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Spotlight-Stealing Squad

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

The Motherfucking Stifler Show"

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

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

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


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

In Fan Fiction circles, Mary Sues are usually deliberately created as this. The very nature of the medium also means fans can make their own squads out of whatever characters they want.


A friendly reminder that Tropes Are Tools — there are times where the viewers actually like the spotlight hog. Finally, remember, neither the protagonist nor the deuteragonist can be part of the spotlight-stealing squad. The story is about them, after all. See also Decoy Protagonist, which occurs when someone replaces an apparent protagonist in the role.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 Seeds despite having an Ensemble Cast, though the problem lessened somewhat as the Teams began to mingle together.
    • Prior to the mingling, any of the Teams could be called this. Particular mention goes to any Team that is not Summer B. Team Summer B was the one that started the series off, with some time spent on them to begin slowly developing the characters, before dedicating several chapters to introducing a new Team.
    • Hana Sugurono is a single character example. Part of Team Spring, she was already introduced as being the most active out of the group and the series eventually broke off into a mini-arc revolving around a disease that Hana catches and needed to be cured. A lot of emphasis was eventually put on her again when it was not only revealed to some of the Teams that she got into the Project through nepotism, but also when she was thought to be dead. And again, a later arc follows Hana, on her own for several chapters, before she finally encounters other characters.
  • In the Aoi Hana manga, Kyouko's troubles with her fiancé Kou suddenly get full attention, right in the middle of a very important relationship story arc concerning the main characters, Akira and Fumi.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Levi from has become this, especially within the anime. Merchandise would suggest he's the deuteragonist and one third of the Power Trio — he's actually a supporting character, though an insanely popular one. His role in the anime was expanded, with bonus seasons and replacing other characters in some scenes. He's also gotten his own Spin-Off and been featured prominently in the latest story arc while the main cast have gotten considerably less screen time.
    • After The Reveal that she's royalty, and even several chapters before that, Historia/Christa has robbed focus from practically every story point in the manga.
  • Sakaki gets a disproportionate amount of focus in Azumanga Daioh compared to the other characters, but that's probably because her Shrinking Violet-ness means she's either the focus or gets ignored.
  • In Berserk, Big Bad Bishōnen Griffith and co. have taken up about two volumes worth of material. About two volumes come out yearly.
  • Bleach: The films are an example of this as they focus excessively on the Gotei 13 characters to the exclusion of other characters, even the rest of the human True Companions. In the manga, Tite Kubo has so many characters to rotate through that it can sometimes seem like this trope is in effect when it's debatably a case of Loads and Loads of Characters needing to go through periods of being Out of Focus so that everything and everyone can be covered. The ones hit the worst by this are the characters who started out as being the main cast, and more often than not spend time idling in the background while the Shinigami are the ones who drive the plot.
  • The anime Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo parodies this, with the character Don Patch trying to constantly steal the spotlight from the others. Less often in the manga.
  • Shaoran Li of Cardcaptor Sakura, his infatuation with Sakura and slightly more prominent development as her teammate took a fair amount of the final arc, since the conclusion of the series mostly revolves around Sakura resolving her romantic feelings for him. The anime upgraded his role even earlier by granting him his own mini-cast, including his cousin (and fangirl) Meiling, as well as a few episodes more devoted to himself than the title character.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun: Touma takes this role in the Sisters arc, being the one who defeats the Big Bad instead of Mikoto. This was unavoidable since the series is a spinoff of A Certain Magical Index, where Touma is the main character, and Touma is the one who beats him there (and indeed, a point is made in both that he has to be the one to do it ensure the Level 6 Shift project shuts down). To a lesser extent, he also does this in the Daihasei Festival Arc, where Mikoto is controlled and used as a pawn of the villains. In this case, several other characters are equally important in resolving the situation.
  • Danganronpa 3: Originally, fans believed that the story would focus on the survivors of the first game in Side:Future, and in the 77th Class in Side:Despair. In Side:Future, all survivors fell in and Out of Focus constantly while the 77th Class was mostly Demoted to Extra/Advertised Extra. The ones to keep constant focus on them through out the entire show ended up being the former 74th Class Trio, Munakata, Sakakura, Yukizome, and Mitarai. Yukizome was a protagonist on Side:Despair' while Munakata played as the Big Good and Sakakura was helping them, in Side:Future, Munakata becomes The Heavy and Sakakura The Dragon. The trio ends up having as much importance if not even more importance to the plot than the survivors and most of the 77th Class. Mitarai, for his part, is Enoshima's Unwitting Pawn and the force behind a major plot point during Side:Despair and the Anti-Villain antagonist of Side:Hope.
    • The trio gets hit right back with this in Side: Hope, where Class 77 is revealed to have woken up from the Neo World program and takes up the bulk of the episode, with the Foundation playing second fiddle. Continues well into Super Dangan Ronpa 2.5, where the cast, even parts of the 77th cast again, get cameos at best.
  • Digimon franchise:
  • The Japanese All-Star Team in Eyeshield 21 includes other players besides Gaou and Agon, but they get less focus in some later chapters.
  • Fairy Tail: after his introduction, Jellal was in pretty much every major arc in the series, which is something not even some members of the Five-Man Band can claim. As his backstory is heavily tied to Erza's, he seems to always appear when she's in distress.
    • In the Grand Magic Games arc, as Jellal (disguised as Mystogan) participates in the games in the Fairy Tail B team, though this doesn't last long before he's back to largely doing his own thing again.
    • Lisanna in the first anime adaptation, by way of Adaptation Expansion. The first season or so, any scene she has even a passing mention in will move into a long flashback about her. It's worth noting that, outside of a side story chapter, she had all of maybe three panels in the actual manga. Eventually, this stopped at around the Edolas arc, probably because after this she turns out to not be dead after all and joins the main cast.
    • Side-character Cana becomes this during the Tenrou Island arc where she is literally promoted to main-character status alongside anyone who people consider to be part of Team Natsu. The monster Character Development she receives in this arc after being in the guild as nothing but side fodder for so long took A LOT of people by surprise.
  • In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Shirou suddenly gains massive focus during 3rei!. But it's not Illya's bumbling brother that is being referred to here: It's Miyu's brother, who wasn't seen in the story before this arc, that received this newfound prominence. His backstory alone changed the narrative from fanservice-fueled magical girl battle action to Heaven's Feel-lite.
  • Nagisa Misumi from Futari wa Pretty Cure. The series is supposed to be about both her and Honoka, but most episodes focus strongly on her.
    • And the same goes for Saki from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star, being an expy of Nagisa even on this.
    • Suite Pretty Cure ♪ has the same Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic between its leads, and again, the tomboy steals the spotlight.
    • As a break from tradition, this is averted in Heartcatch Pretty Cure. This may be related to a different dynamic between the leads.
    • Mana from Doki Doki Pretty Cure gets a disproportionate amount of focus within the story compared to other Pretty Cure leaders. Apparently, the staff had more of an emotional attachment to her than any of the other characters, which does a fair bit to explain this.
      • Then, there is the Christmas Episode where Mana loses some of her spotlight, yet the whole episode is heavily focused on her, even if she doesn't appear on-screen.
    • Let's not forget that whenever new Precures come out, the original Precures go more further and further back. As one person on Anime News Network says, "someday we might not be able to see them anymore". This would prove true in later Pretty Cure All Stars films, but inverts their positions in the 15th anniversary film where they appear in a mainline role again: It's just the original duo and Hugtto! Cures driving the plot, with many of the others playing side or bit roles.
  • The Galaxy Angel manga based on the video game series spends a disproportionate amount of time and focus on Milfeulle and Chitose. Ranpha got a bit of spotlight early on, but otherwise...
  • At certain points, Guyver becomes "Aptom featuring those Guyver people". In particular, he is the one that takes out the Hyper-Zoanoid Five (except for Zxtole), considering that they were amongst the few enemies that could actually give Sho a good fight.
  • Nagato in Haruhi Suzumiya gets a lot of attention, even though Haruhi and Kyon are supposedly the main characters. Haruhi tends to stay in the background due to being Locked Out of the Loop, and Kyon is often only relevant because he's the narrator. Nagato, on the other hand, was the center of the anime-infamous Endless Eight arc and the regular-famous Disappearance movie/book that followed it. She's also the focus of the lengthy two-part tenth novel, and a lot of earlier stories. She even has an entire Spin-Off series, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.
    • Ironically, in the aforementioned Spin-Off, Haruhi seems to be stealing the spotlight back, starting with a Chekhov's Gunman cameo in the first episode, moving to a flashback that makes her important to Nagato's recent past in the second, until finally stealing the show starting with her third episode debut. As of the fourth episode, this spotlight hogging has yet to show any signs of abating.
  • InuYasha: The Band of Seven take up an entire arc as villains for the heroes while Naraku is gaining power in Mt. Hakurei. They are so all encompassing for this arc in the anime that the fourth opening "Grip!" features them more prominently than Naraku. If you started watching the show with this arc you might think they were the main villains.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • A slight case happens in part five, Vento Aureo. Despite being this part's Jojo (well, Giogio), Giorno seems to be less primary protagonist than deuteragonist in the story in general, compared to the intended deuteragonist, Bruno Buccellatti.
    • In part three, Stardust Crusaders, Jean Pierre Polnareff tends to have more screentime than other characters, almost more than the protagonist Jotaro Kujo. His personality is very distinctive, he's outspoken about getting revenge for his sister, he's a prime target of the Monster of the Week, and many episodes focus on his Character Development. He and Team Pet Iggy also develop a special bond that can be very emotional at times, especially when Iggy sacrifices himself to save Polnareff.
  • Kagerou Daze: Shintaro is intended to be the (Loser) Protagonist with a digitized-troll side-kick, and indeed, whether or not he is a Hikikomori is implied to be the pivotal point of the time-loops, if Lost Time Memory is to be believed, but his little sister Momo very frequently steals the focus away from him, Ene, and the rest of the Mekakushi Dan, despite having relatively little story relevance (especially compared to Shintaro, Ayano, Konoha and Marry). It's gotten to the point that she gets almost sole focus for two episodes of the 12-Episode Anime. The fact that she's Jin's favorite character doesn't help matters. Then again, Fridge Brilliance strikes when you realize that her Eye Power is literally to draw attention to herself. And she hasn't yet got it under control.
  • Mai-HiME: In comparison to the original anime, the manga focuses more on Yuuichi Tate and his misadventures at school than those of the girls fighting to save it.
  • According to Kanako, Mariya and Matsurika are this on the second season of Maria†Holic. Not really true though, in fact, Kanako herself is a bit of this, at least compared to the first season, and same for the Dorm Leader (while Mariya and Matsurika got comparatively LESS screentime.)
  • Subaru in Mayo Chiki!. Sure, she's the winning girl on a Supporting Harem, so her having more screentime than the other girls is more or less expected and understandable. Having her get more screentime than all the other girls put together, said other girls all loving her and making most of their screentime and motivations revolve about Subaru is not.
  • Medaka Box: Kumagawa Misogi has been consistently tied to the plot since his debut, and at some points even overshadows Medaka and Zenkichi.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack spent most of its time with Quess Paraiya in a movie which is supposed to be about the final battle between Amuro and Char. Only by the time she’s finally out of the picture in the last part does it finally focus on Amuro and Char.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: Those on one side of the Broken Base call Kira Yamato (protagonist of the previous series, Gundam SEED) this after his return two thirds of the way through the show, and the subsequent evolution of Shinn Asuka into an Anti-Villain.
  • Naruto:
    • Shikamaru has this treatment for the Hidan arc, which he is basically the main character of for a significant portion. Of all Naruto's other classmates, he is the only one that has received honest, in-depth character development and frequent appearances after the timeskip, to the point that he is practically a main character now. It has also been also lampshaded at one omake of the anime, with some characters mentioning that the series should have been renamed "Shikamaru" during said arc.
    • Team 10 gets more spotlight in the manga then any of the Konoha side-characters in Naruto: Shippuden. Including being given the spotlight in the Hidan and Kakuzu arc, the 4th Shinobi War also shows this with the Team 10 reunion which even gave Choji of all people some rarely seen Character Development. No other of the Konoha 11, so far has gotten this kind of treatment in the war.
    • The Uchiha clan were supposed to all be dead except for two members, Sasuke and Itachi. Then we find out there's another, then we find out that he was claiming to be another, and then we find that that another-another Uchiha was actually dead, but gets resurrected, and then we find out that almost every arc villain, and the vast majority of the plot, were because of the machinations of certain Uchiha who just couldn't handle things not going their way. This trope used to be named after the Uchiha clan, as "Uchiha Syndrome". Then it gets worse. Black Zetsu, the villain responsible for everything that happened in the series, chose the Uchiha to be the "main cast" for his "Story of Shinobi". In short, the Uchiha became the center of everything.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • Garou has been featured in more of the current chapters than Saitama has. This tends to be the case with One Punch Man, as it focuses on the side characters quite prominently. But he's the standout despite being the villain. He's had more arcs focusing on him than almost any other character.
  • This seems to be a major problem in many of Fujio Akatsuka's works:
    • In his most well known work, Tensai Bakabon, Bakabon himself gets shafted in favor of his own father, who resonated with audiences more and took larger roles in crazy schemes. Akatsuka himself liked to dress as him and used his catchphrase until the day he died. This was mitigated a bit in Shonen Bakabon since it put the focus back on him, but he got a new matching outfit that goes with his father's to compensate.
    • In Osomatsu-kun, Iyami and Chibita became this over time, to the point where it was fondly remembered for their crazy antics and actions (especially Iyami's infamous "SHEEEEH!" line and pose). Osomatsu and his brothers were still relevant, but relegated to bit characters for whatever Iyami and Chibita were up to this week. The one time that they did get to shine as a focal point was in their sort-of sequel Osomatsu-san, but they had to have a major personality overhaul before anything like that could happen.
    • Moretsu Ataro had this in Nyarome and Boss Kokoro.
  • Pokémon:
    • Oshawott is played with: It tries to be this trope, but several times he is shunted by Pikachu to the point of being a Running Gag.
    • Several other Pokémon such as Misty's Psyduck and Jessie's Wobbuffet would also try this by somehow forcibly coming out of their Poké Balls without their Trainers calling them out, also to the point of it being a Running Gag. In some cases, such as the ones previously mentioned, it's not that clear how intentional this is.
    • In another Running Gag, the wild Jigglypuff that appeared in the Kanto and Johto regions also constantly tried to steal the spotlight to get everyone to hear it sing, and would often succeed in doing so at some point in the episodes where it appeared.
    • The Kalos season gives us an entire arc with Korrina and her ace utterly robbing the main group from any plot importance with repercussions. Situations that could have been easily avoided happen just to reinforce her focus, Ash is reduced to her personal punching bag (Serena tried to be one but not even back then she was allowed that much focus), the others barely take on the action if it means Korrina will get to participate, and they are all reduced to her personal cheerleading squad. Worse yet, she was just a temporary extra all due to the usual anime Lucario hype rule in play.
    • The Team Rocket trio get a disproportionate amount of screentime compared to each region's own evil team, largely due to being in every single episode from their first appearance up until the Black and White series. It's more evident than ever in Sun and Moon — because they're the long-established Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, the other group of comic relief loser villains, Team Skull, rarely make appearances, with Guzma being a no-show for a very long time. The trio also happen to be immensely popular with the creative staff.
    • Certain Ash mons, like Infernape and Greninja, will generally dominate over the rest of their teams as the Pokemon that decide battles with other mons and even Pikachu being prone to experiencing the Worf Effect for it. This is more evident with Infernape than Greninja: Infernape won three of the last four gym battles and in every battle took out two of the opponents Pokemon (leaving Pikachu, Buizel, Gliscor, and Torterra worfed) and in the final battle with Paul took out half of his team. Greninja meanwhile, while primarily used to battle the strongest Pokemon, was none the less only saved for the final battles allowing for the rest of the Kalos Team to have awesome moments to themselves, while still overshadowing them in general.
  • Re:Zero: Emilia is ostensibly the main Love Interest, but about halfway through the first season she gets sidelined and Rem, one of two twin demon-maids, spends most of the remaining episodes adventuring with the protagonist (something Emilia never really does) and experiencing several tragic deaths. She's still intended, canonically, as a doomed competitor to Emilia, but the way it's written seems indecisive; an entire episode is devoted to Rem's Love Confession, instigated by Subaru essentially asking her to elope with him, but for convoluted reasons they both decide that he should pursue Emilia instead. The audience took the hint and ran away with it—Rem is vastly more popular than any of the other female characters, and the merchandise manufacturers have noticed.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The anime succumbs to this in the 4th season, often having episodes where the Inner Senshi never even showed up, and the season focuses a lot on Chibi Usa.
    • The Starlights in Season 5 sometimes get more attention than the Inner Senshi themselves. Naoko Takeuchi, creator of the original Sailor Moon manga, was even notably baffled that the Starlights, who were minor characters in the manga, were being made such a focus in the anime.
  • In Saint Seiya: Saintia Sho, the Gold Saints do most of the fighting, and several of them only seem to appear because the author wanted to show them before their deaths in the original story.
  • In Sherlock Hound, Professor Moriarty gets a hell of a lot more screen time than the title character. His inclusion in every episode except the first means that other villains from classic Sherlock Holmes stories (such as the villain of The Speckled Band), never see the light of day in the episode based on their story. Possibly, Kyosuke Mikuriya took a lot of influence from his predecessor Hayao Miyazaki's work on Lupin III (especially the Zenigata-esque Lestrade) and so tried to make Moriarty the Villain Protagonist.
  • Slayers: Normally, when the plot thickens, Lina gets the most focus, shifting away from Gourry, Zelgadis, and Amelia. However, when the third anime season rolled around (Slayers Try), Filia becomes the Guest-Star Party Member, and because the plot revolves around the dragon race (which she and the Big Bad of the season are a part of), the four main characters are not given as much focus. The fifth episode is about Filia ranting and being subjugated to a trial, along with antics from Xellos — given that she serves the gods and he serves the demons of that world, the sexual tension between them is the main Running Gag.
  • Sonic X:
  • The Alternate Universe series, Tenchi Universe, is known for its emphasis on Ryoko, as evidenced in the opening credits, which starts with a silhouette of her and ends with a zoom-in on her face. This is emphasized even further in the 1999 Tenchi Muyo! movie, Tenchi Forever!, whose ending implies that Tenchi is attracted to Ryoko, and the Tenchi/Ryoko pairing is in the cards, which amazingly makes this a Tenchi timeline that doesn't utilize the Tenchi Solution.
  • Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was something of a spoof of this — from the start he was given a lion's share of the attention, culminating in a scene designed to punch you in the gut…. Lampshaded in an omake in the manga.
  • In To Love-Ru, Lala is the most prominent character next to the main character, Rito, because the story is about her self-insertion into his life, both socially and romantically. In the follow-up, To Love-Ru Darkness, she is effectively replaced by her younger sister Momo due to the shift in focus to her harem plan and her invasion into his life. It takes until the final third of the story for Lala to be a significant role that sticks, such that the author announced it as her grand return on the title page.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Berri takes over the spotlight in a La Mode as Ichigo joins the other Mew Mews in being background characters.
  • As a result of being Merchandise-Driven, Transformers suffers from this quite a bit. Whenever new toys are released, their characters are going to push older characters into the background. In particular, the end of series 2 of The Original Series featured very few characters who weren't Combiners, and after The Movie, the Combiners themselves were relegated to playing second fiddle to Rodimus' Five-Man Band and the reformatted Decepticons. Later on, they themselves were driven out to allow the Headmasters to take center stage; unfortunately, all the other characters became mush less competent soon after the Headmasters were introduced. Transformers: Super-God Masterforce took a step away from this, introducing the Pretenders, but even that wasn't safe as for part-way through the focus shifted from the Pretenders to the Godmasters, Ginrai, pilot of Optimus Prime's would-be new body taking the spotlight for obvious reasons, developing into Gary Stu status, saving the day at the last minute.
  • Kirie gained more screentime in UQ Holder!, particularly once the manga started to run on a monthly basis. She gets more screentime, and a lot more fanservice, compared to other characters — including those that debuted before her, including Yukihime.
  • At the time Sasaki Kojiro's first story arc was finished it comprised more than 1/3rd of the entirety of Vagabond releases.
  • After Sizer's early Heel–Face Turn in the Violinist of Hameln manga, Michiaki Watanabe spends an increasingly inordinate amount of time reminding us of her tragic backstory, her bloody past and her goal of eventually atoning for her sins. Soon, there is at least one chapter per volume containing yet another flashback to Sizer's past, and she ends up at the center of the entire story arc of volumes 19-28. Who was that "violinist" guy we were supposed to be paying attention to, again?
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • After Season 1, almost every duel Judai wins is due to Neos, the Neo-Spacians, or some fusion of them, and his standard Elemental HERO cards end up mostly cannon fodder until he draws Neos.
    • Season 3 of GX also introduces a bunch of new characters of which one, namely Johan, instantly turns into Judai's best friend. The whole season is basically about them first having to save Duel Academia (along with the other exchange students), then one pulls a Heroic Sacrifice, the other has to save him, goes bonkers and so on. And that all happens with Judai's original friends being treated as background characters or ending up as Sacrificial Lambs.
    • Although, Johan isn't guilty alone. The other exchange students are also this and basically become the relevant characters of season 3.
  • The original Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime gave The Rival Seto Kaiba even more prominence than he had in the manga, in which he was already an Ensemble Dark Horse. He got a filler arc dedicated to him and his family history, a major role in the DOMA filler arc plus another smaller filler arc where the villain had beef with him, and got to take part in the anime's version of the Memory World arc and play a key role in saving the day by attacking Zorc when he is about to kill Yugi and the others.
  • The first Yu-Gi-Oh! anime did the same. Kaiba originally appeared in two manga plotlines during the period the anime covers, but his massive role in later chapters led to them throwing him into a ton of filler episodes, including the "Game Master" story arc, which has more episodes devoted to it than any other arc. Oddly enough, they also mostly wrote Mokuba out of the series.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's has Crow, who has had multiple duels contrived to showcase his Blackwing deck. One of these duels had him pull off a First Turn Kill in his very first episode.
    • Bruno, who, after an appearance of only ten minutes, draws the main characters attention from all his other friends to himself.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL at times didn't quite seem to know who or what they wanted to focus on character-wise. But in the last two arcs, the Archlight brothers, a Quirky Miniboss Squad of one of the second arc's villains, manages to make a comeback as allies, squeezing out five Duels between the three of them (most of them are Tag Duels), which is a lot considering it happens right when the show was nearing its end. Meanwhile, Yuma's other friends and allies accumulated throughout the series, other than Shark and Kaito, are either treated as barely focused cannon fodder or made to Opt Out when the going got real toughnote . A far cry from the earlier series where the True Companions would stick with The Hero to the very end.

    Comic Books 
  • Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man is a classic example, even described in terms of this trope by her co-creator Stan Lee:
    "We just tossed M.J. into the series to liven things up, as competition for Gwen. However, Gorgeous Gwen was the star, the one we structured our stories around so that Peter could end up marrying her.
    But we couldn't make it work! [...]
    It was like something out of "The Twilight Zone". These were fictional characters, or so we had always thought. I had created them. I could mold them in any manner I desired. I could make them do whatever I wanted. Or could I?
    M.J. seized the dominant female role in our strip, just as powerfully as if she were human. Having once established her character, we couldn't violate what we had already set up. She was colorful and appealing from the start. No matter how I later tried to play her down, make her subordinate to Gwen Stacy, I couldn't do it. M.J. always outshone Gwen. If it were a Broadway show, M.J. would have been the one who always grabbed center stage, and held it."
  • Former Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog head writer Ken Penders has a tendency to shift the focus of the comic from the main Freedom Fighters to Knuckles and the other echidnas on the Floating Island. And on a more consistent basis, there is usually Princess Sally Acorn, leader of the Freedom Fighter and Sonic's best friend and on-off love interest.
  • Jericho of the Teen Titans. Nightwing's introduction is overshadowed by Jericho being introduced at the exact same moment.
  • In the old G.I. Joe comic, a core set of Joes eventually emerged from the literal dozens of team members. While this is to be expected, Snake Eyes takes the cake here — the series was even renamed "GI Joe, STARRING SNAKE EYES" (with that subtitle in much larger font on the cover) for over an entire year. Also receiving greater attention at the time was Snake Eyes's archrival Storm Shadow, who had recently defected to GI Joe.
  • X-Men:
    • Emma Frost has stolen much attention away from women who have been in the book much longer because they've been removed in different ways. Jean Grey and Storm (whose shoes she both now fills) had a bridge dropped on her and got married off respectively. Kitty Pryde was Put on a Bus (or trapped in a missile). Rogue was put in a coma. Psylocke was outside the reality with the Exiles. Regardless of the changing status of those characters, Emma is still the most prominent.
    • Wolverine falls into this to large degrees. This is part of the reason the trope Wolverine Publicity is named after him, since he's given a spotlight even when he's barely there.
    • Various writers developed a new found interest in Cyclops being the leading man of the X-Men in the mid-2000's, with this pretty culminating in him being the primary focus of 2009's big X-Men event, Messiah Complex. Since then, a lot of comics have focused heavily on Cyclops.
    • And then in the post-Inhumans vs. X-Men era it's Kitty Pryde's turn. She's promoted to supreme leader of the X-Men, despite other, more experienced leaders (most notably Storm) still being on the team; every story in X-Men: Gold seems to revolve around her; and she even becomes a major player in Phoenix Resurrection despite barely even knowing Jean Grey.
  • In 1994, Marvel Comics, as part of their short-lived Disney line, published a comic book based on The Disney Afternoon. Its content proved to be more like Darkwing Duck and a Few Other Disney Afternoon Shows; in the entire ten-issue run of the comic, it only ran three Goof Troop stories, two TaleSpin stories, two Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers stories, and barely anything for DuckTales and Bonkers.
  • Tyler Marlowe has become the Breakout Character of PS238. Initially introduced in issue 3 as a sort of This Loser Is You character - the only unpowered kid in a school for superhuman "metaprodigies" - he has come to dominate the series to the extent that there are more issues with him as the main character than those in which he isn't. Meanwhile, many of the original major characters are hardly even mentioned, and at least one has been shipped off to another school; he hasn't been Put on a Bus, because he still appears occasionally, but he's pretty much deteriorated into a non-stop Wangst source.
    • To fans who started with the "Student Handbook," the entire student population. The first volume seemed like the comic would the story of a group of former super-heroes with shadowed pasts trying to maintain and administrate a school where all the students have superpowers. Then, it turned out to be a series about child superheroes running amok, with occasional lip service to the idea the faculty actually did anything.
  • The title character of Brazilian comic Monica's Gang was introduced with what would become a Running Gag (an irritable girl who hit the protagonist), in short time became the protagonist, and now has her Nominal Importance of being in the title leading to appearing too much, even when it's not required and with some Invincible Hero traits - almost all villains are defeated by Monica pummeling them with superstrength combined with a plush bunny. Good example: in a comic parodying Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Monica was Tia Dalma, and lampshaded her appearances to beat up people with "I know my character is not in this movie".
  • Suzie, a Dumb Blonde Archie Comics heroine of the 1940s and 50s slowly found herself demoted to supporting character in her own book as focus switched to her gangly, clueless boyfriend Ferdie. What made it particularly noticeable was that Suzie, formerly defined very much as The Ditz and a Cute Clumsy Girl largely transitioned into a Straight Man for Ferdie's stupidity and clumsiness, except for the odd Character Check.
  • Averted with extreme prejudice in Diabolik with a few simple expedients:
    • A minimalistic main cast consisting only of the title character, his lover Eva Kant, and Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist Ginko, with Eva and Ginko kept in constant check to prevent them from overshadowing the main character;
    • The vast majority of the recurring characters return only to die. Particularly notable is "The Revenge Has Good Memory", where fan-favorites Valentino Adler and Matteo are finally given a second appearance and get killed in the very panel they show up;
    • Aside for Gustavo Garian and Altea, who were introduced very early (Gustavo even appeared before Diabolik), other surviving recurring characters have very sparse appearances, even years apart from each other. Most notable is general Von Waller, whose first appearance had him steal the show and is now kept in rare bit roles;
    • In this series, Anyone Can Die. Don't believe us? Well, they killed off Gustavo Garian. So if a recurring character has a particular focus in a story he may well get killed.
  • While Avatar: The Last Airbender gave every major character focus, the comic interquels have not been so kind. There are 8 comic book series based on the original show and half of them are focused near exclusively on the Fire Nation royal family (and Mai). Of the remaining four, two are mini stories that were given away as part of an exclusive event (and one of them's mostly about Ty Lee). It gets incredibly blatant in the last books where Sokka and Katara are Put on a Bus.
  • Iznogoud: When the comics debuted in the Franco-Belgian magazine Record in 1962, they were titled The Adventures of Caliph Haroun el Poussah. It was quickly realised that Iznogoud was a much more interesting central character, and the comic's focus, and title, were transferred to him.
  • Of all the Rogues, a group of Flash enemies, Captain Cold is the most focused. Funnily enough, during Waid's run, it was Abra Kadabra who received the most focus, who Waid pushed as Wally's arch-nemesis. Geoff Johns, however, considered Cold to be his favourite villain, to the point that many adventures had Wally ultimately need saving from other villains by Captain Cold (albeit, in cases where Wally had the flu, though).
  • Towards the end of The Golden Age of Comic Books, Green Lantern lost the spotlight in his own book to his dog Streak, who ended up becoming the central character.
  • Snake is far more important in the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Comic-Book Adaptation than in the game, to the extent that Raiden's fight with Solidus doesn't appear to achieve anything, and instead Snake shows up and executes him with the HF Blade. While intended as Fanservice, the reaction to this from fans was negative, as Snake doesn't have nearly as much reason to want Solidus dead as Raiden.

    Comic Strips 
  • Liz and Anthony in For Better or for Worse: Look upon their blandly wholesome love and despair. This was only the case since mid-to-late 2005, mind you.
  • In Bloom County, the character of Opus is not present when the strip started. Later he is introduced as Binkley's pet. He takes over the strip to such an extent that important original characters like Cutter John and the eponymous Milo Bloom disappeared before the end. Although its Sunday-only sequel, Outland, wasn't originally conceived to include the Bloom County regulars, Opus showed up in the third week, and although others came back as well, Opus had again become the primary focus. Years later, when Berke Breathed decided to resume the series again, he simply named it Opus and the rest of the original cast were Demoted to Extra.
    • New character Abby Fillerup has become this in Bloom County 2015. Since her introduction, she's been in nearly every comic, and most of the new storylines have her as the primary focus (leading to diminished roles for the rest of the cast). The only thing that stops her from becoming a full-on Creator's Pet is the fact that the fandom won't stop raving about her. Though, as of 2018, the focus has shifted back to Opus, with Abby appearing less frequently.
  • In the later years of FoxTrot, Jason Fox often got a disproportionate amount of screen time compared to the rest of his family, sometimes being in at least every arc. This can be annoying to readers that don't get nerdy jokes. Or even people who do get them, but don't think they're very funny.
  • E.C. Sieger's Thimble Theatre was a well-regarded strip recounting the adventures of one Castor Oyl, his family, and his best friend Ham Gravy, until one day they needed to hire a sailor to captain a ship for them. The sailor, like most of TT's cast, was intended to be a throw-away character, never to return after the story arc ended, but fan response was so overwhelmingly positive that he joined the main cast, and eventually the strip was re-named after him. You might have read it; it's called Popeye.
  • When Bo and Lanolin were first introduced in U.S. Acres, it resulted in weeks worth of nothing but strips heavily featuring Bo and Lanolin. Eventually, focus balance went back to normal.
  • After 2001, the comic strip Luann became "Brad". However, in the process, Brad became responsible and grew up. In the early strips, he was a Jerk Ass Big Brother. Lampshaded in a forum where an arc about Luann's prom and subsequent college was met with a comment of "... Who's this 'Luann' girl? When did the strip shift from Brad to her?"
  • Dick Tracy: Chester Gould always wanted to do a 'big-foot style' humour strip. As a result, he would sometimes bring the action in Dick Tracy to a screeching halt to focus on the antics of hillbilly couple B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie.
  • Rerun Van Pelt became this towards the end of Peanuts, with many of the strips now focusing around his perspective. Creator Charles M. Schulz admitted in an interview that Rerun had almost taken over the comic.
    • Earlier than this, there were some periods where the strip had far more stories that focused on Peppermint Patty and Marcie than on Charlie Brown or Snoopy.
  • Comic strip Drabble was originally focused on Norman, a college student, just like the strip's creator when it began. However, as he got older, he began to identify with Norman's father, Ralph, more, so the strip began to focus on his more and more. Norman still appears as a regular, however.
  • Comic strip Overboard shifted to a heavy focus on the mice aboard the ship during the 2000's. Practically to the point where the strip became about the mice, and the pirate characters became accessories to the mice.
  • Dilbert occasionally suffers from this, perhaps intentionally since Dilbert is The Everyman contrasted with a more colorful supporting cast. In particular, the office strips tend to focus on Wally, Alice or the Pointy-Haired Boss, with Dilbert often just along for the ride. Even outside the office, Dogbert frequently dominates the storylines.

    Fan Works 
  • The easiest way to spot a Mary Sue. Heck, it's practically the definition of Mary Sues.
    • On The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test, several of the questions ask whether the character for whom you're taking the test plays a central role in the story arc; answering yes adds to the number of points they have to determine how much of a Mary Sue they are.
  • The Pokémon Squad:
  • A Crown of Stars: Defied. The Avalon characters are Original Characters of an original universe created by Strypgia. When he decided crossing it over with the Evangelion universe, Strypgia realized that they might steal the spotlight, so that he restricted the point of view to Shinji and Asuka and other Evangelion characters, and he kept the story firmly focused on Shinji and Asuka learning to overcome their traumas, repairing their relationship and saving their world.
    Strypgia: "The introduction of Avalon is a product of how this story began as a 'I'm just writing to kill time for my own amusement' project. So it was an opportunity to take out an OU I'd been knocking around in my head and play with the bits. But to keep it from overwhelming things, I restricted it to only using Asuka or Shinji as POV characters except for very rare, brief spots, I think just 5 others in the whole thing, for only a page or two each. And two of those are other NERV survivors. Come to think of it, we only have an Avaloni character as POV once, and that's back on Eva-Earth."
  • The Supetastic 6 in Super Milestone Wars, so much that they became the main protagonists in the sequel, Super Milestone Wars 2.
  • Tends to happen in any fanfic, as the author will often put their favorite character(s) to the forefront, at times leaving the main character in the background or not even in the story at all.
  • In Bart The General, which, despite the title, appears to be mainly about how Omarn deals with Marge having an affair, Barton dominates the second part of the last episode and the third episode, which is longer than episodes 1, 2 and 4 combined.
  • In Fuck the Jesus Beam, O.B.A.M.A. takes over the plot from his debut in the third chapter as the Big Bad, despite Lordguckles having been set up as the main antagonist in the second chapter, and proceeds to have two chapters devoted almost exclusively to him (Including the now-deleted "CHAPTER RAGE"). Kaminic gets Brainwashed and hardly does anything until releasing himself from O.B.A.M.A.'s control in "CHAPTER NEO JESUS".
  • Total Drama Comeback mocks the tendency of Duncan and Owen to approach this in canon, while simultaneously making Ezekiel, Bridgette, and Izzy this within the actual fic.
  • Aziraphale and Crowley are this for the Good Omens fandom. While they are in a substantial portion of the book, they are there mostly to initiate the birth mixup and then provide commentary on whatever the humans are actually out there doing. There are many more characters with more relevancy to the plot (after the birth setup), and there are also many memorable teams of characters — Madame Tracy and Shadwell, Newt and Anathema, the Them, and the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse. Despite this, roughly 95% of Good Omens fanfic will feature Crowley and Aziraphale prominently, with between 80 and 85% of the fics placing them in a romantic relationship. The reasons for this should be fairly obvious.
  • A Hero is supposed to be a Puella Magi Madoka Magica/Doctor Who crossover. Reading it, however, one can't help but notice how prominent the Doctor Who side of the story has become in comparison to the PMMM side. Especially in the case of Dalek Sec, who the author has admitted steals every scene he's in.
  • In Decks Fall Everyone Dies, Tristan is overshadowed by Bakura, Duke, and all three Kaiba brothers, even though he was supposed to be the main character.
  • Torchwood fandom will often do this to Ianto Jones. For example, in stories that take place in the Year That Never Was, Ianto will suddenly show up and defeat the Master often by himself. In canon, Ianto was a genuinely badass character, but so were Jack, Martha and The Doctor.
  • Ultra Fast Pony references the accusations of spotlight stealing in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: the episode that introduces the Cutie Mark Crusaders is titled "Out with the Old Characters".

    Films — Animation 
  • Golden Films tends to do this with their Mockbusters. This causes little development for the main characters, who are overshadowed by the supporting cast. This sometimes forces the romance between the main couple (if one is provided).
  • The Minions were the breakout characters in Despicable Me, appearing in a few scenes and being the icing on top of an already good movie. In the sequel, they have their own subplot and almost all of the movie's advertising revolved around them. They also had shorts with them as protagonists included in the home releases of both films. And then they had their very own prequel movie. It has gotten to the point where they have practically overshadowed all of the other characters including the protagonist, Gru, and many people know Despicable Me solely because of the Minions.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Colonel Landa in Inglourious Basterds steals every scene he is present in, leading to what basically amounts to an Awards Show sweep for portrayer Christoph Waltz in the year after the movie's release.
  • In the Underworld franchise, the premise is "Vampires vs. Werewolves". The first has Lucian, perhaps the most interesting, charismatic, and likable character, while the second Underworld movie had about three scenes with werewolves, none of whom speak. Vampires and super-vampires take up most of the screen time, as does the fourth movie (with the vampire/werewolf hybrid dueteragonist being absent due to the actor not coming back, making the film even less about werewolves). Ironically enough, the one film that 'does'' focus on the werewolves, the Lucien-focused prequel third film, is the best received film in the franchise, likely because it focused on who the audience actually wanted to see.
  • The final film in the Blade Trilogy, Blade: Trinity, is a victim of this. Instead of the film focusing on Blade, a group of hunters get the most attention with Blade showing up, every-now-and-again. The film suffered a huge backlash by the fans because of this and Wesley Snipes even sued, claiming they were whitewashing him for his own film franchise. However, given the myriad of rumours that Wesley Snipes allegedly couldn't be bothered to show up on set most of the time, leaving his stunt double having to perform most of the filming in his place; if true, then it's not entirely surprising that Blade ultimately doesn't appear much?
  • Johnny Depp:
  • Alice in the Resident Evil movies — nobody else, including the characters imported from the game series, can do anything even remotely important or even act like a competent person in comparison to her.
  • In the Michael Bay Transformers Film Series , most people agree that it's more like Dawson's Creek with Guest Stars the Transformers. It wasn't just the primary human characters who stole the main roles, but nearly all humans had more prominent roles than the robots.
  • The Ghost and the Darkness features the (fictitious) American Great White Hunter Remington as a co-star equal to John Henry Patterson. Screenwriter William Goldman claims Remington was a minor character in the script, but that producer-actor Michael Douglas significantly inflated the role during production.
  • Steve Stifler, the Breakout Character of the American Pie series. He started out as a supporting character, then got a more prominent role in the second film, on hand to provide much of the comic relief. By American Wedding, he took center stage as the protagonist, and was the deuteragonist of American Reunion nine years later. The Stifler relatives were also the main focus of the direct-to-video spin-offs, making the name of Stifler practically synonymous with the franchise.
  • Loki became this in Thor: The Dark World, with him upstaging Malekith — who is the actual main villain — and the filmmakers removing some of Malekith's scenes to make room for more Loki. That said, Marvel then put him on the sidelines: his Cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron was cut after test audiences assumed he was controlling the film's Big Bad, and he disappears for four years until Thor: Ragnarok, where he has less screentime than Banner/the Hulk and Valkyrie, and Avengers: Infinity War, where they Dropped a Bridge on Him in the first 10 minutes of the film.
  • The movies based of Star Trek: The Next Generation give a lot of screen time to Data. In Star Trek: Nemesis, which is TNG's grand finale, Data is in the spotlight so much that half of Brent Spiner's costars are practically extras. Spiner was also one of the co-writers of that film.
  • To Walk Invisible has been criticized for focusing more on Branwell Brontë than Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, in spite of the film's subtitle being "The Lives of the Brontë Sisters".
  • This was inevitable whenever Louis de Funès was cast in a supporting role. The most blatant case has to be his role as Commissioner Juve in the Fantômas trilogy. The Hero and main character is Fandor, played by Jean Marais, but Juve just steals the show (and gets an increased importance in the sequels).

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

    Live-Action TV 
  • An interesting example - "Moody's Point" on The Amanda Show. While it was certainly well-written and funny, it would take up most of the show.
  • Perhaps a lesser example would be America's Funniest Home Videos. If one of the three finalist videos has a child in it, odds are it's going to win, regardless of whether it was funny, "heartwarming", or just a brat acting bratty.
  • In the Beverly Hills, 90210 sequel, the focus of the show shifted from the Wilson family to Naomi somewhere between seasons 2 and 3.
  • Before Jeff and Jordan became the ratings machine, Big Brother 11 had the cameras tilted towards Jessie a lot. Partly because he showed off a lot; but once Jeff and Jordan became the houseguests everyone was rooting for, the cameras (As well as the game) slanted towards Jeff and Jordan.
    • They weren't as emphasized as much as on The Amazing Race, surprisingly. Partly because they made it about early-mid way, and were emphasized for the usual reasons one would be on that show.
    • The thirteenth season of American Big Brother, has eight new players and six returning players, called the "newbies" and the "Veterans" respectively. You'd be surprised to find out that there were actually eight newbies instead of only Adam and Dominic. Porsche, Kalia, Lawon, Shelly, Cassi, Keith. Don't know who they are? Well you're not alone - the editors have completely forgotten about Porsche, Kalia, Lawon, and Shelly while Keith and Cassi only got screentime when they were evicted. To sum up the editors' preference:
    "JeJo and Brenchel can sit in the backyard combing their hair or chewing on their lips while the new players put on a hilarious puppet show or put together an epic plan and STILL have more screentime than all of them combined."
    • In the eighteenth season Nicole Franzel and Corey Brooks who are the most disliked houseguests of the season are given a lot of screentime compared to the more liked houseguests such as Natalie Negrotti, Da'Vonne Rogers, Bridgette Dunning, Paul Abrahamian and Victor Arroyo to name a few.
      • James Huling has done this especially on the live feeds to make sure he wins America's Favorite Houseguest for a second time. This tactic rubbed fans the wrong way and Victor Arroyo ended up winning America's Favorite Houseguest beating out James and his showmance partner Natalie for the title.
  • A lot of episodes of Big Wolf on Campus focused mainly on Merton Dingle despite the fact that the show is told from the POV of heroic werewolf, Tommy Dawkins.
  • Lindsey Corkhill in Brookside became one of these due to her actress's popularity and high profile at the time. It was decided to give her much more focus and bigger, more dramatic storylines; leading to the character's almost overnight transformation from ordinary mother to a gun-toting, suddenly bisexual gangster with a sexy makeover. She dominated the show's main storylines for well over a year, only being scaled back when a plot involving her affair with her own mother-in-law was poorly received by viewers.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike, most obviously in the seventh season, although it started out gradually and became more obvious once Marti Noxon took the helm of the show. He continues in this role when he becomes a regular on Angel, and in the several canon comics thereafter.
  • Downton Abbey started as an ensemble piece, but due to a combination of factors which will not be speculated on here, very quickly became The Lady Mary Show, with everyone else's storylines getting shafted. Lady Mary only avoids Creator's Pet because a sizable portion of the fanbase still adores her.
  • EastEnders tends to have one family dominating most of the show's storylines at any given time; usually, the family of whoever currently owns the Queen Vic. Fans typically accept this if it's one of the core established families of the show (the Mitchells, Beales, Slaters etc.) but dislike it when this is done with new characters: particularly the Carters from 2013 onwards (all introduced by, and viewed as Creators Pets of, the show's producer) or the Ferreiras in the early 2000s (extremely unpopular and eventually had to be written out).
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, the earlier seasons were very much centered around Ray's neuroses and how his dysfunctional family played into those neuroses, causing hilarity to ensue. The other characters obviously did get episodes centered around them, but the focus was usually still on Ray, or at least Ray and his parents. Then three characters ended up getting a boost in screentime and stories: Marie, Debra, and Robert. The showrunners noticed that the Debra/Marie conflict was polling well with certain key demographics and decided to play it up more, until by the middle seasons it seemed like the majority of plots on the show were driven by Debra and Marie having petty feuds in which the audience was encouraged to root for Debra (some fans got annoyed with this, though, and viewed Marie and Debra as being Not So Different). Robert, meanwhile, was an Ensemble Dark Horse right from the start, and the show actually went to great lengths to give Robbie Character Development; many of the more interesting long-term storylines centered around Robbie's attempts to get his life back on track. Also, Amy's family arguably became this trope in some of the later episodes.
  • When Steve Urkel appeared in the first season of Family Matters, he was an instant favorite. The problems began when the focus slowly but surely shifted from the Winslow family and Steve to just Steve, his annoying habits, and his bizarre inventions. The actress playing Harriet left the show for this exact reason, and it was her show in the first place, since it was a Spin-Off from Perfect Strangers about supporting character Harriet and her family.
  • Narrowly subverted In-Universe on The Famous Jett Jackson. A new, blonde, female agent is introduced on the Show Within a Show, and Jett soon learns that the producers intend to have her replace him as the main character altogether. By the end of the episode, however, he's managed to both save his job and befriend the new girl, leading to her character becoming an equal partner to his and her actress joining the supporting cast.
  • Tyrion Lannister has become this on Game of Thrones, with considerably expanded screentime compared to his role in the books, and less moral ambiguity than his book character has. He's had more screentime than any other character in the show by a good margin. Jaime Lannister has also being doing some spotlight-stealing in the fourth and fifth season, including being written into a major storyline that didn't include him in the books (and which has become one of the shows' most hated plots, partially for this reason). In Season 4, Cersei, along with Jaime and Tyrion receives the most screentime. Notably, in the first three seasons, the top billings were generally mixed between the Starks, Lannisters and Daenerys. With the Starks essentially wiped out, in Season 4, the top three billings are all Lannisters, with Daenerys coming in fourth. "The Laws of Gods and Men", the sixth episode of Season 4, marks the first episode in the show's history that none of the Starks, not even Jon Snow, have appeared, while prior to this season, they were the Big Bad, but they've increasingly received POV scenes. In general, this has ended up being a Franchise Original Sin for the series. Their attempts at expanding characters such as Margaery Tyrell have led to the storylines of other characters such as Stannis Baratheon being pushed out to make room for them, which has been linked to the heavy Seasonal Rot that occurred in Season 5. In another example, Drogon hogs the spotlight from Rhaegal and Viserion.
  • Glee:
    • So prevalent it's actually becoming a recurring plot point (along with repeated lampshadings). Series 1 had the focus remain almost solely on Rachel and Finn. They were designated female and male lead both in the Glee club (despite the fact that Cory Monteith was arguably one of the weakest singers and dancers in the cast) and on the show itself, with almost every important plotline revolving around them in some way and even getting major subplots in the rest of the cast's A Day in the Limelight episodes. Season 2 reduced Rachel and Finn's screentime and spread more focus to other characters, like Brittany and Santana (who got promoted to regulars) and Mike (who had more lines in six episodes of S2 than in the whole S1), but then turned the spotlight on Kurt and his much-discussed homophobic bullying storyline, and, later, Blaine. In fact, it's Kurt lampshading this in Original Song which leads to the couple's Relationship Upgrade.
    • Blaine, with the Dalton Warblers, is another example, he sang more songs in a few episodes than some regulars did all show. Even within the Warblers, Blaine is the only one who ever sings lead, to the point that Glee Presents: The Warblers is basically a Darren Criss concept album.
    • In Season 3, the show has become less about the group (and Will) and more about Finn/Rachel and Kurt/Blaine.
  • Happy Days: The Fonz, who went from supporting character, to supporting character living in the garage of the main characters, to the spotlight character, to the point where the show named the Jumping the Shark trope by having the Fonz literally jump a shark. Henry Winkler is on record as not supporting the excessive focus. At one point they wanted to call the show "Fonzie's Happy Days," but Winkler vetoed the change. He even turned down a spin-off, while encouraging his castmates to do their own. Although Winkler might not have supported the excessive focus, it was probably the only thing that kept the show from being cancelled. Star Ron Howard lost interest early in the series and wanted to turn his attention to directing. The Fonzie character kept everyone employed.
  • House spent an awful lot of time on Taub's relationship problems in the later seasons, to the point where the "soap opera" part of the plot in several episodes was entirely about Taub, or Taub and Rachel, or Taub and his baby mama, or Taub and his daughters.
    • Thirteen and Foreman in Season 5, with their Romantic Plot Tumor of a relationship and the Huntington's drug trial before that.
    • Masters in Season 7: During her stint on the show, she appeared in most episodes' main and B-plots, and the rest of the plot frequently came to a halt around her so she could have her needlessly drawn-out ethical dilemma of the week.
  • Bam Margera on Jackass, due to his popularity with women and his Attention Whore tendencies. Much of the time, one didn't even realize that there was anyone in the cast besides Johnny, Steve-O and him.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O itself is a Spotlight-Stealing Squad in relation to its fellow Kamen Rider series. While most Kamen Rider shows of the time simply got one season and one movie (and more recent series have grown to a season and three movies), Den-O has a grand total of seven movies. Furthermore, three of those movies have been crossovers with other Kamen Rider shows, but the other shows' characters get token cameos at best. On top of that, Den-O also gets a starring role in the franchise 40th anniversary movie, over everyone else except the original and then-current Riders.
    • Den-O contains an example of this trope itself with the Taros, especially Momotaros. As time goes on, original protagonist Ryotaro gets shoved further and further into the background while the zany antics of the Taros get more and more focus. To some extent, this might be because Takeru Satoh (Ryotaro) left the franchise after the supposed Grand Finale, so the character was turned into a child and replaced by a child actor who simply couldn't replicate Satoh's skill in the role.
    • It helps that Momotaros is a "good monster" character played by a suit actor and a professional voice actor rather than a live actor, meaning it's far easier to bring him (as well as the other Taros) back for cameos since Toei never has to worry about the actor "moving on" as happened with Takeru Satoh and other Rider stars.
  • Word of God says that Ben became this in Lost.
    • The A-Team, a common term in Lost terminology to refer to Jack Sheppard, Kate Austin, James 'Sawyer' Ford, Sayid Jarrah and John Locke. If something is happening, if something needs to be done, or if someone is planning something, at least some of these five characters will usually be a part of it. It was lampshaded in one episode in which Charlie mentions that there seems to be one group of people on the island who go on all the quests and do anything important, who he calls the A Team. This of course has led to many of the other characters being Out of Focus, though some do get their spots in the limelight.
    • Lost also clearly played favorites with its distribution of spotlight episodes. For example, in the first season of 25 episodes (and 14 main characters), Jack and Kate each got three spotlight episodes to themselves, while Shannon got...none. Basically, if your name was Jack, Kate, Locke, Sayid, Hurley, Sun or Jin, you were guaranteed lots of centric episodes. Everyone else was lucky to get one a season, if that.
  • Reese on Malcolm in the Middle. After the first few seasons, the show became less about Malcolm and became more about Reese and whatever screwups the family would make that week. It soon got to the point where Malcolm barely appeared in some episodes.
  • Seven on Married... with Children (Cousin Oliver characters are prone to this in general.) Luckily, after one series he was written out and never heard from again, later lampshaded by showing his face on the side of a milk carton.
  • Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat: Conquest is guilty too. Almost every major fight must be a duel that only he can face; it's only when he's off somewhere else that Siro and Taja get to fight evil minions.
  • Once Upon a Time became a little too enamored with its villains overtime, with Regina the Evil Queen, Rumpelstiltskin, Captain Hook, Zelena the Wicked Witch, and the various arc villains usually receiving the lion's share of screentime and development.
  • In general, Power Rangers tends to have Red Rangers and Sixth Rangers get more attention than the other four guys on the team.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force is referred to as 'Power Rangers Mys-Nick Force,' or simply The Nick Show. He's The Hero Because Destiny Says So, and the others are just along for the ride. By the final arc, the scenes at the beginning of some episodes with one of the mentor types training the team were now scenes of Nick alone being taught something as he's reminded how uber-important he is so he's gotta stay sharp, and the others not even being around to watch. The mentors apparently don't bother with the others anymore. You knew you hit rock bottom when the last episode has Nick handily beating up a bad guy general while the others watch, and finally saying "Do you guys want in on this?" Yes, it's made explicit that he can do it all on his own but graciously lets the others pretend to matter out of charity.
      • Several other comic relief characters, namely Clare, Phineas, Leelee and Jenji (who ordinarily would have been minor characters) were also given way more story focus and significance than the other four rangers ever got, especially Madison. It's not that their characters or storylines are particularly disliked (at least not to the extent that Nick is), but rather that the remaining four rangers - the characters in the title of the show - sorely could have used this screen time and character development. It's also glaring given that Mystic Force was the first series to be cut down to 32 episodes instead of 40, so the fact that they chose to devote time to extraneous characters and not the rangers stands out all the more.
    • Tommy Oliver, known to many as the Green Ranger, deserves special mention. This guy practically defines spotlight stealing. Originally, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was about five teens "with attitudes" who were thrust into a battle against an evil witch that they weren't prepared for. Later on, cue the appearance of the evil Green Ranger and his badass Dragonzord. Tommy became so popular that even when they ran out of Sentai footage for the Green Ranger, the producers simply had to bring him back later on because of how so many kids wanted it. After a long run as the Green Ranger, Tommy came back as the White Ranger, with Zordon immediately declaring him the new leader of the team (with Jason just smiling away in the background)note  and Tommy subsequently going into full-blown Jeebus mode. For all intents and purposes, the show turned into "Tommy Oliver and his Amazing Friends" from Mighty Morphin' to Zeo and some of Turbo. Kimberly managed to mooch off of Tommy's limelight to an extent also, given that they were the Official Couple, though, this turned out to be a double-edged sword in that she arguably suffered from some moderate Chickification too. Humorously, Tommy's Spotlight Stealing ultimately manages to backfire on him in the S3 premierenote  (particularly with reference to usurping Jason) when he disregards Zordon's warning about overworking the Zords with extreme cockiness. Result? The Megazord falls apart, the Power Coins are obliterated, Team Rocket Wins. Smooth-move, Jeebus.
    • In a humorous example of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, Power Rangers S.P.D. and its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger actually had an entire episode dedicated to lampshading and subverting this trope: right after Commander Cruger is revealed to be the uber-badass Shadow Ranger/Deka Master, he starts getting called on by the rest of the team to bail them out of every skirmish they get into, essentially having the core focus group begging for their spotlight to be stolen. The subversion comes when Doggie blows them off in order to teach them to fight their own battles and not rely on him, and from then on, he only appears as the Shadow Ranger/Deka Master when the other Rangers honestly and truly need his help. Unfortunately, this falls back into Double Subversion territory when the fans didn't get this lesson and stole the other Rangers' popularity spotlight for him.
  • For reasons that lie beyond mortal understanding, the writers of Robin Hood thought that the audience would be more interested in the completely original character of shrewish, whiny Kate, rather than characters such as Much, Allan-a-Dale, Will Scarlett, and Little John; characters who are not only actual components of the Robin Hood legends that the show was based on, but who had been on the show since its beginning and not shoehorned in at the beginning of the third season. After her introduction, most of the gang dynamic revolved around the male outlaws shilling and falling in love with this completely random blonde, despite her Jerkass Sue tendencies and inability to do anything useful, interesting, or nice.
  • Saturday Night Live had a couple of instances:
    • With Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi gone by the fifth season, it was left to Bill Murray to carry most of the workload.
    • Eddie Murphy was this during the early eighties, to the point where he became the first person to host while still a castmember. This did not go over with his fellow castmates, especially when he opened with "Live from New York, it's The Eddie Murphy Show".
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Col. Sheppard and Rodney McKay usually filled the roles of Action Hero and The Smart Guy Lancer, just like O'neil and Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1, but Atlantis seemed to spend much less time on the other members of the team. Granted that Sheppard is the lead, but take for example, the episode "The Seed," where he robs Ronon of a chance in the spotlight twice. First Ronon volunteers to test a risky antidote, but Sheppard cuts in to take it himself. Then when Ronon goes to save Keller, he messes up just as Sheppard wakes up so he can go and save the day.

