Created By: Westrim on May 5, 2013 Last Edited By: Westrim on June 4, 2014
Troped

Critical Staffing Shortage

Designed to be operated by hundreds, now there are only a few

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Trope
A ship, facility, city, or some other location used to have a staff numbering in the hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands. Now it's lucky to hit double digits, and the people available probably missed the orientation video.

There are almost as many reasons for the drastic reduction in staff as there are examples, ranging from benign to apocalyptic, but generally the short staff themselves are either a few original members that somehow missed or were spared by the circumstances or newcomers that arrived after a period of abandonment. Time may be spent trying to get equipment back up and running, keeping malfunctions from progressing, or looking for information on the reason for the current situation. This can lead to tension and danger since there aren't enough people to do everything, and some of those things are probably keeping them from dying.

Compare/contrast Oddly Small Organization and Crew of One.

Often a justification for The Main Characters Do Everything. Has nothing to do with the trope Skeleton Crew, since even though that name often refers to this kind of thing, it involves actual skeletons.


Examples

Film
  • In Army of Darkness the castle is evacuated leaving 60 men to fight an army of the undead that outnumber them about 10 to 1. They have to keep moving defenses from wall to wall as they simply don't have enough people to effectively guard each side at the same time.
  • In Jurassic Park most of the usual staff is sent to the mainland in advance of a hurricane, leaving Hammond and a few others behind, about half of them visitors and away from the main facility. They still expect to be okay, but then the power goes out and all hell breaks loose. In the book, the park is intentionally understaffed even before the hurricane to save on personnel costs.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • In the first film Jack Sparrow and Will Turner steal a ship meant for a whole British battalion. During an argument Jack nearly flings Will into the ocean, but lets him live because just two people crewing the ship is cutting it close as it is.
    • In the second film it's inverted. The Black Pearl's crew is imprisoned in two halves, and one pirate blurts out that the ship can make do with a crew of just six, prompting a race by both halves to escape first. Later on Jack hires a ton of unqualified surplus sailors not because the ship needs them but because he needs 99 souls to give to Davy Jones in exchange for his own soul going free.
  • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Scotty has jerry-rigged the ship to operate with only five crew. The Enterprise is supposed to have a crew of hundreds. At least the automation breaks down later. Scotty says "The automation system's overloaded. I didn't expect to take us into combat, ya know...!" It's understandable that simply moving in a straight line could be done with a far smaller crew than usually necessary.

Literature
  • The Night's Watch in A Song of Ice and Fire was once comprised of thousands of fighters who were able to man all 40 castles holding the Wall against the wildlings and White Walkers from the north. By the time the series takes place, the Watch consists of a few hundred men who can only hold three castles, while the rest have been completely abandoned, which bites them mightily in the ass when the forces in the North mount a massive invasion for the first time in centuries.
  • In The Colour of Magic, the Wyrmberg's halls are mostly deserted, their contents rusting and covered with dust. This is because the level of ambient magic is weaker than it used to be, limiting the ruling family's dragon-summoning powers, which have also weakened over the generations.
  • In Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens, there is the interesting example of the Witchfinder Army, once a thriving paramilitary organisation but by the time of the book reduced to two. However, both Heaven and Hell believe the WA is at least regimental-sized...
  • Terry Pratchett
    • In Going Postal, it is revealed that the Royal Post Office in Ankh-Morpork, formerly a city institution employing thousands, has atrophied with the years to a point where only two men remain - an elderly eccentric and a young boy who could be described as a little bit strange. The job of the new manager is to get it up and running again - with a staff of only two men and a cat.
    • And the City Night Watch, made virtually redundant by the legalising of crime, is reduced to four men to police a city of a million. Two incompetents and an idealist, commanded by an alcoholic...
  • In Island in the Sea of Time, the island of Nantucket suddenly finds itself short-staffed in every single aspect of infrastructure after the island is thrown back in time to the Bronze Age.
  • The final act of The Hunt for Red October (at least the book version) gives some additional difficulties to the people that remain on the titular missile sub because they're a half-dozen people handing a ship designed to be run by a couple of hundred. An earlier sub-plot excised from the movie version involved the running of an about-to-be-decommissioned American sub to the spot where the Red October was to be "sunk" and be destroyed in its stead, while also being only staffed by about a dozen officers who had to do multiple duties, like an engineer working as a cook when off-shift.
  • In one Judge Dee story, the judge is trapped by a flood in a country estate under siege by bandits. The inhabitants bitterly note that there used to be dozens of men hired just to guard it, now they'll be lucky if they have enough rusty lances and bows to equip all the old men and women that took refuge there.
  • In David Gemmell's Legend, the Drenai fortress of Dros Delnoch is supposed to be manned during wartime by 40,000 soldiers. However, the current Drenai leadership has focused more on domestic matters rather than maintaining a strong military presence on the borders. When a massive Nadir army lays siege to Dros Delnoch, the fortress only has 10,000 under-trained and badly led soldiers to hold the walls.

Live-Action TV
  • Andromeda. The Andromeda Ascendant originally had a crew of thousands, but in the first episode everyone but Captain Dylan Hunt either abandons ship or is killed as it gets stuck in orbit around a black hole. For most of the series the crew consists of the captain and the five (later four) former crew of a salvage ship who pulled the ship away from the black hole 300 years later (due to Time Dilation). Other characters join as well, and the crew varies between 6 and 7 for most of the rest of the series. Andromeda's A.I. can fill most crew roles herself so they get by, but it's pointed out several times that the ship is way less effective in combat — or anything else — than it would be fully crewed.
  • On Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) the Galactica was about to be decommissioned so the Colonial Navy already stripped it of its best personnel and it is left with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who were meant to be retired or discharged after the Galactica is scrapped. When the war with the Cylons starts, combat losses makes this problem even worse. New personnel are recruited from the civilian fleet and at one point Adama has to cut a deal with the prisoners on a prison ship in order to use them as needed labor. There is almost a mutiny because skilled people are kept in undesirable job positions because their skillset is too valuable to allow them to be promoted or transferred out.
  • In one Doctor Who episode it is established that the TARDIS is designed to be flown by six Time Lords at once, not by a single Time Lord. This is supposed to be the reason why the TARDIS doesn't always go where (or when) The Doctor wants it to go.
  • In Game of Thrones, as in A Song of Ice and Fire, the Night's Watch can now only staff 3 of their 40 castles.
  • M*A*S*H
    • On a couple of occasions the nurses are all shipped off because of a potential bombing (or other) attack by North Koreans, so the doctors and enlisted personnel have to do all the stuff the nurses usually do. At one point even a civilian bartender gets roped into nurse duty during an operation.
    • Another time, due to a flu epidemic Hawkeye was the only doctor who wasn't bedridden. He had to jump from operating table to operating table doing bits of surgeries while the nurses helped much more than usual. Margaret pretty much performed an operation all by herself, but not without a lot of coaching and encouragement from Hawkeye.
  • The Walking Dead
    • Dr. Jenner is the only one left of the hundreds of doctors that once staffed the CDC.
    • Later on the cast settles for a time in a prison that probably had a couple hundred inmates and guards. At their peak of Red Shirts there are maybe three dozen. This is a real problem in the fourth season when there just aren't enough able-bodied people around to do everything.
  • Red Dwarf starts with over 1,000 crew. After almost all of them are killed by a nuclear accident, the ship is manned by two former vending machine technicians (one of whom is dead), a highly evolved cat, and a sanitation droid.
  • Stargate SG-1 has several occasions where the main cast happens upon an abandoned facility and most get it operational enough to complete whatever the objective is.
  • Stargate Atlantis varies from the norm in a couple of ways; the new residents of the city are more numerous than usual, probably in the neighborhood of 100 or more, and they are explicitly prepared for an abandoned city, with the best people for the job.
  • In Stargate Universe less than 50 people arrive on a ship designed for many more - but it's a good thing they number so few, because the ship is falling apart after millions of years despite its Ragnarok-Proofing, and they are far less prepared than the expedition to Atlantis. Most of their time is spent trying to keep systems failures from killing them.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • The series begins with both the Voyager and the Maquis ship sustaining heavy casualties while far away from Federation space. The only way Voyager can be operated is by merging the two crews and having skilled Maquis take over key positions on the ship. Notably, neither crew has a doctor or even a medic left alive so the Emergency Medical Hologram has to be used all the time which it was not really designed for. Over the course of the series the EMH develops a distinct personality and starts fighting for his rights as a person.
    • Occurs in an episode where crewman keep disappearing while aliens appear in their place. Before too much longer they're down to a skeleton crew and then it turns out it's a ploy to take over the ship, beaming crew members off one at a time and replacing them with their own people.
  • Lampshaded several times in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Remember Me", after all the crew has disappeared except Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher.
Dr. Crusher: It's all perfectly logical to you, isn't it? The two of us roaming about the galaxy in the flagship of the Federation. No crew at all.
Captain Picard: We've never needed a crew before.
Dr. Crusher: What is the primary mission of the starship Enterprise?
Computer: To explore the galaxy.
Dr. Crusher: Do I have the necessary skills to complete that mission alone?
Computer: Negative.
Dr. Crusher: Then why am I the only crew-member? (the computer makes a strange noise) Aha, got you there.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati. A radio consultant is hired by Mama Carlson to report on the station. Everyone acts out of character for him so his report will be useless. At one point he says that Herb, a sales "staff" of one, is horribly overworked and needs an entire staff under him.

Video Games
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Grey Warden force in Ferelden is dangerously small for two reasons. In the Back Story, the Wardens were banished from the country by a Fereldan king after a rogue Warden-Commander raised a rebellion against him; they were only allowed back 30 years before game begins. Furthermore, in the first story mission of Origins, most Fereldan Warden recruits are killed by the Darkspawn horde when the paranoid general Loghain leaves them and the reigning king to die, thus leaving the country mostly unprepared to fight The Horde.
  • A game mechanic in Pharaoh, and quite possibly the single biggest headache in the game. Services that have less than full staff work slower, and since housing and industry depend on these services walking past, this creates a Catch-22 Dilemma: housing is devolving because the lack of services, so people are kicked out. This lowers your population, and in turn the amount of available workers, which means services suffer, which means devolving housing, which... Compounded by the fact that some buildings don't work at all with even a single worker missing, to the point where the game considers that up 5% unemployment (out of thousands) to be fine, a mere 10 workers is a major cause for alarm (when it's quite common to see shortages in the hundreds).

    Thankfully, there are several Acceptable Breaks from Reality to deal with this: workers are taken from the workforce as a whole, so closing a mine frees up workers for farming or training musicians, you can order entire sectors to be fully staffed at the cost of others, and you only need a single house near the industry to get workers to it instead of a fully-supported neighborhood.
  • Portal's Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Never mind staff, the only actual living person in the entire game is Chell. Justified because Gla DOS runs the entire facility (which is more or less self-maintaining barring Wheatley's idiocy) and she killed everyone else.
  • Happens to the Normandy in Mass Effect 2 after the Collectors abduct the entire crew minus the Player Characters and Joker.
  • Implied in the SimCity games when you set the budget for services really really low.

Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • May 5, 2013
    JonnyB
    Lampshaded several times in the Star Trek The Next Generation episode, "Remember Me", after all the crew has disappeared except Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher.
    Dr. Crusher: It's all perfectly logical to you, isn't it? The two of us roaming about the galaxy in the flagship of the Federation. No crew at all.
    Cptn Picard: We've never needed a crew before.

    Dr. Crusher: What is the primary mission of the starship Enterprise?
    Computer: To explore the galaxy.
    Dr. Crusher: Do I have the necessary skills to complete that mission alone?
    Computer: Negative.
    Dr. Crusher: Then why am I the only crew-member? (the computer makes a strange noise) Aha, got you there.
  • May 5, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • The Andromeda Ascendant originally had a crew of thousands, but in the first episode everyone but Captain Dylan Hunt either abandons ship or is killed as it gets stuck in orbit around a black hole. For most of the series the crew consists of the captain and the five (later four) scavengers who pulled the ship away from the black hole 300 years later (Time Dilation). However Andromeda's AI can fill most crew roles herself so they get by.

    Ok seriously, there's this thing called asterisks, use them.
  • May 5, 2013
    Tallens
    • Occurs in an episode of Star Trek Voyager where crewman keep disappearing whiule aliens appear in their place. Before too much longer they're down to a skeleton crew and then it turns our it's been a ploy to take over the ship, beaming crew members off one at t time and replacing them with their own people.

    • Happens in Jurassic Park when most of the usual staff is sent to the mainland leaving Hammond, and a few others behind when Nedry shuts the fences down and all hell breaks loose.
  • May 5, 2013
    DunDun
    This sounds like a supertrope of a staff shortage as it's currently written. "The whole island is understaffed" is not the same as "The secretaries are understaffed."

    Also, what does this mean for the story? for the characters? The fact that there's fewer staff on the job during the story means what for the audience? for the legitimacy of the plot? As it's written, this sounds like People Sit On Chairs. I've worked at a coffee shop where management decided to intentionally kept fewer-than-normal employees scheduled on Sundays; where normally there were five or six, there were two or three, and trust me when I say that it completely changes one's work ethic. The lazy bastard employee knows they cannot act like that today while the give-it-their-all employee burns out early and acts like a lazy bastard employee the rest of the day.

    And that's just for when its on a microscale. You're talking about the macroscale here. What does this do to the group in the story? It's important for the trope to keep it away from TRS down the line.
  • May 6, 2013
    Koveras
    I think we have a "deficient situation" trope here, which is basically a Man vs. Situation conflict type setup. If a facility/organization is understaffed, it usually cannot perform its functions well, so if it is called upon to perform its purported task at that moment, it will struggle to do so, forming a solid plot base. Case in point:

    • The Night Watch in A Song Of Ice And Fire was once comprised of thousands of fighters who were able to man all 40 castles holding the Wall against the wildlings and White Walkers from the north. By the time the series takes place, the Watch consists of a few hundred men who can only hold three castles, while the rest have been completely abandoned, which bites them mightily in the ass when the forces in the North mount a massive invasion for the first time in centuries.
  • May 6, 2013
    Melkior
    In one of the recent Dr Who stories (I forget the name), it was established that the TARDIS is designed to be flown by six Time Lords at once, not by a single Time Lord. This is supposed to be the reason why the TARDIS doesn't always go where (or when) The Doctor wants it to go.
  • May 6, 2013
    Chabal2
    A game mechanic in the City Building game Pharaoh: Lack of workers causes massive shortages of goods and services throughout your city, which causes housing to regress to a lower state (which hold less people, meaning less workers, which...). This is dangerous to the point that the game considers it a serious problem that ten workers are needed out of a population of thousands.
  • May 7, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • MASH:
      • On a couple of occasions the nurses are all shipped off because of a potential bombing (or other) attack by North Koreans, so the doctors and enlisted personnel have to do all the stuff the nurses usually do. At one point even a civilian bartender gets roped into nurse duty during an operation.
      • Another time, due to a flu epidemic Hawkeye was the only doctor who wasn't bedridden. He had to jump from operating table to operating table doing bits of surgeries while the nurses helped much more than usual. Margaret pretty much performed an operation all by herself, but not without a lot of coaching and encouragement from Hawkeye.
  • May 8, 2013
    StrixObscuro
    Literature
    • In Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens, there is the interesting example of the Witchfinder Army, once a thriving paramilitary organisation but by the time of the book reduced to two. However, both Heaven and Hell believe the WA is at least regimental-sized...
  • May 9, 2013
    SharleeD
    • In The Colour Of Magic, the Wyrmberg's halls are mostly deserted, their contents rusting and covered with dust. This is because the level of ambient magic is weaker than it used to be, limiting the ruling family's dragon-summoning powers, which have also weakened over the generations.
  • May 9, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    In Star Trek III The Search For Spock Scotty has jerry-rigged the ship to operate with only five crew. The Enterprise is supposed to have a crew of hundreds. At least the automation breaks down later. Scotty says "The automation system's overloaded. I didn't expect to take us into combat, ya know...!" It's understandable that simply moving in a straight line could be done with a far smaller crew than necessary.
  • May 9, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • Portal's Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Never mind staff, the only actual living person in the entire game is Chell. Justified because Gla DOS runs the entire facility (which is more or less self-maintaining barring Wheatley's idiocy) and she killed everyone else.
  • May 9, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Red Dwarf starts with over 1000 crew. After almost all of them are killed by a nuclear accident, the ship is manned by two former vending machine technicians (one of whom is dead), a highly evolved cat, and a sanitation droid.
  • April 30, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • In the first Pirates Of The Caribbean film, Jack Sparrow and Will Turner steal a ship meant for a whole British battalion. During an argument Jack nearly flings Will into the ocean, but lets him live because just two people crewing the ship is cutting it close as it is.
      • In the second film it's inverted. The Black Pearl's crew is imprisoned in two halves, and one pirate blurts out that the ship can make do with a crew of just six, prompting a race by both halves to escape first. Later on Jack hires a ton of unqualified surplus sailors not because the ship needs them but because he needs 99 souls to give to Davy Jones in exchange for his own soul going free.
  • April 30, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    The Jurassic Park example might want to point out that the park is intended to be understaffed, as Hammond wants most of processes to be run by computers so he can make a profit and not have to pay too many people. Unfortunately, the central computer turns out to be a glitch filled maze made by a disgruntled programmer, meaning when it fails the whole park fails.
  • April 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare/contrast Oddly Small Organization
  • April 30, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Live Action TV
    • In Game Of Thrones, the Night's Watch can now only staff 3 of their [something teen] castles.

  • April 30, 2014
    boone
    I think you should mention how this can create tension - the understaffing means a ship or city isn't as powerful as it needs to be. And also some of the dramatic tropes understaffing can cause - e.g. No OSHA Compliance, Explosive Consoles, as many systems have been Macgyverred.

    Can be the second half of The Great Repair plot, where the cast actually have to operate the thing.

  • May 1, 2014
    nielas
    • On Battlestar Galactica Reimagined the Galactica was about to be decommissioned so the Colonial Navy already stripped it of its best personnel and it is left with a Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits who were meant to be retired or discharged after the Galactica is scrapped. When the war with the Cylons starts, combat loses makes this problem even worse. New personnel is recruited from the civilian fleet and at one point Adama has to cut a deal with the prisoners on a prison ship in order to use them as needed labour. There is almost a mutiny because skilled people are kept in undesirable job positions because their skillset is too valuable to allow them to be promoted or transferred out.
  • May 1, 2014
    randomsurfer
    WKRP In Cincinnati: A radio consultant is hired by Mama Carlson to report on the station. Everyone acts out of character for him so his report will be useless. At one point he says that Herb, a sales "staff" of one, is horribly overworked and needs an entire staff under him.
  • May 1, 2014
    nielas
    • Star Trek Voyager begins with both the Voyager and the Maquis ship sustaining heavy casualties while far away from Federation space. The only way Voyager can be operated is by merging the two crews and having skilled Maquis take over key positions on the ship. Most notably neither crew has a doctor or even a medic left alive so the Emergency Medical Hologram has to be used all the time which it was not really designed for. Over the course of the series the EMH develops a distinct personality and starts fighting for his rights as a person.
  • May 1, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced an example + did some formatting.
  • May 1, 2014
    AgProv
    More Terry Pratchett examples: in the Discworld:

    • In Going Postal, it is revealed that the Royal Post Office in Ankh-Morpork, formerly a city institution employing thousands, has atrophied with the years to a point where only two men remain - an elderly eccentric and a young boy who could be described as a little bit strange. The job of the new manager is to get it up and running again - with a staff of only two men and a cat.
    • And the City Night Watch, made virtually redundant by the legalising of crime, is reduced to four men to police a city of a million. Two incompetents and an idealist, commanded by an alcoholic...
  • May 5, 2014
    Chabal2
    • A game mechanic in Pharaoh, and quite possibly the single biggest headache in the game. Services that have less than full staff work slower, and since housing and industry depend on these services walking past, this creates a Catch 22 Dilemma: housing is devolving because the lack of services, so people are kicked out. This lowers your population, and in turn the amount of available workers, which means services suffer, which means devolving housing, which... Compounded by the fact that some buildings don't work at all with even a single worker missing, to the point where the game considers that up 5% unemployment (out of thousands) to be fine, a mere 10 workers is a major cause for alarm (when it's quite common to see shortages in the hundreds).
      • Thankfully, there are several Acceptable Breaks From Reality to deal with this: workers are taken from the workforce as a whole, so closing a mine frees up workers for farming or training musicians, you can order entire sectors to be fully staffed at the cost of others, and you only need a single house near the industry to get workers to it instead of a fully-supported neighborhood.
  • May 5, 2014
    Arivne
    Edit: Moved example to Crew Of One and merged it with the entry there.
  • May 5, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Literature
    • In Island In The Sea Of Time, the island of Nantucket suddenly finds itself short-staffed in every single aspect of infrastructure after the island is thrown back in time to the Bronze Age.

    Video Games
    • In Dragon Age Origins, the Grey Wardens are left seriously under-staffed in Fereldan thanks to Loghain's decision to leave them to die at Ostagar.
  • May 6, 2014
    nielas
    • In David Gemmell's Legend, the Drenai fortress of Dros Delnoch is supposed to be manned during wartime by 40,000 soldiers. However, the current Drenai leadership has focused more on domestic matters rather than maintaining a strong military presence on the borders. When a massive Nadir army lays siege to Dros Delnoch, the fortress only has 10,000 under-trained and badly led soldiers to hold the walls.
  • May 6, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ To expand on the DAO example:

    • In Dragon Age Origins, the Grey Warden force in Ferelden is dangerously small for two reasons: in the Back Story, the Wardens were banished from the country by a Fereldan king after a rogue Warden-Commander raised a rebellion against him; they were only allowed back 30 years before game begins. Furthermore, in the first story mission of Origins, most Fereldan Warden recruits are killed by the Darkspawn horde when the paranoid general Loghain leaves them and the reigning king to die—thus leaving the country mostly unprepared to fight The Horde.
  • May 7, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    The final act of The Hunt For Red October (at least the book version) gives some additional difficulties to the people that remain on the titular missile sub because they're a half-dozen people handing a ship designed to be run by a couple of hundred. An earlier sub-plot excised from the movie version involved the running of an about-to-be-decommissioned American sub to the spot where the Red October was to be "sunk" and be destroyed in its stead, while also being only staffed by about a dozen officers who had to do multiple duties, like an engineer working as a cook when off-shift.
  • May 7, 2014
    Chabal2
    In one Judge Dee story, the judge is trapped by a flood in a country estate under siege by bandits. The inhabitants bitterly note that there used to be dozens of men hired just to guard it, now they'll be lucky if they have enough rusty lances and bows to equip all the old men and women that took refuge there.
  • May 7, 2014
    Daefaroth
    Film:
    • In Army of Darkness the castle is evacuated leaving 60 men to fight an army of the undead that outnumber them about 10 to 1. They have to keep moving defenses from wall to wall as they simply don't have enough people to effectively guard each side at the same time.
  • May 12, 2014
    Westrim
    Added in all the examples so far, added a bit more to the intro.
  • May 13, 2014
    Arivne
  • May 13, 2014
    bitemytail
    • Because of Perma Death and starting with a limited crew in FTL Faster Than Light, you can easily have less crew than systems. The result is having your crew run about the ship, attempting to man the systems, repel boarders, put out fires and repair subsystems - possibly all at once.
      • Most notable on the Engi B ship, which starts with only a single crew member and a couple repair drones.
  • May 13, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    Got my hat.
  • May 13, 2014
    Westrim
    Examples look solid, but I'd appreciate ideas and edits on the Intro.
  • May 14, 2014
    Chernoskill
    A note that this trope has nothing to do with Skeleton Crew, which name means what this trope is about but actually deals with actual skeletons crewing a facility, ship etc.
  • May 15, 2014
    bitemytail
    Isn't this trope Crew Of One?
  • May 15, 2014
    Westrim
    After looking it over, I added it to the compare/contrast section. It's definitely related, and in the absence of this trope it looks like entries have been made in that trope that don't really fit there but fit perfectly here- Andromeda and Star Trek are in the spaceship section, for example. I've seen that happen before. But the description is clear that it's one person operating a usually multiperson craft via handwaves, AI, or Law Of Conservation Of Detail.
  • May 15, 2014
    bitemytail
    ^ That would make Crew Of One The Same But More Specific of this, or at least a Sub Trope.

    Personally, I think Crew Of One is formatted awfully. Sorting by type of vehicle rather than source media rubs me wrong.
  • May 15, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    Crew Of One is where a single person controls a vehicle's entire functions even if it would logically be too complex for one person to handle, especially if the vehicle was designed to be operated by a crew (even a tank, for example, has a driver, a guy to load and fire the gun, and a commander to make decisions about where to go and what to fire at).

    This trope is merely about understaffed facilities or vessels, which from my interpretation can be relative (say, a massive city sized spaceship designed for hundreds of thousands being crewed by only a few thousand), thus averting Crew Of One entirely.
  • May 15, 2014
    bitemytail
    ^ That sounds like Crew Of One is a Sub Trope then. It's another case of not having enough manpower. But specifically for vehicles, with specifically one crew member.
  • May 15, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    ^ Exactly.
  • May 16, 2014
    nielas
    • On Person Of Interest the number on the Relevant List (terrorists and other national security threats) are handled by Northern Lights, a secret US government agency. Northern Lights employs teams of highly trained operatives and has an extensive support network for them. If needed it can also requisition personnel and resources from other US government agencies like the NSA or CIA. When a political scandal causes Northern Lights to be temporarily shut down, the Machine gives the responsibility for the Relevant List to Root, a single person. Even with the Machine's direct assistance and help from the other protagonists, it's an enormous task for 1-3 people to handle operations usually handled by dozens or even hundreds of people.
  • May 16, 2014
    hbi2k
    I'd be very careful about using the word "population" in the trope description. Using it too much makes it sound like this trope is Depopulation Bomb, which could cause this trope but is not the same thing. Use words like "staff" or "crew" instead.
  • May 17, 2014
    Westrim
    Good point. It's amazing how many times I've seen one part of a trope description get focused on and the whole explanation ignored. Might as well remove at least one opportunity.
  • May 19, 2014
    Westrim
    The description still feels a little skimpy. Feel free to offer suggestions or go ahead and edit it. A little bit more tweaking and it should be good to go.
  • May 19, 2014
    Astaroth
    Regarding the Doctor Who example: The episode in question is Journey's End
  • June 1, 2014
    Westrim
    Okay, I've looked this over and made some tweaks and it seems ready to go. Any more thoughts?
  • June 2, 2014
    hbi2k
    I went through and corrected some minor grammatical errors and typos. Hope you don't mind.

    Additional example:

    Video Games
  • June 4, 2014
    Westrim
    I don't see any reason for this trope to stay here longer. I'll wait a few more hours for any more hats, then launch.
  • June 4, 2014
    hbi2k
    The rule is five hats before launch. It's got my hat, FWIW, but you still need one more.
  • June 4, 2014
    Westrim
    Five hat's aren't a requirement for launch, just firmer support, unless the YKTTW Guidelines have gotten more stringent since I last looked. If it's ready, it's ready.
  • June 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • June 4, 2014
    qazwsx
    For A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, the Night's Watch "only" has 19 castles.
  • June 4, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Implied in the Sim City games when you set the budget for services really really low.
  • June 4, 2014
    Westrim
    Launching. Thanks everyone!
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