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Bottle Episode

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"I hate bottle episodes. They're wall-to-wall facial expressions and emotional nuance. I might as well sit in the corner with a bucket on my head."
Abed Nadir, Community, "Cooperative Calligraphy"

A "bottle episode" is designed to take up as little money as possible.

The easiest way to go about this is to use only the regular cast (or even just part of the regular cast) and set it in a single location, especially if you have a main standing set. This keeps production costs down, because no-one needs to scout locations, build new sets, or create fancy CGI graphics of the outside of the spaceship. Bottle episodes are often a chance for a slow, characterization-filled episode before/after a big special-effects-laden action episode. Of course, all this doesn't mean the episode will be cheap, just that it's meant to be; like any regular episode, unforeseen complications can cause the show to run over the scheduled budget.

The term has become synonymous with "single-location" episode, even though bottle episodes can (theoretically) have as many locations as a normal episode. All that matters is that it costs less, because the money is having to pass through a "bottleneck". The Star Trek cast and crew call this a "ship-in-a-bottle" episode, which is where the name originated. Sometimes single-location episodes are written as a Self-Imposed Challenge by the writers, and might ironically cost more than a standard episode if the one location is new and/or elaborate.

Bottle episodes often place a higher burden on the writers than a normal episode. Due to limitations in locations and cast, the writers have to lean heavily on inventive situations and dialogue to carry the show. Depending on the writer, how well the premise works out, and the quality of the acting, bottle episodes can range from terrible to some of the best-received.

One advantage of a bottle episode is that it comes equipped with its own reason for why the characters need to stay together and communicate, an essential part of screenwriting.

Some plots lend themselves to the nature of a Bottle Episode, such as Sinking Ship Scenario, "Groundhog Day" Loop, Locked in a Room, or Episode on a Plane. Sometimes an episode which is a Period Piece may look fancy and expensive, but these are often using the studio's already-existing (thus free) costumes and sets. "Die Hard" on an X, though limiting the episode to one location, rarely fits this trope, since the other elements of that trope often negate the budget-saving aspects of a Bottle Episode. Also, a bottle episode may or may not involve a Minimalist Cast. Can overlap with Patience Plot.

Almost all Clip Shows (and, by extension, Recap Episodes) fit this trope, despite not strictly being an actual Bottle Episode. Not to be confused with Drowning My Sorrows, nor with sending out messages in bottles. Another cause that happens on occasion is a writers' strike. With the shorter formats, such as half-hour TV series, the temptation for the director is sometimes to make it The Oner as well.

Single Locations plots are very popular in theater, allowing theater troupes with no budget to focus on their performance without set designers or techies to create effects or move set pieces around.

While this style of writing will undoubtedly remain popular for stylistic reasons, additional advances in technology allowing for cheaper, easier set creation — such as the StageCraft video wall created by Industrial Light & Magic — may reduce or even obsolete the monetary need for them.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop has the eleventh episode, "Toys in the Attic", set entirely within the Bebop, their own spaceship.
  • Genshiken has an episode with only two characters, Kasukabe and Madarame, with the majority of the acting simply being Madarame ranting in his head about his feelings for Kasukabe, and the majority of the animation being Madarame on various minimalist backgrounds as he struggles in his imagination, while Kasukabe turns the pages of her book.
  • Episode nine of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex takes place almost entirely in a virtual chat room.
  • Quite a few episodes of Gintama are like this, but one particular episode features a close-up shot of a food cart, the voices of some people who sound like the regular cast, and not much else. The dialog even hints at the characters' identities, right until the camera changes perspective and shows the speakers being completely different people.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • The episode "Someday in the Rain" takes this idea and runs with it including a long shot of Yuki reading a book motionless as language lessons and radio programs play in the background. Oddly the budget was clearly substantial and the episode has no connection to the light novels the rest of the anime is based on — implying that it may have been done either for the hell of it or as a deliberate reference to the typically conservative animation styles in anime.
    • Surprisingly averted with the infamous Endless Eight arc, consisting of the cast stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop repeating most of the same actions and lines over and over for 8 episodes. Despite the premise practically begging for laziness and animation recycling, each episode was animated from scratch (with the cast's constantly rotating outfits hinting at this.)
  • One chapter of Hunter × Hunter is solely about a conversation between a blind girl and her friend, a king. As it's from the point of view of the blind girl, every panel is pitch black except the speech bubbles. The perspective returns to normal third-person at the end of their conversation to show that the king has died.
  • The anime adaptation of Hyouka has episode 19, which is set almost entirely within the Classic Literature Club room and exclusively features the two main characters Eru Chitanda and Hotaro Oreki.
  • Episode four of Kamichama Karin has possibly the most Off-Model art of the whole series, but the story was actually quite well-written.
  • Taken to the Logical Extreme with the last two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episodes 25 and 26 start with a disclaimer - "Instrumentality is starting, but we don't have the time to show it, so we'll just completely deconstruct our characters".
  • In the anime adaptation of Nisekoi, the second episode of the second season has only three characters present: Raku, Tsugumi, and Paula, and nobody else, not even in the background.
  • Episode 11-B "Nothing To Room" of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. The episode consists entirely of a single shot with no variations in camera angle or location (with some minor modifications to depict different times of day), and the majority of the episode is just the characters talking with each other about nothing in particular. Even the plot is minimal; it's basically "Panty and Stocking sit on the couch and waste an entire day." It still manages to be entertaining, though. It's also the last episode before the Genre Shift the Grand Finale faces.
  • In the first season of Pokémon: The Original Series, the episode "Pikachu's Goodbye" was thrown together during the hiatus following the "Electric Soldier Porygon" seizure incident, and was the first aired when the show returned from its hiatus. To take pressure off the animators, the only Pokémon included were Meowth and Pikachu (the latter in large numbers).
    • The Sun and Moon episode "Partner Promises" features Ash and Pikachu going on an adventure by themselves in a Milestone Celebration of the anime's 20th anniversary, with the other characters mostly showing up at the beginning of the episode.
  • Aside from a brief scene at the beginning, Re:Zero Episode 18 focuses solely on Subaru and Rem, and they spend three-quarters of the episode up on a roof while Subaru has a Darkest Hour Heroic BSoD and Rem tries to talk him out of it. The animation is actually extremely good.
  • The first half of Episode 7 of Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God has the titular gods bundled up inside while it snows, huddling around a kotatsu and doing nothing else for the entirety of the segment.

    Audio Plays 
  • The Big Finish Doctor Who episode, "Scherzo". The story features a Minimalist Cast consisting of the Doctor (voiced by Paul McGann), his companion, Charley Pollard (voiced by India Fisher) and the Monster of the Week in form of "the Sound Creature" (voiced by both McGann and Fisher), sees them trapped together for pretty much most of the story in a Closed Circle, in the form of some strange experimentation chamber literally shaped as a huge ring, and is very heavy on characterisation as the Doctor and Charley spend most of the time discussing their relationship and how they respectively understand what the word "love" means to them, and even uses pretty minimal special effects for an Audio Play as the soundscape for the bulk of the story is a constant, low volume Drone of Dread. The episode even comments a bit on the trope from the fact that the experimentation chamber the Doctor and Charley are trapped in is essentially a huge test-tube, and is even described as being made of a glass-like material.

    Comic Books 
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye does this multiple times:
    • "The Waiting Game" (aka Spotlight: Hoist). The issue stars four mismatched Autobots and their pet Insecticon trapped in shuttle on an uninhabited world. They cannot venture out for fear of being killed by an extremely powerful Decepticon and are unable to call for help. They wind up spending most of the issue swapping stories and getting on each others nerves.
    • Issue 31. The entire issue takes place inside an escape pod, where twenty members of the crew are stuck after the events of the previous arc. Nothing is seen outside of the pod aside from brief glimpses of empty space through the windows.

    Fan Works 
  • The Calvin & Hobbes: The Series episode Roughin' It, isn't technically a bottle episode, but it's designed like one. There are only two speaking roles (Calvin and Hobbes, and they spend most of their time just camping out in the woods. There's no action, no real plot, just a lot of Conversational Troping.
  • The majority of Glass (Bellamy Taft) is just Seto, Pegasus, and a glass wall, with occasional looks into other characters and locations.
  • The Round And Bouncy Trixie is set in only one location and Trixie is the only character who physically appears (Spike, Rarity, Twilight, and Starlight only appear in flashbacks).
  • The Junior Officers chapter "Anime" only features two characters (Kwazii and Deborah) and takes place entirely within one room.

    Films — Live-Action 


  • Alfred Hitchcock liked to experiment with this format:
    • Except for a shot of the ship sinking at the beginning, the entirety of Lifeboat is set on the lifeboat, the plot driven solely by the survivors' increasingly hostile bickering among each other.
    • Rope begins with an Establishing Shot of the apartment building where the rest of the movie takes place. Not only does the whole story unfold in one room, the movie was edited in such a way to conceal as many cuts as possible, making it feel like the whole movie was a single shot.
    • Paralleling the protagonist's voyeuristic tendencies in Rear Window, the camera in this movie never ventures more than several feet away from Jeffries's room's window. Until the climax, the camera never even leaves his room.
  • George Romero's first three zombie films each are each primarily set in one location. Night of the Living Dead (1968) traps the characters in an isolated farmhouse about ten minutes in, Dawn of the Dead (1978) moves through a few different locations in the first act before settling into the shopping mall for the long run, and Day of the Dead (1985) is set inside an underground bunker aside from the opening in the abandoned city and the final scene on the beach.


  • 10 Cloverfield Lane is set almost entirely in an underground bunker, and only five actors appear in the film.
  • 12 Angry Men is set almost entirely in a jury deliberation room.
  • A Wedding (1978): Aside from the opening scene (a church wedding), the entire two-hour movie takes place in the (admittedly large) Corelli mansion and the surrounding grounds.
  • All Is Lost has only one actor (Robert Redford) and very little dialogue.
  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe takes place entirely in the morgue where the eponymous autopsy is being carried out.
  • Buried is set entirely in a coffin and features only one actor.
  • Similarly, Kevin Smith set Clerks almost entirely within a convenience store to keep costs down.
  • The three Cube films (1997-2004) are set in a Rubix cube type maze, which is filmed pretty much in a box, sometimes with lighting changes. It has all the classic elements of a bottle episode: single location (which in this case is reused to portray different rooms/sections), heavy interpersonal conflict between the actors, and an artificially created sense of danger and claustrophobia.
  • About 75% of Devil takes place in an elevator with a constantly dwindling cast.
  • Other than a few flashbacks and brief look at the outside world, Friend of the World is set entirely in an underground bunker, with only two lead actors and a couple supporting roles.
  • About half of Saw solely takes place in the bathroom Adam and Lawrence are trapped in, partly due to the fact that creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell were just two guys fresh out of film school with not much in the way of a budget, and only had 18 days to film the movie.
  • The Garage is about the meeting of a parking garage co-op that devolves into backstabbing, insults, and mutual recriminations after the board of the co-op reveals that four people will be losing their parking spaces. The whole movie takes place on the one floor of the museum where they're meeeting, almost all of that in a single room.
  • The bulk of Glengarry Glen Ross takes place in the confines of the office. This makes sense as it was derived from a play.
  • Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is considered this in the Godzilla franchise as it's unlike its previous films. The cast is mostly on an island or out at sea, Godzilla does not attack a city (although he does attack a military base), and the only other monsters are Ebirah and Mothra.
  • Hard Candy only has two main characters and is set almost entirely in the house of the male lead.
  • The first quarter of The Hateful Eight takes place inside a stagecoach, and the remainder takes place inside a one-room snowed-in stagecoach lodge with occasional trips to the immediate surroundings. The film's extremely wide aspect ratio makes both of these environments feel very immersive and claustrophobic.
  • The Short film Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock takes place in and around a families RV on a campground in the Californian wilderness.
  • Locke starts with the titular character getting into his car, he doesn't get out of it for the duration of the film (the camera only leaves the car for the occasional exterior shot), and his is the only face we see on camera, the only other characters are only heard over the phone.
  • The Man from Earth is shot entirely in one location, mostly in a single room.
  • Rattle The Cage takes place almost entirely in a single room, with only a brief peak to the street outside.
  • Quentin Tarantino has said he wrote Reservoir Dogs like this to keep the costs down to make it more likely to be filmed. The majority of the movie takes place in the warehouse, while Mr. Orange's apartment and Joe's office were located in the same building.
  • The first two acts of Room are set in a cramped, back house apartment and only three characters (Joy, Jack, and "Old Nick") appear.
  • The satirical World War II Prisoner of War film Stalag 17 has the cast largely filmed within their barracks. Aside from making sense due to the characters being prisoners, the film was based upon a play.
  • After Star Trek: The Motion Picture flew overbudget, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan had to tighten its belt pretty hard. Consequently, a lot of the film takes place on the Enterprise bridge set, and since Khan's ship is a stolen Starfleet ship, they could move the furniture a bit to turn it into the Reliant's bridge set.
  • Almost all of The Three Stooges' short Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo takes place inside a railroad boxcar.
  • Except for the flashbacks, Sorry, Wrong Number takes place in Leona’s apartment.
  • The Curse of Frankenstein, the first Hammer Horror movie, was made on an extremely small budget compared to the Universal Horror films it was created partly in response to. The cast is minimal, the sets are claustrophobic, and nearly the entire film takes place in the Frankenstein manor or in the woods near it. Somewhat humorously, Hammer couldn't even afford enough extras or a big enough outdoor set to do the classic "Villagers with Torches and Pitchforks" scene, so while Paul threatens to rile up a mob repeatedly, the script is written so that he never gets a chance to actually do it. The film's success would allow Hammer to ape Universal more closely in subsequent installments, with their own mobs of villagers, larger sets, and more diverse locations.
  • The Standoff At Sparrow Creek: Except for a couple of short flashbacks and the opening scene where Gannon shoots a deer in the woods and then goes back to his trailer, the whole film takes place either inside the warehouse the militia operates out of or the grounds within a hundred feet of the loading dock.
  • Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation stands apart from the other two Starship Troopers live-action films because the action is confined to a single base for the majority of the film, along with a Tone Shift to sci-fi horror instead of military science fiction.
  • Circle: Aside from a short scene at the end, the entire film is about a group of people standing still in a dark room.
  • The Humans is set in Bridget and Rich's apartment only over Thanksgiving.
  • The Duel Project was originally a drunken challenge by a Japanese producer to filmmakers Ryuhei Kitamura and Yukihiko Tsutsumi as to who of the two could make the best movie about two characters fighting each other in a single location a single week. The resulting movies were Aragami and 2LDK.
  • Fall only has four main actors (one of which dies early on) and mostly takes place on the radio tower that Becky and Hunter get stuck on.

  • October Daye: The second book, A Local Habitation, takes place almost entirely in and around ALH, while a Team Serial Killer picks off characters one by one.
  • The Railway Series, not for any sort of budget constraints but for realistic reasons. The narrow gauge railways on Sodor, particularly the Skarloey or the Arlesdale Railway; can only have interactions with the standard gauge cast at their junction points. Most of the books set on the Skarloey Railway in particular act like this, with the normal standard gauge cast encountering the narrow gauge characters at Crovan's Gate station, then the rest of these books' narratives happen on the isolated narrow gauge line. It gives the Skarloey Railway focused books a separate tone and character arc from the rest of the series, since other than those brief interactions at the junction; the books are carried mostly independently with their own cast apart from more famous series regulars.
  • Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the first-ever novel in the original Star Wars expanded universe, was originally developed as a low-budget film sequel written under the assumption that A New Hope wasn't going to be much of a box office success, and it really shows in the resulting book. It takes place almost entirely on a fog-shrouded planet, there are very few things which would have required new props or costumes, Han Solo is totally absent because Harrison Ford hadn't been signed on for a sequel yet, and there's not a single space battle. Of course, A New Hope went on to become the most successful film of all time at that point and there was no need for the bottle tactics when The Empire Strikes Back was made.

  • Bruce Springsteen's album, Nebraska. The album was largely recorded in Bruce's bedroom at home as demos. When he tried to record the songs with the rest of the E Street Band, they didn't evoke the same bleak, stark feel and instead decided to release the demos as the album.
  • The music video for "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars, which features Bruno dancing alone in an empty room. Especially considering how expensive the last video must've been.
  • Charli XCX made her fourth "studio" album how i'm feeling now from quarantine during the COVID pandemic, and all within six weeks (for reference, the gap between her previous two studio albums were 5 years). The production is intentionally less polished and noisier than her usual synthpop sound, and all her songs about driving and partying have been substituted with more introspective bangers about her mental state during the lockdown.

  • The first episode of the Cool Kids Table Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class takes place entirely in a single room, where the four players complain about how bad and convoluted the premise is.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The American Wrestling Association's infamous "Pink Room of Doom". Discovering at the very last second that their usual venue was double booked, they rented out a TV studio and taped two weeks of matches there. The stage was simply a ring with a pink backdrop, with no fans in attendance and no attempts made to hide the studio setting. The Pink Room of Doom turned out to be a Never Live It Down moment for the ailing promotion, as it became a helpful image for the company's financial woes.
  • As the COVID Pandemic began, major wrestling promotions typically switched from their touring schedules to trying to produce shows in single locations with as much simplicity as possible.
    • WWE initially taped all of their shows in an empty arena setup at the WWE Performance Center. For SmackDown and RAW, they soon moved to the "ThunderDome", featuring wrestlers performing in front of a massive screen of at-home viewers reacting to the show. WWE NXT got a similar deal with the Capitol Wrestling Center, which replicated the ThunderDome on a smaller scale and was eventually reconfigured to hold live fans.
    • All Elite Wrestling, at the start of lockdown, rushed over to the Nightmare Factory wrestling school (owned by AEW's own Cody Rhodes and Arn Anderson) in Norcross, Georgia, and filmed around five weeks of shows there in one night on a very simple stage and ring setup with no fans in attendance. After going through that footage, they set up at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida (part of the Jacksonville Jaguars' stadium complex, owned by the Khan family who also own AEW) and began to use that as their pandemic-era base of operations with slowly increasing fan attendance. At Daily's Place, they settled into a schedule of filming one episode of Dynamite live, then taping the next week's episode immediately afterwards, giving talent a full two weeks off between shows.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Bear in the Big Blue House:
    • The first two seasons have the majority of episodes take place only in and around the titular location, no place more. In later seasons, however, we get to see more of Woodland Valley.
    • In the fourth season, "To Clean or Not to Clean" stands out for taking place entirely in the Big Blue House in a season whose hallmark is seeing the characters in the wider Woodland Valley. It also recycles three of the show's regular recurring song numbers: "Clean Up the House," "Everybody in the Tub" and "Brush Brush Bree."

  • Cabin Pressure had one in nearly every series, generally featuring the main cast's interactions for most of the episode with one or no guest stars; the first season finale "Fitton", second series' "Limerick" and the foruth series episode "Xinhou". "Limerick" is the purest example, as it features no guest cast, is told entirely in real time and never leaves the flight deck.
  • The Sherlock Holmes (BBC Radio) radio drama "The Abergavenny Murder" takes place entirely in the Baker Street sitting room and consists of Holmes and Watson trying to discover what happened to the client who staggered in, asked for their help, and dropped dead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The short Ravenloft adventure that introduced Baron Evensong, darklord of Liffe, takes place entirely in one room. The challenge is to find a way out.

  • Arsenic and Old Lace is a farce that takes place entirely in a living room.
  • A Chorus Line conveniently takes place on a stage in a theatre. The entire plot is just one audition.
  • The Container takes place entirely in a 6-meter shipping container, where the characters hide as they are smuggled into England.
  • I'm Not Rappaport focuses on two elderly men sitting on a bench in Central Park.
  • The entirety of the play No Exit takes place in one room, where the characters are condemned to remain for ever.
  • Thornton Wilder's Our Town is performed with minimal scenery and many of the props are pantomimed, with the stage manager filling such additional roles as the minister at the wedding, soda shop owner, local townsperson, etc.
  • In Stags And Hens by Willy Russell, the bride and groom accidentally have their hen and stag parties in the same nightclub; the entire play takes place in the toilets of the club.
  • Strip Tease by Slawomir Mrozek and Lola Gruenthal is an abstract absurdist play set in a room, where the characters can't get out and are forced to communicate to figure out their situation.
  • Waiting for Godot is a dialog-driven play that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, just some people staying in one place waiting for someone.
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? takes place entirely in an apartment.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was made with fewer resources and in a shorter period of time compared to most other Zelda games (which typically suffer Schedule Slip). The development team accomplished this by recycling the engine and many assets from Ocarina of Time. This tactic was repeated with Oracle of Ages and Seasons (by reusing the Link's Awakening set), The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (by reusing the Phantom Hourglass set), and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (by reusing the A Link Between Worlds set); and in each case it was done to aim the greater resources at bigger installments (The Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, and Breath of the Wild, respectively).
  • In the latter half of Devil May Cry 4, since you are replaying the same levels/bosses as the first half, the level structure is just reversed, with Dante having to kill most of the bosses that Nero fought in the first half.
  • BROK the InvestiGator: Both segments of Chapter 4 take place primarily in one location. Brok's segment takes place inside of a laboratory as he investigates a murder while Graff's segment takes place inside of a bunker, with his only companion being Klay.
  • The Inverted Castle in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The level layout is exactly the same as the normal castle, just flipped upside down (though at least there's different bosses and enemies).
  • Codename: Tenka is set entirely in a lab, with plenty of identical-looking rooms and corridors throughout. Expect a lot of environments and rooms getting constantly reused, with minor changes in lighting and enemy types.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The remakes of Final Fantasy II have included post-game bonus content in which 2 of 3 dungeons are mirror images of the levels at the end of the regular game.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and its prequel Interlude recycle assets from the original SNES version of IV, as well as the PSP and DS remakes in the PSP and PC versions. It also recycles a lot of level and boss design.
  • Sonic Generations revolves around Sonic and his friends being caught in a simplistic white world, reliving memories of past games and going through their levels, one for each game.
  • This Is the Only Level revolves around escaping the same room over and over, with different variations each time.
  • Odin Sphere has only 8 locations, with 5 characters having to go through 7 of them each. Each location has the same set of enemies with the occasional bit of variation (like Velvet's run through Winterhorn Ridge where she's being chased by goblins along with the standard enemies) and generally has the same map layout throughout, just with rooms switched around for each character. Bosses are fought repeatedly by the characters (especially Belial, who's fought by every character, though with one of them it's part of a Dual Boss fight) with unique bosses only coming rarely.
  • The original Earthworm Jim's secret level, Who Turned Out the Lights, is an entire level that the player may never stumble upon. How could the time and effort needed to make such a level be justifiable? Easy. It consists of the player running around in the dark with the only new graphics being spotlights, doors, a silhouetted Jim, menacing orange enemy eyes, superimposed regular and AWOO-GA eyes for Jim, and giant menacing orange eyes. The level's music didn't even need composing, as it's the public domain Maple Leaf Rag. The level is fun and interesting and even has items hidden in hard-to-reach sections and a memorable setpiece (the aforementioned giant eyes).
  • The final level of Silent Hill (titled "Nowhere") consists entirely of reused rooms and assets from earlier sections of the game. Most notably, Nowhere closely resembles the hospital. However, some rooms are also taken from other areas, such as the school, the town center, and the antique shop.
  • The live-action FMV cutscenes in Roundabout are all shots of either Georgio in the front seat of the limo or a shot of the passenger in the backseat, all using the same static camera angles and with an obvious green-screen stock-footage background where appropriate. The only exceptions come from shots consisting entirely of Stock Footage and a few missions with characters standing in front of the same obvious green-screen.
  • Many Environmental Narrative Games are made by small indie developers with limited staff and budgets, and hence meet many of the conditions for this trope:
  • Mega Man (Game Gear) simply reuses content from the 2nd, 4th, and 5th NES games of the series.
  • With the exception of Zain and Geemel, Mega Man Xtreme simply reuses levels and bosses from X1 and X2.
  • RuneScape has a few quests that were created using minimal new assets that are referred to by the developers as bottle quests. One example is the Wanted! quest, which mostly consists of the player tracking a criminal around the game world.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has R-06, which has only three characters (Raiden, Sam, and Wolf), one background, and two cutscenes.
  • Senran Kagura Shinobi Refle has Asuka as the only character present, with an unseen avatar who is in charge of, ahem, massaging her. Its DLC did the same thing with some of the other girls.
  • Puyo Puyo Champions reuses and edits art assets from Puyo Puyo Quest and Puyo Puyo Tetris, its voice clips from Quest, and most of its soundtrack from games as far back as Fever 1. As for the content, it's one of the rare Puyo games without any story or anything resembling a cutscene, and most of the game is just battling with AI or local/online multiplayer. It is meant to to cater to the competitive crowd, or just lovers of Puyo Puyo's gameplay in general.
  • Halo 3: ODST reuses many assets from Halo 3, with even many of the internal environmental assets further reused (many of the levels take place in the exact same section of New Mombasa in which you found the Story Breadcrumbs triggering them in the Hub Level). The plot also focuses on a relatively small-scale battle compared to the big events that Master Chief is a part of.
  • The Bonus Episode of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, "Farewell", is set in just one location (the Price household), features just Chloe and Max for most of the episode, and is much shorter than a standard episode.
    • Similarly, the bonus episode of Life Is Strange: True Colors, "Wavelengths", is set in just one location (the record store in Haven Springs, though it does evolve during the seasons) and features only Steph and Mikey North, with voice-only cameos from Chloe Price and Rachel Amber.
  • Some Ace Attorney cases feature few to no new sets or characters.
    • Turnabout Beginnings, the first case of Trials And Tribulations, is the only case in the original trilogy apart from the first cases to lack an investigation segment. There are only two new characters apart from the victim- the defendant and the judge(who later shows up in court for the first half of the final trial).
    • Turnabout Storyteller, the fourth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice also only has a trial phase, and features two new witnesses apart from the defendant.
    • The Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band takes place entirely within three rooms (consisting of two rather similar-looking cabins and the mostly empty hallway that connects them) and has no trial segment, since it takes place during the sea voyage from Japan to Great Britain.

    Web Animation 
  • Doris & Mary-Anne Are Breaking Out of Prison: The whole series takes place in one jail cell, making it easier for the creator to animate the whole thing by himself, as he explains in a blog post:
    I knew I would be animating this series by myself, so I wrote and designed it to be economical. They’re short episodes with two characters confined to one setting, allowing me to get a lot of reuse out of everything. I gave myself some restrictions and wrote within that space so that I could tell a story about these two funny gals without giving up half-way in and throwing my Cintiq out of the window.
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary: Episode 27, the episode where Dr. Havoc, Kim, and Brock go to Couple's Therapy.
  • Unless you count the Machinima aspects of the show, the entirety of Arby 'n' the Chief mainly consists of two talking action figures that live alone in an apartment and are unable to venture out of it in fear of causing panic to the outside world.
  • Bonus Stage has a few bottle episodes that the fandom termed "Anti-Episodes" due to them often having nothing to do with their episode guide description:
    • Season 1 had "Recap", ostensibly about Joel and Phil reminiscing on the good old days. It was actually less than a sentence from each with a short bonus cartoon after the credits.
    • Season 4 had "Cursive Written Script". It was delayed a week due to trouble scripting it, mirroring the plot of June and the other characters being aimless without Joel to script, and released a day before the next episode. The voices were done by Shmorky, half of the episode took place in Phil's garage, and it, like "Recap", had more of the episode after the credits.
    • Season 5 originally had "Fe Fi Fo", to be about Joel accidentally making Phil a giant, but it was changed to "Five Minute Story Time", a story about a laptop's adventure narrated by Joel.
    • Season 6's "Phil the WereDevil" was originally about Phil being infected by malicious marine life, but was changed to an MTV-like special about the production of the episode or lack thereof.
    • Season 7 gave "Nerds and Geeks Are Not the Same", which was, instead of a regular cartoon, a sort of proto–abridged series with Andrew, Elly, Phil and Joel voicing Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto and a skeleton, respectively. The episode was released sooner than originally planned, pushing three other episodes behind it.
  • Minilife TV: "Home Alone" takes place entirely within Chris and Ian's house and involves Chris dealing with a burglar trying to rob Ian's Classic Space statue.

    Web Original 
  • Echo Chamber, the TV Tropes webseries, had an episode on Walk and Talk which was substantially shorter and simpler than a normal episode. Tropers were divided on whether its brevity was an asset or a liability, compared to the previous episode.
  • KateModern tended to follow a schedule of one episode every weekday, with Bottle Episodes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and a more special effects-heavy episode on Friday. This was sometimes subverted, either by having the bigger budget episode earlier in the week or by showing an additional, often more dramatic episode at the weekend.
  • Black Jack Justice has the episode The Road to Hell, which consists entirely of Jack and Trixie bickering with each other as they follow a suspect per car. There are no other speaking roles in the episode.
  • StewdioMACK episode "Mack Locked Down" is produced entirely in Mack's house during a statewide COVID-19 lockdown.


We're Doing a Bottle Episode!

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Main / BottleEpisode

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