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Club Stub
"This confirmed what I had thought before but had never been able to confirm definitively: Shizune and Misha are the student council. The whole student council."
Hisao, Katawa Shoujo

School clubs play a big part in the life of any student, and one of the first things a student will do upon arriving at a new school is to check out which club they want to join. So when the new student who will be our protagonist visits the club that will be the focus of the series to inquire about joining, he'll be hoping for a warm welcome into a well-established and thriving group to discuss and share a common interest with. But our hero(ine) gets more than he (or she) bargained for. While the clubroom is strangely empty, the welcome he gets is a warm one, sure enough. In fact, it's suspiciously warm, and perhaps even forceful.

The reason for this soon becomes clear. The club was just about to be disbanded when our hero appeared. The most common reason the club finds itself on the chopping block is because of low membership, and even if it's not the only reason, lack of interest will still be at least a contributing factor. The remaining membership is thus very eager to recruit new people. It goes without saying that the protagonist will be the prime target. This hapless first-year student will find himself with the club's very existence on his shoulders, and the first challenge our hero will face is to help the club gather the required minimum number of members and re-establish the necessary infrastructure to stop the school's authorities from giving the club the axe.

In a series centered around a school club, starting with this plot has a few functional advantages. Since most members will be just as new to the club as our hero, plenty of As You Know exposition gets justified. It is also a good way to explain why new characters line up in a Debut Queue rather than being introduced all at the same time, and why the club ends up as a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.

Keep in mind that not all clubs with low membership will be in danger of being dissolved. They might exist outside of a school setting and are not beholden to any school authorities. It might even have been started by an antagonist specifically to exclude the hero or another positive, optimistic character. Such a club will stay comically small, however, since so few people find the victim unlikable.

Related to Oddly Small Organization.

See also:

Note that this is Truth in Television. Japanese University clubs contains a long line of clubs that carry maybe two or three members each.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ah! My Goddess, the Nekomi Institute of Technology Motor Club consists of Tamiya and Otaki, until Keiichi shows up. These two skirt the edges of the Heterosexual Life-Partners trope, until one of them starts going after the daughter of the university president.
  • In Ai Yori Aoshi, the Meiritsu University's photography club is Suzuki and Sato, until Kaoru gets shanghaied just prior to the start of the show.
  • In Hikaru no Go, Tsutsui tries to create a go club at Haze Middle School. He's the only member until Hikaru shows up and manages to convince Mitani and all the gang to sign up.
  • In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the literature club has only one member, Yuki, who gets absorbed into Haruhi's SOS Brigade, which itself was composed of two members. Haruhi quickly recruits two more people to make the core of the show. On the other hand, the SOS Brigade is never officially recognized. But the literature club is later threatened with disbandment since it's still only Yuki.
  • The Student Council in Medaka Box starts off with just two members, although more have been added over time.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, there is a club of three pathetic guys who are basically stalkers. The newspaper club is nearly depleted of members when Moka and Tsukune join (and the rest of the Unwanted Harem follows soon afterwards).
  • In Nightwalker, the film club appears to consist of just Shunichi, Mikako, and Riho. Then just the first 2 after Riho gets vampierized, forcing her to cut ties with her old life.
  • The club in K-On starts out with NO members, since all the previous members graduated. Ritsu joins to be president of a club, so she drags in Mio, Mugi wanders by after a day, and Yui manages to show up at the end the first episode, fulfilling the membership quota to save the club.
    • Although the club isn't truly saved until episode 5 (having to deal with Yui possibly being booted out due to sub-par performance on a test and lacking a club advisor until Sawako-sensei accepts the role). Azusa ends up in a similar situation in the restart manga, as she's only able to recruit her close friends Ui and Jun at first.
  • CLANNAD has Nagisa trying to restart the Drama Club by herself until Tomoya joins up. From there everyone Tomoya comes in contact with joins pretty readily.
  • In Eyeshield 21, the football team at the start of the story consists of only two players- they're able to play games only because Hiruma blackmails random students into joining the team when necessary. One of the central parts of the story is Hiruma discovering Sena's exceptional talent as a running back, forcing him to join the team permanently, and then exploiting his reputation in such a way that he can find other worthy permanent players. Even then, it takes a long, long time for them to finally assemble a permanent full team.
    • This is one of the reasons the series is so fond of Who Needs Overtime; since they have just enough guys to field a team, virtually all of their full-timers play on offense, defense, and special teams - meaning that the team would simply be too exhausted to play competently should a game get to overtime.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has the Gardening Club, the only members of which are Kenichi, and a girl from his class.
  • The Astronomy Club in Sora No Manimani was nearly disbanded before Saku joined, but with Hime eventually joining and Edogawa hanging around enough that he may as well be a member, it was saved. Mihoshi pretty much forced Saku into it, though.
  • In the anime version of Keroro Gunsou, Fuyuki was the president and only member of Kissho Academy's Occult Club until Momoka joined. This was lampshaded in an episode where the school was going to disband the club unless they could turn up something interesting to present to the school.
  • Go! Tenba Cheerleaders begins with the Rooting Club having a single member (the protagonist) - due to the club's other members graduating last year.
  • Bamboo Blade: Kirino Chiba, as the only active and participating member, was Kendo Team Captain by default. Aside from her, the only members were Toyama and Iwasa, who only showed up to bully the newbies and girls, and Saya, who had recently stormed out of the dojo in a huff ... again ... and had yet to return. Everyone else had either graduated, were seniors who were about to graduate and were too busy trying to keep their grades up for kendo, or were driven off by Toyama and Iwasa's bullying.
  • Nichijou has the infamous Go-Soccer club, with just two members that are stuck doing nothing since the club 'president' made up the Word Salad Title for the club. Amazingly, this draws actual Go-Soccer practitioners down the line.
  • The Fashion Club in Heartcatch Precure only had one member when the series started - founder Erika. She nearly manhandles New Transfer Student Tsubomi into joining, but calms down enough so that Tsubomi joins on her own and later convinces others to join by giving them discounts to her mother's clothing store Fairy Drop. By episode 7, Erika nearly loses the club because Student Council President Itsuki left school early and Erika and Tsubomi couldn't give her the list of club members. They're able to chase her down and save the club, though.
  • In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, this is what happened to the Art Club. Due to a mishap when the Cloud Cuckoo Lander president promoted the club the previous year, the club now only has three members. Downplayed in that while the club was eventually saved by merging with Campus Environment Club, the other club only have one member—that other club can't be disbanded because it provided volunteers to clean the school campus, and Sasamoto-sensei exploited this to use it as a "shell" to acquire other clubs so that she can have a smoking room.
  • The titular club in Genshiken has a few members at the start, but arguably qualifies for this trope by dint of their sheer laziness (as the story makes clear later). At one point, the president of the student council decides to cancel all non-active clubs which, beside Genshiken, include some ridiculous clubs like "plant watering club", "bucket droppers club" or "kneaders club".
  • The ESP Club in Kotoura-san has only two members before Yuriko abducted Haruka in. That was because Yuriko's abduction of others into the club didn't fare so well... although Haruka was fine with it, since there are few people who can accept her powers to start with.
  • The Data Processing Club in Yuyushiki was completely empty by the time the main trio enters.
  • In Kamichu!, the calligraphy club holds its activities on the school roof, because it has only one member and thus doesn't rate a club room.
  • Zegapain has Kyo as the only member of the swimming club.
  • In Mashiro-iro Symphony, the Nuko Club, which cares for injured animals, originally consists of only Miu and Sana. It's not until halfway through the series that it reaches six members and becomes an officially recognized club.

    Film 
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian features a terrorist group that has split into several very small and confusingly similarly named groups.
    Whatever happened to the Popular Front?
    He's over there.
  • In Pitch Perfect the Bellas are down to two members prior to auditions because all the other Bellas graduated.
  • Hamlet 2: the theater class consists of two students until several other classes are cancelled for various reasons and the students in them have no other option.
  • In the Japanese film Swing Girls, there's a temporary example - almost the entire school band is hospitalized after a group of girls in summer school get them food poisoning, leaving the one member still healthy with the unenviable task of finding replacements before the next game. He manages through scraping together three volunteers (two of whom don't even play band instruments at all) and forcing the summer school girls to help out. Even then, they only have enough people to play swing and big band music.
  • In the Made-for-TV Movie We're Fighting Back about the origin of the Guardian Angels they started as a club of three, who were joined by a couple of other people who had a club of two of their own doing basically the same thing. The "other club" which wanted to join with the proto-Guardians called themselves the "Dozen Cousins" to make people think there were more people in the group than there were.

    Literature 
  • The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, of course.
  • My Dark And Fearsome Queen: The drama club has plenty of members, but they're all girls, which doesn't work very well when the vast majority of plays have at least one male role. So they abduct guys from the library and force them to audition. The club's also lacking an adviser, which means they aren't officially recognized by the school.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy & Giles were a club of two until they were joined by Xander and Willow. FWIW Xander and Willow were a club of three with Xander's best friend Jesse, who was killed off in the pilot.
    • Also played for laughs in Buffy: Xander and Willow were president and treasurer of the "We Hate Cordelia Club" in junior high. They were also it's only members (not even Jessee was in it).
  • The "I Hate Rachel Greene Club" from Friends consisted solely of Brad Pitt and Ross. Angelina Jolie seems to have replaced Ross.
  • The pilot of Glee begins with the titular club being a Club of Two before the adult hero steps in to get it turned around.
  • In The O.C., Seth Cohen is the president and only member of not one but a whole lot of these clubs. Also, later on he and Zach are the only members of the comic book club.
  • There was an episode of Flight of the Conchords where Jemaine and Brett were mugged by a two-man gang. Also, the Conchords' fan club has one (obsessed) member.
  • The "End Hunger Now" club (at first with just one member) in A.N.T. Farm was founded by Cameron so that he could get school funds to spend on chicken wings for himself. Fletcher blackmails him into letting him join the club by threatening to reveal the scam. Later, Principal Skidmore comes into the room, guesses immediately what is going on, and decides to join as well. At the end of the episode Olive asks about joining, but is chased off by the other three.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Get Rid Of Slimy girlS (GROSS) club in Calvin and Hobbes, which involves only the titular characters. So one of its two members may or may not be imaginary. In the commentary for the 10th anniversary book, Bill Watterson notes that he and a childhood friend used to form these in real life all the time.

    Video Games 
  • Gekkoukan High's Home Economics (read: sewing) club appears to be made up of only the Player Character and Bebe. Likewise, the Cooking Club is made up of only Player Character and Fuuka.
  • In the "Real Life, Real Heart" stage of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, the protagonist Yuri discovers that the famous choir club at her new high school has dwindled down to only the president, Kaoruko, who promptly begs her to help get new members and help them win a singing contest before the club gets shut down.
  • Mana Khemia: It's difficult to notice, since he gains two members at once, but the only one aside from Flay is a lone beastgirl. Unless you want to count a certain ghost, Pamela... His club is about to be disbanded before they show up.
  • Maribel and Renko, characters appearing in Touhou supplementary works, are the only members of a university club for necromancers. And neither of them is a necromancer.
  • Escape From St Marys sends you recruiting for the beleaguered website team as a side quest. It does not go well.
  • In Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, protagonist Miley and her roommate Harriet (who joined "unofficially") are the only two members of the eponymous club. Miley's goal is to find at least three more members before the end of April to make the club official.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the X-Change H-Games, the chemistry club only ever consists of two or three people depending on the game.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, during Shizune's route Hisao discovers that "Shizune and Misha are the student council. The whole student council." If you stay on Shizune's route, he becomes the third member.
    • In Emi's route, Mutou starts a science club with himself and Hisao as the only participants.
  • In Crescendo, the literature club has only 3 active members (technically, the school requires a minimum of 5 members for a club to be officially recognized, so the club also contains two additional "members" who have not, strictly speaking, actually attended so much as a single club meeting.
  • In Ever17, You (nickname, not pronoun) and Sara met due to You's pushiness to get members into her disbanding "computer club." An annoyed Sara hacks all the computers at once, making them all unusable.
  • In Tsukihime, Ciel is the president and sole member of the Tea Ceremony Club.
  • In Little Busters!, Haruka is very dedicated to her club, the School Maintenance Committee, which Riki had never even heard of. In her route, she manages to convince him to come along to a meeting...which involves her standing in front of a blackboard and dictating to him. Meaning that she, herself, is the club.
    • Also, Kud ends up joining a cooking club that was going to be disbanded soon.
  • In Robotics;Notes the robotics club only has two members, one who is only there to help out his friend who is very passionate about it.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Arthur episode, "My Club Rules" six start out in the Parade Float Club, but due to Wacky Hijinks everyone ends up in a club of one. They reband at the end showing the Power of Friendship.
    • Another Arthur episode: "Do You Speak Geroge?" Muffy & Francine make up their own language, Buster & Arthur make up their own language, etc. Finally they decide it's too confusing and all go back to English (or whatever the show is dubbed into in international markets).
  • In Camp Lazlo, Edward forms an anti-Lazlo club, and tells Lazlo that he belongs in "the Nothing Club". So Lazlo goes and forms the Nothing Club, and little by little all the others start joining him, while Edward's club dwindles down to just himself, since he's the only one who actually hates Lazlo.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The titular club from The Anime Club segments of Gun Show consists of only four members. Justified in that they're actually a splinter group from the school's much larger Japanese Animation Club and aren't actually an officially recognized by the school.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the feminist club at the beginning of the "Sister II" arc is apparently only seven members to begin with so membership drops to three when the unnamed and minor characters leave. This puts the club under the seven member minimum it needs to be recognized by the school at a time when Susan could really use the resources being in an official club would give her in order to further her cause. Fortunately, due to Tedd's actions, by the middle of the arc, the club has enough members again.

    Real Life 
  • Often school clubs based on once popular activities and fads will fade out as older members graduate and incoming freshmen don't want to join. So even though in the past the club might have had dozens of members it is now just a Club Stub populated by a couple die-hards


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alternative title(s): Save Our Club
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