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Captain Ersatz

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This is Foxy. Who's this Mickey you're talking about?

Scary Terry: [scrapes glove blades against a metal pipe] Welcome to your nightmare, bitch! [attacks]
Rick: Oh, here we go!
Morty: Holy crap! [both run]
Rick: Looks like some sort of a legally safe knock-off of an '80s horror character with miniature swords for fingers instead of knives!

The character equivalent of a Bland-Name Product.

This character's design is a mix of legal issues and homage. Just as someone who wants to incorporate a Walmart into a story but can't manage the Product Placement might use "Box Mart," a person who wants to write Captain Original, but can't because a rival comic company owns the trademark, will create Captain Ersatz. Sometimes, these characters are used as affectionate Shout Outs to a series or creator that may have inspired them. At other times, they are used as parodies or Take Thats against the original characters they're based on (and possibly the company who owns them).

Done when an artist or writer wants to use a character but for whatever reason isn't allowed to at the present time, especially due to uncertainty of ownership, or else certainty that that character is trademarked into someone else's continuity and isn't going to be loaned out.

The key difference between this and Expy is that a Captain Ersatz is obviously the same character but with the Serial Numbers Filed Off, while an Expy uses the other character as a starting point before going in their own direction. Also note that a fictional counterpart to a real-life person would be either No Celebrities Were Harmed, No Historical Figures Were Harmed, or a Shout-Out, depending on the intent. A quick glance around TV Tropes will reveal just how often these mistakes are made on this very wiki.

A Captain Ersatz character, if they make later appearances, tends to evolve into their own direction; it could become an Expy as a result.

Captain Ersatzes are somewhat rare in American parody, as their copyright law allows use of the original characters in parody, which means if they are used in this way, it's usually for a You Wanna Get Sued? gag. They also (usually) aren't found in Fan Fic: that Sailor Earth is a Copy Cat Sue (and they can just outright use a crossover). Sometimes multiple characters will be distilled into one, creating a Composite Character. The same doesn't hold true for Anime & Manga parodies though, which often resort to Captain Ersatzes when the parody character is more than a background cameo.

The trope name comes from the German word for "replacement"note .

For common types of Captain Ersatzes, see Fountain of Expies. A cast made up of Captain Ersatzes counts for Cast of Expies. Compare Alternate Company Equivalent, Lawyer-Friendly Cameo, Brand X, Mockbuster. Contrast Writing Around Trademarks, where the similarity was unplanned and unwanted, and Suspiciously Similar Substitute, who replaces an existing original in the same continuity. See also Self-Plagiarism, when a creator or company does this with an earlier creation of their own, and the musical version, Suspiciously Similar Song.

No relation to Captain Obvious, obviously.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • McDonald's:
    • Ronald McDonald: The Washington D.C. version of Bozo The Clown, played by Willard Scott, was so popular public appearances would require police to direct traffic. After the show was cancelled, local franchise owners asked Scott to create a similar character to continue the promotion. Ronald McDonald was born.
    • The original incarnation of McDonaldland was a blatant copy of the cast and setting of Sid and Marty Krofft Productions' children's show H.R. Pufnstuf (1969). The Kroffts (who had turned down an earlier request from McDonald's to license the Pufnstuf characters for advertising) sued and won, forcing McDonald's to not only pay damages, but to dramatically retool McDonaldLand.
  • The Bombardier, a Large Ham Napoleonic wars soldier played by Rik Mayall in adverts for Bombardier Real Ale, is what Lord Flashheart would have been if he'd appeared in Blackadder the Third, except he says "Bang on!" rather than "Woof!" Mayall even uses the same voice.
  • The need for an off-brand version of Golden Crisp Cereal gives us Golden Puffs. Mascot? "Lil Oatey." a blue Kangaroo. Lampshaded by the words on the package "Betcha can't taste the difference between Golden Crisp." and they're right. You can't.
    • The need for an off-brand version of several other cereals you could lie to your children about and convince them that they were the advertised stuff is what likely brought us the "Toons" brand of breakfast cereal.
  • Burger King also did this in an advertisement for a breakfast sandwich. Lampshaded when they said something to the effect of "Maybe it's not original".
  • Stree Overlord is an herbal supplement with a naked Ryu pleasuring a fully dressed Chun-li on the cover, though it is not about Street Fighter. The backstory has The Overlords practicing the secret Fierce Intensity technique in pre-Shogun Japan before handing down the technique to the young Overlord Stree.
  • Zany Raisins are Kellogg's answer to The California Raisins.
  • A Chinese company made a mascot that bears a strong resemblance to the famous Japanese anime character Doraemon. Although, the company might've gotten sued due to copyright infringement on the character.

    Asian Animation 

    Audio Drama 
  • The Baker's End series of audio dramas by Paul Magrs are clear sequels to the Nest Cottage series of Doctor Who audio dramas he did for BBC Audio, with Susan Jameson reprising the role of Mrs Wibbsey as Mrs Frimbley, and Tom Baker reprising the role of the Fourth Doctor ... As Himself. (although in the last story he regenerates into Colin Baker.)

    Comic Strips 
  • During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the King Features Syndicate did several copycats of the Chicago Tribune strips:
    • Little Annie Rooney was an ersatz of Little Orphan Annie.
    • Dan Dunn was Hearst's answer to Dick Tracy.
    • Another was The Nebbs (a copy of the Tribune's Gumps), created by Sol Hess, who assisted Sidney Smith (creator of The Gumps) during the early 1920s.
  • Doonesbury: Uncle Duke was Garry S. Trudeau's tribute/homage to Raoul Duke, Hunter S. Thompson's alias. Thompson for two decades was so upset he refused to read the comic. Then, Uncle Duke himself was copied in Bloom County with an early character named Limekiller. No word if Thompson had issues with this copy of a copy.
  • The Adventures of Aaron once ran a strip with "The Ghost of Calvin". A couple footnotes make it clear: "Any similarities between Ghost of Calvin and Calvin and Hobbes is purely coincidental." See it here.
  • In For Better or for Worse, it originally seemed as if the artist had intended to pair Liz of with her next door neighbor, Christopher; when he and his family were dropped from the strip, Mrs Johnston altered his serial number and created Anthony Caine.
  • In Frazz by Jef Mallett, the title character, Frazz is a grown up expy of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, both in personality and in artistic design; Mallett says that Bill Watterson is a great influence, but that the similarities are unintentional. Nonetheless, it was blatant enough that rumors persisted that Watterson himself was writing a sequel strip under an assumed identity.
  • In Bloom County, Bill the Cat has been called a "Garfield ripoff" within the strip itself, though Bill's resemblance to Garfield is only particularly blatant in early appearances. The 2015 revival makes it explicit in one strip, claiming Garfield as Bill's literal father (with Jim Davis lending a hand).
  • Fearless Fosdick in Li'l Abner is a lanky duplicate of Dick Tracy. So much so that political cartoonist Herbert Block used him in some of his pieces during the Nixon Administration.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles:
    • The family is very nearly the Fantastic Four: Mr. Incredible is the Thing, Elastigirl is Mister Fantastic, and Violet is the Invisible Woman. Only Dash lacks a direct parallel, though he's certainly Hot-Blooded enough to be a match for the Human Torch. The ending shows Jack-Jack has highly variable superpowers (among these, setting himself on fire like the Human Torch), and Franklin Richards, the child of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman had very ill-defined but vast superpowers. Even their costumes and name (Fantastic/Incredible) are similar. Their villain, Syndrome, is a somewhat more rotund Doctor Doom, a villain whose primary superpowers are simply being so good at super-technology that his super-suit is more powerful than the family combined. Syndrome also has Doctor Doom's 'petty grudge blown way out of proportion' motivation for his enmity as well.
    • Dash is basically The Flash and even calls himself "The Dash" when he gets his suit.
    • Frozone is basically Iceman from the X-Men comics as played by Samuel L. Jackson. They even have the same way of getting from place to place: creating ramps of ice to skate everywhere.
    • In a more extreme example, Gazerbeam and The Underminer basically are Cyclops (from X-Men) and the Mole Man (from Fantastic Four) in all but name. The DVD special features on the minor heroes in the movie even parodies Cyclops' infamously bland personality by having Gazerbeam be an incredibly dull person.
      • Some of the other heroes listed on the DVD also fall into this. Meta Man is very obviously Superman, with his Combo Platter Powers, wholesome personality, and outfit, Everseer's leadership position (and formerly having been Gazerbeam's superior) and telepathy resemble Professor X, and Splashdown's powerset is a clear callout to Aquaman.
    • It even extends to the comic, which has featured among the expanded rogues gallery a Gorilla Grodd expy and aliens resembling the tentacles.
    • And the Humongous Mecha piloted by the Underminer in an effort to frame the Incredibles resembles The Iron Giant with a red paint job. Both films were directed by Brad Bird.
    • It's also notable that The Incredibles successfully captures the "superhero team as a family" dynamic that the Fantastic Four is best-known for in the comics, which three live-acton attempts (thus far) at adapting the FF to film by 20th Century Fox and Marvel have failed to fully accomplish.
  • The characters in Megamind represent various comic book heroes and villains, most notably from Superman. Metro Man is Superman, Megamind is a mixture of Brainiac and Lex Luthor, Roxanne is Lois Lane, and Hal is an incarnation of Jimmy Olsen with some Superboy-Prime thrown in.
  • In The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland, Dim and Dum are blatant copies of Beastly (from the Care Bears TV series). Dim even has the same voice. In Care Bears Nutcracker Suite, the Rat King shares Beastly's voice and general characterization.
  • Rudolph's love interest in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1998) is "Zoey". Wordof God is she was meant to be Clarice but they couldn't use the name.
  • The Muses of Hercules are Captain Ersatzes of the black chorus girls from Menken's earlier, non-animated musical, Little Shop of Horrors.
  • The Main Characters of Monsters vs. Aliens are Captain Ersatzes of 1950s B-Movies:
  • In Rango, there is a brief appearance by Hunter S. Thompson's own Captain Ersatz from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Being as the main character is played by Johnny Depp in both films, this only makes matters better.
  • Riley's imaginary boyfriend in Inside Out is an Ersatz of Justin Bieber, right down to his appearance and the fact that he lives in Canada. This was apparently an artifact of an earlier draft, where there was a scene where Joy and Bing Bong would meet the actual Justin Bieber in a place called Boy Research.
  • Toy Story:
    • Bo Peep, since Mattel didn't allow Pixar to use Barbie at the time, since they didn't think the movie would get much exposure, among other reasons. The company quickly reversed their decision after seeing the success of the first movie, which is why Barbie is featured significantly more than Bo Peep in the rest of the series.
    • Also the Combat Carl, as initially it was going to be a G.I. Joe that got blown up by Sid in his introductory scene, but when Hasbro refused to let Pixar use G.I. Joe in the film, it was changed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • BBV Productions seemed to specialise in Doctor Who Ersatzes (see also under Radio):
    • The Stranger was a direct-to-video series starring Colin Baker (who played the Sixth Doctor on the show) and Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown) as "The Stranger" and "Miss Brown", respectively.
    • While BBV eventually did get licensing rights to various Doctor Who monsters, the Big Two remained exceptions. They never attempted fake-Daleks, but the Cyberons are, well, Cybermen.
    • BBV eventually self-parodied this, with a video called "Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?" in which a swarm of Doctor Who monsters (and the Cyberons) are fought by Sylvester McCoy as ... the Chiropodist.

  • The Amazing Bulk is about an ersatz of The Incredible Hulk.
  • In the conspiracy-laden 1980s stinker Down on Us (a.k.a. Beyond the Doors), about how the CIA killed Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison, Morrison's band is never mentioned by name and its members have no resemblance to Manzarek, Kreiger, or Densmore (and all of the songs in the film are original songs which sound nothing like the songs made famous by said artists).
  • Possibly Rufus from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, a quirky, sophisticated fellow in a time-travelling phone box...
  • The Bloody Man: Sam's favourite toy, Barbarian Man, is pretty much He-Man. Like, the makers didn't even bother TRYING to make him not look too much like He-Man.
  • The Buddy Holly Story had a fictionalized version of the Crickets (two members instead of three, names changed) because the real-life Crickets had already signed onto a different Buddy Holly project.
  • Detective Anna Ramirez in The Dark Knight was originally supposed to be Renée Montoya, but her name was changed at the last minute because her behavior in the film didn't match that of the animated and comic book character. Montoya is an honest cop, while Ramirez is corrupt and works with the mob.
    • By the same token, Det. Wuertz was supposed to be another Batman staple, Harvey Bullock. Bullock is at worst, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, whereas Wuertz is also on the take, and is subsequently killed by Two-Face.
  • Doctor Mordrid: Doctor Mordrid (played by Jeffrey Combs) is Doctor Strange; the villain Kabal is more or less Baron Mordo. This is because Full Moon Features had optioned the right to adapt the comic into film, but the rights expired during pre-production. Rather than cancel the project, they just changed the characters' names.
  • When director F. W. Murnau sought to make a movie out of Bram Stoker's book Dracula, but was unable to secure the rights, he made the movie anyway as Nosferatu, changing the names of the characters. (Dracula, for example, became Count Orlok.) In this case, though, the attempt was unsuccessful: Stoker's widow sued for copyright infringement and won, bankrupting the production company... and getting an order that all copies of the film be destroyed. The movie survived through piracy.
  • General Hager from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was originally supposed to be Nick Fury, but was changed to an original character when the director found out 20th Century Fox didn't have his film rights. Not only does Hager have Fury's personality and (Ultimate) ethnicity, but some of his lines are taken word-for-word from Fury's dialogue in Warren Ellis' Ultimate Galactus Trilogy.
  • In Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, the Final Girl is a teenage girl with telekinetic powers and a fraught relationship with her parents that has left her traumatized. Change her name from Tina Shepard to Carrie White, and the awful parent from her father into her mother, and you have what many fans of the Friday the 13th films describe as an unofficial crossover with Stephen King's Carrie. (Tina is even the name of one of the girls in Chris' Girl Posse who torments Carrie.)
  • Galaxy Quest is for the most part an Affectionate Parody on Star Trek: The Original Series including its actors and fans, with some Star Trek: The Next Generation thrown in.
    • The character of Doctor Lazarus is Spock, the alien on the team, from TOS. The actor is a combination of Spock's Leonard Nimoy, who was haunted by his typecasting as Spock, and Patrick Stewart, classically trained Shakespearean actor who found himself in a Star Trek show.
    • Commander Taggart is Captain Kirk, the hammy star of the show and a Large Ham.
    • Tech Sgt. Chen, although not Scottish, is the equivalent of Scotty, (badly) operating their transpo... sorry, "digital conveyor".
    • Lt. Laredo, the prodigy child crew member, is Wesley from TNG.
    • Lt. Madison who repeats everything the computer says is a mix of Counselor Troi from TNG, who did little more than look good in tights while saying "Captain, I'm sensing something," and Lt. Uhura in TOS—Nichelle Nichols considered leaving the show due to her character doing little more than "opening hailing frequencies" in most episodes, which parallels Gwen's problems with her character.note 
  • Officially, The Godfather isn't about the Mafia at all. The story goes that when the real Mafia began making complaints and threats, the filmmakers compromised, removing all references to "the Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra". So the film is actually about a fictitious crime organisation that just happens to be based around five fictitious Italian-American families – it’s usually referred to as "the Five Families" when mentioned on screen. Averted in Part II, where during the senator hearings, the words Mafia and Cosa Nostra are mentioned multiple times (here by an outsider).
  • About seven years after the producers of Ultraman snuck Godzilla into the show by giving him a neck frill and calling him "Jirass" (see "Live Action TV" below), the producers of the Godzilla series returned the favor by sneaking Ultraman into Godzilla vs. Megalon, altering his coloration slightly and calling him "Jet Jaguar". Appropriately enough, Ultraman's creator, Eiji Tsuburaya, originally did special effects work on Ishir⁠ō Honda's original Godzilla (1954), and was instrumental in bringing Goji-san to life on the big screen.
  • Help!: Kaili = Kali.
  • A series of El Látigo ("The Whip") films were produced in Mexico. El Latigo is a very close imitation of the famous gringo-created hero of Old California, Zorro.
  • In the 2000-2005 Left Behind film series, Ivy Gold of Global Network News is one for Global Weekly secretary Alice Nelson from the books, who also gets confused for being Buck Williams' secret fiancee.
  • MonsterVerse:
  • In the 1976 Mystery Fiction spoof, Murder by Death, various famous detectives are represented by these characters:
  • The 1980 TV Movie Murder Can Hurt You itself seems to have been inspired by Murder by Death, but with these versions of '70s TV Cop Show characters like Columbo, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak, etc.
  • While Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek was able to largely keep the character names from Star Trek: The Original Series due to them being common surnames, the creators were apparently concerned enough that they turned Spock into "Mr. Spak".
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy is sometimes accused of this by Monkey Island fans, who cite similarities between Tia Dalma and the Voodoo Lady as evidence of their claim. Though given how both draw inspiration from On Stranger Tides (and indeed, from the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride), this might be a case where both are the Ersatzes.
  • Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a Captain Ersatz of Nasir in Robin of Sherwood, allegedly because the creators didn't initially realise he was under copyright and not part of the original myth. Since then "the Saracen Merry Man" has become a regular character, but always has a different name.
  • A few in Sky High (2005), but the most obvious is Layla, being similar to Batman's villainess Poison Ivy. She's a redhead, she controls plants, she always wears green, she's very environment friendly, etc. — except she's a good gal. Many have pegged the movie to X-Men given that the plot of the movie centers on a Superhero School.
  • In the original books, the characters in The Snapper and The Van were the same family as in The Commitments. Due to Fox owning the rights to the Rabitte name, they were different characters. Especially glaring is the fact that Colm Meaney plays the father in all three films, but is ostensibly playing different characters.
  • Donald Poultry, The Smart Guy kid from Summer Camp Nightmare, is the movie's analog to Winston Weyn, the protagonist of William Butler's The Butterfly Revolution. Given the Setting Update from The '60s to The '80s, Donald is a Gadgeteer Genius rather than a book nerd, carrying around a tape recorder to dictate an audio diary and a suitcase full of tools which he uses for things such as hacking into the box on top of the rec room building that controls the number of channels the rec room's TV set gets.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: A kindly old couple on a farm who take in a super-powered individual? That sounds kinda familiar. The first shot of them smiling while driving their pickup seems like a deliberate homage to Superman: The Movie. Richard Donner is a producer on this film.
  • The Hammer Horror film X the Unknown was originally intended to be a sequel to The Quatermass Xperiment. However, they couldn't get the rights to the character of Bernard Quatermass at the time, so they made up a new character called Adam Royston. He is a Science Hero with the same general mannerisms as Quatermass, the only major difference being that his specialty is nuclear physics, not rocketry.
  • Chapel was replaced by a similar character named Jessica Priest in Spawn (1997). This is due to Chapel being owned by Rob Liefeld, since he originated in Youngblood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The title character of Adam Adamant Lives! was originally intended to be the genuine hero of Victorian pulp fiction Sexton Blake, but when the BBC were unable to get the rights to Blake, they changed the character's name and turned him into a generic adventure hero.
  • In The Adventures of Superboy, a super strong alien woman named Neila, who pursued Superboy romantically, appeared to be an ersatz version of the comics' Maxima.
  • Game Show Network's America Says is essentially an ersatz Family Feud (the Harvey edition runs on GSN as well) in that two teams reveal responses to national surveys. The manner in which the team members reveal the responses on America Says owes a little to Pass the Buck, a short-lived CBS game from 1978.
  • Birds of Prey (2002) had Darkstrike, a thinly-veiled Nightwing wannabe. Subverted when he turns out to be a Corrupted Character Copy.
  • Black Mirror: Princess Susannah from the first episode is intended to be the Duchess of Cambridge, being a young royal and focus of public interest while not actual adoration.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Whistler, who appeared in the Season Two two-part finale was supposed to be a main character on the spinoff Angel. Since the actor who played Whistler was unavailable at the time, the very similar character Allen Francis Doyle was created instead.
    • Warren was an unusual example. In his first appearance in Season 5, Warren created problems by being misguided and irresponsible, but he was far from villainous, unlike Tucker who was entitled, homicidal, and not remotely sympathetic. Tucker was originally planned to be the most evil member of the trio, but Tucker's actor was unavailable, so they just put Warren in his place, gave him Tucker's personality, and acted as if he had always been that way.
  • Casualty and Holby City get away with having a Lady Gaga one – who, unlike the real thing, dresses fairly plain-Jane, so to speak.
  • Chuck: The BuyMore is clearly a Best Buy or Circuit City stand-in. Likewise, the Nerd Herd division of the store spoofs Best Buy's Geek Squad division.
  • In Community, Britta introduces Abed to long running British series Inspector Spacetime, which is a Captain Ersatz of Doctor Who with a constable instead of a companion, red telephone booth instead of a blue police call box and Blorgons instead of Daleks. Wordof God says that in-universe, Doctor Who is a ripoff of Inspector Spacetime.
  • Comparisons between Al Swearengen of Deadwood and Silas Benjamin of Kings are pretty inevitable: Both are played in the same highflown style by Ian MacShane; both are amoral and ruthless in attempting to maintain their grip on power but affectionate to those close to them, and both have a tendency to slip into lofty monologues. Except for their different wardrobes and Silas' network-mandated inability to curse like Swearengen, they're essentially the same character portrayed by the same actor.
  • On A Different World, having lost her job, Whitley is forced to work as a waitress at "The International Cottage of Flapjacks", clearly a ripoff of "The International House of Pancakes".
  • In The Event, the President and his right-hand man are Palmer and Novick.
  • Get Smart had a few examples:
    • Comedian Joey Forman played a Charlie Chan-based one called "Harry Hoo" on more than one occasion.
    • Several one-off villains were also ersatzen; Wheelchair-bound mastermind Leadside was based on Ironside (1967), Yellow Peril caricature Dr. Yes was based on Dr. No, etc.
    • And Smart got his own, B. Wise, in an episode of F Troop.
  • Gotham has two characters who are the Joker in all but name, due to the show's decision to treat the character as a decomposite character. The first, Jerome Valeska, is a teenager raised in the circus who is first put in Arkham for killing his mother and has become an Ax-Crazy, laughably evil monster clown by the time he escapes Arkham at the age of eighteen. His identical twin brother, Jeremiah, at first looks like Jerome's good counterpart, and is already a precocious but relatively harmless intellectual by the time he's in his early twenties. That is until Jerome makes sure that he is driven insane with his laughing gas after he dies, turning him into the show's true version of the Joker. Jeremiah is an even more terrifying opponent than Jerome, a Crazy-Prepared, obsessive madman who only incorporates the Joker's characteristic deadly humor into his crimes after undergoing several painful chemical transformations that lead to extreme sanity slippage. By the series finale, he has finally completed his transformation into the Joker, though he hasn't yet started going by that name.
  • The BBC had an example combined with The Danza in the case of 1970s Brit Com Happy Ever After. When its creator decided that it had run for long enough, he declined to write any more episodes and eventually jumped ship, retaining the rights to the show's format. So the BBC took the central couple from Happy Ever After, changed their surname and character bios, put them in another suburban house, and carried on from there. Terry Fletcher (Terry Scott) and his wife June (June Whitfield) became Terry and June Medford in the imaginatively-named Terry and June. If that wasn't enough, the characters Terry and June are near-identical expies of Ron and Vera Baines, the couple that Scott and Whitfield played in the feature film version of earlier suburban Britcom Bless This House.
  • On It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Philly Phrenetic in the World Series episode is an obvious one for the Philadelphia Phillies' real-life mascot, the Phillie Phanatic. It's even lampshaded by Charlie at the end of the episode, when he complains about having to call him the "Phrenetic" instead of "Phanatic" to avoid getting sued by Major League Baseball.
  • One of the recurring characters of Lazy Company is an ersatz Captain America – "I'm the Patriot, but call me 'Captain'." He's a Super-Soldier Nice Guy whom even the resident grouch can't help but find likable.
  • LazyTown: Ziggy's regular outfit is reminiscent of Superman. In the first play, it was a Superman costume outright.
  • Lois & Clark:
    • Intergang is run by the feuding father and son Bill Church Sr and Jr, who have a Front Organisation with a TV company called Multiworld Communications. They're Captain Ersatzes of the comic book's Vinnie and Morgan Edge, who run Intergang behind the facade of Galaxy Broadcasting.
    • Lord Nor, the arrogant, bearded, English-accented Kryptonian warlord in Season 4, is more than a little reminiscent of General Zod (specifically Terence Stamp's version).
  • The Mentalist has done this with the entire premise of Psych. Gleefully lampshaded in many episodes of Psych:
    Shawn: You've seen The Mentalist, right?
    Canadian Cop: Yes.
    Shawn: It's like that.
    Gus: Except that guy's a fake.
    Shawn: Right, if I was a fake psychic it would be eerily similar.
    Gus: Exactly the same.
    Shawn: A virtual carbon copy.
  • In the At the Earth's Core episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Jonah builds a new robot, Growler, a super chill, easy-going musician programmed to take everything in stride with a very familiar muppet voice. The other bots react with hatred toward the newcomer. Jonah's response is bafflement and he straight up admits he was invoking this trope.
    Jonah: He's basically Rowlf the Dog from The Muppets! Who could hate Rowlf the Dog?
  • Parodied in Psychoville when in a pantomime production of Snow White, the director has to remind his cast that they changed the names of the dwarves (to "Prof", "Blusher", "Sniffy", "Smiler", "Snoozer", "Grumbly" and "Loopy") so as to avoid being sued by Disney.
  • In 1961, Goodson-Todman created a Captain Ersatz of its own show The Price Is Right with Say When!!, which had two contestants selecting items from a pool of merchandise and trying to not go over a target value. In turn, 1975's Give-N-Take was an ersatz Say When!! with a spinning arrow. When G-T revived The Price Is Right in 1972 for CBS and nighttime syndication, they turned it into an ersatz Let's Make a Deal.
  • Rhyme and Reason, an ABC game show from 1975, was a Captain Ersatz of CBS's Match Game in that it had two contestants trying to match words (the rhyming word of a poem) with a panel of six celebrities.
  • Smallville had Captain Ersatzes for a shockingly-large number of DC characters. Gloria was Poison Ivy, Vordigan the Dark Archer was Merlyn, Pete Ross ended up becoming a Captain Ersatz of Plastic Man (or Jimmy Olsen as Elastic Lad)...the list goes on and on. One episode even had Lois cosplaying as an in-universe Captain Ersatz of Wonder Woman!
    • That same episode had a boy transformed by a magic comic book into Warrior Angel. Whereas Warrior Angel was always an Expy of Superman (with his nemesis Devilicus as an Expy for Lex), this "Warrior Angel" was a clear one of Captain Marvel.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was created with the intent to include Michelle Forbes' recurring character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ro Laren, but the actress declined to star as a regular in the series. So the character of Kira Nerys was created as a near-identical substitute (abrasive personality, lack of trust in Starfleet). This was tried again for Voyager and again Michelle Forbes refused, so instead they created the Klingon-human Maquis member B'Elanna Torres.
  • And Star Trek: Voyager went as far as to cast the actor who had played Nicholas Locarno in TNG's "The First Duty" before changing the character's name to Tom Paris and altering his backstory to be more sympathetic. Though Wordof God has flip-flopped on whether this was done because Locarno was unrepentant and therefore unsympathetic, or because they didn't want to have to pay royalties to the writer of "The First Duty". There has been fanfiction written that attempts to reconcile this by making them the same person.
  • This music video is not only a cover of Britney Spears' song Lucky, but the video is also a pastiche of Super Sentai – and the Humongous Mecha is most definitely NOT Mazinger Z.
  • ''Supernatural: Dean was originally supposed to be rescued from hell by Constantine himself, but they couldn't get the rights so they created an angel who dresses exactly like Constantine and, in early appearances, has a lot of his personality in Castiel.
  • Ten Items Or Less has a parody of this trope where the characters create a "Star Trok" Convention with "Blingons and Blomulans" (and Special Guest Jolene Blalock) so they don't get sued by Paramount.
  • Parodied on 30 Rock when Jenna intends to star in a biopic about Janis Joplin, but because of legal issues, the pic will be about a Janis Joplin facsimile called Jackie Jormp-Jomp.
  • The Tick (2001) replaced Die Fledermaus and American Maid, who were in the animated cartoon but not the original comic book, with Bat Manuel and Captain Liberty.
  • Tomorrow's Pioneers has the really-not-a-Mickey Mouse-rip-off Farfur. However, the extremely controversial subject matter did draw Disney's attention to Farfur's ersatzen nature.
  • The tenth episode of the original 1966 Ultraman gave us "Jirass", a giant reptilian Kaiju who was essentially Godzilla in all but name—right down to being played by Haruo Nakajima himself. To their credit, Tsubaraya Productions at least gave Jirass a neck frill to obscure the fact that his rubber suit actually was an old Godzilla costume borrowed from Toho Studios. Then they proceeded to have Ultraman rip off said neck frill in the course of the fight. Essentially, if you've ever wanted to see an unofficial Godzilla/Ultraman crossover, watch this episode.

  • The Yardbirds' 1966 song "Stroll On", is this of their version of "The Train Kept A Rollin'". The maker of the movie Blow Up wanted to use "The Train Kept A Rollin'" for the soundtrack, but there were legal issues preventing it from being released outside the US. As a result they recorded the blatant copy "Stroll On" for the soundtrack, under the guise of it being an original song. The song became quite popular and appeared on a number of compilations.
  • Iced Earth's Cast In Stone is Written On The Walls with new lyrics and reduced instrumentation, as Gene Adam (who wrote these parts) did not allow the band to use them. However apart from this, the backing track is identical to the original version. It is debated amongst fans if this constitutes a new song or not.
  • The music videos for Cassius' "1999" and "Feeling For You" feature an ersatz of Deadman.



    Pro Wrestling 
  • In the 1950s, Judy Glover was so popular that when Buddy Lee found a woman who looked like her, she was hired with the ring name Judy Grable on the hopes fans would think Grable was Glover...and it worked! Whether or not they were fooled, they liked Grable enough to not complain.
  • In the 1960s, Jack Pfefer's heavy use of this trope nearly killed off the Chicago territory when he was the promoter. He was largely responsible for launching the career of Buddy Rogers, so dubbing a look alike Bummy Rogers was clearly his right. Everyone loves Bobo Brazil? Love Hobo Brazil! Want to see Bruno Sammartino? He's got Bruno Sanmartino.
  • WCW had several examples:
    • Arachniman, who is not like Spider-Man at all.
    • Ray Lloyd was dressed up as the not-quite-Sub-Zero wrestler Glacier (a character who has since popped up in CHIKARA, making for a better fit).
    • For awhile WCW had a lot of expies of celebrities wrestling, which created a bunch of strange dream fights. For instance it is unlikely that Prince would ever have fought Liberace, but now you can see what it would have looked like with The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea and The Maestro.
    • There was a late 80s/early 90s jobber named "Randy Hogan" who had Hulk Hogan's signature bald scalp with blond hair wrapped around and even the fu-manchu.
    • Johnny B. Badd baby, whooo! His theme music even included the lyrics "He looks just like Little Richard".
  • The Friday the 13th movie character Jason Voorhees got into the act as well.
    • The first was Jason The Terrible (Karl "Butch" Moffatt), a creation of Bruce Hart in the dying days of the old Stampede Wrestling promotion in Calgary in the late 1980s, with his manager the Zodiac (Barry Orton- Randy's uncle) under a mask, and who can be seen here. There have been several other wrestlers who have done the Jason gimmick since.
    • He's not the only one. Memphis gave us Tommy Gilbert as "Nightmare Freddy". His son Doug later wrestled as Freddy Krueger in the hardcore Japanese promotion W*ING, with his brother Eddie as Michael Myers.
    • The Japanese hardcore wrestling promotion FMW, among others, had "Leatherface", sometimes changed to Super Leather.
  • The Road Warrior's Humungus gave birth to wrestling's various "Lord Humongous"es, and more famous wrestlers like Sid Eudy and Barry "Bull" Buchanan have spent time behind the hockey mask. The gimmick endures on in the indies today with many small-time wrestlers using it, although the more out-of-shape incarnations (of which there are many) tend to wear full jumpsuits that make them look more like Jason Voorhees, rather than the leather straps of the original. The promos hyping the first Lord Humongous (in Jerry Lawler's Memphis territory) certainly didn't try to hide the fact that they were cashing in on The Road Warrior.
  • Pro Wrestling Guerilla, All Pro Wrestling, Ultimate Pro, the New Japan Dojo and many others have showcased The Human Tornado, who is a walking fan sequel to Dolemite.
  • Carlito Caribbean Cool began on Smackdown basically as Razon Ramon, but shorter. Before then, Carly had many different gimmicks which were much different.
  • The Aces And Eights stable in TNA is a wrestling version of Sons of Anarchy, right down to their attires, logos, and music being inspired by said series.
  • On November 23rd, 2013, NWA member Vendetta Pro presented a rematch nearly 30 years in the making at its Final Level event. Bruce Leroy vs The Shogun of Harlem (Jimi Mayhem) They did get the actual Bruce Leroy though.
  • In the mid-80's, Dick the Bruiser's WWA promotion had a wrestler from Memphis who had a goatee and wore a single-strap singlet. His name was Gary Lawler. Gee, that sounds familiar ....
  • SMW had Brian Hildebrand as Kowabunga Ninja Turtle.
  • The original 2000-2001 run of WOW Women of Wrestling had The Beach Patrol (Summer and Sandy), Tanja Warrior Woman and Jane Blonde.

  • BBV Productions' Audio Adventures in Time & Space, starring Sylvester McCoy as "The Dominie" (originally "the Professor") and Sophie Aldred as "Alice" (originally "Ace"), Ersatzes of Doctor Who's Seventh Doctor and Ace (also played by McCoy and Aldred) actually attracted enough attention from the BBC that they had to hurriedly makes some characterization changes, including the new names. (Note that Ace always called the Doctor "Professor"). Another line of BBV audios starred Nicholas Briggs (who had previously played the Doctor in non-commercial fan audio plays) as the Wanderer.
  • For a long time, Big Finish Doctor Who wasn't allowed to use any characters, monsters or Doctors who appear exclusively in the 2005 Retool series, so resorts to this on occasion:
    • Genre Shift Brit Com episode "The Kingmaker" featured references to an unseen character who was described by the other characters as having "big ears" (clearly supposed to be the Ninth Doctor).
    • The New Eighth Doctor Adventures had been leading slowly up to a big, cataclysmic event involving Daleks, which is very likely the Time War from the revival series, but never called as such due to license issues. Once Big Finish got the rights to use Nu-Who concepts, the subtext rapidly became text.
  • In the late 80s and 90s, every major US city that didn't air The Howard Stern Show had a Howard Stern Imitator at some point. Mark & Brian (LA), Lex & Terry (Dallas), Paul & Young Ron (Miami), and Opie and Anthony(Boston) were the biggest. When the Stern Show would enter their markets, very often locals listening for the first time thought he was the imitator of them and just had a black (or female, since not everyone realized Robin Quivers is Black) sidekick.
  • That Gosh Darn Hippie Show: Anthony is pretty clearly just Anthony Fremont without the hatred of electronics and singing, complete with sending people to the cornfield.

  • Open Blue has "Kukulu", a Super-Deformed copy of Cthulhu, as one of its Powers That Be. He also happens to be their Series Mascot.
  • NoPixel has Carl Crimes, an expy of Carl Grimes from The Walking Dead. He's even played by Carl's actor Chandler Riggs, and his criminal mugshot is a headshot of Carl from the TV show.
  • The Nonsensical RP: John Cryptograph is visibly intended to be a parody of Bill Cipher, with his last name being a synonym of Bill's last name and being described as a square with one eye and a top hat.
    Left Hand: Seriously?! We came all this way and the final boss is a BILL CIPHER RIPOFF?!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutants & Masterminds:
    • The primary setting, Freedom City, is filled with Captain Ersatzes of the characters from Astro City, who in turn are mostly obvious equivalents for famous DC and Marvel superheroes. The Freedom City sourcebook even hangs a lampshade on this by ending with art of a road sign that reads, "You are now leaving Freedom City, please drive carefully", mimicking the ending tag from the Astro City comics.
    • In a picture in the 3E Hero's Handbook, there's even a character wearing a shirt that says "Ersatz" on the front; this character is a villain who is even named "Ersatz" who has the power to transform into a twisted copy of anyone.
    • The Halt Evil Doer! setting likewise mixes and matches, with the main heroes being Superman with Martian Manhunter elements, Dick Grayson if his promotion to Batman stuck, and Wonder Woman Only More So, but the superhero team they're members of otherwise being closer to the Avengers.
    • Rogue Genius's Superpowered Legends series of character books is very blatantly this, with the slogan "Because sometimes what you need is a character everyone will recognize, even if they’ve never met her before". Mostly Marvel characters (the young spider-hero Recluse, the armoured playboy Spartan, the explorer family Challengers, etc,), sometimes with a twist (Pendragon is a British woman, but still a World War II hero with a shield who spent years in suspended animation), they've also pastiched Marvel pastiching DC (the Moon Knight and Gladiator counterparts form Legend's Finest) they've since adopted other sources from the Powerpuff Girls to Cerebus the Aardvark.
  • Champions has many far too many to list: Defender = Iron Man, Doctor Destroyer = Doctor Doom (or occasionally Apocalypse), Foxbat = the silver age Joker. It also has Ersatz cities: Hudson City = Gotham, Millennium City = Metropolis.
  • Heroes Unlimited states that one of the goals behind making the game was to allow players, if they wished, to make characters based on their favorite superheroes from the comics. While it doesn't flat out tell you how to, the names of various superpowers make it pretty obvious (and easy) to make, for example, a Wolverinenote  or Spider-Mannote  clone.
  • Looking for 1980s cartoon Captain Ersatzes, then you won't be surprised that Cartoon Action Hour has more than its fair share. For I.E, the Black Widow from "Strikeforce Freedom" is a blonde version of The Baroness from G.I. Joe.
  • The Inception card game guest starring "Joker", "Avatar", "Lord of War", "Black Swan", "Paprika", "Martyr", and "Space Queen".
  • GURPS Illuminati University: One of the university department heads is The Doctor with the serial numbers very lightly sanded off.
  • The Swedish superhero game Supergänget (published in English as Supercrew) features some among their quick examples – The Weasel (Wolverine, but female), The Tomani (The Incredible Hulk with a Shout-Out to children's author Christine Nöstlinger) and Tapir Man (Rhino, and being a caricature of a friend of the author), among others.
  • The card game Sentinels of the Multiverse features homages to several well-known comic book characters, like Legacy (Superman), the Wraith (a female Batman), Tempest (Aquaman with hints of the Martian Manhunter) and Ra (Thor).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Various members of the D&D pantheon are based on deities from fantasy fiction.
    • Some D&D deities are based on deities from old mythologies. The game writers didn't need to get any rights; this is all public domain! However, it is possible the writers felt that creating their own analogue deities would give them more freedom and avoid making D&D look like a neopagan cult.
      • Kord, a Chaotic Good Boisterous Bruiser deity, resembles Thor in many respects.
      • Obad-hai, True Neutral nature god, right down to his holy symbol, is a dead ringer for the Anglo-Saxon "Green Man" figure.
      • Ehlonna, Chaotic Good goddess of hunters and fey creatures, has a fair bit in common with Artemis.
      • Mielikki, Neutral Good goddess of forests in the Forgotten Realms setting, may also draw from Artemis, but for the most part was taken straight from Finnish Mythology.
      • Chaotic Neutral Olidamarra is a classic Trickster Archetype, in the vein of the Native North American Coyote spirit, or a pre-Face–Heel Turn Loki, while his Neutral Evil counterpart Mask resembles later versions of Loki.
      • Averted by Thrym, Chaotic Evil god of frost giants, who is named for an actual frost giant from a Norse myth.
      • Also averted by most of the fiendish overlords, who are named explicitly for the demonized deities that inspired them – Asmodeus, Moloch, Bel, Pazuzu, Dagon, Dispater, etc.
      • Nobanion the lion god is rather unabashedly one to Aslan, at least when first concieved; very early material mentioning him outright states that one of his many names is in fact Aslan. The same texts stated that he's an interloper deity who arrived in Faerun via a forest full of magical portals (a reference to the Wood Between Worlds from the The Magician's Nephew) and that he's a major deity on his home world. Later material seems to have backed off on this angle, though his backstory as an interloper deity has remained unchanged.
    • The barbarian class basically exists so you can play a Conan the Barbarian stand-in, while the ranger class was created for people who wanted to be Aragorn or Legolas. And then there's all the people playing Drizzt clones.
    • The displacer beast is a monster that is almost but not quite a direct rename of the couerl, an alien from A.E. van Vogt's science fiction (whose appearance in The Voyage of the Space Beagle also inspired Alien, to keep the borrowing going).
    • The Ravenloft setting features many Captain Ersatzes of the Monster Mash:
      • Count Strahd von Zarovich: Count Dracula.
      • Dr Victor Mordenheim and Adam: Dr Frankenstein and the Creature.
      • Duke Tristen Hiregaard and Malken: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (originally even closer, but that version is Canon Discontinuity).
      • Dr Rudolph van Richten: Dr Abraham van Helsing.
  • Count Mordrek the Damned from Warhammer is a Captain Ersatz of recurring villain Gaynor the Damned from various Michael Moorcock works.
  • Keeper cards in Star Fluxx include Cute Fuzzy Alien Creature (totally not a Tribble), Intergalactic Travel Guide ("Remain Calm" not "Don't Panic"), Expendable Crewman (whose shirt happens to be red), Energy Crystals (not dilithium). Curiously, the Goal cards are less coy: We're Lost In Space (Malfunction + Stars), Forty-Two, It's Full of Stars, I'm Depressed (Travel Guide + Robot), Seeking New Civilizations, Lasers on Stun!, "He's Dead, Captain", These Aren't the Droids... (Robot + Unseen Force), The Power of the Dark Side (Unseen Force + Evil), No Trouble At All (Cute Fuzzy Alien Creature + Teleport Chamber), Star Warriors (Unseen Force + Laser Sword).
  • Victory Games's James Bond 007 RPG used these in some places – SPECTRE became TAROT, and Ernst Stavro Blofeld became "Karl Ferenc Skorpios".
  • Pathfinder and 13th Age could not use the mind flayers from Dungeons & Dragons as they are not included in the material under the Open Gaming License. Pathfinder used neothelidsnote  and intellect devourers (which were open content), and later the third-party phrenic scourge from Dreamscarred Press (not originally from D&D, unlike the previous two) to fill the role, while 13th Age went with "soul flensers" instead.
  • Also occurs with some of Pathfinder's alternate class archetypes. While most of Pathfinder's character options are inspired by preexisting fictional archetypes to some degree (such as the Swashbuckler, Phantom Thief, or Magical Child), in some cases this gets pretty specific. The Shield Champion fights just like Captain America, the Sleepless Detective Prestige Class and most variations of the Investigator are blatant Sherlock Homages, the Master Chymist Prestige Class was based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Brute archetype for the Vigilante class is obviously The Incredible Hulk without the gamma radiation.
  • Sig Manual Of The Primes is set in a cosmology of interlocking planes based on elements and concepts. In the centre is Sig itself, the multiversal trading city, with byzantine politics and Möbius strip-shaped geography. It's not exactly Sigil, but it's not exactly not Sigil either.
  • In the Pyramid magazine "Campaign in a Box" Yrth-2, the eponymous planet has mysteriously trapped multiple groups from different possible futures (i.e. science fiction settings). The opening vignette features the starship Venture, with a crew comprising Captain Church (synonym for "Kirk"), Science Officer Grayson (Spock's mother's name), Helmsman Hikaru (Sulu's first name), Dr Hatfield (as in Hatfields and McCoys) Communications Officer Nyota (Uhura's first name), Navigation Officer Andrei (Chekov's middle name) and Chief Engineer Monty (Scotty's first name). Another faction is a 2074 M*A*S*H unit whose unofficial leader is basically Hawkeye Pierce with nanotech.
  • Ponyfinder:
    • Most of the deities of the corebook are clearly based on the fan-accepted "gods" of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic cast; Sun Queen (Princess Celestia), Moon Princess (Princess Luna), Princess Luminace (Twilight Sparkle), the Night Mare (Nightmare Moon), the Unspoken (Discord), and Kara (Queen Chrysalis).
    • The Steelheart race are basically Eberron's Warforged in pony shape.
    • Doppelgangers are based more off of Eberron's Changelings than the show's, though the Doppelganger mini-splatbook makes them more like their show counterparts, including noting that Kara devotees turned into doppelgangers resemble the insecto-equines of the show.

  • James Comtois' play Colorful World in turn employs second generation Captain Ersatzes of the Watchmen characters: Overman, Ramses, Tigress, Johnny Patriot, Peacekeeper...
  • Dog Sees God is, of course, not in any way connected to the Peanuts comic strip, though the characters are CB, CB's Sister, Van, Van's Sister, Beethoven...
  • Many Chuckle Brothers live shows feature captain Ersatzes, parodying sagas such as Harry Potter and Indiana Jones. The most notable example though is 'Doctor What and the Return of the Garlics' which features daleks whose top halves have been replaced with giant garlic bulbs.

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights: Universal tends to sneak certain IPs into the event by referring to them as something more generic. For instance; in 2003, before the event actually featured them for real, Universal had Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Myers together in a house called All Nite Die-In by having the casting sheets list them as "Nightmare Man", "Hockey Mask Killer", "Chainsaw Cannibal", and so on. This method hasn't always worked, however; in 2006 Universal got in trouble with the copyright holders of The Ring for sneaking a scene of the movie into the All Nite Die-In Take Two house from that year.
  • The robot statue Tian-xiang-er-hao of Floraland, Sichuan, China, especially before its redesign, strongly resembles Gundam.

  • Alien-Man is an Alien ersatz. Because he dared to dream, and never stopped believing.
  • Nightmare Feddy is an A Nightmare on Elm Street ersatz.
  • Mighty Car, featuring a giant Mr. T wielding an axe and a machine gun, is a The A-Team ersatz.
  • Batman:
    • Bat Hero Companion is an ersatz of Batman.
    • Batichica is a Batman ersatz.
    • Power Mans Invincible Troop Warfare features Power Rangers and Spider-Man on the packaging, but it's really about five Batmans.
    • Power Rangers in Space features an all-neon Batman team.
  • Power Mice is a Biker Mice from Mars ersatz.
  • Challenge Of The Go Bots has an ersatz toy titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Dragoonball is a Dragon Ball Z ersatz.
  • Futuristic Galactic Man is an ersatz of Robocop.
  • Spook Chasers is a Ghostbusters ersatz.
  • Guerreros del Espacio and Heroes del Espacio are an ersatz of He-Man.
  • Power, the superior powered thunderbolt overlord top king, is an ersatz of the The Incredible Hulk.
  • Superman Spy Crew is an ersatz of The Incredibles.
  • Total Justice, and the reissue, Hall of Fame, feature an ersatz Justice League of America.
  • SuperMan is a Kamen Rider Ryuki ersatz.
  • Mouse and Friends is an ersatz Mickey Mouse.
  • Angel Invincibility Super Design 3 and Rob-Ots Super Hero are ersatzes of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
  • VeriAble Uncanny Embryo HoRRiBLE is an ersatz of Mothra.
  • Filly Princess, Filly Witchy, Fun Lovely Pony, Fun Neddy Lovely, Lovely Horse, Lovely Pony, Magic Lovely Pony, My Funny, My Funny Pony, My Little Pegasus, My Lovely Horse, My Lovely Horses, My Lovely Merry, My Pony, My Sweet Pony, Playful Pony, Pony Playset, Pony Princess, Pretty Pony, and Set Funny Pony are ersatzes of My Little Pony.
  • Playmobil has almost crossed the line a few times in its "Fi?ures" theme, which features some rather close-or almost identical-resemblances, such as "not-Aeon Flux", "not- Sue Sylvester from Glee", "not-Lara Croft from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", "not-Lady Gaga", and "not-Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty". Captain Ersatzes of Queen Elsa and Catwoman appear in Series 9.
  • Pet's Little Intelligent Spirit, Pocket Monica Jump-Jupm Chess, Politic Pat, and Prodigy Pet are ersatzes of Pokémon.
  • Abaranger, Dual Face Fighter, Dragon Warrior Aba Force, Dragon Gaoranger, Elite Ranger Xtreme, Elite Xtreme, Galaxy Heroes, Gransazers, Imaginary Racer, Magic Evil Ranger, Mega Rangers, Mighty Ranger, Ninja Rangers, Power Force, Power RangerO: Lost Galaxy, Raptor Storm, Sonic Ranger, Steel Warrior Super Power, Super Change Fierce Beasts Robot, Super Pirate Force, Super Rangers, Super Rangers Magic Force, Super Robotic Rangers, Super Team, Super Warrior Ninja Force, Super X Robot, and X-Treme Super Samurai are ersatzes of Power Rangers.
  • Robert Cop 3 is an ersatz of Robocop.
  • Annie Pretty Sailor, Beauty Fighters, Beauty Soldier Shirley Moore, Beauty Warrior, Fly Dancer, Galaxy Girl, Kapuha, Meteor Girl, Petit Soldier Sailormoon, Planet Girl, Pretty Girl, Sailorbike, Sailor Cute, Sailor Mary, Sailor Sweetie, Super Girl, and Young Beauty Flower Angel are ersatzes of Sailor Moon.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spader-Man is an ersatz Spider-Man. Spader-Man Unmatched features an ersatz Deadpool.
    • Flying Ranger features winged figures with a Spider-Man pattern.
    • Super Heroes features a five Spider-Man team.
    • In prone position, a Spider-Man ersatz aims an M4 rifle — Come on enjoy the pleasure together!
  • Galaxy Cop, Galaxy Empire, Galaxy War, Robots Spacebot, Space Defender, Space Power Warrior, Space Warrior, Space Wars, Star Attack, Star Knight, Star Raiders, Starswar, Star Wars Super Bricks Series, Stick Bang, and Universal War are ersatzes of Star Wars.
  • Street Warrior is an ersatz of Street Fighter.
  • Superman:
    • Specialman is a a Superman ersatz.
    • Superheroic Man is a Superman ersatz, with whip and stallion.
    • The Gulliver Juguetes Super Powers Collection featured Captain Lightning or Captain Ray/El Capitan Rayo, closely resembling Superman.
  • Amicable Herculean, Courageous Righteous, Dancing Turtle, Fighting Action Turtles, Gundam S Destiny, Heroes of the World Fighter, Justice Fighters, Karate Turtles Master, Karate Turtles Warriors, Las Fantasticas Tortugas, Las Tortugas Ninja, New Style Ninja Tortoise, Ninja Fighters, Ninja Frog, Ninja Hero Rider Galloping Horse, Super Dino Force, Super Ninja, Teenage Mutant Ninja Tubtles, TMNT: Back to the Sewer featuring Buzz and Woody, Teenage Mutant Ninja Tortoise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vs Electric Robocop, Turly Gang Turly Fighters — Fighters for Freedom!, Turtles Fighters, Turtles: New Collection, Turtle Warrior City Hero, Tus Heroes en Accion Tortugas Guerreras, Lego-like Ninja Turtle and Ninja Tortoises, Ninja Reptiles Weapons accessories, the Turtle Telephone, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Gun with unbeatable recoil action, and the Little Pluckies Ninja Protects gun are ersatzes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Funny Toys is an ersatz of Teletubbies.
  • Terminate and Destroy is an ersatz of Terminator.
  • Space Boys 3 is a Toy Story ersatz.
  • Transformers:
    • Japanese recolors of Convoy (Optimus Prime) are sometimes called Ginrai, a completely different character. This is not sarcasm as Ginrai is, in fact, his own Autobot much like how the Seekers Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp are different.
    • 3rd party Transformers, unofficial Transformers toys not made by Hasbro that barely skirt around IP infringement by giving them different names. (their appearance remains evocative of their official counterpart, however.) However, these aren't a case Shoddy Knockoff Product or Serial Numbers Filed Off. 3rd party toys are engineered from the ground up, generally have no budget limitations, and are made by fans with the intent of creating toys of characters that Hasbro can't/won't make.
    • McDonald's "Changeables" Happy Meal toys were not Transformers. They did not transform — they changed.
    • Knight Rider Becames Robert is a bootleg Transformer based on Challenge Of The Go Bots.
    • The Transformers ersatz Transmogrifiers.
  • X-Team is an ersatz of X-Men.
  • CrossOvers:
  • Jurassic Park gets this in spades every time a film with a new prominent dinosaur is released. Toy companies can’t use the franchise name (outside of W Dragon and and Rebor who got licenses) but it doesn’t stop them from pumping out lookalikes. Raptors with blue stripes on each side or oversized black raptors with gold stripes, filled Dilophosaurs, and large white carnivores similar to the Indominus are most common. Some companies do straight up use the character names which isn’t this trope but in most cases it happens because dinosaurs aren’t the easiest things to copyright now that the “J.P. mark” of the 90s is gone.

    Web Animation 
  • ATTACK on MIKA: Shiori Choko, an exchange student, is basically Shinobu Kocho as a high schooler.
  • Parodied in the animation BLONIC by Ukino Joe:
  • Doctor Octogonapus, not Doctor Octopus, from The Lazer Collection.
  • Princess Potato from Sonic for Hire is a parody. She says she comes from the Mario knockoff game, "Super Italian Laborer Town".
  • An Arab company once stole some character designs from South Park. No, we're not talking about the Kuwaiti knockoff Block 13; the Arab company in question is a YouTube channel for kids called Toyor Baby TV, and this is the video where they used the stolen designs in question. It's supposed to be a song about water conservation, but it's pretty hard not to ignore the characters who are pretty blatantly South Park characters such as Stan and Butters (also, what does South Park of all things have to do with teaching children water conservation anyway?). At least Block 13 changed the character designs so that, while they're blatant copies, they're still less blatant than in Toyor Baby TV's video, where literally the only change made to the characters is that they're given slightly different color schemes.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Anyone who writes for The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive is forced to use this trope in their fiction. See, Warner Bros. slammed the site with legal threats in 1998 due to fan fiction on the site that used their characters. The site's webmaster deleted almost every single fanfic from the site and hasn't accepted any new fanfics since. Only four fanfics survive on the site to this day, but three of them are Star Trek, and the fourth one is The X-Files, both franchises that are not owned by Warner. Also, all four fics are legacy; they date from before 1998. To that effect, in the stories labeled "CB: Comic Book Superhero" and "SF: Science Fiction", you'll probably see characters that look exactly like Wonder Woman and Captain Picard, but have completely different names. There are several other kinds of fiction banned from the site; however, on the official forums, there's a link to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine that you can use to get at the deleted stories.
  • Englishman uses blatant spoonerised names of any real life individuals who appear.
  • Quite common in Original Slash. Shousetsu Bang* Bang, an original yaoi magazine on LiveJournal, even has this as one of its rules – "If you're hung up on characters that don't belong to you, change their names and details, AU them, and the Editor will be happy to think of you as one of those people who always draw their seme to look like Youko Kurama".
  • Also, Celsan Automotive LLC on NationStates, who appear to be a sort of copy or Homage to Nissan, Holden, Peugeot, Opel, Chevrolet in one. Possibly an Expy too.
  • Less Than Three Comics is practically made of this trope. From Uncle Sam (Captain America) to Thunderbolt (Thor) to The Shadow (Batman).
  • Whateley Universe authors like doing this as spoofs. At Whateley Academy the team The Vindicators is definitely the classic Avengers, with Kismet for the Scarlet Witch, Donner as a dopey Thor, Captain Canada! as Captain America, Donner as Thor, Dynamaxx as Iron Man, Lemure as The Vision, and Sizemax as Giant-Man. And Elite League are all ersatzes of the animated Justice League seven. The Good Ol' Boyz are a parody too, but not of a superhero team.
  • Curveball has several: Liberty for Captain America, Gladiator for Ozymandias, and Farraday City for Basin City.
  • Heart In Hand started as a Real-Person Fic about famous hockey players Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin having a Secret Relationship but when the fic grew unexpectedly popular outside of the hockey RPF fandom with readers who didn't know that Crosby and Ovechkin were real people, the author changed the characters' names and teams to make it more accessible. It's still quite obvious to hockey-knowledgeable readers just who the Canadian hockey prodigy named "Darryl Colton" and his rambunctious Russian rival named "Aleksey Kuznetsov" really are, however.
  • The Big Bad of The New Narnia, the Nanny bares a few resemblances to Mathair from The New Hansel And Gretel; both are Reality Warpers who prey on the protagonists — as they have done with others for years — with the intention of turning them into babies, the protagonists needing to outsmart them or else be infantilized forever.
  • As with fanfiction, pornographic fanartists (usually ones who are either afraid of being or have been Screwed by the Lawyers) will sometimes continue to create porn of legally contentious characters by claiming they are original creations. Some take these "original characters" and give them slight alterations in appearance in a way where it's still obvious who they're based on, while more brazen ones have outright reused the exact same character designs, slapping a new slightly-different name on them and calling it a day.
  • The Primagen was a robotic furry species created by Malice-risu, who he would often sell OCs and commissions of for upwards of thousands of dollars. This species blew up in popularity, until eventually he conceded to demands and allowed another, nearly identical species to be made, which anyone could use for free; the Protogen. While the Primagen has mostly faded into obscurity, the Protogen would go on to be a staple of furry art and literature.

    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd has spawned possibly enough imitators on YouTube to start a list. Noteworthy mentions include The Irate Gamer and Game Dude.
  • Speaking of The Irate Gamer, one of his recurring characters is Wilkins, who is Wilson from Home Improvement in all but (similar) name. He actually debuted as Wilson in the review of Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!, appropriately enough.
  • Third Rate Gamer has Billy, an obvious parody of Irate Gamer's side character Tony, complete with a dumb nonsensical catchphrase and being represented by a sprite taken from a browser-based MMORPG (Runescape rather than MapleStory here). TRG also makes fun of the part where IG messes up Wilson's name.
  • Ever since Marble Hornets came up with totheark, nearly every single Slender Man-related blog/video series has had a similar character.
  • Noob has one of Jack Sparrow, who, like his original, insists he's a captain despite the lack of a crew or even a boat. His appearances have him completely lost and looking for a special compass.
  • Over the course of a few episodes of Analog Control the hosts attempt to reference Cool Cat Saves the Kids, but instead refer to "Fun Feline", created not by Derek Savage, but by "Dick Ravage". These were recorded around the time Derek Savage got very aggressive about flagging Cool Cat related criticism.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ersatz


Chester A. Bum Spoofs

In what would later be called the "Reviewerverse", various parodies of Chester A. Bum exist.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / CaptainErsatz

Media sources: