Loads And Loads Of Races
A especially large variety of fantastic races (or intelligent species) appears in a work.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-02-19 13:37:20 sponsor: LouieW edited by: ArcadesSabboth (last reply: 2012-11-23 08:40:43)

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Indexes: Fantastic Sapient Species Tropes, Speculative Fiction Tropes

The previous (game-specific) version of Loads and Loads of Races has been renamed to Massive Race Selection, which better fits its purpose as a game mechanic trope. For discussion about that, this thread may be a good resource. This YKTTW is for the missing supertrope of that game mechanic trope that is going to be transplanting to the Loads and Loads of Races name. The supertrope is not media-specific.

Since I am not so experienced with YKTTW, I would definitely appreciate any feedback anyone would be willing to give about this trope.

BTW, if you have examples of playable races, you can just add them to Massive Race Selection, which has launched already.


One common way of cementing the grand scale of a fantasy or science-fiction world is to include a wide variety of different sapient races. As is often the case in speculative fiction, "race" in this trope actually means species, or sub-species -- we aren't talking ethnicity or skin color here. And racing is right out.

When you have 15 or more, not counting hybrids, you have Loads and Loads. Note that this trope can't be an Informed Attribute; the creator needs to give each race at least a little description, screentime, or artwork.

In science-fiction, Loads and Loads of intelligent species may be a way to distinguish planets from one another and display the diversity one might expect to see traveling across the galaxy or universe. For example, one world might be inhabited by a group of reptilian aliens while another could be full of Starfish Aliens or even Eldritch Abominations. Fantasy works might be more inclined to incorporate Petting Zoo People into their diverse world, but the fantasy and science-fiction uses of this trope tend to be fairly similar overall.

Single gender races are not uncommon in works with Loads and Loads of Races. Some of the races included in such works may be Always Chaotic Evil or serve as Evil Counterpart Races to another group known for being more heroic. Having many different races tends to involve Hats, though highly detailed Multicultural Alien Planets can be an effective way of mixing things up.

The differences between each race also need not be incredibly large, and they might not even be entirely separate species. So long as the creater of a work makes a point of distinguising between them in more than just culture, all of the races could be similar-looking Human Aliens.

Sometimes a race is less a biological species, and more of a mutation or modification (such as werewolves, zombies, cyborgs, vampires). Some works treat these as mere variants of whatever they used to be, but in other works they are treated, for all intents and purposes, as separate species.

May be a sign of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Contrast with Five Races and Fantasy Axis of Evil, in which a fantasy work uses a limited, common selection of heroic and "evil" races respectively.

When a game lets players choose their character or team from a great number of playable races, it has a Massive Race Selection instead. Note that card games do not involve "playing" a race, so their examples are listed here instead.

Examples:

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • Tower of God: Besides normal humans there are the Red Witches and Silver-Haired Dwarves, the Da'an tribe, which are a docile tribe of giants with eight eyeballs around their head, at least 3 kinds of Horned Humanoids, 3 kinds of Winged Humanoids, 3 kinds of Lizard Folk, several races with eggheads and varying numbers of eyes, shape shifters, shrimp people, all kinds of Amazing Technicolour Population, giant slimes, dog people and many more.
  • Dragon Ball: Frieza's army is made up of members of countless different intergalactic races, the Other World is populated by the deceased members of even more races, and then there's all the different races introduced in GT. Finally there's the races the series focuses on the most: humans, Saiyans, Namekians, Frieza's unnamed race, Majins, Kais, Ogres, and the humanoid animals that live on Earth alongside humans.
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[[folder:Card Games]]
  • Duel Masters follows suit after its "parent" game, Magic. This is an unquestionably long list, and still growing. A few (like Starnoid and Pegasus) are exclusive to only one creature.
  • Magic: The Gathering is very much this. Aside from Humans there are: Amphin, Angels, Aven, Bird-Maidens, Centaurs, antelope Centaurs, deer Centaurs, Cephalids, Changelings, Cyclopes, Dauthi, Demons, Devils, Djinn, Dragons, Dwarves, Dryads, Efreet, sentient Elementals, Elves, Eumidians, Faeries, Flamekin, Giants, Goblins, sapient Golems, Gorgons, sapient Gorillas, Hags, Homarids, Iquati, Kami and other sentient Spirit races, Kithkin, Kitsune, Kor, Lammasu, Leonin, Loxodon, fishtailed Merfolk, Merfolk with legs, flying Elf-Merfolk, Metathran, Minotaurs, Mistfolk, Mycoids, Myr, Nantuko, Nezumi, Nightstalkers, Noggles, Ogres, Orcs, Orochi, Ouphes, Phyrexians, Puca, Rhox, Sangrazuls, Selkies, Serpent people, Slivers, Soltari, Soratami, Sphinxes, Surrakar, Thalakos, Thrulls, Treefolk, Trolls, Vampires, Vedalken, Viashino, Werewolves, Wolfir, the talking Wolves of Tel-Jilad... since the game pulls creatures from about 50 different planes, it's kind of justified.

