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Expy Coexistence

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The Supermen of the multiverse.

"Wow, you know Lucius Sweet? He's exactly as rich and as famous as Don King, and he looks just like him too!"
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons, "The Homer They Fall"

Often, a show uses an Expy to create an original take (or a legal shortcut) on a character, a company, a franchise, a person, or any entity. In many of them, they might exist as a Captain Ersatz of the original, or just to be an equivalent but original take on an entity. It is always implied that they are the replacement for that entity in that universe... but sometimes it turns out that last statement is not true. In other words, this is an aversion of the Celebrity Paradox, in-universe.

In this trope, an Expy lives alongside the original characters, and nothing is weird about that. If there is a gang of famous characters, he might be part of that gang in that show's universe. These are common in animated shows that straddle the line between cartoon and reality, such as Animaniacs and Drawn Together. They may often be said to be a fan, a friend, or a hated rival of the real person whom they are an Expy of.

Also, if this story takes place in our universe, and it is established that the Expy and the original both exist as fictional entities, that would raise the question as to why the creator has not sent a cease-and-desist letter, or sued them for everything they have.

Note: this trope does not apply when the character is NOT an Expy of a famous character, but hangs out with famous characters or people. For example, in The Critic, Jay Sherman is a famous TV film critic who is friends with other famous real-life critics, like Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert, Gene Shalit, Rex Reed, etc. But because Jay is not intended to be a direct take on any of them, this trope does not apply. Compare and contrast with Lawyer-Friendly Cameo, Celebrity Paradox and Mutually Fictional.


Examples on subpages

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  • The notorious McDonald's mascot Happy was created to cash in on the popularity of the Minions from the Despicable Me franchise, with ads for Happy Meal tie-ins to Despicable Me 3 and Minions featuring Happies interacting with Minions.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Suzu of Ayakashi Triangle shares several traits with Empress Iyo, the deuteragonist of Kentaro Yabuki's first manga Yamato Gensouki. Iyo implicitly exists in the past of Ayakashi Triangle just by merit of being a Historical Domain Character, and a one-panel flashback heavily suggests she or her mother Himiko was an ayakashi medium, and thus one of the Suzu's past lives. Eventually, more elements of Yamato Gensouki are overtly Canon Welded in, establishing the woman seen as Himiko and Iyo (who has the same character design) as the first ayakashi medium.
  • In Billy Bat, mangaka Zofuu-sensei is likely modeled upon Osamu Tezuka, trademark beret included, but Tezuka is mentioned as being an influential famous comic book artist.
  • Gintama features recurring manga Gintaman, which is basically the same series run through the trope filter hundreds of times. Gintama itself also exists in-universe, best shown when Gintoki hits Kintoki over the head with every volume up to that point in his debut arc.
  • Several installments of Lupin III have featured Expies or supposed descendants of Sherlock Holmes, such as Holmes III from Part 2 and Kōsuke Holmes Akechi from Part 4. The plot of Lupin III Part 6 sees Lupin clash with the real Sherlock Holmes after being framed for the murder of John Watson.
  • Hawks of My Hero Academia was created to substitute a role intended for the bird man Takahiro, a Transplant from Oumagadoki Doubutsuen. Takahiro finally showed up as a pro hero in My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, meaning both heroes are operating in-universe.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The Japanese intro to one special shows that the rival from Pokémon Gold and Silver exists in the anime universe. Years later he was given an expy in Ash's Sinnoh rival Paul.
    • Dawn has a Childhood Friend named Kenny who has a similar role and design to the rival from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Later in that same arc, the rival did appear as Barry. As the result of this, Barry isn't Dawn's childhood friend unlike in the games.
    • Delibird is clearly inspired by Santa Claus, who has also appeared in the anime. In fact, the two have appeared together in an episode.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha franchise has multiple cases of characters being reused, though the most prominent example would probably be Nanoha herself and Miura. What makes this one especially noticable is that Miura is probably the only expy in the series that fufils a completely different role from their original (Nanoha is the primary protagonist of the franchise and Miura is a secondary Friendly Rival to Nanoha's daughter).
  • Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon was created as an Expy of Minako Aino/Sailor Venus, who originally starred in a 1991 one-shot manga that eventually became the franchise's prequel Codename: Sailor V. Though Minako starts off as Sailor V in that series, she later made her debut as Sailor Venus in the Sailor Moon manga and joined the main cast. Since Minako and Usagi are already very similar in personality and looks, the anime would later flanderize Minako's sillier traits in order to differentiate the two.
  • Studio TRIGGER's Space Patrol Luluco has Over Justice, a Hot-Blooded skeletal police chief, just as Studio Trigger's Inferno Cop's titular character was a Hot-Blooded skeletal police officer. When Luluco dies and is sent to Hell, she meets Inferno Cop, who even turns out to be an old friend of Over Justice's. Ironically, Inferno Cop has mellowed out since his last appearance, and is amused by Luluco's belief that he resembles Over Justice.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Rachel, protagonist of Beyond the Borders, is loosely based on Tempest, the protagonist of the author's previous fic, A Decent Self-Insert, probably. While Tempest hasn't appeared "on-screen", Rachel offhandedly lists her among some people she knows on the internet, thus confirming that she exists in this universe as well.
  • Since Infinity Train: Boiling Point is inspired by Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, the main trio (Boscha, Chris, and Phosphophyllite) are based on the Red Lotus Trio from the latter. Chapter 7 eventually reveals that a version of the Red Lotus Trio exists in this universe, with them being fully revealed by Chapter 13.
  • Liquid's Resident Evil: Elza Walker was created for Resident Evil 1.5., the prototype of Resident Evil 2, and redesigned into Claire. In this series, Elza is a full-fledged character, with her and Claire even meeting and working together during the events of Code Veronica.
  • My Hero Academia: Mechanical green: Durandal, a Robot Dog that functions as an emotional support animal for Izuku after she tried and failed to kill herself, is an expy of numerous robot dogs, including Blade Wolf from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Numerous characters, including Durandal himself, make reference to the Metal Gear series existing In-Universe though, with even Tomura Shigaraki saying Izuku's Sports Festival match with Mei while both wore Powered Armor made from their robot dogs felt like the long awaited sequel to Revengeance.
  • As noted in the Anime & Manga Expy subpage, Ritchie is an expy to both Ash and Red, the protagonist of Pokémon Red and Blue videogames. In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Red exists along with both Ash and Ritchie in the new timeline, and they're all paternal half-siblings.
  • Tales of Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Madonna Garnet was created as a replacement for Topaz. Here, they both work for GUN and are sisters.
    • Keith Kent hails from a separate Sonic fic, Sonic Adventures, where he serves as an expy of Chris. Here, they're maternal cousins.
  • World War Etheria: The fic incorporates the Star Sisters, background characters in Princess Prom, are major players for a large part of the story. When the action moves to space the Star Siblings from Stranded show up, and are equally relevant to the plot. Two members from each trio and even hook up at the end.

    Films — Animation 
  • Animal Crackers: The character of Horatio was partially inspired by Elvis Presley. At one point in his Villain Song, Horatio laments that he "should've been bigger than Elvis, with the fortune of a king."
  • At one point in Bee Movie Barry is interviewed by a bee version of Larry King which gets lampshaded when Barry informs him that humans have their own version of him.
  • Coco: Ernesto de la Cruz is influenced by various Mexican actors and singers, with the creators specifically citing Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete as inspirations for his persona and singing ability - so at one point he briefly bumps into both of them.
  • Raymond Briggs's father, Ernest makes a background cameo in Father Christmas. There's another cameo from Jim and Hilda Bloggs from When the Wind Blows, whom Briggs based on his parents.
  • Dracula's father, Vlad from Hotel Transylvania 2 Looks Like Orlok. It's a rare case of him being an expy of an expy of his own son.
  • Downplayed by Louis in The Princess and the Frog. His name and mannerisms make him a No Celebrities Were Harmed caricature of Louis Armstrong. In his song, he openly name-drops Armstrong as one of his inspirations as a trumpet player.
  • Queer Duck: The Movie begins with Queer Duck attempting to organize a gay day at the theme park Happyland. Happyland is an obvious pastiche of Disneyland, but a statement by Queer Duck's boyfriend Openly Gator indicates that Disneyland exists in the same universe.
  • Rango: By Johnny Depp's own admission, the titular character is heavily influenced by Hunter S. Thompson's Raoul Duke persona. Since the movie is set in the desert surrounding Las Vegas, it was perhaps inevitable that Duke himself would show up.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • Two of the main characters, Fix-It Felix Jr. and Wreck-It Ralph, are from a video game known as Fix-It Felix Jr., an old arcade game from The '80s that is modeled after Donkey Kong and Wrecking Crew. While Fix-It Felix is an expy of Mario, he also offhandedly mentions that Mario himself was supposed to come to their 30th anniversary party but is "fashionably late, as per the norm".note 
    • Ralph Breaks the Internet has a company example: there's dozens of real-world brands throughout the film, but the video uploading site BuzzzTube is a fictional YouTube analogue. However, the YouTube logo can be seen in the film and the site is even mentioned once by Yesss, BuzzzTube's main algorithm.
  • Happy Heroes 2: The Battle of Planet Qiyuan: Mr. Lightbulb intends to hire Aprilday, a band which is a reference to the Taiwanese band Mayday, for the racing competition. When he is told he isn't able to book them, he asks if he can hire the real Mayday instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951) is partly based on the 1925 case of Floyd Collins, a man who became trapped in a cave while the attempts to rescue him turned into a media circus. The protagonist, a reporter covering the incident, mentions Floyd Collins as a similar case from a few decades ago.
  • Gary Winston, the Big Bad of Antitrust, is transparently based on Bill Gates, but Gates is also acknowledged as existing in the movie, apparently as a rival. At one point Winston turns his nose up when a piece of technology he owns is compared to a similar one that Gates has in real life, and replies that Gates' version of the technology is primitive.
  • Big Daddy has a show with a singing kangaroo which is an obvious parody of Barney the Dinosaur but a dialogue with Sonny and Julian reveals that Barney as a show exists as well.
  • Blades of Glory heavily involves the World Winter Sports Games, a lawyer-friendly parody of the Winter Olympic Games, but a coach mentions having trained other skaters who did compete at the Olympics.
  • An attempt that backfired big-time: at the very beginning of Citizen Kane, a throwaway line compares Charles Foster Kane to the Real Life media magnate William Randolph Hearst, acknowledging that Kane is a completely different (to not mention fictional) person. Hearst still felt incredibly insulted at what the movie supposedly implied of him and used all of the power of his media empire to try to censor the film and make Orson Welles' life a living hell.
  • In Club Dread, the singer Coconut Pete is clearly based off Jimmy Buffett, but he swears that Buffett ripped him off and that his song "Pinacoladaburg" actually predates "Margaritaville."
  • The events in Dante's Peak are inspired by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, but characters make comparisons to Mount St. Helens and Dr. Dalton’s team are introduced as working at a Real Life volcano observatory named for a geologist killed in that eruption. Somewhat justified as the Cascades are a volcanic region and another such eruption occurring in the region is completely plausible.
  • In Death to Smoochy, Smoochy the purple rhino is modeled after Barney the purple dinosaur. One of the insults Randolph hurls at him during a tirade is "bastard son of Barney", establishing that Barney also exists in-universe.
  • The Devil's Advocate: Alexander Cullen is clearly inspired by Donald Trump, to the point that he is shown to reside in Trump's real life apartment in Trump Tower. However, a party scene has a minor character state "Donald Trump was supposed to be here tonight but he had a business emergency".
  • Evil Dead (2013) is all but stated to be a Stealth Sequel to the original trilogy by to Ash Williams appearing in The Stinger. However, Ash vs. Evil Dead and Word of God before that confirmed that the events of the original movie, and not the recaps seen in its sequels in which all of the original film's cast were Adapted Out, are canon, meaning two very similar groups of friends went to the same cabin and got possessed by Deadites roughly 30 years apart, and Olivia, Eric and Natalie will meet Linda, Scotty and Shelly in Heaven.
  • The Frighteners: Big Bad John Charles Bartlett is inspired by Spree Killer Charles Starkweather, down to having an underage girlfriend who helped him with his murders. Bartlett clearly idolizes Starkweather, mentioning him multiple times and just as he is about to be executed, he brags that he managed to beat Starkweather's bodycount.
  • In The Identical, one of the separated twins grows up to be Elvis Presley in all but name. He has the same basic backstory as Elvis, with the same music style. However, one scene reveals that Elvis already exists in this universe. It makes you wonder what Elvis himself would have to say about someone exactly like him.
  • The Big Bad of In the Mouth of Madness, Sutter Kane, is a pretty blatantly obvious Stephen King-expy. King himself is also revealed to exist in the film's universe, but it's said Kane's novels are more popular than his.
  • In The Last Samurai, one of Katsumoto and Algren's conversations establishes that George Custer and his last stand existed in this universe just like in real life. Yet there's a villain (Colonel Bagley) who might as well be Custer, both in appearance and in being an arrogant, racist 7th Cavalry officer who's massacred Native Americans.
  • The main character of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has a lot in common with Jacques Cousteau (although according to Wes Anderson, he's also based on some other famous explorers from Anderson's youth, like Thor Heyerdahl), but at one point, Zissou refers to "Cousteau and his cronies" as rivals.
  • The Mask of Zorro features the historical Mexican bandit Joaquin Murieta in a small role (he dies early in the movie), while Joaquin's brother Alejandro (a fictional character) is trained by an ageing Don Diego to replace him under the costume of Zorro. Joaquin Murieta has been speculated to be one of the sources of inspiration for the character of Zorro.
  • In Network, the Ecumenical Liberation Army is an obvious parody of the Symbionese Liberation Army—but then the SLA is mentioned and the similarities are noted ("There's a hell of a lot of liberation armies in the revolutionary underground and a lot of kidnapped heiresses").
  • The Rocky franchise establishes that Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, and Muhammad Ali all exist in its universe, despite the former two being inspirations for Balboa and the latter an inspiration for Apollo Creed.
  • Spaceballs:
    Yogurt: I am the keeper of a greater magic. A power known throughout the universe, known as....
    Barf: The Force?
    Yogurt: No. The Schwartz.
    • Earlier, President Skroob agrees to get beamed via teleporter manned by a very Scottish engineer and says "It always works on Star Trek."
  • Titanic: The fictitious Heart of the Ocean has an identical backstory to the real Hope Diamond, which was originally known as the Blue Diamond of the French Crown, or French Blue, and disappeared in 1792 during the French Revolution before getting recut into a new shape. Brock mentions the Hope Diamond by name, saying that the Heart of the Ocean would be worth far more.
  • Ultraman Saga introduces Taiga Nozomu, who the rest of Super GUTS note is extremely similar to Shin Asuka, Dyna's host. Taken a step further when Taiga becomes the host to Ultraman Zero. By the film's climax, Taiga as Zero and Shin as Dyna are fighting side by side against Hyper Zetton.

