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Ambiguous Clone Ending

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"Who really died that day? And who came back?"

At some point in the story, the hero was cloned. At the climax of the story, the hero fights their clone and one lives while the other dies. However, whether the survivor is the clone or the original is left uncertain. This usually leaves a lot of uncertainty and angst because the survivor fears seeing a Tomato in the Mirror, and may grapple with the guilt of essentially having murdered themself.

Sub-Trope of Ambiguous Ending. Compare Schrödinger's Butterfly, where whether the heroes escaped the Lotus-Eater Machine is left in doubt. Shell Game is a prerequisite. May involve a Theseus' Ship Paradox.

As an ending trope, be prepared for SPOILERS.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Discussed in Ayakashi Triangle: Long after Matsuri was turned into a girl, he gets an ayakashi split off that takes his opposite sex form—but they don't which is the human or ayakashiExplanation . The duplicate's mind was an exact copy, so Matsuri's mother points out they can't just brush off either of them.
    Matoi: It's true that one of them is an ayakashi... there can only be one physical body. But even if the body's an ayakashi, it's hard to say it's a fake if the personality's real.
  • Downplayed in part five of The Garden of Sinners. Soon after Touko is killed by Cornelius Alba, another Touko comes through the door and returns the favor. Before he is killed, Alba tries desperately to comprehend whether the one he killed was the original or the clone, but Touko dismisses this as irrelevant — mainly because, as a doll-maker of unparalleled talent, she has achieved the ultimate mastery and can create infinite copies of herself that are indistinguishable from her original, thus making this entire notion meaningless. It is therefore entirely possible that both Toukos we see in the story are clones/dolls/copies, while her original body is long dead — it wouldn't change anything about her character, and isn't addressed again at any point.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig: Pazu's Day in the Limelight leads to him confronting his Psycho Ex-Girlfriend, who was planning to Kill and Replace him with a robot copy of his body and downloaded memories. It's implied that the real Pazu wins. If one looks closely, Pazu gets cut and bleeds while the impostor gets stabbed through the last part of her that is human, her brain. The psycho-ex's robot body has a huge cut with no internal blood or organs when the fight ends. Interestingly, neither the Major nor Batou know who won: when the Major asks Batou, Batou responds Pazu "probably" won.
  • Lupin III:
    • The first movie, The Mystery of Mamo seems to be heading for this until the climax, in which Mamo reveals that the Lupin that died at the beginning was the clone. When Inspector Zenigata shows up afterwards to arrest Lupin, he tries to invoke this trope with Zenigata, but the inspector doesn't care.
    • Referenced in the later Lupin movie Green vs. Red, where it isn't clear if the Lupin at the end is the real one, Yasuo dressed as Lupin, or another impersonator entirely. No-one seems to care.
  • In My Hero Academia, we learn in Chapter 115 that this is part of Cloudcuckoolander Twice's backstory, and the reason why he acts so strange. He decided to abuse his cloning Quirk in order to have his clones (which are identical to him but fade away if they suffer injuries equivalent to a broken bone) commit crimes, but then his clones turned on and killed each other, resulting in Twice becoming traumatized(to the point he has a breakdown if his face isn't covered) and not knowing whether he's the original or a clone. And then in Chapter 229, during the fight with the Meta Liberation Army he suffers enough damage to realize he is the real Twice, and it's enough to let him get enough self-confidence back in the short-term to cut loose with his cloning abilities again. In the Paranormal Liberation War arc, Twice's final clone only lasts for a minute or so after the real Twice is killed, before falling apart, which finally proves that the scenario Twice feared was impossible.
  • Hime from Princess Resurrection was cloned along with almost everyone else in one chapter reminiscent to the pod aliens. While everyone else had multiple clones, Hime only had one and the two of them act and think so alike that the two of them bar themselves in the dining room while everyone else fights off the army of clones. In the end, they both agree on who is the clone and who is the original with the clone making a heroic sacrifice. It isn't really clear if the "clone" really was the clone and we only have the agreement between the two on who is who.
  • In Read or Die when the "good" Nancy fights the "evil" Nancy it's nearly impossible to keep track of which is which during the fight. This creates an extra layer of drama when the surviving Nancy shows up and pretends to shoot the heroine so she can get close enough to the Big Bad to kill him. To make the ending more complicated, the one who wins the fight elects to join the villain in death afterwards, leaving Yomiko a note that she didn't kill the other one after all. If you pay really close attention, they have different dominant hands, something Yomiko picks up on in one scene since she figures out which Nancy to stand next to when they're facing off.
  • Invoked in the Tiger Mask manga: when Tiger Mask faces his Evil Twin he shows up wearing a band on his arm and fighting clean while the imposter had no band and committed fouls, but at one point Tiger Mask loses the band and gets pissed enough to fight back in kind, and nobody can tell which one won. Then Subverted when the match's promoter quickly points out that the winner is the real one, as his mask has plastic fangs and the loser's has steel ones.

    Audio Drama 
  • One of the BBC radio adaptations of Blake's 7 had a Teleporter Accident near the end that created two copies of Avon, one of whom ended up pulling a Heroic Sacrifice at the climax. The last two lines of dialogue are this exchange:
    Vila: Hey, which one are you, anyway?
    Avon: Does it really matter?

    Comic Books 
  • Dirty Pair: Fatal But Not Serious: Both Yuri (Girly Girl of the Lovely Angels) and her Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb clone are seriously wounded while escaping a supernova. In the epilogue, one Yuri is bedridden as her partner Kei tells her about the funeral for the other Yuri she just came back from. Subverted in the last panel, where it's revealed that the clone's the one who survived.
  • The Incredible Hulk: In Hulk (1999), an odd case occurs in the Split Decisions story arc, where the Hulk is cloned. The final confrontation follows all the conventions of the Ambiguous Clone Ending: Banner and the Clone face each other alone, the fight itself isn't shown, and the scene skips to Banner returning to his friends telling them the clone is dead. It seems like we're meant to be unsure that the real Hulk won... except that the clone was heavily modified, and in Hulk form looks unmistakably different from the real Hulk. Since we see the Hulk looking perfectly normal in the very next storyline, he's clearly the original... so why does the narrative go through all the plot points associated with this trope?
  • Lobo: For a while there, even one drop of Lobo's blood would grow into a clone. Whenever this happens, the Lobos would team up to kill all of their enemies and then turn on each other. The lone surviving Lobo would be declared the "real" Lobo. Since it didn't matter to Lobo—or any of his clones—who survived as long as one of them did, and everyone else in the DC Universe tries to avoid Lobo anyway, readers didn't really care either.
    • Except for Slo'bo. See, at one point Lobo was de-aged to about fifteen and hanging out with Young Justice, and he died... and when all the blood-clones grew up and started killing each other (while everyone else, thinking he was dead, was very far away), one of them ran and hid. After the others were done, he came out and ran back to Earth while the new Lobo was off doing whatever, but he was too ashamed to be called Lobo anymore, so he took a new name.
  • Spider-Man: Doing this ultimately led to The Clone Saga. And, by extension, to the somewhat shorter Brand New May saga in the Spider-Girl comics. However, the first "Clone Saga" (during Gerry Conway's run on The Amazing Spider-Man (1963)) offered a strong reason why the Peter seen at the end was the original: all the clones of Peter were fixated on Gwen Stacy, while the real Peter had undergone Character Development since her death and had begun a relationship with Mary Jane Watson. Knowing this, Peter does not look at the results, as his ability to grow past that point proves that he's the original. Too bad editorial forgot that by the time The '90s rolled around.
  • Superman: Back in the early 90s, DC Comics revisited the famous Sand Superman storyline, in which a being of pure sand was created after Superman eradicated Kryptonite from the Earth. The two fight and a massive explosion takes place within the Fortress of Solitude. The story ends with Superman talking to Luthor with the hinting that the surviving Superman is actually the sand creature. At one point, the prevalent rumor was that this story was supposed to have been DC's escape route if the marriage between Clark and Lois didn't pan out had the incident that led to The Death of Superman not occurred, but it's been proven to be not true.

    Fan Works 
  • Under Moonlight has Danny Phantom decide not to rescue one of his ghostly duplicates from a horrible fate, as saving them would mean gaining all their memories of being experimented upon by his own parents. As he leaves, the POV switches to the captive Danny, who thinks that "He was the real Danny, actually. He was right here, after all. And no one. No one was coming back for him."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Annihilation (2018) ends with Lena returning from the Shimmer. It doesn't seem apparent during her debriefing to her superiors, but when she reunites with Kane (who she has learned actually died in the Shimmer and was apparently replaced by a clone... maybe), she asks him if he's really Kane, which he answers by asking her if she's really Lena. Subtle hints (particularly Lena's eyes changing) at least suggest that Lena isn't the same person as she was before entering the Shimmer.
  • Another Earth ends with The Reveal of Rhoda coming home and seeing another Rhoda. Which Rhoda is which, who visited who, what their differences are is never revealed as the movie ends.
  • The Prestige: By the end, Angier is definitely dead, but it's not clear when he dies. The matter duplicator works by materializing one Angier some distance away while the other remains stationary in the machine, with Angier not knowing if which one is the original since they're perfect copies. The first test ends with the one who teleports dying, every performance of Angier's trick ends with the one who stays behind drowning to maintain the illusion, and the last Angier is shot dead by Borden. When did the original Angier die, and how much of the movie follows his clones?

  • After several assassination attempts by the CIA, Fidel Castro decided to look for a body double to serve as a decoy. After several days of searching, they found the perfect candidate: an inmate from an insane asylum who, like Fidel, smoked cigars, walked with long strides, constantly ranted against American imperialism, and even refused to take baths too. So they took him out, tried (unsuccessfully) to bathe him, dressed him in an olive green military suit, and presented him to Fidel, who was so impressed by his likeness that not even he could tell who was the real one! So he took his double for a ride on a Soviet jeep, with such bad luck that they crashed. When their comrades arrived at the crash site, they saw with horror that one of them had been killed!

  • Alex Rider:
    • Point Blanc, although it's not technically his clone. Alex has thwarted the villain's plot to replace the children of influential people with surgically-altered teenage clones of himself, only to find a clone that looks like Alex waiting at his school (Alex had posed as a businessman's son to get close to the villain). The ensuing fight causes a fire, and only one Alex walks out...until the sequel came along, of course.
    • Several books later, it turns out that both survived. The clone has been in prison for the intervening books and is now even more obsessed with revenge. Alex ends up personally killing him.
  • In Android at Arms by Andre Norton, the protagonist is the subject of a plot to replace him with an artificial duplicate — or is he the duplicate, with implanted memories making him think he's the original?
  • Subverted in Legend of the Five Rings. During the original Clan War story arc, Bayushi Kachiko uses an Artifact of Doom to create an evil duplicate of Doji Hoturi as part of her revenge against him for killing her son. Unknown to Hoturi, he was actually their son. Hoturi finally faces the False Hoturi in a duel alone and away from any witnesses. But since the loser melted into goo and maggots upon death, it's quite clear that the real Hoturi won.
  • Comes up in Galaxy of Fear: Clones. Tash, fleeing a horde of malicious clones of herself, sheds her clothes and slips into one of the jumpsuits her clones are wearing, stacked neatly up near the cloning vats. She then ends up falling and hitting her head, so the past hour or so is a blurry mess, and runs into another Tash wearing something other than a jumpsuit, who rather than being evil is defeated and terrified and insists that she is Tash; the other clones arrive and kill the terrified one. Tash doubts herself for a bit, but ultimately resolves that she is not a clone - for one, she still has her mother's necklace, which none of the others have - because these clones don't act the same ways she's been acting all along. She's been intrigued and repulsed for some time by the Dark Side of the Force, while her evil clones are outright fascinated; she's pretty much become used to danger and the threat of death, but they rejoice in killing. She's afraid, but not cowering and terrified like the one nonviolent clone.

    Live-Action TV 


  • In the Downer Ending of the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Chameleons", the Chameleon turns into a clone of Janice, and Sharon must decide which one to spray with water. She picks the real Janice, who is turned into a chameleon and drowned in a well, while the clone has plans to turn Sharon and her family into chameleons as well.
  • Doctor Who: Petronella Osgood and her Zygon duplicate invoke and enforce this trope to keep the peace between humans and Zygons, never revealing which of them is the human and which is the Zygon. Even after one of them dies in the Series 8 finale, the survivor refuses to confirm which one she is, and eventually another Zygon takes the dead Osgood's place. So now the Osgoods are either a human and a Zygon again, or two Zygons both honoring the dead human original. Which one of them is the surviving Osgood (who could be either human or Zygon), and which one is the Zygon who replaced the dead Osgood? Only they know — and they're not telling.
    • In the 2019 Big Finish Doctor Who story Narcissus, the surviving Osgood claims she's not a Zygon. But she might be lying. She implies the same in the webcast The Zygon Isolation, and probably isn't lying (because she's talking to the third Osgood).
  • In the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared episode "Death", Duck returns from the dead to discover that he's been replaced by a shapeshifting blob, who has taken on his likeness. After a tense moment of silence, the Ducks decide that they can live with each other. A variation of the theme song plays, with the second Duck awkwardly shoehorned in. One Duck kills the other before the song can even finish, deciding that "four doesn't work". The question is did the real Duck kill the clone, or vice versa? Duck has shown homicidal tendencies before, but who's to say the clone hasn't completely copied his personality? On top of that, the dead Duck can briefly be seen with maggots around his corpse, which the 'real' Duck was previously shown to have from his time buried in the ground.
  • Played with in the third season of Farscape: after John gets "twinned", both characters are essentially seen as equally real and valid. One of them makes a Heroic Sacrifice; at first, Aeryn refuses to speak to the other when they're reunited.
    • D'Argo and Chiana are also "twinned", but their doubles are killed during the same episode. They are both seen to be grappling with questions of "What if that was the real me and I'm just a copy?"
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "Will The Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up", a man who looks exactly like Mr. Howell (and has, in fact, been impersonating him back on the mainland) washes ashore on the island, causing confusion for the crew until he finally flees the island...or did he? The episode ends with Mrs. Howell suddenly becoming uncertain that the Mr. Howell still on the island is her Mr. Howell (he vehemently insists that he is the real one).
  • The Mexican soap opera Lazos de Amor, which dealt with a trio of young female identical triplets, ended like this: The evil triplet kidnaps one of her triplet sisters and ends up killing her own love interest when he tries to reason with her and then supposedly committing suicide; the kidnapped triplet is freed and goes on to marry her own love interest with the final scenes showing her wedding, but after the credits roll, a scene during her honeymoon is shown where she briefly makes the same distinctive tic of her evil sister while her ominous leitmotif plays...
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 plays this for laughs.
    • Tom Servo accumulates numerous clones over the course of the series, and in Diabolik, he prepares for his return to Earth by killing all those clones. But Mike Nelson and Crow can't tell the difference between the clones and the original, and the Servos themselves decide who's the "real" Servo mainly through attrition. So there's no clue whether the last Servo standing is the original or not.
      Mike Nelson: [utterly confused] Well, are you sure you're... you?
      Tom Servo: Of course! You'd be able to tell right away if I wasn't.
      [activates the self-destruct mechanism and promptly explodes]
    • In Reptilicus, Crow casually creates another gaggle of Tom Servo clones, then melts them all down to scrap when he's done. The original Servo gets melted down as well, somehow, and a clone left in his place. The clone immediately comes clean about the mix-up, but no one cares—and for the rest of the season, everyone treats him like he's the original Servo.
  • In an episode of Psi Factor, a main character thinks his resurrected wife is actually possessed by an "Ancient", so he banishes her and resurrects her again. The ending heavily implies that it's still the same Ancient.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In the episode "Out of Time", Starbug is confronted by an upgraded (but identical looking) Starbug, crewed by evil future versions of the Starbug crew. It ends with the "good" vessel losing most of its crew, and a laser blowing up one of the combatants. Which ship won isn't revealed until the next series. (It was the evil crew that won, but the Temporal Paradox that resulted from it caused the Reset Button to be hit)
    • It was also initially left unclear which Rimmer is the Rimmer we see from Back to Earth onwards (the one from Series I-VII who became Ace Rimmer or the one from Series VIII who may or may not have died during the series cliffhanger) as Series X presented evidence for both scenarios.note  It was eventually revealed through Word of God in 2020 that the Rimmer seen since then is indeed the one who went off to become Ace.
  • In the second-season Sliders episode "Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome", the characters find themselves on a world that's just like their own Earth, but with only a few differences. One of those differences is that that world's Professor Arturo missed the opportunity to go sliding through other dimensions with Quinn Mallory and the others, and has regretted it ever since. This world's Arturo gets in a fight with the regular Arturo just as it's time to slide. Before the portal closes, one of the Arturos leaps through and joins the other Sliders (and eventually makes a Heroic Sacrifice in the third season) while the other is left behind and says "Oh, God." It's never made clear whether the Arturo who joins them at the end is the same one they started with.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): Subverted in the episode "In His Image". Near the end of the episode, Ridiculously Human Robot Alan and his creator Walter (who he was created as an exact duplicate of) get into a fight. A few minutes later, Alan's fiancée comes in and one of them escorts her out of the room, reassuring her that everything is okay. Then we see Alan's body lying on the floor.

TV Movies:

  • The TV Movie Echo had Jack Wagner playing the main character, and the Evil Twin who kidnaps his brother and takes over his life. Near the end, his girlfriend finds out about the twin, and goes to confront him only to find that the Evil Twin has mimicked his brother so well that, when she shoots the gun, the audience is left to wonder which of the twins survived.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One possible interpretation of Mictlantecuhtli's power in Geist: The Sin-Eaters. The Kerberos of Mictlan has the unique ability of returning the soul of anyone who has ever died, even if they have been destroyed utterly. The returned soul would over time 'behave like an idealised version of the character', that there won't be any potential out of character moments, and the sourcebook leaves whether the soul is the real deal or just a duplicate up to interpretation.

  • The stage comedy Et ta sœur? ("And your sister?"), which deals with a couple of Half-Identical Twins (played by the same actor), who throughout the play cross-dress as each other causing all sort of gags, by the end of the play they both have mimicked each other so perfectly that the character has to break the fourth wall to lampshade the fact that the audience cannot tell if the character on the stage is the sister acting like her brother, or the brother dressed up as his sister, or the brother dressed up as his sister and pretending to be her brother.

    Video Games 
  • Not precisely a clone (the clone acts way different), but towards the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepard has to grapple with the ontological confusion of their being brought back from a really-most-sincerely-dead state by Cerberus. To whit, are they the actual Shepard, with a bunch of cybernetics that helped restore brain function... or are they a bunch of cybernetics programmed to believe it's Shepard? Shepard's companions and/or love interest are emphatic in their defense that they're the real deal, but none of them can offer any concrete proof, except for a romanced Liara (because of the "merging of consciousness" that comes with Asari mating) — and even she can't be 100% certain the difference would be noticeable.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 lives on this. The protagonist dies in the canonical ending of the first game and is then cloned by the beginning of the second. The clone was imprinted with memories of the original up until to some point, essentially making him the same person. Midway through the game confusion arises when another character states that it is impossible to clone a Jedi (although Star Wars Legends has it possible, they just wind up crazy and evil). Then more clones of the original are revealed, going mad from their conflicting personalities, which you have to fight. And while the Light Side ending is pretty straightforward, the Dark Side ending is a guaranteed Mind Screw on the first playthrough: the main character is killed by another clone of the original, who succumbed to the Dark Side. It is implied that he exists in the Light Side version of the game as well but does not attack you because of your actions. And then the bonus cinematics hint that you already played as a clone in the first game...
    • The protagonist (of the second game) himself believes himself to be a clone, and at one point (at least in the novelization) refutes Rahm Kota's claims that Jedi cannot be cloned (at least not without physically degenerating) by pointing out that is as far as he knows. While the game and the novelization are deliberately vague, the supplementary material tend to state that he is a clone. The unlockable Distant Thunder, which detail the Dark Apprentice's training, feature Darth Vader displaying Galen Marek's corpse to the Dark Apprentice. Since the cinematics occur before the game's ending, and have no impact on the game's events themselves, and due to the fact that Databanks and a Force vision (in the novelization) confirm the existence of the Dark Apprentice, it is probable that Distant Thunder is canon, which means that the second game's protagonist is, in fact, a clone.
    • Complicating things is the existence of Essence Transfer, which means he could be the original Galen Marek and a clone.
  • The Double Cherry powerup in Super Mario 3D World can cause this. The clones disappear on getting hit, and once they're all gone the last one remaining is treated as the "original" Mario/Luigi/Peach/Toad. Also, the moment any clone touches the end of level flagpole, all the others disappear. Was that the real Mario, or...?
  • The ending of Tales of the Abyss is ambiguous on whether the person who appears at the end is Luke, Asch, or an amalgamation of the two. The only piece of evidence is an optional sidequest reveals that creatures who undergo fomicry suffer a "big crunch" effect after a certain amount of time, in which the fonons of the original disperse and are absorbed into the clone. However, the sidequest does not reveal how much of the original persists after this process, leaving the answer vague.
  • In Warframe's backstory, Albrecht Entrati, pioneer of Void technology, encountered a Doppelgänger of himself during his first voyage. When nobody else reported encountering this being, he began to question his own identity, ultimately deciding to reject Orokin Immortality and commit suicide by old age. Considering we see the real identity of the doppelganger, The Man in the Wall, emerge from a massive Void portal at the end of "The New War", it's fairly safe to say that it was indeed Albrecht who returned back to reality during that fateful day.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Kagetsu Tohya, if you decide to search for the killer, sometimes you do battle with him. The killer is you, somehow. During some of the battles, it gets so confusing the fighters themselves begin mixing which is which, and the winner himself doesn't know who he is anymore. Try Again!

    Web Animation 
  • Eddsworld: After Edd, Tord, and Tom are finished killing all of the clones in "Spares", they realize they forgot to kill a Matt clone, who walks up beside the real Matt. However, rather than trying to Spot the Imposter, they instead decide to throw Tom in the trash and have one of the Matts dress up as Tom, not answering the question of which Matt is the real one.

    Web Original 
  • Exaggerated in this fake Fate of the Jedi epilogue which reveals that not only did Luuke Skywalker from The Thrawn Trilogy survive in place of Luke, but Thrawn himself has been creating clones of everyone in the entire galaxy. The proposed unending series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars 2, plays up the ambiguity of the cast being clones.
  • The ending of season 2 of Flux Buddies. After fighting Duncan's evil clone Lalnable Hector for over a season, Lalnable reveals that he is the original and our Duncan is one of the clones. Of course, he's not exactly a reliable source...
  • The Misadventures of R2 and Miku has an episode devoted to Miku cloning herself. After all but one of the Mikus are killed, the remaining one expresses serious doubt about whether she's a clone or not.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale, Intern Dana is the only intern to have ever graduated from Red Shirt status at Night Vale Community Radio. Only problem is, it might not have been the original Dana who survived the death match with her doppelganger in "The Sandstorm". Due to this, from then on she's referred to as "Intern Dana, or her double".
    Dana: I remember, I am Dana. Or, I am Dana’s double. One of us killed the other with the stapler. Even I don’t know which one. I have these memories, but memories prove nothing. Experiences also prove nothing.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia has one with Anne, who dies after using the Calamity Gems to destroy the Core. The Cosmic Guardian tells her they made a backup of her that should be the same, but it's not made clear if she's entirely a separate being or if it's just her body that was replaced. Regardless, Anne says she'll probably have an existential crisis over it later.
  • Archer: Near the end of season 5, Krieger meets three clones of himself. Though initially friendly to him, it's eventually revealed that the clones are planning to launch a missile filled with nerve gas. Our Krieger attempts to stop them, and in the ensuing fight three of the four Kriegers are killed. The survivor disarms the missile and returns to the United States with the rest of the heroes, but it's intentionally left vague whether he's our Krieger or one of the clones taking his identity, with the episode containing hints towards both:
    • He's the real Krieger: He did disarm the missile, which the clones would have no reason to do, and he also knew about Cherlene's brain implant (and the fact it was just a sticker), which the clones wouldn't (unless the real one told them about it offscreen).
    • He's a clone: After the fight, Krieger has a concussion. Our Krieger was never shown to get hit on the head, but one of the clones did. He also calls his co-workers by the wrong names, which he attributes to the head wound, but could have been a result of him not knowing them.
    • A third possible option presented later in the series is that he's real and has prosopagnosia: He's present for the birth of Lana's daughter, Abbiejean, which occurs after the four Kriegers' struggle, but doesn't recognise her the following season, despite seeing her extensively since her birth. He did suffer a long fall.
  • DuckTales (2017): Played for Laughs in the episode "Moonvasion!". Prior to this episode, Gyro had succeeded in his goal of making a clone army of himself. Over the course of the episode, at least two of the Gyros are killed and the remaining ones aren't entirely sure if the original Gyro was among the deceased.
    (Gyro is seemingly hit by an energy beam and disintegrated)
    Gyro: Don't worry—that was a clone.
    (that Gyro is also shot and disintegrated)
    Gyro(?): Okay, that might've been me, none of us really know anymore.
  • Family Guy:
  • Played straight when Stewie creates an evil clone of himself. It is implied that Brian shot the wrong one with an ending in the style of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.
  • In "Roads to Vegas" two perfect copies of Brian and Stewie are created. By the end of the episode, one Brian and one Stewie are both dead...but the show never specifies which pair is the original and which is the copy (Did the machine teleport them to Vegas and leave clones behind, or teleport the clones to Vegas?). Since there's one death in each pair, either the original Brian or original Stewie is definitely dead.
  • Invincible (2021): The Mauler Twins make sure this is always the case for them whenever one dies, and purposefully set up the process of cloning and copying the memories to be so perfect and seamless that, by the time it's over, both have the exact same memories. They bicker like siblings on who's the real one and who's the last clone, but admit during a more emotional moment that it's better that way; it never ends well if they know who the clone is, in their words.note 
  • Played With in "Too Many Pinkie Pies" episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic after Twilight zaps away all the clones in the room and only the original Pinkie remains. At first she shouts joyfully "I'm me! I'm me! I'm me!", but then she suddenly stops and asks herself "Or am I?", nervously examines her own face and concludes: "Yeah, I'm pretty sure I am."
  • Rick and Morty:
    • In "The ABCs of Beth", Rick offers to make a perfect clone of Beth that will possess her memories and take over her role in the family while the real Beth can go on vacation. It's not revealed how she answered. In the following episode, "The Rickchurian Mortydate", however, Beth remembers this conversation and becomes convinced that she is a clone created to replace the original Beth after she agreed to Rick's offer. She never gets hard proof either waynote , but ultimately decides that clone or not, she is happy with her current life and even reconciles with Jerry.
    • "Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri" reveals that Rick did create a clone of Beth after she told him she wanted him to make the decision for her. However, Rick decided to randomize the two so that not even he would know if the 'original' Beth was the one living with him or the one off having space adventures. Since Rick set things up so that even he would never be able to find out if he changed his mind, we may never get a real answer.
    • Played for Laughs at the end of "Mortynight Run". Rick and Morty go back to the Jerryboree to pick up Jerry after their adventure, however, an alternate Rick asks if their Jerry is actually his Jerry, but Morty lost their identification token so they can't say for sure. Rick doesn't really care and swaps Jerrys with the other Rick. "Solaricks" reveals that yes, the first Jerry was the right one and the one they swapped with is a different Jerry. They still don't care after finding out, however, and the "right" Jerry ends up dying at the end of the episode anyway.
    • In "Mortiplicity", Rick created decoys of himself and his family, who then created decoys of themselves until there were dozens of identical and near-identical Smith families. Those who realized they were decoys either killed themselves out of despair or started killing other decoys until There Can Be Only One. By the time they nearly all wiped each other out in a massive war, they don't even care which Rick, Morty, Beth, Jerry, or Summer survived so long as they are the only ones.
      Rick: You the, uh, Summer I came with?
      Summer: Probably.
      Rick: Good enough.
  • One Halloween short on The Simpsons involving a magical hammock that made multiple Homer Simpson clones ends with all the Homer clones being lured off a cliff to their doom using giant donuts pulled by helicopters. However, it turns out that the real Homer was amongst the clones who fell to their doom (according to the surviving clone he was the first one over the cliff). Marge is understandably distraught at first but is mollified when the clone offers her a backrub. The fact that the song "Love the one You're With" by Stephen Stills is playing in the background also helps.
  • One episode of Time Squad had Larry make a double of himself, with each double making another until there were hordes of them. Otto and Tuddrussel decided to shove all but one who claims to be the original into space. Despite the final Larry booted out being especially insistent he's the original and the one left behind giving an evil laugh, status quo is restored when he's shunted back to a subservient role.


Video Example(s):



After Edd, Tord, and Tom are finished killing all of the clones, they realize they forgot to kill a Matt clone, who walks up beside the real Matt. However, rather than trying to Spot the Imposter, they instead decide to throw Tom in the trash and have one of the Matts dress up as Tom, not answering the question of which Matt is the real one.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / AmbiguousCloneEnding

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