Above: 2009. Below, 2011
"It's like they had a parrot on the staff during the editorial meetings that just kept pitching 'Lois gets super powers! Lois gets super powers!' over and over again... And they kept listening..."
When two or more shows share the same pool of writers (or when a freelance scriptwriter is a particular combination of industrious and lazy), it's not unknown for tight deadlines to be handled by the expedient of taking a script already used by one show and "translating" it to another show. Characters are mapped onto their closest equivalents, and situations are revised slightly to fit the new program, but the same plot is used unchanged.
When properly and skillfully done, the result can be an episode that looks and feels "original". However, haste and carelessness can (and has) resulted in shows that not only have a "cookie cutter" feel, but that actually draw the viewer's mind to the similarity between the original and the retread.
Recycled scripts are also a common side-effect of writers' strikes, particularly among Westerns made in the 1950s and 1960s. The practice actually dates back as far as the early days of radio.
American networks have attempted to bring the ''Telenovela''
genre, very popular in Mexico
, Central America and South America, to their market by purchasing the rights and scripts to older telenovelas, to very mixed to little success in the Americanization of them.
When a show has run for a very long time, they might find themselves inadvertently recycling their own
scripts. This is often the result of changes in the writing staff, where the new writers can't possibly be expected to remember the plots of all 500 previous episodes. Particularly common in shows where every episode ends on An Aesop
, since there are only so many important moral messages the audience will understand. This is particularly grating in a Very Special Episode
A show targeted at a Fleeting Demographic
or one that is a sufficiently Long Runner
may well unabashedly recycle its own scripts every few years
Fans of canceled series are sometimes irked by the refusal of writers to reveal what they had planned if the series had continued. Frequently, the reason is this trope. If a writer has a real humdinger of a story or a great idea for a plot twist and hasn't pulled it out of their bag of writing tricks
before the series was canceled, the writer is not going to spoil it just to appease the fans. Instead, they will hold onto it for the next job and get paid
Related to, but not to be confused with Strictly Formula
, where each individual episode plot seems the same, with minor variations. See also Fleeting Demographic Rule
and Recycled Premise
. Compare Yo Yo Plot Point
, where a particular arc or plot point repeats itself.
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Anime and Manga
- Samurai Champloo had an episode in which a sympathetic thief befriends a main character, then is killed trying to steal for a sick relative, that closely followed the plot of an earlier Cowboy Bebop episode. The main difference is that the Cowboy Bebop episode had a Bittersweet Ending where the thief manages to get his sister what she needed, the Samurai Champloo one has a full Downer Ending where he dies without any implication that his mother could afford the medicine or even continue her regular life.
- The anime tends to recycle scripts quite often in the Diamond and Pearl seasons, usually Kanto and Johto plots. Notably, Jessie's Dustox's release, and Pikachu getting beat by a Raichu, and Ash asking if it wanted to evolve. Also Dawn's Swinub refusing to listen to her after evolving to Piloswine, then almost immediately evolving again and continuing to disobey her, just like Charmander did.
- Dawn's first episode has been rehashed two or three times at this point. All with Ariados as antagonists who trap Piplup in a web.
- To wit, Axew has been kidnapped or lost no less than 5 times.
- One notable example is that all four main casts have gone through an episode where the majority of the cast and/or their Pokémon get paralyzed with Stun Spore, and the unaffected cast must search for the only plant that can cure the ailment. This usually also leads to the focused Pokémon (always a Water-type) of that episode either joining the cast or learning a new skill and overcoming its own problem.
- Naruto had the Land of Vegetables filler arc that was a rehash of the main plot of the first movie: Naruto's team needs to escort a noblewoman in hiding that is cold and distant because of a past tragedy, and is in disguise because of attempts on her life, but becomes a Defrosting Ice Queen through her experience with Naruto and by the end is prepared to fulfill their duty happily.
- It's also somewhat common for a seemingly ordinary mission to end up becoming a lot more dangerous than the ninjas hired thought, just like the Land of Waves mission started out as a C-rank escort mission, but became equivalent to an A-ranked one by the time Zabuza arrived. The aforementioned Land of Vegetables arc is one such example.
- Also, the "Curry of Life" filler arc features a villain who was a former member of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist who is partnered with a young boy that was ostracized for his bloodline limits (Raiga and Ranmaru)—which is largely a retread of the villains of the Land of Waves arc (Zabuza and Haku).
- Though unlike most examples, the similarity is actually pointed out in the episode. And makes Naruto far more determined to Save the Villain.
- Bleach's Soul Society arc had Ichigo fighting through impossibly difficult enemies to save his friend, using an ability that he had previously gained to win his battles. The Hueco Mundo arc? Well, it has Ichigo fighting through impossibly difficult enemies to save his friend, using an ability that he had previously gained to win his battles.
- The mandatory uniform for said captured friend is a white dress, no less. The new enemies are introduced through a Red Oni, Blue Oni pair, one of whom is rowdy and the other emotionless, that beat up Ichigo, giving him the need to train. And of course the badguys were just being used by Aizen all along, the point driven home by him suddenly deciding to stab a girl.
- In the Bount filler arc, the heroes fight Jin Kariya, a white haired villain who wants to take over the Soul Society because he and his Bounts were exiled long ago. In Memories of Nobody, the heroes fight Ganryu, a white haired villain who wants to take over the Soul Society because he and his Dark Ones were exiled long ago. As if to accent the similarities, the same voice actor plays both Jin and Ganryu in English.
- The Bount arc also wholesale recycles a number of scenes from Soul Society, including "Uryu overloads his powers and loses them while protecting an emotionless black-haired female enemy" and "Ichigo fights a tough opponent and nearly gets taken over by his inner Hollow but rips the mask off before he can make a killing stroke."
- Fade to Black intentionally recycles old plots to play with the characters' memories. On the other hand the villains have Aaroniero Arruruerie and Kaien's recycled background, complete with Rukia guilt, but are not supposed to remind anybody.
- In the original Speed Racer manga, two issues include identical scenes in which Racer X tries to scare Speed away from a race. They're actual reprints, panel-for-panel, word-for-word, except for the name of the race.
- Ojamajo Doremi: In both its first and second seasons, there was an episode where Doremi's Fairy Companion, Dodo, runs off due to the former's carelessness; the first time is when she makes Dodo cry after calling her out on incompetence while the second is when Dod runs off in a huff after being called out on...incompetence.
- The girls having to go through exams throughout the seasons counts as well; in S1, Doremi, Hazuki, Aiko, and Onpu go through the apprentice exams, which continues for the rest of the series. Then in Sharp, they have to help Hana pass her baby exams while Pop has to go through several of the same exams her sister and friends went through. In Motto, they, along with newcomer Momoko, have to pass a series of exams given by the Witch Senate. Finally, Hana has to go through the same exams her "mothers" went through in order to become a full-fledged Witch again.
- Subtly parodied in a filler arc of One Piece. An early filler has the crew meet a little girl being pursued by corrupt forces and trying to find a legendary land. The villain was a wimp who couldn't challenge the Straw Hats directly and instead relied on tricks and traps. The earlier arc dragged out over eight episodes. In the more recent arc, with notable resolve not to go through this again, Luffy and friends just decided to smash everything in sight. This resolved it in two episodes.
- To be fair the first filler arc was over a set of islands while the second shorter arc was on just one specific one. Also the goal of the girls was different: Find a dragon, find a ingredient for a gem creation.
- To a degree, rescuing Ace could be considered similar to the Enies Lobby Arc. They both feature an older sibling figure to Luffy who has a heritage which the World Government hates and considers a sin. Said figure initially does not have the will to live, but Luffy and his allies manage to convince him/her otherwise. In both arcs, Luffy storms a highly protected World Government facility with the help of former enemies. He also overtaxes himself immensely to the point where he cannot escape imminent peril.
