Japanese Man 1: Run! It's Godzilla!The character equivalent of a Bland-Name Product. This character's design is a mix of legal issues and homage. Just as someone who wants to incorporate a Walmart into a story but can't manage the Product Placement might use "Box Mart," a person who wants to write Captain Original, but can't because a rival comic company owns the trademark, will create Captain Ersatz. Sometimes, these characters are used as affectionate Shout Outs to a series or creator that may have inspired them. At other times, they are used as parodies or Take Thats against the original characters they're based on (and possibly the company who owns them). Done when an artist or writer wants to use a character but for whatever reason isn't allowed to at the present time, especially due to uncertainty of ownership, or else certainty that that character is trademarked into someone else's continuity and isn't going to be loaned out. This character tends to evolve into their own direction if they make later appearances. Captain Ersatzes are somewhat rare in American parody, as their copyright law allows use of the original characters in parody, which means if they are used in this way, it's usually for a You Wanna Get Sued? gag. They also (usually) aren't found in Fan Fic: that Sailor Earth is a Copy Cat Sue (and they can just outright use a crossover). Sometimes multiple characters will be distilled into one, creating a Composite Character. The same doesn't hold true for Anime & Manga parodies though, which often resort to Captain Ersatzes when the parody character is more than a background cameo. Contrast Writing Around Trademarks, where the similarity was unplanned and unwanted; Expy, where a character is very similar to but not obviously supposed to be another character, and Suspiciously Similar Substitute, who replaces an existing original in the same continuity. May be a result of having someone Exiled from Continuity, though it has to be a formal exile. If this happens enough, it can result in an extremely obvious variation of a Fountain of Expies. The trope name comes from the German word for "replacement". Compare Alternate Company Equivalent, Lawyer-Friendly Cameo, and Brand X. The Shotoclone is a particular application in Video Games. See also Counterpart Comparison and Expy, for characters who are similar to earlier characters, but aren't actually intended to be carbon copies, and the musical version, Suspiciously Similar Song. If the character represents a Real Life celebrity, see No Celebrities Were Harmed. Also compare to Adam Westing when an actor plays an expy of themselves. No relation to Captain Obvious, obviously.
Japanese Man 2: It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws, it's not.
Japanese Man 1: Still, we should run like it is Godzilla!
Japanese Man 2: ...though it isn't. [winks at camera]
Japanese Man 2: It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws, it's not.
Japanese Man 1: Still, we should run like it is Godzilla!
Japanese Man 2: ...though it isn't. [winks at camera]
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- Ronald McDonald: The Washington D.C. version of Bozo The Clown, played by Willard Scott, was so popular public appearances would require police to direct traffic. After the show was cancelled, local franchise owners asked Scott to create a similar character to continue the promotion. Ronald McDonald was born.
- The original incarnation of McDonaldLand was a blatant copy of the cast and setting of Sid & Marty Krofft Productions' children's show H.R. Pufnstuf (1969). The Kroffts (who had turned down an earlier request from McDonald's to license the Pufnstuf characters for advertising) sued and won, forcing McDonald's to not only pay damages, but to dramatically retool McDonaldLand.
- The Bombardier, a Large Ham Napoleonic wars soldier played by Rik Mayall in adverts for Bombardier Real Ale, is what Lord Flashheart would have been if he'd appeared in Blackadder the Third, except he says "Bang on!" rather than "Woof!" Mayall even uses the same voice.
- The need for an off-brand version of Golden Crisp Cereal gives us Golden Puffs. Mascot? "Lil Oatey." a blue Kangaroo. Lampshaded by the words on the package "Betcha can't taste the difference between Golden Crisp." and they're right. You can't.
- The need for an off-brand version of several other cereals you could lie to your children about and convince them that they were the advertised stuff is what likely brought us the "Toons" brand of breakfast cereal.
- Burger King also did this in an advertisement for a breakfast sandwich. Lampshaded when they said something to the effect of "Maybe it's not original."
- Astro Plan, Star Field War Record Astro Plan, or Space Adventures: Similar units to the VF-25 Messiah (Macross Frontier), VF-11 Thunderbolt and YF-21 (Macross Plus), VF-2SS Valkyrie II (Macross II), and GNZ-004 Gaga (Mobile Suit Gundam 00). The main ship is a cross between the Archangel-class assault ship (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED) and Ptolemaios II (Mobile Suit Gundam 00). One character resembles Lockon Stratos; the Type Yi Fighters' special attacks resemble the Trans-Am System (Mobile Suit Gundam 00). The Sky Arrow Flight Team symbol is similar to the U.N. Spacy insignia (Macross).
- Golden Bat/Golden Batman: Inspired by Batman.
- Iron Man 007: Inspired by Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.
- Mazinger X: Inspired by UFO Robo Grendizer and Mazinger Z.
- Phoenix-bot Phoenix King / Defenders of Space: Inspired by Ippatsuman, Mazinger Z, Mobile Suit Gundam, Space Battleship Yamato, and Leiji Matsumoto. Phoenix King is inspired by the Diaclone toy Fire Engine (later known as Inferno from Transformers).
- Robot Taekwon V: Robot Taekwon V is inspired by Mazinger Z.
- Space Black Knight: Characters inspired by Mobile Suit Gundam characters Amuro Ray, Char Aznable, Dozle Zabi and Sayla Mass.
- Space Gundam V: Inspired by the Super Dimension Fortress Macross VF-1J Valkyrie, Brave Raideen, and Invincible Robo Trider G7.
- Space Transformers / Micro-commando Diatron-5: Inspired by Takara's Diaclone toyline, and Armored Trooper VOTOMS, Ginga Hyouryuu Vifam, and Space Runaway Ideon.
- Super Kid: Inspired by Dragon Ball.
- UFO Alien Ride: Inspired by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
- Video Ranger 007: Inspired by Video Warrior Laserion.
- Wonder Princess: Inspired by Wonder Woman.
- During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the King Features Syndicate did several copycats of the Chicago Tribune strips:
- Doonesbury: Uncle Duke was Garry S. Trudeau's tribute/homage to Raoul Duke, Hunter S. Thompson's alias. Thompson for two decades was so upset he refused to read the comic.
