This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Recycled Script

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/recycled_4981.jpg
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..."
Superdickery on Lois Lane #78

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 for it.

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, as well as Same Story, Different Names. Compare Yo Yo Plot Point, where a particular arc or plot point repeats itself.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    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.
  • Pokémon:
  • Naruto:
    • 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.
    • Kimimaro and Haku have almost the exact same backstories of ostracized and orphaned bloodline limit carriers found by desertor ninja, to whom they consider themselves merely tools. Both even hail from the same village.
  • 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.
  • Happens several times throughout every Doraemon series. Stories that showcased items such as Memory Bread, the Sky Horse note , and the Puppet Master's Camera have been re-used at least once.
  • 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.
    • Dressrossa can be considered this in comparison to Alabasta, as both feature a Warlord of the Sea plotting to take over a country, resulting in a civil war. Then again, in Dressrossa's case, Doflamingo actually succeeded a long time ago, and this time, the Straw Hats, their allies and the former royal family end up essentially starting a rebellion against Doflamingo and his allies. The similarity is touched upon, though, and used as a reason why the Seven Warlords should be abolished.
  • 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.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket introduced two Star-Crossed Lovers, Bernard "Bernie" Wiseman and Christina "Chris" Mackenzie. The problem is that Bernie is a Zeon commando and Chris is an Earth Federation officer and they're both oblivious that they're on each opposing side. In the end, Chris unknowingly killed Bernie who was piloting a Zaku with the Gundam Alex. Adding insult to injury, in their final farewells to Al (Bernie via recorded video), both Bernie and Chris ask him to say hi to the other for them. Al's the only one that knows the truth of the situation. Two Sunrise shows, Outlaw Star and Tiger & Bunny, had one episode with the similar premise: one of the main characters fell in love with a mysterious girl who reciprocates but turns out to be the enemy and the girl doesn't know that the guy is the opponent. Unlike Gundam 0080, the result is gender-flipped: the guy unknowingly kills the girl that he loved and after that, waits for her not knowing that she will never come back to see him. Though in Tiger & Bunny's case, the girl in question is an android who is programmed to eliminate superheroes. She didn't attack the guy at first because he's in his civilian identity.
  • The 102nd episode of PriPara has the same plot as the 31st episode of Yo Kai Watch: both episodes involved characters taking part in the filming of a movie and playing roles they do not think suit them, causing things to go wrong with the production.
  • Though entire plots being recycled is rare, Yu-Gi-Oh! loves to recycle specific elements. For instance, "villains attempt to steal the souls of hundreds or thousands of people, typically as a ritual to unlock some kind of greater power or Sealed Evil in a Can, picking off the supporting cast one by one before the main character defeats the villain and everyone is restored to life" is a plot point that recurs many times, starting with the Doma arc of the original series and continuing with the Supreme King and Darkness arcs of GX, the Dark Signers arc of 5D's, the Barian Emperor Onslaught arc of ZEXAL, and the entire run of ARC-V. The "Ceremonial Duel" plot (at the end of the series, after the Big Bad has been defeated, the protagonist faces a character who's not evil, but whose defeat is intended to be important for Character Development) has also recurred in every series to date, though the circumstances vary heavily.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • It's also not uncommon to find stories that, due to Values Dissonance, have had text bubbles, individual panels, or sometimes even entire pages edited to change what is now a Family-Unfriendly Aesop into something acceptable by today's standards. They tend to REALLY stand out due to the sudden shift in art style and different font.
    • Not many people realize the acclaimed, 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 Archie Comics' 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... which itself was probably an homage to The Prisoner of Zenda.
  • A Christmas Special for the Italian comic Lupo Alberto blatantly recycled the main plot from Futurama's episode "The Sting", replacing the planet of giant bees with a frozen lake.
  • 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, although the fans simply thought it was a fun piece of 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.
  • The Hack/Slash arc "Super Sidekick Sleepover Slaughter" was recycled by the comic's writer Tim Seeley from a rejected pitch for a Slasher Movie parody miniseries featuring Marvel Universe teen heroes. The Marvel characters were replaced by Public-Domain Character superheroes from Golden Age comics.
  • DC creative has been, in various ways, trying to undo Crisis on Infinite Earths for decades. The first major attempt was The Kingdom, which introduced the concept of Hypertime, the first attempt at the "All stories are canon somewhere" approach. Hypertime, however, was only a minor concept and not a company-wide event, which meant the few writers that understood it could use it while everyone else ignored its existence. When Hypertime failed to catch on, the next attempt came during 52, which established only 52 alternate universes rather than the "infinite" which had existed before. Convergence once again establishes a truly "infinite" multiverse where every story that's ever been published happened on some Earth, somewhere.
  • One common criticism of the X-Men books under All-New, All-Different Marvel is that it's a much more poorly-executed rehash of the Decimation era, with mutants once again facing extinction.
  • Civil War II is, blow-by-blow, the very same thing as the original Civil War with the situation, the heroes involved and the characters killed changed around.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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:
  • 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 6, the exact same strip was made into a Quickie again. To 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.
  • Dilbert: Cleanup on aisle three.
  • FoxTrot:
    • 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!".
    • A weekday strip where Paige runs frantically to her classes because she was constantly late, only to go to P.E. on time, was later recycled as a Sunday strip. The only difference between the two is that the Sunday version had Nicole telling Paige that it's very ironic.
  • An accidental example where Pearls Before Swine did a storyline where Rat asked congress to give bailout to newspaper comics. Right after Stephan Pastis drew this, Darrin Bell's Candorville did a similar storyline. Pastis ended up telling Bell that he did a similar story to be published later, and that he drew it before he saw the other strips. Bell responded by having Rat appear in his strip the same day the story in Pearls began.
  • During the final years of the TV Comics Doctor Who comic strip, a number of previously published stories featuring the Third (and in one case the Second) Doctor were reprinted, using the original art with the Fourth Doctor's head pasted in.

    Fan Works 
  • 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 & 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.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Yoda's Holocron Force ghost Lampshades this when the Trans-Galactic Republic starts growing a Clone Army to take on the Flood. Beyond that, smuggler Scarlett DeWinter seems to realize that an endless cycle of coups is normal for her galaxy, muttering about a "foolish hope that someone will not repeat the same mistake that has been made thousands of times."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
    • On the big screen, the '60s 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. Die Another Day also 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 villain 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.
  • And John Carpenter has admitted that Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) is a city-slum version of Rio Bravo. He wanted to make a Western, but couldn't do it within his budget.
  • Speaking of John Carpenter, his movie Escape from L.A. was basically a wholesale rehash of Escape from New York, so much so that you could practically take the script of the latter, change the names of people and locations without touching any of the rest of the script, and you'd almost have the former.
  • 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.
  • Wild Wild West has itself been accused of ripping off "Showdown".
  • 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 2: 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".
  • Eli Roth's 2002 film Cabin Fever was remade with the new director utilizing the exact same 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.
  • The Davy Jones plot in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has more than a few similarities to the Barbossa plot in the first movie. Both of them involve a battle against a tyrannical pirate captain from Jack Sparrow's past who rules over a crew of undead pirates who were rendered immortal by an ancient curse, with both sides squabbling over the supernatural treasure that can finally lift the curse, and one of the main trio ending up as a captive on his ship. That might have been why the filmmakers added Cutler Beckett and the extended Pelegostos Tribe section; if the movie had been only the battle against Davy Jones, the similarities would have been even more distracting.
  • The Force Awakens echoes A New Hope quite strongly, hitting most of the same beats even if it does manage to keep things fresh enough to prove that Tropes Are Not Bad. Still, George Lucas complained that while he liked the movie, Disney made it too retro, as in the so-divisive prequels Lucas at least tried something different.
  • Pitch Perfect 2 ended up rehashing much of the original Pitch Perfect, but to a more extreme degree: a national competition became international, a "friendly" competition between fellow students became a high-stakes competition held by a wealthy sponsor, Beca's job went from the campus radio station to an actual music label, and so on.
