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Differently Dressed Duplicates

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Which one is the real Diane?note 

When creating a Me's a Crowd, Literal Split Personality, an Evil Twin or any kind of Doppelgänger, or averting Only One Me Allowed Right Now in a time-travel based story, the duplicates will wear different clothes when forced into doing more than one task at once to ensure they remain apart. Sometimes it's a matter of wearing a similar outfit that's Color-Coded for Your Convenience, or they could be wearing different clothes entirely based on what they have available. After all, when you're Opening a Can of Clones, clothes may not be duplicated with the extra bodies, or an error in the cloning process could be introduced to help the audience tell the two apart.

When encountered by other characters unaware of the duplication factor, they may be mystified on how they changed their clothes so fast, averting Changing Clothes Is a Free Action.

Compare the Identical Twin ID Tag, where the characters are both individuals who look alike and use a significant feature to distinguish between the two, and Palette Swap, where a duplicate is colored differently to make it appear unique.

See also Color-Coded Multiplayer, for when this trope is enforced in video games.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In 3×3 Eyes, Pai is cloned. The clone almost immediately gets a different hairstyle to distinguish her from the original Pai.
  • Done rather interestingly in Saiyuki Reload: the duplicates of the Sanzo-ikkou actually wear the clothes of their "original" counterparts... from the previous series, as their designs were upgraded slightly for the sequel. This is actually a clue that the duplicates were created the day before: upon learning this, the ikkou declare that there's no way they can lose to their past selves and proceed to kill them easily.

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman #162: "The Amazing Story Of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue", Superman is split into two halves, one dressing in red and one dressing in blue.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes, Triplicate Girl initially wore a purple outfit with orange cape and boots, which she continued to wear after one of her selves was killed and she became Duo Damsel. In Superboy #193, a number of Legionnaires got new costumes and Duo Damsel's new costume (based on a "Fashions From Fans" piece in Adventure Comics two years earlier) was half orange and half purple, which became solidly one color when she split (which, for the purpose of this story, represented the two factions the Legion was trying to make peace between). This became more significant with the Reboot Legion, where Triad's three selves had very different personalities, making it more important to distinguish between Triad-Orange, Triad-Purple and Triad-Neutral.
  • In one Disney comic, Gyro Gearloose makes a duplicate of Donald to teach him how unlivable he is. The original wears a black sailor suit (as he often does in comics from those days and place), while the duplicate wears one in the classic blue color. At the end of the episode, a furious Donald forces the experience on all his entourage, and all of them have a similar distinguishing feature on their clothes.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's duplication of his "good" half is immediately distinguishable for combing his hair flat.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happens to both Doc and Marty in Back to the Future Part II. When they return to 1955 and encounter themselves from the first film, each is dressed differently to help the audience tell them apart. Biff's gang even uses the "how'd he change his clothes so fast?" line when they see both Martys one right after the other.
  • In Multiplicity Doug, out to dinner with his wife, runs into Two (his clone) out on a date. Doug takes Two into the men's room to berate him; after they leave the men's room they're mistaken for each other by their respective dates who notice that they're wearing different clothes. "I switched with a guy in the men's room. We traded. Men do that all the time."
  • Spy Kids franchise:
    • In Spy Kids, Floop builds several Spy Kid robots, including a pair who look exactly like Carmen and Juni, except wearing a mass-produced outfit. When the real Carmen and Juni meet their duplicates, they get confused about it at first as the robots are much stronger and more hostile.
    • In Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, the Toymaker is trapped in cyberspace and talks with three artificial copies of himself, each one with a different personality and outfit. The real Toymaker gets mad when they bicker with each other and leave him out, but quickly realizes he can just turn them off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Charmed, Prue creates two clones of herself. They dress themselves in similar, but still distinct, black dresses, showcasing their Literal Split Personality status (the "all work and no play" Prue wears a conservative, business-appropriate dress, while the "repressed sexual desire" Prue has a shorter skirt and lower neckline). Phoebe then gives them different-colored sweaters. Later in the episode one of the clones is killed by a demon and ends up at the morgue. Prue's boyfriend turns up to break the bad news and ends up very confused when Phoebe mutters "thank god" on hearing what color she was wearing.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Android Invasion": Androids impersonate the Doctor and Sarah in each other's presence on two separate occasions. The Doctor realizes that the Sarah duplicate is not real because she's wearing a scarf that the real Sarah lost.
    • "The Big Bang": When the Doctor meets himself, one of the two Doctors wears a fez and holds a mop.
    • "The Rebel Flesh"/"The Almost People": The Doctor and his Ganger are wearing different shoes. While offscreen together, they swap shoes, causing Amy to reveal secret information to the Doctor thinking he's the doppelgänger.
  • Farscape: When John Crichton was "twinned", one wore a green shirt most of the time while the other wore black. "Green John" was notably perturbed that he couldn't wear black, as well as that the John who escaped on Talyn with Aeryn had taken his favorite pulse pistol, Wynona.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • In a late fourth-season episode, Sabrina is pressured by her two friends Harvey and Josh and her two aunts Hilda and Zelda to make different plans after high school. Sabrina ends up involuntary splitting herself into four to please all of them and each duplicate attends a formal with each respective character wearing a different colored dress. At the end, she pulls herself together and wears one dress with all four colors and decides to go to the college of her choice, Adams.
    • A seventh-season episode had Sabrina create a Cyrano to help her express her love to Aaron; Cyrano looked exactly like her but with a comically-long nose. During the episode, a jealous Sabrina uses a spell to swap noses, and Aaron confusedly looks at both and asks if they changed outfits.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Second Chances", "Thomas" Riker, a duplicate William Riker created in a transporter accident, wears a gold "Ops" uniform instead of Will's red Command uniform. Both Rikers also grew a beard in the years since the accident, although Thomas' beard is fuller.
    • This comes up again when Thomas shows up in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The first thing he does after dropping his impersonation of his clone is to remove a couple of prosthetic sideburns, showing that he's chosen to distinguish himself from Will by growing a goatee... among other things. His desire to establish himself as a separate and distinct person from his "brother", at any cost, is what drives the plot of the episode.


