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Sometimes, a main character of a drama series that is not usually courtroom based will go on trial. The trial is used as a narrative device to tell the story of the crime through witness reports or, in a suitably futuristic world, some sort of mind reading device.
Merely containing a trial doesn't make a trial episode. The trial episode differs from simply being an episode involving legal drama in that the trial is used to tell the story; the audience (and possibly other major characters) don't know the story in advance, and learn it through the trial itself. There may be a B plot involving secondary characters striving to prove their friend's innocence.
Results of the trial vary; most commonly, the accused is found to have been framed, but occasionally genuinely guilty characters are pardoned or let off on a technicality.
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- The Animorphs book Visser tells Visser One's backstory and the history of the Earth invasion through her trial for various acts of treason.
- Star Trek: The Original Series episodes:
- "The Menagerie". After hijacking the Enterprise, Spock is court martialed. The trial takes up the last part of Part 1 and all of part 2.
- "Court-Martial". Captain Kirk is put on trial for negligently causing the death of one of his crewmen.
- ''Wolf in the Fold". Scotty is tried on the planet Argelius II for the murder of several women.
- In the Futurama episode Where No Fan Has Gone Before, the crew of the Planet Express tell the story of their encounter with illegal Star Trek merchandise while put on trial by Zapp Brannigan.
- In the Justice League episode In Blackest Night, John Stuart is put on trial and a witness explains how he blew up a populated planet.
- An unanimated Invader Zim script The Trial highlights much of Zim's past and expands on the crimes that had him exiled to Foodcourtia, among others. Apparently he was responsible for the deaths of two previous Almighty Tallest. In a rare example involving neither innocence nor pardon, Zim is found unambiguously guilty and survived execution by driving the judge/executioner, who attempts to drain the information from his Pak, insane.
- An episode of Batman: The Animated Series features three police explaining a failed drug bust and Batman's interference via this method for the first half of the episode.