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Self-plagiarism is style.
Sometimes, a work becomes a surprise success and various imitators
are made in its wake, usually by different creators. But on a few occasion, the same
creators (or at least, the parent company) will make something that appears to be a transparent ripoff of their own success. This is different from Spiritual Successor
in that the series are usually made in the same time period and that there is no reason the newer product couldn't have used the same license as the older work.
There are many reasons for this. It may because of the executive's belief that lazily changing the setting will in itself attract more viewers
, milking a cash cow
without making it seem too obvious or simply an author being unable to shake off his Signature Style
A lot of what's on Recycled In SPACE
is an example of this. Compare and contrast Expy
(which is when an author recycle one or more characters but not the rest of the story), Signature Style
, Follow the Leader
, Better by a Different Name
, Spiritual Licensee
and Recycled Script
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- Ryosuke Takahashi created both Armored Trooper VOTOMS and Gasaraki. Both shows involve a talented Mini Mecha pilot who doesn't talk much trying to save a mysterious girl who is a better pilot than he is from an Ancient Conspiracy.
- Summer Wars takes a significant number of cues from Digimon Adventure: Our War Game, a film director Mamoru Hosoda also directed nine years previously.
- Toshio Maeda, the creator of legendary Hentai series Urotsukidoji, recycled his own ideas a lot in his following works; one review of an especially egregious example started with the reviewer's less-than-impressed thoughts on the matter: "When is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery? When it's yourself you're ripping off."
- In the Frank Miller-written Daredevil: Born Again, one of the Kingpin's lieutenants speaks with an excessive amount of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, which is played for laughs. He would later use the same type of gag when writing Shlubb and Klump (a.k.a. Fat Man and Little Boy) from Sin City.
- Artist Greg Land is notorious for not only overusing photo references (tracing porn, basically) and plagiarizing other artists but also recycling much of his own work.
- Panic! was actually advertised as "the only authorized imitation of MAD." Both were published by EC Comics at the time. Its second issue parodied this by claiming in its editorial that MAD had stolen the concept from Panic! while the latter was in the design phase.
- Doug Moench would occasionally use the same plots and characters in his 80s Batman and Moon Knight runs. Sometimes, he would even mix up the names.
- "Fifty Shades of Grey'' started its life as a Twilight fanfiction called Master of the Universe. When edited for publication, it remained 89% identical to its former self.
- In American Psycho Patrick Bateman invokes this trope when reviewing Genesis, making claims such as the song "That's All" sounding too much like their previous song "Misunderstanding".
- Greg Bear has reused some of the science-fiction concepts he invents in one book in completely unrelated books. For instance, Moving Mars and Anvil of Stars both use the concept of "hacking real life", while Darwin's Radio and Blood Music both use communication and reasoning among microorganisms as major plot points.
- Legacy and Moving Mars both contain ecosystems based on Lamarckian evolution, as minor plot points.
- Meg Cabot freely admits to reusing names for minor characters in her different book series, mostly back in the days when she was writing under several different names, making it less likely that anyone would make a connection.
- A more literal example occurs with Arthur C. Clarke's novel 3001: The Final Odyssey, which simply cut and pastes several paragraphs concerning the Monolith builders' intentions from 2001. The same applies to a description of Europan life in 2010, which was reused almost verbatim in 2061 and 3001.
- Michael Crichton's Westworld depicts an amusement park built around unique atractions, robots. After the initial magnificient impression, chaos and death ensues when the robots outgrow their design and safeguards. Change two decades later robots for dinosaurs and you get the wildly successful Jurassic Park.
- David Eddings has this happen in at least The Belgariad and The Mallorean. Indeed, the characters recognize and discuss the repetitions of stories in their own lives, even noting the reason for it happening. At one point, a character even exploits this, noticing how similar the current situation is to a previous one and choosing to handle it differently.
- Frederick Forsyth fell prey to this in The Afghan, stealing several word for word passages from The Fist of God, and plot elements (such as one man telling the government that his brother can pass for an Arab, and then reminding the same people about it ten years later....).
- H.P. Lovecraft, despite his originality on almost all other fronts, had a tendency to create his own cliches and recycle plots and plot events he'd already used before, perhaps several times. One excellent and particularly extreme example is "Dagon" and "The Call of Cthulhu", the latter being pretty much a Remake of the former.
- Shadow of the Lion, first book of the Heirs Of Alexandria by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer, includes a fantasy reworking of Lackey's contributions to the science fiction shared-world "Merovingen Nights" begun by C. J. Cherryh, with the names changed but several passages taken almost word-for-word.
- Oscar Wilde did this quite a bit.
- Philip K. Dick often reused elements from his short stories in his novels. For example, the dolls from "The Days of Perky Pat" play a major roll in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and the concept of half-life from "What the Dead Men Say" is an important part of Ubik.
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- Nearly all of Johann Sebastian Bach's concertos for one or more harpsichords were transposed transcriptions of his concertos for other instruments, including the two violin concertos, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, the Flute Concerto, and the concertos for two violins and for violin and oboe.
- A number of Joseph Haydn's piano trios are reworkings of his solo piano sonatas, or parts thereof.
- The final movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's famous Piano Sonata in C K545 is almost identical to that of his Piano Sonata in F K135.
- Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quintet in C minor Op. 104 was a reworking, in a different instrumental medium, of his Piano Trio in C minor Op. 1/3.
- Franz Schubert reused a passage from the scherzo of his "Death and the Maiden" String Quartet in his 12 Ländler D790.
- John Fogerty was once sued by his former label (the one who represented him when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival, before his solo career) for sounding too similar to himself. In other words, they thought "The Old Man Down the Road" (which he recorded as a solo act) sounded too much like "Run Through the Jungle" (to which they owned the rights.) Fogerty won the case by performing both songs in the courtroom, illustrating the notable difference (though the songs do sound somewhat alike).
- Unlike most musicians, Fogerty no longer had the publishing rights to his CCR songs; he had surrendered those and all future royalties to get out of his contract with Fantasy Records. With the departure of head Saul Zaentz from the company, the two sides have reconciled.
- "Born on the Bayou" also sounds like the aforementioned songs.
- The band Renaissance had a hit with "Northern Lights". A couple of years later they recorded "Bonjour Swansong" which has an almost identical tune.
- Mike Oldfield's "Man in the Rain", "Moonlight Shadow", and "Poison Arrows" all sound extremely alike. Oldfield also repeated in Tubular Bells II as a Leitmotif a melody from "Guilty".
- Speaking of "Moonlight Shadow", Groove Coverage, after covering it, made a similar song titled "Little June".
- The style of the covers on Twisted Sister's Christmas album are influenced from some of their older songs. For instance, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" is done in the style of "We're Not Gonna Take It", and even lampshades it by using a part of its solo too.
- "We're Not Gonna Take It" itself already sounds a lot like "O Come All Ye Faithful".
- The band Nickelback has been accused of this in most of their songs, especially "How You Remind Me" and "Someday."
- The trance group Kaycee remixed Binary Finary's "1998", then made "Sunshine", which is a Suspiciously Similar Song to said tune.
- The Kinks released "You Really Got Me" in the summer of 1964. "All Day And All Of The Night" was released in October of the same year. These songs are practically identical, with nearly the same riffs and lyrics.
- Ray Davies is a prolific self-plagiarist. The liner notes for one Kinks compilation point out that you can take any random Kinks song and find another very similar song elsewhere in their discography.
- The riff to "All Day And All Of The Night" was (probably deliberately) self-plagiarized in the verses and refrains to "Destroyer" in 1981.
- Canadian band Bachman-Turner Overdrive's 1975 single 'Hey You' blatantly recycles the arrangement and much of the tune from their 1974 single 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet'.
- Beyoncé's "Halo" and Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone" sound similar, and were both written/produced by Ryan Tedder.
- Linkin Park's early releases are pretty much interchangeable. In fact, if you look at the waveforms...
- This has actually been lampshaded by the band members themselves. While promoting A Thousand Suns, they pretty much said that they could go into the studio and whip up a pre-Minutes to Midnight song in five minutes.
- Chuck Berry was notorious for recycling guitar riffs and even whole songs, most famously taking "School Day" and retooling it as "No Particular Place To Go".
- Rank 1 produced a Suspiciously Similar Song of Cygnus X's "The Orange Theme" titled "Black Snow", but also did an official remix of it under their own names of Bervoets & de Goejj.
- Talking Heads has "Life During Wartime", "Walk It Down", and "Girlfriend Is Better", which all sound very much alike.
- "Cryin'" and "Crazy" by Aerosmith not only sound uncannily alike but also even have slightly similar names (both being titled a single, five-letter word beginning with "CR").
- Not only that, they have virtually the same music video as well. Alicia Silverstone goes on delinquent sprees in both, however in the latter she is joined by a then-unknown Liv Tyler.
- "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Fixing a Hole" sound very much alike, and they're are from the very same Beatles album.
- Another example of songs from the very same album: "Born to be Wild" and "Faster than the Speed of Life".
- This Youtube video showcases a few examples of orchestral score composer James Horner's habit of repeating melodies he's already used in previous soundtracks of his. The film music compared is the scores to Avatar, Troy, Enemy at the Gates, and Willow.
- In Tommy The Who used an instrumental tune from "Rael 1" (on the album The Who Sell Out) as a Leitmotif.
- Cascada JHV'ed Groove Coverage's "Runaway" in "Bad Boy", then plagiarised themselves with a song ironically also titled "Runaway".
- Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" sounds a lot like their earlier hit "Clocks".
- The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd says Animals is full of this ("Dogs" recycles "Seamus", "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" copies "Have a Cigar", and "Sheep" is a pastiche of their psychedelic years).
- The famous "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music from Jeopardy!, composed by Merv Griffin, was self-plagiarised from a lullaby that Merv wrote for his son, Tony. The melody from the original lullaby, "A Time for Tony", was used as a prize bed on Wheel of Fortune for several seasons.
- Notoriously common in the Baroque era, before copyright was invented. For instance, Johann Sebastian Bach reused both the melody and arrangement of his own secular cantata ''Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!'' (Sound, ye drums! Resound, ye trumpets!) for his Christmas Oratorio. The only thing that was changed was the lyrics (not written by Bach, but a hired poet, in this case probably a man known as Picander). The cantata is now mostly known with the Christmas lyrics ''Jauchzet, frohlocket'' (Rejoice and be merry!).
- Shorter examples of such "plagiarism" are known as musical parody. Quite a few of Bach's works use musical parody - for example, a short snippet of a recitative movement of one of Bach's cantatas often turns up in another recitative from a different Bach cantata.
- Bernard Herrmann's opera Wuthering Heights has some music you might recognize from the films he scored. Given that the opera was never performed, this is understandable.
- Subverted with Apollo 100. The band made rock versions of classical music pieces, like those composed by Bach and Beethoven. Their song Beethoven 9 leads in to Ode to Joy in the middle of the song, in the same way as the opening to their song Joy, it turns into Ode to Joy instead of Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring.
- Merle Haggard has always been considered one of country's best lyricists. Musically, however...it's always seemed like he has maybe five or six tunes that he constantly recycles, sometimes altering progressions and tempos but not much else.
- Songwriter Jim Steinman frequently raids his own history for choice bits that he recycles in new songs.
- One of the best examples would be a bridge consisting mostly of the repeated line "Godspeed, godspeed, godspeed, speed us away", which has appeared in, among other songs, "Nowhere Fast" by Fire, Inc. (from the Streets of Fire soundtrack); "Bad For Good" from Steinman's own album of the same name, later covered by Meat Loaf; and "Graveyard Shift", a song from his in-development Batman stage musical.
- The intro to "Stark Raving Love," from Bad For Good, became the intro for "Holding Out For A Hero," recorded by Bonnie Tyler for the Footloose soundtrack.
- On a less specific level, Steinman has several distinctive motifs that he has employed almost to the point of cliche — thunderous drums and a massively multitracked chorus among others — although these may be less a case of self-plagiarism than simply his Signature Style.
- Legendary AC/DC guitarist Angus Young once said, proudly, "People keep saying we've made the same record 13 times over but that's a filthy lie. We've made the same record 14 times over."note
- The Jesus and Mary Chain are frequent abusers of this - you really can't go one album without finding at least two (some times up to 4) songs that sound almost exactly the same. This is particularly noticeable with their first three albums, which were all basically retreads of each other, just in different styles. Doesn't stop it from being awesome, though.
- Scar Symmetry (yes, Scar Symmetry) did this once. One of the opening riffs on the title track to Holographic Universe sounds nearly identical to the riff played during the breakdown of 'Calculate the Apocalypse'.
- Save for a couple albums, you probably won't be able to tell one Slayer song from another without looking at the title or listening hard to the lyrics.
- Disturbed often uses the same ending notes for their choruses. For example, 'Decadence' and 'Asylum' end their choruses with the exact same notes.
- Hybrid's single, "Blind Side", is a bit too similar to "Break My Soul" from their Disappear Here album.
- Basshunter's DOTA and All I Ever Wanted are the same song with different lyrics. In turn, "DOTA" is based on Daddy DJ's self-titled song.
- As well, Boten Anna was self-plagiarized into Now You're Gone.
- Weezer's Rivers Cuomo wrote, then discarded, Songs From The Black Hole, a Rock Opera that was going to be their second album. The first song to leak from this was "Blast Off!", and it turned out that they had reused a riff that occurs in the last verse of the song as the basis for "El Scorcho". It was probably considered fair game for recycling because of the whole Lost Episode thing - in fact, a few other Songs From The Black Hole numbers were just plain reused out-of-context on Pinkerton or as BSides.
- Country Music singer Keith Anderson self-plagiarized his hit "Every Time I Hear Your Name" for his later hit "I Still Miss You". Both are very similar-sounding songs about being reminded of a lover even after she's left, but the latter is a little more open-ended and could also apply to a friend or family member. (The latter also has different co-writers.)
- One of the biggest causes of controversy between fans of Dragonforce and nonfans is how much they're guilty of this. The nonfans will go as far as to say they have one song, which they make minor key changes on and present as a different one.
- Since they both steal from everyone it shouldn't be surprising to discover that Peter Schickele has stolen from P.D.Q Bach at least twice. One of Schickele's earliest compositions, the overture to The Civilian Barber was written based off of P.D.Q.'s notes note and the Variations in Schickele's Serenade for Three come from the title character's "I Am" Song in P.D.Q.'s dramatic oratorio, Oedipus Tex.
- Five Finger Death Punch pretty clearly recycled the riff in the bridge of 'The Way of the Fist' to use for the main riff of 'Burn It Down'.
- Cory Hall sometimes plagiarises his own piano music compositions.
- The second half of "The Way Home" by Thyx, a solo project by Stefan Poiss of Mind.in.a.Box, uses the same rhythm and synth progression of MIAB's "Doubt".
- Toby Keith's "God Love Her" is pretty much a re-write of his 2004 single "Whiskey Girl". Similar tempo and arrangement, and both are about The Lad-ette.
- Session musician Hargus "Pig" Robbins improvised the intro to Ronnie Milsap's 1976 single "(I'm a) Stand by My Woman Man", and unintentionally ended up making one nearly identical to the one he played on Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" three years prior. According to a 2004 Milsap compilation album, the similarities nearly led to a lawsuit.
- Loreena McKennitt's song "Beneath a Phrygian Sky" is more than reminiscent of her earlier famous song "The Bonny Swans".
- As Todd in the Shadows pointed out, Rednex followed up their reworking of Cotton-Eye Joe with "Old Pop In An Oak", which had an almost identical melody and instrumentation to the former. "The Way I Mate" also falls victim to this.
- Guitarist Stuart Zechman, a member of Stabbing Westward who also did some work with the band Filter, wrote an identical chorus riff for both Stabbing Westward's "Ungod" and Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot". The bands mutually agreed not to sue for plagiarism, and Stabbing Westward very rarely plays "Ungod" live, since "Hey Man, Nice Shot" was released as a single and became the much better-known song.
- Rage Against the Machine worked on an officially untitled collaboration (usually referred to as "Revolution" or "You Can't Kill The Revolution", due to the lyrics in the chorus) with Tool for the soundtrack to the film Judgment Night: The bands mutually agreed to scrap the song because neither were satisfied with it, but RATM reused its lengthy instrumental coda as the verse music for "New Millennium Homes". "Thinking Of You" by A Perfect Circle also has a similar rhythm to this same collaboration, which could simply be coincidence, although Maynard James Keenan did co-write it.
- For the "Würm" section of "Starship Trooper" by Yes, Steve Howe re-used a recurring riff from "Nether Street", a song by his pre-Yes band Bodast.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Hump De Bump" has similarities to their earlier song "American Ghost Dance", including an identical bass-line in the verse section. In fact, a Working Title for "Hump De Bump" was "Ghost Dance 2000" for this very reason.
- Gilbert and Sullivan plundered Gilbert's old "Bab Ballads" for plot ideas on a few occasions.
- Todd in the Shadows says that in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Bono and The Edge sometimes just take some of U2's songs and put different lyrics (one is blatantly the same as "Vertigo"!).
- Some of the music in Chess borrows from songs written by composers Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus for ABBA. In particular, the chorus of "I Know Him So Well" was based on the chorus of "I Am An A" and the chorus of "Anthem" used the chord structures from the guitar solo from "Our Last Summer".
- Their musical Kristina från Duvemåla features some music recycled from Andersson's solo albums. The most noticable is "Ljusa Kvällar Om Våren," which is based on the second segment of the titular suite from Klinga Mina Klockor.
- George Fredich Handel did this by re-casting 'Come Zephyrs, Come', which got cut from Semele as 'How Bless'd the Maid' from Hercules, with only small changers to the middle section. Both are very pretty arias, probably intended for the same actress. Both operas flopped (they're arguably better than his more famous works but opera was rapidly going out of favour as it was getting denounced as decadent by many in the Anglican church at the time), so neither version is heard much.
- The plots of Shakespeare's Othello and Cymbeline are nigh-identical until the climax. Both feature a forbidden love between a woman of high standing and an inadequate man, who is then convinced that his love is unfaithful by a wicked Italian, and decides to kill her as a result. Bonus points for the Italian antagonists being called Iago and Iachimo, the latter possibly meaning 'little Iago'.
- Quake and Doom. Practically the only thing that distinguished the first Quake from the latter series was that it had mouse-look and used true 3D instead of sprites.
- Between the SNES Super Punch-Out!! and the Wii remake, Nintendo made a similar boxing game called Teleroboxer for the Virtual Boy.
- After Turok 2 came out, Acclaim made another comic book-based FPS called Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M that ran on the same engine.
- The Virtual Boy shooter Vertical Force is very similar to the earlier shmups Soldier Blade and Star Soldier. All of them were made by Hudson Soft.
- In 1995, Atari Games released Area 51 which is a Light Gun Game that uses digitalized actors for the characters and 3D for everything else. Two years later, they released another light-gun shooter named Maximum Force which had a different theme but was pretty much identical otherwise. Both games used the COJag (Coin Operated Jaguar) system board, and many of the machines ended up converted into 2-in-1 machines with both Area 51 and Maximum Force.
- Some reviews accused Fossil Fighters of being an in-house Pokémon clone from Nintendo, since they're both Mons games—and the initial evil you fight is very similar to Team Rocket. However, aside from that, there's not a whole lot the two games share mechanics-wise, and even story-wise after about the halfway point.
- Harmonix created Karaoke Revolution for Konami and the first two Guitar Hero games. After Activision purchased Red Octane, Harmonix were left with the rights to those games' source code, but not their brand names. Their next project was Rock Band, which used a tweaked version of Guitar Hero's gameplay for guitar, and a tweaked version of Karaoke Revolution's for vocals.
- Like Rock Band above, the Call of Duty series was created by former Medal of Honor developers. In turn, the later MoH games have gameplay rather similar to CoD. And now the series is dueling with Modern Warfare.
- In 1997, 3DRealms released a first-person shooter called Shadow Warrior, a game based on the Build engine, about a loud-mouthed guy with big guns who likes breaking stuff and quipping sarcastic remarks about enemies he just killed. What does that remind you of?
- Between Colony Wars: Vengeance and Red Sun, Psygnosis released a very similar space flight simulator called Blast Radius done on the same engine.
- Donkey Kong 64 is widely considered to be a Banjo-Kazooie clone, thanks to the massive amount of collectables and level design in DK64, both staples of Banjo-Kazooie. Both games were made by Rare.
- Capcom released a Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law game that played more or less like a sillier version of Ace Attorney.
- Taito's Ashura Blaster is very similar to Toaplan's Twin Cobra, which was also published by Taito.
- Apollo Justice has a script that goes so out of its way to avoid mentioning characters' names from the original Phoenix Wright trilogy that it looks like they're Writing Around Trademarks. It becomes especially glaring when Phoenix refuses to use Maya's name in reference to her, given that she's his (ex)assistant. Only thing is, both games are made by Capcom, and Apollo is the sequel to Phoenix, so there's really no reason not to mention old friends by name.
- Super Smash Bros. Melee uses a version of "Bowser in the Dark World" from Super Mario 64 for its main menu.
- The history of Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio is rife with this. To put it in short: After Scooby-Doo was a huge hit, they made an enormous number of in-house copycats, each following the "Team of teens plus one wacky animal(ish) sidekick solve mysteries/fight evil" mold. Examples include Jabberjaw, Speed Buggy, The Funky Phantom...
- Team America: World Police self-plagiarised the self-referential "Montage" song from South Park.
- The first couple of American Dad! episodes had Cutaway Gags not unlike its more popular sister show Family Guy. Since the premise and art style are already very similar, those kind of jokes were banned to make the show more unique. More prominently, The Cleveland Show, which could be described as "Family Guy, but black".
- Filmations Ghostbusters (no, not those Ghostbusters) was just a repeat of their previous show He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) with Futura as The Sorceress, Primevil as Skeletor, etc. (In fact, didn't Alan Oppenheimer actually voice Primevil as well?) The same could perhaps be said about He-Man's Distaff Counterpart She-Ra, since virtually every main character on She-Ra was an Expy of a character on He-Man.
- Bravestarr was a little more distinct, but still basically He-Man with a sci-fi/western theme in place of sci-fi/fantasy.
- ThunderCats. SilverHawks. TigerSharks. Recycling was big in The Eighties.
- Pretty much every Peanuts TV special and movie recycles material and gags from the comic strip, which provided a nice loophole for the specials to continue to credit Charles M. Schulz as the writer after he was dead. A series of strips in which Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty had to share a desk got used twice, first in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown and later in the first episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Also, the strips which introduced Snoopy's brother Spike were animated for The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show and later some of the same strips were used in I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown.
- This often occurs in academic publishing; somebody might write a conference paper about something, then decide to make it into a journal paper or book chapter later. As in music, publishers who own the rights to the previous publications can sue the author for copyright infringement. The only thing for it is to perform the study again.
- Can also happen in academic writing with students. You're not supposed to use your own work in the current work you're writing.
- Programming writer Herbert Schildt is notorious for this, frequently copy-pasting parts of his books to newer books, which might be almost forgivable if he wasn't so frequently wrong about some very basic things. His collected works are referred to by most programmers as "Bullschildt".