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[[quoteright:256:[[VideoGame/PunchOut http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/punch-out-box-art-comparison_1512.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:256: Hey! [[ComicallyMissingThePoint Why did they get a new ref?]]]]

->'''Martin Lloyd:''' How am I supposed to tell a story without my lead character?\\
'''Cam Mitchell:''' Easy, just bring in a character to replace him.\\
''[everyone looks at Cam in silence]''\\
'''Cam Mitchell:''' ... What?
-->-- ''Series/StargateSG1'', "200," [[SelfDeprecation mocking the hell out of itself]]

A character who joins the cast as a replacement for a character who has left the show due to real-life distractions (contract negotiations, death, etc.) despite being integral to the plot or concept of the series. Invariably, this character fills the {{Stock Character|s}} slot left vacant by the departed, whether that be [[PluckyComicRelief comic relief]], [[TheSmartGuy intellectual]], or [[TheBigGuy musclebound bruiser]].

Often, the character has some twist or gimmick to make it seem as if the character is unique, and the writers aren't actually grasping at straws to salvage the year's worth of scripts already written.

Some shows will take risks in such replacements, making the replacements truly different characters, rather than a similar character with a twist. That is much harder on the writers, since they can't simply tweak the scripts they had already written for the old character. Usually when this happens it is very intentional on the part of the production.

The vast majority of these replacements still take up the role of the previous character but how much they resemble their predecessor varies widely.

{{Justified|Trope}} in [[CommandRoster military]] and some business settings where there are specific roles.

A Suspiciously Similar Substitute is dangerously prone to becoming [[TheScrappy hated by the fanbase]], creating a ReplacementScrappy, and for a very understandable reason. If they're too similar, fans may become annoyed at the removal of a well liked character if their replacement is just the same guy with a different name and face. They may wonder why the character needed to be replaced if the story can still be told with the previous character, and get annoyed at the unneeded change of character.

For ''very'' suspiciously similar substitutes, see BackupTwin. Compare DiscardAndDraw, which does the same sort of thing with superpowers instead of characters and LegacyCharacter, where the new character actually adopts the persona of the old one. The {{inver|tedTrope}}sion, where the ''same'' character fills a ''different'' role, is SameCharacterButDifferent.

See also: {{Expy}}, ConvenientReplacementCharacter, TemporarySubstitute, TheOtherDarrin, TheNthDoctor, PutOnABus, DroppedABridgeOnHim, RoleEndingMisdemeanor, CounterpartComparison, ReplacementLoveInterest, LongRunnerCastTurnover (the result of [[AddedAlliterativeAppeal Several Suspiciously Similar Substitutes]] over time), AntiHeroSubstitute (when the substitute is DarkerAndEdgier), SuspiciouslySimilarSong (substitute ''in the form of a song''), and MeetTheNewBoss (for villainous examples).

Contrast with the ContrastingSequelMainCharacter.

* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/AnimeAndManga
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/ComicBooks
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/{{Film}}
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/{{Literature}}
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/LiveActionTV
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/VideoGames
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute/WesternAnimation


[[folder:Card Games]]
* Played for laughs in ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'', where whenever a player 'dies', everybody else at the table gets a chance to loot the 'body'...and then the same player simply carries on with a notionally new character of the exact same level, race, and class as the old one.

* ''FanFic/TheEndOfEnds'': While he looks like Robin and has the psychic powers of Raven, Copy Cat's namesake ability, to copy the forms of others, is reminiscent of the missing Beast Boy. [[spoiler:Guess what happens once Beast Boy is KilledOffForReal]].
* In ''{{FanFic/Vapors}}'' this is invoked by the Third Hokage when he replaces [[spoiler: the late Sakura Haruno]] with the newly-discovered [[spoiler: Karin Uzumaki]] partly out of convenience, and partly as an attempt to help them cope with what happened.
* The ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' fanfic ''Fanfic/InShortSupply'' is set a few years after the show, so it wouldn't make sense for Zim and Dib to still have Ms. Bitters as a teacher. Instead, we get [[PunnyName Ms. Airy]], who is just as weird, cruel and depressing. There's also Ms. Fhtagn, an AmbiguouslyHuman guidance counselor who's similar but a bit more unique.

