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.
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...
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.
Matt Fraction brought 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.
There are currently eight separate X-Books in the aftermath of Schism. Three books deal with the Jean Grey Academy alone.
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.
Batman Probably has the largest cast of villains, allies and supporting characters of any one superhero. he's perhaps the ultimate Ineffectual Loner.
Neil Gaiman's The Sandman built up an impressive cast over the years. Dream himself has six siblings and over half a dozen recurring servants. that's not getting into the recurring humans, Faeries, Gods angels and demons.
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.
ElfQuest 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, Donald Duck, and Goofy alone are really big, and the long number of other supporting cast members...
Kingdom Come to the point that a guide book had to be published.
Though only a dozen or so hold any real bearing on the plot, most of them just exist for giant group shots of people fighting.
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 50-odd years that every named character in The Spectacular SpiderMan 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.
DC Comics' World War II-based All-Star Squadron consisted of 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.)
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.
The Knight and Squire miniseries from DC Comics featured dozens and dozens of new British heroes and villains, both currently and retroactively. Most of them were identified in annotations added in the trade paperback release.
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!).
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.
The Harry PotterFan Fic series Witches' Secret eventually ends up with a core harem of hundreds, and an extended one of thousands. 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 Fan FicThe 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.
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 1/2, Urusei Yatsura AND Sister Princess, complete with most of the main cast of each, plus countless minor characters as well.
The Batman fanfiction Cat Tales encompasses not only Batman's cast (rogues, heroes, and civilians alike), but at times the DC universe. 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 inevitable that they're all going to show up eventually.
Beyond the Dawn, extremely huge Russian Tolkien fiction, based on Beren and Lúthien 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 Lúthien'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.
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.
Breakaway, the first installment of the BLoSCFan VerseFor 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 soldiers... and the distinct possibility of more cadets on their way.
There are at least 90 named characters to keep track of in The Tainted Grimoire. Clan Gully alone has 9 members as of this writing, 10 if you count Gull the Chocobo. Then, there are all the other clans, the people Clan Gully helps, and their enemies.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Forever has over 60 characters, consisting largely of originally-created characters but also including approximately 22 characters from the canon series who are either recurring supporting characters or who are given brief cameos...and that's without taking into consideration the number of characters in the story's now-discontinued sequel.
The pro wrestling story, A Ring Of Their Own, features or mentions virtually every decent female professional wrestler of the 2000's.
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and its side stories have 72 named characters from all the Kamen Rider Shows involved and lots of OC characters, major and minor that each have a small part to play in the whole universe.
Boys Und Sensha-do not only has the entire and sizable cast of Girls und Panzer, but it has many original characters. 16 boys join Oarai's tankery team, and there are several other teams.
In fact, the one artist who drew all of them even said that it took him six monthsnote That's half a year. to finish it.
Films — Animated
Disney's101 Dalmatians. As well as the obvious titular canines, there are about a dozen characters who only appear for a scene or two.
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 thirteen 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!
Films — Live-Action
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 film Cradle Will Fall was a traffic jam of different characters and groups of characters, with very few clues given.
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.
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.
It has been said that the Spider-Man Trilogy 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.
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 a 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.
The original run of The Pink Panther films consists of nine movies and many characters who make multiple appearances. The original protagonist, Gentleman Thief Sir Charles Lytton, and his associates were overshadowed by Breakout Character Inspector Clouseau, and Clouseau was given his own set of allies and enemies in the second film (A Shot in the Dark). While only three characters — Clouseau, Dreyfus, and Cato — make seven or more onscreen appearances, there are quite a few who turn up two to six times. There are also a significant number of important one-shot characters, which include the protagonists of films seven through nine.
X-Men: Days of Future Past will feature the cast members of the original X-Menfilmtrilogy and X-Men: First Class (as the movie takes place both in the present day and 1973, ten years after First Class). From the original trilogy, Storm, Iceman, Colossus, Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, and Rouge will make appearances; from First Class we'll see Beast and Mystique. Xavier and Magneto will appear in both eras and everyone will be portrayed by the actors who played the roles in each era. There will also be new mutants introduced to the film franchise. Hugh Jackman, of course, will be Wolverine in both eras since the guy does not age.
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...
Tower of God has about 40 recurring and/or plot relevant characters.
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.
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.
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.
GAGGLE, an all female "alt-choir" has between 20-25 members at any one time.
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.
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), and 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. Oh, and that's just the named cast members.
The core of the cast is probably Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, Woodstock, Sally, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie. Due to the strip's Long Runner status, the core of the cast has evolved as it's gone on. Shermy, Patty, Violet, Pig-Pen, Frieda, Franklin, Rerun, and Eudora have been members of the core, or at least the main cast, at some point or another; a case could also be made for 5, Roy, Spike, and Rerun's aforementioned friend. That's 17-21 main cast members, a pretty remarkable tally, though no more than ten or so at any one time.
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.
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.
We Are All Pokémon Trainers has nearly 30 players representing at least one human character, and that's without their Pokémon and other NPCs.
We Are Our Avatars, the longest running forum Role Playing Game, has so many characters (including one-shots, regulars, background characters, NPCs, and so on) that it could possibly rival many of the items on this page for cast size!
ZOOOO Ommx BIES started with more than thirty player characters. And while not many of them survived until the end, there were still lots of well characterized NPCs added.
Dino Attack RPG has had many, many characters. Just in the titular Dino Attack Team there are 241 characters. That's not counting the numerous villains, civilians, and official LEGO characters that appeared in the almost seven-and-a-half year story.
Campus Life, having been going on for around four or five years now, was bound to fall under this trope. As of adding this, there are no less than 20 main plot important characters, and who knows how many supporting characters.
BZPRPG: To be expected, with six years(and counting)and innumerable players.
Since Absit Omen's creation more than three years ago, no less than 707 characters have been created. While many are inactive, the currently active roster still includes more than a hundred at a time.
As expected with any semi-open RPG, Cirque des Reves has over 100 characters at almost any given time.
Part of WCW's grand "Kill The WWF in Five Years" plan was to hire as many quality wrestlers as possible- veterans, foreign stars, up-and-comers and indy standouts alike. The problem was that this was mainly done to severely limit the WWF's available talent pool and WCW, who had only a 2-3 hour show, had no intention of using most of these people. Wrestlers were paid not based on whether they were booked for matches, but if they showed up to tapings, and even then, all a performer had to do was sign a register and he was given a full payday no questions asked, regardless of whether he had actually worked that night or not. This left WCW with a bloated roster, many of whom were getting paid for doing nothing, and who often resented the fact that they weren't being used, and willingly took a paycut to jump to WWF where they were actually shown on TV as soon as their contracts expired. This was one of the lesser poor management decisions that lead to The Death of WCW.
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.
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.
Religion & Mythology
Epics and holy scriptures tend to be this, due to them having been collected from stories told for eons.
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.
Also the Ramayana. The main story is about Rama. It starts before his conception and ends with his ascension to his celestrail abode. Its characters include His father, his wife, his wife's parents, his father's three wives, their offspring, their offspring's wives, their wives' parents, the respective households, Rama's teacher Valmiki, Hanuman, the other monkeys, some eagles, Ravana, Ravana's offspring and other related people in the households, Rama's two children etc. There are a lot more, but you get the idea.
The Bible. Each book has a whole new array of characters, and it even goes into their family trees for a bunch of generations. Several characters have multiple children who then have their own children. Several of those books were religious history texts, covering religious, political, and cultural events relevant to not only a nation, but several generations of that nation. Add to that the New Testament, made up primarily of letters to entire churches...
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. Stephen Sondheim isn't fond of writing regular choruses anyway, so a lot of his shows are filled with lots of small parts instead. Like with Merrily We Roll Along and Assassins.
Most Cirque du Soleil shows have at least fifty performers apiece; a few of the non-touring shows have upwards of 70. This can roughly be broken down into:
5-10 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.
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.
Between the main 3 engines, Poppa, Electra's components, the coaches, the freight trucks, the Rockies/Hip-Hoppers and the national engines (and Greaseball's lackies, the race marshalls and Control), Starlight Express has a rather sizeable cast.
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 mayor 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.
G.I. Joe is Hasbro's second Merchandise-Driven franchise. Since the franchise was revived in 1982, the action figure lines have featured countless characters, most of whom have appeared in the various TV shows, movies and comics at some point.
My Little Pony is third (Boy, Hasbro's actually really good at creating franchises with Loads And Loads Of Characters). My Little Pony has a huge cast of primary, secondary, tertiary, and background characters, spread across 4 generations of toys and shows. 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 fourMy 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 Dark Horse having its own page for a franchise—the other page, of course, being the one for Transformers.
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.
According to the comics and stories, some of those Faceless Mooks were also sentient.
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.
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.
Zoophobia: 5 months after it began and it's at 30 characters and counting. With 248098402 more expected to come.
Sluggy Freelance. Granted it has been running for ten years, but still it has well over 50 characters.
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.
Last Res0rt has at least 20 "main" characters to keep up with (12 criminals + 4 volunteers + 4 members of the Vaeo Family), and 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...
Red String has 8 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 (the main main character Miharu, even) don't show up at all. Only 2 or 3 chapters so far—in 40 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.
8-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. 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.
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...
In later chapters, the creators have started adding cameo appearances for fanmade characters, further expanding the named cast. Some of the "cameos" went on to become fairly important characters.
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.)
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 KA Mics, 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 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.
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.
"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 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, the kid versions of the kid's anscestors, the guardian versions of the kids... and that's not even getting into the more incidental characters like the Felt, White and Black Kings and Queens, the trolls' Ancestors, alternate universe Midnight Crews, and so on. A full list can be found here.
Even if you only count controllable characters, there are still roughly about 60 note 4 B kids + 4 A kids + Davesprite + 12 A trolls + 12 B trolls + Jack + Jack's 3 minions + 4 agents/exiles + 4 Midnight Crew Members + 2 cherubs = 44 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 60. Unsurprisingly, when the focus returned to the kids, Designated Protagonist Syndrome ensued for at least a short while but quickly got better.
The current count tips the scales at over 95 recurring characters. Even with much of the cast above having been Killed Off for Real.
And then Hussie declares that all fantrolls are canon, good luck with counting all of them.
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...
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.
Buildingverse works tend to have a massive cast, or to be precise a limited main castnote Girls Next Door: Sarah, Christine, Erik, Jareth; Roommates: Erik, Jareth, Javert, James; Superintendent: Javert, Valjean; etc. which inflates over 20 with all the regulars and to ridicculous levels with everybody (The character page for Roommates lists more than 100 characters).
Dumbing of Age, while a less extreme example, actually uses this as an advertising point: one of the banner ads for the comic reads "Dumbing of Age has too many characters".
The Word Weary features a cast of nine canonical main characters and many, many secondary characters who contribute to the plot.
Worm has a very large cast or superheroes, supervillains, ordinary people and giant monsters, each of which may get A Day in the Limelight thanks to the story's frequent interludes. The cast page ont the Worm site is massive.
The Chronicles Of Taras, for a Web Serial Novel with seventeen episodes, sure does had tons of characters even if so many of them are dying left and right. There's the core cast of eight, Mr. Taylor the Counselor, the Guards Johnson and Brown, Najis Rakkasiak, the Big Bad, and tons of other characters referenced in the series.
Make Your Move has had over a thousand movesets for a thousand characters - and counting.
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. Some of these characters are a pop-corn mixer, a printer or a wagon full of pancakes. Not anthropomorphized. Just a regular popcorn maker named Frank Benedetto.
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 Superhero 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 40 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 200 students. 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.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.
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.
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.
By the end of the first season, Red vs. Blue's core cast included thirteen characters (Church, Tucker, Caboose, Sheila, Tex, Grif, Sarge, Simmons, Lopez, Donut, Vic, and O'Malley), and it's only grown from there, until now the cast also includes eight Freelancers (Wyoming, York, Wash, South, North, Maine, CT, and Carolina), five AIs (Gamma, Epsilon (who replaced Church in the main cast), Delta, Sigma, and Theta), three important Freelancer personnel (the Director, the Counselor, and the Pilot), two significant aliens (Crunchbite and Junior), and other members of the Reds and Blues (Captain Flowers, Sister, Doc, and Andy the Bomb), not counting more minor characters such as the Green Alien or "imaginary" versions of characters from Caboose's mind or the capture unit.
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: 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.
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.
We're 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.
Fanpro adds a new batch of characters every week, with at least 1000 total having been confirmed. One of the goals of the fandom is to break the world record for the largest amount of characters in a work.
At the moment, the total human cast of Real Life has just passed 7 billion.
If you include all the humans who have died, the number goes up to (an estimated) 108 billion.
Unfortunately, you can only maintain a stable, social relationship with around 150 of them at a given time. This is known as Dunbar's Number.