      Throughout the entire series, the audience discovers more about McKay's entire backstory and even his own sister gets some backstory in several episodes over Sheppard, Ronon, Teyla and Weir in the entire series. Rodney's character development over the course of the show made everyone else in Atlantis look static in comparison. This is especially bad with Zelenka, who appears to be just as brilliant as McKay but gets maybe 1% of the limelight.
    • Keller also falls into this, as part of the Character Shilling she gets. Both Ronan and McKay are romantically interested in Keller (a lesbian female character was also supposed to pursue Keller but those scenes were cut) which results in her getting more screen time than fans who consider her The Scrappy would like.
  • Star Trek falls into this a lot, most frequently with the "Nonhuman who gradually learns to be human" type of character. Specifics:
    • There is Data from Next Generation, who has much more of his backstory explored than the others, including an Evil Twin and encounters with his creator. One look at the Heartwarming page shows how many episodes focus on Data.
    • Star Trek: Voyager is split between The Doctor and Seven, especially as a pair. They approach the same "Learn to be human" angle from different sides, and their interactions together inevitably stole the episode because of it. The entire fourth season was The Seven of Nine Show. In theory, she had just been introduced and needed her character established in a hurry. Others suspect something else was behind all her screen time. As Revealed by Jeri Ryan in later interviews, this got her immense hate from the rest of the show's actors, despite it not being her fault the writers fell into a rut with one of the few things in the show who seemed to be working.
    • And the first half of the seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was pretty much Ezri Dax and Friends particularly with Worf in season 4. Though this one didn't take effect immediately. Most of the first eight or so episodes of season 4 had been written before it was decided to bring Worf over, so he's sort of peripheral to the action during that period. And Garak. For somebody not even listed as part of the main cast, he was one of the most major characters of the series.
  • The Suite Life on Deck focuses constantly on Cody, while his twin Zack is the comic relief. And it also focuses a lot on Bailey, Sometimes even more than Cody.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Big One from J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai. He comes right the heck out of nowhere, becomes the leader of the team, shoves them all (leader included) to the side, and is the focus of everything and absolutely perfect... and then becomes one of the series' mascots once JAKQ is included in the Super Sentai franchise. This was, however, intentional and welcomed by the fans since before Big One appeared, the series was suffering in ratings, and his arrival did let the show run for some more episodes.
    • As noted above in the Power Rangers section, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger had a case where the Dekarangers actually wanted Deka Master to steal the spotlight from them, only for him to refuse and tell them to get back to work.
    • Rio and Mele from Juken Sentai Gekiranger. They initially shared fairly equal plot and screen time with the heroes, then gained more and more prominence as they slipped into morally gray Anti-Hero territory after Long was introduced. Although they are extremely popular with the western fandom, Japanese fans had a less positive reaction and complained that the show was supposed to have been about the Gekirangers.
    • Similar to the Gekiranger example above, a complaint of Japanese fans about Tensou Sentai Goseiger was that it gave too much prominence to Bladerun/Brajira, who appears in all three villain groups the heroes face before being revealed as the Big Bad.
    • Daigo "King" Kiryuu from Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, another instance of the Red Ranger stealing focus. The unfortunate part is that the character was generally well-regarded at first, thanks to his Crazy Awesome Boisterous Bruiser personality and his unshakable faith in his teammatesnote . By the end of the show, however, he ends up taking on the Big Bad by himself while the rest of the team essentially plays cheerleader. Even before that point, Western fans had nicknamed the show "Daigo Sentai Kingranger".
      • Another "Red Ranger hijack" came in the form of Takaharu Igasaki from Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. The show was supposed to be about five ninja vying to succeed their legendary grandfather as the "Last Ninja", but in practice Takaharu got far more focus than is sister and cousins, and was always seen as the frontrunner in the "Last Ninja Race". The main problem is that, unlike Daigo, Takaharu didn't really have any redeeming character traits: since he was also the show's Kid-Appeal Character, he tended to act in stupid, childish ways and belt out his Catch Phrases every two minutes at the top of his lungsnote .
    • The main concept of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger was that it featured two Ranger teams (cops and robbers) that fought each other as much as they did the evil monsters. However, the Lupinrangers were more popular and over time the show began to cater to them, giving them more focus episodes and power-ups (and even letting them claim ownership of power-ups that were clearly designed to be given to the Patrangers). There's also the fact that the Lupinrangers' less-than-heroic traits (like their walking out on battles before the monster is defeated or causing massive property damage in pursuit of their goals) tend to get glossed over, something that the Patrangers aren't too happy about In-Universe.
  • Castiel from Supernatural, according to some fans. He's not human or a Winchester, he didn't even appear in the show until Season 4, and he's in barely one-third of the 23 episodes per season, but he's just as visible as the two main leads, despite that his focus episodes on average have lower ratings. Ever since the heavily promoted "Castiel Returns" for episode 17, season 7, it was the lowest rated episode of the season and Castiel was not heavily featured in upcoming episode trailers until season 12, episode 19 (also promoted as Cas heavy) and again turned the lowest ratings of the season.
  • In Survivor, one or two guys get the bulk of the screentime each season. Usually the main one's a Machiavelli wannabe that CBS thinks we'll "Love to Hate" (yes, Colton Cumbie, we're talking to you) — but we just hate him, making him the Creator's Pet.
    • Samoa might as well have been called "The Russell Hantz Show" given how much they worked his ramblings into every single episode and the viewers can probably think "... who're these guys in the purple? And who's that 'Mick' person they keep dragging along...?". This isn't just a complaint about somebody who doesn't like him complaining that he's being shown so much - they literally showed almost nothing of Galu pre-merge, and post-merge, kept all of them except whoever was going to be eliminated next and Shambo almost perpetually Out of Focus. Brett and Kelly got this the worst; there were several people wondering why Russell wanted Kelly gone so bad because she was supposedly a big threat despite having less time than Brett did. (And Brett admittedly had gotten so far by keeping his mouth shut.) His reign of terror continued into Heroes vs. Villains, where people jokingly said "Whoa, they actually had AMANDA on the show?" or "I didn't know Jerri was back, too!". However they at least let us get to see the other tribe in Heroes Vs. Villains.
    • Russell was easily the worst, but other spotlight stealers were Richard of Borneo, Rupert of Pearl Islands, Stephenie of Palau and Guatemala, Boston Rob in Marquesas, All Stars, Heroes vs. Villains, and Redemption Island and Coach of Tocantins, but Coach was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Heroes vs. Villains.
    • Two of Survivor's most famous Creator's Pets returned in Redemption Island, beginning to resume their reign of terror over the other poor 16 other contestants... however thankfully we didn't get Russell Hantz shoved down our throats for the third time since he was eliminated second overall — meaning that production was actually forced to show the other people on Zapatera! However, Ometepe wasn't so lucky as they didn't turn on Rob at all — the result? You'll probably be wondering who this "Grant" person who single-handedly won several challenges is and who these "Natalie", "Ashley", and "Andrea" girls are unless Phillip (the other producer's pet of the tribe) is talking to them. Rob is even finding himself nominated for just about every single "Player of the Week" award, even when it was clear he's just kicked back and is relaxing until the merge. As much of a relief as it is to actually get to know these other players voted out pre-merge thanks to seeing them compete in a Redemption Island Duel, do you think we'll get to see the rest of Ometepe at all? As long as Rob's around... probably not.

      As it turns out, Rob managed to win because the other cast members were Too Dumb to Live. And were essentially just extras on the Rob show - however, Rob didn't get all the screentime. Approximately 98% of the screentime this season was given to either Rob, Matt, or Phillip. About 80% of that screentime was divided between Rob and Phillip, with most of it going to Rob. The fandom wasn't rejoicing because he finally won - the fandom was rejoicing because maybe he'll finally go away.
    • Brandon and Cochran in South Pacific, both who by themselves managed to get more screentime than the season's winner, Sophie Clarke. To say nothing of twice returning players Ozzy and Coach, who already wore out their welcome during their sophomore outings.
    • Things obviously got pretty bad during 2009-2011 in the show, however One World got much better with the spotlight stealing squad. While Colton pretty much was the sole focus for the first half of the show, he actually was setting most of the events in motion, and after he was gone, most of the other contestants got a good enough edit you wouldn't have been surprised to find that a Living Prop managed to win the season.
  • The first two seasons of The Thick of It are an ensemble comedy, with Malcolm Tucker merely one of several central characters; hapless minister Hugh Abbott and bumbling assistant Ollie Reeder receive roughly equal screen time. By season three though, Malcolm's undoubtedly the protagonist. Not that there's anything wrong with that.note 
  • The latter seasons of Third Watch focused almost exclusively on the NYPD characters, with the FDNY characters practically reduced to bit parts. The paramedic characters did get more attention than the firefighters, but only because their stories were usually tied into the cop stories.
  • On later seasons of The West Wing, C.J. Cregg started to get a lot more focus and episodes like "Access" and "The Long Goodbye", an Emmy Bait episode which focused entirely on C.J. dealing with her father's Alzheimer's. In season 6, it stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief when she became Chief of Staff, a job for which she was unqualified and which should have gone to Josh or Toby. It should be noted that she wasn't a bad character or actress; Allison Janney won several Emmys for the role and deserved them.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Pretty much everyone who isn't Andy or Bailey. If you didn't pick up the series from the beginning, you might honestly not know that Andy is the main character.
  • Sesame Street has focused a lot on Elmo and Abby since their respective introductions (Rosita and Zoe have also had this problem on and off), with Grover, Ernie, Bert, Big Bird, Oscar, etc. etc. mostly shoved into the background.

  • Vocaloid:
    • As a literal squad, all six of the Crypton Vocaloids qualify for this trope over the 70-something others (And often Gumi and Gackpo (though even he started slipping in popularity in the late 2010s), who are often treated as Sixth Rangers to the Cryptonloids, and somewhat less often Kiyoteru, IA, and Yukari (the latter two of which started growing in popularity in the late 2010s), but that's usually it). This has a lot to do with Crypton/Piapro's huge marketing campaigns for its Vocaloids, compared to the more subdued efforts of other companies. First Installment Wins also probably has to do with it as well, as they are the first line of Japanese Vocaloids to be released.
    • Within the Cryptons, most people prefer and even more people know of Hatsune Miku over all the other seventy-three Vocaloids (and over 100+ if you count the fan made ones), with the other Cryptons being her backup or side acts during concerts or supporting characters in other material. Many would probably be surprised to know that Vocaloids other than Miku exist. The fans themselves even put a lampshade on it by creating her Woobie counterpart, Haku Yowane, who's always drinking because she knows she'll never be as good or popular as Miku.
      • Haku Yowane has fallen into this trope! She's actually one of the "Voyakiloids", "failure" variants which are supposed to represent songs made with the program that sound terrible. Initially, she was like that. However, as the backlash against Miku's popularity grew, Haku, as the anti-Miku (think Wario/Mario), became more popular as well. (That she looked like a goddess in most of her renderings certainly didn't hurt.) And then some composers decided that if she was really going to steal Miku's thunder, she needed better-sounding songs. It all snowballed from there and Haku has done everything from ride a motorcycle through a tricky course backwards to play a keyboard flawlessly one-fingered to shoot down a plane with a single bullet.
    • Meiko and Kaito serve as this for the V1 line, The Character Vocal series (Miku, Len, Rin, and Luka), Gumi, and Gackpo for the V2 line, IA and Yukari for the V3 line, and Otomachi Una for V4.
    • In terms of other languages, Oliver effectively serves as the face of not only the PowerFX line, but all of the English-speaking Vocaloids in general.
  • Beyoncé from Destiny's Child is sometimes criticized for this, especially after her solo career took off. Parodied by MADtv here and here Perhaps not coincidentally, her character in Dreamgirls is a fictional spotlight stealer based on Diana Ross.
  • The Doors and No Doubt are just two examples of bands of very talented musicians frequently overshadowed by their flamboyant lead singers. The fact that No Doubt is fronted by a woman whereas the rest of the band were all male just makes their situation worse. Neither Jim Morrison or Gwen Stefani were particularly happy about this. No Doubt's music video "Don't Speak" is about this very trope.
  • Yes, Virginia, there really were Jacksons not named Michael and Janet. And it probably says something about them that Michael had to die before they got their own reality TV show.
  • This is the main reason the rap group Leaders of the New School broke up after the release of their second studio album since Busta Rhymes was getting most of the spotlight on him while the rest of the members were pretty much forgotten. This also prompted Busta to pursue his solo career, which turns out successful for him.
  • The Bangles started off having three lead singers (Susanna Hoffs and the Petterson sisters) and the first albums are relatively balanced in that department. However, as Hoffs started to gain media coverage, most of the singles (i.e. videos, i.e. hits, i.e. opening/closing live numbers and encores) had her on lead. For their reunion album, she sings more than the others.
  • Eagles began as a quartet where lead vocals were relatively split (although Glenn Frey had a bit more input). Slowly, as Don Henley became the main lyricist and a fan favourite, he became, statistically, the band's most frequent lead singer.
  • During The '80s, Genesis morphed into The Phil Collins Trio, to the point where radio DJs would introduce Genesis songs as "another one from Phil Collins". A one-man Spotlight Stealing Squad for sure. Contrast this with the earlier, progressive rock era, where Peter Gabriel and his flamboyant costumes, masks and makeup were the focal point of their image and marketing, to the point where his leaving the band led to early death knells in the press. It didn't help that the other members were media-shy and that Gabriel was the mouthpiece for the band until 1975. Gabriel's legend loomed large until Collins became an unexpected solo success in 1981.
  • Did you know that Marilyn Manson is the name of an entire band? Their name was originally Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, but over time the lead singer stole more and more of the spotlight and became the only face of the band, to the point that they shortened the band's name to just his stage name.
  • Pink Floyd post-Barrett started with songs from just about everyone in the band, including collaborations from the whole band. By The Wall, only four songs weren't fully written by Roger Waters. Then there was The Final Cut. It also affected the vocals. Waters, David Gilmour and Richard Wright (at first, Barrett/Waters/Wright) usually shared the singing duties. By the time Waters took over the band in Animals, only one song wasn't fully done by him.
  • Perhaps this belongs in the Film folder, but Hans Zimmer gets a lot more recognition than James Newton Howard for composing for The Dark Knight Trilogy. And Howard didn't even do the third movie due to Zimmer forcing Howard out, in favor of his (multiple) proteges.
  • Brian Cox combined this with Breakup Breakout to become D Ream's Spotlight Stealing Squad several years after the group split up. While they were together, he attracted no attention whatsoever, and had next to no input into the group's records (almost all the keyboard parts on the records are played by Peter Cunnah). Fast forward a few years, and he's vastly more famous than anyone else associated with the group.
  • One example of spotlight stealing backfiring was with the well-known electric guitarist Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were close to breaking up because of John Frusciante's drug problems and infighting amongst the members, Dave Navarro — who's friends with the band members — stepped in to keep the band from ending. His presence and guitar playing style overshadowed the Peppers funky sound, making the band sound more like Jane's Addiction. This was made clearer on their album together One Hot Minute which was filled with Dave Navarro's guitar licks and was promoted by exotic music videos straight out of the Jane's Addiction playbook. The result was a huge backlash by fans, who still hold a grudge against Dave Navarro to this day. And the Peppers have officially declared that One Hot Minute was their worst album and hardly play tracks from it while on tour.
  • Rev. from DVL was an indie Japanese Pop Music idol group from Fukuoka, Japan, who enjoyed minor success... until 2014, when fan-taken photos of Kanna Hashimoto went viral and took the entire nation by storm. Fortunately, for Rev. from DVL, this meant mainstream media attention, but unfortunately, the public cared about Hashimoto only. Hashimoto began getting acting and commercial roles and was also pushed to the center focus of their music videos. Rev. from DVL disbanded in 2017, and to this day, the only member most people remember is Hashimoto.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • This tends to happen in Professional Wrestling pretty much any time a wrestler gains any degree of power over booking events. For example, in WCW from 1998 to 1999, the show centered so heavily on Kevin Nash that he gained the Fan Nickname "Big Poochie" after the character from The Simpsons episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", (specifically from a bit where Homer suggests that, when Poochie's not around, all of the other characters should say things like, "Where's Poochie?"). See also Triple H on WWE's Raw brand from 2002 to 2005, Jeff Jarrett in TNA from its founding in 2002 to the end of 2006, and Kurt Angle and his then-wife, Karen, also in TNA since 2006. If the latter three are any indication, they eventually do get it out of their system. As a group, the Main Event Mafia in particular, Kurt Angle specifically. Worst of all, it's basically a rehash of the nWo storyline from WCW, complete with Big Poochie.
  • During both of WWE's brand extension era, Raw tend to be in the main event of any dual brand PPV even if the match doesn't feature Raw's World Champion.
  • In British wrestling's Joint Promotions, Big Daddy became this from the late '70s onwards. Whilst a firm favourite with fans and pretty much saving the franchise, some people considered his popularity to be a case of jumping the shark.
  • In the really old school, see: Hulk Hogan in the WWF and WCW, and Dusty Rhodes in Jim Crockett Promotions/NWA. Ironically, Pro Wrestling NOAH could use more of this instead of the booker-wrestler devaluing himself to get over a young guy... who then fails to get over due to weak early title defenses, drops the belt to an "old guard" guy and promptly drops back to midcard hell. And Hogan did it again to TNA. Luckily, as time went on it got significantly better.
  • The New World Order; they became so overpushed in 1996-1999 (thanks to the creative control wielded by Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, as well as the overindulgence of Eric Bischoff) that it drove the entire storyline into the ground. The main problem was that, despite being the bad guys, they never, ever lost.
  • Defied Trope: Vince McMahon came out to take credit for the actions of Wade Barrett and The Nexus, much like how his daughter Stephanie had arisen as the mastermind behind the ECW revival in 2001. Barrett and his men proceeded to beat Vince senseless in response. (We guess that'll teach him not to ride other heels' coattails, especially since he's retired from wrestling now.)
  • For a long stretch between 2007 and 2009, almost every main event at every PPV was some combination of Randy Orton, Triple H, and John Cena. Since Triple H was injured, and Cena was busy with the Nexus, it became Orton and Sheamus more often than not. Since 2006, John Cena has been stealing the main event spot at WrestleMania from that year's Royal Rumble winner (with the exception of the 2009 winner). Ironically, when Cena himself won the 2008 Rumble, Edge and The Undertaker headlined Mania that year. Hell, Cena's been stealing the spotlight from the WWE Championship for a while now. The first few months of 2012 it was understandable - he was headlining WrestleMania with The Rock in the latter's first 'Mania match in years. After that, however, it was unjustifiable. He stole the spotlight from CM Punk, who is the WWE Champion, at Extreme Rules, which took place in Punk's hometown of Chicago, while Punk was in a nicely dubbed Chicago Street Fight with Arch-Enemy Chris Jericho, all because he was in a match with Brock Lesnar, who doesn't have nearly as much star power as The Rock does. Then his match with John Laurinaitis headlined Over The Limit over CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. That last one is why Punk's fan base didn't diminish at all when he turned heel - when a match like that goes after you, even though you're the WWE Champion, you have a legitimate reason to be angry.
  • In 2009, the group calling themselves The Beautiful People basically overtook TNA's Knockout Division, which had previously centered around some combination of Gail Kim, ODB, Awesome Kong, Taylor Wilde or someone involved with one of the four. As none of the previous spotlight holders had any direct affiliation it allowed some other names to slip in while the group shift made "Knockout" segments a lot more homogenous.
  • After Michael Cole's Face–Heel Turn. He's been on every show since as a commentator: WWE Raw, NXT, WWE Superstars, and after WWE Smackdown moved to Syfy he became a third color commentator. Eventually Cole stopped announcing on NXT and WWE Superstars. His positions on those shows was taken over by fellow commentators Todd Grisham, Jack Korpela, and Scott Stanford. With his face turn in 2012 he only announced on Raw and Main Event; John "Bradshaw" Layfield initially took over his Smackdown spot alongside Josh Mathews but he was later put back in the commentating booth for that show.
  • Triple H in 2011 since he became COO, which could be summed up as this: We went from the "Summer of Punk" to the "Autumn of HHH." Though the focus on The Game eventually died down after October, when he was ousted as the Raw General Manager and replaced with John Laurinaitis. Trips would then be injured by Kevin Nash and actually didn't show up until December to exact his revenge.
  • Team Hell NO (Daniel Bryan and Kane) often had segments that were nearly 30-40 minutes in length, usually consisting of one having a singles match with the other on commentary, then a long promo segment, and then the other partner having a match while the first member went on commentary; not to mention any pre-taped segments...
  • Listening to the ring announcers lately have shown this has gotten out of hand. In the past, the announcers were fairly good at staying on point and trying to talk about the current match and storyline, whether it was a main event, midcard, or women's match. Nowadays, the current match is usually treated as an annoying distraction from whoever the Spotlight Stealer is at the time.
  • After Daniel Bryan became WWE Champion, Triple H and The Authority quickly rolled in to take the belt away from him and absorb the spotlight.
  • WWECW:
    • After Bobby Lashley started feuding with Vince and lost the ECW Title, eventually moving to RAW, CM Punk practically dominated the show.
    • After Punk left, a more varied roster became the focus of the show for a while. But then said roster started to get depleted and the place essentially became Christian's playground when he returned in 2009.
    • Note that this wasn't a bad thing. It'd be a gross overstatement of WWECW's importance to call it a B Show. It was mainly used as a launching pad for younger stars to establish themselves on TV. The two aforementioned superstars were by far and away the most popular wrestlers on that show's roster — if it hadn't been for them, no one would be watching the show at all. WWECW was considered to be a bastardization of the original ECW by much of the latter's fan base — coincidentally, Punk and Christian wouldn't have been out of place in the original, which probably played a part into their popularity.
  • Late 2015, WWE's main event scene got depleted. Cena was taking time off, Orton got injured again, and Seth Rollins was forced to vacate the world title due to injury. You'd think WWE would use this time to elevate some younger talent in preparation for when Cena and Orton hung up the boots for good, right? Well, they did. They made Roman Reigns the main focus of the show a la John Cena, and Monday Night RAW became Monday Night Roman. Fans did not react well to this, and the quality of the programming having tanked around this time did not help matters.
  • Dean Ambrose got the spotlight for the majority of the build between Fastlane and WrestleMania 32 after Reigns had to get facial reconstruction surgery for a deviated septum. This happened for two reasons:
    1. Ambrose had been on fire ever since he won the Intercontinental Title back in December 2015 at TLC, having a stellar program with Kevin Owens, becoming the MVP of the Royal Rumble PPV that year by beating Owens in a brutal Last Man Standing match and then entering the titular match and lasting to the final two (outlasting several other prominent stars such as Brock Lesnar, The Wyatt Family, Chris Jericho, and even his best friend Roman Reigns), and then carrying the build to Fastlane with his interactions with Brock Lesnar, resulting in him getting the plans for WrestleMania changed and landing the Lesnar match that was originally slated for Bray Wyatt.
    2. By that point, Ambrose was the only full-time main event talent that was active. A massive injury epidemic hit the company on every level, taking out several stars in every part of the card, up to and including John Cena. He and Triple H were left having to carry RAW by themselves because Hunter, despite being a part-timer, was the only other main event talent still on the show that even showed up regularly. For that matter, this was the same reason why Hunter won the world title for the fourteenth time — there was no other credible heel left on the roster for Reigns to face at Mania that Reigns could conceivably be cheered against. note 
  • Among the Four Horsewomen of NXT, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks have received the most focus, with the former having won all titles available to the women's division with the sole exception of the original Women's Championship, each reigns lasted for months, rarely getting pinned or submitted even in tag team matches and even being the one who ended Asuka's undefeated streak. Sasha on the other hand also has multiple title runs (although all of her reigns are rather short) and had participated in the multiple match types that is a first to the women division, and was among the final participants in the 2018 Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber match, and WrestleMania XXXIV Women's Battle Royal. The other two Horsewomen, Becky Lynch and Bayley on the other hand have less title reigns and are rarely focused on after losing the titles, especially Becky who is the only one who did not win the NXT Women's Championship.

    Role-Playing Games 

  • 49.5% of all baseball-related news will be about the New York Yankees. 49.5% will be about the Boston Red Sox. The other teams are evenly divided among the remaining 1%.
    • In Chicago, there's the Cubs and that Black Sox Scandal team on the South Side. Even when the White Sox broke their lengthy drought first in 2005, and even with a Big Name Fan in Barack Obama, the Southsiders were regularly overlooked in favor of the Cubbies, to the point where even Obama rooted for them to finally break their drought in 2016 (which they did).
  • In Ireland, GAA news is divided 60% Dublin Gaelic football, 30% Cork hurling, 10% the rest. Neither is the best team, but they have the highest populations and can thus boost newspaper sales more.
  • Notre Dame's football team last won a national championship when Ronald Reagan was president, yet they have enough clout that they're the only school (as opposed to conference) to have an exclusive deal with a major television network.
    • Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has had a solid career, though plagued with Every Year They Fizzle Out syndrome, but his brash style, NFL experience and love of the spotlight make him easily the most-covered coach in college football.
  • Hockey Night in Canada, due to various licensing agreements with teams and broadcast agreements, was widely seen as "The Toronto Maple Leafs Show" with the occasional spinoff "The Montreal Canadiens and Someone Else". This problem eased significantly when the show went to a two-game format, the later game finally allowing the western Canadian teams to get regular national airtime.
    • It's STILL the "Toronto Maple Leafs Show", not just on Hockey Night but on every Canadian-produced sports show/channel, because essentially all of Canada's media is located in Toronto and they hammer that fact in every single moment they can.
      • A fun game is to take a shot for every time the Toronto Maple Leafs are mentioned during a game they are not even in! Even more irritating is during the playoffs in years they don't qualify, or are already eliminated (they haven't won a playoff series since before the 2004-05 lockout, and failed to qualify for seven years in a row and ten out of eleven afterward). That certainly does not stop HNiC from bringing them up.
  • In the Philippines, most news about the NCAA/UAAP will involve men's basketball. I heard there were other sports, but...
  • Coverage of football dominates sports news in the UK both in newspapers and on TV, even during the off season when no games are actually being played (transfer news makes up the difference). Only the Olympics and the Ashes stand a reasonable chance of displacing football off the back pages, and then only during the summer and if England/GBR are doing well.
  • Brett Favre. He's undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, but the amount of media attention he received in what is ostensibly a team sport bordered on the insane. In 2009, he returned to Green Bay (his old team) to play as the QB of the Minnesota Vikings (their hated rival). Fox dedicated a camera to watch him for the entire game and fans could watch a webcast of that view exclusively. Even though he wasn't on the field for half the game! During one of Favre's retirements, ESPN interrupted SportsCenter for live coverage of him getting off a plane en route to a press conference.
  • After Favre's (final) retirement, the media fixated on Tim Tebow in the same way. Before his first snap with the Denver Broncos, he was dominating gobs of coverage on SportsCenter and other programs pretty much entirely because of his outspoken personal views... but networks took it to the point where every move Tebow made was being obsessively followed by cameramen, even when he wasn't saying a word to them. It got to the point where, during the 2011 season, pre-season starting QB Kyle Orton was eventually released by the Denver Broncos to allow Tebow to take over at quarterback — not necessarily because Tebow was better, but because the fans stole Orton's spotlight for Tebow.
    • Tebow's situation was actually pretty similar to Anna Kournikova's, of all people. A solid competitor but hampered by serious flaws (weak arm, can't handle speed of NFL/bad control, injury-prone), came along at exactly the right time (fans looking for a role model in troubled league/Internet just starting to really take off) became insanely popular among a certain section of the fanbase (evangelicals/horndogs), genuinely tried to improve, couldn't, finally hit rock bottom (0-7, 1 interception, 0.0 passer rating/clobbered in first round of US Open), and quickly faded into obscurity with little fanfare. There were other openly devoutly Christian QBs before (Kurt Warner and Jon Kitna), during (Philip Rivers) and since (Russell Wilson) Tebow's tenure. but none captured the imagination of the faithful on the basis of his faith like Tebow.
    • And just as Tebow's career flamed out, Johnny Manziel came onto the scene—essentially Tebow 2.0, as both QBs are known more for their ability to scramble than for their passing ability, played in the SEC in college, won a Heisman Trophy earlier in their college careers than anyone before , and are white. While there are some differences (Tebow wasn't quite as undersized as Manziel, but had less arm strength), the similarities have been repeatedly lampshaded.
  • Mention to someone not from the UK that you're from anywhere in the vicinity of Manchester and you'll get something along the lines of 'Oh, so you're a Manchester United fan?'. Tell them you're a Manchester City fan, who play in the same league and locally have almost the same level of support (different areas of the city), and they used look at you blankly. That's changed a bit in the 2010s, after the Abu Dhabi oil barons replaced the sacked former Thai prime minister as owner at Man City.
  • Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin interchangeably serve as the NHL's Brett Favre.
    • Most egregious example coming from Crosby's long injury status. He was out for over a full season, yet all news coverage about hockey still revolved around him. Jeremy Roenick even lampshades this by saying they ought to stop talking about Crosby until there are actual updates on his health. He gets blasted for it by his colleagues!
  • In India, cricket manages to be an SSS to not only any and every other sport, but even billion-dollar corruption issues and state elections!
  • Spain suffers from pretty much the same football obsession the UK does, except Real Madrid and Barcelona seem to be the only teams existing in the whole country.
    • Tell anybody that you live in Madrid. Despite the fact that there are five First and Second Division teams based in that Community and three in the city itself, you'll rarely find anybody who doesn't assume you support Real.
  • Brazil has a football obsession in religious levels - though the Olympics and volleyball also get some love. And nationwide press basically just pays attention to the big 4 of both Rio and São Paulo (being the biggest two cities/states and the headquarters of the big media companies helps the other states being treated as a Flyover Country), getting even worse if one of those 8 hires a big name player or wins a major championship.
    • Things are a bit worse than that. There are 2 teams from that group that gets even more attention. Flamengo and Corinthians are really popular and won some titles but that turns every single national sports news into 45% to each of those teams and 10% to the other "Big Ones".
    • You're talking about Stealing Spotlight in Brazilian soccer without talking about Neymar?
  • In the 2010-2011 NBA season, the Miami Heat got to near Creator's Pet levels of coverage after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the team. Fortunately, the hoopla over the Heat was greatly reduced the following season, mainly because there were more intriguing stories to talk about (i.e., the lockout, the Knicks' extremely erratic season with coach shakeups and Jeremy Lin, injuries galore, Dwight Howard's will-he-or-won't-he stay in Orlando).
    • The Lakers, early favorites to three-peat, were a SSS in that same season, to the point that Fox Sports had a section on their website devoted to both the Lakers and the Heat called "Heat or 3Peat", essentially scheduling the NBA Finals before the season even started! Funnily enough, the NBA champions that year were not either of these teams, but the Dallas Mavericks, who beat both teams en route to the title.
  • National soccer news in the Netherlands has a tendency to become "AFC Ajax and some other teams". Granted, AFC Ajax is the most successful team in the league, but it irks people when "their" team wins the league and then it's still about how Ajax didn't win it.
  • With the return of the Winnipeg Jets to the NHL, the focus from all Canadian sports outlets seems to have shifted to the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights stole the NHL's spotlight in their inaugural season of 2017-18, as they shattered the records for a first-year team and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final with home-ice advantage over the Washington Capitals. The more experienced Caps won the Cup, but Vegas far exceeded expectations.
  • The quarterback position in American football and the pitcher position in baseball are especially prone to this and will always get a greater share of the credit or blame than they deserve. The goalkeeper position in hockey and soccer/football are often this trope as well.
  • In the tennis world, try watching an ATP match between two other players than Roger Federer in a tournament he's in and take a shot every time the commentators mention him. Or a tournament he's been knocked out of. Hell, even a tournament he never entered in the first place. Or women's tournaments. Or wheelchair tennis. Or any article on men's tennis written in the past nine years. You will die.
  • Michael "Air" Jordan stole the spotlight from Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry "Legend" Bird during the late 80s and into the 90s. Came back big time when he came back from baseball and the Bulls dominated, to the point commentary on other sports events were ignored to focus on Jordan, he was a bigger merchandise seller than all the other big names combined, and even Bill Clinton said he would kick start the economy and employment, his spotlight and popularity was that big.
  • ESPN, especially its flagship program SportsCenter, usually gets accused of basically just being "NFL Live", with the NBA (especially LeBron James) getting the majority of the rest of the attention and everyone else being Demoted to Extra.
  • F1 news in Italy are Ferrari-centric. It's fair enough when Ferrari are title contenders, but it was rather awkward during their dry spell during the early 90s, when they were the 3rd/4th best team and rarely won. Still, news only mentioned the race winner and the Ferrari drivers, often ignoring important details like who had finished in 2nd or 3rd (if they weren't driving a red car).
  • In a double subversion, most football news in Norway are about the English Premier League! It's not uncommon spotting fans walking around Norwegian cities wearing Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool merchandise, while domestic sides barely get attention on matchday. Provided there isn't a fixture clash with the EPL.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 is this trope, with the Space Marines being its most pure example... if you ask many Warhammer players, anyway. The latest Marine release saw a White Dwarf giving them coverage equivalent to a Catholic newspaper during a papal visit. It's not that Warhammer and The Lord of the Rings players mind Games Workshop focusing on 40K because that's where the money is, but being treated as ablative shielding?
    • White Dwarf does that with every new release. The Stompa, a single model, got 1 1/2 issues devoted to it.
      • White Dwarf has an annoying tendency to overhype every single new release, but nowadays it seems like the entire magazine is either about Dark Eldar, Blood Angels, or Skaven.
    • TSOALR reports this has been reversed.
    • The Games Workshop website prefaces going on it with a selection of countries to be redirected to a corresponding variant of their website. Underneath this selection is a large image of the double-headed Imperial Eagle icon from Warhammer 40,000, and not really anything else.
    • Several armies have some sub-factions that qualify for this trope. Especially the Ultramarines for the Space Marines. Just look at the latest Space Marine codex, in which the majority of chapters get one named special unit each, specifically in the HQ slot. The Ultramarines get about six. And that's only scratching the surface of the codex, since it has several sections devoted to only the Ultramarines, 90% of the artwork in the codex is of the ultramarines, and as if that is not enough, there are just as many Ultramarines miniatures on displayed in the codex as all the other chapters combined, if not more. Indeed, many fans did not like this at all due to the fact that their favorite chapters being pushed aside in favor of a chapter only some people are fans of. Matt Ward, the writer of the codex, even admitted himself that he was a die-hard fan for the Ultramarines, and sincerely apologized for this. At least one should be thankful that several other chapters have their own separate codices, so they don't get pushed aside in favor of another chapter, but geez! Similarly, 90% of the artwork is always about the Ultramarines, because GW doesn't want to mix up the box art and confuse customers.
    • Those of us who remember 2nd edition find the idea that the Ultramarines have steadily got more prominent somewhat amusing. In 2nd edition there wasn't actually a Codex: Space Marines for the standard chapters, there was just Codex: Ultramarines, which could be used to make armies from other chapters if you wanted to paint them in some other way. The background was entirely focused on Ultramar and the Ultramarines, ALL the special characters were Ultramarines, and funnily enough nobody complained about it. Indeed, long-term Ultramarines players who date from this era often consider the other Codex chapters as something of a spotlight-stealing squad, forcing their Ultramarines out of their own codex and trying to make it more of an ensemble piece. The other three major chapters - Dark Angels, Blood Angels and Space Wolves - have not had their books usurped in this manner!
      • It Got Worse. He has taken to writing every Space Marine codex since then and small notes have been taken. Such as the Grey Knights being cut down from 3,000 to 1,000 marines making up their chapter and suddenly becoming codex adherent. Making this statement in an interview didn't help cheer up many Blood Angels players either: "Indeed, it was Guilliman who would have the greatest lasting effect upon the now leaderless Blood Angels. Through the Codex Astartes - that great treatise on the restructuring and ordering of the Space Marines - Guilliman's legacy would reshape the Blood Angels Legion into the Chapters that defend the Imperium to this day."
    • The real issue is that Space Marines in general get too much support (model-wise and rules-wise) and are generally treated as the protagonists of Warhammer 40,000 to an excessive degree. Who else gets modular plastic HQ characters (Chaos doesn't count, they're still Space Marines)? Who else can build a competitive army entirely from the plastics? Who else can build an army that does anything and does it nearly as well as the specialized armies? Who else has bleeding special characters who make all your guys Fearless, except when you want them not to be? Warhammer doesn't have a single army that is the focus of everything like that. Every army is competitive, has a decent selection of plastic models, and has a significant presence in the population of players, but when you go to a 40k tournament it is a safe bet that three in four armies you face will be some variant of Space Marines.
      • This tendency to face Space Marine armies in competitive tournament play has also caused Complacent Gaming Syndrome among those competing. An army's success depends on that army's commander's knowledge of the units and rules of Space Marines and their own army's ability to effectively counter and kill those Space Marines.
    • This is fully noticeable in the lineup of codex releases. Prior to 5th edition, Space Marines would be released at the start of the edition, with maybe their Chaos Counterparts getting a later release. After that all of the other codex releases would be of the other races and factions. After 5th Edition, there appears to be an unspoken rule that there must be at least one space marine codex release between each other "non space marine" codex. When they actually ran out of codexes to update, the Daemonhunters got demoted into the aforementioned "Grey Knights" and was now deemed a "space marine" codex.
    • Due to the aforementioned Space Marines all getting Standalone Codexes from each other (where before they relied on a supplementary codex that required the basic Space Marine Codex to use), sometimes one Space Marine army did this to another. The most notable of this happened with the 4th Edition Dark Angels, who had the newest book with cheap dedicated transports. Come 5th Edition, these ended up becoming standard to all Space Marine Armies. As if to collect on the "interest", the OTHER space marine armies started getting ways to field all-biker armies and all-terminator armies, which were historically something unique to the Dark Angels. To kick the dog even further, right after the Dark Angels finally caught up to all of these shenanigans in 6th edition, the vanilla space marines then got re-released afterwards with a new Centurion unit, new Tanks, and a new weapon type, effectively rendering the Dark Angels a niche army for the duration of 6th edition. This juggling act continued into the 7th edition, where the Space Marine Codex and Dark Angels codex were released back to back, with them mutually stealing stuff from each other's previous dexes (taking the Librarius Conclave from the Dark Angels while the Angels took the Grav Weapons).
    • Did you know there are four Chaos Gods, each with their own followers and themes? If so, congratulations on knowing more about 40k than some people at Games Workshop. Khorne seems to get more attention from the higher ups than Tzeentch, Nurgle & Slaanesh ever will. The video games are even worse, Dawn of War being especially guilty of this. A lot of this is the simple fact that you can build a decent Khornate character by having them yell "Blood for the Blood God!" and charge, while the others tend to have much more complex plots and deeper goals.
    • Between Warhammer 40,000's 4th and early 6th editions, Slaanesh was arguably as much of a spotlight-stealer as Khorne, especially when it came to releases for the Chaos Daemons faction. Slaanesh's fall Out of Focus in more recent years (which may have to do with his/her/its very un-family-friendly image, and Games Workshop trying to appeal to a younger audience) has led Nurgle to take up dual spotlight-stealing duties with Khorne, as evidenced by his increased focus in Warhammer: The End Times and 8th edition 40k.
  • The Munchkin would love to be this in any tabletop RPG game.
  • A bad or inexperienced GM can bring this trope to any RPG. Either by bringing out the dreaded GM PC, overemphasizing an NPC (either canon or homemade) to the exclusion of the players, or even playing favorites within the players.
    • This is one of the worst features of the otherwise pretty good Forgotten Realms setting: the canon NPCs are so prominent and so godlike that PCs faced with a tough (for them) problem are likely to find themselves thinking "You know, we could just go home and have a beer, and let Elminster snap his fingers and fix this." Greyhawk had some insanely powerful mages also, but they're treated mostly as being ancient history rather than still active in the world (some of them are still alive, but retired/gone mad/so focused on their own esoteric concerns that just getting their attention can be an adventure in itself).
  • The Old World of Darkness had similar problems to the Forgotten Realms, in that far too many modules came down to watching the uberpowerful canon NPCs doing things. Even more so, though, were the Tremere, Salubri, and Tzimisce clans in Vampire: The Masquerade, who received far more emphasis than any other. The nadir of the line was the final supplement, Gehenna, which presented a "grand finale" option for the entire Old World of Darkness that amounted to the player characters surviving to be the last survivors of the Kindred so they can witness the Salubri kill the Tremere and then fight the Tzimisce.

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

    Video Games 
  • The .hack games are notorious about this. The first four games had about two dozen of characters, but only about 6 were any important. And of those 6, most lost importance as soon as their roles in the main plot were done - most notably, Balmung. As soon as he joins the main party, he becomes nothing but a tool.
    • And G.U. isn't all that better. While most of the characters do contribute for the plot somewhat, by the end of Redemption most of them are, again, mere tools. This applies even for Atoli, who was a major character in the previous two games (heck, Reminisce is pretty much all about her) only to get a single plot-relevant moment... at the ending.
  • From Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, despite what the title would have you believe. He completely takes over the first case solving almost everything for you, while in the last case, he makes things a lot easier than they should be for Apollo. Also, much of the game revolves around his case 7 years ago.
    • While most examples of this trope strictly fall under either tropes are not bad and tropes are not good, Phoenix manages to be an example of both. Fans were originally upset over the main cast of the series being completely replaced, so Phoenix's involvement was something of a Hope Spot for enraged fans. After the game's release, many fans felt that Apollo was a lackluster main character and grew to dislike him, but this may be due to the fact that he never really had a chance to develop due to Phoenix's heavy involvement in the plot.
    • And ironically, despite the next game, Dual Destinies, putting Phoenix back in the spotlight with Apollo seemingly Demoted to Extra, it managed to develop Apollo much more than Apollo's own game did, to the point where fans now finally think of him as a character who can stand up on his own right. Of course, Athena Cykes managed to play one to both of them, but this is understandable seeing as she's a new character.
    • Even more so in Spirit of Justice, where despite having Phoenix Wright in the title, Apollo is the central character of the story. The plot starts with Phoenix, but eventually reveals Apollo's backstory. In the end, it's Apollo who topples a tyrannical regime.
  • The Colonial Marines in Aliens vs. Predator (2010). Despite not being the title characters and having the least interesting gameplay mechanics (bog-standard FPS gameplay versus completely unique alien warriors), they have the longest story campaign by a wide margin, and prominent roles in the other two campaigns and the multiplayer. The title characters themselves get shafted in their own ways - the Aliens have a miniscule solo campaign of only a handful of very simple missions with little story, while the Predator is only fought once in either campaign and has almost no role in the plot.
  • The pros in Backyard Sports. The advertising REVOLVES around them rather than the neighborhood kids. From their first appearance onward, they are easily the best players in the game, leaving the kids, who have much worse stats, unnecessary to beat the game. Well, except Memetic Badass Pablo, but that's a tradition.
    • In fact, Backyard Skateboarding is written from the perspective of Andy McDonald (the only pro player in the game), despite the fact that there are eleven other playable characters, six of whom are available from the start just like McDonald.
  • In the Batman: Arkham Series, the Joker has always been a villainous example of a spotlight stealer, though he is recognized as Batman's archnemesis. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, it was justified, as he was the main villain who instigated the breakout. However, further games always incorporate his involvement in some ways, making it seem like Rocksteady cannot make an Arkham game without the Joker. His involvement in Batman: Arkham City was substantial enough to rival Hugo Strange, the game's real big bad. Black Mask, who was believed to be the Big Bad in Batman: Arkham Origins, reveals that the Joker was impersonating him, and he essentially dominated the plot as the game's true main villain who hired the assassins. Even in Batman: Arkham Knight, his absence constituted a massive drop in crime until the Scarecrow shows up. And he still manages to steal the screen time from every villain, in the form of a fear induced hallucination. As a result, he has more scenes than all of the villains combined. Further reinforcing this, one of Batman's fear hallucinations involve the rogues gallery forming a more effective teamup than scarecrow's army, just to put down the aforementioned villain. And he kills them all in that hallucination. Oh, and he was essentially responsible for the Arkham Knight's existence as the final nail in the coffin.
  • Kagura Mutsuki and Celica A. Mercury of Blazblue: Chronophantasma. A large chunk of the three stories of Chronophantasma deal with Kagura's his attempted coup against the Imperator and Celica's relationship with Ragna and life in the modern world, despite being relative newcomers to the story. The creators seem to be aware of this; in the PS Vita port, there is a scenario where Kagura and Celica are paired up against Ragna and Noel in a series of games to decide who should have the title of the game's main protagonists. In the West, they (especially Celica) are blamed for leaving the other newcomers (Bullet, Azrael, Amane) and some veterans (Litchi, Arakune, Taokaka) underdeveloped. note 
  • Fritz from Brain Dead 13. Definitely Fritz. He even has a spot in the box art which says "Starring Fritz". Not bad for a Determinator maniac who is so hell-bent on using so many ways to kill Lance.
  • Darkstalkers. Was at first about Demitri Maximoff; after the first game, Morrigan Aensland clearly becomes the focus even when you add in an anti-Christ in the last game. It's so bad that most fans know who Morrigan is, but have no clue on what game she's really from. This is even mocked (to nearly fourth wall-breaking proportions) in Cross Edge (where Morrigan, Felicia, Demitri, Lilith, and Jedah make an appearance). In one particular part of the postgame segments, after defeating a revived Jedah and teaming up with him, the Darkstalkers engage in a lengthy discussion of how Demitri originally was the main character, until Morrigan's popularity usurped his title of protagonist. Lilith expresses surprise at this, believing that Morrigan was always the heroine of the story, but in the end, she doesn't quite care, as she—being a part of Morrigan herself—is almost always guaranteed at least a cameo whenever Morrigan shows up.
  • In Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Ayane gets a disproportionate amount of screen time during the last half of the story mode, while the protagonist Kasumi is left in the dust.
  • Etna, The Lancer from Disgaea, has gotten more and more focus over the years, playing a large role in Disgaea 2, featured predominantly in spinoff titles such as Cross Edge, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and it's sequel, and Trinity Universe, and Etna Mode (which is essentially a "What if Laharl had never reawakened") in the PSP version of the first Disgaea. However, with Disgaea 3's Raspberyl Mode and Disgaea 4, it appears that Etna has been ditched in favor of Flonne, especially considering that's she's an Archangel now. And as for Laharl?. The only subsequent game to give him an important role is Disgaea Infinite. And then Disgaea Dimension 2 happened, and Laharl was put back in the spotlight (although one of the major subplot still involves Etna).
  • In the Dynasty Warriors series, Zhao Yun has been the cover boy for nearly every (at least non-expansion or Spin-Off) game. But in DW7, where individual Musou modes were scrapped for Kingdom-based stories, nearly each kingdom has one with the most notable ones being Xiahou Dun, Sun Quan, and Sima Zhao from the kingdoms of Wei, Wu, and Jin respectively who have the most stages than any characters. While it may be justified for Sun Quan (who was often overshadowed by his father and older brother) and to a lesser degree Sima Zhao, the fact that Xiahou Dun is playable in battles that not only he did not really take part in historicallynote  but battles that could've gone to characters who were without stages yet being involved in them historically raised a few eyebrows.
  • Vaas from Far Cry 3: he takes over the cover of the game, is featured in most advertisements and gets more screen time than the real Big Bad of the game. With few complaints.
    • Not to mention many fans were upset when after all that build up, he becomes a basic boss fight and is killed off early. Many fans felt the storyline went downhill afterwards.
    • Show of hands; how many of you looked at the cover of Far Cry 4 and even noticed there was somebody there other than the guy in the pink suit? That's the Affably Evil antagonist Pagan Min, voiced to great acclaim by Troy Baker, whose character and dictatorship the entire game revolves around. That you can get a secret ending where protagonist Ajay resolves his business in Kyrat in a matter of minutes and goes on to party with him really says something.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn switches between three armies. One of these armies is lead by the hero of the previous game, Ike. About halfway through the game this pretty much becomes Ike's game. Micaiah's left in the dust. Heck, the trailer makes it seem like Micaiah is going to be highly important in part 3. While she is, there are far more opportunities to use Ike's new party than the Dawn Brigadiers.
      • However, nobody really suffers this as much as the heroes of Part 2 - a Let's Play of Radiant Dawn mentions that the characters in Part 2 are generally flawed because they have such limited availability throughout the game - Elincia manages to still remain important, but she's pretty much Demoted to Extra during part 3. However, in part 4, Elincia and the Dawn Brigade manage to join everyone.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has been doing this for the entire series following its massive success. It's been featured in not only Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS (with Robin and Lucina as playable characters), but in Project X Zone 2 as well (as Chrom and Lucina as playable characters, being the only Nintendo characters in the game besides Fiora). This doesn't just extend to guest appearances, however. It still managed to insert itself into Fire Emblem Fates by having a subset of character be reincarnations of Awakening characters plus three of the children units as themselves being recruitable characters. Another thing to note is that Awakening is the only other game in the series in Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE to get representation besides the very first Fire Emblem.
    • Fire Emblem Fates seems to be riding on Awakening's coattails, if Fire Emblem Heroes and Fire Emblem Warriors has anything to say about it. Although Heroes covers most of the series, and each game gets decent representation, Awakening and Fates seems to get the most publicity in the form of limited seasonal units, units based on a holiday, or other fun gimmick. With the exception of Lyn and Caeda in the bridal themed banner, every seasonal unit has been drawn from Fates and Awakening. Warriors is worse in this in that the entire playable cast solely consists of characters from those two games, with only 5 from other previous games and two Original Generation characters being the exceptions.
    • The page image refers to Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, specifically the last chapter. The second generation of Genealogy sees Seliph lead a liberation army against Emperor Arvis, who is responsible for the death of his father, as well as most of the first generation. With Arvis gone, the final chapter is mostly about Julia and her ties to Julius. Seliph isn't exactly Demoted to Extra, but he has much less to do than he did in previous chapters, with most castle dialogues having him act as The Watson to Lewyn. The final boss also reflects this, with Seliph being nearly worthless against him despite getting his Infinity +1 Sword near the end of the previous chapter, while Julia can take him down effortlessly with her Last Disc Magic.
    • Interesting enough, in Genealogy story itsef, theres an even bigger example: Leif, the prince of Leonster, and Seliph's cousin. Leif is one of few children character who is guaranteed to appear in the second generation, the other being his own big sister, Altenna. As a result when it comes to the storyline of the second generation, Leif evidently have so much more dialogues compared to the other character. Leif is one of few character in the entire series who can be Killed Off for Real and still have a dialogue in storyline sections, several chapters after his introduction and the campaign at Thracian Peninsula covers 3 chapters out of 6 of the second generation, in which one of them is the prologue. The content of said chapters can be summarized as such: Chapter 7: Seliph meets Leif. Chapter 8: Leif met his sister for the first time. Chapter 9: Leif reunited with his big sister, defeated Travant and liberated Thracia. The remaining 2 chapters of the game proceed to rush through the remaining plotline with the conflict against Granvell empire, Julius first proper appearance, and Arvis crammed in chapter 10, and the endgame cramming even more with Seliph army duking it out against the remaining Holy Weapon wielders, the Silesse Pegasus Knights, and the Deadlords. This particular quirks of Genealogy did not went unnoticed in the story itself, with one scene in chapter 8 lampshading the army's prolonged stay in Thracia. Shouzo Kaga himself ended up elaborating Leif story even further with Thracia 776 where Leif become the protagonist of the story.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's 2, the Toy animatronics are hyped up as a big new threat. Past Night 3, they're phased out in favor of the old animatronics. (Mangle sticks around.)
    • This is played with with Bonnie the rabbit throughout the entire series. On one hand, Bonnie doesn't really get any more spotlight than the other animatrons for the most part in gameplay terms, being just a single enemy in a game full of them. The biggest exception in gameplay would be Five Nights At Freddys 3, where the only true enemy in the game is heavily implied to be an old prototype model of him, but even then the actual Bonnie doesn't show up at all. He does, however, get the most prominent spots in all of the game's trailers, with most of the lingering shots falling on one model of his or another, and being the one to perform the jump scare at the end all four of them, assuming one includes Springtrap from 3 as one of his models.
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's 4, Nightmare Fredbear is the sole enemy on Night 5 and takes over midway through Night 6, causing the other four animatronics to stop attacking. Nightmare takes over the role on Nights 7 and 8.
  • The unit High x Joker in iDOLM@STER SideM have more events than even the main units Dramatic Stars and Jupiter. A lot of less popular units are completely ignored when it comes to cards.
  • Dan Smith, one of the seven multiple personalities of the killer7 gets an entire chapter devoted to his character's backstory and is more often than not the selected persona during the animated cutscenes. Mask de Smith also gets a disproportional amount of screentime compared to the others, as does Garcian Smith (justifiably so in Garcian's case). It should be noted that Suda51 admitted that he didn't have time to do everything he wanted in this game, which may explain why we never find out much about Kaede, Coyote, Con, or Kevin.
  • The King of Fighters does this, a lot. However, they change up the characters, and the old focuses become peripheral. Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami's intense rivalry was the main focus of 'KOF '95-'97, but with that matter settled, Kyo became a secondary character. In some games, he was put in only to appease fans. For the record: '95-'97 was Kyo and Iori, '99-2001 was K' and Kula, 2003 to XIII were Ash Crimson, and XIV is Shun'ei.
    • '94. The big story for that one was the dream matchup between the Fatal Fury Team (Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi) and Art of Fighting Team (Ryo Sakazaki, Robert Garcia, Takuma Sakazaki), made very clear by title sequence and every victory comment each member delivers to the other team. Today, not only do most KOF players probably not even know what games they're from, Takuma has been thrust into the sidelines occasionally (with Yuri taking his spot in the AOF Team), Andy has been reduced to an occasional bit player, and Joe and Robert are tenuously clinging to trusty sidekick status.
    • In fact '99 wasn't even supposed to have Kyo and Iori, but fan demand caused the first chapter of the NESTS Saga to hinge on Kyo clones being mass-produced and the two of them becoming secret characters (with the in-story justification being that Kyo mysteriously vanished after defeating Orochi, and Iori followed suit just to track him downnote ). When that wasn't enough for test audiences, the producers went and added two of the aforementioned Kyo clones in the game, both still wearing Kyo's school uniform and with his old movesets.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series:
  • Dekar from the Lufia games tends to steal the show whenever he's in the party, by virtue of doing or saying something Crazy Awesome, Crazy Stupid, or some combination of the two. In the remake of Lufia II, he even gets to do one of the game's most famous scenes, originally done by Guy...which ends up even more hilarious coming from Dekar.
  • Liara T'Soni gets a much more noticeable amount of screen time in Mass Effect 3 than any other character in the game by being mandatory in three missions, having more cutscenes than any other character, being directly involved in From Ashes DLC and potentially the person with the last line in the entire game if the "Refusal" ending is chosen.
  • Zero of Mega Man X started stealing the spotlight in X4 then completely took over the plot in X5 and X6. Keiji Inafune, the creator of the series, actually wanted to end the main series at X5 primarily so he could get to work on the new Mega Man Zero series. (Executive Meddling prevailed, with questionable results.) Once Inafune moved on, Axl actually stole the spotlight from the other two characters in X7, and to a lesser degree in X8.
  • Mortal Kombat spends a great deal of the storyline focus on rivals Scorpion and Sub-Zero. But, as they're the headliners for the games, they're the ones who got the most attention; many of the characters seemed to be designed solely as one-off characters (like Stryker), or that the others underwent ridiculous plot changes to try and make them viable again (Raiden becoming evil, Liu Kang dying, etc.).
    • Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei in general are a Spotlight-Stealing Squad all their own, what with the Lin Kuei trying to kill Sub-Zero in MK3 with three killer cyborg ninjas (one of whom was once his old friend Smoke), Noob Saibot turning out to be the elder (evil) Sub-Zero Back from the Dead, Frost taking him on as a mentor in the later games, and Scorpion relentlessly pursuing him (at least until one of the later games' Big Bads was revealed to be the one who murdered Scorpion's family).
    • Sub-Zero got a platformer named Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, in which Scorpion appears as an antagonist and most of the other characters were those that debuted in MK4.
  • Namco × Capcom was originally conceived with just Namco characters; Capcom was brought into the picture later, and it shows. They did a good job integrating the Capcom characters into the plot, but most of the important plot points are still from the Namco side of things; the Capcom characters are just sort of... there.
  • Pokémon:
  • The Raving Rabbids of the Rayman series have commandeered the franchise to the point it's branched off into two series; actual Rayman platforming games and a series of minigame collections starring them. They were also guest fighters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up and received a crossover with Super Mario Bros. in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Prior to the branching of the series, they had been increasingly stealing the spotlight from Rayman, with the second Rabbids game featuring him wearing a Rabbid outfit for the whole game, and finally with the third one removing him altogether. Even worse, the focus on them caused Rayman 4 to get cancelled and resulted in Rayman fans having to wait almost a decade for the next main game to come out. All of that, coupled with the fact that they caused the series to go through a dramatic Genre Shift (in fact, the Rabbids games are pretty much Rayman In Name Only), get casualized and lose quality (if critics and long time fans are to be believed), made them Scrappys among Rayman fans.
  • Much of the flak directed towards the Soda Poppers in Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police games was because they were overly focused upon throughout the first season, at the expense of other side characters. As a result, the second season was filled with anti-Poppers Fanservice, leading them to get Killed Off for Real.
  • Silhouette Mirage revolves around a war between the strength-based Silhouettes and the intelligence-based Mirages. In practice, though, the Silhouettes are pretty much background flavor in the plot. There are mooks of both attributes, along with neutral-attribute Humongous Mecha... piloted by Mirages. There are Mirage bosses, and there are Silhouette bosses... who mostly work for the Mirages, if they aren't just random. And the dual-attribute Guardian Angel bosses who menace you throughout the game? Yep, they're Mirage creations.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog : Shadow the Hedgehog who has had the most plot focus of any character for a while. He even managed to star in his own game. Then, he and Silver took over Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), to the extent that you only play as the title character for about a third of the game, and he has far less plot connection to the Big Bad of the game than Shadow and Silver do. The series starting with Sonic Unleashed have stopped focusing on him so much.
  • Soulcalibur:
    • Even though its name is in the title from the second game on, the Soulcalibur itself barely matters. The sole element of the series that has any impact at all is Soul Edge. Of course, Soul Edge is the title of the first game, and would have been the series title if not for trademark issues.
    • The ad campaign(s) for Soulcalibur 2 led many people who believed them to be surprised when they found out that Link, Heihachi, and Spawn were actually not the only playable characters. Hard to say which ad campaigns were the worst at only showing Link, Spawn, or Heihachi.
      • Each of them also appears quite prominently on the cover of their respective version's box, despite having no role in the canon story.
      • In hindsight, Soulcalibur 2 pretty much created a trend still present in the series now, where majority of the marketing campaign for each subsequent game has focused more on the guest characters (Star Wars characters in SCIV, Ezio in SCV, Kratos in Broken Destiny), while the Soul Edge saga and the continuing stories of the recurring characters have seemingly fallen on the wayside
    • From the look of the box art of Soul Blade, you wouldn't really think much of the blond haired guy right? Well, that guy is Siegfried Schtauffen, who has effectively become the main character since SoulCalibur 1 despite not owning the titular sword until IV. He's the only character to own both Soul Edge and Soul Calibur at different points in the series becoming BOTH the Big Bad and The Hero. You can even see how important he became over time by comparing his original concept art and his artwork in IV. Of course, this ended up making him a likable character.
    • To be more specific: the original Soul Edge had no central protagonist, but Sophitia and Siegfried are arguably the most prominent because the former destroys one half of Soul Edge, while the latter becomes the Big Bad under its power. Soul Calibur had Xianghua as its protagonist, as per Word of God (she originally wielded the holy sword before Siegfried did). II once again had no protagonist, though it did promote several new characters as being of great importance, but Siegfried, as Nightmare, is starting to steal the spotlight. By III, he's the full-blown protagonist.
  • In the Super Robot Wars Original Generation sub-series of Super Robot Wars, Kyosuke Nanbu, and to a lesser extent, his girlfriend Excellen Browning. The first Original Generation game's almost considered Super Robot Wars Alpha, with extra originals and no other series characters, but other than those who appeared in Alpha (Masaki Andoh included), Kyosuke's included and he becomes one of the main protagonists. He certainly isn't meant to be the main character of the first game (since the second half of his story enters Canon Discontinuity), but the sequel promotes him to full-blown protagonist in a more ridiculous manner, by having his and Excellen's Super Robot Wars Compact 2/Impact story taking center stage, while conceiving Evil Twin Beowulf, with links him to the Super Robot Wars Advance plot indirectly, as it makes Kyo The Rival to Axel Almer, even though Axel's appropriate rival is supposedly Lamia Loveless (did we mention Compact 2/Impact plot's the only plot thus far that makes his relationship with Excellen very vital to the story?) Not spotlight stealing enough?
    • Additionally, Kyosuke owes much of the spotlight to Wolverine Publicity: excluding Masou Kishin-centric titles, any Original Generation-based game (including its Gaiden Games) will have either Kyosuke, his Expy or any variant of his Humongous Mecha Alt Eisen displayed on the game cover.
    • In Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden can be easily called Super Robot Wars Tetsuya Gaiden, thanks to more than half of the stages revolves around Tetsuya, his insanely high availability, and according to side materials, unknowingly plays a huge role inside the Big Bad's plan. Even worse since while Kyosuke is an original character, he's not.
    • For a more meta example, ever since Super Robot Wars L, expect Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Dancougar Nova, and Macross Frontier to appear in almost all of the recent Super Robot Wars games. The first game, barring the Classic timeline and the Super Robot Wars Alpha series, where all three series were absent was Super Robot Wars X in 2018.
    • One common complaint about the Super Robot Wars V story is that Yamato 2199 takes up way, way too much of the plot. Not only are almost all early and late stages entirely based on Yamato episodes, it also has nearly an entire universe to itself (the only other copyright series in the NCC world is Crossbone, and even that is pretty much folded into the Yamato plot). This has the unfortunate side effect of completely overshadowing other interesting plots, such as the wildly different from canon storyline of Gundam Unicorn.
  • Some say there's the Kirby series in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, to a degree. Interestingly, this is an attempt to make up for the lack of attention Sakurai gave to his own franchise in Melee (only Kirby made it in, compared to five Mario characters and four Pokemon ones, and Dedede was the first out of the roster when it exceeded the maximum number of characters). As for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, both the Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem series manage to steal all the attention, mainly due to Sakurai also working on the latest installment at the time of the former series and the latter series having almost as many playable representatives as the company's flagship Mario franchise and its subseries. The Kid Icarus representation was somewhat toned down in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, however.
  • This is a big complaint leveled at Reala in Tales of Destiny 2, especially endgame. Though to be fair to her, it's not so much her that dominates the plot as her relationship with Kyle that does. The problem is that other beloved characters get decreased screen time and plot relevance because of it, and many plot threads are rushed over in the process of avoiding red string strangling.
  • In Tales of Eternia, Rassius appears to be important and important enough for everyone to mourn his death and treat it as a major plot point. despite that the story put so much emphasis on him and Farah when he was in the party.
  • In Twinbee, the spotlight spends more time on Pastel than it does on other characters.
  • In World of Warcraft, this is a complaint about Thrall and his satellite love interest Aggra, stemming mostly from their completely unnecessary inclusion in Patch 4.2 (which was otherwise about Malfurion's Druids and the Firelands), and the Dragon Aspects and Twilight's Hammer insistence that without Thrall the world is doomed. It doesn't help that, as Thrall was previously the Orc faction leader, many Alliance players are sick of him getting the spotlight, while Horde players are upset he is now neutral. In 4.3, the entire Hour of Twilight dungeon is an Escort Mission for Thrall (and also includes the horrendously unimpressive "reveal" of essentially the Alliance's pope as a traitor, to further Alliance players' annoyance) and he plays a large part in the Dragon Soul raid, getting to wield the titular object, being presented as the Big Good, and ultimately getting to strike the killing blow; even though out of all the characters present he has the smallest connection to Deathwing and the Dragon Soul itself. The raid also concludes with him getting a Babies Ever After ending. By the time Cataclysm was over, even his fans were starting to get a little sick of him. In Warlords of Draenor, Thrall is the one to finally kill Garrosh, even though there's probably a dozen other major characters with good reason to want him dead. This also makes the ending of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid pointless, as Garrosh was only spared to begin with because "his punishment is not for [Thrall] alone to decide". So much for that.
    • Aggra herself, whose entire purpose was to basically be forced on Thrall as his love interest in order to sink the popular Thrall/Jaina ship, more or less stealing the interest of Thrall from Jaina.
    • Sylvanas Windrunner and Garrosh Hellscream also get a fair bit more screentime and Character Development than the other faction leaders do, though in their case it's not so much that players want to see less of them, they just want to see more of the others.
    • On the Alliance side, most of the story revolves around Varian Wrynn, his son Anduin, and Jaina Proudmoore, the three human faction leaders. While the other racial leaders do make the occasional cameo, those three are the only ones to get any significant Character Development. This has led to a complaint that humanity as a whole is an example in World of Warcraft.
      • Players have made fun of this - such as "I like this new Prophet Velen character they added in Warlords of Draenor". For reference, Velen is the racial leader of the Draenei, and the brother to Kil'jaeden. But if you forgot about the scene he played a role in Burning Crusade (at the end of a raid dungeon that most of the playerbase didn't get the chance to see until it became soloable) or joined later, you would be forgiven for taking that joke seriously, given how little screentime the Draenei really got until Warlords.
  • Ashley from WarioWare, hands down. Her popularity (particularly in Japan) has reached the point where she's overshadowing the other characters, including Wario himself.
  • Lampshaded by WWE 12 where Michael Cole was DLC. Fair enough as he was a big name at the time, except wave bye bye to Universe Mode unless you enjoy changing his several main event title matches on every card.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Dunmer (Dark Elves) became this as a race following Morrowind, which is set in their homeland. There are a number of factors at play, including their badass ashen skin/blood red eyes appearance, their Jack-of-All-Stats aptitude making them a versatile race to play as, their relatively unique and alien culture (compared to most of the other races which are largely either High Fantasy stereotypes [High Elves, Wood Elves, Orcs] or are clearly drawn almost directly from real life cultures [Imperials as Romans, Nords as Vikings, Redguards as Moorish Samurai, etc.]), the plentiful and extremely deep lore about them coming from fan favorite writer Michael Kirkbride, and numerous other factors. Regardless of the cause, the Dunmer became one of the most popular races in the ES community in subsequent games, and every later installment has included at least one (usually several) Dunmer-related plotlines. (In fact, while the main quest is primarily stand-alone, Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC otherwise serves as A Day in the Limelight episode for the state of the Dunmer people in the 4th Era.)
  • Ryuji from Persona 5 was an In-Universe example as well as a deconstruction before the events of the game, when he was The Ace of the school's track team. His success annoyed Kamoshida, who didn't like that the volleyball team he coached was losing attention because of the track team. Kamoshida then decided to spread rumors about Ryuji's home life, which pissed off Ryuji enough that he decided to punch Kamoshida. Kamoshida then broke Ryuji's leg, claiming it was self-defense, got the track team disbanded, and didn't face any consequences at the time.
  • A major complaint about Splatoon 2's story mode is that it focuses so much on Marie that Callie is practically treated as an afterthought in comparison. Even many Marie fans weren't happy.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories makes it appear like Shin is the 'True Route' of the game (actually, that would be Ukyo) and entire series because he gets featured prominently or even solely on the series' covers. Part of this might have to do with his being the Heart motif, and part of Ukyo having been a secret character. However, the latter only applies to the first game, as Ukyo is a well-known character in the other games.

    Web Animation 
  • Thanks to Strong Bad Emails being the most popular segment on the site, Strong Bad tends to appear in more Homestar Runner toons than the title character. This is even lampshaded when Strong Bad tells Homestar that no one comes to site to see Homestar. For the 200th sbemail, however, it was revealed that Homestar had been running his own "hremail" show behind Strong Bad's back, and Homestar briefly took over the email show.

    Web Comics 
  • Achewood:
    • The comic used to focus on Teodor, Philipp, Cornelius and Lyle living in the Onstad house, with a fairly large and diverse supporting cast. Now the strip focuses mostly on Roast Beef and to a lesser extent Ray.
    • It used to be the other way around, with Ray getting most of the spotlight and Roast Beef as first runner-up. Lampshaded here, where an "Achewood generator" lists five or six different possibilities for a strip's subject matter, supporting cast, plot elements, etc, but the only option for "Primary Character" is Ray.
  • Cheer! may have a four-girl main cast, but Alex and Lita have been focused on so much that the other two (Jo and Sam) fall by the wayside.
  • Concession has managed to shift the focus more towards characters who had little to do with the movie theatre and more with about Joel's ambitions and college life rather than stupid customers and the stuff at the concession stand... admittedly Immelmann knew of this, and has actually put an arc that takes place at the concession stand back in, while still putting emphasis on Joel's revenge scheme as well. He also admits that most characters won't get arcs, and even made fun of it a few time. (It even says so in the "About" section to show you how aware of the spotlight stealing Plot Tumor)
  • In Homestuck, Vriska Serket is an intentional example (her character class title is literally the Thief of Light). She's not one of the initial trolls introduced, but she quickly gains more panel time and becomes very important to the plot. It's actually part of her personality to force herself into the story; she even thinks she's the one who is going to kill the Disc-One Final Boss, and later the Big Bad.
    • The trolls in general. The series is about four kids playing a game. Then a few trolls pop up and start having conversations with the kids in Act 3. Then they have more conversations in Act 4. The first subact of Act 5 is solely about the troll's group and the narrative keeps going back to them even after that.
  • N Fans The Series, a comic that actually played the Self Insert cast rather well was rather notorious for this, consisting mostly of Webster Swenson and Pchan (Both the main author and the best friend OF said main author respectively). This wasn't as apparent in the comic's early days (Even when the cast consisted only of about 6 people), but when the cast expanded to have Loads and Loads of Characters, it became highly evident that at least half of the cast was going to be just shown as being in a crowd or fall almost completely to the wayside in favour of Webster Swenson and Pchan.
    • Team Lalala was literally standing in the exact same place for about a year, while the plot fixated on Webster Swenson and Pchan, with occasional sidestories about tech support or the other teams. At least half the cast was Put on a Bus.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen and Nanase can veer here pretty often. They get most of the more eventful plots, and while other characters tend to slide to the background during given storylines the two of them have played a major role in every multi-chapter story to date, arguably the central role in everything but the original Sister. Even then, its climax and falling act revolved around the two of them. The most egregious case is Painted Black, which centered around Elliot being kidnapped and Grace's backstory coming out and they still likely got over half the screen time. The two are also used front and center in a disproportionately large amount of fillers in relation to the rest of the cast.
    • The storylines have exploded in length. According to the once-kept stats page, Elliot and Grace are still far and above in the most strips and central characters in the most storylines, but you'd never know because you've spent the last four or so years in Tedd's living room and the girl's bathroom at school. And of course, out of those last four years, we've gotten eighteen month's worth of actual comic.
    • After the Ellen/Nanase arc ended, Dan took his fandom's advice and is keeping them very much in the background, focusing on the characters he's been neglecting. It helps that one of the most interesting parts of Nanase's character, her magic, has been lost for a few months AND Elliot has enough to keep the fans happy.
  • While the author of Skin Deep has stated that it was about everyone and not just Michelle, the comic arcs since 2009 have pretty much seemingly aborted the arc that was being built up in the comic's early days, since now it's pretty much randomness and transformation in England. However; as of late 2011, the focus has gone back to Michelle.
  • Checking the Bios page of The Foxfire Chronicles would make one quite confused as to the current story arc. Not only does the current arc take place in an entirely different setting with only one of the cast members shown on the page (With maybe another who shows up for a little while) having any role, but back when the other cast members did show up, the focus was almost entirely on Luke with Liegh and Mary maybe getting a few lines or focus every now and then. And General William Orville, the supposed antagonist, seems to have been Put on a Bus in the meantime... along with the other four supposed main characters. And once more, it doesn't help that we're lucky to get even two comics a month nowadays.
  • In Triangle and Robert, not only are the Sentries spotlight-stealers, and not only do the title characters start pointing it out around year 4, but due to the nature of the strip, they can make actual efforts to distract the cartoonist and keep the Sentries off-panel. This sometimes works, though never for too long. (It can also backfire: at one point the Sentries are gone for quite a while, and when they return, each one has to take a couple of weeks explaining the plot-important stuff he's been up to.)
  • Jordan and Bush from Exploitation Now. The author even lampshades it in the comic with the former two characters who started the series.
  • Looking for Group. Richard tends to steal the show whenever he is on panel, even if it's just one small line. The authors have claimed they could rename the comic "Richard Kills Stuff" and double the readerbase.
  • Intentionally averted with Hannelore and Marigold in Questionable Content. Jeph once noted that he has to work very hard to not turn the comic into "Bad Things Happen to Hanners and Marigold Daily".
  • Xanthe/"Trike Girl" from Sinfest, starting around September of 2011, has quickly taken over the strip - either she herself or the effects of her actions.
  • Chris from Sonichu started as a background character playing the role of (somehow) both Sonichu's biological father and his creator. He quickly became the hero of the story, shoving Sonichu into the background. However, in response to feedback from his "fans", he wrote himself out of the story to focus on Sonichu again, but then brought himself back. The final issue of the comic doesn't feature Chris at all, but the trope goes to Sonichu's children instead.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: As the different universes were progressively being revealed, there was surprise, but not an agreement about the unofficial name for U3 (such as U13 being "the Super Saiyans universe"). That is, until Bardock appeared. U3 is now essentially "Bardock's universe with those two guys from the OVAs".
  • Sticky Dilly Buns was apparently created as a spinoff from Ménage à 3 because the creators liked the character of Dillon O'Brien and didn't feel able to do enough with him in a comic where he was a somewhat fan-disliked supporting character to the titular trio. So they made him the title character and turned the spotlight on the apartment which he shared with ex-porn star Amber Larose, giving him a chance to shine. But then Amber's potentially Annoying Younger Sibling, the short-tempered Ingenue/Nerd Ruby Larose, came through the door in a Dangerously Short Skirt, and single-handedly stole the spotlight for many, many subsequent strips.

    Web Original 
  • In an odd way, the Achievement Hunter portion of Rooster Teeth has become this for the company. Some people will easily recognize the likes of Geoff, Jack, Gavin and the like, but will be hard pressed to recognize someone like Burnie or Gus, unless they recognize their voices from Red vs. Blue.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • Ever since his introduction, Bowser Junior has been taking over other characters in first place, including Mario himself. Come 2014, Joseph and Cody are introduced and become main characters as well.
    • Meanwhile, Mario's friends are recently becoming dropped in favor of Jeffy. In fact, Shrek has not appeared since "Mario's Hobo Problem!" and Black Yoshi did not appear since "The Purge!" yet came back in "Black Yoshi's Blank Check!", a span of two months and nine days total.
  • The Mark Remark: Refers to shows as "The John Cena Show." The lesser stars are even called "Not-John Cena."
  • What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?: Nash and Tara have joked that they could easily stop reading weird news stories and just spend a half-hour talking about their cats: Nash's Grady and Tara's Bridget (technically her brother's cat) and Miracle, or more recently, Peggy and Dottie.
  • In-Universe with Daisy Brown. In "Hateful Thoughts" it's revealed that Daisy views Alan as this. In reality it appears to be the other way around, as fans seem to like Daisy much more than Alan, who used to be the focus of the series.
  • SMG4's Mario Bloopers has Fishy Boopkins the Spike, Bob the Garo, and Meggy the Inkling, and subsequently, any character introduced after such as Shroomy, Saiko, and Tari. They cause the older characters like Steve, Old Man Hobo, the Teletubbies, Peach, and even Glitchy himself to be Out of Focus.
  • In-Universe, Sam the mail-man becomes one on The Cry of Mann and the parody after-show "Tanking Mann". He gave himself an unscripted monologue on Cry Of Mann just knowing that the cast couldn't stop him, and forced himself on "Tanking Mann" episodes, even when not booked, just to talk more about himself.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • The Chipettes have gotten more and more screentime overtime, to the point where the last episode Ruby-Spears (the first showrunning company, followed by DiC) had produced for the series doesn't have Dave or the Chipmunks themselves in it.
  • Starting as walk-ons in an episode of Space Ghost, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force stole the spotlight so thoroughly the episode wasn't aired until well after they gained their own show, purely based off the initial appearance.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Varrick gets an incredibly large number of screen-time come book 4. With a handful of small cameos in book 3, for the final season he took center-stage and it is noticeable. Many fans agree that as entertaining and funny as a character he is, the fact he got more focus, development and screen-time compared to characters such as Mako or Asami (who are two of the main characters) is a bit overbearing considering that it is the final season of the show.
    • Korra has a recurring problem with this trope due to having a huge ensemble cast with plenty of darkhorses. Season 1 Lin Beifong become a fan favorite and was heavily focused on, getting a huge amount of the A Plot. The beginning of Season 2 focused on Tonraq and the second part developed Jinora. Season 4 might as well be called the Suyin and Beifongs show due to their heavy focus.
  • Max Gibson in Batman Beyond. As Terry's Secret Keeper, she is involved in both his civilian and superhero lives; as a consequence, she takes the screentime of both of Terry's supporting casts. It's most noticeable with the decreasing prominence of Terry's family and Dana, his girlfriend, in the later seasons, and the number of episodes that barely feature Bruce Wayne or leave him out completely.
  • According to Word of God, this was the reason Ben 10: Omniverse had Ben's alien form Jetray removed and his teammates Gwen and Kevin Demoted to Extra: the former, due to being the second most regularly used alien form, was considered as stealing screentime to other alien forms, and the others were considered as taking too much focus of the show when the writers wanted to focus on Ben himself. A lot of fans have been quick to point out the fact that in the end, Ben's new partner in Omniverse, Rook, ended up actually stealing even more Ben's screentime than Gwen and Kevin ever did, and the one alien who actually appeared the most, Humungousaur, still appeared several times in Omniverse.
  • A lot of episodes of Beverly Hills Teens are focused on Bianca (the resident Alpha Bitch), to the point that some sources list her as the main character.
  • Because of the Care Bears being the result of a greeting card and Merchandise-Driven, you can count on one hand the number of episodes that haven't been centered on either the bears who actually wore clothes or Brave Heart Lion. And you can count on one hand how many times Loyal Heart Dog even spoke, let alone had his own episode.
  • Elise in Dan Vs. could be considered this by many fans of the show since by the second season, most of the episodes focused more on her, thus distracting the main plot of Dan's revenge schemes with Chris tagging along in the adventure, and a lot of Dan's schemes are solved by Elise herself, causing an unfortunate case of Deus ex Machina on Elise's part, which is why the fans considered it a Seasonal Rot. This seemed to die down a bit by the third season though.
  • The Dreamstone was initially designed with Rufus as the main protagonist, with early concept work using the Urpneys as more minor comic relief. In the pilot episode, the Urpneys are upgraded greatly and given individual personalities and spotlight, however Rufus is still played as the main hero and gets the majority of genuine Character Development. Following this he is diluted into a Hero Antagonist and the Urpneys act as the Villain Protagonists for most of the series. Even their boss Zordrak usually only appears in "bookend" appearances for each episode.
    • Seasons Three and Four downplayed the Villain Protagonist dynamic slightly, and started to even out the focus between Blob's squad and Rufus and Amberley. Zordrak and most other regulars such as the Wuts remained as Out of Focus as ever though.
  • DuckTales:
    • The second season of DuckTales (1987) introduced Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck, a clear Expy for the absent Donald Duck, who would go on to either star or co-star in almost every episode of the second season, causing many other previously prominent characters such as Launchpad McQuack and even to some extent Huey, Dewey and Louie to be moved Out of Focus. Only Scrooge himself remained as prominent as ever. Unlike other examples of this trope, though, Fenton is fairly popular with the fanbase, possibly thanks to his dual status as Butt-Monkey and Superhero.
  • GIR in his puppy suit from Invader Zim has dominated the most attention, even more so than the title character himself, appearing in Hot Topics nationwide. The puppy suit in particular has almost completely eclipsed GIR's true robot form, even though the robot form had more actual screentime in the show. Like the example above, GIR is popular with the fanbase.
  • Since Season 7 onward, Denzel Crocker, Timmy's dad, Cosmo, and Foop from The Fairly OddParents! have more and more amount of screen-time in the series, ESPECIALLY the two former, in detriment of the main characters in the earlier seasons, like Chester, A.J., Tootie, Trixie Tang and Vicky, the latter of whom was the main antagonist for the majority of the series.
  • Family Guy may as well just be "The Brian and Stewie Show" in later seasons. Peter hasn't really suffered from it, but Chris and Lois have (whereas Meg's been Out of Focus for most of the show). More and more episodes are about Brian dating someone and the 150th episode special is completely about Brian and Stewie being trapped in a bank vault. In fact, said 150th episode was simply called "Brian and Stewie". They are the main characters of the 200th and 300th episode. Let's face it, it's all about them now. Not to mention the "Road To..." episodes, which focus on Brian and Stewie entirely. Another example of this would be the episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", where Peter flat-out states that this was a "Meg episode" and that he wouldn't blame the audience for changing the channel... the episode was actually more about Brian.
  • Bender from Futurama had dozens of episodes focusing on him, whereas characters like Leela and Zoidberg only had a handful.
    • In addition to that, almost every episode that didn't have him as the main character had him in a subplot, two of the movies had his name in the title (Bender's Big Score had more to do with Fry and Leela), and the two that didn't had very long subplots involving him.
    • Amy and Hermes are easily the most underused characters in the series. Season 6 tries to correct this by having one Hermes episode and two (!) Amy episodes. The catch? Both the Hermes and one of Amy's eps are centered on Bender.
    • Even happens in-universe. He gets a minor spot on "All My Circuits" and quickly steals the show.
  • Helga from Hey Arnold! appeared more and more as the show went on, and by the end she had more episodes dedicated to her than any character but the title character himself. (Even more so than Gerald, Arnold's best friend.) She also gets the lion's share of Character Development along with fellow Jerk with a Heart of Gold Harold, while Arnold himself became pretty flat and Out of Focus. Hell, her list of tropes on the character page was so long it had to be split off into a page of its own. Arnold eventually got one too, but Helga's is still longer.
  • Kaeloo might as well be called "The Mr. Cat Show". Pretty much everything revolves around what he's doing, and he is focused on even more than the show's protagonist, Kaeloo.
  • The The Land Before Time TV series reintroduces Chomper as a main character, who proceeds to hog the spotlight for most of the show. Most of the episodes center around him, and even in episodes that feature the return of other popular characters (such as Ali and Mo), Chomper still seems to get a B plot to focus on him.
  • The Looney Tunes shorts after 1964 (and until 1968) had Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales stealing the spotlight, with some appearances of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner on the side. The only other classic characters to appear during this era were Porky Pig, Sylvester, Granny, and oddly enough, Witch Hazel and the Goofy Gophers (Mac and Tosh), most of which only made one or two appearances. Yes, Bugs Bunny shockingly made no appearances during this era.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends episodes switched protagonists every few episodes, but it still had a few members who appeared often. Among them were Fizzy, Lickety Split, Surprise, Gusty, and Wind Whistler. In a Merchandise-Driven series with 100+ characters this is reasonably apparent.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • During season 6, most episodes where Starlight Glimmer showed up ended revolving around her and she has been featured prominently in all the season premieres/finales since her introduction, even supplanting the Mane Six entirely during the Season Six finale. note . She even manages to play a critical role in the third animated special of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Magical Movie Night, "Mirror Magic", where she controversially steps over resident series focal point Sunset Shimmer. Season 8 largely bucked this trend, giving her only two focus episodes and even a number of Take Thats in episodes like The Mean 6 and Father Knows Beast, and she was almost entirely absent in the Season 9 premiere save for two brief scenes.
    • That said, seasons 8 and 9 have largely demoted Starlight to extra to make room for a new literal squad, the Young Six. A group of students at Twilight Sparkle's new school who collectively took up a solid third of Season 8, including having prominent roles in both the premiere and finale, with no signs of slowing down for Season 9.
  • Mindy Melendez from Ready Jet Go! became this big time. She was created for the sole purpose of representing the younger members of the target audience, and she turned out to be highly successful and popular with the show's fans. Even though she received equal screen-time to the other characters in Season 1, by the time Season 2 premiered, most of PBS' marketing revolved around her specifically, and she takes up the majority of the screen-time in any episode she's in, often playing a big role of some sort (such as advising Jet to use the battery in "Racing on Sunshine"), all because of how much she resonated with the kids watching at home. This is despite the fact that Mindy is a Flat Character with not that much personality traits, and her constant focus has swept other characters who are more interesting than her such as Sydney, Carrot and Celery, Face 9000, Dr. Rafferty, Dr. Bergs, Mitchell, Lillian, and even Uncle Zucchini to the wayside.
  • Muscle Man from Regular Show slowly became this. Almost every episode in season 4 featured him in a major way. He also appears in almost every preview for an episode, even if it did not feature him majorly. What's worse, his partner High Five Ghost, had received no Day in the Limelight episode after Season 4 began.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lady Gaga in the Season 23 finale. Not only did she appear on screen before any Springfieldian, she actually got more screentime than the Simpson family. Naturally, this didn't endear her to any Simpsons fans who aren't Gaga fans.
  • In Sonic Sat AM, Princess Sally leaned more and more into center stage to the point only she and Sonic seemed to have involvement in the majority of missions. Antoine was also prominent comic relief, even gaining four half-sized episodes devoted to his slapstick role.
  • Randy Marsh and Butters Stotch of South Park became this as time went on. Cartman is as well, although that has been the case since day one (the first episode was entitled "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe".)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants might as well be called the Mr. Krabs vs. Plankton series featuring SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward due to the unhealthy amount of focus with them; most notably Mr. Krabs. It doesn't help that most of the recurring characters get less focus in favor of those two as the seasons pass by.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Acme Looniversity actually has a Spotlight Stealing class (taught by notorious Attention Whore Daffy Duck). Plucky, Hamton, and Elmyra must have done especially well, considering how much focus they got. Elmyra would later be shoehorned into Pinky and the Brain as well as Animaniacs; in the latter, she's called into a group counseling session with the Warner siblings. They con her into following Mindy. Yes, that Mindy. Buttons gets a day off.
  • Total Drama:
    • Duncan, Heather, and Owen have the highest episode counts out of all of the contestants in the series. All three of them have made it to the final five of the first season without returning, Duncan and Owen have also been some of the few contestants to return in the game. All three of them were also finalists, which means that in certain countries they were picked as the season's winner.
    • Gwen and Courtney also received a lot of focus throughout the series, especially when the Love Triangle between them and Duncan took center-stage in World Tour, and later, their ultimately failed attempt to reconcile in All-Stars.
    • Cody, who had not one but two subplots during World Tour, doubling his screentime.
    • In World Tour, newcomers Alejandro and Sierra receive a lot of focus, especially when they interact with any of the aforementioned Spotlight Stealers. It did not help when it became gradually obvious that Alejandro was Heather's long awaited canonical love interest, while also serving as the Big Bad of World Tour.
    • Zoey has had the most screentime of any second generation cast member, receiving ample focus in both Revenge of the Island and All-Stars. Her being in the spotlight is particularly strange in that she spends most of Revenge as a Satellite Love Interest and does not contribute anything to the plot of All-Stars until the very end of the season.
    • Scott is also one the more focused on second-gen contestants. It's justified in Revenge of the Island since he was the main antagonist of that season; however, in All-Stars, he only lasted as long as he did to serve as the season's main Chew Toy and to serve as a Satellite Love Interest for Courtney.
    • Cameron was also hit by this to a lesser extent, having been one of the main protagonists and ultimately a finalist in Revenge of the Island and later returning in All-Stars. Always a Love or Hate Character, there were just as many who enjoyed his focus in Revenge as there were those who hated it; it took a turn for the worst though in All-Stars as he becomes the new subject of Sierra's obsessions and dodges multiple eliminations, only to end up as dead weight for much of the season.
    • As of All-Stars Mike has also been hit with this status, with his multiple personalities receiving more spotlight than Mike himself (particularly villainous alter-ego Mal). His friendship with Cameron and relationship with Zoey also further exacerbates his Spotlight-Stealing status.
    • Shawn and Jasmine in Pahkitew have substantial focus throughout the season due to their Ship Tease with, the respective friendship with Dave and Samey. About Shawn, considering he's also a finalist, this makes him the overall the most focused on contestant in Pahkitew Island.
    • Sugar has made more enemies than any other contestant in Pahkitew Island, and is the most focused on antagonist this time round. As well as frequently stealing the show with gross-out gags in a manner similar to Owen.
    • Sky is also one of the more focused on third-gen contestants, due to her Unresolved Sexual Tension with Dave pre-merge and her rivalry with Sugar post-merge.
    • The Ice Dancers and Police Cadets in Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race. The first are the most focused on pairing, placing no worse than third in the first eight episodes, and they're the Big Bads of the first season.
    • Emma and Kitty also. They have had quite a lot of focus so far, especially on Emma's attitude towards Kitty, and that's before Emma's romantic plot with Noah.
  • Transformers: Prime has had two episodes devoted entirely to Arcee and Jack, with the other Autobots and kids not showing up for longer than a quick silent scene at the end. Much better than the other partners as Raf and Bumblebee only had focus in one episode so far, and they had to compete with a B plot with the other bots stopping Starscream. Miko and Bulkhead did a little better mostly due to Bulkheads rivalry with Breakdown but they still needed to compete for screentime with other characters. Ratchet meanwhile barely leaves the base, while Optimus Prime himself usually just shows up at the end to kick ass. If they aren't absent entirely. Meanwhile Arcee is the only character to be in every single episode so far. This is refreshing however, since generally female Transformers are minor characters that don't do much.
  • For a show called Wolverine and the X-Men, Nightcrawler gets way more focus than anyone else (other than Wolverine, of course).
  • Young Justice:

    Real Life 
  • Sarah Palin: She started out as just a potential vice-president and now a lot of people seem obsessed with her for some reason. A surprising number of people even have trouble remembering whose running mate she originally was. At times it felt like the GOP ticket was Palin/McCain.
    • Because they made memorable quips during their respective Vice-Presidential debates, Lloyd "You're no Jack Kennedy" Bentsen in 1988 and James "Who am I? Why am I here?" Stockdale in 1992 are better-remembered now than their respective top-of-the-ticket running mates, Michael Dukakis and Ross Perot.
  • Comedian Jeff Dunham allows Achmed the Dead Terrorist to be the focus of almost all of his shows. The Christmas Special may as well have been called the "Achmed the Dead Terrorist show, guest starring Jeff Dunham & Other personalities".
    • One special expands Achmed's role even further (both solo and with his half-dead long-lost son.) He takes up roughly 60% of the show, forcing Peanut and Jose Jalapeno-on-a-stick to be introduced at the same time to make room. If anything, the puppets like Melvin and Sweet Daddy D managed to suffer this the most; even Bubba because in a 2010 performance, the audience knew his routine better than Jeff did. Bubba didn't let Jeff get away with it, though....
  • Even in death, Michael Jackson managed to be a one-man Spotlight Stealing Squad. If you saw the news at all during the summer months of 2009, chances are, it was about Michael Jackson. In comparison, very little attention was given to other celebrity deaths during the same month such as Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett (who passed just before Michael), Billy Mays, and David Carradine.
    • Bonus points for being the top story overshadowing the military coup in Honduras.
    • Hell, he was an SSS to the Iranian election protests.
    • OJ Simpson and Britney Spears managed to hijack the media for awhile. A FoxTrot strip actually shows the OJ Simpson trial on every channel as a Take That! to the news.
  • Any celebrity, whether they've died, punched a paparazzo, driven drunk, or just gone to the park with their kids, will dominate the news for no less than 48 hours on average.
    • Unless, as shown above, a 'bigger' celebrity dies, then those 'lesser' celebrities will get an occasional mention during the non-stop coverage of the 'bigger' celebrity's death. Some might not even realize that those 'lesser' celebrities are dead for at least a month or two.
  • Some shows turn themselves into a SSS. One example is Nancy Grace. She tends to make multiple shows on one single topic. When Natalee Holloway was kidnapped, time seemed to stand still.
  • The main point of Missing White Woman Syndrome, which is when news stations will only cover stories about missing/killed white women as opposed to other people who may be missing at the same time. Even if the person they are covering isn't white, usually it's a very beautiful young woman. The most known example is Jon Benét Ramsey, who was killed about 2 decades ago and still shows up in the news sometimes.
    Peter: It'll be even sadder than the media gets when a cute white girl dies.
    (begin cutaway of an over turned school bus, a policeman addresses news reporters)
    Policeman: I'm afraid not everyone survived the crash, 9 year old Becky Gunderson—
    News Reporters: (sad) Awwww.
    Policeman: Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's Becky Gutierez.
    News Reporters: (disappointed) Awww, that's not news!
  • World War II has long since taken the spotlight of World War I in world history. The most notable reasons for this include its larger scale and consequences (more countries were involved meaning a greater scale of death and destruction and the resulting Cold War had a much larger effect on the global balance of power than World War I did), film evolving more during that era meaning more civilians were exposed to what was going on, and that more veterans of World War II are alive today than from World War I (In fact, there are none left; The last veteran left - Florence Green, who served as a waitress for Women's Royal Air Force - died February 4, 2012).
    • The two wars also have very different narratives attached to them in modern times. World War II is largely remembered as a war of Good Versus Evil, with the heroic defenders of democracy battling the evil fascists of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. World War I, however, tends to be viewed much more as a Grey and Gray Morality power struggle between glory-seeking empires. There's a lot more historical nuance, of course, but this is how the wars tend to be remembered in popular culture.
    • Very much in play for Czarist Russia: the revolution basically erased Russia's WWI battles from history, even in Russia itself (there doesn't seem to be so much as a single museum). Most people, hell, most history buffs can't even name (or even describe!) a single battle Russia fought with Germany; they can almost always describe the Battle of the Somme, Jutland, and/or the Battle of Verdun. Thus, all the attention is on the Western Front, despite the fact that Russia (along with Austria) was the initial Great Power belligerent.note 
      • It didn't help that Russia essentially lost an entire generation from the bloodshed of WWI, thanks to their incompetent generals and underequipped army.
    • Consider that WWI had a bigger impact on the global map (ended five major empires), higher casualty rates per mobilized troops (10% to WWII's 4%), and was renown for the horrific battlefield combat, even considering that all war is devastating and gruesome. But WWI's chemical weapons use, heavy artillery bombings (Verdun's landscape is still significantly altered from that 9-month battle, and the term "shell-shock" entered the lexicon due to the belief at the time that blast waves from artillery impacts had caused it) and futile battlefield tactics that had not caught up to the modernized weapons for the time. WWI has been considered arguably the worst war in world history in terms of how atrocious the combat was.
      • Interestingly enough, World War I itself has overshadowed nine conflicts that had even higher death tolls (World War II is now the #1 spot of course), although some of these were things like colonization of the Americas with no official declaration of war. Things like the Three Kingdom's War and Taiping Rebellion are forgotten to the layman.
    • Similarly, the Civil War has taken such a large place in US history that many people tend to ignore that the 150th Anniversary of many Civil War events overlap the 200th Anniversary of events in the War of 1812.
  • An actor who wins an award for Best Supporting Actor/Actress, especially if the leads were not awarded. An example could be Jennifer Hudson in regards to Dreamgirls one could joke "Hey did you know Beyonce was in Dreamgirls?"
    • Beyoncé herself, especially when she was in Destiny's Child but no one paid attention to the other girls. See music above.
  • The Pestigo Fire of October 8th, 1871 is -to this date- the largest and deadliest forest fire in American history. A Firestorm that engulfed more than a combined total of 5,000 square miles of the eastern part of Wisconsin and upper Michigan, including most of the peninsula near where Green Bay is now locatednote . Somewhere around 2,500 people died in the firestormnote . Yet this fire, and the Port Huron Fire that simultaneously happened in Michigan due to the same weather conditions on the same day, have been largely forgotten and overlooked by history.
    • Why? Because the Great Chicago Fire also happened on that same day, and because it is Chicago, a man-made fire that destroyed a sizable portion of the city and took 300 lives is much more interesting and important than the largest forest fire to ever happen in North America...
  • Napoleon Bonaparte managed to eclipse every other military and political figure involved in the Revolutionary and, well, The Napoleonic Wars (save perhaps for the Duke of Wellington), to the point that it's very easy to forget he owed his first major command to luck and connections, and he was practically unknown before 1796. He also takes up so much of the space dedicated to the first half of the 19th century in French school programmes that most students have trouble telling who and what came after him.
  • In the build up to the 2016 President election, popular business mogul Donald Trump became an example after he decided to run for top office for the Republican Party. He quickly overshadowed Jeb Bush, whom many assumed would become the front runner against Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Democratic side, who also got the stoplight stolen from her by Bernie Sanders, that was until the first Democratic debate where Clinton reminded people that she is still the person to beat, while Jeb Bush has lagged behind after each Republican debate until he suspended his campaign after the South Carolina Republican primary (only the third in the nation). A notable point of contention after he won the presidency was on how much the media focused on him rather than Hilary (who, besides her controversy surrounding her emails, received less air time and reporting). Whether this played a part in his victory is a question not to be asked or answered here.
  • Jokingly, humans are this in most fantasy works - it has been joked that if you read a science fiction or a fantasy work that features multiple races, big chance that the plot will revolve around human politics, the human characters, or their relations with other races - namely the humans' relations with them. See also Human-Focused Adaptation.
  • Several times during political conventions; someone speaking at the convention can end up overshadowing the party nominee if the party's nomination had not been determined; or alternately allowing a little-known politician to enter the national spotlight for the first time.
    • The first example of this was in the 1896 Democratic Convention; when little-known former Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech opposing the gold standard elevated him to the nomination (though he was eventually defeated by William McKinley).
    • Other instances included the 1956 Democratic convention when Senator John F. Kennedy made a gracious concession speech after being passed over for the Vice-Presidential spot on the ticket; former California Governor Ronald Reagan delivering his impromptu speech after losing his primary challenge to President Gerald Ford at the Republican convention in 1976note ; Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy's "The Dream Shall Never Die" speech after losing his primary challenge to President Jimmy Carter in 1980; New York Governor Mario Cuomo's keynote speech in 1984; Texas State Treasurernote  Ann Richard's humorous 1988 keynote speech with the famous "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth" line; conservative commentator Pat Buchanan'snote  oft-criticized "Culture War" speech; the 2004 address by Illinois State Senatornote  Barack Obama and the 2012 "empty chair" speech by Clint Eastwood.
  • Youngest female member of Congress in history + representing part of New York City + being an avowed socialist + being quite photogenic = Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting probably more coverage than the other 100 freshman members of the House of Representatives combined in the 116th Congress. While AOC, as she's colloquially known, is generally agreed to be really quite good at her job — particularly given her young age and lack of government experience — this trope results in her overshadowing other, equally stellar members of that freshman class.

Alternative Title(s): Spotlight Hog, Spotlight Stealing Character, Raving Rabbid Syndrome


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