troperville

tools

toys

Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Expy
aka: Legal Character Copy
"The one in back,
The way he acts,
Is he reminding you of anyone we know?
Isn't he so
Like certain people I could name?"

Short for "exported character", an expy is a character from one series who is unambiguously and deliberately based on a character in another, older series. A few minor traits — such as age and name — may change, but there's no doubt that they are almost one and the same. Often seen in different works by the same writer(s) or production team.

This can simply be the tendency of writers to prefer certain characterizations for important characters (or knowing which ones are most marketable/popular), or the influence of the design process. On the other hand, it may just be a bad attempt to try to revive a character who the writer liked, but nobody else did and had to get rid of it. When by a different author, it may be a homage to the original creator and/or character. In the negative sense, an expy can be seen as just a bloated, gimmicky version of a perfectly serviceable past character. In a positive sense, it can refer to an "upgrade" of a two-dimensional or otherwise limited character to one more appreciably complex.

Keep in mind that not all expies are lazy half-assed rip-offs. Some characters such as Yogi Bear and Mickey Mouse are obvious clones of Art Carney and Felix the Cat respectively but they are some of the most acclaimed cartoon characters of all time because they are generally likable and unique.

Theory: any Characters as Device trope, if taken to the extreme, can result in the character appearing to be a mere expy of the Trope Codifiers for that trope. Especially if the character is Flanderized to the point of having few defining characteristics outside of the trope they represent. See Fountain of Expies.

Most often seen in animation and video games, where it's much easier to make a newer character resemble an older one. Occasionally happens when characters from different stories end up sharing voice actors, making or even forcing their personalities to look even more similar, which often leads to jokes based on the voice actor's former role.

When the character appears in the same show as the previous character, he's often a Suspiciously Similar Substitute.

The key difference between this and Captain Ersatz is that an expy, while deliberately based on some other character, is still their own person, while Captain Ersatz is obviously the same character but with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. Please keep this distinction in mind before adding an example here. Also note that a fictional counterpart to a real-life person would not be an expy. When a character strongly resembles a real person, rather than a fictional character, that's No Celebrities Were Harmed. A quick glance around TV Tropes will reveal just how often these mistakes are made on this very wiki.

Remember that an Expy must be a clearly deliberate reference on the part of the author; superficial or random coincidental similarities (even very striking ones) do not qualify, so if you aren't certain, they probably are not an Expy. Because many character archetypes and tropes that compose characters are universal, it is easy for readers to fall into thinking that a particular character in the same general archetype resembles someone from their favorite show or novel, especially when Small Reference Pools lead readers to overestimate the cultural impact of their favorite characters.

Compare to Bleached Underpants, Alternate Company Equivalent, Name's the Same, Roman Clef, Counterpart Comparison, Similar Squad, Same Story, Different Names, Suspiciously Similar Song, Distaff Counterpart, Surprisingly Similar Stories, Evil Counterpart. Not to be confused with XP, nor XP.

Contrast In Name Only, Transplanted Character Fic.

For specific characters that tend to inspire expies, see Fountain of Expies.


Examples belong in subpages:


The Psycho RangersThis Index Is CopypastedAlternate Company Equivalent
ElfeminateCharacterization TropesFlanderization
Executive MeddlingJustForFun/Tropes of LegendFan Nickname
Everybody Laughs EndingThe Dark Age of AnimationFive-Man Band
Exactly What It Says on the TinOverdosed TropesAx-Crazy
One PieceAnime/Gundam Reconguista In GMobile Suit Gundam SEED

alternative title(s): Legal Character Copy; Expies; Exported Character
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
13985
0