Fire Emblem. This is offset by having lost units be unrecoverable, which means the total size of your force is limited by how well you play—generally you get two characters of each class and a few prepromotes in case you've lost the first recruit. In addition, the support conversations allow for development of secondary characters without interrupting the main plot.
In Shadow Dragon, the game practically throws two to five new units at you every chapter up until halfway through the game. If you manage to recruit everyone, the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue will last nearly two minutes longer than the game's actual credits.
Though if you go for Gaiden chapters by killing off characters, the epilogue ends up looking like a mass funeral...
A simple example is the "relations" chart put together in Radiant Dawn, which showed the given relations between most of the major characters. It also served as the titular scorecard by which you could know the players. Warning, MASSIVE spoilers here◊ This is only the playable characters and super-major NPCs. Overall, the game has 73 playable characters, almost all of which feel like fully-developed characters. Well, as fully-developed as you can get when many can be removed from the story any time the player fails.
This is actually zig-zagged in the Jugdral series, at least Genealogy of the Holy War. There is no Arbitrary Head Count Limit, and while the cast of (playable) characters looks about the average size of a Fire Emblem game, you only get to use about half at once due to the game's narrative. Of the 2nd half, a good portion of the characters you see on a list are merely substitute characters.
The record for the most number of playable characters in the main series goes to the remake of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, which brought back the characters that were removed as well as adding new characters introduced in Shadow Dragon and BS Fire Emblem with a grand total of 77 characters in the main story and bonus chapters combined.
Being a crossover of every saga in the main series, Fire Emblem Heroes naturally takes it Up to Eleven. Meanwhile, a few additional characters are added every so often, adding more to the already extensive roster.
Resident Evil is knee-deep in this trope, partially due to such a long history and partially because of characters mentioned only in notes, secondary characters, tertiary characters, and characters that are present for only a short time before becoming zombie fodder. Any semi-comprehensive character list for the series has to be split up into subsections. Pilots not included.
1bit Heart has dozens of characters to meet in each area. After a chapter is complete, Nanashi can go through the already visited area(s) and go on little sidequests to obtain the character's friendship. The people he befriends, the more his social stats (a.k.a. HP) will go up. Two little notes: Nanshi has to be on his own without Misane by his side and it's important to increase his HP for later battles.
Squaresoft's (now Square-Enix) Chrono Cross featured a cast of 45 playable characters — requiring the player to play through the game at least three times to get them all. Alas, the game only allows 3 characters to fight at a time. That also leads to ending up with a core group you like to use in battle all the time during the later parts of the game to the exclusion of most of the rest of the characters you collected along the way. And it makes outfitting the redundant characters an expensive proposition.
By the time you get to the end of the final chapter of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, you'll have a party of 22 characters to choose from, although nearly half of them won't join you if you skip their chapters, up to 6 of those are permanently missable or Killed Off for Real even if you don't skip their chapters, and 2 of them have next to no dialogue to begin with and are optional anyways.
The sheer number of characters means that by the time you finish the game, you'll find that the total number of Combination Attacks between them exceeds even that of Chrono Trigger, where they are one of the main battle mechanics.
Final Fantasy VI has 14 regular playable characters, the most of any main series FF game. There's an early-game section where you control ten Moogles as temporary PCs. There are a couple of dozen significant NPCs.
Final Fantasy VII on its own had a good amount of characters, but the Compilation and it's various gaiden stories have increased the cast by a couple dozen or three.
Final Fantasy Tactics: Almost any character that could go from a computer-controlled ally combatant to a controllable character later would stop being important to the plot after you finally gain control of them. This was because you could refuse to let them join, later dismiss them, or have them be Killed Off for Real.
The PSP version throws fans of these characters a bone by including bonus missions (which flesh out the plot, but have no influence on it) where they take center stage again (as computer-controlled "Guests," natch). However, since the player is free to refuse or dismiss these characters, it's entirely possible to never participate in their bonus missions.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper has you able to hire the playable cast from every main-series Final Fantasy game and a handful of spinoffs, most of the villains, a number of major supporting characters, a set of Player Mooks, and of course the Record Keeper Tyro himself, totaling well over 150 party members in total, with more added frequently.
The original Dissidia: Final Fantasy features a roster of twenty-two playable characters: one hero and one villain from Final Fantasy I through X, plus two unlockable characters from Final Fantasy XI and XII. Dissidia Duodecim adds an additional five characters to the initial roster, plus another three unlockables, for 30 characters total. The 2015 entry in the series has a starting roster of 29 characters, plus more playable characters with DLC, in addition to six summons and a Final Boss. The mobile spin-off, Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, tops even those games with multiple characters from across the entire series, including spin-offs: there are over 40 characters that can be recruited from the game's story mode, plus more from bonus chapters and events.
