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[[quoteright:350:[[Series/{{Friends}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_friends.png]]]]

->''"Depending upon which of these interesting characters you focus, the same incident will behave like the surface of the ocean, changeless yet ever-changing. In other words, there may be but one event but as many stories as there are people to tell them."''
-->-- '''Gustav St. Germain''', ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'', "The Vice President Doesn't Say Anything about the Possibility of Him Being the Main Character"

In most cases, the protagonist is a defining element of fiction. It is he whom the plot revolves around and, usually, the one the audience is supposed to empathize with most.

However, some shows decide to do something different--there is no one protagonist. The plot and its narrative don't revolve around a single, "most important" main character. Instead, it shares a cast of characters with (almost) equal screentime and importance to the plot. This is called an Ensemble Cast. This type of narrative is interesting because it highlights the relations between different characters by taking away the importance of a single character.

In addition, it allows the writers to focus on different characters in different episodes freely, without worrying about giving the main character not enough screen time.

On the other hand, it can also result in a work that lacks focus and drive. Something must unite the events other than the main character. Most of these works therefore fix on a restricted setting and stick to it like glue.

RotatingProtagonist is a subtrope of this. See also AllStarCast for instances where putting a bunch of stars in the work leads to no one star getting the bulk of the focus.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/SevenSeeds'' has a cast of originally 40 characters, separated into five teams of eight people. [[DwindlingParty Some characters]] [[AnyoneCanDie end up dying]] [[PutOnABus or disappearing]] for some time, though the main cast can still count at least 20 people.
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'': There's no main character. {{Discussed}} in the beginning with Carol and the newspaper vice president in their debate about which of the characters is the main character.
* ''LightNovel/{{Durarara}}'' in the same way as ''Baccano''. They're based on books written by the same author. Although some readers mistake Mikado for the protagonist, since his arrival is what kickstart the plot and he is the first one to narrate the story and receive plot focus, the author has since stated that, if anyone is the protagonist, it's Celty.
* ''Anime/{{K}}'' has a world with seven powerful [[CastFullOfPrettyBoys Kings and their Clans]]. Several of these Clans are shown, and their Kings and several Clansmen from each are given fairly even focus. The first season seems to focus on Yashiro Isana and his companions, but they aren't really main characters. The movie and second season are definitely this - [[spoiler: Shiro only shows up for the very end of the movie, and has a more backseat role in the second season, though he does deliver the last blow to the antagonists]]. In retrospect, one could say [[spoiler: Saruhiko Fushimi]] is the second season's main character, but only in retrospect - he gets the most development when you think about it, but he doesn't do much until the last few episodes. The [[AllThereInTheManual side-story novels and manga]] expand on this, giving a lot of development to the Red and Blue clan's "Alphabet Boys" - teams of {{Bishonen}} under the Kings and more major characters, both of which have names that go down the alphabet.
* From the beginning, ''Manga/SoulEater'' has been as much about the Black*Star/Tsubaki and Kid/Liz/Patti teams as it is about Maka and Soul.
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes''. Hardly surprising, given [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters just how many characters]] there are that it essentially ''has'' to do this to give anyone screen time. The clue's in the title, too.
* ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys'' starts out with Kenji as the protagonist, but after the events of the "Bloody New Years Eve" (which happens fairly early in the story), the focus spreads out evenly among the casts. Kanna has a more central role than the others, but not enough focus to call her the "protagonist".
* ''Anime/{{Simoun}}'' collects over a dozen main characters with roughly equal screen time towards the end.
* A lot of SliceOfLife anime can easily fit into this trope:
** ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'' definitely is an example of this trope. It mainly centers on the antics of the main cast without straying too far into one another. Arguably there are more [[ADayInTheLimelight Sakaki stories]] than anyone else, but it doesn't get to the point of her being the main character.
** While the first half of ''Manga/LuckyStar'' focuses on the main FourGirlEnsemble, the late half of the series also focus on the other FourGirlEnsemble, thus fitting into this trope well.
* ''LightNovel/MagicalGirlRaisingProject'' doesn't really have a protagonist per se, the degree of who is the most protagonist differs in each book.
** In ''Unmarked'', Snow White, Ripple, and Swim Swim can be considered the main characters as these three gets the most development.
** By ''Restart'', who one might consider the protagonist is a bit blurrier. One can consider Pechika as the protagonist of Restart, as she feels similar to Snow White. Some can also argue that Pfle and Nokko-chan can be considered as the protagonist of Restart.
** When ''Limited'' kicks in, nobody really feels like the protagonist. Even Unmarked survivor [[spoiler: Ripple]] comes across more as a BigGood than a protagonist. If desperate enough, one may interpret [[spoiler: Pythie]] as a VillainProtagonist.
** ''JOKERS'' also has the same vibe as ''Limited'', where nobody is a stand out protagonist. This is lampshaded by Prism Cherry, who wants to be the protagonist in her story; however is just another normal person.
** In [[AllStarCast ACES]], the amount of previous book survivors in the story is at an all time high, which causes this trope to play straight; since everybody was to some extent a protagonist.
** Since ''QUEENS'' technically [[spoiler: has the same cast as ACES, minus the ones who died]], this trope is played pretty straight. Though, because as of the time of the writing of this example; QUEENS is still in progress, this may change in the forseeable future.
** ''Snow White Raising Project'' ambigiously had [[spoiler: Pythie Frederica]] as a VillainProtagonist who oversees the events of the short story.
** The short stories in ''Episodes'' focuses on specific characters in each chapter, such as Alice in "Zombie Western", Top Speed in "Playing with Top Speed", or Clantail in "Clantail and Friends".
* ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'', by its very nature. While it originally started with the "World 8" (Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, America, China, England, France) in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, due to its source material being world history the cast has expanded ''considerably'' to include a lot of other countries. Many of them have grown prominent in both canon and fandom that it's reached the point wherein there's no real main character anymore or that ''everyone'''s one. [[FridgeBrilliance Much like world history, come to think of it.]]
* ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'': While Nanoha herself is pretty clearly the protagonist of the first season, later seasons and works begin splitting the focus up between more and more characters.
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' starts off focusing on Eren Jaeger and his two closest friends, but soon expands its scope to include almost every character of his regiment, and then some.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Any comic series focusing on a SuperTeam aspires to be this. Examples:
** ''ComicBook/TheAvengers''.
** ''JusticeLeagueOfAmerica''.
* ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', which gives about equal time to [[SociopathicHero Rorschach]] (the supposed protagonist), [[GadgeteerGenius Nite Owl]], [[PersonOfMassDestruction Dr. Manhattan]] and [[ActionGirl Silk Spectre]], as well as some intervals from InnocentBystanders point of view.
* ''ComicBook/TheTransformers'' as a whole had a large cast and tended to put the spotlight on as many characters as possible, [[MerchandiseDriven especially the ones that currently had toys on sale]]. That said the comics tend to spread attention to as many characters as possible with little focus on a single protagonist. It helps that when it came to older toys the writers had a KillEmAll attitude.
* In ''ComicBook/DCTheNewFrontier'',while Hal Jordan and J'onn J'onnz get their origins retold, The Flash, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all get their own story arcs.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/HonorableHogwarts'' did this to the ''Franchise/HarryPotter'' universe, giving LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters roughly equal focus and Simultaneous Arcs.
* ''Fanfic/AdultStuck'', a FanSequel to ''{{Webcomic/Homestuck}}'' (see ''Webcomics'' below), does this.
* ''Fanfic/TangledAdventuresInArendelle'': The story begins with focus on Rapunzel and Eugene. However, once Disney/{{Frozen}} finishes its movie story, the focus gets split between Rapunzel, Eugene, Anna and Elsa for focus. Creating a much more balanced story overall.
* ''Fanfic/TheUrthbloodSaga.'' While the titular badger is in many ways the central character, he's not the protagonist (we only rarely see things from his POV, in fact). The focus shifts to a variety of characters and groups.
* Being a ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic, ''FanFic/TheConversionBureauTheOtherSideOfTheSpectrum'' already has an [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters impressive roster of characters]], but what's possibly more impressive is how many besides [[TheHero Marcus]] are given enough development, characterization, and viewpoint to be protagonists in their own right, partly because the fic has several side-stories [[WorldBuilding expanding upon its world]] and its extensive MythArc.
** The main story already has [[ShellShockedVeteran Marcus]], though [[CloudCuckoolander Canon!Lyra]], [[BadassTeacher TCB!Cheerilee]], [[KnightInSourArmor TCB!Trixie]], Canon!Celestia, [[{{Troll}} Canon!Discord]], possibly the [[TrueCompanions Canon!Mane 6]], and [[AxCrazy Viktor Kraber]] (who gets enough screentime and [[TearJerker characterization]] to possibly serve as the tritagonist of the Battle of Boston) take up plenty of the spotlight as well.
** The Europe side-story's protagonist, [[MajorlyAwesome Stephan Bauer]], also has considerable importance in the main story, being a {{Deuteragonist}} and acts as TheLancer to Marcus. He's also backed up by his fellow Bundeswehr soldiers and the ponies they take in.
** [[CelebritySurvivor Yon-Soo]] is the main character of the Asia side-story, but the story centers primarily on the FiveManBand consisting of him and his teammates [[SupportingLeader Porter]], [[CoolOldGuy Aitmatov]], [[ActionMom Aquamarine Glimmer]], [[TheEeyore Melnik]], [[TheMcCoy Hyong-Jin]], [[BruiserWithASoftCenter Firebrand]], [[DemolitionsExpert Sergei]], [[AnIcePerson Blizzard Flurry]], and [[CheerfulChild Comet Tail]], who also get plenty of backstory and spotlight for themselves to be more fleshed out.
** [[PopCulturedBadass Isaac Acevedo]] serves as the Starvation side-story's protagonist, alongside his friends [[MouthyKid Button Mash]] and [[OmnidisciplinaryScientist Dr. Grimnebulin]].
** ''Last Train From Oblivion'' has the crew and passengers of the [[CoolTrain CPX-9782]], a RagtagBunchOfMisfits struggling to get away from the barrier and to safety alive and sane. More specifically, it centers mainly on [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Canon!Lightning Dust]], [[BloodKnight Verity Carter]], and [[EmotionlessGirl Tess Jones]].
** ''Shades of the Unsung'' is largely centered on the viewpoint of a unicorn named Inkwell, who had previously appeared in the ''Calm Before the Storm'' side story (which is a series of snippets with no set protagonist). From a narrative perspective, he counts as a SupportingProtagonist as [[GrumpyOldMan Rockwell]] and [[BrokenBird Soundstorm]] are planning a mass jailbreak. At the same time is the [[NoNameGiven unnamed]] [[BadassTeacher former headmaster]] of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns working alongside Sunset Shimmer to topple the Solar Empire from behind the shadows.
** ''Adrift'' is told in the form of an interview of a pony named Stellar Wind recounting his experiences with a RagtagBunchOfMisfits and smugglers during the early days of the war.
** ''Light Despondent'' is set midway through the war. It has two protagonists - one being a filly named Dancing Day, who's hearing about this through the FramingDevice, and the other being the aforementioned Viktor Kraber.
* Due to the great amount of [=PoV=] characters, ''FanFic/GameOfTouhou'' presents a case of this trope.
* Like in the [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic source material]], there's a cast of six in ''WebAnimation/DusksDawn'' and no one pony has the most focus.
* ''Fanfic/YoungJusticeDarknessFalls'' and ''Fanfic/YoungJusticeTitans'', being extensions of the ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' story utilize this to the fullest, though Beast Boy, Nightwing, Superboy and Ms. Martian do get a lot of focus within the different focuses.
* ''Fanfic/RoyalHeights'' with a main cast of seven characters, the perspective and focus alternates constantly. There are some plots and characters that receive more development than others in specific arcs though they always manage to intertwine with the main conflict or someone else's subplot.
* The FanFic/ElementalChessTrilogy does this in the RotatingProtagonist fashion, with no single character claiming the focus of more than one chapter at a time. It's a very large ensemble, however, so some characters get the limelight a bit more often than others.
* ''Fanfic/{{Intercom}}'': Like the movie, there are several lead characters from the main 6, with Fear, Joy and Riley getting extra attention.
* ''Fanfic/PokemonTheOriginOfSpecies'' shares the role of primary character between three protagonists. They avoid typical PowerTrio interactions, with Leaf being the reporter who wants Pokemon to be treated with respect, Blue wanting to become League Champion and guide the continent to a safer future, and Red being the researcher who is looking into how Pokemon work and what's it all mean, anyway.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Disney's ''Disney/WinnieThePooh'' series started to lean into this vein later on, in that while Pooh was still the title character, several characters such as Tigger and Roo started getting leading roles in features, and for some even ''their own theatrical movies''.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/GrandHotel'' is a story about the various people that check into the titular hotel and the dramatic events that happen to them over two days. It was a big hit, and [[FollowTheLeader inspired imitators]] such as ''Film/DinnerAtEight'' (the various people invited to a fancy dinner) and ''Film/TheCaptainHatesTheSea'' (the various people aboard a cruise ship).
* ''Film/PulpFiction'' has multiple protagonists who follow their own plot and their ways only cross at random.
* ''Film/InglouriousBasterds''. Despite the Basterds being in the title of the movie, it puts the same focus onto them, Col. Landa, and Shosanna Dreyfus.
* The movie ''Film/{{Crash}}'' focused on several characters and the racial tensions between them.
* Many of the films of Creator/RobertAltman, especially ''Film/{{Nashville}}'' (which interconnects a series of vignettes in and around the title city), ''Film/ShortCuts'' (a {{Crossover}} adaptation of nine Raymond Carver short stories), and ''Film/GosfordPark'' (which interweaves many subplots above and below stairs, although Kelly Macdonald's character comes closest to being the protagonist).
* ''Film/TheAvengers2012''. The lead characters first appeared in their own respective movies before teaming up for this one.
* ''Film/{{Waiting}}'', you can more or less pick who you want the main character to be.
* ''Film/TheLongVoyageHome'', a story about sailors aboard a merchant vessel during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, is a classic ensemble piece. No single character is the protagonist, and Creator/JohnWayne, the biggest star in the cast, has little to do until late in the film.
* Some of the Soviet propaganda films made by Creator/SergeiEisenstein. Both ''Film/{{Strike}}'' and ''Film/TheBattleshipPotemkin'' lack a protagonist, being portraits of group struggles against oppressive capitalist bosses (the former) and the oppressive Tsarist state {the latter).
* ''Film/SeparateTables'' boasted an AllStarCast that included Creator/BurtLancaster, Creator/DeborahKerr, Rita Hayworth, and Creator/DavidNiven, along with several other supporting characters. No single character stands out as the lead, which didn't stop Niven from winning an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for BestActor for 16 minutes of screen time.

* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' has thirty-one viewpoint characters, some with more chapters than others, and switches between them every chapter. [[Series/GameOfThrones The TV series]] does the same. This is why none of the actors, not even the top-billed Creator/PeterDinklage, ever submit for Lead Acting at the Emmys.
* ''Literature/BeautyQueens'' has chapters from the point of view of many of the contestants and doesn't focus on any one of them in particular.
