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[[caption-width-right:350:No, ''Chik'N Bash'' is ''not'' an ''VideoGame/AngryBirds'' ripoff.\\
Pink pigs. Chickens. See? ''Totally'' original.]]
->''"File off the serial numbers, change the body lines a bit. give it a new paint job, switch it over the state line, and it's yours!- that's the secret of literary success. Editors always claim to be looking for new stories but they don't buy them; they buy 'mixture as before.' Because the cash customers want to be entertained, not amazed, not instructed, not frightened."''
-->--'''Richard Campbell''' in Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/TheCatWhoWalksThroughWalls''
When a FollowTheLeader seems to be almost ''exactly'' like the leader, but with cosmetic identifiers (the "serial numbers") changed. The blatant copying of characters and plot is on a level that would make even makers of TheMockbuster blush. (Although that [[SincerestFormOfFlattery needn't mean the quality is bad....]])
Sometimes this can be by the very creators of the source work, perhaps as a form of applying CaptainErsatz to an entire series (see AlternateCompanyEquivalent).
So named because some stolen goods (particularly firearms) would have their identifying serial numbers filed off to make them untraceable.
Fanfic writers will sometimes convert their fanfics into original properties as an AscendedFanfic. In the event that the original fanfic is available, you can actually directly see which character was filed off into which character by comparing the orginal fanfic with the new work.
Compare MissionPackSequel (when a follow-up is almost just like the first game), BetterByADifferentName, SpiritualLicensee, SpiritualSuccessor, TheyCopiedItSoItSucks, RecycledScript, DivorcedInstallment.
Contrast DolledUpInstallment, InNameOnly (both are when a work seems to have the serial numbers of another work scribbled on), ShoddyKnockoffProduct (a ripoff that seeks to look like a work, but is a very poor copy) LawyerFriendlyCameo (when shown as part of a work of fiction).
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