"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
"Your theory of a donut-shaped universe is intriguing, Homer. I may have to steal it."
Plagiarism is essentially taking the work of others and attempting to pass it off as one's own. There is a lot more to it than that. If you care about that, look it up on Wikipedia
, WestLaw, or this page
. Around here, we're more concerned with plagiarism showing up as the topic of a story. The more complicated plots may involve Time Travel
, with somebody discovering that William Shakespeare
has been earning acclaim for years for the play he accidentally left in the past
. A more common plot involves a Ridiculous Procrastinator
trying to pass off a straight-A older sibling's report or assignment as their own, eventually getting busted because the teacher recognizes it.
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Anime and Manga
- Billy Bat first starts off when the maker of the titular character (an anthropomorphic bat detective in an American comic) realizes he may have accidentally plagiarized it from a character he saw while in Japan. The origin of the character turns out to be far more complicated than he'd ever imagined. Notably, there's also one scene where the cartoon character come to life or a hallucination thereof actually questions the concept of plagiarism, stating most of what humans regularly do had to have been copied from someone at some point.
- An episode of Pokémon is about someone who needs actors for a play. When asked what it's about, the playwright pretty much sums up Romeo and Juliet. After listening, Brock asks, "Hasn't this already been done?'
- In Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, one of the main characters, Umika Misaki, had her first novel stolen by her editor, who published it under another author's name. Because of this, she made a contract to become a magical girl and used her wish to meet an editor who would recognize her writing talent.
- Even worse, the first editor actually had the nerve to ask Umika for more work.
- In Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, Yozora does this in a rewrite of her screenplay for the club's movie in episode 9 of Season 2. While Maria mentions at the end of episode 8 that the story seems familiar, its not until episode 9 and after they've already shot some scenes that Kate points out to Kodaka the similarities with an obscure movie. He then checks the movie and finds out their film was a shot-for-shot remake of that obscure film. Yozora is forced to kneel while wearing a sign saying she plagiarized, and the club goes with Sena's script which she wrote as a backup just in case Yozora's script didn't work out.
- The film Big Fat Liar is about a boy getting a Hollywood producer to admit his plagiarism of the boy's story.
- Secret Window is about an author who gets a knock on the door from a stranger who accuses him of plagiarizing a short story he wrote.
- Jamal in Finding Forrester is accused of plagiarism when he turns in an essay written with Forrester's help. Fortunately, Forrester shows up at the disciplinary hearing to explain what happened.
- On Meet the Robinsons, Bowler Hat Guy tries to pass off Lewis' invention for his own. Unfortunately, he has no idea how it works.
- The Nero Wolfe novella Plot It Yourself revolves around plagiarism accusations.
- In Kurt Vonnegut's short story, "EPICAC", the narrator steals poems written by the computer EPICAC and passes them off as his own, in order to get Pat Kilgallen to marry him.
- Stephen Fry's The Liar Novel contains the oft-quoted line, "An original idea? That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them."
- Animal Farm. Snowball — by which I mean Napoleon — comes up with the idea to build a windmill.
- The protagonist of Robert Silverberg's Dying Inside makes his (not very good) living by selling plagiarized papers to college students.
- One of the subplots in Changes has to do with the discovery that Master Bard Tobias Marchand is passing off his student's work as his own.
Live Action TV
- In Zits, a classmate strongly advises Jeremy to visit www.bootleg.com in order to get better grades and save time and energy. Her soulless eyes indicate the alleged price. Jeremy is tempted, but the end of the arc implies that he didn't give in — and a teacher's suspicion makes the inveterate cheater do a Loud Gulp.
- A sample character in the New World of Darkness book Asylum is "The Fraud", a member of the mental hospital's facility who made his career by stealing a colleague's work. Now he's screwed, because in order to keep his reputation, he has to keep stealing from the other researchers. Sometimes he wonders whether to kill himself or commit Suicide by Cop when they finally catch him — he can't imagine surviving the scandal.
- In Hotel Dusk: Room 215, one of the supporting characters is a novelist named Martin Summer, who is unable to write another successful novel, despite having a strong debut work. It turns out his first novel was actually plagiarized from a former friend's manuscript.
- In Bioshock Infinite, "tears" to alternate universes sometimes open, letting you see the contents of another universe, often at a different time. One musician found some tears that had music playing, and readily claimed their lyrics and melody as his own while making them more like the kind of music played in the early 1900s setting. The result are ragtime versions of songs that in our universe won't be written until decades after that universe's time including "God Only Knows" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World".
- In Futurama's episode "Anthology of Interest I", Fry discovers the "Fry Hole":
Fry: So what do you nerds want?
Nichelle Nichols: It's about that rip in space-time that you saw.
Stephen Hawking: I call it a "Hawking Hole".
Fry: No fair! I saw it first!
Stephen Hawking: Who is The Journal of Quantum Physics going to believe?
- The Simpsons
- "The Day the Violence Died":
Hah! Andy Griffith, Edward G. Robinson, Art Carney.
- "Fraudcast News": Millhouse, who has joined the staff of Lisa's newspaper, The Red Dress Press, admits he fabricated and copied content from other newspapers.
- The story he wrote about Bagdad was also a fraud. He was in Basra.
- Homer Simpson dreamed about becoming an inventor. After some ideas of his were rejected, he "invented" a chair with a special mechanism that prevented him from falling but he later found out Thomas Edison invented but didn't patent it. Homer and Bart went to the Thomas Edison Museum to destroy Edison's chair so there'd be no evidence Homer didn't invent it. There, they had a change of mind and left without destroying anything. Unfortunately, they also left Homer's electronic hammer, which, unlike what Marge thought, caught on. Thomas Edison was credited for the hammer and his "already wealthy" heirs got even more millions.
- Flaming Moe, as the beverage was called after Moe stole it from Homer.
- "Dial N for Nerder":
Bart: I didn't know there was a national park here.
Lisa: You wrote a report on it last week.
Bart: The internet wrote it. I just handed it in.
- In King of the Hill, after Bobby was given full credit from an essay that Peggy wrote and considered a good writer, he took her Musings papers and hand it to his classmates to give them good essay grades.
- In an episode of Hey Arnold, Phoebe steals a poem from a book and passes it off as her own until the guilt drives her insane.
- In the South Park episode "Weight Gain 4000", Cartman wins the essay contest. Wendy reveals that the paper is Walden with Henry David Thoreau's name replaced with his. The townspeople don't care and she expresses her anger.
Wendy: I bet if Walden was a sitcom you'd all know what it was!
- In an episode of Family Guy, one of the tangent gags shows Einstein working in a patent office. A man walks in wanting to patent his theory of relativity, and Einstein knocks him out and steals it.
- He's later shown doing the same thing to God, after he invented shrinky dinks.
- In another episode, police officer Reese arrives at the scene of an accident, where the two barely-alive victims mention that one's peanut butter got in another's chocolate, and vice versa. After Reese tastes the chocolate/PB mixture, he promptly shoots them both so he can steal the recipe.
- FG also has an accidental version, where Brian's (terrible) novel Faster Than the Speed of Love is 99% similar to the Iron Eagle movies, which he says he's never seen. His attempts to prove that his novel is original only make things worse, such as when he mentions a drug smuggling ring (which, as Lois points out between hysterical laughter, was the plot of Iron Eagle III).
- In Cloud Fathers, Xanatos captures Coyote the Native American Trickster Archetype with Coyote, a robot minion that gets destroyed every episode he appears in. Coyote says that he should sue Xanatos "for trademark infringement." Subverted in that Xanatos himself considers the robot a tribute.
- The Kids From Room 402: Vinnie Nasta made a habit of presenting his big brother Tony's reports as his own but the teacher always remembers having already evaluated them back when Tony was her student. One time included a contest entry, which Vinnie checked to be sure Tony wasn't her student back then. She was a juror for the contest.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: To avoid having to write a report about a sport of his choosing, Alvin stole an old report from Simon's. Unfortunately, he forgot to check which sport Simon wrote about.
- Arthur's friend Francine plagarizes a school report. She has a nightmare about it, and confesses.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: "Magnificent Muttley" episode "Leonardo Da Muttley" featured a King offering a reward to whoever invented a flying machine. Dastardly stole two of Muttley's designs but both resulted in Dastardly believing he should suggest Leonardo to invent the parachute.
- Randy Cunningham Ninth Grade Ninja: Bash entered one of Viceroy's inventions as his own at the Science fair. His grade was a C, which he believes to be a number.