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:
- Ascended Fan Fic (started as fan fiction, morphed into original fiction)
- Captain Ersatz (applied to character instead of works)
- Cast of Expies (most of the characters in a work are parodies or pastiches of existing ones)
- Derivative Differentiation (when the derivative works/products start becoming less derivative)
- Effective Knockoff (when an obvious knockoff still works as good as the original, if somewhat inferior)
- Fandom-Specific Plot (for fanfic)
- Fountain of Expies (a character is copied in a huge number of following works)
- From Clones to Genre (formerly "Genre Launch": there are so many imitators some of which actually innovate that they develop into a recognizable style of gameplay)
- The Mockbuster (following a hit film and trying to trick people into thinking it's that film)
- The Moral Substitute (for when a work is aiming to be the family-friendly/religious/specific-demographic-pleasing alternative to the original work)
- Not-So-Cheap Imitation (the work ends up being more successful than the original, and maybe also more polished than the original)
- Overused Copycat Character (character is followed so much it becomes a joke)
- "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny (something is copied so much that the original work doesn't seem as original anymore)
- Serial Numbers Filed Off (almost all the elements of a work are imitated, save for anything that could get someone sued)
- Shoddy Knockoff Product (following a hit product and trying to trick people into thinking it's that hit product)
- Sincerest Form of Flattery (the followers flat out admit to following)
- Spiritual Adaptation (a work looks like an unofficial adaptation of a work in a different medium)
- They Copied It, So It Sucks! (hating on something solely for following, regardless of the other merits of the follower)
- Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" (game shows that attempt to copy the success and look of Millionaire)
Compare Dueling Works.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films Animation
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Pro Wrestling
- Video Games
- Web Comics
- Web Videos
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- 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".
- 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).
- Played for Laughs and exaggerated in one FoxTrot storyline. In it, Andy is reading about the popularity of Dilbert and its then-upcoming animated counterpart and ponders what the secret to its success is. Each strip for the first five days involved Andy coming up with a new theory, followed by the strip then shamelessly attempting to rip it off. In the end, Andy decides it must be something unique to Dilbert...at which point the comic begins to shamelessly rip off Calvin and Hobbes.
- Gary Larson's one-panel comic The Far Side spawned quite a few one-panel gag comics with bizarre humor and no recurring characters, such as Close to Home, Real Life Adventures, Bizarro, and The Argyle Sweater. Mother Goose and Grimm sometimes engages in Far Side-style humor as well.
- For the first Garfield compilation, Jim Davis came up with a new long-page book design to accommodate the three-panel strip most legibly. Once the "Garfield format" of books became popular, many other comic strip trade books began using it as well, including FoxTrot and the aforementioned Far Side. (Ironically, Garfield itself no longer does.)
- Interestingly, Marvin seems to have aped a lot of the stylistic traits from early Garfield.
- Incidentally, Garfield himself is this, debuting five years after another orange fat cat, Heathcliff.
- The comic book Grippy is another interesting case, as while it borrows elements from Garfield (fat, lazy cat interacting with animals and a human owner), it's actually the spin-off to Les P'tits Diables, a different gag series Grippy is from.
- Patrick McDonnell's Mutts seems to copy Rugrats and Toy Story (extra points with one example being the time Earl meant Mooch for the first time), except the animals interact with each other when their owner is away and don't freeze like statues when humans are around. Due to this being told by a dog's point of view, it shares almost the same premise, with the exception of the pets communicating through thought bubbles when owners are present.
- Doonesbury was one of the first comic strips to use a One-Two Punchline, now seen in countless comics. It's also the Trope Maker for every strip that even so much as dabbles in political/topical humor.
- And if Doonesbury didn't do it first, chances are the more off-the-wall Bloom County did. Interestingly, Berke Breathed admits that he cribbed Doonesbury a lot in the early years.
- Bloom County itself led to a few imitators, including Hartland, Thatch, and Free for All (later a short-lived series on Showtime). Interestingly, only Hartland came out when Bloom County was still in newspapers (and, in fact, ended within few months of each-other); the other two entered syndication after Bloom ended.
- The execrable strip Shadows, which ran in The Sun in 2012/2013, was an obvious attempt to cash in on the vampire craze reignited by Twilight. It didn't last very long and was soon replaced by the strip it had itself replaced.
- Calvin and Hobbes led to a few strips (both print and even Webcomics) that feature a kid and an animal sidekick (not necessarily imaginary). One of the current, popular examples is Phoebe and Her Unicorn.
- After Peanuts became a hit, more comic strips featuring kids acting like adults started to appear, some of which featured pets not unlike Snoopy. These examples include Small World, Miss Peach, and Winthrop.
- 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 Fun House, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ever 17 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 Detective Club series. This trend went unnoticed in English-speaking countries, because very few of these games were ever localized, though some of them (Déjà Vu 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.
- 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 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 Personification subfandom.
- Humor websites are often guilty of imitating Cracked.com's list format. One notable offender is buzzfeed.com, 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 struggle 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.