The way he acts,
Is he reminding you of anyone we know?
Isn't he so
Like certain people I could name?"
An expy (short "exported character") is a character from one series who is unambiguously and deliberately based on a character in another, older series. A few minor traits, such as age or hair color, may change, but there's no doubt that they are almost one and the same. They often turn up in different works by the same writer(s) or production team.
This can simply be the tendency of writers to prefer certain characterizations for important characters (or knowing which ones are most marketable/popular), or the influence of the design process. On the other hand, it may just be a bad attempt to try to revive a character who the writer liked, but nobody else did and had to get rid of it. When by a different author, it may be an homage to the original creator and/or character or because the author did not have the rights to use the work and wanted to avoid copyright or trademark infringement issues. In the negative sense, an expy can be seen as just a bloated, gimmicky version of a perfectly serviceable past character. In a positive sense, it can refer to an "upgrade" of a two-dimensional or otherwise limited character to one more appreciably complex.
Remember that Tropes Are Not Bad; an expy can give an old character concept a new lease on life, take it in a different direction, adapt it to a new medium, or simply do something with it that's as good or better than the original. Iconic characters like Yogi Bear and Mickey Mouse are obvious clones of Art Carney and Felix the Cat respectively, but that hasn't stopped them from being among the most acclaimed cartoon characters of all time.
Theory: any Characters as Device trope, if taken to the extreme, can result in the character appearing to be a mere expy of the Trope Codifiers for that trope. Especially if the character is Flanderized to the point of having few defining characteristics outside of the trope they represent. See Fountain of Expies.
Most often seen in animation and video games, where it's much easier to make a newer character resemble an older one. Occasionally happens when characters from different stories end up sharing voice actors, making or even forcing their personalities to look even more similar, which often leads to jokes based on the voice actor's former role.
When the character appears in the same series as the previous character, they're often a Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
The key difference between this and Captain Ersatz is that an expy, while deliberately based on some other character, is still their own person, while Captain Ersatz is obviously the same character but with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. Please keep this distinction in mind before adding an example here. Also note that a fictional counterpart to a real-life person would not be an expy. When a character strongly resembles a real person, rather than a fictional character, that's No Celebrities Were Harmed. If the character is meant as an homage without being identical, it could be a Shout-Out instead. A quick glance around TV Tropes will reveal just how often these mistakes are made on this very wiki.
Remember that an Expy must be a clearly deliberate reference on the part of the author; superficial or random coincidental similarities (even very striking ones) do not qualify, so if you aren't certain, they probably are not an Expy. Because many character archetypes and tropes that compose characters are universal, it is easy for readers to fall into thinking that a particular character in the same general archetype resembles someone from their favorite show or novel, especially when Small Reference Pools lead readers to overestimate the cultural impact of their favorite characters.
Spiritual Successor is a similar trope scaled up to an entire work, and thus as a result often features Expies of characters from the original work.
Compare to Bleached Underpants, Alternate Company Equivalent, Name's the Same, Roman à Clef, Similar Squad, Same Story, Different Names, Suspiciously Similar Song, Distaff Counterpart, Surprisingly Similar Stories, Evil Counterpart, Whole Plot Reference. Not to be confused with XP, nor XP.
For specific characters that tend to inspire expies, see Fountain of Expies. For a series with numerous different expies in its cast, see Cast of Expies. When an expy and the character that inspired are both found in the same universe, then you have Expy Coexistence.
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