Rotating Arcs function like one of those revolving doors you invariably get your coat trapped in -- as one character, or group of characters, come in, another is pushed out. While this can happen [[ADayInTheLimelight on a character-by-character basis]], it's much more likely the the writer will make use of a CastHerd.

Rotating arcs that employ [[CastHerd cast herds]] need to do so in a fairly specific way in order to be successful. Outside of the main protagonist and his pals, the "pure" CastHerd usually consists of a spokesman and several almost-faceless subordinates. However, a Rotating Arc with a cast that consists of one person with a personality and several clones is hardly going to hold the audience's attention, especially since the audience will be stuck with that particular group for an extended period of time. The solution is to focus on a certain, small (usually between 3-7 characters) subset of the cast, ignore all the other characters for the duration, and flesh out the smaller group's individual personalities and relationships to each other for the time it takes to complete a StoryArc. That time may be as short as one episode/issue, but is usually a run of several.

The rotating arc's cast herd is therefore unlikely to consist only of one "type" of character, since it could lead to an overdose of that particular type. For example, six [[TheEeyore eeyores]] are likely to become too apathetic to do anything by page 4, while six [[TheDitz ditzes]] for an entire arc are likely to drive the viewer/reader to homicide. This type of CastHerd is far more likely to be [[GeodesicCast a smaller version of the main, large cast]], with a relevant grouping of different personalities.

Once one arc, featuring one particular team, is finished, the writer ties up the loose ends and moves on to another set of characters. There may be a cross-over segment where the team that is finishing up passes on information to the team who's just getting started on their storyline, but then the former team will exit, stage right, until their turn comes around again.

There is an added bonus for the writers here in that when separate [[CastHerd cast herds]] ''do'' form an alliance and appear together, it's a big event. If they've done the characterisation of the smaller groups well enough, readers are usually eager to see how they react to each other. "Like sodium and water" is usually the preferred answer for maximum drama, as various team leaders jostle for dominance, love interests suffer jealousy attacks, and [[DeadpanSnarker deadpan snarkers]] unite to annoy the hell out of everyone. By the end of this chaos, even the most enthusiastic members of the audience may be a bit relieved to return to the usual one-team-at-a-time format, if only to catch their breath for a bit.

If a character changes groups, or the cast in its entirety is switched around, this is generally an arc in itself, as the fundamental ingredients of the book/comic/show have changed and new character dynamics have to be established.

It sounds a bit ruthless that one set has to kick out another in order to get their turn, but in actual fact this is probably the most popular way of handling LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters. It reduces two-dimensional characterisation, still employs {{Ensembles}} to appeal to the maximum number of readers, and decreases the number of occurrences where one character is OutOfFocus. Or at least placates the fans with the reassurance that their favourite hero will get a turn in the spotlight too. Eventually.

In effect, this is somewhat akin to [[SeasonFluidity writing several character-intense short stories and joining them together]], rather than spreading yourself thin writing a long novel with far more characters than can realistically be handled.

The Rotating Arc isn't infallible though. Sometimes it seems that the revolving door has done a 360 degree spin, and the same characters turn up over and over again, at everyone else's expense. An individual character may take up residence in several groups, which is good in moderation as it provides the teams with a mediator (or, at the very least, provides more {{Wangst}} when there's a conflict of interests and they're stuck in the middle). Overuse it, though, and readers/viewers will likely get sick of the sight of him/her. There's also the risk that one CastHerd will be significantly more appealing than the others, so to prevent this, personalities within the groups have to be balanced carefully.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/AhMyGoddess'' does this on a smaller scale, with shorter arcs. Roughly, Keiichi and the goddesses form one troupe, the demons another, and the Nekomi Tech side characters a third.
* ''Manga/CastleTownDandelion'' is a SliceOfLife series surrounding a king's [[MassiveNumberedSiblings 9 children]] against a backdrop of ElectiveMonarchy. As a result, this series is structured such that every chapter/segment is focused on one or two of the Sakurada siblings[[note]][[HalfIdenticalTwins Misaki and Haruka]] are often featured together, so are Teru and Shiori, who are the youngest.[[/note]]. Other siblings are often brought into the story as story requires, but there're few stories involving ''all'' of the siblings.
* ''Manga/FruitsBasket'', in the manga's later arcs, as a necessity of [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters parents, brothers, sisters, love interests and random passers by]] getting roped into the story. Notable for splitting up the core quartet of Yuki, Kyo, Shigure and Tohru. Kyo and Tohru form an arc unto themselves, Yuki begins to appear only in his own student-council related arc, and Shigure only really has any significance when shown with Akito. And let's not get started on the lives and loves of the other members of the Zodiac, who keep the Rotating Arcs spinning around at warp speed.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' filler arcs typically follow this pattern. With Sasuke having left the village and Sakura spending all her time training under Tsunade, Naruto typically goes on a mission with other squads, usually with a different character getting emphasis and development in the arc. For example, in the Mizuki Strikes Back arc, he works with Team 10 and Iruka and Mizuki's past is explored; in the Bikochuu arc, he goes with Team 8 and Hinata's growth as a ninja is explored. In some arcs, like Land of the Sea, the featured characters come from multiple teams. Shippuden follows this to some degree with its arcs (Team Guy in the Gaara arc, Team 10 in the Hidan and Kakuzu arc, and Team 8 in the Hunt for Uchiha arc).
* Upon the conclusion of the [[SeasonalRot Johto arc]], the Hoenn arc introduces Pokémon Contests into the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime and a main character to participate in it (May, and later Dawn in the Sinnoh arc), giving it as much importance to the plot as that of Ash's story. This way, Hoenn suffered from less {{Filler}} than Johto (which was infamous for large amounts of filler), giving it much better reception. The following Sinnoh arc, unfortunately, [[ArcFatigue didn't follow suit]], not from too much filler like Johto but from the opposite extreme of [[FourLinesAllWaiting too many plot arcs going on at once and stalling one another constantly.]]
* This is the general structure of ''Manga/HunterXHunter''. Though there are only four principal characters, more often than not, an arc will only feature two or three of them, with the remaining character(s) doing something more mundane, like Leorio going to medical school or Gon and Killua enjoying life in peace.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Noticeably averted in ''ComicBook/{{Stormwatch}}'' and ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'', where the teams are really too small to divide everyone up.
** Stormwatch does a LampshadeHanging on this in "Bleed", where, after viewing a parallel world where there are several Stormwatch teams, Winter remarks "You can't put twenty superhumans in the same '''town''' without them picking fights with each another."
*** It can be argued, though, that these comics do a mini rotating arc within the issue by pairing up some of the characters: for example, in ComicBook/TheAuthority, Midnighter and Apollo, and Jack and The Engineer usually work together as well as being romantically linked while Shen and The Doctor alternate between teams/partners or work alone. Oh, and Jenny (both versions) does whatever the hell she likes.
* The ''ComicBook/XMen'' uses rotating arcs ''constantly'' -- with such an enormous cast, and people [[PutOnABus leaving]], [[KilledOffForReal dying]] and [[BackFromTheDead resurrecting themselves]] all the time, it's the only way Professor X and Co. can be kept in check... and the only way that readers can keep up with everyone. Even then, the X-Men shuffle teams pretty regularly, just to keep things confusing.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Currently, the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'' is doing this with the [[BadFuture Dark World]] and [[{{Prequel}} Shining]] [[ADayInTheLimelight Armor]] arcs.
* [[FanFic/RainboomsAndRoyalty The Dashverse]] story ''Hot Heads, Cold Hearts, and Nerves of Steel'' is currently alternating between the Mane Six (and Shining Armor and Cadence) heading towards the Crystal Empire to save the kidnapped foals Sombra, and the trio of Dinky, Alula, and Pipsqueak (later aided by Zecora) having escaped from the kidnapped group and wandering the caverns underneath the Empire.
* In ''FanFic/{{Fractured}}'', a ''MassEffect''[=/=]''StarWars''[[spoiler:[=/=]''[=Borderlands=]'']] [[MassiveMultiplayerCrossover crossover]] and its sequel ''[[FanFic/SovereignGFCOrigins Origins]]'' this happens due to LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters operating within a [[CasualInterstellarTravel huge multi-galaxy world]], making the chapters somewhat episodic in nature (say, a Shepard focus in one but a Brick/Jack focus in another) but still [[ArcWelding linked together]]. Or even [[WallOfText within chapters]]. There is almost never only one PlotThread active at a time--it's typically anywhere from TwoLinesNoWaiting to FourLinesAllWaiting.

* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' was like this: Jake, Rachel, Tobias/Ax, Cassie, Marco - with Tobias and Ax switching off, every ''ten'' books. (Later, all six would take equal turns.)
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' does this. Each book's main group is traditionally either Ridcully and/or the Wizards, the Witches/Tiffany Aching, Death/Susan, the Night Watch, Moist Von Lipwig, or a stand-alone book who's characters aren't visited again outside of cameos.
* ''Literature/EarthsChildren'': ''The Valley of Horses'' rotates between Ayla and her pets and Jondolar and his brother.
* To a lesser extent, ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', particularly ''The Return of the King'' -- the cast herds are Frodo-Sam-Gollum, Aragorn-Éomer-Imrahil, and arguably two or three crystallize around Éowyn and Faramir. They all occur simultaneously but in multi-chapter segments.
* The ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' consists of ten largely self-contained books; while Rotating Arcs is utilized in almost every one of them, the trope mostly applies to the structure of the series. Each book is part of one or more of three overall arcs, and as the series progresses, the arcs start to intermingle and eventually converge toward each other.
* The ''Literature/{{Redwall}}'' books are organized like this generally. There's usually 1-3 groups off on the adventure and 1-2 groups dealing with some issue that arises back home while they are gone. At least one Villain group (depending on the number of lead villains) is usually present as well, but they also tend to get less personal attention beyond their actions relevant to the adventurers.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', the fourth book, ''Literature/AFeastForCrows'' grew so large that the book was split into two volumes, the second (and fifth in the series) being titled ''Literature/ADanceWithDragons''. The two books take place simultaneously, with each focusing on characters according to their rough geographical position. Two thirds of the way through the latter book the timelines catch up with each other, although the focus remains on the current cast throughout for the most part.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheBill'': Not only do we have [[CastHerd CID, Uniform and The Brass]], but several sets of external characters. These can be left hanging for months before being rotated back in, putting a strain on viewer engagement.
* This is a staple of the ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'' franchise, and is especially prevalent in the main show and ''Criminal Intent''. Depending on actor availability or shooting needs, any given season can flip back and forth between two separate sets of detectives investigating cases at different times, or overlapping casts during a crossover event.
* In the last two seasons of ''Series/TheWestWing'', the plot went back and forth between the White House and the campaign trail, but most of the StoryArc revolved around the upcoming election. Since the candidates had to comment and respond to the crises the President dealt with and the campaigners were still in touch with the characters remaining in the White House, there was a degree of overlap. It also fits the real political problem of a lame duck politician that is leaving office and therefore not as relevant as before.
* ''Series/{{Gotham}}'' has been doing this quite a bit with its nascent RoguesGallery villains, with characters like Jerome, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Victor Fries, and the Pyg rotating in for portions of a half-season and then rotating out when they're captured and/or elude arrest. Typically their arcs intersect with Jim Gordon's in the foreground, while secondary protagonists Penguin and young Bruce Wayne take turns dominating the B-plots.

* Due to its take on CanonWelding, ''Roleplay/MahouMUSH'' tends to cycle its various themes in and out of the spotlight. Themes tend to generate their own StoryArcs and play them out concurrently, occasionally intersecting to greater or lesser degrees, but arc finales often as not draw in characters from across all themes due to usually escalating to a city- or world-threatening scale. When that happens, the relevant theme's core cast take primary focus for the duration of the finale, then step back out of the spotlight when the storyline is completed. [[Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica Walpurgisnacht]] and [[Franchise/SailorMoon D-Point]] are specific examples.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* This is how certain arcs are handled through events in ''VideoGame/GranblueFantasy'', with each event showing part of what a Cast Herd is currently up to. This is most often seen with events focusing on the Society and the Dragon Knights.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* The ''Franchise/WhenTheyCry'' series focuses on one or a couple of characters in each episode which is helped by the GroundHogDayLoop formula. For example [[VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry Keiichi in Onikakushi-hen]] and [[VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry Rosa in Turn of the Golden Witch.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/FriendlyHostility'' characters can be grouped roughly into "Fox's friends" and "Collin's friends", and tend to appear as such, one group at a time. There's quite a bit of overlap though, and this is one particular comic that likes to see what happens when the separate cast herds meet.
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' switches to this form and back, as much as possible with one main team in two schools. More distinctive in "Night Out" (Martial Arts Crew, Elliot's Crew, Ellen's Crew) and recent arcs (the first half of Hidden Genesis: MIB; second half, and the second half of "Sister II": Nanase, Ellen, Grace; "Hammerchlorians": Susan, Sarah, Grace) where out-of-limelight cast is mostly absent. In others the different subsets of both main and support characters get a spotlight, but the rest still maintains at least token presence.
** The "Summer" collection of mini-arcs did this to a formula: Tedd and Sarah (Power Fantasy), then Susan and Elliot (Rock Falls Nobody is Hired), Justin and Grace (Nepotism), Tedd and Sarah again, with some appearances by Nanase (Hair), Susan and Elliot again (By the Numbers), Justin and Grace again (Duel of the Disks) and finally back to Tedd (There be Whales Here). Nanase and Ellen had been given background mystery-solving adventures due to previous claims of SpotlightStealingSquad.
* ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' uses Rotating Arcs, even though the cast isn't particularly large. Characters and plot threads come and go from chapter to chapter; Antimony is the only constant, and even she gets demoted to the role of spectator in a few chapters.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' starts out moving between its separate protagonists, and gets even more and larger groups as time goes on.
* ''Webcomic/TheMeek'' makes full use of this, seeing as it has three different protagonists in different parts of the world, which each chapter focusing on a new character dealing with the story. The first arc deals with Angora, a green-haired, {{Green Thumb}}ed InnocentFanserviceGirl who is to decide the fate of the world (and is arguably the "main" character). The Second follows Luca, the emperor of Dia' most powerful country, and the third follows a bounty hunter named Soli. The fourth chapter returns us to Angora.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' uses this to an extent, with a minimum of a dozen strips at a time focusing on the Order itself or one of their enemy groups. However, this trope is most apparent during the ''Don't Split the Party'' arc, where (as the name implies) the Order is split, following the conclusion of the previous arc -- there's Roy hanging out in [[spoiler: the afterlife]]; Haley and Belkar leading LaResistance in Azure City, before leaving with Celia to [[spoiler: try and resurrect Roy]]; Durkon, Vaarsuvius, and Elan in the refugee fleet dealing with [[AristocratsAreEvil Daimyo Kubota's]] scheming; and on top of that, there's Team Evil solidifying their hold on Azure City.
* The webcomic ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' does this in the "Massively Parallel" StoryArc. The mercenaries of Tagon's Toughs split into four teams while their wrecked ship was in drydock. The first arc covered Elf Foxworthy's struggle to get the ship fixed, while the megalomaniacal Fleetmind pursued its own suspicious goals behind the scenes. The second arc has Schlock and his team sent on a mission that is going toxic. Pieces from the first arc keep getting shown from the other side of the comm system. The third arc has Kevyn and Pi setting up a system of explosives and teraports for an emergency escape system (the requested work, if not what was actually planned). The fourth arc followed Tagon, the Doc, and the remaining Toughs as they worked a gig as Mallcops in a low-gravity orbital shopping center. All four segments come together at the end as they scramble to reassemble and take on an emergency job with a couple personal twists.
** At the end of Tagon's Mallcop Command arc it's pointed out that the story wrapped up a few weeks earlier than the others and the rest of the time was spent enjoying themselves at the mall while working the cushy security gig without incident. This trope is lampshaded as the narrator points out how unrealistic it would be to have all four storylines wrap up at exactly the same time, exactly when the next arc would be starting.
*** In fact, Schlock's team's arc wasn't quite wrapped up yet (the rest of his team were in jail, having been framed for some shady dealings) and as a result they get left behind for the beginning of the next arc.
* ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' does this a lot. Bun-Bun got his own story arcs and cast of supporting characters in "Holiday Wars" and "Oceans Unmoving". Same goes for Oasis in "Phoenix Rising". Torg has had a number of these, from the "Torg Potter" stories where he's magically transported to a corner of the Sluggy universe populated by Harry Potter parodies, to the "Aylee" arc where he and Aylee were trapped for months in AnotherDimension, to the massive "That Which Redeems" arc where he was in ''Another'' AnotherDimension for months without any of the other cast members (although he did have their AlternateUniverse versions). The other main characters have all gotten smaller versions of these, usually in shorter arcs with a little more interaction from the other cast members.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'' '''has''' to operate this way, since the main characters are written by different authors. The most obvious example was the 2006 Christmas break, which technically still hasn't finished since some authors are writing new stories for it. Phase had a separate novel where she went home and ran into a serial killer [[spoiler:who was really an unkillable demon from a hell dimension]]. Tennyo had a Christmas adventure with Jinn Sinclair [[spoiler: who was embedded in her stuffed cabbit]], while Jade Sinclair went home with Fey for another holiday [[spoiler: and she was stabbed to death, but she got better]]. And so on. So far, there are seven such stories, two of which haven't finished. And WordOfGod says there will probably be a couple more.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' has an anthology-style format, in which the show's multiple long-running {{Story Arc}}s switch in and out of focus. As such, it is an excellent example of this trope.
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' has the episode Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island, where the cast of 22 contestants look for a briefcase containing $1,000,000. Several sets of characters team up to look for the briefcase, and it cuts between them.