[[FollowTheLeader Following the leader]] is ubiquitous in all media. The reasons for this vary, ranging from a desire to [[MoneyDearBoy attain some of the success of the original work]] to a desire to [[SincerestFormOfFlattery pay homage to a work that the creator of the derivative work adores]].

This technique can be quite a double-edged sword, however. Some fans stay away from such derivative works, either because they know that [[SturgeonsLaw most imitations are bound to be bad]] or because the work is so similar that they feel no need to invest any time into experiencing more of the same, regardless of quality.

So creators of derivative works find ways to make later installments less derivative, either in response to fan reaction or because their storytelling skills have improved to the point that they themselves no longer have to use derivation as a crutch. The work may still have some trappings that hint at its formerly derivative nature, but it's less likely that newcomers will easily be able to discern this.

Related to FromClonesToGenre and GrowingTheBeard. Has nothing to do with calculus.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Franchise/DragonBall'' started off as a retelling of Literature/JourneyToTheWest that mashed up fantasy with science fiction elements, but come ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' and the series went in a very different direction that focused more on combat and action and played up the science fiction elements even more.
* ''Anime/{{Gasaraki}}'' started out as a clone of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', but evolved into more of a spiritual predecessor to ''Anime/CodeGeass''.
* ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventure'' began as a clone of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' (and {{Dracula}}, oddly enough). This changed with the advent of [[PsychicPowers Stands]], and the series drifted away from its inspiration. The eponymous [[GenerationalSaga Joestar line]] even grew progressively less like Kenshiro with each generation.
* ''[[VideoGame/PriPara [=PriPara=]]]'' began as Takara Tomy's version of ''VideoGame/{{Aikatsu}}'', but as the show went on and became more popular, it became an idol show that was very different from the other popular ones at the time, doing things Aikatsu! did not including a whole season based on five-person lives, different versions of the idol world in the show existing and even some concepts that are similar to MagicalGirl anime such as taking care of a magical baby and the girls getting a magic wand to change their dresses.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In his first appearance, [[{{Franchise/Batman}} the Bat-Man]] was pretty much Radio/TheShadow with wings. Then he got his own backstory, decided he didn't like guns, recruited a kid sidekick, and generally became his own person.
* SelfDemonstrating/{{Deadpool}} used to be ComicBook/{{Deathstroke}} in red until they made him insane to the point of fourth wall–breaking and gave him his own fighting style.
* The lead character of Creator/PeterDavid's ''ComicBook/FallenAngel'' was widely assumed to be a lawyer-friendly version of ComicBook/{{Supergirl}} from his recently completed series, but was eventually distinguished.
* In ''ComicBook/{{PS238}}'', many of the background superheroes are obvious walking shout-outs. For example, Ron's father Atlas is obviously Comicbook/{{Superman}}, down to be raised by an older couple on a farm...until it's discovered that, to his own surprise, [[spoiler:he's not the LastOfHisKind, he's a HiddenBackupPrince]]. His personality also winds up being rather different as he becomes more aloof and distant from his family, [[spoiler:culminating in a divorce from Ron's mom and him taking the throne of his home planet]].
* The pirates in ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'' started off as straight-up redraws of the characters from ''ComicBook/BarbeRouge'', apart from art style. Notably, in some of Baba's early appearances, he looks almost exactly like the original, photorealistic one, apart from [[BlackFace bright-red lips]]. Then one of them, Erix, got [[PutOnABus removed from the crew]], and the remaining crew got increasingly grotesqued until they all ended up looking really different to their original inspiration, especially Baba.
* UsefulNotes/{{India}} has a large and thriving comic-book industry, largely depending on original superhero characters such as Nagraj and Shaktimaan. American icons such as Franchise/{{Batman}}, Franchise/{{Superman}} and Franchise/WonderWoman have crossed over to Indian comics - but not always in a licenced and approved way. In unauthorised versions, the Indian Superman takes sadistic pleasure in dreaming up prolonged and painful deaths for the villain, while the normally chaste Wonder Woman[[note]]the character as originally created had a lot of bondage/discipline elements, but the erotic aspects of that were kept as subtext... a '''lot''' of subtext, but still subtext[[/note]] is allowed active sexual expression (within the limits of Indian moral attitudes). Meanwhile, Shaktimaan crossed over to American comics, but as a minor character representing India in a sort of international League of Superheroes. His portrayal in the American adaptation similarly changed to reflect American taste.

* The 1954 film ''Film/{{Gojira}}'' had plenty of unique elements to set it apart from the earlier AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever stories which inspired it such as ''Film/KingKong'' and ''Film/TheBeastFromTwentyThousandFathoms''. The use of PeopleInRubberSuits instead of StopMotion to portray Franchise/{{Godzilla}} was unusual at the time, while the grim, [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything allegorical]] destruction of UsefulNotes/{{Tokyo}} and the then-unique-in-TheFifties anti-nuclear message could only have come from [[UsefulNotes/NuclearWeapons post-Hiroshima]] UsefulNotes/{{Japan}}. Nonetheless, it still clearly followed the formula set by those other giant monster movies: monster causes havoc in a city, humans brainstorm a way to stop it, and the monster is thus killed, imprisoned, or otherwise neutralized. ''Film/GodzillaRaidsAgain'' and ''Film/KingKongVsGodzilla'' barely diverged from this formula by introducing other monsters to both fight Godzilla and cause more trouble for humans. ''Film/MothraVsGodzilla'' saw the beginnings of major divergences from the formula both by turning the ''Godzilla'' films into a SharedUniverse with other Creator/{{Toho}} creations (starting with Film/{{Mothra}}) and having at least one of the monsters being clearly on the side of the humans. ''Film/GhidorahTheThreeHeadedMonster'' saw the biggest divergence yet, [[HeelFaceTurn turning Godzilla into a good guy]] and having him team up with other monsters against a greater threat. Since then, the franchise's focus has usually been on Godzilla doing most of the work to take down the bad guys while humans help him out.

* ''Literature/TalesOfTheMagicLand'' started off as a loose translation of ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz'', but later books in the series are original works that use said translation as a basis.
* ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' is so very much the 800-pound gorilla of High Fantasy that any work in that genre written since ''is'' going to be compared with it (and with Creator/JRRTolkien's other works), for better or worse. Still, the... influence... is pretty visible in some works.
** The ''Literature/{{Shannara}}'' series started off as fairly derivative of ''The Lord of the Rings'', with the largest distinction being the former's AfterTheEnd setting. ''Literature/{{The Sword of Shannara|Trilogy}}'' even took its general plot structure straight from ''The Lord of the Rings''. As the series went on, however, the books developed more original plots, including an UrbanFantasy trilogy.
** If you only read the first novel of ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' you could be forgiven for dismissing it as ''The Lord of the Rings'' with some light gender politics. The setting and metaphysics become much more distinct, and the gender politics ''much'' more pronounced, as the series continues.
* The early books in the ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'' series were typical HighFantasy books that borrowed many elements from ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' (itself somewhat derivative of [=LotR=]), but developed a unique feel in ''Soul of the Fire'' with the introduction of [[{{UsefulNotes/Objectivism}} Objectivist]] themes.

[[folder:Live-Action Television]]
* The Russian version of ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' recycled all the scripts from all 11 American seasons and then had a contest for suggestions to write more.
* The Russian version of ''Series/TheNanny'' was so popular that the producers actually hired the original American writers to write 25 more episodes.
* The first twelve episodes of ''Series/TheOfficeUS'' were simply reworkings of the scripts of [[TheOfficeUK the British version]], and not very well received. [[BritishBrevity Then they ran out of source material]], and once the US series found a voice of its own many of the characters were completely unrecognisable (particularly Michael Scott, who became much more of a well-intentioned buffoon than the [[UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist venal and unpleasant]] David Brent), which created a lot of EarlyInstallmentWeirdness in the first season.
* Likewise, the first season of ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'' was very much ''The Office'' [[RecycledINSPACE in the public sector with a female lead]]. Starting in the second season the show dropped its reliance on CringeComedy and found its own identity.
* In America, ABC piloted a 1980 Harvey Korman vehicle, ''Snavely's,'' which was not only based on the BBC's ''Series/FawltyTowers'' but said pilot was a scene-by-scene word-by-word duplicate of a ''Fawlty Towers'' episode. It would be tweaked and be greenlit for series under the new name ''Amanda's'' (with Bea Arthur in the John Cleese role).

[[folder:Role-Playing Games]]
* ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'' started off as [[FollowTheLeader a near-clone of]] ''Roleplay/AlphaTeamMissionDeepFreezeRPG'' [[RecycledInSpace in a different setting]], but eventually adopted its own unique style starting with the introduction of the StoryArc formula.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' used to just be ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' [[RecycledInSpace with space ships]] before adding its own mythos and creatures.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Creator/{{SNK}}'s ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'' was perceived by gamers to be a cheap cash-in of rival company Creator/{{Capcom}}'s ''Franchise/StreetFighter''. Despite this, ''Art of Fighting'' set itself apart by introducing several new gameplay mechanics such as taunting, the addition of a spirit gauge to regulate use of specials, along with supers and desperation attacks. The game's scaling feature also became a series trademark.
** Capcom later incorporated these same features, beginning with ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterII Super Street Fighter II: Turbo]]'', the first game in the series to feature supers and a secondary meter for regulating them.
** ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterIV Super Street Fighter IV]]'' adds revenge moves, which can only be used after the character has sustained enough damage, making them the SF equivalent of desperation attacks.
* ''VideoGame/BanjoKazooie'' never tried to hide its similarities to ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'', but fans didn't mind too much because the game was pretty good anyway. As gamers started to get tired of the formula set up by ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'', however, Rare decided to go in a different direction with ''Banjo-Tooie''. The sequel contained more interconnected areas to make it resemble a {{Metroidvania}} more than anything. ''Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts'' abandoned the PlatformGame trappings altogether, introducing customizable vehicles as the central gameplay concept instead.
* Similar to the Ratchet and Clank example below, Rare created Conker, in hopes of making another exploration-heavy series with platforming and collection sidequests starring a cute protagonist. After their rivals mocked the company for seeming to create another formulaic series, they kept the gameplay but reinvented the product as ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'', [[DarkerAndEdgier completely changing the tone]] from a cutesy mascot with clean, shiny graphics to a [[GrossoutShow deliberately unappealing]], [[SirSwearsALot profanity-ridden]] BlackComedy with a protagonist that talked, and wasn't at all shy about voicing his displeasure about the rivers of feces, frequent hangovers, alien invasions, a suicidal fork with a bad sex life, the giant poop monster that sang opera tunes, and any number of surreal and definitely not child-friendly madness the game had to offer.
* Creator/{{Nintendo}}'s ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'' arcade game was born out of this kind of serendipity; Nintendo, still trying to get their foot in the American game market in 1981, tried releasing a standard ''VideoGame/SpaceInvaders'' clone called ''Radarscope'' in the arcades; while it did well overseas, it completely flopped in the US and left them stuck with thousands of unsold cabinets. This prompted them to place Creator/ShigeruMiyamoto in charge of improvising another game to replace ''Radarscope'' (while converting the unsold cabinets into new games) and, instead of making another cookie cutter maze or shoot em up, created one of the earliest,[[note]]but not the first; ''Space Panic'' from 1980, is generally considered the first platformer game [[/note]] and certainly one of the most important platformer games in history.
* ''VideoGame/TheGreatGianaSisters'' was such a blatant clone of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1'' that Nintendo successfully sued to get it off shelves. When ''Giana Sisters DS'' comes out decades later, it's nothing like ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'', and later ''VideoGame/GianaSistersTwistedDreams'' comes along and introduces mechanics such as DualWorldGameplay and heavier emphasis on melee abilities. Numerous critics noted the {{irony}} that a game that started off as a knock-off ended up being revived on a Nintendo platform then later becoming one of the most original {{platform game}}s of 2013.
* The first ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' game, ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved'', was initially planned as a RealTimeStrategy. Between that preliminary design and the release of the final product, however, Creator/{{Bungie}} probably deemed a RTS with humans fighting alien zealots and both fending off a parasitic swarm to be a tad bit too similar to ''VideoGame/StarCraft'', hence the shift to a FirstPersonShooter. They would eventually revisit the RTS roots with ''VideoGame/HaloWars''.
* ''VideoGame/KCMunchkin'' for the Magnavox UsefulNotes/Odyssey2; the first installment is an obvious clone of PacMan (although there are a fair amount of differences between it and its inspiration already, most notably the ability to create your own maze), enough that a year after it was released, Atari, who had just released their own port for the 2600, successfully sued to get it pulled from shelves. To continue the series, a sequel, ''VideoGame/KCsCrazyChase'', was released, which [[WritingAroundTrademarks redesigned the lead character]], and revamped the gameplay to where your goal is to chase and eat a giant [[VideoGame/{{Centipede}} centipede]] throughout the maze to get power ups and win (not only distinguishing it from Pac Man, but also serving [[TakeThat as a sly jab at Atari]]). It also supports the Odyssey 2 voice module.
* ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' took the simplification path after breaking away from ''VideoGame/DefenseOfTheAncients''. The old ''Warcraft 3'' main stat system was removed and replaced with direct manipulation of the underlying stats: attack damage, ability power, attack speed, movement speed, HP, mana, armor and magic resist. The standard ability kit of three powers and an ultimate was replaced by one passive, three abilities with or without passives, and an ultimate. The "Blue Pill", the equivalent of DOTA's Town Portal Scroll, was removed and made into a long Recall that can be performed any time without limits. The Blink Dagger and the Ancient Pocket Watch were made into the summoner spells Flash and Teleport. Then the champions started to be designed around the standard roles of tank, fighter, mage, marksman, assassin and support--six roles, as opposed to DOTA's hard carry, soft carry, disabler, support, lane support, initiator, jungler, durable, nuker, pusher and escaper. The barracks were replaced by inhibitors that regenerate over time. Roshan was replaced by Baron [[SdrawkcabName Nashor]], which is much stronger and usually requires at least three champions at late game to be killed. Other mechanics such as creep denying, neutral creep luring, hit dodging, turn rate or terrain height were removed. The result? After these and much more differentiation changes, Blizzard decided that ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' was different enough to not count as a derivative work--unlike ''VideoGame/Dota2'', which put Valve into a trademark scuffle with Blizzard on account of being basically ''VideoGame/DefenseOfTheAncients'' on the Source engine, with SerialNumbersFiledOff, and a few cursory mechanic changes.
* Having also been made by [[Creator/SquareEnix Squaresoft]], ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG'' naturally [[DolledUpInstallment has a lot in common]] with ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' games and other Square {{Role Playing Game}}s of that era, albeit with ActionCommands and the obvious ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' trappings among other things. After Square partnered with Sony and left the Mario [=RPG=]s in Creator/{{Nintendo}}'s hands, however, they gave its ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' and ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi'' games a different focus from typical Square [=RPG=]s, such as a much heavier use of intricate ActionCommands, simplified battle stat calculations, fewer party members on screen at a time, and PreExistingEncounters with enemies that can be attacked for some damage at the beginning of a battle. ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' in particular is a mix between a [[PlatformGame platformer]] and a traditional Role-Playing Game.
* The ''Franchise/MetalGear'' series was initially just a tongue-in-cheek take-off of American spy and action films, but ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' was where the series started to establish its own identity of having longwinded, cinematic cutscenes with melodramatic war stories with an everything and the kitchen sink mentality, (as the SequelDisplacement can attest to). Although the impact is greatly lost due to it being on the dated [=MSX2=], even the second game dealt with themes and questions such as what happened to soldiers once they left the battlefield, and what happened to the local survivors of a warzone.
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRow'' started out as a pretty straightforward ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' clone, with the only caveat being ''Saint's Row's'' focus on gang violence. Each game has dialed up the DenserAndWackier aspects (''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'' even features an AlienInvasion), with ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'' dialing down the same. Putting ''Grand Theft Auto IV'' side by side with ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' shows that the two now bear very little resemblance to one another, aside from the gameplay involved stealing cars.
* The first two installments of ''VideoGame/{{Sidewinder}}'' were heavily derivative of ''VideoGame/AceCombat'', their main point of differentation being features that weren't in the first ''Ace Combat'' (such as analog controls, cockpit view, landing sequences, and the ability to equip different type of missiles) and minor concessions toward realism. ''Sidewinder MAX'' shifted the flight model toward realism, and the last two installments (titled ''Lethal Skies'' in the west) changed the setting from the present to a futuristic, post-global warming Earth.
* After Creator/{{Sega}} tried to directly compete with Nintendo by copying the NES with their UsefulNotes/SegaMasterSystem, only to fall flat on their face, they decided to go in the opposite direction and become Nintendo's antithesis with the UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis, aiming for older audiences and darker games with slicker graphics, action and very lax censorship policies. Even their headlining mascot, Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog, was a unique contrast from the ''Mario'' series in art and gameplay, and also a contrast to Sega's own Mario-derivative Alex Kidd, who was quickly abandoned by the company. Unsurprisingly, it worked. The series was unmistakably inspired by ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'', but in contrast to Mario's strategic, defensive platforming, Sonic's gameplay usually leans more towards casual, heavily streamlined platforming romps with rollercoaster/pinball like physics and level design that emphasized maintaining speed and precision timing more than anything else, with the occasional slower platforming, combat, puzzles and minigames sandwiched in.
* ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'':
** According to an interview with Creator/InsomniacGames head Ted Price, after making [[Franchise/SpyroTheDragon a trilogy of collect-a-thon games]] in the vein of ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' and [[FollowTheLeader its many other imitators]], they realized yet another game like that would be a dead end in the long run, so for the first [[VideoGame/RatchetAndClank2002 Ratchet and Clank game]], they tried to start playing up the combat aspects of the game over just jumping around and collecting things, and they even tried to avoid calling it a platformer in development (which didn't stop critics from calling it one anyway).
** The sequels would continue playing up the combat aspects over the platforming even more and more, to the point where games like ''VideoGame/RatchetDeadlocked'' have little to no platforming at all, and even [[VideoGame/RatchetAndClank2016 the 2016 reimagining of the first game]] plays up the combat over the platforming.
* The first trio of ''VideoGame/{{Robopon}}'' games were blatantly riding the coattails of ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'', with monster/robot collecting, similar battle styles, beating a series of "legends" who bore no small resemblance to gym leaders, and multiple versions. The sequel (which came out before ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'') kept the version system, but made substantial changes, like making battles party based, making it so that players could not catch Robopon, but had to create them, and taking the plot completely OffTheRails.
* The original ''VideoGame/{{Burnout}}'' was extremely similar to the arcade game ''Thrill Drive'' in all respects, to the point it was pratically a SpiritualAdaptation of it. ''Burnout 2'' differentiated itself with a more definite art direction and a greatly increased focus on the NitroBoost mechanic; ''Burnout 3: Takedown'' further shook things up by introducing the combat mechanic that would define the series for mainstreaum audiences.

* ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' started off as the author Kern drawing up the events of the ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' RP he and his friends were playing in the ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' setting. By Chapter 4, however, the plot had diverged so much from its source material that he decided to just turn it into its own unique setting. He even went on to completely redo the earlier chapters ''twice'' to make them better fit the divergent setting.
* Even though it wasn't a stick figure comic to begin with, it's easy to see that ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure'' is pretty heavily inspired by ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick.'' In 235 pages (and counting), ''Our Little Adventure'''s style has changed [[ArtEvolution fairly considerably]], both in character design and setting design.
* ''Webcomic/TheWayOfTheMetagamer'' also began as an ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' ripoff, even copying a strip word-for-word. It starts to diverge after the SeriesHiatus, when the AuthorAvatar makes an appearance, and by the time JustForFun/TropeTan shows up the storyline is completely different. As for that one strip copied verbatim, it is now an OldShame, which the creator lampshaded [[BetterThanABareBulb like with almost everything else in the comic]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebVideo/TribeTwelve'' started off as a video series in Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos that was a largely forgettable ''WebVideo/MarbleHornets'' clone, but eventually found its own voice after the funeral submission, especially in "Night Recordings."

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes prior to [[UsefulNotes/LooneyTunesInTheThirties the mid to late '30s]] started off as standard gag and music cartoons in the vein of other studios of its day, such as Creator/FleischerStudios and WesternAnimation/MickeyMouse (the latter being the most understandable connection, since the early Looney Tunes were made by [[Creator/HarmanAndIsing former Disney artists]] in the first place). By the 1933–1935 period, the studio really tried hard to imitate Disney's cutesy cartoons, but that got them nowhere. By 1936, Creator/TexAvery and Creator/FrankTashlin (and eventually Creator/BobClampett) got their place in the studio as directors and slowly started leading them into a more humorous direction. Early entries of theirs such as ''WesternAnimation/ILoveToSinga'' and ''Now That Summer is Gone'' superficially resemble the cutesy stuff Disney was doing, but their humor and tone was unmistakably irreverent, street smart and contemporary for their time. By the 1940s (especially by the end of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII), the studio finally crystallized its art style, rich cast of characters, and brand of humor into its iconic form.
* Per word of Stephen Hillenburg, a big reason ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'' is centered around Spongebob as a central character as opposed to having a hard-set duo billed was because at the time the show was created, buddy shows like ''WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy'' were very popular, and Stephen wanted to do something different.

* BBV's DirectToVideo sci-fi series ''The Stranger'' featured ''Series/DoctorWho'' star Creator/ColinBaker as a mysterious stranger obviously based on the Doctor. Over the course of the series, the character's backstory was revealed, distinguishing him from the Doctor in the process.
* BBV's follow-up audio series, featuring Baker's successor Creator/SylvesterMcCoy and his co-star Creator/SophieAldred, did all its differentiation in a single unsubtle lump, to avoid the onset of legal trouble arising from the fact that its leads were practically indistinguishable from the roles [=McCoy=] and Aldred had played in ''Series/DoctorWho''.