    And that's not even counting subspecies. Just counting the types of goblins there are common Dominarian Goblins, Kobolds, Rathi Moggs, Mercadian Kyren, Mirran Krark-Clan, Kamigawan Akki, Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Boggarts, Redcaps, Hobgoblins, and Spriggans, ratlike Jund Dragon Fodder, and Phyrexian Squealstokes.
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[[folder:Comic Books]] [[/folder]]

[[Folder:Fan-Fiction]]
  • On the Shoulders of Giants has twelve spacefaring races in the Local Cluster alone. Given that it's technically set in the Mass Effect universe, this is on top of the eleven or so canon races.
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[[folder:Film]]
  • The Star Wars series is an extreme example of Loads and Loads of Races, as the galaxy that serves as its setting has over 20 million sentient species. Even the first movie showed loads of races (though not too many non-humans in the main cast), and the Expanded Universe delights in detailing more and more of them, numbering in the hundreds.
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[[folder:Literature]]
  • Animorphs, very much so. You have your main races: the Andalites, Yeerks, Hork-Bajir, Taxxons, Skrit-Na, Helmacrons, Gedds; and your less mentioned but described ones like Arn, Anati, Kelbrid, Nesk, Mercora, Venber, Iskoort, Garatron, Orff, Leerans, Howlers, Ketran (the Ellimist is one), robot Chee, and extinct Pemalites, plus sapient whales and dolphins.
  • China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle has at least 15 sapient races (and possibly several more whose identity as separate sepcies or merely cultures hasn't been made clear), and that's not counting multiple types of undead, self-aware Dungeon Punk robots, Demons, elementals and Wyrmen who seem to be a borderline case.
  • H.P. Lovecraft mentioned or sometimes showed a few dozen aliens and other unpleasant things that want to drive you insane, then eat you in the Cthulhu Mythos. Subsequent authors and co-writer have expanded this greatly. That's not even getting into the godlike deity-aliens. Overall there are at least 30 intelligent races described.
  • Discworld started with humans, trolls, and elves -- although even this was explained in the context of Rincewind trying to work out why there were still dryads. Then gnomes and dwarfs got added in The Light Fantastic, and gnolls in Equal Rites. Then Reaper Man added zombies, vampires, werewolves, weremen, bogeymen and banshees. Then Lords and Ladies introduced The Fair Folk, so the elves that had been vaguely mentioned previously had to be explained as Half-Human Hybrids. Feet of Clay added golems, and Carpe Jugulum added the Nac Mac Feegle (and the Igors, if they count as a race). Thief of Time included yeti. Unseen Academicals introduced orcs and featured the first mention of goblins, who would go on to play a major role in Snuff (as well as a throwaway reference to a "Medusa" in the Watch). (And Night Watch had a brief mention of kvetches, but never really explained what they were beyond being covered in hair).

    In the same vein as the Golems we get Gargoyles. On a stranger front, we get Demons, Things from the Dungeon Dimension, and certain Anthropomorphic Personifications (Time specifically, but maybe each one can be seen as a separate race). Also gods, genies (Sourcery), Auditors of Reality, occasional sentient dragons (The Colour of Magic and Guards! Guards!), "Stupid Lizard Men" (presumed extinct as of The Last Hero) and Furies (Unseen Academicals)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a total of 29 races spanning throughout the entire six-book series.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Arda (the world of Middle-earth) is inhabited by 16-17 distinct intelligent species or subspecies. First of all it has "Men" (regular humans), Hobbits (little people), Elves, Dwarves, Ents (walking, talking trees), giant Eagles, Hounds of Oromë (sapient giant dogs), Drúedain (Neandertal-like dudes), and talking ravens. Then there are the Ainur (regular and fallen angels) and the various Always Chaotic Evil monsters spawned by demonic corruption and mutation of normal people and animals -- Orcs, Dragons, Werewolves, talking giant Spiders, Stone-Trolls, and Olog-Hai Trolls.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Besides the managerie of beings in Narnia: Dwarfs, Fauns, Dryads (tree nymphs/gods/spirits), Centaurs, Stayrs, Naiads (water nymphs/gods/spirits), Giants, Unicorns, Winged Horses, and Talking Beasts, Other various beings are mentioned in certain books: The monsters and demons in the White Witch's Army (Evil Dwarfs, Evil Giants, Werewolves, Evil trees and plants, Ghouls, Boggles, Ogres, Minotaurs, Cruels, Hags, Spectres, People of the Toadstools, Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses, and Ettins), the Humans from Calormen, Archenland, Telmar, and the Islands, Stars, Merpeople (traditional half human-half fish hybrid), Sea People (aquatic, water-breathing humanoids with purple hair), Duffers/Monopods/Dufflepuds (one-legged Dwarfs), Dragons, Sea Serpents, Giant Squids, Krackens, Birds from the Sun, Marshwiggles, Gnomes(who look a little more like Petting Zoo People or devils with pitchforks than whimsical, diminuitive cousins to Dwarfs), and Salamanders.
  • The likely world record for Loads And Loads Of Races almost certainly belongs to Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, in which literally every species of mammal, bird, amphibian, or turtle on Earth has an equivalent intelligent race. An unspecified number of insect (Plated Folk) and spider (Weaver) species likewise come in sentient as well as mundane varieties. Humans are also present, as are numerous other intelligent races, some with a mythological basis (dragons, fairies, unicorns) and others made up from scratch. All told, that's got to be tens of thousands of races at a minimum, possibly over a million.
  • David Brin's Uplift Universe spans 5 galaxies which are packed with vast numbers of alien species, since they all keep genetically uplifting animal species to create new races. Not only are there thousands or millions of oxygen-breather species grouped in the various Galactic clans, but there are also very exotic retired races, hydrogen-breathers, sentient machines, quantum races, Solarians, and transcendent races. 215 have been named so far, with over 80 encountered or described in detail.
  • In the Xanth series there're humans, centaurs, goblins, harpies, merpeople, demons, nagas, elves, werewolves, fauns, nymphs, ogres, giants, zombies, ghosts, and several other regularly-mentioned races.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • At least 25 different races have appeared in Andromeda.
  • In Babylon 5 the Milky Way has a large number of (usually humanoid) races -- the major players near the Babylon 5 station are Minbari, Centauri, Narn, and Humans, plus the two Precursor races, but then there's the League of Non-aligned Worlds, a collection of at least a dozen minor powers, including the Drazi, Markab, Vree, and Pak'ma'ra. And then there're other species that only turn up once or twice like the Dilgar, the Streib, and the Soul Hunters. The Babylon Project wiki lists 77 known intelligent species, and is missing at least 2 more.
  • Doctor Who has Time Lords, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and their enemies the Rutan Host, Ice Warriors, Zygons, Tereleptils, Silurians and Sea Devils, the Nestene Consciousness, Zarbi, Menoptera, Eternals, Osirans, Usurians, Monoids, Alpha Centaurians, Axons, Argolin, Foamasi, intelligent cacti from Zolfa Thura, Tractators, the Cheetah People, Haemovores and their giant cousins the Great Vampires, Tharils, Macra, Krynoids, and even humans. Then the new series introduced Raxicoricofallapatorians (often mistakenly called the Slitheen), Ood, Judoon, Sycorax, Adipose, Pyrovillians, Saturnynians, Crafayis, Malmooth, Weeping Angels, the Silence, and many other background races and individuals. Don't even get started on the Doctor Who Expanded Universe of which one race, Chelonians, have been mentioned in the new series...
  • Star Trek. The humans, the Vulcans (space elves), the Romulans (the Vulcans' nastier cousins [So... Space Drow?]), the Klingons (Proud Warrior Race Guys), the Borg (Bee People), the Cardassians (spies and assassins), and the Ferengi (interstellar merchants) are the most prominent ones. A lot more that turn up only in individual episodes or plot arcs, and others are represented by a main character (Betazoids, Trill, Denobulans...) The Enterprise crew encounters a new alien race not quite Once an Episode. Of course, that's their mission. The result is a galaxy populated by at least hundreds if not thousands of races, of which all but a very few seem to be either Human Aliens, Rubber-Forehead Aliens, or Space Elves.
  • The Stargate Verse has around 22 known races, around half of which only appeared in a couple episodes. Of those that didn't, we have humans, the Goa'uld and their Jaffa mooks, the Asgard, the ascended Ancients and their evil counterparts the Ori, the Wraith, and the Replicators and their Pegasus Galaxy counterparts the Asurans. Then there's the Ursini who menaced the crew of Destiny, and the Berserker Drones who appeared not long before SGU's cancellation.
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[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
  • Classical Mythology features many "races": Ordinary mortals, gods (including titans and daimones), nymphs, cyclopes, giants, centaurs, satyrs, fauns, and six-armed Gegenees; plus various bizarre Human Subspecies: headless Blemmyes, one-eyed Arimaspians, dog-heads, one-legged Skiapodes, four-legged Artabatitai, hermaphroditic Makhlyes, short-lived Kalingoi, mouthless Astomoi, ageless Makroboi, Golden and Silver Men, and more.
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[[folder:Toys]]
  • BIONICLE: Toa-Matoran-Turaga, Makuta, Vortixx, Rahkshi; the Visorak, the Skakdi (which include the Piraka), Zyglak, and various unnamed races in the Matoran Universe. Agori, Glatorian, Skrall, Bone Hunters, Great Beings, and Elemental Lords on Spherus Magna.
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[[Folder:Video Games with loads of non-playable races]]
  • Earth Eternal started beta with 22 PC races. Note that they are mechanically identical; all 22 play the same with nary a stat or ability difference, thus they don't give Massive Race Selection. In-universe, however, they're all entirely separate species (mostly Petting Zoo People, plus Plant People, Clockwork dudes, Cyclopes, Yeti, and Warcraft Orcs with the serial numbers filed off). Then there were the non-playable races in the lore -- mushroom people, tree people, vampires, liches, humans, Dor'kana aliens, demons, gods, creepy Dwarf/Mole-Rat guys, the extinct Maar, and more Petting Zoo People. Sadly, the actual game only has 12 PC races, presumably still with no mechanical distinction.
  • Guild Wars 2 features Humans, Asura, Charr (Cat Folk), Norn (Norse giants), Sylvari (plant people), Centaurs, Dredge (communist molerat people), Giants (several subraces), Grawl (ape people), Hylek (Mayincatec frog people), Kodan (polar bear people), Krait (snake people), Ogres, Quaggan (pacifist manatee/whale people), Skritt (hiveminded rat people), Tengu (bird people), and some more familiar fantasy races. Only the first five are playable, disqualifying it for Massive Race Selection.
  • Kingdom Hearts not only has all the races from various Disney worlds, but also the Heartless, Nobodies, Unversed, and Dream Eaters, though whether they count is a matter of contention.
  • The Legend of Zelda has loads of non-playable races: Across the entire series there have been Hylians/Humans, Goblins (subdivided into Moblins, Bokoblins, Miniblins, Bulblins, and Big Blins), Fairies, Dragons, Zoras, Gorons, Kokiri, Skull Kids, Sheikah, Gerudo, Deku, Tokay, Koroks, Picori/Minish, Twili, Ooccas, Kikwis, Mogmas, and many more.
  • Super Mario Bros. has a massive ammount colorful and unique races. The ones with bigger focus on them in the main platformer series alone are Humans, Toads, Koopas, Yoshis, Piantas and Lumas, with many other minor friendly ones here and there. The sentient races that tend to stick to the Mook side of things add Goombas, Koopa Troopas (and their many variations), Lakitus, Shy Guys, Boos, Bob-ombs, and several others to the list. Take into account the races added by the RPG subseries, the many, many spin-offs, and the Shared Universes with the Donkey Kong and Wario series, and the numbers skyrocket faster than you can say "Mamma Mia!".

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[[folder:Webcomics]]
  • Drowtales may qualify, largely as the result of curses, transformation spells that couldn't be reversed, and genetic engineering experiments. Specifically, you've got: elven races (dokkalfar, drowolath, drowussu, vanir, ver'drowendar, and xule'solen), dwarven races (duergar and gnomes), goblins (embari, halmes, rift halmes, hemoines, kotorcs, and noz), ferals (normal cat, squashed - face cat, and racoon variants), nagas, driders (waeliniders, streekaiders, and ne'kalsaiders), dryads, and locust faeries.
  • The Order of the Stick has plenty, based as it is on D&D, but it also has a surprisingly broad distribution among the actual characters. Even discounting random monsters, there have been at least three named characters for each of the following: human (Roy, Haley, Elan), elf/dark elf (Vaarsuvius, Lirian, Zz'dtri), dwarf (Durkon, Hilgya, Kraagor), halfling (Belkar, Serini, Hank), half-orc (Thog, Therkla, Bozzok), kobold (Yikyik, Kilkil, the Oracle), lizardfolk (Gannji, Enor, Malack), goblinoid (Redcloak, Jirix, Right-Eye)—plus the occasional sylph (Celia), gnome (Leeky), catfolk, weird frog person, ogre, etc.
  • Schlock Mercenary features humans, neophants, primates, amorphs, F'Sherl-Ganni, Pa'anuri, Frellenti, Fobott'r, Vhorwed, Uniocs, Uklakk, Schuul, O'Benn, Kssthrata, Daehremmah, Ystreben, Kreelies, Bradicor, and Enireth. Members of each of these have been prominent protagonists or antagonists of at least one story arc.
  • In the El Goonish Shive storyline "Dan in the MUD" this is lampshaded when the jinn lists countless races to choose from to play as.
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[[folder: Web Original]]
  • The Orion's Arm setting contains millions of different "clades." Most of these are terragen (descended from Earth life) and include Human Subspecies (some of which look more like Starfish Aliens) and provolved animals. There're also AIs, cyborgs, robots, sentient vehicles, and at least 17 extant xenosophont species that have been identified, and only about a 10,000 light-year radius sphere of the galaxy has been explored.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • The original My Little Pony cartoon. Earth Ponies, Pegasus Ponies, Unicorn Ponies, Sea Ponies, Flutter Ponies, Bushwoolies, Grundles, Furbobs, Stonebacks, Flories, Crab Nasties, and more.

    The G4 My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic seems to trim the pony populace to just the first three (Celestia and Luna are unique as they are technically goddesses), but there are also appearances of other talking and civilized animals such as zebras, griffons, donkeys, mules, cows and buffalo. Applejack's family keeps sheep that need to be herded despite being fully capable of speech, and even the nontalking animals show considerable sapience. Also dragons.
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