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Follow the Leader

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Above: The Wii Remote and Nunchuk, released in 2006.
Below: The PlayStation Move, released in 2010.

"I am afraid to say that the history of entertainment is also the history of imitation."
Satoru Iwata, late CEO of Nintendo, in 2010

Whenever a work achieves enough success, there will be imitators. It doesn't matter if it's a cheap foreign knockoff or a major Hollywood production. It doesn't matter whether the writers are choosing to do this or the producers are. If they think they can make money by basing their creation on a successful work, or at least something else in its genre, they will do so. Thanks to Sturgeon's Law, this has the typical effect of flooding the market with a lot of inferior works. But not always; sometimes they improve on the original, or find new approaches to it.

Of course, the trailblazing work may itself not be original; in this day and age, little is. But it just manages to capture the public's interest (and their money), and it is this magical moment that studios strive to duplicate, after the fact. It isn't unusual for the press releases or documents for these imitations to mention the comparison.

May result in the resurrection of a previously successful franchise in the same genre; X-Men and Spider-Man, for instance, led to Batman Begins and Superman Returns. These may or may not become Lost in Imitation.

If the imitators have enough of the spark to become successful and spawn imitators of their own, a whole new genre may be created, as imitators and follow-ups evolve and begin to codify a style.

Note that this phenomenon is not limited to recorded visual entertainment. The music industry in particular is just as prone to "trend-hopping," as are video games and, really, any entertainment medium. Also note that while the text of this article deals primarily with American institutions, the concepts herein apply equally in all parts of the world.

It's also interesting to note that Follow the Leader may result in its own particular form of Narm. Just try dressing your characters up in black leather longcoats and using Bullet Time in your action sequences nowadays without becoming a Matrix knockoff.

Another potential problem is Misaimed Fandom. Instead of looking at the core reasons why the original may have been so popular and basing their follow-up on that, such as three-dimensional characters, a unique plot and genuinely witty or moving writing and acting, the creators following the leader only tend to focus on the superficial stuff on the surface — it's got pirates in it; pirates must be popular, so let's all make nothing but pirate movies! — and thus completely miss the point of what made the original great in the first place; In some cases, imitators will deliberately copy the problems of the original, believing those elements were important to the success of the work, when they were actually flaws of the original that could be ignored, but in the imitation will become major problems.

This approach also tends to lead to market saturation and, eventually Fan Disillusionment; after all, no matter how much you like pirate movies, if the only thing anyone makes is pirate movies, you're going to get sick of pirates and want to see stories about something else. This is also the reason why Cyclic Tropes are cyclic: someone does it one way, everyone imitates it; after a while, someone wants to do it differently, and everyone imitates that. Of course, once that's mainstream, someone will want to do it differently, and back it goes the other way...

So why bother following the leader at all? Well, since the original being copied probably had something that made it successful, it's rare for the duplicates to fail completely. And once in a while, they can pay off big time. Some works actually manage to replicate much of the success of the leader, often by original elements that give the followers their own quality or, even more rarely, by highly derivative works that manage to maintain or even exceed the quality of the leader. The latter usually happens with video games, especially if the leader is not on that system and the follower is a successful answer to it. Anyway, what's the point in innovations if nothing else is going to take advantage of or even build on it?

Truth in Television pretty everywhere outside of media, as well. Someone had to discover smelting bronze for an entire period of history to massively use it, someone else had to discover smelting iron for the Iron Age, and some particular Ur-Example had to realize rocks were better than bare hands as tools. But imitating technology is one thing (you tend to lose wars if you don't); non-creative "creative works" are something else. While this trope is often used in a negative connotation, this isn't always the case - the leader often sends a message to executives that something that they had seen as "too niche" or too hard to market before actually isn't. This has in fact allowed plenty of things to get a mainstream release, or even a release period. As anyone who worked in the industry can tell you, getting an official release (even a small one) can be very competitive.

A Super-Trope to:

Compare Dueling Works. Also compare Borrowing from the Sister Series, where the "leader" in this case is a different work by the same creator.

