In some ensemble shows (especially the Sitcom), the main characters form a tight social circle. They all know each other, and do everything together.
In other ensemble shows, the main characters form a really tight social circle, so tight that it seems more like an exclusive club than a bunch of friends. Any other friends they have are never as close, and will inevitably be introduced to the entire group. The characters will panic if one of them hangs out with an outsider for too long, fearing that this will destroy the circle. Any gathering they attend consists of them and the 24-Hour Party People.
In still other ensemble shows, the main characters form a really, really, really tight social circle, so tight that other characters barely exist. Outsiders either vanish without a trace after one episode, leave for petty reasons like "man hands", leave because they can never be part of the group, or are eternal enemies of the circle.
It's almost as if the main characters had some special criteria they use to exclude others, like whether the actor playing them gets top billing or not.
For ensemble and sitcom shows, there's usually a few justifiable reasons to keep the main cast as a closed group of friends for the story. Keeping the amount of main characters limited helps keep the audience focused on the main characters instead of having everyone coming into the scenes all at once and confuse or distract the audience. It also keeps production costs down since it's easier to write and direct for a group of 6 people than to do the same for a much larger group. When done right, the audience may not notice or care that the main cast of characters are hanging out with each other more than other people. When done poorly, it can make the main cast look like they can't be friends with anyone else but each other.
Most shows that have this make it an integral part of the show, or at least do a Lampshade Hanging about it. Compare with Cool Loser. Possibly the result of an Economy Cast or Friendless Background. A limited attempt to avert this is Social Circle Filler and 24-Hour Party People. A bit of The Main Characters Do Everything, with "everything" including everyday socialization.
- Two of these exist in Kodomo No Jikan. Rin, Mimi and Kuro (and, depending on what they're doing, Rin will drag Aoki into it) make up one, Aoki, Houin, Shirai and Oyajima (the only four named teachers, and at times, the only four teachers) making up another. Aoki was shown having outside of work friends once, really early on. They haven't shown up again. When there's even other teachers in existence (sometimes nameless, non-student people will be seen in the Teacher's Lounge, but not normally) the main 4 are treated like the only ones in existence. The other students are never even named.
- In Pretty Sammy, both Misao and Sasami (despite the second being supposedly more social) only hang out with each other and their parents.
- In Ranma ½, ancillary characters are hardly ever named and never seem to play any significant part of the main cast's lives. If anything, they're just admirers. The main cast (The Tendo and Saotome families, the Chinese Amazons, and the Fiancee Brigade) and the second-string characters all seem to be a self-contained unit. This is understandable, as regular humans are too fragile to hang out with this bunch without getting hurt.
- Sailor Moon did this too. One early subtext for the television show alludes to each character's situation making it hard for them to make friends, despite later seasons having them meet new people every few episodes; most of the new people they met were Victims Of The Week who never showed up in more than one episode. The only normal friends any of them have are Naru and Umino.
- Usagi seemed to have a broader social circle in the first season, especially if you count her family and teacher. Almost all of these characters were reduced to one token appearance per season (if they showed up at all) from Season 2 onward, with the senshi hanging out with each other pretty much exclusively. This is reinforced by the fact that almost every episode has them becoming good friends with the Victim of the Week but after the episode ends, said person is never seen or heard from again.
- One episode during the opening Filler arc of Sailor Moon R made this especially apparent. The episode has the cast decide to put on a play. No thought was given to casting anybody from outside of the five Sailor Senshi, Mamoru, Naru, Umino, and the two unknown villains.
- Problematic in Yes! Pretty Cure 5, as the small circle of friends is identical to the team of Magical Girls. Urara explicitly has no other friends, Nozomi and Rin are overly reliant on each other, and Karen's personality could push people away, but there's really no good explanation for why Komachi never hangs out with anyone else.
- Haruhi Suzumiya. No one appears to have any friends outside the SOS Brigade except Kyon (who has exactly two) and Mikuru, whose friend Tsuruya pretty much gets honorary SOS Brigade membership. Somewhat justified in that Haruhi's an abrasive Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Kyon actively seeks boredom, and the rest of the Brigade is technically just there to keep an eye on those two (though they warm up to each other eventually), and have various other issues that mean they lack any pre-existing social circles.
- Azumanga Daioh is guilty of this: Chiyo, Sakaki, Osaka, Tomo, Yomi,Kagura, Kaorin, Yukari, and Nyamo all go to Chiyo's summer home. That's the entire main cast. And two of those are teachers. With the exception of Kaorin (who has at least a few friends from her other class and the clubs she attends) and Chiyo (who mentioned a friend in America and keeps in touch with her elementary school friends), it seems that the only friends that they have are named above. (That counts the teachers, by the way.)
- Then again, most of those characters aren't the type to have wide social circles. Sakaki tends to scare people away by accident, Osaka lives in her own little world, Chiyo has a massive age difference with her peers that makes it difficult for her to relate to them, and it's implied that Tomo and Yomi are doomed to be each other's only real friends due to their personalities. As for Nyamo and Yukari...they're basically the "peek into the future" of what Tomo and Yomi will be like. Nyamo does eventually come to the conclusion that she needs to fix this and at least start dating people.
- In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, friends that are not directly related to Ala Alba fade in importance until they're barely there at all. It's also noted in story by some of the other classmates feeling somewhat alienated. Ala Alba is actually an exclusive club, though.
- In Amanchu!, none of the main characters seem to have any friends outside of the diving club. They are mainly seen hanging out with each other and are hardly ever seen interacting with any of the other students. Hikari might be a bit of a loner, despite her open, friendly demeanor, but Futaba is seen to have left behind quite a few friends in her home town, so she should be able to make new ones. The twins Ai and Makoto also don't seem to socialize much either and are mostly seen together.
- Hinagiku, Miki, Risa and Izumi of Hayate the Combat Butler are all friends, and are almost always seen interacting with each other exclusively. As the story continues, the social circle expands a little to include Hayate and Nagi and eventually several others, but still rather limited.
- Isumi, Nagi, Wataru and Sakuya share the same dynamic, being childhood friends, they are hinted to have grown up together, mostly because their parents were all friends/family as well, and have limited interaction with anyone else. Isumi is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Wataru spends all his time not at school trying to keep his business running, and Sakuya goes to another school supposedly. Nagi started off being a Hikikomori but has begun to start expanding her social circle because of Hayate's influence.
- The characters of Higurashi: When They Cry have no friendships outside of their gaming club, possibly because no one else likes playing when cheating is part of the game. After new guy Keiichi is welcomed into it, he makes no more friends in town.
- THE iDOLM@STER - The girls aren't shown to have any friends aside from the 765Pro ones. The only one who has a named friend is Azusa, but even then, Tomomi isn't seen or voiced during the entire show.
- Ramen Fighter Miki: Being a Deconstructive Parody of the Shōnen and Fighting Series, once the primary cast is introduced, the only people they seem to encounter besides each other are the customers at their stores. Also justified, because the core cast being Arrogant KungFu Guys, they are too mean to have friends.
- In Saki, most of the characters who are in their high school's mahjong team form a fairly tight-knit circle of friends, although some often end up becoming friends with rival players. It's somewhat lampshaded in Saki Biyori, when Hiroe and Kinue Atago, members of Himematsu's mahjong team and daughters of Senriyama's coach, Masae, sort their New Year's cards, and find that the largest pile is for the two of them and their mother(their father is apparently alive but has never been seen), prompting Hiroe to note that the three of them "have a lot of common acquaintances."
- Invoked in the XY arc of Pokémon Adventures, as the group of traveling friends is explicitly trying to avoid other people in fear of Team Flare finding and killing them.
- The K-On! manga has this effect quite noticeably, with about three or four other characters that occasionally come into the plot (Sawako most often). Kyoto Animation tried to avert this in the second season by giving the other students names and distinctive designs, but it still gets brought up as a plot-point when the girls try to attract new members, only for it to get pointed out that other students probably don't want to break up their synergy by joining. Interestingly, this was all probably a good thing: when the manga had its re-start, and a number of new characters were introduced, some fans complained about there being too many characters.
- Almost everyone who gets any significant screentime in Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is a major reason they're all so screwed up.
- In Yotsuba&!, the titular character was under the impression that her Daddy's only friend is Jumbo, though she was eventually forced to acknowledge Yanda. Based on the conversation the three had during the Barbecue chapter, it's clear that they do have other friends and acquaintances, but evidently they're not close enough with those other people to hang out with them.
- Subverted in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. While the student council started off the series primarily interacting among each other, most of them end up becoming part of other social circles, and members of those various circles interact more often as the series continues.
- Averted by Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane — although the story focuses mainly on Mary Jane and her "inner circle" of close friends, it's often established that Mary Jane herself is a popular and well-liked girl, so we will often see panels of her chatting to her other friends, some of whom (including a goth girl called Jessica) recurringly pop up every so often.
- Played straighter with Mary Jane in the main comics. While some writers will remember to have her hang out with someone whom isn't Peter or someone she knows through Peter like a fellow actress or model, a lot forget. The Fridge Logic sets in when you begin to wonder why someone as outgoing as she is knows so few people.
- Any number of superheroes especially in their personal lives. Clark Kent, for example, doesn't seem to have any male friends at all. He's shown occasionally socializing with Jimmy or Ron Troupe, but its not a close association. Everyone else is his various ex girlfriends, relatives, or coworkers. Even as Superman, his only close friends are Batman and Wonder Woman (he's much more formal with pretty much any other hero).
- There's also Pete Ross, Clark's best friend from Smallville, plus various miscellaneous (mostly one-shot) characters Clark hung out with in Smallville pre- and post-Crisis. Apparently, Clark's social circle in Smallville seemed a bit larger than in Metropolis...
- Robin Series: The group of six friends Ives pulls together at Gotham Heights seemed to only hang out with each other at lunch and after school. It was clear that some of Callie's basketball teammates considered her a trusted friend, but they didn't hang outside of school, and while Tim had plenty of other friends that was all in his masked life and for most of his time at GHHS his superhero pals didn't know his civilian identity.
- At the beginning, Rudi used to meet many different friends, but later his social circle shrunk to Freddy, Bully and Heinz. And the Girl of the Week.
- Justified in W.I.T.C.H.. They have little time for socialization due to constantly jumping between dimensions in order to save the day, and four of them are already outcasts to begin with: Will and Taranee have severe trust issues that makes it difficult to interact with others, Irma's abrasive sarcasm drives away people unwilling to deal with her Sugar-and-Ice Personality, and Hay Lin is the local Cloudcuckoolander that no one ever wants to speak to. Cornelia used to have a wider social circle, but her undeclared war with the Grumper sisters and the hurt from being separated from her best friend Elyon made her retreat to only hanging out with her fellow Magical Girls.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino form one on a consistent basis. Other examples in specific stories:
- Young Bolt and his six puppy friends in The Seven.
- Mittens, Petey, and Peteys dog friends in The Survivor.
- Pigeons Vinny, Joey, and Bobby (often joined by Kelvin the labradoodle) in The Protection Payment.
- Tamora Pierce's set of four foster siblings refer to themselves as a circle, get annoyed if one of them tries to make a Love Interest as a part of "the circle," and defensively mention that it's okay to have friends outside of "us."
- The Baby-Sitters Club: The members of the club become like this in later books. The first five books had them having friends outside the club: in 7th grade Kristy and Mary Anne eat lunch with the Shillaber twins, while Claudia and Stacey hang out with a large group of boys and girls instead. They ditch all their other friends in 8th grade, when the BSC start sitting together at lunch every day, with only Mary Anne's boyfriend being allowed to join them occasionally. Whenever any of them tries to make new friends, the other girls would become very possessive, picking apart the outsider and/or guilt-tripping their fellow club member for "neglecting" the club.
- In The Mother-Daughter Book Club series, the five main characters - Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan, and Becca - seem to almost exclusively hang out with each other, their families, and whatever boyfriends any of them currently have. Jess does have a few other friends at her school, and Cassidy is said to have (mostly male) hockey buddies, but aside from that they don't seem to have much bigger social circles.
- Similarly, most of the Animorphs (particularly Jake) are noted as having friends in the early books, but as the series goes on, they apparently lose touch with said friends until all they really have is each other. Justified because when you're the sole resistance against an alien invasion, with said aliens capable of being anyone from a bus driver to your own family members, you start to trust other people less.
- Most of the main cast of Kill Time or Die Trying have few, if any, friends outside of the WARP club, and most spend more time with one another than with their own families.
- Friends is probably the most obvious example; the six friends barely seem to know anybody other than their families and each other. And their Girl of the Week, of course.
- This was lampshaded in one episode. The main characters are all hanging out at Monica's apartment when someone knocks at the door. Everyone is stunned for a moment, and Phoebe actually counts to make sure that, yes, they're all already there. No one says anything out loud, but you can tell they're all thinking, "If we're all here, who the hell is at the door!?"
- Another time, Monica and Phoebe were the apartment and the phone rings. Phoebe says it can either be Chandler, Joey, Ross or Rachel.
- Yet another time, when Chandler suggests to Joey, Phoebe and Monica they have a surprise party for Rachel 'and invite all her close friends', Joey just has to yell to Ross in the bathroom...and they're all invited.
- Another episode has Chandler, making up an excuse to leave, say he's going to meet up with some friends. When he's gone, a confused Joey asks, "He has other friends?"
- Whenever the friends do try to become friends with other people, it usually never lasts because the friends or the new friends don't like each other. An example of this is when Joey gets a female roommate and leaves after a few episodes because she couldn't stand Monica and Chandler and Joey refused to ditch them.
- Plus the writers ensure no Love Interest sticks around long enough to work their way in. Two thirds of the gang pair off, (Chandler/Monica, who are together for 6 seasons and Ross/Rachel who have an on/off relationship for the whole show before deciding to get together for good in the finale) and Joey's still single by the end. Phoebe is the only one who actually marries outside of the group, and even then her boyfriend didn't become serious until the last season and their wedding was a couple of episodes before the season finale.
- And ironically there are always a lot of people (in the background) at their parties. A bit strange since the friends don't seem to hang out with anyone but each other.
- Seinfeld had the same scenario as Friends. There was nobody outside the foursome whom they could stand — outsiders were either the Girl of the Week, recurring irritants like Newman and Peterman, or the Meddling Parents.
- This was even pointed out in one episode:
George: You know what would be great? If he [an employer] could just see me with some of my black friends.
Jerry: Yeah, except you don't really have any black friends. Outside of us, you don't really have any white friends either.
- Another episode had Jerry rebuff a potential friend with, "You're a nice guy, but I actually only have three friends. I really can't handle any more."
- Kramer occasionally makes reference to other friends of his. When Jerry asks why they've never met these friends, Kramer shoots back that his other friends wonder why they have never met Jerry.
- In fact Kramer, of all of them, is clearly the one with the biggest visible social circle — Newman is clearly a close friend and less frequently we also see his pal Mickey. There's also the never-seen Bob Sacamano and Lomez.
- This was even pointed out in one episode:
- Degrassi: The Next Generation has a cross-clique cast. Up until Season 4 there were only two grades of importance. Since then there was always one empty grade, which lacked any sort of main cast to it. However the cast can be friends with just about anyone in the opening titles, or at least aware of their lives. Which is odd given the size of the school.
- On Psych, none of the characters are exactly social butterflies. It becomes more explicit in one episode when Shawn and Juliet leave town briefly. Gus, Lassiter, and Henry are left sitting around and catching up on grocery shopping. They even all bump into each other while shopping and have a conversation that amounts to "We're busy this weekend, right guys? We totally have friends who aren't Shawn or Juliet!"
- Juliet herself has at multiple times tried to expand her social circle, especiall in regards to having female friends. As for Shawn himself, while he does know and itneract friendily with a fair bit of people, Gus remains his one true close friend (Henry himself remarks Gus was one of the few constants in Shawn's life.)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer is another example of this trope. It was partly explained away in-show in the early seasons by many plots turning on the fact that Buffy and her friends were unpopular and socially ostracized by their fellow high school students. After the gang graduated from high school, the show did a Story Arc based on the supposed dissolution of the gang, only to inevitably bring them all back together having learnt An Aesop about the value of their friendship.
Buffy: What? Like I'm one of those losers who can't make friends outside her tight little circle? No. I'm friendly. We bonded instantly. Peas in a pod. Bonded peas.Anya: Really? Um, what's Sophie's last name?Buffy: (pause) Okay, shut up.
- In fact, after the "Core Four" characters (Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles) were established in the first episode, any new cast members were almost invariably love interests of the original characters. The only exceptions were Dawn (we'll just say she was adopted and leave it at that) and Spike (at first) because a super-strong vampire ally is too useful to turn down.
- Lampshaded in one episode where Buffy invites Sophie, a friend from work, to her birthday party.
- Lampshaded again in "Flooded". When someone calls Buffy at the house, she wonders aloud, "Who's calling me? Everyone I know lives here."
- LazyTown's nine recurring characters appear to be its entire population, despite the grocery store and bank that are occasionally visible in the background, and the houses that clearly don't belong to the cast visible in aerial shots of the town. When you add in the invisible parents of the child characters, the effect is rather creepy if you give it too much thought.
- Not to mention the fact that the mayor also doubles as the town's librarian, school principal, postmaster, banker, shopkeeper, etc. Presumably because the rest of the town's citizens are too lazy to do their jobs.
- Sportacus also seems be the only form of law enforcement in the town, though the only people who ever seem to get into trouble are the other eight main characters.
- LazyTown Extra has Ziggy visiting local kids, and interviewing them. Everybody else is at home in LazyTown, though Stephanie has somehow wound up with multiracial back-up dancers.
- Somewhat justified in How I Met Your Mother: Robin's from Canada and only recently moved to New York at the start of the series and, because he threw away his life before 2001, the only people that Barney knows other that the girls he sleeps with are his work buddies, and it's mentioned that he became friends with Ted (and by extension Marshall and Lily) after meeting him in the men's bathroom and immediately deciding to "teach [him] how to live." We know Marshall has law buddies, but, except for Brad in a couple of episodes, we don't see them regularly enough. However, we rarely see one of Lily or Ted's friends outside the circle, and we aren't really given a reason why.
- We've seen one of Lily's friends. When they're together they revert to the way they acted when they were closest.
- Lily's other friends, other school teachers, turn out to be Whoo girls who have more in common with Robin.
- In the same episode as the above example, we also meet Ted's friend Punchy (Adam Puncherelli), who has appeared other times, such as when Ted is almost his best man.
- Lampshaded in one episode where the gang is stranded in Barney's apartment during Hurricane Irene. Ted says he has something to say, and he means it from the bottom of his heart: He wishes he had branched out and made more friends in his twenties.
- S Club, though being an English band that moved to the US (and to Spain for the last series), who change cities every few weeks, it mostly makes sense.
- Coupling. In the first episode the two main characters have their partner (the other main character), one close friend, and their ex. The two circles combine, giving them each another friend. (When Jeff gets replaced by Oliver, he brings in his ex, but it's still a very small circle.) It's particularly strange in Susan's case because, while Steve and Patrick become good friends, Susan doesn't even like Jane but they hang together a lot.
- The four main male characters of The Big Bang Theory seem to both hang out together and work together (at separate departments in Caltech). But there are occasional glimpses into an expanded social circle, just not one we see on a regular basis like Stuart from the comic book store. Because of the way the show is set up, it often seems like they have more friends than the supposedly cooler Penny, whose friends seem to mainly consist of 24-Hour Party People.
- Penny has been shown at times to have many friends outside of the main cast, we just very rarely see them or get a name because they are part of a group. It's implied she knows how awkward they can be in social situations and avoids introducing them (not even her geek boyfriend, especially when watching football). In later seasons Penny social circle really DOES seem to have dwindled down to just the guys, Amy, and Bernadette but it can probably be explained away as Leonard destroying her "ability to tolerate idiots" extending past just the people she dates.
- Sheldon explicitly limited his friends cap to four people, because he doesn't care to waste energy on five or more. He also is the most averse to new social experiences, often ranting at newcomers like Priya, Bernadette and Stuart for upsetting his own personal status quo. Typically after a few episodes he ends up warming up to them but he is the poster child for "socially awkward genius."
- Howard's bachelor party reflected an aversion of this trope; in addition to the core group of himself, Raj, Leonard, and Sheldon, the party was also attended by Stuart, Barry, and Wil Wheaton, who were making their 15th, 8th, and 5th appearances on the series respectively.
- Frasier has references made to Daphne's friends a few times, and even a small number of appearances or telephone conversations for them. And while Martin has his bar friends and old buddies on the force, we only hear of Roz's dates, not her friends. Frasier and Niles' close relationship is even used as a plot point, with Frasier realising that Niles is one of his very few friends. He even laments at one point that he had a larger circle of friends when he was in Boston.
- This gets used as the impetus for the plot of one episode, where Frasier decides to try and use his radio show to make new friends. The one guy he does arrange to meet, however, turns out to be a total bore who only talks about esoteric things that he personally is interested in.
- Justified for most of the main cast in Pushing Daisies - Ned has long been fairly aloof, Emerson is grumpy and Chuck spent most of her life taking care of shut-ins, but it seems weird that Olive doesn't appear to have any other friends. Admittedly, her personality might be a little bit much for some, but you'd think there'd be plenty of others who'd find her charming.
- Well, she seems to be in reasonably good terms with her old jockey pals.
- The Power Rangers, especially in the original series, never seem to hang out with anyone except each other, and especially in the early seasons never seem to even talk to any civilians on a regular basis aside from Ernie the juice bar guy and Bulk and Skull. Anyone else they crossed paths with would be a one-off character who they would rescue from the bad guys and then never see again.
- This was especially ridiculous because the Rangers as originally written were supposedly some of the coolest kids in school (even Billy, somehow) yet they didn't seem to have any friends outside of their Five-Man Band. And if they did make a new friend, he or she would end up becoming a Ranger before long.
- Similarly, the Dino Thunder Rangers seemed to spend a lot of time together despite the fact that they explicitly came from different social circles before becoming Rangers: Conner's a jock, Ethan's a nerd, and Kira's a rock musician — local Alpha Bitch Cassidy even wondered out loud why the three were even talking to each other when she first saw them. It helped that Ethan introduced the others to the Local Hangout and they started frequenting it too, but still...
- Thus was finally justified in Power Rangers Samurai, where an episode was devoted to the Green Ranger trying to hang out with non-Ranger friends, only to learn that it wasn't safe for them, with the decision (reinforced by advice from the mentor) to avoid non-Ranger social contact until the fighting is over. A later episode also addressed the Blue Ranger's social circle, as he ran into his old swim team who were still a little bitter over how he suddenly abandoned them (for Ranger duties, though they didn't know that).
- During the first two seasons of Gossip Girl the characters all seemed to have large social circles (except for Dan, but you don't get the nickname Lonely Boy for nothing). In season three the social circles for the members of the Non-Judging Breakfast Club seem to have shrunk down to just the four of them (well, Nate also hangs out with Dan, but that still makes it a limited circle). In the later half of the season this is lampshaded when Blair heads off for a fashion show where she has "thirty friends attending", causing Nate to turn to Serena and ask: "What, what friends?"
- iCarly has a Power Trio of Sam, Freddie and Carly. You can stretch that circle to include Spencer, and maybe Gibby.
- Carly seems to be the conencting point as Sam and Freddie do not like each other that much. With Sam, her lack of friends is probably due to her unruly behaivor and Carly being one of the few good things in life while Freddie has nursed a crush on Carly for a long while, though Freddie does seem to have friends outside of iCarly.
- On Victorious, if a student in an episode besides Tori, Cat, Jade, Andre, Beck or Robbie (and occasionally Trina or Sinjin) has a major part, it's a safe bet you ain't gonna be seeing that student again.
- Done to the extreme on The X-Files; the social circle consists pretty much of Mulder and Scully. Gravitating around them are the Lone Gunmen and Skinner. And that's pretty much it. Scully is seen initially to have at least one friend outside of her work, but she is never seen after that episode. Mulder is a loner by nature. This makes sense, though. With their 24/7 jobs, the danger that surrounds them, and the implausibility of their work, what friend outside the tight social group would believe them or stick around?
- Taken to an equal extreme on In Plain Sight, when Marshall and Mary's social circles consist of . . . Marshall and Mary. Over the years, the rises and falls a little bit. Raph and Bobby D join and leave. Abigail hovers at the edges. Stan joins and seems to stick. Even lampshaded by Brandi, who's frantic that she has no guests to invite to her wedding.
Brandi: Who are you bringing?Mary: Marshall. I don't know, Stan, maybe?
Brandi: WE'RE LIKE THE FAMILY WITH NO FRIENDS!!
- On Leverage, the crew seems to entirely make up the character's social circles. Explicitly discussed in one episode. Apparently, outside the True Companions Elliot has some old military buddies, Hardison has some online friends, Sophie has a fellow grifter or two, Parker is experimenting with "normal person stuff" with her sole friend, and Nate . . . well, Nate has his ex-wife. So, at max, two or three non-True Companions friends total.
- NCIS doesn't feature a lot of friends outside of work. Their quirky, close knit, workaholic ways seem to make them wary of outsiders.
- Boy Meets World had Heterosexual Life-Partners Cory and Shawn and Cory's girlfriend Topanga. The later seasons saw the expansion of the social circle when Angela, Jack, and Rachel were added, and Eric went from just being Cory's brother to being part of their social circle.
- Red Dwarf was deliberately this for most series, with Lister, Rimmer, The Cat and Kryten (as well as Holly the computer and later Kochanski) being the only characters for most episodes. In Series 8 however, the ship and its crew have been resurrected, but none of them hang out with the original crew. This is justifiable in that they're in prison, and Lister's old friends aren't. Sadly, he never gets to meet them in the series due to the fact the original actors weren't available.
- Community: The study group is extremely reluctant to let anyone else into their group. Membership of the group is Serious Business, as can be seen in Buddy and Chang's attempts to get in and the group's eventual decision to cast Pierce out. Other students at Greendale have come to grow weary of how everything always ends up being about them. Another episode has the group's unwillingness to allow another person join in even as a lab partner has them called out as a "mean clique".
Annie: [to Jeff] And who the hell are you always texting?! Everyone you know is here!
- Played ridiculously straight on Saved by the Bell. Not only do we rarely see the six main characters interact with other Bayside High students, but they also appear to be the only students in the school that actually do anything. In other words, pretty much every other student on the show is just a Living Prop.
- Freaks and Geeks is a rare example of this trope being played in a realistic manner. Both the Freaks and the Geeks are very close-knit but also regularly interact and have casual friendships with other McKinley High students (the most prominent examples being Harris Trinsky and, in the later episodes, Gordon Crisp).
- Inspector Tommy Lynley and his partner Sergeant Barbara Havers do spend time with people other than each other, but none of them seem to last more than a few episodesnote , or at most a single seriesnote . The only characters to not fall victim to this, aside from their police superiors, are Lynley's wife Helennote , their coworker DC Winston Nkatanote , and the Medical Examiner Stuart Laffertynote . And even they aren't seen hanging out with the main duo outside of work to any great extent. And finally, they can't be apart for any great length of time. Lynley goes to Cornwall for vacation? Havers goes along. Havers gets demoted? Lynley calls her in on every case he can. Let's face it; at the end of the day, they just keep coming back to each other.
- The original Battlestar Galactica mainly consists of Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer. All three of them are warriors who don't take too kindly to either the Council of the Twelve or the 'Blackshirts'. Sheba is later added to the group sometime after the Pegasus disappeared.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: the fact that "the gang" has no other friends is occasionally lampshaded and used as the premise of episodes.
Mac: We couldn't get anybody else?
- In one episode, Charlie, Mac and Dennis plan a party and realize that they have alienated all of their friends. They spend the rest of the episode advertising for new friends.
- In another episode, the gang welcomes back a previously ousted friend, Schmitty. They force him to go through an elaborate ceremony to become a member of the gang, then (attempt) to throw him out of a moving car at the end of the episode when he doesn't take their peculiarities seriously.
- After Frank purchases a children's beauty pageant, the Gang gets Frank's on-off girlfriend Artemis to run the soundboard. Dee asks whether she's really qualified to do it, only for Mac to respond that the Gang doesn't have "a deep bench".
- When the Gang goes on a Bland-Name Product version of Family Feud, the only "friend" they could get to record a video message cheering them on was their homeless associate Rickety Cricket. And he only did it because they paid him five bucks.
- The gang does, however, have a good-sized network of associates, enemies and former lovers, who become recurring characters. In one episode, the men of the gang run around to all of the men in the extended cast trying to find out who fathered Dee's baby.
- Their lack of friends is justified in that the gang is so horrible that the only people who can stand to be around them are those who are just as messed up as they are, such as the Mc Poyles and Bill Ponderosa.
- Mr. Young: The eight main characters almost never interact with anyone else in the school (with the occasional exception of Hutch Anderson), and when they do it's usually either Derby ineptly hitting on someone who's not interested or Slab bullying someone. Adam lampshaded this in one episode, noting how outside of the main characters he never hears any of the students talk or see them do anything. This was also lampshaded in "Mr. Space":
Adam: I'm going back to Finnegan High. Back to my friends!
Derby: He has friends at Finnegan High?
Slab: Not likely!
Echo: Yeah, I've never seen him hanging out with anyone but us.
- The Golden Girls are like this. Aside from their revolving door of casual dates, we rarely see or hear about them socializing with anyone other than family (or ex-family, in Dorothy's case). When Dorothy tries to branch out in "Dorothy's New Friend" (yes, they had to name the whole episode after such a phenomenon), Blanche and Rose can't stand Barbara and she turns out to have been Evil All Along, ensuring Dorothy won't be trying to buck the system again anytime soon.
- The Inbetweeners: The four main characters generally don't have any lasting friends outside of their core group due to their overall lack of popularity. When it looks like Jay has made a friend outside the group, the other three immediately mock him.
- Kevin Can F**k Himself: Like every other sitcom trope, this is deconstructed. Our heroine Allison has no social circle, because her selfish Jerkass of a husband has spent their entire marriage isolating and emotionally degrading her, to the point where she has no opportunities to make any friends of her own. Thus, she's stuck hanging out with him and his equally boorish circle of buddies, all of whom enable his behavior. Patty, his sole female friend and the only one Allison can have anything resembling a conversation with, is heavily implied to only stick around and put up with his idiocy because she's lonesome and if she distances herself, she won't have anyone to socialize with either.
- The playable cast of Persona 4 only seem to hang around with each other, sans whoever you make the PC interact with. At one point Yosuke does invite Kou and Daisuke to hang out, implying they're on good terms, Chie has an old friend named Takeshi(among others she contacts for information during investigations), and Kanji and Naoki are long-time friends, but none of the other cast members mention friends outside of the Investigation Team. Yukiko is shy and trated a little differently because of her peers because of her family's inn's prestige and Naoto is somewhat of a social outcast because of her prestige as a detective.
- Persona 3 has a similar situation, where Fuuka appears to be the only person in SEES to have friends outside of the group.
- Justified in Persona 5, in which most of the Phantom Thieves are misfits and outcasts of various sorts, from mistakes they made to associating with the wrong people. The only exceptions are Ann, whose friend Shiho transfers out some time after her suicide attempt, Makoto, who befriends a yearmate over the course of her Confidant, and Futaba, who reconnects with a childhood friend during her Confidant. Considering that the girls are all close friends, one does wonder how Joker potentially manage to cheat within his social circle or think that he has extreme luck not getting found out by them until Valentine's Day.
- In Double Homework, Johanna, Lauren, Amy, Morgan, and Rachel tend to hang out only with each other, sometimes with Tamara, Henry, and/or (in the beginning) Dennis included. Justified, as the students in the summer school class were chosen in part for their social isolation, and they naturally gravitate toward each other to live fuller lives.
- In Misfile, Ash and Emily's social circle is basically each other and one drunken angel. It's expanded slightly since it was lampshaded in this comic but not by much.
- Justified. They're both so disoriented from the misfile that they basically lose track of their other friends. Ash can't stand facing people she used to know now that she's a girl, and Emily is pretty devastated by losing two years, so hanging out with her friends (who are getting accepted to college) is too painful.
- John, Rose, Dave and Jade in Homestuck, with the added oddity that they're Internet friends living in Washington state, New York state, Texas and a Pacific island respectively. None of them seem to have any real life friends at all.
- Ironically, this trope still applies even though the webcomic has an astonishing Geodesic Cast.
- The alpha kids have a similarly small social circle, though at least on Dirk's and Roxy's side it's justified by the fact that Jane and Jake are apparently the only people Calliope's software allows them to contact. This is lampshaded at one point by Dirk, when he points out (regarding the love triangle between himself, Jane and Jake) that given how few people they all know — and taking their respective orientations into account — Jake was pretty much the only romantic option either he or Jane had.
- Neurotically Yours has an extremely limited social circle. Germane claims to have friends but the only people she was ever seen with was her temporary roommate and the creepy pizza guy stalker. Likewise, Foamy the squirrel claims to have a ton of followers but he is only seen hanging out with Germane and two other squirrels named Begley and Pillz-E.
- Jimmy Neutron never really hung out with anyone beyond his group of four friends. It was lampshaded at least once when Carl and Sheen engaged in an Ultralord argument during one adventure, leaving Jimmy to grumble about needing to expand his circle of friends.
- In Ed, Edd n Eddy, in tandem to its Minimalist Cast of 13 characters (which includes Plank, if you can call a piece of wood a character). This is lampshaded in the later seasons, when they go to school and there are no visible teachers or other students. They sometimes mention their parents but they are never seen.
- To give a more straight example, the title trio are hated by everyone, meaning they only have each other.
- Kim Possible and her sidekick Ron are close friends since pre-school, but outside of each other they only have one close friend each (Monique for Kim, Felix for Ron) both of whom they meet during the series and of course they are friends with Wade. Ron is established to be something at the bottom of the school "food chain", but Kim is established as quite friendly with everybody. However, despite being a cheerleader and A grade student, most of her interactions with the rest of the school are very much in the tone of an isolated leader (as captain of the cheer squad, and a thousand other commitments), as her continuously saving the world leaves her little time for casual activities.
- As stated in above in the comics section, the Magical Girls in W.I.T.C.H..
- In Danny Phantom, Danny, Tucker, and Sam only hang around with each other. The three are unpopular "losers" in their high school, but they rarely seem to interact with other Goths and Nerds and whatnot. The only person who joined their niche circle permanently was Jazz (though Sam was most vocal against her joining the group) and she's Danny's older sister and she only appeared if plot called her for it.
- Though it has been shown they have known each other since they were younger. Furthermore, Tucker and Sam stick by Danny as he goes saving the town from various ghosts.
- The main characters in South Park actually became this over the years. In the beginning of the series, they would frequently interact and play with other kids in the schoolyard. Over the years however, their Weirdness Magnet has slowly pushed people away. One episode explicitly states that the rest of the kids don't really care for them.
Craig: Was there ever a moment when you guys first came up with the genius plan to become a Peruvian flute band that any of you said, 'Hey, you know? This plan might backfire'.
Craig: No. That never occurred to you. Because you guys are jerks, and you never learn from your mistakes, and that's why everyone at school thinks you guys are assholes.
Kyle: That's not true. Kids at school like us. Don't they?
Stan: Yeah, dude, kids at school totally like us. Craig is just being a dick because we're having a tough time right now.
Craig: I'm being a dick?
Craig: You guys took my birthday money, got me arrested and sent to Miami with no way home except to take down the country of Peru, and I'm being a dick?
Cartman: There's no talking to this guy.
- KaBlam!: We never see any of Henry and June's other friends. They're never mentioned, either.
- Same with Life with Loopy. While we have seen Larry's friends in one episode (the last episode aired, actually), we never see Loopy's school friends. However, we were, gonna meet them, if season five, you know, aired.
- Phineas and Ferb: Candace is only seen hanging out with three other teens: Jeremy, Stacy, and occasionally Jenny. So pretty much one can say she doesn't have that big of a circle. It's even lampshaded in an episode when Candace is looking over her contacts list for friends and the only people there are the three listed above, and her mom. Also Buford, whose presence in her list is something she cannot understand, but she soon deleted him.
- Totally Spies!: The only person Sam, Clover, and Alex regularly interact with at their school (outside the 3 of them), is Mandy. Any other classmate they were seen talking to would be gone by the next episode, never to be seen or mentioned again (except for maybe the occasional boyfriend that would last about 2 or 3 episodes). Possibly justified in that their lives as spies would realistically get in the way of them having normal social lives.
- Doug actually subverts this trope to the opposite extreme: Just about everybody in the entire sixth grade is friends with one another (even Roger, the class bully, is usually invited to pool parties, dinners, etc.). And, apparently, the students at the Bluffington School are the only grade school students in the entire town.
- Family Guy has the Griffin family be only friends with a few neighbors and their families, namely Joe, Quagmire, and Cleveland before he moved away. The first few episodes in season 1 showed Peter hanging out with a bunch of other men for drinking but they were quickly written off in favor of a more focused friendship Peter has now.
Brian: Aw, look at that. There's the old gang we've gotten to know so well over the years.
- Thomas & Friends though originally a very expansive universe, began to streamline the cast following Hit Entertainment's takeover, introducing the "Steam Team" dynamic that consisted of eight main engines who had main focus for most episodes, aside from occasional new characters getting introductory stories. This became even more limited as the majority of episodes became Thomas-centric only, though this has started to get downplayed. Justified in that a railway that size (the main line on Sodor is only about 70 miles long) will only have so many engines on it at any time.
- The Planet Express crew in Futurama never seem to hang out with anyone except their coworkers - in later seasons, the office seems to be used more for hanging out than for any actual work. Most of them (particularly Amy) are implied to have active social lives, but only the occasional short-lived romance is ever shown on-screen.
- The eight main characters of Archer seem to be the only people who can stand being around each other. Almost everyone else they interact with is either an enemy or a sexual partner. For a time there were periodic interactions between the main characters and a handful of other workers, but those ended entirely after the CIA shut down ISIS in Season 5.
- Kaeloo: The reason the show has a Minimalist Cast is because the characters only ever interact with each other (which can be explained since they live together). Mr. Cat is implied to have other friends, but they are only very rarely mentioned.
- Dan Vs.: Dan, Chris, and Elise appear to have no friends besides each other (and even then, it's... complicated, to say the least.) Justified in that Dan and Elise are both profoundly unpleasant and amoral people, and Chris is the only person who's enough of an Extreme Doormat to put up with them. This becomes a plot point in "Dan vs. Dan", where Impostor Dan notes that Dan's having thoroughly alienated everyone in his life apart from Chris and Elise makes his identity unusually easy to steal.
- Justified in Milo Murphy's Law: Since everybody knows Milo is The Jinx, people outside the main cast tend to avoid interacting with him where possible.
- In Ready Jet Go!, Sean, Sydney, and Mindy seem to not know or hang out with any other kids, opting only to hang out with Jet. As such, they all have a very close bond. There is Lillian, Zerk, and Mitchell, but Lillian doesn't show up much. Zerk not only lives in another galaxy, but is also The Friend Nobody Likes, and Mitchell is the gang's frenemy.
- This is deconstructed in the Christmas Episode. The gang's tight bond makes Mitchell an outsider, and he is worried about fitting in and is too shy to get the courage to hang out with them. However, at the end of the episode, some honest communication amongst them makes them officially become friends with Mitchell. In season 2, this seems to help to erase Mitchell's mean streak, but he still antagonizes them from time to time.
- Also, in season 2, Lillian starts making more appearances, meaning that this trope is becoming averted.
- This is deconstructed in the Christmas Episode. The gang's tight bond makes Mitchell an outsider, and he is worried about fitting in and is too shy to get the courage to hang out with them. However, at the end of the episode, some honest communication amongst them makes them officially become friends with Mitchell. In season 2, this seems to help to erase Mitchell's mean streak, but he still antagonizes them from time to time.
- Class of 3000: The kids don't appear to have any friends outside of each other. This is possibly justified for Eddie (who's a Lonely Rich Kid) and Philly Phil (who has No Social Skills on top of a very weird personality).
- The Geek Social Fallacies claim (in points four and five) that this is something that geeks are prone to try to enforce in their own lives, wanting tight-knit friend groups who do everything together. Whether this is true, and whether it's enough of a problem to be a "fallacy" if so, is of course up to debate, but it's generally accepted as conventional wisdom in geek circles and seen as something to guard against.