Even with a large student body, especially one with cute schoolgirls
, the faculty needed to maintain a large campus may rarely appear. Actual teachers may be limited to the homeroom, English, nurse
and gym teacher; sometimes both at once
. Both will preferably be female characters in their mid-twenties, although the gym teachers are sometimes men or mannish, ambiguously lesbian women.
The rest of the time, education will occur with no visible staff — even when the action takes place in and during a class, a teacher is almost never shown. Like Parental Abandonment
, this prevents adults who would otherwise have an interest in (or at least an influence on) the main characters from interfering with the plot. It's also a way to avoid creating extraneous characters
the show isn't going to focus on anyway. Such schools also show economy of physical sets - expect a hallway with lockers, one re-dressable classroom set and maybe an improbably small, windowless cafeteria.
This may be handwaved
by the presence of an Absurdly Powerful Student Council
running things, or the pragmatic view that even when screentime is spent on characters actually being in class, it's not the lessons
that are important to the plot. It's also a way to avoid the expense of creating and animating an entire classroom filled with people.
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Anime & Manga
- Archie Comics largely averts this, with a large cast at Riverdale High being formed over the years. It used to be played almost straight with Ms. Grundy (whose subjects seem to vary between teaching social studies, English, and/or math) but then there's Mr. Weatherbee the school principal; Ms. Beazley the lunchlady; Professor Flutesnoot the science teacher; Mr. Svenson the janitor; Coaches Kleats and Clayton, The Bee's secretary Miss Philips, Miss Haggly, Vice Principal Patton Howitzer and many others. Miss Grundy is still usually the director of the school play (not Miss Hammly, the actual drama teacher, who's just not used), and of nearly all extracurricular activities, playing this trope straight in that case. Most of this cast apparently also taught the Archie gang at Riverdale Elementary before following them to high school, per the "Little Archie" stories. A few stories have attempted to subvert this, though.
- The Bash Street Kids plays this trope straight. Their school seems to contain only one teacher, a headmaster, a janitor and a school cook. The Bash Street Kids themselves seem to be the only students in the entire school.
- This trope occurs a lot in superhero comics. For instance, in the original comics, Peter Parker had just one named teacher in high school, and at university things were not much better, at least if you discount those lecturers who like professors Warren (the Jackal) and Lansky (the Light-Master) turn out to be supervillains. The most extreme case was probably Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, which started out with a teaching staff of one (Professor Charles Xavier) and which would have to wait twenty years to hire a second teacher (dance and gymnastics instructor Stevie Hunter).
- Never Been Kissed contains the kooky French/Spanish/Social Studies teacher and the English/Sex Ed teacher.
- Revenge of the Nerds is set at a college that seems to only have two staff members- the Big Bad Coach, and the Dean, who seemed to exist mostly for the Coach to Kick the Dog.
- Literally in The Childrens Hour. The school that most of the film takes place literally has two teachers, being that it's an all-girls school in the 1920s. Quickly however, the school closes down.
- While there are around a dozen named teachers at Hogwarts, for the amount of students there should be at least twice as many. This trope is played straight in that there seems to be only one teacher per subject. Though this is averted in Halfblood Prince with Divination. This trope is most likely the result of Writers Cannot Do Math
- You wonder when Professor Umbridge is actually teaching when she is busy inspecting all the other teachers
- Depends on how you calculate it. There are five people in Harry's Gryffindor boy's dorm, which would imply around 40 students per year, or 280 total. It's mentioned that in lower grades, they have their subjects with the rest of their house and with one other house, for about 20 students per class, which would be reasonable. Furthermore, in the final two years, the number of students shrink enough that a single class could cater to the entire grade. This would give each teacher about a dozen classes if their subject was taught every year. Subjects like Divination, which might require two classes in third year, when it's first taught, and then one every year after that, might only require six classes total. However, Rowling has stated that there are 1000 students at Hogwarts. This would be about 143 per grade, and about 36 per house grade. With Lavender, Hermione, Neville, Parvati, Harry, Seamus, Dean and Ronald, that still leaves 28 other Gryffindors unaccounted for, despite Harry literally seeing them daily. The games and films add another four Gryffindors in Harry's year, but unless Gryffindor was massively underpopulated that year, there are still quite a few missing characters.
- The Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge, a series set in a boys' boarding school. Chapter 11 of Thanks to Jennings lists the school's five teachers. For two of them this is the only mention they get.
