Replacement Goldfish

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Tycho: In my grief, I paid a mad scientist twenty million for a cybernetic replica of my dead wife. It was my wish that it look, feel, and behave just as she did.
Gabe: Is that it?
Tycho: Yeah.
Gabe: That's just a bucket on roller-skates.
Tycho: It really wasn't a good investment.

It's a cliché (and Truth in Television) that when a parent finds that their child's goldfish or other beloved pet has died, they'll try to replace it with a new one and pretend the original pet never died. The Replacement Goldfish trope is when a character follows this line of thinking to fill in the emotional void of a loss they've suffered.

In realistic settings, this could be an orphan taken in by a parent who has recently lost a child (to death, relocation, etc). In a sci-fi setting, the typical trope is the lonely scientist who creates a robot, android, artificial intelligence, clone, or robot-clone in the image of the deceased (probably first seen in this form in the classic Metropolis). Often it's a Robot Girl or Robotic Spouse, or Robot Kid in the case of a dead child.

If the new "goldfish" is unlucky, they constantly live in the shadow of the dead person and feel they can't measure up, which can also be the secret disappointment of the Mad Scientist. If unwary visitors are unlucky, the Living Doll Collector will try to use them as parts or playmates for their replacement in The Doll Episode.

The trope can be used to generate sympathy, either for the metaphorical goldfish—which audiences feel should live in better conditions—or for the person needing the replacement. It's a trope that deals with grief, which leads to drama and dynamic character interactions.

The Motherly Scientist is someone who legitimately loves the new creation for themselves; either as the original creator or surrogate.

When a lonely Evilutionary Biologist fills the void by cloning himself, he is a Truly Single Parent.

Not to be confused with the Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest.

Examples of Replacement Goldfish include:

Anime and Manga

  • Nuku Nuku from All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is not quite a Replacement Goldfish, in that the scientist takes the brain of the cat he struck in an accident and resurrects it in the body of a hyper-powered, incredibly cute cybernetic cat-brained girl.
  • Astro Boy, a replacement for the son Doctor Tenma lost, who died in a car accident playing with a robotic car that Doctor Tenma gave him to make up for the fact that he was so obsessed with developing a super-robot that he forgot to pay attention to his son. In one version, he was about to apologize for neglecting his son when he got the news.
    • Now, the incredible super-powers? If you're going to make a robot son, you would want it to be the best robot ever! And not get hit by a car. (Well, this time, his son is not going to be run over by anything short of an imperial battlecruiser.) And he already had the plans mostly finished...
    • Though, for some reason, in the original, the Doctor gets freaked out that his son, a robot, doesn't grow up. In other words, he got surprised that his robotic goldfish couldn't swim.
      • Pluto manages to one up this. Tenma realizes that the boy he created isn't Tobio, but the ideal child that Tobio never was. So Atom is in the horrible position of not being able to measure up because he's too perfect.
    • Of course, even though Tenma gets freaked out, he still helps Astro off and on and off again (see one example in the "World's Strongest Robot" story-arc and its remake, Urasawa Naoki's Pluto). And then in the 2003 TV version, Tenma becomes the stalker dad.
      • In the 2009 movie, he decides to accept Astro as a different, but equally valid son. Freakin' finally, dude.
  • Honey Kisaragi in Cutey Honey, a robotic replica / partial clone of the daughter that Dr. Kisaragi lost. She was specifically told by her father that she was her own person, though.
    • Miracle Shoujo Limit-chan, which was something of a "sister show" to the original Cutey Honey TV anime (but much more kid-friendly and much less popular), has a similar setup. The title character, Limit Nishiyama, was nearly fatally injured and the only way to save her life was to make her a cyborg.
  • In the first Fullmetal Alchemist series, Majihal creates simulacra of his lost love interest from years ago. Turns out she was alive, but he had become so obsessed with perfecting his ideal android that he refused to accept an average-looking middle-aged woman as the genuine article. Alchemist Sho Tucker is also obsessed with using human transmutation to recreate his lost daughter, whom he "killed" by using as ingredients in a transmutation experiment, which then died. (In addition, this is pretty much the reason anyone creates homunculi; the ones made for reasons other than replacing dead loved ones are exceptions.) There are also two Replacement Goldfish relationships that complement and parallel each other. The orphaned Elric brothers take on their alchemy teacher Izumi as a mother figure, while Izumi herself had a stillborn child and now accepts the Elrics as surrogate children.
    • Considering the result is pretty consistently a pus-oozing, organ pile, sin against God, you'd think people would learn eventually.
    • In one Brotherhood OVA, the Elric brothers encounter a rich couple that lost their daughter and apparently succeeded in transmuting her back, as they see the girl completely healthy, but it turns out that, unsurprisingly, the transmutation had failed, and the couple lied to the alchemist (who lost his eyes as payment) to make him believe he succeeded, and the girl was, in reality, an orphan they adopted because of her uncanny resemblance to their late daughter.
    • In one of the Yonkoma, Van Hohenheim accidentally drops the flask containing the Homunculus, killing it. He replaces it with a goldfish.
  • Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion is partly cloned from the DNA from Gendo Ikari's wife, Yui, and is therefore Gendo's replacement goldfish for Yui. She has also died and been resurrected twice, which would make her a replacement goldfish for herself, and she is the surrogate host for the soul of Lilith because she has no soul of her own. Furthermore, Ritsuko considers herself to be a substitute of sorts for Rei. Meanwhile, Gendo considers Ritsuko a substitute for her mother Naoko, however, his feelings for both of them were equally cynical in nature. He didn't love either of them so much as he needed access to their skill sets and one was just as good as the other. The Dummy Plugs, which are intended to replace pilots, are based on Rei and Kaworu's personalities. And don't even get started on the whole thing with Kaji, Misato, and Misato's father.
    • Rei could also be considered Gendo's replacement for Shinji. In one of his angry inner rants, Shinji even says as much. The fact that Rei was the name Gendo had planned on giving Shinji, if he had been born as a girl, seems to support this.
    • If I didn't misunderstand (not an easy task), the Dummy Plug's core system was actually a stripped-down nervous system of a clone of Rei or Kaworu.
  • An old man in the anime of Rozen Maiden convinced himself the boyish doll Souseiseki was his child, Kazuki, and went so far as to dress her in boy's clothing.
    • More like he chose her because she wore boy's clothing in the first place. She wears the same outfit in flashbacks from long before she met the old man, best seen in Overture.
  • Variation: Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was (unknown to her) supposed to be a replacement for the villainess's daughter, Alicia Testarossa. Unfortunately, even with Alicia's memories, Fate was not a perfect copy (the Movie mentions that unlike Alicia, she's not left-handed and has different magic potential). In the end, she unwittingly became merely a tool to help Precia resurrect Alicia, while her inability to mimic the original led to much suffering on her part.
    • Her adopted son was in a similar position: he's a product of the same cloning tech that created Fate. It seems to have improved somewhat in the interim, as he's never mentioned to be different from the original Erio. He was taken away from his "parents" when the Bureau found out about his origins. One of the reasons Fate took him in was to try to prevent him from going through the same kind of pain she did as a child.
  • In the Pokémon CD drama short story "The Birth of Mewtwo", the scientist who was working on Mewtwo was attempting to recreate his daughter at the same time. He was successful only in creating a clone that would live for only a year in a tank.
    • There's also Jessibelle, James's psychotic would-be fiancée who looks almost identical to Jessie. James drifted toward a life of crime (and to Jessie) partially out of spite for his arranged engagement with Jessibelle as a child.
  • In The Big O anime, R. Dorothy Wainwright was an android created as a surrogate for the deceased daughter of her creator.
  • Likewise Naomi Armitage in Armitage III.
  • In Chobits, Minoru's persocom Yuzuki was a replacement for his sister (whom you might recognize as Kaede from Angelic Layer).
    • It should be noted, though, that he eventually understands what he is doing to Yuzuki and decides to stop updating his sister's personality into her. Also, the whole thing might be insane if it came from a scientist with no interest for ethics, but it's understandable since he's a lonely 12-year-old who needs some kind of emotional protector.
  • Inverted in AIR. Minagi's mother has been traumatized by her miscarriage and thinks that Minagi is the dead baby and there was no older child, leaving Minagi to live as "Michiru" at home. Minagi's relationship with her mother deteriorates along with her mother's mental state, and she starts blaming herself for the baby's fate.
  • Nataku in X 1999 is the botched, emotionless, genderless clone of the resident Mad Scientist's dead daughter.
  • In Touka Gettan, Yomiko considers Touka to be her dead daughter.
  • Eris did this with her dead love Rezo, giving us Copy Rezo.
  • Suzu in Hotori - Tada Saiwai o Koinegau is a robot replacement for a couple who has recently lost their son to illness, and struggles with the question of whether he has an identity of his own. The "doctor" who's overseeing the process of implanting the dead boy's memories into Suzu also has a terminally ill daughter, but (perhaps wisely) decides against getting a Replacement Goldfish because he's got enough experience with the robot doubles to know that however good the replacement is, it will never really be her.
  • There's a trace of this in Sonic X where Shadow the Hedgehog, despite his current outright abhorrence of humans, chooses to save Chris Thorndyke from an exploding island after envisioning him as Maria Robotnik (it's all in the eyes, apparently). Somewhat subverted as it does not stop him from bashing the kid about a bit several episodes later.
  • Is it still a Replacement Goldfish if, in Kodomo no Jikan, the female lead (age 9-10) is being raised up by her guardian (her mother's lover/cousin) to be a replacement for said dead lover? Even to the Squickable point of leaving hickeys on the back of her neck?
  • Played with in the second season of Gundam 00. Neil Dylandy, the original Lockon Stratos, has a twin brother named Lyle, who eventually takes up his brother's place as Lockon in Celestial Being. He grew into being his own person by acting like as much of a Jerkass as he could when he first came to Celestial Being, purposely failing to deliver during battle, and refusing to feel vengeful when everyone expected him to. Only later does he actually put his heart into filling his dead brother's shoes, and it was when he was trying to save Katatron, the group for whom he was acting as a Double Agent. Later, he says that, as a child, he had himself sent to boarding school to get away from the comparisons and laments the fact that he will never live Neil down.
  • An episode of The Third features the superweapon Gravestone, whose creator made it in the image of his dead son and ended up trying not to use it for that reason.
  • In H2O: Footprints in the Sand, Hinata is a Replacement Goldfish for her own sister. Her older sister, the real Hinata, drowned, and the family forced Hotaru to replace her, telling everyone that Hotaru had died instead.
  • In Pet Shop of Horrors, an early chapter of the manga which became the first episode of the anime involves the Count selling a "rabbit" to a pair of distraught parents - a "rabbit" who looks exactly like their dead daughter, Alice. They take her in and treat her exactly the same as their own daughter, with disastrous results. It turns out that the "rabbit", when fed sweets, "gives birth to" (is eaten from within by) dozens of killer rabbits, each of which go forth, kill, eat, and "give birth" to more killer bunnies until the town is overrun.
    • Quite a few Pet Shop of Horrors chapters deal with D giving a pet as a replacement for a lost child, spouse, or family member. Almost all of them appear human to the owners and (thankfully) they don't all end like Alice the Rabbit did. In one chapter, D is visited by a man whose famous fiancée just died and gives him a mermaid that looks just like her...a mermaid which enchants and seduces him before devouring him. Another chapter has Leon's younger brother Chris bond with a Maya bird which appears in the form of Chris and Leon's deceased mother, giving both a chance for emotional release before finally dying of old age. In fact, it was in that chapter that D comments on how the pets in his shop will deliberately take the form and role of whomever the owners want, including lost loved ones.
  • In Sola, we find out that the protagonist, Yorito, is actually a replacement made out of paper by Aono to replace the REAL Yorito, who died sometime in the feudal era in a landslide. Using her paper manipulation abilities as a yaka, she basically planted dead!Yorito's personality and memories into origami!Yorito. The whole thing is a bit disturbing when you think about it.
  • Shiina in Narutaru gets to be this in a very strange way in the manga. She's a replacement for herself after she is killed by a fighter jet; it's basically the handiwork of her real Mon, the Earth itself, because she still has to fulfill her role in what will become of the world.
    • Not to mention that if you believe the theory that Shiina drowned in the very first chapter, the Shiina we see throughout most of the manga is a replacement of that Shiina. And it's possible that there were other examples even before then. You gotta love Narutaru.
  • In Cosmo Warrior Zero, the new first mate, Marina Oki, looks EXACTLY like Captain Zero's late wife.
  • The Manwha (and movie) My Sassy Girl is about a man who meets a seemingly deranged woman who forces him to act like her deceased lover ("No soda, coffee!"). By coincidence, the dead lover is the man's cousin.
  • Sharem in Immortal Rain is so into her Replacement Goldfish son that she has no issues with his...eccentricities or his views on humanity.
  • The second season of Code Geass has Rolo, who was inserted into Lelouch's modified memories by Emperor Charles as part of a backup plan should Lelouch ever realize who he truly is.
  • In Fruits Basket, Yuki sees Tohru as a replacement mother figure.
    • Kyo sees his sensei as a replacement father; the man in turn sees Kyo as a son.
  • A story in Mermaid Saga has Mana and Yuta meet a woman and her young son who turn out to be both immortal and together since World War II. Turns out, the boy isn't the woman's biological child. He became immortal first and offered her a chance to eat the mermaid's flesh and be with him. She accepted because her own child died and she saw the boy as a replacement.
  • In the Full Metal Panic! novels, this can be a rather disturbing (and possibly implied) view of the two (male) twins Gauron took in. It's revealed that Gauron had actually wanted to lure and take Sousuke in the first time he saw him, giving him a "dark smile" (read: rapeface), and, later, even coming out and saying that his plans for Sousuke had been less than pure (hint: it involves buttrape). Later, Gauron ends up taking in two male twins that he tells Sousuke "were quite similar to you". It gets worse: The twins are both Asian (like Sousuke), and they are described using similar terms to Sousuke's physical looks ("slender" build, around the same age, with a similar sort of haircut, and one of the twins even uses the same kind of gun Sousuke normally uses - an automatic pistol, which was also why Kaname knew how that gun worked better than if he had been using a different kind).
  • Happens twice in RahXephon. The two main leads, Ayato and Haruka, inadvertently seek out a Replacement Goldfish for one another after they're separated across time by the arrival of the Mulians. Haruka starts dating Ayato's twin brother Itsuki, and Ayato becomes infatuated with a girl named Reika who's actually a spirit that's adopted the guise of Haruka because Ayato misses her that much.. Eventually, they are reunited and everything is set right with the help of the titular Giant Mecha.
  • Game X Rush features the 'replacement child' type, with Miyuki's damaged mind believing that Yuuki was her son, Memori... and that anyone who tried to say differently was clearly trying to take Memori from her, and thus should be stabbed until they're dead.
  • In one episode of Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Complex, a woman wants to kill her ex-boyfriend and become the Replacement Goldfish for him herself. Given that both are cyborgs with interchangeable bodies, it might even have worked in some twisted way.
    • Considering how the writers are Magnificent Bastards they never let us know whether or not she failed and if Pazu was or was not killed and replaced.
  • In Vampire Knight, after noticing Yuuki's resemblence to her mother Juri, Yuuki's uncle Rido (who was in love with Juri) changed his plans from devouring Yuuki to keeping her as a substitute for Juri.
  • In the original TV series of Hellsing, studio Gonzo reveals in an interview of Newtype that the reason why Alucard turns Seras Victoria into a vampire was because 'her eyes' reminded him to 'Integra's' when she was a young girl. This is never brought up in the series, though they do make an emphasis on her eyes when he's about to shoot her.
  • This shows up occasionally in the Dolls series with people trying to use the titular Ridiculously Human Robots as Replacement Goldfish. In one story, a little boy who is neglected by his mother is given a Doll that looks exactly like her for Christmas. When the boy tells his real mother that it's okay that she ignores him because he doesn't need her anymore, she has a Heel Realization—which might have been the Doll's creator's goal all along. In another story, a woman who lost her son when a Doll accidentally drowned him in the bathtub and formed an anti-Doll terrorist group in response and begins to see the enforcer Doll (that looks like a young boy) that was sent to stop the group as a replacement son. The inventor of the Dolls nearly went through with this after his wife—who helped invent the Dolls—succumbed to a neurological disease that left her a listless shadow of her former self. In his grief, he designed a Doll that looked exactly like her and uploaded her memories into the Doll. When the Doll is activated and greets him with his wife's voice, he embraces it in joy—but stops when the Doll calls him "Master". Coming to his senses, the man devotes himself to taking care of his invalid wife.
  • Inverted in one of the later arcs of Kaze no Stigma, where a Replacement Goldfish is created FOR a girl who is supposed to be sacrificed to an evil spirit in order to prevent it from destroying half of Japan. The 'copy' would basically be used in her stead, so that she can survive, and is routinely dehumanized as an 'It' despite clearly being her own person. Fortunately for her, the one time she decides to run away to experience the world before she's sacrificed, she meets a polite and somewhat awkward boy around her age by chance, whose older brother wields devastating magical powers while possessing an extreme aversion to the very concept of 'sacrifice'.
  • An episode of Black Jack 21 has the good doctor (and his assistant/adopted daughter/wife, Pinoco) befriend a young guy living in a developing country. Originally one half of a pair of identical twins, his brother was adopted as a Replacement Goldfish for a wealthy man whose child (who looked identical to the brothers) perished in the same flood that rendered the twins orphans. The man hid the death of their child from his wife, and thus couldn't adopt both of them, forcing the twins to be separated, and the adopted twin to act like the long-dead boy in order to avoid breaking the heart of his adopted mother. (On top of this, she was injured during the flood and was left with a delicate health.) Cue his twin brother winding up mortally ill and in dire need of a kidney-transplant...and only one compatible donor in the city.
  • In Tenshi ni Narumon, Kai knows that Natsumi, who he is in love with, sees him just as a replacemnent for her dead brother Fuyuki, who Natsumi had obsessed over constantly since his death. He eventually decides that, for her own good, it would be the best if they parted ways.
  • In the original, 1969 Himitsu no Akko-chan series, Atsuko "Akko-chan" Kagami, the main protagonist, has to ask, for a school assignment, the origins of her name. She discovers that Atsuko was actually supposed to be her older sister who was stillborn. Being born a little girl, the "younger" Atsuko was given the name already used for her dead sibling, with no one ever mentioning that until she asked first.
  • The Millennium Earl from D.Gray-man uses this trope in what could be the most sadistic and horrible way ever invented. He takes advantage of the grief of somebody and offers him a Replacement Goldfish of the loved one that he lost. This wouldn't be that bad if the replacement wasn't an Eldritch Abomination that will kill the person who invoked it and use his body as a disguise so it can wander outside looking for more victims without being spotted. Not to mention that the soul of the invoked one will be permanently attached to the monster until an exorcist frees it.
  • Kagome of Inuyasha has major insecurites over the fact that she may be the title character's Replacement Goldfish for his lost love, Kikyou, aka Kagome's self in her past life. As the love plot thickens and Kikyo is brought back to life, it continues to play into Kagome's inferiority complex that Inuyasha will eventually return to her.
  • An interesting variation in Tenchi Muyo!: In the OAV timeline, Sasami's connection to Tsunami began when Sasami, as a toddler, fell from a near-fatal height to the base of Tsunami's tree. To do so, Tsunami saved her by combining their lifeforce to heal the little girl; however, Sasami didn't understand and was afraid that she might just be Tsunami's copy of the real girl, and so carried the secret for years for fear of losing her family's love. When it's revealed, however, Tenchi and the other girls didn't exactly care, and Ayeka openly told her that she was still Sasami.
  • In Mawaru Penguindrum, Ringo Oginome actually aims to become one of this in regards to her deceased older sister, Momoka, even when her parents had not asked her for anything by these lines. By episode 14, she has decided to not go through it.
  • Family Compo revolves around this. The adult protagonist is taken in by his aunt (who is near-identical to his deceased mother), her husband, and their daughter. The protagonist has romantic feelings toward his cousin but other than that they act like a typical family.
  • Midori Wakatsuki's foster parents in Eden no Hana adopted her to fill in the blank left by the death of her bio daughter Reika. Her mentally-broken foster mom treats her with relative kindness, but calls her by the dead little girl's name and acts as if Midori was the real Reika. Her issues are made worse by the fact that her stepbrother sexually abuses her

