Follow TV Tropes


Inexplicably Identical Individuals

Go To
Talk about a family resemblance.

Gordon Frohman: Morning, Barney! Didn't I see you just a second ago?
Security Guard: No, that guy just looks and sounds a lot like me. I'm the real Barney, though.
Second, Identical Security Guard: Like hell you are! I'm the real Barney!

Why bother with Uncanny Family Resemblance, when you can have every member of a family or even complete strangers as the exact same person! Same taste in food, same way they style their hair, same profession, same mannerisms, and they all probably share the same Hive Mind as well. They may even all have the same name. This isn't just a Recurring Character — every town has their own. These are Inexplicably Identical Individuals; there's no reason for them to be perfectly identical— though the series may try to Hand Wave it as them being related— they simply are.

Occasionally, they fall into My Species Doth Protest Too Much, having one who's markedly different. The episode often revolves around them.

Compare and contrast to the game trope of You ALL Look Familiar. Also compare Single-Minded Twins and Only Six Faces. Contrast with the Recurring Extra, where it really is the same character(s) in every town. See also Identical Stranger (where the resemblance is plot important), Clone Army (which is people looking identical because they were created to be that way), and Clone by Conversion (which is when people are modified into replicas of someone else).


    open/close all folders 

  • American Honda Presents DC Comics Supergirl: B. B. Wolf, his kid brother C. C. Wolf and their entire wolf pack (made up for hundreds of wolves) are identical, even if they are not related (which is because Supergirl mistakes C. C. with B. B.). Justified because they are supposed to be The Big Bad Wolf parodies.
  • Adverts for mobile app Mistplay feature a woman telling her identical looking friend that she can save money by downloading the app, which gives you credit for playing games. Both women are played by the same actress, the adverts never show the two at the same time, using different camera angles to disguise the fact.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokemon:
    • Originally named for Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys in the anime. They likely arose as a parody of the trope You ALL Look Familiar or the result of the production staff running out of ideas for other nurse/police officer characters. Some weren't even related, but they all had the exact same personality and appearance. The series did its share of Lampshade Hanging; at one point, one Jenny shows off a picture of her graduating class at the police academy, every single one of which is a Jenny. Regardless of whatever differences there are, Brock loves every last one of both kinds...and is able to tell them apart. For everyone else in the world (and the audience), the Jennys are told apart by having a different insignia on their hat to represent the town they're from. Joys, on the other hand, all have different colored crosses on their hats — Any color except red at the request/demand of The Red Cross.
    • In one episode, Brock explains the subtle differences between the Officer Jennys when a bunch of them turn up to perform an arrest. Said differences included perfumes used, slight differences in skirt length, and slight differences in hair style — in other words, things that would be virtually impossible for audiences to see on a television (and judging by the fact that very few in the show notice them, they're not that easy to spot period). As he puts it:
      Brock: "Jenny from Viridian City wears her skirt shorter than the other Jennys. The Celadon City Jenny uses styling gel in her luxurious hair! Saffron City Jenny wears exotic Vileplume No. 5 Perfume. Then there's the vivacious Vermillion City Jenny..." (Misty carts him off the screen before he can continue)
    • There have been subversions. There was a buff, tanned Joy that desired to stand out from her kin, an oddball Kalos Jenny who would often go outside dressed in "casual attire" (including a different hairstyle) instead of staying at the Pokemon Center, as well as another time with a tough-acting Cowboy Cop Jenny who loves to take out criminal scum by... bowling. Also, while most Jennys use Arcanine as partners, others have different tastes in Pokémon.
    • Succeeding seasons after Diamond and Pearl shows that each new region has their own different Jennys and Joys. Both have different uniforms compared to the other regions, and Jenny's hair is a lot shorter.
    • In one episode of Diamond and Pearl (DP028), two young Nurse Joys were shown, giving them first names and establishing Joy as a family name. Their mother was also a Joy, but their father was a normal man. Another episode (DP059) has a young Jenny who also has a unique name (Marble), implying (though unlike with the young Joys, not outright stating) that Jenny is also a family name.
    • Best Wishes! also introduces the various Don Georges, all of them being the managers of the Battle Clubs who look exactly the same. The way to distinguish them apart is that each Don George has a different sub-color.
    • Each region also has its own Chairman, Fan Club President, and announcer guy.
    • There's also Porter, who like Jenny and Joy, is part of a large identical family; they work on cruise ships in the Decolore Islands.
    • The Magikarp Salesman, a recurring con-artist who tries to sell useless Pokémon to James (and has done so more than once), tries to pass himself off as a family of one of these to assure wary marks, but he's the same guy each time.
    • Outside of rare exceptions, Pokémon look the same as the rest of their species. Many of the distinct ones shown are Pikachu, for obvious reasons. Pikachu's girlfriend in an Alola episode, and her...pack(?), clan(?) of Pikachu take this to a extreme. Many of them have ridiculous anime hair, and one male (with a giant pompadour) is even shiny on top of that, and she herself also has eyelashes and a second stylized blush on her cheek.
  • Pokémon Adventures plays this trope for drama when it's noted that all the Galactic Grunts not only look identical, they all move and act like they have a Hive Mind, hinting that they have no free will of their own. As does Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, where Mitsumi's eyes go from brown to green when she's a part of Galactic. The grunts themselves have quite a bit of personality though. As a matter of fact, almost all the evil team grunts tend to look similar to each other in Pokémon Adventures, however, the Team Plasma grunts have a wide variety of faces and body types.
  • Sister Princess had one person who was a butler/real estate agent/antique salesman/boat captain and anything else that was needed on the island. But they were all different people. At the second to last episode it's revealed that they really ARE all the same person.
  • The protagonist of Elf Princess Rane (who is not the title character) has about twenty older sisters, the product of repeated sets of quads and quints, who all look exactly alike. (Five of them have formed a rock band.)
  • Gundam Wing: Frozen Teardrop shows us the real Heero Yuy as a young man.note  His killer's son is apparently a dead ringer for him. As Frozen Teardrop is a more recent work, it makes sense out-of-universe why this was never brought up. In-universe, images of Yuy at the time of his murder had him looking far different.
  • In Galaxy Angel, the bad guys of the episode are always the same few people, with the same few voice actors (except the one episode that featured the fake Angel-tai, and a few where Chitose snaps). Nobody seems to notice, but with the show's Negative Continuity, it's not a surprise. In fact, it happens with a lot of disposable characters, due to the show's low male population. Compare every man Ranpha drools over, or every kindly shopkeeper...
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne, an entire army of warrior-monks has exactly the same character design. Especially egregious since multiple scenes feature dozens of them on-screen at the same time.
  • The representatives sent by Shirase's various clients in every arc of Battle Programmer Shirase all have the same face, voice, and even name (Kaoru Akizuki), but wear different outfits according to their occupations. They even have the exact same internal conflict when seeing Shirase doing (seemingly) inappropriate things with an underage girl, followed by the same conclusion and catchphrase, "I'll pretend I didn't see anything!"
  • Played with in Lucky Star: Every character that isn't a recurring character has the character design and voice of the same middle-aged woman, with the design only being changed if situation demands it, and even then it's always the same voice. Once, several of the same middle-aged woman were on screen at the same time, and at another time three different girls were on screen speaking with the same voice! (If it isn't the middle-aged woman, it's usually Minoru Shiraishi making a guest appearance on the show.)
  • Pani Poni Dash! does this to any non-important student in the school. All the classrooms are filled with carbon copy clones of a generic boy and girl, or a fat girl named Ito. At the end of the first episode, the new homeroom teacher, Rebecca Miyamoto lampshades and justifies the importance of those other students by taking a roll-call by listing off the names of all the important girls..."And everyone else."
  • Nagasarete Airantou: Suzu looks just like her mother at the same age. This isn't merely a case of genetic relation though; Fujishiro Takeshi pretty much just drew Suzu in the flashback chapters and called her "Suzuran." The only difference is their bust sizes.
  • Kuina and Tashigi of One Piece. They look identical (aside from Tashigi wearing glasses) and fans for the longest time theorized that they were either the same person, or twins (as well as writing many a fanfic, to torment Zoro with this idea). This was officially disproved by Eichiiro Oda himself, who said pretty straight-forwardly that they were not in any way related and just for some reason happened to look alike.
  • There are two girls called Nago in Daily Lives of High School Boys, one being the staff of a pizzeria Tadakuni works part-time and the other being Yanagin's rival. They look suspiciously alike; the latter Nago is essentially a cleaned up version of the former, wear red bandanas, and they go to the same school as well. The problem is their names are written with different kanji—the former is 奈古 while the latter is 名護. While Word of God already declared they are different people, speculation are still abound.
  • Kill la Kill: All the One-Star Goku Uniform wearers are identical carbon copies of each other, either the male model or female. Similarly, every one of Ragyo's managers looks exactly alike. At first, it just seems to be an artistic (and humorous) choice to indicate "large amount of generic antagonists". However, the "inexplicable" part is eventually subverted as it's shown they stylistically and sometimes literally mold individuals into those forms as part of a progression of "mindless sheep". Only those with enough physical strength AND individuality to surpass that conformity rise to Two or Three-Star ranks.
  • Subverted in A Certain Magical Index and its sister anime. Misaka Mikoto has 20,000 "sisters" that look exactly like her, and all 20,000 share a Hive Mind to boot. Turns out, this is perfectly explicable. They're all clones from an abandoned military project, and the hive mind is created by a network of electromagnetic waves between the genetically identical individuals with their electric abilities.
  • In Rolling Girls, all the girls working at the various checkpoints for different prefectures have the same hair, same face, and same Kansai accent, although each one wears a different color hair ribbon.
  • In Last Period, all of the town mayors who give the Periods their quests look identical, being differentiated only by slight differences in hair color and using different puns in their speech.
  • The Insect Department from Heaven's Design Team comprises a group of bespectacled young men who has the exact same face and the same attraction to Ueda the angel.
  • In My Hero Academia, Dr. Tsubasa, who diagnosed Izuku as Quirkless, looks remarkably similar to "Daruma Ujiko," the personal doctor for All For One and villainous Mad Scientist in his own right, being heavyset old men with round glasses and mustaches, and the two share a voice actor in the anime. In addition Dr. Tsubasa had a grandson who is heavily hinted to have been one of the Hosu City Nomu further adding to the comparison — creating and refining Nomu is Daruma's specialty. This has led to some theories that they're one and the same, and the conclusion that Izuku wasn't born Quirkless; his Quirk had been stolen from him by All For One.
  • In New Game!, several extras have a very similar design- that of a young woman with short dark hair in a bowl cut and eyeglasses. These include the younger female nurse at the company checkup, the photographer who takes Ko's picture, the police officer who finds Aoba with a drunken Ko and Rin, and the waitress at the ramen shop.
  • Jewelpet Twinkle☆: The five headmasters judging the Jewelstar Grand Prix events alongside Moldavite are all palette-swapped Moldavites with different prominent emotions (one is always angry and one is always embarrassed, for example).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Anasui from Part 6 bears an extreme resemblance to Diavolo from Part 5 with his toned physique, long pink hair, and penchant for wearing a mesh shirt. To highlight this similarity, the chapter in which we're properly introduced to him is titled "His Name Is Anasui", mirroring the "His Name Is Diavolo" chapters of Part 5. Despite this, there aren't any actual connections between these two characters.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 52, Mr. Slowy describes the story of a group of lazy goats who become hard workers after eating porridge. In his story, the lazy goats all look identical to Paddi before eating the porridge and all look identical to Mr. Slowy afterwards. Paddi lampshades this and asks why all of the goats from Mr. Slowy's story look so like him. Later in the episode, Wolffy describes a similar story about porridge, except the wolves all look like Darker before eating the porridge and look like Wolffy afterwards.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Golden Age, Aquaman was a nameless human mutant who grew up in an undersea lab. The far more famous Arthur Curry/Orin/King of Atlantis version of the character first appeared in the Silver Age and continued through to today. However, in 2022 DC retconned a bunch of World War II-era characters into continuity, including the original Aquaman. As such, it is now canon that in The '40s there was an undersea hero who looked almost identical to the current day Aquaman, had the same powers and was also called Aquaman; yet seems to have had no connection to him whatsoever.
  • The Space Phantom was once thought to be the sole survivor of an alien race who served the time-traveling villain Immortus, an occasional enemy of The Avengers. As it turned out, there were actually many surviving members of this race, who all looked alike, who all worked for Immortus. Tough it's subverted when Avengers Forever explained that anybody who spends too much time in the Dimension of Limbo would find themselves mentally and physically changed into one.
  • In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) comic books, Cobra's elite troopers - the Crimson Guard - all underwent extensive plastic surgery to look like one of a handful of "original models." This allowed Cobra to infiltrate society by having its troopers take positions of importance in the local community; if one was killed, he could be replaced by a duplicate. It was justified with the years-later reveal that Cobra Commander is the "original model". The real reason for the "Fred" series of Crimson Guard was so that the paranoid Cobra Commander would have an impenetrable disguise if he needed to escape from his treacherous lieutenants.
  • Green Lantern: In their original appearance (and thus prior to at least two RetCons), the Zamarons, a race of Amazon-like space warriors (later revealed as female counterparts of the Guardians of the Universe of Green Lantern Corps fame) always chose their queens from humanoid females who met an ideal physical model, and thus always looked alike. They would take a prospective candidate from her home planet, explain that she was going to be their new Queen, and then give her super-powers by playing some kind of alien musical instrument at her and presenting her with the gem that gave her a name — the Star Sapphire. Naturally, Earth had a candidate for the role — Green Lantern's then would-be girlfriend, Carol Ferris.
  • In Carla Speed McNeil's "aboriginal Sci-Fi" series Finder, one of the main cities in the series is run by several different "clans." Most of these clans, in addition to a common name, share common features. The Llavrics are all women (yes, even the men are women. They are physically formed to be able to "tuck it in" with ease), and not just any women, the same slim, blonde woman. They all tend to be a bit on the artistic, dramatic side. The Mediwar clan has distinct male and female versions that are identical within their gender. They run military, police, and medical branches of the government, which leads to the fantastic insult - "copface." (Try that one on Officer Jenny!) These clans are most emphatically not made up of clones and not everyone born to clan parents is automatically given full clan status. There is a yearly examination which could be similar to defending a thesis - or winning a beauty pageant. It all depends on your clan. Clan members can and do intermarry and procreate (they're all human, after all); genetics determine if the offspring resemble one parent over the other.
  • Thompson and Thomson from Tintin look completely identical save for the shape of their moustaches. However, it is explicitly stated that they are not twins, or even biologically related, despite usually behaving like a pair of Single-Minded Twins.
  • In The Muppet Show Comic Book: On The Road, the Muppets, on tour following the destruction of the theatre, keep encountering familiar-looking elderly hecklers. Two farmers (one of whom is apparently Waldorf's cousin); Mitch Wacky's gagwriters Stadler and Waltorf; the entire population of Little Statwald...
  • In every The Pink Panther comic book story, no matter what the setting, the panther runs into a short, moustached, big-nosed man who looks exactly like the short, moustached, big-nosed man from the previous story. He keeps running into these guys in the animated shorts as well, but not as consistently.
  • W.I.T.C.H.:
    • Irma and her mother Anna look like the same person at different ages, so it comes as a genuine surprise when, during a fight, Irma throws in Anna's face the fact she's her stepmother. Averted in the cartoon adaptation, where they're biologically related (or at least it's not mentioned).
    • Also, Will's mother Susan looks identical to Nerissa in her youth.
  • Wolverine: Origins introduced Wolverine's likely half-brother Dog Logan, who as an adult looks almost identical to Sabretooth, right down to Creed's clawlike fingernails, fanglike teeth and general animalistic features despite being a human and not a mutant. He has been confirmed to definitely not be Sabretooth, but being a distant ancestor of the Creeds is not out of the question.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: During Robert Kanigher's run he early on introduced the idea that everyone on earth has someone identical running around, then, even though Di had already run into and purchased the identity of an identical woman, had Diana and Steve run into about twenty each over the course of his writing, each time acting like it was a shocking novelty.

    Comic Strips 
  • Every saleswoman, customer-service representative, and waitress in the comic strip Cathy has the same appearance and name (Mabel). We're supposed to understand that these aren't really the same person, but whenever Cathy is acting like a difficult customer, we always see "Mabel" in the role of being put on the spot and having to deal with Cathy.
  • Scott Adams hangs a lampshade on this in Dilbert with Ted, the generic guy (his real name). People who have known him for years can't describe him. According to Adams, Ted is just the name that he uses whenever he can't think up a better one and it's not important enough to matter. He is often mentioned as being fired or quitting, so it appears there are multiple instances of him. In the early days of the strip where things were more fantastical, we saw him die dozens of times.
    • Early on in the series there were multiple characters identical to Wally, and at one point the company's biggest customer was a man called Willy, who looked exactly like Wally. They were apparently both members of a club for people who all inexplicably look like Wally. The Pointy-Haired Boss once admitted that he fired people he mistook for Wally on at least five separate occasions, implying that many people who look exactly like Wally work for the company.
  • One of Bill Mauldin's wartime cartoons has two U.S. soldiers walking through a French town, and one remarks, "This is th' town my pappy told me about." Every civilian in sight (six of them, including a woman), looks just like him.
  • In Spy vs. Spy, the two spies are identical except that one is white and one is black.

