->''"There's always a moment in an action star's career where they start doing movies starring ''more than one'' of themselves. I feel like it happens to everybody. It's like, ''[='=]What do we do, how do we keep this guy fresh? '''MORE''' of him!''[='=]"''
-->-- ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erfUFhvmVFw "Arnold Schwarzeneggar Kill Count,"]]'' discussing ''Film/The6thDay''

In SpeculativeFiction, {{Shape Shifter}}s, [[RobotMe robot duplicates]] and [[CloningBlues clones]] are exciting and can add a layer of [[AmbiguousCloneEnding ambiguity]] and [[TheyLookLikeUsNow suspense]] to a story. It will fill characters and viewers with paranoia and make for great [[TheReveal shocking revelations]]. However, they can also completely derail said story and kill all drama when fans get lost in the forest of EpilepticTrees. The problem stems from the possibility that if clones, shape shifters, time travelers or body-hopping aliens can make and unmake plot points at whim, how can viewers be sure that a given story element is canon?

The reasoning here is similar to how a setting where DeathIsCheap takes away dramatic punch from future character deaths. By allowing for the existence of these duplicates the author basically has a huge ResetButton with giant neon lettering spelling out ''"Wanna bet this dramatic [[TheReveal revelation]], death or plot twist is here to stay?"'' These fears can be confirmed if an author starts {{Ret Con}}ning events or [[ResetButton casually]] [[StatusQuoIsGod undoing]] changes using these tropes.

The ''ur''-trope of the [[UsefulNotes/TheNineties Nineties]], not just a popular gimmick in mainstream films (see ''Film/AlienResurrection'' and ''Film/The6thDay''), but in comic books (''ComicBook/TheDeathOfSuperman''), television (''Series/TheXFiles'') and video games (''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'') as well. Because clones and their usage were so obligatory (and over-saturated) for over a decade, they are regarded as something of a [[DeadHorseTrope cop-out]] by the mainstream public. It's [[TropesAreNotBad not that clones in themselves are bad]], but stories involving them are so formulaic that any suspense grinds to a halt: there's never just ''one'' clone but several, and a story with clones can never fully dispel rumors that the lead survivor is, in fact, a clone.

A few things that may cause this reaction:
* DeathIsCheap via {{Expendable Clone}}s.
* Overuse of the FirstLawOfResurrection inevitably makes any death suspect.
* Poor use of the CloningGambit.
* Revelation that what you killed was ActuallyADoombot

A few ways to avoid this reaction:
* AmbiguousCloneEnding -- Here the [[TheyPlottedAPerfectlyGoodWaste intention]] is to [[SchrodingersButterfly keep the audience guessing]], rather than a side effect.
* GlamourFailure -- Clones can't blend in due to give-away features.
* ImposterForgotOneDetail -- The clone/shape shifter can't copy the personality of the original person.
* ThisWasHisTrueForm -- If the shape shifter reverts to their default form, then reviving a dead character this way is impossible.

Also related to TheMultiverse and the SecondLawOfMetafictionalThermodynamics.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* {{Averted|Trope}} in ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'' / ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''. [[spoiler:The Radio Noise Sisters are told that they are all very expendable and for a long time they are treated as such. After the hero rescues them, each individual clone starts to treat themselves as individuals who have lives worth living.]]
* Played with in ''[[Manga/{{Gunnm}} Battle Angel Alita: Last Order]]'', with all the Desty Nova and Gally/Alita clones. Yukito Kishiro basically runs with the BrainUploading and turns it into as ridiculous a situation as he can manage.
** How ridiculous? [[spoiler: Alita is an android clone. Organic Desty Nova and electronic Desty Nova are opposed by his double-brain-chipped clone.]]
* Used to a very [[MindScrew confusing]] effect in ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle''. Some are aware of being one, others are not, but given all the alternate world versions of characters, cloning, and lineages, it can become very hard to follow.
* ''Manga/BlueDrop'': The Emul Force allows the user to project his/her thoughts, creating living sculptures. It's used as a decoy countless times, and every major character death gets unsurprisingly undone this way.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' provides an example of this, which was clearly an AssPull in response to negative fan reaction. Several chapters after [[spoiler:Kisame's original]] is seemingly killed, he is revealed to be alive, with what actually died having been a clone [[spoiler:created by Zetsu]] - even though this contradicts all previously established facts about clones. Though [[spoiler:Zetsu]] clones ''are'' very different from every other type.
** This happens a lot - in the short term - in ''Naruto'' overall, what with all the different ways to fool someone through [[SupernaturalMartialArts Ninjutsu]]. Somebody gets hit hard. *poof* It was one-of-the-million-different-types-of Clone Jutsu. *poof* Substitution Jutsu.
*** Or for a variant, [[SuperDickery *attacks teammate*]] "What are you doing?" "He's an imposter!" *poof* Transformation Jutsu.
--->'''(Imposter) Iruka:''' How did you know I wasn't Iruka?! *changes back*\\
'''(Imposter) Naruto:''' Because ''[[ConfrontingYourImposter I am]]''. *changes back*
*** The above being one of the ''simpler'' cases. The real Naruto is watching nearby. The person pretending to be Iruka is trying to manipulate Naruto for a MacGuffin.
** It can [[EpilepticTrees easily get to the point of yelling]], "Where the [[AtomicFBomb FUCK]] is the real ninja?!" after three waves of clones, each pretending to be the real thing, are defeated. This is often a plot point, ending in GambitPileup of who's real and who's not, especially when both sides start doing it.
*** It got so bad that the entire first portion of the battle between Sasuke and Itachi was shown to be an illusion battle where physically both fighters were just... standing still and staring at each other. You know you've gone too far in your series where the only way the fight could be taken seriously is when Zetsu appears sticking out of a wall to observe the battle and nothing else, because at that point we needed an unrelated third party to tell the audience "This fight is really happening, one person isn't just fooling the other".
* Near literally done in the ''Manga/ElfenLied'' manga with a squad of four Mariko clones.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* An ''ComicBook/AstroCity'' story has a defense lawyer get a gangster acquitted for murder by invoking this trope, citing incidents involving {{Evil Twin}}s from parallel universes and shapeshifting supervillains.
* From the ''Comicbook/XMen:''
** Professor X apparently dies during a battle against Grotesk. Later it's revealed that the Changeling had been masquerading as Professor X at Xavier's request.
** Phoenix (Jean Grey) apparently kills herself so she can't go Dark Phoenix again. It later turns out to have been the Phoenix Force impersonating the real Jean Grey. (Sometimes. It gets {{retcon}}ned back and forth all the time.)
* Creator/MarvelComics' S.H.I.E.L.D. has something called [=LMDs=]: Life Model Decoys. Whenever ComicBook/NickFury dies don't worry, it was an LMD. Then he got KilledOffForReal; but it eventually turned out that was an LMD too. (The writer of his funeral, aware of this trope, wrote the ''characters'' responding with amused disbelief and then had Wolverine turn up specifically so his SuperSenses could confirm it was the real deal...but however you may try, there's just no stopping the FirstLawOfResurrection.) As of ComicBook/OriginalSin [[spoiler:it's confirmed that ''none'' of the modern Fury examples are the real him. He's actually much older looking than most people think of him as, and didn't appear in modern continuity post-World War II until that event]].
** Doctor Doom has the same deal. Any defeat - or anything else that someone wants to consider FanonDisContinuity - can be handwaved as ActuallyADoombot. There have even been claims that ''the real Dr. Doom has never actually appeared in Marvel Comics''!
** This also came up in Doom [[ComicBook/Marvel2099 2099]] with a second Doom arriving in the future and starting a war with the other, both of them claiming to be the real Doom. When Creator/WarrenEllis took over the book, he wrapped up the story by having one Doom kill the other and deciding, with typical egomania, that he must have been the real Doom, since he won.
*** The ONLY definitely, WordOfGod, defeat of Dr Doom was at the hands of ComicBook/SquirrelGirl. Probably has something to with RuleOfFunny and has become both a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for her and a NeverLiveItDown moment for him.
** A running joke around the time of ''Secret Invasion'' is that when a character in Marvel is out of character, it was a Skrull impersonator.
* Honestly, this has become so much the norm for comics that almost NO death is taken seriously, with fans almost immediately asking "Well, [[DeathIsCheap how long before they come back]]?" whenever someone dies. As early as 20 years ago, a number of characters in-universe in the X-Men titles would joke that "mutant heaven" didn't have pearly gates but revolving doors, and for years it was a common saying among comic fans that "No one stays dead except Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben" (and it's worth noting that two of those three are now alive again themselves...).
** Recent storylines in both major companies (ComicBook/BlackestNight, ComicBook/SecretInvasion, [[ComicBook/XForce Necrosha]]) have done absolutely nothing to dispel this mentality, as dozens of formerly dead characters are now alive again. DC ''claims'' that Blackest Night has closed the door to future resurrections, but very few fans seem to be buying it, especially since the New 52 reboot brought with it a few characters unexplainedly back to life.
* ComicBook/{{Thanos}}, the Jim Starlin-created BigBad in the MarvelUniverse, has clones called Thanosi that Starlin can use to explain away any defeats that Thanos might suffer (which, purely coincidentally, are almost always written by writers other than Starlin). Starlin has even gone so far as to say that not even omnipotent cosmic observer the Watcher can tell the difference between a Thanosi and the real Thanos.
* ComicBook/SecretInvasion: Skrulls did it. To the entire Marvelverse. Lampshaded when Spidey complains that he had clones ''way'' before everyone else was getting replaced by Skrulls.
* Lampshaded in the StarWarsExpandedUniverse with ''ComicBook/DarkEmpire''. Basically every time Luke kills a Palpatine clone, he transfers his soul to another clone. Luke pretends to go over to the dark side and is ultimately ''on'' the dark side.
* Done to Franchise/SpiderMan; so much, it's hard to tell where the original ends and the clones begin.
** The original Clone Saga, printed in the seventies, took place immediately after Gwen's death at the hands of the Goblin. Peter and Gwen's biology professor, Miles Warren, took her death hard and (get this) began to empathize with her murderer, restyling himself as the green-costumed Jackal and terrorizing Spider-Man. He discovered that Spidey was actually Parker and, after making a clone of Gwen to preserve forever, spawned a Spider-man clone to fend off the original. [[KillEmAll Everyone dies or leaves town]], apart from Peter, at the end of the story.
** The nineties ''[[ComicBook/TheCloneSaga Clone Saga]]'' brought back the clone Gwen (alive), the clone Spider-Man (dead, but alive now [[AssPull because we say so]]), and the Jackal (dead, [[CloningGambit but cloned]]). It also added a menagerie of new clones, including two ComicBook/{{Scarlet Spider}}s named Ben and Kaine. This crossover event, spanning across four titles and countless mini-series, accomplished a whole lot of nothing. Most of the clones died, but two (Gwen and Jackal) came back again for ''ComicBook/SpiderIsland''. Kaine is still running around doing nothing of particular note.
--->'''Glenn Greenberg''' (editor/writer): Okay, at this point, the ''Spider-Man'' books were in danger of becoming like [[Film/DuckSoup that old Marx Brothers movie]] where everyone was running around dressed like Groucho.

* Creator/PhilipKDick ''loved'' to play with this sort of idea. Several of his stories feature duplicates that are so real that even they don't know they are duplicates. It's confusing and ParanoiaFuel and his fans wouldn't have it any other way.
* Creator/GregEgan extensively [[ZigZaggingTrope Zig-Zags this trope]] in virtually all of his stories, which frequently feature [[MachineWorship future humanities]] where people variously are, [[EmergencyTransformation a) robots]], or [[BrainUploading b) disembodied software]]. Moreover, because of this, many of his characters experience what amounts to an ambiguous form of {{immortality}} in {{cyberspace}}, and variously either die, kill themselves, or [[TimeAbyss fail to die for huge tracts of time]] without seriously derailing storylines they're part of. Additionally, many stories feature large numbers of copies of the same characters who gradually grow apart into independent people over the course of the storyline, or simply provide multiple redundancy when characters need to do many things at once, or are likely to die in the doing of something plot-related.
* A slight variation on the trope has begun to appear in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' with the Faceless Men, an order of assassins who can perfectly imitate just about anyone. This has lead to a lot of fan speculation; the only Faceless Man we've really been able to track is [[spoiler:Jaqen H'ghar, who seems to have become an alchemist before becoming Pate as of ADWD]]. Theories now abound as to who might be a Faceless Man, with contenders including [[spoiler:Syrio Forel (who may have become Jaqen H'ghar, The Kindly Man, or ''Ser Meryn Trant'' after his alleged death), Varys (explaining his exceptional talent for disguise), the guy who was killed at the Sept of Baelor at the end of the first book (meaning Ned Stark might still be alive...), the Brienne that showed up at the end of ADWD]], and many, many, ''many'' more.
** Some of those possibilities are, however, not feasible (however awesome they'd be). The Faceless Men may use something akin to glamour, but it requires a certain key ingredient: a corpse to steal the face and identity of. Also, they will ''look like the corpse'' of the person, not the person when they were alive: given how some people can radically change upon death, it's not ''quite'' as clone-like as you might think. At best, it's a form of really sophisticated DeadPersonImpersonation or KillAndReplace. Even if, [[spoiler: as in the case of Pate "the pig boy"]], they go for as fresh a corpse as possible of somebody they've been tailing for a while, they'll still not ''quite'' be right to look at, if you knew the person well before they died. (Faceless Men seem to target those who are foreigners, strangers, generally undervalued or who were always on the periphery of the place they're in -- yet, with valid enough reasons for access. In short, people other people don't get that close to, in the main.)
* In [[{{Literature/Dune}} Dune]], the Tleilaxu Ghola tanks produce a variation of clones (cells harvested after death, and the ghola has the memories of the original, including that death). Over the course of the series, Duncan Idaho becomes, all by himself, a can of clones.
** The Tleilaxu Face Dancers fit this somewhat as well, being able to impersonate essentially anyone.

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]

* ''Series/{{Alias}}'' introduced cloning in the form of "Project Helix", a process by which identical {{Doppelganger}}s of people could be produced. The first double was a one-off character, but the [[TitleDrop second double]] was a complete shocker: [[spoiler: it was Sydney's [[BlackBestFriend best friend]] [[TheScrappy Francie]].]] The double was a very unique twist . . . at first. Then, they brought back the double-switch when [[spoiler: someone cloned Arvin Sloane - and the double was, of course, promptly [[FanNickname nicknamed]] "Arvin Cloane"]], again later in season four when it was revealed that [[spoiler: the woman Jack killed in Vienna wasn't Irina Derevko, it was a double of her]] and ''again'' in season five when [[spoiler: Anna Espinosa became a double of ''Sydney'']]. It got to the point where a common saying in regards to the show was "they're not dead even if we've seen a body - it's probably a clone".
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' got hit with this right from the bat. Even though there were only 12 Cylon models, you could never be quite sure which version of the model you were talking to. ''Especially'' the Sixes and Eights:
** Number Six: Caprica Six, Head!Six, Gina Inviere, Natalie Faust, Shelly Godfrey, the Six on the Armistice Station, [=LabCoat=]!Six, the Six who headed "The Farm", the dying Six on the basestar, Lida, Sonja, and Prostitute!Six from "The Plan".
** Number Eight: Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, Sharon "Athena" Agathon, the Eight on Ragnar, [=WhiteCoat=]!Eight that Athena kills, the many naked tai chi Eights, the dying Eight on the basestar, the unplugged!Eight Anders talks to, the dying Eight Saul Tigh forgives, the Eight who resurrects D'Anna, Cynical!Eight from "Face of the Enemy", Sweet!Eight who betrays Gaeta, and the Eight who [[spoiler: connects Anders to the data stream so that he can become Galactica's hybrid]].
* ''Series/{{Misfits}}'' started to suffer from this in the second season, as Curtis has the ability to [[ResetButton rewind time]] if he feels enough guilt towards something that has happened, giving him a chance to SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong. So when the Misfits DiscardAndDraw new powers during the ChristmasEpisode season finale, the show explicitly removes this power from play.
* ''Series/TheXFiles'' had a few, that due to alien involvement usually had [[AlienBlood green blood]]. Most notable character with plenty of clones was Mulder's sister Samantha.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''Tabletopgame/{{Paranoia}}'' offsets its casual lethality somewhat by the fact that characters come in "six-packs": the original and five additional clones held offstage in readiness for the PC's imminent demise. In at least one published adventure, [=GMs=] are encouraged to use this replacement feature as a need for additional replacements (since the [=PCs=] are "Outside" at this point, clone replacements must be supplied by a Ballistic Sub-Orbital Clone Replacement Mechanism). If a party member has been killed and you hear a descending whistle, '''duck'''.

[[folder:Video Games]]

* In ''VideoGame/HitmanCodename47'', the hitman's clone origin is made evident fairly early on. The assigned targets are all men with a strong resemblance to 47, who are still in correspondence with each other, and are shown conferring over 47's body in flashbacks. The last mission packs 47 off to his old laboratory in Romania, where his "fathers" combined their DNA to create a clone of themselves for organ harvesting purposes. The twist at the end is there's a [[TheManBehindTheMan fifth father]], the director of the lab, who has already mass-produced 25 superior "[[MirrorMatch Mr. 48s]]" to spring on you once you arrive in the final basement.
** Later games featured more clones, each of them tangentially related to the 47 model. In ''[[VideoGame/Hitman2SilentAssassin Silent Assassin]]'', a prototype hitman named Mr. 17 is assigned to kill his brother. In ''[[VideoGame/HitmanBloodMoney Blood Money]]'', 47 is assigned to kill two albinos, both of them flawed attempts to recreate the original Ortmeyer blueprint. The clone plot seems to be put to rest as of ''[[VideoGame/HitmanAbsolution Absolution]].''
* ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters '99'' introduced the NEST saga, a secret conspiracy to clone Kyo Kusanagi and raise an unstoppable CloneArmy. Basically, this is an excuse to replace Kyo with his brooding white-haired "brother", K', and introduce a [[PsychoPrototype pile of rejected clone caca]] called K9999. In the following games, Zero -- one of the end-bosses and a mouthpiece for NESTS -- is revealed to be a clone of the original. Again, this was necessitated by the first Zero (and his "fart" attacks) not going over well with fans, and he was replaced with a more stereotypical white-haired version. Despite rocky beginnings, the NEST saga is remembered with morbid affection by fans even as SNK seems content to sweep it under the rug for all time.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' and ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid Sons of Liberty]]'' had far-reaching consequences for the franchise. In an expository cutscene, Snake retcons the ending of ''[[VideoGame/MetalGear2SolidSnake Metal Gear 2]]'' by revealing Big Boss was actually his father; the antagonist of the game, Liquid Snake, clarifies that Big Boss was his genetic template and that he and Liquid are both copies of him. [=MGS2=] introduced a third clone survivor, Solidus Snake, who was considered to be the best of the lot despite suffering from {{rapid aging}}. The government mothballed the project after Liquid Snake attempted a world takeover by planting Big Boss' frozen cells into a "Genome Army" of sorts.


[[folder: Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' notes the wasted potential that the proven existence of shapeshifters has in the ''Franchise/StarWars'' saga in [[http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0240.html the commentary]] of one strip. And again with shapeshifters ''and'' clones in [[http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0411.html an outtake strip]], though ''Star Wars'' itself averts problems with the latter by establishing that ClonesArePeopleToo and only physically identical to the original, not mentally.
** The comic later backs up its comments by actually taking advantage of the existence of shapeshifters: In the strips corresponding to ''A New Hope'', the Harrison Ford character steals the "Han Solo" identity from an NPC he kills (the movie's Greedo). He's allowed to get away with it in front of Jabba - ''for now'' - because the GM establishes that the original Han was a shapeshifter, and Jabba assumes he's talking to the original in a human form.
** Later in "A new Hope", we discover a rebel pilot who was referred to as Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars movies, and played by Collin Higgins. But Higgins was later replaced by Denis Lawson, resulting in Wedge having a different face in the assault on the Death Star. 'Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' plays with it, arguing that Wedge is a Shapeshifter too, which serves the plot for it leads Luke to [[spoiler: suspect that he is the traitor who revealed to the Empire the location of the rebel base during the Battle of Yavin and almost the whole The Empire Strikes Back story arc. He was not.]]
* ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja'' cleverly avoids this problem by having all of the cheap clones of Doc that [[spoiler:Franz Rayner]] commissions be flawed and eventually disintegrate. However, there's one original clone left over, raising the stakes on the LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt cliffhangers that the author frequently employs.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* For AprilFoolsDay, Timothy Zahn wrote [[http://star-wars.suvudu.com/2012/04/post-star-wars-fate-of-the-jedi-news-and-exclusive-epilogue-by-timothy-zahn.html a fake epilogue]] for ''Franchise/{{Star Wars|ExpandedUniverse}}: Literature/FateOfTheJedi'' revealing that Luke was actually Luuke from ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'', who had survived the AmbiguousCloneEnding at the real Luke's expense, and that Thrawn's true plan is to clone everyone across the galaxy, setting up a supposed ongoing series called ''The Clone Wars 2'', in which this trope was the entire gimmick behind it.

[[folder: Web Series]]
* In the French Web Serie ''Le Visiteur du Futur'', the Dr. Henry Castafolte has been duplicated many times by creatures between clones and robots. The only way for them to find out what they really are is to see TheBarCodeTattoo on their arm.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Frequently [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' whenever it is revealed that [[spoiler:Dr. Venture's sons Hank and Dean can be replaced with one of many clones, taken from a bank of clone storage tanks beneath the Venture Compound, whenever the boys die]].
** This also explains why they give the impression of having been dropped on their heads several times as babies-[[spoiler:Dr. Venture has to keep giving the replacements the memories from the previous pair, and whatever method he's using to do it, the effectiveness is kind of sketchy.]]
** Up until the finale of season 3, [[spoiler: when the whole herd of Hank and Dean clones is wiped out.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}''' creator Greg Weissman tells in 'Ask Greg' of how his children thought Elisa was acting bad in the episode "Protection" because it was a clone, given that an earlier episode had introduced a clone of Goliath (she was actually pretending to be a corrupt cop to fool a mob boss).
** At least in the show itself they avoid this by having clones be a PaletteSwap of the originals instead of an exact physical match.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'''s season opener "Rebirth" opened with the entire cast except Prof. Farnsworth being mutilated in a horrible shipwreck. Farnsworth dumps the remains into a vat of [[HollywoodScience "adult stem cells harvested from perfectly normal adults whom he killed for their stem cells"]] and reincarnates his entire team. Later, after most of the episode was centered around CloningBlues via a robot double of Leela, it turns out that [[spoiler:Fry]] wasn't really reborn, but is actually [[RobotMe a robot double himself]].
* WesternAnimation/DangerMouse is paired with a Penfold robot and Penfold with a D.M. robot in "Four Heads Are Better Than Two." The robots are more trouble to their peripheral partners than the real DM and Penfold are to each other.
** Professor Crumhorn plants a robot Penfold with DM in "Penfold Transformed."
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** The show inadvertently did this with the introduction of changelings in the second season finale. Naturally, it caused an ''explosion'' of "X is secretly a changeling" type stories in the fandom.
** The season 3 episode "Too Many Pinkie Pies" was about Pinkie discovering a magical pond that allowed her to create (extremely one-dimensional) clones of herself. This time around, the implications were addressed, as the cast is shown blocking up the pool at the end of the episode so that there won't be any more clones.