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Jack the Ripoff

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"As the bounty on Massacre Girl rose, so did the number of imitators."

No, this is not a page about expies of Jack the Ripper.

If you want to make a big splash on the criminal scene, you've got to make your crime memorable. And what's the best way to do that? Why, to duplicate a crime that's already memorable.

This is Jack the Ripoff's modus operandi. In fact, you could say that Jack doesn't actually have a modus operandi at all, because he's just copying the M.O. of some past crime (not his own, of course; that would make him a serial criminal). Usually an especially (in)famous one or one that was never solved. There can be any number of reasons to commit a copycat crime:

Copycat killers are a very common plot twist in police dramas, movies, and mystery novels where the plot involves serial killings. The copycat may occasionally serve as a Red Herring - the detectives think they've caught the killer, but it turns out he was just a copycat and there's still a serial killer on the loose. (Although, in Real Life, investigators of a serial killer often keep some details from being released to the public in order to tell a possible copycat apart from the main suspect, and some realistic crime novels mention this as well.) Alternatively they could be tempted to doubt they have the right guy because the crimes haven't stopped.

If the original killer is still around, don't expect him to be pleased (unless he sees it as a compliment, or is able to use it as The Alibi). Authorities investigating the copycat may be looking to consult with the original killer in trying to catch their suspect.

For cases where a real-life serial killer inspires imitators in fiction, see Ripped from the Headlines.

Named, of course, after the infamous (and unidentified) Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper, who has indeed inspired a few real-life copycats, such as the Yorkshire Ripper and Jack the Stripper.

Contrast Writing About Your Crime for the inverse.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens at least once in Case Closed - a man is murdered in a similar modus operandus as a serial killer whose original slayings neared the Statute of Limitations, but Conan deduces that the victim was the murderer, killed by one of the victims' vengeful family members through the victim's Dying Clue. ( The dead man put blood on the CTRL and C keys and died grabbing the mouse by its cord to imply that the murderer was a copy cat.)
    • It was defied in the Naniwa Serial Murder arc, when Heizo, like what the lead mentioned, withheld some information from the press (Namely, a knife was stabbed through the victims' wallets) so that he was sure further incidents were not due to this trope.
  • In Death Note, Higuchi and Misa both attempt to rip off the original Kira, Light. Higuchi, in fact, was given a death note in the first place to imitate Light, and supposedly prove his innocence.
  • Happens several times in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; one recurring theme is that the massive information overload of the story's post-modern society is causing individuals to act identically without being in direct contact — "copies without an original", the titular "Stand-Alone Complex". The primary example in-universe would be the legendary hacker "The Laughing Man," who inspires several layers of copycats.
  • One of the tattooed convicts in Golden Kamuy attempts to recreate Jack the Ripper's prostitute serial killings down to the body placement, except in Sapporo instead of London. He's a foreigner named Michael Ostrog and it's heavily implied he's the actual Jack the Ripper.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, everyone is doing this, trying to keep their true intentions unknown by making their crimes look like the result of Oyashiro-sama's curse. As we learn in the second season, the real Oyashiro-sama is not pleased.
  • In Paranoia Agent, the boy who is initially arrested turns out to be merely a copycat acting like Lil' Slugger, using whatever information he happens to hear as the basis for his outfit and modus operandi. Lil' Slugger kills him, the first time he goes beyond just a whack from his bat. Then again, the kid was suicidal.
  • A non-lethal example in Pokémon: The Series. One episode featured a town where the cops use Spinarak as police-dog analogues instead of Growlithe because, one hundred years ago, an officer used a Spinarak to catch a famous cat burglar who used a Meowth. Team Rocket decided to impersonate that criminal.
  • In Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace, the serial killer "20 Faces" murders criminals in the same way that they murdered their victims.
  • Tantei Gakuen Q's "Psychic Murder Case" has two cases of someone getting axed to death in a perfect locked room as if it was done by, well, psychic that happened in the same location but different years. The first murder eluded police's investigation from little to no evidence, while the second one was easily solved because of the abundance of incriminating clues. Ironically, Both of the cases were based on a murder plan coming from Pluto. While the first case's mediator, Cerberus, carefully considered the best situation for the plan to occur perfectlynote , the second murder's mediator, Thanatos, had so much arrogance that he thought he could copy Cerberus' murder plan with several compensating twists, but it ended up making the culprit do suspicious thingsnote 

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Gotham City Secret Files and Origins #1 introduced a new villain called the Skeleton who bore a grudge against Bruce Wayne and whose M.O. was impersonating other members of Batman's Rogues Gallery and copying their M.O.s. With the use of unknown equipment, the Skeleton was able to physically transform himself/herself into any villain he/she pleases, and by studying patient records can also duplicate their every move and think their very thoughts. However, writer Brian K. Vaughan left the Bat-titles shortly after this, so all of the plot threads regarding the Skeleton were Left Hanging.
  • Issue #2 of Dylan Dog has Dylan investigating murders in London linked to Jack the Ripper, who has supposedly returned from the dead after being summoned through a Spooky Séance organized by Sarah Sarandon, who got slayed first. It turns out that Sarah was a fraud con artist, and the killer is her stepdaughter Jane, who suggested her to use Jack in order to keep the legendary fear of the Ripper alive whilst creating a great alibi for herself. Jane dies when the wax museum she works at catches fire and a statue of Jack the Ripper seemingly comes to life and strikes her while melting, making it seem as if Jack has briefly manifested himself for real to punish the puny fool who tried to take his mantle.
  • A Wildstorm-published Friday the 13th comic had a woman lure her abusive boyfriend to Camp Crystal Lake, intending to murder him and make it look like he was killed by Jason. Unfortunately for her, the real Jason appears just as she's committing the deed and finishes him off before killing her. ( Don't feel too bad for her — she had previously murdered her own mother in order to get with said boyfriend in the first place.)
  • A pimp in Green Arrow who kills according to the MO of the "Seattle Slasher," Arrow knows he's a copycat because he witnessed the assassin, Shado, kill the real slasher in order to save the copycat's victim.
  • The Hack/Slash story Double Date had the nephew of the original Father Wrath follow in his footsteps, becoming Father Wrath 2.
  • One Judge Dredd story concerns a serial killer who always leaves his victim's right hand. He is, naturally, a copycat of Lefty, a serial killer from an earlier story who always left the left hand.
  • In The Maze Agency #4, what appears to be a Theme Serial Killer starts picking off members of Gabe's Ripperologist Club using the M.O. of Jack the Ripper. This is ultimately revealed to be a Serial Killings, Specific Target scenario.
  • The second story in New Line Cinema's Tales Of Horror had an admirer of Freddy Krueger copycatting him, complete with replica hat and sweater. Freddy himself is not at all flattered by the imitation, especially when the copycat tries to blackmail him into letting him be his accomplice, and recruits another crazy fanboy of his to help take care of him—while being weirded out that he of all people has fans.
  • Oxymoron: Oxymoron's crimes inspires a legion of copycat killers who proceed to plunge the city into chaos.
  • In one story, ''Tex Willer's trouble in a town are doubled by the presence of a serial killer of women who's pretty much a lookalike of Jack the Ripper, known as "Lo Sventratore" (lit. The Gutter, ripper instead is translated as "lo Squartatore".) Turns out, it is a girl, the same girl who's been helping Tex fighting the bad guys of the week and also gives a bit of psycho Motive Rant about being disgusted by women who "sell themselves".
  • In the Britain-themed Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom miniseries by Marvel Comics, one issue has a guy who can summon up things from alternate realities and because he's a Jack the Ripper fanatic, alternate Jack the Rippers keep appearing. Some of which look like bad movie villains, one of which is a riff on From Hell, one of which is an ape with a straight razor, one of which is apparently a rival prostitute, and one of which is actually Sherlock Holmes! (The last one was a reference to Michael Dibdin's notoriously trolling crime novel The Last Sherlock Holmes Story.) Most are wearing top hats and capes, of course.
  • Non-murder example in a Mickey Mouse story. Mickey's Arch-Enemy, the criminal mastermind the Phantom Blot is going on a crimespree, but Mickey notices that the Blot's tricks resemble stuff he has already done decades ago. Turns out that it was just a copycat college student with an interest in criminology.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Darker Path, Atropos does not take kindly to them, because they tarnish her image and dilute her brand. Her reaction to the first people stupid enough to try it is to track them, brutally murder them, and then post a public warning on PHO so anyone thinking to try it will stop.
  • In The Chosen Six, a werewolf decided to murder people, claiming he was Fenrir Greyback. Greyback tracked the former, killed him, and sent its head to the Daily Prophet's office along with a note telling them to research before publishing anything.
  • Danganronpa: Komm Susser Tod: The first killer, having found out about Sparkling Justice, commits murder and then attempts to pass it off as the work of the real Sparkling Justice.
  • In Path of the King, part of the Misaki arc (specifically That Which Bleeds) is on how someone is taking advantage of the "vampire" Serial Killer case in Misaki city to kill people.
  • Part of the Nested Story in Redaction of the Golden Witch that another set of mysterious deaths occured on Rokkenjima Island in 1996, ten years after the original incident. Walter Absalom believes that it was a copycat killer inspired by the original crime, and that the Forgery that makes up the central story is actually a stealthy confession.
  • The Victors Project: Gloss's chapter establishes that he kidnaps, drugs and tortures someone every year (with Cashmere helping him plan the abduction and making sure he never actually kills anyone) to sate his bloodlust, having been dubbed the Midtown Mincer. During Finnick Odair's public unveiling of Capitolites' secrets, we get this gem.
    Finnick: Bendedicta Horton, you strangled your husband and blamed the Midtown Mincers just so you could get your hands on the inheritance. Oh, and speaking of the Midtown Mincers, no idea.
  • In You Call That a Costume?, upon seeing Pinkie Pie dressed a Victorian Englishman for Halloween, Sunset asked her if she was Jack, to which Pinkie said no, to Sunset's relief. Instead, she's Mr. Hyde.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Bone Collector sort of fits, as the killer based his crimes on a century-old series of crime novels. The cops didn't make the connection until literally piecing together the puzzle-piece like clues left by the killer that pointed them to a book documenting the original crimes.
  • In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a man attempts to murder his landlady and blame it on the Serial Killer who is already terrorizing the town. He's arrested before he can carry out the deed, but it really confuses the ongoing investigation to find the real killer.
  • The movie Copycat is about a serial killer whose M.O. is copying the crimes of famous serial killers.
  • This is part of the main tension in The Exorcist III, where someone is apparently recreating the murders of a Zodiac-like Serial Killer called The Gemini Killer, who had been arrested and executed years before. The thing is, this new Gemini knows details about the murders that were deliberately kept from the public in order to immediately identify false confessions and copycat killers. So the question is, did they catch the wrong person the first time? It turns out that they did get the right guy last time, but his ghost is possessing the living to carry on his murders, with demonic aid. This is, after all, an Exorcist sequel.
  • The end of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning revealed that the killer wasn't Jason Voorhees this time, but ambulance driver Roy Burns, who donned Jason's costume to kill the teenagers (and other random people) because of his son's death. It was actually foreshadowed by giving "Jason" a slightly different appearance than usual for example.
  • Sort of invoked by Freddy in Freddy vs. Jason; the people in his town have forgotten who he is and no longer are afraid, so he can't kill them in their dreams. The solution: wake up Jason Voorhees, lead him to Elm Street, and let Jason put the fear back in them. The problem: once Jason does start killing off stupid horny teens, he won't stop, leaving nobody for Freddy to kill.
  • God Told Me To takes place during an epidemic of mass murders, where seemingly normal people suddenly kill at random because "God" convinced them to. One drug-dealer uses this opportunity to kill a corrupt cop who didn't respect his orders, and then write "GOD" with the cop's blood to make it look like another random crime.
  • In Good Neighbors, there's a serial killer operating in town. Louise copies his methods to kill an upstairs neighbor.
  • In Halloween Ends, the most notable detail in a plot that keeps showing Michael Myers is Not So Invincible After All is that most of the film's kills are not done by Michael, but by the local Bully Magnet, who manages to steal Michael's mask and goes on a copycat spree to murder all of his tormentors. Michael do gets him back for that in the final act, though, via Neck Snap. This is one of the details that make Laurie Strode proclaim as one of the film's final lines that the evil that Michael brought to Haddonfield will never truly die, even if Michael himself is no longer around.
  • In the film Hero and the Terror, Chuck Norris is forced to deny that a criminal is loose because the last time the killer went on a spree, there were loads of copycats.
  • In The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) the main character becomes so obsessed with a DVD of the original movie that he goes out to create his own centipede.
  • The title character of Mr. Brooks commits a very similar murder to the one his daughter commits in order to confuse the authorities and give her an alibi (since she's far away at the time), which makes them believe it was someone else who committed them both.
  • In My Bloody Valentine and its 3D remake the modern day killer turns out to not be a returned Harry Warden, but someone driven insane by the murderous rampage he went on years earlier.
  • In Ripper: Letter from Hell, the killer is recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper, targeting a group of college students who share the same initials as the Ripper's original victims.
  • Scary Movie: There are three separate Ghostfaces, two of whom are copycats. Bobby and Ray are the impostors, while Doofy is the real Ghostface killer.
  • The Saw movies have had a few people who imitate Jigsaw's death traps. One way to tell the crimes apart is that Jigsaw's death traps have some way to escape, while imitators (who generally do not share Jigsaw's "vision") do not. The killer from Spiral (2021) also has a more specific MO than Jigsaw, targeting only Dirty Cops instead of anyone who doesn't fit Jigsaw's loose definition of "valuing their life".
  • Scream: Every Ghostface after the first film qualifies.
  • In Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, the murderer is using the same techniques as Jack the Ripper.
  • In the 2014 movie The Town That Dreaded Sundown, the town of Texarkana is plagued by a series of murders committed by someone who wants to recreate the original murders (and the 1976 movie of the same name). It turns out to be two killers working together, one who wants to ride on the original killer's fame and the other who's working on a complicated scheme to have his ancestor remembered as another of the Phantom killer's victims.
  • In Virtuosity, Sid 6.7's personality is an amalgamation of 200 notorious criminal personalities. So, when he gets a physical body, he starts murdering in the style of assorted killers (i.e. writing "death to the pigs" in blood like Charles Manson).

  • Ben Snow: n "The Ripper of Storeyville", the murderer deliberately copies the M.O. of Jack the Ripper to make the murder of four prostitutes look like the random acts of a madman (and cause the police to wonder if the original Ripper is now in New Orleans) rather than a the case of Serial Killings, Specific Target it actually is.
  • Charles Burnside, the Serial Killer known as the Fisherman, of Black House, is assumed to be one of Albert Fish, due to using the same MO and the same phrasing in letters sent to the grieving parents. This is eventually revealed to be because both Burnside and Fish were being possessed by the same demon, Mr. Munshun.
  • The Concrete Blonde: Detective Harry Bosch is puzzled when The Dollmaker, a Serial Killer that Bosch fatally shot several years before, seems to have become active again. He finally figures out that a copycat is imitating the Dollmaker's MO.
  • Before the Criminal Minds episode "Zoe's Reprise" described below, the spin-off book Killer Profile featured a villain who copycatted several other serial killers, including Dahmer, Bundy, Berkowitz, Gacy, Wuornos and an original character named Herman Kotchman (who buried his victims alive). Near the end, he escalated to trying to copy spree killers and mass murderers, like Richard Speck.
  • The title character of the Diagnosis: Murder tie-in novel The Silent Partner is a serial copycat: one copycat each for multiple serial killers.
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son has a subplot set aside for a serial killer who gradually realizes that someone is mimicking his MO (Organ Theft). He assumes it's an admirer paying him homage, and learns too late that the copycat's plan is to kill him, make it look like suicide, and pin all the murders on him.
  • In Friday the 13th: Road Trip, a state trooper, driven off the deep end by catching his best friend in bed with his wife, makes plans to kill them, and make it look like Jason's work. He succeeds, but is killed by the real Jason (who is possessing a guy) shortly after.
  • A flashback in A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Dealers reveals a main character's father had killed a girl in a fit of rage years earlier. To cover his tracks, he used a box cutter to slash up the corpse, and make it look like the girl was a victim of the then active Springwood Slasher.
  • Shadow Police: In The Severed Streets, the killer deliberately dresses up his murders with the theatrics of Jack the Ripper as a elaborate smokescreen.
  • The second killer in A Stab in the Dark

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story features several of these in its different seasons :
    • In the second episode of Murder House, the three home invaders, who are part of a deranged murder enthusiast club, plan to recreate the murder of the two nurses down to the smallest detail (e.g. with the exact purported murder weapon and contemporary nurses outfits) with Vivien and Violet in the role of the nurses. Needless to say, all three of the home invaders are killed by the house's inhabitants.
    • American Horror Story: Asylum has the infamous serial killer Bloody Face who committed his crimes in the 1960s, and then re-appeared in the present day, killing a married couple who were poking around the abandoned Briarcliff manor. It turns out that a group of thrill-seekers posing as Bloody Face had accidentally killed the husband. And then the real Bloody Face shows up. He kills the copycats and kills the wife, revealing himself to be Bloody Face's son. He was actually attempting to emulate his father.
    • American Horror Story: Cult reveals that Valerie Solanas and her cult of men-hating women created the Zodiac Killer as part of a plan for female revolution (kind of like Charles Manson's "Helter Skelter" scenario). Then a member of the cult took over the Zodiac identity, doing his own killings and sending letters to the police without Solanas' approval. Eventually Solanas completely lost control over the plan when she tried to take credit for the murders... and the police didn't believe her, convinced that the Zodiac Killer couldn't be a woman. Of course, that's only if the entire story wasn't completely made up, which is absolutely possible.
  • Barney Miller:
    • In one episode a man commits crimes based on recently seen TV movies. He gets caught when he tries to hijack a money train.
    • When a serial arsonist is on the loose, Mr. Cotterman (a local liquor store owner who is robbed a lot) tries to set his place on fire for the insurance, but just before the fire is scheduled to start he learns that they've already caught the arsonist. He rushes back to his store to put out the fire.
  • The Bridge (2011):
    • In the second season, the second group of animal-masked terrorists are (much less dangerous) copycats with no actual connection.
    • In the third season, the second murder is committed by a copycat, giving a misleading impression of the real killer's motivation.
  • One episode of Diagnosis: Murder has a bomber being freed from prison by a clerical error and swearing revenge on Dr Mark Sloan, who testified against him at his trial. Someone else who wants Dr Sloan dead takes advantage of this by sabotaging the petrol tank of Dr Sloan's car and rigging it to explode, hoping to make it look like the work of the bomber.
  • In the first episode of Castle, the killer makes it look like someone is copying the crimes from novelist Richard Castle's books. The bestselling author is brought on as a consultant, and the police are surprised to realize how useful a Genre Savvy mystery writer is in solving crimes.
  • Criminal Minds has had several:
    • "Won't Get Fooled Again": A bomber terrorizing Palm Beach turns out to be a copycat of the imprisoned Boston Bomber, the man who single handedly killed Agent Gideon's original team.
    • "A Real Rain": A vigilante is on the loose in New York, and at one point a wannabe tries copying him in order to steal all the praise the actual killer is receiving.
    • "Jones": A copycat of the actual Jack the Ripper (but with genders reversed - the killer is a woman, and the victims are all male) resurfaces in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
    • "Doubt": A college girl emulates an arrested killer, in order to get him released, so she can coerce him into killing her.
    • "Identity": After his mentor, a serial killer, commits suicide, the man's accomplice has a breakdown and tries copying him, even going as far as taking his name and altering his appearance to look like him.
    • "Birthright": The killer was copying his long dead father, a serial rapist and killer.
    • "The Angel Maker": A woman obsessed with an executed serial killer continues where he left off.
    • "Zoe's Reprise": A fledgling serial killer emulates other infamous killers (including Jack the Ripper), in an attempt to find his own style (and succeeds).
    • John "The Replicator" Curtis from season 8 copies the methods of previous UnSubs.
  • The CSI episode "The Execution of Catherine Willows" had the team thinking they had caught a serial killer, but it was a copycat (and the real killer's former partner).
  • Dexter:
    • The second season has the titular serial killer catches the eye of the press as 'The Bay Harbor Butcher', and the police fear that it will lead to copycat crimes, especially considering the vigilante-theme of the killings. Sure enough, Dexter gets a copycat, and since he knows that any 'copycat killings' will lead to a much greater FBI presence - and thus worse odds for himself - he takes out the copycat while sending a clear message to other pretenders...
    • In the finale of the third season, Dexter copies another serial killer so that he can kill a notable public figure without simply having him disappear into the ocean, which would lead to too many questions.
    • He also routinely copies the killing method of the killer he's killing, if it's reasonably practical. He'll copy any specific knife or blunt instrument, but not electricity/poison/drowning/etc, since his thing is blood. And he also occasionally uses their actual weapon, if he can procure it; most notably Trinity's hammer in season 4, given to him by Trinity himself.
  • Endeavour: In "Passenger", a pair of killers use the M.O. of uncaught killer from several years earlier to make it appear that he is active again. However, they miss several crucial details that were never released to the public, such as the original victim being strangled with her bra.
  • The third season of Engrenages has a particularly cold-blooded and vicious example: a group of pimps are in a symbiotic relationship with a local serial killer, handing their disobedient women over to him to be tortured and murdered to discourage the others from rebelling, and when he is arrested they commit a copycat murder to make him appear to be innocent and get him released.
  • FBI: Most Wanted : In "Greatest Hits", the team searches for a murderer recreating the chilling killings of a notorious '80s mobster.
  • The entire plot of The Following is that imprisoned Serial Killer Joe Carroll has created a cult of copycats duplicating his own Edgar Allan Poe-inspired killings. That said, some of the cultists want to copy Carroll's killings exactly, while others think he wants them to branch out and find their own methods. Carroll doesn't seem to care one way or another as long as they are killing, but one cultist's methods (setting people on fire while wearing a creepy Poe mask) even he thinks is excessive.
  • Forever had a murderer start out imitating Jack the Ripper (and given the premise of the show, Henry was worried it was Jack the Ripper), then the Black Dhalia, and then moving on to the Boston Strangler.
  • Crops up several times in Hannibal:
    • In the episode "Entrée", a murderer imprisoned at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane kills one of his nurses using the MO of the notorious "Chesapeake Ripper". He claims it's because he is the Ripper, but really he's been psychologically conditioned to believe he's the Ripper by the Smug Snake hospital administrator, who wants credit for having found the Ripper out. The real Chesapeake Ripper soon makes it known that he's still at large.
    • Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself, in addition to having his own successful career as a serial killer, also commits a handful of copycat murders during the first season. One is a deliberately crude imitation of the Minnesota Shrike, whom Will Graham and the FBI are trying to catch, and the details of the copy are so off that they actually help Graham build an accurate profile of the Shrike. Another was done to cover up his own malfeasance and pin the death on the latest killer being hunted by the FBI. At the end of the season, it's revealed that Hannibal has been preparing to frame Graham for the murders the whole time.
    • In the second season, Matthew Brown kills someone in a way that combines elements from all of the copycat murders in order to create reasonable doubt for Will. Many suspected Hannibal - which would have made him a serial killer pretending to be a copycat killer being inspired by kills that he did himself, which were themselves copycat killings.
  • Kamen Rider Drive has a disgraced criminologist who adopts the persona of the Copycat Pirate, using his expertise to pull this trope for multiple famous crooks, all to take revenge for his humiliation.
  • In an episode of Law & Order, the detectives think they have a copycat to an older crime, but it turned out it was the original killer anyway, and who they thought was the killer was locked up wrongly.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • A first-season episode features a serial killer seducing a scientist studying him into carrying out a copycat crime to free him. It gets more twisted from there.
    • The sixth-season premiere features what appears to be one of these, except the killer uses a detail that was never released. It actually was a copycat who was the daughter of the original investigating officer, and therefore knew the detail.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
    • Inverted in "Hysteria" - the SVU track a homicide that leads them to a cop/serial killer who suffocated and strangled prostitutes. He then mentions that the original murder they were running down isn't one of his, because he wants his count to be accurate.
    • The episode "Scavenger" dealt with a copycat of a BTK-based killer (who also appeared to have a little Zodiac thrown into the mix, considering the complicated puzzles, and his use of a black mask).
    • Another featured a woman who was trying to win back her convicted-serial-killer ex-boyfriend by killing women and arranging them in a particular fashion. At the trial, he (who considered his killings True Art) looks over the crime scene, and says her work "lacks enthusiasm". He wants nothing more to do with her.
    • In "Justice Denied", the SVU discovers a rape case that uses the same MO of a case which lead to the arrest of Omar Pena, leading them to believe Omar has a friend on the outside. It's ultimately subverted when it's revealed that Omar was actually innocent and the rapist was actually the same one responsible for the crime he had been accused of.
  • The Lie to Me episode "Blinded" dealt with a jailed killer being copycatted. Subverted (somewhat) in that he was a "mentor" figure to the new killer, which the cast figured out early on.
  • The Mentalist: One of those appeared in the very first episode. The killer wanted to cover up a crime by killing a potential witness. Because the criminal whose modus operandi he decided to copy was known for killing families, he killed the witnesses' wife as well. One of the first things that made the main character suspect they were dealing with a copycat rather than the real serial killer was how the copied card was placed. The serial killer usually places it where people can see it before seeing the victims.
    • The serial killer in question (Red John) could almost be considered a Jack the Ripper homage himself, given their shared penchants for targeting (young) women, stabbing them to death and mutilating their corpses.
  • In the Midsomer Murders episode "Echoes of the Dead", Barnaby recognizes the murders as recreations of famous murders of the early 20th century, except for the last one, which he's not able to place. When the murderer is caught, Barnaby asks about it, and the murderer shrugs and says, "I was in a hurry and I couldn't think of anything".
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk's 100th Case", there is an interesting use of the withheld details issue: a homicidal photographer named Douglas Thurman strangles and kills three young actresses and takes each victim's lipstick. After a SWAT raid on Thurman's photo studio, evidence is found linking him to the murders, but Thurman is gone. Hours later, a young actress named Kate Kindel is found dead, killed in similar fashion to the first three victims. Monk then realizes that Kindel's murder can't fit in with Thurman's movements, because Thurman killed himself when cornered by police in a southern California hotel several hundred miles south of San Francisco, and had Mexican currency because he was fleeing for Mexico, and would have had to go out of the way to murder Kindel. Also, Kindel was strangled from behind while the first three victims were strangled from in front. He then determines that the documentary's host James Novak killed Kindel because she was his girlfriend and was threatening to tell his wife, and was able to frame Thurman for the crime because he had access to details about the case that the police never released to the media. To kill her, Novak went to Kindel's apartment the night before the police raided Thurman's studio, took some photos of her with a film camera (as Douglas Thurman was a rare photographer who still used film instead of digital work), then strangled her and took her lipstick. He went along with the SWAT team during the raid, and planted the roll of film while no one was looking.
  • Motive: In "The Scorpion and the Frog", the murderer deliberately copies the highly unusual M.O. of a previous murder, including inserting a string of pearls into the victim's throat. He is doing this because he has fallen in love with original killer, and by copying her crime he can get her released by putting her guilt in question.
  • NCIS:
    • "Mind Games" had this, all perpetrated by Kyle Boone's lawyer in an attempt to enact a stay of execution by committing copycat murders while he was still in custody, making this a unique case of being an official ripoff. This fails when the lawyer gets killed by his would-be victim Paula Cassidy.
    • "Lt. Jane Doe" has the apparent return of a murderer from 10 years ago who raped and murdered a Jane Doe and dressed them in a Navy lieutenant's uniform. It turns out that the culprit of the recent case killed the victim for personal unrelated reasons and then tried to frame the past murderer by planting his semen (stolen from the evidence freezer) in the victim and setting up his Calling Cards. Then it's discovered that the actual murderer from the past case died a mere five weeks prior.
  • Prodigal Son: The main character's father, Dr. Martin Whitley, is an infamous serial killer known as "the Surgeon" for his precise methodology of killing his victims. In the pilot (by which point Martin's been in prison for over 20 years), one of his former patients who became an admirer of his starts copying his techniques in his own murders. For his part, Martin is offended that he's being ripped off.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In "No One Mourns the Wicked", the team pursue a killer who is copying the M.O.s of previous serial killers.
  • The Sandman (2022), "The Doll's House". Three serial killers are organising a 'convention' of their kind, and want to invite Corinthian (they don't know he's immortal, assuming he's copying the original Corinthian from a hundred years ago) but he refuses to make contact, so one suggests copying his kills in the hope of drawing him out. The others disapprove of this trope, but play along for lack of a better idea. It works, and fortunately Corinthian decides to forgo killing them as he likes the idea that he's inspiring others.
  • Slasher:
    • The Serial Killer in the first season is replicating the work of an imprisoned murderer known as the Executioner by dressing like him as a medieval-style executioner and killing "sinners".
    • In the third season, it eventually turns out that the serial killer known as the Druid who is targeting witnesses to his original killing a year prior is not the original Druid, but someone else with completely different motives who is using the same style costume to cover their tracks.
  • Smallville: In "Prey", a serial killer is on the loose. A young man named Randy Klein who has Living Shadow powers and wants attention starts killing people in similar ways.
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger had a one-shot villain that not only mimicked the MO but the physical appearance of previously-appearing villains, made easier by being The Faceless. Power Rangers S.P.D. adapted this story very closely, even renaming the villain Slate, as in "blank slate".
  • An episode of Tracker had an alien serial killer impersonating many of Earth's most famous serial killers. He impersonated John Wayne Gacy and a couple of others in the US and then traveled to London, where he began impersonating Jack The Ripper.
  • The ITV series Whitechapel deals with copycat killers. The first series involved a copycat of Jack the Ripper, recreating the killings down to committing them as close to the original crime scenes as possible. The second series had someone recreating the murders committed by the infamous Kray Twins, as part of a bid by two criminals, who were brought up with the belief that they were Ronnie Kray's sons, to take over the London underworld.
  • The last season of The Wire features Jimmy and Freamon faking a serial killer rampage to get the Baltimore police some much needed extra funds. Eventually another body that they didn't plant turns up with the same MO.

  • This is what the first episode of Sick Sad World is about. It even discusses trope namer Jack the Ripper's imitators.

    Video Games 
  • AI: The Somnium Files has the Cyclops Serial Killer, who previously targeted women and took their right eyes. When killings with a similar MO occur but with the left eye this time, the cast believe it to be the work of a copycat. This ultimately ended up being subverted, as it was the same killer both times. He never cared about eyes, the first time around it was his accomplice who took them due to being a brain-damaged Nightmare Fetishist. The second time he needed to remove the left eyes for his Grand Theft Me plot, and ate them to get rid of the evidence.
  • The Point-and-Click Game for the Playstation, Cat The Ripper, have the player's Amnesiac Hero trying to solve the titular murderer's clues and stop his killing spree.
  • "Serial Killer X" from Condemned: Criminal Origins has an interesting take on this: he kills other serial killers according to their own MOs, making them look like one more victim of that killer's spree and thus keeping his own involvement unknown while causing the investigation into those killers to go cold.
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, at the end of the game, The Mastermind; having been defeated and their Ultimate Real Fiction shut down for good is left to face the academy's destruction before mentioning to the others they'll hold their head up high as their copy criminal work is finished. Leaving the true nature of their actions ambiguous as Shuichi figures they might have been lying about The Reveal.
  • Later Five Nights at Freddy's installments have introduced Vanny, who is an odd variant of this. During the events of Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted she comes into contact with William Afton's Virtual Ghost and ends up Brainwashed and Crazy, serving him as a Legacy Character. She's shown to follow a similar M.O. as Afton did in life, such as primarily targeting Fazbear locations, hacking animatronics, and luring children using a rabbit costume.
  • In Heavy Rain, Gordi Kramer is responsible for the death of Joseph Brown and attempts to cover his own tracks by making it look like the work of the Origami Killer. This is the main reason that the real killer, Scott Shelby, is interested in investigating Kramer.
  • The Fans of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number are a group of ultra-violent vigilantes who seek to emulate Jacket's rampages from the first game.
  • One of the theories surrounding the Bell Killer murders in Murdered: Soul Suspect is that some of them are copyright crimes; the revelation that there have been murders following the same MO going back over a century suggesting that even the original killer might be a copycat. Turns out that's half-true: Every murder was committed by a different person, but all of them were being possessed by Abigail at the time. Among them are Ronan's brother-in-law Rex, Jerkass fellow cop Baxter, and even Ronan himself, the main character.
  • It was eventually revealed that this is the case with Tony Montana's appearance in PAYDAY 2. The real Tony Montana was assassinated in the '80s like in the movie (and the What If? video game where he survives, Scarface: The World Is Yours, is ignored), and the Tony you can play as is an impostor.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 4, Mr. Morooka's murder superficially looks like the yet-unsolved earlier ones, but there are a number of details that don't fit the pattern. Turns out it's a copycat crime, of course. The interesting part is that once the cast figures out who did it, they all come up with reasons why he would have committed the other crimes as well - an illustration of how the human mind can fool itself. (They're all desperate to stop the murders, and it's more comfortable to think the same guy who did this one did the others.) It also helps that Mitsuo is delusional enough that he's mostly convinced himself that he committed them, too.
    • Persona 5 has the Phantom Thieves antagonized by a hacker group called Medjed, who states that they will bring the Thieves down and reveal them for the criminals they are. Soon after, Joker is contacted by Alibaba to steal a target's heart in exchange for eliminating Medjed for them. As it turns out, Alibaba — Futaba Sakura — was the original Medjed who the group copied, and proves as adept at carrying out their end of the bargain as you'd expect an original to annul a knockoff. She just needs time to adjust to a despair-free outlook first.
  • Ripper, of course, the killer was inspired by a Jack the Ripper game. The killer is decided at random upon game start out of four persons (or can be forced through a start up parameter). You can in fact kill an innocent in the last scene.
  • In Silent Hill 4: The Room, police think that the murders are being done by a copycat of the Walter Sullivan case. Take note that the ones you see in the game is the third string of Walter Sullivan copycats. But the real Walter Sullivan is officially dead and buried after he committed suicide in prison years ago. So, who's that mysterious, filthy man that always appears before the murders occur?

  • In The Dragon Doctors, a young woman is trapped in a cave by an evil magic user and forced to use some of her own magic to turn herself to stone. It's revealed that the guy who did so was copying something similar that was done to him earlier; trapping someone in stone and drawing power from their mental anguish. Not exactly a serial killer in the strictest sense, but definitely a serial criminal of some stripe, considering he did this to many people.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in SCP 668, a chef's knife that makes its holder to go on a killing spree and inspires apathy in anyone observing to such a degree they are unable to do anything to help the victims. The incident that brought it to the foundation's attention references a real life murder that helped popularize the idea of the Bystander Effect.

    Western Animation 
  • The Jokerz from Batman Beyond are a street-gang made of people dressed like clowns who use weapons based off of toys and other pranking implements, all to honor the memory of the original Joker. Compared to the Joker, they are nowhere near as big of a threat, but their numbers and criminal activities still require Batman and the police's intervention.
  • Josiah Wormwood in Batman: The Animated Series is a one-time Villain of the Week whose modus operandi is essentially a carbon copy of The Riddler's, as he used rhyming riddles to lure his victims into deathtraps. However, in-universe the Riddler didn't exist yet while he was active, technically making Riddler his copycat.
  • DuckTales (1987) does this with a small time criminal named Jack the Tripper in the episode "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. McDuck. However, this was just the alias for a larger criminal named Professor Moodydoody, who is an homage to Professor Moriarty. Moodydoody used this alias to get under the radar of his nemesis Shetlock Jones.
  • The Family Guy episode "Killer Queen" has a murderer who secretly arranges for Lois' brother, Patrick 'the Fat Guy Strangler', to be released from the mental hospital where he's being treated, then begins murdering using the same method as Patrick (strangling fat guys) in order to focus suspicion on Patrick instead of himself.
  • Played with in the South Park episode "Cartman's Incredible Gift", where a killer murders people and cuts off their left hands. After arresting a suspect (who had nothing to do with it; a "vision" Cartman had was misinterpreted by the detectives), a second murder is discovered...and the detective claims that it is the work of a copycat killer. After another arrest (thanks to another misinterpreted Cartman "vision"), a third murder the detective is now looking for the copycat killer's copycat.
  • Mr. Sinister's origin story in X-Men: The Animated Series, "Descent". Just so we know for sure he's the bad guy.

    Real Life 
  • Peter Sutcliffe aka "The Yorkshire Ripper" was dubbed as a ripoff of the actual Jack the Ripper, having killed 13 and maimed nine women across Britain in the late 1970s.
  • As was Jack The Stripper, who unfortunately was never identified.
  • Other "Ripper" killers include the "Blackout Ripper" (Gordon Cummins), the "Camden Ripper" (Anthony Hardy), the "Ipswich Ripper" (Steven Wright) and the "Rostov Ripper"/"Red Ripper" (Andrei Chikatilo) all of whom broadly followed "Jack's" MO of murdering and mutilating sex workers. Like the above cases, the "Ripper" nickname was bestowed by the media rather than claimed by the killers themselves.
  • Some historians have suggested that the fifth "canonical" Ripper killing was actually the work of another murderer (as it happened some time after the previous four), who then dressed it up to look like a Ripper murder.
  • The New York Zodiac Killer and the Japanese Zodiac Killer.
  • Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, convinced Veronica Compton, one of his groupies, to kill a woman so that the police would "realize" that they had the wrong man in custody. Fortunately, the intended victim was able to get away. Not until the cops revealed to the woman that she was one of several women he had duped like this did she realize how much she'd been set up.
  • John Wayne Gacy based his MO (luring young men to his home, possibly with the help of teenaged accomplices, then handcuffing, raping, and strangling the victims to death) on that of Dean Corll.
  • Ivan Milat's great nephew killed someone using a similar MO.
  • A whole lot of serial killers in fiction, and horrifyingly a few in real life, have drawn their inspiration from Ed Gein.
    • Gein himself was inspired to make lampshades out of human skin after hearing stories of the Nazis doing so.
  • Terror attacks and mass shootings are often the result of the contagion effect; that is, they often spawn copycat incidents.
    • The contagion effect was noted in suicide clusters before being applied to mass shootings.
  • It's often speculated that at least a few kills attributed to the Beast of Gévaudan were actually the result of human murderers wearing wolf skins in imitation of it.
  • John Ausonius, more commonly known as "Lasermannen" (Swedish for "The Laser Man"), was a serial killer known for not only using a lasersight handgun to exclusivly target people of a migrant background in Stockholm as a means of ridding the country of non-Swedes after his attempts at creating a Nazi party in Sweden failed, but also for being the main inspiration of Peter Mangs, another serial killer who was given the same moniker of "Lasermannen" after commiting a string of very similar murders in Malmö with the same motives.

Alternative Title(s): Copycat Crime, Copycat Killer