Follow TV Tropes


Palette Swap
aka: Palette Swaps

Go To
Wait 'til ya meet Reptile, Smoke, Noob Saibot, Ermac, Rain, Chameleon...

"It's just like the old days, reusing the boss, changing its color and pretending it is completely new."

In 2D game development, the creation of sprites is labor-intensive. One cost-effective method for increasing the variety of game characters is to reuse the same sprite, but using a different color palette.

This is seen in some platformers, but it most often appears in Role Playing Games and Fighting Games. In fighting games, this is commonly used to differentiate players using the same character, but it is also employed to create "new" characters. In the 8- and 16-bit era RPGs, it was pervasive: because of console limitations, disk and screen space were serious concerns. Palette Swapping was used to create a large variety of different enemies, often using different colors for various power levels. The most famous group of these are probably the Slimes, topped by the powerful Metal Slime, of Dragon Quest fame.

A more elaborate variation found in 3D games is the Texture Swap, where the textures on the character's uniform are changed, but the actual model used remains the same. While the concept is a little different, these are often called Palette Swaps anyway as they're still easier for developers to make than a full-fledged alternate costume or character. The Head Swap is another tried-and-true technique for making more out of less.

Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) are often set in a very large world that must be populated by monsters. Palette Swap to the rescue! By changing the size and textures used on the same model, the designers can make many types of monsters from only a few basic meshes. Sometimes even bosses are simply re-textured and huge versions of weaker monsters.

Some fans of fighting games use the term to refer to characters that use the same animations and move sets, even if the characters look very different. Such characters are also known as "clones". Individual characters may also have a choice of several different colors or costumes (or both).

Caution: Tropes Are Tools. Palette swapping may be a shortcut, but it does allow designers to create enemies that keep pace with the player's progress while still hinting that the enemies will follow a familiar pattern. This is especially important when a given area is intended to be fast-paced or lead up to a climax, and the designers don't want the player stopping constantly to study "new" enemies. Also, can be used for worldbuilding: using palette-swapped monsters can hint at connections between otherwise disparate locations. In the case of bosses it can be used to hint at relationships between creatures that might not otherwise be apparent to the player.

One of the best ways developers found to make this trope smarter and loved by the audience, is use it as references, usually to other aspects of a franchise, when videogames have sequels, characters can have their original clothes from previous games back, superheroes in videogames can have multiple uniforms from their history in comics, TV shows and movies, characters who were completely redesigned over the years or with reboots can get reverted to their original designs, characters who appeared or debuted in the early days of 3D graphics like the PlayStation 1 or the Nintendo 64 can get turned into their low-poly models from those times, and even pallete swaps that are just alternate colors can work as references, this trope can also be used to reference other unrelated works.

Palette Swaps are also used in Sprite Comics, where they're known as recolors. They are frequently looked down upon. Outside of videogames, nearly all toylines will reuse parts with some colors changed, as much of the cost of a new toy comes from making the steel injection mold used to create parts. This can sometimes result in most of the line effectively being the same character with a different head and accessories, and is a major reason for the prevalence of the Environment-Specific Action Figure.

For a similar time-saving technique, see Ambidextrous Sprite. See also Colour-Coded for Your Convenience. Often associated with Moveset Clone in fighting games. Separate, but Identical is this trope for strategy games, which can also be Palette Swaps. For the level/world equivalent, see Remixed Level and Hard Mode Filler.

Palette swaps can be used to make Underground Monkeys, different colors to show different elemental affinities with Color-Coded Elements, Palette-Swapped Alien Food, or just a different variant.


    open/close all folders 

Non-video game examples:

  • Every year people get ads in their newspapers showing collectibles for the big local pro or college sports team. Ceramic villages with the team logo on it, Santa wearing the jersey, etc. What you don't really see until you go online to their website is almost every city got the same ad for the same village and often the only thing different in the picture is the team logo and colors.
    • USC and UCLA have a particularly intense rivalry to where any merchandise deal one university gets is soon followed by the same deal with the other. They turn to the same manufacturer most of the time, and as a result, the products are exactly the same, only with different packaging and images printed on them.
  • Proto, the mascot of Protegent, is a palette swap of Whyatt from Super Why!.

    Anime & Manga 
  • [C] – Control has several facets of one basic design.
  • The Tendou sisters in Day Break Illusion are triplets, which sort of justifies them often being literally copy-pasted and colour-tweaked. Also, Etia and Ariel's outfits are identical except for colour and the pattern on their circle-things.
  • Devilman has Akira Fudo, and Ryo Asuka, when they both appear, Ryo is literally a blond Akira, luckily, other adaptations give them different haircuts... Most of the time.
  • Common throughout the Digimon franchise; though it has well over one thousand mons, it is slightly padded with palette swaps:
    • Perhaps the most understandable examples are the Evil Counterpart palette swaps, darker versions of certain heroic Digimon. The most prominent example, both in the anime and otherwise, is Digimon Adventure 02's BlackWarGreymon, whose contrast with the actual WarGreymon was played up for all it was worth.
    • Sometimes, the difference in color is used to denote a variant of a different level, attribute type, or associated with different elements/powers. For example, Otamamon's has water powers and is of the Virus attribute, while Otamamon Red is associated with fire and is of the Data attribute. Both are of the Child level. On the other hand, sometimes there are less reasonable instances: there's Monochromon, an Adult, and Vermillimon, a red Monochromon of the Perfect level. There are many more examples.
      • Digimon World is horrible about doing this to differentiate random enemy Digimon from recruitable ones. You can recruit Betamon and Drimogemon (frog and drill-nosed mole, basically). You fight ModokiBetamon and NiseDrimogemon. (Modoki means 'seems like' or 'looks like;' Nise means 'false.') The only difference at all between them is that ModokiBetamon is a slightly different shade of green and NiseDrimogemon has a mustache instead of whiskers.
      • If they're bad, Soulmon is worse. The only difference between him and Bakemon would be a pointy sorcerer's hat.
      • Not as bad as Gottsumon, a Child-level golem Digimon who has two palette swaps, Icemon and Insekimon. At least Icemon (Adult-level) is clearly white as opposed to Gottsumon's grey so you can easily tell them apart, but Insekimon is distinguished from Gottsumon and Icemon solely by being a slightly lighter shade of grey with a green tinge, and what really takes the cake is that he is a Perfect. You heard correctly, a Perfect is a palette swap of a Child. This was lampshaded neatly in Digimon Data Squad - when Gottsumon evolves to Insekimon, Yoshino comments that all that seems to have changed is his colour.
      • Gururumon has to be Bandai poking fun at themselves over this practice. The difference between Garurumon and Gururumon is that Gururumon's blue stripes are slightly more purplish in hue; I dare you to tell them apart if you don't have their pictures/trading cards side by side. Many are the fans who thought that "Gururumon" was just a typo.
      • There's also ClearAgumon, which is basically a transparent ToyAgumon! Incidentally, they also have an Evil Counterpart palette swap.
      • Vegimon has two palette swaps: Zassoumon and RedVegimon. RedVegimon, at least, has the decency to differ in design somewhat insofar as having large clubs at the end of its tentacles instead, but otherwise it just looks like a Vegimon that is blue.
      • Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time marks the debut of such a palette swap as a main character in the anime - Ryouma Mogami's partner is Psychemon, a rather garish palette swap of a particularly famous former main character, Gabumon.
      • Digimon Adventure tri. has a mysterious villain who drives much of the series' plot and normally looks like an evil version of Gennai wearing a black version of his outfit. While disguised as the Digimon Kaiser, he summons a purple version of Imperialdramon to cover his escape while kidnapping Meicoomon.
    • The third kind is random recolourings which serve no purpose at all, are given little to no context, are not differentiated from the main Digimon at all, and seem to be there for the hell of it. Like in Digimon World 3. The entire Amaterasu Server (before you free it) is a Dark World-themed palette swap of the Asuka Server, and most of the Digimon in it are palette swaps of the ones from Asuka.
  • The Future Card Buddyfight anime does this whenever more than one of the same monster appears in a single match. With Drum, at least, it's at least explained as him being part of an entire clan of dragons that all look the same aside from differently-colored hair and armor. Gemclone also generally appears as a blue, crystalline copy of the monster whose Super Mode they are copying at the time.
  • Kaze no Stigma: Ryuuya Kazamaki is this for main protagonist Kazuma Yagami.
  • Shion, the heroine of the Non-Serial Movie Naruto Shippuden: The Movie, is aside from hair and eye color identical to Hinata Hyuga, one of the supporting characters of the main series. They even both have pupil-less magical eyes.
  • The "Rose Bride dress" of Revolutionary Girl Utena: The original dress is red and worn by Anthy during the duels. In the first ending sequence and in episode 38, Utena wears a light pink version of the dress, and in the third story arc, Kozue and Shiori gain dresses that match their hair colors (indigo and purple, respectively).
  • Sgt. Frog: It's used a lot in the anime for background Keronians, which generally share a few sets of generic designs (eyes with small irises, star emblems, hats similar to Keroro's or Kururu's, headphones included.
    • Later episodes also use it for random background aliens.
  • During Yu-Gi-Oh!'s DOMA Arc, Jonouchi/Joey adds the Blue Flame Swordsman to his arsenal. This is, unsurprisingly, Exactly What It Says on the Tin—a blue Palette Swap of his already existing card, Flame Swordsman, with the exact same stat (ATK: 1800, DEF: 1600, Level: 5). On the plus side it does have a useful ability that the original card does not possess—when it's sent to the Graveyard it allows Jonouchi to summon a regular Flame Swordsman to take its place.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s: Fake Jack Atlas's three fake copies of Red Daemon's Dragon have color palettes that are anything but red despite still carrying the same name. They're purple, blue and yellow. Fake Jack himself has darker colors than the original Jack Atlas.

    Asian Animation 
  • Noonbory and the Super 7:
    • All of the Dotoris look identical, with only their hats being different colours.
    • The Builder Borys all have the same character model, just with different skin and clothing colours (one is pink-skinned wearing red, one is yellow-skinned wearing orange, and one is cream-skinned wearing pink).
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Wolffy's grandfather Yellow Wolf looks exactly like Wolffy, but colored yellow. Identical Grandson indeed.
    • The Rainbow Beans from the season Flying Island: The Sky Adventure are all literally the same character, right down to their cephalothorax-like designs. The only thing that distinguishes them is their color schemes, with each one made to match the colors of the rainbow.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: The Evil Sorcerer Infidel once did something that gave Samaritan a blue costume and red hair (instead of his normal red-costume-and-blue-hair ensemble).
  • Spider-Man: The Hobgoblin is effectively a palette swap of the Green Goblin, albeit with a hooded cape. There is an in-story reason, as the person behind the Hobgoblin mask intentionally dyed it a different color.
  • Ultimate Marvel: In Ultimate Comics: Avengers, Gregory Stark is introduced as Tony's twin brother. He has blond hair and wears white suits.
  • Wonder Woman: In the short-lived Continuity Reboot Wonder Woman: Odyssey Artemis's costume and build are identical to Diana's in all but coloration, to reflect her former status as Diana's rival.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has Thunderstorm, who is described as his brother Brainstorm with a black lab coat and jet-black hair.
  • In Contractual Obligations Harry and Tom wear green and silver bonding robes with the colors reversed.
  • In Expelled Harry wears a gold robe with red trim for his marriage to Hermione, while her father has a red robe with gold trim.
  • In Finding Heather Padma and Parvati wear pink/orange and orange/pink dresses at the Yule Ball.
  • In Harry Hadrian Snape and the Sorcerer's Stone when Harry and Draco go to Diagon Alley for first-year school supplies, Draco is wearing a silver robe with green accents, while Harry's is green with silver accents.
  • In How Harry Got a Date Padma's Yule Ball robe is orange with a pink sash, while Parvati's is pink with an orange sash.
  • In Let's Try Again Fred and George's Animagus forms are red foxes with black tips on their ears and tails, while Hadrian's is a black fox with red tips on its ears and tail.
  • My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: According to the author's vids and artwork, many of the characters greatly look like each other with the only differences being colour and hairstyles. In the stories themselves, characters are often described by their similarities to others, such as Cerise Wonder being someone "whom greatly resembled princess Cadance— same color, same mane style, even same voice— but Cerise had a golden horn like Lightning had."
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows: The Shadows all look exactly like their Light Halves, except for color; most of them just have darker colors than their Light Halves. Black Queen and Evil Rin take this a step further; the former replaces all the white on the Queen's garb with black while the latter is black, gray, and silver.
  • SuperSaiyanKirby Adventures has Anti-SuperSaiyanKirby, who's literally the main character with some changed colors.
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also Mattboo Sux, Sidney, Casy, "Evil Pac-man 64 clone", etc.
    • That may be explained by the fact that the original character designs were made in MS paint.
  • In Veiled Threat Harry's Animagus form is a black phoenix with red wingtips and Ginny's is a red phoenix with black wingtips.
  • The Matrix homemade pinball machine was made by altering a Johnny Mnemonic machine in this way, and a Genie's theme was repurposed into that of The Ramones. This is the preferred method for aspiring creators who don't have enough technical knowledge or money to build one from scratch and no intention to sell.

    Films — Animated 
  • Barbie movies:
  • Little John from Robin Hood (1973) is basically Baloo from The Jungle Book (1967) but with brown fur (instead of gray) and wearing clothing. Not only that, but they also share the same voice actor.
  • The character model for Queen Iduna from Frozen bears a striking resemblance to Elsa, such as her wearing her hair in a crown-twist bun (only with brunette hair instead of platinum blonde).
  • Word of God for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse revealed that the silhouette of the Lizard from Spider-Gwen's flashback was made by heavily modifying the character model for the Green Goblin (helped by this incarnation of Goblin being a hulking and brutish monster based on the Ultimate Spider-Man version).
  • Rapunzel's wedding dress in Tangled Ever After is actually her homecoming celebration dress colored white instead of pink.
  • The villain in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo summoned several Palette Swapped copies of previously created villains for the final battle.
  • Andy's birthday guests in Toy Story are recolors of his model with the occasional baseball cap. Given how Pixar was struggling with humanoid models at the time, this was to be expected.
  • In Turning Red, each of the members of 4*Town wear white versions of their usual clothes when performing at the SkyDome.
  • Wreck-It Ralph used this for several of the background Sugar Rush racers. Both meta and in-game. Of course, when you have a racing game featuring tons of characters, and especially one from 1997, this is to be expected.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The machine guns (which are black) in the Exploding Candy scene in the elevator show up in the very next sequence in white as the cameras in the Television Chocolate room.
  • Children's Party at the Palace has Mary Poppins, who first appears wearing a black coat when she chastises the Baddies for their attempted sabotage. Later during the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" performance, her coat is blue instead.
  • Ghostbusters II: The Ghostbusters have dark gray coveralls which go along with their standard khaki coveralls.
  • Grandma's Boy (2006), which is about video game designers, references this tendency when one tester recommends differentiating between two types of enemies by changing the colors of one of them.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
      • The Mamenchisaurus that briefly appear during the stampede scene were made by stretching out the Brachiosaurus model from the first movie.
      • The male and female Tyrannosaurus are slightly recoloured versions of the same animatronics and CG models, which is a notable change from the novel, which states how the male is smaller and scrawnier.
    • Jurassic Park 3: The Triceratops CGI model made for the movie is a modified Stegosaurus, resulting in an unusually long face and body. This isn't noticeable in the film itself, as the Triceratops are only seen in the distance as background animals for a few seconds.
    • Jurassic World: The holographic Dilophosaurus is a modified Blue the Velociraptor CG model, and her blue stripes are clearly visible on its body.
  • Brad and Janet's guest rooms in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lampshaded by an audience callback ("same room, different lighting, cheap movie!")
  • The Starfleet uniforms seen in Star Trek: First Contact are an inversion of the uniforms worn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, being predominantly black with gray shoulders and colored shirts, unlike DS9/Voyager's uniforms which had gray shirts and colored shoulders. The DS9 crew would shortly switch to these uniforms for the rest of the series, whereas Voyager's crew, stuck in the Delta Quadrant, stuck with their uniforms till the end, though subsequent episodes involving the Federation at home featured these uniforms.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
    • Magneto always had some red and/or purple colour on his outfit, but in 2023 his uniform is completely black and grey, signifying that he's now part of the X-Men.
    • Costume designer Louise Mingenbach described Past Xavier's switch from his brown-and-pink casual wear to his more formal blues and greys that is typically associated with the character in the other movies.
      "At the beginning of the film, Charles is medicating, and very possibly on hallucinogens, so we had that come through in his shirt. As he pulls himself together, he wears a nice blue oxford like all good, put-together men—a progression from that psychedelic Cat Stevens-wear."

  • Many multicolored candies, such as gummy bears, are this. Though some will swear otherwise, many colored candies all have the same flavor unless explicitly advertised otherwise.
  • Novelty cake pans in special shapes (of the sort often used to make children’s birthday cakes) often come with a little insert suggesting how the pan can be used to create numerous different cake designs. Given the baker’s creativity will be somewhat limited by the shape of the pan, these “alternative design” suggestions are inevitably just palette swaps of whatever the “main” cake design is. So for example, if the pan is shaped like a truck, the alternative suggestions may be an “army truck” in camouflage colors or an “ambulance” which is just the truck in white with a red cross on it.

  • The Fold explores the possibility of duplicates from an alternate dimension, several of which are palette swapped for clarity and convenience.
  • Leareth in the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy magically models his face and body and picks a wardrobe meant to closely resemble those of his great enemy, Herald-Mage Vanyel. But where Van has silver eyes, Mystical White Hair, and wears Herald's Whites Leareth's eyes, hair, and clothes are all black. This is done as a show of how much power he has, that he can spend some on taunting a foe by becoming his dark reflection.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Barrier: In a presentation including photos of children who were taken away from their parents by the government under false pretenses, some photos are altered to change the color of the subject's eyes and/or hair. One boy has very light blond hair in the presentation despite his real hair being significantly darker, while a girl with relatively light hair has it much darker on her presentation photo.
  • This is the difference in the Community episode "Physical Education" between Abed and his Identical Stranger, Joey. Or, in other words, Brown Joey and White Abed.
  • In Denji Sentai Megaranger, the suits, which often have some sort of variety per season, are rather homogenous this time around save color. Perhaps a moment of Fridge Brilliance, since this season was about video games, particularly ones made in the mid-90s.
  • Dinosaur Planet: The show heavily reused the CG models of the animals for different species in each episode to cut down on cost, and only with slight colour changes. Allodaposuchus and Notosuchus, Aucasaurus and Tarascosaurus, Saltasaurus and the unnamed titanosaurs in "Pod's Travels", Alvarezsaurus and Shuvuuia, Troodon and the unnamed troodontids in "Pod's Travels'' to name some.
  • Kamen Rider frequently recycles its rubber suits, since these costumes are expensive and repainting them is cheap. At times this is the suits used for each Monster of the Week, but more commonly the components of a Rider suit that has become obsoleted by the story, such as a Mid-Season Upgrade form, will be recycled for a new form. With the advent of direct-to-DVD movies giving secondary Riders a day in the limelight, this trend became much more prominent, as each movie often only has the budget for a single brand-new costume per film while everyone else who gets a new outfit will use repainted or slightly retooled parts of old costumes.
    • Gold Drive from Kamen Rider Drive is a very literal Evil Knockoff of the title hero created by the Big Bad stealing Belt-san's tech (a recurring theme with him).
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has Kamen Rider Genm, a palette-swapped Super Prototype of the title character, as part of its videogame theme. Multiple crossovers feature Genm being mistaken for Ex-Aid or vice-versa.
  • In the Psych episode "We'd like to thank the academy", Shawn shoots two civilian cardboard cutouts in a training exercise. His justifications:
    "The first woman with the groceries was exiting a library that doesn't allow snacks. I know this because we've tried on several occasions. And the second woman was simply a replica of the first woman, but they painted her face brown, which is both offensive and suspicious."
  • By the time of Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger, it's has become quite obvious that Super Sentai not longer has the budget to create unique monster suits so all we've got are the same body suits with a different head and/or weapon. Even so, there's still plenty of palette swaps like Milk World being a dairy themed repaint of Bullfighting World or Carrot World being an orange version of Daikon World.
  • Planet Dinosaur is a rather heavy offender in this category: Rugops and Skorpiovenator; Saurornithoides, Troodon, and Bradycneme; Sinornithosaurus and Rahonavis; Jeholosaurus and the small ornithopods in "The New Giants" (likely Gasparinisaura); all of the generic pterosaurs, with the exception of Hatzegopteryx; Allosaurus and Saurophaganax (this one is at least justified, as Saurophaganax might just be a giant Allosaurus species).
  • Prehistoric Park did this with the same species; the adult Tyrannosaurus uses the same body of the juveniles, only with a different head, because they did not have the budget to make two Tyrannosaurus models. This results in the adults looking too slim and lanky compared to the real animal. They also recoloured the T. rex orange to make the Albertosaurus in the later episode. Baby and juvenile Triceratops are also depicted as being identical to adults, but fossils of baby and juvenile Triceratops show they were very different looking (for one, the horns started as nubs, grew curving upwards initially, before curving back down close to adulthood, and the bony frill is initially much shorter and downturned).
  • In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Power Rangers S.P.D., Make My Monster Grow mostly took the year off, in favor of each alien criminal of the week having his or her own Humongous Mecha. While the monster suits each looked original, the mecha started to repeat themselves, with minor details, and yes, colors, changed. (A few times, there wasn't even a repaint!)) Two once-used monster suits per week was just not gonna happen.
  • The Trickster in The Sarah Jane Adventures actually invokes this in ''The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith,'' appearing in white instead of his usual black to Peter Dalton as an angel. Lampshaded by the Doctor.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced Starfleet Academy cadet uniforms that were largely a partial palette swap of the standard Starfleet uniform, moving the department color from the upper body and sleeves to the shoulder yoke and leaving the rest of the uniform black, while adding large pockets on the pant legs. When it came time for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to send Nog off to the Academy, the cadet uniform's primary color was swapped from black to gray, in order to contrast against DS9's black jumpsuits. Following the introduction of the First Contact uniforms on DS9, new cadet uniforms were introduced; the outer uniform was a gray version on the movie version, with quilted shoulders and divisional stripes on the sleeve cuffs, but with the department colors on the shoulders and the gray undershirts of the original DS9 uniform.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs was guilty of this, with about half the animals being copies of each other. Similar looking animals were just these, while certain animals only got new heads. You can tell, because many creatures have the exact same folds and blood vessels on their skin.
    • All the large theropods, Allosaurus, Eustreptospondylus, and the dwarf polar allosaur, are recycled, having only modified heads and different colours, with the exception of the Tyrannosaurus. The polar allosaur is at least somewhat justified, as it was thought to be a close relative of Allosaurus (at the time). The spinoff, The Ballad of Big Al, gave Allosaurus a new model, however.
    • All the small ornithopods, Dryosaurus, Othnielia, Leaellynasaura, and the unnamed Hell Creek ornithopods (possibly Thescelosaurus) use the same model, only with different colours (this makes the narration saying Leaellynasaura has especially large eyes an Informed Attribute, since all of them have the same eyes). Well, except the Hell Creek ornithopods, which are literally just the Othnielia, even with the same colours.
    • All the small pterosaurs, Peteinosaurus, Anurognathus, and Rhamphorhynchus, use the same body, only with swapped heads, tails, and colours. Same goes for all the large pterosaurs, Ornithocheirus, Tapejara, Quetzalcoatlus, and unnamed Pteranodon-like pterosaurs. This is in spite of the fact none of these are closely related to one another, which hits Quetzalcoatlus especially bad, since the fact it's a hastily-made copy of Ornithocheirus is extremely obvious, as the animators didn't even have time to edit out the teeth!
    • Iguanodon, Muttaburrasaurus, and Anatotitan use the same model, but with changed heads and colours (and for the Muttaburrasaurus, changed forelimbs), which results in Anatotitan having way too bulky arms with thumb spikes. The Anatotitan model was further recycled for Saurolophus in the spinoff, Chased by Dinosaurs, where they didn't even bother to change the colours or fix the mistake with the forelimbs, just adding a small crest to the head. There are two Iguanodon species shown, which differ only by colouration (although the North American Iguanodon species is known as Dakotadon nowadays).
    • The Utahraptor and the Hell Creek dromaeosaurs (identified in supplementary material as Dromaeosaurus) use the same model, but with different colouration (the model being based on Deinonychus, since the two dromaeosaur species in the series were not known from good remains, at the time).
    • The Diplodocus was recycled for the Apatosaurus in the spinoff, The Ballad of Big Al, giving it a shorter neck, a darker colouration, and removing the spines along the back, but leaving the head and movements unchanged.
    • Then, there is Plesiopleurodon, which is just Stock Footage of Liopleurodon from the previous episode, only tinted lighter. This is at least partly justified by the fact Plesiopleurodon was thought to be a close relative of Liopleurodon (at the time).
    • Strangely, this is inverted with Polacanthus. A North American and a European Polacanthus species are shown (although the North American Polacanthus is now known as Hoplitosaurus), but they look exactly the same, with not even the minimal effort exerted to give them different colours.
    • Walking with Beasts does this less, but there are still some glaring examples. The Chalicotherium and Ancylotherium have the same model, just with different color schemes and modified feet for the latter (who didn't walk on its knuckles), despite Ancylotherium belonging to a different subfamily of chalicotheriids and being anatomically very different from Chalicotherium. The Dinofelis and cave lion are also slightly tweaked versions of the Smilodon model but with longer tails and smaller sabers (meaning the save lion still has saber-teeth). Then there is the small carnivore who gets eaten by the Ambulocetus in "New Dawn", which is the same model as the bear dog from "Land of Giants" (not even being recolored).


    Music Videos 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The MAD Magazine comic Spy vs. Spy features the titular black and white spies, palette swaps of one another.

  • Pin*Bot was repurposed nine years later into Jack*Bot. It uses the same characters as Pin*Bot and The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot, as well as the same layout, but reskins it into a casino theme and changes the rules substantially, as well as updated electronic parts. It also swaps out Pin*Bot's alphanumeric display with a dot-matrix display, allowing it to show pictures and animations instead of just numbers and simple phrases.
  • The Shrek pinball machine has a layout, parts, and rules identical to Family Guy, the only differences being artwork and sounds. That being said, it was not a careless adaptation: Shrek has hundreds of new lines of dialogue written specifically for the pinball machine, the new art fits the theme perfectly, and the Family Guy rules are retrofitted to be as faithful to the movies as possible. The idea is that Family Guy did not meet sales expectations, and operators requested a more family-friendly theme, so Shrek was conceived to be quickly put together to meet operators' demands.
  • Some home-made pinball machines consist of taking an existing machine and replacing the artwork and changing the rules, but the machine is physically unchanged. See Fan Works for examples.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE started doing this big time with their belts since 2016. With the exception of Raw's Womens title (which was originally intended to make the Women's division more on par with the men), these new designs were brought out during the revival of the brand extension and made to be Colour-Coded for Your Convenience (Raw's belts being red-based and SmackDown being blue-based).
    • Three of their new belts are palette swaps of the WWE World Title which has black leather and a black background behind the front plate. The Raw Women's title is on white leather with a red background, the Universal title is on red leather with a red background (the WWE logo on the front plate also features a unique black underline) and the SmackDown Women's title is on white leather with a blue background.
    • SmackDown's Tag Team titles are also a palette swap of Raw's Tag Team Titles, replacing the black leather and bronze plates with blue leather and silver plates. And then an updated design of the Raw Tag Team Titles became a palette swap of SmackDown's, with a red leather and silver plates.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A number of Muppets are actually the same puppet with different clothes, hair, and other accessories. The Creature Shop calls them "Anything Muppets." Sesame Street fans reading this will probably not be surprised to learn that the characters Prairie Dawn and Betty Lou, for example, are the same puppet, plus Zoe and Rosita.
  • The same thing happens quite frequently in Dinosaurs. Every single puppet not used for a protagonist was used as countless different characters, made male or female simply by changing the clothes.

  • A number of competitive racing series have contestants racing in nigh-identical vehicles in order to level the playing field, so that teams without millions to throw at aerodynamics research can stay competitive, though most allow minor modifications. NASCAR is the most prominent example, with each racing having dozens of completely identical vehicles painted in different colors with some token customized front fascias (See, this 1000+ horsepower RWD monster is totally an ecoboost Ford Fusion!). BK Racing's two cars (Toyota #83 and #93) are literal palette swaps; one is red, one is blue.
  • Averted by Formula One. Each team is allowed only 2 cars and outside of the driver number both cars must carry identical liveries. This can be confusing for fans at the track (meaning palette swaps would actually be welcome in this case), though these days it's mostly mitigated by phone apps that will give you the running order. In addition, F1 is definitely not a spec series, and while the two cars used by each team are in theory identical to each other every team custom builds their cars from the chassis on up and has a choice of four different engine manufacturersnote , couple that with pretty loose regulations that have plenty of loopholes and you end up with 10 pairs of dramatically different (though visually very similar) cars, some of which are much, much faster than othersnote .

    Tabletop Games 
  • Miniatures wargames will often have this. The players will actually play the same army by the same rules, but represent in-universe alignments by paint scheme. For example, one player may represent the WWII 10th Mountain Division and another may represent a US Ranger Battalion by using the same miniatures and rule set, but simply paint the 10th in snow and the Rangers in drab greens.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The game's fourth edition and its player base have been noted for actively embracing the concept of "reskinning" powers, monsters, and potentially even entire character classes to allow for more variety in play — that is, basically taking one mechanic, stat block or the like and simply reusing it as-is (with perhaps some minor tweaks along the way) to represent something potentially described entirely differently from the original.
    • Averted with the game's color-coded dragons, the chromatic and metallic dragon families. While red dragons are considered stronger than white dragons, and gold dragons stronger than bronze dragons, all true dragons come with stats for their various age categories, allowing them to challenge parties of any level — a dragon wyrmling is a tough fight for a low-level party, mid-level adventurers might contend with juvenile or adult dragons, while only max-level heroes stand a chance of defeating a great wyrm of any dragon type. One dragon breed being considered stronger than another relates to how their age categories are quantified by the game's Challenge Rating system, so that an adult white dragon will be stronger than a juvenile red dragon, but a red dragon great wyrm will be noticeably stronger than a white dragon great wyrm. It should also be noted that the various color-coded dragon breeds are more than simple recolors of each other, each has a unique body type and features that allow them to be identiable even in monochrome — blue dragons, for instance, have low, stocky bodies and blunt heads with a prominent craggy horn on their foreheads, while green dragons have long legs and necks, and a curved frill atop their heads that runs down their necks.
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, a number of factions started out life as simple palette swaps, but have developed over the years to get their own models and/or rules. The Space Marine chapters are a good example - originally Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Ultramarines and Space Wolves were just red, dark green, blue and grey paintjobs of the same Space Marine model, but now they have their own distinct stylings and rules. Other factions, such as Eldar Craftworlds and Ork Clans, are still just different colour schemes, though each can be characterised somewhat by choice of units taken as well as the livery.
  • The early days of Yu-Gi-Oh! was very fond of recycling monster designs, with a lot of random monsters having at least one counterpart. The localization had a habit of changing their names to be variants of "[monster name] #1" and "[same name] #2." Curiously, while the designs were identical bar colors, the artwork was always completely redrawn, depicting them in different poses or from different angles, and barring that artwork, the monsters usually had nothing in common. (Videogame adaptations that used 3D models tended to use them as more conventional palette swaps.)
  • Battletech: Classic Battletech (3025-3049) and post-ilClan (3150 onwards) is this. According to the lore and encounter tables all factions prefer different 'Mechs and variants of those 'Mechs, but their statistics remain the same if they are deployed by a different faction: A Phoenix Hawk is a Phoenix Hawk no matter the faction it belongs to and an AC/20 is an AC/20 no matter if, lorewise, it is a Defiance Industries model mounted on an Atlas or a Kali Yama model mounted on a Hunchback. The only exception to this is that the Inner Sphere and the Clans operate on different tech levels: Both field unique 'Mech chassis and have some unique equipment, so an Inner Sphere vs. Clan battle (at least one set between 3050 and 3149) averts the trope. On the other hand, all factions are big fans of capturing or salvaging and re-using equipment, so it is still at least theoretically possible in-universe for any 'Mech or vehicle to appear in any force. Though the amount of Contrived Coincidence required to get certain machines in some forces can make an epic tale in and of itself.

  • The Jack Russell terriers Bennett and Yank, who are pet dogs of Molly McIntire and Emily Bennett of the American Girls Collection respectively, are palette swaps of each other, bearing the same coat pattern with the colors inverted.
  • G.I. Joe has several 'covered head to toe' enemy characters. Each meant to be a different mook an identical uniform. Swaps come as ideas do. The 'Python Patrol' was, storywise, a way to make characters invisible to sensor equipment. The heroes had, for example, 'Tiger Force', which swapped the usual uniform colors with yellow, brown and red. Nameless Joe Greenshirts (think 'redshirts') got this, though their heads were clearly seen. Some were logical (light skin and a tanned one could mean a sibling was in the sun) but others were different races, same facial features.
    • Palette swaps and parts sharing created the original wave of twelve male Joes in 1982. Grunt (who, although established as a unique character, served as the basis for the Greenshirts) has the most common components of the wave, save for his head (which is only shared with Grand Slam and Zap; the most common head is shared between Flash, Hawk, Short-Fuze, and Steeler), and all of the shared pieces are recolored in one way or another on at least one of the figures - with the exception of Flash and Grand Slam, who aside from their heads are identical. Grand Slam did get his own palette swap when he was reissued with a different vehicle in 1983, though, and a few other 1982 figures received palette swaps when reissued with new vehicles.
  • Hot Wheels at least acknowledges its recolors for different model years are the same cars, but one can pinpoint which model year a certain car comes from by the paint job.
  • Some Lalaloopsy bases can be used several times, with only the colours changed. For instance, Mittens Fluff 'n' Stuff, Spot Splatter Splash, and Peanut Big Top all use the same "pigtails with bows" mold, just in different colours (brown skin, blue hair, and white bows for Mittens, brown skin, yellow hair, and red bows for Spot, and fair skin, purple hair, and red bows for Peanut). However, for some other molds, such as the "updo with accessory", require some tweaks to be used again, ex. Jewel Sparkles' tiara had to be swapped out for a bow when re-used for Bea Spells-a-Lot.
  • About two-thirds of the original Masters of the Universe toyline reused parts from the original He-Man and Skeletor toys. This is a big reason for the World of Muscle Men look of the franchise; just about every male character has the exact same bulging biceps.
  • The Marvel Legends and DC Universe lines and their permutations tend to have a number of "generic" bodies (slim but muscular man, fairly muscular man, beefcake man) that they reuse for any character whose design can be boiled down to "buff guy in spandex." Swap out the head, add some accessories, change the paint and plastic colors, and suddenly a lot of characters look the same.
  • Many themed Merkur sets (such as the Army, Safari, and Farm sets) are the same parts painted a different colour.
  • Nearly every LEGO minifigure ever, if for fairly understandable reasons. It's only within the past few years that they've started implementing unique body, limb and head designs for non-human characters.
    • In BIONICLE, the act of palette swapping represented a very disliked trend throughout the line's early run. The most infamous case is that of the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal lines: 12 sets that, beyond their weapons (and usually their collectibles), are exactly the same model, just in different colors. The same could be said for most of the Matoran sets, which only differed in their colors and/or mask designs. Yet narrowly avoided by most of the original Rahi two-packs which had two almost identical models, but each had at least one tiny detail that differentiated it from its partner (the exception being the Nui-Jaga scorpions). Outside of the toys, story material also had its share of these, but not many were truly canon. The green Vortixx from the comic Shadow Play was colored that way so that the readers could tell him apart from the black Roodaka. On the other hand, Tuma's green colored Rock Steed from Rise and Fall of the Skrall is canon. As a result, most background extras in the animated films were just recolors of the same handful of models. Even the Vahki soldiers used the same model, despite that their toys at least came with unique weapons. And in the third movie, the Muaka tiger was a mere palette swap of the ash bear from the first, with a slightly retooled head — it looked nothing like the actual Muaka toy, so they explained that it was really a mutant.
    • At the beginning, Hero Factory somewhat dipped back into the practice for its Heroes (the villains still avoided it). They were built in a factory as variations of the same basic design rather than individual and unique life-forms. The first wave Heroes were recognizable solely by their different helmets, weapons torso armour designs (the three rookies had the same one, however). The 2.0 and 3.0 waves, thanks to the new building style, added subtle differences that made each Hero unique: limbs length, shoulder width, armour size and orientation, colour schemes. By the Breakout arc, though Heroes are still all built off the largely same basic frame, Hero designs are even more varied in height, designs, colour schemes, armour and other elements.
    • LEGO Trains did this several times:
      • Passenger coach 7818 is the same design as the two coaches in 7710, but coloured blue and red rather than yellow and blue.
      • The 1996 train station 2150 is a reissue of the 1991 design 4554, in red rather than yellow.
      • The "My Own Train" range sold locomotives of the same design in a choice of five different colours.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Not only do the line of figurines resemble more toward pre-G4 versions, but various background characters (sometimes not even existing in the series) are palette swaps of the main characters, if their packaging graphic is anything to go by. For instance, look up Dewdrop Dazzlenote , Feathermaynote , Flitterheartnote , Lulu Lucknote , Plumsweetnote , Snowcatchernote , Diamond Rosenote , and Twinkleshinenote , if you're already familiar with the main G4 cast. Some other examples show attempt to differentiate however, such as "Cupcake" being a wingless version of Fluttershy, or "Sunny Daze" being a non-unicorn Sweetie Belle, or even "Minty" as an Applejack mold sans the hat.
    • The "blind bag" minifigures even went so far as to have Fluttershy - one of the Mane Six! - as a Pallete Swap of Rainbow Dash. (Which is somewhat amusing after the events of the third season episode "Magic Duel"...) She finally got her own unique mold in a set released in mid-2013note . Several other characters who've appeared on the show, though, are still recolors at the blindbag scale, such as Cheerileenote , Trixie Lulamoonnote , Lyra Heartstringsnote , Bon Bon (Sweetie Drops)note , Daisy (Flower Wishes)note , Blossomforth and Helianote , Strawberry Sunrisenote , and Peachy Pienote .
    • The Wave 11 blind bags have the stallion Neon Lights as a redeco of DJ PON-3. This wave's palette swaps also include Sunset Shimmernote , Suri Polomare (Buttonbelle) note , Flash Sentrynote , Big Wignote , Candy Applesnote , Purple Wavenote , Wensleynote , Cloud Chasernote , Royal Pinnote , etc., with Fluttershy and Cheese Sandwich being the only unique molds.
    • There is also Forsythianote  and Fizzy Popnote .
  • Nerf blasters are often released in recolored versions as store exclusives, notably the Sonic Series from Toys R Us, the Clear Series from Target, and the legendary Red Strike series from Walmart, which was only for sale for one Black Friday and is now one of the most sought after and expensive repaints ever in Nerf history.
  • The toyline for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves reused parts from both an Ewok playset and the Super Powers line. This resulted in Robin Hood himself having a conspicuous G-shaped belt buckle.
  • Transformers: The franchise, being what it is frequently redecos (puts different colors and painted designs on an old mold) and/or retools (puts new parts on old models) the same model several times to get better return on their toys. This can vary from a new paint scheme on a character to making a completely different character.
    • Starscream, in particular, has an entire group of palette swaps known as the Seekers, starting with the originals, Thundercracker and Skywarp. Move some things around (retool) and you get the 'coneheads,' Thrust, Dirge, and Ramjet. Background characters from the cartoon who were meant as generics would also eventually gain names, backstories, and toys of their own as they appeared in stories. There are even female Seekers now, starting with Animated’s Slipstream. Rest assured, if a new Starscream toy is made than at least one of the Seekers is soon to follow, regardless if they actually appear in the associated media or not.
    • Other famous or reoccurring redecos include Optimus Prime into both Nemesis Prime and Ultra Magnusnote , Bumblebee into Cliffjumper, Megatron into Galvatron (particularly popularized by the Unicron Trilogy shows), Soundwave into Blaster, Rumble and Frenzy, Ironhide and Ratchet, and Lazerbeak and Buzzsaw.
    • Trasformers Generation 2 consisted in large part of palette swaps of G1 toys. There were some exceptions, like Optimus Prime remained in his classic red and blue and Megatron got an entirely new vehicle mode as a tank instead of a handgun, but mostly the figures were simply the same toys in different colors (and spring-fired weapons the originals didn't have).
    • Transformers: Cybertron interestingly avoids this, for the most part (okay, not in the toyline), with Thundercracker having a standard Seeker body... but Starscream himself is a completely different design, with only the head looking particularly Starscreamy. (It's actually based on Screamer's pre-Earth design from the Dreamwave War Within comics.) The exception is Galvatron. After upgrading to Galvatron, visually, Megatron is Palette Swapped to G1 Megatron's colors. Major Homage, bordering on non-sexual fanservice.
    • Transformers: Prime:
      • Skyquake and Dreadwing are twins with two halves of the same spark, explaining why they look essentially the same, just with different colors. Fowler even lampshades, multiple times, how he essentially gave the same alt-mode to two different robots (he was piloting the same jet when facing each of the brothers).
      • The Jet Vehicon mooks and the more elite Seekers, who are basically silver and grey versions of the regular Jet Vehicons (in-universe, their colouring is in homage to their commander Starscream).
    • In Transformers: Animated, they were explained as having the same "body type" in-fiction. Oddly, though, only a handful of toys actually got recolored, namely Starscream as his clones and a couple of BotCon exclusives. More recolors came out in Japan or were cancelled before release. This has been done so often in both the official toyline and the shows, that it's considered a fairly acceptable method of inventing an Original Character (that one plans to create art of).
    • Transformers: BotBots manages to change alt modes for characters simply via recolors, thanks to the characters transforming into mundane objects rather than specific vehicles. For example, Angry Cheese, who transforms into a grilled cheese sandwich, has PB Junior as a recolor, who turns into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. Because their faces are printed on instead of molded on, the recolors will often have different faces to differentiate them further.
    • The Transformers fandom actually differentiates between recolors (which are the same figure with different colours, often to represent a brand-new character) like Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp and retools (the figure is slightly modified, such as new wings, arms and so on) such as the Coneheads (Starscream molds with new heads and wings), or Bumblebee and Cliffjumper in many toylines. In the original toyline, Bumblebee was a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, while Cliffjumper was a red Porsche 924, but as their toys had Super-Deformed Choro-Q/Penny Racers proportions, they had identical transformations and were otherwise very similar in appearance. It also didn't help that Hasbro released red Bumblebees and yellow Cliffjumpers, or that they somehow managed to release the Micro Change Mazda Familia figure (which also had the same transformation) in yellow on Cliffjumper (and possibly Bumblebee) cardbacks. It also probably didn't help that Cliffjupmer was retooled into Hubcap in 1986, or that Pretender Classics Bumblebee's robot head from 1989 was modeled after Cliffjumper's. By the time Hasbro and Takara started making new toys of the G1 characters in the 2000s, they just started making Cliffjumper a palette swap of Bumblebee, sometimes with a new head, sometimes not.
  • Hasbro also has a habit of doing this with their superhero properties, especially with the Marvel Legends line. For instance, the Marvel Legends Captain America figures they released for Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War were just repaints of the Marvel Legends Captain America figure that was released for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Toy Biz once released an Elektra figure that was just a repaint of an old Psylocke figure. They even gave her Psylocke's trademark psi-blade, even though Elektra doesn't have any superpowers in the comics.
  • Toy Biz did the same thing with their X-Men: Mutant Armor and Spider-Man: Techno Wars lines. If you're wondering why Spider-Man and the X-Men would need to wear suits of Powered Armor despite already having superpowers, it's because the toys were actually unreleased Iron Man figures from his cancelled TV show. So for instance, with only a new head sculpt and paint job, the Magnetic Iron Man figure became a "Battle Armor Wolverine" figure, Radiation Iron Man became "Radioactive Spider Armor Spider-Man," Living Laser (who was itself a retooled version of an unreleased U.S. Agent figure) became "Astral Plane Professor X," and so on.
  • Dino-Riders features this in both the cartoon and toy line. In the cartoon, most of the Mooks are Palette Swaps of the main "Generals", and go unnamed. For the toys, numerous mini-figures of the humanoid characters were created, with the same molds being used frequently (there are seven "Ant-Men" based off of the base Antor figure, for example; others simple use the same name but a different color scheme). Many dinosaurs share molds- the Torosaurus/Triceratops, numerous small Ceratopsians (the three toys all have different heads), and both sides have a Deinonychus, with only their stripes being different colors. Only the armor is different on most of them. Both sides also had a Quetzalcoatlus, though the second was only released in a limited area, making it quite valuable now.
  • Flick-to-Stick Bungees, being made by the same people who made the below-mentioned Gogo's Crazy Bones, takes a note from that toy series and gives each of its characters two color schemes, complete with a different name and stats (e.g. the green Lojo and the yellow Luji are just the same character in different colors). This is in the case of the European version; the American version mostly averts this, but it does have two characters made specifically for it named Samos and Peltast who are just the same character in different colors.
  • Flush Force gives each character mold two different color schemes. Unlike other blind bagged toys, each different color is considered its own character, rather than the same in two different colors.
  • Gogo's Crazy Bones figures came in different colors, usually about two to five in the reboot series depending on the set. The sets in the classic series, however, did not have any restrictions on what colors characters could come in, allowing them to be available in literally any color. In addition to all this, certain characters from the reboot series use the same mold as another character, for example Miro-K uses the same mold as Ayu from the Megatrip set, but the use of recycled molds is exaggerated in the Evolution set, which consists of Gogos that use all of the molds from the previous set, Series 1.
  • Jurassic Park has this in spades. Almost every line has at least one or two toys that are repaints of sculpts from previous lines, and the Jurassic World era toys get repeated repaints of the same sculpt. The worst is probably the Velociraptor molds, but almost every figure released gets a repaint release at some point. Sometimes it's seen as okay, if it's a nicely made model, but when the sculpt wasn't that great to begin with, or when there’s already a bunch out, it can irritate fans. You can see the list of older ones here.
  • The Trash Pack, Shopkins, and The Grossery Gang, all blind bag toys by Moose Toys, gives each character more than one color scheme, treating them like an extra figure to collect. The Trash Pack has three minimum color palettes, while the other two have a minimum of two. Some special packages gives existing figures exclusive colors that can only be found in those packages.
  • 30 Minutes Missions: The EXAMACS units and Option Armor parts are available in various different colors, allowing you to mix-and-match the color palettes if you have multiple kits with different colors.
  • Higher end figure companies like Papo and Rebor are known to do this with their figures. Multiple color variants of dinosaur figures are often released together. Papo in particular has repainted movie inspired figures like their Velociraptor and T.Rex several times. Papo has done the same with some of their non-dinosaur figures, as an Unicorn offered with mane and tail either yellow or silver and characters as princesses, who differ at least in the coloration of their dresses.


    Web Original 
  • In the sixth, final episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, we get a blue Red Guy, a green Yellow Guy, and a red Duck; which also happen to be their favourite colours, as described in episode one.
  • DSBT InsaniT: This is what Bill's second and third forms are. His second form turns his hair a lighter shade of blue, and his third form turns his hair and clothes black with a yellow shirt.
  • GoAnimate has Daillou (sometimes others) as a palette swap for Caillou.
  • Parodied by Pikasprey with "Donny Rage", an Original Character who is nothing more than an all-red Johnny Cage sprite.
  • The characters in Red vs. Blue look identical except for their unique colors. This is due more to the nature of the work (Machinima using the Halo Color-Coded Multiplayer mode) than a stylistic choice.
    • In later seasons, when the current game in the series allowed for customized pieces of armor, this cleared up a bit.
  • Being one of the web's most potent Fountain of Expies characters, there are a massive number of recolored Sonic the Hedgehog lookalikes on sites like DeviantArt. The least modified are simply Sonic with a new color scheme or some clothes on.
  • On user-created-adoptable site Squiby it's common for users to take a single format for a creature and use creative colorfills to make multiple versions. Some popular lines that use this formula include Mites, Tencats, Shika and Coons.
  • SMG4: Most characters in his early videos were just Mario recolors, including SMG4 itself and his old friends.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Heroes," the character of Magma is a simple recoloring of Clayface from the previous series.
  • Invoked in Ben 10: Alien Force with Albedo, the Insufferable Genius and former apprentice of Azmuth made an improved version of the omnitrix and began to masquerade as Ben to trash his reputation. At the end of the episode, Azmuth appears and breaks his version, getting him stuck in a Shape Shifter Mode Lock of Ben, except with white hair, a red jacket, and red eyes.
  • In The Crumpets, the recurring Weather Girl is usually blonde and wears a pinkish dress. In "Pity The Prize", the Weather Girl in that episode is colored like Cassandra (black/bluish hair, cyan shirt, dark blue skirt, brown belt), not to mention a different voice. This Palette Swap lets Cassandra disguise as the Weather Girl with few changes (as well as imitating her voice) so she can try preventing her love interest Pfff from attaching to the real Weather Girl.
  • In Dinosaur Train, similarly to Walking with Dinosaurs, prehistoric creatures that are related or look similar have the same generic body shape and only differ through their colour schemes and diverse display structures (horns for the ceratopsians, crests for the hadrosaurs, plates for the stegosaurs etc). The large theropods always have the same shape of the body and skull, no matter how closely related they are. For instance, aside from their colours, the Allosaurus and Giganotosaurus can only be told apart from a T. rex by their different number of fingers, the former's brow horns and the latter's osteoderms running down its spine. The Daspletosaurus looks exactly like T. rex (since they are related), but coloured differently.
  • In the Donkey Kong Country CGI cartoon, the character model for Eddie the Mean Old Yeti is the same as Donkey Kong's, but with white fur and a cap instead of a necktie.
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie tend to dress identically but for color in DuckTales (1987) and various Donald Duck shorts. They vary it up a bit more in Quack Pack, though their preferred colors stay.
  • Family Guy:
    • Lois' sister, Carol, is basically another Lois with different hair and clothes. They sport the same exact face and body shape.
    • Stewie's evil clone from "The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair" has the colors of Stewie's yellow shirt and red overalls switched.
    • Retep is Peter with a green shirt and white pants. And he is evil.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Farnsworth Parabox", the crew of Planet Express goes to a Parallel Universe where coin flips and other random events having the opposite outcomes from their own and where they meet palette-swapped versions of themselves (Fry has black hair and a green jacket, Bender is gold-plated instead of gray, etc.), otherwise nearly identical in personality. This is a literal example in Bender's case, as when Bender originally came off the assembly line he flipped a coin to decide if he was going to have himself painted with a gunmetal gray finish or a golden one, making the two Benders ones that chose different palettes for the same physical model.
  • In Gargoyles, Owen and Vogel. They say nobody's ever said they look alike. Turns out it's because Puck based his Owen identity on Vogel, the trickster enjoying the irony of playing The Comically Serious. Further, one of the consequences of rapid growing a Gargoyle clone is a change in coloration, which was probably done to avoid the usual narrative consequences thereof.
  • Hanna-Barbera became infamous for this in the 60s and 70s, one example being Mumbly who was somewhat derived from Muttley of Wacky Races. Mumbly would later be partnered with The Dread Baron in Laff-A-Lympics as stand-ins for Muttley and Dick Dastardly, likely due to rights issues with Heatter-Quigley Productions who co-produced Wacky Races.
  • One somewhat bizarre non-Video Game example are Wile E. Coyote and Ralph Wolf. They were basically identical, except Ralph had a red nose and Wile E had a black one, and they lived in different areas.
  • Miraculous Ladybug tends to re-use characters with different colors during crowd shots to save budget. This class photo is one of the more obvious examples; pretty much all of the students are recolors of each other except for Aurore and Mireille (the blonde girl with pigtails and the dark-haired girl with the aqua sweater, respectively).
  • Mixels has various background filler Mixels that share the same character models, with the only difference being swapped colors to represent the elements of the tribe they're from.
  • In The Mr. Men Show, Mr. Bounce looks like a yellow Mr. Tickle with a pink hat instead of a blue one.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Due to the show's use of Flash animation, the easiest way to fill out crowd scenes is to reuse the same Flash models multiple times, in addition to mixing and matching mane, tail and cutie mark designs and adding or removing wings or a horn, to make new background ponies. The result is that most background characters tend to be recolored versions of a relatively small handful of basic models, and sometimes even major characters are palette-swapped to make background ponies.
    • Daring Do has the same appearance as Rainbow Dash, just with a monochrome mane and a tan rather than blue coat. Her explorer clothes help differentiate her. In her original appearance it was because Dash was imagining what she read in a book... and then when she appeared in person she still looked like that.
    • Photo Finish is a recolor of Twilight Sparkle, only with a shorter mane to make her look a little more like Anna Wintour. There are a few frames that lampshade this with her cutie mark, which is the same as Twilight's but with a camera added.
    • While most of the Woodland Creatures associated with Fluttershy only appear in one palette and the songbirds have different models for each color scheme, some are given extra variety by means of recolors of the same base model. The most extreme case are the rabbits, which have white, light or dark gray, tan, brown, and black recolors, with the addition of a pair of antlers making jackalopes.
    • "Swarm of the Century": The individual bugs in the multicolored parasprite swarm all share the same character design.
    • "Owl's Well That Ends Well": The green dragon is a palette swap of the red dragon in "Dragonshy" earlier in the season. This dragon's character design is used once again multiple times in "Dragon Quest", colored red, green, light blue or black. In addition, the dragons flying in the actual migration all use one of two character models, identical save that one has a slender snout and a long spike on its head and the other has a heavy jaw, an underbite and two short horns, both recolored in a rainbow of hues.
    • "Over a Barrel": The buffalo (besides Chief Thunderhooves and Little Strongheart, who have important enough roles to get their own models) all use the same Flash model as each other, recolored to have either brown, russet or tan fur to make scenes with their tribe less visually monotonous.
    • "The Return of Harmony, Part 1": The Keepers of the Grove of Truth are physically perfect copies of each other, their only differences being that one is dark red, one is orange-red, and one is green.
    • "Luna Eclipsed": The band that performs on stage are actually palette swaps of the band from "The Best Night Ever" but are wearing scarecrow costumes. Fiddly Faddle, the Octavia palette swap, also appears in "Apple Family Reunion".
    • "Magic Duel": The various versions of Applejack and Rarity that Twilight makes during the titular duel look like palette swaps of their younger sisters and various other members of the apple family. This is because they really are palette swaps, as Twilight is not strong enough to actually cast those spells, so the Apple Family and Sweetie Belle disguised themselves with paint and hair dyes instead. Likewise, Fluttershy is painted in Rainbow Dash's colors for the duplication illusion.
    • "Apple Family Reunion": The fruit bats are a particularly extreme example of this. Only the red ones are given detailed models, while all other bats are just outlines filled in with all the colors of the rainbow.
    • "Bats!": The same Flash model is used for all the vampire fruit bats, recolored brown, gray or slate blue to give them some variety.
    • "Amending Fences": Moondancer, a friend first mentioned in the first episode of the series but who does not appear properly until here in season 5, is partly a recolor of Twilight, emphasizing her role as a foil. When they're young, they're complete palette swaps aside from their Cutie Marks (and both are antisocial bookworms). At the time of the episode, Moondancer has acquired Big Ol' Eyebrows, Nerd Glasses, a sweater and a messier "I don't care what I look like" version of the hairstyle, though it's still a modification of the same one with a hair bobble. (And she's become even more antisocial whereas Twilight has learnt to appreciate friendship.) We also see that before Twilight's rejection traumatised her and she decided to isolate herself, she had the eyebrows and glasses but was still otherwise a palette swap. (This doesn't so much seem to have symbolic significance as to be a needed halfway point between the two other looks.)
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies: One episode reuses a character model of a villain from the original series, and just recolors him white to make a 'new' villain.
  • PAW Patrol: One episode features a one-off pup named Sylvia, who is a palette swap of Chase with blue fur and purple eyes rather than brown fur and orange eyes.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • Moonbeam is a light blue version of Sunspot.
    • Carrot and Celery's boss from "Back to Bortron 7" is just a huge green Sunspot, but with a mustache obscuring his mouth.
    • Face 9001 is an orange recolor of Face 9000.
  • Shimmer and Shine: Dottie, the polka-dotted elephant from "My Secret Genies", is practically the elephant from "Abraca-Genie" with polka dots and a different color pattern.
  • Homer and Krusty the Clown in The Simpsons have the exact body shape and face with the obvious difference being Krusty is in clown shoes and makeup. Originally, Homer was supposed to have been a clown as a hidden job that Bart wouldn't know about, but the idea got scrapped and Homer's clown design was made into a separate character.
  • Fairly common in South Park for background classmates at the boys' school, or for adults in other crowd scenes. Although the animators have put together more distinct character models for extras in later seasons, palette swaps can still occur when they don't feel up to making even more new ones.
  • Many extras on SpongeBob SquarePants are Palette Swaps of each other. For example, the "My Leg!" and "Deaugh!" fishes.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Minister Maketh Tua is a palette-swapped generic citizen. Which led to confusion after her death in "The Siege of Lothal", because on at least two occasions afterward ("The Future of the Force", "Legacy") extras with that character model have been seen. Especially notable in "Legacy", where the extra in question gets a distinctive reaction shot.
  • Totally Spies! has a Shout-Out example with the girls' predecessors, Pam, Alice, and Crimson. The women look almost exactly like Hitomi, Ai, and Rui from Cat's Eye, just with different hair and eye colors.
  • Transformers has some In-Universe examples of characters performing Palette Swaps on themselves, though:
    • In the original series, Optimus Prime received one as a side effect of being coated with Dr. Morgan's impervious alloy in "The Return of Optimus Prime, Part 2". He's back to his original colors by the end of the episode, but it's never mentioned if it's because the alloy coating was removed, or if his colors were repainted over the alloy, and neither the American nor Japanese continuations make further mention of the alloy. Amusingly, the "impervious" Optimus Prime ends up looking like Ultra Magnus' cab robot mode (albeit the toy variant without the blue paint highlights on his head), which is likely why they put him back in his normal colors as soon as the story no longer had the need for the alloy.
    • In Transformers: Animated, Bumblebee, Wasp, and Longarm Prime/Shockwave demonstrate palette-swapping abilities via "electronic paint job".
    • Lampshaded in the third season of Transformers: Prime. When the Autobots went underground, Bumblebee reversed his colors, from being a yellow car with black stripes to a black car with yellow stripes. Arcee (who is blue with a few pink accents) notes that if she were to do that, she'd end up mostly pink.
  • The Triplets: While it's justified due to them being identical triplets, Anna, Helena, and Teresa look exactly the same other than different-colored shirts and hair bows.

    Real Life 
  • Any product that is mass produced can also be made with different colors. Cars and electronics are a big example of this.
    • Nintendo is very fond of making their consoles and accessories in different colors. The Nintendo 64 had controllers of various colors, ranging from red, blue, green, purple, etc. The console itself would also be produced in colors beyond black late in its life. When the Gamecube was launched, it came in either black or purple, along with its controllers. Later on, there would be a silver/platinum version and for a short time, there was orange, but that color was used only for the controller. The Wii initially released only in white, but it was also produced in black years later and there were controllers in black as well, along with pink, blue, and a limited edition of gold. The Wii-U and its controllers only ever came in either black or white. The Switch console is only produced in black, although the attachable Joy-Con come in gray, as well as several neon colors such as blue, red, yellow, green and pink. A set of limited edition Super Mario Odyssey red Joy-Con also exist. The standard wireless Pro Controller is black, although a Splatoon 2 Pro Controller with green and pink grips came out to coincide with the release of the game. There are several other cheaper Pro Controller variants, but they lack several features found only in their more expensive brethren.
    • Nintendo's handhelds are an even bigger example of palette swapping, having huge amounts of colors consumers could pick from and some of them were limited edition colors (such as gold) and a few of those were never released outside of their regions. There's a ton of colors that were used throughout each handheld iteration and they can be found here for the Game Boy line and for the DS line.
  • Badge engineering.
    • A car company takes one of their cars, swaps out the badges, then maybe changes the bodywork slightly before selling in one of their subsidiaries. General Motors is/was infamous for this, famously selling seven versions of effective the same car in the 1980s, all in the same market. The modern Volkswagen group likewise does the same, typically giving its affordable divisions previous-generation VW vehicles to modify. Chrysler, from 1970 until 1994, sold rebadged Mitsubishi compact cars because Chrysler's own compacts were so awful that nobody bought them. They stopped when they finally came up with a decent compact of their own in the Neon. Lampshaded with their mid-80s ads for the fifth-generation Dodge/Plymouth Colt.
      "Colt. It's all the Japanese you need to know."
    • Lincoln made fun of this in a 1980s commercial, where people get confused over which GM luxury car is theirs, since at the time, there was very little to distinguish top-trim Cadillacs, Buicks and Oldsmobiles from each other. They even had a followup where some of the people involved learned their lesson and got Lincolns to alleviate the issue. (Ironically, nowadays Lincolns have a reputation for being badge-engineered Fords, though as of late they've been trying to shake this reputation, with the current Lincoln Continental perhaps being the prime example.)
  • Basically any cheap self-promotional item handed out by a hotel, real estate agent, car dealer, etc, was almost certainly ordered from some generic wholesaler, meaning the pen, notepad, fidget spinner, etc, you got from them is probably completely identical to many other free pens/notepads/fidget spinners floating around out there except the color and logo is different. Companies in China specialise in this, where they offer "original design manufacturer" (ODM) services to interested clients through sites such as Alibaba — one would place a miminal order of about a hundred or so units and have them rebadged to suit the client's needs. This accounts for why you can see a cheap Android smartphone or MP3 player being sold by unrelated companies but share the same design and internals.
  • Prior to the New Horizons encounter, many CG-renderings of the dwarf planet Pluto will often tend to depict it as a blue-gray recolor of Jupiter's moon Ganymede.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Palette Swaps


The Dwarfs

Phelous points out a design quirk for the Dwarfs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / PaletteSwap

Media sources: