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A Day In The Limelight / Live-Action TV

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Episodes of live-action TV that put the spotlight on secondary characters.


  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the fifth episode of the third season, "4,772 Hours", which focuses on Simmons' four months trapped alone (and, eventually, with one guest star companion) on the alien planet she gets accidentally transported to in the Season 2 finale. Other than Fitz's appearance in the two scenes of framing narrative, and brief shots of Fitz, Coulson, Skye, and May in a video Simmons watches on her phone, she's the only character for much of the episode, and the only series regular involved in the main story line.
    • Season five episode five is this for Fitz. Left behind when the whole the rest of the team is sent to the future, he is the only member of the main cast seen for most of the episode as he and a returning Lance Hunter attempt to figure out what happened to the team.
  • Subverted in the American Gothic (1995) episode "The Beast Within", in which the usually ineffective Minion with an F in Evil Ben Healey has to step up to save everyone, good and bad, from his psychotic brother. It turns out Lucas organised the whole thing to manipulate him.
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  • American Horror Story: Freak Show devotes its tenth episode, "Orphans", to exploring Pepper's back story. Justified given the series' anthology format in that Pepper was the first character to recur between seasons, having originally appeared in Asylum, and the episode bridged the gap between the two and explained how she got from a circus in Florida in the mid-'50s to a mental institution in Massachusetts over a decade later. This episode is also notable in that it was very well-received by critics compared to most other AHS episodes from about Season 2 or 3 onward.
  • Angel: Season 5 has "Life of the Party" for Lorne, "Harm's Way" for Harmony, and "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" for the mail delivery guy.
  • The fourth season of Arrested Development takes this trope and runs with it, with each episode being a Day in the Limelight for a specific character, so that each of the nine leads receives one or two in the fifteen-episode run. They even get their own slight variation on the main titles and opening music, with each character represented by an instrument that plays over the original score for their episodes, and with the other characters introduced according to their relationship with that episode's lead (in the original three seasons, it was always everyone else's relation to Michael). This was partly due to budgetary and scheduling reasons: since the series had been Un-Cancelled by Netflix seven years after the original run ended, most of the actors were committed to other projects and resurrecting Arrested was more of a labour of love, meaning it had to be filmed whenever the leads were available. This was most noticeable in Buster's story line: due to Tony Hale's lead role on Veep being quite time-intensive, Buster only shares a few key scenes with other members of the family, and is mainly shown in a conveniently separate story line that focuses on his army career.
  • Babylon 5: Given the show's ongoing Myth Arc, and the Loads and Loads of Characters, the lesser recurring characters all had ongoing B-plots rather than eps of their own, but they occasionally still happened: Vir was the center of "Sic Transit Vir", for example. Sometimes the combination of a Limelight episode and the Myth Arc would have odd results, such as "Grey 17 Is Missing", a Garibaldi-centric Monster of the Week A-Plot with a B-Plot about Minbari politics that was far more important. Lampshaded at the end of the episode when Garibaldi tries to explain his absence to the Captain and tells him that he'll fill him in on the details later.
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    • Season 5, episode 4, "A View From the Gallery" is an entire episode focusing on two janitors trying to go about their job while the station is under attack. P.s. it's a DAMNED good episode of the show.
  • Band of Brothers. Each of the 10 episodes focuses on a specific character to some degree. The lead is Lt/Capt/Maj Winters who is in the limelight for episodes 2, 5, and 10. The other episodes focus on (1) Capt. Sobel, (3) Pvt. Blithe (a case of A Death in the Limelight), (4) Sgt. Bull Randleman, (6) "Doc" Roe, (7) Sgt. Lipton, (8) Pvt. Webster, and (9) Capt. Nixon. If the episode has narration, it's by the character in the limelight from their Point of View.
  • Starbuck tends to have this for the majority of the episodes in Battlestar Galactica (1978).
    • Boomer, while not the main character focus got a bit of limelight in the episode "Fire in Space".
    • Muffit, the robot dog also had a few moments of focus now and again.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) has done this a few times, especially in its third season:
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    • 3.10 "The Passage" is about Kat's past.
    • In 3.14 "The Woman King", Helo investigates a potential murder among civilian refugees.
    • In 3.16 "Dirty Hands", Chief Tyrol becomes the focus of a labour dispute.
  • Better Call Saul: "Five-O" focuses solely on Mike, with Saul in a few scenes here and there. It reveals a bit more about Mike's family, and his deceased son, who was a cop like Mike.
  • Blake's 7:
  • Breaking Bad episode "Hermanos" focuses on Gus, which fleshes out his character as well as giving a backstory to his relations with the Cartel, especially Hector / Tio.
    • At the beginning of series 5, we start to see a lot more focus on Mike, who had previously just been a tool for whomever was hiring him at the time.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander gets the limelight three times: as protagonist of Season 2's "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" and Season 3's "The Zeppo", and as both protagonist and antagonist of Season 5's "The Replacement".
    • Seasons 2 and 3 started a great run of episodes in order: "School Hard" helped flesh out Buffy/Joyce's relationship and focused on Spike/Drusilla. "The Dark Age" was one of Giles' first big episodes. "What's My Line" helped flesh out Jenny Calendar. "Phases" for Oz. "Faith, Hope, and Trick" for Faith. "Homecoming" for Cordelia. "Helpless" fleshed out Buffy/Giles' relationship.
    • Season 3 also has "Amends", which is Angel-centric.
    • "Band Candy" was the episode that featured Principal Snyder more than any other, albeit completely out of character.
    • "Doppelgangland" in Season 3 for Willow.
    • "A New Man" for Giles in Season 4.
    • Season 4 also has "Superstar", which is so Jonathan-centric it even features a new Title Sequence.
    • Dawn gets two; "Real Me" in season 5, and "Potential" in season 7.
    • "Family" establishes Tara's backstory and fleshes out her relationship with the rest of the cast.
    • The seventh season had racked up such a huge supporting cast that there was a day-in-the-limelight every other episode, it seemed: "Same Time, Same Place" for Willow, "Selfless" for Anya, "Lies My Parents Told Me" for Spike, "Storyteller" for Andrew...
    • The Dream Episode "Restless" gave each of the four main characters a ten-minute dream which focused solely on their characters.
  • Cake Boss
    • The episode where Buddy is making a full scale NASCAR car cake away from the bakery. While Buddy obviously has the bigger and cooler job, Mauro, Buddy's assistant, is in charge of the bakery and get to be the star of his half of the hour long episode (it was split between Buddy and Mauro more or less evenly, with Buddy getting a tiny bit more time). This in effect gives Mauro his own episode in Buddy's role, leading the cake team make a cake for a client he met with and narrating the segment.
    • One episode gave the spotlight to Cousin Anthony for his 21st birthday, and another one to head baker Joey on whether he'd leave the bakery or not. Not as much as the first example, but a change from the usual.
  • As Zachary Levi was busy preparing the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", most of "Chuck Versus Phase Three" focused on Sarah.
  • Community has done this a few times, with "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" focusing on Abed, "Advanced Gay" on Pierce, and "Football, Feminism and You" being Troycentric.
    • Perhaps the best example is "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", which focused equally on Pierce, typically the least-invested character, and Fat Neil, a background character.
  • In The Conditions of Great Detectives Fujii has her own episode in the style of a "Two-Hour Suspense" story aimed at middle-aged women with her own opening credits and song.
  • While Auggie's role is probably Covert Affairs' second largest, the action always directly follows Annie, with Auggie acting as her Mission Control. Except in the season 2 episode "Half a World Away", which switches those roles.
  • CSI:
    • While the episode "Lab Rats" brings background lab techs Archie Johnson, Mandy Webster, Henry Andrews, and Wendy Simms to the fore and gives them each some time in the spotlight, the episode is actually A Day in the Limelight for Trace Evidence expert David Hodges. It was, after all, his lucky day.
    • And was later done again with the Lab Rats in the episode "You Kill Me". Fitting one reason for doing such an episode the actor playing Hodges is now a main character with title credit.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • The season 3 episode "The Perfect Game" spends the majority of its time establishing Dex's backstory, including a lengthy black and white stageplay depicting Wilson Fisk researching key moments in Dex's life.
    • The season 3 episode "Karen" establishes Karen Page's Dark and Troubled Past, which takes up the first two thirds of the episode. The last third of the episode is about Matt thwarting a hit Fisk has ordered on Karen to avenge the death of James Wesley.
  • Dark Angel focused on Original Cindy's love life in "Shorties In Love" while the Alec fans got their showcase in "The Berrisford Agenda".
  • Dead of Summer, made by many of the same people behind the below-mentioned Lost, uses this in much the same manner, with each episode focusing on one character and containing flashbacks to their backstory.
  • Degrassi:
    • "Don't Believe the Hype." This episode took Hazel, who was previously just a flunky for the Alpha Bitch, and revealed her secret: she's a Somali Muslim immigrant who was bullied at her previous school for being a "terrorist." She's been pulling an elaborate Masquerade so the popular girls will accept her. While The Reveal was well-done, it never answered the question of how she got into the in-crowd when she could never let them visit her house. And none of this came up in any other episode, ever again, aside from an offhand comment by Paige in "Holiday". There's rarely a time when one character is focused on in two consecutive episodes outside two parters.
    • The season 12 two parter, Never Ever was Imogen's first, and so far only, main plot. It introduced her family life and divulged heavily into it as well. It was followed up somewhat in a subplot later on, but was mostly from the point of view of Imogen's girlfriend, Fiona. Earlier in the season, we had Got Your Money, which focused on Zig's home life, who had been shafted as merely the object of affection for Tori and Maya until that point, and ever since he's been playing the same role as before.
    • Also, Season 7's Got My Mind Set On You was the only time Danny and Derek EVER received a main plot (and one of the few times they had a storyline period). A few episodes later, Snake gets a main plot in Another Brick in the Wall. Another couple of episodes later, Anya takes the lead in Ladies' Night and she wasn't even a main character at that point.
  • Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High use to do these all of the time:
    • Nothing to Fear featured LD, who had only made minimal appearances in the series at that point, struggling with the fact that her dad was in the hospital.
    • Eggbert showed Shane struggling with Spike's pregnancy. Every other plot relating to the baby was from Spike's point of view.
    • Despite being a major character, Snake's first real, non-Zit Remedy storyline wasn't until the season 3 episode He Ain't Heavy. He wouldn't have the focus of an episode again until the second to last episode of the series.
    • Diana seemingly came out of nowhere (well, she was in the background but no one really noticed) with Little White Lies, where she sneaked out of her house, went to a party, drank, smoked, got detention and was grounded, because she didn't want to go to night classes at Greek school.
    • Most of the episodes featuring the twins were from Erica's point of view, except for Just Friends, where Heather was FINALLY interested with someone who wasn't interested in Erica. Unfortunately, Wheels wasn't exactly interested in Heather either. But this storyline also took place during the long running storyline where Erica had an abortion (which wasn't even brought up) so it was nice to see Heather getting some focus.
    • Liz gets one with Crossed Wires, which finally reveals why she seems like such a man hater (but she has VERY good reasons).
  • One episode of Doctors was all about Julia alone in her house dealing with her mental degeneration; all the other characters only appeared in her hallucinations.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Sensorites" allows Susan, normally relegated to Distressed Damsel while the Hero Ball would be passed between the more dynamic Ian and Barbara, the opportunity to save the day with amazing Psychic Powers she'd never shown before and would never get to show again.
    • The First Doctor serial "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve" is the first Doctor Who story to feature a single companion, Steven Taylor. On top of that, the story focuses almost entirely on Steven's adventures as a Fish out of Temporal Water in 16th century France as, while William Hartnell is present throughout the serial, the Doctor only appears in the first and last episodes.
    • Season 4 contains three consecutive stories which focuses more on one of the companions than the others so they can get some development: Polly overcomes Stay in the Kitchen attitudes and saves the day with nail varnish remover in "The Moonbase", Ben gets some More Than Mind Control and some resulting character development in "The Macra Terror", and Jamie gets a little romantic subplot with the Girl of the Week and sets out on his own to rescue the Doctor in "The Faceless Ones".
    • In Season 19 each of the companions was given a story where they could take a bigger role. "Kinda" saw Tegan gets possessed by a snake being (this happened again in this next season's "Snakedance"), "Black Orchid" saw Nyssa meeting her identical stranger and "Earthshock" saw Adric leave the series in a dramatic fashion.
    • "Turn Left" is focused solely on Donna Noble, and the effect one decision (turning left or turning right) had.
    • The first half of "The Crimson Horror" is about Strax, Jenny and Madame Vastra, although the Doctor takes over the episode when he eventually turns up.
    • "Flatline" sees the Doctor trapped in the TARDIS when a mysterious force causes its exterior dimensions to diminish, so Clara has to assume his role for the day (him coaching her from "afar") and figure out why this is happening. She even takes on a companion figure of her own, Rigsy. This shows the upsides and downsides of her Character Development, as he realizes just how much like him she's becoming, and ends with another clue to the mystery of how and why they were brought together to begin with.
    • "The Woman Who Lived" focuses on Series 9's special guest character Ashildr (Maisie Williams), as the Doctor's path crosses with hers again some time after the events of the previous episode, in which he rendered her a functional immortal. The changes this meant for her life and personality drive the story, as the Doctor tries to keep her from making an awful mistake. To better focus on their relationship, the Doctor is on his own here; Clara only appears in the denouement.
    • "The Husbands of River Song" has the Twelfth Doctor encountering his wife once more when a case of mistaken identity gets him involved in her latest scheme — and she doesn't recognize him. She's the character who initiates and drives the plot, the Doctor ends up a companion of sorts for most of the runtime, and he and the audience learn a great deal about her that they didn't before. This is also River's only episode to date in which none of the Doctor's other companions appear, as he's traveling alone at the time.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard has quite a few, most notably "Miz Tisdale On The Lam" (focusing on the Drop-In Character of postmistress Emma Tisdale).
  • Family Matters: Downplayed as Judy Winslow never really gets a day in the limelight, only a few subplots:
    • In "Fast Eddie Winslow", she must write a book report about Swiss Family Robinson after she doesn't read the book.
    • In "Ice Station Winslow", she feels ignored by her family because of her younger cousin Richie.
    • In "A Thought in the Dark", she ruins Harriette's dress and begs Carl to cover for her.note 
  • Firefly has a few such episodes: "Jaynestown", where the plot centers on Jayne, "War Stories" explores the dynamics of Wash and Zoe's marriage, "Ariel" for Simon, and Objects in Space", which lets the viewer inside River's head.
  • Frasier:
    • The episode, "Head Game", which focuses on Niles. In fact, the title character only appears in the first three minutes!
      • Real Life Writes the Plot: The plot was written with Frasier in mind, but thanks to some substance abuse issues, Kelsey Grammer could only make a token appearance. The plot was shifted over to Niles, and some of the dialog are clearly Frasier-isms.
    • Season seven's "Dark Side of the Moon", which focuses on Daphne.
