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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 "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny.

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, Like That Show, But with Mecha, and Recycled In Space. 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.


If this trope applies to a single work within an overarching franchise, it's The One with.... See also Mission-Pack Sequel.


    open/close all folders 
    Comic Books 


    Film - Animated 


  • 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.

    Film - 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 (1980) copied the Slasher formula almost wholesale from Halloween (1978), 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 (1984) 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.
  • 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.

    Web Video 
  • 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 (1980).


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