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Follow The Leader: Literature
  • Older Than Radio: After authors such as Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis popularized Gothic Fiction in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, hundreds of lesser known Gothic novels and condensed re-writes of better known Gothic novels were published in an attempt to cash in. This largely died down by the 1820s, but the large number of forgotten novels published by Minerva press (which also published Radcliffe's classic, The Mysteries of Udolpho) is a testament to the massive popularity of Gothic novels at the turn of the nineteenth century. Indeed, many of these "trade Gothic" works can be bought from Zittaw Press, Udolpho Press, and Valancourt Books.
  • The Da Vinci Code remained on best-seller lists for an obscene number of months, resulting in many copycat quest novels.
    • The Da Vinci Code itself follows the pseudohistory/conspiracy book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982, republished 1996), merging it with Brown's usual 'thriller starring male college professor and companion sexpot in an exotic European locale' formula.
  • The incredible success of Harry Potter has led to a glut of children's fantasy and, while it isn't the first school for wizards, it is certainly the inspiration for many. Harry Potter's success also persuaded authors and publishers to write longer and more complex young-adult literature. This is a very good example that this isn't actually a bad thing — the success of Harry Potter told authors and publishers that yes, young-adult literature can be enjoyed by a Periphery Demographic of adults, and that adolescents do have enough of an attention span to read a Door Stopper novel if it interests them enough.note 
  • Related to the above, Harry Potter was also aided by The Inheritance Cycle in showing publishers that young adults actually do have the attention span to read long books, especially series with multiple installments that are themselves doorstoppers. While it and Harry Potter certainly weren't the first kids series (The Chronicles of Narnia has been a favourite amongst children for years.) it most definitely was not the last.
  • The success of William Gibson spawned the entire Cyberpunk genre, though credit to the first Cyberpunk work is generally given to John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider. Cyberpunk knock-offs usually incorporate Gibson's use of cyberspace, cybernetics, and crime noir. Cyberpunk in turn splintered into Punk Punk.
  • When Stephen King published The Green Mile in serial format, lesser-known horror writer John Saul attempted the same thing with The Blackstone Chronicles. It didn't work as well.
  • Thanks to Anne Rice making vampires fashionable and Anita Blake making supernatural female detectives popular, there's recently been a massive glut of supernatural mysteries with supernatural PI characters, Urban Fantasy stories, and Paranormal Romance novels that shows no signs of stopping.
  • Various effects of Twilight:
    • The series caused a boom in the YA vampire genre. Notable examples include P.C. Cast's The House of Night series, Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, and Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series, each having a wildly different take on the vampire mythos. Not only that, but it caused a surge of YA Paranormal Romance in general, or at least "angsty teenage girl falls in love with the hot new boy at her school who turns out to have a supernatural secret" plots: Hush, Hush (supernatural secret: angels), Fallen series (angels again), The Immortals Series (immortals), The Caster Chronicles (genderflipped and with witches) ...
    • Publisher's of books written before the Twilight series have attempted to make them look like spin-offs and tie-ins, including Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet.
    • That's not to say anything from The Vampire Diaries, a 1991 book series who saw a rebirth with the YA vampire fever, being brought back to readers' knowledge, and spawning a TV series.
    • Popular romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfiction. It was so successful that it spawned its own followers: two novels entitled Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture have gotten a seven-figure deal. And like Fifty Shades, these novels started off as Twilight fanfics. Read about it here.
  • Speaking of Fifty Shades of Grey, it spawned the Eighty Days trilogy; another trilogy of BDSM romance books called Eighty Days Yellow, Eighty Days Blue and Eighty Days Red. As you may have noticed, even the title is designed to sound a bit like "Fifty Shades." It's no coincidence that it's got a number in the beginning and is followed by a color. And then there's the short story collection 12 Shades of Surrender, which is exactly what it sounds like.
  • Every High Fantasy setting (by this wiki's definition) has its roots in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Sometimes they're knock-offs of works that are themselves knock-offs of Lord of the Rings.
  • The Neverending Story owes a good lot of its plotline to the Ibsen play Peer Gynt, especially in the second part of the novel.
  • Jasper Fforde pokes fun at this phenomenon in The Well of Lost Plots: A Thursday Next Novel. While Thursday is exploring the Well of Lost Plots, where books and characters are created from scratch, a Mr. Exposition explains to her that, when one character is written with a particularly forceful or distinctive personality, characters-to-be are affected by that and take on those traits. A side-effect of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, for example, is that hundreds of impressionable characters imitated the creepy and possibly psychotic lesbian housekeeper of the story, which results in, for Jurisfiction, an army of Mrs. Danvers clones. At the end, he offers Thursday, "Can I interest you in a wise old mentor figure?"
  • While Tom Clancy was not the first guy to do the techno-thriller, he spawned a lot of imitators.
  • Somewhat to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's chagrin, Sherlock Holmes arguably opened the floodgates for modern mystery and detective fiction, as detectives like Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, and Inspector Morse all followed in his footsteps in one way or another. Holmes even provided a key inspiration for Batman's status as The DCU's greatest detective.
  • The Mageworlds series are sci-fi novels which feature a mystical power that binds everything in the universe, and can give those who wield it telepathy, telekinesis, psychic predictions, etc. The power has good and evil users (Adepts and Mages, respectively) who use melee weapons in a galaxy full of blasters—and frequently, the Adepts' energy manifests as blue or green, with the Mages' being red. The main characters include a princess/queen, a free-trader/smuggler/space pirate, and a very old, very wise mentor who is also secretly a user of the mystical power. It just might remind people of a very popular film series. It does manage to avoid sucking, though, and there are enough plot differences that it doesn't read like a Serial Numbers Filed Off kind of thing.
  • The UK and Ireland have recently seen a surge of popularity for "misery lit" books based on stories (some true, some not) of childhood abuse/Parental Abandonment etc. They all look exactly the same (a mostly white cover with a photo of a big-eyed child and a heartstring-tugging title in twirly, bright lettering), occupy entire shelves in shops, and seem to be competing with each other to see which can be the most depressing. Possibly launched in America by A child called it by Dave Peltzer, which then brought the craze to Britain and Ireland when it was released there. Many bookshops now consider these a legitimate genre and have a section devoted to them, often called "Tragic Lives".
  • Philippa Gregory's Tudor-era historical romance novels (starting with The Other Boleyn Girl) jumpstarted a new wave of imitators set in or around the reign of Henry VIII (a trend exacerbated by the TV series The Tudors).
  • The Zombie Survival Guide and its companion World War Z have provided a lot of the momentum for the surge in zombie fiction. Works like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have their origin in these.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter spawned a number of works mashing up public domain stories and characters with pulp conventions — see Literary Mash-Ups for a list.
  • After the success of Gossip Girl and the subsequent TV series, many more novels about rich white teenage girls (with a Token Minority or two) in private schools have been made. Some of the imitators include The Clique, the Private series, and Pretty Little Liars.
  • The Kimani Tru series, books about African-American urban teens, now has many imitators.
  • Almost everybody knows of Milton's Paradise Lost. What many people don't know is that Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel published De Lucifer, a play with the same basic plot, roughly four years before Milton even started writing his poem. While it's doubtful that Milton knew enough Dutch to fully understand the play, it's no stretch to say that he was inspired by the premise.
  • R.L. Stine's success with Goosebumps led to dozens of similarly named series being published including Bone Chillers, Deadtime Stories, Shivers, Spinetinglers, Spooksville, and Strange Matter.
    • And Galaxy of Fear is pretty clearly taking inspiration from Goosebumps, though the books follow one set of protagonists for the whole series and have a clear arc. Subject matter is largely the same, the kids are around the same age, there are constant Cliffhangers and Pseudo Crisis chapter endings...
  • At one point in the mid-nineties you couldn't turn around in a British bookshop without tripping over a "comic fantasy" with a Josh Kirby style cover. All they proved was there is only one Sir Terry Pratchett.
  • After the success of Don Pendleton's The Executioner books, a flood of copycat vigilante justice series jumped onto the bandwagon, with names like "The Destroyer" (which lasted the longest), "The Butcher", "The Penetrator", "The Liquidator", etc. Oh yeah, and a little comic book by Marvel called The Punisher.
  • The success of The Hunger Games has created a market for many new Young Adult Dystopia novels with female leads and an emphasis on romance. To name a few: Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Matched by Ally Condie, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Enclave by Ann Aguirre, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, and Divergent by Veronica Roth. Many of these also hold to The Hunger Games's structure: 16-year old Action Girl protagonist, present-tense first-person narration, love interest (though a surprising lack of love triangles), and angst.
    • Many of these novels have covers featuring circular emblems reminiscent of the Mockingjay pin. While writers have no control over what the covers look like, these might be publishers' attempt to get the books popular so it still counts as this trope.
    • The success of The Hunger Games has also benefited Dystopia YA books that were already written before/being written during The Hunger Games, due to being republished in light of the genre's popularity. These include House of the Scorpion, the already-popular Chaos Walking and Unwind.
    • And then, of course, there's The Hunger Games itself, which a few bloggers have ripped on for being an apparent Battle Royale ripoff. However, Battle Royale doesn't have too original a premise either, and there are an equal amount of differences as there are similarities. Either way, the two series have got quite a Fandom Rivalry going on, with a quiet minority liking both. Oddly enough, the debate is almost never "which is better", but rather "is it a ripoff". Battle Royale fans tend to disrespect the series even more for having a love triangle and tend to regard The Hunger Games fans as being no different from the Twilight crowd.
  • Though not as successful as The Hunger Games, Graceling, a well-acclaimed YA fantasy series, has inspired Young Adult authors to hit the fantasy route rather than Dystopia. Some of the most popular ones is Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, part of the Grisha Trilogy, the Seraphina series from Rachel Hartman, and possibly Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes.
  • Cory Doctorow's Little Brother has one: Brain Jack by Brian Falkner, and a few other stories about Deadpan Snarker teen hackers resisting a government technological regime.
  • While the whole fictional-story-written-as-a-journal/diary is nothing new, Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has at least one major imitator: Rachel Renee Russell's Dork Diaries.
    • Other humorous graphic novel/children's novel hybrid series that have followed in Greg Heffley's wake include Middle School (James Patterson), Tales of a Sixth Grade Muppet, Timmy Failure (Stephan Pastis), and two Star Wars-inspired series in Origami Yoda and Jedi Academy.
  • The success of Black Beauty led to the (also successful) novel Beautiful Joe in 1893 (the latter even references the former); both novels helped raise awareness of animal cruelty.
  • George Orwell's revolutionizing book, 1984. One of the most popular books in history to the point of being repeatedly treated as the "Citizen Kane" of Literature. It was inevitable that from then on to even today, there are writers making stories about Dystopian Police State Crapsack Worlds, with the only twist being that their protagonists win in the end. It gets even more stereotypical if it floats towards Issue Drift like Orwell was doing, except it's taken way too seriously. Books like The Hunger Games owe all their premises to this trope.
  • The non-fiction book The World Without Us (2007), whose premise is showing what would happen to the world if all humans suddenly vanished one day, was followed by two 2008 documentaries that were basically The World Without Us with the serial numbers filled off: Life After People and Aftermath: Population Zero (each would later give birth to full TV series, with only Life staying true to the original premise). After that there was a noticeable shift in post-apocalyptic fiction from sterile, gray or brown settings often brought by nuclear warfare to "green" overgrown cities where humans had been decimated by some disease and/or anarchy, but everything else was doing alright: I Am Legend (2007), Revolution (2012), Tokyo Jungle (2012), The Last of Us (2013) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

  • Dime Novel hero Nick Carter was pretty clearly a source for Doc Savage. Reading through the Nick Carter dime novels is like going through a Doc Savage checklist: trained since childhood by father to be a mental and physical superman, travels the world righting wrongs and battling evil, a master of disguise, has a Rogues Gallery full of sinister villains, leads a team colorful assistants, etc. Its Doc Savage, only in the 19th century.
  • The success of A Song of Ice and Fire led to a wave of dark, cynical fantasy series being published and becoming popular, such as The Malazan Book of the Fallen, The First Law, Second Apocalypse and Gentleman Bastard. Though some of these are quite different in terms of subject matter, the success of Martin's books definitely helped get them a foothold in the market (The Malazan Book of the Fallen started publishing in 1999, not long after Martin's series, but was not available in the US until 2003, when A Song of Ice and Fire had become successful).


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