    • Season nine's "The Return of Martin Crane", which focuses on Martin.
    • Season five's "The Kid", which focuses on Roz.
    • Almost every season has at least one episode that focuses on the development of Niles and Daphne's relationship.
  • Fringe gave us two of these in Season 4: "Everything in Its Right Place" for Lincoln, and "Making Angels" for Astrid.
    • Of course, the fans who had been longing to see both Lincolns share the screen probably regretted it when the episode resulted in Alt-Lincoln being shot and killed.
  • Game of Thrones: "Oathkeeper" is this for Grey Worm, where he gets as much screentime as Tyrion Lannister, and reveals himself to be a Guile Hero of the highest caliber. Indeed, it's he, not Daenerys, who's the true victor over Meereen.
  • Happened in Glee: Tina Cohen-Chang, one of the original members of New Directions, had been neglected in terms of storylines and song distribution for nearly three whole years, until the episode “Props”, which was named after the fact that she felt like a prop to the whole glee club. The recap at the beginning of the episode actually went all meta stating how neglected Tina had been.
  • Sitcom Greek's Beaver is one of the most prominent secondary characters, yet nothing was known about him except that he got his nickname for biting a chair while drunk, that's until the final season where he gets an episode titled "all about beave" where his motivations, his background, his day-to-day living and his real name are revealed.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Luke, who hasn't gotten a lot of attention before, has an entire episode devoted to his story once he was separated from June and Hannah, "The Other Side".
  • In a show that wavers between Two Lines, No Waiting and Four Lines, All Waiting, the episode "Company Man" in Heroes Volume 1 almost completely focused around HRG (aka Mr. Bennet) and his very messed-up relationship with his job and family. Up to this point, he was just an Overprotective Dad In Black, but this greatly expanded backstory and explanation of his motives permanently cemented his Ensemble Dark Horse status.
    • HRG gets another one in "Cold Wars" while both Tracey and Sylar are going to be getting a few in Volume 4. And "The Year of Our Lord" focused more or less entirely on Peter/Future Peter. ("Five Years Gone" did the same for Hiro/Future Hiro.)
  • In Highlander, Duncan MacLeod had a greatly reduced presence in the final season. Most of these were Poorly Disguised Pilots for new Immortals, but the penultimate episode, "Indiscretions", gave Methos and Joe Dawson their own story.
  • On Hogan's Heroes, Kinch was often involved in plots requiring technical/radio work, but since the color of his skin would be a bit noticeable trying to impersonate a WW2 German official, he didn't get as many "dress up" plots as the rest of the cast. One exception involved him capturing and impersonating an African royal trying to ally himself with the Axis forces, complete with a Girl of the Week.
  • House had an episode in season 6 called "Wilson," which revolved around House's beleaguered best friend Wilson, while House and his team's antics gets pushed to the sidelines, with only occasional glimpses at their wacky adventures.
    • "5 to 9" did the same with Cuddy.
    • And Season 7's "Last Temptation" is this for Martha Masters before she intentionally causes a 13-year old girl to go into cardiac arrest all so she could then chop off her arm, then she resigns, before falling over a chicken.
    • Chase gets his own episode in "Chase", in which he recovers from leg injuries from the previous episode and hooks up with a nun he treated in the clinic. The morning after, he saves her life after she suffers a carotid artery dissection.
  • The season 7 How I Met Your Mother episode "Symphony Of Illumination" seemed to be this, similar to the Scrubs examples below: unlike every single previous episode, it begins with Future!Robin narrating the episode to her future kids, rather than Future!Ted narrating it to his own.
    • "Something Borrowed" was Lily and Marshall-centric, and any episode involving his father is a day in the limelight for Barney.
    • Season 9's "How Your Mother Met Me" is the Mother's story, portraying the show's timeline from her perspective and how many times she's narrowly missed meeting Ted until their paths convened at Farhampton.
  • JAG was known for giving each of the supporting characters an episode of their own once a season.
  • Kamen Rider has the tendency to do this with a lot of their shows. Most notably in direct-to-DVD movies. They're usually devoted to the second Rider, but a few had been devoted to an Ensemble Dark Horse or even a Villain Episode. Most of these often give them a Super Mode, an Ace Prototype, or some variant of a new form. Some even outright give them a Rider form, as they had none prior to the limelight. Examples of these include:
  • Happens at least once a season on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, when Stabler and Benson, the lead detectives, step aside and allow the secondary team of Munch and Fin to be the primary focus of the episode, or the time when Fin got an episode to himself.
    • Sometimes the episode starts fairly near to the end of the "Law" section, and the majority of the episode is the "Order", as the ADAs run around Manhattan trying to scare up witnesses. This is far less common than it was on The Mother Ship.
    • Melinda Warner has a minor day in the limelight in "Blast".
  • The Legend of Dick and Dom is an Ensemble Cast show, but the emphasis is usually on Prince Dick and Prince Dom; they get Taken for Granite in "Rock Hard", so their servants Lutin and Mannitol get A Day In The Limelight, trying both to cure them and get that week's MacGuffin. Hilarity Ensues.
  • On the 1984-86 revival of Let's Make a Deal, host Monty Hall let then-announcer Dean Goss host two deals to test his abilities as host. Goss later uploaded clips of the episode to his YouTube channel, where he confirmed that Hall wanted to renew the show for a third season and pass it over to him. It got canceled instead.
  • Liv and Maddie's "Detention-A-Rooney" puts the spotlight firmly on Parker, with both Liv and Maddie relegated to the subplot section.
  • Lost, despite having a huge main cast, has (almost) every episode focus on one character. Some notable episodes that focus on recurring characters who don't usually get their own episodes include:
    • "S.O.S", which focused on Rose & Bernard.
    • "Live Together, Die Alone", which focused on Desmond, who was made a main character next season.
    • "The Incident", though containing flashbacks from almost every living character, focused on Jacob and also featured a Ilana flashback (both characters were also the focus of one of the episode's two plotlines).
    • "Ab Aeterno", considered by most to be one of the series' greatest episodes, is the long-awaited flashback episode of Richard. About 85% of the episode takes place in the past, specifically 1867.
    • "Across the Sea" is focused on Jacob and the Man in Black, two important guest stars, and features no regular cast members outside of stock footage.
  • MacGyver (1985): "Early Retirement" is this for Pete Thornton. Pete oversees the disarming of a nuclear warhead. A deadly explosion at the disarming facility causes Pete to accept full responsibility and retire from the Phoenix Foundation. However, MacGyver soon suspects that the replacement for Pete is responsible for sabotaging the warhead.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • The episode "Hey, Look Me Over" centers on Nurse Kellye, who's usually strictly a Bit Character. It's actually a rather nice story... actress Kellye Nakahara's "Nurse Kellye" had more appearances and lines over the years than any of the other nurse characters (strictly bit parts, though), and she was well-liked by the cast. Alan Alda felt she deserved an episode where she could really shine, and surprised her with the script for "Hey, Look Me Over."
    • "Dear Sigmund", which is told from the point of view of psychiatrist Sidney Freedman, a recurring guest character.
    • There's also the other "Dear" episodes, when not told by Hawkeye, technically.
    • Depending on whether you consider Hawkeye to be the show's lead character or just one part of the ensemble, than any number of Character Focus episodes centering on the other regulars - Margaret, Radar, Father Mulcahy, etc. - could be regarded as this.
      • Hawkeye himself gets one in the season 4 episode "Hawkeye", where he's the only one of the main characters to appear in the entire episode.
  • Miami Vice had the episode in the first season "Made for Each Other" which focused on Zito and Switek, and the second season episode "Bushido" on Castillo.
  • Doesn't happen all that often in Merlin but Elyan does get a couple. One occurs near the end of season 4 when he is Brainwashed and Crazy by a ghost and plays a vital role in starting peace between Arthur and the Druids. The other happens mid-season 5 and is actually A Death in the Limelight.
  • Millennium: "The Well-Worn Lock" focuses on Frank Black's wife Catherine, usually a supporting character, in her job as a social worker. It's also reminiscent of a Very Special Episode, as instead of a deranged Serial Killer or an Ancient Conspiracy, it deals with domestic violence by a father who sexually abuses his daughters.
  • Modern Family 6x16, "Connection Lost", is one for Claire. Though all the main characters (and a few recurring/guest characters) make an appearance, the entire episode pans out from Claire's POV as she reacts to events on her computer screen.
  • An episode in the waning season of Moonlighting gave Agnes and Herbert an episode to themselves and a case to solve, playing out approximately like a first-season episode as a welcome respite from watching David and Maddie hash out their relationship problems.
    • A more obvious episode is "North by North Dipesto", which is entirely about Agnes Dipesto.
  • Season 7 of Murdoch Mysteries had two; the Girls' Night Out Episode "Friday the 13 1901", in which a Closed Circle meant Dr Odgen had to play detective, and "Kung Fu Crabtree" in which, as the title suggests Crabtree took the lead, because Murdoch was caught up in a Story Arc related B-plot. Season 8 has "Crabtree Mania", which keeps the focus on Crabtree even though Murdoch is involved in the investigation as well, and ends with him being offered a detective position.
  • My Mad Fat Diary: The penultimate episode, "It's a Wonderful Rae: Part I" has a larger than usual focus on secondary character Tix and is partially narrated by her.
  • While basically an ensemble show, Nashville's "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad" is practically all about Scarlett and the aftereffects of her onstage meltdown.
  • Once Upon a Time follows the same format as Lost (obviously due to being created by Lost alumni) and has every episode focus on one character, some on minor and one episode characters, which include:
    • "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" focusing on Sidney Glass (The Magic Mirror)
    • "Dreamy" which focuses on Leroy (Grumpy)
    • "Red-Handed", a notable example which focuses on Ruby (Red Riding Hood) where it was revealed that she is a werewolf
    • "In the Name of the Brother" which focuses on Dr. Whale ( Dr. Frankenstein)
    • "The Miller's Daughter", which focuses on Cora (The Queen of Hearts)
  • The fifth and final season of Orphan Black has a number of its episodes focus on a different character, often complete with flashbacks.
    • The third episode focuses on Alison and her struggle with her suburban life.
    • The fifth episode focuses on Cosima on the island, as well as her relationship with Delphine.
    • The seventh episode focuses on Rachel and her history at DYAD.
    • The eighth episode focuses on Mrs. S and what she's been up to behind the scenes.
    • The ninth episode focuses on Helena, with flashbacks to her abusive childhood.
    • The tenth and final episode naturally focuses on Sarah, the protagonist, and her uncertain future after the events of the series.
  • Although Miss Brooks is always the star of Our Miss Brooks, some episodes give lesser characters a major role:
    • "Brooks' New Car" features a major role for Mrs. Conklin. Likewise, "Weekend at Crystal Lake".
    • "Madison Mascot" and "Stretch to Transfer" feature the student athlete in something akin to a starring role.
    • "Angela's Wedding", "A Dry Scalp is Better Than None", and "Mr. Casey's Will" feature Mrs. Davis' sister Angela as the episodes mover and shaker.
    • "The Egg" has an appearance by Mrs. Davis' usually unseen, only mentioned, brother Victor.
  • Person of Interest gives pretty much every character at least one.
    • Reese has season 1's "Pilot", and "Many Happy Returns", season 2's "Prisoner's Dilemma", season 3's "4C", and season 4's "Terra Incognita."
    • Finch has season 1's "No Good Deed", season 2's "All In", and season 3's "Lethe".
    • Carter has season 1's "Get Carter", and season 3's "Endgame", and "The Crossing".
    • Fusco has season 2's "In Extermis" and season 4's "Wingman".
    • Shaw has season 2's "Relevance" and season 3's "Razgovor".
    • Root has season 2's "Bad Code" and season 3's "/"note .
    • Elias has season 1's "Flesh and Blood" and season 4's "The Devil You Know" (along with his friend, Scarface.)
    • Zoe has season 1's "The Fix".
    • Stanton has season 2's "The Dead Reckoning".
    • Collier has season 3's "A House Divided".
    • Greer has season 4's "The Cold War."
    • Control has season 4's "Control-Alt-Delete".
    • And the Machine has season 4's "If-Then-Else".
  • On Police, Camera, Action! the episode "Jacked & Cloned" mainly focused on the Greater Manchester Police, and the episode "ASBO Drivers" was this for two forces: Greater Manchester Police and South Yorkshire Police. Later on in the series, "Moto Mania" was this for the South Yorkshire Police, most of the British footage was from that county - aside from two Midlands clips, a Texan police clip, an Ohio Police clip, a Cambridgeshire Police chase of a learner motorbike rider (dubbed the "learner from hell") and a Metropolitan Police motorbike chase.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers in Space: "True Blue to the Rescue" features the return of Justin tand the super cars from the last season, Power Rangers Turbo and provided closure for them.
    • Power Rangers RPM features 5 episodes named after the title characters ("Ranger [color]"), as well as their mentor, Dr. K. Each elucidates a character's backstory. Dillon, Ranger Black, does not have his own episode, attributable to Laser-Guided Amnesia, and that Dillon's character episodes are more or less the two first, where he's made to choose between becoming a ranger, or jail. And a bunch of episodes trying to solve his amnesia.
  • Punky Brewster would allow her pals to bask in their own episodes. Allen's episode would be his final one ("Divorce, Anderson Style" which had a Downer Ending).
  • During the 70s, there were two versions of the TV game show Pyramid: The daytime network version (First, The $10,000 Pyramid; later, The $20,000 Pyramid), and a nighttime syndicated version (The $25,000 Pyramid), with two different hosts — Dick Clark and Bill Cullen, respectively — who would often appear as a celebrity guest on the other's version to help the contestants win money.
  • In the Remember WENN episode "The Ghost of WENN," it is revealed that the ghost is actually CJ, who's miffed at being ignored by the main cast.
  • Scrubs has done this on multiple occasions, in the episodes "His Story" (I-IV), "Her Story, (I-II) and "Their Story" (I-II). These episodes feature the inner monologues of characters other than JD, often alluded to in-character with phrases like "Now that I have this tape recorder, I won't need to be in my head as much". They also include a whooshing sound as JD makes physical contact with the focus character right before the voice over switches, as though the ability to narrate is the result of some sort of communicable disease. This also works backwards near the end of the episode, often including similar phrases.
  • Each episode of Skins focuses on a particular member of the cast, with each cast member getting an episode (or sometimes two) to themselves each season.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "The Other Guys" focuses on the scientists who usually are just background characters.
  • Stargate Atlantis had "Sunday". The episode is unusual in it isn't made clear who the story is about until the end when Carson Beckett dies.
  • Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch gets these in the cringeworthy "Huggy Bear and the Turkey" (a failed Poorly Disguised Pilot) and the considerably better "Huggy Can't Go Home."
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks" where one guest character, who'd appeared in a single episode in an earlier season, was the focus of the show. It seemed to be setting her up as a recurring character, right up to the point where she dies at the end.
    • It was originally planned that the character would return on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but the writers decided that would "diminish" the ending of "Lower Decks".
    • Played straight with "Face of the Enemy", which primarily focused on the character of Deanna Troi and was the Trope Namer for this trope's previous name of Good Troi Episode.
    • Another episode, "Dark Page," focused solely on Troi and her mother Lwaxana.
  • The modern Star Trek series all have had limelight episodes for various characters, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the clear champion in this category thanks to its large cast of secondary, minor, and recurring characters. By the end of the series the recurring villains were getting as much screen time and focus on their problems and schemes as the heroes were.
    • Particular emphasis on "Nor the Battle to the Strong", a very powerful episode starring Jake, whose prior role was primarily either comic relief or a foil for Sisko.
    • Another notable example was "Field of Fire", the best episode for Ezri Dax, a character who was often considered a Replacement Scrappy for the late Jadzia Dax.
    • Completing the set of three, "It's Only a Paper Moon" was the definitive Nog episode, dealing with his PTSD after losing his leg in combat during "The Siege of AR-558".
    • Chief Miles O'Brien, in particular, had an episode dedicated to him approximately Once a Season. Such episodes tend to deal with him going through hell, whether it be put on trial in a Cardassian Kangaroo Court ("Tribunal"), having visions of a Bad Future ("Visionary"), or having his daughter fall into a time portal and re-emerge as a feral teenager ("Time's Orphan"), leading to the meme "O'Brien Must Suffer".
  • Star Trek: Voyager took this to an extreme with "Pathfinder," an episode devoted to Lt. Barclay, who was not even on the Voyager and inhabited a different sector of space. The episode revolves around Barclay attempting to make contact with the distant Voyager, and the main cast doesn't even appear until the last act of the episode.
    • Then there was "Course: Oblivion," the episode concerning the silver blood clones of Voyager and crew. Turns into a Tear Jerker when it's learned they're losing cohesion and basically about to die just as they're about to meet the real thing...and none of the real Voyager crew even knew of their existence.
    • "Timeless" could be considered "the Harry Kim episode."
    • Tuvok gets a few, but "Gravity" was probably his main one.
    • "Barge of the Dead" was probably the main B'Elanna show, but there was also "Day of Honor" covering her and Tom's relationship, and "Faces" and "Lineage" about her Klingon/Human issues. She also had "Dreadnought" and "Prototype" to show off her engineering chops.
    • Neelix had "Jetrel," "Fair Trade," "Mortal Coil," and "Homestead."
    • Icheb, otherwise very much a minor character introduced in the sixth season, had "Child's Play" and "Imperfection".
  • On the other hand, as David Gerrold pointed out in his book about Star Trek: The Original Series, McCoy only had one episode directly about him ("For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky") while Scotty had the spotlight in "Wolf In The Fold" and "The Lights Of Zetar."
  • In the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip episode "The Disaster Show", Matt and Danny don't feature at all. Instead it was a day in the limelight for Cal, the director.
    Jack Rudolph, President of the network: "Hope it's a good show!"
    Cal, responding to the many disasters happening: "Can't see how!"
  • Supernatural:
    • "Ghostfacers", which featured two characters from a first season episode and their friends. Fans either loved it or loathed it.
    • "The Rapture", told the backstory of Castiel's vessel.
    • The Impala gets flashbacks and a backstory in "Swan Song". She later gets a full episode shown entirely from her point of view in "Baby".
    • In Season 6, Bobby Singer gets one of these, aptly titled, "Weekend at Bobby's" (also a Shout-Out, as the episode titles often are). It focuses on what Bobby does when he's not helping Sam and Dean, and how that actually interferes with his life. The episode also wraps up the minor Story Arc about selling his soul to Crowley to help save the world.
    • "Death's Door" is also Bobby-centric.
    • "The Man Who Would Be King" is about Castiel, and narrated from his point of view.
    • "Apointment In Samarra" is one for the Reapers, as Dean learns exactly what the Psychopomps of his reality have to deal with every day.
  • Torchwood had perhaps several of these - "Cyberwoman" for Ianto, "Greeks Bearing Gifts" for Tosh, and in season two, "A Day in the Death" for Owen. Of course, this was after he died. But it was also before he stopped moving.
  • Ultra Series, because even if every episode requires Ultraman to save the day in the end, it's still possible to give focus to the hero's friends and allies.
    • Ultraman:
      • "Don't Shoot, Arashi!" for Arashi (in which his trigger-happy attitude proves to be his downfall against Zaragas, a kaiju with an Adaptive Ability)
      • "Pearl Oyster Defense" for Fuji (in which she has a lot more participation than usual in this week's monster hunt)
      • "The Small Hero" for Ide (where he begins to feel he is useless because Ultraman always defeats the monsters for Science Patrol)
      • "Human Specimens 5 and 6" for Captain Muramatsu (where much of the episode sees him trying to bust aliens invading a mountain lab by himself)
      • "The Coast Guard Command" for Hoshino (which is about him and his friends running into some diamond smugglers while Science Patrol hunts the kaiju Gesura in the subplot).
