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Fountain of Expies
aka: Iconic Characters
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!
Eminem, "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 Character Archetypes, 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 or codified 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. These are:

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.


    open/close all folders 

Other examples:

     Anime And Manga 

     Comic Books 

     Film 

     Literature 

     Music 
  • 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).

     Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 chracters 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 Samus Aran and/or the Master Chief, 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 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.

     Western Animation 
  • 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.


FoilCharactersForgot He Was A Robot
Fandom Specific PlotFollow the LeaderFrom Clones to Genre
Lawyer-Friendly CameoThis Index Is CopypastedOverused Copycat Character
Alice AllusionStock Shout-OutsHyperspace Holmes Hat
Flip Flop of GodTriviaFollow Up Failure
Former Teen RebelCharacterization TropesThe Friend Nobody Likes

alternative title(s): Iconic Characters
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