Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Spiritual Successor: F Ilm
  • The Kid 'n Play movie Class Act is really just House Party without the house party, with most of the movie taking place in school instead.
  • Street Kings to Training Day. In fact, if you just alter the final 20 minutes of Training Day, it would be a direct sequel.
  • Colombiana to The Professional
  • Parker Lewis Cant Lose is seen as the Spiritual Successor to the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off; aside from the obvious grammatical parallels in the titles, both feature the same type of protagonist. In fact, it captured the feel and spirit of the movie much better than the mercifully short-lived series which was the official TV follow-up to the movie.
  • The Wonder Years is reasonably seen as a Spiritual Successor to the movie Stand by Me, both coming-of-age tales about boys on the cusp of adolescence, with voice-overs by the adult versions of the protagonists.
    • It's also seen as a successor to A Christmas Story.
    • And don't forget Boy Meets World which stars Ben Savage, the younger brother of Fred Savage, who was the main character in The Wonder Years, though without the voice overs but similar concept.
    • Everybody Hates Chris could be seen as the African-American version of The Wonder Years.
    • Don't forget The Sandlot, either.
  • Happy Days is the Spiritual Successor to American Graffiti.
  • To Live and Die in LA is this to The French Connection. Most notably, both films have the same director, feature lengthy car chases and have protagonists determined to take the villain down no matter the cost.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has been considered by some by some reviewers as a spiritual successor to Forrest Gump. The films share a screenwriter.
  • The 2007 movie Knocked Up is considered by many to be a spiritual sequel to The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It was originally intended to be a direct sequel.
    • And now a direct sequel of sorts to Knocked Up is This Is 40
  • 1997's Fierce Creatures featured the same core cast and much of the same crew as 1988's A Fish Called Wanda, and includes at least one explicit Shout-Out to the earlier film, although they are in no way connected to each other.
    • The actors also play more-or-less similar characters, with Kevin Kline as a dimwitted egomaniac, Jamie Lee Curtis as seductive and manipulative, John Cleese as a stuffy square, and Michael Palin as a weird guy.
  • Labyrinth is a spiritual sequel to The Dark Crystal, in so far as both films feature the puppeteering of the Jim Henson corps, scenarios co-authored by Henson himself, and production design by Brian Froud. George Lucas was also reportedly involved in the making of both films, though only credited in Labyrinth.
    • Mirrormask was designed to be the Spiritual Successor to both (but mainly Labyrinth). The original plan was to get David Bowie to play the Prime Minister of the White City, but scheduling conflicts forced them to just have Rob Brydon play the PM and Helena's father.
    • All three films have been released as a single DVD set called the "Jim Henson fantasy film collection" (which was, incidentally, a ploy to move unsold copies of the original Dark Crystal and Labyrinth DVDs after the deluxe versions came out).
  • The Dee Wallace Stone comedy Invisible Mom had both a Spiritual Successor, Invisible Dad, and an official sequel, Invisible Mom 2.
  • Hot Fuzz is the Spiritual Successor to Shaun of the Dead. It stars several of the same actors and making a number of references to the zombie comedy. Shaun is in turn the successor of Britcom Spaced; the characters from Spaced who do not star all appear either in the other group of zombie fighters Shaun and his friends encounter, or in crowd scenes. Also many of the running jokes between Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead (e.g. 'We're not gay - thanks babe.' and Cornettos) originally come from Spaced. The World's End is the third part of Pegg and Wright's Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy. All three feature a mention of Cornetto ice cream.
  • Scream (1996) can be considered the spiritual successor of the obscure '80s slasher film Return to Horror High. Not only does the killer in both movies have a black cloak and a white featureless mask, but RTHH was very post-modern for a film of its age: it is about a director making a horror movie about a series of unsolved murders happened in a high school, set in that same school, where the actors playing the parts of the students are getting murdered in "real life"; there's the conflict between the scriptwriter of the film and the director who only wants tits & blood, and the actresses that complain of being used only as fanservice...
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is the Spiritual Successor to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (and indeed was described by Ferrell as the third of his "unreasonably confident people" series).
  • Corpse Bride was hotly anticipated by fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas. In fact, with his distinctive style and usual repertory cast, you could consider the entire Tim Burton oeuvre outside the more science fiction stuff one big de facto franchise.
  • Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley, was highly touted and received a couple of Oscar nods. The two got together for Atonement, a serious attempt at the awards.
  • Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans, and Disaster Movie (the only real link being their directors, their inability to actually parody the genre they claim, and their total lack of quality), though this dubious quartet probably couldn't come across as more contrived and crass by being a series of actual sequels.
  • David Lynch's latest and supposedly last movie, Inland Empire, is very much a Spiritual Successor to Mulholland Dr., itself a Spiritual Successor to Lost Highway.
  • Ishtar was intended to be a Spiritual Successor to the Road to ... series, but failed.
    • The animated The Road to El Dorado, on the other hand succeeded admirably.
    • Spies Like Us was, during production, described as a Road movie, and even features Bob Hope in a cameo ... hitting a golf ball into the same tent as the characters in the middle of Afghanistan.
    • And, of course, the "Road to..." episodes of Family Guy take this to the level of straight-up Homage.
  • The western comedies Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter were made by more-or-less the same production crew and cast, and share much in terms of theme and tone, but the second is not a sequel to the first, and no characters reappear.
  • From Beyond shares Re-Animator's over-the-top approach to Lovecraftian source material, as well as a significant chunk of the cast and crew. Both star Jeffrey Combs as a Mad Scientist (borderline) Villain Protagonist.
  • Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration are all spiritual successors to Waiting for Guffman, which in itself was a Spiritual Successor to This Is Spinal Tap.
  • A lot of Jackie Chan movies can be considered spiritual successors of each other, especially his earlier works. You could argue this extends at least some extent to other martial arts movie starts like Bruce Lee and Jet Li.
  • 1997's L.A. Confidential, despite being made by a totally different cast and crew, is considered by many fans to be the Spiritual Successor to 1974's Chinatown, as both are set in Los Angeles, both were made 40 years after the time period in which they are set, and both feature themes of betrayal, corruption of public institutions and officials, and "neo-noir" values. Oh, and both have scores by Jerry Goldsmith.
  • There is some discussion over whether Confidence is a Spiritual Successor or an updated remake of The Sting. Both feature a team of small-time conmen accidentally ripping off an underling of a crime boss and getting out of it by pulling a much larger and more elaborate con on him.
  • Similar to the Knocked Up example, Pineapple Express is a Spiritual Successor to Superbad. Both being written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, produced by Judd Apatow and Shauna Robertson, and distributed by Columbia pictures. In fact, Pineapple Express was greenlit based off of the early positive reaction to Superbad footage.
  • War, Inc. is the spiritual successor to Grosse Pointe Blank. They both feature John Cusack as a hitman having doubts about his career choice with Joan Cusack as his assistant and Dan Aykroyd in a supporting role.
    • Grosse Pointe Blank itself is a spiritual successor to Say Anything - although there are some important differences in the backstory, Martin Blank feels in many ways like an alternate history version of Lloyd Dobler 10 years later, with the point of departure being when he joins the army out of high school instead of hooking up with the girl. They're both played by John Cusack (and they both kickbox).
  • Definitely, Maybe is the spiritual successor to Love Actually.
  • Richard Linklater's Waking Life is at least a visual companion to A Scanner Darkly.
    • Though it is a spiritual successor to Linklater's 1990 film, Slacker.
  • Starship Troopers is a spiritual successor to RoboCop (1987). Released ten years apart from each other, both are directed by Paul Verhoeven, share similar themes and are structured around mock broadcasts of news and information.
  • The 2003 live action film version of The Cat in the Hat was Imagine Entertainment's attempt to duplicate the success of their popular take on another Dr. Seuss book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, down to the casting of comic star Mike Myers as the Cat as its equivalent to Jim Carrey's Grinch.
  • The films The Snapper and The Van were spiritual successors to The Commitments. They all revolve around a Dublin family with a father played by Colm Meaney and all are based on Roddy Doyle novels. (The novels themselves were actual successors, but due to copyright issues, the name of the family in each of the films was changed).
    • In The Commitments Outspan ended up as a busker on the streets of Dublin. Twenty years later the same actor, Glen Hansard, starred in Once which opened with his character ...busking on the streets of Dublin. Bonus points due to his character in Once being unnamed.
  • Casino is a spiritual successor to Goodfellas. Both are gangster movies directed by Martin Scorsese that span several decades, both are based on nonfiction books by Nicholas Pileggi, both star Robert De Niro with Joe Pesci as a sociopathic madman, both rely heavily on narration (occasionally not from the main protagonist), and both chart the rise and fall of eras in the criminal underworld.
    • Goodfellas is itself a spiritual successor to Scorsese's earlier film Mean Streets. According to the director, each film represents a step up in the mob hierarchy, starting with neighborhood punks and ending with the true power brokers at the top as in Casino.
  • Screenwriter Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese have essentially noted that The Wolf of Wall Street does for white-collar crime what Goodfellas and Casino do for organized crime.
  • In South Korea, the film Windstruck is considered to be the spiritual successor to the wildly popular romantic comedy My Sassy Girl. Both were written and directed by Kwak Jae-Yong and starred Jeon Ji-Hyun. Of course, Windstruck should almost be considered a spiritual prequel, as its end is a painfully obvious allusion to its predecessor, with two future lovers meeting at a train station.
  • You've Got Mail is the spiritual successor to Sleepless In Seattle.
  • A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good The Bad And The Ugly are all considered a part of the same trilogy because they are made by the same guy and star the same actor in the same costume. However, it's never explicitly stated that they take place in the same universe.
    • Similarly, because they all feature a protagonist who is nameless, are all Westerns, and all star Clint Eastwood, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider are sometimes seen as ... somehow ... part of the same Weird West world as the spaghetti Westerns. High Plains Drifter in particular was directed by Eastwood in a direct homage to Leone's work.
    • Clint Eastwood has stated that Unforgiven is a spiritual sequel to the Fistful of Dollars trilogy, as it was deliberately written to deconstruct his earlier works. Some accounts say that he's gone so far as to say its direct sequel.
  • Runaway Bride is the spiritual successor to Pretty Woman (shared lead couple).
  • Foxy Brown was the successor to Coffy. It was originally meant to be a sequel titled Burn, Coffy, Burn, but the producers changed it at the last minute.
  • Tim Burton's version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street could be the spiritual successor to Sleepy Hollow - When Johnny Depp's character brings his gorgeous blonde wife back to the city things go horribly wrong, and then they get worse.
  • E Xisten Z is essentially Videodrome for the new millennium.
  • It could be said that 2012 is the Spiritual Successor to The Day After Tomorrow.
  • Both Babel and 21 Grams which were directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu are considered the spiritual sequels of the Mexican film Amores Perros (also directed by him).
    • The three films also share a screenwriter. The director and screenwriter consider the three films a trilogy.
  • Mexican director Luis Estrada has made a series of satirical films depicting the country's ailments, starting with La Ley de Herodes depicting the political corruption, continuing with Un Mundo Maravilloso portraying the poverty of the people and finishing the trilogy with the upcoming Infierno that will deal with the violence of the drug cartels. All of them cast the actor Dami án Alc ázar (aka:Lord Sopespian) as the lead.
  • A sequel was planned for Blade Runner, and after the script was rewritten and handed down through several different creative teams, it eventually reached the screen as Total Recall (1990). The same process led from Total Recall (1990) to Minority Report.
    • Not surprising since all three movies are based on works by Philip K. Dick.
    • Another attempt at a Blade Runner sequel (written by David Peoples, co-writer of Blade Runner) became the blueprint for the Kurt Russell film Soldier.
  • Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is regarded as the spiritual successor to the Creepshow series (while ironically, Creepshow 3 is disavowed by fans as an In Name Only work). After all, it's a macabre horror anthology with writing by Stephen King and George Romero, and work by Tom Savini (who in fact went on record as saying that Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is the "real" Creepshow 3), and was originally going to be the third Creepshow installment until producers decided to cash in on the Tales from the Darkside name.
  • The film Revolutionary Road is an interesting subversion of Spiritual Successor status. It's set in America, it starred Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet (as husband in wife) in their first film together after they'd co-starred in Titanic. Some people initially thought it therefore as Titanic's spiritual successor. The storyline, however, is, if anything, entirely the opposite of Titanic and only gets worse from there. Plus, it's based on a completely unrelated novel.
  • Erik the Viking succeeds marvelously as a Spiritual Successor to the Monty Python films, even if it wasn't intended to.
  • Many elements that make up the movie Hot Tub Time Machine are evocative of many 80s movies; particularly the themes of Back to the Future (which also starred Crispin Glover) and the ski resort setting from Better Off Dead (which also starred John Cusack).
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum is the Spiritual Successor to Doctor X; both are horror films shot in two-strip Technicolor, directed by Michael Curtiz, and with a number of the same crew members and actors (including Fay Wray). Wax Museum is actually more like Doctor X than is the latter's official sequel, which was based on an unrelated short story and shot only in black and white.
  • Adventureland carries all the hallmarks you'd expect if they made a Freaks and Geeks movie.
    • This one is more of a spiritual successor to Garden State than anything, as they feature very similar narratives, characters and settings (Pennsylvania borders New Jersey).
  • 15 years before G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra came along, the Van Damme Street Fighter movie was far more G.I. Joe than it was Street Fighter.
  • The Lion in Winter is a spiritual successor to the earlier film Becket in that they're both historical dramas starring Peter O'Toole as Henry II playing him as an old man in Lion and younger in Becket.
  • The Seven Ups is a spiritual successor to The French Connection in that it stars Roy Scheider as a New York detective similar to the one he played in the latter movie and had the same producer and composer and even had a car chase like the one in The French Connection.
  • The Cannonball Run is a spiritual successor to Smokey and the Bandit.
  • Right after directing The Outsiders Francis Ford Coppola made a movie based on another SE Hinton novel, Rumble Fish with many of the same cast and crew. The movie came out months after The Outsiders.
  • Super Mario Bros. can be seen as a Spiritual Successor of sorts to Blade Runner as its production designer, David Snyder, was one of Blade Runner's driving art directors. While the exact tone and story of the movie isn't the same the parallel world's appearance was still heavily driven under a "Blade Runner-sensibility".
    • Really, just about every movie made in the decade or so after Blade Runner combining science fiction and City Noir sensibilities has been invariably compared to that film.
  • Zathura to Jumanji, while the book was simply a sequel.
  • Carlitos Way to Scarface (1983). Both are about Latino crime bosses and have the same director (Brian De Palma) and star (Al Pacino).
  • Made starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau is a spiritual successor to their previous movie playing best friends, Swingers.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends is very much this to Laura. Both directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews as a disillusioned New York cop named Mark who falls in love with characters played by Gene Tierney. Mark Dixon in Where the Sidewalk Ends could easily be Mark McPherson from Laura, ten years later and now more jaded, cynical, and violent.
    • Preminger's Whirlpool was described by Jose Ferrer as "like a sequel to Laura — it had the same star, the same mood and atmosphere."
  • Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon made a handful of movies that were all spiritual successors to the original The Odd Couple film. The spiritual successors began with Grumpy Old Men and included Grumpier Old Men and Out To Sea...the actual sequel was largely considered a lesser effort than all of the above.
  • The box office disaster Torque was a spiritual successor to The Fast and the Furious, even having the same producer and featuring the crime and racing genres.
  • Zookeeper to Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
  • Red Sonja to Conan the Destroyer.
  • Paranormal Activity to The Blair Witch Project. Just replace the search for a legendary witch with a demon haunting a young couple and they pretty much are the same movie.
  • Darren Aronofsky has stated that Black Swan was a "companion piece" to his previous film The Wrestler. In a way, the former is the latter's foil: The Wrestler is about finding beauty in a brutal sport while Black Swan is all about the brutality of a beautiful artform.
  • The movie Tomboy can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to the My Life In Pink movie released 14 years earlier. They both center around transgender children (one about a Mt F 8 year old and the other around a possibly Ft M 10 year old), are French language, and have the "Just moved to a new town" premise.
  • Horrible Bosses to Office Space. Both feature three men getting revenge on a boss and have Jennifer Aniston in a supporting role.
  • The Hangover to Very Bad Things. The former features nearly the exact same premise as the latter, but Lighter and Softer (for one, a baby replaces the dead hooker in The Hangover).
  • Halloween (1978) is a Spiritual Successor to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Not only does Janet Leigh's daughter play the Final Girl, but the hero of the movie, Sam Loomis, has the same name as Marion's lover. Many stylistic choices are clearly influenced by Hitchock, like the simple Leitmotif theme music, and the camera work in Michael's first kill, where we never see knife penetrate flesh.
  • Jerry Lewis's comic style has been so influential in movies that many latter-day comedy film stars have been dubbed his successors. Pee-wee Herman, Jim Carrey, and Adam Sandler have all been explicitly compared to Lewis.
  • The plot points don't match up exactly, but 1999 Best Picture Academy Award winner American Beauty feels uncannily like a Darker and Edgier retelling of the 1955 Billy Wilder comedy The Seven Year Itch. Both feature as their protagonists disillusioned, frustrated middle-aged men, harassed by their wives and sick of their jobs, who develop a sexual fixation on a much younger woman (in the case of American Beauty, much, much younger); both men are prone to Imagine Spots, as well. What makes this theory tricky to refute is that one of the producers of American Beauty, while accepting his award, actually acknowledged Wilder as an influence; ostensibly he was probably referring to the "dead man" narration from Wilder's Sunset Boulevard that he recycled for his own film, but he just might have been thinking of The Seven Year Itch too.
    • Debatable, as the wife in The Seven Year Itch isn't portrayed as much of a harasser.
  • Black Sheep can be considered the spiritual successor of Tommy Boy, both starring Chris Farley and David Spade with very similar characteristics and antics.
  • The indie film Meek's Cutoff is an accidental film adaptation of The Oregon Trail series.
  • Strange Days is essentially an unofficial sequel to Brainstorm, showing the effect on society after the thought-recording technology invented in Brainstorm becomes mass-produced.
  • The 1980 musical film Xanadu is a spiritual successor to the 1944 movie Cover Girl. In Xanadu Gene Kelly plays an older version of Danny Mcguire (his character in Cover Girl). His character doesn't make any direct references to the story or characters in the older movie except for the mention of once owning a nightclub. Danny also remembers meeting Kira before somehow. Rita Hayworth's role in the older film doesn't really suggest any connectios to Kira or the muses. But In the 1947 film Down to Earth (the direct inspiration for Xanadu), Hayworth actually does play the muse "Terpsichore". And Down to Earth does make references to Cover Girl, however.
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks is Disney's spiritual successor to their adaptation of Mary Poppins, right down to sharing a lead actor (David Tomlinson).
  • Streets of Fire to The Warriors. Both are directed by Walter Hill, and while there's no other link between them, they definitely seem like they could take place in the same universe.
  • Coming to America is a spiritual successor to Trading Places. Both films were made by John Landis, feature Eddie Murphy, and both deal with issues of wealth and poverty. Coming to America even includes a cameo by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the still-poor Duke Brothers.
  • According to director Danny Boyle there's a sly connection between Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Keith Allen portrays a drug dealer in both films — with the intention that we think he may be the same character in both, as Trainspotting was suppose to take place in the late 1980s before the occurrences in Shallow Grave.
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) are unintentionally similar. Both are kids' movies about a boy who befriends a large, misunderstood reptilian creature, going against the whims of his family. And the characters have Scottish accents.
  • Looper is basically a remake of the 1994 sci-fi film Timecop, but with the camp replaced with being as ultra-stylish as possible.
  • The fact that child actress Patty McCormack went from playing an Enfant Terrible to an Evil Matriarch 40 years later is the reason why the low-budget thriller Mommy is considered the spiritual successor to The Bad Seed.
  • The Road can be seen as an unintentional spiritual successor to Road to Perdition as they share many similar themes (apart from the title involving "road" that can easily be confused). Both center around the relationship between a father and son who have nothing left but each other (in both cases he had a wife but she's dead) who through events beyond their control are forced to travel down a "road" both literally and metaphorically trying to survive whilst bringing up questions about morality- the father trying to be a good man doing what's best for his son, trying to find a place for themselves and running into problems on the way, including people who want to kill them. Even the endings are similar, as they both involve them coming to the end of their journey with the father dying but the boy seemingly going off to a better life (although how much better his life becomes in The Road is debatable, given the apocalyptic setting).
  • The Green Mile is a great film on its own, but it's also an interesting spiritual successor to The Shawshank Redemption (made by the same director). Both are period dramas inspired by Stephen King stories, but instead of going the usual route of looking at his horror stories, Frank Darabont instead looked to some of his unusual works- neither of which was part of the horror genre and one of which had no supernatural elements whatsoever. Both are period dramas set in American prisons during the 20th century dealing with themes of injustice (one involves a man being sentenced for a crime he didn't commit, the other involves a man who tries to comfort prisoners on death row... and then having to carry out their executions). It's also interesting to note the point of view changes between them- Shawshank is told from the point of view of a prisoner, Green Mile is from the perspective of a guard, both of whom are subjected to injustices and try to make the best of their situations with help from a few friends.
  • The 2004 film Crash to the 1991 film Grand Canyon. Both movies feature the interconnected lives of and then tensions between people of different races and classes in Los Angeles.
  • The miniseries From the Earth to the Moon is the spiritual successor to Apollo 13, as an in-depth look at the Apollo program from the late '60s and early '70s. Both were produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, with Tom Hanks onboard, only in the capacity of narrator (except in the last episode). Apollo 13 is itself a spiritual successor to The Right Stuff.
  • Seeing how the subject matter of an ambitious but flawed man struggling with his inner demons and addiction are similar, Flight could very well be a higher-budgeted and more graphic update of The Lost Weekend.
  • It's Always Fair Weather is a spiritual successor to MGM's film version of On the Town, both being written by Comden And Green, co-directed by Stanley Donen and starring Gene Kelly as one of three military buddies.
  • Despite being based on a book series that was previously adapted as Point Blank and Payback, Parker could be seen as an ultra-violent remake of the Audrey Hepburn film How To Steal A Million as the two films share similar elements of a heist of priceless artifacts, the pairing of a gentleman thief with a female accomplice and stylish locales as their backdrops (Paris in How To Steal a Million, West Palm Beach in Parker).
  • Mean Girls is a Lighter and Softer spiritual successor to the cult Black Comedy Heathers.
  • PCU is the spiritual successor to Animal House.
  • The Place Beyond The Pines is a spiritual successor to Drive: Both characters were stuntmen who used vehicles as part of their employment, both were taken in and given a job in a low paying mechanic job where they found them selves doing a crooked sideline to make extra cash, they were also pretty soft spoken but had an air of understated charisma, they both ended up in a precarious predicament due to their criminal activity as well as getting angry with their boss/friend.
  • The Rocketeer is the spiritual successor to the Indiana Jones series.
  • Due to both being superhero period pieces by the same director, Captain America: The First Avenger could be this to The Rocketeer.
  • Mel Gibson's The Patriot is this to his previous film Braveheart.
  • Austin Powers is a spiritual successor to all the James Bond spoofs of The Sixties, particularly Our Man Flint and Casino Royale (1967).
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is a spiritual successor to Hook, where an iconic literary character returns to a fantastical land after many years away to face old adversaries.
  • Another Burton film, Big Fish, is arguably a spiritual successor to Forrest Gump. Both are set in Alabama and are about an innocent Everyman telling stories about his life in the past to people in the present; both also have a hint of the supernatural about them; and both have a prominent female character named Jenny!
  • Wreck-It Ralph could be considered one to Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Disney's Frozen to Tangled, from title to character design to setting. This led many to believe it was just going to be ''Tangled'' IN SNOW before the film proved them very wrong.
  • Elysium is the movie Johnny Mnemonic only wishes it could have been.
    • Speaking of Johnny Mnemonic, there's the direct-to-video "Johnny 2.0", which isn't a sequel but seems to intentionally present itself as one.
  • Inverted. The Chronicles of Riddick literally is a sequel to Pitch Black, but nothing about it feels so. The first was a pretty standard horror movie with humans in a futuristic setting, while the second has elements of sci-fi and fantasy giving it a completely different feel (Riddick is an alien, now?), right down to the titles of each film. It'd be like placing Hannibal Lecter in an Urban Fantasy as a Noble Demon and calling it a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs... which, in Hannibal Rising, is kind of what they did.
    • And inverted again with Riddick, which pretty much throws out the previous film in the first few minutes and then rehashes the plot of Pitch Black.
  • Moving backwards, Phantom of the Paradise is considered by many to be a spiritual predecessor to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Shock Treatment, both of which it shares quite a large number of similarities with.
    • Though "Phantom" came first - just barely - its scene of a muscular, gay Frankenstein monster with a blond pudding-bowl haircut being born inside a tank is so similar to "Rocky Horror" that some screenings of the latter have edited this sequence into the film as a joke.
    • A small number of fans feel that Shock Treatment was intentionally harking back to "Phantom" - in a number of ways, the new Brad and Janet ARE Winslow and Phoenix, complete with Jessica Harper damn near playing the same role again.
  • Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence serves as this to his earlier film ET The Extra Terrestrial note . Both movies revolve around innocent young suburban male protagonists, and both work archetypal science-fiction tropes (aliens in E.T., robots in A.I.) into Coming of Age Stories. Since the movie was originally going to be directed by Spielberg's close friend Stanley Kubrick prior to his death (with Kubrick ultimately handing the project to Spielberg because he felt that it was "closer to his sensibilities") it's possible that Kubrick envisioned it as a partial homage to Spielberg's previous work.
  • The Devil's Carnival to Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film was made instead of a sequel to Repo! after creators Terrance Zdunich, Darren Smith, and Darren Lynn Bousman lost the rights to it. As well them both being rock-horror musicals, they both star Terrance Zdunich, Alexa Vega, Nivek Ogre, Bill Moseley and Paul Sorvino.
  • Life Is Beautiful is often compared to The Day the Clown Cried, as well as Jakob The Liar, all about an entertainer in a concentration camp.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a spiritual successor to Mary Poppins. Both films starred Dick Van Dyke with music by The Sherman Brothers and set in The Edwardian Era. Dick Van Dyke even quipped "This will out-Disney Disney." on the eve of its release.
  • The 1995 animated film Ghost in the Shell is cited by the Wachowskis as a direct influence on The Matrix films, so much so that it's practically The Matrix's spiritual predecessor.
  • Rob Reiner made North with the intention of it being the spiritual successor to The Wizard of Oz. It wasn't. To add insult to injury, many critics pointed out Reiner already had his spiritual successor with The Princess Bride.
  • Rat Race is the spiritual successor to Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
  • WarGames can be considered a Lighter and Softer spiritual successor to Dr. Strangelove, as an allegory about the nonsensical nature of nuclear war.
  • Day of the Animals to its director William Girdler's previous film Grizzly, since it has a similar location, plot, and shares some of the cast.
  • Man of Steel can be considered a spiritual successor to Watchmen. Both are superhero films directed by Zack Snyder that deconstruct their protagonists and alternate between past and present scenes.
    • The World Engine (an octopus-like alien construct with the ability to level an entire city and change the world to the villain's designs) could also be seen as an Author's Saving Throw for replacing Watchmen's octopus-monster with a bomb.
  • Despite being a Godzilla movie, Godzilla (2014) comes across as this to the other Reboot of his rival franchise, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. The main monster being a hero in a way that it doesn't really care for humanity but merely protecting it without realizing it? Check. The enemy monster having a Flying creature with Batlike wings with it's mate threatening to kill humanity, not be flat out destroying them, but by spawning more monsters? Check. An attempt to reboot the franchise in a way that's somewhat Darker and Grittier then how most people remember the Titular Monster? Check.
  • Highwaymen is one to director Robert Harmon's earlier film The Hitcher. Both heavily feature car chases, pursuit along the highways, and a serial killer with a fixation on the male protagonist.
  • Gravity (2013) is the Spiritual Sequel to Apollo 13 (1995), as it is a 'serious' space disaster film based on current technology and starring astronauts rather than a straight sci-fi. Ed Harris even resumes his role as Mission Control.
  • Despite being in a completely different genre, Guardians of the Galaxy has surprisingly a lot in common with Reservoir Dogs, with its fast-paced humor, its ensemble cast of underdog criminals, and its memorable 1970s pop soundtrack (Dogs' "K Billy's Super Sounds of the '70s" vs. Peter Quill's "Awesome Mix" in Guardians). Notably, both movies prominently feature Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling"—a song that Quentin Tarantino is often credited with rediscovering—in pivotal scenes.
    • Guardians also gained a lot of comparisons to both Farscape and Firefly, due to many similarities in aesthetic, characters, and tone.
    • Finally, given the fact that Guardians is a reasonably lighthearted supernatural action-comedy with a kid-friendly tone but some serious crap-smuggling, you could call it a successor to Ghostbusters.
  • Multiple academic articles have been written about how Georges Méliès's films are the spiritual successors of the féerie, a spectacular theatrical genre popular in 19th-century Paris.
    • And hardly any film theorist has been able to talk about the work of the mid-20th-century filmmaker Karel Zeman without either implying, or flat-out stating, that Zeman is the spiritual successor of Méliès.
  • What We Did On Our Holiday is a Spiritual Successor to Out Numbered. It was created by the same people - Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin - and features three adorable and unwittingly wisecracking children, put-upon parents, and comedy from unexpected situations
  • John Wick is a Spiritual Successor to Point Blank. Although the former features some plot points similar to The Road To Perdition, it is more about a stoic badass criminal who goes after a powerful crime family in search of a MacGuffin, with hyperstylized direction and action.
  • Ridley Scott's Gladiator has a couple of films that could be seen as spiritual successors to it...
    • Robin Hood (2010) is often considered a spiritual successor to Gladiator because of how both are historical battle epics starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott. This is the one that is most often talked about in this light.
    • King Arthur, ironically enough another film that serves as a more grounded and gritty retelling of a renowned figure in British folklore, also qualifies as a spiritual successor to Gladiator just as much. Both stories were initially conceived by David Franzoni, Hans Zimmer provided the scores for both, and the two films are Roman era historical battle epics that center around a great and respected officer in the Roman military who has never been to Rome but holds an idealized image of it in his head as the light in a dark and cruel world. An image that becomes effected as their stories go on.
    • Exodus: Gods and Kings is also pretty obviously one as well. Both films are directed by Ridley Scott, the trailers getting a lot of mileage with the "From the Director of Gladiator tagline", and both are prominently advertised as the story of "One man facing the might of an empire". The parallels are further compounded by how the main antagonist in either film is the lead character's royal surrogate brother (though that comes with the territory given how things go down in the Biblical book of Exodus) but also in how Moses is being portrayed as a military commander before he goes into exile and becomes an agent of God. (Though it was an idea touched upon in Cecil B. De Mille's The Ten Commandments)
  • It could be argued that Robin Hood (2010) is just as much a spiritual successor to Ridley Scott's other preceding historical epic Kingdom of Heaven as it is to Gladiator. As both are epics set in the Middle Ages, and touch on the corruption and politics of the time. What makes the connections all the more interesting however is the fact that one of the last scenes in Kingdom had that film's lead Balian comes across King Richard the Lionheart on his way to go on the crusade to retake the Holy Land from Saladin. In Robin Hood the film opens up with King Richard and his men on their return journey from his decade long crusade. They even have the lead character Robin Longstride when asked criticize Richard's crusade as well as a massacre of Muslims in the city of Acre. Harkening back to some of the major themes of Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Finding Forrester is often considered to be a spiritual successor to Good Will Hunting. Both are films directed by Gus Van Sant that center around a low-class young man who turns out to be prodijy in a certain field and winds up finding a mentor who helps him explore his potential.
  • Anthony Mann's El Cid starring Charlton Heston has multiple films that qualify as spiritual successors.
    • When it comes to films that involve some of the same players involved in their making you have...
      • The Fall Of The Roman Empire is often considered to be a spiritual successor to El Cid as both are historical epics directed by Anthony Mann and featuring Sophia Loren as the leading female. Charlton Heston, the star of El Cid, was even originally planned to play the lead role. However because of his tenuous relationship with Loren, he wound up declining from the part. And after genre veteran Kirk Douglas (aka Spartacus) turned down the part it wound up going to Heston's Ben-Hur co-star Stephen Boyd. Both films also deal largely with the themes of tolerance and honor. They both also have a leading character who is a high-ranking warrior that seeks to bridge his people with their long-standing enemies and contends with his stubborn ruler who they try to remain loyal to in spite of their growing tension as he continually refuses to listen to pleas for unity and peace. However, ironically enough, things end up in near opposite manners. It is also notable that the English actor Douglas Wilmer is in both films.
      • Khartoum like El Cid is a large-scale historical epic that has Charlton Heston play a successful and revered historical figure and military commander as well as a devoted and stalwart Christian. One however who has managed to gain the respect and loyalty of members of both the Christian and Muslim faiths. The conflicts of these films having them square off against a fanatical fundamentalist Muslim leader with an eye for conquest. The along the way he must also contend with the corruption within the system he himself serves. And both stories ultimately end with the lead heroes becoming martyrs. It is also notable, like for the last film listed, the English actor Douglas Wilmer also appears in both movies.
    • And when it comes to films that came out a good deal later and don't involve the same cast or crew, but were definitely influenced by it to a sizable degree you have three of the most well known modern Medieval based historical epics...
      • Braveheart was influenced by it and was a film Mel Gibson grew up with and admired. Both are historical epics set in the Middle Ages that centers around a European country's national hero. Both films centering around their battle to try and keep their country's free and stable. Having to deal with a corrupt outside force trying to take control over them as well as the corruption in his nation's own hierarchy. Both ultimately manage to inspire unity in their people but die as martyrs in the process. It is also notable that the arcs for the young royals Alfonso VI of León & Castile and Robert the Bruce as well as their relationships to the lead heroes are quite comparable up to a point.
      • Kingdom of Heaven like El Cid is a Medieval based historical battle epic centering around a conflict between Christians and Muslims, wanting to teach a lesson about tolerance to the audience. And it has been said that Ridley Scott was first inspired to wanting to make a crusader movie after having seen El Cid in the theater when he was a young man. Both films center around a historical noble who seeks to create stability in his land of residence, and manages to win the admiration and loyalty from people of both faiths. Both because of his honor, as well as displays of mercy.
      • Robin Hood (2010) is a film to also take into consideration given the previously mentioned affinity the film's director Ridley Scott has for El Cid. Both films are Middle Ages set historical epics that center around a famous hero from a European nation. (though whether or not Robin Hood actually existed is still in question) The main conflict in either film centers around a foreign ruler trying to conquer the lead hero's nation. Both plan on first making it easier by sowing discord among the nobles of that country who already have tenuous relationships with each other before coming in with his invasion force. The assassination of his brother as a part of this plan leads to a younger and more questionable noble to taking the throne as king. The leading hero manages to bring his nation together as the foreign power is starting its invasion on the coast, with of course a grand battle ensuing.
  • Duplex has been called a spiritual successor to Throw Momma from the Train. Both are black comedies directed by Danny De Vito that center around a character's (or characters') fixation on murdering an old lady. However the comparison is often used as point of derision, as even the Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Consensus blurb does: "It was funnier when it was called Throw Momma from the Train".
  • Lawrence of Arabia has no less than three films that could fit the bill as spiritual successors...
    • Doctor Zhivago: The film's producer Carlo Ponti deliberately wanted the film to be as grand as Lawrence of Arabia. And thus he went on to recruit that film's team. Including director David Lean, screenwriter Robert Bolt, cinematographer Freddie Young, production designer John Box and composer Maurice Jarre. Peter O'Toole was even Lean's initial choice to play the leading role, but he turned it down based upon his grueling experiences making Lawrence of Arabia that created a rift between the two. The role would subsequently go to O'Toole's Lawrence co-star Omar Sharif. Also, Alec Guinness is featured in both films.
    • Lord Jim: A film released three years later, the same year that Zhivago came out ironically enough, that again sees Peter O'Toole play the role of a British officer who winds up "Going Native" and becoming a leader among a group of foreigners, which leads to him coming to blows with the government he had served.
    • Khartoum: A film released four years after that is another historical epic that is centered around another famous British general that was, ironically enough, even mentioned by Prince Feisal in Lawrence of Arabia with the line, “I think you are another of these desert-loving English – Doughty, Stanhope, Gordon of Khartoum.” In this case it is Gen. Charles "Chinese" Gordon who like Gordon was eccentric, became something of a loose canon who would go beyond his orders, and felt more comfortable in Arab culture. Both films are also critical of imperialism. Reportedly Alec Guiness, the actor of Feisal, was the original choice to play Muhammad Ahmad. He declined and the role went to Laurence Olivier. Which is very ironic, as Olivier had actually been the first choice for the role of Feisal before Guiness was cast. While the film has been generally well received on its own terms many feel that the comparisons to Lawrence, which came out only a few years earlier, are inevitable.
  • Django Unchained has been said to be so to Inglorious Basterds. Both films were directed by Quentin Tarantino, and feature members of an oppressed group striking back violently against their oppressors. (Jews against Nazis and a slave against Antebellum South Slave Owners) Both also feature Christoph Waltz in a major supporting role that garnered him an Oscar win.
  • Defiance could be considered one to Glory. Both are war films that were directed by Edward Zwick and, at least somewhat like the last pair of film ironically enough, center around members of an oppressed group striking back as well as fighting for their freedom.
  • The Three Musketeers (1993) gives off the vibe of deliberately aiming to be a spiritual successor to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves which came out two years prior. Both were re-iterations of classic stories of swashbuckling heroism, taking several liberties in the process, that center around a rag-tag group of heroes. Both star an awesomely over-the-top antagonist who has received a "Villain Upgrade" of sorts, given how the Sheriff and Richelieu now plot to take over their respective nations with plans that involve them getting with a woman of nobility. Both films feature Michael Wincott in the role of a supporting villain who serves as the main adversary's chief enforcer. (Guy of Gisborne and Rochefort respectively) Both films have scores by Michael Kamen and have a pop song attached featuring Bryan Adams.
  • Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas was a major influence on what are arguably the two most popular historical epics of the modern era, and has been cited as such by their respective directors. Both coming off as being quite similar in spirit...
    • Braveheart is structurally quite similar to Spartacus, though many of the details are quite different. Each is the story of a low-standing man within an oppressed group who manages to rise up and become a great leader in battling the foreign group seeking to oppress them. Both doing so after a major loss. The lead villain is an extremely high ranking man who seeks to consolidate and expand his own power. His side however early on however does not take the rebellion seriously and think lowly of them, which is something that both the Romans and the English pay for. The two leaders manage to find great success and even start up a (new) romance. After a major betrayal at a key moment however, facilitated by the lead villain buying off important allies, things turn south with the hero's losing and eventually being captured. The hero never submits however, and thus winds up being sentenced to a cruel execution. (Both ending up dying on a cross of some sort no-less) However both have managed to succeed in sending their message to the world, and the audience is left knowing that they actually have conceived a child who will get to live on past him.
    • Gladiator in many respects is a lot like Spartacus in reverse. One character starting out as a slave/gladiator who manages to rise up into a great, powerful, and respected military leader. While the other starts out as a great, powerful, and respected military leader who winds up being torn down into being a slave/gladiator. However the share certain elements, including a lead villain who is seeking to manipulate the people (though through drastically different means) in order to consolidate his power and essentially supplant the Senate with a lot of political subterfuge and intrigue ensuing as a result. Both also having supporting characters in a gladiator school owner who starts out focusing on making a profit but becomes a key player in the main conflict, as Gladiator having what appears to be a deliberate shout-out to the previous film in the form of having a major character called Senator Gracchus. The Gracchus' in either film being the chief antagonist's main political rival who is fighting for the rights and continued authority of the senate. And again, like Braveheart as well, the lead heroes of both films ultimately die as martyrs.
  • Perhaps it would be better to call both films (Braveheart and Gladiator) the newer carriers of the torch for the genre, as both feel in many ways like tributes to the Hollywood Epics of yesteryear as a whole. The other film that Ridley Scott cited as an influence on Gladiator, and he as a filmmaker in general, was William Wyler's acclaimed epic Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston. Another Roman Era epic, that similarly centers around a well to do and morally upright man who is old "friends" with the film's main antagonist. (Perhaps the biggest difference being that Messala's feelings for Judah were genuine, whilst Commodus only ever put on a happy face as a façade) After the hero refuses the antagonist's request to join up with and help him his life is subsequently torn apart and he is made a slave. Though he eventually manages to "rise from the ashes" so to speak and go for justice and repair his life.
  • The The Prophecy series can be seen as a spiritual successor to the Highlander franchise. As it like its predecessor was created by Gregory Widen and has a mythos that centers around a secret conflict between immortals of mystical power not known to the masses. Not to mention that there is only one very specific way that any members of these groups (The Immortals and Angels respectively) can be killed.

Fan WorksSpiritual SuccessorLiterature

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy