i think it's hard with tw because of the sheer number of characters and ships. i was kind of overwhelmed by amount of people in the trailer. i think it's also the root of a lot of the shows problems that started around s3. there were so many new character introduced then and it just kept getting worse every season. i can only realistically care about 6 characters on any given show, and each one introduced after that my level of caring is reduced by half, until it actually gets to negative caring
and i start actively hating characters not even for anything about them, just for the fact that they are another new person introduced. i think the point that i officially gave up on the show was in s4 when “the orphans” were introduced and there was actually an interview that jeff gave where he talked about them like it was something i was supposed to care about and i was just done from there on out. so yeah, constantly seeing people get excited about them on my dash can get frustrating. :/
Yeah… as actors left, Jeff just kept feeling the need to throw new ones in as replacements, instead of devoting much attention or character building to the ones he already had. And this honestly didn’t help either the old or new characters –– the new ones, who were often slightly warped copies of lost characters instead of wholly their own people, Jeff trying to fill what he must have seen as holes in the cast instead of just making the new characters their own people. But you can’t do that, because the original characters were the way they were for certain reasons, and interacted with the main cast the way they did for certain reasons, so just introducing new characters to try and fit those tropes and dynamics ends up being sloppy and unengaging.
So… yeah, I’m not sure whether there are more characters now than there used to be (like… completely not disagreeing with you, I’m just honestly not sure. I don’t really know who’s in the pack or the cast in general at this point, and I’m sure there are people on the show I’ve never even heard of) but imo, a lot of the issues with the newer cast are that a) they’re clear replacements for older characters (which immediately makes me wary to accept them, and makes their characterization sloppy or unpolished) and b) there are just too many people on this show now. Especially when you consider all the people who disappeared with no explanation (ex: Danny, Isaac) and the ones who were killed off/written out that fandom still loves and holds onto. If you try to list every main character (and… not “on the opening credits” main, but characters with major arcs/contributions to the show, who could exist in different versions of the pack…) it’s impossible to keep track of everyone.