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Lower-Deck Episode

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"After six years of being the star around here, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if the spotlight were on some of my supporting players for a change."
JD, Scrubs, "Their Story"

An episode focused primarily on otherwise minor characters, using their point of view to give an outsider's perspective on the central plot or characters (countering the assumption that The Main Characters Do Everything). Not coincidentally, the principal actors are needed a lot less for this sort of episode than in a typical episode. Lower Deck Episodes sometimes arise when the crew is behind on their film schedules and have to shoot a Bottle Episode or piggyback two episodes at the same timenote . The main cast are seldom entirely absent, since they have to get their Mandatory Line in somewhere.

Named for "Lower Decks," episode #167 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, an episode that is notable for both revisiting the life of a minor character from an earlier episode and killing off that same character before we actually see the changes previous events have wrought.

Short films of this nature are sometimes included as a special feature for the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Hollywood films, particularly animated films.

See A Day in the Limelight for a secondary character given the spotlight and Villain Episode for villains. See Breakout Mook Character for full spinoffs for mooks. Compare Elsewhere Fic. May overlap with The Greatest Story Never Told and Poorly-Disguised Pilot. An entire series of Lower Deck Episodes (within a larger 'verse) is an Innocent Bystander Series.

Not to be confused with Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is an entire series focused on "Lower Decks" crew members of a Federation Starship in the Star Trek franchise.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • An episode of the fifth anime season of Hetalia: Axis Powers focuses on a french man whose grandfather had met France when he was younger, and now this man runs into France on a street in Paris. The whole episode is dedicated to show the perspective of common folk on the nations, plus showing the audience a more serious and charming side of France (which the audience loved).
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, another party of adventurers who don't know a thing about cooking monsters occasionally take the spotlight, and are inevitably all killed before the focus switches back to the main characters passing their corpses.
    • This has happened twice already - once with Treasure Bugs who paralyzed/stunned the entire group and they would've been possessed by Spirits had Marcille not prayed over them, and again when a small, teasing argument between the Knight and the Magician who loves him over Humanoid Mermaids caused them to be ambushed and killed by Piscine Mermaids.
    • That party has been given more development in chapters 32-33. They survived their last 2 encounters, one of which was against the corpse hunters who seem to be intent on killing them and profiting off their deaths. And they've figured out that Laios's party was the group that "stole their treasure", and think that they have unsavory motives, and are now making moves to stop them.
  • In Citrus, an unnamed Meganekko that appeared in the beginning of the manga, with the only other appearance was near the end of chapter 2 to give a school speech, was given 2 pages in Citrus Special issue 1 between her, Harumi and Himeko, giving a slightly playful observation to their relationships.
  • Chapter 480 of Bleach which largely focuses on Ryuunosuke Yuki and Shino, two minor characters who were just introduced and barely had any plot relevance, other than being Afro-San's replacements.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) has an episode that focuses on Mustang's team. The episode is based on a number of omake from the manga, where Riza "disciplines" Black Hayate.
  • When Hayate the Combat Butler does these with recurring minor characters, the fact is usually stated enthusiastically by said characters. Sometimes with the main characters complaining that they've been pushed to the sidelines. Of course, this is a given since the series has No Fourth Wall.
  • The Mariage case is the only major storyline in the entire Lyrical Nanoha franchise where neither the Three Aces (Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate), nor a certain clone of the last Belkan Sankt Kaiser play a major role—in fact, the Aces don't appear in it at all. As a result, it is a fairly grounded (by the series' standards) episode that offers unique insight into what most TSAB investigations that don't involve an impending apocalypse or two are like.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: During the Magical World arc, an important number of main characters are transported to it and the action takes place primarily there. There are, however, the occasional chapters that look back at the characters left behind in Japan and the UK.
  • Two special chapters of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun are dedicated to Yumeko Nozaki and Towa Sakura respectively, who are yet to make an appearance in the main story. Both stories have them deal with their older siblings (Yumeko with Nozaki's manga career which she's in denial about, and Towa with Sakura's crush on Nozaki whom he eventually meets).
  • One Piece
    • All of the stories depicted on the chapter covers are this, featuring the events of minor, secondary or even villainous characters in their lives after dealing with the Straw Hats, some elements of which make their way into the main storyline, like the aforementioned Koby-Meppo arc, Django going from pirate to Marine, and Hatchi's mermaid friend Camie and their ongoing cat-and-mouse relationship with the Macro Pirates.
    • The anime has two episodes of "filler" based on the cover story arc of Koby and Helmeppo training to become great marines. Since this is canon (and plays important to the story later) it's hardly considered filler, and was a nice break from the previous chaos.
  • Patlabor: The TV Series: A few episodes revolve around the Labor mechanic team rather than the Labor pilots or their commanders Gotoh and Nagumo. (Shige insists that this was supposed to be the Upper Deck, in one of the Mini-Pato shorts...)
  • Persona 4: The Animation has episode 13, which gets Nanako's perspective on Yu's summer vacation.
  • Naoki Urasawa loves this trope and it's something of a calling card for him. He’ll regularly have points in his series where the plot slows down to develop some minor characters or even background crowd-fillers for a few chapters. Sometimes they work their way into the main plot, other times they just stay in the background. Some notable examples:
    • 20th Century Boys has quite a few chapters that leave the main ensemble to show what minor characters are up to, but the one that best fits this trope is an early chapter in which Chou-San, a detective whose only real role up to that point was briefly questioning Kenji, takes center stage and sets up a Chekhov's Gun that doesn't go off until long after he's dead.
    • Pluto is effectively a Lower-Deck series, taking a story arc from Astro Boy and retelling it from the perspective of the seven Red Shirts whose only purpose in the original was being power-ups for Pluto. Just to take it up a notch, it has some Lower-Deck Episodes of its own, such as a chapter following Professor Ochanomizu or some flashbacks focusing on Montblanc, who's dead before the story even starts.
    • Monster arguably gives just as much focus to how the main characters affect the lives of the various one-shot characters they meet as it does to the greater Myth Arc. Martin Reest's limelight arc is probably the most notable.
  • Pokémon Chronicles is a series that follows the adventures of secondary characters during the Hoenn Arc.
  • Episode 18 of Rental Magica featured mainly Daphne and Sekiren, showing what they were up to when Itsuki and Adilicia dealt with a demon problem the episode before.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena utilized this for the second season during "The Black Rose Saga". Each of the Black Rose duelists were minor characters (save for Wakaba, who's a supporting character, and Kanae, who debuted in the arc) with ties to the Student Council members. The episodes were dedicated to watching them sink lower and lower into despair related to the Student Council, until they were easy prey for Souji Mikage.
  • Godannar has an episode dedicated entirely to the Bridge Bunnies and maintenance crew, mostly centering around the bustier female member of the maintenance crew as she got called for an arranged marriage that she later turns down.
  • Chapter 116 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War was told from the perspective of two members of the school's Mass Media club (who up until that point had been little more than Recurring Extras) as they interviewed the various club presidents and student council members. It also served as a tie-in to their Innocent Bystander Series Spin-Off We Want to Talk About Kaguya, which premiered the same week.
  • Chapter 44 of Asteroid in Love gives focuses on Yuu and Chikage, the younger members of the Earth Sciences Club, as well as Moe's sister Megu. Mira only makes an appearance at the second-last strip of the chapter, and Ao, Mai and Moe do not show up at all.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Airplane, the goat with the propeller hat who appears in the background a lot, gets a major role in Joys of Seasons episode 78, where he finds Mr. Slowy's special paints that bring to life paintings made with them.

