Created By: DragonmouthMay 4, 2012

Perfectly Identical Twins

Twins that stay completely indistinguishable for their entire lives.

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Trope
In fiction, identical twins will usually be shown looking exactly alike for their entire lives. This is usually necessary because the plot will make use of the fact that others cannot tell the two siblings apart. Any show or film in which two twins are played by the same actor will fulfill this trope, especially if the actor is an older person.

In Real Life, twins start off life looking identical. However, as they grow older, their appearances tend to diverge due to differences in health, living environment, and lifestyles. For example, if one twin eats healthy and the other does not, they will end up looking different. Genetics is not the only thing that determines one's appearance.

Examples

  • Pretty much every show that uses an Evil Twin twist.
  • Heroes: Two adult clones, Niki and Tracy, look exactly alike. Both are played by the same actress.
  • Ringer: One twin sister is able to take over the other's identity.
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • May 4, 2012
    robinjohnson
  • May 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I don't remember how old they got but one of the Artemis Fowl books has twin fairies (pixies i think), its also worth noting compared to fairies We Are As Mayflies
  • May 4, 2012
    StevenT
    Actors Dan and Don Stanton, to the point where in Terminator II: Judgement Day they played a security guard and his T-1000 duplicate.
  • May 4, 2012
    Earnest
  • May 4, 2012
    fulltimeD
    By definition, this trope cannot include clones, right, only natural twins? Theoretically clones in real life would be subject to the same epigenetic developmental processes (just like identical twins in real life, who usually look superficially similar but with differences in facial structure, bone density, etc. due to epigenetic development processes), but that's not the way clones are usually portrayed in fiction except maybe in diamond-hard sci-fi.
  • May 4, 2012
    arromdee
    I believe the Heroes characters are ordinary twins, not clones.
  • May 4, 2012
    katiek
    In Real Life, there is a pair of elderly twins in San Francisco, Marian and Vivian Brown. They are this. By design.
  • May 4, 2012
    Duncan
  • May 4, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    The Heroes characters are actually triplets, but only two of them appear onscreen.
  • May 7, 2012
    fulltimeD
    @katiek: how can any real person or people "be like that 'by design'"? Humans are not designed, and this trope, although real life might come close on occasion, is by definition scientifically impossible in real life. Now if the Browns have an act or routine that depends on the audience's inability to tell them apart, that would be a fictional (probably theatrical or "other") example of this trope. People, however, are NOT "designed." And this trope cannot, by definition, occur in real life.
  • May 8, 2012
    randomsurfer
    I think the "by design" in the context katiek was using it is more like, not only do they look alike but they make a point of dressing and acting alike.

  • May 8, 2012
    Edokage
    • Harry Potter: Fred and George Weasly (at least in the first books).
  • May 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^Well that was hardly clear. "Twins who conscientiously invoke this trope" would be much more accurate.
  • May 8, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Consciously, not conscientiously.
  • May 8, 2012
    MarqFJA
    @fulltimeD: Actually, I'd think clones do fall under this trope's purview.
  • May 8, 2012
    nielas
    • In the Iron Druid Chronicles book Tricked the Navajo belief system has two versions of Coyote. When Atticus first sees the two together they do not look alike. However, when he uses his magical Sight he realizes that their true magical essences are identical to each other. They make their human forms look different to trick people.
  • May 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^ if that's the case then the article must explain that both clones and twins in Real Life are usually portrayed innaccurately as opposed to how both clones and twins develop in Real Life. Epigenetics is still a very poorly understood phenomenon.
  • May 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    My point was not about real life science though so much as what rules clones and twins are each "expected" (as per the criteria of the trope) to follow in fiction (that expectation being the trope itself, subvert the expectation and you subvert the trope...)

    I would also think that this trope is sooooo common that we should stick to listing aversions, subversions, etc
  • May 8, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    I think you should add the following line to this description.

    "The study of how such lifestyle changes affect twins (and people in general) is called epigenetics."
  • May 8, 2012
    katiek
    @ randomsurfer yes that is what I meant. They shop together purposefully, etc..
  • May 9, 2012
    LordMelchior
  • May 10, 2012
    IanWhoWas
  • May 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^ Zero Context Example: please explain.
  • February 12, 2014
    XFllo
    Isn't this idea covered by Always Identical Twins?
  • February 12, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ that gives you a lesson of bumping more tropeworthy ykttws...
  • February 12, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ lol
  • February 13, 2014
    XFllo
    @DAN: I actually want to discard those drafts that are already covered by existing pages to make the YKTTW less cluttered. But I don't want to make unilateral decisions.

    Also, may I remind you of one wiki rule which is don's act like a dick?
  • February 13, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    well, you have one MTD vote from me. this is The Same But More Specific of Always identical twins.
  • February 13, 2014
    robinjohnson
    Always Identical Twins is about the fact that twins in fiction are (almost) always identical, as opposed to fraternal, twins.

    This ykttw is about the fact that identical twins in fiction are (almost) always perfectly identical to look at, unlike identical twins in real life, who often don't look all that much like each other by the time they're adults. The fictional version has more potential for zany schemes and wacky hijinks, of course.
  • February 13, 2014
    Snicka
  • February 13, 2014
    Sackett
    Should this just be added to Always Identical Twins description?

    And I'm not so sure that this is so rare in real life. Twins are likely to have the same diet growing up, so it isn't until later in life that they begin to noticeably diverge.

    My mother is an identical twin and she and my aunt used to play the switch identities stuff up until college. They were still confusingly close in appearance in their late thirties (enough that the youngest children would get confused when my aunt came to visit), and it wasn't until they moved well into their forties that there developed noticeable differences.
  • February 13, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    robinjohnson

    that's more Rule Of Perception + Coconut Effect & Reality Is Unrealistic or Lazy Artist. the former because "slightly different twins equals not identical 'by definition", the latter because it's hard to draw subtle differences to look different in every angle. there's also Law Of Conservation Of Detail.

    seriously though, just look at the added examples. are they even different in purpose from Always Identical Twins (i.e. is this pointed out In Universe)?
  • February 13, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ I'd say yes to just tweaking the description of Always Identical Twins a bit. This is pretty much an Omnipresent Trope anyway, so listing examples doesn't really amount to much.
  • February 13, 2014
    DAN004
    @ X Fllo: some ykttws stay down for a reason.

    But still, apologies.
  • February 13, 2014
    XFllo
    I think that ykttw drafts that lead nowhere should be discarded because there are some useful stuff down there but nobody notices because there are about 160 pages of them. I apologize as well — I took it too personally.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable