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Capture and Replicate

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Send in the Clones!note 

A character is replaced by a Doppelgänger (clone, robot, or just a Master of Disguise with Latex Perfection) for the purpose of espionage, assassination, or other infiltration; but the phlebotinum that makes this possible depends on a persistent connection to a living subject, making their capture and imprisonment a necessity.

This means that when the person's allies find out about the switch, they have to not only get rid of the fake, but then find a way to rescue the original. Or conversely, they can free the original, thus rendering the copy inoperative, unless it's taken on an identity of its own and become an Evil Knockoff or Robot Me, since A.I. Is a Crapshoot. A clone may also be a Manchurian Agent, leading to a Tomato in the Mirror reveal. Of course, it's entirely possible said allies might find the clone to be a Preferable Impersonator.


Rather than making a single copy, some villains will use the captive as a template to pump out an army of mooks for nefarious purposes. Some captors don't actually need to keep the original alive but do so anyway: to interrogate, as an eventual bargaining chip, because the villain has an iota of mercy (or the impersonator is the hero, not the villain). Sometimes it's completely inexplicable and the show just doesn't allow characters to get killed.

This is the Lighter and Softer version of Kill and Replace.

Compare Reforged into a Minion, contrast Replicant Snatching.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Haya impersonates her brother by pretending he was turned into a girl, tying him in the meantime just to steal his ninja suit and keep him from exposing her. Soga ends up breaking out and taking his suit back, but only after Haya was done with her charade anyway.
  • Digimon:
    • In Digimon Adventure, Datamon captures Sora and soon afterwards makes a copy of her to use against Etemon, thinking Biyomon will fight for him.
    • In Digimon Ghost Game, a horde of Betsumon do this to Kiyoshiro and several other humans in his dorm after replacing Gammamon and Jellymon.
  • In the Pokémon movie Pokémon: The First Movie, Mewtwo captures the Pokemon of the trainers he lures to his island so that he can clone them all.
  • Ranma ½: In the last story arc of the manga, Akane Tendō is captured by the bird people and replaced with a double via a Jyusenkyō Spring that was created on the spot.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: In the "Zero Ryoko" two part mini-arc, Dr. Clay becomes curious about Washuu's interest in Tenchi. So he kidnaps her daughter, Ryoko, then has his android assistant (Zero) take her form and assimilate her memories, in order to spy on Washuu. Clay had intended to dispose of Ryoko immediately, once the replication was complete, but when Zero notes that a portion of Ryoko's memories was missing and couldn't be accessed, it piques his scientific interest again, so he begrudgingly decides to keep her alive.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- gets considerably darker when it turns out that the Syaoran and Sakura who had been traveling with Fai and Kurogane ended up being clones of the originals, whom Fei Wong Reed had captured sometime previous.

    Comic Books 
  • DuckTales: Magica creates a clone of Launchpad using a potion, a piece of hair, and a button, and lures the real version to an abandoned building to trap him so she can sneak the clone in and finally get Scrooge's #1 Dime.
  • Happened to Shrinking Violet in the Legion of Super-Heroes (pre-Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!). She is kidnapped by Imsk-native radicals and replaced in the Legion by Yera, a Durlan actress who used her native shapeshifting abilities to assume Violet's identity (the radicals had told her that Violet wished to go on a secret vacation). Legion deputy leader Element Lad and Science Police liaison Shvaughn Erin became suspicious of the fake Violet when Yera, wearing Violet's form, suddenly fell in love with Colossal Boy, who harbored an unrequited crush on the real Violet for years. Yera's charade is exposed and the real Violet rescued.
  • The Transformers Megaseries: When the Decepticons infiltrate a civilization, they identify individuals which could be useful to their long-term plans, capture them, and replace them with obedient cyborg clones called Facsimiles. The original person is kept alive in case the Decepticons need to clone them again.
  • The Warlord: During the "War of the Gods" arc, Y'Smalla imprison Tara in a dungeon beneath Machiste's palace in Kiro, and uses the Apokoliptan technology provided to her by Desaad to assume Tara's form and start a romance with Machiste, thereby driving a wedge between him and Morgan.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Doctor Psycho ties up Veronica Cale and dumps her in a closet, then uses his psychic abilities to pretend to be Cale in order to hide from the authorities and prey on Cale and others.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Fanfics The Big Capture of 1999-2006 and The Full Capture by Shebakoby, this is what the Quintessons do to a large number of Autobots and Decepticons, and these clones are what ended up being killed off in Transformers: The Movie. The originals were enslaved.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • The Wolf beats Euron in a duel, but rather than kill him, has one of his henchmen (who turns out to be Theon Greyjoy) disguised as him via Slaaneshi magic and sends the fake Euron to Cersei, then sacrificing the real Euron to the Chaos gods. When the city falls, the blame is placed on Euron sabotaging the gates in revenge for Cersei snubbing him.
    • The same Slaaneshi cultist later takes Cersei's appearance to sleep with Jaime. As far as Jaime knows, Cersei is dead so he kicks hir away, causing the miffed cultist to take his gold hand in retaliation.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Blockheads' plan in the Gumby movie, by capturing Gumby and his new bandmates, the Clayboys to create robot duplicates of them in the hopes of coercing Gumby's dog Lowbelly into crying pearls. The originals are also locked in a freezer cell once the process is done.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, part of the plot involves Naveen's servant Lawrence passing as him. This is done thanks to a talisman that lets Lawrence look just like Naveen, but needs a drop of Naveen's blood once a day or so to continue working. However, Naveen escapes early in the movie and the bad guys spend some time trying to find him.
  • The Swan Princess: Towards the end, Rothbart has Odette locked up as a swan in a dungeon, and turns Brigit into a look-alike of Odette, sending her to trick Prince Derek.
  • Jafar does this in the Aladdin sequel, Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, as part of his plan to frame Aladdin for the murder of the Sultan. He captures Jasmine and disguises himself as her to appear at the execution.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • In the Harry Potter series, Polyjuice Potion can allow one to mimic any person, but it requires a piece of the person, usually a hair. The piece must be recent and taken while the subject is alive, so in order to impersonate them for more than a few hours, it's necessary to keep them captive somewhere. In Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Jr. does this with Mad-Eye Moody in order to impersonate him throughout an entire school year.
  • In Newsflesh, the reason why President Ryman hasn't been responding to the After the End Times team's calls for help is that his wife and children are being held captive and have been replaced by docile clones for public appearances. All they do is smile and wave.
  • Appears in the German SF novel Der Verbannte von Asyth, whose plot revolves largely around aliens replacing important individuals on Earth with masked infiltrators of their own kind. The originals are kept alive at the aliens' hidden base and thus remain conveniently available for questioning.
  • In the Fighting Fantasy gamebook "Starship Traveller", the captain can get captured by aliens and cloned as an attempt to capture the ship for themselves. Fortunately, on a successful dice roll you can imprint certain traits on the clone that will make your crew realize what's going on.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Evidence": If Francis Quinn is correct, then Steven Byerley is an exceptionally convincing imitation of a man who was crippled in an accident. Unable to move around like he used to (trapped), the man built a duplicate, who is running for public office. Byerley denies all of this, claiming that the old man is his father.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel The Romulan Prize there is a race of telepathic shapeshifters called Ambimorphs. Unlike the Founders of the Dominion they are a peaceful, non-violent race who had the potential to become the most dominant race in the galaxy if they had been so inclined. The Ambimorphs were able to exactly duplicate objects and individuals to the point that it was impossible to detect a disguised Ambimorph. After their discovery by a Federation starship whose crew could not leave due to being accidentally infected with an Ambimorph virus, four Ambimorphs disguised themselves as single crew members who had no known relatives and had already died and left in a shuttle. These four played dead when found by Starfleet and were taken back to Earth where they assumed new forms and infiltrated the Federation in order to study it further. Later, when the Romulans found the Ambimorph ship another group of Ambimorphs disguised themselves as Romulans to infiltrate and study the Romulan Empire while the Ambimorph vessel departed the known galaxy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done occasionally on Doctor Who. Specific cases include:
    • The Zygons are shapeshifters, but need to keep the original person they're replacing alive so they can have a psychic link with the victim, in order to have access to the original person's body print. Later on, though, it's revealed that the Zygons, who have settled on Earth, have learned to retain the body print even without a link to the original.
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky", Martha Jones is put into some kind of slime vat and a clone is grown from a nearby pod. The clone gradually becomes an independent being and the Doctor is able to talk it into helping him save the day.
    • "The Rebel Flesh"/"The Almost People" examines the ramifications of workers putting their minds into synthetic bodies, called Flesh, for their own safety, when a power surge causes the duplicates to become independent. At the end, Amy is revealed to have been a Flesh duplicate for a significant part of the series, with her actual body held by the Silence organization in order to take her newborn child and raise it as a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In the episode "Foothold" the SGC is invaded by an unidentifiednote  race of Humanoid Aliens that imprisons its personnel and uses them to create holographic disguises. The prisoners are kept alive to allow the aliens to mimic their normal behavior via technobabble.
    • This turns out to be what has really happened in the episode "Fragile Balance", where a teenage O'Neill shows up at the base and claims to have been de-aged overnight. The rogue Asgard scientist Loki had captured the real O'Neill to experiment on him and created a clone to replace him, but something went wrong in the processnote  causing the clone to degenerate.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: A group of aliens capture Captain Picard and replace him with a double in the episode "Allegiance". This was part of an experiment to examine the nature of authority, as they were a Hive Mind with no concept of individuality or hierarchy. The real Picard was locked in a cell with three others to see if they could work together to escape; the fake Picard on the Enterprise gives his officers increasingly insane orders to test their loyalty.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the episode Whispers, Chief O'Brien is captured and replaced by a clone. The replacement is too perfect of a copy, and has all of O'Brien's memories and emotions, and doesn't know that it's supposed to be working for the captors, and instead disrupts his own scheme when he becomes aware that something is amiss.
    • In another episode, Martok, the right-hand-man of Klingon Chancellor Gowron, is discovered to be a Changling and killed. Later Worf discovers a Changeling prison camp where the real Martok is being held captive along with other prisoners. And while there, he also discovers that the Dominion has had Doctor Bashir in the camp as well, and that he's been there for at least a month or two- which means his impersonator has had that long to wreak all kinds of havoc unsuspected.
    • The Changelings, aka the Founders have this is their MO - replace someone important in the enemy ranks via their shapeshifting abilities, then use the position of authority to sow chaos and play would-be allies against each other, if not resorting to outright sabotage, leaving them too weak and divided to properly defend themselves when the Jem'Hadar armies roll in.
  • One story arc in FTL Newsfeed involved the president of the North American Union being kidnapped and replaced with a clone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ironclaw the druid spell "Steal Guise" allows one to impersonate another, but only so long as the real one is alive. The adventure "The Rescue of Miranda Devoisier" has a side quest where the head of a family is kidnapped and impersonated by a rogue druid using that spell.
  • The Demoreans of Timemaster can do a short-term shapeshift without capturing their model first, but for a shift that's expected to last any length of time the model needs to be stuffed in a sleep pod.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: This is the modus operandi of Ethereal Doppelgangers, a more powerful version of the classic D&D Doppelgänger. Their Assume Identity power allows them to not only takes the appearance, but also copy the mind, memories and personality of a person. Since it's a lengthy process, and easier on a willing subject, they usually try to broke a deal with kidnapped people, treating them correctly and releasing them unharmed once they obtained what they want. Although they are Lawful Evil monsters, they can be trusted to keep their part of the bargain.
  • Changeling: The Lost plays on this idea. The changelings of the title are actually the humans who were abducted (at any age, not just as babies) and taken away to Faerie; fetches, artificial beings crafted from random detritus and animated by The Fair Folk, take their place, and actually believe themselves to be the person they replaced. Getting your old life back may very well involve doing this, in reverse, to an innocent being who's totally unaware that it isn't really you.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Trigger, Yakra captures the Chancellor of Guardia and poses as him mainly to serve as an Obstructive Bureaucrat in his aim to destabilize the kingdom. Four centuries later, his descendant Yakra XIII does the exact same ploy. You can expose and kill him and free the real Chancellor during the Rainbow Shell subquest.
  • The plot of Jumper Two revolves around an enigmatic hooded person known as The Boss trying to capture Ogmo, "the ultimate soldier", to create an army of OgmoBots with which he is going to Take Over the World.
  • Metal Slug 3: Halfway through the 5th stage, one of the player characters will get kidnapped by the Mars People. Later, as you storm the Martian Mothership, you'll find clones of said character as your enemy; much later, you'll find said character in an aquarium-esque confinement where you have to rescue him/her while clones of said character attack you en masse.
  • In one side quest in Pillars of Eternity, a woman asks you to deliver a divorce notice to her husband, who has been acting strangely towards her lately. If you investigate their home, you find out that he has been locked up in the attic for days, while a criminal mage assumed his appearance and used his home as a hub for his drug trade.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, The Syndicate captures Oleg Krilov—a giant of a man—and keeps him sedated in their labs to mass-produce clones of him and throw them at the Saints. One mid-game mission sees the Saints infiltrating said labs and freeing Oleg to stop the clone production.
  • In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the Ditto Five are a group of criminal Ditto who have such a twisted admiration of humans that they look for random people and replace them wherever they live and work. There is one crucial weakness that prevents them from accomplishing much: They cannot imitate human speech.
  • Done in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal by Nefarious and Courtney Gears to Clank, who gets replaced by Klunk to spy on Ratchet's actions. Of course, once Ratchet catches up with Nefarious, he immediately realizes what's up when he sees captured Clank, and then you have a boss fight with Klunk which might be annoying because since you don't have Clank's abilities to rely on until you complete it.
  • This is a major early-game twist in Tales of the Abyss, where it turns out that the main character is a clone created when the original was kidnapped. In addition to making sure no-one noticed the original was gone, this replacement serves two more purposes in the Big Bad's plan: first, so he has a backup copy of The Chosen One in case one can't fulfill his plans. Second, to get around a prophecy predicting the death of The Chosen One.
  • In the rogue class campaign during World of Warcraft: Legion, the player character discovers that this has been done to Mathias Shaw, head of the Stormwind intelligence agency. A major part of the story is dedicated to the rescue.

    Visual Novels 
  • The last chapter of Spirit Hunter: NG reveals that Kakuya attempted this with Ami, possessing their body so that she could remain by Akira's side forever. She's found out due to his psychometry, and so does away with the body and traps herself and Akira in another world.
  • Chapter 2-1 of Your Turn to Die reveals at the end that Reko Yabusame had been locked up in a chamber while a robot version of her had been walking around ever since. It ends with either her being stabbed to death or her brother being blown up.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Ellen tried to do this to Elliot when she was first created for the purpose of ruining his reputation since she believed herself to be an Evil Twin. Instead of holding him captive though she merely stranded him (along with Tedd) in an isolated facility with no quick and easy way to get back home.
  • Magick Chicks: Midway into chapter 16, The Ninja Club abducted Dark Skye and had Rain take her place, by using his shapeshifting ability to imitate her. Which allowed them to spy on Cerise and undermine her authority during the school's takeover.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: An evil A.I. called HARDAC captures several prominent citizens of Gotham City and replaces them with androids.
  • In Futurama episode "I Dated A Robot", Nappster (actually Kidnappster) holds celebrity heads in order to transfer copies of their personalities and appearances onto blank robots (as a parody of the original Nappster website). In this case, the users know they're downloading copies, but not that the originals are being held captive and painfully shocked whenever a copy is made.
  • In the animated The Legend of Zelda (1989), one of Ganon's plots to steal the Triforce of Wisdom was with a magic mirror that created a copy of Zelda and also allowed her to be taken to his realm, where she was tied to a spike in Ganon's chamber, but managed to escape.
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears): in the episode "Bro Bots", Dr. Wily's latest scheme is to kidnap the newly-elected Governor on election night, and replace him with a robotic duplicate. Megaman, despite having been incapacitated earlier, manages to stop him and save the Governor-Elect.
  • Teamo Supremo villainess Madame Snake employed this strategy in both of her major appearances. In her debut appearance, she kidnapped the team's school teacher and pretended to be her to keep the team buried under a ridiculous amount of homework to keep them too busy to stop her crime spree. The second time, she is working with Mr. Large and disguising herself as Governor Kevin to eventually get into Level Seven and steal all of the high tech equipment for her employer.
  • Turns out to be what has happened to the real Roy Harper on Young Justice (2010): The real one had gone missing on a mission and had been captured by Cadmus. They sent a clone in his place (and halted his aging) as a Manchurian Agent against the League, whose members are none the wiser until he unwittingly turns against them.
  • This is the premise of the very first story arc of The Ruff & Reddy Show. The two are spirited away in a flying saucer to a metallic planet Muni-Mula ("aluminum" backwards) where they are assimilated and cloned for an attack on Earth.


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Alternative Title(s): Imprison And Impersonate


Alec Sentimonster

Shadow Moth captures Alec and then creates a sentimonster duplicate as part of his plan to akumatize Audrey.

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