Loads and Loads of Characters

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So many characters, it was once mistaken for the Japanese Language.

A show that has so many regulars that you can't fit them all into one episode. Therefore, one week some characters will appear, while some different characters will appear in another. You'll rarely get the same combination twice. This is especially common in Long Runners, as characters tend to accumulate over time. Shows with this many characters tend towards one-dimensional characterization for many of them (but not always, if the writers will put in the effort), and often make Filler easy to create.

Similarly, some video games involve collecting as many distinct, unique soldiers for your army as possible. Other video games, such as fighting games, start with just a few characters but keep adding characters to the roster as more sequels come out, until you eventually have enough characters to populate an entire Verse.

Creating a Cast of Snowflakes with these loads is an achievement and will make the story lively and colorful. If the writers are smart, they'll start making a Cast Herd. The Love Dodecahedron is a way to spice things up, the Geodesic Cast makes use of the characters through variations on a theme, and The Clan happens when the loads are related. A Character-Magnetic Team can sometimes create this effect. Gets really convoluted if everyone is somehow related.

Please note that this is for extreme examples of regularly occurring characters. It's really not uncommon for a story to have twelve or fifteen characters. Especially with a Villain of the Week format of course there can be upwards of forty characters with names, and there are often many characters who can reappear a few seasons later.

See also Crowded Cast Shot. May result in/from You ALL Share My Story. Can contribute to Continuity Lock Out in Long Runners. Compare Revolving Door Casting. The inversion of this trope is Minimalist Cast.

Examples of Loads and Loads of Characters include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Air Gear. There is a terrifying amount of people in this manga, and good luck remembering them all. A Presidential candidate now actual President becomes an important character eventually.
  • Bleach, once it got into its "Soul Society" arc, suddenly introduced about 30 new characters, with a dozen or so more being added with each subsequent arc. Even some of the weapons are characters. Apparently, Word of God is that creation of characters en masse is the author's method of dealing with writer's block. As of now, the total of characters that have appeared in Bleach is over 250. Seriously.
    • One of the gag preview sequences lampshaded this, with Ichigo complaining that some characters would need to be killed off soon because there were too many.
  • Across the series of over fifty light novels, five anime seasons, and a buttload of manga and games, the Slayers franchise has its fair share of characters...
  • Ranma ½ had a core cast of around 15 to 20 characters, with several dozen more who popped up from time to time.
    • Who are we kidding? Every single manga series Rumiko Takahashi creates has this trope.
  • After the Chunin Exam arc begins, the central cast of Naruto expands to nearly two dozen. Several were later developed within the filler episodes. According to this list it's reached over six hundred (though many of these only having one appearance).
  • By the final season of Sailor Moon, the main cast became so big (including three distinct groups, the Inner Senshi, Outer Senshi, and Starlights, along with two characters Put on a Bus) the cast almost never appeared all together in the same episode. This was lampshaded in a late episode where a Monster of the Week is fought in Usagi's house, but they and the monster spend most of the time jostling for elbow room. The dub has a similar joke, when Eudial's minion becomes indignant after being told to hold them off, angrily complaining there are over a dozen of them.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima and its Alternate Continuity Negima Second Season, the cast starts with 31 girls, the teacher, and about a half-dozen supporting characters. It builds from there. And, in the manga, builds, and builds, and builds... It's well past 30 volumes, and it's been introducing at least five characters per volume or so since the fourth one, many of which will pop up again several volumes later.[1] You can categorize the Cast Herds into herds of herds, due to there being so many of them. The character page even managed to break the folder system twice and had to be reorganised into half a dozen separate pages.
  • By the time Beyblade ended, it had about 30-some characters who frequently appeared. And that's not counting the ones who disappeared without explanation.
  • In the manhwa Faeries Landing, there's Fanta and the other faeries, then the gods and creatures in the faerie realm, then Ryang, his family, friends, classmates, and other human extras, and the 108 pairs of affinities. And all the characters from the past and the present...
  • Fruits Basket - as well as Tohru and the fourteen Zodiac members, there are friends and family for nearly every character. The manga goes overboard with this; even minor characters are named and - naturally - have their own tragic back-stories, to the point where over half the cast don't appear in any given volume, and even Tohru is often put in the background.
    • The author even mentions in one of her notes that she had come up with a lot more backstory and details about her characters that she just wasn't able to fit in. She also tends to joke about having to shift which characters are jostled to the background by having extra drawings of them complaining about a lack of page time.
  • By the middle of its third season, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha boasts 20+ powered characters, and just as many Bridge Bunnies, admirals, technicians, civilians, etc - all named characters that the viewer is somehow supposed to remember exist (they even resorted to numbering the villain's minions to keep track!), and the manga spinoffs have continued to add more. Some characters decline in importance, but they're always available to bring back at any time.
  • In One Piece, especially during the attack on Enies Lobby, there are a very large number of side characters unique to each story arc that play significant roles within, and there are several characters who appear very little yet are supposed to be important and are expected to be remembered, such as Shanks and members of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
    • Although the only characters who consistently appear in every story arc are the members of Luffy's crew, the show's monumentally huge supporting cast can sometimes play tricks on you. In most cases, a character will be important to the current storyline and then never show up again after the Straw Hats leave his/her native island (though they might get the occasional random cameo.) But every now and then, one of them will make an unexpected reappearance and suddenly become part of the plot again.
    • It's got to the point that the fan wiki has taken to just putting up a gallery of important, visually interesting characters with a series of question marks where their name should be.
    • On top of all of that, it's a Cast of Snowflakes.
  • Girls Bravo has a pretty big cast in the end, three of them being male, and nine of them being female. Even Yukinari points out how there are way too many girls around.
    • Naturally, most of them fall in love with him, while he is still allergic to women.
  • School Rumble, as any good Love Dodecahedron would do, has enough characters to fill 48 pages worth of Wikipedia entries.
  • Like almost everything about itself, Excel Saga lampshades it quite a lot. In nearly every episode that doesn't feature Iwata, Watanabe and Sumiyoshi (due to its focus on other characters), they are shown just before the end credits watching TV and complaining about that. Eventually, they theorize that there may simply be no room for them.
  • Eyeshield 21 fits the bill, but it's somewhat Justified Trope since the show is about football. The primary cast begins with the Devil Bats team and their peripheral characters (coach, manager, mascot), and then expands exponentially with the introduction of the other teams, each with at least two important characters to their name. However, most new characters get several chapters of their own for their characterization and they are all extremely unique, thus, they are memorable throughout the series.
  • The episodic style of Inu Yasha, combined with the many recurring and throw-away characters in the story (both human and otherwise) and the very long length of the story itself, makes for an enormous cast of characters ranging in the 50s.
  • Dragon Ball and its sequels have so many characters (and ran for so long) that its creator can't even remember all their names. Characters have an alarming tendency to drop off the face of the earth. Somewhat infamous is Lunch, who was mentioned to have gone chasing after Tenshinhan (or seen getting drunk in a bar after he died, in the anime) and was never seen nor heard from again (except for a few seconds of Filler, donating energy in the anime's final battle, about 300 episodes later...).
    • This trope is especially obvious in the video games; while the classic 16-bit fighting games usually had rosters of 6-12 characters, 2007's Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 ballooned to a whopping 80 unique fighters (20 of which are unique to the anime and anime movies), larger than any other fighting game roster (and there were still characters that they left out). Subsequent games have actually cut back on the number of fighters.
  • Mai-HiME has a core cast of twelve Magical Girls, as well as a bunch of other named characters associated with the school, including staff members. About 25 cast members are introduced within the first four episodes... and there are still 22 more to go after that.
    • Many of those characters (or, versions of those characters with different last names) make the transition to Mai-Otome, which itself has a handful of new names and faces to memorize.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam and derivatives just love enormous casts. Probably because "Anyone Can Die" is the modus operandi in these shows...
    • As with the case of having too many characters, most of these would be lucky to be called Mauve Shirts. Most of them are just Red Shirts with names, to be honest.
  • Shaman King. It has about 50 (or more) characters that appear constantly in manga, almost every one of them receiving a fair share of attention; quite impressive, except when you see that almost half of these characters are spirits that are used by the shamans themselves.
  • Gantz introduces new characters with every 'round' of Gantz, which is perfectly necessary, as Anyone Can Die, and oh boy, do they ever...
  • Mariasama ga Miteru has a count of about thirty recurring characters that have all kinds of complicated relationships, either as soeurs, friends or rivals for one another's affection. The writer of the series also has the tendency to give full background stories to minor characters, which starts to get really noticeable as she apparently wants to postpone the obviously traumatic graduation of some of the leads.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes, whose cast list is often compared to a phone directory. True, it's a record holder for a longest OVA in history, but in four seasons of its main storyline and countless spinoffs it managed to assemble up to 660 named characters, many of them regulars, and about hundred MAIN ones. It reaches the point where the characters names are placed on the screen for the viewers benefit. The picture above only covers a tiny fraction of the cast.
  • The amount of named characters in Soreike Anpanman is nearing 2000 and was nominated in the Guinness World Records of having the most characters in an animated franchise. The core cast consists of about 20 characters.
  • Code Geass has sixty or seventy named characters, about half of whom are required for even a rudimentary level of comprehension of the plot.
    • As of this writing (episode 39 out of 50 for the whole series), the official website has entries for 55 characters; bear in mind this doesn't include characters who were in the first season and died, and that a few of those are group entries.
    • The first season had about 30 characters, but only 7 or so were important at any given time. R2 jumps off the deep end into characters.
  • The manga and Brotherhood anime of Fullmetal Alchemist is starting to verge on this. What with Ed and Al in separate places, the various allies they've picked up, and the remaining homunculi wandering around, you need a map and pushpins to keep track of them all.
    • And that's not even counting the allies of their allies, or the ones their enemies have. Or the ones who are already playing important side roles and haven't even been named yet. Given that this IS an anime with its military central to the plot and having many recurring characters that are high-ranking officials with their own underlings, this isn't too surprising.
    • The fourth opening of Brotherhood lampshades this, with one scene first showing just Ed and Al and then having more and recurring characters appear until they fill the entire screen.
    • Considering that on top of this, FMA is also a Cast of Snowflakes, this is extremely impressive.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a series divided into seven parts, with the in-story timeline spanning over a century and eventually resetting itself (long story). This results in a huge cast, as at most one or two characters will appear in more than one part. All and all, this results in 179 characters so far.
  • Detective Conan, the Long Runners as it is, has a lot of regulars. The Japanese anime website listed 47 characters in the character list.
    • In the movies, the writers try to cram in all the recurring characters. It's only natural that Conan, Ran and Kogoro spend time together, but having them go on vacation with Agasa and the four Detective Boys is really kind of weird. A lot of the time, Sonoko and Heiji will tag along, and you can be sure Eri gets shoehorned in somehow. And this doesn't even cover the recurring law enforcement officials. A lot of characters are only there for one case. . Three new characters per case on average. Three cases per book on average. 71 books so far. Three times three times seventy-one. Yeah, that's right. Mr. Aoyama has had to come up with a whopping 613 new characters! Or to put it differently, after creating 400 new characters he had to invent over 200 more!
    • That is not only it. Over 800 chapters. Around 5 characters for each chapter. You have yourself over 3000+ characters who never get mentioned again and that is without counting the police dept., the forensics guy, the main cast, the detective boys, the Black organization, and a crapload of other recurring characters.
  • Koihime Musou inherited most of the cast from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. This finally comes to its conclusion in Otome Tairan, which does nothing in its title sequences but getting all the characters in.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia is a series consisting of people that represent countries. It goes without saying that there are a lot of characters.
    • Over fifty nations, micronations, provinces, and supernational coalitions given canon face now, with any of the aforementioned that exists now or has ever existed as a candidate for characterization. Not to mention important historical figures like Jeanne D'Arc, Maria Theresa, Friedrich II, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
    • And cats, and mochis who DO appear in actual plot lines sometimes. And female. And Parallel world. And God knows what else.
  • Angel Sanctuary. Not-fans are complaining Kaori'd just come up with new characters when she doesn't know what to write... with about 30 REALLY important characters and at least the same amount of minors that'd mean she sucks as an author.
  • Oh, Baccano!, where do we even start with you? How about the fact that the OP alone names seventeen main characters. Or maybe that it doesn't even cover all of the prominent players in the series. Or maybe we should point out that the light novels introduce even more characters on a regular basis...
    • Lampshaded by Carol at the beginning of the anime, when she is trying to figure out who the main character is.
    • Its "sequel" Durarara!! also has a sizable recurring cast, all of whom are integral to the story.
  • The Prince of Tennis features one school's tennis team as the main characters. Each team they play has somewhere between seven to nine members, several of whom will show up at random times despite not being the opponent of the week; some teams show up in their entirety multiple times. Throw in the coaches, family members, friends, and random extras, and you have a character list spanning over 100 characters, a good 40-50 of whom show up often enough to be considered to be of some importance. Fortunately, they all have their school tennis uniforms.
  • This trope is especially evident in 20th Century Boys where the story is still introducing new characters with backstories well into the manga's conclusion. Even the first volume is overloaded with characters.
  • While Pokémon is comparatively manageable, repeatedly rotating humans and Pokémon alike from the recurring roster, as of Best Wishes! there's over 100 human characters alone, and apart from the Orange Islands each new area introduces to the heroes' teams (and writes out or puts on buses) a lot of new Pokémon (theoretically up to 18 at a time for Ash and his friends and 12 for Team Rocket, though Jessie and James generally only have two each, plus Meowth). Factor in the one-shot characters (usually multiple per episode), and you're easily reaching thousands.
    • Pokémon Special certainly has its fair share of characters. Never mind the fact that there are three or four Pokédex Holders with each generation (a total of 17 so far), but there's also their Pokémon, most of the eight Gym Leaders of every generation is a recurring character, then when you factor in each professor, the Elite Four, both Battle Frontiers' Frontier Brains, the separate villains and their important members, and the recurring side characters, you've got quite the extensive character sheet.
  • Giant Robo has a huge number of characters despite being only 7 episodes long. Which isn't much of a surprise, given that most of the cast were taken from Misuteru Yokoyama's manga adaptations of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Water Margin, both of which are on this page.
  • Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-hen has a cast of 35 characters and all of them bar a few were introduced in the first episode, in a series of Big Damn Heroes moments. It's no wonder it left some people confused, at least, before they started explaining things.
  • Hunter X Hunter to a certain extent. Though the story is almost always focused on the exploits of its main character, Gon, and/or the three friends who make up the rest of his Nakama team, they somehow manage to share storyarc time with almost every member of the Phantom Troupe, Killua's family, powerful Chimera Ants, a number of the more successful Hunter Examinees and a handful of random people they just happen to meet along the way. When they all start meeting each other, it turns into an insanely complicated web that makes you wonder where it's all going...
    • This example is comparable to the One Piece example above, except for the "random forgotten character becomes important three thousand chapters later". There's four "main" characters (one of whom we haven't seen in ages). Gon has been in every arc thus far and Killua comes close, but even the other two main characters get pushed aside in some arcs. The plot goes all over the place and one has to one it's going anywhere at all. At least it's awesome.
  • Houshin Engi, being an adaptation of Fenshen Yanyi, has a huge cast of regulars. The Gotta Catch Em All Houshin List alone is 365 names long.
  • Dairugger XV and its Americanization, the Vehicle Voltron, was often said to have too many characters to get into. You had the fifteen pilots, the on-ship command staff, the support staff, the top brass back on Earth, occasional non-aligned characters, the odd recurring civilians, the peace-seeking enemies, the blood-thirsty enemies, and characters reffed only in flashback, sometimes more than once. If you add the Americanization's policy, sometimes understandable, sometimes infuriating, to not really verbally kill off characters who died in the original, then the cast never really diminishes. If you use only the Voltron universe, then you must add in the Vehicle Team's classmates/friends/relatives, the Lion Force, their allies, enemies and such, as well. In retrospect, it makes one almost glad the third, 'Middle Universe' Voltron series never got made.
  • You could say D Gray Man has a lot of characters, being there's all the Exorcists, the Science Department, the Noah family...
  • Wouldn't you know, but with 13 different episodes, Boogiepop Phantom manages to have at least 13 major characters (probably closer to 20). Which doesn't help make the mind screw and non-linear storytelling any clearer.
  • What happens when you introduce about 20 characters per arc over an ongoing series that already has 350 chapters? You get about 200 named characters, most of whom still have some relation to the plot. Welcome to Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn has rather a bad case of this, the sides are generally sorted into sets of seven and each arc adds at least another seven. I would say the latest arc added upwards of 20. Checking it's character page on Wikipedia suggests there are upwards of 50 characters and it doesn't list all of them.
  • Planetes: To roughly the same level as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. 7 main characters (Hachimaki, Tanabe, Fee, Yuri, Chief, Ravi, Edel), and a host of well developed and influential secondary (Clair, Hakim, Colin Clifford, Cheng Shin, Goro Hoshino, Werner Locksmith, Gigalt, Dolph) and tertiary (Harry Roland, Kyutaro Hoshino, Nono, The Ninjas, Lucy), characters.
  • Monster,which has only a handful of main characters. The others come and go, but many are not necessary to the plot.
  • Saint Seiya (also known as The Knights of the Zodiac) has as many characters as there are named stars in the sky. Initially that's 88-and that's just by the end of the second arc. Then you add in the 'dark' versions of these characters... and then everyone from the Asgard and Poseidon arcs... and then the 108 Spectres of Hades for the final arc... Oh, and we mustn't forget the filler characters from all 5 movies!
  • Simoun. Chor Tempest is supposed to have 12 pilots at a time, but a few filter in and out as the series progresses, giving maybe 13 or 14 developed characters in Chor Tempest alone. Outside of Chor Tempest, another 7 or 8 characters get extensive attention. That's at least 20 major characters.
  • Fushigi Yuugi starts out with the Suzaku Seven plus Miaka. And then the Seiryuu Seven plus Yui. And then we learn about the Genbu Seven plus Takiko, not to mention the Byakko Seven plus Suzuno. And then you've got other people from the real world and other people in the world of the book... let's just at least be thankful that they don't all appear together at once, okay?
  • There are literally upwards of 500--named—characters in Infinite Ryvius. While only a comparative handful play a major role in the story (about 40-some in all), they all get at least a few seconds of screen time over the course of the series.
  • Most Digimon series fall into this; the first episode of Digimon Adventure alone introduces 15 characters, 14 of whom are the regular main characters (the number is later upped to 16), and tack on another seven if you include the evolved forms as separate; The rest of the series features plenty of villains and supporting characters in addition to evolved forms. Most other installments see very similar figures, one of the largest being Digimon Xros Wars where, despite only having a handful of human leads (no more than six), there are at least 20 main character Digimon partners. The main casts of Digimon Adventure through to Digimon Savers add up to at least 50, and that's discounting the evolved forms; including them adds up to well over 120.
    • In terms of number of Mons, the Digimon franchise beat out Pokémon long ago; officially, there are a little over 1000. One can only guess the number when unofficial Digimon are counted in anymore. And remember, that's not the number of separate Digimon characters. That's the number of individual species.
  • Mamoru Nagano's epic The Five Star Stories has an equally epic roster of characters.
  • Violinist of Hameln. Watanabe lampshades the everlasting hell out of this too, with every single character, be they background or one-shot or drive-by, showing up for the final throwdown (and the main cast commenting on the ridiculousness factor growing). Once Poseidon shows up, it just keeps on getting sillier... and yet, somehow, still manages to keep on providing Crowning Moment of Awesome events all the while.
  • In X 1999, there is the main character, his six minions and personal psychic, the main antagonist and his six minions and psychic, about seven relatives that are directly involved, and a couple guards thrown in for good measure. Not bad for having 24 episodes. There were only slightly fewer people in The Movie, and a few more in the manga.
  • Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector, being based on the Super Robot Wars franchise, naturally has loads of characters. It largely assumes the viewer is familiar with the game, or at least watched the previous series, Divine Wars. A complete listing comes to somewhere on the order of Eighty-Three characters, somewhere around half of which would probably be classified as "important".
  • The To Aru Majutsu no Index character sheet has been divided into more than twenty different classes of characters, with some of them overlapping roles. That character sheet isn't even complete yet, what with a lot of minor characters popping up here and there.
  • Although neither of the component series of Robotech have particularly huge casts, their fusion into one universe results in a series with three main characters, around thirty regular characters (although not regular at the same time) and many other supporting characters. Take into account the various characters created for additional material like Robotech II: The Sentinels (most of which are still canonical, even if their adventures aren't) and Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles and you get, well...loads and loads of characters.
  • Fairy Tail seems to be headed this way. To begin with, the eponymous guild had dozens of members, and five new members have joined since (seven if you count the Exceed). There tend to be at least half a dozen notable antagonists per arc, as well. Factor in members of allied guilds, characters as of yet seen only in flashbacks, Lucy's Celestial Spirits, and their Parallel Universe counterparts, and this trope is clearly in play.
  • Wandering Son is headed this way. There have been various distinct characters, and numerous family members from said characters pop up.
  • Starting with the Arachnophobia arc, the cast of Soul Eater has grown rather impressively. There's a central cast of seven main protagonists, another seven minor protagonists, the Shinbunsen staff, three major villainous groups, the other Death Scythes, and quite a few additional minor characters.
  • While the normal Pretty Cure series are actually quite tame, it can get a bit crowded in the Pretty Cure All Stars movies. DX 2 has Cure Marine commenting on just where these other Precure came from while DX 3 has one of the bad guys gawking at the fact that there were 21 Precures (the 17 featured in DX 2 plus two who joined in with Heartcatch later on plus the two new characters from Suite Precure).
    • It's gotten so bad that the fourth installment of the series, New Stage only has characters from Fresh, Heartcatch, Suite and Smile with returning seiyuu! Everyone from before Fresh will show up, but have no new speaking roles!
  • While the first two seasons of Shakugan no Shana kept the cast fairly manageable, it has gradually expanded, and judging from the first Season III opening, it'll grow quite a bit more this season. The character sheet definitely Needs Wiki Magic Love.
  • The cast of Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai may not be as extremely numerous as many other examples on this page, but the very first episode of the anime introduces almost all of the most notable characters in short order. Unless you've played the Visual Novel, it's going to take a few episodes to get most of them straight.
  • One look at this should tell you how big the cast of Summer Wars is.


Board Games[edit | hide]

  • Talisman has a large number of playable characters for a board game. With all of the expansions released so far, the current edition includes: Elf, Dwarf, Priest, Warrior, Thief, Troll, Ghoul, Monk, Wizard, Sorceress, Minstrel, Druid, Assassin, Prophetess, Highlander, Valkyrie, Cleric, Rogue, Swashbuckler, Vampiress, Knight, Dread Knight, Chivalric Knight, Merchant, Alchemist, Sprite, Warlock, Sage, Philosopher, Gladiator, Magus, Gypsy, Amazon, and Necromancer.
  • Talisman has nothing on Tomb, which has 84 different recruitable characters in the original, and as many twice more in two standalone expansions.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Scott Pilgrim, definitely. The third volume even included a diagram of the 30-odd characters and their relationships to each other.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes comic has even more characters than its animated counterpart. Over the entire run, there have been more than 80 distinct members of the team. Because of frequent continuity reboots, who is actually on the team varies from time to time but the core group is generally the size of 20-30 or so members at any time.
    • They aren't called the "Legion" for nothing
    • And since the recent mini-series is called "Legion of Three Worlds", well, you do the math...
    • Hilariously spoofed in Valentino's Normalman, where the Roll Call for the "Legion of Superfluous Heroes" has to be spread out over several whole issues!
  • The current JSA roster has grown to Legion-sizes in recent years at the end of Geoff Johns' reign, as countless Legacy Character-types were drawn from the ether. The new writers eventually split them into two teams to properly write them.
  • The X-Men have so many characters that there's two separate books just for the core team, another one for the Junior Team/Reserves, and when you get into the various spin-off groups...
    • And that's not counting the various characters that have been Put on a Bus, had a bridge dropped on them, got Stuffed in The Fridge, or (most recently) got depowered, or just plain old forgotten about.
    • For a better understanding, just look at the gatefold cover of X-men #200, which features everyone who had been part of the core team, even those who only hung around for a year or so.
    • That's actually the main reason behind M-Day. The people who did it felt that there were getting to be too many super-powered people in the Marvel Universe.
    • Currently Matt Fraction is bringing up as many mutants he can to the new X-Men base, Utopia island. Not only all X-Men members, their students, New Mutants, his original creations and characters he brought back from the death or Comic Book Limbo but even Magneto and... Namor. One wonders why, as he clearly crossed the line and cannot handle so much of them (I doubt anybody would), yet brings back another ones.
  • Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog's character roster, taking from both the games, the TV series and original characters, number in the triple digits.
  • The Avengers have issued "Avengers Assemble" calls to the entire roster several times, resulting in anywhere from 30 to 100+ members showing up. After Heroes Reborn, when the team was assembled to fight Morgana, the issue after showed 30 Avengers attempting to take down one B-list villain, with disastrous results. Typically these assemblies also show one time Avengers Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, or the Fantastic Four making an excuse not to tag along. (Although Spider-Man later became a full time member)
    • This was lampshaded in one short "What If?" story, What if Everyone Who Had Ever Been an Avenger Stayed an Avenger". In the story, Avenger's Mansion was so full of superheroes that one couldn't swing a dead Skrull without knocking down a dozen or so of Marvel Comics finest.
  • Usagi Yojimbo had a big group photo of all its featured characters (good and evil, living and dead) as of vol. ~15, roughly about three-dozen characters.
  • The Western record probably goes to the DC and Marvel universes themselves, as evidenced by various Crisis Crossover events. Crisis on Infinite Earths put together every version of every major hero at once while throwing in a couple of unique characters. That's just counting the main story line, side stories eventually pulled in virtually every single character in DC history.
  • Elf Quest characters all have distinct personalities and appearances, and varying, unique, pretty outfits.
  • Disney Comics hits this trope pretty hard; just the family trees of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy alone are really big, not to mention the long number of other supporting cast members
  • Kingdom Come to the point that a guide book had to be published.
  • If villain rosters qualify, Spider-Man has a Rogues Gallery a hundred times as long as Doc Ock's arms. (Admittedly, there have been a lot of Legacy Characters). Remember that Spidey villains like to form a team called Sinister Six? When Marvel announced there's going to be a story titled "Sinister 666", many believed it will be Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • You don't need to specify just the villains—as stated on his main page, Spider-Man has aggregated such a huge supporting cast over the past almost-50 years that every named character in The Spectacular Spider-Man is a supporting cast member or adversary from some point or another. And it's just scraping the surface.
  • Gotham Central has between eight and who knows how many major, recurring, or named minor characters in each issue. And that's not counting the villains who pop up from time to time. This happens because it follows two shifts of the Major Case Unit at the Gotham Police Department, and each shift has eight detectives and a shift commander.
  • Antarctic Press series Gold Digger and Ninja High School indeed have an incredible amount of characters from mainstays to one shots, mostly due to the fact that the creators love using Expy to create new characters.
  • DC Comics' World War II-based All-Star Squadron consisted of pretty much every DC and Quality Comics (a publisher eventually acquired by DC) hero from the 1940s, plus all newer DC characters established as having been active at the time. The ASS had upwards of 75 members (though a good number of them only appeared in cameos or at occasional full-roster meetings.)
  • Over the 50 year history of the Justice League of America, there have been 116 full-time members and entire slate of part-timers, reservists, associates, and buddies who just occasionally show up to help.
  • Even excluding one-shots and background cameos, the lack of a single main character/team (along with the Cryptic Background References and Continuity Nods) causes Astro City to have several dozen characters with regular appearances scattered throughout the series' run. This is especially true in extended story arcs like "Tarnished Angel" and "The Dark Age", which often star characters who only get a brief appearance in other stories.
  • Pride High has its reader characters on its message boards, which has more characters than one may be willing to count—and many of these have made cameos in the comic itself.
  • Love and Rockets, particularly the Palomar stories, which follow the intertwining lives of residents in a small town and their descendants.


Commercials[edit | hide]

  • Orangina itself already have a bunch of characters in their commercials, but they have many models (mostly female) in their website (although their old website had MORE females, including a female penguin!).


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • Undocumented Features, full stop. Its characters page here has nearly 200 entries—and that's just scratching the surface.
  • The Still Waters Series, based on Mahou Sensei Negima, comes packed with dozens of characters already; the author saw fit to add more. The third story in the series currently has one hundred characters, canon and original, on its character sheet.
  • Super Milestone Wars and it's sequel
  • One Piece Parallel Works. Yuki-Rin's crew has over forty members and counting.
  • The Harry Potter fanfic series Witches' Secret eventually ends up with a core harem of hundreds, and an extended one of thousands. Not to mention the Owls, Dragons, Horses, and other animals.
  • Tiberium Wars has loads of characters, to the point where the author has hinted that he has a separate text document just to handle force organization. The only thing keeping it from getting too mind-boggling is the fact that the author gleefully kills characters left and right.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic The Order of the Avatar Slayer starts out by throwing about 15 characters out to the readers in the first 10 chapters. By the end of the series, there's a total of at least 60 or 70.
  • Basically any massive crossover, especially if the author tries to put every character from every source that is being crossed over. One Insane example is Lonely Souls, a crossover of Ranma ½, Urusei Yatsura AND Sister Princess, complete with most of the main cast of each, plus countless minor characters as well.
  • New Trials of Card Captor Sakura and Friends, a Cardcaptor Sakura fanfiction, has a whole cast of main character OCs longer than the cast from the show, and more characters are continually being added, including back stories for most of the main characters' parents (both those deceased and living), the Li Clan, and more. Some characters that at first appear minor and insignificant turn out to be highly important later on.
  • The Total Drama Island fanfic Total Drama Battlegrounds introduces over fifty characters (22 canon contestants, 22 Original Characters, Chris, Chef, and several superimposed talking animals) in the first chapter. Of course, that's the nature of the show, and half of the contestants were already introduced in the previous season. Even with one person getting eliminated each challenge, chapters average about 10,000 words just to give everyone a Mandatory Line.
  • The Unity Saga takes it Up to Eleven by being a crossover of two Loads and Loads universes, to which it also adds a few original characters.
  • Both Megs Family Series and The Spellbook uses almost every Family Guy character who ever appeared (especially the former), as well as a wide cast of Original Characters.
  • Even a Chance Meeting has well over 80 characters. It takes place in an already densely populated series, and then add all the OCs...
  • The Warhammer 40,000 fan fic PRIMARCHS, aside from the 20 Primarchs, features more or less every well know character in WH40K canon. Then it starts bringing in characters from Warhammer Fantasy, StarCraft, Warcraft, Star Wars, Final Fantasy and then some. This goes to the point where the author regularly forgets how many characters are in any particular scene. Due to having No Fourth Wall, this is frequently lampshaded by the characters themselves.
  • The Dream Land Story. Almost every character, no matter how minor, who has ever appeared in the Kirby series has most likely appeared in this story, not to mention the cameos and Canon Immigrants.
  • The Batman fanfiction Cat-Tales encompasses not only Batman's entire cast (rogues, heroes, and civilians alike), but at times the entire DC universe. Pretty much every named Batman character from the animated series or comics at least makes a minor appearance, with almost every rogue or member of the Batfamily getting to star in at least one story. As all of the rogues hang out at the same bar (the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge), it's pretty much inevitable that they're all going to show up eventually.
  • Beyond the Dawn, extremely huge Russian Tolkien fiction, based on Beren&Luthien story. Author had not only developed the original Tolkien characters, who were nameless or briefly mentioned in the original story (11 companions of Finrod, Beren's mother, elven maidens from Luthien's suite, warriors of Fingon, Maedhros and Thingol, Boldog the orc, even several Sauron's wolves gained names and personalities), but invented her own characters: Beren's squire Gili, knights of Angband, Dortonion highlanders, elven captives and so on.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis not only has the gargantuan Touhou cast to work with and give them prominent roles, even the PC-98 cast, but keeps adding original characters as well. The author openly admits that keeping track of all of them and their constantly shifting allegiances is almost as much work as actually writing it.
  • After Ren and Pin-Mei, and Horo-Horo and Rong have families in A Gift of Love, there are effectively 9 main characters. Add in extended family, spirits, bodyguards, friends and classmates, teachers, villains, ancestors, and estranged family members. Now you have over fifty.
  • While only centering around two main characters, The Legend of Zelda: Rings of Dualty has a pretty big amount of supporting characters in addition to NPCs of multiple races. Granted, Zelda games can have quite a few unique characters, too.
  • Just about everything written by Morwen Tindomerel overflows with OCs.
  • Breakaway, the first installment of the BLoSC Fan Verse For Good, introduces an OC protagonist and just a couple of supporting females throughout the first few chapters... and then the story hits Chapter 10 and turns into a Next Gen Fic. Enter three Action Girl stars and four male Good-Looking Privates... and the distinct possibility of more cadets on their way.
  • The Deliver Us from Evil Series starts out with eight (or nine, depending on how you want to categorize Sean Youghal) Scotland Yarders, Ascended Extra Davy Wiggins and an indeterminate number of Baker Street Irregulars making screentime (full Irregular count is 50), plus Mycroft Holmes, Mary Watson, and Mrs. Hudson getting more screentime. That's not even mentioning the bad guys, or the OC supporting cast. All this in ONE BOOK.

Film[edit | hide]

  • While the original Star Wars films had a relatively manageable cast, the prequel films feature far more. There is Anakin, Obi Wan, Yoda, Mace Windu, Chancellor Palpatine, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Nute Gunray, Qui Gon Jinn, Padme, Panaka, Typho, Jango Fett, Cody, dozens more clones and countless named characters with speaking roles.
  • The Guy Ritchie movies (at least Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and RocknRolla). And most characters get killed throughout the movie.
  • Likewise the Guy Ritchie-esque Smokin Aces.
  • Oceans Eleven and sequels.
  • The film Cradle Will Fall was a traffic jam of different characters and groups of characters, with very few clues given.
  • Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians. As well as the obvious titular canines, there are about a dozen characters who only appear for a scene or two.
  • Robert Altman, the director of Nashville, pointed out that the real main character is not a person, but the city of Nashville.
    • A lot of Altman's movies are like this. The DVD cover of Short Cuts has 22 cast members listed above the title.
  • Richard Linklater's episodic, non-linear Slice of Life film Slacker has over a hundred nameless credited roles, none of whom appear more than once, and none who really take precedence over the others.
    • His follow-up, the Coming of Age story Dazed and Confused had somewhere from 20 to 30 named characters, all of which appear with some frequency over the course of the film. Aside from the few specific leads, though, they're fortunately shuffled into Cast Herds.
  • Bobby takes place at the Ambassador Hotel on the night of Bobby Kennedy's assassination. From what I can recall, Lindsay Lohan marries Frodo, Sidney Poitier works for hotel manager Anthony Hopkins, the coach from The Mighty Ducks (who also directs) and the kid from Rushmore manage Demi Moore, and the young undertaker from Six Feet Under gives Morpheus Dodgers' tickets. Other characters are Shia Lebouf as a buzzed democrat, Charlie Epps and Emile Hirsch as drug-dealing hippies, and Helen Hunt and Michael Sheen as a Happily Married couple.
  • Recount, an HBO Made for TV Movie about the 2000 US presidential election, has many characters on both sides, with the Democrats being led by Kevin Spacey and Dennis Leary (with help from Winston Smith). Oh, and they're all based on real people. Tom Wilkinson leads the Republicans.
  • Tombstone has 85 speaking roles (averaging one new character every 90 seconds). It follows the band of good guys, the band of bad guys, the good guys' wives, and the townsfolk, developing characters in all of these roles.
  • |Toy Story 3 adds a boatload of new characters to the still-present cast from the first and second movies. Several of its movie posters (for example, this one) boast this trope.
    • Speaking of Pixar, the die-cast toyline based on their animated film Cars actually consists of toy versions of every single character from the movie!
  • While the Disney Princess franchise (which is also Disney's biggest and most profitable franchise ever) includes only ten princess characters (with some exceptions, however), the Disney villain franchise on the other hand, actually includes the most characters of any Disney franchise ever made!
    • There's a reason why the villain franchise contains so many baddies (even the Pixar ones): According to Disney, there is actually no criteria used to define their own version of "villain", unlike the one they used to define "princess." As a result, to them, there is no such thing as an "unofficial villain" as in order for that to work, one villain must end up serving as their equivalent of Eris (sound familiar?) to have the definition changed (for the Disney Princesses, the Eris stand-in was Eilonwy). All we need now is a Ceres stand-in (when a member of a group is completely not supposed to be in it, but is still included anyway), and a Haumea/Makemake stand-in (not included for obvious reasons). Since the Princess franchise has its own version of Ceres, Haumea, and Makemake, there has yet to be such for the villains (again, you need an Eris to have those three). Finally there are members that should've been included, but not even included at all. Guess what that stands in for!
  • It has been said that the Spider-Man movies have way too many characters that just aren't developed, or are thrown away without a word. Mary Jane's astronaut fiancee, the girl living next door to Peter, Gwen Stacy, Eddie Brock, etc...
    • MJ's "astronaut boyfriend" is especially notable, seeing as how he's J. Jonah Jameson's son, and the actor who played him arguably buoyed the "Peter Parker" segments of the first two films.
  • A mainstay of Roland Emmerich's films: Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and especially Two Thousand Twelve, which has 150 actors listed on IMDB. (credited and uncredited). About half of these characters appear once with a single line and are then killed off.
  • Vertical Limit has over a dozen, though only half of them survive.
  • The Back to The Future trilogy has a lot of supporting characters sprinkled throughout the various years. Granted, most of the major supporting characters are family or ancestors of Marty or Biff, but there were a LOT of minor supporting characters, and more than one were a Chekhov's Gunman.
  • Casablanca, despite revolving around three leads, has been noted for its large cast of characters. It has 22 speaking parts, many of whom play some kind of significant role in the plot (or get at least one moment in the limelight).
  • The film "Love Actually" revolves around a cast of nearly 20 characters to a greater or lesser degree. The original and arguably best ensemble movie that inspired similar movies such as New Year's Eve and Valentine's day.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the Chung Kuo series, there is a well-needed character list at the beginning, starting with the second novel
  • Each book in the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey has an index of characters running four or five pages long.
  • Similarly to Kushiel's Legacy, the Safehold series starts having character lists in the range of ten pagesby book two.
  • In the French-Canadian fantasy series "Chevaliers d'emeraude" (Knights of Emerald), there is a new generation of apprentice knights with nearly every book (there are twelve books), and since the books cover enough time for the young knights to gain their own apprentices in the next book, they grow exponentially. By the eleventh and twelfth book, there are literally ten pages which are a list of all the young knights.
  • The French Romantics made this trope. The Count of Monte Cristo begins with a reasonable group of six or so...then fast-forwards twenty years to when each of them has his own distinct family and social circle. There are at least 38 named characters.
  • The Star Wars cast isn't at all huge (in the original trilogy, Luke, Vader, Leia, Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan, Lando, Yoda, Palpatine, R2, and 3PO, with honorable mentions to Boba Fett, Tarkin, Piett, and Jabba), but the Star Wars Expanded Universe takes it to ridiculous extents. Practically everyone shown in the films have A Day in the Limelight, and even if they centre around established characters each work insists on adding more and more and more...
    • Even that "R2 Unit with a bad motivator" from the first movie wound up being a secret Jedi robot in a dubious-canon side story.
    • The X Wing Series. Consider: One squadron is composed of twelve pilots, optimally. Each pilot has one astromech droid which potentially has its own quirks and personality. The squadron also has at least one named mechanic and one quartermaster, as well as at least two higher-ups outside of the squadron. Main characters also have love interests, friends, and enemies. When a pilot dies, he or she is replaced by a new pilot with a new astromech. There is more than one squadron.
    • The novel Death Star has a lot of characters. Fitting, of course, considering that it's about the Death Star and the people working on it. It's very big.
  • The Chinese epic The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is infamous for having too many characters to count; the most recent video game based off the book and using the name (Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI) had about 700 playable characters, as there are many characters who appear very briefly or are literally only mentioned once; about 100 of these recur frequently. The Dynasty Warriors series had around 47 characters playable in the same game at one point, though.
  • Water Margin, which the below mentioned Suikoden is very loosely based on, has 108 'heroes'. The term 'heroes' is used VERY loosely here.
  • Dream of the Red Chamber, another Chinese epic, has 30 main characters, largely female and over 400 minor characters.
  • The ever-growing cast of characters in Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance series
  • JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Elrond, Gimli, Legolas, Boromir, Faramir, Denethor, Gollum, Theoden, Eowyn, Eomer, Bilbo, Galadriel, Saruman, Grima, and Treebeard all have their pictures in the ending credits of the film version. And then there's plenty of more minor ones, such as Gamling, Haldir, Celeborn, the Witch-king, Gothmog, and Isildur. Oh, and Sauron.
    • The Silmarillion is worse than The Lord of the Rings, and rightly so in that regard, as it covers more time of the history of Middle-earth. In the first forty pages alone, you have Eru, the fourteen Valar[2] and Morgoth. And then, in the main part of the book, you have around another thirty or so main characters fighting for the limelight, including Fëanor and his seven sons,[3] Ungoliant, Thingol, Melian, Húrin, Túrin, Nienor, Fingolfin, Finarfin, Finwë, Galadriel, Sauron, Carcharoth, Beren and Luthien, Eärendil, Finrod, Morwen, Huor, Gothmog, Indis, Fingon, Turgon, Eöl and Aredhel, Idril and Tuor, Glaurung, Glorfindel, Elwing, Bëor, Haleth, Angrod, Aegnor, Orodreth, and Gil-galad. Of course, half of these characters end up dying a couple chapters after they're introduced. E.g.: Fëanor didn't live long after he left Valinor, Glorfindel only shows up for a couple pages, Beren and Luthien are hardly mentioned after their tale is finished, etc. To be fair, The Silmarillion wasn't exactly intended to be a novel, and the history of Numenor and retelling of the story of the One Ring are really separate stories (with their own characters) that just happen to be published in the same volume.
  • The Wheel of Time series is the absolute king of this trope. Wheel of Time encyclopaedia has a list of 2200 characters. The original main group introduced in the first book has not been in one location since the fourth book, out of eleven so far with three to go. Only the main character Rand manages to appear in every book, and he is nearly absent from a couple. From there the biggest male characters Rand, Mat, and Perrin have each acquired love interests (three at once in Rand's case), personal armies, and their own Cast Herds of supporting characters. In Rand's case this includes dozens of characters from numerous factions. The two biggest female characters (Egwene and Elayne) have done the same thing. The Big Bad has a dozen mini-boss characters with the Forsaken, as well as numerous Darkfriends. And almost every faction adds dozens of identifiable characters to the mix, sometimes with distinct subfactions within that which might as well be separate groups. And all these characters intermingle in an absolutely dizzying array of interactions.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire includes numerous characters, to the point he had to separate his fourth novel into two books to tell the stories of all the characters. Again, it somewhat compensates for its large cast with a large attrition rate.
    • Roy Dotrice was awarded the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of characters voiced in an audio book (224) for the unabridged version of A Game of Thrones. Martin himself suspects that Dotrice has already broken that record with the recordings for later books in the series.
    • As of A Dance with Dragons, the relevant wiki has at least 1853 named character pages. Only 31 POV characters, though.
  • Peter F. Hamilton tends to put an absurdly large amount of major characters in his novels which tends to be why they end up as doorstoppers.
  • Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series fits this trope. Each book has about four pages devoted just to listing the characters that appear in it.
    • Uhh... this really doesn't do the absolutely overwhelming nature of these books justice. Book 1 throws at least 100 names at you to remember as well as an INCREDIBLY complicated (and intentionally not very clearly explained) backstory, and then Book 2 introduces a whole new cast the same size... This goes on.
    • Not to mention that the list of characters in each new book is more a representative sample of important names to keep in mind, and in no way exhaustive. And as the series goes on it leaves out more and more, since simply appearing in the character list counts as a spoiler for some events. And don't get me started on Icarium
    • To put it another way, in Dust of dreams there is 244 characters on the list, 241 if you don't count bugg trice
  • Tamora Pierce's cast of characters continues to grow. Although the Tortall series is worse, needing character indexes in her more recent books.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Even allowing for the fact that the series comprises several sub-series with little character crossover, the "City Watch" and "Rincewind/Wizards" series still have Loads and Loads of Characters, many of whom get at least a namecheck a book.
    • The author even once said that it's the overpopulation that may one day kill the series.
  • Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, by way of multiple literary agents and scrapbook storytelling, is able to cram an impressive array of characters on multiple levels of narrative into its plot. The grand majority of them have a one-shot presence as an academic commentator on the film in the book or a one-night stand with the protagonist Johnny Truant outside the book, but many are referenced again later on as the narrative(s) continue.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series tries to keep track of every character in every book of the series, to the point that later books are merely the new characters making a tour of the place and meeting every other old character to see how they're doing.
    • Not to mention that most of the new characters always seem to be offspring of the old ones.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Homer's The Iliad. Most of them die.
    • The character sheets for The Odyssey run to several pages, however most of them only appear in one or two books.
    • This probably was the case for the six other epics in the Trojan Cycle, considering it covered everything from the Trojan War's origin to Odysseus's death.
    • This is because every Greek family claimed to have some ancestor who fought in the Trojan War. Every character, even the throwaways, would have been hugely important to someone.
  • Virgil's The Aeneid is just as bad as Homer's works.
  • The Gaunt's Ghosts series of Warhammer 40,000 novels have lots of various named Guardsmen. However, as these are the Imperial Guard, they die. A lot. And for real.
  • The incomprehensible number of recurring characters in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle.
  • Harry Potter. A good fraction of them are Chekhov's Gunmen.
    • J. K. Rowling has actually stated that she intentionally fleshed out 40 or so classmates (10 in each house in Harry's year plus presumably some that are not in Harry's year like Luna Lovegood and Katie Bell) before she even started writing.
    • That's not even counting Beaubatons and Durmstrang students and staff, ministry members, Muggles, student family members, Order of the Phoenix members, Hogwarts staff, Death Eaters, or non-human characters like Buckbeak or Dobby. And of course, this is all shown off nicely in the glorious end battle in Deathly Hallows.
    • Jim Dale, who recorded the American audio books of the series, did 134 different voices just for Order of the Phoenix, earning him a Guinness World Record for creating the most character voices in an audio book. He later beat his own record with Deathly Hallows, for which he did 146 voices.
    • This is the primary reason why there is so much Demoted to Extra in the movies. When there are ten zillion supporting characters and each book is pared down to a two and half hour film, inevitably some "regulars" will only get a Mandatory Line per movie if that.
  • The ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata, part literature and part mythology, defined Loads and Loads of Characters for possibly the first time ever, and then redefined it just for fun. For most of the story, it's just the five heroes and their wife having wacky adventures. In the final year of the story, the cast suddenly balloons as the heroes are boarded up with a royal family, which naturally includes the extended family and several orders' staff and servants, all named. Then you get to The War Sequence, and it's the main heroes, miscellaneous friends and political allies, their extended families, and sons and nephews in the double digits each, against the enemy force of one hundred named villains and their allies, cousins, sons and nephews. This is just the named characters -- Mooks are in the thousands. And each named character gets his own story. This, kids, is why the Mahabharata is the longest poem ever written by an incredibly wide margin.
  • The simple length of the Honor Harrington series (thirteen novels and four anthologies as for now) inevitably leads to it acquiring cast measured in the hundreds. Anyone Can Die, of course (and they do, especially in At All Costs), but given the number of badasses in the series, who often enjoy all the benefits of the Plot Armor, characters still tend to accumulate. The Other Wiki has a list of characters.
    • A smaller list of characters appears on the Characters/HonorHarrington page on this wiki. Clearly, given the number of characters appearing in Wikipedia's article, this page needs more entries.
  • Battle Royale starts with forty-two students, most of whom get their own backstory.
  • Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series of historical novels. For the uninitiated the seven book series covers Ancient Rome from 110 BC to 27 BC and has dozens of major characters and hundreds of minor characters, covering as it does several generations.
    • McCullough has the exact opposite problem from Tolkien; Romans only used a limited number of names and used them over and over and over! Keeping track of which Caecilius Metellus or which Appius Claudius is which is quite a challenge.
  • The characters featured in the movie The Wizard of Oz are just small fraction compared to the number of existing Land of Oz characters. There's dozens of characters from all 40 canon books, with the most popular non movie characters being Princess Ozma, Tik-Tok, Polychrome, and Patchwork Girl.
  • The Illuminatus trilogy has at least three main protagonists (and possibly more), each of whom has their own supporting cast, with only a few overlaps. Just try to try and keep track of all of them on your first read through without taking extensive notes.
  • L.A. Confidential. The already complicated movie contains maybe 20% of the book's story. Ellroy's other books feature it as well, but none to quite that level.
  • Warrior Cats has a section at the beginning of each book that lists most of the characters as of the book's first few chapters. There are so many of them that the author will actually forget that she killed a character the book before and list them anyway. Two notable examples: Smokepaw, a ShadowClan apprentice whose death was a pretty big event in Dawn, somehow came back in the next book and has since become a warrior, and Heavystep, who has been around since the beginning and has "died" more than once. Of course, most of these characters never even appear in the books and are added on a whim (and then disappear—anyone remember Splashpaw? Robinwing? Oatwhisker), but, still.
    • The Allegiances sections in the most recent books list over one hundred characters.
    • There are also the characters who make it into the books but aren't in the Allegiances, most notably Rosetail from the first book who died attempting to protect the kits from ShadowClan but is never listed among the Thunder Clan elders.
    • Sign of the Moon has 147 characters in the alleigences. But Prequel Super Editions are the worst offender, because all characters listed in the allegiences appear, and there and many characters born in them (Bluestar's Prophecy tried to explain the backstories of around fifty characters, while adding in fifty random new ones for good measure).
  • The Dragon Jousters ends the first book with a mere seven named characters. The next book introduces a love interest, her family, eight new riders, all their dragons, a mage for the group, enemy mages, a rider's sibling, and two other love interests. It only gets worse, and the writing starts to suffer.
  • Much of the best work of Charles Dickens features this trope. In Bleak House the count hits thirty by Chapter Ten; Great Expectations is comparatively restrained, with only eighteen distinct characters in the whole book.
    • Somewhat justified as Dickens got paid by the word.
  • Perry Rhodan. Running for almost fifty years, covering a time line of over a million years and several different universes, the number of characters is correspondingly huge.
    • To put a number to this: the far from complete Perry Rhodan Wiki Perrypedia has over 9000 [4] entries in the persons category.
  • James Clavell's Shogun, which frequently switches character viewpoints without warning as we get to know everyone involved in the real life Gambit Pileup going on in Japan in 1600.
  • Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series has so many named characters that take an active part in the story that you have to read the books with a cast roster next to you. By the end of the last book, there are over twenty characters (most of them real-life historical figures) to keep track of.
  • Thomas Pynchon's tomes are notorious for this. His masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow, has over 400 named characters spread over 750 pages. Even more confusing, characters can disappear, or even die, early in the book, only to resurface at the very end as a key plot element.
  • A good deal of Stephen King's work falls under this trope, especially since a great number of his books and stories are within the same universes as each other.
    • The Stand contains sixteen to twenty main characters (heroes and villains) whose inner lives we follow, and dozens of supporting characters. As a result, the book switches to different story arcs in different parts of the country several times in each chapter..
    • Several of his stories, including The Tommyknockers, Needful Things, and Under the Dome, follow the lives of an entire town, and he spends whole chapters introducing characters he will just kill off later. In fact, of these three books, Needful Things is the only one where he doesn't Kill'Em All, he only kills half the town in that one.
    • Not to mention what the Dark Tower series does towards the end.
  • Just try keeping the scores of dragonriders (and their dragons!), harpers, Lord Holders (and their spouses and kids!), weyr ladies, and various other characters straight in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. The abbreviated names don't help either, they tend to blur together, and several have even been subject to Name Drift.
    • The book Masterharper of Pern does a lot of this.
      • Justified. Most Pern books cover time periods of a couple of months to a few years (minor time travel excursions excepted). One or two cover two time periods separated by several years (or centuries), but that doesn't count as next to no information is given about the intermediate years. Masterharper of Pern, on the other hand, covers Robinton's entire lifetime, which can be safely assumed to be several decades at least.
  • The Acorna series by Anne McCaffrey does this as well, particularly in the end of the first book.
  • Honoré de Balzac's La Comédie Humaine series has the combined cast of 2472 characters, at least 40 of which appeared in more then one novel.
  • Emile Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart is similar (not too surprising since Zola was influenced by Balzac), with over another couple of thousand characters, the vast majority named. Of these a good hundred appear in more than one novel and the members of the titular family that show up come up to 30 or 40. Made even more confusing by a strong case of Chekhov's Gunman as most of the family members are briefly mentioned in passing thousands of pages before they show up as main characters.
  • Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm series is extremely dense. The series is historical fantasy, emphasis on historical, and not only are there lots of characters, most of them have titles and family trees. The depicted society is patterned on medieval Britain, and there are a dozen different knightly and religious orders for the characters to be members of. All these orders have their own officers, priests and assorted hangers-on.
  • Melanie Rawn is famous for this trope. At the start of the last book in her Dragon Star series she lists off some 50 different named characters who have died in the previous two books. Then she lists off some 75 "major" characters who managed to survive. She leaves some people off.
    • The prior trilogy, Dragon Prince has many of the same characters as Dragon Star. It doesn't have its own index at the back, but is rather in need of one.
  • Almost every Redwall book introduces literally dozens of new characters. Luckily, most of them don't stick around for longer than one book.
  • The Bible. Each book has a whole new array of characters, and it even goes into their family trees for a bunch of generations. Not to mention that several characters have multiple children who then proceed to have their own children.
    • Justified Trope considering its a collection of books, not a single work. Not to mention the fact that several of those books were religious history texts, covering religious, political, and cultural events relevant to not only an entire nation, but several generations of that entire nation. Add to that the New Testament, made up primarily of letters to entire churches...
  • The number of significant characters in any specific Christopher Moore book is relatively small but since they're all loosely connected it adds up to a universal cast of scores.
  • Catch-22. 42 chapters, almost all named after characters, and only four are repeats. But that hardly scratches the surface. Keep in mind that about half the characters don't have names, so you have Nately, Nately's father, the old man who reminds Nately of his father, Nately's whore, Nately's whore's kid sister, and so on.
  • The character lists in front of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's jointly written works aren't absolutely mandatory, but they sure as heck help keep everyone straight.
  • Like the Discworld example above, the Ring of Fire verse is made up of multiple overlapping storylines, many of which qualify all by themselves.
  • War and Peace. 580 characters, according to Wikipedia.
"History controls everything we do, so there is no point in observing individual actions. Let's examine the individual actions of over 500 characters at great length."
Tolstoy, according to Book-A-Minute Classics
  • Tad Williams tends to write lots of characters into his epic novels. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn features at least a dozen main characters and dozens of others scattered throughout the numerous subplots. It doesn't help that they are all off doing separate things at nearly every point.
    • Following in its wake, Otherland ups the ante by having an entire council of villains, a half-dozen hackers, a cabal of religious zealots, a Buddy Cop Show subplot, various minor protagonists, and more all trailing along in the wake of the heroes, who number at least a dozen all by themselves, depending on how you count.
  • Don Quixote: Critics have counted six hundred characters in the book (a lot of them unnamed).
  • K.J Parker's Scavenger Trilogy, with the saving grace of a clear focus on a moderate number of central characters.
  • Robert McCammon's Swan Song has well over twenty, though most of them don't live long. By the end of the book, only three of those we saw at the beginning are still alive.
  • The Dresden Files has a lot of recurring characters as both allies and enemies of Harry, almost all of them Chekhov's Gunmen. Sometimes, outside the main cast, no mention will be made of them for several books at a time, and they're called in to help every so often.
  • The longer of The Icelandic Sagas have this, combined with an aversion to One Steve Limit. It can be somewhat frustrating to a casual reader.
  • Derek Robinson's novels typically have more than a dozen characters. Since most of these characters are fighter pilots in World War Two, it quickly translates to Anyone Can Die.
  • In Gone (novel) by Michael Grant, the list of people alive in Perdido Beach is at 351, and at least sixty names come up on a regular basis.
  • The Tale of Genji has Loads and Loads of Characters stretching over four generations. To add to the fun cultural shibboleths meant that the author, 10th c. Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu, didn't give any of her characters names but referred to them indirectly by an ever changing collection of titles, residences, etc. all of which were held by at least two characters over the span of the novel and probably more.
  • Harry Turtledove tends to have a dozen or more viewpoint characters, most of whom hardly ever interact. The time spent between seeing each of them makes learning just the names of the main characters quite a challenge, never mind the supporting characters in each one's story.
  • Eric Flint's Ring of Fire/1632 series has 357 pages of character names, for a census of an entire town. Most of the names have, as yet, not been used for characters which have actually been written, as the series is a collaborative effort and all you have to do is to contact The Powers That Be and ask them to let you write about one of the as-yet unused characters.
  • Both A Thread of Grace and Children of God have loads and loads of characters. A Thread of Grace at least had a fairly comprehensive character list at the beginning of the book.
  • Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind has about 30 main characters and many more named secondary and one-off characters.
  • "And Ladies Of the Club", by Helen Hooven Santmyer covers over 50 years in a small town. The eponymous Club starts with six members, then grows to 14, and by the end of the story, all original club members have died and been replaced. And the author goes into much detail about every single person in every club member's family. And their friends who aren't in the club. And their husbands' business associates. Oh yes, and the occasional real-life political figure. It becomes very confusing reading after a while.
  • Wild Cards, being written, amongst other people, by George R. R. Martin of A Song of Ice and Fire's fame, manages to keep a rather spectacular character tally, with each book having at least ten main characters with a huge amount of secondary and recurring secondary characters, amongst with a rather spectacular mortality rate.
  • War of the Spider Queen, understandable for a six-book series.
  • Each Edward Rutherford book covers tells the stories of a few families over hundreds, if not thousands, of years in a given location. As they tend to be historical fiction and not fantasy, there's a large attrition rate.
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera has about six main characters, with a supporting cast of at least a dozen repeating fairly major characters. Most of the books in this series are split into two or three plot threads, tracking the various endeavors of each of the groups of characters.
  • David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest has a cast of hundreds, if not thousands, many of them with complex back stories.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Okay, let's see. The series starts off with Nikki Quinn, Kathryn Lucas, Isabelle Flanders, Alexis Thorne, Myra Rutledge, Barbara Rutledge (she was killed, but she became a ghost), Julia Webster, Yoko Akia, Charles Martin, and Jack Emery. Then Harry Wong, Mark Lane, Bert Navarro, Ted Robinson, Countess Anne "Annie" Ryland de Silva, and Maggie Spritzer come into the pictures. Then you have Judge Cornelia "Nellie" Easter, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Fox, Pearl Barnes, Cosmo Cricket, Elias Cummings, Paula Woodley, Karl Woodley, Joseph "Joe" Espinosa, Rena Gold, Martine Connor, Henry "Hank" Jellicoe, Little Fish, Stu Franklin, and Abner Tookus. So what we have here is...30 characters! Let's not get started on all the one-shot characters in the series!


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Game of Thrones: Gives new meaning to this trope. To say this series has a dizzying number of characters is a serious understatement. The principals alone number nearly 20. Factor in the remaining cast of secondary, tertiary, and ancillary characters, and the number balloons to some 50+.
  • Twin Peaks had about 20-25 major characters who were given character arcs, and about 40 minor recurring characters. This is pretty impressive considering that the series lasted only for 30 episodes, and that almost all of the major characters were introduced during the first season, which had only 8 episodes.
  • Lost has had twenty-eight credited cast members in total, with about twelve to seventeen being a part of the cast at the same time, due to the Anyone Can Die factor. That's not even counting the large stable of important secondary characters, nor the dozens of smaller recurrers.
    • To give an example: season four starred sixteen people. There were twenty two important recurring characters, some of whom appeared in nearly every episode, and numerous recurring, named Red Shirts and Mauve Shirts like Keamy's team. That's not even counting the sheer number of important one-off characters who will probably come back later or the random friends and family members of the Oceanic 6 who came back in the finale or the dead characters who appeared in flashbacks or visions or the stranger ones like Jacob.
    • Lost has reached the point that it's nearly impossible to jump in to the show having missed a few episodes. Even if you followed the story from the beginning, if you miss 3 or more episodes you'll come back to the show to find a brand new character referencing another character you've never heard of before. Even once you figure out this new character, eventually (probably during a season finale) another character you've never heard of will show up accompanied by dramatic reveal music as the main characters look at them in awe...it turns out that the new character was introduced in a dream sequence in the episode you missed and is crucial to the plot.
  • 24 has a vast number of recurring characters. But then again, it needs to, given how often new cast members are needed.
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined is notable not only for the size of its cast (with knowledge of over 20 characters required for even basic comprehension) but for the sheer number of named recurring minor characters, many of whom have been with the show ever since the miniseries. This may be a function of the show's premise: as replacement officers are in perishingly short supply, the Galactica naturally has a very low staff turnover rate.
    • Tricia Helfer in herself plays Loads and Loads of Characters. All the Significant Seven Cylons have many copies, such as Number Eight's Boomer and Athena, but Number Six has more distinct and/or significant copies than any other model. Yet Tricia only gets one salary.
  • The Bill, as of its cancellation had 17 main characters. The police station is arguably number 18. See here for a list.
  • Carrusel had a classroom of 20 kids, their teacher, at least 4 other teachers, the principal, the groundskeeper, the kids' parents (most had both), siblings of various kids, and a lot of other friends and random people involved in random plotlines.
  • By its third season, Deadwood had at least thirty "regular" characters, most of whom actually did appear in every episode.
  • ER accumulated quite a few over its 15-season run, with the main billed cast never going under 10 or so.
    • Although they were pretty good about writing characters out and in properly, except for Ramano where they Dropped A Helicopter On Him. Literally.
  • Farscape had accumulated so many main characters by the third season that the writers had to split the crew into two parties, both of which had a copy of the protagonist John Crichton.
  • Heroes. Right off the bat. Much like Lost, Heroes also has a high character attrition rate.
  • Oz. During any given season, there are about 15-20 recurring characters that are prisoners, and that's not even counting the prison staff.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a cast of 7 regulars (admittedly, Cirroc Lofton AKA Jake Sisko didn't appear that much later on) all of whom were very well developed. However, the show had an enormous set of secondary and tertiary characters, many of whom were just as developed, if not MORE developed than the main cast. Gul Dukat and Garak in particular were very deep characters despite not being part of the main cast. Since the Deep Space Nine regulars were for the most part (if not all of them) more developed than the main cast of other Star Trek series, it follows that even the Deep Space Nine guest stars were more developed than the main characters in the other series.
  • Babylon 5 had no less than 11 characters listed in the opening credits, counting all seasons together, with a fair amount of turnover from one season to the next. This is not counting the large number of semi-important characters that didn't make the opening roll.
  • By the time The Wire reached its fourth season it had 29 regular cast members, eleven of which appeared in every episode; they were split between the police, the gangs, the Baltimore City mayor's office and a local high school. The show also featured about 20-30 other characters with recurring roles.
  • Steven Bochco was famous for making TV shows that had a large ensemble cast, including L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues. He also had a few clinkers including Cop Rock.
  • The Greys Anatomy cast got so big that recurring characters like Nurses Tyler and Olivia and the Chief's secretary completely disappeared. They even killed off Mer's mom, George's dad and put several main characters on buses in order to cut down on the amount of people we have to keep track of...
  • Scrubs has a huge expanded cast of recurring characters, the most famous one being Janitor who was technically a guest star every episode of the first season. Among the major guest cast is Nurse Laverne, The Todd, Keith (who managed better than most of Elliot's long-time boyfriends), Doug, Ted, Lonnie and a few more that aren't quite as frequent like J.D.'s brother Dan.
    • Then there are the "Third Tier" of characters, who literally started the show as background extras or crew cameos. Listen to the commentaries on the Season 2 and 3 DVDs, and one can hear jokes about the crew nicknames given to recurring extras, like Dr. Beardface, Snoop Dogg Intern/Resident/Attending and Colonel Doctor.
    • The show also regularly expands its cast every year, with new interns.
  • Gilmore Girls had around twelve main characters plus many recurring ones, some of whom were very popular (Mrs Kim, Lucy, Olivia, Kirk, Taylor, Jackson, Zack...). They managed to get most of them together for the finale (though no Paris, Christopher or Logan - they'd all had their series wrap on the penultimate episode).
  • Beverly Hills, 90210, many of whom returned for the finale.
  • Mad Men not only has the large number of employees at Sterling-Cooper as regulars and semi-regulars but also has multiple episodes involving into Don's harem and home life, Betty's circle of friends, and the personal lives of Sal, Joan, Pete, Peggy, Roger, and Bert, and even Harry.
  • Upstairs, Downstairs has more than 20 recurring characters and great use of Cast Herds.
  • The original Brady Bunch had 9 main characters. The Reunion Series The Bradys had all of those plus each of the six kids in the original had wives/husbands/ boy/girlfriends/ kids of their own added to the mix. No wonder it was an hour-long show!
  • Generation Kill represents nearly the whole of First Recon at the onset of the Iraq War.
    • This is usually true for any miniseries that focuses on the military, such as The Pacific and Band of Brothers. In The Pacific the focus is three different men from three different companies, all with their entirely different friends, families, commanding officers, etc. featured. The large cast was also one of the few criticisms Band of Brothers received when it was first aired, even though the 25 or so men that make up the main cast is a relatively small number compared to the amount of soldiers that are featured in the book and were a part of the company in real life.
  • The Mighty Boosh is an interesting example. While they do tend to have a large supporting and recurring cast, these characters always seem to be played by the three or four main actors of the series. The small troupe/big cast approach fits the show's do-it-yourself vibe (the creators also tend to use friends and family in supporting roles), while in an interview Noel Fielding paraphrased the BBC's reaction to the show's popularity thusly: "It's like the Beatles. It's amazing! You're getting less money!"
  • Numb3rs fits the bill. While the core duo of Don and Charlie appear in every episode, and characters like Colby, David, Alan, and Amita are almost always present, there's a revolving cast of other characters who are so known to the audience that their appearance is nothing special, but who still don't make it into every episode.
  • Spoofed by the sketch comedy show The State which presented a fictional TV program called "Just the 160,000 of Us." It was presented as a soap opera where the aforementioned number of people all somehow shared a house, and all of them had their own subplots.
    • Similar in the German comedy Switch, with the fictional soap "Alle und wir" ("everyone and us"), which seems to have hundreds, if not thousands of characters... although we only see six of them, and a seventh one (Robin) is mentioned.
  • Power Rangers. There are somewhere around 106 people who count as the eponymous Rangers alone, then add in at least 15 distinct sets of allies, supporting characters, and villains. If you count the 17 years of weekly monsters, you quite literally have a cast of thousands.
    • Keep in mind Super Sentai has 199 heroes (including the 6 Gokaiger and AkaRed) as of the main 35th Anniversary movie this year, with 35 teams over the past 36 years (1975-2011), that's counting the Core 3/5 and the 6th/Others (such as BullBlack/Magna Defender from Gingaman/Lost Galaxy). Toss in the 35 lots of villains, allies and supporting characters you'll easily hit the thousands before having to add in the weekly monsters.
    • Hell, check the 40-years of Kamen Rider (1971-2011) and you'll typically find that the bigger the list of Riders in a year, the more non-Rider characters there's gonna be. Kabuto (11, including the 3 Movie-Only Riders) and Ryuki (13, 14 including the Decade-only Rider Abyss) show this off well.
    • And there's confirmation for a movie crossing over the two franchises, Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen. Which means a unity of nearly 250 heroes.
      • And now it goes Serial Escalation - with a whopping 486 confirmed costumed characters on screen, not only is this the biggest collection of characters ever, Toei has even sent this to the Guinness Book Of World Records for the biggest number of suited stunt actors on screen.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer usually kept a good rotation of older characters being killed or otherwise taking a bus, but the last season saw an influx of potential slayers and that number came to about 25 or so.
    • As of the comic continuation Season Eight, there are around 500 Slayers in Buffy's expanded group.
  • The Stargate Verse has many, many more characters than the writers can keep track of. They occasionally try to stem the tide with Bus Crashes and dropping bridges.
  • Jim Henson and his cohorts did this on a regular basis. The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and Sesame Street have all featured core casts of at least seven to ten main characters, another ten or fifteen secondaries, and dozens of recognizable recurrers.
    • For obvious reasons. A live-action show will probably find it cheaper/easier to hire a new actor to play an extra or bit part rather than track down the guy who was in that one episode seven seasons ago, whereas a puppet show will almost always find it easier to pull that old puppet out of the closet. Helps that a lot of the voice actors were men of a thousand voices.
    • The ending of The Muppets Take Manhattan and A Muppet Family Christmas are good places to see everyone together. And the cast has only continued to grow.
  • Third Watch. There are seventeen main characters listed on their trope page, alone.
  • Any Reality TV show where the producers think it's a good idea to introduce new competitors half-way.
    • Such as the 2007 UK series of Big Brother, which, thanks to a mix of poorly-planned twists, disqualifications and walkouts, had a total of twenty four housemates.
  • Taken is a ten episode miniseries clocking in at about 820 minutes. It has at least 24 characters, most of whom die, are only main characters for one episode, or are Put on a Bus.
  • Although Saving Grace is primarily about its title character, the show features about a dozen main supporting characters, and another couple dozen recurring minor characters. All are well-written & well-acted.
  • The Sopranos gradually became this, with upwards of 20 actors listed in the opening credits (in the episodes in which they appeared) and at least as many significant recurring ones. Some, like Bobby and Agent Harris, started as minor roles and grew more significant over the course of multiple seasons. Even at the rate at which they were weeded out, jumping from the end of season 1 to the beginning of season 5 or 6 would have to be pretty bewildering.
  • Harper's Island had a bad case of this, mainly due to the fact that it's a murder mystery and they needed lots of people to die. Out of 29 characters who were murdered, we never really got to know a dozen or so of them.
  • Surprisingly, Trailer Park Boys became this in later seasons. That Other Wiki lists twelve main characters and twenty-four recurring characters. In season 7, previously minor characters like Sam and Jake Collins and Sam Losco were developed in multi-episode StoryArcs.
  • While Robot Wars generally only has a dozen robots per episode, counting the house robots, once you realise that there are about a hundred competitors, maintained by roboteer teams of at least three people, the total number of faces in a single series is incredible.
  • The League of Gentlemen manages to pull this off with only three actors in major roles through extensive use of Cast Herding. When describing how they had to limit themselves for The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, Reece Shearsmith said "Steve [Pemberton] and Mark [Gatiss] play five each, I play seven." That's seventeen characters they felt were important enough to work into the feature film, and Wikipedia sets the estimate for number of recurring characters from the series at about a hundred. And that's just the characters played by the core trio...
  • The current incarnation of Degrassi began with 13 title characters, 7 recurring, and 1 regularly mentioned unseen character.[5] Due to the focal point being a school, the cast naturally shifts around, some leave, some join, lots of bus rides and mysterious disappearances. As of Season 10 only one title character from the original season is left in the opening credits, but the series now boasts 22 title characters, 14 recurring... and one regularly mentioned unseen character.[6] For those keeping score at home- [7]
  • Gossip Girl is approaching this. You have the main cast (Serena, Blair, Dan, Nate, Chuck, Jenny, Vanessa), the parents (Lily and Rufus, mostly), Georgina, Eric, whoever Serena's "Boyfriend of the Month is", Gossip Girl herself (as omniscient narrator), Penelope and the Mean Girls (3 of them), Dorota, Olivia Burke (if they bring Hilary Duff back), Eva and Juliet Sharp ( both of whom will no doubt be a big part of the entire 4th season). That's 21, and that assumes they don't add anyone else from their colleges, which is unlikely. Soap Opera, indeed.
  • Sons of Anarchy has at least a dozen members of the titular motorcycle club as main characters, but then you add in their families, law enforcement, rival gangs, other chapters, the entire Irish subplot, and miscellaneous politicians and citizens of Charming, and you have a huge cast, most of which can reappear at any time.
  • Skins has an entirely new cast every two seasons. Considering there are eight or nine major characters per season, and then you add in all their family and other acquaintances...yeah, it's start to get confusing after a while.
  • Professional Wrestling promotions, by their very nature, tend to have this. After all, ideally, you want the fans to care about every match, and when the shows run 3+ hours, that's a lot of matches.
    • The annual Royal Rumble Match (held the last Sunday of January every year) is a good way to bring all these characters together. Thirty (forty in 2011, and twenty when it began in 1988) wrestlers compete in the match over the course of about an hour, and typically only about ten of them will be recognizable to casual fans. Even WWE diehards may have trouble keeping track of all the cameos. Remember Daniel Puder? Probably not - but if you're a Royal Rumble connoisseur, you do.
    • In 1987, Jim Crockett Promotions took over/bought (Nobody seems to know which is the absolute truth) Championship Wrestling from Florida and bought the Universal Wrestling Federation. This gave them four more hours of TV to fill each week. While there were three distinct and separate crews, wrestlers would move over constantly. Late in the year, the UWF shows stopped having their own crews while CWF kept losing importance. At the end of the year, the UWF shows were the same as the JCP shows with different names/intros (UWF was the same as NWA Pro Wrestling and Power Pro Wrestling was the same as NWA World Wide Wrestling. The announcers would only mention "The Wrestling Network" during the shows.), while CWF's B-show (Southern Pro Wrestling) was cancelled and CWF became a NWA Pro Wrestling with localized commentary and a different name/intro. UWF disappeared as 1988 started, PPW disappeared a few weeks later, and CWF stuck around for a few more months.
    • In 1998-1999, WCW was so bloated that it had over two hundred wrestlers under contract. Things were so mismanaged that some of these wrestlers were never even used on television and essentially got paid for sitting at home doing nothing.
      • This was deliberate on WCW's part (which, arguably, make the situation even worse). The idea was to sign up every "name" wrestler that became available, right down to the C-List Fodder, in order to deprive the WWF of the chance to sign them themselves. The company signed many lesser stars knowing they had no intention of putting them on television. A workable theory for a company backed by Uncle Ted's billions, but the sheer number of wrestlers on the payroll became unmanageable. Former WWF star Honky Tonk Man had a brief stint in WCW where wrestlers were paid for each show they showed up at, even if they didn't actually work. Attendance was taken by writing your name on a timesheet, but nothing more than that. He quickly caught on and simply stopped showing up, having a friend of his write down his name in his place. Reportedly, management didn't catch on for almost a year.
  • In its first series, Downton Abbey had twenty major characters who appeared in every episode, with an additional five recurring characters appearing in two to four episodes. Series two is promised to add a least one new regular and three heavily recurring characters.
  • Doctor Who is fifty years old and has a ridiculous amount of characters. Thankfully, at one time you'll only need to know about maybe five or six max (the Doctor, his companion(s), and any family/friends/recurring characters), plus the one-shot characters for a single episode. But if we were to list every 'main' or major-supporting character the show had ever had, we'd be here all day.
  • Aside from the five leads on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, there were well over 20 recurring townsfolk and guest characters, each with a different backstory and ethos. Many of these characters had A Day in the Limelight at least once, and most of them underwent Character Development as the series went on.
  • American Horror Story has a huge amount of characters and almost all of them are dead and trapped in the same house. It's bound to get even crazier now with the announcement that season 2 (and seasons after that) will feature an all new cast.
  • Smallville. In addition to the main cast, you had other DC Comics characters, Canon Foreigners who have important roles, Freaks of the Week, Phantom Zone escapees, and dozens of high school students and Daily Planet staff members. Since it lasted 10 years, that's a pretty big cast.
  • True Blood has an insane amount of cast members and characters. This became especially prevalent in the third season-onwards. There is Eric's posse, Bill's allies, the opposing vampires (Russell Edgington and the like), a bunch of werewolves, Sam and his shifter buddies, Bon Temps' general population, Sookie's close friends, Lafayette's witch circle.. It's literally getting hard to follow at the end of season 4.
    • Because the show's episodes last 40 minutes, it usually gives the writers an excuse to flesh out more and more characters. In the fourth season, they had the annoying tendency to switch over to the issues that were being had by characters like Alcide - who weren't main characters at all in the novels.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Hello! Project. They're currently at 61 members, and have had 128 members in total to date.
    • A few years ago, Morning Musume had 15 members.
    • The Eggs (trainees) are now at 28 members. And they keep adding more of them every few months.
  • AKB48—as their name implies, you'd think they have 48 members. Right now they're at 42.
    • They actually were at 48 members at one point in 2007. Their all-time high is 53 members.
  • The now-defunct group Bishoujo Club 31 (Saki Fukuda and Beni Arashiro were in it) had - you guessed it - 31 members.
  • Bang Camaro has 16 members for their studio and touring band, but to add to this, when the venue is big enough, they add on some session members to get as many people on stage as possible.
  • The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has 41 members, touring or otherwise.
  • Only few people were able to keep track of exactly how many different band members Laibach had until now. The fact that the active band members change regularly and often use pseudonyms or don't use any individual names at all makes it worse. Intentionally. The list on the Wikipedia article seems to be complete though.
  • The Fall's former band member list rivals their discography in size. This article details a journalist's attempt to track down all of them.
  • Menudo definitely has them. The band has been around since 1977, and members are thrown out and replaced when they turn 16, their voice changes, the start to shave, or get too tall. This has led to a revolving door of singers.
  • At their 2004 induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, every musician who had ever been a member of The Doobie Brothers showed up to perform. The stage that night was...crowded, to say the least.
  • The Wu-Tang Clan. If you have no trouble keeping track of The RZA, The GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, U-God, Masta Killa, Method Man, Cappadonna, and their countless aliases and alter egos, there are literally dozens if not hundreds of associated groups, rappers, and singers to get lost in.
  • The Doobie Brothers, so much so that there used to be a joke: "She's had more members in her than the Doobie Brothers."
  • Vocaloid, if we include unreleased Vocaloids and private voicebanks, and don't include Append, Extend, V3 Updates, fanmades like Haku & Neru, or things like Ice Mountain and Vocaloid:China Project, there are 43.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Large casts are especially rare in newspaper comics, due to new papers constantly picking up the series and almost no reruns to catch up with, but Doonesbury is a famous exception. At one time a Sunday strip ran that was just one big panel with a group-photo-style picture of the entire cast. Along the side of the panel was a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-style chain of how they are connected to one another.
    • A previous strip, published about five years earlier, Lampshaded this by doing a similar chart and having Zonker explain that this was being done because "most 19th century Russian epic novels have fewer characters than this feature." Since then, the cast has only GROWN (as this was before everyone started having kids.)
    • This was lampshaded in the comic strip FoxTrot once. A tossed-off gag in the middle of a Sunday strip involved Jason downloading the cast list of Doonesbury, and the file was many megabytes in size.
    • The Other Wiki counts 68 characters.
  • Peanuts, a notable Long Runner, contains about twenty principal characters (Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Rerun, Schroeder, Woodstock, Sally, Marcie, Frieda, Peppermint Patty, Franklin, Pig-Pen, Spike, Shermy, Eudora, Molly Volley, Crybaby Boobie, Patty, Violet, 5, Peggy Jean), not to mention the unseen Little Red-Haired Girl, Mrs Othmar, and all the parents, and a sentient schoolhouse. A few of them were brother chucked, though.
    • If Crybaby Boobie and Molly Volley count as "principal characters", then so does Roy, the kid who introduced Peppermint Patty to Charlie Brown. He appeared in quite a few summer camp strips. And what about the pig-tailed girl who's friends with Rerun?
    • A complete list of all the characters is here. Well, not on THAT page exactly, but if you click the button that says FAQ, then scroll down to the link that says "Complete list of Characters".
  • Tumbleweeds has a good thirty characters in its main cast, split between members of the town and the surrounding lands' Native tribes.
  • For Better or For Worse has a core family of five, plus friends, relatives, and pets. And then the kids started having families of their own...
  • Mutts started as just a man and his dog, then added a couple with a cat. Several dogs, many cats, an array of invertebrates and other animals, and a few humans later, it definitely qualifies.
  • Gasoline Alley is unusual in being a Long Runner where the characters have aged in real time. In that time, many castmembers have died, new ones have kept getting introduced, baby Skeezix is now an old man, and Walt Wallet, the original protagonist, is now over 100. The cast is very big, and long stretches can go by without Walt or Skeezix popping up, although together they are still both the heart of the strip.


Play-by-Post RPGs[edit | hide]

  • B Zp B: Consider the fact that there are about 7-8 active players, and there have been plenty of other players so far. Now consider the fact that each has his own CAST of characters, complete with a Big Bad, or several Big Bads. Many of the characters are constantly interacting with each other. Otherwise, they separate into their own Cast Herds.
  • Warrior Cats RPG has had, over the course of its history, as many as 100,000 different characters.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • The Goon Show had three main cast members, a handful of supporting players (which included the announcer and some of the regular musicians) and a few recurring guest stars. Between them they played something like fifty roles, over thirty of them regulars. The bulk of these were voiced by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, though Milligan claimed he only had so many parts to prevent Sellers from talking to himself.
  • The Archers - thanks in part to its Extreme Long Runner status - has a regular character list of about 60, with a couple of dozen appearing each week. Include occasional and silent characters, and you're into the hundreds.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The Laramie Project has over seventy characters, all of whom are regularly played by eight people.
  • The Crucible has about twenty parts, all of which are given, if not deep character development, then something to do at least.
  • Urinetown has a number of supporting roles, and most are doubled, which means quick costume changes for some cast members.
  • Given that most musicals have several leads and a large ensemble, it's rare to find a musical with so many distinct parts as Into the Woods.
  • Most Cirque Du Soleil shows have at least fifty performers apiece; a few of the non-touring shows have upwards of seventy. This can roughly be broken down into:
    • Five to ten principal characters and/or character groups, including clowns, singers, and lead dancers.
    • Characters and/or groups that exist for one act in particular, but might have a member or two appear elsewhere in the show (i.e. the Zebras in "O", the Nymphs in Alegria) for character work. Acting for Two applies here.
    • The musicians.
  • Many William Shakespeare plays have dozens of named characters, particularly the histories. Often modern productions cut the plays down (since uncut most would last over four hours), merge bit parts with one or two lines into single characters, and double- or even triple-cast actors in medium and sometimes even larger characters.
  • Twilight: Los Angeles is a docudrama that tells the story of the riots in Los Angeles in 1992. Lot of people.
  • The Blue Bird has a fairy give two children eight sidekicks for their journey, into lands with even more named characters—ranging from the kids' dead grandparents to Night to a forest's worth of tree spirits to Luxuries and Happinesses to unborn children waiting to go to Earth. Tellingly, lesser sidekick characters like Water are sidelined for significant stretches of the action.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Transformers. . Being a Long Runner, the Trope Codifier for Merchandise-Driven and having the most infamous Continuity Snarl ever from being so Adaptation Overdosed, this trope was inevitable. And then there's when this trope occurs within adaptations:
    • The Transformers Generation 1 and Generation 2 comics are notable for featuring somewhere in the region of 300 named characters over the course of their ten-year run. Of these, over 120 are permanently killed off, some for dramatic effect to drive the story, but mostly because there were simply too many of them for the writer to keep track of, and because their toys had come off the shelf and no longer needed to be "sold" through the comic. They often went out in large batches (for instance, in issue #19, Omega Supreme offlines nearly every Decepticon from the first year of the series in about two pages), with the most famous instance surely being issue #50, in which a cosmically-powered Starscream unceremoniously kills almost every other surviving character from the first three years of the series with a few waves of his hands. This is without even bringing up the unnamed background characters, such as the entire population of San Francisco.
    • Transformers Armada had a relatively small cast. However, the sequel series Transformers Energon went so overboard in cramming in Autobot characters and using them at any excuse that in certain shots you can't actually tell what's going on. Needless to say, this left all but a few with no characterization at all. This got better in Transformers Cybertron, which may or may not be a followup to Energon, but it didn't improve by that much.
      • Supposedly the reason for the many accents that the characters of Transformers: Cybertron was that they were so underdeveloped that otherwise they were virtually the same beyond their names and appearances.
      • Transformers Masterforce and Transformers Victory, which featured all-new, considerably smaller casts in an obvious effort to start afresh.
  • Bionicle, definitely. The main cast comprises over 200 characters, and there are countless Red Shirt villagers scattered all throughout the islands that the story hasn't covered.
    • If you believe some of the comics that came with the toys, some of those Faceless Mooks were also sentient.
  • G.I. Joe is a prime example, due to its Merchandise-Driven nature. The action figure line featured dozens of characters, almost all of whom appeared on the TV show at some point.
  • Hasbro's actually really good at creating franchises with Loads and Loads of Characters. The two prime examples of this are Transformers, mentioned above, and the My Little Pony franchise, with a huge cast of primary, secondary, tertiary, and background characters. Heck, Generation 3 My Little Pony's television show had no plot, continuity, or Canon—it was just a Merchandising ploy that just introduced more and more and more characters per episode. Thankfully, Generation four My Little Pony's TV Show doesn't fall into this snarl, but GOOD CELESTIA, there's a lot of characters—case in point, just look at its Ensemble Darkhorse Page, which, so far, is the only other case of Ensemble Darkhorse having its own page for a franchise—the other page, of course, being the one for Transformers.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • Disney Theme Parks: In addition to hundreds of characters from the Disney Animated Canon, Classic Disney Shorts, and a few television properties, there's also dozens of characters exclusive to the parks, like the Ghost Host (The Haunted Mansion), the Country Bears (Country Bear Jamboree), and Figment (Epcot's imagination-based pavillion).
    • At Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, there are days when the managers all dress in character costumes for a day. The sheer number of "forgotten" major characters is mind-boggling, and the fact that they usually have characters left over is simply jaw-dropping.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Fire Emblem. This is offset by having lost units unrecoverable, which means the total size of your force is limited by how well you play. In addition, the support conversations allow for development of secondary characters without interrupting the main plot.
    • In Shadow Dragon, the game practically throws two to five new units at you every chapter up until halfway through the game. If you manage to recruit everyone, the Where Are They Now? Epilogue will last nearly two minutes longer than the game's actual credits.
    • Though if you go for Gaiden chapters by killing off characters, the epilogue ends up looking like a mass funeral...
    • A simple example is the "relations" chart put together in Radiant Dawn, which showed the given relations between most of the major characters. It also served as the titular scorecard by which you could know the players. Warning, MASSIVE spoilers here Keep in mind this is only the playable characters and super-major NPCs.
    • This is actually zig-zagged in the Jugdral series, at least Genealogy of the Holy War. There is no Arbitary Head Count Limit, and while the cast of (playable) characters looks about the average size of a Fire Emblem game, you only get to use about half at once due to the game's narrative. And even then, of the second half, a good portion of the characters you see on a list are merely substitute characters.
  • Resident Evil is knee-deep in this trope, partially due to such a long history and partially because of characters mentioned only in notes, secondary characters, tertiary characters, and characters that are present for only a short time before becoming zombie fodder. Any semi-comprehensive character list for the series has to be split up into subsections. Pilots not included.
  • Squaresoft's (now Square-Enix) Chrono Cross featured a cast of 45 playable characters - requiring the player to play through the game at least three times to get them all. Alas, the game only allows 3 characters to fight at a time. That also leads to ending up with a core group you like to use in battle all the time during the later parts of the game to the exclusion of most of the rest of the characters you collected along the way. And it makes outfitting the redundant characters an expensive proposition.
  • By the time you get to the end of the final chapter of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, you'll have a party of 22 characters to choose from, although nearly half of them won't join you if you skip their chapters, up to 6 of those can be Lost Forever or Killed Off for Real even if you don't skip their chapters, and 2 of them have next to no dialogue to begin with and are optional anyways.
    • The sheer number of characters means that by the time you finish the game, you'll find that the total number of Combination Attacks between them exceeds even that of Chrono Trigger.
  • Final Fantasy VI has 14 regular playable characters, most of any main series FF game. There's an early-game section where you control ten Moogles as temporary PCs. And, of course, there are a couple of dozen significant NPCs.
  • Shining Force. There is a limit of how many soldiers can be sent into any given battle, which leaves some of your forces perpetually on the bench.
  • Every Suikoden game has 108 characters you can acquire. This does not take into account the many named characters that are not part of the 108.
  • Any given Super Robot Wars game uses the cast from a good number of Humongous Mecha anime(typically in the double digits), then adds in a few original characters of their own. The Original Generation games then take all those original characters, puts them together, then adds even more characters, both playable and supporting.
    • The Super Robot Wars spinoff Endless Frontier takes things even further- it's an RPG developed by Namco, taking the characters from the Original Generation universe, and crossing them over with various Namco characters, including original characters from their crossover strategy title Namco X Capcom (Who were, according to the developers, based loosely on original characters from Super Robot Wars, completing some sort of cycle)
    • Notable mention is Super Robot Wars Alpha series. Alpha 3 had the largest cast out of any SRW game and, if we put all the characters from all the timelines, would easily exceed 100 characters that are playable. If we include that NPC's, it would easily exceed 200 or even 300 characters.
  • Mortal Kombat Armageddon tosses in almost every kharacter from all of the games in the series, including the boss kharacters, giving you over 60 playable characters.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Almost any character that could go from a computer controlled ally combatant to a controllable character later would stop being important to the plot after you finally gain control of them. This was because you could refuse to let them join, later dismiss them, or have them be Killed Off for Real.
    • The PSP version throws fans of these characters a bone by including bonus missions (which flesh out the plot, but have no influence on it) where they take center stage again (as computer-controlled "Guests," natch.) However, since the player is free to refuse or dismiss these characters, it's entirely possible to never participate in their bonus missions.
  • Radiata Stories had 176 recruitable NPCs in addition to the main Player Character, which were split into two groups based on whether you sided with the humans or nonhumans in the middle of the game. Fortunately, it averted the upkeep problems that normally plague large parties (keeping them properly leveled and equipped): 1) you can't change their equipment, and 2) it's actually simpler to recruit new characters than level up old ones. (Especially since there's no Magic stat. Spells which do 300 damage at Lv.1 will still do 300 damage at Lv.100.)
  • Pokémon games fit this trope. Starting with Pokémon Gold and Silver, there have been hundreds of named human characters, on top of numerous supporting players and miscellaneous townsfolk throughout the various regions, as well as 649 types of Mons as of Pokémon Black and White.
    • Also, there are about 45 Gym Leaders (eight gym leaders through five generations, with some changing game to game, such as Juan replacing Wallace in Emerald Version).
  • Being the other famous Mons series, Shin Megami Tensei qualifies not only on sheer amount of recruitable demons, but also in the fact that those demons are oftenly involved with the plot. So it's kinda like Pokemon, if around half of the Pokemons were actually important characters.
  • The King of Fighters has, over the years, acquired an enormous cast. King of Fighters XI for PlayStation 2, for example, has 47 playable characters.
  • The Skyrim mod Interesting NPCs has 70 characters at present with more than 125,000 words of dialogue, and many more are forthcoming.
  • The Metal Gear series when considered as a whole has an impressive list of main and supporting characters. The wiki lists 126.
  • Baldur's Gate features 25 NPCs who can join your party. The most you can have with you at any one time? Five. The sequel made it better by limiting it to 16 NPCs, then made it worse by making their individual storylines more involved, with almost every NPC having a major personal quest, some having two.
    • Alignment restrictions may make a portion of the cast unplayable if your reputation is too good/evil. Add onto this the fact that your main character can be from any class (meaning you may require certain characters to fill party roles), and the large number of characters are necessary to actually make a decent party.
    • Made even worse in 2 by the genuinely interesting interactions between many characters, and the fact that, while a large selection of characters is varied, there are a number of characters who stand out as far better than the others. Coupled with how memorable the game is (strongly limiting replay value), and it's incredibly unlikely that you'll ever experience the majority of different party make ups, forever preventing you from seeing some of the most amusing lines.
    • The other Infinity Engine games avoided this on two fronts. First, the Icewind Dale series had no premade NPCs—you created the entire party, top to bottom. Second, Planescape: Torment had only seven NPCs (of which you could put five in your party), several of which you had to solve elaborate and by no means mandatory puzzles or look behind the obvious in order to get.
  • Collecting the 28 playable characters (each with their own elaborated backstory) is a relevant part of the gameplay of Valkyrie Profile. These characters very soon become so numerous that the it's hard for the player to feel attachment for any one of them.
    • This is justifiable because the basic premise of the game requires that you train up einherjar and send them to Valhalla to fight for Odin. You are not supposed to get attached to most of them. Coincidentally, the plot important ones for the best ending cannot be sent up, except Lucian, who must be sent up, so you are more likely to use and get attached to them. This is the most noticeable with Arngrim since he is the absolute first character you get (and one of the better ones on top of it).
    • Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria ups the ante by having 13 main characters (in various guises) and forty einherjar. You'll need to have at least three save slots to have every character, since each "relic" has a list of one to three characters, of which only one is obtainable at a time. You can also lose einherjar permanently. On the other hand, unusually there's only a single bad guy and a tiny smattering of NPCs who aren't playable at some point (not counting one-off bosses who have no scenes).
    • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume has about 19 playable characters (20 if you include Ancel the Guest and Crutch Character), and you have to play through the game three times on all three paths to get them all, since one playthrough will force you to take a path that will recruit one-or-two characters but also fight another as a boss. This also does not include the optional characters in the game that you get in the New Game+, many of which are either series characters or had appeared in Covenant of the Plume's story.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has 375 named NPC's that you can actually talk to and are important to quests, and hundreds more "NCR Trooper" or "Gambler" that you cannot.
  • Tokyo Majin Gakuen has 25 characters join the main hero, Tatsuma, and all have them have endings not to mention the many supporting characters some of whom also have endings. Then there are all the villains not to mention the different characters in the sequel, Gehouchou (all of whom are the ancestors of the main characters in the Kenpuuchou game) as well as the spin-off games and dramas.
  • The Summon Night series also has lots of characters and also has it's own continuity within the main games. Summon Night 2 in itself has loads of characters join the main character.
  • Ogre Battle has a lot of important figures in its storyline.
  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together has quite a bit. And like in Covenant of the plume, you can't recruit them all in one playthrough since taking one path will bar recruitment of some named characters, while taking another one may actually result in that character becoming a boss for that chapter or only showing up in the background. And even in Chapter 4, small variations on what you did may cause a character or someone related to show up.
    • But there are also some characters who join all the time, but have different roles or methods. For example, Haborym and Guildus will always show up in Chapter 3, but Haborym shows up in different roles, either being rescued or run into. Seleye will either join by an event or need to be rescued in battle, and in chapter 4, Kachua will either be hiding or actually in the battle against you.
    • Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is similar, but much more simplistic. Taking the "A" path makes Shiven and Cybil join, while Orson becomes a boss and Rictor also is fought twice. Taking the "B" path makes Orson and Rictor join, Rictor is only fought once, and Cybil becomes a boss. No clue where Shiven is, as he doesn't show up until very late on that path. It has a much smaller cast than other Ogre Battle games.
  • Harvest Moon has 200+ different characters over its various continuities (many of whom are expies of one another). The Nintendo DS-original entries (Harvest Moon DS and HM DS: Island of Happiness) have over 100 characters by themselves.
  • Most fighting games could be accused of this, but thankfully these characters rarely have any serious plot role. It is actually good, since in these games the relevance is in characters/opponents over levels generally.
    • Also, while there is a "sure" crew, many of the minor characters are scripted in and out in the blink of an eye... well, rather between games.
  • Touhou has accrued a substantial list of characters, and adds at least seven more in almost every game, only Shoot the Bullet not adding any. Discounting the PC-98 characters still leaves a good seventy, while even only including characters who have appeared in more than one game has several dozen remaining. This piece of fanart (NSFW due to advertisements) features all of them up to Double Spoiler, and gives some idea of the sheer scale of it.
  • F-Zero has had new characters in every game, with a huge jump from F-Zero to F-Zero X (30) and from F-Zero X to Maximum Velocity, though the number of new characters in each game has decreased after Maximum Velocity.
    • F-Zero GX has 41 playable characters, each with their own mini-biography, at least a dozen interview questions/responses, a theme song, and an unlockable CGI short.
  • For only being one game, the cast of Psychonauts is monumentally gigantic. This is especially remarkable given that they're all named and given voice-acting. 26 distinct characters at the camp, 9 at the abandoned asylum, and who knows how many within the mental worlds—though some of them are admittedly nameless NPCs.
  • The Super Mario Bros. series has a whole ton of characters in the series, with about 1300+ counted at present. In a similar way to the Sonic the Hedgehog series, most of the games and spinoffs put most of the characters on a bus after their first appearances, and the count that's actually appeared in multiple games or forms of media is probably about 1/15th of the total character count. That and the obvious Cast Herds where most characters are only found in one sub-series or media type.
  • Pop'n Music, a Rhythm Game series with 16 main arcade releases so far, introduces about 15-20 new characters with every new installment.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 features 56 playable characters, probably the record for any beat 'em up prior to the release of King of Fighters 2002 UM. To be fair, though, 95% of the roster is recycled from all of the previous games and it has two Wolverines.
  • Tekken 6 is catching up with around 41.
  • Infinite Undiscovery has a total of 18 characters, though most times only 3-4 at a time can be in the active party. There are instances of Let's Split Up, Gang! where more of your characters will be active, though even in those cases you don't have direct control over more than just your party. Some of your characters are explicitly never able to join the main party and can only come out for combat in those instances of multiple parties. Some of the characters are more plot relevant than others, but most of them get at least a little development.
  • While Disgaea 1 and 2 were stretching it with about 8-9 playable story characters per game, Disgaea 3 takes the cake with sixteen through the main story and playable epilogue. If that weren't enough, nearly every previous Disgaea character is downloadable, as well as a great number of characters from other Nippon Ichi games.
  • Although Skies of Arcadia has only six main party members, the 22 recruitable crewmembers for the Cool Ship bring the count way up.
  • That's to say nothing of Valkyria Chronicles, made by the same team. While only four of them (Welkin, Alicia, Rosie and Largo) are main characters, Welkin's squad consists of 50 playable soldiers, all of them named and with backstories and personalities of their own, which may make it hurt a little bit more if any of them should die in the line of fire.
  • Guild Wars currently has 27 heroes (customizable NPC party members). Despite this, you can only use seven of your heroes at a time. Through the in-game cash shop, you can even clone your Player Characters into Mercenaries, which are just personalized heroes for you to use. If you have not yet unlocked the heroes you want/need, you can also rely on henchman instead of human players, although their skills and equipment are usually not the best.
  • Super Smash Bros.. Brawl has a total of 35 player characters from 20 distinct series. The running joke when they were being revealed by the director week-by-week was "Which Nintendo characters aren't in Brawl?"
  • Kingdom Hearts is this, though it's to be expected considering it's a crossover between Disney and Square Enix with a dose of original characters. It's usually easy to keep track of them because they're split between different worlds, but then came the sequels.
    • Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II introduced Organization XIII, who all contain names with the letter X. In both games, most don't get any memorable screentime until Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days which makes it hard to distinguish between them and also brings in a few new characters that turn out to be different versions of Sora and not their own person.
      • If that wasn't enough, Birth By Sleep as the prequel introduces a whole load of new faces plus a few new faces of Xehanort, the master villain and now Kingdom Hearts 3D is set to introduce characters from Square Enix's other game, The World Ends With You. You're gonna need a diagram to keep track of who's who.
  • If they ever did create a Street Fighter game with every character from the mainline SF universe (which includes Final Fight), then you'd have possibly the largest cast of any fighting game ever, and that's not counting the EX series.
  • The Time Splitters series has made considerable increases in its multiplayer character roster, shooting up to 150 with the release of Future Perfect.
  • Impossible Creatures has all of these games beat, with 127,392 different possible creatures. There's an unfortunate amounts of Character Tiers despite the amount of creatures - on some water maps, Moosobsters are the only level 5 melee creatures worth using.
  • The Legend of Zelda has an insane amount of characters as the series spans an enormous time period. Of course, most of these characters are actually expies of each other (there are five different Fairy Companion characters, who are mostly indistinguishable from each other, and 10 different Links).
  • The Dynasty Warriors game series introduces more and more playable characters with each successive generation, culminating in Warriors Orochi 2, which has over 92 playable characters. That's not including all 30+ generic characters running around.
    • Warriors Orochi 3 has just over 130 playable characters, each with their own unique moveset, weapons, and voice acting. Advertisements prominently display this: this is the Dynasty Warriors "half" of the cast alone! (The other "half" being Samurai Warriors, and the rest being exclusives to the Warriors Orochi trilogy plus crossovers from other Tecmo-KOEI titles.)
    • Dynasty Warriors 6 was a significant step backwards, however.
    • The Dynasty Warriors: Gundam series not only drew on the loads and loads of Gundam characters, there are also loads and loads of Mobile Suits available for the characters to pilot (the second game topped out at 62 suits).
  • City of Heroes, being a MMORPG naturally needs lots of characters, but many of them are remarkably fleshed out. However, its casual-friendly nature, immense customisation, and many character slots cause many players to fall into this trope, creating far more characters than they can handle. We call it 'Altitis', and it's actually somewhat encouraged.
  • World of Warcraft, with all its characters from the precedent series and the Expanded Universe. Just look at this list of major characters.
  • In the Backyard Sports series, there are 30 (now 22) main characters, each with their own theme song, personality, and abilities. And I'm not even mentioning the commentators, the secret kids, and the hundreds of NPCs in the game, who all have a name.
  • Over the years, the Ace Attorney series has accumulated a vast cast of quirky attorneys, prosecutors, victims, murderers, witnesses, et cetera.
  • Final Fantasy VII on its own had a good amount of characters, but the Compilation and it's various gaiden stories have increased the cast by a couple dozen or three. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on and developing the already existing characters in the Compilation, they give the ones who didn't even need to exist in the first place all the limelight.
  • Defense of the Ancients has 95 (and counting) playable heroes.
  • Counting all of the recruitable characters and NPCs, Infinite Space has roughly 130-150 characters.
  • In the Mass Effect trilogy, the total number of people who can end up serving in Commander Shepard's Normandy crew adds up to about 21 squadmates and 24 other named and/or interactive crew members, plus several dozen other NPCs whom you'll probably never pay any attention to. And that's only the tip of the iceberg that is the Mass Effect cast; currently, this series has eight different character pages.
    • And we should note that those pages still lack several story and side-quest relevant characters, not to mention the various unnamed (but popular!) background NPCs like Refund Guy or Valley Girl Quarian and Friend Zone Turian!
  • Agarest Senki has no less than 34 playable characters, plus up to 6 captured monsters who can also join your party. Many of them are killed off to keep the headcount manageable, but then you can bring them back through alchemy. Or you could save money and just play the True End route and have all the dead characters back in the party for free.
  • Banjo-Kazooie basically has just the villain, the eponymous duo, and a few mentors as important characters, but the supporting cast of the series is huge. A poster was made for Banjo-Tooie containing all of the characters. They fill up the poster pretty well.
  • R-Type Final has 101 playable ships, although only three are initially unlocked. All of them have different weapons sets, and some of them are from earlier games in the series.
  • For a game with little in game plot, League of Legends has 90+ Champions a player can use, each with their own backstory and personality, however undeveloped they appear to be.
    • Also, they come out with a new champion every other week, so the roster expands pretty quickly.
  • For that matter, any MOBA, a draw of the genre actually. Despite some exceptions, this can show that this is not actually a bad thing - Defense of the Ancients has 108 characters, the Trope Codifier for the genre. The devs for these games are almost always nerfing, buffing, even redoing characters so that this can be a genre where people will try to win with their favourites, instead of just nothing but mirror matches, kicking people who like the Tier-Induced Scrappy, and a game of "Who can nab the Game Breaker first"
  • Okami is a pro at this. Every villager in every town and city is completely different, everyone actually has a name (if Nameless Man counts as a name). Not to mention the Dragonians, Sparrows, and the Oina tribe could have been easily written off as different examples of a Planet of Hats, but instead are all completely unique. Even the Emperor's Redshirt Army has a variety of guards that are actually necessary to forward the plot. What's additionally surprising is that about 99% of the characters from this 40-hour long game actually all have official art.
  • Both Paladin's Quest and its sequel Lennus II feature a surprising number of recruitable mercenaries for being SNES-era games.
  • Alpha Protocol does this, but it's made even worse that every single person you meet has some kind of secret agenda, and will try to manipulate you to their ends. It's basically a Gambit Pileup, except there really are that many gambits going on at once.
  • Inazuma Eleven has a Cast of Snowflakes of over 1,000 characters you can recruit and add to your team. The sequels expand on the cast; in the third game, the headcount has broken 2,000.
  • The cast of Nasuverse works tend to be immense. Ahem:
    • Tsukihime starts with your hero, his friend, five heroines, one almost heroine, three bad guys and a side character or two. Kagetsu Tohya adds Len, a few members of Akiha's extended family, Shiki's doctor, the doctor's daughter, Nanako and more. Melty Blood then adds Sion, Tatari and even more to that and then there's all the side material.
    • Fate/stay night has Shirou, three main heroines, one girl who didn't quite make it to heroine status, nine Servants, another four or five Masters, Taiga, Issei and numerous supporting characters. This may not count under normal circumstances, but when Fate/hollow ataraxia came around all these characters had greatly expanded roles, plus a couple of characters added, giving an impressively high headcount.
  • The Animal Crossing series has, amongst the 16 different human player characters and the several NPCs, more than 300 different villagers (of many different species and 6 unique personalities) that can move in and live in your town.
  • The mildly obscure NES RPG Destiny of an Emperor featured over 100 recruitable officers, not to mention several unrecruitable NPCs. Then again, it is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
  • The Japan exclusive 3d fighting game Tobal 2 features over 200 playable characters. Most of them are monsters that you can capture in Quest Mode, and several of those are Palette Swaps.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni starts out with eighteen characters stranded in a mansion on an island during a typhoon. Later episodes introduce a cast of witches, servants to the witches, and people living in a Bad Future that brings the cast up to well over forty people.
  • The Rance Series has hundreds as of Rance Quest Magnum.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Greystone Inn started out with just a few core characters, but quickly expanded, with minor characters getting plotlines that would last for weeks. When the original main characters started getting less and less time, the strip gave way to Evil Inc
  • Last Res0rt has at least 20 "main" characters to keep up with (12 criminals + 4 volunteers + 4 members of the Vaeo Family), not to mention staff and various other family members associated with them. The main justification? It's a Reality Show—which, in the tradition of most shows, has a huge cast (to start) and then settles down into more important Characters. There's also a few clans starting to emerge, which increase the numbers further.
    • The official cast page lists 40 characters, give or take whether you think Daisy is really Scout Arael or not. And it's out of date, especially with all the Star Org Cameos in Volume Two...
  • Sluggy Freelance. Granted it has been running for ten years, but still it has well over 50 characters.
    • At last count, 156 or so... according to this website.
      • At least he's pretty good about keeping the size of the core cast to remotely sane proportions. A lot of those 156 characters have been dead or Put on a Bus for years.
  • Red String has eight main characters, which doesn't seem like a lot. However, there are almost thirty secondary and tertiary characters, all of whom get as much development as the author can realistically cram in. This means there are some chapters where main characters (heck, the main main character Miharu, even) don't show up at all. Only two or three chapters so far—in forty chapters—have included most of the main characters at once.
  • Penny and Aggie has almost 30 characters on its cast page and regularly diverts attention from the two female leads to focus on them. Aggie in particular seems to have been demoted to supporting cast in her own comic.
  • Eight Bit Theater has the Light Warriors, the Real Light Warriors, the Dark Warriors, the Elemental Fiends, the Other Warriors, White Mage and Black Belt, Onion Kid, Akbar and Jeff, King Steve, Princess Sara, Left-Hand Man Gary, Matoya, Bahamut, Dragoon, Sarda, The Trickster God, Dr. Swordopolis, Dodecahedron, Darko the Dark God of the Dark, Chaos, and more. For added goodness, two strips showed the Light Warriors, the Dark Warriors, the Other Warriors, and Warmechall on panel at once.
    • Note that the Light Warriors, Real Light Warriors, Dark Warriors, Elemental Fiends, and Other Warriors are each made up of 4 characters. So that's a total of 37 listed here, and there's more supporting cast than that.
  • Everything you wanted to know and more about the cast of El Goonish Shive.
  • Something*Positive The main cast isn't overly large for a webcomic, but once you get to the past main characters (Jhim, Kim, Monette) to the supporting cast (Cab, Berenger, Claire, Anna, Lisa, Celie, The Teddy-Bear Liberation Front Guy, etc), things get a little crazy. Made worse by the occasional recurrer that only appears a total of five times in six years (Davan's friend Andy), and the fact that often a year goes by between Jhim or Anna appearances.
  • The cast page for Captain SNES lists 120 named characters - and it's incomplete. Including four different Links and the Nintendo Censorship Angel.
    • And along the same lines, how bout we introduce Kid Radd here as well? Tons of bit parts (hah) who were nonetheless named, or at least referenced in such a way as to make them notable...
  • Girl Genius, between the Circus, Castle Wulfenbach, Sturmhalten, Beetleburg, Mechanicsburg, the Knights of Jove, the Jägers, and the assorted wandering types... let's just say there are a big damn lot of people who go in and out of the story.
    • Kaja Foglio has stopped trying to maintain a big character bio page, and now just deletes the old page and starts from scratch at the beginning of each chapter, adding in characters as they become relevant. Only 10 pages into chapter 9, there's already seventeen characters up there, and that's not including the "Old Heterodynes" (included on the page for generic backstory) and the author-insert bit characters. Ten pages of comic. Seventeen characters.
  • New characters are introduced at a positively frightening rate in Magical Misfits. To be fair, they are usually given distinctive backstories, but it does somewhat lead to a Kudzu Plot.
  • Drowtales. There are several noble houses, each with its leader, officers, counsellors and soldiers. There is the imperial house - ditto. There are the demon-busting Templars - ditto. There are the renegades and diabolists - ditto. There is the great school, with its staff and pupils. There are Ariel's friends (where not previously covered). And that doesn't even start on the supporting characters, citizens and walk-ons. Plus, they all have long, straight white hair and narrow builds. There is a very good reason why the drow in this universe favour distinctive jewellery, facial decals, and hair dye patterns...
  • Schlock Mercenary has expanded into something of a Cast Herd over the years, and keeps getting steadily bigger.
    • While the company grows, we mostly follow the Special Ops squad and the officers, and people die in combat. Sometimes, they also come back. Tagon, Petey, and especially Kevyn, who did so three or four times in one story arc.
  • Arthur, King of Time and Space. Arthurian myth, being made of various legends and ballads bolted together by Malory, has Loads and Loads of Characters and AKOTAS includes most of them. (And the others are probably due to be introduced later.)
  • The Order of the Stick. After the inclusion of notable Azure City paladins and Greysky City thieves, the author seems a little quicker to kill off any new faces.
  • Irregular Webcomic, anyone? At least each theme are separate, sometimes...
  • Sins. You've got the Seven Deadly Sins...that's not so bad. Then consider that all but two have been replaced. And some have been replaced twice. And then there's the Seven Holy Virtues, the golems, the Vices, the hosts...and Murdock.
  • Get Medieval had the core group of Human Aliens, (Asher, Neithe, Torquel, Iroth, and Oneder), the Earthlings Asher and Neithe landed with (Sir Gerard and his family), Torquel and Iroth's bunch (mostly Duc L'Orleans), plus the bad guys, plus various popular secondary characters (Jacques the alchemist, Belle). And that's not even counting those who vanished once the story moved away from them.
  • The KAMics, although if you eliminate all the one shots & isolate characters who stick to their own series (usually) it seems a little more manageable.
  • Everyday Heroes has a cast page that lists twelve major characters, plus a couple of dozen minors, not including one-episode appearances.
  • N Fans The Series had practically an entire army of characters. Yes, they were all Self Inserts, but they actually played the trope rather well since most of them weren't afraid to have some pretty bad things happen to them. Sadly, because the plot fixated on a couple, at least half the cast was Put on a Bus or removed from the comic after getting very little screentime beyond their arcs. (Team Lalala was one of the worst, having been left on the same screen for almost a year of real time.)
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, even the artist has admitted that there are too many characters to keep up with, with at least one of the main characters in the beginning being moved to nearly invisible.
  • Hazard's Wake. So many damn characters! At least the author eventually had the good sense to stick them into one of three groups and rotate them ala Four Lines, All Waiting.
  • Wapsi Square used to have dozens of them, but now the main cast has been downsized (reducing best friends and significant others to bit parts) to just eight. And their multiple personalities and personal demons. Not bad for a comic that is mostly about Monica's bust :).
  • Khatru has four main characters and twelve (and counting) minor ones.
  • The Walkyverse has over 100 characters.
    • "Over 100"? At the end of It's Walky! (six and a half years ago), there were 247 named or otherwise identifiable characters.
  • Juathuur has almost 50 characters in the part one cast page. At least 20 of them are very, very important to the plot.
  • Sonichu has at least 30 characters in only 10 issues.
  • Aylia is sent to college by her parents, mocked by her sister, and one roommate is replaced every semester. This doesn't account for even a quarter of the cast.
    • Everybody in this strip has a name and personality, and blood relation with each other. Only the one in the firs panel is part of the core cast.
  • Questionable Content has a massive cast, leading to many characters ending up overlooked much of the time. There's Marten and his roommates, as well as other people in the building, the Coffee of Doom workers, Deathmole, various people at the college where Marten works, and even a few robots.
  • Homestuck has: four kids (twice if you count their dreamselves as separate characters), their four (or five) respective guardians (and in some cases the guardians' guardians), the four Exiles, Jack Noir and his three minions, the twelve trolls plus their custodians, one round-headed First Guardian, Andrew Hussie... and that's not even getting into the more incidental characters like the Felt, White and Black Kings and Queens, the trolls' Ancestors, and so on. A full list can be found here.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob has at least Bob Smithson, Jean Poule, Molly, Princess Voluptua, Galatea, Snookums, Hibachi, Rocko Sasquatch, Fructose Riboflavin, Agent Ben, Agent Jerry, Djali, Mr. Bystander, Dean Martin, Floyd Fitznewski, Heywood J. Lookathat, Abby Primrose, Ahem, Oogrook/Rainbow Sunshine, the Bear, the Grammar Squirrel, and the Halloween Monster. That's not counting characters who've only appeared in one story so far, like Mook, Goona, Zodboink, or Zippobic...
  • The Mansion of E has 30 main and semi-main characters listed on its cast page.
  • Wayward Sons: Over 30 characters, with more being introduced periodically.
  • Our Little Adventure is getting there, with over forty characters notable enough to get an entry in the character sheet section of the website.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Homestar Runner has a relatively small core cast (twelve main characters), but add in all the spin-offs that are counted as part of the series' world and the list of recurring characters alone pushes triple digits.
  • The Whateley Universe is still growing. There are something like 15 Canon authors, writing 20 or so protagonists. Then there are all the other main characters and friends (and enemies and teachers) at Super-Hero School Whateley Academy. There are supposed to be nearly 600 students, plus dozens of teachers, researchers, security officers, and so on. It seems like we've met about a third of them. Maybe more. Plus the families of the main characters, an assortment of heroes and villains outside the school, ... Since there are now something like 150 novels, novelettes, short stories, novel chapters, and vignettes, it isn't surprising that we've met hundreds of characters. So far.
    • One fan put together a spreadsheet: the authors may have introduced or namechecked 80% of the roughly six hundred students currently at Whateley Academy. And we got to meet every new student who started in Winter Term.
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe, at its peak, had 132 active player characters, some 400 inactive or retired player characters, nearly 25 "starter characters" (that is, characters used to allow brand new players to quickly get their feet in the doors), and 10,232 named, fully-realized non-player characters once the supervillains, support staff, and returning normals were all tallied up.
  • Broken Saints features about forty speaking roles, over half of which are major players in the plot.
  • Every season of Survival of the Fittest has a very large cast, with over one hundred students and several terrorists on top of that. One of the test runs had two hundred students. Of course, by the end of a season only one student is left, but it's still a huge cast.
    • Version 3 itself hit the two hundred mark, and that isn't even counting those who didn't get into the game or NPC characters.
    • V4 has 276 students total playing in the game. Add to that terrorists, teachers, family members, friends, students not in the game....
  • AH Dot Com the Series. The AH.com has a crew of about twenty, as do the ships of many of their recurring villains and allies, and then there's all the people they might meet in this week's timeline. Usually an episode will only focus on five or six crewers and the others just get one or two lines each.
  • Tales of MU starts by introducing the two dozen girls that live on protagonist Mack's floor and goes from there.
  • Alternate History timelines can span centuries, of not a millennium or more. Hence, they also tend to have this, like Decades of Darkness, Look to the West and the Chaos Timeline.
  • The League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions.
  • That Guy With The Glasses. It doesn't help that there's lots of Alter Ego Acting going on. Makes writing Fan Fiction very confusing indeed.
  • The Bounty Hunter Inn topics at GameFAQs tend to have this, as except for the latest administrator everyone has at least one player character... and can introduce as much NPCs as needed. Thankfully, many of these go unheard of if their creator quits, unless they were deeply connected to the current Arc.
  • As Darwins Soldiers is an online RP which has had eighteen writers across two forums, with no limit to the amount of characters a writer can control, this is a given.
  • Some Journal Roleplay games get into the hundreds of characters.
  • Parodied in this Upright Citizen's Brigade sketch
  • The Salvation War. The number of characters you really need to keep track of is pretty reasonable, and helped by the large number of real life people, but the number of minor characters quickly goes off the charts. Not helping is that many of Hell's residents have absurdly long, complex names.
  • Red vs. Blue began with five characters (Church, Tucker, Grif, Sarge, and Simmons), but by the end of just the first season, the cast had grown to ten (4 Blues: Church, Tucker, Caboose, and Tex; 5 Reds: Grif, Simmons, Donut, Lopez, and Sarge; and Vic. Eleven if you count O'Malley, twelve if you count Sheila.). Since then, a number of new, important characters have been introduced, including six important Freelancers (Wyoming, York, Wash, South, Maine, and CT), three new A Is (Gamma, Epsilon, and Delta), two aliens (Crunchbite and Junior), other members of the Red and Blue teams (Captain Butch Flowers, Sister, and Doc (who's technically neutral)), Andy the Bomb, and this doesn't even begin to cover more minor characters with recurring roles who just aren't seen as often (Vic and the Green Alien, for example). Even after several characters dying (or "dying") or otherwise leaving the plot, the main group at the end of the eighth season still consists of ten people. (Tucker, Caboose, Wash, Sarge, Grif, Simmons, Lopez, and Donut in the real world, Tex and Church in the capture unit). This is exasperated with Season 9 being split between the Blood Gulch group inside the capture unit and the Freelancers (all the ones listed above plus ones that have only been mentioned PLUS the Director, the Operator, and the Pilot).
  • Trinton Chronicles has 5 main authors and 2 part-time authors; 15 main characters, 20-something secondary, and over 100 throw-away characters.
  • Fate Nuovo Guerra is heading toward this way, what with the infinite servant, master and magus slots.
  • The Insane Quest of Unfathomable Randomness: While the number of characters may not be as large as that or Darwin's Soldiers, it is still fairly sizable. Despite characters occasionally being Put on a Bus due to player inactivity, the core cast rarely dwindles below twenty, and nearly every seemingly minor NPC introduced by the GM is almost guaranteed to gain a more important role later on. The Character Sheet for the RP currently lists 56 characters and growing.
  • Inevitable in Chaos Fighters due to every new installment contains entirely new characters, save for a few recurring characters.
  • Draw Your Own Story has accumulated tons of self-inserts, as well as canon characters taken from other works. Here's a pic, and there's not even half of everyone in there.
  • YouTube Poop is basically this with various random characters appearing out of nowhere.
  • With each member having access to at least four characters, Marvels RPG has ended up with this.
  • The ever-growing Geodesic Cast of The Trading Post.
  • The Gungan Council has had over 8,000 members, each creating at least one character, with many forever lost due to the site's transfer to Yuku and the ezHack. But that's just the entire site's twelve year history. At any one moment, the current number of characters per faction averages at at least 25 active at the time, not including lurkers, bumping the character count at the time to around 200.
  • Were Alive: Over a dozen main cast members who are often split into multiple storylines.
  • Being a universe made by dozens of writers, and including the entire world in that setting, Metamor Keep.
  • RWBY from Rooster Teeth -- as of the end of Volume 3 in 2016, there were 56 named characters with speaking parts.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Wikipedia contains expansive entries for forty named characters in Exo Squad, nine of them in The Squad alone. And they are not being particularly thorough at that...
  • Due to its long run, the number of characters in The Simpsons that could be considered regular is at least 30-50, possibly even more.
    • There is a poster that actually lists the characters that have had more than one episode, and it was well over 100. There are even T-shirts of this (though this one is almost 10 years old, and enough characters have been introduced since then to fill another t-shirt size crowd shot.)
    • The Movie managed to in some way, even if only in a background shot, include almost every single character from the series. Some of the crowd shots were clearly intended to create Easter eggs for the DVD.
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood has a long list of characters at the beginning of the show. Many more get introduced as the series progresses, but only a handful of the original cast survives the series. (Everybody else has died due to cold, old age, hunters, producers who just cut them out of the show without a single explanation, and others) the 'survivors' are Fox, Weasel,the Rabbits, Owl, the Squirrels and Toad.
  • Justice League started with a core cast of seven heroes, and a handful of recurring villains. Starting with the third season, they make it a true league, and at one point state that they have at least sixty members (not counting a few rogue agents like Huntress and Hawkman), plus the villains, plus two of the Cadmus folk. This meant that at the very least, these characters would be seen in the background in the Watchtower, or in fights, and several got moments to shine.
  • The aptly named Legion of Super-Heroes is basically the same idea applied to the DCU as seen in the 31st century. Its format, however, tends to be "the core plus one or two guest members," with larger numbers turning out for major threats.
  • Teen Titans' final season has the team meeting up with other young heroes, typically having one main Titan defending one or more less experienced members from villains. It's a good thing, too, since nearly every villain in the show's history, down to even long-unseen one-shot villains (but excluding most Big Bads) had also teamed up. It all comes together in a two-episode Battle Royale With Cheese. Even being dead when last seen was no excuse for a hero or a villain to not be in on that one.
    • Seasons 1 through 4 though don't particularly follow this trope: there's 5-8 major cast members and maybe a dozen recurrers.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man has the obvious ones, Spidey, Gwen, MJ, Aunt May, Norman Osborn, Harry Osborn, JJJ... and then there's three cops, four co-workers at the Daily Bugle, and eight or nine other people at Peter's school, and that's not counting the seventeen supervillains and at least five future supervillains.
  • Young Justice has a huge amount of characters in addition to the core 8 (as of season one) teen heroes. By Greg Weisman's own estimation, 174 existing DC characters showed up in the first season alone.
  • Batman: The Brave And The Bold plays this trope straight. Kind of the point, since it was envisioned as a superhero team-up show that would draw characters from across the DC Universe.
    • Aside from characters from the aforementioned series, pick out any popular Marvel character and it's a good chance they're on The Superhero Squad Show.
  • Futurama, to the point where one of the last shots of the final DVD Movie was a massive crowd shot featuring every character except the children (to keep continuity with a line that stated they weren't there) purely as a fan-pleaser.
    • It helps that the cast consists of several Men Of A Thousand Voices.
      • In one of the DVD commentaries, someone wonders what it would be like to have a machine that can mimic every character's voice, to which someone else replied "We do, it's called Billy West."
  • Gargoyles helped keep track of additional characters through a Cast Herd; everyone is connected through their primary associations. Of the main characters there is Goliath, Hudson, Brooklyn, Broadway, Lexington, Bronx, and Elisa; with Xanatos and Fox being second only to them. Then there are individuals like Matt Bluestone, Macbeth, and Demona. After that there are the various groups like The Pack, the Mutates, the Hunters, the Avalon clan, and the magical creatures like Puck, Oberon, and Titania. And then there are the characters that are the lesser seen including the England clan and family members that show up like Elisa's family, Foxs' father, and Xanatos' dad.
  • Total Drama Island, in a way; there are really only twenty-two contestants (upgraded to twenty-four as of Season Three), plus Chris and Chef, in the main cast with a few very minor cameo characters. But at least at the beginning of the series, any one of those twenty-two could have been considered a main character; there was no way to tell who was going to be "the star," and the focus changes between seasons (to some degree). This was quickly remedied, though, since a character is usually kicked off every episode. Every contestant winds up being an Ensemble Darkhorse with a chance for future Character Development, though.
    • The fourth season, Total Drama: Revenge Of The Island will now add thirteen more contestants, bringing the total count up to forty main characters.
  • King Arthur and the Knights of Justice had twelve knights, nine main warlords, two magic users and those were the main characters. Not surprisingly, Character Development was a sparse resource.
  • The Venture Brothers has Team Venture itself, the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, the Monarch henchmen, the Guild of Calamitous Intent, OSI, the Order of the Triad, the original Team Venture, and dozens of other supporting characters.
  • Handy Manny focuses on quite a lot of the residents of Sheet Rock Hills. In fact, there are ten main characters: Manny, Kelly and the tools.
  • Hey Arnold! has dozens of recurring characters, many of whom got their own spotlight episode. Even more surprising, and in a rarity for an Animated Series, despite having several Voice Actors known for their range as part of the cast, most of the actors voice only one major character each.
  • Star Wars the Clone Wars doesn't really have a regular cast aside from the obvious Anakin and Ahsoka duo and occasional Captain Rex, Artoo, Padmé, 3PO, Obi-Wan, and Cody thrown into the mix we still have a huge band of jedi that appear from time to time. To prevent Badass Decay and making Grievous, Dooku, and several other Seps a daily sight, the makers specifically designed the Tactical Droid as a disposable enemy that they only have to paint in a different color.
  • Looney Tunes has many characters, apart from Bugs and the gang. Only a majority of them are one-shots.
  • The Closing song of Phineas and Ferb "Roller Coaster the Musical" features almost every character in the whole show from Phineas to Meap.
  • There are no fewer than 30 characters listed in the character sheet for The Amazing World of Gumball.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers sported four main characters, but at least a dozen Recurring Characters on the hero side and an expansive Rogues Gallery. There were even recurring background characters. Mandell estimates that the series has over 300 characters once all the background ones are factored in.
  • My Little Pony has hundreds of characters, each show introducing a new cast of characters. There are even more Ponies in the source toy line.
    • Let it be known that MLP has the rare ability to bring stock background characters into the canon. This is due to the fanbase creating various names and backstories for anypony that appears on screen. The most (in)famous case was Generation 4's Derpy, whom the fans lovingly named months before her canon debut.
  • Of all the many Transformers continuities, Transformers Generation 1 actually has the most characters.
  • Recess has had about 105 characters appear in the series (and only a few of them are included on the character sheet!)
  • Adventure Time is quickly becoming this trope. The majority of the cast includes one episode appearances like Penny and the Magic Man and background characters like Lollipop Girl and Gumdrop Lass. The show also had the distinction of nearly doubling the entire cast in just one episode. That episode was "Fionna and Cake", in which the main cast and Candy Kingdom residents were all genderbent.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • There are seven billion people in the world. Kind of puts everything else to shame, doesn't it?
  • The Chinese Language has over 40,000 characters.[9]
  • If you go to a service in a Catholic/Orthodox church, you will hear lots and lots of characters being mentioned. Visit a Protestant one, and you will often hear just about one. This can be pinned down to Protestant churches mainly focusing on Biblical characters, whereas Catholic/Orthodox churches also focus on the saints who lived in the years after the timeline of the New Testament canon.
  1. Current total - 74
  2. Manwë and Varda, Ulmo, Aulë and Yavanna, Námo (Mandos) and Vairë, Nienna, Oromë and Vána, Irmo (Lórien) and Estë, and Tulkas and Nessa
  3. Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod and Amras
  4. no, really
  5. 20 or 21 depending on if Heather Sinclair counts
  6. 36 or 37 if you count Heather Poulette
  7. The series has had 54 main characters, over 50 recurring without a bump up to main character, and two ghosts named Heather.
  8. 4 kids + Dave's sprite + 12 trolls + Jack + Jack's 3 minions + 4 agents/exiles + 4 Midnight Crew Members = 26 so far. Add in Andrew Hussie, the reader, Snowman, an imp, Maplehoof, Serenity, and various inanimate objects like a piano, a fridge, a hat, a safe, Equius's shades, the sky above LOWAS, and Cal, to make 42.
  9. That is, characters as in written symbols, not as in story characters.