    Comic Books 
  • Some of the most memorable stories in Astro City are of this trope, usually focusing on the viewpoint of minor characters in a Superhero universe, witnessing Crisis-level events from the sidelines or behind the scenes. The "Local Heroes" trade collection provide a nice selection, with stories focusing on characters such as a hotel doorman and a lawyer.
  • Avengers: The Initiative #26 is a genuinely moving tear-jerker that tells the story of Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax, two D-list Dazzler villains who end up on the Shadow Initiative squad. Johnny discovers that the Shadow Initiative members are just C-List Fodder meant to perform suicide missions, and ends up dying just in time for the "big name" Initiative heroes to show up and claim all the glory.
  • Several Judge Dredd stories are told from the point of view of regular people with Dredd himself making only sporadic appearances in them.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion of Substitute Heroes is probably the Ur-Example. Stories involving them were about heroes who didn't make the cut trying to join the Legion and how they've dealt with it.
  • Amidst regular story arcs, the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) devote entire issues to Spike, Celestia, Big Macintosh, and Shining Armor.
    • The short story in My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3 focuses on Hayseed Turnip Truck.
    • And a full main-comic entry from the pet's POV.
  • One issue of Roberta Gregory's Naughty Bits focused on a week in the life of New Age co-worker Sylvia, while main character Midge (aka 'Bitchy Bitch') was on vacation. While her relentlessly positive attitude is a source of annoyance for the perpetually cranky Midge, here we see her as a much more three dimensional character who is just as much, if not more so, stressed out by her job as Midge is.
  • Used in PS238, which is set in a Superhero Academy. In the "Return of the Rainmaker" arc, rather than focusing on the aspiring superheroes of the main school, the focus shifts to the "Rainmaker" program, which teaches kids with powers useful for things other than superheroics. In true Chekhov's Gun style, each of the children ends up having to put their unusual abilities to creative use before the end...
  • IDW's Star Trek comic book usually re-tells the stories from the original series in the new timeline created in Star Trek (2009). Issue #13, however, is a Lower Deck Episode taking a very minor character from the film and giving his opinion of the main cast in the form of a letter home to Mom and Dad. It also reveals the fates of some of the original series Red Shirts in the alternate timeline.
  • In a 1970 Roy Of The Rovers story, Roy played for England in the World Cup. However, because the writers had no idea how England would do when the story was written, Roy himself was only seen briefly, and no score was shown; the bulk of the strips for 1970 instead followed the Rovers as they competed in local matches without their star striker.

  • The Homestuck fanfic "Outsiders" is about the meteor apocalypses upon two planets, as seen from the viewpoint of a completely mundane and unrelated bystander human and bystander troll.
  • Another Homestuck fanfic that fits this trope ("Motherfucking Perspicacity"), is this time the story of Dave growing up to become a player in an apocalyptic game- from the perspective of his "long-suffering 6th grade teacher." (Trigger Warning: there are references to Bro's abuse- it's not graphic, but still.)
  • The Harry Potter fanfiction The Ollivander Children looks at the Second War against Voldemort from the point of view of people who never meet Harry Potter and have no chance of fighting Voldemort, much less defeating him, and their particular struggles in the war.
  • Anthropology has two chapters set during Nightmare Night and Hearth's Warming Eve, shown from Lyra's perspective. Naturally the holiday festivities are all an elaborate plot to hide the existence of humans.
  • A World of Illusions is about Trixie and the Illusions. Trixie is a secondary antagonist and her two band mates just mooks in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks.
  • An unused concept for a Calvin & Hobbes: The Series episode would have tracked what Socrates' owner Elliot was up to during the first four seasons. It was scrapped because it wouldn't have been too interesting.
  • Mega Man Reawakened has Arc 4, chapter 2, which focuses on Rush and Bon Bonne.
  • Cave Story Versus I.M. Meen is basically the literal definition of this trope for Cave Story, turning Jack, one of the most minor characters in the entire game, into the lead protagonist, a Badass Adorable Nerd Action Hero.
  • A Brighter Dark: Chapter 28, appropriately titled "Tales of Elsewhere," circles entirely around non-main characters. While none of the characters featured are exactly minor in the usual sense, it does still stand out as the first chapter in which primary protagonist Corrin is not seen or even mentioned.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: The season 6 chapter "The Bug and the Knight" is the first chapter in the entire series to not have any of the main characters make an appearance, not even for minor roles like in other chapters that focused on supporting characters. Instead, the chapter focuses on Hiveena and Ruby Scarlet, two recurring supporting characters throughout the series.
  • Mia Fey: Ace Attorney – The Fool's Turnabout is this to Persona 5. The Metaverse is implied to be used, it is presented from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about it. While Ace Attorney is no stranger to supernatural happenings (Mia herself being a spirit medium from a family of mediums), there is nothing on the same scale as alternate worlds affecting the cognition of others.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Cloverfield is basically a lower deck version of every monster movie ever made. We don't see the perspective of scientists nor any important military figures. Because of this, we have little to no information about the monster and where it came from. Instead, the whole movie revolves around the nameless crowds of people who are trying to avoid getting squashed by the monster.
  • Godzilla (2014) is this to the entirety of Godzilla. Taking some cues from Cloverfield, the film illustrates the terror of a rampaging kaiju through ordinary humans trying to survive the devastation left behind, where throughout most of the runtime, Godzilla is shot from ground level or other angles that otherwise depict the King of Monsters as so colossal that he's borderline incomprehensible. Unsurprisingly with the whole Just Here for Godzilla phenomenon, this was a highly divisive approach, no doubt inspiring the sequel to depict Godzilla and co in a more traditional lens.
  • In response to the Bruce and Lloyd's unexpected break away popularity in the Get Smart movie, the spin-off movie Get Smart's Bruce And Lloyd: Out of Control was released, focusing on their escapades while everybody is distracted by Maxwell Smart's adventures.
  • After appearing as minor characters in several movies and a TV series, Jay and Silent Bob finally took center stage in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
  • Machete is a series of R-Rated action films starring the Spy Kids character of the same name.
  • In Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, the focus of the story is on Lasky and the other cadets. Even when the fighting starts and when Master Chief shows up, they only catch glimpses of the latter's heroics.
  • Rogue One for the Star Wars franchise, the main characters are not Jedi or leaders of the Rebellion, and the Skywalker clan only makes brief appearances. Also shows how nasty, brutish, and short life can be for the poor shlubs in the galaxy.
  • Moneyball: The movie focuses on the role players and a former all-star in the twilight of his career but does not mention the league MVP or the strongest starting pitching in the league. It would be like having a movie about the back-to-back Championship teams of the Miami Heat but focusing the story on Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen, and Ray Allen without ever mentioning Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh.

  • The 87th Precinct novel He Who Hesitates by Ed McBain is narrated by the criminal (and is the only one of the novels to have a first person narration) and the reader only gets to see the cops of the 87th Precinct as they appear to him.
  • In the Discworld series, "Unseen Academicals" is primarily presented from the view of four blue-collar university staff, observing the activities of the wizards with uncertainty and amusement.
    • More generally, later novels introduce several groups of people in short succession — the staff of the Times, Moist von Lipwig, the Borogravians — to view and clash with the City Watch (and sometimes the city-state of Ankh-Morpork itself) from the outside. However, many of these supposed "short term protagonists" later get repeat appearances or even subseries of their own.
  • The Doctor Who novel Who Killed Kennedy (available for free online-reading at the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club webpage) takes a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead approach to the early Third Doctor era, notably the Master episodes, from the POV of a Times reporter whose career is sent into a tailspin when he attempts to uncover the truth about UNIT, and later gets recruited by the Doctor to stop the Master from interfering with the past during the Kennedy assassination.
  • The Dresden Files short stories "Backup" (starring Thomas Raith, whom we know to be Harry's half brother at that point), "Even Hand" (starring "Gentleman" John Marcone), "Aftermath" (starring Karrin Murphy after the events of Changes) and "Bombshells" (starring Molly Carpenter, also set between Changes and Ghost Story). Except for a few moments in "Backup", Harry doesn't even show up in these stories, focusing more on important people in his life dealing with the supernatural without him. In each story, the reader gets to see Harry through the eyes of his allies: in "Backup", Thomas sees Harry as an artist and philosopher when it comes to magic, in "Even Hand", Marcone reveals that all the anti-magic defenses in his stronghold are there in the event that he and Dresden go head to head, since Marcone sees him as a Worthy Opponent, and in "Aftermath", Karrin has to deal with a supernatural investigation without Harry's help.
    • There's also "Cold Case", about Molly's first mission as the Winter Lady.
  • Bean from Ender's Game gives a fresh perspective by having an entire book, Ender's Shadow, based on him during the same time-frame as the original book.
  • The Lost Fleet: The spinoff comic Corsair (following escaped prisoners of war who missed most of the fleet's campaign) and the prequel short story "Ishigaki" (the sole story to date told from the POV of an enlisted sailor) both feature protagonists who are lower-ranking than the usual POV characters and have a more objective and curious view of Geary.
  • The Reader (2016) has a chapter about the naive Captain Lon and his associates trying to arrest Hatchet's men, only to fail miserably. He even realizes near the end that he was probably just a bit player in someone else's story.
  • Relativity has a few of these, mostly in the Side Stories collections. "Summer Job", "Lady Luck", and "Secrets" are all lower-deck episodes. So is "Rune", which is part of the main continuity (although that's technically a Villain Episode).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows is this. Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, two of the central characters from the very beginning, are absent, while Jon Snow is only seen from another POV, leaving Sansa and Arya Stark as the sole first-book POVs remaining. The story also focuses less on palace intrigue and more on the role and actions of smallfolk during the War of the Five Kings.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • I, Jedi largely does this as the main story is Corran's quest to save his wife by learning to become and Jedi and infiltrating a pirate ring, with the backdrop of the Jedi Academy trilogy. It features cameos from all of the main movie characters in which they were involved in their own struggles and his conflict was barely relevant to them. Luke does make a significant appearance at the ending and shows just what a proper Jedi can do to the Jensaarai, a splinter group of Dark Side force users. This was after Corran was concerned with fighting even one of them.
    • Death Star is told from the perspective of rank-and-file Imperial troops and civilian contractors stationed on the first Death Star before and during A New Hope. They have a collective Heel Realization at the true nature of what they're stationed on when Tarkin orders Alderaan destroyed.
  • The War of the Worlds (1898):
    • The book follows the first-person narrative of an Action Survivor, a simple middle-class scientific journalist. Likewise, the 2005 film centers around a dockworker who tries to survive the invasion with his two children. Apart from the opening and closing narration, we only know and see what's seen by him.
    • There is a central portion of exposition regarding what the narrator's brother saw, which is important as it describes one of only two even remotely successfulnote  attempts to engage the Martians in combat.
  • The Watchers of the Throne series serves as this for Warhammer 40K, showcasing the politics and conspiracies that are usually in the background of the endless wars the game is known for. In particular, it shows what was happening on Terra during the events of the Gathering Storm campaign.
  • The Warrior Cats Expanded Universe manga stories Ravenpaw's Path and Tigerstar and Sasha are this, focusing on minor characters amidst the clan wars.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in a 30 Rock episode shown as an episode of "Queen of Jordan". Angie's effort to organize a charity fashion show keeps getting overshadowed by the show's focus on Jack's Unresolved Sexual Tension with his mother-in-law, Liz's feud with a baby and even Kenneth's feud with a power cord. Technically, it's a lower deck episode of her show.
  • The eighth episode of American Crime Story, "A Jury in Jail", pulls away from the big personalities in the O.J. Simpson trial and instead focuses on the miserable toll the trial is having on the jurors, sequestered under draconian rules for eight months away from their families.
  • Angel:
  • The fifth-season Babylon 5 episode "A View from the Gallery" takes the idea to its logical extreme by focusing on janitors on the space station, characters we'd never seen before and never saw again. The episode also hangs some lampshades. Ever try to figure out the purpose of those vaguely mop-like things that you see random crew members using in the background? So do they.
    Bo: Well, what does it do? It's not a cleaner.
    Mack: I don't know. Maybe it strengthens the metal or something.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) has many a Lower Deck episode, often coupled with a Day in the Limelight. Episodes focus on the literal lower deck with Chief Tyrol experiencing the troubles the of fuel shortages and labor disputes. There are also Day in the Limelight episodes focusing on less important pilots. The movie, Razor, is almost an entire Lower Deck/ Limelight of the Pegasus, its former Captains, and its XO.
  • Whereas Breaking Bad was focused on Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Walt's immediate family, Better Call Saul revolves around the members of Breaking Bad's main cast that were introduced in season 2 onwards, Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Gus Fring.
  • CSI:
    • The lighthearted Breather Episode slash Bottle Episode "You Kill Me", about The Lab Rat Hodges (not himself part of this trope, being a credits-listed character by this point) running the other Lab Rats through elaborate (and absurd) murder scenarios as part of a CSI-themed board game he was creating. The previous episode featured the Put on a Bus departure of a main character, while the following episode concerned another main character breaking down after becoming addicted to prescription drugs.
    • Another episode titled "Lab Rats" features said lab rats trying their best to solve the season's Myth Arc. They didn't do a bad job either, actually identifying a fairly important clue about the killer's psychosis.
  • Desperate Housewives season five featured a look back at the life of a previously seen character, handy-man Eli Scrugs (played by Beau Bridges), with the main characters remembering their most significant encounters with him, ending with a flash-back to Scrugs himself visiting Mary-Alice just before her suicide, which opened the series pilot.
  • Doctor Who:
    • From the classic series, there is "Mission to the Unknown", which basically operates like a typical Who episode — a bunch of alien cultures have united to fight the Daleks, and find themselves under attack. Rather than signposting its lower-deck nature, it simply presents itself as an ordinary Who episode in which the Doctor and his companions just happen to not show up, and because they're not there to save the day mass slaughter ensues. (Of course, they didn't leave it at that, as the episode also functions as a prologue to "The Daleks' Master Plan".)
    • The 2005 Christmas special "The Christmas Invasion" has the newly-regenerated Tenth Doctor unconscious for the better part of the episode, with most of the action up until then focused on UNIT and the prime minister.
    • Series 2 and 3 have such an episode, doubling as Bottle Episodes. Usually called "Doctor-lite" episodes in the fandom (they were borne out of a production necessity, as the addition of a Christmas special from Series 2 onwards meant they had to produce 14 episodes in the same time as they had produced 13 for Series 1), these two, titled "Love & Monsters" and "Blink", focus on Muggles with only peripheral access to the Doctor's world, and how those characters react to High Weirdness without the Doctor around to explain what's going on. "Love & Monsters" notably had point of view shots of Elton referring to other episodes.
    • Series 4, rather than repeating the conventional formula, had one episode focusing solely on Donna, with the Doctor absent except for the very beginning and the very end. This and the previous episode (with the Doctor centre screen and the companion mostly absent) served the same purpose as a single Lower Deck Episode: to produce one more episode in the series than the stars were able to film. Indeed, both were filmed simultaneously.
  • Highlander had the episode "They Also Serve", which focused on Joe Dawson and the other Watchers.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street:
    • The series of episodes starting with "Bop Gun" and ending with "Blood Wedding" which showed Murder Investigations from the perspective of those left behind.
    • The final third-season episode, "The Gas Man", follows two new characters as they stalk main character Frank Pembleton and his wife around Baltimore. A variation on this trope, as it wasn't done to free up the main cast for other episodes, but as a screw-you to NBC for the show's constant near-cancellation.
  • Leverage: Redemption has the episode "The Belly of the Beast Job", which is told from the point of view of an employee of the abusive executive the Leverage crew is trying to take down.
  • The Mandalorian is essentially a series of lower-deck episodes about the Star Wars universe. While a Proud Warrior Race Guy Bounty hunter adopting an alien with magic powers would hardly be considered normal in any reality, the Mandalorian is ultimately just trying to earn a living and find the best future for his adopted son, not fighting in wars against tyrannical empires or working with orders of ancient warrior-monks.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a Lower Deck Series for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It casts Coulson, a popular supporting character from the films, as the leader of a team of misfit The Men in Black-types who have to deal with weird extraterrestrial and superheroic incidents that, while still dangerous, are usually a bit below the notice of guys like Iron Man and Captain America.
    • The episodes "The End of the Beginning" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" are specifically Lower Deck Episodes for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as the team has to deal with the immediate fallout of the movie's events; and the rest of the season is devoted to further consequences.
    • An episode of the second season also makes the "lower deck" very important for the plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron: Coulson's team was the one who provided the Avengers with the location of the HYDRA base that they raid at the beginning of the film. They were also the ones who provided the Helicarrier that was important for the climax.
    • Marvel's Netflix shows (Daredevil (2015), Jessica Jones (2015), Luke Cage (2016), Iron Fist (2017), and The Defenders (2017)) are about lower level superheroes who deal with street criminals or extraterrestrial elements that are even beneath the notice of SHIELD.
    • On The Punisher (2017), Frank Castle's deck is so low that his adventures contain no aliens, superpowers, magic, or Applied Phlebotinum of any kind. A person who only watched The Punisher (2017) could think the MCU takes place in a completely normal world.
  • The Master of None season 2 episode "New York, I Love You" shifts focus away from Dev and his friends (who this time, only appear in the Book Ends), and peeks into the lives of some working-class people of color, including a doorman, a deaf cashier, and a taxi driver.
  • Millennium (1996) has an example in Season 2's "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", which focuses mostly on four devils swapping war stories (including driving a Broadcast Standards and Practices head so insane he shot up the set of a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of sister show The X-Files). And it turns out Frank Black managed to see all four of them in their true forms. It's also highly offbeat and humorous, entirely at odds with the show's general tone of hyper-darkness, to the point where it actually seems more appropriate for a Buffy or Angel episode.
  • Once Upon a Time: "The Bear King" is Merida, Mulan and Ruby versus Arthur and Zelina. None of the main characters appear at all.
  • An interesting example in the Person of Interest episode "Relevance". The premise of the show is that a secret government surveillance supercomputer can predict acts of terrorism and, as a by-product, spot ordinary civilians who will be involved with violent crimes. The protagonists are the ones who deal with the latter, the so-called "irrelevant" list, so it's jarring when an episode late in the second season suddenly focuses on Shaw, a badass assassin whose job is to follow up on the "relevant" list. Much like the Doctor Who examples, their paths cross briefly but we follow Shaw for the whole episode and the protagonists appear in a barely a handful of scenes.
    • In the fourth season, we revisit the "relevant list" organization in "Control-Alt-Delete," this time following their leader around as she crosses paths with the normal protagonists. This example is a bit of a subversion since said leader is in more of an upper decks role, but the episode still serves the purpose of observing the main cast from the outside (and giving them a break from filming).
  • Remember WENN had an episode where Victor and all the actors disappear after the first few minutes (off to a convention in Harrisburg) and as a result Betty and the minor station employees have to keep the programming going for a full day.
  • Double subverted in the Sanctuary episode "Icebreaker". The episode opens with Henry (a supporting lead character), Declan (a recurring minor character), and a bunch of newbies on an isolated ship in the Bering Sea. The audience expects this trope when the characters reveal that Magnus and Will (the leads) are on their way but severely delayed by the heavy storm, but the trope is subverted almost immediately when Will and Magnus arrive. Double subverted when the real Magnus and Will show up at the end of the episode and reveal that the earlier pair were shapeshifting abnormals.
  • Scrubs: The series had a yearly tradition of passing off episode narration via Internal Monologue to other cast members besides the main character, J.D. After 7 years, they exhausted giving the narration to their main cast and went on to the very common supporting cast.
    • Season 7 has "Their Story," looking at three minor characters; Jordan (Dr. Cox's wife and hospital board member), Todd (meathead surgeon) and Ted (incompetent, put upon lawyer). Each story had a plot involving the main cast and their struggles, with each coming to the rescue even if not getting much, if any, recognition for it.
    • Season 8 has "Their Story II", focused on and narrated by the interns that have been slowly introduced since the beginning of the season. As a result, it's remarkably similar to a season 1 episode, one of the interns became a main character in the Spin-Off / Post-Script Season in season 9.
    • The episode that followed "Their Story II", "My Full Moon", featured none of the main cast except for Elliott and Turk. They discuss their fears during a night shift while watching over the interns, who collectively get an equal amount of screentime as the two regular characters.
  • The Sopranos began its third season by "Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood" having a particularly unremarkable day for the titular family shown through the eyes of the rarely-seen FBI. Overlaps with Villain Episode.
  • Stargate SG-1 has done this a few times.
    • The 5th season episode "Proving Ground", about some previously unseen cadets in a Stargate training program (one of them had appeared in the 4th season episode "Prodigy", but three were genuinely new).
    • The appropriately-titled 6th season episode "The Other Guys", which was also a subversion of All Up to You.
    • The 7th season's "Avenger 2.0" featured the same characters from "The Other Guys".
    • The 8th season's "Citizen Joe", in which a mild-mannered barber gets psychic images of the SG-1 team and tells the stories to his wife and friends — thus also allowing for a Clip Show.
    • Inverted with two of the show's other Clip Shows, "Disclosure" and "Inauguration", which are essentially Upper-Deck Episodes. Both focus on the Stargate program as it's seen from the higher levels of politics, with SG-1 only appearing in flashbacks (that is, clips from previous episodes) as their missions are discussed.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
      • "Hollow Pursuits" is a partial example. Half the focus is on peon Lt. Barclay and half the focus is on how our main characters deal with him. We also get more time with La Forge's otherwise-anonymous direct reports.
      • In "First Contact" (the episode, not the film), we see a Star Trek episode mostly from the perspective of the planet they're visiting, rather than the Enterprise Crew, and if we do see the crew, it's because of the inhabitants meeting with them.
      • In "The First Duty" the Enterprise returns to Earth and visits Starfleet Academy after Wesley was involved in a piloting demonstration crash that claimed the life of a classmate. This was an unusual look at prospective Starfleet officers and the expectations put upon them. Notably, one of Wesley's classmates ended up as one of the ensigns in "Lower Decks," with Picard referencing the events of the episode as a Secret Test of Character.
      • The Trope Namer episode "Lower Decks" focuses on a group of four ensigns (and a friendly Ten Forward server) who are concerned about their performance evaluations, and figuring out which of them will have a chance to be promoted. In the background, we hear a more typical storyline going on, but the audience is left in the dark just like the ensigns, who do not have the security clearance to learn what is going on. When we do see real focus on the main cast, such as Geordi, the primary discussion still involves evaluations of the younger officers, and the main cast are shown acting as their superior officers (whereas normally they're shown being subservient to Picard.)
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • "Good Shepherd" was a Lower Deck Episode that literally showed the lower decks, starting with a Delegation Relay from the captain's quarters at the top of Voyager, down to Deck 15 at the bottom — the dimly-lit, poorly-maintained areas where the real work of keeping a poorly-supplied refugee ship running was carried out. The three redshirts focused on were misfits who under normal conditions would have been transferred off Voyager long ago, were it not for the long walk home. (They don't get sole focus, though, sharing the episode with Janeway. On the other hand, their interactions with Janeway - and each other - make up the majority of the action, and their character development.)
      • "Learning Curve" was a similar episode, which focused on training Maquis crewmembers that, unlike Chakotay or Torres, had no Starfleet experience whatsoever. Tuvok plays as close to Drill Sergeant Nasty as a Vulcan can get.
  • St. Elsewhere:
    • "The Women" is predominantly told from the perspective of three patients sharing a room: Evelyn Milbourne, Rose Orso and Paige Gerradeaux.
    • "Rites of Passage" is largely told from the perspective of three boys sharing a room in the children's ward: Elvis, Ryan Deaton and Michael Skelton.
  • Supernatural:
    • "Ghostfacers", which focuses on up-until-then one-shot characters the Ghostfacers who coincidentally end up on the same hunt as Sam and Dean.
    • "Weekend at Bobby's", which focuses mainly on the supporting characters Bobby Singer, Rufus Turner, Jodi Mills, and Crowley. Sam & Dean Winchester briefly make small appearances throughout the episode, but mainly over the phone, and are never in the same shots as the Supporting Characters.
    • "Bitten", which focuses on a werewolf named Kate; the majority of the episode is based on a video diary Kate made of events that led to her being turned and killing her sire, while observing the Winchesters carrying out their hunt from the side without realising what was going on.
    • "Lebanon" isn't a full-on example, since Sam and Dean do get quite a bit to do, but much of it focuses on three local muggle teens who had never been seen before and thus far have only appeared in one episode since.
    • "Baby" is focused entirely on the Impala the protagonists drive.
  • The second-season episode "Beard After Hours" from Ted Lasso focuses on the surreal evening of coach Beard and the three Richmond fans from the pub, with series regulars Ted, Nate and Roy appearing only in the final scene, and Rebecca, Keeley and Higgins not appearing at all.
  • One season one episode of This Is Us turn the focus away from the Pearson family and instead focus on Dr. K and the fireman who found Randall at the fire station. The penultimate episode of season two focused on Randall's foster daughter, Deja, and her mother, Shauna.
  • The Torchwood episode "Random Shoes". It was actually narrated by the protagonist of the episode to differentiate it even further from the normal episodes.
  • The X-Files has the episodes "Unusual Suspects" and "Three of a Kind" which focus on the Lone Gunmen, the first an flashback Origin Story with Mulder, the second with Scully in Vegas. Also the episode "X-Cops", which showcases an In-Universe episode of COPS (1989) that follows several LAPD officers who run into Mulder and Scully investigating a fear entity on a rampage.