- Justified in that 'Jennings Goes to School' states that the school only has 78 pupils. Five teachers is a reasonable number for that many boys.
- Is used in The Candy Shop War, but it's pretty justified considering that the students are in an elementary school and only need one teacher.
- Prufrock Prep's teaching staff seems to consist of only Mr. Remora, Mrs. Bass, and later Coach Genghis. The only other adults working at the school are Vice Principal Nero and two cafeteria workers.
Live Action TV
- Only two teachers are shown in Radio Active; Ms. Noelle Atoll and Vice Principal Angus B. Noseworthy. Lampshaded in one episode where the students realize they can't name off any teachers other than those two.
- Mr. Feeny and Mr. Turner in Boy Meets World. Mr. Feeny actually followed Cory and Shawn from middle school to high school due to a promotion, to Cory's horror. He eventually follows Cory to college, with suitable lampshade hanging. Mr. Feeny is qualified to teach elementary school, English, history, geography, math, literature, psychology, sociology, and quantum mechanics. And he's Cory's next-door neighbor.
- Turner was actually introduced in the second season, when the kids moved to high school; the first season took place in elementary school, where it would make sense for the kids to have only one teacher. Because Feeny (the principal of John Adams High) and Turner had a lot of scenes together, we did get to see other teachers sometimes, even though we never actually saw them teach. During the third season, when Shawn moved in with Turner (giving Turner a bigger role in the show), a third teacher, Turner's best friend Eli Williams, was introduced. He only lasted one season, and then Turner disappeared at the end of the fourth. In the fifth season and last year of high school, Feeny was their only teacher again.
- Boy Meets World even has a Two Teacher College: the only recurring professors we see at Pennbrook are Mr. Feeny (who else?) and Dean Bollander.
- Aversion: Gap gives every character different classes, and every class a different teacher, resulting in a very realistic portrayal of the school.
- Averted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer by introducing new school personnel whenever needed and featuring several as recurring characters. This is played with in relation to Buffy's demon-hunting duties; early in the third season, it is revealed that she has missed class so often that her favorite teacher has no idea who she is.
- And even then, the teachers usually only appear long enough to be used in the plot, and then vanish forever, or even get killed off (the first principal, Buffy's first science teacher), or once in a while turn out to be the Monster of the Week (Buffy's second science teacher, who killed the first science teacher).
- Played much more straight when she gets to college, though: the only lecturer we ever see more than once is the plot-important Professor Walsh.
- Power Rangers: The first six series involved the same school, and only two faculty tended to be shown: principal Mr. Caplan and teacher Ms. Appleby. Series twelve (Dino Thunder) featured a high school again, making one of the students from the Caplan/Appleby years the only teacher seen at the new Rangers' school, with the principal the only other member of the faculty seen. Of course, this teacher is Mission Control and the principal is The Mole. When the teacher had to take a leave of absence due to getting Mode Locked in his Ranger outfit they had to go far outside the usual channels for a substitute: the businessman who happened to be the Sixth Ranger's dad and the Big Bad's Secret Identity. It seems the Power Rangers universe has exactly four people who are qualified to teach.
- Another one of their substitutes was a volcanologist (who was made into that episode's Monster of the Week), so five people.
- This is, of course, pretty reasonable in the previous season, when the setting is a secret ninja school with a student body of maybe 30.
- Semi-avoided in the various incarnations of Saved by the Bell, with the one recurring teacher changed every so often, and the occasional substitute teacher/new teacher/horrible teacher as a one-shot guest.
- Averted in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, where there was at least one teacher of every major subject- although the original principal's "retirement" turned pretty quickly into switching places with the English teacher.
- iCarly: Averted. The list of teachers includes Principal Franklin, Mrs. Briggs and Mr. Howard as the main recurring teachers. Other teachers like Miss. Ackerman and Mr. Henning have episodes centred around them, whilst others like Mr. Devlin show up as recurring background characters.
- Drake & Josh had only one recurring teacher, but few minor ones were shown occasionally.
- Harbour High on The O.C. was essentially a no teacher school. The only staff member we saw was the Dean (and her infrequently). Oh and the Dean of Discipline for a few episodes late in the series.
- There was also a history teacher who assigned Ryan and Luke a project.
- In the Leverage episode The Fairy Godmother Job, the team literally turns the mark's stepson's private school into this, with Eliot as the gym teacher, and Sophie teaching everything else.
- Though it can be assumed that other teachers are still there, but as they are unnecessary to the plot, we simply never see the kids in their classes.
- Averted in the TV show Teen Wolf. We've seen the economics teacher/lacrosse coach, chemistry teacher, English teacher, French teacher, and math teacher. All but the math teacher have appeared multiple times.
- The television series of The Worst Witch only ever featured 4 teachers. By the third season, Mildred and her class didn't seem to have a form tutor for their year. (There was mention of a Form 2 teacher at the start of series 2 who'd gone off to live in the Outer Hebridies though).
- Popular originally subverted this, but eventually the school's instructors shown on camera pretty much boiled down to Bobbi Glass, who taught biology and then got upgraded to chemistry. Did I mention that her twin sister was the school nurse in season 1, and her brother also got brought in for an episode?
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch had Mr. Pool and the infrequently seen Westbridge High Principal. After Mr. Pool left he was replaced by Sadist Teacher Vice Principal (and later Principal) Mr. Kraft, and Hippy Teacher Mrs. Quick.
- In season one of Alias, one running subplot was how Sydney's spy duties were affecting her grades in college. Though apparently it wasn't that much of a problem since she only seemed to be taking one class.
- In Strangers with Candy, Flatpoint High has Mr. Noblet, the history teacher, Mr. Jellineck, the art teacher and Principal Onyx Blackman. The gym teacher is around sometimes, and other members of the faculty make cameos, but most of the time, those two seem to be the only ones around.
- Grange Hill. For such a long-running show featuring classes of students ranging in ages from 11 to 18 (and a fairly realistic number of extras to fill out a London secondary comprehensive school), very few of the staff were ever shown on camera. Sure, there were some, but in any given season there was usually only about 4 or so (including the current Headteacher and often a janitor).
- They don't even get teachers on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but they do get a football coach and a guidance counselor.
- The Steve Harvey Show Ced was the gym/health teacher/football/basketball coach and Steve was the music/art/drama teacher and later, vice principal. There was a dance teacher, an English teacher, and a social studies teacher as well as other faculty members, but they only showed up when the plot demanded it, so Ced and Steve were pretty much it at Booker T. Washington High School.
- The only faculty typically featured on Glee are Will, guidance counselor Emma, Principal Figgins, Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester and either football coach. Other faculty appear frequently in the teacher's lounge, but both teachers and students are rarely shown in class, giving the impression that virtually all of the day's activities are football, cheerleading or Glee-related. It got jarring in Gwyneth Paltrow's episode as a substitute teacher, reminding us that Will does, in fact, teach Spanish at some point every day.
- Also played very straight with Dalton Academy, were there appear to be no teachers whatsoever. Dalton is introduced in the sixth episode of season two, but no teachers turn up until the fifth episode of season three, and the only reason she is even assumed by the vieweer to be a teacher is because she's the only female in a school for boys.
- The Inbetweeners has this. Mr Gilbert, Mr Kennedy and Ms Timms are the only teachers to have appeared in the series (though the principal turns up in a deleted scene). Somewhat justified in that, while the boys are frequently shown at school, it's generally only at the start of the day, at lunchtime or at the end of the day.
- Averted in Carrusel. Ximena only teaches second grade. Susana only teachers her own class. Rene only teaches music. There is also an art teacher. And a teacher named Gloria who teachers yet another class. And Sra. Orraca is only the director and does not teach any classes. Finally, Fermin is the groundskeeper- he may count as well.
- The teenagers in Family Matters never spent all that much screen-time at school, but there were enough such episodes to demonstrate the sparse faculty. It was briefly a recurring joke for Urkel to land in Ms. Steuben's class every semester, in spite of her best efforts to avoid him. And yet the show-stealer among the school staff was the janitor Mr. Looney. (That's Lou-NÉ—it's French.)
- The Vampire Diaries only features the recurring teacher Mr. Tanner and later his replacement main character Alaric Saltzman. Both teach history which is the only class anyone ever attends. However, a math teacher and football coach appear in single episodes
- By Season 4, Alaric is dead so it's a no-teacher school.
- The only teachers ever seen to teach in Round the Twist are Mr Snapper and Ms James. The principal appears in one episode, and then never appears again. Mostly because he was de-aged into a baby.
- Amanogawa High from Kamen Rider Fourze, whose staff body seems to consist entirely of Ohsugi and Sonoda. Two other teachers are briefly seen for two episodes each and return in the finale; and Hayami, Libra Zodiarts is the headmaster, but is never shown to actually teach anyone.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place, the only teacher shown regularly is the principal Mr. Laritate. One episode centered around the art teacher Ms. Majorheely, but she was actually not a teacher but rather a student who was age-progressed by a spell that was later fixed.
- The various incarnations of Degrassi lean this way—especially Degrassi Junior High, where pretty much the only teachers on offer were Miss Avery and franchise pillar Mr. Raditch.
- Seen in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, in which there are literally two teachers. Semi-justified in which it's a school for Pokemon rangers. Until one of the teachers mysteriously leaves... and they bring in a SUBSTITUTE teacher. Where'd he come from?
- Rival Schools naturally falls into this trope, as only a handful of faculty from a few schools are ever shown in the games. Taiyo High has gym teacher Hayato as a playable character, with science instructor Hyoe and office clerk Shizuku showing up in the Japan-only character creation modes. Justice High's only known faculty are Japanese teacher Hideo, School Nurse/chemistry teacher Kyoko and principal Raizo. Gorin High also has volleyball coach Kohtaro and sumo instructor Kinzan, but they only show up in character creation modes.
- The Magic College of Winterhold in Skyrim has a total of 6 teachers.
- Rule of Rose features an orphanage with over 20 children, but it only has one teacher/headmaster, a cleaning lady who doubles as a cook and one orphan who is sixteen years old and acts as a makeshift nurse. They all dissappear in the course of the story, leaving the orphanage entirely in the control of the Aristocrat Club.
- Averted in Persona 3 and Persona 4 - the teachers aren't major characters in either case (though one's a Social Link in the former), but there's a different teacher for every class.
- Eagle Eye Mysteries: In the first game, you only ever meet three teachers from Kennedy School in Richview—Mr. Minas, the math teacher; Buck Morrow, the school's football coach; and Ms. Skerzo, the music teacher.
- Fate/stay night has Fujimura and Kuzuki, and only them—justified in that very little of the action actually happens at school.
- Fate/hollow ataraxia reveals a little background info on the teachers. They have some of a carrot and stick approach between them that makes the pair highly effective: Everyone loves Taiga and fears Kuzuki, though they tend to think he's an excellent teacher by the time they graduate.
- The Knight Academy in Skyward Sword has literally two teachers. Considering Skyloft is a Thriving Ghost Town in general, this is to be expected.
- In Katawa Shoujo, the only teachers who appear are Hisao's homeroom teacher Akio Mutou, and the art teacher Shinichi Nomiya, the latter of whom only appears in Rin's route and the scenes in Act 1 that lead to it. There are at least four classes in the third year alone, though, and Miyagi, who is Lilly and Kenji's homeroom teacher, is once mentioned in passing.
- Specific teachers are never mentioned in High School Story, despite it being about building a High School. Of course, really There Are No Adults and Adults Are Useless anyway; the only ones who matter are your fellow students, who may occasionally claim to know something about an adult that you'll never see.
- Kim Possible takes this trope and runs with it; with the exception of one episode, every class, field trip, and extracurricular activity we see is headed by Coach Barkin. It's implied that he's the regular teacher for at least a few of these classes, but more often he's portrayed as an emergency substitute.
- Lampshaded further in an episode where the students visit Mr Barkin's father at a Living History (early American History, where every character has an Identical Grandfather to be precise) community where he too implausibly performs every single job in town.
- Coach Barkin generally drops some reason for the absence of the regular teacher; just enough to give us the idea that had they given us the full story, it would be hilarious, and a whole show could be built based solely on the things that incapacitate the teachers Barkin covers for.
- Similarly, the teaching faculty of Springfield Elementary on The Simpsons seems to consist entirely of Miss Krabappel, Ms. Hoover, Mr. Largo, and Ms. Pommelhorst (who later became Mr. Pummelhorst due to a sex-change operation). The small size of the faculty is subject of a Lampshade Hanging in one episode where it is revealed that Lunch Lady Doris is also the school nurse (due to the fact that she likes getting two paychecks working as a lunchlady and a school nurse) and another where, due to school budget cuts, Lunchlady Doris is now the school nurse while Groundskeeper Willie has been hired out as a French teacher ("Bonjourrrrrrrr, ya cheese-eating surrender monkeys!"). It should be noted that in a later episode, Willie was replaced as a French teacher by a man with a New York accent (and no experience in speaking or teaching French) named Mr. Kufferberg. And in the earlier episodes, Springfield Elementary had two additional teachers: one named Mr. Glasscock, who almost quit because the kids kept making fun of his name and an unnamed hippie teacher who once started his class by saying, "Did I ever tell you kids about the '60s"?
- Principal Skinner has also taught a few classes as a substitute to otherwise detained teachers. And of course in one episode there was the near-perfect Mr. Bergstrom...
- Justified since this is an elementary school in a world where the kids don't grow up, so Bart and Lisa's classes are always going to have the same teachers.
- In a few episodes some more unnamed teachers can be seen in the faculty room.
- Danny Phantom, first Lancer's the vice principal, then English teacher, then the biology, then the astronomy teacher, then basically whatever the plot calls for in the future. It wasn't until the second season that enough focus was put on another teacher long enough to actually get to speak.
- Principal Ishiyama had brief speaking roles in season 1, and there was a short balding teacher we only ever saw twice (Mr. Faluca). Coach Tetslaff, though, could be seen as the second teacher in the Two-Teacher School. Lancer never takes up the PE position, and Tetslaff has been featured quite a few times throughout the show ("Fright Night" and "Micro-Management" come to mind).
- Invader Zim, where Miss Bitters seems to run most of the important things (though we do see Gaz's teacher once, and there's a nurse who shows up at some point).
- There's also the "skool" counselor Mr. Dwicky and a rather intimidating principal. And Coach Walrus. (Actually, this may be an aversion.)
- Actually, we see Gaz's teacher, Mr. Elliot, three times. His personality is perpetually and forcefully optimistic in direct contrast to Ms. Bitters... who taught him when he was in grade school.
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Monster Academy is run only by the Gromble. He's both the teacher and headmaster of the academy, while The Snorch is in charge of administering unusual punishments to students who break the rules.
- Played With on Daria—there are several important teachers with their own developed personalities (i.e., unique neuroses), and they often have screen time away from their classes and often drive the plot (probably without some external force Daria and Jane would be too lazy to ever do anything). However, even counting background characters the school's staff seems to only be about a dozen people, and they all seem to teach multiple grades or even subjects. This makes sense, given Ms. Li's penchant for using school money on nothing but sports and security.
- Shown in W.I.T.C.H., specifically the episode E is for Enemy, where generally only two teachers, their principal and history teachers, are shown. Lampshaded during a nightmares sequence, where one character has a bad dream involving an unsolvable math problem, presented by the teacher, to which she responds, "But you're a 'history' teacher!"
- In the original comic, the girls do get other teachers too, the principal and the history teacher just show up more often than others.
- Averted in Bromwell High, where the teachers are just as much a part of the plots as the students and the main trio.
- If anything, there's more named teachers then there are named student characters.
- It was obviously averted in Disney's Doug, where the various middle-school teachers Doug had were recurring characters. It was more subtly averted in the Nickelodeon version of the show; only one teacher appeared most of the time, but a few others appeared every now and then, which shouldn't be unexpected for elementary school.
- Home Movies
- Sort of averted in Recess. Ms. Grotke (4th grade homeroom) and Ms. Finster (recess monitor) are the main ones seen but there have been substitutes and a few other teachers are named and recurring.
- South Park, the only teachers ever seen are Mr. Garrison and Ms. Chokesondick for a few seasons. Even the non-teacher staff is lacking, just showing Mr. Mackey and Principal Victoria, and Chef in the earlier seasons.
- Mr. Adler, the woodshop teacher who still has flashbacks of his wife dying in a plane crash, has been shown in a few episodes (such as the "Tweek vs. Craig" episode from season three and a couple of the later episode). Also, "Elementary School Musical" and "W.T.F." reveal that the school has a basketball coach and a wrestling coach.
- The Fairly Oddparents: Basically Dimmsdale Elementary's teaching staff is composed of Principal Waxalplax, Mr. Crocker, Mr. Birkenbake, and Mr Bickles.
- Obviously there have been times and places where this was the rule rather than the exception. See Schoolmarm.
- It can often feel like this for college and grad students with a very specific major or one with a small department.
- In many countries, students spend their first years of school with one teacher singlehandedly teaching their class most of the basics (with some exceptions such as P.E.). In later years, the subjects get too complicated to teach by non-specialised teachers.
- Anyone who is or has ever been homeschooled (in a family with two parents as opposed to a single parent household) exemplifies this trope.
- A lot of Irish primary schools were literally this in the past, due to having small schoolhouses, particularly in rural areas. Still happens today, but is less and less common.
- Parochial schools based in smaller churches often only have four or five teachers, and in a few it's only two or three.