Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
"Um Scoot, don't you think you're taking this just a little too far?"
A common plot when a character (usually lacking in self-confidence) begins to imitate someone they look up to, down to what clothes they wear
and what foods they eat. For the one being imitated, this usually gets old very, very
fast after the novelty of having a lookalike wears off, and the rest of the episode is usually dedicated to getting the imitator to stop and rely on himself or herself instead. However, sometimes this backfires, and rather than learn anything the imitator will just switch to a new target.
May overlap with Hero-Worshipper
and Heroic Wannabe
. Also a common cause (and effect) of Poser Hating
. If this continues for too long it can turn into I Just Want to Be You
, with the difference being that this trope is usually a temporary state of affairs and generally Played for Laughs
See also Sincerest Form of Flattery
, which is a meta-trope about Word of God
admitting to copying from an earlier influence on their work.
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Anime and Manga
- One character in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX used a variation by copying someone's deck and then acting like them while playing it. The same character later stole Yugi's deck when it was up on display. And started imitating Jaden after the inevitable loss. Jaden doesn't seem to have a problem with being imitated, but is annoyed at not being copied properly.
- One episode of Sailor Moon SuperS had a young girl named Nanako who becomes infatuated with Rei, and becomes a Miko like her and copies everything she does. At first Rei thinks it's funny, but then she gets really annoyed. It turns out Nanako is a severe Fragile Flower and doesn't take Rei's disapproval well at all, making her a good target for the Monster of the Week.
- One episode of Pokémon has Ash and Max being asked to take care of some young starter Pokémon, so May and Brock leave behind their own starters with Ash's to take care of the younger charges. The Treecko, apparently female, instantly crushed on Ash's own Treecko, and started following the latter around, imitating him by carrying around a twig (with a flower) in her mouth.
- Princess Mimina of Nurse Angel Ririka SOS is a Royal Brat who wishes she could steal the titular heroine's Magical Girl Warrior thunder. Mimina made her own costume and weapon, and can mimic Ririka's attacks, but this only gets her into sticky situations.
- Oluo from Attack on Titan tries to copy his captain Levi's look and speaking style, much to Petra's annoyance. Levi himself never comments on this.
Film - Live-Action
- Monty Python's Life of Brian: Once people decide that Brian is the messiah, he just cannot catch a break: "You're all individuals!" — "Yes, Yes, We are all individuals!" — "I'm not..."
- The second live-action Scooby Doo film, Monsters Unleashed, had Shaggy and Scooby dress up as Freddie and Velma, respectively, when it's pointed out to them that they never do anything. The others think this is stupid from the get-go.
- Made down right frightening in the movie Single White Female.
- In the early part of the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation, young Calvin Canboro imitates young Tom Canboro up until when Tom says that Calvin has to go to the bathroom, which gets Calvin to stop imitating when he finds himself repeating what Tom said.
- In Chicago, many women and girls start imitating Roxie Hart, the sweetest jazz killer in the city. Even Mama Morton dyes her bobbed hair blond to Velma's consternation. Roxie, naturally, enjoys the attention.
- In Making Money Cosmo Lavish tries to usurp Vetinari by becoming Vetinari, to the point of stealing his hats, boots, ring, and swordstick (only the hats actually were Vetinari's; he doesn't even have a swordstick). He ends up in the hospital - it turns out there's a whole ward full of people who think they are Havelock Vetinari. What if Havelock Vetinari isn't the real Havelock Vetinari? What if he's just better at it than the guys on the ward? That would explain the rather horrific Characterization Marches On Vetinari suffered before Pratchett got his act together.
- Occurs in the Baby-sitter's Little Sister novel Karen's Twin. Karen's schoolmate eats her lunch in the same order and even gives Karen new clothes so they can wear the same thing more often.
- Played for laughs in The Wheel of Time, when Mat can't figure out who's teaching his kid to flirt.
- Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey:
- Isabella Thorpe is a reputed beauty and acknowledged as the most beautiful young woman in Bath in that season. Her younger and less attractive sisters Maria and Anne try to imitate Isabella's style and they dress like her. According to the narrator, it kind of works and they are considered passable. Isabella doesn't seem to mind. She may be even glad that she is considered a star and a leader.
- Isabella once mentions in a letter to Catherine Morland that one girl wore a turban like her (Isabella) for one social occasion. But in her opinion, she couldn't quite pull it off. Apparently, turbans only match Isabella's beautiful face.
- Omega Zell from Noob is somewhere between a long term version of this and a milder form of I Just Want to Be You. He dreams of becoming the number one player of the game and greatly admires Fantöm, the current number one. Some of the imitation includes having the same standard character class Fantöm had before unlocking the in-universe equivalent to a Prestige Class and having the same drinks as him in taverns. While the situation is long-standing, Omega Zell's imitation remains relatively innocent as he's still enough of his own person to have a personality quite different from Fantöm's.
- A Running Gag in the Katamari Damacy series is that several of the more oddly-shaped cousins wear the exact same colors as the Prince. Each new installment of the series usually adds at least one new lookalike cousin: there was Johnson in the original, Slip, Can-Can and Odeon in We ♥ Katamari, Kenta in Me & My Katamari, Pu in Beautiful Katamari, and most recently Dangle in Katamari Forever.
- Conrad Verner of Mass Effect takes to dressing like Shepard in the sequel, much to Shepard's annoyance. The Renegade option lets you punch him, and depending on how you acted towards him in the first game, for the second time. By the third game, depending on your actions he may be supporting Cerberus — a terrorist organization — just because Shepard did in the second game, unaware that Shepard left between games (and depending on the player's actions, possibly with a massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the boss in the process). Shepard responds appropriately.
- The Masked Koopas in the Something series. They dress up like Mario in Something and dress like Yoshi in Something Else.
- A case that is a little different from normal played seriously and not found in a children's story or show: After completing the first Dungeon Crawler in The Order of the Stick, Elan abruptly decided that he wanted to be a wizard, in large part because of his respect for V. V is not pleased by Elan dressing like a stereotypical mage and clowning around because he takes that as Elan insulting wizards and the effort V puts into magic, and promptly blows up at Elan. The two then have to have a heart to heart in order to reconcile.
- In one episode Mikey begins imitating Vince, the jock, due to seeing Vince as a "cool kid", but eventually admits that the persona doesn't fit him and goes back.
- One kid gets a crush on Gretchen and says this word for word at one point.
- D.W. once imitated Arthur down to his clothes and use of his old glasses frames, but she too was eventually talked out of it. In this case it was an Invoked Trope: D.W. was getting back at Arthur for a scuffle over who had dibs on the TV (his not-Superman show was on the same time as a show targeted at preschoolers, and he said everything she liked was boring).
- An episode had Muffy writing the school's advice section but being upstaged by Molly (one of Binky's friends) as the latter was better at giving advice. In an attempt to rectify this, Muffy dresses like Molly and tries to do the things Molly normally does (skateboard, listen to rock music etc). Say the least it didn't last.
- One episode has Arthur & Muffy teaming up on a school project, and he starts picking up her mannerisms. Lampshaded by the other characters to Arthur, who didn't see it.
- For some reason Buster & Arthur decided the other had the better life and started imitating him - Arthur reading joke books and Buster complaining about D.W. all the time.
- The animated version of Sabrina has the title character cast a spell to help out a nerdy classmate named Norma become more well liked. It backfires however when the town soon start to dress like her... They considered Norma to not "be Norma enough" and tie her and Sabrina up before Sabrina manages to break the spell.
- Teen Titans. Robin leaves for a bit to go train with "The True Master", and the rest of the team takes to dressing up as him. By the end of the episode, the entire team and Silkie, Starfire's pet mutant moth larva, are sitting around in Robin costumes, eating pizza and calling each other Robin. Even Raven's wearing Robin's clothes; she says, "The mask makes me feel... cool." And Robin walks in just then, and everyone expects their normally high-strung leader to be annoyed at them... but he just takes a slice of pizza and says: "You know, Robins, the mask makes me feel cool too." It helps that part of the lesson was "don't take yourself so damn seriously".
- Kim Possible also used this. The imitator, instead of learning her lesson after the episode, moved on to idolizing her sidekick, Ron.
- Dil started imitating Angelica, much to her annoyance.
- Phil and Lil imitated Chuckie and Angelica respectively because their parents couldn't tell them apart.
- Stacy once did this to Quinn on Daria while the latter was staying at the former's house while the rest of her family was out of town. This weirds out Quinn, who opts to make a break for it soon after and ends up staying with Jane, of all people.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick once tried being just like SpongeBob after deciding he was a failure since he never got an award and wanted to be a winner like SpongeBob. He actually became moderately successful by doing it, and really was a failure whose only award was for doing nothing (though that was good enough for him to stop). SpongeBob finds it a little creepy, but flattering.
- In an episode of The Cramp Twins the entire school started imitating Wayne when a famous photographer praised his style. Wayne originally liked it because he could mock Lucien with it, but became gradually more annoyed until it turned out that the combined number of everyone imitating him completely cleared out the junk yard he frequents. Wayne fixed it by dressing up as a girl.
- The Replacements had an episode where Riley is sick of every girl in town copying the latest big fashion model, so she replaces said model with herself, thinking that nobody would want to copy someone as average as her. Of course, everybody does, and at the end of the episode, Riley's "Be Yourself" speech backfires on her when someone points out that it's their choice as an individual if they want to follow the trends or not.
- Danger Mouse: In "There's A Penfold In My Suit," Penfold is putting on one of DM's jumpsuits, thinking if he does he'll be just as brave and heroic. Colonel K comes on the videophone and thinks he's seeing two DMs.
- And episode of All Grown Up! had Tommy befriending a new kid at school, soon the kid starts hanging around Tommy's friends and family, dressing like him, picking up his hobbies and interests, and even carrying a screwdriver in his pocket. After Tommy confronts him on the matter, he admits that he was worried about not making friends and thought it would be easier if he acted like someone who was already good at making friends.
- Played with on Adventure Time. A bear starts imitating Finn. Finn doesn't have a problem with it until he believes the bear is trying to outright impersonate him. After hurting the bear's feelings, Finn apologizes and gives him the Enchiridion so he can be a hero all of his own. Turns out this was all a ploy so The Lich can get his hands on the Enchiridion, knowing very well that Finn couldn't ignore his selfless nature.
- In The Simpsons, a motivational speaker encourages everyone in Springfield to act like Bart. At first, he reveals in it, but is quickly annoyed by everyone imitating his "do-what-you-feel" attitude.