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Hero on Hiatus

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The Hero (or primary POV player character) is temporarily taken out of the action in some plot-driven involuntary way, usually a scripted accident, disease, captivity or even death. The plot temporarily switches to the short term goal of coping with this incident (typically finding, saving, healing, and/or reviving the hero) before the main plot/goal is taken up again. This plot development gives other people a chance to shine and demonstrates that the heroes aren't covered in Plot Armor. A new leader character is often designated in the meantime, but the hero always returns to lead the team again.

This can happen in a wide variety of configurations and serves many purposes. The Apprentice has to step up and demonstrate what she's learned when her master is injured in a fight. The bond between members of an Action Duo or Five-Man Band is shown and often strengthened when one member is grabbed by the Villain. In ensemble works, this is one way one protagonist takes the lead from another.

Note that the character is often still present in the work, even if the POV leaves them for a time. For live-action media, this may mean the actor portraying the character isn't seen for some time, and there may be other real world reasons for this, yet works under this trope still have the character as a presence in-universe (and the focus of a subplot). Instances involving death are either mistakes, ruses, of very short duration, or occur in settings in which death isn't always permanent.

Contrast Achilles in His Tent, where the Hero just decides he has had enough and quits until events force him to return. Contrast Fever Dream Episode, which never even moves away from the character, just moves the location of the action to inside his mind. Compare and contrast Sick Episode: those instances in which the illness is severe enough to take the hero out for a time could count (when bringing about a recovery/cure is a new subplot), but those in which he soldiers on regardless would not. See also And Now for Someone Completely Different and 10-Minute Retirement. Often results in Switching P.O.V..


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The fourth volume of AKIRA happens almost entirely without Kaneda who is pressumed dead, focusing on Kei and giving more spotlight to Kiyoko, Ryu and Colonel.
  • Asta from Black Clover is temporarily subjected to this when his arms are cursed by Vetto. As a result, he's unable to fight using his anti-magic swords against Fana and the Eye of the Midnight Sun when they attack the Forest of Witches. Not long after, the Witch Queen heals Asta's arms and accelerates the flow of anti-magic in his body by removing his output limit so that he can fight Ladros.
  • In Claymore, the Destroyer Arc ends with Clare trapped inside remains of Destroyer, with Priscilla. Therefore, she doesn't take a part in the Rebelion Arc, allowing Miria to take the lead.
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • Happens all the damned time with Goku, who is out of action pretty much just as often as he's onscreen. The fights with the Saiyans, the Ginyu Force, and Freeza all basically consisted of the good guys desperately trying to stay alive until he shows up or finished healing (they occasionally got the edge on Freeza, but he just kept transforming).
    • He was also out of action for nearly the entire Android Saga after he became sick with his heart virus. Although, this subverts the above since it is noted by several characters that even if Goku was around he would be basically useless since the androids were much stronger than him. By the time Goku is well and strong enough to fight, only Perfect Cell is left.
  • Happens to Izuku Midorya several times in My Hero Academia because of his inherited Quirk, One For All. His body can't handle using the Quirk at full power, and he doesn't have the control to use it at less than 100%. Aizawa even points out that he can't be a hero if he can't control it, since he's only good for one or two shots and then has to be rescued by someone else.
  • Naruto has the Forest of Death part of the Chunin Exams arc, where Orochimaru reveals himself and takes both Sasuke and Naruto out of action, leaving Sakura forced to defend herself and her two downed teammates on her own from assassins after their head. Fortunately, both Rock Lee and Team 10 show up to help her out.
  • Happens quite often to Luffy from One Piece. He is often out of action because he is drowning, beaten near death, eaten by a snake, asleep, lost, or stuck somewhere. In these times, typically Zoro, Nami, or Sanji take command of the crew in his absence.

    Comic Books 
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • The Hulk is presumed killed by a Gamma bomb that went off in the town of Centerville even though they Never Found the Body. There is an inquiry which gives the Hulk's supporting players some time in the limelight, before revealing that the Hulk is alive and well and living in Jarella's World, where the resident magicians have used their magic to summon the Hulk coincidentally just before the bomb blew up.
    • In another couple of issues the Hulk had a Heroic BSoD and in the meantime She-Hulk was the lead character.