  • Several works by Kim Newman feature or refer to Dr. Shade, a vigilante similar to The Shadow. In "The Original Dr. Shade", about a writer working on modern reboot series about the character, it's mentioned that the Shadow also exists in-universe and the Shadow's publishers once sued Dr. Shade's publishers over the resemblance.
  • In Basil of Baker Street (and its famous adaptation), the titular detective mouse lives under the floor boards of the real Sherlock who makes short cameos in the film.
  • Bimbos of the Death Sun: Murder victim and author Appin Dungannon is short, has a Hair-Trigger Temper and tremendous ego, and is something of a Dirty Old Man. The story goes out of the way to mention that Harlan Ellison might be a good candidate to write his eulogy.
  • Frankenstein-818 in The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids is a robot who's adopted a persona and mannerism inspired by Baron Frankenstein, complete with his own castle and his own hunchbacked assistant — because he apprenticed under the real deal.
  • Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada is based on Anna Wintour, the notoriously formidable editor-in-chief of Vogue. It's said that Lauren Weisberger wrote the book as a means of revenge on Wintour for being a Bad Boss to her when Weisberger was her PA. In the book, Priestly and Wintour are in one scene said to be bitter rivals. Anna Wintour herself actually turned up to the premiere of the Film of the Book, wearing Prada.
  • Diogenes Club:
    • The Big Bad of the series is a powerful media mogul based on Rupert Murdoch. The story "You Don't Have to Be Mad..." features several Real Life people who were significant in the eighties, each referenced by an abreviation of their name that also serves as a play on their particular obsession. One is an Australian who wants everyone to think what he thinks, and sucks up to "Mrs Empty", known as "Rumour".
    • In the the 1970s section of Seven Stars it's briefly mentioned that the less traditional members of the Club include "King", who is almost certainly Jason King. Richard Jeperson, the extremely seventies main character of the Diogenes series, is a Jason King pastiche.
    • "Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch" features multiple occultists from other sources such as Oliver Haddo and Julian Karswell, who are No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of Alistair Crowley. In addition, "Angel Down, Sussex" features the real Crowley.
  • The Doctor Who New Series Adventures novel, Winner Takes All has a Sonic the Hedgehog expy called Percy The Porcupine. Sonic The Hedgehog later appears listed amongst Mickey's video games.
  • Fangirl: main character Cath writes fanfiction for the Simon Snow books, a series about a boy attending a magical school in Britain that acts as a clear stand-in for Harry Potter. However, the Harry Potter books also exist in this universe. Word of God says that they are Dueling Works. The Simon Snow series was later defictionalised – sort of – as Carry On.
  • Andi Ra' coming to Earth to warn humanity in Go, Mutants!, is based on Klaatu from The Day The Earth Stood Still though Klaatu is mentioned as a separate character and his robot master Gort makes a cameo cutting some grass.
  • High Society by Ben Elton features a character who is clearly 'inspired' by Robbie Williams. However, Robbie Williams is mentioned in the book and the character in question has even met him.
  • ORSK in Horrorstör is clearly a satire of IKEA, yet it's established on the first page of prose that in-universe it's just a bargain basement ripoff of the actual IKEA.
  • InCryptid has both Walt Disney World and its expy Lowryland, which are mentioned to be competitors both located in Florida.
  • In his expanded adventures in novels and comics, Indiana Jones has mentioned (and sometimes teamed up with) several of the real-life explorers who have been suggested as inspirations for the character, including Percy Fawcett and Hiram Bingham.
  • Iris Wildthyme was written as a female parody of Doctor Who. When her author, Paul Magrs started writing Doctor Who tie-in novels, she was Canon Welded into the series as another Time Lord.
  • In Sinclair Lewis's novel It Can't Happen Here, a right-wing demagogue named Buzz Windrip becomes President of the United States and establishes a fascist dictatorship. Windrip is clearly based on Huey Long, but Long is mentioned a few times in the book and compared to Windrip.
  • Jago by Kim Newman is set in a fictional Somerset village with an annual music festival similar to the real-life Glastonbury Festival. At one point, a character reels off a list of other locations in England with their own music festivals, and buried in the list is Pilton, the real Somerset village that hosts the Glastonbury Festival.
  • In The Kraken Wakes, the main character works for the EBC (English Broadcasting Company). There's a running gag of people saying "don't you mean BBC?".
  • At one point in Lolita, the Villain Protagonist Humbert Humbert refers to a real-life child abduction case which is thought to be one of the inspirations for the novel's story: "Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?"
  • Lev Grossman's The Magicians series satirizes both Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia. The Potter books are occasionally mentioned by the characters. Word of God is inconsistent if the Narnia books exist in this universe. This in-universe site about Christopher Plover mentions him alongside other famous children's authors such a C. S. Lewis, but Grossman in an interview states that in the Magiciansverse, C.S. Lewis was never born, and that if he had been, he and Christopher Plover would have collapsed into each other and formed a space-time singularity.
  • Count Orlok from Nosferatu was written as a copyright-friendly Dracula. Anno Dracula has Drac ruling Britain and Count Orlok running the Tower of London.
  • The Skarloey Railway and its engines in The Railway Series are based on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales, and Skarloey and Rheneas frequently talk about their twins on the mainland (ie: the real engines they're based on).
  • In the Sherlock Holmes sequel-by-other-hands Mycroft and Sherlock, one of the Historical Domain Characters is Dr Joseph Bell, Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.
  • Solar Pons was one of the earlier Sherlock Homages but a retired Sherlock Holmes is mentioned in the books but only referred as The Master.
  • Superfolks protagonist, David Brinkley, Captain Mantra and Mary Mantra are based on Superman, Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel respectively. Most DC characters, exist in this universe, though Supes and the Marvels are all dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The second season of Agent Carter featured as its Big Bad an actress named Whitney Frost, whose backstory (a famous '40s actress who secretly is also a brilliant scientist) was confirmed by the showrunners to reference Hedy Lamarr. However, Lamarr is mentioned to also exist during the season.
  • Season seven of Arrow features Oliver's paternal half-sister Emiko, who in the comics, is an expy of Thea, his maternal half-sister in the series, who in turn is an expy of Mia Dearden. Both Thea and Emiko meet in the Grand Finale.
  • The Batwoman (2019)'s second season featured Arthur Brown, alias Cluemaster, a highly intelligent Insufferable Genius obsessed with leaving clues behind to his next scheme, proving himself the smartest intellect on the planet, and figuring out how someone managed to outsmart him. All of that sounds exactly like that of The Riddler (though Cluemaster claims Riddler is jealous of him and not the other way around), who exists (but is yet unseen) in the Arrowverse.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth had General Melchett, basically Field Marshal Haig with a Lord Kitchener moustache, as the most obvious and frequently-seen face of good old-fashioned WWI strategic incompetence. Haig himself was later shown in the series; he's shown to have Melchett's utter disregard for human life but none of the delusional bombast.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine has the Skyfire Circle books, which Terry is a HUGE fan of:
    Boyle: [in the middle of Terry describing the books] So it's a Game of Thrones-type thing.
    Terry: No, Game of Thrones is a Skyfire-type thing; get your head out of your ass!
  • Community features a Doctor Whomage called Inspector Spacetime. Within the Community canon, it is established that Doctor Who also exists but is a cheap knock-off of the original, superior and more popular Inspector Spacetime.
  • In another example of when the Expy hates the real-life counterpart, the villain of the Doctor Who episodes "Arachnids in the UK" and 'Revolution of the Daleks" is a very obvious Trumplica — who mentions that he hates Donald Trump and plans to run against him in 2020.
  • An episode of Frasier featured Space Patrol, a Captain Ersatz of Star Trek, a franchise already established as existing on the show (Frasier even encounters a Klingon cosplayer in the episode where Space Patrol shows up).
  • Tim from Home Improvement was written as a parody of Bob Vila from This Old House. Vila occasionally appeared on the show as Tim's rival.
  • In Just Shoot Me!, Jack Gallow is a Trumplica - a business mogul with a daughter from his first marriage and married to her former classmate. He has ongoing golf and business rivalries with Trump, often resulting in Jack having to do something humiliating like wearing a fish in his trousers or getting a tattoo.
    Jack Gallow: Egomaniac has to have his name on everything.
  • Happens in nearly every episode of the Law & Order franchise. Whenever a character is a blatant Expy of a famous person, someone will make a single offhand reference to the Real Life inspiration, then that person will never be mentioned again, no matter how many eerie similarities pop up.
  • Being a stoic Mandalorian bounty hunter with a mysterious past and a cool suit of armor, the titular protagonist of The Mandalorian was clearly influenced by Boba Fett from the original Star Wars movies (and there are persistent rumors online about how much, if any, of the cancelled Boba Fett movie was ported into the show). However, Boba Fett himself appears in the show's second season (with Temuera Morrison reprising his role) and teams up with the Mandalorian. Going full circle, Boba Fett would even receive his own series with the Mandalorian guest starring in a few episodes.
  • One episode of NCIS: Los Angeles features a Church of Happyology whose legal defenses were explicitly compared to those used by the Church of Scientology.
  • Season 4 of Once Upon a Time features both Princess Elsa and her original fairytale inspiration, The Snow Queen. The two are even Related in the Adaptation, with Ingrid the Snow Queen being Elsa and Anna's aunt. To an extent, this also applies to Anna and Gerda, as Elsa and Anna's mother is Gerda in the show instead of Idunn as in the movies.
  • The 2017 remake of Os Trapalhões features a Superman Substitute named "Super Super". In one episode, he states his home planet was destroyed along with Krypton, suggesting Superman exists in Super Super's verse.
  • Roseanne had an episode where the Conners visited Disney World almost immediately followed by another episode where they satirized the theme park and its company with an Expy called Edelweiss Gardens. While initially a Take That!, the show's opinion seemed to reverse by mentioning the Gardens as essentially a bootleg Disney World.
  • The Saturday Night Live skit "Neurotology" is a fake music video produced by a Church of Happyology, but one of the captions mentions that one of the cultists shown later "Switched to Scientology".
  • In Silicon Valley, Hooli is very clearly meant to be a parody of Google, yet Google and its founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin are frequently name-dropped. Likewise, Keenan Feldspar and his company Retinabyte are clearly a parody of Palmer Luckey and Oculus, but an entire subplot started due to Erlich's mistaken belief that Jian-Yang had developed an Oculus related app.
  • Superstore: Cloud 9, the titular fictional superstore, is heavily based off Walmart, which Marcus namedrops in the Season 3 episode "Town Hall" (as well as Target and Costco).
  • T'Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise was originally conceived of as T'Pau from the original series episode "Amok Time" before becoming a new, similarly named character. T'Pau herself eventually appeared and met T'Pol in a three-parter in Enterprise Season 4.
  • In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, hotel magnate daughter London Tipton, who is pretty much Paris Hilton in all but name with the ditziness dialed up, offhandedly mentions Ms. Hilton when a teacher calls out having a spoiled heiress in her class.
  • Ted Lasso: Fictional English Premier League club AFC Richmond is heavily based on Crystal Palace FC, down to the show even using their stadium Selhurst Park to stand in for the fictional Nelson Road Stadium. However, Crystal Palace still exists in the show's universe and even shows up as Richmond's opponent in Ted's first match as manager.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The fictional luchador Huracán Ramirez was created for a movie that was meant to star El Santo but couldn't get the real thing, basically becoming Santo minus the mask. Mil Máscaras was an even more blatant Santo expy in that he did have a mask and, again, was created due to a contract dispute between Santo and a producer. EMLL, the promotion that gave Santo his gimmick in the first place, decided to turn both of these fictional movie Santo knockoffs into real luchadores on its live shows.
  • The Great Muta has a different wrestling style than The Great Kabuki, but uses the same face painted look and the same cheats. In the USA's National Wrestling Alliance territories, Muta was pushed as Kabuki's son. (They both get the look and cheats from Phillipeno wrestler Rey Urbano.)
  • The Road Warriors have many knockoffs, homages, tributes and pastiches, The Powers of Pain being the most obvious example and most relevant to this trope as they were put together with the long term goal of feuding with The Road Warriors, which they did. Demolition was a more obvious cash-in by a rival promotion, but they still ended up feuding with The Road Warriors and then the Powers Of Pain. In Chikara, The Devastation Corporation aren't just expies of the Road Warriors, but hearken back to the full on Legion of Doom by having a manager in Sidney Bakabella. However, while Chikara played up the similarities between Bakabella and Precious Paul Ellering, they had Ellering manage Demolition instead of the Road Warriors in a match against the Devastation Corporation.
  • Jimmy Jacobs was always a Fan Boy of wrestlers like Kevin Sullivan, but gradually became a Kevin Sullivan expy after using a railroad spike he claimed was a gift from Sullivan himself. Then Sullivan himself showed up to kick Jacobs's ass, although he was allowed to keep using the spike.
  • Abyss started off mostly as a Kane knockoff, but over the course of his TNA career became more and more like Mankind as well. This led up to Abyss being confronted by Mankind himself, Mick Foley.
  • Crosses over into Parody Assistance with El Sensactional Carlitos, who was given a gimmick meant to mock the leading Wrestling Family of rival fed WWC by IWA Puerto Rico. Carlitos ended up becoming a big star, but due to an internal attempt to sabotage IWA PR, he and Tag Team partner Hiram Tua were conned into leaving Puerto Rico and ended snatched up in WWC when they returned. WWC would then briefly team Carlitos up with Carlito Caribbean Cool himself.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street has had four seperate Trumplicas over the years: a grouch named Ronald Grump, a human named Ronald Grump, a grouch named Donald Grump, and an unnamed humanoid Muppet who met Donald Grump. There have also been several parody Muppets of celebrities who have themselves appeared on the show for "Sesame Street" Cred.
  • The Muppets Mayhem has in episode 7 a cameo by Peter Jackson where he reminisces about the Muppets meeting the Feebles in Wellington. So, a show aired on Disney+ revealed that the Muppets exist alongside their raunchy and violent counterparts.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons setting Ravenloft was built on the premise of a prison-like Demiplane of Dread, where every domain is ruled by different villains imprisoned in it, with many of them being expies of well-known classic horror villains. This includes Strahd Von Zarovich, a Classical Movie Vampire inspired by Dracula and opposed by Abraham Van Helsing expy, Rudolph Van Richten, Sir Tristen Hiregaard and Malken, expies of Doctor Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde (at least initially) and Victor (or Viktra in the fifth edition) Mordenheim, expy of Victor Frankenstein. Later Gothic Earth, a version of XIX-Century Earth populated by monstrous creatures, was introduced as part of Demiplane of Dread. On which Dracula, Abraham Van Helsing, Jekyll & Hyde and Victor Frankenstein all exist. However, the trope is downplayed as while the Gothic Earth characters and Darklords exist in one demiplane, the nature of it prevents them from interacting or knowing about each other.

  • Jasper in Deadland is heavily based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Both Jasper and Agnes are aware of this myth before they wind up in a near-identical situation, and Eurydice actually appears near the end of the second act.
  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui: Ui is a stand-in for Adolf Hitler. Each scene ends by displaying a news headline showing a story about the actual Hitler, which always mirrors whatever Ui was doing in the scene before.
  • A Very Potter Musical is a Harry Potter parody, which mostly uses the original names and settings. However, Hogwarts is also shown having a rival school called "Pigfarts" whose staff are all expies of those at Hogwarts.

  • In 1981, Hot Wheels came out with Turismo, a car based off a modified casting for the DeLorean after failing to obtain a license from DMC. 30 years later, the brand released the actual DMC DeLorean in its lineup, which was even given a red iteration in 2015 with the original Turismo's paintjob as a nod.

    Video Games 
  • In Alan Wake, the titular character is a celebrity horror author clearly inspired by Stephen King. Wake's Opening Monologue begins with the words "Stephen King once wrote..."
  • Animal Crossing has Jingle, the black nose reindeer as the holiday character for Toy Day who is a stand in for Santa Claus. Animal Crossing: New Horizons reveals if you invite him to The Roost that he works for the real Santa.
  • Liskarm from Arknights fights using a handgun and a ballistic shield capable of emitting flashes of blinding light, a loadout she shares with Blitz from Rainbow Six Siege. Fittingly, when the Intercontinuity Crossover Operation: Originium Dust saw four Operators from the latter make their way into the former, Blitz was one of them, and the event's story featured him fighting alongside Liskarm.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm: Tyalie is Pinkie Pie, a cheerful and energetic ball of sunshine with unexplained Medium Awareness, only as a Gamer Chick rather than a party pony. Pinkie Pie appears later in the game and can be recruited for a single boss fight if talked to enough times.
  • Dead by Daylight:
    • Killer "The Hillbilly" is a clear reference to Leatherface, both being Hillbilly Horrors armed with a hammer and chainsaw. A later update to the game introduced the actual Leatherface as a Guest Fighter, known in-game as "The Cannibal".
    • Later updates added the killer known as "The Legion", a Psycho Knife Nut with a collective identity assumed by multiple people which involves wearing a black hood and white mask. This was done in reference to Ghostface from Scream, and eventually the Ghostface Killer himself note  became a Guest Fighter in a separate update.
    • The later-added killer "The Spirit"—real name Rin Yamaoka—is a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl who was an innocent woman before being brutally murdered, and after her death, becomes a powerful onryō, a Vengeful Ghost fueled by The Power of Hate against the one who wronged her; all of this makes her a send-up to The Ring's Sadako Yamamura, one of the Trope Codifiers of the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl. Sadako herself was also added to the game later as yet another Guest Fighter called "The Onryō".
  • Dead Rising 2 is set in Fortune City, a mini Las Vegas. In-universe, the real Vegas was destroyed in a zombie outbreak years prior.
  • In EarthBound (1994), the creature Tessie who lives in Lake Tess in Winters is a Stock Ness Monster. A newspaper headline mentions Tessie is the cousin of Nessie.
  • In Europe 1200, the available companions include Robin Hood and the historical English outlaws Roger Godberd and Fulk FitzWarin, who has been speculated to be among the sources of inspiration for the Robin Hood legend.
  • Fallout: New Vegas features the Vikki and Vance Casino in the town of Primm, replacing Whisky Pete's, themed around a legendary Outlaw Couple that got gunned down in their car in a police shootout near a bank... however, Bonnie and Clyde are explicitly mentioned and compared to them, and it's stated that they began their crime spree two days before Bonnie and Clyde. Vikki and Vance however were much smaller-time criminals (whose major crime was check fraud) who got shot only because they tragically happened to get in the line of fire of the police firing at real bank robbers.
  • Fate Series: While Waver Velvet didn't start off as a Sherlock Homage when introduced in Fate/Zero, he's acquired enough similarities to him by the time of Lord El-Melloi II Case Files to warrant occasional Lampshade Hanging. Naturally, with the franchise being the Fantasy Kitchen Sink that it is, Sherlock Holmes also exists and even becomes the Mission Control in Fate/Grand Order's second Myth Arc. Should you manage to summon both of them as playable Servants, Holmes will even ask to have a chat with Waver (with one piece of official art implying that said chat involved Holmes's stash of chemical assistance).
  • Chocobos from Final Fantasy were meant to be a reference to the Japanese candy Chocoball, whose mascot was a bird known for saying "Kweh". Eventually, officially licensed Chocobo Chocoballs were made.
  • Fortnite:
    • One of the game's older iconic skins is Reaper, an obvious Captain Ersatz of John Wick. Many seasons later, after Fortnite had become a Cash-Cow Franchise, a licensing deal would be struck allowing an actual John Wick skin to be introduced.
    • This has actually happened with many skins. Lynx is an expy of Catwoman and Black Panther, Rust Lord is an expy of Star-Lord, Carbide is an expy of Iron Man, and ALL of these characters eventually got added to the game.
    • This has even happened with dances. The "Ride The Pony" emote is one of the game's oldest emotes, available in the Save The World campaign from the very start, showing the player mimicking riding a horse while twirling a lasso, with one version of its music sounding suspiciously like "Gangnam Style". In 2020, with the rise of TikTok leading to many of the app's popular dances being licensed for use in the game along with the original songs, the actual dance moves from "Gangnam Style" were added to the game, complete with the original music.
  • The Galaxy Angel II trilogy's Emblem Frames of the Rune Angel Wing are essentially expies of those of the Moon Angel Wing from the first Galaxy Angel trilogy; Cross Caliber and First Aider, the Emblem Frames of Rico and Nano respectively, are the only ones to be expies of the Emblem Frames their pilots themselves are similar to (specifically Lucky Star and Harvester, the Emblem Frames of Rico's elder sister Milfie and Nano's adopted mom Vanilla respectively). The others are more of a mix-and-match (Lily's Eagle Gazer functions more akin to Chitose's Sharpshooter than Forte's Happy Trigger, in a straight swap with Natsume Izayoi and her Papillon Chaser, with a similar straight swap between Kahlua/Tequila's Spell Caster and Anise's Relic Raider in regards to Mint's Trick Master and Ranpha's Kung-Fu Fighter). Anise and Ranpha are the closest match between the roles of their respective Emblem Frames outside of the Hyper Weapon, as both are speedy Glass Cannon-types of primarily red coloration.
  • In the Greek era of the God of War series, Kratos' character is greatly inspired by Heracles' backstory and traits in Classical Mythology, mostly in the first installment; both are powerful and skilled warriors sons of Zeus with a mortal woman who were manipulated by a god into killing their own families in a fit of mad wrath, thus having to perform many labours to be pardoned by Olympus. After accomplishing several tasks with the help of the gods, including killing the Hydra, and adventuring through the Underworld by the end of their journey, they are rewarded with godhood around the time of their deaths. Then, in God of War III, Kratos and Heracles — under his Roman name of Hercules — interact and fight, with Hercules being envious of Kratos for the attention and glory he had got from Zeus.
  • Heroes of the Storm: There are a few skins based on heroes from across Blizzard's library which were later made into full-fledged heroes.
    • AzGul'dan is a skin for Azmodan based on Gul'dan from Warcraft. The Flavor Text indicates that it's from an Alternate Universe where Gul'dan drank Azmodan's blood instead of Mannoroth's and was twisted into this form. The actual Gul'dan was added as a playable hero around two years later.
    • Nova has a skin that makes her into an Amazon from Diablo II, and Cassia, the Amazon's representative, was added in 2017. Although in this case, they had to design Cassia around the javelin build rather than the more popular crossbow build, since Nova already had the crossbow and they feared it would too easy to mix them up.
  • In Love Live! School idol festival ALL STARS, Kasumi Nakasu is an expy of Nico Yazawa, from the original series. With this game being an Alternate Continuity featuring all groups co-existing as mutual friends, the two of them interact with frequency, and given their personalities, they rarely manage to get along.
  • In the Mortal Kombat series, Kabal and the Cyber Lin Kuei (Cyrax, Sektor, Cyborg Smoke, and—in Mortal Kombat 9Cyber Sub-Zero) all drew inspiration from The Predator. In Mortal Kombat X a Predator was added as a Guest Fighter. Though Kabal only made minor cameos in that game's story (ironically, he was a playable character in the installments preceding and following MKX), the cyborgs were all included as playable fighters, combined into one unit named Triborg.
  • In the Portal expansion set for LEGO Dimensions, the player is tasked with distracting GLaDOS. How? By constructing HAL 9000 and having the two of them argue with each other!
  • Pokémon Masters: The Pokemon Masters League has invited all trainers from the Pokemon world for a grand competition, among them being the legendary Red from the first game and Ash Ketchum from the anime continuity.
  • Puyo Puyo: Due to playing Puyo having a possible side-effect of being taken to another dimension, Amitie, who directly copies Arle's tomboyish personality in early appearances, meets her in Fever and appears as a main character alongside her and Ringo (who isn't an expy of either) in succeeding games.
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: In this game, Professor Layton, who is a Phoenix Wright expy via being another quirky and efficient law official, crossovers with his inspiration.
  • River City Girls 2: In the River City Girls universe, versions of Kunio from localizations that changed his name were made into their own people that exist alongside him, like Jeff "Crash" Cooney from Crash 'n' the Boys: Street Challenge and Mr. K from Renegade. Due to using characters from River City Ransom: Underground, Alex as he appears in that game is also implied to be around. Roxy, a localized version of Hasebe that also transitioned into an expy in Underground, appears as a shopkeeper.
  • Segagaga has this, for a certain value of coexistence: the evil corporation DOGMA is a clear expy of Nintendo and Sony, but Alex Kidd mentions that Nintendo existed too before DOGMA crushed it and left Sega as the only other gaming company standing in the world.
  • Smite:
    • Kuzenbo's "Shino-bo" skin has more than a passing reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, complete with his "Woo-hoo!" becoming "Kappa-bunga!". Then Osiris, Mercury, Sun Wukong and Loki all got alternate skins depicting them as the quartet of heroes in a half-shell.
    • Rama's "Last Commando" skin is quite obviously based on Rambo, what with his general appearance and quoting a few of the movies. Then Rambo himself became a Guest Fighter as an alternate skin for Ullr.
  • Bean the Dynamite from Sonic the Fighters is based on Bin, one of the bomb-throwing duck protagonists of Dynamite Dux. The manual for Fighters Megamix reveals that Bin is Bean's father.
  • Mitsurugi of the Soul Series was inspired by Samurai Shodown's Haohmaru, who would later appear as a guest character in Soulcalibur VI.
  • Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon has a slaver in Scumsoft headquarters look almost exactly like Sierra president Ken Williams, whipping programmers into programming video games. The ending has Roger and the Two Guys from Andromeda land on Earth at Sierra headquarters and meet the real Ken Williams, with the Two Guys staying behind to program games for him.
  • Street Fighter:
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: Wart was originally a King Koopa Copy, being the antagonist of Doki Doki Panic and its equivalent of Bowser. He then appears in this game, putting him in the same universe as his main inspiration. His Spirit also appears in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where Bowser is playable.
    • Mario Is Missing! has you return King Kong to the Empire State Building. Discussed by The Angry Video Game Nerd in his review that in addition to the whole ordeal being a Mind Screw for having you return a fictional ape that was definitely not wanted by people on the building in an educational game, it is a little bit strange that the character that served as partial inspiration for Donkey Kong ends up appearing in a Mario game.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: New Donk City resembles New York City in its aesthetical heyday, complete with yellow cabs, sleek musicians, and big lights. Mario Kart Tour features courses based on real-world cities, one of which was the Times Square romp New York Minute. The game even emphasizes this through the course's themed items (yellow taxi kart, Musician Mario), which are directly based off of their New Donk City iterations but fit right in here.
    • Mario Kart 8:
      • The game features a statue of Peach that is clearly inspired by the Statue of Liberty in the Toad Harbor course (despite Toad Harbor being more so inspired by San Francisco than New York). The Booster Course Pass DLC adds New York Minute from Mario Kart Tour to the game, which contains the real Statue of Liberty.
      • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features an unconventional example thanks to the Booster Course Pass; the remake of N64 Rainbow Road is divided into three sections rather than laps given the course's long nature, and the music of the final section begins from the chorus section; these changes were inherited from the Mario Kart 7 version of Rainbow Road. The Booster Course Pass adds in 3DS Rainbow Road, which not only retains both of the aforementioned details, but also samples the chorus of N64 Rainbow Road for its music - thus marking the first time in which a Mario Kart game has two tracks that utilize the chorus of N64 Rainbow Road, as well as having the final lap's music begin with said chorus.
    • The presence of classic courses in the Mario Kart series since Mario Kart DS has resulted in a few courses that share similar premises appearing in the same games as each other. DK Summit (from Mario Kart Wii) and DK Mountain (from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!) both appear in Wii and Mario Kart Tour, Cloudtop Cruise (from 8) and Sky Garden (from Mario Kart: Super Circuit) both appear in 8 Deluxe, Choco Island 2 (from Super Mario Kart) and Choco Mountain (from Mario Kart 64) both appear in DS and Tour, etc.
    • Mario Party 7: The game's playable boards are stereotypically inspired by real-life countries. One of them is Windmillville, which takes many cues from the Netherlands. Come Mario Kart Tour, which features the real Netherlands as the setting for three tracks located in Amsterdam (Amsterdam Drift 1, 2 and 3); they would also appear in one combined version in the DLC of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
  • In the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the female ninja mercenary Lotus Blossom was a precursor for the female Foot Clan member Karai from the original Mirage comics. Both of them would eventually appear as unlockable player characters in the mobile game Mutant Madness.
  • One prominent mission-line Watch_Dogs 2 features the heroes exposing New Dawn, a Church of Happyology in California, complete with an action movie star as one of their prominent members. However, one of the randomly generated facts about pedestrians in the world says that they are Scientologists.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Recurring Element of the Xeno games (Xenogears, Xenosaga, and Xenoblade Chronicles) is the presence of a Robot Girl, with Poppi being the main one from 2. At the same time, one of the Rare Blades can be recruited in 2 is KOS-MOS from Xenosaga, the spiritual predecessor to Xenoblade and probably the most notable example of a Robot Girl from any Xeno game.

    Web Comics 
  • The titular protagonist of the Sonichu parody, Asperchu is a parody of Sonichu and the series creator, Christine Weston Chandler. Sonichu and Christine have appeared in the comic without the real Christine's consent with Christine renamed to Ian Brandon Anderson. An Asperchu expy called Mitch Sonichu was later added to the Sonichu comic.
  • Exterminatus Now: Three of the Dark Gods of EN are transparent copies of Warhammer 40,000's Chaos gods: the Hound for Khorne, the Patterner for Tzeentch and the Soulthirster for Slaanesh (Fernex is closer to the Void Dragon, a C'tan Star Vampire, instead of Nurgle). Not only that, but the Patterner does not like Tzeentch due to losing a plagiarism lawsuit against him, meaning he's not allowed to like change in general (change is Tzeentch's specialty, be it through mutation, hope or betrayal), leading to a Let Me at Him! when they see each other (with KHORNE of all possible people trying to stop the fight).
  • Minmax and Forgath in Goblins are introduced alongside three blatant parodies of Drizzt Do'Urden. Each one of them is also claiming to be Drizzt's cousin.
  • One recurring character in Keiki is Wolf the Bounty Hunter, an expy of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Dog himself shows up in one comic, as both are attempting to claim a bounty on Beefer, who's been accused of being a "demon child"; the two end up brawling with each other (giving Beefer a chance to escape).
  • The Whimsy Corporation in Skin Horse is a Disney pastiche, even to the point of one of their mascots being the Mender-Fairy. One of their intelligent animatronic characters, Baron Mistycorn, writes DuckTales (1987) slash, so Disney exists as well.
  • Sonichu is based on Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic exists in the comics as a separate character. Other expies like Rosechu and Black Sonichu have also met their inspirations Amy Rose and Shadow.

    Web Original 
  • The Day the Music Died centers around the fandom of Carverquest, a young adult fantasy series that serves as an expy of Harry Potter. Their fanbase is so loud that even die-hard Potterheads are weirded out by their antics.

    Web Videos 


Video Example(s):


The Reaper and John Wick meet

To promote a new collaboration with John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, which includes a skin based on John Wick, Epic Games released a trailer that features him and his expy within Fortnite, The Reaper, facing off.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExpyCoexistence

Media sources: