The 10 Fictional Characters Who Have Appeared In The Most Movies – CBR – Comic Book Resources

There are many characters who have appeared in multiple films, all throughout history.
In any storytelling, plot and spectacle are secondary to character—without characters for an audience to invest in, a narrative will never have the potency of great art. The reason sequels dominate the filmmaking market is because they offer a chance for audiences to revisit characters they love.
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Looking at this influx of sequels, there are many characters who have appeared in multiple films, all throughout history. Many of them are pop culture icons in their own right.
Disney dominates the filmmaking industry, and the face of this corporate titan is, of course, Mickey Mouse. Created by Walt Disney himself, a prototypical Mickey first appeared in 1928’s Steamboat Willie. The character appeared in countless animated shorts over the next two decades, evolving into his now more familiar self as a cast of supporting characters developed around him.
Even after the output of his animated shorts slowed, Mickey is omnipresent in Disney media—they’re called “The House Of Mouse” for a reason.
Mickey Mouse wasn’t the only icon to emerge from the Golden Age of animation. At Warner Bros, home of Looney Tunes, plenty of other animated, anthropomorphic animals were entertaining audiences.
The leading mascot for the Looney Tunes cast is Bugs Bunny—since he first asked “Eh…What’s up, doc?” in 1940’s A Wild Hare, Bugs has appeared in over 150 films, ranging from animated shorts to feature-length outings like Space Jam.
Not all cinematic icons originate in the Western world. The foremost pop-culture creation of 20th century Japan is the King of the Monsters, Godzilla. The first, 1954 film Gojira, featured the monster as an allegory for nuclear and environmental destruction, with a strong human emphasis.
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However, that film was far from the end for Godzilla. The monster has appeared in 36 total films, many of which have reinterpreted the character and setting to more fantastical ends. However, 2016’s Shin Godzilla did bring the titan back to his more horrifying roots.
Bram Stoker invented the modern vampire archetype with his 1897 novel, Dracula. The eponymous, blood-sucking count first appeared in F.W. Murnau’s 1922, copyright-infringing classic Nosferatu. It was in 1931 that a proper Dracula adaptation premiered—directed by Todd Browning, with a legendary Bela Lugosi performance as the villain.
There have been over 100 Dracula films in total—this frequency was no doubt helped by the novel, and thus the character, entering the public domain in 1962.
Sherlock Holmes (not to mention his partner, Dr. John Watson) is older than film itself. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective’s debut, A Study In Scarlet, released in 1887, 9 years before the Lumière Brothers’ 1896 Train Arriving At A Station. With this overlap of their creation times, it didn’t take long for Holmes’ path to cross with cinema.
The most famous cycle of Holmes films was from 1939 to 1946—in just seven years, 14 films (starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes) retold Conan Doyle’s stories. Of course, the Rathbone films are just the tip of a very thick iceberg. From The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes to Guy Ritchie’s Holmes duology, the detective of 221B Baker Street never stops being reinterpreted.
Like Holmes, Bond is another British pulp hero who originated in adventure books. Even more so than Holmes, Bond has become more of a movie icon than a literary one. One of the main reasons for this is the constant influx of new Bond films since the original Dr. No in 1962.
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There are a total of 27 Bond films, all but 2 of which are the work of Eon Productions. Across these 25 films, 6 actors have played Bond, beginning with Sean Connery (who reprised the role for the non-Eon Never Say Never Again) and most recently Daniel Craig.
John Carter of Mars and Tarzan Of The Apes are the two most famous creations of pulp writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, but only the latter made a quick jump from print to audiovisual media. After a string of silent films, the most famous Tarzan films came in the 1930s—star Johnny Weissmüller appeared in 12 films, beginning with 1932’s Tarzan The Ape Man.
Aside from Disney’s 1999 animated Tarzan film, the character hasn’t had as much purchase in recent years. The colonialist subtext of the source material and shifting attitudes thereof are likely culprits.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus was published eight decades before Dracula, but the stories came to prominence on film at around the same time. In 1931, the same year as Todd Browning’s Dracula, James Whale directed Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff as the monster. Shelley’s novel had been adapted earlier in three silent films, but Whale’s film outshines them in fame.
Whale returned for the sequel Bride Of Frankenstein, and Karloff for many more. Most later adaptations of Frankenstein, of which there are many, take much of their iconography and characterizations—especially concerning the monster—more from Whale’s film than Shelley’s novel.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most prolific superhero film series, its recency and very structure (multiple interconnected franchises feeding into each other) mean there isn’t a singular star superhero. On DC’s side, though, that title is definitely held by Batman.
The Caped Crusader has appeared in 16 theatrically released films (soon to be 18 come 2022), and when one counts direct-to-video films, the number goes higher.
Beating Friday The 13th by a temporal hair (2 years), Halloween is the longest-running slasher franchise. The release of Halloween Kills in 2021 brings the series up to 12 entries—the incoming Halloween Ends will in turn raise it one further for a total of 13.
Like most horror films, the real star of the series is the villain, Michael Myers. Barring the aberration of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, Myers has appeared in all the Halloween films. Like any good slasher, he refuses to stay down.
NEXT: Halloween: All Of Michael Myers’ Deaths, Ranked
Devin is a passionate writer always working to use my skill with words to express my love for film and fiction of all sorts. He is currently writing list articles for Comic Book Resources (CBR). He hopes this will be the first step on a prosperous journey towards being a professional writer. He can also be found on Twitter at @DevinM626 and you can read more of his work at https://meenansmoviereviews.wordpress.com/.

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