Shining Force I and II each had a grand total of 30 playable characters. There is an Arbitrary Headcount Limit of 12 for any given battle, which leaves some of your forces perpetually on the bench.
The Sengoku Basara franchise has had 57 notable characters that have appeared throughout the series, with 47 characters having been playable at least once and 49 of them being fleshed out and plot-relevant.
Every Suikoden game has 108 characters you can acquire. This does not take into account the many named characters that are not part of the 108.
The Super Robot Wars spinoff Endless Frontier takes things even further — it's an RPG developed by Namco, taking the characters from the Original Generation universe, and crossing them over with various Namco characters, including original characters from their crossover strategy title Namco × Capcom (who were, according to the developers, based loosely on original characters from Super Robot Wars, completing some sort of cycle).
Notable mention is Super Robot Wars Alpha series. Alpha 3 had the largest cast out of any SRW game and, if we put all the characters from all the timelines, would easily exceed 100 characters that are playable. If we include the NPCs, it would easily exceed 200 or even 300 characters.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon threw in every kharacter from all of the games in the series up to its point, including the boss kharacters, giving you over 60 playable kharacters.
Radiata Stories had 176 recruitable NPCs in addition to the main Player Character, which were split into two groups based on whether you sided with the humans or nonhumans in the middle of the game. Fortunately, it averted the upkeep problems that normally plague large parties (keeping them properly leveled and equipped): 1) you can't change their equipment, and 2) it's actually simpler to recruit new characters than level up old ones. (Especially since there's no Magic stat. Spells which do 300 damage at Lv.1 will still do 300 damage at Lv.100.)
If a character appears on-screen in the LEGO Adaptation Games, there's about a 99% chance you'll be able to play as them. The original LEGO Star Wars had 59 playable characters, and the number has increased with every subsequent game.
Being one of the other famous Mons series (Digimon is mentioned in Anime/Manga), Shin Megami Tensei qualifies not only on sheer amount of recruitable demons, but also in the fact that those demons are oftenly involved with the plot. So it's kinda like Pokemon, if around half of the Pokemon were actually important characters.
Another notable mons series, Yo-Kai Watch, has reached over 750 befriendable Yo-kai counting the main games and the Blasters games note (even though in Blasters 1Don Chan is absent, as well as him and Massaranyan in Blasters 2, though oddly Chocobonyan and Mogglinyan are present) in little more than four years. Though it's a bit odd if we take into account that a good deal of them are Palette Swaps of other Yo-kai (just look at the tens, if not hundreds variations of Jibanyan), and only a handful of them are characterized properly, sometimes carrying from the anime. This is not even counting the Yo-kai which only appeared in Yo-kai Watch Puni Puni (or the crossover characters for that matter). As of the bosses, the quantity is a little shy than 100 (including palette swaps). Finally, there is a much smaller number of NPC Yo-kai as well. Human characters in the main games (as there are no humans in Blasters aside from Nate and Katie) are proportionally fewer; there's the parents of each of the main characters and their friends, their classmates, and some notable people who are somewhat involved with the Yo-kai (or are even Yo-kai).
Arena and Daggerfall have hundreds of thousands of unique (in the loosestsense) NPCs populating their massive (though Randomly and/or Procedurally generated) game worlds. Most just spew the same snippets of random dialogue, while only main quest relevant characters get any kind of characterization.
Starting with Morrowind, the series trended toward adding greater characterization to its still-massive number of NPCs. Side quest relevant characters began getting characterization as well (and some would argue they got the best characterization, such as Camp GayDepraved Bisexual Crassius Curio in Morrowind and just about everyone in the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion and Skyrim). Adding together every quest-relevant character in each of these games easily totals in the hundreds.
Interesting NPCs is a renowned Game Mod for Skyrim, adding over 70 new characters with 125,000+ words of dialogue. Updates to the mod are ongoing, with many more characters upcoming.
The series' deep and well-developed backstory contains hundreds more noteworthy characters, often described in in-game Fictional Documents, Novels, and dialogue with certain NPCs.
The Metal Gear series, when considered as a whole, has an impressive list of main and supporting characters. The wiki lists 126.
Baldur's Gate features 25 NPCs who can join your party. The most you can have with you at any one time? Five. The sequel made it better by limiting it to 16 NPCs, then made it worse by making their individual storylines more involved, with almost every NPC having a major personal quest, some having two.
Alignment restrictions may make a portion of the cast unplayable if your reputation is too good/evil. Add onto this the fact that your main character can be from any class (meaning you may require certain characters to fill party roles), and the large number of characters are necessary to actually make a decent party.
Made even worse in 2 by the genuinely interesting interactions between many characters, and the fact that, while a large selection of characters is varied, there are a number of characters who stand out as far better than the others. Coupled with how memorable the game is (strongly limiting replay value), and it's incredibly unlikely that you'll ever experience the majority of different party makeups, forever preventing you from seeing some of the most amusing lines.
The other Infinity Engine games avoided this on two fronts. First, the Icewind Dale series had no premade NPCs — you created the entire party, top to bottom. Second, Planescape: Torment had only seven NPCs (of which you could put five in your party), several of which you had to solve elaborate and by no means mandatory puzzles or look behind the obvious in order to get.
Collecting the 28 playable characters (each with their own elaborated backstory) is a relevant part of the gameplay of Valkyrie Profile. These characters very soon become so numerous that it's hard for the player to feel attachment for any one of them.
This is justifiable because the basic premise of the game requires that you train up einherjar and send them to Valhalla to fight for Odin. You are not supposed to get attached to most of them. Coincidentally, the plot-important ones for the best ending cannot be sent up, except Lucian, who must be sent up, so you are more likely to use and get attached to them. This is the most noticeable with Arngrim, since he is the absolute first character you get (and one of the better ones on top of it).
Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria ups the ante by having 13 main characters (in various guises) and forty einherjar. You'll need to have at least three save slots to have every character, since each "relic" has a list of one to three characters, of which only one is obtainable at a time. You can also lose einherjar permanently. On the other hand, unusually there's only a single bad guy and a tiny smattering of NPCs who aren't playable at some point (not counting one-off bosses who have no scenes).
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume has about 19 playable characters (20 if you include Ancel the Guest and Crutch Character), and you have to play through the game three times on all three paths to get them all, since one playthrough will force you to take a path that will recruit one or two characters but also fight another as a boss. This also does not include the optional characters in the game that you get in the New Game+, many of which are either series characters or had appeared in Covenant of the Plume's story.
Fallout: New Vegas has 375 named NPC's that you can actually talk to and are important to quests, and hundreds more "NCR Trooper" or "Gambler" that you cannot.
Fallout 4 ups the anti with 519 named NPCs (including corpses and cats), and many, many more raiders, settlers, synths, supermutants, ghouls, etc etc. Automatron adds 13 more, Far Harbor 77, Vault-Tec Workshop 4, and Nuka-World 93 for a grand total of 706 named NPCs.
Tokyo Majin Gakuen has 25 characters join the main hero, Tatsuma, and all of them have endings. There are also many supporting characters, some of whom also have endings. Then there are all the villains and the different characters in the sequel, Gehouchou (all of whom are the ancestors of the main characters in the Kenpuuchou game) as well as the spin-off games and dramas.
The Summon Night series also has lots of characters and also has its own continuity within the main games. Summon Night 2 in itself has loads of characters join the main character.
Ogre Battle has a lot of important figures in its storyline.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together has quite a bit. And like in Covenant of the Plume, you can't recruit them all in one playthrough since taking one path will bar recruitment of some named characters, while taking another one may actually result in that character becoming a boss for that chapter or only showing up in the background. In Chapter 4, small variations on what you did may cause a character or someone related to show up.
But there are also some characters who join all the time, but have different roles or methods. For example, Haborym and Guildus will always show up in Chapter 3, but Haborym shows up in different roles, either being rescued or run into. Seleye will either join by an event or need to be rescued in battle, and in chapter 4, Kachua will either be hiding or actually in the battle against you.
Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is similar, but much more simplistic. Taking the "A" path makes Shiven and Cybil join, while Orson becomes a boss and Rictor also is fought twice. Taking the "B" path makes Orson and Rictor join, Rictor is only fought once, and Cybil becomes a boss. No clue where Shiven is, as he doesn't show up until very late on that path. It has a much smaller cast than other Ogre Battle games.
Harvest Moon has 200+ different characters over its various continuities (many of whom are expies of one another). The Nintendo DS-original entries (Harvest Moon DS and HM DS: Island of Happiness) have over 100 characters by themselves. Even if you set aside background characters (characters you can talk to, but lack portraits), the games have between 20 and 30 major characters apiece, not including the player.
Most fighting games could be accused of this, but thankfully these characters rarely have any serious plot role. It is actually good, since in these games the relevance is in characters/opponents over levels generally.
Also, while there is a "sure" crew, many of the minor characters are scripted in and out in the blink of an eye... well, rather between games.
Touhou has accrued a substantial list of characters, and adds at least seven more in almost every game, only Shoot the Bullet, Impossible Spell Card and Violet Detector not adding any. Discounting the PC-98 characters still leaves a good seventy, while even only including characters who have appeared in more than one game has several dozen remaining. This piece of fanart (NSFW due to advertisements) features all of them up to Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, and gives some idea of the sheer scale of it.
F-Zero has had new characters in every game, with a huge jump from F-Zero to F-Zero X (30) and from F-Zero X to Maximum Velocity, though the number of new characters in each game has decreased after Maximum Velocity.
F-Zero GX has 41 playable characters, each with their own mini-biography, at least a dozen interview questions/responses, a theme song, and an unlockable CGI short.
For only being one game, the cast of Psychonauts is monumentally gigantic. This is especially remarkable given that they're all named and given voice-acting. 26 distinct characters at the camp, 9 at the abandoned asylum, and who knows how many within the mental worlds — though some of them are admittedly nameless NPCs.
The Super Mario Bros. series has a whole ton of characters in the series, with about 1300+ counted at present. In a similar way to the Sonic the Hedgehog series, most of the games and spinoffs put most of the characters on a bus after their first appearances, and the count that's actually appeared in multiple games or forms of media is probably about 1/15th of the total character count. That and the obvious Cast Herds where most characters are only found in one sub-series or media type.
Pop N Music, a Rhythm Game series with 16 main arcade releases so far, introduces about 15-20 new characters with every new installment.
Tekken 6 is catching up with around 41. Tag Tournament 2 has everyone who was playable in 6 (with Julia putting on a mask and calling herself "Jaycee", Kuma and Panda becoming separated into their own character slots, and Heihachi dialing back the odometer by a few decades) as well as three more returning characters from previous games (Jinpachi Mishima, Jun Kazama, and True Ogre). Then the console version steps it up even more, including all those characters and about 15 exclusive characters. This has reached a boiling point, as 7 is only set to feature a roster-size maximum in the mid-30s.
Infinite Undiscovery has a total of 18 characters, though most times only 3-4 at a time can be in the active party. There are instances of Let's Split Up, Gang where more of your characters will be active, though even in those cases you don't have direct control over more than just your party. Some of your characters are explicitly never able to join the main party and can only come out for combat in those instances of multiple parties. Some of the characters are more plot-relevant than others, but most of them get at least a little development.
While Disgaea1 and 2 were stretching it with about 8-9 playable story characters per game, Disgaea 3 takes the cake with sixteen through the main story and playable epilogue. If that weren't enough, nearly every previous Disgaea character is downloadable, as well as a great number of characters from otherNippon Ichigames.
The Updated Re-release of Disgaea 2 is looking to beat Disgaea 3. Alongside the returning playable twelve (from both the main story and optional bosses), all the originally unplayable bosses are now playable, many of whom ended up appearing in Disgaea 3 as downloadable characters and adds half of the Disgaea 3 main cast. And if that weren't enough, the port will be getting the other half of the Disgaea 3 cast as well as characters from the otherNippon Ichigames as Downloadable Content.
Guild Wars currently has 27 heroes (customizable NPC party members). Despite this, you can only use seven of your heroes at a time. Through the in-game cash shop, you can even clone your Player Characters into Mercenaries, which are just personalized heroes for you to use. If you have not yet unlocked the heroes you want/need, you can also rely on henchman instead of human players, although their skills and equipment are usually not the best.
For fans of Super Smash Bros. who got into the series with later entries, it can be quite the shock to play earlier ones and discover how small their rosters are in comparison.
Brawl has a total of 39 playable characters from 20 distinct series. The running joke when they were being revealed by the game's director week-by-week was "Which Nintendo characters aren't in Brawl?" It was the first game in the series to have non-Nintendo Guest Fighters in the form of Snake and Sonic.
3DS/Wii U dethrones Brawl with 51 playable characters, counting the three Mii Fighter archetypes. DLC for this installment brings the fighter count up to 58 characters from 28 different franchises. If you count characters that are alternate skins for existing characters (Alph for Olimar and the Koopalings for Bowser Jr.), that number increases even further. Then mix in the fact that the Mii Fighters can be customized to look like any character the player so chooses, with the player able to create up to 99 individual Mii Fighters on a single console...
