The location, being a ship, facility, city, or some other destination, used to have a population numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands. Now it's lucky to hit double digits.
There are as many reasons for this as there are examples, but generally the short staff are either original members or newcomers that arrived after a period of abandonment.
- 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.
- In The Walking Dead TV series, Dr. Jenner is the only one left of the hundreds that staffed the CDC.
- Most of the thousands strong crew of the Andromeda Ascendant evacuate during the pilot of Andromeda, leaving only the captain, the ship AI, and the dead. The crew of a salvage ship joins after 300 years of Time Dilation, bringing the complement back up to 7, and it varies between 7 and 6 for most of the rest of the series. It's a good thing the AI is really good, but it's pointed out several times that the ship is way less combat -- or anything else -- effective than it would be fully crewed.
- 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.
- Occurs in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager 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 our it's been 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.
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?
Dr. Crusher: Then why am I the only crew-member? (the computer makes a strange noise) Aha, got you there.
- 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.