Created By: KnownUnknown on September 29, 2011

The Foreign Me

A stranger in foreign culture who is essentially the same person as a member of the cast.

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Trope
In which the characters travel to another country, and find to their surprise (or, at least, the viewer's surprise) a character who looks, acts, and in essence is eerily the exact same as a character back home (if the character themselves is there, they or someone else may comment on it).

Nearly always played for humor, particularly with a character who plays an important role in the show's formula but couldn't come along to whatever country they go to: once they arrive, bam! They run into his doppelganger and the formula continues as normal, though this is far from the only application of this trope.
Examples:
  • Darkwing Duck has an episode where Darkwing and company go to China and meet his old martial arts teacher. While there, Gosalyn meets a kid named Duck Ling, who is essentially the Chinese version of Honker from back home. Naturally, she hangs a lampshade on it.
  • Lois and Clark feature an old friend of Clark's named Chin, a mild-mannered reporter for the Chinatown Gazette, who wears odd oversized glasses (he and Clark "go to the same optometrist") and carries himself as a cheerful but unassumingly nerdy man - the Asian Clark Kent. This is lampshaded several times during the episode, and when a Robin Hood-esque superhero starts terrorizing corrupt Chinatown businessmen, Clark immediately comes to the conclusion that Chin is doing the same thing he is as Superman (though everyone else is incredulous). Turns out he's wrong.
  • Played for laughs in the Back to the Future cartoon, where every culture had a "Biff" counterpart.
  • Inspector Gadget has the Japanese Dr. Claw, Iji Waruda-san. He is exactly the same, right down to Frank Welker's voice and the only part of his body seen being his gauntlet.
    • The same episode had Penny's pen-pal Atsuko, who while not similar to her in appearance is clearly her kindred spirit in terms of personality.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • September 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • The Simpsons (of course): When Homer & Ned go to Canada to pick up some cheap prescription drugs Ned runs into his Canadian Counterpart. They get along famously until Canada!Ned offers US!Ned some marijuana.
      • In another Simpsons Flanders is having a Family Reunion in his backyard with Flanderses from all over the world.
        Ned: Here's Jose Flanders.
        Jose: Buenos Ding dong didlyos, senor.
        Ned: And this is Lord Thistlewick Flanders.
        Thistlewick: Charmed. [Ned nudges him in the back.] Eh, a googily...doogily.
    • South Park: when the boys send some money to kids in Afganistan, we see that the Afgani kids are basically foreign Stan, Kyle, Kenny & Cartman.
  • September 30, 2011
    oztrickster
    The various Dibblers from the Discworld series
  • September 30, 2011
    arromdee
  • October 2, 2011
    KnownUnknown
    ^ Not the same thing - in fact, fairly different in both nature and execution.
  • October 2, 2011
    EnigmaticSpirit
    How so? The only difference I can really see is that this pertains exclusively to when they are in a foreign land, and Similar Squad relates to any instance.
  • December 20, 2011
    GovernorExplosion
    An example from King Of The Hill- Hank's father goes to Japan and find out that his one-night-stand with a woman during WWII led to a son who looks identical to Hank, only Japanese, but (if I remember correctly) childless and single.
  • December 20, 2011
    nman
    • In Seinfeld, Fidel Castro acts the same way as George Steinbrenner. Both are only shown from behind, and both ramble on and on and keep George (Costanza) trapped in the office as they start to tell pointless anecdotes.
  • December 20, 2011
    TonyG
    Doppy from the Jimmy Neutron spin-off Planet Sheen is the alien version of Carl Wheezer from the original show.
  • December 22, 2011
    KnownUnknown
    ^^^^^ Similar Squad is executed in the form of a bizarro universe comparison between the protagonists, usually in the form of making fun of their own idiosyncrasies - this is more when a character far from home is a copy of a character back home, who can thus fill the exact same role. If not that, then it's usually a one-off gag.
  • December 22, 2011
    SeanMurrayI
    Subtrope of Identical Stranger, I'd also want to suggest Foreign Counterpart Character as an alternate title.
  • December 22, 2011
    BlackDragon
    A short arc of Nodwick has the main characters participate (forcibly) in a Foreign Exchange program for adventurers. The Far East Adventure team they encounter is, somewhat predictably, a far-east mirror image of themselves, a fact that they all completely miss, except for, of course, Nodwick, who discuss is in a matter-of-fact way with HIS equally downtrodden counterpart. His conclusion, when they return home is "No matter where you go, there you are."
  • December 23, 2011
    kirikomorisan
    Inverted in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, in which Kaere Kimura, the overseas class girl, has many different personalities corresponding to different countries.
  • December 23, 2011
    kirikomorisan
    Also, in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, when the main characters travel to different worlds, they have a chance of seeing other characters in a different dimension; however, they may have a different personality.
  • December 23, 2011
    AgProv
    Cut-me-Own-Throat-Dibbler's assorted local character types on the Discworld - wherever you go there is always a Dibbler trying to sell you something useless or dangerous.
  • December 24, 2011
    TBeholder
    Foreign Counterpart?

  • January 6, 2012
    TBeholder
    Similar Squad has "runs into another group" part, for one. Not the same. If not this, would be a distinct subtrope.
  • January 6, 2012
    Jordan
    Also from Discworld, I forget the specific books, but there's at least one set of foreign counterparts of cop buddies Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs.
  • January 6, 2012
    c0ry
    To clarify the Dibbler examples, in almost every foreign culture the reader visits, there is a suspiciously similar substitute of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, usually with a similar-sounding last name and a similar nickname, selling "foodstuff" which is so bad it's legendary.
  • January 6, 2012
    SmashingMelons42
    • In an episode of King Of The Hill, Hank meets his half-Japanese half-brother who looks almost exactly like him.
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