A Recycled Premise is when a show is made that is effectively identical to another, earlier, popular show, made simply to cash in on the craze or shoot for another demographic. Note however, that not all sequels are recycled premises — Just the ones that are almost identical, and have more than a couple of recycled scripts
variations of Recycled Premise:
Though it's tempting to point fingers and yell "It's Been Done
!" the fact is Tropes Are Tools
, and money is made
Anime and Manga
- Nearly every Gundam series since the original, though this is quite intentional and pretty much the point of the series.
- Many people have accused Pokémon 4Ever of ripping off Princess Mononoke.
- Also, the video game Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness has been panned for recycling the same premise, world, and villains of Pokemon Colosseum.
- Although they are quite different stylistically, Samurai Champloo has several episodes that have similar plots to those of another Jidai Geki anime, Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran. Both have episodes that homage Yojimbo, an episode where an artist wanting one of the characters to model is a front for a sex slavery ring, and both have the main cast interacting with one of the few foreigners in Japan during that period.
- Home Alone 2 was basically exactly the same movie as Home Alone, just set in New York. Even the scary neighbor got a direct counterpart.
- This was even lampshaded by Harry, who mentioned that Kevin threw two paint cans the last time they tried to climb up a flight of stairs, and saw it coming. Unfortunately for them, the second time around, a sewer pipe followed immediately afterward.
- Most people in the West who have heard of City on Fire discovered it in the context of being the film of which Reservoir Dogs is a version.
- The plot of Dinosaur was basically lifted from The Land Before Time. It wasn't originally supposed to have dialogue to differentiate itself, but ultimately did.
- Ironically, The Land Before Time was originally meant to be without dialog, too. The only speech was to have come from an unseen narrator; the idea was to give the film a sort of "nature documentary" feel. In both cases, Executive Meddling saw to it that the dinosaurs spoke in the final film.
- Stargate and Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
- A lawsuit happened over similarities between the big-budget Michael Bay film The Island and an earlier B-movie, Parts The Clonus Horror.
- The 1999 John Darnton novel The Experiment seems like a pretty clear rip-off as well.
- Gus Van Sant remade Psycho and apparently, changed almost nothing.
- He was proud of changing nothing. He bragged all his edits and camera angles were identical to the original. Which raises the obvious question, why didn't the studio just save millions of dollars and re-release the original?
- This troper believes it was an attempt to invoke the notion of a legacy story. Which is basically the reason people still perform Shakespeare. A lot of iconic stagings are duplicated as well. Eventually, it becomes about how different actors portray these characters. However, given the nature of the two mediums (stage vs. screen), a shot for shot remake was probably folly.
- Exactly how many times is Godzilla going to fight King Ghidorah or Mothra or Mechagodzilla? Considering that these are the most marketable monsters that Toho owns, a lot.
- Escape From LA is much more like a remake of Escape From New York than a sequel.
- As has been pointed out by The Spoony One, James Cameron's opus Avatar is essentially a big-budget remake of Mercenary Fighters, a B-Movie starring Reb Brown.
"It's about a marine sent to a far away land to help the government evict a native populace so they can exploit the area's natural resources, but after observing the native culture, he falls in love with his guide and becomes inspired by their noble sacrifices to maintain their way of life. At the end, he and his wisecracking pilot friend realise they've been fighting for the wrong side, join the rebellion and drive off the invaders after a climactic final battle."
- The premise of Slap Shot 3 (yes, there was a third one) was basically The Mighty Ducks but with The Hanson Brothers as supporting characters. They didn't even try to make the film any different from that series.
- P. G. Wodehouse's novel The Small Bachelor lifted its plot from the Broadway musical Oh, Lady! Lady!!, one of the legendary "Princess" shows Wodehouse wrote in collaboration with Guy Bolton.
