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Cast Herd

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One big extended family, three households.

Earl: How come we haven't been seen in so long?
Larry: Because the story follows more than one group of people. We're like the "B" Party.
Detestai: No, I think that's the soldier and the elf girl. We're more like the "C" Party.
Larry: See? No respect!

Can't be bothered to remember everyone in a show with a ridiculously large Ensemble Cast? Neither can some writers. The best solution is to split the cast into distinct groups.

This allows for enough characterization, because we always see them together and that's enough net personality for characters whose physical descriptions are probably longer than those of their personalities.

This can be really obvious when you notice that with the exception of perhaps the main Cast Herd, all the other Herd Leaders only talk to their own herd, or other Herd Leaders; a huge number of the people are never given casual conversation. If you can't quite tell who the spokesman of a Cast Herd is, imagine it in terms of screentime value. Only a Cast Herd's spokesman would probably appear in the Non-Serial Movie or OAV.

Shows which allow for the format of a literal team will always use this trope, often leading to The Friends Who Never Hang as a consequence. See also Geodesic Cast which repeats the structure of the main character's group and Planet of Hats when this is done with entire worlds/species.

No relation to Alfred Hitchcock's comment that "actors should be treated like cattle".



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted in The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You. Despite holding true to its title, the manga doesn't separate the girls into defined groups, as Rentarou considers all of his girlfriends to be on equal footing with one another no matter how long he's known them. What it does instead is have chapters that spotlight different sets of girlfriends, either using some kind of theme - the tsunderes, the ojou-esque girlfriends, the girlfriends who struggle with self-control, etc. - or having them play off against each other for some reason.
  • The opening theme of Angel Beats! pulls the characters into herds, though the ones in the show are a bit different and constantly interact.
  • Because Anpanman holds the world record for most characters in an animated series, the characters are commonly clumped together into groups. Most of the groups are trio-based, but this wasn't always the case. Back when the show got its start, characters could work out on their own easily. One of the most obvious changes comes from the Donburiman Trio. Tendonman was introduced in the first episode, so he had multiple episodes where he was by himself, until the first movie introduced Katsudonman and Kamameshidon. Even after they were introduced as the Donburiman Trio, they still had episodes focusing on only one character for a while. Now, when one of the members of the group gets an episode focusing on them, the other two will still appear in the episode in some way.
  • Bleach after the trip to Soul Society, and especially after the first Rescue Arc. The series already has core protagonist group, plus a Captain and a Lieutenant from all thirteen squads, plus at least a few dozen other characters who are at least tangentially important to the plot, and this whole cast can be split into almost any combination at any given time —and almost always is.
  • A Certain Magical Index has so many characters and so many organizations present that it is inevitable that the cast has been split into multiple groups. Even then, the character sheet only lists sixteen out of an unknown number of groups present in the plot.
  • Baccano! does this due to having nearly 2 dozen 'main' characters in addition to the countless other Mooks and crooks. So you get groups such as the Lemeurs, the Martillo, Russo and Runorata Family, Jaccuzzi's gang, and more featured in the light novels.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs has a group-centric format. The simplest way to split up the cast is "Armed Detective Agency", "Port Mafia", "Guild", and "others", but if you include the Gaiden series there's enough members of the Special Ability Department to group them together too. There's also the Buraiha trio (Dazai, Odasaku, and Ango), the leader trio (Fukuzawa, Mori, and Fitzgerald), and the foreign leader trio (Fitzgerald, Fyodor, and Agatha), among others. And, not unlike what happens in Warrior Cats, more and more groups get added to the base four groups (ADA, Government, Mafia, Guild), like the terrorist organization Decay of Angels, the Rats in the House of the Dead and the elite group Hunting Dogs. Said Guild eventually splinters, creating the Renewed Guild consisting of Alcott and Fitzgerald, and the Remnants of the Guild temporarily led by Steinbeck. You may now take a breath.
  • Case Closed has its story arcs select from one of the following herds: the Mouri family itself, the folks in the Metropolitan Police Department, the Junior Detective League, the Osakans, the Eagleland law enforcement, and so on.
  • By the end of Dragon Ball the main herds were the Son Family, The Briefs, Kami's lookout. Crane School, the Kais, the Kame House and Mr. Satan and Buu. Between the Sons and the Briefs each even had an equivalent in the other herd.note 
  • Durarara!!, (set in the same universe as the above Baccano! although only loosely connected) has a similarly large cast that can be broken down into a number of 'groups' who have a few satellite members, with the exception of Orihara Izaya and Celty, who tend to find themselves involved in everything for various reasons. Somewhat differently than many other cast herds, as the story goes on, one finds there are more and more connections and relationships between groups than one could ever guess, to the point that you could circle any random couple of characters and find a way to group them. Distinct groups include:
    • Current Raira Students: Mikado, Anri and Masaomi, Satellites Include Seiji, Mika, Aoba and the Orihara Twins.
    • Older Generation Raira Students: Shinra, Shizuo, Izaya and Kadota (though Kadota has his own gang too) Satellites Include Namie, Tom, Celty and Kasuka and Ruri. Also Kadota's own gang, of Walker, Erica and Togasa, and later, Chikage.
    • Asakura-Kai Yakuza: Akabayashi, Aozaki, Dougen and Akane.
    • Russia Sushi: Simon and Denis. Later Igor, Slon, and Vorona, and Lingerin and Dracon.
    • Shady Businesses: Namie, Shingen, Emilia, Seitaruo, Yodogiri. Satellites include Shinra, Celty, Mika and Seiji, and Igor.
  • Fairy Tail. There are many wizard "guilds", although it could be considered a subversion, since the guilds are comprised of numerous people, especially the titular one, which more and more characters are joining.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes are close friends, but their subordinates operate largely separate from each other, which is Truth in Television for many military units.
  • The various Gundam series are quite fond of doing this. In particular, three of the five Gundam pilots in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (Quatre, Trowa, and Duo) had their own herds (Wu Fei being an Ineffectual Loner and it's a matter of perspective whether Heero was part of Releena's herd or she was a part of his)
  • Although interaction between the herds is common, Hayate the Combat Butler has a few herds. '13s', '16s', outside of school...
    • Even the 'bad guys' segmented themselves into a herd, though there's little interaction between them anymore, and one of them hasn't even appeared in the manga yet.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers has this. Since all the characters are the embodiments of countries, each group is usually built around or named after a shared geographical, historical or cultural element, which often vary based upon what time period is being shown and/or what topic is being discussed. Some examples:
    • Axis: Italy, Germany and Japan.
    • Allies: Russia, France, China, England and America.note 
    • Germanics: Germany, Austria, Prussia, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
    • Nordics: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. Sometimes extends to include Sealand.
    • Baltics: Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
    • Former USSR: The Baltics + Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus.
    • Micronations: Sealand, Wy, and Seborga. Recently extended to Kugelmugel, Molossia, Hutt River, and Ladonia.
    • Mediterranean: Greece, Egypt, and Turkey. Sometimes Cyprus and Northern Cyprus.
    • Benelux: Belgium and Netherlands, but Luxembourg gets mentioned a lot but never really appears.
    • Far East: Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Macau.
    • Oceania: Australia and New Zealand, but also includes Tonga, Wy, and Hutt River.
  • Lampshaded in His and Her Circumstances, where aside from Asaba, Yukino and Arima have mostly exclusive friends to themselves. Miyazawa's tomboy friend and Arima's friend are left over after everyone else leaves and fall into awkward conversation because they are explained to be "the characters who never talk to each other".
  • Ikki Tousen, being based off of Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, has the characters divided into schools that usually parallel their alliance in the novel it was based off.
  • Infinite Ryvius splits its huge cast of teenage space refugees into various social cliques. These are helpfully emphasized in the opening sequence, which arranges everyone by their group. The groups quickly begin to fluctuate, mix and change once the plot gets rolling.
  • Inuyasha has four of them, including the Big Bad, likely since the creator has no idea how to create an Evil Empire for him.
  • With its very large cast of idols, Lapis Re:LiGHTs separates the characters by their school/idol groups. For example, protagonist Tiara forms a Five-Man Band with LiGHTS.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes does this quite effectively: The cast of hundreds is divided neatly in two, Imperial and Alliance. Within the Alliance, the most important Herd is that of Yang Wen-Li, likewise in the Empire with Reinhard Von Lohengramm. This is emphasized when the Alliance is reduced to just Yang's Herd, and the Empire is taken over by Reinhard.
  • The Love Live! franchise uses this gratuitously since there are a rather large quantity of characters that are considered "main" characters (with 5 being the absolute minimum). The most common herd formations are by class year, in which the 1st years, 2nd years and 3rd years will primarily interact within their own groups and will have occasional crossover with other groups, which is the case in Love Live! and Love Live! Sunshine!!. Further series have more unique divisions; Love Live! Superstar!!, Love Live! School Idol Festival ALL STARS and Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club has most of the cast mingling interchangeably, although there are specific pairings of characters who are rarely seen apart, such as Sumire and Keke or Kasumi and Shizuku. Link! Like! Love Live! explicitly divides characters by subunit pairings, with most of their major interactions occurring with their designated partner. Subunit audio dramas exclusively divide characters by subunit regardless of anime or game.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS has Riot Force Six divided as Forward Stars, Forward Lightning, and the Long Arch crew. After the group gets split up, they got grouped by TSAB branches, such as Combat Instructors (Nanoha, Vita), Enforcers (Fate, Teana), Investigators (Hayate, Reinforce Zwei), Air Force (Signum, Agito), Disaster Relief (Subaru), and Nature Conservation (Erio, Caro). Also, when the Numbers get a Heel–Face Turn, they got split between those that went to the Saint Church and those adopted by the Nakajima family (and those that didn't turn and are currently incarcerated).
  • Naruto has this, with the different four-member squads. Occasionally the groups do get mixed around to form temporary task forces, but most of the time they work in their original squads. The herding doesn't stop there:
    • Some individuals, usually never in the same squad, belong to certain clans, sharing skills and talents inherited through blood or tradition.
    • A whole community of ninjas, including several entire clans, live in villages. Each has its own unique set of clans, institutions, culture, history and style of governance.
    • Then there are formally and purposefully gathered groups that are bigger than squads, have a mix of talents like squads, but because the members all tend to be of elite calibre, do not necessarily operate like squads. Examples: "The Seven Swordsmen of the Mist", "The Twelve Guardians of Fire Country", "Akatsuki".
  • The Holy Grail Wars in the Nasuverse fit this trope nicely: seven teams in a fight to the death, each consisting of a Master/Servant pair and often additional supporting characters. Fate/stay night is mostly told from the point-of-view of one Master, while Fate/Zero generally shares the focus among many teams.
  • With more than thirty girls in the class taught by the protagonist, Negima makes the most of this, though there is less shifting as the popularity of characters has solidified. Most of the class is divided into reasonably logical Cast Herds based on interests: the jocks, the cheerleaders, and dormmates. Some shift around into the other herds. Naturally, Negi's group is made of the most popular characters. This is lampshaded in a filler chapter involving the quirky but rarely seen 'leftovers', who according to Evangeline are boring and lack sex appeal.
    • In addition, the series takes the concept to the max with the soundtracks for the anime adaptations. Image Songs are done by groups rather than just individuals, and the second series' opening theme has multiple versions of its theme song: one lyrical, one each with spoken lines from each herd, and on final version of the lyrical verse with all the girls singing it at once.
    • There is also a truly staggering number of herds outside the class, as well. There's the staff of Mahora, there's Chamo and Chachazero, there's the inhabitants of Mundus Magicus (who are themselves divided into innumerable herds, such as Fate's group, the Government, the Gladiators, the Royal Knights, the Bounty Hunters, Mama Bear, and a random group of adventurers), there's the Welsh mages, there's the non-3A students of Mahora, there's the Kyoto villains, there's Ala Rubra... the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on....
    • The Baka Rangers! More of a plot point than a herd really, but still.
  • One Piece, with its over 25-year run, has built about a kajillion characters by now. Luckily, the series premise allows them to be easily split off into various different ship crews. The captain usually serves as both herd leader and spokesman.
  • Sailor Moon is a lesser example. The main narrative focus is always on the title character, but there are two groups of protagonists who more or less remain apart from one another. The Inner Guardians (Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus) form a team centered around Sailor Moon, later adding Sailor Chibi Moon; the Outer Guardians, who play a semi-antagonistic role in the Infinity arc and the '90s anime's corresponding S season, end up forming a family unit and doing their own thing in the Dream arc / SuperS season and after, mostly only interacting occasionally with Sailor Moon.
  • Saki easily divides each of its four five-person mahjong teams (not counting side characters like Fujita or Touka's butler) by school. Even then, the more distinct a character design someone has, the more likely they are to be an important character. Kiyosumi (the main characters) and Ryuumonbuchi (the rivals) have the highest amount of important characters.
  • Even though Soul Eater has a large cast, it's relatively easy to remember everyone, even name all seventy or so main protagonists and antagonists that have shown up throughout the series. For example, Squad A is led by Maka, whose squad consists of herself, Blackstar, and the Kid. If you add in their weapons, that's seven right off the bat. Nine if you count Crona and Ragnarok. Then add Squad B, the adults and their weapons, and repeat with every side in this horribly complicated war.