- Granted, Luffy's attempt to rescue Ace didn't end nearly as well. Additionally, in Enies Lobby, Luffy was considered the only one strong enough to defeat Lucci, whereas in the Marineford arc, many of Whitebeard's higher-ranking subordinates were stronger than Luffy was, as were many of his enemies.
- Digimon fans who saw Summer Wars will probably wonder why they're watching a re-hash of the second Digimon movie: Our War Games. The answer: both were written by the same director.
- The various Dragon Ball Z Non-Serial Movies tend to recycle elements from the at-the-time current story arcs: the villains are either Expies of other villains (Turles for Vegeta, Lord Slug for King Piccolo, Cooler for Freeza, Super Android 13 for the Androids and Cell, Janemba for Buu) or repeat important plot points (Goku and Piccolo team up in The Dead Zone, Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 in Bojack Unbound, Goku and Vegeta fusing in Fusion Reborn, etc).
- Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny copied plot lines from the last Gundam show, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Shinn and Stellar's encounter in a cave (in Destiny) being similar to Athrun and Cagalli's (in Seed), while the final battles in both shows are nearly identical, with the only difference being that in Destiny, the Three Ships Alliance's victory was a Curb-Stomp Battle (and in the TV version, a Flawless Victory). The whole final fight gets lampshaded as the Kira Yamato is told that he is fighting the villain from the previous TV series. Shinn Asuka also revives events from the first series in the fourth compilation film. One of the characters' most frequented questions is "Why is this happening again?"
- Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 3 is essentially the same plot as its first film, namely that a kid (Ayumi in the first film, the fairy Yumeta in the third) is having a crisis (Ayumi's shyness and Yumeta being an all-around failure and crybaby), which is solved by another party (the villain Fusion and Yumeta's mother, Mamuu) deciding to take things into their own hands by causing chaos, catching the attention of the Pretty Cure. However, what makes New Stage 3 actually work is the bigger focus on the girls and not trying to shill the Original Character too much.
- Was common practice at DC Comics in the 1950's-1960's (though almost exclusively in Superman titles edited by Mort Weisinger) because the audience was mostly children, and turned over fast. Two characters in the Legion of Super-Heroes, Mon-El and Star Boy, first appeared in rewritten stories of this sort. See Fleeting Demographic Rule.
- Red Meat re-used the exact same script a few times, with only the graphics slightly changed.
- When José Carioca's Brazilian comic series started getting popular, writers found themselves running out of ideas (it was a bi-weekly comic at the time). The solution was to recycle Donald Duck/Mickey Mouse cartoons and replace the main characters with José. Since they made sure to only use English stories that weren't localized yet, it sort of worked, at least if you ignore José acting out of character or interacting with characters he doesn't normally interact with (such as Goofy).
- Archie Comics does this to a huge degree, which makes sense given its seventy-year run with multiple comics. And all the Digests that come out monthly, featuring anthologies of older stories. Running gags & themes abound, often creating the exact same stories and situations. Among the more notable examples, however, comes from the modern "New Look" stories- Titles, concepts, character names and slices of dialogue are completely taken from the "Archie Novels" series from the early 90s. Betty & Ronnie's fight over "Nick St. Claire", Archie moving away, Moose & Midge's breakup, etc., are all direct copies of prior work.
- Not many people realize the ecclaimed, highly publicized "Archie genderswap" issue had been done nearly fifty years earlier. The plot was even the same: The girls and boys get into an argument over which gender has it worse and get genderswapped.
- Speaking of Archie, their Sonic the Hedgehog series has fallen into this pit, recycling the same premise of an old and unused character group put Out of Focus coming under attack by a faction of the Dark Egg Legion and Sonic going (with one of the main characters) to fight them off. What's worse, is that this plot has been recycled three times in a row, at least.
- Disney Comics did it: A 2000-era Disney magazine reused a serial story from the late fifties. It involved Mickey impersonating an Identical Stranger king.
- A Christmas special for the Italian comic Lupo Alberto was copied from a Futurama episode: the main characters have an accident, she wakes up and discovers he is dead. Suddenly she discovers that he's still alive, but he asks her to "wake up" and discovers it was a dream. After some repetition of the fact, it's shown he was alive all along, she was in coma and he always said to "wake up" just as an encouragement for her problem.
- Marvel's Tales to Astonish was a huge offender prior to 1961, when it was an anthology series. The writers apparently had a stock set of plots that were recycled, not every few years, but every few issues, right down to the twist endings.
- In the late 50's and early 60's, Carl Barks recycled a couple of his own scripts from the late 40's with various changes, like making a Donald Duck story into a Scrooge McDuck one, figuring that no one would remember the old, long out of print comics. When older fans noticed it, Barks expressed shame in letters and interviews, feeling like he had been caught doing something wrong, despite that the fans simply thought it was a fun little trivia and liked both the new and old stories.
- Marvel retold the origin of The Rawhide Kid multiple times over the years, usually with almost identical scripts, but different art, as shown here.
- A script from a Winker Watson strip in The Dandy Annual 2009 was recycled for The Bash Street Kids, a strip in The Beano (Issue 3610). Even though the scripts were from separate comics and for separate strips. The two comics are from the same publisher though.
- In the early sixties there were plans for a Superboy Live-Action TV series. The show never made it past the pilot, but scripts were written for the show and were later used in the Superboy comic book series.
- The first Batman story "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" is a recycling of the plot of The Shadow story "Partners in Peril".
- One of Superman's alternate timeline stories that was part of the Armageddon 2001 crossover is a more tragic version of the Superman IV: The Quest for Peace storyline, with Superman using force instead of diplomacy and the goodwill of the nations to eradicate nuclear weapons, and replacing Nuclear Man with the Justice League of America, adding a bit of the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns finale of Superman dueling with an armored Batman as part of its ending.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Post Seasonal Rot, several albums have been accused of this. For example, "El tirano" being a remake from "Objetivo: Eliminar al rana", "La MIER" from "Cacao espacial"...
- The central concept in Grant Morrison's original series The Filth—a super-secret spy organization trying to convince a hapless everyman that he's really their top operative with implanted fake memories—was based on a rejected idea that Morrison proposed for a Nick Fury series, which would have revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. kept Fury active into the present day by implanting his memories and personality into hapless test subjects.
- In Half-Life: Full Life Consequences, John Freeman receives a call from his brother to help him kill aliens and monsters, and goes out to do so on his motorcycle, killing "zombie goasts", and eventually defeating the last boss, only to see Gordon Freeman killed before his eyes. In What Has Tobe Done, John Freeman sets out on his faster motorcycle, kills more zombie goasts and kills the boss that killed Gordon Freeman, only for Gordon Freeman to rise as a headcrab-infected zombie goast.
- In The Prayer Warriors, "Battle with the Witches" involves Michael infiltrating Hogwarts in an attempt to learn about its connection to the British government and any planned attacks on Christians, as well as killing Dumbledore and converting anyone he can. In "The Titans Strike Back", Hogwarts reopens, and several characters come Back from the Dead, but Michael decides to focus more on converting them this time.
- Also, "The Evil Gods Part 2" rips off of "The Evil Gods Part 1" to some extent. Both involve the Percy Jackson cast fighting against evil gods (the Greek gods in Part 1, the Roman gods in Part 2), while trying to find the traitor in their ranks.
- In Christian Humber Reloaded, Vash meets a little girl and her father early on, who end up getting killed by raiders, whom he slaughters in revenge. He later meets another little girl, Soku, along with her father, but the interesting twist is that he kills them all after learning that Soku reported him to the police.
- A Lois and Clark fanfic, "Great Shades of Elvis" was lifted from an episode of The Adventures of Superman, "Great Ceasar's Ghost". In the original, Perry White is testifying against a mobster, who hires an con artist to dress as the ghost of Julius Ceasar to convince Perry (whose familiar catchphrase in the series is "Great Ceasar's Ghost!") that he has gone insane and thus discredit him as a witness. In the fanfic, the suspect whom Perry is testifying against rigs a holographic projector to produce images of an Elvis Presley impersonator (after Perry's in-show catchphrase of "Great Shades of Elvis") to bring Perry's sanity into question and again discredit his testimony.
- On the big screen, the 60s James Bond film Thunderball was recycled into 1983's Never Say Never Again with only a few minor tweaks to reflect the passing of time. The plot, names of several major characters, and the actor playing Bond (Sean Connery) were otherwise unchanged. This was the result of a lawsuit by a writer who had contributed ideas to the original Thunderball, who was trying to leverage this into permission to make his own Bond movies; the verdict was essentially that he could make as many remakes of Thunderball as he liked.
- Die Another Day didn't go as far, but copied from Diamonds Are Forever the primary weapon of the villain (an orbiting satellite using smuggled diamonds that shot down nuclear missiles) and the fact that he teamed up with a foreign agent that happened to be the only girl he slept with that movie. They wanted to reference previous movies for number twenty, but that was a little much.
- Actually Die Another Day took plenty of elements from the Moonraker novel which is perfectly fair game as Moonraker didn't get an adaptation, the film only used the title and the villain's name.
- Neither did Diamonds Are Forever really. The smuggling and Wint and Kidd are from the novel but everything else is from an original idea by the producer, Albert R. Broccoli.
- Let's not forget The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies, both having Bond pairing up with a foreign female agent to prevent the villian from starting a war between two nuclear-armed nations, not unlike You Only Live Twice. The idea of a world-destroying villain in favor of supporting living in anywhere but on land itself is later recycled on Moonraker, which is later recycled on Nightfire. Nightfire's script is recycled from a movie script recycled from a movie script recycled from a movie script.
- A View to a Kill is Goldfinger, except with horse racing instead of canasta and golf, Silicon Valley instead of Fort Knox, and a KGB operative gone rogue instead of an officially-sanctioned Red Chinese plot.
- Meet the Parents had a guy planning to propose to his girlfriend, but then has to meet her parents. He spray paints a cat, takes a lie detector test, and accidentally ruins their dinner with her grandmother's remains. The Sequel, Meet the Fockers, had the same guy planning to marry his girlfriend, but she has to meet HIS parents. His dog gets dyed blue, he is given a truth serum, and accidentally ruins dinner with his foreskin.
- Anybody who tells you that Never Back Down isn't a script recycle of Step Up 2: The Streets, replacing dancing with mixed martial arts, is a liar.
- It's a beat-for-beat remake of the original The Karate Kid, to boot. Both feature a new kid in town who gets his butt kicked at a party by a blond bully, trains under a foreign-born mentor with a tragic backstory, hooks up with the bully's ex-girlfriend, and ultimately wins the bully's respect by kicking his butt at a tournament.
- The John Wayne movies Rio Bravo, El Dorado, and Rio Lobo were the exact same story, just with a different supporting cast.
- The writer of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button also adapted Forrest Gump. Comparisons have been made.
- Ever thrifty, Roger Corman managed to film what was essentially the same script three times: When making Beast from Haunted Cave, he simply had writer Charles B. Griffith rewrite his own script for the heist thriler Naked Paradise and add a monster. He then had Griffith rewrite that script into a comedy, which he filmed as Creature from the Haunted Sea.
- Star Trek
- Phantom of the Paradise has so many striking similarities with The Rocky Horror Picture Show (even though it could have only been inspired by the stage version of Rocky - RHPS was still filming when Phantom hit theaters) that some fans consider it part of the same series. Likewise, Rocky's bastard-sequel Shock Treatment has a number of striking similarities to Phantom; possibly a case of Richard O'Brien subtly reclaiming his own work.
- The introduction of Batman & Robin is nearly identical to Batman Forever's opening:
"THE SCRIPT In attempting to capture some semblance of story, Joel Schumacher, along with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, first used the basic outline of BATMAN FOREVER. If one were to sit down, and view both films simultaneously on two separate monitors, the comparisons between the two would seem right—time-wise. Examine, for instance, the first act. Freeze has taken guards in the museum. Two Face has taken guards in the bank. Batman is trapped in a vault being lifted, inexplicably, by a helicopter. Batman is trapped, inexplicably, in a rocket headed for unknown space. Through over-the-top theatrics, Batman is able to save the day. That sentence is applicable for either film." Greg Bray
, Remembering Batman and Robin
, Batman on Film
- It doesn't just apply to the beginning; Batman & Robin also used some key plot points from Forever, namely the final act, where Batman, Robin, and Batgirl raided the observatory.
- Jonah Hex's plot, "During the Reconstruction, an evil ex-Confederate bent on destroying the Union creates a super-weapon, leading President Grant to send the only man who can stop him." And in this version we dont even get the damn giant mechanical spider
- The Ju On (aka The Grudge) series is a special case. The first, no-budget, shot-on-video film had over 30 minutes of its footage recycled into the second video film to make a 76-minute Ju-On 2 that was only half new material. After that, the various bigger-budget theatrical versions, in Japan and the US, were also partially original works and partially remakes of segments from the video films and/or earlier theatrical entries (though at least in these cases they were actually re-shot). This finally ended in 2009 with the American straight-to-video The Grudge 3 and the Japanese double-bill Ju-On: White Ghost and Ju-On: Black Ghost, all of which were entirely original.
- Scooby Doo Monsters Unleashed did a very obvious lift of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 episode Halloween, including the main plot about monster costumes becoming real monsters, and the character development subplot of the character played by Sarah Michelle Gellar giving her nerdy best friend a makeover in hopes of attracting the guy she's crushing on, and instead attracting the character played by Seth Green.
- Heisei Rider Vs Showa Rider Kamen Rider Wars Featuring Super Sentai is easily a rehash of Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen, though focusing more on the Kamen Riders than both hero franchises. Then, they change it up and reveal that the Super Dickery actually hid actual feelings of "You Suck".
- Literally played straight as Eli Roth's 2002 film Cabin Fever is being remade with the new director utilizing the same exact script!!!
- Carnosaur 2 is Aliens, but with raptors instead of xenomorphs, a T-Rex instead of the queen alien, and a uranium mine instead of a space colony.
- Douglas Adams' novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency reused several key concepts from "Shada", a story he had written for Doctor Who but which had been unfinished due to strike action (and elements of "City of Death", which was broadcast). Another Adams novel, Life, the Universe, and Everything, began its life as a Doctor Who screenplay called The Krikketmen. It shows, as the Gotta Catch 'Em All plot is a very different sort of animal from its predecessors.
- Agatha Christie did this several times. The Poirot short story Yellow Iris became the Colonel Race novel Sparkling Cyanide; the Poirot novellas Murder in the Mews and Dead Man's Mirror (which were published together) were based on the Poirot short stories "The Market Basing Mystery" and "The Second Gong", respectively; the Poirot novel The Blue Train uses the same device as the Poirot short story "The Plymouth Express"; and two Poirot stories, "Problem at Pollensa Bay" and "The Regatta Mystery", were later rewritten to be about Mr Parker Pyne. Note that Poirot, Race and Pyne all exist in the same universe.
- When Robert E. Howard's By This Axe I Rule!, a short story featuring his barbarian king Kull of Atlantis, was rejected by Weird Tales, he changed its setting and replaced Kull with a new protagonist he had been toying with — Conan of Cimmeria — and it became "The Phoenix on the Sword", the first of nearly two dozen stories starring the character.
- In an interesting reversal, the script for a third Conan film — Conan The Conqueror — was offered to Kevin Sorbo. Sorbo balked at the role, hoping to avoid the inevitable comparisons to Arnold Schwarzenegger, so the script was modified to be about King Kull instead, giving us Kull the Conqueror. (No, we can't give it back. Should've kept the receipt.)
- Chris Van Allsburg recycled his book Jumanji, about a magic safari-themed board game that draws the players into its world, into Zathura, which is about a magic sci-fi-themed board game that draws the players into its world. Jumanji was later adapted into a movie; several years later, so was Zathura, and many of the changes to the plot of Jumanji were also put into Zathura (for instance, both films introduced a character who had been trapped in the game world since childhood, since he started a game and didn't finish it).
- Any Goosebumps book with a "II" in the title.
- The Monster Blood sub-series mostly avoided this to a degree.
- As well as Deep Trouble II, and Return to Ghost Camp...largely because they didn't have a damn thing to do with their respective originals.
- Some of the stories written for the Berenstain Bears Scouts series were simply extended versions of the episodes from the 1980s cartoon series.
- Some Jeeves and Wooster stories, about a thick-headed young English gentleman and his ingenious valet, were adapted from P. G. Wodehouse's earlier Reggie Pepper series, about a thick-headed young English gentleman and... no one in particular.
- In Le Morte d'Arthur, we get the tale of Sir Beaumains in Book VII, in which a lowly servant becomes a knight and is given an insulting nickname by Sir Kay, he goes on a quest with a damsel who mocks and degrades him endlessly, ends up proving his worth and changing the damsel's view on him, and his true identity is revealed to be Sir Gareth. In Book IX, we get the tale of Sir La Cote Male Taile, in which a lowly servant becomes a knight and is given an insulting nickname by Sir Kay, he goes on a quest with a damsel who mocks and degrades him endlessly, ends up proving his worth and changing the damsel's view on him, and his true identity is revealed to be Sir Breunor. Yeeeeeah, Deja Vu anyone?
- Malory was compiling all the Arthurian romances he knew into one volume. It's entirely possible he included the same one twice with the names changed.
- Actually, there is no known source for the Tale of Sir Gareth; although it draws on several Anglo-Saxon poems and the "Fair Unknown" genre that the La Cote clearly comes from, it has long been deemed too original to be a derivation. It is considered by most Arthurian scholars to be the only tale in the Morte to be created by Malory. La Cote Male Taile, on the other hand, came directly to Malory from the Prose Tristram, written in the 1200s.
- Donald Sobol's Two-Minute Mysteries includes a story of a man who tries to impress his date with a fake medal his great-grandfather supposedly received, marked as a medal of valor from the first battle of Bull Run. The challenge is to figure out why the medal is obviously fake. Either it's obvious because it wasn't called the first battle of Bull Run until after there was a second battle of Bull Run... or it's obvious because Sobol used the same mystery in his Encyclopedia Brown series, except with a sword instead of a medal.
- The majority of the Two-Minute Mysteries are just Encyclopedia Brown stories condensed to one page and with the crime in question upgraded from petty theft to first-degree murder.
- A monstrous race is threatening Lancre. They have mind-control powers that seemingly surpass Granny Weatherwax's headology, just as she's starting to worry that she's getting too old for this. Nanny and Magrat have to fight on without her. And then she pulls a Crowning Moment of Awesome and it turns out she had a plan all the time. Lords and Ladies or Carpe Jugulum?
- Terry Pratchett's 1991 short story "FTB" (also known as "The Megabyte Drive To Believe In Santa Claus") is Hex's subplot from Hogfather, relocated to Roundworld.
- A number of elements from Carpe Jugulum relating to recent events in Granny Weatherwax's life earlier appeared in the short story 'The Sea and Little Fishes.'
- The Long Earth was adapted from an earlier short story, 'The High Meggas.'
- The Roald Dahl adult short story "The Champion of the World" is about two men who come up with the idea of poaching pheasants by dosing raisins with sleeping pills and scattering them though the wood. There's something familiar about both title and plot...
- The conclusion to the Pip and Flinx tales, in which some last-minute brilliance by Flinx allows him to track down a Lost Technology universe-warping superweapon and thus, save the galaxy from being devoured by the Great Evil, is a Recycled Script of The End Of The Matter, in which he did the exact same thing to save two solar systems from a black hole: the threat's just been scaled up by several orders of magnitude.
- Dan Brown's Digital Fortress mentions a subplot explaining the etymology of the word "Sincere" as derived from "sine cera" which literally means "without wax" in Latin. In Digital Fortress he credits this to Spanish instead. It's explained that ancient sculptors would cover flaws in their work with wax, therefor a piece finished "without wax" would be considered honest and without flaw. Interestingly enough, Dan Brown revisits this exact same subplot when he explains "without wax" in his other book The Lost Symbol. This time crediting the etymology to Latin.note
Live Action TV
- A related phenomenon in musicals is the recycling of lyrics:
- "I Remember It Well" originally appeared in the Broadway musical Love Life, but remained extremely obscure until its lyric was recycled (with some revisions) for the movie Gigi, set to completely different music.
- "Put Me To The Test" was a Cut Song from the movie A Damsel In Distress, used as dance music only. Its lyric was salvaged and put to use in the movie Cover Girl.
- This applies to music as well. In musical theatre, recycled songs are known as "Trunk Songs" - songs that were written for one show, cut, and subsequently lay at the bottom of the composer's trunk until he was in Boston with a new show that desperately needed a new song in seconds flat, at which point he pulled the song out of the trunk (the lyrics often being replaced entirely). It's a testament to the craft of the songwriters how seamlessly some of these songs fit into their new context. A few examples:
- The music for both "One Hand, One Heart" and "Somewhere" were originally composed by Leonard Bernstein for Candide and subsequently dropped. When West Side Story required new material but Bernstein was too busy working on Candide, he handed these songs over to lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
- Jules Styne's music for one particular song had been used in - and discarded from - several shows, before it wound up permanently in Gypsy as "You'll Never Get Away From Me".
- Stephen Schwartz has stated that his music for the "Goldfarb Variations" in The Magic Show was culled from a much earlier show he wrote while still a student. The dramatic moment called for a four-part fugue - quite a technical challenge to compose - and, since Schwartz had already composed one, he decided to put it to good use.
- A related example: many of the songs cut from Stephen Sondheim's Follies were re-used by choreographer Michael Bennett as material for the show's lengthy overture. The two songs featured most prominently are "All Things Bright And Beautiful" and "That Old Piano Roll".
- Andrew Lloyd Webber does this frequently, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness. "Music of the Night" started life as "Married Man", "I Don't Know How To Love Him" was originally published under the title of "Kansas Morning", and a song called "The Heart is Slow to Learn" was written for a proposed sequel to Phantom, used as "Our Kind of Love" in The Beautiful Game, then pulled back out of that musical to serve its original purpose as the title song for Love Never Dies.
- Opera has some more blatant examples: Rossini in particular was nefarious for his extensive borrowing from his previous operas. At the time, there was greater freedom to do so, as long as the two works premiered in different towns.
- The Sera Myu used the plot of Galaxia resurrecting Queen Beryl quite a few times. Sometimes she was with the Shitenou, sometimes not. Once she was resurrected with the Amazon Trio instead. Also, many plots were pulled from the Anime or Manga, but this is to be expected.
- The song "Climbing Over Rocky Mountains" from Gilbert and Sullivan's Thespis was brazenly recycled, tune and words, in The Pirates of Penzance. Thanks to this, it is now one of only two pieces of music from Thespis's score that have survived.
- About half the songs (maybe more) of songwriter and composer Jim Steinman (famous for his collaborations with Meat Loaf) were written for, or later used in, various musical theater projects he'd either written or was on board for as part the creative team. These include: Neverland (produced at his college, which eventually led to Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" album), Wuthering Heights (produced for MTV), an aborted Batman stage musical, Tanz Der Vampire and Whistle Down The Wind.
- Specifically from Tanz der Vampire: "Totale Fnsternis" (Total Eclipse) is a remake of his smash hit Bonnie Tyler ballad "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with mostly changed lyrics (and, in the American version of the show, the audience reacted to it as a parody of the famous song - entirely unintentional). "Die Unstillbare Gier" (The Insatiable Greed) re-used the melody of his lesser hit Meat Loaf ballad "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" with completely new lyrics. And "Gott Ist Tot" (God Is Dead) and "Einladung Zum Ball" (Invitation to the Ball) both use parts of the more obscure "Original Sin" originally recorded by Pandora's Box and covered by Meat Loaf in 1995.
- One arc of Modesty Blaise had her being captured and placed in the bottom of a large hole with a bucket stuck on her head, as entertainment for two elderly murderers. The same plot was reused in an arc of Agent Corrigan.
- The Comics Curmudgeon has noticed recycling in comic strips, most blatantly in Blondie and Family Circus, which exactly duplicated the layouts of the original strips.
- Garfield has recycled gags many times in the strip's 30+ year history, including at least three instances where the same gag was used twice only one year apart. One is at the top of the page; another was a gag where Garfield is in such a hurry to get to a cup of hot chocolate that he stands on Odie. The third one was Jon giving Garfield a new cat food that was rich in fiber, only for Garfield to pull a sweater out of his dish.
- Even Garfield and Friends wasn't safe. Throughout the show, there were Quickies, which were generally old Garfield and U.S. Acres strips adapted into animation. In Season 2, a Quickie based on this strip◊ was made. In Season 4, the exact same strip was made into a Quickie again. For its credit, however, it is a bit more faithful to the original source material (Jon doesn't say the word "nice", and Garfield actually claws Jon's pant legs).
- Pluggers, being entirely driven by reader submissions, tends to have this an awful lot. Sometimes invoked when an old gag is recycled entirely and called a "classic". Naturally, this has not gone unnoticed by the aforementioned Comics Curmudgeon.
- Berke Breathed tended to reuse gags in his various comic strips. Of note: the "burger without a bun" gag, which was used in Bloom County's first comic. It came from Berke's previous comic The Academia Waltz, and was later reused AGAIN in Bloom County itself.
- Beetle Bailey, which by now has a run of about half as many strips as there are atoms in the known universe, must have recycled hundreds of its jokes, almost certainly sometimes more than once. Since there are so many strips in existence, it's just conceivable Mort Walker just can't remember which ideas he has already used. But don't bet on it.
- He seems very deliberate about reusing the gag where the officers are afraid to point out an obvious spelling mistake in the General's written instruction, and instead do exactly what the instruction says, even though it makes no sense (tacks instead of tanks, buns instead of guns, gag masks instead of gas masks, etc.)
- The comic strip Mulch once redid a week-long arc word-for-word after a change in artists. It hadn't even been a year since the previous arc ran.
- Buckles always reuses its punchlines. Really.
- Hägar the Horrible tends to be guilty of this. In general there are maybe seven or so basic setups (Hägar getting nagged on by his wife, Hägar and Lucky Eddie stuck on a deserted island, vikings attacking some noble's castle, Hägar returning from Paris...) that are repeated over and over again.
- Baby Blues occasionally does this. For example, the joke with the false weight on Wanda's driver's license was used three times.
- Peanuts did this several times, as listed on this page.
- Averted with extreme prejudice by Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side, none of which recycled an earlier comic. (Though Calvin and Hobbes twice used the joke about the 1812 Overture firing cannons in a crowded music hall. The repetition was presumably inadvertent.)
- Dilbert: Cleanup on aisle three.
- A 1998 strip has Roger complaining about how the paperboy is always throwing the morning newspaper in a puddle or in the bushes, to which Andy responds by saying that Roger should stop tipping him with a nickel every month. A later strip from 2000 has Roger complaining about how the paperboy keeps throwing the newspaper in a puddle and declares, "Starting today, no more 5-cent monthly tip for that young man!"
- A strip from 2000 has Paige channel-surfing very slowly, to the point that Peter grabs the remote and start channel-surfing very quickly, saying "This is how to do it." This same gag was used in a 2005 strip, except with Jason in place of Paige.
- A pair of strips had the exact same idea about Peter telling one of his parents saying that he doesn't want to rake the leaves until they have all fallen, so it's more efficient. The parent says they're all bare, and Peter says that there is still a few leaves on one of them, which he turned out to have attached with adhesive so they would never fall, and so he would never have to rake the leaves. The only differences are that he was talking to Roger in one and Andy in the other. he used duct tape in the Roger one and super glue in Andy one, and in the Andy one, Peter's comment was changed from a nervous "Heh heh..." to "Jason, you were supposed to hide the ladder!".
- Professional Wrestling manager/promoter Jim Cornette, out of character, has put out a "rule" that angles or gimmicks can be recycled after about seven years, due to the shifting fanbase. In fact it's the Former Trope Namer for Fleeting Demographic Rule.
- In Australia in the 1970s, there was a "war" between the Faces the People's Army (Mark Lewin, Spiros Arion, Mario Milano, Sheik Wadi Ayoub, King Curtis Iaukea) and the Heels Big Bad John's Army (Big Bad John, Abdullah the Butcher, Hiro Tojonote , Mr Fuji, Dick "The Bulldog" Brower and Waldo Von Erich). The feud was later recycled in Vancouver, with some changes. Mark Lewin, Spiros Arion and Mario Milano were all still members of the People's Army, with new members Angelo Mosca and Lord Athol Layton. Big Bad John's Army included, along with BBJ himself, Abdullah, Waldo and Brower again, the Tojo Brothers [Hito and Hironote ], Tiger Jeet Singh, Don Fargo, Brute Bernard and King Curtis Iaukea. Then there was the case of Killer Karl Kox, who spent time on both sides.
- TNA has done this with Mr. Anderson and Bully Ray in recent years. First, a frustrated Anderson would join the heel stable of the year, with Bully either being the field general or the outright leader. It would start off great until Anderson eventually hits a couple snags, at which point Bully would begin to question and antagonize him. Inevitably the tension would lead to Bully getting the group to betray and forcibly kick out Anderson. Finally, after a short time away, Anderson would return primed for vengeance, getting through everyone he has to in order to beat Bully down. Specifically, the two stables were Immortal in 2011 and the Aces & Eights in 2013—and with the latter, Anderson's victory over Bully would even force the club to disband.
- The Lights Out episodes Chicken Heart (best known today from a famous Bill Cosby routine) and Oxychloride X are the same story about a science experiment Gone Horribly Wrong, only one has a blob of mutant chicken cells that won't stop growing and the other has a powerful new corrosive chemical that won't stop dissolving things.
- Many scripts from an early radio version of The Lone Ranger were used and then sent to Canada and adapted into Dale Of The Mounted scripts. This also lampshades just how bad a role Jay Silverheels had in Tonto: When the scripts were adapted, the part of Tonto was replaced by a dog.
- The later series of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy were essentially adaptations from the last three books with a few alterations, rather than naturally following on from the second series (Secondary Phase). In the books, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect end up on prehistoric Earth after the whole ruler-of-the-universe bit, but in the radio series they had already been rescued beforehand; therefore, the whole Secondary Phase was retconned into being merely Zaphod Beeblebrox's delusional fantasies so Arthur and Ford can stay stuck on Earth. Whether Douglas Adams would have done it this way had he still been alive enough to be involved is uncertain, but director/co-producer Dirk Maggs claims he'd promised Adams to stay faithful to the plot of the book at least for the Tertiary Phase.
- Most of William Shakespeare's plays recycle plot and whole stories from pre-existing works. For example, Romeo and Juliet was based on The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brookes, which is itself believed to be a translation of an even earlier work.
- Cirque du Soleil does this occasionally by moving an established act (and often its performers) from one show to another, with costuming, staging, and music revised to fit its new home. It happened most often in The Nineties, when the company was much smaller, but still turns up today. The most extreme case was with the 1992 Japan-only tour Fascination, which mostly consisted of acts from the Le Cirque Réinventé and Nouvelle Experience tours that didn't visit that country. The visuals and theme duplicated those of Reinvente.
- BioWare RPGs Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire all feature sidequests where you end up arguing your position before a panel of five judges against an insulting opponent. The connection is more explicit between NWN and KotOR: both sidequests feature a murder trial, the player character as the defense lawyer, and a defendant who did actually commit the crime (although in one case, the defendant was not responsible for his actions).
- Mass Effect 2 also has this, though there are only four quarian admirals (one only presiding, without a vote) on the panel that judges Tali'Zorah. Unlike the previous examples, the outcome hinges on a single decision, although based on your actions, you might have more choices, as well as the more desirable options..
- This is arguably Rule of Fun (or a repeated Scrappy Level if you didn't like them).
- While speaking of Bioware, how many NPCs in the player's party has Bioware created with same trust issues?
- Also speaking of Bioware, their RPGs somehow manage to shoehorn at least one Tower of Hanoi puzzle in them (I'm not sure about Jade Empire, but there is Naga Sadow's tomb in KotOR and the Rift Station in Mass Effect 1).
- Oh look, a chart◊.
- Also every Bioware game starting with KotOR has some "prepare defense" quest, all games have some sort of gladiator fights (to be honest, almost any RPG has those) and some sort of vision quest.
- Additionally, KotOR 1 and Mass Effect 1 share similar plotlines in general: travel to about four planets/systems to retrieve information about the enigmatic MacGuffin, with a ship as your "base", while trying to make sense of your vague dreams and visions. You gather all but one of your squad on the starting planet and the central quest hub; the last is retrieved on one of the planets with information. Near the end, there's a shocking revelation that completely changes your perspective on the plot, followed by a visit to the lost world of the Precursors right before the final confrontation.
- Same goes for KotOR 2 and Mass Effect 2: gather a dysfunctional team from across the galaxy (two members of which were in your previous team) in order to take down a major threat, with the ship from the previous game as your "base". Several of your team members have less-than-honorable pasts, and trust is now a major gameplay component. This all builds up to an epic conclusion, in which many of your team members can be Killed Off for Real. (Unfortunately, in KotOR 2's case, the conclusion was almost completely cut.)
- KotOR 2 was not made by Bioware, though, so while there may be some recycled script elements (or rather, both games used the 'recruit a badass team' storyline), it's not like they recycled their own script.
- Neverwinter Nights does the exact same thing thrice, as the first three chapters all involve starting in a "hub" town and then going to four different places in any order to get an enigmatic MacGuffin from each, before finishing with a dramatic reveal and a final dungeon, wash, rinse, repeat (Chapter 3's final dramatic dungeon is Chapter 4, technically speaking).
- Speaking of KotOR 2, it featured more or less the same setup as Black Isle/Obsidian's earlier Planescape: Torment: a Humanoid Abomination (that's you) tries to become normal again (Nameless One wants his mortality back and the Exile, her connection to the Force) and their suffering draws a number of other characters with serious issues to them.
- Star Control 3 is a capital offender in this area; roughly 40% of the dialogue is ripped directly from the preceding game. The new lines are... lacking, to say the least.
- For all the talk of Warcraft in Space!, Warcraft III has the same basic plot as Starcraft, with a hero of the first campaign becoming the Villain Protagonist of the second, followed by the various good guys including the Fallen Hero's ex-love interest uniting to stop them by teaming up in the final campaign, but ultimately failing to redeem them and not stopping them for good. There are several similar missions, and the Zerg and Undead even play extremely similarly in style, complete with backstories involving godlike precursors unleashing them.
- A probably coincidental instance in animated series based on video games: The Super Mario World episode "Rock TV" has Bowser giving television sets to all the cavepeople and then hypnotizing them into turning against the Mario Bros. Ten years later, the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! episode "Un-Reality TV" has King Dedede giving television sets to all the Cappies and then hypnotizing them into turning against Kirby.
- The first Metal Gear Solid borrowed several set-pieces from both of its MSX2 predecessors, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, especially from the latter. Some of the events in Metal Gear Solid that were borrowed from previous games include:
- A puzzle which involves deactivating an electrified floor by destroying its power supply using guided missiles (previously featured in MG1).
- A boss fight with a rapid-fire weapon-wielding mercenary who is vulnerable to guided missiles (Machine Gun Kid in MG1, Vulcan Raven in MGS1).
- A ninja-like character who turns out to be one of Snake's fallen allies from the previous installment (
Black Color Black Ninja in MG2, the Cyborg Ninja in MGS1).
- An anonymous informant who warns Snake of incoming traps. One of the more notable examples, as both characters turn out to be Gray Fox (Snake's Fan in MG2, Deepthroat in MGS1).
- One of Snake's contacts turns out to be the enemy commander, who is willingly giving advice to sabotage Snake's mission (Big Boss in MG1, Master Miller/Liquid Snake in MGS1)
- The first hostage Snake must rescue has a transmitter which pinpoints his location on Snake's radar (Dr. Marv in MG2, Donald Anderson in MGS1). Both turn out to be enemy spies in disguises (Black Ninja in MG2, Decoy Octopus in MGS1)
- Snake must follow a female accomplice to the women's restroom in order to meet up with her (
Natasha Marcova Gustava Heffner in MG2, Meryl Silverburgh in MGS1)
- Snake ends up challenging Metal Gear's pilot to a fistfight (Gray Fox in MG2, Liquid Snake in MGS1)
- Actually invoked in Metal Gear Solid 2. According to some characters, one of the objects of the whole thing was to see if going through what Snake did in Metal Gear Solid would create another super-soldier; and as a result, there are many elements that subtly echo the first game, such as the fight with Fatman among the crates, similar to Vulcan Raven; having to backtrack to the beginning, similar to the rifle; a fight where the player is able to go through the middle, but doing so is a game over, with both Vamp and Ocelot; even a cyborg ninja just to have one.
- All three Uncharted games share plot elements: Evil and/or Jerkass Brits, a vehicle chase in a jeep with a rear-mounted machine gun/grenade launcher, a Public Domain Artifact that mutates its victims (and makes them incredibly annoying to fight, although the third game uses it only as part of a Meta Twist), a brief Genre Shift to Survival Horror, and a good guy getting shot only to later be revealed as surviving. Meanwhile, the first two games share even more plot points, in addition to the above: a traitor who didn't actually betray you, a Big Bad with a less-than-reliable Dragon, a forced team up with a rival against previously-mentioned mutants while you wait for your allies to rescue you, the Big Bad getting exposed to the artifact, bad guys dying Karmic Deaths as a result of the artifact, a bad guy subverting Heel-Face Turn right before death, and Those Wacky Nazis.
- It must have been made in large part as an homage, since the game Titan Quest has innumerable similarities to Diablo 2 – taking it much further than even most Diablo clones do. Consider the following...
- The first world of each game: In Diablo 2 is mostly grasslands ending in a dungeon crawl, in Titan Quest, it is the grasslands of Greece ending in a dungeon crawl.
- The second worlds: in Diablo 2 you are off to the desert where amongst other things, you fight through a valley with several large tombs only one of which contains the boss. In Titan Quest, you are off to the deserts of Egypt where at one point you find yourself in a valley with several tombs only one of which contains the boss.
- The third worlds: In Diablo 2 you go to a world of mainly forests. One quest has you searching for a jade idol. In Titan Quest, you go to China and mostly fight through forests (and heavily forested mountains). One quest involves finding a jade idol.
- Final Fantasy IV The After Years could very well be called The Recyled Years instead, as a lot of plot points and scenes of the original are repeated, often with little to no variation. Considering you face nearly every boss from the original too, it could be considered the most enviroment-friendly game ever.
- TRON 2.0 came out in 2003, was given virtually no publicity by Disney, and quickly vanished into Canon Discontinuity once TRON: Legacy came out. However, there are enough plot elements (protagonist is the son of the human protagonists, gets zapped to cyberspace when searching for his dad, gets drafted to the games and rescued by a mystery woman, goes to a bar to get what looks like the way out only to fall into an ambush...) matching up to make one wonder if the writers had the thing on multiplayer.
- The Smurfs Travel the World, a European-only release game of The Smurfs, is basically a condensed version of the Season 9 episodes from the cartoon show, only without the time travel.
- The episode "Dementia 5" was used, with very few changes, by two animated series made by the same studio. The series were Spider-Man (1967) and Rocket Robin Hood.
- "From Menace to Menace" was also used by Spider-Man (1967) and Rocket Robin Hood.
- Another episode of Spider-Man (1967), involving a scientist taking over a power plant to raise the city into the air, was re-used later. Essentially they changed a few words in the script, changed the scientist's skin color and added pointy ears, and suddenly it was involving an Atlantean using his submarine to lower the city into the ocean.
- Star Trek: The Original Series writer D.C. Fontana recycled her script for the episode "Yesteryear" from Star Trek: The Animated Series into the Land of the Lost episode "Elsewhen".
- When scifi author Larry Niven was hired to write an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, he took the plot of his short story "The Soft Weapon" and replaced three of the characters with Enterprise crew to create "The Slaver Weapon". It even featured one of his trademark alien species, the Kzinti, without alteration. (His rejected original proposal for the episode, meanwhile, became another short story, "The Borderlands of Sol".)
- DuckTales and TaleSpin both on The Disney Afternoon, did this with episodes that involved confusion over what the right date was ("Allowance Day" and "The Time Bandit", respectively), which led to an impending execution. The main character(s) were saved by a pilot (Launchpad and Baloo, respectively) who scooped away the clouds to reveal what day it really was (with an eclipse and a comet, respectively), proving who was right. Baloo mentioned that he was the first pilot who had ever done something like this, despite the fact that TaleSpin came out after DuckTales. (It could be argued that because TaleSpin takes place in what appears to be The Thirties, Baloo would have been the first chronologically; a view taken by at least one crossover comic.)
- It's worth noting that "Allowance Day" and "The Time Bandit" were written by the same writers.
- The Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode "Bubble Trouble" has the same plot as The Smurfs episode "St. Smurf and the Dragon".
- The Smurfs themselves would recycle the same plot of Season 1's "The Fake Smurf", with "The Baby Smurf" (also Season 1) and "The Mr. Smurf Contest" (Season 5).
- Many of the early Hanna-Barbera series reused stories from old Tom and Jerry cartoons (understandable, since the studio was made up of former MGM artists), as well as a few Looney Tunes (Some of the Warners story men wrote for HB). For example, the T&J short "Pecos Pest", about a relative of Jerry's from Texas who comes to practice for a TV appearance and uses Tom's whiskers as guitar strings, was redone as a Pixie and Dixie short. Similarly, the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Windblown Hare", in which the Three Little Pigs sell Bugs their homes just as the Big Bad Wolf arrives, was redone with Yogi Bear.
- Bravestarr has two episodes, "No Drums, No Trumpets" and "To Walk a Mile", that have the same plot: "a former Galactic Marshal, who has sworn off guns due to a tragic incident in his past, is looked down upon by his child. Then, said child is kidnapped by bad guys, forcing him to take up his weapon once more." Alan Oppenheimer even voiced the former Marshal character in both episodes.
- An unfinished SWAT Kats episode called "The Curse of Kataluna" had its script recycled to make the Jonny Quest The Real Adventures episode "Eclipse" and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.
- Take a typical episode of Wacky Races, find a visual gag involving Dick Dastardly's attempt to stop the other racers, and the odds are even that you'll find an identical gag in a Chuck Jones Road Runner cartoon. (Michael Maltese is credited as a writer on both series.)
- The Hey Arnold! April Fools' Day episode was a 30 minute version of their previous episode "Beaned"; both episodes involve Helga faking an injury long after she's actually healed from it to have Arnold take care of her.
- The resolution of these two episodes are completely different, though. In "Beaned," Helga's conscience gets the better of her for taking advantage of Arnold's kindness and she fakes her 'recovery' so that he's let off the hook. In "April Fools Day," when Arnold learns that Helga's faking her injury in order to prank him, he retaliates with an audacious prank of his own before she can spring her trap. (Since "AFD" is supposedly set post-movie, the differences in outcomes for each story show a subtle change in dynamic between the two - Arnold's passivity to Helga's aggression is slowly evolving into a good-natured 'contest of equals' between the two.)
- The Family Guy episode "The Splendid Source" was adapted from a short story of the same name which Richard Matheson wrote in 1956. It shows in that the episode's humor is much more sedate than the norm for the show, and is almost completely devoid of cutaway jokes.
- A Cutaway Gag in "Death Has a Shadow" shows Peter drinking the communion wine at church and then cracking a joke about how Jesus Christ was wasted everyday. About a season later in "Fifteen Minutes of Shame", the gag is reused, but DVD Commentary states that the reuse of the gag was purely by accident.
- The episode "Trading Places" has the exact same premise as the Step by Step episode of the same name, with more or less the same results.
- It's probably just a coincidence, but the last part of "Arise, Serpentor, Arise"! (G.I. Joe) and the entire episode of "Atlantis Arise!" (The Transformers) have a few similarites: the villians of the series attack Washington, DC, are defeated by the heroes, and the treacherous character voiced by Chris Latta saves his leader (receiving no gratitude for doing so). Of course, Cobra don't ally themselves with mer-creatures, and the Decepticons don't create a new leader, but even so...
- A few later episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants seem to have recycled plots from other Nicktoons. "Toy Store of Doom", for example, has essentially the same plot as the Rugrats episode "Toy Palace" (they get locked in the toy store after it closes for the night and are afraid the toys will attack them), while "Banned in Bikini Bottom" (Krabby Patties are outlawed and Mr. Krabs starts selling them at SpongeBob's house secretly) is similar to the CatDog episode "Just Say CatDog Sent Ya," in which Farburg Burger Bones are banned from Nearburg and CatDog stars selling them at a speakeasy in an underground cellar.
- "Picture Day" was a recycled script from the Recess episode "One Stayed Clean". An earlier episode recycling a script from the show would be "Big Pink Loser", which was almost identical to "Copycat Kid".
- Many cartoons made by De Patie Freleng Enterprises are recycled from old Looney Tunes scripts, one instance being that "Greedy for Tweety" was remade as The Ant and the Aardvark short "From Bed to Worse". Of course the studio was mostly made up of old Warner animators.
- Friz Freling even recycled a few of his own Looney Tunes scripts within Looney Tunes itself. For example, the basic plots of "His Bitter Half" and "Honey's Money" are the same: A money-grubbing man (Daffy Duck in the former, Yosemite Sam in the latter) marries a woman for her money, and eventually has to take care of the woman's son. They even share a scene: The shooting gallery where the son makes it seem like Daffy or Sam is shooting at the barker. "Hmm...must have rick-o-shetted!"
- The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Haunted House" is recycled from an unproduced Tiny Toon Adventures short. See the original storyboards here.
- Cartoon writer David Wise did this a lot:
- The Simpsons episodes "Million Dollar Abie" and "The Boys of Bummer" both involve a member of the Simpson family (Grampa and Bart respectively) becoming a pariah over a sports-related mishap, to the point they attempt suicide. Though in the former's case, it only took over the first act, whereas the latter became the episode's main dilemma.
- The Courage the Cowardly Dog episode Curtain of Cruelty has an identical plot to The Tower of Dr. Zalost; a scientist causes the entire town of Nowhere to become miserable, just like him (cruel in the former episode and depressed in the latter), and the solution involves one of Muriel's homemade recipes (fabric softener in the former and "happy plums" in the latter). Also, Eustace is immune because of his curmudgeoness. Both episodes do have several differences though, for instance Dr. Zalost is a full 30-minute episode, while Curtain of Cruelty is a normal 15-minute short.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is an extended musical version of the episode "Death". Here, Kyle's mom overreacts to Terrance and Phillip and gets the other parents to protest against them (only mass suicide is changed to war).
- "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset" is a gender-flipped version of "South Park is Gay!".
- Similarly with the above, The Powerpuff Girls Movie is almost an expansion of "Mr. Mojo's Rising", detailing about how the girls were created and how Mojo Jojo became who he is today.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episodes "Gamma World" and "Code Red" both have a villain using a fictional brand of science to disfigure crowds of people, Captain America, The Wasp, and Black Panther becoming disfigured, at least one Avenger having the antidote (created by another crimefighter) shot into himself or herself, and Thor evading a transformation before engaging in a side battle with a gamma-powered monster.
- "Powerless!" has some plot elements blatantly copied from Thor's movie. Namely, Thor becomes a mortal, Loki tries to kill him with Destroyer armor, Thor sacrifices himself to protect mortal companions from the Destroyer, and Thor regains his hammer and his immortality as rewards for his selflessness.
- The Little Mermaid episode "Metal Fish" and the The Legend Of Tarzan episode "The Mysterious Stranger" both involve the title characters meeting men who turn out to be the authors of the stories they were based on.
- Kaput & Zosky was rather fond of this, recycling not just scripts but entire episodes themselves. One episode has them try to take over a planet, only to find all of its inhabitants fleeing because it is about to be destroyed at sundown. Kaput and Zoski try to flee, only to have the planet blow up beneath them. The episode was later repackaged as a new episode, with only new dialogue used, with the plot changed to the planet, this time a popular tourist destination, becoming unpopular.
- Martha Speaks intentionally used the same basic script for "Martha Smells" and "Martha Hears" which were part of the same episode. This is explained as T.D. copying Helen's script with some minor changes. The end of "Martha Smells" foreshadows the end of "Martha Hears". "Martha Hears" had some of the characters wondering if the same situation already happened.
- Kim Possible gives us a Father's Day episode where teenage Ron doesn't want to hang out with his father, an actuary. The Dad then has to save the day to win his son's respect. The same plot is used in American Dragon: Jake Long with Jake and his father (also an actuary.) Both series used the same writing staff and the episodes premiered within 24 hours of each other, making the borrowing all the more egregious.
- Sonic Underground noticeably recycled plots from DIC Entertainment's previous two Sonic cartoons. "Winner Fakes All" uses the same basic plot as the Sonic Sat AM episode "Sonic Racer", and "Sonic Tonic" is the same basic plot as the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Full-Tilt Tails".
- Sym-Bionic Titan:
- The entire premise of is very similar to the episode "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess" of Genndy Tartakovsky's Samurai Jack. Both even feature their robot companion dying, only in Sym-Bionic Titan, said robot is revived.
- The episode "Tashy 497" could be this to The Powerpuff Girls episode "Pet Feud".
- The Flintstones episode "Christmas Flintstone" would be expanded into an hour-long special A Flintstone Christmas in 1977.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Ponyville Confidential" bears similarities to the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Truth or Ed" and the Sponge Bob Squarepants post-movie episode "The Krabby Khronicle".
- Speaking of SpongeBob, there has been a comparison between "Read It and Weep" and "Just One Bite".
- "Sisterhooves Social": Rarity and Sweetie Belle get on each other's nerves to the point where Sweetie Belle disowns Rarity as a sister. The two meet again later on a camping trip Sweetie Belle is having with Applejack and Apple Bloom, but tensions remain high between them. Sweetie Belle realizes that Rarity is a sister worth having after participating in, although not winning, the Sisterhooves Social race. "Oh, Brother!": Mario and Luigi get on each other's nerves to the point where Luigi disowns Mario as a brother. The two meet again later in the middle of a rainstorm, but tensions remain high between them. Luigi realizes that Mario is a brother worth having after saving him from one of Bowser's schemes.
- "Hearts and Hooves Day" is similar to The Powerpuff Girls' "Keen on Keane". It involved the trio being Shipper on Deck and ensuing disasters. The love interest is both cases is a female kindergarten teacher (Ms. Keane, Cheerilee) and an older male relative (Prof. Utonium, Big Macintosh.)
- A possibly unintentional one, but "A Canterlot Wedding" is similar to parts of the South Park episode "Succubus". Both involve the protagonist(s) finding something off about their friend's fiancee and accuse her of being evil, leading to her running off in tears and the friend to call out the protagonist(s) even though (s)he/they was/were right in a way. The difference is that while the South Park boys hated Chef's fiancee Veronica from the start and she was clearly an evil monster, Twilight Sparkle's reason was more tragic because the wedding was between her older brother Shining Armor and her beloved foal-sitter Princess Cadence, who turns out to have been kidnapped by Queen Chrysalis, the ruler of the Changelings who happens to prey on Shining Armor's love by taking on Cadence's form.
- "Maud Pie" is similar to the Hey Arnold! episode "Weird Cousin". Both episodes have a character's rather peculiar relative visit the main cast. Coincidentally, Pinkie Pie's sister Maud speaks in the same monotone as Arnold's cousin Arnie.
- Many Popeye cartoons from Famous Studios were remakes of old Fleischer Studios shorts, such as "The Anvil Chorus Girl" (based on "Shoein' Hosses") and "Penny Antics" (based on "Customers Wanted").
- The plot of "Olive's Boithday Presink", especially the gag of the hunted tricking the hunter into thinking he has a family, was reused in the Looney Tunes short "Duck Soup to Nuts". Both were written by the same guy.
- An episode of I Am Weasel used this for a Take That; Weasel and Baboon are filming a cartoon with the Red Guy as the director, and eventually Weasel points out that in the script, you can see the part where they crossed out "Bugs" and wrote in "Buster", and again the part where Red crossed out "Buster" and wrote in "Weasel".
- The King of the Hill episode "A Man Without A Country Club", where Hank is offered membership to Nine Rivers, an exclusive, Asian-only country club, but as a Token Minority so they club wouldn't lose a tour by Tiger Woods, is a Race Lift of the The Jeffersons episode "Tennis, Anyone?", where George is offered membership at an all-white country club whose charter might be revoked.