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Spotlight-Stealing Squad
"This film shouldn't be called American Pie: The Wedding
About Jim and Michelle, it's rarely treading
A better title — I'll have a go:

The Motherfucking Stiffler Show"
MikeJ on American Wedding

Most works have a main character or a set of main characters who are supposed to be the main focus of the story. But sometimes this doesn't work. An actor might give such a set of performances that he or she will dominate whatever scene they're in; the creator might have such a connection, conscious or unconscious, with a character or group that that he or she forgets that they have an incredibly diverse and powerful cast; or the characters that supposedly should have the focus might just be uninteresting.

If left unchecked, this may lead fans to complain about how They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, let the less fantastic characters fall behind, never did anything with Hufflepuff House, and Jossed everyone's ships.

Most commonly happens to the Ensemble Dark Horse if lucky and the Creator's Pet if not.

This trope can, in fact, overlap with the Creator's Pet or the Replacement Scrappy. The main difference is that the SSS is not necessarily hated (at least, not at first), in fact, they may be or become one of the most popular characters. Compare Wolverine Publicity, and contrast Out of Focus. If the fanbase agrees (or the marketing team does, at any rate), may lead to a Spotlight-Stealing Title. May become a Breakout Character if they are adored by the audience. See also Adored by the Network, for spotlight-stealing shows, or Poorly Disguised Pilot if the squad consists of new characters that are never seen again.

In Fan Fiction circles, Mary Sues are usually deliberately created as this.

A friendly reminder that Tropes Are Not Bad - there are times where the viewers actually like the spotlight hog. Finally, remember, neither the protagonist nor the deuteragonist can be part of the spotlight stealing squad. The story is about them, after all.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • Chris Thorndyke in Sonic X, the human Tagalong Kid, is generally accused of this, as he got the most screen time, even moreso than the title character, Sonic the Hedgehog. The reason for this was that he was meant to be the character the audience would identify with.
    • Cosmo in the third season. Her unresolved sexual tension with Tails takes up the majority of screen time when Sonic's not duking it out, or when Chris decides to butt in. The series finale was more about Tails and Cosmo's UST than Sonic defeating Metarex.
    • Dr Eggman and his goons, who already had a lot of comic relief spotlight in the anime, were practically upgraded to a borderline Villain Protagonist role in the comic book adaptation. Inverted in other cases, since Cosmo was absent and Chris' role was downplayed, with Sonic allowed more focus.
  • In Sherlock Hound, Professor Moriarty gets a hell of a lot more screen time than the title character. His inclusion in every episode except the first means that other villains from classic Sherlock Holmes stories (such as the villain of The Speckled Band), never see the light of day in the episode based on their story. Possibly, Kyosuke Mikuriya took a lot of influence from his predecessor Hayao Miyazaki's work on Lupin III (especially the Zenigata-esque Lestrade) and so tried to make Moriarty the Villain Protagonist.
  • Shikamaru in Naruto has this treatment for the Hidan arc, which he is basically the main character of for a significant portion. Of all Naruto's other classmates, he is the only one that has received honest, in-depth character development and frequent appearances after the timeskip, to the point that he is practically a main character now. It has also been also lampshaded at one omake of the anime, with some characters mentioning that the series should have been renamed "Shikamaru" during said arc.
    • Not just Shikamaru, but pretty much Team 10 as a whole gets more spotlight in the manga then any of the Konoha side-characters in Naruto: Shippuden. Including being given the spotlight in the Hidan and Kakuzu arc, the 4th Shinobi War also shows this with the Team 10 reunion which even gave Choji of all people some rarely seen Character Development. No other of the Konoha 11, so far has gotten this kind of treatment in the war.
    • The Uchiha clan were supposed to all be dead except for two members, Sasuke and Itachi. Then we find out there's another, then we find out that he was claiming to be another, and then we find out that almost every arc villain, and the vast majority of the plot, were because of the machinations of certain Uchiha who just couldn't handle things not going their way. This trope used to be named after the Uchiha clan. Let that sink in for a moment.
    • It gets worse. Black Zetsu, the villain responsible for everything that happened in the series, chose the Uchiha to be the "main cast" for his "Story of Shinobi". In short, the Uchiha became the center of everything. Consideration should be given for re-naming the trope again.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: after Season 1 almost every duel Judai wins is due to Neos, the Neo-Spacians, or some fusion of them, and his standard Elemental HERO cards end up mostly cannon fodder until he draws Neos.
    • Season 3 of GX also introduces a bunch of new characters of which one, namely Johan, instantly turns into Judai's best friend. The whole season is basically about them first having to save Duel Academy (along with the other exchange students), then one pulls a Heroic Sacrifice, the other has to save him, goes bonkers and so on. And that all happens with Judai's original friends being treated as background characters or ending up as Sacrificial Lambs.
    • The original Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters anime gave The Rival Seto Kaiba even more prominence than he had in the manga, in which he was already an Ensemble Dark Horse. He got a filler arc dedicated to him and his family history, a major role in the DOMA filler arc plus another smaller filler arc where the villain had beef with him, and got to take part in the anime's version of the Memory World arc and play a key role in saving the day by attacking Zorc when he is about to kill Yugi and the others.
    • The first Yu-Gi-Oh! anime did the same. Kaiba originally appeared in two manga plotlines during the period the anime covers, but his massive role in later chapters led to them throwing him into a ton of filler episodes, including the "Game Master" story arc, which has more episodes devoted to it than any other arc. Oddly enough, they also mostly wrote Mokuba out of the series.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has Crow, who has had multiple duels contrived to showcase his Blackwing deck. One of these duels had him pull off a First Turn Kill in his very first episode.
    • Bruno, who, after an appearance of only ten minutes, draws the main characters attention from all his other friends to himself.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL at times didn't quite seem to know who or what they wanted to focus on character-wise. But in the last two arcs, the Archlight brothers, a Quirky Miniboss Squad of one of the second arc's villains, manages to make a comeback as allies, squeezing out 5 Duels between the three of them (most of them Tag Duels), which is a lot considering it happens right when the show was nearing its end. Meanwhile, Yuma's other friends and allies accumulated throughout the series, other than Shark and Kite, are either treated as barely focused cannon fodder or made to Opt Out when the going got real toughnote . A far cry from the earlier series where the True Companions would stick with The Hero to the very end.
  • The Galaxy Angel manga based on the video game series spends a disproportionate amount of time and focus on Milfeulle and Chitose. Ranpha got a bit of spotlight early on, but otherwise...
  • In MÄR, Dorothy can be like this. The anime only though. The anime adds many scenes with her that blatantly were not in the manga, even outside of filler arcs. And she tends to have a rather large role INSIDE of filler arcs as well. Her air-thin affections for Ginta are also played more seriously in the anime, to the point where Ginta actually feels the need to resolve things with her (i.e. reject her) before he goes back to Earth to be with Koyuki/Snow. Where as in the manga, her affections were little more than a running gag. Combine this with her ridiculous Invincible Hero syndrome (She pretty much never loses, ever) and being the in-your-face-constantly Ms. Fanservice, and she crosses into downright Creator's Pet territory. It's pretty obvious the animators or screenwriters or WHOEVER was in charge of the anime adaptation had a thing for her.
  • Digimon franchise:
  • Bleach: The films are an example of this as they focus excessively on the Gotei 13 characters to the exclusion of other characters, even the rest of the human True Companions. In the manga, Tite Kubo has so many characters to rotate through that it can sometimes seem like this trope is in effect when really it's a case of Loads and Loads of Characters needing to go through periods of being Out of Focus so that everything and everyone can be covered. This results in the main cast having very limited exposure because most of the characters are shinigami or related to the shinigami.
  • Slayers: Normally, when the plot thickens, Red Headed Heroine Lina gets the most focus, shifting away from Gourry, Zelgadis, and Amelia. However, when the third anime season rolled around (Slayers Try), Filia becomes the Guest Star Party Member, and because the plot revolves around the dragon race (which she and the Big Bad of the season are a part of), the four main characters are not given as much focus. The fifth episode is about Filia ranting and being subjugated to a trial, along with antics from Xellos — given that she serves the gods and he serves the demons of that world, the sexual tension between them is the main Running Gag.
  • The Alternate Universe series, Tenchi Universe, is known for its emphasis on Ryoko, as evidenced in the opening credits, which starts with a silhouette of her and ends with a zoom-in on her face.
    • This is emphasized even further in the 1999 Tenchi Muyo! movie, Tenchi Forever!, whose ending implies that Tenchi is attracted to Ryoko, and the Tenchi/Ryoko pairing is in the cards, which amazingly makes this a Tenchi timeline that doesn't utilize the Tenchi Solution.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: Those on one side of the Broken Base call Kira Yamato (protagonist of the previous series, Gundam SEED) this after his return two thirds of the way through the show, and the subsequent evolution of Shinn Asuka into an Anti-Villain.
  • Pokémon
    • Ash's Pikachu is the Series Mascot so it gets a lot of screen time and takes part in most of his battles. Also, a Pikachu would usually appear in a starring role in most early manga, and appeared in all three Super Smash Bros. games. However, apart from the main anime series, Pikachu's role seems to have been downplayed in Gen VI across most media.
    • Charizard in 2013 onwards presents a similar case to Pikachu in the early days, though not quite as extreme due to Pikachu holding on to its position as the franchise mascot. Although Ash's Charizard largely got the shaft when it returned to the main anime series, Charizard stars in Pokémon Origins, the "Strongest Mega Evolution" specialnote , the "Legend of the Dragon King" manga (and served as the mascot of the associated real-life tournament), and likely others to come. And in the games, it got two Mega Evolutions while its fellow Kanto starters only got one.
    • Oshawott is played with: It tries to be this trope, but several times he shunted by Pikachu to the point of being a Running Gag.
    • Ash's Infernape. Ever since Ash acquired him he's been receiving more attention than the rest of Ash's team, and he dominated Ash's battles with the latter four Sinnoh Gym Leaders. This makes sense for Byron and Candice, as Infernape (or Chimchar, at the time) is x4 effective against Steel and Ice respectively. Against Fantina's Ghosts however...not so much.
  • At certain points, Guyver becomes "Aptom featuring those Guyver people". In particular, he is the one that takes out the Hyper-Zoanoid Five (except for Zxtole), considering that they were amongst the few enemies that could actually give Sho a good fight.
  • As a result of being Merchandise-Driven, Transformers suffers from this quite a bit. Whenever new toys are released, their characters are going to push older characters into the background. In particular, the end of series 2 of The Original Series featured very few characters who weren't Combiners, and after The Movie, the Combiners themselves were relegated to playing second fiddle to Rodimus' Five-Man Band and the reformatted Decepticons. Later on, they themselves were driven out to allow the Headmasters to take center stage; unfortunately, all the other characters became mush less competent soon after the Headmasters were introduced. Transformers Super God Masterforce took a step away from this, introducing the Pretenders, but even that wasn't safe as for part-way through the focus shifted from the Pretenders to the Godmasters, Ginrai, pilot of Optimus Prime's would-be new body taking the spotlight for obvious reasons, developing into Gary Stu status, saving the day at the last minute.
  • Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was something of a spoof of this — from the start he was given a lion's share of the attention, culminating in a scene designed to punch you in the gut...
  • Sakaki gets a disproportionate amount of focus in Azumanga Daioh compared to the other characters, but that's probably because her Shrinking Violet-ness means she's either the focus or gets ignored.
  • In Berserk, Big Bad Bishōnen Griffith and co. have taken up about two volumes worth of material. About two volumes come out yearly.
  • The Japanese All-Star Team in Eyeshield 21 includes other players besides Gaou and Agon, but they get less focus in some later chapters.
  • The anime Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo parodies this, with the character Don Patch trying to constantly steal the spotlight from the others. Less often in the manga.
  • Nagisa Misumi from Futari wa Pretty Cure. The series is supposed to be about both her and Honoka, but most episodes focus strongly on her.
    • And the same goes for Saki from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash☆Star, being an expy of Nagisa even on this.
    • Suite Pretty Cure ♪ has the same Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic between its leads, and again, the tomboy steals the spotlight.
    • As a break from tradition, this is averted in HeartCatch Pretty Cure!. This may be related to a different dynamic between the leads.
    • Mana from Doki Doki Pretty Cure gets a disproportionate amount of focus within the story compared to other Pretty Cure leaders. Apparently, the staff had more of an emotional attachment to her than any of the other characters, which does a fair bit to explain this.
      • Then, there is the Christmas Episode where Mana loses some of her spotlight, yet the whole episode is heavily focused on her, even if she doesn't appear on-screen.
    • Let's not forget that whenever new Precures come out, the original Precures go more further and further back. As one person on Anime News Network says, "someday we might not be able to see them anymore".
  • At the time Sasaki Kojiro's first story arc was finished it compromised more than 1/3rd of the entirety of Vagabond releases.
  • After Sizer's early Heel-Face Turn in the Violinist of Hameln manga, Michiaki Watanabe spends an increasingly inordinate amount of time reminding us of her tragic backstory, her bloody past and her goal of eventually atoning for her sins. Soon, there is at least one chapter per volume containing yet another flashback to Sizer's past, and she ends up at the center of the entire story arc of volumes 19-28. Who was that "violinist" guy we were supposed to be paying attention to, again?
  • Certainly Sailor Moon, especially the anime, succumbs to this. The 4th season of the anime often had episodes where the Inner Senshi never even showed up, and the season focuses a lot on Chibi Usa.
    • The Starlights in Season 5 sometimes get more attention than the Inner Senshi themselves. Naoko Takeuchi, creator of the original Sailor Moon manga, was even notably baffled that the Starlights, who were minor characters in the manga, were being made such a focus in the anime.
  • Shaoran Li of Cardcaptor Sakura, his infatuation with Sakura and slightly more prominent development as her teammate took a fair amount of the final arc, since the conclusion of the series mostly revolves around Sakura resolving her romantic feelings for him. The anime upgraded his role even earlier by granting him own mini-cast, including his cousin (and fangirl) Meiling, as well as a few episodes more devoted to himself than the title character.
  • According to Kanako, Mariya and Matsurika are this on the second season of Maria†Holic. Not really true though, in fact, Kanako herself is a bit of this, at least compared to the first season, and same for the Dorm Leader (While Mariya and Matsurika got comparatively LESS screentime.)
  • In the Aoi Hana manga, Kyouko's troubles with her fiancé Kou suddenly get full attention, right in the middle of a very important relationship story arc concerning the main characters, Akira and Fumi.
  • Subaru in Mayo Chiki!. Sure, she's the winning girl on a Supporting Harem, so her having more screentime than the other girls is more or less expected and understandable. Having her get more screentime than all the other girls put together, said other girls all loving her and making most of their screentime and motivations revolve about Subaru is not.
  • Fairy Tail: Jellal has pretty much been in every major arc in the series, which is something not even some members of the Five-Man Band can claim. As his backstory is heavily tied to Erza's, he seems to always appear when she's in distress.
    • In the Grand Magic Games arc, as Jellal (disguised as Mystogan) participates in the games in the Fairy Tail B team, though this doesn't last long before he's back to largely doing his own thing again.
    • Lisanna in the first anime adaptation, by way of being a Creator's Pet for the animators. The first season or so, any scene she has even a passing mention in will move into a long flashback about her. It's worth noting that, outside of a side story chapter, she had all of maybe three panels in the actual manga. Thankfully, this stopped at around the Edolas arc, probably because after this she turns out to not be dead after all and joins the main cast.
    • Side-character Cana becomes this during the Tenrou Island arc where she is literally promoted to main-character status alongside anyone who people consider to be part of Team Natsu. The monster Character Development she receives in this arc after being in the guild as nothing but side fodder for so long took A LOT of people by surprise.
  • Medaka Box: Kumagawa Misogi has been consistently tied to the plot since his debut, and at some points even overshadows Medaka and Zenkichi.
  • Slight case in Vento Aureo, the fifth part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Despite being this part's Jojo (well, Giogio), Giorno seems to be less primary protagonist than deuteragonist in the story in general, compared to the intended deuteragonist, Bruno Buccellatti.
  • Mai-HiME: In comparison to the original anime, the manga focuses more on Yuuichi Tate and his misadventures at school than those of the girls fighting to save it.
  • Nagato in Haruhi Suzumiya gets a lot of attention, even though Haruhi and Kyon are supposedly the main characters. Haruhi tends to stay in the background due to being Locked Out of the Loop, and Kyon is often only relevant because he's the narrator. Nagato, on the other hand, was the center of the anime-infamous Endless Eight arc and the regular-famous Disappearance movie/book that followed it. She's also the focus of the lengthy two-part tenth novel, and a lot of earlier stories. She even has an entire Spin-Off series, The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Berri takes over the spotlight in a La Mode as Ichigo joins the other Mew Mews in being background characters.
  • Levi from Attack on Titan has become this, especially within the anime. Merchandise would suggest he's the deuteragonist and one third of the Power Trio — he's actually a supporting character, though an insanely popular one. His role in the anime was expanded, with bonus seasons and replacing other characters in some scenes. He's also gotten his own Spin-Off and been featured prominently in the latest story arc while the main cast have gotten considerably less screen time.
    • After The Reveal that she's royalty, and even several chapters before that, Historia/Christa from Attack on Titan has robbed focus from practically every story point in the manga.
  • Kagerou Days: Shintaro is intended to be the (Loser) Protagonist with a digitized-troll side-kick, and indeed, whether or not he is a Hikikomori is implied to be the pivotal point of the time-loops, if Lost Time Memory is to be believed, but his little sister Momo very frequently steals the focus away from him, Ene, and the rest of the Mekakushi Dan, despite having relatively little story relevance (especially compared to Shintaro, Ayano, Konoha and Marry). It's gotten to the point that she gets almost sole focus for two episodes of the Twelve Episode Anime. The fact that she's Jin's favourite character doesn't help matters. Then again, Fridge Brilliance strikes when you realise that her Eye Power is literally to draw attention to herself. And she hasn't yet got it under control.

     Comic Books  
  • Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man is a classic example, even described in terms of this trope by her co-creator Stan Lee:
    "We just tossed M.J. into the series to liven things up, as competition for Gwen. However, Gorgeous Gwen was the star, the one we structured our stories around so that Peter could end up marrying her.
    But we couldn't make it work! [...]
    It was like something out of "The Twilight Zone". These were fictional characters, or so we had always thought. I had created them. I could mold them in any manner I desired. I could make them do whatever I wanted. Or could I?
    M.J. seized the dominant female role in our strip, just as powerfully as if she were human. Having once established her character, we couldn't violate what we had already set up. She was colorful and appealing from the start. No matter how I later tried to play her down, make her subordinate to Gwen Stacy, I couldn't do it. M.J. always outshone Gwen. If it were a Broadway show, M.J. would have been the one who always grabbed center stage, and held it."
  • Former Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog head writer Ken Penders has a tendency to shift the focus of the comic from the main Freedom Fighters to Knuckles and the other echidnas on the Floating Island.
    • And on a more consistent basis, there is usually Princess Sally Acorn, leader of the Freedom Fighter and Sonic's best friend and on-off love interest.
  • Jericho of the Teen Titans. Nightwing's introduction is overshadowed by Jericho being introduced at the exact same moment.
  • In the old G.I. Joe comic, a core set of Joes eventually emerged from the literal dozens of team members. While this is to be expected, Snake Eyes takes the cake here. The series was even renamed "GI Joe, STARRING SNAKE EYES" for over an entire year.
  • In X-Men comics, Emma Frost seems to be stealing much attention away from women who have been in the book much longer because they've been removed in different ways. Jean Grey and Storm (whose shoes she both now fills) had a bridge dropped on her and got married off respectively. Shadowcat was Put on a Bus (or trapped in a missile). Rogue was put in a coma. Psylocke was outside the reality with the Exiles. Regardless of the changing status of those characters, Emma is still the most prominent. Smacks of Unfortunate Implications in that Emma is put in the spotlight for sex appeal, as though all those other women somehow aren't sexy enough.
    • Wolverine falls into this to large degrees (often lampshaded in various fan works). This is part of the reason the trope Wolverine Publicity is named after him, since he's given a spotlight even when he's barely there.
    • Various writers developed a new found interest in Cyclops being the leading man of the X-Men in the mid-2000's, with this pretty culminating in him being the primary focus of 2009's big X-Men event, Messiah Complex. Since then, a lot of comics have focused heavily on Cyclops.
  • In 1994, Marvel Comics, as part of their short-lived Disney line, published a comic book based on The Disney Afternoon. Its content proved to be more like Darkwing Duck and a Few Other Disney Afternoon Shows; in the entire ten-issue run of the comic, it only ran three Goof Troop stories, two TaleSpin stories, two Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers stories, and barely anything for DuckTales and Bonkers.
  • Tyler Marlowe has become the Breakout Character of PS238. Initially introduced in issue 3 as a sort of This Loser Is You character - the only unpowered kid in a school for superhuman "metaprodigies" - he has come to dominate the series to the extent that there are more issues with him as the main character than those in which he isn't. Meanwhile, many of the original major characters are hardly even mentioned, and at least one has been shipped off to another school; he hasn't been Put on a Bus, because he still appears occasionally, but he's pretty much deteriorated into a non-stop Wangst source.
    • To fans who started with the "Student Handbook," the entire student population. The first volume seemed like the comic would the story of a group of former super-heroes with shadowed pasts trying to maintain and administrate a school where all the students have superpowers. Then, it turned out to be a series about child superheroes running amok, with occasional lip service to the idea the faculty actually did anything.
  • The title character of Brazilian comic Monica's Gang was introduced with what would become a Running Gag (an irritable girl who hit the protagonist), in short time became the protagonist, and now has her Nominal Importance of being in the title leading to appearing too much, even when it's not required and with some Invincible Hero traits - almost all villains are defeated by Monica pummeling them with superstrength combined with a plush bunny. Good example: in a comic parodying Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Monica was Tia Dalma, and lampshaded her appearances to beat up people with "I know my character is not in this movie".
  • Suzie, a Dumb Blonde Archie Comics heroine of the 1940s and 50s slowly found herself demoted to supporting character in her own book as focus switched to her gangly, clueless boyfriend Ferdie. What made it particularly noticable was that Suzie, formerly defined very much as The Ditz and a Cute Clumsy Girl largely transitioned into a Straight Man for Ferdie's stupidity and clumsiness, except for the odd Character Check.

     Fan Fiction 
  • The easiest way to spot a Mary Sue. Heck, it's practically the definition of Mary Sues.
  • The Supetastic 6 in Super Milestone Wars, so much that they became the main protagonists in the sequel, Super Milestone Wars 2.
  • Tends to happen in any fanfic, as the author will often put their favorite character(s) to the forefront, at times leaving the main character in the background or not even in the story at all.
  • In Bart The General, which, despite the title, appears to be mainly about how Omarn deals with Marge having an affair, Barton dominates the second part of the last episode and the third episode, which is longer than episodes 1, 2 and 4 combined.
  • In Fanfic/heckTheJesusBeam, O.B.A.M.A. takes over the plot from his debut in the third chapter as the Big Bad, despite Lordguckles having been set up as the main antagonist in the second chapter, and proceeds to have two chapters devoted almost exclusively to him (Including the now-deleted "CHAPTER RAGE"). Kaminic gets Brainwashed and hardly does anything until releasing himself from O.B.A.M.A.'s control in "CHAPTER NEO JESUS".
  • Total Drama Comeback lampshades the tendency of Duncan and Owen to approach this in canon, while simultaneously making Ezekiel, Bridgette, and Izzy this within the actual fic.
  • Aziraphale and Crowley are this for the Good Omens fandom. While they are in a substantial portion of the book, they are there mostly to initiate the birth mixup and then provide commentary on whatever the humans are actually out there doing. There are many more characters with more relevancy to the plot (after the birth setup), and there are also many memorable teams of characters — Madame Tracy and Shadwell, Newt and Anathema, the Them, and the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse. Despite this, roughly 95% of Good Omens fanfic will feature Crowley and Aziraphale prominently, with between 80 and 85% of the fics placing them in a romantic relationship. The reasons for this should be fairly obvious.
  • A Hero is supposed to be a Puella Magi Madoka Magica/Doctor Who crossover. Reading it, however, one can't help but notice how prominent the Doctor Who side of the story has become in comparison to the PMMM side. Especially in the case of Dalek Sec, who the author has admitted steals every scene he's in.
  • In Decks Fall Everyone Dies, Tristan is overshadowed by Bakura, Duke, and all three Kaiba brothers, even though he was supposed to be the main character.
  • Torchwood fandom will often do this to Ianto Jones. For example, in stories that take place in the Year That Never Was, Ianto will suddenly show up and defeat the Master often by himself. In canon, Ianto was a genuinely badass character, but so were Jack, Martha and The Doctor.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Three Fairies in Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent (who is also a fairy) are really the main characters. Not only do they get the most (if not all) screentime, but every action that Philip makes is initiated or aided by the fairies. This isn't as much of a bad thing as it's actually a bit different for the fairy tale to be told from the perspective of the fairies. Also, it probably wouldn't have been a good idea to tell the story from the perspective of a character who spends most of it asleep.
  • The Disney adaption of Winnie the Pooh places heavy spotlight on Tigger, and later Roo (both only minor characters in the original novels) with Pooh occasionally acting as a mere side character; both characters have even gained their own starring full length features. Granted since both characters were Ensemble Darkhorses initially, this decision hasn't fared quite as badly as other examples.
  • Batman has the tendency to do this in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies in which he is a supporting character. The worst offenders would probably be Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. He steals the line itself. His name is in 5. He's also in all the Justice League movies, bringing the Bat up to eight movies.
  • The Lion King movies have Timon & Pumbaa add the comic relief to them and are considered the most popular characters in the series, which of course led to the weekly animated series and third movie focusing solely on them. Lampshaded on House of Mouse
    Simba: Those guys always get all the attention.
  • Despite being the titular character of the movie, Aladdin is usually overlooked when it comes to merchandise, which tends to focus on Princess Jasmine & Rajah, Genie, or Iago instead.
  • The Minions were the breakout characters in Despicable Me, appearing in a few scenes and being the icing on top of an already good movie. In the sequel, they pretty much have their own subplot. Of course, they have a spin-off movie in the pipeline too.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Landa in Inglourious Basterds steals every scene he is present in, leading to what basically amounts to an Awards Show sweep for portrayer Christoph Waltz in the year after the movie's release.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand was more of a Wolverine movie guest-starring the X-Men — a heck of a sucker punch, since the comic story being adapted called for Cyclops (apparently killed very early on) and Jean Grey (silently standing next to Magneto for the bulk of the film) to take the spotlight, and the promotional material heavily featured Angel (in only three scenes). (The quick removal of Cyclops is usually attributed to James Marsden starring in Superman Returns, but see the discussion page if you like conspiracy theories.) The first two movies also focused primarily on Wolverine, and then he got his own prequel and sequel.
    • Lampshaded by Magneto in the second movie:
      "Once again, you think it's all about you."
    • In fact, Wolverine stole the spotlight in pretty much every movie in the trilogy. And to a lesser extent, so did Storm.
    • First Class was an attempt to reboot the franchise after Last Stand's poor reception. The film was successful enough to prove that the franchise can survive without Wolverine...until the sequel, Days of Future Past, decided to make it "The Wolverine Show" yet again.
  • In the second Underworld movie, the premise is "Vampires vs. Werewolves". The first has Lucian, perhaps the most interesting, charismatic, and likable character, while the second Underworld movie had about three scenes with werewolves, none of whom speak. Vampires and super-vampires take up most of the screen time.
  • Going by the trailers, the reverse is happening with Twilight (the Fur Against Fang premise doesn't kick in till the second movie, too).
  • The final film in the Blade Trilogy, Blade: Trinity, is a victim of this. Instead of the film focusing on Blade, a group of hunters get the most attention with Blade showing up, every-now-and-again. The film suffered a huge backlash by the fans because of this and Wesley Snipes even sued, claiming they were whitewashing him for his own film franchise. However, given the myriad of rumours that Wesley Snipes allegedly couldn't be bothered to show up on set most of the time, leaving his stunt double having to perform most of the filming in his place; if true, then it's not entirely surprising that Blade ultimately doesn't appear much?
  • Johnny Depp
  • Alice in Resident Evil movies - nobody else can do anything even remotely important or even act like a competent person, only she can.
  • The Princess Bride: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." While the movie was always intended to be a multi-character piece, you wouldn't have expected Mandy Patinkin to upstage André the Giant. Although Inigo did get more scenes than Fezzik in the book as well, and the actual main character spent more than a few chapters either missing, in prison, or dead (he got better).
  • In the Michael Bay Transformers movies, most people agree that it's more like Dawson's Creek with Guest Stars the Transformers. It wasn't just the primary human characters who stole the main roles, but nearly all humans had more prominent roles than the robots.
  • The Ghost and the Darkness features the (fictitious) American Great White Hunter Remington as a co-star equal to John Henry Patterson. Screenwriter William Goldman claims Remington was a minor character in the script, but that producer-actor Michael Douglas significantly inflated the role during production.
  • Steve Stifler, the Breakout Character of the American Pie series. He started out as a supporting character, then got a more prominent role in the second film, on hand to provide much of the comic relief. By American Wedding, he took center stage as the protagonist, and was the deuteragonist of American Reunion nine years later. The Stifler relatives were also the main focus of the direct-to-video spin-offs, making the name of Stifler practically synonymous with the franchise.

    Literature 
  • Drizzt Do'Urden in R.A. Salvatore's later books stops giving the other cast members breathing room.
    • Even before that, he was originally intended as a mentor figure for Wulfgar, to be phased out and only show up occasionally. Instead he stole the entire series for himself.
  • Tasslehoff becomes rather close to becoming one in the Dragonlance Trilogies of the War of the Lance and The Twins.
  • In some books of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, unimportant characters like Galina can get more page time than the hero, Rand; due to the large cast and the length of the series, every main character has books in which they barely appear.
  • Terry Pratchett has stated this as an explicit problem of writing the Discworld at times - it's difficult to write a story set in Ankh-Morpork without the Watch getting involved, at which point it is inevitably a Watch story, regardless of the former plot outline. In fact, this trope was the primary reason for the creation of the protagonist character Moist von Lipwig (of Going Postal and Making Money); as a con artist and known criminal, Moist would naturally wish to avoid interaction with the Watch whenever possible. Even this ultimately failed, and his third book Raising Steam ended up being a crossover featuring a team-up.
    • Which is, it has to be said, a tradition going back to the very start of the Watch books, which were originally meant to star Carrot.
    • The Wee Free Men was originally set in Lancre, one of the reasons for the change was that it would be too darn hard to keep the Ramtops witches from taking over.
  • Take a look at the Honor Harringtons Crowning Moment Of Awesome listing, and you'd be forgiven for thinking the series was entirely about Victor Cachat rather than, you know, Honor Harrington.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: As the series goes on, more attention becomes devoted to Jack Emery, Harry Wong, Bert Navarro, Ted Robinson, and Joe Espinosa (not to mention a few other characters). Some reviewers noticed this and complained that this series is about the Sisterhood, not the Brotherhood! This may have been the product of Designated Protagonist Syndrome.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Glee
    • So prevalent it's actually becoming a recurring plot point (along with repeated lampshadings). Series 1 had the focus remain almost solely on Rachel and Finn. They were designated female and male lead both in the Glee club (despite the fact that Cory Monteith was arguably one of the weakest singers and dancers in the cast) and on the show itself, with almost every important plotline revolving around them in some way and even getting major subplots in the rest of the cast's A Day in the Limelight episodes. Season 2 reduced Rachel and Finn's screentime and spread more focus to other characters, like Brittany and Santana (who got promoted to regulars) and Mike (who had more lines in six episodes of S2 than in the whole S1), but then turned the spotlight on Kurt and his much-discussed homophobic bullying storyline, and, later, Blaine. In fact, it's Kurt lampshading this in Original Song which leads to the couple's Relationship Upgrade.
    • Blaine, with the Dalton Warblers, is another example, he sang more songs in a few episodes than some regulars did all show. Even within the Warblers, Blaine is the only one who ever sings lead, to the point that Glee Presents: The Warbles is basically a Darren Criss concept album.
    • In Season 3, the show has become less about the group (and Will) and more about Finn/Rachel and Kurt/Blaine.
  • House spent an awful lot of time on Taub's relationship problems in the later seasons, to the point where the "soap opera" part of the plot in several episodes was entirely about Taub, or Taub and Rachel, or Taub and his baby mama, or Taub and his daughters.
    • Thirteen and Foreman in Season 5, with their Romantic Plot Tumor of a relationship and the Huntington's drug trial before that.
    • Masters in Season 7: During her stint on the show, she appeared in most episodes' main and B-plots, and the rest of the plot frequently came to a halt around her so she could have her needlessly drawn-out ethical dilemma of the week.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike, most obviously in the seventh season, although it started out gradually and became more obvious once Marti Noxon took the helm of the show. He continues in this role when he becomes a regular on Angel, and in the several canon comics thereafter.
  • In general, Power Rangers tends to have Red Rangers and Sixth Rangers get more attention than the other four guys on the team.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force is referred to as 'Power Rangers Mys-Nick Force,' or simply The Nick Show. He's The Hero Because Destiny Says So, and the others are just along for the ride. By the final arc, the scenes at the beginning of some episodes with one of the mentor types training the team were now scenes of Nick alone being taught something as he's reminded how uber-important he is so he's gotta stay sharp, and the others not even being around to watch. The mentors apparently don't bother with the others anymore. You knew you hit rock bottom when the last episode has Nick handily beating up a bad guy general while the others watch, and finally saying "Do you guys want in on this?" Yes, it's made explicit that he can do it all on his own but graciously lets the others pretend to matter out of charity.
    • Tommy Oliver, known to many as the Green Ranger, deserves special mention. This guy practically defines spotlight stealing. Originally, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was about five teens "with attitudes" who were thrust into a battle against an evil witch that they weren't prepared for. Later on, cue the appearance of the evil Green Ranger and his badass Dragonzord. Tommy became so popular that even when they ran out of Sentai footage for the Green Ranger, the producers simply had to bring him back later on because of how so many kids wanted it. After a long run as the Green Ranger, Tommy came back as the White Ranger, with Zordon immediately declaring him the new leader of the team (with Jason just smiling away in the background)note  and Tommy subsequently going into full-blown Sue mode. For all intents and purposes, the show turned into "Tommy Oliver and his Amazing Friends" from Mighty Morphin' to Zeo and some of Turbo. Kimberly managed to mooch off of Tommy's limelight to an extent also, given that they were the Official Couple, though, this turned out to be a double-edged sword in that she arguably suffered from some moderate Chickification too. Humorously, Tommy's Spotlight Stealing ultimately manages to backfire on him in the S3 premierenote  (particularly with reference to usurping Jason) when he disregards Zordon's warning about overworking the Zords with extreme cockiness. Result? The Megazord falls apart, the Power Coins are obliterated, Team Rocket Wins. Smooth-move, Tommy Sue.
    • In a humorous example of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, Power Rangers S.P.D. and its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger actually had an entire episode dedicated to lampshading and subverting this trope: right after Doggie is revealed to be the uber-Bad Ass Shadow Ranger/Deka Master, he starts getting called on by the rest of the team to bail them out of every skirmish they get into, essentially having the core focus group begging for their spotlight to be stolen. The subversion comes when Doggie blows them off in order to teach them to fight their own battles and not rely on him, and from then on, he only appears as the Shadow Ranger/Deka Master when the other Rangers honestly and truly need his help. Unfortunately, this falls back into Double Subversion territory when the fans didn't get this lesson and stole the other Rangers' popularity spotlight for him.
  • Sam manages to do this in a show with a Power Trio and only two other major characters. iCarly has been accused of going from a show about 3 young teens making a webshow and having fun, to a show about how much of a Jerk Ass Sam can be and get away with it this week.
  • Big One from J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai. He comes right the heck out of nowhere, becomes the leader of the team, shoves them all (leader included) to the side, and is the focus of everything and absolutely perfect... and then becomes one of the series' mascot once JAKQ is included in the Super Sentai. This was, however, intentional and welcomed by the fans since before Big One appeared, the series was suffering in ratings, and his arrival did let the show run for some more episodes.
    • Rio and Mele from Juken Sentai Gekiranger. They initially shared fairly equal plot and screen time with the heroes, then gained more and more prominence as they slipped into morally gray Anti-Hero territory after Long was introduced. Although they are extremely popular with the western fandom, Japanese fans had a less positive reaction and complained that the show was supposed to have been about the Gekirangers.
    • Seems to be happening in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. Usually, red is the prominent character, but the one from this series takes this to ridiculous levels with the other rangers getting less and less screen time. This is also shown in the series Super Mode, which is red exclusively.
    • Similar to the Gekiranger example above, a complaint of Japanese fans about Tensou Sentai Goseiger was that it gave too much prominence to Bladerun/Brajira, who appears in all three villain groups the heroes face before being revealed as the Big Bad.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O the series itself is a SSS in relation to its fellow Kamen Rider series. While most KR shows simply get one season and one movie, Den-O has a grand total of either five or seven movies depending on how you count itnote . Furthermore, three of those movies have been crossovers with other Kamen Rider shows, but the other shows' characters get token cameos at best. On top of that, Den-O also gets a starring role in the franchise 40th anniversary movie, over everyone else except the original and current Riders.
    • Den-O contains an example of this trope itself with the Taros, especially Momotaros. As time goes on, original protagonist Ryotaro gets shoved further and further into the background while the zany antics of the Taros get more and more focus. To some extent, this might be because Takeru Satoh (Ryotaro) left the franchise after the supposed Grand Finale, so the character was turned into a child and replaced by a child actor who simply couldn't replicate Satoh's skill in the role.
  • The entire fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager was The Seven of Nine Show. In theory, she had just been introduced and needed her character established in a hurry. Others suspect something else was behind all her screen time.
    • Star Trek falls into this a lot, most frequently with the "Nonhuman who gradually learns to be human" type of character. Specifics:
      • There is Data from TNG, who has much more of his backstory explored than the others, including an Evil Twin and encounters with his creator. One look at the Heartwarming page shows how many episodes focus on Data.
      • Wesley also had this from time to time.
      • Voyager is split between The Doctor and Seven, especially as a pair. They approach the same "Learn to be human" angle from different sides, and their interactions together inevitably stole the episode because of it.
    • And the first half of the seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was pretty much Ezri Dax and Friends.
      • To say nothing of Worf in season 4. (Though actually this one didn't take effect immediately. Most of the first eight or so episodes of season 4 had been written before it was decided to bring Worf over, so he's sort of peripheral to the action during that period.)
      • And Garak. For somebody not even listed as part of the main cast, he was one of the most major characters of the series.
    • The Star Trek: Enterprise finale "These Are The Voyages..." is universally loathed for essentially being a TNG episode guest starring the ENT cast.
  • Word of God says that Ben became this in LOST.
    • The A-Team, a common term in Lost terminology to refer to Jack Sheppard, Kate Austin, James 'Sawyer' Ford, Sayid Jarrah and John Locke. If something is happening, if something needs to be done, or if someone is planning something, these five characters will usually be a part of it. It was lampshaded in one episode in which Charlie mentions that there seems to be one group of people on the island who go on all the quests and do anything important, who he calls the A Team. This of course has led to many of the other characters being Out of Focus, though some do get their spots in the limelight.
    • Lost also clearly played favorites with its distribution of spotlight episodes. For example, in the first season of 24 episodes (and 14 main characters), Jack and Kate each got three spotlight episodes to themselves, while Shannon got... none. Basically, if your name was Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, Sun or Jin, you were guaranteed lots of centric episodes. Everyone else was lucky to get one a season, if that.
  • Castiel from Supernatural, according to some fans. He's not human or a Winchester, he didn't even appear in the show until Season 4, and he's in barely one-third of the 26 episodes per season, but he's just as visible and recognizable as the two main leads (sometimes even more so). People who don't watch the show are liable to name him when asked to name a single character from the series, and his episodes tend to carry the most buzz, ratings, and plot advancement (some think to the detriment of the actual protagonists). More than a few TV writers have alluded to this, one even jokingly suggesting that the show be subtitled "Castiel Returns."
  • Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat: Conquest is guilty too. Almost every major fight must be a duel that only he can face; it's only when he's off somewhere else that Zero and Taja get to fight evil minions.
  • A lot of episodes of Big Wolf on Campus focused mainly on Merton Dingle despite the fact that the show is told from the POV of heroic werewolf, Tommy Dawkins.
  • Heroes Sylar was supposed to die after the first season, and was brought back due to being massively popular. Ever since then, the plot has bent over backwards to accommodate him. This was especially prevalent during the third season.
  • When Steve Urkel appeared in the first season of Family Matters, he was an instant favorite. The problems began when the focus slowly but surely shifted from the Winslow family and Steve to just Steve, and his annoying habits, and bizarre inventions. The actress playing Harriet left the show for this exact reason, and it was her show in the first place, since it was a Spin-Off from Perfect Strangers about supporting character Harriet and her family.
  • The latter seasons of Third Watch focused almost exclusively on the NYPD characters, with the FDNY characters practically reduced to bit parts. The paramedic characters did get more attention than the firefighters, but only because their stories were usually tied into the cop stories.
  • Suite Life on Deck focuses constantly on Cody, while his twin Zack is the comic relief. And it also focuses a lot on Bailey, Sometimes even more than Cody.
  • Before Jeff and Jordan became the ratings machine, Big Brother 11 had the cameras tilted towards Jessie a lot. Partly because he showed off a lot; but once Jeff and Jordan became the houseguests everyone was rooting for, the cameras (As well as the game) slanted towards Jeff and Jordan.
    • They weren't as emphasized as much as on The Amazing Race, surprisingly. Partly because they made it about early-mid way, and were emphasized for the usual reasons one would be on that show.
    • The thirteenth season of American Big Brother, has eight new players and six returning players, called the "newbies" and the "Veterans" respectively. You'd be surprised to find out that there were actually eight newbies instead of only Adam and Dominic. Porsche, Kalia, Lawon, Shelly, Cassi, Keith. Don't know who they are? Well you're not alone - the editors have completely forgotten about Porsche, Kalia, Lawon, and Shelly while Keith and Cassi only got screentime when they were evicted. To sum up the editors' preference:
    "JeJo and Brenchel can sit in the back yard combing their hair or chewing on their lips while the new players put on a hilarious puppet show or put together an epic plan and STILL have more screentime than all of them combined."
  • Shane Vendrell on The Shield.
  • Considering what the show's basic premise is, Ted from How I Met Your Mother spends a lot of time telling his kids what their Uncle Barney was up to...to the point that Ted, the narrator, is barely in some of the episodes anymore.
    • At least in this case It Makes Sense in Context once we finally realize just how big a role Barney, and his love story with Robin plays in how Ted meets the mother. In "Platonish", it's revealed that the Mother talked Barney into deciding to go after Robin for good in the first place.
  • Col. Sheppard and Rodney McKay of Stargate Atlantis: They usually filled the roles of Action Hero and The Smart Guy Lancer, just like O'neil and Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1, but Atlantis seemed to spend much less time on the other members of the team.
    • Granted that Sheppard is the lead, but take for example, the episode "The Seed," where he robs Ronon of a chance in the spotlight twice. First Ronon volunteers to test a risky antidote, but Sheppard cuts in to take it himself. Then when Ronon goes to save Keller, he messes up just as Sheppard wakes up so he can go and save the day.
    • A stronger case can made for Rodney McKay . Throughout the entire series, the audience discovers more about McKay's entire backstory and even his own sister gets some backstory in several episodes over Sheppard, Ronon, Teyla and Weir in the entire series. Rodney's character development over the course of the show made everyone else in Atlantis look static in comparison. This is especially bad with Zalincka, who appears to be just as brilliant as McKay but gets maybe 1% of the limelight.
  • Charmed
    • During the first three seasons, every episode was centered around "Superwitch" Prue. She fought and vanquished all of the demons, brewed a lot of the potions, and was involved in every plot, with Phoebe providing the romantic subplot and Piper throwing out the occasional funny one liner. This was especially glaring in one season 3 episode that featured Piper's wedding...and that quickly got demoted to a subplot when Prue's astral body went crazy.
    • After Prue's death, Piper grew into the role of Superwitch, brewing most of the potions and vanquishing most of the demons. She also was wrapped up in the plots, what with her struggling marriage with Leo and trying to protect her two children. During Season 8, only a few episodes of the season were not completely devoted to either Piper or Billie.
    • Not really. Phoebe got just as much plots and story time as Piper in the later seasons. Paige, not so much until season 7. But by season 8 all sisters got equal amounts of story development.
  • The Fonz on Happy Days, who went from supporting character, to supporting character living in the garage of the main characters, to the spotlight character, to the point where the show named the Jumping the Shark trope by having the Fonz literally jump a shark. Henry Winkler is on record as not supporting the excessive focus. At one point they wanted to call the show "Fonzie's Happy Days," but Winkler vetoed the change. He even turned down a spin-off, while encouraging his cast mates to do their own.
  • In Survivor, one or two guys get the bulk of the screentime each season. Usually the main one's a Machiavelli wannabe that CBS thinks we'll "Love to Hate" (yes, Colton Cumbie, we're talking to you) — but we just hate him, making him the Creator's Pet.
    • Samoa might as well have been called "The Russell Hantz Show" given how much they worked his ramblings into every single episode and the viewers can probably think "... who're these guys in the purple? And who's that 'Mick' person they keep dragging along...?". This isn't just a complaint about somebody who doesn't like him complaining that he's being shown so much - they literally showed almost nothing of Galu pre-merge, and post-merge, kept all of them except whoever was going to be eliminated next and Shambo almost perpetually Out of Focus. Brett and Kelly got this the worst; there were several people wondering why Russell wanted Kelly gone so bad because she was supposedly a big threat despite having less time than Brett did. (And Brett admittedly had gotten so far by keeping his mouth shut.)
      • His reign of terror continued into Heroes vs. Villains, where people jokingly said "Whoa, they actually had AMANDA on the show?" or "I didn't know Jerri was back, too!". However they at least let us get to see the other tribe in Heroes Vs. Villains.
    • Russell was easily the worst, but other spotlight stealers were Richard of Borneo, Rupert of Pearl Islands, Stephenie of Palau and Guatemala, Boston Rob in Marquesas, All Stars, Heroes vs. Villains, and Redemption Island and Coach of Tocantins, but he was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Heroes vs. Villains.
    • Two of Survivor's most famous Weslies returned in Redemption Island, beginning to resume their reign of terror over the other poor 16 other contestants... however thankfully we didn't get Russell Hantz shoved down our throats for the third time since he was eliminated second overall - meaning that production was actually forced to show the other people on Zapatera! However Ometepe wasn't so lucky as they didn't turn on Rob at all - the result? You'll probably be wondering who this "Grant" person who single-handedly won several challenges is and who these "Natalie", "Ashley", and "Andrea" girls are unless Phillip (The other producer's pet of the tribe) is talking to them. Rob is even finding himself nominated for just about every single "Player of the Week" award, even when it was clear he's just kicked back and is relaxing until the merge. As much of a relief as it is to actually get to know these other players voted out pre-merge thanks to seeing them compete in a Redemption Island Duel, do you think we'll get to see the rest of Ometepe at all? As long as Rob's around... probably not. (If they're smart they'll either drag him to the final five and then evict him when there's no chance he can play the idol...)
      • As it turns out, Rob managed to win because the other cast members were Too Dumb to Live. And were essentially just extras on the Rob show - however, Rob didn't get all the screentime. Approximately 98% of the screentime this season was given to either Rob, Matt, or Phillip. About 80% of that screentime was divided between Rob and Phillip, with most of it going to Rob. The fandom wasn't rejoicing because he finally won - the fandom was rejoicing because maybe he'll FINALLY GO AWAY.
    • Brandon and Cochran in South Pacific, both who by themselves managed to get more screentime than the season's winner, Sophie Clarke. To say nothing of twice returning players Ozzy and Coach, who already wore out their welcome during their sophomore outings.
    • Things obviously got pretty bad during 2009-2011 in the show, however One World got much better with the spotlight stealing squad. While Colton pretty much was the sole focus for the first half of the show, he actually was setting most of the events in motion, and after he was gone, most of the other contestants got a good enough edit you wouldn't have been surprised to find that a Living Prop managed to win the season.
  • Seven on Married... with Children (Cousin Oliver characters are prone to this in general.) Luckily, after one series he was written out and never heard from again, later lampshaded by showing his face on the side of a milk carton.
  • Perhaps a lesser example would be America's Funniest Home Videos. If one of the three finalist videos has a child in it, odds are it's going to win, regardless of whether it was funny, "heartwarming", or just a brat acting bratty.
  • For reasons that lie beyond mortal understanding, the writers of Robin Hood thought that the audience would be more interested in the completely original character of shrewish, whiny Kate, rather than characters such as Much, Allan-a-Dale, Will Scarlett, and Little John; characters who are not only actual components of the Robin Hood legends that the show was based on, but who had been on the show since its beginning and not shoehorned in at the beginning of the third season. After her introduction, most of the gang dynamic revolved around the male outlaws shilling and falling in love with this completely random blonde, despite her Jerkass Sue tendencies and inability to do anything useful, interesting, or nice.
  • A mild example: The last season or two of Friends seemed to struggle with the idea that the show was about all the friends, and focused more on Rachel. Other characters did get their own (more popular) story arcs but were more self-contained, but Rachel took most of the attention .
    • Rachel was actually an odd case as almost all the season finales/openings were about her, but her plots had very little staying power. Most seasons would open with her dramatic twist, only for the story to die out within a few episodes, have her quiet mid-season and pop up for the finale. Examples: The first three seasons pushed the Ross/Rachel romance but were pretty even. S4 began with her and Ross getting back together but was actually about the big apartment swop and Phoebe's pregnancy. S5, S6 and S7 opened with Ross/Rachel drama but was dominated by the Chandler/Monica relationship. S9 started opened with her new baby, but Emma was barely seen and the Chandler/Tulsa story and Phoebe's love triangle were more important. S10 had a Rachel/Joey cliffhanger but they broke up almost instantly and switched focus to Phoebe and Mike getting married and Chandler and Monica having children.
  • Reese on Malcolm in the Middle. After the first few seasons, the show became less about Malcolm and became more about Reese and whatever screwups the family would make that week. It soon got to the point where Malcolm barely appeared in some episodes.
  • Michelle on Full House, to the point where it became better known as "The Michelle Show" towards the end of it's run.
  • Bam Margera on Jackass, due to his popularity with women and his Attentiongirl tendencies. Much of the time, one didn't even realize that there was anyone in the cast besides Johnny, Steve-O and him.
  • On later seasons of The West Wing, C.J. Cregg started to get a lot more focus and episodes like "Access" and "The Long Goodbye", an Emmy Bait episode which focused entirely on C.J. dealing with her father's Alzheimers. In season 6, it stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief when she became Chief of Staff, a job she was unqualified for and should have gone to Josh or Toby. Not that she was a bad character or actress; Allison Janney won several Emmys for the role and deserved them.
  • In the 90210 sequel, the focus of the show shifted from the Wilson family to Naomi somewhere between seasons 2 and 3.
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, the earlier seasons were very much centered around Ray's neuroses and how his dysfunctional family played into those neuroses, causing hilarity to ensue. The other characters obviously did get episodes centered around them, but the focus was usually still on Ray, or at least Ray and his parents. Then three characters ended up getting a boost in screentime and stories: Marie, Debra, and Robert. The showrunners noticed that the Debra/Marie conflict was polling well with certain key demographics and decided to play it up more, until by the middle seasons it seemed like the majority of plots on the show were driven by Debra and Marie having petty feuds in which the audience was encouraged to root for Debra (some fans got annoyed with this though, and viewed Marie and Debra as being Not So Different). Robert meanwhile was an Ensemble Dark Horse right from the start, and the show actually went to great lengths to give Robbie Character Development, and many of the more interesting long-term storylines centered around Robbie's attempts to get his life back on track. Also, Amy's family arguably became this trope in some of the later episodes.
  • Narrowly subverted In-Universe on The Famous Jett Jackson. A new, blonde, female agent is introduced on the Show Within a Show, and Jett soon learns that the producers intend to have her replace him as the main character altogether. By the end of the episode, however, he's managed to both save his job and befriend the new girl, leading to her character becoming an equal partner to his and her actress joining the supporting cast.
  • Brooke Davis in One Tree Hill. She's not even in the pilot. Ask anyone who they think the main character from the show is and they would say Brooke. The main character was originally supposed to be Lucas but because of Brooke's popularity, the show went on for three more seasons after he left.
  • An interesting example - "Moody's Point" on The Amanda Show. While it was certainly well-written and funny, it would take up most of the show.
  • Downton Abbey started as an ensemble piece, but due to a combination of factors which will not be speculated on here, very quickly became The Lady Mary Show, with everyone else's storylines getting shafted. Lady Mary only avoids Creator's Pet because a sizable portion of the fanbase still adores her. Granted, Michelle Dockery is a talented actress and carries it off with aplomb, but given the sheer talent of the rest of the cast, it's still annoying.
  • The first two seasons of The Thick of It are an ensemble comedy, with Malcolm Tucker merely one of several central characters; hapless minister Hugh Abbott and bumbling assistant Ollie Reeder receive roughly equal screen time. By season three though, Malcolm's undoubtedly the protagonist. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Pretty much everyone who isn't Andy or Bailey. If you didn't pick up the series from the beginning, you might honestly not know that Andy is the main character.

    Music 
  • Most people prefer Hatsune Miku of Vocaloid over all the other twenty-two Vocaloids (and over ninety if you count the fan made ones). The fans themselves even put a lampshade on it by creating her Woobie counterpart, Haku Yowane, who's always drinking because she knows she'll never be as good or popular as Miku.
    • Miku's stock has gone down a tiny bit, but that's only opened the door for Rin and Len Kagamine, and later Luka Megurine. Doing live concerts certainly doesn't hurt.
    • Haku Yowane has fallen into this trope! She's actually one of the "Voyakiloids", "failure" variants which are supposed to represent songs made with the program that sound terrible. Initially, she was like that. However, as the backlash against Miku's popularity grew, Haku, as the anti-Miku (think Wario/Mario), became more popular as well. (That she looked like a goddess in most of her renderings certainly didn't hurt.) And then some composers decided that if she was really going to steal Miku's thunder, she needed better-sounding songs. It all snowballed from there and Haku has done everything from ride a motorcycle through a tricky course backwards to play a keyboard flawlessly one-fingered to shoot down a plane with a single bullet.
    • Really, it's all six of the Crypton Vocaloids over the 30-something others (And sometimes Gumi and Gakupo get thrown in too, but that's usually it).
  • Beyoncé from Destinys Child is sometimes criticized for this, especially after her solo career took off. Parodied by MADtv here and here Perhaps not coincidentally, her character in Dreamgirls is a fictional spotlight stealer based on Diana Ross.
  • The Doors and No Doubt are just two examples of bands of very talented musicians frequently overshadowed by their flamboyant lead singers. The fact that No Doubt is fronted by a woman whereas the rest of the band were all male just makes their situation worse.
  • Yes, Virginia, there really were Jacksons not named Michael and Janet. And it probably says something about them that Michael had to die before they got their own reality TV show.
  • The Bangles started off having three lead singers (Susanna Hoffs and the Petterson sisters) and the first albums are relatively balanced in that department. However, as Hoffs started to gain media coverage, most of the singles (i.e. videos, i.e. hits, i.e. opening/closing live numbers and encores) had her on lead. For their reunion album, she sings more than the others.
  • Eagles began as a quartet where lead vocals were relatively split (although Glenn Frey had a bit more input). Slowly, as Don Henley became the main lyricist and a fan favourite, he became, statistically, the band's most frequent lead singer.
  • During The Eighties, Genesis morphed into The Phil Collins Band, to the point where radio DJs would introduce Genesis songs as "another one from Phil Collins". A one-man Spotlight Stealing Squad for sure.
    • Contrast this with the earlier, progressive rock era, where Peter Gabriel and his flamboyant costumes, masks and makeup were the focal point of their image and marketing, to the point where his leaving the band led to early death knells in the press. It didn't help that the other members were media-shy and that Gabriel was the mouthpiece for the band until 1975. Gabriel's legend loomed large until Collins became an unexpected solo success in 1981.
  • Did you know that Marilyn Manson is the name of an entire band? Their name was originally Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, but over time the lead singer stole more and more of the spotlight and became the only face of the band, to the point that they shortened the band's name to just his stage name.
  • Pink Floyd post-Barrett started with songs from just about everyone in the band, including collaborations from the whole band. By The Wall, only four songs weren't fully written by Roger Waters. Then there was The Final Cut...
    • It also affected the vocals. Waters, David Gilmour and Richard Wright (at first, Barrett/Waters/Wright) usually shared the singing duties. By the time Waters took over the band in Animals, only one song wasn't fully done by him.
  • Perhaps this belongs in the Film folder, but Hans Zimmer gets a lot more recognition than James Newton-Howard for composing for The Dark Knight Saga.
    • And Howard isn't even doing the third movie due to Zimmer forcing Howard out, in favor of his (multiple) proteges.
  • Brian Cox combined this with Breakup Breakout to become D Ream's Spotlight Stealing Squad several years after the group split up. While they were together, he attracted no attention whatsoever, and had next to no input into the group's records (almost all the keyboard parts on the records are played by Peter Cunnah). Fast forward a few years, and he's vastly more famous than anyone else associated with the group.
  • One example of spotlight stealing backfiring was with the well-known electric guitarist Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were close to breaking up because of John Frusciante's drug problems and inner-fighting amongst the members, Dave Navarro—who's friends with the band members—stepped in to keep the band from ending. His presence and guitar playing style overshadowed the Peppers funky sound, making the band sound more like Jane's Addiction. This was made clearer on their album together One Hot Minute which was filled with Dave Navarro's guitar licks and was promoted by exotic music videos straight out of the Jane's Addiction playbook. The result was a huge backlash by fans whom still hold a grudge against Dave Navarro to this day. And the Peppers have officially declared that One Hot Minute was their worst album and hardly play tracks from it while on tour.

     Newspaper Comics  
  • Liz and Anthony in For Better or for Worse: Look upon their blandly wholesome love and despair. This was only the case since mid-to-late 2005, mind you.
  • In Bloom County, the character of Opus is not present when the strip started. Later he is introduced as Binkley's pet. He takes over the strip to such an extent that important original characters like Cutter John and the eponymous Milo Bloom disappeared before the end. Although its Sunday-only sequel, Outland, wasn't originally conceived to include the Bloom County regulars, Opus showed up in the third week, and although others came back as well, Opus had again become the primary focus. Years later, when Berke Breathed decided to resume the series again, he simply named it Opus and the rest of the original cast were Demoted to Extra.
  • In the later years of FoxTrot, Jason Fox often got a disproportionate amount of screen time compared to the rest of his family, sometimes being in at least every arc. This can be annoying to readers that don't get nerdy jokes. Or even people who do get them, but don't think they're very funny.
  • E.C. Sieger's Thimble Theatre was a well-regarded strip recounting the adventures of one Castor Oyl, his family, and his best friend Ham Gravy, until one day they needed to hire a sailor to captain a ship for them. The sailor, like most of TT's cast, was intended to be a throw-away character, never to return after the story arc ended, but fan response was so overwhelmingly positive that he joined the main cast, and eventually the strip was re-named after him. You might have read it; it's called Popeye.
  • When Bo and Lanolin were first introduced in U.S. Acres, it resulted in weeks worth of nothing but strips heavily featuring Bo and Lanolin. Eventually, focus balance went back to normal.
  • After 2001, the comic strip Luann became "Brad". However, in the process, Brad became responsible and grew up. In the early strips, he was a Jerk Ass Big Brother.
  • Dick Tracy: Chester Gould always wanted to do a 'big-foot style' humour strip. As a result, he would sometimes bring the action in Dick Tracy to a screeching halt to focus on the antics of hillbilly couple B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie.
  • Rerun Van Pelt became this towards the end of Peanuts, with many of the strips now focusing around his perspective. Creator Charles M. Schulz admitted in an interview that Rerun had almost taken over the comic.
  • Comic strip Drabble was originally focused on Norman, a college student. While Norman still makes prominent appearances, newer strips often focus on his father, Ralph.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • This tends to happen in Professional Wrestling pretty much any time a wrestler gains any degree of power over the writing of the show. For example, in WCW from 1998 to 1999, the show centered so heavily on Kevin Nash that he gained the Fan Nickname "Big Poochie" after the character from The Simpsons episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", (specifically from a bit where Homer suggests that, when Poochie's not around, all of the other characters should say things like, "Where's Poochie?"). See also Triple H on WWE's Raw brand from 2002 to 2005, Jeff Jarrett in TNA from its founding in 2002 to the end of 2006, and Kurt Angle and his then-wife, Karen, also in TNA since 2006. If the latter three are any indication, they eventually do get it out of their system.
    • As a group, the Main Event Mafia in particular, Kurt Angle specifically. Worst of all, it's basically a rehash of the nWo storyline from WCW, complete with Big Poochie.
  • The New World Order; they became so overpushed in 1996-1999 (thanks to the creative control wielded by Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, as well as the overindulgence of Eric Bischoff) that it drove the entire storyline into the ground. The main problem was that, despite being the bad guys, they never, ever lost.
  • In the really old school, see: Hulk Hogan in the WWF and WCW, and Dusty Rhodes in Jim Crockett Promotions/NWA. Ironically, Pro Wrestling NOAH could use more of this instead of the booker-wrestler devaluing himself to get over a young guy... who then fails to get over due to weak early title defenses, drops the belt to an "old guard" guy and promptly drops back to midcard hell. And Hogan did it again to TNA. Luckily, as time went on it got significantly better.
  • Defied Trope: Vince McMahon came out to take credit for the actions of Wade Barrett and The Nexus, much like how his daughter Stephanie had arisen as the mastermind behind the ECW revival in 2001. Barrett and his men proceeded to beat Vince senseless in response. (We guess that'll teach him not to ride other heels' coattails, especially since he's retired from wrestling now.)
  • For a long stretch between 2007 and 2009, almost every main event at every PPV was some combination of Randy Orton, Triple H, and John Cena. Since Triple H was injured, and Cena was busy with the Nexus, it became Orton and Sheamus more often than not.
    • Since 2006, John Cena has been stealing the main event spot at WrestleMania from that year's Royal Rumble winner (with the exception of the 2009 winner). Ironically, when Cena himself won the 2008 Rumble, Edge and The Undertaker headlined Mania that year. Hell, Cena's been stealing the spotlight from the WWE Championship for a while now. The first few months of 2012 it was understandable - he was headlining WrestleMania with The Rock in the latter's first 'Mania match in years. After that, however, it was unjustifiable. He stole the spotlight from CM Punk, who is the WWE Champion, at Extreme Rules, which took place in Punk's hometown of Chicago, while Punk was in a nicely dubbed Chicago Street Fight with Arch-Enemy Chris Jericho, all because he was in a match with Brock Lesnar, who doesn't have nearly as much star power as The Rock does. Then his match with John Laurinaitis headlined Over The Limit over CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. That last one is why Punk's fan base didn't diminish at all when he turned heel - when a match like that goes after you, even though you're the WWE Champion, you have a legitimate reason to be angry.
  • After Michael Cole's Face-Heel Turn. He's been on every show since as a commentator: WWE Raw, NXT, WWE Superstars, and after WWE Smackdown moved to SyFy he became a third color commentator. Eventually Cole stopped announcing on NXT and WWE Superstars. His positions on those shows was taken over by fellow commentators Todd Grisham, Jack Korpela, and Scott Stanford. With his face turn in 2012 he only announced on Raw and Main Event; John Bradshaw Layfield initially took over his Smackdown spot alongside Josh Mathews but he was later put back in the commentating booth for that show.
  • Triple H in 2011 since he became COO, which could be summed up as this: We went from the "Summer of Punk" to the "Autumn of HHH." Though the focus on The Game eventually died down after October, when he was ousted as the Raw General Manager and replaced with John Laurinaitis. Trips would then be injured by Kevin Nash and actually didn't show up until December to exact his revenge.
  • Team Hell NO (Daniel Bryan and Kane) often had segments that were nearly 30-40 minutes in length, usually consisting of one having a singles match with the other on commentary, then a long promo segment, and then the other partner having a match while the first member went on commentary; not to mention any pre-taped segments...
  • Listening to the ring announcers lately have shown this has gotten out of hand. In the past, the announcers were fairly good at staying on point and trying to talk about the current match and storyline, whether it was a main event, midcard, or women's match. Nowadays, the current match is usually treated as an annoying distraction from whoever the Spotlight Stealer is at the time.
  • In British wrestling's Joint Promotions, Big Daddy became this from the late '70s onwards. Whilst a firm favourite with fans and pretty much saving the franchise, some people considered his popularity to be a case of jumping the shark.
  • Most recently, The Authority, has become this.

    Role-Playing Games 

    Sports 
  • 49.5% of all baseball-related news will be about the New York Yankees. 49.5% will be about the Boston Red Sox. The other teams are evenly divided among the remaining 1%.
    • In Chicago, there's the Cubs and that Black Sox Scandal team on the South Side.
  • In Ireland, GAA news is divided 60% Dublin Gaelic football, 30% Cork hurling, 10% the rest. Neither is the best team, but they have the highest populations and can thus boost newspaper sales more.
  • Before 2012, Notre Dame's football team last won a national championship when Reagan was president, yet they have enough clout that they're the only team (as opposed to conference) to have an exclusive deal with a major television network.
  • Hockey Night in Canada, due to various licensing agreements with teams and broadcast agreements, was widely seen as "The Toronto Maple Leafs Show" with the occasional spinoff "The Montreal Canadiens and Someone Else". This problem eased significantly when the show went to a two-game format, the later game finally allowing the western Canadian teams to get regular national airtime.
    • It's STILL the "Toronto Maple Leafs Show", not just on Hockey Night but on every Canadian-produced sports show/channel, because essentially all of Canada's media is located in Toronto and they hammer that fact in every single moment they can.
      • A fun game is to take a shot for every time the Toronto Maple Leafs are mentioned during a game they are not even in! Even more irritating is during the playoffs, where they haven't qualified for in seven years. That certainly does not stop HNiC from bringing them up.
  • In the Philippines, most news about the NCAA/UAAP will involve men's basketball. I heard there were other sports, but...
  • Coverage of football dominates sports news in the UK both in newspapers and on TV, even during the off season when no games are actually being played (transfer news makes up the difference). Only the Olympics and the Ashes stand a reasonable chance of displacing football off the back pages, and then only during the summer and if England/GBR are doing well.
  • Brett Favre. He's undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, but the amount of media attention he received in what is ostensibly a team sport bordered on the insane. In 2009, he returned to Green Bay (his old team) to play as the QB of the Minnesota Vikings (their hated rival). Fox dedicated a camera to watch him for the entire game and fans could watch a webcast of that view exclusively. Even though he wasn't on the field for half the game!
    • During one of Favre's retirements, ESPN interrupted SportsCenter for live coverage of him getting off a plane en route to a press conference.
  • After Favre's (final) retirement, the media fixated on Tim Tebow in the same way. Before his first snap with the Denver Broncos, he was dominating gobs of coverage on SportsCenter and other programs pretty much entirely because of his outspoken personal views... but networks took it to the point where every move Tebow made was being obsessively followed by cameramen, even when he wasn't saying a word to them. It got to the point where, during the 2011 season, pre-season starting QB Kyle Orton was eventually released by the Denver Broncos to allow Tebow to take over at quarterback — not necessarily because Tebow was better, but because the fans stole Orton's spotlight for Tebow.
  • Mention to someone not from the UK that you're from anywhere in the vicinity of Manchester and you'll get something along the lines of 'Oh, so you're a Manchester United fan?'. Tell them you're a Manchester City fan, who play in the same league and locally have almost the same level of support (different areas of the city), and they used look at you blankly. That's changed a bit in the 2010s, after the Abu Dhabi oil barons replaced the sacked former Thai prime minister as owner at Man City.
  • Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin interchangeably serve as the NHL's Brett Favre.
    • Most egregious example coming from Crosby's long injury status. He was out for over a full season, yet all news coverage about hockey still revolved around him. Jeremy Roenick even lampshades this by saying they ought to stop talking about Crosby until there are actual updates on his health. He gets blasted for it by his colleagues!
  • In India, cricket manages to be an SSS to not only any and every other sport, but even billion-dollar corruption issues and state elections!
  • Spain suffers from pretty much the same football obsession the UK does, except Real Madrid and Barcelona seem to be the only teams existing in the whole country.
    • Tell anybody that you live in Madrid. Despite the fact that there are 5 First and Second Division teams based on that Community and 3 on the city itself, you'll rarely find anybody who doesn't assume you support Real.
  • Brazil has a football obsession in religious levels - though the Olympics and volleyball also get some love. And nationwide press basically just pays attention to the big 4 of both Rio and Săo Paulo (being the biggest two cities/states and the headquarters of the big media companies helps the other states being treated as a Flyover Country), getting even worse if one of those 8 hires a big name player or wins a major championship.
    • Things are a bit worse than that. There are 2 teams from that group that gets even more attention. Flamengo and Corinthians are really popular and won some titles but that turns every single national sports news into 45% to each of those teams and 10% to the other "Big Ones".
    • You're talking about Stealing Spotlight in Brazilian soccer without talking about Neymar?
  • In the 2010-2011 NBA season, the Miami Heat got to near Creator's Pet levels of coverage after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the team. Fortunately, the hoopla over the Heat was greatly reduced the following season, mainly because there were more intriguing stories to talk about (i.e., the lockout, the Knicks' extremely erratic season with coach shakeups and Jeremy Lin, injuries galore, Dwight Howard's will-he-or-won't-he stay in Orlando).
    • The Lakers, early favorites to three-peat, were a SSS in that same season, to the point that Fox Sports had a section on their website devoted to both the Lakers and the Heat called "Heat or 3Peat", essentially scheduling the NBA Finals before the season even started! Funnily enough, the NBA champions that year were not either of these teams, but the Dallas Mavericks, who beat both teams en route to the title.
  • National soccer news in the Netherlands has a tendency to become "AFC Ajax and some other teams". Granted, AFC Ajax is the most successful team in the league, but it irks people when "their" team wins the league and then it's still about how Ajax didn't win it.
  • With the return of the Winnipeg Jets to the NHL, the focus from all Canadian sports outlets seems to have shifted to the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
  • The quarterback position in American football and the pitcher position in baseball are especially prone to this and will always get a greater share of the credit or blame than they deserve. The goalkeeper position in hockey and soccer/football are often this trope as well.
  • In the tennis world, try watching an ATP match between two other players than Roger Federer in a tournament he's in and take a shot every time the commentators mention him. Or a tournament he's been knocked out of. Hell, even a tournament he never entered in the first place. Or women's tournaments. Or wheelchair tennis. Or any article on men's tennis written in the past nine years. You will die.
  • Michael "Air" Jordan stole the spotlight from Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry "Legend" Bird during the late 80s and into the 90s.
  • ESPN, especially its flagship program SportsCenter, usually gets accused of basically just being "NFL Live", with all non-football athletes being Demoted to Extra.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Warhammer 40,000 is this trope, with the Space Marines being its most pure example...if you ask many Warhammer players, anyway. The latest Marine release saw a White Dwarf giving them coverage equivalent to a Catholic newspaper during a papal visit. It's not that Warhammer and The Lord of the Rings players mind Games Workshop focusing on 40K because that's where the money is, but being treated as ablative shielding?
    • White Dwarf does that with every new release. The Stompa, a single model, got 1 1/2 issues devoted to it.
      • White Dwarf has an annoying tendency to overhype every single new release, but nowadays it seems like the entire magazine is either about Dark Eldar, Blood Angels, or Skaven.
    • TSOALR reports this has been reversed.
    • The Games Workshop website prefaces going on it with a selection of countries to be redirected to a corresponding variant of their website. Underneath this selection is a large image of the double-headed Imperial Eagle icon from Warhammer 40,000, and not really anything else.
    • Several armies have some sub-factions that qualify for this trope. Especially the Ultramarines for the Space Marines. Just look at the latest Space Marine codex, in which the majority of chapters get one named special unit each, specifically in the HQ slot. The Ultramarines get about six. And that's only scratching the surface of the codex, since it has several sections devoted to only the Ultramarines, 90% of the artwork in the codex is of the ultramarines, and as if that is not enough, there are just as many Ultramarines miniatures on displayed in the codex as all the other chapters combined, if not more. Indeed, many fans did not like this at all due to the fact that their favorite chapters being pushed aside in favor of a chapter only some people are fans of. Matt Ward, the writer of the codex, even admitted himself that he was a die-hard fan for the Ultramarines, and sincerely apologized for this. At least one should be thankful that several other chapters have their own separate codices, so they don't get pushed aside in favor of another chapter, but geez!
      • There is a certain amount of Hate Dumb at work, however - the Ultramarines' share of special characters is lower than any previous codex (they now have about 50%, where in previous Codexes there were only two non-Ultramarine special characters, if that. Similarly, 90% of the artwork is always about the Ultramarines, because GW doesn't want to mix up the box art and confuse customers.
      • Those of us who remember 2nd edition find the idea that the Ultramarines have steadily got more prominent somewhat amusing. In 2nd edition there wasn't actually a Codex: Space Marines for the standard chapters, there was just Codex: Ultramarines, which could be used to make armies from other chapters if you wanted to paint them in some other way. The background was entirely focused on Ultramar and the Ultramarines, ALL the special characters were Ultramarines, and funnily enough nobody complained about it. Indeed, long-term Ultramarines players who date from this era often consider the other Codex chapters as something of a spotlight-stealing squad, forcing their Ultramarines out of their own codex and trying to make it more of an ensemble piece. The other three major chapters - Dark Angels, Blood Angels and Space Wolves - have not had their books usurped in this manner!
      • It Got Worse. He has taken to writing every Space Marine codex since then and small notes have been taken. Such as the Grey Knights being cut down from 3,000 to 1,000 marines making up their chapter and suddenly becoming codex adherent. Making this statement in an interview didn't help cheer up many Blood Angels players either: "Indeed, it was Guilliman who would have the greatest lasting effect upon the now leaderless Blood Angels. Through the Codex Astartes - that great treatise on the restructuring and ordering of the Space Marines - Guilliman's legacy would reshape the Blood Angels Legion into the Chapters that defend the Imperium to this day."
    • The real issue is that Space Marines in general get too much support (model-wise and rules-wise) and are generally treated as the protagonists of Warhammer40000 to an excessive degree. Who else gets modular plastic HQ characters (Chaos doesn't count, they're still Space Marines)? Who else can build a competitive army entirely from the plastics? Who else can build an army that does anything and does it nearly as well as the specialized armies? Who else has bleeding special characters who make all your guys Fearless, except when you want them not to be? Warhammer Fantasy doesn't have a single army that is the focus of everything like that. Every army is competitive, has a decent selection of plastic models, and has a significant presence in the population of players, but when you go to a 40k tournament it is a safe bet that three in four armies you face will be some variant of Space Marines.
      • This tendency to face Space Marine armies in competitive tournament play has also caused Complacent Gaming Syndrome among those competing. An army's success depends on that army's commander's knowledge of the units and rules of Space Marines and their own army's ability to effectively counter and kill those Space Marines.
    • This is fully noticeable in the lineup of codex releases. Prior to 5th edition, Space Marines would be released at the start of the edition, with maybe their Chaos Counterparts getting a later release. After that all of the other codex releases would be of the other races and factions. After 5th Edition, there appears to be an unspoken rule that there must be at least one space marine codex release between each other "non space marine" codex. When they actually ran out of codexes to update, the Daemonhunters got demoted into the aforementioned "Grey Knights" and was now deemed a "space marine" codex.
  • The Munchkin would love to be this in any tabletop RPG game.
  • A bad or inexperienced GM can bring this trope to any RPG. Either by bringing out the dreaded GM PC, overemphasizing an NPC (either canon or homemade) to the exclusion of the players, or even playing favorites within the players.
    • This is one of the worst features of the otherwise pretty good Forgotten Realms setting: the canon NPCs are so prominent and so godlike that PCs faced with a tough (for them) problem are likely to find themselves thinking "You know, we could just go home and have a beer, and let Elminster snap his fingers and fix this." Greyhawk had some insanely powerful mages also, but they're treated mostly as being ancient history rather than still active in the world (some of them are still alive, but retired/gone mad/so focused on their own esoteric concerns that just getting their attention can be an adventure in itself).
  • The Old World of Darkness had similar problems to the Forgotten Realms, in that far too many modules came down to watching the uberpowerful canon NPCs doing things. Even moreso, though, were the Tremere, Salubri, and Tzimisce clans in Vampire: The Masquerade, who received far more emphasis than any other. The nadir of the line was the final supplement, Gehenna, which presented a "grand finale" option for the entire Old World of Darkness that amounted to the player characters surviving to be the last survivors of the Kindred so they can witness the Salubri kill the Tremere and then fight the Tzimisce.

    Theater 
  • There's a little-known Affectionate Parody of Les Misérables out there that spoofs this trope. The character Eponine, typically somewhere between The Woobie and the Clingy Jealous Girl, here never outgrew her spoiled brat tendencies from when she was younger, and tries to get the audience's attention in every scene she's in. This may be an attempt to take a popular interpretation of her, that she's a proxy for the reader/audience, to its logical extreme.
  • Despite being in the title, Othello gets less focus then Iago does.
  • Cirque du Soleil's Nouvelle Experience has The Everyman as its protagonist and primary clown and the Adipose Rex Madame Corporation as the ruler of the Magical Land he's swept into...but it's her right-hand man The Great Chamberlain who logs the most stage time of the individual characters. He appears in many of the transitional scenes, tries to keep the Korean plank act running smoothly, and is prominently in the background of two other acts (aerial straps and foot juggling). Finally, even though performer Brian Dewhurst was hired for the show just to do character work, his previously-established comedy wirewalking act was incorporated into the show during rehearsals, pretty much cementing the Chamberlain's status as a show-stealer. Dewhurst has performed a variety of onstage roles and behind the scenes duties in subsequent Cirque productions, and five years after Nouvelle Experience closed, The Great Chamberlain was even brought back to serve as the Mascot of Cirque's website for several years.
  • The King and I was originally a starring vehicle for Gertrude Lawrence. However, Yul Brynner's performance as the King was such that Anna is now the secondary focus of the show, despite the fact that the King sings exactly once and has much less stage time.

     Video Games  
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The picture refers to Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Much of the late game focuses on the siblings Julia and Julius, who have inherited divine powers and in Julius' case, the consciousness of an evil god-dragon) from their rare bloodlines. Seliph doesn't exactly get pushed to the background, but most of the dialogue is centered around the twins and Seliph learning of his relationship to them.
      • Leif from the same game and his group is a good example. The plot regarding Thracia spans around 3 out of 6 chapters in the second generation of the game. Its also pretty apparent that the developer put much more details towards the Thracia plotline more than the other plotline in the second half, including the main plot itself. That being said, there is a good reason why the next game in the series is all about Thracia.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn switches between three armies. One of these armies is lead by the hero of the previous game, Ike. About halfway through the game this pretty much becomes Ike's game. Micaiah's left in the dust. Heck, the trailer makes it seem like Micaiah is going to be highly important in part 3. While she is, there are far more opportunities to use Ike's new party than the Dawn Brigadiers.
      • However, nobody really suffers this as much as the heroes of Part 2 - a Let's Play of Radiant Dawn mentions that the characters in Part 2 are generally flawed because they have such limited availability throughout the game - Elincia manages to still remain important, but she's pretty much Demoted to Extra during part 3. However, in part 4, Elincia and the Dawn Brigade manage to join everyone.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening plays with this back and forth, in regards to both Chrom's Shepherds, the Avatar, and their children from the future. The first part of the game focuses on Chrom, his (royal) family, and the Shepherds. Once the war with Valm comes in, we are introduced to Lucina, Chrom's daughter from the future. She mentions, in addition to trying to stop Grima from coming back to life, that there are other children who have come with her. Seems like a shift in focus, right? Actually, Lucina and the children are peripheral to the plot, the Valm arc carries on, and the final arc, which entails Grima's resurrection, focuses far more on the Avatar than on the kids.
  • Soulcalibur:
    • Even though its name is in the title from the second game on, the Soulcalibur itself barely matters. The sole element of the series that has any impact at all is Soul Edge. Of course, Soul Edge is the title of the first game, and would have been the series title if not for trademark issues.
    • The ad campaign(s) for Soulcalibur 2 led many people who believed them to be surprised when they found out that Link, Heihachi, and Spawn were actually not the only playable characters. Hard to say which ad campaigns were the worst at only showing Link, Spawn, or Heihachi.
      • Each of them also appears quite prominently on the cover of their respective version's box, despite having no role in the canon story.
      • In hindsight, Soulcalibur 2 pretty much created a trend still present in the series now, where majority of the marketing campaign for each subsequent game has focused more on the guest characters (Star Wars characters in SCIV, Ezio in SCV, Kratos in Broken Destiny), while the Soul Edge saga and the continuing stories of the recurring characters have seemingly fallen on the wayside
    • From the look of the box art of Soul Blade, you wouldn't really think much of the blond haired guy right? Well, that guy is Siegfried Schtauffen, who has effectively become the main character since SoulCalibur 1 despite not owning the titular sword until IV. He's the only character to own both Soul Edge and Soul Calibur at different points in the series becoming BOTH the Big Bad and The Hero. You can even see how important he became overtime by comparing his original concept art and his artwork in IV. Of course, this ended up making him a likable character.
    • To be more specific: the original Soul Edge had no central protagonist, but Sophitia and Siegfried are arguably the most prominent because the former destroys one half of Soul Edge, while the latter becomes the Big Bad under its power. Soul Calibur had Xianghua as its protagonist, as per Word of God (she originally wielded the holy sword before Siegfried did). II once again had no protagonist, though it did promote several new characters as being of great importance, but Siegfried, as Nightmare, is starting to steal the spotlight. By III, he's the full-blown protagonist.
  • The King of Fighters does this, a lot. However, they change up the characters, and the old focuses become peripheral. Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami's intense rivalry was the main focus of 'KOF '95-'97, but with that matter settled, Kyo became a secondary character. In some games, he was put in only to appease fans. For the record: '95-'97 was Kyo and Iori, '99-2001 was K' and Kula, and 2003, XI, and XIII are Ash Crimson.
    • '94. The big story for that one was the dream matchup between the Fatal Fury Team (Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higahsi) and Art of Fighting Team (Ryo Sakazaki, Robert Garcia, Takuma Sakazaki), made very clear by title sequence and every victory comment each member delivers to the other team. Today, not only do most KOF players probably not even know what games they're from, Takuma has completely vanished, Andy has been reduced to an occasional bit player, and Joe and Robert are tenuously clinging to trusty sidekick status.
  • Mortal Kombat spends a great deal of the storyline focus on rivals Scorpion and Sub-Zero. But, as they're the headliners for the games, they're the ones who got the most attention; many of the characters seemed to be designed solely as one-off characters (like Stryker), or that the others underwent ridiculous plot changes to try and make them viable again (Raiden becoming evil, Liu Kang dying, etc.).
    • Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei in general are a Spotlight-Stealing Squad all their own, what with the Lin Kuei trying to kill Sub-Zero in MK3 with three killer cyborg ninjas (one of whom was once his old friend Smoke), Noob Saibot turning out to be the elder (evil) Sub-Zero Back from the Dead, Frost taking him on as a mentor in the later games, and Scorpion relentlessly pursuing him (at least until one of the later games' Big Bads was revealed to be the one who murdered Scorpion's family).
    • Sub-Zero got a platformer named Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero, in which Scorpion appears as an antagonist and most of the other characters were those that debuted in MK4.
  • Zero of Mega Man X started stealing the spotlight in X4 then completely took over the plot in X5 and X6. Keiji Inafune, the creator of the series, actually wanted to end the main series at X5 primarily so he could get to work on the new Mega Man Zero series. (Executive Meddling prevailed, with questionable results.) Once Inafune moved on, Axl actually stole the spotlight from the other two characters in X7, and to a lesser degree in X8.
  • While the Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl makes an effort to balance the screen time between most of the non-unlockable characters, it becomes apparent that the biggest movers of the action are Kirby, Meta Knight, and Dedede. All are characters from the Kirby series, which was created by Masahiro Sakurai, who designed SSBB. note 
  • In Tales of Eternia, Rassius appears to be important and important enough for everyone to mourn his death and treat it as a major plot point. despite that the story put so much emphasis on him and Farah when he was in the party.
  • Dan Smith, one of the seven multiple personalities of the Killer7 gets an entire chapter devoted to his character's backstory and is more often than not the selected persona during the animated cutscenes. Mask de Smith also gets a disproportional amount of screentime compared to the others, as does Garcian Smith (justifiably so in Garcian's case). It should be noted that Suda51 admitted that he didn't have time to do everything he wanted in this game, which may explain why we never find out much about Kaede, Coyote, Con, or Kevin.
  • Namco × Capcom was originally conceived with just the Namco characters; Capcom was brought into the picture later, and it shows. They did a good job integrating the Capcom characters into the plot, but most of the important plot points are still from the Namco side of things; the Capcom characters are just sort of... there.
  • Silhouette Mirage revolves around a war between the strength-based Silhouettes and the intelligence-based Mirages. In practice, though, the Silhouettes are pretty much background flavor in the plot. There are mooks of both attributes, along with neutral-attribute Humongous Mecha... piloted by Mirages. There are Mirage bosses, and there are Silhouette bosses... who mostly work for the Mirages, if they aren't just random. And the dual-attribute Guardian Angel bosses who menace you throughout the game? Yep, they're Mirage creations.
  • The Rabbids of the Rayman series have commandeered the franchise to the point it's branched off into two series; actual Rayman platforming games and a series of minigame collections starring them. They were also guest fighters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up.
    • Prior to the branching of the series, they had been increasingly stealing the spotlight from Rayman, with the second Rabbids game featuring him wearing a Rabbid outfit for the whole game, and finally with the third one removing him altogether. Even worse, the focus on them caused Rayman 4 to get cancelled and resulted in Rayman fans having to wait almost a decade for the next main game to come out. All of that, coupled with the fact that they caused the series to go through a dramatical Genre Shift (in fact, the Rabbids games are pretty much Rayman In Name Only), get casualized and lose quality (if critics and long time fans are to be believed), made them Scrappys among Rayman fans.
  • In Twinbee, the spotlight spends more time on Pastel.
  • In the Super Robot Wars Original Generation sub-series of Super Robot Wars, Kyosuke Nanbu, and to a lesser extent, his girlfriend Excellen Browning. The first Original Generation game's almost considered Super Robot Wars Alpha, with extra originals and no other series characters, but other than those who appeared in Alpha (Masaki Andoh included), Kyosuke's included and he becomes one of the main protagonists. He certainly isn't meant to be the main character of the first game (since the second half of his story enters Canon Discontinuity), but the sequel promotes him to full-blown protagonist in a more ridiculous manner, by having his and Excellen's Super Robot Wars Compact 2/Impact story taking center stage, while conceiving Evil Twin Beowulf, with links him to the Super Robot Wars Advance plot indirectly, as it makes Kyo The Rival to Axel Almer, even though Axel's appropriate rival is supposedly Lamia Loveless (did we mention Compact 2/Impact plot's the only plot thus far that makes his relationship with Excellen very vital to the story?) Not spotlight stealing enough?
    • Additionally, Kyosuke owes much of the spotlight to Wolverine Publicity: excluding Masou Kishin-centric titles, any Original Generation-based game (including its Gaiden Games) will have either Kyosuke, his Expy or any variant of his Humongous Mecha Alt Eisen displayed on the game cover.
    • In Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden can be easily called Super Robot Wars Tetsuya Gaiden, thanks to more than half of the stages revolves around Tetsuya, his insanely high availability, and according to side materials, unknowingly plays a huge role inside the Big Bad's plan. Even worse since while Kyosuke is an original character, he's not.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series:
  • Darkstalkers. Was at first about Demitri Maximoff; after the first game, Morrigan Aensland clearly becomes the focus even when you add in an anti-Christ in the last game. It's so bad that most fans know who Morrigan is, but have no clue on what game she's really from. This is even mocked (to nearly fourth wall-breaking proportions) in Cross Edge (where Morrigan, Felicia, Demitri, Lilith, and Jedah make an appearance). In one particular part of the postgame segments, after defeating a revived Jedah and teaming up with him, the Darkstalkers engage in a lengthy discussion of how Demitri originally was the main character, until Morrigan's popularity usurped his title of protagonist. Lilith expresses surprise at this, believing that Morrigan was always the heroine of the story, but in the end, she doesn't quite care, as she—being a part of Morrigan herself—is almost always guaranteed at least a cameo whenever Morrigan shows up.
  • Who doesn't do this to their Sim families. All of the sudden, you remember there's a whole freakin' neighborhood. It's rather... odd.
  • The .hack games are notorious about this. The first four games had about two dozen of characters, but only about 6 were any important. And of those 6, most lost importance as soon as their roles in the main plot were done - most notably, Balmung. As soon as he joins the main party, he becomes nothing but a tool.
    • And G.U. isn't all that better. While most of the characters do contribute for the plot somewhat, by the end of Redemption most of them are, again, mere tools. This applies even for Atoli, who was a major character in the previous two games (heck, Reminisce is pretty much all about her) only to get a single plot-relevant moment... at the ending.
  • SaGa does this quite a bit, especially when you pick your cast. (It is a rather underappreciated hybrid of western and eastern RPGs with Loads and Loads of Characters after all)
  • The pros in Backyard Sports. The advertising REVOLVES around them rather than the neighborhood kids. From their first appearance onwards, they are easily the best players in the game, leaving the kids, who have much worse stats, unnecessary to beat the game. Well, except Memetic Badass Pablo, but that's a tradition.
    • In fact, Backyard Skateboarding is written from the perspective of Andy McDonald (the only pro player in the game), despite the fact that there are eleven other playable characters, six of whom are available from the start just like McDonald.
  • Etna, The Lancer from Disgaea, has gotten more and more focus over the years, playing a large role in Disgaea 2, featured predominantly in spinoff titles such as Cross Edge, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and it's sequel, and Trinity Universe, and Etna Mode (which is essentially a "What if Laharl had never reawakened") in the PSP version of the first Disgaea. However, with Disgaea 3's Raspberyl Mode and Disgaea 4, it appears that Etna has been ditched in favor of Flonne, especially considering that's she's an Archangel now. And as for Laharl?. The only subsequent game to give him an important role is Disgaea Infinite.
  • Shadow from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, who has had the most plot focus of any character for a while. He even managed to star in his own game. Then, he and Silver took over Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), to the extent that you only play as the title character for about a third of the game, and he has far less plot connection to the Big Bad of the game than Shadow and Silver do. The series starting with Sonic Unleashed have stopped focusing on him so much.
    • It's argued that Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) isn't even about Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • In Star Fox, Krystal became this for a while by becoming the sole focus in Star Fox Command with a surprising amount of the story revolving around her feelings towards Fox. She manages to be the focus of 5 out of the 9 endings, more than any other character in the game. Many people tend to forget the main plot involves saving the Lylat System from the Anglar.
  • Much of the flak directed towards the Soda Poppers in Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police games was because they were overly focused upon throughout the first season, at the expense of other side characters. As a result, the second season was filled with anti-Poppers Fanservice, leading them to get Killed Off for Real.
  • In Guild Wars Factions the story was pretty much centered on Mhenlo and Togo, rather overshadowing the players. During cutscenes, all the players could hope for was to stand in the background and cheer while one of these was doing the talking. And more than one mission was an Escort Mission where you needed to get one or both of these to the end of the level so they could do the important stuff. Nightfall and to a lesser extend Eye of the North solved that problem by centering the cutscenes on the players and their (much more useful) NPC helpers. Unfortunately, the announcements of Guild Wars 2's story give a worrying amount of attention to an NPC group of heroes called Destiny's Edge, which the player will need to put back together to fight the Big Bad. We can only hope the players won't be reduced to cheerleading squad again.
    • They have. One of the biggest gripes from the fanbase about Guild Wars 2's campaign is that the entire second half of the story focuses on Trahearne, a supporting character, and his rise to leading The Pact to combat Zhaitan, with the player essentially running errands for him. He has nothing to do with the final mission against the Big Bad, but the player's celebration is invariably cut short when Destiny's Edge shows up out of nowhere with a macguffin ship to save the day. One begins to wonder why the player character has any screen time in the cutscenes.
  • The second half of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn might as well be called "Sveta Upstages Everybody". However, Golden Sun games are notorious for Flat Characters, and the extra screentime gives Sveta more Character Development, so it actually works out in her favor, and the fans love her. Tropes Are Not Bad!
  • Princess Ashelia "Ashe" B'nargin Dalmasca from Final Fantasy XII. Granted, the narrator tells you outright this is her story, but Vaan, initially presented as the main character, is demoted to Plucky Comic Relief.
    • Though its worth noting that in development, that was all Vaan's role was supposed to be. Originally either Ashe or Basche was supposed to be the main character, but due to Executive Meddling, Vaan got shoehorned into the lead role due to his Bishōnen appearance.
  • In the Dynasty Warriors series, Zhao Yun has been the cover boy for nearly every (at least non-expansion or Spin-Off) game. But in DW7, where individual Musou modes were scrapped for Kingdom-based stories, nearly each kingdom has one with the most notable ones being Xiahou Dun, Sun Quan, and Sima Zhao from the kingdoms of Wei, Wu, and Jin respectively who have the most stages than any characters. While it may be justified for Sun Quan (who was often overshadowed by his father and older brother) and to a lesser degree Sima Zhao, the fact that Xiahou Dun is playable in battles that not only he did not really take part in historicallynote  but battles that could've gone to characters who were without stages yet being involved in them historically raised a few eyebrows.
  • In World of Warcraft, this is a complaint about Thrall and his satellite love interest Aggra, stemming mostly from their completely unnecessary inclusion in Patch 4.2 (which was otherwise about Malfurion's Druids and the Firelands), and the Dragon Aspects and Twilight's Hammer insistence that without Thrall the world is doomed. It doesn't help that, as Thrall was previously the Orc faction leader, many Alliance players are sick of him getting the spotlight, while Horde players are upset he is now neutral. In 4.3, the entire Hour of Twilight dungeon is an Escort Mission for Thrall, and he plays a large part in the Dragon Soul raid, getting to wield the titular object, being presented as the Big Good, and ultimately getting to strike the killing blow; even though out of all the characters present he has the smallest connection to Deathwing. The raid also concludes with him getting a Babies Ever After ending. By the time Cataclysm was over, even his fans were starting to get a little sick of him.
  • Phoenix Wright in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, despite what the title would have you believe. He completely takes over the first case solving almost everything for you, while in the last case, he makes things a lot easier than they should be for Apollo. Also, much of the game revolves around his case 7 years ago.
    • While most examples of this trope strictly fall under either tropes are not bad and tropes are not good, Phoenix manages to be an example of both. Fans were originally upset over the main cast of the series being completely replaced, so Phoenix's involvement was something of a Hope Spot for enraged fans. After the game's release, many fans felt that Apollo was a lackluster main character and grew to dislike him, but this may be due to the fact that he never really had a chance to develop due to Phoenix's heavy involvement in the plot.
    • And ironically, despite the next game, Dual Destinies, putting Phoenix back in the spotlight with Apollo seemingly Demoted to Extra, it managed to develop Apollo much more than Apollo's own game did, to the point where fans now finally think of him as a character who can stand up on his own right. Of course, Athena Cykes managed to play one to both of them, but this is understandable seeing as she's a new character.
  • Midna from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has most of the plot focused on her, which ended up putting Princess Zelda and even Link himself Out of Focus compared to most other Zelda games.
  • In Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Ayane gets a disproportionate amount of screen time during the last half of the story mode, while the protagonist Kasumi is left in the dust.
  • Raiden was something of an invocation of this trope in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty; you played as him for 3/4ths of the game, but all of the advertising was focused on Snake.
    • Hideo Kojima has said the intention of the story was to develop the Solid Snake Character from a third person perspective.
  • Most of Super Mario Galaxy's plot focused on Rosalina than on Mario, Peach, and Bowser (especially noticable with Peach, as outside of her letters, she doesn't have any dialogue at all). This is not really a bad thing, since it was her debut game and the development she got made her quite popular. In fact, her near-exclusion from the sequel was one of the few problems that was really commonly held about it.
  • Fritz from Brain Dead 13. Definitely Fritz. He even has a spot in the box art which says "Starring Fritz". Not bad for a Determinator maniac who is so hell-bent on using so many ways to kill Lance.
  • Vaas from Far Cry 3: he takes over the cover of the game, is featured in most advertisements and gets more screen time than the real Big Bad of the game. With few complaints.
    • Not to mention many fans were upset when after all that build up, he becomes a basic boss fight and is killed off early. Many fans felt the storyline went downhill afterwards.
  • Kagura Mutsuki of Blazblue: Chronophantasma. Much of the Chronophantasma and Sector Seven story arcs deal with him and his attempted coup against the Imperator, despite being a relative newcomer to the story. The creators seem to be aware of this; in the PS Vita port, there is a scenario where Ragna and Kagura play a volleyball game to decide who should have the title of the game's main protagonist.
  • The Kanto starters (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle) in Pokémon X and Y ultimately end up taking the spotlight away from the Kalos starters (Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie). They are added to your party with much fanfare shortly after earning your first badge and come with Eviolite with which to Mega Evolve, which none of the Kalos starters can claim.

     Web Animation  
  • Thanks to Strong Bad Emails being the most popular segment on the site, Strong Bad tends to appear in more Homestar Runner toons than the titular character. This is even lampshaded when Strongbad tells Homestar that no one comes to HR.com site to see Homestar.
  • Ultra Fast Pony references the accusations of spotlight stealing in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: the episode that introduces the Cutie Mark Crusaders is titled "Out with the Old Characters".

     Web Comics  
  • Achewood used to focus on Teodor, Philipp, Cornelius and Lyle living in the Onstad house, with a fairly large and diverse supporting cast. Now the strip focuses mostly on Roast Beef and to a lesser extent Ray.
    • It used to be the other way around, with Ray getting most of the spotlight and Roast Beef as first runner-up. Lampshaded here, where an "Achewood generator" lists five or six different possibilities for a strip's subject matter, supporting cast, plot elements, etc, but the only option for "Primary Character" is Ray.
  • Cheer may have a four-girl main cast, but Alex and Lita have been focused on so much that the other two (Jo and Sam) fall by the wayside.
  • Concession has managed to shift the focus more towards characters who had little to do with the movie theatre and more with about Joel's ambitions and college life rather than stupid customers and the stuff at the concession stand...admittedly Immelmann knew of this, and has actually put an arc that takes place at the concession stand back in, while still putting emphasis on Joel's revenge scheme as well. He also admits that most characters won't get arcs, and even made fun of it a few time. (It even says so in the "About" section to show you how aware of the spotlight stealing Plot Tumor)
  • In Homestuck, Vriska Serket is an intentional example. She's not one of the initial trolls introduced, but she quickly gains more panel time and becomes very important to the plot. It's actually part of her personality to force herself into the story; she even thinks she's the one who is going to kill the Disc One Final Boss, and later the Big Bad.
    • The trolls in general. The series is about four kids playing a game. Then a few trolls pop up and start having conversations with the kids in Act 3. Then they have more conversations in Act 4. The first subact of Act 5 is solely about the troll's group and the narrative keeps going back to them even after that.
  • N Fans The Series, a comic that actually played the Self Insert cast rather well was rather notorious for this, consisting mostly of Webster Swenson and Pchan (Both the main author and the best friend OF said main author respectively). This wasn't as apparent in the comic's early days (Even when the cast consisted only of about 6 people), but when the cast expanded to have Loads and Loads of Characters, it became highly evident that at least half of the cast was going to be just shown as being in a crowd or fall almost completely to the wayside in favour of Webster Swenson and Pchan.
    • Team Lalala was literally standing in the exact same place for about a year, while the plot fixated on Webster Swenson and Pchan, with occasional sidestories about tech support or the other teams. At least half the cast was Put on a Bus.
  • Ellen and Nanase of El Goonish Shive can veer here pretty often. They get most of the more eventful plots, and while other characters tend to slide to the background during given storylines the two of them have played a major role in every multi-chapter story to date, arguably the central role in everything but the original Sister. Even then, its climax and falling act revolved around the two of them. The most egregious case is Painted Black, which centered around Elliot being kidnapped and Grace's backstory coming out and they still likely got over half the screen time.
    • The two are also used front and center in a disproportionately large amount of fillers in relation to the rest of the cast.
    • The storylines have exploded in length. According to the once-kept stats page, Elliot and Grace are still far and above in the most strips and central characters in the most storylines, but you'd never know because you've spent the last four or so years in Tedd's living room and the girl's bathroom at school. And of course, out of those last four years, we've gotten eighteen month's worth of actual comic.
    • Now that the Ellen/Nanase arc has ended, Dan has taken his fandom's advice and is keeping them very much in the background, focusing on the characters he's been neglecting. It helps that one of the most interesting parts of Nanase's character, her magic, has been lost for a few months AND Elliot has enough to keep the fans happy.
  • While the author of Skin Deep has stated that it was about everyone and not just Michelle, the comic arcs since 2009 have pretty much seemingly aborted the arc that was being built up in the comic's early days, since now it's pretty much randomness and transformation in England. However; as of late 2011, the focus has gone back to Michelle.
    • The author has also stated many times that she has not forgotten about the Orientations story arc, but that both the Orientations and Exchanges stories are important to the overall comic. Orientations focuses on Michelle, who is a very unusual example of mythical creature facing a set of very unusual circumstances. Exchanges provides an example of more "normal" interaction between mythical creatures in the mythical society, in order to provide some world building and a sense of what can be considered the norm in a secret society full of non-humans. The Author has also expressed exasperation that people assume that she has just "forgotten" about the Michelle story, or has no intention of ever returning to it, when she has said many times that we will return to Michelle's story after the Exchanges story is over (which, remember, Orientations took two whole years to tell, and Exchanges has only gone on for a year and a half).
  • Checking the Bios page of The Foxfire Chronicles would make one quite confused as to the current story arc. Not only does the current arc take place in an entirely different setting with only one of the cast members shown on the page (With maybe another who shows up for a little while) having any role, but back when the other cast members did show up, the focus was almost entirely on Luke with Liegh and Mary maybe getting a few lines or focus every now and then. And General William Orville, the supposed antagonist, seems to have been Put on a Bus in the meantime...along with the other four supposed main characters. And once more, it doesn't help that we're lucky to get even two comics a month nowadays.
  • In Triangle and Robert, not only are the Sentries spotlight-stealers, and not only do the title characters start pointing it out around year 4, but due to the nature of the strip, they can make actual efforts to distract the cartoonist and keep the Sentries off-panel. This sometimes works, though never for too long. (It can also backfire: at one point the Sentries are gone for quite a while, and when they return, each one has to take a couple of weeks explaining the plot-important stuff he's been up to.)
  • Jordan and Bush from Exploitation Now. The author even lampshades it in the comic with the former two characters who started the series.
  • Looking for Group. Richard tends to steal the show whenever he is on panel, even if it's just one small line. The authors have claimed they could rename the comic "Richard Kills Stuff" and double the readerbase.
  • Intentionally averted with Hannelore and Marigold in Questionable Content. Jeph once noted that he has to work very hard to not turn the comic into "Bad Things Happen to Hanners and Marigold Daily".
  • Xanthe/"Trike Girl" from Sinfest starting around September of 2011 (either her or the effects of her actions) has quickly taken over the strip.
  • Chris from Sonichu started as a background character playing the role of (somehow) both Sonichu's biological father and his creator. He quickly became the hero of the story, shoving Sonichu into the background. However, in response to feedback from his "fans", he wrote himself out of the story to focus on Sonichu again, but then brought himself back. The final issue of the comic doesn't feature Chris at all, but the trope goes to Sonichu's children instead.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: As the different universes were progressively being revealed, there was surprise, but not an agreement about the unofficial name for U3 (such as U13 being "the Super Saiyans universe"). That is, until Bardock appeared. U3 is now essentially "Bardock's universe with those two guys from the OVAs".

     Web Original 
  • In an odd way, the Achievement Hunter portion of Rooster Teeth has become this for the company. Some people will easily recognize the likes of Geoff, Jack, Gavin and the like, but will be hard pressed to recognize someone like Burnie or Gus, unless they recognize their voices from Red vs. Blue.

