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"What I'm trying to say is, they're the Space Avengers. But I guess it's technically not stealing if they're ripping off themselves."

Sometimes, a work becomes a surprise success and various imitators are made in its wake, usually by different creators. But on a few occasions, the same creators (or at least, the parent company) will make something that appears to be a transparent ripoff of their own success. This is different from Spiritual Successor in that the series are usually made in the same time period and that there is no reason the newer product couldn't have used the same license as the older work.

There are many reasons for this. It may be because of the executive's belief that lazily changing the setting will in itself attract more viewers, milking a cash cow without making it seem too obvious or simply an author being unable to shake off his Signature Style.

This isn't simply a matter of recurring tropes, such as those defining a genre, making up a Signature Style, or inspiring a Spiritual Licensee. The "plagiarized" work should be the same on a conceptual level, to the point that if it was the work of a different creator there could be a lawsuit in the works.


A lot of what's on Recycled In SPACE is an example of this. Compare and contrast Expy (which is when an author recycles one or more characters but not the rest of the story), Follow the Leader, Better by a Different Name, and Recycled Script.


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  • Ryosuke Takahashi created both Armored Trooper VOTOMS and Gasaraki. Both shows involve a talented Mini-Mecha pilot who doesn't talk much trying to save a mysterious girl who is a better pilot than he is from an Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Summer Wars takes a significant number of cues from Digimon Adventure: Our War Game, a film director Mamoru Hosoda also directed nine years previously.
  • Toshio Maeda, the creator of legendary Hentai series Urotsukidoji, recycled his own ideas a lot in his following works; one review of an especially egregious example started with the reviewer's less-than-impressed thoughts on the matter.
    When is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery? When it's yourself you're ripping off.
  • Yoichi Takahashi created both Captain Tsubasa and Hungry Heart: Wild Striker. Both are stories about soccer, though the second is more down-to-Earth.
  • Right after finishing Mirai Nikki author Sakae Esuno made Big Order another battle-royal manga in which a wimpy, high school protagonist has to team-up with a pink-haired girl that wants to kill him but also has feelings for him.
  • Seven years after finishing Elfen Lied, Lynn Okamoto created Brynhildr in the Darkness. In both stories a high-school protagonist reunites with his forgotten childhood friend who has been the subject of secret experimentation due to her supernatural powers, has an evil split personality and is now on the run from a shadowy organisation which is using other ability users to hunt her down, some of which eventually join the group of protagonists and form a harem. Like Elfen Lied it is also filled with tons of gore and gratuitous nudity.

    Comic Books 
  • Frank Miller:
  • Artist Greg Land is notorious for not only overusing photo references (tracing porn, basically) and plagiarizing other artists but also recycling much of his own work.
  • Panic! was actually advertised as "the only authorized imitation of MAD." Both were published by EC Comics at the time. Its second issue parodied this by claiming in its editorial that MAD had stolen the concept from Panic! while the latter was in the design phase.
  • Doug Moench would occasionally use the same plots and characters in his '80s Batman and Moon Knight runs. Sometimes, he would even mix up the names.
  • George Perez was the visual creator of the Marvel Comics mercenary Taskmaster, written by David Michelinie, in 1980. Some months later, Perez went to DC Comics and was responsible for the character design of another mercenary, Deathstroke, this time created by Marv Wolfman. The characters were much similar, with the same color scheme, wearing the same kind of sleeves and boots, masks covering full face and carrying swords.
  • Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman: Endgame is basically a redo of Death of the Family, right down to having the Joker as the main villain. Among the few differences are the Justice League replacing the Batfamily as the allies that the Joker jokerizes and turns against Batman and instead of the League disbanding, the story ends with Batman presumed dead.
  • In the Golden Age, the illustrious Simon & Kirby perpetrated a textbook example by slapping together The Defender for USA Comics not six months after creating Captain America. Where Captain America was the patriotically-attired spy-hunting alter ego of humble soldier Steve Rogers featuring a pre-teen sidekick named Bucky, who for some reason went by that name in both of his identities, and occasionally a government agent named Betsy Ross, the Defender was the patriotically-attired spy-hunting alter ego of humble Marine Don Stevens featuring a pre-teen sidekick named Rusty, who for some reason went by that name in both of his identities, and in the first story a government agent named Sally Kean. Had some bonus Values Dissonance too, as the one place where the Defender innovated over Cap was in being casually, appallingly racist towards the Japanese. A few issues in, they dropped the Defender and brought Cap himself in.
  • The death of Uncle Ben inspires the hero to go after outlaws everywhere, in Stan Lee's Rawhide Kid #17, August, 1960, and Amazing Spider-Man #1, March 1963.
  • Several Marvel characters introduced during the Silver Age have the same name and different origin from a Golden Age Timely Comics character, including the Vision and Black Widow, and Lo-Zar instead of Ka-Zar.
  • Chris Claremont: Hidden somewhere in a dark corner of the Mutant Research Center on Muir Island is a dirty little secret from our character's past; a child no one knows about, who is an incredibly powerful mutant with a damaged psyche. The first time it was Moira's son Proteus, the second time it was Professor X's son Legion.
  • After he sold Ant to Erik Larsen, Mario Gully attempted to produce a new comic starring a nigh-identical character called "Bugg".
  • Zipi y Zape: In the late 80's, Escobar started a new series about, wait for it... two brothers with just a few years between them, with different hair color, called Terre and Moto (Terremoto, "Earthquake") who, huh, were mischievous but kind and smart and went to school and had adventures. Apparently, Escobar had a falling out with his old publisher but they had the rights to Zipi y Zape so Escobar decided to start a new IP as similar as possible to his old one. The new series wasn't exactly successful and Escobar was back to drawing Zipi y Zape before long.
  • Mike Allred reused a number of his unused character sketches from X-Statix in his creator-owned work The Atomics.
  • In one of the most blatant cases of this trope, in 2016, Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta created America Vasquez, a new creator-owned superhero who is incredibly similar to their most famous creation, America Chavez. They openly admit that they created Vaquez in order to cash in on the increased attention that Chavez was receiving.
  • Alex Ross was part of the creative teams of Astro City and Kingdom Come. As a result, at least two KC characters share striking similarities with AC characters:
    • Wonder Woman's winged, golden eagle-like armor made her look a lot like Winged Victory, herself an Expy of Wonder Woman.
    • Harlequin II a.k.a. "Joker's Daughter", besides being modeled after Jill Thompson, shares the clown/ jester motif and the red-and-green, diamond-shaped patterned costume with the much more heroic Jack-in-the-Box.

    Films — Animated 
  • Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book (1967) became so popular that Disney hired the character's voice actor Phil Harris back to play an expy of the character in their next two films. Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocats is identical to Baloo personality-wise but isn't the same species, while Little John from Robin Hood has a different personality but looks almost exactly like Baloo (save for being orange rather than gray).
  • In Robin Hood, Little John and Lady Kluck dance like Baloo and King Louie in The Jungle Book (1967). Robin and Marian dance like Duchess and Thomas in The Aristocats. Marian dances with a pig, an owl, a rabbit and a dog in a manner similar to the dance that Snow White and the Dwarfs do in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. An elephant sounding off like a trumpet is stopped by Lady Kluck, like Colonel Hathi stopping a Jungle Patrol elephant in The Jungle Book (1967). Sir Hiss uses Hypnotic Eyes similar to Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967).
  • A chase scene in The Jungle Book (1967) between Baloo, King Louie and Mowgli is similar to a chase scene with Mole, Water Rat, Mr. Winkie and the Weasels in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The wolf cubs move together and wag their tails like the puppies in 101 Dalmatians. Mowgli returns to the wolf den, and gets licked by wolves, like Arthur returns to the castle, and gets licked by dogs, in The Sword in the Stone. The elephant Colonel Hathi is based on the elephant Goliath I from the animated short Goliath II, where some elephant scenes are taken, including the elephants stopping and piling up.
  • In Alice in Wonderland, the fanfare following "Painting the Roses Red" is the same as from Dumbo.
  • In The Aristocats, Napoleon and Lafayette have some of the same barks from 101 Dalmatians.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Belle and the Beast have a ballroom dance like Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. Both are like the ballroom dance of Cinderella and Prince Charming in Cinderella.
  • In The Black Cauldron, Taran crawls under a branch and goes through the trees in the Forbidden Forest, in search of Hen Wen, in the same way Arthur searches for Sir Kay's arrow in The Sword in the Stone.
  • In The Fox and the Hound, Red Eyes the bear uses the same growls as Brutus and Nero in The Rescuers. A squirrel running along a tree branch is from Arthur running as a squirrel across the tree branches in The Sword in the Stone.
  • In The Great Mouse Detective, Toby the Basset Hound uses sounds from The Fox and the Hound, Old Yeller, 101 Dalmatians, and Lady and the Tramp. Toby howls and runs through the street, and scares a wagon, like Trusty in Lady and the Tramp.
  • In Lady and the Tramp, Trusty moves in his sleep like Bruno in Cinderella.
  • In The Sword in the Stone, Sir Kay shoots an arrow at a deer resembling Bambi's mother in Bambi. Sir Ector hits Sir Kay in the same way Horace hits Jasper in 101 Dalmatians.
  • The Cut Song "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin bears a resemblance to "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid, which itself is a self-plagiarism of Ashman and Menken's "Somewhere That's Green" from Little Shop of Horrors. Reportedly, when writing "Part of Your World" they jokingly called it "Somewhere That's Dry."
    • "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast is very similar to The Little Mermaid's "Les Poissons". Conversely, "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" and "One Step Closer" from the stage musical of The Little Mermaid resemble "Belle" and "Beauty and the Beast", respectively. Fittingly, the latter is a Dance of Romance number like its B&B counterpart. In turn, "Evermore" from Beauty and the Beast (2017) sounds strikingly similar to "One Step Closer".
    • Likewise, in A Christmas Carol: The Musical, also scored by Alan Menken, "Christmas Together" sounds like a hybrid of "Fathoms Below" and "Part of Your World", and the intro of "Link By Link" resembles that of "Poor Unfortunate Souls".
  • As described in Tumblr about the history of Pixar:
    • Pixar, 1995: What if toys had feelings
    • Pixar, 1998: What if bugs had feelings
    • Pixar, 2001: What if monsters had feelings
    • Pixar, 2003: What if fish had feelings
    • Pixar, 2004: What if superheroes had feelings
    • Pixar, 2006: What if cars had feelings
    • Pixar, 2007: What if rats had feelings
    • Pixar, 2008: What if robots had feelings
    • Pixar, 2009: What if dogs had feelings
    • Pixar, 2012: What if Scotland had feelings
      • Other web film critics like Yourmoviesucks DO Torg and Screen Rant have point out that a lot of Pixar movies have the same formula with a basic premise: The protagonist gets separated from a loved one alongside another character that he/she dislikes and they have to make an adventurous journey until they both learn to respect each other and rejoin with the loved one and/or the rest of the cast.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Disney acquired the film rights to Bedknob and Broomstick to use as a backup in case they couldn't acquire the film rights to Mary Poppins. After the film adaptation of Mary Poppins proved to be a smash, they went ahead and made Bedknobs and Broomsticks anyway, leaving them with two films about British children under the care of a woman with magic powers. Some of the songs in Bedknobs were originally written for Poppins but were unused.
  • The song "Men in Tights" from Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights takes its tune from "Jews in Space" from his History of the World Part I.
    • Mel Brooks also recycles the same jokes over and over again. In one of his DVD commentary tracks he even admits to doing way too many gags involving the camera bumping into an object in the foreground.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has an uncanny resemblance to Forrest Gump. Both screenplays were written by Eric Roth.
  • Honest Trailers comments that The Matrix "spawned a thousand imitators, from its effects, to its tone, to its wardrobe, to its own sequels."
  • The director of the first Leprechaun also did Rumpelstiltskin. Both feature evil wish-granting dwarfs who kill people in various creative ways.
  • When Norm MacDonald made Dirty Work, he used, almost verbatim, a monologue from his first year as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, about prison rape.
  • One of the criticisms of Batman & Robin was it was a rehash of the plot of Batman Forever: an established villain (Two-Face/Mr. Freeze) goes on a crime spree that our hero or heroes must stop, a former Wayne Enterprises employee (The Riddler/Poison Ivy) snaps and decides to become a villain, someone new (Robin/Batgirl) comes to live at Wayne Manor, the new villain teams-up with the already active one, the new person learns Bruce Wayne is Batman (and in & Robin's case, Dick Grayson is Robin) and becomes a crime fighter, the new villain screws with the Batsignal (the Riddler making it the dot of a question mark/Poison Ivy replacing the Batsymbol with Robin's), Batman gets a new costume for the final battle (as do Robin and Batgirl in & Robin), the villains are beaten, and even the end shot is the same: the heroes running towards camera with the Batsignal behind them.
  • Shocker and, to a lesser extent, My Soul to Take are frequently regarded as attempts by Wes Craven to create a new Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • A speech that a war veteran gives in Maniac Cop 2 about being trapped for days under a pile of corpses is reused without any alterations whatsoever in the writer/director duo's later film Uncle Sam.
  • Highlander III: The Sorcerer almost feels like the original 1986 movie re-tooled into a seedy exploitation film. Both are about Connor facing a powerful and evil immortal that killed his mentor in the distant past with a climax involving a kidnapped loved one. Kane even re-enacts the iconic scene where the Kurgan scares Brenda by driving like maniac with Connor's adopted son. Not to mention Alex basically being an Expy of Brenda that fills the same plot role of discovering an out of place artifact (the armor and sword on Kane's dead henchmen in this case) that leads to her finding Connor and falling in love with him.
  • Several scenes in The Avengers (2012) mirror scenes from Joss Whedon's television series. Most notably, the scene where Loki sows the seeds of doubt and dissension in the minds of the heroes, causing them to bicker and fight while he's locked up beneath them, recreates a scene from Angel when Angelus does the same thing to Angel's companions from his prison cell.
  • Joss Whedon also borrows a Signature Scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for his movie The Cabin in the Woods, namely the scene where the secret government agency has a whole lot of monsters locked up in underground cages, and then those monsters all break out and attack.

  • Fifty Shades of Grey started life as a Twilight fanfiction called Master of the Universe. When edited for publication, it remained 89% identical to its former self.
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman invokes this trope when reviewing Genesis, making claims such as the song "That's All" sounding too much like their previous song "Misunderstanding".
  • Greg Bear has reused some of the science-fiction concepts he invents in one book in completely unrelated books. For instance, Moving Mars and Anvil of Stars both use the concept of 'hacking real life', while Darwin's Radio and Blood Music both use communication and reasoning among microorganisms as major plot points. Legacy and Moving Mars also both contain ecosystems based on Lamarckian evolution, as minor plot points.
  • A more literal example occurs with Arthur C. Clarke's novel 3001: The Final Odyssey, which simply cut and pastes several paragraphs concerning the Monolith builders' intentions from 2001. The same applies to a description of Europan life in 2010, which was reused almost verbatim in 2061 and 3001.
  • Michael Crichton's Westworld depicts an amusement park built around unique attractions, robots. After the initial magnificient impression, chaos and death ensues when the robots outgrow their design and safeguards. Skip ahead two decades and change robots to dinosaurs and you get the wildly successful Jurassic Park.
    • Timeline, in turn, replaces Jurassic Park's dinosaurs with Medieval knights, but is otherwise a very similar story. Scientists (archaeologists instead of paleontologists) are revealed that a Corrupt Corporate Executive has developed a groundbreaking new technology that might render their discipline pointless (cloned dinosaurs vs time travel), and are given the chance to explore it safely. However, a corrupted worker of the project lifts the security measures, putting everyone's lives at risk. Eventually, the project is destroyed and the chairman who developed it for profit is killed.
  • David Eddings has this happen in at least The Belgariad and The Mallorean. Indeed, the characters recognize and discuss the repetitions of stories in their own lives, even noting the reason for it happening. At one point, a character even exploits this, noticing how similar the current situation is to a previous one and choosing to handle it differently.
  • Frederick Forsyth fell prey to this in The Afghan, stealing several word for word passages from The Fist of God, and plot elements (such as one man telling the government that his brother can pass for an Arab, and then reminding the same people about it ten years later....).
  • H. P. Lovecraft, despite his originality on almost all other fronts, had a tendency to create his own cliches and recycle plots and plot events he'd already used before, perhaps several times. One excellent and particularly extreme example is "Dagon" and "The Call of Cthulhu", the latter being pretty much a Remake of the former.
  • The Shadow of the Lion, by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer, includes a fantasy reworking of Lackey's contributions to the science fiction shared-world "Merovingen Nights" begun by C. J. Cherryh, with the names changed but several passages taken almost word-for-word.
  • Philip K. Dick often reused elements from his short stories in his novels. For example, the dolls from "The Days of Perky Pat" play a major role in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and the concept of half-life from "What the Dead Men Say" is an important part of Ubik.
  • Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie features an identical love triangle dynamic to that of Death on the Nile.
  • The Bailey School Kids series reused an entire page whenever the character Howie visited his dad at the Federal Aerospace Technology Station, depicting their entrance and the facility itself.
  • Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks has, when writing for the novel ranges, tended to recycle stories he wrote for the TV series. In one case (the novel World Game) he literally cuts and pastes large sections from a previous novel.
  • Programming writer Herbert Schildt is notorious for this, frequently copy-pasting parts of his books to newer books, which might be almost forgivable if he wasn't so frequently wrong about some very basic things. His collected works are referred to by most programmers as "Bullschildt".
  • Raymond Chandler built his first few novels out of plot elements "cannibalized" from his short stories; Farewell, My Lovely, for instance, has the detective protagonist dealing with a missing-person case and a stolen-necklace case, each of which was originally a separate short story, while a third story provided the novel's climax. It helped that many of his short stories starred basically the same loner-detective type, with the name changing depending on which magazine he sold the story to; for the novels, he changed the name again, to Philip Marlowe, and a legend was born.
  • Every. Single. Book. by Dan Brown tells the tale of a Gary Stu university professor and a smart World's Most Beautiful Woman (who is not really that smart), brought together by a murder and a riddle, and forced to flee through a foreign country while being chased by a colorful assassin (usually with a disability), who works for a secret cabal (usually the Catholic Church, or a group within it) that does not want the riddle solved because it would reveal The Truth before the world (this Truth is revealed in the end, of course). After The Da Vinci Code, Brown even dispenses with naming the Gary Stu differently and just reuses Robert Langdon, who is nonetheless oblivious to the fact that the exact same plot keeps happening to him.
  • Terry Pratchett was so pleased with himself for coming up with this joke that he used it in two Discworld books. To wit: a flour cart crashes into a heggler's cart and also a milk cart, resulting in a huge mess. In Night Watch, a character comments that they could make an enormous cake. In The Truth, Sacharrissa uses "CITY'S BIGGEST CAKE MIX-UP" as a headline. William de Worde remarks on how this is just the right amount of unfunny to be a newspaper joke. Major Clive Mountjoy-Steadfast merely snaps "Tom!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • After Power Rangers became a hit, Saban followed up with more Tokusatsu adaptations: VR Troopers, Masked Rider, and Beetleborgs, to varying degrees of success.
  • During the height of the Ultra Series' popularity in the 1970s, numerous Follow the Leader "Kyodai Hero" shows were produced to cash in on Ultraman's success. Several of these were from Tsuburaya Productions themselves, including Mirrorman, Fireman, and Jumborg Ace.
  • Some of the gags in Lee Mack's sitcom Not Going Out also appear almost verbatim in his stand-up.
  • Aaron Sorkin did this a few times. Not recreating old works per se, but stealing verbatim lines from Sports Night to be used in The West Wing. I guess he thought the lines didn't get enough of an audience the first time.
  • After having extreme success with The Hollywood Squares (1966-80), creator Merrill Heatter designed two later game shows that shared the motif of trivia questions being asked of a celebrity panel: Battlestars (1981-82) and All-Star Blitz (1985). The former was almost literally Recycled In Space, and the latter combined the general idea with a word game.
  • Three interactive game shows debuted on the Family Channel in 1994; board game adaptation Boggle, list-ordering game Shuffle, and newspaper game adaptation Jumble. Each one played almost exactly the same way; use the telephone keypad to answer the questions, lowest scorer in each round is eliminated, last one standing wins a trip. The three shows all used the exact same music package and sound effects, and had the same host/announcer tandem (Wink Martindale & Randy West). They even shared the same set (though to be fair, each show DID have a few unique set pieces).
  • Terry Nation recycled the plots to the Dalek stories he wrote for Doctor Who. Eventually, the production team called him on it, forcing him to write a Dalek origin story.
  • Mutant X, Marvel making a live-action X-Men show despite no longer having the live-action rights to the X-Men.
  • Dan Schneider has a tendency to recycle episode plots from his earlier shows. One example is the iCarly episode "iSaved Your Life", which is very similar to the Drake & Josh episode "Josh Loves Mindy". Both episodes involve the main characters falling in love with a major character. The Anti-Hero character then guilts one of the involved parties into believing that the love may be superficial, forcing them to break-up to satisfy Status Quo Is God.

  • Nearly all of Johann Sebastian Bach's concertos for one or more harpsichords were transposed transcriptions of his concertos for other instruments, including the two violin concertos, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, the Flute Concerto, and the concertos for two violins and for violin and oboe.
  • A number of Joseph Haydn's piano trios are reworkings of his solo piano sonatas, or parts thereof.
  • The final movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's famous Piano Sonata in C K545 is almost identical to that of his Piano Sonata in F K135.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quintet in C minor Op. 104 was a reworking, in a different instrumental medium, of his Piano Trio in C minor Op. 1/3.
  • Franz Schubert reused a passage from the scherzo of his "Death and the Maiden" String Quartet in his 12 Ländler D790.
  • Johannes Brahms adapted the theme from the song "Wie Melodien zieht es mir" as the second theme from the Violin Sonata in A, Op. 100.
  • John Fogerty was once sued by his former label (the one who represented him when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival, before his solo career) for sounding too similar to himself. In other words, they thought "The Old Man Down the Road" (which he recorded as a solo act for his 1985 album Centerfield) sounded too much like "Run Through the Jungle" (to which they owned the rights.) Fogerty won the case by performing both songs in the courtroom, illustrating the notable difference (though the songs do sound somewhat alike).
    • Unlike most musicians, Fogerty no longer had the publishing rights to his CCR songs; he had surrendered those and all future royalties to get out of his contract with Fantasy Records. With the departure of head Saul Zaentz from the company, the two sides have reconciled.
    • "Born on the Bayou" also sounds like the aforementioned songs.
  • The band Renaissance had a hit with "Northern Lights". A couple of years later they recorded "Bonjour Swansong" which has an almost identical tune.
  • Mike Oldfield's "Man in the Rain", "Moonlight Shadow", and "Poison Arrows" all sound extremely alike. Oldfield also repeated in Tubular Bells II as a Leitmotif a melody from "Guilty".
  • The style of the covers on Twisted Sister's Christmas album are influenced from some of their older songs. For instance, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" is done in the style of "We're Not Gonna Take It", and even lampshades it by using a part of its solo too.
    • "We're Not Gonna Take It" itself already sounds a lot like "O Come All Ye Faithful".
  • Nickelback have been accused of this in most of their songs, especially "How You Remind Me" and "Someday." A mashup layering those two specific songs over each other went viral for a spell, though some editing and speeding up of tempos was needed to make the two songs fit together completely seamlessly.
  • The trance group Kaycee remixed Binary Finary's "1998", then made "Sunshine", which is a Suspiciously Similar Song to said tune.
  • The Kinks released "You Really Got Me" in the summer of 1964. "All Day and All of the Night" was released in October of the same year. These songs are practically identical, with nearly the same riffs and lyrics.
    • Ray Davies is a prolific self-plagiarist. The liner notes for one Kinks compilation point out that you can take any random Kinks song and find another very similar song elsewhere in their discography.
    • The riff to "All Day and All of the Night" was (probably deliberately) self-plagiarized in the verses and refrains to "Destroyer" in 1981.
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive's 1975 single "Hey You" blatantly recycles the arrangement and much of the tune from their 1974 single "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet". Randy Bachman's later band Ironhorse had a hit with "Sweet Lui-Louise", which also was a rewrite of "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet", including the use of stuttering in the lead vocal.
  • Beyoncé's "Halo" and Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone" sound similar (and were hits only months apart), and were both written/produced by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. Clarkson was against having "Already Gone" released as a single once she heard "Halo" and noticed the similarities, but Executive Meddling ensued.
  • Linkin Park's early releases are pretty much interchangeable. In fact, if you look at the waveforms...
    • This has actually been lampshaded by the band members themselves. While promoting A Thousand Suns, they pretty much said that they could go into the studio and whip up a pre-Minutes to Midnight song in five minutes.
  • Chuck Berry was notorious for recycling guitar riffs and even whole songs, most famously taking "School Day" and retooling it as "No Particular Place to Go".
  • Rank 1 produced a Suspiciously Similar Song of Cygnus X's "The Orange Theme" titled "Black Snow", but also did an official remix of it under their own names of Bervoets & de Goejj.
  • Talking Heads has "Life During Wartime", "Walk It Down", and "Girlfriend Is Better", which all sound very much alike.
  • "Cryin'" and "Crazy" by Aerosmith not only sound uncannily alike but also even have slightly similar names (both being titled a single, five-letter word beginning with "CR").
    • Not only that, they have virtually the same music video as well. Alicia Silverstone goes on delinquent sprees in both, though in the latter she is joined by Steven Tyler's then-unknown daughter Liv.
  • "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Fixing a Hole" sound very much alike, and they are from the very same Beatles album.
    • A couple albums later, the chorus melody of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" sounds a lot like the horn riff on the song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" between the first verse and chorus.
  • Another example of songs from the very same album: "Born to Be Wild" and "Faster Than the Speed of Life".
  • This YouTube video showcases a few examples of orchestral score composer James Horner's habit of repeating melodies he's already used in previous soundtracks of his. The film music compared is the scores to Avatar, Troy, Enemy at the Gates, and Willow.
  • In Tommy The Who used an instrumental from "Rael 1" (on the album The Who Sell Out) as a Leitmotif. In turn, that instrumental uses the chord sequence from the rave-up at the end of "My Generation."
  • Cascada JHV'ed Groove Coverage's "Runaway" in "Bad Boy", then plagiarised themselves with a song ironically also titled "Runaway".
  • Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" sounds a lot like their earlier hit "Clocks".
  • The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd says Animals is full of this ("Dogs" recycles "Seamus", "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" copies "Have a Cigar", and "Sheep" is a pastiche of their psychedelic years).
  • The famous "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music from Jeopardy!, composed by Merv Griffin, was self-plagiarised from a lullaby that Merv wrote for his son, Tony. The melody from the original lullaby, "A Time for Tony", was used as a prize bed on Wheel of Fortune for several seasons.
  • Notoriously common in the Baroque era, before copyright was invented. For instance, Johann Sebastian Bach reused both the melody and arrangement of his own secular cantata ''Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!'' (Sound, ye drums! Resound, ye trumpets!) for his Christmas Oratorio. The only thing that was changed was the lyrics (not written by Bach, but a hired poet, in this case probably a man known as Picander). The cantata is now mostly known with the Christmas lyrics Jauchzet, frohlocket (Rejoice and be merry!).
    • Shorter examples of such 'plagiarism' are known as musical parody. Quite a few of Bach's works use musical parody — for example, a short snippet of a recitative movement of one of Bach's cantatas often turns up in another recitative from a different Bach cantata.
  • Bernard Herrmann's opera Wuthering Heights has some music you might recognize from the films he scored. Given that the opera was never performed, this is understandable.
  • Subverted with Apollo 100. The band made rock versions of classical music pieces, like those composed by Bach and Beethoven. Their song Beethoven 9 leads in to Ode to Joy in the middle of the song, in the same way as the opening to their song Joy, it turns into Ode to Joy instead of Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring.
  • Merle Haggard has always been considered one of country's best lyricists. Musically,'s always seemed like he has maybe five or six tunes that he constantly recycles, sometimes altering progressions and tempos but not much else.
  • Songwriter Jim Steinman frequently raids his own history for choice bits that he recycles in new songs.
    • One of the best examples would be a bridge consisting mostly of the repeated line "Godspeed, godspeed, godspeed, speed us away", which has appeared in, among other songs, "Nowhere Fast" by Fire, Inc. (from the Streets of Fire soundtrack); "Bad for Good" from Steinman's own album of the same name, later covered by Meat Loaf; and "Graveyard Shift", a song from his in-development Batman stage musical.
    • The intro to "Stark Raving Love," from Bad for Good, became the intro for "Holding Out for a Hero," recorded by Bonnie Tyler for the Footloose soundtrack.
    • On a less specific level, Steinman has several distinctive motifs that he has employed almost to the point of cliche — thunderous drums and a massively multitracked chorus among others — although these may be less a case of self-plagiarism than simply his Signature Style.
  • Legendary AC/DC guitarist Angus Young once said, proudly, "People keep saying we've made the same record 13 times over but that's a filthy lie. We've made the same record 14 times over."note 
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain are frequent abusers of this — you really can't go one album without finding at least two (some times up to four) songs that sound almost exactly the same. This is particularly noticeable with their first three albums, which were all basically retreads of each other, just in different styles.
  • Scar Symmetry (yes, Scar Symmetry) did this once. One of the opening riffs on the title track to Holographic Universe sounds nearly identical to the riff played during the breakdown of "Calculate the Apocalypse".
  • Save for a couple of albums, you probably won't be able to tell one Slayer song from another without looking at the title or listening hard to the lyrics.
  • Disturbed often uses the same ending notes for their choruses. For example, "Decadence" and "Asylum" end their choruses with the exact same notes.
  • Hybrid's single, "Blind Side", is a bit too similar to "Break My Soul" from their Disappear Here album.
  • Basshunter's DOTA and All I Ever Wanted are the same song with different lyrics. In turn, "DOTA" is based on Daddy DJ's self-titled song.
    • As well, Boten Anna was self-plagiarized into Now You're Gone.
  • Weezer's Rivers Cuomo wrote, then discarded, Songs from the Black Hole, a Rock Opera that was going to be their second album. The first song to leak from this was "Blast Off!", and it turned out that they had reused a riff that occurs in the last verse of the song as the basis for "El Scorcho". It was probably considered fair game for recycling because of the whole Lost Episode thing — in fact, a few other Songs From The Black Hole numbers were just plain reused out-of-context on Pinkerton or as BSides.
    • Their 2017 single "Weekend Woman" is effectively a drastically reworked version of "Burning Sun", an outtake from their 2001 self-titled album: The verse melody is identical, but the arrangement is very different, most of the lyrics are changed, and new bridge and chorus sections have been added.
  • Country Music singer Keith Anderson self-plagiarized his hit "Every Time I Hear Your Name" for his later hit "I Still Miss You". Both are very similar-sounding songs about being reminded of a lover even after she's left, but the latter is a little more open-ended and could also apply to a friend or family member. (The latter also has different co-writers.)
  • One of the biggest causes of controversy between fans of Dragonforce and non-fans is how much they're guilty of this. The nonfans will go as far as to say they have one song, which they make minor key changes on and present as a different one.
  • Since they both steal from everyone it shouldn't be surprising to discover that Peter Schickele has stolen from P.D.Q. Bach at least twice. One of Schickele's earliest compositions, the overture to The Civilian Barber was written based off of P.D.Q.'s notesnote  and the Variations in Schickele's Serenade for Three come from the title character's "I Am" Song in P.D.Q.'s dramatic oratorio, Oedipus Tex.
  • Five Finger Death Punch pretty clearly recycled the riff in the bridge of "The Way of the Fist" to use for the main riff of "Burn It Down".
  • Cory Hall sometimes plagiarises his own piano music compositions.
  • The second half of "The Way Home" by Thyx, a solo project by Stefan Poiss of, uses the same rhythm and synth progression of MIAB's "Doubt".
  • Toby Keith's "God Love Her" is pretty much a rewrite of his 2004 single "Whiskey Girl". Similar tempo and arrangement, and both are about The Lad-ette.
  • Session musician Hargus "Pig" Robbins improvised the intro to Ronnie Milsap's 1976 single "(I'm a) Stand by My Woman Man", and unintentionally ended up making one nearly identical to the one he played on Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" three years prior. According to a 2004 Milsap compilation album, the similarities nearly led to a lawsuit.
  • Loreena McKennitt's song "Beneath a Phrygian Sky" is more than reminiscent of her earlier famous song "The Bonny Swans".
    • "Standing Stones" is very similar to the earlier "Stolen Child", as is "Never-Ending Road" to her setting of the Yeats poem "The Two Trees".
  • As Todd in the Shadows pointed out, Rednex followed up their reworking of Cotton-Eye Joe with "Old Pop in an Oak", which had an almost identical melody and instrumentation to the former. "The Way I Mate" also falls victim to this.
  • Guitarist Stuart Zechman, a member of Stabbing Westward who also did some work with the band Filter, wrote an identical chorus riff for both Stabbing Westward's "Ungod" and Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot". The bands mutually agreed not to sue for plagiarism, and Stabbing Westward very rarely plays "Ungod" live, since "Hey Man, Nice Shot" was released as a single and became the much better-known song.
  • Rage Against the Machine worked on an officially untitled collaboration (usually referred to as "Revolution" or "You Can't Kill the Revolution", due to the lyrics in the chorus) with Tool for the soundtrack to the film Judgment Night: The song was scrapped because neither band were satisfied with it, but RATM reused its lengthy instrumental coda as the verse music for "New Millennium Homes". "Thinking of You" by A Perfect Circle also has a similar rhythm to this same collaboration, which could simply be coincidence, although Maynard James Keenan did co-write it.
  • For the "Würm" section of "Starship Trooper" by Yes, Steve Howe reused a recurring riff from "Nether Street", a song by his pre-Yes band Bodast.
    • Guitar riffs Steve used on Yes' Union ("I Would Have Waited Forever", in particular) can also be heard in Steve's 1991 solo album, Turbulence.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Hump De Bump" has similarities to their earlier song "American Ghost Dance", including an identical bass-line in the verse section. In fact, a Working Title for "Hump De Bump" was "Ghost Dance 2000" for this very reason.
  • Don Henley's solo hits "Dirty Laundry" and "Drivin' with Your Eyes Closed" have the same verse melody as his earlier "Life in the Fast Lane" with the Eagles.
  • Giorgio Moroder has reused a five-note descending-ascending riff in a number of his more obscure recordings, in much more widely known songs.
  • In a similar instance to their Theatre example, U2 does it again. They copied the riff off "Raised by Wolves" from the very first track off their very first album, "I will Follow".
  • Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" and "Mind Your Own Business". Some of this is just due to both being uptempo songs using the 12-Bar Blues progression, but the chorus melodies are similar enough that you could switch lyrics between the two.
  • Ronnie Milsap's "A Woman in Love" sounds nearly identical to Clay Walker's "What's It to You", particularly on the chorus. Both songs were written by Curtis Wright.
  • After Howard Devoto left Buzzcocks and started Magazine, Pete Shelley played him a descending guitar riff and told him he could use it for his new band: It became the the chorus of "Shot By Both Sides" by Magazine, but Shelley also used it for the Buzzcocks song "Lipstick".
  • Vince DiCola worked in the soundtracks of Rocky IV and The Transformers: The Movie with a short gap between them. As a result, the respective antagonists' musical themes "Ivan Drago Suite" and "Unicron Medley", both composed by him, sound very similar.
  • John Barry re-used the main chord progression from his theme song for You Only Live Twice in the Midnight Cowboy theme song. There are also some obvious similarities in his scores for Walkabout and Out of Africa.
  • The Bangles' "Manic Monday", written by Prince, has a verse melody nearly identical to "1999".
  • Brazilian rock band Engenheiros do Hawaii did this in the same album: In O Papa É Pop (which translates as "The pope is pop", the pope in question being John Paul II), the song "Perfeita Simetria" ("Perfect symmetry") has the same music of the title song "O Papa É Pop", but a completely different lyrics. The symmetry in the song's title has a double meaning: it refers to the harmonic relationship the coulpe in the lyrics used to have, and, in a meta sense, it's a nod to the identical melody of both songs.
  • Barbara Mandrell's "Tonight" (1977) and John Conlee's "Lady Lay Down" (1978) are both lush waltz-tempo Country Music ballads, but they're also really close in structure and melody. You might accuse the Conlee song of being a ripoff of the Mandrell song, until you learn they were both written by Rafe VanHoy and Don Cook.
  • Hans Zimmer does this so often, Christopher Nolan had to forbid Zimmer from doing this for Interstellar.
  • T. Rex's "The Motivator" is practically a rewrite of "Get It On (Bang A Gong)," and "banging gongs" is mentioned in "Rip Off," and all three songs are on the same album, Electric Warrior.

  • Gilbert and Sullivan plundered Gilbert's old "Bab Ballads" for plot ideas on a few occasions.
  • In Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Bono and The Edge sometimes just take some of U2's songs and put different lyrics (one is blatantly the same as "Vertigo"!).
  • Some of the music in Chess borrows from songs written by composers Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus for ABBA. In particular, the chorus of "I Know Him So Well" was based on the chorus of "I Am An A" and the chorus of "Anthem" used the chord structures from the guitar solo from "Our Last Summer".
    • Their musical Kristina från Duvemåla features some music recycled from Andersson's solo albums. The most noticeable is "Ljusa Kvällar Om Våren," which is based on the second segment of the titular suite from Klinga Mina Klockor.
  • George Frederic Handel did this by re-casting 'Come Zephyrs, Come', which got cut from Semele as 'How Bless'd the Maid' from Hercules, with only small changers to the middle section. Both are very pretty arias, probably intended for the same actress. Both operas flopped (they're arguably better than his more famous works but opera was rapidly going out of favour as it was getting denounced as decadent by many in the Anglican church at the time), so neither version is heard much.
  • The plots of Shakespeare's Othello and Cymbeline are nigh-identical until the climax. Both feature a forbidden love between a woman of high standing and an inadequate man, who is then convinced that his love is unfaithful by a wicked Italian, and decides to kill her as a result. Bonus points for the Italian antagonists being called Iago and Iachimo, the latter possibly meaning 'little Iago'.

    Video Games 
  • Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune got so fed up with Capcom that he broke away and tried to create what was essentially a new version of Mega Man, called Mighty Number 9. Of course, since Mighty Number 9 flopped and was followed shortly thereafter by Mega Man 11 (which was more successful and actually released by Capcom) this was all for nothing.note 
  • Quake and Doom. Practically the only thing that distinguished the first Quake from the latter series was that it had mouse-look and used true 3D instead of sprites.
  • Between the SNES Super Punch-Out!! and the Wii remake, Nintendo made a similar boxing game called Teleroboxer for the Virtual Boy.
  • After Turok 2 came out, Acclaim made another comic book-based FPS called Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M that ran on the same engine.
  • The Virtual Boy shooter Vertical Force is very similar to the earlier shmups Soldier Blade and Star Soldier. All of them were made by Hudson Soft.
  • In 1995, Atari Games released Area 51 which is a Light Gun Game that uses digitalized actors for the characters and 3D for everything else. Two years later, they released another light-gun shooter named Maximum Force which had a different theme but was pretty much identical otherwise. Both games used the COJag (Coin Operated Jaguar) system board, and many of the machines ended up converted into 2-in-1 machines with both Area 51 and Maximum Force.
  • Some reviews accused Fossil Fighters of being an in-house Pokémon clone from Nintendo, since they're both Mons games—and the initial evil you fight is very similar to Team Rocket. However, aside from that, there's not a whole lot that the two games share mechanics-wise, and even story-wise after about the halfway point.
  • Harmonix created Karaoke Revolution for Konami and the first two Guitar Hero games. After Activision purchased Red Octane, Harmonix were left with the rights to those games' source code, but not their brand names. Their next project was Rock Band, which used a tweaked version of Guitar Hero's gameplay for guitar, and a tweaked version of Karaoke Revolution's for vocals.
  • Like Rock Band above, the Call of Duty series was created by former Medal of Honor developers. In turn, the later MoH games had gameplay rather similar to CoD, with the reboot going up as direct competition to Modern Warfare.
  • In 1997, 3DRealms released a first-person shooter called Shadow Warrior, a game based on the Build engine, about a loud-mouthed guy with big guns who likes breaking stuff and quipping sarcastic remarks about enemies he just killed. What does that remind you of?
  • Between Colony Wars: Vengeance and Red Sun, Psygnosis released a very similar space flight simulator called Blast Radius done on the same engine.
  • Donkey Kong 64 is widely considered to be a Banjo-Kazooie clone, thanks to the massive amount of collectables and level design in DK64, both staples of Banjo-Kazooie. Both games were made by Rare.
  • The Capcom Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law game plays more or less like a sillier version of Ace Attorney.
  • Taito's Ashura Blaster is very similar to Toaplan's Twin Cobra, which was also published by Taito.
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee uses a version of "Bowser in the Dark World" from Super Mario 64 for its main menu.
  • Viper Phase 1 is this towards Raiden, except set in space. Both were made by Seibu Kaihatsu, and it shows. How so? It got an Updated Re-release to make it more in line with the Raiden games, not to mention the PlayStation port of the first game getting the former's soundtrack as an unlockable.
  • Data Design Interactive made a few games for the Wii; Ninjabread Man, Trixie in Toyland, Anubis II, and Rock 'n' Roll Adventures. Sadly, if you play one, you've played them all; they're all just re-skins of the same lame game. All four games even share the same HUD display... and some of the same music as well! Some of the music is also used in their equally terrible Billy the Wizard.
  • A few months after releasing the PS1 shooter Kileak on the Playstation, developer Genki made Robotica for the Sega Saturn, another mech-based dungeon crawling FPS about the sole survivor of an assault team exploring a remote complex swarming with hostile automatons.

    Web Original 
  • Quoth Dark Lord Jadow 1, regarding developer Digital Homicide's use of the same game:
    In my Digital Homicide Library review I covered a game of theirs called Krogwars, a shitty Space Invaders clone with a glitch that often failed to load the next level, leaving you stuck on a blank screen. The game was literally unplayable. After Krogwars got onto Steam, they released Wyatt Derp (which was the exact same game as Krogwars only with the spaceships replaced with cowboys), Wyatt Derp 2 (Which was the exact same game as Wyatt Derp 1 only with the camera rotated a bit), and Withering Kingdoms: Arcane War (which was the same game as Krogwars and Wyatt Derp only this time it was wizards). All three of these games passed through Steam Greenlight because it’s easy to make a Space Invaders clone look playable in a 30 second trailer, and so Digital Homicide began absolutely spamming Krogwars clones onto Greenlight feeling they had struck a gold mine of easy revenue.
  • Game Grumps: The Grumps played Ninjabread Man precisely because it was by the same developer as Trixie in Toyland, which they had played the previous day. Dan remarks that the game is literally just a reskin of Trixie. Arin goes on to point out that even the music and sound effects are identical.
    Dan: It is a fucking totally, just, reskinned Trixie in Toyland. It is exactly the same game.
    Arin: Like, like they said to themselves "this game is so genius that it cannot be contained in one game."
    Dan: This is the Super Mario Bros. of "games that are bullshit".
  • How Did This Get Made?: While reviewing Maximum Overdrive, the hosts discuss how Stephen King refines his ideas, as Maximum Overdrive has plot points similar to both Christine (intelligent, malicious machines and vehicles) and The Mist (protagonists trapped by the threat).
    Jason Mantzoukas: He's always honing an idea, but he's putting his first draft out here. "I'm going to do that same exact thing, but I'm going to do it a little bit different over here."
    Andrew Daly: He's not like Harper Lee. We don't gotta wait 50 years for the first draft.
    Jason: Finally, a good Harper Lee book.

    Western Animation 

     Real Life 
  • Some college professors will let you submit a revised version of work from previous course or a modified version of what you're producing for another class if you ask, but this is generally not advisable and more likely than not to be treated as an offense just as bad as classic plagiarism.


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