Some serial stories depend on a specific group of characters dominating the stories. But sometimes for Something Completely Different
one or more of those main characters are put on the sidelines, to the point it is notable that they have little to nothing to do with that particular story.
Tends to go hand-in-hand with A Day in the Limelight
for the secondary characters, for obvious reasons. Although it isn't mandatory, as sometimes even the one being put into the light is fairly prominent to begin with and the one in the shadow merely has a reduced role rather than ignored outright.
Often enforced due to Written-In Infirmity
- Michael Westen is the bona-fide main character of the series, leading the action first hand in almost every scene. But there are a few episodes where he takes a backseat to another character working the mission. He never steps entirely out of focus but it allows one of his teammates to take center stage. Usually it happens because he has shown his face to so many people that some missions run the risk of getting exposed, so instead Sam has to manipulate cocaine dealers or Jesse has to misdirect a South American cartel. Incidentally, actor Jeffery Donovan tends to direct those episodes so he doesn't have to worry about acting and directing in EVERY scene.
- Used often due to the large casts of the various Star Trek shows. While rarely commented upon some characters don't even show up for some of the Bottle Episodes, even if they have a name in the opening credits.
- "The Zeppo" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most popular episodes and featuring Xander in A Day in the Limelight. The funny thing was that the story was so focused on Xander that the entire rest of the cast was relegated to short, almost cameo, appearances.
- Kevin Sorbo was having health problems during the run of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and a few episodes were written to feature his character in small bit parts. As the show had developed a rather impressive supporting cast those instead were put into focus, such as Autolycus, Iolaus and Salmoneus.
- One episode of Batman Beyond focused almost exclusively on Terry trying to combat a Joker gang commandeering an experimental military vehicle. It featured the shortest appearance of Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) in any episode of the DCAU that featured the character, with just one line "Well go get them."