    Comic Books 
  • Most comic book super hero universes have GIGANTIC casts with thousands of characters. These get split along various lines, including what team they tend to belong to (X-Men vs The Avengers, for example) what sort of crime they fight (a street-level hero like Batman vs a world-saving hero like Superman) and their ages (young heroes like the Teen Titans, old hands like the Justice Society, and so forth.)
    • Continuing villains tend to be foiled by the same hero every time. This makes more sense for DC, in which each hero tends to be based on a different fictional city (Gotham, Metropolis ...), than for Marvel, which has most of them in New York; why doesn't Doc Ock attract the Fantastic Four's attention?
  • When Brian Michael Bendis left Ultimate X Men, incoming writer Brian K. Vaughan was left with a team of thirteen people, and spent much of his time Cast Herding. Throughout his run, various characters would pair off and leave, but continue to make appearances in their own storylines. The remaining characters were constantly split up based on plot demands.
  • Gotham Central divided its characters, which are all cops of the same unit, into two shifts, each with their own supervisors and in-house drama. The shifts often had to interact with each other or share information, but the focus tended to be put on one shift at a time.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes, whenever written by Paul Levitz or anyone following his style—which most people seem to do, since the title team usually has at least fifteen to twenty characters to keep track of. This is not including various police officers, civilians, important supporting cast members, government officials, family members, other superheroes, villains, villain teams (sometimes as large as the title team), and about three major problems at once. Sometimes more. They are protecting a whole galaxy, after all (and a few times, the entire universe and/or multiverse).
    • There have been certain periods where the Legion was publishing two books and they'd have the cast of one of the titles separated in some way (e.g. trapped in the 20th/21st century, flung to the far end of the galaxy).
  • Lampshaded in Terry Moore's run on Runaways, where a miscast spell by Nico caused the team to become unable to work together, resulting in them going off on different errands.
  • ElfQuest used this trope occasionally, typically dividing the elves up by tribe. Especially during wartime situations, a number of elves will always choose to stay behind to ensure the species' survival.
  • Albedo: Erma Felna EDF, for obvious reasons, has its enormous cast divided by their respective country, organization, or species. Sometimes, some of those herds has their own sub-herds, mostly split by families, clans or alliances.
  • Luann: In the post-high school strips, the stories tend to be divided between Luann's junior college, Bernice, Gunther and Tiffany at Moony U and Brad and Toni's place. All of which includes the new characters introduced in each location. And then there's "The Fuse"—the cafe co-owned by Luann's parents and Gunther's eventual stepdad, Mr. Gray. The Fuse contains both the non-college/non-Brad cast, plus hosts most (non-Sunday strip) interactions between the various herds.

    Fan Works 
  • A Is A has the cast in several teams, with each story focusing on the actions of two or three teams, through the viewpoints of several characters in said teams.
  • Pokémon Crossing divides its main cast into different groups: the three main protagonists, Tom Nook and his family, Gym Leaders and their gym trainers and families, the Hawkwind family and their employees, Teams Pastel and Cottage (two bosses, two admins per team, and plenty of grunts underneath), and characters not associated with any of the above. And that's not getting to the Pokémon owned by each individual character.
  • A Thing of Vikings starts out with pretty much everyone and all the action taking place on Berk, but it branches out and the cast grows considerably starting with the diplomatic trip to Norway. Hiccup and all his peers except Fishlegs drive the story in Norway, while Fishlegs, Stoick, Gobber, and Heather give the viewpoint back on Berk (Hiccup and the others except Snotlout rejoin the Berk herd, though they're still somewhat separate from the adult generation). After Snotlout leaves for Constantinople, he becomes the center of his own cast herd. And after the Hooligans conquer Vedrarfjord, Hákon and Gunvor form the core of a new group focusing on events there. Other groups form around Drago and Mulan, as each of them lead their cast herd on long journeys. The rapid travel possibilities of dragons allow for much more fluidity between cast herds, but there are still groups clustered in various key locations like Berk, Vedrarfjord, and Constantinople.

    Films - Live Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War divides its main cast into several groups, and justifiably, given the large roster.
    • Avengers: Endgame follows suit, splitting all the heroes into various teams as they venture into the Quantum Realm.
  • Gosford Park: The large number of characters are separated into "above stairs" and "below stairs", and are listed as such in the credits.
  • The Longest Day follows men from several main groups such as the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force, the 82nd US Airborne Division, the 2nd Ranger Battalion, the 29th US Infantry Division (on Omaha Beach), the crew of the USS Satterlee, the 3rd British Infantry Division, some Royal Air Force pilots, the 6th British Airlanding Brigade, the Free French Kieffer Commandos, the German generals, Erwin Rommel and his staff, some Luftwaffe pilots and the local French resistance in Normandy. There are smaller ones too. Only a few of the groups cross each other's path.
  • Love Actually has the seven different groups of characters and the colleagues, family, and friends involved in their stories, The paths of major characters occasionally intersect, but each group's story is largely self-contained, to the point where the storyline of John and Just Judy is omitted entirely in some showings to make the movie (relatively) more family friendly.

  • Discworld does this between books—most can be classified as Witches, Wizards, City (of which the Watch is the most frequently recurring), Death or Other. There is a lot of overlap though: Death appears in all the books except The Wee Free Men; any novel with a scene in Ankh-Morpork is likely to have either the wizards or the Watch show up; Lords and Ladies is basically a Witches/Wizards crossover; Unseen Academicals is a Wizards novel that continues the themes of the City books, and so on.
  • In Dragons in Our Midst, we start with the main True Companions, Billy, Bonnie, and Walter, and the professor. From there, we have each of their families, the other anthrozils, the dragons in Sheol, the dragons in Dragon's Rest, the slayers, Morgana and her henchmen, the Watchers, all of those who were at Doctor Conner's lab, and several different factions within Sheol.
    • Then we have the sequel series, Oracles of Fire. Cast members added include all of the Nephlim, the characters from the Arc time period, which somewhat overlaps with the characters from the Tower of Babel time period, more anthrozils, the ten men from Sheol, characters in Heaven... the list goes on and on and on.
  • There is a reason that Eccentric Neighborhoods opens with not one but two genealogical charts for narrator Elvira's family:
    • Alvaro Rivas de Santillana and Valeria Boffil and their children: Clarissa (Elvira's mother), Siglinda, Dido, Artemisa, Lakhmé and Alejandro.
    • Santiago Vernet and Adela Pasamontes and their children: Ulises, Aurelio (Elvira's father), Roque, Damián, Celia, and Amparo.
      • And of course, most of the children have families of their own.
  • Gone, especially in later books. There's the Sam's group, Caine's group, the Human Crew, and the Island kids, plus whoever the Gaiaphage is using at the moment. People do occasionally switch from one group to another, though, like Diana and Quinn at the end of Plague, and the Island kids have now kind of merged with Sam's group.
  • As the Honor Harrington universe grew, this had to happen (not counting the assorted spin-off series). Towards the end of the war with Haven it wasn't unusual to have the Royal Manticoran Navy section of the book (usually, but not always, featuring Harrington herself), the Manticoran political section, the Havenite navy section (usually starring the honorable officers who were starting to conspire against the People's Republic), and the Havenite political section with Pierre and Saint-Just. The end of the war moved the posts: the Havenite cast joined with the Manticorans, and now the books tend to be divided between the Solarians, the Grand Alliance, and the Mesan Alignment. Note that this doesn't include the Torch and Talbott sub-series; the former follow the "Spook Duo" of Victor Cachat and Anton Zilwicki, and the latter follow events in the Talbott Quadrant near the Lynx Terminus of the Junction.note 
  • House of Leaves has three separate areas of story. The part about the movie concerning Navidson and his family. Then there is the book itself, which is written by Zampano and commented on by various one-shot academics. Lastly there is Johnny's part, which contains the adventures of the author's author (Or however the hell you describe anything in the book), as he goes absolutely insane. The only interaction comes in the beginning before and just after Zampano dies, and that barely constitutes interaction.
  • InCryptid: The books have Rotating Protagonists, so the characters tend to cluster around one of the viewpoint characters, especially since they're geographically spread out. So Verity's group is mostly characters in New York, Alex's group is in Ohio, and Antimony's group travels with her, losing and gaining members as they go (while she's infiltrating the Covenant, when she's with the carnival, when she's at Lowryland, and in New Gravesend). The cast herd is really shown in Aftermarket Afterlife, Mary's first POV book, since she can teleport between groups, so we have her interacting with different herds in Portland, New York, and Ohio.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: The goblins have their quirks but they have more identity as a group than individuals and they're always together. Likewise, Rufus calls for them in every scene he's in.
  • Happens in the second and third volumes of The Lord of the Rings—you've got Pippin/Merry, Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli, and Frodo/Sam in The Two Towers, and it's even further split in Return of the King into Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli, Gandalf/Pippin, Théoden/Éowyn/Merry and Frodo/Sam, and the chapters alternate between each group.
  • Malevil features a few, while the cast merges together at the titular castle, they tend to stick with their original members while in the background. You have the original Malevil survivors, the "troglodytes" of L'Étang, the oppressed La Roque citizens, and the oppressing La Roque parish.
  • Song at Dawn: Alienor's Ladies-In-Waiting are referred to 'the Ladies' as if they were a single identity. A Running Gag is Estela and/or Dragonetz failing to tell them apart. For instance '(blah blah) from Mary or Candance'.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a plot that spans across several regions and continents, and often divides groups of characters by where their story takes place (Jon and the Night's Watch in the North, Dany and her royal party in the Free Cities, etc.) Since most of the plot deals with politics and warfare between dynastic houses, characters are also divided further by their family alliance (The Starks, The Lannisters, The Baratheons, etc.)
  • Unda Vosari actually started with a small cast of characters, then grew to over several dozen characters (both main and secondary). Some were Put on a Bus (the "Silent Vigil" ship) while others are still on a Long Bus Trip (as the sequel novels are still being written.
  • Warrior Cats starts off book one with ThunderClan, WindClan, ShadowClan, RiverClan, StarClan and the Twolegplace kittypets. The story has since grown to include the normal Clans at different time periods, SkyClan, BloodClan, The Dark Forest, The Tribe of Rushing Water, The Tribe of Endless Hunting, The Ancients, the cats that founded the Clans, and many, many side groups such as Daisy's barn, Jingo's group, the traveling rogues, the mountain rogues, Stick and Dodge's groups, and Darktail's rogues.
  • After a couple of books, The Wheel of Time series splits its Farm Boy Power Trio onto their own paths and gives each their own supporting cast. The main female leads also get their own herds.
    • Book one: one plotline, one cast.
    • Books two and three: the boys' herd and the girls' herd.
    • Books four and five: Rand's herd, Perrin's herd, Elayne and Nynaeve's herd.
    • Books six to thirteen: Four Lines, All Waiting.

    Live Action TV 
  • The 100: After the first few minutes of the pilot episode, it takes practically five seasons to get all the main characters back in the same geographic location.
    • Season 1 has the cast split between the delinquents on the ground and the adults up in space.
    • Season 2 splits the cast between those inside Mount Weather, those gathered together on the outside (though those two herds combine in the season finale), and Jaha, who spends most of the season off doing his own thing.
    • Season 3 has one group of characters living in Polis and another living in Arkadia, though which characters make up which group changes drastically about halfway through the season.
    • Season 4 maintains action in both Polis and Arkadia, adding Becca's lab as a third base for some of the characters.
    • Substantial parts of Season 5 are Flashbacks dealing with a six-year Time Skip in which the cast is divided into three groups out of contact with one another: in the bunker, in space, and in Shallow Valley. They reorganize into two herds based on Octavia and Diyoza's respective authorities fairly early in the present-day story, then finally all converge at the end of the season once nowhere on Earth is left habitable.
  • Babylon 5: Had this to varying degrees during its run. While there was always some overlap, all the major parties would split up into subgroups as events heated up. During the revolution to overthrow President Clark, they were separated into the space war with the main Earth military officers, the ground war on Mars, and everyone else back at the station (primarily the non-human characters). There was also the Narn/Centauri issues which usually led to Londo and G'Kar doing stuff separate from the rest of the cast.
  • Barney & Friends: In Sing and Dance with Barney, everyone arrives in groups which are periodically rearranged throughout the rest of the show.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Had its share of this; it wasn't until halfway through the second season that all the characters were actually in the same place, with other significant splits since then like the group left on New Caprica, or Starbuck's crew while she's finding the way to Earth.
    • Then of course later on there were splits between Cylon-centric scenes and human-centric scenes. This started with the Cylon-centric second season episode "Downloaded," which was the first time we really got a look at how Cylon society functioned, but it became a lot more frequent after that. To complicate things further, there were plenty of Cast Herds in human society as well (Baltar's harem being one of the most obvious ones).
  • Better Call Saul: The cast is usually split between the "legal" side (Kim, Howard, Chuck) and the "criminal" side (Mike, Nacho, Gus, Lalo), with Jimmy being involved in both. As the series goes on, Kim also becomes more involved in the criminal side, and the two words collide when Lalo kills Howard.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Focuses primarily on Atlantic City, but also features recurring characters based in Chicago (Al Capone, Johnny Torrio and, as of the third season, Nelson van Alden) and New York (Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky); for the first two seasons, neither herd's home turf has much bearing on the plot and their relevance usually results from their business in Atlantic City, but as of the third season, both the New York and Chicago arcs are much more self-contained.
  • While Chousei Kantai Sazer X only has three (later four) heroes, it also has a large supporting cast that includes the Sazer-X support crew, the Three Shoguns, Takuto's family members and the Neo Descal Standard Evil Organization Squad. This usually leads to subplots where one of the main characters is grouped with several supporting ones.
  • Cobra Kai: The casts of the different karate dojos are generally self-contained between the Cobra Kai cast and the Miyagi-Do cast.
  • Brazilian primetime soaps: These shows, which always have a massive Ensemble Cast, tend to cluster the cast like this, even using an official term: nuclei. There may be the "protagonist nucleus", the "comedic nucleus", the "suburban nucleus", the "favela nucleus" etc.
  • Community often split up its cast between "young" (Annie, Troy, and Abed), "old" (Shirley and Pierce), and "in-between" (Jeff and Britta). Although there were frequent overlaps, by the time that Troy left Greendale, Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown observed in the DVD commentary that they had never actually had a significant, one-on-one on-screen conversation.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • Happens with the Earl's family ("upstairs") and the servants ("downstairs").
    • However, one character, Series 1-2 chauffeur Tom Branson, was always half-here, half-there, as being the chauffeur he had less occasion to spend time with the other servants and a great deal of occasion to cart the Crawleys around; by Series 3 he's more "upstairs"—having married Sibyl—but has occasional "downstairs" storylines.
  • Farscape:
    • This was becoming a problem at one point, the solution of which was to clone the main character and send one of each off with roughly half the cast and then alternate between the groups until enough characters had died to recombine them.
    • If that was the case, then it didn't work—only one of the Crichtons died, and of the other characters only Stark left the show. Zhaan died at the start of the season, and Crais and Talyn died at the end of it—long (respectively) before and after the split-up)
  • Heroes: Happens a lot, with the cast being split up almost constantly (the Petrellis; the Bennets; Nikki, DL and Micah; Hiro and Ando; etc).
    • This results in a funny line in the season 2 finale where Matt and Hiro, both major characters since the beginning of season 1, run into each other for the first time, and Matt responds to Hiro's usual odd behavior with a dismayed "Who's this guy supposed to be?!"
  • Game of Thrones universe:
    • Game of Thrones: The cast is divided into several herds. In the seventh season, after the deaths of almost half the cast and new alliances in the last season, the herds are:
      • The King's Landing herd (including Jaime, Cersei, Euron, Bronn, the Mountain, and Qyburn).
      • The Wall herd (including Dolourous Edd, Meera and Bran).
      • Daenerys's herd (including Dany, Missandei, Grey Worm, Tyrion, Olenna, Yara, Theon, Varys, Ellaria and the sand snakes).
      • The Winterfell herd (including Jon, Sansa, Davos, Petyr, Lyanna, Tormund, Brienne, Podrick, Lord Royce, Lord Glover).
      • The Brotherherd (the Hound, Beric and Thoros)
      • The Citadel herd (Jorah, Sam, Gilly, Little Sam, Archmaester Ebrose)
      • And Arya and Melisandre, each traveling alone.
    • House of the Dragon: By the end of Season 2, there's two herds, each one a side of the brewing Civil War and each claiming the Iron Throne for their leader (and those herds started becoming visible when the grandchildren of King Viserys started feuding):
      • The Blacks (Rhaenyra Targaryen, Daemon Targaryen, their children, House Velaryon and others).
      • The Greens (House Hightower - Alicent, Otto, Hobert - Aegon II, Aemond, Helaena, Jason and Tyland Lannister, Larys Strong and others).
  • Gotham splits it pretty evenly between Gordon and the GCPD solving crimes, Oswald Cobblepot moving up through the ranks of the Mob, and young Bruce Wayne training/on the run with Selina/combating the corruption in his father's company. The three herds do tend to converge on significantly large threats, though.
  • Lost:
    • Makes use of distinct character groups, though they tend to merge by the end. Season 2 split them into the Tailies (with Ana-Lucia as spokesman and most important, and most appearing character) and the fuselage survivors; season 3 had the herds of the people in the camp and people captured by the Others (and it changed regularly as it went on); and season 4 featured Jack's group, Locke's group, the people on the boat, and the people from the boat. Notably, the latter two were prone to vanishing from the plot often. Season 5 continues the trend: on the one hand, we have the on-island characters, and on the other, the off-island characters. Then shifts to 1977 characters and 2007 characters, which in turn splits into the 316 survivors (lead by Ilana) and the people on the main Island. The off-Island plot (AKA Desmond's) vanishes here, outside of a flashback and a few brief scenes in "The Variable". Season 6 eventually comes down to Jacob's people and The Man In Black's people.
    • Averted Trope by season 1: A big deal is made initially about who is on the beach and who is in the caves, but this distinction quickly became meaningless as characters go from camp to camp so often that it's hard to remember who chose to go where. This split is ultimately forgotten and the survivors all move back to the beach in early season 2.
    • Also early on there was a core group of characters who did everything. If something was going on, it included some combination of Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer and Sayid. This was because at the beginning Lost's Myth Arc was just forming. We were treated to a lot of 'life on the beach' subplots with characters like Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Claire, Hugo, Jin, Sun, etc. The writers gave several instances of Lampshade Hanging to this. Characters would drift in and out of the two groups, but it was removed completely later on. Arguably by the fourth or fifth season all the characters were directly involved in the mythology of the island.
    • This was also lampshaded repeatedly after the on-screen introduction of the Others, with characters using the phrase(s) "my/your/their people."
  • Modern Family is about one large extended family, but often split into the three households that compose it.
  • Oz: In the second season, the Unit Manager of Emerald City begins to identify his inmates as being in one of ten groups: Muslims, Homeboys, Italians, Latinos, Aryans, Bikers, Irish, Gays, Christians, and Others.
  • Revolution: It's easier to look at the characters in terms of groups: Mathesons, Nevilles, Thompsons, Blackmores, Pittmans, O'Hallorans, Claytons, The Monroe Republic, The Tower Clan/Dwellers, The Georgia Federation, The Plains Nation, and so on.
  • Soap Opera: In fact, this is pretty much a staple of all instances of this type of show. They're usually separated into multiple plot lines, and scenes are shot in blocks.
  • Stranger Things had several casts, most strongly emphasized in the first season, and each with their own genre.
    • The Spielberg-movie herd consists of Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven (and Max, Will and Steve in Season 2). The Paranormal/Conspiracy Thriller herd has Joyce and Hopper. The Teen Horror Flick herd has Nancy, Barb, and Jonathan, while the Teen Romantic Comedy has Steve, Nancy, and Steve's friends (and Billy in Season 2), although Steve does stumble his way into the Horror herd near the end of Season 1.
    • By the end of Season 1 and into Season 2, the herds begin to blur more as Steve joins up with the Party, Hopper takes Eleven in, and Nancy and Jonathan take on more of the Conspiracy Thriller slack to get justice for Barb's death.
    • Season 3 has four herds. The Party (Will, Mike, Lucas, Eleven, and Max) start investigating the returned Shadow Monster. Nancy and Jonathan are looking into "weird rats". Joyce and Hopper look into why her magnets stopped working and stumble into a Russian base and collect Alexei and Murray. Steve, Robin, Dustin, and Erica look into a odd radio message and stumble into the Russian base.
  • Upstairs Downstairs: With more than 20 recurring characters, this period drama has its two distinct Cast Herds conveniently marked in the title. Upstairs is the well-off Bellamy family; Downstairs is their staff of servants, a sort of family of its own.
  • Westworld has several ongoing storylines at once. In the first season, there is the herd of the people in command, Maeve's herd, Dolores, Billy, and Logan, and whoever the Man in Black is dragging around at the time (first Lawrence and later Teddy). Justified because the Dolores/Billy/Logan storyline is taking place years in the past; eventually, Billy grows up to become the Man in Black.
  • Veep does this in Season 6, as the end of the Meyer administration sends the cast all off on their different ways: Selina starts a foundation, supported by Gary, Richard, Catherine, Marjorie and Mike. Amy gets engaged to her minor love interest from Season 5, who's now running for Governor of Nevada though when he drops out, she leaves him and rejoins Selina. Ben and Kent are working for Jonah in Congress. Dan is now working at CBS.
  • Gilmore Girls basically has three main storylines: Friday Night Dinners at the Gilmore house, the going-ons of Stars Hollow and Rory's school life. There's a lot of overlap with major characters, of course, but Rory is really the only character who is involved in all three stories.
  • The Defenders (2017): With the exceptions really of Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, most of the supporting cast members brought in from the standalone shows primarily spend their time interacting with their home show's main character. Karen Page and Foggy Nelson, coming from Daredevil (2015), primarily only interact with Matt, aside from some small interactions with other characters (like Karen and Trish's interaction). Likewise, Trish Walker and Malcolm Ducasse, coming from Jessica Jones (2015), only really interact with Jessica.
  • The Punisher (2017) has several different groups of casts for the four different storylines: Frank and David are working together to kill the plotters of Operation Cerberus, Dinah Madani and Sam Stein are hunting for the same people to get justice for Ahmed Zubair, Billy Russo and William Rawlins are working to destroy anything linking them to Operation Cerberus, and Lewis Wilson is going on a downward spiral due to his PTSD. Lewis's storyline intertwines with the A plot thanks to Lewis and Frank being both acquaintances of Curtis Hoyle, while intertwining with the Russo storyline when Curtis has to tell Russo to reject Lewis from being hired at Anvil.
  • War of the Worlds (2019) has three separate groups of characters: a group of survivors in London, a scientist and soldiers in the French Alps, and a family in Northern France. The father of one of the London families is with the family in Northern France, but otherwise there is no direct connection between the three groups.

  • LOONA is a 12 member South Korean girlgroup, but has 3 subunits within it: LOONA 1/3, LOONA/ODD EYE CIRCLE, and LOONA/yyxy. They all have distinctive musical motifs, with LOONA 1/3 generally being more Lighter and Softer love songs while ODD EYE CIRCLE have a Hotter and Sexier R&B pop sound. yyxy returns to the Lighter and Softer image and sound, but with a Corrupt the Cutie undertone implied in some of their lyrics and music videos. And then there's YeoJin, the only member of the group who isn't part of any of the subunits (though she's associated with LOONA 1/3).
  • The Tsukipro Cast of Personifications idol series has 13 units, each grouped into "series" of two units starting with the two Tsukiuta series in 2012, and separated into pairs within their units. Each series has their own stage play series, and the herd leader rule is often averted when they guest star in each others' series — it's determined by the actors' availability. But in SQ and Alive's combined anime series (season 1 in 2017, season 2 in 2021) do rotate the focal unit in every episode, with the focal unit for that episode performing the opening and ending themes.
  • Likewise, South Korean boygroup SEVENTEEN divides its 13 members among three different units: Vocal Unit (the main singers), Performance Unit (the main dancers) and Hip-Hop Unit (the main rappers). Each album and EP usually features one track by each unit, while the main song is performed by the full group.

  • BIONICLE splits the cast into numerous different species and organizations. The Toa, Matoran, Turaga, Skakdi, Vortixx, Zyglak, Agori, Skrall, and Glatorian are the (named) species, and the Dark Hunters, Brotherhood of Makuta, and the Order of Mata Nui are the organizations (plus numerous Toa teams). Some species have a tendency to join specific orders. The Matoran species in itself is split into several elemental types that act as independent subcultures. It's pretty easy to split them into groups of 6, since that's how they were arranged in the toyline. Usually it was a Toa team of 6, and 6 villains who opposed them (Piraka, Barraki, etc.), though in the 2008 storyline they were divided into two groups of 3 heroes and 3 villains, with the other 3 of each side in a different location (Phantoka and Mistika).

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney clearly separates all of its characters into several distinct "groups": defense attorneys, assistants, prosecutors, defendants, witnesses, detectives, and judges. If there are any outliers, they are very few. Some characters may overlap into other roles on occasion, but usually fall mostly into one category.
  • Brawl Stars splits its many playable characters into trios based on various themes, with each having their own associated location. In promotional material, there's decent of amounts of interaction between characters regardless of what trio they belong to. Some trios are made up of characters with close ties with each other (with a couple being family) and others seem to exist just to group up the remaining characters.
  • Super Robot Wars can, of course, split characters among their own series (but they may need their usual herds anyway), and occasionally mixes characters into new herds depending on the story. In the Original Generation games, they're usually divided by their military units (ATX Team, SRX team, Octo Squad, Aggressors, etc...), couples (and there are a lot of them), and sometimes by ship (whether they usually travel with the Hagane or Hiryu Custom).
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn involves three separate armies. Only the army leaders wind up talking to each other. When they team up to fight the Big Bad, only the leaders and mandatory characters say anything. Justified because of the game's Anyone Can Die nature—if a character was to say something, and they had died earlier on, there would have to be a different conversation involving a different character, and if that one had died... It just keeps going on. Using the characters that would net you a Game Over if they died was really the only solution.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses, as its title suggests, features three houses in the game's Military Academy representing the three major nation-states of the setting: the Black Eagles of the Adrestrian Empire, the Blue Lions of the Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Golden Deer of the Leicester Alliance. There is also the faculty of the monastery (including members of the clergy), as well as a secret fourth house in the game's DLC, the Ashen Wolves. While it is possible to recruit students from other houses into your chosen house, the house you choose to lead determines which characters are given focus.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Cygames eventually organized playable characters into these, with the story characters as the main one, Society members in another, the Holy Knights of Lumiel as one, the ten Eternals, etc...
  • A trend for a fully-voiced card game, Shadowverse has hundreds of voiced cards across several languages, so this becomes inevitable.
  • The Subspace Emissary of Super Smash Bros. Brawl has several groups of characters that intersect, divide, and ultimately all converge for the finale.
  • The ever-growing Touhou Project cast is often divided by where they live (most endgame bosses work with that principle), their race (the fairies), their occupation (Team Magic), their status (most demo bosses, Team ⑨), pairing (again, Team Magic) or even all or most of these at once (The protagonists).
    • The cast is somewhat of a Geodesic Cast, where all the final bosses tend to have similar sets of servants that form cast herds, as well. It's only the characters outside of those cast herds (like the low-level bosses that make up the ⑨ squad) that form cast herds elsewhere.
    • The witches trio actually has a member, Magic Librarian Patchouli, that belongs to two separate cast herds—she's a live-in member of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, and a partially-willing inductee of "Team Marisa's Harem".
  • Final Fantasy VI, early on, splits the fledgling party into 3 different groups (Terra/Edgar, Locke, and Sabin) and sends them off to different parts of the world. After playing through all three plot lines the party (plus a couple new members) are reunited to continue the game.
  • Kingdom Hearts' Cast Herding is the only thing stopping it from being unfollowable as a series; there's at least 200 unique characters from Disney, Final Fantasy, and original characters that are thankfully separated into worlds with only a few characters in each one, and only about half of the characters in each world are important. Still, there's at least 25 worlds so far since Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, and there's at least 30 characters who can go between worlds.
  • The King of Fighters is also notable for this. Although already has team separation; more and more teams came later on. Considering the unstoppable climax of sequels flowing and flowing all time, the entire list of teams is too long to specify here: if you're a KoF fan, you already must know 'em all by heart.
  • Paladins separates it's cast in the menu's by their role: Damage, Flank, Support or Frontline.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series tends to herd its characters into certain groups, most commonly into groups of three, which Sonic Heroes took and made it the game's central mechanic. Outside of that game however, certain groupings tend to be recurring:
    • The "main" group is Sonic and Tails, who are occasionally joined by Knuckles and/or Amy depending on the game.
    • If he's not acting on his own, expect Shadow to be paired with Rouge and/or Omega.
    • The Chaotix are the only group who are almost never seen apart. The only exceptions being Sonic Free Riders and Team Sonic Racing where Vector joins Team Rose along with Amy and Cream, and with Silver and Blaze respectively.
    • Big and Cream used to be in a herd along with Amy, but after a while Amy became more associated with Sonic's group while Cream is usually with her mother, Vanilla. Big tends to be on his own nowadays with his pet, and make cameos. Big returns to Team Rose in Team Sonic Racing while Cream is strangely absent.
    • Ever since Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Silver and Blaze are usually paired together
  • In Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, there are so many fictional and historical characters from The Peloponnesian War and Classical Mythology that the game has several groupings to keep track such as the Eagle Bearer and Allies (Alexios/Kassandra, Ikaros, Barnabas, Herodotus and Hippokrates), The Cult of Kosmos (Deimos, Aspasia/The Ghost of Kosmos, the Eyes of Kosmos, the Silver Vein, Heroes of the Cult, Worshippers of the Bloodline, Delian League, Peloponnesian League and Gods of the Aegean Sea), The Order of the Ancients (Xerxes, Order of Hunters, Order of the Storm and Order of Dominion), The Greek World (Leonidas, Archidamos, Pausanias, Myrrine, Nikolas, Stentor, Brasidas, Testikles, Lysander, Perikles, Kleon, Sokrates, Alkibiades, Kleon, Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Markos, Phoibe, The Cyclops, Aletheia, Artaxeres, Pythagoras, Skoura and Darius), Love Interests (Aikaterine, Alkibiades, Auxesia, Daphnae, Diona, Kosta, Kyra, Thaletas, Lykaon, Mikkos, Odessa, Roxana, Xenia, Zopheras, Adonis, Lykinos, Timotheos, Natakas/Neema and Thyia), Legendary Creatures (Brontes the Thunderer, The Writhing Dead, The Minotaur, The Spyhnx, Steropes the Lightning Bringer, Arges the Bright One, Cerberos and Hekatonchire) and the Atlantis Simulation (Persephone, Hekate, Hermes Trismegistus, Kyros of Zarax, Kolossi, Hades, Charon, Cerberos, the Fallen Guardians, Poseideon, Sons of Poseidon, Lyra, Melitta and Elpis).
  • In Fantasy Life, each job makes the player better acquainted with a handful of characters with the same job. The groups associated with each job don't interact with each other for the most part, despite sometimes being close neighbors. Exceptions include a Paladin that used to be a blacksmith and crafting jobs that need materials from other jobs (e.g. carpenters in regards to tailors and woodcutters and blacksmiths in regards to miners). Given the game has 12 jobs, that still makes about 50 people who only speak to their colleagues.
  • Ensemble Stars! absolutely loves this trope, to the point of having several different overlapping sets of herds. First of all, every character is part of an idol unit—this is their 'main' herd and the one characters are most often organised by. (E.g., stories usually revolve around units, merchandise is usually sold in unit sets, etc.) Characters also all have a club, giving them at least one other relationship and another indicator of their personality and interests. Lastly is the class—there are three years and each has two classes, A and B. No two characters share more than two of those herds together, allowing all of them to bounce off many different kinds of characters. And that's not even the end of it—there are even more herds, like the previous members of old units, or the Five Oddballs, or the student council... Most stories tend to focus on one of these herds (usually but not always units for event stories, but gacha stories can mix things up more), and they're the easiest way to understand how huge cast relates to one another without overloading your brain with the sheer number of important relationships.
  • Most of the playable cast in Princess Connect! Re:Dive is grouped by the guild they belong to. The main exceptions are crossover characters, who due to their nature don't belong to a guild, and even then most of them can still be grouped together by the source material they came from. At the time of writing, the only non-crossover characters that don't belong to a guild are Muimi and Neneka.
  • The Team Fortress 2 classes are separated into their respective roles; Attack, defense and Support. The characters in each category usually stick together.
  • League of Legends' lore divides its 150+ Champion cast by the regions they come from, often dividing them further into individual factions of those regions. Each region has its own plots, visual language, and characterization, with characters' stories often being related to those of their region. Legends of Runeterra, the card game spinoff, uses this at multiple levels: Followers released with a given Champion are often thematically tied to that Champion (which they'll have unique dialogue with), while regions as a whole provide this for Champions.
  • Puyo Puyo: There's so many charactersnote  that everyone's in certain groups to better keep track of where everyone falls under. They are:
    • The Compile-era characters, who were introduced when Compile were developing the games in the 1990s. Pretty much everyone there was introduced in a Madou Monogatari game before a Puyo Puyo game except Ragnus and Chico. This is the largest group in the series with so many characters being somewhere between one-offs to major reoccurring characters, even to this day.
    • The Fever-era characters, the first generation of new characters when Sega started taking over the series. They tend to consist of anyone introduced in Puyo Puyo Fever and Puyo Puyo Fever 2.
    • The characters introduced from Puyo Puyo 7 onwards, which is the smallest group of them all as new characters were introduced in small batches while Sega rotates the cast of returning characters in later games. These are the characters introduced in 7, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Puyo Puyo Chronicle, and Puyo Puyo Tetris 2.
    • Puyo Puyo!! Quest has so many original characters that they have their own grouping in the form of card series, sorted in groups of 5 (and maybe a lore fest being the 6th) fitting a certain theme.
  • Splatoon:
    • Splatoon 2 has the Idol Singer characters from the first game, the Squid Sisters (Callie and Marie) once again play a role in the main story campaign, due to being members of the Squidbeak Splatoon militia. The game's new headlining music group, Off the Hook (Pearl and Marina), are completely absent from this story mode, instead playing a major role in the single-player DLC campaign "Octo Expansion".
    • Splatoon 3 keeps Callie and Marie as part of the main campaign, with the new group Deep Cut (Shiver, Frye, and Big Man) also appearing in the mode as antagonists, before assisting the player at the end. Meanwhile, Pearl, Marina, and Eight (the player character from "Octo Expansion") star in "Side Order", this game's single-player expansion.

    Web Comics 
  • Being the longest of the long-runners in this particular folder, the cast of Kevin & Kell has grown quite large. And typically, groupings of the cast are best fit into circles among each of the core Dewclaw family members. Kevin typically has his co-workers with Hare-Link. Kell has her company, Dewclaw's Fine Meats, and its employees, as well as her friends. Lindesfarne has Fenton and Turvy, along with the Canadian Geese family. Rudy has Fiona, along with a large circle of current and former classmates. And Coney has a good number of classmates and more distant friends from the summer camp she attends. It actually made building and organizing their character sheets on this wiki quite easy.
  • Schlock Mercenary slowly evolved into this, though the focus remains mostly on Tagon and the Special Ops team.
    • And, in Book 20, the storyline has the crew split into three groups (in Andromeda, back in the Milky Way, and the Exo-galactic worlsship search); due to the mission parameters there can even be multiples of the same character involved.
  • Homestuck has its characters arranged as a Geodesic Cast, the result being that the groups have been (mostly) subdivided into the four 'Kids', the twelve Trolls, the four Exiles, the Midnight Crew of four, the four Sprites, the four Guardians, the four post-scratch kids, the two Cherubim... The list goes on.
    • It's interesting to note that while Homestuck certainly has long list of characters, the defining events of the story mean that about two-thirds of the cast account for the entire surviving population of two universes, the other half being dead themselves. Not many stories can claim to feature literally everyone in the world.
  • TRU-Life Adventures brings us the morning shift (Darby, Edith, Dan), the closing shift (Bob, Jack, Bert, Stephanie), the overnight crew (Brick, Derek), the group working against Big Bad Leonard Zachary (Bob, Jack, Darby, Neal, Hatch, Alex, Kate), and the groups trying to work against Bad Boss Simon DeVere and/or deal with the time travel situation (various members of the morning and closing shifts).
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has the various factions within Black Mountain, plus the various surrounding kingdoms.
  • Something*Positive evolved into this, once Davan and Pee-Jee moved to Texas. There's the Davan/PeeJee-centric Texas cast, the Aubrey/Jason-centric Boston cast, the Monette-centric Hollywood cast and Kharisma (at-large in parts unknown), with assorted characters Commuting on a Bus (most notably Davan's ex, Branwen) and several outlying characters checking during the "Old Familiar Faces" arcs.
  • The characters in Drowtales can be divided first by peer group, since the younger character tend to stick with one group of friends, and outside of that can be split up among the different clans they swear fealty to, which on its own tells you a lot about a character's particular ideals as to how the world should work. In particularly large clans like the Sharen they can then be further divided by which member of the family or bloodline they claim descent from.
  • Most of the main and supporting characters of El Goonish Shive can be divided into: the students and staff of Moperville North high school, the students and staff of Moperville South high school, the cast of the Fourth-Wall Mail Slot, and the local FBI agents. Outside of the main cast few of the characters belonging to different schools are shown together. Also, the FBI agents are almost never seen with anyone outside their group other than a few of the main cast and those of the Fourth-Wall Mail Slot by their very nature never interact with any other characters canonically and even those non-canon meetings are rare.
  • The cast of Rhapsodies can be divided between neighbors, Paul, Kate and Brian. Starting with Paul, and the working Jazz/Rock Fusion band he's a member of, Kate and her employees at Lysistrata Books, and finally Brian's family and minions at his financial consulting firm.
  • Leif & Thorn: The cast page has bloomed into a multi-page wiki, spreading them across 8+ separate group pages (plus individual pages for the 2 title characters), some of them further divided into subheadings.
  • Questionable Content evolved into this as the cast grew. As of 2023 we have Marten, Claire and the Cubetown cast, Faye and Bubbles' robotics repair shop, Coffee of Doom (Dora, Tai and Hannelore) Dale and Marigold's apartment/mansion (including Momo and May), The A.I. advocate non-profit(Roko, [Spookybot/Yay Newfriend], Beepatrice, Melon, Lemon) and the Secret Bakery (Elliot, Brun, Renee, Clinton). Unusually for this trope, the herds regularly interact as a whole (Dora and Renee doing business with each other, the A.I. advocacy group sending business to Faye and Bubbles, Spookybot poking into EVERYONE's business, whole groups showing up at Coffee of Doom).

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, the characters are often sorted and differentiated and sorted by their faction/country/group/allegiance, especially in specific moments in time, e.g. the original L'Manburgians are the residents of the nation-alliance that had citizenship in the country before the elections.
  • In The Gungan Council, the factions group like minded characters (Lightside characters joining Jedi, darkside character joining Sith) together and instill a sense of galactic conflict, due to hundreds of characters being written at once.
  • By the time we've reached Season 3 of The Most Popular Girls in School, it's evident that this trope is in place for our convenience (i.e. The Cheer Squad, The Hipsters, The Football players, etc.).
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum usually work in pairs, trios, and many cases quartets.
  • RWBY: Volumes 1-3 are based in a school setting, resulting in 30+ named characters by the end of Volume 2, covering students, teachers, adult allies, and villains. The cast size increases in Volume 3 due to a global tournament between the all the world's academies. Students function in formal teams of four, each with its own team name and identity, allowing the cast size to be managed according to team focus. Volume 4 leaves the school setting, focussing primarily on the fates of the protagonist and deuteragonist team and the villains. This is the show's transition into an Ensemble Cast from Volume 5 onwards.
  • Common with Virtual YouTuber agencies, with standout examples in Nijisanji and hololive. Both have generations introduced every so often, ranging anywhere from 3 to 16 new members. In hololive these gen-mates are more likely to collab with each other, and some generations have a unifying theme (EN 2 are all Anthropomorphic Representations, JP 6 is a set up as a shadowy organisation with nefarious but ineffective plans).
  • At Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, people get split off by their 'team'. Team Kimba has the core protagonists. Outcast Corner has four more main characters who mostly appear together. Carmilla has split off from Team Kimba and has her own team now: The Pack. Aquerna mainly appears with the Underdogs. The Whitman Literary Girls have their own stories. And even the school villains usually stick to their own teams.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League Unlimited does this with the many superheroes it portrays, usually grouping them by sub-teams like the Seven Soldiers of Victory or by respective creators. This is visually explicit in the Grand Finale, which has the heroes moving out in their specific herds, finishing off with the seven founding members, and within that the trio of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman at the end.
  • The Venture Brothers does this, but not for lack of characterization. If anything, it's because the ancillary characters become too well-rounded, so now we have to check in with 21 and 24, even if nothing's going on. Lesser villains like Phantom Limb and Underbeidht get less screen time. This is also by design: almost the entire recurring supporting cast is voiced by either Doc Hammer or Jackson Publick, and they try to avoid talking to themselves.
  • Thomas & Friends has the standard gauge engines and the narrow gauge engines, who rarely interact. However, that didn't necessarily hold true in either the novels or the early seasons. Gordon and Sir Handel could often be found bitching about being underappreciated, Peter Sam and Henry did not much care for each other, and Skarloey and Edward were best friends.
    • In the books and the episodes adapted from it (also a fair bit of those from Season 17 onwards), the characters were all grouped by where they worked, e.g, Thomas, Percy, Toby, Daisy and Mavis work at Thomas' branchline, the Main Line is staffed by Gordon, James and Henry, Duck and Oliver work on the Little Western, Cranky, Salty and Porter work in the docks, etc. In the newer seasons there are also herds in the form of the Steamworks and the Vicarstown Dieselworks.
  • The original The Transformers series has herds within herds, which is to be expected of a show that is trying to sell toys. The heroes and villains have their own specialized subgroups, and as a necessity of the large cast, the leaders of said subgroups usually get most of the spotlight to neglect of the others. One exception is the herd spokesman of the Combaticons being Swindle, who is not their leader. In some cases, the entire herd gets treated as The Dividual.
  • Transformers: Animated: The cast, both human and robot could be divided into factions and sub-factions. It is less necessary here than the original series due to a focus on a smaller team of main characters than a much larger Ensemble Cast. There is Optimus' team (Optimus, Bumblebee, Prowl, Bulkhead and Ratchet) on Earth, the Autobot Elite Guard (Ultra Magnus, Jazz, Sentinel Prime and Blurr), the Decepticon High Command (Megatron, Starscream, Lugnut and Blitzwing), the Dinobots (Grimlock, Snarl and Swoop), the Human Allies (Sari, Professor Sumdac and Captain Fanzone), and the Human Villains (Slow Mo, Angry Archer, Meltdown and Nanosec). And that's not even getting into other Autobot and Decepticon teams.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The show does this with the Avatar group and the Zuko/Iroh group before they meet up.
    • The second season also added Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee into the mix, and occasionally showed glimpses into what Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors were doing, as well.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In general, the show's very large cast of recurring characters, limited time in each episode and limited episodes per season mean that a certain "compartmentalizing" of the cast, and various characters appearing more often or always in conjunction with each other, proves inevitable. Many of the cast herds are centered on one or another of the six original central characters, who have formed associations with various supporting cast members over the show's run. Overlap between the various cast herds also becomes common, especially in the show's later seasons.
    • First off, there's the main cast — the main six ponies and Spike, plus Starlight in later seasons. A loose "sub-herd" consisting of Spike and Starlight exists centered around Twilight, as they interact with her noticeably more often than they do with the other main characters. The secondary characters Trixie, Ember and Thorax can also be considered part of this sub-herd, as their interactions with other characters are limited to Twilight, Spike, Starlight and each other.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders — Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo — form a Power Trio and a smaller version of the main group, having an earth pony, pegasus, and unicorn. When other child-age characters appear, they interact almost exclusively with them, as does the schoolteacher Cheerilee.
    • The Apple Family forms another herd centered on Applejack, consisting of her grandmother Granny Smith, her brother Big Macintosh and her younger sister Apple Bloom, as well as various incidental and one-off relatives. Most of their appearances, with the exception of Apple Bloom, are limited to Applejack's focus episodes, meaning that most of their character interactions are with her or each other.
    • The Season 6 episode "Dungeons & Discords" introduces a new herd, seen again in "The Break Up Break Down", consisting of Discord, Big Macintosh and Spike. Their interactions with each other provide some of the only interactions they have with characters that aren't members of the core six or their original cast herds.
    • While these groupings are not extremely common among the background ponies — a term used to refer to the minor characters used for bit parts and crowd shots — due to the fact that individual background ponies are not specified in episode scripts and animators thus often place whichever background ponies they want in a given role without much thought to continuity, a few cast herds are constant among them too. Most notably, the flower-themed mares Daisy, Lily and Roseluck are strongly associated with each other, and each one almost always appears alongside one or both of the other two. Similarly, certain locations — primarily Canterlot, the School of Friendship, Las Pegasus and Somnambula — each use a specific set of background pony designs that's only used for shots set within them.
  • The almost overwhelming amount of characters on The Simpsons becomes a lot more manageable when categorized by what their specific role is in the town of Springfield: the Simpson family, the Flanders family, the elementary school children,note  the elementary school staff, the celebrities of Channel 6, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant employees (which go hand-in-hand with the regulars of Moe's), the Springfield Police Department, the Springfield mafia, etc.
  • Jellystone! takes a similar approach, with different groups of characters that can be categorized by their jobs or another defining characteristic (the schoolkids like Augie, Shag and Yakky, Yogi, Boo-Boo and Cindy all being doctors/nurses, Top Cat's gang, etc.) as well as a looser group of characters who don't fall into any group and can be used in various different roles (Peter Potamus, Captain Caveman, Mildew Wold, Jonny Quest, etc.). That's not even getting into characters who mostly serve as crowd-filler and/or cameos like Pixie and Dixie, Kwicky Koala, Mr. Peebles and Ranger Smith.
  • In Total Drama, there are 51 contestants, plus the hosts Chris McLean and Chef Hatchet. The contestants are traditionally divided into "generations"—the first generation being the original 22 introduced in the first season and the two newcomers added in the third season, the second generation being the 13 who debuted in the fourth season to replace the previous cast, and the third generation being the remaining 14 introduced in the sixth season as the second batch of replacements. In turn, each generation can be divided based on what their teams they were placed on in a particular season.
  • Thanks to Mixels having three member tribes themed around a specific element, many episodes are based around only a couple tribes interacting with each other, with maybe a small moment of another tribe's member.
  • DuckTales (2017) has this to some extent. The nine main characters (Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby, Launchpad, Mrs Beakley and Della) all live together in McDuck Manor, but the side characters are in Cast Herds. For example, there is "Team Science" (Gyro, Fenton, Manny and Huey), "Team Magic" (Webby, Lena and Violet), the Junior Woodchucks, Scrooge's business workers—and even within the nine main characters, you sometimes have the kids (Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby) grouped apart from the adults.
  • Ready Jet Go! has three groups in which the characters are split. The main cast consists of Jet, his immediate family, and his closest friends. The Bortronians include Jet's extended family from Bortron 7. The Earthies are recurring friends/family of the main cast who are from Earth.
  • In Dick Tracy, villains always seemed to work in pairs (for example, Flattop and B.B. Eyes; Pruneface and Itchy), and virtually always in the same pairs, to the point where a pairing of two villains who were not usually associated stood out.