Comic Books

  • Y: The Last Man averts this in the Distant Finale. Yorick refuses to even consider the offer implied by theories concerning 'bringing back' any number of dead women and a sample of 355's hair.
    • Played rather straight in the same series' penultimate chapter when Dr. Matsumori is revealed to have used his estranged daughter's tissue samples in the hopes of being a proper father to her this time around. Alison Mann (neé Atsuko Matsumori) is annoyed over it, but she did not like the guy anyway, even before finding out he had sabotaged her own cloning project out of sheer ego.
    • Also in the Distant Finale, Yorick has dozens of Ambersand-clones who take care of him in his old age. It's implied he DID use these as replacement goldfish after he euthanized the original (it was dying of old age and miserable) but is very cynical about it. None of the clones misbehave the way he did.
  • Spygirl, the Japanese knockoff of Spyboy, is/has an entire assembly line of Replacement Goldfishes for herself. The Japanese spies don't understand why the Americans put so much effort into Spyboy if they were only going to make one. Her one solo story ends with the current model getting this explained to her via a flashback explaining a picture of her she doesn't remember taking, ending with the Spygirl in the picture dying and being replaced with her. She's then drugged to forget the whole thing and has the photo taken away, with her superior who's been flashbacking remarking that if she figures it out again, she can always be replaced.
    • Painkiller Jane suffers from the same issue.
  • A significant problem in Spider-Man and Mary Jane's marriage is that M.J often had the problem of feeling like she couldn't measure up to Spidey's first love, Gwen Stacey. But hey, it's not like THAT'S a problem any more! Hell, it was shown in House Of M that his heart's desire is to be married to Gwen and to a father a kid with her.
    • Well, actually, the point of that story was to show that his heart's desire was to have saved Gwen Stacy from her plunge off the George Washington bridge. The bit about marrying Gwen and having kids with her was an in-universe example of the Fridge Logic inherent in Peter's wish: if Gwen hadn't died, he'd have married her and never became more than friends with MJ.
    • Also, it was not so much a problem of MJ not measuring up to Gwen. As early as the original Clone Saga in the 1970s it was shown that Peter had moved on. When Gwen apparently returned from the dead (at that point neither she nor Peter knew she was actually a clone) and kissed Peter, his reaction made her doubt that he still loved her.
  • Part of the reason Jason Todd went nuts after his resurrection was because he thought Batman just replaced him without question. The other part was that Jason's killer was still alive.
    • In many ways, Jason was just a replacement for Dick, which only added to the resentment he felt. Some of the different versions of his origin story went so far as to say he was a natural redhead who dyed his hair black like Dick's--or was made to dye his hair by Batman.
  • The problems of the marriage of Hank Pym (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket) and Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) have often been traced back to the fact that what first got Hank interested in Jan was that she reminded him of his murdered first wife.
  • Havok from the X-Men was adopted as a parents seeking to replace their dead son. How they got past psychological screening is anyone guess, but then again, Mr. Sinister was the one running the place.


  • The Professor does this twice in The Nightmare Before Christmas. The first is Sally, who proves very undesirable, rebellious and disobedient. Exasperated, the Professor gives her freedom and makes a female robot who uses half of his own brain.

"Think of the conversations we'll have, my dear."

    • Just the once, actually - Sally was the first goldfish. Presumably, before Sally, he did his own freakin' housework.
    • Maybe this is more like a Replacement Beta following the Goldfish, since the doctor treats Sally like an annoying child, but replaces her with a wife.
    • It's also worth pointing out that it was Sally's suggestion in the first place.
  • In Disney's Tarzan, the titular character was adopted by Kala who recently lost her baby to Sabor.
  • In Mary and Max, Max gets a new goldfish after each of his previous ones die, each new goldfish being named "Henry (Roman Numeral)". There's a montage that shows the passing of several Henry-s.
  • In Vertigo, Scottie molds the brunette Judy into the image of the elegant blond Madeleine after the latter woman breaks his heart by committing suicide. Cruelly ironic once learned that Judy really is the "Madeleine" he'd known -- she impersonated the real Madeleine as part of Elster's plan to cover up his murder of his wife.
  • In A.I., the android child David is adopted as a replacement for Henry and Monica's comatose son. The problems really begin when the "real" son wakes up.
    • Android David was also created in the image of Professor Hobby's dead son David.
  • Although unable to build a Ridiculously Human Robot, the computer programmer from WarGames did name the military's nuke-controlling AI "Joshua" after his dead child.
  • In North (best-known for starring a very young Elijah Wood and Roger Ebert's infamous review of the film), one of the title character's several adoptive families almost immediately start trying to shape him into the image of their dead son.
    • Extra creepy because this appears to merely be a pleasant bonus to their stated goal of having the biggest of everything in Texas - son included.
  • Ripley and Newt's relationship had overtones of this in Aliens (Ripley had a daughter, who died while she was in cryosleep - but that scene was cut).
    • The scene appeared in the first TV showing of the film, and is on the DVD release, as part of the regular narrative, not as a "deleted scene" bonus. It's also worth noting that Ripley was in cryosleep for an unplanned 50 years, during which her daughter grew up, grew old, and died a natural death. She didn't die as a child. But that makes Ripley's loss more profound, because she missed out on an entire long life, while her daughter never knew what happened to her.
  • Violet and the Creepy Child in Ultraviolet.
  • In an attempt to replace their stillborn daughter, Kate and John Coleman adopted a mysteriously intelligent nine year old Russian Orphan called Esther into their family.... Bad mistake.
  • The Francis Ford Coppola version of the story of Dracula had the title character attracted to Mina because of her resemblance to his lost wife Elizabeta, who killed herself (and in the church's view, damned herself) because of a false report of his death spread by his enemies, which led to Dracula renouncing God and becoming a vampire.
  • In the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis, Mad Scientist Rotwang builds a Ridiculously Human Robot to replace Hel (named for the Norse goddess Hel), the woman he loved, but who married someone else and then died in childbirth. On the most literal level, she's Rotwang's Replacement Goldfish, but on some level, she also serves that function for most of the major characters. (In addition, she becomes Maria's Evil Twin—or, more precisely, her evil Doppelganger.)
  • At the end of Face Off, Sean Archer adopts Castor Troy's son to fill the void left by his murdered son.
  • In Eve and the Fire Horse, a little Chinese-Canadian girl is told that the souls of the dead sometimes return as goldfish. She asks for (and gets) one, literally to take the place of her grandmother who has just died.
  • The 6th Day is made of this trope. "Re-pet" is a company that will clone your dead dog/cat/fish and give it the memories of the deceased. While cloning humans is illegal, the bad guys get reborn this way, as does a scientist's wife.
  • A double example occurs in the movie of Interview with the Vampire (and in the book as well). Claudia wants to make Madeline a vampire to replace Louis who she fears will leave her for Armand. Madeline is fully willing to become a vampire so Claudia (who can never die) can replace her deceased daughter.
  • Arguably, James Bond sees all of his various Love Interests as replacement Tracies, the one he actually married (or perhaps, as replacement Vespers, the first one he actually fell in love with).
  • One of the big reveals at the end of Don't Look Back involves this. The real Jeanne died in a car accident when she was a child, and her mother raised Rosa Maria to take her place.


  • Ethan of Athos: Terrance brings his wife's corpse to the best scientists money can buy and asks them to revive her. They can't, but offer to create a clone identical to Janine in looks, personality, and mannerisms - perhaps even with a few improvements. Terrance declines, but he does have the scientists splice her DNA into donor ovaries so that he can have thousands or millions of Janine's babies.
    • Averted with prejudice in the same series's Mirror Dance, by both Miles' and his mother Cordelia's emphatic refusal to treat Miles's clone Mark as anything but Miles' brother. One of the reasons for this is that in the setting, most civilized societies with cloning technology treat a clone as legally either the child of the person who originally commissioned its creation, or the sibling of the clone's genetic progenitor.
  • In Forever Amber, the heroine Amber marries the creepy, elderly Earl of Radclyffe. It turns out he's attracted to her because of her resemblance to his long-lost love, Judith, and even has Amber wear Judith's wedding gown. Neither Radclyffe nor Amber realize that Judith was Amber's mother.
  • In Double Identity, Bethany was cloned from her parents' deceased daughter Elizabeth.
  • Inverted and played straight in Dave Duncan's Strings.
  • In one James Herriot's Yorkshire vet books, he is trying to clip the beak of a bird (a needed procedure for the health of the bird) belonging to an old, blind lady who is easily upset. The bird dies, and he stares with horror at it. He and the caretaker conspire to buy another exactly like it. The lady accepts it as the original. except she mentions the bird never sang so much before- clipping its beak did wonders!
  • My Sweet Audrina by V.C Andrews has an odd twist to this trope. Audrina, the title character, is a girl living in the constant shadow of her elder sister who had died nine years before she was born, and her parents have absolutely no qualms about letting their daughter know that she was born and raised for the sole purpose of replacing her dead sister. But as it turns out, Audrina and her sister are one and the same. Audrina had a very sheltered life and, on one of the few times she was allowed to walk home without an escort, she was attacked and raped. She managed to get home safe and sound, but after a few suicide attempts her father forced her into electro-convulsive therapy in order to erase her memory of the event. Many of her supposed mental problems, as well as the personality defects her parents are constantly trying to fix, are caused by the initial treatment and the constant confusion her parents keep her in to maintain the amnesia. And, as it turns out, that's only one of her problems...
    • V. C. Andrews is very fond of this trope. Another example is in the Heaven series, in which the titular character dyes her hair blond to resemble the mother she never knew. Problem is, this causes her father (who already seems to be displaying an unhealthy interest in her) to confuse her with her mother (whom he raped, resulting in Heaven's birth), to the point where he tries to force himself on her. This is still a subverted example, as she chose to dye her hair rather than being pressured into it, but in the next book, her daughter is pressured into doing this by her grandfather (she's living with him, recovering from injuries sustained in the car accident that killed her parents). Sure enough, she nearly becomes his victim as well.
  • Tarzan was the replacement for his ape mother's dead infant.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only In Death, after Caffran's death, Dalin Criid is slotted into his father's place in the Ghosts. He bitterly resents it but is aware that he can do nothing to stop it.
  • Elizabeth-Jane Newson/Henchard in The Mayor of Casterbridge.
  • Harry Potter to Sirius Black. Harry's strong physical resemblance to his father James makes him a substitute for his best friend when Sirius escaped prison. This causes some tension between the two in the text when Harry is revealed to be less daring than James and Sirius is unable to handle it appropriately (saying things like "you're not so like your father at all" and "the danger is what would have made it fun for James" (paraphrasing)), and is reflected also in the film version when Sirius actually calls Harry by James' name in the battle scene where he dies. This Replacement Goldfish situation is also what prevents Sirius from being the father figure that Harry desires, and Harry from being the best friend that Sirius desires, neither are able to fully transition into the Godfather/Godson relationship because of their inability to get past the physical similarities that James and Harry had. Harry can't be the James that Sirius remembers because he never knew him, and Sirius can't be the father that Harry craves because he's trapped by the trauma of his youth.
  • Sansa Stark is apparently one of this for her mother Cat's Unlucky Childhood Friend, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish in A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • And when Cersei gets separated from her brother Jaime, she uses her cousin Lancel as one of these. Complete with sleeping with him.
      • Also, Cersei's marriage was doomed as Robert Baratheon treated her like one for his lost love, Lyanna Stark.
    • Daenerys is one for Jorah Mormont's estranged wife, Lynesse Hightower.
  • In Jessica, Ruthie seems to have a rather odd version of this. Her Imaginary Friend, Jessica, is her constant companion, always eager to play whatever game Ruthie devises and willing to take the blame for Ruthie's actions. Ruthie's parents are unamused and do not play along. Shortly before starting kindergarten, they suggest that Jessica should stay home. Ruthie, of course, takes her along anyway. After spending the majority of the day homesick and unhappy with only Jessica for companionship, Ruthie is approached by a girl volunteering to be her partner. Ruthie, unsure, brightens up considerably when the girl's name happens to be Jessica. Soon they are best friends, illustrations showing them happily doing all the activities that Ruthie and the first Jessica enjoyed.
  • In Edith Pattou's East, main character Rose was born to replace her dead older sister Elise, their mother's favorite of her (altogether) eight children.
  • In the Dune series, Duncan Idaho (who was killed in the first book) is eventually resurrected as a series of clones (which become pretty much disposable at one point). Eventually, the Idaho clones learn to awaken their latent memories of the past.
  • Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, is an inversion of this. The second Mrs. de Winter spends most of the book failing to live up to the memory of Rebecca, her husband's first wife, who had drowned accidentally. She is explicitly told, often, that she doesn't measure up, by Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca's personal maid. The second Mrs. de Winter becomes more and more desperate in her attempts to live up to Rebecca's memory, because Mrs. Danvers has her convinced that that is what Maxim, her husband, wants. Just when the second Mrs. De Winter (she is never given a first name, and the book is a first person narrative) is near a breakdown, and Mrs. Danvers suggests that she throw herself out of a window, it is revealed that Maxim never really loved Rebecca, and in fact, came to hate her, because she was cruel, cold, manipulative, and unfaithful. Not only that, she had taunted him one night until he murdered her, by telling him she was pregnant with another man's child, which she intended that he would support. It doesn't end there, and Maxim is vindicated, so they can go on with their lives together.
  • In the novel Skinned, if a person dies but their brain is intact, the brain is scanned and the information is placed into a human-like robot body. Sometimes a person will choose to have it done to themselves. The main character of the book, Lia, is "killed" in a car accident, but her parents choose to keep her around as an android. Needless to say, this causes many emotional difficulties for both the now-robot Lia and her family.
  • In the German novel The Adopted Room by A. Michaelis, 11-years old boy Achim is adopted by a family. He later discovers that they had a son called Arnim who died in an accident when he was 4 - and they were born very close to each other. He contemplates that this is the reason he was adopted by them, despite having asthma.
  • At least twice in the Sweet Valley High series, Steven ditches his girlfriend Cara to pursue girls who resemble his dead girlfriend Tricia. To make matters worse, he refuses to see either girl as her own person and instead tries to mold them into Tricia's image—the food they eat, places they go, interests that they have. Not until one of the girls finally blasts him for this and declares that she deserves better than being used as a substitute does he finally realize how unhealthy his behavior is.
  • Daphne in The Golden Oecumene made a replacement for herself as a last gift to her lover before retreating into a Lotus Eater Machine, making its personality an exaggerated parody of everything she thinks her lover wanted in her. Cloning Blues are touched upon, but the duplicate eventually develops its own sense of selfhood—and in any event, the lover is also an Artificial Human, having been created from a computer simulation.
  • The Berenstain Bears book The Berenstain Bears Lose a Friend featured a literal replacement goldfish like the Monk example below. Sister's goldfish died and Papa got her a lookalike to try to keep her from noticing and getting sad. It only worked for a short time.
  • Nurse Agnes Meredith in Septimus Heap starts hoarding dolls after losing her son Merrin in the first book - after all, with dolls you at least know what you are with.

Live-Action TV

  • Monk featured a literal replacement goldfish. Natalie's daughter, Julie, had a goldfish given to her by her father who was subsequently killed in combat. Natalie repeatedly replaces the goldfish so that the daughter won't lose this emotional link to her father. Unfortunately, she does this well beyond the average lifespan of the domestic goldfish, which Julie notices.
  • Denji Sentai Megaranger has Shibolena, the android created in the shape of Dr. Hinelar's daughter, Shizuka.
    • Earlier than that, Choudenshi Bioman had the Black Prince, who was created in the shape of Doctor Man's son, Shuichi. Subverted in that Shuichi is actually alive, and met the Biomen after the Black Prince's demise. In fact, his appearance revealed that Doctor Man was once a man.
    • And in one episode of Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan, Black Magma builds a robot replica of a scientist's dead daughter in exchange for his creating a lethal poison. The robot eventually accepts the scientist as its father and refuses to kill him when ordered to, leading the villains to destroy it.
  • K9 from Doctor Who was created by Professor Marius to replace the dog he couldn't take to his new home, Titan.
    • Also used with K9 in a later episode; after bidding farewell to Leela and K9, the Doctor immediately takes out a box marked "K9 Mark II".
      • And again in the new series, with K9 Mark IV being given to Sarah Jane Smith immediately after the heroic sacrifice of K9 Mark III.
    • Also in the Doctor Who episode, Journey's End, when Rose must return to the alternate universe she was trapped in for two years, The Doctor gives her a replacement copy created when He transferred his regeneration energy into his severed hand, and Donna touched it, creating a second Doctor
      • Not to mention, the whole ending of "Doomsday", where Jackie becomes alternate-Pete's replacement for alternate-Jackie, and alternate-Pete becomes Rose and Jackie's replacement for Pete, and Mickey becomes the replacement for Ricky (alternate-Mickey).
      • Also, in the Doctor's Daughter, Jenny could be seen as a replacement goldfish to his family on Galifrey, which he remarked had died previously.
  • In Dark Angel, Max is eventually informed by her former commander and father figure, Donald Lydecker, who had been hunting her and the other escaped X5s for a long time, that her genetic code contains DNA preserved from his dead wife. She is not an exact duplicate, "more like inspired by".
  • A really unpleasant twist for Micheal Knight occurs in Knight Rider. Turns out he's the replacment for his benefactors rotten-apple of a son.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Requiem for Methuselah", Rayna is a replacement for a woman from Flint's past.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Noonien Soong replaced his wife with an android (with her memories) despite the fact that she was going to divorce him. He went to such extreme measures to make her seem human, even the most advanced technological equipment and everyone she ever met, except Data, couldn't tell the difference.
    • Actually, Soong stated in a recording that he didn't just replace his wife; he transferred her whole mind into an android body while she was in a coma. Another cyberneticist, Ira Graves, did this with Data in a previous episode in order to cheat death. Soong's wife was still the same person, but had unknowingly become a Tomato in the Mirror who would never find out.
      • Data himself is arguably a replacement for Lore.
      • And in Star Trek: Nemesis, B4 is clearly set up to become one for Data.
    • Data himself didn't know Soong's wife was an android until her arm came off.
  • Battlestar Galactica: This is the origin of the Cylon Centurions. Replace a goldfish (namely your dead daughter), set in motion the end of your civilization.
    • Oh, and Cavil was made in the image of Ellen's father.
    • All the human models seem to be Ellen and Tigh's replacement children and/or the Final Five's replacement PEOPLE.
  • In a more realistic version, Supernatural had Dean replace his dead mother by looking after both his father and his brother when he shouldn't had to. And we all know how well that turned out.
  • Hamish Macbeth: The episode "Wee Jock's Lament" has the title character's dog, Jock, ran over and killed at the beginning of the episode. At the end of the episode, he ends up receiving another dog of the same breed as a reward for solving the crime of the week--and he names it Jock.
  • Heroes: As of the most recent season finale, Sylar has become one for Nathan Petrelli, complete with his memories being wiped and replaced with those of Nathan, his shapeshifting ability being used to turn him into a lookalike of Nathan (which, since he doesn't remember that he can shapeshift, leaves him effectively mode-locked), and the burning of a fake Sylar body to convince him that Sylar is most definitely dead for good. Of course, that still leaves the hunger that made Gabriel Gray into Sylar in the first place...
  • A mad scientist in one episode of Sliders was, in fact, his robotic replica without even knowing it.
  • Fringe: tt looks like Peter Bishop is one, the Peter of this reality died as a child and in his grief, Walter, his Mad Scientist father, built a reality hopping device and dragged an alt-reality Peter into this world as a replacement.
  • "Hi. I'm Larry. This is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl." On Newhart, you didn't even have to be adopted to be a Replacement Goldfish.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Man on the Street" (1x06), an Internet billionaire, Joel Mynor, uses Echo as a replacement for his dead wife Rebecca, but only once a year - the anniversary of her death in a car crash on her way to the new house Joel bought when he finally hit it big in business. Later, toward the end of "A Love Supreme" (2x08), Echo - who now can control the 40 personalities in her brain - briefly becomes "Rebecca" for the last time to give her blessing to Joel's remarriage.
    • In the episode "Instinct" (2x02), another Rich Dude rents Echo as a longer-term replacement for his wife and mother of his infant child; again, the client's wife had died too young (in this case, of complications from the birth).
  • In That Mitchell and Webb Look, Dreamy Pastures Insurance offers, as a life insurance policy, to replace your dead loved one with someone "prettier and kinder", usually in the Russian bride mold.
  • The golem in The X-Files episode "Kaddish" is also a replacement goldfish, specifically created by the fiancee of an assassinated man to "play" him in a fake wedding.
  • Juliet from Lost is made into this twice, both times by Ben. The first time, he tries to use her as a replacement goldfish for Jack's ex-wife Sarah to further his Mind Screw on him. Then before that, for himself as a replacement goldfish for his MIA childhood sweetheart Annie.
  • Aaron Stone (the series, not the character) is essentially meant to be this for the long running Power Rangers franchise, especially considering what had been going on with RPM.
  • Dewey did this in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle with, indeed, a goldfish.
    • A subversion of this trope, since Dewey kept replacing the goldfish in order to fool his parents into believing he could reliably care for a pet so he could have a dog.
  • It is hinted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles that Allison Young and Future!John have a relationship, and that Cameron may be her replacement in more ways than one...
  • The Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn't start out this way, but after Buffy dies at the end of Season 5, one of the series' more poignant scenes features Dawn, missing her big sister, lying down next to the Buffybot and cuddling with the robot as it charges.
    • Well, it actually sort of did start out that way, since it was built by Warren to be Spike's Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest for Buffy who rejected his advances. Ironically after Buffy's death Spike can't stand to look at the Buffybot, and is disgusted when it obeys its earlier programming and tries to flirt with him.
  • In the British comedy series The Vicar of Dibley, Alice (the vicar's assistant) had a reincarnating budgie named George. She never realized until the vicar told her that her parents kept buying her new budgies after each one died.
  • Parodied in Elvis And Slick Monty. In one episode, Slick had to get a literal replacement goldfish after Dr. Leon ate Elvis's old one while he is away, only for Leon to eat the replacement goldfish itself. With no time left to get another one, Slick stuck Dr. Leon's hand into the bowl. Elvis was fooled.
  • In the Law and Order SVU episode "Locum", a couple is revealed to have adopted a orphan girl simply because she looked almost identical to their biological daughter who was lost years before. To make the newly adopted kid look as much like their lost child as possible, the parents (mostly the mother) forced the 8-12 year old to wear the girl's clothes, dye her hair, and even get a nose job. The kicker? The biological daughter is found by the police alive and, at the end of the episode, is returned to her parents as the replacement daughter watches on.
  • Nancy for Nellie Oleson on Little House On the Prairie.
  • Angel. In Season 5 Wesley's Love Interest 'Fred' Burkle is killed so her body can by used by Illyria. In exchange for Illyria agreeing not to kill anyone, Wesley acts as Illyria's guide to this strange new world she's been reborn into. Angel flat-out asks Wes if he's in love with Illyria; he denies it adding, "But I do need her." Wes does try to limit this trope—when Illyria offers to take Fred's form to understand human relationships Wes is outraged and refuses to speak to her for a while. Just before the Grand Finale, which no-one expects to survive, Team Angel spend their time doing simple things they enjoy. Wes on the other hand just tends to Illyria's wounds, and she once again offers to comfort him by taking Fred's form, but Wesley refuses because he knows Fred is gone and to accept anything else would be a lie. "And since I don't actually intend to die tonight, I won't accept a lie." When Wes receives a fatal wound, Illyria asks "Do you want me to lie to you now?" Wes agrees, and Illyria morphs into Fred, telling Wesley she loves him and that they'll be together in the afterlife.
  • By the series finale of Caprica, Daniel and Amanda Graystone have fully accepted the Zoe avatar as a substitute for their dead daughter (it helps that she possesses almost every memory that the original Zoe did), even providing her with a physical body so she can interact with the real world.
  • Subverted in Dirk Gently, where Professor Jericho has built a voice-responsive Robot Kid named after his daughter, who died in a car crash. However the real Elaine is not really dead but in a coma, Jericho is in denial that she's not going to recover, and far from transfering his affection to the robot, he's planning to sell her to China.
  • The Borgias has Ursula Bonadeo, Cesare's love interest. He meets Ursula while visibly distraught during his sister Lucrezia's wedding, and essentially transfers his obsession with Lucrezia to Ursula. They share the same hair color/clothing styles, and both suffer from abusive husbands. Fans love pointing out how many of Cesare's conversations and even poses with Ursula mimic his interactions with Lucrezia.


  • The song "Silver Bride" by the folk metal band Amorphis is about a widower who creates a woman of gold and silver to serve as this. It was inspired by a passage from The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic that has inspired much of Amorphis' work.
  • In The Protomen's Rock Opera, Mega Man is a goldfish for the fallen Proto Man. In a way, Proto Man could be seen as a variation - the son Dr Light never had, since Wily murdered his girlfriend.
  • The title character of the Voltaire song "The Mechanical Girl" was created by a tinker who had lost his daughter and made her to be a new one.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Seth from The Bible, who was born after the death of Abel.
    • The Bible loves this trope. King David's first child by his affair with Bathsheba died a week after birth. What did David and Bathsheba name kid #2? Solomon, or "Replacement." King Solomon could literally be the Trope Namer.
    • Yet another Biblical example: God/Satan punish Job by killing off all seven of his sons and three of his daughters in the beginning of the Book of Job. At the end of the Book of Job, Job bears a replacement seven sons and three daughters, and said daughters are specifically stated to be the most beautiful in the land.
  • In The Kalevala, mythical master smith Ilmarinen is widowed and, in his loneliness, searches for a new wife. No maiden accepts him, fearing to meet the fate of his dead wife. Having forged the sky and the miracle machine Sampo, he decides to make himself a perfect wife from silver and gold. It turns out badly, as the new wife says nothing, feels nothing, and is as cold as a stone. In the end, disappointed Ilmarinen pushed her back into the forge, destroying her.

Tabletop Games

  • In Exalted, the Celestial Exalted get reborn after they die. The Exalted part goes on into a new person, retaining some small bits of its memories and personality traits, while the human part dies. Most new Exalts are treated by their peers that remember their previous lives as being the same person, even though they are not and have personalities of their own. (Swan was Desus, Contentious Sword etc)
  • In the storyline for the Magic: The Gathering set Planeshift, Yawgmoth (the Big Bad) grants Crovax (the Dragon) a Replacement Goldfish for his lost love, Selenia. Later Crovax lures Gerrard (the main protagonist) to the dark side with false promises of a Replacement Goldfish of his own, though Gerrard sees through the ruse in time. It is unclear whether Crovax realizes that his Selenia Mark II is not the genuine article.
  • In 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, there is an Epic Destiny called "Hordemaster". As one of its features, you gain a number of followers that, upon your death, take up your mantle until such a time you can be resurrected. Conveniently, your replacement is mechanically identical to you, but your party might not be so warm to him/her.


  • Heavily implied in Romeo and Juliet:
    • The nurse speaks about how she lost her daughter, who was Juliet's age (she nursed them both), and she treats Juliet as her daughter instead. (Besides that, her husband is also dead. This probably explains why she's still living with the Capulets after all these years—she lost her family, and she adopted a new one.)
    • Tybalt's parents are never shown, and he seems to be very close to his cousin's family, even fiercely self-identifying as a Capulet, although Lady Capulet claims he's "her brother's child" so, technically, he wouldn't take the Capulet name, being related to Lord Capulet only by marriage.[1] The family's grief at his death is so strong that modern adaptations, like West Side Story, often go right ahead and make him Juliet's brother. It's been suggested that Tybalt's parents are dead, and that he considers his aunt and uncle to be his parents. Lord and Lady Capulet are said to have lost many children besides Juliet, including (probably) sons, which might make this a two-way Replacement Goldfish.
      • Lady Capulet is herself only 26. She might be a Replacement Goldfish for her much-older husband's first wife.
  • Two examples in the Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies:
    • The Phantom uses Meg Giry as a poor-man's Christine after he leaves Paris for New York (the lampshading of which causes an enraged Meg to kill the real Christine.)
    • The Phantom builds a full fledged Christine robot. Yes, really.
  • Inadvertently done in Miss Saigon: The role of Ellen, the woman Chris marries after returning from Vietnam, was usually played by a blonde or redhead. However towards the end of the show's Broadway run, an Asian actress was cast in the part. Suddenly, instead of moving on with his life as he insisted that he had, it now seemed fairly obvious that Chris only married Ellen because she reminded him of his lost love Kim.

Video Games

  • In the anime and videogame of Xenosaga, the character of MOMO was an Artificial Human reconstruction of her creator's daughter, Sakura.
    • He went a little further than that with Momo being the 100th Replacement Goldfish he created in a full scale production line of androids with her face. His wife, on the other hand, was none too pleased with seeing a hundred copies of her dead daughter running about the galaxy and mentioned as much.
    • Something of an unusual example, as MOMO and the others were originally only meant to replace part of Sakura, as she suffered from a disease similar to Locked In Syndrome and MOMO was meant to become a new body for her. It was only after the poor kid bit it that Mizrahi decided to go the whole hog and use MOMO as a full Replacement Goldfish.
      • This becomes a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in the third game when Mizrahi tells MOMO that he had long since accepted that he would never get his daughter back, and had truly grown to love his 'second daughter' as a completely separate being.
        • Scores more heartwarming when Juli herself accepts this fact too.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, the Big Bad tried to clone his long-lost love. It ended badly.
  • Subversion: In Sam and Max: Season 1, Sam and Max actually get a replacement goldfish, and they worry he'll find out.
    • In Season Two, the Goldfish dies, and returns from Hell to kill them. They replace him in their office with a stone replica naming it as the prophesied leader of the sea chimpanzees.
    • At the end of Season Three, Max is killed, but Sam meets another Max from an Alternate Universe who had similar adventures, but Sam died in that universe instead. They're each other's replacement goldfish.
  • In the Rockman.EXE/Mega Man Battle Network series, Rockman/Mega Man was made by Netto/Lan's father FROM his dead son Saito/Hub. In later games, this is spoken of casually. This is also the reason Netto/Lan can use his Eleventh-Hour Superpower.
    • The sequel series, Ryuusei no Rockman/Mega Man Star Force, the robot Empty/Hollow is a replacement for the Big Bad Orihime/Vega's dead husband. Ironically, she never pays proper attention to him because he isn't an exact copy, but he ends up developing a soul and falling for her.
  • In the Nintendo DS game Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Lady Dahlia is a robot, like everyone else in St. Mystere except for Flora. She was created by Baron Reinhold to be a replacement for his dead wife. However, her existence as a replacement for the dead wife was so traumatic to his daughter that he had the robot's memory wiped and the Lady Dahlia personality created instead.
  • Silent Hill example: Maria, who was born from James' wish to be with his dead wife Mary.
    • In Silent Hill 3, Heather is, in a way, a Replacement Goldfish for Cheryl. Slightly different in the fact that she is the reincarnation of Cheryl and Alessa (who were originally one person to begin with. At the end of the game, she starts going by Cheryl again.
  • According to the enemy notes and her appearance, in Mother 3, Lil' Miss Marshmallow was built by Porky to replace his human maid, Electra, from the previous game (EarthBound), who he apparently had a crush on and who he could no longer be with due to Time Travel problems.
  • This is the backstory behind the Prismriver Sisters from Touhou Project. A long time ago, a man named Count Prismriver had four daughters, but he tragically died and the sisters were orphaned. Each went their separate ways, but the youngest couldn't bear to part with her sisters, so she created three poltergeists with the appearances and personalities of her sisters.
  • This is also the backstory of Seihou‍'‍s (Touhou‍'‍s "sister" series) main character VIVIT; Erich, the developer of Saboten energy, suffered an accident that left him a cyborg and took his daughter's life. Thus, VIVIT was created by him as a replacement for the original Vivit. And because Erich is a bit of a perv, he dressed his robo-surrogate-daughter in a maid outfit.
  • In Rogue Galaxy, Steve was created as a replacement of sorts for Dr. Pocacchio's son Mark, and apparently has some of Mark's thoughts in his neural network.
  • This becomes glaringly obvious when you play the prequel to Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, when you realise that all of that cool stuff Cloud did? Zack did it first, and Aeris noticed.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic you have the option to help a woman get back her droid. As it turns out, he became a replacement for the woman's dead husband. In a lot of ways. If you find him, he asks you to end his misery. "Wow. She really misses her droid, doesn't she?"
  • Super Paper Mario lets you buy Tiptron in place of Tippi/Timpani after you lose her to Count Bleck/Blumiere. You'll want to do so more likely than not.
  • Mona, the protagonist of A Vampyre Story, is the latest in a protracted line of Replacement Goldfish for the villain, Shrowdy von Keifer. After his mother vanished, he went a little goony (well, moreso than usual - the dialog is peppered with implications that even before the Baroness disappeared, Shrowdy was everything wrong with mama's boys) and started kidnapping young women and keeping them in his castle. It's stated once or twice that Mona's been around the longest of all of them because she bears an uncanny resemblance to the missing Baroness.
  • In the Japan only Famicom game Moon Crystal, Ricky is aided by a mysterious girl named Rosina who claims to be the daughter of Count Crimson. It is later revealed that Rosina is, in fact, an automated corpse; she died long ago and Crimson used the Moon Crystal to bring her back to a half-living state.
  • Inverted in Tales of the Abyss, where Luke is a replica of Asch, created by the Big Bad prior to the prophesied death of the original in order to die in the original's place. While considered little more than a cheap knock-off by his creator, the people who genuinely care never consider him a replacement, because they weren't in on his creation in the first place and considered the two to be distinctly individual people when they learn the truth.
    • The one instance this is actually played straight in the game is with Nebilim, who was intended to 'replace' the person she is a replica of on an emotional level.
      • Actually, Ion is another instance, as the Ion you travel with turns out to be a replica of the original Fon Master Ion, who died two years prior to the game's events. After this Ion is killed as well, he's replaced yet again with another goldfish, Florian.
  • Likely unintentional, but in Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, if you decide to start a new game when your child recently grew up, your spouse might suggest to have a second child before your first leaves on their journey (although, you can't continue your file after they leave anyway, sooo...).
  • Alpha Centauri: "I loved my chosen. How then to face the day when she left me? So I took from her body a single cell, perhaps to love her again."
  • In League of Legends, the scientist Corin builds a clockwork replacement for his daughter, Orianna. Because she had wanted to compete in the league, he also made her a killer robot. She has at least some of the original's memories, but her personality seems a bit limited, and everyone but her questionably sane father finds her unsettling.
  • Overblood: It turns out that Milly is a clone from the villain's wife who died, she still has all the memories in tact so she would still love him. Didn't work.
  • In Super Robot Taisen Original Generation 2, Lemon Browning is revealed to have been an android (or possibly resurrected cyborg) made by the parents of an alternate universe Excellen Browning, who didn't survive the near-death incident of her backstory. However, her parents quickly realized the disrespect they had done to their daughter, and rejected Lemon (which may explain her name). This is apparently what motivated her to create human-like androids of her own, and why she was actually happy when one of them made friends and betrayed her for their sake.
  • Dragon Age 2. Partway through the second act, Hawke will meet a "Quentin", who has been killing women throughout Kirkwall to recreate his diseased wife out of their body parts, using Blood Magic.
  • In Mafia III, Lincoln recalls a rather harrowing story about a Vietnamese mother who carried both a baby and a live pig on a leash as she was about to board a medical ship during a civilian evacuation. The MP told the mother she could only carry one thing onboard, so she tossed the baby into the water, much to the shock of the MP who ordered someone to retrieve the helpless child and berated the woman for (possibly) killing her offspring. The woman scoffs it off, saying she could always have another baby.

Web Comics

  • As we find out, Marena from Keychain of Creation is actually Misho's lover in his past life and he remembers her as such, not as the current-day Marena. This causes a lot of frustration.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Grace's DNA was artificially crafted, but the project was hijacked into a replacement for a scientist's daughter, who died in a car crash. Grace considers the original Grace her mother and calls the scientist her grandfather.
    • Considering the method of reproduction of the Uryuoms, that's actually the relationship she has with them.
  • This Xkcd strip has one character describe doing this in a video game, and then start to evoke a "troubling" extension of the concept to real life.
  • A somewhat strange example in Girl Genius involves the Sturmvoraus family. After Anevka Sturmvoraus is exposed to the Geisterdamen's summoning machine by her father, her brother, Tarvek, builds a life-support chamber connected to a pneumatic clockwork girl, so that she can still communicate with the outside world while being kept alive and protected. The puppet becomes sentient to the degree that when the organic Anevka actually dies, it goes on believing that it is still being controlled by a living master, instead of being self-aware, and fools everyone but Tarvek as well. Eventually, the Anevka personality of the puppet is deactivated after it turns out to have "inherited" a little too much of the family's betrayal gene, and is replaced by the personality of The Other.
  • In Misfile, Ash is Kate's surrogate for her dead sister. Kate explicitly saying she needs to find a sister in her in one strip. Naturally, boy turned girl Ash finds this turn of events rather disconcerting, to say the least.
  • Used very literally in the beginning of Abe Kroenen where Kroenen's initial interest in Abe came because Abe reminded him of his dead goldfish Wolfram.
  • The episode "Caroline's Doppelganger" from A Lesson Is Learned but The Damage Is Irreversible uses this trope heartbreakingly.

Father: Darling, you can't spend every day searching for your real self. You'll waste living the pale reflection of her life!

  • In Sluggy Freelance, this occurs several times to underline the repeated theme "that which redeems, consumes". First, the Riff from the Dimension of Lame accidentally killed Torg and Kiki in an experiment, so, in order to redeem himself, he kidnapped their counterparts from an alternate universe to replace them. Then, when the AU Torg tried to get back home, DOL-Riff tried to get him back, inadvertently kidnapping the Torg from the main Sluggy-verse as his replacement. And he apparently repeated this process at least five times. This led to The Legions of Hell invading and ravaging the world, all because Riff wanted to make things right. And then, when Torg returns home, he finds that his version of Riff went to the same lengths to get a Replacement Goldfish for him, kidnapping a squid-monster version of Torg from Another Dimension and hiring cloners to create a clone of Torg.
  • Done horrifyingly in Dubious Company, when Raque realizes Elly looks like a younger version of her beloved king.

Web Original

  • Epsilon in Red vs. Blue acts as a Replacement Goldfish best friend for Caboose, replacing Church. Of course, he has the original's personality and memories, so it's not too big of a deal for him.
    • And then he is replaced by Washington
    • It's hinted at the end of Reconstruction that Agent Tex was one of these for someone that the Director loved.

Western Animation

  • Danielle in Danny Phantom was created as an imperfect clone of the main character (not only physically younger and female, but with an unstable body). She was a stepping stone on the way to creating a perfected clone and, when she found out, turned into a Tyke Bomb.
  • Odd spin: In Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron had a habit of making replacement Dinobots. An organic one was made after he defected to the good guys and the transmetal Dinobot II after his Heroic Sacrifice. Megatron seemed pleased with these clones (Dinobot II was basically his second in command), except when they followed their template's footsteps a little too closely.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh begins treating Zuko like a son after his own child, Lu Ten, dies in battle. He seems to love Zuko for who he is, however, and doesn't project Lu Ten onto him. Since Zuko is also desperately in need of a father figure, it all works out. Usually.
  • In The Venture Bros, the accident-prone titular brothers have killed themselves numerous times, only to be replaced by identical clones (with their memories implanted) every time, a major plot point at the beginning of the second season. Sociopath Dr. Venture seems to think this is no big deal.
  • When South Park killed Kenny For Real, the boys tried to make Butters dress in Kenny's coat and even called him Kenny until he stopped cooperating.
  • Done by The Simpsons in a Halloween Special; Bart, the original goldfish, wakes from his coma, builds himself a robotic shell, and comes back for revenge. And then there's the time (widower) Flanders offers a bed for the night to an old flame...who wakes up to find Flanders cutting her hair to match Maude's.
  • Futurama has two:
    • In "The Luck of the Fryrish", Philip Fry is upset that his brother Yancy took the name Philip and accomplished all of Philip Fry's goals. However, it turns out that the Philip Fry of history was actually Philip Fry II, Yancy's son. Yancy named his son out of admiration for his brother.
    • In the sixth season episode "Rebirth", Fry builds a robot as a replacement Leela after the real Leela ends up in a coma. Then doubled -- it turns out that Fry was a robot created by the real Leela after the real Fry died. The two robots are promptly paired off.
  • In Animals of Farthing Wood, refusing to accept the fact that his friend Mole died, Badger mistakes his son Mossy for him because he looked just like him, he eventually dies without learning the truth that Mole had long since died and that he'd been talking to his son the whole time.
  • One episode of American Dad [2] which features Roger moving out of the Smith's house, has a plot about Stan finding a replacement Roger in the form of Andy Dick.

Other Media

  • One joke lampshades the use of this trope in science fiction:

"I saw a movie today."
"What was it about?"
"Oh, you know, the same old story. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy builds new girl."

Real Life

  • This has been a major problem with divorced families with teenaged kids still living at home. The mother unconsciously starts treating her son as a replacement husband or the father unconsciously treats his daughter as a replacement wife, sexually and emotionally. The poor kid ends up expected to provide adult advice and adult emotional support to a parent!
  • A documentary about the children of Holocaust survivors (Jews, BBC Four, June 2008) featured a woman who had survived Auschwitz but whose young daughter had been gassed there. Later, she settled in Britain, remarried and had another daughter, who was named after the first one.
    • It was even once fairly common (and might still be...) to name a child after what the parents would've called a stillborn or aborted baby had it lived. Have fun in therapy, kid! Course, it was common when more than half your kids were definitely going to die before they turned five, but hey, at least it's nice to know you'll never have to make up a name for all of them.
    • It was once fairly common to name a baby after its deceased sibling. The artist Vincent van Gogh was named after a brother who'd died one year before his own birth.
      • As was Salvador Dali­.
      • Nelson Mandela did this with his daughters.
      • Peter Sellers' birth name was Richard Henry, but his parents nicknamed him Peter, the name of their short-lived first child. Eventually, he adopted that name as his own. This has not passed without ironic comment, given his later claims that he could only be his characters and never himself.
      • Richard D. James.
      • This practice was actually used as a plot point in Beethoven's Last Night.
    • Current Ashkenazi Jewish custom (the superstitious ones anyway) is to avoid naming children after people who died young, or at least not using it as their primary name, out of fear it would bring bad luck and cause the new child to also die young.
    • Totally subverted in Mongolian culture where, if a couple's children kept on dying young, they would name the newborn something like 'Vicious Dog', 'Not This One', 'No Name', 'Not a Human Being', or give a female name to a boy. This was to make the evil spirits leave them alone, or to confuse the spirits.
      • Back when infant mortality was high, if a man wanted a "junior," he had to name the first born boy "Myself, jr.", and if that boy died, then the next boy born after the first junior's death would get named "Myself, jr." as well.
    • Times were different. Not only were infant and child mortality higher, people didn't put a high premium on having a special name. 80% of the population might have one of maybe 20 names. After a family had a "junior", the next boy was John, then James, then Edward, then William. If you met someone with a wild, wacky name like Hugh, or Andrew, then you knew he probably had a lot of older brothers who had lived past childhood. It was just a different time. If you are talking as far back as the middle ages, then giving a child a "stand-out" name just wasn't something that would ever have occurred to people, any more than using a telephone. However, giving a child a name that had belonged to a large number of saints, therefore giving the child many patrons, was very good. Some families named every girl "Mary", with a different second name. If you are talking about later centuries, people were interested in maintaining dignity and, in a few centuries, modesty. By the Victorian Era, they liked a name that people could hear and spell. That's why Queen Victoria didn't name any children "4real," or "Urhinyss."
    • In Maus, Art Spiegelman touches on this point, describing some warped sibling rivalry he had with his brother Richieu, who died in the Holocaust before he was born.
      • Specifically because his parents kept a large photograph of Richieu and then, of course, Art's own father calls him Richieu at the end of the book.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's habit of launching the careers of young musical actresses, his ex-wife Sarah Brightman among them, looks a lot weirder when you realize how much his newest[when?] find, Niamh Perry, resembles [dead link] Brightman.
  • Long-running children's magazine show Blue Peter added a pet dog to the team, which died before the producers had worked out their contingency plan, but after having appeared on screen. They had no plan, and the kiddies would have been confused if it disappeared so soon after arriving, so they did the logical thing and sought out a replacement. When that eventually died, the producers felt that the pet had become familiar and they could deal with it properly.
  • There are rumours[please verify] that suggest that this has happened to Paul McCartney.
  • This.[context?]
  • Some non-pet owners, in an attempt to be nice, commit a massive faux pas when trying to cheer up a friend who has just lost a beloved pet. How? By getting a new one for them that they believe is identical. Trouble is, most pet owner want that one specific pet back, not one that looks like it. Better let them grieve and let them get a new pet on their own.
  • George Foreman named all five sons George Foreman Jr, and a daughter Georgette. The other four daughters are not-name-related.
  1. There's a very small reference in Lord Capulet's list of party guests to "Signor Valentio and his nephew Tybalt", so there's a chance Tybalt's last name is actually Valentio.
  2. You Debt Your Life