Uncanny Family Resemblance
"Is there a Tannen in
Family members tend to look like each other. Normally, this follows bloodline - you tend to look a lot more like your parents than you do your second cousin, for example. Generally, only identical twins can pass for each other, and even then developmental influences can make noticeable differences.
Media, on the other hand, are a little loose with the rules. Especially when it gives the chance to put an actor into a totally new role, or reuse a character design. You see the reuse version in animation from both the East and West because it is pretty easy to just slap a wig on the guy and call him a new person.
While the Identical Grandson
can marginally argue that it is not unknown for direct descendants to bear uncanny resemblance to a forebear, the idea gets very
shaky for other relations. When a show tries to pass off a male actor in drag as their visiting aunt, or when somehow a character resembles the man who adopted
their great-great-grandfather, it gets flat out weird and hence is usually played up for comedic value. There is a bit of a sub-genre films that rely on this gag. Eddie Murphy has done a number of them.
See also: Acting for Two
, or with You ALL Look Familiar
, which is more of an Enforced Trope
. Compare Strong Family Resemblance
, where both relatives are parent and child.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts: Minami's little sister, Hazuki, looks like a miniature version of her.
- In Bakuman。, Moritaka looks very similar to a younger version of his uncle.
- Rukia is nearly identical to her older sister Hisana Kuchiki, right down to favoring the same hairstyles. This stands out because Hisana abandoned Rukia as an infant and then died before the pair could ever be reunited. The uncanny resemblance is lampshaded in the manga itself when it's revealed Byakuya's original lie for adopting Rukia was her resemblance to his dead wife.
- Ichigo's striking resemblance to Kaien Shiba is noted by Rukia, Ukitake, and Byakuya—who points out that it's ridiculous to get sentimental over because the two are not related. Byakuya is wrong. Ichigo's father, Isshin Shiba, was Kaien's uncle, so Ichigo and Kaien are first cousins.
- In Naruto, Gaara's mother Karura and her younger brother Yashamaru have essentially the same face and hair. They look alike so much that they were mistaken for Half-Identical Twins by fandom.
- In Fairy Tail, Hoteye, the man with the polygonal face, mentions he had a missing younger brother, who is later revealed to be the even more polygonal Wally from a previous arc.
- In Fruits Basket, Ayame and his brother Yuki have been mistaken for each other [by a minor character]. A picture of Ayame when he was in high school seems to just be a palette-swapped Yuki with longer hair.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, there's an example that gets into the flat out weird category (and isn't played for laughs). Xanxus, who isn't actually supposed to be blood related to the Ninth is almost a clone of the Second Vongola Boss. Lampshaded by other characters here. As they say, his temperament, abilities, and even looks are the same. Makes you wonder if he really isn't the Ninth's love child...
- The 2008 special of Dragon Ball Z reveals that Vegeta has a younger brother who looks like a much younger version of him.
- Subaru from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS looks almost exactly like her adopted sister Nove, who was also cloned from Quint, with only her hair color being different, to the point where someone she has only just met immediately guesses that they're related.
- The Tomokane siblings in GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class do not only look alike— Nodamiki one said the older Tomokane as a "bleached Tomokane-kun" in episode 12◊— but both were voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, hence upgrading from Strong Family Resemblance to this. Even so, they are also quite different...
- All of the Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys are identical to each other in Pokťmon. The only way you can distinguish them is by the symbol on their hats. The Black & White series introduced the Don Georges, who are likewise best identified by the trim on their clothes.
- Brock/Takeshi, his father, and his siblings. Some of them have their mother's skin tone or hair color/texture, though.
- The two Nitori siblings from Wandering Son look almost exactly like each other, especially when Shuuichi grew her hair into a bob like her sister. At several points once Shu grows her hair out, you can mistake her for her sister (or the other way around). Shu's boyish body has started to look different from her sister's due to puberty though, she's taller than her and more square.
- The Pretty Cure franchise has a few sibling characters who look like their Cure siblings:
- In Yes! Pretty Cure 5, Komachi and her older sister Madoka look nearly identical (to the extent that, when several characters meet Madoka for the first time, they mistake her for Komachi). Their mother has never appeared, so whether she looks the same as well is unknown.
- In Heartcatch Precure, Tsubomi gets her baby sister Futaba in the final episode who looks like a baby version of her big sister.
- An odd case in Doki Doki Pretty Cure. The princess Marie-Ange splitted her heart in two, which became Aguri and Regina, respectively, and her body became Ai-chan who looks like a baby version of her. Aguri and Regina have nearly identical hair, especially when Aguri's bangs are down, just with different hair colors. Regina and Ai-chan have blue eyes like Marie-Angu, but Regina's eyes can turn red and Aguri is the one with red eyes.
