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Fleeting Demographic Rule
aka: Seven Year Rule

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Kane buries The Undertaker in 2003 (left), Kane buries The Undertaker in 2010 (right). Note the different headstones in each photo.

Our audience is constantly renewing itself, The political times and the climate is changing. We're always aware that whoever our audience is now, it doesn't matter what matters we've told in the past—it's going to be fresh for them.

A gimmick or storyline may be reused freely and safely after a few years of dormancy.

The general principle applies to any work that is enough of a Long-Runner and/or has enough of a Fleeting Demographic to outlast most of its initial fanbase.

For example, during the Silver Age of comics, the writers assumed that their demographic was young boys ages 9 to 11 — which would make a three-year turnover safe — and that their demographic rarely read comics frequently enough to notice the repetition. They also believed that even if they did read them often, they wouldn't notice. This has been turned away from in recent times because comics are now written (and often read) by people who love continuity; if they make events repeat, then they'll eventually come up with a metaplot to explain it. Also, the rise of the Internet has made it trivial to compare works that are years or decades apart, making it practically impossible for writers to pull this off unnoticed.

This is also to be avoided if your franchise is subject to a Popularity Polynomial, as all the 'old' fans haven't actually left but are just waiting quietly for it to become cool again. As a result, they'll spot something overly-familiar.

Not the same as Older Than They Think, this influence extends to tropes, plots, lines, and gimmicks of more recent vintage, that the viewer can be reasonably expected to have seen since it was The Big Cool New Thing just a couple of years ago — and a couple of years before that, and a couple of years before that, and...

Lampshading of this practice falls under Didn't We Use This Joke Already?.

Compare Recycled Script. Contrast Spiritual Successor where the writers don't have to pretend this isn't a rehash - because it isn't truly a rehash. May be implemented as a result of complaints about Continuity Lock-Out.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Series: Due to being aimed at children around the ages of 5-10, the show's audience would grow up and be replaced by a new set of children about every four or five years during Ash's long journey. Easily done because much of the show is focused on Slice of Life episodes with occasional focus on Ash's many tournament arcs to become Pokémon Master.
    • Probably the most obvious is that every time Ash goes to a new region, he meets new people who will soon be his new traveling companions, and Pikachu will give them a shocking encounter (until Sun & Moon). This mirrors the beginning of the first season, when Ash stole Misty's bicycle and ended up destroying it.
    • Starting with Advanced Generation, the writers also employ the Bag of Spilling by having Ash drop off all of his Pokemon save Pikachu to train new Mons. Expect Pikachu's battle prowess to be nerfed or his opponents to be made far tougher than in the games just to keep the tension flowing.
    • A more minor note is Ash often having to relearn certain facets like type (dis)advantages and catching mechanics, just for the benefit of demonstrating it for the audience despite having already gotten his head around them in his original adventure. Several series however, like Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, are notable aversions, where this is logically passed on to characters like May and Bonnie, who are just as inexperienced as Ash was when he first started, meaning Ash has the opportunity to teach them himself. This is also seen in Pokémon Horizons: The Series, where Nidothing is now the one teaching inexperienced trainers these topics in her streams.
    • One of the most blatant (and non-filler) examples: In Hoenn, Ash enters a PokéRinger event in which flying Pokemon compete to collect rings and place them on goal posts. Ash uses his Taillow, a bird Pokémon, which evolves during the competition and surprises its opponent by hitting the ring onto the goal with its wing, rather than carrying it in its beak. An episode that aired about five years later repeated this plot exactly; just replace Hoenn with Sinnoh, Taillow with Staravia, and Swellow with Staraptor.note  Both episodes even use the exact same background music during their respective climaxes. Kalos also had a similar event in the Sky Relay.
    • This is thought to be why the Mewtwo in Pokémon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened is a new character, instead of the one from Pokémon: The First Movie and Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns, both of which originally released/aired more than a decade before... which ended up being something of a misfire, since TV channels ended up airing those films as part of the hype for the movie coming out, meaning that new child audiences would be familiar with the original Mewtwo!
    • Until Pokémon the Series: XY, every new generation of companions (Misty & Brock/Tracey, May & Max, Dawn, Iris & Cilan) has featured an episode where most of the cast and/or their Pokémon ends up getting afflicted by Stun Spore, leaving them paralyzed. It would come down to the remaining cast to seek out a type of plant that grows at the bottom of a lake in order to cure them. This would always involve a water-type Pokémon either joining the cast or overcoming one of its own problems... Or both, in the case of Pokémon the Series: Black & White.
    • If Ash gets a Fire-type starter Pokémon, expect it to be abused or abandoned in some way or other and had belonged to a previous trainer; in Quilava's case, however, it is wild, and is about to be caught by an abusive trainer. This pattern is broken with Litten, who is simply a wild Pokémon looking after an elderly Stoutland until it dies from old age. Pokémon Journeys: The Series also has Ash capture an abandoned Pokémon, but rather than be a Fire-type starter, it's instead a Gengar, which is Ghost/Poison.
    • With the exception of "Advanced Generation", there will be another walking Pokémon belonging to one of the companions-of-the-season: Misty's Togepi, Dawn's Piplup, Iris' Axew, Clemont's Dedenne, and Snowy (Lillie's Vulpix). None of them after Togepi would evolve onscreen; Piplup and Snowy have expressed a refusal to evolve, Dedenne can't evolve, and Axew departed before he could evolve and reappeared as a Haxorus in Journeys. Goh's Scorbunny broke this pattern by evolving into Raboot within 15 episodes of his debut, only to be replaced by Sobble and then Grookey.
    • In some more specific examples, Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl reuses individual plots. "Pika and Goliath" retreads "Electric Shock Showdown" (though it at least also has flashbacks to said episode) and establishes for the new audience why Pikachu hasn't evolved while showing off a battle with a Jerkass trainer's Raichu. "Crossing Paths", "Cottonee in Love", "Butterfree and Me", "To Catch a Pokémon Smuggler", and "Under Color of Darkness" are "Bye Bye Butterfree" but starring Jessie's Dustox, a wild Cottonee, another Butterfree, a wild Vivillon, and Goh's White Floette, respectively.
      • The Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon episode "No Stone Unturned" retreads both "Electric Shock Showdown" and "Pika and Goliath" in having an unevolved Pokémon (Rowlet) lose to its evolution (Dartrix), affirm its refusal to evolve, and then rechallenge the evolution and win. It also retreads "Stopped in the Name of Love" with Rowlet being given an Everstone.
    • When Misty and Brock, Ash's two original companions and without a doubt the most recognizable of the human cast except for him, reappear in Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon, the anime has to reintroduce them. This is because neither had appeared in almost ten years and (assuming they don't watch reruns or didn't play either HGSS or BW2) the contemporary demographic didn't remember who they are.
    • "Not Caving Under Pressure" retreads "Stopped in the Name of Love", but with Lillie's Vulpix, Snowy, in the place of Dawn's Piplup. Their reasons for refusing to evolve are similar: Piplup doesn't want to evolve out of fear of becoming disobedient like Mamoswinenote , while Snowy becomes fearful of change after seeing an Alolan Sandshrew evolve.
    • The 2018 Halloween Special "A Haunted House for Everyone" is a remake of the 2007 Diamond and Pearl episode "Malice in Wonderland", since both feature a Mismagius trapping everyone in an illusion. It also has several elements of the 2004 Advance Generation episode "Take This House and Shuppet" and the early 2014 XY episode "Seeking Shelter from the Storm".
    • One of the more egregious examples is "Drawn with the Wind", which is a rehash of "They Might Not Be Giants", but with Eevee, Shaymin, and Meltan in place of the Alolan starters. The episodes, both Easter Specials, are 101note  episodes apart, and in the same series to boot! It can be assumed the writers believed none of the kids from 2017 would be watching the anime by 2019.
      • This happened again with "Pikachu's Exciting Adventure!", a Bizarro Episode that aired less than two months after "Drawn with the Wind" and reuses the same plot for the third time, this time with Pikachu, Rowlet, Lycanroc, and Meltan.
    • Ash has undergone a Disney Death and his Pokémon sobbing over him has been reused in at least three different films. At least once it's reversed, with Pikachu being the one to "die".
    • One Diamond and Pearl episode has James pretending to be Jessie and entering a contest because Jessie is too sick to do so. Years later, an XY episode has Serena pretending to be Ash and battling with a trainer because Ash is too sick to do so.
    • Episode 1068 is about Ash encountering Celebi and getting taken back in time and meeting Professor Kukui when he was younger. This may sound familiar to anyone who's seen Pokémon 4Ever, though that was with Professor Oak. Both of them are even titled "A Timeless Adventure" in Japanese.
    • Exaggerated with "Absol Absolved!", the 64th episode of Journeys, which had the exact same plot as the 53rd episode "Healing the Healer!", which aired three months earlier. The episode also retreaded "Absol-ute Disaster", a 2004 Advance Generation episode that also featured an Absol.
  • The Pretty Cure franchise will often reuse similar team formations and item after a few years have passed.
  • Executive Meddling led to this happening during the fourth season of Sailor Moon, since the execs were convinced that the girls who had been watching the show since the beginning were now growing out of it. In addition to simplifying the plot, the ReTool jettisoned the Outer Guardians and tried to put the spotlight back on the core cast and Chibiusa (who the execs thought would appeal to younger girls). The plan backfired, and the series suffered a ratings slump as a result.
  • Waiting in the Summer is a Spiritual Successor of Please Teacher!, featuring new characters but setting up the same kind of alien Magical Girlfriend scenario in what's implied to be the same setting. As evidence of this trope being in play, far more viewers were comparing it to the then-more-recent Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day; while Waiting in the Summer and Ano Hana involve the same director and have superficial similarities like focusing on a group of friends in high school experiencing a Love Dodecahedron and Coming of Age Story, with the female lead being of a supernatural nature, the new generation of anime viewers hadn't seen the older show that actually inspired Waiting in the Summer.
  • Generally speaking, GeGeGe no Kitarō is remade every decade.note  The first series debuted in 1968, the 2nd in 1971, the third in 1985, the fourth in 1996, the fifth in 2007, and the sixth in 2018.
  • Back in 2010-2011 aired SD Gundam Sangokuden: Brave Battle Warriors, an Anime Adaptation of the BB Senshi Sangokuden model series that was part of the SD Gundam BB Senshi toyline, with Sangokuden being based off of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Then eight years later in 2019, SD Gundam decided to use the Romance of the Three Kingdoms theme again with SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden, changing up which mechs portray which characters (For example, Liu Bei is RX-78-2 Gundam in Sangokuden and Unicorn Gundam in Sangoku Soketsuden) as well as telling a new story.

    Comic Books 

  • In The Beano, The Dandy and other British Comics, the fleeting demographic rule can sometimes apply to reprints, in that they wait a few years after a strip ends until they begin to reprint the strip. This is because the usual reader only reads the comic for 4 or 5 years and so there is a lot of reader turnover.

  • Archie Comics: Archie Comics — being a series marketed to a family audience and thus one with a much higher turnover rate — has never had problems reusing story lines, the only difference between them being the art and the characters' fashions. With the advent of their drama-focused Life with Archie series and the popularity of gay character Kevin Keller, it's been interesting to see the company find success by taking new creative risks.
  • The Avengers
    • Hank Pym and the Avengers face Ultron. Ultron is seemingly destroyed, only to return in a new form.
    • The Vision is dismantled or destroyed. Alternatively, Vision and Scarlet Witch have relationship troubles or pine for one another despite dating other people. Vision losing and then regaining his capacity to experience emotions has also happened several times now.
    • The Avengers have had no less than three separate stories with the basic premise of "The team is criticized for its complete lack of diversity. An inexperienced/unqualified black superhero is added to the roster, creating friction with the white Avengers. Drama ensues." First time it was The Falcon, second time it was Rage, and third time it was Triathlon.
    • Walt Simonson's lead-up to Inferno (1988), Brian Bendis' Avengers Disassembled (2004), and Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub's Avengers: No Surrender (2018) all revolve around the current line-up of Avengers being decimated, with a few members of the team even dying or getting badly injured, in order to set up a more high-profile roster under a new creative team.
  • Batman:
    • Batman gets overwhelmed by his mission, becomes more of a loner, alienates his "family", and learns to play with others again.
    • Nightwing chafes in Bruce's shadow or control, goes out on his own, and learns he just as good a hero in his own right.
  • Booster Gold: Averted in 52. Booster Gold's storyline was originally going to be finding evidence that the timeline was broken, falling apart at the seams, and he would need to fix it to restore order. As the four writers of the book got to work though, they realized each of them had been through this before and none of them really wanted to do it again ("Unless there was a prize for being the hundredth people to write one"). Thus before they got too far into the story, they reworked Booster's storyline so that he spent it butting heads with a new hero called Supernova who turns out to be Booster (isn't time travel fun?), which led into a conspiracy about a time-traveling superhero.
  • Captain America: Steve Rogers' career is changed. Maybe he's a werewolf, an aged man who has to wear a suit, or an agent of HYDRA. Or, he's gone underground, uses a different superhero identity, and has been replaced by someone else who takes up the mantle of Captain America.
    • During AXIS, Steve Rogers ends up using his old exoskeleton as a Shout-Out to the last time he was turned into an old man, in a 1995 story line.

  • The DCU:

