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Killing Your Alternate Self

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Killing your doppleganger? Well, excuse me, princess!

"They come in twos. You come in twos. You and you. Kill your double!"
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Maybe you’ve angered a wizard, irritated Doc, or it’s just a really bad case of the Cloning Blues.. whatever the reason may be, you have met yourself, and things did NOT go well. Even worse, things did go well, and yet still end in death by you.

Some days, you just really need to die.

This trope covers those times when characters meet or otherwise learn of their alternates – and kill them. It may be premeditated, self-defense or instinctive, but so long as the outcome is lethal, it fits. Please note, this does not include shape-shifters, mental mimics or other copy cats. This trope is only for when the intended victim is an alternate version(s) of the killer. Death by another’s hand is fine if you or other you was the mastermind - after all, it is the thought that counts.

It may be used by writers as a symbolic representation of a character's struggles, whether against aspects of their own nature or of something more primal, such as good versus evil. This often done by emphasising a single characteristic of the double, such as greed, pride or rage, or focusing on opposing traits to the original. Can spur a character's self awareness, assuming survival.

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Frequently overlaps with Mirror Match. May be a natural result of Other Me Annoys Me, Future Me Scares Me, I Hate Past Me, and Evil Me Scares Me, and a cause of Dead Alternate Counterpart. Oddly enough Fearful Symmetry will often (but not always) fail to end in this, and given the set-up, it's also surprising that there isn't more Kill and Replace involved.

Compare and contrast the Grandfather Paradox when the alternate self you're killing is from your own past.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an overlap with Doppelgänger Attack Suzaku from YuYu Hakusho could create seven identical copies of himself, each with all of his strength. In stark violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy, he could then reabsorb those copies to completely replenish his strength, enabling him to fight forever. Since the copies were apparently sentient exact duplicates that he controlled via his antenna, their fate as a walking energy-bar is more than a little disturbing.
  • Franken Fran: Fran miscalculated her cloning project and then there were thousands of self-replicating copies of the same teenage girl. So she 'hired' the local police to help kill the majority. And then she revealed she also cloned the police, who had to kill each other.

    Comic Books 
  • The Marvel Universe liked this concept so much that they ran a 4-issue mini-series on it - Deadpool Kills Deadpool. Essentially consists of every Deadpool ever trying to kill every other Deadpool. It's time to thin the Deadpool herd!
  • Marvel Universe. In Excalibur #4, the character Courtney Ross was murdered by her Alternate Universe counterpart, the super villainess Opul Lun Sat-Yr-9, who then took her place.
  • In the comic book miniseries Identity Wars Spider-Man, the Hulk and Deadpool are sucked into an alternate dimension where Spider-Man teams up with his alternate self (and his alternate's Uncle Ben, who is alive). It turns out that alt-Spider-Man has been luring alternate Spider-Men to his universe, killing them and stealing their powers in order to augment himself.
  • Eclipso often made plans to kill Bruce Gordon, not knowing or caring that they shared the same body.
  • Kieron Gillen's run on Journey into Mystery has one of the logical overlaps between this trope and Kill and Replace: Ikol, the "echo" of the original, evil Loki, takes over the body of Loki's good-ish child incarnation, killing him and later impersonating him. But then it turns out the person thereby created isn't the original Loki, who's also dead - they have original Loki's memories but have absorbed child Loki's morality and part of his personality. (Yes, there was a ghost copy of him and a corporeal reincarnated version walking around at the same time. He's pretty much a god of Mind Screw; don't ask.)
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid, Lord Drakkon's goals seem to be a) conquer the world, b) kill as many versions of his heroic self as he can. The whole event STARTS with him fatally stabbing the Tommy Oliver of the main comics, which takes place not long after he joins the team, and Drakkon later does the same thing to Zeo-era Tommy.

    Fan Works 
  • Defied in The Wrong Reflection, where the possibility of Captain Kanril Eleya's Mirror Universe counterpart attempting to Kill and Replace her is brought up and immediately discarded. They put Dalnote  Kanril Eleya through a battery of medical tests when she comes aboard and determine that there's enough physiological and mental differences that they can easily tell them apart.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Ad Infinitum, the younger version of Bansherwold kills his older self.
  • In Christian Humber Reloaded, a recurring villain is Vash's "corrupted self," presumably a leftover from when he was possessed by the Slayer of Souls. Vash kills him on multiple occasion. The webcomic does a parody for the poster for Face/Off with the tagline, "How pissed off do you have to be to kill yourself?"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in Coherence. Em enters an Alternate Universe and likes it more than her original world. She then goes to kill her alternate self in order to take her place. However, next morning it turns out Em #2 is Not Quite Dead and the fate of both characters is Left Hanging.
  • In the 2009 film Double Take, Alfred Hitchcock meets his older self during the filming of The Birds, and over an uneasy conversation they realise they will have to kill one another. Director Grimonprez said in an interview that the coffee the elder Hitchcock sips turning to poison as an advert for coffee plays in the background mirrors the death of film due to TV and advertising, with the elder & younger Hitchcock taking the thematic places of film vs television. The idea of "if you meet your double, you should kill him" is played with throughout, and was even the film's tagline.
  • The One. Gabriel Yulaw’s entire motivation was to hunt and kill alternate versions of himself from 125 different realities, to steal their power. This somewhat backfires when the only remaining alt finds that he’s got half of each victim’s strength and promptly fights back. The background fluff also claims that he's not the first to try this trick and was, in fact, inspired by another criminal attempting just that.
  • The Island. Lincoln Six-Echo, like all of his compatriots, is a clone unknowingly being bred as spare parts for his original sponsor. After he escapes, meets and is betrayed by his original he tricks his pursuers into killing the original instead. Ironically then uses the original’s excuse (“people will do anything to survive”) to convince his pursuers to let him go. Although they did believe he was the original at the point.
  • How to Kill Your Clone. A 2012 short film where the protagonist hires a third party - Clone Killer Corporation – to do the deed. Since he and his clone are identical in every way, it seems a smart move..
  • Predestination: In the final scenes of the film, the Barkeep finally finds the Fizzle Bomber, only to discover that it was himself, only older. After arguing he shoots the bomber multiple times. Given the way the film twists his life through time travel and paradox, this is almost the most normal aspect of the plot.
  • The Prestige: The first time Angier tests Tesla's device he looks up to see it has created a duplicate of himself. He immediately grabs a gun and shoots the duplicate. He then uses the device as his new act, "teleporting" himself clear across the theatre. At the end, it's shown he's kept the secret by dumping the previous version of himself into a tank of water each time a duplicate was created. The closing shot is of an entire warehouse full of drowned duplicates. No matter which way one thinks the device works, the original Angier died either during the initial test or the first time the trick was performed.
  • Rocket Jump's short film Halloween Massacre had Freddie Wong infiltrate a bar filled with his duplicates, innocently whiling the hours away. Being Freddie, he promptly slaughters them all, before being shot in turn and replaced by the last surviving double. The duplicate’s happy grin as he is driven away is pure Nightmare Fuel.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis. The Romulans cloned Captain Picard for a Kill and Replace plot that never ended up happening for some reason, and discarded said clone in a Slave Mine because he was no longer necessary. Perhaps understandably, the clone grew up to have a really big grudge against the Romulan Star Empire and a bad case of Sibling Rivalry where Jean-Luc was concerned, and would have been quite a sympathetic character if he hadn't been a sadistic homicidal lunatic.
  • Subverted in Ebenezer (1998), a Western retelling of A Christmas Carol. In the bad future, present-day Scrooge is so desperate to stop the showdown he shoots at his own future self, but due to how the time travel works it has no effect.
  • In Deadpool 2, in The Stinger, Deadpool uses a time machine to kill the Deadpool at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine as well as killing his own actor Ryan Reynolds for accepting the script to Green Lantern.
  • Us has doppelgangers emerging to kill the original selves. And in the case of the protagonist family, all four are responsible for the undoing of their "Tethered": the husband turns on a boat engine on his, the eldest daughter brakes a car and throws her copy which was hanging from the windshield away, the youngest son makes his walk into a fire, and the wife impales her doppelganger. Or is it the other way around...
  • In Avengers: Endgame, Nebula kills her past self from 2014 to stop her from delivering the Infinity Gauntlet over to Thanos. Thankfully, this does not result in her being erased from history due to the way time travel works in the MCU.

    Gamebooks 
  • Lone Wolf: The whole of book 19, Wolf's Bane, is about Lone Wolf pursuing and dueling with his Evil Knockoff, first on Magnamund and then on another world. In the end, although he receives help from Alyss (who prevents Wolf's Bane from cheating), Lone Wolf deals the fatal blow by turning the Doppelgänger's sword on himself.

    Literature 
  • The Ur-Example is probably Edgar Allan Poe's short story "William Wilson", published in 1839. Or it might be Driven to Suicide. The ending is ambiguous.
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is another early example of this trope. Faced with becoming the monstrous alter-ego Hyde permanently, Jekyll apparently commits suicide. His body was found with a letter ending "I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end."
  • Duelled. The City of Kersh is supposed to be a safe haven, but there is a catch. Each person has a genetic duplicate living in the city, and to prove their worth they must hunt and kill their alternates before their twentieth birthday.
  • The Dark Half. In this Steven King book, a horror writer unwittingly creates a double of himself, who proceeds to gleefully slaughter anything that could bleed in straight line between him and the author. His intention of doing the same to his progenitor doesn't go so well, after the original has him pecked to death by sparrows, of all things.
  • The Duplicate, by William Sleator. You would think people would have learned not to make evil copies of themselves by now, wouldn’t you?
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had Hermione Granger given a time turner to attend multiple classes. She was also explicitly warned of its danger, as it was stated that using it has led to people who "ended up killing their past or future selves."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Farscape episode "My Three Crichtons" has Crichton split by an energy probe into the original, a caveman version and a highly evolved version. As the probe will continue to tear their ship apart until one of the Crichtons is fed to it, a game of cross & double-cross ensues. The Neanderthal Crichton, by killing future Crichton, earns the strange distinction of saving an alternate by being an alternate who killed his alternate. Then saves the original (and everyone else) by sacrificing himself to the probe.
  • The Stargate SG-1 season 3 episode "Point of View" has Teal'c confront his duplicate who is leading an invasion of Earth in another reality, offering him the choice of helping liberate the world — or die. Other Teal'c chooses poorly, is disposed of, replaced, and the invasion sabotaged.
  • Star Trek has visited this trope on numerous occasions – surprisingly, the ubiquitous Transporter malfunction isn’t always the culprit:
    • Ibudan, a minor Star Trek: Deep Space Nine villain, literally stabbed his newly made clone in the back as part of a plot to frame Odo for Ibudan’s murder. Thwarted when Doctor Bashir recreated the process and hatched out yet another clone.
    • Star Trek: Voyager. Transporting Tuvok, Neelix and an alien flower that combines genetic material resulted in the creation of Tuvix, a single amalgamation of all three. Although he didn’t directly try to murder his originals, he tried to prevent the crew from splitting him as this would be tantamount to his own murder as a unique individual, and he regarded the original crew members as already lost. Has the unusual distinction of two separate characters having the same alternate, causing a two to one murder ratio.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard shoots his future self in the episode "Time Squared".
    • And again in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Parallells", Worf has an encounter with a quantum fissure and ends up travelling through different parallell universes. Later in the episode, the Enterprise has an encounter with numerous parallell unvierse versions of the ship after it has a mishap involving said quantum fissure. Worf gets sent to the fissure with a shuttlecraft from his Enterprise, only to get shot at by an Enterprise from a timeline where the Borg succeeded in conquering the Federation. This leads to Riker from the Enterprise that Worf ended up on ordering Wesley to disable that other Enterprise, which leads to the other Enterprise being blown up from how weak it had become from fighting the Borg.
  • The Red Dwarf episode where to restore Earth's timeline, President Kennedy has to die. And who better to kill JFK - and drive the conspiracy theorists nuts as they'll never be able to figure it out - but the JFK from the alternate, Crapsack World, timeline?
    • A mishap with a technical doohickey of the week has Red Dwarf copied twice. Once, they're good counterparts, the other, evil counterparts. The main Dwarf crew avoid getting killed by their evil twins, the good ones get slaughtered mercilessly. Because good is dumb. As an act of self preservation, the crew manage to blow up the evil cast.
  • In The Flash (2014), the first thing the Atom Smashes does upon arriving to Earth 1 is kill his non-meta-human counterpart. It's not stated why he does this. Also, when Dr. Light is brought from Earth 2 by Zoom to kill the Flash of Earth 1 (Barry), she decides that her only way of escaping the evil speedster is to Kill and Replace her Earth 1 non-meta counterpart Linda Park. Luckily, she's stopped before she can succeed. Additionally, Zoom does this several times to his own "time remnant". The first time, the "remnant" is pretending to be Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, and his murder is designed to force Barry to seek revenge. The second time is just to show Barry that this trick requires being crazy enough to be capable of killing yourself (and being crazy enough to allow yourself to be killed). Caitlin's Earth-2 counterpart Killer Frost tries to kill her after Caitlin frees her, but than Zoom saves Caitlin and kills Frost instead.
  • At the end of the Arrowverse four-show crossover Crisis on Earth-X, Oliver kills his alternate-universe Nazi doppelganger.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "In Another Life", the version of Mason Stark who killed everyone in his office tried to kill the Eigenphase Industries CEO Mason.

    Podcasts 
  • Welcome to Night Vale. The entire town ended up in to-the-death fights with their duplicates during a sandstorm. Later used to discredit the mayor, less for being a de-facto murderer (which people kind of ignore by that point) than because she can't prove whether the original or the duplicate won.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons. In the earlier editions, if the clone created by a Clone spell and the original exist at the same time, they are both aware of each others existence and will try to kill each other, because the thought of having an alter ego is unbearable to both of them.
  • In Changeling: The Lost, most people kidnapped and made into Changelings by the True Fae come back to find a Fetch imitation living their life in their place. The Seasonal Courts encourage Changelings to destroy those mockeries, although a fair few don't have the heart to kill an alternate version of themselves — and a fair few Fetches are able to kill their Changelings when they try.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock Infinite:
    • Near the end of the game Booker DeWitt kills his Alternate Universe self Zachary Hale Comstock, the main villain of the game, completely unaware hat they were the same person.
    • At the very end of the game Booker DeWitt allows himself to be drowned, which destroys all of his Alternate Universe Comstock selves.
  • In Bravely Default, Ringabel fulfills this trope several times by killing Alternis.
  • Agent 47's debut game ends with him massacring around a dozen Mr. 48s; They are him but without a mind of their own, instead blindly following orders from their "father", who also meets his end after 47 uses a dead 48 to fool a barcode scanner. The sequel has one more "brother", Mr. 17, who doesn't survive long either.
  • The Legend of Zelda frequently uses this trope, with Dark & Shadow versions of Link who appear as enemies in much of the series.
  • The Mass Effect 3 DLC Citadel has you fighting an identity thief and preventing them from stealing your life. It turns out that they are a clone created by Cerberus to serve as spare parts for you in the second game, and no matter which ending you choose the clone dies, either at your hands or their own, to show their utter rejection of you.
  • Mortal Kombat is one of the bloodier examples, when combined with Mirror Match. Over the years the game designers have come up with more gruesome fatalities than a late night Saw marathon.
  • In Tales of Maj'Eyal, the only way to unlock the Paradox Mage class is to play as a Temporal Warden and allow your future self to kill you.
  • In Star Trek: Starfleet Command, one campaign mission involves a Mirror Match between you (and your ship) and your Mirror Universe Evil Counterpart in an exactly same ship. Naturally, destroying the other ship ends your other self.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Archer is out to kill his alternative self Shirou. He is injured in the first route and other things take priority in the third route, but the middle route greatly explores his reasons for why.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater: In the Castle of Ordeals, the only thing the castle could find that was evil enough to represent Black Mage's own evil was Black Mage himself. After pointing out various other evil deeds the castle had missed and turning his doppleganger into a world ending threat, BM dispatches him with deceit and application of his trusty stabbing knife through the back and out the heart.
  • Goblins has a dungeon called the Maze of Many. It's built to bring together every possible version of a team of adventurers, and then have them race through the maze until one team reaches the end and escapes. Since many groups are evil, insane or just bored and hungry, they will happily murder everyone else along the way, and it invariably ends in a mass free-for-all in the final room. Then the Maze resets, resurrects the dead and sends everyone back to start over every time someone wins. The body-count of alts is insane. The main story party failed over 1.9 million times, and from their final run it's safe to assume a lot of those were at the hands their alt's. Also, at the claws, teeth, axes, magic tentacles — you get the idea.
  • Mulberry: In "Outatime", a crossover with Back to the Future, Jennifer Parker meets a Jennifer from another timeline upon returning to 1985. She declares that only one Jennifer Parker can exist, and chops up the other one with an axe.
  • Neon Ice Cream Headache: Subverted. It's the intent of the Blood Sport, but Jose is having none of it.
  • Schlock Mercenary has a gate-clone sent to replace his original. The attempt fails when the original burns a hole through him, and since the original is an arms dealer with serious enemies, he finishes the switch, poses his alt's dead body and legs it. This seriously confuses the police Evi-bot.
  • In General Protection Fault, Trish tries to seduce Nick in order to gain access to his secrets, but luckily, he rebuffs her advances. Some time later, Nick and Ki run into another Trish, who's never met them before, and look into the fact that there are two Trishes together. The first Trish, an evil counterpart of Trish from the Nega-Verse, shoots her counterpart, saying that she's going to "commit suicide," then claims to have dissociative identity disorder. While Nick, a former Horrible Judge of Character, doesn't buy that excuse, the group doesn't learn of the existence of the Nega-verse until some time later.

    Web Original 
  • In SCP Foundation, SCP-1587 ("Dreamland") involves a professor who creates a device that allows lucid dreaming (experiencing a dream as if it were reality). One night he watches several films about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. When he dreams that night, he is killed by a Nazi version of himself from the dream dimension.
  • Cracked published a guide entitled "So Your Clone Is Trying To Murder You" - proposed solutions including summoning a third clone from one of the bad dimensions and murdering them instead. Averted when the original and the magical murder-clone agree to become housemates instead. Somehow it still managed to end with the line "MY LOVE. MY HEART. WE HAVE ARRANGED FOR ME TO GIVE YOU CRISPY LOVE."
  • Tales of MU has the Doppleganger Paradox — "It means perfect duplicates of intelligent beings won't be able to rest until they've destroyed each other." Coach Callahan thought that was just her, but since she has slaughtered everything up to and including a deity, it's not that surprising.

    Western Animation 
  • In Archer, Krieger discovers he has three Klon-Bruders. He later kills them to prevent the launch of biological WMD's, although it's unclear if the last Krieger standing was the original (creators are remaining mum).
  • Stewie from Family Guy has taken a raygun to his future self for failing to know the answer to a pop star’s future life, and was almost killed by his own home-made evil clone. Who cut off Brian's tail and used it to choke Stewie almost to death.
  • Futurama: The Professor invents a time machine that only goes forward in time. He, Bender and Fry end up going past the end of the universe. The universe reboots and starts over again in the exact same way. They get back to their present by landing their time machine on top of a future/alternate version of the Professor, Bender and Fry just before they set out on their own time machine journey.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Steven and the Stevens", Steven finds a time-travel device and decides to use to create a band composed entirely of Stevens. What could go wrong? Right, yes, silly question - dozens of time-clones engage in a mass-melee of each other, until a Heroic Sacrifice by the original Steven wipes them out, himself included. Then the one Steven remaining, thoroughly confused, ends up writing a cheery song about it.
    I learned to stay true to myself
    By watching myself die...
  • The Legend of Zelda: In "Doppelganger", Ganon uses a magic mirror to kidnap Zelda and replace her with a duplicate. At the end, after Zelda's proved herself to be the original, she grabs Link's sword and zaps her duplicate with it.

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