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Spotlight-Stealing Squad

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"[A]s the series goes on and Sasuke tests better with audiences, Sasuke and his shitty family become the driving force behind the bulk of the plot. Everything becomes 'Uchiha' this and 'Sharingan' that — even though, last I checked, the show is still called Naruto."
Mother's Basement, Why Naruto Was Better Than You Think It Was

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 changes. An actor might give such a set of performances that they will dominate whatever scene they're in; the creator might have such a connection, conscious or unconscious, with a side character or group that he or she forgets that they have an incredibly diverse and powerful main 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.

NOTE: 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.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • During the 2000's Progressive car insurance company introduced a plucky woman agent named Flo, who loved to tell potential costumers about the benefits of having progressive. She became a mainstay in the commercials for many years. During the 2010s, the public was introduced to Flo's equally goofy work colleagues who would appear in the commercials with her from that point onward. During this time, one of the members known as Jamie (Jim Cashman) would eventually take over in popularity, slowly getting more lines during the commercials with Flo getting less. And as of the 2020s, most commercials feature Jamie with Flo being a background character with a couple of lines at most.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson 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."
  • Spider-Man frequently steals the spotlight from other heroes in almost every Marvel Crossover he appears in, despite being considered a "street level hero" at best. Though since Stan Lee stated that Spidey is Marvel's equivalent to Mickey Mouse his prominence is to be expected. Notably there are very few Marvel Team-Up Series books that don't contain the wall-crawler.
    • Secret Wars (1984) is a good example as, despite being surrounded by The Avengers and X-Men, Spider-Man still succeeds in stealing the show multiple times e.g Issue 3# where he makes Wolverine, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Rogue and Storm look like total amateurs. Not to mention the Curb-Stomp Battle he gave new villainess Titania, or when he gets the Alien Costume.
    • Civil War (2006) is more about Captain America and Iron Man's feud and the Super Registration Act, but the story heavily focuses on Spidey multiple times and his switch from Pro-Registration to Anti-Registration.
    • Avengers vs. X-Men mostly averts this as Spidey isn't a big player, until he starts mentoring Living MacGuffin Hope Summers and then has a Moment of Awesome pulling off a Last Stand against two of the Phoenix Five.
    • Like Batman below, Spider-Man in his debuting issue stole the show in The Amazing Adult Fantasy series. As the sales for issue 15# skyrocketed, Spidey was given his own comic thanks to sheer popularity.
  • Former Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) 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.
    • Once the Knuckles comic was retooled into a backup strip for the main Sonic title, Knuckles found himself becoming suddenly more and more important, to the point he was temporarily given the powers of a Reality Warper and was explicitly stated to have been the one to finally put an end to Eggman in the What If? ''Mobius: 25 Years Later" storyline.
    • Although Sally was essentially Demoted to Extra for a period in the comics in favour of her recently returned father, King Max.
    • Cases can also be made for Geoffrey St John and Mina Mongoose, both introduced to introduce more love triangles and be rivals for Sally and Sonic's affections.
    • For a period in the early to mid 2000's, Shadow. Multiple covers either featured him as the sole cover star (even when he was only a supporting character in the story), or hyping up yet another fight between Sonic and Shadow that either outright didn't happen in the issue or was a ridiculously minor event. He also seemed to appear simply for the story to say he was in it.
  • Justice League of America: In any given comic or run there’s very a good chance Batman is gonna steal the show away from his super-powered colleagues due to his sheer popularity and being Crazy-Prepared. The most famous case of this was the first JLA arc where most of The League have been captured by the White Martians while Batman was shot down in the Bat-Wing and assumed dead, but Batman then proceeds to take most of the Martians out by himself leading to the leader Protex getting infuriated and crying out that's "He's just one man" at which Superman assures him that his friend is one of the most dangerous men alive.
    • In Final Crisis, despite usually having little to do with the New Gods Batman is the one who finishes off Darkseid during the Final Battle in a Heroic Sacrifice before making a massive Time Travel based resurrection and return.
    • Other comics of course takes this Up to Eleven and shill Batman even more leading to some Power Creep, Power Seep. Dark Nights: Metal takes this to the logical conclusion as Batman and a dozen different versions of him steal the show away from every non-Batman related DC character.
    • To be fair, a lot of writers have strived to avert this or tone it this down with Batman, by giving Bruce more of a supportive role or giving equal focus to his fellow teammates especially Superman and Wonder Woman as the main DC trio.
    • Heck, Batman's been pulling this basically from the start of his comics career. Detective Comics started as an anthology featuring different characters, but once Batman debuted, he went on to take over the book as the years went on.
    • For the past decade or so, the only character who can seem to steal Batman's spotlight is John Constantine from Hellblazer. It is telling that, when the two appear together, it is often BATMAN serving as the sidekick to John.
  • Jericho of the Teen Titans. Nightwing's introduction is overshadowed by Jericho being introduced at the exact same moment.
  • Since the Turn of the Millennium, DC has made a habit of putting a single franchise in a position of prominence for about a decade and having most major events revolve around them.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): 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. Subverted in House of X as Emma and the Stepford Cuckoos take a major backseat and are sidelined throughout most of the events. She's still present but don't play any active role in the building of Krakoa or the fight against Mother Mold.
    • 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, X-Men: Messiah Complex. Since then, a lot of comics have focused heavily on Cyclops.
    • Gambit rivals Wolverine for spotlight stealing and has been doing it since the 90s. It's especially notable in Uncanny X-Men Issues 275-277 where, despite being new to the team at that point, he steals the show, fighting Gladiator and the Skrulls in spectacular fashion and even leads the X-Men at one point. Zig-zagged later as Gambit tends a have Moment of Awesome in any given event but he is rarely a major player. Gambit along with his wife Rogue have become breakout characters starring in their solo books such as Mr. and Mrs. X and Excalibur.
    • 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 only interacting with Jean a few times in the 80s. Played with more recently as Kitty is not present with the rest of the X-Men in HOX but she does become the "Red Queen" of Hellfire Trading Company in the Marauders comic meaning she's a Breakout Character too.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Flash:
    • 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).
    • Following Barry Allen's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West took up the mantle, and, despite starting out as a bit of a Replacement Scrappy managed to grow to equal and arguably surpass his mentor. As time went on the Flash franchise accumulated many more unique and interesting speedster characters such as Impulse, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick, along with a returning Jay Garrick, plus supporting characters such as Wally's wife and kids. When Barry was resurrected in Final Crisis, those characters were all pushed into the background in favour of the entire franchise becoming The Barry Allen Show. Barry has continued to be the main (often sole) focus of the series ever since, and for a time was pushed as not only the definitive Flash, but the only Flash as all other speedsters were retconned from existence.
  • 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 pandering, the reaction to this from fans was negative, as Snake doesn't have nearly as much reason to want Solidus dead as Raiden.
  • Star Trek (IDW): Notably averted. The comics have a lot more focus on secondary characters, many of whom get A Day in the Limelight or Took a Level in Badass moments that showcase their skills and value in the crew. This includes the Mauve Shirt Hendorff, Uhura (who is a serious Action Girl this time around), Sulu, Chekov, Science Officer 0718, Yeoman Zahra, Kai and Gaila.
  • Superman:
    • Superman himself is technically this; he famously debuted in the first issue of Action Comics, but many don't realize his was just one of many stories in an anthology book. He didn't even appear on the covers of the next few issues (though he still had stories in them) until fans complained and he came back to the cover full-time. Eventually, Action Comics dropped the anthology format altogether and just became a second Superman book along with his self-titled one, which it remains as to this day over 1000 issues later. The anthology format has had a few attempted revivals in the title over the years, but Superman-related characters generally remained the focus of those anthologies. The same thing happened with Batman and Detective Comics, as described above.
    • Through the 60's and 70's, Jax-Ur was the leader of the Phantom Zoners, Kryptonian criminals imprisoned in a pocket dimension, and General Dur-Zod was one of his henchmen. Superman II raised Zod's profile considerably, and the next story to feature the Zoners, The Phantom Zone, he was the band's leader; a position he has kept since then.
  • Teen Titans Academy: Red X, to the detriment of both the other students and the teachers. Most of the title's 15-issue run dealt more with Red X making fools of everyone and the mystery of who he was. This level of spotlight stealing turned him into The Scrappy and ultimately scuttled any future plans.
  • Ka-Zar: Kevin Plunder is the character just about everybody thinks of when they think of Ka-Zar and is the only Ka-Zar to be adapted into other mediums.

