And there's a million of us just like me Who cuss like me; who just don't give a fuck like me Who dress like me; who walk, talk, and act like me And just might be the next best thing, but not quite me!
, "The Real Slim Shady"
A character who is so popular and impactful that many other characters created afterwards are heavily inspired by it. They share even more than its Archetypal Characters
, they are its expies
basically the same old character recycled, with some minor changes, to make it fit into the new setting. The original one gives inspiration not just for their basic Characterization Tropes
, but for parts of their relationship dynamics, personality, and appearance.
While too many authors using the same obvious expies could be considered a worrying trend in terms of originality, it isn't an inherently bad thing.
As a longer time passes, creators might be more and more likely to make bigger changes to the character, eventually growing it into a whole new Character Archetype trope on its own. In other cases, it's possible that the resulting characters are too different even for that: Talented writers can explore certain aspects of a character with an expy, and other aspects with another expy, in a way, that if you would compare the two expies, they wouldn't even appear that similar to each other
. While it's possible that a Fountain of Expies also serves as a Trope Codifier
for the character's most fundamental tropes, other times the shared similarities are more vague.
In the following "subtropes" list, only add trope pages whose descriptions are explicitly based on the idea of collecting characters that are based on a first one. There are other tropes that were more indirectly started
by certain characters, but these should only be referenced in the second, character-based listing.
A subcase of Follow the Leader
Though Fountain of Expies is not a trope, it does have Sub Tropes
Compare The Ahnold
(spoofing any action star, including Arnold Schwarzenegger
), Mascot with Attitude
(trying to make a distinct character, but still following Sonic the Hedgehog
), Tuxedo and Martini
(the basic attire of James Bond
See also, Whole Plot Reference
when it is the plot, not the character, that is being referenced.
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Anime And Manga
- Hotaru Tomoe/Sailor Saturn from Sailor Moon was so popular for whatever reason that a few Magical Girl series following copied her character in particular, such as Michal Amagi in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. Tsubame Sanjou from Rurouni Kenshin is also explicitly mentioned by Word of God as being based on her character.
- Yasunori Kato, antagonist of the classic series Doomed Megalopolis, has inspired a slew of imitators, which have in turn inspired others, to the point where it's difficult to tell who inspired who after the original. Characters of his lineage include M. Bison, Washizaki, Rudolph von Stronheim, the Blocken family, Brocken, and Shiliew, while surprisingly, we have a heroic version in the name of Raidou Kuzunoha. Also, they are ALL descended from the Hugo Boss-designed Nazi officer uniforms.
- Goku from Dragon Ball was the original Shōnen Idiot Hero. Besides the basic "lovable idiot" aspect of the character, his imitators also tend to copy several other character traits of his, such as his extreme love of fighting, his equally big love of food, his immensely compassionate and unselfish nature, and his lack of sexual awareness. And the improbable hairdo. More often than not, though, said expy would have his energy level over 9000
- Another Shonen Jump starter was YuYu Hakusho's Sensui. Before him there were just Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy and Smug Snake Chessmaster villains in anime/manga, then with his extremely suave persuasions, extremely broken (in more ways than one) abilities and able to turn every little mishap to his advantage, is what defines today's anime/manga (particularly Shōnen) villains. Just ask Madara, Blackbeard, Byakuran, Naraku, and Father. Though Sensui has some more traditionally direct (as in, based directly on him in particular and not just the type of overpowered shounen Anti-Villain he created) expies as well- Jin Aizen, Kariya, Ginjo (Ginjo to the extent that if you just put a bindi on his forehead he looks exactly like Sensui were Kubo Tite to draw him), Ulquiorra (his R1 and R2 transformations during his fight against Ichigo), Chrollo (unsurprisingly, from a manga by the same author), Pain (his background and his powers such as the six paths of pain relating to Sensui's multiple personalities), and Homura.
- Captain Harlock is very iconic in Space Opera anime, and he shows up damn near everywhere in anything where there are huge spacey battleships. Notable Harlock expies include Alex Row, stoic renegade captain of the legendary steampunk battleship "Kill'em All" Silvana, and the villainous Vicious, who even has the weird bird, probably to make up for his distinct lack of a battleship. Speaking of Leiji Matsumoto's creation, the Maetel archetype is also popular: tall, willowy blonde women with few words and deeply mysterious origin. Nekota from Girls und Panzer (a Fall 2012 Anime) is an obvious nod to the original Maetel.
- In a similar vein to the Rei Ayanami Expy above, Kaworu Nagisa has a similar amount of Expies (such as N from Pokémon Black and White and Akise from Future Diary). You will often find a light (typically white or grey) haired Bishōnen who's Ambiguously Gay and aims for the lead character. If Foe Yay is part of the character, he's more than qualified for the Expy. We also can count Shinji Ikari. After the series, countless Classical Antiheroes appeared with dark hair hair and angst similar to Shinji's. Gainax itself used Shinji Ikari expies in FLCL, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and This Ugly Yet Beautiful World. Renton Thurston from Eureka Seven (in vain of Follow the Leader) also counts as well as Ouma Shu and Amano Yukiteru.
- Relena Darlian/Peacecraft, herself the Sayla Mass to Heero Yuy's Amuro Ray and Zechs Merquise's Char Aznable, has expies of her own in Dianna Soreil, Lacus Clyne, Cagalli Yula Athha (who's also partly based on Sayla), Princess Rele, and Marina Ismail, and outside of Gundam, Euphemia Li Brittania (who's also partly based on Lacus).
- Then Heero himself is thrown into the mix as well. Former child soldiers who can keep the military aspect of Real Robot shows while still being young enough to appeal to kids and/or teenagers. Such expies include Setsuna F. Seiei and Sousuke Sagara.
- Hero Killer Yazan Gable of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam infamy is second only to Char in number of knockoffs. There's Rakan Dahkaran of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Rezun Schneider of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, Ash Grey of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, Ali Al-Saachez of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Decil Galette of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, as well as Code Geass' Sir Luciano Bradley. All are Sociopathic Soldiers who joined the army for the chance to kill as many people as possible, act as The Brute within their respective forces, have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, possess fearsome reputations in-story, and with the exception of Ash and Decil, are badass normals to boot.
- MSG Big Bad Gihren Zabi has expies in Glemmy Toto, Fonse Kagatie, Seidel Rasso, Patrick Zala, and Flit Asuno.
- Berserk: Guts is the pretty much the basis for ever "manly" Japanese hero after him. Some examples are Ike and Hector from Fire Emblem, Auron from Final Fantasy X and Caim from Drakengard. Guts also have some characters based off of him like Kirito who is called the Black Swordsman who is dressed in black and gets a BFS later and The Dragonslayer who wears a similar armor to Guts's Berserker Armr.Although he turns out to just be a Suit of Armor and The Protagonist is much of a Guts Expy when wearing The Armor and fighting fate.
- The "golden-haired green-clad elf chick" inspired by Deedlit from Record of Lodoss War, such as Tiffania Westwood from Zero no Tsukaima, and spread to video games (e.g. Lucia from Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons arcade series).
- Being one of the most iconic anime characters ever, this obviously happened to Astro Boy. There have been numerous stories about humanoid robots that rely heavily on the series. The American Robot Boy and My Life as a Teenage Robot come to mind, along with the Japanese Jetter Mars and Mega Man.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has Seto Kaiba. Since he was the Breakout Character, the various spinoffs traditionally have at least two characters who have lots of money, act cool in all circumstances, get obsessed with the main character after he insults the character's pride, know their way around machines, stay clad in a gravity-defying coat, and specialize in dragons. Oftentimes, they'll give some Kaiba traits to one character and others to another. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX had Manjoume, who got Kaiba's wealth, obsessiveness, and expies of some of Kaiba's lesser archetypes, while Kaiser got the stoicism and expies of Kaiba's signature Blue-Eyes. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has Jack, who got the obsession, the wealth, and the dragon focus (as well as a similar backup strategy with fiends), though unusually, most of the other usual Kaiba traits got filtered into Yusei. All of them wore coats, though.
- While starring Nagi Sanzen'in, one of the Holy Trinity of Shana Clones, Hayate the Combat Butler has it's own Breakout Character in Hinagiku Katsura, who seems to have inspired quite a few characters herself. While student council presidents have been around a while, they have often been either important antagonists a la Revolutionary Girl Utena or protagonists like in Maid-Sama! (usually being absurdly powerful in either role). Hinagiku brought a president that was very kind and helpful to the protagonists while also being cool and very popular...notably with many, many female admirers in addition to all the guys at the school. Hisa from Saki and Yanagin's Sempai from Daily Lives of High School Boys are some similar characters who share Shizuka Itou as a voice actress (Yanagin's Sempai character notes even lampshade it) and Megumi Imae from No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular seems pretty spot on as well. Captain Liliana from Queen's Blade is also widely seen as an (albeit semi-evil) expy of Hinagiku down to having the same voice actress in the anime.
- While Superman could be said to be the Trope Codifier for the whole Super Hero genre, he is even more directly the inspiration for every single Cape superhero in terms of personality and outfit, and for anyone with the standard Flying Brick powers (including the aforementioned Goku!). Then there are those characters more directly and deliberately inspired by him, including Supreme, Samaritan of Astro City, and Marvel's Gladiator.
- Similarly, Batman (himself borrowing heavily from Zorro and The Shadow) gave rise to every single Badass Normal in Comics, particularly those that work during the night. This is lampshaded in a JLA 80-Page Giant issue when Green Arrow talks, In-Universe, about how Batman was the coolest non-powered hero around, so of course GA had to have a cave, and an Arrowmobile, and a sidekick.
- If there are expies of Superman and Batman in a story there is probably a Wonder Woman expy somewhere there to complete the Trinity.
- Robin as well set the pace for the Sidekick in comics. Following his creation, numerous other Kid sidekicks were created, Bucky, Aqualad, Speedy, Kid Flash, the list goes on.
- Lois Lane as well, as the journalist love interest of the hero - think of Vicki Vale, Iris Allen, Betty Brant, Roxanne Ritchi...
- Captain America is the best known patriotic superhero, and as such has inspired numerous Expies. Among them are the Fighting American, the Guardian (also created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby), Agent Liberty, General Glory from the JLI, and Commander Steel.
- Wolverine. Nearly every "exciting new character" introduced in The Dark Age of Comic Books was a cheap knockoff of him. Wolverine himself is an expy of Timber Wolf from the Legion of Super-Heroes.
- In the Golden Age of Comic Books, there were countless Expies of Mandrake The Magician, usually complete with top hat and tails. The most well-remembered one is Zatanna's dad Zatara.
- Spider-Man is often credited as being the Trope Codifier for the non-sidekick Kid Hero and the Unlucky Everydude Superhero. A lot of characters owe much of their characteristics to him such as the latest Blue Beetle, Static, Gravity, Freedom Ring, Kyle Rayner, and Miles Morales.
- Almost without exception, if a work is intended as a parody of/meditation on/deconstruction of/homage to the idea of superheroes in general, there WILL be a Justice League of Expies and/or an expy Fantastic Four.
- Due to complex rights issues, Black Lightning was barred from appearing in DC animated productions until around 2009 or so, which lead to the creation of numerous thinly-veiled substitutes with similar powers. Among them are Black Vulcan from Super Friends, Soul Power from Static Shock, and Juice from Justice League Unlimited. This ultimately resulted in black characters with electric powers became a trope in off itself.
- The character Fantômas, originating as the Villain Protagonist in a series of novels, was an Omnicidal Maniac with Gentleman Thief/Impossible Thief trappings, who was aided by a Dark Mistress and pursued by a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist. He inspired the Villain Protagonist Gentleman Thief Diabolik (similarly aided by a Dark Mistress and pursued by a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist), who in turn inspired a number of other (usually more sympathetic) comic book characters, including the X-Men character Fantomex, a heroic take on Fantômas in Mexican comics, and Paperinik, a secret identity used by Donald Duck in Italian comics. Tellingly, among the many names given to Paperinik in translations are Fantomiald (France), Fantonald (Norway), and Phantomias (Germany).
- It is perhaps easier to count the number of Adventurer Archaeologists who are not Indiana Jones clones than the number of those that are.
- Audrey II, who brought you other Man Eating Plants like the Piranha Plants from Super Mario Bros.
- King Kong may be the single most referenced character who is not technically in the public domain, but it hasn't stopped many from copying him (probably because it's rather difficult to copyright a giant ape, whether we all know who it is or not). This was proved when Universal Studios famously sued Nintendo over Donkey Kong; they lost because they'd previously successfully argued a giant ape climbing a building was public domain.
- The creatures in the Alien series inspired countless other alien monsters with elongated heads, rows of fangs, and an overall nightmarish appearance, especially common in video games. The sister franchise to Alien, Predator, has similarly had this occur with several mercenaries/killers (Whether they're aliens or not) taking after the monster's cloaking device and wrist blades, flat mask, dreadlocks, mandibles and hunting tactics.
- Godzilla, the quintessential city wrecking giant monster, has had too many monsters based on him. You can say "Godzilla-sized" and everyone will know what you're talking about. See Kaiju and Rent-a-Zilla for examples of Godzilla clones.
- A lot of mafia bosses act suspiciously like a certain Trope Codifier.
- Another Star Wars example: many a Loveable Rogue takes a cue from Han Solo (like the above mentioned Dr Jones).
- Every Drill Sergeant Nasty in fiction after 1987 will invariably be heavily inspired by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Notable in that most of these will have the same actor portraying him, as well.
- Sherlock Holmes. The inspiration for hundreds of eccentric private detectives in all kinds of settings, many of them explicit expies, to the extent that from the time he became popular until Trent's Last Case Deconstructed the type in 1913, it was well-nigh impossible to find a Great Detective who didn't rip him off, or, for that matter, a crime-solver who wasn't at least a parody of a Great Detective. Several characters inspired by Holmes have become distinctive popular characters in their own right, including Gregory House and Batman. Though Holmes himself is an Expy of Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin (by Conan Doyle's own admission), so Dupin could be said to be the true source.
- Conan the Barbarian: The most well known Barbarian Hero, whenever he's brought to pulps, paperback novels, comics, or motion pictures, he always brings with him a slew of imitators. Some of the obvious ones are Lin Carter's Thongor the Valkarthian, Gardner Fox's Kothar the Cumberian, John Jake's Brak the Barbarian, and Alan Moore's Bram the Berzerkian.
- Some of Kothar's prose stories were actually adapted into Conan comic book stories.
- The barbarian class in Dungeons & Dragons was created more or less entirely for the benefit of people who wanted to play as Conan.
- In recent years, the name Clonans has seen increasing use among fans.
- Drizzt Do'Urden, as mentioned on the Overused Copycat Character page (he used to be its Trope Namer).
- The Lord of the Rings
- Big Bad, Sauron- though the Evil Overlord archetype is almost as old as humanity itself, many modern fantasy Overlords owe quite a bit to this guy, particularly if they live in an Evil Tower of Ominousness in Mordor, are He Who Must Not Be Seen for most or all of the story, are Tin Tyrants decorated with Spikes of Villainy, use an Artifact of Doom, which may double as a Soul Jar, and they cannot comprehend good.
- Also, Elves. Extremely common in fantasy literature, but post-Christianity and pre-Tolkien, fae in general were portrayed as small, cute, harmless, etc. Or as The Fair Folk.
- And Hobbits. There are now lots of "halflings" and other short-people-who-are-not-dwarves in the fantasy literature and in fantasy RPGs.
- Hello, Gandalf, anyone? The archetype of a wandering, humble-seeming wise old man with a wide-brimmed hat and an array of supernatural powers may be started by Odin, but most aren't aware of that and base their Wizard Classic upon Gandalf.
- Smaug from The Hobbit brought the "silver-tongued dragon" archetype to Western audiences.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz gave us: Cyborgs/Androids afraid of losing their humanity (the Tin Man), Cowardly Powerhouses (Cowardly Lion), the most iconic Wicked Witch of them all, and a very typical girl heroine (Dorothy).
- Hawk from the Spenser novels by Robert B Parker codified and popularised the Psycho Sidekick in the private eye subgenre.
- The Cthulhu Mythos has been the inspiration of Eldritch Abomination trope. If a creator likes to make one, it would usually have a face full of tentacles.
- James Bond is possibly the most famous depiction of a spy and is copied endlessly. His villains have also had a big influence on fictional characters, with Ernst Stavro Blofeld being quite possibly the most commonly copied.
- Journey to the West: Son Wukong In addition to many Chinese adaptations and knock-offs, the immortality-seeking monkey king with an extensible staff and great magical powers is known to the Japanese as Son Goku.
- Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser had a huge influence on both the Sword and Sorcery genre fantasy roleplaying games, and gave rise to a frequently copied adventurer pairing of Brains and Brawn and/or Sword and Sorcerer.
- Many a Kill All Humans-minded race of Mechanical Lifeforms owe a debt to Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series.
- In Visual Kei there are a lot of artists that get this treatment, but probably the most notorious is hide. The amount of hide clones or one-time hide clones within Visual Kei is enough to fill an entire page, but some of the more well known are Die and Kaoru of Dir En Grey (though they currently are not), Jun of Spiv States plus the entire band concept of Spiv States being a thinly veiled copy of hide's solo band, and a 2013 photoshoot for a band called CELL featuring everyone in the band as a hide clone. It's been overdone to the point that anyone in Visual Kei with red or pink hair, especially paired with hide's face or eye makeup, is a clone of him regardless of sound or instrument.
- George Strait. In The Nineties, many young up and coming males in Country Music followed his pattern of being youngish, clean-cut, sharp-dressed good ol' country boys with a bit of a honky-tonk flair to their music. Their copying of Strait's image was dubbed "hat act". Over time, so many "hat acts" flooded Nashville that the phrase quickly became a derogatory term, and most new males in country music ever since have abandoned the Strait archetype (except Strait himself, of course).
- Though Eminem song "The Real Slim Shady" serves as the current page quote, he himself comes from a long line of white rappers with that particular look (tank top, shorts, backward baseball cap, etc.), a family tree that includes Vanilla Ice.
- Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII, while hardly the first white haired Bishōnen villain, did inspire a whole slew of imitators trying to get the same sort of Multiple Demographic Appeal. Just look at the design of Magic: The Gathering's Sorin Markov.
- That "control other player" part sounds morbidly familiar...
- These characters, derisively called "Sephiroth Clones", are becoming increasingly common, especially in later Final Fantasy games. On any given Final Fantasy XI server, you will find dozens. All of them Elvaan males, all with long silver hair, almost always Samurai.
- Final Fantasy VI: Kefka. He may well be the inspiration for every Camp, Monster Clown, Nihilist in gaming the world over. Ironic, considering he's frequently considered the FF version of The Joker. He also started the trend of RPG bosses having a vaguely angelic One-Winged Angel form, predating even the Trope Namer up above.
- Inverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Every class is an expy of one or more characters from the Films, as are their starships. Companion Characters also channel minor characters from the films and Expanded Universe. Excepting minor cases of characters who are Expies of non-Star Wars characters (the Imperial Agent is a dead ringer for James Bond) and of earlier BioWare characters (Kaliyo is Jack).
- If a video game produced after 2001 has a main character who's head to toe in Powered Armor and has any sort of personality, you can bet that said personality will resemble Metroid protagonist Samus Aran and/or the Master Chief from Halo, as will the abilities and limitations of said Powered Armor.
- There will always be gameplay expies of Mario. The main characters of which will be expies of Sonic, either in design or personality.
- City of Heroes had (has?) a problem with this. It's very easy to make an obvious Captain Ersatz with it, and Marvel Comics sued them over it once. When the Twin Blades power set was added to City of Heroes, thousands of clones of the aforementioned Drizzt Do'Urden were the first characters seen using it. Drizzt's popularity as an overused character even extended to video games...
- When the first expansion for World of Warcraft hit, giving the Horde blond elves, in the first hours there were literally thousands of variations of Legolas, most of them hunters with bows, as well as hundreds of Sephiroths. The game's Orcs i.e. the Proud Warrior Race shamanistic type are almost as common as the original Always Chaotic Evil type nowadays.
- The protagonist of any Yume Nikki fangame is an expy of Madotsuki by default.
- Several Fire Emblem games feature a pair of Macho Camp bandits, often found in desert areas who serve as a Dual Boss. There are enough recurring character archetypes throughout the series to merit an entire category on the Fire Emblem Wiki.
- Every Pokémon generation after the first will have an adorable electric rodent resembling Pikachu, which seems a little redundant given that Pikachu itself is also available in every generation bar the fifth.
- Back in the early 1930s, every new cartoon character that came along was a Mickey Mouse clone. Ironically, Mickey himself was merely following the formula established the decade before by Felix the Cat, and more than one person has stated that he was merely Disney's previous star Oswald the Lucky Rabbit with round ears and a long tail. Some people theorize that the whole "black skin, white mouth" genre of funny animals started out as an animated version of minstrel shows. Felix's ability to spawn expies even extended past animation. Sonic the Hedgehog looked more or less exactly like Felix in the Genesis era, which kickstarted a bunch of expies in video games, though almost none besides Sonic himself remain.