* The ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' series. While Sam could generally be called the protagonist (though there are always large portions of the story not focused on him), ''Lies'' moves all the way into this trope, with Sam getting equal or less attention than Astrid's struggle to lead the council and care for her brother, Sanjit and the island kids trying to fly to the mainland, power struggles among the Coates kids, Mary's growing mental problems, and many other subplots with the rest of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters.
* Another example is ''Literature/TheSoundAndTheFury'', which has four viewpoint characters that each get equal time, and Faulkner has said that the actual "hero" of the story is Caddy, who is not given a viewpoint at all.
* The ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' series features six characters who swap first person narrations between books. While you can argue that Jake is the central most character, there really is no true main character.
* The first book of the ''Literature/HyperionCantos''. All the pilgrims have equal importance.
* ''Literature/LonelyWerewolfGirl'' and ''Literature/CurseOfTheWolfgirl'': while Kalix is the titular character, all the rest of the cast have equally important and almost separate storylines. Especially noticeable in Curse where Thrix, and Malveria's story arc, have no contact at all with Kalix's.
* ''The Saga of Seven Suns'' by Kevin J Anderson has a vast number of characters, with each chapter focusing on one character, much like ''A Song Of Ice And Fire'' does. Obviously, some characters get more focus than others.
* ''Literature/{{Satyrday}}'' has the story being told from the viewpoint of every important character, and the number of protagonists is at least 4 for most of the story.
* Creator/StephenKing has a couple of books that could arguably fit this trope, chief among them ''Literature/{{It}}'' and ''Literature/TheStand''.
* Every ''Literature/WarriorCats'' arc after the first focuses on a group of characters with roughly equal screentime and importance, with each of them getting various turning points and focal segments.
* ''Literature/TheRailwaySeries'' gave individual novels to many engines and even different railways, and while many appeared more so than others, there was never a definite lead character (or at least not until [[WesternAnimation/ThomasTheTankEngine the TV series]] was made...).
** Even ''WesternAnimation/ThomasTheTankEngine'' had something that could be called an ensemble cast. While Thomas was given emphasis as the main character many of the other engines had multiple episodes where they became the central focus. There were even a few where Thomas himself has little more than a cameo, sometimes not even appearing at all.
* This is one of the main ways the ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'' novel ''Literature/DeathStar'' distinguishes itself from the rest of the EU. Rather than revolving around at most three or four main protagonists like most other works, it instead has a large, well-developed cast of supporting characters ranging from Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin on down to one of the stormtroopers.
* In Creator/ErinMorgenstern's ''Literature/TheNightCircus'', we have many, many different characters, although Celia and Marco do manage to eke out being the many characters.
* RickCook's ''Literature/LimboSystem'' shifts among many crewmembers of the human ship, and even some of the aliens, about the FirstContact story.
* Creator/LMMontgomery's ''Literature/ATangledWeb'' goes through many stories of the family members in the year before it is revealed who will finally inherit the most prized antique that Aunt Becky owned.
* Creator/AleksandrSolzhenitsyn's ''Literature/TheFirstCircle'' features LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters whose stories all revolve about a single ''sharashka''.
* Creator/AleksandrSolzhenitsyn's ''The Cancer Ward'' revolves about life in a cancer ward in Soviet Uzbekistan, and featuring many characters.
* ''Literature/{{Elantris}}'' switches between the viewpoints of three main characters. Near the end, a number of previously background characters get in on the act.
* There are four narrators to Redfern Jon Barrett's ''Literature/TheGiddyDeathOfTheGaysAndTheStrangeDemiseOfStraights'' - each central to the plot.
* The ''Literature/StarDarlings'' franchise has 12 main girls, each with her own book, as well as several Starling adults and inhabitants of Earth.
* The ''Literature/VillageTales'' series has loads and loads of hyper-vibrant characters and no single protagonist unless, perhaps, it is The Land Itself that is the protagonist.
* In keeping with its TabletopGaming roots, the original ''Literature/Dragonlance'' Chronicles featured a large ensemble cast with the Heroes of the Lance. That said, authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman definitely gave some characters more screen time than others, such that some of the Heroes are DemotedToExtra. The latter characters have, however, gotten some more screentime in more recent novels, whether by Weis and Hickman or by other authors.
* Subverted by ''Literature/TheLegendOfDrizzt''. While the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden is typically the main character, in some cases he serves as TheIshmael to the main plot which is driven more by one of the supporting protagonists. There are also {{Switching POV}}s where the action is taken off Drizzt to other protagonists. Several short stories and novels even have {{Rotating Protagonist}}s, where Drizzt doesn't appear at all and one of the other supporting characters is the lead.
* This is a central concept of ''Literature/{{Unique}}'', in which the plot revolves between four different groups: Vampires, Werewolves, Magi, and Veiðimaðr (Hunters). Often the same scene will be retold multiple times, each time from the point of view of a different character - and things come across quite differently depending on whose point of view it is.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' and [[Series/StargateAtlantis its]] [[Series/StargateUniverse spinoffs]] all have several main characters, and no single character is ever presented more prominently then any other. The casts of both ''SG-1'' and ''Atlantis'' changed fairly often, with only a few characters being present throughout their entire runs.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' is a borderline case. There is an Ensemble Cast, but Jack has a more central position than the rest (as was finally made clear in the last season). Just not enough to call him the "protagonist".
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' has Emma as the lead protagonist, but each primary characters, as well as some secondary and minor characters, get a good majority of screentime and each of their backgrounds are focal points throughout the series.
** While Emma usually has the most prominent role in the present day storylines, she rarely has flashback episodes centered on her (the current rate is one every two years), while characters like Snow, Charming and Regina average 3-4 a year, and Rumple, Belle and (starting with Season 2) Hook are guaranteed at least one episode totally to themselves per season.
* ''Series/ModernFamily'' really doesn't have a main character, and focuses on all three branches of the family pretty much equally.
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'' famously had six main characters. All six main characters appear in every single episode, with (usually) equally divided up screen time. The [[{{TrueCompanions}} cast themselves]] insisted they be paid the same amount and each be concealable for Lead Role award nominations. At one point they even had a chart marking the number of lines and jokes each cast member got, to make sure it was even.
* ''Series/{{Heartbeat}}'' originally focused on village bobby Nick Rowan, but as the cast changed and expanded, the show developed an Ensemble Cast.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' was one of these. Unlike the other Trek series where the focus was firmly on The Captain, DS 9 gave pretty much equal airtime and weight to all its characters from Rom on upwards.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' had a small recurring cast, and main focus was given to Captain, his NumberOne and android Data. The series gave each of its main characters focus episodes in later seasons.
* ''Series/{{Casualty}}'': has a regular turnover of cast and no fixed stars so everyone gets a storyline.
* ''Series/AlloAllo'': Started with the focus on Rene, but the comedy hijinks and the sheer number of Once An Episode catchphrases necessitated the whole cast share the limelight (this is quite common with UK sitcoms, Red Dwarf, Are You Being Served, Dads Army, Mongrels et al all have an Ensemble to spread the weight and storylines.
* ''Series/{{Caprica}}'' has about four characters who could be considered the main character - Daniel Greystone, Zoe Greystone, Joseph Adama and Clarice Willow.
* ''Series/{{Community}}'', although the pilot introduces Jeff Winger as the protagonist and the episodes with TwoLinesNoWaiting generally have Jeff working the A plot.
* At least on paper, Seamus O'Neill was the main character of ''Series/KeyWest''. And in the credits, it might have seemed that way. The truth was something entirely different, as O'Neill was actually very rarely the central character in any given storyline.
* ''Series/{{Parenthood}}''
* In ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', [[TheGoodCaptain Captain]] Malcolm Reynolds is ostensibly the main character, although all of the characters get [[ADayInTheLimelight a significant amount of focus]], and the [[NobleFugitive River]] / [[DefectorFromDecadence Simon]] subplot is probably equally important to the main story overall.
* ''Series/TheWestWing'' turned into this despite initially being thought of as being a show about Sam Seaborn. Led to a lot of cast/pay trouble.
* ''Series/{{Glee}}'' started out focusing mostly on a few characters (mainly Rachel, Finn, and Mr. Shu), but as formerly minor characters were given subplots and [[AscendedExtra background characters became actual characters]], the glee club, most of the teachers, and some students from other schools are arguably main characters.
* The ''Series/{{CSI}}'' franchise shows are all described as ensemble casts.
* ''Series/CriminalMinds'' rarely has ever had fewer than seven main characters. Notable exceptions were the episodes between Elle leaving and Prentiss joining, Gideon leaving and Rossi joining, and most of season six.
* ''Series/{{Skins}}''.
* ''Series/{{Misfits}}''.
* UK police show Vexed changed the female lead for its second series, having originally planned to change the male lead as well. The first series comprised only three hour-long episodes, an extreme example of BritishBrevity.
* Most long-running soap operas and dramas which are or were broadcast on a daily, weekly or year-in, year-out basis, such as ''Series/{{Doctors}}'' and ''Series/HolbyCity''.
* ''Series/TheWire'' seems at first to be about Jimmy [=McNulty=], but how many characters it has and the fact that Jimmy barely shows up in season four makes it clear that it is actually about the city of Baltimore as a whole.
* ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'' is obviously centered on MainCharacter Jerry Seinfeld as a {{protagonist}} but as the show goes on and more focus is put on the roles of his surrounding friends (which often even extends to [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters a web of recurring characters]]) the Jerry character himself becomes less of a protagonist and more as [[EnsembleCast part of an ensemble]]. A noted early instance of this gradual shift in motion is in the season two episode "The Busboy"; an episode focused on both George and Elaine's problems and Jerry takes the backseat. This role of gradual less focus is lampshaded many times throughout the series, particularly in '"The Opposite" where Jerry points out how both his friends have switched roles and are having good (George) and bad (Elaine) things happening to them, meanwhile he remains to 'breaks even'.
* ''Series/{{Treme}}''
* ''Series/DowntonAbbey'' has at least fifteen characters spread out between "upstairs" (the Crawleys) and "downstairs" (their servants), and almost every one of them is involved in a personal plotline of some sort.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'', rather than focusing solely on Harmon Rabb and his female partner as in the first season, became an ensemble cast beginning in the second season. Even fairly minor characters had episodes putting them in the spotlight.
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}''
* ''Series/NCISLosAngeles''
* ''Series/{{Matador}}'' is mainly about two families, but other characters (like servants, friends of the families) get a lot of screentime too.
* ''Series/{{Baywatch}}'' was described by Creator/DavidHasselhoff as this.
* ''Series/{{TheOfficeUS}}'' revolves around the entire staff of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. Michael, Dwight, Jim, Pam, and Andy could be seen as the main characters but almost every character had at least one episode [[ADayInTheLimelight in the limelight]].
* ''Series/{{MASH}}''
* ''Series/HappyEndings'' had an ensemble cast of inexact but {{lampshade| hanging}}d ''Series/{{Friends}}'' {{expy}}s who'd split up in groups of two or three for surreal hijinx.
* While ''Series/ServantOfThePeople'' started off with one protagonist, it gained an ensemble cast in the eighth episode.
* ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow''. While Rip gets to give the opening narration and is ostensibly the leader, the actual amount of spotlight everyone gets tends to be split pretty evenly ([[OutOfFocus unless you're Carter]]).
* ''Series/PartyOfFive'' splits its' focus evenly between its' four starring actors.
* ''Series/OrphanBlack'' is an interesting borderline case. Although it's clear Sarah is the main protagonist, as the show evolved Alison, Cosima, Helena and even Rachel were given their own storylines that at times were completely independent of Sarah's. The case is interesting because all of the aforementioned characters were played by the [[Creator/TatianaMaslany same actress]].
* ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' has five main characters- Frank, Charlie, Dennis, Mac and Dee. In any given episode any of them can be the OnlySaneMan and any of them can be the focus of the episode.
* ''Series/{{Boohbah}}'' has this with the five Boohbahs, Humbah, Zumbah, Zing Zing Zingbah, Jumbah, and Jingbah, who are given completely equal focus in the series.

* This trope is a standard for the vast majority of [[TabletopRPG TabletopRPG's]], as they are expected to provide entertainment for all players, which usually includes giving all their characters similar ammount of spotlight. If it isn't in play, then either the game has a very atypical concept, or the GM is running it incorrectly.

* Quite a few of Shakespeare's plays are this, most notably ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'' and ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing''.
* ''Theatre/AChorusLine''
* ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods''
* ''Theatre/{{Rent}}''
* ''Titanic The Musical''
* ''Theatre/AnythingGoes''
* ''Theatre/SpringAwakening''
* ''Theatre/{{Grease}}''
* ''Theatre/YouCantTakeItWithYou''
* ''Theatre/{{Hairspray}}''
* ''On the Razzle'', a farce by Tom Stoppard.
* ''Our Country's Good''
* The late 15th century English morality play ''Everyman''.
* ''Theatre/LaRonde'' consists of ten scenes, with no character appearing in more than two scenes.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'': some members of the ensemble (Terra and Celes in particular) do get more screen time and Character Development than others but it's a minor thing.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'': The CharacterFocus bounces all over the place, and its official protagonist was a last-minute addition in order to keep tradition.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' was officially described as having Ensemble Cast for a while, then later marketed the game as being "the first ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' with a female main protagonist", [[InternetBackdraft prompting a good bit of the fandom to cry sexism]]. It didn't help that Lightning ended up having a bit of a PinballProtagonist problem that caused her to often be overshadowed even with CharacterFocus on her in the greater franchise.
* Most of the horror in ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' is because of this trope. Out of the 15 students, the only one that can be considered a main character in the first chapters is the player. This makes it very difficult to predict who will be murdered.
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'': ''Subspace Emissary'': Ultimately, the "star characters" are whoever you prefer to play as, since there's no real arc or characterization. Although the game does seem to feature [[Franchise/{{Kirby}} Kirby, Dedede and Metaknight]] [[SpotlightStealingSquad over the rest of the characters]].
* ''VideoGame/MegadimensionNeptuniaVII'' takes this approach. The first act mixes things up by featuring the two previous protagonists equally. The second gives each [[PhysicalGod CPU]] their own independent but interconnecting sub-chapter. By the third, everyone has equal investment in the plot, and the story isn't afraid to switch perspectives or focus on the new characters who are driving the story. Neptune, who is [[MediumAwareness completely aware she's supposed the be the series' main character]], finds this existentially uncomfortable.
-->''"This is practically protagonist fraud at this point. I'll take this to court! I'll sue and I'll win!"''

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' has nearly a dozen main characters, most of whom have had at least a short story focused on them. If the series has a central character, it'd be Church (who is arguably indirectly responsible for almost everything that happens to them), but there's plenty of time in the spotlight for everyone else.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/RumorsOfWar'' combines an Ensemble Cast with RotatingProtagonist (plus TwoLinesNoWaiting and regular [[TimeSkip Time Skips]]) to create a Cast-Go-Round. The first and third [[StoryArc Story Arcs]] mostly follow Elysia and Nenshe, while the second and (allegedly) fourth arcs follow Illyra and Occela. The characters also seem to spend a lot of time talking about things that happened in between the story arcs, with Obadai stepping in to [[{{Mentors}} provide advice]] and [[DeadpanSnarker commentary]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' is the king of this trope, with ''[[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters over forty characters]]'' all being focused on at one time or another, with frequent perspective changes. John is supposedly the main character of the comic, and was the main focus of Acts 1 and 2, with Act 3 covering all four of the kids' perspectives, as well as the Exiles, although arguably focusing more on Jade than anybody else. Act 4 also focused on John, but was more of an ensemble than before. Act 5 Act 1 has the story told with 12 protagonists, but focusing on Karkat more than anybody else. Act 5 Act 2 is the best example, divided between 20 characters with no clear focus. Act 6 switches between the [[spoiler: Alpha Kids]] but focuses mostly on [[spoiler: Jane]].
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' tends to focus on groups of two or more more of the main 8 characters and a few supporting characters at a time.
* ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' started off with focus on Ariel but the cast kept growing until there was 4-5 important story arcs running at the same time with equally important characters. Currently there was nearly a year where Ariel was never seen with more important plot lines hogging the pages. All those layers of plots of even greater importance that live in the background and probably will burst into foreground in the future.
* ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob''--While Bob is the main character (at the very least, because his WeirdnessMagnet status drives everything else), the supporting cast gets a lot of screen time. Molly, Galatea, Roofus, Rocko, Jean, and Voluptua have each had story arcs focusing on them.
* ''Webcomic/StandStillStaySilent'' has no well defined protagonist, with currently 6 characters charing the spotlight almost equally.
* ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'' divides its focus between three groups of characters: the titular sextet of Goblins (of which none can be accurately called the main character,) Dies Horribly and his fellows, and [=MinMax=] and Forgath, a pair of human adventurers. All three groups are given roughly equal screentime, despite one of them not consisting of any goblins at all.
* ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'' confuses some new readers because while the comic is named after Charby, he's only one of many main characters. The story tends to rotate focus through the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters.
* ''Webcomic/PvP'' has no single "main character".
* ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors'' split face time among the four protagonists so that none of them is THE protagonist, plus other characters such as Tanica (who spends the first fourteen chapters of the comic in the form of a TREE) get a ton of development and focus too.
* ''Webcomic/KarinDou4koma'': Comes with the SliceOfLife nature of the comic. The series mostly revolves around Karin-dou and Elza's household, though.
* ''Webcomic/{{Consolers}}'', a comic about AnthropomorphicPersonifications of game companies, is this by its nature. Any company can be a "main character" in their own strips and stories (though the "big 3" console creators tends to get most of the atttention overall)
* {{Webcomic/Tales Of The Galli}} has a sprawling cast of over 30 characters, none of which are in the spotlight for long.
* ''Webcomic/MountainTime'' moves the spotlight around between many main characters, but also devotes a lot of comics to minor characters and one-offs. You'd have to read a lot of strips to know the main main characters even ''are''.
* ''{{Webcomic/morphe}}'' focuses on a group of five main characters with their friendly villain antagonist being given a large amount of spotlight too.
* ''{{Webcomic/Sire}}'' is a story about the descendants of classic literary characters and though the main story follows the Jekyll/Hyde-child, characters from Phantom of the Opera, String of Pearls, The Invisible Man and Jeeves and Wooster are majorly in focus once they are introduced.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Every member of Team Kimba or Outcast Corner is a main character in the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', with now at least half a dozen more main characters added in. Every one of these is a protagonist of his or her own storyline.
* ''WebVideo/HardlyWorking'' stars all of the members of the Website/CollegeHumor editorial staff.
* ''Literature/TheDescendants'' fields seven core characters with the focus in a given issue going to the older PowerTrio or either Warrick or Cyn. The others get plenty of face time too, as do the supporting cast, guest stars and the occasional villain will snag a starring role for an issue.
* The LetsPlay/MarioPartyTV show features a revolving door of players and background commentators. Some are more popular than the others, though.
* ''Franchise/{{Noob}}'' gives equal importance to all the members the guild had during the two first seasons of the webseries, the first novel and four fist comics. Once recruited, Ivy becomes a fifth member of the ensemble. The Justice guild main roster eventually became a {{Deuteragonist}} ensemble.
* ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'' has no one single protagonist due to the fact that [[RotatingProtagonist the story is told by different players each writing from the perspective of their own character]], though Rex would be the closest person to a protagonist, if only because he was the primary character of the RPG's host.
* ''Literature/VoidDomain'' has Eva as the main protagonist. Despite her title, she shares screen time with just about every other member of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters cast. She even went without a single segment dedicated to her for a span of about twenty chapters, and promptly vowed revenge against the one who stole her spotlight in the author's note for that book.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'': While the show first started its focus on the four main boys, as time passed by it expanded its focus to other residents from the titular town. They range from other children aside from the four boys to even the adults of South Park, including the parents of the four boys.
* ''WesternAnimation/BoJackHorseman'' starts off with the focus on the titular [[ByronicHero [=BoJack=]]], his issues, growing depression and attempts at becoming famous again, with the other characters being part of his narrative. As of Season 2, while still being the main character, [=BoJack=]'s issues take a backseat, giving [[BrokenAce Princess Carolyn]], [[TheThingThatWouldNotLeave Todd]], [[AntiNihilist Mr. Peanutbutter]] and [[TheSmartGuy Diane]] time to deal with their own problems and start their own plot lines and share about the same amount of screen time if not more than [=BoJack=] depending on the episode.
* Each of the three ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' seasons started out with several protagonists since the series is based on Reality Shows.
** It's the same for the SpinOff ''WesternAnimation/TotalDramaPresentsTheRidonculousRace''.
* ''Franchise/MyLittlePony'':
** In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', although Twilight Sparkle is clearly the main character, all of the [[FanNickname Mane Six]] get a roughly equal amount of screen time and episodes dedicated to them. Especially during season two, where Twilight [[AbsenteeActor actually doesn't appear at all in a couple of episodes]], or when she does, [[TheCameo only delivers a line or two]]. The Cutie Mark Crusaders get the spotlight with a good amount of regularity and of them Apple Bloom has gotten her own episode, Scootaloo's got hers too (with [[AndStarring guest star]] Princess Luna), and Sweetie Belle shared one with her sister.
** ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyTales'' had the ensemble feel with the "7 Pony Friends", as well.
* The ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' cartoon. Superman was sort of the "[[TheLeader leader]]", or at least the League's public face, but he was never more or less likely to be an episode's main character than any of the original seven. Then the show went HeroesUnlimited.
* The main six in ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' all get equal screentime. The creators said they wanted to do this to avoid the show becoming "The Gretchen Show", "The Gus Show", "The Spinelli Show", etc. Though in the movie, TJ becomes TheProtagonist.
* ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'' can definitely qualify as this, particularly in the later seasons. While the titular character, Arnold, appears in every episode, he has next to nothing to do with a lot of the stories of the show. It's not uncommon for him to have less than one minute of screentime. And while the series does have a certain (and rather large) "circle" of characters that appear very frequently [[note]]Helga, Gerald, Harold, Rhonda, Phoebe, Stinky, Sid, Eugene, Arnold's grandparents, Helga's parents and the boarders.[[/note]], there are sometimes episodes revolving around minor side characters, like Mr. Green, the Jolly Olly Man, Chocolate Boy, Dino Spumoni, and Big Patty. There are also several episodes centered around [[OneShotCharacter eccentric one-shots]], like Monkeyman, Stoop Kid and Pigeon Man. Really, it's easier to pinpoint which characters ''didn't'' get ADayInTheLimelight.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants [=SpongeBob=] [=SquarePants=]]]'': While the titular sponge is clearly the focus of the show, there are ten main characters who (particularly in the more recent seasons) get a good amount of episodes all about them individually.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThomasAndFriends'', despite the boost to title character for Thomas, narrated the stories from ''Literature/TheRailwaySeries'' rather accurately and thus several engines got near or equal spotlight as him. As the show separated itself from the novels however, more demand was made for Thomas focused stories (for both the show and the books), making him more the central character, though the other engines tend to still get lead roles on a frequent basis.
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' from the get go. In the pilot episode it was just Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash and Superboy, though by the end of the season M'Gann, Artemis, Zantanna and Red Arrow were firmly apart of the ensemble. Season 2 goes even further, by adding over ''[[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters ten]]'' new main characters to the ensemble, on top of the original eight.
* ''WesternAnimation/XMenEvolution'', which spends most of its time on the original students, with the mentors and even new recruits getting a sizable chunk of the time, too.
* ''WesternAnimation/DrawnTogether'' splits the screen time fairly evenly between each of the 8 housemates.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThreeTwoOnePenguins'' has six main characters, Jason, Michelle, Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin. Ron Smith even stated in one episode commentary that there isn't one main protagonist.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Mixels}}'' has all the Mixels making up the protagonists. While sometimes characters are defined as "main" ones for the episodes, none of them are the leads of the entire series, with the only solidified pieces being the Nixels as all-around antagonists.
* ''WesternAnimation/VoltronLegendaryDefender'':If Shiro wasn't automatically assumed to be TheProtagonist as the leader of Voltron, one would be hard-pressed to define him as such particularly for Season 1 as a whole, as it starts with Lance as the DecoyProtagonist during the first half of episode 1, then continues the rest of the season with a focus on a character/pair/the team as a whole per scene, episode, or arc. Even in season 2, which concentrates only on three characters' arcs, Shiro's being one of them, the focus shifts more and more to Keith and Allura's towards the end (and since some of Shiro's and a big part of Allura's arcs wind up tied to Keith's, really it's Keith's arc that gets a majority of the focus in S2). The promotional summary for S1 actually implies this, naming all Paladins instead of the likes of "Shiro and company." (Infamously in some circles, as it calls all the Paladins "teens," while Shiro is vaguely alluded to being an adult in his early-to-mid-20's and currently [[ShrugOfGod flip-flopped]] depending on the source). The series also makes it a once per season habit of giving Pidge a DayInTheLimelight episode, being also the only character to appear in all episodes of season two.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Kaeloo}}'': Even though the show is named after its protagonist, Kaeloo, all the main four get equal amounts of attention in the show.