  • Power Rangers (2017) begins with three high school kids from different social groups in detention, who end up finding ancient colored stones belonging to a former Ranger and being granted powers by them. The former ranger becomes their mentor. This is essentially how Power Rangers Dino Thunder started.

    Literature 
  • 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 of 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 of 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 whole "Granny goes up and sulks in the gnarly ground" scene was written for 'TSALF', but cut because it slowed the story down; the original version appears in the back of the collection A Blink of the Screen.
    • 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.
    • Both Icerigger and For Love Of Mother-Not feature outnumbered heroes using the same gimmick to destroy an overwhelming enemy force: creating a smell that attracts an unstoppable herd of giant-sized alien herbivores to trample the enemy en masse.
  • 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 
  • Michael Connelly novels featuring detective Harry Bosch:
    • Lost Light ends with a violent confrontation between the bad guy and Harry Bosch at Bosch's house. The Crossing, published over a decade later, ends with a violent confrontation between Bosch and the bad guy at Bosch's house.
    • In The Concrete Blonde Bosch finds out that his partner, Jerry Edgar, is leaking information from the investigation to a defense lawyer. He originally swears to wreck Edgar's career, but relents and lets him off the hook. In later novel The Drop, Bosch finds out that his partner, David Chu, is leaking information from the investigation to a reporter. He originally swears to wreck Chu's career, but relents and lets him off the hook.
    • The Closers involves a relative of the victim deliberately getting himself arrested so he can kill the bad guy. The Drop involves a victim deliberately getting himself arrested so he can kill the bad guy. The difference is that the avenger in The Closers is successful, while in The Drop Bosch saves the bad guy's life Just in Time.
  • The Plot Twist in Agatha Christie's Towards Zero, in many respects, mirrors The Mysterious Affair at Styles. In both novels, the murder case seem really straightforward, with only one plausible suspect that has a bunch of evidence against them. However, they are revealed to have a solid alibi during the time of the murder, and were cleared of the charges. In both cases, the initial prime suspect was actually the murderer after all, having deliberately planted evidence against himself that can be easily proven false.
  • The 1940 Horatio Hornblower short story "Hornblower and the Hand of Destiny" reads like a prototype for Forester's later novel Lieutenant Hornblower. Junior lieutenant Hornblower is menaced by a tyrannical captain, there's a mutiny, and then the ship engages in a victorious action on a Spanish target that distracts from the toxic atmosphere, after which the captain is permanently disabled by someone he'd victimized and Hornblower is promoted. In the story, Captain Courtenay is crippled by the seaman Fletcher during the attack; Hornblower sees it happen but declines to intervene or make it known, and he ends up as first lieutenant of the ship. The novel greatly expands on the abuses a captain could inflict unchecked. Captain Sawyer is incapacitated after a fall which shatters what sanity he had left, but it's made a mystery—he could have been pushed by a midshipman he'd singled out for abuse, by Hornblower himself, or he could simply have tripped. Hornblower claims not to have witnessed it, but that it's most likely the last one. The ship goes on to destroy a Spanish fort, and Sawyer is killed when their prisoners mutiny. Hornblower ends with a promotion to commander (though only temporarily, thanks to the Peace of Amiens).

    Musical Theatre 
  • 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.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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.
  • In 1995, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga had in two of the same types of matches he had in W*ING three years earlier against two of the same opponents he face in them. A Fire Death match against Mr. Pogo and a Spike Nail Death Match against Leatherface. The difference this time was that they were under the FMW banner.
  • 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.

    Radio 
  • 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 Hitchhiker's 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.
  • The Jack Benny Program reused many scripts, mainly from 1953-1955. This was due to the television show becoming a higher priority than radio. Many shows that weren't strictly a reused script still reused routines from earlier shows, Dennis Day's songs, and the Sportsmen's commercials. Even the TV show often reused old scripts from the radio series. The Christmas shopping episodes, in particular, go clear back to 1939 in a recognizable form.
  • During the latter years of The Men from the Ministry's original fifteen-year run, several episodes where recycled from early ones, with just names/places/assignments changed. Examples include "Oil Well that Ends Well" and "All that Glitters" (a oil/gold deposit is "found" from Hyde Park) as well as "How Now Brown Cow?" and "Ballet Nuisance" (a cow/pig is mistaken for an important foreign person).
    • However, the ultimate example occurred in the Finnish run: the episode "The Ship That Wagged Its Tail" was accidentally translated twice, in 1980 and 1997, and the mistake was noticed only after the latter's broadcast.

    Real Life 
  • Sometimes this is done very deliberately in political campaigns. Case in point: here's a 2012 campaign ad. Look familiar? That's probably because it's a Take That! mocking a certain 2008 campaign ad from the other team.
  • A republic that has a corrupt or dysfunctional legislature, allowing a leader to overstepping his authority and trying to consolidate power away from the legislature with the rationale that desperate times call for desperate measures. Are we talking about Roman Empire, Revolutionary France, 1930 Germany, post-2000 United States/Russia, and too many other nations? As George Santayana stated, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    Music Videos 
  • A scene in The B-52s' video for "Roam" where a banana goes through a bagel seems to have been recycled from Devo's video for "That's Good" where a french fry penetrates a donut's hole.

    Theater 
  • 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 '90s, 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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).
    • 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 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.
  • World of Warcraft: The Alliance and Horde are conducting a joint assault against a villainous mutual enemy. They are led by the previous expansion's human faction leader. The battle seems to be going well, but suddenly the Horde betray the Alliance, causing massive casualties and the death of the human faction leader. Later it is revealed that there were extenuating circumstances and the Horde wasn't really at fault, but this is not clearly communicated to the Alliance, and another Alliance King who has previously suffered great loss at the Horde's hands sees the attack as proof they are irredeemable and declares open war. Now, what is the event being described here: Wrath of the Lich King's Wrathgate, or Legion's Broken Shore?
  • 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 and a different character as Deepthroat in MGS2).
    • 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.
  • The first 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. Add in other elements like Abraxas, the living virus in TRON: Evolution, having a very similar appearance and MO as Thorne in 2.0 and being set up as the Big Bad, only to be revealed as mere patsy, though Abraxas had a much more tragic backstory than Thorne. It makes 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 Pokédex entries in later Pokémon games tend to be copied from earlier games (for instance, any Pokémon not present in the Unova Dex in Gen V gets their entry from Platinum repeated). This is very noticeable with Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, since the Hoenn Dex entries are the longest in the series, making the foreigners' entries look comparatively underdetailed. Of course, since there are over 721 Pokémon as of Gen VI, this is understandable.
  • Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm seems to borrow more than a few things from Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. The ending comes from Return of the Jedi.
  • Metroid: Other M rehashes several plot points from Metroid: Fusion : in both games, Samus investigates a massacre in a space station divided in sectors based on habitats from a planet, takes orders from a computer in Fusion and Adam Malkovitch in Other M (they’re actually the same person), reminisces her past through inner monologues and discovers near the end a secret lab designed to re-create the metroids as weapons for the Galactic Federation. Both games ends with Samus escaping the autodestruction of the station. On the other hand, Other M has several side plots that are not present in Fusion.
  • Bayonetta 2 reuses many of the same general plot elements and general cinematography from the first game, but manages to combine them in a different way. Given the Time Travel themes present in both, it works surprisingly well.
  • The plot of Injustice: Gods Among Us is effectively the Justice League episode "A Better World" (the League deals with alternate versions of themselves who've decided to take over the world after a villain kills someone close to them, the first act by the newly-Fascist League being their Superman killing the one responsible, the alternate Batman assists the League) with a healthy scoop of the Superman: The Animated Series "Brave New Metropolis" (the reason for Superman going fascist is the death of Lois Lane, the alternate Lex Luthor decides to kill Superman with Kryptonite) and a pinch of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (the alternate Luthor is on the side of the angels and the alternate Slade Wilson decides to assist the League), set off by a mixture of The Killing Joke (The Joker decides to drive one of Batman's allies insane and to do so, targets one of said ally's loved ones), The Dark Knight (the loved one targeted by the Joker is the lover of said ally and, unlike Commissioner Gordon and much like the film's version of Two-Face and even Ethan Bennett, it works), and Kingdom Come (the lover being Lois, Superman losing touch with humanity, and the tragedy driving a superhero to kill the Joker despite him being in police custody).
  • Silent Hill and Silent Hill 3 reuse the same plot, but manage to keep a few things different. In the first game, a cult is using a girl to have her birth their god, one of the members of the cult wants out (and is killed off later on), the leader of the cult is killed by the god they were trying to bring out, and a cop helps you out. In the third game, it's the same thing, but the twist is the main character you're playing as is the same girl abused from the first game, only reincarnated and with a different identity. Her father, who was the protagonist from the first game, is killed off halfway through the game. She also has the cult's god inside her.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice:
    • Case 5 reuses a big part of the plot of case 4 from Justice for All. In a nutshell, Maya has been kidnapped and the kidnapper threats Phoenix with killing her if he doesn't prove his client innocent in court. The main difference this time around is that the player is Locked Out of the Loop until halfway through the trial, as though you were playing as Edgeworth in Justice for All. But it's Apollo you play as.
    • The DLC case, "Turnabout Time Traveler", features two siblings suffering a car accident. One of them dies. This is the main reason behind the murder both in this case and "Reunion, and Turnabout" from Justice for All.
  • The demo case for New Dangan Ronpa V3 is a blow-for-blow reenactment of the first case of Dangan Ronpa, down to the victim. It's even noted that this is the second time Yasuhiro has been killed in the demo case. The demo's ending reveals the whole thing was staged and Monokuma, Makoto, Hajime, and even Yasuhiro himself were all in on it.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Times Like This took a strip from 2008... and recycled it (in honor of Earth Day) in 2010. The setup and punchline were the same; only the webcomics referenced, and some of the dialogue, were different.
  • Square Root of Minus Garfield loves to point out this trope.
  • The dialogue in Jerkcity is made up of chat logs. Some strips use slightly modified versions of dialogue already published in earlier strips.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal did the same joke about a kid tricking Jesus into drinking his own blood about a year apart, right down to the same votey. Zack pointed it out himself in the commentary for the day after.
  • While Basic Instructions did admit to revisiting old subjects to provide a fresh take, as well as rerunning old strips as needed, Scott was very adamant about not flat-out reusing a script. The one time he nearly did, as described in the commentary, was what convinced him it was time to hang up the comic.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Looney Tunes: "Tin Pan Alley Cats" uses the same panning shot over Wackyland as "Porky in Wackyland". "Dough for the Do-Do" is a shot-for-shot colorized "Porky in Wackyland".
  • 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.
  • SWAT Kats:
  • 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.)
  • Family Guy:
  • 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 villains of the series attack Washington, D.C., 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 starts 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".
    • "Fear of a Krabby Patty" partially recycles its plot from the episode "Graveyard Shift". Both episodes involve Mr. Krabs changing the Krusty Krab's business hours to run for 24 hours a day despite not having the staff necessary to do so, but for different reasons; in "Graveyard Shift" it's because he's discovered that he can get more customers if the Krusty Krab was always open, and in "Fear of a Krabby Patty" it's to spite Plankton after he opens the Chum Bucket for 23 hours (setting his plan for the episode into motion). The main difference is that in "Graveyard Shift" we only see the Krusty Krab open for one night shift and in "Fear of a Krabby Patty" we see it open for 43 days straight.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • The episode "What's The Big Idea" borrows a similar premise to the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Too Tall Tails", in that the villain grows one of the main characters (in The Powerpuff Girls' case, the whole trio) to gigantic size so that they cause more harm to a city than good.
    • 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.
  • 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 Freleng 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 scene in All This and Rabbit Stew where Bugs Bunny fools the hunter with a hollow log over a cliff was re-used in the Bugs Bunny cartoon The Big Snooze, only with Elmer Fudd used instead.
    • Gorilla My Dreams and Apes of Wrath both revolve around Bugs getting adopted by a gorilla and her husband trying to get rid of him.
  • Baby Looney Tunes seems to have recycled plots from other cartoons where infants are the main characters. "Like A Duck to Water" is similar to the Muppet Babies episode, "Beach Blanket Babies", wherein one of the characters is afraid to go swimming for the first time (Baby Daffy in the former, Baby Fozzie in the latter), while "Leader of the Pack" essentially uses the same plot as the Rugrats episode, "Tommy and the Secret Club", wherein one of the characters starts their own secret club and makes their friends do certain tasks for them in order to join (Baby Daffy in the former, Angelica in the latter).
  • 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 (no relation to the video game composer) did this a lot:
  • The Simpsons
    • The 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.
    • "Stark Raving Dad" featured the town being excited over Michael Jackson's supposed visit. "Lisa Goes Gaga" is the same scenario, only with Lady Gaga.
    • The episodes that focus on Homer and Marge's marriage crisis, Homer getting a job, Bart getting a new girlfriend, and Lisa wanting to be popular (usually when she befriends a one-time character). They're the most used plots in this show.
    • "Bart Sells His Soul" had Moe remake his bar into Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag to make more money. Later episodes had him remake the bar into a swanky hipster joint, and an English style restaurant, although the conflicts addressed in each episode are subtly differed, and the bar usually was only the starting point.
    • The subplot for "Realty Bites", where Snake tries to kill Homer when he buys his car at a police auction, was previously used in The Flintstones episode "Fred's Second Car".
    • In a rare instance of The Simpsons borrowing a plot from Family Guy, the "Treehouse of Horror XIV" short "Reaper Madness" involves Homer accidentally killing Death and having to take his place when he creates a world without death, much like the Family Guy episode "Death is a Bitch" where Peter has to take Death's place after the latter twists his ankle.
  • 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:
  • 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 & Zösky is 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 Zösky try to flee, only to have the planet blow up beneath them. The episode is 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:
    • Kim Possible gives us a Father's Day episode ("Mathter & Fervant") 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.
    • In addition, Kim Possible and Doug both have an episode ("Kimitation Nation" and "Doug's En Vogue") in which the main character inspires a fashion line, but it doesn't help their popularity at school, since everyone thinks they are just copying the look to get noticed. note  It's perhaps worth noting that Kayte Kutch and Sheryl Scarborough, who wrote the former episode, were also writers on Doug.
  • Sonic Underground noticeably recycled plots from DIC Entertainment's previous two Sonic cartoons. "Winner Fakes All" uses the same basic plot as the Sonic SatAM 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".
  • An episode of The Flintstones titled "Christmas Flintstone" was expanded into an hour-long special called A Flintstone Christmas in 1977. Three of the songs in "A Flintstone Christmas" were recycled from "A Christmas Story", a TV special Hanna-Barbera made in 1972.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Ticket Master", Twilight is given two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala. She takes one for herself but can't decide on which of her then-new friends is most deserving of the other and eventually the whole town pesters her for the ticket. An episode of My Little Pony Tales had a similar premise. In "And the Winner Is...", Clover is given two concert ball tickets and can't decide on who deserves the extra one.
    • "Ponyville Confidential" bears similarities to the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Truth or Ed" and the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Krabby Khronicle", where the characters get involved in a slanderous newspaper business.
    • 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.)
    • "Putting Your Hoof Down" recycles the premise of another Powerpuff Girls episode entitled "Bubblevicious". Both stories involve the most sensitive main character wanting to prove that she has a spine, and ends up going too far with her newfound confidence.
    • 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.
    • "Magical Mystery Cure" and "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" share a similar formula: both are Musical Episodes where the protagonists undergo a major transformation after solving a major cutie mark-related issue. In the former, Twilight grows wings after figuring out how to return her friends' swapped cutie marks to normal and is crowned a Princess of Equestria. In the latter, the Cutie Mark Crusaders discover they share a talent for helping others understand their own talents after helping Diamond Tiara through a mark-induced identity crisis, which leads to them earning their cutie marks.
    • The episode "Rarity Takes Manehattan" is very similar to a Family Ties episode called "Designing Woman" where Mallory finds out a co-worker is stealing her fashion design ideas.
      • It also has much in common with an episode of its sister show, Littlest Pet Shop (2012), "Plane It On Rio!" In both episodes, a fashionista travels to a distant city to participate in a major event and meets an old acquaintance, who proceeds to steal and plagiarize the fashionista's ideas, and she resolves the issue by creating even better designs to defeat her unscrupulous rival. Both episodes also debuted within a month of each other.
    • "The Crystalling" involves the birth of Shining Armor and Princess Cadence's baby Flurry Heart. Upon birth, she involuntarily uses her magic. That aspect is similar to "Fairly Odd Baby", in which the newborn Poof has no control over his magic. Coincidentally, the baby's cry causes something bad to happen, although the danger triggered by Flurry Heart's crying was by accident.
    • The episodes "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" and "28 Pranks Later" have almost identical basic plots. In them, Rainbow Dash is acting more obnoxious than usual, so the other ponies form a plan to take her down a peg and teach her the error of her ways (inventing a superhero to upstage her at every turn and staging a Zombie Apocalypse, respectively).
    • "A Flurry of Emotions" is pretty much "Baby Cakes" with Twilight in Pinkie Pie's place, as she looks after her niece Flurry Heart.
    • The episode "Secrets and Pies" is similar to the My Friends Tigger And Pooh episode "Piglet's Thousand and One Watermelons".
  • 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.
    • "Olive Oyl for President" had the exact same script as "Betty Boop for President", replacing Betty with Olive, of course.
  • 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".
  • King of the Hill:
    • "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 the 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.
    • "Hank's On Board" is an interesting example. The plot (sans the ending) is identical to Adrift, where a group of people go swimming off a boat and forget to lower the ladder. Adrift was released almost exactly one year after "Hank's On Board" was aired, but was written years earlier and was in production when the episode would have been produced.
  • Regular Show:
    • Mordecai and Rigby mess up/break something and must repair it. In most of the episodes that had this plot, it'll usually end up with a "Shaggy Dog" Story. (ex: Limousine Lunchtime, Tent Trouble, Garage Door)
    • Mordecai and/or Rigby wanting to accomplish at something, usually a video game. (ex: High Score, Slam Dunk, Bank Shot, Happy Birthday Song Contest)
    • Mordecai trying to impress Margaret in the first four seasons.
  • The Mighty B! episode "Dogcatcher in the Rye" has the same plot as the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Ed Good, Rocko Bad". Both center on the protagonist running for dog catcher against their archenemy, only for the latter to use slander against the former to win.
  • The season 5 Arthur episode "The World Record" has almost the same plot as the Hey Arnold! episode "World Records" (made three years earlier). In both episodes, the main characters try to break a world record until they settle down on making the world's largest pizza, with the only difference being that Arthur's attempt is successful while Arnold's fails. Both episodes also have a character unsuccessfully trying to break the record for walking backwards.
    • "DW and Bud's Higher Purpose" has the same plot as the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Roller Cowards", in which two friends attempt to ride a rollercoaster but must overcome the fact that they are too short.
  • The Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "St. Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses" is very much like the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!"; both involved a character trying to save loved ones from an Assimilation Academy that's stripping them of their identities. Incidentally, they had the same writer.
  • Archer: Season six's "Nellis" is identical to season four's "Midnight Ron". Archer is stranded in a distant city (Montreal in "Midnight Ron, Las Vegas in "Nellis") after losing all his money at a casino and has difficulties returning home due to legal troubles (drunkenly burning his passport in "Midnight Ron", being on a No Fly List and the train equivalent in "Nellis") and someone from the office must personally get him (his step-father Ron drives to Montreal in "Midnight Ron", Cheryl, Pam, Cyril, Ray and Krieger fly out in Cheryl's personal jet in "Nellis"), their vehicle is too damaged to use further following an attack (Ron's Cadillac is run off the road by mobsters trying to rob him in "Midnight Ron", Cheryl's jet is hit by a surface-to-air missile while flying too close to Area 51 and must crash-land at Nellis AFB in "Nellis"), Archer must bluff his way out of a situation (using his pistol as a Weapon for Intimidation, first against "tranny bikers" and then two hobos with switchblades in "Midnight Ron", pretending to be CIA agent Slater and threatening a Colonel with being subjected to Project MK ULTRA in "Nellis") and ultimately Archer and companions must acquire an alternate means of transport to get home (hopping on a freight train before getting a replacement Cadillac from one of Ron's dealerships in "Midnight Ron", stealing a C-130 Hercules in "Nellis"). It even has a minor scene at the beginning of Archer being accosted by someone while using a payphone to call the office.
  • The Loud House
    • Not only is the show similar in premise to Stuck in the Middle, but they both have episodes where the main character tries to claim the best seat in the family car.
    • "Undie Pressure" is similar to the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "All Eds Are Off" as both are about the characters entering a bet to see which of them can go without their annoying habits the longest for a reward.
    • "Ties That Bind" is similar to the Muppet Babies episode "Eight Take-Away One Equals Panic" and The Powerpuff Girls episode "Little Miss Interprets", all three plots revolving around some misunderstandings leading to a belief among the kids of the family (The Louds, the Muppets, and the PPG, respectively) that their guardians are going to get rid of them.
    • "One of the Boys" is similar to the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Oh, Brother"; both of which involve the main characters ending up living with brothers instead of sisters, only for it to be not as cool as they thought it would be.
  • A few episodes of The Powerpuff Girls (2016) are similar to those from the original series:
    • "Strong Armed" has similarities to "Bubblevision". Both include Bubbles having a medical condition, with the former having her break her arm and the latter revealing that she is near-sighted.
    • "Arachno-Romance" is similar to "Mommy Dearest" in that the Professor gets a girlfriend but his daughters don't like her.
    • "Man Up" is almost exactly the same as "Makes Zen to Me".
    • The crossover with Teen Titans Go! has a similar plot to "Members Only". An older group of superheroes acts condescending towards the Powerpuff Girls, though in this case it's due to their age rather than gender. It also has elements of The Powerpuff Girls Movie with Mojo Jojo commanding an army of simians.
  • The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Sonic is Running" and The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "Princess Toadstool For President" (both DiC Entertainment cartoons produced around the same time) both involve one of the main characters running for president against the Big Bad of the series. In the end, the hero wins in a landslide victory, and it's revealed that the villainous character received only one vote (his own) because even his two flunkies voted against him.
  • Tom and Jerry: The 1970s TV episode "Stay Awake or Else..." is similar to the theatrical short "Sleepy-Time Tom", in which Tom returns home sleepy from a party and is in danger of losing his job if he's caught sleeping by his master.
  • The Futurama episode "The Six Million Dollar Mon" has a plot very similar to the Bump in the Night episode "Farewell, 2 Arms". Like Molly in the latter, Hermes begins replacing parts of his body with newer, more efficient parts until he's nigh unrecognizable, then like Molly trying to top her transformation by replacing her head with Bumpy's, Hermes tries to top his by replacing his brain with a robot brain. Both episodes end with the characters' old body parts being reassembled while the body made with the new parts plays an antagonistic role.
    • Teen Titans Go! did a similar plot in the episode "Man Person", where Beast Boy begins getting himself injured in battle to steadily replace his body with cybernetics until his head is the only part of his original body left. Unlike the above examples, him returning to his original form is handled via Snap Back.
  • The first episode of The Emperor's New School recycles part of its plot from The Emperor's New Groove, albeit with Kuzco turned into a rabbit instead of a llama. He's even sulking in a forest at the beginning of both.
  • The classic Beany and Cecil short Beany And Cecil meets The Invisible Man is a recycled plot to The Edgar Bergen Cartoon Show (one of Bob Clampett's lost work).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RecycledScript