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Only Six Faces

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You can only go so far with felt and scissors, after all.

"What kind of women do you prefer/identify with?"
• Cute girls who look the same as other girls but have blond hair
• Cute girls who look the same as other girls but have pink hair
• Cute girls who look the same as other girls but have blue hair
• Cute girls who look the same as other girls but are secretly demons with dark hair
— Question 4 of the "What anime should you watch" quiz, Unwinder's Tall Comics

In Real Life, different people have different faces—barring identical twins or doppelgangers—but this does not always hold true when it comes to media. Sure, a child, teenager, and adult of both sexes will be visually distinct from each other (often solely by height), but beyond that… all bets are off.

Impossibly Cool Clothes, You Gotta Have Blue Hair, and Signature Headgear can create an extremely powerful framing effect, meaning the rest of the character's design may be quite simple as a shortcut. The unfortunate result may be a fundamentally homogenized artstyle, exacerbated if the designs are simplified further for characters who must be easy to animate in large groups. Naturally this runs the risk of looking somewhat cheap, especially if the cast gets very large. This can be compensated with color redesigns, or sticking a character habitually into one outfit, because said outfit is more distinctive than the actual character. In contrast, homogenous outfits (like school uniforms) tend to encourage faces to be drawn differently. Because of this, a character's outfit actually changing usually means its supposed to mark an emotional change in either them or how we're supposed to see them. A simple haircut can also mess up with who the character is very easily.


Anime and manga typically use a large amount of eye variation (employing all sorts of non-existent eye colors (red, purple, etc.), eye shapes (slanted inward, slanted outward, slit pupils, etc) and hair variation (with unrealistic (but natural) colors and styles that defy physics), along with other distinguishing features such as scars, tattoos, etc. rather than changing the overall shape of the face itself (anime and manga also stop short at skin colors, though, because taking too much liberty with them as with eye and hair colors could result in sickly or monstrous-looking characters). This results in various instances of Ambiguously Brown characters, where skin tone is the only clue for guessing the characters' ethnicity. Similarly, early western superheroes often look alike aside from their distinctive costumes, particularly those created prior to The Dark Age of Comic Books, where pretty much every superhero was a classically handsome white guy with varying hair colours and styles, with varying eye and face shapes usually used to specifically denote ethnicity, with people of the same ethnicity tending to look alike.


Faceless Masses takes this trope to the extreme. The opposite of Cast of Snowflakes, where even the most incidental characters' designs tend to be unique and well-defined. Sounds like but is unrelated to Same Face, Different Name, which is about creators going by different monikers. A clever creator can work around this and create a Reused Character Design habit. See also Generic Cuteness (every character has the same cutesy features), Only One Female Mold (all female characters have the same body type) and You ALL Look Familiar (the videogame version).


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    Anime and Manga 
As the page quote implies and the length of this section proves, this is a common situation in anime, especially for female characters. However, each show/verse tends to have its own distinct face-style, with more dramatic differences between certain studios and character designers. It's hard to market a new series if the characters look too generic, but having dramatic differences in simplistic face designs within the same show can be distracting.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and its sequels/spinoffs have about four basic body and face types - and character designer Hisashi Hirai's every work after Gundam Seed (Heroic Age, Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor) features the exact same character designs, arguably due to Gundam Seed's great success. (Which is a shame because he was quite versatile in his earlier works.) It gets a little absurd when you notice that the only difference between Kazuki from Fafner and Shinn from SEED Destiny is eye color. This let him earn his Fan Nickname and Pun in Chinese that translates to "bottleneck" (which is pronounced the same way as "Hirai" in Chinese), indicating he cannot get through his design bottleneck and kept using the same face over and over. The 2012 Remaster of Gundam SEED is another perfect example. While SEED was the start of his generic art style, at least the early episodes had the characters with more distinctive features and unique quirks. The remaster completely throws these out in favor of making everyone look as identical as they did in SEED Destiny.
  • Lampshaded in G Gundam Abridged where Domon points out that his brother Kyoji looks a lot like American Chibodee Crockett, for which he blames the animators.
  • Ken Akamatsu's extensive cast of females usually end up like this:
    • In the most extreme example, Master of Disguise Kanako seems almost a Lampshade Hanging, easily dressing up as any of the Love Hina characters and passing off the big-breasted Mutsumi as Keitaro with little more than some makeup and hair styling, glasses, and a sarashi.
    • The first Negima! animated series also received flak for changing the hairstyles of the girls to more bold/garish colors. Interestingly, its creator admitted not all of his own color choices were static at that point and in fact began using some introduced colors as official ones because they were cute or make them more distinguishable in merchandise and group shots.
    • The spinoff manga Negima Neo is really bad about this; pick two random characters who are doing a Moe Stare and their faces will probably look exactly the same.
    • In Sayo's profile, he apologized for making her a white-haired Konoka.
  • Pani Poni Dash! parodies this by just having two generic characters (one male and one female) that look out of place compared to the main characters taking up often dozens of seats in a classroom in one shot. Sometimes these characters are randomly replaced with other objects, including, but not limited to animals.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler is a pretty standard example of both this and Generic Cuteness. Subverted later on in the manga and especially with the 2012 anime, which turns the series into a Cast of Snowflakes.
  • Bleach: Attractive characters tend to have the exact same facial features, sans eyes and hair, while characters who look older or are uglier tend to be very diverse in their designs. Art Evolution also homogenized once very different characters as if a single face-shape template is now used. When Uryuu was mistaken for Ichigo, a close up of his face was accompanied by his response, "You got a good look at his face, didn't you? So what part of me resembles Kurosaki?" Cue Memetic mutations and a fandom Running Gag that Tite Kubo is having fun with this trope. Kubo's been able to hide plot points in plain sight until The Reveal due to fans not knowing if he's using this trope or dropping clues, e.g., Zangetsu's resemblance to The Emperor.
  • Zombie Powder: Most of Tite Kubo's female characters tend to have the exact same face, differentiated only by their haircuts.
  • CLANNAD: Very similar body and facial types combined with everyone wearing the same uniform AND quite a few people sharing hair-color makes actually telling characters apart a real challenge.
  • Dragon Ball uses this often, with about five or six major body types copied over and over again due to the large amount of alien and monstrous races; this results in bizarre circumstances when characters like Vegeta and Jeiice meet up in Dragon Ball Z, especially when they wear the same uniform. In contrast, Bulma is one of the series's only reoccurring females since the original Dragon Ball, so she's often given a different design. (Akira Toriyama's main strength seems to lie in designing truly monstrous characters and vehicles.)
    • When Goku went to Namek to find a new Kami, he said that there were a lot of Piccolos in the village.
    • Android 18 is distinctive from all other female designs, while even Bulma has some resemblance to the generic female. 18 has a very different nose and eyes, probably because she was one of the only serious female fighters in the series. However, jet black her hair and you have Android 17. The similarity between the 17 and 18, along with them both having rather stand-out designs, could be intentionally invoking the Uncanny Valley.
    • Many of the main character's faces look very similar, with only small changes; Tenshinhan, Yamucha, Vegeta, and the adult versions of Goku, Gohan and Trunks all share several major features (thick eyebrows, pointy nose, large eyes). All of the above characters except Trunks also have the same eye color/design (plain black pupil, color indistinguishable). The only characters from the Cell-era group that really stick out physically are Chaozu (who is barely a speaking part at this point), Piccolo and Krillin.
    • Oddly, the villains seem immune - even bit players like Zarbon are given more distinct looks. And barring genetic resemblances, the main villains do not have look-alikes anywhere else in the series, while the heroes all resemble each other. The unique-villains, generic-heroes pattern is rigid enough that Vegeta, who was eventually destined for the heroes' side, already looked familiar on his first appearance thanks in part to the very similar face of his comrade Raditz, who himself is an exception to the unique-villain rule because he's Son Goku's brother but could've easily been mistaken for Vegeta's brother if they first showed up together; and Piccolo, who looked unique as a villain in Dragon Ball, only had his species, 90% carbon-copies who are mostly siblings, introduced shortly after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • One chapter of Toriyama's Doctor Slump indulged in a little self-parody. It involved Arale's friend Akane disguising herself as Midori and messing with Senbei, which the author described (through narration) as "A fiendish scheme that takes advantage of my inability to draw more than one female face!" Which is odd since that very chapter proves Arale has a different face...
  • Most of the women in the Lupin III franchise. It gets to the point that Japanese Fujiko can easily impersonate a Bound and Gagged Soviet officer and an American stewardess with nothing more than a stolen uniform and pair of contact lenses.
  • One Piece has a good deal of this, Eiichiro Oda does wonderful job of making all of his male characters have unique faces but his attractive female characters’s faces mostly tend to look alike. Though kudos to Oda he managed to avert this in the Amazon Lily arc where he had dozens of female characters with different facial features. Still even past the Time Skip, you too easily label female characters under “Nami clone” or “Robin clone” categories.
    • Originally even the male characters had similar features, e.g Shanks having the same eyes and face shape as Luffy (to the extent that fans widely assumed this was intentional and thought Shanks was Luffy's father) but then Art Evolution kicked in and Shanks looks distinctly different. Sanji also looked more like Luffy in the early days having a rounder face nowadays Sanji looks more like Zoro or Law being square-jawed.
  • Megumi Tachikawa's works seem to have only one face, leaving the reader constantly looking back to the character index. This was lampshaded in Kaitou Saint Tail, where Seira, who has different coloured hair and eyes from Meimi, dresses up as her seamlessly and needs to be pointed out with an arrow and note to the audience.
  • Osamu Tezuka deliberately chose to embrace this trope, Lampshade Hanging it by calling it the "Star System" as though his manga universe were a movie studio using actors; he came up with about forty recognizable character designs (occasionally to the point of Gonk in an effort to make them distinctive) and recycled them — even the instantly-recognizable ones like Black Jack and Atom — in multiple series.
    • This was continued by the creators of the movie version of Tezuka's Metropolis with the character Rock.
    • He took it up a notch in the Phoenix series. Not only did he use his major star system, but the primary theme of the series was reincarnation and the eternal struggle in attempting to catch the Phoenix. In the case of one soul, he was always doomed to have a large misshapen nose by the end of the story arc. Arguably the entire star system is these same people reincarnating again and again.
  • Fujio Akatsuka's mangas tend to avert this by giving characters very recognizable faces, but it still crops up in some of his works. Pretty girls like Akko or Totoko tend to have a standard "doe-eyed" look, and small children tend to have a "bird-mouthed" look similar to Chibita. Justified for the Matsuno brothers of Osomatsu-kun, however, as they are sextuplets.
    • Invoked in Osomatsu-san's first ending theme Six Same Faces, where the boys date a group of same-faced sextuplet girls and talk about how both sets seemed to encounter the same person 6 times.
  • Leiji Matsumoto tends to use the same faces over and over again. Sometimes it's explained (Mamoru Kodai was supposed to be Captain Harlock, for example), and sometimes it's not.
  • Earlier art for the Slayers novels have fairly distinguishable characters; as the Art Evolution set in, though, each character, moreso the females, become more and more identical facially and body-wise (both the anime and the books avoid using the same exact body types for the major female characters), leaving only their hair (and eyes, but very sporadically compared to before) as a distinguishing mark. Pick up the first Slayers Special novel, then pick up the latest Slayers Smash (a continuation) and be amazed. Most of the females look like Lina, with Lina's new distinguishing mark being her nipples sticking out everywhere.
  • Claymore can be weird about this. While all of the Claymores have fairly distinct facial features (impressive, given their identical coloration and uniformly unblemished skin), the unimportant human characters share maybe four or five faces between them, while important humans have distinctive faces.
  • Detective Conan:
    • Shinichi and Kaitou Kid are deliberately drawn alike, and have not-girlfriends, Ran and Aoko, who could be identical twins as well. Indeed in some non-canon movies this allows Kid to pass himself off as Shinichi whenever needed, without requiring a special disguise.
    • Where the series really runs headlong into this trope is in the many, many random people around the cast who drop dead of various murder schemes, and their friends and family who may or may not have done it. As of this edit there are more than 820 episodes in the anime and over 960 chapters in the manga... and the typical one or two episode case introduces a minimum of 4 to 6 one-shot characters. That is a lot of people to make up, so it's no wonder they all start to look the same.
    • Even Conan has a "twin"—Kataoka Jun from The Kidnapper's Disappearing Getaway Car. More noticeable when he wears an outfit that is the same as Conan's except with yellow bow when he finally accepts Sachiko as his second mother.
    • In fact, it's even a plot point in several cases, particularly one of the latest, where Ms. Kobayashi gets mistaken for Satou several times in the police station and worries Shiratori is only dating her for the semblance between the two. (He isn't.)
    • Also a plot point in the Lupin III vs. Detective Conan TV special, in which Ran is a Fake King lookalike of a European princess.
  • Gantz does this with Kurono and Inaba; both are similar enough in the black-and-white manga that it would be hard to tell the two apart...That is, if Kurono wasn't a great "everyone comes home alive, leave no man behind" hero type, and Inaba wasn't a cowardly wuss.
  • Rumiko Takahashi gets accused of this a lot with the rounded style of her characters' faces. This is especially noticeable in anthologies of her early work, where the heroes of different stories tend to look almost identical.
    • Inuyasha. It's funny when everyone says how much Kagome looks just like Kikyo when both look equally similar to Sango, and almost every other woman. In fact, the difference between Kagome's and Kikyo's hairstyles and skintones makes them look less like each other than any other two characters of the same age and sex you could compare. And while their resemblance is a plot point (due to reincarnation), there is no excuse for why every other young woman looks the same.
      • There was one episode involving a young priest and his three sisters, all of whom (well, the sisters) looked just like each other and Sango.
    • Inuyasha is essentially Ranma ½'s Ranma Saotome with a wig, contacts, and fangs (and they look even more identical during the one day a month that Inuyasha becomes an ordinary human), and Rinne Rokudo is Ranma in a track suit and red hair.
      • And Kagome is Akane, when she had long hair. And Yura of the Hair was Nabiki. And Myoga is absolutely indistinguishable from Happosai.
      • Ranma and Inuyasha even have the same voice actor. In Japanese and English.
    • Little kids (or characters who look like them) tend to suffer from this in her work too: Jariten (Urusei Yatsura), Shippo (Inuyasha), and Rokumon (RIN-NE) might as well be triplets.
    • Age and sex are what make her characters distinct. All children are Shippo, all young men are Miroku, all young women are Sango.
    • The constant hiding of Onigumo's face becomes hilarious when you consider that, as a young man before his injury, anybody who's watched that far knows what he must look like.
    • Scott McCloud (Making Comics, p. 123) gives a slightly different perspective on this by pointing out that Takahashi is one of a number of artists who "have a narrower range of features for heroic or beautiful protagonists, but a wide range of face and body types among supporting characters."
    • Random villagers tend to have more elongated faces than her main characters, though. You can tell who's going to be important to the episode by the presence or absence of the basic faces - if he looks like Miroku, you're either going to have to save him or kill him.
    • Rumiko Takahashi's use of Only Six Faces is most present in Ranma ½. As most of the characters are teenaged martial artists, they tend to be built the same and differences in body type (such as Akane's A-Cup Angst) tend to be implied through words rather than the illustrations themselves. With Mousse, Ryōga, and Ranma, if you cut all of their hair and got rid of Ryōga's bandana, they'd be virtually indistinguishable (aside from Ryōga's fangs and pale eyes). Same goes for Shampoo, Akane, Ukyō, Girl-Ranma, and the most of the other female characters. The adults mostly seem to be more distinct, though: Sōun and Genma don't have any almost-twins running around, for example.
  • Mushishi: Realistic hair and clothing, combined with simplified faces, means great difficulty telling most of the characters apart.
  • From manga to manga, Mishima Kazuhiko's characters tend to look the same.
  • The characters, especially the lead females, in Mitsuru Adachi's dozen or so manga series look very, very similar. In the art books, the only way to tell when one series stops and another begins is by the chapter headings. Each character within a series looks different, but each series has character designs similar to the previous one. With the exception of Nine and Cross Game, there's are only two heroine types in terms of appearances.
  • Captain Tsubasa in any adaption, especially the girls. They look almost the same with different hairstyle and color, which can be even more annoying when two girls use pigtails. Men don't get away with it either; Schneider is just Tsubasa with blonde hair and green or blue eyes.
  • Lampshaded in Fruits Basket. Hanajima and her younger brother Megumi are drawn with the same face, and everyone thinks they look alike...but Hana always protests that they look completely different.
  • Manga artist Sho-U Tajima tends to recycle a small handful of not just faces, but complete character designs over and over again for all of his different projects, resulting in characters that reside in completely different games and comics that wind up looking identical to one another in every way. For example, Rion Steiner of the game Galerians seems to be a clone of Hisashi Shimazu, a villain from MPD Psycho, right down to the single hoop earring.
  • Taka Tony is well known for being able to draw exactly one sort of face. It is off-set somewhat by the sheer detail put into the rest of his drawings but becomes disturbing when he has more than one character is a picture. He manages to play it straight and subvert it with his work with the Shining Force series: Female characters are almost the same girl wearing different dresses, but male characters (especially non-human ones) are very diverse, apart from maybe the lead males.
  • All of Wataru Yoshizumi's series suffer from this. One can find about 100 Marmalade Boy's Yuu look-alikes across her various works.
  • Yaoi mangaka Minami Haruka is well-known for having many of her characters look rather similar, compounded by the fact that she also tends to stick to one body type.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • While it has tons of Generic Cuteness and often relies on characteristics like Idiot Hair, many characters have distinctive eye shapes, face shapes, and expressions. The first four seasons of the anime adaptation, however, play it very straight, and doesn't help by giving everybody except for Cuba the exact same skin color.
    • There are a few instances of this in the manga. Word of God notes that Sweden's face is very similar to Germany and Prussia's faces, albeit with the idea of a "stern expression" more prominent; he explains this by saying that Sweden has family ties to Germany's ancestor Germania. In another instance, he acknowledges that Kugelmugel looks pretty much exactly like a shorter Iceland with braided twintails.
  • Hiro Mashima has often been decried of doing this both within and across his series Rave Master and Fairy Tail, especially in regards to his female characters, which can only be distinguishable by eye shape. Granted, the male characters who aren't elderly or outright inhuman tend to suffer from this as well; it's just that the inhuman female characters are always cute. It's gotten to the point where people are crying foul over his follow-up work, EDENS ZERO, for essentially just recoloring the hair of Fairy Tail's main leads and passing them off as new characters; and that's not taking into consideration the fact that the main characters of Fairy Tail are guilty of this themselves, evident when one examines his other works such as Monster Soul.
  • Although Blade of the Immortal is notable for its more realistic style and lack of the usual visual gags, the female characters (except for Doa) have the same face. If Rin didn't have those hair rings, she would be practically indistinguishable from the other female characters.
  • Yuu Watase is particularly bad about this - they appear to have two teenager/young adult faces, male and female, with different hairstyles and the occasional Gonk thrown in for good measure (and other age groups aren't exactly bursting with variety). In Imadoki!, Watase actually had to change a character's hair color in order to make him distinguishable from another after he shaved his goatee. This is made even worse because of the two short stories shoehorned into the last volume of Imadoki!, both starring male and female protagonists who are 100% identical to the ones from the story that just finished... and equally indistinguishable from the lead couples of Shinshunki Miman Okotowari, Fushigi Yuugi, Absolute Boyfriend, and Alice19th.
  • With some occasional exceptions, Full Metal Panic! seems to be populated with face-clones.
  • The female students in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei are the same design except for hair and eye style or props, making it difficult for the uninitiated to tell them apart.
    • Exception: The foreign exchange student, Kimura, is very easy to tell apart from the other girls, being the only blonde/blue-eyed girl in the show. She also wears a different uniform.
    • Maria also averts the trope to some degree, although it may be due to her different skin tone rather than her actual facial features. Then we have the Gonk Kotokon...
    • Naturally, Kiri is the easiest one to tell apart, since the times when she's not wrapped up in her blanket is when she's being Ms. Fanservice.
    • This gets even more apparent with the end-of-episode guest artwork from other six-face mangakas, like Rumiko Takahashi.
  • Ignoring the expy nature of most of the side characters from Sailor Moon—imported from Codename: Sailor VNaoko Takeuchi really only has about six faces for all her series: The deep male, the innocent male, the mature female, the innocent female, the cheery female, and the nondescript either. And even the mature vs. innocent looks are often blurred during mature moments, and vice-versa. A good example is this - everyone's wearing similar facial expressions and a face swap should lead to near identical results. Male characters do look very similar, this is more blatant with Ao no Sapphire, who not only has the standard young male face, but his hair is almost the same in style and color as Mamoru's, just a with a very slight wave and stylized more bluish. In some parts of the manga, where the hair of both guys in black (the manga is in black and white) is very hard to distinguish them if it wasn't by Sapphire's black moon mark in the forehead. It's also why Haruka's Bifauxnen look is so convincing, as she's given the "young man" facial structure.
  • Lampshaded in a Gintama, a manga known for its abundant fourth wall breaking, a couple of times:
    • In an omake, where Ginpachi-sensei explains how to draw the characters.
      "Next I'll teach you how to draw Shinpachi and Kagura. Draw a normal guy; make him as bland as possible. Then give him glasses. You're done! Next, how to draw Kagura. Take off Shinpachi's glasses and change the hair to white. Then give her dumplings. You're done!"
    • In the host club arc, while arguing like little kids as usual, the characters make some self-aware remarks, noting that pairs like Gintoki-Hijikata and Shinpachi-Sougo look exactly the same, only differing in hair colors.
    • In the amnesiac shogun arc, as his comrades frustratingly hint him at who the heck he is with and how the heck he's not recognizing he's with the shogun, saying something like "That guy kinda looks like someone important, don't ya think?" as the shogun's face is shown on the TV, Katsura, in his typical absolutely oblivious and stupid fashion, replies, "So you guys all see it too. If you put this topknot wig, every character in this manga looks the same." which is true.
  • Masami Kurumada of Saint Seiya fame is very famous for this. He has two faces for men (normal men and bulky men), one face for little boys and one face for girls. That's all. The fact that many of his characters share similar hairstyles doen't really help — it was for that reason that the anime adaptation gave them tons of different hair colors.
  • In Fist of the North Star, more than a handful of the women look remarkably similar, which is used as a plot point. Also, before his character development kicked in, Rei looked a lot like Shin.
  • Takako Shimura, mangaka of works such as Sweet Blue Flowers and Wandering Son, even admits that she always draws works where the characters don't look very different (which means many characters from different series look like characters from other series). When the only apparent differences between girls and boys are hairstyle and clothes, it's not exactly surprising that Nitori can easily pass for a girl just by putting on a hairband. Art Evolution comes into place by middle school in Wandering Son and fixes the issue but some characters, like Kanako and Nitori, still look pretty similar.
  • Lampshaded in an omake for Psychic Squad, when a male character asks to keep his signature headband because there's already two other guys with the same hair/face style and he's worried about not being recognized.
  • The female characters in Yamatogawa's stories are all quite distinct. The main male character is the same guy across all stories.
  • Masamune Shirow is a major offender here. His male characters are ok and plentiful, but he seems to only have one female face he can draw (and he did comment on this in his artbooks quite a few times).
    • In his case, though, it should be noted that this is most egregious with his female leads (of which he has quite a few, and they have very similar professions). Secondary female cast members tend to be quite varied in age and appearance (particularly across nationalities, as is the case in Appleseed). His own admission also pertained to his tendency towards women as commissioned officers in police or military forces as the central protagonist, and began making some effort towards that in his later manga (with Leona Ozaki of Dominion: Conflict No. 1 looking immediately different than his past heroines).
  • Most of the characters in Girls Bravo, specifically the girls, have similar looking faces.
  • Despite Akiko Hatsu's skill in drawing brilliantly detailed settings, antiques and clothes in both Victorian England and Ancient Japan, most of her characters tend to look very similar. Not that they are less beautiful as a result, but it's just somewhat confusing when there is two teen protagonists, both with supernatural powers, both with dark hair, both of similar build, in two completely unrelated comics.
  • Psyren is usually just a mild case of this with its male characters, but it has a few especially jarring examples with its main character. That was very confusing during the fight at the Grigori research facility when Ageha fights a guy who looks almost identical to him.
  • In the beginning, Naruto actually averted this, with characters having different faces. But as a side effect of Art Evolution, if the character is a young adult, it has the same chin and mouth as every other young adult regardless of gender. Several characters also strongly resemble each other; its usually justified though as most are either related in some way, or the resemblance is deliberately symbolic (for instance, Yahiko/ Deva Pain looks almost exactly like an older Naruto; this is probably to reflect his status as an Evil Counterpart).
    • An odd variant of this exists in the movies. While male characters usually have unique designs, many of the main female characters appear to be re-colored versions of characters from the show itself. For instance, Shion in Naruto Shippuden: The Movie appears to be a platinum blond version of Hinata (complete with pupil-less Magical Eyes that are essentially a palette-swapped Byakugan) while Amaru in Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds resembles a tanned Tayuya. There's also a character named Matsuri who was initially created in an anime filler episode before appearing in the manga who looks just like Sakura but with brown hair and eyes.
  • All of Arina Tanemura's main heroines have a similar face, gigantic-eyed and all, with eye-size variations and her male characters only occasionally bear different-sized eyes and pupils. She is fond of long hair so most heroines also have Rapunzel Hair, though she does style it differently from character to character.
  • Kaori Yuki was guilty of this during earlier years (the first six volumes of God Child and the first volumes of Angel Sanctuary, possibly earlier work too). There was always a man with slightly longer, dark hair, a blonde/brunette women with long, curly hair, and a line of young boys with blond hair (honestly, could anyone tell Eric, Ariel and that boy from the God child chapter Who killed Cock Robin apart?)
  • Bizenghast is very much a victim of this. Almost all the young women and men, including Vincent and Dinah, have the same face with different hair. (The old men and women were slightly less subjected to it.) They all seem to have the same height as well.
  • Studio Gainax's Yoshiyuki Sadamoto even satirized himself with this; pointing out that you could draw Shinji by drawing Nadia's face with different hair.
  • H-Manga artist Shunjyo Shusuke is a heavily blatant case of only one face and body for either gender (and it's only a matter of effort in eye-shine to make one into the other) however this is excusable with the variations in personalities and the fact that both models are detailed enough to stand out compared to more typical anime styles.
  • Yamamoto Yoshifumi, another H-manga artist is a funny case in that he started using exactly one face with the only difference between the genders were the breasts making women look like walking letter "Ps" then changed his style to make everyone shorter, rounder and more Moe-like... and it's still exactly one face!
  • From Eroica with Love is an example that oddly supports and subverts this trope. Sparing differences in hair, eyes, and wardrobe, "handsome" characters (i.e. Klaus, Dorian, and Agent Z) look very similar. Comic relief and other supporting characters (i.e. Agents A and B, Mr. James, and Bonham) are distinctive in appearance: these folks vary greatly in terms of build, facial and skull shape, height, etc.
  • Shuichi Shigeno has, perhaps inevitably, slipped into this territory. More than a few longtime readers have pointed out that the Two Guys From Tokyo are essentially an overweight Takumi and Itsuki and, when Mika was introduced, honestly thought for a while that Natsuki had made a comeback.
  • Earlier in his career, Tsukasa Hojo, creator of Cat's Eye and City Hunter, only had one "beautiful woman" face, and considering the all female main cast of one series and the vast amount of female clientele in the other, it was a face you saw quite a lot of. As City Hunter went on, this began to change, however, most evident with Kaori, who supposedly looks like a cute boy, except at first she looks like every other girl.
  • After the wonderful contrast of Hugh Laurie's near-bishounen Bertie and crooked-nosed Stephen Fry's round-faced Jeeves in Jeeves and Wooster, and the gajillion different artist's interpretations of the two over the years, it's a more than a little disappointing to read the manga Please, Jeeves and find that ALL the men have the same face-shape, just with different eyes and hair.
  • Lampshaded in Kodocha. Fuka and Sana have practically identical faces. However, as a whole, Kodocha averts this trope.
  • Aoi Nishimata may have recycled a few faces here and there.
  • Strike Witches characters exhibit a rather remarkable similarity with each other.
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka this seems to be going on with the girls' faces. Put them all in a row and ignore their hair colors. Surprise!
  • Up to Eleven and invoked in Mori no Ando as every character has the exact same face.
  • Manwha by Hwang Ri Mi and Han Yu-rang can be accused of this. Most characters can only be distinguished by clothes and hairstyles, and the "ugly" characters are Hollywood Homely.
  • Though the males can come off better, every female character in Jormungand has the exact same, triangle like face.
  • Shojo mangaka Haruka Fukushima is incredibly guilty of this (though got slightly better after time), to the point that most of her heroines have the exact same hairstyle and hair color.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure tends to fall into this as Araki's art style evolves over the years. For example, in Part 3, three of the main characters - Jotaro, Kakyoin, and Polnareff - are virtually only distinguishable due to their different hairstyles and outfits.
    • Around the middle of Part 7 is where it's the worst, but since everyone has such crazy and unique outfits and general appearances, you can still tell them apart, even if all women (and most guys) have the same vacant stare and semi-open mouth.
    • Araki seems to be at least partially aware of this problem based on the stand Paper Moon King from Part 8, which can afflict it's targets with face blindness. This is shown from the victim's perspective by drawing every character they see with the same face.
  • While No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! (at least the anime version) is pretty good at avoiding this, episode 2 and the end of the first volume of the manga had an in-universe example. Tomoko gets excited because a boy in her class drew her fairly pretty, so she thinks he might have a crush on her. Turns out, as he's in the manga club, he draws all the background girls with the exact same face. He mentions how that to him, this design is for characters who are "nothing special."
  • Morinaga Milk's protagonists are often identical to Mari from Girl Friends.
  • Kyoto Animation has been running into this problem around the late Oughts. After the runaway success of K-On!, many characters of their later anime like Hyouka, Tamako Market, and Sound! Euphonium uses the same basic facial model for the girls and the boys. Their styles are actually different between anime when you compare them, but they're still very similar to the casual eye which has made many people mistake Kyoto Animation for only having one art style.
    • Free!, another Kyoto Animation work, runs into this problem as well. Girls and younger-looking boys such as Nagisa and Nitori (as well as full grown adult Ms. Amakata) tend to follow the standard Puni Plush model. Bishōnen boys end up either looking like Haruka or Makoto. Particularly Makoto, as Eternal Summer's Sousuke looks like a darker-haired Makoto with Tsurime Eyes, while Rei's brother looks exactly like Makoto with blue hair.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun has an in-universe example to lampshade such trend in Shoujo manga. Many of the male characters in Nozaki's manga Let's Fall in Love! use Suzuki as a character model. This was exacerbated in chapter 77, where Yuzuki is completely unable to tell the guys apart, and wonders why their hairstyle changes every few panels or so.
  • Aside from Shouko, Shoya, and Tomohiro many A Silent Voice characters look alike. It's especially common with background characters, to the point where there was a fan controversy about the final chapter revolving around whether a new female character was a previously seen male character.
  • Sgt. Frog: Keronians are a borderline case, since they come in a rainbow of colors and a few even throw out the humanoid build. Thankfully all Keronians have their own personal symbols.
  • Hentai manga artist Gunma Kisaragi suffers from this big time when it comes to his female characters. Aside from breast size and accessories, (i.e, glasses, hairstyles, etc.) every female character has the exact. Same. Face. The fact that his widely-praised art style is rarely critiqued makes matters worse, as it gives him little incentive to diversify designs.note 
  • Applied In-Universe, twice, during the eighth episode of Comic Girls, a series about Sequential Artists:
    • Kaoruko's storyboard is rejected by Amizawa partly because of this trope.
    • Love Interests in Koyume's Shoujo manga are all based on Tsubasa, a boyish girl where she has a crush on.
  • Despite its distinct costume designs, hairstyles, and height, many of A-1 Pictures works like Sword Art Online and Aldnoah.Zero tends to have this problem, especially when it comes to its plethora of female characters, with only slight variations on eye-shape.

