Throwaway Characters Who Made An Unexpected Comeback In Sequels

List Rules
Vote up the minor characters who level up in sequels.

Not all characters are meant for stardom - that is just a fact of life and storytelling. But sometimes, whether it's because they lit up the screen with their performance, or because fans couldn't get enough of them, some roles do make the jump to relevancy as a movie series goes on. While not an extremely common occurrence, there are more examples of this phenomenon than one might think, and they come in a variety of genres and types of films ranging from action to comedy to horror and pretty much everything in between. While sometimes their roles change vastly, other times they simply receive more screentime and are inserted as a primary character after previously residing in a background. 

One way that has found many characters take the next step up is actually thanks to the initial series ending and then years later being rebooted. This is the case with many characters below, who are being reinserted in a reboot of a franchise so that their familiar face provides a link between the first film/s, and fans can more directly see a connection between the old stories and new. Other times, the elevation to becoming primary characters may come more from a place of need from the writers, as series like Mission: Impossible and other action franchises frequently kill off recognizable faces with each film. 

So while the characters below may not have started off their franchises as stars, they ended up playing pivotal roles, or at the very least had their fame rise enough to become known names synonymous with their respective series. 

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  • Marcus Brody is an archeologist and academic who often times filled a father-like role to the titular character of Indiana Jones, as well as helping him set up expeditions and adventures as he does in Raiders of the Lost Ark. In Raiders, Brody appears once in the beginning of the film while introducing Indy to government agents who are sending him to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. Aside from this one scene, Brody appears once more towards the end of the film when he is alongside Indy finding out the disappointing news that the ark will likely never again see the light of day. He would not go on to make an appearance in the second film of the series, Temple of Doom

    He would, however, make his return to a life of adventure in the third film of the series, The Last Crusade, in which he accompanies Jones on an overseas journey in search of his longtime friend, Indy’s father Henry. Clearly not in his element, he struggles to adapt to the rapidly escalating and dangerous environment he has put himself in, but that doesn’t stop him from being imperative to the mission. At one point, he is even entrusted with a valuable map that is greatly desired by their Nazi foes. This is when he appears in one of the funniest scenes in the entire series - when Indy goes on a long and confident rant to the Nazis about how they will never find the fleeing Brody due to his in-depth knowledge of foreign languages and customs, but a quick cut reveals that Marcus is helplessly begging for assistance on a busy Turkish street while asking if anyone speaks English or ancient Greek. 

    Though he does lose the crucially important map, it is undeniable that his role is much larger in this film, and so while he may not be the best adventurer, he is along for the whole wild ride. Not to mention another great moment he has in this film when he tells a Nazi officer he would rather spit in his face than accept a drink from him, but proceeds to take a swig from his flask anyways. What a legend. 

    31 votes
  • Dr. Henry Wu is the very reason that the science in Jurassic Park that gives them the ability to bring dinosaurs back to life exists, so why is it that he is basically a background character in the first film of the franchise? Well, maybe it was because his role as the person explaining the science behind the operations, like he was in the book, was largely replaced with the animatronic visitor guide Mr. DNA. So for the most part, the only thing we see and learn of Wu in Jurassic Park is the fact that he wasn’t afraid to try combining other animals' DNA with dinos, despite moral and safety concerns from his fellow researchers. This will continue as a theme for this character the next time he would appear - over 20 years later in the reboot/sequel, Jurassic World

    When he makes his long-awaited return to the franchise, similar questions and concerns are raised about the ethics and safety of his DNA splicing work to those that were raised in the first movie, and his team of researchers certainly doesn’t share his same unbending optimism about the potential of what they have created on this new island. Now, instead of just making clones like in the old days, Wu’s new obsession as the head researcher is creating hybrid dinosaurs and is seemingly designing the ultimate killing machine of a creature. His ambition is simply too great, and his science goes off the rails like people warned him it might, and it results in the escape of his newest and deadliest hybrid yet, which in turn destroys the entire park and unleashes chaos on all its visitors. So while his role as head of the department may have remained consistent between the two films, his screentime and level of blame deserved for the unfortunate events happening aren't nearly equal between the two.

    50 votes
  • Silent Bob From 'Clerks'
    Photo: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back / Miramax Films

    While Kevin Smith’s ViewAskew universe may not be what most people jump to when they think of big movie franchises, it may surprise some that there have been 10 films featured in the native New Jerseyan’s self-contained cinematic world (with plenty more to come). It all began with Clerks, Smith’s 1994 black-and-white DIY film that is equally goofy and crude as it is oddly thought-provoking. Filmed at night at the very gas station Smith worked at during the day, he knew making his movie-making dreams come true wouldn’t be easy, but once his dream was becoming a reality and he was making the thing, he figured the best keepsake imaginable would be to put himself in the movie, which is exactly what he did. 

    So, this is how maybe the most talkative man on the planet created a role for himself in which his entire personality is that he doesn’t speak, Silent Bob. He, along with his best friend, the chaotically vile Jay, sells weed and hilariously wastes time outside the convenience store where the film takes place. In Clerks, they really are just there for random bursts of comedic support and have no actual importance to the plot, so Jay and Silent Bob take a backseat to the rest of the characters. This wouldn’t continue, though, as Smith kept making movies that all took place within the same cinematic universe, and with each of his films, the two stoner characters' importance expanded.

    In his next two films, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, they would make slightly longer appearances and have slightly more to do with the main story, even if still only being comedic support. But in his next film, Dogma, the two play vital roles and they become two of the main cast. After Dogma, his next film would be entitled Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and this, the first of the duo’s stand-alone films, elevated them from side characters to the main subjects of a film. Who would have thought this throwaway role that Smith thought would be funny to play himself would end up being one of the most beloved and recognized parts of his filmography and career? 

    34 votes
  • 4
    24 VOTES

    Marie In 'Rocky Balboa'

    In Rocky, there is a nice scene in which a young and tough girl is accompanied by Sylvester Stallone's famous boxer on her long walk home at night. While making sure she gets home safely, Rocky is telling her about how she needs to stay out of trouble in order to be successful and that she needs to stop smoking as she is only a kid still. This sincere scene ends with her angrily yelling that he is a “creepo” and running off, but it will always stick out as one of the many examples pointing to the unique, sweet nature of Rocky’s existence, and how he really was a gentle soul who just happened to be a natural-born fighter. 

    Many years later in the sixth installment of the series in Rocky Balboa, she would make her long overdue return to the streets of Philly, but this time needing more than just a walk home. Having hit hard times, she and her son are desperate for some luck, and it comes in the form of getting jobs at Balboa’s restaurant and now having a strong male role model for her son. She and Rocky’s friendship blossoms quickly, as she begins to live the life he once wanted for her, a happy one that is unriddled by trouble. And it is great getting to see the comeback and return of her character, and seeing her son get Rocky’s guidance just like she did in the first film is a terrific full-circle moment for the franchise. 

    24 votes
  • Patrick Gates, played by Jon Voight, is the father of series lead Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage), and while he is in the first film of the National Treasure franchise, his screentime is limited and his role isn’t a key one. Sure, he gets used for leverage and his life is threatened by Ben’s enemies, and, yes, he does give a hint that helps his son and his team uncover a map’s hidden clues. But aside from this, he serves no real purpose in the film. The fact he has been estranged from his son for a long time and the effect that had on Ben is almost more important to the story than his character's actual presence is. This changes, however, in the next film of the series, National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

    While both are desperate to prove the innocence of their ancestors a few generations prior and show the world they didn’t have anything to do with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the father and son must band together in order to find the truth. In this sequel, Voight’s character functions more as one of the group instead of being an outsider, and his emotional relevancy is heightened as well when he is forced to visit his ex-wife. He has to summon the courage to see her and ask for her assistance in identifying some markings that could be a clue, and, boy, does he hate having to get her help. So while Patrick may have been in the first movie, the second is the first time you see his character as more than just Ben’s old, helpless dad.

    23 votes
  • 6
    23 VOTES

    Penny Benjamin In 'Top Gun: Maverick'

    This comeback to becoming a bigger character in a sequel is perhaps the biggest of them all, because Penny Benjamin is only ever spoken of in the original Top Gun, and is never physically seen. Mentioned a few times, the first time being when Maverick is getting reamed by one of his superiors and it is implied he had previously gotten into trouble with an Admiral's daughter, to which Goose whispers the name reminding Tom Cruise’s character Maverick of it, Penny Benjamin. Later, the name also comes up with Goose’s wife as she recites Maverick’s known promiscuous history with the ladies. Having her make a real appearance in the long-awaited sequel was a perfect opportunity for a face to be given to the legend, and there are few faces better to choose from than that of Jennifer Connelly. 

    While it isn’t too hard to have a more significant role in a film's sequel when you weren’t actually in the first one, it is even easier when you are the protagonist's love interest. Connelly’s character owns a bar near the flight school (of course she does), and she and Maverick flirt until they can't flirt anymore and finally go on a date. Pretty good ending for someone whose name Maverick couldn’t even remember the first time they get mentioned.

    23 votes