  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics: In the comics made in Italy, it seems that every 5-6 years or so they have to write a story where some character becomes a pro golfer, with the only purpose being to explain every single golf-related term to the readers via footnotes.
  • Doctor Who: During the final years of the TV Comics Doctor Who licensed comic strip, complete stories from the Third (and in one case Second) Doctor eras of the strip were reprinted with Tom Baker's face crudely drawn over the original Doctor's.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • In the comics, everything is changed when — a team member dies, there is a huge change to the team roster, a relative of a team member shows up from another dimension, or Doctor Doom does something different this time and never brings it up again.
    • The Human Torch has been subject to countless stories where he finally decides to start acting like an adult and vows to stop being an immature jokester. It never lasts.
    • The Thing temporarily being turned back into a human or angsting over being a freak are storylines that writers love to rehash.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The relationship between Bruce Banner and The Hulk is permanently changed. Maybe Hulk is the one in charge now. Maybe it's Banner. Maybe they're separate. Maybe one side is Darker and Edgier, and one side is completely gone.
  • Justice League of America: It's a near-universal constant that every flagship Justice League run will gradually phase out the bigger name characters (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Aquaman) in favor of a lineup primarily consisting of lesser known heroes, only for the A-listers to retake center stage after the series is cancelled and relaunched.
  • Marvel Universe:
  • Roy Of The Rovers: The original run of long-running (1954-93) weekly UK football comic was hit hard with this; the summer strips generally involved the Melchester Rovers team touring some South American country and getting kidnapped to keep the story exciting. Since Fleetway didn't think anyone would keep reading longer than three years, Roy was kidnapped five times in 10 years. This sort of thing was parodied in the Viz strip "Billy the Fish".
  • Shazam!: The comics in the 1970s was notable in that even the regular issues were usually split between new stories and reprints from the Fawcett era. Since Fawcett had stopped publishing Captain Marvel stories in 1953, it was a fairly safe bet that they were new to the vast majority of readers.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Someone in Peter Parker's civilian life dies, becomes a villain, or becomes an anti-hero with a villain's power.
    • The status quo is irrevocably changed, either in The Clone Saga, Spider-Man: Chapter One, or Brand New Day. Maybe Aunt May learns Peter's identity, or gets Killed Off for Real. Or, someone in the Rogues Gallery gets Killed Off for Real, replaced by someone else taking up that villain's identity. The original villain will never return — until making an unexpected return.
    • The Clone Saga, the remake of a 1970's story arc which debuted the Jackal (himself a low-rent replacement for the Green Goblin), hit the Spider-books in the early 90's with a similar goal in mind. By the end, was widely considered a huge failure, and concluded in the exact same manner as the original. Marvel ended up backtracking on many of its "big changes."
    • Used as justification by the editors for the One More Day continuity reboot, under the theory that if they stuck to their guns through reader complaints for five years, no one would have enough of an attention span to remember it ever happened. An idea that might have been valid had it been Pre-Internetnote , but although the post-OMD titles are ancient history by now and many successful stories were written after that, including an alternate continuity The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, the fact is that the comic remains fresh in infamy over a decade later as one of the all-time worst Spider-Man stories.
  • Superman:
    • In old-school Silver Age Superman and Superboy comics, plots were reused frequently, and not just in a "this bears a passing resemblance to that other story" way. More like, Jimmy becomes a werewolf under circumstances that are similar to but completely unrelated to the time it happened three years ago. (Real years, not comic years.) Superboy also became the leader of a wolf pack twice. And Lois Lane and Lana Lang got super-powers on enough occasions you may as well consider them reserve superheroes.
    • A recurring plot during the early years of Silver Age Supergirl was Linda Lee getting adopted by one couple and then returned to the Midvale Orphanage because her new adoptive "parents" turned out to be exploitative crooks. Linda getting adopted for real in The Unknown Supergirl put an end to those plotlines.
    • Craig "Mr. Silver Age" Shutt, in his book Baby Boomer Comics, cataloged 53 "duplicated" Superman stories. Typically, the rewrites would be printed 5-15 years after the original stories, but one Lois Lane story was reused only one year after its first telling.
    • Mon-El's first appearance in 1961 was also an example of this, as it was a rehash of a 1953 story called "Superman's Big Brother," which had introduced a similar character named Halk Kar.
    • This happened in the Golden Age too, when the exact same stories were sometimes used only with new drawn pictures.
    • Through the ages there have been a large number of villains claiming responsibility for the destruction of Krypton: Klax-Ar in Superboy #67 (1958), Raspor in Action Comics #338 (1966), Black Zero in Superman #205 (1968), -possibly- Brainiac in Superman: Brainiac (2008), Rogol Zaar in Man of Steel (2018)...
    • Girl Power (2005), Last Daughter of Krypton (2011), Red Daughter of Krypton (2014), The Killers of Krypton (2018), Supergirl Special (2023)...all feature Supergirl learning to get over her grief, anger and feelings of abandonment and accepting Earth as her new home.
    • "Supergirl and Power Girl are at odds with each other" has been another constantly recycled plotline since the late 90's.
    • Man of Steel (2018) and Superman (Brian Michael Bendis). A villain claims responsibility for the destruction of Krypton, rather than Krypton being destroyed due to natural causes. A new Superboy is introduced, who gets invited to join the Legion of Super-Heroes.
    • Nearly every decade someone writes a story where Superman is split into two "twins", each with different powers: The Amazing Story of Superman Red and Superman Blue (1963), Two for the Death of One (1983), Superman Red/Blue (1997) and Superman Reborn (2017) are only some examples.
    • Every so often, Superman gets infected with a seemingly incurable alien illness. The Virus X in The Last Days of Superman (1962) and The Leper from Krypton (1968), the Bloodmorel spores in The Jungle Line (1985)...
    • Every so often, Superman writers rehash the "Superman goes back to Krypton" plot from 1960 story Superman's Return to Krypton. "Return to Krypton" (2000) and "Krypton Returns" (2013) are only some examples.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Issue #2 of the first series introduced Garn, a teenage caveman who ended up in the present. Issue #32 then introduced Gnarrk, a similarly named teenage caveman who also ended up in the present.
    • The writers of New Teen Titans have also maintained a consistent attachment to the concept "Raven goes evil because of her demonic father". Or, in the case of both Titans (Rebirth) and Titans (2023), Raven's demonic side/soul self splits off from her.
    • This is at least in part because of Marv Wolfman's immense success with the New Teen Titans, which was at the time DC's best selling and most highly acclaimed title for a good while. Many storylines attempt to ape the success of his, with some success and some... not so much success at times.
    • Not just Raven. The number of stories where Cyborg angsts about being a machine, only to eventually come to terms with his appearance until the next time.
    • Titans: Paper, Scissors, Stone actually lampshades this last part as an explicit and inseparable part of the Titans mythos, and one that the new group's leader failed to take into account when she set out to recreate the circumstances of the team's forming.
  • Wonder Woman: Robert Kanigher, an incredibly long-tenured writer at DC, recycled scripts in part or in whole on many occasions, most notably throughout his landmark 22-year run on Wonder Woman (1942). Especially so in the mid-to-late 50s, when he seemed to dramatically overestimate the readership turnover rate — for instance, Wonder Woman went back in time and met Robin Hood twice... with the two very similar stories separated by only 11 issues. Later, Kanigher would also reuse material from Wonder Woman in other comics he was writing, particularly Metal Men.
  • X-Men: The series as a whole has been doing this since 1991. Whatever changes are made to characters, most last five or so years before going back to the status quo that Chris Claremont had set before he left the book. It's notable that Claremont himself did not subscribe to this, and things kept changing constantly during his run, and never went completely back to normal most of the time. Apparently, it never occurs to Marvel that this might be why the Claremont years are looked upon as the golden era of X-Men comics.
    • Recent examples include House of M, where at the end the X-Men status quo was changed by Mutants going from a prominent minority with their own sub-culture to being on the verge of extinction when the Scarlet Witch wished away the powers of most other mutants in 2005, and seven years later the whole thing was undone with the crossover event AVX.
    • ...and then Secret Wars (2015) happened, and the X-Men and mutant kind are right back to where they were post-"House of M" with the M-Pox story line. Many fans began to lose patience with Marvel, as this story came less than five years after AVX and suspiciously coincided with Marvel's infamous movie rights dispute with 20th Century Fox.
    • Before the M-Pox story line, the Legacy Virus was the mutant virus story line from the 90's, which Jamie Madrox also died from.
    • Apocalypse creates a four-horsemen team, posing a great threat to the world, only to be forgotten later.
    • Rachel Summers in Days of Future Past (1981), Nathan Summers (1986 & 1990), Lucas Bishop (1991), and Hope Summers (2008) all either are or revolve around a time traveler coming to the present to prevent a Bad Future. Even Nate Grey (1995) technically counts, as while he came from an alternate reality, he dedicated most of his career to preventing that reality becoming 616's Bad Future.
    • Psylocke gains new powers, forgets those powers, and gains new powers.
    • The X-Men travel to space for important space-related business.
    • The X-Men have to deal with another dimension and/or another timeline.
    • Someone dies.
    • Someone you thought was dead isn't anymore.
    • Mr. Sinister/Apocalypse/Madelyne Pryor/Stryfe does something evil and mysterious and disappears for a while.
    • The Hellfire Club has a new roster.
    • The X-Men split off into two or more teams.
    • An inexperienced team of younger members has adventures and gets forgotten about.
    • A spunky, hip female member joins the team, then leaves.
    • There's a new version of the Sentinels, only this time, there's something different.
    • The headquarters of the X-Men team, typically an academy or other institute of higher learning, is destroyed.
    • The X-Men relocate to a new geographical location.
    • Something happens to Charles Xavier. Something... that looks... PERMANENT!
    • Magneto does something irredeemably evil, reforms to help the X-Men, stays neutral, and goes back to being evil. This is eventually touched on in Magneto: Not A Hero, which directly contrasts the more or less reformed Magneto with his clone, Joseph, resurrected by an anti-mutant activist who wanted an evil Magneto to stir up fear, when Magneto rips into Joseph, neatly summing up his reason for the Heel–Face Revolving Door: “The thing none of you will ever understand is that there are no sides. There's no heroes or villains. There's just what I want and how I'll get it.
    • Jean Grey struggling with her growing powers and dying has been done over and again since The Dark Phoenix Saga.
    • Iceman finally deciding to start acting like an adult and vowing to stop being an immature jokester has been redone multiple times.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Spy Kids:
    • While the three original films were all made within a few years of each other and were therefore targeted at the same generation, the fourth and fifth films both had significant Sequel Gaps, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World coming eight years after Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and Spy Kids: Armageddon coming twelve years after All the Time in the World. For both the fourth and fifth movies, the franchise was essentially remarketed as though new, and plot elements from the earlier films, especially the first one, were recycled wholesale.
    • Additionally, All the Time in the World hyped the "4D Aroma-Scope" (actually a scratch-and-sniff card) as if it were a new revolutionary thing.
  • James Bond
    • The franchise is infamous for announcing ahead of virtually every Bond film that this time the Bond girl will be an Action Girl who is treated as an equal match for Bond, which is then immediately forgotten and next time the idea is again treated as new.
    • Daniel Craig is not the first new Bond to be Darker and Edgier. A general rule of thumb is that Bond switches between being camp (Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan) and being serious (George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, and Craig) each time they change actors.
  • The sequel to Cats & Dogs came out when the kids who had seen the original were too old to care about a sequel, and the kids who would see the sequel were too young to have seen the original.
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later was intended to be the definitive ending to the Halloween series, with Laurie Strode confronting Michael Myers once and for all for the series' 20th anniversary. 20 years later, the series... got its definitive ending when Laurie Strode confronts Michael Myers once and for all in Halloween (2018) for the series' 40th anniversary. Both movies ended up being very different tonally, however, and the 2018 film ignores Halloween II (1981), meaning there is no brother/sister relationship between Laurie and Michael.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown: One of Fregley's lines, "Betcha I can find your 'tickle spot'!", is taken word for word from the earlier tie-in do-it-yourself book.
  • Used in-universe in Watership Down, due to rabbits' short lifespan. The main events of the novel are the stuff of legend some five years later, and humans are portrayed as driving cars and smoking cigarettes in the mythic past.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Networks for kids, teenagers, and young adults often work this way. They know that in five years they're going to have a completely new crop of the target audience, and the crop from five years ago will begin to notice the reused plots and complain.
  • Some Star Treks overused their stock plots ad nauseam. The attitude seems to have been, 'Well, we've done this plot in four other shows, but have we ever done it on this show? No? Greenlight that sucker! Who wants pizza?"
    Rene Auberjonois: I was sitting with Scott Bakula at lunch about two or three days into shooting the episode. He said, “I like this script. I think this is a good one.” I said, “Yeah, we did this one in season three.” And he looked at me and said, “What?
    • Oh, look, more aliens in Nazi uniforms. (Doctor Who is guilty of this as well.)
    • Allusions to the new age movement and JFK's shooting are also incredibly common.
    • Another Trek standby is the "everybody on this planet is a hologram" twist.
    • Turning the Holodeck into a death trap is a favorite of Next Generation and Voyager. Just which characters are placed in peril is subject to change... the formula isn't. Would that it only happened once every two years.
    • Lampshaded in Deep Space Nine:
      Worf: We were like warriors from the ancient sagas. There was nothing we could not do.
      O'Brien: Except keep the holodecks working right.
      • It was parodied on Futurama when Kif shows Amy the HoloShed. He states that nothing in the simulation will hurt her, unless there's a malfunction and everything comes to life again, but that hardly ever happens. Several minutes later, the greatest villains in history (including an ax-wielding Evil Lincoln) show up just after a malfunction. They know the drill and start smashing stuff.
    • In another Futurama episode, a Star Trek TOS-obsessed Energy Being forces the Planet Express crew and the TOS cast to fight to the death. When asked where he got that "idiotic idea", the alien rattles off the numbers of four TOS episodes where that happened (and Fry adds one he missed, much to the alien's chagrin).
    • Every iteration of Trek does Moby Schtick. The first instance of a Moby Dick plot was seen as far back as 1967's "The Doomsday Machine" and "Obsession."
      • This plot is reused in two of the movies: Khan with Kirk as his whale and, in First Contact, Picard has the Borg as his whale. Patrick Stewart actually played Ahab two years after First Contact in the Disney version of Moby Dick.
      • Star Trek Into Darkness flips the script by having Kirk with Khan as the whale (and after Kirk's apparent death, Spock with Khan as the whale). All three films compare the situation to Moby Dick.
      • And for Captain Janeway, we had "Year of Hell" and "Equinox" (both featuring Janeway as Ahab), followed by "Bliss", which guest-starred W. Morgan Sheppard as an alien hunting a giant, telepathic pitcher plant.
      • Futurama parodied this one, as well, with Leela becoming obsessed with getting revenge on an actual space whale, and in the end found out the whale actually feeds on obsession, and antagonizes spaceship pilots because they tend to get obsessed very easily.
    • Voyager and Enterprise are especially bad at this, leading to criticism that both ignore their premises to be "Next Gen lite" and recycle old episodes in the belief no one would recall episodes from any prior series. Hence why many Enterprise episodes feature technology and species wildly inappropriate for the time; they were introduced back in 1987, and nobody would remember back that far. Not that they cared. And why Voyager does things like base an episode around the legal issue of the rights of artificial lifeforms, even though TNG had resolved that early on. Parodied in Voltaire's "USS Make-Shit-Up". One verse expresses deja vu over Voyager, then has a flash of memory — it was "way back in the sixties, when they called it Lost in Space."
    • However, as with this trope in general, certain complaints can fall into the trope of They Copied It, Now It Sucks. For example, even though VOY's "Author, Author" and TNG's "The Measure of a Man" both deal with the rights of artificial life forms, there is an important difference: Data is an android who is considered a person by almost everyone, whereas the Doctor is an intangible hologram intended as a short-term supplement to the medical team, and has a harder time getting people to regard him as a person and not just a piece of technology. His lack of a permanent physical body is one of the key differences between the two. The fact that Data had over a decade earlier established the precedent for artificial life being recognized under Federation law is never even mentioned in the Voyager episode, though, which is rather odd.
    • The villain from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, VGer, is a larger version of Nomad, a villain from the original series. More interestingly, elements of VGer were recycled into the Borg Collective, and TOS' Trelane was the influence for John de Lancie's Q.note 
  • Stargate SG-1 self-consciously makes use of this by having similar plotlines (time travel, alternate dimensions) refer to or even depend on previous episodes with similar plots.
    • Each time they encounter the same phenomena they will always recap the events of the previous mission, and try to figure out if what they learned that time can be useful again. In Stargate Atlantis sometimes the same solution is used again (or the same problem), with a twist.
    • Sometimes if the plot is similar to that from another media, this will even be lampshaded within the story, such as an episode involving a "Groundhog Day" Loop when O'Neill referred to the villain who had engineered it as "The King of Groundhog Day".
    • The Stargate franchise has never been afraid of metahumor. A number of SG-1 episodes hinge on the US military providing technical assistance to a sci-fi show about a secret military team that covertly fights aliens, in order to give themselves plausible deniability. Consider for a moment the plot of SG-1, and that they are Backed by the Pentagon to the point of casting actual American military personnel for bit characters (including two Chiefs of Staff playing themselves), and you can only imagine how fun the Wild Mass Guessing for that show can be.
  • Super Sentai (and by extension Power Rangers) has this going on in regards to their seasonal themes.
  • Sentai's Super Hero Time partner, Kamen Rider, inevitably runs into this as another seasonal theme-heavy Long Runner. As almost every annual season is a standalone story, the combination of new writers, Fleeting Demographic, and general guidelines of the premise ("Henshin Hero transforms into multiple forms to fight Monsters of the Week while heroic Riders, villainous Riders, and Super Modes all with their own gimmicks debut"), certain plot concepts get repeated quite often, sometimes back-to-back.
    • The second-billed Rider, either appearing early in the show or as a Sixth Ranger in shows with fewer Riders, initially conflicts with the protagonist before they eventually settle their differences and unite against the true villains. Ryuki, Blade, Kabuto, Den-O, Kiva, Decade, W, OOO, Fourze, Wizard, Drive, Ghost, Ex-Aid, Zi-O, and Zero-One all use this concept to some extent. Revice Justifies it, with Kamen Rider Evil actually possessing the heroic character who goes on to be the proper Secondary Rider.
      • This often applies to actual Sixth Ranger Riders who aren't the Secondary Rider, as well, including Gills & Another Agito in Agito, Leangle in Blade, Drake & Sasword in Kabuto, Saga in Kiva, Mage in Wizard, Marika & Zangetsu Shin in Gaim, Necrom in Ghost, Para-DX in Ex-Aid, Grease in Build, Woz in Zi-O, Thouser in Zero-One, and Sabela & Durendal in Saber.
    • "Evil dad", or at least "dad who fights the heroes", has reached meme-status among the fandom for how often it's used. See the Kamen Rider entry on Archnemesis Dad for examples.
    • Both Double (2009) and Revice feature a mysterious, masked, black-coated benefactor to a secondary Rider who can create Rider gear, is revealed to have a connection to other major characters and to the origin of the Riders, and wears their mask to cover serious burns.
    • For less specific reused concepts: Kamen Rider Agito (2001), Kamen Rider 555 (2003), and Kamen Rider Kiva (2008) all used highly similar Poor Communication Kills storylines (detailed on that trope's page), as part of writer Toshiki Inoue's Signature Style. Agito and Kamen Rider Build (2017) both have Amnesiac Heroes, Kamen Rider Kuuga (2000) and Kamen Rider OOO (2010) both star carefree globe-trotters, Kamen Rider Double (2009) and Kamen Rider Drive (2014) both star Bunny-Ears Lawyer detectives with overbearing female partners, and Kamen Rider Ryuki (2002), Kamen Rider Gaim (2013), and Kamen Rider Geats (2022) all feature a war between a much larger cast of Kamen Riders than usual.
    • Three series feature Cards of Power as the main gimmick of the Riders: The Advent Cards of Kamen Rider Ryuki (2002), the Rouze Cards of Kamen Rider Blade (2004), and the Rider Cards of Kamen Rider Decade (2009). This is lampshaded in Super Hero Taisen, when Decade, Blade, and Ryuki are each given a card from the Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the Sentai team which used cards, to help defeat Doktor G.
    • Kamen Rider Decade (2009) and Kamen Rider Zi-O (2018) are both milestone celebrations (the tenth and twentieth Heisei riders, respectively), and both feature Riders who travel to meet past Riders and use them as the source of their power-ups.
    • In terms of season themes rather than plots:
      • While the franchise post-Showa repeats series themes markedly less often than Sentai, certain iconic motifs are frequently reused as a form of tribute. Aside from the oft-recurring classic insect motifs, the most obvious example (and truest to the trope) is the "bat-spider-cobra" trio of themes for enemy monsters, the former two being some of the first-ever monster themes in the series and the latter being the motif of the first monster to receive a power-up in the franchise. Almost every series with animal-themed monsters will eventually reuse these three, but the more direct tributes are Kamen Rider Drive where the basic, "unevolved" forms of every monster will have one of these themes, and the 50th anniversary entry Kamen Rider Revice, where three of the main ensemble of Riders are bat, spider, and cobra-themed.
      • Riders with multiple form changes with Animal Motifs have become increasingly common in the franchise. Kamen Rider OOO did it first with mix-and-matching three animals being the protagonist's gimmick, followed by many of Build's forms using animal motifs mix-and-matched with miscellaneous "abiotic" items, Zero-One featuring animal-themed forms for almost all Riders, Saber ending up with several animal-themed forms as a result of its book theme, and Revice once again uses animal themes in almost the exact same way as Zero-One, with the catch being that form changes are also themed after past Riders. Geats, another mix-and-match Rider like OOO and Build, uses Animal Motifs in the form of the Riders' identifying masks rather than the actual form changes.
      • In a franchise as thematically diverse as Kamen Rider, the design similarity between Kamen Rider Wizard (2012) and Kamen Rider Saber (2020) is rather conspicuous: a show with a magical premise starring a red and black Kamen Rider with a waistcoat, whose main form is based on fire and his own dragon familiar.
    • Kamen Rider: The First (2005) and Shin Kamen Rider (2023) are both theatrical continuity reboots of the first Kamen Rider (1971).
    • Kamen Rider BLACK SUN (2022) seeks to reboot Kamen Rider BLACK (1987), although apart from borrowing some names and character designs from his inspiration, it's an In Name Only adaptation of its source material.
  • Both Barney and Sesame Street are subject to this. The former went through wholesale changes of the child cast (and the voice of the titular character, to a lesser extent) about once every five years, whereas Sesame Street Muppets have been shown to forget things so they can be taught to a new audience.
  • The Sunny Side Up Show and, to a lesser extent, The Good Night Show have both gone through host changes over the years. On the latter show, Star (and, to a lesser extent, Chica in the former) has been shown to forget things if they were discussed again.
  • The current incarnation of Degrassi has been on TV so long (over a decade) the the show routinely recycles storylines and only slightly updates them depending on the character. For example, the show has dealt with teen pregnancy at least five times (Manny, Emma, Liberty, Anya, and Jenna). An episode in which Emma almost becomes the victim of a pedophile she meets online is recycled twice, first with Darcy and then later with Connor.
  • 106&Park used to have a segment called the "Old School Joint of the Day". Originally they did play videos that were at least a decade or so old, with guests even picking some of their favorite songs for the video. As the show, went on they began to play younger and younger videos. After people, even A.J. and Free who were hosting at the time, started to complain, the segment began to alternate with "The Flashback Joint of the Day", where they could play songs that were only a few years old without drawing the ire of people who knew they weren't really "old school".
  • Terrance Dicks, Doctor Who script editor during the Jon Pertwee era of the early 1970s and writer for a longer time, has expressed this in terms of respect for the audience, recommending as a general rule that the audience should never be expected to remember canon details from episodes broadcast more than two years before. This was from an age before VHS or DVD, and before you could be absolutely certain that reruns happened; otherwise we'd not have lost episodes of, among other shows, Doctor Who. If you're expecting to actually gain new viewers, it's actually quite nice to presume that not everybody was watching two years ago, and those who were can't be expected to have remembered details from an episode that only ran once (maybe twice) so far back.
    • It is also worth noting that in the 1980s Doctor Who would, to its general detriment, suffer from Continuity Lockout as creators began to over-rely on increasingly obscure references to episodes ten or twenty years old (which still weren't out on VHS or DVD) without making it entirely clear what's going on for the audience members who didn't have detailed flowcharts of the show's history right in front of them at the time. Thus it can be said that Dicks had a point and that there's a valid reason why the mindset behind this trope exists.
    • Dicks and outgoing producer Barry Letts were planning out Season 12 and decided "It's about time for Terry Nation to do another Dalek story for us." So they asked him for a Dalek story, and he wrote a Dalek story, but they realized that his script was regurgitating "Planet of the Daleks" and "Death to the Daleks" from the previous two seasons. To break the repetition, they suggested he write a Dalek Origins Episode, which became "Genesis of the Daleks".
    • The producers have said several times over the years that the Doctor's next companion is going to be a 'strong female character who can think for herself' as though they've never done it before. In fact Barbara, one of the three original companions of the First Doctor, is a strong female character who can think for herself. Amusingly, the first time this appears to have been used in the press was in 1971 to promote Jo Grant, who was specifically created by the showrunners to be less intelligent and challenging to the Doctor than her predecessor Liz Shaw.
    • The audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons shamelessly recycles most of the Patrick Troughton story "Fury From the Deep", on the grounds that the children the drama is aimed at would have been about two or three when the story was aired.
    • New Doctor Who hasn't been entirely free of this either; in particular, during Russell T Davies's first run in the 2000s, something happens that makes it clear that the Daleks who show up are the absolute final last Daleks in all of the universe and then, when the Doctor defeats them, makes it equally clear that the Daleks have been Destroyed For Good This Time... until the next time they show up, a year or so later, at which point we go through it all again.
    • A guest character/ally turning out to be a never before seen regeneration of the Master in a third act twist is basically the way they've revealed like half of the new actors in the role.
  • Law & Order: UK consciously recycles numerous storylines from the original Law & Order into the British legal system.
  • On Home and Away, Martha discovers that her boyfriend is in a marriage of convenience. Surprisingly, this does not remind her of her love affair with Ash nearly three years earlier, which ended because he was married with kids and wasn't about to leave them.
  • Subverted on Saturday Night Live. John Goodman is hosting, along with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. During his monologue, an audience member stops him to ask if this is a repeat. John reassured that it isn't-given that it was a live broadcast and all- but kept getting interrupted by members of the audience who insist that it's a repeat from a few years ago when John also hosted with Tom Petty as the musical guest. John even brings out Jimmy Fallon, a cast member at that time, who agreed with the audience that this show is, in fact, a repeat and that he remembers it because it was aired when he was in high school.
  • Virtually every episode from the last few seasons of Bewitched (the Dick Sargent years) re-used the plot of an episode from the Dick York era.
  • Sometimes happens on QI. If watching the show from the beginning, you will occasionally hear the same joke twice (not as a Running Gag), or hear a question based on something that was already discussed at length in a previous episode.
    • One example is the story about how Kangaroos got their name and what it means. This story myth is told twice at length in two different episodes. The second time offers no reference to the first, so it isn't an In-Joke.
    • In Series H, Stephen Fry finished one episode with a scat joke about pathologists and dead bodies. This joke was already told by Alan Davies, several seasons back.
    • In Series J, Stephen asks how elephants drink. Alan suggests using its trunk and gets a forfeit, and Jimmy Carr quips that they drink to forget. Back in series A, during a question about elephants' lack of tolerance for alcohol, Alan made the same mistake (without forfeit) and Clive Anderson made the same joke.
    • In the "Fire and Freezing" episode, one of the facts is that fire stations are now often built one story high to avoid spending time getting downstairs, even by way of the pole. In "Inland Revenue," when fireman's poles are mentioned again, Al Murray asks why they don't just build them one story high if speed is such a concern. Stephen and the other panellists come up with reasons like needing room for the fire engines, and nobody seems to remember learning otherwise.
    • They occasionally do catch these (more than once in the form of Alan contributing an interesting fact only for Stephen to point out that he learned it on QI).
    • This is subverted when they ask questions which have been asked before, and (predictably) Alan provides the previous answer only to find out it's now wrong.
      • The most famous example is the question, "How many moons does the Earth have?". In the A Series "Astronomy" episode the answer is 2, due to the inclusion of Cruithne. By "Beavers", the answer is either one or five due to the discovery of three more satellites, and if Cruithne is a moon then so are they. In "Knowledge", the answer is at least 18 thousand due to the discovery of "mini-moons". And by "Landmarks", the Earth has no moon; the Earth and the Moon are instead a binary planet system.
      • The "Knowledge" episode was based on the fact that the answers to many questions that they had asked in the past were proven false by the time the 11th series aired due to new scientific discoveries. The episode rewarded the panelists points they were statistically owed for having possibly been right after all these years. Series mainstay Alan Davies is given 737.66 points; by the end of the episode he's lost 50 through his usual wrong answers.
  • Buffy: Season seven episode "Him" rehashes the plot of season two episode "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" (a love spell gone wrong causes many women to fall blindly for the same guy, with terrible consequences). Xander even reminisces fondly about the prior event (including his best friend leading a mob of women and trying to kill him with an axe).
    • There are also multiple episodes based on the characters' fears becoming manifest, though for different reasons. A first season episode based on folks' nightmares, and a fourth season episode with a haunted house.
  • Angel occasionally reuses plots from its parent show. For instance, both shows have an episode that involves the main cast getting amnesia and meeting each other for the first time again. This isn't a bad thing, though—Angel has a slightly different premise, different tone, and most importantly, completely different characters. Put the same characters in a different situation, and they react differently. Put different characters in the same situation... and they react differently.
  • Many of the skits in the revival of All That are rehashes and reimaginings of the skits from the original set ("Cooking With Randy" becomes "Coffee And Sugar," Repairman/Detective Dan/Stuart becomes Randy Quench: Volunteer Fireman, etc.), which ended three years prior. This becomes especially obvious in the tenth anniversary special, which involves new skits from both sets.
  • A related version happens in TV made for toddlers. In the case of In the Night Garden..., only 100 episodes were ever commissioned, despite the show being wildly popular. The logic is that the demographic will only watch for two years, then grow out of the show, meaning after 100 episodes you can start from the beginning again and nobody but adults will notice. This is also the reason why the show has no overarching plot or an episode that acknowledges itself as the first or last.
    • This is similar to many studios only commissioning 65 episodes for its kids', neonate, early and late teen shows. It takes a monumental push by fans to get more of the same show instead of using the same 65 scripts for the next one they churn out. This was a pretty big issue in the mid 2000s with Disney Channel, where the hugely popular Lizzie McGuire ended at 65 episodes in just 2 seasons and Kim Possible needed an obscure contract from a German television station to get a 4th season. Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place have over 85 and The Suite Life on Deck has over 100 when you count both series.
    • Originally, this practice started as something of an insurance policy for all sides — if the show did well, great, it would be signed up for more than 65 episodes. But if it bombed and was canceled, 65 was the minimum most stations would purchase for syndication (allowing them to run the show each weekday for 13 weeks without repeats). By ensuring that there would be at least that number of episodes, the producers hoped to guarantee they would make at least some money off the show, and this worked reasonably well. (Famously, the first seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation were produced under such a deal.) Add in the idea that your shows are interchangeable dreck that nobody cares too closely about, and you end up switching shows each time the grace period expires.
  • Parodied on Have I Got News for You: an episode had Boris Johnson and Janet Street-Porter as guests, then the following year they both happened to be booked the same week again. Angus Deayton lampshades this by joking that due to a legal loophole, it's cheaper for the BBC to film the same episode over and over again rather than just repeat it.
  • The shows of the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe, when compared across the board, fall heavily in this trope (not surprising considering the Fleeting Demographic is considered especially in play).
  • Seasons 1 and 4 of Smallville both involve an episode in which Clark wants to try out for football, and his parents are against it because of his superpowers. There are, however, some key differences. The first time he ends up dropping out, the second time he stays on the team at the end of the episode. In the first episode it's the main storyline, while it's a B-plot in season 4.
  • Supernatural: In season 5, Castiel gradually loses his powers as a result of being cut off from Heaven until he is eventually turned into a normal human. Four seasons later, he's turned into a human again for season 9. His first stint as a human is never even mentioned. Word of God has even mistakenly referred to him as being human for the first time.
  • The X-Files: Count the number of episodes that feature a Monster of the Week with a very specific Horror Hunger, a protagonist who has some kind of psychic connection with a serial killer, or a Lotus-Eater Machine of some variety. There's also all the times that the "real, definitive" truth about the aliens and the Conspiracy was revealed...
  • The Noddy Shop, a show that was a Recycled Premise version of Shining Time Station, began its run on PBS affiliates around the same time they dropped the latter show.
  • Chespirito tended to recycle scripts every two or three years, sometimes with minor variations in the setting or characters (especially during María Antonieta de las Nieves's leave of absence, or Ramón Valdés and Carlos Villagrán leaving the show), though that certainly didn't stop Chespirito making nearly identical episodes, or even recycling a script once a year (or even twice a year sometimes).
  • Inai Inai Baa! changes hosts every 4 years and the exercise song every 8 years for this reason. It's also the reason many of the earlier songs get re-recorded, with the most common example being "Tonton Tomato-chan".
  • The Sooty Show, a British puppet show that has been on television in some form since the 1950s, has had plots recycled over the decades, particularly after a new host takes over. The current host Richard Cadell borrows a lot from previous host Matthew Corbett, who hosted from the 1970s through the 1990s after taking over from his father and making the show into sort of a surreal sitcom rather than a traditional puppet show.

  • Bridal magazines presume that the vast majority of their readers are brides-and-grooms-to-be who will only be subscribing (or picking up a few issues here and there in the grocery store checkout line) for the duration of their engagements, and thus repeat articles (with very slight tweaks) on a 16-20 month cycle.
  • Outdoors-oriented magazines will often repeat articles annually with only slight tweaks. For example, photography magazines seem to have a repeating "Summer photography guide", "Fall photography guide", "Winter photography guide", "Spring photography guide" cycle. Bicycling and running magazines love to offer seasonal advice, which does not change much from year to year.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Coined by Professional Wrestling promoter, booker, on-air personality, and general jack-of-all-trades Jim Cornette, the Seven Year Rule is the unwritten pro wrestling rule that, after seven years, there has been enough turnover in the fanbase that a booker can re-use the same gimmicks and angles with impunity. As the theory goes, any wait shorter than seven years may result in fans noticing the rehashing, and calling the promotion on the re-use. After that, a few diehard longtime fans may notice and become upset, but almost everybody will accept the product as new.
  • The Four Horsemen first formed in 1986 with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard, and at one time held the NWA World Heavyweight Title, the NWA World (Mid-Atlantic, the only recognized version by that point) Tag Team Titles, and the NWA World Television Title. They went through a few different lineups on and off until Real Life Pointy-Haired Boss Jim Herd fired Flair from WCW before the infamous WCW Great American Bash 1991 PPV. There was a brief reformation in 1993, but the group didn't really come together full force until Flair turned on Sting during their match against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman at WCW Halloween Havoc 1995, October 30, 1995, and the introduction of Chris Benoit as the fourth member the next night on WCW Monday Nitro. Pillman left after a Worked Shoot with "The Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan at WCW SuperBrawl VI, intended to put over Pillman's "Loose Cannon" persona, in February 1996. Former Chicago Bears football player turned color-commentator Steve "Mongo" McMichael was added in his in-ring debut when he turned on his partner, fellow football player Kevin Greene, in their match with Flair and Arn at WCW Great American Bash 96. Jeff Jarrett was added in October 1996, and Arn had his last match at the start of 1997, declaring his retirement on the August 25, 1997 Nitro, with Curt Hennig accepting Arn's "spot" in the group. Hennig turned on the Horsemen in the War Games match against the nWo (Kevin Nash/Syxx Sean Waltman/Konnan/Buff Bagwell) at WCW Fall Brawl, September 14, 1997, shutting the group down for a year. Then Real Life Jerkass Bad Boss Eric Bischoff sued Flair after Flair had no-shown a taping of WCW Thunder in April 1998. Flair returned on the September 14 Nitro, as Arn and long-time Horsemen manager James J Dillon introduced the new lineup of the Horsemen: Benoit, McMichael, Dean Malenko (who had been pushing Arn for months to reform the group) and Flair. McMichael left quietly in early 1999, and the group dissolved in the middle of the year. Flair started accompanying Triple H to his matches starting after WWE Unforgiven in October 2002. Batista moved from WWE SmackDown! to Raw and joined them, with Randy Orton completing the group on January 20, 2003, and the name Evolution debuting two weeks later.
  • Thanks to a very recent bit of recycling, Chris Jericho can now count himself part of this list. Back in early 1998, when he was still part of (and, as legend states, rather disgruntled with) WCW, he showed up with The List of 1004 Holds (ARMBAR!!) as part of his feud with Dean Malenko. Fastforward eighteen years to 2016, where Jericho (with his "best friend Kevin Owens") begins to chronicle his various grievances with the WWE, centred around the recent brand split (another recycling from the early part of the previous decade) and the people with whom he shares roster space. How does he accomplish this? Why, with The List of Jericho, complete with him missing out numerous points on said list during lengthy recitations and people (such as The New Day and the reason for the List being started, Mick Foley) being told "...YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!" on multiple occasions. Then again, this is Chris Jericho we're talking about. If he can get a piece of paper over once, he can damn well do it again.
    • In late 2019, Jericho defied and lampshaded this trope. On the December 4 episode of AEW Dynamite, he created "The Lexicon of Le Champion", a list of wrestlers whom he wouldn't face again that year. When he announced the title of his latest creation, the crowd cheered, only to have Jericho (by now a heel holding the AEW championship belt) tell them that it wasn't 2016 any more. The Lexicon was constructed oddly like The List, including not only wrestlers but throwing in non-wrestling figures such as Buck Owens, "Kenny from South Park", and Rick Allen. The "armbar" of The Lexicon ended up being Jon Moxley (with whom he had a major feud in 2020, ending with Jericho dropping the AEW title to Mox).
  • Certain gimmicks recur so often in Professional Wrestling that it is not unusual to have more than one example existing at the same time - albeit necessarily on different TV shows or in different promotions. Whereas WWE boasts a mentally unstable "monster" who uses the Chokeslam finisher named Kane, TNA has a mentally unstable "monster" who uses the Chokeslam as a signature move named Abyss. And in late 2004/early 2005, this mimicry was seen within WWE itself as Gene Snitsky and Jon Heidenreich each performed the role of an intense monster heel with Punctuated! For! Emphasis! speaking patterns on Raw and SmackDown, respectively. Both of them spawned IWC memes (Snitsky's "It Wasn't My Fault" and Heidenreich's "Heidenrape") They even lampshaded this fact at the 2004 Survivor Series when they met for the first time, as well as had feuds in the same time frame with the Brothers of Destruction.
  • "The Narcissist" Lex Luger was recycled as "The Reflection of Perfection" Mark Jindrak after 11 years, complete with a hammy manager to talk him up.
    • See also "The Masterpiece", Chris Masters, in 2005-07.
    • Though the name similarity isn't there, many people see the similarities between Mr. Perfect, and Dolph Ziggler: long blond hair, tan skin, and an obsession with "perfection" (the former's nickname, the latter's second theme song.) Ziggler's manager is also an authority figure.

  • At Royal Rumble 1994, WWE Champion Yokozuna defeated The Undertaker in a Casket Match after 10 other wrestlers got involved. In 1998 he is again the challenger for the Title at the Royal Rumble in a Casket Match, and again a total of 10 people are involved but this time it only really took one, Kane (who set the casket on fire). It again started a this time shorter Hiatus. Then in 2005, Randy Orton and his father had a casket match with Undertaker, again winning by outnumbering him and then setting the casket on fire.
  • 1995, Mick Foley turns heel in ECW and tries to lure Tommy Dreamer to the safer environment of WCW. 2005, Mick Foley turns heel in Ring of Honor and tries to lure Samoa Joe to the higher paying pastures of WWE.
  • In 1997, Kane started tormenting The Undertaker, and at the following WrestleMania (XIV), Taker defeated Kane. This was followed by a long period of general peace and cooperation between them, including a reign as the tag champs. In 2003, Kane buried Taker in a Buried Alive match, and at the following Wrestlemania (XX), Taker defeated Kane, leading to a general period of peace with some cooperation over the past four years. Seven—er, six—year rule magnified exactly.
    • Speaking of The Undertaker and Kane, when the Undertaker first debuted, he was announced as "Cain the Undertaker". They didn't call him by that name again for over seven years, and then his brother "Kane" debuted.
    • In 1994, there was an infamous "Undertaker vs. Undertaker" feud. Or more accurately, "Undertaker vs. Guy In Undertaker Costume Who Is Visibly Shorter And Less Muscular Than Undertaker". Fast forward to 2006, and there was a "Kane vs. Guy In Kane's Old Costume Who Is Visibly Shorter And Less Muscular Than Kane" feud. (The fake Kane was played by the same wrestler who played hillbilly Festus and CM Punk disciple Luke Gallows.)
    • In 2010, Kane took out the Undertaker for a few months and the Undertaker came back for revenge. When Kane explained his actions, he stated it was because the Undertaker had shown weakness in his match with Shawn Michaels. It is very similar to the storyline where Kane buried Taker alive because he showed weakness in helping protect Stephanie from Vince. This feud fully acknowledges the past storyline, saying that last time, the time wasn't right for Kane's "master plan", and that he's been building up to this since the year after he debuted. The timeline also fits; it had been about another six years.
      • It had also been six years since Undertaker "killed" Paul Bearer, only for Bearer to return to be in 'Taker's corner. Though Bearer then betrayed Undertaker at the Hell in a Cell PPV two weeks later. Presumably he still remembers being buried in cement.
      • He hinted on Twitter that he does, anyway.
      • The feud then led to a Buried Alive match with Undertaker losing due to outside interference, leaving Kane to ask for a bulldozer to dump soil into the grave, almost seven years since the last time this happened.
  • In late 1999, Triple H, the top heel, "married" Stephanie McMahon and used her power in the company to rule the roster with an iron fist as the McMahon-Helmsley Regime, allowing him to keep a strangle hold on the Championship. Cut to 2008 and the same thing is repackaged with Edge and Vickie Guerrero (who, like Steph, was part of a famous wrestling family). Ironically, back in 2000, Edge and his tag team partner Christian voiced confusion on whether the group was a regime or a faction (both terms were used throughout the stable's history) and settled on "Fac-gime."
    • Life Imitates Art: In late 2003, Paul Levesque (Triple H) married Stephanie McMahon in real life, and (it can be argued) used their combined power in the company to rule the roster with an iron fist, allowing him to keep a strangle hold on the Championship.
  • The feud between The Undertaker and Triple H at WrestleMania XXVII was this. They had last competed against each other at WrestleMania X-Seven. WWE went out of its way not to bring this up, and in fact acted as if Taker and Triple H had never faced each other at all before (despite having wrestled each other many times in the 1990's even). This tactic may have had a slightly better chance of working if it wasn't a WrestleMania they were expecting everyone to have forgotten about. The night after Wrestlemania, Triple H finally acknowledged he'd faced Taker at Mania before.
  • In 1999, The Rock stole a win in an "I Quit" match over Mankind by playing a recording of Mankind yelling "I Quit!" and fooling the officials into awarding him the match. In 2011, The Miz stole a win in an I Quit match over John Cena with the exact same trick, simply updated for the twenty-first century. Rather than use the PA system like The Rock did, Miz had his then-protége Alex Riley (who was present due to The Miz abusing the "no disqualification" clause present in such matches) play a soundbite of Cena yelling "I Quit!" on his smartphone into a microphone. It didn't work. The referee caught on to his trick, leading him to reverse the decision and restart the match. Freed from his kendo stick beating, Cena then went and made Miz quit for real inside three minutes.
  • There are strong parallels between CM Punk's mid-summer 2011 storyline (TL;DR: his contract is revealed to be expiring the night that he competes for the WWE Championship, before which he proceeds to verbally shit all over WWE under Vince McMahon and John Cena's hegemony, threatening to take the belt to other promotions, and then actually won the belt in his hometown while letting his contract run out) and the "Summer of Punk" angle in Ring of Honor (his supposedly final match was for the ROH World Title, which he won only to reveal that he was going to WWE, sign his WWE contract on the title and then would be "chased" by the ROH roster attempting to take it back before he could run off with it).
    • TNA subverting the rule caused problems when they rehashed the entire storyline late 2013, with AJ Styles as Punk and Dixie Carter as Vince McMahon. Since this is two years removed from the original storyline that skyrocketed Punk to superstardom, everyone noticed the similarities so the storyline kind of fell flat. It did not help that Dixie Carter made a poor man's Vince. However, what probably killed the whole thing all together were AJ's contract negotiations at the time, much like how Punk's were disputed during the summer of 2011. AJ Styles, one of the TNA Originals who has stuck around since the company's very inception, the epitome of Undying Loyalty, finally left TNA, forcing the company to remove the title from him and kill his TNA career. AJ not sticking around destroyed the entire storyline and most likely TNA's last hope for a comeback.
  • Much of the Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat feud of 1989 was a rehash of earlier angles, including Steamboat stripping Flair naked in the ring. The two hadn't wrestled in five years, and in the interim the business had experienced almost 100% fan turnover. Ergo, a slick updating of five-year-old spots was probably the top feud of the year, as much due to time as the original version occurring pre-TV.
  • In 2003 Brock Lesnar was in a match against The Big Show for the Heavyweight Championship, one spot called for them to superplex off the second rope, which imploded the ring. Fast forward to 2011 and the Vengeance PPV and the spot happens all over again, this time with Mark Henry and the Big Show, again. Unlike Lesnar/Show, which was at the end of the show, Henry/Show was followed by a WWE Championship match with John Cena and Alberto Del Rio. It was a Last Man Standing Match, which worked out amazingly well. And then in 2017, the same thing happened a third time, this time with Braun Strowman and, you guessed it, the Big Show. Interestingly enough, Big Show was the victim of the "superplex" all three times.
  • 1997-ish, Mini Mankind & Mini Vader. 2009-ish, Mini Everyone
  • Like the popularity of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin leading into the Attitude Era in the late 90s, it's happening all over again now with CM Punk being the straight-talking, Pepsi drinking Anti-Hero who rebels against WWE's management. Punk being likened to Austin, as well as a new Attitude Era coming, certainly help in making the comparison to the late 90s. Whether this is all an elaborate storyline/gambit on the part of Vince McMahon and the creative team is unknown, but if it is, it makes this one hell of a Batman Gambit, and Vince one hell of a Magnificent Bastard/Chessmaster for him to know the fans would immediately love Punk.
  • Around 2004, former WCW wrestler Ernest "The Cat" Miller made his WWE debut, a comedy jobber who danced in the ring to the song "Somebody Call My Mama", and provided the 2004 Royal Rumble with its very own Big-Lipped Alligator Moment before disappearing. Eight years later, a wrestler named Brodus Clay made his Raw debut (he was formerly a WWE NXT rookie and a bodyguard for Alberto Del Rio), another dancer, with the exact same theme song that everyone onscreen acts like they've never heard before.
  • In 2002, Hulk Hogan and the Rock finally met in the ring for the first time at WrestleMania X8. It was touted as a meeting of two legends from two eras. Ten years later, the Rock and John Cena meet under the same terms at WrestleMania XXVIII. It would be no surprise to see John Cena and the then-current force in professional wrestling having the same encounter at the 38th WrestleMania.
  • In 2003, Hulk Hogan returned to WWE as "Mr. America", wearing a mask that barely covered his face and continuing to use his old moves and catchphrases, leading Vince McMahon to descend into insanity trying to prove that Mr. America was Hogan, including giving him a lie detector test that he somehow passed. In 2022, Elias returned to WWE as his own younger brother, Ezekiel, having shaved his beard, while still using his old moves and catchphrases, leading Kevin Owens to descend into insanity trying to prove that Ezekiel was Elias, including giving him a lie detector test that he somehow passed.
  • Rock & Wrestling Era: a mega-heel called The One Man Gang (a big white guy from Chicago) is transformed into the "African Dream" Akeem after "discovering his African roots".note  WWE, Inc. Era (a return to the cartoonish-ness of the Rock & Wrestling Era): A-Train (a huge white guy; before that, he was known as Albert) returns after 8 years as Lord Tensai (later just Tensai), having "found himself" in Japan. Which actually has some basis in reality, since Matt "A-Train" Bloom did spend several years wrestling in All Japan as Giant Bernard. They eventually gave up on that gimmick and renamed him "Sweet T" Tensai as Brodus Clay's partner in the wacky dancing big fat guy comedy team Tons of Funk.
  • TNA's Final Resolution 2010, Jay Lethal faced Robbie E for the TNA X Division Title, with Cookie suspended above the ring in a shark cage so she could not interfere. During the match, Cookie threw a foreign object down, which Lethal used against Robbie and was disqualified, allowing Robbie to retain. Just over a year later, at Genesis 2012, Mickie James faced Gail Kim for the Knockouts Title belt, with Madison Rayne suspended above the ring in the same shark cage. Gail retained in a similar way to Robbie (champion's partner deploys foreign object, challenger uses it, is disqualified). These are both callbacks to angles ran in IWA Puerto Rico, back when it and TNA Impact both shared Fox Sports net in 2004(Savio Vega being suspended in a cage for Super Phoenix getting a title shot at Ray González. Vega ended up being in charge of the knockouts in TNA later.)
  • Ryback's gimmick, in which he wins very short squash matches and then demands another opponent, has garnered chants of "Goldberg" from the crowd because of their many similarities. It doesn't help that Ryback even looks like Goldberg.
  • Rocky Maivia and Curtis Axelnote  are both third-generation wrestlers with gimmick names where they takes the first name from their famous father and the last name from their famous grandfather.
  • TNA example: AJ Styles has been broody throughout a good part of 2013. Outlaw biker stable Aces & Eights picks up on this and tries to win AJ to their side, to which they almost succeed when Kurt Angle is attacked by AJ while wearing one of their vests. However, this is short-lived as AJ shows he's not playing for Aces & Eights either and lashes out against them too, stating he is "his own man". Clearly drawing inspiration from WCW teasing Sting joining the nWo in 1996 (almost unashamedly rehashing if not for this trope's existence).
    • The "TNA Front Line vs. Main Event Mafia" angle is a redux of WCW's "New Blood vs. The Millionaire's Club" arc (young up-and-comers vs. veterans). Only this time, Vince Russo did it right by making the up-and-comers unambiguous faces, and putting them over.
  • One of the most famous feuds of the 1990's was when the Undertaker's manager, Paul Bearer, turned on 'Taker and aligned himself with Kane. Bearer repeatedly threatened to reveal a dark family secret about the Undertaker's past, which eventually culminated in a pay-per-view match with the Undertaker against Kane, and if Undertaker lost, Bearer would reveal the secret. Undertaker won the match, but Bearer revealed the secret anyway: That Kane was the Undertaker's supposedly long-dead half brother. Fast-forward to 2005, when Eddie Guerrero turned on his tag team partner, Rey Mysterio Jr.. Eddie repeatedly threatened to reveal a dark family secret about Rey's past, which eventually culminated in a pay-per-view match with Rey against Eddie, and if Rey lost, Eddie would reveal the secret. Rey won, but Eddie revealed the secret anyway: That Rey's son Dominik was actually Eddie's from a period of time in which he was separated from his wife.
  • WWE has recycled the "supergenius heel" 'character' a few times: Lanny Poffo became "The Genius" from 1989-91. Later "Dean Douglas" graced us all with his presence. Then, 15 years later, we get the smug intellectual Damien Sandow.
  • In 2013, WWE hyped up the first match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan as being a really big deal but it was really just the first match they ever had in nine years since they first squared off on WWE Velocity.
  • The unification of the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship at the 2013 TLC event was hyped as the most important match in WWE in over 50 years...yet December 2013 marks the 12-year anniversary of Chris Jericho's unification of the WWF Championship and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Vengeance 2001.
  • One of the most-remembered moments in the history of WWE/F was Hulk Hogan bodyslamming André the Giant at WrestleMania III; but a lot of fans don't realize that Hogan had already bodyslammed Andre (...wait for it...) seven years earlier at a house show in Hamburg, PA. Hogan did it again on a televised episode of WWF All American Wrestling on September 11, 1983, in a match Gorilla Monsoon refereed but evidently forgot had happened by Wrestlemania III less than 4 years later. By that time the WWF had attracted so many new fans, who couldn't look things up on the internet yet, so most were none the wiser. (It also helped that Andre was at least a hundred pounds heavier at WrestleMania III than he was in the previous years, so Hogan slamming him at that point was a much more impressive feat.)
  • ECW 03/09/1999, Bubba Ray Dudley cuts a promo comparing The Dudley Boys to God and declares his intentions to suck to soul out of ECW by brutalizing Tommy Dreamer. September 13th, 2013 TNA, Bully Ray boasts about taking Mr. Anderson's soul and compares himself to God.
  • CM Punk bragging about his reign with the WWE title (over a year), often retaining it by cheating and declaring himself the best in the world is suspiciously similar to Honky Tonk Man - "The greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time!" - and his long reign with the belt, only Punk was a baby face champion who turned heel over the lack of respect he was shown, thus was taken much more seriously and had a much stronger Plausible Deniability as much of the cheating was done by Paul Heyman and The Shield than by himself directly. This includes both men being quickly and unexpectedly defeated by super faces, The Rock and The Ultimate Warrior, to lose their belts. JBL could also be considered the version of this angle that occurred seven years before Punk.
  • In ECW, Stevie Richards was best known for imitating Raven's former gimmicks but upon arriving in the WWF, he started imitating wrestlers in general. In one of his runs with the company, Charlie Haas did a gimmick where he imitated other wrestlers, usually with his name worked in ("Stone Cold Charlie Haas", "the Glamahaas," "Charlito," etc.) Fast forward to 2014 and Damien Sandow is (for some reason) doing the same shtick, albeit without the name puns. note 
  • As far as women go, WWE sure do love the idea of a crazy and unpredictable heel - especially acting very Yandere towards their rival. You could say Luna Vachon vs Madusa, but that was in progress before and lasted after their WWF careers. Victoria and Mickie James (who both did this with Trish Stratus funnily enough) were the Trope Codifier, eventually being succeeded by A.J. Lee, Paige and Alicia Fox.
  • Another popular women's feud WWE always have success with is the concept of a 'Beast vs Beauty' - featuring an intimidating Brawn Hilda monster feuding with a glamorous attractive Girly Girl (who's usually blonde). First was Alundra Blayze (beauty) vs Bull Nakano (beast), then Trish Stratus (beauty) vs Jazz (beast). Beth Phoenix did this type of feud twice in her career (though was more of an Amazonian Beauty than Brawn Hilda) first against Candice Michelle and later against Kelly Kelly. Kharma was clearly going to have this storyline as well but her pregnancy changed matters. In TNA they also had ODB and Jacqueline vs Velvet Sky. And in 2016 WWE introduced a new "beast" in Nia Jax, going after (for the most part) Sasha Banks and Bayley.
    • Pro wrestling sometimes inverts it by having the 'beast' as the face and the 'beauty' as the heel - usually to evoke "Cool Loser" vs Alpha Bitch. Notable examples in WWE include LayCool vs Beth Phoenix & Natalya and Paige vs Summer Rae. They were possibly going for this storyline much earlier with Raquel Diaz as the 'beauty' but she left before it could get going. In TNA there has also been The Beautiful People vs Roxxi Laveaux, ODB and Awesome Kong.
  • Another popular one for the ladies recently is to build up a female tag team and then split them up to feud. LayCool proved a success, quickly followed by the Chick Busters, The Funkadactyls and Bella Twins.
  • Three sets of WWE Divas have debuted as a Superstar's Loony Fan: Tori for Sable in 1999, Mickie James for Trish Stratus in 2006 and Rosa Mendes for Beth Phoenix in 2009. Amusingly enough all three girls debuted in the winter of their years. The outcome has actually been different each time however; Sable was the one that turned heel on Tori but Mickie was the one who turned heel on Trish. Due to the This Loser Is You element, Mickie was still cheered over Trish at the blow-off match. Meanwhile Beth was already a heel so there was never a turn on Rosa. The alliance just quietly disappeared after a few months. TNA did this one too: Payton Banks (indie wrestler Rain) debuted in TNA as a fan of Robert Roode, though her animosity was directed to his valet, Ms Brooks.
  • It seems the "Seven-Year Rule" not only affects the audience but the characters themselves too. At WrestleMania 31, Stephanie McMahon confronted The Rock and said he's too honorable to hit a woman, capping it off with a slap to the face. The Rock, taking the high road, tacitly agreed by going into the audience, getting female MMA fighter Ronda Rousey to join him in the ring, and having her do what he is unwilling to. However he needn't have gone to all the trouble, since video evidence is on record of him doing exactly that fifteen years prior at the same event, WrestleMania 2000. His victim? Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, whom he delivered a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow to in the finale of the show following his loss in the Fatal Four-Way championship match. In fact Stephanie's actions almost mirror her actions from the latter event (slapping The Rock in an attempt to provoke him), except in this case he simply didn't call her bluff.note 
  • The ending to Survivor Series 2015 is practically rehash of SummerSlam 2013, with Roman Reigns as Daniel Bryan, the face who gets screwed after finally winning the title by a heel authority figure (the same heel authority figure, in fact), and Sheamus as Randy Orton, the guy who cashes in and then joins up with said heel authority figure. It wasn't well-received at all, for a variety of reasons:
    1. Again, Seven Year Rule. It's only been two years, so everyone can see the parallels.
    2. Neither of them are over enough to make it work. Reigns has mild popularity at best at this point, while Sheamus has been regarded as irrelevant and no one, not even the company itself, wanted him to be champion in the first place.
    3. The reason the original storyline worked was because of the Reality Subtext to it and the fact that Bryan was already massively over to begin with. Daniel Bryan as the popular, plucky underdog face against Randy Orton, The Chosen One of management who's been protected by the company for practically his entire career. The fans aren't dumb and this isn't the 80s — even the average casual fan is much smarter than they used to be, thanks to the advent of the Internet and the destruction of kayfabe. Everyone knows that Reigns is the corporate pick — he hasn't lost a one-on-one match clean since the start of his singles career and his mega push earlier in the year cemented it. That's not even accounting for the fact that "popular rebel-face vs. heel authority figure" is Austin vs McMahon with a fresh coat of paint, which has been done to death with nearly every single heel authority figure in the company for the last fifteen years, since at least the Attitude Era. It's as if the company is trying to set him up for constant failure and they're just completely oblivious to it.
  • In August-September 1997 WWF, "The Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman claimed to be the "father" of Dustin "Goldust" Runnels and Terri Runnels' daughter Dakota. Jump ahead to 2005, and Eddie Guerrero claimed the same thing about Rey Mysterio Jr.'s son Dominick. The difference is that Eddie wasn't portrayed as a physically-deteriorated maniac.
  • In 1998, there was a famous angle where "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was hit by a car driven by an unknown assailant, with the mystery behind who was responsible dragging on for a while. In 2019, Roman Reigns suffers several attacks (including being nearly hit by a car) and the mystery behind who was responsible drags on for a while. In both cases, the culprit was revealed to be a Beneath Suspicion mid-carder. note 
  • Aces And Eights in Impact Wrestling in 2013 and RETRIBUTION in WWE in 2020 both feature the promotion being beset by a masked group, who runs roughshod over the roster for weeks (or months). Both groups started out with a lot of hype that died down once the members were unmasked and revealed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 and other Warhammer products have new revisions brought out every four or five years, that being the length of time most players stick with the hobby, according to Games Workshop.
  • Magic: The Gathering will reuse popular themes after a several-year hiatus, reasoning that enough players had come and gone to make them seem new (and that players who had been around for them the first time would be happy to see them back). For example, multicolor cards were a theme in 1994's Legends, 2000's Invasion, 2005's Ravnica: City of Guilds, 2008's Shards of Alara, and 2012's Return to Ravnica. Speaking of Return to Ravnica, they've settled on seven years as being about the right amount of time to revisit a setting, as was done with both the Mirrodin and Ravnica settings. (Although they broke this habit by revisiting Zendikar after six years, and Innistrad after only four and a half.) There is an underlying game-balance justification that influences some of this, since a common format for sanctioned tournaments allows only cards from a certain number of the most recent releases to be used, about two years or so. Older cards are periodically rotated out of the whitelist, so one of the easier ways to maintain balance is to make sure some newly-released cards fill similar niches to ones that were recently rotated out.

  • American Girl has repeated not only themes, but storylines.
    • The Girl of the Year Line tends to reuse themes including horses, dance, and feminine sports. Given that the demographic age of eight to twelve is likely to have aged out by the next time a specific theme comes around again, it makes sense—especially because aspirations of dance and/or bonding with horses continue to be girlhood fantasies.
    • 2007's The Light in the Cellar and 2018's The Legend of the Shark Goddess were both mysteries written for the 1940s characters (Molly and Nanea, respectively) where the plot revolves around suspicions of theft and black-market activity to circumvent rationing. They end differently: In Nanea's, nobody was guilty at all, and the characters who look suspicious all have valid reasons.
  • Barbie reuses themes (e.g., ballerina, bridal, etc.) on a regular basis, not that that's a bad thing...
  • LEGO will always have a Space-like, underwater-like, castle-like or robot-like theme. Only the characters and sets are new. Justified in that the sets will contain enough new parts or features to make it worthwhile.
    • Example from the Indiana Jones-like Lines: Adventurers (1998 - 2000), Orient Expedition (2003), Indiana Jones (2008 - 2009), Atlantis (2010 - 2011, is also underwater-like), Pharaoh´s Quest (2011).
    • And every generation of the castle theme has a catapult set.
      • In the town theme, new police and fire stations are released on a 3-year cycle, like clockwork.
    • Lego's Star Wars line has run long enough that they now rerelease vehicles that already got playsets. This began in 2004 exclusively for OT sets because LEGO's style changed widely and made some sets look side-by-side like cars from the 50s next to ones from the 90s, and flesh colored figures were introduced. Now the quality of the design updates vary as many models can´t be designed that much better unless they change the size and price range (Slave One, for example, has been the same thing with different colors and functions since 2002).
    • They run with this trope sometimes. A set of smaller police cars and firetrucks were on shelves constantly from 2005 till 2013 because they figured kids would need basic things like them all the time.
  • Many action figure companies (especially back in the '90s, and especially Kenner) release versions of a figure or vehicle from a couple years ago with a new color scheme, and attempt to pass it off as a new one. Usually by this time the original is no longer for sale and has been dropped from the listing on the back of the box/card. Amusingly, sometimes the "new" figure will have completely new flavor text and new names for its special actions and accessories, even though it's just describing the same thing in different words.
    • Transformers, in particular, makes absolutely no attempt to hide this. In fact, in the franchise's first year, several sets of characters who were just each other in different colors came out all at once, with the toys sold on shelves right next to each other and the cartoon and comic book making no effort to disguise their identicalness. In fact, the cartoon uses variously-colored Starscreams as generic Mooks known as "Seekers".
      • Interestingly, this element has actually become embraced by much of the Transformers fan base—when a new toy is released of a character who was once well known for having a variety of repaints, demand will rise among fans for recolored versions of that toy representing his recolors from prior series. In addition to the aforementioned Starscream, Bumblebee being recolored as Cliffjumper is a common recurring theme, with a few exceptions. Additionally, Transformers recolors are rather atypical in that they usually represent completely new characters who just look similar to the old ones, as opposed to old characters in different colors (which, conversely, tend to be slow sellers).
      • This is also openly embraced by the toy designers themselves. When a new Transformers toy is being engineered, one of their considerations is how to use minor variations of arms, heads, legs, and other components so the same design can be re-released as a different character a year later. Often the original and alternate parts will end up being molded together in the factory.
  • The My Little Pony toyline has an approximately ten year rule for each of its generations. It likes to recycle character names, and will sometimes recycle gimmicks and plotlines as well.

  • This strip from Shortpacked! shows a toy fan realizing the frustrations inherent when companies take advantage of fans' short memories (in this case, regarding heavily enhanced test photos vs. plain final product shots) because the fans let them.
  • Expect Multiplex to inform you when this trope is in play with a current movie. Jason being a movie snob requires him to point them out.
  • Discussed in Penny Arcade. In a discussion drawn from real life, Mike pitches a joke and Jerry responds that they had already done it ten years ago. Mike considers that good news, since it falls outside the Ten Year Rule and is therefore free to use again. They end up making not a strip recycling the joke, but a strip making a joke ABOUT recycling the joke.

    Web Original 
  • LoadingReadyRun parodies this by pretending to be remaking a sketch that had been released just a few weeks earlier. As it turns out one of their members is manipulating them into position so he can use them for his own sketch, which the others had shot down.
  • Cracked's The 6 Craziest Superman Stories Ever Written Twice.
  • The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a particularly special case. They're a company which makes bots which are designed to waste the time of telemarketers and other unwanted callers. Though it's possible that some of the callers will figure out what's going on if their calls are picked up by bots enough, the turnover rate in the telemarketing industry is huge. Therefore, at any given time, it's likely that that any call redirected to one of the bots will be handled by someone who is still rather new on the job. That said, this doesn't necessarily prevent supervisors from warning agents about these bots, which means that the company must still be innovative in coming up with new tactics, routines and bots to try to stay ahead of the game.
  • Patrick (H) Willems' video "Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Hollywood's Problem With Public Domain Properties" is about the failure to follow this trope. For the last several decades, every Arthurian or Robin Hood film has been a "bold new take" that removes the characters' most recognizable elements. But since there hasn't been a straight adaptation of these stories since the early 90s, people don't really remember what they're supposed to be like, so a revised version doesn't have the same impact.

    Western Animation 
  • This trope is thought to be the reason the writers of Care Bears & Cousins chose to do an invert of Remember the New Guy? and make it so bears barring Tenderheart do not recognize the cousins.
  • For decades, Disney would release their animated films in theaters every seven years, starting with the re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) in 1944. Walt Disney thought that after seven years, there would be a new crop of viewers who hadn't seen the earlier release. This way, Disney reasoned, it would refresh the movies to a new generation of viewers. This was considered such holy writ that, when then-CEO Michael Eisner looked to release Disney movies to the VHS market in a desperate attempt to save the company, there was more than the usual amount of teeth-gnashing and doomsaying over how he was selling the farm and no one would ever buy Disney products again.
    • After Disney permanently switched over to re-releasing their films on VHS rather than in theaters, Eisner and co. found a way to apply this "generational" line of thinking to home releases with the creation of the so-called "Disney Vault"; films would be re-released on video every seven years, and then would be pulled from circulation after a year or so in order to create artificial scarcity. In order to entice people to keep buying the releases every seven years, each new release would feature updated picture quality compared to the version released seven years prior, and once DVDs came out the films were given new bonus material. The creation of the Disney Movies Anywhere and Disney+ internet streaming services put an end to this practice, however.
      • Unfortunately, there has been one negative consequence of this during the last year of the aforementioned Eisner era.note 
    • This may have also inspired George Lucas to both theatrically release the updated Star Wars original trilogy and avoid the mistakes Eisner and Disney made. The updates and the long absence from theaters also helped justify the original trilogy reshows.
  • By the 1980s, because Hanna-Barbera had been around for so long, they were able to reuse jokes and gags (and yes, even plots) from older productions in newer ones. For instance:
    • Rockin' With Judy Jetsonnote , essentially a loose, expanded remake of the 1960s episode, "A Date With Jet Screamer", reuses the "secret message mixup" bit. It also reuses the "hairstyle" gag from a different episode, only with Judy instead of Jane.
  • During The Golden Age of Animation, this trope was employed partly due to the fact that movie theaters wouldn't rerun older cartoons anyway, particularly if they were from the black and white era once Technicolor became the standard. Because of this, plots could be re-used after enough years had gone by. The Popeye series was particularly guilty of this, once Famous Studios took over.
    • Often found in Looney Tunes shorts in remakes, like "Back Alley Oproar" and "Notes To You" both featuring a gag where Sylvester the cat singing while one of the other characters is trying to sleep. Others include the Xylophone Gag, the shooting gallery gag (where one character takes a mischievous child character to a shooting gallery, and the kid makes it seem like the shooter is shooting the barker in the head), and the powder room gag (where Bugs throws a match into a room with gunpowder, and Sam refuses to go get it after the third time, resulting in a big kablooey).
    • In some shorts, a main character will be married or have a girlfriend who will disappear with no explanation, only for a new love interest to appear in another short. Daffy Duck has been married at least three times for the purposes of situational comedy.
  • During the 1950s, MGM's cartoons used the plot of "a character constantly runs out of the building to avoid waking up his grouchy master". This occurred in Rock-a-Bye Bear (1952), Deputy Droopy (1955) and Royal Cat Nap (1958).
  • Every episode of Blue's Clues & You! recycles the plot from an earlier episode of the original series. The credits for each episode also thank the crew members who made the original episode each one is based off.
    • Many episodes of the two seasons of the original with Joe as the host borrowed several concepts from Steve's seasons, also for this reason.
  • VeggieTales will reuse previous lessons or plots from earlier episode for this exact reason:
    • The show had two Silly Song-based sing-along tapes: "Very Silly Songs" and "The End Of Silliness?".
    • The show has five Christmas specials: "The Toy That Saved Christmas", "The Star Of Christmas", "Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving", "Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas" and "The Best Christmas Gift".
    • "God Wants Me To Forgive Them?", "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's" and "Celery Night Fever" have a lesson in forgiveness.
    • "Jonah Sing Along Songs and More!" was later remade as "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything Sing Along Songs and More!", the only difference being that the former had animated Framing Device segments, while the latter's Framing Device segments were live-action.
    • The show has three Easter specials, "An Easter Carol" and "Twas The Night Before Easter".
    • Both "The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown" and "If I Sang A Silly Song" are countdowns of Silly Songs from previous videos.
    • Both "Where's God When I'm S-Scared?" and "The League of Incredible Vegetables" have a lesson in facing fears.
    • Both "Lyle, The Kindly Viking" and "Veggies In Space: The Fennel Frontier" have a lesson in sharing.
  • Given the series's length, SpongeBob SquarePants is bound to have repeat plotlines. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run's premise is a retelling of Season 4's "Have You Seen This Snail".
    • The video games can be described in the same way, as a large number of recent entries in the franchise involve Plankton creating some type of robot army.
  • Arthur had a strange example of this trope in the episode "The Longest 11 Minutes". The episode's plot focuses on the gang trying to find a way to survive when the Internet goes out, and learning about things that can be done without the Internet, like reading encyclopedias and using an instant camera. However, the things they choose to entertain themselves with are claimed to be "unfamiliar" to the characters when they have appeared in previous episodes of the series. This was likely done because it is relatable to the current demographic watching the show.
  • In The Simpsons season 5 episode "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", Barney mistakes a cup of quarters for a cup of beer, and ends up swallowing a bunch. As he starts burping them out, one of the patrons nearby says, "Hey, this guy's paying off!" Barney is then surrounded by gamblers picking up the quarters as he keeps burping. This episode aired in 1993. Cut to 2012. After Futurama (another show created by Matt Groening) is Uncancelled, there's the season 7 episode "Viva Mars Vegas". The Planet Express crew steals a bunch of money from a casino taken over by the Robot Mafia by having Zoidberg eat everything in the vault, as he's currently invisible. When the crew attempts to wheel Zoidberg out of the casino on a shrimp serving cart, he starts burping out dollar bills. And just like in "$pringfield", a bystander shouts "Look! The shrimp cart's paying out!" before a horde of gamblers follow after it to pick up the bills. In essence, they reused a joke nineteen years later.

Alternative Title(s): No One Has A Memory Over Two Years Old, Nohamotyo, Seven Year Rule