Kill and Replace
"I have copied all that is you. You are no longer necessary."A doppelganger, Shape Shifter (in a speculative fiction setting) or an identical twin for more mundane stories seeks to kill the original and take their place. If they're quick and quiet, nobody will suspect a thing until it's too late. If the murderer is a full-on Shape Shifter, this technique may well be employed iteratively to pierce increasing layers of security. Just kill and replace the hapless guard, then the sergeant, then his lieutenant superior... Tends to be caused by the Cloning Blues. Fantasy cousin of Twinmaker. Compare Dead Person Impersonation, Mugged for Disguise and Dressing as the Enemy, where the victim at least gets to live, albeit knocked out and half-naked. If the victim is kept alive but restrained, see Capture And Replicate. Contrast Klingon Promotion, where one kills to assume the victim's job. Extreme versions of the Fake King plot tend toward this route as well.
— Dark Bowser, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
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Anime & Manga
- In The Vision of Escaflowne, a shape-shifter does this to a hypnotist in order to infiltrate a prison and extract information from the prisoners.
- In The Law of Ueki, Anon eats Robert Haydn and impersonates him.
- In Angel Sanctuary Arachne is actually an older brother of Kurai (His true name is never revealed) when he discovered his reason for existence was to act as a decoy for the true heir, he faked his death and killed the true Arachne and took his identity. His transvestism is part hiding his true identity, part he actually liked it.
- The Akuma from D.Gray-Man do this when they kill the person who called them back to life and take their form.
- An episode of Boogiepop Phantom has two cops discussing an urban legend about a being called Manticore. At the end, Cop A wonders, just how did Cop B know so much about the Manticore? Cop B shows him.
- In Claymore the shapeshifting Youma occasionally do this to continue hunting humans in secret. This is a lie spread by the Organization to hide the Youma's true nature. They are actually parasites born from the flesh of two captured dragon people that jump to new human hosts after burning out their previous hosts. The Youma aren't replacing anyone. They just inflict terrible mutations and Horror Hunger on unlucky humans.
- In Naruto, Orochimaru manipulated the Fourth Kazekage into sending his shinobi to attack Konoha. Orochimaru then killed the Kazekage and used his appearance to get close to the Third Hokage.
- Subverted in Wicked City. A demonic spider woman apparently kills the woman that Taki Renzaburou has been trying to seduce for the last three months. She takes the woman's form and invites him over to her place so she can obtain his sperm. However, she later admits that she just rendered the woman unconscious instead of killing her.
- In Mirai Nikki, Minene kills a rookie police officer named Natsuko and steals her identity. This later comes back to bite her in the ass when it turns out Natsuko managed to swallow her name tag so that her body could later be identified.
- This is implied in Triage X when Detectives Tatara and Suzue find out that one of their own is not a police officer. The real detective was possibly killed by Syringe agents in order to insert their own agent and pose as a police officer.
- In Sailor Moon, a Brainwashed and Crazy Mamoru disintegrates the arcade owner's friend and brainwashes the owner into thinking Mamoru's the same friend. In an interesting variant, Mamoru in no way tries to disguise himself to look like the friend. He only needed an excuse to hang around and befriend Usagi so as to try to steal the Silver Crystal from her, and Usagi herself had no idea what the owner's friends look like (the owner's girlfriend, on the other hand, did realize Mamoru and the friend weren't the same person, but she thought he was just another friend who happened to have the same name).
- In Excalibur, Courtney Ross was murdered and replaced by her other-dimensional double Sat-Yr-9.
- Also in the Marvel Universe, the female Dire Wraiths [enemies of ROM: Space Knight and fuglier version of Skrulls] did this, helped by using their drill-like tongues to eat the victim's brains and gain their memories.
- Happens to the third Ant-Man in Secret Avengers. He's killed during a mission and the bad guys send a Life Model Decoy back in his place to infiltrate the Avengers.
- Jane Doe in the Batman universe is an insane serial killer who has this as her MO - she kills people and wears their skins, honestly believing herself to be that person, until she is either found out or breaks out of the identity to find another victim.
- In the Adam Strange: Planet Heist miniseries a Durlan kills Doc of the Omega Men and takes his place, waiting for the right time to strike.
- Gold Digger (series): The Gaoblin are an interstellar race who have killed and replaced four entire species: the trolls, the elves, the Atlanteans, and the Kryn. The "new" versions did such a thorough job, and continued the originals' culture so well, that the change had been lost to history for millennia.
- Mystique from the X-Men books sometimes does this, though she often just ties them up or knocks them unconscious instead.
- Mister Sinister did this to Kate Kildare, the team's PR specialist.
- Apocalypse had Tsuyoi, a friend of Namor's, killed so that he could steal the man's identity in order to get close to the Submariner.
- This has happened to Spider-Man, twice.
- During the story arc Kraven's Last Hunt, Kraven the Hunter seemingly kills Spider-Man him, and then proceeds to use the costume of the hero to prove himself a better vigilante. Spider-Man is revealed alive as he had been merely drugged, and confronts Kraven before the villain commits suicide.
- And then during the Superior Spider-Man comic series. Previously, Dr. Octopus had swapped bodies with Spider-Man, leaving the hero to die trapped in Ock's broken body and leaving the villain in a healthy, heroic body with no one realizing anything. Doc Ock uses his new life to constantly try to prove himself a superior Spider-Man. In the end of the series, Otto realizes Parker was better than him and lets him take control of his body once more.
- Also slightly related, but Chameleon does this as well. Similar to Jane Doe, he kidnaps and kills people and then spends a day living their lives.
- Diabolik's original modus operandi was to kill the man he was going to replace and then make a mask with his face. Nowadays he prefers kidnapping, but will resort to it again if he doesn't have the means to hold the victim.
- Among the many replacements, Walter Dorian deserves a special place for three reasons: Diabolik entered the series with his identity; as they looked completely identical, Diabolik did not need a mask; Walter Dorian survived but was held prisoner by a third party for completely unrelated reasons, and was not amused when he got free and was told what had happened.
- This is what Holographic Retro intended to do with the Calvin clone in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
- Subverted in the pony fanfic Envy And Arrogance - the shapeshifter insists that he only did the "replace" part (taking the role of the Ill Girl after she died) but he is still treated like a murderer. This proves pivotal to the plot as it turns out most of it was engineered with the goal of traumatizing him to the point that he will stop resisting possession, giving the Big Bad a shapeshifting body.
- The Wrong Reflection: Defied. In chapter 5 the possibility of Dal Kanril Eleya, a Klingon-Cardassian Alliance officer from the mirror universe, replacing Captain Kanril Eleya a la "Mirror, Mirror" is brought up and immediately discarded. Eleya has prominent scars that her counterpart doesn't, is a centimeter taller,* and her counterpart was raised mostly Cardassian and her thought patterns are different enough to be a giveaway to Chief Corpsman Watkins, an empath.
- In chapter 8 of Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja, Naruto, Kakashi and their new teammate Keiji henge into 3 Sound ninjas they killed to infiltrate Orochimaru's base, getting Sakura in by pretending she's a prisoner.
Films — Live-Action
- The T-1000 does this several times in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it being his standard M.O. to kill a victim and copy their appearance/voice: John Connor's foster mother, a security guard in the insane asylum where Sarah Connor was being held and, very nearly, Sarah herself and partially succeeds with Sarah in the climax, but John sees through it. Also used partially in the first film, where the T-800 kills and impersonates the voice of a cop as well as Sarah's mom.
- Futureworld, the sequel to Westworld. Clones are programmed with the knowledge of their original and ordered to kill them and take their places.
- Mystique does this several times (most notably to Henry Gyrich and Senator Robert Kelly) in the X-Men films. (Though in Kelly's case, this was more of a Dead Person Impersonation; he died in a completely unrelated accident, and Mystique only stole his identity after the fact).
- The titular characters in Invasion of the Body Snatchers do this.
- The title creature in The Thing (1982) is a cross between Kill And Replace and Puppeteer Parasite. It infects a host, slowly replacing them from the inside out until none of the original remains becoming just the form of a new "colony" of Thing cells.
- The Bug does this to Edgar in Men In Black by skinning him and donning his "nice new Edgar suit".
- In The Last Starfighter, an alien Zandozan assassin does this to a local law enforcement officer in order to blend in with the human population. After we see this we realize that the other Zandozan we saw in human form earlier must have done it to some unlucky human off screen.
- In the movie Krull a shapeshifter kills one of the hero's companions and takes his victim's place to get close to the hero and kill him.
- In Impostor (2001), Dr. Spencer Olham is accused of being an alien biorobot who has killed and replaced the scientist. They plan to prove themselves right by cutting him open to look for a biological bomb. He escapes and spends the rest of the movie trying to prove them wrong. They're right. Both he and his wife have been killed and replaced with the dopplegangers taking on the originals' memories. When he finds out the truth, the bomb in his chest explodes.
- In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Cobra Commander plans to have Master of Disguise Zartan murder the president and take his place. Semi-subverted in Retaliation. Zartan only replaces the President, but doesn't kill him. He was needed for retinal scanning to authorize the Cobra football.
- This forms part of Moriarty's plan in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, with plastic surgery involved for the "replace" part.
- Thunderball. SPECTRE uses plastic surgery to alter one of their henchmen, Angelo, to look like French military pilot Francois Derval. Angelo studies Derval for two years so he can pass for him, then murders him and takes his place aboard a NATO bomber with two nuclear bombs aboard. He kills the rest of the crew, flies the plane to the Bahamas and ditches it in the ocean so SPECTRE can steal the bombs.
- The doppleganger's standard M.O in The World's End.
- In Star Trek: Nemesis, Shinzon's backstory was he was a clone of Captain Picard who was created by the Romulans to kill and replace Picard, serving as a mole in the Federation. However, the mission was scrapped, and Shinzon was sent to the mines of Remus.
- Our Man Flint. Just before Flint leaves on his mission he discovers that three ZOWIE guards have been killed and replaced by Galaxy agents who have been changed to look like the victims by plastic surgery.
- The part-Energy Being aliens in the Interceptor Force TV films can do that. Sometimes, they will appear as a friendly just for kicks, despite the fact that the protagonist is already aware his real friend is dead. In the second film, this results in the protagonist's friend's death, when another character thinks he's been replaced and shoots an "anti-alien" gun at him, which kills humans just as well. The character ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice, thus earning her Death Equals Redemption, by willingly diving into a flooded reactor room to shut down the nukes places there by the alien, knowing that a horrible death from radiation exposure awaited her.
- A Ray Bradbury story, "Marionettes, Inc.", where a man buys a robot double to please his wife so he has more time to have fun. Eventually when he tries to put the robot back in the box after realizing the robot has fallen in love with his wife, the robot puts him in the box where he presumably dies.
- The Sweet Valley High book The Evil Twin was about a psychotic woman, Margo, who happened to look just like the Wakefield twins. She planned to kill Elizabeth and take her place. Then, in Return of the Evil Twin, Margo turned out to have a twin, Nora, also psychotic. This time Margo and Nora planned to take over the lives of both twins, but their plans went awry when they argued over who got to become Jessica.
- Another book was based around a woman trying to abduct Alice Wakefield, "steal" her face by way of impossible technology and then kill and replace her as revenge for being bullied by Alice and her friends when they were at school.
- The alien invader in John W. Campbell's short story "Who Goes There?", which was the inspiration for The Thing (1982) movies.
- Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures:
- One story arc contains a kind of inversion, where the copy is killed in order to have them replace the dead original. Sort of. So... Fitz gets separated from the rest of the characters, taken to the future against his will, for lack of anything better to do joins up with this group where if a member dies, they use this biomass stuff which is turned into the person based on what the other members remember about him or her. Unfortunately, the process is imperfect and anyway there is all kinds of other weirdness, so when Fitz turns up again, you wouldn't even believe he and the new version were brothers just looking at them, acts somewhat differently although some characters mention that he seems familiar, and has almost none of his memories. So they use the "remembering" process to turn the messed-up copy of Fitz into almost the same person Fitz was before. Fitz could be happier with this arrangement.
- Also done with a whole different twist: a Creepy Child is traveling across The Multiverse, giving people's unhappy Alternate Universe counterparts the opportunity to replace happier versions of themselves, thoroughly subverting Expendable Alternate Universe along the way.
- It comes up in the Virgin story ''Love and War'' where it's revealed the Seventh Doctor triggered his previous incarnation's regeneration as he felt the time had come for him to appear, has he was more ruthless and thought himself better suited to fight the evil of the Universe.
- Dune had Bene Tleilax Face Dancers, shape-shifters who absorb their victim's memories and physical identity and then kill them. This is far from being the creepiest aspect of the Bene Tleilax. It plays a major role in the plot against Paul in Dune Messiah, the attacks on Leto II and the Ixian Embassy in God-Emperor of Dune and several infiltrations in Heretics of Dune.
- A 'kidnap and replace' variant of this appears in the German SF novel Der Verbannte von Asyth, whose plot revolves largely around aliens replacing important individuals on Earth with masked infiltrators of their own kind. The originals are kept alive at the aliens' hidden base and thus remain conveniently available for questioning.
- Subverted in a surprisingly cruel fashion in Good Night, Mr. James, which even the author admitted was a little vicious. Rather than risk his own life killing the alien he accidentally released, a scientist makes a duplicate of himself to kill it, with plans to kill the duplicate afterwards. The duplicate succeeds in killing him, but finds out immediately afterwards that he was poisoned and there's no antidote.
- In HP Lovecraft's The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward the main character Charles Dexter Ward uses arcane knowledge left by his infamous identical great-great-grandfather to revive him who procedes to Kill And Replace him. The identical grandfather is lampshaded in the story with mentions of the how uncanny their resemblance.
- In a short story by Paul Jennings, the narrator tells of his troubles with a duplicate that had all his memories and kept trying to take over his life because it thought it was him, so that in the end he had to kill it in self-defence. The end of the story implies that it's the narrator who was the duplicate.
- Horza, the main character in Iain Banks' Consider Phlebas is a member of a human subspecies called Changers, who have biological faculties that allow them to take on the appearance of other humanoids (although it takes a lot of concentration and food to complete a change). Horza in particular has been trained as a spy, so he also keenly observes his targets so that when he kills and replaces them he copies not only their appearance but their personality and mannerisms. Sadly, his otherwise perfect cover is blown twice when an enemy spy shows up.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort's pet snake Nagini kills Bathilda Bagshot and animates her body from inside her corpse as a trap for Harry & Co.
- The Polyjuice potion is a less heinous form of this. It's used to replace someone, but whoever you're impersonating has to be alive when you take their hair or other part, so you have to keep them alive if you want to look like them for more than an hour. In practice, it's Capture And Replace.
- Kandra do this in Mistborn, though in an odd variation, they are bound by Thou Shall Not Kill — their employers must provide the corpse. Whether or not they participate in the Cold-Blooded Torture that generally goes on first (in order to root out any secrets necessary to make the impersonation successful) isn't mentioned. In the second book one kandra does this to another, which is naturally highly effective as the kandra almost never display their real personality or appearance anyway. In this case the kandra does the killing itself, believing the rule only applies to humans (his superiors end up disagreeing vehemently.)
- "The Hanging Stranger" by Philip K. Dick featured a man who had been working in his basement for days emerging and heading into town, only to spot a body hanging by a noose from a lamppost in the middle of the town square. He starts freaking out, mainly because nobody else seems to notice or care. It quickly becomes apparent that something has infected or replaced almost everyone else in town as the opening of a secret invasion. The guy eludes a manhunt, desperately trying to get to the next town over to warn them before it's too late. The story ends as he is being debriefed by the police of the neighboring town about his story. Just as it dawns on him that the corpse in the town square must have been a trap to get people like him (those missed for whatever reason during the wave of Kill And Replace) to out themselves by their reactions, one of the policemen walks in with a noose all ready for him...
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's Autumn Visits, six people find themselves face-to-face with the Envoys, who look just like them. Five of them (Kindness, Knowledge, Art, Strength, and Growth) cooperate with the originals, while the Envoy of Power simply shoots the politician he is duplicating with his own gun and takes his place. When later asked why, he simply replies that, while the other Forces only grow stronger with numbers, Power must be concentrated and never shared.
- One of the many, many Epileptic Trees regarding The Final Problem states that Moriarty killed Holmes at Reichenbach Falls and then took his place. How did Watson not pick up on this? The same reason Valley of Fear doesn't quite gel with previous accounts: Moriarty totally befuddled his wits. And where did all the subsequent short stories come from? Well, it turns out that Holmes' usual schtick was actually a pretty appealing way for Moriarty to use all that brainpower. Just ever-so-slightly more evil about it. (Sad part? There are a lot of Holmesian scholars crazier than this.)
- Bimbos of the Death Sun has a Red Herring scene where someone starts screaming bloody murder; it turns out to be a game of Dungeons & Dragons where one player murdered another just before his wedding and used a shapeshifting amulet to take his place.
- In Empire from the Ashes, Dahak destroyed our original Moon and took its place.
- Wild Cards. Third generation swarmlings could kill people and change their own shape to take their place.
- Galaxy of Fear: The Planet Plague: Another case of Capture and Replace. The real Doctor Kavafi was imprisoned for months so a villainous Shi'ido could replace him but still call on what he knew.
- The Breen-controlled androids in Star Trek: Cold Equations book two, which take on the forms of Siro Kinshal and Esperanza Piñiero
- In Animorphs, David rips out Rachel and Jake's critically injured cousin Saddler out of life support, hides his body, and morphs him so he can have a temporary home. He tries to downplay his horrible deed by saying that Saddler would have died anyway even with medical attention (his condition was that bad). It doesn't work. From that point on, both the narrative and the Animorphs lose all sympathy for David and don't see him as anything but a villain.
- Dr. Perseus Friend in By Royal Command takes over the appearance of one Graf Otto von Schlick by first burning him badly as he has been in the past, and then having him killed in a burn ward where they both are taken. The switch is complete after the plastic surgery meant for the Graf is done on him.
- In Bioshock Rapture it's revealed that the character that players of the game know as "Frank Fontaine" actually murdered the real Frank Fontaine in order to take over his fishing business and gain access to Rapture. Though "Fontaine's" real first name is indeed "Frank" (which he lampshades), his real last name is never revealed (it's even mentioned that only a handful of of people in the world know it) .
- In Kurt Steel's The Imposter a group of Nazi agents intend to do this to the main character, who runs an airplane factory, but they fail when a separate group of agents whose intentions are merely to kill him ends up killing the double instead.
- In Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives and its 1975 film adaptation (though not in the 2004 remake), the Men's Association in Stepford is doing this to their wives, replacing them with docile robot servants who won't threaten their status by doing such "uppity" things like getting jobs or showing interest in the women's movement.
- In Smallville, Bizarro tries to do this to Clark, and ended up having a month of his life when the latter got locked up in the Fortress. Brainiac did something similar to Kara, but when Clark accuses him of killing her, he says it is "much worse".
- In Heroes, Sylar the super serial killer is also doing this now that he's a shapeshifter. There's also an incredibly messed-up inversion of this trope: after he murders Nathan in the Volume 4 finale, Angela and Noah convince Matt to use his mental powers to force him to become Nathan. Kill And Replacement Goldfish, basically.
- James Martin (the shapeshifter Sylar stole his power from) played it straight and inverted it. He killed and replaced one of Danko's soldiers, then when he impersonated Sylar, Sylar killed him and used his still-morphed body to fake his death.
- This was the Autons' plan in the classic Doctor Who serial "Spearhead from Space": creating plastic duplicates of prominent public figures in order to replace them.
- The Slitheen do this in the 2005 revival, adapting their victims' skin into suits which they use to masquerade in their place.
- Attempted by Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the season 4 episode "This Year's Girl" - using a device from the Mayor, she switches bodies with Buffy, leaves 'Faith' in custody and plans to skip the country using her new face. Only a fortuitous news report about vampires holding a church full of people hostage and the music of impending redemption stop her getting away with it.
- Pulled off for the bulk of the second season of Alias, beginning with the episode "Phase One", where Francie is murdered and replaced by Allison Doren, a women genetically altered to look identical to her. For the second half of the season Allison spies on Sydney, kills Diane Dixon, uses Will to steal CIA secrets then frames him as the real clone, only to be caught out by coffee-flavoured ice-cream. Used again without the 'kill' part in season 5, when oft-recurring villain Anna Espinosa is morphed into a clone of Sydney using the same technique, which allows her to kill Renée and track down Vaughan before the real Sydney catches up to her and shoots her right in the head.
- Hawaii Five-0 episode "Labyrinth". As part of a kidnap plot, a woman has plastic surgery to look like a wealthy socialite. She then murders and disposes of the victim and tries to take her place.
- The Worm creatures in Kamen Rider Kabuto do this. They also take their victims' memories and can use them to Shapeshifter Guilt Trip their enemies. Note that they occasionally do the "replace" before they're done with the killing, as seen in one episode where a Worm victim manages to survive and the heroes have to Spot the Impostor.
- In Fringe, Charlie Francis is murdered offscreen by a shapeshifter, who proceeds to impersonate him for several episodes. This happens to several other side characters at varying points, including a US Senator.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
- Several individuals relevant to the timeline are murdered by T-888 infiltrator models whose outer flesh Skynet can shape into perfect copies of anyone in the 21st century.
- Cromartie loses his initial outer flesh and uses plastic surgery to impersonate & kill George Lazlo.
- The T-1001 model is a slightly more advanced "liquid metal" version who murders a wealthy couple, impersonates the wife, and starts running their company while raising their daughter.
- Cameron's original purpose was to impersonate a future resistance fighter named Allison. Though not outright stated, it is implied that Allison was an intimate of John Connor, and Cameron's purpose was to get close to him and assassinate him. After questioning Allison about her past, Cameron breaks her neck.
- Used by a Loony Fan of London Tipton in The Suite Life on Deck, although here it's more like "Lock In A Closet And Replace".
- A similar incident happened in Big Time Rush.
- Lost plays this a little differently with the Man in Black who cannot kill any of the Candidates himself creating a plan that will result in John Locke's death at the hands (literally) of Ben Linus and allow the Man in Black to take on his form.
- The Big Bad of the Russian series Dossier On Detective Dubrovsky employs this tactic boosted Up to Eleven. With the help of a brilliant plastic surgeon he gradually has all the deputies of the State Duma kidnapped, murdered and then replaced with identical twins made from his minions.
- On Monk, a man has an affair with a woman who is a dead ringer for his wife. He plans a trip with the wife; the mistress/lookalike kills the wife at the airport and the husband dumps the body. She then takes the wife's seat on the plane, essentially giving them an 'alibi' by making it seem like he and the wife were on the plane together.
- One episode of Law & Order had a woman on trial for killing her sister; it was revealed midway throughout the trial that she was, in fact, the 'dead' sister, having switched identities with her to avoid some mobsters.
- A very similar plot on an episode of SVU, although the woman did not kill her sister, but did assume her identity as a means of hiding from the man who had.
- Cold Case: The detectives learned that one of their victims (the wife part of a married couple) was masquerading as one of their friends (it was she who had died along with the husband) as a way to escape prosecution for a crime she and the hsuband had been involved in years earlier.
- CSI episode "Pirates of the Third Reich": a man killed his twin brother, took on his identity and kept his corpse on ice to fake his own death after he killed Lady Heather's daughter.
- The Outer Limits (1963) episode "The Hundred Days of the Dragon". An Asian government kills a U.S. Presidential candidate and replaces him with an imposter whose face has been molded to match the candidate's by use of a chemical.
- The Outer Limits (1995):
- "Alien Radio" had a talk show host interview a man who claimed to know of a conspiracy which replaced prominent figures with clones loyal to the creators. At the end of the episode, the "conspiracy nut" is killed, at which point the shocked host sees a duplicate of himself wearing the same clothes. The final scene is a report by the clone who dismisses the claims of the "nut" who has "killed himself".
- The reveal of "Something About Harry" was that the mysterious tenant at a teenager's (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) house, who was going around killing people around town, was in fact a government agent who had been hunting these types of aliens. In a further reveal, it turns out that the boy's mother (who had been skeptical of the whole thing), not the agent, had in fact been impersonated by another one of these aliens.
- In season 7 of Supernatural, the favored tactic of the Leviathan.
- Kill and replace is also a go-to tactic for many of the numerous shapeshifters encountered throughout the series.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: One episode had a Monster of the Week who was described as a "coalescent organism", a shapeshifter that preyed on other lifeforms by eating all their biomass and then assuming their forms to be beneath suspicion before it repeats the process. Interestingly, the two people suspected of being the coalescent turn out to be innocent, and it's revealed to have taken the shape of a dog.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Founders use this tactic to infiltrate and sow chaos among "solids", though not all of their replacements involve killing the original (General Martok turned up alive a season later). One Founder told Captain Sisko that they had been able to completely disrupt and drive Earth into rampant paranoia with just 4 shapeshifters on a planet of billions.
- Person of Interest featured a serial killer that did this. The Machine gave all of the various victims. Things very nearly end badly when he tries to replace Harold.
- Parodied on the [adult swim] original series Newsreaders, with a quote from Skip Reming:
- The Flash (2014): It's revealed late in the first season that Dr. Harrison Wells was murdered more than a decade earlier by Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash, so that Thawne could take on Wells' appearance and identity as part of his plan.
- A favoured tactic of the Mysterons in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- This happens in any adventure in which a doppelganger monster appears, because killing people and replacing them is their modus operandi.
- Also used by Sivak draconians in the Dragonlance setting.
- Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix supplement. A Randara chooses a human victim that has the respect of and power over other humans. It uses ESP to read the victim's mind, then kills and eats the victim. It then takes the victim's shape and takes their place in society, using their victim's prestige to obtain more human prey.
- 3rd Edition Creature Collection. The Skin Devil kills a victim, removes a two inch square patch of skin and uses it to grow an outer skin to match the victim's.
- Visages found in the Libris Mortis are well suited to this. It gets a very large bonus to disguise and bluff to assume the identify of something it killed, as well as being good at the skills of its victim, but it can't use its foes' abilities though.
- The Chill adventure Veil of Flesh had the Ganabe monster, which gains power by murdering human beings and takes the form of its latest victim. The monsters in the adventure took the form of Secret Service agents and police officers in a plot to assume the form of the leaders of France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the U.S.
- Exalted: The Lunars have the ability to become any creature by ritualistically stalking it, killing it, and drinking its heart's blood. This same quality applies to humans, but only that particular human. Lunars do have access to shapeshifting Knacks, however, that allow them to refine the process, such as assuming the person's fate as well as their appearance, allowing them to change their clothing and hairstyle as they wish, and even being able to turn into the person temporarily by just taking a small sip of their blood (or, at higher levels, just by having sex with them).
- Call of Cthulhu features a spell that allows its caster to take on the semblance of a recently deceased person...by ritually consuming the corpse over the course of several days.
- Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980's British science fiction comic. The sample adventure in the main rules, "The Shapechangers of Charon", is about a single Shapechanger who kills and takes the place of a number of characters aboard the starship HMS Traveller.
- The plot of the sample mini-campaign in the Savage Worlds pulp genre supplement Thrilling Tales relies on another "kidnap and replace" version of this. In this case the shapeshifting effect is ultimately temporary and only a living original can be copied again.
- Continuum - Roleplaying in the Yet. Narcissists will sometimes use the Cuckoo technique. They pretend to be the elders (older version) of young spanners (time travelers) and lure the spanners to a remote location in order to kill them. One of the narcissists then takes the place of the murdered spanner. Narcissists have taken over entire corners (groups of spanners) using this technique.
- Arduin, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. The Doppelganger is a quasi-living magical creation that is made to look like a specific target creature. It is designed to seek out, murder and take the place of that creature, and it does this very well.
- In Final Fantasy IV this was done to the king of Baron before the events of the game start (although naturally the game never used the word "kill").
- The malevolent alien entity of Final Fantasy VII, Jenova. During a Great Offscreen War, Jenova used its shapeshifting abilities to get closer to its targets, harvesting them into monsters with the same ability. Needless to say, civilization collapsed. Fortunately, the Cetra were able to contain Jenvoa before it could consume the whole planet via this method.
- Treskton in The Nameless Mod is a being created through the countless misspellings and mispronunciations of Trestkon's name and seeks to kill Trestkon, then take his place.
- In Soul Calibur III you can fight shadows as bonus fights (and one mandatory one in Zasalamel's story), as they damage the player, the player slowly becomes shadowed themselves while the doppelganger becomes more and more real.
- This is part of one of Gomez's conspiracy theories in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (read it here).
- Doopliss the Duplighost in Chapter 4 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, after being (supposedly) defeated by Mario, takes Mario's appearance and name and tries to erase Mario himself.
- The final stages of the original Baldur's Gate were beset by doppelgangers who killed prominent people in and around Baldur's Gate and assumed their identities to support the Iron Throne.
- [PROTOTYPE]. You approach your target (an officer or some other guy with what you need) and tear him apart while extracting not only his appearance (including clothes) but also his memories. And there is a stealth version, where you kill your victim and step forwards into their disintegrating body. If no military personnel see you in the exact moment, they won't even notice the change. Makes stealth missions quite easy, and with a bit of patience you can wipe out an entire military base this way without ever raising the alarm. All that's left is a pile of discarded weapons.
- Also, Cross is taken out this way and impersonated by The Dragon, the Supreme Hunter, near the end of the game.
- The Snatchers from Snatcher has this as their primary MO.
- Ditto has gained, over the generations, abilities that allow it to instantly transform into an enemy. If it gets to make the first move, whatever Pokèmon your opponent was using is now yours to use.
- Traffic Department 2192 has a heroic version. The primary antagonist faction are Alien Invaders who've wiped out countless societies. One of those societies, a species of Shapeshifting Silicon-Based Life, isn't completely gone, and seeks to replace the invaders' emperor and redeem the invaders from within.
- In Mass Effect 2, Morinth can kill and replace her mother Samara.
- Also, in the Lair of the Shadow Broker, Liara replaces the current Shadow Broker after killing him, though this has less to do with physical similarity (since nobody alive has ever seen the Broker) and more with similar styles of work and strict secrecy, making it impossible for the Broker's agents to notice the change. Since it wasn't pre-planned, however (or so she claims), this partly falls into the You Kill It, You Bought It category.
- The same thing happened to the original Shadow Broker, whom the Yahg killed and replaced.
- In the Citadel DLC of Mass Effect 3, the main villain is a clone of Shepard who is attempting to do this to the original. However their attitude and ways would have been so inaccurate the Shepard VI which is highly regarded as being seven percent accurate would have done a better job. Shepard even claims that Conrad Verner would do a better job. This is referenced consistently, showing what exactly makes Shepard, Shepard.
- In Team Fortress 2, it's possible when playing as a Spy to kill the player you are disguised as. In fact, you even get an achievement for it! One of his knives, "Your Eternal Reward" silently kills the enemy, phases their corpse out of existence, and disguises him as the victim instantaneously. Keep a close eye on that Medic of yours.
- Even sneakier, it also doesn't give normal kill notifications and spoofs various other effects.
- Strangely inverted with the Spy watch, the "Dead Ringer". You can't see when an enemy Spy pulls it out, but when he does, and you shoot him, the Spy instantly "dies", turning invisible and leaving behind a fake corpse (with a fake kill notification!). This leaves the Spy free to escape from a bad situation or go assassinate another target.
- Happens accidentally in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All. In the second case, it's found out that when Ini and Mimi Miney got in a car accident, Ini died. Mimi, scarred with the burns, is accidentally reconstructed through plastic surgery to look like her sister. Mimi takes advantage of this so that she can forget the horrible life she had beforehand.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , Bobby Fullbright is killed long before he meets Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena by a spy only known as The Phantom. The killer snatches Fullbright's identity shortly afterward.
- The Foxhound Unit from Metal Gear Solid is known to utilize this tactic, most notably when Ocelot "accidentally" kills DARPA cheif Donald Anderson then has Decoy Octopus impersonate the dead man.
- This is the whole modus operandi for the Metroid series' X Parasites, and there's a very real threat of them doing so on a galactic scale.
- The original MechWarrior 2 had players do this as part of one of the campaigns. Piloting an identical 'Mech, the player had to kill the enemy patrol 'Mech and take its place to get near to the actual target, the facility it was guarding, without blowing their cover (which happened to many, many trigger-happy players).
- Ninetails in Ōkami murders a priestess and takes her place. The priestess' ghost eventually finds the heroine Amaterasu and reveals the truth, though not before Ninetails murders another heroine who is attempting to discover Ninetails' stronghold.
- Operatives in Brink activate their 'Disguise' ability by scanning an enemy's corpse, then taking on that character's appearance.
- One of Yuri's plots in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Yuri's Revenge involves replacing world leaders with clones.
- In Super Monday Night Combat, former MNC announcer Mickey Cantor has escaped from prison and his exact whereabouts are unknown. Rumors abound, including one that killed and (with the aid of plastic surgery) replaced the Pope.
- Standard M.O. of Undine infiltrators (better know as Species 8472 of Star Trek: Voyager) in Star Trek Online, as The Iconians were performing a False Flag Operation towards the race and pissed them off enough to invade the other quadrants. On three separate occasions in-game they've killed members of Starfleet or the Federation diplomatic corps, and the Gorn Hegemony leadership in the backstory was infested with them. The infiltration problem was discovered when they tried it on KDF officer Ja'rod, son of Torg, but underestimated his badassery.
- In Mega Man X: Command Mission, it's revealed near the end of the game that Spider was actually Colonel Redips the entire time. Since the game implies that he was well known throughout Giga City prior to the events of the game, and thus wasn't just an identity that Redips cooked up to infiltrate the group, this trope is most likely in effect.
- Envy demons in Dragon Age fixate on targets of high status and study them at length, so that when they eventually take their form and leave the original to rot in a ditch somewhere, few will think to question their actions — and those that do wouldn't dare. The one encountered in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a subversion. The original Lord Seeker Lucius allowed the demon to replace him so he could join a cult of Omnicidal Maniacs, having lost his mind when he learned the Dark Secret of the Seekers. Since Envy Demons are never satisfied for long, being reflections of envy, it is not content with its current form and has chosen a new target: the Inquisitor.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the Imperial Agent storyline, you meet one of your contacts on the Planet Voss who turns out to be another Imperial operative impersonating a local tea shop owner. While the fate of the original is never mentioned, given how the Sith Empire operates, he's probably dead. The spy then underwent surgeries to alter his appearance so that he looked like a member of the Voss species, and the tea shop owner specifically. He even steals the original's family, raising his children and everything.
- A variation in Darths & Droids: a character kills another and takes his place, and conveniently the dead character turns out to be a shapeshifter, and this is assumed to be a new shape. (The dead character is a green-skinned alien named Han Solo. The character who takes his place is a human who looks like Harrison Ford called Greedo. Don't ask who shot first...)
- Brawl in the Family gives us a non-lethal version to explain why the Pikachu in Brawl has goggles just like the Pichu from Melee.
- Implied to be a regular occurrence in Two Guys and Guy.
- The Fox Sister: It's the Kumiho's modus operandi. She apparently researches and watches people she intends to copy, collecting an album full of photos for reference.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series two part episode "Heart of Steel," the evil computer HARDAC decided that humans were too dangerous due to their imperfections and began replacing them. While it was planning on killing its victims once it had extracted all the information it could, they are ultimately rescued before it can do so.
- A follow-up episode featured HARDAC's final creation, a robotic duplicate of Bruce Wayne/Batman activating long after its initial defeat. The duplicate lacked a complete memory file, and thus believed itself to be the REAL Batman until it learned otherwise. It then began trying to carry on HARDAC's mission by eliminating Batman and replacing him. Turns out, HARDAC did too good a job copying Bruce Wayne's mind, and the robotic duplicate can't handle the guilt of thinking it actually killed a human being (Batman was actually ok though) and self-terminated).
- The second season episode of Mega Man, "Bro Bots", involved a plot by Dr. Wily to replace the city's officials with robotic duplicates.
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Spongedoodle", Spongebob's living-drawing duplicate goes crazy after nearly being erased, and tries to take Spongebob's place.
Doodlebob: YOU DOODLE! ME SPONGEBOB!
- In The Cleveland Show, is revealed that the real Cleveland jr. was killed by a spy who has replaced him doing so to get close to Tim the Bear. This explains why his appearance is different from Family Guy.
- An episode of The Real Ghostbusters has ghosts that take the form of the original Ghostbusters, in their original uniforms no less, trying to kill them.
- Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, where the family sets up a dummy of Homer outside to find out who would want to kill him. After several of Homer's enemies beat on it, Homer himself destroys the dummy, proclaiming "Once I kill you, everyone will think I'm the real Homer!".
- In Young Justice, this is said to be the standard procedure of Project Cadmus. Though of the three Cadmus clones seen so far, two of them explicitly didn't have the original killed.
- Slavemaking ants follow a gory form of brood parasitism: the queen sneaks into the hive of an ant colony, kills off the original queen and takes on her pheromones, fooling the colony's current ant crop into becoming her servants, raising and feeding the queen's offspring.
- Cuckoo birds push the eggs out of another birds' nest, then lay their own in their place.
- The Capgras syndrome is a psychiatric and neurological disorder in which a person believes that one of their close ones (spouse, parent, friend) has been replaced by an identical double.