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Day In The Life

Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup, and looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat, and grabbed my hat, made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke, and somebody spoke and I went into a dream...

Just what it says, an episode that follows the characters around on their normal routine. Make this the focus of an entire series, and you have Slice of Life.

Some stories place a Day In The Life at the very beginning to establish The Protagonist as one of the Normal People the audience can relate to, before things go downhill fast. In such cases, a Day In The Life can be seen as an action-free Batman Cold Open.

Sometimes it is framed as a documentary. Can lead to A Day in the Limelight for minor characters, and is often used for character development for them. Can also be a Breather Episode in particularly serious arcs. May contain a Morning Routine.


Examples:

  • Seinfeld's parking lot episode is probably the best example of taking observational humor into a dramatic format. Seinfeld specialized in taking the logic of a Day In The Life episode to its logical extreme.
  • The Brady Bunch: The episode "Tell It Like It Is" saw Carol write about a typical day at the Bradys for the magazine Tomorrow's Woman.
  • Sesame Street: The 1973-1974 season opener, particularly the opening segment which shows just about everyone in the cast for the coming season. Gordon (the second one, played by Hal Miller) ends this first segment by saying, "Just another day on Sesame Street!"
    • Western Publishing issued a series of Sesame Street coloring books in the late 1970s, one of which was titled "A Day On Sesame Street. Pictures and activities depict scenes from the pre-dawn early morning (Herry Monster helping unload newspapers and breaking a newsstand in the process) to late night (everyone going to bed).
  • The last episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete is a Day In The Life episode that underscores the goofiness of its milieu. Another series that ended with such an ep was the short-lived WB cartoon Road Rovers.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation did it in "Data's Day."
  • Stargate SG-1 did one in the eighth-season episode "Zero Hour", as we get to see Jack O'Neill getting used to the day-to-day work of running the SGC just after his promotion.
  • For a Mutant Enemy example, go to the Angel episode "Harm's Way''. If you see the secondary character Harmony get up in the morning, work, go to Happy Hour, then wake up the next day with a hangover and a dead stranger, you have a Day In The Life. The episode is also A Day in the Limelight.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess gently parodied it in the aptly-named episode "A Day in the Life" that followed the mythological hero around on a day when she wasn't getting in adventures.
  • Mash relied on this storyline for multiple episodes, most using "the letter home" Framing Device to demonstrate the characters' lives in Korea, but occasionally other documents (Hawkeye's will, for example).
  • It's a good way to spotlight a minor character, as in the episode of The Tick where they follow Sewer Urchin around on his underground routine (which is far more fraught and dangerous than they thought). This provides a bit of Retcon and Back Story for the Sewer Urchin. Plus, very funny. This episode is also A Day in the Limelight.
  • Episode 9 of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya. It's so much a Day In The Life that there are long, silent sections of a character reading a book. Apparently, it was intentionally written as such in order to contrast with the traditional Grand Finale episodes in anime. Note that this episode is chronologically the last in the series.
    • This is also the only episode where Kyon does not narrate, and he spends significant portions out doing errands with no view from his perspective.
  • Battlestar Galactica has an episode entitled "A Day in the Life," although the events taking place in it are something less than typical; a better example might be the episode "Final Cut" (which is also A Day in the Limelight for a few characters).
  • The Law & Order fourth season episode, 'Mayhem', which focuses on the detectives as they investigate several cases over the course of one day as opposed to just one case over the episode; the prosecutors barely appear.
    • The Season 13 episode, 'Couples', does the same thing.
    • The episode "Aftershock" didn't have a normal investigation or prosecution, instead following the various characters around for a day in the wake of an execution they all witnessed.
  • Ghost in the Shell :Stand Alone Complex had an episode following the exploits of a rogue Tachikoma, which basically meant helping a little girl find her dog.
  • A number of the chapters in the Ayla stories in the Whateley Universe are like this: she goes to classes, gets powers testing, tries to get really good food in the cafeteria, chats with side characters...
  • Babylon 5 had the episode "A View From The Gallery" about two maintenance workers' workday.
  • Episode 10 of Akikan!! showed a day in the life of the three Akikan girls at home. Melon tried to deal with the heat, Yell cleaned up the apartment and Budoko played make-believe. No wacky harem antics, no school scenes, final destination.
  • AH.com: The Series "A Day in the Life of G.Bone", which was also an example of A Day in the Limelight.
  • House episode 6x14 "5 to 9" follows a day in the life of Lisa Cuddy. Arguably, 6x10 "Wilson" does so for Wilson as well.
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is about one day in the life of a gulag zeke.
  • Clerks, Mallrats, Clerks II.
  • The episode "The Tales of Ba Sing Se" from Avatar: The Last Airbender . Toph and Katara bond during girls' day out, Iroh helps people and mourns his dead son, Aang creates a zoo in about two minutes, Sokka stumbles on a poetry club and ends up in a haiku battle, Zuko goes out on a very awkward date, and Momo goes looking for Appa.
  • Ulysses.
  • In first chapter of The Longest Journey, April goes about a rather normal day of her life, during which the player can get familiar with the setting. Only a couple of strange things happen, but the first one doesn't break the flow much and the other ones happen in choice-dependent ending cinematics of the chapter.
  • The first issue of Astro City was a day in the life of Samaritan, that series' Superman Expy.
  • The "Diamond and Vindicator Adopt a Baby" (in which the superheroine Diamond and her partner, the superheroine Vindicator, both feeling their biological clock ticking, adopt a baby girl), "Rebound and the Nosy Reporter" (in which Rebound romances a reporter who at first seems only interested in digging up dirt about him and his teammates), "Achilles Has a Heart-to-Heart With His Dad" (in which heroic Achilles has an emotional discussion about life with his father, the Evil Overlord known as Lord Doom over a game of chess) and "Ultra-Man Builds a House" (in which Ultra-Man returns to his home town to do just that) storylines from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe.
  • In the Kung Fu: The Legend Continues episode "May I Ride With You?" Caine tries to get to know his son Peter better by spending a day accompanying him on his rounds as a cop. Peter returns the favor a season later in "May I Walk With You?"
  • Issue 8 of The New Teen Titans featured a story titled "A Day in the Lives" which followed all the Titans except Robin during a normal day. It's widely agreed that it was this issue which helped launch The New Teen Titans to the best-seller (where it would remain for sixteen years).
  • It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube describes a good day for a gangster.
  • Everything Else's "Harassing The Conman" tells the story of a day at Valley Fair in which a friend of the band has a run in with the law.
  • In Sinfest, there have been sixteen comics named this, each focusing on different characters. For the purpose of this article, the most famous are:
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The Noob comic does this for one on the players of the MMORPG the story takes place at the beginning of each comic.
  • Night Court had four episodes titled "Day in the Life", "Another Day in the Life," "Yet Another Day in the Life," and "Still Another Day In the Life," all of which involve the gang trying as many cases as possible before a deadline.
  • The Simpsons had "22 Short Stories About Springfield" which is about what various characters do over the course of a day.

Bigger Than JesusFranchise/The BeatlesHalf the Man He Used to Be
Date PeepersPlotsA Day in the Limelight

alternative title(s): A Day In The Life
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