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The Hero (or primary POV player character) is temporarily taken out of the action in some plot-driven involuntary way, usually a scripted accident, disease, captivity or even death. The plot temporarily switches to the short term goal of coping with this incident (typically finding, saving, healing, and/or reviving the hero) before the main plot/goal is taken up again. This plot development gives other people a chance to shine and demonstrates that the heroes aren't covered in Plot Armor. A new leader character is often designated in the meantime, but the hero always returns to lead the team again.

This can happen in a wide variety of configurations and serves many purposes. The Apprentice has to step up and demonstrate what she's learned when her master is injured in a fight. The bond between members of an Action Duo or Five-Man Band is shown and often strengthened when one member is grabbed by the Villains. In ensemble works, this is one way one protagonist takes the lead from another.

Note that the character is often still present in the work, even if the POV leaves them for a time. For live-action media, this may mean the actor portraying the character isn't seen for some time, and there may be other real world reasons for this, yet works under this trope still have the character as a presence in-universe (and the focus of a subplot). Instances involving death are either mistakes, ruses, of very short duration, or occur in settings in which death isn't always permanent. Think of this as the heroic version of The President's Daughter.

Contrast Achilles in His Tent, where the Hero just decides he has had enough and quits until events force him to return. Contrast Fever Dream Episode, which never even moves away from the character, just moves the location of the action to inside his mind. Compare and contrast Sick Episode: those instances in which the illness is severe enough to take the hero out for a time could count (when bringing about a recovery/cure is a new subplot), but those in which he soldiers on regardless would not. See also And Now for Someone Completely Different and Ten-Minute Retirement.

Examples of Hero on Hiatus include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens all the damned time in Dragonball Z with its main character Goku, who is out of action pretty much just as often as he's onscreen.

Comic Books

  • In The Incredible Hulk the Hulk is presumed killed by a Gamma bomb that went off in the town of Centerville even though they Never Found the Body. There is an inquiry which gives the Hulk's supporting players some time in the limelight, before revealing that the Hulk is alive and well and living in Jarella's World, where the resident magicians have used their magic to summon the Hulk coincidentally just before the bomb blew up.
    • In another couple of issues the Hulk had a Heroic BSOD and in the meantime She Hulk was the lead character.


  • Happens frequently in the Deryni works, effectively swapping the members of the heroic ensemble. Notably:
    • Rhys Thuryn is drugged by Tavis O'Neill and Prince Javan Haldane in Camber the Heretic. They question Rhys about Javan's fuzzy memories of his first empowerment ritual, then set Rhys free to join Camber/Alister against the Regents. Rhys' merasha hangover contributes to his accidental death in the cathedral.
    • Kelson passed out after a portion of his empowerment ritual in Deryni Rising. He briefly came to long enough to deal with a disturbance and protect Morgan from scrutiny, then passed out again.
    • Derry is severely injured while guarding Kelson's quarters in Deryni Rising; he was already at a disadvantage from an injury to his hand sustained defending Morgan from assassins days earlier. Morgan, distressed at the possibility of losing him, goes to his side and attempts to Heal Derry--with success!
    • Morgan after being drugged and abducted in Deryni Checkmate. He was partially functional for a bit, but Duncan came to his rescue, led the way to hide out at the ruins of Saint Neot's, and put Morgan to bed so he could sleep off the drug's effects while Duncan searched for a Transfer Portal.
    • Dhugal is beaten and concussed when he's taken captive by the Mearans in The Bishop's Heir. He's held, together with Bishop Henry Istelyn, for several days.
    • Morgan again when he collapses from overextending himself to Call on campaign in The King's Justice. Kelson insists on sharing the energy drain and puts Morgan to sleep for the night, and they alternate sending Calls each night after that.
    • Nigel passes out from his partial empowerment ritual in The King's Justice. He comes to for a time, but Richenda has him drink some wine and he's sent to bed to sleep off the aftereffects.
    • Duncan after being tortured in The King's Justice. He stays with the combined Haldane-Corwyn-Cassan-Transha armies, riding in a litter for a few days.
    • Kelson from injuries sustained in a fall from a cliff trail in The Quest for Saint Camber. Dhugal, who fell with him and also sustained some damage, gives him medical care before they try to find their way back to civilzation, but Kelson isn't fully functional until Dhugal successfully Heals his injuries.
  • Happens in some of Edward Marston's novels:
    • In The Roaring Boy, playwright Edmund Hoode is arrested after the company stages a play based on an in-universe court case. Hoode had revised a play given them by some interested parties and put his name on it at their suggestion, but other interested parties dislike the notion that the people hanged for murder weren't guilty. The company has to get Hoode out of prison, as well as solve the original crime and more recent ones that follow their production.
    • In The Devil's Apprentice, lead actor Lawrence Firethorn is repeatedly laid low by illnesses that mimic the ones suffered by his character in the company's new play. His wife and the company have to recast his parts, get medical help, and nurse him back to health.
    • In The Vagabond Clown, resident clown Barnaby Gill breaks his leg during a performance and has to be temporarily replaced with another comic actor who is subsequently murdered. Later still, the leading man of the troupe Lawrence Firethorne is abducted, forcing the cast to cover for him during a performance and search for him offstage.
    • In The Counterfiet Crank, resident playwright Edmund Hoode is laid low by a mysterious illness and the troupe solicits work from a new playwright while still encouraging their colleague to recover.
  • In Michael Robertson's The Brothers of Baker Street, barrister Reggie Heath produces an alibi for a Black Cab driver accused of a robbery-double homicide. Reggie later goes in search of his recent client when another corpse turns up and is arrested at the scene of the client's murder. The action turns to his brother Nigel and their sometime girlfriend Laura, who have to get him out on bail so the trio can work to clear Reggie of his own murder charge.

Live-Action Television

  • The series Magnum, P.I. was mostly about Thomas Magnum's casework, but more than once an episode revolved around Thomas being missing and /or injured, giving T.C., Rick, and Higgins their time in the spotlight. Notably:
    • "Solo Flight" has Thomas on a hike in the mountains, only to get trapped under wreckage from a plane shot down during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    • "Home from the Sea" begins with Thomas on his surf kayak when he's swept off it by the wake of a passing boat. He treads water for an extended period while his friends discover he's missing and go in search of him.


  • When Bud Collyer, the voice actor for the Superman radio show went on vacation, they'd incapacitate Superman with Kryptonite and bring in Batman as a substitute hero.

Video Games

  • Chrono Trigger: Crono dies fighting Lavos. But he is revived (or unkilled) thanks to the Chrono Trigger.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Terra flies off after getting in touch with her Esper side. Luckily, the team can find her pretty easily by following the trail of destruction. Later, the entire playable party can be scattered to the ends of the earth and you can decide to either collect them all or just the minimum three necessary to take on Kefka.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Cloud wanders off and goes for a swim in the life stream. By the time you find him, he has serious mako poisoning and is incoherent.
  • Xenogears: Fei is temporarily unavailable after he almost drowns. Even after you get him medical treatment, he takes a while to wake up.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: There is a section where you set up a secondary group that will board Goto's yacht.
  • Dragon Age Origins: There is a section where the Player Character is in prison, and if you choose to wait for rescue, you will have to control a few of your other party characters and bust yourself out.
  • Mass Effect 2: You control Joker in order to save the Normandy from the Collectors.
  • Max Payne 2: The player temporarily take control of Mona Sax after Max falls out of a building and Mona has to protect him until he regains consciousness.
  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron: After your boss-fight with Armaros, Enoch gets swallowed by the Darkness while rescuing a little girl, and Armaros - remembering the friendship they once held, and impressed by Enoch's selfless action, has to dive into the darkness to find and cure him. He's noticeably different to play as than Enoch, but far from underpowered...
  • Superstar Saga: When Mario eats the Invincishroom and gets sick Luigi must travel alone to go find the cure.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: After Pit burns up his wings saving the Anti-Hero, Dark Pit, we spend a level as Dark Pit trying to get his counterpart back in the game so as to avoid owing him anything. Gameplay-wise, there's no difference, but this level is a good deal snarkier than most others. Not an unimpressive feat, considering the rest of the game.


  • From The Order of the Stick we have the whole arc where Roy is rather more than just injured, as he is very, very dead (and rotting) instead. It's complicated, but some of the other heroes were working to revive him (in a roundabout sort of way), while the rest were trying to get back together after an unfortunate party-split. And one in particular was... just getting into very deep trouble indeed.
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