    • Ultraseven:
      • "Return to the North!" for Furuhashi (where his mother comes over from Hokkaido to convince him to leave Ultra Garrison and return to the farm)
      • "The 0.1 Second Kill" for Soga (which focuses mainly on his rivalry with a fellow marksman)
      • "The 700-Kilometer Dash" for Amagi (where he has to overcome his fear of explosions while being pursued by aliens armed with explosives)
      • "Horror on the Moon" for Commander Kiriyama (which focuses on his past fighting off alien invasions as a private)
      • "The Human Farm" for Anne (where she and a friend face an alien that intends to plant a Festering Fungus on them).
    • Ultraman Tiga:
      • Rena gets "The Man who Fell to Earth" (focusing on her relationship with her father), "SOS for the Deep Blue Sea", and "Monster Zoo" (both showcase her compassionate side for animals)
      • Captain Iruma gets "The Devil's Judgement" (which reveals a lot more about her family) and "The Mirage of a Monster" (in which she has to face a jerkass GUTS general who hates Ultraman Tiga)
      • Commander Munakata has "The Day the Monster Appeared" and "Vampire City" (both featuring his regular outings at a bar to speak with his journalist pal)
      • Horii has "Requiem to Darkness", "A Fog is Coming!", and "Goodbye to Darkness" (all of which develop on his love life)
      • Shinjoh's are "The Closed Amusement Park" (dealing with his relationship as an older brother to GUTS nurse Mayumi), "Human Collecting", and "A Friend from Space" (both in which he battles aliens targeting his friends and family)
      • Yazumi has "One Vanishing Moment" (where he gets to fight on the field for the first time), "The Time-Transcending Smile" (where he encounters a time-displaced girl), and "The Town Where the Girl Disappeared" (mainly a solo adventure where an insane AI falls in love with him).
    • Ultraman Mebius:
      • Konomi has "Broken Bonds" (where she feels that her timid attitude makes her unsuited for GUYS) and "Konomi's Treasure" (which deals almost entirely with her encountering a childhood friend).
      • George has "Reverse Shot" (where his inability to work with a team makes him consider leaving GUYS) and "The Lonely Grandstander" (where he stands as the only man able to neutralize the Monster of the Week's Doppelgänger Attack).
      • Marina has "Marina of the Wind" (where she meets up with some old friends from her motorcycling career) and "The Ocean Waves of Time" (where she travels back in time to the summer her beloved grandfather died).
      • Teppei has "One Path" (in which the fact that he hasn't told his parents yet about his new job at GUYS causes trouble) and "Lady of the Blue Flame" (where is unsure if he can save the life of a girl he likes).
      • Ryu has "Formation of Our Vows" (where he is troubled by how ex-mentor Serizawa/Ultraman Hikari seems to be no longer interested in him) and "The Resurrection of Yapool" (where the evil Yapool takes over his body to try break his friendship with Mirai).
      • Ultraman Hikari has "Azure Waves of Light and Shadow" (in which his past as Anti-Hero Hunter Knight Tsurugi comes back to haunt him).
      • Captain Sakomizu has "A Visit from an Old Friend" (which reveals a lot more about his experiences with Ultras to spoiler levels).
      • Adjutant Toriyama has "The Chief Inspector's Message" (in which he becomes annoyed with how GUYS' Chief Inspector is constantly absent, despite it being his duty to report to the Chief).
  • In The Vampire Diaries "Brave New World" centers on Caroline and her becoming a vampire. The appropriately named "Katerina" is about Katherine's backstory.
  • This has happened several times on Wheel of Fortune:
    • Co-host Vanna White played one round for charity at the end of a 1989 episode, with host Pat Sajak turning the letters.
    • During a week of episodes in November 1996, Pat had laryngitis for the entire taping session. His condition was so bad that come Thursday's Bonus Round, he turned the letters and Vanna "hosted" for him.
    • A year later, Pat and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek traded places and hosted each other's shows on April Fools' Day. Pat and Vanna also played that day's Wheel (with Pat's wife, Lesly, turning the letters) and won over $50,000, which they split between two charities.
    • And in early 2011, the show held a contest which allowed one home viewer to take Vanna's place for two rounds. The winner appeared on the March 24 episode.
  • In The West Wing, C.J. Cregg has a few episodes devoted to her, such as season 4's "The Long Goodbye" and season five's "Access".
  • The White Collar episode "As You Were" focuses on Jones, who's normally the junior FBI agent who sits in the surveillance van.
  • In The Wild Wild West's "The Night of the Big Blast" Artie, rather than Jim, is in charge. In fact, the real Jim doesn't appear until the end of act 3.
  • The first season Xena: Warrior Princess episode "The Prodigal" was very much a Gabrielle episode, with the warrior princess herself only appearing in the opening and closing scenes.
  • The X-Files did a number of limelight episodes later in its run, including "Zero Sum" (it focused on Assistant Director Skinner, Mulder and Scully's FBI superior), "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" (the recurring villain and agent of The Conspiracy dubbed "Cancer Man" or "the Cigarette-Smoking Man"), "Unusual Suspects", "Three of a Kind" and "Jump the Shark" (the Lone Gunmen, conspiracy theorist Comic Trio and cohorts of Mulder).


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