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Hmmmmm... Sensing a trend here, August. From L-R 

"Big Bad Pete, Pete Pan, Small Pete, Petetronic. This place has got lotsa me!"
Big Bad Pete, Epic Mickey

Sometimes, comic artists are famous (or, more likely, infamous) for having very little differentiation among their characters.

Excellent artists, though, can create a vast array of physiques and faces for characters, thus making them easily distinguishable from each other; these artists are masters of character design, or so it seems...

It's only until you get to the artist's collected works that you realize that he is halfway cheating — using some of the same characters over and over again, in different works, as though they were "actors" playing "roles."

This doesn't always detract from an artist's work, however, as this is often done purposefully when one character in a story plays a similar role as they did in an earlier one; in fact, knowing that this is the artist's style can greatly help the audience identify The Hero, The Big Bad, and everyone in-between by their "actor." It also offers the potential to have an "actor" Play Against Type.


Such troupes are what are known as "Star Systems": a collection of Animated Actors who play different "roles" in different "productions," just as Real Life actors would. In fact, this used to be the way it worked in Hollywood; actors would be signed to a studio, not a production, and would appear in production after production with the studio's other stars. Taken far enough, this might be a Virtual Celebrity.

Note that this trope falls much more towards the Cast of Snowflakes end of the character design spectrum, trying to shy away from Only Six Faces. While a body of works of a particular artist may have reused designs over the course of several works, each individual work tends to be a Cast of Snowflakes; conversely, multiple works of an artist featuring characters who all look alike simply reinforces the notion of Only Six Faces.


Compare Universal-Adaptor Cast, which is much more explicit that these are the same characters in a different setting.


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  • One of the Protegent commercials features Proto mentioning the Protegent software's data recovery features to a man whose computer has crashed. The latter character uses the exact same design as the former, but with a mustache and an orange-colored work suit.
    • Proto himself is rather infamous for having the exact same design as Wyatt from Super Why!, but with an orange outfit and slightly lighter skin. See for yourself.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The former Trope Namer here is taken from the Star System, the name given to the collection of characters who features prominently throughout the career of Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka actually kept a list of how much money the actors in his "troupe" were paid for each "performance." He would periodically give them "raises" or "pay cuts" based on their popularity with fans. It was his whimsical way of keeping track of what characters his readers liked. His re-used characters include:
    • Shunsaku Ban. Featured as a detective in Metropolis, a teacher in Astro Boy, and just about everything else in between. Noticeable for his long, bushy moustache; an early dub of Astro Boy gave him the name "Mr. Mustachio", and he retained it as a nickname when some of the comics were translated to English (since it's fairly close in meaning to his Japanese nickname, Hige Oyaji). Ban is probably Tezuka's most recurring star, save for Gourdski, appearing in nearly all his works, from as early as Metropolis, to as late as Buddha.
      • Tezuka fan Naoki Urasawa used the Shunsaku Ban design, modified to his own style, for Dr. Reichwein of Monster. And again in Pluto.
    • Acetylene Lamp. Short, stocky bald guy with a pencil moustache and a dent in the back of his head. Usually plays a cowardly, two-faced con man and other dishonest types; Tezuka frequently draws a lit candle sitting in the dent.
    • Duke Red. Noticeable for his big hooked nose; often appeared as a villain.
    • Hamm Egg. Another recurring villain; medium height and gangly, with a thin, curled moustache. Probably most infamous as the hunter who orphaned Kimba the White Lion.
    • Rock Holmes. A "tough guy" character with good looks and shiny black hair; started out as an upstanding heroic lead, but in Tezuka's later works, he is usually a particularly cruel villain, providing the equivalent of an actor reinventing his persona. In Black Jack, he can be either villainous, neutral or heroic depending on the story.
    • Gourdski / Patch-Gourd. Tezuka's "trademark", and a gag-item/character; a small, pig-like, patched-together gourd. Characters often turn into this thing when shocked or confused as a form of face-faulting.
    • Spider - Like the previous one, it's a doodley character used for non sequitur gags. He always says the odd expression "omukaedegonsu", which is localized as "At yer service". Both him and Patch-Gourd are based on drawings Tezuka's siblings did as kids.
    • Professor Ochanomizu. A large-nosed, heavy-set professor, dubbed Professor Elephun in an early dub of Astro Boy, Prof. Ochanomizu is almost always portrayed as a learned, wise man.
    • Hosuke Sharaku. A small bald kid with a bandage on his forehead. Originally from The Three-Eyed One. Usually a good guy (when with his bandage).
    • Saruta - Looks like Ochanomizu, but differs in that his nose is usually covered with acne scars, and he sports a beard.
    • Notarin. Bears a vague resemblance to Shunsaku Ban, mostly thanks to his short but extremely bushy facial hair. Where Shunsaku is balding, Notarin is completely bald; Notarin is also fatter, shorter, and has beadier eyes. Frequently plays an Obstructive Bureaucrat.
    • Tawashi - A very tall, very thin man with a long nose and a mustache that looks like the bristles of a broom. Probably best known as a detective or police chief.
    • Atom. Astro Boy himself appears in different roles in a couple of Tezuka's works. Most notably, he makes a cameo in one series as little boy who ends up getting stabbed. Tezuka wanted to shock readers by presenting Astro as a human instead of a robot in this story and having him bleed to death; the response from readers was tremendous, and the story remains controversial.
    • Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka often drew a caricature of himself into his stories: a thin man with thick glasses and a bulbous nose, wearing a beret and usually smoking a cigarette. When he wasn't representing the author and speaking directly to readers, he would play a down-on-his-luck artist or similarly pathetic figure. (One memorable appearance depicts him in a jacket with the words "What am I doing here??" written in Japanese on the back.)
    • The only real exception: When Black Jack appears, it is almost always as himself.
  • Hayao Miyazaki also has accumulated a fairly large number of recurring castmembers, though, unlike Tezuka, they have no set names (at least, none known to the public). Some of the most notable include:
    • Lana - The female lead in nearly all of Miyazaki's works; she stars (via various "ages") as Nausicaa, Kiki, San, Sheeta, Satsuki, and Sophie, as well as nearly every major female role in anything else Miyazaki has done.
    • Conan - Miyazaki's 2nd most prominent character features as the male lead in many of Miyazaki's films, and is almost always the romantic interest to the female lead. He has played (again, through various physical ages): Asbel, Pazu, Ashitaka, Howl, Tombo, Haku; it should be noted that his face is often given more attention to the "harshness" or "softness" of its appearance than Lana's, so as to befit his current character more.
    • Dola - Introduced in Castle in the Sky, she has appeared over the years as bit characters, but recently starred as Old Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle.
    • Kamaji - Introduced to film-watchers as the old engineer of Dola's ship in Castle in the Sky, as well as Dola's husband, he was given a name in his role in Spirited Away. He is recognizable for his sunglasses and extremely large mustache (some people think he inspired Dr. Robotnik/Eggman). An earlier version of the character, packing on the pounds (and so even more closely resembling Dr. Robotnik/Eggman), played the role of the villain in "Albatross: Wings of Death".
    • Mei - Miyazaki's end-all-be-all toddler girl. It's somewhat insinuated visually that Sen of Spirited Away is a much older Mei, rather than a very young Lana. Alternatively, she's a very young Ursula. She's perhaps best known for her starring turn as the title character in Ponyo.
    • Yubaba - A relative newcomer to the Miyazaki gallery, she seems to always be represented as a witch with an extremely large head. She also appeared in Howl's Moving Castle.
    • Charles - A fairly regular comic-relief character; most notably appeared as one of the Ironworks' men in Princess Mononoke, aside from his supporting role in Castle in the Sky.
    • Shougun Mouro/General - A balding/bald general, featured in Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Princess Mononoke, as well as cameo parts in several other works involving either police or the military.
    • Lepka / Count Cagliostro / Muska, the square-jawed megalomaniac Big Bad.
    • Soot Spirits - Introduced in My Neighbor Totoro, but have also been featured in other Miyazaki works, most notably Spirited Away.
    • The Robots - First appeared in the Miyazaki-directed Lupin III episode 'Aloha Lupin' as an Expy of the robots from "The Mechanical Monsters", but later reappeared as the Laputan robots in Castle in the Sky.
  • Although criticized heavily for a distinct lack of differentiated female character designs, Leiji Matsumoto has nevertheless made his own System, small though it may be. Major players are:
    • Harlock - Matsumoto's most notable and famous character, most of Matsumoto's male leads bear a striking resemblance to Harlock, especially his trademark hairstyle.
    • Emeraldas/Maetel- Visually, they stand as the archetype for nearly... scratch that - every one of Matsumoto's female actresses, period. Scenes involving more than three of Matsumoto's females often leads to insane confusion, at no fault to Emeraldas and/or Maetel themselves. Some installments go as far as to declare them (twin) sisters.
    • Analyzer/ IQ-9 - Matsumoto's standard Robot Buddy design. He swiftly suffered Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in Captain Harlock, but managed to reappear in another "role" in Cosmo Warrior Zero.
    • Tadashi Daiba also makes frequent appearances, usually as a young, upstart young man who grows and matures over the course of the series.
  • Hiroyuki Takei of Shaman King directly referenced this trope when the U.S. Shonen Jump interviewed him and asked him about Anna Kyouyama's appearances in Shaman King, Butsu Zone and Itako no Anna.
  • Akira Toriyama has designed so many characters that he tends to forget what he's done and hasn't done, and thus will occasionally create the same character multiple times. The most obvious examples: Crono and Lucca are Goku and Bulma. A more obscure, but even more clear example is the star of his children's book "Toccio the Angel", who happens to look almost identical to Majin Buu.
    • A particularly notable instance would be Tsun Tsukutsun from Doctor Slump and Yamcha from the original Dragon Ball, with Yamcha looking identical to Tsukutsun after having a haircut. In Battle of Gods, Yamcha even uses Tsun's design from the Dr. Slump remake, with same clothes, hair and all. Literally the only difference was Yamcha's scar.
    • Perhaps the most literal example of this is with Goku and his relatives in Dragon Ball Z. Goku's face and haircut has been used for his father Bardock, his son Goten (who shares an identical design with Kid Goku, just with long sleeves), the Tree of Might movie villain Turless, and a technicality with Goku Black of Dragon Ball Super (who is an alternate timeline Goku who'd been bodyjacked). Even a young Gohan counts when training in the wilderness thanks to wearing gi very similar to his father's.
    • Comparing Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger character designs reveals many similar "archetypes" reminiscent of Android 18, Bulma, Gohan, Pan, Trunks, the Nameks, etc. There are similar designs for characters who are fat or short and have a thick chin or mustache, heroes who wear goggles or a headband, heroes with long spiky hair, young male or female heroes, aliens, dragons, devil characters. The hero of Kenshin Dragon Quest doesn't look too different from his ancestor Roto. The heroes of Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VIII look similar (and both look very much like Teen/Adult Gohannote ). There are about four or five types of faces for female characters.
    • Some of the members of the Frieza Force have these kinds of designs:
      • The Medical Doctor is based off of Malaka, who appears in Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku. A third character that resembles them both appears when Frieza is rebuilt into a Cyborg after his fight with Goku. They all act as doctors (tending to Bardock's injuries and being part of the team that rebuilds Frieza).
      • The soldier Orlen seems to be of the same race as Appule as he looks exactly like him, except he is yellow with large fangs, no spots on his body, and red eyes.
      • Namole. A soldier who resembles Namole previously appeared on Planet Frieza 79, where Vegeta landed after his defeat on Earth for recovery, only this one has darker hair. Another soldier who resembles Namole appears briefly after Namole is killed, except his hair is blue-green, not orange.
    • The school interviewer from Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan is just Jimmy Firecracker from the Cell arc with brown hair.
    • Commander Red's design in Dragon Ball: The Path to Power is based after Mr. Borbonne from the Dragon Ball Z episode "A Girl Named Lime", which is funny as both characters in the original timeline are short and hired Tao to deal with a Saiyan.
  • Kinoko Nasu seems to have this really nasty habit of re-using not only character designs (which's done by Takeuchi Takashi, Nasu's friend and the co-founder of Type-Moon), but also backstories and roles. His first project was The Garden of Sinners, and later, when he made Tsukihime and Fate/stay night, he re-used a lot of character modelings, backstories, personalities, and had his characters go through similar events. The Tsukihime and Garden of Sinners protagonists having the Death Line eyes, a villain infatuated with the primary girl character, a girl who suffers sexual abuse and makes her assailants pay for it, the list goes on and on. He did this, (albeit to a very lesser extent) while making Canaan as well.
  • Hellsing's manga-ka Kouta Hirano reused some of the character designs when making his next project Drifters. There's even a motivation poster about it.
    • And then there's the fact that Hellsing's characters were already reused versions of characters from short hentai manga that he made before he started working on the series.
  • Masami Kurumada, creator of B't X, Saint Seiya, and a number of series not as well-known in the states usually has a few key designs as well, mainly from recycling characters from his first work, Ring ni Kakero. He subverted this in Saint Seiya, however, when Unicorn Jabu was given a design similar to the hero's rival in Ring ni Kakero, only for him to play a minimal role in the actual series.
    • He also likes to play around with personality. Take Shun, The Fettered, emotional, Reluctant Warrior of Saint Seiya, and compare him with the previous character to use the design, Fuma no Kojiro 's Kirikaze - a cold, restrained ninja who never hesitated to kill when called to.
  • Naoki Urasawa plays with this, by casting the pacifist, good-with-children Epsilon in Pluto with his Johan design from Monster. There's also the nameless killer of Kenji's sister's fiancee in 20th Century Boys who resembles Johan with brown hair.
    • Shogun looks like Martin with longer hair.
    • There's also the retroactive case of Dr. Reichwein of Monster. Being a Tezuka fan, Urasawa decided to pay homage to Shunsaku Ban with the psychologist's character design. Of course, then Pluto (and therefore Shunsaku) comes along...
    • Kevin Yamagata resembles Sahad who is a dead ringer for Karl Neumann.
    • Dr Abullah is the persian cousin of God.
    • Heckel from Monster shows up in a minor role in 20th Century Boys.
    • Nina from Monster and Sahad from Pluto have the same professor.
    • Nina looks strikingly similar to Kanna herself.
  • Go Nagai also does this, which probably helps when you've made hundreds of manga.
    • Abashiri Daemon - originally from Abashiri Ikka, also appears in Cutey Honey and UFO Robot Grendizer.
    • You may see similarities between many of his protagonists. For example, Mondo from Guriella High looks almost exactly like Akira Fudou.
  • Several characters from the works of Masami Obari. Examples include Gowcaizer, Hishizaki Shaia and Son Karin from Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer and Tachibana Mizuki from Gravion, all of whom show up in Angel Blade.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji is Nadia from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, except with short hair, Akagi is Electra with her hair down, and Fuyutsuki is Lord Gargoyle. Oh, and Kensuke is basically a brown-haired Jean.
  • In Madowanai Hoshi, one of the two protagonist is literally just Hazuki Oikawa from Moyashimon, name and all. Kei Yuuki's design is also lifted to use for the anthropomorphized form of Pluto.
  • In Lifeguard, many of the same 'characters' appear as in Hayate the Combat Butler. This is also likely to be the case with the original story of Hinagiku and Yukiji's backstory, which was originally planned to be the story Hayate became.
  • Some of the female protagonists from Junji Ito stories look almost identical, like Remina and Kaori.
  • Adachi Mitsuru has created numerous unrelated short stories since 1978 featuring a small repertory company of a dozen or so characters. Originally published as standalone stories in various manga magazines they have since been compiled into a four volume collection Short Program.
  • The Pokémon anime actually did this with crowd shots.
  • Detective Conan: Shinichi's design itself was originally an example of this, being a reuse of Kaito's design, but Canon Welding retroactively turned each into the other's Identical Stranger instead.
  • In Psycho-Pass, Akira Amano, known for her Reborn! manga, reused the designs of her characters from her manga for the characters in the anime.
    • Akane is Yuni.
    • Kogami is Hibari.
    • Makishima is Mukuro.
  • Rumiko Takahashi has a general style for her characters, but they are generally easily differentiated. That is, however, until you compare two of her works side-by-side. Only certain characters, such as Ataru Moroboshi and Genma Saotome and Soun Tendou really stand out among the recurring casts.
    • Ranko / Female Ranma is Mamiya Sakura.
    • Ryunosuke is Ranma, fitting as her character concept was the prototype for Ranma's.
    • Ryouga is Inuyasha is Rinne.
