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Dueling Works
aka: Dueling Shows

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"Some day we’ll be movie stars, too!” The DS9 crew dies laughing at that, so B5 wins.note 

"There's some splendor, but a whole lot of warfare in the grass, in A Bug's Life, the latest computer-generated insect film of the year. Did I ever think I'd ever say that sentence? And who ever thought we'd get two in one year?"
Gene Siskel referring to A Bug's Life and Antz, Siskel & Ebert

This page is a list of similar works made during the same period of time. Sometimes one work intentionally copied another. Sometimes it's part of a wider trend in which that type of work became very popular all of sudden and others are made. Sometimes it's total coincidence: the creators just had the same idea. Which is the original and which is the imitation is not always completely clear; sometimes, however, it is painfully so.

Sometimes, rather than home-brew a knock off, a company will license a foreign work, and adapt it to be more like its competitor. Occasionally, creators will be forced to war with one another when they simultaneously produce similar works which are subsequently released within a short time from each other.

One thing to remember regarding Dueling Works is that Tropes Are Not Bad — while many Dueling Works appear to be blatant rip-offs, the competition between two shows (or simply the desire to set each other apart) often spurs each other to develop in quality. The result is a grateful television audience.


See also Dueling Products for proof that this type of competition isn't limited to just works. See also The Mockbuster. Not to be confused with Dueling-Stars Movie.

Again, just to be clear: The works have to be produced during the same time period, otherwise you've got either Follow the Leader or Serial Numbers Filed Off. Also see Fandom Rivalry.


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    Comic Books 
  • Marvel had dueling works with itself, with 2016's All-New Wolverine and the 2015 Old Man Logan over which is the "rightful successor" to previous Logan-led Wolverine books. Points in All-New Wolverine's favor are the title, and the fact that Laura is actively using the Wolverine name. Point's in Old Man Logan's favor the are that it stars a Logan, and has generally more mature and violent content.
  • This was practically a company-wide theme for Marvel in 2016-2017. Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson each got a Captain America title, Riri Williams and Victor Von Doom got "Invincible" and "Infamous" Iron Man, respectively, and for a brief point while the Unworthy Thor miniseries was running, Jane Foster Thor and Odinson Thor had a book each (and afterward the main Mighty Thor title featured both of them plus the new War Thor). The Wolverine example is distinct in that each character there had a different writer; the other "dueling" titles were orchestrated by the same writers. (Nick Spencer for Captains America, Brian Michael Bendis for Iron Men, and Jason Aaron for all your Thor needs.)
  • DC's Doom Patrol and Marvel's X-Men. Both teams consisted of super-powered individuals shunned by the world, were led by a man in a wheelchair, and premiered within months of each other in 1963. The X-Men would rise to prominence and become one of the biggest franchises in comics, while the Doom Patrol would struggle to maintain a series. However, the two series diverged: while the X-Men focused on traditional superheroics with a lot of focus on the soap opera side of stories, the Doom Patrol, under Grant Morrison, eventually became a much more strange and experimental title focusing on more mature and artsy themes. While the X-Men do dip into some weirder stuff — particularly when Morrison himself revamped the franchise — along with all manner of magic and sci-fi, the Doom Patrol have largely stuck to the more "out there" tone. The two are very rarely compared these days.
  • DC's Who's Who and Marvel's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe have competed with each other a number of times. During the original run of Who's Who in the mid-1980s, Marvel released the second volume of OHOTMU (also known as the Deluxe Edition). After releasing updates for Who's Who in 1987 and 1988, OHOTMU received an update in 1989 (that same year, DC included Who's Who entries in a number of their annuals). When DC revamped Who's Who in 1990 as a customizable loose-leaf edition, OHOTMU followed suit with their loose-leaf Master Edition before the end of the year.
  • DC's Swamp Thing and Marvel's Man-Thing premiered around the same time in 1971, by writers who were roommates at the time, and both became quick cult favorites. When Swamp Thing received his own series in 1972, his origin was changed and became much more similar to Man-Thing's, who also received an ongoing feature in Adventure into Fear at the same time. Since then, Swamp Thing has gone on to have many successful comic runs and a number of appearances in other media, whereas Man-Thing, while still successful, as of 2019 has yet to break out of his cult status.
  • DC's Superman and Fawcett's Captain Marvel, so much so that when Captain Marvel's books sold better than Superman's, DC sued Fawcett over similarities between the characters. DC would eventually buy the rights to Captain Marvel from Fawcett. Ironically, these days Superman and Marvel have Friendly Fandoms due to their similarities.
    • This was succeeded by DC's (formerly Fawcett's) Captain Marvel and Marvel's Captain Marvel, as the latter laid claim to the name after Fawcett ended its run but before DC picked up the original character. DC's resultant inability to name its comic after its lead character ultimately led to a trope.
  • DC's Archives and Marvel's Masterworks series of hardcovers for reprinting classic runs.
  • DC's Justice League of America and Marvel's The Avengers, both teams consisting of the biggest superheroes from each company.
  • Champions (2016) and Teen Titans (Rebirth) were both launched within a few months of each other as flagship teen-superhero team books of Marvel and DC's respective waves of comics in 2016. Both feature very diverse cast, both (initially) featured Animesque art styles, and both were the subject of a large Broken Base (mostly breaking on each respective writers interpretation of the characters). Their main differences are that Champions features mostly characters with solo titles of their own while Teen Titans doesn't, and the Champions team initially tries to tackle social issues while the Titans focuses more on battling supervillains.
  • Wonder Woman #161 presents an In-Universe example with two rival films based on the "Curse of Cleopatra" in production at the same time which Countess Draska Nishki tries using to disguise her involvement in the murders of a few cast members.
  • Subverted with Marvel & DC's comic book adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, in a situation reminiscent of the production of The Towering Inferno. In 1975, both Marvel and DC were planning comic book adaptations of The Wizard of Oz. While Marvel was going to adapt the original novel, which had fallen into the public domain by then, DC had obtained the license for MGM's film adaptation. When the editors from the two companies (Stan Lee and Carmine Infantino) learned about each other's plans, and realized the risk of cannibalizing their own books, they decided to combine the projects as a collaborative effort, marking it a special event and paving the way for Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man the next year.
  • In another case of Marvel doing this within itself, 2002's U-Decide event, where a reboot of Peter David's run on Captain Marvel and the infamous Marville, was spawned because of an argument David had with the latter's equally-infamous writer, then-Marvel president Bill Jemas. Lesser known, to the point that Lewis Lovhaug didn't even bother to mention it during his reviews of Marville for Atop the Fourth Wall, is the third title in this stunt, Ultimate Adventures, a parody of Batman set in the Ultimate Marvel universe. For the record, not only did David's Captain Marvel win, but Marville came in dead last in sales, even against Ultimate Adventures, though as stated, Ultimate Advetures is often forgotten.

    Fan Works 

  • Disney's Frozen franchise and Dreamworks' Trolls franchise could be considered this. Both franchises are major cash cow franchises aimed at girls that are set in fantasy worlds and have a major focus on music. They both also have Christmas specials that were released the same exact weekend, and have upcoming sequels slated to be released in the same 3-month timeframe. In terms of DVD sales, Frozen is the more popular film, but Trolls has moved more merchandise than Frozen ever since it was released to theaters, to the point where it was the second-biggest licensed property the year it came out, only beaten by Star Wars.
  • In 2016, two different toy companies came out with toys based on the "unboxing" craze: Hatchimals, which were made by Canadian company Spin Master, and L.O.L. Surprise! by MGA. Though the first had a very strong start with being 2016's most popular toy and some pieces of branded merchandise, L.O.L. Surprise!, on the other hand, beat out Barbie as the top-selling doll brand by 2017 and has had sold more products since than Hatchimals ever since.

  • In the 1960s and even today, Dune series and The Foundation Trilogy, have been compared and contrasted many times due to their similar focus on space civilizations. Both were released during the "New Wave" science fiction craze where there was more focus on stories and characters rather than just being about science. That rivalry was later revived in 2020 after live-action adaptations of the two were revealed.
    • It's purely based on the reader which book they would prefer. Although it is understood that while The Foundation Trilogy has better depiction of futurism and science, Dune had more interesting characters, story and mythos.
  • The fantasy genre also has its own dueling works in 1960s in the form of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Both take place in a fantasy setting and both use folkloric and religious themes in their stories. The authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were colleagues and close friends who both shared and exchanged each other ideas, hence to why some themes were similar.
  • In 2004 and 2005 respectively, two vampire romance books were released, Twilight and Let the Right One In. Both had stories about humans falling in love with mysterious vampires, and tackles themes about family and loneliness. The differences are the age of the protagonists between the books, and the fact that one focuses on heterosexual romance while the other focuses on homosexual romance. The rivalry came to a head in 2008, when both books had their film adaptations in the same year.
    • Stephenie Meyer's book and film(s) ultimately earned more money, but John Ajvide Lindqvist's garnered more critical acclaim, with Rogert Ebert calling the film adaptation the "best modern vampire movie".
  • Two famous examples of battle royale literature, Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, have been compared with each other due to having almost identical premise with minor differences. Both take place in a dystopian world where the government is oppressive. Both have young boys and girls made to fight a battle to the death for society's entertainment (as well as to make dissidents docile). And most importantly are the protagonists, Shuya Nanahara in Battle Royale and Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, would later become revolutionaries after surviving the game. The only differences are the obvious country setting, and the fact that in the Japanese book the students face off against their classmates, while the American novel has strangers fight each other. There is also a lack of guns in the American book (which is ironic).
    • Suzanne Collins herself admitted that, although she has never read Battle Royale, she was stunned to find out that someone had already done the whole "youngsters killing each other" theme. Her editor encouraged her to publish it anyway.
  • Two of the most famous geek culture literature, Ready Player One and Escapist Dream, fit this bill. Although the two books are separated roughly nine years apart, Escapist Dream was released two years after the more popular Ready Player One film adaptation. Since then both books have been compared and contrasted because they both tackled geeks and pop culture references, inside a virtual reality world no less. The major difference is that Ready Player One referenced the 1980s while Escapist Dream referenced modern 2010s culture.
    • Everything came to a point when one reviewer by the name of Carl Hannigan pointed out that Escapist Dream was "better than Ready Player One" in his article. For the most part, Ernest Cline's novel seems to have the better writing since it is a traditionally published book compared to its self-published counterpart, but Louis Bulaong's novel is noted to have better likeable characters and references that made sense.
  • On March 19, 2018, there were two children's books written about the pet rabbit of Vice President Mike Pence's family, Marlon Bundo, written from different sides of the political spectrum. The official version was written and illustrated by two of his daughters and was little more than a fluff promotional piece for them. Meanwhile, the other version was created by the team behind Last Week Tonight with John Oliver satirizing his more controversial views while still being for children and containing An Aesop about acceptance and the power of democracy, as well as all of the proceeds going to gay charities. While they both entered the bestseller's list on Amazon, John Oliver's won out by selling more copies (even reaching the #1 spot) and gaining way more positive reviews.
  • Survivors, Dogs of the Drowned City, and The Last Dogs are three similar series that came out around the same time. They're children's xenofiction literature about a group of dogs surviving on their own in a city after their humans evacuate due to a natural disaster (an earthquake and a hurricane respectively in the first two) or a disease sweeping throughout the country (in The Last Dogs). Dogs of the Drowned City was a trilogy, The Last Dogs was a tetralogy, and Survivors has twelve books and three novellas.
  • The 2010s have the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch and the Shadow Police series by Paul Cornell, which are both stories about Metropolitan Police "magical crime" squads written by former Doctor Who writers.
  • 2020 saw the release of three books that were revivals of young adult series that were popular in the late 2000's-early 2010's: Midnight Sun (a Perspective Flip of the first Twilight book), The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (a prequel to The Hunger Games focusing on President Snow), and Hawk (a Spin-Offspring sequel to the Maximum Ride series).

  • Blur and Oasis. Both are popular BritPop bands that rose to prominence in the 90's. Both bands even competed in the "Battle of Brit Pop". Both would also eventually move away from the genre once it started to die out.
  • Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless, both being 2010s Hard Rock bands with female lead vocalists, get compared a lot, e.g. this video. The two groups toured together for a month in 2015 and from the sound of it their respective frontwomen Lzzy Hale and Taylor Momsen actually get along pretty well.
  • Whenever an artist releases multiple albums on the same day, there can be a competition to see which one will sell the most copies (examples: Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I and II, Bruce Springsteen's Human Touch and Lucky Town, and the solo albums of all four KISS members).
  • The classic example for this trope in music would be The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. However, their rivalry was quietly a friendly one. Furthermore, the former's acrimonious break-up apparently inspired the latter to reassess their own band's group cohesion and take steps to ensure they stay together in reasonable harmony. As a result, while the Beatles' legacy has been unmatched in influence over the decades, the Rolling Stone's longevity as one of the great rock bands of all time is near-legend.
  • In 2008, there were two highly anticipated releases by dormant bands just one month apart: Ac Dc's Black Ice, after eight years away, and Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, which had become the go-to example of "album that wouldn't come out" after over a decade in development. Both struck exclusive deals with big retailers, Walmart for Black Ice and Best Buy for Chinese Democracy. In the end, Axl Rose's Australian idols won handily as Black Ice was the second best-selling album of the year while Chinese Democracy couldn't even top the American charts (better marketing and promotion certainly helped).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Buck Rogers (first published in 1928) and Flash Gordon (first published in 1934) were both adventure stories about a brave young man in a science fiction setting. The two works together helped codify the Raygun Gothic aesthetic.

  • An Older Than Steam example: in 17th century Paris, the two only permanent theatres (Théâtre de l'Hotel de Bourgogne and Théâtre du Marais) would compete via "dueling pieces", sharing the same themes (and often adapted from the same foreign plays) and tailored for the "stars" of the respective troupes.
  • Rival choreographers Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett may not have intended Chicago and A Chorus Line as duelling works, but as Ben Brantley (chief theater critic for the New York Times) argued in his review of the 1996 revival of Chicago, both are Broadway musicals that opened in 1975 and center on aspiring stage performers, but while "A Chorus Line was built on the premise that if you scratch the surface of an entertainer, you'll find a trembling, vulnerable child; Chicago scratched that same surface to uncover a manipulative egomaniac." Additionally, while the original production of A Chorus Line held the record for longest-running Broadway musical for many years, the revival of Chicago has since surpassed it, and is now second only to Phantom of the Opera.note 
  • The SpongeBob Musical and Escape From Margaritaville could be considered this, as both are tropical-themed musicals based on well-know pop culture icons that deal with the main characters facing a disaster and trying to stop it. While SpongeBob has received glowing praise, the reviews for Margaritaville have been negative. To make matters worse, there had been reports of the audience at the latter show acting very rude (doing thing like acting drunk and singing along to the songs). However, neither of them were big successes at the box office, with both shows closing the same year. However, the soundtrack for the former became a Billboard Kids' Audio hit, even after the show closed.
  • Disney Junior Dance Party and Nick Jr.'s Move To The Music are two dance party-themed touring shows based on popular preschool blocks that are touring around the same time (however, the Disney show has seniority over the Nick once, premiering a year and a half before). While the first version of the Disney show was poorly received because most of the characters were just screen projections and not costumes and because most of the time was spent with the DJ hosts, the second version was seen as better in the eyes of most fans. As the Nick Jr. show has yet to open, it's unknown how well it will do.
  • In 2018, two musicals focusing on LGBT issues, The Prom and Tootsie, opened on Broadway. While Tootsie received glowing praise and 11 Tony nominations, The Prom has been met with mixed reviews, although it did receive seven Tony nominations.
  • Two musical adaptations of The Wild Party came out in 2000, with Michael John LaChiusa's running on Broadway and Andrew Lippa's Off-Broadway. However, both flopped.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar came out in 1970 and Godspell came out the year after. Both feature Jesus in a version of biblical times with modern technology. They were then both turned into movies in 1973.

    Theme Parks 
  • In 1935, the first themed attraction in the United States, Santa's Candy Castle, was opened up in Santa Claus Indiana to capitalize on all the attention the town was getting for it's name. Across the street from the Candy Castle, a rival Santa Claus themed attraction called Toy Town was also created. The conflict over the similar attractions and disputes over the land on the park led to years of lawsuits, which went all the way up to the Indiana Supreme Court. In 1946, a third competitor opened up Santa Claus Land in the town, which was later rebranded as Holiday World.
  • In 2011, both Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream had a haunted house based around Edgar Allan Poe, and both houses were even titled Nevermore.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dueling Shows, Duelling Works, Duelling Shows


Civil War vs. BvS

The Honest Trailer for Captain America: Civil War describes the many plot similarities with Batman vs. Superman, which were both released in 2016.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / DuelingWorks

Media sources:

Main / DuelingWorks