    Fan Works 
  • In Essence, it's explained that the Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny families both have genetic disorders that result in women resembling one another. Conspiracy theorists, however, believe that the Pokémon League clones them.
  • In the Tok'ra Apocalypse series, the fact that Rob ("99 Problems"), Samuel Campbell and Josie Mills (Supernatural) look exactly like Daniel Jackson, Steven Caldwell and T.J. Johannsen (Stargate-verse) is just treated as a strange coincidence, as is Todd's vague resemblance to Alastair's last host (basically an Actor Allusion as the relevant characters were played by the same actor).
    • Of the other shared actors to appear in both series, Naomi and Magnus Cuthbert don't appear to be compared to Samantha Carter and Evan Lorne and James Fogarty of the Men of Letters is revealed to be Janus after he Descended.
  • In the Twice Upon an Age series, it's mentioned that the Blades of Hessarian include a pair of identical twins. This is a nod to the fact that in Dragon Age: Inquisition, there are two men in the Blades' camp who look exactly alike and stand close to one another.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Sheriff in Quentin Tarantino movies might be part of a group of Inexplicably Identical Individuals, since he seems to be Sheriff over a fantastic number of jurisdictions, as well as dying in his first appearance in From Dusk Till Dawn. According to the IMDB pages for Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, and both sections of Grindhouse, they really are all the same character. Then again, we're not sure what the timeline is for all these movies.
  • The 1960s movie Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines features one of the characters, a Frenchman named Pierre Dubois, consistently trying to greet a girl he has met before, only to realize that it is a completely different girl. The girls, Bridgitte, Ingrid, Marlene, Yvette and Betty are all the same actress, each with a stereotypical accent from a different European nation.
  • In the 2002 film Big Trouble, Andy Richter plays a mall security guard who claims to have a relative who works in airport security. Sure enough, Richter later shows up in an airport (this time with a mustache), working security. That one is straight out of the book the movie was based on; Andy Richter was a perfect touch though...
  • In The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala's handmaidens all look identical. This, of course, is intentional, and part of the "decoy trick", where one of them, Sabé, posed as the Queen while the Queen dressed as one of the handmaidens in her identity as Padmé. (They have similar names too, at least in public; in addition to Sabé, the others were named Eirtaé, Rabé, Saché, Yané, Fé, and Dané); Padmé's name mentioned often make members of the royal court assume that the Queen has eight handmaidens. This Trope is lampshaded in the Star Wars: Clone Wars comic book In Triplicate with this exchange:
    Anakin: In fact, I'm pretty sure it's... Amidala's decoys Sabé and Eritaé.
    Eirtaé: Actually, I'm Eritaé!
    Sabé: And I'm Sabé!
  • In the course of the Spider-Man Trilogy, Peter Parker has encountered a wrestling emcee, a snooty usher, and a French waiter who all look exactly like Bruce Campbell.
  • There are Stan Lee cameos in almost every Marvel movie up through Avengers: Endgame; with a few possible exceptions, each is a different character.
    • It's conceivable that the Stans in the Spider-Man Trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man Series are all the same guy, but the Stan in X-Men: The Last Stand is in a flashback and would have to be twenty years older than the Stan in the first X-Men.
    • In Fantastic Four (2005), Stan plays mailman Willy Lumpkin, but in its sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer he identifies himself by name as Stan Lee.
    • Taken to a head in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as they all take place in the same continuity); the below are just a few examples:
      • In Iron Man he's mistaken for Hugh Hefner (his back is turned); he either is THE Hugh Hefner, or possibly just some other guy named "Hef" who likes the ladies. In Iron Man 2, he's either mistaken for or is Larry King.
      • Captain America: The First Avenger shows him to be alive and look exactly the same age in the 1940s. Possibly a case of Identical Grandson?
      • While Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is technically set in the same time period as most of the other MCU films, it takes place in a different galaxy than Earth's, yet Stan Lee still makes an appearance. He's even listed in the credits as a Xandarian instead of a human.
      • Captain Marvel. He plays himself in this cameo: he's reading a script for Mallrats and rehearsing his cameo in that film.
      • A leading fan theory is that Stan Lee is playing the same character in all of these appearances; Uatu the Watcher. His cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 confirms that, although he may not be Uatu (who went on to appear in the animated show What If…? (2021)), he is at least a Watcher informant. He is shown boring the Watchers with a story of his time as a FedEx delivery man in Captain America: Civil War.
  • In Joe Versus the Volcano, Meg Ryan plays three different characters. Two of them are sisters, but the third is someone completely unrelated.
  • In Night at the Museum 2 Amy Adams plays Amelia Earhart and a woman who visits the museum at the end. Larry attempts to invoke Identical Grandson by asking if she was related to Earhart, but Adams responds "No, I think I just have one of those faces, you know?".
  • The entire plot of Enemy revolves around a college professor who, while watching a random movie, discovers there's an actor out there who looks absolutely identical to himself. His subsequent obsession with finding out how that is possible results in copious amounts of Mind Screw and scary imagery, but ultimately remains unresolved.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp version), all of the Oompah Loompahs are identical because they're all played by Deep Roy.
  • In the Brazilian movie Muita Calma Nessa Hora 2, all the security guards working in a music festival are played by comedian Hélio de la Peña. Including a woman.

  • Discworld:
    • The CMOT Dibblers (known by fans as Dibblegangers), who due to the "laws of narrative" have a slightly different version as part of every culture on the Disc, complete with appropriate name and catchphrase (Fair Go Dibbler, May-I-Never-Achieve-Enlightenment Dhiblang, Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala...). Various characters who know the original wonder what would happen if two of them were put in each other's presence (a small explosion is a likely guess).
    • More mildly, the Igors are not identical, but are difficult to tell apart, and seem to have no trouble talking about each other, despite having the same name. Unusually for this trope, it is later justified in-world with the observation, in later books, that the Igors are an extended family who view their "pioneering" self-modification as a family tradition, even suggesting that some modifications are intentionally uniform, and act as "clan markings". They also can remove all their scars from those modifications, but keep them for identification purposes.
    • The Dibbler phenomenon has been extended. Jingo, The Fifth Elephant and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents all feature guards in different Discworld towns who resemble the inept backbone of the Ankh-Morpork Watch, Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs. Amusingly, Terry Pratchett said that at nearly every book signing, a police officer would come up to him and say he knew a Colon and a Nobby at work. Once, it was clearly a Nobby telling him this.
  • Literary example: Mr. Presto in Alfred Bester's 1956 novel The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger! Tiger!), who is very creepy in that these used to be individual people until they were surgically altered and reconditioned to be identical in every way. Indeed it is actually something of a deconstruction of the concept.
    After six months of surgery and psycho-conditioning, he was identical to the 469 other Mr Prestos and to the idealized portrait of Mr Presto which hung behind Presteign's dais ...a kindly, honest man resembling Abraham Lincoln, a man who instantly inspired affection and trust. Around the world purchasers entered an identical Presteign store and were greeted by an identical manager, Mr Presto.
  • The opening to the superhero anthology Temps, devised by Neil Gaiman and Alex Stewart, has "at this point we found ourselves with two hundred identical female babies." All became "equally inept" secretaries at the Department of Paranormal Resources. Consequently, "whichever branch they went to, there she was."
  • The Belgariad series by David Eddings features a queen named Salmissra. For thousands of years, her country has been ruled by a Salmissra, all looking and acting as identical as humanly possible. Whenever the current one is getting a little long in the tooth, twenty little girls are rounded up from across the country, all chosen by comparing them to a picture of the original Salmissra. They spend the next ten years being trained in the correct mannerisms and habits, and the one who is deemed the most like the original Salmissra is elevated to the throne. The other nineteen are killed. For what it's worth, the country is inhabited entirely by inveterate drug users, and the rest of the world find the Salmissra fixation just as creepy as the readers do.
  • In the science fiction novel Counting Heads by David Marusek many standardized jobs are done by clone lines including a line of nurses known as jennys.
  • Played with to deliberate comic effect in one issue of Perry Rhodan, in which the 'king' of a cosmic scrapyard employs a large staff of suspiciously similar-looking individuals with suitably imposing titles...all of which are actually just himself in paper thin disguises. Visitors are advised to play along with his act, of course.
  • Also tinkered with in the novel Bones Of The Earth, which features what is apparently a race of identical beings from the future, but who turn out to be multiple versions of the same one android which traveled back to the same point in time an immense number of times.
  • The Thursday Next series of books by Jasper Fforde has an army of Mrs. Danvers, created when hundreds of "generics" (BookWorld inhabitants who haven't yet developed into characters) imprinted on her. The same thing previously happened with T.H. White's Merlin, which is why there are so many eccentric wizard mentors in the BookWorld.
    • An arguable example might be Felix-8, the last of a series of people the fiendish Archeon Hades has transformed into an exact duplicate of his deceased favorite henchman, Felix Tabularasa.
  • An interesting variation is used in the Of Man and Manta trilogy by Piers Anthony; and is justified in-universe. The trope is deliberately invoked with a type of law-enforcement investigator known as an "Agent", of which there are multiple "series". Agents are surgically modified as well as mind-wiped and reprogrammed, so that all agents of a series are indistinguishable from each other (it's never stated how many agents are in a series). This is describe in-universe as a way to automatically compensate for differences in observer bias, thus easily eliminating those differences as a variable when evaluating their reports. Agents who are in the field long enough to develop individual personalities are considered unreliable, and are mind-wiped and reprogrammed as soon as possible.
    • Not only to make them functionally identical; but any special skills or abilities learned by an Agent in the field are included in the programming for the next series.
  • Somewhat inverted in the series Replica about a set of thirteen perfect female clones who all look alike and are perfect at everything they try to do (their speed rivals Olympic athletes, they are inhumanly intelligent and strong and fast etc etc). Though all of the Amys have the same name, when the scientists send them out into the world for adoption, some are renamed (Number Nine becomes Annie, Number Ten becomes Aimee, and Number Thirteen becomes Aly) and all develop separate personalities.
  • The Ursula K. Le Guin short story Nine Lives involves a "family" of ten clones, both male and female, all of whom were made from a particular genius and who are all accordingly also geniuses, highly trained in a variety of fields. The other two non-clone characters are fascinated by them and by the fact that none of them can ever be truly alone. They're all very close.
  • The plot of The Prince and the Pauper revolves around this.
  • Mirror Dance: When Miles Vorkosigan first wakes up after being dead, he's very confused to encounter the same woman (Doctor Durona) at, apparently, three different ages. His worry that he's somehow skipping years at a time is exacerbated when he then meets the younger versions of her again. Turns out they're all clones of the original Doctor Durona, Lily Durona.
  • John Varley's The Barbie Murders features a colony of (very nearly) identical people, all of whom started as normal people but had plastic surgery to make themselves meet the standards. It's somewhere between a commune and a cult that de-emphasizes individuality to the point that "barbies" have a difficult time saying "I" instead of "we"; when the detective investigating a murder forces the issue, they tend to use circumlocutions like "No, this one did not witness the incident with these eyes."
  • The... clones in Galaxy of Fear: Clones. Initially the protagonists aren't aware that the Lost Colony of spacy, absentminded Rebels they found is entirely made of clones, and when they see two Sullustans that look and act alike and have almost the same name, they have a spirited discussion about whether it's a case of Ditto Aliens or twins or what. It's really a collective.
  • T2 Trilogy: The T-800s (identified in the book as T-101s, all looking like The Terminator); as Serena realises all too late, this makes them more remarkable amongst humans, making it much harder to deploy multiple ones at a time and go unnoticed. She attempts to get around it by artificially styling and coloring their hair to make them look at least a little different on a cursory inspection. This also comes into play with the basis for their appearance, Sector agent Dieter von Rossbach; his associates in the Sector start thinking something hinky is up when he's shown to be first trying to kill Sarah Connor (and murdering seventeen police officers in the process) then helping her, when both times Dieter himself was confirmed to be nowhere in the vicinity.
  • InCryptid: All Johrlac look remarkably similar when they're not using their psychic powers to make people think that they recognize them (the only differences being in age, sex, and aesthetic changes like haircuts). This is explained as a byproduct of their being psychic - since they don't recognize prey or each other by visual cues, they never had a reason to develop visual cues to distinguish themselves from each other.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Patty Duke Show: Perhaps the prime example from a TV standpoint, this 1960s sitcom featured, as the theme song reminded us, "identical cousins" Patty Lane and Cathy Lane. They looked alike — both were played by Patty Duke — but had different personalities and hairstyles.
  • The Brady Bunch: The Season 5 episode "Two Peters in a Pod," which featured Christopher Knight in a dual role, both as good ol' loveable Pete and the identical stranger he meets at school, Arthur Owens. Peter has lots of fun fooling his family (and it is implied that Arthur was able to pull one over on his family too), and it works to Peter's advantage when he is able to keep his date and a commitment to entertain Mike's boss' daughter.
  • Bonanza: The final episodes of Seasons 12 and 13 featured Lorne Greene in a dual role, both as good ol' loveable Ben Cartwright and as a con man named Bradley Meredith. Meredith would find out that Ben was out of the area on business and took advantage of his exact resemblance to Ben to fool others into thinking he was selling the Ponderosa ... only for Ben to come riding in at the last minute to foil his twin.
  • Gunsmoke: The 1972 episode "Alias Festus Hagen" saw Ken Curtis play a dual role: good ol' (you guessed it) loveable Festus Hagen and then a notorious, ruthless, bloodthirsty, cold-blooded killer named Frank Eaton. A U.S. marshal is convinced Festus is the guilty party, but Matt — knowing his friend is innocent — resolves to find out the truth. In the end, of course, Festus is cleared and Eaton is fatally shot in a gunfight.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard:
    • Several episodes saw Boss Hogg try to pull this scheme, by having two of his associates dress up as Bo and Luke Duke and rob Hazzard Bank, making sure said robbery occurs during the busiest hour of the day.
    • Rosco — who enthusiastically participated in Boss' schemes to have dopplegangers play their foils — was once on the wrong end of a notorious bank robber named Woody Largo, who looked exactly like the dim-witted Hazzard County Sheriff. Woody (James Best in a dual role) is so convincing with his looks that everyone believes he is Rosco.
  • The 1997 made-for-TV movie Cloned, about a couple whose 8-year-old son, Adam, dies in a boating accident in the year 2008. The mother, Skye Weston (Elizabeth Perkins), was artificially inseminated and it seemed like the doctor that helped her was noble in his work. After all, his work in genetics is so well-received he is nominated for a Nobel Prize in science. However, to Skye's horror and her husband Rick's outrage, Adam had been cloned by the lab without their permission ... said discovery coming after a chance meeting with a young boy who exactly resembles their late son. They soon realize there are several — and possibly many more — young boys exactly resembling the deceased Adam. Rick and Skye demand answers and eventually learn the geneticist's work was a cover for illegal cloning experiments ... and they eventually expose him.
  • Babylon 5 gives us 10 identical brothers named Zathras, all with the same speech pattern, philosophical attitude, fur outfit, and accent, all played by one actor (Tim Choate). "No, that was not Zathras, that was Zathras. There are 10 of us, all of family Zathras, each one named Zathras. Slight differences in how you pronounce. Zathraas, Zathras, Zathras...You are seeing now?"
  • Tom Poston played three completely unhelpful clerks on Home Improvement. They were brothers (and each claims to be the nice one).
  • On Sliders, no matter how many centuries of Alternate History divided one Earth from the next, any roles for a cab driver, desk clerk, or bartender tended to be filled by counterparts of the same three men.
    • Bizarrely, the desk clerk was Other Darrined for the final two seasons, acquiring a very different accent, weight, and personality, with only his job and the name "Gomez Calhoun" linking him to the original version of the character. Considering that those seasons used a different hotel in a different city, it would have made far more sense just to name him something else.
  • In the British anti-sitcom The Young Ones, Alexei Sayle plays the boys' landlord, Jerzei Balowski. He also plays every one of Jerzei's "brothers" and "cousins", all of whom posses varying degrees of sanity, and are prone to launching into sudden, entirely non sequitur stand-up routines. Strangely, the boys seem to be able to differentiate between the different Balowskis, even asking, "Who are you?" to ones they haven't met yet, and insisting that one of the more insane ones leave immediately (he doesn't).
  • The infamous Monty Python's Flying Circus pet shop sketch does this not only with the pet shop owners (the same save an obviously fake moustache), but the shops themselves, which are called Similar Pet Shops ltd.
  • The Peter Serafinowicz Show had a Big Brother parody (to the point of using the same graphics from that year's show and even the theme tune) called Mike House. All eight housemates were the same person.
  • In The Prisoner (1967), Number 6 quickly finds out all the maintenance guys look exactly the same.
  • Like the Big Trouble example above, Andy Richter played five identical quintuplets, one of whom is himself, in Arrested Development.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena had three lookalikes who switched places with her in various episodes (Diana, Meg, Leah), plus two other characters Lucy Lawless had previously played in Hercules (Lysia, Lyla), plus two 20th/21st-century reincarnations (Melinda, Annie), plus a modern clone, plus a Mirror Universe twin.
    • Xena isn't the only one though. Ares has a doppelganger in the form of King Iphicles, half-brother of Hercules, and Karl Urban plays both Cupid and Julius Caesar.
  • Doctor Who:
    • There are a few occasions when regulars played two parts in the same story and the similarity was commented upon: The First Doctor and the Abbot of Amboise, the Second Doctor and Mexican would-be dictator Salamander, Nyssa and 1920s aristocrat Ann Talbot. No explanation is given for any of them, they just do.
    • In "The Trial of a Time Lord", all the clerical staff at J.J. Chambers & Co. are identical and turn out to be one man, the villain, in disguise and using Sufficiently Advanced Technology to achieve Offscreen Teleportation.
    • Clara Oswald: the plot arc of Season 7 is all about how this woman can appear in three different time periods with nearly identical names, backgrounds, and interests, along with the same appearance and personality. As it turns out, there have been a lot more than just three incarnations of her. At the end of Season 7, she enters the Doctor's timeline to save him from the Great Intelligence and ends up getting scattered across all of time and space.
    • One short Expanded Universe story heavily implies that the Elizabethian playwright Ben Jonson is one of these for the Fourth Doctor, playing off a portrait with a spooky resemblance.
    • Played for drama with the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), who spends much of his early days trying to figure out how he ended up with that specific face. It turns out he subconsciously chose it in honor of a human the Tenth Doctor saved, also played by Peter Capaldi.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, each main character has a doppelganger (played by the same actor, of course).
  • Diplomatic Immunity, whose main characters run the consulate of the fictional nation of Fe'ausi, introduces a second fictional nation the whose consulate is run by...the same actors as the main characters, with wigs.
  • Especially weird example: There are two different hosts of Cash Cab, one for the original and one for Cash Cab: Chicago. The female Chicago host looks just like the original male host, but with long hair. She even has the same mannerisms and speech patterns, for the most part. Note that they are not related, and this is almost certainly coincidence.
  • Kenji Ohba has played two separate characters in Super Sentai History, Battle Kenya in Battle Fever J, and Denzi Blue in Denshi Sentai Denziman and has reprised both roles during Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Denzi Blue in the 199 Heroes movie and Battle Kenya during the Christmas-themed episode 44.

    He also reprised his lead role from Space Sheriff Gavan in its Crossover movie with Gokaiger and both his Sentai roles put in an appearance as well. At the end, Retsu, Daigoro, and Shiro all transform together (at the very end, though. Sadly, they don't get to go into action as a trio.) And like with the Jennies in Pokémon, there's someone who can tell them apart. The fanboyish Gai has no trouble. (Admittedly, they way they dress makes it perfectly easy for the viewer, too.)
  • Top Gear (UK) has The Stig, who has a bunch of cousins ranging from German (basically the same but with the ends of a mullet sticking out from under his helmet), to teenage (visible undies and always listening to headphones), to hippie (all green and wearing sandals), and it's implied that they raise Stigs on farms. All of them wear the helmet and don't speak, of course.
  • The beginning of the third season of Under the Dome could be seen as this trope played straight and Lampshade Hanging for You ALL Look Familiar. Ben finds out various background characters (gardener, mailman, etc) are all the exact same dude, just with different hair and outfit. He's aware that this is a sign he's probably living in a simulated world.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "A Night at the Oprah" the family encounter Alexis who is Trevor's ex girlfriend. She and Hilary are of one mind. When they meet briefly the both have the exact same hairstyle, they both wear expensive clothes, a hat, and a dislike for each other. When they come face to face, they both look each other up and down distastefully. As they do this they both do identical body movements and then simultaneously judge each other by turning to the person behind them, turning back, and the giving a fake laugh and walking away. Neither of them noticed the similarities between them.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Patton Oswalt plays a series of characters like this, at least three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who look the same, talk the same, and fill the same roles in the organization, all the way down to their level of security clearance. The Koenigs mostly claim to be brothers, but the other agents think something strange is going on. The Koenigs like trolling the other agents, from naming an improbably high number of brothers to using robot terminology to describe each other. In season four, it is revealed that they were a part of the original (failed) Life Model Decoy project. As technicians, not products. The Koenigs are simply a set of mundane identical quadruplets, plus an older sister.
  • Each season of American Horror Story is a stand-alone story which take place within an over-arching continuity. Characters began crossing over in early seasons, even if the actor portraying them was also appearing in the season as another character. This culminates in Apocalypse which sees actors playing three or even four different characters and characters interacting with characters who look like others they know and interact with. No one comments on the resemblance of anyone to anyone else.
  • When production of Power Rangers moved to New Zealand, where it had a relatively small pool of actors to draw from, this started cropping up a lot as actors would be brought back to play multiple characters across different series.
  • Few of the returning actors in the anniversary season Kamen Rider Zi-O have played more than one role in the franchise or are similar as someone on the current cast. Notably, the nearly familial resemblance between Gaku Oshida / Geiz and Satoshi Matsuda / Ren both in terms of looks and the characters they play was a Running Gag in the fandom before it was actually refferenced in the spin-off Rider-Time: Ryuki.
  • Cougar Town used a lot of actors who had appeared in creator Bill Lawrence's last show Scrubs, including Courteney Cox who briefly played Dr Maddox. The two shows were established as being in the same universe when Ted and his band the "Worthless Peons" appear in an episode. Lampshaded in The Stinger where Ted freaks out about how many people in Gulfhaven look exactly like people from Sacred Heart, including cameos from Zach Braff playing a pizza delivery guy and Robert Maschio (aka The Todd) as a pool boy.
    Pool Boy: You all right five? (high five, snaps fingers) From the big dog.
  • In one Ugly Betty bonus "Mode After Hours" webisode, Marc and Amanda call the MODE UK offices, where they talk to Clark and Samantha (Michael Urie and Becki Newton in different clothes and with British Teeth) who have identical personalities. When they send each other photos, both pairs recoil in horror at their "hideous" counterparts.

  • In the Cool Kids Table game Here We Gooooo!, all Bubs look alike, which confuses Dario for a bit. One of the Bubs even points out that it's similar to the Toads in the Mushroom Kingdom.

  • The various members of the Hardthrasher, Sternbeater, Whackwallop and Grimpunch extended family in Bleak Expectations, all voiced by Geoffrey Whitehead. (Each episode features a different brother; each season a different set of brothers who are cousins of the last lot.)
  • The original I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again serial, "The Curse of the Flying Wombat" featured Tim Brooke-Taylor as Lady Constance, and later as Lady Constance's sister Hurricane Flossie. Later serials, despite the best effort not to have Tim playing half the characters, seemed to keep churning up Lady Constance clones.
  • This was Frank Nelson's role throughout his career, and one he served with extra ham. Frequently Homaged, especially in The Simpsons. A typical routine might go:
    'Jack Benny': Oh, Sir, Sir.
    'Frank Nelson': Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssss?
    'Jack Benny': You work at this airport too!?
    'Frank Nelson': No, I'm just a DC-4 with a mustache.
    'Jack Benny': Oh, never mind, I just want to know: Do these planes go to New York?
    'Frank Nelson': Oooooooooh, Do They!
    • Later lampshaded in an episode of the TV show in which Jack worriedly relates to a psychiatrist (with flashbacks) how he keeps seeing this same guy, no matter where he goes.

  • The actor playing Cinderella's prince in Into the Woods also traditionally plays the wolf.
  • In the show Next to Normal, Dr. Madden and Dr. Fine are played by the same actor. The two doctors aren't supposed to be related in any way.
  • In Hamilton, four actors double on parts: Lafayette and Jefferson, Mulligan and Madison, Laurens and Philip, and Peggy and Maria Reynolds. It's presumably done for two reasons: one, each character only appears in one half of the play (for example, Laurens is already dead by the time Philip is grown up, and Lafayette has gone back to France for some time by the time Jefferson returns from Paris), and two, to give a draw parallels in Hamilton's life, best shown through the following quote from "Alexander Hamilton":
    Lafayette/Jefferson and Mulligan/Madison: We fought with him.
    Laurens/Philip: Me? I died for him.
    Washington: Me? I trusted him.
    Angelica, Eliza and Peggy/Maria Reynolds: Me? I loved him.
    • All of the above statements are, in the context of the show, true (except for Peggy Schuyler loving Hamilton - unlike the other two sisters, she only speaks once, in "The Schuyler Sisters", and after that is only shown, without lines, though in "Helpless" Hamilton says that Peggy "confides" in him).
    • Like the below example, members of the chorus play various roles throughout the show, including both British and American soldiers. That also means that the actors playing Samuel Seabury, Charles Lee, James Reynolds, and George Eacker can be seen throughout the rest of the show.
  • This trope occurs frequently in plays with large numbers of small non-speaking roles (usually in the form of servants, soldiers, party guests, and townspeople). Since it is not practical to cast a different actor for every single background part, directors will cast a small group of actors for these parts and each will play multiple characters throughout the play,creating the illusion of crowds.
  • In the show Falsettos, the actress that plays Cordelia also plays one of Mendel's patients in 'Doctor Mendel at Work', the first scene in the number A Day In Falsettoland, with a brown wig of (otherwise) similar hair, glassses, and a different outfit. Cordelia appears again as herself in the third scene of the song, 'the Neighbors Relax'