    • Takahashi started Maison Ikkoku two years after Urusei Yatsura and ran both concurrently for 7 years. Her style was significantly refined during this period, and before long the designs in both series started to... converge. Kentaro (MI), Ataru (UY) and Godai (MI) are the same man at grade school, high school and college ages respectively. Sakura (UY) is Kyoko(MI) but a bit more sexy. Akemi (MI) is an older Ran (UY). Ibuki (MI) is Shinobu (UY) added one hair tie or two. Asuka (UY) gets het starry pupils replaced and becomes Asuna (MI)...
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is widely lauded as a masterpiece, both for story but also for the amazing variety of character designs, to the point that dozens of characters wearing identical outfits are easily recognizable at a glance. Compare FMA to Silver Spoon, however, and you see that even Arakawa reuses character designs (though Silver Spoon uses mostly bit and supporting characters from FMA for the main cast, rather than reusing Ed, Winry, Mustang, and Hawkeye).
    • And then she did the new adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan. It can be jarring how much her Arslan looks like Edward, particularly considering their drastically different personalities.
  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi uses a star system as well, the most notable star is a character who is all over his short stories and later played Hiroshi in his autobiography A Drifting Life.
  • Takashi Yanase often did this with some of characters from both Anpanman and Mighty Cat Masked Niyandar. Some of these include:
    • Ginko was based after Dokinchan, which was then carried over to Shiratama-san. (Which is Hilarious in Hindsight as Dokinchan has a crush on the latter.)
  • Before it was scrapped, Ken Akamatsu was hired to draw a manga of Threads of Fate. A number of its character designs can be seen transmigrated to his manga Neigma Magister Negi Magi. Most obvious are Negi having elements of Rue, and Anya being a dead ringer for Princess Mint. In UQ Holder!, Jinbei Shishido looked so incredibly like Negi Springfield that many fans assumed that it was him.
  • In Zatch Bell!, Dufaux, the bookreader of Zeon, is an Expy of an unused design of Kiyomaro Takamine. Similarly, Ted bears a strong resemblance to one of the original designs of Gash.
  • Jinsei Kataoka, the artist of Deadman Wonderland, has reused Toto's design at least twice: Amano from Livingstone looks like him with blond hair, blue eyes, and a different outfit; the main character of Kamisama Permanent takes it a step further by adding glasses and a star on his cheek along with the palette swap and outfit change, but is still recognizably the same design.
  • Nitori from Wandering Son looks near identical to the protagonist of the mangaka's earlier manga, Inhabitants of the Threshold. You probably won't notice at first due to the very different art styles, but she lampshaded it when she drew them in the first omake of Wandering Son.
  • Several of the main characters of Bakuman。 resemble ones from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata previous series, Death Note. Moritaka resembles Near and L, Takagi and Nanamine resemble Light, Kosugi resembles Mikami, Miho resembles Misa and Aiko resembles Kiyomi Takada. Also Niizuma's character of Crow shares some visual traits with Ryuk.
  • Boichi from Sun-Ken Rock has three main actors, Kitano Ken, Tae Seo and the same actress for every girl, this becomes particularly hilarious when you compare Ken to Senkuu. And even more hilarious when you compare Ken to Vash in the Lost Plant one-shot, whom Ken is an Expy. Check the other Boichi works and you'll see even more examples.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru's character design (minus the horns) is based off of Fuyu from Cool-Kyou Shinsha's previous one-shot, RaButa, right down to their choice of dress. This gets lampshaded in chapter 3 when she's shown using the exact same "Finish Quickly Pose" that Fuyu performed to speed up the washing machine. In turn, Elma's design was recycled as Sana in ChiChi ChiChi. In a more extreme example, everyone in My Girlfriend Without Wasabi resembles characters from Peach Boy Riverside due to them all being Reincarnations.
  • Masuda Eiji is pretty fond of doing this, but it's particularly evident in Shuukan Shounen Hachi: there are a few familiar faces, from My Monster Secret − an Akane lookalike, Miké who is basically a male Nagisa and Hachi who looks like a male Mikan − and from Sakura Discord − Saru looks like Kousuke's baseball senpai and the teacher is pretty much the same as in that series. Then there's Inohara Ran, who looks like a fusion between Nomiya (from SD), Youko and Shiho (from Jitsu wa).
  • Hiro Mashima, who typically leans into Only Six Faces, has a tendency to directly reuse older characters with the same or similar names across his major works—Rave Master, Fairy Tail, and EDENS ZERO—but rarely with the same backgrounds and level of importance.
    • Plue/Nikora, a trembling, ball-headed "dog" with a carrot-like nose, is a recurring Series Mascot who predates all of Mashima's works as a doodle he drew in school. He/she has appeared in more Mashima works than any other to date, with a multitude of different roles: in Magician, Mashima's debut one-shot, Plue is a regular female dog whose bizarre appearance is the result of a super serum; in Rave Master, he is a main character who guides Haru on his quest to find the Rave Stones; in Fairy Tail, he's part of a breed of Celestial Spirit called Nikora who Lucy keeps a seldom-seen Team Pet; and in Edens Zero, Nikora is a Servant Race of aliens seen in a single chapter.
    • Sieg Hart from Rave Master is the second most prominent case behind Plue, usually playing a noble Villain in a White Suit with extremist ideas, or who otherwise opposes the heroes before becoming an ally. In Fairy Tail, he's actually two separate characters: Jellal, a Brainwashed and Crazy Fallen Hero who later becomes a heroic vigilante, and is introduced under the alias "Siegrain"; and Mystogan, Jellal's Mirror Self from Edolas. In Edens Zero, he's an Inspector Javert-type Space Police officer named Justice.
    • Bis, an Elite Mook from Rave Master, appears in the Fairy Tail manga as a nameless Mook who Panther Lily steals his Musica Sword from. The Musica Sword is also named after the Rave character Musica, who plays a major role in the story arc where Bis appears.
    • Happy, a talking blue cat, is one of the Series Mascots of both Fairy Tail and Edens Zero. However, both series give him completely different backgrounds: in the former, he's a magical winged cat from another dimension, while in the latter, he's an alien who was killed and reborn as an android.
    • Erza Scarlet, one of Fairy Tail/s main characters, resurfaces in Edens Zero as a supporting character named Elsie Crimson. Appearances aside, however, their personalities are polar opposites: Erza is a Knight in Shining Armor with a strong case of Good Is Not Soft, while Elsie is an Ambiguously Evil Space Pirate and Lovable Rogue. Both also have a strong relationship to Jellal and Justice, respectively, both of whom were inspired by Sieg Hart from Rave Master.
    • Sisters Mirajane and Lisanna from Fairy Tail make a minor appearance in Edens Zero among a group of girls Rebecca is kidnapped with. The two also end up wearing a demon and cat costume, respectively, reflecting the sisters' powers to transform into those creatures in Fairy Tail.
    • Tanchimo, the giant rabbit/emu hybrid creature—er, "horse"—from Rave Master, has a role in Edens Zero as an MMORPG character whose backstory matches Tanchimo's role as the Rave Warriors' steed, and whose name is made out to be a shortened form of "Turn-to-Timonium".
    • Angel/Sorano from Fairy Tail appears as an in-universe anime character in Edens Zero called "Angela".
  • The Brave Series frequently featured reused robot designs from Transformers, owing to the fact that the toys from both franchises were produced by the same company.
  • The character Zycrow from Aqua Knight also appears in Battle Angel Alita as Tzykrow.
  • Gen Urobuchi has stated in interviews that he wants to do a Star System of his own. His first foray into it, however, was not with a character, per se, but with an item. The evil sentient sword Qisha Tianling that Luo Zhenjie / Zhenhua wielded in Chaos Dragon was, years later, seen as a similar sword named Nanasatsu Tenryou (Which is Qisha Tianling in Japanese) in Thunderbolt Fantasy's second season.
  • Inspector Hiraga from Candy & Cigarettes is a dead ringer to Doctor Coppelius from Coppelion sans the glasses.

    Comic Books 
  • Tony Harris makes extensive use of photo-referencing in his artwork. The difference between him and Greg Land, another artist who's well known for referencing works without permission is that Harris uses paid models and bases his work off the photos instead of tracing, and gives proper credit when he does use them. By paying the models for their time and taking photos himself (or paying a photographer either to take the photos or for use of photos already taken), he legally has access to those likenesses to use for reference. Greg Land's use of images from magazines and the internet, without permission of the photographers who took the pictures, leaves him wide open for charges of copyright infringement if one of those photographers wished to press the issue.
  • By the same token, Alex Ross. The problem arises when you realize Mitchell Hundred looks kinda like Starman...
  • Robert Crumb does this a lot, openly and without irony. Sometimes this is highlighted on the opening page of a strip, with names and thumbnail portraits of the characters appearing. It can be a little jarring when more "cartoony" characters (e.g., dots for eyes, Cheeky Mouth) appear in their original styles alongside more "realistic" ones.
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe:
    • European Mickey Mouse comics do this in-Universe. Several comics are about Goofy telling Mickey about his draft for his new novel (Goofy is an amateur writer in those comics), in which the main character always looks like Goofy, his sidekick or occasional Decoy Protagonist always looks like Mickey, and if there is going to be a villain, he will look like Pete.
    • They also play this trope straight, using the same method the old cartoon shorts do of putting Mickey, Donald, and Goofy (and their supporting casts) in different roles. Some of these roles are recurring, resulting in multiple comic universes, where Mickey might play a wizard in a fantasy world, a hard-boiled noir detective, or a Tintin-like modern day adventurer.
    • Lampshaded in the detective stories, which sometimes began with Mickey sitting down in a movie theater to watch himself play a private eye.
  • Jason Shiga has a handful of different characters that appear across his various works. For a particularly odd example, the main character and his love interest in Empire State appear in his most recent work, Demon as a father and daughter (sort of. It's complicated).

    Comic Strips 
  • Gary Larson did this in The Far Side. Lampshaded in one comic, where he goes over all of his "actors", including the cow, the nerdy kid, and the woman with glasses and a beehive hairdo. Note that while they all appear in a single work, they're usually seen in different roles.

    Eastern Animation 
  • Gustav (or Gustavus) from the series of the same name reappears as Uncle Oscar in the Hungarian cartoon Mézga család in brief speaking roles, voiced by the same actor who had supplied his grunts in the original shorts. The only differences between them apart from the names are Oscar's bushy beard and upbeat demeanor.
  • Attila Dargay from Pannonia Film Studio reused some of his character designs for Lúdas Matyi in his later movies. Jónás, the protagonist of Treasure of Swamp Castle looks like a twin of Matyi himself, whereas the geese in Vuk the Little Fox look nearly identical to Matyi's goose sidekick.

    Films — Animated 

  • Terry Pratchett tends to use his Discworld version of Death in his other books; there's subtle variations depending on the culture being represented, but Death will always have his characteristic accent.
  • In Alice in Wonderland's sequel Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll included the characters Hatta and Haigha, who acted a lot like the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. The Tenniel illustrations are very much the Hatter and the Hare in new costumes; Hatta is even wearing the Hatter's topper with its advertising card.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, a bit-part alien "poet" was represented by a CGI alien design that had previously been used for the Villain of the Week in the Torchwood episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts". Presumably this was a less criminal member of the species.
  • Shows featuring Muppets tend to reuse puppets from previous shows a lot. Since shows like Sesame Street, productions starring The Muppets, The Animal Show, and Mopatop's Shop require an awful lot of one-shot characters, it's usually much easier to just recycle a puppet from another production than build a new one. Here is a list of all of the puppets that have been recycled.

  • BLACK ROSE, the second "season" of Kotonoha Project, reuses all of the designs from the first season and puts them into a western Victorian mystery setting instead of the Urban Fantasy they were in before.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks: The costume design for Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny is the same one that was used for the White Rabbit prior to being redesigned in 1995 (to better reflect with his animated counterpart).

    Video Games 
  • Cygames loves reusing character designs in their franchises:
    • Summons like Lucifer, Bahamut, Twin Elements and Poseidon are reusing their designs from Rage of Bahamut with the same sort of role they served in the world of Granblue Fantasy and different backstories to fit the world of Granblue Fantasy.
    • A majority of the cards in Shadowverse have artworks originating from their original incarnations from the two games mentioned above. Likewise, in the case of collaboration events (which also applies to Granblue, there are two cases of reusing an artwork: First, a character's design gets reused, but with noticeable changes in the art style or the facial features of the character to match the theme of the game hosting the collaboration. Otherwise, the exact art style from the originating franchise is used without any changes.
  • In Fallout Shelter, all Dwellers look the same except color and hairstyle, even those from the other Fallout games.
  • Kenji Eno did this with the video games of the D trilogy. D itself, Enemy Zero, and D2. All of the protagonists are named Laura and have the same design, but are different characters with different surnames.
  • Skip Ltd. has Tao the dog. He's a dog with a black-and-white face, and he appears in various roles in Skip games—from the family pet in Chibi-Robo! to a lazy Big Eater in Captain Rainbow. He even has a cameo in the Skip-developed WiiWare game Snowpack Park as the first mask you find! He was based on a real dog owned by the company founder, but the real dog, sadly, died in 2009. (He lives on in games, though.)
  • Hideo Kojima likes to play with this.
    • Meryl Silverburgh (a female soldier with a hidden feminine side) was originally a character from Policenauts, but a younger version of her is also in Metal Gear Solid as Snake's love interest.
    • Pettrovich Madnar, a Russian mad scientist who develops robots, was ported from Metal Gear to Snatcher and back again to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
    • Peter Stillman in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was originally supposed to be Ed Brown from Policenauts, but Kojima decided against it at the last moment (although their character designs and personalities remain extremely similar), and instead had Ed and his partner Jonathan as soldiers backing up Meryl in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
    • There's also Metal Gear itself, which is a huge nuclear robot in Metal Gear, gets ported to Snatcher as Gillian's sapient Robot Buddy, Metal Gear Mk. II, which was then taken back to its home canon in Metal Gear Solid 4 where it acts as backup for Snake, controlled by Otacon. To play into the joke, there's a sequence in MGS4 in which Kojima dresses Snake up as Gillian.
    • Jonathan Ingram shares the same body as Gillian Seed. This is poked when Napoleon mentions this.
  • Game director Swery65 does this with the character of Forrest Kaysen, who always sports roughly the same general appearance and name in each game note , but an entirely different personality and background in each.
    • He's a minor villain and Expy of Dennis Nedry in Spy Fiction, a jolly sapling salesman and potential murder suspect in Deadly Premonition who later becomes a major participant in the investigation when main character York goes missing, and a full-on co-star in D4, as the steadfast ex-partner of main character David Young. The name actually first appears in Extermination on the PS2, where all the computer systems are from Forrest Electronics.
    • Other than Forrest Kaysen, there's General Douglas Lysander, a Vietnam vet who debuted in Spy Fiction as a Revolver Ocelot Expy, then appeared again in Deadly Premonition as a scrapyard owner with a secretive past — calling himself a general, but wearing a sergeant's stripes. Said past does not involve the events of the game at all, and turns out to be old war stories about "Crybaby Timothy", a bumbling sergeant the General hated, but who later saved Lysander's life at the cost of his own, which is why the General wears a sergeant's uniform in memory of him.
  • Rhythm Heaven manages to do it in its own series by having mini-games in later games feature characters from previous games, as though it were a cast of characters performing different mini-games.
  • Several of the characters of Anarchy Reigns are borrowed from MadWorld, the most obvious being protagonist Jack Cayman. This also includes the Black Baron (now the Blacker Baron), Mathilda and even bosses like Rinrin.
  • Kyousuke of Little Busters! is a clear reference to Yoshino Yuusuke from CLANNAD, down to general appearance, hairstyle, voice actor, and charismatic hammy personality. The characters are totally distinct, though, if only in their place in the story — Kyousuke is one of the most important characters in all of Little Busters, second only to the protagonist and main girl, while Yoshino Yuusuke is a one-note minor character.
  • Samurai Warriors 3 ended up being this for both Pokémon Conquest in general, and Toukiden in the case of Akechi Mitsuhide specifically.
  • Many of the characters in the Tales series end up looking very similar to each other between games, like Dhaos and Richard, Genis and Fulein, Rutee and Velvet, or Leon and Jude, to name a few.
  • Some of the LucasArts point-and-click adventure games tend to reuse animated character sprites in different games, sometimes across franchises. The Stuckey's store clerks from Sam & Max Hit the Road are all Bernard Bernoulli clones, for instance. Day of the Tentacle actually used it in-universe to indicate an implied family resemblance across a few centuries.
  • Tetsuya Nomura reuses designs occasionally. Sora (from Kingdom Hearts), Lann (from World of Final Fantasy) and his version of Onion Knight (from Dissidia Final Fantasy) follow a similar template (Sora himself is a variation of Final Fantasy VII's Cloud but In the Style of... Mickey Mouse). Axel (from Kingdom Hearts) is a variation on Reno from Final Fantasy VII, and Nomura has made it clear that he considers them equivalents of one another, although not literally the same character.
  • The earlier versions of Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII used the same face model that had been used for Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, but with slightly softer lines, more arched eyebrows and a rounder eye shape (to say nothing of the lipgloss and mascara). While this is intentional (Lightning was intended to resemble a gender-flipped Cloud), both characters diverge from this template in their later appearances, and the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Lightning and Final Fantasy VII Remake Cloud look somewhat more different.
  • August, a Japanese visual novel studio (whose works are NSFW), does this, as demonstrated in the page image.
  • Chickenleg, the pink dragon from Golden Axe, was reused as an enemy in the arcade version of Altered Beast.
  • The Flicky birds in Sonic the Hedgehog are an odd example of this. The first few Genesis Sonic games borrowed spites of the titular character from the game Flicky, who was a mother bluebird. Nowadays, Flickies are a species of bird within Sonic that has a few different subspecies, one of which resembles the character Flicky. The other kinds of Flicky bird were introduced in Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island — a game in which Sonic spent his time rounding up Flicky birds in much the same way that the character Flicky did with her chicks.
  • The Urbz: Sims In the City uses the exact same character model for ALL the district clubs' bouncers, even though they are quite obviously not meant to be the same person.
  • Marvel Puzzle Quest has the same characters in different tiers, so at first they just reappeared in different clothes\hairstyles. And given the initial theme was Dark Avengers, there are a few copies - Black Widow, Hawkeye\Bullseye, the console exclusive Iron Patriot - and at first, both Wolverine and his son Daken were the same before the former got a new look.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III: The female Merchant's hair style makes her look strongly like Marle, and her clothing is almost identical to an outfit worn by a young Bulma. Akira Toriyama designed all of them.
    • Dragon Quest VIII: Angelo greatly resembles Future Trunks, another character designed by Akira Toriyama.

  • David Gonterman has a few he loves to recycle... most, scratch that, all of them are some form of self insert.
    • Scarlet Foxfire - The sentient alien/biomechanical fursuit.
    • Jim Goodlow - Appears as a cartoonist once, the other time as a Straight Gay cop. He's the guy in Scarlet. (Ick)
    • Adam Packbell - A magical boy, teen or young man whose powers either come from Magic: The Gathering-esque spells, or being a Lost Boy. He usually has a coffee addiction and a fetish for robot girls.
    • Pippikin - A bunny fursuit much like Scarlet. He typically appears as a villain who takes over the minds of his hosts and engages in sexual debauchery, but has one incarnation where he's good.
    • Davey/Eric/Etc Crockett - The standard self insert of infamy. Typically ends up thrown into another world, and becomes Mighty Whitey or a furry or both.
    • There's also an android Sex Bot that he reuses with a variety of names.
  • Some of the main characters of Cuanta Vida will have small parts in the author's next comic, This Is the Worst Idea You've Ever Had!!, which, in turn, has revamped characters from her first (abandoned) comic, The Rift.
    • Most of them are also focus characters for Sin Pararse.
  • Characters in Ryan Armand's various comics tend to look very much alike, possibly due to Generic Cuteness.
  • Some of the demons's designs in My Best Friend Marneao were previously used in Sea Snail Studio's other work, Salvatore. According to El Autor in his twitter, they are actors, similar to Tezuka's famous star system
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, several character designs are recycled from the artist's earlier fanfiction comics. The Arthurian power trio are based on the power trio from Star Trek: The Original Series: Arthur is Kirk with a beard and without a toupee, Lancelot is Spock as a human, and while Guinevere doesn't look much like McCoy her father does. Merlin is the First Doctor with a Wizard Beard. Galahad is Superman. The irreverend Sir Dinadan is based on Hawkeye Pierce.

    Western Animation 
  • The animated short Goliath II features a crocodile based on Tick-Tock the crocodile from Peter Pan, and owls based on the owls in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Bambi and Sleeping Beauty. The design of the elephants come from Dumbo, and were reused later in The Jungle Book.
  • While My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic regularly reuses character designs to fill up background scenes (the fanbase has taken to naming and giving personalities to the most common ones, which these later becoming Ascended Fanon), one background pony in "Sweet and Elite" stuck out like a sore thumb because the reused model in question was of Princess Luna, a major recurring character with a speaking role. Many fans took this as a not-so-subtle hint towards... something. Wild Mass Guessing went haywire for weeks until one of the show's staff chimed in.
  • Il était une fois... did this all the time, with all their series.
    • "Il était une fois l'homme" tells the entire history of humanity using the same small roster of characters taking up all the roles of famous (and not-so-famous) people who made up history, from the creation of earth all the way to a theoretical Bad Future as a final environmental aesop.
    • The same roster also forms the core of the expanded cast for the sci-fi animation Il était une fois l'espace.
  • In Time Masters, the character Jaffar has the face of Lieutenant Blueberry.
  • Captain Caveman in Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels looks almost identical to the Slag Brothers in Wacky Races, just with eyes not covered by Blinding Bangs.
  • It's become common for the DC Universe Animated Original Movies to reuse designs from Young Justice. For instance, Sarah Charles from Justice League: War is just a Palette Swap of Serling Roquette, while Angela Chen from Justice League vs. Teen Titans is just a slightly tweaked Catherine Cobert. This is due to Phil Borrousa being the primary character designer.
  • In Robin Hood: Mischief in Sherwood, Robin Hood and his gang meet two different girls with the exact same design; Eleanor in "Best of Enemies" and Gwendolyn in "Damsel in Distress".
  • Mumbly, who was first a detective in the 1976 season of Hanna-Barbera's The Tom and Jerry Show, then an antagonist on Laff-A-Lympics, was a redesign of Muttley, Dick Dastardly's dog on Wacky Races. The only differences were fur color (Muttley light green, Mumbly light blue), ears (Muttley's were black, Mumbly's were his fur color) and attire (Muttley a collar then flying helmet and scarf, Mumbly an orange trenchcoat).
    • Quite a few HB shows did this. In some instances, model sheets of older characters were literally traced for new ones.
  • Ralph Wolf from Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes series of Wolf/Sheepdog cartoons was a complete clone of Wile E. Coyote except for his nose (Ralph's was red while Wile E.'s was black). It didn't originate that way as in the first film, the wolf looked more or less like a Jones-designed cartoon wolf.
  • On The Brady Kids, the kids' dog, Moptop, was a duplicate of Jughead Jones' pet, Hot Dog, save for the fur color. Moptop's animation was repurposed from Hot Dog as well.
  • Mr. Peevly from The Hair Bear Bunch bears a striking resemblance to Pertwee from Where's Huddles?.
  • Pos from Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown is the same duplicate and voice as Slick from Blinky Bill.
    • Even a whole bunch of minor characters have the same character designs from Blinky Bill.
  • Homer Simpson and Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons were originally meant to be the same character, with Bart ironically revering Krusty more than Homer. Their similarities still inspired a few gags on the show, however, and the plot of one episode even hinges on this.
  • Some of the character designs from Frosty Returns resemble Peanuts characters, which is no surprise, as Bill Melendez worked on both shows.
  • Multiple side characters from Sabrina: The Animated Series were reused for both the TV movie Sabrina: Friends Forever and the sequel series Sabrina's Secret Life: the most blatant offenders are a triad of female background characters that were recolored first in Friends Forever as Portia and her lackeys, and then in Secret Life as Cassandra and her lackeys, and Maritza from Secret Life that is just Chloe from the original show with different clothes, slightly lighter skintone and a different face.
  • Overlaps with Early Installment Character Design Difference on Johnny Test, where the robot anchorman who appeared for one scene in "Sonic Johnny" was turned human and recycled into Hank Anchorman's design for the second season onward.
  • The All-New Popeye Hour has at least three:
    • In "Alpine for You", Olive's lamb, Fleecy, is an almost exact copy of Lambsy Divey.
    • In "Around the World in 80 Hours", one of the gamblers is a Palette Swap of Sylvester Sneekly.
    • In "Beyond the Spinach Brick Road", the Midgkin resembles Scoots from The Cattanooga Cats.
  • Spear, the caveman protagonist of Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal (2019) looks nearly identical to the caveman from the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Old Flame", also directed by Genndy.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: The computer virus from "Hard Drive Courage" is nearly identical to the space worm from "Mission to the Sun".


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