Created By: Allronix on April 15, 2012 Last Edited By: CaptEquinox on October 11, 2012

Creative recycling

An author or franchise uses elements from a less-popular or earlier work or installment in a more popular or newer work and hopes no one notices

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Authors recycle characters, plots, and motifs all the time. We know this. Sometimes the recycling job is extremely obvious, though, especially to those familiar with the author's earlier work. The character or plot is really familiar. An older work, or something filed under Canon Discontinuity or Old Shame has been strip-mined to create a younger, prettier work. It's a case of the author filing off serial numbers and hoping his readers don't notice the resemblance.

  • Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Land of Green Sky was actually introduced in The Changeling, and the two female leads of that book were given a gender change to become Raamo and Neric.
    • Actually you're right, but with the wrong characters. Ivy is Raamo's sister Pomma; Martha is the Erdling Teera.
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Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • April 15, 2012
    Related to Older Than They Think.

    M Night Shyamalan got the famous twist of The Sixth Sense from an episode of Are You Afraid Of The Dark.
  • April 15, 2012
    Live Action Television
  • April 15, 2012
    Terry Pratchett wrote a science fiction story called Strata about space explorers discovering a flat world. He also wrote the Bromeliad trilogy about a race of diminutive humanoids. Both concepts were later used in his Discworld series.

  • April 15, 2012
    not sure if they hoped know one noticed but from what i know about Portal, the creators were also the creators of Narbacular Drop (although they weren't working for valve when they made Narbacular Drop). Narbacular Drop is kind of like portal, i have know idea if there is someone like GLaDOS taunting you throughout the game though. also you can't jump. never played Narbacular Drop
  • April 15, 2012
    How can this be differentiated from recycledinspace
  • April 15, 2012
    related to Re Tool, and may in some cases Bleached Underpants

  • April 15, 2012
    Douglas Adams once wrote a Doctor Who script called "Doctor Who and the Krikketmen." It was never picked up, so he reworked it into the third Hitchhiker's Guide book.
  • April 15, 2012
    ^^^ Recycled In Space is the old premise in a new setting and you're supposed to make the connection. Treasure Planet is Treasure Island in space. Most current examples are misuse.
  • April 15, 2012
    Several of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels were created by combining the plots of short stories that he had written for pulp magazines. It was Chandler's intention that these short stories never be reprinted. Years after his death they were finally reprinted in the collection Killer in the Rain.
  • April 16, 2012
    We did this a lot in Tech Infantry. Mordred was the original GM's character from a previous all-vampire campaign, and he eventually got retconned into the Tech Infantry storyline. Herbert Gergenstein was a recycled character name from an earlier story by one of the players, and several aspects of the technobabble and setting details (what wasn't borrowed from professional works) was often recycled world-building of previous unpublished stories by the various authors and players.

    One of the Tech Infantry authors is currently working on a rather epic Science Fiction story, which is largely developed from material original created for a previous story that never got off the ground...but at his request, neither of those works are getting trope pages here yet, so ignore that. Sigh.

    As for professional writers, J Michael Straczynski recycled bits of dialogue and plot from Babylon Five into Captain Power even before Babylon 5 was picked up as a series.

    Douglas Adams not only borrowed the Krikkitmen from one of his earlier Doctor Who scripts, much of the plot of the first Dirk Gently novel was also lifted wholesale from two other Doctor Who scripts of his, City of Death and Shada.
  • April 16, 2012
    • Kinoko Nasu recycled a lot of plot elements from his obscure early novel Kara No Kyoukai when he wrote his first Visual Novel Tsukihime. However, Tsukihime became a smash hit and eventually KNK was re-published and even turned into a popular animated movie series.
  • April 16, 2012
    Is this Recycled Script?
  • April 16, 2012
    No, Recycled Script involves two entries in the same series, when the characters should've said "hey, didn't this same situation occur before?" This trope involves different works entirely.
  • April 16, 2012
    Very first sentence of Recycled Script:
    When two or more shows share the same pool of writers (or when a freelance scriptwriter is a particular combination of industrious and lazy), it's not unknown for tight deadlines to be handled by the expedient of taking a script already used by one show and "translating" it to another show.