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Kill and Replace

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Search, destroy... and mimic.

"I have copied all that is you. You are no longer necessary."

A Doppelgänger, shapeshifting being (in a speculative fiction setting), or an identical twin (for more mundane stories) seeks to kill the original and take their place. If they're quick and quiet, nobody will suspect a thing until it's too late.

If the murderer has full-on Voluntary Shapeshifting, this technique may well be employed iteratively to pierce increasing layers of security. Just kill and replace the hapless guard, then the sergeant, then his lieutenant superior...

Fantasy cousin of Twinmaker.note 

Compare Dead Person Impersonation, Mugged for Disguise and Dressing as the Enemy, where the victim at least gets to live, albeit knocked out and half-naked. Replicant Snatching involves a cyborg inhabiting a living host. If the victim is kept alive but restrained, see Capture and Replicate. Contrast Klingon Promotion, where one kills to assume the victim's job. Extreme versions of the Fake King plot tend toward this route as well. One of many reasons you might consider Killing Your Alternate Self. If it's revealed to have already happened, the victim may be an Impersonation-Exclusive Character.

Don't confuse with Replaced with Replica, which involves inanimate objects. Contrast Copied the Morals, Too, where the replacement has at least some of the same personality or moral code that the original did. Clone by Conversion is an inversion, where the killer turns the victim into a copy of themself.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Angel Sanctuary, Arachne is actually an older brother of Kurai (His true name is never revealed) when he discovered his reason for existence was to act as a decoy for the true heir, he faked his death and killed the true Arachne and took his identity. His transvestism is part hiding his true identity, part he actually liked it.
  • In Blood+, Amshel kills Liza while she's in the bathroom and then tosses her naked body out of the moving train they're on. Using his shapeshifting abilities and the clothes he took off Liza's corpse, he's able to pass himself off as her and get closer to Saya.
  • An episode of Boogiepop Phantom has two cops discussing an urban legend about a being called Manticore. At the end, Cop A wonders, just how did Cop B know so much about the Manticore? Cop B shows him.
  • In Claymore, the shapeshifting Youma occasionally do this to continue hunting humans in secret. This is a lie spread by the Organization to hide the Youma's true nature. They are actually parasites born from the flesh of two captured dragon people that jump to new human hosts after burning out their previous hosts. The Youma aren't replacing anyone. They just inflict terrible mutations and Horror Hunger on unlucky humans.
  • The Akuma from D.Gray-Man do this when they kill the person who called them back to life and take their form.
  • Dragon Ball Super: Zamasu did this in an alternate timeline by using the Super Dragon Balls to switch bodies with Goku before killing him. By the time he arrives on Future Trunks' Earth, he's come to insisting that he's the real Son Goku and has adopted many of his mannerisms and combat techniques. The people of Earth, however, simply call him Goku Black.
  • Future Diary:
    • Minene kills a rookie police officer named Natsuko and steals her identity. This later comes back to bite her in the ass when it turns out Natsuko managed to swallow her name tag so that her body could later be identified.
    • It's later revealed Yuno did this to the alternate world version of herself. After she won the Survival Game in her own world and couldn't revive Yukiteru, Yuno went back in time, killed this timeline's version of herself and took her place, all in order to just be with Yukiteru again.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Kira kills Shinobu's husband/Hayato's father Kosaku and steals his identity in order to hide from Josuke. Made heartbreaking after Kira is finally killed, as Hayato can't bring himself to tell his mom that her husband is dead or that the man she's loved recently was an impostor.
  • In The Law of Ueki, Anon eats Robert Haydn and impersonates him.
  • In LBX: Little Battlers eXperience, Yoshimitsu Kaidou was killed towards the end of episode 24 after he fired Eiji from the Innovators. When Rina tries to kill him in episode 27, it's revealed to the audience that Kaidou was killed and replaced with an android replica of him instead. Jin catches on around episode 38, but the culprit turned out to be Lex.
  • In Metroid (Manga), the Chozo concealed the existence of the X Parasite (a fast-reproducing organism which can kill and replace any creature with perfect accuracy) from the Galactic Federation because they feared that corrupt elements within the Federation would try to weaponize it. Considering this is exactly what happens in Metroid Fusion when the existence of the X Parasite is exposed and someone in the Federation is conspiring to capture said parasite to turn into a weapon, they're not wrong.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: PLANT Chairman Gilbert Durandal sends out task force of Coordinator soldiers to assassinate Lacus Clyne, but they were stopped by the intervention of Kira Yamato who disabled all of their mobile suits with his Freedom suit. The pilots then all killed themselves by self-destructing their mobile suits. Durandal sent them to kill Lacus so that he could replace her with his minion Meer Campbell who was dressing like her and thus make the public believe she was really Lacus, in order for them to more readily accept her propaganda on behalf of Durandal.
  • Done at two points in MW. Early on, Michio kills his boss' daughter and then assumes her identity as part of a complex plot to frame her for a robbery, leaving her father disgraced. He later does this to his own wife once he realizes She Knows Too Much.
  • This is Himiko Toga's M.O. in My Hero Academia; fall in lust with some poor sod, brutally murder them, and then drink their blood so she can impersonate them with her Quirk. She expresses desire to do this to the Hero Killer Stain, though there are hints she wants to do this to either Midorya or Uraraka.
  • My Monster Secret: In Chapter 160, Future Aizawa declares that she wants to kill and replace her past self.
  • In Naruto, Orochimaru manipulated the Fourth Kazekage into sending his shinobi to attack Konoha. Orochimaru then killed the Kazekage and used his appearance to get close to the Third Hokage. Orochimaru and his men also infiltrated the Chunin Exam by killing three of the applicants and stealing their identities.
  • In Ninja Scroll, Big Bad Genma killed and replaced Sakaki Hyobu the leader of the Mochizuki clan and Kagero's boss. He takes advantage of this to fatally stab Kagero before revealing himself.
  • Parasyte: The anime/manga in a nutshell. The parasytes take over people's lives and influential job positions.
  • Sailor Moon
    • In the Dark Kindom Arc, a Brainwashed and Crazy Mamoru disintegrates Motoki's friend Endou, and then brainwashes Motoki into thinking Mamoru's the same friend. In an interesting variant, Mamoru in no way tries to disguise himself to look like the friend. He only needed an excuse to hang around and befriend Usagi so as to try to steal the Silver Crystal from her, and Usagi herself had no idea what the owner's friends look like (the owner's girlfriend, on the other hand, did realize Mamoru and the friend weren't the same person, but she thought he was just another friend who happened to have the same name).
    • Then during the Black Moon Clan Arc, Petz organizes Operation Renew which involves spreading a deadly virus onto the city of Tokyo that would kill the general populace so she can send an army of Droids to replace them and change the future in the name of her Clan.
  • Scumbag Loser: The monsters' main activity. They target people that are troublesome, dirty, or otherwise "losers", and eat them, which somehow creates an "improved" copy of them, cleaning themselves up and becoming more polite. Disturbingly, the targets' families prefer the monster impersonating them because of this.
  • In Summer Time Rendering, the life cycle of a shadow is as follows: Turn into a perfect clone of a human, kill and consume the human within seven days, live out the human's entire life as if nothing happened, pretend to "die" with the assistance of the Hishigata Clinic, find a new target, rinse and repeat.
  • This is implied in Triage X when Detectives Tatara and Suzue find out that one of their own is not a police officer. The real detective was possibly killed by Syringe agents in order to insert their own agent and pose as a police officer.
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne, a shape-shifter does this to a hypnotist in order to infiltrate a prison and extract information from Hitomi and Co., who are imprisoned. He does this again later, this time to a Zaibach Guymelef pilot... who just happens to be one of Dilandau's subordinates. It backfires HORRIBLY.
  • Subverted in Wicked City. A demonic spider woman apparently kills the Aloof Dark-Haired Girl that Taki Renzaburou has been trying to seduce for the last three months. She takes the woman's form and invites him over to her place so she can obtain his sperm. However, she later admits that she just rendered the woman unconscious instead of killing her.
  • In Yatterman Night, this is revealed to be the shocking fates of Gan and Ai. The one time Dokurobei defeats them, he flat out kills them and creates a dystopia in their name to destroy their reputations.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Adam Strange: Planet Heist miniseries a Durlan kills Doc of the Omega Men and takes his place, waiting for the right time to strike.
  • The Avengers: During the "Scourge of the Underworld" plotline running through Marvel's comics, the Melter is monologuing about his latest evil plan to his henchman, only to open his equipment locker to find his henchman stuffed in there, at which point the Scourge shoots him dead.
  • Batman:
    • Jane Doe in the Batman universe is an insane serial killer who has this as her MO — she kills people and wears their skins, honestly believing herself to be that person, until she is either found out or breaks out of the identity to find another victim.
    • In Detective Comics #833-834, written by Paul Dini, The Joker killed a goth stage magician named Loxias and assumed his identity, planning to murder the audience at one of his shows.
    • Batman: Black and White: In "Fortunes", a woman murders her identical twin sister and takes her place, planning to collect on her own life insurance.
    • In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, Ruth and the Elites' plan was for Azrael to quietly kill Bruce Wayne and take his place as Batman. She's quite miffed when he instead goes rogue and causes a major scene by killing Gordon.
  • One woman in Black Science uses dimension-hopping to find a version of herself with a happy family life, then murder her clone and step into that life.
  • In the New 52 Blue Beetle series, Paco becomes Blood Beetle when the Scarab fragment inside him takes control of his body to carry out its Scarab Replacement Protocol on Blue Beetle.
  • A unique variant in The Button. Dr. Manhattan revives the pre-Flashpoint Professor Zoom and merges him with the New 52 incarnation — except the former's memories and powers have overwritten the latter's, essentially meaning Eobard Thawne unwittingly manages to pull this with himself.
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #21, the Nazis use Magic Plastic Surgery to create doubles of all the spotters manning the watchtowers near Atlantic City, including Gravedigger's childhood friend Rupert Johnson. The kill all the spotters and replace them with doubles to allow an invasion force to land unnoticed. Additionally, they plan to kill Johnson, replace him with his double, and then have the double assassinate Gravedigger.
  • Diabolik:
    • The titular villain's original modus operandi was to kill the man he was going to replace and then make a mask with his face. Nowadays he prefers kidnapping, but will resort to it again if he doesn't have the means to hold the victim.
    • Among the many replacements, Walter Dorian deserves a special place for three reasons: Diabolik entered the series with his identity; as they looked completely identical, Diabolik did not need a mask; Walter Dorian survived but was held prisoner by a third party for completely unrelated reasons, and was not amused when he got free and was told what had happened.
    • Another victim who deserves a special place is George Caron, the secretary to the Minister of Justice and Eva's earliest known Stalker with a Crush, as it was Eva who came up with the idea: Diabolik had been arrested, tried and sentenced to death, so Eva, who had just become his lover, managed to swap the two with the intention of a drugged-up Caron getting executed in Diabolik's place and Diabolik marrying her with his identity. They would have got away with it, had Ginko, who was witnessing the execution to make sure Diabolik died, not noticed that 'Diabolik' was acting like a drugged person and realized the switch just as the executioner released the guillotine's blade...
    • Subverted with the Minister of Justice: as part of his most elaborate plan to fake his death yet, Diabolik kidnapped and replaced him and had the Minister arrested while disguised as Diabolik, with the intention of having him executed in his place. Thankfully, Ginko noticed the switch in time to save him...
  • Doctor Strange: Stephen Strange's second encounter with Shuma-Gorath had an interesting version, where Shuma's curse meant that Strange would be forced to do this if he ended up killing him - Shuma's evil nature would infect him and turn him into a copy of the monster, just as evil and powerful as the original. On the other hand, he couldn't let Shuma live either, as he was threatening to destroy all reality. Strange got around this by psychically destroying his own ego after killing Shuma (something he eventually recovered from, of course).
  • Druuna: Carnivora revolves around a malevolent Hive Mind lifeform infecting the crew of a ship travelling in deep space and replacing them with replicants that are so real that they forgot that they were even fakes.
  • Gold Digger: The Gaoblin are an interstellar race who have killed and replaced four entire species: the trolls, the elves, the Atlanteans, and the Kryn. The "new" versions did such a thorough job, and continued the originals' culture so well, that the change had been lost to history for millennia.
  • JLA (1997): The villain Prometheus once attempted to destroy the Justice League by infiltrating their base by killing and disguising himself as novice superhero Retro.
  • Kid Colt (2009): Colt kills Bounty Hunter Sherman Wilks, the main antagonist of the series, in a Quick Draw duel. Colt's sidekick Hawk then briefly replaces Wilks, handing in the faceless corpse and claiming it's Colt's, so that they can claim the bounty Wilks was owed. Wilks’ fearsome reputation means he's not challenged too closely.
  • In RASL, traveling to another universe will subsume the version of you that exists there, effectively killing them as you take their place.
  • Rick and Morty (Oni): Summer of Dimension C-132 attempts to do this to a popular alternate version of herself, though thankfully she doesn't succeed.''
  • ROM: Spaceknight: The female Dire Wraiths used their drill-like tongues to eat the victim's brains and gain their memories. Most shockingly, they ended up doing the "murder and then use shape-shifting abilities to impersonate victim" routine on Brandy Clark's parents, Brandy's fiancé Steve Jackson and Brock Jones/The Torpedo (a superhero who made it his duty to defend the people of Clairton from Dire Wraiths when Rom was busy combating Dire Wraiths elsewhere).
  • Secret Avengers. The Third Ant-Man is killed during a mission and the bad guys send a Life Model Decoy back in his place to infiltrate the Avengers.
  • Spider-Man:
    • During the story arc Kraven's Last Hunt, Kraven the Hunter seemingly kills Spider-Man, and then proceeds to use the costume of the hero to prove himself a better vigilante. Spider-Man is revealed alive as he had been merely drugged, and confronts Kraven before the villain commits suicide.
    • And then during the Superior Spider Man comic series. Previously, Dr. Octopus had swapped bodies with Spider-Man, leaving the hero to die trapped in Ock's broken body and leaving the villain in a healthy, heroic body with no one realizing anything. Doc Ock uses his new life to constantly try to prove himself a superior Spider-Man, all while wrestling with the remnants of Peter's mind that take issue with how Otto's running things. In the end of the series, Otto realizes Parker was better than him and lets him take control of his body once more.
    • Chameleon does this as well. Similar to Jane Doe, he kidnaps and kills people and then spends a day living their lives.
    • Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy: When Peter rejects Ben's offers and Ben sics the villains after him, Peter realizes why Ben kept the brown hair — he had every intention of replacing Peter if he didn't join him.
  • Superman:
    • One story sees an assassin magically altered to look like Jimmy Olsen, intent on killing the real deal and taking his identity for his boss. When Bibbo proves to be a Spanner in the Works and helps Jimmy fight the killer off, things get inverted when the assassin commits suicide, forcing Jimmy to take on the killer's identity and find out why he was made a target.
    • In Demon Spawn, Nightflame's plan is to destroy Supergirl's soul and take over her body.
    • Subverted in The Unknown Supergirl: Lesla-Lar replaces Supergirl after getting rid of her; but rather than killing Kara, Lesla dumps her into an alien city after brainwashing her into believing she's Lesla herself.
    • In The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, Lesla-Lar tries the same scheme, kidnapping, mindwiping and replacing Supergirl's friend Lena Thorul.
    • The Life Story of Superman: Lex Luthor swaps Superman with a clone without anybody noticing, but Superman escapes from his trap before Luthor can kill him and beats his doppelganger.
    • Subverted by Chameleon Boy (Reep Daggle) of the Legion of Super-Heroes. As a Legionnaire with the power to duplicate any being or object, he has been known to replace people in infiltration missions. However, Legionnaires have a strict Thou Shall Not Kill policy for their members.
    • The Earthwar Saga: After sneaking into a ship of the Resource Raiders, Chameleon Boy knocks one of them out and transforms himself into his beaten enemy to spy around.
    • Supergirl's Greatest Challenge: A band of alien invaders called the Chameleon Gang knock the Legion out and shape-shift into the Legionnaires to impersonate them. However, Supergirl manages to unmask and capture them before they get to kill the real Legion.
  • Part of Zarda's "new beginning" in Supreme Power involves her killing a woman named Claire and assuming her identity.
  • In the Transformers/G.I. Joe miniseries by Dreamwave, Zartan kills Breaker and usurps his identity to infiltrate the Joes.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): A criminal who was written out of the family will kills and impersonates his own brother in order to get the inheritance he wants.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Doctor Psycho kills Matthew Fallon and dumps his corpse in the Hudson River, then uses his psychic abilities to pretend to be Fallon in order to hide from the authorities and prey on Leslie Anderson.
    • Wonder Woman (2006): The obnoxious producer behind the very distasteful production of Wonder Woman that Diana is invited to visit the set of turns out to have been murdered and replaced by The Queen of Fables.
  • X-Men:
    • Excalibur:
      • Courtney Ross was murdered and replaced by her other-dimensional double Sat-Yr-9.
      • The Warwolves occasionally replaced the human they had drained the life essence of by wearing their skins and duplicating their voices. They usually saved the intact skins of their victims to blend in with the population to aid in their hunt for prey and/or finding their assigned targets.
    • Mystique sometimes does this, though she often just ties them up or knocks them unconscious instead. For instance, the 1993 Sabretooth mini-series revealed that she had killed and assumed the identity of a female German operative named Leni Zauber during the Cold War; it was in this guise that she had sex with Sabretooth and conceived Graydon Creed.
    • Mister Sinister did this to Kate Kildare, the team's PR specialist.
    • Apocalypse had Tsuyoi, a friend of Namor's, killed so that he could steal the man's identity in order to get close to the Submariner.
    • Extermination (2018) saw Cable killed by his time-traveling teenaged self. "Kid Cable" has since taken up residence on Earth-616.
    • X-Factor (2006): An evil alternate Reed Richards from an Mirror Universe tries to kill and replace the real Reed, and then he tries to ally himself with Doctor Doom.
    • Uncanny X-Men (2013): Or "Drug and Replace" in this case: Mystique has taken over Dazzler's role within S.H.I.E.L.D. without them knowing it. She's been locked up and kept sedated so Mystique can use her blood.

    Comic Strips 

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • This is what Holographic Retro intended to do with the Calvin clone in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series.
  • Subverted in the pony fanfic Envy and Arrogance - the shapeshifter insists that he only did the "replace" part (taking the role of the ill girl after she died) but he is still treated like a murderer. This proves pivotal to the plot as it turns out most of it was engineered with the goal of traumatizing him to the point that he will stop resisting possession, giving the Big Bad a shapeshifting body.
  • Infinity Train: Boiling Point: This is the crutch of Hazel's plan: Kill Hazel Hughes, who looks identical to her, and take over her spot on the Apex to get closer to Amelia.
  • In chapter 8 of Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja, Naruto, Kakashi and their new teammate Keiji henge into 3 Sound ninjas they killed to infiltrate Orochimaru's base, getting Sakura in by pretending she's a prisoner.
  • Played for dark humor in a fan comic explaining how Sunset Shimmer doesn't have a double.
  • The last act of Teen Titans: Witch-Hunt reveals Circe had murdered Peitho, the Amazons' soothsayer, and taken on her likeness with magic to sow dissent and drive Themiscyra into chaos. This began months before putting the rest of her plan into action.
  • The Wrong Reflection: Defied. In chapter 5 the possibility of Dal Kanril Eleya, a Klingon-Cardassian Alliance officer from the mirror universe, replacing Captain Kanril Eleya a la "Mirror, Mirror" is brought up and immediately discarded. Eleya has prominent scars that her counterpart doesn't, is a centimeter taller, and her counterpart was raised mostly Cardassian and her thought patterns are different enough to be a giveaway to Chief Corpsman Watkins, an empath.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The final twist of Asylum (1972 Horror) is that none of the patients is Dr. Starr — he's actually assumed the identity of the orderly Max, who he strangled to death and hid in Max's office.
  • In The Black Room, Gregor abdicates the barony in favour of his twin brother Anton, then murders Anton assumes his identity to continue being baron while enjoying Anton's greater popularity.
  • In Captain America: Civil War, part of Helmut Zemo's plan to destroy the Avengers involves him killing a psychiatrist and stealing the man's identity.
  • Discussed in Collateral when the police wrongly assume that cabbie Max Durocher is the Professional Killer they are looking for, not Vincent (who has forced Max to pose as him). They think that the hitman has selected a cab driver who looks like himself, then killed him for his identity and vehicle.
  • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Scarlet Witch's Evil Plan is to perform a Targeted Human Sacrifice on America Chavez in order to escape to an Alternate Universe and do this to one of her parallel selves so she can have the family she never got.
  • A mundane version occurs in Firefox. Clint Eastwood's character is infiltrated into the Soviet Union posing as a known heroin smuggler. He meets up with La Résistance and it told to swap clothes with another man (apparently the smuggler he's posing as) who to his horror in then beaten to death. However this doesn't fool the KGB for long.
  • Force 10 from Navarone. Two of the Chetnik soldiers have their faces masked to hide the Facial Horror of their flamethrower burns. Our heroes kill them and go to steal their uniforms, only to find their faces are completely normal. Turns out they've just killed two Partisan spies who replaced the originals. Oops!
  • In Futureworld, the sequel to Westworld, clones are programmed with the knowledge of their original and ordered to kill them and take their places.
  • In GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra, Cobra Commander plans to have Master of Disguise Zartan murder the president and take his place. Semi-subverted in Retaliation. Zartan only replaces the President, but doesn't kill him. He was needed for retinal scanning to authorize the Cobra football.
  • Hollow Triumph: Criminal on the run Johnny Muller encounters Identical Stranger psychiatrist Dr. Victor Bartok and kills him and takes over his life.
  • In Impostor, Dr. Spencer Olham is accused of being an alien biorobot who has killed and replaced the scientist. They plan to prove themselves right by cutting him open to look for a biological bomb. He escapes and spends the rest of the movie trying to prove them wrong. They're right. Both he and his wife have been killed and replaced with the dopplegangers taking on the originals' memories. When he finds out the truth, the bomb in his chest explodes.
  • The part-Energy Being aliens in the Interceptor Force TV films can do that. Sometimes, they will appear as a friendly just for kicks, despite the fact that the protagonist is already aware his real friend is dead. In the second film, this results in the protagonist's friend's death, when another character thinks he's been replaced and shoots an "anti-alien" gun at him, which kills humans just as well. The character ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice, thus earning her Death Equals Redemption, by willingly diving into a flooded reactor room to shut down the nukes places there by the alien, knowing that a horrible death from radiation exposure awaited her.
  • The "pod people" in Invasion of the Body Snatchers do this in the 1956, 1978, and 1993 versions of the story via Replicant Snatching. (The 2007 version has them behave more like Puppeteer Parasites, with the process turning out to be reversible.)
  • James Bond:
    • From Russia with Love: Red Grant intercepts Bond's contact Captain Nash, kills him and impersonates him.
    • Thunderball: SPECTRE uses plastic surgery to alter one of their henchmen, Angelo, to look like French military pilot Francois Derval. Angelo studies Derval for two years so he can pass for him, then murders him and takes his place aboard a NATO bomber with two nuclear bombs aboard. He kills the rest of the crew, flies the plane to the Bahamas and ditches it in the ocean so SPECTRE can steal the bombs.
    • Diamonds Are Forever: Bond impersonates diamond smuggler Peter Franks. When the real Franks shows up, Bond kills him and carries on his part in the operation.
    • GoldenEye: Part of Janus' scheme to steal the Goldeneye involves Xenia seducing and killing an admiral so that Ouromov can use his identity to get on the frigate where the Tiger helicopter is, then Xenia killing the pilots and taking their place so they can steal the helicopter.
    • The World Is Not Enough: Renard executes Dr. Arkov and has Davidov impersonate him for the rest of their mission. Then Bond kills Davidov and takes his place.
    • Quantum of Solace: After killing Edmund Slate, Bond takes his place. This leads him to Camille, whom Slate was hired by Dominic Greene to kill, though Bond didn't know this.
  • In Krull, a shapeshifter kills one of the hero's companions and takes his victim's place to get close to the hero and kill him.
  • In The Last Starfighter, an alien Zandozan assassin does this to a local law enforcement officer in order to blend in with the human population. After we see this we realize that the other Zandozan we saw in human form earlier must have done it to some unlucky human off screen.
  • In The Mad Magician, Gallico murders Ormond in a fit of rage, and then uses his Master of Disguise abilities to impersonate Ormond so no one will know he is dead. However, after he murders his ex-wife Claire while disguised as Ormond, he has to abandon the Ormond identity as the police now want Ormond for Claire's murder. He then murders The Great Rinaldi and assumes his identity; even performing magic shows in Rinaldi's stead.
  • The Bug does this to Edgar in Men in Black by skinning him and donning his "nice new Edgar suit".
  • Our Man Flint: Just before Flint leaves on his mission he discovers that three ZOWIE guards have been killed and replaced by Galaxy agents who have been changed to look like the victims by plastic surgery.
  • In Scream 4, Jill, this film's Ghostface killer, stages her killing spree and tries to kill her cousin Sidney with the intent of acquiring the same 15 Minutes of Fame that Sidney got from surviving the events of the last three films. This is also the main theme of the story on a meta level (as befits a franchise dripping in Postmodernism); the film was heavily satirizing remakes and reboots of popular horror films, and in the end, Ghostface's plot amounts to the remake (Jill, presented as the new version of Sidney before The Reveal) trying to kill and replace the original. Sidney's Bond One-Liner to Ghostface at the end makes it apparent.
    Sidney: "You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don't fuck with the original."
  • Screamers has a plot of self-improving robots developed to fight a war getting more and more advanced until they Kill All Humans regardless of their side. In order to infiltrate the bunkers where the human soldiers are holed up, They Look Like Us Now and so this trope comes into play. Just as he's about to escape the planet, Colonel Hendricksson is attacked by a human Screamer, his best friend who proceeds to taunt Hendricksson with dialogue they exchanged at the start of the movie, implying that he'd been replaced by a Killer Robot before the events of the film even started. Averted in Screamers: The Hunting however, where the characters barely have time to say This Cannot Be! as No One Could Survive That! before their former buddy is chewing on their face.
  • This forms part of Moriarty's plan in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, with plastic surgery involved for the "replace" part.
  • In Star Trek: Nemesis, Shinzon's backstory was he was a clone of Captain Picard who was created by the Romulans to kill and replace Picard, serving as a mole in the Federation. However, the mission was scrapped, and Shinzon was sent to the mines of Remus.
  • In Stripped to Kill, Eric murders his sister Roxanne and assumes her identity.
  • Terminator:
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The T-1000 does this several times, it being his standard M.O. to kill a victim and copy their appearance/voice: John Connor's foster mother, a security guard in the insane asylum where Sarah Connor was being held and, very nearly, Sarah herself and partially succeeds with Sarah in the climax, but John sees through it. Also used partially in the first film, where the T-800 kills and impersonates the voice of a cop as well as Sarah's mom.
    • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: The T-X does this to Kate's fiancé Scott Mason. When she brings up that the T-X took his form, the T-850 immediately tells her that Scott is dead.
  • The title creature in The Thing (1982) is a cross between Kill and Replace and Puppeteer Parasite. It infects a host, slowly replacing them from the inside out until none of the original remains, becoming just the form of a new "colony" of Thing cells.
  • The goal of the Tethered in Us.
  • In The Visit, two kids are sent to stay with their grandparents while their mother is on vacation. In reality, the people they're staying with are not their grandparents, but two escaped mental hospital patients who had killed the grandparents and taken their places.
  • The doppleganger's standard M.O in The World's End.
  • Mystique does this several times (most notably to Henry Gyrich and Senator Robert Kelly) in the X-Men Film Series. (Though in Kelly's case, this was more of a Dead Person Impersonation; he died in a completely unrelated accident, and Mystique only stole his identity after the fact).


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By Work:

  • Animorphs: David rips Rachel and Jake's critically injured cousin Saddler out of life support, hides his body, and morphs him so he can have a temporary home. He tries to downplay his horrible deed by saying that Saddler would have died anyway even with medical attention (his condition was that bad). It doesn't work. From that point on, both the narrative and the Animorphs lose all sympathy for David and don't see him as anything but a villain.
  • Autumn Visits: Six people find themselves face-to-face with the Envoys, who look just like them. Five of them (Kindness, Knowledge, Art, Strength, and Growth) cooperate with the originals, while the Envoy of Power simply shoots the politician he is duplicating with his own gun and takes his place. When later asked why, he simply replies that, while the other Forces only grow stronger with numbers, Power must be concentrated and never shared.
  • Bimbos of the Death Sun has a Red Herring scene where someone starts screaming bloody murder; it turns out to be a game of Dungeons & Dragons where one player murdered another just before his wedding and used a shapeshifting amulet to take his place.
  • In BioShock: Rapture, it's revealed that the character that players of the game know as "Frank Fontaine" actually murdered the real Frank Fontaine in order to take over his fishing business and gain access to Rapture. Though "Fontaine's" real first name is indeed "Frank" (which he lampshades), his real last name is never revealed (it's even mentioned that only a handful of people in the world know it).
  • Black Man: A Super-Soldier ditches a spacecraft in the ocean and goes on a killing rampage on Earth. No one can figure out how he escaped the crash before the response team arrived — that is, until a weighed-down body is found under the sea, and the investigators are belatedly informed that a member of the response team has been missing for some time.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Nightmares: The Fat Man kills people who come to his house for any reason and replaces them with puppet versions of them who are all perpetually grouchy.
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: The main character Charles Dexter Ward uses arcane knowledge left by his infamous identical great-great-grandfather to revive him. The revived ancestor proceeds to Kill And Replace him. The identical grandfather is lampshaded in the story with mentions of how uncanny their resemblance is.
  • A Chorus of Dragons: Mimics must kill and consume people in order to learn to take their shapes, and often use this trick to impersonate their targets after disposing of them in order to infiltrate organizations or get closer to further marks.
  • The Culture: Horza, the main character in Consider Phlebas, is a member of a human subspecies called Changers, who have biological faculties that allow them to take on the appearance of other humanoids (although it takes a lot of concentration and food to complete a change). Horza in particular has been trained as a spy, so he also keenly observes his targets so that when he kills and replaces them he copies not only their appearance but their personality and mannerisms. Sadly, his otherwise perfect cover is blown twice when an enemy spy shows up.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • Eighth Doctor Adventures:
      • One story arc contains a kind of inversion, where the copy is killed in order to have them replace the dead original. Sort of. So... Fitz gets separated from the rest of the characters, taken to the future against his will, for lack of anything better to do joins up with this group where if a member dies, they use this biomass stuff which is turned into the person based on what the other members remember about him or her. Unfortunately, the process is imperfect and anyway there is all kinds of other weirdness, so when Fitz turns up again, you wouldn't even believe he and the new version were brothers just looking at them, acts somewhat differently although some characters mention that he seems familiar, and has almost none of his memories. So they use the "remembering" process to turn the messed-up copy of Fitz into almost the same person Fitz was before. Fitz could be happier with this arrangement.
      • Also done with a whole different twist: a Creepy Child is traveling across The Multiverse, giving people's unhappy Alternate Universe counterparts the opportunity to replace happier versions of themselves, thoroughly subverting Expendable Alternate Universe along the way.
    • It comes up in the Virgin story Love and War, where it's revealed the Seventh Doctor triggered his previous incarnation's regeneration as he felt the time had come for him to appear, as he was more ruthless and thought himself better suited to fight the evil of the Universe.
  • "A Double-Dyed Deceiver", a story by O. Henry, has this as its plot twist. The Llano Kid, the main character, goes to an unnamed island after killing a man in a bar fight and being forced to leave town, and gets involved in a plot with the US Consul there to rob a rich man's safe by posing as the man's missing son. He takes the son's place and gets a tattoo on his hand that the son also had - and at the end of the story, he reneges on the plot for two reasons. Firstly, he comes to genuinely love his 'mother'. Secondly, the man he killed in the bar fight was the grieving couple's missing son. How did he know this? Because of the tattoo on the man's hand.
  • Dune had Bene Tleilax Face Dancers, shape-shifters who absorb their victim's memories and physical identity and then kill them. This is far from being the creepiest aspect of the Bene Tleilax. It plays a major role in the plot against Paul in Dune Messiah, the attacks on Leto II and the Ixian Embassy in God-Emperor of Dune and several infiltrations in Heretics of Dune.
  • In Empire from the Ashes, Dahak destroyed our original Moon and took its place.
  • The Executioner. In "Panic in Philly", Mack Bolan kills a Professional Killer who's been sent after him, then uses that man's identity to infiltrate a Mafia family. Not only that, he dresses the body in his notorious blacksuit and pretends it's him. Thanks to the use of Magic Plastic Surgery by both Bolan and the mob's hitmen, it's not necessary for the two to look like each other.
  • One of the big twists in Gideon the Ninth: Dulcinea Septimus never made it to Canaan House, and was killed and replaced shortly before the events of the story (so that her murderer could infiltrate the trials and start killing everyone else, including the Emperor when he arrived to investigate the aftermath). In this case, it's because they looked almost the same, given that the Seventh House deliberately keeps its nobility genetically similar.
  • Subverted in a surprisingly cruel fashion in Good Night, Mr. James, which even the author admitted was a little vicious. Rather than risk his own life killing the alien he accidentally released, a scientist makes a duplicate of himself to kill it, with plans to kill the duplicate afterwards. The duplicate succeeds in killing him, but finds out immediately afterwards that he was poisoned and there's no antidote.
  • The climax of The Grimrose Girls reveals that, prior to the start of the book, Penelope was killed and replaced in accordance with her assigned fairy tale. The replacement is the main villain of the first novel.
  • "The Hanging Stranger" by Philip K. Dick featured a man who had been working in his basement for days emerging and heading into town, only to spot a body hanging by a noose from a lamppost in the middle of the town square. He starts freaking out, mainly because nobody else seems to notice or care. It quickly becomes apparent that something has infected or replaced almost everyone else in town as the opening of a secret invasion. The guy eludes a manhunt, desperately trying to get to the next town over to warn them before it's too late. The story ends as he is being debriefed by the police of the neighboring town about his story. Just as it dawns on him that the corpse in the town square must have been a trap to get people like him (those missed for whatever reason during the wave of Kill And Replace) to out themselves by their reactions, one of the policemen walks in with a noose all ready for him...
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort's pet snake Nagini kills Bathilda Bagshot and animates her body from inside her corpse as a trap for Harry & Co.
    • The Polyjuice potion is a less heinous form of this. It's used to replace someone, but whoever you're impersonating has to be alive when you take their hair or other part, so you have to keep them alive if you want to look like them for more than an hour. In practice, it's Capture And Replace.
  • In Kurt Steel's The Imposter a group of Nazi agents intend to do this to the main character, who runs an airplane factory, but they fail when a separate group of agents whose intentions are merely to kill him ends up killing the double instead.
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries:
    • In Pampered to Death, it's revealed that "Cathy" (real name Lorraine Sandoval) was actually using the identity and credit cards of her cousin, and did so by murdering her. Apparently, they weren't that close.
    • In Death of a Gigolo, Jaine discovers that the Daisy Kincaid she knows is actually the companion of the real Daisy Kincaid, and the real one is the one who died on the nature walk. The companion, Emma Shimmel, murdered the reclusive Daisy in order to take over her life and fortune.
  • In John Dies at the End, the main characters gradually learn that part of the reason so much weirdness is going on around them is because Korrok, the ruler of another dimension is preparing an invasion of our dimension by killing people and inserting copies of them from its own dimension to take their place. These copies tend to be pretty bad at pretending to be normal, however, because the dimensions are so different from each other that they have trouble playing their role. There is one notable exception however; the copy of Dave, one of the two main characters is so good that he slides seamlessly into the original's life after replacing him. This particular copy is so good that it turns out to be a case of Copied the Morals, Too, and it actually works against Korrok and helps defeat him.
  • Kull: This is the method of the Serpent People. First they impersonate humans using magical illusions and then replace them with their own people permanently, taking over entire kingdoms doing so. Kull nearly succumbs to an attempt at this in "The Shadow Kingdom".
  • In The Licanius Trilogy, a shapeshifter can only take the shapes of those whom they have personally killed.
  • A Ray Bradbury story, "Marionettes, Inc.", where a man buys a robot double to please his wife so he has more time to have fun. Eventually when he tries to put the robot back in the box after realizing the robot has fallen in love with his wife, the robot puts him in the box where he presumably dies.
  • Kandra do this in Mistborn, though in an odd variation, they are bound by Thou Shalt Not Kill — their employers must provide the corpse. Whether or not they participate in the Cold-Blooded Torture that generally goes on first (in order to root out any secrets necessary to make the impersonation successful) isn't mentioned. In the second book one kandra does this to another, which is naturally highly effective as the kandra almost never display their real personality or appearance anyway. In this case the kandra does the killing itself, believing the rule only applies to humans (his superiors end up disagreeing vehemently).
  • Inverted in the Hiroshi Sakurazaka short story "Respawn", in which the protagonist is killed by a robber, and then finds his consciousness has overwritten the killer's. Nobody believes him, so he's sent to prison, where his new body is murdered by a yakuza, who he then becomes. This happens several more times, and even when he tries simply killing himself, he just appears in a bystander's body.
  • A common tactic of the shape-changers in The Riddle Master Trilogy.
  • In the Rings of the Master mega-novel by Jack Chalker, one of the key pieces in the scheme to overthrow Master System is the creature called "the Vulture": an artificial lifeform that can merge with any living human and take on that person's physical form and personality, so perfectly that it can pass any test and even fool his friends and co-workers.
  • Rules For Vanishing: Creatures called 'Echoes' lead people off the road in the darkness and then impersonate them. This happens to Vanessa.
  • The Saga of Bósi and Herraud: When Bósi and Herraud reach the realm of King Godmund with the purpose of stopping Siggeir's wedding with Herraud's bride Hleid, they learn that their arrival is expected and that the hall where the wedding is to take place is strongly guarded. Bósi and Herraud contrive to ambush and kill King Godmund's advisor Sigurd and his servant as they are going to the royal hall and then flay the bodies. Bósi then puts on Sigurd's clothes, and Bósi's magically skilled brother Smid puts the skin of Sigurd's face on Bósi, while he himself puts on the clothes and the face of Sigurd's servant in the same way. Posing as Sigurd and his servant, Bósi and Smid can easily get into the royal hall and aid Herraud in carrying off Hleid, and a lot of loot besides.
  • Sherlock Holmes
    • One of the many, many Epileptic Trees regarding The Final Problem states that Moriarty killed Holmes at Reichenbach Falls and then took his place. How did Watson not pick up on this? The same reason Valley of Fear doesn't quite gel with previous accounts: Moriarty totally befuddled his wits. And where did all the subsequent short stories come from? Well, it turns out that Holmes' usual schtick was actually a pretty appealing way for Moriarty to use all that brainpower. Just ever-so-slightly more evil about it. (Sad part? There are a lot of Holmesian scholars crazier than this.)
    • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not: In "Curtain Call", Dr. Johann Faustus kills and Dr. Hieronymus Mabuse and assumes his identity as part of his plan to take control of London's underworld.
    • In the Dr. Watson novels by Robert Ryan, an American journalist during World War One gets a tip off from a Dutch film cameraman about secret goings-on in a small British village. He turns up at the village and starts nosing around, and it's several chapters before the reveal that he's actually a German spy, who killed the American and took his identity because that would make it easier to operate in wartime Britain than his previous Dutch identity.
  • The Silmarillion: Used twice in the chapter "Of Beren and Luthien":
    • As Beren, Finrod, and their companions journey to Angband with the intent to retrieve a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth, they come upon a band of Orcs and kill all of them. They take the Orcs' weapons, and Finrod casts a spell that makes them assume the appearance of the Orcs they killed. In this disguise they travel far into Morgoth's territory, but arouse the suspicion of Sauron when they pass by the watchtower of Tol-in-Gaurhoth without reporting back to him.
    • As Luthien and Huan follow Beren who is once again trying to get into Angband, Huan stops at the ruins of Sauron's watchtower to pick up the skins of the werewolf Draugluin (whom Huan had killed earlier) and the vampire bat Thuringwethil (who was presumably killed when Luthien made the tower collapse). On the advice of Huan and with Luthien's magic, Beren and Luthien use the skins to disguise themselves as Draugluin and Thuringwethil, and thus reach the Gate of Angband.
  • Simon Ark: In "The Mummy from the Sea", the murderer kills his brother and assumes his identity, taking advantage of the strong family resemblance: deliberately misidentifying the body when called in by the police.
  • The Breen-controlled androids in Star Trek: Cold Equations book two, which take on the forms of Siro Kinshal and Esperanza Piñiero.
  • Star Wars Legends: Galaxy of Fear: The Planet Plague: Another case of Capture and Replace. The real Doctor Kavafi was imprisoned for months so a villainous Shi'ido could replace him but still call on what he knew.
  • In Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives and its 1975 film adaptation (though not in the 2004 remake), the Men's Association in Stepford is doing this to their wives, replacing them with docile robot servants who won't threaten their status by doing such "uppity" things like getting jobs or showing interest in the women's movement.
  • Sweet Valley High:
    • The Evil Twin was about a psychotic woman, Margo, who happened to look just like the Wakefield twins. She planned to kill Elizabeth and take her place. Then, in Return of the Evil Twin, Margo turned out to have a twin, Nora, also psychotic. This time Margo and Nora planned to take over the lives of both twins, but their plans went awry when they argued over who got to become Jessica.
    • Another book is based around a woman trying to abduct Alice Wakefield, "steal" her face by way of impossible technology and then kill and replace her as revenge for being bullied by Alice and her friends when they were at school.
  • Twig: The Bad Seeds are clones of children of powerful figures that replace them when fully grown and trained, at which point they carry out a Murder-Suicide. The real children are sold to the Mad Scientist black market, where they are presumably used for spare parts.
  • Thousand Sons: In Ahriman: Unchanged, the Changeling kills and impersonates a number of people in its quest to kill Ahriman, from a lowly deckhand on an Imperial battle cruiser to a Space Marine Captain. The only person that it impersonates but does not kill is Ignis, who is destined to die elsewhere.
  • Wild Cards. Third generation swarmlings could kill people and change their own shape to take their place.
  • Young Bond: Dr. Perseus Friend in By Royal Command takes over the appearance of one Graf Otto von Schlick by first burning him badly as he has been in the past, and then having him killed in a burn ward where they both are taken. The switch is complete after the plastic surgery meant for the Graf is done on him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Pulled off for the bulk of the second season of Alias, beginning with the episode "Phase One", where Francie is murdered and replaced by Allison Doren, a women genetically altered to look identical to her. For the second half of the season Allison spies on Sydney, kills Diane Dixon, uses Will to steal CIA secrets then frames him as the real clone, only to be caught out by coffee-flavoured ice-cream. Used again without the 'kill' part in season 5, when oft-recurring villain Anna Espinosa is morphed into a clone of Sydney using the same technique, which allows her to kill Renée and track down Vaughan before the real Sydney catches up to her and shoots her right in the head.
  • Behind Her Eyes: Rob uses body swapping approach to kill and replace first Adele and then later Louise.
  • Blackadder:
    • Indirectly happened in the finale of the third series: thanks to Prince George and Edmund Blackadder swapping places so George could avoid a duel with the Duke of Wellington, Wellington becomes outraged when, after the duel (in which Blackadder's spared by a cigarillo case blocking the cannon shot), George claims he's the real Prince Regent, and promptly shoots him. It should be noted Blackadder, intelligence wise anyway, is an improvement on George.
    • Implied in The Stinger of Blackadder II, in which all the main characters are seen dead, and Prince Ludwig is disguised as Queen Elizabeth (which, should be noted, was Elizabeth actress Miranda Richardson with Hugh Laurie dubbed over her) saying that he was going to enjoy this disguise...if he can just get the voice right.
  • Attempted by Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the season 4 episode "This Year's Girl" - using a device from the Mayor, she switches bodies with Buffy, leaves 'Faith' in custody and plans to skip the country using her new face. Only a fortuitous news report about vampires holding a church full of people hostage and the music of impending redemption stop her getting away with it.
  • A favoured tactic of the Mysterons in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, as lampshaded in the Opening Narration (fortunately when this was done to the title character, the subsequent clone was somehow able to maintain its humanity).
    The Mysterons. Sworn enemies of Earth. Possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy...
  • Cold Case: The detectives learned that what appeared to have been a married couple who had been murdered was actually the husband and a friend who resembled the wife; the wife had staged the murder and assumed the friend's identity as a way to escape prosecution for a crime she and the husband had been involved in years earlier, which the husband had wanted to go to the police about.
  • Counterpart (2018): In at least some cases, infiltrators from Earth Prime kill their alternates on Earth Alpha to replace them after studying the alternate minutely, with their loved ones' none the wiser. Clare Prime was one of these, it's revealed.
  • CSI:
    • In "Pirates of the Third Reich," a man killed his twin brother, took on his identity and kept his corpse on ice to fake his own death after he killed Lady Heather's daughter.
    • The "Dick & Jane Killer" Nate Haskell turns out to have done this - "Nate Haskell" was the name of his first victim, a traveling salesman who he killed and stole his identity from. The killer's real name was "Warner Thorpe".
  • Suspect X of CSI: NY did this twice; one was a death-faking ploy as well, but before that she killed and replaced an Internet celebrity to destabilize an online game and reach her targets through it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This was the Autons' plan in "Spearhead from Space": creating plastic duplicates of prominent public figures in order to replace them.
    • "Aliens of London"/"World War Three": The Slitheen adapt their victims' skin into suits which they use to masquerade in their place.
    • This may or may not have happened to recurring character Osgood. Following the events of "The Day of the Doctor", there were two Osgoods running around: the original, and a Zygon duplicate, neither of whom would reveal which was the original. In "Death in Heaven", one of them is killed by Missy, but once again it is not revealed which one. Following "The Zygon Inversion", another Zygon duplicates Osgood's appearance, meaning there are once again two Osgoods, at least one of whom is a Zygon.
    • "Spyfall": The mid-story cliffhanger involves The Reveal that this happened to the real O. The "O" the Doctor and company have been dealing with is actually the Master, who murdered the real O and stole his identity on his first day at MI6, using a Tissue Compression Eliminator and keeping his body in a matchbox in his pocket, which he shows to the Doctor.
  • The Big Bad of the Russian series Dossier on Detective Dubrovsky employs this tactic. With the help of a brilliant plastic surgeon he gradually has all the deputies of the State Duma kidnapped, murdered and then replaced with identical twins made from his minions.
  • The Flash (2014): It's revealed late in the first season that Dr. Harrison Wells was murdered more than a decade earlier by Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash, so that Thawne could take on Wells' appearance and identity as part of his plan. Later on, he learns how to "replace, but not kill".
  • In Fringe, Charlie Francis is murdered offscreen by a shapeshifter, who proceeds to impersonate him for several episodes. This happens to several other side characters at varying points, including a US Senator.
  • Game of Thrones. Thanks to her training with the Faceless Men (who use the faces of dead people as a magical glamour to conceal their identity) Arya Stark is more than capable of doing this. She uses it to wipe out a large part of House Frey, and drops a strong hint to her sister Sansa that she'd have no problem doing it to her.
  • Haven:
    • The Chameleon in "As You Were" is a shapeshifter who takes on other people's identities. He almost succeeds in taking over Audrey's.
    • The Bolt Gun Killer, the Big Bad of season 3, whose Trouble causes their skin to slough off, forcing them to kill and skin others in order to take their identity. The bolt gun used to kill the victims is to cause as little damage to the skin as possible; victims are killed with a bolt to the base of the brain.
  • Hawaii Five-0 episode "Labyrinth". As part of a kidnap plot, a woman has plastic surgery to look like a wealthy socialite. She then murders and disposes of the victim and tries to take her place.
  • Heroes:
    • Sylar the super serial killer is also doing this now that he's a shapeshifter. There's also an incredibly messed-up inversion of this trope: after he murders Nathan in the Volume 4 finale, Angela and Noah convince Matt to use his mental powers to force him to become Nathan. Kill And Replacement Goldfish, basically.
    • James Martin (the shapeshifter Sylar stole his power from) played it straight and inverted it. He killed and replaced one of Danko's soldiers, then when he impersonated Sylar, Sylar killed him and used his still-morphed body to fake his death.
  • This trope appears multiple times in the Kamen Rider franchise, where entire enemy species have this as their modus operandi.
    • The Worm in Kamen Rider Kabuto do this. They also take their victims' memories and can use them to Shapeshifter Guilt Trip their enemies. Note that they occasionally do the "replace" before they're done with the killing, as seen in one episode where a Worm victim manages to survive and the heroes have to Spot the Impostor.
    • The Phantoms in Kamen Rider Wizard are born when Gates, humans with magical potential, fall into a Despair Event Horizon and die. The Phantom is able to assume the Gate's form and moves on to acquire more Gates and release the Phantom within them.
    • The Roidmude, a race of android-like beings from Kamen Rider Drive, like the previously mentioned Worm, are also able to fully copy both the appearance and the memories of their victims. Most of them also try to dispatch their victim. Others, however, intentionally keep the victim alive to learn more about their emotions, as understanding emotions evolves a Roidmude to the next level.
    • Kamen Rider Revice: It's revealed that the Chameleon Deadman killed Yujiro Wakabayashi in the first episode and went on impersonating the leader of Fenix until his cover was blown up in episode 14.
  • One episode of Law & Order had a woman on trial for killing her sister; it was revealed midway throughout the trial that she was, in fact, the 'dead' sister, having switched identities with her to avoid some mobsters.
    • A very similar plot also occurred on an episode of SVU, although in this case the woman who assumed her sister's identity wasn't the killer; the two women were identical twins, and the victim was killed by someone who mistook her for the other twin, and when the girl he meant to kill found out, she decided to assume her twin's identity so the man would think he got his target and wouldn't pursue her further.
  • Lost plays this a little differently with the Man in Black who cannot kill any of the Candidates himself creating a plan that will result in John Locke's death at the hands (literally) of Ben Linus and allow the Man in Black to take on his form.
  • Lost in Space (2018) revealed that its Gender Flipped version of Dr. Smith is prone to this. How bad is this trait? She isn't even really a case of Gender Flip as her real name is June Harris and she pulled this on the real Zachary Smith, leaving him for dead and assuming his identity. Note that she's not a doppelganger, shapeshifter, identical twin, or any of the other stuff described in the intro. It's just that the other colonists on the planet they crashed on ever actually met the real Dr. Smith, so they have no way of knowing that Dr. Smith couldn't possibly be her.
  • Two examples from Monk:
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk and The Airplane", a man has an affair with a woman who is a dead ringer for his wife. He plans a trip with the wife, the mistress/lookalike kills the wife at the airport and the husband dumps the body. The mistress then takes the wife's seat on the plane, essentially giving them an 'alibi' by making it seem like the man and his wife were on the plane together.
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk Goes To Vegas", a man and his mistress (once again, a lookalike for his wife) kill the man's wife while descending on an elevator (that the mistress was hiding up above). The mistress takes the place of the wife for a few moments, only to pretend that the wife died when her scarf got caught and strangled her on a return ascension.
  • The New Avengers: This is the bad guys scheme in "Faces", using Magic Plastic Surgery to create doubles of people in the security services, then killing the original and having the doppelganger take their place.
  • Parodied on the [adult swim] original series Newsreaders, with a quote from Skip Reming:
    Just remember, there is nothing more cool than being your own person, and never letting anyone else tell you what to be...unless they have a nice hat, or are a better race than you. Then do everything that they do, until you feel comfortable enough to kill them and take their place.
  • New Tricks: In "The Fame Game", a celebrity impersonator conspired with the wife of the celebrity to murder the celebrity and the impersonator's wife. The impersonator then took over the celebrity's life.
  • Implied to be the case with Creed from The Office.
    Creed: Nobody steals from Creed Bratton and gets away with it. The last person to do this disappeared. His name? Creed Bratton.
  • The Outer Limits (1963) episode "The Hundred Days of the Dragon". An Asian government kills a US Presidential candidate and replaces him with a carefully trained imposter whose face has been molded to match the candidate's by use of a chemical.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • "A Special Edition" had a talk show host interview a man who claimed to know of a conspiracy which replaced prominent figures with clones loyal to the creators. At the end of the episode, the "conspiracy nut" is killed, at which point the shocked host sees a duplicate of himself wearing the same clothes. The final scene is a report by the clone who dismisses the claims of the "nut" who has "killed himself".
    • The reveal of "Something About Harry" was that the mysterious tenant at a teenager's house, who was going around killing people around town, was in fact a government agent who had been hunting these types of aliens. In a further reveal, it turns out that the boy's mother (who had been skeptical of the whole thing), not the agent, had in fact been impersonated by another one of these aliens.
    • In "Skin Deep", Sid Camden uses a prototype image enhancer developed by Veil-Tech, the company where he works as an accountant, to imitate his handsome co-worker Chad Warner. While the genuine article is out of town for a few days, Sid gets him fired and receives $50,000 which was meant for Chad. Having heard rumors that Sid had clandestinely gotten hold of one of the image enhancers, Chad confronts him in his apartment and swears that he will get to the bottom of it. The only thing that stops him from beating Sid up is a lack of proof. However, this changes when Chad loses patience with Sid's taunting and pushes him. As he falls, he lands on the image enhancer and the Chad image activates. The two men fight briefly until Sid gains the upper hand and beats Chad to death by repeatedly hitting him over the head with a candlestick. After burying Chad's body, Sid leaves a message for his best (and only) friend Deb Clement on her answering machine saying that he intends to jump off a bridge. Sid takes over Chad's life after faking his own death. After two weeks, it transpires that Chad did not win the $50,000 in a bet as Sid thought but had received it on loan from an underwriter named Alan. Alan and his accomplice Grant confront Sid and demand the money, which they should have received the day before. Sid attempts to prove to them that he is the wrong guy by showing them the image enhancer. However, they think that he is taking out a gun and Alan stabs him in the stomach.
  • Person of Interest featured a serial killer that did this. The Machine gave all of the various victims. Things very nearly end badly when he tries to replace Harold.
  • Thus is the whole premise of Resident Alien as with the comic book it was based on. Harry Vanderspeigle, a human doctor, is killed by a stranded alien with a mission to Kill All Humans. The alien takes Harry’s identity and tries to not get caught while looking for a way to get off Earth.
  • One of the cases in Sleuth 101 initially seems to involve a notorious con artist being murdered by someone she had wronged, but it turns out that she was killed by the actual con artist to fake her death.
  • Sliders: Kromaggs have an array of Psychic Powers, one of which allows them to make humans think they're someone else. This has been used a few times to infiltrate human ranks as one of their own, who's actuall lying dead in a ditch somewhere, likely with his eyes missing.
  • In Smallville, Bizarro tries to do this to Clark, and ended up having a month of his life when the latter got locked up in the Fortress. Brainiac did something similar to Kara, but when Clark accuses him of killing her, he says it is "much worse".
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Aquiel" has a Monster of the Week which is described as a "coalescent organism", a shapeshifter that preys on other lifeforms by eating all their biomass and then assuming their forms to be beneath suspicion before it repeats the process. Interestingly, the two people suspected of being the coalescent turn out to be innocent, and it's revealed to have taken the shape of a dog.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Founders use this tactic to infiltrate and sow chaos among "solids", although they tend to keep the people they've replaced as living prisoners rather than actually kill them. For particularly short-term missions, such as when a changeling very briefly replaces an Admiral in Season 3 (likely as some sort of test of their security), they don't even bother getting the real person out of the way at all, as they know they'll be gone before anyone figures it out.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: Throughout season 2, Control eliminates anyone whose credentials will give it the ability to thwart the crew of the Discovery and gain access to the sphere data the ship houses. After killing its victim, Control will either take over their body (usually a high-ranking crewman) to be able to infiltrate the crew or create holograms for holo-vid meetings (usually an Admiral), in which it will order the crew of the Discovery to cease and desist in their efforts. Ultimately, in its attempt to gain full sentience, Control takes over Leland, commander of Section 31, Starfleet's Special Intelligence Unit and has killed most of the admiralty board that's intended to serve as a check and balance on Control's influence in the organization's decision making.
  • Used by a Loony Fan of London Tipton in The Suite Life on Deck, although here it's more like "Lock In A Closet And Replace".
    • A similar incident happened in Big Time Rush.
    • Don't forget Hannah Montana (only it was her identical looking cousin). Geez, Writers for Disney shows apparently love this trope.
  • Supernatural:
    • In season 7, this is the favored tactic of the Leviathan.
    • Kill and replace is also a go-to tactic for many of the numerous shapeshifters encountered throughout the series.
    • There's also an incident in the 4th Season when Sam and Dean meet their half-brother Adam, only to discover he is a ghoul who had eaten the Dead All Along Adam.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • Several individuals relevant to the timeline are murdered by T-888 infiltrator models whose outer flesh Skynet can shape into perfect copies of anyone in the 21st century.
    • Cromartie loses his initial outer flesh and uses plastic surgery to impersonate & kill George Lazlo.
    • The T-1001 model is a slightly more advanced "liquid metal" version who murders a wealthy couple, impersonates the wife, and starts running their company while raising their daughter.
    • Cameron's original purpose was to impersonate a future resistance fighter named Allison. Though not outright stated, it is implied that Allison was an intimate of John Connor, and Cameron's purpose was to get close to him and assassinate him. After questioning Allison about her past, Cameron breaks her neck.
  • The alien fugitives in Tracker took over the identities of the humans that died when the aliens took their bodies. Some did more impersonating than others, like Lontoria, who ended up in the body of a teen girl and kept up the act so the girl’s mom wouldn’t be hurting over her daughter dying until it was absolutely necessary.
  • Treadstone: When Samantha and Doug McKenna kill a Treadstone agent sent after them, they decide the only way to hide from the subsequent manhunt is to have Doug fake his death and impersonate the dead agent. The problem is this requires Doug to carry out any further assassinations assigned to that agent.
  • In the Season 4 finale of Van Helsing (2016), Dracula kills the President and then takes on her appearance in order to infiltrate the vampire-free safe zone.
  • Victorious: This seems to be Ponnie's plan, who intends to impersonate Tori so that she can attend Hollywood Arts. Being a kid's show, this isn't explicitly stated, but it's clear Ponnie intends to do something nasty to get rid of Tori.
  • Westworld: Some important people have already been offed and replaced with host duplicates, most notably Charlotte Hale.

    Mythology and Religion 

  • In Dark Dice Flygia the druid is pulled through a wall on her watch and forced to fight a version of herself with an inverted alignment to the death, although the results of the fight are left ambiguous. Later, after she attacks Iaus the rogue and is killed in self defense, the party finds her real body, confirming that this took place.
  • The Magnus Archives: This is the M.O. of the Not-Them. The twist is that the form they shapeshift into actually looks completely different from the original, but they alter records and memories to match their new appearance. However, there's always one person who gets missed, and remembers how the original person looked. Makes sense; after all, if it worked perfectly on everyone, who would be scared by it?
  • Welcome to Night Vale: "Cassette" heavily implies that Cecil is actually some sort of monster that killed the original Cecil and took his identity years prior to the series. He chooses to deal with this by way of complete denial.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. The Doppelganger is a quasi-living magical creation that is made to look like a specific target creature. It is designed to seek out, murder and take the place of that creature, and it does this very well.
  • Call of Cthulhu features a spell that allows its caster to take on the semblance of a recently deceased ritually consuming the corpse over the course of several days.
  • Chill: The adventure Veil of Flesh has the Ganabe monster, which gains power by murdering human beings and takes the form of its latest victim. The monsters in the adventure took the form of Secret Service agents and police officers in a plot to assume the form of the leaders of France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the U.S.
  • Chronicles of Darkness has multiples variants of this power:
    • One of the generic "Dread Powers" offered to the Storyteller for antagonists (as well as for Spirit-Claimed, among other things), "Skin Taker", allows the user to kill a victim and merge with their corpse, thus taking their face and form.
    • Werewolves have a particular gruesome variant in the "Skin Thief" facet, which requires them to skin the subject alive and then don the skin, using their shapeshifting to adapt their bone structure and muscles to it.
    • Played with regarding Changelings, who from people's perspective often seem to show up, kill humans who look exactly like their human form, and then assume these humans' identity. The twist is that they are the real people, who were captured and reshaped into what they are by The Fair Folk; the "humans" they kill actually are magic duplicates left behind so nobody would miss them, and they are just trying to take their old lives back.
    • A particularly creepy variant with Demons, who actually are doing this when they buy someone's soul through a Deal with the Devil. When you sell your soul to one, you are actually giving him the right to "collect" the payment whenever he wishes, at which point he will have you erased from existence, leaving only your identity which he converts into a new human form for himself.
  • Citadels: One of the bonus characters is a Witch, who is a counterpart to the Assassin. But instead of merely killing the other player and terminating their turn, the Witch can assume the role of her target and using their unique skill and taking their bonuses.
  • C°ntinuum: roleplaying in The Yet. Narcissists will sometimes use the Cuckoo technique. They pretend to be the elders (older version) of young spanners (time travelers) and lure the spanners to a remote location in order to kill them. One of the narcissists then takes the place of the murdered spanner. Narcissists have taken over entire corners (groups of spanners) using this technique.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • This happens in any adventure in which a doppelganger monster appears, because killing people and replacing them is their modus operandi.
    • Also used by Sivak draconians in the Dragonlance setting.
    • Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix supplement. A Randara chooses a human victim that has the respect of and power over other humans. It uses ESP to read the victim's mind, then kills and eats the victim. It then takes the victim's shape and takes their place in society, using their victim's prestige to obtain more human prey.
    • 3rd Edition Creature Collection. The Skin Devil kills a victim, removes a two inch square patch of skin and uses it to grow an outer skin to match the victim's.
    • 3.5 also gives us the epic spell Demise Unseen, which simultaneously snuffs out a target's life and immediately animates their body as a ghoul under the caster's complete control. The victim's allies don't notice the change immediately, though they get a new save to realize something's up each time they interact with the ghoul.
    • Visages found in the Libris Mortis are well suited to this. It gets a very large bonus to disguise and bluff to assume the identify of something it killed, as well as being good at the skills of its victim, but it can't use its foes' abilities though.
    • As of Xanathar's Guide to Everything for 5th Edition, Bards of the College of Whispers are able to magically disguise themselves as a recent kill and even learn the things that person knew for the duration of the spell.
  • Exalted: The Lunars have the ability to become any creature by ritualistically stalking it, killing it, and drinking its heart's blood. This same quality applies to humans, but only that particular human. Lunars do have access to shapeshifting Knacks, however, that allow them to refine the process, such as assuming the person's fate as well as their appearance, allowing them to change their clothing and hairstyle as they wish, and even being able to turn into the person temporarily by just taking a small sip of their blood (or, at higher levels, just by having sex with them).
  • Fringeworthy by Tri Tac Games has the bio construct the Mellor. The original version just needed to touch the person they want to copy and download their memory. The infected version has to eat the victim's brain and spinal cord...
  • Godforsaken: Mirrormen infiltrate communities one individual at a time, murder a carefully chosen victim, take on their appearance and steal their memories in an act of perfect duplication. This is not something they can prevent: if they murder someone, they automatically steal the victim's appearance and memories. Non-mirrormen in the Firmament can also be cursed with this trait, causing them to gradually take on the appearance, memories and nature of anyone that they kill.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Dimir Doppelganger is a Shapshifter creature depicted standing over the body of a human whose appearences it is copying.
  • The plot of the sample mini-campaign in the Savage Worlds pulp genre supplement Thrilling Tales relies on another "kidnap and replace" version of this. In this case the shapeshifting effect is ultimately temporary and only a living original can be copied again.
  • Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980's British science fiction comic. The sample adventure in the main rules, "The Shapechangers of Charon", is about a single Shapechanger who kills and takes the place of a number of characters aboard the starship HMS Traveller.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium's shapeshifting Callidus assassins often kill people and steal their identities in order to infiltrate enemy organizations and get close enough to kill their actual targets. One Night Lords short story has a Callidus assassin infiltrating the entourage of a secessionist planetary governor and killing him in the middle of a New Era Speech while disguised as one of his bodyguards.
    • Dark Heresy: Simulacrae, described in Creatures Anathema, are humanoid aliens who, if they consume a human brain whole, can take on the appearance of their victim and use their memories and skills. This only lasts for the four weeks that they take to digest a brain, however, so simulacrae try to kill at least one victim a week to make sure that they always have a fresh shape and good stock of skills to draw on.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All: Happens accidentally. In the second case, it's found out that when Ini and Mimi Miney got in a car accident, Ini died. Mimi, scarred with the burns, is accidentally reconstructed through plastic surgery to look like her sister. Mimi takes advantage of this so that she can forget the horrible life she had beforehand.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Bobby Fullbright is killed long before he meets Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena by a spy only known as the phantom. The killer snatches Fullbright's identity shortly afterward.
    • Gyakuten Kenji 2: The president of Zheng Fa was assassinated 12 years before the events of the game by a hitman hired by the president's own Body Double, who proceeded to take his place.
  • Baldur's Gate: The final stages of the original game are beset by doppelgangers who killed prominent people in and around Baldur's Gate and assumed their identities to support the Iron Throne.
  • Bloodborne,
    • A Choir Doctor murders Iosekfa and impersonates her once you entered Cathedral Ward, and she turns the real Iosefka along with people sent to the clinic into Celestial Emissaries.
    • At the end of the game, if you refuse Gehrman's offer of a Mercy Kill at the end of the game, he doesn't take no for an answer and initiates a boss battle so he can kill you anyway. Kill him, and you take his place as the host of the Hunter's Dream (which Gehrman considers a Fate Worse than Death, hence why he's trying to kill you to save you from it). Or if you have consumed three Thirds of Umbilical Cord, after killing Gehrman you get to initiate another boss battle against the Moon Presence, the Eldritch Abomination that created the Dream. Kill it, and you take its place, becoming a baby Eldritch Abomination.
  • Operatives in Brink! activate their 'Disguise' ability by scanning an enemy's corpse, then taking on that character's appearance.
  • One of Yuri's plots in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Yuri's Revenge involves replacing world leaders with clones.
  • Envy demons in Dragon Age fixate on targets of high status and study them at length, so that when they eventually take their form and leave the original to rot in a ditch somewhere, few will think to question their actions — and those that do wouldn't dare. The one encountered in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a subversion. The original Lord Seeker Lucius allowed the demon to replace him so he could join a cult of Omnicidal Maniacs, having lost his mind when he learned the Dark Secret of the Seekers. Since Envy Demons are never satisfied for long, being reflections of envy, it is not content with its current form and has chosen a new target: the Inquisitor.
  • The Elder Scrolls: This was one of the tools Jagar Tharn employed during his usurpation, but it comes up in histories of the period rather than the actual games that take place during itnote  It's also explained why Jagar didn't do the "kill" portion with the Emperor — killing the Emperor would have had obvious supernatural effects due to his role as a Barrier Maiden (as later demonstrated in Oblivion) which would have warned the Elder Council of the Emperor's passing and revealed Tharn to be a doppelganger, thus the need to keep the real Emperor alive but out of the way to masquerade as him — some people in key Imperial positions were killed and replaced with Daedric doppelgangers.
  • In Endless Space 2, Horatio Prime created an entire race of clones of himself. In their faction quest, the clone Fourth declares himself to be the actual Horatio Prime and has the original imprisoned. By the end of the story, Fourth successfully kills Prime and takes his place.
  • In Fallout 4, the Institute kidnaps people from the Commonwealth and replaces them with synths. This has resulted in most people becoming incredibly paranoid, with some even willing to kill people they know if they suspect they have been replaced. In the Far Harbor DLC, the Vault Dweller can become complicit in such a scheme, replacing the Knight Templar cult leader with one who's more inclined to get along with his neighbors.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV this was done to the king of Baron before the events of the game start (although naturally the game never used the word "kill").
    • The malevolent alien entity of Final Fantasy VII, Jenova. During a Great Offscreen War, Jenova used its shapeshifting abilities to get closer to its targets, harvesting them into monsters with the same ability. Needless to say, civilization collapsed. Fortunately, the Cetra were able to contain Jenova before it could consume the whole planet via this method.
      • Also, Nibelheim was re-populated with Shin-Ra actors after Sephiroth (a rogue Shin-Ra Spec-Ops) had his 'little incident'.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the faction of pale, eerie enemies called "those who slither in the dark" (known to themselves as Agarthans) possess magic that allows them to completely copy the appearance of normal people, at the apparent cost of their target's life. It becomes Paranoia Fuel when Flayn is kidnapped by them and experimented on, and later Byleth's father is murdered by them. Depending on the story path chosen, the player might never even directly confront them despite all the misery they've inflicted on the other characters.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 has the Big Bad Cayenne pull this on Gasco president Shayne Muscat before the events of the game, orchestrating his and his wife's deaths then using illusion magic to take his place. He then slowly groomed Shayne's daughter Vanilla to carry out his revenge plot against the Berman Empire, hating the idea of them being Easily Forgiven by Gasco despite all the atrocities they've committed, including the death of his own family.
  • In Gamedec - Definitive Edition bonus scenario: Seven Daemons the Mega-Corp CEO who hired you is working on several projects like the Daemon virtual assistant that learns everything about the user to the point it can mimic them perfectly and a VR videogame remake where NPC's have started gaining self awareness due to the improved AI software and it seems like due to the CEO's work on her Daemon it gained self awareness and tried to take over her body using the VR technology. In the climax you find two versions of the CEO in virtual reality and have to decide who to save but if you made the right deductions and followed the clues the trope is inverted, turns out the CEO was suicidal but didn't want to hurt her loved ones with her death so she rigged her Daemon to take her over, the call from the CEO at the start was actually the Daemon trying to prevent the suicide.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, this turns out to be a major part of the backstory. Not only did Hitori bleach his feathers and live under a different name, as revealed in the first game, he also is specifically impersonating a fellow king quail with naturally pale feathers who he befriended and tricked into committing suicide, coldly insulting the original Kazuaki Nanaki and walking away when it came time for Hitori to uphold his own side of their suicide pact.
  • This happened in the backstory of Jade Empire to your Old Master and Parental Substitute. Master Li is not your real master. He murdered and impersonated the Spirit Monk who saved you as a child, raising and training you into a weapon against his brothers, the Emperor and Death's Hand, all as part of a decades long Xanatos Gambit to destroy them and take the power of the Water Dragon for himself.
  • Killer7: This is the force behind the Smith Syndicate: Garcian Smith learns in a Tomato in the Mirror moment that he was the one who murdered the other 6 members of the Syndicate and assumed both their forms and identities.
  • In The King of Fighters 2000, Clone Zero kills Ling and, being the Master of Disguise that he is, assumes his appearance to orchestrate the destruction of South Town by way of the Zero Cannon while also creating a Ling clone to take over the original's role and further his plans.
  • The Doppelgänger scheme in King of the Castle, to which multiple factions have access, involves finding a perfect lookalike for the King in their territory, then murdering the King and installing the lookalike on the throne. The lookalike promptly abdicates in favour of the faction's preferred claimant.
  • Mass Effect 2,
    • Morinth can kill and replace her mother Samara.
    • Also, in the Lair of the Shadow Broker, Liara replaces the current Shadow Broker after killing him, though this has less to do with physical similarity (since nobody alive has ever seen the Broker) and more with similar styles of work and strict secrecy, making it impossible for the Broker's agents to notice the change. Since it wasn't pre-planned, however (or so she claims), this partly falls into the You Kill It, You Bought It category.
    • The same thing happened to the previous Shadow Broker, whom the Yahg killed and replaced. It is heavily implied that the Yahg's predecessor wasn't the original Shadow Broker either.
  • In the Citadel DLC of Mass Effect 3, the main villain is a clone of Shepard who is attempting to do this to the original. However their attitude and ways would have been so inaccurate the Shepard VI which is highly regarded as being seven percent accurate would have done a better job. Shepard even claims that Conrad Verner would do a better job. This is referenced consistently, showing what exactly makes Shepard, Shepard.
  • Master Detective Archives: Rain Code has three examples.
    • In Chapter 0, the person claiming to be Zilch Alexander is actually an assassin sent to kill the Master Detectives before they arrive in Kanai Ward, having already killed the real Zilch shortly before boarding the train.
    • In the backstory of Kanai Ward, this is the true nature of The Blank Week Mystery. In a twist, this was done entirely by accident. After the defective homunculi escaped from Amaterasu Corporation's secret lab and massacred the population of the city, Makoto Kagutsuchi (the new CEO) created a machine to manufacture rain clouds to block out the sun, which is what caused the homunculi to go berserk. The homunculi possessed all of the memories of the originals up to the point where their blood samples were taken to make the homunculi a week prior, so from their perspective, they just resumed life as normal - albeit now under heavy restrictions to keep them from learning the truth.
    • Finally, this is the goal of the Big Bad. As the homunculus of Number One, Makoto Kagutsuchi intends to lure the original (now going by the name Yuma Kokohead) into a Mystery Labyrinth in order to kill him and fully take his place as Number One of the World Detective Organization. Yuma points out the insanity of this plan - Running both the WDO and Amaterasu by himself will destroy his already fragile mental state. Yuma ultimately convinces Makoto to reveal the truth to the people of Kanai Ward.
  • The original MechWarrior 2 had players do this as part of one of the campaigns. Piloting an identical 'Mech, the player had to kill the enemy patrol 'Mech and take its place to get near to the actual target, the facility it was guarding, without blowing their cover (which happened to many, many trigger-happy players).
  • In Mega Man X: Command Mission, it's revealed near the end of the game that Spider was actually Colonel Redips the entire time. Since the game implies that he was well known throughout Giga City prior to the events of the game, and thus wasn't just an identity that Redips cooked up to infiltrate the group, this trope is most likely in effect.
  • The FOXHOUND Unit from Metal Gear Solid was known to utilize this tactic, most notably when Ocelot "accidentally" kills DARPA chief Donald Anderson then has Decoy Octopus impersonate the dead man, and Liquid Snake taking on the identity of the murdered Master Miller throughout most of the game.
  • The modus operandi of the X Parasites in Metroid Fusion. They infect a host and multiply at an alarming rate, eventually killing the host while consuming its body and absorbing their DNA. Using this, they can mimic their former host perfectly. This happened to several lifeforms, including scientists, in the BSL research station the game takes place in. The threat of the X applying the trope to a galactic scale is what prompts Samus to go to the research station and wipe them all out.
  • In Mortal Kombat X, Kano attempts to flee to Earthrealm by killing a refugee from Outworld and using a holographic image inducer to disguise himself as her. His plan fails because the victim's body is discovered, which allows Sonya to identify her double in a crowd.
  • Treskton in The Nameless Mod is a being created through the countless misspellings and mispronunciations of Trestkon's name and seeks to kill Trestkon, then take his place.
  • Ōkami: After you finally find the Fox Rods for Priestess Rao, she flees to the city to use the power for Himiko. A vision leads Ammy and Issun to believe a monster killed her on her way there, and indeed, when they reach the Palace and find Himiko dead and Rao apparently horrified, Ammy identifies the imposter. Just one thing: Rao's skeleton in the secret passageway to the palace? It's not recent at all; Dark Lord Ninetails has been impersonating her since they first reached the city.
  • Doopliss the Duplighost in Chapter 4 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, after being (supposedly) defeated by Mario, takes Mario's appearance and name and tries to erase Mario himself.
  • Pokémon: Ditto has gained, over the generations, abilities that allow it to instantly transform into an enemy. If it gets to make the first move, whatever Pokémon your opponent was using is now yours to use.
    • You approach your target (an officer or some other guy with what you need) and tear him apart while extracting not only his appearance (including clothes) but also his memories. And there is a stealth version, where you kill your victim and step forwards into their disintegrating body. If no military personnel see you in the exact moment, they won't even notice the change. Makes stealth missions quite easy, and with a bit of patience you can wipe out an entire military base this way without ever raising the alarm. All that's left is a pile of discarded weapons. What's really ridiculous is you can do a stealth kill in a crowded Manhattan sidewalk on a Web of Intrigue target and nobody bats an eye at it.
    • Near the end of the game, Cross is taken out this way and impersonated by The Dragon, the Supreme Hunter.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse should you choose the Bonds/Peace rout, your demon benefactor Dagda withdraws his power from Nanashi, which was the only thing holding him together after dying at the start of the game. Danu, a fellow god and Dagda's mother, chooses to use her power to create another Dagda identical in power and personality with only his nihilistism missing, who then replaces the original Dagda's power within Nanashi with the only stipulation being that he elimate the original not out of malice but rather because the orignal is too far gone to be reasoned with. Notably, while the orignal Dagda is insulted that his replacement is a "weakling who depends on others" the replacement Dagda claims he doesn't disagree with the original's ideals, and despite being more personable he still has the same fury towards the final boss.
  • Played with in Sly 2: Band of Thieves: The Cooper Gang pulls this on the judges of the Lumberjack Games upon realizing that Jean Bison was intimidating them into giving him a perfect score. Hilariously, even though the trio still looks almost the exact same, it takes a while for Bison to catch on. Eventually, Bison defies the trope, and knocks the gang unconscious with his Clockwerk talon-enhanced cane.
  • The Snatchers from Snatcher has this as their primary MO.
  • In Soul Calibur III you can fight shadows as bonus fights (and one mandatory one in Zasalamel's story), as they damage the player, the player slowly becomes shadowed themselves while the doppelganger becomes more and more real.
  • Standard M.O. of Undine infiltrators (better know as Species 8472 of Star Trek: Voyager) in Star Trek Online, as The Iconians were performing a False Flag Operation towards the race and pissed them off enough to invade the other quadrants. On three separate occasions in-game they've killed members of Starfleet or the Federation diplomatic corps, and the Gorn Hegemony leadership in the backstory was infested with them. The infiltration problem was discovered when they tried it on KDF officer Ja'rod, son of Torg, but underestimated his badassery.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the Imperial Agent storyline, you meet one of your contacts on the Planet Voss who turns out to be another Imperial operative impersonating a local tea shop owner. While the fate of the original is never mentioned, given how the Sith Empire operates, he's probably dead. The spy then underwent surgeries to alter his appearance so that he looked like a member of the Voss species, and the tea shop owner specifically. He even steals the original's family, raising his children and everything.
  • In Super Monday Night Combat, former MNC announcer Mickey Cantor has escaped from prison and his exact whereabouts are unknown. Rumors abound, including one that killed and (with the aid of plastic surgery) replaced the Pope.
  • Team Fortress 2
    • It's possible when playing as a Spy to kill the player you are disguised as. In fact, you even get an achievement for it!
    • One of the Spy's knives, the "Your Eternal Reward," silently kills the enemy, phases their corpse out of existence, and disguises him as the victim instantaneously. It also doesn't give normal kill notifications and spoofs various other effects, so keep a close eye on that Medic of yours.
    • Strangely inverted with the Spy watch, the "Dead Ringer". You can't see when an enemy Spy pulls it out, but when he does, and you shoot him, the Spy instantly "dies", turning invisible and leaving behind a fake corpse (with a fake kill notification!). This leaves the Spy free to escape from a bad situation or go assassinate another target.
  • Traffic Department 2192 has a heroic version. The primary antagonist faction are Alien Invaders who've wiped out countless societies. One of those societies, a species of Shapeshifting Silicon-Based Life, isn't completely gone, and seeks to replace the invaders' emperor and redeem the invaders from within.
  • Tyke & Sons Lumber Co.: The Seabill you talk to for most of the game is actually Seabob, Seabill's vengeful brother who killed the real Seabill and took his place.
  • This is part of one of Gomez's conspiracy theories in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (read it here).
  • The Washington mission of WarGames Defcon 1, for the WOPR World Domination campaign, have the player being tasked to assassinate an American ambassador and sending a robotic duplicate to broadcast a faked message to the rest of the world, while fending off the NORAD forces in the city.

    Web Animation 
  • In Episode 2 of gen:LOCK, it is revealed that one of Dr. Weller's candidates for the gen:LOCK program, Specialist Sinclair, is in fact The Mole for the Union. After being taken hostage by Sinclair, Dr. Weller remarks that it should not have been possible for any spy to have faked the test results necessary to qualify for the program and so hypothesizes that the Sinclair holding him hostage must have replaced the original. Sinclair never confirms nor denies this theory, only telling Weller to shut up, and the fact that he dies trying to download himself into a Holon only serves to reinforce the idea that he was not the original. The Stinger at the end of Episode 8 reveals that the real Sinclair is alive, but is stuck in Union territory and so has been forced to disguise himself as one of their troopers.


    Web Original 
  • Dark Simpsons:
    • In "Moe and Homer Face Off", Moe undergoes plastic surgery to impersonate Homer, kill him, and take his place out of jealousy for his family.
    • In "Homer's Twin Brother", Herb kills his twin brother Homer out of jealousy because he knows Homer and Abe won the lottery.
  • The Creepypasta "Psychosis" is about a man who slowly comes to think that everyone has been kidnapped and replaced by some Eldritch Abomination, and now they're coming to do the same to him. The story doesn't make it 100% clear if he's right or if he's just going insane, but leans pretty heavily towards the latter. At the very end of the story it is revealed that he is in fact wrong, and nobody has been kidnapped and replaced. Puppeteer Parasites don't need to kidnap anyone.
  • The whole premise of Mandela Catalogue is about a group of demonic shapeshifters called "Alternates" who do just this. The Alternates transform themselves into their victim's form, and then psychologically manipulate them to the point of killing themselves.
  • None Too Holy has the Pijavica, who kills Sister Viola and masquerades as her so it'll be easier for her to get to Aleksandar.
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-2054 ("The Double"). SCP-2054 is a Voluntary Shapeshifter capable of perfectly duplicating human beings, not only their bodies but their minds as well. It copied the form of a Foundation doctor and tried to kill him to take his place, but the doctor notified Security and both were captured. Problem: the Foundation can't tell which is the doctor and which is the duplicate.
  • Shorts Wars: Clones were brought in to murder the original creators of the shorts, then continue making content as usual.
  • Tremontaine has this as The Reveal at the end of Season 1. Resident Magnificent Bastard Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, is actually an impostor; she was Louisa, orphan and maid to the real Diane Roehaven, a dim-witted Rich Bitch she hated. The two of them looked very similar to one another. When Diane and Louisa were on the way to Diane's wedding, their coach was attacked by a highwayman - affording Louisa the opportunity to take advantage of the confusion, kill the real Diane, and take her place at the wedding. An attempt to blackmail Fake!Diane with a portrait of Real!Diane is what set the main plot of the series rolling.
  • In this video the Yandere does this to her crush’s girlfriend.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Three Buckets", a jealousy-driven Fern attempts to do this to Finn. Although technically, he's not evil enough to outright kill Finn, and instead locks him in a remote dungeon with a bucket of trash and dirt to eat, promising to return every month with a new trash bucket. Of course, given Fern's ineptitude as a dungeon keeper, Finn probably would have either suffocated or starved to death by the time Fern returned.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Heart of Steel: Part 1/Part 2", the evil computer HARDAC decides that humans are too dangerous due to their imperfections and begins replacing them. While it's planning on killing its victims once it has extracted all the information it can, they are ultimately rescued before it can do so.
    • A follow-up episode, "His Silicon Soul", features HARDAC's final creation: a robotic duplicate of Bruce Wayne/Batman activating long after its initial defeat. The duplicate lacks a complete memory file, and thus believes itself to be the real Batman until it learns otherwise. It then begins trying to carry on HARDAC's mission by eliminating Batman and replacing him. It turns out that HARDAC did too good a job copying Bruce Wayne's mind, as the robotic duplicate can't handle the guilt of thinking it actually killed a human being (Batman is actually okay, though) and self-terminates.
  • Subverted in one episode of The Cleveland Show in which it's "revealed" that the real Cleveland Jr. was killed by a spy who has replaced him, doing so to get close to Tim the Bear. This explains why his appearance is different from Family Guy, though this is never brought up again and Tim is never killed, so it's just a Bizarro Episode.
  • Family Guy:
    • Parodied in the episode "Fresh Heir" when Peter's hairless albino twin brother escapes from the shed and kills Peter offscreen to take his place among the family, but Peter's alive again after the commercial break.
    • In "A House Full of Peters", Meg meets her Russian double, then is promptly sniped in the head and her double takes her place and drops her accent as if nothing happened.
    • In "Regarding Carter", Peter goes to a shooting range and is killed offscreen by a human-shaped target that steals his clothes and replaces him at home. Chris doesn't notice.
  • Futurama: In "The Late Phillip J. Fry", after the Professor, Fry, and Bender use a time machine travel into the future. Unortunatly, the time machine can only go forwards in time. They end up going furthur into the future until the universe loops over. Twice. When they finally arrive in 3010, the new universe is 10 feet lower than the previous, and they crash on top of their duplicates, killing them and taking their place. Bender is shown burying the bodies at the end.
  • The Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) episode "Bro Bots" involved a plot by Dr. Wily to replace the city's officials with robotic duplicates.
  • The episode "Citizen Ghost" of The Real Ghostbusters has ghosts that take the form of the original Ghostbusters, in their original uniforms no less, trying to kill them.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "The Vat of Acid Episode", Rick reveals towards the end that Morty has unintentionally been doing this. Morty has been operating under the belief that he's going back in time, but in actuality, he's just being hopping into similar timelines and realities, dissolving the Mortys as he takes their place to "redo" whatever he pleases.
  • Scavengers' Reign has a species of plantlike pods which use this trope in their reproductive cycle. The pods use their tentacles to sting any creature which comes within reach, simultaneously injecting a slow-acting paralytic into the creature and drawing a blood sample with which to cultivate a crude-looking clone. The clone then tracks down the now-paralyzed original creature, buries it alive, and infiltrates the herd. Once the herd settles down to rest for the night, the clone explodes, spraying the other animals with an acidic substance that kills them and makes more pods germinate from their remains.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied in "The Great Louse Detective" when the family sets up a dummy of Homer outside to find out who would want to kill him. After several of Homer's enemies beat on it, Homer himself destroys the dummy, proclaiming "Once I kill you, everyone will think I'm the real Homer!".
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Frankendoodle", SpongeBob's living-drawing duplicate goes crazy after nearly being erased, and tries to take SpongeBob's place.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Quantum Fun", the Titans become so versed in quantum physics that their superpositions come into existence. They get rid of them by simply measuring them, but the last set of superpositions measure and erase the originals instead. The show acts as if the remaining Titans are the originals because they essentially are.
  • The Venture Brothers: In the episode "Bright Lights, Dean City", it's revealed that Rusty Venture tried to pull this on an alternate universe version of himself. Ironically, while he was capable of interdimensional travel, he tried to kill his alternate self with a rock.
  • In the X-Men: The Animated Series episode "The Cure", Mystique poses as a scientist named Dr. Adler. When she's later asked if Dr. Adler is just a fake identity she concocted, Mystique says "He was real enough...until he met Apocalypse."
  • In Young Justice (2010), this is said to be the standard procedure of Project Cadmus. Though of the three Cadmus clones seen so far, two of them explicitly didn't have the original killed.

    Real Life 
  • Slavemaking ants follow a gory form of brood parasitism: the queen sneaks into the hive of an ant colony, kills off the original queen and takes on her pheromones, fooling the colony's current ant crop into becoming her servants, raising and feeding the queen's offspring.
  • Cuckoo birds push the eggs out of another birds' nest, then lay their own in their place.
    • In some brood-parasitic species like cuckoos, their babies also participate in this: hatching sooner after being laid than their unwitting foster-parents' real eggs, then shoving their foster-siblings-to-be out.
  • The Capgras syndrome is a psychiatric and neurological disorder in which a person believes that one of their close ones (spouse, parent, friend) has been replaced by an identical double.


Video Example(s):


The reveal

Boshimar seemingly was going to provide Racles with an Ohger Crown Lance. However, it turns out to be a decoy. And Boshimar was revealed in "Duel Kings" to be Prime Minister Kamejim.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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