* Brian Johnson was brought into the band Music/{{ACDC}} after Bon Scott's death primarily because he had a voice very similar to Scott, making him a substitute of a sort. Notable for the fact that, unlike most established bands, their popularity ''increased'' with the singer change.
* Averted when Vince Neil had a falling out with the rest of Music/MotleyCrue, John Corabi came in to replace him. He was picked largely because his voice had an extremely different tone to Vince's, and Nikki Sixx, the primary songwriter, wanted to try a different direction. The album they recorded together didn't sell very well, and Vince returned to the band not long afterwards. Nikki has stated that they briefly toyed with the idea of having two singers, as John became a close friend during recording.
* Randy Meisner was the bass-player and high-voiced backing vocalist in the band Poco. He left to join what would become Music/{{Eagles}} (filling the same role) and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmitt, whose distinctive features were also the high vocals, long hair and slight ''metrosexual'' vibe. When Randy left Eagles, guess who replaced him? The fact they're both introverted serious family men (as opposed to other band members who were party animals in their time) helps a lot too.
* Music/DeepPurple's career is characterised by many line-up changes, but avoided any Suspiciously Similar Substitutions. Instead, they recruited new members with their own distinctive sound, resulting in significant changes in the style of the band's music from one line-up to the next.
* Music/JudasPriest's Rob Halford left the band in 1992, and was replaced with Tim "Ripper" Owens in 1996, who had ironically sung in a Judas Priest tribute band, who sounded nearly identical to Halford in some songs. Owens parted amicably with the band, and Rob Halford re-joined them. This story was the inspiration behind the movie ''Film/RockStar''.
** Also, when Tim went to join Iced Earth, a few casual fans thought that Rob had joined the band.
* Averted when ''Series/AmericanIdol'' contestant Chris Daughtry declined band Fuel's offer to replace their lead singer in favor of having his own band, Daughtry. Daughtry has recorded several huge hits since.
* Music/PhilCollins got to replace Music/PeterGabriel in Music/{{Genesis}} mostly because their voices were so similar.
* After Mick Jones got fired in 1983, Music/TheClash brought in two guitarists to replace him. One of them, Nick Sheppard, [[CelebrityResemblance looked enough like Jones that they could easily have passed for brothers]]. Jones had the last laugh, as the new Clash lineup broke up after only one album while his new group Big Audio Dynamite was an instant success.
* Subverted with Music/TheNewPornographers. Kathryn Calder serves as the female lead vocals on tour, but only when Neko Case (also a member, but a major solo singer in her own right) isn't available to tour.
* After Music/TheFall's frontman Mark E. Smith and keyboardist/girlfriend Julia Nagle had a major falling out in the late 1990s, tensions between the two intensified, with the two first breaking up and then Nagle leaving The Fall ca. 2001. Suspiciously Similar Substitute -- and Smith's eventual third wife -- Elena Poulou became The Fall's keyboardist in late 2002.
* David Gilmour started out as this during his first weeks with Music/PinkFloyd in order to cover for the increasingly unstable Syd Barrett. After Barrett's departure, Gilmour was originally supposed to continue playing guitar the way Syd used to; this lasted until about late 1968 when the band started shifting its musical direction.
* Music/GunsNRoses has had [[RevolvingDoorBand many members come and go over the years]] since the dissolution of the "classic" lineup, but many of the replacements were very different from their predecessors. For example, Music/{{Buckethead}} is very, very different from his predecessor Slash. However, 2009 rolls around and their newest guitar player wears a top hat, smokes while playing, plays a Les Paul, and is known for his bluesy style.
* Music/{{Sublime}} singer Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose shortly after their breakthrough hit. The band tried to reform over a decade later with sound-alike Rome Ramirez, causing a major argument and eventual legal battle with Nowell's family: The family thought no one should tour under the Sublime name, and the band wanted to finally get to play for all the fans they gained since 40oz to Freedom was released. Eventually the settled on calling the band "Sublime with Rome."
* Arena-rock über-group Music/{{Journey}} is enjoying something of a career resurgence, largely in part to having hired Philippines-born singer [[AscendedFanboy Arnel Pineda]] to handle lead vocal duties. And while Pineda looks not-a-lot like their former powerhouse tenor Steve Perry, their similarity in vocal tone is [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EvRZBJIKf4 undeniable]].
* After blonde bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera left brass-drenched band Music/{{Chicago}} in 1985 to embark on a solo career, Chicago responded by hiring sandy-haired singer/bass player Jason Scheff to replace him. Didn't hurt that Scheff's vocal tone was a near [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO8dVXTHiBw cut-and-paste of Cetera's]], either. And when Chicago's next few singles included the pseudo-Cetera-sounding "Will You Still Love Me?" and "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" many casual fans didn't even notice the switch.
* Current Music/{{Yes}} vocalist Benoït David sounds quite a lot like erstwhile Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. This probably isn't surprising since they plucked him out of a [[AscendedFanboy Yes tribute band]]. Trevor Horn, who handled lead vocals on the band's 1980 album ''Drama'', also sounds rather similar to Anderson.
* Country music group Shenandoah had a hard time holding a lead singer after Marty Raybon left. However, one of the replacements was Jimmy Yeary, who sounded uncannily like Raybon.
* Though there were guitarists between them, [[Music/BlackLabelSociety Zakk Wylde]] appeared to be this for Randy Rhoads when he started playing with Music/{{Ozzy|Osbourne}}: both having long blonde hair, white Les Pauls, and great technical prowess, although Randy was more [[DudeLooksLikeALady effeminate]] looking due to how extremely skinny he was. Wylde's distinct Bullseye guitar design came about as an attempt to visually distinguish himself from Rhoads.
* When rotund lead guitarist/songwriter Randy Bachman left The Guess Who, he was replaced by rotund lead guitarist/songwriter Kurt Winter.
* When Jermaine Jackson quit Music/TheJacksonFive in the mid-'70s, the youngest brother Randy (who'd been touring with them as a percussionist) replaced him, having a similar voice (compare Jermaine's "Daddy's Home" with Randy's vocals in "Can You Feel It"). In 1983, Jermaine rejoined for the famed Motown TV special, and they released their final album in 1989, wherein the lineup consisted of both brothers as well as the two oldest Music/MichaelJackson had become the biggest solo artist in music, while middle brother Marlon released an unsuccessful solo album and appeared in a film produced by Troma).
* Broods is a brother-sister [[ElectronicMusic electronic]] IndiePop duo who sounds almost exactly like Music/{{Lorde}}, to the point where some people thought their songs were Lorde songs. There are a couple reasons for this: 1. They're both from New Zealand, and 2. They both have the same [[{{Producers}} producer]], Joel Little.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''[[Comicstrip/RobotManAndMonty Monty]]'' was once called ''Robotman'', but the syndicate wanted the creator Jim Meddick to [[LongBusTrip remove]] the Robotman character[[note]]The syndicate was tired of receiving complaints that ''this'' Robotman was far from the friendly cartoon character of ''Robotman And Friends'', of which the comic was ''technically'' a SpinOff[[/note]]. That done, fast-forward several years, and Monty is befriended by the mysterious eccentric scientist Doc-and his robot sidekick E. B. So far there's no sign that the syndicate wants to dump this new robotic character.
* Originally in ''ComicStrip/ForBetterOrForWorse'', Lynn Johnston had intended to pair off Elizabeth with Christopher Nichols, but when that family was placed under embargo for reasons she took his design, slapped freckles and glasses on him, and created Anthony Caine, her [[CreatorsPet Wesley]].

* Mr. Saito to Professor Tanaka as Wrestling/MrFuji's {{tag team}} partner.
* [[Wrestling/KiaStevens Amazing Kong]] debuted as a suspiciously similar substitute to Wrestling/AjaKong.
* Lollipop was a suspiciously similar substitute to Krissy Vaine when the latter wasn't available for bookers who wanted to use Team Blondage.(there were still two members besides Vaine, but they hated each other and wouldn't have worked for the ''Film/MeanGirls'' vibe the team was going for)
* Wrestling/MuhammadHassan and Davari were suspiciously similar substitutes to Rodney Mack and Theodore Long.
* Epiphany debuted as a suspiciously similar substitute to Wrestling/BethPhoenix.

[[folder: Puppet Shows]]
* In ''The Secret Life Of Toys'', Apple, the plastic doll from ''Film/TheChristmasToy'' was replaced by a more Muppety rag doll called Raisin. The male rocking horse Belmont is replaced by a [[GenderFlip female]] rocking horse called Hortense, presumably because Belmont [[TheCharacterDiedWithHim was voiced by Richard Hunt]].

* Comedian Artie Lange replacing Comedian Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling on ''Radio/TheHowardSternShow''. Somewhat averted in that while the two did have similar hobbies and character traits, Lange was specifically hired as an on air personality, whereas Jackie was only sometimes on air, with his main job as writer.
* Jack Allen from ''Radio/AdventuresInOdyssey''. After addressing the ReplacementScrappy issue head-on by openly admitting that he could never replace Whit... he replaced Whit. He was generally well-received, though, and after resolving some storylines that hinged on "Whit's" presence, he developed into his own character.
* In ''Radio/TheNavyLark'', Troutbridge's Number One in the first season, Dennis Price, was replaced by Stephen Murray in all the following seasons. They were different characters, but shared some of the same knowledge and responses.
* In ''Radio/TheJackBennyProgram'', there were several cast changes over the years: Bob Crosby for Phil Harris; Dennis Day for Kenny Baker.
* The first Creator/BigFinish ''Fourth Doctor Adventures'' set - "The Hornet's Nest", "The Serpent's Crest" and "The Demon Quest" - was originally written with the Brigadier as the companion, but when Nicolas Courtney fell ill the part was rewritten for UNIT Captain Mark Yates.
* In the first two series of ''Radio/TheMenFromTheMinistry'', the "One" of General Assistance Department was Roland Hamilton-Jones, played by Wilfrid Hyde-White. After he left "One" became Deryck Guyler's [[TheDanza Deryck]] Lennox-Brown for the rest of the series. The two were practically the exact same characters with different names, and the show never acknowledged the change.
** The change also happened in the Finnish version of the show, but only much later (in that most Lennox-Brown episodes have been translated with Hammilton-Jones in his place) and only due due [[TheCharacterDiedWithHim the actor Kauko Helovirta's death in 1997.]]

* In Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG, Stromling!Palmer was created to fill the role of a powerful Stromling leader, very shortly after Stromling!Zachary's HeelFaceTurn and Ahua's death. [[ReplacementScrappy It did not go over so well with the other players]].

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''Very'' common in roleplaying games when a PlayerCharacter [[KilledOffForReal dies]] [[BackFromTheDead (and isn't brought back)]]. In the mildest case, the character will be replaced by one of about same level as the deceased (and even this can strain WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief if the characters are peerless world-saving heroes). Often, there is pressure on the player to create a character who can fill the same party role that's been vacated. (And then there are players who will just rub out the name on their old character sheet and reuse everything else...)
* In ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' 4th Edition, a ''TabletopGame/DarkSun'' epic destiny has the main character become a hero template, and killing off the lead character would simply bring in a mechanically-identical replacement with the same powers and abilities.
* Actually noted InUniverse in ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'' with the Ventrue and their Roman Era counterpart, the lost clan of the Julii. Literally the ''only'' difference between the two is in their Clan Weakness, and even then they're just different flavors of the same "particularly detached from Humanity" motif[[note]]Julii are more likely to lose Humanity, Ventrue are more likely to go crazy when they lose Humanity[[/note]]. It's commonly accepted by vampires that the Ventrue are either a mutated form of the Julii, or a Julii Bloodline that eventually outbred the original Clan.

* Not exactly an apt trope for plays, but there's a very similar feeling in ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'': Brabantio, father of Desdemona, has a role in the first act, then does not follow when the action moves to Cyprus; then in the last act Gratiano, his brother, shows up to announce Brabantio is dead and generally stand in for him as a Venetian authority figure. Heightened in some small productions where the two characters are played by the same actor.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner''
** It made fun of this trope when, on an episode of the ShowWithinAShow ''Cheat Commandos'', Gunhaver [[PutOnABus has to go on a secret mission to the moon for an undisclosed period of time]] (and if he ever comes back [[TheOtherDarrin his voice might be different]]), and is replaced by Agent Chimendez, who is [[SarcasmMode certainly not]] [[AuthorAvatar writer A. Chimendez implementing himself in the show]].
** There's also "Onion Bubs," and the various other versions used to replace "Original Bubs."
* Acknowledged and actually a big part of the plot in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', where the original Church ([[spoiler:actually the AI Alpha]]) dies in season 6 and is replaced by another Church in season 7 ([[spoiler:actually the AI Epsilon, who's made up of Alpha's memories]]). The two look and act almost exactly the same.
* ''WebAnimation/{{Dreamscape}}'': The Overlord of Evil shares a lot of qualities with [[PosthumousCharacter the Master of the Dammed]], and not just in the case of names and looks. Both of them are powerful liches who have a world they either rule or desire to rule over, have an army of Mooks, and have another villain (or villains) under their command.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Lampshaded in ''[[WilliamBazillion The Chronicles of William Bazillion]]'' [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/andrew/bazillion/series.php?view=archive&chapter=25371&mpe=1&fromwhich=1&direction=f here]].
* L.D., the ruthless wolf CEO of [=HerdThinners=] in ''Webcomic/KevinAndKell'', only seen as a pair of slavering jaws, died in the first year and was immediately replaced by R.L., a ruthless wolf only seen as a pair of slavering jaws.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sonichu}}'', the character of Sandy is introduced almost immediately after the death of her mother Simonla. She had all of the same abilities as her, too.
* Discussed in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' when Tarquin claims that [[spoiler:after he kills Roy Greenhilt and Durkon Thundershield, Elan will have a TerribleIntervieweesMontage and end up hiring Rob Redblade and Murkon Lightninghammer.]] This references the tendency in ''Dungeon & Dragons'' campaigns where a lost party member will be quickly replaced by another character with the same class and level (to maintain party balance), and because they're played by the same person, often the same personality too. It also references the ''On the Origin of [=PCs=]'' book, wherein [[spoiler:Roy hires Elan through a TerribleIntervieweesMontage.]]
* Played with in ''Webcomic/XWhy'' when substitute teacher [[http://xwhy.comicgenesis.com/d/20090724.html Quinn Jonas]] comes in for Ken.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebVideo/{{Awkward}}'': The departure of Ernie and Henry resulted in new characters turning up to fill their shoes: Henry (the therapist) is replaced with Dexter (the sage), and Ernie (the douche) with Jermaine (the mega-douche).
* There's a Muppet Web TV show, [[http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Muppets_Kitchen_with_Cat_Cora The Muppets Kitchen With Cat Cora]] that has Cora working with a new muppet, Angelo, an Italian chef. His role as a cook and his heavy Italian accent inevitably invite comparisons to the Swedish Chef (although Angelo speaks intelligibly and is actually competent), and viewer comments indicate that at least some see him as a ReplacementScrappy.
-->'''Beauregard''': [[LampshadeHanging Hey, didn't you used to be Swedish?]]\\
'''Angelo''': That's-a the other guy!
* {{Discussed}} in Creator/DougWalker's "Disneycember" reviews of the Disney cheapquels--aside from "Ursula's crazy sister" in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaidIIReturnToTheSea,'' he was actually really annoyed when he realized that [[Disney/TheLittleMermaidIII the prequel]]'s villain wasn't just Ursula, but a new character with the same backstory and similar appearance.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-17244407 A police officer who was the leader of a British charity was replaced by his twin brother after he was killed in the line of duty.]]
** Also the Polish president. And there's [[UsefulNotes/{{Cuba}} Fidel and Raul]]...
* Twin footballers Rafael and Fabio Da Silva both played the same position on Manchester United for some time.
* It can often seem a bit like this in professional team sports, when a particular 'role' is 'recast.' In particular, the identities of the fourth line (aka the goon line) of one's favourite ice hockey team seem to change about as frequently as Diana Ross's outfit. Sometimes it happens with more well-known players - eg. if a soccer/football team replace their tall, hulking, head-the-ball centre forward with another player who does the exact same thing, leaving the fans to wonder what exactly was the point of the exchange.
* Brand name products can be expensive. It's not uncommon to see shelves at home stocked not with brand name Cheerios, but with store-brand imitations like "Tasteeos."
* [=PepsiCo=] has the rights to distribute the 7 Up soft drink in every country except the U.S. (where the rights are held by Dr. Pepper). There, Pepsi instead sells the suspiciously similar soda Sierra Mist.
* Mr. Pibb was Coca-Cola's version of Dr. Pepper, mostly sold in places where Coke bottlers don't bottle Dr. Pepper. Then its formula was changed and it became "Pibb Extra". Nonetheless, many generic versions of Dr. Pepper exist, usually with "Dr." somewhere in the name (Pibb was originally "Dr. Pibb", but Dr. Pepper sued Coca-Cola for that.)
** There's also Russian-produced Old Pepper's Crew, with almost copycat design of logo. [[http://old-peppers-crew.com It has a website (in Russian]], which strongly enforces similarities.
* Drayton Manor Theme Park in England has several knock-offs of Disneyland rides for people who can't afford to go to Disneyland Paris.