This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

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 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 or codified by certain characters, but these should only be referenced in the second, character-based listing. Expy refers mainly and solely to characters drawn from pre-existing fiction, for characters derived from historical figures, please see No Historical Figures Were Harmed. A subcase of Follow the Leader.

Though Fountain of Expies is not a trope in the traditional sense, it does have Sub Tropes. note  These are:

See also, Whole Plot Reference when it is the plot, not the character, that is being referenced.

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Other examples:

    Anime And Manga 

     Comic Books 

  • Certain actors with memorable appearances and manners of speaking have spawned many homages and caricatures in the popular culture that followed, especially in cartoons: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Peter Lorre, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, etc.
  • It is perhaps easier to count the number of Adventurer Archaeologists who are not Indiana Jones clones than the number of those that are, and Indiana himself descended from a long line of Adventurer Archaeologists.
  • Audrey II of Little Shop of Horrors, who brought you other Man Eating Plants like the Piranha Plants from Super Mario Bros.
  • King Kong may be the single most aped 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 Trope Codifier The Godfather, down to the odd mannerism of speaking.
  • Another Star Wars example: many a Lovable 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 of Full Metal Jacket. Notable in that most of these will have the same actor (R. Lee Ermey) portraying him, as well.
  • Got Powered Armor? Expect an Iron Man-esque suit-up sequence complete with robot arms, on the spot assembly, and the iconic "Stepping into the boot" shot.
  • Oddjob from the James Bond film Goldfinger was so popular that actor Harold Sakata got several more roles as taciturn thugs wearing black bowler hats and suits.
    • Perennial Bond bad guy Ernst Blofeld inspired countless villains who sinisterly stroke cats. Particularly those who are initially only depicted as hand petting a cat obscured by a large chair.


     Live-Action TV 

  • 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 '90s, 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.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • George Wagner is not just the Trope Maker and Trope Namer for Gorgeous George but the originator of The Gimmick as it would be used in pro wrestling from the 1930s onward. Besides ambiguously gay wrestlers like "Exotic" Adrian Street (who is himself a fountain of expies), his influence is also transparently shown in Natural Guy Buddy Rogers (another fountain of expies).
  • El Santo, which ironically was a gimmick intended to cash in on the popularity of The Masked Marvel, only the The Marvel gimmick was supposed to be that of a Heel everyone wanted to see unmasked. Santo instead underwent a Heel–Face Turn after reaching a point no one wanted to see him unmasked and after the man died he was buried in it. Some of expies include Mil Mascaras, who in turn inspires his own expies, Black Man, who became Mexico's biggest draw (alongside Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee) after succeeding an LLI feud Santo was a part of, Novia Del Santo(Irma Gonzales), El Zorro Plateado(who spawned his own Legacy), El Santos from the satire series of the same name and Number Five from Angel.
  • Fray Tormenta is the Masked Luchador with the most expies after El Santo, which include Tiger Mask (which would in turn become another fountain of expies), Sagrado, Místico (that one too), El Generico, Tekken's King and Nacho Libre.
  • The French Angel, aka "The World's Ugliest Man", became such a huge draw when he arrived in the Boston territory that a wave of expies rose across North America, including but not limited to Swedish Angel (formerly Phil/Olaf/Popey/Frankenstein/Olaffsen), Russian Angel (formerly Tony Angelo and a former Masked Marvel), Canadian Angel (formerly Bill Rush, who beforehand was in another ersatz role as Red Masked Marvel), Polish Angel (formerly Iron Talun, who in a bit of variation was cute), Czech Angel (formerly Stanley Pinto), Irish Angel (formerly Clive Welsh), Golden Angel (formerly Tiger Jack Moore) and Black Angel (Gil Guerrero). There was also Super Swedish Angel (formerly Tor Johnson) who was a Captain Ersatz of an expy and two distaff counterparts, the Lady Angel gimmick being taken up both by Jean Noble and Yulie Brynner. The animated ogre Shrek also closely resembles the world's ugliest man.
  • Filipino wrestler Rey Urbano started The Gimmick of Asian wrestlers with "ninja cheats", though more imitators were inspired by his expy, The Great Kabuki, who in turn was overshadowed by one his own expies during the territorial era when promoters in the National Wrestling Alliance pushed The Great Muta as his son. Far more wrestlers have imitated Muta's style but the poison fog/colored mists come from Kabuki and the face paint and or mutilation come from Urbano.
  • "Superstar" Billy Graham, whose expies include many other blonde and or bearded "body builder" types in fancy get ups such as Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura and Scott Steiner, who all also took elements of his promos, though adding their own unique tics.

     Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
  • FromSoftware is fond of this while creating in-universe expies of expies, it often occurs to characters with the same voice actor, or having similar appearance and backstories, especially anyone who happens to be named Patches.
  • The slimes from Dragon Quest inspired a wave of copycats until it became a JRPG cliche to have a weak, low level Blob Monster enemy, often with a cute face and Mascot Mook status.
  • 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, Master Chief from Halo, or as of late, Doomguy from Doom, as will the abilities and limitations of said Powered Armor.
  • There will always be many 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.
  • Pokémon
    • Every generation after the first will have an adorable electric rodent resembling Pikachu. The exact species varies (there have been mice and squirrels so far) but all of them have cheeks that conduct electricity. which seems a little redundant given that Pikachu itself is also available in every generation bar the fifth. This trend is spoofed by the introduction of Mimikyu, a Ghost and Fairy-type who wears a poorly-made Pikachu costume in the hopes that he will become as popular as Pikachu.
    • Every generation after the first also tends to feature an early-route Pokémon resembling a small rodent or other similar creature in the vein of Rattata, A bug-type Pokémon not unlike Weedle or Caterpie, and a bird Pokémon rather similar to Pidgey.
  • Pick a MOBA game. any MOBA game. There is always a knockoff Meat Hook ability. Every single time.
  • We've long since lost count of how many low-budget horror games have tried to be Freddy Fazbear and the gang.
  • Dak'kon, the Githzerai Warrior Poet from Planescape: Torment, permanently altered the perceptions of the Githzerai. Before Dak'kon, the canonical alignment of the Githzerai was mostly Chaotic Neutral, befitting a people who lived in Limbo, a plane directly tied to chaos, with the Lawful Neutral Dak'kon being an explicit and very unusual exception to the rule. However, due to Dak'kon's influence (both in-universe and out-of-universe), level-headed, monastic, Lawful Neutral Warrior Monks became the norm for the Githzerai thereafter.
  • Inverted in Super KO Boxing 2, where nearly all boxers have the gimmicks of Punch-Out!! boxers. Examples include:
    • KO Kid = Little Mac
    • Big Gip/Bigger Gip = Glass Joe
    • El Bulli/El Diablo = Don Flamenco
    • Sake Bomb = Piston Hondo with Bald Bull's knockout recovery
    • King Tub = King Hippo
    • Executioner = Every final opponent in the game.
  • Shining Series has one inspired by Zylo, the claw-wielding, wolfring warrior king from the original Shining Force. Since his debut, there's been a Wolf Man character in nearly every game in the series that emulates to some degree. Notable examples include:

     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.

Alternative Title(s): Iconic Characters