Replacement Love Interest

How I missed her, how I missed her
How I missed my Clementine.
But I kissed her little sister
I forgot my Clementine.
My Darling Clementine

In an action movie, the True Love has died in the hands of the villain, with just enough time for a few parting words that will give him the strength to defeat the Big Bad. In a comedy, the love interest simply dumped The Protagonist and married the Romantic False Lead. In a Trapped in Another World adventure, it's time for the hero to return to Our World, and the love interest tearfully says she can't leave her world and go home with him. Any which way, the protagonist is left heartbroken and crestfallen because he didn't get her.

But... wait a minute! Isn't that girl a close Captain Ersatz of the one he just lost? The attraction is as instantaneous as it is mutual. Time to roll the credits!

Note that this trope is specifically for situations where the character is an obvious replacement, but not the exact same person in a new body. That's Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest. Also see Suspiciously Similar Substitute, where the issue is the actor leaving the show. Often used as a form of Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends. Compare to Replacement Goldfish for the Non-Romantic variant. See also You Remind Me of X.


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     Anime & Manga  
  • Subverted in the Black Cat anime, where, for an episode, Train meets a girl who is physically identical to Saya. The thing is, he never really shows much romantic interest towards her, and ends up leaving and forgetting about her. Which certainly contributes to the idea of his character — that he loved Saya's carefree way of life, not that he romantically loved her. Therefore, since the girl had a completely different way of life and occupation, he certainly wouldn't be all that interested in her.
  • In Cross Game, the characters meet Akane who happens to look exactly like Wakaba, Kou's dead love interest and the Tsukushima family's daughter. Subverted in that Kou and Akane don't end up together, and the main characters theorize (somewhat bizarrely) that Akane was sent by Wakaba to let them know that it's okay to move on. Yeah, whatever lets you sleep at night, bub.
  • In Detective Conan, Inspector Shiratori tries to pursue Kobayashi-sensei after previously failing to court Miwako. When Kobayashi saw Miwako while visiting the station, and saw how much they look alike, she assumed that Shiratori just saw her as Miwa's Replacement Goldfish and tries to avoid him afterwards. However, it was revealed that the girl Shiratori first fell in love with was actually Kobayashi, and his initial pursuits of Miwako was a case of Wrong Girl First.
  • Fist of the North Star played around this trope when Mamiya was first introduced, whose resemblance to Yuria (Kenshiro's supposedly dead fiancee) was the first thing he noticed about her. Subverted in that even though Mamiya is in love with Kenshiro at first, his feelings are not mutual. Also, Yuria is later revealed to be Not Quite Dead yet.
  • Toyed with a bit, and subverted in Full Metal Panic! during The Second Raid. Sousuke is separated from Kaname by Mithril, and goes into his huge Heroic B.S.O.D.. He ends up meeting a Chinese prostitute who looks exactly like Kaname, and decides to hire her to chat with him. The subversion comes in that, as soon as she starts making advances on him and attempts to kiss him, he completely freaks out and runs away.
  • Sorta invoked twice in Fushigi Yuugi:
    • Hotohori marries Houki, a young woman from his harem that looks just like a female version of the recently murdered Nuriko (who, according to the Suzaku Hi Den novel and OAV, was Houki's Big Brother Mentor). While Nuriko's affections for Hotohori were mostly unrequited, it does raise some eyebrows.
    • It's also explained in Suzaku Hi Den that Houki herself had once been in a relationship with a young man named Shuu, who looked just like Hotohori, save for their hair/eye color. And he's later revealed to be not just Hotohori's long-lost older half-brother, but the rightful heir to the Konan Imperial Throne. It ends in tears.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: While there's no mutual romance thus far, a lot of the Ship Tease during the latter half of the Athena arc pointed out (explicitly and implicitly) just how many similarities Nagi shared with Hayate's first love, Athena. One bit of cover art even featured the both of them put side by side, and they're both referred to in-story as golden-haired girls who saved him from despair by taking him on as a Battle Butler. Said arc culminated in absolutely brutal Ship Tease that threw shippers in a frenzy.
  • In Hirunaka no Ryuusei, we see in the special centered on him Shishio meets a new girl who is essentially a grown-up, mangaka version of Suzume.
  • Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam 00: following the death of Neil Dylandy (AKA Lockon Stratos), his twin brother Lyle is recruited by Celestial Being to take Neil's place as the team's sniper. When he first arrives on the Ptolemaios, Lyle meets his brother's Love Interest Feldt Grace and acts like a jerk to her, driving her off in tears. Lyle later apologizes, revealing that he did it because he recognized that she was in an emotionally fragile state and didn't want her to form a misguided attraction to him based solely on the fact that he looks exactly like the man she loved. The two make peace, and they end up with completely different love interests.
  • Played with in a chapter of Ouran High School Host Club, with a new character (Kanoya) being referred to by the Club Members (except Haruhi and Tamaki) as the "Ideal Haruhi" because in addition to bearing an uncanny resemblance to Haruhi, she lined up almost perfectly with Tamaki's daydreamed version of her. Subverted in that Tamaki apparently never viewed this "Ideal Haruhi" as a love interest, despite her crush on him. Poor Kanoya.
  • In Yuu Watase's earlier manga Zoku Shinshunki Miman Okotowari, the trope is defied and probably deconstructed. Kazusa, who once had a huge Big Brother Attraction towards her brother Manato, once has the chance to date a boy named Takanari who looks JUST like Manato, plus glasses. However, this utterly and painfully fails, and Kazusa later concludes that she missed out on many prospect boyfriends because of her Big Brother Attraction.
  • Yakou from Yurara No Tsuki fell in love with the title character's Superpowered Alter Ego, but couldn't get together with her because she's a Guardian spirit. In the sequel, Rasetsu no Hana he becomes romantically involved with Rasetsu, who looks almost exactly like Yurara (but with slightly different hairstyle).

    Comic Books 
  • In their pre-Avengers stories, this trope was in effect for Hank Pym (Ant-Man/Giant Man) and Janet van Dyne (The Wasp). Though she had a massive crush on him, she was both underaged at the time, and bore a disturbing (to him) resemblance to his recently-murdered wife. They eventually ended up hooking up anyway, and the resemblance issue was never mentioned again until after their divorce.
  • In The Incal, John Difool meets, falls in love and loses a beautiful "Aristro" (she goes off with another guy.) Later he meets Animah, who exactly resembles her. (Strangely, given the metaphysical manipulations that occur in reference to John, this seems to have happened by accident.)
  • In X-Men, Scott falls for Madelyn shortly after Jean's death. They look so similar that he actually believes she's Jean's reincarnation, though he eventually accepts them as different people. Played With when Jean comes back from the dead and Scott abandons Madelyn, who is his wife by this point. Then it's revealed that Madelyn is actually a clone.
  • Joe Quesada went through a lot of trouble to break up Peter and Mary Jane via One More Day, supposedly because Spidey is more interesting single. Then we're introduced to Carlie Cooper who is named after Quesada's daughter and becomes the main love interest. While she's not exactly like MJ, it's been noted Carlie has few original character traits, and her personality is simply a misguided attempt at throwing what was likable about the other love interest together.

     Fan Works  
  • Happened in A Collection of Pointless Adventures, when Web falls in love with Fluttershy shortly after Kitty Katswell leaves him for David.
  • The Monsters University Alternate Universe fanfic A Sinister Mind (part of a series of AU stories written by Crazybird 101) reveals that Johnny Worthington had a childhood friend named Marcus, who eventually became his lover. He was a lizard with crimson scales, red eyes, and four fronds. Marcus is forced to leave his abusive aunt and move to a different home, and Johnny doesn't see him for years. When the events of the movie come around, Johnny meets Randy Boggs, who looks almost like Marcus.

     Films — Animated  
  • In the first Monica's Gang films, one of the stories involves Monica, who is dressed as a mouse for Franklin's costume party, getting hit by his shrinking ray and saving several mice from a group of hungry and apparently malevolent cats. One of the mice ends up falling for her, but when he kisses her, she grows back to her usual size and is escorted back to the party by Maggy. After an extended sequence in which he silently mopes about losing her, he saves a female mouse who looks remarkably similar to Monica, complete with a red dress, from a mouse trap, she kisses him, and they prance into the sunset together, as the live-action Mauricio de Sousa watches them from nearby. The entire final part can be found here.
  • In the animated movie Starchaser: The Legend of Orin the original love interest is strangled in front of the hero but no worries, in his adventures he'll soon find a princess on another planet to fall instantly in love with, voiced by the same actress.

     Films — Live-Action  
  • At the end of Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet, when the hero has to leave his love interest Kvetuska behind, a doppelgänger of him suddenly appears out of nowhere, except he's blond. Kvetuska quickly changes one dashing man for another.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension begins with this situation. Buckaroo's lover had already died at the hands of some supervillain and her twin sister, Separated at Birth, appears for the sake of the story.
  • In BeerFest during a series of events Landfill is killed, he is eventually replaced by his brother who happens to look exactly like him (he even asks to be called Landfill in honor of his departed brother) and his widow ends up marrying him and subsequently forgets about the original. She replaces Landfill's photo on her nightstand with his twin's... as the twin is doing her from behind.
  • In the 1984 film of A Christmas Carol (1984), the man Belle ended up marrying after leaving Scrooge looks just like his past self, possibly played by the same actor.
  • Subverted at the end of Date With An Angel; Jim is stunned when he meets a nurse who is a dead ringer for the angel he's been caring for the entire movie — and then she reveals that she is the angel, she's now on indefinite leave to be with him and has left her wings at home. (And has traded in her bird call speech for inexplicably French-accented English.)
  • Happens rather more often than is healthy for James Bond. Then again, one might argue that these women are not as much love interests as one night stand material to Bond, which makes it less mind boggling and explains why they're always gone in the next film.
    • The World Is Not Enough with Denise Richards as Christmas Jones. She gets introduced a bit before the first Bond girl is revealed to have pulled a Face–Heel Turn just so Bond has someone to kiss before the end credits.
    • Aki with Kissy (whose name isn't even mentioned in the film) in You Only Live Twice.
    • In fact, so far as the films have any continuity at all, every Bond Girl is this after Tracey. Bond's constant womanising becomes rather tragic when you realise it only really ramped up after the woman he really and truly loved was murdered.
  • Implied to happen in (500) Days of Summer. After the main character is unable to make a romantic relationship work with a woman named Summer, he happens across an interesting woman named Autumn and starts talking to her.
  • Also happens in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, where Larry sadly leaves Amelia Earhart behind at the Smithsonian (sans magical artifact, so she'll never come to life again) and promptly meets an identical modern girl in New York.
  • Happens in the 2000 remake of Bedazzled, starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley. In the end Elliot (Fraser) wishes his beloved just to be happy, and is gently dumped by her when she mentions she already has a boyfriend. Going home, he meets his new neighbor, which happens to be the same actress with different hair. He even hangs a lampshade on this by asking her if she has a sister. In this case, he also barely knew the original love interest as a person, admiring and obsessing over her from afar.
  • The movie Susie Q ends with Zach finding a girl who may possibly be the reincarnation of Susie. This is despite the fact that Susie was sent back from Heaven only a few days before.
  • Fast Five has it mutually with the relationship between Dom and Elena. Elena is Dom's replacement for Letty, and Dom is Elena's replacement for her husband who was killed in action. However, when Letty is revealed to be alive, Elena lets Dom go.


  • At the end of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, in the final book, Susannah travels through a portal to an alternate version of New York where she meets an Eddie and Jake Toren, a different Eddie and Jake from the ones she knew, from a little further out on the beam from the keystone world, but close enough for her.
  • This is essentially the premise of The Vampire Diaries, when Stefan sees a girl who looks exactly like the vampire who turned him and his brother, presumed dead for 150 years, and decides he has to get to know her. Since this happens at the start of the series, things don't go so smoothly as in most examples.
  • In The Children of Húrin, a few months after Túrin's blonde sort-of Love Interest Finduilas dies he finds a naked, blonde amnesiac girl lying unconscious on her grave. He sees this as a sign, and they fall in love. Pity she's actually his long-lost sister.
  • Word of God in Harry Potter is that Angelina Johnson, who was Fred Weasley's date at the Yule Ball, married George Weasley.
  • In The Sword-Edged Blonde, it actually takes years, but due to flashbacks, it seems more immediate. Eddie's attraction to Cathy Dumont was cut short when she is murdered along with everyone else in town, but later, someone with the ability to arrange such things arranges for Liz, Cathy's sister to walk right in. Eddie realises that Cathy and Liz aren't the same person, but since Cathy wasn't actually as right for him as he might have thought, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Stefan initially fell for Elena because she looked just like his long-dead love interest, Katherine.

     Live Action TV  

  • The fourth series finale of Doctor Who, with Rose earning the half-human Handy (Doctor 10.5) as a consolation prize. This one is a bit tricky and overlaps a bit with Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest, since it is explicitly stated in-series that 10.5 truly is the Doctor as much as any regeneration is, but the two will diverge from this point on.
  • When the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers came back from time travel, Adam was forced to say goodbye to his love interest Marissa. At the end of the episode, he bumps into a girl played by the same actress and is implied to be her descendant. Two odd things about this example: they were coming back from a California that was colonized by England; Marissa was a highly uncommon name in the 1700s. Though when the English are in charge of California, all bets are off.
    • A more mundane version (yet one much more infamous amongst long-time fans) happens later in Power Rangers Zeo: Tommy gets dumped by former Pink Ranger Kimberly, but soon becomes involved with Katherine, the new Pink Ranger and Kim's Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
  • In the pilot of Harsh Realm, Hobbes meets the virtual double of his fiancée Sophie.
  • In Highlander, one episode had Duncan meet a girl looking exactly like the long deceased Tessa It was actually a case of Surgical Impersonation as part of an elaborate plot to kill Duncan.
  • There's a perfect example of this trope in How I Met Your Mother, when it's revealed that Scooter, Lily's high school boyfriend who all series long has had a crush on Lily, ultimately goes on to marry Stripper Lily, her doppelgänger from "Double Date" and "46 minutes".
  • In the pilot of Time Trax, no wonder he falls in love with her— she's his dead love interest's Identical Great-great-great-etc. ... grandmother.
  • Probably part of the reason that Riley Finn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is so disliked by the fandom is because he practically had the words 'Buffy's new love interest!' flashing in bold neon lettering over his head in his first appearance.
    • Kennedy similarly gets this treatment from fans, coming in less than a year after the death of the beloved Tara.
  • After Maid Marian is killed off in the BBC's Robin Hood, a village girl called Kate is introduced as Robin's new love interest. As you might have guessed, the audience's reaction to replacing the legendary Marian with a random villager as Robin Hood's girlfriend went down like a cup of cold sick. However, sometimes, a replacement character manages to bring something of their own to the table, become more than just the person who's in your face instead of the character who is "supposed" to be there, and become quite beloved on their own. Kate is most definitely not one of these cases, being a Scrappy, a Damsel Scrappy, and being talked up by everyone while showing not a single positive trait we're (repeatedly) told she has, or a single positive trait period.
  • Heartbeat practically lived on this, with almost every village constable getting one. When PC Nick Rowan's wife Kate died, he was quickly introduced to Jo Weston, who became his second wife. When PC Mike Bradley's wife Jackie left the show, he was quickly linked to Tricia Summerbee (although the two characters did cross over for a bit). When PC Rob Walker's wife Helen was killed, he soon met Carol Cassidy, who stayed on the show long enough for Walker's successor PC Joe Mason to be her Replacement Love Interest.
  • Chase in Zoey 101 attempts to do this when Zoey leaves for England. But while the replacement looks like Zoey, she's not very pleasant in the personality department. And the fact that Chase is trying to replace Zoey with someone else kind of freaks out his friends.
    Logan: So you're saying it's just a coincidence that Gretchen looks exactly like Zoey?
    Chase: I don't even see a resemblance.
    Michael: Everybody thinks they look alike!
    Logan: And that's the only reason you're hanging out with her! She's your little Zoey replacement, and that's a little bit sick.
  • Niles' second wife Mel Karnofski in Frasier — a fussy, domineering, hysterically-inclined, nervous woman whose behavior (and the characters' reactions to it) made it clear that she was a saner, less abrasive version of Maris, Niles's Jerk Ass of a first wife, despite Maris being The Ghost. This is actually something that often occurs in real life with people who have recently gotten out of unhealthy relationships.
  • This is what fans assumed John Doggett would be for Scully on The X-Files while Mulder was abducted. He wasn't, and the writers/creator were very explicit in saying that Doggett was not a love interest for Scully or a replacement for Mulder. It still didn't stop the fans from hating his guts.
    • Ironically, they also wound up with a faction of Scully/Doggett shippers who were annoyed he wasn't a Replacement Love Interest. By then the fanbase was near-catastrophically broken anyway.
  • Sully on Bones.
  • On ER, following Mark Greene's divorce, the show's writers appeared to finally be moving him into a relationship with Susan Lewis. This was scratched when Susan's portrayer Sherry Stringfield decided to leave the show (but developed just enough to break Mark's heart and cause him even more angst). After several years of meaningless relationships, the writers decided it was time to give Mark something more permanent, thus pairing him with Elizabeth Corday.
  • In 'Allo 'Allo!, the actor playing Roger Leclerc died, so was replaced with his brother Ernest, who became an instant Replacement Love Interest for Edith's mother (with the premise that she had loved both men when they were younger, but couldn't choose between them.)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Ezri slides right into Jadzia's corner of the Dax / Bashir / Worf Love Triangle, but ultimately winds up going the other way.
  • A variation in Sherlock. After pining over Sherlock for two seasons, Molly finally gets engaged to a man named Tom, whom she met through friends. The characters finally meet Tom at the end of the Season 3 pilot and find out that he dresses exactly like Sherlock. On the other hand, that's all they have in common. By the end of the season, the engagement is broken off.
  • In Babylon 5, when Commander Sinclair (whose actor went over poorly with both audiences and the network) is replaced in the second season by Commander Sheridan, a similar but more dynamic and relatable Silver Fox, Delenn's budding UST appears to transfer from the former to the latter instantly and seamlessly, due to complex pre-planned story and character arcs having to be hastily altered to accommodate a new character in the role.


  • In One Touch of Venus, Rodney Hatch is promised by Venus (his divine Magical Girlfriend) he'll never be lonely for the rest of his life, but being the 1940s housewife he sees her as doesn't appeal to her. So she goes back to her ancient homeland without saying goodbye. He's wondering about her promise when he suddenly meets a Country Mouse with a familiar face (since she's played by the same actress) who's willing to settle in the suburbs with him.
  • As a method of apologizing to his roommate Rod for having an Incompatible Orientation, Nicky in Avenue Q finds a boyfriend for Rod. Ricky, who other than being muscle-bound, is an exact copy of Nicky. Rod is thrilled.
  • In The Rose Tattoo, Serafina notices that Alvaro, aside from his face, has a body like that of her late husband Rosario. She is startled again when Alvaro mentions that the truck he drives has bananas in it, though it's an 8-ton truck, not a 10-ton truck like the one Rosario drove, and it's just bananas. When Serafina tells Alvaro that Rosario had a rose tattoo on his chest, Alvaro gets one for himself, and puts rose oil in his hair to make the resemblance almost complete.

     Video Games  

  • Super Mario Bros.: In the Donkey Kong arcade game, Pauline was Mario's love interest and girlfriend. But in Super Mario Bros. Nintendo introduced Mario with a new love interest: Princess Peach. They don't look much alike, but they're similar enough (particularly in their early 8-bit graphics forms) that many people have assumed that Pauline is Peach. Peach was in turn replaced by Princess Daisy in Super Mario Land, who gained her own Replacement Love Interest in later titles where she was given more of a tomboy personality and paired with Luigi. Interestingly, Super Mario Galaxy's Princess Rosalina is not this despite her princess status and some similarities in character design with Peach; she's more of a Mama Bear as opposed to a Love Interest.
  • Lampshaded and then deconstructed in Silent Hill 2. When James meets Maria, he remarks on how similar she looks to his deceased wife, Mary. ( After Maria is killed the Hospital by Pyramid Head, and then is mysteriously found alive in a prison cell under the town, only to be killed again, it turns out that Maria only looks identical to Mary because the powers behind the town are using her as a method to remind/punish James for his murder of Mary)
  • Haseo has this happen in .hack//GU when he meets Atoli, who is a literal Palette Swap of his old love interest Shino (perfectly Justified: this all happens in an MMO). However, Atoli is decidedly not Shino in terms of personality, something that disturbs Haseo greatly at first, though he later accepts her as her own person.
  • In Heavy Rain, Ethan Mars' wife leaves him after the death of their son. He has the option of getting together with Madison Paige in one of the endings, though another possible ending implies a reconciliation with Grace.
  • While the actual romance never goes beyond Ship Tease, in Megaman Zero 2 it's pretty obvious that Ciel only thinks of Elpizo as a replacement for Zero after he disappeared at the end of the first game, which makes things pretty damn awkward when Zero inevitably returns.

     Web Animation  

  • In Ultra Fast Pony, Princess Celestia has a weird, one-sided crush on the purple unicorn Twilight Sparkle. In the episode "Saying Words", the purple (maned) unicorn Rarity visits the palace, and Celestia is convinced that Rarity is deliberately angling to become Twilight's replacement. Celestia is not remotely happy about this.
    Celestia: You know, you can't replace her. You're only part purple. She's purple everywhere, you're just your hair. You think that's good enough? Just the hair? It's not.

     Web Comics  

  • Inverted in Kevin & Kell: George Fennec falls in love with Kevin's sister Danielle, who dies helping the main cast defeat a rabbit terrorist group. Shortly afterward, her double from the human world gets trapped on 'Furth', and due to the nature of the portal between worlds, becomes Danielle in appearance.
  • Sluggy Freelance in the That Which Redeems story, with the twist that each of them were already in love with the version from their own world.

     Western Animation  
  • Esther in Ben 10: Omniverse. It's rather obvious she was intended from the start to replace Ben's girlfriend Julie, who the writers made break up with him in the same series.
  • Parodied in Johnny Bravo. He wakes up in the hospital to find a nurse that looks identical to the girl in his dream... then he wakes up again.
  • Rudy Mookich from Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain is a Nelson Muntz Expy who replaced Montana Max as Elmyra Duff's love interest. Danny Cooksey (Monty's voice actor) must have refused to do the spin-off.
    • Cooksey was probably never asked in the first place. That whole show seemed determined to prove that Tiny Toon Adventures never existed.
  • Teen Titans may have done a variant: Beast Boy's love interest, Terra, is turned to stone. Then, in the series finale (several seasons later), he suddenly sees a girl who looks just like her and is convinced she's the real Terra (whose petrified body has vanished), even though she at least claims to not know him or remember anything about being a superhero. They do not wind up getting together in the end, and whether the girl really was Terra or just a lookalike is left ambiguous. Word of God says she is. It's a throwback to the comics, however the second Terra was a clone and the first really was dead.
  • The Simpsons:
    • It turns out that the country singer Lurleen Lumpkin, who did have a crush on Homer in her debut episode in season three, has since then had a string of husbands who all look like Homer, except for being of different ethnicities. At the end they were more Replacement Goldfish.
    • Subverted with Rachel Jordan. Early she appear as a possibly new love interest for Ned after Maude's death. But she leaves briefly after Ned attempted to mold her in the image of his deceased wife Maude by cutting her hair to look like that of Maude's.