We have two characters. They are similar to each other, but one was created after another. Whether one of them is the other's Expy, Captain Ersatz, Alternate Company Equivalent or even Distaff Counterpart, or it's a complete coincidence, fans will quickly realize the similarity.
From this point they are going to look at the new character through the old character's prism.
They can like the new character because he resembles the old character, or hate them as a rip-off. Anti-fans can treat the new guy like a pointless, unnecessary character created only to attract the old one's fans, or turn them into a model of "This is how the original one should be written to be a good character." They will argue and compare the two, and only a few people who know both of them will be able to see the new guy as himself, not some other version of someone else.
Sometimes, the new character will never get free from the older one, no matter what he does.
Sometimes, especially in the case of a Legacy Character or Expy this can work as part of a Re-Ditto and establish a difference between the two. A Legacy Character can win fan love by his desire to become better, or at last to equal his mentor. If an Expy exists in the same universe as that older character, this can be easily lampshaded with common people confusing them, which could lead to funny situations, and be good for character development. If they are not sharing a universe, then most of the time the new character is screwed. However, sometimes they can take revenge, proving that he is better than the old one and becoming more popular.
- In 2012, there was a series of commercials for Geox that featured a mild-mannered teenage girl who can transform at will into "The Geox Girl". The secret-identity version of her looks a lot like a human version of Twilight Sparkle. The commercial even says that she is always bursting with enthusiasm and ready to help a friend in need.
Anime and Manga
- Many characters from Code Geass suffer from this. Suzaku and Euphemia are often compared to Kira and Lacus. Lelouch has the same problem with Light from Death Note.
- There are those who would compare Lelouch to Shinji, C.C. to Rei and Kallen to Asuka.
- Or for cross medium comparisons, Lelouch, Kallen, and Suzaku to V, Evey Hammond, and Eric Finch respectively.
- Suzaku is often referred to as 'The third/fourth/fifth Syaoran' on CLAMP boards, because of their similar fighting techniques and the fact that Suzaku, well, seems to share an awful lot of character design with Syaoran.
- Speaking of EVA, there's also a large number of people that end up comparing Emperor Charles zi Britannia's plan to Instrumentality.
- And of course, Kallen is compared to Domon Kasshu because she's his daughter.
- No, seriously. Mrs. Kozuki and Rain Mikamura share the same Seiyuu.
- And Shirley has this with Inoue Orihime. Not only they look a little similar and have similar characters, but also what Shirley says to Lelouch before death sounds similar to what Orihime says to unconscious Ichigo before leaving to Hueco Mundo. Orihime-bashers hate Shirley as her clone, while her fans love Shirley for that same reason. The dub made this worse when they gave Lelouch the same voice actor as Ichigo. Hell, the Japanese voice for Shirley is the same as Rukia.
- Suffice to say, Code Geass makes a point of Lampshade Hanging, subverting, and playing with the expectations of the viewers when it comes to the shows it resembles. They outright deconstruct Lacus/Euphie, and make Lelouch much more sympathetic than Light, and even make the Emperor a bit more justified than Gendo was (although your Mileage will definitely vary on one or all of those points). The ambiguity is what makes the show fun!
- While it doesn't seem as prevalent in the main fandom the series's Wild Mass Guessing page spends a lot of time comparing Lelouch and Shinizel to V and Adrian Veit. Lynching ITP plays with this by making Shinizel Adrian's Identical Great Grandson.
- Rolo is a subversion, he's drawn very similar to Shinji from evangelion and he has the same VA in the english dub... Then he gets out of the Knightmare Frame that just finished pwning a whole rebel strikeforce, and calmly declares: I'm here to kill... zero."
- Many people compare Naruto to Son Goku, because both of them started as funny kids wearing orange with inhuman abilities, and get character evolution through many adventures, Trainings From Hell, Heel Face Turns, Face Heel Turns, many other things and mostly battles with repeatedly the strongest enemies to become more serious and ridiculously strong persons, but still keeping their friendly personalities.
- Goku himself is often compared to Superman, because of their similar origins and powers. This resulted in a never-ending flame war.
- Gundam uses this In-Universe with Johnny Ridden, the Crimson Lightning, who is constantly mistaken for Char.
- In Char's case, this has gained Memetic Mutation thanks to Zeta. Each series' obligatory masked character is referred to as "A CHAR" (all caps).
- Zechs Merquise is probably the single biggest victim of this from the Gundam franchise; after all, one Fan Nickname is "Low-Rent Char". Of course, all of Gundam Wing gets this to some extent, mostly from detractors who insist it's nothing but a half-assed copy of First Gundam. This also extends to comparing Relena to Sayla (only common points: masked man's sister and relationship with protagonist) or Heero to Amuro (only common point: being the protagonist).
- Near from Death Note is constantly compared to the other main antagonist of the series, L. He even looks like L (excepting the clothes and the hair color) and has habits like him. Justified that he was raised to be L's successor and therefore emulate some of L's traits.
- On the subject of Death Note, it isn't uncommon for some poor sod to pop up in an anime forum and inquire about the similarities between Light Yagami and a certain Monster Without a Name. If the Internet Backdraft on who the better villain is doesn't instantly erupt there, expect a very long, very Fan Wanky Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny between the two.
- Comparisons are made between L and Ulquiorra. Both are pale-skinned stoics who end up fighting against Shinigami as the story's antagonists (although L is a Hero Antagonist, even to those few who don't see Light as evil).
- As an inter-medium example, the protagonists of The Big O, Code Geass, and Darker than Black have all elicited comparison to Batman. The Big O has an animation style very similar to that of Batman the Animated Series, and protagonist Roger is a Bruce Wayne Captain Ersatz. Lelouch/Zero of Code Geass has been described as a "flamboyant Batman" and Hei of Darker than Black has the Fan Nickname of "Chinese Electric Batman". Lelouch has a sort of Batman-esque costume, both characters use Evil Sounds Deep in costume, and Hei uses a Grappling Hook Pistol. Finally, Lelouch also elicits comparisons with the title character of V for Vendetta, mainly for his Large Ham style and morally ambiguous characterization also, a scene where Japanese dress en masse as Zero recalls the V-masks donned by English citizens.
- There's a reason for this - the same studio that did Big O also worked on Batman: The Animated Series. Roger was at least partly inspired by Bruce Wayne, while the art-style was similar enough to smooth over the differences.
- In Pretty Cure All-Stars DX, Nagisa and Honoka of Futari wa Pretty Cure visit the shop run by the family of Saki, Nagisa's Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star counterpart, and the family notes the similarity. Odd in that the original is compared to the Expy, not the other way around.
- More than a few people unfamiliar with Detonator Orgun and with only passing knowledge of Tekkaman Blade thought that the two were in the same canon in Super Robot Wars W (the fact that the game made them directly related story-wise did not help). What's especially interesting to note is that Tekkaman Blade, although the more popular and well-known of the two, actually owes a lot of its style and mood to Orgun.
- Mahou Sensei Negima (especially early in its run) provoked a lot of comments about similarities between Negi Springfield and Harry Potter: They're both 10 year old British Wizards with famous fathers. Of course, most of the similarities end there, not that it stops people from thinking that the series is just Harry Potter IN JAPAN.
- Yuuichi Aizawa can't help but be compared to "Kyon", since the 2006 Kyo Ani anime uses very similar character designs and the same voice actor as their ultra-successful Haruhi Suzumiya TV run from a few months prior. However, that doesn't change the fact that Kanon came out several years before the first of the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, and much of the snarkiness of the character was in the original source material.
- Early in its life, the title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was derided as a Cardcaptor Sakura rip-off. This slowly tapered when the show revealed its intent of cribbing notes from a completely different genre. For some reason, viewers were more receptive to a Magical Girl whose closest comparison wasn't another Magical Girl, but a Gundam.
- Most fans of Xam'd take it as a given that Nakiami is some sort of clone of Nausicaa.
- Many characters in Fairy Tail have been compared to/confused with a character from One Piece and/or Rave Master. Only one of these comparisons is intentional though.
- One of the biggest problems that many fans have with Digimon Savers is that the main character has an Agumon for a partner, which is a pretty obvious ploy to get fans of Adventure back after the critical train wreck that was Frontier.
- Between the second and third Tecnchi Muyo OVA, two TV series and three movies set in alternate continuities were created and featured a new character, Kiyone. The third OVA introduces Noike, who is also Mihoshi's teal-haired, no-nonsense former partner; but in OVA style is hot for Tenchi and related to him.
- Early in its life, the title character of Puella Magi Madoka Magica was derided as a Cardcaptor Sakura rip-off (the pink costume doesn't help). And then things goes to Hell in her life, followed by the rest of the world.
- More specifically, Homura Akemi has drawn numerous comparisons to Rika Furude from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni; to detail how exactly would reveal major spoilers for both series and also Umineko no Naku Koro ni by proxy. The fact that Rika created a witch doesn't help.
- Because she goes through some quite unpleasant experiences, is a character made by Fate/Zero writer Gen Urobuchi, and wields a polearm, Kyoko is often regarded as an honorary Lancer, usually when fans lament how being Lancer is suffering.
- The Tiger and Bunny fandom has basically concluded that Barnaby Brooks Jr. is Batman.
- Marvel Comics' Daredevil (not to be confused with that other guy) from Earth X was a funny, immortal character that was very similar to Deadpool. Most of the fans, and characters as well, suspected he was in fact Deadpool. Which at some point started to **** him off.
- And let's not forget the relatively short-lived Agent X, who made his debut right after the end of Deadpool's original run, had the same humor and powers, was heavily scarred all over, and even had supporting cast cross-pollination. Oh, and his speech bubbles had a different color from everyone else's, too. Even the characters thought he really was an amnesiac Deadpool until the latter made his comeback in the last three issues of Agent X.
- Deadpool has actually escaped this situation. Rob Liefeld originally created him as a Captain Ersatz of the Teen Titans' enemy Deathstroke, but he later had some Character Development and turned into so different a character that you'd have to be nuts to compare them.
- Joe Kelly (the writer who cemented his status as a Crazy Awesome sex god) spoofed this in Superman/Batman Annual #1 , where Earth-Three Deathstroke is
Deadpoolan unnamed man who happens to look, fight, and snark exactly like a certain Crazy Awesome sex god. Turns out this character is an alternate Deathstroke.
- Joe Kelly (the writer who cemented his status as a Crazy Awesome sex god) spoofed this in Superman/Batman Annual #1 , where Earth-Three Deathstroke is
Alternate Deathstroke: Hold the phone and the mayo! You're me, just without the lacerations and foreign objects!
Deathstroke: Will you please just die?
Alternate Deathstroke: Why do you hate yourself so much?
- Deadpool is also quite often confused with Spider-Man, simply because their costumes look similar. The fact that Ed McGuinness PURPOSELY drew him like Spidey probably contributed considerably, as did the change in tone to give him an awesome sense of humor that carried a similarity to Spider-Man's in order to appeal to disgruntled Spider-Man fans who were ****ed off at the never-ending angst-fueled Spider-Clone Saga. This was taken to its logical extreme in a story arc where Deadpool is accidentally sent back in time and forced to replace Spider-Man...
- As revealed in one flashback, Deadpool's original costume actually was made for Spider-Man (but the webhead sent it back with a note attached saying "thanks but no thanks").
- Hilariously lampshaded in an issue of White Tiger that takes place during the Marvel Civil War, with Deadpool himself mistaking the current White Tiger, Angela Del Toro, for the Black Cat, whom the government has hired him to arrest.
- Most of DC's Legacy Characters have these kind of issues, which is also often lampshaded. One of the biggest examples is Batman and all the people who have tried to replace him in all his long history. No matter what they do, fans possibly will never admit that anyone of them would be ever even close to Bruce Wayne.
- Inverted with Man-Thing, who appeared two months before Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing is more popular, thanks to Alan Moore's run, and Man-Thing is seen as his substitute. And many people even don't know that's two different monsters.
- Although the jokes about a cover's unfortunate description of a "Giant-Size Man-Thing" will probably continue until the Earth smacks into the sun (even Marvel, Man-Thing's owners, have gotten in on it, with an actual giant-size Man-Thing showing up in Thunderbolts).