    Fan Works 

  • In Michael Robertson's The Brothers of Baker Street, barrister Reggie Heath produces an alibi for a Black Cab driver accused of a robbery-double homicide. Reggie later goes in search of his recent client when another corpse turns up and is arrested at the scene of the client's murder. The action turns to his brother Nigel and their sometime girlfriend Laura, who have to get him out on bail so the trio can work to clear Reggie of his own murder charge.
  • Happens frequently in the Deryni works, effectively swapping the members of the heroic ensemble. Notably:
    • Rhys Thuryn is drugged by Tavis O'Neill and Prince Javan Haldane in Camber the Heretic. They question Rhys about Javan's fuzzy memories of his first empowerment ritual, then set Rhys free to join Camber/Alister against the Regents. Rhys' merasha hangover contributes to his accidental death in the cathedral.
    • Kelson passed out after a portion of his empowerment ritual in Deryni Rising. He briefly came to long enough to deal with a disturbance and protect Morgan from scrutiny, then passed out again.
    • Derry is severely injured while guarding Kelson's quarters in Deryni Rising; he was already at a disadvantage from an injury to his hand sustained defending Morgan from assassins days earlier. Morgan, distressed at the possibility of losing him, goes to his side and attempts to Heal Derry — with success!
    • Morgan after being drugged and abducted in Deryni Checkmate. He was partially functional for a bit, but Duncan came to his rescue, led the way to hide out at the ruins of Saint Neot's, and put Morgan to bed so he could sleep off the drug's effects while Duncan searched for a Transfer Portal.
    • Dhugal is beaten and concussed when he's taken captive by the Mearans in The Bishop's Heir. He's held, together with Bishop Henry Istelyn, for several days.
    • Morgan again when he collapses from overextending himself to Call on campaign in The King's Justice. Kelson insists on sharing the energy drain and puts Morgan to sleep for the night, and they alternate sending Calls each night after that.
    • Nigel passes out from his partial empowerment ritual in The King's Justice. He comes to for a time, but Richenda has him drink some wine and he's sent to bed to sleep off the aftereffects.
    • Duncan after being tortured in The King's Justice. He stays with the combined Haldane-Corwyn-Cassan-Transha armies, riding in a litter for a few days.
    • Kelson from injuries sustained in a fall from a cliff trail in The Quest for Saint Camber. Dhugal, who fell with him and also sustained some damage, gives him medical care before they try to find their way back to civilzation, but Kelson isn't fully functional until Dhugal successfully Heals his injuries.
  • In The Dying Days, the final novel in the Doctor Who New Adventures series uses this. For most of the novel The eighth Doctor is mistakenly thought dead, allowing companion Bernice Summerfield to act as the main character. This was, in part, intended to establish her as leading character material for her own spin-off series which was about to be launched.
  • InCryptid:
    • In the second book, Midnight Blue-Light Special, Verity is captured by the Covenant, and the POV switches to Sarah as she and Dominic try to rescue her.
    • In Imaginary Numbers, Sarah herself is kidnapped, and several chapters are from Artie's POV as he, Annie, Sam, and Mark try to find her and bring her home.
  • Happens in some of Edward Marston's novels:
    • In The Roaring Boy, playwright Edmund Hoode is arrested after the company stages a play based on an in-universe court case. Hoode had revised a play given them by some interested parties and put his name on it at their suggestion, but other interested parties dislike the notion that the people hanged for murder weren't guilty. The company has to get Hoode out of prison, as well as solve the original crime and more recent ones that follow their production.
    • In The Devil's Apprentice, lead actor Lawrence Firethorn is repeatedly laid low by illnesses that mimic the ones suffered by his character in the company's new play. His wife and the company have to recast his parts, get medical help, and nurse him back to health.
    • In The Vagabond Clown, resident clown Barnaby Gill breaks his leg during a performance and has to be temporarily replaced with another comic actor who is subsequently murdered. Later still, the leading man of the troupe Lawrence Firethorne is abducted, forcing the cast to cover for him during a performance and search for him offstage.
    • In The Counterfeit Crank, resident playwright Edmund Hoode is laid low by a mysterious illness and the troupe solicits work from a new playwright while still encouraging their colleague to recover.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24 when Jack Bauer was infected with a lethal substance that left him unable to work properly in the field, Tony Almeida was forced to infiltrate the terrorist hideout and blow the rest of it up. Even after Tony turns out to be The Mole and Jack returns to the field, his deteriorating condition forces him to still limit his activity, which leaves Agent Renee Walker to handle most of the action.
  • Angel and the plot with Angel being trapped in a box underwater. In this situation, Gunn and Fred act as co-leaders of Angel Investigations (which only consists of them and Connor, who instigated the whole thing to begin with). They're all that's left even, as Cordelia, Wesley, and Lorne are also gone.
    • There's also the situation later in that season where Angel loses his soul and becomes Angelus again. Wesley takes command alongside Faith.
    • Similarly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a couple of episodes where Buffy was sidelined. In these cases, Willow or Giles took command.
  • In the 1960s Doctor Who was shot year-round at the rate of one episode per week, and so all the regulars would be written out for the occasional week so they could have a week's holiday, leading to all the other characters taken a larger role than normal.
    • David Tennant's debut as the Doctor in The Christmas Invasion features this. The Doctor is unconscious from his regeneration for most of the episode, forcing Rose Tyler to try to perform his role.
  • Emergency! used this a few times. Most often, Gage was the injured party. Once, he was hit by a car, once he was felled by a monkey virus. Roy had to cope with temporary partners like a guy who insisted on doing everything totally by the book.
  • The series Magnum, P.I. was mostly about Thomas Magnum's casework, but more than once an episode revolved around Thomas being missing and /or injured, giving T.C., Rick, and Higgins their time in the spotlight. Notably:
    • "Home from the Sea" begins with Thomas on his surf kayak when he's swept off it by the wake of a passing boat. He treads water for an extended period while his friends discover he's missing and go in search of him.
    • In "Smaller than Life", Magnum is laid up in the hospital while Rick takes an investigating job with the aid of T.C. and Higgins.
  • Several episodes of NCIS involve Gibbs being taken out of action (amnesia, getting captured, being shot and almost killed, etc.), leaving the rest of his team to solve the current case without him.
  • A semi-regular trope in Stargate SG-1, and the overall franchise, appearing in "Brief Candle" (Jack is infected with nanites that age him to the point of being useless), "100 Days" (Jack is trapped offworld after a gate is buried), and so on.
  • Torchwood with the plot of "Exit Wounds", and appearance of Gray (Jack's brother), who buries Jack alive for almost two thousand years.

  • When Bud Collyer, the voice actor for The Adventures of Superman radio show went on vacation, they'd incapacitate Superman with Kryptonite and bring in Batman as a substitute hero.

    Video Games 
  • Near the end of Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, Felt is turned to stone by Chaos, prompting Viese to leave Eden to find his whereabouts.
  • Chrono Trigger: Crono dies fighting Lavos. But he is revived (or unkilled) thanks to the Chrono Trigger. It's possible to finish the game without him, in which case the ending has his friends try to get him back.
  • In the second Digital Devil Saga game, Serph got killed by Heat, but managed to drag Heat down the core of the EGG Installation, giving Sera a Heroic BSoD. In the meanwhile, you control Gale, until Sera recover from her Heroic BSoD and assumed control. Turns out Serph is still alive and you control him again after rescuing him. Also, in the final dungeon, Serph and Sera merged into Seraph.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: There is a section where the Player Character is in prison, and if you choose to wait for rescue, you will have to control a few of your other party characters and bust yourself out.
  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron: After your boss-fight with Armaros, Enoch gets swallowed by the Darkness while rescuing a little girl, and Armaros - remembering the friendship they once held, and impressed by Enoch's selfless action, has to dive into the darkness to find and cure him. He's noticeably different to play as than Enoch, but far from underpowered...
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy VI: Terra flies off after getting in touch with her Esper side. Luckily, the team can find her pretty easily by following the trail of destruction. Later, the entire playable party can be scattered to the ends of the earth and you can decide to either collect them all or just the minimum three necessary to take on Kefka.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Cloud wanders off and goes for a swim in the life stream. By the time you find him, he has serious mako poisoning and is incoherent.
      • This trope actually happens twice here. First Cloud, the usual leader, goes missing after a series of cutscenes in which the group gets separated and then rejoins. When the group reforms, Tifa takes over as the leader in Cloud’s absence for a bit. But once the group finds Cloud, he is in his incoherent poisoned state. Tifa elects to stay behind to help the doctors nurse Cloud back to health, meaning that the group now has both of its main leaders out of the action. In a surprising upset, Cid of all people is put in charge as the leader with both of them gone (it’s a surprise because he’s been in the group for the shortest amount of time, compared to someone like Barret who was there from the beginning). Eventually Cloud heals and he returns to lead the party again with Tifa.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: After failing a mission, Squall and his entire team are captured. While Squall is locked up in a cell and being tortured, the remaining members of the party have to stage a prison break to save him.
    • Final Fantasy X: The party is captured and put in two separate prisons. Tidus, the usual player character, is in charge of the party members put in the water prison (that is, those three party members who can swim). But in the dungeon prison, Yuna leads as the main player character in Tidus’s absence.
  • Galaxy Angel: On Forte's route in Eternal Lovers, she's unable to pilot her Emblem Frame for the second battle against Wein. As a result, she decides to accompany Tact on the Elsior's bridge to inspire her teammates from there.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: After Pit burns up his wings saving the Anti-Hero, Dark Pit, we spend a level as Dark Pit trying to get his counterpart back in the game so as to avoid owing him anything. Gameplay-wise, there's no difference, but this level is a good deal snarkier than most others. Not an unimpressive feat, considering the rest of the game.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: About halfway through the game, the Player Character, Bastila, and Carth are all imprisoned. Any remaining party member of your choice can be selected to break them out, and as you play as them, they get to answer the Dialogue Tree options in conversations that are typically left for the Player Character only.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: There is a section where you set up a secondary group that will board Goto's yacht to rescue the Exile.
  • This happens to Rean Schwarzer in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel where after he pulls off a Diving Save and injures his arm against the boss to save both Machias and Jusis although he comes back to the spotlight after like ten or so minutes in gameplay. The speed of his recovery however is a foreshadowing moment for the character who healed him. In Cold Steel IV, he's not playable throughout the prologue and the first chapter of the game as he was captured at the end of the previous game. One of his students, Juna Crawford, has to take up the Decoy Protagonist mantle till he reunites with his friends and students.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: When Mario eats the Invincishroom and gets sick Luigi must travel alone to go find the cure.
  • Mass Effect 2: At one point, the Normandy is attacked by the Collectors while Shepard is absent, leading to a mission where you play as Joker and try to avoid the Collectors while activating the ship's defense systems.
  • Mass Effect 3: Between games, Shepard is put under arrest by the Alliance either because they played a part in the destruction of an entire solar system to slow the Reapers down, or just because of their affiliation with Cerberus in the previous game. Either way, they only get out because the Reapers arrive.
  • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne: The player temporarily take control of Mona Sax after Max falls out of a building and Mona has to protect him until he regains consciousness.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity: In a big change of pace from the previous games, the hero returns to their world in the game's ending. The brief post-credits story sequence has you playing as your partner, who's eventually informed of a way to bring them back into the Pokemon world by Hydreigon.
  • Xenogears: Fei is temporarily unavailable after he almost drowns. Even after you get him medical treatment, he takes a while to wake up.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Has happened a few times in El Goonish Shive; overusing magic can lead to burnout, where one's spells just don't work at all. Nanase burned out particularly hard after the battle with Abraham.
  • From The Order of the Stick we have the whole arc where Roy is rather more than just injured, as he is very, very dead (and rotting) instead. It's complicated, but some of the other heroes were working to revive him (in a roundabout sort of way), while the rest were trying to get back together after an unfortunate party-split. And one in particular was... just getting into very deep trouble indeed.

    Western Animation 
  • Due to suffering from a severe case of metal poisoning at the end of Season 3, Korra is taken out of action for almost three years while the newly resurrected Air Nomads promise to follow her example and maintain peace in the world. However, her absence resulted in Team Avatar breaking up almost as an afterthought, which meant there was no Team Avatar to make the world a better place, or to stop Kuvira. Even the Airbenders weren't making much progress either.