Whole Costume Reference


Often a character in a work dresses in an outfit practically identical to an outfit worn by another character or Real Life person, as a kind of Cosplay on the character's part, and a Shout-Out on the part of the costumer, designer, and/or artist.

The Whole Costume Reference is when you take the cosplay part out. The character is just wearing that outfit. There is no indication or clue within the work that this character is dressing as that other person. Also:
  • There's no fan convention.
  • It's not Halloween.
  • It's not a costume party.
  • No one mentions what the costume is based on.
  • It is not part of becoming a Legacy Character.

This can include live action works, when the costume actually is the costume worn in an earlier work, as a form of Prop Recycling. Many low budget works do this. But again, there has to be no mention or clue of the work it was reused from.

Compare Historical-Domain Character, Serial Numbers Filed Off, Whole Plot Reference, Clothing Switch, Cosplay Fan Art.

Contrast Dresses the Same (in that wearing the same outfit is seen as bad).


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fic 


  • Discworld
    • In Maskerade, the Discworld parody of The Phantom of the Opera, Death himself is wearing Erik's Masque Of The Red Death outfit, with the only explanation being I do like to get into the spirit of the thing.
    • Paul Kidby's sketch of Queen Magrat's complicated dress from Lords and Ladies looks exactly like the dress worn by Elizabeth I in the Darnley portrait.

    Live Action TV 
  • Land of the Giants had an episode where one of the girls ends up in the skating dress from the beginning of Snow White and the Three Stooges.
  • It was said the reason Klinger stopped crossdressing on M*A*S*H was that he had worn just about every dress in the studio wardrobe stock that would fit him. So inevitably many of the dresses would be this trope.
  • In the Firefly episode "The Train Job," the Alliance soldiers are dressed in costumes recycled from Starship Troopers. (To save money.) Similarly, the soldiers' suits were also used in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Those costumes show up everywhere. It's a testament to how sturdy the suits actually are. They were used in at least two TV shows and were eventually re-sold back to the production of the sequels.
  • When Tony daydreams about Kate in NCIS, she's wearing Gogo's school uniform from Kill Bill. This is entirely appropriate for film buff and Handsome Lech Tony.
  • All the time on The Amazing Race with locals and Pit Stop Greeters.
  • In the "Fashion is Danger" music video from Flight of the Conchords, Bret and Jemaine are dressed as EarthForce and Excalibur officers. No word on if this is a case of Prop Recycling or not.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Robot", Harry Sullivan dresses in the same outfit used by Steed in The Avengers.
    • In "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", the Doctor dresses like Sherlock Holmes. Leela, not to be outdone, dresses at first as Tinker (the Kid Sidekick of British pulp hero Sexton Blake) and later more femininely as Eliza Doolitle.
    • Thanks to heavy Prop Recycling, the two most stylish ladies in British 70s sci-fi television - the first Romana from Doctor Who and Servalan from Blake's 7 - appear to share a wardrobe. The two most notably shared outfits are the purple military jacket suit and the white dress with the feathers.
  • Tales from the Crypt: The episode "You, Murderer" famously "starred" the late (digitally inserted) Humphrey Bogart. The costar was Isabella Rosellini in a costume just like the one her mother, Ingrid Bergman, wore opposite Bogart in Casablanca.
  • Vera has Vera casually wearing an outfit very similar to the Fourth Doctor's from Doctor Who.
  • Arrow has Cyrus Gold, who seems to be a mixture of the monster and Jason, along with Deathstroke, who just seems straight Jason.
  • The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Magical Place" has Skye dress up like fellow agent and Living Legend Melinda May in order to extract some info from a person of interest. Later, May takes notice:
    May: (smirking) Nice jacket.
  • When infiltrating the 80s high school in Danger 5 Season 2, Ilsa wears Asuka's school uniform from Neon Genesis Evangelion.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Some of ACH's warmup and entrance gear sets are dead ringers for manga or video game characters, usually One Piece or Dragon Ball. Whether or not the connection is mentioned depends on the promotion, it usually being ignored in Ring of Honor, for example.


    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • This happens all the time in Erfworld, due to the hundreds of pop-culture references the characters make unconsciously. Significant ones include Ansom fighting while dressed as Evel Knievel, Jillian dressing as Sandy from Grease while Vinny and his group dress as West Side Story thugs, several of Wanda's costumes referencing horror movies, and Jack veiling himself as Kain from Final Fantasy IV. In addition, this is a game mechanic that gives them more bonuses.
  • Gunshow: The designs of the Suicide Club are a whole costume reference to the main cast of The Young Ones.
  • From Homestuck, Rufioh is a whole character reference to Rufio from Hook and Dante Basco, in reference to Dante reading through Homestuck on tumblr and becoming a fan. Therefore, Rufioh's outfit is pretty much identical to Rufio's aside from the obvious species differences.
  • The man in this & a few following cartoons of The KAMics isn't a Mountie, he just likes dressing as one.
  • Zoe in Sluggy Freelance steels her nerves to join the boys' adventure, dressed as Lara Croft. (Is it possible the other costume changes in the Stormbringer arc were this trope?)

    Web Original 

    Western Animation