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Anime & Manga / Manhwa
- Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi, who is said to have started crossdressing to live the life that his little sister Kourin who died when she was young.
- A Naruto mission used this trope, where a country's princess took her assassinated brother's place to keep the assassination secret and root out the culprit.
- The entirety of the Sasuke/Itachi conflict in was caused by this trope. Everything Sasuke went through up until Itachi's death was his brother's doing, so that after Sasuke killed him Sasuke would fulfill Itachi's objective.
- Le Chevalier d'Eon is all about this. The sister was murdered, so her soul went into her brother's body and periodically possesses it to carry out vengeance...
- On Black Lagoon, Gretel becomes this after her brother is killed. Before that, they not only switched clothes, but literally traded personalities at will.
- Angel Sanctuary, with the brother Voice dying. His twin sister Noise later cuts her hair to better resemble him and says he'll live on through her.
- She later on lets her hair grow again, after avenging his death.
- The manga Yubisaki Milk Tea does this. The original reason the male main character crossdresses was to pretend to be his big sister in photo shoots, though the sister is still alive, just on a date.
- This is central to the plot of the manga Basara. Tatara, believed to be the Chosen One and expected to lead a revolution against the corrupt monarchy, is killed before he does anything worth mentioning. His conveniently Half Identical Twin, Sarasa, takes his place and actually leads that revolution. She ends up using "Tatara" as her public persona and "Sarasa" as her Secret Identity.
- In Digimon Adventure 02, Ken's parents often had the spotlight on his older brother, who was regarded as a child prodigy. Out of jealousy, Ken wished he were dead, and soon after he died in a car accident. After that, Ken took on several of his brother's attributes out of guilt, and in hopes that his parents would recognize him more.
- In humor manga Sket Dance, team geek Switch's Tear Jerker Back Story turns out to be this. He used to be a really normal handsome guy, before his genius little brother was killed. Something he said in a fit of jealousy put the murderer on the kid originally, so he stopped using his accidentally destructive voice, eventually replacing it with the text-to-speech program the original Switch was working on when he died, and he feels it should have been him, so once he snaps out of his Heroic BSOD he ditches his entire previous personality and takes on his brother's nickname, glasses, dress sense, and lifestyle. His mother is furious. Oddly, he appears to be completely comfortable with this identity these days and is highly popular with his classmates, despite coming off as a nut job. (He got the 'number one Otaku' and 'number on Nice Guy' medals by popular vote.) It never comes up outside of flashbacks, and none of the classmates who would remember what he used to be like ever bring it up, but there is a genuine creepiness factor to Switch and his laptop once you know why he's doing that, especially since other character's tragic backstories are treated much differently in the story.
- Played with in one episode of Hell Girl that featured a young girl living by herself in a sanatorium. She says that "Mina's daddy left her" and she doesn't want Tsugumi and Hajime to ever leave. It turns out that Mina isn't talking about herself in the third person. Mina died a long time ago, and the girl is actually a doll.
- Creepily and cruelly played with in Sakura Gari. As a child, young Youya Saiki saw how his half-brother Souma was forced by his evil tutor Katsuragi into murdering Youya's mother Sakurako, as revenge for her abusing and raping Souma. Poor Youya fell into insanity, took up his mother's name and started calling himself Sakurako, wearing his mom's kimonos and tricking everyone outside the family into believing he was a girl. He ended up locked in an old warehouse for nine years, then only got out when a fire broke in.
- Subverted in Gundam 00 with Lyle Dylandy; when he becomes the second Lockon Stratos, he deliberately acts like a lech towards Feldt and a Brilliant, but Lazy jerk to everyone else to make it clear that he is not the same as his deceased twin older brother Neil, the original Lockon.
- Ran Fujimiya in Weiß Kreuz doesn't actually impersonate his little sister Aya (thankfully) but he does take her name in order to allow her to live through him while she's in a coma.
- Happens rather literally in Psychic Academy. After an incident in the backstory where Ren got killed and his sister Fafa ended up needing a heart replacement, Ren's heart was placed in Fafa. Since that point, whenever Fafa's pulse rises above a certain level, she turns into Ren. This isn't just a personality shift, her body literally changes gender.
- A textbook example in the hentai comic Secret Plot Deep, Imada's sister died in a car crash, which devastated his parents. After a few weeks, they convinced themselves that Imada was his sister, and that he was the one who died, not her. Imada began dressing as his sister at that point so as to not deepen his parent's misery (and because his parents had thrown out all of his clothes).
- In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, this is part of the reason Fai is so messed up.
- The real reason Ringo Oginome from Mawaru-Penguindrum is so obsessed with the teacher Keiju Tabuki, because her sister Momoka died the same day Ringo was born, and her death tore the Oginome family apart; young Ringo then started to aim to "become Momoka" in a heartfelt yet misguided attempt to bring her parents back together. Tabuki is also the person who taught Ringo about "destiny" as well as what Momoka meant to him and the Oginomes, so she started to follow the instructions written in Momoka's diary to further her "transformation" into her dead older sister.
- Lizzie attempts to do this for Ivan in Priest since she just happens to look like his dead girlfriend for some reason. He's not very receptive, though.
- In the Magic Knight Rayearth anime, Sierra does this for her sister, Presea.
- A variant is invoked in Black Jack. When the son of the head of a major corporation is killed in a fire, the father forces his last living child to pose as said son (if his son, and only his son, doesn't inherit the company, it will be absorbed by a rival company). The trouble is, said last living child is a girl (albeit one who looks uncannily like the dead son), and the poor girl is pressured into agreeing to a sex-change operation and identity switch. It turns out that the son is still alive, but was hiding because he didn't want to be his father's pawn. He helps his sister until their father dies, at which point Black Jack (the surgeon hired to do the sex-change operation) reveals that he never actually performed the operation. He just hypnotized the daughter into thinking she'd been turned into a boy. Erm...yeah.
- Ryou from Bokura no Hentai started dressing up as his older sister after she died. His mentally unstable mother thinks he's his sister, which isn't helped by the fact he is The Unfavorite. His girlfriend eventually finds out and her parents send Ryou's mother to a hospital for mental care.
- A non-creepy version in Princess Jellyfish. One of the reasons why Kuranosuke dresses in women's clothing is so the memory of his mother will live on.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, shortly after Kamina's death, Simon attempts a Dead Person Impersonation before eventually realizing the significance of Kamina's "Believe in yourself" last words and becoming more self-confident. When they grew up, Simon heavily adopted Kamina's manner of thinking, though tempered with more sanity and intelligence. In the final arc, Simon's outfit even looks like Kamina, with both of them going shirtless and wearing a Badass Longcoat / Badass Cape.
- Following her brothers death, Teana from Lyrical Nanoha made it her life goal to become an enforcer, just like he wanted to, using the skills that he taught her. While she did eventually accomplish this goal, Nanoha and Signum had to knock some sense into her first.
- Inverted, then played straight in the DCU by the Crimson Fox.
- The inversion: Upon gaining their superpowers, identical twins Constance and Vivian D'aramis, co-owners of a Parisian perfume company, arranged to fake Constance's death, so each of them could go back and forth playing Vivian and the Crimson Fox.
- Played straight: When Vivian was actually killed in action, Constance assumed both roles.
- Legion of Super-Heroes has a brief example; when Lightning Lad was killed, his previously unmentioned twin sister with the same powers showed up at Legion headquarters and pretended to be her brother, back from the dead, until the deception was exposed and she joined the Legion under her own identity. Exactly why she thought this was a good idea was not very clear.
- In the one-shot Batman: Jekyll and Hyde, Harvey Dent somehow absorbs the personality of his dead brother Murray, which becomes Two-Face. This version of the origin has had criticisms.
- Zandale Randolph, better known as Bulletproof and Invincible, got his superpowers in an accident that killed his twin brother. Knowing that his brother was the favorite son and that losing him would be the death of his parents, he took on his brother's identity. Like the Secret Plot Deep example above, this was only when he was around his parents — and in this case, a little less than half the time, as his brother didn't live all that close to their parents and would only visit occasionally.
- Lucky Star Challenge Fic "What It Takes" has Tsukasa, as the "something she did to make someone mad" for the challenge, kill her parents and wound her older sister (Matsuri) so that she can resurrect Kagami by having (Kagami) live through (Tsukasa's) body. She succeeds, but due to interference, Kagami ends up sharing bodies with Inori, who was fighting Tsukasa earlier.
- Avatar requires Jake Sully to go to Pandora after his brother is killed, because his identical twin brother had an Avatar exclusively created to work with his DNA, and only Jake Sully will be able to operate that Avatar now.
- The Masked Bandit in The Fall indirectly does this by adopting the mask of his dead brother, the Blue Bandit.
- The House of Yes has a dark example. Ax-Crazy Jackie kills her brother Marty and implies that he'll live through her.
- An Officer and a Gentleman: Turns out Sid only wanted to be a naval officer to live for his brother who died in Vietnam.
- Tootsie: Michael Dorsey (as Dorothy Michaels) reveals on live TV that he is actually his character's twin-brother out to honor his sister's memory. The rest of the production is forced to run with it, despite the fact that the cast and crew are just as shocked by The Reveal as the viewers are.
- Wind on Fire in Firesong when Kestrel dies and Bowman is still seeing her in his head 8 years later, living the life she would want.
- Furthermore Kestrel bids little sister Pinto to love Mumpo for both of them. Pinto already loves Mumpo, but he has always been in love with Kestrel. In the Distant Epilogue Mumpo and Pinto are betrothed
- In the Vorkosigan Saga, after Miles is killed (temporarily it turns out) the Dendarii want his clone-brother, Mark, to impersonate him. Mark is horrified by the thought, largely because rescuing Mark from a disastrous previous attempt to impersonate him got Miles killed in the first place. Mark responds by gaining enough weight that he no longer resembles Miles.
- Happens in the Sign of the Zodiac series. After Olivia's murder, her sister Joanna needs a new identity, and those doing the plastic surgery on her decide to disguise her as Olivia.
- Played rather literally in The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory, in which Prince Arthur, on his deathbed, made his wife Katherine of Aragon promise to marry his brother, have their children and become queen. May or may not have actually happened this way, but became something of an important point when Henry decided to have the marriage annulled.
- This is the premise of a series of V. C. Andrews novels. The main character Celeste has a brother named Noble, who is the favorite of her New Agey, spirit-obsessed mother. When Noble drowns to death, the mom forces Celeste to dress like and act like Noble, in the hopes of having Noble's spirit live on through her. She even dresses up Noble's corpse like Celeste and tells the whole town that it was Celeste who died, not Noble. Needless to say, the whole thing comes off as downright creepy
- In the Landry series, when one of Ruby's twin sons dies, the surviving twin announces his intention to do this. Ruby and her daughter both realize it's not good for him, and try to discourage him from it.
- In Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton, the pirate Lazoo has an older brother who died in infancy. She was born shortly afterward after her father had been away at war for over a year and raised as her brother to hide her mother's infidelity.
- In the Protector of the Small books, would-be Non-Action Guy Neal starts training for his knighthood at fifteen (a late age) because his older brothers have all died,note and his family/house is a pillar of the kingdom that's supposed to always have at least one knight serving the crown.
- The Wheel of Time has Vandene, who starts wearing the clothes that used to belong to her sister Adealas after Adealas is murdered.
- Agatha Christie did this in A Murder is Announced. The dead sister was the heir to a large fortune, and by impersonating her, the other sister hoped to get the money.
- A Parker Pyne story had two sisters and their maidservant on a sinking boat. The maid died and the elder sister lost her memory, allowing the unscrupulous younger sister to tell the sister was the maid and claim the inheritance. Years later, the maid's memory starts coming back...
- Kate Ross uses this in Whom the Gods Love in which one of the murder suspects turns out to be actually the sister taking her dead brother's place as a law student. She ends up getting engaged to the murder victim's father after resuming her own identity.
- In Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy, after Georgia's death, the only thing that keeps Shaun going throughout Deadline is the desire to finish what Georgia started by exposing her killers.
Live Action TV
- In the HBO series In Treatment, one of the patients was treated by his parents as a replacement for his older brother, who died young and was the favorite child.
- One episode of Jonathan Creek had a plot point of woman whose identical twin had been killed while attempting a dangerous stage-magic trick, and she took on her identity to avoid grief for her sister's family.
- An episode of MacGyver featured a rock star that was eventually revealed to be her twin sister switching back and forth between both identities: the real rock star had died during a climbing accident involving the two sisters. This caused the surviving sister to take both identities to "keep her sister alive" and grow increasingly unstable.
- Parodied in 'Allo 'Allo!. Rene is sentenced to death by the Germans for working with the French resistance, but is able to fake his death (with a lot of help). He covers his reappearance by claiming to be his own identical twin brother for the rest of the show's run.
- One episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured a pair of twin aliens. When one was killed, the other explained that twins in his species are essentially one being (leaving him as only half a person). Referring to his deceased brother as the only thing that made life enjoyable he asserts that the only joy he will ever feel again will be from taking his revenge PERSONALLY on the killer. He explains that letting the local law or even the killer's home planet (where he is slated to be executed) deal with him is not good enough.
- Actually doubled up on in an episode of House. Count 1: The Patient of the Week is a teenage girl with a sick brother who seems driven to live the life he'd be living if he weren't sick, so that he can experience it vicariously through her. Count 2: Eventually, through some Medical Phlebotinum, it turns out the only way to save her is a treatment that will shorten his life significantly. She first tries to kill herself when she realizes what her parents are arguing about, but then her brother tells her he wants to live on through her continuing to live.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Just before jumping to her death, Buffy tells Dawn to "live ... for me." However, because nobody in the Buffyverse stays dead for long, we never find out if Dawn would have adopted this trope.
- Law & Order: SVU:
- It inevitably had the creepy parents-replace-dead-child-with-her-sister version.
- Another episode had a pair of parents whose daughter was adopted, so they cherry-picked an orphan who resembled her to let her live in her room and wear her clothes, even giving the poor kid a nose job to make sure the similarity was perfect.
- Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, as Viola takes on the role of her brother Sebastian. She pulls it off because the people she's impersonating him to don't know Sebastian, and she doesn't use his name, so it's an entirely private tribute on her part out of practicality because she doesn't have a man to represent her interests. Then there is a lot of falling in love, gender-bending and clever wordplay.
- This also features one of two of Shakespeare's uses of tragic Antonio, two guys with the same name who in Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice appear to be desperately in love (platonically or not) with younger male friends who marry others, because Sebastian isn't really dead. When Antonio mistakes the cross-dressing Viola for Sebastian, he gets his heart totally broken.
- In Drowtales, taken to a dark extreme. Yaeminira was an adopted sister and "Protector Twin" to the original Vy'chriel Val'Sharen. When Vy'chriel showed disregard and disobedience to their mother's orders, Yaeminira slew her in single combat, turned her body into a golem and switched their names around, making herself Vy'Chriel Vel'Sharen and the living corpse of her sister Yaeminira. Zala'ess Vel'Sharen, who loved her trueborn daughter deeply despite her disobedience, absolutely despised Yaeminira for her actions and eventually sent her on a suicide run on their enemies the Val'Sarghress, seeing her death as venengance for the true Vy'chriel's death.
- Cloud's way of repaying Big Brother Mentor Zack's Heroic Sacrifice in Crisis Core, which leads to his Loss of Identity existensial crisis in Final Fantasy VII.
- .hack//G.U. implies that the "Saku" half of the player "Sakubo" is in fact the user's stillborn older sister. Given the nature of this series, it would not be a surprise if "Saku" really was Sakura Nakanishi given a second chance at life in her younger brother's body.
- At the end of Final Fantasy XII, Basch takes over the position of Judge-Magister Gabranth, who was formerly his twin brother. Especially ironic in this case, as his brother had used their identical appearance to frame Basch as a king-slayer in the prologue.
- Done in a roundabout way in Fire Emblem Awakening. A young man named Gregor died saving his younger brother from bandits. The surviving younger brother then renamed himself Gregor to honor his brother's sacrifice, and ultimately became the rather famed mercenary that the Chrom's Shepherds recruit.
- Ace Attorney:
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, the Miney sisters. The two got into a car accident, killing Ini Miney and leaving Mimi Miney severely burned. Mimi underwent plastic surgery and her face was rebuilt as her sister's, due to a photo of her sister being in her pocket. Turns out Mimi deliberately did this to hide from her past failures as a nurse and get revenge for her sister's death.
- And a bit literally with spirit medium Maya Fey. Her sister Mia lives on through her... because Maya occasionally channels her.
- Averted (thankfully) with Dahlia Hawthorne and her unwitting half-sister Pearl. If Pearl had succeeded in channeling Dahlia, the vengeful spirit would have used her body to murder Maya.
- At the end of Hisui's True End in Tsukihime, Kohaku dies, so Hisui decides she will live life loving Shiki, like she wanted to. She already loves Shiki fortunately.
- Done in a Whole Plot Reference to Tootsie in Family Guy. In that episode, Stewie pretends to be a girl named Karina Smirnoff in order to land a part on the American adaptation of his favorite television show - the only part available was playing a little girl named Mary. He then falls in love with one of his (female) costars, but the costar explains to her/him that she's not a lesbian ... so Stewie marches into the (conveniently live) taping of the episode, and in character (as Mary, not Karina/Stewie) explains that Karina was actually his sister who died, and he was Desmond - a perfectly normal little boy transvestite - who was trying to carry on her memory.
- The Fairly OddParents: Timmy's Mom gets a job as a weather girl, so his dad gets out a puppet of her to be a mother to Timmy. He takes it a little too far.
Mom Puppet: I think you're being too hard on Timmy.
Dad: (spits out water) Oh, sure, take his side!
Timmy: No amount of therapy will ever make this moment okay.
- In Gravity Falls, Stanford Pines was lost to an alien dimension in a fight with his twin brother Stanley in 1982. Stanley proceeded to spend the next 30 years of his life attempting to rescue him, including taking on his name and identity to avoid suspicion and keep his activities a secret. As of the real Stanford's return, he's allowed Stanley to keep up the charade in public until the end of the summer.
- Author James M. Barrie was one of ten children. His older brother David was their mother's favorite, and after David was killed in a skating accident, six-year-old James began trying to ease his mother's grief by taking on David's mannerisms and dressing in his clothes.
- That explains...so much.
- It used to be fairly common that if a child died in infancy or childhood the parents would give a subsequent sibling the deceased's name.
- Peter Sellers had an older, deceased brother named Peter. Which is what his parents always called him. Eventually the boy molded himself after his dead brother, and Sellers's infamous lack of a true identity began to rear its head.
- After Katharine Hepburn found her older brother dead of an apparent suicide (Miss Hepburn always maintained it was an accident), she swore, "I pledged to Tom and myself that he would live in my heart and mind as long as I lived . . . The real date of his death would not be until the day I died." She told people that his birthday was her own for years.
- Salvador Dalí was named after his older brother, who died (at age two) before he was born; when he was a child, his parents convinced him that he was the reincarnation of his dead brother.