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Trapped by Mountain Lions

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A subplot (usually in a drama story) that is so disjointed from the main plot that you can't figure out why anyone would care about it, when the fate of the world is being decided elsewhere.

There are several reasons why this might happen. Maybe the author has introduced too many characters and doesn't want people asking What Happened to the Mouse?. Maybe he doesn't want a new character to come out of nowhere. Maybe a comic relief character keeps getting scenes during a dramatic or serious portion of the plot, causing Mood Whiplash. Maybe the principal character is just a Creator's Pet, and you can't get anyone to care about it, meaningful or not. Maybe a certain character would be able to solve the primary problem quickly and easily, and therefore must be sidetracked. Or maybe the writers just needed to fill up time somehow.

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This trope is named for Kim Bauer and her escapades in season 2 of 24. Whereas Kim was integral to the storyline of the first season, by season 2 the show had Elisha Cuthbert under contract but no way to work her character into the main plot. This resulted in a series of B-stories where Kim is chased by her employer's homicidal husband, briefly detained after said employer's corpse is found in the trunk of her stolen car, causes an auto crash that severs her boyfriend's legs, gets lost in the wilderness, is caught in a bear trap and menaced by a mountain lion (thus the trope name), held prisoner by a lonely mountain man who tricks her into thinking the world has ended, becomes a hostage in a liquor store holdup, and is menaced by the husband again when she goes to his house to get her stuff and he somehow manages to kill the trained law enforcement professionals escorting her. Meanwhile in the actual, interesting main plot, her father tries to locate and defuse a nuclear bomb that's fallen into the hands of terrorists while a conspiracy within the government abuses the situation to make a power-grab. Remember the main conceit of the series is that each season takes place within a twenty-four-hour period... it was a busy day.

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Of course, this trope can be justified, and in many instances is wrongly invoked when what the writers are doing is too subtle for the audience. For instance, the side plot can be a step towards resolution of an inner problem of a character, without which they would be unable to solve an outer problem later. And, of course, it can be straight up Character Development.

Compare Wacky Wayside Tribe, where the entire cast is involved and there is no A-story. See also Deus Exit Machina, Filler, Padding, Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, and "Shaggy Dog" Story. Romantic Plot Tumor is a subtrope of this, as is Wangst. If the side story does end up having consequences that are just as or more important than the main one, but few characters are aware of or treat it as having that gravitas, then it falls under The Greatest Story Never Told. Also see Red Skies Crossover, where the story is only vaguely connected to a larger event by a character or some background element briefly mentioning it.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Most scenes with Bulma during the Frieza Arc of Dragon Ball Z; she needed to be there because nobody else could fly the spaceship, but after that her importance was non-existent. As a result, there are several episodes that cut away from the main plot to show Bulma reading magazines, hiding from Frieza's soldiers, fighting giant crabs in the ocean, etc. Amusingly enough, there's one segment in the show where Krillin and Gohan hear her screaming in the distance and wonder if she really was literally trapped by mountain lions (to which Krillin responds "I'd feel sorry for the lion.") Interestingly, while Dragon Ball Z Kai excises most of the filler from DBZ, it leaves in the sub-plot where Captain Ginyu briefly body-swaps with Bulmanote ; it's also referenced in Dragon Ball Super when Ginyu appears and both Bulma and Piccolo mention the body-swap.
    • Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might spends about half its runtime cutting away from or ignoring the kinda-neat plot of Earth being invaded by Space Pirates so we can get scenes of Gohan playing with his new pet dragon.
  • For most of Mobile Suit Gundam 00's first season, civilian teens Saji Crossroad and Louise Halevy seemed to serve no purpose at all. Until a Wham Episode comes as it makes them innocent victims of war, with Saji losing his sister Kinue and with Louise being orphaned and mutilated. In the second season, then, Saji becomes the main character Setsuna's partner and co-pilot of sorts, and Louise is an artificially enhanced enemy soldier.
    • The second season had shades of this trope as well, with side characters such as Graham Aker (under the guise of one "Mr. Bushido"), Marina Ismail, Wang Liu Mei, Nena Trinity and Ali al-Saachez carrying on with their own stories without much relevance to the larger outcome of the story.
  • Code Geass
    • The Mao subplot doesn't really affect much in the narrative. The only things of note that occurred due to the subplot was the Geassing of Shirley to forget Lelouch, the knowledge that Geass can go out of control, and The Reveal that Suzaku killed his father. However, none of these really affect the narrative in particular in the long run. Shirley's being Geassed is rendered moot after the Time Skip, where she's already fallen in love with Lelouch again, Lelouch learning Geass can go berserk doesn't come up when his starts acting oddly, leading to the "Euphinator" incident, and Suzaku's being geassed on Shinkine island to live was less about him killing his dad and more about his Death Seeker nature in general. Remove the Mao subplot from the narrative, and nothing is really lost. Even the creators seemed to agree, as when the Compilation Movie was first released, Mao was Adapted Out, and the only thing that changed was what happened to Shirley, something already rendered moot after she was Spared by the Adaptation.
    • At one point, Ohgi, Viletta, and Sayoko are at the top of a waterfall. Sayoko tries to kill Viletta, and Ohgi jumps in the way, the two falling off the waterfall toward some sharp rocks. This scuffle was never mentioned again, and didn't have anything to do with what was going on.
  • Danganronpa 3: Future Arc has several scenes where Yasuhiro Hagakure tries, and fails, to reenter the Future Foundation building after he is trapped outside. These scenes never amount to anything plotwise, but in a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, they provide some badly-needed comic relief in an otherwise dark plot.
  • Many plotlines in Yu-Gi-Oh! series that don't involve a Duelist tend to get this response. The original anime also had a number arising due to added Filler.
    • Various episodes in the later Duelist Kingdom arc focus on things like Honda, Anzu, and Bakura investigating Pegasus or Honda attempting to rescue Mokuba, which were added for the anime. They have no effect on the ongoing plot to the point that the former ends with everyone getting Laser-Guided Amnesia, often create some weird lore issues, and could be cut without affecting much of anything. They seem to exist just to remind you those characters exist.
    • The Otogi/Honda/Shizuka love triangle has a lot of time dedicated to it in both the blimp arc and the Virtual World arc (both added for the anime); it was never given any resolution, and it mostly just consisted of the two of them somewhat creepily mooning after her and fighting each other, made even worse by the fact that Honda and Otogi are high school students (making them roughly 15 and up), and Shizuka is around 12.
    • Seto Kaiba's involvement in the Millennium World arc: being the Breakout Character, the anime decided to write him into an arc where he appears as himself for two panels. Consequently, he spends a lot of time wandering around Egypt and watching events unfold while musing about how strange they are, rarely actually doing anything barring the final battle (where he still doesn't accomplish much).

    Comic Books 
  • Y'know what was going on at the same time as Crisis Crossover Civil War? Annihilation, aka the event where Annihilus killed Quasar and all of the Nova Corps (except Nova himself), stole the Quantum Bands thus making himself invincible, and then lead a Negative Zone army on a warpath, trying to slaughter all life in the galaxy. This was a threat so big that almost every space superhero, villain, and alien race up to and including Galactus teamed up to stop it. Compared to that, the events in Civil War seem incredibly pointless. Not to mention the Hulk was on his way back to rain holy hell on the superheroes. Lampshaded by a What If? Issue where Nova calls out Iron Man and Captain America on wasting everyone's time like this when a galaxy-destroying army of bugs is on the way.
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, the reader is enticed to forget about the fate of the multiverse and enjoy the adventures of Wildcat.
  • The first arc of season three of The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye insists on repeatedly cutting away from majorly important events to introduce and develop two totally new crew members, Anode and Lug, who end up contributing little to nothing to the story. Especially bad because this was the final season, meaning wrapping up any existing plots should’ve been top priority. James Roberts has indicated this was largely the result of having to change his plans for season three; Anode and Lug were supposed to be the protagonists of a third plotline involving the Mutineers, but a sudden relaunch of the comic led to them being moved into the main storyline instead, providing an Audience Surrogate for new readers at the cost of robbing them of much of their plot relevance.

    Fan Works 
  • Two of the early subplots in Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race dealt with a cop named Lyn dealing with her missing, drug-addicted brother and the plans of the Vic Tech coporation to get in on the robot warrior gig. Not bad subplots, but they lack a direct connection to the main plot aside from a brief attempt by Dr. Wily to get hired by Vic Tech in the revised Episode 1 and are overall not what you'd expect from a story whose primary attraction is "blue robot fights mad scientist". However, Lyn eventually becomes one of Mega Man's allies and her brother plays a key role in Episode 6 while the increasing desperation of Vic Tech results in setting the stage for Episode 7 and beyond, subverting this trope. Later subplots like the Bonnes and Mr. Black are also better about having more of a direct and sensible tie-in to the main story, avoiding this trope.
  • My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic takes this to slightly absurd levels with each entry in the series having two separate villains in unrelated story arcs; one takes the spotlight as a main villain, while the other serves as a secondary villain that's defeated around two-thirds of the way into the story. In the first three "seasons", the secondary villain is at least tangentially related to the Big Bad (Serpentari is out for revenge on Titan, the Changeling Captain is The Starscream for Chrysalis and actually contributes to the main storyline, and Raven teams up with one of Sombra's henchman who's gone rogue and holds one of the Macguffins) even if their plots are largely separate. In everything after that, the secondary baddies are just there for the sake of being there and have no relation to the main plot whatsoever, to the point where they could be written into two separate stories and nothing would change.
    • In Season IX of the series has an Arranged Marriage plotline involving Applejack and a childhood friend of hers Applespice. A good chunk of the plot is devoted to the subplot but despite the A plot involving bad guys who are waging a war against love itself it never becomes integral to the main storyline and after spending the whole season focusing on it the whole thing gets resolved in a massive anticlimax when Apple Bloom realizes there's nothing stopping Applejack and Apple Spice from getting a divorce.

    Films — Animated 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WCW's entire "Blood Runs Cold" angle was an example of this. At a time when the entire WCW is gearing up for war with the nWo, and every storyline seemed to gradually weave its way into that, there was always one segment each night that involved a bunch of Mortal Kombat-esque characters fighting over a helmet. Once the whole thing was over, Glacier and Wrath disappeared for months, Ernest Miller was demoted to a jobber, and Mortis got mocked by Raven, eventually lost his mask, and became Kanyon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering's Weatherlight Saga has a couple of these:
    • Prophecy. Smack-bang in the middle of the Saga (which is, as a reminder, an epic story about the crew of the flying ship Weatherlight who travel to another world to rescue their captain and end up defending their world from an Alien Invasion), we get a set and accompanying novel about the Keldons invading Jamuraa. It does involve a few characters from the Saga, but they proceed to do almost nothing for the entire novel.
    • The rise of the primevals in Planeshift. How much impact does the rise of five ancient dragon gods have on the main storyline? Just enough to be defeated after a single battle, after which they are never heard from again.
  • Everyone in Warhammer 40,000. And that's not just a jab at the franchise being a Cosmic Horror Story. The "main plot" that will decide the future of the galaxy is Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade to destroy Terra and conquer the galaxy in the name of Chaos, but Games Workshop has absolutely no intention of actually resolving that story, ever. As such, everything that the players can do with their minis, as well as almost all the stories in the army supplements, are taking place right as the Black Crusade is being put together, but will almost certainly have no impact on it (at least, not directly). This has intrigued many fans and pissed off just as many.
    • In 2016 the plot actually advanced enough to alter the status quo in preparation for the 8th edition.

    Theatre 
  • The Shriners ballet in Bye Bye Birdie.
  • "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" from The King and I is a Show Within a Show that runs on for 15 minutes, with only An Aesop near the end linking it to the plot. The ballet music is unmelodic and represents more the work of an arranger than of Richard Rodgers.

    Video Games 
  • In Katamari Damacy, there are cutscenes in between every few levels and after you create a new constellation when some Lego-looking kids comment on the stars being gone/coming slowly back. It has no bearing on what little plot there is, especially since nobody listens to them anyway.
  • Rose, the Annoying Video Game Helper girlfriend from Metal Gear Solid 2, won't stop calling and insisting on talking about her relationship with Raiden. Even though he's, you know, in the middle of a highly-dangerous mission all by himself.
  • Because the students got separated when they were pulled into the evil Heavenly Host school in Corpse Party, there were multiple sub-plots as each chapter focused on different characters. Most of these involved trying to find a way out, dodging sadistic ghosts, getting possessed, being brutally murdered... and in the case of Satoshi and Yuka, trying to find a working toilet so she could go potty. It dragged on for a ridiculous amount of time, tracking down various toilets only to move on because they were damaged, blocked by gaping holes in the floor, or full of hanged girls, to the point that any normal person would have just peed in the corner and been done with it. It got worse when it tied into a "Find Yuka" sub-plot, simply because they got separated when she tried peeing outside (and she still didn't end up doing it).
  • Kingdom Hearts II already suffers from too many plot threads, but one that stands out as particularly pointless is the Cloud vs. Sephiroth subplot. Aside from fighting Sephiroth for no real reason, Sora, Donald and Goofy do literally nothing in it except watch as Cloud, Tifa and Sephiroth talk about things that neither they nor the audience are privy to.
  • Some installments of the Sonic the Hedgehog series fall victim to this as a result of having tons of characters:
    • Half the alternate characters' quests in Sonic Adventure are rather disconnected from the main story involving Chaos and Tikal's resurrection, making the latter teleporting them to their backstory seem a questionable resort. Amy and Big are only connected via a single Chaos Emerald their animal companion is holding (which in Amy's case is lost halfway through the story). E-102 Gamma serves Dr. Eggman at the start of the game, but as a more menial minion than Chaos, after which he resorts to finding his E-Series brethren who are even more disconnected from the main story.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) suffers from this. While Sonic is attempting to rescue Princess Elise from Eggman, who never stays put, Shadow and Silver are doing much more plot-critical activities, such as attempting to figure out the identity of Mephiles the Dark or preventing the Bad Future.
  • The BlazBlue series most definitely, particularly in the first game. Each cast member has their own story path, but only about 4 or 5 of them have anything to do with the overall plot. The sequels handle this slightly better by intersecting the plots of the many characters and giving the lesser ones more focus. The third game's kind of egregious as its narrative only focuses on the main characters, leaving a lot of supporting characters in the dust and their plot threads hanging. It gets a bit better in the fourth game where while the focus is still primarily on the main characters, there are sub-scenarios that wrap up a lot of supporting plot threads.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Subverted with the game's side-plots. The main story revolves around planning for a Suicide Mission into the lair of the Collectors. But a bunch of the gameplay revolves around each party members' personal issues, coined as "Loyalty Missions", such as Miranda worrying of the safety of her sister, or Garrus' grudge against a traitor that cost him his team. Not one of these has anything to do with the main plot. However, if you treat them like insignificant side-missions and want to just focus on the "main, most important mission"... well, the party members who are not loyal will deliver sub-par performances (because the unresolved problems still linger in their heads), possibly killing them or even someone else (and in the worst case, making the mission end in a Pyrrhic Victory with Shepard perishing, too). In other words, this game encourages you to deal with those trapped by mountain lions instead of ignoring them, or you'll be punished for it. And overall, completing the Loyalty Missions will likely cause you to grow fond of your squad and thus be highly concerned about them in the Suicide Mission (especially since you can still make a wrong choice and get them killed despite their loyalty).
      • Also in some cases averted thanks to the third game. The Loyalty Missions for Mordin, Tali and Miranda in particular don't advance the plot of 2, but provide crucial backstory and context for plotlines in 3 that are crucial for forming alliances and fighting the enemy. And of course, many don't feel this trope applies at all given how compelling the Loyalty Missions are anyway (except Jacob's).
    • The main plot of Mass Effect 2 fell prey to this retroactively. Several critics have pointed out that the Collector plot is ultimately pointless to the overarching goal of stopping the Reapers as Mass Effect 3 failed to capitalize on anything from it aside from a few character backstories and another win on Shepard's rep sheet. Some fans disagree and the quality of the main story is still a point of contention with fans to this day.
  • In Noir: A Shadowy Thriller (the last game created by Cyberdreams before they collapsed), the player is a Hard Boiled Detective assisting a fellow detective with some cases. Most of the cases are pretty important stuff like murders and Nazi plots, but one involves helping some rich lady find her missing dog, which even your fellow detective lamphades is a waste of time. Inexplicably, the missing dog case gets more focus than any of the others and retrieving the dog through a simple puzzle serves as the game's climax (which comes after the player has beaten Nazi spies and sunk a Japanese freighter). When Retsupurae riffed the game, they noted how the detective seems far more intrigued by a terrier getting kidnapped than he did by fighting mobsters and murderers.
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2: At one point the heroes split up into two teams, as they try to recover Nexus fragments and put a stop to Kang, Team Thor and Team Spider-Man (with a third plotline of the Guardians of the Galaxy getting into trouble on their own). Then, suddenly and without any prior build-up, the Inhumans show up having their own problems with Maximus the Mad.
  • Played for Laughs in Flower, Sun and Rain as a Deconstruction of time-wasting side quests and mini-games in video games with epic plots. Your character is stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where he is supposed to stop the terrorist bombing of a plane, but he keeps getting unwillingly sidetracked by pointless demands from NPCs, amenities on the island, and generally strange events. In other words, you play as a character in a narrative who wants to follow the main plot but is instead eternally Trapped By Mountain Lions.

    Webcomics 
  • Invoked in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja a few times, such as the incident where dinosaur Yoshi steals ape receptionist Judy's hotdogs, while the Doctor is getting killed as part of a plot to conquer the US.
  • Homestuck parodies this with the Viceroy Bubbles Von Salamancer subplot made to spite Vriska for wanting more screen time in the comic. It lasts only a few pages, and ends up having no pull on the plot, but it's funny nonetheless.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Vaarsuvius preemptively takes steps to avoid being Trapped by Mountain Lions in this strip.
      Kubota: My trial will last a few weeks, at most, and when it is over Hinjo will look like an out-of-touch buffoon for even bringing up charges against me — a beloved pillar of the community — while his people waste away at sea. Now, come along. Bring me before your master so that we may begin the Trial of the Century.
      Elan: Yeah, well, we'll see what they believe. The Katos and I will testify against you and then—
      Vaarsuvius: [reducing Kubota to a pile of ash] Disintegrate. [blowing the ashes overboard before Elan can recover from the initial shock] Gust of Wind. Now can we PLEASE resume saving the world?
    • The frost giant arc on the Mechane during the trip to the dwarven capital. It was a roughly forty strips longs arc, that, because of the way the strip updated, took nearly a year, disappointing many fans. With an apocalyptic deadline looming in the background, readers found a plot about a glorified random encounter to be really underwhelming. Coupling this was a lack of the comic's trademark humor, zero Character Development, an Anvilicious and disjointed diatribe about women in the workplace, and the primary focus on two bit part characters with paper-thin characterization who were mostly disliked by the fanbase as it was.

    Web Original 
  • The Pooh's Adventures videos ultimately lead to this, since the imported footage is usually very disjointed and overall irrelevant to the movie involved.
  • Red vs. Blue falls into this from time to time. It's been lampshaded more than once that The Blues tend to get the more plot focused stuff while the Reds just provide comedy. This is specially bad in season 9, where the meat of the season is flashbacks to Project Freelancer and Church is in a world based off his own memories. So the action will cut away to the antics of Church's memories of the Red team every so often.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • The second half of "That's Lobstertainment" sees Fry and Leela getting trapped in the La Brea Tarpit after Leela tries to park the Planet Express ship on it and is largely them complaining about missing out on the A-plot. The storyline only lasts for around 2 (non-consecutive) minutes but when the episode is only 22 minutes long it becomes more noticeable. On the DVD Commentary the writer even admits that his first draft of the episode earned a note that he'd "lost Fry and Leela".
    • The fourth film "Into The Wild Green Yonder" has Leo Wong planning to blow up a large percentage of the Milky Way, and Fry learning about the threat of a mysterious "Dark One" that only he can stop. Meanwhile, the first act has Bender having an affair with the Donbot's wife which has nothing to do with anything else in the film, suddenly ending and never getting mentioned again after it ends. Part of this is because the writers got fond of the Mars Vegas setting, and expanded its role in the movie.
  • Season 3 of The Animals of Farthing Wood devoted a lot of time to the pointless antics of Weasel, Measley, and their children after they leave White Deer Park and cause all sorts of trouble on a farm.
  • In the second episode of the Family Guy three-parter/movie Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, Stewie sees a man on TV and becomes convinced that he's Stewie's real father and, as such, sets out on a cross-country trip with Brian and Quagmire to find him. Oh, and Peter and Lois are teaching Meg and Chris about how to appeal to other people. That subplot, however, is dropped by the third episode.
  • In the Generator Rex episode "Breach," in which Rex wakes in a creepy abandoned town and must figure out where he is and how to get back to headquarters, Six and Bobo are Trapped by Scorpions.
  • The DuckTales (2017) episode "The Other Bin of Scrooge McDuck!" suffers from this. The main plot of the episode is centered on Lena, her relationship with her abusive aunt Magica, and her struggle with either remaining loyal to said aunt or ratting her out to Scrooge, only for Magica to possess her in the end. Meanwhile, the B-plot is about... Louie dealing with a Bigfoot con man, with his brothers passing the Jerkass Ball between them in the process.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Springfield Splendor" is about Lisa and Marge co-creating a graphic novel based on Lisa's experiences in school, and the issues that result from their creative preferences. Homer and Bart get their own share of screen time, but their portions of the episode are best described as a Random Events Plot.
    • Played for Laughs in "Bart to the Future." The main plot is a Flash Forward about Lisa becoming president while Bart is a shiftless layabout, with the Framing Device that Bart is being told this by a Magical Native American. It also includes a B-plot where Homer searches the White House for "Lincoln's gold."
      Chief: I guess the spirits thought the main vision was a little thin.
    • "Thursdays with Abie" is an episode about Grampa, with a news reporter pretending to like his stories. Homer finds out that the reporter is trying to kill Grampa, and has to tell him before it's too late. There's also a subplot where it's Bart's turn to take home a lamb doll from school, which he couldn't care less about. He ends up dropping it in the sewers. Once he learns that Nelson likes the lamb and will beat him up if he shows up to school without it, he has to get it back. The subplot has no relevance to what Homer and Grampa are doing, and has No Ending; in the last scene, Bart accidentally rips the doll in half after the sewer drain spits him out at a beach, but this never gets followed up on.
    • "Boyz N the Highlands". Bart, Martin, and the pet goat they've saved are lost on a mountain, Nelson and Dolph are kidnapped, and there's a group of Satanists hunting the kids down. The subplot is Lisa, while Bart is gone, trying to live out all her only-child fantasies. She's unusually aggressive about this, forcing her parents to call her "Jules", doing a beat poetry slam about how great being an only-child is, and even retelling a politically correct version of The Crucible. It ends when Lisa overeats a bunch of ice cream that Bart usually gets to first, then throws up and has her parents care for her in their bed. This subplot isn't connected to anything in the main story, and none of the characters are aware of the trouble Bart is in.
    • "The Debarted": The main plot is that Bart suspects a new transfer student has been planted to spy on him. The B-plot is Homer renting out a new car, enjoying its cool features, and then returning it once he sees his old car put up for sale. It doesn't connect with Bart's plot beyond one early scene where Homer reassures Bart when they're both in the car.
    • "Adventures in Baby-Getting": Homer and Marge confront their desires to have another child. There's a brief sub-plot where Bart finds notes written by Lisa and tries to figure out what they mean. It turns out she's just taking an after-school cursive class. The mystery is obvious and the payoff isn't interesting, and it takes time away from the main plot.
    • "A Test Before Trying": The fate of the school relies on Bart's performance on a standardized test. The sub-plot is Homer using a parking meter to scam people, which doesn't have anything to do with the episode beyond one line of him wishing that Bart passes his test.
    • "Don't Fear the Roofer" has what can barely be considered a sub-plot, and it lasts two scenes and has no relevance to anything else. First off, Marge and the kids are going to visit Grampa; they bring Santa's Little Helper, and the old folks like playing with him, so they leave him there. When they visit Grampa again, they see that SLH is now listless and elderly — as is Lisa. Marge expresses her frustration, then Santa's Little Helper disappears from the episode and Lisa is suddenly back to normal afterwards.
    • "Maximum Homerdrive". While Bart and Homer are out trucking, we get a subplot of Marge deciding to do have her own adventure at home with Lisa and... install a new doorbell. The one she gets ends up breaking and ringing nonstop, to her frustration. This never crosses over into the main plot.
  • The Loud House:
    • "Patching Things Up" is A Day in the Limelight episode for Lana and Lola. Thus, Lincoln and Clyde's B-plot can feel rather unnecessary. It doesn't contribute anything to the main plot of the twins trying to get into the Bluebell Scouts, and Lincoln and Clyde only appear to be there because the writers felt obligated to include Lincoln in the episode somehow.
    • Lori's subplot in "City Slickers" has been considered wholly unnecessary. The episode could've worked just fine by focusing on Lincoln and Ronnie Anne, but it seems the writers really wanted Lori to do something else besides being Lincoln's driver.
  • The Young Justice episode "Quiet Conversations" has a few plots going on: preventing Cyborg from having his entire being consumed by the Father Box, Halo trying to give the family of the body she's controlling closure over the death of their real daughter, and helping an metahuman acclimate to Atlantis. Then there's Harper Row's brief subplot involving a counseling session with Miss Martian that has nothing to do with any of the above.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Ridiculously Distant Subplot

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Kim Bauer

The trope namer. Kim Bauer was a star character on "24," and while her character may have been divisive to say the least, she at least had an important role in the plot of the first season, being kidnapped by the terrorists to use as leverage against her father, Jack Bauer. In the second season, however, Elisha Cuthbert was still contracted in a star role, but the writers couldn't figure out a way to really work her into the main plot. What resulted was a series of misadventures so ridiculous that it felt insane they would ever be scripted into a series that would go on to win to a total of 20 Emmy Awards, let alone ever be broadcast on television. These included babysitting and getting involved in a domestic abuse drama, getting arrested for being in the wrong place in the wrong time and crashing the police car, and the low point of being menaced by a mountain lion in the wilderness and getting caught in a trap intended to catch said mountain lion. And viewers were supposed to care about this as it was unfolding around a high-stakes drama involving terrorist threats and nuclear explosions.

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