There's a reason why [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters ensemble series]] are successful. The cast's big enough to allow for a [[PlotThreads multitude of storylines]], the number of cast members makes for dramatic action scenes, ThePowerOfFriendship is accounted for, and most viewers will be able to identify with at least one of the characters.

However, every now and then, it's not particularly convenient, or practical, to have 20 characters tromping around in a single plotline. Particularly if said plotline is significant to one character specifically. No one really wants TheDitz, the DeadpanSnarker, the PluckyComicRelief and TheEeyore in tow when he's off on a [[JourneyToFindOneself journey to find himself]], or to discover which villain murdered his mother, stole his inheritance and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking ate his pet gerbil]]. After all, ItsPersonal.

As a result, ensemble stories employ Character Focus, where one character, either alone or with only his most trusted companions (or, alternatively, the sneaky git who got curious about where he was going and stowed away in his luggage), separates from the main team and goes off on their own.

Generally, characters with {{mysterious past}}s, [[{{Wangst}} five metric tons of angst]] or identity issues are much more likely to get Character Focus than the cheerful, well-adjusted ones, although said cheerful teammate is likely to go along to keep his angsty pal company. While this may be because TrueArtIsAngsty, it also gives the readers/viewers a chance to get to know characters who don't reveal much of themselves within a team context. Alternatively, a character's [[EnsembleDarkhorse popularity with the fans]] may get him singled out from the team for a chance to shine on his own.

That's not to say that comedic stories don't use Character Focus. They're less likely, however, to use the JourneyToFindOneself to do so. In more lighthearted fare, Character Focus tends to be through flashbacks, or by distancing them from the main ensemble via plot device, such as visiting parents, meeting an old flame who brings back memories, going through their childhood possessions, etc. In such cases, the rest of the cast aren't usually absent, but just on the sidelines for the episode/arc.

Be careful, though. While fans of a particular character may enjoy a tale centered solely on that character, when the camera's zoomed in on one person, everyone else is OutOfFocus... It gets worse, too: pull the camera in ''too'' tight and you've just created the SpotlightStealingSquad. Similarly bad, if TheScrappy gets Character Focus (but not a ReTool), then he/she is in danger of becoming a CreatorsPet.

See also ADayInTheLimelight, where it's a side character who takes centre stage, and LockedInARoom or LockedInAFreezer, where it's a relationship. If every member of the team regularly gets a chance to shine, then the writers are employing RotatingArcs. Compare ChangingOfTheGuard, where the shift of attention is more permanent. Contrast NonProtagonistResolver, when the work is screwing with Character Focus (i.e something who's not in focus ends up resolving the conflict).
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* Most of the Sailor Senshi from ''Anime/SailorMoon'' got storylines (mainly) to themselves during the filler arcs of the anime, as the need for padding provided opportunities to flesh out the rather large cast in-between the story episodes.
** In the manga, the Dead Moon Circus arc featured each of the Guardian Senshi having to confront their inner demons in order to gain their Crystal Power upgrade.
** While the main ''Manga/SailorMoon'' manga ran in Magazine/{{Nakayoshi}}, it's sister magazine, Run-Run, published some one-offs and side stories that inevitably fleshed out the characters. Chibiusa's Picture Diaries focused on some of her stories in the future. The Exam Battles side stories also gave character focuses to individual team members. One of those stories, "Ami-chan no Hatsukoi" (Ami's First Love) was also adapated as a short special to accompany the ''[=SuperS=] movie due to Ami's extreme popularity in Japan. Finally, "Casablanca Memories" was a story entirely focused on Rei that filled in most of the backstory for Rei in the manga's canon.
** One of the ''[=SuperS=]'' specials focused entirely on Haruka and Michiru to try and come up with an excuse for why they would not appear in the rest of the season.
** The entire [=SuperS=] season took a lot of criticism for giving Chibiusa a much larger role, to the point where she split main character status with Sailor Moon (including requiring Chibiusa to help her transform and to finish off the season's monsters.) The manga version of that story arc ''did'' give Chibiusa a larger role, but not at the expense of other main characters also having their own storylines (such as the Outer Senshi, who got written out of that season of the anime but played a major role in the manga).
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** ''Naruto'' followed up its long Chunin Exam/Destruction of Konoha TournamentArc (which introduced or expanded the roles of literally dozens of characters) with the Search For Tsunade {{arc}}, in which Naruto, Jiraiya, Tsunade, Shizume, Orochimaru, and Kabuto were the only characters with significant roles.
** Additionally, in ''[[TimeSkip Shippuden]]'', Shikamaru gets his own arc involving two Akatsuki. Jiraya and Sasuke also get significant attention, combining with the former so much so that Naruto himself was OutOfFocus for quite some time.
* Piro and Kimiko have been getting a ''lot'' of this in ''{{Megatokyo}}'', with various other characters appearing as supporting cast - or occasionally, just used as sounding boards.
* The treatment of Conrad in ''KyouKaraMaou'' is a strong example of Character Focus, arguably at the expense of the other members of the cast. This anime is quintessentially an ensemble piece, making it difficult to squeeze in Character Focus without becoming {{Filler}}. Yet we still learn all about Conrad's past, his angst and his karmic connection to Yuri. Even Conrad's father gets ADayInTheLimelight - and he died long before the story started. Compare this to Conrad's half-brothers Gwendal and Wolfram, who don't get much CharacterDevelopment after the initial episodes. We don't even know who their dads ''are''.
* Nagaru Tanigawa, the guy who created the ''SuzumiyaHaruhi'' novels stated that he likes Yuki Nagato, because she is the easiest to write CharacterDevelopment for.
** For that matter, Mikuru gets a Character Focus chapter and an entire novel, too.
* Much of the ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' manga vs anime fights (when they aren't about the main plot) come down to the differing Character Focus the two versions have.
* All the Straw Hats of ''Manga/OnePiece'' have one arc with particular focus on them. Zoro: The Morgan arc. Nami: The Arlong arc. Usopp: The Kuro arc. Sanji: The Baratie arc. Chopper: The Drum arc. Robin: The Enies Lobby arc. Franky: The Water 7 arc. Brook: The Thriller Bark.
** Ace also changes from being a minor character to becoming important off-screen in the Impel Down (he isn't seen much but the plot is about saving him) to practically becoming the main character together with Luffy in the Marineford arc (along with Whitebeard) and the first half of the Post-War arc.
* ''{{Eyeshield 21}}'' has this for most of the Devilbats. The Zokugaku game for Monta, the Taiyou game for the Ha-Ha Brothers, the Death March and Bando game for Taki, the Kyoshin game for Komosubi, the Seibu game for Musashi, the Naga game for Yukimitsu, and the Hakushuu game for Kurita. Interestingly, Hiruma never gets a true character focus (he never has his skills as a player "questioned" or "proven"), but he was intentionally designed to be somewhat "mysterious" and "otherworldly". Sena's character focus is pretty much the entire series.
* Tabitha from ''LightNovel/ZeroNoTsukaima'' gets her own spinoff manga.
* ''[[Anime/TheIdolmaster THE iDOLM@STER]]'' - Every one of the idols has a focus episode, some more than others tough.
* Each episode of ''{{Franchise/Anpanman}}'' is created by taking two characters (or a defined group of characters and another character) and having them meet each other or work together, playing off their own personality traits. Thanks to the show [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters holding the record for most named characters]], this works out well. When a new character is introduced, they'll get their own starring episode.
* ''[[Anime/QueensBlade Queen's Blade: Hide & Seek]]'' is an [[AlternateContinuity AU]] manga series which shifts the focus from Leina, who gets DemotedToExtra, and unto her younger sister, [[CatGirl Elina.]] The story chronicles [[SternChase her pursuit of Leina]], while also delving deeper into Elina's character, her motivations, and her attempts to come to terms with [[IncestSubtext her forbidden love]] [[TriangRelations for both her older sisters.]] In addition, she's shown to be far more formidable here, than in her anime portrayal.
** ''Hide & Seek'' gives [[AmazonianBeauty Claudette]] a near equal amount of focus, as she makes up the other half of [[IncestSubtext the romantic subplot between her and her youngest sister, Elina.]] Which effectively makes her the {{deuteragonist}} of the series. For much of the story, she finds herself torn between her hidden feelings toward Elina and her [[GreenEyedMonster jealousy]] and [[TheResenter resentment]] towards her other sister, Leina, whom she knows Elina is in love with.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In keeping with the "angsty characters are more interesting" sentiment common to this trope, Wolverine has wandered off on his own in every incarnation of the Comicbook/{{X-Men}} for various reasons - seeking answers to his past, in pursuit of the villain du jour or just because he's had a fight with one of the other X-Men.
** Broadly speaking, however, all the X-Men got a plotline to themselves at some point; the comics especially used rotating arcs.
* ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'' side stories ''Street Life'' and ''Isolation'' focused on Jack Hawksmoor and The Engineer, respectively, taking a break from the Apollo and Midnighter Show.
* The [[Franchise/TransformersGeneration1 G1]] ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' series often had these. Often these fleshed out characters, though every single one was to convince you to [[MerchandiseDriven buy their toy.]]
** Similarly, IDW's ''[[ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW Transformers: Spotlight]]'' series devotes one issue to one character, though the events all tie together somehow.
* "Detached Service Diary" was a ''Comicbook/{{Blackhawk}}'' feature with solo stories about the individual Blackhawks.
* ''Comicbook/JetDream'' gave Marlene and Ting-a-Ling a couple stories each.
* ''Comicbook/CaptainCarrotAndHisAmazingZooCrew'' had occasional backup strips with solo adventures for the members of the team.
* ''Solo [[Comicbook/TheAvengers Avengers]]'' (later ''Avengers Spotlight'') was a Marvel book in which Avengers who didn't have their own title got solo stories.
* ''Comicbook/TeenTitans Spotlight'' did the same thing for members of the Titans.
* ''[[Comicbook/JusticeSocietyOfAmerica JSA]] Classified'' did the same thing for the Justice Society. (Although ''[[Comicbook/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica JLA]] Classified'', the book it was named in imitation of, did stories featuring the whole League, because they almost all had their own titles).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' started out with a five book rotation deciding who narrated (and was the focus of) each book. For the most part, the focus is fairly equal (though Cassie received more AllUpToYou plots than the others--a total of 3). However, there were six characters, so the cycle went Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, Marco, Jake, Rachel, Ax, Cassie, Marco--meaning Ax and Tobias only narrated half as many books as the others. One problem with this was that {{Fangirl}} favorite Tobias' books tended to be very emotional, philosophical and dramatic. While his books had comic relief, he never narrated a primarily light-hearted, lower-stakes story, leading to cries of "{{Wangst}}!" and "[[FanNickname emohawk!]]" Meanwhile, most of Ax's books, despite the fact that his very first narration established that he ''had'' to kill Visser Three according to Andalite revenge customs, tended towards comedy and {{Filler}}. Near the end, Ax was added to the end of the rotation, however, and that fixed his problems.
* Similarly, KA Applegate's ''Literature/{{Everworld}}'' series features a different one of the five main characters for every book. Um, in a cycle.
** Actually, it rotated between the four main characters, with Senna getting her own [[VillainEpisode Villain Book]]. Because the series was twelve stories long this resulted in Jalil only getting two books instead of three.
* The story is all done in third person, but in Micheal Grant's "Literature/{{Gone}}", the focus switches every couple pages to a different character.
* "Real literature" example: every chapter in Creator/KristineKathrynRusch's ''Fey'' series tells the story from the viewpoint of a different character.
* Robert Asprin's [[Literature/MythAdventures MYTH series]] is usually narrated by one character, but any books including "M.Y.T.H." in the title (with the periods) are narrated by various other characters, sometimes one per chapter.
* [[CreatorsPet Joey]] and Tony of ''BackyardSports'' get this treatment in two of the Backyard Books.
* ''Literature/TheAlienist'': The characters in the novel split off singly and in pairs during the investigation.
* Starting with ''Literature/TheNewProphecy'', each book of ''Literature/WarriorCats'' shifts the focus to a different one of the main characters. In fact, in ''Literature/OmenOfTheStars'', the cat on the cover of each book is the focal character for it (except for ''Sign of the Moon'' where the focal character is Jayfeather, not the [[FanNickname covercat]] Stoneteller).
* ''Literature/TheRailwaySeries'' gave seperate stories and even full novels to numerous stations and individual engines. Its AnimatedAdaptation ''Literature/ThomasAndFriends'' initially followed this formula, though later seasons focus more primarily on the show's BreakoutCharacter.
* Creator/StephenKing frequently utilizes this in his stories that feature LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters. Most notably seen in ''Literature/TheStand'', ''Literature/{{It}}'', ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' series, and ''Literature/NeedfulThings'', among others.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfLegendia'' has an after story section of character quest chapters, created sorely to develop characters in the party. Even [[GenkiGirl Norma]] gets to [[TrueArtIsAngsty angst]] thanks to this feature.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' Compilation. We have ''VideoGame/DirgeOfCerberus'' focusing on [[TheQuietOne Vincent Valentine]], ''VideoGame/BeforeCrisis'' focusing on [[PunchClockVillain the Turks]], ''VideoGame/CrisisCore'' focusing on [[DoomedByCanon Zack Fair,]] and a two-episode anime featuring Denzel, a kid from the ''[[Anime/FinalFantasyVIIAdventChildren Advent Children]]'' movie.
* Torneko Taloon of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIV'' is popular enough that there's a number of mystery dungeon sequel-spinoff games featuring him continue his journey for a fortune as the greatest merchant. Yangus from ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'' received a similar benefit.
* Liara T'Soni of the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' series gets this in a bad way in the latter two games of the series. Mass Effect 2, while she stays out of the main game, a [[DownloadableContent side mission]] lets her come along with the party on a mission that's all about her (Shepard, the hero is just tagging along and controlled by the player). The third game requires her as a party member for more missions than any other character, and she gets far more cutscenes and interaction with Shepard than any character in the game. Aria T'Loak is given this treatment in the Omega DLC, and, while [[DownplayedTrope less evident]], Urdnot Wrex is this to the Citadel DLC.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'': Some characters (particularly Vivi and Garnet) recieve significant focus, to the detriment of other characters (most noticeably, Freya, whose personal story line is completely dropped early on in Disc 2 and not picked back up until the very end of the game).
* ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'' becomes one when you meet Elizabeth and have her traveling with you throughout the game, with only one specific area dedicated to Booker.
* Robert was the protagonist of ''[[VideoGame/ArtOfFighting Art of Fighting 3]]'', which had him revisit the fictional city of Glasshill, Mexico to protect his childhood friend, Friea Lawrence, from their mutual friend, Wyler. After a confrontation with Ryo[[note]]who had also come to Glasshill in search of him, at Karmen's request[[/note]], whom Robert defeats, he went onto to face [[TheDragon Sinclair]] and finally Wyler, himself; defeating them as well.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' cycles through characters: one week may focus attention on Kate, the next may be Hurley, and so forth.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' has the same format as ''{{Lost}}'' (due to the show being created by the same producers)
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'': The first season episode "Company Man" is all about Noah Bennett.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': The episode "War Stories" focuses more on the character Wash than most previous episodes, as the pilot of an unarmed ship he was usually away from the action. This led to some frustration on his part and he subsequently demanded to be brought along for a field mission.
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' sometimes has an episode focused on a single character. Generally, the Character Focus will go to the character recalling a talent of theirs to play the bait or the character dealing with an issue or acquaintance from his or her past life.
* ''[[Series/{{MASH}} M*A*S*H]]'' has many episodes focused on Hawkeye, with the episode "Hawkeye" the most extreme: a 20-minute monologue by Hawkeye, with no other regular appearing in the episode.
* ''Series/{{Skins}}'' has nearly every episode each series (excluding finales) focusing on a different member of the group and their problems, while relating it to the ongoing storyline.
* ''Series/{{SonsOfAnarchy}} used to do this, focusing on minor members of the club, the police force, and members of rival gangs. In recent episodes it has focused entirely on the relationship between Jax and Tara and how the club's actions affect Jax. The phrase 'Jax will get to the bottom of this' has become a running joke amongst fans.
* Happens on ''Series/{{Degrassi}}'' fairly often. This can sometimes give away who the next major plotline is about, since a character who usually is OutOfFocus may get brought back into the spotlight for no apparent reason.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* On WWE (Monday Night RAW in particular), most of the storylines tend to revolve around the likes of [[Wrestling/{{JohnCena}} John Cena]],[[Wrestling/{{TripleH}} Triple H]], [[Wrestling/{{TheRock}} The Rock]], and other big names while most of the mid-card talent and Divas tend to be lost in the shuffle.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Used often in ''Webcomic/ElectricWonderland'', which has a larger roster of main characters (seven for now) than any of PlatypusComix's other flagship comics.
* Done quite often in ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', thanks to the fact that there is no ''central'' protagonist between the eight main characters.
* Used several times in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', the best example probably being Vaarsuvius' separation from the rest of the party.
* Used a lot in ''SluggyFreelance'', particularly given Torg's tendency to get TrappedInAnotherWorld.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* A part of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, since there are a dozen different writers. About half the main and side characters got their own focus stories just over Christmas vacation. Aquerna's Christmas story apparently turned her into a semi-main character.
* Episodes one, two and three of WebVideo/DemoReel focus on Tacoma's patience limits, Rebecca's DarkAndTroubledPast and Donnie's issues respectively.
* Season 12 of Machinima/RedVsBlue is focusing a lot on Tucker's growth as a leader. There were hints of this in season 11 as well, but focusing more on him as a soldier than a leader and building up to his arc for the next season.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. The episode "Zuko Alone" focuses on [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Zuko alone]], even the B-Plot was just him remembering scenes from his childhood which detailed his early relationship with his father and sister (and Mai), explained how uncle Iroh (the elder brother) did NOT end up as Fire Lord, and revealed that [[spoiler: his mother]] had mysteriously disappeared one night when he was very young.
* In the second season of ''JusticeLeagueUnlimited'', a disproportionate number of episodes feature Question, Huntress, GreenArrow, or Black Canary.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' loved this trope. Each one of the main four got one or more episodes that either backgrounded or omitted the other three.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' definitely has this trope thanks to its diverse cast of 100+ characters.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' started using this more and more [[DivergentCharacterEvolution as the boys became more distinguished]]. Episodes typically focus on Stan and Kyle, Kyle and Cartman, Cartman and Butters, or Randy and Stan.
* Certain episodes in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' focuses on each member of the team. "Bereft" was Miss Martian. "Drop Zone" was Robin. "Schooled" was ComicBook/{{Superboy}}. "Infiltrator" and "Secret" were Artemis. "Denial" was Kid Flash. "Downtime" was Aqualad.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}}'' though Lion-O has received the most CharacterDevelopment of the titular group, Panthro's introduction, "Old Friends," delves into his backstory, and that of his EvilFormerFriend Grune. Later, we get two episodes devoted to the Thunderkittens, and one episode for Tygra.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' has several. "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill," an episode detailing how Comicbook/TheMightyThor met BetaRayBill, went so far as to replace the intro's picture of the Avengers with a picture of Thor.
* While ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' had a handful of focus episodes in its first season, Season 2 went further and there are very few episodes that ''don't'' focus on fewer than 3 characters.
* Most episodes of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' spotlight one or two members of the team. On a larger scale, each seasonal arc focuses on a particular character:
** Season 1: Robin
** Season 2: Terra, and to a lesser extent Beast Boy
** Season 3: Cyborg
** Season 4: Raven, and to a lesser extent Robin
** Season 5: Breaks the pattern by not being centered around a specific character, but Beast Boy plays a key role at the beginning and again near the end, so it's sometimes considered his season.
* Aside from the usual [[SpotlightStealingSquad Spotlight Stealers]], some contestants in ''[[WesternAnimation/TotalDramaIsland Total Drama]]'' who were eliminated early or did not compete got focused on in later seasons.
** Justin, Beth, and Harold were eliminated early in ''Island'', but they received significant screen time in ''Action''. However, Justin and Beth did not compete in ''World Tour'' while Harold did compete but was ousted early on.
** [[EnsembleDarkhorse Cody, Noah, Ezekiel,]] [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg and Tyler]] were largely OutOfFocus from their elimination in ''Island'' until ''World Tour'', where they received more development, especially Cody.
* WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom gives, in it's much maligned third season, an inordinate amount of focus on [[SoapBoxSadie Sam Manson]] and her relationship with Danny, while the enemy ghosts had no more motivation than "Take over the world!"
[[/folder]]

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