Fountain of Expies

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"And there's a million of us just like me
Who cuss like me; who just don't give a fuck like me
Who dress like me; Who walk, talk, and act like me

And just might be the next best thing, But not quite me!"
Eminem, The Real Slim Shady

A character who is so popular and impactful that many other characters created afterwards are heavily inspired by it. They share even more than its Character Archetypes, they are its Expies: basically the same old character recycled, with some minor changes, to make it fit into the new setting. The original one gives inspiration not just for their basic Characterization Tropes, but for parts of their relationship dynamics, personality, and appearance.

While too many authors using the same obvious Expies could be considered a worrying trend in terms of originality, it isn't an inherently bad thing. As a longer time passes, creators might be more and more likely to make bigger changes to the character, eventually growing it into a whole new Character Archetype trope on its own. In other cases, it's possible that the resulting characters are too different even for that: Talented writers can explore certain aspects of a character with an expy, and other aspects with another expy, in a way, that if you would compare the two expies, they wouldn't even appear that similar to each other. While it's possible that a Fountain of Expies also serves as a Trope Codifier for the character's most fundamental tropes, other times the shared similarities are more vague.

A Super-Trope to Overused Copycat Character (when a work jokes about how many times a certain character has been copied).

In the following "subtropes" list, only add trope pages whose descriptions are explicitly based on the idea of collecting characters that are based on a first one. There are other tropes that were more indirectly started or codified by certain characters, but these should only be referenced in the second, character-based listing.


Other examples

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • It is perhaps easier to count the number of Adventurer Archaeologists who are not Indiana Jones clones than the number of those that are.
  • Audrey II, who brought you other Man Eating Plants like the Piranha Plants from Super Mario Bros.
  • King Kong may be the single most referenced character who is not technically in the public domain, but it hasn't stopped many from copying him (probably because it's rather difficult to copyright a giant ape, whether we all know who it is or not). This was proved when Universal Studios famously sued Nintendo over Donkey Kong; they lost because they'd previously successfully argued a giant ape climbing a building was a public domain.

Literature[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Back in the early 1930s, every new cartoon character that came along was a Mickey Mouse clone. Ironically, Mickey himself was merely following the formula established the decade before by Felix the Cat, and more than one person has stated that he was merely Disney's previous star Oswald the Lucky Rabbit with round ears and a long tail.
    • Some people theorize that the whole "black skin, white mouth" genre of funny animals started out as an animated version of minstrel shows.