    Video Games 
  • World of Mana:
    • In Secret of Mana, nearly every town had its Cannon Travel Man (who were apparently a set of identical quintuplets).
    • Another staple of the Seiken Densetsu/Mana series is the dancing turbaned storekeepers (Mr. Moti), who all look like King Amar III of Kakkara.
      '"Faerie Walnut?! Oh, please!"'
    • Legend of Mana, on the other hand, seems to think that it's all the same Mr. Moti. His character profile reads: "He is everywhere, doing everything."
    • Salescat Neko seems to fall under this trope due to his appearance in multiple out of the way areas, but it is implied that it is just one Neko who is traveling the world. (You do get to meet his palette-swapped relatives in Trials of Mana, through.)
  • Jeane is one of the few recurring characters in the Suikoden series, despite the fact that it spans several different continents and several hundred years. Lacking any of the obvious methods of attaining immortality, the developers and Jeane herself have hinted that she simply has a whole lot of suspiciously identical sisters. A scene in Suikoden V, however, does seem to indicate that she's a LOT older than she seems...she manages to confuse the shell out of an ancient Tortoise, who claims to have sensed 'a being of great age', but instead finds a voluptuous, scantly-clad young woman when he comes to investigate. She is also shown to have a mysterious connection to an ancient civilization that was destroyed centuries earlier. Thus, it remains a mystery whether the "identical family" explanation was humorous, or if Jeane is simply less human than she appears.
    • The makers of this series seem to love encouraging epileptic trees with her. Numerous explanations are hinted at.
      • Jeane is a Runemaster, capable of attaching runes to people so that they can cast magic from them. Also of note? The Suikoden Series revolve around the 27 True Runes, extremely powerful runes that pretty much control the flow of history, and also happen to make their bearer immortal (except for when they have a tendency to kill their owners). There is no evidence that Jeane has a True Rune, but for an apparently immortal woman, who makes runes her profession, to have found her way into the presence of around half the True Runes is remarkably suspicious. She never seems to do anything (indeed, she is incapable of removing True Runes, which decide their own bearer), but it's likely not coincidental that she keeps running into those people who do bear True Runes.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 has the De Santos bartending brothers, generic booze vendors who look, sound, and act exactly the same. The black sheep of the family, Manny, only looks exactly the same, and hasn't quite managed to land that bartending job yet.
  • The Support Reapers in The World Ends with You come in two breeds - red-hoody-baseball-cap and black-hoody-red-bandana. Only two of them (BJ and Tenho of Def March) ever get names.
  • The RPG Exile III/Avernum III had an enormous amount of towns, and did a good job in making all the NPCs and shopkeepers unique with the exception of the fletchers, dressmakers, provisioners, and...Pat, who were all alike and had all the the same exact dialogue. They just had a lot of cousins.
  • And in Exile I, the initial description of the guards in Silvar would end with: "You wonder why he looks exactly like all the other guards."
  • The LucasArts adventure Sam & Max Hit the Road featured a variety of different three Snuckey's burger bars, in different corners of the country, with the exact same pimply youth (who resembled Bernard from Day of the Tentacle) staffing them. They had slightly different merchandise on offer, but the guy was exactly the same except for one feature (one had a mustache, another had no hat, and the third had a different tie).
  • In Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, the innkeeper is an elderly woman named Ume. In the sequel's first town, the heroes see Ume, complete with the same profile picture...except it's not their Ume. She has the same personality, but she doesn't recognize any of the main cast. Shino mentions that "it is said that up to three people in the world can share the same face at the same time," although the others were unsure about sharing the same name. As it turns out, that was a little too literal, as they see the third person with the same face in the next town, who is also named Ume. The original shows up later when they return to Kamiari Village (the setting of the first game).
    • This continues further, and by the time they find the fifth Ume they give up on ever trying to figure it out.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • There's the Toads. The retainers and citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. With the exception of Toadsworth and Toadette, nearly all Toads look alike. This leads to some confusion over which Toad is the Toad. Later games (as of Super Mario Galaxy or so) use an Economy Cast of five toads Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
    • In Super Paper Mario, every convenience store that Mario and the others find is run by Howzit, with the exception of the one in Flopside, which was instead run by Notso.
  • In Animal Crossing, every town has the same resident shopkeeper, the same postal employees, the same museum curator, the same policemen, mayor (ex-mayor in New Leaf), and same mayoral assistant. While there are hundreds of animal villagers who can move into town, it isn't uncommon to encounter the same villager that you have in your town in another person's town.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has a cameo character from Skies of Arcadia whose name is supposed to be Fina, but is designated "Medic" throughout the game. It is revealed in the Encyclopedia Exposita that they're identical triplets who are all serving as medics, named Fina, Hina and Mina.
  • In Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, the Grummels come in 3 varieties depending on what they sell. Explained by them being clones of the last Grummel (although that does not explain the 3 different types, but one can just assume genetic engineering or something).
  • Officer Chunk is guarding the art gallery early in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, and later mans the front desk at the Venture Tower (he got fired for letting you get into the gallery). However, if you got by him by killing him, the one at the tower will be an identical relative of his. And on a minor note, there's the hordes of identical NPCs going around the areas. It's not uncommon to see a group of redheaded quadruplets dancing at the local club. It's directly acknowledged in one quest where someone the PC knew before they were turned recognizes them; a male Toreador can claim it's a mistake and point out that half the men in LA look exactly like them.
  • Minion Masters: All Slitherbound look the same.
  • In My World, My Way, this is subverted; all the minor NPCs in each town claim to be different people despite looking exactly the same. The subversion is that they really are the same people; they're in fact actors hired by someone to fool the protagonist.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, the wandering pirates on Mêlée Island's map (the ones you have to learn the Insult Swordfighting phrases from) are all identical, except some have hair or some form of headgear.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, there's a guy called Namingway who keeps appearing in every town and asking if you want to change your name. Toward the end, you find a city on the moon inhabited by guys identical to him, called "Hummingway Home". And he's there, too.
  • All the similar-looking shopkeepers in Dragon Valor are somehow related.
  • Half-Life is a shameless offender, with all the security guards having the same appearance and voice. This however is excusable due to there being very little variety in character models to begin with. The fact that one of them shows up in the sequel (and references events that seemed to be separate individuals in the first game) adds to the confusion.
  • Amusingly subverted and parodied with Sabu in Bangai-O, who appears several times as a boss. Riki and Mami initially assume that he is multiple people (somewhat helped in that bosses' mechs get blown to smithereens). Soon enough, they end up seeing him as the same guy...but he doesn't recognize them, at first (much to Riki's annoyance).
  • Team Fortress 2: All members of the same class are identical. Teams are only differentiated by colour, and unless you have some hats, team-mates not even by that. How literal this is applied in other media varies: The "Meet the Team" videos readily show multiple characters of the same class, "Meet the Medic" in particular featuring the RED Heavy mowing down an army of identical BLU Soldiers. Conversely, the comics consistently show them as unique individuals, the equivalents on another team (based on the Team Fortress Classic classes) looking different.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening reveals that there are lots of Annas floating around, which explains how she appears in every single game. They're all from different alternative universes.
    • This is deconstructed in Fire Emblem Warriors and its native Anna, whom everyone mistakes for another one (even the player is likely to mistake her for the default system voice, but that's another Anna again). It turns out everyone knowing the salient points of your personality on sight and never introducing themselves properly because they think they've told you things before can lead to a pretty miserable identity crisis.
  • In the game Impossible Creatures, all the henchmen look and sound alike, even in the cutscenes. The villagers too, even the African natives look the same as the Eskimos, except for clothing.
  • In Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, the police officers of Monte d'Or are completely identical, much to the frustration of everyone, especially between themselves.
  • The Fate Series has the infamous "Saber-face" phenomenon, whereby random female heroines will inexplicably have the exact same face as Saber Artoria Pendragon, whether they're from Britain (Artoria, her Alternate Universe counterparts, and her "son" Mordred), Rome (Emperor Nero), France (Jeanne d'Arc), Japan (Okita Souji) or India (Lakshmibai). The reason for this is the head character designer really, really likes Artoria's design and frequently re-uses it for new heroines. Later stories in the franchise begin to Lampshade this, up to and including a version of Artoria whose sole desire is to brutally murder all the other Saberfaces in the franchise for copying her looks, or various characters who had a fixation with one particular Saberface in life but cannot tell them apart as Servants.
  • Most yokai of one type in Yo-Kai Watch all look alike. So, there can be multiple different Jibanyan or Frostina but they all look the same.
  • In A Hat in Time, Mafia Town is populated by giant bald men who all look identical and all address themselves as "Mafia". Their leader is the only one who looks different.
  • Dragon Age does this in a few places.
    • In Dragon Age II, when Orsino and Meredith are having their confrontation at the climax of Act 3, Orsino is accompanied by a small handful of lower-ranked mages whose faces and outfits are completely identical to one another. The lone exception, in games where she survives and is sent to the Circle, is Hawke's sister Bethany - whose unique design makes the identical nature of all of the other mages that much more glaring.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, this is sometimes seen with the scouts who populate Skyhold, particularly in scenes where they interact with Cullen. The fact that they're wearing identical uniforms adds to it, of course, but sometimes they do in fact have the same face.
      • In the Blades of Hessarian camp on the Storm Coast, the Blades include a pair of men who look and dress identically. It's made particularly noticeable by the fact that one of these two is the only one who can interact directly with the Inquisitor. Many fans assume that this speaker is "Ivor of the Blades," the faction member who sends messages seen in war table operations related to the group.
  • Creeper World makes it into a plot point in Particle Fleet, where the Ticon crew find out from the Codex that certain names, or indeed certain people, have been repeating throughout history. Examples include:
    • Varro Hale. One of him is Dax's crewmate in Creeper World 2, another is the CEO of the Hale Corporation in Particle Fleet, and then there's Director Hale in Creeper World 4.
    • Danu, a member of the Ticon Corporation, who is mirrored in Creeper World 4 as Dr Danu Seloi.
    • Aliana Abraxis, who gets a Ticon doppelganger in the form of Ana.
    • Dax Joven, a main character in Creeper World 2 who lends his name to the agile Joven ship in Particle Fleet.
  • In Genshin Impact, the receptionist for the Adventure Guild's booth is always a woman named Katheryne throughout Teyvat. When inquired about this, she never gives a straight answer. Eventually it's revealed that they're a group of Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • In OFF, a majority of non-plot-relevant NPCs consist of the Elsen, who are invariably incredibly anxious and resemble stereotypical white-collar workers (despite what professions they might actually have, as some are miners, for example).
  • In Splatoon 3, the Crab-N-Go stand, the recon guide, and the Tableturf Battle Dojo are all staffed by identical goldfish called Staff.

  • Similarly, there's Akbar, from 8-Bit Theater. Of course, he's only pretending to be a dozen unrelated people. Here's one
  • While not exactly a web comic, the short "series" of hentai comics Daily Life with a (monster girl)(NSFW), features the lead male as being a family of brothers who all look the same.
  • It's unclear if the unnamed blonde clerk girl who seems to man every store in Frivolesque is always the same individual or not. Especially since multiple ones sometimes appear together in some strips. However, they always have a different color scheme whenever they appear together, or when the main characters visit two different stores in the same timeframe, indicating they might be quadruplets and the green one is the "default" sister.
  • The thrice-abandoned webcomic Spells And Whistles featured a recurring individual called T (who looked exactly like a certain member of The A-Team) and his lackey (lower-case) t who turned up several times in odd places, each time with a different profession. It was never made clear if it was the same guy over and over or a whole bunch of guys with the same names and faces, though the comic's fans largely believed it to be the latter.
  • Real Life Comics does this with the character Alan Extra, who is...well ...
  • The webcomic Monster Commute has a string of "convenience" stores called Oni Oni Mart, to quote the site: "Owned and operated by Toni Oni, One employee; Toni Oni and aspects of Mr. Oni, Over 800,000 locations currently known."
  • Slice of Life has the Bons — Bonnie, Bombe, Bonelle, Bon Suite, Bon Bond, Bonita, and Bon-Bon. One of them is a skilled candymaker, but all of them dislike being mistaken for each other, which makes visits to them somewhat... tense.
  • Homestuck: Dad Egbert and Dad Crocker may be an example, since they seem to not be clones of each other but still appear identical. On the other hand, their appearance is not entirely literal, so it's not certain that they are in fact identical.
  • Played for Laughs in The Order of the Stick. The Big Bad is a lich named Xykon. At one point, Redcloak makes three duplicates of him to distract the heroes. When the Monster in the Darkness asks how he made them look exactly like Xykon, Redcloak dismissively notes that he didn't—they're all just reanimated skeletons in dark cloaks.
  • The Comic Adventures of Left & Right: The character Guy, a mostly nondescript blob, is "actually many different guys. Also sometimes gals".
  • In Q-4orce, the City of Heroes Alternate Universe of Nodwick, Nodwick's counterpart is Junior Hero [number]. Like Nodwick, he is frequently killed due to his team's incompetence. Unlike Nodwick, it appears he gets replaced by an identical Junior Hero rather than being raised.
  • Basic Instructions: Scott Meyer uses and reuses his photocartoons of people he knows, with costumes traced over them for the superhero strips, which officially take place in the same universe. This means that Scott himself appears as Scott, Rocket Hat and Omnipresent Man. His friend Ric shows up as Rick, Mr Everywhere, the Knifeketeer, the Emperor of the Moon, and more recently Older-but-Wiser Man. His wife Missy is Missy, the Judger and now Sea-Gal. Several strips show various characters portrayed by the same person in situations that mean they can't be the same; for example, Scott can't secretly be Rocket Hat because one strip shows him watching Rocket Hat doing superheroics.

    Web Original 
  • Agents of Cracked features a rival website to called, which is more than willing to steal Cracked's jokes. When Michael and Daniel eventually go to their office, they find other versions of themselves working there. A later episode revealed these as clones.
  • Aitor Molina Vs. has Aitor Molina, playing himself, Doctor Pandemia, Bator Medina, El Farias... The show hadn't give an explanation yet.
  • A Creepypasta offers an explanation of the Nurse Joy example above basically, the original Nurse Joy is some sort of Humanoid Abomination or possibly a vampire who wishes to conquer the world. As such, she kidnapped several minor trainers and injected them with her DNA to transform them in ultra-loyal clones of herself who believe they really are part of the same family. They also repeat the process on any trainer they find suitable.
  • Similarly, Nigahiga's parody horror movie trailer told from the point of view of a captured Pokemon implies that Nurse Joy is some sort of AI that can duplicate herself.
  • In Screen Rant Pitch Meetings, the Producer and the Screenwriter, whose conversations are the basis for each episode, look exactly alike. The out-of-universe reason is obvious- Ryan George plays both roles- but apparently, everyone looks like them in-universe. In one episode the Producer claims he got surgery to look exactly like the Screenwriter, causing the latter to admit with relief that he'd thought he was going mad.
  • Jake and Amir features occasional guest appearances by Ben Schwartz as a recurring Cloudcuckoolander who always has a new job, gives a bizarre answer when asked his name and claims to have never met the main characters before. Cue the Grand Finale when the real Ben Schwartz shows up and introduces them to all of his previous characters, who live with him at his apartment.

    Western Animation 
  • Goofy cartoons in the Classic Disney Shorts canon often feature a universe where EVERYONE looks like Goofy. This is most evident in sports cartoons like "How to Play Baseball" or "Hockey Homicide" where both opposing teams are made up of Goofy clones.
  • Many of the The Itchy & Scratchy Show cartoons, including the Downton Abbey parody, "Downton Tabby," show cats that all look like Scratchy and mice that all look like Itchy. Both can be either male or female.
  • The special Garfield in Paradise had a Great Gildersleeve-style sleazy salesman type show up as a hotel clerk and then a car rental agent successively, prompting the lines, "You look familiar." "I have a brother in the hotel business."
    Garfield: Racket is more like it.
    • He's in the comic strip, too.
    • Also shows up from time to time in the TV Series, although it is strongly implied in some episodes that it's the same sleazy salesman playing out an elaborate con on Jon.
  • And, of course, the snake-oil salesman from Family Guy, who's done over a dozen sleazy, disreputable sales jobs by now.
    • The episode "Acts of God" features a bunch of Mort clones collecting pennies.
    • In one episode, three men who look like Peter wearing Paper Thin Disguises, i.e. a Groucho Marx glasses and nose, all show up in a grocery store, making it look like Peter is trying to cheat his way to multiple free samples.
  • Futurama has a character called Sal, a fat slob who turns up in every menial position that the script required. The writers haven't yet gotten around to deciding whether there is just one Sal who constantly flits from job to job or some factory somewhere that was pumping out thousands of Sal clones, though DVD/Bluray commentary hints at the former. The same series has an Australian Man who is always doing menial labour.
  • In Jorel's Brother, the businessmen of Shorstners & Shorstners have the exact same appearance, clothing and voice.
  • Ditto the "Squeaky-Voiced Teen" (later revealed, during his time as Store Manager of the Springfield branch of Foot Locker, to be the son of Lunchlady Doris, and having the last name Friedman, both at roughly the same time) and "Sarcastic Man" in The Simpsons. One executive claims that killing them creates two more.
    • In "Fear of Flying", when Homer was banned from Moe's Tavern, someone came in the bar looking like Homer with a bad disguise as a wealthy person, complete with top hat, cane and monocle. Believing it was Homer, Moe got infuriated, and the barfly beat him up and threw him outside. Cut to a depressed Homer walking outside and noticing the man looking like him, but is then distracted by a dog with a puffy tail.
    • In "The Old Man and the Key", Homer, Marge, and Lisa are taking a bus to Branson, Missouri, but mistakenly wind up in Bronson, MO, where everybody looks and talks like Charles Bronson.
  • The Red Guy in Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel, depending on the needs of the plot or joke, could be multiple identical individuals (Journalist Geraldo Rear-viewah once met warden Ben Pantsed) or one person with many Paper Thin Disguises (I.M. Weasel was once sent to prison by an obscure law pointed out by a Red Guy attorney, and ran into a Red Guy warden; when he asks the latter if they are one and the same he denies it while acting quite nervous).
  • In the Back to the Future animated series, no matter where you went and what time period you were in, there was always a Biff. And no matter how many generations removed from the "normal" Biff, they were identical except for their period clothing. Those are some strong genes. Lampshaded by Marty in one episode.
    Marty: Is there a Tannen in every century?
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The storekeepers in the episode "The Painted Lady" appear to be a set of Inexplicably Identical Individuals, differing only by their hats. It is actually just one old man that's gone insane from eating deformed fish from a horribly polluted lake. He acts as if they're different people even when he changes right in front of people:
      Aang: Aha, I knew it! I knew you were the same guy. You're the shop owner and the boat guy.
      Dock/Xu/Bushi: Oh, you must be talking about my brothers, Dock and Xu.
      Aang: No, I just saw you! You switched hats and called yourself a different name!
      Dock/Xu/Bushi: Oh, you know who does that? My brother Dock. He's crazy.
    • Deconstruction: Also taken to creepy extent with Stepford Smiler Joo Dee. When the gang tells the first Joo Dee about the Fire Nation approaching Ba Sing Se, she's taken out and replaced with someone who looks similar, but is still quite distinct, and still identifies as Joo Dee. The gang later finds out that several similar-looking women are all brainwashed into being "Joo Dee." The name is actually the Chinese equivalent of "Jane Doe".
  • Implied with Rancid Rabbit in CatDog.
  • Mr. Hollywood from 2 Stupid Dogs usually appears to be a case of New Job as the Plot Demands, but the episode "Pie in the Sky" has the two dogs encounter several people who all look and sound like him who are even confirmed to be separate people in the episode's ending. There are even some occasions where he appears as a woman.
  • The Debbies from The Oblongs tend to act like a hive mind and look exactly the same.
  • The shopkeeper from Ned's Newt that sold Ned the newt makes frequent reappearances as an extra. Sometimes more than one of him would appear on screen at once.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog had the General and the Lieutenant, who were alternately policemen, captains, security guards, ninjas, and so on. The "Lieutenant" often appeared alongside identical versions of himself.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: in Race To The Edge, aside from Viggo and Ryker, all the dragon hunters look exactly the same (some eventual guards from wherever also have the same appearance of these guys).
  • Played with in Stroker and Hoop. One of the voice actors plays a different background guy in almost every episode (usually with only one or two lines). It turns out they're all the same guy, but with extensive surgery after each appearance, and he's out for revenge against Stroker and Hoop for ruining his life.
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time has a whole kingdom of identical penguins, and because he's not all there in the head he calls the penguin closest to him at the moment Gunther, and in one episode he called other penguins by different names (though all of them were variations of Gunter, such as Guntag or Gunthor).
  • The Royal Guards in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic come in two variations — white and grey, and either pegasus or unicorn or occasionally earthpony. They sometime have a bit more varied colors if they are important for the episode.
  • Monsters University has the the girls of Python Nu Kappa, who all look identical save for different colored skin.
  • Transformers:
    • The Vehicons of Transformers: Prime are all identical except for their voices, vehicle form, and ensuing kibble, with roughly half being jets and the other half being cars, and those that share vehicle forms are completely identical except maybe for voices. While not inexplicable, per se (they are robots, after all), it does go unexplained as to why they're identical when most Transformers aren't.
    • The Insecticons are also all identical, save for Hardshell, whose color scheme is a bit different.
    • The season two finale throws in Decepticons known as "seekers"... Who are just a silver Palette Swap of the jet Vehicons.
    • The Vehicons from Beast Machines were like this too. Justified, as these ones were mindless drones lead by somewhat more distinct generals.
  • One episode of Uncle Grandpa had a ruler of an alien planet who looked identical to the title character.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Squidville", Squidward moves to an entire town of octopi, all of whom are exactly like him: same appearance (except for hair and clothes), same nasally voice, same interests (riding bikes, health food, interpretive dance, clarinets), same Easter-Island-head houses, same sarcastic and snobby attitudes, same distaste for sponges and starfish...
  • Digger Sam and Digger Dave from Recess; most fans assumed they were twins until "Diggers Split Up" confirmed they met in kindergarten. In the Japanese dub, they're twins.
  • An episode of Phineas and Ferb centered around Candace meeting somebody who was identical to her and also happened to be a princess with a goofy foreign accent. Hijinks ensue.
  • Played with in Moral Orel: Orel and his Distaff Counterpart/love interest, Christina, both have little brothers, Shapey and Block. They act exactly the same, but there are some distinguishing characteristics between them (Shapey has a round head, blond hair, and a red striped shirt; Block has a narrow head, red hair, and a blue striped shirt). This didn't stop their parents from accidentally keeping each other's kid and not noticing any difference. Orel and Shapey's mother, Bloberta, finally figures it out at the beginning of Season 3 and gets Shapey back, unofficially adopting Block in the process.
    • Many background extras in the Mask of Light and Legends of Metru Nui animated movies are the same handful of generic models copy&pasted, in order to make the main characters stand out. In particular, all Ta-Koro guardsmen except for Jaller look identical.
    • In the film The Legend Reborn, all Agori belonging to the same tribe look exactly alike, bar some special members who have minor additions to their armor or normal hands in place of clawed hands. This is only true for the movie though; in the comics and novels, every Agori looked different.
    • All Skakdi soldiers in the 2010 online Stop Motion clips look the same because these were the only figures the animator could work with.
    • In Generation 2 media, all members of each elemental tribe look the same. This even lead to confusion when two different sets of Protectors were introduced, and fans couldn't tell whether or not they were supposed to be the same characters until their names were revealed.
    • In general, a lot of Bionicle races and species were said to be made up of identical beings both in and outside of animation with not even any gender distinctions. No clear in-story reason was given, though main author Greg Farshtey often said he lacked visual imagination and so couldn't describe most characters' appearances.
  • The Legend of Vox Machina features occasional appearances by minor characters looking suspiciously similar to Matthew Mercer, who tend to end up being the Butt-Monkey of whichever scene they're in.

    Real Life 
  • Most animals that are not domesticated all look the same as the others of their species of their age and/or sex to humans. This is because of a variety of reasons. Part (but not all) of this simply is us not being wired to tell animals apart as good as we do people, and can be overcome by spending time around animals of a certain species. Many animals rely more on their sense of smell and/or hearing to tell each other apart because these senses are well developed and their vision is less important to them as a sense, and so have less physical variety. Prey animals are commonly eaten by predators if they are too distinct because it makes it easier to target them in a running herd, so they all tend to look the same. And many animals do have distinct spots or stripes they very easily use to tell each other apart, but this falls under the first problem of humans not being well-adapted to notice this so they tend to blend together to us regardless.
    • Most biologists think birds identify their mates and chicks solely by the sounds they make,note  as most birds have little if any sense of smell and they don't have distinct faces or any other structural variation within species (except for perhaps sexual dimorphisn and age-related plumage differences.) note  So in other words, birds all look identical to others of the same species, age, and sex, even to other birds.
    • Conversely, to many animals, all humans look alike. They look at us and just see "human" and don't really make a distinction between different humans as encountering a human means the same thing to them regardless of which person it is - be on alert, because humans often eat animals (even apex predators) as food.

Alternative Title(s): Nurse Jenny


Pokemon promo

That's a LOT of Officer Jennys.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / InexplicablyIdenticalIndividuals

Media sources: