recycled from other stories, with the setting changed with just enough of a gimmick to make it look different. This is not just an audience reaction; advertising for the newer work will usually play up the connection between the earlier work and the newer gimmick.
One of the most common methods of adding a gimmick is to change the setting, which allows the characters to explore the same plots with a slightly different approach, make the story feel more contemporary, or change the genre (moving The Odyssey into space changes it to a Sci-Fi story). Other gimmicks include turning the characters into children or animals. The more "gimmicks" you use when recycling, the less of an imitation the work is in the first place.
This brings up Tropes Are Tools; just because a newer work is based on a premise invented by an older work doesn't make it bad. After all, the point of the gimmick is to find new stories to tell from the original story. Advertising will describe how the newer work is intended to be an imitation as well as the sort of changes that the newer creator took to differentiate their work from the original. This trope almost never applies to a normal sequel, remake, or adaptation; only when a major change is made to the work that is used to sell the newer work as different from the original.
Contrast Better by a Different Name (characters comment on the similarity between works), Follow the Leader (multiple stories imitating the tropes of an earlier story), Recycled IN SPACE! (a game where we describe how Work X is basically Work Y, with a twist!) and X Meets Y (a game where we pretend two different works are the inspiration for a third work). Compare with Whole-Plot Reference, which can overlap. For example, The Flintstones is, by Word of God, The Honeymooners recycled in the Stone Age, but is not a Whole-Plot Reference because Fred isn't literally intended to be Ralph Kramden, only to resemble his mannerisms.
This trope is a Sub-Trope of Recycled Premise and Spiritual Adaptation, as well as a Super-Trope to Setting Update.
- The Big O was advertised on [adult swim] as "Batman: The Animated Series with Humongous Mecha."
- Destiny of the Shrine Maiden was actually based on an older Kaishaku work known as Cross Triangle, but now with giant mecha named after Japanese gods.
- Gankutsuou is based on The Count of Monte Cristo. Duels are fought not just with pistols or swords, but with six-foot long swords wielded by Humongous Mecha.
- Samurai 7 is a retelling of Seven Samurai, but the bandits who terrorize the village are former samurai (called the Nobuseri) who have converted their bodies into Humongous Mecha that the titular samurais' katanas can cut in half.
- Romeo X Juliet is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet are still Star-Crossed Lovers from Feuding Families, but it's now set in a fantasy world, Juliet is a masked vigilante, and the expanded supporting cast is named for characters from William Shakespeare's other works.
- Gundam Build Divers is Sword Art Online but mixed with Gundam Build Fighters
- The Lyrical Nanoha franchise is an oddly gradual version of this. While it started a Magical Girl Warrior spinoff (to Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever), it added more and more mecha elements and Shout Outs over time, culminating in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force where the characters are military officers using Powered Armor.
- Sailor Victory is an OVA follow-up to the Dating Sim Graduation, adding mecha with ninja abilities.
- Ulysses 31 is The Odyssey but in space in the 31th century.
- Dell Comics published infamous adventures of classic monsters Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Werewolf as costumed superheroes
- Marvel 2099 recycles familiar Marvel Comics characters like Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, X-Men stories, in a cyberpunk future. This is especially the case with Punisher 2099, as there is little to distinguish Jake Gallows from Frank Castle aside from the setting, whereas most of the Legacy Characters at least had unique origins to set them apart from their modern-day namesakes.
- Marvel's Mega Morphs was based on a toyline where Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Ghost Rider and Wolverine have Transforming Mecha that mimics their powers.
- There's a comic book adaptation of Moby-Dick in space. The whalers are asteroid miners, the giant squid is a white star named Kraken, Moby Dick is a (possibly sentient?) comet, and the final harpoon is a 10-megaton warhead.
- In the Robin Series, Tim and some of his classmates attend an apparently dreadful showing of "Macbeth on the Beach" in Robinson Park for extra credit. Very little of the play is shown on panel but it includes a bunch of New Jersey college students trying to talk like surfers.
- Gnomeo & Juliet:
- The first film retells Romeo and Juliet with a cast of garden gnomes.
- Its sequel Sherlock Gnomes features Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as garden gnomes alongside Romeo and Juliet, as they are recruited to solve a mystery.
- The Iron Giant is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial if E.T. were a giant robot.
- The Lion King transplants a number of William Shakespeare tales to the African savanna and retells them with a cast of talking animals.
- The Lion King is heavily inspired by Hamlet. Both stories star a princeling (Simba/Hamlet) who returns to his nation after the death of his father (Mufasa/Hamlet Sr.) whose ghost he is haunted by; in the meantime the throne has been taken by an Evil Uncle (Claudius/Scar). Both stories also have a comedic Those Two Guys duo (Timon and Pumbaa/Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). The Lion King ends on a much happier note, however.
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was heavily influenced by Romeo and Juliet, as it has Simba's daughter Kiara have a forbidden romance with the scion of a banished lion tribe, Kovu.
- The Lion King 1 ½ is unabashedly based on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, as it is based around the points of view of the Those Two Guys duo and features much banter between them.
- Bumblebee is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial if E.T. were a giant robot.
- Cracked pointed out that Real Steel is basically Paper Moon with Motion-Capture Mecha.
- All You Need is Kill is Groundhog Day in Powered Armor.
- The Foundation Trilogy: Isaac Asimov was open about his efforts to write a Science Fiction saga that was effectively The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire IN SPACE! Trantor is the capital of Rome, and the primary perspective is from a planet at the outer edges of the empire, watching as they grow to supplant Trantor as the capital of a galactic empire. Several aspects of the collapse are recycled to fit the new setting, such as the Byzantine Empire (Cleon II is Justinian I and Bel Riose is Bellisarius) and the sacking of Rome (Trantor's City Planet is torn apart and the capital is moved to Neotrantor).
- The novel Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, is a modern-day The Divine Comedy (note how it shares a title with the latter's third book). It has a Dead to Begin With, sci-fi Genre Savvy protagonist instead of Dante who tries (unsuccessfully) to explain Hell as Lost Technology or an "Infernoland" created by aliens. His guide isn't Virgil, but Benito Mussolini. Additions to the original include a Hellish version of a Celestial Bureaucracy in which damned souls as well as demons work, new torments for both extreme environmentalists and wanton environment-destroyers, and the theologically questionable revelation that anyone can escape Hell through redemption and sincere effort.
- Stephen King's novel Wolves of the Calla: The Dark Tower V is The Magnificent Seven WITH ROBOTS! And openly admits to this, as the characters begin to realize that they're characters in a Stephen King novel!
- Battle Fever J to the first two entries in the Super Sentai franchise, inspired by the Spider-Man example above. Afterwards it became a standard part of the formula.
- The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Space Vampire" is Dracula... In Space, complete with a wrecked ship with a ship's log that documents the deaths of the crew and a passenger named William Helsing from "New London"
- Red Dwarf was originally pitched by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor to The BBC as Steptoe and Son if it were set in space (as well as being on acid). This is most notable in the general hopelessness of the situation that both sets of characters are in, as well as the bickering relationship between Rimmer and Lister, which is very similar to that of Harold and Albert. They've also compared it to Porridge in space, in that there is something literally preventing the characters leaving, while the only thing trapping the Steptoes is themselves.
- Japanese Spider-Man, when Spider-Man received various tropes that would eventually be absorbed into Super Sentai (specifically Battle Fever J onwards, as stated later). Spider-Man gets his powers and costume from an ancient alien race, and gets a car and a giant robot to go along with them.
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
- The episode "Balance of Terror" is the 1957 WWII submarine movie The Enemy Below IN SPACE! Even the bearing of the unidentified initial contact and the captain's maneuvering orders to the helm are copied nearly verbatim. The Romulan ship is cramped and has lots of piping and conduits in all background scenes. The Enterprise's phasers act like depth charges, and at one point the Enterprise and the Romulan ship both go to silent running, fearing to talk loudly lest the other vessel hear them.
- The Romulans in this episode were The Roman Empire IN SPACE!, as exemplified by Mark Lenard's dignified Centurion character. They didn't stay that way, though. Compare the Romulans in the Star Trek reboot movie.
- The episode "Elaan of Troyius" is The Taming of the Shrew IN SPACE! There are also some allusion to the The Trojan War, inverted. The Arranged Marriage of princess Elaan from planet Elas with the ruler of planet Troyius is supposed to stop a war between their respective world.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- The much-maligned episode "Meridian" was, as admitted by producer Ira Steven Behr, Brigadoon in space. Recalling this idea at a later date, Behr admitted: "I am a moron."
- The original concept for Deep Space Nine (before they shifted the location from a Federation colony planet to a space station after J. Michael Straczynski pitched Babylon 5 to Paramount) would have been Star Trek ON LAND!
- The episode "Duet" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a Recycled IN SPACE! take on the play The Man in the Glass Booth. The main difference is that the latter is about Nazis and their victims, while the former centers on the Cardassians, who are A Nazi by Any Other Name.
- Brandon Tartikoff originally pitched Deep Space Nine itself as The Rifleman in space"
- The episode "Explorers", in which Sisko builds a copy of an ancient Bajoran solar-sail spaceship and proves it could travel as far as Cardassia, is essentially The Voyage of the Kon-Tiki in space.
- In the episode "Melora", Jadzia Dax lampshades that Melora Pazlar's storyline bears some similarity to The Little Mermaid in space.
- White Dwarf is Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard in a science-fiction setting; with an added subplot adding elements of political intrigue and exploration of prejudice and tolerance.
- The pinball conversion kit Gamatron takes Stern Electronics' Flight 2000 playfield and repurposes it into a game about a Humongous Mecha attack.
- The "Warbot" table of Silverball is a straight port of "Excalibur" from Epic Pinball, but with robots added.
- Team America: World Police are the Thunderbirds from Eagleland! Word of God says that it was specifically inspired by their disappointment that the actual film adaption didn't use puppets like the show; for what it's worth, the Thunderbirds creator says they got the feel of the show better, except for the vulgarity.
- BattleTech, the Trope Codifier for the Western Mecha genre, is essentially medieval Europe with Humongous Mecha-piloting knights in space. Despite two of the Great Houses being mostly Asian. The Star League is the Roman Empire, the Successor States are the assorted kingdoms of Western Europe (the Federated Commonwealth may qualify as the HRE), CommStar has influence similar to the Roman Catholic Church, and the Clans are the Hordes from the East.
- Played for Laughs with Catalyst Labs' BattleRun: Best Ever, which was Battletech combined with Shadowrun for an April Fool's Joke and therefore "Like Shadowrun but with Mecha added".
- DragonMech is Dungeons & Dragons only with Steampunk mecha.
- The CAMELOT Trigger setting for Fate Core is "Arthurian Legend, except in mech suits fighting evil robots in space."
- The wargame Gear Krieg is World War II with Dieselpunk mecha (called "walkers").
- Invoked and justified in Chris Perrins' Mecha. The core rulebook comes with three stock settings and the explanation that GMs should create theirs by watching things other than mecha anime, to make it more interesting. Special Research School takes a significant amount from American Graffiti while Godblind comes from Dark City.
- BB Senshi Sangokuden is an SD Gundam toyline that uses classic Gundam designs, but the storyline and characters are based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
- Mecha Knights Nightmare is a mix of Armored Core and Left 4 Dead.
- Star Fox Adventures became The Legend of Zelda IN SPACE! (it even had the same you-just-solved-a-puzzle music) when Nintendo replaced the setting with Star Fox characters and also made it a game that didn't please the fans of the series at all. Before that, it was more like Zelda WITH FURRIES!, something Rare has done quite a few times with more success (Mario 64-> Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Kart -> Diddy Kong Racing, not to mention the older Donkey Kong games).
- Parodied in Homestar Runner with Limozeen: But they're in space! which, as you can guess, was about a Fake Band adventuring around space in their tour bus/spaceship. It was cancelled during the airing of its pilot episode.
Strong Sad: But why are they in space? There's no reason for them to be in space!
Strong Bad: On the contrary, my dear Fatson. There is every reason for them to be in space!
- Stage-Select subcomic Here is a Question discussed this for one strip, suggesting the phenomenon of this trope in the 1960s was due to the excitement of the space race. Then the money-grubbing author decides to hop on the bandwagon and reformatted the comic into — you guessed it — Here is a Question◊ in space. A mild Rage Against the Author later,◊ the comic returned to normal.
- Starslip is an art museum strip in space, and its characters know it. They drink "space grog," try not to get "behind space-schedule," and shout "GOOD SPACE HEAVENS!" when surprised.
- TRU-Life Adventures features a couple of brief looks at an alternate timeline where the cast works on a spaceship in space.
- The 2011 reboot of ThunderCats had mechs as part of the Lost Technology the Big Bad was buried with.
- Mecha Builders is a Sesame Street spin-off starring mecha versions of Elmo, Abby, and Cookie Monster.
- An Australian exam didn't pay attention to the illustrations it was using, leading to an alternate October Revolution where the Russian proletariat had heavy mech support to storm the Winter Palace.