- Family Matters, which in addition to being a Spin-Off from Perfect Strangers started out being much like The Cosby Show
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has a similar premise to Babylon 5. Deep Space Nine has a number of parallels to Babylon 5 above and beyond the station premise, including but not limited to the jumpgate/wormhole, a race who rebelled against its more-advanced alien oppressors and eventually threw them off their planet, a group of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who were using religion to influence more primitive peoples, a station commander who becomes a key figure in an alien religion in fulfillment of prophecy, a former imperialistic power trying to regain their old territory, a bone-ridge-headed alien race who were former-enemies-turned-allies with humanity, a snarky and cynical head of security with guilt about his shameful past, an idealistic young doctor who has issues with his father, a prototype Earth-made warship that's smaller and more powerful than the huge battle cruisers that make up most of the human fleet, a human government that hid corruption behind a veil of supposed Utopianism, and a long-term plot that included a war against a powerful and previously-unknown enemy who can hide almost anywhere. No one can say for sure, but for many B5 partisans, the fact that creator J Michael Straczynski unsuccessfully pitched Babylon 5 to Paramount only a few months before Paramount announced Deep Space Nine is a very large smoking gun.
- The Deep Space Nine partisans, of course, will respond by pointing out that Bajorans, Cardassians, and their relationship had already been established by Star Trek: The Next Generation, that many of these elements were added to Deep Space Nine late enough in its run that it's stretching things to imply that they were all taken from the original pitch, and that many of them are a lot less suspicious than the description tries to make it sound (the humans make a Super Prototype? only Straczynski could have thought of that!).
- Speaking of B5, the plot of the Spin-Off, Crusade, is uncanilly similar to Space Battleship Yamato.
- In an interview, JMS spoke of an encounter with an unnamed Deep Space Nine castmember early in the run of both shows. This castmember told him that "Our show could not exist without your show. Best of luck to you."
- Fringe looked suspiciously similar to Strange World, just from the advertisements.
- How many Disney sitcoms are about an average kid with an amazing secret that no one but their parents, annoying sibling, and best friend know about?
- The early Metal Hero shows (Gavan, Sharivan, Shaider, and Spielban) were pretty much identical to each other cast wise. Sharivan and Spielban even had the same actor playing the hero. Also, the Space Sheriff Trilogy (the above, minus Spielban) had the evil organizations acting exactly the same and the hero working for the same organization, with some of the same supporting cast. Basically, new actors were plugged into essentially the same roles.
- Kamen Rider was no different. The hero is turned into a cyborg and must fight a Nebulous Evil Organization and its cyborg monsters; every evil organization's hierarchy is the voice of Goro Naya commanding a single general who commands the Monster of the Week. There's surprisingly little variation from this, and when it is it's details like kidnapped by bad guys and altered vs. injured by bad guys and altered.
- Merlin began as a bit of a lift of the initial premise of Smallville, with the twist that the Destined Hero (in this case Arthur) isn't the main character, and at least initially was possibly closer to being the Lex counterpart.
- On iCarly, the episode "iSaved Your Life" has one of the main characters falling in love with a major character. The Anti-Hero character then guilts one of the involved parties into believing that the love may be superficial, forcing them to break-up to satisfy Status Quo Is God. It's pretty much identical to the episode "Josh Loves Mindy" on Drake & Josh.
- Body of Proof has been criticized for basically being a generic combination of Bones (female medical examiner with No Social Skills) and House (snarky doctor with mild disability).
- Prior to I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball played a scheming, nutty housewife in a radio show titled My Favorite Husband, wherein her character was married to a dull, inoffensive, American banker. Execs wanted to adapt the series almost wholesale because it tested so well, whereas Ball and Arnaz wanted to take things in a different direction (and use the series as a vehicle for improving their marriage). Even though the shows have different characters, some episodes of I Love Lucy reused storylines and gags from the radio show, since they shared three writers (Bob Carroll, Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer). After I Love Lucy became a hit, CBS tried to make lightning strike twice by adapting My Favorite Husband itself as a TV show (with a different cast and crew), but that show went nowhere and was soon forgotten.
- Another reason Ball and Arnaz abandoned My Favorite Husband — that series was based on the novel Mr. and Mrs. Cugat by Isabel Scott Rorick. (In fact, the lead characters were named George and Liz Cugat for the first 20 episodes. Their last name was changed to "Cooper" to avoid confusion with bandleader Xavier Cugat and his wife.) By creating their own (albeit similar) concept, Desilu managed to avoid paying royalties to Rorick.
- After having had a huge hit with The Hollywood Squares (1966-1981), creator Merrill Heatter recycled the "quiz show with celebrities in a ginormous board" premise twice: first with Battlestars (1981-83), then All Star Blitz (1985).
- Several game shows got reborn under tweaked rules and different names:
- Video Village Jr. (1962) -> Shenanigans (1964—although Shenanigans actually originated in 1960 on local New York TV)
- P.D.Q. (1965) -> Baffle (1973)
- He Said, She Said (1969) -> Tattletales (1974)
- The Who, What Or Where Game (1969) -> The Challengers (1990)
- Everybody's Talking (1967) -> Hollywood's Talking (1973)
- Showoffs (1975) -> Body Language (1984),
- Shoot For The Stars (1977) -> Double Talk (1986)
- Second Chance (1977) -> Press Your Luck (1983)
- Goodson-Todman took the premise of The Price Is Right—to not exceed the value of merchandise—then pared the contestants down to two and called it Say When!! in 1961. Fourteen years later, Bill Carruthers took the premise of Say When!!, added a spinning arrow and called it Give-N-Take.
- A relatively sane, smart host cracks wise about dubious political and pop-cultural phenomena while dealing with less than sane correspondents. Pop quiz: did we just describe America's The Daily Show or Australia's Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell? Yes.
- In The Eighties, Kenner's Rose-Petal Place toy line was essentially the Strawberry Shortcake franchise (which Kenner had made toys for) with characters themed/named after flowers instead of food.
- Rockstar Games is a serious offender: Compare Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, San Andreas and Manhunt to The Godfather, Scarface, Menace II Society and The Running Man. The main character of Vice City even has a mansion that contains obvious Shout Outs to Scarface. Also worth noting that both Godfather and Scarface have been turned into games that rip off the gameplay style of GTA. Vice City also needs to mention Miami Vice. Considering the sidekick from the show is your sidekick in the game...
- Worth noting that Rockstar began developing Manhunt as an adaptation of the film The Warriors, but were unable to get the rights to it. Also, unlike The Running Man, Manhunt is set in the present day.
- BioShock is a remake of System Shock 2, fueled by Objectivist propaganda.
- Many video games have reused the basic plot of Star Wars, Baldur's Gate, Final Fantasy IV, Star Fox, Zelda: A Link to The Past and others.
- She Ra Princess Of Power was an almost identical Distaff Counterpart to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
- All the Hanna-Barbera cartoons that tried (and failed) to duplicate the success of Scooby-Doo.
- After Hanna-Barbera made The Flintstones, a Sitcom (more specifically The Honey Mooners) set in the Stone Age, they eventually went on to make The Jetsons, a Sitcom set Twenty Minutes into the Future, and The Roman Holidays, a Sitcom set in Ancient Rome.
- And then they made Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, a Sitcom set in... modern times (for 1972, anyway).
- Top Cat is The Phil Silvers Show with cats in an alley instead of army officers on a base. Both shows even shared actor Maurice Gosfield - who played Doberman on the latter and voiced the Doberman-esque Benny in the former.
- The South Park Movie was basically an expanded, musical version of the episode "Death". Both involve Terrence & Phillip, potshots at Moral Guardians and scapegoating, and Kyle's mom taking her activism Up to Eleven.
- Admittedly, the TV episode wasn't a musical, and didn't end with Kenny saving the Earth from the Apocalypse.
- The Simpsons often has recycled themes of its past episodes, entirely unintentionally (the writers have lost track of what's going on; no one can tell Lou from Eddie). Homer has dressed up as Santa repeatedly, Homer has twice become a Smithers, family members have switched religions and Marge used Reverend Lovejoy's help to get them back, the Simpsons have gone on vacations full of gags based on the location with a third act involving them in danger, Lisa has been upstaged by a peer twice while Homer is involved in a wacky scheme to make money off of a fatty food additive, Lisa has gone to a better school to find out she's been challenged, a Simpson kid has become Krusty's assistant, both children have won parent-constructed project contests based on the fact that their father's job on them looks so shoddy that it "obviously" was done with no help from their parents; the line "There's a New Mexico" is said once in season five, again in season twelve. Professor Frink has become a suave casa nova. Some of these might be running jokes. Who knows?
- The Star Trek The Animated Series episode "One Of Our Planets Is Missing" is basically a reworking of the Original Series episode "The Immunity Syndrome," but this time done in such a way that the science mostly makes sense.