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Same Plot Sequel

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"Do the same thing as last time. Everyone's happy."
Deputy Chief Hardy, 22 Jump Street

So, a sequel to your favorite work has just come out. When you go see/watch/read/play it, you notice that the plot is strangely similar to the first one.

You've just encountered the Same Plot Sequel. It may feel like a traditional Remake, except it's still in the same canon as the original work, and has only a few minor details tweaked. Oftentimes this is done because studios wish to appeal to nostalgic fans, or because they're too afraid to actually hit the reboot button, or that the original is so iconic or omnipresent that a remake would hurt the franchise as a whole, or just because they want to make a quick buck. Note that this is not exclusively good or bad. Video Games in particular can get away with variations on the same basic plot due to focusing on game-play. It can also be used to recontextualise the original plot, such as with a change in setting or a switch from a dramatic tone to a parody.

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See also Soft Reboot, when the new entry straddles the line between "sequel" and "remake". May be the result of a Sequel Reset. If it's not, and the main character is the same, it probably incorporates Aesop Amnesia. Contrast with Spiritual Successor and In Name Only. Compare Mission-Pack Sequel.


Examples

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    Film — Animated 
  • This is common for many Disneytoon Studios sequels:
    • In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel's daughter Melody goes through pretty much the same plot as her mother in The Little Mermaid, only with the land and the sea inverted this time: teenage girl wants to live in the other element, overprotective parent stops her from doing so, she rebels and makes a deal with a power-hungry sea witch.
    • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is technically a midquel; it expands on the events that happened during the song "Something There" in the original Beauty and the Beast. Ultimately it tells exactly the same story: Belle is captured by the Beast, and they eventually soften up to each other and fall in love.
    • Return to Never Land is a sequel to Peter Pan, and uses many of the same plot elements: a child (this time only one instead of three) ends up in Never Land, teams up with Peter Pan and gets pursued by Captain Hook. Hook is still pursued by a hungry beast this time, except for some reason it's an octopus rather than a crocodile.
    • The Jungle Book 2, the sequel to The Jungle Book, still revolves around the dilemma whether Mowgli belongs to the jungle or the man-village, and Baloo still wants him to live in the jungle with him. Meanwhile, Shere Khan still pursues Mowgli to kill him.
  • Finding Dory has many of the same story beats as Finding Nemo. In both films the title character gets captured and put in an aquarium, while two other characters try to find them. There's an opening flashback, a school field trip where things go wrong, a scene set on a shipwreck, a glow-in-the-dark predator, some predators who are friendly to the protagonists, a goofy bird, a gruff character who tries repeatedly to escape the aquarium, a reunion with lost parents, and a climax in which dozens of fish perform an unlikely escape.
  • Incredibles 2 also has many of the same story beats as the original The Incredibles. One of the Parr parents is given the oppurtinity to relive their glory days as a superhero while the other parent stays at home raising the kids. The benefactor turns out to be evil and the whole thing is a scheme to discredit superheroes.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Jurassic Park: This happened not once, but twice after the series was revived:
    • Jurassic World, taking place two decades after the original Jurassic Park, borrows many elements from it. Two children visit a park of genetically engineered dinosaurs run by a relative of theirs. Due to an error in the security system, dangerous dinosaurs escape and attack people, and the children get lost. The main antagonistic dinosaurs get defeated by the very same Tyrannosaurus rex in both movies. Also, the general theme of human greed and interfering with nature is the same.
    • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has been called essentially a remake of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, with a heavy-handed, almost obnoxious Green Aesop about an expedition being sent back to the dinosaur-filled islands after the original park broke down to retrieve as many specimens as possible, while a bunch of Smug Snake Corrupt Corporate Executives attempt to profit off it. The dinosaurs break free and cause a rampage on the mainland, leading to a Karmic Death for the cartoonish capitalist villains, and an ending speech by one of the previous film's characters that people will have to learn to live with dinosaurs roaming the Earth.
  • The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the Star Wars film series, has a similar plot to the original trilogy, particularly A New Hope, to the point that The Force Awakens comes off as a soft remake. An evil Nazi-esque army, led by a sinister figure in black, constructs a space weapon that can destroy planets. A resistance member hides some information the villains also want in the memory of a droid, who gets stranded on a desert planet and found by an orphan with affinity to the Force. They escape the villains and encounter an old mentor figure who fought in the previous war and has a connection with the main villain. They go to the villains' base, the mentor confronts the villain and gets killed by him. Then an Ace Pilot of the resistance group destroys the base. A lot of the same things also happen in the same order and around the same time as in A New Hope.
  • The Hangover Part II was nearly a note-for-note copy of the original, with the gang getting together for another bachelor party, another drinking session, another morning hangover, another member of the party missing, Alan slipping the others drugs again, another madcap quest to find the missing person...
  • Home Alone 2 is basically the first Home Alone again. Complete with traps, Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold and so on.
  • Teen Wolf Too follows a cousin of the main character in Teen Wolf, who is also a teen and also discovers that he is a werewolf. The only difference is that instead of using it to become an ace at basketball, he uses it to become an ace at boxing.
  • Superman Returns: Superman arrives from outer space, makes his debut saving Lois Lane from a falling aircraft, spends his On Patrol Montage saving people and stopping petty crime, then tries to take on Lex Luthor only to be weakened by kryptonite, thrown in water and saved before drowning, fights to protect citizens from major disasters and earthquakes, and then foils Luthor's plan by performing a ludicrously impossible feat in outer space. If it weren't for the sub-plot about a possible son, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was just a remake of Superman.
  • Escape from L.A. is essentially a remake of Escape from New York almost plot point for plot point. Snake is captured and then enlisted by the authorities to break into a former city that is now a huge prison island (Manhattan and Los Angeles, respectively) to retrieve an important person and prevent a war. Even characters are remarkably similar: Cuervo Jones is The Duke, Maps to the Stars Eddie is Cabbie, etc.
  • Riddick creators David Twohy and Vin Diesel expressed in interviews that they specifically wanted to avoid this when they made The Chronicles of Riddick by not simply doing a remake of Pitch Black only with bigger and meaner monsters. However, the sequel was then criticized for veering too far away from its premise by placing Riddick - a knife-happy criminal - in a Star Wars-esque space epic as the last hope of saving the universe from the thrall of an evil empire. The next movie, simply titled Riddick, then played this straight. Once again Riddick is stranded on an uninhabited planet before nightfall arrives and the whole planet is swarmed with hostile aliens, requiring the humans to retrieve energy batteries to power a ship and escape.
  • Fright Night 2: New Blood is an odd case where it's officially a sequel to the 2011 movie (which was already a remake to the 1985 movie), but it's really just the same plot *again*, character names and all. Teenage boy suspects that his neighbor is a vampire, recruits a horror TV star to reluctantly help him, his best friend and girlfriend get turned, final battle where the vampire is killed by sunlight. The only real difference is that the vampire is a woman this time around and is implied to be a historical figure like Dracula, namely Elizabeth Báthory. Which makes you wonder why they didn't just make it a Divorced Installment, since a bunch of rag-tag heroes fighting a vampirized Bathory has enough potential by itself.
  • Actually subverted by Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which sets itself up as being a Same Plot Sequel to The Terminator: the machines send a Terminator back in time to kill John Connor before he can become a resistance leader, and so Connor sends someone to protect his own past self. The film's first act contains many scenes that mirror the first, with the Terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his mysterious opponent, played this time by Robert Patrick, making their way around in the present day and trying to find their quarry, the only difference being that now they're looking for John himself rather than his young mother. Then comes the shocking twist that reveals that Patrick's character is actually the Terminator the machines sent, while Schwarzenegger's Terminator is a re-programmed model sent by John, at which point the plot goes off in a much different direction than the first film.
  • Wild Things 2 is pretty much a carbon copy of the original Wild Things, set in South Florida, two high school girls as the main characters (one a white trash tomboy, the other a feminine rich girl), a fraudulent court case that ends with somebody being awarded a lot of money, a threesome scene between the conspirators, then an ensuing Gambit Pile Up with lots of other characters turning out to have been in on it all along, then either ending up dead themselves in a series of backstabs or revealed to have faked their deaths. There's even a montage of scenes over the ending credits to fill in the gaps in the plot.
  • The Cutting Edge has three direct-to-video sequels. Each of those repeats the same basic formula: a professional ice skater needs a partner, who turns out to be someone from a different, less artistic sport (hockey player, rollerblader, hockey player, speed-skater). They become not only skating partners but also fall for one another. But there will usually be a Romantic False Lead or miscommunication to add some drama, only for there to be declarations of love right before (or even during) the competition. Also, in two of the four cases, the romance doesn't last to the sequel. Only the couple from the original movie stays together (even if played by different actors), while their daughter's marriage doesn't last, and the daughter's student's romance lasts only as long as her partner's skating career. We don't know anything about her second romance, since there wasn't a fifth movie. In every movie but one, the professional skater is female, while the amateur is male.
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising follows the plot of Pacific Rim pretty much beat for beat. The main character of each film is a disgraced former Jaeger pilot who gets coaxed back into service and teamed up with a female rookie whose parents were killed by Kaiju. Both films start with a replacement for the Jaeger program being proposed, only for a sudden disastrous attack to make the Jaegers relevant again. Both film have the majority of the Jaegers destroyed so that there's only four left to repel the biggest kaiju attack to date. Both films' climaxes involve the heroes self-destroying their Jaeger in a last-ditch effort to avert a catastrophic event that is worse than any one Kaiju.
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    Literature 
  • Despite being much longer and more epic in scale, The Lord of the Rings recycles a lot of plot elements from The Hobbit. Both books star a hobbit named Baggins, who gets sent by the wizard Gandalf, against their will, on a quest to a mountain in a desolate land. After resting in Rivendell and getting crucial advice from Lord Elrond, Baggins and his companions attempt and fail to cross the Misty Mountains due to a storm, so they decide to go through the tunnels under the mountains instead. In the tunnels, they fight some orcs/goblins and lose one of their companions who returns more powerful (Bilbo returns with the Ring, Gandalf returns as the White). As they carry on with their journey, they visit a forest kingdom of elves (Mirkwood / Lothlorien), encounter giant spiders (the Mirkwood spiders / Shelob), and travel on a river. They eventually arrive to a kingdom of humans without a king (Laketown / Gondor), ruled by a corrupt nobleman (the Master / Denethor) next to the desolation where the Big Bad resides. A descendant of the lost king of the kingdom (Bard / Aragorn) participates in defeating the Big Bad and reclaims his throne. A battle is fought near the gate of the villain's domain, which is joined by the eagles on the heroes' side.
  • Crops up in some Goosebumps sequel books. In particular, the Night of the Living Dummy books all have a female protagonist who has issues with one of more siblings (or cousin, in III); the living dummy (first Mr. Wood, later Slappy) comes to life and does cruel pranks, which the protagonist is blamed for; he declares the protagonist to be his slave, and then gets defeated with help of the sibling(s). Most have a twist where another dummy/doll is actually alive, too. The Most Wanted book Son of Slappy finally mixes things up somewhat by having a male protagonist and a plot about Slappy putting him under Mind Control (though this is still mostly a variant of the "protagonist blamed for the dummy's pranks" idea).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who
    • "Planet of the Daleks" is notoriously a near-remake of the first Dalek story "The Daleks": Thals versus Daleks on a planet full of random monsters, with the Daleks planning to do something that will make it inhospitable to everyone but them.
    • "Revenge of the Cybermen" is a near-remake of "The Moonbase": Cybermen using a fake plague attack a human outpost somewhere in the solar system intending to use it as a base for an attack on another planet.
    • In the new series, "Night Terrors" is extremely similar to "Fear Her": a kid with out-of-control reality warping powers becomes a threat to a working-class contemporary community when their phobias become real. The difference is that in "Fear Her" the powers come from an alien that has become emotionally attached to the child, while in "Night Terrors" the child is actually an alien himself.
  • Helix season 2 changes the location from the Arctic to an island in the Pacific Northwest, but otherwise is pretty much the same as season 1: CDC officials have to contend with a viral outbreak at a remote complex with all sort of access points and secrets, and led by a mysterious leader who is actually an immortal member of a centuries-old conspiracy, with at least one member of the CDC team having unofficial ties to the conspiracy. Over the course of the season, the situation deteriorates until the number of infected reaches a critical point and the whole site has to be destroyed.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happened deliberately in Super Danganronpa 2: the Big Bad planned their viral infection of the Neo World Program around the fact that the survivors or the first killing game were watching the carnage unfold and knew they would (like heroes) jump inside the program to at the first opportunity if they saw students dying in droves in nearly the same manner they almost did. This both gave them an opening to escape into the real world along with a chance at revenge on the three survivors that did arrive in the final class trial.

    Video Games — Nintendo 
Nintendo loves to do this with a lot of its core franchises, from those with long scripts and deep narratives, to those with an Excuse Plot and the ones inbetween.

  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Bowser invades the Mushroom Kingdom and kidnaps Peach, so Mario has to travel around the country/island/world/galaxy to save her. In most scrolling games he just has to get from point A to point B. In most 3D games he has to collect about 70 MacGuffins of power to find Bowser's true hiding spot, and can keep going to collect all 120 for 100 completion.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 bizarrely went as far as to have the same plot of Super Mario Galaxy. In both games Bowser invades on the day of the Star Festival which only happens once every 100 years. Meaning the ending of the first game reset the timestream, the sequel takes place 100 years in the future, or the creators really don't care about the details of reusing an Excuse Plot. The main difference is in the first one Mario ends up on the comet observatory with Rosalina, and in the sequel he's on the Faceship Mario with Lubba.
  • Donkey Kong Country: There are pretty much two Excuse Plots that the Donkey Kong Country series has used. The first is that someone has stolen DK's Bananas. The second is that someone has kidnapped the other Kongs. Donkey Kong 64 managed to do both.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • There are several recurring elements and plots beats in many of the major games. Particularly the ones that revolve around the Triforce.
    • In particular, Ocarina of Time (officially a direct prequel) reuses and fleshes out a lot of plot elements that were introduced in A Link To the Past. After a great war, the Triforce was lost to another realm. Lately, an evil priest/foreign king has gained the favor of the King of Hyrule and is using his position to manipulate events in order to steal the Triforce. After witnessing the tragic death of his father figure, Link goes on an adventure to acquire three Plot Coupons so he can retrieve the Master Sword, which ends up locking him in another dimension. After master the different dimensions Link rescues and awakens the Wise Men/Sages and their power combined forces the evil manipulator to reveal himself as Ganon. In the final battle Link defeats Ganon. Several sidequest characters even had appropriate counterparts.
    • Ocarina of Time later had its own Same Plot Sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was a deliberate return to form after the initially-divisive reception of the more experimental previous games. Link is raised in the forest of southern Hyrule, where he is friends mainly with children. After meeting an Exposition Fairy, he embarks on his journey and obtains three Plot Coupons from dungeons: one in the forest, one in Death Mountain (passing through Kakariko Village and befriending the Goron chief along the way), and one in Zora's Domain (helping the Zora royalty along the way). He also has to navigate the Skull Kid-populated Lost Woods by following the sound of Saria's Song in order to find the Sacred Grove. After Princess Zelda disappears due to the Big Bad's actions, Link acquires the Master Sword from a temple and now has to acquire more Plot Coupons from even more dungeons, including one in Gerudo Desert. Finally, he goes to Hyrule Castle and ascends the tower to face Ganondorf, who assumes the demon Beast Ganon form during one phase of the battle. The Exposition Fairy leaves, Zelda and Link say goodbye, and Link returns to his old life (before soon embarking on a new journey).
    • A Link Between Worlds is a deliberate homage to A Link To The Past and therefore unsurprisingly follows a very similar story. Once again, an Evil Sorcerer causes havoc in Hyrule and abducts the descendants of the seven sages to resurrect Ganon. You are tasked by Zelda and Sahasrahla to find the three Pendants of Virtue and obtain the Master Sord. Once you've done it, you land in the Dark World and have to rescue the descendants of the sage before facing the sorcerer in his lair. This is an Invoked Trope on the part of the antagonists, not too dissimilar from Metal Gear Solid 2. The Triforce of Courage was sealed away in an unknown location, bound to the soul of the Hero, between the events of A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds. In order to break the seal on it, the hero’s successor must show a display of true courage–so the antagonists set out to goad the new Link into reenacting out the closest thing they know to such a feat, the events of A Link to the Past, in order to unseal the Triforce of Courage. This goes off without a hitch, but Link manages to keep the Triforce from their grasp in the end.
  • Pokémon: Every main series game starts with a rookie trainer in a small town who gets a starter and a Pokedex courtesy of the local professor, goes on a quest to catch em all and become champion, and along the way takes down a crime syndicate that wants to exploit (legendary) Pokemon for their own personal gain. The closest things to exceptions are Pokémon Black and White, where the crime syndicate is the Final Boss instead of the Elite Four and Champion, and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, where the main antagonist is instead a Pokemon itself.
  • Yoshi's Island: The Stork carrying Baby Mario and Baby Luigi (and potentially more babies) is attacked by Kamek. Kamek kidnaps Luigi, but Mario is accidentally dropped and falls onto an Island of Yoshis. The Yoshis band together to defeat Baby Bowser and deliver the child to their parents.
  • Fire Emblem: Has a whole series of archetypes that recur between games but are typically played with and subverted. However Roy's game Binding Blade arranges them like Marth's first title and plays out like am mix of Shadow Dragon and Mystery of the Emblem.
  • Animal Crossing: You are a young adult moving out and you arrive in a village where you are the Token Human. You don't have enough money to pay for a house but are allowed to pay your debt little-by-little. New Leaf changes up the plot with you becoming the mayor of the town.
  • Earthbound: The Earth is being invaded by aliens and you and the friends you make along the way must travel around the Earth collecting portions of a special melody. In fact Earthbound's plot is so similar to that of Earthbound Beginnings that it could be considered a stealth remake.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid is essentially a fleshed-out version of the original Metroid, predating the actual remake by a full decade: Space Pirates steal a Metroid and bring it to their fortress on planet Zebes with the intention of breeding Metroids as bioweapons, so Samus Aran is hired to stop them. She goes to Brinstar, where she defeats Kraid and acquires the Varia Suit; she goes to Norfair, where she defeats Ridley and acquires the Screw Attack; she activates statues based on Kraid and Ridley in order to enter Tourian; she fights her way through the Metroids in Tourian and defeats Mother Brain; and finally she escapes Zebes before a time bomb explodes. Completing the game fast enough removes Samus's helmet, and completing it even more quickly shows her in a revealing outfit.
    • Metroid: Other M is a Same Plot Prequel to Metroid Fusion. In both games, Samus must investigate a massacre in a space station (Biologic Space Laboratories/BOTTLE SHIP) divided into sectors based on habitats from Zebes, follows the order of someone named Adam (a computer/Adam Malkovitch), finds herself reminiscing about her past and finds out that the Federation plots to recreate the Metroid through a secret hatchery. Notably in both games, Samus faces Nightmares and a resurected Ridley. The main difference is that Other M has subplots not present in Fusion (the Deleter and "MB").
  • Bayonetta 2 despite having a different initial premise than its predecessor (In the first game, Bayonetta investigates her past while in the second she tries to find a way to rescue her friend Jeanne from Hell) ends up rehashing several plot points and scenes. In both game, Bayonetta wanders in an old city with ties with the supernatural (Noatun and Vigrid), stumbles upon a mysterious child who's being targeted by the ennemies (Cereza and Loki) and regularly fights with a Evil Counterpart (Jeanne and the Masked Lumen) who turns ou to be a pawn of the Omnicidal Maniac Big Bad (father Balder and Loptr). At the end of both games, the Big Bad uses the Eyes of the World to summon a gigantic mass destroying deity (Jubileus and Aesir). Bayonetta and her redeemed rival defeat it by summoning an even bigger one (Queen Of Sheba and Omne).

    Video Games — Other 
  • Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is a Whole Plot Reference to Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, except with shinier new tech (both in-universe and console-wise) and taking place on a different continent of Strangereal about 11 years down the timeline.
  • Armored Core Master of Arena is a retelling of the original Armored Core. In both games, the player character a mercenary who does random jobs and is found to be too much of a threat to the social order due to his skills. He is lead into a trap by #1 mercenary Nineball (who, in both-games, is revealed to be a mass-manufactured AI rather than an indivdual), but defeats him and destroys the AI responsble for ruling the Raven's Nest and manipulating the whole world.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Both Dishonored games have the same basic plot; the empress is removed from her thronenote , and the player finds and (potentially) kills everyone involved in the conspiracy. Taken Up to Eleven as you can even play the second game as Corvo, the protagoist of the first game. The outsider even lampshades the similarity if you play as Corvo.
  • Kingdom Hearts χ, originally a desktop browser game exclusive to Japan, was remade as Unchained X for mobile devices, but the remake curiously omits the climactic ending of X. The sequel arc, Union X, reveals that Unchained X was actually an example of this trope, with the new Union leaders using their power over dreams to allow the other, slumbering Keyblade wielders to relive the events of X without the trauma of the Keyblade War. The implication is that Unchained X is actually this sanitized dream.
  • Devil May Cry 2 essentially rehashes the same plotline as Devil May Cry. Devil hunter Dante is invited by an Action Girl to a remote island in order to stop demonic forces from rising an ancient demon sealed away in hell by Dante's father Sparda. The Action Girl is later revealed to be a demon created by the Big Bad. Dante recomforts her by telling her "Devils never cry" and, after defeating the Big Bad, the Action Girl joins Dante's agency. The main difference between Trish and Lucia is that the former was actually working for Mundus then turned good at the end of the game while Lucia defected Arius before the beginning of the story.
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