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Deuteragonist. The second guy. No, not the Sidekick, who follows the main character around. Not the Supporting Protagonist, who is the main character yet not the focus of the story. Not the false protagonist either. The second person the show revolves around.

The Deuteragonist (from Greek: second actor) is the second important character in the story; the first is, of course, The Protagonist. This person can be either with, or against The Protagonist - thus sometimes pulling double duty as a main Antagonist, though they are rarely the primary antagonist in these scenarios. We can see how their actions drive the plot just as much as those of The Protagonist. If there's another example of this trope in play following the previous one, then that character is the Tritagonist.

An important aspect is that we see quite a bit of the story from this character's point of view, and that they get a good amount of screen time/pages.

Subtropes include Supporting Leader. The Sidekick or The Lancer can become a Deuteragonist if given enough focus on their own. In a romance story, the Official Couple will usually be the protagonist and deuteragonist. If a character seems like a Deuteragonist but doesn't get as much screentime, they're likely the Hero of Another Story. Compare Two Lines, No Waiting, where the plots don't actually intersect.

Dramatica calls this character the Impact Character, while The Hollywood Formula refers to this as the Relationship character.

Examples of Deuteragonist include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass
  • In Death Note, the Deuteragonist is L, then later Mello and Near, all of which are also the antagonists. Misa Amane or Ryuk the shinigami is the Tritagonist.
  • Takamura Mamoru from Hajime no Ippo could also be considered one.
    • With Itagaki Manabu and Miyata Ichiro as tritagonists.
  • Batou of Ghost in the Shell. Long-time partner of The Major, he even becomes The Protagonist after The Major vanishes. Fits the role in the TV series too.
    • In the first season, Togusa might be this or the tritagonist, given that he does a lot of the actual legwork in investigating The Laughing Man and tends to have more Days In The Limelight. He's also used as a Foil to the rest of the cast, being more down to earth and much more of a newcomer (having been recruited recently as a police officer and having virtually no cyborg implants until the third movie). Not to mention he's almost always Locked Out of the Loop to set up The Reveal of unspoken plans (the best example being the final episode of the first season, which recaps on the events entirely from his perspective and avoids revealing the team survived and he's the last member to be brought back and debriefed until the end).
  • Yang Wen-Li in Legend of Galactic Heroes.
  • Jounouchi/Joey in Yu-Gi-Oh!, according to Word of God. In the anime adaptation, Kaiba is made deuteragonist and Joey is the definite tritagonist.
  • Madlax and Margaret Burton in Madlax, though it's difficult to say who is the main girl and who, the second, since technically, they are the same person in two separate bodies.
  • Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
    • Depending on whom you think is The Protagonist of StrikerS, Nanoha or Subaru, the other one would be the Deuteragonist.
  • From Full Metal Panic, Kaname Chidori is this to the series' protagonist Sosuske Sagara. One might even say she's even the main protagonist of the second series Fumoffu.
  • Krillin held this position in the first half of Dragon Ball. He lost it to Tenshinhan from the 22nd Budokai, to the end of Part 1. Master Roshi was the Tritagonist.
    • Gohan in Dragonball Z, with Vegeta as the tritagonist. But by the end, these positions were swapped.
    • The very first Dragon Ball arc had Bulma as the deuteragonist and Yamcha as the tritagonist.
  • Athrun Zala in the Cosmic Era timeline.
    • Disputed in Destiny. Before POV shift, Destiny had Shinn as protagonist, Athrun as deuteragonist, and Kira as triteragonist. At the end, Kira is the protagonist, Athrun still deuteragonist, and Shinn is the triteragonist. On average, and in the Special edition anyway, Athrun is the main character (which is odd because he always pilots a red Gundam, while the hero's Gundam has to be white/blue/red).
  • Saji Crossroad during Mobile Suit Gundam 00's second season.
  • Sasuke Uchiha develops into this near the end of the first half of Naruto. Shippuden has had some full length arcs with Sasuke as the lead character and he plays a very important role in Naruto's motives.
  • In Busou Renkin, Tokiko, and to a lesser extent, Papillion.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index has Accelerator (eventually) as the deuteragonist, and Shiage Hamazura as the tritagonist.
  • Homura Akemi of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of these for the main character of the show.
  • The deuteragonist shifts in Weiss Kreuz. Omi holds the title for Kapitel, Sena does for Gluhen, and Ken takes over for Side B. Youji, meanwhile, only ever gets as high as the tritagonist in Gluhen.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a different one depending on what part of the story you're in. The first part it's Kamina (who is also the Decoy Protagonist), the second it's Nia, the third it's Rossiu and then Viral.
  • Ryohou in the first half of S-Cry-ed. In the second half, he's a true joint protagonist with Kazuma.
  • Detective Conan-- in Osaka arcs Heiji is often this, while in Non Serial Movies deuteragonists has become a common scene--some use recurring characters, but some used One Off Characters.
  • Zenkichi Hitoyoshi serves as deuteragonist to Medaka Kurokami's protagonist in Medaka Box. Zenkichi gets quite a bit of screen time, primarily because he often the POV and narrator.
    • Lately, Misogi Kumagawa seems to have snatched the role tritagonist.
  • Zatch Bell's book owner Kiyo Takamine definitely counts.
  • Blood Plus has Kai as the deuteragonist to Saya's protagonist. David is the tritagonist.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Barnaby is the Deuteragonist to his partner Kotetsu's Hero Protagonist. Their screen-time division is about 40% and 60% respectively; Barnaby's past and involvement with the show's Big Bad is what leads to Kotetsu being drawn into the main plot. Kotetsu is effectively the catalyst for the emotions, ideals and philosophies that the story tries to put across while Barnaby provides the drive for the plot.
  • Meeting, and subsequently providing shelter to, Tokito Minoru from Wild Adapter is the reason Anti-Hero protagonist Kubota Makoto becomes involved in the plot proper. Page-time division is something like 45% and 55%, especially later on in the story where Tokito becomes more and more involved with Kubota's life and vice-versa.
  • The Steel Ball Run arc of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure has an interesting variant. Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli share the protagonist role equally for the first 21 volumes, but Gyro dies at the hands of the arc's Big Bad after failing to defeat him, leading to Johnny taking the spotlight completely in the last 3 volumes.
  • Another anomalous example can be seen in GetBackers. Due to the anime being produced while the manga was less than halfway through its storyline, Ban, who's past and personality is explored much later on in the manga than his partner and best friend Ginji's, appears to be a cross between the Deuteragonist and The Artifact. In the manga he is the Deuteragonist during the first 12 or so volumes, but is later promoted to share the protagonist role with Ginji.
  • Makise Kurisu in Steins;Gate, but more so in the second half.
  • Chrono in the manga version of Chrono Crusade, while Rosette Christopher is the protagonist.
  • Reki from Haibane Renmei. Initially she serves as a mentor to protagonist Rakka, but it soon becomes clear she has a whole story of her own.
  • Starting from the Advance Generation series onward, Pokémon isn't just about Ash Ketchum anymore. His female companions (May during the aforementioned AG saga, and later Dawn) also get their focus by7 having a quest running concurrently with Ash's.
  • Enju Aihara from Black Bullet.


Comic Books Edit

  • Destro from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Although to be honest, the old Larry Hama comics are chock full of Deuteragonists and Tritagonists. Destro was the villain who wasn't so villainous, who had a code of honor, and who we very often see stories told through his Point-Of-View, so much to the point where we have two views of the evil Cobra organization - first through the eyes of the G.I. Joes, and second through the eyes of Destro, the arms dealer.
  • In Batman: Year One Jim Gordon is the deuteragonist of the story along with Batman.

Film Edit

  • Star Wars
    • Darth Vader is this in the series as whole, serving as the tragic hero of the first trilogy, while the second trilogy charts his time as The Dragon up until his final redemption. Ultimately Luke Skywalker is the protagonist of the whole series, with the first trilogy ending at his birth and the second trilogy ending with his heroic triumph.
    • Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Prequel trilogy, with Yoda as the tritagonist.
  • Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films, with Woody as the main protagonist and Jessie is the tritagonist.
  • Jack Sparrow was originally suppose to be the Deuteragonist in the original Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, with Will as the Protagonist, but Jack's popularity just took off. In the end, Jack became the Protagonist, Will the Deuteragonist, and Elizabeth the Tritagonist.
  • Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, with Batman/Bruce Wayne as the main protagonist and James Gordon as the tritagonist.
  • Thao in Gran Torino
  • Annie Hall in Annie Hall, despite being the title character. She is the protagonist's Love Interest.


Literature Edit

  • Holly Short from the Artemis Fowl series, especially in the first two book before she teams up with Artemis, she acts as a Hero Antagonist in contrast to Artemis's intial role as Villain Protagonist, during this period the story revolves around her almost as much as with Artemis and the readers are made to sympathise with her. It is more evident in the Graphic Novels where she serves as the second narrator in the stories.
  • Will Parry in the His Dark Materials trilogy. He isn't even introduced till the second book.
  • Melanie Stryder in The Host
  • Mikael Blomkvist in The Millennium Trilogy. He and Lisbeth Salander are developed quite a bit as separate characters, but once they team up the plot centers around them both.
  • Ellis Boyd Redding in The Shawshank Redemption, also serving as Supporting Protagonist.
  • Edward Cullen in Twilight
    • Jacob Black is the tritagonist.
  • In the first Mistborn book, Kelsier is the Deuteragonist (while he's actually introduced first of the main characters, and is the Big Good, most of the POVs end up revolving around his protege Vin). After he dies, Vin remains The Protagonist while Elend takes up the role of Deuteragonist and Sazed gets promoted to tritagonist.
    • In the same author's Elantris, Prince Raoden is The Protagonist, Sarene is the Deuteragonist, and Hrathen is the tritagonist.
    • All of Brandon Sanderson's fantasy books utilize this trope, such as Warbreaker, where Vivenna is the protagonist, Siri is the deuteragonist, and Lightsong is the tritagonist, and The Way of Kings, where Kaladin is the protagonist, Shallan is the deuteragonist, and Dalinar is the tritagonist (the latter two get about the same amount of pagetime, but Shallan is introduced first).
  • Discworld has a number of perennial deuteragonists, including Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson (in the stories featuring Sam Vimes as the protagonist), Nanny Ogg (in stories focusing on Granny Weatherwax), and even Death himself (in the stories primarily centered around his granddaughter, Susan).
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim plays this role to Huck, with Tom Sawyer as the tritagonist.
  • In PC Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Torisen is the deuteragonist to Jame's protagonist from the second book and onwards.
  • Kahlan Amnell in the Sword of Truth series, with Richard as the protagonist and Zedd as the tritagonist. In the seventh book, Oba Rahl becomes this.[1] In the Chainfire Trilogy, it is uncertain who is what, given the shifting of roles, but the top three are definitely Richard, Kahlan, and Nicci in some order.
  • Roran Stronghammer in The Inheritance Cycle, with Eragon as the protagonist and Murtagh as the tritagonist, according to Word of God. Other possible interpretations include Eragon > Saphira > Roran, Eragon/Saphira > Roran > Murtagh, and Eragon > Roran > Nasuada.
  • In The Wheel of Time series Matt and Perrin are the primary Deuteragonists, although there are numerous tritagonists over the course of the series.
    • The Golden Girls, particularly Elayne and Egwene could also be Deuteragonists. Nynaeve is definitely more a tritagonist.
  • Fisk, in the Knight and Rogue Series, since he's 'just' the squire while Michael is the knight.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo is the protagonist, Sam is the deuteragonist, and Aragorn is the tritagonist
    • In Tolkien's The Children of Hurin, though Nienor isn't introduced as a major player until about two thirds of the way through, owing to the approx. ten year age gap between herself and her brother Turin (the protagonist), once she does show up, she slips into this role.
  • The eponymous unicorn in Cerberon is a very close second to George, who is the protagonist for most of the story. After George and Margaret are betrothed, and especially once they leave Aeronweyir for America, Cerberon becomes the protagonist, with George taking on a secondary role.


Live Action TV Edit

  • Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for it's first three seasons, before he spun off to his own show.
  • Dr. Cox in Scrubs.
  • Gus in Psych is a wonderful example.
    • Which would make Juliet the tritagonist, and Lasseter the... qua...tragonist?
  • Angela's parents in My So-Called Life.
  • Spock emerges as the Deuteragonist of Star Trek: The Original Series fairly early on; David Gerrold has said that the show was originally supposed to be about "Kirk and X", where character "X" would alternate every week, but Spock was repeatedly placed in that position, and it stuck. This trend was amplified in the movies, and especially in the reboot. (In fact, in the reboot, Spock can be said to be the Deuteragonist and the tritagonist). McCoy, on the other hand, despite being the third member of the Power Trio, is defined largely by his interactions with Kirk and Spock.
  • Though Star Trek: The Next Generation seemed to establish Riker as the Deuteragonist at first (Kirk-ish personality, Expy of would-be Star Trek: Phase II Deuteragonist Willard Decker, and Jonathan Frakes having star billing alongside Patrick Stewart), he was quickly usurped by Data. This was readily apparent in the movies, which amounted to Picard and Data having grand adventures among talking set-pieces.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager both introduced their Deuteragonist in the fourth season: Worf and Seven of Nine, respectively. In both cases, this resulted in the previous deuteragonist (Kira and the Doctor, respectively) being demoted to tritagonist.
  • Jack Donaghy on Thirty Rock.
  • Jesse Pinkman is the deuteragonist to Walter White's protagonist in Breaking Bad.
  • This really is a staple of the more recent Kamen Rider series as to date, all of them have a secondary protagonist who provide as much if not more importance to the storyline as the titular character from their respective series. These second protagonists aren't necessarily the Second Riders that are another staple of the franchise and many aren't even Riders in the first place.
  • Ultraman has this example before even Kamen Rider. Ultraman Agul/Hiroya Fujimiya from Ultraman Gaia is the first and most notable. Later Ultraman Nexus would have Himeya Jun, later replaced by Senjyu Ren.
  • In Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger the villains Rio and Mele are just as important to the story as the main heroes.
  • Joseph Bede from The Shadow Line. His drug deal gets a lot of focus over the entire series, despite only rarely intersecting with protagonist Jonah Gabriel's investigation into Harvey Wratten's death. In addition, Gatehouse is a tritagonist.
  • D'Angelo Barksdale in the first season of The Wire.
    • If you can apply this to a group of people, then the focus of each season apart from the Major Case Squad: the dock workers (season 2), Bunny Colvin and his people (season 3), the middle-school kids (season 4), and the newspaper people (season 5).
    • You can also make a good case for Frank Sobatka and Stringer Bell being the Deuteragonist for seasons 2 and 3 respectively.
  • Depending on who you view as the protagonist, either Lorelai or Rory on Gilmore Girls.
  • Debra Morgan in Dexter
  • Spencer in ICarly
  • At this point in the series, Sam from Supernatural is the deuteragonist to Dean, with Bobby as the tritagonist.
    • Contrasting with early in the first season of the show where Sam was clearly the protagonist and Dean the deuteragonist (and their father, John, maybe the tritagonist).
  • River in Firefly, as a substantial number of episodes in the series' short run centered around her. It became much more clear that River was the second protagonist during Serenity.
  • John in the BBC's Sherlock is just as important as the eponymous detective
  • Londo in Babylon 5. Word of God has even said the story is almost as much about Londo as about Sheridan.
  • Prince and later King Arthur from Merlin had his journey from being a Jerk Jock "Well Done, Son" Guy to The Wise Prince and later The Good King parallel Merlin's development from his Beleaguered Assistant to The Good Chancellor.
  • Shane Vendrell to Vic Mackey's Protagonist on The Shield.
  • Daenerys Tagaryen in Game of Thrones. We learn early on that her family were the antagonists to the "real" leads, Houses Baratheon and Stark, but by the time we get to her, those guys are long gone and she is very much The Woobie, with a mountain of Character Development in store, even if she never meets any of the main players in Westeros in fact, two of them have died long before she even catches wind of it in season 2.

Video Games Edit

  • The Arbiter (Thel 'Vadam) in Halo: He's the main character in several levels of Halo 2, and fights beside Master Chief in Halo 3.
  • Alyx Vance in Half-Life 2.
  • Almaz in Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice.
  • Zero in the Mega Man X series, especially starting at around X4. He even takes over as the main character in the Sequel Series, Mega Man Zero, after X disappears.
    • Axl, debuting in X7, is the X series' tritagonist. Notably, X7 and X8 are (more) focused on him than X or Zero.
  • In the Tokimeki Memorial series, and if discounting the main male protagonist:
    • 1 : Yukari was planned as this to Shiori in the initial development stages of the game, but the idea was ultimately scrapped, and Shiori remained the sole main heroine ;
    • 4 : Yuu (to Maki) ;
    • Drama Series Vol. 3 : Tabidachi no Uta : Miharu (to Shiori), if going the Miharu route ;
    • Substories 1 : Dancing Summer Vacation : Kaori, or the Shirayuki twins (to Miyuki), depending on which one you choose as Miyuki's DDR partner.
  • Rena or Claude in Star Ocean : The Second Story, depending on which of the two you choose as the main character at the beginning.
  • Luigi fits this role in many Super Mario games, especially in the early ones, where he was playable as a sprite recolor of Mario. He still has that role in many of the recent Mario games, having just as big of a role as Mario in the Mario and Luigi games, and even appearing in both Super Mario Galaxy games as an alternative to playing Mario. It's not called Super Mario Bros without a reason, y'know. Bowser is another recent example, strangely enough, having his own separate storyline in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door and technically being the the real hero of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
  • Princess Zelda for the most part is this in The Legend of Zelda series naturally. In some games, however, she's the Tritagonist, while characters like Midna or Linebeck serve as the Deuteragonist.
  • Riku in Kingdom Hearts has progressively become this, starting with Chain of Memories, where he takes over as the playable character in his own story once Sora's story finishes, and cemented past Kingdom Hearts II.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 3D, he becomes the truest form of this, being playable throughout the entire story along with Sora, and ends up being the one who faces the final bosses of the game in order to rescue Sora.
  • Miles Edgeworth plays an important role in the plot of the first two Ace Attorney games (as well as a minor role in the third), and the fifth and sixth games feature him as the player character. The series' face, however, will forever be Phoenix Wright.
  • In Final Fantasy VI it's hard to tell who the primary protagonist is among Terra, Celes, and Locke. But there is a pro-, deuter-, and tritagonist, make no mistake.
  • Final Fantasy VII had Aerith in this role, while Barret and Tifa were pretty evenly tied as the Tritagonists. Once Aerith dies, Tifa steps into the Deuteragonist role, leaving Barret as the sole Tritagonist.
  • Rinoa is the Deuteragonist in Final Fantasy VIII, while Laguna is the Tritagonist.
  • Final Fantasy IX has Garnet and Vivi. Which one is the Deuteragonist or Tritagonist depends on your point of view.
  • Yuna is this to Tidus of Final Fantasy X. She even tells him "it's your story, but it's my story too."
  • While formerly The Big Guy of the Five-Man Band, Augustus Cole is promoted to this at the start of Gears of War 3. The second half of the first Act is played from his perspective, and is the only time in all three campaigns that player 1 isn't controlling Marcus Fenix.
  • Marisa Kirisame in Touhou. Even the creator give a subtle nod to this: the name of the game might be Project Shrine Maiden, but the application icon of the game is Marisa.
    • Recently, Sanae Kochiya has been gaining prominence, and she's not exactly on Reimu's side of things.
  • Fate/Stay Night's Rin Tohsaka is one of the primary heroines (though not necessarily love interest). She's the only character besides Shirou who gets first-person P.O.V. scenes, and plays a major role in every route of the game (unlike the other villains and supporting characters, whose role may be significantly downplayed).
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, it's Delita Heiral, the former best friend of Ramza Beolve who's actions play a major part in shaping the plot. The story is his as much as it is Ramza's, with them taking divergent paths that nonetheless criss-cross throughout the game from start to finish.
  • Dragon Age Origins has Alistair and Morrigan as possible Deuteragonist and Tritagonist, which is which is naturally open to debate.


Web Comics Edit

  • Faye from Questionable Content.
  • In Order of the Stick, Haley and Elan more or less take turns as deuteragonist and tritagonist.
    • Start of Darkness fits this perfectly: Redcloak is the protagonist, Xykon is the deuteragonist and antagonist, and Right-Eye is the tritagonist.
  • According to Word of God, Karkat is the Deuteragonist in Homestuck to Protagonist John, as he takes the roll of John's Foil when the focus shifts off of the kids and onto the trolls. When the series shifts yet again to a second set of kids, Jane becomes the series' Tritagonist.


Web Original Edit


Western Animation Edit

  • Zuko and Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which is the Deuteragonist and which is the Tritagonist depends on how you view things.
  • Jake is this for Finn in Adventure Time.
  • Helga on Hey Arnold, to Arnold himself.
  • Dib to Invader Zim, of the opposing kind.
  • Riley Freeman on The Boondocks, with his older brother Huey as Protagonist and their grandfather Robert as Tritagonist.
  • Teen Titans tended to focus on one character per seasonal arc as the protagonist, but a couple of them had Deuteragonists as well- notably, Beast Boy was the Deuteragonist to Terra's Protagonist in season 2, and Robin was the Deuteragonist to Raven's Protagonist in season 4.
  • The Cutie Mark Crusaders are collectively the deuteragonist cast of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.
  • Oliver and Company: Dodger to Oliver

Notes

  1. Richard and Kahlan have only a brief appearance, with Jennsen replacing them as the protagonist.

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