A non-SoapOpera narrative with special interest in the relationships of the characters rather than their heroic exploits. This trope can apply to any work of fiction: a VampireDetectiveSeries, a HumongousMecha {{Anime}}, a [[HistoricalFiction historical]] {{thriller}}, or what-have-you. Movies and television which invent all-new superheroes quite often take this route (either that or they go the "realistic" route, [[NotWearingTights without costumes]]). Usually it has a [[LighterAndSofter "softer"]] feel and much more screen time devoted to getting to know the characters and their individual strengths and foibles and on their "civilian" activities. Relationships change and develop over time, and much of the show's driving force comes not from plot but [[strike:{{Melodrama}}]] simple interactions.

It's not uncommon for such series to [[{{Filler}} "take a break"]] from the normal heroics to have an episode of pure characterization (ComicBook fans have long nicknamed these "baseball issues") or to eschew the heroics/doctoring/detecting entirely in favor of other soap opera staples like the SoapWheel and FourLinesAllWaiting. In the case of superheroes, part of the drama will derive from separating hero and civilian identities with romantic complications. Anime [[BeachEpisode beach episodes]], when not entirely devoted to {{Fanservice}}, can be a form of this trope.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime ]]

* This is something often mentioned about ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' - that it was unusual for a mecha series to be so focused on characters and interpersonal relationships. Maybe it's part of a broader trend?
** Some would say yes. ''EurekaSeven's'' first half certainly thinks so, and the middle section of ''RahXephon'' also has these traits.
** ''Anime/RinneNoLagrange'' is definitely more about the relationship between Madoka, Lan and Muginami than about outright mecha action.
* ''{{Gundam SEED}}''; to the point where it was practically formulaic to have one episode with action followed by an episode with nothing but soap.
* A lot of Anime fit this description. ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' comes to mind, quite a few episodes of the Anime had no action at all.
* ''RozenMaiden''. Given that this is pretty much a {{Moe}} series, it's not surprising.
* ''CodeGeass''. In there with all that mecha fighting and political intrigue and [[LargeHam overacting]], they manage to squeeze in all sorts of high school drama and comedy, leading to sometimes-incredible MoodWhiplash.
* ''GunslingerGirl'' is somewhat like this.
* The LoveTriangle plots that are a staple of the ''{{Macross}}'' franchise.

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* CaptainAmerica tends to get all angsty about young sidekicks (particularly regarding Rick Jones) because Bucky "died" (Winter Soldier is a long story for another time) while his sidekick. This also explains his early animosity towards the YoungAvengers. Similarly, Cap's own comic book made commentary on '40s vs. "modern" (whatever time period we're in) American values.
* [[{{Spider-Man}} Peter Parker]] is the posterboy of this, apt considering he's probably the tropemaker.
* ''Comicbook/{{Empowered}}'' and ''Ultra'' come to mind.
* ''NobleCauses'' is a SoapOpera where the characters just happen to have super powers.
* ''ComicBook/{{Runaways}}''. Yes, the plot really is the driving force, but we wouldn't have the whole Nico/Karolina/Xavin subplot if it wasn't at all Soaperheroes.
* ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', although the theme seemed to be "[[NotUsingTheZedWord costumed adventurers]]" didn't have any life outside of fighting crime.
* ''Young Heroes in Love'', a short-lived DC Comic.
* Exemplified by Creator/ChrisClaremont's work on the ''ComicBook/{{X-Men}}''.
* ''{{Preacher}}'' had long stretches where the story took a break from the overall RageAgainstTheHeavens plot to focus on the relationships between the three main characters. This is most evident in the arcs later collected in ''Dixie Fried'' and ''All Hell's a-Comin'''.
* ComicBook/MarvelAdventures: Avengers turned away from saving-the-world plots to focus more on filling up lazy afternoons with activities like showing up at a country fair, chasing down spammers, dating, and pestering each other. Maybe not melodrama so much as passing the time.
* Plenty of ''ComicBook/AstroCity'' stories are more character studies than they are superhero epics.
* ''Comicbook/IncredibleHulk'', especially in TheSeventies and early Eighties.
* Done regularly in ''ComicBook/StrikeforceMorituri'', given the character-driven nature of the series.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles''.
* ''Film/SkyHigh''.
* Parodied in ''Film/TheSpecials''. There is no actual super-combat or rescuing on screen at all.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''SoonIWillBeInvincible''.
* ''WildCards'', in places.
* The third and fourth series of ''Literature/WarriorCats'' have been described this way by fans, since there's really no antagonist and no overarching conflict until the later part of the fourth series.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''{{Soap}}'' of course.
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', at first anyway. The third season so far seems to be focusing almost entirely on superheroics.
* Also ''Series/MyHero''. He performs heroics, but never on camera.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration,'' though it's usually NegativeSpaceWedgie [[MonsterOfTheWeek Of The Week]].
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'': Half of its plots revolve around interpersonal relationships, [[ExecutiveMeddling though they went overboard with it in the latter half of season two and third quarter of season three.]] They pulled a few superb conclusions to those seasons to make up for the dip in form luckily enough, and the show was at its best mixing genres and usually had the balance right.
** Its prequel/spin-off series, ''{{Caprica}}'', shifts even further in the direction of soap opera / family-based drama, while retaining a penchant for larger dramatic themes. The result is a very different show.
* ''Series/StargateUniverse'' is sometimes accused of this (and, tellingly, is also accused at times of being a ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' ripoff).
* While ''TheTick'' was more of a sitcom-type then a soap-type, it rarely showed the superheroes fighting, instead throwing them in plots like "meeting new heroes in an abusive relationship" or "suing the magazine that displayed [[FetishFuel naked pictures of Captain Liberty]]".
* ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]''. Whenever there's a couple real-time minutes to fill between Jack's latest action scene or torture technique? You can bet someone in either CTU in the White House be interrupting all their important business to talk about a coworker's feelings.
* ''LoisAndClark: The New Adventures of {{Superman}}'' caught a lot of flack in its day for being more like "''{{Moonlighting}}'' with superheroes" than other Superman shows, which were traditionally more action-oriented.
** Though ''{{Smallville}}'' has always focused on interpersonal drama to a bit higher degree than, say, ''SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'', in later seasons the story-to-sitting-around-{{wangst}}ing balance was tipped ''far'' in the wrong direction, even after [[RomanticPlotTumor Lana]] was PutOnABus.
* ''HarpersIsland'' uses this as a sort of {{Padding}}. Remember, your average slasher film is only about 90 minutes long; this one has some ''13 hours'' to fill!
* The complaint of soaperization was frequently levied at the US version of ''TheOffice'', especially during season four and early season five (what with the drama over Jim and Pam and the Dwight-Angela-Andy LoveTriangle).
* ProfessionalWrestling has often [[FanNickname been called]] "Soap Operas for guys."
* On ''Series/{{JAG}}'', this trend began to accelerate in the second and third seasons.
* ''Series/NoHeroics''. The clue's in the title.
* ''Series/{{Baywatch}}'' often did this, in order to provide for some variety other than heroic {{Rescue}}s, {{Fanservice}} and {{Montage}}s.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* A ShowWithinAShow in ''CityOfHeroes'' is mentioned that's apparently a soap opera involving superhero characters, called ''The Super Days''.
* Techincally, this is part game mechanic for ''ShinMegamiTensei'' ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' as the player not only goes through an EasternRPG with DatingSim elements. And it's become a CashCowFranchise and brought Atlus into the mainstream english videogame market.

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[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* ''Webcomic/SuperStupor''. In the words of the writer: 'It's about heroes and villains in their everyday lives. Really, that's it. '
* ''Webcomic/EverydayHeroes''. Truth, Justice, and Lawn Care.
* ''Webcomic/{{Superego}}'' primarily focuses on the cast's problems cooperating over its slowly revealed JigsawPuzzlePlot.

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[[folder: Web Original ]]

* ''InterviewingLeather'' focuses primarily on the interview of the supervillainess rather than seeing her in action.

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', though not precisely superheroes, a mix of {{Deconstruction}}, parody, soaperheroics and BlackComedy.

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