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Non-Identical Twins
Robotnik: Voila! Your identical twin brother!
Scratch: My twin?! Am I that ugly?

A Characters and Casting trope, the polar opposite of Making Use of the Twin: so you have this classic play you want to put on, a comedy about two identical twins that people keep mixing up... but wait - your theater company doesn't have two identical twins! What to do?

Some directors would try to cast two actors who look similar enough that in identical costumes and make-up they might almost pass as twins, but if your play is a comedy it can be even more effective if you cast two actors who look nothing whatsoever alike - and simply handwave the fact that none of the other characters can tell them apart. If you take this second option, what you have is Non-Identical Twins.

This is generally a comedy trope, and often a theatre trope because, for whatever reason, people have a harder time suspending their disbelief for something like this if it happens in film - presumably because we expect a movie to be able to fake a truly identical-looking twin in ways a play could not.

Not to be confused with fraternal twins (actual non-identical twins) or Half-Identical Twins. This only counts when the twins are obviously meant to be identical, but their identical-ness is an Informed Ability. Exists because of Always Identical Twins.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • In InuYasha, everyone says Kikyo and Kagome look identical (a result of reincarnation) but they look no more alike than anyone else in the series.
  • Ranma ½ did several of these, often playing on the Magoo-like eyesight of Mousse. One memorable one not involving Mousse has Ranma disguise Katsunishiki (a sumo pig the size of an elephant) as Ranma's fiancée Akane, complete with wig and a schoolgirl outfit. Even Ryōga, who usually is hopeless at seeing through Ranma's disguises, isn't fooled.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, a fox spirit showed up at the school and tried to pull of several impersonations. But it was always one foot tall and an obvious anthropomorphic fox. However, when it impersonated the teacher Onsen-mark, the students (who didn't like Onsen-mark) proclaimed him the real teacher, tied up Onsen-Mark, and beat him for "impersonating the teacher", all the while referring to Onsen-Mark as "The Hoax".
  • Terriermon and Lopmon aren't twins, but still got the accidental switch done in the second Digimon Tamers movie when Henry took Lopmon (who is chocolate brown and pink with two more horns).
  • Caren and Noel of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. Kaito and Gackto, too.
  • Kanchomé's debut episode in Zatch Bell! has him and Folgore boarding Kiyomaro up against the ceiling. Then Kanchomé transforms into Kiyomaro and tries to get Gash to reveal the location of the book. It's almost a perfect match... except his nose is huge. Even worse... neither Gash nor Kiyomaro's school friend Suzume can tell the difference - although to be fair, Suzume is a huge ditz and Kanchomé compliments her beauty before she has a chance to notice. Gash has no excuse, though.
    • This is funnier in the anime as Kanchome's VA sounds nothing like Kiyomaro's and in fact sounds exactly like Keiichi Morisato (who's voiced by the same person), a kindly person whose character is not at all like Kiyomaro.
  • Agon and Unsui of Shinryuji from Eyeshield 21, with Agon having long, black dreads and glasses and Unsui being completely bald. When Agon shaves his head, however, it turns out they're exactly alike.
  • Natsume, of Natsume Yuujinchou, often gets mistaken for his late grandma, Reiko, by angry youkai looking to get their names back. Youkai don't have the same regard for gender that humans do, nor do they have the same sense of time, which explains why they don't notice that he's not the old woman that Reiko would be if she were still alive.


  • German artist Walter Moers once wrote a short comic about "the cruel twins". At first the two mean-looking guys yell about how evil and cruel they are, but when they go into details, we see that they're actually *extremely* nice and gentle in their deeds. At the end, they admit, yes, they aren't cruel at all, and no twins either—"we just look similar". Which, you guessed it, also isn't the case.

     Fan Fiction  

  • Played with in Dungeon Keeper Ami, Tiger and Ami are neither twins, sisters, blood relations, nor even of the same species. However, due to magical mishap, Tiger and Ami could easily pass for twins, and in fact share many memories and mannerisms. This is exploited at several points, with Tiger acting as a stand-in for Ami and a body-double. At one point she even saves Ami's life because their similarities allow her to slip in during a diversion by possessing Ami (while she is battleing Crowned Death Telepathically) and useing her magical link to Crowned Death's swimming dungeon to destroy it.

  • There was some movie that featured a wealthy man using his poor, long-lost, nearly identical half-brother to fake his death. The half-brother survives but with Laser-Guided Amnesia, and his doctors and his cute nurse try to get him to remember his life - or rather his brother's life. The twist is that the rich brother is played by a white actor while the poor brother is played by a black actor. Naturally, the whole film is a meditation on identity. The poor brother eventually gets to have his cake (his memory) and eat it too (when the rich brother tries to kill him and gets killed instead. The poor-now-rich man lives happily ever after with the cute nurse.
  • The Great Muppet Caper had a running gag where Fozzie and Kermit were supposed to be twins and they can only be told apart when Fozzie has his hat on.
  • Stuck On You had Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon as conjoined twins who share at most hair colour. What's interesting is they manage to convince some people they aren't conjoined but these people don't then just point them out as twins, suggesting they aren't meant to be identical. The handwave explanation is that Damon's character was damaged in the womb and hence looks older, as well as having less of a liver than his brother.
  • In The Krays, the roles of identical twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray are played by real-life brothers Gary and Martin Kemp. But while they do look somewhat alike, they are not twins. The use of real twins to play the characters as children doesn't help. That said, the Kemps do turn in compelling performances.
  • The Disney Channel movie Double Teamed, based on the true story of twin basketball players Heather and Heidi Burge had a very mild version of this. While the twins weren't identical, they did look very much alike. The actors who played them looked alike, but weren't the same height. One actress had to wear lifts in her shows.
    • In another Disney Channel movie, Motocrossed, Andrew and Andrea are supposed to be Half-Identical Twins who are indistinguishable once Andy cuts her hair. He's significantly taller than her, and their faces look nothing alike. This doesn't actually matter for most of the movie, since when she's posing as her brother she's mainly dealing with people who have never met him anyway, but there is a scene where a salesman unknowingly has both of them in his store and is bewildered into thinking there's Offscreen Teleportation going on, and once the secret's out, people marvel over how similar they look standing side by side.
  • In the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, unrelated actresses play Parvati and Padma Patil, who are identical twins in the novels.
  • By the end of the movie Twins starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Danny De Vito they are dressed alike and synchronized to each other's mannerisms. Despite the fact that they obviously bear no physical resemblance to each other, characters in the movie remark in awe about how they are so identical, you just can't tell them apart.


  • Taken to an extreme in H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, in that not only are the twins not identical, one is the size of a mountain, while the other, Wilbur Whately, is inhuman enough to invoke the Uncanny Valley when people see him but can still pass for (mostly) human.

     Live Action TV  
  • Jade and Kirsty Sutherland from Home and Away. This was explained eventually that Jade accidentally got swapped with another baby when the hospital goofed.
  • On Friends, Joey tries to pull this on some researchers conducting a twin study. No-one is the slightest bit convinced.
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody has an episode where Maddie and London make plans to date twins. Unfortunately, Maddie realizes that the twins are fraternal when they see that the second brother is short, skinny and nothing like his handsome and charming brother. She has to date him.
    • There was one episode where the title characters themselves were treated as identical. It was they typical situation where one has made two dates, but neither was a blind date.
  • A plot point in an episode of Law & Order, as the witness can tell the gangster apart from his twin brother he is trying to claim did it because, despite being identical twins, they have lived much different life-styles, resulting in many physical differences, which are very noticeable because the witness was a nurse.
  • An episode of NewsRadio had this as part of the plot. Matthew's 'twin brother', played by pre-Daily Show Jon Stewart, came to visit. He looked nothing like him, but they both kept playing 'look alike' games. Eventually Matthew's brother says that it was a stupid idea of his parents in order to misdirect Matthew from thinking he was adopted. The rest of the cast is shocked, as this is incredibly stupid, even for Matthew. It turns out that the deception was the other way around. Matthew was the biological son, and he was simply playing stupid in order for his brother to not think he was adopted.
  • In Sykes Eric and Hattie insisted they were identical, despite not only being the opposite sex but also being completely different body types (Eric being taller, thin, and rakish and Hattie being shorter, heavier set and baby faced).
  • Done in the Disney XD original show Pair of Kings, with a pair of Salt and Pepper twins as the title characters. Even more so in the third season when another main character sibling is added and the Non-Identical Twins turn out to be Non-Identical Triplets.
  • In an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle and Aphrodite have to infiltrate a twins bar run by the Gemini twins, despite not remotely looking alike (Aphrodite is a good deal taller than Gabrielle, for starters).
  • In a real-life crime drama, a man tried to get off rape by arguing it could have been his identical twin brother, thus casting doubt on the DNA despite the victim clearly identifying him and his holey alibi. The brother was brought in, and they looked nothing alike despite being identical twins.
  • In Victorious, Tori, Jade, Beck, and Andre were in a play that had them take the role of a normal family. How normal? Well, Tori is the father, Jade is the mother, and Beck and Andre play their identical twin sons who look nothing alike. Made even funnier by the fact that Beck is white and Andre is black.
    Beck: I guess you and me are twins.
  • The same premise as above taken seriously in Pair Of Kings, were Brady and Boomer Kinkow are twin brother, with Boomer being black and Brady being white. There father was white and their mother was black.
    • Later on it the twins turn into triplets with the character Boz played by Adam Hicks, who is also white.


     Professional Wrestling  


  • A wonderful production of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors had the leading pair of twins played by a tall, thin black guy with very short hair, and a short, stocky white guy with a ponytail. Their only physical similarity was their identical Blues Brothers-inspired suits. Naturally, they were indistinguishable to everyone but the audience.
  • Double-subverted in an absurdist play which features a pair of young men - one white, one black - who claim to be identical twins. It turns out they are identical twins, just not of each other.

     Video Games  

  • Kyosuke and Hyo from Rival Schools.
  • Justified in Mega Man Battle Network. The dying member of a pair of infant identical twins was converted into a Network Navigator. As a Net Navi, he now looks very different from his surviving human brother. They're our heroes, Hub "Mega Man.EXE" and Lan Hikari.
    • There's a secondary example with the same set of twins: the Net Navi brother has a minor alteration to his genetic data to prevent Synchronization problems. This is probably why he has green eyes while his brother's are brown.

  • Discussed in El Goonish Shive: After discovering Susan and Diane were born merely twenty minutes apart on the same day, Ellen argues that the two can't be twins, as one of them is too tall for them to be identical and they're too similar to be fraternal. Nanase informs Ellen that the taller girl in question had recently had a magic-enhanced growth spurt, and before that the two were the same height.
  • The Cake Twins in Slice of Life. Pound is a pegasus with dark brown hair, while Pumpkin is a unicorn with orange hair.

     Web Original  

  • In the sci-fi web series The Crew, no one can tell the black guy apart from his clone, who looks nothing like him aside from being black, and their not even the same shade. (The other clones, on the other hand, are completely identical aside from the fake mustaches they're inexplicably wearing).

     Western Animation  
  • Scratch and Grounder of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog are revealed to be twins in the first episode. Scratch was not amused when his twin rolled off the assembly line. Then again, it was Scratch's fault that Grounder didn't become an exact copy of him like Robotnik had planned. And soon a Sibling Rivalry begun, as both of them claimed to be the favorite (Scratch because he had been built first and Grounder for having more accessories). This trope was actually referred to by name in the first comic they appeared in.
  • The Cake Twins from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Pound is a pegasus with dark brown hair, while Pumpkin is a unicorn with orange hair, and neither of them resemble either of their parents. Lampshaded when they were born:
    Mr. Cake: "That makes sense, right?"
    • As you can imagine, the fanfiction community had no end of fun with that one. But we've yet to see any of their extended family on-screen, and since Word of God says two ponies of one tribenote  conceiving a foal of a completely different tribe is only about as unusual as a dark-haired human couple conceiving a child who turns out blonde, it's unlikely that they were setting up for Re Tool into Soap Opera storylines.

Making Use of the TwinTwin TropesPolar Opposite Twins
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Evil Brunette TwinActing for TwoAnd You Were There

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