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Fountain of Expies

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And there's a million of us just like me
Who cuss like me; who just don't give a fuck like me
Who dress like me; who walk, talk, and act like me
And just might be the next best thing, but not quite me!
Eminem, "The Real Slim Shady"

A character who is so popular and impactful that many other characters created afterwards are heavily inspired by it. They share even more than its Archetypal Characters, they are its expies basically the same old character recycled, with some minor changes, to make it fit into the new setting. The original one gives inspiration not just for their basic Characterization Tropes, but for parts of their relationship dynamics, personality, and appearance.


While too many authors using the same obvious expies could be considered a worrying trend in terms of originality, it isn't an inherently bad thing. As a longer time passes, creators might be more and more likely to make bigger changes to the character, eventually growing it into a whole new Character Archetype trope on its own. In other cases, it's possible that the resulting characters are too different even for that: Talented writers can explore certain aspects of a character with an expy, and other aspects with another expy, in a way, that if you would compare the two expies, they wouldn't even appear that similar to each other. While it's possible that a Fountain of Expies also serves as a Trope Codifier for the character's most fundamental tropes, other times the shared similarities are more vague.


In the following "subtropes" list, only add trope pages whose descriptions are explicitly based on the idea of collecting characters that are based on a first one. There are other tropes that were more indirectly started or codified by certain characters, but these should only be referenced in the second, character-based listing. Expy refers mainly and solely to characters drawn from pre-existing fiction, for characters derived from historical figures, please see No Historical Figures Were Harmed. A subcase of Follow the Leader.

Though Fountain of Expies is not a trope in the traditional sense, it does have Sub Tropes. note  These are:

See also Whole Plot Reference when it is the plot, not the character, that is being referenced.

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Other examples:

    Anime And Manga 

     Comic Books 

     Film — Animated 

     Film — Live Action 


     Live-Action TV 
  • Nasir from Robin of Sherwood introduced the idea of adding a North African or Arab character to the Merry Men in Robin Hood retellings. Several subsequent works, most notably Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the 2010s BBC Robin Hood, have done the same, either out of a conscious desire to ethnically diversify the cast, or due to accidental Lost in Imitation.
  • Ultraman (and his successors) proved to be such a hit back in the day that Japanese television studios were churning dozens of giant heroes in an attempt to cash in on his success, with the most notorious of the bunch being Jet Jaguar from the Godzilla movies. In fact, it's become a subgenre of its own in Toku — the Kyodai Hero.
  • In Kamen Rider, the following characters provided the templates for the following roles:
    • Nigo and Riderman provide the template for the heroic secondary riders, the former acting as the basis for the friendlier ones (i.e., G3-X, Gatack), whereas the latter's influence is seen on The Rival (i.e., Knight, Brave).
    • If you can think of a female rider (i.e., Marika, Femme), odds are that they have a few things in common with Tackle (even though she's not officially recognized as a rider).
    • Lastly, Shadow Moon provides the influence for most evil/morally questionable riders (i.e., Glaive, Kaixa).

  • In Visual Kei there are a lot of artists that get this treatment, but probably the most notorious is hide. The amount of hide clones or one-time hide clones within Visual Kei is enough to fill an entire page, but some of the more well known are Die and Kaoru of Dir en grey (though they currently are not), Jun of Spiv States plus the entire band concept of Spiv States being a thinly veiled copy of hide's solo band, and a 2013 photoshoot for a band called CELL featuring everyone in the band as a hide clone. It's been overdone to the point that anyone in Visual Kei with red or pink hair, especially paired with hide's face or eye makeup, is a clone of him regardless of sound or instrument.
  • George Strait. In The '90s, many young up and coming males in Country Music followed his pattern of being youngish, clean-cut, sharp-dressed good ol' country boys with a bit of a honky-tonk flair to their music. Their copying of Strait's image was dubbed "hat act". Over time, so many "hat acts" flooded Nashville that the phrase quickly became a derogatory term, and most new males in country music ever since have abandoned the Strait archetype (except Strait himself, of course).
  • Though Eminem song "The Real Slim Shady" serves as the current page quote, he himself comes from a long line of white rappers with that particular look (tank top, shorts, backward baseball cap, etc.), a family tree that includes Vanilla Ice.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • George Wagner is not just the Trope Maker and Trope Namer for Gorgeous George but the originator of The Gimmick as it would be used in pro wrestling from the 1930s onward. Besides ambiguously gay wrestlers like "Exotic" Adrian Street (who is himself a fountain of expies), his influence is also transparently shown in Natural Guy Buddy Rogers (another fountain of expies).
  • El Santo, which ironically was a gimmick intended to cash in on the popularity of The Masked Marvel, only the The Marvel gimmick was supposed to be that of a Heel everyone wanted to see unmasked. Santo instead underwent a Heel–Face Turn after reaching a point no one wanted to see him unmasked and after the man died he was buried in it. Some of expies include Mil Mascaras, who in turn inspires his own expies, Black Man, who became Mexico's biggest draw (alongside Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee) after succeeding an LLI feud Santo was a part of, Novia Del Santo(Irma Gonzales), El Zorro Plateado(who spawned his own Legacy), El Santos from the satire series of the same name and Number Five from Angel.
  • Fray Tormenta is the Masked Luchador with the most expies after El Santo, which include Tiger Mask (which would in turn become another fountain of expies), Sagrado, Místico (that one too), El Generico, Tekken's King and Nacho Libre.
  • The French Angel, aka "The World's Ugliest Man", became such a huge draw when he arrived in the Boston territory that a wave of expies rose across North America, including but not limited to Swedish Angel (formerly Phil/Olaf/Popey/Frankenstein/Olaffsen), Russian Angel (formerly Tony Angelo and a former Masked Marvel), Canadian Angel (formerly Bill Rush, who beforehand was in another ersatz role as Red Masked Marvel), Polish Angel (formerly Iron Talun, who in a bit of variation was cute), Czech Angel (formerly Stanley Pinto), Irish Angel (formerly Clive Welsh), Golden Angel (formerly Tiger Jack Moore) and Black Angel (Gil Guerrero). There was also Super Swedish Angel (formerly Tor Johnson) who was a Captain Ersatz of an expy and two distaff counterparts, the Lady Angel gimmick being taken up both by Jean Noble and Yulie Brynner. The animated ogre Shrek also closely resembles the world's ugliest man.
  • Filipino wrestler Rey Urbano started The Gimmick of Asian wrestlers with "ninja cheats", though more imitators were inspired by his expy, The Great Kabuki, who in turn was overshadowed by one his own expies during the territorial era when promoters in the National Wrestling Alliance pushed The Great Muta as his son. Far more wrestlers have imitated Muta's style but the poison fog/colored mists come from Kabuki and the face paint and or mutilation come from Urbano.
  • "Superstar" Billy Graham, whose expies include many other blonde and or bearded "body builder" types in fancy get ups such as Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura and Scott Steiner, who all also took elements of his promos, though adding their own unique tics.

     Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: Kefka. He may well be the inspiration for every Camp, Monster Clown, Nihilist in gaming the world over. Ironic, considering he's frequently considered the FF version of The Joker. He also started the trend of RPG bosses having a vaguely angelic One-Winged Angel form, predating even the Trope Namer up above. Ardyn from Final Fantasy XV is usually considered to be following in Kefka's footsteps, and Kuja from Final Fantasy IX is like a mashup between Kefka and Sephiroth.
    • Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII, while hardly the first white haired Bishōnen villain, did inspire a whole slew of imitators trying to get the same sort of Multiple Demographic Appeal. Just look at the design of Magic: The Gathering's Sorin Markov. (That "control other player" part sounds morbidly familiar...)
      • These characters, derisively called "Sephiroth Clones", are becoming increasingly common, especially in later Final Fantasy games. On any given Final Fantasy XI server, you will find dozens. All of them Elvaan males, all with long silver hair, almost always Samurai.
      • As an amusing point of fact, Sephiroth was himself inspired by Psaro of Dragon Quest IV. In the Nintendo DS remake of the game, Psaro's redesign lifts a few elements from Sephiroth in turn.
    • The success of Final Fantasy VII's Cloud meant every JRPG until about 2002 had to star a moody, arrogant, aloof, charismatic, Anime Haired young man (or woman) with '90s Anti-Hero and Emo Teen elements, an Inferiority Superiority Complex, a Dark and Troubled Past, access to a motorbike, a uniquely designed BFS, and usually some form of amnesia or magical dark side. None of these traits are unusual in protagonists, of course, but it was unusual until then to have a JRPG protag of this kind, since the kind of storytelling usually used in the genre favours more naive and helpful characters than this. The Follow the Leader died out when the Cloud copies got so extreme with the angst, coolness and attitude that it was impossible to enjoy being in their company any more.
    • Various later FF games have used Cloud copies too, usually focusing on a different aspect of Cloud's concept - Squall Leonhart from VIII and Lightning from XIII are variations playing up the coldness, Wol from Mobius plays up the detachment and sarcasm and Ace from Type-O has Cloud's ego and flair.
  • FromSoftware is fond of this while creating in-universe expies of expies; it often occurs to characters with the same voice actor, or having similar appearance and backstories, especially anyone who happens to be named Patches.
  • The slimes from Dragon Quest inspired a wave of copycats until it became a JRPG cliche to have a weak, low level Blob Monster enemy, often with a cute face and Mascot Mook status.
  • Inverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Every class is an expy of one or more characters from the Films, as are their starships. Companion Characters also channel minor characters from the films and Expanded Universe. Excepting minor cases of characters who are Expies of non-Star Wars characters (the Imperial Agent is a dead ringer for James Bond) and of earlier BioWare characters (Kaliyo is Jack).
  • If a video game produced after 2001 has a main character who's head to toe in Powered Armor and has any sort of personality, you can bet that said personality will resemble Metroid protagonist Samus Aran, Master Chief from Halo, or as of late, Doomguy from Doom, as will the abilities and limitations of said Powered Armor.
  • The success of Sonic the Hedgehog kicked off a slew of copycats trying to cash in on his Bad Butt personality, giving rise to the Mascot with Attitude trope. Ironically, many of these characters starred in Platform Games similar to those of his rival, Mario.
    • Speaking of Sonic, after Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog introduced Scratch and Grounder, a pair of bumbling henchbots, it became a custom for Dr. Robotnik/Eggman to possess similar henchmen in the various Sonic media, from Sleet and Dingo in Sonic Underground to Bocoe and Decoe in Sonic X to Orbot and Cubot in the games themselves.
  • City of Heroes had (has?) a problem with this. It's very easy to make an obvious Captain Ersatz with it, and Marvel Comics sued them over it once. When the Twin Blades power set was added to City of Heroes, thousands of clones of the aforementioned Drizzt Do'Urden were the first characters seen using it. Drizzt's popularity as an overused character even extended to video games...
  • When the first expansion for World of Warcraft hit, giving the Horde blond elves, in the first hours there were literally thousands of variations of Legolas, most of them hunters with bows, as well as hundreds of Sephiroths. The game's Orcs, i.e. the Proud Warrior Race shamanistic type, are almost as common as the original Always Chaotic Evil type nowadays.
  • The protagonist of any Yume Nikki fangame is an expy of Madotsuki by default.
  • Several Fire Emblem games feature a pair of Macho Camp bandits, often found in desert areas who serve as a Dual Boss. There are enough recurring character archetypes throughout the series to merit an entire category on the Fire Emblem Wiki.
  • Pokémon
    • Every generation after the first will have an adorable electric rodent resembling Pikachu. The exact species varies (there have been mice and squirrels so far) but all of them have cheeks that conduct electricity. which seems a little redundant given that Pikachu itself is also available in every generation bar the fifth. This trend is spoofed by the introduction of Mimikyu in the seventh generation, a Ghost and Fairy-type who wears a poorly-made Pikachu costume in the hopes that he will become as popular as Pikachu.
    • Every generation after the first also tends to feature an early-route Pokémon resembling a small rodent or other similar creature in the vein of Rattata, A bug-type Pokémon not unlike Weedle or Caterpie, and a bird Pokémon rather similar to Pidgey.
  • Pick a MOBA game. any MOBA game. There is always a knockoff Meat Hook ability. Every single time.
  • We've long since lost count of how many low-budget horror games have tried to be Freddy Fazbear and the gang.
  • Dak'kon, the Githzerai Warrior Poet from Planescape: Torment, permanently altered the perceptions of the Githzerai. Before Dak'kon, the canonical alignment of the Githzerai was mostly Chaotic Neutral, befitting a people who lived in Limbo, a plane directly tied to chaos, with the Lawful Neutral Dak'kon being an explicit and very unusual exception to the rule. However, due to Dak'kon's influence (both in-universe and out-of-universe), level-headed, monastic, Lawful Neutral Warrior Monks became the norm for the Githzerai thereafter.
  • Inverted in Super KO Boxing 2, where nearly all boxers have the gimmicks of Punch-Out!! boxers. Examples include:
    • KO Kid = Little Mac
    • Big Gip/Bigger Gip = Glass Joe
    • El Bulli/El Diablo = Don Flamenco
    • Sake Bomb = Piston Hondo with Bald Bull's knockout recovery
    • King Tub = King Hippo
    • Executioner = Every final opponent in the game.
  • The Shining Series has one inspired by Zylo, the claw-wielding, wolfring warrior king from the original Shining Force. Since his debut, there's been a Wolf Man character in nearly every game in the series that emulates to some degree. Notable examples include:
  • Monster Hunter downplays this trope since it’s limited to the series itself, but since the introduction of Rajang, the series has added more monsters (namely Deviljho, Seregios, and Bazelgeuse) who fill the same niche of powerful, nomadic monsters who show up out of nowhere to ruin your hunt.
  • While Shin Megami Tensei tends to reuse character archetypes from the first two games on occasion, especially in the mainline games, Ozawa from Shin Megami Tensei I starts a pattern of despicable human villains who are largely powerless in the grand scheme of things, but are mainly responsible for the protagonists (typically of the Chaotic variety) going off the deep end. Shin Megami Tensei II is the only following mainline game to lack such a character, though Ozawa himself cameos.

     Western Animation 
  • Back in the early 1930s, every new cartoon character that came along was a Mickey Mouse clone. Ironically, Mickey himself was merely following the formula established the decade before by Felix the Cat, and more than one person has stated that he was merely Disney's previous star Oswald the Lucky Rabbit with round ears and a long tail. Some people theorize that the whole "black skin, white mouth" genre of funny animals started out as an animated version of minstrel shows. Felix's ability to spawn expies even extended past animation. Sonic the Hedgehog looked more or less exactly like Felix in the Genesis era, which kickstarted a bunch of expies in video games, though almost none besides Sonic himself remain.

Alternative Title(s): Iconic Characters