     Western Animation  
  • One of the X-Men animated series is actually called Wolverine and the X-Men. Strangely though, other than making him team leader, the series actually focuses less on Wolverine than some other adaptations.
  • Family Guy may as well just be "The Brian and Stewie Show" in later seasons. Peter hasn't really suffered from it, but Chris and Lois have (whereas Meg's been Out of Focus for most of the show). More and more episodes are about Brian dating someone and the 150th episode special is completely about Brian and Stewie being trapped in a bank vault. In fact, said 150th episode was simply called "Brian and Stewie". They are the main characters of the 200th episode. Let's face it, it's all about them now. Not to mention the "Road To..." episodes, which focus on Brian and Stewie entirely. Another example of this would be the episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", where Peter flat-out states that this was a "Meg episode" and that he wouldn't blame the audience for changing the channel...the episode was actually more about Brian.
  • Raphael from the 2007 CGI TMNT. Much of the movie was focused almost exclusively on him to the point that the other turtles, especially Michelangelo and Donatello barely even had any screen-time. Leonardo had a decent amount of focus but much of it was pretty much centered on his strained relationship with Raphael. The typical canonical rule for all TMNT incarnations where Leonardo is the leader and the best fighter is thrown out the window in this movie where Raphael defeats Leonardo one-on-one whereas in most other continuities such as the Mirage Comics and the 2003 series, Leonardo is usually the most skilled warrior.
    • Leonardo has sometimes been accused of being a spotlight stealer by fans in the 2003 animated series. By far, Leonardo's had the most amount of one-on-one fights against powerful enemies to show off his skills (against Hun, Shredder, Karai, Rat King, the Ultimate Ninja, Kojima, etc.) while the other turtles, though they have their moments, don't have nearly as many solo battle scenes as Leo does to show off their abilities. Also, in the group battles, Leonardo is usually the one to deal the heavy damage to the main enemy while the other turtles contribute just enough to weaken the bad guy to the point where Leonardo deals the finishing blow (their battle against the Shredder in the "Return to New York" trilogy). Add in the fact that he's usually able to defeat his brothers in sparring matches almost effortlessly and him being able to defeat Splinter one-on-one in a sparring match during a later season, and you'll see why some people feel that Leo's the spotlight stealer for this particular show.
    • Raph seemed to be this in the first and second movie too, one possibility being that Raph tends to get into conflict which pushes the plot of the movie faster; in a long show they have more time to develop the characters. It was said that Leo was the "main" character of the 2k3 cartoon. It seemed like it was "Leo and his brothers" in other media as well.
  • Because of the Care Bears being the result of a greeting card and Merchandise-Driven, you can count on one hand the number of episodes that haven't been centered on the bears who actually wore clothes, or Brave Heart Lion. And you can count on one hand how many times Loyal Heart Dog even spoke let alone had his own episode.
  • GIR in his puppy suit from Invader Zim has dominated the most attention, even more so than the title character himself, appearing in Hot Topics nationwide. The puppy suit in particular has almost completely eclipsed GIR's true robot form, even though the robot form had more actual screentime in the show.
  • Helga from Hey Arnold! appeared more and more as the show went on, and by the end she had more episodes dedicated to her than any character but the titular character himself. (Even moreso than Gerald, Arnold's best friend). She also gets the lion's share of Character Development along with fellow Jerk with a Heart of Gold Harold, while Arnold himself became pretty flat and Out of Focus.
  • Prince Zuko became this in the second half of Season 3 of Avatar, though it's necessary as he had just pulled the Heel-Face Turn everyone's been hoping he'd pull for a long time now, and focus had to be put on its effects, not to mention there were just a few episodes left until the ending, so it was then or never.
  • The Chipettes from Alvin and the Chipmunks have gotten more and more screentime overtime, to the point where the last episode Ruby-Spears (the first showrunning company, followed by DiC) had produced for the series doesn't have Dave or the Chipmunks themselves in it. This was a byproduct of Girls Need Role Models.
  • The Land Before Time TV series reintroduces Chomper as a main character, who proceeds to hog the spotlight for most of the show. Most of the episodes centre around him and even in episodes that feature the return of other popular characters (such as Ali and Mo), Chomper still seems to get a B plot to focus on him.
  • Legion of Super Heroes had a moderate case of this, with the second season especially focusing on Brainiac 5 and the Superman duo.
  • The crew of Justice League Unlimited fully admit that they wished they could make a show about just The Question as played by Jeffery Combs. He was just that Crazy Awesome.
  • Bender from Futurama had dozens of episodes focusing on him, whereas characters like Leela and Zoidberg only had a handful.
    • In addition to that, almost every episode that didn't have him as the main character had him in a subplot, two of the movies had his name in the title (Bender's Big Score had more to do with Fry and Leela), and the two that didn't had very long subplots involving him.
    • Amy and Hermes are easily the most underused characters in the series. Season 6 tries to correct this by having one Hermes episode and two (!) Amy episodes. The catch? Both the Hermes and one of Amy's eps are centered on Bender.
    • Even Fry, the original main character of the series, isn't safe from this. As of Seasons 7 and 8, he's had even less plot focus and episodes centered on him than Leela. Most of the time he either serves as the resident Chew Toy or Crazy Awesome plot device.
  • June would do this in KaBlam!.
  • In Sonic Sat AM, Creator's Pet Princess Sally leaned more and more into centre stage to the point only she and Sonic seemed to have involvement in the majority of missions. Antoine was also prominent comic relief, even gaining four half-sized episodes devoted to his slapstick role.
    • Ever since her debut, Dulcy has had a tendency of stealing the spotlight, to the point that she had more screentime that every Freedom Fighter who isn't Sally or Sonic. In fact, the second season was pretty much centered on Sonic, Sally and Dulcy, which resulted in the rest of the characters being relegated to the background, and major game characters such as Knuckles (who back then was the franchise's most popular character after the title character), Amy and Metal Sonic getting skipped by the cartoon. Unsurprisingly, the season's most prominent writer revealed online that his favorite characters were Sonic, Sally and Dulcy.
    • The Freedom Fighters were pretty much this, especially during Season 1. Instead of focusing on the games' then playable characters Sonic and Tails, much screentime was dedicated to the show's original characters. Though at least Sonic still was the central character; Tails got turned into a Bratty Half-Pint who always stayed home while the Freedom Fighters fought Robotnik. Even his position as the Gadgeteer Genius was stolen by Rotor (and later Sally). Contrast with the games, where he's Sonic's sidekick, best friend and main ally.
    • If the show had gone on for another season, yet more original characters would have received the treatment. According to the head writer, the third season was going to have Robotnik replaced by Snively and then Ixis Naugus (an one-shot second season character) as the Big Bad, and there was going to be a story arc centered around Nicole. One cannot help but wonder if the writers were even aware that the cartoon was supposed to be a TV adaptation of a game franchise, with how they seemed to have such a strong aversion towards the source material's characters...
    • Keeping with the trend, Manic and Sonia were this in Sonic Underground, where they were the main characters along with Sonic. In the games, the main characters and Power Trio were Sonic, Tails (who was skipped by the show as a result of the focus on Sonic and his siblings) and Knuckles (who got relegated to appearing in only four episodes out of 40) instead. The rest of the Sonic Adventure cast was skipped as well, even though the cartoon existed for the sole reason of promoting it.
  • Randy Marsh and Butters Stotch of South Park became this as time went on. Cartman is as well, although that has been so since day one (the first episode was entitled "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe".)
  • Lance from Sym-Bionic Titan.
  • Starting as walk-ons in an episode of Space Ghost, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force stole the spotlight so thoroughly the episode wasn't aired until well after they gained their own show, purely based off the initial appearance.
  • The Simpsons
    • The show has been notorious for this much of the time, with the first season being almost entirely Bart-centric, then for a while it was even and then became Homer-centric seeing as Homer was a Breakout Character; nowadays the plots are almost entirely Lisa-centric, with Homer taking up the center of the subplots. This really all Depends On The Showrunner.
      • Fansite Dead Homer Society actually wrote a counterpoint to this. Long story short: Bart is the main character in about five or six episodes of the original season's thirteen, and his usage only declines from then on. Though he suffered from Wolverine Publicity, he wasn't that much more important than the rest of the family, all of whom get at least a few episodes prominently featuring them at the start.
    • Lady Gaga in the Season 23 finale. Not only did she appear on screen before any Springfieldian, she actually got more screentime than the Simpson family. Naturally, this didn't endear her to any Simpsons fans who aren't Gaga fans.
  • Total Drama:
    • Duncan, Heather, and Owen have the highest episode counts out of all of the contestants in the series. All three of them have made it to the final five of the first season without returning, Duncan and Owen have also been some of the few contestants to return in the game. All three of them were also finalists, which means that in certain countries they were picked as the season's winner.
    • Gwen and Courtney also received a lot of focus throughout the series, especially when the Love Triangle between them and Duncan took center-stage in World Tour.
    • Cody, who had not one but two subplots during World Tour, doubling his screentime.
    • In World Tour, newcomers Alejandro and Sierra receive a lot of focus, especially when they interact with any of the aforementioned Spotlight Stealers. It did not help when it became gradually obvious that Alejandro was Heather's long awaited canonical love interest, while also serving as the Big Bad of World Tour.
    • Zoey has had the most screentime of any second generation cast member, receiving ample focus in both Revenge of the Island and All-Stars. Her being in the spotlight is particularly strange in that she spends most of Revenge as a Satellite Love Interest and does not contribute anything to the plot of All-Stars until the very end of the season.
    • As of All-Stars Mike has also been hit with this status, with his multiple personalities receiving more spotlight than Mike himself (particularly villainous alter-ego Mal).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants might as well be called the Mr. Krabs vs. Plankton series featuring Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward due to the unhealthy amount of focus with them; most notably Mr. Krabs. It doesn't help that most of the recurring characters get less focus in favor of those two as the seasons pass by.
  • Recess: The main six all get equal attention in the show, having the same amount of "T.J. episodes" as "Gretchen episodes", "Vince episodes", "Mikey episodes", and so on. Though in The Movie, while the main six are all in the lead, of course, T.J. gets the most spotlight, to the point where many fans think that Recess: School's Out should've been re-named The T.J. Detweiler Movie.
  • Transformers Prime has had two episodes devoted entirely to Arcee and Jack, with the other Autobots and kids not showing up for longer than a quick silent scene at the end. Much better than the other partners as Raf and Bumblebee only had focus in one episode so far, and they had to compete with a B plot with the other bots stopping Starscream. Miko and Bulkhead did a little better mostly due to Bulkheads rivalry with Breakdown but they still needed to compete for screentime with other characters. Ratchet meanwhile barely leaves the base, while Optimus Prime himself usually just shows up at the end to kick ass. If they aren't absent entirely. Meanwhile Arcee is the only character to be in every single episode so far. This is refreshing however, since generally female Transformers are minor characters that don't do much.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
    • Acme Looniversity actually has a Spotlight Stealing class (taught by notorious Attentiongirl Daffy Duck). Plucky, Hamton, and Elmyra must have done especially well, considering how much focus they got. Elmyra would later be shoehorned into Pinky and the Brain. As well as Animaniacs, when she's called into a group counseling session with the Warner siblings. They con her into following Mindy. Yes, that Mindy.
  • The Dreamstone was initially designed with Rufus as the main protagonist, with early concept work using the Urpneys as more minor comic relief. In the pilot episode, the Urpneys are upgraded greatly and given individual personalities and spotlight, however Rufus is still played as the main hero and gets the majority of genuine Character Development. Following this he is diluted into a Hero Antagonist and the Urpneys act as the Villain Protagonists for most of the series. Even their boss Zordrak usually only appears in "bookend" appearances for each episode.
    • Seasons Three and Four downplayed the Villain Protagonist dynamic slightly, and started to even out the focus between Blob's squad and Rufus and Amberley. Zordrak and most other regulars such as the Wuts remained as Out of Focus as ever though.
  • My Little Pony N Friends episodes switched protagonists every few episodes, but it still had a few members who appeared often. Among them were Fizzy, Lickety Split, Surprise, Gusty, and Wind Whistler. In a Merchandise-Driven series with 100+ characters this is reasonably apparent.
  • As of "Lesson Zero" in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the rest of the cast became this since Twilight Sparkle was no longer required to be the main character of every episode. Also, even before this happened the Cutie Mark Crusaders have had a ton of focus compared to the other characters. Applejack and her family are also pretty noteworthy, as since the second season they've been given a steady increase in screentime.
  • The second season of DuckTales introduced Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck, a clear Expy for the absent Donald Duck, who would go on to either star or co-star in almost every episode of the second season, causing many other previously prominent characters such as Launchpad McQuack and even to some extent Huey, Dewey and Louie to be moved Out of Focus. Only Scrooge himself remained as prominent as ever. Unlike many examples of this trope, though, Fenton is fairly popular with the fanbase, possibly thanks to his dual status as Butt Monkey and Superhero.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine. Admittedly the series is named after him, but in season 8 he is the focus of nearly every episode, with few left over for the other members of the "Steam Team" (Henry, Edward and Toby probably suffering the worst). By season 9 the other Steam Team members have only one episode centred on them, the new standard gauge characters of that season are overshadowed by his appearances and even when he doesn't play any part in an episode plot (such as the episode "Skarloey The Brave") he's forced to make an obligatory appearance. Some updated music videos of the season 8, now featuring the CGI footage now focus solely on Thomas. It's gotten to the point where he's borderlining on being a Creator's Pet. Thankfully, this has been toned down starting with season 17, where Thomas has only four limelight episodes (most of them shared with another character) and more moderate supporting roles and cameos, not even seen at all in two narrow gauge episodes.
    • This more accurately made it's way into The Railway Series novels the show is based on as well. While Thomas was little more than a semi regular in the original series, following it's revival by Christopher Awdry, more and more Thomas stories were pressured to be made in order to tie in with the show. Though Awdry did occasionally find clever ways of working round this and focusing on other characters instead ("Thomas Comes Home" for example, despite it's title, features the character at the end of only one story), he clearly became the most focused character, with most novels situated around his branch line.
    • Percy may count as an exception. Starting as far back as Season Two, Percy tended to gain the most starring roles after Thomas (and in some early seasons equal or more) and even in later seasons tends to get at least a handful of episodes to himself or frequent appearances in others. His best friend status with Thomas, and the fact he was arguably more of a lead character than him in the original novels probably plays a lot into this.
  • Max Gibson in Batman Beyond. As Terry's Secret Keeper, she is involved in both his civilian and superhero lives; as a consequence, she takes the screentime of both of Terry's supporting casts. It's most noticeable with the decreasing prominence of Terry's family and Dana, his girlfriend, in the later seasons, and the number of episodes that barely feature Bruce Wayne or leave him out completely.
  • Goof Troop:
    • The show had an ensemble cast, with four main characters who had almost equal focus and two supporting characters with some of their own. Goofy and Pete had slightly more episodes than either of their sons, Max and PJ, who were roughly tied with each other. In both movies, the focus is all about Max. In the first movie, where the story is about Max getting with his crush and learning to bond with his dad, this is reasonable. In the second movie, Goofy and PJ are the ones who end up with Love Interests and go through changes (going back to school and learning to cope with Empty Nest syndrome, or going through Character Development and finally getting a happy ending), but Max still gets the most screentime.
    • Within the ensemble cast of the show, the Goof family were nominally more important than the Pete family. Despite this, the character with the most focus is Pete, mostly because he's both a Manipulative Bastard and The Chew Toy; his focus episodes account for over a third of the series, and he plays a significant supporting role in most of the others. However, Pete suffers Demoted to Extra worst in the movies of the Rotating Protagonists.
  • According to Word of God, this was the reason Ben 10: Omniverse had Ben's alien form Jetray and his teammates Gwen and Kevin Demoted to Extra: the former, due to being the most regularly used alien form, was considered as stealing screentime to other alien forms, and the others were considered as taking too much focus of the show when the writers wanted to focus on Ben himself. A lot of fans have been quick to point out the fact that in the end, Ben's new partner in Omniverse, Rook, ended up actually stealing even more Ben's screentime than Gwen and Kevin ever did.
  • Young Justice fans generally love Blue Beetle and Impulse (particularly as a couple), but it's hard to deny that they got a lot more attention than the other season two newbies, let alone the main six from season one. Justified by their comparative importance to the plot in a rather extensive cast, but still, couldn't they sacrifice one or two of their episodes to give Batgirl something to do?
    • In the first season, this was also the case for Superboy and Miss Martian (and their romance.)
  • Muscle Man from Regular Show is slowly becoming this. Almost every episode now days features him in a major way. He also appears in almost every preview for an episode, even if it did not feature him majorly. What's worse, his partner High Five Ghost, had received no Day in the Limelight episode after Season 4 began.
  • Since Season 7 onward, Denzel Crocker, Timmy's dad, Cosmo, Poof, and Foop from The Fairly OddParents have more and more amount of screen-time in the series, in detriment of main characters of earlier seasons, like Chester, AJ, Trixie Tang and Vicky, who was the main antagonist of the series for most of the time.

     Real Life  
  • Sarah Palin: She started out as just a potential vice president and now a lot of people seem obsessed with her for some reason. A surprising number of people even have trouble remembering whose running mate she originally was. At times it felt like the GOP ticket was Palin/McCain.
  • Comedian Jeff Dunham allows Achmed the Dead Terrorist to be the focus of almost all of his shows. The Christmas Special may as well have been called the "Achmed the Dead Terrorist show, guest starring Jeff Dunham & Other personalities".
    • One special expands Achmed's role even further (both solo and with his half-dead long-lost son.) He takes up roughly 60% of the show, forcing Peanut and Jose Jalapeno-on-a-stick to be introduced at the same time to make room. If anything, the puppets like Melvin and Sweet Daddy D managed to suffer this the most; even Bubba because in a 2010 performance, the audience knew his routine better than Jeff did.
  • Even in death, Michael Jackson managed to be a one-man Spotlight Stealing Squad. If you saw the news at all during the summer months of 2009, chances are, it was about Michael Jackson. In comparison, very little attention was given to other celebrity deaths during the same month such as Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett (who passed just before Michael), Billy Mays, and David Carradine.
    • Bonus points for being the top story overshadowing the military coup in Honduras.
    • Hell, he was an SSS to the Iranian election protests.
    • OJ Simpson and Britney Spears managed to hijack the media for awhile. A FoxTrot strip actually shows the OJ Simpson trial on every channel as a Take That to the news.
  • Any celebrity, whether they've died, punched a paparazzo, driven drunk, or just gone to the park with their kids, will dominate the news for no less than 48 hours on average.
    • Unless, as shown above, a 'bigger' celebrity dies, then those 'lesser' celebrities will get an occasional mention during the non-stop coverage of the 'bigger' celebrity's death. Some might not even realize that those 'lesser' celebrities are dead for at least a month or two.
  • Princess Di managed to do this as well. The great humanitarian who died in Summer 1997? Most people wouldn't think of Mother Teresa... This was mocked in an episode of The Oblongs, when Milo's lecture about how "you don't need to be pretty to be loved", citing Teresa as an example, was undermined because of this trope.
  • Some shows turn themselves into a SSS. One example is Nancy Grace. She tends to make multiple shows on one single topic. When Natalee Holloway was kidnapped, time seemed to stand still.
  • The main point of Missing White Woman Syndrome, which is when news stations will only cover stories about missing/killed white women as opposed to other people who may be missing at the same time. Even if the person they are covering isn't white, usually it's a very beautiful young woman. The most known example is Jon Benét Ramsey, who was killed about 2 decades ago and still shows up in the news sometimes.
    Peter: It'll be even sadder than the media gets when a cute white girl dies.
    (begin cutaway of an over turned school bus, a policeman addresses news reporters)
    Policeman: I'm afraid not everyone survived the crash, 9 year old Becky Gunderson—
    News Reporters: (sad) Awwww.
    Policeman: Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's Becky Gutierez.
    News Reporters: (disappointed) Awww, that's not news!
  • World War II has long since taken the spotlight of World War I in world history. The most notable reasons for this include its larger scale and consequences (more countries were involved meaning a greater scale of death and destruction and the resulting Cold War had a much larger effect on the global balance of power than World War I did), film evolving more during that era meaning more civilians were exposed to what was going on, and that more veterans of World War II are alive today than from World War I (given that it started 99 years ago in 1914 the last veteran left - Florence Green, who served as a waitress for Women's Royal Air Force - died February 4, 2012 at the age of 110).
    • The two wars also have very different narratives attached to them in modern times. World War II is largely remembered as a war of Good Versus Evil, with the heroic defenders of democracy battling the evil fascists of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. World War I, however, tends to be viewed much more as a Grey and Gray Morality poing match between glory-seeking empires. There's a lot more historical nuance, of course, but this is how the wars tend to be remembered in popular culture.
    • Very much in play for Czarist Russia: the revolution basically erased Russia's WWI battles from history, even in Russia itself (there doesn't seem to be so much as a single museum). Most people, hell, most history buffs can't even name (or even describe!) a single battle Russia fought with Germany; they can almost always describe the Battle of the Somme, Jutland, and/or the Battle of Verdun. Thus, all the attention is on the Western Front, despite the fact that Russia (along with Austria) was the initial Great Power belligerent.note 
      • It didn't help that Russia essentially lost an entire generation from the bloodshed of WWI, thanks to their incompetent generals and underequipped army.
  • Ask the average non-German to name someone famous from German history. Chances are they won't be able to list anyone but Hitler, who wasn't even German by birth!
  • For game generations in total, there is always a console that usually overshadows the other ones.
  • An actor who wins an award for Best Supporting Actor/Actress, especially if the leads were not awarded. An example could be Jennifer Hudson in regards to Dreamgirls one could joke "Hey did you know Beyonce was in Dreamgirls?"
    • Beyoncé herself, especially when she was in Destinys Child but no one paid attention to the other girls. See music above.
  • The Pestigo Fire of October 8th, 1871 is -to this date- the largest and deadliest forest fire in American history. A Firestorm that engulfed more than a combined total of 5,000 square miles of the eastern part of Wisconsin and upper Michigan, including most of the peninsula near where Green Bay is now locatednote . Somewhere around 2,500 people died in the firestormnote . Yet this fire, and the Port Huron Fire that simultaneously happened in Michigan due to the same weather conditions on the same day, have been largely forgotten and overlooked by history.
    • Why? Because the Great Chicago Fire also happened on that same day, and because it is Chicago, a man-made fire that destroyed a sizable portion of the city and took 300 lives is much more interesting and important than the largest forest fire to ever happen in North America...


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alternative title(s): Spotlight Hog; Spotlight Stealing Character
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