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    open/close all folders 

  • One advertisement for Burger King's breakfast sandwich lampshades this, having the King breaking into McDonald's headquarters and stealing one of their recipes.
    Announcer: The BK breakfast muffin sandwich with egg: it's not that original, but it's only a buck.
  • The British advert for Burger King's new Chicken Tenders lampshades the fact that they're pulling a Follow the Leader on McNuggets. A husband goes "I wonder what they taste like?" and his wife sarcastically retorts "I bet they're REALLY different".
  • For a brief period of time in the Nineties, the mascot for Alpha-Bits cereal was the Alpha-Bits wizard, an obvious attempt by Post to cash in on the success of Lucky Charms' Lucky the Leprechaun. Like Lucky, the wizard never managed to protect his cereal from the children despite having magical powers. Even the motto ("They're A-B-C-Delicious") was similar to Lucky Charms' "They're Magically Delicious".
  • The Very False Advertising tactics used by Playrix in their games such as Gardenscapes would be adopted by many other mobile game developers using a lot of the same styles: differing gameplay from the actual games, sometimes showing a Match-Three Game but not always being honest about it while playing up other elements, shared trailer gameplay such as the choice mechanic, players that appear incompetent, and a fixation on adultery being seen in a negative light to make the game appear edgy.
  • In the mid-2010s, McDonald's introduced Happy, which is a hyperactive, gibberish-speaking sentient Happy Meal who is meant to capitalize on the trend the Minions started.

    Card Games 
  • In 2008, Donald X. Vaccarino took the idea of each player using a deck, a la Magic: The Gathering, and put a new spin on it. What if, instead of players creating their deck ahead of time and bringing to the match, players had to start with the same limited deck and build it up from the same pool of cards as their opponent? Thus was born Dominion, which launched an entire genre that would be known as deck-building games. There were a fair number of forgettable clones, but games like Ascension, Thunderstone, and Marvel Legendary have established reputations as excellent games in their own right, by playing around with themes and mechanics based on Dominion's main ideas.
  • Magic: The Gathering is the Trading Card Game equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, two of its unsuccessful imitators, Spellfire and Dragon Dice, was produced by TSR, the makers of Dungeons & Dragons, and the commercial failure of Dragon Dice was a major reason why TSR and its franchises were sold to Wizards of the Coast (though they got bought out by Hasbro two years later).
  • The Pokémon franchise spawned craze in Japan for anything with collectable monsters, that would later be imitated by series such as Dragon Quest (via the Dragon Quest Monsters series) and Telefang (which overseas was ironically sold as a bootleg Pokemon game, after being poorly translated). The collectable monster concept proved successful as a card game as well, when the Pokemon card game was released. This success would lead to Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters becoming extremely successful. The success of Yu-Gi-Oh! lead to imitators trying to get on the bandwagon of making a show about a game, so that kids will want to buy the real version. With so many shows like this out there nowadays, such as Duel Masters, Beyblade, Battle B-Daman, Medabots, Bakugan, and Chaotic just to name a few, one could say that "Card Game Animes" have become a genre. They all feature a tournament arc, talking about what the game is "truly about", and posing dramatically while playing the game.

     Music Videos 
  • Miserable inspired a sleu of imitators copying or taking clear inspiration from the premise, often as an explicit Shout-Out or reference. Typically in the form of the band or singer standing on top of a Giant Woman, and in particular her butt, or having the musician(s) interacting with a sexy giant woman who by the end winds up picking them up and eating them.

  • Disney+ kickstarted the buisness model of streaming services owned by media conglomerates, thus removing the need to license out thier films and TV shows to pre-existing services, as they can just host it all themselves. The success of Disney+ was soon followed by other companies doing the same. These include NBCUniversal starting Peacock, Paramount Global starting Paramount+, and WarnerMedia starting HBO Max. For better or for worse, Disney+ is the major reason why the streaming industry became so segmented in The New '20s.
    • Something important to take note of here is why Disney+ took off in the first place. Disney's library is huge, and almost all of their back catalogue was made available on the service day one. Other companies tried to copy this by dumping everything they could all at once, but none of them were nearly as big. That being said, however, said services also used other tactics to entice viewers into subscribing, such as Peacock being free with very little locked behind a paywall, or HBO Max being included with cable subscriptions to HBO.

  • The "Graveyard"/"Nightmare" table from Pinball Dreams is a copy of Williams Electronics' highly popular Terminator 2: Judgment Day pinball.
  • Many early computer pinball games were near-direct copies of arcade pinball machines:
  • Pinball got hit with this trope early in its formation, as the success of Baffle Ball led to countless imitators.
  • Similarly, the success of Contact led to other games copying its electro-mechanical features, leading to the widespread use of solenoids, chimes, and the tilt anti-cheating mechanism.
  • After Humpty Dumpty was released, it instantly made flipperless pinballs obsolete. Gottlieb's competitors all scrambled to put out their own flipper games. In only three months, nearly all pinball manufacturers had a flipper pinball available, and they were standard equipment soon after that.
  • The aforementioned Firepower was a trendsetter in more than one way: It also popularized the multiball, a mode in which multiple balls would enter play at the same time. It was not the first pinball machine to have multiball (and had existed for decades prior), but it was the first one in which it was a central gameplay feature and not simply a gimmick, to where Williams Electronics trademarked the word. Competitors grew adept at Writing Around Trademarks, though, and before long, machines like Haunted House and Cyclone would be criticized for not having multiball modes.
  • Williams' Black Knight would create a short-lived trend of the split-level playfield, in which the upper third of the playfield is elevated compared the the lower two-thirds. When news of Black Knight's production got accidentally leaked, both Bally and Stern got on board, with Bally making Flash Gordon and Stern making Split Second.
  • The Addams Family was a major game-changer, quite literally, in that it was the first popular machine to have different modes, which would be started one by one by the player, in which the rules would be slightly different, and a Wizard Mode waiting at the end for whomever could finish all of the modes. This would soon become the standard for nearly all pinball made after that, with the only subsequent exceptions being deliberate throwbacks to pre-Addams gameplay, like Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons and Total Nuclear Annihilation.
  • Space Shuttle had a high-quality (for the time) scale model of a NASA space shuttle sitting on the playfield. As Space Shuttle sold so well compared to other machines released before it, the scale model shuttle incentivized future pinball designers to put models of objects and characters onto the playfield, which would subsequently be known as "toys," to where any machine made after Space Shuttle would be immediately dismissed as bland-looking if it didn't have at least one such thing in it. In turn, there was FunHouse (1990), in which the player could hit the toy, the head of a character named Rudy, with the ball. This gave rise to the toy that the ball interacts with directly or is otherwise influenced by the player's actions (such as parts that move in response to actions elsewhere on the machine). Toys that are meant to be hit with the ball, in particular, became so common that the term "bash toy" was created to specifically define them.
  • Bally's Rapid Fire was inspired by Williams' earlier game, Hyperball. Williams' employees derisively called Rapid Fire "Operation Xerox" or "Project Xerox".

  • RiffTrax, created by Mike Nelson, sparked the rise of the Alternate DVD Commentary.
  • Wizard People, Dear Reader (2004) predates RiffTrax (2006), actually, but in any event the general idea undoubtedly followed close on the heels of the first "regular" DVD commentary. And both of them are really just a technical variation on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

    Print Media 
  • The success of MAD as a satire magazine spawned legions of imitators. Most were short-lived, but the longest-lived by far was Cracked.

  • Many, many times over the years has this happened in the radio broadcasting industry with regard to new programming concepts or formats. Sometimes the effect is wide-ranging and changes the state of the industry forever, as with the explosive growth of the Top 40 radio format in the 1950s.
    • Early on, stations like KLIF in Dallas, Texas (though it was likely not the first Top 40 station) were looked upon as inspirations, with programmers and owners like Todd Storz, Rick Sklar (who helmed WABC, New York), Mike Joseph, and KLIF's Gordon McLendon hailed as geniuses.
    • Later on in the mid-1960s, Bill Drake's KHJ in Los Angeles became a trendsetter by pioneering a format of more music and less talk which has been a blueprint for radio programming ever since, and stations that copied KHJ's approach, including KFRC in San Francisco and CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, were themselves highly imitated in their own areas.
    • While Top 40 paved the way for format radio as we now know it, the trope also applies with various programming concepts over the years that did not find lasting success, notably Disco, which grew rapidly after all-disco WKTU went to number one in the New York City market in 1978 (unseating WABC), and then faded just as quickly less than a year later as disco crashed and burned.
  • For a vintage example, Radio Drama series The Whistler was essentially a copycat of The Shadow.
  • Almost simultaneously in The '90s, Rush Limbaugh and Jim Rome became such huge national phenomenons with their brash, outspoken styles that they effectively reinvented their specific subgenres of talk radio (current events for Limbaugh, sports talk for Rome). Other national shows and countless local shows replicated the Limbaugh formula of snarky right-wing punditry and the Rome formula of energetic, pop culture-infused sports commentary.

  • Dino Attack RPG is an interesting example, following the footsteps of Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG (alongside other concurrent RPGs like Tiny Turbos RPG and the original Johnny Thunder RPG), then most later LEGO RPGs ended up following Dino Attack RPG. This makes Dino Attack RPG a follower that eventually became a leader.
  • Projection Quest has started to have numerous spinoff quests where the basic concept of 'various characters from other worlds/franchises cycle in to teach the main character powers and abilities from their world' is redone in numerous different ways.

  • Microsoft, while still having successful products under their own image, such as the Xbox and their Windows OS, started to follow many trends with very little success. Microsoft's Zune service was an attempt to take a slice out of Apple's iPod profits by making their own brand of MP3 players, but it didn't work out and was discontinued in 2012. When Nintendo gotten popular with their Wii console since casual based games with motion controls was a hit, Microsoft tried to get a piece of the action by creating the Kinect addon for the Xbox 360, but it barely even caught on compared to the Wii. Windows 8 is an OS by Microsoft that attempts to imitate Apple's iOS. However, Windows 8 has been declared to be worse than Vista due 8 having an interface that is designed more for tablets than traditional PCs and the OS changed everything around, which frustrated people that had known where everything in the OS was before Windows 8.
  • Bizarrely, the flat, minimalist look that Microsoft created Windows Phone to distance it as far as possible from iOS and Android very quickly inspired Apple to drop their own iconic 3D, glossy look in favor of flat colors and clean lines as well, with even app icons now composed solely of solid colors and gradients. Android has since followed suit. Even KDE, one of the desktop environments for Linux, has a considerably flatter look now.
  • Firefox 4 followed Google Chrome's lead when it came out, eliminating the menu bar (by default) and shifting the tabs to the top. Later, they also relocated the app menu to the right side of the toolbar with a "hamburger" style button.
  • The release of the first Apple Macintosh in 1984 sparked considerable interest in computers with Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) within the industry. The Mac pioneered and popularized numerous interface elements that are taken for granted in most PC interfaces today, such as menu bars, windows, and icons. Most notably, Microsoft followed suit by releasing the first version of Microsoft Windows the following year. While command-line interfaces would remain the standard for a few more years due their being computational expensive to use, the Mac put the writing on the wall saying that graphical interfaces were the future of how people would interact with their devices.
  • In Ubuntu 10.04, the window buttons moved to the left, which is where they would be on a Mac. However, it was changed back in Ubuntu 17.10 because users that didn’t already have experience with Macs weren’t fond of the change.

  • Competitive sports is very much a Follow the Leader endeavor. The 2003 book Moneyball (subtitle: "The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game") described the unorthodox methods of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Oakland's ability to succeed despite financial disadvantage inspired other major league teams to copy their approach.
  • American Football coaches are notorious copycats, even at the NFL or elite collegiate level.
    • Whenever an innovative offensive or defensive scheme is unveiled, it will quickly be adopted by other teams... until someone figures out how to stop it. The spread offense is king at the moment, as was the read option offense (as of the 2012 season) and the hurry-up/no-huddle offense (and its variant, the two-minute drill); past trends (most of which still exist in some form) include the following: on the offensive side, there's the West Coast Offense, Air Coryell, the Run-and-Shoot, the shotgun formation, the wishbone, the T-formation, and especially in the 2008 NFL season, the Wildcat formation. On the defensive side, there's the 46 Defense, the zone blitz, and the Tampa 2. There's a reason why the NFL is often called a "copycat league".
    • If a player hits it big for an innovative niche, the next 1,000 guys at that position will all be compared to him. Before Michael Vick, the mobile quarterback was something of a rarity, and every halfback that catches passes will inevitably be compared to LaDainian Tomlinson. There's probably a bunch of guys looking to draft the next Devin Hester.
    • Some of the oldest techniques were even more pronounced instances of Follow the Leader: in 1892, Harvard introduced the Flying Wedge and trounced Yale (under the modern scoring system, they would have won 42-0). In 1893, nearly every play was a flying wedge. In 1894, it was banned (largely because it was EXTREMELY dangerous).
    • The modern T-formation appeared in 1939. In 1940 Stanford won the Rose Bowl using it, and the Chicago Bears won the NFL championship (73-0, still the most lospsided GAME in NFL history). Within 10 years only one pro and a handful of Colleges were still running the single-wing.
    • The Hungary-born Gogolak brothers (Pete and Charlie) introduced soccer-style placekicking to the NFL in The '60s. Afterwards, lots of other NFL teams began bringing in Association Football-trained players from other countries as kickers, then American kickers on all levels began adopting soccer-style kicking techniques, leading to "conventional" placekicking disappearing almost entirely from the sport by The '80s.
  • Motorsport is rife with this at the top levels. A skilled engineer/aerodynamicist develops a new device. Said device results in their car utterly destroying the rest of the field. Cue each other team developing/copying the new device, sometimes failing to get it to work, other times refining it. Assuming they aren't petitioning the governing body to ban it, if it isn't already. The list of examples could fill its own page.
  • In a literal case, a few minor league associates of Big Four teams have the same colors or names as the "headquarters".
  • Over the last 35 years, the National Hockey League has seen its overall style of play change and develop whenever a given team begins winning with a new style of play, which the rest of the league begins emulating in an attempt to catch up. Whether the rough-and-tumble tactics of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s, the high-scoring Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s, or the tight and defensive New Jersey Devils in the 1990s (specifically their use of neutral zone trap), all three teams helped define their eras as their opponents began copying them.
  • While there were Football/Soccer goalkeepersnote  capable of scoring goals, at least in Latinamerica, it wasn't until José Luis Félix Chilavert's and Rogério Ceni's highly successful stints as goalkeepers of Argentinean club Vélez Sársfield and Brasilean club São Paulo (and their unusually high amount of free kick and penalty goals for goalkeepers) that many later goalkeepers began trying to imitate them.
  • For much of its early history, home runs were rare in Major League baseball; the game was built around contact hitting, base stealing, and other strategies that moved one baserunner at a time. Then came Babe Ruth, a successful pitcher turned even more successful hitter, who became known for actively trying to hit home runs (and accepting a walk if he didn't see any pitches he could hit out of the park). In his first year as a full-time hitter, he set a record for most home runs in a season, a record he himself would break three times more. His approach was so popular with fans that it changed how baseball was played, with home runs, strikeouts and walks all increasing dramatically and "small ball" becoming much rarer as hitters got paid for swinging for the fences.
  • In road cycling, many stage races have the leading rider wear a yellow jersey. Most of these are inspired by Tour de France.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons casts the same sort of shadow over role-playing games (and that's all role-playing games ever produced, whether they be tabletop or video games) that Superman casts over superhero comic books. If it's a role-playing game, it's playing Follow the Leader with D&D. Even the recent trend toward more experimental games with more loosely-defined and user-contributed rules, such as Fiasco or My Life with Master, is effectively one of Deconstruction of the Trope Creator.
  • Champions was the original point-buy roleplaying game. Originally, that made Champions unique; but nowadays point-buy is a very common method of character generation among tabletop gamers. This means that a majority of roleplaying games out there (even the current version of D&D has an optional point-buy system) are now playing Follow the Leader with Champions.
  • Warhammer 40,000 began as a spin-off of Warhammer set in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future!, with everything that appeared in Warhammer Fantasy having some futuristic counterpart. While the setting has since matured and has in fact overshadowed its predecessor, 40k has gone on to inspire other works - compare its power-armored Space Marines, psychic and technological Eldar, and skittering hordes of Tyranids to the power-armored Terran Marines, psychic and technological Protoss, and skittering hordes of Zerg found in StarCraft. This inevitably leads to arguments and flame wars when gamers don't realize that 40k is Older Than They Think, such as when one reviewer accused THQ and Games Workshop of ripping-off Gears of War for the game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. (After 40k fanboys complained vociferously, he revised the review to clarify that he was referring more to gameplay and general feel than to setting, the latter of which he admitted to knowing little about.)
    • Besides video games, 40k and Warhammer Fantasy helped spawn other tabletop wargames, most notably the Iron Kingdoms games.
    • For the record; the many variants of Powered Armor are based on Laserburn's GZG Japanese Powered Armor. Which existed 7 years before Warhammer 40,000.
      • Starship Troopers, the novel, codified Power Armor, Bug War, and Space Marine as tropes, period, in 1959. It is not the Ur-Example, which may be the Lensmen series of the late 30's. If told those Laserburn minis were meant to represent the Mobile Infantry of Starship Troopers, they'd be entirely appropriate. The MI even packed mini atomic rockets on Y-shaped frames of some kind.
  • Pretty much every horror tabletop role playing game owes a debt to the Call of Cthulhu game, which was the Trope Creator for the Sanity Meter.
  • Magic: The Gathering's popularity in Japan caused a large number of domestic franchises to launch card game spinoffs hoping to earn a piece of the pie. Pokémon Trading Card Game and Yu-Gi-Oh! were the most successful by far (to the point many don't realize Yu-Gi-Oh! started as a manga) and are still running to this day, but other franchises like Mega Man Battle Network and Digimon also tried their hand at the medium, to varying degrees of success.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tokimeki Memorial pioneered the Dating Sim genre with a clean but lovable game, showing that these games weren't just for the hentai. This trend continued with Kanon (ironically, itself an H-Game), which spawned many other H and non-H romance games that focused on the story and characters.
    • One of those followers was Memories Off, which established itself the genre of clean games with sad stories.
    • This still happens with the ero-ren'ai game market — a game will come out with an interesting UI enhancement, gameplay trick, or oddball fetish, and upon being successful, will be mimicked by dozens of companies.
    • The success of Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side convinced many a visual novel company to attempt otome spinoffs of their bishoujo game properties, including Memories Off, Da Capo, and Welcome to Pia Carrot.
    • A more tasteful example would be the success of Katawa Shoujo, which spawned some independent imitators, including one based on mental rather than physical defects. Like many freeware games most of the Spiritual Successor's died in pre-development. Missing Stars is still in production, if somewhat stuck in Development Hell. It's based in a European high school for mentally ill teenagers.
  • Ever17 is a popular Visual Novel. Soul Link is a less popular visual novel. Ever17 is about a group of people trapped in an underwater theme park. Soul Link is about a group of people trapped in a hotel IN SPACE.
  • The Portopia Serial Murder Case, especially its menu-based Famicom port, led to an enormous wave of murder mystery adventure games from Japanese video game companies in the 1980s; Irem and Taito produced licensed adaptations of popular mystery novels by Kyotaro Nishimura and Misa Yamamura, and even Nintendo jumped on the trend with the Famicom Detective Club series. This trend went unnoticed in English-speaking countries, because very few of these games were ever localized, though some of them (Déjŕ Vu (1985) and Murder on the Mississippi) did begin as American computer games.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is fairly similar to the visual novel Killer Queen that came out four years prior, with both having a bunch of unconnected individuals being taken to somewhere without any contact (or chance of contact) with the outside world and being encouraged to kill each other for freedom, including having additional methods just in case everyone cooperates. They both also have the entire event created for entertainment, and both have a person involved with the event that's also taking part in it that becomes involved with a sporty girl that lives to the end. In the manga side of things, after the series' popularity, there have been quite a few manga taking the "high-schoolers wake up in a room and have to kill each other" plot. Jinroh Game even follows the most ordinary of the group and features a student trying to resist the mastermind and getting gruesomely killed for it at the beginning.
  • Dies Irae by Takeshi Masada is Light's most successful visual novel by a wide margin and is often considered the standard for Chuunige visual novels. As a result, some of their other writers tried to copy his style and structure with the Silverio series, as well as plenty others outside of Light.
  • HuniePop made a splash at the time for being an animesque dating sim combined with a legitimately good puzzle game mechanic, but received only one imitator, by an actual Japanese dev team curiously enough: the visual novel Purino Party.

    Web Animation 
  • Many websites that are animated base it solely off of Homestar Runner.
  • ASDF Movie has had dozens of remakes in real life, LEGO, Mine Craft, Happy Wheels, Modern Warfare 3, Garry's Mod, Black Ops 2, SFM and so on. They all play the audio of one or more of the original videos over their own animation and meet varying success. There are also a dozen YouTube Poops and even fan made sequels.
  • AMV Hell. Though the format likely started with Robot Chicken, it was AMV Hell that defined it as a YouTube staple and fan work in general, with notable entries like The G Mod Idiot Box and PONIES The Anthology.
  • The horse-based short Dream Come True looks like a mix of Disney and the Disney-esque Dreamworks film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Some scenes (such as the ending shot) are traced from Spirit.
  • Paradigm Spiral is highly reminiscent of RWBY to the point of bordering on Serial Numbers Filed Off. It was created by a fan of RWBY and it shows. They both have similar animesque All-CGI Cartoon animation (though Paradigm Spiral has much lower quality animation), both feature a Cat-Person in the main cast, and even a palette swap of Yang's gauntlet appears in Paradigm Spiral.
  • Every episode of Courier's Mind: Rise of New Vegas ends with the credit of Inspired by… Freeman's Mind.
  • Ultimate Naruto Fan-Flash led to other similar parodies like Naruto - The Random Flashness.
  • Thanks to the popularity of this Warriors animatic featuring Squirrelflight, numerous other people have done similar animatics set to "It Took Me By Surprise" by Maria Mena.
  • Story Booth is a Web Animation series which adapts recordings of kids and teenagers' Real Life stories into animated shorts. It spawned many channels using similar premises, such as Share My Story, ACTUALLY HAPPENED, and My Story Animated, with varying degrees of quality and success.
  • While not the very first Machinima series, Red vs. Blue cleared the path for dozens, if not hundreds, of followers, especially using Halo 2 as a game engine. Many of them tried to copy Red vs. Blue to the letter and failed miserably while doing it. Or simply weren't very good. Others though, were pretty darn good in their own right.
  • The Newgrounds series Madness Combat has spun off countless imitators, some of which are quite popular and impressive, like Bunnykill and Maximum Ninja.
    • Newgrounds encourages this, they made a "Madness Day" (Sept. 22nd) so fans could make flash games and movies, popular series include Xionic Madness, and the aforementioned Bunnykill and Maximum Ninja.
    • Same to Xiao Xiao which inspired countless stick figure fighting animations and largely Madness Combat itself.
  • After Freeman's Mind became popular, now there are scores of adding-narration-to-gameplay-footage series, almost all of which are called [character]'s mind. Most of them also use the same intro, the same characterisation for the player character, and sometimes even the same jokes. Similarly to the abridged series, very few are worth watching.
  • The popularity of Battle for Dream Island and Inanimate Insanity led to a whole genre of "Object Shows" starring Animate Inanimate Objects often competing in a Reality TV setting.
  • The popularity of Nothing, Forever, an AI-generated sitcom TV series based on the likes of Seinfeld, Doogie Howser, M.D. and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, has caused the creation of dozens of AI-generated imitators including Always Breaktime, which showcases AI-generated slice of life High School anime, and Unlimited Steam, which pretty much showcases AI-generated The Simpsons episodes. These series even have Fandom rivalries going between their Fandom.

    Web Original 
  • The runaway success of The Best Page in the Universe back in the late 90s spawned a whole genre of websites that follow the pattern of, "I run an angry blog where I write offensive things". Many even went as far as to title their pages akin the original with examples like, "The Second Best Page in the Universe", or even, "The Worst Page in the Universe". Most imitators unfortunately ignored the original website's satirical edge and instead just aimed for shock value.
  • In that vein, The Agony Booth re-tailored their site in the early tens to emulate Channel Awesome, supplementing their old text reviews with "prop comic" reviewers and videos. Most of these were received with lukewarm responses at best. Unfortunately the long-form recaps that had been the site's signature and unique appeal were completely abandoned to make room. The majority of the new critics were Spoony Experiment knock-offs who used to advertise on his forum and on YouTube before being picked up. Says something the Booth eventually focused back on text-based content with only the occasional video. A similar website, Reviewtopia, was lambasted for trying to copy the success of TGWTG, and most of those critics were absorbed into the TGWTG mothership within a few months. The "success" of The Blockbuster Buster and Oancitizen came about because of this.
  • Once the Greed blog was created, others soon made Sins blogs in the style of the first, and the Virtues soon followed in the Personifications subfandom.
  • Humor websites are often guilty of imitating's list format. One notable offender is, which just lists photos with captions along a vague theme. And The Onion has spawned a number of satirical news sites, many of which are only nominally satirical, with getting page views by presenting plausible fake news stories being a higher priority than actual humor or satirical value.
  • The popularity of Wikipedia caused a glut of smaller wikis across the Internet, mostly focused on specific topics of interest to the community they are set up in.*cough* Interestingly, the first wiki was not Wikipedia but the Portland Pattern Repository, whose goal was to catalog the patterns used by programmers—really, the programmer version of tropes. To be fair, they encourage and support this; the MediaWiki software is under a Free Software license.
  • Gaia Online, Gaia Online, Gaia Online. It's nigh-impossible to find a forum featuring customizable avatars that doesn't imitate it in some way. At the best, it's simply having a similar feel, at the worst, it's copying forum names, items, and events.
  • The site, The Million Dollar Homepage, has caused people to despair a bit because it's simultaneously an idea that was so damn obvious and will never be possible again. It's inspired hundreds of different sites, and all have fallen short of its glory.
  • When it first began to get popular, Facebook did so by copying things from MySpace. And now that Facebook is the top social networking site, MySpace has been slowly becoming more and more like Facebook.
  • During its latter-day struggles to stay relevant, MySpace tried copying Facebook and Twitter, and forcing updates that nobody wanted, to the point where those who hadn't already left for those sites got fed up and left too.
  • Reddit has been bastardizing memes from 4chan, most infamously, though not limited to, rage comics. It's everything now that 4Chan makes that they steal and proclaim is original, and that they made it up, despite some of them having existed since long before the site's creation. Most infamously is that they love to claim they invented the Trollface, despite it coming from this comic by DeviantArt user Whynne.
  • Steam has a Livestream feature for all the games in its catalog. This may be following the footsteps of other video game livestream websites such as Twitch.
  • Since Snapchat came out in 2011 with their "Stories" note , a few other websites (namely, Facebook and Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter) made their own version, too, in the years since.
  • The site Gimkit has a copycat of Among Us, which is obviously less violent and requires you to answer questions to gain energy to move.
  • The enormous popularity of the SCP Foundation has given rise to several websites inspired by or derived from it, as well as other sites that are unimaginative copies. Although most of them don't last long and fade into inactivity, some consider it to have given rise to its own genre.
  • Te lo Resumo así (I'll summarize it just like that), it's a You Tube channel in spanish dedicated to summarizing and occasionally criticizing/analyzing movies and series in a humorous way, it has been so successful that a large number of imitators have emerged, also in spanish, dedicated to the same thing.

Alternative Title(s): Following The Leader, Genre Launch, Pinball, Tabletop Games, Web Original, Other, From Clones To Genre