Ultimate takes the friggin' cake, as all playable characters from the previous four installments are in the gamenote (this includes characters cut between entries like Pichu, Young Link and the Ice Climbers of Melee; Solid Snake, Wolf O'Donnell, and Squirtle and Ivysaur from Brawl) in addition to several newcomers, bringing the base roster total game to a whopping 76 fighters from across 30 gaming franchises, with six additional fighters planned as DLC for a total of 82. As a throwback to the original game, the starting roaster is limited to the initial eight characters the original N64 game started of with — that's around one tenth of the final roster.
This is all to say nothing of the many Assist Trophy characters that can be summoned during battle. Brawl had 27 of them, 3DS/Wii U had 39, and Ultimate is confirmed to have 59 of them.
And with Ultimate, there come the Sprits, which replace the collectible trophies. Unlike trophies, which comprised characters, items, and even locations alike, Spirits are entirely different kinds of characters! As in, characters who lost their physical forms upon being hit by the Big Bad's light blasts. It is stated there will be more than 800 of them. Compare that with each trophy collection from Melee to 3DS/Wii U.
If that wasn't enough, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep as the prequel introduces a whole load of new faces plus a few new faces of Xehanort, the master villain, and now Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is set to introduce characters from Square Enix's other game, The World Ends With You. You're gonna need a diagram to keep track of who's who.
If they ever did create a Street Fighter game with every character from the mainline SF universe (which includes Final Fight), then you'd have possibly the largest cast of any fighting game ever, and that's not counting the EX series, whose characters are owned by Arika, not Capcom. Currently the largest roster in the series is Ultra Street Fighter IV, which has a 44-character roster (with ten of those being newcomers to series by way of IV and its updates and an additional character from Final Fight who had yet to be playable in a Street Fighter game until Ultra).
The TimeSplitters series has made considerable increases in its multiplayer character roster, shooting up to 150 with the release of Future Perfect.
Impossible Creatures has all of these games beat, with 127,392 different possible creatures. There's an unfortunate number of of Character Tiers despite the number of creatures — on some water maps, Moosobsters are the only level 5 melee creatures worth using.
The Dynasty Warriors game series introduces more and more playable characters with each successive generation; the current iteration, Dynasty Warriors 9, boasts an impressive 94 playable characters. That's not including the more than 200+ 'generic' characters running around.
Samurai Warriors is no slouch, either. The latest iteration of the game, Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, features 56 playable characters, in addition to over a thousand named NPCs.
Warriors Orochi 4, the series' Massive Multiplayer Crossover, has just over 170 playable characters, each with their own unique moveset, weapons, and voice acting. Advertisements prominently display this: this◊ is the Dynasty Warriors 'half' of the cast alone! (The other 'half' being Samurai Warriors, and the rest being exclusives to the Warriors Orochi trilogy.) Even though they excluded the crossover characters from other franchises owned by Koei Tecmo (Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, Atelier, etc.), the 11 newcomers from Dynasty Warriors 9 and the 5 newcomers from Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, this game still received a Guinness World Record for having the most playable characters in the hack and slash genre.
The Dynasty Warriors: Gundam series not only drew on the loads and loads of Gundam characters, there are also loads and loads of Mobile Suits available for the characters to pilot (the third game, Reborn, exceeds 120).
City of Heroes, being a MMORPG naturally needs lots of characters, but many of them are remarkably fleshed out. However, its casual-friendly nature, immense customisation, and many character slots cause many players to fall into this trope, creating far more characters than they can handle. We call it 'Altitis', and it's actually somewhat encouraged.
City of Titans, the Spiritual Successor of City of Heroes, ups the ante. There are over 800 named characters so far and that's not even a full list. There will be 48 factions at launch, each with at least five unique members, and you can divide the Cast Herd into herds upon herds. Whether one is a hero, villain, civilian, vigilante, agent, officer or whatever, they are all accounted for in the massive world.
In the Backyard Sports series, there are 30 (now22) main characters, each with their own theme song, personality, and abilities. And I'm not even mentioning the commentators, the secret kids, and the hundreds of NPCs in the game, who all have a name.
Over the years, the Ace Attorney series has accumulated a vast cast of quirky attorneys, prosecutors, victims, murderers, witnesses, et cetera.
Counting all of the recruitable characters and NPCs, Infinite Space has roughly 130-150 characters.
In the Mass Effect trilogy, the total number of people who can end up serving in Commander Shepard's Normandy crew adds up to about 21 squadmates and 24 other named and/or interactive crew members, plus several dozen other NPCs whom you'll probably never pay any attention to. And that's only the tip of the iceberg that is the Mass Effect cast; currently, this series has fourteen different character pages. Those pages still lack several story and side-quest relevant characters, and the various unnamed (but popular!) background NPCs like Refund Guy or Valley Girl Quarian and Friend-Zone Turian!
Agarest Senki has no less than 34 playable characters, plus up to 6 captured monsters who can also join your party. Many of them are killed off to keep the headcount manageable, but then you can bring them back through alchemy. Or you could save money and just play the True End route and have all the dead characters back in the party for free.
Banjo-Kazooie has just the villain, the eponymous duo, and a few mentors as important characters, but the supporting cast of the series is huge. A poster was made for Banjo-Tooie containing all of the characters. They fill up the poster pretty well.
Shenmue has a small cast of key characters, but the world of both games released in the series have a large number NPCs. While most of those NPCs have nothing of value to say, each of them is completely unique with different names, appearances, and schedules that they keep throughout the day, helping the game world feel alive.
R-Type Final has 101 playable ships, although only three are initially unlocked. All of them have different weapons sets, and some of them are from earlier games in the series.
Loads and Loads of Characters is so integral to the genre that one of the first attempts to produce a "AAA" installment of it, Demigod, completely and utterly flopped because it released with only eight characters (with two more patched in after launch).
Ōkami is a pro at this. Every villager in every town and city is completely different, everyone actually has a name (if Nameless Man counts as a name). The Dragonians, Sparrows, and the Oina tribe could have been easily written off as different examples of a Planet of Hats, but instead are all completely unique. Even the Emperor's Red Shirt Army has a variety of guards that are actually necessary to forward the plot. What's additionally surprising is that about 99% of the characters from this 40-hour long game actually all have official art.
Both Paladin's Quest and its sequel Lennus II feature a surprising number of recruitable mercenaries for being SNES-era games.
Alpha Protocol does this, but it's made even worse that every single person you meet has some kind of secret agenda, and will try to manipulate you to their ends. It's a Gambit Pileup, except there really are that many gambits going on at once.
Inazuma Eleven has a Cast of Snowflakes of over 1,000 characters you can recruit and add to your team. The sequels expand on the cast; in the third game, the headcount has broken 2,000.
The cast of Nasuverse works tend to be immense. Ahem:
Tsukihime starts with your hero, his friend, five heroines, one almost heroine, three bad guys and a side character or two. Kagetsu Tohya adds Len, a few members of Akiha's extended family, Shiki's doctor, the doctor's daughter, Nanako and more. Melty Blood then adds Sion, Tatari and more to that and then there's all the side material.
Fate/stay night has Shirou, three main heroines, one girl who didn't quite make it to heroine status, nine Servants, another four or five Masters, Taiga, Issei and numerous supporting characters. This may not count under normal circumstances, but when Fate/hollow ataraxia came around all these characters had greatly expanded roles, plus a couple of characters added, giving an impressively high headcount.
The Fate series since then expanded with the prequal Fate/Zero, and the spinoffs Fate/Apocrypha and Fate/EXTRA, adding to the number of Servants and other important characters. The character count has since exploded with the mobile game Fate/Grand Order, which by its nature continuously adds Servants for every story update.
The Animal Crossing series has, amongst the 16 different human player characters and the several NPCs, more than 300 different villagers of many different species and 6 unique personalities (8 in New Leaf) that can move into and live in your town. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS, the probability of two players starting off with the same six initial villagers is less than a hundredth of a percent.
The mildly obscure NES RPG Destiny of an Emperor featured over 100 recruitable officers, and several unrecruitable NPCs. Then again, it is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Tobal 2 features over 200 playable characters. Most of them are monsters that you can capture in Quest Mode, and several of those are Palette Swaps.
Pick a Nippon Ichi game. Any of them. Good luck trying to organize that mess. It gets worse in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters where many of the characters you can gain are story and plot important. Sometimes it just gets worse when characters from other games pop in for cameos, actually continuing the story of another game slightly.
Good Lord, has the Sonic the Hedgehog series evolved into this trope. A series that started with two characters has since grown to having around two dozen main characters (and that's not even counting the one-game wonders). This isn't including two distinct versions of Sonic, Tails, and Eggman. There became so many characters by around the time of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) that future games in the series attempted to cut down on the number of characters, so that when Sonic Colors came around, the recurring cast was trimmed back to just Sonic, Tails, and Eggman (although there's a character unique to Colors called Yacker, and many other characters, including Big, Silver, Espio, and Blaze, make cameo appearances in side missions in the DS version). It's amazing when you consider that this game was released in 2010; this feat of a three-character Sonic game hadn't been achieved since Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which was released in 1992.
Exit Fate has 75 playable characters, from knights and bards and wizards, to a scientist, a necromancer and his project, a war correspondent, a rock musician and an aristocratic talking cat. As well as a large number of non-playable characters. All with interesting appearances and fleshed-out backstories. The game is often called a spiritual successor to Suikoden.
The Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi games are known for their huge rosters, taking characters from the original series as well as Z, GT and the movies. While the first game had a rather ordinary roster size, the second had 129 characters, and the third had 161.
Assassin's Creed definitely qualifies. The first game had a pretty small cast, generally consisting of player character Altaïr, eleven assassination targets (including an imposter), a few other important Assassins and Richard the Lionheart, but subsequent titles introduce many more: Ezio's trilogy have a large number of assassination targets in each game and even more historical characters, and Assassin's Creed III introduces a very large number of historical characters as allies of player character Connor, as well as a large number of civilian NPCs that can settle at the Davenport Homestead and the assassination targets. And that's not even considering the brotherhoods of each game, and while most of them are on-the-spot NPCs with little to no characterization, all of the recruits from Assassin's Creed III have rather detailed back stories. Leaked information and teasers for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag indicate that there will be loads and loads of characters in the Golden Age of Piracy setting as well.
The Papa Louie series of time management games currently contains 80+ customers to stop in at your latest eatery. While none of them have any personality, they do at least all look different.
The Sims series, in addition to allowing you to create vast numbers of playable Sims (you can have up to 8 in any one house, including apartments), generates a lot of NPC's including University classmates, stray pets, service personnel, and "Townies" (anyone who's none of the above.)
Said "8-sim-per-household" limit can also be circumvented with the help of mods, although interface and processing power limitations do enforce some kind of limit.
Danganronpa has introduced dozens of characters per game and across all its novels. It's a manageable cast in these bite-sized pieces, but combined, the group is huge. Many of them are heavily fleshed out too. The 4 main installments alone will add up to 62 characters that have already been on the Killing Games(16 on the first, second and fourth, with only 14 introduced on the third). That is not to account the spin off and side materials or side-characters of those games.
Super Mario Maker has a special set of costumes that can be unlocked via amiibo, 100-Mario Challenge and/or Event Courses. There are a whopping 150 of them and counting. So, yes, you can finally play as Sonic the Hedgehog in a Mario game. And Mega Man. And Pac-Man. Although the characters have the same abilities as Mario himself, that's still a lot.
The fan game Rakenzarn Tales is a Crossover between plenty of well-known (and less well-known) videogames, manga, comics, series... with a few Original Characters thrown in the mix. The result is a huge cast of playable characters, villains and allies.
While the primary roster of the Soul Series is relatively manageable each game, there are a lot of characters overall. When you count bonus characters, guest fighters, one-off characters, characters only mentioned in the backstory... it adds up to a lot. The relevant wiki lists over 200. Of course, there have been only 50 or so that have made up the primary roster over the series. Heh, only 50.
Harvest December has over twenty characters that appear regularly from their initial introductions. Several chapters have various one-shot appearances, but even that isn't to be underestimated as one particular chapter introduces an additional ten for its story.
Xenoblade Chronicles X has eighteen recruitable party members, not including the protagonist. It also features an Affinity Chart, as did its predecessor, which contains info on the hundred-or-so named NPC you'll talk to as well as the relationships they have with each other (that you know about).
Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest contains well over seventy playable characters that can be recruited into the player's army. All of them are based on historical figures and are women in that universe.
Samurai Shodown managed to gross 52 playable characters by the time of Samurai Spirits: Tenkaichi Kenkudan (Samurai Shodown VI).
In the original The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, you have nine characters that are playable throughout most of the game (Rean, Elliot, Alisa, Laura, Fie, Emma, Gaius, Jusis and Machias), two that join temporarily in parts of the game that become playable in Chapter 5 (Millium and Crow) and two that are briefly playable (Sara and Angelica). Twelve out of those thirteen are playable in Cold Steel II and the game piles on a bevy of Promoted to Playable characters such that your playable team is larger than Final Fantasy VI, assuming you don't count that game's briefly playable moogles. Cold Steel III adds even more on top of that.
And that's just the playable characters; given that the Cold Steel series is just one of three arcs in the overarching Kiseki Series, an 8-game long series (currently; more games are planned) noted for its detailed world-building, the number of characters in the game universe is truly massive.
The cast for each individual Halo game is manageable, but when one takes into account the entirely canonical Expanded Universe from a wide variety of sources, it balloons to quite a lot.
With four games, three remakes and six spinoffs, it's not hard to imagine that the Neptunia franchise has a huge amount of characters. While the playable characters are mostly manageable (that is, you can choose 4 out of about 20 of them to take into battles), there are about another 20 or so Non-Player Character in most games. This is especially in the case of Victory, where not only did it retained the characters from the previous games, it added a dozen more.
Many Mobile Phone Game and Web Games in Japan, especially Card Battle Games, embodies this trope as frequent updates adds even more character into the already huge cast. In addition, many of those games frequently have collaboration crossover events with each other or other anime, only driving the total character count even higher.
Kantai Collection has at best 150 obtainable ship girls, and each event update adds more; as of mid-2017, the total tally is already nearing the 200 mark. That is not counting the enemies and other non-playable characters. In addition, every obtainable character is properly voiced.
Similar to the example above, Touken Ranbu has introduced a few dozen characters after its launch, with much, much more to come.
There are already more than 200 characters in Fate/Grand Order, and it's planning eventually to add every Nasuverse character into the game in some way.
Ensemble Stars! has 31 characters from the start, with several more updated over time.
Granblue Fantasy has over 150 and growing recruitable characters, and every single one of them is fully voiced and has their own Side Quest, with some showing up in the event stories occasionally. There are also dozens of NPCs, and your Player Character has over 40 classes to choose from.
There are 48 characters in Tokyo 7th Sisters, 9 of which can be placed in a team for performances or battles. All of them have voices, but only characters in a unit have singing voices.
BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! has 25 main characters in 5 different bands, along with a few extras such as some of the characters' parents and Supporting Protagonist Marina Tsukishima. There are at least two other bands mentioned, but usually only their centers (leads) get screen time.
Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag features practically every named character from the entire series, plus innumerable variations of many of those characters.
Its predecessor series, Guilty Gear, is no slouch either. The original roster consisted of ten regular fighters plus three unlockables for a total of thirteen. As of Accent Core Plus R, that roster had expanded to 25. Combine that with the newcomers from Overture (five, though not without putting most of the veterans on a bus) and Xrd (seven, along with bringing back some veterans), and you have a total of 37. And that's just the playable roster in the canon games...
At first, 100% Orange Juice! just had eleven characters (twelve if you count unplayable boss Tomomo) at launch. Since then, more characters have been added through DLC and owning certain Orange_Juice games as well as making the mooks, bosses and Tomomo Promoted to Playable. As of now, the total roster is 45 (46 if you were to count Tomato and Mimyuu as separate characters). Granted, a good few of them are different versions of the same character (mostly obtained through an Old Save Bonus), so if we were to take them out then the total roster would amount to a still impressive 38 (39 if one were to, again, count Tomato and Mimyuu as separate characters).
Puyo Puyo, being a Long Runner, has accumulated new characters with every game. Note that that list doesn't include any characters who only appeared in Madou Monogatari or Puyo Puyo Quest, nor any characters added for Puyo Puyo Tetris. The "core" cast, just the characters that are guaranteed to appear in every game, numbers 17, most of which have been main protagonists or antagonists in one game or another.
The Caligula Effect features a main cast of 9 characters, but any of the 500+ characters in Kishimai High have their own stories and can be recruited into your party. Overdose increases the size of the main cast drastically, adding 2 members to the Go-Home Club and also making all of the Ostinato Musicians playable. In the postgame, they can both be added to the same party, for a total of 20 playable characters before counting the rest of the students.
PAYDAY 2 started with a humble four characters. After several years of content updates and DLCs, the number of playable characters ballooned up to twenty two.
Paladins started manageable enough with only 17 at the start and three added at the end of 2016 for a rather standard 20 Champions. Then over the course of 2017, they added 15 new Champions, making for 35 by the end of the year and turning Paladins into one of the largest rosters seen outside of the MOBA genre. There are currently 37 different Champions, each with their own unique appearances, gameplay, personality and backstories.
The Wonderful 101 as the title states. Though the focus is mostly on seven members, there's over 100 different designs with little profiles. The seemingly unrelated characters end up as unlockable Wonderful Ones, and that's not getting into the villain group.
As of August 2018, Overwatch has 28 heroes, plus non-playable canon characters introduced in the comics and shorts, including Katya Volskaya, Balderich Von Alder, Lynx Seventeen, and Efi Oladele.
Seeing as how the Ratchet & Clank series spans multiple galaxies (mixing with the fact that the franchise has a bad habit of ditching or mostly ditching the cast of the previous installment and replacing them with an entirely new one), it comes as no surprise that there would be a lot of characters. Not counting the titular duo themselves, there has been at least 84 characters that help move the plot along across the 10 main series games and comic series. Counting the spin-offs and reboot, the number jumps up to 101.