  • This is an actual documented issue in ancient art history. Surviving burial portraits from Roman Egypt resemble each other more than real people would. The painters must have mixed-and-matched a limited repertoire of features, making this trope Older Than Feudalism. (This could also be due to Ancient Egyptian art's long history of making people look good, rather than realistic.)
  • Porn artist Zimmerman (well known for Rule 34-ing lots of cartoon characters, mostly Jessica Rabbit and Disney princesses) is amazing in how he can draw the same girl over 1000 times in a year, yet they are described as being different characters. Be even more amazed in the fact that he has been doing this for almost a decade and that his models range from Belle to Lara Croft.
  • Greek Statues, due to the emphasis being on human perfection. The Romans, however, have more variation.
  • Much as with Classical Greek statues, Regency official portraits tended to all look alike, "because they're painted to a romantic ideal rather than as a true depiction of the idiosyncratic facial qualities of the person in question". Historically, this contributed to Prince George marrying Caroline of Brunswick, who so repelled him on actually meeting that he immediately begged off claiming to feel unwell (and Caroline wasn't very impressed with George either, which didn't help things). The whole marriage was such a disaster he attempted (unsuccessfully) to divorce her, and a good many of his relatives started desperately trying to produce an heir (when it became clear he was never going to have any legitimate children), eventually leading to Queen Victoria.
  • Byzantine art is classified by gold backgrounds, pattern drapery and stylized facial types. Most figures in the paintings look like they are related to each other.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Archie is relatively well-known for this, as a common story involves Betty or Veronica merely placing on a wig to imitate the other, leaving every other character completely fooled. In fact, the only female characters in Archie Comics not to have the same body and face type are either older women, the rare 'super-attractive' types such as Cheryl Blossom or Melody, who possess larger busts and more curves, or the Gonks like Big Ethel.
    • In one comic, Betty and Veronica both dyed their hair red. Aside from hair style, they looked identical.
    • It varies from artist to artist. Sometimes Cheryl Blossom and Melody have the same body as every other girl. Cheryl Blossom is lucky enough to get a slightly different face most of the time, though. In the early comics before the series developed its signature style, the two looked more different as well.
    • It is averted in Afterlife with Archie, as Francesco Francavilla manages to give every character a distinctive face and body. His Betty and Veronica are quite different (with Betty being taller, bustier and less slender than Ronnie), and it only diversifies from there.
    • Averted in the Archie Comics (2015) reboot, where more effort is given to distinguish Betty and Veronica.
  • This was initially the case for the original black and white releases of the first volumes of Scott Pilgrim, with characters like Scott, Ramona, Stacie, Kim and Young Neil sharing much of the same features and having similar head shapes despite being completely different characters, with much of the differentiation between the cast coming through their hairstyles. Bryan Lee O'Malley's art style changed over the course of the series, however, and most of the cast's looks diversified with at least one unique facial characteristic for each character (Knives having Black Bead Eyes, Kim being the only one with prominent freckles, etc.) by the fourth volume. The color rereleases of the series also make some minor visual changes along the way to keep things consistent (e.g. adding Julie's glasses from the later books into the first volume).
  • Jack Kirby's women are famous for being only distinguishable by their hairstyles. His other characters, on the other hand, are so varied and diverse that it almost makes up for it.
    • This is an improvement on how he drew people in the early Fantastic Four (and other comics of the time)—one letters column admitted his eight basic types bore an unofficial nickname, "Kirby's Kast of Kharacters."
    • Jack Kirby had four basic categories of faces: Heroic Adult Male, Heroic Juvenile Male, Heroic Female (aka Juvenile Male with Long Hair), and Kill It With Fire. There was some variety among the Kill It With Fire crowd; Thing looked nothing like Desaad who looked nothing like Dan Turpin; each of them was hideous in his own distinctive way.
    • In an early issue of Fantastic Four, this was even a plot point. By simply putting on a wig and a spare FF uniform, blind sculptress Alicia Masters looked exactly like Sue Stormnote  — to other characters, as well as the reader!
  • Finder by Carla Speed MacNeil does this on purpose, in a civilization composed almost entirely of clans that intentionally inbreed to look like each other. However, the different clans (and the non-clan characters) have wide variety of very different faces.
  • John Byrne (of Fantastic Four, The Man of Steel) is known for having his male faces look pretty similar (with trademark square jaws), while his female faces are entirely identical. This is especially noticeable when his Batman and Superman are on the same page: the two of them are twins who happen to wear different costumes. He averts this in the Generations graphic novels, starring Superman and Batman, because he draws Batman with the distinctive Lantern Jaw that he sported back in the Silver Age.
  • Jim Lee's Batman and Superman appear to be clones, and all women are identical.
  • The semi-internet-famous meme 'Tony Stark Is Everyone'. Turns out that without his distinctive mustache, Tony Stark becomes Bruce Wayne. Adding glasses made him Clark Kent. From there, the permutations are endless.
  • Steve Rogers. Henry Pym. Clint Barton. Wendell Vaughn. John Walker. Jim Hammond. They're all blonde Caucasian males, and they were all active members of the Avengers at the same time circa 1990. And John Byrne just happened to be the writer/artist who added the Torch and US Agent to Avengers West Coast. Lampshaded in one of the Marvel Year In Review specials. [1]

  • Superman:
    • During the Golden and Silver Ages, Superman would run into lookalikes often - from his Kandorian cousin Van-Zee to Kryptonian rogue Mala to a movie actor called Gregory Reed - who were so similar to him that they could (and did) pass for him. Superman and Batman were also able to pose as each other with no one figuring it out until they explicitly identified themselves. This was an intentional plot point: Superman is just supposed to have "one of those faces", which helps to explain his Clark Kenting.
    • It wasn't just Superman - Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and Supergirl encountered identical duplicates of themselves on a semi-regular basis, too. Villain Lesla-Lar was capable of posing as Supergirl -and later Lena Thorul- without Superman himself suspecting that woman wasn't his cousin (several years later it was lampshaded in Superman Family #206: Strangers At The Hearts Core as some kind of "cosmic coincidence").
    • Editor Mort Weisinger actually claimed (in response to a reader questioning the plausibility of this) that "it was a real-world fact that everybody on Earth has one or more exact lookalikes running around!" (The "everybody has a double" thing was a common urban legend, decades ago, but not so much these days.)
  • Lampshaded in Tiny Titans, where Robin and Raven point out that without his hat, Zachary Zatara looks exactly like Superboy.
  • Tom Grummett's characters tend to all have the same face. This makes it awkward when drawing characters who are romantically involved, such as Superboy and Wonder Girl, or Mach-IV and Songbird.
  • Mark Bagley is a major offender, especially in Ultimate Spider-Man. He is often forgiven for this because he is an inhumanly fast penciller - in an era where comic fans are used to delays, Bagley has a habit of getting issues out early. Plus he used this to astounding effect in the Ultimate Clone Saga, wherein Peter's Opposite-Sex Clone really does look exactly like him, only female. Though Bagley does repeat his faces, they look much more like each other than any other character. Similarly, the Ultimate Richard Parker was immediately recognizable as the 616 version of Peter Parker.
  • ElfQuest was a rare aversion. Wendy Pini kept a concordance of the shapes of eyes, facial structure, etc., so that her elves definitely weren't the same faces with different (extremely elaborate) hairdos. Although elves are all slender and have bodies that are considered attractive in this culture, there was a lot of variation in that shapeliness, on the men and especially the women.
  • Greg Land is infamous not only for apparently tracing his characters from porno magazines photos, but also for tracing entirely different characters from the same photo. There have been quite a few joke campaigns to buy Land more porn just so comic readers can see some variety in his work
  • Ed Benes tends to give every female character more or less the same face. This is especially noticeable in his Justice League comics, where Black Canary and Zatanna look like blond/brunette versions of each other, while Vixen, a black woman, has identical facial features to them.
  • David Aja pokes fun at himself over this in an issue of Hawkeye. Clint gets mistaken for Iron Fist (whose book Aja used to draw), and angrily asks why everyone keeps getting the two of them confused.
  • A big problem for Steve Dillon, who draws faces very distinctively and very uniformly. Sadly this wasn't always the case, Dillon is an excellent draftsman, but even he has admitted to oversimplifying things in his work. This resulted in the "everyone is Frank" meme - because Dillon's work on The Punisher was so famous, Frank Castle's scowly mug is most noticeable when Dillon makes use of it or tries to modify it, including women, especially when they get mad they turn into skinny Frank Castles in wigs.
    • According to an article written after his passing, Dillon not only knew about the "Frankface" meme, but was actively trying to fuel it by putting it in everything he drew.
  • Phil Noto also does this for his characters, but makes it so pretty. Ditto Jim Cheung, Olivier Coipel, Stuart Immonen ...
  • David Lafuente averts this. He gives all the cast of Ultimate Spider-Man distinct faces, hairstyles, dress styles, and rarest of all, physical builds.
  • Artesia. It's more like two - one for men and one for women. Mark Smylie paints almost everything with great detail - human faces being the exception. There are certain variations, like slightly wider noses, wrinkles and scars. The only way to really tell the characters apart is hair and facial hair. With the Ensemble Cast, it sometimes makes things confusing. The old Artesia website used to have a Character Sheet, but the new one does not.
  • Maybe not faces, but for Kevin Maguire, it's expressions. Look at Superbuddies or his JLI runs and you'll see the same confused expressions on the faces of the JLI.
  • Franco Urru's art on Angel spin-off comics - his male characters are pretty individual but his women's faces and bodies are quite interchangeable. Particularly annoying since many of the characters are based on live-action actors who don't look alike - if you're drawing Juliet Landau with voluptuous curves, you're really letting your personal tastes influence your art too much.
  • Charlie Adlard's art for The Walking Dead is especially bad with this, at least in the beginning of his tenure. He seems to have one stock "Unshaven White Guy With Large Nose and Scowl" face that he uses constantly for at least three or four different main characters, and most of the women (and Glen) are only identifiable by their hair and/or hats. In shots that just show the face, the reader has little clue who they're looking at, outside of the dialogue. On top of that, the range of expression for the vast majority of Adlard's characters is exactly one: semi-stoic serious face. This is especially notable since the first six issues were drawn by Tony Moore, who actually made all of the characters look very distinct from one-another, especially Lori (Rick's wife). Tony Moore being a complete and total aversion of this trope makes Charlie Adlard's work following Moore's departure all the more jarring, though he has visibly improved over time.
  • Millie the Model often consciously imitated the Archie Comics style and had many of the same artists, including Dan DeCarlo and Stan Goldberg. Unsurprisingly, the feature often shared this trope with Archie as well.
  • Terry and Rachel Dodson draw a lot of similar faces (see quote page).
  • Surprise! Rob Liefeld goes here. Once, a "top 40 worst Rob Liefeld drawings" list showcased a scan of two data profiles on two different characters; the faces were identical, and the blonde hairstyles nearly so. The list asked readers, for bonus points, to guess which of the two was supposed to be Hispanic.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) is often accused of taking this to the entire body. Many share a body and head type with Sonic, even if they're not hedgehogs. Many characters are distinguished by clothing elements, colored bodies, or hairstyle. This is part of the reason why the comics are immensely popular in the fan art community (one could make a drinking game out of browsing DeviantArt for recolors of Sonic). The body type is fairly easy to learn and since many characters design-wise could be dumbed down as 'different color Sonic with hair', novice artists often can fall back on tracing pages. Former artist/writer Ken Penders, after leaving the comic, had this trope levied at him over his echidna characters with people noting that they're all just Knuckles with clothes and more/less hair. It doesn't help that they're still like this even when he's retooling them for his own work.
  • In his list of 15 Things That Are Wrong With Identity Crisis, Linkara briefly mentions that Michael Turner could only draw two faces: male and female.
  • While Guillem March's male faces tend to be very detailed and expressive, his women are all drawn in a very similar manner: slightly pointed noses and chins, wide jawlines, pouty lips, and heavy-lidded "sensual" expressions. And huge breasts, but you probably noticed that.
  • In the German comic Werner: Brösel once revealed in an interview that his characters are mostly based on a very few faces with a very few variations.
  • Milo Manara only draws one type of beautiful woman. His female diversity in a nutshell: despite the characters having various ethnicities, they mostly have the same face, same middle sized chest and same body proportions. To be fair, old or ugly male/female characters are more diverse in his works.
  • Used intentionally in the comic Sturmtruppen, where all the soldiers share the same body type, and so do the officers. Bonvi's point was to underline how much war "de-humanize" soldiers and turns them into an anonymous mass.
  • Any interpretation of super heroes by Alex Ross will be super-detailed and almost photo-realistic... paintings of the exact same guy or girl, just in a different outfit (or painted green in the case of The Martian Manhunter, etc.)
  • The Smurfs take this to an extreme degree; apart from a handful of Smurfs who have characteristic features or wear an accessory, all of them look exactly the same.
  • Takeshi Miyazawa's drawings tend to have a limited range of faces and body types.
  • Frank Cho is somewhat infamous for this — especially noticeable since he copies his trademark "double-wide hips, toned wasp-waist/titanic jugs" combination onto every female character as well. Only the beefiest girls (She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Thundra...) fall away from this trademark look. The women are essentially clones with different hair. His male characters tend to differ quite dramatically, by contrast.
  • In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud argues not to poopoo —as a deliberate choice, a simplistic art style makes the person, place or thing being depicted more universal and, in the case of characters, helps us read their emotions as well as identify with them.
  • In the 2017 edition of Runaways, it quickly becomes clear that while Kris Anka is very good at drawing a variety of clothing and hairstyles, he only uses a limited range of faces. This is particularly apparent in the "Best Friends Forever" arc, in which Molly, Abby, and Klara all have the same face, just with different eye colors and skin tones.
  • Harvey Comics has a tendency for this. It's especially noticeable with their human characters as they often have the same head shape, eyes and noses. This has lead to the fan theory that their most famous character, Casper the Friendly Ghost, is actually the ghost of Richie Rich.

    Comic Strips 
  • All young, attractive women in Beetle Bailey over the decades, varying only by hairstyle and clothing. They're also drawn in a very different style from the men and older women, with sensuously flowing lines (which is only an exaggeration of reality). The style has shifted somewhat over the years, but the theme hasn't. Two recurring examples are Ms. Buxley and Beetle's previous girlfriend, who look about as different as they can within this technique, but mostly it applies to the hundreds of usually nameless extras Killer and the other soldiers are typically drooling after. If a young woman is drawn any other way, she's almost without exception meant to be plain or ugly.
  • All the younger men in Apartment 3-G tend to look alike, at least in the later years when Frank Bolle is the artist.
  • Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, isn't quite as bad as certain other examples on this page, but has admitted that he can't draw that many faces. This resulted in two main things:
  • Characters in FoxTrot are only differentiated by hairstyles and accessories. Andy even changed her hairstyle early on to make her look less like Paige.
  • Calvin and Hobbes did this, to an extent. Less so as the series progressed.
  • Once George Wunder took over as artist for Terry and the Pirates, this was the rule, with all the characters — male or female — having the same face.
  • The characters in Peanuts show extremely little variation in face and body type, being to a large extent distinguished by hairstyle and iconic costume. If you look just at the faces, Franklin has Charlie Brown's face in dark (black and white) or brown (color), while Peppermint Patty has Chuck's face with six freckles (which is rather fitting, as she is in many respects his female counterpart).
  • Lampshaded in this Pearls Before Swine strip.
  • The original Mandrake the Magician artist Phil Davis had a tendency to draw his characters with very similar faces, except when a character was supposed to look ugly or weird for a specific reason.

  • Pixar:
    • Lampshaded in the DVD commentary of The Incredibles, in which all of the background and minor characters are "played" by the same, slightly-altered CGI model (dubbed "Universal Man"). Yes, even the female characters.
    • Pixar actually did this again with Cars where some of the background characters have the exact same vehicle body style! Arguably a Justified Trope in this case, with factories turning them out by the thousands...
    • Overall, however, Pixar has been pretty good at averting this. Even when using the same model, they've been able to create pretty unique characters, whether they be background or main.
      • An example with this would be all non-hero monsters in Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University. They designed about half a dozen different Bodies Eyes Limbs Etc, then implemented a process which could mix and match as well as alter the color and scale of each. The end result was the ability to generate hundreds if not thousands of varied monsters that each fell into a "family" based on which Body was used.
  • The financially-strapped Disney used several iconic dance scenes, from at least three different movies, over again in Robin Hood. Deja vu, much? All the scenes were drawn from the exact same live-action source material (and, in some cases, Xeroxs of that material).
  • In Meet the Robinsons, a few generic character models are used for minor roles and a few major characters are recycled. Art's model is used as a college student in the Another Believer montage and Franny's model is used for Lewis's mother. Which is kinda creepy if you think about it.
  • In the Disney fandom this is called "Sameface Syndrome", a phrase which is commonly used as a criticism of face-recycling in the Disney Animated Canon, often with detractors of Frozen. It's likely due to being designed by the same artist; however, Rapunzel from Tangled, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and Anna from Frozen have similarities. Rapunzel cameos in Frozen, which has led fans to believe she is Anna's and Elsa's cousin, though nothing has been confirmed.

    Films — Animated 
  • Mostly averted in Robots, which features a few background characters that are variants on the same model, but otherwise has a fairly diverse array of character designs.
  • Beauty and Warrior: The only differences between the female goddesses are the colors of their clothing and hairstyles; and the only difference between the two brothers is eye color.
  • In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman find a herd of zebras, among the many herds on the game preserve, and Alex has a hard time distinguishing Marty from the others. He finally manages to identify Marty using the scar on Marty's rump from when Alex bit him in the first movie. In real life, each zebra's pattern of stripes is unique, like human fingerprints. However, it would be like trying to identify a human by using only the fingerprints through a magnifying glass, a task that would be quite difficult. To make matters worse, they're all voiced by Chris Rock, who voices Marty, and have the same general personality and speech patterns.
  • Invoked by the filmmakers of Anomalisa. Michael suffers from the Fregoli Delusion, a rare syndrome in which the person believes that multiple people are the same person in disguise. With the exception of the eponymous Lisa, to Michael everyone appears to be the same generic white guy, the only variation being different clothing and hairstyles.
  • In relation to Charles Schulz' style, this trope makes the much advertised reveal of the Little Red-Haired Girl's face in The Peanuts Movie unintentionally humorous: after all the build-up, she looks just like all the other kids, albeit with a slightly smaller nose.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature Illustration 
  • In the earlier Warrior Cats graphic novels by James L. Barry, there are hardly any variations in character design. This isn't a problem usually, because in the Graystripe's Adventure series not very many characters appeared at the same time, but in crowd shots it's very problematic. It's especially hilarious in the gathering at the end when there are four cats in the crowd who look exactly like Ravenpaw.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The ''Twilight Zone'' episode "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" presents a future where everyone is given a government-funded surgical makeover at puberty, choosing their new face and figure from a limited catalogue of stock models. The effect was achieved in the show by having a handful of actors play multiple roles.
  • Flash Gordon (2007) cast three near-identical brunette actresses in its three lead female roles, Dale Arden, Princess Aura and Bayliss. Then it cast a slightly older version of the same actress as Flash's mother. Then they had a duplicate Dale character, Helia.

  • Enforced by the limits of the medium in The Champion Pub, where every boxer has the exact same character model.

  • The work of John William Waterhouse took this to extremes—the subjects of his paintings all look exactly alike, just with different clothing and, occasionally, hair color.
    • Several of the Pre-Raphaelites (Dante Gabriel Rosetti comes to mind) feature this, because they tended to have a few go-to female models they used for most of their pictures. The portraits could be more accurately titled "[Model] as/in the guise of [Goddess/Mythological Figure]".
      • Edward Burne-Jones only does one face, usually from the same angle (three-quarters profile) with the same long thick neck and broad shoulders. When it's supposed to be male he puts a beard on it and covers up the neck with armor. It's Janey Morris (his model) plays everyone in the universe. Particularly pronounced in his stained-glass windows in Birmingham St Chad's, where Janey Morris is Jesus, the Madonna and the hosts of heaven.
  • Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, whose human painting subjects are almost always facing forward with the same moon-faced vacuous expression. There is very little variation in the faces that Botero can paint, usually employing facial hair or glasses to modify exactly the same face over and over again.

    Puppet Shows 
  • There are only a few designs for Anything Muppets in Sesame Street, so some characters are recognisably the same puppet with different hair. This is most obvious with the more distinctive ones such as Fat Blue (Simon Soundman, the customer in the Grover waiter sketches, Dad Twiddlebug) and Orange Gold (Guy Smiley, Don Music, Prince Charming).
  • Oobi: Since all of the characters are literal hand puppets, the crew had to find creative ways to make sure the characters didn't all have the same face. This led to some characters having their fingers extended, some having them curled, and others having a fist-like appearance.
  • Dinosaurs, also made by Jim Henson's team, has unique suits, etc., for only the extended Sinclair family and some of the supporting characters (namely Roy, Monica, Spike, and Mr. Richfield); all the rest are "played" by a group of customizable costumes which are used for minor characters such as the other Wesayso employees and students seen in the school, and were comprised of both full costumes and hand-puppets.

  • LEGO had a stock smiley face for all figures during the 70s and 80s. Sometime in the 90s they decided to use more different prints (like bearded man, guy with sunglasses, etc.). They do new faces regularly, but lines like City are still plagued with this - for example most of the policemen have the same grumpy expression, and there seems to be only three different female head prints; this is possibly justifiable in how City figures are supposed to be generic everymen with no designated characterisation. Conversely, licensed themes handle this better because the main characters need to be identifiable, but they still spam the more generic-looking heads like the Norman Osborn one (who accordingly was also a Nazi, a Communist, his own son Harry, and the goddamn Batman) for mooks and guards.
    • Then there's BIONICLE, which in the early days had only twelve different masks for the entire population of Mata Nui, and later possibly the entire universe. Virtually every mask introduced after the beginning was a one-off for the characters on whom they were used, with very rare exceptions, while almost everyone else still just had the same original twelve. Also, underneath the masks? The same four or five head pieces, further exacerbated by the first film trilogy which made all the heads the same — but at least background extras weren't "allowed" to wear the same mask types as the main characters.
      • This later became a problem when masks became the only unique part of the toys. After the Inika line, almost all Toa-level figures had a standard template for how they're built. While some of them are visually different, construction-wise they were all nearly the same, and a simple armor swap can make one Toa look like another (or a bad guy). Adverted with the Barraki and Mistika Makuta lines, who all had unique construction making them vastly different from each other, even in the same line (the Barraki, in fact, were only similar in the construction of their "skull", while the Mistika Makuta had nothing in common at all).
    • On Bara Magna, every character used the same headpiece, and not all of them had helmets that covered their face. The youthful and overactive Berix even wore the same type of face-revealing helmet as the veteran, "beyond his prime" Ackar, so aside from their colors, their heads looked the exact same. The movie of that year only made things worse: due to CGI shortcuts, every character belonging to the same tribe looked the same, whether they were mere extras or plot-relevant characters.
    • In BIONICLE, the recycling of masks reached its most bothersome level in 2006 and 2007. In '06, the six Matoran sets were given the exact same masks in the exact same colors as the Toa Metru from '04 (okay, Dalu's was half a shade lighter), not recolors, which annoyed the mask-collectors quite a bit. They released a figure called Umbra the same year, who again was given one of those six masks, meaning that LEGO passed the chance to release a recolored mask twice under a year. In '07, the toy of Sarda was likewise given a standard Toa Metru mask. What's strange is that all the other reused masks of that year were recolors, and even Idris, who came packaged with Sarda, was given recolored mask for some added collectible value.
    • Played with in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars line. Clone troopers are meant to all have the same face, and LEGO used the same face for the Boba Fett figurine. However, they also gave the same face to all other Mandolorians and the Senate Commandos, who are specifically stated to NOT be clones.
    • Mixels plays with the idea, too. While all the Mixels are completely unique from each other, the Nixels, their enemies, are simply black-and-white cube creatures, with the only difference being three different types of ear toppers. This ends up highlighting how uncreative the Nixels really are, in contrast to the Mixels' high creativity levels.
  • Minimate faces only have eyes and mouths, no noses, so they tend to look a lot alike. The Mobile Action Xtreme line takes this to new heights, with each two-pack of figures sharing one identical face.[2]
  • Most My Little Pony toys have the same mold and only differ in color, hair, and symbol markings.
  • For practical reasons this has been the case with most if not all doll lines, namely American Girl, using a few stock face moulds depending on the doll's ethnicity or unique traits if any. The only other things distinguishing the dolls from each other is their hair, skin colour, outfit and their backstories.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect had many alien background characters cycle through the same small number of faces. It was actually justified in-universe, when a Turian that didn't have much prior contact with humans couldn't tell what gender Shepard was, and later commented that humans "all look alike". The sequels brought more depth to character faces, but background characters still appeared with stock faces.
    • The books provide an in-universe explanation for this; apparently, as civilizations grow more advanced and globalized, increased interbreeding causes racial identifiers to begin to disappear as the gene pool becomes more evenly spread out. Advanced civilizations like the Turians and Asari have become so genetically homogeneous, there are very few physical differences between them. This is one of the reason why most Citadel species tattoo their faces - to make it easier for members of other species to differentiate between them. Humans are still young enough to show some racial diversity, but it's mentioned several times in the books that they are definitely becoming less visibly diverse than they once were.
    • Knights of the Old Republic was little better. There was only one face for each race, and only a couple for humans. Even the player character could only select from a few stock faces, and could quite possibly run into a face clone. The second game also had as a plot point the fact that The Handmaiden looks different from her five otherwise identical sisters (given a Hand Wave as being a trait of her species that makes all same sex siblings look alike) is a sign of her illegitimacy, not that you can tell since they all use the exact same model.
  • Perhaps somewhat understandably, Final Fantasy XI does this, with most races having only 8 faces per race/gender combination, and a palette-swapped version of each face to give an alternate hair-color (the Tarutaru race has only 4 faces per gender, offering 4 sets of coloration per face instead of two). This is only a strict limitation on PCs and the quested NPC fellows (who were further limited to a subset of these), but even some story-important NPCs showed very little differentiation from these models (for example, Doctor Shantotto, who is Tarutaru Female face 4-A in relatively common mage gear, with some custom animations), and most general NPCs who are neither very young nor very old use the same faces as PCs. Also, each race/gender combination is identical from the neck down, with both sexes of Tarutaru being thus identical to each other as well.
    • This is a complaint with quite a few MMOs. Most MMOs without extensive character generators tend to have very few facial choices per sex/race combination. World of Warcraft, for example, tends to average somewhere around eight faces per sex/race combo, and usually only two of each of them look good enough to use most of the time. True, you can change hair color and shape, and facial hair, but that's really barely anything, and most of those favor heavily towards one style. Even one of the rare examples that shouldn't be, City of Heroes, tends to lean towards this; while they have a lot, lot, LOT of options, only a few are really, honestly usable for "normal" looking characters. The rest are a bit too close to Uncanny Valley half the time to be tolerable.
  • It's an awfully common thing for the awfully generic products that fill 90% of the Dating Sim market. This is visible in almost everything, stock character designs, stock plots, stock character types, stock Photoshop glowing pink, etc. This YTMND animation gives a really good example.
    • The characters featured in that animation are all designed by Naru Nanao; a couple of them even come from the same game. Her later designs vary a bit more.
    • This also follows with anime based on h-games (AIR, Kanon, etc.) which tend to have only one face — well, maybe two, one for boys and one for girls.
    • Possibly the worst offender is Aoi Nishimata, possibly best known as one of the character designers for SHUFFLE!. (Examples: One, Two, Three, Four.)
    • Forget stock 'designs', the game Otoboku - Maidens Are Falling For Me uses the same three character pictures for any random students who aren't part of the main cast. This includes several named characters who are part of the Student Council during Takako's plot.
  • A common source of mirth when talking about Half-Life is how every guard or scientist in the Black Mesa complex has the same face (well, for scientists there are two alternating faces). This became more awkward when the models were given names and turned into unique NPCs in the sequel. Maybe they were short on employees and decided to clone themselves repeatedly?
  • Akira Toriyama, maker of Dragon Ball (see above), has been the character designer for a number of games, including Chrono Trigger and every single Dragon Quest. And, true to form, nearly every single character in those games has a visual counterpart to be found in Dragon Ball.
    • They even used the small variations in character designs as a central focus in the character design system of Dragon Quest IX, where players could make hundreds of possible character models... using only about eight faces.
    • In a couple of rare examples (such as Dragon Quest Swords, where none of the characters have spiky hair/Goku eyes, and a few are wearing decidedly Baroque-era or gothic outfits) he breaks out of the six faces mold, but when he phones it in (such as with Tobal No. 1 and Blue Dragon), it's really obvious that he is.
  • In Backyard Baseball and other Backyard Sports games, all characters, besides the 30 main ones, are based off of a few models.
  • Tetsuya Nomura is often accused of succumbing to this trope. At least there's an in game excuse for all the characters that resemble each other in the Kingdom Hearts games. In Kingdom Hearts Sora, Kairi and Xehanort, each have several look-a-likes for various reasons. You can be certain that every single time you notice someone bears a physical resemblance to someone else, it will be significant. This is so rampant in the series that it almost wasn't a surprise when we found out Vanitas looks like Sora. So far, Riku is the only core member of the main cast to not have a doppelganger, unless you count the Riku Replica.
  • Almost every Final Fantasy after The Advent Children, characters in CG movies tend to look very similar. This expands to Kingdom Hearts above and Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals.
  • The girls of the hentai Bible Black are not only limited to a single face, they all have the same body figure, and CGs featuring more of them will clearly show that they all have the same heights. It's like they are all clones with different hair and accessories.
    • The anime series mostly attempts to avert this, as the character designer seems to have done their best at making the women as distinguishable as possible from one another. Character models show that, at least for the named characters, they attempted giving each male and female different figures and body types, and all of them are different heights. This is not completely averted however, as certain characters do look quite a bit alike and un-named background characters are sometimes identical to others.
  • Played straight in Hitman: Blood Money has this in spades, due to technical limitations of 2006 not allowing IO Interactive to easily make unique face models for every NPC. Naturally, this makes it incredibly easy to exploit.
    • Both Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 downplay this trope, as while guards tend to look identical to one another, civilians are so numerous that it's inevitable twins will start popping up. It's downplayed as there's at least 20 face models for each gender, as well as skin color variants, as well as many different types of clothing, hair, and any gear they wear (such as watches or backpacks), meaning even if a face is the same as another NPC in a level, their hair or body likely isn't.
  • The guys of Dead or Alive are easy to tell apart, but the girls all have the same vaguely-childlike face, and the same build. It gets even more noticeable when you look at Team Ninja's fanart of Chun-Li and Cammy, though they tone down the former's Hartman Hips. Close inspection reveals that there are, in fact, two female models in the game, the tall, incredibly well-endowed Caucasian, and the petite, yet still incredibly well-endowed Asian (or half-Asian).
    • Curiously, the older DOA titles used a 'trick' to get around this to a limited degree: character heights that varied (particularly among women) much more than other 3D fighters, where women overwhelmingly tend to be the same height. In particularly, shorter fighters have a handy advantage of ducking under attacks more easily, since their reach is rarely affected as well.
    • Dead or Alive 5 (and afterwards) made a point of giving the female cast different face models, which siblings most closely resembling each other, finally catching up, and advertised the fact. It also introduced Marie Rose, who, being a Token Mini-Moe (a first for the series), looks noticably different from everyone else.
  • Ufotable's work for the Tales Series suffers greatly from this, even with non-affiliated artists creating the character designs. Look at Alvin and Zaveid, or Milla and Velvet, for example.
  • Akihiko Yoshida is notorious for this. Almost every character he designs (particularly in games like Final Fantasy Tactics and sequels, and Final Fantasy III (DS)) has the same face, albeit with a few characteristics. It's quite an accomplishment when even some of the males and females look the same. The biggest culprit here is that he rarely gives the characters noses. It is really difficult to differentiate characters when one of the biggest facial features is just missing.
  • The Witcher had this bad. A very obvious shortcoming of the game's graphics department was that there were only one or two models for merchants, old ladies, old men, hookers and so on, as a result of which most NPCs of a particular type looked like identical twins. This stands out even more because even named and important NPCs share some of these repetitive models.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims, there are only about 8 faces and 3 skintones (dark, medium, light) to choose from for each gender and age group (adult or child). In The Sims 2 and 3, this is changed and the "Create A Sim" options are greatly improved. However, in The Sims 2, the NPC's or Townies often only have faces from the pre made faces in CAS, leading to various nicknames by fans (e.g. the mailwoman Dagmar Bertino has "Face 1", which is considered to be the prettiest face).
    • Players sometimes invoke this by only allowing Face 1 and Face 2 townies to marry and breed with their playable sims, leading to challenge families where You All Look Familiar.
  • The old Infinity Engine games, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, etc, were all full of color Palette Swaps and identical-looking NPCs. Even many quite-well characterized NPCs were virtual clones of a stock model. Protagonists were frequently not exempt, with one build, one basic outfit, and one face for the male and female of every race. Customization came down to hair, skin, and clothing colors. Despite this, major characters often had impressively detailed rich portraits.
  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego? did this with its witnesses by taking a few figures and randomizing its color palette. Ingenious when you realize that all the crooks are done up the same way.
  • The NPCs in Epic Mickey, if they're plot-unimportant, will tend to look like clones of Dippy Dawg, Horace Horsecollar, or Clarabelle Cow. This is justified in that they're unused concept art and non-final character designs for the same characters. This is here because there were plans and potential to use a number of forgotten Disney characters and stands out more because the plot-important characters look wildly different from each other.
  • Bioshock 2 has this with the little sisters in the final cutscene (good ending).
  • World of Warcraft offers about 8 or 9 face options per race/gender. While many of the male faces get used, female faces are rarely used unless they're one of the couple of youthful, smooth faces available for that race, making female characters more likely to look like clones of eachother.
    • One particular troll female face is known as "cutefase" (note spelling). Whereas other troll faces have wrinkles, deepset lines, and cranky expressions, cutefase is young, smooth, and appears either deadpan or "under the influence." Virtually all female trolls will use this face. The term cutefase is often also applied to an orc female face with smooth features and the forsaken female face that lacks visible decay (the last of which is also called the "dollfase").
    • Female tauren and worgen faces are notoriously difficult to distinguish from one another. This is further exacerbated by the fact that all female worgen have pale green eyes and the same expression, while female tauren only have four non-death-knight-specific options.
  • The Mario series is a big offender when it comes to non-human characters. All characters who are Toads, Goombas, Koopa Troopas, etc. tend to have exactly the same face and body, sometimes being distinguished by their clothes or facial hair (or, in some Koopa Troopas' cases, shell color). And all Yoshis look exactly the same except for their color scheme (and many times, even the colors repeat). While all members of a species looking the same makes sense when they're enemies, it gets annoying when you're dealing with actual characters: It's impossible to tell if you're looking at the "main" Toad or a generic one, or whether the green Yoshi Mario rides through the different games in the series is always the same one. And the fact that the names of the "main" Toad and Yoshi are just "Toad" and "Yoshi" respectively doesn't help, either. Another example would be Kamek, who exactly looks like every other Magikoopa, with the only difference that he has a broom.
    • The saddest part regarding the Toads is that there was an attempt to avoid this trope in the first two Paper Mario games that boast a fair share of unique designs. Unfortunately, Sticker Star and Color Splash did not follow, and Origami King even turned it into a plot point. Olly took a well-wishing message from his creator as an insult because he couldn't read it, saw his creator in the face of every Toad in the kingdom, and wants to fold a thousand origami cranes to exterminate the entire species.
  • Touhou Project: Not only is ZUN susceptible to this with his famously crappy character art (which arguably got worse in this regard from the shift between PC-98 into Windows), but so are some of the official manga artists, such as Aki Eda (Silent Sinner in Blue) and Makoto Hirasaka (Touhou Sangetsusei).
    • One step up in the fighting games. As far as Alphes's character portraits go, everyone has the same face. Moe Harukawa's character portraits show this as well, with only one or two characters looking even slightly different.
  • The iDOLM@STER: While each game is visually distinct from one another, the girls and boys within each branch are distinguished only by their hair, body types and eyes. The early days of the main branch ran into this problem with its 3D models, but its anime managed to make it less noticeable; unfortunately, other main branch works made afterwards swerve back into this problem in their attempts to mimic the anime's art style.
  • Arthur's Quest: Battle for the Kingdom, at least according to the Something Awful review: "You start out in....some town, somewhere. But this is a special clone town, one that's populated by about 12 people with about 3 or 4 unique looks. You'd think they would have at least bothered to make a few more models, or at least position the people so that identical twins aren't standing right next to each other."
  • Neverwinter Nights does this oddly. There are dozens of unique character portraits... but with each random NPC getting one from this selection, they get repetitive anyway, with it not helping that the portraits are always the same, not modified slightly the way characters in a work with this usually can be.
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 had it worse. While you got some variance in character models and faces, any time you talked with someone who got a voice (as opposed to simply using a text box), the camera would zoom in on you and the other character. There was only a single set of animations for all characters, so everyone in the conversation would go through the same pattern of head-tilt, eye-roll, hand-wave, head-tilt, eye-roll, hand-wave...
  • Almost averted in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, since most of the inhabitants of Hyrule City fit this trope perfectly.
  • It was recently discovered by reverse engineers and modders that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild uses a more advanced version of Miis for generic humanoid NPC characters (referred to as "UMii" in the game's files), likely done to streamline the process of creating multiple different NPC models to populate the game's towns. The modders that made this discovery have found ways to actually convert regular Miis into this format, though it does have limitations (not all hairstyles and facial features like moles are supported).
  • In the X-Universe games, a given NPC is usually generated by picking from a list of roughly half a dozen faces per race and assigning a race-appropriate name from a similar list. Major characters such as Saya Kho sometimes get their own face. Returns in X Rebirth where there is only about a dozen character models. However, alternate uniforms, attachments such as hats and eyeglasses, and alternate voices and personalities make it somewhat less obvious.
  • Save for Campbell, Dr. Betruger, Counselor Swann, Theresa Chasar and Sergeant Kelly, the NPC's in Doom 3 have all the exact same Asian, middle-aged white or young white male faces. There are two black males in the first level, though, but that could be Hand Waved as them being twins.
  • Super Robot Wars UX: In one case, Richard mixes up Shizuna for Izuna as the twins look the same, and Shoko laughs at all of them looking the same. Shizuna thinks the same about the Gundam-faces.
  • Former SNK and current Capcom artist, "Shinkiro", possesses an almost photo-realistic (if slightly creepy) art-style. The thing is, all his characters have more or less the same face and their expressions seem limited to "serious", "creepy grin" and "manic grin".
  • The 2005 video game The Warriors has all gangs except the Warriors (who have the protagonist cast and 9 "New Bloods) use just 9 different characters, no more. Even then, in a lot of cases, one of the characters will be the gang's warlord who, as you'd expect only appears once, and as a boss, so apart from him/her, there are usually only 8 gang characters; what's more, you can often see several clones of the same character in one fight because you'll be fighting multiple gang members throughout the game.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has this for all the minor NPC characters; those who are more important get a slightly different face along with different hairstyle/color and/or such.
  • Fallout:
    • Lampshaded at one point in Fallout 2. An NPC in New Reno describes a man the Chosen One has to find. Chosen remarks that he keeps seeing the same faces everywhere. The NPC hypothesizes that such poor genetic diversity is the result of the nuclear war. Fallout 1 and 2 have around 5 sprite sets for unarmoured townsmen.
    • In Fallout Shelter all Dwellers look the same expect color and hairstyle, even those from the other Fallout games.
    • Generally a criticism of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The game's engine meant that faces tended to not have much variation, and didn't emote much. Fallout 4 fixed these problems, although fans still found fault with it.
  • Many, many Kairosoft games are guilty of this, in order to keep the size of their games down, to fit with their 16-bit retraux theme, and the fact that there's only 9 employees in the company including the boss.
    • Their game Pocket Stables is the perhaps the worst offender of this trope, by having every guest that visits your farm appear indistinguishable from the others of their class type. All students look alike, as do all gardeners, salarymen, etc.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider is a glaring example, and it's especially grating when contrasted with the rest of its otherwise awesome graphics. The game's female cast has exactly three members (Lara, Ana, Sofia), none of them related by blood, all of them from wildly different backgrounds and origins, and yet all of them look so alike one could be forgiven for thinking they were sisters. The only things that really tell them apart are their clothes and their hair color. The men fare slightly better, with the main cast having unique faces and most of the mooks wearing masks anyway, but Jonah's likeness is recycled for Trinity's soldiers on a regular basis, and the Remnant fighters also tend to look like a nearby cloning facility left its doors open.
  • Yandere Simulator's debug builds have only two faces, as a result of having only two character models (Yandere-chan's for the girls and Senpai's for the boys). The dev wants to avert this in the final game, and has given some students unique features (The Student Council members have their own eye shapes, and several attempts have been made to give Mai Waifu Tareme Eyes).
  • All the moles in the Mole's World series (with the sole exception of the villain, Kula) have the same basic face design, with two oval-shaped black eyes, a red nose, and a mouth with one tooth visible when opened.
  • All 26 Cyber Grannies have the same, gourd-shaped head. They do have different hairstyles, and in some cases, different skin tones, but their faces are all still basically identical.
  • The Puyo Puyo series' artstyle as of 20th Anniversary uses one head shape for every single humanoid, non-anthromorphic character, regardless of age or gender. Most of those characters have the same eye shape as well, resulting in faces that vary only in eye color and whether or not the character has Blush Stickers or "whiskers" like Arle, Amitie, and Ringo. Hairstyles and other accessories go a long way toward hiding this, but even then a few characters still stick out. (Quest's Rebecca essentially being an off-colored Witch, for example.)
  • Octopath Traveler: The more detailed character art (as seen for each character's story) and the end of each characters' tales show that most of the female characters have nearly identical facial design, with their hair being the main point of difference. H'aanit and Ophilia share almost identical faces, as does Ophilia with Lianna (seen in Ophilia's end screen) and with Cordelia Ravus (seen in Therion's ending screen).

    Visual Novels 
  • It's been pointed out that most female and some male characters drawn by Nasuverse co-founder and main artist Takeuchi Takashi can be turned into each other just by changing their eye color and hair. To say nothing of his ever-growing army of "Saberfaces."

  • Achewood falls into this trope at times. Since the introduction of Ray, Pat, and Roast Beef, it has been revealed that the majority of the animal population are cats (dogs have been established as typically non-anthropomorphic and excluded from the animal underground.) In keeping with Onstad's generally minimalist art style, most of the cats are interchangeable in terms of facial features. There are three or four body types, and a couple of heads to go with them, and generally the eyes, muzzle and ears of the cats are exactly the same (exceptions being Ray and his family, as well as his ex-current-ex-business partner-ex-girlfriend Tina, who have been identified as American Curls.)
  • Champions of Far'aus: As most of the humanoid characters are depicted with Black Bead Eyes and next to no other facial features, one of the easiest ways to identify who is who at a glance is by their hair, clothes, & accessories. The extra features on non-humanoid characters allows for slightly more variation.
  • Almost everybody in Cyanide & Happiness have the same exact face and body structure, and the same goes for the animated shorts as well (though it has lessened a tiny bit). Granted, you can only really go so far when it comes to drawing stick figures in a gag comic. Got lampshaded in this particular strip.
  • Real Life Comics does something similar.
  • Everyone in Dominic Deegan would be almost indistinguishable from one another if they all shaved their heads if not for the eyelashes and occasional orc fangs.
    • Mookie is not above lampshading it on occasion. One such example can be seen here.
  • Shortpacked! points out that this happens in Batman comics (and other media) all the time (the comic itself is a clear aversion, thankfully).
    Oracle: Enhancing, and... oh my God... All females look exactly the same.
    Batman: Check the hairstyle.
    • Also subverted later on. Some of the characters do strongly resemble each other, and the possibility is presented that there is a good reason why.
      • One of the running jokes in the Dumbing of Age comments section is calling Dorothy "Blonde Amber." The similarity was also noted in the strip itself.
  • Kristofer Straub's Checkerboard Nightmare and its successor, Starslip Crisis, have identical-looking humans except for hair and costuming. The strips don't suffer for this, though.
    • Lampshaded in this Starslip Crisis strip.
  • A common criticism of Ctrl+Alt+Del is that the art style involves most characters having nearly identical facial features. This image is provided for examination. Memetic Mutation has branded this expression B^U because it looks like said digits turned sideways, and by extension its author is often called Tim B^Uckley. He has gotten better at drawing faces as of late.
  • Though he has no meme associated with him, Scott Ramsoomair of VG Cats is often criticized of the same thing. Ironically, it used to be praised for not falling into this trope, before people started really paying attention and notice that most characters have the same insane look on their faces as the art evolved. It could be related to the fact that he is obviously relying on his computer a lot more. While Leo and Aeris did always look like essentially palette swapped versions of each other, it can be pointed out that the different facial expressions often look very similar now, I.E. pissed off character A looks like pissed off characters B, C, and D, or at least a lot more than before. It doesn't help that yes, they do tend to look pretty weird.
  • MegaTokyo: Many readers can barely differentiate between the female characters if they don't wear insane outfits - even Piro is androgynous enough to be confused for one of the girls in a few scenes!
    • One omake has Piroko and Piro side-by-side. Possibly a Lampshade Hanging.
    • The fans find endless amusement in pointing out that Piro could very well be his girlfriend's twin sister, especially as his bangs grow ever longer.
    • Kimiko gets a bit of it right back due to her small bust and non-existent hips, though it's mostly Piro's fault for looking like her.
    • This is more so with the male characters Dom, Matsui and Inspector Masimichi Sonoda. As can be seen in this strip where Matsui has to be captioned to identify who he is. The other similar-looking man present is Dom (obviously).
    • The female characters' eyes have much larger irises, but besides that, all the faces are identical. They apparently have lots of eye/hair color variation...but the comic's normally in black and white.
  • Anime News Nina parodies the tendency for all Bishōnen in any given anime series to have the same generically pretty face in this strip.
  • In some really early strips of Penny Arcade, Gabe and Tycho looked very similar. It got better, so now they look very different.
  • Played with in The Order of the Stick, which has Only Two Faces. The faces are male and female, differentiated by the position of the eyes and mouth (women have both positioned lower on the face, suggesting more delicate features and smaller chins; the difference is showcased by the storyline in which Roy uses the Belt of Gender Changing and his features shift accordingly). However, in this case the trope is justified because they're, well... stick figures. Xykon is the only member of the cast who completely stands out, as he is a skeleton.
    • Even that variation gets lampshaded when Redcloak creates some Xykon decoys by getting some skeleton monsters and dressing them up like him.
      • The skulls in question aren't the least bit similar in shape to the heads of living characters.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!! has often been accused of this, particularly the gigantic noses of all the characters.
  • Many of the characters in Jack are essentially the same model with different markings. It's very hard to tell what species some of them are meant to be without being told (Arloest is a panda; Farrago is a ferret; it's hard enough to tell them apart, let alone discern their respective species).
  • Concession was originally like this, with cat, mouse, wolf and pangolin looking almost exactly alike. After being called out on this several times, the artist initially excused it by saying that a more realistic pangolin face would look ugly, but later redesigned the characters to look more distinct from each other.
  • xkcd, with the exception of a handful of early pieces, tends to have zero faces. For a long time, the only body types were male (circle-headed stick figure), female (circle-headed stick figure with hair), and the recurring characters Black Hat Guy and White Beret Guy. Later comics added more hairstyles, but still no faces.
  • Queen of Wands had one face for almost all of the female characters besides Angela, and one for the male characters besides Felix, giving a generic sameness to Donna, who was supposed to be older and heavier (judging by spin-off Punch an' Pie with a different artist), and the various males in the background.
  • Housepets! was prone to this during its first year; most of the characters looked alike, and it was difficult to tell cats apart from dogs. The strip underwent a major art style revision about nine months into its run, which significantly improved the situation, although there are still occasional hang-ups; for example, Peanut and Fido have identical faces.
  • Dan Shive of El Goonish Shive has noted that three of the main female characters have the same face. He's tried to give each of them a little more individuality, but points out that changing their faces too much would mean they'd no longer look like the people they're supposed to be. He averts it a lot better with characters created later in the series.
    • And before that, with a Show Within a Show character.
    • In-story, the fact that Susan and Diane look and sound identicalnote  save for hair color and clothing choice is noted and implied to be significant. They're later thought to possibly be twins separated at birth when it's discovered they were born within minutes of each other, then half-sisters due to Susan's father cheating on her mother, then finally it's revealed they have an Uncanny Family Resemblance as Adrian Raven unknowingly fathered a child centuries ago that Susan is descended from and Diane is a contemporary child he didn't know he had; he had assumed for all his life that he was incapable of having a child.
    • Sarah and post-haircut Diane look pretty much identical.
  • In The Mansion of E, all gnolls look alike, except for their hairstyles.
  • How I Became Yours (as well as the sequel, Rise of the Agni Army) has this something terrible. Mostly because the artist traces her face over and over again, and only bothered to trace one character's face for her OCs.
  • In The Whiteboard, the humans (for the most part) only have one face. The furry cast is more varied... mostly.
  • Several characters in Questionable Content look strangely alike. Sometimes, it's Strong Family Resemblance (Marten in particular seems to have inherited his mother's entire face). There's also the strip where it's pointed out how much Marten and Dora look alike (leading to incest and Your Mom jokes.)
  • APT Comic has a habit of one face per species, to emphasis the rest of the differences.
  • Homestuck's simple style means that all the child characters have the same bodyshape and facial structure. This trend is carried over even into the more detailed shots.
    • Taken even further with the recent inclusion of the ectobiological parents of the original protagonists, whose features are similar on purpose. The most extreme example thus far being John and Jake, whose facial features are exactly the same.
    • However, it's also inverted to an extent— with the exception of the John/Jake parallel mentioned above and the obvious similarities between alternate sessions, each and every member of the cast has distinctive facial features and design, to the point where it's fairly simple to recognize characters even out of a huge crowd.
  • Misfile has this issue with secondary characters: combined with the downright glacial progress of the story (not unheard of to spend two weeks of real-time covering one conversation) it can make it extremely difficult to remember who they're talking to sometimes...
  • Bricktown simultaneously subverts and plays this trope straight. All characters' eyes are large and circular, though women have proportionally-larger eyes than the men, and their faces are generally similar; however, among the cast of 10 main characters, they all have differently-sized and -shaped eyebrows, have noses of various sizes and basic shapes, unique irises, their individual facial proportions are all radically different, unique hair, and they all have uniquely-shaped heads Each character sports a unique body type, as well, (even muscular characters have different levels of bulk), and most have unique heights as well (of the main 10 characters, only 4 - Greg, Jen, Curt, and Randy - are of similar height). The result is that, even with the simple faces, it's incredibly easy to pick out which character is which, even when they have different clothes or hair than usual. And this was BEFORE the comic was colored in.
  • A common criticism of Fluttering Feelings is this. Characters tend to look very similar, even their hairstyles can look similar, and it can be confusing at times to tell people apart (especially if they haven't appeared for a while).
  • The Dumb_RWBY webcomic takes this to an absurd degree. Not only does everyone (save Zwei and Yatsuhashi) have the same face, but they all have the same constant facial expression. Granted, this is probably intentional.
  • Adam Ellis was accused of copy-pasting faces and expressions in his work while still at Buzzfeed, to the point that he would lampshade it in his own comics (ie, complaining about recolored sprites in video games to an identical but recolored Adam). Since leaving Buzzfeed, he's gotten better about not copy-pasting (he's no longer on a tight deadline and can work at his own pace), but his art style does suffer from same-faceness sometimes.

    Web Original 
  • All the characters in Vinnie Veritas's CCC series would be indistinguishable with shaved heads and the same clothes, but thanks to his utterly awesome character design (by which I mean unique clothes and unique hair) he manages to make it Cast of Snowflakes at the same time.
  • All the women of comic-style illustrator Garett Blair suffer from a bad case of this. His unanimously praised gallery seldom gets any criticism at all, adding to the prevalence of this trope in comic books illustration.
  • Webcomicker Jeinu seems fed up with this enough to start a tutorial series teaching amateurs how to avoid this very trope.
  • All of the characters in the ASDF Movie series have the same appearances, this is often the joke.
  • Happy Tree Friends. This is an especially egregious case, being that most of the characters are different species. With few exceptions, nearly all the characters have flat faces, heart-shaped noses and buckteeth (including the carnivorans and ungulates) and are all the same size except for Lumpy. You could say this is Stylistic Suck though, considering the show's premise.
  • Only One Face in the case of the main cast of Red vs. Blue, as the main characters are all wearing Spartan armor. The only exceptions are the occasional alien (who all look alike except for color and size), Andy, Sheila, and Vic. Season 9 averted this strongly when CGI was used heavily to show the faces of several different characters, all of whom looked quite distinct.
  • Nekci, Kety Perr, Medoner, and Beyonce all share the same facial design in The Nekci Menij Show; in the same show, Rhenna, Keshir, and Lady Gags also share a similar facial design, though they are not identical.
  • Only the color of the human characters eyes change in DSBT InsaniT and Dreamscape, which relies on clothing style and accessories for Distinctive Appearances.
  • Most of the women in Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse have the same hairstyle, face, and body type, with the obvious exceptions of Barbie, her family, and her friends. (And Raquelle.) Justified in that the series takes place in a community of living Mattel dolls.
  • RWBY runs into this with the crowd scenes in the second volume. While the main characters are all reasonably distinctive, the dance scenes and the assembly scene show several copies of some individuals in each shot. In the first volume background characters were featureless silhouettes.
  • Every single character in object shows such as Battle for Dream Island and Inanimate Insanity share the same face and limbs. It's the objects themselves that identify them.
  • Poser (and other 3D art programs). If you are lazy (or poor), all your characters will look the same (Even if you fiddle with the facial expression knobs).
  • Justified in The Most Popular Girls in School as most of the characters are Barbie dolls.
  • The Nostalgia Critic likes to reuse cast members for different characters on his show, which quickly becomes noticeable because his cast is very small.
  • Sanrio Boys runs into this, in part from the art style borrowing from typical Shoujo manga aesthetics. Of the main boys, two of them have a half-lidded "serious" face, while the other three have a round, bright-eyed "playful" face. While this is downplayed somewhat in the blogs by depicting them with a wide variety of expressions, this is emphasized in the anime and visual novel adaptations, which standardizes their appearances.
  • Jacksepticeye, Markiplier and Thomas Sanders all play at least four different characters on their own, leading to fanart having this.
  • Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, the creators of Smosh, would reuse themselves as the many different characters that appear throughout their web series, which occasionally led to some Talking to Himself moments. This can be excused since the cast is pretty small (at least initially) and it's just generally funnier.

    Western Animation 
  • Often lampshaded in South Park:
    • In "Super Best Friends," Stan and Kyle get buzz cuts and identical clothes as part of joining a cult, and don't even wear their trademark winter hats. Stan, Kyle, and Butters (who also joined the cult) look identical now, and it becomes impossible to tell them apart. Then, when Stan decides to leave, he and Kyle get confused as to which one is Stan and which is Kyle:
      Stan: Let's go!
      Kyle: I'm not going anywhere!
      Stan: Goddamnit, I'm not going with you! I wanna stay here!
      Kyle: Huh? I thought you wanted to leave!
      Stan: Oh wait, who am I again?

      Stan: Kyle, I'm beginning to think this was a bad idea.
      Butters: I'm not Kyle, I'm Butters, I thought you were Kyle.
      Stan: No, I'm Stan.
      Kyle: You're Stan? Where's Kenny?
      Stan: Who are you?
      Kyle: I'm Kyle!
      Cartman: Heheh, guess who I am, you guys!
    • In the Terrance and Phillip episode, "Not Without My Anus", the character "Ugly Bob" wears a paper bag over his head. When he takes it off, he looks exactly like all the other characters, but they react as if he's traumatically hideous.
    • Cleverly lampshaded in the episode "The Coon", in which after spending the entire episode keeping the other charactersnote  - and the audience - guessing as to his identity, masked vigilante "Mysterion" finally removes his mask, revealing him to be... completely indistinguishable from every other boy in the show. Just to rub it in, the rest of the characters recognize him instantly, but don't say his name. Later episodes reveal him to be Kenny.
    • "Naughty Ninjas" has the boys starting a ninja club to keep homeless people away from Kenny's house. Cartman tries to convince everyone Kyle shouldn't be in the club and tries to discuss it with the others but he keeps confusing everyone because most of them look the same with their hoods on (the exceptions being Cartman due to his size, Token and David because of their skin tones, and Jimmy who has his crutches).
    • Another episode has the girls create a league table of the boys' attractiveness... which is, naturally, entirely of the Informed variety.
    • Oddly enough, many of South Park's one-off characters are a complete aversion of this. The primary characters look similar because of a far more simplified character design from the early seasons, while characters introduced later have unique head shapes, hairstyles, hair colors, mouths, and eyes — they've got a ton of different Redneck characters that all look very distinct from one-another. Now, if there were a trope for Only Six Voices... Wait there is.
    • In a particularly meta sequence in which the boys create an animated Christmas special featuring themselves (and which is represented by the original Spirit of Christmas special that served as a proto-pilot for the series), the boys react to the animated versions of themselves as though there were fine details that the audience is incapable of seeing:
      "They kind of look like us. I mean, Stan's got blue eyes and I've got a sharper nose, but I mean, they kind of look like us."
    • Possibly the best Lampshade Hanging however came in a Cracked magazine parodynote . At one point in the comic, the characters go to a beach to gather sand to throw into a giant butt threatening their town, but due to the Limited Wardrobe trope, they overheat in their winter clothing and faint. They all wake up naked in a hospital bed, and the Stan and Kyle expies (who both have the exact same hair, because the show had not revealed how they actually looked without their hats at the time) can no longer tell which of them is which. The Cartman expy suggests they look under the covers, since "Kyle" is Jewish. You can work out the joke from there.
  • The DC Animated Universe's simplified art style post-BTAS has shades of this, especially the generic 'male' body shape used for otherwise very different characters.
    • Very apparent in Justice League in the few rare instances when Batman takes off his mask and looks nearly identical to Superman.
    • And lampshaded (we hope) in the Superman episode "Knight Time", where Superman is able to 'be' Batman by putting on his costume and disguising his voice. Several characters do wonder, though, whether Batman seems taller all of a sudden. Which is a joke considering that in their previous crossover episodes, Superman and Batman are the same height.
    • Also lampshaded in this dialog:
      Superman: Do I look like Batman to you?
      Flash: Yeah, you kinda do, especially when you get all scowly like that.
    • Even more evident with the female characters. Justice League eventually broke out of this, with broad-shouldered Wonder Woman and realistically-built Amanda Waller, but earlier efforts had "Bruce Timm Generic Female #2" for almost every distaff character. This is parodied in Shortpacked!, when Batman studies video footage of a female criminal, before concluding that, since the hair isn't visible, she's impossible to identify.
  • Spider-Man: The New Animated Series had six background characters that were continuously reused in different contexts. Sometimes they even played different "roles" in the same episode.
  • In the Winx Club, every girl has the exact same body, head, and face shapes. If it weren't for the vastly different hairstyles, clothes, and colors you wouldn't be able to tell any of them apart. The background characters also fall victim to this, to the point where one character could be both a witch and a fairy. Sometimes it was just the same character with a different hairstyle while other scenes had repeated, recolored characters to fill out the masses; Shilly (a witch from Cloud Tower who featured a few times in the comics) makes an appearance (in a blue dress instead of a red one) in Season 4 as "Sally", one of Mitzi's friends. Not even the Winx escaped; there was a brown-haired Bloom in a crowd at Redfountain in season two.
    • Some characters are copied exactly. Priscilla (a red-headed girl in an all-green outfit) appears in both Alfea and Cloud Tower, leading many early fans of the show to believe that there was a pair of twins attending both schools. And Darma (Mitzi's fuschia-haired lackey in Season 4) showed up regularly in background shots from Cloud Tower, leading to a debate over whether or not she's actually a witch; the Cloud Tower version was never named or even spoken to (like most of the characters at Cloud Tower), so it's entirely possible that it really was her.
  • The Fairly OddParents uses this relentlessly, with most child or teenage characters having the exact same face, with the possible variations only extending to two different types of noses and two different types of eyebrows. Timmy, Cosmo, Wanda, Vicky, Chip Skylark, Chester, Trixie, Veronica and many more suffer.
  • Robot Chicken parodies this within a Cloverfield parody.
    Girl: Which one's Josh? All the guys here kinda look like the same generic douche. (pan to show more partygoers; all the male ones shown share the same face)
  • Also happens with Titan Maximum, a Robot Chicken-styled series. Just watch the fight in the second to last episode. The same guy gets an ass-kicking no less than three times, two of those being at the same time in different spots.
  • A lot of the characters in Codename: Kids Next Door follow this pattern, including Sector V, Numbuhs 86 and 362 and The Delightful Children From Down The Lane, excluding the tall, lanky one.
  • Making Fiends. Vendetta has slightly distinguishable facial features and expressions from the others, especially in the webisodes, but the only difference between everyone else's faces is that they have either a pointed nose or a rounded nose. Also, the adults have the exact same faces as children (unless they have mustaches), so there's no Animation Anatomy Aging to diversify.
  • Becomes extremely evident in most crowd shots seen in WordGirl where there are actually duplicates of the same people!
  • A lot of animals from the Dingo Pictures cartoons are constantly reused for their films.
  • The religious-themed video series produced by Richard Rich's studio post- The Swan Princess feature characters that are almost visual clones of that movie's characters.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the same characters repeatedly walk behind the main characters in school.
  • Nearly every incarnation of My Little Pony has featured a cast of identical ponies, distinguished only by their colors, because all the toys used the exact same mold. In the 1980s and 2000s series, they even often had the same hairstyle. Friendship is Magic gave the main characters unique eyes and hairstyles, but their face shapes and bodies are identical to most every other pony. Stallions were given larger, more angular snouts and are visibly larger. Some characters were designed with entirely unique heads, bodies, and/or facial features, most of which were recycled into new background extras in season two.
    • Their Equestria Girls counterparts are similar, differing eyes and hairstyles but otherwise similar faces.
    • Oddly inverted with Trixie, who originally had a unique eye and horn designnote  but as of To Where And Back Again has been given a more standard design shared by countless characters.
    • Lampshaded in one episode when Ember is unable to tell Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer apart, remarking how they look and act exactly the same. It also doubles as Racial Face Blindness.
  • This is a very common complaint about the female character designs in Young Justice, especially where facial structure is concerned. If not for the differing skin/hair/eye colours, about 90% of the female characters would be identical in appearance. You know it's bad when Batgirl and M'gann or Dinah and Cassie look like they could be siblings as civilians.
  • Don Hertzfeldt's cartoons, which is lampshaded in it's such a beautiful day.
  • Comes up in many of the incarnations of Transformers, since so many characters are re-colors of other characters. This finally was addressed in Transformers: Animated, when it was explained that there were a few particular "body types" that were common, explaining why there were dozens of extras that looked like different colored Bumblebees and Arcees.
  • In Jem most of the females share a similar face. The Jem and the Holograms comic reboot averts this by making the designs more diverse.
  • Every character in JOT shares not only the same face, but the same body design (a white circle with hands and feet). The only difference is that most of the characters have hair to differentiate them from the main character, Jot, who doesn't have hair.

    Real Life 
  • Some people suffer from a disorder called prosopagnosia (also called Face Blindness), the inability to differentiate between faces. To these people, real life people all look the same (barring hair color, skin pigmentation, body shape and very specific details such as scars). The fact that Real Life people generally don't have a distinctive outfit or hairstyle makes interacting with people extremely confusing for people suffering from prosopagnosia.
    • A limited form of foreigner face blindness can occur as both an actual phenomenon (as the distinguishing features of an unfamiliar group may be different) or psychological (not bothering to look for any differences).
  • Members from a certain family will look like each other; such as the family in this photo for example.


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