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-> ''"No questions asked. Up we get and off at a gallop, fearful lest we come too late!"\\
"Too late for what?"\\
"How would I know? We haven't got there yet."''
-->-- ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead''

The story is its own little world: It's not merely secluded from the context, there ''is'' no context. It is not merely the [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality morality that is centered on the protagonist]], the world itself revolves around them.

Usually a result of limited storytelling, but can also be actively invoked as some kind of absurdity or postmodern deconstruction. In either case, when a show or webcomic or other work starts this way, it usually melts away at the same pace as CerebusSyndrome takes a hold on the plotline. In shorter storylines, it can instead be a existential twist to some OntologicalMystery.

The stories where the world is limited to the plot are instead the stories where the characters have no backstory, no anchors outside the plot, and whatever they do, there will be no outside forces of any kind reacting to it. Characters irrelevant to the plot are highly unlikely to exist at all, and if they do then they won't [[NominalImportance have names]]. The story does not have to take place in a pocket dimension or even a secluded town: Rather than being shown to not exist, TheOutsideWorld is simply unmentioned and discarded as irrelevant.

Commonly, these stories feature a failed escape sequence, and none of the outside world will be seen during the escape. The characters are inevitably led right back to the plot's world.

This is ''not'' when a story takes place in a SmallSecludedWorld such as [[Series/{{LOST}} an island]] or [[Film/TheCube a box]]: In those cases there ''is'' still a universe outside the place where the characters are [[TheWallAroundTheWorld trapped]]. The characters are still connected to the outside world by their memories, and there are people in the outside world who could miss them.

Defying this trope is a common way to {{deconstruct|edTrope}} or avert ''other'' tropes: It's easy to be TheOmniscient when there is so little to know in the first place, just add more information and the character turns out to be NotSoOmniscientAfterAll. On the flipside of this coin, philosophical thought-experiments often ask us to accept a WorldLimitedToThePlot, making the most outrageous oversimplifications look like valid [[AnAesop Aesops]].



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/TheBigO'', there does seem to be [[CrypticBackgroundReference some reason for this]] but it's never adequately explained.
* ''Anime/YukiYunaIsAHero'' takes place in a universe where only an island of Japan survives. Not Japan ''as a whole'', just the region the main characters live in. ThePlague killed off everyone and [[WorldTree Shinju-sama]] protected Shikoku by building a wall. [[spoiler:The outside world doesn't even exist anymore. It's just an AcidTripDimension full of monsters. When Togo learns the AwfulTruth about how [[MagicalGirlWarrior Heroes]] are in a HopelessWar against these creatures, she decides to perform a [[OmnicidalManiac worldwide]] MercyKill.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the ''Age of X'' storyline in the ComicBook/XMen line, a clue that something is wrong with the alternate reality the characters find themselves in is that there ''is'' nothing outside the walls of their compound, and the soldiers that attack seem to only have a few names, repeated over and over.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Played straight in ''Film/CemeteryMan'' at the end. [[spoiler:Francesco tries to leave town, only to discover that the rest of the world doesn't exist.]]
* Deliberately invoked in the ''Film/{{Cube}}'' series. The inconsistent internal logic from movie to movie is designed to eliminate the possibility of a wider world beyond the Cube.
** Averted in ''Film/CubeZero'', where it's shown to basically be a last-chance experimentation chamber for death-row prisoners. [[spoiler:At least until one of the operators helps someone escape and ends up with a forged "confession" and a lobotomy before getting thrown in himself, with heavy hints throughout that that's basically how ''everyone'' ended up in there. Then we find out that what we see in the prequel is basically a first generation prototype compared to the later Cubes, which seem to have less and less of a plausible reason to exist.]]
* ''Film/{{Dogville}}'' plays this for drama. It turns out that [[spoiler: Grace could have escaped all along -- she was just too stubborn]].
* ''Film/InBruges'' toys with this. The entire film takes place in Bruges (apart from two very short establishing character shots). Ray ''hates'' Bruges. When he finally manages to escape, only the inside of the train is shown, and he's led right back to Bruges again anyway.
* Creator/RidleyScott's ''Film/{{Legend 1985}}'' takes place almost entirely within a magical forest and Darkness's palace. There's virtually no indication of what the world outside the forest is like.
* ''Film/{{Pleasantville}}'' shows what happens to such a world when the outside does manifest itself in a meaningful way.
* Deconstructed in ''Film/TheThirteenthFloor''. As the cover says: "Question reality".
* ''Film/TheTrumanShow'' has two plotlines that eventually merge. The "inner" plotline suffers heavily from World Limited to the Plot, but the "outer" plotline reveals that this is caused by [[TheMasquerade manipulation]] rather than bad storytelling.

* In ''Literature/{{Coraline}}'', the Other Mother's world seems to be limited to the immediate vicinity of the house. More obvious in the movie, where the world fades out into featureless white space after a certain point and is small enough to be walked around in the course of one conversation.
* A Finnish HighFantasy novel called ''Kuolleet kaupungit'' ("The Dead Cities") is a zigzag on this trope. There was a world map included with various locations marked all around its two continents. In the course of the story, the main cast visits every single one of these locations. Looking at the map after that, one is left with the impression there isn't anyplace else left to go in the whole world, and even if there is, it must still be a rather small world.
* The Polish novel ''Nest of Worlds'' uses this as a plot point [[spoiler: or rather, as the basis of the entire plot.]] The protagonist is an ordinary guy who turns out to be an inexplicable WalkingDisasterArea: anyone he has talked to, come in contact with, or just caught a glimpse of, tend to die from unrelated causes within days. Strangely, it's mentioned that before he turned up, the city where he lives had recorded ''no deaths at all'' for over a year. [[spoiler:He eventually realizes the reason for all that: his entire world is a setting for a novel, and he himself is the main character. It's not that he attracts disaster--on the contrary: nothing significant or dramatic ever happens in his world if he isn't involved in it somehow. Also, it turns out he is protected from death by some very heavy-duty PlotArmor (that tends to also leave hundreds dead with collateral damage), until he decides to make a HeroicSacrifice to save his world from himself.]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' prequel ''The Andalite Chronicles,'' [[WarriorPrince Elfangor]], [[LittleMissBadass Loren]] and the future [[BigBad Visser Three]] accidentally create a small alternate universe out of their memories. It basically looks like a PatchworkWorld based on their respective homes, populated by "people" who act like robotic caricatures. At one point Elfangor opens a book in Loren's fake room and finds half the pages blank--she never finished the book, so her memories couldn't complete it.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/MastersOfHorror'': This is the CruelTwistEnding of the episode [[spoiler:''Valerie on the Stairs'']]. When the main characters manage to escape the building they are confined in, [[TomatoInTheMirror they realize]] that they are fictional characters that are not expected to exist outside and vanish accordingly.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** In the audio spin-off ''[[Recap/BigFinishDoctorWho014TheHolyTerror The Holy Terror]]'', the Doctor arrives in what at first appears to be a castle with the 'quirk' that the current reigning emperor is considered to be a literal god, but as the story unfolds he realises that the entire castle is actually part of an elaborate prison created for one man, who weaves this elaborate world to hide from his guilt until he is forced to face his crime and [[GroundhogDayLoop commit it all over again]].
* Deconstructed/Justified in ''Series/{{Westworld}}'', where the main characters [[spoiler: are {{Artificial Human}}s in a narrative-based theme park where they play out [[GroundhogDayLoop pre-programmed stories]] unless interrupted by the guests.]]

* {{Moral dilemma}}s in academic philosophy usually rely ''heavily'' on this trope: You are supposed to accept, or even take for granted, the premise that the characters and situations involved have no social context whatsoever (some are set on {{deserted island}}s, or in rafts adrift on the ocean). This tends to make it unreasonably impossible to TakeAThirdOption.
** One instance is in a class on torture where students debate on the permissibility of torturing a person if that person holds information on a bomb's location, then the bomb cannot be a city-destroying level of power or greater.

* AudioPlay/BigFinishDoctorWho uses this in three wildly different episodes, all written by Robert Shearman.

* In ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead'', this is pretty much the entire point of the play, as the two characters do not realize that they are fictional characters and thus are confused at why they don't remember anything except for what's relevant to their scenes.
* Creator/SamuelBeckett loved this one: ''Endgame'', ''Theatre/WaitingForGodot'' (Estragon's character as opposed to Vladimir's) , probably others.
** Beckett's one-act play, ''Play'', can be an extreme version, with the world limited to a ''spotlight''. To explain, the entirety of the dialogue is spoken by three heads sticking out of large, unmoving funeral urns which can only speak if the spotlight is on them. There is often nothing else on stage and no other lighting. (The RTÉ "Beckett on Film" version, however, averts this trope by replacing the spotlight with the [[BehindTheBlack camera's gaze]] and including a set—a barren landscape filled with similar heads-sticking-out-of-urns.)
* One of the favorite tropes of the [[{{Absurdism}} Theatre of the Absurd]] in general. In addition to the aforementioned Stoppard and Beckett plays, Creator/EugeneIonesco comes to mind, especially ''Theatre/TheBaldSoprano''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Videogame/{{Bastion}}'' features a world that actually builds itself under the protagonist's feet as he advances.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''[[VisualNovel/{{Ozmafia}} OZMAFIA!!]]'' takes place in an isolated town ruled by mobsters with seemingly no other nearby settlements and no wider governance. [[spoiler: It's a PocketDimension built by a RealityWarper.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': the world outside of the main characters' lives appears almost desolate. None of them seem to have any other friends apart from themselves and characters on the periphery of their interpersonal interactions (their guardians) appear almost vacant and robotic. And they're not really [[AngstWhatAngst very affected]] by [[spoiler:Earth's imminent and unavoidable destruction]] either.
** On the other hand, there are cases where we do have a glimpse outside the plot, with current events like how UsefulNotes/BarackObama is the president, and other people completely irrelevant to the plot, like the [[Website/{{Twitter}} Serious Business]] and Website/GameFAQs users, are still shown to actually exist, even if they are never shown. We also see maps of the entire planet, and the plot does, in fact, make an [[StealthPun impact]] in places irrelevant to the main characters.
** At one point Jade is shown browsing a real artist's gallery on [[UsefulNotes/FurryFandom Fur Affinity]].
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' lived by this trope until the foreshadowing at the end of book one. ([[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0120.html Strip 120]] in the online version.) Only then, when the dungeon in which the entire plot has taken place is destroyed, do the plot and the dungeon turn out to have some relevance outside of itself. Even before that, half the team didn't even realize they had a specific ''quest'' beyond stand-alone gags until several pages in.
** Later, it turns out that characters who aren't relevant enough to the plot to be named actually don't even ''[[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0703.html have]]'' names... at least not until they [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0472.html become relevant]] to the plot.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBremenAvenueExperience'' is a short-lived series about a FunnyAnimal GarageBand. The entire series is set in the suburban living room where the group rehearses, and the only character besides the band members is the drummer's father, who [[OneShotCharacter appears in one episode]].
* ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' takes place in the Cul-de-Sac they live in with the other neighboring kids and no one else. Later on in the 5th and last season, they all go back to school once the summer ends (and occasionally go on field trips), but even then it's just them (crowds, when they rarely appear are FacelessMasses). Even in ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddysBigPictureShow'', it's just the kids as they walk across barren landscapes or empty buildings and amusement parks [[spoiler:except until Eddy's big brother appears]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' is set in an unnamed city where, aside from the eponymous superheroes and the supervillains they fight, the population consists entirely of unnamed people who exist solely to be terrorized by the villains and rescued by the heroes. The closest we get to worldbuilding are a few references to Franchise/{{Batman}}'s mythos (a couple of mentions of Gotham City, a fight taking place on a Wayne Enterprise building, and hints about Robin's past), a WackyRacing cross-country episode, and an episode where Robin goes off to train somewhere in a vague Asian country. Downplayed in Season 5 when the Teen Titans turn into HeroesUnlimited and start [[WalkingTheEarth traveling the world]]: we meet the ''teen superheroes'' of the world while they're traveling, but little else. We get nothing of the teams' non-spandex lives. ThePowersThatBe were deliberate about this.
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama''. Justified in the first two seasons, where the whole thing was a ShowWithinAShow trapping the teens in an island and on a film lot, but even in the third season, where they're in a different country each week, they still run into no one except those that work on the show, even in the middle of New York (except for ''one'' woman sitting on a bench and her baby).