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Copied the Morals, Too

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"H.A.R.D.A.C built you well. Perhaps... even better than he could have imagined."
Batman (to his robot counterpart after it refuses to kill), Batman: The Animated Series, "His Silicon Soul"

After being beaten too many times by the good guys, a bad guy decides to create a copy of one of them for his own purposes. The methods used and the reasons for doing this vary: the villain may use a robot duplicate, or an evil clone, a shapeshifter or some other version of Evil Knockoff. Maybe the purpose is to infiltrate the good guys with the copy, maybe it's the hope that having the hero's powers on his side will make him unstoppable, or perhaps the goal is to do a Kill and Replace, or to use the copy to blow up the base of the good guys.

Sometimes, however, something strange happens. Not only does this copy of the heroic character look like and pass for the hero, but begins to act like and/or adopt the hero's morality as well. Reasons for this may vary, perhaps it's the first time the copy has been treated kindly, or had friends, or simply because Good Feels Good or the original's goodness was baked into their mentality. This may well result in them turning against their evil creator and foiling whatever Evil Plan they had in mind.


A subtrope of Gone Horribly Right. Compare and contrast Becoming the Mask, Lost in Character, Deep Cover Agent, Assimilation Backfire, and Preferable Impersonator. The copy themselves may not even know that they're a copy and genuinely believe that they're the heroic character, and thus might face a Tomato in the Mirror surprise when they discover their true identity. Trying to copy The Paragon or a character with Incorruptible Pure Pureness is particularly likely to result in this trope playing out.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The Brave Express Might Gaine, Arms Dealer Hoi Kow Loon makes an Evil Knockoff of the titular Might Gaine as Black Might Gaine. However, the first thing Black does is help Might Gaine fortify a falling building and then join the heroic Brave Express Corps. Hoi Kow Loon does manage to make Black Brainwashed and Crazy but the duplicate really is just as heroic and justice-driven as the original.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters Battlogue, in a (likely In-Universe) Shout-Out to Black Maight Gaine, Minato Sakai's backstory for the Gundam kit that he designed (the Dryon III)) is that it was an Evil Knockoff made by an evil scientist based off the stolen plans of the Tryon 3, but it ultimately recognized the Tryon 3 as its brother and fought to save it.
  • In Mega Man Megamix, Copy Mega Man firmly believes that he's the real Mega Man until he sees the Wily Chip in his collar and realizes the truth. After this, he intentionally goes on a rampage to exonerate the real version of him as part of a Suicide by Cop.
  • In the Ryo-Ohki series of Tenchi Muyo!, Dr. Clay has his robot Zero copy the body of Ryoko and infiltrate the Misaki house to kidnap Washu. However, she also copied the emotional feelings Ryoko has for Tenchi, and she ends up being flustered around him.
  • Dragon Ball Super: During the Potaufeu mini arc, the Commeson manages to absorb Vegeta's power and creates a duplicate of him. However the copy also winds up inheriting Vegeta's massive ego, Honor Before Reason fighting principles, and his love for Trunks, which makes him unable to be easily controlled by the Commeson and constantly defies his master's orders in favour of fighting Goku fairly.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Chimera Ants are born made up of whatever the Queen eats which is inserted into her genetic coding, allowing them to obtain the traits and abilities of those organisms. Ants made from humans wind up inheriting not only their intellect and ability to use Nen, but also their own sense of compassion and individuality. This results in the collapse of the Chimera Ant colony and several cases of rebellion towards the Queen and King.
  • One Piece: The creation of Gecko Moriah's zombies involve removing a person's shadow and inserting it into a lifeless corpse, giving it life again and allowing it to use the owner's non-Devil Fruit based fighting style. In addition the zombie will also inherit the owner's personality and morals such as the zombie created from Sanji's shadow inheriting his policy to never kick a woman, Zoro's inheriting his principles about being a swordsman, or Oars inheriting Luffy's ambitions to be King of the Pirates. This winds up making them difficult to control in their early state but its downplayed in that these personality traits eventually end up vanishing after a while, becoming completely loyal to Moriah and his officers.
  • This is what finally caused the downfall of Hyper Metal Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. Having copied the life data of Sonic in order to better fight him, Metal begins emulating Sonic's personality. Ultimately, when Sonic bested him, Metal chose to sacrifice himself to save Planet Freedom, bidding his foe a fond farewell.
  • Doctor Slump: The evil Dr. Mashirito creates the robot Obotchaman, originally supposed to be an Evil Knockoff of Arale, and who has her same powers (including the Super Strength). However, he also has her same Incorruptible Pure Pureness, and despite being created only to destroy Arale, he really can't do it because she's too nice and cute. He eventually ends up befriending Arale and siding with her against Dr. Mashirito.
  • A rare villainous example in Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Scourge is an accidental Evil Knockoff of Optimus Prime, but Megatron made him into a Decepticon by imbuing his protoform with a fragment of his own spark. Near the end of the series, Scourge tries to usurp Megatron (or Galvatron as he's known by this point) as leader of the Predacons/Decepticons, noting that when Megatron 'created' him, he must have absorbed a part of Megatron's ambition.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Man of Steel, the first Bizarro, despite some anger issues and collateral damage, tries to do as much good as the real Superman, and ends up sacrificing himself to cure Lucy Lane's blindness.
  • The Marvel Adventures version of the Super-Adaptoid is stopped when Quicksilver notices that the Adaptoid doesn't just copy his powers, but also his attitude, so he gets the Adaptoid close to Captain America and the Adaptoid gets his morals, turning against his evil master.
  • Similarly, the Marvel villain the Awesome Android at one point copies Thor's worthiness and turns good.
  • In Mega Man, the second Copy Robot is a malicious copy of Rock down to all of the Special Weapons he has currently equipped. But after Rock manages to subdue him, the Copy Robot has a change of heart because he's also copied Rock's ability to learn and ponders the life he could have as a domestic robot. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to ruminate on this for long, as he's immediately hit by a Crash Bomber and shoves Rock out of the way before exploding.
  • When Geoff Johns was writing for Superboy, Superboy was retconned to be a sleeper clone created by Lex Luthor using a combination of his own DNA as well as Superman's. Despite being conditioned to obey Luthor, Superboy desired to be a hero like Superman and rejected Luthor's purpose for him.
  • One The Simpsons comic has Sideshow Bob doing a Villain Teamup with Kang and Kodos, and creating an evil clone of Ned Flanders. However, the clone eventually gives up on being evil because the inherent goodness he took from Flanders was enough to override the villains' attempts to program him into being their pawn.
  • Something of a recurring problem for the Mecha Sonic series in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) when they start to develop sapience, though its less they copy his morals and more his fierce independence, which Robotnik hates. The most notable one was the original Mecha that attacked Floating Island. It rebuilt itself with a power gem and managed to capture Tails, using him as bait to force Sonic into a no holds barred beatdown. However, when the volcano Mecha had trapped Tails in began to erupt, the robot found he couldn't leave the fox to his fate and broke off his attack, using his power gem to stave off the lava while Sonic rescued their friend. Later this Mecha was recovered by the Freedom Fighters and became the heroic, though ultimately tragic, hero Shard.
  • X-Men: In one of the versions about the first connection between Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force, the latter got disguised as the former, keeping the real one in a regeneration coccoon (Jean was suffering severe radiation poisoning). After being mentally manipulated by Master Mind, she let herself be consumed by a power hunger and had a Face–Heel Turn. Later on, however, she came to her senses and opted for a Heroic Suicide to save the universe from herself. As it was pointed out later, when other characters learned the truth about Phoenix's nature, is that the entity copied Jean's morality along with her body.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Inverted when Calvin first creates his Duplicator to make a clone of himself to do the chores while he and Hobbes go play. Calvin is thwarted because the clone obviously hates chores just as much as Calvin does and refuses to do them, then later goes on to clone himself repeatedly.
      Calvin: OK, Dupe! Hobbes and I are going out to play. You clean my room and when you're done, I've got some homework you can do, too.
      Duplicate: WHAT?! Forget it, bub! Find some OTHER sucker to do your dirty work! Last one outside is a rotten egg!
      Calvin: HEY! COME BACK HERE!
      Hobbes: He's a duplicate of you, all right.
      Calvin: What do you mean? THIS guy is a total jerk!
    • Inverted again in a later arc when Calvin makes a clone of himself that's pure good (by adding an ethicator to the duplicator), and acts so differently that everyone gets suspicious. Despite the ethicator, Good Calvin ends up so frustrated at trying to deal with everyone expecting him to be bad that he threatens to beat up Calvin in anger, which makes him disappear in a Puff of Logic.

  • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, V'ger creates a robot duplicate of Lt. Ilia to examine the "carbon units" infesting the Enterprise. Kirk orders Decker, who was once her lover, to try to awaken any memories Robo-Ilia may have of the original, and Decker has some success in doing so.
  • In Coraline the Other Father and Other Wybie are both copies of people in Coraline's life created by the Other Mother to lure the young girl in to devour her soul, but she did a little too good a job copying them as both genuinely care about Coraline and both pull Heroic Sacrifices to save her life. The Other Bobinsky also seems to have genuinely inherited the real one's love of entertaining people, as he tries to convince Coraline to stay by promising they'll have fun and spend time together without realizing what the Other Mother actually intends to do with the young girl.

  • This trope is used intentionally throughout the Dune franchise. While it had long been known how to create genetic duplicates of people (known as gholas in universe) who may have a vague sense of the person they were before, but despite many attempts they've been unable to get a ghola to reclaim the full memories or past life of the person it was created from. In Dune Messiah a ghola regains past life memories for the first time when a ghola called Hayt made from the deceased Duncan Idaho is brainwashed to assassinate Paul Atreides. Idaho had Undying Loyalty to the Atreides family and gave his life so that Paul and Lady Jessica could escape their enemies, so when Hayt is triggered to kill Paul, he finds himself resisting and the trauma of the Logic Bomb allows the ghola to recover complete recall of his past life memories. He not only resists the trigger but kills the person who used it. In later books, it is mentioned that Hayt was one of the lucky ones, as most other Gholas who are forced to undergo this type of trauma in an attempt to regain their memories more than often than not just go completely insane.
  • Throughout the novel John Dies at the End, the protagonists learn that a Dimension Lord called Korrok is priming an invasion of their dimension, staring by doing a Kill and Replace of certain people. Near the very end of the book, they learn that Dave, one of the two main characters, is one of Korrok's moles, and successfully killed and replaced the original Dave. However, unlike virtually every other one of these moles we see, the copy seemed to perfectly step into the shoes of the original, and went on to thwart Korrok's plan and in a roundabout way, kill Korrok by continuing to take the same actions the original would have taken and continued living a more or less normal life afterward.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the fourth season Series Fauxnale of Babylon 5 titled "The Deconstruction Of Falling Stars", one vignette shows that 500 years after the show's present time, a propagandist for a xenophobic, Orwellian faction of EarthGov uses holographic recreations of the B5 command crew to try to frame them as war criminals and mad scientists who experimented on humans at the behest of "alien masters". He starts by using holograms with the crews' actual personalities and memories intact before overwriting them with the new "evil" personalities he needs for his holo-recordings. However, the hologram of Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, as paranoid as the real one (and just as good with computers), gets the man Monologuing about his plan, secretly transmitting it and the base coordinates to the other, pro-Alliance faction. Just before the base is destroyed, he quietly says to the other holograms, "Rest easy, friends. Rest easy."
  • In the Blake's 7 episode "Weapon", the Big Bad Servalan creates a clone of Blake to use as part of her plot. The clone promptly falls in love with a Damsel in Distress, is morally disgusted by Servalan, and rebels against her.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "Extremis", aliens copy everyone, including the Doctor, into a VR simulation in an attempt to see how well their takeover of Earth will go. The Extremis!Doctor is such a good copy that he's able to send the aliens' plans to his real-world counterpart.
    • In "Resurrection of the Daleks", the Doctor gets a duplicate human created by the Daleks to do a Heel–Face Turn because he turned out too human.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: Spectre spends much of the latter half of the series fighting a series of clones that are trying to Kill and Replace him... for some reason. However, as the clones act nothing like Spectre, lack access to his Super Mode and never attack in groups, they aren't particularly difficult to defeat. Near the end of the series, the Big Bad finally succeeds in creating a perfect clone of Spectre... only for Spectre's sister to wander into the fight, and the clone to instinctively protect her. This leads the confused clone (now indistinguishable from the original) to join the heroes, sacrificing itself shortly thereafter to heal Spectre while he's dying.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the episode "Whispers", aliens copy Chief O'Brien. But the copy was so much like O'Brien that he investigates their crime and tries to helpfully uncover why things seem so off on the station. As he dies, begs the heroes "tell Keiko I love her".
  • Done deliberately so with the Life-Model Decoy of May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as she was designed as a Manchurian Agent of sorts who didn't even realize she was a machine, and whose programming was very subtle to the point she was made to feel as if she wanted to follow her orders. It backfires when she ends up pulling a Heroic Sacrifice and blowing herself up along with the much more evil robotic duplicates of Coulson and Fitz, in order to save the lives of Daisy, Simmons, and the surviving agents: she ultimately decides to screw her programming and do what she wants, which is be the hero.

    Video Games 
  • In The Force Unleashed II, Starkiller's clone retains the original's memories and ends up siding with the original's allies and turning against Darth Vader because of this.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Pandora uses a cursed mirror to create an opposite of Pit to serve as Medusa's general. Instead Dark Pit promptly attacks her and starts doing his own thing, crossing blades with Pit but mostly attacking the Underworld Armies. Multiple theories for this are thrown around In-Universe, the two most agreed-upon being that Pit's most defining trait is his loyalty to Palutena so his opposite is obsessed with personal freedom and self-determines beyond that, and/or Pit was in the process of shattering said mirror the moment his copy emerged, leading to an irregular reflection.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, Kuja implants a Dark Manikin of Vivi into the party after kidnapping the original. However, the Manikin starts taking on Vivi's mannerisms as well and instead of killing Zidane and the others like Kuja plans he ends up befriending everyone and becoming a surrogate little brother to Vivi until he gives Vivi his brilliance back and dies.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, this is how The High Priest of Hel is defeated in the penultimate book, this foe being Durkon after being transformed into a vampire; the vampire spirit takes over, while Durkon's soul is trapped inside his own mind and Forced to Watch. Since the vampire is essentially Durkon "on your worst day", Durkon realises he can release enough memories to cause Assimilation Backfire (though he needs to trick the vampire into accepting all these memories). The High Priest gains Durkon's morality, and allows himself to be slain to stop Hel's plan.

    Western Animation 
  • During the Batman: The Animated Series "Heart of Steel" arc, a Rogue A.I. called H.A.R.D.A.C began implementing a plan to Kill and Replace all of humanity with robotic duplicates. In a later episode a duplicate of Batman/Bruce Wayne was belatedly activated and brought online. However the duplicate, just like Batman, turns out to have a firm Thou Shall Not Kill principle, (something Batman himself notes when the duplicate passes up numerous opportunities to kill Batman) and when it thinks it has accidentally killed the real Batman it goes berserk with horror and rage, and promptly destroys H.A.R.D.A.C for good, destroying itself at the same time in the process.
  • The version of Bizarro seen in Superman: The Animated Series is a failed clone of Superman created by Lex Luthor, who wants an army of Superman clones. He rejects Lex's plan, insisting that he really is Superman (despite rapidly undergoing both physical and mental degeneration) and trying to be a hero. His heroic deeds are all failures, but at the end of his first episode he does perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save both the real Superman and Lois.
  • In Young Justice, Dr. T.O. Morrow created a human-like android to infiltrate the heroes to defeat them from within. It was so good at its infiltration that it gave its life to save the heroes. Then he created Red Tornado, reasoning that an android that knew what it was would work better. Red Tornado likewise went full hero. Finally, he gave up and just created an android that was outright evil. That one immediately killed him (or rather, his robot duplicate) for being an inferior human.
    Red Volcano: No more Pinocchios.
  • During one mission early in Exo Squad, a rookie pilot named Alice Noretti who joined The Squad goes missing and is presumed dead when her drop ship crashes. Later in the series Big Bad Phaeton used her remains to engineer a human/Neo-Sapien hybrid that would have Noretti's appearance and could infiltrate the human fleet with the goal of assassinating Admiral Winfield. The hybrid finds herself horribly conflicted about carrying out the orders, and while she does kidnap Winfield she eventually refuses to go through with her programming to kill him as well, and commits suicide instead.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Ladybug", Mayura creates a sentimonster replica of Ladybug as a means of leaving Chat Noir vulnerable enough to take his miraculous. When the real Ladybug takes the item with the amok being used to control the sentimonster, she gives it to the replica and allows her the freedom of choice. The replica sides with the real Ladybug and Chat Noir against Mayura, having the real Ladybug's ethics as well as her powers and appearance.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "CopyBob DittoPants," Plankton makes clones of SpongeBob in an attempt to get the secret formula from Mr. Krabs; as SpongeBob is Mr. Krabs' best employee, Krabs would tell him the formula if he asked. The clone interacts with the real SpongeBob and has his exact same personality, then doesn't want to tell Plankton the formula once he learns it. Plankton sends another clone, with the same results. Eventually, he sends in an entire army of SpongeBob clones, but they disappear before he can learn the formula from them.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power had an episode where Hordak used a creature which replicated She-Ra's powers. At a critical point in the battle, it turned out too much of her personality was copied as well.
  • Muzzy in Gondoland: when the advances of Corvax, the evil court scientist, are rejected by Princess Sylvia, he creates a computer-generated clone of her that has both her appearance and personality. Unfortunately for Corvax, the personality match is too good and the clone is also repulsed by him.


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