  • A lower deck scene occurs in 1776 after "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men" when custodian McNair, his assistant, and the Courier are left alone. They joke about how noisy, aristocratic, and eager to start wars without fighting themselves Congress is. Then the Courier sings "Momma, Look Sharp" (a song from the point of view of his friend, who died in the Battle of Lexington) when asked about the fighting.
  • A Chorus Line does this for musical theatre. The chorus line of a musical are dancers/singers who are the equivalent of extras/background in movies; they are there to support the stars and character actors, with the difference from movie extras being that they have to sing and dance. The stage musical examines the lives and motivations of these people through a long and grueling audition. The point is hammered home in the "One" finale, when (some of) the performers whom we have gotten to know as individuals are formed into the identically-costumed chorus line of the title, while singing about the never-seen main character of the fictional play they've been auditioning for.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a variation crossed with The Rashomon, featuring the point of view of two minor Hamlet characters.

    Video Games 
  • Dead Space: Extraction features, for a short time, Karen Howell, a botanist, who worked in hydroponics. She kills a brute protecting Lexine, but she dies when she calls Warren out for seeding Unitologists into every corner of the ship. Immediately afterwards she is attacked by a tentacle and left to die by Warren while he yells about his "god" having different plans. This leaves the player in serious doubt of his character.
  • The Disney's Hades Challenge game focuses on other Greek mythology adventures that weren't covered in the Hercules movie.
  • In the Dishonored Series, Dishonored and Dishonored 2 deal with the Royal Family of the Empire of the Isles, chiefly Royal Protector Corvo Attano and his daughter Empress Emily Kaldwin. The 2-Part DLC The Knife of Dunwall/The Brigmore Witches and the standalone, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider focus on the Working-Class Hero assassins Daud and Billie Lurk. The Vanilla Game explores the powerful and influential class of the Empire, the DLC and standalone focus on the underbelly and the downtrodden.
  • Doomł has the Lost Mission. Viewed from the perspective of the last surviving Bravo Team member (who was dragged through the vents before the Doom Marine could connected with Bravo). The story runs in parallel (though they never cross) to the main story, with the Bravo Marine trying to close a prototype portal in the old Exis labs near Mars City, as the demons could use this as a "back door" to Earth.
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin involves an SFOD-D squad near the end of the first game. The expansion pack's protagonist is a Replica Red Shirt who gets possessed by Fettel.
  • Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life: Blue Shift and Half-Life: Decay follow the events of the first Half-Life from the point of view of marine Adrian Shehpard (one of the troops sent to clean up the mess in Black Mesa by shooting who knew about it, thus one of the bad guys in the base game), security guard Barney Calhoun (a Black Mesa security guard and friend of the protagonist) and scientists Gina Cross and Colette Green (work colleagues of the protagonist) respectively. While Barney went on to a supporting role in Half-Life 2 and Colette and Green's story was wrapped up in their only appearance, fans are still waiting to find out what happened to Shephard after his cliffhanger ending.
  • Halo 3: ODST begins roughly halfway through Halo 2 and ends near the beginning of Halo 3. It follows the story of a group of ODSTs trying to fight their way through the ravaged city of New Mombasa (which was ravaged back in Halo 2, though the player back then didn't get to see the worst of it). The trope is doubly present, as the player character is the "rookie" member of the ODST team. The Rookie spends most of the game separated from his squad, simply trying to figure out what all of the named & voiced characters were doing.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is this to the film trilogy, showcasing an unrelated group of characters tailing after the Fellowship of the Ring and encountering many of the same things, including the Watcher in the Water, the Balrog, and the Witch-King.
  • Medal of Honor: Underground focuses on Manon Batiste, the player's advisor from the first game, before and during the events of that story.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise From The Ashes: The game functions as a lower deck episode for the Gundam metaseries, not unlike Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team. The campaign isn't about winning the war (or even turning the tide), but their contributions are important and more personal. It's also considerably less outlandish than the other series, eschewing the absolutely bonkers technological (and Psychic Powers) arms race, and instead of being a The Chosen One who fell into the cockpit, the characters are already hardened soldiers.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 0 follows Bravo Team member Rebecca Chambers in the 24 hours before the first game.
    • Separate Ways in the Updated Re-release of Resident Evil 4 follows the campaign from Ada's point of view.
    • Resident Evil 5 has two DLC of these, "Lost in Nightmares" the prequel to the game, and "Desperate Escape" shows Jill and Josh escaping the Tricell facility, taking place while Chris and Sheva fight Wesker.
    • Resident Evil: Revelations, has a couple of short chapters where you control minor characters Quint Cetcham and Keith Lumley. Unlike the major characters, their mission are meant to be mostly comedy relief that play on the Buddy Picture tropes.
    • Resident Evil: Outbreak follows a group of civilian survivors during the Raccoon City Zombie Apocalypse.
    • A rather ironic one with Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles have side chapters focusing on various other people temporarily to show what they were doing during that situation, which mirrors the purpose of the games to focus on Wesker and Leon respectively. There's even a chapter in Umbrella Chronicles about what H.U.N.K. was up to during RE2.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando focused entirely on four clone commandos in three engagements during the Clone Wars. Not a single Jedi in sight.
  • Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain casts the player as an IPCA rookie codenamed Cobra, although Logan and the other main characters are playable in the bonus missions.
  • The Touhou Project Gaiden Game, Yousei Daisensou ~ Touhou Sangetsusei, features Cirno as the only playable character, setting out not to thwart some incredibly powerful being from messing with the natural order of things, but as revenge against the local Terrible Trio for wrecking her house (even though they didn't actually wreck her house). And the obligatory Optional Boss fight is basically an inversion of stage 1 or 2 of every Touhou game ever, a pitifully weak character getting pulverised by one of the main characters.
  • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius features this with side events. In particular, the second, "A Promise Beyond Time" doesn't even mention the main characters at all, with only a minor character that briefly bumped into them for a few moments appearing. These side events typically go more into details that round out the world of the game while the main characters are busy with trying to save it.
  • One of the Mega Man Zero drama tracks is a small lighthearted vignette focusing on Aouette asking around the Resistance Base for suggestions on what to name the Baby Elves. It takes place during one of Zero's missions, since he only shows up near the end of the track.
  • Final Fantasy IX had short interludes called Active Time Events that showed what other characters are up to while the game is going on. The player has the option to actually ignore these.

  • Round 6 of Fite! leaves Lucco and Guz, the main characters thus far, to focus on Ricci, who had only appeared briefly before then.
  • Act 5 Act 1 of Homestuck, aka Hivebent, focused entirely on the trolls, who had previously been secondary characters only known by their screennames, while doubling the main cast. Some of those trolls remained side characters, while others...did not.
  • My Life as a Background Slytherin focuses on the background characters of Harry Potter, both canonical ones like Dobby, Peeves or the Bloody Baron, and ones created for the comic, like background students Kevin, Violet and the main character Emily.
  • One chapter of PepsiaPhobia is focused primarily on the Cuckoos and Lord Nightsorrow. It's called "Not Everything's About Phobia".
  • In a manner of speaking, the entirety of Star Mares is a lower deck episode, but the second interquel special in particular focuses on Redshift, a character who has hitherto only served as the Butt-Monkey.

    Web Original 
  • Any LoadingReadyRun video featuring Kathleen and her kooky friends is one of these since they deviates from the usual cast and location so drastically. (Includes "Job Hunt" and "Stuck In A Car With Your Friends".) They're usually made due to filming constraints. Namely, the fact that Graham's in Prince George at the time.
  • Welcome to Night Vale has The September Monologues, with Cecil only appearing for the intro and outro. The episode features three monologues by The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, Dark Owl Records owner Michelle Nguyen, and Steve Carlsberg.
  • Hello, from the Magic Tavern did this with two of the interlude episodes between seasons 1 and 2. "Chicago" revisited Sarah, back on Earth and trying to figure out what happened during her missing week, joined by Inta and Nerf. "Scenes From Foon" revisits some previous guests and also has an extended skit on the space bunker. As well, the main broadcast cuts off early in "Homesick" and "Low Battery", and the rest of the show follows Craig, Trisha, and the Mysterious Man.

    Western Animation 
  • One of the original shorts that preceded the Ćon Flux series switches focus from the "heroine" to the point of view of the mooks being killed by her.
  • The Aladdin: The Series episodes "Rain of Terror" and "Power to the Parrot" don't feature Aladdin or Jasmine as the main characters, instead focusing on Genie, Abu and Iago. Well, in "Power to the Parrot", it does feature Aladdin and Jasmine, but they are Demoted to Extra and barely have any lines, let alone an impact on the plot, and become Plucky Comic Relief. "Mission: Imp Possible" also features Aladdin getting poisoned at the very beginning so it can focus on Genie and Iago's attempts to recover the antidote for the entire episode.
  • "The Others," a fourth-season episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, focuses on Clare Cooper, a heretofore unmentioned 8th-grade student in Gumball's school who seemingly stars in her own show called The So-Called World of Clare — a dour Teen Drama to contrast Gumball's zany Fantastic Comedy. Most of the episode has Gumball attempting to retake control of the episode by solving all of Clare's realistic problems with fantastic solutions out of place for something resembling As Told by Ginger.
  • An entire episode of American Dad! focused solely on Steve's life at Pearl Bailey High School, with the rest of the Smiths only getting a brief cameo, and Stan lampshading this.
  • A sequence of Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes centers on Carl and the Aqua Teens' landlord Markula. The Aqua Teens themselves are absent, having been cocooned by military spiders in the Mojave Desert.
  • A season 19 episode of Arthur is based around Maria, a Living Prop background character who hasn't even spoken a word in the almost 20 years the series has been running but is well-known with fans. Her episode "Maria Speaks" presents her as The Silent Bob who only speaks to her friend Jenna because she has a very noticeable stutter.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has an episode, "To Steal an Ant-Man," which consists almost entirely of Iron Fist and Luke Cage (who had never appeared in the cartoon before this point) fighting criminals. None of the Avengers appear except for The Wasp, who only does so during the first three minutes, and ex-Avenger Hank Pym, who had enlisted the two Heroes For Hire to hunt the man who stole his former crimefighting equipment. Hank gets some additional Character Development in this episode, giving it some connection to one of the show's main plots.
  • The final produced (but not aired) episode of the original Batman: The Animated Series run focuses entirely on Batgirl and Catwoman with Robin playing a supporting role. Discounting a dream sequence at the beginning, Batman only appears out of costume briefly while telephoning Dick out of town.
    • The The New Batman Adventures episode "Girl's Night Out" is a crossover episode focusing on Batgirl and Supergirl. Batman only appears for about two minutes, calling from Europe.
    • Many episodes throughout the series focused on the various residents of Gotham. “Joker’s Favor” was about one of the ordinary citizens of Gotham who got caught up in one of the Joker’s schemes, “P.O.V” focused on the members of the GCPD, showing how both recurring police characters and Red Shirts viewed Batman, and “The Man Who Killed Batman” was about the various mooks who regularly got beatdowns from Batman.
  • The BoJack Horseman episode "A Quick One, While He's Away" is populated entirely by recurring characters, with not one of the five regulars appearing or even being mentioned by name. It focuses solely on how BoJack's actions throughout the series have negatively impacted other people, many of whom are no longer part of his life.
  • Averted on Daria—since there are a lot of recurring background characters with interesting designs, animator/director Guy Moore once pitched an episode focused entirely on them, with our protagonists only appearing in the background. Episode director Karen Disher didn't think it would work, however, since fans were already expressing annoyance at any subplot that didn't focus on Daria and Jane.
  • The episode "The Big Scoop" in The Fairly OddParents!, third season, was Chester and AJ's version of what happened in "A Wish Too Far". When they notice Timmy's sudden popularity, at the same time required to write for the school newspaper, they investigate to find out how he got popular. The voices were redubbed due to different voice actors for Chester and AJ, and the animation was also changed, possibly to match the pace of the dubbed version.
  • A second season episode of Gargoyles features the sub-plot of Vinnie, a hapless security guard who blames the gargoyles for his unemployment (the main plot involved Goliath and Hudson being hunted by Pack member Wolf while he was possessed by the spirit of the Viking warrior Hakon who killed the rest of their clan). While plotting his revenge, he narrates clips of his prior encounters with the gargoyles, interjecting his own POV. Surprisingly, he's also one of the only characters to get and be happy with his vengeance - he's perfectly content with giving Goliath a Pie in the Face.
  • Justice League conceptualized itself on not including the full League roster in every episode, allowing greater focus in keeping the cast of an episode small but also possibly highlighting a minor character who is normally not part of the team at all. As they moved on to Justice League Unlimited and expanding the roster to several dozen, it became more common to have maybe ONE original League member surrounded by a newcomer supporting cast.
    • The first episode of JLU was "Initiation" where Green Arrow is invited to the League, he fights against it but ends up in a mission with Green Lantern, Supergirl and Captain Atom that makes him reconsider, Green Arrow and the last two being their first appearances on the show.
    • "Task Force X" is told from the villain team Task Force X's perspective. The only notable member of the Justice League to make an appearance is the Martian Manhunter, and he nearly thwarts their mission on his own.
    • "The Greatest Story Never Told" focuses on Booster Gold, who gets tasked to the sidelines while all of the greatest heroes are fighting a frighteningly powerful menace, and what he accomplishes in the background while no one notices. It even became a Trope Namer itself.
    • "Patriot Act" focuses on the original Seven Soldiers of Victory, with the only prominent cast member being Green Arrow.
    • "The Ties That Bind" showcases guest stars Mr. Miracle and Big Barda, and they recruit The Flash for help.
    • The pre-Unlimited series, "The Terror Beyond" is really more about Doctor Fate and Solomon Grundy than it is about any of the Justice League, with Aquaman and Hawkgirl getting some attention on the side.
  • Kamp Koral:
    • "Regi-Hilled" focuses on Regigilled, Lady Upturn's butler, a character whose previous appearances rarely amounted to more than one scene. The episode's plot revolves around him getting fired and being taken in by hillbillies Nobby and Narlene.
    • "Eye of the Hotdog" revolves around Bit Character Craig Mammalton, who rarely gets more than one line of dialogue an episode. Here, we're given insight into how he gets along with his cabinmates and how he trains to beat Patrick in an Eating Contest, narrated in the form of a documentary.
  • The Looney Tunes Show has "Ridiculous Journey" which is a roadtrip involving the "pet" characters journeying home ala Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey while meeting other Looney Tunes characters that haven't been used in the show before, instead of the regular cast of Bugs and Daffy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic actually has a lot of episodes not primarily focused on the main six:
    • The episode "Just for Sidekicks", which tells the story of what Spike and the Mane Six's pets were up to in Ponyville during the events of "Games Ponies Play".
    • The 100th episode, "Slice of Life", focuses on background characters and a number of ensemble darkhorses. The main characters only have minimal lines while virtually every background character gets a turn in the foreground.
    • "Brotherhooves Social" takes place synchronously with "Made in Manehattan" and focuses on Big Macintosh filling in for Applejack in the Sisterhooves Social under the guise of Orchard Blossom. Other than AJ's cameo at the beginning, Rainbow Dash is the only Mane Six character present.
    • "Dungeons and Discord" features Discord, Spike, and Big Mac joining in a role-playing game of sorts while the Mane Six take a train trip to Yakyakistan.
    • The episodes "On Your Marks", "Hard to Say Anything", "Marks and Recreation" and "To Change a Changeling" have no appearances from the Mane Six at all: the former three focus on the Cutie Mark Crusaders, while the latter focuses on Trixie and Starlight.
    • "The Break Up Break Down" focuses solely on Big McIntosh, Discord, Spike, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
    • "Student Counsel" focuses on Starlight's circle of friends (Trixie, Sunburst, Maud Pie, and Mudbriar) along with the hippogriff Terramar as they search for his sister Silverstream in the Everfree Forest, encounter a flock of cockatrices, and try to get a Spring Solstice party going.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • "Isabella and the Temple of Sap" is a Lower Deck version of "Bubble Boys", showing Isabella's Fireside Girls troop getting the sap needed for her crush's project at an abandoned amusement park. The sub-plot even has some fun with this by featuring her dog Pinky on a secret agent mission rather than Perry (who does make a little cameo). Same thing occurs in season four with "Bee Story" being the Fireside Girls' story in "Bee Day".
