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"If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water."
Ernest Hemingway summing up minimalist fiction's raison d'etre.

Many works of fiction try to be as epic as possible. A new work will try to top the ones that came before it, and the sequels try to top their predecessors.

Minimalism goes for the exact opposite.

Minimalism is when a piece of fiction lowers the scale of the events depicted within it, not simply due to time and budget restraints, but rather for creative reasons.

The reasons for a minimalistic approach to a work can vary greatly. For example, the author of the work may be trying to do a "back to basics" approach to a sequel, as the previous entry in the franchise had gotten too "over the top". Perhaps if the movie spends less time on grand action scenes involving hundreds of extras, the film can spend more time with dialogue, improving character development. Perhaps if the TV show only has one villain instead of many, more time can be spent developing that character in order to make him seem more intimidating. Maybe if the book only uses short, non-descriptive sentences instead of paragraphs of exposition, the book will read at a more dramatic pace. It's possible that if the film has one Special Effects scene instead of a hundred, more time and money will go into that one scene, improving the quality of the effect. Perhaps a horror movie believes that if they hide the monster off screen instead of showing it in its full glory, it will leave the details of the creature to the audience's imagination, making it scarier. There is no real singular reason as to why, it's just a creative choice.

Minimalism is essentially the exact opposite of the Bigger Is Better trope. Here, smaller is better.

The Other Wiki has an article about this.

Compare Beige Prose, Minimalist Cast, Bottle Episode, Stick-Figure Comic, Nothing Is Scarier, Minimalistic Cover Art, Simple, yet Opulent, Story Breadcrumbs. Flash Fiction is a Sub-Trope. See also Minimalist Run (video-games).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Angel's Egg has only two characters, neither of which have names, and less than a page of dialogue, most of which is contained in a single scene. The anime focuses more on the girl's devotion to her egg than anything else.
  • Bleach: Infamous enough to have reached meme proportions, Tite Kubo tends to dispense with background scenery in his panels. He's stated in interviews that his emphasis lies with the characters themselves and, by discarding background scenery, all the attention is focused on the characters and all the action, emotion, and detail comes directly from, and are focused on, the characters. It works: he's considered one of the best weekly shounen artists in the game despite the jokes about his lack of backgrounds.
  • Kino's Journey. The art designs are very simplistic and the music is subtle and low-key. The show has no overarching story other than Kino travels from place to place and learns about the strange cultures of the lands. Most episodes concern themselves solely with the philosophical ramifications of the culture and pay very little attention to any kind of plot progression or character development.
  • Liz and the Blue Bird presents its setting as desaturated and quiet, almost to the point of dread. The dialogue is sparse and few characters have speaking roles, the soundtrack consists of atonal sounds and droning noises, and the plot takes place entirely within one location — the high school that the characters attend. It uses these techniques to underscore the anxiety and loneliness experienced by Mizore, the main protagonist, and juxtaposes this setting with a fantasy world set within an in-universe storybook, done with bright watercolors and grand orchestral music.
  • Shigurui: The anime adaptation is done this way. The color palette is almost black and white, except for the bright-red blood and gore. It has little in the way of music or background noises, and also sparse dialogue, with each line carrying tremendous weight.
  • The style of Makoto Shinkai's early works (before Children Who Chase Lost Voices) is very minimalist, focusing heavily on the environment and the associated emotions instead of the plot, as if he is translating a prose into a visual form. These ones also often feature a Minimalist Cast with almost zero side characters.
  • Shouan Days.: Aside from having a nominal one character, the dynamite girl, throughout the story, the entire manga's atmosphere is very minimalistic in nature. In true Slice of Life fashion, the manga has no central conflict, but it rather focuses on the main character's ventures into the world she has been introduced to, moments after becoming a human girl originating from a dynamite.
  • Texhnolyze. Similar to Shinkai's works, the anime features very little dialogue, none for the first 11 minutes of the series, and Ichise, the main character, rarely speaks unless spoken to by someone he respects.
  • Mangaka Tanaka Yutaka flips between the use of minimalistic dialogue and narration combined with gorgeous Scenery Porn to great emotional effect.

  • Frank Stella, Barnett Newman, and Donald Judd are the codifiers of the style in visual art.
  • The mature paintings of Mark Rothko are comprised of a couple of big fields of color with very subtle gradations.
  • The Weaver has an extremely recognizable style consisting primarily of stick figures with only one or two defining traits among them, usually Funny Animals distinguished by the color of their lines. Despite this, he's earned an extremely devoted following of his works, such as Ruby Quest and Pack Street.


    Films — Live-Action 
  • 12 Angry Men. 12 people sitting in a room and arguing.
  • Alien³: How do you try to top Aliens, a film which featured hundreds of Aliens, Space Marines, huge gun battles, and a Space Operatic setting? The answer is you don't. Instead, you deliberately scale it back so there is only one Alien, no guns, and the whole film is just confined to a dank prison with a few lowly inmates running around armed with only a few knives and fire axes between them, in order to spend more time focusing on the human drama and the terror caused by the Alien.
  • Alone follows a woman, Jess, getting hunted across the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. The vast majority of the film has only Jess or her stalker onscreen, with most other characters on the other sides of phone lines. There's very little dialogue and most characterization is given by implication. The music is largely restricted to a low-key Drone of Dread at key moments to the point that the only sounds over the credits are those of the forest.
  • The Assistant: On its surface, the film simply follows an office assistant on her unremarkable workday activities. The story is conveyed through subtle cues and innuendos without any exposition or dramatic "movie moments." The minimalist style was a hit with critics but bombed with audiences.
  • The Blair Witch Project: No music, no lighting, filmed on camcorders and starring only three people (not counting interviewees). Despite being such a bare bones film, it's scary and was a huge success financially.
  • Derek Jarman's 1993 film Blue is an extreme film example: it consists of nearly 80 minutes of a static blue screen overlaid with narration. It only barely qualifies as a "moving picture" by virtue of having opening and closing credits.
  • The Breakfast Club is mostly confined to a group of students talking about themselves during detention.
  • Steven Soderbergh Bubble features a cast of nonprofessional actors and entirely improvised dialogue. The story follows three blue collar factory workers, and most of the plot simply follows their unexceptional, unglamorous lives.
  • The 2010 Spanish film Buried, which has Ryan Reynolds as a U.S. truck driver working in Iraq, who gets buried alive. The whole movie takes place inside the coffin, with Reynolds' character being the only person we actually see in the flesh (all other performances are either voiceovers or on his cell phone.) Still, the film never repeats a shot.
  • The soundtrack of Captain Berlin Savior of the World consists of only one song composed by Peter Syntethic, used in various situations. The credits were also written on pieces of paper.
  • Roman Polański's Carnage: Four actors in one apartment, all in Real Time.
  • Cop Car has a simple plot, a small cast, rural locations, and no exposition whatsoever. Virtually everything is shown rather than told.
  • Cube is confined to a series of identical, empty square rooms, with a limited cast.
  • Die Hard: Unlike the sequels which feature scenes of John McClane mowing down dozens of mooks at a time with his battles being waged across entire cities, the original Die Hard only had a total of 12 bad guys, and all the action was just confined to one building. As a result though, the first Die Hard easily has the most gripping action scenes of the series, with the fight scenes needing to be drawn out longer and more action packed due to the shortage of disposable mooks.
  • In The Disappearance of Alice Creed, you meet the entire cast - a grand total of three people - in the first ten minutes or so, and the movie has maybe three or four different sets.
  • Dogme '95 films are based around minimalism, which the inventors, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, call "purity." Films following the dogma avoid artificial settings, sound, visual effects, and camera tricks as well as non-diegetic sound. The film is supposed to be as accessible and realistic as possible. Notable Dogme 95 films include The Celebration, The Idiots, and Julien Donkey-Boy.
    • The focus on minimalism even extends to The Criterion Collection release of The Celebration, as it has no cover art or even any sort of label except for a small sticker with the film's title, Dogme number, original release year and length. The most elaborate part of the package is an article about the Dogme 95 movement itself included as plain text with the discs on a folded sheet of orange paper, visible through the transparent plastic of the box.
  • Dogville, in order to focus more on the characters and their actions and avoid immersion in the story (related to Bertolt Brecht ideas about epic theater) the entire village of Dogville drawn with chalk in the floor in a soundstage. The sequel Manderlay was filmed in a similar style, though with slightly more scenery.
  • Gus van Sant's Elephant (2003) is a tale about two students going on a killing rampage in their school. The film features a lot of pristine stillness, extremely long static shots (which continue rolling even after everyone has left sight), and no score.
  • In general, the Found Footage genre relies heavily on low effects and amateur filming in order to give viewers immersion through its realism.
  • Gerry has only two actors, with the entire plot being "two guys get lost in the desert."
  • Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, despite its massive budget, counts as this. The story is quite stripped down, as opposed to other movies of similar funding. As stated elsewhere here there's No Antagonist. There's a Minimalist Cast. Cuarón didn't have to fight with Executive Meddling (he has the cred to be trusted), but he did listen to people pitching ideas like the rescue mission being covered and Stone being in love with one of the mission controllers. This film is really simple - Stone is trying to get back to Earth somehow.
  • Danish Police Procedural The Guilty takes place entirely inside a dispatch centre, with no Cutaway Gags, Flashbacks, or Imagine Spots.
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi has a very simple camera style, and an overall atmosphere of minimalism pervades the film. The idea is to resonate with the subject: master sushi chef Jiro Ono's philosophy is one of simplicity. The film uses a Philip Glass soundtrack to emphasize the point.
  • Locke is set entirely in a car as a man drives from Birmingham to London and makes phone calls.
  • My Dinner with Andre became notorious for being almost entirely two men having a conversation in a restaurant. Andy Kaufman's parody, My Breakfast with Blassie, featuring an hour-long breakfast conversation between Kaufman and professional wrestler "Classy" Freddy Blassie, mirrored the minimalist style of Andre.
  • No Exit was shot on two sets, with a majority of the plot happening in just one of them, with only seven characters and seven extras.
  • Open Water: When you think shark attack movies, what springs to mind? The huge blockbusters like Jaws and Deep Blue Sea? How about a movie where the entirety of the feature is just two people floating around in a vast empty ocean? Now that's minimalism.
  • The first film of the Paranormal Activity series is this. There are five human characters, one of whom is shown through a video, while the other two only make cameo appearances, so we are left to the remaining two characters for the entirety of the film. The setting is a suburban house, but even with the limited set the film never tries to top itself, mostly confining the scares to just rocking the bedroom door back and forth or switching off/on the lights. The entity who haunts the house is strictly He Who Must Not Be Seen. These are all because the film was shot with seven days and No Budget ($15,000, even less than what The Blair Witch Project received eight years earlier!). Later films had bigger budgets and larger casts; although they still made money, they aren't as lauded as the first.
  • Predators is a big fan of Show, Don't Tell; the film makes heavy use of concise dialogue, action, and environmental storytelling to convey backstory and characterization. We’re never really given a subjective source of information, with most of the exposition simply being the characters speculating about their situation. You don’t even learn most of the cast’s names.
  • Rashomon has the big huge gate set, but aside from that, it's pretty minimalistic. Eight actors, one horse, one baby, a set that consists of a wall with gravel in front of it, and a bunch of location shooting in a forest that really could be anywhere. A big production compared to some, but put it up against Ran or Seven Samurai, and it's amazing how little there is to the production.
  • Reservoir Dogs is a gangster jewelry heist film with one strange twist: it doesn't actually show the heist! In fact, the movie doesn't show much of anything. With the vast majority of the film set in an empty warehouse that is serving as the gangsters hideout, we don't get to see the elaborate planing of the job or the shootouts that ensued, instead we get to see is the crooks sitting around discussing the aftermath.
  • Hitchcock's Rope is an 81 minute film that takes place entirely in real time and was filmed in only 8 shots edited to appear as one continuous shot; mind you, most films consist of several hundred shots. Eight shots is virtually unheard of.
  • Signs: Your typical Alien Invasion movie will focus on world-wide destruction and chaos, the military's futile attempt to defeat the Alien war machines, a rag-tag group of scientists trying to find the Aliens weakness, and our unbreakable hero who will end up saving the world. Signs on the other hand tries to get as far away from that as possible. Yes there is a world-wide chaotic invasion, but we don't see it. What we see is just a lowly farmer attempt to secure his property and protect his family during this time of crisis, while he leaves it to the rest of the world to do the actual fighting. No war scenes, no city destroying scenes, no heroism; just a guy on his farm with his family, scared shitless of the Aliens. (Too bad the aliens' Special Effects Failure and Weaksauce Weakness diminished the scare.)
  • Skinamarink is a stab at making a horror film that's even more stripped-down than the likes of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Owing to the lo-fi, microbudget aesthetic of Analog Horror, the cast is extremely limited and most of the time are barely visible, the setting is limited to a single household, there's very little active visuals and camera movement, the storytelling is raw and heavily ambiguous, and even the actual scares aren't nearly as graphic as the implied subject matter suggests, instead developing disturbing implications and increasingly tense and unavoidable dread.
  • Jim Jarmusch's deadpan comedy Stranger Than Paradise is a study in minimalism. It focuses almost exclusively on three characters who do and say very little. The film has only a few mundane locations, uses black and white film, and features long periods without any dialogue. The film also has a very slow pace, with a total of 67 shots. In between each shot, Jarmusch inserted black space to further slow down the pace. The film is general thought to be a reaction to the growing trend toward fast, flashy media.
  • Unbreakable is an unusually minimalistic superhero film in that it features no CGI, no action scenes, no costume, a limited color palette, long periods of silence, and only 5 real characters—one of whom only appears in 2 scenes near the end of the film.
  • Shane Carruth's microbudget film Upstream Color leaves a lot of the plot implied or mysterious, and there are long periods without dialogue.

  • To summarise Ernest Hemingway's quote at the top of the page: seeing a mere hint of emotion is often much more effective than being exposed to the full brunt of it. We only need to see the tip of the iceberg to know the rest of it is there.
  • Haiku is often said to be minimalistic in nature, given its constrained syllable structure.
  • Imagist poetry by writers such as Ezra Pound and H. D., which used clear imagery and was inspired by forms such as haiku, as well as more Modernist sensibilities.
  • Chuck Palahniuk specifically identified this as his style in an essay about another American minimalist writer, Amy Hempel.
  • A lot of Cyberpunk works that incorporate a lot of the Noir stylings. William Gibson was one of the most obvious users of minimalistic writing in the genre.

    Live Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 is a Space Opera show with a grand Myth Arc built up over several seasons, with many scenes of epic space battles and drama, and then we come to the season 4 episode "Intersections in Real Time"; Sheridan is in prison, the only other person there for the majority of the episode the the man interrogating him, it's comprised almost entirely of dialogue, and all takes place in a featureless black room.
  • Generally speaking, once "social distancing" became a top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot talk shows and panel shows became a stripped back, DIY broadcast from the hosts' homes, with Skype/Zoom/Google Hangout calls taking the place of in-studio interviews.
  • The Goes Wrong Show: Dennis’ self written and directed play, entitled “Toothpaste: 1.69”, consists solely of a man enquiring as to the price of toothpaste. Though it does work out better than the cast’s other efforts, Chris thinks it’s too long.
    Dennis: Hello, how much is this toothpaste?
    Max: 1.69.
  • Ideal: A dark comedy about a British drug dealer and his parade of dimwitted, bizarre, and occasionally violent customers. The series is almost 100% set in the protagonist's flat (if the showrunners are feeling frisky, they might show the landing or the next flat over, but the camera never leaves the building). Many of the scenes are him talking one-on-one with another character, who will leave to make room for the next.
  • Parodied in a first-season episode of Ugly Betty, where Mode Magazine attempts to get exclusives from a Japanese designer who is famous for minimalism in all things. Betty has the bright idea to bring his entire entourage to dine at "White Tassel" — the decor is monochrome, the burgers are round and the price is low.


  • The Minimalist genre represents one way to achieve this in music: employing a lot of repetition or drones, and with the melody (if present at all) slow to develop. While the melodies are quite minimal, the arrangements can be exactly the opposite—minimalism was originally a form of orchestral music. The composers associated with this style include Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and La Monte Young. Trope Namer is the (post-)minimalist composer Michael Nyman, who used the innovations of minimalism to create new styles and techniques.
    • In turn, a number of Krautrock, post-rock, and electronic musicians incorporate minimalist songwriting.
    • Most readers here would probably be exposed to composer John Adams through playing Civilization IV, where the unsettling, often amelodic tones make a great match with the uncertainties of the modern era. Adams is arguably the least minimalist minimalist (he owes a good bit to Stravinsky), but he does broadly fit the pattern.
  • Three Chords and the Truth would be the other way to achieve this in music.
  • Lowercase subgenre takes it to the extreme. Bernhard Günter, for an example, has some works where the "music" may be barely heard and sounds are similar of your average background sounds coming out of sensitive headphones.
  • Alvin Lucier's 1961 composition "Elegy For Albert Anastasia" is mostly made up of inaudible low frequencies, with the few audible sounds being extremely quiet or fleeting. The concept: The Mafioso of the title was murdered because he "did not hear" certain important information; neither does the listener.
  • Entertainment for the Braindead's album Roadkill used a banjo as the sole instrument (well, she also used a tambourine on exactly one song). This doesn't qualify as Three Chords and the Truth, however, because, through a variety of playing styles (she picked it as normal, she played it with a violin bow, and she even played percussion on it) and plenty of tracking, she got an entire band's worth of sound out of that single instrument.
  • Low by David Bowie brought over a lot of minimalist elements in the songwriting, particularly on the album's A-side, in which each song ranges from three and a half minutes to just 1:42, consisting solely of one or two repeated phrases with mild variations. The minimalist direction of Low would also influence the sound of Bowie's next two albums, though not to the same extent as with Low.
  • Talking Heads' music was influenced quite heavily by minimalist music. Two prominent examples of this are with the repeating phrases in "Found a Job" and in much of bassist Tina Weymouth's contributions throughout Remain in Light; the bassline on "Crosseyed and Painless" is simplistically intense. Part of the band's influence from minimalism seems to come from the fact that they had worked quite heavily with Brian Eno at around the same time as when he was collaborating with the above-mentioned Bowie in the late 1970's.
  • Japanese singer-songwriter Utada Hikaru has a music video for the song Hikari (simply 光 in Kanji) that features them doing lip-sync to the song while washing dishes. Note that this is the entirety of the video.
  • For Kerli's "Love is Dead", the music video's Director Cut is The Oner with just one shot with Kerli behind a brown-skied background. The only two special effects involve Kerli aging backwards from an old woman to her normal self, and the video cassette-like effects.
  • Many acoustic and singer-songwriter acts are just one person with one instrument. These days, usually a guitar or piano.
    • This style of music is as old as humanity, but Robert Johnson's work, as well as that of a lot of early blues singers like him with similarly limited resources, is considered to be the modern Trope Codifier.
    • In the more distant past, this was the style of music preferred by bards and troubadours.
  • Hip-hop in general, with several songs consisting of little more than drums and rap.note  Compare these two tracks from 1984 and 2012.
    • Of course, there are plenty of hip-hop artists that prove to be wild exceptions to this rule, like dälek, Kanye West (apart from maybe 808s and Heartbreak), Death Grips (on some of their releases, anyway), DJ Shadow, Paul's Boutique-era Beastie Boys, and Fear of a Black Planet-era Public Enemy.
  • Lorde's main style is minimalist indie pop.
  • Ambient music tends to be rather minimalist in nature, being designed both to reward close attention and to blend nicely into the background.
  • Neil Young is known for taking a minimalist approach to rock music at times. For example, on his song "Cinnamon Girl", the guitar solo is played using one note.
  • Sarah Vaughan's After Hours was recorded with only Vaughan on vocals plus a guitarist and bassist, a very minimal arrangement for a jazz album.
  • In 1970 music producer Michael Vinernote  put together a joke album called The Best of Marcel Marceao [sic], purportedly an audio collection of the legendary mime and his most famous routines. Each side contains 19 minutes of silence, followed by a minute of applause. Presumably Marceau's last name was deliberately misspelled to avoid a lawsuit. It was only distributed among Viner's friends and associates, but it's sometimes misreported to have been an actual for-profit release by a desperate record label.
  • Tony Bennett and Bill Evans did two albums (The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album, Together Again) with just Evans' piano accompanying Bennett's vocals.

  • Brainfuck programming language which uses only 8 commands with no operands to create a program.
    • Also available are OISC (1 command, 3 operands) and Thue (1 command, 2 operands).

  • At the beginning of Our Town, the narrator points to a few irrelevant bits of scenery on the otherwise bare stage, saying, "There's some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery."
  • The Fantasticks has a two-piece band, a cast of eight, and very simple costumes and scenery. This helps save on production costs.
  • Japanese Kabuki and Noh theatre are examples. The dancing appears tranquil and simple, but in truth, they are complex and call for precision. The most famous Japanese minimalist is Bando Tamasaburo, a female-impersonator.
  • Samuel Beckett, anyone? See for instance Not I, in which the only thing on stage is a mouth, speaking for about 15 minutes.
    • And then there's Breath. Throw some trash on stage, turn the lights up, wait twenty seconds, turn the lights down. (To his credit, he wrote this one at least partially as a joke. He withdrew it when the producer who originally commissioned it decided to throw some naked people on stage along with the trash to give it the illusion of meaning something.)
    • Beckett pretty much described this as the entire point of his work — reducing language to its absolute bare necessities. (He lived most of his life in France, and wrote much of his work in French first because it forced him to be careful with his words.)
    • The same is true for many absurdist playwrights. Eugène Ionesco comes to mind in particular.
  • Scenery in A Chorus Line is reduced to a cameo role. Except for one brief shining moment in the finale, it takes place on a bare stage, or a bare stage reflected by mirrors.
  • Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has four characters, one setting and is in Real Time. Albee's first play, Zoo Story had only two characters, one setting (a park bench) and was in Real Time.
  • Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol can be performed with four actors, who all swap roles, or one person doing all of it. There's also very little costuming and sets to let the narration, lighting, and actors tell the story.
  • Marat/Sade: The play contains elements of this. For instance, The Herald doubles as the door to Marat's living quarters and the guillotine is conveyed through sounds, instead of being a featured prop. However, the theatrical production's sets and direction are regarded as being highly intense and sensuous more than minimalist.

    Video Games 
  • Dodge's player and enemies are simple shapes such as squares or circles, and the game's palettes have three colors at most.
  • The Other Wiki cites the design of Quake III: Arena to be minimalistic (compared to its competitor, at least).
  • The three games in Fumito Ueda's Team ICO Series trilogy of games takes place in a Shared Universe and possess intuitive Action-Adventure gameplay design. They're not a series in the sense of other franchises, and is more of a universe that three stand-alone games take place in. Each of these games has a very minimalist feel to them due to being stripped down to their core gameplay elements, with no complicated background lore, few real distractions, and almost no sidequests. and the only real connections are the appearances of horns on certain characters, which mark them as sharing strange blood:
    • ICO: A boy with horns is imprisoned in an ancient castle. There he meets a magical girl who is also imprisoned there. The two attempt to escape from the castle and the girl's evil mother and shadows.
    • Shadow of the Colossus: A young man goes on a journey with his trusty horse to revive a girl. He makes a deal with some god-entity and must slay a series of giants called Colossi to do so.
    • The Last Guardian: A boy goes on a journey with a (colossus-like) horned gryphon and together they mature and become friends, escaping an abandoned ruin-complex and armies of living armor.
  • The Myst games exemplify minimalism in the adventure game genre. The protagonist is never defined, there's no inventory collection (aside from occasional journals or pages), there are no enemies or bosses to encounter, and the game expects you to learn everything. And we mean everything.
  • Ikaruga does it for the Bullet Hell genre. You have no powerups, all enemies, bullets, and the player are either black or white, and in contrast to intricate scoring systems found in many bullet hell games, scoring in Ikaruga boils down to just shooting three enemies of the same color for chains.
  • Kairo's as minimalist as you can get when it comes to Puzzle Platformers. No onscreen characters, and almost every room is a single color.
  • Narcissu is a Visual Novel example. It's comparatively short, features only two main characters (who are seldom seen), and the graphics almost entirely consist of background art, with no sprites or fancy effects. Oh, and all the graphics are letterboxed to the middle third of the screen.
  • Limbo is incredibly minimalistic, and all the more haunting because of it. No dialogue, no chapter names, no character names, no color, yet it's emotionally compelling and enthralling while it lasts.
  • Most Nifflas games are this; sound effects are mostly very subdued, the graphics show only essential things, dialogue/narration (if there is any) is mostly only at the beginning and end of the game, and enemies are often few and far between.
  • Indie game Thomas Was Alone is built around this. The characters are sentient AI programs represented by coloured rectangles, and their personalities are shown solely through the gameplay and the game's beautiful narration.
  • A scenario for Blades of Exile called Kill Ogre, win prize. It's exactly what it sounds like. You appear in a tiny corridor right next to an ogre. You can kill the ogre to win a prize. Or just run away. The End.
  • Antichamber has no narrative, complex textures, or a large number of game mechanics. Just a few simple tools and many puzzles involving Alien Geometries. There is only ambient sound and no soundtrack, and it uses primary colors in simple fashion.
  • Frictional Games are fond of this, especially since their ideas hinge on being totally isolated and hunted. Depending on whether it's Penumbra, Amnesia, or A Machine For Pigs, the formula is "(Protagonist) has to enter (Labs/Castle Center/Slaughterhouse Machine) to deal with (2 or 3 people) whilst constantly hiding from some pursuing (Monsters/Abominations/Pig Monsters)."
  • Divekick is a parody of Fighting Games and the Diving Kick tactic. The only controls? A button for diving and a button for kicking. It also originally had two characters, but the roster has since expanded.
  • Used to enhance the Escapism in Proteus. There's no interactivity beyond basic movement, and the graphics are rendered in an archaic 8-bit style that conserves only the most important details.
  • In rymdkapsel, all graphics are abstract polygons, and you build the space station out of Tetris blocks.
  • Environmental Narrative Games (including the aforementioned Proteus) tend to fall under this. Game mechanics and interactivity are extremely limited, the games rarely feature any characters onscreen and the emphasis tends to be placed on exploring an environment and storytelling.
  • Mars Matrix does this for Shoot 'Em Up control schemes. Instead of a variety of buttons with different functions, you get one button that does different things depending on how you press it (tapping after a delay, tapping continously, holding down, etc.)
  • beatmania's "EX score" system does this with Rhythm Game scoring systems. Instead of Pinball Scoring coupled with complicated multipliers and bonuses that are not officially documented for players, scoring simply boils down to: 2 points for a P-Great, 1 point for a Great, and 0 points for everything else. For the most dense charts in the game, an EX score of 3,000-4,000 points means you did pretty well for yourself. EX Score is such an effective measure of the player's performance that many other rhythm games adopt some variation of it, with the key element being that score is based strictly on timing notes.
    • The Oni modes in DanceDanceRevolution games, and eventually shown on the results screen of later games, have a similar EX-Score system. Although the grades are still compared to the actual score, event modes for later games replace this with the EX-Score for tournament purposes. 3 points for Marvelous and O.K.s for hold notes, 2 for Perfects, 1 for Greats, 0 for anything else.
  • Mini Metro could as well be titled "Minimalist Metro". The game's graphics are very simplistic, with colored lines representing metro lines, identically colored squares for the carriages, and a blue monochrome river. Nothing more. The results look delightfully like a Real Life subway map.
  • Simplest RPG: As the title implies, the whole game is minimalistic. Enemies are not shown, the only stats are HP, ATK, and DEF, there is no real plot, you attack enemies with one move automatically, etc.
  • Zigzagged in Split/Second (2010). The game itself is a loud, bombastic affair, where if only one building gets destroyed, it's a quiet race. However, the HUD lacks anything that isn't absolutely necessary. There's a power bar, a position counter, a lap counter, and nothing else, all placed right behind your rear bumper and as unobtrusively as possible.
  • No Straight Roads has an in-universe version with Eve's ad. While the other NSR artists have loud ads with fancy presentations and dialogue, Eve's consists of a slow close-up of her posing in front of a white void background, then her name appears. Not a single word is said.
  • Manifold Garden has no narrative, uses a handful of elements and mechanics, and sports a sparse, muted color palette for the architecture, which is composed entirely of rectangular shapes.
  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim zig-zags this trope. During the adventure segments of the game, the graphics are rendered in Vanillaware's signature illustrated style. For the battle segments, conversely, the graphics are rendered in a minimalist style reminiscent of early computers, with units on the field represented with simple pixelated graphics overlaids on top of a 3D map. The finer points of the combat segments, from the appearance of enemy units to the workings of Sentinel weaponry, are mostly confined to in-game lore.
  • Kingdom only uses three buttons, two of which are moving left and right, and has no text (including numbers) outside of the tutorial and win/loss screens, but still manages to tell an epic tale of a monarch building a civilization from nothing.
  • Generic Fishing Game is a game with only four fishes and the Spacebar button as its only controls. People like playing it because of its surprises.

  • Fleep takes the Ontological Mystery genre and boils it down to its bare essentials: One man, trapped in a room (in this case, a phone booth), trying to figure out how he got there and how to escape.

    Web Original 
  • The design of The Best Page in the Universe is minimalistic in that its pages consist of minimal colour (large grey text on a black background), and is mostly text oriented, for the most part lacking images, advertisements, animations, and other fancy design gimmicks. The site author, Maddox, claims the purpose of this is in part to minimise bandwidth consumption, but is mostly as protest against "all the slick-looking, contentless web sites out there" and to make the website easier on the eyes as "Staring at a white background while you read is like staring at a light bulb".
  • Wormtooth Nation was filmed on a shoestring college student budget, and all the sets are warehouses located in the city the writer lives in. The actors are all local drama students. Despite the flaws, it's extremely good for a web series.
  • Marble Hornets is much like The Blair Witch Project - there's no music, it's all shot on cheap camcorders, and has few special effects. There's often little to no dialogue (some entries don't even have sound), with nearly all of the exposition done in white text on black at the start and end of the videos.
  • Everyman HYBRID is what the cast of Marble Hornets pointed to when asked if they were fans of any of their imitators, describing it as doing everything, even the minimalism, exactly right. They arguably have more content, but it's often much less dense; sometimes fans find in-game clues; one was a piece of paper with a single line of typed text.
  • Google search. A logo, a search box, a couple of buttons and a few links.
  • TV Tropes' Laconic Wiki uses this style, making normally verbose pages easier to understand.

    Western Animation 
  • UPA (United Productions of America) rebelled against the elaborate visuals and pictorial realism of the Disney studio by making films that went in the opposite direction, with streamlined designs, abstract backgrounds and simplified movement. Most of their innovations were co-opted by television as a way of making shows inexpensively, but they also inspired more artistic minded studios like the Zagreb School and the National Film Board of Canada.
    • Of the UPA films, the one that probably best exempifies this approach is their adaptation of The Tell-Tale Heart. Animation is kept to a bare minimum (a flitting moth, some creeping shadows), letting the moody backgrounds, camera effects and narration do most of the heavy lifting.
  • Most of the animated films of Norman Mc Laren rely on minimalism in their art. They are usually centered around one central technique (i.e. Cut-outs, drawing on film stock), with many variations built around each technique. For instance, "Synchrony" is a film built around the visual representation of a soundtrack, with only very basic geometric shapes and colors representing the animation. Another example is "Blinkity Blank", which is nothing more than squiggles appearing and disappearing and sometimes forming shapes (a bird, an egg, an umbrella) against a plain black background. McLaren's earliest films tended to be hodgepodges of unrelated techniques per film, but after working for the GPU film studio for a few years and learning how to properly structure his films there, the disciplined minimalism of his more famous short films came about.
  • In-Universe, The Pink Panther seems to enjoy creating minimalistic art. This fits his personality as a Cool Cat.
    • In the episode "Cleopanthra" of the 1993 Pink Panther series, Cleopatra and the pharaoh reject each of the royal architect's designs for a monument, which are all modern-looking buildings. (Some are even famous real-life buildings, such as the Eiffel Tower.) Pink Panther's design, a pyramid, is drawn as a simple triangle. Cleopatra and the pharaoh both love it.
    • In the episode "The Pink Painter Show" of Pink Panther and Pals, all of Pink Panther's paintings are just entire canvases painted the same shade of pink. People in-universe love these paintings so much that Pink Panther gets his own gallery exhibition.

Alternative Title(s): Minimalist Art