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Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head
—The Beatles, "A Day in the Life."
Just what it says, an episode that follows the characters around on their normal routine. Make this the focus of an entire series, and you have Slice of Life.
Some stories place a Day in the Life at the very beginning to establish The Protagonist as one of the Normal People the audience can relate to, before things go downhill fast. In such cases, a Day in the Life can be seen as an action-free Batman Cold Open.
Sometimes it is framed as a documentary. Can lead to A Day in the Limelight for minor characters, and is often used for character development for them. Can also be a Breather Episode in particularly serious arcs. May contain a Morning Routine.
- Seinfeld's parking lot episode is probably the best example of taking observational humor into a dramatic format. Seinfeld specialized in taking the logic of a Day in the Life episode to its logical extreme.
- The last episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete is a Day in the Life episode that underscores the goofiness of its milieu. Another series that ended with such an ep was the short-lived WB cartoon Road Rovers.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation did it in "Data's Day."
- Stargate SG-1 did one in the eighth-season episode "Zero Hour", as we get to see Jack O'Neill getting used to the day-to-day work of running the SGC just after his promotion.
- For a Mutant Enemy example, go to the Angel episode "Harm's Way. If you see the secondary character Harmony get up in the morning, work, go to Happy Hour, then wake up the next day with a hangover and a dead stranger, you have a Day in the Life. The episode is also A Day in the Limelight.
- Xena: Warrior Princess gently parodied it in the aptly-named episode "A Day in the Life" that followed the mythological hero around on a day when she wasn't getting in adventures.
- M*A*S*H relied on this storyline for multiple episodes, most using "the letter home" Framing Device to demonstrate the characters' lives in Korea, but occasionally other documents (Hawkeye's will, for example).
- It's a good way to spotlight a minor character, as in the episode of The Tick (animation) where they follow Sewer Urchin around on his underground routine (which is far more fraught and dangerous than they thought). This provides a bit of Retcon and Backstory for the Sewer Urchin. Plus, very funny. This episode is also A Day in the Limelight.
- Episode 9 of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya. It's so much a Day in the Life that there are long, silent sections of a character reading a book. Apparently, it was intentionally written as such in order to contrast with the traditional Grand Finale episodes in anime. Note that this episode is chronologically the last in the series.
- This is also the only episode where Kyon does not narrate, and he spends significant portions out doing errands with no view from his perspective.
- Battlestar Galactica Reimagined has an episode entitled "A Day in the Life," although the events taking place in it are something less than typical; a better example might be the episode "Final Cut" (which is also A Day in the Limelight for a few characters).
- The Law and Order fourth season episode, 'Mayhem', which focuses on the detectives as they investigate several cases over the course of one day as opposed to just one case over the episode; the prosecutors barely appear.
- Ghost in the Shell :Stand Alone Complex had an episode following the exploits of a rogue Tachikoma, which basically meant helping a little girl find her dog.
- A number of the chapters in the Ayla stories in the Whateley Universe are like this: she goes to classes, gets powers testing, tries to get really good food in the cafeteria, chats with side characters...
- Babylon 5 had the episode "A View From The Gallery" about two maintenance workers' workday.
- Episode 10 of Akikan! showed a day in the life of the three Akikan girls at home. Melon tried to deal with the heat, Yell cleaned up the apartment and Budoko played make-believe. No wacky harem antics, no school scenes, final destination.
- AH Dot Com the Series "A Day in the Life of G.Bone", which was also an example of A Day in the Limelight.
- House episode 6x14 "5 to 9" follows a day in the life of Lisa Cuddy. Arguably, 6x10 "Wilson" does so for Wilson as well.
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is about one day in the life of a gulag zeke.
- Clerks, Mallrats, Clerks II.
- The episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se" from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Toph and Katara bond during girls' day out, Iroh helps people and mourns his dead son, Aang creates a zoo in about two minutes, Sokka stumbles on a poetry club and ends up in a haiku battle, Zuko goes out on a very awkward date, and Momo goes looking for Appa.
- In first chapter of The Longest Journey, April goes about a rather normal day of her life, during which the player can get familiar with the setting. Only a couple of strange things happen, but the first one doesn't break the flow much and the other ones happen in choice-dependent ending cinematics of the chapter.
- The first issue of Astro City was a day in the life of Samaritan, that series' Superman Expy.
- The "Diamond and Vindicator Adopt a Baby" (in which the superheroine Diamond and her partner, the superheroine Vindicator, both feeling their biological clock ticking, adopt a baby girl), "Rebound and the Nosy Reporter" (in which Rebound romances a reporter who at first seems only interested in digging up dirt about him and his teammates), "Achilles Has a Heart-to-Heart With His Dad" (in which heroic Achilles has an emotional discussion about life with his father, the Evil Overlord known as Lord Doom over a game of chess) and "Ultra-Man Builds a House" (in which Ultra-Man returns to his home town to do just that) storylines from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe.
- In the Kung Fu: The Legend Continues episode "May I Ride With You?" Caine tries to get to know his son Peter better by spending a day accompanying him on his rounds as a cop. Peter returns the favor a season later in "May I Walk With You?"
- Issue 8 of The New Teen Titans featured a story titled "A Day in the Lives" which followed all the Titans except Robin during a normal day.
- It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube describes a good day for a gangster.
- Everything Else's "Harassing The Conman" tells the story of a day at Valley Fair in which a friend of the band has a run in with the law.
- In Sinfest, Pooch and Percy have one.