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Out Of Focus / Anime & Manga

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Characters being Out of Focus in anime and manga.


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    A 
  • Attack on Titan features a Sympathetic P.O.V. arc focusing on Reiner Braun and the Child Soldiers of Marley, with a few flashback appearances by Bertolt and Annie. Nobody from the main cast (except for a couple of cameos of Eren, but we don't initially know it's him) appears for eight chapters (also worth noting that this is a monthly manga, so that's eight months without seeing the protagonists) until Eren Yeager shows up at the very end of chapter 98 and talks to Reiner. In Chapter 101, the main cast makes their return to spotlight.
    • Jean Kirstein essentially disappears from the anime for the majority of season 2. After being a Deuteragonist in the Trost arc, and a strong supporting character in the 57th Expedition you could be forgiven for thinking he fucking died at some point in-between scenes. His screentime never really recovered either, as he eventually just joined up with the other members of New Squad Levi in the role of "Important but not Eren, Armin or Mikasa".
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • Sakaki seems to get most of the focus throughout the series... until her animal plot is resolved with Mayaa coming back. For the last two episodes of the show, she has MAYBE ten lines total and about half of those are random background/crowd chatter lines it seems. For most of the rest of the series, Kagura probably falls into this most of the time as, despite being one of the main six, she doesn't show up properly until a little under halfway through the series and is rarely (if ever) the focus of an episode (or the small mini-episodes that make up one episode).
    • Kaorin gets relegated to the secondary cast almost immediately and hardly shows up at all in the last third of the series, partly the result of getting assigned to a different class.
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    B 
  • Bakuman。: Miho Azuki has been seen much less after the news comes that PCP will not get an anime, and Mashiro and Takagi must come up with a manga that will, a significant setback in their promise to have Azuki star in their anime. Justified in that Mashiro and Takagi have promised not to meet in person until they fulfill their promise. Toward the end of the manga, when the anime gets greenlit, only for Azuki's relationship with Mashiro to come to light and cause controversy, Azuki appears much more.
  • Bleach: Tite Kubo paced the story slowly and cycled through such a huge cast that even the most important characters are ignored for long periods. For example, despite being in the middle of battle, Ichigo is barely referenced for a year and a half between 2008-2009 due to how many characters were fighting. Tatsuki and most of the other posse associated with the high school setting are a very important part of the first arc, but are dropped like the first stage of a rocket once the story shifts settings. In the Quincy-centric final arc, so many characters are again fighting that Ishida isn't seen for about as long, despite his vitally important role. Lampshaded by the anime team, who had the characters occasionally joke about the length of time they're left out of the storyline.
  • Bodacious Space Pirates: Chiaki suffers from this around episode 8, when Gruier shows up. What makes it more painfully obvious is the amount of emphasis on her during the opening and closing credits, where she is seen alone, or with just Marika, the main character. She plays a very important role in the beginning of the show, and helps Marika start her space pirate career, then largely vanishes while Gruier spends time with Marika. However, she gets more screentime again around episode 15.

    C 
  • Cat Paradise: Yumi Kayakawa, the main character, is considered to be this by the mangaka. However, the manga does have a considerably large cast for only five volumes, so it was probably difficult packing in all that character development without this happening.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun: While normally part of the core cast, Kuroko, Saten, and Uiharu all had significantly reduced roles in the Sisters arc, which focused almost exclusively on Mikoto. You could even say that Mikoto herself suffers from this since Touma features heavily and is the one who defeats Accelerator in the end.

    D 
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys: Tadakuni slips out of presence over the run of the series, despite being the protagonist. This is lampshaded In-Universe in both manga and the anime adaptation; the anime even says his out of focus is because he is too plain.
  • In Danganronpa 3, much of the class of Super Danganronpa 2 have nothing to do in Side:Despair until quite late on in the plot and all of them are heavily Flanderized into two-dimensional versions of their game selves - the only characters who play a consistently active role in the plot are Nanami, Komaeda, Tsumiki and, to a lesser extent, the Ultimate Imposter.
  • Death Note: During the Yotsuba arc, the perspective subtly but noticeably shifts from Light and his plotting to that of L and the task force, making it closer to an ensemble show. L's moral ambiguity comes into greater focus, Matsuda gets his day in the limelight, Misa gets in on the action by the end, and Aizawa gets some nice Character Development. There's a reason for this - during that arc, Light doesn't have his memories of using the Death Note, and his purpose during those episodes is to be the voice of reason for L when he suggests letting people die in order to catch Kira. Which makes it even more jarring when he gets the Death Note and his memories back at the end of the arc, and his Gambit Roulette that's been running in the background the entire time is revealed, culminating with the death of L. During the Time Skip, when Light and Misa are exposed by the 13 day rule, Light makes Mikami Misa's successor which leaves Misa's role out for the rest of the story while Mikami takes over until the end.
  • Digimon doesn't exactly have the best track record with this trope.
    • Yamato and MetalGarurumon in the final arc, showing up for maybe a minute in the span of five episodes. It even feels sort of shoehorned it since in that sole appearance they pretty much come out of nowhere with no explanation, nuke Pinocchimon/Puppetmon, then disappear for the next three episodes.
    • Digimon Tamers isn't the most even in its handling of the screentime of the tamers. Of the ten, only five (Takato, Ruki, Jenrya, Ryo, Juri) are really in focus during the final arc. That said, there's justification for it this time: the former four are the only ones able to effectively fight the D-Reaper, while they're trying to rescue the latter from it. Three of the tamers are too young to participate much (Shuichon, Ai, Makoto), and two of them didn't even become actual tamers until the last episode anyway (Ai, Makoto). Above all else, it should be noted that only four of the five in focus were intended to be tamers from the start; everyone else wasn't planned at all and is simply a case of Throw It In!—especially in the case of Ryo, whose inclusion was mandated by executives to writer Chiaki J. Konaka because the characters' related game was selling well. (Except for Kazu, who was always intended to be a Tamer but still got screwed focus-wise.)
    • Digimon Frontier is utterly notorious for this - throughout the latter half of the series only Takuya and Kouji, maybe Kouichi on occasion if you're lucky, actually do anything or have any real plot relevance.
    • Digimon Savers, which is arguably the worst in that only Masaru - one character out of four - is really focused upon much. Touma isn't so bad comparatively, but then there's Ikuto and Yoshino. Ikuto regularly disappeared completely for extended amounts of time, with minimal explanation, and Yoshino is even worse especially considering she's still there the entire time. In fact, Ikuto and Yoshino were so out of focus that they had their Digimon reach the Burst Mode in the same episode (while Masaru/Marcus and Tohma/Thomas got individual episodes for that).
    • Digimon Xros Wars goes through an odd journey for it's characters as well. First arc? Taiki, Akari, and Zenjiro have the spotlight while the other Xros Loader digidestined, Kiriha and Nene, remain in the background. Second arc comes around and Akari and Zenjiro get Put on a Bus for Kiriha and Nene to gain their spotlight alongside Taiki. Sequel arc then comes around and Kiriha and Nene join the bus as well to make room for the new main character, Tagiru, and Yuu, the Sixth Ranger entre from the second arc.
  • Dr. Slump:
    • Senbei Norimaki, the titular doctor, gradually becomes less prominent after getting married. This is also lampshaded in-universe (there's No Fourth Wall in this series) later in the manga. He still gets A Day in the Limelight once in a while but not nearly as often as before.
    • Aoi, Akane's sister, is a minor but recurring character in the original series, however in the 90s remake she almost never appears.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Many main characters early on in Dragon Ball are shifted out of focus over time in favor of the Saiyans during the latter half of the series. Side character Lunch is hit particularly hard with this — she doesn't even get Put on a Bus, she just disappears. The creator eventually admitted sheepishly that he had forgotten all about her. Her only appearances in Z are anime-only scenes in Saiyan Saga filler and a small cameo in the Buu Saga where she adds her power to Goku's final Genkidama.
    • When compared to the other Z Big Bads, Cell gets significantly less attention in modern media, particularly Dragon Ball Super. Whereas Vegeta is the deuteragonist, Freeza the antagonist of a movie and a recurring character in Super, and Majin Buu a secondary character, Cell doesn't get much love. Granted, he's the least popular of the four (at least in Japan; in the West it's a different story), and this — coupled with his difficult to draw/animate design — probably factors into his lack of focus. However, his fortune reverses with Dragon Ball Fighter Z, where he plays a major role in the story.

    E 
  • Eyeshield 21: Lampshaded when Ishimaru (who is himself the focus of a running gag relating to how he is constantly ignored by creator and characters alike: Demoted to Extra) shows up in a later arc for one panel after a year's worth of publication time absent only to lament "I finally show up after a year and my panel is so small..." before disappearing again.

    F 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Story arcs tend rotate focus amongst the main cast.
    • During the Briggs Arc, Mustang and his men are not seen for a while.
    • Rose herself is out of focus in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa. She's a major character in the later episodes of the 2003 anime but only appears in a few scenes of COS. Winry, who has less focus in the 2003 anime as a whole compared to the manga, and Noah, who is Rose's German counterpart, get attention instead.
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    G 
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing usually cycles around the pilots' stories equally... except for the fifth, Wufei Chang, who is often absent for several episodes at a time with nobody knowing what he's up to. It's somewhat made up for by the fact that when he does resurface, it's as a huge Spanner in the Works for whoever is doing whatever at the time.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00
      • A serious problem is that character arcs are terminated very swiftly in order to change focus to a new character. After Allelujah's enormous Shoot the Dog moment in which he wipes out a child-soldier breeding facility, he essentially stops being in the plot in order to facilitate Setsuna. In the second season, Allelujah again finds himself having a short subplot that is not expanded on until the later episodes (and is thin even at that). It gets so bad that during a critical battle (the first offensive of the new 00-Raiser suit), Allelujah's Arios is used solely as a battery to power the Cool Starship. He gets exactly two lines in the episode, consisting of a grand total of three words

        The main problem is that Allelujah's whole role in the plot revolves around his super soldier past and Soma/Marie, having absolutely nothing to do with any of the other main characters or the main plot of Innovators Terrorism and Celestial Being; whichever the plot is focusing on means he's either getting all of the focus or none at all.
      • Most of the characters that survive the end of the first season get demotions in order for the series to switch the focus to Ribbons and his next phase of world conquest, but all the surviving combat characters became members of the A-Laws, so they have adequate time to show their stories. The only surviving user of a non-Celestial Being Gundam, Nena Trinity, however, ends up going from being part of a major story arc to becoming a servant and is almost a non-factor throughout the second season. In fact, the episode that finally gives her adequate airtime and reveals why she went to Liu Mei all those years ago... is the one where she is killed off.

    K 
  • K: The main trio of the first season, now the Silver Clan, are not the focus of season 2. In the first season, they were the main plot, while HOMRA and Scepter 4's stories together formed a B plot. The movie featured Kuroh's relationship with Yukari as a b-plot, with HOMRA's issues as the main story. The second season has more focus on Scepter 4 than previous seasons, and the new antagonists in the Green Clan, with the first season's trio behind that.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!:
    • Wolfram falls victim to this periodically. Although he's physically present in every episode, in some episodes his lines consist mainly of "Yuri!" yelled at regular intervals with different vocal inflections. At the start of the show, he is the loud, over-emotional but undeniably loyal accidental fiancee; by the end of the first season, he narrowly avoids becoming The Artifact when and the plot kicks into high gear after Conrad's apparent betrayal. He usually loses out to big brother Conrad, who gets quite a bit of Character Focus. Wolfram regains some ground at the end of season two, although he is unconscious for most of it.
    • The same goes for Gunter and Gwendal, although it's debatable as to whether they qualify as "main characters." At least Gunter gets the odd day in the limelight to show off.

    L 
  • Love Hina:
    • The series gives us five initial potential love interests, with three more later on, although it's fairly evident that the main character Keitarô gets with Naru in the end. All but one, Mitsune "Kitsune" Konno, get fairly detailed backstories, growth, and Character Development. Kitsune plays a Cool Big Sis role to Keitarô and is a student with Naru, but little else is known about her.
    • Also, the foreign ten-year-old Sarah MacDougal gets focused on for a part of one early volume, then is cast aside for the rest of the story.
    • The OVA takes the focus away from Mutsumi, who is a prominent character in the later episodes of the series as well as the Christmas Special and Spring Special. It wouldn't be so noticeable if she weren't present in so many scenes where she contributes nothing. Sarah and Mei also appear in the OVA as little more than scenery.
  • Love Live!:
    • Despite being one of Honoka's best friends and arguably the one most responsible for putting µ's together in the first place, Umi Sonoda is the only member of the group to not have her own dedicated episode, with every other member having at least one episode to their name.
  • Lucky Star:
    • Miyuki Takara in gradually faded into the background as the show progress through its season. Although she is initially presented as a primary character, noting her prominence in the opening title sequence, by the end, Yutaka gets far more screen time and dialogue. Fans speculate that Miyuki's shallow characterization of being an intelligent, friendly Meganekko didn't mesh well with the series coming to focus more on playing with quirkier personal behaviours and banter. This is despite Yoshimizu apparently having a glasses fetish. Referenced in Hayate the Combat Butler: "We've been left out like a pink-haired, big-breasted girl with glasses."
    • Tsukasa fades out a bit in the last few episodes. She has only one major line in Episode 23.
    • In 2010 episodes of the manga (the anime only got up to Volume 4), the four main girls themselves go somewhat out of focus since they graduate high school and go on to different schools. Konata and Patty of all people are the only two who remain together. The manga has started to focus more on a "new generation" of girls at Ryooh High School.
  • Lupin III frequently takes the spotlight off of some of the characters. It's one way to avoid the Four Lines, All Waiting trope that can happen with multiple characters going in different directions. Goemon is the most constant victim. He'll usually going missing for long periods of time, off training while the others pursue the MacGuffin of the week. Sometimes he'll appear 2/3rds of the way through the story. Fujiko will occasionally make only sporadic appearances, especially if she's sided with the bad guy.
    • In a Real Life Writes the Plot example, Goro Naya was having trouble in the late 2000's, so the writers would come up with injuries and obstacles to make fewer lines for Zenigata. He'll disappear for long periods of time, popping up only for humorous purposes or to conveniently derail Lupin's plans.
    • Lampshaded in Lupin III (Red Jacket): Zenigata is being chauffeured around by another cop, who spies Lupin. Zenigata tells the cop not to bother chasing him, because Zenigata isn't supposed to be in the episode.
    • During Lupin III: Dead or Alive, Goemon and Jigen are out of focus for most of the story, in favour of Pannish and Olèander.

    M 
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: given the size of the cast, it was inevitable that just about every character other than Negi would fall into this at some point. The most notable ones are Kaede (who after a brief day in the limelight chapter early on doesn't get much plot relevance outside of being additional muscle for the group), Anya (who is in focus for all of a dozen or so chapters before getting stuck as a Damsel in Distress), and Ayaka (who doesn't show up at all for quite a while once the Magic World arc starts note ). There's also Zazie, who is never in focus to begin with, despite being one of the series' most mysterious characters.
  • Medaka Box: Akune and Kikaijima (aka the other student council members) often get less and less screen-time as the series delves into more absurdity. Even Zenkichi is not immune.
  • Murasakiiro no Qualia: Yukari is the deuteragonist of the story and her death is the cause for the story's actual plot. Yet as the story proceeds, it focuses more and more on the physics aspect of the idea of parallel universes and how to achieve this, so that Yukari barely appears anymore, aside from a background mention here and there. Trying to prevent her death in any universe is still the focus of the story, but it becomes hard to remember.
  • My Hero Academia: Because of the way the story is told, with Rotating Protagonists and several characters being added each arc, many main characters can fall in this for long periods of time.
    • Uraraka hasn't had a notably relevant role in the plot since the Sports Festival, and had relatively minor roles compared to other main characters in the Hero License Exam, Internship and Camping Trip Arcs.
    • Iida hasn't really been in the forefront of the plot since the Stain Arc, despite some brief importance in the Hero License Exam Arc. He barely shows up during the Internship Arc and is absent from the story for almost a year in the real world.
    • Despite being the Deuteragonist, Bakugo was missing for almost an entire year from the manga during the Internship Arc, in which he did not take part, although he gets a few chapters of focus in the License Retake Course, he, along with the other students, lose focus again in the Pro Hero Arc.
    • In the same vein as Bakugo, Todoroki was absent from the manga for almost an entire year due to the Internship Arc focusing mostly on Midoriya, Kirishima and Mirio. He got more focus later, on the License Retake Course and his relationship with his Abusive Father gets the spotlight during the Pro Hero Arc.
    • Even the main hero Midoriya is himself a background character throughout the Pro Hero Arc and the majority of the Joint Training Arc. He returns during the final round where his team must fight Shinso and the opposing class.

    N 
  • Naruto:
    • You can validly claim that the whole of the Konoha 12 outside of the main Team 7 (Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura) suffers from this for the Shippuden portion. Aside from glimpses of spotlight for Team 10 (Shikamaru, Choji, Ino) during the Hidan and Kakuzu arc and during their reunion with the now-deceased Asuma during the Shinobi War, the development of the Konoha side-characters is virtually non-existent. All Team Guy (Rock Lee, Neji, Tenten) gets is a small bone thrown to them to act as back-up for Team 7 during the Rescue Kazekage arc, and Team 8 (Shino, Kiba, Hinata) has it worse, just receiving a minor role to help the Konoha search party look for Itachi.
    • Lampshaded in an omake at the last episode of a Story Arc, where Temari and Kankuro are both pissed that they aren't going to be showing up again for a long time (they both later reappeared in the manga after being gone for 172 chapters, which is over three years real time).
    • Lampshaded again in a later omake which has Shikamaru noting that for the next Story Arc he's pretty much the main character and Naruto will barely do anything (to Naruto's shock). What makes it even worse is that after that Naruto still doesn't even participate in a fight that goes anywhere for over a year of manga chapters.
    • Lampshaded again in another omake when Neji has a tough time remembering who Hanabi, his cousin, is. Of course, she wasn't intended to be an important character, but even he falls out of focus.
    • Iruka, Naruto's friend, first mentor, and first role model, tends to only show up whenever Naruto reaches an especially significant personal milestone (the few examples in Part II include his return to the village, Jiraiya's death, being accepted by the villagers, and going off to war).
    • After his big introduction and being the focus of an arc, Sai doesn't get much of anything to do except for one single moment in the War Arc, and his attack has absolutely no effect.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Hikari, Toji and Kensuke become gradually less important as the show progresses, until they finally leave the city off-screen due to their homes being destroyed. In interviews, Hideaki Anno even admits that the school setting and its characters became irrelevant to the plot far quicker than he'd initially expected.
    • The manga at least attempts an explanation. Shinji accidentally kills Toji during the Bardiel incident (in the anime, Toji only loses his leg), and subsequently avoids Hikari and Kensuke because he is unable to face them after what he's done. Hikari, after catching a glimpse of Shinji and Kaworu, remarks that "Even if Ikari was with us again... it wouldn't be like before. We wouldn't be like friends anymore."
    • It Gets Worse in the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. By the time of the third movie, the three of them don't even appear at all.
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    O 
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Hazuki and Aiko are part of the original main trio along with Doremi in the first season. Later in the series, both of them (especially Hazuki) are mostly ignored in favor of the other main characters.
  • One Piece: all of the Straw Hats except Luffy have only been seen on two occasions in the manga since Chapter 512, when Kuma teleported them to separate islands; once to briefly show their whereabouts, and once more in a two-part cover page story arc. Granted, the crew gets more focus at the end of the Post-War arc as they prepare for the Time Skip, and then back together after it.
    • Smoker and Tashigi (the Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist pair that chase after the Straw Hats) for the first half of the manga (and therefore, the first half of the Grand Line). This is most likely deliberate, as Smoker's logia abilities mean that Luffy didn't stand a chance in hell at beating him.
    • The Going Merry, the ship of the Straw Hats, is often declared to be a character and a member of the crew in her own right, to the point where her ultimate demise is a very moving scene. However, it becomes somewhat jarring since the all the important arcs generally take place on some island or another and the Going Merry is left behind to not appear for dozens of chapters at a time. It doesn't help that the vast majority of the series' action focuses on battles between individual people, and anything resembling actual naval combat is mostly absent, thus actually giving Merry very little on-screen opportunity to show her credentials as a character in her own right.
    • Chopper, Nami, Sanji, and Brook during the latter half of the Dressrosa Arc. Though they are still a part of the story (since they head to the Straw Hats' next location), Dressrosa is so long (the longest arc in One Piece's history, with 101 chapters, smashing the old record of 66) that they were missing from the action for over a year and a half (from December 2013 to July 2015) while they waited for the rest of the Straw Hats to defeat Doflamingo.
    • The above situation reverses in the Whole Cake Island arc, where they are the active members (specially Sanji, as he needs to be saved from a political marriage arranged by his estranged father), and Zoro, Robin, Franky, and Usopp are out of focus for (purposedly) heading directly to Wano.
    • The Levely arc has every Straw Hat out of focus (they only appear in the first chapter heading to Wano and receiving the news of the Levely being on the way on Mary Geoise and Luffy's "promotion" to Fifth Emperor), and their royal acquaintances and the Revolutionaries take the spotlight this time, with good reason.
    • At least one member of the crew being Out of Focus was common from the Baratie on (excepting, of course, showstoppers like Arlong Park and Alabasta), but it's generally less noticeable because early arcs ran "only" about a dozen episodes max, and the next one would usually rotate the neglected member(s) into the spotlight. To wit:
      • Baratie: Nami, ironically, only becomes relevant when she leaves halfway through - if only because it sets up the next arc.
      • Loguetown: Nami, Usopp, and Sanji are all pretty much left in the background, though the anime adds A Day in the Limelight stories for both Usopp and Sanji (the former's was planned by Oda but got cut for space; the latter was made from whole cloth by the anime writers).
      • Whiskey Peak: Usopp and Sanji sleep through the whole thing, contributing literally nothing to the plot, even tangentially.
      • Little Garden: Zoro, Nami, and Vivi spend most of their screentime stuck in Mr. 3's Death Trap. Sanji seems like this, but despite being isolated from the main plot, contributes some vital Chekhovs Guns for Alabasta.
      • Drum Island: Zoro, Usopp, and Vivi spend most of their time down on earth, while all the real action happens at Wapol's mountaintop castle.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: otaku girl Renge has a whole chapter dedicated to her in the manga, but then she falls into the background. She does still make quite a few cameo appearances such as during the Halloween chapter, and is said to be one of Haruhi's customers. The writer, Bisco Hatori, said she had intended to make Renge a more frequent character, but for whatever reason she never went through with it. On the flip side, the anime adaptation turns Renge into an Ascended Extra and the As You Know, Genre Savvy Fangirl. Bisco-sensei was happy to see Renge get more screentime, even if it does become less frequent toward the anime's finale.

    P 
  • Persona 4: The Animation: In episode 13, the story is mostly told from the perspective of the protagonist's surrogate little sister, Nanako, as she conducts a childish investigation while pretending to be a cartoon detective. Later in episode 14, we see exactly what the Protagonist was up to, and how Nanako saved the man who operated the fireworks (he was choking), and because of the things she didnote , indirectly helped the Protagonist save the life of a mother after she was struck in the head.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Johto arc is famous for this, causing Brock and Misty's characters to be easily summed up as "movable background". The writing staff do end up employing a variation of Rotating Arcs in later seasons, but only two characters have such arcs going at a time — leaving Brock and Max almost eternally Out of Focus and Misty Put on a Bus (and May, Dawn, Iris, and Serena Put on a Bus at their arcs' conclusion). Fan reaction is mixed, to say the least.
      • In the original series, it particularly hits Misty's, Brock's and Tracey's Pokémon hard, as only a few of them get enough screentime to flesh out their characters, while almost all of them lack distinct personalities. While this issue is still present in later seasons, since Advance Generation onwards, all of Brock's Pokémon he catches later on are given distinct character traits, despite their lack of screentime.
      • Iris in the first quarter of the Unova saga, due to having no Pokémon suitable for battle (her Axew is still a baby, her Excadrill doesn't listen to her, and her Emolga is incredibly lazy and undisciplined.) This is changed during the first Tournament Arc of the saga, where she wins the tournament and goes on to have more focus. On the other hand, Cilan also loses focus due to his goal of being an S-Rank Connoiseur requiring less focus, though this is remedied by giving him other interests to focus on.
      • Serena is this before the Showcase arc, due to not having a set goal at the time. It happens again after said arc ended. Because she's too young to train Pokémon and doesn't have a goal either, Bonnie is also this before XYZ, when she becomes a central figure as Squishy's caretaker. Clemont (and his Pokémon besides Chespin and Dedenne) also fades into the background after his Gym Battle, once again due to lacking a real goal.
    • Ash's bird Pokémon fall into this a lot. Pidgeotto, for example, travels through a region with Ash and barely wins any battles at all. Usually it's just called out to search for/pop Team Rocket's balloon, or to blow away one of Weezing's Smokescreen attacks. To its credit, it plays a important part in winning a Gym Battle so Ash can get the Earth Badge. Noctowl suffers from the same issue, being mostly important in only one Gym Battle. Swellow and Staraptor get a little more battling prowess, but they still don't have as much screentime as Ash's other team members. This is likely because there are no Flying-Type attacks that explode; hence no blasting off Team Rocket. Unfezant gets this the worst: with no Team Rocket balloons to pop, and Ash's Unova team featuring a wider array of Pokemon, her appearances are few and far between. Talonflame falls closer to Swellow and Staraptor, getting not much screentime outside of Gym Battles, but participating in 7 of 8 Gym Battles (9 of 10 if we count the two matches Ash lost). Speaking of birds, this even applies to Rowlet, the Grass-type Starter of Alola; while his personality is far more distinct than any of the other birds, he gets far less development than the other Alola Pokémon Ash has caught. This is especially noticeable as Rowlet hasn’t evolved yet despite being the first to be caught, whereas Rockruff and Litten have evolved and Poipole being a focal point in the Ultra Beast arc. Rowlet eventually does ascend back into focus in Ultra Legends howeverf, learning two more new moves and getting two victories against Hau's Dartrix/Decidueye.
    • In the original series, since Ash catches too many Pokémon in Kanto, his Primeape, Kingler, Muk and Tauros suffer greatly from this trope. Primeape gets used to beat Team Rocket at the end of the episode it debuted in, and was used to win a tournament later but was then immediately Put on a Bus and hasn't been seen again since. Kingler is barely seen and participates in only two battles (where it does extremely well). Muk occasionally pops up in some comedic scenes after its first battle, but it is also heavily underused. And since Ash catches thirty Tauros in the Safari Zone, it is unknown which ones he actually gets sent to him and they don't appear very often (although they get more battles than Muk and Kingler). The Tauros herd are basically one and the same Pokémon, just multiplied. Heracross from Johto also suffers this fate, as it gets sent to the lab not long after its capture, but it is given some good moments to shine. Phanpy suffers this in the original series, due to being the latest Pokémon to be captured and it hatched recently there. However, in the Advanced Generation series, Phanpy re-joins the party and eventually evolves.
    • Due to the rotating system in Unova, most of Ash's new Pokémon suffer from this fate, some more than others, especially Palpitoad who only appears in eight episodes. Oshawott, Pignite and Snivy usually avert this and stay in the party for most of the time.
    • Almost all of Dawn's Pokémon get very little screen-time due to a certain Piplup hogging all the limelight. Her Pachirisu in particular suffers from this, getting less screen-time than all of her other Pokémon combined. To make matters even worse, Piplup is seen as a major annoyance by many fans, resulting in it becoming The Scrappy of the Diamond & Pearl era.
    • The Team Rocket trio, especially in the movies. As of Best Wishes, they no longer appear in every episode, and when they do, it's for a short amount of time. Granted, there are many who actually prefer this, as the short time they spend doing important things is usually plot-important, as opposed to the years they've been in every episode solely for comic relief or as chew toys. Downplayed in XY, where they are back to being Pikachu-stealing regulars, though are still occasionally omitted from episodes where they are unnecessary.
    • Sun & Moon sees Ash having his largest group of friends yet with, including him, a group of six. However, it seems clear that the writers either have their favorites or simply can't handle that many characters at once. One of the worst offenders is Mallow who, after her Bounsweet evolved into Steenee, seemed to have been left aside, not having much Character Development and being the only of the Akala trio not to have a Z-Ring, as the Grass Trial was taken by Ash so that his Rowlet could have a Grassium Z. Sophocles doesn't fare much better, either, having little more Character Development than Mallow in spite of having more episodes focused on him than she does. While Lana and Kiawe fare better, they're both outshined by Lillie, who is the only one to receive a fair amount of presence to the story as the Deuteragonist.
  • This is one of the reasons why the Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage trilogy is such a mixed bag as the focus on Original Characters pulls focus from the older teams.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has an odd example. Go find a piece of art—fanart, official, whatever—containing four of the five Magical Girl heroines. Which one is left out? It's Kyoko Sakura, isn't it? Exceptions to this are rare: four of the end-of-episode artworks have four of the girls, and all of them lack Kyoko. The series page image, which is commonly used in promotions, does the same thing. Kyoko is the last main character to appear (in episode 4), but she ultimately gets more screen time than Mami and has a pretty obvious Les Yay thing with Sayaka, so the reasons for her being excluded so often are unclear. It's possible that this is to preserve The Reveal of her first appearance, since most artwork featuring four girls was produced before the fourth episode. After the conclusion of the series, most artwork shifted to either feature all five girls or feature pairs. Mami isn't part of an official duo, so she took a turn being left out until The Movie, which pairs her with Nagisa.

    R 
  • Ranma ½: Ranma often drops by Dr. Tofu's office when he is injured or needs medical advice. A few seasons later and Dr. Tofu vanishes without a trace. As has been noted elsewhere, his relationship with Kasumi was never going to go anywhere and that gag got old quick. Furthermore, Cologne could take over the medical advising role, and she did, giving him nothing left (or at least new) to do.

    S 
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Naru Osaka, ostensibly Usagi's best friend, just kinda disappears by the time the first season ends. It's probably because Usagi had found new friends in all the other Sailor Guardians, and she had unfortunately just been a filler friend for a whole season. Lampshaded and played with in fanworks and extra materials not done by Naoko herself. Fans postulated Naru is some sort of living mana battery (and it even led to a few fics where she becomes the newest and most powerful Sailor Guardian) and when the seasonal villains stop collecting energy, her interaction with them stops as well.
    • Usagi's family, who in the beginning are a very important emotional anchor that just kind of fade away the longer the story went on. Maybe this is why so many fan writers like to ship Hotaru/Sailor Saturn with Shingo.
    • The moon cats (Luna and Artemis) fall out of focus in the final season.
    • Even the (Inner) Guardians themselves are not exempt. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus have vanishingly little involvement in the manga and Sailor Moon Crystal storylines after the first arc. It becomes especially pronounced beginning with the Infinity arc, which focuses on the newly-introduced characters of Haruka, Michiru, and Hotaru and on Usagi and Chibi-Usa's interactions with them, most of which the four Inner Guardians are not present for and have little input on. By the time things get real at the midpoint of the arc, even the role of reacting to and commenting on developing events mostly goes to Chibi-Usa and the Outers, relegating the Inners almost entirely to the background, to the point where the Inners, specifically Moon's bodyguards, don't go with her to confront the Big Bad, but rather leave her with the Outers.
  • Sgt. Frog: Aki is the mother of the Hinata family and thus the 'highest rank' in Keroro's eyes. Of course it's obvious she would out of focus due to her job, which makes her come home rarely, but she is portrayed as a main character, so having her only make an appearance in background events is kinda sad. We also know very little about her.
  • Shugo Chara!: Ever since the "Black Diamond" arc, Yaya Yuiki has the sole purpose to transform into "Dear Baby" once every 3 episodes and then get her butt kicked hilariously, due to her powers being so absurdly useless (Ducks?! Seriously... DUCKS?!) that even Ma-Ti would laugh. She gets almost no screentime aside from embarrassing scenes and her lines in dialogue are limited to baby-like 3rd-person ranting about wanting something. Her guardian Chara, Pepe, is even worse; she does so few things that even completely determining her personality becomes challenging.
  • Slayers:
    • The four major protagonists have only so much of their histories covered (and the importance of said histories only go so far), but virtually nothing is known about Gourry Gabriev, the swordsman of the group. The only thing known about him for sure is that an ancestor of his wielded the Sword of Light and defeated a beast named Zanaffar with it. He has an established backstory, but it's only availible via interviews. When a potential story involving said ancestor falling for an elf girl popped up in a Non-Serial Movie, Haijime Kanzaka jossed it.
    • Taken to an extreme when all four main characters become this in the third anime season; they're used as props to save the world, which is overshadowed by the idiotic Belligerent Sexual Tension of Filia and Xellos and the stories of the dragon race, the Big Bad, and the mooks that work for him. It wouldn't be so bad if the Character Development that the four of them were gaining weren't more or less gone.
  • Soul Eater: The series does this on and off with its characters, shifting the focus frequently. Not so much in the anime, but the manga sometimes has even some of the main protagonists absent for three or more chapters except maybe in a panel or two. It seems more apparent in the manga since it's updated monthly which can cause slower plot progression depending on what's happening (despite the fact the chapters are generally 30+ pages long).
  • Space Dandy: After Season One, Meow and QT start suffering from this. They both don't do much more than just hang around in the background providing commentary until the Character of the Day shows up, after which QT and Meow either disappear or stick around to provide occasional support commentary and nothing else. Between the two, QT has it worse, to the point where if QT were just completely written out of Season 2, it wouldn't change much of anything.

    T 
  • To Love-Ru:
    • Haruna began declining in appearances for quite a while as Yui slowly overtook her spotlight. Understandable, considering the fact that by this time in real-life Kentaro Yabuki's wife, who served as the model for Haruna, divorced him, triggering his Creator Breakdown that eventually resulted in the cancellation of the original series. In later chapters of Darkness, though, she occasionally gets A Day in the Limelight again.
    • Lala was the main heroine in the first series. In the first half of "Darkness", she is more or less a background character.

    W 
  • Takatsuki is the deuteragonist for much of Wandering Son but by high school the manga begins focusing more and more on Nitori, to the point where he can go chapters without being referenced. It doesn't help that Takatsuki is drifting away from Nitori, being in a different school from her and rarely talking despite being basically Platonic Life-Partners.

    Y 
  • Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is quite bad about this, to the degree that if your name isn't Ryuu Yamada, Toranosuke Miyamura, Nene Odagiri or (to a smaller degree) Urara Shiraishi, you shouldn't expect much screen-time except for in your introduction arc and/or in the odd limelight-chapter here and there - even if you actually appear in almost as many the chapters as the aforementioned four.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Honda/Tristan, although Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has made him something of a Ascended Extra. It helps that, by reducing the time of the episodes, his scant few lines give him a higher percentage of the show!
    • One of The Abridged Series' main running gags is how Bakura gets very little screen time. It's almost always his Superpowered Evil Side that shows up in the show.
    • Yugi himself has less screen time than being the eponymous character would suggest. Tropes Are Not Bad though, as he is a Vanilla Protagonist and has crucial role in the final two arcs of the show as a compromise.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Season 3 saw Asuka, Manjoume, and Shou become completely irrelevant as the exchange students steal what would have been their roles in the season.
    • Even before that, Bastion Misawa had been suffering so much from this trope that he willingly joins the evil side despite being able to win his duel. His screen time does not improve.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Characters are regularly Put on a Bus in season 3 for the sake of resolving new problems. The worst offender is Aki (one of the Signers) and Carly (The Lancer Jack's love interest who spent the last arc having a very emotional Break the Cutie / Came Back Strong / Love Makes You Evil storyline dueling against him). This really pissed off the fans (especially the female ones) as they are Ensemble Dark Horse and one of the few well-written Action Girl from the YGO franchise.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has this in the case of Himika Akaba (the mother of the show's Lancer Reiji and Reira and the wife of the Big Bad Leo Akaba who is working against him). Probably because she is an adult in a series filled with Kid Hero. Not that she is particularly missed.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho:
    • Hiei went through this during the Chapter Black arc. He gets Put on a Bus fairly early on, and after returning in time for the assault on the Big Bad's hideout didn't really amount to much. He wouldn't have a bigger role again until the Makai World arc came up.
    • Kuwabara take this role in the Makai World arc where, in an inverted Put on a Bus example, he chose to stay in the human world.
  • Yuru-Yuri, Akari, the supposed protagonist, loses focus to her wacky friends. The anime turns this into a horribly cruel joke, to the point that the camera drifts away from her in the middle of a monologue to focus on something more interesting, and her friends need to write her name on their hands to remember who she is. In group shots, her face is obscured most of the time, be it from some unfortunately-placed object or another character blocking her view without knowing it. They also do it from the first episode, for no reason.


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