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Spiritual Successor

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In any event, recently I noticed that there were certain movies which, although not designed to be, are like sequels to earlier, unrelated films. Movies that show you what would have happened years later if only you use a little imagination and poetic license...

A Spiritual Successor is a type of sequel that is not part of the same world or story as its predecessor, but is nonetheless considered to be a successor because it shares common themes, styles, and elements, and may even be made by the same creators. In other words, it’s a sequel “in spirit”.


The reasons for this are varied. Sometimes creators are unable to retain the rights to their original work, which makes a direct sequel impossible. A creator may strongly echo another's work as a sort of "professional Fanfic", implying a connection or parallel while keeping a respectful (and copyright-avoiding) distinction from the original. Other times, they may not want to directly continue the original work (and risk Sequelitis), but their distinctive style and thematic interests remain. Producers may try to adapt a different work following the model of a previous success of theirs, while maintaining a prudent separation between the two Canons. And then sometimes it occurs completely by accident.

Present in all sorts of media, although the term “Spiritual Successor” may have originated within video games (also known as companion games), because developers might own the engine and game code with publishers owning the trademarks to the franchise.


A spiritual successor may succumb to Better by a Different Name.

The series version of an Expy. Often overlaps with Serial Numbers Filed Off. Compare Spiritual Adaptation. Contrast They Copied It, So It Sucks!, Dolled-Up Installment, In Name Only, Dueling Shows, and Thematic Series. See also Production Posse.

The opposite is Spiritual Antithesis, though it is possible to be Spiritual Successor to one work and Spiritual Antithesis to another at the same time.



Alternative Title(s): Spiritual Sequel, Spiritual Predecessor


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