It is common that some work is heavily "inspired" by a previous work—they may have different authors and settings, but there are strong similarities of plot, situations and characters. It is also common that the second work is much inferior to the original, because the original is great or the derivative is awful or both. The Better By A Different name snark expresses this idea. The usual phrasing is "[This work] was better when it was called [other, earlier work]."
For Better By A Different Name to be effective, the original work needs to be well-known and admired. The trope is also rare when a work is a blatant Follow the Leader
of another. For one thing, the joke is kind of ruined if the predecessor is obvious. For another, not all clone-work is execrable. Causality is also a confounding variable for Better By A Different Name. It may be that both the original and the supposedly "derivative" work were actually
inspired by some even earlier
Often overlaps with If I Wanted X, I Would Y
A Sub Trope
of They Copied It, So It Sucks
, in that this trope is a common way to express that belief.
Compare Take That
, Recycled In SPACE
(which often is a cause of this), Serial Numbers Filed Off
(another cause of this unless it's by the same creator), Spiritual Licensee
In Universe Examples Only (sorted by source of the comment instead of the subject):
- This was one of David Spade's trademark bits on Saturday Night Live. In his last season it got turned around on him, when host Teri Hatcher told him she liked his then-current movie Black Sheep better when it was called Tommy Boy.
Saw the movie Star Wars
this weekend. It's about people flying through space being chased by Darth Vader and storm troopers. I really liked this movie the first time I saw it when it was called "Star Wars
"! ... Oh, wait.
- Mitch Benn liked Russia's 2008 entry for the Eurovision Song Contest better when it was by Cat Stevens and called Wild World.
- Filk artist Voltaire's song "U.S.S. Make Shit Up":
I was stranded on the Voyager
And pounding on the door
When suddenly it dawned on me—
I'd seen this show before!
Perhaps I'm in a warp bubble
And slightly out of phase
Coz it was way back in the sixties
When they called it Lost in Space
- A magazine gave a breakdown of the Summer Blockbusters of 1997. They discuss how Hercules did only moderately well compared to other recent works of the Disney Animated Canon, and they surmised people thought it was done better when it was called Aladdin.
- Roger Ebert: "All bad movies have good twins, and the good version of Goodbye, Lover is The Hot Spot... a thriller that was equally lurid but less hyperkinetic."
- A diversion in an online SFX article, giving the cases for and against Armageddon.
Case for the defence:
The science in Armageddon
is no more wacky than it is in something like Fantastic Voyage
and – let’s face it – considerably more sensible than the science presented in Source Code
. Case for the prosecution:
Hey, I liked Source Code
! Case for the defence:
I liked it better 20 years ago when it was called Quantum Leap
. Case for the prosecution:
- Used in this video of Dragon Ball Abridged.
- In this review, Love Hina is said to have been better when it was called Maison Ikkoku.
- A Zero Punctuation review for Painkiller says that it's often called the Unofficial Doom 3 "since the actual Doom 3 tripped over something in the dark, banged its head, and forgot it wasn't System Shock".
- He also noted that BioShock was "not like System Shock, it is System Shock''", though he didn't make a quality judgement either way.
- He does it again in his review for Dante's Inferno:
"So all in all you could swap out the disc for God of War 2 while the player pops out for a piss and there's a good chance they won't notice. That is, until they realize that the game has suddenly become good."
- Rotten Tomatoes' consensus on Duplex: "It was funnier when it was called Throw Momma from the Train."
- The Nostalgia Chick notes that Spice World is a movie with at half the ambition of A Hard Day's Night, a quarter of the budget and at least two percent of the talent.
- Although she dislikes The Little Mermaid, she finds the sequel so bad, including lazily redoing the first film, that she says the sequel was better as the first film.
- Inverted in her review of The Craft. She called Mean Girls an unofficial remake of that film, only Played for Laughs, without the witchcraft, and a much better film for it.
- Moviebob, a week after reviewing Jennifer's Body (in the appendix to his review of Surrogates), compared said film to Ginger Snaps, which he called the good version of that movie.
- In Kaiba's Real Father - Conclusion on Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Series
Was that a Dragon Ball Z
cameo? Geez, knowing my luck, my father's going to turn out to be Ghost Nappa. That's pretty much how these things usually go. Mokuba:
Aaaahh, but you gotta admit, Seto, Nappa sure is funny! Kaiba:
Yeah, I liked him better when he was called "Tristan".
- A couple times in Cracked:
- The Jabootu review of Sphere draws the broad strokes of the film's Cliché Storm:
I was in fact entertained by the first part of Sphere
the first time I saw it (when it was called either The Abyss
), and I was quite highly
entertained by the second half the first time I saw that (when it was called Forbidden Planet
and starred Walter Pigeon). I have to take it as a given that I would have enjoyed the last five minutes of Sphere
along with everyone else who saw it the first time, when it was called Prince Of Tides
, but I missed that one.
: " I won't be doing a proper review of Vampires Suck - I did that already when it was called Epic Movie and nothing has changed.