    Video Games 
  • Most multiplayer video games in general have two characters with the same model colored differently to distinguish them.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures are all about this. Link can divide himself into four copies, each one wearing a different color-coded tunic.
  • Metroid does this twice with Samus.
    • In Metroid Fusion, a parasite takes over Samus's Power Suit and becomes her duplicate, but the real Samus' appearance changed to a sleeker, more organic Suit due to emergency surgery to save her life.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes had a Dark Samus duplicate, which confused and terrified the Space Pirates when they found out there were two Samuses out to get them. Believing it to be this trope, they named the black one the "Dark Hunter" to distinguish it from "The (original) Hunter".
  • During the Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC, you can go up against various duplicates of Shepard in the Armax Arena, though they wear a grey-and-blue version of the default N7 armor. The Shepard-clone from the "story" aspect of the DLC also wears this grey-and-blue variant if you are wearing the standard black-and-red N7. If you aren't, the clone wears the black-and-red.

  • Played with in Grrl Power, where one of the heroines, Harem, can be in 5 places at once, though all her copies of herself share one mind. Over the years, the five copies have started to differentiate their outfits and even their personalities, despite technically still being one person with one mind.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Ellen can transform someone into a doppelganger of someone else but can't affect their clothes resulting in this.
  • Combined with Identical Twin ID Tag in Ennui GO!. When Izzy ends up getting cloned, the copy (originally named Izzy-X, but eventually known as Kirsty) almost immediately sets herself apart from the original due to the fact that she wears lipstick. Later on, she styles her hair in a way that's halfway between Izzy and her twin sister Adelie, best seen in the first panel of "Triplets" where the three are all lined up in a row.

    Web Original 
  • In He, Himself, and Him, this is invoked by Chris A to minimize the freak out factor (he's still quite surprised that Chris B even exists). It's later played straight with Chris C.

    Western Animation 
  • In Atomic Betty, Maximus makes three copies of Betty with different superpowers to commit crimes and frame the real Betty. Each of the three copies wears a different color than the real one.
  • Hacker in Cyberchase points out this trope when confronted with an artificial duplicate controlled by Digit from the inside. Since the false Hacker was built in a factory on Symmetria, the duplicate is perfectly symmetrical, and Hacker asks the duplicate about its missing pocket protector.
  • Danny Phantom once decided he didn't have enough time to be a superhero and enjoy a weekend with his friends, so he divided himself in half to split his responsibilities. The result was a heroic Danny Phantom and a slacker with a mullet Danny Fenton. After his friends chew him out on how bad this idea panned out, Danny does the split again, except now there are two half ghosts with half the ghost powers each. The slacker Danny has human blue eyes but the heroic Danny has the ghostly green ones.
  • In Futurama, Leela decides to look inside Professor Farnsworth's secret box that she's guarding due to the outcome of a coin flip. Once inside, palette-swapped versions of her friends appear and remark how she dyed her hair purple, since the Leela in the alternate universe contained within the box is a red-head.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Double Dipper", the photocopies of Dipper have blank spots on their hats where Dipper has a pine tree, along with lacking the bow tie Dipper wore for the party. They use felt tip markers to draw numbers on the hats so they can tell each other apart.
  • An episode of The Legend of Zelda (1989) cartoon show had Ganon's magic creating an evil twin of Zelda. The Dark Zelda looks identical to the real Zelda, except she wears a black outfit and openly flirts with Link. Subverted when they both fall in the mud, forcing Link to challenge them to a "kissing contest" to tell which one is real.
  • In Sabrina: The Animated Series, Sabrina enthusiastically signs up for more extracurricular activities than she can handle. She uses magic to conjure up two copies of herself and coordinates her three selves through a schedule and colored jerseys.
  • In Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, the cyber versions of Mystery Inc. wear the gang's classic '70s outfits, as opposed to the real Mystery Inc. who had since had their outfits updated. Except for the cyber version of Shaggy, who wore his 1980s-era red and blue outfit since the "real" Shaggy had reverted to his original green and maroon outfit by this time.