Meet the New Boss
"Fortune, you and the rest of Dead Cell stand in for the FOXHOUND squad that Snake took on in Shadow Moses. You're the most impressive collection of freaks outside of FOXHOUND."...same as the old boss. This is what happens when old villains are replaced with new villains who nevertheless use a suspiciously similar modus operandi and have similar flaws. The Trope Namer is The Who song "Won't Get Fooled Again" which uses this exact trope, though with political and revolution overtones. Can be a result of a Post-Script Season, a Retool, or Sequelitis. Sub-Trope of Suspiciously Similar Substitute. Compare with Full-Circle Revolution, when this happens to La Résistance after a successful coup. See also He Who Fights Monsters for where the new boss didn't start out the same as the old boss, but became that way in the process of deposing him. Contrast Charlie Brown from Outta Town in Professional Wrestling, where the new guy is the old guy with a Paper-Thin Disguise. If it turns out the new boss is actually a pawn of the old boss, then you have Hijacked by Ganon.
—Revolver Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The last three seasons of Sailor Moon each revolved around a different group of villains looking for a MacGuffin needed to achieve world domination. They did so by extracting different manifestations of a "soul" from random humans in the hope of getting the special one they were seeking, but most of the time ended up only getting blanks. Particularly egregious in the final season: Sailor Galaxia knew perfectly where the True Starseeds (the MacGuffins of the season) were, but didn't tell her minions just to enjoy the show.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann went from fighting a corrupt village chief who repressed the villagers, supposedly for their own good, to fighting a deranged God-king who repressed humanity, supposedly for their own good, to fighting a deranged alien race who repressed sentient life in general, supposedly for their own good. The same events and themes reoccurring with escalation is part of the overlying "Spiral" theme of the show itself, so it's probably safe to assume that this was entirely deliberate.
- The Dragon Ball universe: King Piccolo, Vegeta and Freeza. It all goes like this: Big Bad wants Dragon Balls, Goku and company (including the previous arc's Big Bad) fight a series of mooks and various lieutenants until the Dragon Balls are no longer an issue and then they fight the Big Bad himself. Piccolo Jr. (who is fought between King Piccolo and Vegeta) is an exception because he doesn't want the Dragon Balls and he doesn't have any subordinates. He simply wants revenge on Goku.
- Younger Toguro and Sensui from YuYu Hakusho. Both Death Seekers who wanted Yusuke to defeat them. Both have existential crises based around What Measure Is a Non-Human?. Two differences: Toguro was looking for power, and Sensui had already found it, but had pretty much gone nuts doing so, and Sensui wanted to go somewhere before he was killed. The main difference is, Toguro was a demon who wanted to be killed by a human, while Sensui was a human who wanted to be killed by a demon. Lucky for them, Yusuke is both.
- Pokémon had Team Aqua/Magma in the 3rd games, and Galactic in the 4th. Both wanted to capture and control the version specific Legendary, the former two to expand the size of the ocean/land the latter because their leader wanted to become a god. Not technically true in Emerald or Platinum, where the evil teams succeed in their plots and the version mascot shows up to save the day. All three groups are stand-ins for the 1st game's Team Rocket, which wanted to capture any and all rare and/or powerful Pokemon, and in the anime created their own Legendary, Mewtwo, in order to rule the world.
- Subverted in Death Note where the lines and appearances between good and evil are repeatedly blurred and questioned. Misa sort of fits this trope from L's perspective when she becomes the second Kira but operates less methodically and for different reasons from Kira so that L has to shift his focus in the investigation. From Light's perspective, pending L's death, Near and Mello.
- The Principality of Zeon from Mobile Suit Gundam is a Nazi-esque military dictatorship that aims to rule the solar system while proclaiming the superiority of space-born humans over ones born on Earth. The Titans from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam are a Nazi-esque military dictatorship that aim to rule the solar system while proclaiming the superiority of Earth-born humans over ones born in space. What a huge change!
- Micronauts spent the first 30-odd issues disposing the tyrant Baron Karza (the black-armored centauriod figure in the collection). Once they had finally deposed the Baron, leading hero Force-Commander (the white-armored centauriod) did a Face-Heel Turn and became the new Big Bad.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog, after spending 50+ issues fighting Dr. Robotnik, he's finally done in by a combination of a Duel to the Death with Sonic and his nephew Snively, who was acting as The Starscream. Twenty-Five issues and minor dealings with wanna-be Big Bad Ixis Naugus, the new villain shows up... Robo-Robotnik, a Robotnik from another universe, who takes over and takes up the name Dr. Eggman.
- Gold Digger: A megalomaniacal sky pirate is poised to inherit an entire colony by dictatorial monarchy. In a strange turn of events, her sister is implied to have even MORE potential as a tyrant (she summoned a giant golem relic from the island - don't ask), but while the pirate's Dragon and Dragon's love rival are dueling, said sister is imprisoned thanks to the Dragon's love rival. Sky Pirate queen starts out her inauguration speech moments later by proposing an economic revitalization plan in exchange for her absolute rule - and then decides to drop the act and just get straight to the "I am the boss of you" part.
- In Tintin, it's made clear that when Alcazar takes over San Theodoros from Tapioca, nothing really changes. They just alter sings that read "Viva Tapioca" to "Viva Alcazar" and change the soldiers' uniforms slightly.
- In the James Bond franchise, there is some similarity between Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me) and Drax (Moonraker). Both have visions of a utopia, both intend to use mass genocide to create them, both use respectable business fronts, both of them employ Jaws... Moonraker was basically just The Spy Who Loved Me IN SPACE!. Also, Stromberg's plot in The Spy Who Loved Me is similar to Blofeld's plot in You Only Live Twice in the attempts to start an all-out war between the United States and Russia. And all three were directed by the same director!
- Friday the 13th
- Jason replacing his own mother as the slasher in the sequels with the same M.O. and a related motive.
- Roy Burns from Part V (Following Jason being "killed"... for one film) would be a more "traditional" example. When disguised as Jason, Roy not only used his M.O. but also acted like Jason; silently determined instead of deceptive, crazy-violent and motive-hissing.
- Mega Mind: After Titan defeats Megamind, the Mayor hails him as a hero. Titan corrects him, saying that Metrocity is "under new management."
- At the end of the Discworld novel Night Watch, Homicidal Lord Winder is replaced by the (soon to be known as) Mad Lord Snapcase, who immediately goes on to prove himself just as bad as his predecessor when he orders the main character's death. Mister Slant, the leader of the Guild of Lawyers, even lampshades this when he says the trope name in Canis Latinicus.
- Hell, they just come right out and say it in English, too.
- In The Belgariad, the people of Nyissa actively and ruthlessly engineer this: In order to ensure their Queen's Legacy Immortality, they train 20 girls into behaving, acting, and thinking like her. When the Queen dies (which means they killed her because her age started showing), they pick the best impersonator and kill the 19 others, starting the cycle anew.
- In Michael Flynn's Spiral Arm novel On the Razor's Edge, Donovan learns that Padaborn's revolt triggered many power shifts among the Names, to contain the problem, with new faces, much of which had passed unnoticed. Later, he learns that he is not Padaborn after amnesia, but one of his trusted lieutenants, betrayed to the Names; Padaborn himself went on to become one of the Names he revolted against.
- Stargate SG-1 has the Goa'uld and the Ori. Both pretend to be gods, both want to rule the universe.
- The Ori actually have great power as a result of being ascended, while the Goa'uld used (stolen) technology to imitate godlike powers. The show makes it clear that the Ori are most definitely NOT gods, though.
- Before that, the horrific Sokar, a Goa'uld overlord banished by his kin for his great evil and now back for vengeance, was replaced by... the horrific Anubis, a Goa'uld overlord banished by his kin for his great evil and now back for vengeance. And they were even played by the same actor!
- Especally egregious because the showrunner of SGA and later seasons of SG-1 was not fond of the Goa'uld. Yes, let's get rid of the "ridiculous Goa'uld," as he put it, and replace them with... an advanced evil alien race who masquerade as gods and subjugate primitive humans! And whose minions have staff-like weapons. We've never seen that before, right? Even the Wraith qualify - Goa'uld-ish voices and human servants being "worshipers" makes them more numerous Goa'uld with vampire flavoring. Yes, there are staff-style Wraith stunners in addition to the smaller ones. Oh, then we find out that different hives have different queens and they don't like each other but alliances can be made and... we basically re-introduce Goa'uld politics using Wraith Queens as System Lords.
- Power Rangers was positively horrible about this while it was still set on Earth. It starts out with Rita Repulsa, whose motivation was to conquer Earth starting with Angel Grove, sticking to the tactic of sending the same squad of incompetent Putties and a single Monster of the Aesop in easily defeated waves. Once she got usurped by Lord Zedd, he pretty much just maintained the same status quo. They were then replaced with the Machine Empire, who pretty much did the exact same things. Turbo comes along and we meet the new threat, Divatox, who also quickly settles into doing the same things (often with a bomb thrown in somewhere for good measure.) She's followed by Astronema. The leader of the Legion of Doom chooses a newcomer to go after the Rangers, and she starts out by laying waste to NASADA and trying to take out the Rangers' shuttle... but soon settles into doing exactly the same things as the others, for at least the first half of the season.
After the Zordon era, taking on the Super Sentai formula in which a new season equals total overhaul, sometimes the Big Bad within a series will be defeated and a new one will come to power. It will be a momentous occasion... but the first episode after the transition will also consist of the new villain using the same methods as the first. Power Rangers Wild Force was a bit different, though, with Mandilok being much more proactive than Master Org. We know by now that the formula isn't going anywhere. From one season to the next, every villain will follow the same tactics. But we wouldn't have it any other way.
- House of Cards (UK). After Prime Minister Urquhart is assassinated by corrupt Special Branch officers, Commander Corder offers his services to Tom Makepeace, who is set to become the new PM.
- This was lampooned in Super Mario RPG. The opening level has the player liberating Peach from Bowser's Castle (as per usual). After Bowser is displaced by an even worse foe, he winds up at the foot of Booster's Tower, sadly reminiscing about the good old days. We soon see that Peach, who vanished in the same kerfuffle which left Bowser homeless, is stuck on the tower's peak. Booster, another horned weirdo, has decided to marry her for no discernible reason.
- The first Shadow Hearts game. In the first half of the game, you stop an ethnically stereotypical Chinese magus who wants to summon an incredibly powerful celestial being to remake/destroy the world. In the second half, you stop an ethnically stereotypical British magus who wants to summon an incredibly powerful celestial being to remake/destroy the world. The game itself notes this, as Albert Simon states outright he's doing what Dehuai tried to do - just correctly this time.
- Early in the game's existence, City of Heroes had a Nazi group known as the 5th Column as one of the many different villain factions players could encounter. They would later be taken over by the Council, a group that, while adding a few new enemy types to its arsenal like the Galaxy division, was otherwise just a more generic Palette Swap of the Column with different names. To the point where fans keep accusing the creators of censoring Nazis. The 5th Column has been undergoing a resurgence, though, starting with their appearance in a few time-travel related Task Force arcs, to being revived under new leadership, and most recently, they have begun appearing in the streets again, usually beating up Council members.
- The bosses in The King of Fighters games. There will always be a scheme that will somehow involve gathering energy from the fighters in the tournament- from using it to resurrect Orochi to destroy mankind to using the energy to fire a space cannon to fire laser beams to Southtown. Oh and they all have the SNK Boss Syndrome as well.
- Near the end of Jade Empire, Sun Li the Glorious Strategist shows up, hijacks the previous villain's plan to lead the Empire to glory with the Water Dragon's power.
- Every Devil May Cry game since the first features a human seeking to exploit the power of demons to become a demon himself.
- The main villains in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II were Xehanort's Heartless and Xehanort's Nobody Xemnas, respectively. Both their plans involve collecting hearts, making you run around fixing different worlds that could be destroyed by their actions, causing some awfully similar enemies to attack people and even their appearance is the same although they are still individuals in their own right and work independently.
- In BioShock, when Jack kills Andrew Ryan, Frank Fontaine takes over Ryan Industries. And in BioShock 2, Sofia Lamb ends up being Not So Different from Ryan despite them having polar opposite ideologies: Ryan doesn't care about his underlings individually because "look out for number one" is his motto, while Lamb takes the "collective good" so far that to her, one person's life is meaningless.
- Lampshaded in Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea, along with all the other similarities in the Shared Universe. Booker doesn't peg Elizabeth for the type to apply for Rapture citzenship; not capitalist enough. Elizabeth drolly answers that she's seen enough personality cults... ("Just another set of fanatics with another set of books.")
- Supplementary materials for Max Payne 3 state that the Cracha Preto liberate favelas from the Gang Bangers oppressing the people and then go right on oppressing.
- There's also Malladus, the Big Bad of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, who greatly resembles the normal Big Bad of the series, Ganon. Similarly, The Man Behind the Man Demise from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword shares many visual and psychological traits with Ganon, particularly the face and the colors (brown body, fiery-red hair, crimson cloak). Both Malladus and Demise also share the title of Demon King, which is usually attributed to Ganon, further helping the similarities.
- Dishonored: Corvo spends 3/4ths of the game taking down the Lord Regent, who has turned the once-great city Dunwall into a spiraling heap of rats and zombies. The remaining 1/4th is taking down the very resistance who fought him, having snapped from the realization that their nefarious acts for the greater good have gone too far to be forgiven, and positioned themselves as the new rulers.
- Far Cry 4: Pagan Min is a sociopathic dictator who enslaves civilians to harvest drugs and has families executed on a whim, and kills people personally for fun. The only REAL difference between him and his replacement in any of the multiple endings is which trait gets horrifyingly exaggerated. If Amita leads the Golden Path, she'll enslave everyone to work in sweatshop factories for mass-producing drugs. If Sabal leads the Golden Path, he'll kill everyone who worshipped someone other than his gods; unfortunately, this includes over 90% of Kyrat's population. If Ajay takes over as the new king, he'll keep killing random people off the roads without any sense of remorse whatsoever.
- Genesis Rhapsodos from Crisis Core, the prequel of Final Fantasy VII, is a duplicated version of Sephiroth at the time the latter was still a good guy in both appearance (longcoat and long sword along with an One-Winged Angel transformation) and backstory (former member of SOLDIER who turned evil after learning the truth behind his existence).
- Early in Kevin & Kell, Kell's boss was a wolf(?) seen only from the jaws forward, known only as L.D. After he died, a canid known as R.L. took his place. To this day, the only clear difference between them is in the initials.
- Discussed in Penny and Aggie during the "Popsicle Wars" arc, when Aggie and Lisa try to convince Katy Ann to join them in taking on Karen and her clique of bullies:
Aggie: This group we're gathering, it's not going to last if the only goal is to replace Czarina Karen with Dictator Penny.
Lisa: It can't be "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Wait...technically Penny would be the "old boss"...Pete Townshend, your lyrics are not as relevant to my life as advertized!"