Like looking into a mirror.
The cast runs into another group that is functionally identical to them. The same number of people, the same roles represented, maybe even the same tastes in clothes or food but expect a Palette Swap
. Usually creeps out the original group a lot
, although a common humor variant is that no one notices the similarities. Or only notices the similarities to everyone else's parallel but not their own
. If the characters find their counterparts' habits annoying
, without noticing any similarities, this can lead to Hypocritical Humor
. Sometimes it is Self-Parody
There are examples of a couple meeting another couple who are a timeshifted version of themselves. If younger, they reminisce about the start of their courtship, sometimes fighting about "what happened to us?" If older, they'll fight about how to avoid an unpleasant fate.
Compare The Psycho Rangers
, where the other squad are the evil versions. Those baddies are often recruited or created specifically to oppose our heroes, the standard Similar Squad
just happens to resemble the main cast. Often related or contributes to Geodesic Cast
if the new group sticks around.
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Anime and Manga
- Near the end of the first season of Pokémon, Ash befriends a rival Trainer named Ritchie, who is pretty much identical to Ash (He looks like a mixture between Ash and 'Red', the trainer from the original game). Ritchie's Pokemon team are a Similar Squad to Ash's; he even uses a Pikachu (nicknamed "Sparky") as his main Mon.
- Jessie even calls them the "twerp twins".
- The foursome cast of Saiyuki meet spoof groups of themselves. Usually these are impostors trying to cash in on their fame. In one instance the impostors get back together for a Day in the Limelight to exact revenge by making Sanzo's party look bad. In the end, they are discovered and are beaten up; by Sanzo's group, angry villagers, and Kougaiji no Nakama, who just happened to be passing through.
- In the latter half of Jazz, Narusawa starts working at a hospital with two doctors who mirror his and Naoki's relationship, but who seem to have dealt with their issues better.
- The third Detective Conan video, Conan is on a visit to Osaka and runs into a group of three children similar in appearance and name to the Detective Boys.
- When Mikado Durarara!! is walking alone and is lost in thought, he passes a trio of characters who resemble him and his friends Masaomi and Anri.
- Adam Warren's run on Gen 13 had the "Mongolian Barbeque Horde", with each member a counterpart to Gen13 itself. (DV8/The Deviants were a classic Psycho Ranger team.)
- In DC Comics, the Knight and Squire are the British counterparts to Batman and Robin. Paul Cornell takes this further, adding Hank, the Knight's American butler, and Harmless Villain Jarvis Poker, the British Joker.
- Issue 5 of the Adventure Time comic features Finn and Jake meeting Adventure Tim, a guy who looks like a mashup between Finn and Jake who often fights against the Mice King. Counterparts of Princess Bubblegum, B-MO, Marceline, Tree Trunks, Lumpy Space Princess, Lady Rainicorn, Lemongrab and the Lich are also mentioned.
- In The Muppet Show Comic Book: Seasons #2 "Summer", Fozzie is invited to play at the Whatnot Theater, to replace their previous comedian, Ozzie Bear. All the Whatnot troupe turn out to be counterparts to the Muppets, with the compiere being Dermot the Dog, and other Whatnots including Miss Tiggy (a tiger) Bonzo the Great (a monkey), Dr Tongue, and Vegetable (a giant carrot who plays the spoons).
- In Jingo, Colon is horrified to realise that he and Nobby, in disguise, are being threatened by a couple of Klatchian market guards who have nothing better to do with their time than look for street entertainment, and one of whom is "a know-all".
- There's a young adult Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles novel by Dave Morris called Buried Treasure, in which a minor plot point involves the Turtles encountering a team of four humanoid mutant squirrels who were trained as secret agents and named after famous musical composers ("Beethoven", "Mozart", "Wagner" and "Bach") by their mentor. Yes, really.
Live Action TV
- Played with when the Stargate SG-1 team meets their Wormhole Extreme counterparts.
- Played more seriously in an episode where SG-1 went on a mission with a Russian SG team. Each team member had an obvious counterpart with a similar job and personalities. The Teal'c counterpart died trying to hold open a door, and was crushed to death, the Daniel counterpart was taken over by a Goa'uld, and was killed in a Heroic Sacrifice by the Jack counterpart. Which meant that only the Sam counterpart survived.
- The Friends True Companions once walked in on another group using their couch at Central Perk.
- When Frasier went to see Diane's play, he wasn't expecting a carbon copy of Cheers. He sure as hell wasn't expecting the Diane-lite to be a Mary Sue who was loved by the Frasier-lite even after she dumped him at the altar.
- Much to Niles's annoyance, after he declined to move in on Daphne while she was on the rebound, she was picked up by a Niles-lookalike instead. Martin and Frasier suspect they've entered The Twilight Zone. Daphne never notices.
- The Bizarro Jerry that Elaine dates and his clique on Seinfeld. The main cast is known for their cynicism, bad luck, and often-outright antisocial behavior, Bizarro Jerry's crew is supportive, genial, and generally happy with their lives. (As an example, Bizarro Kramer knocks on the door before entering.) Of course, Elaine chooses to be with the latter, but her tendency to give playful Armor Piercing Punches undoes the happy little tryst, and soon enough she's back with the poor schlubs she usually hangs out with.
- On The Drew Carey Show when Drew accidentally hosted the worlds biggest kegger, an opposite-sex version of the Drew Crew showed up. Oswald and Lewis found themeselves attracted to Lois and Olivia, until they all realized why they found each other "so familiar." All four were Squicked and went their separate ways.
- Bones, in the episode where the cast went to England.
- The Norwegians on Pushing Daisies were supposed to be this, but it seems like a lot of viewers didn't catch on.
- In an episode of Corner Gas, the town decides to employ professional firefighters. The two they hire are named Carol and David and are almost exact copies of the two cops Karen and Davis. Needless to say, Karen and Davis fail to notice this similarity and are overcome with jealousy regarding the firefighters.
- NCIS. In "Doppelganger," Team Gibbs is dumbfounded to find a Metro PD squad whose members are identical in personality to their own. A Perp Sweating leader who Dope Slaps and drinks Starbucks coffee, a probie geek who fetches said coffee, a Handsome Lech Italian-American whose attempts to flirt with Kate are crushed with sarcasm and a Deadpan Snarker female cop who does the same thing to DiNozzo.
- Father Ted had the counterpart priests from Rugged Island: Dick Byrne, Cyril MacDuff and Jim Johnson.
- Was used on Hawaii Five-O and Showtime's late 1980s Robin Hood series.
- Subverted in Super Sentai with the "Evoranger" of Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, doubles who last about three minutes before being killed off by AbareKiller.
- "The 2 Live Crew Job" episode of Leverage features this. Marcus Starke plays Mastermind and Grifter (essentially doing both Nate and Sophie's jobs), Mikel Dayan is The Hitter and opposes Eliot, Hardison's Evil Counterpart Chaos is their Hacker, and infiltrator Apollo counters Parker, the Leverage crew's Thief. This is likely justified by the skills that the job in question requires—you need a team with that sort of structure to pull it off.
- In a justified version of this trope, the Sliders gang usually ran into other versions of themselves on their trips to other dimensions.
- In the first episode of the final season of Laverne and Shirley, Laverne was shopping around for a new roommate after Shirley's abrupt departure from the show; she encountered a double of herself, then a double of Shirley. The doubles promptly paired up and abandoned her.
- Farscape: "Fractures" features a similar group of escaped prisoners. Interestingly, it's also the episode where the two Cast Herds finally came back together; the choice to feature a symmetrical crew is also darkly appropriate given that the "twinned" John had just died.
- An episode of the The X-Files starts with what appears to be Mulder and Scully questioning a suspect; when the suspect says something to the effect of "everyone has a doppleganger," we see the faces of the Similar Squad for the first time. The malevolent force of the episode then seriously injures the two, leading to the real Mulder and Scully investigating days later. They never notice the resemblance, but Mulder suspects the other two agents were in a relationship.
- Community has several examples, recurring most often is the set of actors who portray the study group in Abed's student films.
- In the "Girl Group" episode of Big Time Rush, the boys seek help from an old, washed up boy band called Boyz in the Attic. There are four members of this band, and each one clearly a deadbeat future parody of the BTR boys.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Moze befriends a girl named Jennifer Tu who she has everything in common with. Jennifer Tu's best friends are Ted and Mookie, and yes, it seems like they act just like Ned and Cookie.
- Being Human gives us a similar group of roommates at the beginning of series four. It's a somewhat curious example in that by this point George and Mitchell are already dead, and Hal takes a step up from squad to outright substitute. Part of their purpose is to show the natural ramifications of the arrangement, namely that while vampires and ghosts are immortal, werewolves are not.
- Doctor Who: In "The Greatest Show In The Galaxy", the Doctor and his Mad Bomber sidekick Ace encounter the "eminent intergalactic explorer" Captain Cook and his werewolf sidekick Mags.
- Transformers: Wings of Honor has this in the form of Thunderclash and Metalhawk's Elite Guard squads, who both seem to be slightly different takes on the same four archetypes. The two squads have a friendly rivalry going on as a result.
- Done once in Boner's Ark, when they meet a whole ship that's a duplicate of theirs, only there's two of every animal...
- Happened in Tales of Symphonia. The original team kind of debated who their counterparts in the ersatz team were...
- In Dragon Quest IV, the King tells the hero that he's not needed as there's already a four-member party heading off to fight the Big Bad. Later in the game your four-member party runs into that four-member party.
- Team Fortress 2 has this as a central gameplay element.
- Little Gigant in Inazuma Eleven 3, though it's subtle enough that it's easy to miss. Their starting members are Expies of the original Raimon Eleven from the first game, while their bench members are Expies of Megane (the perpetual benchwarmer from the first game) plus four of the story characters introduced in the second game (namely Tachimukai, Kogure, Fubuki, and Tsunami)
- In Mass Effect 2, after being a member of Shepard's squad in the first game, Garrus was inspired to form his own team of vigilantes. Unfortunately they were betrayed from within by Sidonis, leading to everyone but Garrus getting killed when the three largest criminal gangs on Omega teamed up and lay siege to their hideout.
- In Mass Effect 3, being essentially the Prothean version of Shepard, it's no surprise that Javik had a similar squad in his own time. Part of the reason behind his grim outlook comes from the fact that he was forced to mercy-kill his entire team, after they were captured and indoctrinated by the Reapers.
- In the sequel to Golden Sun, the Lost Age crew runs into and then joins the party from the first game, giving the player a party of eight members with two adepts representing each element.
- Commander Kitty would have fewer problems if Ace's squad were actually more similar than not.
- Sinfest got it, too... albeit with a somewhat different reaction than usual.
- A couple of sets occur in 8-Bit Theater, most notably the Other Warriors, but also the Real Light Warriors who are an inverted Psycho Rangers.
- The Linear Guild seems initially to be one for The Order of the Stick. Turns out, they're The Psycho Rangers, deliberately assembled that way by their Genre Savvy leader.
- Across the street from Shortpacked! is McAwesome's, which is staffed entirely by people amazingly similar to the main cast who are opposite in some way (Galasso's counterpart is black and isn't a megalomaniac). It's later revealed that Mike, who switches to his friendly alter-ego when he gets drunk, works there, making his intoxicated self his counterpart.
- It's also implied that Zaph and Rose are related, mirroring the relationship of their Shortpacked counterparts, Faz and Amber (and may actually be related TO their counterparts).
- A guest-strip featured Leslie's rebound relationship, who was a British Robin complete with foiled invasion backstory and position in Parliament.
- In this Questionable Content strip, Marten, seeking a new coffee house, finds one with its own versions of himself, Faye, Dora and Steve.
- Then Faye learns from Alt!Dora that Angus used to go to the Secret Bakery to get insulted by Alt!Faye, because he was not-so-secretly attracted to her. Awkward...
- And then Marten, having broken up with Dora, was briefly in a relationship with Padma (Alt!Dora). Surprisingly, he hasn't been called on this.
- In a Nodwick strip from Dragon Magazine, the party meets a group of Japanese-style adventurers who are pretty much the same as them except for over-the-top attack names. Except for their henchman, who is exactly the same as Nodwick.
Nodwick: Is there anything you teach me?
Japanese Henchman: How about "The Way of the Sacrificial Pack-Mule"?
- In a web-published strip, they meet another party who are less similar but still have all the same classes (fighter, wizard, cleric, and henchman). They develop a friendly rivalry.
- In Li'l Gotham #8, The Joker and Harley Quinn are captured by the pirate Captain Greenbeard and his 'hench wench' Helena Queenie. On seeing them, Catwoman's reaction is:
Catwoman: "Green", "HQ"... Don't I know you?
- Craig's gang on South Park.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Bart and Lisa figure out how to bring back Itchy and Scratchy but are beaten to the punch by "Lester and Eliza". note
- An early episode family goes for counseling and encounters a happier family that looks a lot like them in the waiting room.
- If the "Lemon of Troy" episode is anything to go on, Shelbyville is a full-on copy of Springfield, with counterparts to many of its major citizens and points of interest.
- Also subverted in "You Only Move Twice"; when Bart first goes to school in Cypress Creek, he briefly meets a Milhouse-like boy ("Hey, Bart, do you have a best friend yet? 'Cause I've been looking for someone to boss me around"). However, Bart is moved to remedial class before more interactions between the two could take place.
- A gag of this sort made it into The Movie, Bart scribbled a Paper-Thin Disguise onto a wanted poster depicting his family. Moments later, a family who looks exactly like the newly tampered photo are arrested on the spot.
- "Homer? Who is Homer? My name is Guy Incognito!"
- Futurama: An episode has Professor Farnsworth recruiting three new employees who look suspiciously like Fry, Leela, and Bender, believing that they're dead, only for the originals to walk into the room. It's implied that Fry, Leela, and Bender are this in turn to the previous crew of the Planet Express who died attempting to harvest space honey.
- "You'll be the captain, you'll be the delivery boy, and you'll be the alcoholic thieving robot..."
- Recess: The kids once competed against a school run by the principal's brother - basically every kid had their own double with variations in gender/race, and similar names (Regalli—Spinelli, Vance—Vince, Greta Grobler—Gretchen Grundler, Russ Rimple—Gus Griswald, Mickey—Mikey, C.J. Rottweiler—T.J. Detweiler).
- And then it happened again, albeit with less direct similarity, when Lawson rounded up his own band of recurring minor characters. The shortened version of the opening sequence that normally occurs midway through the show is even replaced with an alternate version starring those kids (it was a double-length episode).
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Thaddeus and Thor", Phineas and Ferb run into two equally-inventive but much less likable kids named, well, Thaddeus and Thor.
- In an episode of the 2010 Pound Puppies ("Catcalls"), the main team runs into a similar team of cats for the first time. The "Kennel Kittens" not only look like their dog counterparts and have similar roles and names, they share voice actors as well.
- And in "Quintuplets", Lucky and the gang meet a litter of five puppies, with each sibling has a personality corresponding to a dog in the main group (which is repeatedly lampshaded).
- One episode of King of the Hill showed that the residents of a nearby parallel street had counterparts to all of the main (and secondary) characters. The desire to best them is the only known thing the familiar characters all have in common.
- Another episode had Hal, an almost exact copy of Hank.
- In an episode of Rated A For Awesome, the Awesome-izers are stuck in the country on a field trip and meet a group of country kids (and their pet dog) who are their exact counterparts.
- In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the history of Crystal Cove is littered with teams of mystery solving teenagers. Most of them had a square-jawed Leader, a Smart Girl, a Girly Girl and a tall gangly guy. (And, of course, a Non-Human Sidekick). Even with the single-gender teams (one of monks and one of cowgirls) you can still see who the counterparts are.
- Used for a brief sight gag in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003). While hiding in the sewers of an alien world, Mikey sees a group of headband-wearing mutant rats led by a terrapin. "Whoa."