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Innocent Bystander Series

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In a world filled with superpowered heroes and villains constantly battling overhead, a world where property damage is common and evil minions run rampant every now and then, have you ever wondered how the normal citizens cope with all that craziness? In this trope, the story focuses solely on those citizens. Often centres on a police force trying to stop normal crimes and having to put up with death rays, or the feeling of inadequacy when the heroes catch perps before they do. Fantastic Racism is also a prevalent theme.

Can be seen as a subtrope of Perspective Flip. When it's just one episode of a larger series, it's a Lower-Deck Episode.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Re:CREATORS spinoff Re:CREATORS One More focuses on a Cosplay Otaku Girl who is absolutely stoked that her town is starting to get overrun with fictional characters, and ends up catching glimpses of the main series' plot along the way.
  • While Kado: The Right Answer focused on the large-scale interactions with Yaha-kui ZaShuina and his gifts to mankind, the spinoff manga about two highschool students shows the audience a glimpse of how commonfolk reacted to the events of the story.
  • Rolling Girls is about four average teenagers in a world where cities are defended by superheroes.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has a mundane example with its spin-off "We Want to Talk About Kaguya'', which focuses on two Recurring Extras from the Mass Media Club and their misinformed interpretations of Kaguya and Shirogane's Battle of Wits.
  • Pluto is a retelling of a famous Astro Boy story arc from the perspective of supporting characters, innocent bystanders, minor villains, other robots... pretty much anybody that isn't Atom himself. Poignantly deconstructed near the end, as almost all the viewpoint characters die or get written out, leaving Atom to save the day and get all the credit for it. Never mind that they all had lives and stories of their own, or that Atom would've never gotten the chance to save the world if not for some of them; he is the hero and they're just the supporting cast, so they all get forgotten in favor of him. He's not happy about it, either.

    Comic Books 
  • While Astro City occasionally has stories from the perspective of superheroes, it far more often explores what life is like for the average person in a superhero universe, such as a story about a comic publisher landing in hot water with a supervillain, or one about an everyman who loses someone dear to him in one of the periodic Cosmic Retcons.
  • Damage Control is a Marvel series following the construction company of the same name, that specializes in clean-up and general rebuilding after large cataclysmic superhero fights. A slight subversion of the trope, as the company has several superpowered employees to help with heavy lifting and such. And deconstructed during Civil War (2006) when this company (now led by a Corrupt Corporate Executive) is by all means and purposes the Greater-Scope Villain of the event, because the Mutant Growth Hormone that boosted Nitro's powers to the point he could perform the Stamford Massacre was secretly peddled by said executive trying to boost the company's revenue, but the only hero who cares about finding out about this and doing something about it is Wolverine because literally everybody else in the superhero community is a little too concerned about beating each other up over the Superhuman Registration Act.
  • Since the Civil War event, Marvel have been using "Front Line" style tie-ins for all their recent crossover events, to show how those events are affecting the Innocent Bystanders of the Marvel Universe (or at least New York...).
  • Gotham Central was a series following the Major Crimes Unit of Gotham City, and all the difficulties of corruption and supervillains in their way.
  • Marvels is the early days of the Marvel Universe from the POV of a muggle newspaper reporter. Its sequel, Eye of the Camera, is much the same way. The four-issue mini-series Code of Honor also provides us with the New York City Police Department's perspective, showing us how all the wild anomalous events of Marvel's universe affect its everyday citizens and their institutions through the eyes of the lowly police officer Jeffrey Piper.
  • Before Gotham Central, there was Metropolis SCU, a DC Comics miniseries about the special police squad trained to deal with supervillains in Metropolis.
  • Powers by Brian Michael Bendis is an ongoing series focusing on regular police officers trying to solve crimes when their world is literally stuffed with crazy superpowers and mad science. Investigations often revolve around the murder of a superhero.
  • Science Police, a miniseries following the Space Police organization from Legion of Super-Heroes and showing how it feels to be an average cop while a bunch of super-powered teenagers get all the glory.
  • Watchmen is told partly from the perspective of the normal police officers investigating the deeds of so-called superheroes and an actual superhero (Dr. Manhattan).
  • In PS238, written by the author of Nodwick, focuses on superhero children, but the closest thing to a protagonist is a non-empowered kid thrown into the middle of the rest and just trying to survive. This is a downplayed example in that the comic focuses predominantly on superheroics, and even the protagonist starts to develop into more of a Badass Normal than a bystander.

    Fan Works 
  • Sporadic Phantoms is about three normal people in the Animorphs universe trying to uncover the local youth club's dark secrets, and occasionally having run-ins with the Animorphs.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Starting with season three, Gotham qualifies, introducing a plethora of powered individuals while Batman isn't yet Batman. Without the technology Batman uses to counter them, it's all up to James Gordon, the Badass Normal police force, and occasionally kid Bruce Wayne to save the day.
  • The Mandalorian takes place in the Star Wars Reboot universe but completely outside of the Skywalker Saga ethos. Instead it focuses on the titular bounty hunter trying to make ends meet in the Outer Rim five years after the Galactic Civil War ended. The main character knows nothing about Jedi or the Force, being more preoccupied with the setting's economic depression. The show repeatedly hints at vast galaxy-shaping machinations going on in the background, such as the rising First Order, the reclamation of Mandalore, and the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, and the Mandalorian himself ends up brushing shoulders with the main characters of multiple previous Star Wars sagas, but none of this has any bearing on the Mandalorian’s far smaller and far more personally important mission. He’d be the Hero of Another Story if it wasn’t his story being told.
  • Downplayed in Marvel's Jessica Jones (2015), Luke Cage (2016) and Daredevil (2015), which do feature powered superheroes but are set at "ground level" compared to the rest of the MCU and make a point of focusing on what it's like to actually live day-to-day in a city that was nearly destroyed by a huge battle between superheroes and aliens. Most notably, a major subplot of Daredevil's first season is Kingpin's plans to capitalise on the property development opportunities of rebuilding New York.
  • Powerless is a workplace sitcom about ordinary people in the DC superhero universe.

  • BIONICLE's Mata Nui On-Line Game and the following web episodes, as well as MNOG II followed the adventures of the normal islanders while the comics kept tabs on the heroes. Occasionally, the two story threads still crossed paths, like when the 2001 movie and video game got canceled, and MNOG had to tie up the main plot along with its own.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Nodwick is a quasi-example of this. While the webcomic has a fully empowered team of main characters, the protagonist of the series is their lackey. Part of the fun of the comic is showing how he deals with being the Mook in a team of heroes.

    Web Original 
  • Dental Repair in Capes and Cowls is the story of a dental hygienist in a world full of vigilante superheroes.
  • The Whateley Universe story "Crime and Chaos" is a Law & Order pastiche where New York cops investigate the murder of a retired (and less than loved) superhero.
  • Karl the Deranged's series "Chaos Descends" occurs in the same universe as If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, and focuses on a handful of ordinary human chaos worshippers living on a backwater desert planet.
  • The podcasts on Violent Life, all set in the Shadowrun universe, seem to like playing with this concept, focusing more on the non-Shadowrunning side of life.
    • Redmond Born starts as this, with the protagonist being an anonymous denizen of the Redmond Barrens just trying to get by. Ultimately averted; her eyes get forcibly replaced with Deltaware and she realizes she's had a free spirit tagging along with her since childhood.
    • Tales from the Stuffer Shack plays this completely straight. It's an actual-play Shadowrun podcast, but the players are a pair of employees at a Stuffer Shack in the Barrens. Not that this stops catastrophic things from happening to them anyway.

    Western Animation 
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks follows a low rank crew on the USS Ceritos, a ship tasked with unimportant duties like making "second contact" with alien civilizations, while other ships in-universe make new discoveries and fight aliens.