- The Adventures of Aaron once ran a strip with "The Ghost of Calvin". A couple footnotes make it clear: "Any similarities between Ghost of Calvin and Calvin and Hobbes is purely coincidental." See it here.
- In For Better or for Worse, it originally seemed as if the artist had intended to pair Liz of with her next door neighbor, Christopher; when he and his family were dropped from the strip, Mrs Johnston altered his serial number and created Anthony Caine.
- In Frazz by Jef Mallett, the title character, Frazz is a grown up expy of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, both in personality and in artistic design; Mallett says that Bill Watterson is a great influence, but that the similarities are unintentional. Nonetheless, it was blatant enough that rumors persisted that Watterson himself was writing a sequel strip under an assumed identity.
- Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars has turian Hando Due and batarian Greedro as stand-ins for Han Solo and Greedo. They're are encountered due to the Courier's Wild Wasteland trait.
- Duncan McSmurf in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf is an obvious Captain Ersatz of Gutsy from The Smurfs film series who does not like to be called Gutsy, particularly from Hefty who just simply doesn't like Duncan. His only noticeable differences are that Duncan has brown hair whereas Gutsy has ginger hair, and that he wears green plaid instead of blue. Also the shoulder strap of his kilt goes over his right shoulder instead of his left.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, in an In-Universe example, the Griffon nation has their own prince in response to Shining Armor, Shining Amour.
- Hail to the King has Zone Fighter. He was already a Captain Ersatz of Ultraman, but in this story it is taken Up to Eleven. Here, he is an energy being that bonds with Shinji Ikari in order to save his life, just like what Ultraman did with Hayata.
Films — Animated
- The action film The Incredibles:
- The family is very nearly the Fantastic Four: Mr. Incredible is the Thing, Elastigirl is Mr. Fantastic, and Violet is the Invisible Woman. Only Dash lacks a direct parallel, though he's certainly Hot-Blooded enough to be a match for the Human Torch. The ending shows Jack-Jack has highly variable superpowers (among these, setting himself on fire like the Human Torch), and Franklin Richards, the child of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman had very ill-defined but vast superpowers. Even their costumes and name (Fantastic/Incredible) are similar. Their villain, Syndrome, is a somewhat more rotund Doctor Doom, a villain whose primary superpowers are simply being so good at super-technology that his super-suit is more powerful than the family combined. Syndrome also has Doctor Doom's 'petty grudge blown WAY out of proportion' motivation for his enmity as well.
- Dash is basically The Flash and even calls himself "The Dash" when he gets his suit.
- Frozone is basically Iceman from the X-Men comics as played by Samuel L. Jackson. They even have the same way of getting from place to place: creating ramps of ice to skate everywhere.
- In a more extreme example, Gazerbeam and The Underminer basically are Cyclops and the Mole Men in all but name. The DVD special features on the minor heroes in the movie even parodies Cyclops' infamously bland personality by having Gazerbeam be an incredibly dull person.
- Some of the other heroes listed on the DVD also fall into this. Meta Man is very obviously Superman, with his Combo Platter Powers, wholesome personality, and outfit, Everseer's leadership position (and formerly having been Gazerbeam's superior) and telepathy resemble Professor X, and Splashdown's powerset is a clear callout to Aquaman.
- It even extends to the comic, which has featured among the expanded rogues gallery a Gorilla Grodd expy and aliens resembling the tentacles.
- And the Humongous Mecha piloted by the Underminer in an effort to frame the Incredibles resembles The Iron Giant with a red paint job.
- The characters in Megamind represent various comic book heroes and villains, most notably from Superman. Metro Man is Superman, Megamind is a mixture of Brainiac and Lex Luthor, Roxanne is Lois Lane, and Hal is an incarnation of Jimmy Olsen.
- In The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland, Dim and Dum are blatant copies of Beastly (from the Care Bears TV series). Dim even has the same voice. In Care Bears Nutcracker Suite, the Rat King shares Beastly's voice and general characterization.
- Rudolph's love interest in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is "Zoey". Word of God is she was meant to be Clarice but they couldn't use the name.
- The Muses of Hercules are Captain Ersatzes of the black chorus girls from Menken's earlier, non-animated musical, Little Shop of Horrors.
- The Five-Man Band of Monsters vs. Aliens are Captain Ersatzes of 1950s B-Movies:
- In Rango, there is a brief appearance by Hunter S. Thompson's own Captain Ersatz from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Being as the main character is played by Johnny Depp in both films, this only makes matters better.
- Riley's imaginary boyfriend in Inside Out is an Ersatz of Justin Bieber, right down to his appearance and the fact that he lives in Canada. This was apparently an artifact of an earlier draft, where there was a scene where Joy and Bing Bong would meet the actual Justin Bieber in a place called Boy Research.
- When Disney was making Zootopia they managed to get Don Vito Corleone in the film. Only it wasn't Corleone, it was an anthropomorphic shrew named Mr. Big.
Films — Live-Action
- When director F. W. Murnau sought to make a movie out of Bram Stoker's book Dracula, but was unable to secure the rights, he made the movie anyway as Nosferatu, changing the names of the characters. (Dracula, for example, became Count Orlok.) In this case, though, the attempt was unsuccessful: Stoker's widow sued for copyright infringement and won, bankrupting the production company... and getting an order that all copies of the film be destroyed. The movie survived through piracy.
- A few in Sky High (2005), but the most obvious is Layla, being similar to Batman's villainess Poison Ivy. She's a redhead, she controls plants, she always wears green, she's very environment friendly, etc. — except she's a good gal. Many have pegged the movie to X-Men given that the plot of the movie centers on a superhero school.
- Detective Anna Ramirez in The Dark Knight was originally supposed to be Renée Montoya, but her name was changed at the last minute because her behavior in the film didn't match that of the animated and comic book character. Montoya is an honest cop, while Ramirez is corrupt and works with the mob.
- By the same token, Det. Wuertz was supposed to be another Batman staple, Harvey Bullock. Bullock is at worst, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, whereas Wuertz is also on the take, and is subsequently killed by Two-Face.
- The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy is sometimes accused of this by Monkey Island fans, who cite similarities between Tia Dalma and the Voodoo Lady as evidence of their claim. Though given how both draw inspiration from On Stranger Tides (and indeed, from the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride), this might be a case where both are the Ersatzes.
- In the 1976 Mystery Fiction spoof, Murder by Death, various famous detectives are represented by these characters:
- The 1980 TV Movie Murder Can Hurt You itself seems to have been inspired by Murder by Death, but with these versions of '70s TV Cop Show characters like Columbo, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak, etc.
- Galaxy Quest is for the most part an Affectionate Parody on Star Trek: The Original Series including its actors and fans. In the film, where it reads "Galaxy Quest", this is almost entirely Captain Ersatz for Star Trek: The Original Series.
- The character of Doctor Lazarus is Spock, the alien on the team, whose actor is haunted by the success of his character and its fictional culture.
- Commander Taggart is captain Kirk, the hammy star of the show and a Large Ham.
- Tech Sgt. Chen, although not Scottish, is the equivalent of Scotty, (badly) operating their transpo... sorry, "digital conveyor".
- Exceptions are Lt. Laredo, the prodigy child crew member (there was no such role in Star Trek, although The Next Generation had Wesley Crusher), and Lt. Madison who repeats everything the computer says (Lt. Uhura in TOS was in the front line of black, and female, emancipation).
- The Hammer Horror film X the Unknown was originally intended to be a sequel to The Quatermass Xperiment. However, they couldn't get the rights to the character of Bernard Quatermass at the time, so they made up a new character called Adam Royston. He is a Science Hero with the same general mannerisms as Quatermass, the only major difference being that his specialty is nuclear physics, not rocketry.
- The Buddy Holly Story had a fictionalized version of the Crickets (two members instead of three, names changed) because the real-life Crickets had already signed onto a different Buddy Holly project.
- The conspiracy-laden 1980s stinker, Down on Us aka Beyond the Doors about how the CIA killed Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison, you notice that Morrison's band is never mentioned by name and have no resemblance to Manzarek, Kreiger, or Densmore (not to mention, all of the songs in the film are original songs, which sound nothing like the songs made famous by said artists.)
- Possibly Rufus from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, a quirky, sophisticated fellow in a time-travelling phone box...
- So many Spark Plug Entertainment characters.
- Officially, The Godfather isn't about the Mafia at all. The story goes that when the real Mafia began making complaints and threats, the filmmakers compromised, removing all references to "the Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra". So the film is actually about a fictitious crime organisation that just happens to be based around five fictitious Italian-American families – it’s usually referred to as "the Five Families" when mentioned on screen.
- Averted in Part II, where during the senator hearings, the words Mafia and Cosa Nostra are mentioned multiple times (here by an outsider).
- A series of El Látigo ("The Whip") films were produced in Mexico. El Latigo is a very close imitation of the famous gringo-created hero of Old California, Zorro.
- BBV seemed to specialise in Doctor Who Ersatzes (see also under Radio):
- The Stranger was a direct-to-video series starring Colin Baker (who played the Sixth Doctor on the show) and Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown) as "The Stranger" and "Miss Brown", respectively.
- While BBV eventually did get licensing rights to various Doctor Who monsters, the Big Two remained exceptions. They never attempted fake-Daleks, but the Cyberons are, well, Cybermen.
- BBV eventually self-parodied this, with a video called "Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?" in which a swarm of Doctor Who monsters (and the Cyberons) are fought by Sylvester McCoy as ... the Chiropodist.
- In the original books, the characters in The Snapper and The Van were the same family as in The Commitments. Due to Fox owning the rights to the Rabitte name, they were different characters. Especially glaring is the fact that Colm Meaney plays the father in both The Snapper and The Van, but is ostensibly playing different characters.
- General Hager from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was originally supposed to be Nick Fury, but was changed to an original character when the director found out 20th Century Fox didn't have his film rights. Not only does Hager have Fury's personality and (Ultimate) ethnicity, but some of his lines are taken word-for-word from Fury's dialogue in Warren Ellis' Ultimate Galactus Trilogy.
- Chapel was replaced by a similar character named Jessica Priest in Spawn. This is due to Chapel being owned by Rob Liefeld, since he originated in Youngblood.
- In the 2000-2005 Left Behind film series, Ivy Gold of Global Network News is one for Global Weekly secretary Alice Nelson from the books, who also gets confused for being Buck Williams' secret fiancee.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine: A kindly old couple on a farm who take in a super-powered individual? That sounds kinda familiar. The first shot of them smiling while driving their pickup seems like a deliberate homage to Superman: The Movie. Richard Donner is a producer on this film.
- About seven years after the producers of Ultraman snuck Godzilla into the show by giving him a neck frill and calling him "Jirass" (see "Live Action TV" below), the producers of the Godzilla series returned the favor by sneaking Ultraman into Godzilla vs. Megalon, altering his coloration slightly and calling him "Jet Jaguar". Appropriately enough, Ultraman's creator, Eiji Tsuburaya, originally did special effects work on Ishiro Honda's original Gojira, and was instrumental in bringing Goji-san to life on the big screen.
- Doctor Mordrid: Doctor Mordrid (played by Jeffrey Combs) is Doctor Strange; the villain Kabal is more or less Baron Mordo. This is because Full Moon Features had optioned the right to adapt the comic into film, but the rights expired during pre-production. Rather than cancel the project, they pretty much just changed the characters' names.
Live Action TV
- Chuck The Buy More is clearly a Best Buy or Circuit City stand-in.
- The Tick replaced Die Fledermaus and American Maid, who were in the animated cartoon but not the original comic book, with Bat Manuel and Captain Liberty.
- Charmed had a demon character named Kira who could see the future, played by Charisma Carpenter. Carpenter played Cordelia on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, who gained the ability to see when people were or would be in trouble.
- Whistler, who appeared in a few Season Two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was supposed to be a main character on the spinoff Angel. Since the actor who played Whistler was unavailable at the time, the very similar character Allen Francis Doyle was created instead.
- Comparisons between Al Swearengen of Deadwood and Silas Benjamin of Kings are pretty inevitable: Both are played in the same highflown style by Ian MacShane; both are amoral and ruthless in attempting to maintain their grip on power but affectionate to those close to them, and both have a tendency to slip into lofty monologues. Except for their different wardrobes and Silas' network-mandated inability to curse like Swearengen, they're essentially the same character portrayed by the same actor.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was created with the intent to include Michelle Forbes' recurring character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ro Laren, but the actress declined to star as a regular in the series. So the character of Kira Nerys was created as a near-identical substitute (abrasive personality, lack of trust in Starfleet). This was tried again for Voyager and again Michelle Forbes refused, so instead they created the Klingon-human Maquis member B'Elanna Torres.
- And Star Trek: Voyager went as far as to cast the actor who had played Nicholas Locarno in TNG's "The First Duty" before changing the character's name to Tom Paris and altering his backstory to be more sympathetic. Though Word of God has flip-flopped on whether this was done because Locarno was unrepentant and therefore unsympathetic, or because they didn't want to have to pay royalties to the writer of "The First Duty". There has been fanfiction written that attempts to reconcile this by making them the same person.
- Parodied on 30 Rock when Jenna intends to star in a biopic about Janis Joplin, but because of legal issues, the pic will be about a Janis Joplin facsimile called Jackie Jormp-Jomp.
- The BBC has an example combined with Danza in the case of Happy Ever After. When its creator decided that it had run for long enough, he declined to write any more episodes and eventually jumped ship, retaining the rights to the show's format as he did. So the BBC took the central couple from Happy Ever After, changed their surname and character bios, put them in another suburban house, and carried on from there. Terry Fletcher (played by Terry Scott) and his wife June (June Whitfield) became Terry and June Medford in the imaginatively-named Britcom Terry and June. If that wasn't enough, the characters Terry and June are near-identical expies of Ron and Vera Baines, the couple that Terry Scott and June Whitfield played in the feature film version of earlier suburban Britcom Bless This House.
- Get Smart had a few examples:
- Comedian Joey Forman played a Charlie Chan-based one called "Harry Hoo" on more than one occasion.
- Several one-off villains were also ersatzen; Wheelchair-bound mastermind Leadside was based on Ironside (1967), Yellow Peril caricature Dr. Yes was based on Dr. No, etc.
- And Smart got his own, B. Wise, in an episode of F Troop.
- This music video is not only a cover of Britney Spears' song Lucky, but the video is also a pastiche of Super Sentai – and the Humongous Mecha is most definitely NOT Mazinger Z.
- In The Adventures of Superboy, a super strong alien woman named Neila, who pursued Superboy romantically, appeared to be an ersatz version of the comics' Maxima.
- Parodied in Psychoville when in a pantomime production of Snow White, the director has to remind his cast that they changed the names of the dwarves (to "Prof", "Blusher", "Sniffy", "Smiler", "Snoozer", "Grumbly" and "Loopy") so as to avoid being sued by Disney.
- Smallville had Captain Ersatzes for a shockingly-large number of DC characters. Adam Knight was Bruce Wayne, Gloria was Poison Ivy, Vordigan the Dark Archer was Merlyn, Pete Ross ended up becoming a Captain Ersatz of Plastic Man (or Jimmy Olsen as Elastic Lad)...the list goes on and on. One episode even had Lois cosplaying as an in-universe Captain Ersatz of Wonder Woman!
- 10 Items or Less has a parody of this trope where the characters create a "Star Trok" Convention with "Blingons and Blomulans" (and Special Guest Jolene Blalock) so they don't get sued by Paramount.
- In The Event, the President and his right-hand man are pretty much Palmer and Novick.
- Tomorrow's Pioneers has the really-not-a-Mickey Mouse-rip-off Farfur. However, the extremely controversial subject matter did draw Disney's attention to Farfur's ersatzen nature.
- Birds of Prey had Darkstrike, a thinly-veiled Nightwing wannabe.
- The Mentalist has done this with the entire premise of Psych.
- Gleefully lampshaded in many episodes of Psych:
Shawn: You've seen The Mentalist, right?Canadian Cop: Yes.Shawn: It's like that.Gus: Except that guy's a fake.Shawn: Right, if I was a fake psychic it would be eerily similar.Gus: Exactly the same.Shawn: A virtual carbon copy.
- Gleefully lampshaded in many episodes of Psych:
- Casualty and Holby City get away with having a Lady Gaga one – who, unlike the real thing, dresses fairly plain-Jane, so to speak.
- Rhyme And Reason, an ABC game show from 1975, was a Captain Ersatz of CBS's Match Game in that it had two contestants trying to match words (the rhyming word of a poem) with a panel of six celebrities.
- In 1961, Goodson-Todman created a Captain Ersatz of its own show The Price Is Right with Say When!!, which had two contestants selecting items from a pool of merchandise and trying to not go over a target value. In turn, 1975's Give-N-Take was an ersatz Say When!! with a spinning arrow. When G-T revived The Price Is Right in 1972 for CBS and nighttime syndication, they turned it into an ersatz Let's Make a Deal.
- In Community, Britta introduces Abed to long running British series Inspector Spacetime who is Captain Ersatz to Doctor Who with a constable instead of a companion, red telephone booth instead of a blue police call box and Blorgons instead of Daleks.
- Word of God says that in-universe, Dr. Who is a ripoff of Inspector Spacetime.
- One of the recurring characters of Lazy Company is an ersatz Captain America – "I'm the Patriot, but call me 'Captain'." He's a Super Soldier Nice Guy whom even the resident grouch can't help but find likable.
- The tenth episode of the original 1966 Ultraman gave us "Jirass", a giant reptilian Kaiju who was essentially Godzilla in all but name—right down to being played by Haruo Nakajima himself. To their credit, Tsubaraya Productions at least gave Jirass a neck frill to obscure the fact that his rubber suit actually was an old Godzilla costume borrowed from Toho Studios. Then they proceeded to have Ultraman rip off said neck frill in the course of the fight. Essentially, if you've ever wanted to see an unofficial Godzilla/Ultraman crossover, watch this episode.
- Lois and Clark
- Intergang is run by the feuding father and son Bill Church Sr and Jr, who have a Front Organisation with a TV company called Multiworld Communications. They're Captain Ersatzes of the comic book's Vinnie and Morgan Edge, who run Intergang behind the facade of Galaxy Broadcasting.
- Lord Nor, the arrogant, bearded, English-accented Kryptonian warlord in Season 4, is more than a little reminiscent of General Zod (specifically Terence Stamp's version).
- The title character of Adam Adamant Lives! was originally intended to be the genuine hero of Victorian pulp fiction Sexton Blake, but when the BBC were unable to get the rights to Blake, they changed the character's name and turned him into a generic adventure hero.
- On A Different World, having lost her job, Whitley is forced to work as a waitress at "The International Cottage of Flapjacks", clearly a ripoff of "The International House of Pancakes".
- On It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Philly Phrenetic in the World Series episode is an obvious one for the Philadelphia Phillies' real-life mascot, the Phillie Phanatic. It's even lampshaded by Charlie at the end of the episode, when he complains about having to call him the "Phrenetic" instead of "Phanatic" to avoid getting sued by Major League Baseball.
Food & Edibles
- McDonald's "Changeables" Happy Meal toys were not Transformers. They did not transform — they changed.
- Stree Overlord is an herbal supplement with a naked Ryu pleasuring a fully dressed Chun-li on the cover, though it is not about Street Fighter. The backstory has The Overlords practicing the secret Fierce Intensity technique in pre-Shogun Japan before handing down the technique to the young Overlord Stree.
- Zany Raisins were Kellogg's answer to The California Raisins.
- The Yardbirds ' 1966 song "Stroll On", is this of their version of "The Train Kept A Rollin'". The maker of the movie Blow Up wanted to use "The Train Kept A Rollin'" for the soundtrack, but there were legal issues preventing it from being released outside the US. As a result they recorded the blatant copy "Stroll On" for the soundtrack, under the guise of it being an original song. The song became quite popular and appeared on a number of compilations.
- Iced Earth's Cast In Stone is Written On The Walls with new lyrics and reduced instrumentation, as Gene Adam (who wrote these parts) did not allow the band to use them. However apart from this, the backing track is identical to the original version. It is debated amongst fans if this constitutes a new song or not.
- The music videos for Cassius' "1999" and "Feeling For You" feature an ersatz of Deadman.
- Bally's Eight Ball featured two teens clearly modeled after "The Fonz" and "Pinky Tuscadaro" from Happy Days. Paramount Television and CBS were not amused.
- One of the passengers in Williams' Taxi is "Lola", a dark-haired copy of Marilyn Monroe. She was originally blonde and named "Marilyn" until management requested a last-minute art change to avoid a potential lawsuit.
- The customers in Diner include Babs and Boris, obvious caricatures of Margaret Thatcher and Boris Yelsin.
- The protagonist of the "Space Sister" table of Super Pinball II: The Amazing Odyssey is a blatant copy of Samus Aran.
- Bone Busters stars a team of supernatural-fighting heroes who double as a painfully obvious copy of the Ghostbusters.
- In the 1950s, Judy Glover was so popular that when Buddy Lee found a woman who looked like her, she was hired with the ring name Judy Grable on the hopes fans would think Grable was Glover...and it worked! Whether or not they were fooled, they liked Grable enough to not complain.
- In the 1960s, Jack Pfefer's heavy use of this trope nearly killed off the Chicago territory when he was the promoter. He was largely responsible for launching the career of Buddy Rogers, so dubbing a look alike Bummy Rogers was clearly his right. Everyone loves Bobo Brazil? Love Hobo Brazil! Want to see Bruno Sammartino? He's got Bruno Sanmartino.
- WCW had several examples:
- Arachniman, who is not like Spider-Man at all.
- Ray Lloyd was dressed up as the not-quite-Sub-Zero wrestler Glacier (a character who has since popped up in CHIKARA, making for a better fit.)
- For awhile WCW had a lot of expies of celebrities wrestling, which created a bunch of strange dream fights. For instance it is unlikely that Prince would ever have fought Liberace, but now you can see what it would have looked like with The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea and The Maestro.
- Johnny B. Badd baby, whooo! His theme music even included the lyrics "He looks just like Little Richard"
- The Friday the 13th movie character Jason Voorhees got into the act as well.
- The first was Jason the Terrible (Karl "Butch" Moffatt), a creation of Bruce Hart in the dying days of the old Stampede Wrestling promotion in Calgary in the late 1980s, with his manager the Zodiac (Barry Orton- Randy's uncle) under a mask, and who can be seen here. There have been several other wrestlers who have done the Jason gimmick since.
- He's not the only one. Memphis gave us Tommy Gilbert as "Nightmare Freddy". His son Doug later wrestled as Freddy Krueger in the hardcore Japanese promotion W*ING, with his brother Eddie as Michael Myers.
- The Japanese hardcore wrestling promotion FMW, among others, had "Leatherface", sometimes changed to Super Leather.
- The Road Warrior's Humungus gave birth to wrestling's various "Lord Humongous"es, and more famous wrestlers like Sid Eudy and Barry "Bull" Buchanan have spent time behind the hockey mask. The gimmick endures on in the indies today with many small-time wrestlers using it, although the more out-of-shape incarnations (of which there are many) tend to wear full jumpsuits that make them look more like Jason Voorhees, rather than the leather straps of the original. The promos hyping the first Lord Humongous (in Jerry Lawler's Memphis territory) certainly didn't try to hide the fact that they were cashing in on The Road Warrior.
- Pro Wrestling Guerilla, All Pro Wrestling, Ultimate Pro, the New Japan Dojo and many others have showcased The Human Tornado, who is a walking fan sequel to Dolemite.
- Carlito Caribbean Cool began on Smackdown basically as Razon Ramon, but shorter. Before then, Carly had many different gimmicks which were much different.
- The Aces & Eights stable in TNA is pretty much a wrestling version of Sons of Anarchy, right down to their attires, logos, and music being inspired by said series.
- On November 23rd, 2013, NWA member Vendetta Pro presented a rematch nearly 30 years in the making at its Final Level event. Bruce Leroy vs The Shogun of Harlem (Jimi Mayhem) They did get the actual Bruce Leroy though.
- BBV's Audio Adventures in Time & Space, starring Sylvester McCoy as "The Dominie" (originally "the Professor") and Sophie Aldred as "Alice" (originally "Ace"), Ersatzes of Doctor Who's Seventh Doctor and Ace (also played by McCoy and Aldred) actually attracted enough attention from the BBC that they had to hurriedly makes some characterization changes, including the new names. (Note that Ace always called the Doctor "Professor").
- Another line of BBV audios starred Nicholas Briggs (who had previously played the Doctor in non-commercial fanvids) as the Traveler.
- Until recently Big Finish Doctor Who wasn't allowed to use any characters, monsters or Doctors who appear exclusively in the 2005 Re Tool series, so resorts to this on occasion – Noel Clarke (who played Mickey, a companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctor) shows up playing a very similar character to Mickey in some stories, and Genre Shift Brit Com episode "The Kingmaker" featured references to an unseen character who was described by the other characters as having "big ears" (clearly supposed to be the Ninth Doctor). David Tennant also had a prominent role in the "Dalek Empire" series, before getting cast as the actual Doctor.
- Similarly, the New Eighth Doctor Adventures had been leading slowly up to a big, cataclysmic event involving Daleks, which is very likely the Time War from the revival series, but never called as such due to license issues. Once Big Finish got the rights to use Nu-Who concepts, the subtext rapidly became text.
- Another technique used to sneak Nu-Who characters past the copyright radar is to use cast members from the new series in Big Finish's non-Doctor Who ranges. For an example, their audio adaptation of Frankenstein features Arthur Darvill (who played the Eleventh Doctor's companion Rory) as Frankenstein, Nicolas Briggs (who plays the voice of the Daleks) as the Monster, and Georgia Moffett (who played the Doctor's Opposite-Sex Clone Jenny in "The Doctor's Daughter", the real-life daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and the wife of Tenth Doctor David Tennant) as Elizabeth.
- Mutants & Masterminds:
- The primary setting, Freedom City, is filled with Captain Ersatzes of the characters from Astro City, who in turn are mostly obvious equivalents for famous DC and Marvel superheroes. The Freedom City sourcebook even hangs a lampshade on this by ending with art of a road sign that reads, "You are now leaving Freedom City, please drive carefully", mimicking the ending tag from the Astro City comics.
- In a picture in the 3E Hero's Handbook, there's even a character wearing a shirt that says "Ersatz" on the front; this character is a villain who is even named "Ersatz" who has the power to transform into a twisted copy of anyone.
- Likewise Champions has many far too many to list: Defender = Iron Man, Doctor Destroyer = Doctor Doom (or occasionally Apocalypse), Foxbat = the silver age Joker. It also has Ersatz cities: Hudson City = Gotham, Millennium City = Metropolis.
- Palladium Books' Heroes Unlimited states that one of the goals behind making the game was to allow players, if they wished, to make characters based on their favorite superheroes from the comics. While it doesn't flat out tell you how to, the names of various superpowers make it pretty obvious (and easy) to make, for example, a Wolverinenote or Spider-Mannote clone.
- Looking for 1980s cartoon Captain Ersatzes, then you won't be surprised that Cartoon Action Hour has more than its fair share. For I.E, the Black Widow from "Strikeforce Freedom" is a blonde version of The Baroness from G.I. Joe.
- The Inception card game guest starring "Joker", "Avatar", "Lord of War", "Black Swan", "Paprika", "Martyr", and "Space Queen".
- The Swedish superhero game Supergänget (published in English as Supercrew) features some among their quick examples – The Weasel (Wolverine, but female), The Tomani (Incredible Hulk with a Shout-Out to children's author Christine Nöstlinger) and Tapir Man (Rhino, and being a caricature of a friend of the author), among others.
- The card game Sentinels of the Multiverse features homages to several well-known comic book characters, like Legacy (Superman), the Wraith (a female Batman), Tempest (Aquaman with hints of the Martian Manhunter) and Ra (Thor).
- Various members of the Dungeons & Dragons pantheon are based on deities from fantasy fiction.
- Gruumsh, with his orcish followers and eye-shaped holy symbol, is clearly meant to invoke The Lord of the Rings' Sauron.
- Tharizduun, a Neutral Evil deity worshiped by aberrations, is modeled on H.P. Lovecraft's Azathoth, while many of the other aberrant deities resemble other figures in the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Likewise, some D&D deities are based on deities from old mythologies. The game writers could easily have gotten the rights to these characters, but presumably felt that creating their own analogue deities would give them more freedom, and that any way to avoid making D&D look like a neopagan cult couldn't hurt.
- Kord, a Chaotic Good Boisterous Bruiser deity, resembles Thor in many respects.
- Obad-hai, True Neutral nature god, right down to his holy symbol, is a dead ringer for the Anglo-Saxon "Green Man" figure.
- Ehlonna, Chaotic Good goddess of hunters and fey creatures, has a fair bit in common with Artemis.
- Mielikki, Neutral Good goddess of forests in the Forgotten Realms setting, toonote
- Chaotic Neutral Olidamarra is a classic Trickster Archetype, in the vein of the Native North American Coyote spirit, or a pre-Face–Heel Turn Loki, while his Neutral Evil counterpart Mask resembles later versions of Loki.
- Averted by Thrym, Chaotic Evil god of frost giants, who is named for an actual frost giant from a Norse myth.
- Also averted by most of the fiendish overlords, who are named explicitly for the demonized deities that inspired them – Asmodeus, Moloch, Bel, Pazuzu, Dagon, Dispater, etc.
- Also from D&D, the barbarian class basically exists so you can play a Conan the Barbarian stand-in. And then there's all the people playing Drizzt clones.
- Further from D&D, the displacer beast is a monster that is almost but not quite a direct rename of the couerl, an alien from A.E. van Vogt's science fiction (whose appearance in The Voyage of the Space Beagle also inspired Alien, to keep the borrowing going).
- Count Mordrek the Damned from Warhammer is a Captain Ersatz of recurring villain Gaynor the Damned from various Michael Moorcock works.
- Keeper cards in Star Fluxx include Cute Fuzzy Alien Creature (totally not a Tribble), Intergalactic Travel Guide ("Remain Calm" not "Don't Panic"), Expendable Crewman (whose shirt happens to be red), Energy Crystals (not dilithium). Curiously, the Goal cards are less coy: We're Lost In Space (Malfunction + Stars), Forty-Two, It's Full of Stars, I'm Depressed (Travel Guide + Robot), Seeking New Civilizations, Lasers on Stun!, "He's Dead, Captain", These Aren't the Droids... (Robot + Unseen Force), The Power of the Dark Side (Unseen Force + Evil), No Trouble At All (Cute Fuzzy Alien Creature + Teleport Chamber), Star Warriors (Unseen Force + Laser Sword).
- Victory Games's James Bond 007 RPG used these in some places – SPECTRE became TAROT, and Ernst Stavro Blofeld became "Karl Ferenc Skorpios".
- Pathfinder and 13th Age could not get the rights to mind flayers from Dungeons & Dragons due to the terms of the Open Gaming License. Pathfinder used neothelidsnote and intellect devourers (which were open content), and later the third-party phrenic slayers (not originally from D&D, unlike the previous two) from Dreamscarred Press, to fill the role, while 13th Age went with "soul flensers" instead.
- Also occurs with some of Pathfinder 's alternate class archetypes. While most of Pathfinder's character options are inspired by preexisting fictional archetypes to some degree (such as the Swashbuckler, Phantom Thief, or Magical Child), in some cases this gets pretty specific. The Shield Champion fights just like Captain America, the Sleepless Detective Prestige Class and most variations of the Investigator are blatant Sherlock Homages, the Master Chymist Prestige Class was based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Brute archetype for the Vigilante class is obviously The Incredible Hulk without the gamma radiation.
- James Comtois' play Colorful World in turn employs second generation Captain Ersatzes of the Watchmen characters: Overman, Ramses, Tigress, Johnny Patriot, Peacekeeper...
- Dog Sees God is, of course, not in any way connected to the Peanuts comic strip, though the characters are CB, CB's Sister, Van, Van's Sister, Beethoven...
- Many Chuckle Brothers live shows feature captain Ersatzes, parodying sagas such as Harry Potter and Indiana Jones. The most notable example though is 'Doctor What and the Return of the Garlics' which features daleks whose top halves have been replaced with giant garlic bulbs.
- The Gulliver Juguetes Super Powers Collection knockoff toyline featured Captain Lightning or Captain Ray/El Capitan Rayo, closely resembling Superman.
- Playmobil has almost crossed the line a few times in its "Fi?ures" theme, which features some rather close-or almost identical-resemblances, such as "not-Aeon Flux"◊, "not- Sue Sylvester◊ from Glee", "not-Lara Croft◊ from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", "not-Lady Gaga"◊, and "not-Maleficent◊ from Sleeping Beauty". Captain Ersatzes of Queen Elsa and Catwoman appear in Series 9.
- Transformers Japanese recolors of Convoy (Optimus Prime) are sometimes called Ginrai, a completely different character.
- 3rd party Transformers, unofficial Transformers toys not made by Hasbro that barely skirt around IP infringement by giving them different names. (their appearance remains evocative of their official counterpart, however.) However, these aren't a case Shoddy Knockoff Product or Serial Numbers Filed Off. 3rd party toys are engineered from the ground up, generally have no budget limitations, and are made by fans with the intent of creating toys of characters that Hasbro can't/won't make.
- 8-Bit Theater is home to the Sulk, Arachna-Dude, Alloyed-Guy, and the Mediocre Four.
- Done a number of times in Sluggy Freelance when it decides to parody certain stories, such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Alien characters in "The Sci-Fi Adventure" or Harry Potter characters in the growing number of "Torg Potter" stories.
- Cousin Dougal in Platinum Grit is an eight hundred year old sword-wielding immortal Scotsman. And his last name is McWickening.
- Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger (itself a Spin-Off from Tales of the Questor IN SPACE!) has recently taken a rusty razor blade to the Star Trek franchise. Quentyn meets the crew in this strip.
- The majority of the cast of Sonichu consists of Sonic recolors. Firstly, Sonichu is an ersatz that the author made sometime in the 1990s when a teacher wouldn't allow him to use Sonic the Hedgehog or Pikachu in a class project due to copyright. There's also Simonla Rosechu, who was originally a (male) Fan Character created by a troll who's a fan of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, but Chris decided to change his gender and turn him into a Rosechu before using her in the comic. Add in two characters based off Zelda (Zelina Rosechu, Clawdorf and Darkbind Sonichu), Sailor Megtune and various others. The only characters who seem to be completely original are Kel, a generic Pokémon trainer, and Count Graduon, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Chris's high school graduation.
- Captain Broadband has a clown pop up at one point to specifically inform the audience that Captain Broadband was created long before another blue garbed, nigh invulnerable superhero
- Mr. Raven from El Goonish Shive seems a heck of a lot like Snape.
- Attack Of The Super Wizards stars public domain characters, one of whom, Stardust, was created to be an ersatz Superman. The comic also includes ersatz versions of Krypto, Lois Lane, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cthulhu, Alan Moore, and others.
- Anti-Heroes makes no secret about being inspired by The Order of the Stick and besides having characters in the same style has some fairly similar characters:
- Kaal is pretty much Belkar if he was a ghost,
- Aldran is a magic user like Vaarsuvius and has the Deadpan Snarker personality of Vaarsuvius and Roy and an Evil Twin (or possibly Good Twin), just like Elan.
- Kerris and Lana are both pretty much Haley, except the first is a Tiefling and the second is a vampire, and Kerris' species also makes her quite similar to the villain Nale's succubus girlfriend, Sabine.
- Batdragon of Dragon City and his daughter Batdragongirl both fit this trope as they're parodies of Batman and Batgirl (respectively).
- The Order of the Stick gives us Larry Gardener.
- And Zzdtri is a spoof of Drizzt, and his status as an Overused Copycat Character. His first appearance has him dragged away by copyright lawyers, but he later returns having realized that parody is protected under Fair Use.
- Goblins has a similar joke, with three players using obvious copies of Drizzt, including both a Gender Flipped version and Drasst Don'tsue, Drizzt's half-brother.
- Spinnerette is pretty much a female Spider-Man.
- Sketch Comedy: Independent Music James, obviously.
- Everyday Heroes shows an old friend of Mr. Mighty, who is from Mexico, wears a red insect-themed costume, and can change his size. As stated in the author's comments, "Any similarity between this guy and any other insect-themed size-changing Mexican superhero (with his own TV show) is purely coincidental."
- Cloudscratcher: Future character Valentine is confirmed to be one of "Smooth Criminal"-era Michael Jackson.
- In River Passage, Irish is one for Sheena.
- Anyone who writes for The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive is forced to use this trope in their fiction. See, Warner Bros. slammed the site with legal threats in 1998 due to fan fiction on the site that used their characters. The site's webmaster deleted almost every single fanfic from the site and hasn't accepted any new fanfics since. Only four fanfics survive on the site to this day, but three of them are Star Trek, and the fourth one is The X-Files, both franchises that are not owned by Warner. Also, all four fics are legacy; they date from before 1998. To that effect, in the stories labeled "CB: Comic Book Superhero" and "SF: Science Fiction", you'll probably see characters that look exactly like Wonder Woman and Captain Picard, but have completely different names. The EMCSA also overlaps this trope with Fandom Berserk Button, as there are several other kinds of fiction banned from the site; however, on the official forums, there's a link to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine that you can use to get at the deleted stories.
- Open Blue has "Kukulu", a Super-Deformed copy of Cthulhu, as one of its Powers That Be. He also happens to be their Series Mascot.
- Englishman uses blatant spoonerised names of any real life individuals who appear.
- Parodied in the animation BLONIC by Ukino Joe:
- Tails: hey Sonic, do you have the time?
- Blonic:I'm not Sonic, I'm my original character, Blonic
- Blails:And I'm not Tails, I'm my original character, Blails
- The Angry Video Game Nerd has spawned possibly enough imitators on YouTube to start a list. Noteworthy mentions include The Irate Gamer and Game Dude.
- Speaking of The Irate Gamer, one of his recurring characters is Wilkins, who is Wilson from Home Improvement in all but (similar) name. He actually debuted as Wilson in the review of the Super NES Home Improvement video game, appropriately enough.
- Third Rate Gamer has Billy, an obvious parody of Irate Gamer's side character Tony, complete with a dumb nonsensical catchphrase and being represented by a sprite taken from a browser-based MMORPG (Runescape rather than MapleStory here). TRG also makes fun of the part where IG messes up Wilson's name.
- Musical example in popular YouTube spoof series How It Should Have Ended. Ever since the Terminator episode, they have been using tunes which bear a rather obvious resemblance to the actual soundtrack, even the iconic ones like Star Wars.
- Quite common in Original Slash. Shousetsu Bang* Bang, an original yaoi magazine on LiveJournal, even has this as one of its rules – "If you're hung up on characters that don't belong to you, change their names and details, AU them, and the Editor will be happy to think of you as one of those people who always draw their seme to look like Youko Kurama."
- Also, Celsan Automotive LLC on NationStates, who appear to be a sort of copy or Homage to Nissan, Holden, Peugeot, Opel, Chevrolet in one. Possibly an Expy too.
- Ever since Marble Hornets came up with totheark, nearly every single Slender Man-related blog/video series has had a similar character.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, there are many. More than many, really. Too many to mention. A short listing includes: Ultra-Man (Superman), Bungie (Plastic Man), Guardsman (Green Lantern), Achilles (Batman), Arachne (Spider-Man), The Damocles Directive (Suicide Squad), Quantum (Captain Atom), The Golden Marvel (Golden Age Superman), Morningstar (Power Girl), and Jock (The Taskmaster). The Neuman Family are pretty obviously a combination of the Fantastic Four and Power Pack.
- Doctor Octogonapus, not Doctor Octopus, from The Lazer Collection.
- LessThanThree Comics is practically made of this trope. From Uncle Sam (Captain America) to Thunderbolt (Thor) to The Shadow (Batman).
- Whateley Universe authors like doing this as spoofs. At Whateley Academy the team The Vindicators is definitely the classic Avengers, with Kismet for the Scarlet Witch, Donner as a dopey Thor, Captain Canada! as Captain America, Donner as Thor, Dynamaxx as Iron Man, Lemure as The Vision, and Sizemax as Giant-man. And Elite League are all ersatzes of the animated Justice League seven. The Good Ol' Boyz are a parody too, but not of a superhero team.
- Curveball has several: Liberty for Captain America, Gladiator for Ozymandias, and Farraday City for Basin City.
- Princess Potato from Sonic for Hire is a parody. She says she comes from the Mario knockoff game, "Super Italian Laborer Town".
- Noob has one of Jack Sparrow, who, like his original, insists he's a captain despite the lack of a crew or even a boat. His appearances have him completely lost and looking for a special compass.
- Not so much for legal reasons, but for reasons of parody, The John Dredge Nothing To Do With Anything Show features two different Scooby-Doo parodies: Doggie Doo, What Kind Of Dog Are You? and in a later episode, Scooby-Don't. There's also a Batman parody called Gasman & Robert.
- Over the course of a few episodes of Analog Control the hosts attempt to reference Cool Cat Saves The Kids, but instead refer to "Fun Feline", created not by Derek Savage, but by "Dick Ravage". These were recorded around the time Derek Savage got very aggressive about flagging Cool Cat related criticism.
- The robot statue Tian-xiang-er-hao of Floraland, Sichuan, China, especially before its redesign, strongly resembles Gundam.
- Ersatz is, as explained above, a German word that means "replacement" and refers to a substitute good of other, usually of inferior quality than the one it replaces. It's especially used to refer to replacements of products that wartime caused to be hard to come by/rationated, such as coffee or meat.