great Ninja War arc, where the same thing happens to the entire world.
  • Ranma ½--
    • Before the series began, the Kuno siblings were two of the three top martial artists in their district, with Kodachi taking on 4-to-1 odds and whipping them effortlessly. Despite being able to render a bokken, a wooden training sword, into an Absurdly Sharp Blade and use Razor Wind attacks, Tatewaki Kuno becomes a mere Joke Character - his sister Kodachi just barely escapes this by a combination of the fact she doesn't fight all that often, but when she does, she's willing to cheat and use paralysis or sleeping poisons to get the upper hand.
    • Akane Tendo, the remaining top martial artist in the district, is able to quickly defeat a mob of about thirty fighters from her school each morning in the beginning of the series; later, she only escapes becoming a Distressed Damsel through her default reaction being to try and solve her problems on her own, her actually being able to help Ranma and co on occasion, such as against Orochi, or Taro. She still gets abducted various times in both canons, occasionally overpowered or otherwise kicked around by rivals and challengers from out of town), but does appear to considerably increase her martial arts skill towards the end of the series.
    • Soun and Genma get something of this treatment as well. While partially due to just not even wanting to fight that often, the few times they do get the notion to fight, it's against something meant for Ranma to deal with. Especially weird as these two possess the ability to become Godzilla sized (And Soun seems to pull his Samurai armor and armaments out of nowhere as well).
    • Ukyo Kuonji is an odd case of this as she is arguably the strongest of Ranma's fiancees, being the only one with a special Finishing Move in the anime and having a very intense, Ranma-esque fight near the end of the manga. However as strong as she is, she tends to be forgotten by Takahashi and is rarely involved in the serious arcs and when she is it's in a support role. Other times she is simply not mentioned and the other characters never think to ask her for help when something comes up. Presumably her self-owned restaurant takes up most of her time and after making up with Ranma she didn't feel much of a need to fight.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho--
    • Kuwabara gets this treatment to a degree. While he's probably not as strong as fellow humans (and former Spirit Detectives) Shinobu Sensui and Kuroko Sanada, Genkai speaks very highly of his abilities, and damn right she knows what she's talking about. In the dub, she indicates he has the potential to be the strongest human alive. Though in terms of physical strength he's left in the dust by his demon and half-demon companions, Kuwabara does get to win several key battles against much more powerful demons so he isn't completely overshadowed by others in the strictest sense.
  • Suezo from the Monster Rancher anime has many characteristics of this, being practically a disembodied giant eyeball. Compared to his other Monster teammates who have much more powerful and useful attacks, Suezo comes up short with only a tail attack and tongue lash as his primary moves. And even then, most of the bad guys shrug off his attacks like they're nothing. Suezo is rarely portrayed as a heavy hitter and the instances where he does land blows on the bad guys is when he's already fighting alongside his friends as a team (their attacks help to make up for his). The only time Suezo managed to win a battle on his own was against a giant Zilla in one of the Grand Prix games. He does, however, have quite a unique ability of being able to teleport. It would be quite a useful ability if Suezo actually had some decent attacks to go along with it... which he doesn't.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Syrus, Alexis, Bastion and Hassleberry are all good duelists in their own right, but after the first season very rarely do any of them get to duel, with Jaden getting much more time to shine. The only non-Jaden main character that gets to duel on a regular basis is Chazz, and only because he's subject to The Worf Effect. This concept actually becomes central to Bastion's character--despite being built up in the first season as a dueling prodigy with genius-level intellect and the best duelist in Ra Yellow, he gets overlooked by the Big Bad as a potential minion because he's not good enough to be in Obelisk Blue where the top students get to go.
    • The reason for him not being targeted has nothing to do with Misawa not being good enough to get into Blue, because he *is* good enough. He was offered a promotion back in season one, he just chose not to take it then. Misawa has an ego and it wasn't being fed enough, that's why events fell out as they did. He was asking Kenzan, Shou, and Juudai if they wanted to join the SOL because it was where all the cool people hung out. They weren't interested and he couldn't fathom why, because he valued status more than friendship at the time.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann--
  • One Piece has Usopp, a guy who started out average but whose ace sharpshooting skills and ability to trick and outwit his opponents (when he's not hiding behind something) makes him a definite Badass Normal. The problem is that everyone else on the crew is insanely powerful, so much so that Usopp harbors a massive inferiority complex and frets constantly that he'll be left behind and that his crew doesn't really need or want him. This issue probably arises when Nami, his only comrade in relative normalcy, gains a significant power-up in the form of a weapon that Usopp himself makes for her. Ouch. (He gets better after he fights with Luffy, leaves the crew, and is finally convinced to come back because they really do need him because he's their True Companions. This also leads to his best awesome moment when he duels Luffy. He's been more confident since and actually participates in fights without using Zoro as a meat shield.)
    • Zorro and Sanji even have a conversation pointing out how strong Usopp has gotten, and that he could defeat virtually any normal opponent. Unfortunately, they're with Luffy so the enemies are anything but normal. They also never bother telling him (although Sanji does point out a moment when Usopp's unique skills are more useful than his own.)
      • Luffy himself suffered from this in his childhood. Due to his rough training, he's still able to keep up with his older brothers, but often got captured or easily subdued, forcing his brothers to save him.
  • Largely averted in the 2001 series Cyborg 009, but still implied. Despite that the title character gets the most focus, pretty much all of the 00 cyborgs get their moment in the sun at some point. This is also a bit surprising considering that they name 009 as the most advanced cyborg of the bunch except for 0010-13, who kicked the bucket, doesn't always render the other cyborgs useless. 001, despite being a baby who is asleep 90% of the time, is arguably the most powerful Cyborg because of his near unlimited capabilities. Even 002, who is explained as a much more simplistic model than 009 can still fly whereas 009 can't.
  • Most of the kids and digimon in any season of Digimon. In most seasons, don't expect to defeat any major opponent unless your partner is either the Goggle-Wearer, the Rival (aka Blue Digivice), and in later seasons the Third Hero. Heck, in Digimon Tamers, don't expect to defeat anyone important unless you're Takato&Guilmon, Henry&Terriermon, Rika&Renamon or Ryo&Cyberdramon, or even Beezlemon. For that matter... don't even expect to DO anything. (Did you know that Kazu is actually Gardromon's partner? I certainly wouldn't have)
    • These days, saving the main characters twice (Kenta and Marine Angemon) or just Takato (Kazu and Guardromon) from certain death or torture isn't worth anything. Also, it's apparently a good idea to have the seven years old or younger children fight directly an Eldritch Abomination who manages to equal, or outclass EVA in Break the Cutie moments.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has a huge number of Badass people, but several (Rakan, Eva, Alberio Ku:nel Sanders, Fate, and especially Nagi) outstrip the main characters by several orders of a magnitude, and numerous characters comment that they're of "an entirely different level" from everyone else. One of Negi's main goals it to be powerful enough to be counted among them. Given recent events, he may very well have done so. Rakan has admitted that Negi is well on his way.
  • Bleach--
    • Renji Abarai definitely fits this, even though he got owned by a watermelon monster that was trying to use its tentacles vines on two female lieutenants and Orihime.
    • And then there's poor Chad. In any other show, this guy would be number one awesome. Unfortunately for him, his awesome ass kicking arms, are constantly overshadowed by Ichigo "Look what I pulled out of my plot-hole" Kurosaki. And when he does get to fight, he gets hit with an annoying case of The Worf Effect.
  • Death Note--
    • Matsuda is obviously competent enough to be on the task force, and has even helped the team a few times. But how can he look even somewhat intelligent next to supergeniuses Light and L?
    • Same thing with Misa Amane. The audience tends to join right in with Light and L denouncing her as stupid. In reality she pulls off some really complex plans, and her Shinigami eyes make her more deadly than any other Death Note user in the series; she's just not as smart as the four super geniuses who steal the show. Additionally, she has the disadvantage of being completely insane.
  • Lucy from the manga Fairy Tail fits this pretty well. She's fairly powerful as a Stellar Spirit mage, considering she has 9 of the 12 one of a kind zodiac keys, but she's constantly being eclipsed by the insane antics of Natsu, Erza, and the other upper level Fairy Tail members.
  • Reiichi in Airmaster. He fights by using his bicycle as though it were part of his own body, the same way other fighters use their fists and legs, and the stunts he can pull could probably get him into any X-Games competition on Earth. But since he's not strong enough to get into the Fukamichi Ranking, he ends up looking hopelessly weak next to the rest of the cast.
  • In Captain Tsubasa, there is Misugi, who in the early chapters, was in par of skills with the eponymous character. Nowdays, it's impressive that he dribbles through people. But even then, Tsubasa overshadows the whole japanese team.
    • And inside the aforementioned whole japanese team, Hyuga, Wakabayashi, Misaki, and arguably Aoi and Matsuyama (in that order from most to less important) steal the spotlight to the rest of the team.
  • Saiyuki's Gojyo is a pretty good fighter and holds up well against generic cannon fodder. Then, when the time comes to kick it up a notch, Sanzo breaks out the sutra, Goku and Hakkai take off their limiters, and Gojyo... is screwed.
  • Tenjho Tenge
    • Takayanagi. While the first two episodes basically states how incredibly super-strong he is, he gets owned by his own brother around episode 8, leaving him without anything to do the rest of the show. Really, he doesn't do anything. This all while the main character, whom Takayanagi beat the crap out of during their first encounter, keeps getting stronger and eventually surpasses everyone.
      • Actually his case is so extreme that Ogure Ito teased his fans with so many in-verse implications that one day he would reach True Warrior or God Tsukuyomi status only to in the end drop all this for the Human VS. God fight.
    • Let's not forget the female lead of the series, or her big sister. While the latter is super-awesome in the beginning, it does not take long for her to be overshadowed by her apparently cooler little sis.
    • What about Bob. Just the guy himself.
  • Isidro of Berserk has a serious case of this, Yeah, he's a kid, and compared to Guts he's quite literally nothing, but he shows himself perfectly capable of holding his own against enemies that tear trained and heavily armoured soldiers to pieces, including killing at least a few Kushan Monsters assisted only by Puck. If this was a Shonen series, he'd be a full blown Badass.
    • Isidro is kind of intended to be a send-up of traditional Shonen heroes. But really, almost everyone except Guts and Schierke suffers from this.
  • Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei examines this idea at one point; Krillin is specifically mentioned, along with how India's massive population gets Overshadowed by China's ginormous one. There's even a character who specifically attracts this: unless his baldness is revealed, he won't even be noticed as existing. As I recall, Kafuka assumes he's some kind of fairy.
  • In the Prince of Tennis series, arguably the Fudomine Team. Despite starting out as Seigaku's first major rival and one of their closest as well as one of their strongest, they become overshadowed by Hyotei and Rikkaidai. Pretty much their only powerful member is Captain Kippei Tachibana, a nationally-ranked player. While Hyotei and Rikkaidai got rematches with Seigaku, Fudomine never gets the chance.
  • Claymore gives us Clare, who has the skill and inhuman physical attributes to make her a fearsome warrior by any human standard. Not only is she ranked #47 (that is, dead last) among the warriors known as Claymores, but she is assigned the keeper of the almost hopelessly insane #4 Miata... who casually rips apart monsters a BFS-wielding Clarice has a hard time against with her bare hands.
    • Yuma of the Seven Ghosts is a milder example. The former rank #40 (lower than any of the Pieta survivors save Claire) thought she existed on the other's sufferance, was probably correct in thinking she was the weakest of them, and remained convinced that she had not grown in power during the Time Skip... until she faced four warriors (including a single digit) upon her return from the north and battered them into submission using the flat of her blade without even trying.
  • The entire source of Unsui's woobieness in Eyeshield 21. An extremely hard working person who's described as being "only a good player" and "the best of the average" who doesn't even come close to his brother's level as a football player or even stand out compared to the quirkier characters. Made all the sadder by the fact that he's Genre Savvy enough to know his skills only make his brother look even more talented by comparison.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple zig-zags on this: Kenichi is universally acknowledged to have no talent, but he's the main character and receives the appropriate amount of screentime/pagetime to show Training From Hell hard work does eventually pay off. Meanwhile, Action Girl Miu has to hold back when she and Kenichi spar, but she appears less often.
  • Lucrezia Noin from Gundam Wing is a pretty good Mobile Suit pilot, but when your teammates are five Gundam Pilots and the only Federation pilot who can match them, it's easy to be forgotten. Of course, this ignores a few facts: 1) Zechs says that during their academy days, she held back in order to make him look better (Zechs finished top of his class, for the record), and 2) in Endless Waltz, she lasts just as long the Gundam Pilots while using a Taurus, which is a good but still outdated machine when compared to the Serpents fielded by the enemy. This has lead to the fan theory that Noin is one of the best pilots in the show, held back only by the fact that she never gets anything better than a Taurus.
    • Similarly, in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Sayla Mass and Kai Shiden are both very competent pilots and aces several times over. However, they have the misfortune to serve alongside Amuro "One-Man Army-personified" Ray, who upstages them at every turn, and be flying against Char Aznable, the series' most iconic Badass.
    • The same can be said of Yzak Joule in Gundam Seed who talents seem insignificant next to those of his superior, Athrun Zala, and his enemy, Kira Yamato. This only gets worse when the two of them recieve their respective Mid Season Upgrades. Then in the finale he kills two Super Soldiers and you remember that oh yeah, this guy's a Badass. Kira's Big Brother Mentor, Mu La Flaga is in a similar position, though his general cool factor tends to outshine his handicaps.
    • In Gundam Seed Destiny Lunamaria Hawke suffers from this, often being decried as a Faux Action Girl, despite serving with competence throughout the war. This is largely because she's on the same team as Rey and Shinn, whom only Kira and Athrun stand a chance against.
  • Compared to normal people, Tiger and Bunny's Kotetsu Kaburagi would probably be considered very awesome: he has the ability to increase his abilities hundredfold for a brief period of time; he has cool, incredibly advanced Powered Armor; he dedicates his life to saving everyone he can, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Unfortunately for him, the viewers of HeroTV aren't comparing him to normal people. They're comparing him to other superheroes, such as the ridiculously Ace-like Sky High, or the identically powered and armored (but younger and more marketable) Barnaby Brooks Jr. As a result, he tends to fall behind when it comes to points and ratings.
  • Kaze no Stigma: Ayano and Ren are both serious victims of this; they're both competent fighters in their own right, but you really wouldn't think it with Kazuma by their side, as he's far more powerful than both of them combined. In Ayano's case, this is a deconstruction, as the large gap between her power and Kazuma's has left her with serious self-esteem and confidence issues, causing her to doubt herself frequently and worry she'll mess things up.
  • In Future GPX Cyber Formula, any racer who isn't Hayato or Kaga have fallen into this as the series progresses into the OVAs. Originally, Shinjyo and Randoll are very skilled racers and could be considered The Rivals to Hayato, but in the later OVAs, they are usurped by Bleed Kaga, who takes their place as the rival to Hayato.
  • Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force gives this treatement to Hayate and the Wolkenritter, pitting them against the Huckebein family who are depicted as being superior to them in every aspect.
  • Played with in Medaka Box. Zenkichi barring his parasite eyes is the only "normal" one out of all the main characters. Despite this, he manages to get most of the fights and somehow keeps up with all the super powered people in this series. Maguro even calls him "normal cool" claiming that he is unique because he is normal. However, in the Student Council Successors arc, Najimi sends 5 normal girls to compete in Medaka's treasure hunt where they not only do better than Zenkichi(who came in dead last being unable to solve the first clue), they actually manage to make it to the final round and briefly manage match Medaka. After noticing Zenkichi placing in dead last in the treasure hunt in comparison to the other normal people, Medaka throws him aside placing him directly under this trope in her eyes.
  • Inazuma Eleven's semi-Compilation Movie has The Orge, a mysterious soccer team from the future that beats up a main series's Big Bad god wannabe Zeus Academy badly. the rest of the movie progresses to ignore the Zeus completely.

Comic Books

  • Doug Ramsey, aka Cypher of the New Mutants. He had the mutant ability to decipher languages. In fact, he started out as a friend of the characters and Prof. X had no intention of telling him he was a mutant. Too bad none of the writers had figured out how potentially powerful his ability could be if used in a less conventional manner. To wit: his powers were instant total comprehension of any communication. This included the labels on buttons and controls of eons-dead aliens. He should also have been capable of matching Cassandra Cain in predicting his opponents' moves.
    • Recently, Ramsey was brought back to life, and as fans predicted he has indeed become a master computer programmer and hacker, as well as having the ability to read body language. Furthermore, he can now "read" the architectural structure of a building and determine its weakest point.
  • Anyone in Watchmen who is not Dr. Manhattan. And yet Rorschach still manages to come off pretty much universally as the most serious Badass in the cast. Lampshaded/Emphasized during (the first) Night Owl's retirement banquet, when Dr. Manhattan and Night Owl are discussing his reasons for retiring - mainly that "You (Dr. Manhattan) can do anything and all I've (Night Owl) got is a good left hook." When asked what he was going to do now, the Night Owl said that he planned to work as a mechanic like his father - to which Dr. Manhattan replied that he plans to synthesize enough lithium to make electric cars practical, making his profession obsolete.
  • The Invisible Girl in the first few years of Fantastic Four was mostly just standing around watching the men fight, or being captured, getting to use her powers for the odd stealth scene once every five issues or so. She was eventually given force field powers to make her somewhat more useful. That may have been a more dramatic change than intended, as she is now broadly accepted as the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four, with her powers becoming effectively an invisible Green Lantern Ring.
  • Hank Pym, in the early days of The Avengers. Despite having incredible size changing powers, hanging around with a Physical God, a Juggernaut, and a Power Armored Gadgeteer Genius made him kind of redundant.
  • Rick Jones, the perennial sidekick, was pointlessly outleagued by everyone he sidekicked for. Though he was touched with awesome a few brief moments, most of his days in the limelight simply let him show himself to be slightly more badass than normal.
  • Stephanie 'Spoiler' Brown is an impressive fighter, athlete, and investigator considering she is a largely self-trained Ordinary High School Student (not to mention having guts enough for three). She lives in Gotham. Her (ex)boyfriend is Robin. Her closest female friend is Cassandra Cain. Suffice it to say that Batman's efforts at getting her to ditch the costume is not entirely due to being a control freak. Once she officially becomes Batgirl, though, things are a little different.
    • Dick Grayson was this to Batman when he was the first Robin, and in his late teens decided to strike out on his own as Nightwing. Now, he's one of the leading heroes of the DCU. Hell, he even became Batman after Bruce's kind of death!
    • Jason Todd, the second Robin, constantly felt like he was living in Dick's shadow as well as Batman. It lead to him being impulsive and angry.
    • The third Robin, Tim Drake, wasn't the "first", and wasn't the tearaway Bruce couldn't save. He was just kind of...there. More competent than Jason and even improving on Bruce's techniques. Bruce knows all of this, and admits that Tim'll eventually be a better detective than him.
    • The fourth Robin, Stephanie Brown, is often not even remembered as having been Robin out of universe because her tenure was so short. Whenever people in or out of universe discuss the Robin legacy, she's usually left out or glossed over. She's much better known for being Spoiler or Batgirl.
    • The fifth Robin, Damian Wayne, was never quite accepted by Bruce. Dick was much more of a mentor to him, and a lot of characters and fans plain didn't like him. He was also less competent than previous Robins, because he was only 10 years old and had to adapt his techniques from lethality to Bruce's no-kill approach, often mid-battle.
  • Jessica Jones of the comic Alias (not an adaptation of the TV show) is a private investigator who has super strength, super durability and can fly. So why doesn't she become a superhero? Well actually she retired from being a superhero: you see, she lives in the Marvel Universe...yeah...
    • Case in point: she quit being a superhero after enduring eight months of horrifying Mind Rape at the hands of the Purple Man and being beaten into a coma by the Avengers (who would have likely killed her if Ms. Marvel hadn't recognized her) after she attacked them under the Mind Control of the former...only to find at the end of the ordeal that during all this time no one noticed she was missing.
  • One DC comics story, "Menace of the Mystic Mastermind", teamed up Wildcat and the Spectre. Wildcat, a boxer, was rather overshadowed by the Spectre, who embodies the Wrath of God.


  • Anguirus from the Godzilla franchise, a giant dinosaur whose only power is his huge size and strength (no flight, no transformations, no crazy energy beams), is the trope's Kaiju equivalent.
  • Poor Anna Valerious in Van Helsing is simply a regular human up against vampires and werewolves, but she looks weak because her performance doesn't quite live up to the perceived hype of her introduction. She seems worse next to Van Helsing, who is anything but a regular human.
  • This forms the basis of Amadeus's plot, with Antonio Salieri envious of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart because he looks mediocre in comparison despite his own formidable talent and thus seeks to destroy his career. This is of course more based on their places in history than their actual interactions, as they got along quite well in real life. In fact, Mozart was overshadowed by Salieri several times, a fact that is acknowledged in the film with Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro being overlooked by the Emperor in favour of one of Salieri's operas.
    • Somewhat ironically, when the film was released much more praise was heaped upon F. Murray Abraham's performance as Saliieri than on Tom Hulce's as Mozart. Both men were nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars that year but Abraham won and his performance is now the one most remembered from the film.
  • This happens to Kick-Ass when he meets Hit-Girl and Big Daddy and understands that they are infinitely more badass than him.
  • The Lion in Winter: Prince John has the misfortune of being born into an entire family of Magnificent Bastards, and ends up looking rather thick by comparison (and resenting it a lot).
  • This happened to Master Liu in Ip Man. He was a competent martial arts teacher, and managed to win against the unnamed martial artists. However, he was defeated by both the titular character and the two antagonists, making him look like a weakling in comparison.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk are much bigger screen presences than Hawkeye, Black Widow and Captain America, stealing most of the scenes of the Avengers movies. Even in the climax of the first film, all of the most epic scenes focus on Iron Man, Hulk and Thor. Unsurprisingly this has resulted in varying degrees of Memetic Loser feelings for Cap, Widow and Hawkeye.


  • One of the best bits of the 'Scouring of the Shire' segment in the Lord of the Rings novels is a version of this. While the hobbit characters are sometimes overshadowed in strength while traveling with the Nine, they command a lot of respect and sternness once they return and deal with the problems in their homeland. In general, hobbits subvert this trope, especially Bilbo, by being unexpectedly useful.
    • Return of the King is basically one big subversion of this trope: Merry helps kill the Witch King, Pippin saves Faramir's life, and apparently Sam and Frodo did something cool too. Just to hammer the point home, when Frodo and Sam finally get back from Mordor, Aragorn himself kneels in honor of them.
    • A meta-example with The Hobbit, a literary classic in its own right. But it's its sequel that gets frequently cited as the Trope Codifier for High Fantasy.
  • Despite the fact that Vlad Taltos of Dragaera fame is an assassin, mob boss, sorcerer, witch, and numerous other forms of Badass, the presence of ludicrously more powerful characters around him tends to tone down his coolness from "Obnoxious" to "Awesome."
  • Ron Weasley in Harry Potter. Chess and snark are about the only things he can do that his best friend, girlfriend, or siblings couldn't do better. He develops a complex about it.
    • Arguably worse in the movies, where he's mostly reduced to comic relief.
    • Also applicable to Rupert Grint, the actor who plays Ron. To the media, Daniel Radcliffe is the face of the franchise, Emma Watson is "that hot chick from Harry Potter" and poor Rupert is just sort of there. And yet, and perhaps because of this, he is the one of the three who has had the most consistent film work outside of the franchise.
  • Strangely averted in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Luke's pretty much an instant Deus Ex Machina, as befits his role as only being paralleled by other Skywalkers and being the most experienced Jedi in the galaxy, but TPTB always find some reason to not use him as such.
  • Doctor Watson, friend and helper of Sherlock Holmes, is a skilled medical practitioner, a former soldier, and is quite probably a good bit smarter and more insightful than your average man. When it comes to criminal investigations however, he is constantly struck silent by Holmes' deductive powers and his all round big-brainyness. Because of this, Watson is so often Flanderized into a bumbling idiot in adaptations of Sir Arthur's works.
  • Lots of non-channelers in The Wheel of Time, since the One Power is so powerful that there really isn't any way for them to compete, with the exception of Mat Cauthon, who has an Anti-Magic medallion. Also, Min, who is pretty good with her knives but is laughably out of her league compared with every single character in the series, realizes this in the later books and decides to become The Smart Girl instead by relentlessly studying the Prophecies of the Dragon. On a related note, when Mat protests that he's a lesser ta'veren compared to Rand, Verin tells him that in any other time, Mat and Perrin would be the strongest ta'veren in the world.

Live Action TV

  • Most characters in Doctor Who, often very capable individuals, are nonetheless totally overshadowed by the Doctor:
    • The first example was the Doctor's first companion, Susan Foreman. Despite his popularity, she was the original Screaming Woman. She had some badass moments but was overshadowed by the Doctor, Ian and Barbara, all three of whom tended to make it their priority to protect her and/or invoke "Not Now, Kiddo".
    • Romana I. She's very intelligent but the show kept playing the "Skilled but Naive" card with her, constantly having the Doctor solve every problem in her episodes.
    • This was particularly a problem with Martha Jones, who often comes across as completely redundant and useless in terms of the plot, despite being an extremely intelligent and capable character who once saved the world on her own.
    • The Daleks will do this whenever another villain is in the room. When it comes to the climax, the mutants of Skaro will always be the Big Bad of the show.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Willow becomes a powerful witch and Buffy is still... well, the slayer, Xander becomes an example of this. There's a whole episode in season 3 devoted to this trope.
  • In Angel, Fred is an example, going so far as to get physically overshadowed by a more awesome creature when Illyria takes control of her.
  • Parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Look with the crime fighting duo of the BMX Bandit and Angel Summoner. In every situation it's just easier and less dangerous to summon angels to defeat the terrorists and eventually the BMX Bandit develops a complex about it and tries a 30 foot jump off a building without the help of the angels. With predictable results.
  • In Homicide: Life On the Street, Bayliss is a brilliant detective who is constantly overshadowed by his more flashy partner Pembleton who treats him poorly and didn't want a partner to begin with. By Season Five, Pembleton had a stroke and realized upon returning to active duty that he wasn't as good as he thought without Bayliss, who was proving himself very good without a permanent partner. They eventually reunite when Pembleton swallows his pride and admits this and Bayliss admits he misses working with him.
  • Everything listed in Literature applies to Watson on Sherlock, and the episode commentary seems to indicate that the writers feel the same way about Lestrade. He's the best that Scotland Yard has to offer, and he's absolutely the guy you want working your case . . . unless Sherlock Holmes is available.
  • Humans in Babylon 5 are considerably overshadowed especially by the Minbari. They were beaten quite easily in the Earth-Minbari war, and made a limited contribution to the Shadow War(as a whole; individual humans made quite a few contributions. Despite that it is said a couple of times that Humans Are Special, but that can come off as Informed Ability .
  • Patrick Jane has a tendency to do this to the other characters. Lampshaded on occasion; notably, when Jane attempts to leave the CBI, Lisbon points out they can close cases without him. Jane offers to finish the case with them, saying they're helpless without him.
  • Stottlemeyer from Monk and Lassiter from Psych are both actually quite competent when given the chance, especially compared to other similar Inspector Lestrade characters from other shows. However, they're simply overshadowed constantly by their respective supergenius Defective Detectives (Monk and Shaun). Lassiter also suffers from a generous helping of Leeroy Jenkins syndrome, although Shaun himself has a fair share of that as well.
  • Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory often does this. On his own, he's as smart as Raj, Leonard and Howard put together and has both the comedic and dramatic potential to advance plots by himself.


  • Formula One has a history of domination by an exclusive elite. During Michael Schumacher's succession of championships, many good or even great drivers were entirely outshadowed such as Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ralf Schumacher, etc. Between the years of 1985 - 1993, you could kiss any chances of a championship goodbye if your name wasn't Prost, Senna, Piquet or Mansell.
  • While Indy Car was the pinnacle of American motorsport ever since the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, during the last twenty years it has become completely overshadowed by NASCAR due to the latter's bump-and-grind, down-n'-dirty-style racing. Where do Formula One drivers go whenever they retire in America? Here's a hint: It's the most watched sport in America.
  • This tends to happen in many racing events, whether it's auto racing, swimming, or track. Often a single heat/race will have two or three racers break the current world record - but only the winner will be acknowledged as doing so.
  • Scottie Pippen and the rest of the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. Except possibly Dennis Rodman, who got his own recognition, partly by being a good defenseman, and partly by being too weird to miss.
    • Speaking of the MJ era, LaBradford Smith.
    • Quick, name a current Cleveland Cavalier or Los Angeles Clipper besides Blake Griffin.
    • On the 2010-present Miami Heat, it's Dwayne Wade, who had a title before the other two showed up, LeBron James, ridiculously hyped but has now lost two NBA Finals with two different teams, and way off in third place: Chris Bosh. That's the effect of Bosh having played in relative obscurity for the Toronto Raptors.
  • During the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl years, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice were the only players that any casual NFL fan could name. And maybe Dwight Clark.
    • This tends to happen on any NFL team with a superstar quarterback in any era.
  • In any other year, stakes racer Sham would probably have been the star of his three-year-old season. Unfortunately for him, he had the bad luck to face off against world-renowned Secretariat - who is contested only by Man O' War as the greatest horse in American racing history. Today, he is mostly remembered for losing to Secretariat in all three legs of the Triple Crown. He paced Secretariat for the first three-quarter-mile of the Belmont - but then Secretariat kicked it into high gear and took home the Triple Crown with a 31-length-lead in Thoroughbred racing's finest moment, while Sham faded back to finish last. Poor guy.
  • This has happened in men's tennis over the past few years due to the dominance of Roger Federer, and the only man who can actually beat him, Rafael Nadal. Since the mid-point of 2003, Federer has either won the Grand Slam or lost to the eventual champion in the semis or the finals, every single time (that eventual champion being Nadal 6 times out of 8); everyone else, even highly skilled players, tend to get lost in such situations. (A prime example of such an overshadowed player is Andy Roddick, a player with a devastating serve and several other weapons, who could have been a worthy successor to the likes of Sampras and Agassi despite his issues with focus and fitness... but is 2-18 against Federer, including 0-3 in Grand Slam Finals).
    • How much do Federer and Nadal overshadow the rest of the competition? So much that nobody paid any attention to Novak Djokovic, the player ranked the 3rd best in the world right behind them, or thought that his semifinal match against Federer in the 2010 US Open would be anything less than a Curb Stomp Battle for the latter (though admittedly, this was partly because of Djokovic's history of falling victim to illness or exhaustion). Then Djokovic beat Federer. Of course, he lost to Nadal in the end, which most likely means that Nadal's simply going to take Federer's role in making all other tennis players look utterly outclassed next to him.
    • Interestingly, in the first part of the 2011 season, Federer, Nadal, and everyone else were overshadowed by Djokovic, who won the Australian Open and went on a 43-0 match winning streak before finally being beaten by Federer in the semifinals of the French Open.
    • British men have had this problem; Tim Henman has been described as a good player in a time of great players, and Andy Murray a great player in a time of amazing players.
    • Quick, someone name as many players as you can outside of the top 4 men in tennis! Can you?! This troper personally thinks that every men's tennis player has been overshadowed by Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Twice in the last year has a semifinal of a grand slam, NOT had all four of them.
    • Andy Murray probably would have been a dominating player himself, if Djokovic, Nadal and Federer didn't hog up 31 grand slams.
  • For those who are not followers of professional golf, name a pro golfer whose name isn't Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods.
    • Phil Mickelson, to whom this trope absolutely applies. If he'd played in an era that didn't have Tiger Woods, he'd be one of the most dominant golfers on the planet.
  • If you're only a casual baseball fan, the name Hank Greenberg might not ring a bell. The Detroit Tigers first baseman was only a Hall of Famer, one of the all-time dominant sluggers, and notable for being the first Jewish superstar in American sports. Unfortunately, though, Greenberg's career neatly coincided with those of arguably the two greatest first basemen of all time--Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. As a result, his All-Star invites were sparse, and he failed to become the household name he'd have been in any other era.
    • Duke Snider is a similar example: A Hall of Famer in his own right, Snider was only the third-best centerfielder in New York [2] during the 1950s, as he had the misfortune of sharing both a position and a city with Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Also an aversion of First Installment Wins, as Snider's major league debut was four years before the others.
    • Dom DiMaggio is an interesting case. He was a great centerfielder for the Boston Red Sox who could've been a Hall of Famer (some actually argue that he is still). Unfortunately, he lost 4 years of his prime due to World War II and he just so happened to be the younger brother of one of the greatest players of all time: Joe DiMaggio.
  • If an entire baseball series counts, then the 2004 NLCS qualifies. It was a fantastic 7 game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros. They went toe-to-toe which ended up with a St. Louis win. The problem? The ALCS that year was the Red Sox and Yankees. And not just that, but the Red Sox were rather busy rallying from a 3-0 game-win deficit for the first time in baseball history on the way to their first Series win in 86 years.
  • Between the years 1984-1995, any given Minnesota Twins ball player compared to Kirby Puckett, but especially Kent Hrbek, whose career swinging some very heavy lumber - he holds the Twins' team record for grand slams - tends to be overshadowed.
  • Try to explain to any fan of English football that no, the Big Four of the English Premier League aren't the only ones that are going for the Premiership title and that the other sixteen teams are also trying to earn it and not at all wanting to be treated as an entire league of Washington Generals-type doormats. Sadly the English media hyperfocused on Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and the lack of any revenue controls assure this situation will continue for the near future.
  • Just under 50% of World Cup championships as of 2010 have been won by either Italy or Brazil, and only 8 countries out of 76 have ever won the championship. All of those 8 have been from either Europe or South America, to a point where nobody cares about any of the other continents.
    • There's a saying that goes "The World Cup is basically the European Cup plus Brazil and Argentina."
  • Olympic-level gymnast Kerri Strug - coached by legend Bela Karolyi - spent her entire career overshadowed by his gymnastic prodigies Kim Zmeskal and later Dominique Moceanu. In a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, she finally got her moment in the 1996 Olympic games, vaulting a second time despite injuring her ankle on her first vault. She sprained her ankle on the landing, but stuck it - on one foot - and sealed the first women's team gold in USA history, becoming one of the most enduring legends of the Games in the process.
  • All of those really tall Himalayan mountains to the left and right of Mt. Everest that nobody ever climbs because they're a few feet shorter than Mt. Everest.
  • Ever heard of Jan Ullrich? He was a great biker in the Tour De France...who had the misfortune to be facing Lance Armstrong and his incredibly well-funded, unstoppable team during Lance's record-setting glory years. He won one Tour de France, before facing Lance and going down in a footnote, Lance's "perpetual second".
  • Mario Lemieux, "The Magnificent One", widely considered one of the best players in hockey history... who had the misfortune of being a contemporary of the best player in hockey history: Wayne Gretzky, "The Great One".
    • What's sad is that if Mario did not have the health issues that he had (including cancer) he would have surpassed Wayne most likely. Hell look at all the games he missed and then look at his overall stats and your head would explode with how he was able to get so many points.
    • Another one in Gretzky's shadow was Mark Messier. Once Gretzky left Edmonton for Los Angeles, "Moose" emerged as the heart of the team and one of the great leaders in any professional sport, taking them to the Stanley Cup in 1990 (something that was considered impossible without Gretzky's presence) and cementing his reputation when he took the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. Still, even though he had his number retired by two teams (the Rangers and the Oilers), a remarkable achievement, Gretzky's 99 was retired by the league. Some days you just can't catch a break...
  • There is a possible sub-trope here for sports, crossing this trope with Retirony. Team X has been terrible for the last few years, but there was a time when they were good, and their now-retired legend(s) represent their best years or championship seasons. What happens here is said player or players' legacy CONTINUES to overshadow the team. Textbook cases of this are...
    • Major League Baseball: Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore Orioles; George Brett, Kansas City Royals; Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres; Ken Griffey Jr./Randy Johnson, Seattle Mariners (Griffey even played with this when he came back to Seattle for his last season).
    • National Football League: Joe Namath, New York Jets (although the Jets are good again as of 2009-2010, they still can't seem to move past Joe); Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions; anyone who played for the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders Super Bowl teams.
    • National Basketball Association: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers (recently retired but the team is having trouble being successful without him)
    • National Hockey League: None of the teams Gretzky played for (Kings, Oilers, Rangers, Blues) have won a Stanley Cup since his retirement (although Edmonton won after he was traded). Edmonton is also the only one to have gone back to the Finals. Brett Hull is this for two teams: the Blues and the Dallas Stars.
      • Combining this trope with Kicked Upstairs are Nolan Ryan, who was enormously popular as a player for the Texas Rangers even though he only pitched five years with them. When the Rangers made it to the World Series for the first time in 2010, Nolan Ryan was STILL the first person a casual baseball fan could name, and he's the OWNER (Cliff Lee would come in a distant second). John Elway, another player-turned-executive could qualify as this for the Denver Broncos; they haven't been as good since his Super Bowl years and no quarterback since has reached the same stardom.
      • Gretzky, too, as the coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.
  • Australian leg spinner Stuart MacGill spent pretty much his entire career overshadowed by Shane Warne despite being good enough to get into many other national sides. Then we have Warne himself, one of the greatest spinners of all time but not quite the greatest of his generation - that award would probably go to Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitheran (this is, however, a very contentious statement).
    • The ultimate example from cricket is probably poor Andy Ganteaume, a West Indian wicket-keeper batsman who scored a century in his debut Test Match and never played for the West Indies again: they had so many talented batsmen at the time, and Ganteaume took too long to score his century. So he was dropped. He at least got the consolation of finishing on a higher Test average than Don Bradman.

Tabletop Games

  • This can easily happen if a Munchkin (who knows the rules of the edition they're playing) min-maxes their character to hell and back. Especially if combined with a dungeomnaster who doesn't place enough upgrades for melee fighters in a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons.
    • Or, in 3rd edition, 3.5, and the various offbranches thereof such as Pathfinder, if someone plays a caster class above level 6 or so, thanks to Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. The higher the level, the greater the disparity. Even if the non-caster seems awesome on paper, he's still massively outclassed by the magic users.
  • All over the place in Warhammer 40000. The Imperial Guard are the most obvious example, the single largest military in galactic history who even on a smaller scale can be devastatingly effective, but the prevalence of Super Soldiers, Determinators, endless swarms (or even a combination of the three) make them quite pathetic by comparison. They do have frequent wins, and their tanks are the nastiest things on the tabletop, but ultimately they aren't that impressive despite their power.
    • Generally, Toughness 3 and an Armour Save of 5+ was suppose to be considered good, with 4+ being elite body armor and 3+ being the equivallent of a walking tank. However, with the popularity of Space Marines and variants, many of the other species that would have been considered "normal" have been demoted to "swarm" status. Doesn't help when GW seems to actively embrace this new image, releasing even more space marines while actively playing up the "swarms" part in other armies.
    • In the current Meta many units are often seen as "uncompetitive". This does not mean they're bad or underpowered, in fact most of them do very well at what they do and are quite appropriate for their cost. However there are many units who are more powerful than them, many of which share the same Force Organisation Slot, meaning you either choose between the balanced unit, or the overpowered one. It's not a hard choice.
    • In the actual lore, Luther would have been the single greatest hero of all time on Caliban, if one of the primarchs, Lion El'Johnson, didn't happen to land on that particular planet. At this point, it is almost bordering on a tragic subversion, since, while Lion El'Johnson is physically powerful, tactically brilliant, and very quick to analyze any situation, he is an absolute moron with dealing with people. Lucifer isn't quite at Lion's level, but his charisma ends up making him more effective than Lion in most situations. Several major issues caused accidentally by Lion El'Johnson probably would not have occurred under Luther.
  • The Lunar Exalted: Blessed by the goddess of the moon with the power to shapeshift, which includes the ability to assume the forms of anything or anyone they've killed and eaten, including demons and gods. Empowered with magic to become masterful charmers and hypnotists, brilliant sorcerors and scientists, and/or nearly unparalleled warriors, they are the protectors of all Creation. They are also completely overshadowed by the Solar Exalted, who were empowered by the sun god with the ability to do anything they wanted, but perfectly. On top of that, each Lunar is magically compelled to love and obey one Solar. Then again, being the top dog is part of what got the Solars all killed, and now their reincarnations have a lot less experience, training and resources than the vast majority of Lunars.

Video Games

  • Generally, in most Role Playing Games, this happens to weapons and abilities. The weapons and abilities that are good early in the game are overshadowed by better ones you get later, especially if you get the Disc One Nuke. This makes some spells become rather worthless, especially status-inducing ones.
    • It's actually averted quite a bit when it comes to abilities. Some games make it so that abilities scale instead of having a set damage range, meaning that an ability that you have early in the game is still useful all the way to the endgame. A good way to avert this from a gameplay programming perspective are to use percentages, especially for healing items. (Tales (series) and Legend of Dragoon are good examples of healing items that heal based on a percentage)
  • This turns out to be the plot catalyst in Live a Live: Straybow, whose best friend Oersted is the heroic knight protagonist, gets entirely fed up playing second fiddle and decides to become the villain instead. Everything goes to hell.
  • Dan Hibiki in Street Fighter is actually a good martial artist and is shown doing somewhat competently in a tournament. On top of that, he shoots fire out of his hands! In the real world, he'd be a superhero! It's just that in Street Fighter, everyone shoots fire out of their hands better than him. Some games even have him as a Lethal Joke Character. This is lampshaded in the ending of Capcom vs. SNK - which shows a newscast noting that Dan won the tournament (while the player character defeated M.Bison/Geese Howard and saved the world.) He's not even a playable character in the original version!
  • Most of the Tekken characters introduced from 4 onwards are overshadowed by those who have been established for longer. The simple reason is the Nostalgia Filter but also because there are too many characters now, and whereas people would have mastered the first 10 characters in Tekken 2 for example, now we're faced with about 30 at once and it's just too much. A much earlier example would be Jack-2 being overshadowed by P Jack in Tekken 2, whose ability to fly made him the Jack that all future ones would be based on.
  • An interesting Soul Series example - Sophitia is very popular amongst online players because she is the most balanced character in the whole game... which means she comes across as weak to most players in favour of 'strong' characters like Nightmare and Astaroth. They are in for a shock when they find out almost every internet player plays as her because she is so much faster than them.
  • Like the Live a Live example above, in Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, it's revealed at the end that Cole, Henry's kid sidekick is the real Big Bad of the game, having been sick of (to him) being the one doing all the work of tracking down the treasure and getting no credit (as well as Henry's constant coddling). In fact, Weaselby, Henry's supposed Arch Nemesis is actually an android controlled by Cole.
  • Every single character in the Metal Gear Solid series who isn't Big Boss, even those whose achievements could be argued to have surpassed his. His place in the structure of the series basically equates him with God, and the symbolism in 3 and 4 strongly suggest this too. Even Ocelot, who was playing Naked Snake like a violin from the second he met him, who goes on to establish himself, briefly, as the most powerful man in the world (Big Boss only had a made-up country, and it didn't last that long), and who manages to keep up a double agent act in some way or another for his entire life and never get caught is still obsessed with doing Big Boss proud in 4. Also Raiden to Solid Snake (despite the challenges he faces mirroring exactly - by design - the ones Snake faced at Shadow Moses).
  • This is actually a major theme in the Xeno series. In Xenogears, Hammer's Face Heel Turn is catalyzed by the fact that he feels obsolete as an ordinary person surrounded by super people. In Xenosaga this seems to happen to perennial Butt Monkey Allen Ridgely, but turns out to be the setup for a truly epic Crowning Moment of Awesome where he stands up to a villain with godlike powers & even gives a speech about how even an ordinary person has to stand up for what they want to protect.
  • The neighborhood kids in the Backyard Sports series have been overshadowed by the pros, who have much better stats than them, since they came in. The kids are actually very good athletes, as displayed in the first few games without the pros. The writers caught onto this in Hockey '05, but disregarded it in all the others.
  • In Ace Combat, you get to use 4th to 5th-gen fighters like the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-22 Raptor and Su-37 Terminator. However, with the exception of some of the birds in X: Skies of Deception, they will mostly fall short of the game-original superfighters.
  • In Fire Emblem, in "efficient" playthroughs, Low/Lower-Mid tier units often get overlooked in favour of... anyone else. Also, in Genealogy of the Holy War (the second Fire Emblem game for the SNES, which was never released outside Japan), characters with holy weapons or just holy blood really (see Lachke and Skashaha) tend to overshadow everyone else. Especially Aless and Shanan, who are both killing machines from the moment they're unlocked.
    • Some of these pre-promoted units you get around the middle of the game actually can be pretty useful. Unlike the Jeigans who join early-game but don't have very good growths, some of these guys actually do have decent growths that make 'em feasible. But some people who have been trained by experience to avoid these characters and stick with the non-promoted characters they obtained earlier may accidentally ignore 'em.
      • Marcus in Rekka gets hit on both ends. For one, he's clearly a Jeigan, which most people only really use a meat shield...and for people who had emulated Fuuin, they would know that he had terrible stat Fuuin! He's actually a lot better in Rekka, but that didn't stop people from abandoning him first chance because of the reputation.
        • It is also, however, worth mentioning that the Crutch Character stereotype begun to be subverted around Rekka. At least, widely subverted; (Oifey in Geneology is pretty much the first subversion; but because Eveyl and Fuuin Marcus play it so straight he was thought to be a one-time thing) Seth in Sacred Stones, Titania in Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, as well as Sothe in Radiant Dawn all act as Jeigans, but don't fully fulfill this role.
      • Wolf in Shadow Dragon just screams "Crutch Character"...however, he actually has some pretty good growths so that even despite being an early-game prepromote, he's feasible until the endgame.
      • Also from Rekka, we have Louise. While the other prepromotes that're considered useful (Pent and Hawkeye) are considered as awesome as they are, Louise often gets overshadowed by archers you obtained earlier.
      • Sacred Stones gives us Innes, Dussel, and Saleh. Saleh is overshadowed because by the time he joins, you already have Ewan (Unless you shelved him, not realizing the Magikarp Power), Lute, Artur, and maybe even L'Arachel promoted, and you don't need another magic user. Innes because you had Neimi earlier, and Dussel because, by the time he joins, you have at least three mounted fighters (Four depending on what you did with Amelia).
    • This trope may be the reason Eliwood of Blazing Sword is regarded, by some, as a weak character. While not as bad as the above examples, his stats are still considered weaker than the other Lords, Lyn and Hector, and lower than a good number of other Player Characters. This is rather jarring, as he is actually a well-balanced character, and after Unit Promotion he becomes considerably more useful.
      • A common rule of Fire Emblem is that the Jack of All Stats is almost always outclassed by a Lightning Bruiser. Eliwood is fast, strong, and has decent defenses, but there are enough units that are faster, stronger, and tankier that he can't seem to measure up.
    • In Radiant Dawn, Rolf suffers from a minor case of Magikarp Power but is otherwise one of the best characters in the game - he promotes to one of the game's best classes, his stat growths are ridiculously good, he comes on a team that gets tons of experience - and yet almost no one uses him. At the same time you get Rolf, you also get Shinon, who is essentially Rolf after the Magikarp Power kicks in and with even better growths (though Rolf has an incredible Strength Growth (75%) in Radiant Dawn, way better than Shinon's (40%), who originally had a 65% Strength Growth in Path Of Radiance). Even with his Strength Nerf, Shinon is arguably the best archer in the entire Fire Emblem series, leaving poor Rolf completely outclassed. And both are way better than Leonardo, who has terrible Growth rates in both Strength and Speed, which are crucial caracteristics for an archer.
      • Again, in Radiant Dawn, because a lot of characters were featured, many of them ended up being overshadowed by the others, sometimes because of their team composition (such as the Rolf and Shinon case), sometimes because of the time they join (which means that you will already have better trained units by the point they join), sometimes because others characters of the same class are just that good. Edward as a Trueblade pretty much overshadow the others, thanks to his fantastics growth rates, though Zihark stay a very good one thanks to his innate Adept skill. Either way, Edward, Mia or Zihark will overshadow Stefan (who joins way too late, though he does have wonderful stats) and Lucia (who is just that bad, and joins very late your party). Tormod is overshadowed by every others Sages (or Archsages), since he doesn't show up until the very endgame. Also, pretty much every laguz unit will get overshadowed once their kings (and queen) join your party. Yeah, you get a pretty solid party of Badass in Radiant Dawn.
      • An especially cruel example is Sothe, a mandatory unit and one of three candidates for the S-rank Dagger, who is flat-out inferior to Volke in literally everything he can do.
  • Similar to Ace Combat, Crimson Skies, a flight simulator set in an Alternate Universe version of the 1930's, has a few Real Life planes from the time period in it. They are nothing compared to the planes thought up by the game designers.
  • Most keyblades in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep pretty much become this. Alot of them increase your magic stat more. Which is good for Aqua; but for Terra and Ventus, you typically want to emphasize their strength stat more. While magic is far from useless; physical attacks from them deal more damage anyways. And even on Aqua's campaign, you get a keyblade that makes a good number of the magic-stat-increasing-only-ones inferior or equal mid-way through the game.
    • The keyblade you receive from Neverland gets hit the hardest. Before the endgame worlds, Neverland is the last world you complete. Literally right after you complete it, you have to go start an event somewhere else. And most of the time? You get a better keyblade that is essentially the Infinity-1 Sword. Unlike Kingdom Hearts where you had some good reasons for using other endgame keyblades, the Infinity-1 Sword is pretty much better in every way.
    • Kingdom Hearts II also has this happen a little, but mostly near the end, when you get keyblades left and right. The Decisive Pumpkin and later Oblivion keyblades are pretty much the Infinity-1 Sword, and around the end, you get plenty of keyblades from completing worlds or doing sidequests that are most easily completed around that timeframe...pretty much all of which inferior to those two. The only one(s) that are better are the ultima weapon and some that aren't available outside the final mix version, especially for the abilities.
  • Occurs regularly in Touhou, either because the Spell Card rules limit their effectiveness or simply because they are merely "very powerful" and going against someone who is "horrifically powerful". Hong Meiling and Cirno are the most obvious examples, the former an incredibly strong master martial artist in a realm where conflicts are settled with magical duels (and even her strength can't match the likes of Suika), and the latter perplexingly intelligent and powerful for a fairy but still ultimately a fairy, far surpassed by nearly everyone else.
  • Vaan and Penelo in Final Fantasy XII. The reason is fairly simple--they're Tagalong Kids with little to do with the main plot, which is a story of political strife between conflicting nations and monarchs. Vaan and Penelo are merely the viewpoint characters, its the adult characters around them who actually move the story forward. This includes party members Ashe, Basch and Balthier, who besides doing more for the plot also have more interesting backstories and more significant character growth. It's a case of Americans Hate Tingle though, as Vaan and Penelo are much more loved in Japan than in the West.
  • Mass Effect: If you read the dossier for Garrus in Lair of the Shadow Broker, it is noted that he is nearly as capable a leader and problem-solver as Shepard, but he's always going to be a follower while under Shepard's command.
    • Considering the situation when you meet him in Mass Effect 2, this is definitely the case. He had his own loyal to the end Badass Crew and together they took on the three biggest crime/ merc groups in the galaxy. They got so deadly that the groups called a truce from their own war, recruited a ton of random mooks just to waste his ammo then launched an all out assault against him when he was alone and cornered. And just to make sure they got him, they organized combat mechs and a gunship. The result? He holds out for three days before taking a rocket to the face from the gunship, and, even then, he's ready for action the next day.
    • Ashley is another example by the third game. She has been promoted to Staff Commander, commissioned as a Spectre and placed in command of the Normandy, and Shepard and Liara discuss how competent she's become in the first mission with her. But when Shepard is around, there's no question of who's in charge, or why.
  • Pokémon is starting to suffer from this in the competitive metagame, the two most obvious examples being the new Generation V dragons, Haxorus and Hydreigon. While Haxorus is a Lightning Bruiser with high Speed and an Attack three points shy of the very mightiest Olympus Mons and Hydreigon is a fast attacker with a good movepool and high Special Attack as well as Attack, both are considered outclassed at best and "crappy" at worst because they cannot compete with previously banned dragons such as Garchomp, Salamence, and Latios and Latias. Many other Pokemon similarly find themselves in low tiers not because they aren't awesome but because they aren't awesome enough.
    • Garchomp can induce this trope in freaking Legendaries. And it's been banned in meta again for Gen. V.
  • Demons in Demi Kids other than the main one (Rand or Gale) can't level up, so you have to catch and breed stronger monsters once in a while, then sacrifice the weak ones to level up your demon partner.
    • But then, in the Dark version, you can fuse demon to another demon for same demon, but stronger. Considering how easilly abusable the game's tournament was(win a tournament for a demon, rinse and repeat, and fuse), and combine this with skill parts that gives Multi hitting spells this translate into a lower tier monster capable of being on same level or stronger than the main one.
  • Mia in Golden Sun is introduced as a powerful Water Adept and a brilliant medical professional with her own apprentices at an Improbable Age. But she doesn't talk enough to show it beyond a few deadpan quips, and in The Lost Age, Piers is a more combat-suitable Water Adept.
    • Due to the way the class system worked, however, this could just as easily hit Felix's party as Isaac's. Because the developers only made new base classes for the second party, if you switched any Djinn around, Felix's party would wind up in classes designed for their counterpart in Isaac's. Piers was hit the hardest by this, as he was essentially a Fighter locked into Mage classes. Jenna and Sheba could perform decently in Garet and Ivan's classes, but were still often overshadowed by their respective counterparts. Only Felix, who was for all intents and purposes a clone of Isaac with only small differences in their base stats, offered a competitive alternative. And this was assuming the game's rather easily exploited transfer system didn't put Isaac's party twenty levels higher than Felix's.
    • Rief in Golden Sun Dark Dawn continues his mother's traditions in this trope, being a scholar as well as a healer, but soft-spoken (unless making smart remarks) and not good at fighting, leaving Karis to take over as The Smart Guy and Amiti as the combat-capable Water Adept. To add insult to injury, Karis also has an easier-to-use (if weaker) multi-target heal, meaning Rief is outclassed at his only other purpose.
  • Everyone in Disgaea Hour of Darkness once you unlock the Majin class. It's nearly impossible to do sowithout any guidance but once they become available it becomes technically pointless to use any other class and even the story characters because it essentially picks the best traits of every class and slap into a single character.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has Orlandu, who has better stats, comes with the best equipment you can get outside of Deep Dungeon and has all the skills available to Holy Knights and Divine Knights, as well the boss-only Dark Knight. To exemplify, he's perfectly able to defeat most enemies in a single blow (and even more than one at once) in his default class and with his default equipment as soon as you recruit him. Which is done automatically after a story battle.
    • To further clarify on this, he has second best stats in the game behind Reis, which means the only character that doesnt get overshadowed is Ramza and Beowulf(due to good unique skill) and females due to better range of equipment. Of course, this only if your talking about maximized stats. On normal basis literally nothing can compete with him and his effectiveness
    • Orlandu having better stats is Common Knowledge, but it isn't quite true. Holy Swordsman, his unique class, has very high stat modifiers. Orlandu's actual stat growth is well rounded, but he's roughly third tier for a unique character. If you switch him to another class to learn and use different skills, his stats do drop significantly.
    • Orlandu overshadows nearly everyone, but no one is hit harder by this than Meliadoul, who joins later than Orlandu, and whose special moves are all in Orlandu's moveset. The biggest advantage to Meliadoul over Orlandu is that she can use female-specific equipment. At least Agrias, who is similarly outclassed, is available much earlier in the game, meaning she'll probably have learned a bunch of useful skills by the time Orlandu joins.
  • in the original Pikmin game, one of the red pikmins' main traits is their powerful attack. in pikmin 2, however, they are overshadowed by purple pikmin, who have a much stronger attack stat and make reds useless for just about everything except taking out fire hazards.

Visual Novels

  • In Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai this happens to pretty much all the male leads. Gakuto in particular is shown to be able to hold off 70 people attacking him at once with a broken leg, but is hopelessly outclassed against almost all the characters. It also happens to some of the female characters, like Fushikawa or, tragically, Kazuko Kawakami.

Web Original

  • At the Super-Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, there are mutants who just don't have the best powers.
    • Aquerna possesses the spirit of the squirrel. She can do a 25-foot standing broad jump. She's far stronger and quicker than any normal human her size. She has super-senses. She can talk to and command squirrels. And she's regarded as one of the biggest losers on campus.
    • For that matter, Phase is a good example. Phase has pounded Matterhorn, fought an interdimensional demon to a standstill, one-punched Fantastico, and still thinks of himself as being in the bottom half of his team. He's probably right, given who's on his team.
  • In The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters and its sequels, Ringman would by most rights be considered a very powerful character: a 9th level AD&D paladin with 18/92 Strength, + 5 plate mail, and an intelligent + 5 holy avenger at his disposal. However, he pales to insignificance next to the overly-muchnkinned-out characters who're the stars in that universe, one of whom eventually gets a literal + infinity sword.
  • Cinema Bums illustrates this for Hawkeye in the Avengers movie in this strip.
  • In Homestuck, Dave Strider and his Bro get into a swordfight. Dave is awesome, but Bro is Crazy Awesome, starting off by beating Dave up with a marionette.
  • Despite indirectly providing the page quote, Cale of Looking for Group is actually an aversion: He starts out overshadowed by everyone, but once he takes a level in badass, he's much better. Krunch, the one who is introduced by tackling a dragon, is one of a pair of brothers, a scholar and a warrior. They both think it's hilarious that anyone could ever mistake him for the warrior.
  • This Darken strip sums it up. Ones a rogue who hunts down giant abominations for fun, the others a worshipper of Mephistopheles and the last remaining member of the city guard of the Drow's second most important city. But when they're on the same side as a half-dragon high priestess and a disciple of the devil bearing one of the most powerful artefacts in the world?
  • In Orion's Arm, terragen civilisation flourishes as it never has during the interplanetary age. Travel from one end of the solar system to the other is now possible. A resource based economy means undreamed of free time and availability of goods. Advances in genetic engineering, cybernetics, and other fields give rise to human-animal splices, animal-derived provolves, and the sapient robots known as vecs. As sophonts everywhere celebrate their newfound prosperity, diversity, unity, and technological mastery, the jubilant spell is rudely interupted by the revelation of a covert war which has been taking place for some time: Superintelligent agents, called transapients, have been manipulating the world behind the scenes with supreme finesse for decades. As their numbers gradually increased, they formed into various opposing factions, divided by their respective ideological differences. A fierce power struggle develops between those who are friendly to humanity (and other lesser terragens), and those who are not. After much strife, the "pro-humans" are the victors. The survivors of the other factions, the hostile "anti-humans" and indifferent or isolationist "ahumans", depart for the stars in craft fashioned and propelled by technologies far in advance of anything known to the ordinary terragens of the day. Baseline society had been completely unaware of the conflict up until this point, and were dumbfounded by how small and inconsequential they seemed in comparison to the transapients, who now step up to take a leading role in terragen civilisation.

Western Animation

  • Most people from Ben 10 who aren't the title character. Sure Gwen and Kevin are quite powerful on their own but they're massively overshadowed by the Omnitrix on Ben's wrist. Even plots from Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien that were about Gwen and Kevin could be wrapped up by just having Ben turn into whatever new alien.
  • Casey Jones from the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series straddles the line between Badass Normal and Overshadowed by Awesome depending on the situation. Being an important friend and ally to the Turtles, Casey Jones kicks all sorts of ass when he and his buddies are leaping from roof to roof, beating up Purple Dragons, Foot Soldiers, and your average Mooks. But when it comes down to battling against more powerful enemies such as Karai, Agent Bishop, the Rat King, General Khan, and the Shredder, it's made painfully clear that Casey isn't really in the same league as the Turtles and the bigger, nastier villains. Usually, he gets taken out quite early on while the Turtles are able to battle the Giant Mooks, Dragons, Big Bads on more even terms.
  • Aquaman. Aquaman, Aquaman, Aquaman. The writers on Superfriends had no idea what to do with him and constantly stuck him in embarrassingly useless roles that made him look utterly worthless compared to his teammates, leading to his name becoming synonymous with lame superheroes. This despite the fact that being super-strong and able to swim at super-speed and mentally command sea life would be incredibly powerful abilities in the real world. Though the latter abilities wouldn't have much use out of the water, and as mentioned below super-strength isn't much of a factor when you can't hit anyone.
  • Likewise, Hawkman on Superfriends was like Superman without the Super-- he could fly, big deal. Almost all the Superfriends could do that, and on a show with no hitting, having no other flashy yet nonviolent powers was the kiss of death. Now, Hawkgirl, she lucked out, getting on a show where she was allowed to hit. And she certainly exercised the privilege.
  • Booster Gold's Day in The Limelight episode on Justice League Unlimited was something of an insightful subversion of the trope. Although the other Justice League members were engaged in an epic battle, the C-List Fodder had to go and deal with The End of the World as We Know It that everyone else was overlooking.
  • Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends was an odd example in that the title character was overshadowed by his friends. Firestar has a custom made instant change costume and Iceman just ices up. All the bystanders are saved while Peter Parker is still changing his pants. Iceman freezes a pond, Firestar incinerates a meteorite, Spider-man... needs more web fluid. Iceman even had better lines sometimes. Funny to think how the team would be in the comics where Iceman and Firestar gradually got more powerful.
  • Gantu, the main antagonist of the Lilo and Stitch TV series, was a 20-foot tall bipedal shark with matching incredible superhuman strength. Unfortunately for him he was massively outclassed by his main opposition, who was basically a walking nuke who could probably turn a platoon of Space Marines into mush. As a result, Gantu rapidly became a Harmless Villain and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain despite being a frickin' 20-foot tall sharkman.
  • While Robin may be the leader on Teen Titans (and a veritable Badass Normal), when your teammates have Eye Beams, an Arm Cannon, the ability of Animorphism, and basically any power at all, you might get lost in the shuffle after yelling "Titans Go!". Strongly subverted in an episode where Robin leaves the country to seek out a new martial arts mentor and all of his teammates sneak into his room to put on his spare uniforms and pretend they're as cool as they think he is.
  • Sokka on Avatar: The Last Airbender was frequently overshadowed by the other main characters due to not having any bending powers - particularly during Book One. (Toph, being Toph, once excluded Sokka when considering the number of combatants, much to his annoyance.) Becomes subverted in later seasons, as not only does he become a more competent fighter - especially during Book Three - but he proves to be a much more capable strategist and tactician than all his friends combined, making him a crucial member by this point. Halfway through Book Three, he even uses his knowledge of physics to great effect and ends up causing the death of a major antagonist - with a boomerang!
    • Zuko is this within his own family. His sister Azula is a firebending prodigy who uses awesome blue fire and lightning, but he's not nearly as talented. This, among other reasons, is why he's The Unfavorite.
    • Katara also suffered a bit of this in the first book, being consistently outdone by Aang (who was basically new to the concept of water bending, while Katara has been practicing for years). It motivated her to get better and was the plotpoint for a number of episodes, before she took a level in badass at the end of Book One, mastering Waterbending incredibly quickly once she got a teacher, surpassing even Aang and later becoming his teacher when she found herself a competent master. Also an example of Tropes Are Tools, as a lot of fans were annoyed at Katara's rapid, unexplained progress and Aang, being the avatar, having good reason to overshadow her.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes had two:
    • Wasp tried really hard to a Breakout Character and expy of Hawk Girl, but winds up going episodes at a time without meeting even one non-mook enemy who can be affected by her tiny energy blasts. Note that she's working with somewhere between one and four Badass Normals at any given time. She, a women who could shrink, fly and shoot energy blasts, was, at several points, objectively less exciting than Captain America.
    • Even more surprisingly, Iron Man himself tends to lose most fights he gets into, likely because the armor makes him an Iron Butt Monkey, and even gets overshadowed at science things by Henry Pym and Black Panther.
  • Lance of Voltron: Legendary Defender worries about this as he doesn't have the genius of Pidge and Hunk nor the tactical and fighting abilities of Shiro and Keith.

Real Life

  • This happened to most of the Jackson family (The Jackson 5/The Jacksons) once Michael Jackson became a megastar with Thriller. Sister Janet subsequently becoming a big star in her own right served to further overshadow the other siblings.
  • George Harrison of The Beatles, who was overshadowed by the Lennon-McCartney songwriting powerhouse for most of the band's existence. Learning from and competing with them drove him to become a formidable songwriter in his own right, and his ballad "Something" became one of the most covered songs in the Beatles catalogue. Infamously, Frank Sinatra called it "the best love song written in the past 50 years"... and then promptly attributed it to Lennon and McCartney.
    • Also to his credit his song 'Here Comes the Sun' is the most listened to Beatles song on Youtube (only being beaten in views by a small child trying to sing 'Hey Jude').
  • Simon Nicol is a skilled guitarist, excellent singer and not bad as a songwriter. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune to be in Fairport Convention in the era featuring the awe-inspiring guitarist/songwriter Richard Thompson, as well as the chillingly talented singer/songwriter Sandy Denny.
  • Marc Coppola is a nationally-syndicated DJ, whose uncle and cousin are Oscar-winning directors, his brother is an Oscar-winning actor, his late grandfather an Oscar-winning film scorer, and several other relatives are high profile actors and musicians. Once in an interview, Howard Stern remarked "in any other family, you'd be top of the heap, but in the Coppolas, you're kind of the nobody."
  • On a similar note to Coppola, there's John Michael Attenborough who has two brothers. Richard, an actor known for a few big films, and David who's perhaps the most famous nature presenter in the world next to Steve Irwin. At least John's got something going for him as an executive of Alfa Romeo.
  • The Thespians at Thermopylae were overshadowed by the awesomeness of the Spartans and are not remembered enough. And considering that the thing they died for was at least partly that it would be remembered that Thespians had been as brave as Spartans it rather behooves us to remember.
    • Not to mention the Thebans.
  • Be honest with yourself, how many of you out there have suffered this? No matter how good you at are something, there is always that one person you run into that makes all your hard earned effort look like an amateur's work in compared to their own skills. Can be worse when you for the first time sign up for some club or class to specifically train yourself the area of your interest, but you're surrounded by people who have been there for years. So you're surrounded by a whole group of people that can be perceived better than you.
  • Happened hundreds, if not thousands, of times across history. Scientists/Artists of all kinds/Politicians/etc... who would have been genius if a bigger one hadn't been born at the same time. Sometimes History does them justice and remembers them better than they were at the time (in which they were overshadowed), and sometimes they remain overshadowed for eternity...
  • The Jordanian Army, is good, but it had the misfortune to be pitted against the IDF.
    • In their defense, every time war broke out with Israel they did least worst out of their coalition, and wised up and stopped warring with them in later conflicts first.
  • Back at the height of Shoegazing in The Nineties, any band not named My Bloody Valentine qualified for this distinction, most notably Slowdive.
    • The rabbit hole gets even deeper than that. Out of the bands that weren't MBV, there were a slew of shoegazing bands that had moderate fanbases that even eclipsed some of the even more obscure bands of the genre. This resulted in a rare case of being doubly Overshadowed By Awesome. Some of these bands included Majesty Crush, Lilys, Telescopes, the Pale Saints, and most notably, Kitchens of Distinction. The later of the bands had heavy critical acclaim and have had a heavy influence on much music throughout the nineties but have been mostly forgotten by the masses.
    • This happens with modern bands as well, with even many early "Nu-Gaze" bands getting compared to My Vitriol. However, after that band became Reclusive Artist, MBV became the focus again.
  • Many chess experts consider Anatoly Karpov to be the second-greatest grandmaster ever to play the game. Guess who he's mainly remembered for spending his career as foil to.
    • And that guy in turn is remembered largely for being a foil for Deep Blue !
  • Most adaptations of Alan Moore films: they're actually pretty good films, if you look at them as separate from the comics they come from. But because they're compared to the comics they (very loosely) adapt, they're completely trashed because Alan Moore's comics are fucking BRILLIANT.
  • John F. Kennedy once addressed a dinner of Nobel Prize winners at the White House: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
  • Robert Kennedy of the three famous brothers, but really the entire Kennedy family was overshadowed by John.
    • Who himself was overshadowed by his eldest brother Joseph up until Joseph's death in WWII.
  • The name Phedon Papamichael might not mean much to people outside the film circle but he's made a respectable career as a cinematographer (being the regular cinematographer for Alexander Payne and James Mangold). However, his proteges Janusz Kaminski, Mauro Fiore and Wally Pfister have all managed to surpass him in recognition and acclaim (all three have won Oscars for their work, Papamichael has never been nominated). Also overshadowed by awesome in terms of family: his uncle was famous indie director John Cassavetes.
  • This is one argument made about the quality of The Godfather Part III. The first two films are absolute masterpieces. As a result, some people think that Part III isn't a bad film, as others argue, but is a good film overshadowed by its great predecessors.
  • Poor Nick Jonas. By most reasonable standards, he was quite good at the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables as Marius. Unfortunately for him, he was standing next to the likes of Alfie Boe and Ramin Karimloo, and he paled in comparison.
    • Ditto Samantha Barks as Eponine, who was good enough to be cast in the film version over dozens of big-name actresses, but who has the misfortune of being compared to legendary names like Lea Salonga and Frances Ruffelle and will therefore always come in third-rate no matter how good she is. (However, her situation is made quite a bit better by the fact that the aforementioned legendary names were cheering her casting like it was going out of style.)
  • Alexander the Great and Charlemagne. Their fathers would have easily been called "Great", if not for the sons.
  1. Outside of your home country if any of those four hail from there
  2. New York had three MLB teams during the first half of the 20th century before the Dodgers and Giants moved to California