- People who make those jokes will not shy away from pointing out that Kang is a purple-headed invader either.
- And both characters were basically straight lifts of a Golden Age swamp monster called The Heap, anyway.
- Similar to Man-Thing, Darkseid and Thanos have occasionally been accused (and accused each other) of being knock-offs. This largely boils down to faintly similar appearances (dark 'skin', blue in the wardrobe, red eyes) and power levels. Rumour has it that Jim Starlin made Thanos as an homage to Darkseid...by giving him the same skin condition apparently. The fact that they're constantly paired up in crossovers doesn't help either.
- Jim Starlin claims that his initial designs of Thanos made him look like Metron, but his editor suggested making him more muscular and gave him apperance much closer to Darkseid, joking that if they're going to rip off one of New Gods, they should pick up the coolest one.
- Don't ever call Huntress Batgirl.
- The popularity of Watchmen has led to this happening to some degree for all the characters its characters are Expies of, but especially Captain Atom and The Question. (For those who haven't heard the story: Alan Moore originally wrote Watchmen with Charlton Comics characters DC had just purchased. DC liked the story but because of the way the story altered the status quo of the new expensive characters they had just bought, they asked him to replace the characters with original characters.) Solar Man of the Atom also gets compared to Doctor Manhattan.
- Peter David highlighted the similarities [dead link] between Snapper Carr and Rick Jones after their times in Hourman and Captain Marvel in an issue of Young Justice.
- The Host has been receiving a lot of backlash from the Animorphs fandom due to this. The fact that most of them seem to think that Applegate invented the concept of body-snatching aliens probably doesn't help.
- Almost every single adaptation of the books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass so far have made the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts (two totally different characters from completely separate books) into an overtly threatening antagonist (which neither of the Queens were).
- The Elric Saga fans consider Geralt, main character of The Witcher books and games, an expy of Elric.
- Blue Heelers both subverted this and played it straight. Dash wasn't meant as a replacement for Wayne, but Jo was. Ben could be seen as a replacement for Nick, even if the characters were rather different. Jack replaced Adam. After Maggie's death Tess was inevitably compared to her. When Jack left Evan would serve as a replacement, ditto Susie for Tess.
- Most of the subversions come during the show's revamp. After Jo was killed she was replaced by four characters, and of the four, Mark was intended to be Ben's replacement, but then after a couple of sergeants are written off Alex serves as a replacement, only for softy Mark to be replaced by ex soldier Matt. And Amy would be a Distaff Counterpart for PJ and serve as his replacement when he left, only for Jonesy to become a detective and fill the role instead.
- Lampshaded in an early episode of Deep Space Nine, when Q zaps Sisko into a boxing ring, and Sisko knocks him down:
Q: You hit me! Picard never hit me!
Sisko: I'm not Picard.
Q: Indeed not...you're much easier to provoke.
- Hey, it worked. Q left Sisko alone, instead running off to the Delta Quadrant to bother Janeway.
- Heroes qualifies for this when Tracy Strauss was introduced. Everyone compared to Niki because... well... she was being played by the same actress.
Nathan: You're sure you're not Niki Sanders?
- Not only were they played by the same actress, but canonically, they were two-thirds of a set of identical triplets, so they were supposed to look exactly alike...
- Strangely, even a reality show can do this. Project Runway cast one of its most beloved contestants in Season 8, Mondo Guerra. Mondo just so happened to be short, gay, of Mexican ethnicity, fond of bowties, and an impeccable tailor... which wouldn't be important except that Season 9 proceeded to cast designer Viktor Luna, who also happened to be short, gay, of Mexican ethnicity, fond of bowties, and an impeccable tailor. While they came across quite differently in personality (Nice Guy / Jerk with a Heart of Gold, respectively) and design-wise (Crazy Awesome / Boring but Practical), both eventually emerged to be regarded by large segments of the fanbase as the deserving winners of their seasons. In the end, both got screwed out of final victory in favor of the Creator's Pet, although Viktor's loss is more of a Broken Base situation than the universal fan rage that greeted Mondo's loss.
- In the NCIS episode "Doppelgänger", the team worked with civilian law enforcement, which were all extremely similar to the main characters.
- Not only that, but CGIS Agent Abigail Borin is so similar in personality and mannerism to Gibbs, nearly every other character notices it, except of course for Gibbs or Borin.
- In Kingdom Hearts, Roxas, from Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, looks identical to Ventus, save for their clothes, from the prequel, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Because Sora's heart is protecting Ventus's heart while he sleeps, and perhaps because Ven's heart was transferred to Roxas when he was born.
- Jun and Asuka Kazama from the second and fifth Tekken games are examples when the younger character is better than the older one. Asuka has the same fighting style as Jun, but more moves and a better designed personality. After she made Jun's son fly, fans started to describe Jun as "Asuka's demo".
- Forest Law from Tekken 3 wasn't so lucky, because his fighting style was completely identical with one used by his old man, Marshal Law, in previous games. Marshal returned in the next game, and stayed, but Forest has been absent since Tekken 3, except for Tekken Tag Tournament. However, both Marshal and Forest are often compared with Bruce Lee. Not without a reason.
- No sooner did the latest Touhou game come out and reveal the existence of tiger-girl Shou Toramaru, fans immediately began hailing her and her mouse-girl servant Nazrin as the next Ran and Chen Yakumo (fox-girl master and cat-girl servant, respectively). They're both animal-girl master/servant pairs where the servant has her own stage before reoccurring in her master's stage as a mid-boss, and... don't really share much similarity beyond that. The debate over the similarities between Flandre Scarlet and Nue Houjuu may also be a case of this.
- The Tyranids and the Zerg. Truth be told, while Tyranids came first, they've both taken visual influence from each other, and from Giger's Alien, but the fans don't care to hear that. There's also the Flood. And then there's the Protoss-Elite-Predator. Really, if you keep digging through these connections we find their common links go back decades.
- The Final Fantasy series gets some flak for this, mostly for including Three Faces of Eve as main characters in nearly all installments... who started to become eerily similar at around part 7. There's always the romantic girl, the tough girl, and the cheerful girl.
- It all started with Rinoa, whose hairstyle (but not personality) resembled Tifa's. Final Fantasy IX included a main girl (Garnet) with once again the same hairstyle (parted on the other side, though!) and a personality that fell somewhere in between the previous two. Yuna from Final Fantasy X had a radically different personality but looked similar enough to Rinoa for fans to complain, and Final Fantasy XII's Ashelia acts nothing like modern Final Fantasy main girls (instead being more of a Final Fantasy VI Celes type) but looks almost exactly like Yuna. Ironically, both Rinoa and Garnet were initially planned to be blondes (Nomura wanting a European-looking lead female and Amano just expressing his blonde fetish), but these ideas were dropped when it came time to create in-game art and character models. Though Amano's promotional art still depicted Rinoa as a blonde (again, Author Appeal).
- A simpler example is the Krile -> Relm -> Yuffie -> Selphie -> Eiko -> Rikku -> Penelo -> Vanille line. Tidus -> Vaan also counts.
- As does Exdeath, who is often seen as a sillier version of Golbez, despite the fact that they are completely different in personality and goals, and despite both being Tin Tyrants, don't even look that similar.
- Interestingly, the only character who seems to be an actual reference is Seymour from Final Fantasy X, who has the same goals, personality, role and hair color as Bahamut Lagoon's Sauzer. No one on the internet ever mentions this, most likely because no one's ever played Bahamut Lagoon.
- Aside from the Tekkaman Blade/Detonator Orgun comparison mentioned above, Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 had a case with two of its original characters, Brooklyn "Bullet" Luckfield and Touma Kanou. They both look similar AND even sound similar (especially during attacks), despite having two different voice actors. Naturally, their respective love interests notice this similarity as well and proceed to lampshade the situation.
- Semi-rare cross-medium example: The Black Cauldron and Zelda -- especially Zelda II the Adventure of Link and the '80s cartoon.
- As many Umineko no Naku Koro ni fans like pointing out, Battler Ushiromiya has quite a bit in common with another video game protagonist prone to epic finger-pointing and melodramatic logic debates.
- Zelos Wilder and Zevran of all people have quite a bit in common...
- Names start with "Ze-"
- Are Bishonen (ESPECIALLY Zelos)
- Are very flirtatious with their peers (though Zevran is bisexual, Zelos is straight)
- Are ostensibly very chipper, yet secretly harbor a suicidal self-loathing.
- Are much smarter and more observant and cunning than they appear
- Part of their self-loathing stems from their mothers' deaths. Zevran's mother died giving birth to him, which his father blamed him for. Zelos' mother was killed in front of him, and used her last breaths to tell him it would have been better if he had never been born.
- Depending on the respective games' main protagonists' actions, they will either side with you against the people they were originally working for, or stab you in the back after feeling sleighted by you, and you'll have to kill them if it comes to that.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is a hero with a blue color scheme, fighting to save his world from a mad scientist and his army of evil robots. He has a sidekick that can help him fly, a hotheaded rival who is red, and a powerful counterpart who is grayish black. Does this sound familiar at all?
- Raziel from Legacy of Kain was resurrected by a powerful supernatural entity following a betrayal during which he was very badly burned. As a wraith bent on revenge, he can't be killed, and only temporarily returns to the underworld when drained of energy. He wears a mask to cover his hideous face, and he's capable of slaughtering his enemies with a glowing energy weapon emitted from his hand. Does this sound familiar?
- SHODAN from System Shock:
- Has Frank Fontaine the villain of BioShock (series), who is more of an Expy.
- And GlaDOS obviously.
- Created a parasitic hive-mind race that seeks to assimilate or devour all life in the galaxy. Yeah, like that. See also the Drudge parasites from Blood 2: The Chosen which predates System Shock 2 by a year.
- Is herself an homage to the likes of Skynet or HAL-9000.
- And before all that was AM (though video game AM came after SHODAN.)
- Baldur's Gate introduced Minsc, who comes from a tribe of proud warriors, bears distinct facial tattoos, has a unique tribal accent, and never goes anywhere without his imaginary advisor / companion. Fans of another Black Isle game Fallout 2 may notice the similarities with this guy.
- The Avatar, the protagonist of the Ultima series by Origin, is a hero from another world, the paragon of moral virtues who fights to protect the innocent. Like this guy. Furthermore the hero's archenemy is a godlike otherworldly being who seeks to rule the universe, has many worlds under his grasp, psychically manipulates others to do his bidding, and feeds off suffering and torment. Yes, you guessed it.
- Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten's Vegetarian Vampire protagonist, Valvatorez, has luckily managed to escape associations with a particular sparkly vampire... Because his appearance and demeanor have instead convinced everyone that he's actually Vampire Lelouch.
- Lampshaded in the Dynasty/ Samurai Warriors crossover Warriors Orochi with Nobunaga Oda and Cao Cao, both being ambitious and ruthless Anti Villains.
- Kratos and Asura are compared to each other due to their rage issues and vengeance against their fellow gods (Though for many, the major similarities end there).
- Coming from an episode of Justice League Unlimited, it became a fan meme to confuse Booster Gold (Uniform colors: Blue and golden-yellow) and Green Lantern (Uniform colors: GREEN, thank you).
- Characters from the Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender are sometimes compared to characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion: Zuko is Shinji, Azula is Asuka, Mai is Rei, Ozai is Gendo, Ursa is Yui, Ty Lee is Misato, Iroh is Kaji and Zhao is Ritsuko.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic's Rainbow Dash: A blue cartoon animal who can break the sound barrier, has spiky hair, is very laid-back, loyal to her friends, and is admired by an orange-furred kid. Sonic the Hedgehog... A blue cartoon animal who can break the sound barrier, has spiky hair, is very laid-back, loyal to his friends, and is admired by an orange-furred kid.
- Donald Duck and Daffy Duck: Besides being ducks, both are the Ensemble Darkhorse of their respective companies, embody the opposite(and usually negative) qualities of the protagonist characters (Mickey and Bugs respectively), are prone to anger and jerkassery, yet prove to be more popular.