In case you’re not familiar at all with Popeye, he was a famous cartoon and comic strip sailor who ate spinach like Nutella. But the strip that spawned him actually had little to do with him at all. The strip that spawned Popeye was called Thimble Theater, and for a good portion of time he was never in it at all.
The characters in it were Olive Oyl, Castor Oyl, and Harold Hamgravy. After Thimble Theater had already been going for a decade, a strip ran where Harold and Castor decided to visit an island casino. They needed a boat and sailor, and in came Popeye. Popeye’s role was small.
All he did was get the pair to the casino and then get shot by gangsters. As fate would have it, Popeye was surprisingly well received by readers. With that in mind, Popeye was brought back and given a larger role, bringing Thimble Theater’s popularity much higher.
Popeye soon became so popular that Castor was removed and Olive’s role was diminished. Though he might not be as popular today as he was then, we can always look back on his comic strip and television run, as well as his unusual live action musical incarnation starring Robin Williams.