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Second Episode Introduction

"Oh, please. If there were new guys, they'd have shown up in the season premiere."
Denny Crane, Boston Legal

The series Pilot has to do a lot of things. It has to establish the main character, set up the central conflict, and convince the network execs to okay the series. Usually, you can introduce all of the main characters in this process.

Occasionally, though, a secondary character can't quite get shoehorned into the introductory story and just doesn't exist in the pilot. Alternately, sometimes the networks execs approve the show, but decide that it needs a few extra characters, so the creators introduce these characters in the next episode. Sometimes, cast members show up for a Pilot Movie but don't agree to come back for the series.

Any of these qualify as the Second Episode Introduction. The key characteristic is that whoever is being introduced must show no signs of existence in the pilot, and must be a regular cast member from that point onwards.

A character who is introduced in the second episode as a replacement for a very similar character who appears only in the pilot is a Second Episode Substitute. For when a series introduces multiple regular characters over its first few episodes, see Debut Queue. For when a character is introduced in sequel movie or a after season one it's Iconic Sequel Character.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The first episode of Pokémon had Ash, Pikachu, and Misty but Team Rocket didn't show up until the second.
  • In Hamtaro, Dexter, Howdy, Pashmina and Penelope are introduced in the second episode, while Cappy, Panda, Maxwell and Sandy show up in the third.
  • In Le Chevalier d'Eon, two of the main characters don't appear until the second episode.
  • L in the Death Note anime, as the first episode ends with Light first deciding to become Kira.
  • All but one of the main protagonists in Ga Rei Zero are introduced in the second episode. The first episode is filled with decoy protagonists.
  • Asuna in the anime of Sword Art Online.
  • In Ichigo Mashimaro, Ana's second volume introduction becomes this in the anime adaptation, thus adding her to a couple of stories she wasn't originally in: the first one with the kitty hat, and the Beach Episode.
  • Kimi To Boku: Misaki and Chizuru are introduced in the second and third episode, respectively.
  • Because Shiryaku Ika Musume's episodes are divided into three mini-episodes, who qualifies for this depends on how you look at it. The spirit may be exemplified by Takeru, the younger brother of the Aizawa sisters, introduced in "Aren't We Brothers-in-Arms?", the second part of the first episode. Characters introduced in the literal second episode: Goro the Life Saver, in "Aren't We Squids of a Feather?" and Sanae, in "Want to Swim Out and Play?"
  • Pepper and Salt were introduced in the second episode of A Little Snow Fairy Sugar, showing us that there are other apprentice season fairies.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, The first episode introduces Tenchi, his grandfather and Ryoko. Ayeka and Sasame don't get introduced until the second episode. Either subverted or taken up to 11 depending on your viewpoint, when Mihoshi is introduced in episode 4 and Washu fills out Tenchi's harem in episode 6.
  • THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls focuses on two characters in the first episode, out of a main cast of fourteen. The rest of them are properly introduced in the following episode.

Comics
  • April O'Neil did not appear until the second issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Spider-Man J. Jonah Jameson somewhat of an example: Although his first appearance is in the first issue of "Amazing Spider-Man," this is actually the second ever Spider-Man story due to the first being in Amazing Fantasy.

Film
  • Neither Yoda nor the Emperor appear in the original Star Wars (although the latter is mentioned in the opening briefing regarding the Death Star), making their first appearances in The Empire Strikes Back.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Scifi series The Invisible Man, the Keeper shows up in the second episode. This seems to be the second type, because it would have been easy to work her character into the pilot.
  • Matt Parkman in Heroes, who in a variation was originally intended to be in the pilot, but whose introduction was delayed until the second episode instead.
  • "The Corbomite Maneuver", the first non-pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, introduces Uhura, Yeoman Rand, and Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (as a Second Episode Substitute for Dr. Mark Piper); it is not, however, the second episode aired, as the pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was held back until later in the first season.
  • JJ of Criminal Minds, who is later shown to be an integral part of the team, isn't present or even mentioned in the first episode.
  • Godber and all other prisoners except Fletcher himself do not appear in the pilot of Porridge.
  • Dylan McKay is conspicuous by his absence in the pilot for Beverly Hills, 90210 (yes, the title had a comma in the pilot's opening credits), showing up from episode 2.
  • Claudia doesn't show up in person until the fourth episode of Warehouse 13.
  • Clyde Langer did not appear until the second episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, replacing Kelsey in an inversion of Affirmative Action Girl.
  • Charlie wasn't introduced on The West Wing until the third episode, but he was made a series regular immediately and held the honor for the rest of the run.
  • Betty Draper appears for maybe two minutes in the pilot of Mad Men—series creator Matt Weiner actually had to write extra scenes for the audition process, which were later incorporated into an episode. Naturally, Betty became a major character from the second episode onward.
  • Eli Stone didn't introduce Maggie, a main love interest and Eli's partner, until the second episode.
  • Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill, who quickly became an Ensemble Darkhorse and one of the show's leads.
  • On Community, Seńor Chang does not appear until the second episode.
  • Rather than a character, Power Rangers often holds off on debuting either the Megazord or even the Transformation Sequence until the second episode of a two-part premiere. Sometimes they do both in a two-stage version: air both parts of the premiere on the same day with the first transformation happening in the second half, then bring out the mecha in next week's episode.
    • The first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers averted this in its adaptation of Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger: in the original series it took several episodes for Daizyuzin (the Megazord) to be introduced, but it was an integral part of the Rangers' arsenal in MMPR, so a later mecha fight was moved up to the first episode.
    • In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, we don't meet monster-maker Jinxer until episode two (which is interesting - he wasn't there when the villains were unsealed, so was he on Earth all along?)
    • In Power Rangers Time Force we don't meet Red Ranger and main character Wes until the second episode, the first episode does however feature his look-alike descendant (played by the same actor) however.
  • New Girl's Winston was introduced in the second episode, replacing the suddenly-absent roommate Coach.
  • On Drop the Dead Donkey, Sally Smedley first appears in the second episode. Justified as a personnel decision by the new CEO.
  • Doctor Who introduced iconic supervillains the Daleks in the second story. However, this is an inverted trope, as this was much earlier than the staff had originally intended to introduce the alien villains.
  • District Attorney Adam Schiff (Steven Hill) of Law & Order is notable in that he appeared in EVERY EPISODE of the first 10 seasons EXCEPT for the first one, which was produced before Hill had joined the cast. Since the episode was shown out of sequence, the audience saw five episodes with Hill, one with Roy Thinnes (and a completely different opening montage) and then back to Hill the next week.
  • Chad Dylan Cooper doesn't appear until the second episode of Sonny With A Chance.
  • Sloan Sabbith isn't introduced until the second episode of The Newsroom.
  • The Walking Dead did this with Andrea, T-Dog, Merle, Jacqui and Glenn, though the last one's voice was heard in the final scene of the pilot episode via radio.
    • Hershel, Maggie, Beth, Otis, Patricia and Jimmy were introduced in the second episode of the second season.
  • In Glee we don't meet Brittany until the 2nd episode of the series. Seeing Quinn and Santana without Brittany is...odd to say the least
  • We don't see Matthew Crawley until the very last minute of the first episode of Downton Abbey. He goes on to be a very central character indeed.
  • Don Flack wasn't in the Poorly Disguised Pilot of CSI NY that aired on CSI: Miami. His character was created after the pilot and first appeared in NY's first ep of its own, 'Blink'.
  • Detective Marcus Bell isn't in the pilot of Elementary, but he's appeared in every episode since.
  • Spartacus doesn't have its main character arrive at the ludus until the second episode, so all of the major characters there, including Doctore Oenomaus, Naevia, Ashur, Varro, Gnaeus and Pietros, are all introduced in the second episode.
  • Breaking Bad's fifth season introduces two major new characters, Lydia and Todd, in the second and third episodes respectively.
  • In ABC's short-lived Mind Games, Samantha Gordon was not introduced until the second episode.

Radio

Web Original
  • Lifepoint One Entertainment introduces the title character of Xin at the end of the third episode after setting the stage and setting up the conflict between Andre and Ghai, the two major bad guys of the series.
  • The only main characters in the Homestar Runner universe who appeared in the original story "The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest" were Homestar Runner, Strong Bad, Pom Pom, and The Cheat. Bubs and Coach Z were introduced in the second story, "Where My Hat Is At?", and other characters came later.
  • Early episodes of Noob were less than five minutes long, hence it took three of them to introduce all four main characters (plus a Chekhov's Gunman or two).

Western Animation
  • Futurama introduces the supporting Planet Express crew — Hermes, Amy and Zoidberg — in the second episode. The exception is Scruffy (the Janitor) who didn't appear until the sixth episode and was largely a background character until later on.
  • Commander Zhao, one of the main antagonists of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, who is first seen after the two-part intro episode. In the same episode we are introduced to Zhao, we are first shown the ruins of the genocide of the Air Nomads.
  • Gus and Miss Grotke are introduced in Recess not in the second episode, but part B of the first episode. For the former, it was his Welcome Episode. For the latter, it was more "She wasn't in the first part, so here she is".
  • Dr. Van Goosewing first properly shows up in the second episode of Count Duckula, "Vampire Vacation." He technically appeared in the first episode though, due to the Out of Order pilot episode.
  • Young Justice properly introduces Superboy to the team in the second episode in their two-part pilot. Miss Martian's first official episode as a team member is the beginning of the third episode.
  • The second episode of The Legend of Korra introduced both Bolin and Mako.