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Formula with a Twist

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"It hasn't an original bone in its body, but it has mashed together several ideas from prior classics in a technically original combination and produced the expected result of a perfectly fine game."

A Strictly Formula work can be dull for an audience that has seen it all done before, but if the formula is a proven moneymaker, why not do it again...but with a unique twist?

For works to qualify for this, the premise, plot and characters have to follow most of the same basic beats, except for some twist that is unique to that work (at least at the time of its release). It has to deliberately invoke enough similarities to an established formula that the intended audience instantly recognizes what it is—the same type of heroes, the same type of villains, and the same general setting and plot progression. (For videogames, it may be all of the above, as well as similar controls, mechanics and gameplay typical of the genre.) Granted, by virtue of whatever unique "gimmick" this work introduces, some of these conventions can be Played With or otherwise lampshaded in relation to said gimmick, but they still exist in some form or another. This trope is also not for cases where the only "changes" are minor things like names, superficial appearances, etc., but instead changes that turn familiar ideas on their heads.

Naturally, whether a work succeeds or fails with this structure is based on its own merits, as some will simply become forgotten derivatives and others may redefine a new formula themselves. If they become overshadowed by its copycats, then it may become a case of Once Original, Now Common.

When organizing works on this page or its sub-pages, if the twist itself has become so formulaic that it's become a new Sub-Genre, then add the Sub-Genre and any works which created a yet another twist to distinguish itself, as explained in the description of said work.

Super Trope to "Die Hard" on an X and Recycled with a Gimmick. Sister Trope to a What If? story. A Cliché Storm is either an extreme version of this trope, or its extreme opposite; either it has so many cliches that it's indistinguishable from others in the genre, or it has so many that it stands out because of that.

See also Mission-Pack Sequel.

Examples Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Comic Books 


    Fan Works 
  • Jerk in Sheep's Clothing takes the typical "Original Character joins Mme Bustier's class following the events of Chameleon and immediately sides with Marinette" plot and twists it by making said OC a Manipulative Bastard who's only trying to lure her into an abusive relationship.
  • Risk It All is far from the first fanfic to be inspired by The Gamer, but it distinguishes itself by having Ren's power progression be tied to notoriety rather than Level Grinding through combat. As a result, he can't just punch people to get stronger and bide his time in secret, forcing him to make his super identity known to improve his powers.

    Films — Animation 


  • Shrek takes the typical fairy-tale kingdom that you would find in a Disney work and instead casts the ogre as the hero. Most other twists in the plot center around that singular idea, although the sequels flesh out many others.

Buddy Cop Genre

  • Zootopia is, at its heart, a fairly formulaic buddy cop movie, where the eager young rookie officer and con artist with a heart of gold work together to uncover a conspiracy. Where it differentiates itself is by playing the World of Funny Animals setting straight, complete with prejudices and discrimination.

    Films — Live-Action 

Action Genre

Buddy Cop Genre

Fantasy Films

Slasher Films

  • Child's Play is based on the premise "What if the killer was a kid's doll?"
  • Friday the 13th copied the Slasher formula almost wholesale from Halloween, except set in a forest camp and keeping the killer's identity a mystery. Later entries in the series helped codify the genre with its undead villain, Jason.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street created the idea of a slasher villain that could invade dreams and kill his victims when they slept. Said villain, Freddy Krueger, also began the trend of the wisecracking, Reality Warping serial killer later seen in films like Wishmaster and Warlock (1989).
  • Scream is a Slasher Movie in which the characters are fully aware of the rules of a Slasher Movie. This started its own trend of post-modern slasher movies.
  • The Terminator takes the basic slasher outline and gives it a Science Fiction bend, with the main villain being a Killer Robot sent from the future to hunt down the protagonist, killing anyone that arouses his suspicion along the way. Later installments would remove the slasher elements in favor of a more actionized take on the premise.
  • White Dog is an unconventional take on the slasher genre in which the killer is a dog that was trained to kill Black people on sight. The film additionally features a second twist in that the core of the film lies in its character drama, with a Black handler's attempts at reconditioning the dog being contrasted with its continued attacks on Black people as an allegory on the nature of racism.


  • The Western was dead by the late '60s. However there were successful revivals since then, but all put either a minor or major twist on the traditional formula.
  • Silverado was a nostalgic Reconstruction of the Genre using a very familiar storyline and formula. However it had an African American man as one of the main protagonists which was Truth in Television and simply did away with Native Americans to avoid all the Unfortunate Implications of the older movies.
  • Young Guns and Young Guns II made a notorious outlaw as the main protagonist and an Ensemble Cast of teen stars as its’ leads in an attempt to make the Western “cool.” The films were critical and financial successes.
  • Dances with Wolves made the Native Americans the good guys and the White settlers the villains in a total inversion of the old formula.
  • Unforgiven is a Deconstruction of the Western and was basically Clint Eastwood retiring his “Man with No Name” films.

  • Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter has a tax bureau employee wake up in the body of the villainess of a game she played at the point where the villainess already lost her fiancé to the heroine. The reincarnation makes the best of the situation, avoiding the villainess's fate of exile to a monastery and instead getting confined to her family's territory. The reincarnator then opts to use her knowledge of modern economics to change how things are run, making her former fiancé look like a fool for abandoning her for a lower-rank noble.
  • Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero is a combination of both the Isekai and Extranormal Institute tropes in which people from the mundane world are so commonly summoned into other worlds that they then return with new powers which don't allow them to fit back into normal society. They are thus mandated to enter a special school for people with their credentials. The protagonist was a hero summoned to such a world but, after killing the Demon King, respected the man's dying wish by taking his daughter back to his world with him, where she can live a new life.
  • I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job asks: what happens to all the other Heroes in the world after a Demon King is defeated? Raul is one of the thousands of Heroes who don't know what to do after the war against the Demon King suddenly comes to an end. He thus starts to work at a department store, where he's later joined by the Demon King's daughter as well as others from his past. However, many Heroes never really coped with losing their purpose in life and have become antagonists seeking to ignite a new war.
  • I'm Quitting Heroing begins with the Hero, Leo Demonheart, having already defeated the Demon Queen Echidna and sent most of her army packing and fleeing back to the Demon World they came from. However, when Leo returns to human society, he finds that much of humanity has deemed him as too powerful and dangerous to exist and tries to kill him. Becoming disillusioned with humans, he goes back to Echidna's castle, where she and her top generals are still smarting from the humiliating defeat he inflicted on them mere weeks ago, and asks to join her army instead, much to her outrage. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Maoyu opens as the hero is about to confront the demon king and end the war between humans and demons. However, the demon king (who turns out to be a woman) convinces him that neither slaying her nor ending the war will actually fix most of the world's problems and that only the two of them, together, can hope to turn things around for the better. Thus, the story actually becomes a socio-political-economic thriller about how the advanced ideas she has envisioned will improve the world. Complicating things is that since the war has been raging for centuries, both the humans and demons have built their entire economies around sustaining the war and thus it takes a lot of effort to transition to a peacetime economy. And powerful factions on both sides want the war to continue forever.

  • Counter Isekai Corps asks what happens to Earth while people are being trapped in or reincarnated into new worlds. Because so many people from Earth are summoned to help other places due to their high heroic potential, there's barely anyone available to protect Earth itself. An organization was formed to help who's left, and since the quickest way to bring someone over is to kill them, they also try to prevent the untimely deaths of mundanes.

    Web Animation 

Object Shows

Object Shows are almost always competition Reality Shows but with Animate Inanimate Objects as the cast ever since Battle for Dream Island and Inanimate Insanity set the standard. As the years went on, new concepts or gimmicks were introduced to distinguish these shows with varying results.

    Web Videos 
  • This video from WhatCulture lists 10 movies that were rip-offs of other movies that didn't work very well, and also mentions a few successful ones such as Friday the 13th.