    • "Not Phineas and Ferb" centers around Irving trying to convince his brother that Baljeet and Buford are Phineas and Ferb. The only things Phineas and Ferb do in the episode are watch a movie and show up in the backyard just in time to make Candace look insane.
    • "Delivery of Destiny" shows a day in the life of a delivery truck driver named Paul who gets caught up in the wacky hijinks of both Phineas and Ferb and Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
    • Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars is set up as this for A New Hope—Phineas and Ferb are Luke Skywalker's neighbors on Tattooine, Isabella is Han Solo's rival, and "Darthenshmirtz" is a low-ranking member of the Imperial hierarchy, with the movie's events going on in the background. (We literally see Alderaan blow up out a window as the characters are doing something else.)
    • Episodes such as "Road to Danville", "Sidetracked", "Live and Let Drive" and "Doof 101" focus solely on the Perry and Doof storylines with Phineas and Ferb and other characters are Demoted to Extra.
  • Pixar Shorts:
    • BURN-E shows what BURN-E is doing while WALL•E has his adventures on the Axiom.
    • Similarly, Jack-Jack Attack shows what was happening with baby Jack-Jack and babysitter Kari while the rest of the Parr family was off playing superheroes. This was intended to be part of the movie, but was cut for pacing reasons.
    • George and AJ is about the two retirement home workers sent to get Carl Fredericksen from Up, who witness firsthand Carl's unintentional starting of a trend of old people escaping from retirement home life by turning their houses into modes of transportation, most of which are even weirder than Carl's, often resulting in their van getting damaged.
  • The Quack Pack episode "All Hands On Duck" doesn't feature Huey, Dewey or Louie. It instead focuses entirely on Donald.
  • The framing device for the Recess direct-to-video special, "Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street" is this for the three main teachers, taking place right after the Christmas Episode "Yes Mikey, Santa Does Shave". In the episode itself, Principal Prickly only appeared in two scenes, Miss Finster appeared in the same amount of scenes but had even less dialoge, and Miss Grotke only appeared for a few seconds.
  • Samurai Jack has a few:
    • "The Tale of X-9" is told from the point of view of a robot that gained sentience and free will. Aku only appears briefly in background propaganda and in person only to hand an assignment, and Jack doesn't show up until halfway through the last act, where he cuts down X-9 just as easily as any other robot in the show.
    • "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters" focuses on a small group of bounty hunters plotting to capture Jack. Jack only shows up in the flesh for a minute or so at the end, doesn't have a single line, and defeats all six bounty hunters before wandering off again.
    • "Birth of Evil" is one of the weirdest examples of this Trope, in that it's one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of the series, won an Emmy and a few minor Awards, yet it had almost no Jack... because the story focuses on the origins of his Arch-Enemy Aku and how Jack's father first defeated him. Jack appeared for only about a minute in the final scene, after he was born.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: The fourth season episode "Protocol" has an A-plot where Adora is trying to deal with Light Hope, but the B-plot consists of Adora and Catra's old squad, the low-ranking Horde grunts Lonnie, Kyle and Rogelio, dealing with being trapped in a damaged vehicle during an acid storm. The events of the plot, in which Lonnie and Rogelio sacrifice the mission to save Kyle, serve as Foreshadowing for Lonnie and her friends eventually ditching the Horde entirely.
  • The Simpsons had "22 Short Films About Springfield", which rotates its focus around various people in Springfield as they go about their daily lives, such as the Bumblebee Man's home life, Reverend Lovejoy walking his dog, Principal Skinner serving "steamed hams" to Superintendent Chalmers, etc. However, Lisa and Homer do get their own stories, with Marge and Maggie respectively playing supporting roles and Bart making a cameo in Lisa's story.
  • Slugterra: "Bandoleer of Brothers". Seen through the eyes of the slugs, the Shane Gang must liberate a cavern with help from the newest member of Eli's team, a Blastipede slug named Rookie.
  • In South Park:
    • "A Million Little Fibers", in which pot-smoking sentient towel Towelie runs afoul of Oprah Winfrey's talking genitalia.
    • "Butters's Very Own Episode" focuses on Butters, a minor recurring character up to that point. This is an interesting case in that, after that episode, Butters became a much more prominent figure; these days, he gets more screen time than anyone aside from the main four (and way more lines than Kenny). It is also notable for coming completely out of nowhere; it was the last episode of a season, and the preceding episode ended on a massive cliffhanger.
    • Their "re-telling" of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, in which only Pip plays a role (the leading role, that is). All others are completely absent.
    • Referred to in another episode focusing around Jimmy, where Stan says that the plot looks like one of those misadventures that spiral out of control, and that they should just keep out of it. We don't see the regulars again until the end of the episode where Stan shows relief that they stayed out of it.
    • In "City Sushi", none of the main boys appear at all except for a brief scene in the school gymnasium in which they can be seen in the audience.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks takes the concept of the Trope Namer and reworks it into a Work Com series, with a group of Starfleet ensigns who literally live and work in the lower decks of the ship going on misadventures, contrasted with the heroic exploits of the senior officers. Even their ship, the USS Cerritos, is a second-string support ship specializing in "Second Contact" situations, where they follow up with recently-discovered alien civilizations that the Federation has already made First Contact with via more prestigious explorer ships. Hilariously, the ninth episode of season 2, "wej Duj" is a Lower Deck Episode, focusing on not only Boimler, but a crewman on a Vulcan ship and a Klingon ship.
    • Season 3's "A Mathematically Perfect Redemption" is mostly an Avatar parody centred around Peanut Hamper, an extremely minor bitchy exocomp character who'd previously appeared in only one epsisode. The Cerritos and her crew only appear at the end.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has several episodes and story arcs taking place from the perspective of the Clone Troopers, with the main characters playing supporting roles if they even appear at all. Its predecessor, Star Wars: Clone Wars, manages to have episodes entirely without Jedi, but that's only because the episodes are 3 minutes long.
    • The 4 part finale to the final season, season 7, is functionally this for Revenge of the Sith, focusing on Ashoka Tano and Captain Rex participating in the Siege of Mandalore, with the final two episodes focusing on what happened to them during Order 66.
  • There's an odd variation on this trope in Steven Universe's "Know Your Fusion". The episode focuses around Sardonyx and the newly introduced Smokey Quartz, and is about Sardonyx trying to unlock Smokey's inner talent. However, Sardonyx and Smokey are both fusions of the main cast - repectively, Garnet/Pearl and Steven/Amethyst. So despite the main cast only appearing proper at the beginning and the end, it's still somewhat about them.
  • Teen Titans:
    • There's an episode which focused on the Titans East house-sitting for the Titans West when they were off in the Arctic fighting the Brotherhood of Evil.
    • There was also the episode that focused on the Hive Five, a group of teen super-criminals that were primarily background characters or Villains Of The Week before.
  • The Thomas & Friends episode "Lady Hatt's Birthday Party" focuses on the humans, with the engines only taking up about a quarter of the runtime.
  • The entire Transformers: Rescue Bots show could be regarded as a Lower Decks series, as it depicts the adventures of four junior Autobots who are not yet experienced enough to join the battles occurring concurrently in Transformers: Prime.
  • Turbo F.A.S.T. features the penultimate episode "Turbo Does Laundry", which follows the adventures of nearly every minor character that has ever been in the show while Turbo himself is busy with the banal task of doing his laundry.
  • In The Venture Bros., Billy Quizboy has this type of episode twice;
    • "The Invisible Hand of Fate," a third season episode, primarily centers around Billy Quizboy. The series subverts this by making the lower deck episode extremely important to the overall plot. The ep gives us backstory info for nearly every major character, and reveals how Brock became Dr. Venture's bodyguard.
    • "The Silent Partners" in season four was also this. It's also highly plot-relevant like the aforementioned third season episode (it sets up the season finale.)


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Below Decks Episode


A Literal Lower Deck Episode

This may already be a "Lower Decks" series (hell, that's even the title), but this takes the concept further by showing the lower decks on multiple ships.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / LowerDeckEpisode

Media sources: