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"The Cybermen are coming! All three of them!"
— Gag line by Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan in Doctor Who)

When any necessary role in a series is essentially represented by only a single person, even if it would be more realistic to have several. Instead of coming across a dozen different police officers depending on the nature of the crime and who's on duty that day, our heroes always deal with the same lieutenant. Or there's one doctor who treats every injury, from broken legs to melanoma. Or why a starship captain and the main bridge crew are always the ones going on away missions. This is mostly a way to avoid having to keep track of too many characters.

In adaptations, this often results from the creation of a Composite Character or characters to stand in for an entire group from the original work. Writers generally have to build up a back-story so the audience can care about a character, which has little payoff if we don't see much of them anyway. It is much easier from a director's standpoint to wrap one character in several incidental roles or just one overarching 'figurehead' role.

Economy Casts are contributing factors in Unwanted Harems too, as the pretty girls invariably focus on the Loser Protagonist, for lack of any other option. Any time the story calls for a male to do something, it's him — so he ends up as the only male character the girls get a chance to pay attention to on-camera. Similarly, if the boyfriend of the lead is the only man with an important role, the secondary characters may complain about being unable to attract men who don't seem to exist.

One danger of this is the marketing and executive branch of creating stories installs the Status Quo on the Economy Cast, and characters aren't allowed to develop too far out of their roles.

See Ghost Extras for when the non-core cast is onscreen but living in a separate universe. See also Two-Teacher School or Omnidisciplinary Scientist. A true story or adaptation may try to whittle down the cast by combining characters.

Take this trope to its logical extreme and you get a Minimalist Cast and often an Eternal Employee.

The trope is not about a character who fills more than one narrative role. An Economy Cast defies real-world logic, not just storytelling guidelines. Nor is this many characters that look the same.

Compare The Main Characters Do Everything. Frequently leads to the impression that the main characters are Always on Duty, or results in an Oddly Small Organization.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Used but also parodied on Lucky Star, where many of the minor background characters are played by a tiny ensemble of, more or less, Animated Actors (although the fourth wall is not outright broken until the closing "Lucky Channel" segment).
  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly comes off as this compared to the previous two installments, Battle of Gods and Resurrection 'F'. While those two movies had sprawling character lineups of fighters big and small, this resulted in many characters getting brief cameos and maybe a line or two. By comparison, Broly has a much smaller lineup for the primary story: Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Broly and Paragus (plus Cheelai and Lemo). While there are many other characters, they play minor roles, and in the case of Trunks, Goten and Piccolo, they only appear when the story demands their direct involvement.
  • Zig-zagged by Pokémon: The Series with the creation of the Nurse Joys and Officer Jennysnote , a large number of characters who are all essentially identical in appearance, role and personality, which saved the writers having to create a new character every time the traveling heroes went to a Pokémon center or got involved in a crime. This is Lampshaded and explained when the cast meets their second Officer Jenny and mistake her for their first one in the previous town: she clarifies that the first Jenny is is actually her cousin, and shows them a family photo of a dozen such completely identical cousins. The only detail that actually changes is the badge on their hat, which only works because each town only appears to have a single Jenny patrolling it!

    Fan Works 
  • Spirits of the Blitz is a Good Omens fanfic where Crowley is a double agent during the second World War. The author notes that Crowley should realistically have more superiors breathing down his neck, but cut them down to a single handler and three unnamed minders so the reader doesn't have to keep track of all of them.

  • Most war movies tend to invoke this trope, largely because it makes it easier for audiences to care about one character or a small group as opposed to an entire Division (which could consist anywhere from 10,000-20,000 soldiers) of them.
    • As an example, during Saving Private Ryan, in the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach, many brave soldiers fought and died. The main characters mention them by name, but the focus is on Captain Miller as well as the other characters who would later go on the next mission that takes up the rest of the film. The other men, such as the 82nd and 101st Airborne soldiers the main cast runs into during their mission, were heroes in their own right.
  • There are only five named, voiced characters in Home (2015). On the other hand, there are thousands of both human and alien extras.
  • In the B-Movie Mars Needs Women (1967), a single journalist turns up to be briefed on the Martian menace to our women. This is promptly handwaved as this guy drawing the short-straw because the collective news agencies thought the whole thing was a hoax, so they picked one guy to go on their behalf.
  • Halloween II (1981) - Haddonfield hospital seems incredibly understaffed, especially for a Halloween night. Dr Mixter appears to be the only doctor on call, Bud and Jimmy are the only paramedics, and Karen, Jill, Janet, and Mrs Alves are the only nurses.
  • My Name Is Emily filmed scenes in the mental hospital at the same time as scenes in Robert's classes - so there were more extras playing staff and patients than students. In the brief shot where Robert's class is packed, several crew members are there to make up the numbers.
  • High and Tight makes the Olsens orphans and Vinnie, Ryan, and Sara's parents absent to avoid having more cast members.

  • Appears in The Hunger Games books where bit characters are more likely to perform newly required tasks rather than a new character being introduced, even when it would be far more likely in real life for there to be more people involved. Furthermore, previous bit characters have a tendency to somehow reappear simply because it is easier than to write a new character in (e.g. the prep team).
    • Only tributes that have some relevance will be given names, and the rest are identified as "District X gender" (for example, "District 4 male" for that male tribute from District 4), even in supplementary material. Curious about the District 3 tributes in the 74th Hunger Games (the first one in the series)? You won't find anything, not even names.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts seems to have rather small class sizes if you think about it. JK Rowling has bluntly said she's amazed she could come up with forty or so students she could remember in Harry's year. It's also never clear if Harry, Ron, Neville, Dean, and Seamus are the only Gryffindor boys in their year (as they all share a dorm), and Hermione, Parvati and Lavender with the girls. Notably in the books, the houses all have classes separately apart from the occasional joint periods; in the film they had the whole year in class together to make the scenes look fuller.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Kate represents the LAPD. The show eventually got around this by turning her into Inspector Javert. It's mentioned that she spends all hours of the night listening to the police scanner, which would explain why she's always first on the scene.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this in an interesting way in the final season. The Big Bad - The First Evil - has a form the characters can't comprehend. But it's able to impersonate any character that has died in the series. Buffy herself has died twice in the show's continuity, and Spike as a vampire qualifies as being dead - so Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters could double up a lot and play The First in many episodes.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • We only ever see about seven Elders altogether, and only three have recurring speaking roles. It's implied there are more, so we can assume these are the ones watching over America.
    • Prue, Rex and Hannah appear to be the only people working at Bucklands auction house in Season 1 (aside from the security guard who gets murdered in "Wicca Envy"). Once they're killed off, the only other employee we see is a senior member called Claire who keeps clashing with Prue.
  • On NCIS, whenever they have a case that goes into FBI territory it is always something Gibbs' best friend Senior Special Agent Tobias Fornell has been working on for years, no matter what area the investigation is looking into (organized crime, homeland security, catching serial killers, smuggling, etc.). This has been Lampshaded a few times, once they showed his office was overflowing with paperwork and he complained the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Another time they showed Tony, Ziva, and McGee going through his case load and commenting on how diverse it was.
  • This is prevalent in House, where the three fellows and House perform every test and procedure, even those that only specialists would perform (at one point House assists in brain surgery). There is some Lampshade Hanging on this, as Dr. House makes it clear that he thinks that if you didn't do it, you can't trust the results.
    • Also, doctors would rather risk their careers by breaking and entering than hire someone else.
    • And they dig up a patient's dead dog once. You'd think they have lackies to do these things. Even if they are House's lackies.
    • The hospital appears to employ maybe three nurses tops and zero technicians.
    • That and, to put it very mildly, House isn't a people person. He'd much rather work with the few people who can tolerate him and do it all than work with a lot of people who'd rather not be around him.
  • For reasons discussed in "Film" above, in the BBC TV drama Colditz, about life for British officer prisoners in Germany's maximum security PoW camp, the character of Lt. Dick Player is a portmanteau, combining several Royal Navy and Merchant Navy officers who were inmates of the castle.
  • Secret Army, from the creator of Colditz, had roughly six German soldiers serving under two officers to track down Allied airmen in the Brussels area.
  • Perry Mason spent 141 episodes humiliating DA Hamilton Burger and police Lt. Tragg. It stands out all the more because Mason operated in the sprawling Los Angeles metro area and theoretically could have faced a different team of detectives on each case and literally dozens of DAs and ADAs at trial.
    • Although there were a few episodes where he did face someone else during that run...but he was specifically in another city or town.
    • What's more, in the novels, Perry would use a different investigator from the Paul Drake Detective Agency each book. In the TV series, Paul Drake would do all the investigation.
  • We see the detectives in the Law & Order franchise dealing with the same prosecutors, and vice versa, not to mention the same coroners and psychologists. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is probably the worst. In real special victims squads, the cops are frequently rotated out specifically because it's so psychologically damaging, but the show has the same two detectives there for over a decade.
  • The morgue in Pushing Daisies seems to have only one coroner, although the pilot seems to indicate that though Ned had been working as consultant to a Private Detective for a while, that coroner had never met him before, so perhaps there is/was another one.
  • The police characters in Third Watch would always meet the same paramedics and/or firefighters at the rescue scene.
    • Slightly justified in that they were all on the same block and worked the same shift. There were also a lot of extras in each group, without due attention necessarily being given to them. (Though to be fair, except for Jimmy and Alex, the whole FDNY was treated as an "extra").
  • A mild version on The West Wing: after six years of showing events in the White House, the show had to address the campaign for a successor. Promptly, three regular characters quit for jobs in the primary election campaigns... and another got to organize the nomination convention... and later ran for Vice President.
  • Stargate SG-1: Having a Colonel lead a team with just four people is really unusual, in Real Life Colonels typically command much larger units. Though it's not that strange based on the "official" mission profile of SG-1 being special forces recon. Most of the antagonists are not secretive, so sending a larger force to cover more ground is unnecessary.
  • Police Squad! featured Johnny The Shoe Shine Boy, who was Frank Drebin's informant in every single episode, no matter who or what he needed information about. To send things into pure parody, he was also an informant for numerous characters in random professions, explaining heart surgery to a surgeon and the afterlife to a priest.
  • Early episodes of M*A*S*H had a larger number of surgeons, including Spearchucker and several other one-time or background characters. Later, however, Hawkeye, Trapper, Henry and Frank (or Hawkeye, BJ, Potter and Charles after the cast changed) are the only resident surgeons seen in the entire 4077th.
  • This often happened with enemy races on the original series of Doctor Who. It was most painfully obvious with the Daleks, because by the time the show hit the 1970s the producers only had three very beat-up Dalek casings on hand and no money to build more. (The 1972 story "Day of the Daleks", for example, could not hide the fact that the attacking band of Daleks from the future consisted of exactly three Daleks.) Some stories, going back to the very first Dalek adventure "The Daleks", featured (very unconvincing) photo blow-ups of Daleks for background shots. Of course, with the advent of CGI, the new series expends some effort in the opposite direction, showing thousands and thousands of Daleks in one shot at the end of "Bad Wolf" (2005), though the Daleks were reintroduced earlier in the season with a single Dalek (in "Dalek").
    • A Lampshade Hanging in "Terror of the Zygons"; the Zygons declare their plan to Take Over the World, and the Doctor replies, "Isn't it a bit large for just the six of you?"
    • There is a practical reason to keeping the TARDIS Team down to 2-3 members, as well. Peter Davison's tenure was scripted like an ensemble show, with up to three companions (originally Tegan, Adric and Nyssa, with Turlough replacing Adric and Kamelion sort of replacing Nyssa) plus the Doctor crammed into the console room at once. It was difficult to give everybody an equal share, and it went on for two whole series. It's also one of the reasons why Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter, was jettisoned in the second season of Doctor Who.
      Lance Parkin: Their characteristics all overlap, like some Venn Diagram. Adric, Nyssa and the Doctor can all do science stuff; the Doctor, Adric and Tegan can all get petulant; Adric, Nyssa and the Doctor offer the non-human perspective. And so on. On TV, the three companions tended to smoosh together rather than get distinct personalities.
  • The SAMCRO chapter of the Sons of Anarchy consists of only eight members and a 'prospect'. This is small compared to the various other gangs they are allied or in conflict with including the other chapters of the motorcycle club. Also one of the members is mostly retired and sick enough to carry an oxygen tank with him. They are all extremely badass but if 2-3 of them are put out of commission, the gang becomes extremely vulnerable and they have to pull in people from other chapters to survive.
    • This gets Lampshaded a couple times one time by AUSA Potter when he points out the Sons combined membership is still only a mid-sized MC "Barely in the top ten" nationwide, and later when they take some casualties Jax points out if he loses any more members by their rules he would have to disband the charter.
  • Star Trek is a particular offender, with DS9 as the stand out because the main cast is supposed to be running a war, yet several episodes have most and/or all senior members of staff going on risky missions in the middle of nowhere.
    • Star Trek: Voyager might get something of a pass, since the general premise was a single ship stranded in the middle of nowhere, with half of the crew having been killed when the ship was dragged across the galaxy and only a small number of replacements from the former Maquis crewmembers they were chasing. However aliens who require extensive makeup may be limited in number. In "Deadlock" and "Fury", a Boarding Party of hundreds of Vidiian solders is represented by only two or three of them.
  • Slightly justified on The X-Files. Nobody cares about the X-Files and it's outside the FBI mainstream, so there aren't a lot of agents assigned to it. And they don't usually solve cases outside their department. They also interact with other FBI agents assigned to other cases, though those are usually one-episode characters.
  • The rebel slaves in Spartacus: Blood and Sand use this to their advantage. No matter how many men the Roman have, they can only attack with as many as can fit on a small set at one time.
  • JAG: Even though the show was on the air for ten seasons and had loads and loads of characters this trope came into play. For instance, if there would be an issue somehow involving the CIA, Clayton Webb would never be far away.
  • Hannibal runs into this with the forensics team. Jimmy is said to specialize in latent fingerprints, but is usually present at autopsies; and Beverly specializes in fiber analysis and not only performs autopsies, but traces a cell phone call at one point. Brian, thus far, has revealed no specialty, but also doesn't do very much.
  • Game of Thrones has the largest cast on television and yet still must struggle with this, given that the book series it's adapting has a cast of thousands. To simplify things, large groups that aren't central to the story tend to be represented by one or two characters. Grey Worm represents the Unsullied, Daario Naharis appears to be the only member of the Second Sons, and Meryn Trant represents the King's Guard whenever the King's Guard needs to do something assholish. Other groups, such as Dany's Dothraki followers, are theoretically still present but in practice never make any appearances to save on hiring extras.
  • In the first season of Tru Calling, the big-city morgue was run entirely by Tru, Davis, and Gardez (replaced with Jack), to the extent that Tru was alone on her first night. The writers seem to have noticed this, and the morgue had a fair number of extras in season two.
  • Pretty much every character that needs to go to hospital in The Shield is dealt with by Vic Mackey's wife.
  • In Enemy at the Door:
    • Any time the plot of an episode requires a single member of the Committee, it will be Dr Martel, even if the issue at hand is outside his area of expertise. Occasionally there will be a handwave that this happens to be the day he's covering for the colleague whose job it ought to be.
    • Any plot involving resistance against the Germans will likely have Clare Martel and/or her friend Peter Porteous involved somewhere, even if the plot would work just as well with entirely new characters. ("V for Victory" is a case in point: it could be told just as well without any Martels and Porteouses at all — but then there would be nothing for the main characters to do.)
  • Babylon 5 did its best to avert this, but still had to struggle with the realities of being a relatively small-budget sci-fi TV show, and used all the tricks in the book to overcome the limitations. Commentary for one episode reveals that, in a scene involving a constant stream of injured Narn refugees, the "hundreds" of Narn are all the same dozen-or-so extras cycling through the same door over and over again with different bandages on.
  • Played for Laughs as an initially accidental Running Gag in Gilmore Girls: Kirk does all the odd jobs around town.
  • Blake's 7. Several planets or cultures had a population of only one or two people, especially when they had to share the screen with a number of extras playing an opposing group. In the pilot episode, the people seen walking the corridors in the opening scene are later killed in the massacre, then make an Unexplained Recovery as prisoners in the transit cell with Blake. According to producer David Maloney he'd go through scripts and whenever he saw something like "Fifty guards rush into the room", he'd cross out the fifty and write "two". The infamous Bolivian Army Ending was filmed with only seven extras, who had to change their position once the camera had panned over them.
  • Space Precinct had a larger cast than some of these examples, but still managed to strongly imply that six beat cops, one sergeant and the precinct captain were the only people working in the titular precinct. No custody sergeant, no CSI techs, no detectives... No wonder Demeter City is such a dump.
  • The Worst Witch (1998 series):
    • There were four years' worth of students at Cackles, but scenes in the Great Hall involving the whole school looked quite small (there's around twelve in Mildred's year alone). And there only appears to be four teachers, one caretaker and one cook (in the book there were three). This would be just about plausible (one teacher could take each year at a time in classes) if there weren't scenes where Mildred's year are in class, and the other three teachers were freely walking around or chilling in the staff room.
    • An episode involving the girls going on a field trip had the school being split so that Miss Cackle and Miss Bat took others bird-watching, while Miss Hardbroom and Miss Drill took the rest camping. This split is far from even - as the latter group just has Mildred, Maud, Enid, Jadu, Ethel and Drucilla. This is because the episode was filmed in Canada (as the series was a joint production with a Canadian network) and those who appeared on screen were flown out to shoot there.
    • Agatha Cackle in the book had a whole army of helpers for her plan to take over the academy the morning after Halloween. In the TV series, she just has two minions Betty Bindweed and Millicent Coldstone. This overlaps with Conservation of Ninjutsu - as in the book, Mildred is able to easily turn them all into snails with one sneaky spell. However they overpower her and infiltrate the school in the TV series, making for a more action-packed battle.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Certain places seeming under-staffed in Storybrooke can be hand-waved by the place not being real, and only created by Regina's Dark Curse. Granny is always behind the counter in both her diner and B&B except on occasions when Ruby is involved in the plot.
    • The battle between Camelot and Dun Broch in Season 5 appears to have about thirty participants altogether.
  • A storyline in the Irish soap Fair City ended with hostages being released from a house. After the main characters were taken out, several crew members had to jump on camera as other hostages because they didn't have enough extras.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Retail: Lampshaded in one strip when Marla complains about having to do reviews for 40 employees. Val is surprised they have that many, given how she could only name eight of them.

  • In WHO dunnit (1995), despite having a hotel full of people and a lifetime of business associates, all of the happenings in Tony's Palace revolve around the same five suspects.

  • Lampshaded in William Shakespeare's Henry V, in which the Chorus asks us to "piece out our imperfections with your thoughts / Into a thousand parts divide one man ... Think when we talk of horses that you see them...." Read it here.
  • A Very Potter Musical pokes fun at the fact that there are only twelve actors total portraying the entire student body of Hogwarts.
    Hermione: Snape picked you out of hundreds if not five Gryffindors.
  • As you would expect, all theatre productions that require a lot of extras do this.
  • Little Shop of Horrors can be performed with only eight actors, by having the actor playing Orin double as the various people who offer Seymore fame and fortune. This is supposed to be symbolic of how Orin's death paid for Seymore's fame, but obviously it has other benefits.
  • Parodied in "Dumb Bobeš", one of the plays of Jára Cimrman Theatre in Prague. The whole play is a "reconstruction" of the fragments left from the mostly lost original and alternates scenes from the play with the "scientific" explanations of what happens. At one point they explain that their actors play multiple roles in the play because otherwise the wages of so many actors would make the tickets overly expensive.
  • Be More Chill usually only has 10 actors—there’s the supercomputer villain, 1 guy that plays all the adults, and 8 students—so in songs like The Smartphone hour, which requires more than 8 students, everyone not playing their own character plays background students

  • Incorporated into most long-running mystery/crime series not involving an actual police detective. Since it is inevitable that the police will turn up to investigate crimes, and that they will have information the sleuth needs, the sleuth gets a cop "buddy", if he is friendly with the force (Detective Dennis Becker on The Rockford Files), or a cop stooge, if he is as arrogant as Sherlock Holmes (Inspector Lestrade).
  • Supplementary material and adaptations of Clue have to go to some lengths to explain why only one man lives in a Big Fancy House, why there's only one maid (Ms. White) for the whole thing (especially common in period adaptations when domestic help was much more common), why there's only six suspects, etc. They usually work through it like this: Boddy was the last surviving member of a rich family, most of the help had the weekend off, he invited his closest friends to his estate for a private dinner party, and were cut off from the outside world by a thunderstorm, blizzard, etc.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The original trilogy takes this to an extreme; except for one-shot characters who turn up in single cases as suspects or victims, it has only one detective, Detective Gumshoe, who is the detective in virtually every case, as well as one judge (except in situations where a second judge is absolutely necessary, when his almost identical brother is introduced). The game engages in frequent Lampshade Hanging over this, with Gumshoe often expressing disbelief at how often he ends up investigating a murder where Phoenix is involved. It should be noted despite the extremes in which it goes to, the series still has a huge cast.
    • Larry Butz, Lotta Hart, and Wendy Oldbag show up multiple times, seemingly just to save the time designing and introducing new characters. Oldbag is particularly egregious, since Larry and Lotta at least get along with Phoenix and company; Oldbag has even less reason to be showing up everywhere that they do.
    • After Phoenix stops being a lawyer in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Gumshoe finally gets a break... only for Ema Skye, a former one-shot character who replaced Maya Fey as Phoenix's sidekick in a past case, to take up Gumshoe's exact position, except relating to Apollo instead. It takes her much less time to lampshade hang on this phenomena.
    • Characters occasionally refer to contemporaries-Gumshoe to other detectives, Edgeworth to a superior organization of prosecutors, and Maya to other residents of Kurain Village all come to mind-but the cast we actually see and interact with is the Economy Cast we know and love. Strangely, in the fifth case of the first game, you must talk to the Chief of Detectives at his desk to get a piece of evidence, but we don't actually get to see a sprite of the police chief-possibly because this single line of dialog is the only time we encounter the chief in the entire game. This case also introduces a couple other detectives or former officers, but two of them never show up again and the third one only gets a few minor appearances through the rest of the series.
  • Every sporting event in Criminal Case is hosted by the same (unnamed) announcer, whose line of work ranges from the local district's Roller Derby event to an international Road Racing rally.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal Captain Quark assembles the Q Force, an elite team of specialists to help him save the day. Who are these specialists? Why, nothing more than a bunch of random NPCs you met in the first game.
  • In the Telltale series of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, this is downplayed with a few new characters being added every episode... but having most of them show up in different roles further down the line. This becomes especially egregious with Sybil Pandemik, who adopts over 8 different jobs in the course of the series, all of which help further the plot in some way.
  • Only three (later four) male idols exists in Idolish 7. Then again, they're relevant to the plot.

  • Starslip is set in a huge space museum / old war ship. There are occasional references to other crew members, but we only really see about 5 of them, despite the huge numbers that would be needed to run such a ship.
  • In TwoKinds, Mike and Evals represent the whole crew of their ship.

    Web Original 
  • The Gumdrops - Word of God is that this is the reason episodes usually have only a small percentage of the main cast. The first episode, "Miss Lucy," is the only one to have all seven characters together - and it was actually the fourth one filmed because it was that hard to get people on set at the same time.
  • Noob is set in a MMORPG, yet only two guilds are ever seen in the main faction, the Empire: the titular Noob guild and the main roster of the elite Justice Guild - which happens to be the former team of Noob's leader, the one that Noob's lancer wants to join, and which includes the younger brother of Noob's healer. Justice has close to two hundred members according to the novel version, but the fact that only the same handful of members are ever seen is so prominent that some viewers of the webseries version raise eyebrows when a piece of dialogue alludes to the other members. Roxxor guild from the Coalition has the same problem as only their main roster is ever seen as well. The guild of Gaea Admirers has an unspecified number of members, but Meuhmeuh is the only one the has been seen more than once, which makes him look like Gaea's self-appointed personal assistant and bodyguard within the guild.
  • Homestar Runner has pretty much the only consistent people in Free Country, USA, be the twelve (thirteen, counting Cardgage) main characters. Occasionally, we see other characters inhabiting the place, especially ones who debuted in very early cartoons, but even if you were to add up every character with a speaking role, you'd have trouble cracking thirty. 90% of the time, if there's a job or role to be filled, it will be filled by one of the main cast. Despite this, FCUSA has a fair number of references and accommodations that imply it to be a larger town, most notably a recurring office building where we only see the main characters at work. It creates a surreal effect in toons like "A Decemberween Pageant", where the entire cast puts on a play in front of an audience that we never actually see. Lampshaded in "Kick-a-Ball", where the announcer starts wondering out loud who they're broadcasting the game to, when the entire town is participating in it.

    Western Animation 
  • Lampshaded repeatedly in The Simpsons. It is heavily implied that Wiggum, Lou, and Eddie are the only three cops employed in the whole town of Springfield, Kent Brockman and Arnie Pye are the only staff of Channel 6 News, and Dr. Hibbert and Dr. Nick are the only two doctors. Minor well-known characters such as Gil and the Squeaky-Voice Teen appear to hold every single low-level job in the town, and almost every major recurring character goes to the same church.
  • Occurs somewhat frequently in various Transformers cartoons, where the might of the Decepticon and Autobot forces are represented by only a handful of characters, as seen in the original cartoon, Beast Wars and Armada, among others.
  • Similar to the above examp,e with The Simpsons, Miraculous Ladybug has a very small cast full of the same characters making multiple appearances, often having the Villain of the Week be either a Recurring Boss, or a Palette Swap of a prior villain. Three episodes set in a waxworks use the in-universe celebrities as the statues, simply by having them stand still.
  • Almost every single retail worker job in The Amazing World of Gumball is staffed by one character, Larry. The ramifications of this are frequently played with; for instance, him quitting all his jobs causes the city to turn into a post-apocalyptic hellscape because there was no one else to run anything.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic will often have some characters physically appear for cameos without any lines - saving them the trouble of bringing their voice actors in unnecessarily. Notably in the 2017 movie, Cheese Sandwich has a non-speaking cameo so as not to bring back "Weird Al" Yankovic for the sake of one scene, though he did ultimately return for an episode. Several movie characters, such as Tempest Shadow and Queen Novo, as well as characters voiced by other guest stars, like Grand Pear (William Shatner) or Chancellor Neighsay (Maurice Lamarche), came Back for the Finale in the show proper, but were also silent.
  • PB&J Otter. It's implied the Watchbirds are the only law enforcement in the community, and Dad's General Store appears to be the Only Shop in Town. Also, Doctor Molar Fox appears to be the town's only doctor/dentist, while Fanon holds that Mayor Jeff has been mayor for an ungodly amount of time. Plus, all the kids play in the same playground.