    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.
  • 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?" Eventually Brad got put on the receiving end of this as well, once he married Toni and ended their Will They or Won't They?. At that point his character development ground to a halt; now he and Toni exist mainly as an excuse to feature Toni's niece Shannon. Then, in 2015, it became "Bernice".
  • 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.
  • Peanuts:
    • Due to the comics long run and many changes from its original existence most of the cast fits this trope in one way or another.
      • Charlie Brown can be considered this, while he was one of the main characters from the get go it took a few months for him to be solidified as the focus character of the strip.
      • Lucy and Linus were both introduced a couple years into the run. Lucy almost immediately became the second most important character, and while Linus took a few years once he had aged enough he was just as important as his big sister by the end of the comics first decade.
      • Snoopy is the biggest example, he started off as the least important character in the original cast. While he was pretty important within a few years he was definitely supporting compared to Charlie Brown and even Linus and Lucy, but at the end of the sixties as he became a merchandising juggernaut he became more important than everyone else, gaining several major characters who were supporting to him. It wasn't until the late 80s where Charlie Brown started being the main character again, and even then it was always shared with Snoopy.
      • Rerun Van Pelt became this towards the end, by the final year he was appearing more frequently than anyone besides Charlie Brown and 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.

  • 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....

    Fan Works 
  • 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 Sueiful they are.
  • The Pokémon Squad: In later seasons, despite generally being better, there are some good examples in both the mansion and the Yaoi House:
  • 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 and its sequel Total Drama Battlegrounds. His World Tour Fix Fic TDWT Reducks Redux demotes the canon season's spotlight-stealers (Heather, Alejandro, Cody, and Sierra) in favour of instead giving the spotlight mainly to Ezekiel, Bridgette, Izzy, and Harold (ironically, all but Izzy were the first ones eliminated in the canon season).
  • 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".
  • Teen Wolf fandom and fanfiction focus so overwhelmingly on Stiles and Derek and pairing them up together that several people who watched the show after reading Stiles/Derek fic were shocked to learn that Scott, not Stiles or Derek, is the actual main character of the show and Stiles and Derek get relatively few interactions with each other compared to other characters.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ran into a small issue with how extremely prominent Zelda is. It was no surprise that she's so heavily focused on, as she is the titular character, but so many characters in so many situations constantly (and rightfully) praise her and call her important, yet Link wasn't given the same treatment. In the identically titled novelization Breath of the Wild, the author tried to avert this. The first way is by giving Link more equal spotlight-stealing power, since he now has his own character arc. The other way is through original arcs for supporting characters, specifically Impa, Paya, and the New Champions, who all get their moment to shine during the massive Yiga War.
  • Gravity Falls fanfiction tends to focus on Stan and his twin Ford instead of protagonists Dipper and Mabel. Justified both because much of their lives are Fanfic Fuel and because they’re adults, it’s easier to write Dark Fic.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire has a tremendous case of this with its supporting cast. The Hero Milo and the main Atlantean plotline with deuteragonist Kida are all well and good but the side characters Vinny, Audrey, Sweet, Mole, Packard, Cookie and Helga are so extremely interesting, fun and charismatic that they effortlessly steal the movie. It’s gotten to the point where a good amount of people watch Atlantis The Lost Empire purely for them. Even the directors themselves acknowledge how popular they are, as that sequel series based around them but the poor box office meant that idea was nixed.
  • 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.
  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge naturally gives this treatment to the titular ninja. Whilst Scorpion (along with Sub-Zero) has always been a fan favourite, his actual role in the games has never been domineering and initially was little more than a minor antagonist. In the animated movie Scorpion gets the main focus, instead of the original trio of Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, whom are given supporting roles. Scorpion even has more screen time than Sub-Zero his long-time nemesis. Not to mention he's the one who kills Goro, Quan-Chi and defeats Shang Tsung, stealing the victory away from the Earthrealm heroes.
  • The 2007 TMNT film focuses completely on Leonardo and Raphael, while Donatello and Michelangelo get barely any screen time.

    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.
  • A Fish Called Wanda has a fantastic and funny cast but as superb as John Cleese, Michael Palin (two Pythons) and Jamie Lee Curtis are there’s simply no denying Kevin Kline’s Otto steals, chews and owns every single scene he appears in. The fact he got a supporting actor Oscar over it only cements this.
  • 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.
  • In the Batman films one of the most notorious criticisms is that the Dark Knight is always outshone by his villains. This was particularly evident in the earlier Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher films (where they even got top billing most of the time).
    • In Batman (1989) the Joker iconically played by Jack Nicholson takes up much more of the movie’s runtime than Michael Keaton’s equally fantastic Batman having 39:40 (31.44%) of screentime compared to Keaton’s 34:50 (27.61%). Granted Nicholson was the far bigger star at the time so it made sense he’d get the bulk of the movie.
    • Batman Returns is a far worse case of this as despite Keaton’s Batman being the highest paid actor in the film, most of the movie is devoted to Danny DeVito’s Penguin and to a slightly lesser extent Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. In fact Bruce Wayne doesn’t even show up until 13 minutes into the film. Given Burton’s great Author Appeal towards “freaks” and “outcasts” it isn’t too surprising he gave more attention to the outlandishly gothic villains whilst Batman himself is demoted to just the Action Hero of the movie as there are only a handful scenes of him as Bruce Wayne with Alfred, Max Shreck and Selina.
    • In Batman Forever Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’s Two-Face take up the majority of the film’s runtime while Val Kilmer’s Bruce Wayne beyond the action scenes as Batman foiling the villains spends most of the rest of the film tied to Chase Meridian and Robin’s stories. Although the film does actually take some time to explore Batman’s character and trauma like the 1986 film, something Returns didn’t do.
    • Batman & Robin is by far the biggest case of this as between the villains Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), Robin and newcomer Batgirl, Batman barely has a fraction of the runtime to himself.
    • Averted completely in Batman Begins which mostly covers Bruce’s Training from Hell and his transformation into Batman. There’s only a few scenes with Scarecrow, Gordon and Rachel where Bruce isn’t present.
    • In The Dark Knight it’s hard to deny that Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker steals the show despite having only roughly 33 minutes screentime. In respect to his late co-star, Christian Bale claimed it was really Heath’s movie. Harvey Dent aka Two-Face played by Aaron Eckhart’s Fallen Hero plotline takes up a good deal of the movie as well.
    • Downplayed in The Dark Knight Rises Bane and Catwoman do have a lot of screentime but the film still focuses mainly on Bruce Wayne’s swan song as Batman with a large portion of the third act focusing on Bruce escaping a Hellhole Prison.
    • Averted in The Batman (2022) despite having both Penguin and Catwoman just like Returns and Riddler as the main antagonist for good measure, the film is still largely told from Bruce’s perspective, so the rogues gallery take a backseat. Although many viewers agree that Colin Farrell as Penguin pretty much steals every scene he’s in.
  • 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 from fans because of this and Wesley Snipes even sued, claiming they were whitewashing him out of his own film franchise. However, a myriad of rumours alleged that Wesley Snipes couldn't be bothered to show up on set most of the time, leaving his stunt double to perform in his place; if true, then it's not entirely surprising that Blade doesn't appear much.
  • Johnny Depp:
  • The X-Men Film Series has a particularly notorious case of this with Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto and in the Continuity Reboot Mystique.
    • Just like in a lot of the comics Wolverine is this for the first trilogy having more screentime than any other X-Man combined, plays a central role in all three films and in the first and third movies is the one saving the day by either being thrown at Magneto or one to Mercy Kill Dark Phoenix. This sadly leaves Cyclops, Storm and Rogue three of the most popular X-Men on the way side and with a lot of Adaptational Wimp (in comics and cartoons Wolverine gets Overshadowed by Awesome by Storm and Rogue, in the films however it’s completely the opposite on both accounts). Though Hugh Jackman’s masterful portrayal as Logan is so iconic and star-making, the majority of fans are generally forgiving.
    • Other than Wolvie, Charles and Erik aka Professor X and Magneto are pretty big cases of this having a massive amount of screentime across 12 of the 13 movies (even in The Wolverine which isn’t about them they appear in The Stinger). The reboot timeline, if anything gives Charles and Erik even more focus over other characters with the emotional core of X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix centred on them. While obliviously such treatment is expected when portrayed by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, it’s still unfair for the rest of the characters (particularly in Xavier’s case since the point of Charles in the comics is that as the Mentor Archetype he takes a backseat to the team).
    • Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence is this for the rebooted films starting with Days of Future Past, to the extent where she effectively takes Wolverine’s role of taking the other (already undersold in the previous continuity) X-Men’s limelight away. She even becomes The Leader of the team. It’s also a marked difference from how Rebecca Romjin’s Mystique was treated, as despite having good action and shapeshifting reveal scenes she was still never given big story focus nor involved in any plotlines that didn’t involve Magneto.
    • Quicksilver manages to be this in both Days of Future Past and Apocalypse with his Time Stands Still Super-Speed moments being considered the high points of both films. Heck some fans believe his set piece in Apocalypse is the best scene in the entire film.
  • Alice in the Resident Evil Film Series — 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. She also happens to be played by the director's wife.
  • In the Michael Bay Transformers Film Series, most people agree that it's more like Dawson's Creek guest-starring 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.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is centered around the World's Finest duo duking it out, but Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, despite having very little to do with the main plot, succeeds in stealing the show from the boys in the Final Battle against Doomsday. Unsurprisingly Wonder Woman became a Breakout Character with her solo movie.
    • Margot Robbie's Harley Queen steals practically the entirety of both Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey. The latter was supposed to be a Birds of Prey film but it is actually centered around Harley after she became the Breakout Character of Suicide Squad. Towards the end of its pandemic-shortened theatrical run, some chains were even advertising the film as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Some detractors went as far as to declare that the Birds became sidekicks in their own movie. Downplayed in The Suicide Squad while Harley does get a good chunk of the movie devoted to her, she notably doesn’t overshadow the other characters like in Birds of Prey nor does the plot centre around her.
    • In Justice League the plot revolves around Batman, Wonder, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg dealing with the Ancient Evil Steppenwolf. But towards the end of the movie Superman is brought Back from the Dead, and shows up the entire cast in Curb-Stomp Battle and then he comes back for the climax just to humiliate Steppenwolf.
      • Zack Snyder's Justice League curbs this by giving the entire League more to do in the climax, giving more personality to Steppenwolf and having Darkseid as major scene-stealer.
  • 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.
  • Mortal Kombat (2021) has Cole Young, whose personal life and character arc gets heavy focus while fan favourite characters such as Liu Kang, Sonya, Jax and Kung Lao are sidelined. Cole being a Canon Foreigner similar to the aforementioned Alice, who only was put into due to Executive Meddling mandating that there needed to be an Audience Surrogate character didn't help either. To a lesser extent Kano and his antics take up a lot of screen time, but since he provides a great deal of comic relief in the absence of Johnny Cage, the fans were more forgiving.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • While everybody has a moment in The Avengers it's still blatantly clear that Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk steal the show (especially in the Final Battle) away from poor Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye. The latter trio simply gets Overshadowed by Awesome mostly fighting Chitauri Mooks on the ground while the former trio take down Leviathans, wreck Big Bad Loki and Iron Man in particular has a Heroic Sacrifice at the end. Seeing this trope in effect, later movies would subvert this with Cap and Widow kicking plenty tons of ass in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and even Hawkeye being given greater focus in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
    • 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.
    • Captain America: Civil War has quite a few spotlight stealers, the main focus is still the conflict between Cap and Tony as well as Bucky. However thanks to the introduction of fan favorites Black Panther, Spider-Man as well as a Moment of Awesome from Giant-Man in the Airport Battle means the spotlight is unavoidably stolen from Cap and co.
    • Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets tons of screen time compared to the first movie and the story focuses on his Character Development and relationship with Peter and the Ravengers, as a result some of the titular Guardians get sidelined. Though to be fair it is Yondu's last movie.
    • Avengers: Infinity War runs into this issue again like in The Avengers, namely Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight Thanos in space, as well as Thor (who already Took a Level in Badass) powering up further by getting Stormbreaker, resulting in Cap's team and Wakandans on Earth get the short end of the stick in the conflict. One of the directors Anthony Russo even acknowledged Thor "would've stolen the whole movie" had he not failed to stop Thanos from snapping his fingers.
      • The Guardians in general get more screentime than some of the Avengers. They end up being split across three different plotlines (Star-Lord's team-up with Iron Man's group, Rocket and Groot helping Thor, and Gamora being kidnapped by Thanos), so at least one of them is onscreen for the vast majority of the film.
      • Thanos himself is essentially the Villain Protagonist of the movie, as he has more screentime than the Avengers and Guardians combined as well as driving the plot.
    • Avengers: Endgame turns it around as Cap gets some the coolest scenes in the movie, especially towards the end where he wields Mjolnir and briefly overpowers Thanos, not to mention the Wakandans, who are the first ones who come out of the portal. Thor, on the other hand, has had some Badass Decay in the five years and gets somewhat overshadowed by Cap, Captain Marvel and especially Tony, who has one last Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home:
      • Though the film has villains aplenty with a Rogues Gallery of five: Doc Ock, Green Goblin, The Lizard, Sandman and Electro. it’s undeniable that Willem Dafoe’s Goblin steals the show from the other villains Joker-style, being the real Arch-Enemy Big Bad of the film. Alfred Molina (Doc Ock) and Jamie Foxx (Electro) both gracefully accepted this however, with the latter even bowing in awe to Willem Dafoe on set.
      • On the heroes side while MCU Spidey does gets the majority of the screentime and Character Development his Alternate Self counterparts Tobey Maguire Spidey and Andrew Garfield Spidey do effortlessly steal a lot of the limelight. Although since their Power Trio chemistry works so well on screen and they help the “main” Peter’s story arc, there were hardly any complaints.
    • Despite getting a lot of screentime in his own film, many felt that the story doesn't revolve around Doctor Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as it seems more focused on America Chavez on the run from the Scarlet Witch as Doctor Strange only serving as her protector. Speaking of Scarlet Witch, many also felt that the movie is more of a direct continuation of WandaVision than a straight-up sequel to Doctor Strange (2016), as Wanda's motivation in the movie is all ties back to the events in that show.
  • 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".
  • Star Wars:
    • A planet example would be Tatooine which for a backwater world everyone in The 'Verse thinks is a worthless sandy rock — has appeared in six of the nine movies. It’s also been the setting for The Book of Boba Fett, a lot of Obi-Wan Kenobi and has appeared in The Mandalorian, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. This isn’t counting the numerous novels, comics and video games where Tatooine is either the main setting or visited at the very least. It has gotten more exposure than any other planet in Star Wars by a wide margin.
    • Darth Vader is another series wide example being the spotlight stealing character of the original trilogy and his handful of scenes in Rogue One (still voiced by James Earl Jones) are often more talked about the rest of the film. Anakin’s scenes as Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Star Wars Rebels are also considered and absolute highlights of the respective shows. Even Hayden Christensen admitted he enjoys playing Vader (more so than Anakin) and loves how excited people get over the character.
    • Han Solo as The Lancer and Lovable Rogue incarnate is often considered this for the original trilogy alongside Chewbacca with them stealing spotlight away from Luke and Leia. The Force Awakens continues this trend with Han and Chewy stealing the spotlight away from Rey and Finn.
    • A criticism of The Last Jedi is that Finn, Rose and DJ’s side adventure on Cantonica as well as Poe and Vice-Admiral Holdo’s plotline chewed up a lot of the movie’s runtime and took away from Rey’s training with Luke and Luke’s return in general - something that was a big part of the general marketing and promise of the previous film.
  • 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 Pink Panther (1963) was supposed to be about a charismatic diamond thief, but Peter Sellers pulled his role of bumbling idiot Inspector Clouseau so well, he became a star through this intended side role and so few people focus on the thief rather than Clouseau. So much so that all the following movies of the Pink Panther franchise focus on Inspector Clouseau, and never even mention the diamond called the Pink Panther.
  • Jason's Lyric was supposed to focus more on the title characters love story. However, the two brother, Jason and Joshua's, relationship compellingly dominates the plot.
  • Halloween Ends has Corey Cunningham stealing the spotlight from Michael Myers himself. Corey does the vast majority of the killing. We don't see much of Michael, until towards the end, when he kills Corey, re-taking his spot as the main antagonist.

  • 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. This 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.
  • Sandokan: Yanez had a role as big if not bigger than Sandokan from The King of the Sea to An Empire Crumbles, with The Brahman and An Empire Crumbles actually having him as the declared protagonist. Ironically, Yanez's Revenge is the novel in which Sandokan takes back the spotlight.

    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 Angel Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (having taken a meteoric rise in badassery since Buffy) manages to steal the show away from the titular vampire multiple times especially in the later seasons. Joss Whedon jokes to Alexis Denisof on the DVD commentary about dialing Wesley back since "Angel" is still the title of the show.
  • In the Beverly Hills, 90210 sequel, the focus of the show shifted from the Wilson family to Naomi somewhere between seasons 2 and 3.
  • The Big Bang Theory was originally meant to have Leonard Hofstadter as the show's main protagonist. However, his roommate, Sheldon Cooper, quickly became a fan favorite, so the show would often shift the focus to him instead in response. Due to this, it's been a subject of debate on which one between Leonard and Sheldon is the true protagonist.
  • 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.
  • In The Boys (2019), unlike the comic it's based on, the Supes, specifically The Seven, get the most screen time and largest focus of all the characters, even more than the actual protagonists, the titular boys themselves, who are often Overshadowed by Awesome or just play a stealthier role in the story due to lacking superpowers. This is mainly due to Adaptation Expansion allowing for the likes of Starlight, A-Train, Queen Maeve and Stormfront in Season 2 to be more fleshed out and complex characters compared to Garth Ennis's versions, where, save for Starlight and Maeve, they were generically evil. Homelander in particular (played by Antony Starr) steals every scene he appears in with very few complaints from the viewers.
  • The Book of Boba Fett had a Required Spinoff Crossover from the show that set it up, The Mandalorian. Whose attention was enough that two of the seven episodes of the first season were downright Mandalorian ones focusing only on Din Djarin.
  • 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, 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, introduced in the second season as an antagonist, barely appears in the third season, but became a series regular in fourth season. He gradually became one of the most popular characters on the show, helped immeasurably by James Marsters' performance - even the other actors on the show were clamouring to have scenes with him. It 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 canon comics thereafter.
  • Although Donkey Hodie is the main character of her series, Purple Panda gets many plots focused on him, being that he's Donkey's best friend.
  • Downton Abbey started as an ensemble piece, but due to a combination of factors 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 the same). 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.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier:
    • John Walker, the government-selected Captain America who becomes US Agent later. He steals the spotlight in many of the scenes he appears in and being an Evil Counterpart to Steve Rogers, fans found him an interesting Anti-Hero and more compelling villain than the actual antagonists Morgenthau and the Flag Smashers.
    • Baron Zemo completely steals the show in Episode 3 and manages to upstage even Sam and Bucky several times after. Zemo's Affably Evil Anti-Villain and Token Evil Teammate status also greatly helps, combined with the fact that he achieves his goal in the end like in Captain America: Civil War. Not to mention his dancing moment at the club.
  • 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 became 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. (Den-O's lead gets regularly possessed by one of the four - eventually five - friendly monsters, for fighting purposes or just so one of them can interact with the human cast not have people run screaming. To play Ryotaro is to play SIX characters with wildly different and bombastic personalities, and obviously, merely looking like Takeru Satoh doesn't mean you can do that.)
    • It helps that Momotaros is a "good monster" character played by a suit actor and a professional voice actor who frequently turns up in the series 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. Just by virtue of being the easiest Rider to bring back, you can bet he'll at least get to pop up and say a catchphrase or two in any major team-up.
  • Key & Peele has an in-universe example, in a sketch that pokes fun at how Family Matters shifted its focus from the Winslow family to Steve Urkel.
    Reginald VelJohnson: In a couple of weeks, Harriet, Eddie, Laura, Grandma, Aunt Rachel, Little Richie, and the other little kid are gonna get teleported to another dimension! And then Steve injects Carl with his own DNA, so Carl turns into another Steve Urkel! That's two Steve Urkels and no family ON A SHOW CALLED FAMILY MATTERS!
  • Lost:
    • Word of God says that Ben became this.
    • 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.
  • Played with in The Mandalorian despite having loads of amazing characters, Mando himself is such an awesome protagonist only a handful of characters can effectively steal limelight from him (three of whom are Jedi).
    • The first is obviously The Child Grogu. Being essentially an infant Yoda, he is such an Ridiculously Cute Critter that even people who haven't watched the series know full well who The Child is. There's several times where the story will cut to the little hijinks The Child gets up to and there's only a couple of episodes where he isn't prominent.
    • Greef Karga (played by Carl Weathers of Predator fame) and Action Girl Cara Dune are featured prominently throughout the first and second season and have almost as much limelight as Mando and The Child. Chapter 12 "The Siege" has entire segment where Mando leaves and Karga and Dune more than pick up the slack having entire gun fight and Chase Scene without The Hero to support them.
    • Ahsoka Tano in Chapter 13: "The Jedi" brought to life in live action by Rosario Dawson doubtless steals the entire episode, where she has much more screen time and focus than Mando despite having a minor role in the overall story. The episode is pretty much a love letter to the The Clone Wars and Rebels fans who have grown to love her character. Even the artwork during the credits mainly focuses on her.
    • Boba Fett, to the shock of nobody steals the show the moment he gets his armour back in Chapter: 14 "The Tragedy" showing far more badassery in live action than he ever did in the original trilogy. From then on he effectively acts The Lancer to Mando. Also being accurately played by Temuera Morrison certainly helps matters. Boba's sidekick Cold Sniper Fennec Shand steals some limelight herself and is confirmed to be appearing in a spinoff special alongside Fett.
    • In Chapter: 16 during the Final Battle and Darkest Hour, goddamn Luke Skywalker! Appears in a Big Damn Heroes moment and utterly steals the show during the last act as he plows through an army of Dark Troopers like a knife through butter. Some even suspect this was a bit of Author's Saving Throw and Character Rerailment over the controversial portrayal of Luke in The Last Jedi.
  • 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.
  • The main toy character of The Noddy Shop is Planet Pup, since he has a relationship with one of the human characters, Truman. However, the show will mostly center on Johnny Crawfish: he is given a Once per Episode segment where he tells a joke, and there's rarely any song on the show where he doesn't sing at least one verse. Also, Johnny got a non-canon music video to promote the show and he is listed before Planet Pup on the "Meet My New Friends" page of the 2000 Noddy annual. However, this is averted as far as episode plots go, as he has only one centric on him, "The Fish Story".
  • A common criticism of Obi-Wan Kenobi was that it was advertised to center around Kenobi's life prior to A New Hope, but instead a good chunk of screentime went to Inquisitor Reva alongside Imperial defector Tala Durith and the young Princess Leia.
  • Once Upon a Time became a little too enamored with its villains over time, 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.
  • One Tree Hill Haley and Nathan's son Jamie got hit with this big time in the later seasons with him getting his own dedicated subplots that many fans were annoyed with due to taking screentime away from the adults, not to mention Jamie came off as unrealistically smart and articulate for his age, with Nathan and Haley treating him more like a young adult then a kid(even letting him give a "Best man" speech at a wedding)many fans felt like his increased presence was a desperate boost for ratings.
  • 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.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • A few seasons after his introduction, Kryten usurps the expository role he previously shared with the ship's computer Holly, who Took a Level in Dumbass and was Demoted to Extra, before being written out for Red Dwarf VI/VII and again in the revival seasons. Word of God states that this was due to it being more practical for Kryten to be delivering the exposition due to the fact he was mobile and able to be involved with the action as the show became more adventure-focused than ship-focused, while Holly was a face on a screen and was therefore limited in how they could appear. Up to Eleven for the Red Dwarf VII season (and only this season), as the writers put a lot of focus on Kryten being jealous of new crewmember Kochanski, Lister's ex-girlfriend from an alternate dimension, due to trying to capture a similar dynamic to that of Lister and the recently-departed Rimmer.
    • To a lesser degree, The Cat, around the same time. He begins as essentially a supporting character and walking Funny Background Event to Rimmer and Lister's shenanigans, but evolves with the introduction of Kryten into Lister's partner in crime.
    • You can make a strong case for Rimmer being this across the entire series despite being a hologram of a dead man and Lister being the actual protagonist (although thanks to Chris Barrie's likability there's hardly any complaints about it). In every season Rimmer gets one, two or three episodes focused on him at minimum and he's a central figure in the Season 1, Season 6, Season 8, Season 10 and Season 12 finales. That's not even getting his Good Counterpart Ace Rimmer, who's a Spotlight Stealing Squad in his own right. Even in Red Dwarf: The Promised Land which concerns the Cat race, you'd think the story would be largely focused on Lister (the Messianic Archetype of their race) and Cat (a member of said race). Except ol' Arnie completely steals the show with his Mighty Light superhero persona easily defeating the Big Bad Cat Rodon along with his battle cruiser in the climax.
    • Additionally, Starbug, one of the many smaller shuttlecraft that Red Dwarf was equipped with. It initially serves the same purpose as its predecessor shuttle Blue Midget when its introduced in Red Dwarf III, but became more and more common until Red Dwarf itself was written out of the show for two seasons for a Story Arc about the crew trapped on Starbug trying to locate and recover the larger ship, temporarily rendering Red Dwarf an Artifact Title.
  • 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 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 (and Gilda Radner to an extent).
    • Eddie Murphy and, to a lesser extent, Joe Piscopo, were this during the early eighties, to the point where Eddie 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".
    • By the late 2010's, the show has pretty much become "The Kate McKinnon Show" after her rise to fame for her portrayal of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. She usually gets a round of applause just from arriving on stage mid-sketch, and during the Trump administration frequently cross dressed so she could play a male member of Trump's cabinet (usually playing Co-Dragons with Beck Bennett's Mike Pence even when the actual person she played wasn't anywhere near that) and be able to headline the cold opensnote .
  • Saved by the Bell had a precursor series called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which originally focused on the titular Miss Bliss, a middle school teacher. One of her students, Zack Morris, would take over, and once it was Retooled into Saved by the Bell, Zack was now the star of the show, joined by five of his best friends. Miss Bliss, meanwhile, was nowhere in sight.
  • Sesame Street has focused a lot on Elmo and Abby (and to some extent, Cookie Monster) since their respective introductions (Zoe, Baby Bear, and Rosita have also had this problem on and off), with Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Ernie and Bert, etc. mostly shoved into the background.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Col. Sheppard and Rodney McKay usually filled the roles of Action Hero and The Smart Guy Lancer, just like O'Neill 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.
  • Stargate SG-1: The show was pretty good about being a true ensemble until the latter few seasons.
    • Cameron Mitchell takes over leading SG-1 after O'Neill gets promoted, somewhat usurping Samantha Carter as the leader of the team (the "somewhat" is that they are both of equal rank, it's just Cam that takes command more often in the field). He gets a lot of character schilling during the first half of Season 9, while both Carter and Teal'c seem to lose focus. The spotlight got so big that he ends up being the overall main hero of Stargate: Continuum, which is the Grand Finale of the show.
    • Daniel Jackson was always a central character to the ongoing plots, but the Orii plot really bumped up his importance. He's the one who attracts the Orii to begin with, with the other responsible character (Vala) mainly connected to Daniel. He continuously tries to debate the Priors philisophically. He takes the fight against the Orii just as personally as he did the fight against Apophis. Things got even crazier in Season 10. Adria, the new Big Bad, is very clearly into Daniel and tries to seduce him multiple times. Much of the latter half of the season revolves around Daniel being kidnapped and turned into a Prior so that he can complete a device to wipe the Orii out completely, only he never told any of his friends of this plan, which almost causes things to go south.
  • Star Trek falls into this a lot, most frequently with the "Nonhuman who gradually learns to be human" type of character. Specifics:
    • Begins with Star Trek: The Original Series and Commander Spock. The show's format was supposed to have Captain Kirk as the regular protagonist, each episode focusing on his relationship with one of the crew, basically, Kirk + X. Only, the half-Vulcan telepath, with his Tall, Dark, and Snarky manner, and a ton of unexplored weird abilities, became the fan favorite so fast that the showrunners realized the only way to keep Kirk in the focus intended would be to develope the relationship between him and Spock. So the format became X= Spock in almost every episode.Not that anyone was complaining.
    • 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.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: When Worf is introduced in Season 4 he takes up a lot of space as part of the big Klingon arc. The first half of the seventh season has a big spotlight on Ezri Dax due to her late arrival as a character. And Garak. For somebody not even listed as part of the main cast, he was one of the most major characters of the series.
  • Stranger Things:
    • Eleven's main role for the first two Seasons was to steal the show away from the main kids, teenagers and adult characters with her powerful Mind over Matter powers. It doesn't help that Eleven also saves the day in both Season finales and being The Woobie in general. Ironically however, the one entirety Eleven-focused episode in Season 2 was divisive at best and loathed at worst.
    • Season 3 subverts this totally with Eleven as she's put on the sidelines for the first half of the season, then she gets wounded in the Final Battle which gets her Brought Down to Normal forcing everyone else to step up save the day.
    • Hopper frequently steals the show away from the main kids, with major focus being given to his character kicking ass and taking names as well as his relationships with Joyce and later Eleven.
    • Johnathon and Nancy while they do it less than Hopper still take limelight away from the kid squad with their adventures. Though they tend to compromise by just joining the others for the finale.
    • "Scoop Troop" aka Steve, Dustin, Robin and Erica brutally steal the show in Season 3 with their adventures underneath the mall, thwarting Russians which overshadows the exploits of the rest of the cast in the process.
  • 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. This may have been an attempt on the writers part to course correct as in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, it was Zack who usually was the focus of episodes, especially in season one.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • One semi-recurring problem is that while the Red Ranger is the show's lead by design, it sometimes gets out of hand and he ends up drawing attention from what is supposed to be an ensemble cast:
      • Shiro Gou from Choudenshi Bioman is a very early example, and while it takes effect very late in the show, when it happens it's egregious: Their mysterious ally who has been against the Gear Empire for longer than them turns out to be Shiro's father, and a great emphasis is done with that until the moment he dies, to the point it's revealed he and Big Bad Dr. Man were once close coleagues. While far from the worst case in the series, this essentially makes eventual confrontations with Dr. Man much more personal for Shiro than the rest of the team.
      • Daigo "King" Kiryuu from Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger is such a case of the Red Ranger stealing focus. The unfortunate part is that the character was generally well-regarded at first, thanks to his Boisterous Bruiser personality and his unshakable faith in his teammates.note  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".
      • 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 had many less redeeming character traits: While he was the Determinator and matured a bit over the course of the show (emphasis on "a bit"), since he was also the show's Kid-Appeal Character, he tended to act in stupid, childish ways and belt out his "I'M ON FIRE!" catchphrases every two minutes at the top of his lungs.
      • Yamato Kazakiri from Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger. The show is meant to be about four anthropomorphic animals from another dimension and a human native to ours harnessing the powers of their species to become Sentai Rangers and stop omnicidial aliens, with the obvious mystery on why Yamato can assume eagle powers. Problem is, even after that is answered, his relationship to his relatives overtakes the rest of the show when not fighting the Dethgaliens, and even then it comes to the point Yamato obtains not just one, but also two power up forms over the course of the series.
      • Lucky from Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger. The show's premise is about nine saviors that will emerge to save the universe (with the team eventually gaining twelve members). In all fairness, Lucky isn't as bad as some examples given that some of the other Rangers still get their own sub-plots and focus episodes, but it's hard to argue he doesn't gets much more focus than most, being present in almost every fight whereas the rest of the Rangers rotate and eventually being revealed he was a prince and a descendant of a legendary warrior.
      • The main premise of Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger is that it's a show with only one human Ranger, Kaito as Zenkaizer, and the rest are more mecha-like robot warriors. However, almost every episode focuses on Kaito or has him in a prominent role, even if the episode is supposed to focus on one of the robot Zenkaigers. With the introduction of Stacey (Kaito's Evil Counterpart on the villains' side) and Zox (the Sixth Ranger with his own team of allies), nearly all of the drama and focus is put on them as well. Essentially the show in practice is about Kaito, Zox, and Stacey, while the other Zenkaigers play a supporting role. The Korean dub (which borrows the Power Rangers title from America) is even titled Power Rangers Zenkaizer directly after Kaito himself, instead of after the entire team.
    • 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.
      • This show however has an interesting subversion of sorts at the very end, since while the Lupinrangers' are the focus of the story as they gather the Lupin Collection to rescue their loved ones as their series long goal for 99 percent of it once they actually accomplish this they end up mostly sitting out of the finale while the Patrangers take ALL of the powerups (including the ones designed for the Lupinrangers') and more or less fight the final battle and defeat the Big Bad themselves to the point where at the end of the show it's them who are hailed as the heroes of the city and become famous and beloved by the public while the public's interest in the Lupinrangers' pretty much dies down when they lose their mystique and they end up having to lie low at the end.
  • Castiel from Supernatural was only meant to be in 3 episodes but Misha Collins was so popular in the role and the creator and show runner found the character so interesting in the role he was kept on til the shows end. He was killed off a number of times and his return episodes ranked in the top of their seasons in ratings and IMDB. He was also used to promote the final episode, that he wasn’t even in.
  • 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.
  • Westworld: When Caleb is introduced in Season 3 as one of the new additions for the main cast, this causes the other two main characters, Bernard and William, to be sidelined just to give way for Caleb's character development. The former is the most affected among the original cast as he ends up being a Pinball Protagonist who goes from one place to another and gives expositions. It doesn't help that the third season is only eight episodes which would explain Bernard's and William's reduced screentime.
  • The Witcher (2019) is of course concerned with the titular Geralt of Rivia and his adventures, however the show gives heavy focus to the journey of his Love Interest Yennifer for a lot of the season. Notably the massive war against the Nilfgaardian Empire in the finale focuses solely on Yennifer and the other magic users, while Geralt is put out of the action being wounded and delirious on the back of a cart. Ciri also takes a lot of screentime from Geralt with her adventure, but not nearly as much as Yennifer does.
  • 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.

  • 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 and V4 flower 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 Dream'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.

  • Michael Jordan is prominently featured over all of the other characters in Space Jam, to the point of relegating Bugs Bunny to the background.
  • Whoever was designing The Avengers (Stern) must've really liked Hulk, as almost all the focus goes toward him, making the other Avengers seem like mere cameos at best.

    Professional 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 heavily on Kevin Nash. 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. However since SmackDown moved to FOX in the fall of 2019 and started getting WWE's top stars (including Roman Reigns), SmackDown now fills the main event spot of a dual-branded PPV while RAW is now viewed as the B-Show.
  • 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... or so we thought.)
  • 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. For several years after 2006, John Cena stole 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 was stealing the spotlight from the WWE Championship for quite some time. 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, partly for injuries and also for his acting career, 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 had fewer title reigns during that time and were rarely focused on after losing the titles, especially Becky who is the only one who did not win the NXT Women's Championship.
    • Subverted as of 2019; Becky Lynch managed to organically gain fan support, beat Charlotte and Ronda Rousey in the main event of WrestleMania 35, became the first wrestler to hold both women's championships simultaneously and is now considered the biggest female star (and possibly the biggest star, period) in the company. Bayley, meanwhile, was repeatedly Screwed by the Network but remained a beloved Ensemble Dark Horse and eventually got A Day in the Limelight, winning and cashing in the women's MITB briefcase on the same night to become SmackDown Women's Champion, and she is currently one of the most talked-about acts in the company following a reunion with Sasha Banks and shock Heel turn.

    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 famous 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.
  • The NFL's Dallas Cowboys have not won a Super Bowl — or have even made it to a conference championship for the right to play in the Super Bowl — since 1995, one of only seven teams (out of 32) to not do so in the interim. Yet their coverage and primetime game slots remain relentless solely due to their national prominence and popularity, and the influence of owner Jerry Jones, considered to be the most powerful man in the league, more so than the actual commissioner (something he once even touted to commissioner Roger Goodell during a heated argument).
  • 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.
    • At least until 2023, when Deion Sanders took all of the oxygen out of the room when he became head coach at Colorado. Essentially, "Coach Prime" is Harbaugh dialed up beyond eleven (though it remains to be seen how successful he'll be as an FBS coach).
  • 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 English-language 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 and 2020s, 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 six teams in La Liga and the Segunda División 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 to 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 2010–11 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 from roughly 2004 to 2020, it wasn't a good idea to try watching an ATP match between two other players than Roger Federer in a tournament he was in and take a shot every time the commentators mention him. Or a tournament he was 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 during that time. You would have died.
  • 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) getting the majority of the rest of the attention and everyone else being Demoted to Extra.
  • F1 news in Italy is 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, Manchester City, Arsenal or Liverpool merchandise, while domestic sides barely get attention on matchday. Provided there isn't a fixture clash with the EPL. In the 2020s, this has been especially aided by probably the country's two highest-profile players, Erling Haaland and Martin Ødegaard, respectively playing for City and Arsenal.
  • During the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat, an unofficial mascot created by comedians HG Nelson and Roy Slaven, stole the spotlight from the games' official mascots.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a reputation for this, at least among its dedicated fans; it's generally agreed that the Imperium of Man in general, and the Space Marines especially are given preferential treatment compared to the other factions, both in terms of model-releases and the tie-in novels.
  • 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.
  • Another one from the Bard: King Lear is more about Oswald the Fool rather than the king himself.
  • 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.

  • Unavoidable in BIONICLE, as there had to be new toys on shelves every six months or so.
    • For the first two years, the main characters were the six Toa Mata, later named Toa Nuva. In 2001, a seemingly innocuous villager called Takua starred in two games, Quest for the Toa (still nameless at that point) and Mata Nui Online Game, while the Toa were set to be featured in the PC video game Legend of Mata Nui. As LOMN got canned shortly before release, Takua became a fan favorite, so the series' first Direct to Video movie had him and his friend Jaller as protagonists and the Toa in supporting roles. In the final scene, Takua becomes the Seventh Toa Takanuva and beats the villain by himself while the other Toa are reduced to non-speaking background characters.
    • The 2004-05 arc was about exploring the past before the Toa Mata's arrival, pushing them aside in favor of their mentors, the Turaga elders discussing their adventures as Toa Metru. The Toa Nuva and even Takanuva only showed up as minor characters during book prologues and epilogues. While all six Toa Metru got plenty of time to shine in printed media, the second movie mostly focused on the trio of Vakama, Matau and Nokama, while the third only on Vakama and Matau. Then the final book of the saga was mainly about Vakama and the Makuta.
    • The Nuva make a huge comeback in 2006, for the sole purpose of getting nearly killed in a Curb-Stomp Battle so that Jaller and his friends (now also upgraded to Toa status) could take over their roles. Takanuva was briefly important before also losing the spotlight. In both 2006 and 2007, numerous stories would also put the villains front and center, corresponding to toy release schedules. The six Toa Nuva and Takanuva would then finally return as the definitive protagonists for 2008.
    • Due to a Retool in setting, all previous characters were cast aside into side plots for much of 2009 and 2010. Toa Nuva team leader Tahu and Takanuva, arguably the franchise's two biggest central heroes in the present-timeline, did come back both in the story and as toys for 2010 (Tahu being devolved back into his Toa Mata state), pushing aside all the other Toa for the Grand Finale.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations: Kay Faraday claims to be the Phantom Thief Yatagarasu, but she's too nice to actually steal material things, so she mostly steals other people's screen time (especially from Detective Gumshoe).
  • 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.
  • The third "episode" of Funny Horsie attempted to introduce a new co-host, Socky the Sock Puppet. However, it was constantly interrupted by the narrator, who constantly reminded everyone that it was, in fact, "episode three".
  • Happy Tree Friends:
    • Lumpy. While this wasn't much of an issue in the first two seasons where he was more of a supporting character, his status as a Creator's Pet really comes into light from the TV Series onwards, evidently from the fact that he appears in 37 of the 39 episodes of that season. He has at least 40 "starring roles"note  overall while the average character has around 10, and he shows up in about 2/3rds of all the episodes in the entire show. Most of the episodes he appears in, following season 1, has him be the one who topples the Disaster Dominoes due to being The Ditz of the cast, which naturally led him to being the most Base-Breaking Character of the show.
    • Sniffles was hit to this to some extent. His rivalry with the Ant Family has had quite a lot of focus in the later episodes. He's even had some focus in episodes that weren't centered around his rivalry with the Ants ("I've Got You Under My Skin", "Wrath of Con" and "Dream Job", to name a few).
    • Pop and Cub, but to a much lesser extent. They don't get as much spotlight compared to the above, but they tend to have frequent supporting roles and are often used for promotion.note  It gotten to the point where Pop & Cub are featured prominently in the two TV episodes where Lumpy doesn't appear.
  • Helluva Boss: Stolas is fast becoming this. In the pilot and episode 1, he was an Abhorrent Admirer to central character Blitz, with Blitz's assassination business being the central driver of the plot. As the first season went on, it was revealed Stolas' affair with Blitz had resulted in an assassin being hired to kill him by his wife, and by season two his decision to divorce said wife is given equal, if not more, screentime than Blitz, his business or any of Blitz's own backstory, which is now essentially alternating when it gets focus alongside the divorce plotline.
  • One of the major criticisms of SMG4 videos after Kevin became the main writer in 2017 is that is that they give later characters and newer additions a lot of screen time (especially Meggy and Melony) while leaving many of the classic characters Out of Focus or Demoted to Extra (with the exception of Fishy Boopkins and Bob, who are not only the classic characters who haven't suffered of this, but the only classic characters to receive this kind of treatment), sometimes even overshadowing Mario himself to the point of leaving him as a Decoy Protagonist, if not as an Advertised Extra in many episodes such as in "Mario And the Experiment", where Mario only shows up in three scenes and the rest was about Meggy, Desti and Axol, or "War of Simps", where Mario only shows up in two scenes and all the protagonism is taken by Fishy Boopkins, Saiko and Whimpu, despite the fact that in both episodes Mario appears prominently in the thumbnails.
  • Parodied in SPARKLE ON RAVEN with DrillGirl, a side character who immediately declares that she's "the real star of this show!" when she first appears. It's a Running Gag through the whole series: the show is subtitled The Life of DrillGirl, she's always listed first in the credits, and episode 3 is titled "DrillGirl Saves Santa Claus!" even though this happens entirely off-screen and the episode's plot is completely different.

  • 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)
  • 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, 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.
  • Sonichu: Christine Weston Chandler is a strange Author Avatar version of this. She started as a background character playing the role of (somehow) both Sonichu's biological mother and his creator. She quickly became the hero of the story, shoving Sonichu into the background. However, in response to feedback from her "fans", she wrote herself out of the story to focus on Sonichu again, but then brought herself back. The final issue of the comic doesn't feature Chris-Chan 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 skirt, and single-handedly stole the spotlight for many, many subsequent strips.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
    • Brooklyn has outdone everyone else in this regard, becoming the most frequent character as well as the essential 4th protagonist with many episodes revolving around him.
  • 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 nephew's cat) and Miracle, or more recently, Peggy, Dottie and Simba.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Spotlight Hog, Spotlight Stealing Character


No Doubt

The video for "Don't Speak" features a magazine cover shoot, where the photographers only want to shoot Gwen Stefani and ignore the other band members. This is based on a real-life incident involving the band.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpotlightStealingSquad

Media sources: