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Recycled Set
"I don't have anything against Drew Carey, but I have a hard time watching his show because they reused most of the set. So I'm all like, 'That's my lamp!'"
Margaret Cho, on her sitcom's replacement with The Drew Carey Show

Since all of television and film works around a budget, there often isn't enough money to pay for all those expensive sets to be designed, constructed, and decorated and then be used for only one scene. When this is the case, the producers and/or director may opt for a Recycled Set.

A Recycled Set is pretty much what you would expect: a set that is either entirely or in large part composed of the main sets of the project. Since walls, windows, and door tend to be fairly simple and unremarkable, it's typically easy for set designers to rearrange specific pieces of furniture or strategically cover wall segments to create an entirely unique look.

Except in very rare circumstances, i.e. unless Played for Laughs, this set similarity is never noticed or remarked upon by any of the show's characters on-camera. They simply go on their merry way, unconcerned that Bob's front door looks strikingly similar to Officer John's office door.

Compare Three-Wall Set. For the videogame equivalent, see Copy And Paste Environments.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Yes, there are animated examples of this too. GaoGaiGar does this when the heroes reach the site of their ultimate battle, only to find an exact replica of their command satellite.

    Film 
  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet likes to use a certain picturesque crossroads in Montmartre as a setting in his films (e. g. Amélie and A Long Engagement), but usually takes care to show it from different angles.
  • The alien nest and colony from Aliens was reused as the set for the Axis Chemicals facility in Tim Burton's Batman.
  • Weird example in the Harry Potter series. In the first film, the hospital wing was represented by the interior of Oxford Divinity School. In the fourth film, by which time the hospital wing had been redesigned and built as a permanent set in Leavesden Studios, the interior of Oxford Divinity School was used again, but as a different room in Hogwarts.
    • A straight example occurs in the third film. The room in which Lupin teaches Harry to defend against dementors is a rather obvious redress of Dumbledore's office. Some fans were even confused as to whether it was meant to be Dumbledore's office.
    • Ollivander's in the first film, Flourish and Blotts in the second film, and Honeydukes in the third film are all the same set. Note the same bay windows out front and the same staircase leading up to the same balcony. (Honeydukes hides the balcony by lowering the ceiling.) They just kept repainting the set and changing the set dressing.
    • Moaning Myrtle's bathroom from the second film, the prefects' bath from the fourth film, and the "Sectumsempra" bathroom from the sixth film are all obviously the same set. Apparently, the girls' bathroom from the first film has different architecture than every other bathroom in Hogwarts.
    • The spiral staircase at St. Paul's Cathedral has been used as a location more than once. Since the room it leads to is always different (the Divination classroom in the third film, the Defense classroom in the fourth film, and the Ravenclaw common room in the eighth film), they're presumably three separate, similar-looking staircases in-universe.
      • Or just the staircases moving, as they tend to do at Hogwarts.
  • One of the sets used in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie: The Flying Ghost Ship is obviously the same one seen at the beginning of Engine Sentai Go-onger vs. Juken Sentai Gekiranger. Since in both movies, the heroes are trapped in an Alternate Dimension, this is probably not a coincidence.
  • Silent film serial Les Vampires constantly reuses the same sets for every single room in Paris, with absolutely no attempts to hide it.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the bridge of the Reliant was in fact the bridge set for the Enterprise with a few tweaks. Justified, as keeping bridge layouts standardized would simplify the orientation process for transfers from other Starfleet ships.
    • The Torpedo Bay is an important set piece but has unusual architecture for Starfleet. The set originated as the Klingon Bridge from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country were shot while Star Trek: The Next Generation was still in production. As a result the movies share sets with the TV show. Some of them, such as Enterprise corridor, engineering, transporter room, and sickbay were originally designed for the movies, re-purposed for TNG, then re-purposed again for the movies, and back to television. Some sets were built specifically for TNG and found their way into the movies. For example, the Federation President's office is Ten-Forward from Star Trek: The Next Generation, with some curtains. The Enterprise-D's observation lounge became the Enterprise-A's officer's mess. Later the Enterprise-D's observation lounge became the Enterprise-E's starting with Star Trek: First Contact.
  • The Enterprise-B bridge in Star Trek: Generations is the Enterprise-A bridge with repainted Enterprise-D consoles.
  • To create expansive ruins in The Lord of the Rings, especially the city of Osgiliath, the set team would often reuse pieces left over from previously filmed scenes.
    • The full-scale sets for Minas Tirith were a rebuild of the full-scale set for Helm's Deep. The second gates of Minas Tirith are little more than a redressing of the gates of the Hornburg.
    • There were both location shoots and set shoots for Emyn Muil. The set was designed to look very different when shot from different angles, allowing one set to take the place of a large number of locations within Emyn Muil.
    • The Dead Marshes and the Gates of Moria were built on the same parking lot as wet sets when the marshes originally found for the Dead Marshes turned out to be as hard to operate in as the real thing would have been.
  • The exterior of "Pete's Luncheonette" from The Muppets Take Manhattan is used as the locale for the restaurant where Jerry and his friends meet in the original Seinfeld pilot.
  • As the DVD commentary mentions, the country club used for the interior shots of the Hotel Atlantic in Tomorrow Never Dies was the same one where the golf-playing scene in Goldfinger had been shot.
  • The Conn-Pods of all the Jaegers in Pacific Rim are the same set. While they built two sets for the production, the sets were intended for different stunts, meaning both had to be redressed and relit to portray the four Jaeger Conn-Pods shown in the film.

    Live Action TV 
  • Done for a laugh in the Angel episode "The Girl in Question": Angel and Spike visit the Rome branch of Wolfram and Hart, and it's entirely identical to the Los Angeles branch.
  • This is kind of a TV/movie crossover - but the BBC appears to have recycled the set of an earlier adaptation of Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes for the show As Time Goes By. If you've watched ATGB before you watch Ballet Shoes, you can't help but say, "Hey, they live in Jean and Lionel's house!". Or vice versa, I suppose.
  • When Batman moved to "Londinium" for a three-part episode, Superintendent Watson's office at "Ireland Yard" is an obvious redress of Commissioner Gordon's office set. So obvious that Gordon lampshades the similarity, noting that due to the similar demands of police work worldwide, all police commissioners' offices are essentially the same!
  • In the more recent Battlestar Galactica, the Pegasus interior sets were originally made for the abandoned "Lost In Space" reboot, and were later recycled within the Galactica series for the interiors of the basestars. This is what ultimately led to the decision to have the Pegasus destroyed.
  • In Boston Legal, when Denny and Alan go to the LA Branch of Crane, Poole and Schmidt, the offices look exactly the same as the Boston offices. This is lampshaded as Alan and Denny do discuss it (Denny wanted the offices to all look the same so no matter where someone was in trouble they could walk into the offices and feel at home).
  • Boy Meets World had several instances. For example, the senior hallway from season 5 is almost exactly the same as the school hallway from seasons 2-4 but shot from a different angle. Also, for a little while Mr. Turner and Mr. Feeny had the same classroom, just flipped around with a few different props.
    • The 'Chubby's' set (with a bit of new furniture and a fresh coat of paint) was used for pretty much every hang out location from Seasons 2-5. Lampshaded in "Things Change", where the set is transformed from the Chubby's set-up into a pirate-themed restaurant set-up during the course of a conversation.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Time Meddler" reused the set of the Doctor's TARDIS for the Meddling Monk's. During the Pertwee era the Master's TARDIS used the Doctor's TARDIS set as well.
    • "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" recycled multiple Dalek sets from Dr. Who and the Daleks. Due to dates, the serial actually aired before the film came out, making this the sets' first appearance.
    • In "The Invasion", the villain, a fascistic industrialist, has a factory/headquarters in London, and a factory in the countryside which looks identical on the inside. The Doctor's companion Jamie points this out, and the villain says something like that efficiency and uniformity are important.
    • In the new series, a series of Hexagonal corridors have been used both as the hallways in the TARDIS and in Demon's Run.
    • Various locations around Cardiff have been recycled time and again across all three series of Nu-Who.
    • The Sontaran teleport and Jenny's ship (from Series 4) are the same set with different props and details.
    • The back of Cass' ship in "The Night of the Doctor" is the same corridor and door as the Cybermen's ship at the beginning of "The Time of the Doctor" with completely different lighting and a different paint job.
    • Missy's garden in "Deep Breath" is the same set as the garden Amy encounters in "The Girl Who Waited". This is one of the most noticeable examples yet.
  • A unique hall tree seen in the Winslow home of Family Matters is seen again in the near-same position of the Biggs home in Mike And Molly, which also seems to share the same first floor layout of the Family Matters home.
  • Done for major creepiness in an episode of Farscape set on a relative of the Living Ship that's been infested by all manner of nastiness.
  • Frasier Crane lives at 1901 Elliot Bay Towers. We have seen 2001 (Cam Winston's apartment, directly above Frasier's) and 1801 (directly below Frasier's). Naturally all 3 have the same layout due to the way the building is built, but whereas 2001 has different furniture, 1801 is a direct copy. The only difference is the lack of Martin's ugly chair.
  • The different floors of House's hospital is the same set with a different colour palette.
  • iCarly/Victorious: As both shows are exclusively filmed on the same set (as opposed to Zoey 101 which was filmed on location), they have reused locations, many of which first appeared in Drake & Josh.
    • The sidewalk where Josh ran around in "Dinner With Bobo" is the same sidewalk Carly rode her electric-powered scooter in "iGo Nuclear." It also showed up on an episode of Victorious where Jade and Tori sing in Spanish.
    • The dirt roadway in The Wedding where Drake and Josh got stranded in their car is also the spot "Somewhere Outside Tokyo" where Carly, Sam, and Freddie were ditched by Kyoko and Yuki in iGo To Japan.
    • Pretty much any big room ends up a redress of the main iCarly studio set. Examples include Freddie's room from "iSaved Your Life".
  • In an episode of Married... with Children, Kelly gives to some producers an idea for a Show Within a Show based on Married With Children itself.
  • Parodied in the famous Monty Python's Flying Circus: Parrot Sketch, in which the customer walks into the second pet shop and finds it identical to the first pet shop... right down to the bird cage he left on the floor earlier in the sketch.
  • On NCIS: Several bedrooms of witnesses/family members/otherwise involved characters—when shown—are repeated several times.
    • When they needed an NSA office, it was a slight redress of the set from Boston Legal.
  • The German science-fiction series Raumpatrouille also reused a lot of sets, for example:
    • The bridge set was not only used for Orion 7 (destroyed in episode 2) and its successor Orion 8, but also for the Hydra (e. g. in episode 2) and the Tau (episode 7).
    • The smaller Lancet was reused with some additions as a similar craft from the planet Chroma (episode 5) on the rationale that this was a lost colony using technology based on earlier Earth designs.
    • The same former lignite mine was used for exterior shots on different small planets visited in episode 5 and 6.
  • Though they did a good job of dirtying it up, the virtual reality game center where the Red Dwarf crew wake up in "Back to Reality" is clearly a repainted version of the hologrammatic ship bridge from the earlier episode "Holoship".
  • In Seinfeld, bizarro Jerry's apartment was similar to Jerry's, but with some opposites (eg, the little statue of Superman is now a statue of bizarro Superman). The layout was also, and unsettlingly, a mirror image.
  • Smallville:
    • The Kent barn, obviously. It has been used for so many different purposes we have lost count. Including as a prison camp. The Talon also counts before it slowly slips out of continuity.
    • In an episode, a possibly-psychic woman sees Lex Luthor in the Oval Office. Rather than build an oval office set for only a few seconds of screen time, they flew Michael Rosenbaum (the actor playing Lex) from Vancouver to LA in order to use the standing set from The West Wing.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Out of Mind/Into the Fire", the Recycled Set was a replica of the SGC, complete with a fake Stargate, built by Hathor in a Faked Rip Van Winkle ploy.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Mark of Gideon". Apparently a world that is overpopulated with wall-to-wall people has the space and resources to build an entire fake Enterprise just to teach Kirk a lesson.
    • To reduce overpopulation by introducing disease into their society again, actually, so there was a logical reason for getting Kirk down there, though there was a simpler way to do it.
    • Starting in the second season, the Enterprise sets doubled as various other ships: the Constellation ("The Doomsday Machine"); the mirror-Enterprise ("Mirror, Mirror"); the Lexington ("The Ultimate Computer"); the Exeter ("The Omega Glory"); and the Defiant ("The Tholian Web").
    • Star Trek as a franchise has had a long tradition of redressing pre-existing sets. Many of the sets built for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" went through various until the end of Star Trek: Enterprise. It was also good for reusing various sets of buildings on one planet for buildings on another from episode to episode.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Where Silence Has Lease", an Away Team beams to a replica of the USS Yamato, the Enterprise's sister ship, allowing the show to reuse the Enterprise bridge set.
      • Interestingly, the next time we see the Yamato, the bridge is noticeably different, with some sort of large display board visible behind the captain's chair. It's never seen again; presumably, in-universe it was some sort of experimental feature added to later models of Galaxy-class starship that didn't work out.
    • And used yet again in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with Empok Nor, which is exactly like the titular space station, except abandoned and therefore sideways (even though it's in space...).
    • Encounters with the Prophets on DS9 tended to involve visions of the Prophets appearing as other characters, in an area that is just like a recurring set only red-lit.
    • The USS Valiant was a Defiant-class ship, allowing them to reuse the sets for the USS Defiant.
    • A few Voyager sets found their way onto Deep Space Nine. In an episode where Bashir was subjected to experiments by Section 31 Voyager's holodeck set was reused. In another episode, Bashir traveled to Romulus aboard an Intrepid class ship (same as Voyager) called the USS Bellerophon. Voyager's bridge, mess hall, and Janeway's ready room underwent some cosmetic changes to differentiate the two ships; they kept the CGI model, however, right down to the serial number, prompting SF Debris to rename it the USS Dancing On Voyager's Grave.
    • The original series used the same hallways to represent interiors on industrialized planets.
    • Lampshaded in The Adventures of Captain Proton, a Show Within The Show homaging sci-fi Film Serials of the 1930's. Harry Kim points out that "Planet X" looks identical to "The Mines of Mercury" that they visited in the last adventure. Tom Paris points out that sets were expensive in the days when you couldn't just create them on the holodeck.
    • Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show appears in two seperate episodes of the original series. In "The City On the Edge of Forever", Mayberry portrays an amazingly skyscraper-less version of 1930s New York. Also, Floyd's Barber Shop appears unaltered.
  • The same diner set was used in Stargate SG-1 (the Ascension Diner), Dead Like Me (Der Wafflehaus), and Warehouse 13 (the diner where Artie meets the Regents).
  • Howard's house in The Big Bang Theory is the same as Buzz Aldrin's and Wil Wheaton's houses.
  • Lampshade Hanging on 30 Rock here.
  • In Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, every single time the Monster of the Week had a Womb Level, it used the exact same set.
  • Does the alley where everyone skates on Zeke and Luther look familiar? That's because it first showed up in Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The first series of The Twilight Zone liked to reuse a lot of props and sets but most notable would be the space ship interior which is always the same; including stock sound effects which later appeared in Star Trek.
  • The garage in Chico And The Man is the same garage as in Taxi.
  • If the house from Mike And Molly isn't the same house from The King of Queens, then it's a pretty close approximation.
  • Red Dwarf series X repurposed the same set for the titular ship from Trojan, the market from Lemons and the simulant ship from The Beginning.
  • Every Kamen Rider and Super Sentai (and by extension, Power Rangers) series shot since around 2000 will use the same set of about 15 locations from around Tokyo: a path high on a hill, part of a street next to a train track, the carpark, stairs and occasionally interior of a stadium, a curving road around a hill, and so on. Most fights in all three shows take place outside for safety and budget reasons, and to the shows' credit, they never use the same location two episodes in a row.
    • Especially gratuituous is the use of an Edo-era Japanese village set, which shows up about once a year and requires some excuse to get the characters there; whether it's a dream sequence, time travel, or whatever.

    Pinball 
  • The unreleased Golden Cue reused the layout from its spiritual predecessor, Eight Ball Deluxe, but with the addition of a ramp that diverts to two sets of rails.
  • Williams Electronics' Jack*Bot uses a redecorated version of the playfield from its predecessor, Pin Bot.
  • The Gamatron conversion kit reuses the playfield from Flight 2000 with only minor modifications (and a new theme).
  • The Simpsons Pinball Party was re-themed as The Brain, a promotional pinball for a science museum.
  • Family Guy was re-themed as Shrek, as well as a one-off Good Morning America pinball. The only changes were to the graphics and sounds; the layout and rules remained the same.
  • Game Plan, a smaller pinball manufacturer from The Seventies, did this frequently to save costs. Family Fun! and Star Ship shared the same layout, while Sharpshooter, Old Coney Island, and Sharpshooter II all used the same layout or a mirrored copy. The games were often released together, which highlighted how recycled they were.
  • Stern Pinball took the soccer-based Striker Xtreme and re-released it a year later as the American Football-based NFL.
  • NASCAR was re-themed and re-released as both Grand Prix and Dale Jr. While the audio/visual aspects were changed, the table layout and rules were the same,

    Theatre 
  • In Holiday Inn, the Recycled Set was an actual set for a movie within a movie based on Bing's hotel.
  • In On the Town, Diamond Eddie's Nightclub, the Congacabana and the Slam-Bang Club are obviously the same set with minimal changes to the scenery. All three are playing some variation on "I Wish I Was Dead."
  • University theatre departments do this all the time. New sets are constantly being built out of pieces of old sets.

    Video Games 
  • One of the biggest criticisms against Dragon Age II was the massive reuse of floor plans for interiors, caves and dungeons.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas recycle scenery props from previous Bethesda games, mostly The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This is most notable in the caves, which reuse the textures, rocks, and various other bits of set dressing practically unchanged from Oblivion. Consider how the interior of the caves are often shades of green, but that New Vegas's predominant color is brown....
    • FNV not only reuses building interior layouts from FO 3, but some of its own as well.
  • The barbershops in Leisure Suit Larry 2 look the same everywhere that Larry goes.
  • Mass Effect 1 is quite notorious for having all your fights on planets take place on the same 3 or so pre-fab building floorplans - the "mine with one large room full of enemies and two deeper chambers", "specialist base with one large room full of enemies and two deeper chambers connected by a corridor", and "identical exterior buildings that closely resemble a tissue box with a door". It also made frequent use of a Kowloon-class freighter, which broke up the monotony by having three chambers that could have stuff once you got through the large room, not just two. Lampshaded in the second game, with a volus and an asari on Illium playing the market regarding stocks in prefabs after the attacks on Freedom's Progress and Horizon.
  • World of Warcraft reuses the same layout for most of their caves.
    • Several cave designs have been introduced, but essentially all caves with ogres in them use a single layout, and a second layout with multiple levels accounts for most of the rest of the caves.

    Web Animation 
  • Inevitable in the Pimp Lando series due to 3D Movie Maker (which was used to create the series) having only about nine sets to choose from without mods. Lampshaded by Lando when he remarks that Boston (and later Orbisonia) look just like Wall Street, due to them all being the same "city" set.
    • A title comes up once declaring a scene to be on "A Different Street" despite said street looking identical to the one in the previous scene.

    Western Animation 
  • A take on this trope appears in an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa is mistakenly dropped at West Springfield Elementary, which looks exactly identical to Springfield Elementary. One of the students notes that all schools in the area were drawn from the same floorplan. This is Truth in Television in some areas, especially areas with a lot of schools built at the same time.
    • In some areas of California, you're likely to find that all the elementary schools look exactly the same, minus the color they use on the outside trim of the buildings.
  • In universe, in Code Lyoko, the Season three episode Temporary Insanity had the sets of Kadic's production of Cyrano de Bergerac from the previous year's play Romeo and Juliet because of a lack of money.

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