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Replacement Sibling

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Sometimes when a parent loses a child, they create or adopt a new one to take the dead one's place. But why waste the time and effort on that if there's an existing sibling to fill the role? Sure, it won't be a perfect fit, as the other kid has had at least a few years to develop an identity of their own, but they probably look kind of like their sibling (even if they're of the opposite gender), and they're likely to go along with it just to keep their parent(s) happy. Or maybe they don't have a choice in the matter because the parent's just crazy enough that they can't be convinced that the living child isn't the dead one. Though sometimes the child will play along only at home, and continue to be himself at school or work or what have you.

If the living sibling takes on the role of the dead one willingly, it's My Sibling Will Live Through Me.

Sometimes this happens when the first child is still alive, but has gone away.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayato Naoi of Angel Beats! had an older twin brother who was a genius at the family trade, pottery, while Naoi's own skills were pretty average, making Naoi decidedly The Unfavorite. When the brother dies, their father forces Naoi to pretend to be him.
  • Ken from Digimon Adventure 02. After his brother Osamu dies in an accident, Ken starts trying to be more like him to please his parents. Thanks to the Seed of Darkness inside him, he instantly became a Child Prodigy like his brother and the parents treated him like they treated him Osamu. It isn't until Ken returns from the Digital World after three months that his parents realize the mistake they made and start to love him as he is, not as a replacement.
  • Michel in Glass Fleet combines it with Sweet Polly Oliver - she's the real Michel's younger sister, taking his place following his death in order to continue his cause.
  • In Kore wa Koi no Hanashi, Haruka's mother began to pretend that Haruka is her deceased brother Kazuma. It doesn't end well when Haruka doesn't "play along".
  • Ringo Oginome's character arc in Penguindrum is based around this, and her complex over her Dead Older Sister Momoka, who died the day she was born. Notably, Ringo's parents didn't want Ringo to do this, but she became convinced that it was the only way to keep their family together.
  • This occurs in Secret Plot Deep, where a boy's parents took his twin sister's death so hard that they've become convinced that he was the one who died instead, forcing him to impersonate his dead sister at home (and change into a girl's school uniform before leaving school). Double Standard Rape: Female on Male ensues, oddly enough.
  • Toyed with in Ten Yorimo Hoshi Yorimo. The Narumiya family adopted a girl named Rei to fill in the void after the death of their son Shou in a fire... but in reality, Rei is Shou himself, who survived the incident but had to go as a girl for years to avert the persons who wanted him dead.

    Comic Books 
  • Cheshire, back when she was still a member of Secret Six, conceived a child with Catman for the sole purpose of replacing her daughter Lian Harper, as she was planning to betray the team but was being threatened by the team's benefactor with the death of her daughter Lian.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • David Keith's character in An Officer and a Gentleman doesn't want to be a Navy pilot, but feels obligated to follow in his late brother's footsteps.
  • Used in the slasher film Sleepaway Camp. Angela turns out to be the thought-to-be-dead Peter.
  • Veronica Mars: Neptune County Sheriff Dan Lamb (played by Jerry O'Connell), big brother of the late Don Lamb. He's basically the latter done right: Rob Thomas always envisioned Don Lamb as an irredeemably venal stooge for the well-off, but several sympathetic moments (and no doubt his looks) throughout the show led to Don acquiring a surprisingly large fanbase. Dan Lamb plays the part much straighter in The Film of the Series.

  • The book East: Rose is born to replace her elder sister.
  • Empire from the Ashes: After Sean and Harriet are believed to be assassinated onboard Imperial Terra, Colin and Jiltanith need to also secure the succession of the empire by having more children.
  • Flora Segunda in Ysabel Wilce's Flora trilogy.
  • In Honor Harrington, her parents believe her dead and conceive to, amongst other things, secure the succession of Honor's Steading.
  • My Sweet Audrina appears to be this at first, but it turns out the titular character is the First Audrina, who was raped and underwent electroshock therapy in order to erase the event from her memories. After that, her parents made up the story about the First Audrina.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed (1998): Paige, the half sister of the Halliwell sisters, replaces Prue after her death.
  • On Downton Abbey cousin Rose comes to live with the Crawley family after Lady Sybil dies. While she isn't officially adopted, Rose more or less becomes another daughter, replacing Sybil as the youngest sibling.
  • In La Femme Nikita, when Seymour Birkoff dies, he is soon replaced by his twin brother Jason, with a completely different personality. Yes, we had met Jason before, so it's less of an Ass Pull than it sounds.
  • An episode of the HBO series In Treatment has an older man revealing that when he was a child his parents decided that he should replace his older brother after the latter died in an accident.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Locum", the detectives investigate a couple who are forcing their foster daughter to serve as a replacement for their long-missing biological daughter.
  • The Olsons on Little House on the Prairie adopted Nancy after Nellie left Walnut Grove.
  • In My Family after Abi moves out, Susan tries to make Michael the new daughter. Much to his annoyance.


    Visual Novels 
  • Minagi in AIR takes on the role of her stillborn sister Michiru, to the point that her own mother forgets Minagi even existed and calls her Michiru.


    Western Animation 
  • This is how Kenny is brought back from the dead as seen in one episode of South Park.

    Real Life 
  • Allegedly: JFK. (His older brother Joe was killed in an accident.) At the very least, he replaced Joe in their father's quite open desire for one of his sons to become President of the United States. (Though all 4 Kennedy brothers had such political ambitions in their own right.)
  • Truth in Television. Some cultures even believe that a new child born shortly after the death of an older one is the child, or at least God's way of saying: "Sorry I had to take your kid away. Have a Replacement Goldfish!"
  • John and Reve Walsh, parents of murder victim Adam Walsh (who became the namesake for Code Adam), had a daughter named Meghan a year after his murder. In addition, they even had two more children named Callahan (b.1987) and Hayden (b.1994).


Video Example(s):


Ken confronts his past

Ken remembers how he caused his Digimon partner's death, wished for his brother's death, and all the Digimon he harmed as the Digimon Emperor.

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Example of:

Main / TheyDiedBecauseOfYou

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