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"How did I end up on an island where you can put the entire population inside a minivan?"
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The Minimalist Cast happens when the only characters that appear at all onscreen are the main characters. No supporting characters, no extras, no guest stars. There may be ghost characters, who never appear onscreen but still exist for the main characters. Or an actor in a monster suit. Or there may be a Companion Cube, especially if this state of affairs is expected to last an entire series.

This is rarely pulled off successfully in long running serial material. Even Gilligan's Island — a show whose premise was designed for this — got guest stars. But sometimes it can be made to work. Serials which ordinarily feature more characters may restrict themselves to a Minimalist Cast for a one-off Bottle Episode.

In non-serial material, it is more easily arranged, as then The Law of Conservation of Detail no longer fights against the Rule of Drama or the First Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics. Note that the limited number of characters in no way guarantees their immortality; a Dwindling Party in these situations can be very frightening.

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The Minimalist Cast is the essence of monologue-plays, as well as "two-hander" productions which only involve two actors. Compare with Minimalism. See also Beautiful Void. You should choose carefully between this, and Economy Cast (similar but less logical). By definition, any work with a Minimalist Cast is also one where The Main Characters Do Everything, but a work in which The Main Characters Do Everything does not necessarily have a Minimalist Cast.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Suzy Puppy only features Suzy, a little girl, and the narrator. If unseen characters are counted, one could also include Suzy's mother.
  • Vive Sin Drogas: Not counting the group of flowers who appear in the "sunny park" ad, who don't get enough screen time to really be considered "characters", there are three characters total — an anthropomorphic rapping flower, a drug-abusing boy, and a silent butterfly who seems to be there for no reason.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Meta Example: Animax's anime dubs have only a small handful of voice actors, leading to extensive cases of Talking to Himself. The culprits are Candice Moore, Darren Pleavin, Sarah Hauser, Claudia Thompson, Scott Evans, and Andrea Kwan — those talents alone make up the entire voice cast for their dub of Cardcaptor Sakura.
  • The only people we ever see in Angel's Egg are the little girl with the egg and the young warrior with the cross-shaped riffle. Apart from them and couple of ghostly fishermen who can't really be considered characters, the highly-detailed world the two live in is completely deserted.
  • Bakemonogatari only has about a dozen named characters. A few of them (such as Hitagi's father, or Koyomi's sisters) might seem less significant, but they only appear for actual significant interaction. Furthermore, there are no walk on extras at all (unless you count blurred and censored images in some flashbacks). In place of extras, they sometimes show a sort of person-shaped cut-out. It gives an eerie sort of feeling, considering things take place in what should be crowded places, and gets particularly creepy when you realize that every character in Hajikuji's opening are cloned extras of Hajikuji herself.
  • Doushitemo Furetakunai: For the most part, the story only follows the main couple: Shima and Togawa, occasionally with their friend Onoda showing up. Togawa's boss shows up twice in a chapter and Shima's ex is referenced multiple times, though he never shows up, leaving a total of 5 relevant characters to the story. The spin off adds one more in the form of Deguchi, Onoda's friend that is in love with him.
  • Girls' Last Tour focuses mostly on Chito and Yuuri, two survivors of the end of the world, with other characters being few and far between.
  • Handsome Girl and Crossdressing Boy only has four named characters: Iori, Hazuki, Iori's sister Sayuri, and Hazuki's friend Koyuki.
  • In Hotarubi no Tomoru Koro ni, the seven Tadamuras are literally the only characters in the story (save for a couple of Posthumous Characters and Takano). Everyone else in the village has vanished.
  • How to Make an Invisible Man is an interesting case, as it initially features numerous teachers and classmates, but they all disapear from the radar when the main character becomes completely "invisible". After Chapter 3, the only characters appearing or speaking are Shinji, his Childhood Friend Kana who keeps unconsciously waiting for him, and Miki, who made Shinji invisible, reinforcing the impression that these three are quite literally removed from the world.
  • The only real characters of the Girls' Love anime Kuttsukiboshi are Kiiko, Aya, and Aya's brother Kota. Background characters have very few lines and contributions to the story.
  • Most chapters in My Neighbor Seki are built around just Yokoi and Seki interacting, with neither input nor interruptions from anyone else.
  • Tomoko from No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is an extremely awkward introvert, making this definitely the case in early chapters. Tomoko, her brother Tomoki, her cousin Kii, her old friend Yuu, and kindly upperclasswoman Imae are the only named characters in the twelve-episode anime adaptation, which covers the first 30ish chapters of the manga. Later on, this stopped applying, due to the class trip arc significantly expanding the supporting cast — funnily, it did so mostly by expanding characters who were background filler beforehand.
  • Pop Team Epic stars two characters, Popuko and Pipimi. Other characters come and go, typically for one-shot strips. The anime adaptation introduced a small handful of recurrent villains, but they only appear in a few episodes.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets focuses exclusively on Fuutarou and the five Nakano sisters, with their fathers and Fuutarou's sister Raiha appearing occasionally. There are only three named characters outside of that (not counting the sisters' dead mom), with brief and minor roles.
  • School-Live! has only five major characters - Yuki, Kurumi, Yuuri, Miki, and Megumi-sensei (plus the dog Taroumaru in the anime). Fitting, as they're trapped in their school during a Zombie Apocalypse and have no way of finding any other survivors. We briefly see other characters in flashbacks, and a man in a helicopter appears only to die when it crashes, but that's it. Also, Megumi is actually dead, only appearing as part of Yuki's delusions. Later in the manga, the girls encounter another batch of survivors when they're forced to leave the school, but they're gone at the end of the arc though one tags along with the girls.
  • Shelter technically has two characters, Rin and her father, but her father only appears in flashbacks, because he died when the Earth was destroyed, and before that happened he put Rin into a spaceship with a life support machine and virtual reality machine, so she could survive and be happy.
  • Befitting the Minimalist presentation, Makoto Shinkai's first three major works — Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and 5 Centimeters per Second — only star up to five named characters of major significance and a bunch of interchangeable bit parts.
  • Student Council's Discretion has around 12 named characters as well. The five main characters are usually the only ones shown, though.
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 only has three recurring characters: Mari, Mirai, and Yuuki. It's justified in that it's about Mari trying to reunite the siblings with their parents after an earthquake.
  • Wish Upon the Pleiades, due to its short length, is completely focused on the five Magical Girls, the goofy bloboid "President," and Minato. Other students are seen a couple of times, but they stay in the background and don't interact with any of the main characters.
  • Yuki Yuna is a Hero: the only characters are the five protagonists, their animal familiars, "Taisha" — the shadowy leaders of the Magical Girl system, only seen in the form of text messages — and later Sonoko. The non-magical students have no lines and rarely appear.

    Comic Books 
  • Most of the stories from The Fox and the Crow comic books in the '50s and '60s featured only the two Funny Animals from the title. Even in the few ones where some other characters appeared, it was for only a few panels and always as non-recurring extras in incidental roles.
  • Cowboy Henk: Henk is the only recurring character in all gags.

    Comic Strips 
  • During its five-year run only five characters ever appeared in Arnold: Arnold himself, classmates Tommy and Heather, their teacher Mr. Lester, and his baby brother Sidney. Even then vast majority of the strip's run only featured Arnold, Tommy, and Mr. Lester. Heather only appeared for few months in the beginning before she disappeared without explanation, and Sidney wasn't introduced until near the end of the strip's run. Every other character only spoke from off-panel.
  • Quick and Flupke: The series only featured three recurring characters: Quick, Flupke and the police officer Agent 15.

    Eastern Animation 
  • Exaggerated in Me Cvimad Moval, whose cast consists of only two characters, a snowman and a human girl.
  • Pat and Mat: There's two of them and that's it.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Morozko" only features the titular Father Frost, the old married couple, their two daughters... and the family dog.

    Fan Works 
  • For the most part, Potter Puppet Pals has only Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Dumbledore and Voldemort. And Neville, played brilliantly by a squash. When fans requested a puppet of Draco, the puppet Harry held a proportionally smaller puppet version of Draco.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fics:
    • Most of the Silent Ponyville Chronicles have this trope, with the first installment including only Pinkie and Twilight. Being based on Silent Hill (see below) will do that.
    • The short fanfic Gimme Shelter has all of two characters, Fleur de Lis and Fancypants, appear in the story.
    • The only characters in Octaves are Vinyl Scratch and Octavia, and they as well as a bartender in Chapter 6 are the only ponies with speaking roles. Other characters, such as Vinyl's boss or the music critic that gave Vinyl's album a negative review, are mentioned frequently but never actually appear.
  • In Total Drama fanfic Lunch Date with a Goth, an Indie Chick, and a Wide-Eyed Bubble Boy, the titular protagonistsnote  are the fic's only characters; some of the show's other characters are mentioned but they never appear.
  • Touhou fics:
    • The first act of Touhou Ibunshu, Reinterpretation of Scarlet Devil, only includes Reimu, Marisa, Rumia, Cirno, and the five Scarlet Mansion denizens, along with brief appearances of some fairies.
    • At Chirei has some animals and nameless youkai in a few panels at the beginning, but other than that only has twelve characters total, two of which only appear in a dream.
  • Power Rangers Clockwork has six named characters as the only characters appearing throughout: Arika/Ultimate Goddess Arcadiarika, her world's version of Carter Grayson, Sean Johnson/Ultimate Red Legendary Ranger, Asgaut, Brynja, and Aricin Velothi. The Gilded Automatons also appear, but only briefly as the villain's mooks.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Bolt is the only character in “The Box,” trapped alone inside the title object.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Disney Princess franchise only composes ten characters within said franchise, with new additions appearing sporadically (and characters who were princesses but whose movies weren't well-received, such as Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron, getting excluded). The villain franchise, on the other hand, consists of every single animated Disney (and Pixar) villain to date.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs only has eleven main characters out of a total of fourteen (the titular characters, plus the Evil Queen, the Huntsman, and the Prince).
  • Surfs Up 2 Wave Mania has only four returning characters from the first film (Cody, Chicken Joe, Lani, and Tank), The Hang Five, a Seagull sports announcer and 5 penguin chicks.
  • Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers each had a cast of only three, and only Wallace spoke. The later two shorts also skimp on the speaking parts (two and three, respectively), although the cast is a little larger.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane features three characters almost exclusively.
  • 12 Angry Men. At the beginning, other people (such as the defendant and the judge) are briefly shown, but for the rest of the film, we only see the twelve jurors and the bailiff.
  • 28 Hotel Rooms: The man and woman are the only recurring characters-the rest are just extras in the bar or elevator scenes, with few to no lines.
  • 127 Hours: There are a couple of people for short parts at the beginning, and a family of hikers at the very end. The rest of the film is entirely focused on Aron.
  • Alien only features seven characters (possibly eleven depending on whether you count the cat, the computer, the alien, and the space jockey). The later films starting with Aliens used much larger casts.
  • All Is Lost stars Robert Redford as a sailor lost at sea. He is the only cast member.
  • Antichrist's plot involves only the principal couple, He and She, with their son dying early in the film and any other brief characters having their faces deliberately blurred.
  • The Ryuhei Kitamura film Aragami (made on a bet in only a single week) features only five actors, two of which are non-speaking parts on-screen for barely a minute between them, a third of which (the woman) has only two lines in the entire movie. And one of the two remaining characters (the protagonist) doesn't even have a name! Aragami's opposing number in the Duel Project, 2LDK went even further, with a cast of only three actors, one of whom was only a voice heard over the phone at the end.
  • Bloodthirsty: There are only seven characters in the film, and three only have one or two scenes.
  • The Breakfast Club features the five kids in detention, the janitor and the principal (the kids' parents briefly appear at the beginning).
  • Buried is a good example: Ryan Reynolds is the only actor we see.
  • Carnage by Roman Polański features only four actors, with the exception of a few extras in the intro and epilogue, as well as a few voices heard over the phone.
  • Carnal Knowledge has just seven credited characters.
  • Other people are about at the start and end of Cast Away, but for the majority of the film it's just Tom Hanks and a volleyball. The ball's name is Wilson, but he doesn't have any lines.
  • Cheap Thrills: Four characters, with fleeting appearances by two other people.
  • Closetland has a cast of two, Madeline Stowe and Alan Rickman, performing in a single interrogation room for all but the final minute.
  • The cast of the low-budget sci-fi film Coherence consists of eight characters.
  • Henry, Helen, and Paul are the only characters of note in Coda (2019).
  • Creep (2014) has two onscreen characters, Aaron and Josef. A third character, Angela, is introduced near the end of the film as The Voice; She gives Aaron some unsettling information over the phone and is never seen in person.
  • Cube: Only seven people. One of them appears only in the first scene and doesn't interact with the rest.
  • Aside from the Bookends in the orchestra hall where the titular work is played, Death and the Maiden features just three main characters, Paulina, Girardo, and Dr. Miranda, mostly in the home of the first two. As mentioned above, Polanski seems to like using this trope.
  • Destination Wedding: Frank and Lindsay are the only characters with speaking lines; everyone else is an extra.
  • Dinner for One has two characters.
  • Dinosaur Island (2014): After Lucas ends up on the island about 11 minutes into the movie, it's all about him and Kate. There are no other characters, with the exception of a man who is shown as the prisoner of the Wacky Wayside Tribe and is onscreen for only a few minutes, and plays a most minor role. The Wacky Wayside Tribe exist, but are technically not "characters", in the sense of total lack of dialog or characterization.
  • The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Two kidnappers. One girl. Have at it.
  • Some Early Films are this. Roundhay Garden Scene only features four people, all friends of the man who made the film. The Kiss just features two people kissing.
  • In Eden Log, the man and the botanist are the only two major characters.
  • Exam. Eight quickly dwindling characters in a room, plus the silent and immobile guard and The Invigilator who only shows up twice.
  • Except for the helicopter pilot, the robot characters who appear only in the flashback footage, and the faceless extras at the end — all of whom have short appearances or no lines — Ava, Caleb, Kyoko, and Nathan are the entire cast of Ex Machina, and Kyoko is The Speechless.
  • The film adaptation of the stage play Fences, other than a handful of scenes with Ghost Extras, has only 7 characters: Troy, Rose, Bono, Cory, Lyons, Gabe and Raynell (who only appears in the last few scenes). Additionally, there are two ghost characters: Bono's wife Lucille, and Alberta, Troy's mistress. On top of the small cast, these characters are rarely all on screen at the same time, making the cast seem even smaller.
  • Finch (2021): Most of the cast consist of a dog, two robots, and one human. Aside from a brief flashback, Tom Hanks is the only human actor seen on screen.
  • The Fly (1986) has only three major characters — Seth, Veronica, and Stathis — and the men only interact with each other in two sequences (Stathis's first scene and the climax/finale), so most of the film consists of interactions between Veronica and one of the two men. Of the six other speaking roles, only Tawny (the woman Seth picks up at the bar after a falling-out with Veronica) gets more than one scene/sequence during a stretch of the second act, leaving the others with a handful of lines each. (In fact, two of them only appear in Veronica's Nightmare Sequence.) There are silent extras in scenes where it would be logical to have them.
  • Gerry has Gerry and Gerry. Some other people are seen in the background but nobody else.
  • Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts stranded in space. Another astronaut appears in the background in the opening, but he, like everybody else who isn't Bullock or Clooney, is a voice role.
  • For most of the Danish Police Procedural The Guilty (which takes place entirely inside a dispatch centre), only Asger is on screen. Some of his coworkers are also seen briefly, and the voices of several other characters are heard over the telephone.
  • The Happiness Cage has only seven characters excepting two brief scenes at the beginning and end. Unsurprisingly, it was based on a play, but the clastrophobia is also an effective part of its theme.
  • Hard Candy features only two characters.
  • Harpoon features three characters and an unseen narrator.
  • The 1968 film Hell in the Pacific features an American pilot (Lee Marvin) and a Japanese navy captain (Toshiro Mifune) marooned in a desert island during World War II. They're the only characters in the film.
  • Hidden: The vast majority of the film only features three people in a bomb shelter.
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour has only four speaking parts, and in fact the two lovers who are the protagonists of the story have about 98% of the spoken dialogue. An old lady gets a couple of lines as she talks to the man, and another man gets a couple of lines as he talks to the woman, and that's it. There are a few more actors who have wordless parts, such as the woman's parents and her former soldier lover, who appear in flashbacks.
  • Honeymoon: Two characters, along with brief appearances of two additional characters, for a total for four people ever visible on camera. The lack of anyone else around is a plot point.
  • The House of Yes features five characters. There is a brief shot of a restaurant where we see three or four extras and that's about as expanded as it gets.
  • The Human Centipede (First Sequence) primarily focuses on four characters: The Mad Scientist Heiter who creates the centipede, and the three victims (two of which are unable to talk throughout a large portion of the film due to being a part of said creation.) Towards the end, there are two additional characters in the form of the two cops who come to Heiter's house, and there are two more minor characters in the form of the truck driver in the beginning and the pervert in the car who Jenny and Lindsay try to get help from. If you want to really stretch the definition of "character" there's also the person on the other side of the phone in the hotel scene.
  • There are five credited actors in I Am Mother, and they portray four characters (Mother is an android; one actor gave a physical performance in a suit and another voiced the character). Only three characters, Mother, Daughter, and Woman have any dialogue.
  • The Killer Shrews: Just the 5 inhabitants of the island and the 2 who came by boat.
  • Killing Words: Almost all of the movie is an interaction between two people alone in a basement. A few additional scenes have two other people talking to one of the main characters.
  • Knife in the Water, the film debut of Roman Polański, has only three parts — the married couple going for a ride on their sailboat and the young hitchhiker they take with them.
  • The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh has six credited actors, and for the most part only one of them, Aaron Poole, appears on screen (unless you count characters who are shown on a videotape within the movie). Everyone else is The Voice, including the Posthumous Character of the title, who is only present through narration until the very end.
  • Letter Never Sent has only six speaking parts, with almost all the lines going to the principal characters, the four geologists hunting for diamonds in the Siberian forest. The lead geologist's wife appears in one Dream Sequence, and the sixth speaking part is the voice on the radio when the geologists are calling back to Moscow.
  • The Lighthouse has only two speaking roles, Winslow and Wake. About four other non-speaking characters appear.
  • Lo has Justin, Jeez, April, and Lo. So, only three characters.
  • Locke: The title character, played by Tom Hardy, is the only person you see on screen. He speaks with a total of 11 other characters by phone, but mostly about five.
  • The Lodge: There are three major characters: Grace and the two kids, Mia and Aidan. There are only three other speaking characters, Grace's partner/Mia and Aiden's father Richard, their mother Laura who dies in the first five minutes, and Grace's deceased father.
  • The titular characters of Malcolm & Marie are also its only characters.
  • The Man from Earth has only a total of twelve characters: John, the six other professors and one student, two movers, and two policemen.
  • The film Moon by Duncan Jones has a grand total of two main characters: Sam Bell and GERTY. There is technically Sam's wife, but she is only seen in pre-recorded messages and a short dream sequence. Similarly, any other characters involved only appear in recorded messages from Earth. Nonetheless, Sam and GERTY are the only people to appear in person until the end.
  • My Dinner with Andre is famous for just two characters chatting about life and existence over a meal in a restaurant.
  • The Naked Spur, a 1953 Western starring James Stewart, has only five speaking roles — Stewart as a bounty hunter, the criminal Stewart's chasing, the criminal's girlfriend, and two other men that the bounty hunter gets stuck with as partners.
  • Never Cry Wolf: Only eight humans appear in the movie, four of whom only have a minute or two of screen time.
  • Nightbooks: For most of the movie, there's only four characters. Natacha, Alex, Yazmin and the cat Lenore.
  • Open Water has only two cast members for most of the film, the couple lost at sea.
  • Oxygen has only a single onscreen character for nearly the entire the movie, since the premise is that a woman wakes up alone in a cryo-pod and has to figure out what's going on before she runs out of oxygen. The only exceptions are a handful of flashbacks and the epilogue shot.
  • The first Paranormal Activity had only four onscreen characters, two of them only appearing in two scenes. Later films in the series had somewhat larger casts.
  • Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966) has only five actors (and, depending on how you interpret the film, possibly even fewer actual characters), three of them only appearing briefly. Another Bergman film, Through a Glass Darkly, has only four characters — the four people spending a beach weekend together—and doesn't even feature any extras.
  • The Quiet Earth: The credits list a whopping six actors for the entire movie. Half of those only appear in brief flashbacks or recordings.
  • A Quiet Place only has eight characters: Lee, Evelyn, Regan, Marcus, Beau, the baby that Evelyn gives birth to, and a nameless old man. Out of these eight, Beau appears for about ten minutes in the opening before being killed off and the old man only has a few seconds of screentime.
  • Revenge (2017) has four main characters (Jen, Richard, Stan and Dimi), one very minor support character (Richard's helicopter pilot), and Richard's wife, who's only heard on the phone a few times. That's it.
  • After the opening shot, the rest of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope takes place inside one apartment. The only characters we meet are the apartment's residents, their maid, and their dinner guests, a total of nine people (and the movie begins with one of them getting murdered).
  • Saturn 3 has a cast of Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, Farrah Fawcett, and one other onscreen speaking character who gets killed in the first five minutes. All other characters are heard only via intercom or long-range radio. And none of them have an actual dialogue with the main characters. All other characters are background extras, including a completely masked space pilot. The total could be five characters if you count Hector the robot. Six if you count the fact that Keitel's voice was dubbed over by Roy Dotrice.
  • The main cast of Save Yourselves! consists of only Su, Jack, and later the baby. While several other characters do appear, they all get very little screentime compared to them.
  • The Shape of Things was made from Neil La Bute's stage play of the same name. Like Tape, the only characters to have speaking parts are the four characters of the play — portrayed by the same cast too!
  • She's Gotta Have It: Only six characters are in two or more scenes.
  • The 1972 film adaptation of Sleuth has only six credited characters, of whom only three spend any significant amount of time onscreen. And of those three, Inspector Doppler turns out to be one of the other two in disguise. The film credits try not to spoil the twist by claiming the Inspector is played by someone called "Alec Cawthorne". In his review of Sleuth, Roger Ebert gets in on the joke, saying Cawthorne is "a veteran stage actor making his movie debut".
  • Swiss Army Man has Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe (whose character is deceased), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, plus seven minor characters.
  • The 2001 independent film Tape, based on a stage play, features Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman and nobody else.
  • The Thing (1982) is centered entirely around the twelve members of the Antarctic research team. The only other people who show up alive and in person are dead in the first ten minutes. Otherwise you just have a corpse and a few people who show up in video recordings.
  • Throw Momma from the Train has an In-Universe example. Larry criticizes Owen's story Murder At My Friend Harry's for being too hard to follow. Owen asks how that can be possible since there's only two characters and one of them is dead by the end of page two.
  • Till Death has only five major characters, with one of them spending most of the movie as a corpse, and two only joining in after his death.
  • All of the Tremors movies feature relatively small casts, but the second in particular has only eight people on screen, and two of those only appear in the first few minutes.
  • The bulk of Triangle is told using five characters.
  • The Vanishing (2018) features three main characters, and eventually three antagonists. There are some bit characters who bring the total count to ten actors, eight of whom have dialogue.
  • Underwater: The only onscreen characters are the six submarine members and the creatures.
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Only four major characters, and two uncredited bit parts with a few lines each.
  • Your Friends & Neighbors: The six main characters might as well be the only characters in the film. Extras are shown in the background, but the only ones that the characters ever interact with are Jerry's students or Cary's one-night stands. Even then, the interaction is one-sided: none outside of the six leads have speaking parts.
  • The only characters in Zathura are the protagonists: Walter and Danny; Lisa, their older sister, their father (who's barely in it at all), and the astronaut.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul: Season 5 Episode 8 "Bagman" notably only has two credited guest-stars (the Cousins) and only four of the seven main characters (Jimmy, Mike, Kim, and Lalo). Lalo and Kim only have two scenes (a one-on-one between the two plus each having a scene with Jimmy). Jimmy and Mike spend a large portion of the episode on their own stranded in the desert.
  • Black Books has only three people in the regular cast and no recurring characters of note.
  • The Blake's 7 episode "Sarcophagus" features some non-speaking aliens at the beginning, but the rest of the episode has just the Liberator crew and an alien that's taken on Cally's form. Not even Servalan appears.
  • The Cleaner (UK): The amount of people who appear in a particular episode can be counted on one hand. Of those, only one (Wicky) appears in more than one episode and only two or three are of any importance to the part (with the others being extras).
  • Criminal (2019): While not as minimalist as some of the other examples, the cast only ever comprises the detectives (who rotate in being the leading roles), the suspect, and their solicitor.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Way back in 1964 there's the slightly surreal two-part serial Bottle Episode "The Edge of Destruction", which features only the four regular characters, and is set entirely inside the TARDIS (the console room and a couple of other rooms).
    • When an episode was cut from the previous story and "The Mind Robber" was expanded from four to five episodes, its first episode became this. There was no budget (even by Doctor Who's notoriously low standards) for additional cast, props, costumes or even sets. The only resources available was the standing TARDIS control room set, the 3 leads, the robots that would appear later on in the story and a large empty stage painted white. Surprisingly it worked.
    • The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry are the only characters on-screen in the first episode of "The Ark in Space".
    • If the above implies that "and robots" doesn't disqualify an episode for this, then "The Girl Who Waited" counts as one of these. It features only the three main characters, some robots and a disembodied voice-interface. The cast list is the shortest of any new-series Doctor Who episode...
    • ...until "Heaven Sent", which features a grand total of four characters: one who isn't really there, another who doesn't appear until the final moments of the episode, the Doctor himself, and the Monster of the Week (which doesn't speak). Capaldi carries the vast majority of the episode on his own and delivers all but one line of dialogue.
  • Irish sitcom Dan and Becs: two characters, whose total onscreen time together amounts to maybe one minute, out of two full seasons.
  • Degrassi Junior High didn't really have extras, because everyone you see was a character who would get an episode of their own.
  • Australian kids TV series Johnson and Friends only featured a cast of five toys (six after Season 3), while the toys' owner and his family remained The Ghost.
  • The Last Man on Earth starts out as being Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but new characters dribble in as the first season progresses; as it winds down the total reaches seven survivors.
  • LazyTown has a cast of nine characters, without recurring or background characters. Every time the kids meet a "new" character, it's just one of Robbie's disguises, yet somehow they fall for his tricks every time.
  • M*A*S*H The episode "Hawkeye" (4-18). Hawkeye has been injured in a jeep accident, and aware that he is concussed, talks continuously (to keep himself awake) to the members of the Korean family who found him. None of the other regular or supporting members of the cast appear, and the Koreans are petty much Living Props, since they don't understand a word of English.
  • One Foot in the Grave took this to the ultimate in "The Trial", where Victor is the only person in the episode.
  • Out of this World (1962): "Little Lost Robot": The nameless extras are all removed, and Walensky's role expands to fill the gap. Only five humans are shown, and Roger Snowden portrays all of the robots.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • "Marooned" principally takes place on a crashed spaceship, and focuses on Lister and Rimmer, with the rest of the main cast only appearing at the beginning and end.
    • "Duct Soup" focuses entirely on the crew while inside Starbug.
  • Root into Europe: Mr. and Mrs. Root are the only main characters who appear in every episode.
  • The German TV series Der Tatortreiniger rarely has more than two characters (counting the protagonist) per episode. Any other ones would usually be void of any lines or impact.
  • Most of Scenes from a Marriage (2021)'s five-hour runtime consists of Jonathan and Mira and only them. While other characters appear, they have very small roles.
  • The Television Ghost had only one actor, George Kelting, who played a different ghost in each episode.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • Earl Holliman is the only actor to appear in "Where Is Everybody?" until the last five minutes.
    • "Perchance to Dream" only features three credited actors: Richard Conte, John Larch and Suzanne Lloyd.
    • "A World of His Own" only features three actors: Keenan Wynn, Phyllis Kirk and Mary LaRoche.
    • Robert Cummings is the only actor to appear in "King Nine Will Not Return" until the last five minutes.
    • Only two actors appear in "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room": Joe Mantell and William D. Gordon, who only appears in two scenes.
    • "A Most Unusual Camera" only features four credited actors: Fred Clark, Jean Carson, Adam Williams and Marcel Hillaire.
    • Agnes Moorehead is the only actor to appear on screen in "The Invaders". The director Douglas Heyes has a voice over cameo as one of the "tiny" astronauts in the final scene.
    • As the title would suggest, "Two" features only two actors: Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery.
    • Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters are the only credited actors to appear in "A Game of Pool". An uncredited female actress has a brief voice over role in the two scenes set in the afterlife.
    • "Nothing in the Dark" features only three actors: Gladys Cooper, Robert Redford and R.G. Armstrong.
    • The only credited actors to appear in "Little Girl Lost" are Sarah Marshall, Robert Sampson and Charles Aidman. Although they are uncredited, Tracy Stratford and Rhoda Williams nevertheless play prominent roles.
    • Mickey Rooney is the only actor to appear in "The Last Night of a Jockey".
    • "Uncle Simon" only features three credited actors: Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Ford and Ian Wolfe. Vic Perrin is uncredited as the voice of the robot.
    • "Probe 7, Over and Out" only features four credited actors: Richard Basehart, Antoinette Bower, Harold Gould and Barton Heyman.
    • "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain" only features three credited actors: Patrick O'Neal, Ruta Lee and Walter Brooke.
    • Collin Wilcox, Richard Long, Pamela Austin and Suzy Parker are the only actors to appear in "Number 12 Looks Just Like You". With the exception of Wilcox, they all play multiple roles.
    • "Night Call" only features three credited actors: Gladys Cooper, Nora Marlowe and Martine Bartlett. The voice of an uncredited male actor is heard in several scenes.
    • Martin Landau, John Van Dreelen and Bob Kelljan are the only actors to appear in "The Jeopardy Room".
    • "Stopover in a Quiet Town" only features two credited actors: Barry Nelson and Nancy Malone.
    • Neville Brand and George Takei are the only actors to appear in "The Encounter".
    • "Come Wander With Me" only features four actors: Gary Crosby, Bonnie Beecher, Jonathan Bolt and Hank Patterson.
    • Peter Mark Richman and Hazel Court are the only credited actors to appear in "The Fear".
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • Sherman Hemsley and Ron Glass are the only actors to appear in "I of Newton".
    • Stephen Geoffreys, Robert Prescott, Brandon Bluhm and Douglas Emerson are the only actors to appear in "The Elevator". The latter two only appear very briefly in one scene.
    • Barret Oliver, Darlanne Fluegel and Frederick Long are the only actors to appear on screen in "Gramma". For the majority of the running time, Oliver is by himself.
    • Mare Winningham, Brad Davis and Basil Hoffman are the only actors to appear in "Button, Button".
    • Lisa Eilbacher, Antony Hamilton and Kip Gilman are the only credited actors to appear in "Nightsong".
    • Akosua Busia, Cindy Harrell, Leslie Ackerman and Raye Birk are the only actors to appear in "Lost and Found".
    • Steve Kanaly, Laura Press and Benjamin Barrett are the only actors to appear in "Stranger in Possum Meadows".
    • After the first scene, Esai Morales and Maury Chaykin are the only actors to appear in "A Game of Pool".
  • Van Kooten En De Bie: A long-running Dutch TV series, presented and performed by just two actors: themselves. Sometimes a celebrity guest appeared, a few extras or a real actress whenever they needed an extra female character, but most of the time it was either Van Kooten alone, De Bie alone or both of them together.

    Music 

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: In the second season, the only main characters are the Cat in the Hat, the Little Cats, and Terrence McBird.
  • Yo Soy Taíno: There are only two on-screen characters, Marabeli and her grandmother. The voice of Marabeli's mother can be heard, but she isn't shown.
  • For a good portion of the first season of Bear in the Big Blue House, the main characters of Bear, Ojo, Tutter, Treelo, Pip and Pop, Shadow and Luna were the only characters ever seen. The very first guest, Grandma Flutter, would not appear until the show's sixteenth episode, although the rabbit who would become known as "Christine" had appeared in the background in previous installments. Regular guests, such as Ray the sun and Doc Hogg would not debut until the program's second season.

    Radio 
  • Lum and Abner, although there was always the (very rare) exception.

    Theatre 
  • This is commonplace for smaller plays, especially one-acts such as every single play from David Ives' All in the Timing. Contest productions, themselves often being limited to a set running time, often only have a handful of characters and simply delegate the roles of cut parts to the main characters to save time on both blocking and rehearsal. As such, smaller casts should be taken relative to the length of the play: An hour-long cutting of A Doll's House is minimalist even at the full nine-person cast, while a ten-minute one with three characters is fairly dense.
  • SOHO Theater's Bears in Space has only four actors/puppeteers.
  • Danny And The Deep Blue Sea has only two characters, Danny and Roberta.
  • Exaggerated in Don't Talk to the Actors, which has a total of six characters onstage. And its play within the play, Tuning Pianos, only casts two of those characters, the titular actors.
  • The Dumb Waiter's only cast members are the two hitmen.
  • Educating Rita features Frank and Rita as the only characters, although The Movie adds more.
  • Faith Healer by Brian Friel has one set and three characters, and there's never more than one character onstage at any given time.
  • While Finale was originally written to have a large ensemble, complications with the cast caused the final original cast to all be playing major characters, and the ensemble scenes consisted of the actors whose characters weren't currently in said scenes.
  • The play The Fourposter features one married couple. No other characters appear. When it was adapted into the musical I Do! I Do!, the cast of characters was not expanded into the typical musical comedy ensemble and chorus — indeed, it was not expanded at all.
  • The Glass Menagerie has just four characters.
  • Zigzagged by Godspell. Its smallest cast is 10 people, but parts can be chopped up and farmed out to support much larger ensembles. This is part of why it's popular for schools or community theatres.
  • Greater Tuna has an interesting twist on this: while there are more than 20 characters, traditionally the play is performed with only 2 actors.
  • Hadestown has only 5 main characters, Orpheus, Eurydice, Hades, Persephone, and Hermes, plus the three Fates and a 5-person chorus.
  • I and You: There are only two characters in the play, Caroline and Anthony, and one set (Caroline's room). Other people such as Caroline's mother are mentioned but never appear.
  • I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change has only four actors—two male, two female, just enough to hit all four major Voice Types. It helps that the show does not have a plot as such and is instead a series of vignettes.
  • Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape has a cast of one: an old man listening back to a tape recording he made earlier.
  • Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years has two actors total. Even better, there's only a couple of songs when they're even on stage at the same time. (The film adaptation, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, was in fact criticized by some fans for having additional speaking parts!)
  • David Mamet plays:
    • Speed-the-Plow has a cast of three: film producers Bobby and Charlie, and secretary Karen.
    • Boston Marriage has a cast of three: best friends Anna and Claire, and Anna's maid Catherine.
    • American Buffalo has a cast of three: Donny, Bobby and Teach.
  • "Master Harold"... and the Boys manages to get by with exactly three actors, a restaurant, and a black man's ass.
  • Menopause: The Musical has only the four main characters, and any other character is either The Ghost or The Voice.
  • The Moon is Blue has one supporting actor who appears for one scene only, but the central Love Triangle has the stage all to themselves for the rest of the play.
  • The Mousetrap, by dint of everybody being stuck in a snowstorm and the entire play taking place in a single room.
  • Murder For Two works in a similar vein. One actor plays a detective, the other one plays about a dozen suspects and the victim. The detective's partner doesn't have an actor despite being the murderer, and getting a verse of his own. Oh, by the way, the show's a musical. And there's no band. Both actors play the piano in center stage, in character, for the entire show.
  • Next to Normal has a cast of six: the family (mother, father, son, daughter), the daughter's boyfriend, and the mother's psychologist.
  • 'night, Mother features only two characters: Jessie, who announces that she's going to kill herself, and her mother Thelma, who desperately tries to talk her out of it.
  • No Exit features four actors on one set, one of whom is a One-Scene Wonder.
  • In Orfeo ed Euridice, only three major characters — Orpheus, Eurydice, and Cupid — feature and are named, with the chorus taking multiple roles.
  • Perfect Pie: The only characters are adult and child versions of Patsy and Francesca, meaning a total of four characters.
  • Patrick Süskind of Perfume fame has written Der Kontrabass (The Double Bass). One set, one character, one giant success on German theaters.
  • Most Reduced Shakespeare Company productions have only three actors to cover all the roles they're parodying. Shakespeare Abridged gets away with only two actors for the entirety of Romeo and Juliet, with the third playing a Lemony Narrator.
  • The Australian play Ruby Moon appears to have a large cast, but then it turns out that the two main characters are the only real people there, the others all being figments of their imagination.
  • The play Same Time Next Year, is restricted to a single courting couple.
  • Sleuth has only five characters. And only two actors.
  • The Soldier's Tale has a total of three speaking parts: the Soldier, the Devil and The Narrator (who does stand in for many other characters between scenes, and also talks directly to the Soldier in one scene). The only other onstage character is the Princess, a One-Scene Wonder mute dancing role, though the script suggests other dancing extras may also be used.
  • Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown has the same cast and the same structure as I Love You, though it's about moments of transformation rather than romance.
  • Speaking in Tongues has nine characters, played by four actors across three acts, plus a few Ghosts. The film adaptation Lantana subverted this by turning a few of the Ghosts into more significant characters.
  • [title of show] has two actors, two actresses, and the pianist.
  • The Trail to Oregon! has six actors: five play the main family while Joey Richter plays all of the other roles. This was in part because Team Starkid was simultaneously putting on Ani which had the majority of the group as its cast. Another show by the related group Tin Can Brothers, The Solve-It Squad Returns, has only five actors, with four (including Richter) as the four leads and Brian Rosenthal in Richter's position as "everyone else".
  • The Trainspotting stageplay has several roles being played by four actors.
  • In Trouble in Tahiti, the cast consists of one couple and a Greek Chorus distant from the action. There are no other singing or speaking parts, though the presence of other characters is occasionally implied.
  • In the opera The Turn of the Screw, the maximum on-stage ensemble consists of no more than the six main characters: the two children, the two ghosts, the Governess and Mrs. Grose. This does not include the Narrator, who disappears after the Opening Monologue and is played by the same tenor as Quint by Original Cast Precedent.
  • The play Two for the Seesaw has a cast no larger than the number in its title, though The Musical adaptation Seesaw added a lot more.
  • Vanities has a cast of just three women, although external characters are mentioned.
  • The Voice of the Turtle has two actresses and one actor.
  • Waiting for Godot has four main characters and one cameo.
  • Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has only four characters.

    Toys 
  • Although My Little Pony usually has everypony imaginable, the franchise briefly switched to this at one point. In 2008, the main cast was reduced to just 7 characters: Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, StarSong, Sweetie Belle, and retooled versions of Toola-Roola and Cheerilee. The only others to get toys during that time were three nameless minor characters who were the mothers of Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Cheerilee and Scootaloo, respectively. They did produce a rather wide variety of toys during those two years... but they all depicted the same 10 characters, which was a very unusually low number considering how many there were in other years.

    Video Games 
  • Not at all uncommon for the Survival Sandbox genre of games, as a lack of support is an almost quintessential part of the experience.
    • The Long Dark has only the main character, human corpses, and animals.
    • Stranded Deep has no humans but the player and plenty of animals.
  • While Amnesia: The Dark Descent has a rather sizable secondary cast heard in audio flashbacks or mentioned in the various documents lying around, the only people actually in the castle are Agrippa, Alexander, and Daniel. Not counting the Gatherers and the large pile of bodies in the basement, of course.
  • Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative follows the example of its predecessor Portal, with the only two characters being the mute player character and the personality core Nigel.
  • Bastion has The Kid, Rucks, Zulf, and Zia. Unless you count the Ura who are human, and have a role in the plot, but don't have any lines or characters amongst them aside from Zulf and Zia.
  • Best of Three: The only three characters who appear in person are Helen, Grant, and the unnamed waiter. Many others are mentioned, but don't appear.
  • The BIT.TRIP series revolves entirely around CommanderVideo. In BEAT, CORE, and VOID, the only other characters we see are unnamed beings who look identical to him. RUNNER adds CommandgirlVideo, Junior Melchkin, Radbot (who is actually Mr. Robotube), Meat Boy, and Mingrawn Timbletot to the cast, and the Denser and Wackier spinoff games add even more.
  • Blaster Master Zero has only three major named characters, Jason, Eve and Fred, as the rest are mindless, murderous boss mutants. The sequel fixed this by adding an entire supporting cast, including a rival.
  • The BoxBoy! series only has the player character, Qbby, his two friends Qucy and Qudy, and some unnamed spiky-headed enemies that have to be lured into traps in a few levels. Bye-Bye BoxBoy! also has the Qbabies, who Qbby has to escort through certain levels.
  • The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana has just two characters — the player, and the eponymous doctor. Only Arcana himself is voiced.
  • There are a couple of minor characters who briefly show up in Chapter 2 of Celeste, but aside from them there are only five characters: Madeline, Part Of Me/Badeline, Theo, Granny and Mr. Oshiro. Six if you count the bird.
  • The first Clock Tower game was this, with only the Player Character Jennifer Simpson, her three friends who become murder victims, the Evil Mrs. Burroughs and her two monster sons, her crazed husband who only appears in a cage and barely has any bearing on the plot, and Jennifer's father, who is only seen as a corpse. Later Clock Tower games would add more victims and or killers.
  • Cloud: The player character is the only character.
  • Cookie: O Bichinho Virtual: The only characters are your Cookie, the other cookies who show up on the birthday screen and the nondescript Blob Monster on the login sequence. The female counterpart to Cookie, Kika, who was featured in a companion game, is never even mentioned.
  • Dead Space starts several hours after an outbreak has swept through a mining colony, resulting in everyone on the planet and orbiting ship either dying horribly or becoming a monster. Not including the monsters and two Red Shirts in the intro, only 6 characters appear: Isaac Clarke, Zach Hammond, Kendra Daniels, Dr. Mercer, Dr. Kyne, Nicole Brennan. It's actually 5, as Nicole is a hallucination, and the number decreases until only Isaac is left.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening featured only four characters. Bosses with speaking roles appear but they usually contribute little to the story aside of most of them becoming new weapons for Dante (and, in one case, Vergil). When it boils down to it the only characters appearing in the story with any relevance are Dante, Vergil, Lady, and Arkham/Jester.
  • Disco Zoo contains exactly one named character — Sue, your assistant.
  • As a reformulated take on the Donkey Kong Country formula, Donkey Kong Land has Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Cranky Kong and King K. Rool as the only major characters, and Cranky only shows up in the manual!
  • The only characters in the original Doom games are Doomguy and the hordes of demons that he fights. DOOM (2016) is only slightly more crowded, with VEGA, Samuel Hayden, and Olivia Pierce adding commentary from time to time, but is still mostly Doomguy doing what he does best (while Hayden chides his methods).
  • Façade just has your character, Trip and Grace inside the apartment. A few other characters get mentioned, but those three are the only ones who actually appear.
  • Fairy Bloom 1: There's only the player character fairy and her enemies which are either Blob Monsters or red Palette Swaps of herself.
  • Fallout: New Vegas's expansions Dead Money, Lonesome Road, and Old World Blues all dispense with the cast established in the base game in favor of sticking you in various death worlds full of non-sapient monsters, with your only company being the Arc Villain and a few other characters (three companions in Dead Money, the five Think-Tank members in Old World Blues, and ED-E in Lonesome Road).
  • Five Nights at Freddy's has only a handful of human characters who are never seen, along with a number of animatronic characters.
  • Aside from the Ghostrunner himself, the only characters that appear are the Architect/Adam, Mara, Zoe, and Hel.
  • Half-Life: Gordon Freeman, the G-Man, and the Nihilanth are the only named, recurring, non-generic characters in the first game, and one of them (Freeman) has no dialogue or even a face.note  The sequels added a more standard cast.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved has a grand total of six named characters: the Player Character, his Voice with an Internet Connection, an unseen pilot, The Captain, a Mauve Shirt, and 343 Guilty Spark. Everyone else is a nameless mook, and mostly Ditto Aliens to boot.
  • Haven (2020) focuses mostly on its protagonist couple, Kay and Yu, who are the sole inhabitants of the planet Source.
  • Hello Neighbor has two characters: the player character, and his neighbor (who is only identified as 'the Neighbor').
  • Iron Helix: The player character is the only living, breathing person for the vast majority of the game. Other characters do show up, but all but one of them are posthumous characters that you only meet through short video journals.
  • The player character in Iron Lung is the only character who 'appears' onscreen (the game takes place in first-person, so the player is a First-Person Ghost). At the start we hear the voice of one of the researchers communicating with the player, but they never physically appear. Beyond some vague references to other researchers and some kind of governing body, there's only two characters. It helps highlight the player's sense of isolation down in the depths.
  • In most Kirby games, the cast is limited to Kirby, some random enemies, Well-Intentioned Extremist Rivals King Dedede and Meta Knight, the Monster of the Week, and maybe a Waddle Dee or other "sidekick" character. The Dark Matter Trilogy expanded on this a bit with the introduction of Gooey and the Animal Friends, and marked the series' overall shift towards having a rather large character count overall (mainly due to one-off and minor recurring characters adding up); however, most individual games fall squarely into this trope.
  • In Lara Croft GO, Lara is the only character (unless you count the Queen of Venom, who's a giant serpent).
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 mostly has the four survivors who are seen alive.
  • In Lightmatter, the only characters, besides the player, are Virgil, Ellen, and James. Technically, there is also Arthur, who is mentioned repeatedly and is a major backstory character, but he never appears directly.
  • Myst:
  • In Ori and the Blind Forest, aside from deceased characters who show up in flashbacks, the only characters are Ori, Sein, the Spirit Tree, Naru, Gumo, and Kuro.
  • Pandora's Tower only has three characters, Aeron, Elena, and Mavda. However, after eating Master Flesh, Elena has visions of a few Posthumous Characters, one of whom turns out to be alive and becomes the Big Bad.
  • Portal has two characters (one of them a Heroic Mime, the other a disembodied voice) and the Companion Cube, plus the robotic Mooks and three briefly-appearing Personality Spheres. Portal 2 adds three more characters, two of whom died decades ago and are only heard from recordings, and three more Spheres.
  • Prince of Persia (2008) has the Prince and Elika as the heroes, the Big Bad, and his four-person Quirky Miniboss Squad. There are more characters, but they are either only present in a single cutscene or have little more "character" than a vaguely humanoid form.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time starts out with a grand battle with lots of human soldiers and the Prince's father and the Sultan of Azad as side characters, but once The End of the World as We Know It happens within the first half-hour, it's down to just the Prince, Farah and the Vizier.
  • Q.U.B.E. is mostly just the protagonist and two voices over the radio.
  • Raft: Aside from the animals, the only character is the player. Any human structures you find have been long-abandoned.
  • Serious Sam: just like Doom, the early games had no characters other than Sam himself and the aliens and monsters that he killed. Aside from him there's just the AI writing level/weapon/enemy descriptions (who occasionally displays personality by joking).
  • The only characters that appear at all in Shadow of the Colossus are: Wander, Agro (who is a horse), Mono (who is dead), Dormin (who is a sealed demon or god), Emon, and Emon's three henchmen.
  • Silent Hill is fond of this trope, most games containing a handful of characters amongst a lot of monsters. Isolation is a strong theme throughout the series.
    • Silent Hill has five or six characters (depending on whether or not Cheryl's infrequent appearances qualify her as a character), one of whom is Dead All Along.
    • Silent Hill 2 has five characters, one of whom is a hallucination.
    • Silent Hill 3 has four characters total.
    • Silent Hill 4 has a surprisingly high number of eight, but four are dead soon after they're encountered and one is little more than a Continuity Nod.
    • Silent Hill: Downpour has less than a dozen characters to populate a whole realistically sized city, with sprawling ghettos and subways, and the vast majority of those characters are enigmatic manifestations of the city. However, there are a few more characters in flashbacks, and lots of haunted houses with detailed histories and motivations behind their ghosts, so it feels like there are slightly more characters than are actually there.
  • Sky Odyssey only has one character that is ever seen on screen, and he doesn't say anything. There are also a few radio operators and pilots that appear in the background, but they number no more than 4 throughout the entire game. Even then there appearance is very brief and doesn't affect the story. If you count the narrator (who isn't seen outside
  • SM64.z64 is a romhack of Super Mario 64 where every character is removed from Peach's Castle and Bob-Omb Battlefield. The game turns even bleaker as the level is cleared multiple times, until a Glitch Entity called M'' ,:; spawns in and erases Mario. With even the plumber gone, the game becomes unplayable when the player next loads it.
    "Everything is better off without you."
  • The first Sonic The Hedgehog was this, consisting of only Sonic and Eggman; but from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 onward the series began to move out of this until it eventually had an extremely extensive cast. This became an issue when the earlier Alternate Continuity animated shows and comic books were in development, which made it necessary to add a lot of Canon Foreigners to balance out this problem.
    • Reverted in Sonic the Hedgehog 4, as the game made the choice to omit everyone but Sonic and Eggman from the game due to the common complaint of Sonic's many friends, much to the backlash off ans, since not even Tails or Knuckles were allowed a spot.
  • The Stanley Parable has just Stanley and the narrator, although two of the endings introduce a new character.
  • Super Mario Bros. has a large cast of characters, but most of them are either relegated to multiplayer games or their own seperate Spin off franchises. The main platforming series very rarely utilizes characters outside of Mario, Princess Peach, and Bowser. Yes, even the other half of the titular brothers, Luigi, very rarely plays a large role in the mainline games. In the 30+ years the franchise has been active, it has only introduced a few recurring characters in the main games. [[ Yoshi in Super Mario World, Bowser Jr in Super Mario Sunshine, and Rosalina i Super Mario Galaxy.
  • The Talos Principle: There are only two characters that interact with the player directly, Elohim and Milton, and neither appears onscreen. There are also only two voices, Elohim and Alexandra Drennan.
  • Tormented Souls has seven characters, two of which are Posthumous Characters mentioned in the diaries, one of which is dead as soon as physically encountered and another one turns out to be the protagonist's past identity.
  • Like Bastion above, Transistor could also count. There are a collection of side characters, but they've all been processed by the time you meet them, and while some of them get lines post-processing, they're too garbled to understand, leaving just Red, the Man in the Transistor and the four members of the Camerata. The only person who could be considered a (still-living) side character is the news reporter who Red never meets, and who ends up serving as an on-going Apocalyptic Log anyway.
  • The Turing Test: There are only seven characters, counting the player character, and only three actually make an appearance outside of audio logs: the player character Ava Turing, the AI TOM, and Sarah Brook (the latter appearing only a few times).
  • Vanish: Just the protagonist and the monsters in the tunnels.
  • Vib-Ribbon only has the player character, Vibri.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Doki Doki Literature Club!, you can even go to the game's folders to see there are files there for only four characters, and Player Character aside, nobody without a character file can "physically" appear in the game. That's the three girls you can choose to romance, plus Monika, who's there to "keep you on track for a perfect ending". Other characters are barely even referenced, and even that little is mostly about Natsuki's father.
  • Her Tears Were My Light takes place in a universe where only three people exist. And two of those people are a Literal Split Personality of one another.
  • Juniper's Knot has only two characters and no one else even appears onscreen. A third character is very vaguely described in the backstory, but not really fleshed out.
  • a letter of challenge: Besides the protagonist, her magical guardian, and her rival magical girl, no character ever appears onscreen.
  • Narcissu: The only characters of any importance are the protagonist and Setsumi. There's just one blurry shot of the protagonist in the whole game, and Setsumi only appears on-screen three times. No other characters are ever visible.
  • We Know the Devil has main characters Jupiter, Neptune, and Venus, and very minor characters Group South (technically three people, but treated as a whole) and the Bonfire Captain, the latter two appearing in only one scene each. The vast majority of the game involves only the three main characters. And arguably, there's the Devil and God.

    Web Animation 
  • Eddsworld is basically just Edd, Tom, Matt, and Tord, with the latter dropping out. Minor characters like Zanta or Edwardo made a handful of recurring appearances.
  • Although Object Shows, a niche sub-genre of web shows centered around animate inanimate objects partaking in competitions, is known for their large cast, there are some exceptions.
    • The Daily Object Show: Has a cast of six, one Game Show Host and five contestants, which later increase to eight in Season 2. All of which voiced by the same person.
    • Earthquake: This spin-off to Battle for Object Destination only had 7 characters: six contestants and one unseen but visibly heard host.
    • ONE: It actually started out with a measly 7 characters, the same situation as "Earthquake", until episode 2 added 6 more, bringing the cast to 13.

    Webcomics 
  • The Artist is Dead! has exactly six characters. Not counting the Artist.
  • The Art of Monsters only has three characters — a monster, a hermit and a sculptor.
  • There are maybe eight characters total in all 31 pages of Blue Moon Blossom — the bunny, the dino, the koala, the frog, the rabbit spirit, the fortune teller, the bunny's parent, and if we stretch the definition, maybe the village optometrist who gets the koala new glasses at the end. The fact that the main cast consists of Funny Animals and most of the panels contain some kind of animal blurs the line somewhat, but the vast, overwhelming majority of these animals are just kind of there not doing anything in particular, and are treated as nothing more than part of the scenery.
  • The Book of Biff takes this to its logical extreme. Not only is the Biff himself the only character to appear on-panel, the comic has no dialogue whatsoever, meaning that other characters are mentioned at best.
  • Boyfriends.: Excepting the Jock's mother and the titular characters's Distaff Counterpart, no character outside of the two main batches has appeared in more than one chapter.
  • Count Your Sheep. Only the five main characters appear. Even as they're talking to one of the few other characters to be mentioned, said character remains out of view. Occasionally a comic or two is from this character's point of view.
  • Dinosaur Comics, Though some characters "appear" offscreen. From time to time, we meet a head-only Batman due to the creator's interest in the character.
  • Five Kids at Freddy's, a fancomic, has very few human characters; the kids themselves, Jeremy Fitzgerald and presumably, the purple guy.
  • Fleep. Our protagonist is a man in a phone booth. The only other characters are a woman two booths over (only shown for a single panel), and a handful of voices on the other end of the phone line.
  • Furmentation rarely shows more than a few characters, some of whom have no knowledge of another's existence.
  • Garfield Minus Garfield removes every other character but Jon for an ultimately creepy and sad effect.
  • Lampshaded in this Phoebe and Her Unicorn strip.
  • Sheldon The Tiny Dinosaur has only three regular cast members, but most of the time, the titular character does things by himself.
  • Superego has only the ten characters who are trapped in an Abandoned Hospital in the middle of an abyss.
  • Tiffany and Corey features only the two title characters, Tiffany and Corey, regularly with a third supporting character, Alessandra, sometimes. Extras appear as needed but that's pretty much it.
  • Two Guys and Guy only has Frank, Wayne and Guy, plus four sporadically appearing minor characters. Anyone else is just a nameless one-shot.

    Web Videos 
  • Adventures of Sheep and Chicken: There are only three main characters, Sheep, Chicken, and the hiker. The only other characters are relatively minor.
  • Ben McYellow has a grand total of six named characters (eight if you add the ones from the first video, nine if you count the Skeleton King) along with the hordes of Faceless Goons for the title character to dispatch. This is probably to be expected when you only have four actors.
  • Carmilla the Series Season 1 has the five main characters, four secondary characters, and two minor roles adding up to less than a dozen people appearing on screen. Season 2 increases the main cast and minor characters past the point where it fits this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Any old theatrical cartoon series, despite having dozens of available characters in their recurring cast, will mostly have just one or two main characters and at least one antagonist in any individual cartoon. The Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons are a good example of this: no character other than Wile E. and the Road Runner appearnote . Sometimes the series character will be the only one on screen, such as many of the early Pink Panther shorts, or the Goofy "How-To" cartoons, where even the ones with team sports will have Goofy as every player.
  • Animaniacs as a whole had a very large cast, but several of the internal casts were Minimalist: Rita and Runt shorts never involved any other characters. Neither did Pinky and The Brain. Mr Skullhead appeared, always alone, in vignettes.
  • The Backyardigans: We only see the five young Funny Animal friends. Many episodes feature only four of them, and some just feature three.
  • Betty Boop: Betty Boop is the central character. Occasionally Koko The Clown and Bimbo appear.
  • Bojack Horseman: "Free Churro" is a bottle episode of Bojack giving an eulogy at a funeral. The whole episode is spent showing Bojack giving the eulogy in the church and he is the only character with a speaking role for the most part of the episode. In fact, Will Arnett is the only voice actor in the episode, as the other character to speak is Bojack’s father, Butterscotch in the prologue who is also voiced by him. Notably, the prologue was Butterscotch picking up the young Bojack (not voiced by Will Arnett, so he silently entered the car) and Butterscotch absentmindedly verbally abusing both Bojack and his wife (the woman Bojack would then spend the majority of the episode eulogizing)
  • The Bremen Avenue Experience is a series of shorts about a Funny Animal Garage Band. Most of the shorts feature only the four bandmates; the only guest star is the father of one of the band members.
  • Due to its strong tendency towards one-shot characters and Monster of the Week, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers falls into this. The actual main characters are limited to the five Rangers. The only good characters who get more than two episodes are Officers Kirby and Muldoon who usually only appear on the crime scene after the Rangers have solved the case just to pick up the baddies and Sergeant Spinelli who is only ever seen at the precinct. And then there's Canina LaFur who gets a whopping two episodes. On the villains' side, there are Professor Norton Nimnul as well as Fat Cat and his three or four henchmen who get more than two episodes plus Rat Capone and his two cronies who get two. Last but not least, there is Stan Blather. Otherwise, the show has countless one-shots, some of whom became Ensemble Darkhorses.
  • Dino Babies, similarly, only has four main babies, with Zach being the "guest star" who adds a bit of diversity now and then. The babies' parents (or at least their legs) make occasional cameos.
  • The Donkey Kong Country animated series takes place on an island which basically houses eight monkeys (DK, Diddy, Cranky, Candy, Funky, Bluster, Dixie, and Eddie the Mean Old Yeti) and three crocodiles (K. Rool, Krusha, and Klump)note . Once in a while, a ship with three pirates shows up. It's also mentioned there are offscreen residents, such as Bluster's mom, but it's unclear if they live on the island or somewhere off-island.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy. Throughout the show's five seasons, the cast of characters never expanded beyond twelve people and Plank. No background characters or adults ever appeared, and even when a school was added to the setting in later seasons, no additional kids appeared, and all 12 kids tended to be in the same classes despite their differing ages. There were a number of slight exceptions, such as the silhouette of Santa Claus in the Christmas special, Ed's invisible Not-So-Imaginary Friend, the body parts of adults appearing in a few episodes, and very vague Faceless Masses, but the rule was only broken in earnest during the Grand Finale movie, where we actually get to meet Eddy's much-vaunted older brother.
  • Family Guy had the episode "Brian and Stewie". Three guesses to who were the only characters shown. Brian and Stewie.
  • The original Fireman Sam had a cast of ten main characters. One wonders how they make a living in Pontypandy.
  • In Jelly Jamm, there appear to be only seven people ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.
  • Almost every short on KaBlam!
  • Kaeloo has only sevennote  characters. While it could be argued that the seemingly sentient plants and the random sheep that pops up every now and then might count, they're still little more than props in terms of how they're used.
  • Little Einsteins: The four kids named Leo, Quincy, June and Annie, along with their Rocket. They're the only humans to be seen in this TV show.
    • In the extremely rare event that somebody apart from these characters is shown, they'll always be off-screen.
  • Possibly the biggest example in Looney Tunes was "Good Night Elmer", which was Elmer Fudd alone. And he had no dialogue, the cartoon being pretty much a mime act.
  • The Loud House:
    • "Lynner Takes All" features only all 11 Loud siblings.
    • "Snow Way Out" just has Lincoln, Clyde and his fathers.
  • Mike, Lu & Og has a grand total of eight human characters living on the island, plus a few animals. The cast was slightly expanded in the second season with the coming of the Cuzzlewitz clan, and a number of one-shot characters have visited the island (including a cruise ship full of people).
  • Muppet Babies. Even in their imaginations, there are rarely any additional characters.
  • In Peppa Pig the first episodes only featured Peppa and her family. Later episodes added more characters.
  • PJ Masks Season 1 and half of Season 2 have a main cast of only six characters; three heroes (Conner/Catboy, Amaya/Owlette and Greg/Gekko) and three villains (Romeo, Night Ninja and Luna Girl), and in the case of the villains, only one or two appear per episode. The rest of the cast consists on unnamed kids (only during the daytime, so they play no important role) and the Ninjalinos (Night Ninja's Mooks). From the second half of Season 2 onwards, the cast was gradually expended with Armadylan, PJ Robot, the Wolfy kids, An Yu, Newton Star, Mothsuki, and Munki-Gu.
  • The entire first series of Postman Pat was "voiced" by Ken Barrie alone. The second series added Carole Boyd to do the women and children, before the third series finally got a full voice cast.
  • Ready Jet Go! has a medium-sized cast, but one episode, "Treasure Map", has Sean, Sydney, and Mindy deleted from the cast, leaving Jet and Mitchell as the only characters in the episode (besides their pets, Sunspot and Cody).
  • In the second season of the Redwall cartoon (based on the novel Mattimeo), the show migrates towards this. Slagar the Cruel captures most of the Abbey's young ones and adds them to his band of slaves, but midway through the season, he inexplicably only has the main characters in chains. Nowhere along the line does he sell any slaves; they're just gone.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • "Down With The Sickness" only has the Turtles and Splinter.
    • "Mind Meld" is centered entirely on the Turtles, with the only "extras" being non-sapient security drones.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Ralph Bighead's in-universe show Wacky Delly features only three characters: Betty Baloney, Sal Ami and Mr. Cheese.
  • The typical Ruby Gloom episode only features characters seen in the intro. Exceptions tend to become recurring characters in their own right or are related to Misery.
  • Samurai Jack has multiple episodes where Jack is almost alone throughout its entirety, such as "Jack and the Monks".
  • Sid the Science Kid has the title character, Sid, his parents, little brother and grandma, his three friends and Teacher Susie and that's it, except for The Movie.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Tea At The Treedome", only SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy appear in the episode.
    • In "Jellyfish Jam", the only main characters present are SpongeBob, Squidward, and Gary.
    • In "Naughty Nautical Neighbors", SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward are the only characters present.
    • In "Gary Takes a Bath", SpongeBob and Gary are the only main characters shown (not counting a brief, non-speaking cameo from Mr. Krabs).
    • In "The Secret Box", SpongeBob, Patrick and Gary are the only characters to appear (not counting Squidward's brief sentient house).
    • In "Reef Blower", SpongeBob and Squidward are the only characters present. There isn’t any dialogue, either, aside from SpongeBob shouting "You!", but that was subtitled.
    • "Rise and Shine" is centered almost entirely around Patrick; SpongeBob and Gary are the only other characters present; and only appear at the very beginning (and in SpongeBob’s case, the end).
  • The 2009 reboot of Strawberry Shortcake.
  • TaleSpin has a similarly small recurring cast as Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Baloo, Kit, Rebecca, Molly, Wildcat, and Louie. So much for the good guys. Shere Khan is in between. The recurring baddies are limited to two or three Thembrians plus Don Karnage and a handful of Mooks. Needless to say that a number of one-shot Ensemble Darkhorses grew out of this show.
  • Tom and Jerry: Tom and Jerry are the only two main characters in most shorts. Occasionally Mommy Two-Shoes, Spike and Tyke, Butch the black alley cat and Tuffy the mouse appear, too.
  • Plenty of real-life animals are explored on Wild Animal Baby Explorers, but the only actual characters seen are Skip the rabbit, Sammy the skunk, Benita the beaver, Izzy the owl, and their mentor, Miss Sally, the salamander. That's it.
  • In Zeke's Pad, several episodes (notably "Clean Slate" and "Drawn Together") will only feature Zeke, his family, Jay, and occasionally Maxine.
    • Production-wise, there are only five voice actors (not counting guest stars). Reminder; there are six main charactersnote .
  • Zig & Sharko has a grand total of four characters.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Omega Cast

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The Correspondents

Ignoring the fact that its just the two of them, their music videos usually features a maximum of two people at a time, set in a White Void Room (occasionally changed to black or grey)and minimal props, the special effects pushing it into the realm of absurdist theatrics.<br><br>The song example is "Fear & Delight".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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Main / MinimalistCast

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