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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 to be him after being 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.
    • Digimon Tamers: The D-Reaper abducts Jeri while no-one's looking, using her crushing depression and self-loathing as a power source, replacing her with a copy. A very, very creepy copy. None of the other kids think anything amiss because of what Jeri had just been through, and assume she's just in severe shock.
    • In Digimon Ghost Game, a horde of Betsumon do this to Kiyoshiro and several other humans in his dorm after replacing Gammamon and Jellymon.
  • This happens to Asuna in the Magic World arc in Negima! Magister Negi Magi via an artifact that allows the user to perfectly replicate whoever is kissed. It's so effective that the imposter isn't even aware that they aren't the genuine article. It even manages to fool Nodoka's mind reader artifact. It isn't perfect however, Asuna's Magic Cancel ability isn't replicated, and powerful enough feelings (such as love) can break the spell.
  • 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.
  • Empyre: Tanlath the Pursuer turns out to have been Dead All Along. The real Tanlath died years ago, as a prisoner of the Skrulls. The one Earth's heroes have dealt with is actually the Skrull Empress R'klll.
  • Fantastic Four: A favoured tactic of the Skrulls, what with their shapeshifting and all. It's often thwarted by the Skrulls being too petty to make prolonged use of it.
    • The Skrulls abduct Franklin Storm, the Invisible Woman and Human Torch's father, and have the Super-Skrull pretend to be him turned into a supervillain, solely in the name of pettiness. Eventually, Mr. Fantastic figures this out, and threatens the Skrulls into returning Dr. Storm or he'll drop a nuke on them.
    • During the 80s, the Thing's long-time romantic interest Alicia Masters wound up dating and then marrying the Human Torch. This was... not terribly well-received, and a storyline revealed Alicia had been replaced by a Skrull who had legitimately fallen in love with Johnny.
  • 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.
  • Royals: Before the series begins, Maximus impersonates Black Bolt and has him locked up in the inescapable super-prison the Inhumans were planning to dump him in, using an image inducer to hide himself. Medusa soon figures it out because Maximus is no help during a fight, but by the time he's revealed it's too late to do anything but put up with him.
  • Secret Invasion: The Skrulls' usual M.O. gets bumped up with them doing this to several Earth super-heroes and villains, using magic to give themselves the memories and personalities of the people they're replacing to help sell the disguise. This occasionally backfires, when the memories and personalities are stronger than that of the Skrull they're replacing (as happens with their Captain Mar-Vell impersonator), or they copy someone with a mental illness, such as Hank Pym. His replacement inherits Hank's bipolar disorder, and comes to believe the invasion is doomed. His bosses ignore him, kill him, and replace him with a new Skrull. It's revealed that this keeps happening: Pym is just that unstable.
  • 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 imprisons 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 Vol. 2: 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.
  • X-Men: For a while in the 1990s, Wolverine was replaced by a Skrull. The X-Men didn't find out until the fake was killed by Apocalypse's current Horseman of Death who was actually the real Wolverine, Brainwashed and Crazy.

    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 
  • 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.
  • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time does this to Cinderella, who's captured by Lady Tremaine and replaced by Anastasia, who is enchanted to look like Cinderella with magic wand of Fairy Godmother which Lady Tremaine stole earlier.
  • 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.
  • Megamind does a variant. While trying to blow up the Metro Man Museum, the titular supervillain runs into museum curator Bernard. Thinking quickly, Megamind scans Bernard with his disguise watch and dehydrates with his De-Gun before impersonating him. The real Bernard is rehydrated in Megamind's washing machine during The Stinger.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done occasionally on Doctor Who. Specific cases include:
    • In "Spearhead from Space", the Nestene Consciousness's real plan is to create plastic replicas of world leaders and take over the Earth. After duplicating General Scobie, the Autons place the real Scobie's paralyzed body on display in Madame Tussauds alongside the plastic models of world leaders. The Doctor becomes suspicious when he notices te Scobie 'dummy' is wearing a wristwatch, wound and still at the right time.
    • 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", the Sontarans capture Martha Jones, put her in some kind of slime vat, and grow a clone of her from a nearby pod, so they can use her to sabotage UNIT's attempts to fight back. Eventually, the Doctor reveals he knew all along, and was counting on the clone's sabotage to sabotage the Sontarans.
    • "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.
  • One story arc in FTL Newsfeed involved the president of the North American Union being kidnapped and replaced with a clone.
  • Secret Invasion (2023): In Captain Marvel (2019), Skrulls were shown to "sim" the memories of those they captured. In this series, Gravik's Skrull faction are shown to kidnap people and then store them in fracking pods so that they can continue using their mind and memories to better impersonate them.
  • 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" as part of an experiment to examine the nature of authority, as they are a Hive Mind with no concept of individuality or hierarchy. The real Picard is locked in a cell with three others to see if they can 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 "Apocalypse Rising", Martok, the right-hand-man of Klingon Chancellor Gowron, is discovered to be a Changeling and killed. Later, in "In Purgatory's Shadow", Worf discovers a Changeling prison camp where the real Martok is being held captive along with other prisoners. 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • Grim Hollow has a similar idea to Changeling: Fey creatures are prone to kidnapping children for various reasons, leaving a Wechselkind in their place; a wechselkind is a living wooden doll with a weak Glamour to make it resemble the stolen child. By the time the glamour inevitably breaks and the child's family realizes what happened, its way too late to do anything, a fact they frequently take out on the innocent Wechselkind who had nothing to do with it and no agency in the abduction. Wechselkind who survive this are a playable race.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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. Once you rescue the captured character(s), this doesn't stop the cloning process; instead, due to the lack of source material, the clones come out as zombies afterward.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • Aladdin: The Series episode "Black Sand" had Mozenrath send his mamluks to infiltrate the palace and take everyone's place and appearance by using the titular black sand.
  • 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.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2", Twilight discovers that Princess Cadance, who is about to marry Shining Armor, is actually Queen Chrysalis in disguise, while the real Cadance was trapped in the cave underneath Canterlot Castle.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Totally Spies! and episode Man or Machine where central trio investigates the erratic behavior of world leaders. As the title indicates, they were replaced by look-alike androids.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):

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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