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Backup Twin

Deus ex Machina at its finest.

Yeah, he's dead, but don't worry. They've got a spare.

When a beloved character is killed and the writers are serious about it, their only option for the sequel is to bring them back as their hitherto-unseen identical twin sibling.

Genetically identical to Twin Switch and Cloning Gambit, and the logical extreme of Suspiciously Similar Substitute. Not to be confused with Making Use of the Twin. Compare Actually a Doombot, Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest and Opening a Can of Clones. Contrast Angsty Surviving Twin. May be paired with Hidden Backup Prince.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Neil Dylandy a.k.a Lockon Stratos was killed by the end of Gundam 00 but came back for the second season as his twin brother Lyle Dylandy a.k.a Lockon Stratos II. In this case the twin's existence was revealed in a brief scene early in the series, and later on it veers into Deconstructed Trope. The first thing Lyle made sure to his teammates in Celestial Being is he's not his older twin Neil's Replacement Goldfish, even preferring to put on a Jerk Ass Facade than leading Feldt on, since she was in love with his deceased brother. He also prefers to use a different style of gun fighting to contrast Neil's sniping method, although he also uses it frequently. Basically, both twins are Lockon Stratos, but they are at the same time their very own persons with different views on life, love, and revenge.
  • Presea in Magic Knight Rayearth was replaced by her twin sister Sierra thanks to Schrödinger's Cast—Presea only died in the anime adaptation, and the plot of Part II needed her. For extra points, Sierra is forced to pretend that she is Presea thanks to a lie Clef concocted about Emeraude resurrecting her with her last wish.
  • Shirogane (Sven) was killed in the sixth episode of Go Lion (but merely "wounded" in Voltron), but when the audience demanded he be brought back, they did it in Japan by introducing his identical twin brother. (Since he wasn't actually dead in Voltron, they just called him Sven and said he'd finally recovered.)
  • Similarly to the Voltron example, the fighter pilot Saburo Kato in Uchuu Senkan Yamato was killed in the second season and replaced with an identical twin — and Star Blazers averted the whole issue by censoring the death of "Pete Conroy."
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni at the end of Watanagashi-hen, it's clear that Shion and Mion's Twin Switch tactic was used for this purpose. The question is why and how, and you'll be wracking your brain for the answers until Meakashi-hen turns the problem on its head.
    • Just to confuse things, the actual evidence towards a Backup Twin effect, one of the twins surviving long enough to kill Keiichi in the hospital, turned out to be 100% dying hallucination on Keiichi's part, as revealed in the games. In reality, both twins were dead by that point, but not in the order expected.
  • When Buronson and Hara were commissioned to continue Fist of the North Star after they killed off Kenshiro's main rival Raoh, they introduced Raoh's previously-unseen/unmentioned older brother Kaioh as the main antagonist during the Kingdom of Shura story arc. Kaioh looks exactly like Raoh, only with a different armor and helmet, as well as a cross-shaped scar on his face.
  • In series two of Black Butler, Abberline's twin appeared to take on the role his brother had in the first series. Despite the fact that Fred said in the first series he had no siblings. Probably done because when Fred was killed off in the first anime (but not in the manga) they expected to only have one season, only to later get a second.
  • A minor cannon fodder Sekirei, Mitsuha, had a twin that showed up much later in Mitsuki. Only difference is that she uses a wire instead of a whip and looks like anime Mitsuha instead of manga Mitsuha. The latter is likely going to be just as much fodder as her twin, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Goldie and her sister Wendy in Sin City.
  • Minor Spider-Man villain the Ox from the Enforcers got replaced by his never-before-seen twin brother after dying.
  • Inverted with DC's Crimson Fox; the D'Aramis twins, Constance and Vivian, faked the death of Constance. The would take turns, one of them acting as Vivian, running their multi-million dollar perfume company (the character was intended to be sort of a French Batman) while the other would fight crime as the Crimson Fox. It was then played straight when Vivian was actually killed in action, and possibly again when Constance was killed in action, though the new Fox, claiming to be the heiress to the D'Aramis fortune hasn't been identified beyond that.

    Film 
  • A Better Tomorrow: Mark Gor was killed near the end, but thanks to Mark being insanely popular, Chow Yun-Fat returned as Mark's twin brother Ken in A Better Tomorrow 2.
  • The main plot of Bad Company revolves around this - Chris Rock plays (briefly) a CIA agent who's killed early on and then his twin brother recruited by the CIA to pretend to be the original.
  • City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold tried this one with Duke. The Ass Pull was handwaved with them not being on speaking terms.
  • James Spader's character is killed halfway through Jack's Back and Spader shows up in the next scene as the twin brother who goes on to solve the case, catch the bad guy, and (probably) get the girl.
  • Played for laughs in Beerfest. After a German spy murders Phil "Landfill" Krundle, his identical twin brother Gil shows up at his funeral. Phil's surprisingly attractive widow falls in love with him, Gil takes his place on the team, and asks everyone to call him Landfill. Not only that, it turns out that Phil told Gil everything about everyone already, and they went so far to lampshade the fact it was like Phil hadn't died in the first place.
  • Parodied in the sequel to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again, with the character of Peter Fleming, the heretofore unknown twin brother of the late villain Roger Fleming. There's also Jungle Brad, brother of the late Ranger Brad. When it's remarked upon that both twins were named "Brad', Jungle Brad explains that their last names were different.
  • Used in a Japanese martial arts movie. A man is killed off by thugs for being the heir to some rich guy, but unbeknownst to the killers he had a Separated at Birth twin brother. This brother has grown up to be a Bad Ass martial artist and won't go down as easy as his brother did.
  • Jean Claude Van Damme did exactly the same Badass Twin play in one of his action films, Maximum Risk.
  • in The Prestige, Alfred Borden's teleporting performance is possible thanks to his having a twin brother, who went so far as to cut his fingers off to make himself indistinguishable from Alfred. He also allows himself be taken to the gallows in the climax, knowing that Alfred will avenge him. Note that Alfred Borden is the shared name of the twins, who are actually Albert and Frederick Borden.
  • In Avatar the main character Jake Sully, a Marine, goes to Pandora as a replacement for his scientist twin who was killed by a mugger. It specifically mentions that it was lucky he had a twin because the Avatars required genetic matching since they were a hybrid of the human's and alien DNA.
  • Time Chasers (Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode) features a time-travel-created duplicate of the hero, and is the source of the page quote.
  • Preemptive example (as in, the twin is introduced before the character death): Data and B-4 in Star Trek: Nemesis. Data even uploads a complete copy of his memories into B-4.
  • After Ralph Dickson is executed for murder that he didn't commit in Invisible Ghost, his twin brother comes to the Kessler household to investigate the truth behind the matter.

    Literature 
  • Subversion in the Vorkosigan Saga, where Miles's clone-twin Mark refuses to replace him after his death, and purposely gains weight to lessen the resemblance. And Miles comes back to life before the end of the book anyway.
  • In The Power of Five series, there are two versions of the Five: one set lived ten thousand years ago, and one set in the present day. When one of them is killed, their counterpart is sent through time to replace them and defeat the Old Ones.
    • In the original battle against the Old Ones ten thousand years ago, Sapling is killed and replaced with his modern counterpart, Jamie.
    • In Oblivion, Matt and Scott both die in the present and have to be replaced by the old Matt and Flint.
  • AI Minds in The Culture are frequently backed up, especially in the case of warship Minds. Look to Windward has one recount about how he was restored from a backup only for the original to be found adrift in space later. They both then fought together for the remainder of the war until one of them (unknown as to which) was Killed Off for Real.
  • The plot of the Mills and Boon novel Wrong Twin, Right Man

    Live Action TV 
  • Common on daytime Soap Operas.
  • All My Children did so with Cindy/Karen and Frankie/Maggie.
  • General Hospital did it with Ryan/Kevin.
    • Also with Benny/Bernie, and perhaps are currently doing it with Emily/Rebecca.
  • In Friends the Show Within a Show Days Of Our Lives did this with Joey's character Drake Ramoray, who was first killed then nearly resurrected as his twin, Stryker - Joey blows that chance, however. (Joey also pretends to be Ramoray's evil twin Hans, but not in the soap.)
  • Parodied in the Hancock's Half Hour TV episode "The Bowmans." Hancock's radio soap character is killed off because of his bad acting, but it turns out the character was so popular the show's ratings will suffer without him. The producers suggest bringing him back as his twin. Hancock agrees, but only if he gets a pay rise, writes his own scripts, and gets rid of all the actors who criticized his performances by having their characters all fall down a disused mine shaft.
  • Non-twin example: In Scrubs, they killed off Laverne in what they thought was going to be the last season. Since it turned out it wasn't, they introduced Shirley, played by the same actress, but with an opposite personality. Strangely, no one but JD notices they're identical (despite the Theme Naming).
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Denise Crosby, after Tasha Yar was killed, was brought back in two stories as her half-Romulan daughter via Time Travel. Her very similar but non-identical sister was also the focus of an episode, and two different temporal anomalies brought the original Tasha back twice. One gets the impression that no one really wanted to let the character go.
    • It also very nearly happened with Will Riker, as he was set to be killed off in season six and replaced with his Transporter Malfunction-created double, Thomas Riker.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Will Riker was nearly replaced again, where commander William Riker comes and visits Deep Space Nine, steals the Defiant, and reveals he is actually Lt. Thomas Riker the Transporter Malfunction-created double, though neither Riker is more "original" than the other.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In the episode "Deadlock," the characters of Harry Kim and then-newborn Naomi Wildman were replaced with alternate-timeline versions of themselvesnote , and remained so until the end of the series; of course much like Miles O'Brien being replaced by his own future self it's never mentioned again. In both cases the alternates were created only a few minutes or hours before the switch.
    • In a later episode, Harry Kim replaces a version of himself again, but this time it's the wrong reality.
  • Season 1 of Dark Angel had a one-shot character named Ben. The producers were so impressed by his performance, the following season introduced his identical twin, Alec, who became a major character. Rather well justified, since the characters are super soldiers manufactured on the genetic level, and the heroine actually met a younger clone of herself in the first season. Also not a straight example, since the two characters were quite different from each other.
  • Happens a lot with the humanoid Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), most notably Sharon "Boomer" Valerii and Sharon "Athena" Agathon, though Athena was introduced before Boomer's death and it was later shown that Boomer's death had been very brief.
    • Even so, following her "death", Boomer largely disappears from the show and only returns to show how fucked up she's gotten from her whole experience with some Moral Event Horizon breakers. They are different characters with different roles, but only rarely during the series do both characters have equal prominence. Once Boomer downloads away from the fleet, Athena largely steals her importance in the plot.
  • In between Maverick and The Rockford Files, James Garner had a show called Nichols, where he played a turn-of-the-century Western lawman. In the last episode of the first (and only) season, Nichols is murdered and Garner plays his Darker and Edgier (but more traditionally heroic) twin brother who solves the case. Had the series been renewed, the twin would have taken over his role.
  • 'Allo 'Allo!:
    • Parodied when the Germans "shoot" and "kill" the main character, Rene. In order to keep up the ruse, he has to pretend to be his long-lost identical twin brother, also called Rene. He then has to re-marry his "widowed" wife, because his will left everything he owned to her. That led to some hilarious statements, i.e., "I've been his ex ever since he died."
    • Poor LeClerc, who was replaced by a supposed brother following the death of the original actor, which brother developed a case of The Other Darrin when THAT actor also died...
  • In the parody soap opera, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Garth Gimble's wife kills him, and his identical twin brother Barth Gimble moves to Fernwood soon thereafter.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Carson Beckett is brought back as a preexisting but yet-unseen clone with all of Carson's memories up to the point of his creation (despite explicit promises by the writers that it would be the original Carson and not something like this.) It's all good, though; Carson still comes back. Originally, they planned for the original to return, and the one who died to have turned out to be a clone. They eventually realized it wouldn't have been realistic for the villain to have created a convincing enough clone in the short time he had, so they switched it up.
  • Played for laughs in the French-Canadian show Le Coeur A Ses Raisons. When Peter, the rebel cop, dies during an Earthquake, his identical twin, also named Peter, shows up in the third season to fill the exact same role, and engage in a relationship with Peter 1's girlfriend. It is explained that the two Peters never appeared at the same time because they only had one set of clothes; when one was wearing it, the other had to stay home in underwear.
  • In V: The Series, Martin's brother Philip appeared several episodes after Martin was killed off, and more or less filled Martin's role. Given that the Visitors were alien reptiles disguised as humans, there was no actual reason for Philip to be Martin's twin brother, as opposed to just another Visitor wearing the same human mask as Martin. But he was anyway, just because.
  • Laura Palmer is found dead in The Pilot of Twin Peaks, Shortly after her cousin arrives to stay some time and she is played by the same actress as Laura (but with raven hair instead of blond).
  • K-9 Mark III was introduced in the failed Doctor Who spinoff pilot K-9 and Company for earlier Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith. When Sarah Jane returned in the new Doctor Who series, that K-9 died and was replaced by a fourth K-9, who is a recurring character in the newer, successful Sarah Jane series The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • A few years after the one-shot character Jimmy "the Geek" was killed off in an episode of The X-Files, the writers decided they wanted him for the recurring Sixth Ranger character in the spin-off series The Lone Gunmen. Not only had Jimmy been comprehensively killed off, there was also already a main character called Jimmy in the show. Enter Jimmy's identical twin brother Kimmy, who fortuitously shared his brother's genius with computers. Kimmy did have a somewhat different personality, coming across as more outgoing and snarky than his dead twin, although this may just have been a case of Adaptation Expansion. (Although their relationship was never brought up in-universe, Word of God quickly confirmed that Jimmy and Kimmy were indeed twins.)
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the team heads to the secret base Providence, run by Eric Koenig. In the very next episode, Eric is murdered by Ward and the team is forced to abandon the base while chasing the villains. At the very end of the Season 1 finale, they travel to another previously-unseen secret base, only to be greeted by the equally previously-unseen Billy Koenig who welcomes them to the base in a nearly-identical opening speech.

    Table Top Games 
  • The standard excuse for when your character dies and you can't be bothered to roll up a new one, or when a boss is thrashed instantaneously and the unimaginative DM still wants a fight.
  • In Paranoia you get 5 clones of your character. Since it's a world where everyone is out to get you (hence the name), you need them.

    Video Games 
  • In the first Gears of War, Anthony Carmine gets shot, and dies. In the sequel, his brother Ben Carmine (who sounds exactly the same and is almost a clone in personality) shows up, makes himself at home as a Mauve Shirt, and then dies.
  • In Mortal Kombat II, the original Sub-Zero was killed by Scorpion during the first game's tournament and is replaced by his younger brother, who adopted his identity. Noob Saibot, a character also introduced in II, would later be revealed to be the original Sub-Zero.
    • In Mortal Kombat 9, the story plays itself out again; in fact, this is a sign that Raiden's plans to alter the future are failing.
  • In Tales of Legendia we have Fenimore and her twin, Thrya. She does mention Thyra earlier on, but chances are you forgot about it, and thus makes Thyra's appearance later on in the Character Quests a surprise.
  • Subverted in Mass Effect. In the first game, depending on your choices, your squadmate Urdnot Wrex may end up dead. Since he plays an important role in the later two games, if he dies, his role is filled by his brother, Urdnot Wreav. What makes this a subversion is that the two are radically different - Wrex is far more intelligent and calmer than Wreav, which colors how the krogan fare in the second and third games; under Wrex, they can thrive, while under Wreav they go down the self-destructive path that Wrex so feared.
  • Danganronpa: After Junko Enoshima is seemingly killed by several spears through her body, a girl who is suspected to be the 16th student appears to take her place, but is killed shortly thereafter. It turns out the real Enoshima is working behind the scenes as the Mastermind and she pulls a Twin Switch with her twin sister Mukuro Ikusaba (the aforementioned 16th student) who disguises as her and she kills her twin sister and uses her body to fake the murders and frame the other students.
  • In Twisted Metal: Head-On, Miranda Watts, the new driver of Twister, enters the Twisted Metal tournament to search of her twin sister Amanda, who disappeared after the events of the previous tournament. In her ending, Calypso grants her wish when he splitting up the road, in which the now-aged Amanda emerges from the cracks, which freaks Miranda out.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines you meet Chunk, a cheerful Fat Idiot security guard, during a quest to infiltrate a gallery, he then returns later on in the game as a lobby guard in the LaCroix Building. But it is actually possible to kill Chunk in the first encounter, which will result in the lobby guard being his identical twin brother, who is equally as clumsy, dimwitted, and happy-go-lucky as the original Chunk.

    Webcomics 
  • In "Heroes of Lesser Earth", Martin's Elf Rogue Cohort "fleece" has an unlimited number of twin sisters, each named Fleece, and more in love with Martin than the last, who instantly replace the previous one if she's killed... because he wrote that on the back of her character sheet.
  • Used very literally in Story Minute: A woman becomes obsessed with backups after a hard drive crash and marries an identical twin.

     Western Animation 
  • In the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in a rare exception to Status Quo Is God, Baxter Stockman got permanently turned into a fly monster, and stayed that way for the rest of the series. The show did briefly try an Ass Pull, however, by introducing Baxter's still-human twin brother Barney Stockman. Perhaps thankfully, Barney only appeared once.
  • The Simpsons: After Fat Tony dies, his cousin Fit Tony takes his place in Springfield's mafia. Then he gains some weight and becomes known as Fat Fit Tony, or Fat Tony for short. Similar to the "Armin Tanzarian" thing, this was never brought up again.
  • The death of Skyquake on Transformers Prime eventually saw the coming of his twin, Dreadwing. However, the two have different colour schemes, different voices, and slightly different personalities (the latter being somewhat more cunning and shrewd than the other). They retain their unifying trait of Undying Loyalty to Megatron, though, keeping this trope in effect.


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