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->''"I am afraid to say that the history of entertainment is also the history of imitation."''
-->-- '''[[http://www.gonintendo.com/viewstory.php?id=131909 Satoru Iwata]]''', CEO of Creator/{{Nintendo}}
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Whenever a work achieves enough success, there will be imitators. It doesn't matter if it's a cheap foreign knockoff or a major Hollywood production. It doesn't matter whether the writers are choosing to do this or [[ExecutiveMeddling the producers]] are. If they think they can make money by basing their creation on a successful work, or at least something else in its genre, they will do so. Thanks to SturgeonsLaw, this has the typical effect of flooding the market with a lot of inferior works. [[TropesAreNotBad But not always]]; sometimes they improve on the original, or find new approaches to it.

Of course, the trailblazing work [[OlderThanTheyThink may itself not be original]]; in this day and age, little is. But it just manages to capture the public's interest (and their money), and it is this magical moment that studios strive to duplicate, ''after'' the fact. It isn't unusual for the press releases or documents for these imitations to mention the comparison.

May result in the resurrection of a previously successful franchise in the same genre; ''Film/{{X-Men}}'' and ''Film/{{Spider-Man}}'', for instance, led to ''Film/BatmanBegins'' and ''[[Film/{{Superman}} Superman Returns]]''. These may or may not become LostInImitation.

If the imitators have enough of the spark to become successful and spawn imitators of their own, a [[FromClonesToGenre whole new genre may be created]].

Note that this phenomenon is not limited to recorded visual entertainment. The music industry in particular is just as prone to "trend-hopping," as are video games and, really, any entertainment medium. Also note that while the text of this article deals primarily with [[CreatorProvincialism American institutions]], the concepts herein apply equally in all parts of the world.

It's also interesting to note that FollowTheLeader may result in its own particular form of {{Narm}}. Just try dressing your characters up in black leather longcoats and using BulletTime in your action sequences nowadays without becoming ''[[Film/TheMatrix Matrix]]'' knockoff SnarkBait.

Another potential problem is MisaimedFandom. Instead of looking at the core reasons why the original may have been so popular and basing their follow-up on that, such as interesting, three-dimensional characters, a unique, interesting plot and genuinely witty or moving writing and acting, the creators following the leader only tend to focus on the superficial stuff on the surface -- it's got pirates in it; pirates must be popular, so let's make a pirate movie! -- and thus completely miss the point of what made the original great in the first place.

This approach also tends to lead to market saturation and, eventually FanDisillusionment; after all, no matter how much you like pirate movies, if the only thing anyone seems to be making is pirate movies that are all more or less the same, then eventually you're going to get sick of pirates and want to see stories about something else. This is also the reason why [[CyclicTrope Cyclic Tropes]] are cyclic: someone does it one way, everyone imitates it; after a while, someone wants to do it differently, and everyone imitates that. Of course, once ''that's'' mainstream, someone will want to do it differently, and back it goes the other way...

So why bother following the leader at all? Well, since the original being copied probably had something that made it successful, it's rare for the duplicates to fail completely. And once in a while, they can pay off ''big time''. Some works actually manage to replicate much of the success of the leader, often by original elements that give the followers their own quality or, even more rarely, by highly derivative works that manage to maintain or even exceed the quality of the leader. The latter usually happens with video games, especially if the leader is not on that system and the follower is a successful answer to it. Anyway, what's the point in innovations if nothing else is going to take advantage of or even build on it?

TruthInTelevision pretty everywhere outside of media, as well. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age Someone had to discover smelting bronze for an entire period of history to massively use it]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Age someone else had to discover smelting iron for the Iron Age]], and some particular UrExample [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Age had to realize rocks were better than bare hands as tools]]. Needless to say, it just went on from there.

A SuperTrope to:
[[index]]
* CaptainErsatz (applied to character instead of works)
* DerivativeDifferentiation (when the derivative works/products start becoming less derivative)
* FandomSpecificPlot (for fanfic)
* FountainOfExpies (a character is copied in a huge number of following works)
* FromClonesToGenre (the followers stop being imitators and start making a whole new genre)
* TheMockbuster (following a hit film and trying to trick people into thinking it's that film)
* TheMoralSubstitute (for when a work is aiming to be the family-friendly/religious/specific-demographic-pleasing alternative to the original work)
* OverusedCopycatCharacter (character is followed so much it becomes a joke)
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny (something is copied so much that the original work isn't interesting anymore)
* SerialNumbersFiledOff (when almost all the elements of a work are imitated, save for anything that could [[YouWannaGetSued get someone sued]])
** AscendedFanFic (when the creators admit to doing this)
* ShoddyKnockoffProduct (following a hit product and trying to trick people into thinking it's that hit product)
* SincerestFormOfFlattery (the followers flat out admit to following)
* SpiritualLicensee (a work looks like an unofficial adaptation of a work in a different medium)
* TheyCopiedItSoItSucks (hating on something solely for following, regardless of the other merits of the follower)
* WhoWantsToBeWhoWantsToBeAMillionaire (game shows that attempt to copy the success and look of ''[[WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire Millionaire]]'')
[[/index]]

Compare DuelingMovies, DuelingShows, DuelingGames.
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!!Examples:

[[index]]
* FollowTheLeader/AnimeAndManga
* FollowTheLeader/ComicBooks
* FollowTheLeader/{{Fanfic}}
* FollowTheLeader/{{Film}}
* FollowTheLeader/{{Literature}}
* FollowTheLeader/LiveActionTV
* FollowTheLeader/{{Music}}
* FollowTheLeader/NewspaperComics
* FollowTheLeader/{{Pinball}}
* FollowTheLeader/ProfessionalWrestling
* FollowTheLeader/TabletopGames
* FollowTheLeader/{{Theatre}}
* FollowTheLeader/VideoGames
* FollowTheLeader/{{Webcomics}}
* FollowTheLeader/WebOriginal
* FollowTheLeader/WesternAnimation
* FollowTheLeader/{{Other}}
[[/index]]
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