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Better by a Different Name
"I liked [Bleach] better when it was called YuYu Hakusho, and I liked that show better when it was called Dragon Ball Z!"

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 snarkly 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 common source.

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):

Comics
  • During the period where Incredible Hulk was intelligent, he once refused to wear a cap with a fin on it, since he didn't want people to say "it's just Hulk with a fin on his head" — a criticism previously leveled against Savage Dragon.
  • Scott Kurtz once joked that his favorite stories in Atomic Robo were the issues done by Mike Mignola.
  • In a 1989 issue of MAD Magazine, during the spoof 21 Junkheap, the cast of The Mod Squad makes a cameo pointing out that about 15 years ago, we did "just like these shmendricks are doing".
  • In one Doctor Who Magazine "The Comic Assassins" strip by Steve Noble and Kev F. Sutherland, they watch "The Curse of Fenric" and have the following conversation.
    Steve: Hang on. An old war ... a brigadier ... We're not watching "Battlefield" by mistake, are we?
    Kev: Can't be. In "Battlefield" a stupid blue-faced monster appeared for no apparent reason and...
    Ancient Haemovore (on screen) Hello, I am a stupid blue-faced monster.
    Kev: Oh, lordy...

Literature

Live-Action TV

Music
  • Lots of people liked Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" when it was Madonna's "Express Yourself." The Material Girl herself called it reductive
  • Mitch Benn liked Russia's 2008 entry for the Eurovision Song Contest better when it was by Cat Stevens and called Wild World.
  • 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!
  • "He has a woman's name and wears makeup. How original."

Other
  • 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: Touché.
  • Given Aliens draws a lot from Starship Troopers, James Cameron said that once he knew of Paul Verhoeven's plans he thought: "Why are they making a Starship Troopers film? I already did it!".

Web Original

Webcomics
Accentuate the NegativeCriticism TropesBias Steamroller
Bathroom Stall of Overheard InsultsInsult TropesBig Stupid Doodoo Head
Barely-There SwimwearAdministrivia/In-Universe Examples OnlyBeyond the Impossible

alternative title(s): I Liked It Better When It Was Called X; I Liked It Better When It Was Called
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