- In Soul Eater, the resemblance between Asura and Death the Kid is probably down to them being the 'sons' of Shinigami. While their father doesn't look human, he apparently used the same 'human' appearance twice over for his two 'fragments'.
- Yuki and Yumi from Maria-sama Ga Miteru look like genderswaps of each other. Due to the fact they're the same age fans commonly mistake them for Half-Identical Twins but they're not. Yumi and Yuki were only born in the same year.
- Tsubasa Ohzora and his 14-years younger brother Daiichi in Captain Tsubasa.
- In One Piece, Luffy and Ace look remarkably alike and even have the same mannerisms (though Ace is politer) despite being adoptive brothers. Though it is implied that they are related distantly due to both having the "D" initial in their names. Luffy's appearance is also similar to that of his grandfather Garp, who is basically an older, brawny version of Luffy with graying hair and a beard.
- Yui and Ui Hirasawa from K-On! aren't twins (Yui is older) but for some reason are very similar in appearance. This has helped at least twice in the series: the first time when Ui attempts a Twin Switch with her sick sister and the second time when Yui basically uses Ui as a living 3D mirror to test out looks for her yearbook photo.
- Haru and Yuuzan have this in My Little Monster. It's easy to identify them as brothers, but it's also easy to tell them apart.
- Inverted: Spider-Man and his clone Ben Reilly pretended to be cousins with an uncanny resemblance. Peter's wife Mary Jane came up with the explanation for their resemblance, specifically referring to The Patty Duke Show.
- Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Batman lore are identical cousins.
- Zippy The Pinhead, his wife Zerbina, kids, Evil Twin Lippy, and other members of his extended family are all microcephalics who wear muu-muus.
- There was a Superman-related mini-series in the 90s called The Kents, which examined the lives of the ancestors of the Kent family. One story showed how one of Jonathan Kent's ancestors, Nathaniel Kent, was a pioneer who was largely responsible for turning the state of Kansas into the breadbasket it is today. A fine story, but the artist bizarrely chose to make Nathaniel Kent be a dead ringer for Superman, even though Superman has no blood relation to the Kent family (or any human being) whatsoever. Being, you know, an alien and all. Partially justified as the frame for this story is Clark reading the Kent family's memoirs, so it could all be in his mind — and then later stories (mostly involving time travel) established Nathaniel really did look like that. More justifiably, Nathanial's father Silas looks a lot like Pa Kent with a moustache.
- In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, most adult members of the Duck and McDuck families are basically Donald with accessories (beards, hairdos, bows ect.). The same can be observed when you compare Huey, Dewey and Louie with all other Duck and McDuck kids.
- Goofy has a huge extended family. Just about every single family member, male and female, looks almost exactly like him, only with one or two minor visual details to set them apart.
- Agent 13: Sharon Carter, erstwhile girlfriend to Captain America, strongly resembles her aunt (World War II resistance fighter and Cap's wartime girlfriend) Peggy, though the two were originally written as sisters before being retconned into being niece/aunt.
- Quicksilver and his nephew, Speed.
- Tangled Up In Blues: Due to a "magical condition", foals in one generation in Taffy's family happen to be identical. It's a humorous justification for the abundance of duplicate background ponies in the original My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Also used to justify Blues' name (canonically, it's "Noteworthy", according to the toys); Noteworthy is merely somepony who happens to look just like him.
- One of the greatest and most successful examples of this trope is the black and white comedy film Kind Hearts and Coronets; Alec Guiness plays all 8 members of the D'Ascoyne family. The same film also includes another less dramatic example: Dennis Price, who plays the protagonist, also plays the protagonist's father in a couple of flashbacks.
- The Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor, where Murphy plays every member of the title character's family. Though at least in this case he's wearing fat suits to disguise pretty much all his features for the different roles.
- This aspect of the movie has become the default parody for cheesy comedians who specialise in broad humour. In 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan is the star of The Chunks, and Tropic Thunder features a fake trailer for The Fatties 2, starring Jack Black's character.
- In the Back to the Future movies, Michael J. Fox played not only hero Marty McFly, but Marty's two future children (Marty Jr. and Marlene), and his great-great-grandfather Seamus from Ireland. He also posed as Marty's great-grandfather William in a photograph. And Lea Thompson played both his mother Lorraine and his paternal great-great-grandmother Maggie. The producers have since joked that McFly men are just genetically predisposed to be attracted to women who look like Lea Thompson.
- Biff Tannen, his great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, and grandson from the 2015 part of the second, Griff Tannen, are all played by Thomas F. Wilson. This is taken Up to Eleven in the animated series, where every time they visit has an identical ancestor or descendant of Biff, always voiced by Wilson.
- Strange Brew briefly does this half-way through the movie. Dave Thomas didn't just play Doug, but his father (with Mel Blanc dubbing over his voice), and Rick Moranis didn't just play Bob, but his mother (with a woman dubbing over his voice)!
- A variation appears in The Mouse That Roared. In the opening sequence, we're introduced to the Grand Duchess, Prime Minister, and Tully Bascombe, all played by Peter Sellers. The narration explains that these disparate residents of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick look like each other because they are all descendants of the country's founder, who was literally the father of his country (the statue we see of him is clearly a likeness of Sellers).
- The Prisoner of Zenda
- In the sex comedy Live Nude Shakespeare, the same actress plays two identical sisters, one a sophisticated socialite, the other a backwoods bumpkin.
- After playing Dante Hicks in Clerks, Brian O'Halloran also played characters with the surname Hicks in Mallrats and Dogma. It's not explicitly stated that they're related, though, so the Continuity Nod might just be a way to Hand Wave the uncanny resemblance.
- In most of Tyler Perry's movies, Perry dresses in drag to play Madea, Madea's brother (not in drag but with a lot of makeup and a wig) and another character (no makeup), who is usually related to Madea.
- In the 1950s St Trinians movies, Alastair Sim played both the school's headmistress, Miss Fritton, and her disreputable brother. Rupert Everett did the same in the 2007 ReBoot.
- Tia and Tamera Mowry as Sydney Donovan and Sydney's grandmother de-aged to seventeen in the Disney Channel movie 17 Again.
- Jim Dale as Eli, Wild Billy, AND Jasper Bloodshy in Hot Lead And Cold Feet.
- Adam Sandler plays both Jack and his twin sister Jill in Jack and Jill.
- In Austin Powers, while they don't look too similar because of all the makeup, the same actor plays two characters who are revealed as long-lost brothers in the third movie. It's Mike Myers as Austin and Dr. Evil.
- In the movie adaptation of Fred Vargas' novel Wash This Blood Clean From My Hands, both Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his younger brother RaphaŽl are played by Jean-Hugues Anglade, which is especially noticeable in the scenes where they talk together as they have the same voice. This is perfectly intentional, as Retancourt makes use of the resemblance between the two in order to help Jean-Baptiste escape from the Canadian cops.
- In the 1954 UK film Mad About Men Glynis Johns portrays both the free-spirited mermaid (returning from 1948's Miranda) and stuffy schoolteacher Caroline. The characters shared a great-grandfather.
- In "Coffee And Cigarettes", Cate Blanchett plays herself and her cousin Shelly in a segment called Cousins.
- In Peanuts Linus and his little brother Rerun look almost exactly the same. The only way they can be told apart is height, hair (Rerun's is a bit flatter) or outfit (Linus wears red and black stripes while Rerun wears overalls).
- Elmo from Sesame Street has various cousins who've appeared on occasion, who are all based on the Elmo puppet with different accessories.
- Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster also have some identical relatives. Though in this case, it may have to do more with their species rather than bloodline.
- Da Niao on Zhima Jie (Chinese Sesame Street) is Big Bird's identical cousin. Other characters in international Sesame Street productions have been identical to American characters or said to be their relatives, but not both at the same time.
- Similarly Emily "Ma" Bear in The Muppet Show, A Muppet Family Christmas and (as Mrs Fozziewig) The Muppet Christmas Carol is identical to her son Fozzie except for a dress, grey hair and glasses.
- In what is part this trope and part Strong Family Resemblance, in Back to the Future: The Video Game, Marty runs into his grandfather, Artie McFly, who looks and sounds just like George McFly (both being based on Crispin Glover's performance in the film). Artie's father, William, is once again played by Michael J. Fox, who had previously portrayed him in a photo shown in the third film (even though Marty himself is actually voiced by AJ LoCascio). This leads one to believe that if the pattern continues, since Marty's son will end up looking like Michael J. Fox, his grandson and great-grandson will look like Crispin Glover, and so on. Also, Kid Tannen is basically just Biff with a moustache and zoot suit.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II, textual implications suggest Echani genetic variation in terms of appearance is very small, with siblings all looking like identical twins and almost identical to their same-sex parent. It was all a cheap way of explaining why they used the same model for all of Atris' Handmaidens while still having them be siblings, despite having an explicit note the one that joins you looks different due to being their half-sibling and yet still looks the same. When the Exile inquires about this the Handmaiden is genuinely surprised that you've noticed, since outsiders typically don't. To Echani on the other hand, her illegitimacy is obvious.
- In Suikoden V, Dragon Cavalry commander Rahal and his Cloud Cuckoolander sister Rania look virtually identical, to the point that they'd fall under Half-Identical Twins if not for Rania being a year older. Not immediately obvious for most of the game, due to Rahal wearing battle armor and Rania being in civilian dress, but when the plot calls for Rahal to dress as a woman the only visible difference from his sister is that she wears glasses and he doesn't. Apparently they have a history of exploiting this for pranks.
- In an example that would make Nurse Joy proud, recurring Fire Emblem series character Anna is finally promoted to a playable character in Fire Emblem Awakening... but she also runs the Outrealm Gate and appears as a traveling merchant in the same game. As it turns out, there are more than half a dozen "Annas", and they're all sisters. Since the Outrealm Gate is described as a portal to other worlds, this could also explain how she manages to show up in so many otherwise separate worlds across the series...
- Every single foreign character in The Frollo Show. Whether they be Arabic, German, Russian, Mexican, or any other nationality, the only thing that distinguishes a foreign character from their main character cousin is the hat they wear.
- Played for Drama with Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender . She wasone of septuplets, and she ran away from home to avoid becoming part of a "matching set".
- On All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series, we're introduced to Annabelle's evil cousin Belladonna, who may as well be Annabelle's Evil Twin — they look exactly alike, with the only real difference being the color of their fur (and the fact that Belladonna has bat wings, due to being a devil).
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series took this to ridiculous levels by having a Tannen in every timeline they go to, no matter what country. Taken Up to Eleven when they even encounter a T-rex Tannen in a timeline where the dinosaurs weren't wiped out.
- In South Park, pretty much everyone in the extended Cartman family is overweight and has his same annoying tendencies (whining, eating too much, etc.) The only exceptions seem to be Cartman's mother and a young girl who resembles her.
- Chum Chum's cousin Muhc Muhc in Fanboy and Chum Chum.
- In Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster, Daphne's Scottish cousin Shannon looks just like her, only with short hair and a tartan skirt, and is voiced by the same actress doing a Scottish accent.
- In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the Neutrons have a family reunion where everyone looks like Hugh (except for one who's a caricature of creator John A. Davis).
- Both Tom and Jerry have identical cousins-Jerry has the super-strong Muscles ("Jerry's Cousin"), while Tom has his cowardly (and mouse-phobic) cousin George ("Timid Tabby"). Naturally, mistaken identity gags abound in both cartoons.
- A common Fan Fic trope in crossovers is to have a two different characters in different continuities played by the same actors 'turn out' to be related to each other. There is one where James Bond (Connery version) is the illegitimate son of Henry Jones Jr and thus the grandson of Henry Jones Snr... who was played by Sean Connery.
- There is also one used in fan fiction with MacGyver (of MacGyver) and Colonel Jack O'Neill (of Stargate SG-1), both played by Richard Dean Anderson, being cousins.
- Although they were only cousin, King George V of England and the Czar Nicolas II looked like twins. See for yourself.◊ George has blue eyes but that probably won't be much help.
- And George's grandson Prince Michael of Kent, who's still around today, has the same uncanny resemblance to the Tsar, to the extent that he's very popular among royalists in Russia. It helps that he grew the Russian-style beard to hide a scar, and that he's named after Nicholas II's younger brother.
- In Big Finish Doctor Who's audio dramas, India Fisher plays Eighth and Sixth Doctor companion Charley Pollard. Fisher also voiced Charley's sister Cissy in the Gallifrey spin-off series.
- Outside of their trademark costumes, Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo Marx bore an incredible resemblance to each other. They would even occasionally play each other's parts in their stage shows with no one the wiser. This is part of why the much-loved Mirror Routine was so successful; in the same outfit, Groucho and Harpo are practically identical.
- This ended in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome — on the game show I've Got A Secret, Harpo once appeared as the contestant, with his brother Groucho as one of the panelists. Nobody, Groucho included, could guess Harpo's secret. note
- Actors Alan Hale (Senior) and Alan Hale (Junior). One played Little John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, the other is famed as the Skipper on Gilligan's Island. Without looking at the date of their films there is no way to tell them apart.
- Back in The Nineties, a running joke was that the public appearances of Michael Jackson were actually his sister LaToya Jackson.
- In the Bouguereau painting Charity, it is not possible to tell which baby is Yeshua and which one is Yochanan, since he painted them to look identical, even though they are cousins and 6 months apart. In most other paintings of them, he not only makes the age difference apparent, but has them wear different colored clothing and have different colored hair.
- An old story goes that when a Roman emperor was touring their conquered area in Jerusalem his guards noticed a local man who bore a striking resemblance to the emperor. As a joke they brought them together. The emperor thought this was funny and asked the man "Has your mother ever been to Rome?" The man replied "No, but my father has."
- The original version of this joke was supposedly told about Julius Caesar in Gaul (modern day France) seeing a man who looked very similar to himself before continuing in exactly the same way.