"This confirmed what I had thought before but had never been able to confirm definitively: Shizune and Misha are the student council. The whole student council."—Hisao, Katawa Shoujo
School clubs play a big part in the life of any student, and one of the first things a student will do upon arriving at a new school is to check out which club they want to join. So when the new student who will be our protagonist visits the club that will be the focus of the series to inquire about joining, he'll be hoping for a warm welcome into a well-established and thriving group to discuss and share a common interest with. But our hero(ine) gets more than he (or she) bargained for. While the clubroom is strangely empty, the welcome he gets is a warm one, sure enough. In fact, it's suspiciously warm, and perhaps even forceful.
The reason for this soon becomes clear. The club was just about to be disbanded when our hero appeared. The most common reason the club finds itself on the chopping block is because of low membership, and even if it's not the only reason, lack of interest will still be at least a contributing factor. The remaining membership is thus very eager to recruit new people. It goes without saying that the protagonist will be the prime target. This hapless first-year student will find himself with the club's very existence on his shoulders, and the first challenge our hero will face is to help the club gather the required minimum number of members and re-establish the necessary infrastructure to stop the school's authorities from giving the club the axe.
Starting a series centered around a school club with this plot has a few functional advantages. Since most members will be just as new to the club as our hero, plenty of As You Know exposition gets justified. It is also a good way to explain why new characters line up in a Debut Queue rather than being introduced all at the same time, and why the club ends up as a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
Keep in mind that not all clubs with low membership will be in danger of being dissolved. They might exist outside of a school setting and are not beholden to any school authorities. It might even have been started by an antagonist specifically to exclude the hero or another positive, optimistic character. Such a club will stay comically small, however, since so few people find the victim unlikable.
Related to Oddly Small Organization.
- Save Our Students, where it's a teacher trying restore a class' enthusiasm for non-extra-curricular activities.
- Save Our Team, which can overlap with this trope for high-school sports teams.
- Back From the Brink, where instead of a club in danger, a war is about to be lost.
- Putting the Band Back Together, where a group's former members must be convinced to rejoin.
Note that this is Truth in Television. Japanese University clubs contains a long line of clubs that carry maybe two or three members each.
- In Ah! My Goddess, the Nekomi Institute of Technology Motor Club consists of Tamiya and Otaki, until Keiichi shows up. These two skirt the edges of the Heterosexual Life Partners trope, until one of them starts going after the daughter of the university president.
- In Ai Yori Aoshi, the Meiritsu University's photography club is Suzuki and Sato, until Kaoru gets shanghaied just prior to the start of the show.
- In Hikaru no Go, Tsutsui tries to create a go club at Haze Middle School. He's the only member until Hikaru shows up and manages to convince Mitani and all the gang to sign up.
- In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the literature club has only one member, Yuki, who gets absorbed into Haruhi's SOS Brigade, which itself was composed of two members. Haruhi quickly recruits two more people to make the core of the show. On the other hand, the SOS Brigade is never officially recognized. But the literature club is later threatened with disbandment since it's still only Yuki.
- The Student Council in Medaka Box starts off with just two members, although more have been added over time.
- In Rosario + Vampire, there is a club of three pathetic guys who are basically stalkers. The newspaper club is nearly depleted of members when Moka and Tsukune join.
- In Nightwalker, the film club appears to consist of just Shunichi, Riho, and Mikako.
- The club in K-On! starts out with NO members, since all the previous members graduated. Ritsu joins to be president of a club, so she drags in Mio, Mugi wanders by after a day, and Yui manages to show up at the end the first episode, fulfilling the membership quota to save the club.
- Clannad has Nagisa trying to restart the Drama Club by herself until Tomoya joins up. From there everyone Tomoya comes in contact with joins pretty readily.
- In Eyeshield 21, the football team at the start of the story consists of only two players- they're able to play games only because Hiruma blackmails random students into joining the team when necessary. One of the central parts of the story is Hiruma discovering Sena's exceptional talent as a running back, forcing him to join the team permanently, and then exploiting his reputation in such a way that he can find other worthy permanent players. Even then, it takes a long, long time for them to finally assemble a permanent full team.
- This is one of the reasons the series is so fond of Who Needs Overtime; since they have just enough guys to field a team, virtually all of their full-timers play on offense, defense, and special teams - meaning that the team would simply be too exhausted to play competently should a game get to overtime.
- Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has the Gardening Club, the only members of which are Kenichi, and a girl from his class.
- The Astronomy Club in Sora no Manimani was nearly disbanded before Saku joined, but with Hime eventually joining and Edogawa hanging around enough that he may as well be a member, it was saved. Mihoshi pretty much forced Saku into it, though.
- In the anime version of Keroro Gunsou, Fuyuki's occult club has only two members, and that's after Momoka joins.
- Go! Tenba Cheerleaders begins with the Rooting Club having a single member (the protagonist) - due to the club's other members graduating last year.
- Bamboo Blade: Kirino Chiba, as the only active and participating member, was Kendo Team Captain by default. Aside from her, the only members were Toyama and Iwasa, who only showed up to bully the newbies and girls, and Saya, who had recently stormed out of the dojo in a huff ... again ... and had yet to return. Everyone else had either graduated, were about to graduate and were too busy studying for final exams, or were driven off by Toyama and Iwasa's bullying.
- Nichijou has the infamous Go-Soccer club, with just two members that are stuck doing nothing since the club 'president' made up the Word Salad Title for the club. Amazingly, this draws actual Go-Soccer practitioners down the line.
- The Fashion Club in Heartcatch Precure only had one member when the series started - founder Erika. She nearly manhandles New Transfer Student Tsubomi into joining, but calms down enough so that Tsubomi joins on her own and later convinces others to join by giving them discounts to her mother's clothing store Fairy Drop. By episode 7, Erika nearly loses the club because Student Council President Itsuki left school early and Erika and Tsubomi couldn't give her the list of club members. They're able to chase her down and save the club, though.
- In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, this is what happened to the Art Club. Due to a mishap when the Cloudcuckoolander president promoted the club the previous year, the club now only has three members. Downplayed in that while the club was eventually saved by merging with Campus Environment Club, the other club only have one member—that other club can't be disbanded because it provided volunteers to clean the school campus, and Sasamoto-sensei Exploited this to use it as a "shell" to acquire other clubs so that she can have a smoking room.
- The titular club in Genshiken has a few members at the start, but arguably qualifies for this trope by dint of their sheer laziness (as the story makes clear later).
- The Biking Club in Bakuon!! appears to have only one member as of the start of the series, Raimu. In reality, it doesn't even that many -- the club was actually disbanded twenty years before, and Raimu's just been hanging out in the unused club room since then.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian features a terrorist group that has split into several very small and confusingly similarly named groups.
Whatever happened to the Popular Front?
He's over there.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy & Giles were a club of two until they were joined by Xander and Willow. FWIW Xander and Willow were a club of three with Xander's best friend Jesse, who was killed off in the pilot.
- Also played for laughs in Buffy: Xander and Willow were president and treasurer of the "We Hate Cordelia Club" in junior high. They were also it's only members (not even Jessee was in it).
- The "I Hate Rachel Greene Club" from Friends consisted solely of Brad Pitt and Ross.
- The pilot of Glee begins with the titular club being a Club of Two before the adult hero steps in to get it turned around.
- In The OC, Seth Cohen is the president and only member of not one but a whole lot of these clubs. Also, later on he and Zach are the only members of the comic book club.
- There was an episode of Flight of the Conchords where Jemaine and Brett were mugged by a two-man gang.
- Also, the Conchords' fan club has one (obsessed) member.
- The "End Hunger Now" club (at first with just one member) in A.N.T. Farm was founded by Cameron so that he could get school funds to spend on chicken wings for himself. Fletcher blackmails him into letting him join the club by threatening to reveal the scam. Later, Principal Skidmore comes into the room, guesses immediately what is going on, and decides to join as well. At the end of the episode Olive asks about joining, but is chased off by the other three.
- The Get Rid Of Slimy girlS (GROSS) club in Calvin and Hobbes, which involves only the titular characters. So one of its two members may or may not be imaginary. In the commentary for the 10th anniversary book, Bill Waterson notes that he and a childhood friend used to form these in real life all the time.
- Gekkoukan High's Home Economics (read: sewing) club appears to be made up of only the Player Character and Bebe. Likewise, the Cooking Club is made up of only Player Character and Fuuka.
- In the "Real Life, Real Heart" stage of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, the protagonist Yuri discovers that the famous choir club at her new high school has dwindled down to only the president, Kaoruko, who promptly begs her to help get new members and help them win a singing contest before the club gets shut down.
- Mana Khemia: It's difficult to notice, since he gains two members at once, but the only one aside from Flay is a lone beastgirl. Unless you want to count a certain ghost, Pamela... His club is about to be disbanded before they show up.
- Maribel and Renko, characters appearing in Touhou supplementary works, are the only members of a university club for necromancers. And neither of them is a necromancer.
- Escape From St Marys sends you recruiting for the beleaguered website team as a side quest. It does not go well.
- In Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, protagonist Miley and her roommate Harriet (who joined "unofficially") are the only two members of the eponymous club. Miley's goal is to find at least three more members before the end of April to make the club official.
- In the X-Change H-Games, the chemistry club only ever consists of two or three people depending on the game.
- In Katawa Shoujo, during Shizune's route Hisao discovers that "Shizune and Misha are the student council. The whole student council."
- In Emi's route, Mutou starts a science club with himself and Hisao as the only participants.
- In Crescendo, the literature club has only 3 active members (technically, the school requires a minimum of 5 members for a club to be officially recognized, so the club also contains two additional "members" who have not, strictly speaking, actually attended so much as a single club meeting.
- In Ever 17, You (nickname, not pronoun) and Sara met due to You's pushiness to get members into her disbanding "computer club." An annoyed Sara hacks all the computers at once, making them all unusable.
- In Tsukihime, Ciel is the president and sole member of the Tea Ceremony Club.
- In the Arthur episode, "My Club Rules" six start out in the Parade Float Club, but due to Wacky Hijinks everyone ends up in a club of one. They reband at the end showing the Power of Friendship.
- Another Arthur episode: "Do You Speak Geroge?" Muffy & Francine make up their own language, Buster & Arthur make up their own language, etc. Finally they decide it's too confusing and all go back to English (or whatever the show is dubbed into in international markets).
- In Camp Lazlo, Edward forms an anti-Lazlo club, and tells Lazlo that he belongs in "the Nothing Club". So Lazlo goes and forms the Nothing Club, and little by little all the others start joining him, while Edward's club dwindles down to just himself, since he's the only one who actually hates Lazlo.
- The titular club from The Anime Club segments of Gun Show consists of only four members. Justified in that they're actually a splinter group from the school's much larger Japanese Animation Club and aren't actually an officially recognized by the school.
- In a Made for TV Movie about the origin of the Guardian Angels I saw many many years ago they started as a club of two, who were joined by a couple of other people who had a club of two of their own doing basically the same thing. The "other club" which wanted to join with the proto-Guardians called themselves the "Magnificent 13" to make people think there were more people in the group than there were. (Details may be hazy, like I said it's been many many years.)
- Often school clubs based on once popular activities and fads will fade out as older members graduate and incoming freshmen don't want to join. So even though in the past the club might have had dozens of members it is now just a Club Stub populated by a couple die-hards