This is a fairly generic (and somewhat common) Stock Phrase
that is used to describe a vastness of something by comparing it something that the speaker considers equally vast or simply innumerable on its own. Sometimes it's used to give even the ditziest of people
a good idea of how numerous something is or will be. Sometimes it's used as a part of a Badass Boast
(usually overlapping with I Have Many Names
). Note: The phrase in question does not have to fit with the trope name, it just has to meet the previously mentioned conditions.
Sometimes the person may try to extend the analogy, leading to Metaphorgotten
- Back in the glory days of cinema of the 1930s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had so many actors and actresses under contract that it was said to have "more stars than there are in the sky."
- One Piece has Doctor Hogback, who is claimed by Chopper to have saved as many lives as there are stars in the night sky.
- One Piece again, this time with Garp to a mountain thief who he's coercing into taking care of Luffy and Ace saying "I've overlooked as many crimes of yours as stars in the sky."
- When Garp talks with Luffy about Shanks, he mentions that there are currently as many pirates as stars in the sky.
- In one Pokémon movie, the narrator says, "You could try counting them, but that's like counting grains of sand at the beach."
- In Lucky Luke, Luke is greeted by a native chief who wishes Luke's sons to be as numerous as the blades of grass on the prairie.
Forum Role Plays
- Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter
Hieronymous Grost: You see, Doctor, there are as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey.
- Der Himmel ? Berlin
Driver: Germany has crumbled into as many small states as there are individuals.
- Harriet the Spy
Ole Golly: There are as many ways to live in this world as there are people in this world.
- Mansfield Park
Edmund Bertram: There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.
- Dances with Wolves conversation in concern with white settlers moving further west:
Kicking Bird: How many?
John Dunbar: Like the stars.
- Played with in Local Hero when Ben Knox, while walking along a beach, challenges MacIntyre with an offer to sell his (Knox's, that is) land to MacIntyre's company.
MacIntyre: (desperate to make the deal) Look, how much do you want?
Ben Knox: (fills his hands with sand) Would you pay me a pound for every grain of sand in my hand? (some sand seeps through his fingers) Ah, well, that saves you some. Well, would you do it?
MacIntyre: No. Of course not.
Ben Knox: Ah, well that's a pity. You missed out on a good bargain, for I can only hold about ten thousand grains of sand in my hands. (MacIntyre looks skeptical) Did you think it would be more?
Religion and Mythology
- In American Gods, Mr. Wednesday claims he has as many names as there are ways for people to die. His current pseudonym takes on much greater significance when you realize the day of the week was actually named after him.
- Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book:
[Bagheera] said to Mowgli when they were deep in the jungle ... "Little Brother, how often have I told thee that Shere Khan is thy enemy?" "As many times as there are nuts on that palm," said Mowgli, who, naturally, could not count.
- In the Mullah Nasruddin stories, the Mullah sent three chests of gold to the emperor of India to pay tribute to him. In a delivery mishap, however, the messenger loses the gold and fills the chests with sand, water and rocks in that order. As the emperor opens each chest, his adviser comments on its contents. On the first two, the adviser states that the Mullah's army is as vast as the sands of the desert and the emperor has as many friends as there are drops of water in the ocean. (What he says about the rocks doesn't have to do with this trope, though.)
- The mute but sapient bird in the Redwall book Lord Brocktree communicates by drawing. He draws stick figures in the dirt to represent a number of members of the enemy army, then taps his claws in the dust, leaving dozens of dots: "He says for each dot there's that many again. Too many for him to sketch!"
- According to Carpe Jugulum (possibly riffing off Captain Kronos): There are as many types of vampire as there are disease; some are virulent and deadly, and some just make you walk funny and avoid fruit.