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Recycled Set

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"I love Drew Carey, but I have a hard time watching his show because they used our set and they have all our furniture. I'll be watching the show and suddenly I'm like, 'That's my fucking lamp!'"

Among the most expensive part of film and television production is creating large scale sets, as it takes time and money to design and build an entire prop building, fill it with appropriate signage and furniture and land rental has exponential costs. Especially if it is to be used for only one scene. A Recycled Set is when the foundation of an existing location is used as the skeleton and changes are made relative to what is needed for the scene. Since walls, windows, and doors tend to be fairly simple and unremarkable, it's typically easy for set designers to rearrange specific pieces of furniture or strategically cover wall segments to create an entirely unique look.

The methods used as generally the following:

  • Studio Backlots: Large areas with pre-built structures designed to reflect a number of generic locations such as a rural town, suburban block or city park. Tight camera angles can make a location in the middle of Los Angeles look like the Wild West. These are often rented out to different productions, all depending on the look they are going for.
  • Communal Locations: Different shows and movies may be filming simultaneously or in sequence, and it can be very beneficial to borrow a specific set because they are literally next door. This allows a Police Procedural to get a Space Opera set with little trouble.
  • Set Redress: The underlying tactic for most of this trope, a redress is the act of adding walls, changing paint jobs, moving furniture and filming from unfamiliar angles to make an established set feel different. Indeed, some sound stages often have all-purpose sets designed for easy manipulation between a casino floor to a funeral parlor, and productions often justify set construction by how many different locations it could stand in for.

A sharp eye can sometimes catch a similar building structure or a particular wall that's rotated to different sets. This similarity is rarely noticed or remarked upon by any of the characters, except possibly as a Lampshade Hanging. They simply go on their merry way, unconcerned that Bob's front door looks strikingly similar to Officer John's office door. This can also be justified through standardization of designs; things like office buildings, military armories and town squares will tend to look alike. This kind of cost saving measure is invaluable for a Bottle Episode. See also Prop Recycling and California Doubling. For particularly infamous recurring shooting locations, see Kirk's Rock and BBC Quarry.

In the Arcade Game industry, this takes the form of "conversion kits", which are designed to take an existing dedicated cabinet and repurpose it for a new game, saving a lot of money that would otherwise be spent getting a brand new cabinet. Aside from the obvious change in software, the decorations and sometimes the controls on the cab are changed out to fit the new game, but the shape of the cabinet is still clearly the same one used for the previous game.

Compare Hey, It's That Place! and Three-Wall Set. For the video game equivalent, see Cut and Paste Environments.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yes, there are animated examples of this too. GaoGaiGar does this when the heroes reach the site of their ultimate battle, only to find an exact replica of their command satellite.
  • The battle background of episodes 7 and 8 from Super Dragon Ball Heroes is claimed to be Planet Sadala from Universe 6, but is recycled from the future timeline version of Earth from Dragon Ball Super.
  • SSSS.DYNɅZENON reuses many of the backgrounds from its predecessor, SSSS.GRIDMAN. The set recycling is here used for deliberate effect, with many scenes that take place in the same location as one from GRIDMAN having thematic parallels to its counterpart, sometimes as a straight match and other times with an inversion.
  • Delicious Party♡Pretty Cure is notorious for this. Almost every single episode featuring a battle with the Bundoru Gang (barring the final villain and two other instances) involves taking the participating combatants (Rosemary, the Cures, Black Pepper, whoever's involved with the Bunduru Gang at the time, and their Ubauzo) into a desert/canyon area. The Movie of the season isn't safe from this either.

    Films — Animation 

  • The unreleased Golden Cue reused the layout from its spiritual predecessor, Eight Ball Deluxe, but with the addition of a ramp that diverts to two sets of rails.
  • Williams Electronics' Jack*Bot uses a redecorated version of the playfield from its predecessor, Pin Bot.
  • The Gamatron conversion kit reuses the playfield from Flight 2000 with only minor modifications (and a new theme).
  • The Simpsons Pinball Party was re-themed as The Brain, a promotional pinball for a science museum.
  • Family Guy was re-themed as Shrek, as well as a one-off Good Morning America pinball. The only changes were to the graphics and sounds; the layout and rules remained the same.
  • Game Plan, a smaller pinball manufacturer from The '70s, did this frequently to save costs. Family Fun! and Star Ship shared the same layout, while Sharpshooter, Old Coney Island, and Sharpshooter II all used the same layout or a mirrored copy. The games were often released together, which highlighted how recycled they were.
  • Stern Pinball took the soccer-based Striker Xtreme and re-released it a year later as the American Football-based NFL.
  • NASCAR was re-themed and re-released as both Grand Prix and Dale Jr. While the audio/visual aspects were changed, the table layout and rules were the same,
  • The playfield for Stern Pinball's NBA is an updated version of the one used for Sega Pinball's Space Jam.
  • Both Hyperball and its competitor Rapid Fire had their backboxes recycled for use on other games, mostly re-releases of other Williams and Bally games.
  • The Beatles Beatlemania (2018) is primarily a re-themed and updated version of Seawitch (1980), with a few physical differences (most notably a spinning disc made to look like a vinyl record).

  • In Holiday Inn, the Recycled Set was an actual set for a movie within a movie based on Bing's hotel.
  • In On the Town, Diamond Eddie's Nightclub, the Congacabana and the Slam-Bang Club are obviously the same set with minimal changes to the scenery. All three are playing some variation on "I Wish I Was Dead."
  • University theatre departments do this all the time. New sets are constantly being built out of pieces of old sets.
  • In-universe, for the Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hedwig stages her show on the abandoned stage of the stage musical adaptation of The Hurt Locker.
  • In-universe for Nunsense. The nuns' benefit show is staged in a school auditorium that's set up for a student production of Grease.

    Video Games 
  • Bishi Bashi Channel reuses the MÚSECA cabinet, due to the latter's online service (and use of online-requiring DRM) being terminated, although operators could order an offline kit to keep MÚSECA. Bishi Bashi makes several modifications to the base cabinet: the screen is oriented horizontally instead of vertically, the control panel now has four sets of buttons, one for each player, the spinners from MÚSECA are reused as the players' buttons, and the pedal is removed. Looking under the control panel, you can still see the funnel symbol that's used in MÚSECA.
  • One of the biggest criticisms against Dragon Age II was the massive reuse of floor plans for interiors, caves and dungeons.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas recycle scenery props from previous Bethesda games, mostly The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This is most notable in the caves, which reuse the textures, rocks, and various other bits of set dressing practically unchanged from Oblivion. Consider how the interior of the caves are often shades of green, but that New Vegas's predominant color is brown....
    • FNV not only reuses building interior layouts from FO3, but some of its own as well.
  • Halo:
    • Due to the level's well-documented Troubled Production, much of the Halo 3 level "Cortana" is made up of geometry either recycled from another cut level or slightly-altered from elsewhere in the final game. The very start of the level is almost identical to the entrance to the ship in "Floodgate", while one room you fight through is a flood-ified version of the Shadow of Intent's bridge as seen in cutscenes.
    • In Halo: Reach, the Club Errera interior layout is a near-identical copy and paste of Tayari Plaza from Halo 3: ODST, just given a thorough reskin to turn it from an outdoor recreational area to a nightclub.
    • Halo Infinite is fairly frugal with its environmental design; the one place where it goes fully into environment recycling is with the interior of the House of Reckoning: the large warehouse rooms that house the battlefield replicas are obviously just walled-up hangar bays from the Ghost of Gbraakon at the start of the game.
  • The barbershops in Leisure Suit Larry 2 look the same everywhere that Larry goes.
  • One of the places you can stop a speeding car in Police Quest is the disco from the first Leisure Suit Larry, and the cafe is a redeco of Lefty's Bar from said game.
  • Nostalgia (BEMANI) reuses the BeatStream cabinet, due to the latter's online service (and the game having online-requiring DRM) being terminated around the time the former was introduced. The key difference is the addition of a piano controller just below the touchscreen. However, an original cabinet designed specifically for Nostalgia is also available.
  • World of Warcraft reuses the same layout for most of their caves. Several cave designs have been introduced, but essentially all caves with ogres in them use a single layout, and a second layout with multiple levels accounts for most of the rest of the caves.
  • All the hosptials you can enter in Grand Theft Auto IV use the same interior.
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 recycles four maps from Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, namely the Refinery, Airport (now a junkyard), Island Estate, and Import/Export Warehouse, as well as a few areas from R6 Vegas 1.
  • River City Girls 2 uses most of the same maps from River City Girls, which makes sense because it's set in the same city after a few months. Urban restructuring takes a long time.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse reuses several maps from Shin Megami Tensei IV. Justified since it's a direct sequel that takes place in the same region.
  • Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap: A lot of rooms, especially in dungeons, have the exact same layout with different props and enemies.
  • The Talos Principle reuses models from Croteam's previous game, Serious Sam 3: BFE. For example, the Egyptian set is mostly the same.
  • Mirror's Edge Catalyst reuses many scenery assets from the original Mirror's Edge.
  • Super Mario Bros. used many of its level designs twice, with tougher enemies and obstacles the second time around, due to the limited cartridge space of the time. The arcade version replaced the duplicates with all-new levels, whose designs were in turn reused for Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.
  • The original Darius comes in a dedicated cabinet with three screens side by side, and Darius II was initially released in another dedicated cabinet, but with two screens. Taito later released conversion kits to allow operators to reuse Darius cabinets for Darius II, with the latter game modified for three screens.
  • Attack of the Zolgear was released as a conversion kit for existing Galaxian^3 cabinets.
  • Silent Hill 3 recycles the West Southvale neighborhood and Brookhaven Hospital from Silent Hill 2, which used the same engine, along with the models of Angela and James, for the corpse being eaten by a Closer (itself reusing the model of the Mandarin enemies) in the mall boutique and the deceased Harry, respectively.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Both of the flashbacks in Sonic Adventure use recycled sets:
      • Tails has a dream reminiscing his first meeting with Sonic, in which Tails is shown wandering a jungle. Even though the flashback is supposed to take place in Westside Island going by Sonic lore, it uses the jungle area from the game's Hub World Mystic Ruins, and it's really noticeable.
      • Amy's flashback of Sonic's previous adventure on Little Planet uses a still of the beta Windy Valley as a background. Even though this one looks noticeably different from the final Windy Valley to pass off as a wholly different area, eagle-eyed players should notice that other parts of the game use stills of it, such as Big's background in the opening FMV.
    • The first cutscene with Knuckles and Rouge Sonic Adventure 2 is likely meant to be set in Angel Island, but it clearly uses the geometry of Hidden Base, one of the game's stages. At least this time they gave it a different skybox.
  • Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse reuses the airport map from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 during the boss fight with Ernie the Giant Chicken.
  • The downtown area from MDickie's Old School is nearly identical to the open world map from Wrestling Empire, featuring many of the same locales and interiors.

    Web Animation 
  • Inevitable in the Pimp Lando series due to 3D Movie Maker (which was used to create the series) having only about nine sets to choose from without mods. Lampshaded by Lando when he remarks that Boston (and later Orbisonia) look just like Wall Street, due to them all being the same "city" set. A title comes up once declaring a scene to be on "A Different Street" despite said street looking identical to the one in the previous scene.

    Web Videos 
  • James Rolfe used the same set for Monster Madness 2019 and the Angry Video Game Nerd episode for Halloween of that year.

    Western Animation 
  • A take on this trope appears in the The Simpsons episode "Trilogy of Error". Lisa is mistakenly dropped at West Springfield Elementary, which looks exactly identical to Springfield Elementary. One of the students notes that all schools in the area were drawn from the same floorplan. This is Truth in Television in some areas, especially areas with a lot of schools built at the same time. In some areas of California, you're likely to find that all the elementary schools look exactly the same, minus the color they use on the outside trim of the buildings.
  • In-universe, in Code Lyoko, the Season 3 episode "Temporary Insanity" has Kadic's production of Cyrano de Bergerac reuses the sets from the previous year's play Romeo and Juliet because of a lack of money.
  • Young Justice reuses a few different set layouts from Batman: Under the Red Hood. Specifically, the establishing shot of Gotham City and the warehouse in Downtime and Roy's apartment in Auld Acquaintance and Salvage. Freely admitted by the showrunners if asked — one of them, Brandon Vietti, was the director of Under the Red Hood.
  • In Animaniacs and Freakazoid!, the exterior for Amblin Entertainment is a redecorated version of Acme Looniversity from Tiny Toon Adventures.


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Office Replication Service

"30 Rock" lampshades the fact that they're using the same set for Jack's office in Boston.

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Main / RecycledSet

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