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Only Six Faces

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You can only go so far with paper 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, distinctive Hair Colors, 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, homogeneous 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 sometimes 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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  • 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.
  • Pretty much all figures in classically ancient Egyptian art look identical to anyone else of their gender (unless they have animal heads). This owed to Egyptian culture strongly venerating depictions of a person as how they would be seen in the afterlife, and therefore prioritizing "completeness" over accuracy (hence why they also overwhelmingly have the full body with all fingers and toes visible). One of the more notable exceptions is Akhenaten and many others from his era, who looked very distinct; scholarly theories range from it being representative of his dual nature to him pushing towards greater realism in his reign to him just being that ugly.

    Comic Strips 
  • All the younger men in Apartment 3-G tend to look alike, at least in the later years when Frank Bolle is the artist.
  • 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.
  • Calvin and Hobbes did this, to an extent. Less so as the series progressed.
  • 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:
  • The Far Side: Gary Larson, even stating the trope name, once said in an interview in 1998 that he never wanted to bring the same character back in any of the Far Side strips because it felt limiting and that one scenario he made would work with a character but not another. However he later said "Although admittedly, as the years went by, all my stuff got boiled down to about six faces.”
  • Characters in FoxTrot are only differentiated by hairstyles and accessories. Andy even changed her hairstyle early on to make her look less like Paige.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In They'll Do It Every Time, Al Scatudo had basically one male and one female face. Which was a little odd in the rare strip that featured a woman who was meant to be young and attractive...and had the same face as his frumpy housewife characters, just with lipstick and nicer hair.

  • For both The Aristocats (1970) and Robin Hood (1973), the (then) financially-strapped Disney re-used several iconic dance scenes from at least three different previously-released Disney animated films, most notably Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Deja vu, much? The dance scenes in all previously-mentioned films were drawn from the exact same live-action source material (and, in some cases, Xeroxs of that material). note 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • An interesting case in the Avantasia Protag AU series. None of the characters have canon designs, but since they're from rock operas, they have vocalists. And the band Avantasia has four separate stories with some of the same vocalists "playing" different characters. In this fanfic series, each character has been given the face of their canon vocalist, and since it contains characters from all four canon stories, many of them have the same faces. Including the four main characters. This is lampshaded in series as everyone can see it and the fact is used in various plot points.
    The man on the ground before them...was them. It was another double, though this one looked slightly older than Scarecrow.
    "It's...another one of us..." Gabriel said softly, placing his hand on the stranger's chest.
    "No way..." Scarecrow muttered, was true. The man was an exact copy in almost every way.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The 3 Little Pigs: The Movie, all three pigs look exactly the same only with different clothes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The DC Animated Movie Universe was an attempt at creating a Shared Universe by having all animated films from then onwards adopt the same art direction. This could have worked better if the character designers used a style similar to their animated series from the 90s and early 2000s, but instead they went with a style where every human and human-adjacent character had identical looks.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

  • 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.
  • 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.[1]
  • Most My Little Pony toys have the same mold and only differ in color, hair, and symbol markings.

    Video Games 
  • 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."
  • In Backyard Baseball and other Backyard Sports games, all characters, besides the 30 main ones, are based off of a few models.
  • 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.
  • Bioshock 2 has this with the little sisters in the final cutscene (good ending).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 noticeably different from everyone else.
  • Save for Campbell, Dr. Betruger, Counselor Swann, Theresa Chasar and Sergeant Kelly, the NPC's in Doom³ 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 except color and hairstyle, even those from the other Fallout games. This is because the game's art style is based on the in-universe Vault-Tec cartoons, where almost every human character looks like a variation of Vault Boy.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Almost every Final Fantasy after Advent Children, characters in CG movies and other titles like Dissidia Final Fantasy tend to look very similar. This expands to Kingdom Hearts above and Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. Averted in Final Fantasy VII Remake which thanks to using realistic graphics is able to give the cast unique facial features, Cloud for instance has different features from other bishes like Reno or Rufus as well as Sephiroth. Tifa and Aerith notably avert this due to Tifa being modelled to have Asian looking facial features whilst Aerith is modelled to look more Caucasian, unlike previous media where they had same face apart from hair and eyes.
  • 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 three 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?
    • Half-Life 2 isn't much better, with only 15 citizen modelsnote .
  • Henry Stickmin Series: Being simple, monochromatic, literal stick figures, the only thing that differentiates characters are the color of their shoes, and their hair, facial hair, and hats (if they have any of those.) There's even a moment that acknowledges this, when Henry and and Dave Panpa have to unlock a prison cell, and Henry attempts to do it by switching bodies with the prison cell's guard. Despite them being identical, Dave, along with Henry's other friends, ask "what did you do with Henry?" and attack the Henry-possessed guard. The fail text reads "What, you think all stick figures look alike?"
  • Hitman:
    • 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.
    • TheWorld of Assassination Trilogy downplays 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 30 or so face models for each gender, as well as varying textures and models for skin color, hair, arms, you name it, not to mention the different types of clothing 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.
  • In Hotline Miami, there are multiple different characters who have the same face sprite but slightly altered, to the point where it isn't uncommon for first or second-time players to believe that different characters are one and the same.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A lot of Mortal Kombat games (even later ones like MK9) suffer from this, as it’s extremely hard to differentiate human characters by their faces except by their skin colour, whether they’re wearing a mask, hat, glasses or have some kind of face marking or unique eye colour. Female characters in particular all had the same pouty faces, which bleed over in other NetherRealm games like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Even MKX got criticised for this, with Cassie and Jacqui looking exactly the same save skin colour. Mortal Kombat 11 thanks to photorealistic graphics goes very far to avert this with female characters (apart from Sonya and Cassie) and the rest of the cast having different features from each other.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Akira Toriyama, maker of Dragon Ball (see the Anime & Manga folder), 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.
  • 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 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 1996 versions of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in the U.S.A. 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • As crowd sizes have increased in Wide-Open Sandbox games, some PC ports (such as Gran Theft Auto V) have actually included a "Crowd Diversity" setting, allowing the user to choose how much this trope is invoked or averted. This actually serves a purpose, as every NPC model increases the memory requirements of a crowd. Allowing copies keeps up the crowd density but improves performance on struggling machines.

    Visual Novels 

  • 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.)
  • Anime News Nina parodies the tendency for all Bishōnen in any given anime series to have the same generically pretty face in this strip.
  • APT Comic has a habit of one face per species, to emphasis the rest of the differences.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • David Cheung (of which Chugworth Academy is the only creation of his work-safe enough to have a page on this wiki) is notorious for having exactly one female face.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!! has often been accused of this, particularly the gigantic noses of all the characters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • The Toon Teens Comic's only distinct facial features are Noodle and Chris's mustaches, Lilly's antlers, and Cesar's eye scar.
  • In The Mansion of E, all gnolls look alike, except for their hairstyles.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • In some really early strips of Penny Arcade, Gabe and Tycho looked very similar. It got better, so now they look very different.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Real Life Comics does something similar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Whiteboard, the humans (for the most part) only have one face. The furry cast is more varied... mostly.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • All of the characters in the ASDF Movie series have the same appearances, this is often the joke.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Only the color of the human characters eyes change in DSBT InsaniT and Dreamscape, which relies on clothing style and accessories for Distinctive Appearances.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jacksepticeye, Markiplier and Thomas Sanders all play at least four different characters on their own, leading to fanart having this.
  • Webcomicker Jeinu seems fed up with this enough to start a tutorial series teaching amateurs how to avoid this very trope.
  • Justified in The Most Popular Girls in School as most of the characters are Barbie dolls.
  • 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.
  • The Nostalgia Critic likes to reuse cast members for different characters on his show, which quickly becomes noticeable because his cast is very small.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • Appears after the second episode in Aaagh! It's the Mr. Hell Show!, due to the animation team working within a limited timeframe. An outstanding example is the Scooby-Doo parody characters reappearing in later sketches with different names and in a different context. Viewers didn't seem to mind, as the series was a British sketch-comedy and having a limited number of faces made it seem like an imitation of sketch comedy's tendency to have a small group of actors playing every role.
  • The characters in Angels of Jarm all use the same basic body design, including the same face with large eyes and a small nose and mouth on a circular head.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A lot of animals from the Dingo Pictures cartoons are constantly reused for their films.
  • 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.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the same characters repeatedly walk behind the main characters in school.
  • Don Hertzfeldt's cartoons, which is lampshaded in It's Such a Beautiful Day.
  • In Jem most of the females share a similar face. The Jem and the Holograms (IDW) 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 2.
    • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 2.
    • 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.
  • Becomes extremely evident in most crowd shots seen in WordGirl where there are actually duplicates of the same people!
  • 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.

    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.