A Day in the Limelight

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You know, I've rather enjoyed having my own episode. It almost makes up for being thoroughly neglected for the past two and a half years.

A secondary or Ensembles character gets the primary focus for an episode in an atypical fashion. This can be used to either give various cast members a rest, both for the actor and for the audience or to allow different episodes to be shot simultaneously to save on time or costs. It can also be used to explore the possibility of an expanded role for a Recurrer or secondary character, or to set up a Spin-Off.

Sometimes the limelight is given to a guest character of note, often a character so outrageous that he/she upstages the regulars, or a nobody with a touching, moving story. This is occasionally done in comedies where the focus is less on the regular characters usual antics and hijinks and more on the guest character. In such cases, the regular characters may be temporarily demoted to Straight Man status (The Soup Nazi from Seinfeld for example). In some cases, the regular characters are just present either to provide moral support or to be the recipients of An Aesop. Such episodes may be of the Very Special Episode variety and may focus on a serious issue facing the guest character.

While often times this trope only applies to secondary or background characters, in an ensemble cast with fairly equitable time sharing, any episode that shines the spotlight on one particular character can be considered a Limelight Episode even if that character is top billed.

Fanfics frequently do this as well, exploring minor characters to flesh out their backstory and their contribution to the overall story.

Expect the rest of the regular cast to chip in a Mandatory Line at the very least, however. Often this might be a tradition for the series, highlighting a specific character Once a Season.

A Sub-Trope to Supporting Protagonist, a Super-Trope to The Greatest Story Never Told.

Hostile Show Takeover is the most extreme version.

If the character or characters getting the Day In The Limelight are very minor character, it's a Lower Deck Episode. If it's a villain, then it's a Villain Episode. For this happening within a rock band, see Step Up to the Microphone. If it's a minor mook getting a whole spinoff, it's Breakout Mook Character. Contrast with Day in the Life, A Death in the Limelight.

Examples of A Day in the Limelight include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Quite common in Anime, although some studios (notably Gainax) loath to do so. Often used as a form of Filler, especially in shows with a very large supporting cast.
  • The One Piece manga features "mini-arcs" on the title pages of issues. These detail the fates of villains and minor characters. Only two of them have been animated: Buggy's search for his crew and body and Coby's and Helmeppo's marine training.
  • Gundam is infamous for this, with a cruel twist: a day in the limelight usually ends in your death. When a minor character suddenly gets a episode focused on him and characterization, s/he usually will not be alive by the end of the episode.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has so many main characters, it tends to have A Day in the Limelight chapters/episodes for them between (or even within) major story arcs.
  • Three of the Slayers Special novels (the prequel stories set before the main series) feature stand-alone stories centering around Lina's bodyguard Gourry, the princess Amelia, and the chimera Zelgadiss.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba got an entire arc (half a season) in the limelight- the Virtual Nightmare Arc that explored his Backstory and featured a face-off with his step-father. Too bad it didn't happen in the manga.
    • Common in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: In Season 1, Manjyome got his own episode and an abridged Heroic Journey at the North School. Kaiser got his own episode (culminating in his Freak-Out) in Season 2, and Sho stepped into the spotlight once in Season 3.
  • Sometimes, Tokyo Mew Mew padded out its episode count by recycling scripts for different characters. For example, Minto and Zakuro both got Ten-Minute Retirement episodes. It also occasionally had episodes more or less focused on relatively minor characters—such as Keiichiro and Masha.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist spent one episode focusing on the travails of Roy Mustang and his five aides (and Black Hayate).
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex devoted an entire episode to one of the Tachikomas, its sentient robot tanks.
    • Other episodes (and in the subsequent series 2nd Gig) have spotlighted the members of the team who don't usually get it such as Saito and Pazu. Unfortunately, they never got around to fleshing out Borma.
  • The Idolm@ster - Each of the idols gets their own episode that focuses on them and their issues.
  • In the second season of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, this was generally the only way the Out of Focus characters got any attention.
  • Naruto's Shikamaru became the de facto main character of the series for most of the Immortal's arc.
    • Lampshaded in the anime Naruto Shippuden with an aftershow omake where Shikamaru jokes that the show will be renamed Shikamaru Shippuden.
      • Don't forget about Asuma Shippuden. He even made his own logo!
  • Urahara Kisuke from Bleach became the focus of a flashback arc set one hundred years prior to the series proper. Other characters prominently featured include: Yoruichi, Tessai, Aizen, Gin and The Vizards.
    • Also, in Bleach, around the time the vice captains were defending the towers, Ikkaku lampshades this. When a captain asks if he needs help, he says "No way! This is like the one time where the vice captains get the spotlight!"
    • In fact, Bleach the anime is very fond of this trope, having to produce so many fillers that do not hinder a wrong turn for a developing character's canon storyline. Ikkaku, Yumichika, Yachiru, Matsumoto, Don Kanoji, Kon, Ichigo's sisters, and Hitsuguya all have at least one episode dedicated to them in some way.
  • Suzumiya Haruhi's Yuki Nagato has her spotlight in The Movie (which is based on the fourth book, "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya"). In fact, it's more of a Hostile Show Takeover, even after that arc. Also, just as the fourth book could be considered Nagato's day in the limelight, the seventh book, "The Scheme of Haruhi Suzumiya", could be considered Mikuru's (as well as the earlier chapter "The Melancholy of Mikuru Asahina").
  • Matsuda and Mikami each get one of these in Death Note. Matsuda's chapter/episode is even named after him.
  • When Hayate the Combat Butler does these with recurring minor characters, the fact is usually stated enthusiastically by said characters. Sometimes with the main characters complaining that they've been pushed to the sidelines. Of course, this is a given since the series has No Fourth Wall.
  • The Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid OVA focuses on Tessa Testarossa, in a humorous Day in the Life story with no advancement of plot.
  • Gash Bell had these episodes from time to time, which usually began with Gash wondering what a particular demon was up to, and cut to said demon doing something interesting. Brago, Ted and Wonrei have had episodes centered around them in this fashion.
  • Very common in Shinkon Gattai Godannar. There are 4 teams of pilots belonging to bases in other countries that occasionally show up to help Goh, Anna, and company. Each of those teams get at least an episode centered mostly around them. Most semi-major characters around the main base get an episode or two dedicated to them as well.
  • Knuckles and Rouge receive their own episodes early on in Sonic X.
  • His and Her Circumstances has an episode near the end which focuses on Yukino's two little sisters, Tsukino and Kano, that takes a delightful turn away from the romantic melodrama toward a very light hearted comedy.
  • Pretty much the entire point of the Chronicles sideseries of the Pokémon anime.
    • Misty had a mini-series in the Limelight in the Tournament half of the Whirl Islands arc. Notable instances include Brock being a Moment Killer for Misty squeeing over a Corsola and Ash being designated as the "Minor Friendly Rival". A possible justification is that she would leave the show a little over a year later.
    • Prior to every Pokémon movie, a "Pikachu short" is shown, giving limelight to either Pikachu or the main cast's Pokémon as a whole. Episode 17 of the regular series did something similar.
    • Speaking of movies, Movie 6 Pokémon: Jirachi Wishmaker and 9 Pokémon Ranger and The Temple of The Sea focus on Max and May, respectively (all other movies tend to focus more on Ash).
  • About five episodes in Baccano! work as such (although, with three plots going on, nobody gets the episode entirely to themselves), usually indicated by the title with a general statement about the character in question. The most memorable of these episodes is probably "Ladd Russo likes talking a lot and killing a lot"
  • School Rumble does this a lot.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena had a season of this, where pretty much every minor character gets their own episode, has their backstory explored, and then has that backstory exploited by the villains in an attempt to destroy Utena.
  • The Cowboy Bebop episode "Mushroom Samba" was this for Ed (and Ein). "My Funny Valentine" is Faye's episode. "Hard Luck Woman" is basically a Day in the Limelight for both of them - Spike and Jet only show up to get angry when the girls leave, get beat up by Ed's dad, and hide their sadness when they realize both girls have left the crew.
  • Very common in Monster. Perhaps at its most extreme with volumes 10-11 of the manga, where Tenma all-but-disappears and Wolfgang Grimmer acts as the main protagonist.
  • Digimon Adventure and Adventure 02 do this quite a bit. Generally in episodes where one of the Digimon evolves the episode centers around them and their human partner or if said partner finds a crest/Egg which generally goes hand in hand with the evolving bit. There are a lot of main characters which is probably why. Villains tend to get one if they're about to do a Heel Face Turn ie Gatomon in Adventure and Ken in 02.
  • In the Ranma ½ anime, Nabiki and Kuno got A Day in the Limelight episode when a fortune teller persuaded Kuno that his true love was Nabiki. The usual cast only appeared in three scenes.
    • In the manga, Nabiki got her own story arc and wacky challenger in the Kinnosuke Kasaoh chapter where she was the one taking the lead against a very similar character. Ranma and Akane provided the Combat Commentator role that Nabiki usually filled.
    • The OAV An Akane to Remember is memorable for being set away from the usual Furinkan hijinks. Only Ranma and Akane appear in this story with Ryoga joining them later. The rest of the cast (Genma and the rest of the Tendos) appears only briefly in the beginning where most of them have no lines and the rest of the cast (Kuno et al) don't appear at all. This is a quieter story that focuses more on guests Shinosuke and his grandfather. Ranma and Akane's relationship is explored slightly but mostly in relation to Akane's past aquaintance with Shinosuke. There's no usual "Ranma Baka!" in this story and Ryoga is there mostly to lend moral support.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia gave the first episode of World Series over to Ensemble Darkhorse and Fountain of Memes Prussia, including him expressing a complaint that he hasn't had more screen time.
  • Episode 14 of Desert Punk with the titular character's right hand girl |(as well as apprentice and possible sex slave in his fantasy harem) Kosuna. It's a nice piece that shows her get somewhat closer to achieving her dream of becoming the Kanto Desert's "number one power babe."
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula does this with some of the characters (like Shinjyo, Randoll, Osamu and others) in both the TV series and OVAs. And SIN, the last OVA, focuses on Kaga and his rivalry with Hayato.
  • Inazuma Eleven did this with Megane in the match versus Shuuyou Meito (episode 9); up until then his main contributions to the team were naming techniques and holding the bench down so it doesn't fly up into the air. While he obviously doesn't get A Death in the Limelight at the end of the episode, he does injure himself in a Heroic Sacrifice where he bounces the ball off his face to redirect it into the goal and score the game-winning point, after which he returns to being a benchwarmer.
  • The Warrior Cats manga, which all are days in the limelight. So far, they have been given to Graystripe, Scourge, Sasha, Ravenpaw and soon SkyClan and Sol.
  • Mawaru Penguindrum gives episode 9 almost entirely to Himari.
  • Inukami! Some episodes have Youko hardly appear at all, like the one focusing on Tomohane searching for Keita.
  • Episodes 8 and 9 of Tenchi Muyo!! are special episodes to Washu and Sasami respectively: Episode 8 reveals a chunk of Washu's past and episode 9 reveals the connection between Sasami and Tsunami.
  • Persona 4: The Animation has episode 13, which focuses on his younger cousin Nanako. We get to see Yu's summer vacation through her eyes.
  • Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai:
    • Episode 3 focuses on Miyako's and Yuki's relationships with Yamato and their motives for wanting him.
    • Episode 5 focuses on Fushikawa, who gets her own route in the second Visual Novel.
  • The main characters of Popotan (Ai, Mai, Mii and Mea) each have two episodes that focus mostly on them.
  • Rail Wars!: Iida - who is (theoretically) the leader of the security team that are the stars of the show - gets A Day in the Limelight in the final episode of the series.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In Watchmen, each of the six main characters get an issue in the limelight, which illustrates their backstory and relations with other characters. The Comedian's is in Chapter 2, Dr. Manhattan's is in Chapter 4, Rorschach's is in Chapter 6, Nite Owl II's is in Chapter 7, Silk Spectre II's is in Chapter 9 and Ozymandias' is in Chapter 11. They vary from being an in-depth look at their origins, to showing various important events from their lives, to simply being a way of getting better to know a character. The reason for the inclusion of the issues was the fact that Alan Moore plotted the story for six issues, but was contracted for twelve. So he mixed in six character based issues.
  • Batman does this quite a bit:
    • An issue of Legends of the Dark Knight focused on virtually forgotten c-lister "the Spook" after his release from Blackgate penitentiary. He winds up being so paranoid that Batman is stalking him that he commits a crime just to go back to Blackgate where he has peace of mind.
    • "Mr Freeze": a retelling of his origin with narrated by Freeze himself. Written, of course, by Paul Dini, who created the modern Mr. Freeze.
    • "Scarface: A Psychodrama" focuses on the Ventriloquist as he attempts to go straight and also, creepily, on the puppet that still causes death and pain even without him.
  • Jim Crowe received one of these in The Invisibles which also doubled as his debut appearance.
  • Jubilee got more than a couple over the course of her original appearances in X-Men and Wolverine.
  • In Sonic X, most of the later issues star Dr. Eggman.
  • The "Lulu's War mini-arc of Nikolai Dante followed Lulu Romanov as she fought to protect Venice from an army of vampires allied to Tsar Vladimir. Dante himself only appeared in a few panels at the very beginning, talking to Lulu.
    • Similarly, "The Tsar's Daughter" concentrates on Jena Makarov.
  • War Machine, ally of Iron Man, tends to get these whenever the latter is seriously incapacitated. His series tend to be the DEFINITION of More Dakka and Stuff Blowing Up AND Ludicrous Gibs. Basically showcasing what Iron Man could do if HE ever cut loose from all restraint.
  • Different Spider-Man characters have gotten this treatment over the years. Whether ordinary supporting cast members, villains, and even second-tier heroes who made their debuts in the spider-comics have all been spotlighted in various one-shots and side stories.
    • The now-cancelled but very excellent "Spider-Man: Tangled Web" series was based on this premise. Only 2 stories actually starred Spider-Man rather than his rogues and supporting cast.
  • Bill Watterson occasionally did this with Calvin's parents in Calvin and Hobbes, showing everything from Calvin's Dad's ambivalence about American consumer culture to Calvin's Mom's frustrations with shitty customer service.
  • Every now and then, there's an issue of Fantastic Four that focuses on Franklin Richards.
  • The IDW version of Transformers Generation 1 had "spotlight" comics, sometimes focusing on secondary characters.
  • Brian K. Vaughan loves this. Both Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man frequently have backstory issues for any and every recurring cast member.
  • This is essentially the point of Sonic Universe. It shows what's happening with secondary characters while Sonic is out fighting Eggman in the regular comic.
    • They tend to play with it, though - the first story arc began with Sonic The Hedgehog, bounced over to the last issue of Sonic X, then picked up in the first issue of Universe. There's also one storyline where Sonic himself is the star (mostly because it was a continuation of a story going on in the main comic)
  • Done regularly in Kurt Busiek's works, especially Astro City.


Fan Fic[edit | hide]

  • In the French Alternate Universe Pokémon Fanfic Pokemon X Terra, pretty much every chapter does this for some character or another. At first, Lucas was the lead, but because there are so many other characters that all have relevance to the plot somehow, and the fact that they all do different things and go at different places from each other, each chapter is split into sub-chapters, focusing on one character/group of characters. And most of the time, one of them gives a chance to the focused character to show what he/she can really do if he/she hasn't been able to prove him/herself before. Somehow subverted with Palmer, whose running gag is that he always want to be useful, but when given the occasion, fails for reasons like showing up when the emergency is already over or simply because his opponent his too powerful for him, which is easy since he himself isn't really a good fighter.
  • The Harry Potter fandom is so large that for any significant character, there is a complete saturation of limelight fics. No one even thinks of, for example, a Ginny fic as shedding light on her character since she has already been so thoroughly explored in previous fics that every possible interpretation of her has already been used thousands of times (maybe literally thousands of times). In fact, by now the process is mainly viewed as simply choosing your favorite preexisting interpretation (slut!Ginny, innocent!Ginny, tomboy!Ginny, etc.) and running with it. Even when all that's known about the character is a name, a house and a plot point, expect several fics focusing on them and expanding on what little canon tells us.
    • Sometimes not even that. There's been fan fiction starring Caradoc Dearborn, a character who is mentioned once as an example of someone who died in the last war. That's it. Multi-chapter fiction.
      • Link please?
    • And sometimes not even that. There exist fics for characters who were never even named in story, but aren't OCs because their names can be spotted on the class list JK holds up in Harry Potter and Me. No house name, no plot point, no canon existence.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: R, Kensuke is the central character of an episode during the Prime sequence of events, in which he even gets shipped with a beautiful but blind Chinese girl. He also has the last scene at the end of the story all to himself and her.
  • Happens in various chapters to various characters of ToyHammer, especially with the omake chapters and chapter 12.
  • In the Mass Effect self-insert Mass Vexations, Author Avatar Art gets the entire story to himself... until chapter 17, which is told entirely from the point of view of Tali, who had just become his Secret Keeper at that point in the story.
  • There's a person somewhere that's made a detailed backstory for Pauline of all people. Family, profession and what else she does when she's not the Damsel in Distress...
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Koizumi gets a boost to his powers and gets to defeat a inter-dimensional robot by himself.
  • A Day and Night in Clock Town: Someone wrote a Majora's Mask fic that follows seven NPCs around for twenty-four hours, six months before Link shows up. The group includes Kafei, Anju, Cremia, and Grog; the other three don't have names in the game itself but are recognizable by their clothing, occupation, etc.
  • The Ollivander Children gives Mr. Ollivander, the mysterious and little-seen wandmaker, more screen time—although really most of the action is taken up by OC's.
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams takes an unusual twist with this trope in that the action has occasionally focused on Spider-Man rather than on Sleepwalker. The reason it's unusual is that subverting Popularity Power and C-List Fodder is one of the hallmarks of the series, giving second-stringers the spotlight and relegating A-listers to guest star appearances.
  • The Periphery Demographic of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic loves writing fanfic about side characters (like Princess Celestia or Applejack's brother Big Macintosh), one-shot characters (like Trixie from "Boast Busters", Photo Finish from "Green Isn't Your Color", or Prince Blueblood from "The Best Night Ever") or even background characters (like Ditzy Doo/Derpy Hooves or Doctor Whooves). A few wiseacres have even written fics about inanimate objects, like Bloomberg the tree from "Over a Barrel" and Tom the rock from "Return of Harmony, Part 2".
  • Happens in a Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series fanfiction, Decks Fall, Everyone Dies, where Tristan and a few other secondary characters get to be in the spotlight.
  • In Keepers of the Elements, the Old Keepers get two chapters exploring their past.
  • Pick just about any story by schillingklaus. This trope is about as frequent as Crack Pairings.
  • Script Fic Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has "Confessions of a Prank-Loving Tiger" for Socrates, as well as "Hypercube" and "An MTM Episode".
    • And "Insanity is In The Air" for Andy.
  • Larry Koopa stars in an episode called "The New Kid" in Calvin at Camp.
  • In The Tainted Grimoire, Clan Gully may be the main characters but they are not the only ones the story focuses on.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Railway Series every engine in the original ensemble had a volume to themselves. More than once in some cases, like Thomas.
  • Remnants #13, Survival. Kinda-sorta Recurrer Tate was friends with Jobs and Mo'Steel and had passages from her POV, but remained firmly in the background until the second-to-last book. She ends up saving the entire world, making the 're-greening' of Earth possible by going back in time and crashing Mother into the Earth, killing herself instantly. Jobs and Echo named their second daughter after her.
  • Story sections within the books of Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts often focus on one of the Ghosts, such as Larkin or Bragg.
  • Wedge Antilles is always a rather major character in the X Wing Series, both the books and the comics. But his role as The Captain and The Hero tends to give him less personal plotlines than his fellow main characters. Elscol feels out-of-place and is reckless. Gavin Darklighter worries about living up to his cousin Biggs' reputation and has to deal with being the kid. Corran Horn handles his attraction to The Mole and the daughter of the criminal whose father was his father's enemy, as well as learning that he's a Jedi's grandson. Tycho Celchu patiently bears up under suspicion and quietly mourns a lost homeworld. Asyr wrestles with allegiance issues. Then there's the Wraiths.
    • But most of Wedge's plotlines don't affect him very much personally. He gets determined and angry at various points, he works to improve morale, he leads and inspires them, he's unhappy when his friends die, but he's the Reasonable Authority Figure and his Character Development is assumed to have taken place beforehand. It's basically impersonal and he's kind of the generic Good Guy, with occasional flashes of his personality showing. Sometimes a few pages or even scenes are given over to personal things, but his days in the limelight are the comics arc "The Phantom Affair" and the novel "Starfighters of Adumar".
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles focuses more on Dr. Watson than on Sherlock Holmes. This is because Holmes is busily solving the case while in disguise.
  • The Night Huntress World books each dedicate one novel to a different supporting character from the main series.
  • In Twilight Dragon Princess Atoli, despite Kayari telling this story in first person, has an entire two chapters dedicated to her early on in the novel.
  • The Time Quartet series is primarily about Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, but the fourth book Many Waters gives a day in the limelight to Sandy and Dennys.
  • The Dresden Files short stories Backup, Aftermath, and Even Hand are told from the perspective of Thomas Raith, Karrin Murphy, and John Marcone respectively.
  • Each book in the Star Trek: Typhon Pact series focuses on one member state (sometimes two) of the titular Typhon Pact. Many of these nations were previously underexplored or left as minor players in the Star Trek Myth Arc.
  • There are two significant ones in Warrior Cats. The first is Moonlight, which gives spotlight to Stormfur as he journeys through the mountains. The second is Night Whispers, which is about Flametail struggling to figure out the secrets of a mysterious omen from StarClan, which fortells his death.
  • Guards Guards was planned as one of these (not to a particular series, but to any one that plays city/palace guards as Mooks), but as Mr. Pratchett himself said

"I wanted to give them a spot to shine in the sun, but it turned out to be a full blown tropical vacation."


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip episode "The Disaster Show", Matt and Danny don't feature at all. Instead it was A Day in the Limelight for Cal, the director.
  • While the CSI episode "Lab Rats" brings background lab techs Archie Johnson, Mandy Webster, Henry Andrews, and Wendy Simms to the fore and gives them each some time in the spotlight, the episode is actually A Day in the Limelight for Trace Evidence expert David Hodges. It was, after all, his lucky day.
    • And was later done again with the Lab Rats in the episode "You Kill Me". Fitting one reason for doing such an episode the actor playing Hodges is now a main character with title credit.
  • "Harm's Way" from Angel season five, focusing on Harmony.
  • "The Zeppo" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season three, where Xander gets the limelight. He also gets it earlier in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", and later in "The Replacement", where he's both protagonist and antagonist.
    • The seventh season had racked up such a huge supporting cast that there was a day-in-the-limelight every other episode, it seemed: "Same Time, Same Place" for Willow, "Selfless" for Anya, "Potential" for Dawn, "Lies My Parents Told Me" for Spike, "Storyteller" for Andrew"...
    • And "Superstar" in season four, which is so Jonathan-centric it even features a new Title Sequence.
    • Don't forget "Doppelgangland" in series three for Willow, and Giles' 'A New Man' in season four.
    • The Dream Episode "Restless" gave each of the four main characters a ten-minute dream which focused solely on their characters.
    • Dawn gets two; "Real Me" in season 5, and "Potential" in season 7.
    • And "Family", which establishes Tara's backstory and fleshes out her relationship with the rest of the cast.
  • The X-Files did a number of A Day in the Limelight episodes later in its run, including "Zero Sum" (focused on Assistant Director Skinner, Mulder and Scully's FBI superior), "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" (the recurring villain and agent of The Conspiracy dubbed "Cancer Man" or "the Cigarette-Smoking Man"), "Unusual Suspects", "Three of a Kind" and "Jump the Shark" (the Lone Gunmen, conspiracy theorist Comic Trio and cohorts of Mulder).
  • Scrubs has done this on multiple occasions, in the episodes "His Story" (I-IV), "Her Story, (I-II) and "Their Story" (I-II). These episodes feature the inner monologues of characters other than JD, often alluded to in-character with phrases like "Now that I have this tape recorder, I won't need to be in my head as much". They also include a whooshing sound as JD makes physical contact with the focus character right before the voice over switches, as though the ability to narrate is the result of some sort of communicable disease.
    • This also works backwards near the end of the episode, often including similar phrases.
  • House had an episode called "Wilson," which revolved around House's beleaguered best friend Wilson, while House and his team's antics gets pushed to the sidelines, with only occasional glimpses at their wacky adventures. "5 to 9" did the same with Cuddy and "Last Temptation", did it for Masters.
  • Degrassi, "Don't Believe the Hype." This episode took Hazel, who was previously just a flunky for the Alpha Bitch, and revealed her secret: she's a Somali Muslim immigrant who was bullied at her previous school for being a "terrorist." She's been pulling an elaborate Masquerade so the popular girls will accept her. While The Reveal was well-done, it never answered the question of how she got into the in-crowd when she could never let them visit her house. And none of this came up in any other episode, ever again, aside from an offhand comment by Paige in "Holiday". There's rarely a time when one character is focused on in two consecutive episodes outside two parters.
  • Happens at least once a season on Law and Order Special Victims Unit, when Stabler and Benson, the lead detectives, step aside and allow the secondary team of Munch and Fin to be the primary focus of the episode, or the time when Fin got an entire episode to himself.
    • Sometimes the episode starts fairly near to the end of the "Law" section, and the majority of the episode is the "Order", as the ADAs run around Manhattan trying to scare up witnesses. This is far less common than it was on The Mother Ship.
    • Melinda Warner has a minor day in the limelight in "Blast".
  • My So-Called Life had one: "Life of Brian".
  • The TV show JAG was known for giving each of the supporting characters an episode of their own once a season.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks" where one guest character, who'd appeared in a single episode in an earlier season, was the focus of the show. It seemed to be setting her up as a recurring character, right up to the point where she dies at the end.
    • It was originally planned that the character would return on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but the writers decided that would "diminish" the ending of "Lower Decks".
  • The modern Star Trek series all have had limelight episodes for various characters, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the clear champion in this category thanks to its large cast of secondary, minor, and recurring characters. By the end of the series the recurring villains were getting as much screen time and focus on their problems and schemes as the heroes were.
  • Star Trek: Voyager took this to an extreme with an entire episode devoted to Lt. Barclay, who was not even on the Voyager and inhabited a different sector of space. The episode revolves around Barclay attempting to make contact with the distant Voyager, and the main cast doesn't even appear until the last act of the episode.
  • Lost, despite having a huge main cast, has (almost) every episode focus on one character. Some notable episodes that focus on recurring characters who don't usually get their own episodes include:
    • "S.O.S", which focused on Rose & Bernard.
    • "Live Together, Die Alone", which focused on Desmond, who was made a main character next season.
    • "Exposé", which focused on Nikki and Paulo, who were meant to be major in the series' arc and were billed as main characters, but instead ended up being universally despised and only appeared in about five episodes each before dying in this episode.
    • "The Incident", though containing flashbacks from almost every living character, focused on Jacob and also featured a Ilana flashback (both characters were also the focus of one of the episode's two plotlines).
    • "Ab Aeterno", considered by most to be one of the series' greatest episodes, is the long-awaited flashback episode of Richard. About 85% of the episode takes place in the past, specifically 1867.
    • "Across the Sea" is focused on Jacob and the Man in Black, two important guest stars, and features no regular cast members outside of stock footage.
  • Once Upon a Time follows the same format as Lost (obviously due to being created by the same producers) and has every episode focus on one character, some on minor and one episode characters, which include:
    • "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" focusing on Sidney Glass (The Magic Mirror)
    • "Dreamy" which focuses on Leroy (Grumpy)
    • "Red-Handed", a notable example which focuses on Ruby (Red Riding Hood) where it was revealed that she is a werewolf
  • Supernatural had Ghostfacers, which featured two characters from a first season episode and their friends. Fans either loved it or loathed it.
    • "The Rapture", told the Backstory of Castiel's vessel.
    • The Impala gets flashbacks and a backstory in "Swan Song".
    • In Season 6, Bobby Singer gets one of these, aptly titled, "Weekend at Bobby's" (also a Shout-Out, as the episode titles often are). It focuses on what Bobby does when he's not helping Sam and Dean, and how that actually interferes with his life. The episode also wraps up the minor Story Arc about selling his soul to Crowley to help save the world.
      • "Death's Door" is also Bobby-centric.
    • "The Man Who Would Be King" is about Castiel, and narrated from his point of view.
  • Babylon 5 with "A View From The Gallery" , which centers upon repairmen Mack and Bo and how they interact with all the main characters over the course of a usual Babylon 5 day of disaster. Mack and Bo were played by guest actors who were not in any other episodes, showing that even the unknown extras have tales to tell.
    • Usually the lesser recurring characters got B-plots rather than episodes of their own, but Vir got "Sic Transit Vir".
  • Torchwood had perhaps several of these - "Cyberwoman" for Ianto, "Greeks Bearing Gifts" for Tosh, and in season two, "A Day in the Death" for Owen. Of course, this was after he died. But it was also before he stopped moving.
  • Season 19 of Doctor Who was written with the idea of giving each companion a story where they could do more than ask the Doctor questions and get captured. As it turned out Nyssa got to play an Identical Stranger, Tegan got to taste Demonic Possession and Adric got to... die.
    • The new series gives us the Donna-centric episode "Turn Left". The Doctor only appears very briefly in the beginning and the end, except for the bit in the middle where he appears as a sheet-covered corpse.
  • In a show that wavers between Two Lines, No Waiting and Four Lines, All Waiting, the episode "Company Man" in Heroes Volume 1 almost completely focused around HRG (aka Mr. Bennet) and his very messed-up relationship with his job and family. Up to this point, he was just an Overprotective Dad In Black, but this greatly expanded backstory and explanation of his motives permanently cemented his Ensemble Darkhorse status.
    • HRG gets another one in "Cold Wars" while both Tracey and Sylar are going to be getting a few in Volume 4. And "The Year of Our Lord" focused more or less entirely on Peter/Future Peter. ("Five Years Gone" did the same for Hiro/Future Hiro.)
  • The M*A*S*H episode "Hey, Look Me Over" centers on Nurse Kellye, who's usually strictly a background character.
    • That's actually a rather nice story...actress Kellye Nakahara's "Nurse Kellye" had more appearances and lines over the years than any of the other nurse characters (strictly bit parts, though), and she was well-liked by the cast. Alan Alda felt she deserved an episode where she could really shine, and surprised her with the script for "Hey, Look Me Over."
    • "Dear Sigmund", which is told from the point of view of psychiatrist Sidney Freedman, a recurring guest character.
    • There's also the other "Dear" episodes, when not told by Hawkeye, technically.
    • Depending on whether you consider Hawkeye to be the show's lead character or just one part of the ensemble, than any number of episodes centering on the other regulars - Margaret, Radar, Father Mulcahy, etc. - could be regarded as this.
      • Hawkeye himself gets one in the season 4 episode "Hawkeye", where he's the only one of the main characters to appear in the entire episode.
  • Starbuck tends to have this for the majority of the episodes in the old Battlestar Galactica.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica has done this a few times, especially in its third season:
    • 3.10 "The Passage" is about Kat's past.
    • In 3.14 "The Woman King", Helo investigates a potential murder among civilian refugees.
    • In 3.16 "Dirty Hands", Chief Tyrol becomes the focus of a labour dispute.
  • Power Rangers RPM features 5 episodes named after the title characters ("Ranger [color]"), as well as their mentor, Dr. K. Each elucidates a character's backstory. Dillon, Ranger Black, does not have his own episode, attributable to Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Though Dillon's character episodes are more or less the two first, where he's made to choose between becoming a ranger, or jail. And a bunch of episodes trying to solve his amnesia.
      • The original season finale would have been called Ranger Black and featured the truth about his past. However due to a change in staff this never came to pass.
  • Each episode of Skins focuses on a particular member of the cast, with each cast member getting an episode (or sometimes two) to themselves each season.
  • Band of Brothers. Each of the 10 episodes focuses on a specific character to some degree. The lead is Lt/Capt/Maj Winters who is in the limelight for episodes 2, 5, and 10. The other episodes focus on (1) Capt. Sobel, (3) Pvt. Blithe (a case of A Death in the Limelight), (4) Sgt. Bull Randleman, (6) "Doc" Roe, (7) Sgt. Lipton, (8) Pvt. Webster, and (9) Capt. Nixon. If the episode has narration, it's by the character in the limelight from their Point of View.
  • Blake's 7 gives Vila a chance to shine in "City at the Edge of the World".
  • In the Remember WENN episode "The Ghost of WENN," it is revealed that the ghost is actually CJ, who's miffed at being ignored by the main cast.
  • During the 70s, there were two versions of the TV game show Pyramid: The daytime network version (First, The $10,000 Pyramid; later, The $20,000 Pyramid), and a nighttime syndicated version (The $25,000 Pyramid), with two different hosts—Dick Clark and Bill Cullen, respectively—who would often appear as a celebrity guest on the other's version to help the contestants win money.
  • Firefly has a few such episodes: "Jaynestown," where the plot centers on Jayne, "War Stories" explores the dynamics of Wash and Zoe's marriage, and "Objects in Space," which lets the viewer inside River's head.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "The Other Guys" focuses on the scientists who usually are just background characters.
  • Stargate Atlantis had "Sunday", the episode was unusual in that this troper didn't guess who the story was about until the end when Carson Beckett Died
  • In The West Wing, C.J. Cregg has a few episodes devoted to her, such as season 4's "The Long Goodbye" and season 5's "Access."
  • In the episode of Cake Boss where Buddy is making a full scale NASCAR car cake away from the bakery. While Buddy obviously has the bigger and cooler job, Mauro, Buddy's assistant, is in charge of the bakery and get to be the star of his half of the hour long episode (it was split between Buddy and Mauro more or less evenly, with Buddy getting a tiny bit more time). This in effect give Mauro his own episode in Buddy's role, leading the cake team make a cake for a client he met with and narrating the segment.
    • One episode gave the spotlight to Cousin Anthony for his 21st birthday, and another one to head baker Joey on whether he'd leave the bakery or not. Not as much as the first example, but a change from the usual.
  • This has happened several times on Wheel of Fortune:
    • Co-host Vanna White played one round for charity at the end of a 1989 episode, with host Pat Sajak turning the letters.
    • During a week of episodes in November 1996, Pat had laryngitis for the entire taping session. His condition was so bad that come Thursday's Bonus Round, he turned the letters and Vanna "hosted" for him.
    • A year later, Pat and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek traded places and hosted each other's shows on April Fools' Day. Pat and Vanna also played that day's Wheel (with Pat's wife, Lesly, turning the letters) and won over $50,000, which they split between two charities.
    • And in early 2011, the show held a contest which allowed one home viewer to take Vanna's place for two rounds. The winner appeared on the March 24 episode.
  • The Frasier episode "Head Game", which focuses on Niles. In fact, the title character only appears in the first three minutes!
    • Also, season 7's "Dark Side of the Moon", which focuses on Daphne, season 8's "The Return of Martin Crane", which focuses on Martin, and season 5's "The Kid", which focuses on Roz.
  • Sitcom Greek's Beaver is one of the most prominent secondary characters, yet nothing was known about him except that he got his nickname for biting a chair while drunk, that's until the final season where he gets an episode titled "all about beave" where his motivations, his background, his day-to-day living and even his real name are revealed.
  • The Ultraman episode Human Specimen 5.6 was centered largely around Captain Muramatsu's efforts to combat and escape aliens who had infiltrated a scientific facility. Sort of ruined by the requisite Ultraman/Monster of the Episode fight.
  • On Hogan's Heroes, Kinch was often involved in plots requiring technical/radio work, but since the color of his skin would be a bit noticeable trying to impersonate a WW 2 German official, he didn't get as many "dress up" plots as the rest of the cast. One exception involved him capturing and impersonating an African royal trying to ally himself with the Axis forces, complete with a Girl of the Week.
  • The White Collar episode "As You Were" focuses on Jones, who's normally the junior FBI agent who sits in the surveillance van.
  • One episode of Doctors was all about Julia alone in her house dealing with her mental degeneration; all the other characters only appeared in her hallucinations.
  • Breaking Bad episode "Hermanos" (Season 4, Episode 8) focuses on Gus, which fleshes out his character as well as giving a backstory to his relations with the Cartel, especially Hector / Tio.
  • The Legend of Dick and Dom is an Ensemble Cast show, but the emphasis is usually on Prince Dick and Prince Dom; they get Taken for Granite in "Rock Hard", so their servants Lutin and Mannitol get A Day in the Limelight, trying both to cure them and get that week's MacGuffin. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Highlander, Duncan MacLeod had a greatly reduced presence in the final season. Most of these were Poorly Disguised Pilots for new Immortals, but the penultimate episode, "Indiscretions," gave Methos and Joe Dawson their own story.
  • The season 7 How I Met Your Mother episode "Symphony Of Illumination" seemed to be this, similar to the Scrubs examples above: unlike every single previous episode, it begins with Future!Robin narrating the episode to her future kids, rather than Future!Ted narrating it to his own. However tragically subverted in the end, with the revelation that Robin's narration, (but not the events of the episode) was actually just a fantasy in her head taking place during one scene near the end of the episode, where she was sitting in the snow trying to convince herself that she was glad about learning that she was infertile, and glad that those kids of hers she's imagining aren't real. At the very end of the episode the narration switches back to Future!Ted talking to his kids and telling them that their Aunt Robin never became a mother, so Robin's narration was just one more incident that Future!Ted wasn't around to see and only learned about later, which isn't that much of A Day in the Limelight, because many, many episodes of the show revolve around a character other than Ted.
  • As Zachary Levi was busy preparing "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", most of "Chuck Versus Phase Three" focused on Sarah.
  • While Auggie's role is probably Covert Affairs' second largest, the action always directly follows Annie, with Auggie acting as her Mission Control. Except in the season 2 episode "Half a World Away", which basically switches those roles.
  • An episode in the waning season of Moonlighting gave Agnes and Herbert an episode to themselves and a case to solve, playing out approximately like a first-season episode as a welcome respite from watching David and Maddie hash out their relationship problems.
  • There are a couple episodes of Starsky and Hutch that center on Huggy Bear.

Music[edit | hide]

  • "In The Cold, Cold Night" by The White Stripes is sung by Meg instead of Jack.
  • Hello! Project members sometimes only get to lead a single once. An example is Morning Musume`s Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago, but there are plenty more.
  • "I Drive Myself Crazy" is one of the few ((NSYNC)) songs where someone other than Justin or JC sings the lead-in (in this case, it's Chris.)
  • Most early Queen albums had two or three songs sung by Roger Taylor or Brian May instead of Freddie Mercury. Taylor's "I'm In Love With My Car", the B-side of "Bohemian Rhapsody", is probably the most famous of the bunch. That or Brian May's "39" from the same album.
  • Rammstein's cover of The Ramones' song "Pet Sematary" was sung by keyboardist Flake Lorenz instead of singer Till Lindemann.
  • "Such a Shame" from The Bee Gees' 1968 album Idea, written and sung by Vince Melouney, is the only song on a Bee Gees album not written or sung by a Gibb.
  • Almost all of The Beatles albums had one or two songs composed and sung by George Harrison, as well as at least one song sung by Ringo Starr.
  • The Wings songs by people other than Paul McCartney. Denny Laine had a small handful of songs, Jimmy McCulloch had two ("Medicine Jar" and "Wino Junko"), and Joe English had one ("Must Do Something About It").
  • Marigold by Nirvana has Dave Grohl (before he became a well known frontman with Foo Fighters) sing lead while Kurt Cobain played the drums.
    • And, in turn, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins sings "Cold Day in the Sun" instead of Dave Grohl.
  • The Beach Boys' God Only Knows was originally A Day in the Limelight for Carl Wilson on lead vocals. Carl eventually became a much more frequent lead singer from this moment on.
  • The Basics are all singers, mostly with Kris and Wally taking lead, but on their second album Stand Out/Fit In they specifically put in their cover of "Have Love Will Travel" which has Tim take lead
  • The Edge has sings lead vocals on three U2 songs: "Seconds," "Van Diemen's Land," and "Numb." Bassist Adam Clayton makes a vocal appearance on b-side "Endless Deep."
  • Gene and Paul sing almost all of Kiss' songs. However, one of the few songs Peter Criss sang was one of their biggest hits, "Beth".
    • He also sings such favorites as "Hard Luck Woman" and "Black Diamond"
  • Tom Petty, on some tours, would let one of the other Heartbreakers sing. You can see this on the 1992 VHS "Take the Highway."
  • "Rock Me" and "Does Your Mother Know" are among the few songs from ABBA where one of the male members, in this case Bjorn, is the one who sings lead.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Indie RPG "Primetime Adventures" (where you play as the protagonist of a TV series) plays this trope straight, even inserting it in the rules: each "Protagonist" has a "Spotlight Episode" in which he's more likely to overcome obstacles and the plot is centered on him/her.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
    • Debatable, since the whole point of the play is to show what's going on in the wings; in other words; R&G aren't in the limelight, but the audience isn't looking at what's in the limelight (that being Hamlet) either.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In General: Gaiden Games tend to take this idea and run with it, for obvious continuity reasons.
  • Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen has 5 chapters—4 of which are Days In the Limelight for the various henchmen and side-characters that join you in chapter 5.
  • Super Mario Bros. usually has Luigi as Player Two or absent completely, until Luigis Mansion gave him a starring role.
    • Luigi's Mansion was Luigi's second day in the limelight. His first was 8 years earlier in the educational game Mario Is Missing! Then again, that one might be closer to a blacklight.
      • On the subject of Luigi, all three of the Super Mario Bros. cartoons had an episode starring him. One of them ("Life's Ruff") didn't even have Mario or any other main characters besides Hip and Hop Koopa appear.
      • The Nintendo Adventure Book Koopa Capers also had Luigi on a solo adventure.
    • Peach gets one in Super Princess Peach.
    • Yoshi and Wario Land have their own series. Wario has even branched out into the minigames business.
    • Even Bowser gets in on the action. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has Bowser as the main protagonist. He's forced to take back the Mushroom Kingdom from Fawful (with aid from the Mario Brothers, who spend most of the game inside his body futzing around with his internal systems to occasionally power up the big lug) and takes a massive Level In Badass as he reluctantly becomes the hero.
    • Toad had Wario's Woods.
    • Waluigi, while not having any game to his name, only appearing in spinoffs, had a couple of great moments and stages to himself. In the Mario Tennis series and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, he and Wario are featured the most in the games intro scenes, and he appeared without Wario in the GBA game (considering that both Mario Golf and the Mario Tennis series are developed by Camelot, this makes sense). In Mario Party 3, he is a Climax Boss of sorts, hijacking the villain spot from Bowser and being battled on his own board, and had some great themes in addition. In Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, while only serving as the first boss, he had one of the best musics to dance to, and in Mario Kart DS, he had Waluigi Pinball the whole thing and it's theme being considered some of the best things ever to graze a Mario game. In Mario Sports Mix, he again has a pinball stage, which also had a really good theme to it's name.
  • Final Fantasy series.
    • Final Fantasy VI has this in the World of Ruin - Relm's painting, Gau's father, Strago and Hidon, Cyan's Dream, Locke and Celes in the Phoenix Cave...pretty much every main character in the game gets a subquest which explores their backstory and wraps it up.
    • Choboco Racing games were eventually made.
  • Knuckles from the Sonic the Hedgehog games got his own game called Knuckles Chaotix, which was also a day in the limelight for the eponymous Chaotix group. Interestingly, despite Metal Sonic's presence in the game, Sonic does not appear until the very end. Tails has also gotten two games of his own, Tails Adventure and Tails Sky Patrol, but the second was a very obscure Game Gear game only released in Japan. Dr. Robotnik's game was actually a cleverly-hidden clone of the Japanese-only Puyo Puyo (likewise, Kirby's Avalanche is just a Kirby-fied version of Puyo Puyo). Shadow also got his own game, which went in a different direction by being primarily a Third-Person Shooter with only some of the more familiar Sonic elements mixed in.
    • In Sonic Heroes, each of the four teams gets an arc, so many of the characters (notably all of Team Chaotix, who hadn't been seen since Chaotix, mentioned above) get far more focus than in their other appearances.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has a DLC where the story focuses on 6 of the minor characters in the game. Of course it focuses primarily on Edy, a very popular character in Japan.
  • Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier gave Keira a significantly bigger role.
    • There's also Daxter, which focused on Daxter rescuing Jak from his two-year imprisonment and him defeating Kor's Dragon.
  • Secret Agent Clank let's you play the sidekick from the Ratchet and Clank series of games.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has the DLC "Leliana's Song, which focuses on party member Leliana during her days as an Orlesian spy.
  • Mass Effect 2 features a level late in the game where you control Joker.
  • In general, certain Nippon Ichi Software titles have these somewhere.
    • The third Marl Kingdom title (never released in the U.S., due to the low sales of Rhapsody) was essentially a collection of different characters getting time in the limelight. One event in particular sets up one of the characters from La Pucelle Tactics.
    • Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness had "Etna Mode", where she accidentally kills Laharl and tries to cover it up.
    • Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days had Axel Mode, where he desperately tries to reclaim his stardom and get work to support his family.
    • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice had the downloadable Raspberyl Mode, where she makes an attempt to become a teacher at Evil Academy.
    • A borderline case being the Asagi Wars mode of Prinny 2, as well as Asagi Mode in the original. While Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is, in itself, a day in the limelight for the titular ensemble darkhorses, each of those alternate modes focus on Asagi (with Asagi Wars actually finally having her in the role of main protagonist).
  • Touhou Hisoutensoku has three main characters, each with individual stories. Sanae had previously been both a major character and a playable character, but until then Cirno and Hong Meiling were insignificant minor characters, surprising everyone with their presence. And then with Great Fairy Wars Cirno got her own game!
  • Randar/Lander who has made cameo appearances in several Compile games before, eventually got his own game.
  • Putt-Putt and Pep's Dog on a Stick had you controlling Putt-Putt's dog Pep instead of the titular character.
  • Freddi Fish and Luther's Water Worries has Freddi's sidekick Luther as the main playable character. The only way to play as Freddi is in two-player mode.
  • Portal 2 has a new DLC level editor that comes with a mini-storyline involving Cave Johnson sending you through multiple dimensions to build and test new test chambers. Cave discovers a multiverse of alternate Caves, and squares off with his Evil Twin, Dark Cave, before sending you to find a dimension of pure money.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, there were stories that focused on the support staff of this or that hero team, on bystanders to superheroic battles, on journalists reporting on super-battles, and so on.
    • Most memorably, in the Hyperion Academy campaign, there were six player characters, but over twenty non-player character students at the school. Every one of the non-player students was featured in a story.
  • The King of Town's Very Own Quite Popular Cartoon Show in Homestar Runner. Initially subverted in that when it was originally released, it was just a well-disguised Strong Bad Email, but they actually released one a year later. There's also No Hands on Deck, which is fanservice to those who think Strong Bad is hogging Homestar's spotlight (not only does neglected Pom Pom appear, but Strong Bad doesn't appear at all).
    • Also noteworthy is A Folky Tale, the only story centered around Strong Sad and Coach Z (who rarely have anything to do with each other). It's one of the very few toons on the site where neither Homestar Runner nor Strong Bad shows up anywhere.
  • Red Panda Adventures introduced Harry Kelly in "When Darkness Falls" in this manner.
  • Ferr of the Freelance Astronauts recently got to do a live webcast all by himself on the day of his birthday, choosing to deliver a very surreal LP of Civilization IV, in a narration style bordering on that of Bob Ross. Quite funny
  • In the Whateley Universe, there are over a dozen canon authors, so this is becoming typical. There has been an entire story on the side character The Grunts (the superpowered kids who are in a version of JROTC and plan to go into military service); one with them, plus Folder, plus one of the school sociopaths; a Combat Final featuring a student who's the daughter of a notorious supervillain, ...
    • Aquerna. Her combat final turns out to be a Crowning Moment of Awesome and also a Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • All the special combat finals vignettes that aren't part of the main character stories. Except Aquerna's, because her story was so popular she now has an ongoing novel and she has probably graduated to 'protagonist'.
  • In Arenas, some episodes are centered on characters which aren't called Doom.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Simpsons epsiode "22 Short Films About Springfield" gave a ton of minor characters vignettes of their own. Professor Frink is late, and can only manage to belt out his planned theme song ("Professor Frink, Professor Frink, he makes you laugh, he makes you think...")
    • Most of the Loads and Loads of Characters in The Simpsons have had their day in the limelight, most times more than once. Usually these take the form of "Minor Character has some kind of problem and needs to stay with the Simpsons temporarily." Noteworthy examples include Grounds-keeper Willie, Gil, and Otto the Bus Driver. Even the Crazy Cat Lady got a B-plot of her own. We are still waiting for episodes centric on Disco Stu, Sea Captain, the Bumblebee Man, Moleman, and many many others though.
      • Moe is a particularly strong example of this.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender with "Zuko Alone", "Appa's Lost Days" and "Sokka's Master". The first showed what the main antagonist (well, by that point, he wasn't quite that anymore) did and thought about when he wasn't, well, antagonizing; the second told a story that explained where the main character's pet had been and who he met along the way since his four-week disappearance following his kidnapping; and the third depicted Plucky Comic Relief character Sokka taking a level in badass through sword training.
    • There was also "The Beach" for the Zuko, Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, which served as a means of exploring the dynamics between the four and what makes them tick cleverly disguised as a Beach Episode.
    • Also, "The Boiling Rock," a two-parter that sets up the friendship of Sokka and Zuko and has them breaking in and out of the Fire Nation's most secure prison. It's all kinds of badass.
      • The third quarter of season three was basically one episode for each character sharing this trope with Zuko. Toph even lampshades this in the finale, noting that she hasn't had her own "life-changing field trip" with him.
    • Last but not least, there's "The Tales of Ba Sing Se", with six short tales focusing on one character (or two in one tale) each, including the tales of Toph and Katara, Iroh and even of Momo.
  • Hey Arnold! deserves props for having several stories where a secondary character is spotlighted ("Timberly Loves Arnold" with Gerald's younger sister and "Career Day" with the neighborhood ice cream man, for example).
  • Codename: Kids Next Door also did this with "Op TRAINING", focusing on Numbuh 2's younger brother, Tommy, going through training at the KND Arctic base, without the regulars appearing at all. In fact, the only other character who had appeared in a previous episode was the villain, Father.
  • 80's cartoons that had heavy merchandise and toy lines behind them (G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., The Transformers) did this all the time, devoting episodes here and there to otherwise minor or gimmicky characters. Obviously, kids won't buy an action figure for a character who never does anything on the show except stand in the background.
    • The G.I. Joe example is marvellously parodied in a Robot Chicken episode - angry that he's left out of all of the missions because his white costume is too noticeable in a jungle environment, Snowjob is called up by the "President of Switzerland" to help flush out some yeti in the Swiss Alps. After a transport montage include ski-sleds, dog sleds, and tobogganing, it turns out the yeti claim was a hoax for the normal G.I. Joes to throw snowballs at and mock Snowjob (they apologise to him and give him a job clearing snow from around the base afterwards).
  • Several Justice League Unlimited episodes, most notably Booster Gold's "The Greatest Story Never Told".
  • What Its Like Being Alone often got up to this sort of thing over its mercifully short run, and, if "Sammy's Episode" was anything to go by, was well aware of it.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003: The 2003 series had an episode entitled "Hun on the Run", centering around Shredder's minion Hun. Although the Turtles also appear, Hun is the main focus of the episode, giving hints as to his background.
  • Danny Phantom had the episode "Girls' Night Out" which focused heavily on the major female cast while main character Danny is out fishing, though not without his problem.
  • The Pucca television series has several of these. The one for Santa Claus is probably the most notable, solely for establishing the... unique character history that he was a former ninja thief that, after realizing it was wrong to steal things out of people's houses, decided to use his skill in stealth and infiltration for bringing presents into people's houses instead.
  • South Park has had a few, such as "Pip" (which was about Pip) and "Butters' Very Own Episode" (which is Butters' very own episode). Other examples include "Erection Day" and "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset", which focused on Jimmy and Wendy, respectively.
  • While Kim Possible is the main character of the series, the sidekick Ron Stoppable gets many episodes focusing on him while leaving Kim as a background character. One of the worst examples of this is the episode where Ron goes to a Japanese Ninjutsu school where he meets this really cute girl, learns Kung Fu, learns Mystical Monkey Kung Fu, battles with the villain of the episode, being all heroic and stuff. Kim on the other hand spends the entire episode at home doing nothing more than crushing on some random Japanese Purity Sue. Doy...
    • Ron might be the "sidekick" but he's clearly equal in status in the actual show, especially in Season 3 and 4. Better examples of this trope would be the episode where Ms Dr Possible joins Kim on a mission against Drakken and Shego, the one where the Tweebs save the day after Kim gets mind controlled, and an episode involving Ron's father. Wade comes out of Mission Control a few times as well.
      • The villains often get a few episodes to shine in as well. in fact Drakken and Shego, the two most well known villains on the show arguably end up the real heroes of the series finale as they're the ones who supply the means to thwart the alien invasion.
    • Besides the one mostly featuring Rufus with Camille Leon's dog, "Mother's Day" is closest to this trope, as Ron stays at home while Kim's mother goes on a mission with her.
  • Most American Dad episodes either focus on Stan or at the very least feature him prominently. Two major exceptions are "The One That Got Away", whose plot focuses exclusively on Roger, with the rest of the family getting only a token B story. They don't even get that in "Escape from Pearl Bailey"; the plot is driven entirely by Steve, while the rest of the family has a grand total of two lines in the entire episode.
  • The Fairly OddParents had a couple of these. "The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker" focused heavily on Timmy's fairy-obsessed teacher and explains how he became the way he is, and shortly afterwards, "The Big Scoop!" revisited first-season episode "A Wish Too Far!", but from Chester and AJ's perspective.
  • Phineas and Ferb had an episode, "Isabella and the Temple of Sap", devoted to Isabella and the Fireside Girls obtaining an ingredient for the title character's Project of the Day (as seen in the episode "Bubble Boys").
    • "Vanessassary Roughness" focuses on Doofenshmirtz's daughter Vanessa trying to obtain a rare chemical to impress him. Said episode could also count as one for Ferb, who, despite being a main character, is usually overshadowed by his brother for some reason. Phineas basically just lays in a vibrating chair for this episode while Ferb runs around helping Vanessa.
    • "Nerdy Dancing" is centered around Jeremy trying to impress Candace, in a reversal to many other episodes.
    • "Not Phineas and Ferb" focuses on Irving, Buford and Baljeet. Phineas and Ferb is apparently fond of this trope.
    • "Ferb TV" is this is for pretty much every supporting character. Phineas and ferb only appear at the very start and very end.
  • The Teen Titans episode "Lightspeed" combines this with a Villain Episode, focusing on Kid Flash (hero) and the Hive Five (villains). Also "For Real," which concerns Titans East.
    • One could also count "Titans East," which focuses on that team and Cyborg while the other main Titans barely appear.
  • One Hundred and One Dalmatians: Two-Tone got her share of the limelight in "Love `em and Flea `em". In most episodes, she has one or two lines.
  • In Chowder, Gazpacho was given his own episode toward the end of the series' run. Chowder and Mung only appear briefly in the beginning.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar could be considered a show in the limelight, since its primary characters are the title penguins (Kowalski, Private, Rico, Skipper) and the lemurs (King Julien, Maurice and Mort), all of whom were only secondary characters in the Madagascar films.
  • Winx Club had an episode where Stella participates in a beauty pageant, and another where Tecna is strongly suspicious of Professor Avalon. But the most notable non-Bloom-centric episode was "Magic in My Heart", which focuses on Musa putting on a concert at Red Fountain against her father's wishes. It's especially notable since Bloom and Flora (and in the original, Tecna) were all Demoted to Extra s. (It could also be considered A Day in the Limelight for Stormy, as the rest of the time, the Trix's plans revolve around Icy and Darcy, but here she gets to fight Musa by herself.)
  • Dexter's Laboratory did this a few times, with Dexter's Mom, Dad, and Dee Dee getting the spotlight in a few episodes.
  • The Peanuts special What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown! centers around an Acid Reflux Nightmare that Snoopy has, and is almost entirely about him. Charlie Brown only appears at the very beginning and end of the special, and none of the other regular characters are seen.
    • The feature film Snoopy Come Home is also one of these, to an extent.
    • It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown stars Snoopy's brother, Spike. despite the title, Charlie Brown (and Snoopy) only appear in a very brief intro.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures had "Sepulveda Boulevard", a full episode detective noir-esque story centering around Montana Max, Plucky Duck, and Elmyra Duff. It was the only episode of the show that did not have Buster Bunny or Babs Bunny in any capacity (there's a picture of Babs on a billboard, but that's it).
  • A lot of season 2 episodes of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic focused on side characters, with Spike, the Cutie Mark Crusaders (whether individually or as group together), Granny Smith, Big Macintosh, and Cheerilee being the center of attention.
  • Gargoyles did an episode focusing on Vinnie Grigori, a very minor character who had appeared in several episodes as a generic security guard. The titular Gargoyles unintentionally disrupted his life and lost him several jobs, and the Limelight episode was about his quest for vengeance. He ultimately succeeds, and actually creams Goliath by using a specially designed shoulder-mounted cannon.
  • Recess: The main six got their own episodes centering around them. Aside from that, most of the other major characters got their own episodes centering around them, such as The Ashleys, Miss Grotke, and King Bob, and one episode that centers on Gordy, who's a background character (who's famous for not liking T.J. for no reason, as well as asking Miss Grotke about sex.)
  • Though the center of the shower and the plot itself is supposed to be all about Kuzco in The Emperors New School, the second season focused on several secondary character's such as Guaca, Yatta, Bucky the Squirrel... heck, even Kronk's shoulder angels gets one.
  • Though Batman: The Brave And The Bold is a Limelight Series in general, teaming Batman up with various other heroes, the episode "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!" stands out for focusing almost entirely on Aquaman as he works with various other heroes (and goes sightseeing with his family). There's also a Villain Episode starring The Joker.
  • Disney's Winnie the Pooh series does this a lot with some of the cast. The Tigger Movie and Piglet's Big Movie are full length theatrical features focused mainly around one particular character or the cast's relationship with them. Short films A Day For Eeyore and Springtime For Roo also revolve around originally minor characters while The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh gives nearly every supporting character at least two or three episodes to themselves.
  • Tale Spin episode "Flight School Confidential" is revolved largely around Kit venturing to Thembria, with Baloo only getting a brief role in the opening and closing scenes. A couple of episodes also focus dominantly on Rebecca and Molly's relationship.
  • King of the Hill has "Peggy Makes the Big Leagues". Peggy begins substitute teaching at high school and ends up failing the star football player, which under "No Pass No Play" gets suspended from the team. Everyone else (even regular Straight Man Hank) throws a fit and does their best to go around Peggy just so the team can get to state. Peggy is normally a Base Breaker, but in this episode she's completely in the right and sticks to her morals in the face of overwhelming peer pressure.
  • Although most of the episodes of WITCH focus on one of the five main girls, at least one episode per season revolves around Matt, Caleb, and Blunk as well.