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Suspiciously Similar Substitute

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Martin Lloyd: How am I supposed to tell a story without my lead character?
Cam Mitchell: Easy, just bring in a character to replace him.
[everyone looks at Cam in silence]
Cam Mitchell: ...What?
Stargate SG-1, "200"

A character who joins the cast as a replacement for a character who has left the main cast despite being integral to the plot or concept of the series. Invariably, this character fills the Stock Character slot left vacant by the departed, whether that be comic relief, intellectual, or musclebound bruiser. The reasons why the original character left can vary from narrative reasons (Face–Heel Turn, Killed Off for Real, Career-Ending Injury) to real life availability of the performer (Role-Ending Misdemeanor, Died During Production, Troubled Production), and it was deemed easier to create a new character rather than ignoring the current storyline to bring them back or just replacing the performer.

The vast majority of these replacements still take up the role of the previous character but how much they resemble their predecessor varies widely. Often, the character has some twist or gimmick to make it seem as if the character is unique, and the writers aren't actually grasping at straws to salvage the year's worth of scripts already written.

Some shows will take risks in such replacements, making the replacements truly different characters, rather than a similar character with a twist. That is much harder on the writers, since they can't simply tweak the scripts they had already written for the old character. Usually when this happens it is very intentional on the part of the production.

Justified in military and other settings where there are formal hierarchies and specific roles.

A Suspiciously Similar Substitute is dangerously prone to becoming hated by the fanbase, creating a Replacement Scrappy, and for a very understandable reason. If they're too similar, fans may become annoyed at the removal of a well liked character if their replacement is just the same guy with a different name and face. They may wonder why the character needed to be replaced if the story can still be told with the previous character, and get annoyed at the unneeded change of character. And due to being a new character the work may need to dedicate some time properly introducing this person, which may come across as Character Shilling. Although for the opposite of this effect, see More Popular Replacement.

For very suspiciously similar substitutes, see Backup Twin. Compare Discard and Draw, which does the same sort of thing with superpowers instead of characters and Legacy Character, where the new character actually adopts the persona of the old one. The inversion, where the same character fills a different role, is Same Character, But Different.

See also: Expy, Convenient Replacement Character, Temporary Substitute, The Other Darrin, The Nth Doctor, Put on a Bus, Dropped a Bridge on Him, Role-Ending Misdemeanor, Replacement Goldfish, Long-Runner Cast Turnover (the result of Several Suspiciously Similar Substitutes over time), Anti-Hero Substitute (when the substitute is Darker and Edgier), Suspiciously Similar Song (substitute in the form of a song), and Meet the New Boss (for villainous examples).

Contrast with the Contrasting Replacement Character.


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  • Brand name products can be expensive. It's not uncommon to see shelves at home stocked not with brand name Cheerios, but with store-brand imitations like "Tasteeos."
  • PepsiCo has the rights to distribute the 7 Up soft drink in every country except the U.S. (where the rights are held by Dr. Pepper). There, Pepsi instead sells the suspiciously similar soda Sierra Mist.
  • Mr. Pibb was Coca-Cola's version of Dr. Pepper, mostly sold in places where Coke bottlers don't bottle Dr. Pepper. Then its formula was changed and it became "Pibb Xtra". Nonetheless, many generic versions of Dr. Pepper exist, usually with "Dr." somewhere in the name (Pibb was originally "Dr. Pibb", but Dr. Pepper sued Coca-Cola for that.)
  • There's also Russian-produced Old Pepper's Crew, with almost copycat design of logo. It has a website (in Russian, which strongly enforces similarities.
  • Russia, after McDonald's closed all its restaurants in the country in March 2022, introduced "Uncle Vanya", with a nearly identical logo to McDonald's, as a franchise to use all the vacant restaurants. A trademark was filed, but plans were recalled in May. That same month, McDonald's announced they were leaving the country for good. Later in June, a definite replacement for McD was introduced there, called "Vkusno i točka" (meaning "Tasty and that's it"). That restaurant's logo is obviously way different, but still reminiscent of McD's logo (due to it also being a "M").
  • When IKEA and Starbucks left Russia in 2022 in the wake of the country's war against Ukraine, they were replaced with "IDEJA" and "Stars Coffee", respectively. Both of their logos seem to look like shameless parodies/bootlegs.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The character Priss from Bubblegum Crisis was originally going to be killed off and replaced by Vision, who was suspiciously similar (brown hair, kind of feisty, was a singer) but ultimately fans liked the character, so she wasn't killed off after all, thus avoiding the trope entirely.
  • The Clear Cards in Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card share similarities to the Clow/Sakura cards that came before them. This turns out to be a Justified Trope: Sakura unconsciously created them with her growing magic, and, being so familiar with her Sakura cards, naturally the Clear Cards were going to turn out similar.
  • Tomboyish teen sleuth Masumi Sera from Case Closed was created as a replacement for Natsuki Koshimizu, a tomboyish one-shot detective from earlier in the series. According to Gosho Aoyama, Sera was created because Natsuki had become unexpectedly popular with the fans, but the fact that she killed someone and was subsequently arrested for the crime made it impossible to use her in future stories.
  • Corpse Princess's Keisei dies, allowing Ouri to come closer to Makina and to also be brought into the story as a major player instead of a male damsel in distress and hapless bystander. About 2 episodes later Keisei's mentor is introduced. He has a very similar hairstyle and replaces the former as the even more perverted comic relief and Ouri's new mentor.
  • Vincent Volaju is one for Vicious in the Cowboy Bebop movie.
  • After Tup Dop, a supporting character of D.Gray-Man was killed, he was replaced by his equally chubby and androgynous sister, Cash Dop.
  • Near from Death Note. This is intentional — Near tries to imitate L and eventually admits that he failed to imitate L, but succeeded through Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. The reasoning in the story being rather interesting, Near has more tendency to 'cheat' in his methods, the example being that if he were in L's shoes, he'd have released all information on the Death Note to the public and let the ensuing mass manhunt capture Kira. He tries to imitate L because he knows that in the real world, his methods would cause far too much collateral damage even if they succeeded. According to Word of God the initial plan was for Near and Mello to be L's sons but the concept was dropped early on.
  • Digimon is infamous for this. Every male protagonist is a Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero with Goggles Do Nothing and brown hair, both in the anime and in the video games. The main exception was Digimon Data Squad and Digimon Ghost Game, with Marcus and Hiro deliberately breaking the goggle trend.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Akira Toriyama planned on having Goku and Vegeta fuse during the Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z; however, at the time Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn was about to come out and one of the film's big selling points was that it was going to be the first appearance of Goku and Vegeta's Fusion, Gogeta. Not wanting to step on Toei's toes, Toriyama invented Vegito, who's created when Goku and Vegeta use a completely different method of fusion. Interestingly, for many years, Vegito seemed to be the "official" fusion, appearing in the manga and Dragon Ball Super while Gogeta remained in the dubious canon territory of Fusion Reborn and Dragon Ball GT (though of course, both appeared in video games). It was not until the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie that Gogeta appeared in a work officially declared canon by Toriyama. The Super version of Gogeta plays this trope even straighter than before, having basically the same cocky personality as Vegito instead of being a serious, no-nonsense fighter like the Fusion Reborn version of Gogeta.
    • Uub, introduced in the finale of Z, is one of both Piccolo (Junior) and Nam from the original Dragon Ball series. A reincarnation of a villain Goku defeated, he meets the latter in a World Tournament, and his introduction heralds a turning point/end of a series. He is also an Indian that needed the money for his village like Nam.
    • As Mistare Fusion pointed out in his Dragon Ball Dissection videos, The Kaioshin fulfills the same role in the early Buu Saga that Future Trunks did in the previous arc: Mysterious bishie who somehow knows of Goku, has no patience for the reckless behaviour of the rest of the cast, and has come to warn them of an imminent threat to earth. Unlike Trunks, he never joins the main cast for battles of any sort after this and is Demoted to Extra.
    • The villains from most of the DBZ movies are stand-ins/retreads of villains from the original manga: Garlic Jr. is a much more menacing Pilafnote , Tullece copies Vegeta (while also being a take on "What if Goku had stayed evil?"), Lord Slug is a transparent copy of Demon King Piccolo, Cooler is (obviously) a copy of his younger brother Freeza, and Janemba is a riff on Majin Buu. No. 13 has some vague similarities to Cell, mostly in that he absorbs parts from his "brothers" to assume a more powerful form.
    • On the flip side, the Saiyans from Universe 6 that appear in Dragon Ball Super bear a resemblance with Saiyans who never appeared in the original manga, with Cabba being pretty similar to Vegeta's younger brother Tarble (Sans the weird wife), and Kale is essentially a female, canonical version of Broly from the movies. Caulifla doesn't follow this pattern, though. Unless she's meant to be a female counterpart to Goku, since they're both prodigies at fighting who quickly learn new techniques just by watching somebody else use them.
  • After Raoh was killed off in Fist of the North Star, the authors introduced a very similar antagonist named Kaioh, who also rode a huge elephant-sized horse. He is eventually revealed to be Raoh's previously unmentioned blood-related older brother.
  • Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma: The first chapter introduces Mayumi Kurase who is Souma's Unlucky Childhood Friend who admires Souma's cooking and she's a Shrinking Violet. But as soon as Souma transfers to Tootsuki in chapter 3, Kurase is left behind in Souma's hometown, and Megumi Tadokoro is introduced in the same chapter, a Shrinking Violet who admires Souma's cooking. Not only are their given names very similar, they both have the same yellow eyes.
  • After performing a Heroic Sacrifice in Getter Robo, Musashi was replaced by a new pilot named Benkei. Across the various iterations of the franchise, both characters tend to have a similar pattern of being a fat Butt-Monkey who is prone to injury and death. They're so similar that at least one adaptation cut out the middleman and made the two of them into a Composite Character.
  • After Takashi was killed early on in GoLion, he was replaced by his brother Ryou. The two were so similar that the American adaptation, Voltron, combined them into one character ("Sven").
  • In Inuyasha, Byakuya comes in after Kagura's death and not only looks and acts like her, but has similar powers and plays the same role that she played.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • The Runaway Girl (named Anne in the anime) from Stardust Crusaders is a very obvious attempt to replicate Poco and Smokey, the Tagalong Kid characters from the previous two Parts.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable:
      • Yoshihiro Kira is this to Stardust Crusaders' Gray Fly, being an older gentleman with a similar appearance who is completely devoted to helping the Big Bad.
      • Terunosuke Miyamoto is this to Stardust Crusaders' Steely Dan, being a smug Psycho for Hire with a similar hairstyle.
    • Golden Wind:
      • Illuso is very similar to Stardust Crusaders' J. Geil, being a Smug Snake with a mirror based Stand. Even their introductions are very similar.
      • Cioccolata is an intelligent but violent man with a powerful but hard to control Stand ability. Many believe he is meant to act as this for Fugo after Araki scraped the plans for him to act as The Mole for the boss.
      • Diavolo acts as this for Dio Brando, seemingly for the purpose of having Giorno face off against someone with a similar personality to his father.
    • Stone Ocean:
      • Johngalli A acts as this to N'Doul from Stardust Crusaders, being a blind man completely loyal to DIO. They even have similar canes.
      • Narciso Anasui is basically a heroic version of Golden Wind's Diavolo, a pink-haired man with an aggressive attitude who wears a mesh shirt.
    • A large amount of the characters from Parts 7 and 8 act as this for characters from the Original Universe. Of the characters from Steel Ball Run:
      • Stephen Steel is this to Battle Tendency era Speedwagon, an older Non-Action Guy whose wealth and power allows him to assist the heroes from behind the scenes.
      • Mountain Tim is this to Phantom Blood era Speedwagon, a firmly good-aligned character with a tophat. The scar he gets during his fight with Oyecomova also looks similar to Speedwagon's own scar.
      • Diego Brando is this to Dio Brando, though he proves to be far less evil and much more sympathetic.
      • Urmd Avdol is this to Stardust Crusaders' Muhammed Avdol, though he's much more of a Jerkass than Muhammed was.
      • Fritz von Strohiem is this to Battle Tendency's Rudolf von Strohiem, though whereas Rudolf was a Nazi, Fritz is a Western Terrorist.
      • Pork Pie Hat Kid is this to Golden Wind's Pesci, both being Gonks with fish-hook based Stands.
    • Of the characters from JoJolion:
      • Josuke Higashikata is, surprisingly enough, not this for the Josuke Higashikata of Diamond Is Unbreakable. Instead, he's one for Golden Wind's Diavolo. Both have Mysterious Pasts, both have Stand abilities based around "removing" things, and while Diavolo was two people inhabiting the same body, Josuke is two people fused together.
      • The members of Higashikata family in general are similar to Team Bucciarati from Golden Wind, the most notable being Daiya, who has many traits reminiscent of Bruno and Narancia. On another note, Daiya's appearance is very similar to Sugar Mountain from Steel Ball Run.
      • Jobin Higashikata is this to Diamond Is Unbreakable's Yoshikage Kira, a stylish businessman with a hidden "wacky" side, whose goal is based around living his idea of a "quiet life".
      • Mitsuba Higashikata is this to Diamond Is Unbreakable's Aya Tsuji, having a storyline based around beauty and a... fascination with breasts.
      • Kyo Nijimura is this to Stardust Crusaders era Jotaro, the child of Holy Joestar, who she's fiercely protective of. She also has a similar personality and color scheme.
      • While how it works is different, how people make use of the Stand, Les Feuilles, is similar to how Diamond Is Unbreakable's Tamami Kobayashi uses his Stand, The Lock.
      • Rina Higashikata is this to Erina Pendleton, having a similar name and marrying into the Joestar family.
      • Josefumi Kujo is this to Stardust Crusaders' Noriaki Kakyoin, having been saved by the son of Holy Joestar, and later dying in his idea of happiness.
      • Kaato Higashikata is this to Diamond Is Unbreakable's Yoshihiro Kira, being fiercely protective of her children, willing to go to extreme lengths to do so, and is the cause of her child's Start of Darkness.
      • Zaihei Nigatake is this to Diamond Is Unbreakable's Toyohiro Hanedaichi, a man with a Blessed with Suck Stand ability that can be transferred to other people, only to end up stuck with his Stand again by the end of his arc.
      • Blue Hawaii, the Stand of Dolomite, is similar to Justice, the Stand of Enya from Stardust Crusaders, being able to control bodies to attack opponents. The fight against the Stand, however, is very similar to the fight against Highway Star from Diamond Is Unbreakable.
      • Similarly to Zaihei, Rai Mamezuku is this to Diamond Is Unbreakable's Toyohiro Kanedaichi, both living in high-altitude, steel homes with methods of harvesting crops. On another note, Rai's Stand, Doggy Style, is essentially a slightly less combatant version of Jolyne Cujoh's Stone Free from Stone Ocean.
      • Urban Guerrilla is this to Golden Wind's Cioccolata, being a Mad Doctor with a virus-based Stand and a "pet" with the ability to liquify the ground.
      • Doremifasolati Do is this to Golden Wind's Secco, a "pet" to an Ax-Crazy doctor with the ability to liquify the ground.
      • Poor Tom may be this to Stardust Crusaders' Mannish Boy, though whereas Mannish Boy was a baby with adult intelligence, Poor Tom is an adult who just looks like a baby.
      • Similar to Urban Guerrilla, Wu Tomoki is this to Golden Wind's Cioccolata, a doctor who performs unethical treatments on his patients, and has a Stand that allows him to perform Detachment Combat.
      • Satoru Akefu is this to Diavolo from Golden Wind, the leader of a criminal organization who prefers to hide in the shadows, while being the User of a fate controlling Stand. Also, like Diavolo, Satoru has a younger "alter-ego", but whereas Diavolo has his Split Personality, Doppio, Satoru has his User, Tooru. On another note, his Stand is similar to both Killer Queen Bites the Dust from Diamond Is Unbreakable, an ability that discourages direct combat and must be defeated with unconventional means, Silver Chariot Requiem from Golden Wind, an autonomous Stand with a mind of its own that wears all black, and D4C: Love Train from Steel Ball Run, an ability based around altering probability and using the environment to attack opponents.
      • Tooru is one to Doppio from Golden Wind, a young, seemingly unimportant member of a criminal organization who turns out to be much more important than they appear, but whereas Doppio was The Dragon, Tooru is the true Big Bad. On another note, he also shares a number of similarities with Kars from Battle Tendency, a member of an inhuman species with a vision rejected by society, and has a respect for nature despite his general hatred for humanity.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, Kindaichi gains himself an unofficial assistant/Camera Fiend named Ryuta Saki, whose habit of recording videos wherever he goes proves to be a great help for Kindaichi's sleuthing. After Ryuta is murdered in the "Hotel Europa Murder Case", his role is taken by his younger brother, Ryuji Saki, who has the exact same hobby as his brother. The only difference is that Ryuji is slightly more cheerful.
  • In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, the Hückebein family more or less have the same role as the Wolkenritter during A's, albeit more grim.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Neil Dilandy, killed late in the 1st series, is replaced by his twin brother Lyle Dilandy.
  • In Naruto, Sai, the quiet, serious and emotionally distant ninja replaced Sasuke, the quiet, serious and emotionally distant ninja. It doesn't help that they look so similar, either. Much like Sasuke during the early arcs, Sai's rocky friendship with Naruto and Sakura has slowly eroded his stoicism. The similarities between Sai and Sasuke have been lampshaded in-series. During his introduction this was played for drama, with Naruto and Sakura openly hostile at Sai attempting to replace Sasuke. Afterward it was played for comedy, such as Konohamaru's use of both Sai and Sasuke in his male version of the Sexy Jutsu.
  • In Patlabor, Takeo Kumagami replaces Kanuka Clancy after Clancy returns to America. They have very similar skills and fulfill the same police positions, although Kumagami is given a few quirks to distinguish her.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The female coordinator character May (who replaced the significantly different Misty) was replaced by the female coordinator character Dawn.
    • Dawn was then replaced by Iris, who in a roundabout way, is actually closer to Misty in terms of personality. Iris would later be replaced by Serena, who also has a personality similar to May and Dawn.
    • Brock was replaced with Cilan, who is the same with more food focus and less lechery. Cilan was later replaced by Clemont (another gym leader who became fascinated by Ash's battle style and the resident Team Chef). For the Orange League, Brock was replaced by Tracey.
    • While it skipped several years, Bonnie is essentially a Distaff Counterpart to Max. Her relationship with Clemont is similar to May and Max's, with the biggest difference being the genders reversed.
    • Ash's classmates in Sun and Moon share many elements with his companions from past sagas. For example, Lana is associated with Water-types and is an avid fisherwoman, much like Misty and Sophocles is a Gadgeteer Genius who has an affinity for Electric-types, kind of like Clemont. At the same time though, they have unique traits that set them apart from the character they're generally based on, which makes this a Downplayed Example.
    • Jessie and James release their Victreebel (a carnivorous plant Pokémon) and Arbok (a poisonous snake Pokémon). Later on, James acquires a Cacnea (a cactus Pokémon) and Carnivine (a carnivorous plant Pokémon), which both retain Victreebel's tendency to accidentally injure its owner in displays of affection, and Jessie gets a Seviper, which is...a poisonous snake Pokémon. Their main Pokémon in Sun and Moon are similar to the ones they had in X and Y (a ghost for Jessie and a sea creature for James).
    • Ash gets a new bird Pokémon in every region (Pidgeot, Noctowl, Swellow, Staraptor, Unfezant, Talonflame and Rowlet respectively).
    • The Mewtwo that appears in Genesect and the Legend Awakened is a different one from the one in Mewtwo Strikes Back and its direct sequel. However, despite a slight change in personality, voice and abilities, it functions almost exactly like the original, and little in-universe justifies the existence of this new one (a bizarre break from canon, as prior to this it was universally depicted as a Single-Specimen Species). Made even more apparent considering the prologue dedicated to it gives it almost the exact same past as the old one, but with all things Team Rocket related removed, and the film's ending, which puts it in a city... which is exactly where we last saw the original Mewtwo. Some of this can be explained by The Pokemon Company not actually possessing the rights to the original anime Mewtwo and failing to renegotiate them for the 16th movie.
    • The 1998 Japan-only radio drama It's a White Tomorrow, Team Rocket! introduced a Team Rocket trainee named "Mondo". Years later, an extremely similar looking ex-Team Rocket member named "Yusaku" ("Christopher" in the English dub) appeared as a Character of the Day in Sinnoh.
  • Sakuya Tougane is one for Shinya Kougami in the second season of Psycho-Pass. It is strongly implied, OTOH, that he is Kougami in a Paper-Thin Disguise, though ultimately it just was the animators trolling the audience. With Tougane turning out to be one of the main villains of the series.
  • Saint Seiya: Lyra Orpheus was popular in the first movie and so later on in the Hades Saga, Lyra Orphee was created with the exact same backstory, lover, Cloth and hair style except he wasn't as dark and wasn't a villain.
  • Tenchi Muyo! is unique in that the third OVA did something of an alternate continuity substitution. Mihoshi's partner in the Galaxy Police had long been Kiyone Makibi in the Universe and Tokyo continuities, but in supplemental materials Kiyone was the name of Tenchi's Mother (The first movie, based off the first TV series, named her Achika). OVA 3 introduces us to Noike, who happens to be Mihoshi's previously not known to exist GXP partner, while Tenchi's mother is finally officially named as Kiyone (and (re)introduced, in a way, by Tenchi's older sister who is strangely identical to her).
  • Scattorshot in Transformers: Cybertron is an expy of Ironhide from Transformers: Energon. Likewise, the Jones family in Energon is this to the Witwickys from Transformers: Generation 1.

    Card Games 
  • Played for laughs in Munchkin, where whenever a player 'dies', everybody else at the table gets a chance to loot the 'body'...and then the same player simply carries on with a notionally new character of the exact same level, race, and class as the old one.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Following Gideon Jura's Heroic Sacrifice, Wizards of the Coast introduced Basri Ket, a similarly heroic white-aligned planeswalker with distinctive armour and an unusual weapon design. For bonus points, both Gideon's home plane of Theros and Basri's home plane of Amonkhet are themed after prominent cultures of the ancient world (Greece and Egypt respectively), and Gideon was even one of the main characters of Amonkhet block.

    Comic Strips 
  • Monty was once called Robotman, but the syndicate wanted the creator Jim Meddick to remove the Robotman characternote . That done, fast-forward several years, and Monty is befriended by the mysterious eccentric scientist Doc-and his robot sidekick E. B. So far there's no sign that the syndicate wants to dump this new robotic character.
  • Originally in For Better or for Worse, Lynn Johnston had intended to pair off Elizabeth with Christopher Nichols, but when that family was placed under embargo for reasons she took his design, slapped freckles and glasses on him, and created Anthony Caine, her Wesley.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Thor (Titanus þunraz) is a Titan resembling a giant ape who's fierce yet seems to have a stronger emotional connection to humans because they're primates, is protective of the story's female protagonist in an almost paternal manner, personally hates a reptilian Big Bad (due to them killing his family in the past no less), and was able to stubbornly reject Ghidorah's alpha call during the Mass Awakening. Sound like anyone?
  • The End of Ends: While he looks like Robin and has the psychic powers of Raven, Copy Cat's namesake ability, to copy the forms of others, is reminiscent of the missing Beast Boy. Guess what happens once Beast Boy is Killed Off for Real.
  • In Vapors this is invoked by the Third Hokage when he replaces the late Sakura Haruno with the newly-discovered Karin Uzumaki partly out of convenience, and partly as an attempt to help them cope with what happened.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Lusserina Luzumin is the Empire's strongest mage and is known as the "Witch of Flowers", much like Nasuverse Merlin's epithet as the "Magus of Flowers". It's little wonder that she's accompanying Artoria on their trip to Altena. Lampshaded by Kojiro, who asks if there's any relation between her and "him". The Radiance scoffs at this, calling her adorable next to "him".
  • The Invader Zim fanfic In Short Supply is set a few years after the show, so it wouldn't make sense for Zim and Dib to still have Ms. Bitters as a teacher. Instead, we get Ms. Airy, who is just as weird, cruel and depressing. There's also Ms. Fhtagn, an Ambiguously Human guidance counselor who's similar but a bit more unique.
  • The Omnitrix Hero: The "main team" of Flash Sentry, Trixie Lullamoon, and Shining Armor essentially fill in the same team dynamic as Ben, Gwen and Max Tennyson from Ben 10. Flash is the hero with the Omnitrix, Trixie eventually gains magical powers, and Shining is the adult who eventually becomes a Plumber. During Omniversal Collision when they meet the Prime Ben Tennyson, he points out how the three of them are a lot like him, his cousin, and his grandpa when he was a kid.
  • In the Supernatural/Wynonna Earp crossover series "Told That Devil to Take You Back", Sam spends some of this series essentially viewing Waverly as a 'substitute' for Charlie Bradbury, both being young women with an initially academic interest in the supernatural who bond with Sam in a manner that he compares to a younger sister, but he tries to appreciate Waverly as her own person even before Charlie is brought back to life.
  • In Spider-X, when the students at Xavier’s first get the chance to meet some of Peter’s old friends, various characters note that Flash Thompson and Mary Jane are remarkably similar on a superficial level to Duncan Matthews and Jean Grey respectively, although this isn’t a particularly big deal as Peter rarely interacts with Duncan and has no romantic interest in Jean.
  • Touhou Shinkai ~ Awakening Deep Mythos introduces Insumo as the Stage 1 boss, a mermaid living in Misty Lake that's normally calm and collected but driven to aggression by the related story incident. That description can easily apply to Wakasagihime, another Stage 1 boss in Touhou canon.
  • Some time after Bellatrix is (accidentally) prevented from becoming Voldemort's most devoted (and psychotic) lieutenant in Wind Shear, her aunt Walburga joins him instead after being cast out of the family. She even spouts similar lines, such as refusing to believe the "blood traitors and their lies about Voldemort's greatness".
  • Young Justice: Darkness Falls: The final battle on War World takes place fighting a Nigh Invulnerable alien with yellow skin who can shrug off most of what the heroes throw at him, but who's beaten by some quick thinking. Now are we talking about Mongul or Steppenwolf?
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf has two of them for Gargamel. In "The Enchanted Evergreen" (which is adapted from the comic book story "The Little Tree"), Evil Marduk was created to take Gargamel's place since the story adaptation was now set when the Smurfs were still Smurflings. In "Brenda's Boy Trouble" (which is adapted from the cartoon show episode "Scruple's Sweetheart"), a character named Severus was created to take Gargamel's place in the story while Jeanty from the comic books stood in for Scruple and Rascal Fuzzbucket for Azrael.
  • Hero of the New World: The OC member of the Flying Six in Kaido's crew is largely X. Drake with the serial numbers filed off. Both are former marines who reached the highest ranks before defecting, ate a carnosaur Ancient Zoan, and are weapon users.
  • In-Universe example in Stargate: Spartan Siege - upon encounter the Replicators, John notes that they match up almost exactly to what he'd expect a mechanical version of The Flood to be, as both are a Horde of Alien Locusts (though the former are Grey Goo while the latter are Parasite Zombies) with a hive mind who, as revealed two chapters prior, have fought the Forerunners.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, Dave the octopus fills in the role of Mad Scientist sea animal antagonist of the penguins that Dr. Blowhole the dolphin from the TV series has.
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, the role of Orville Albatross (voiced by the late Jim Jordan) is replaced by that of his brother, Wilbur (voiced by John Candy).
  • The octopus replacing the crocodile in Return To Never Land. It inexplicably starts ticking after it decides to eat Captain Hook.
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the hyenas from the original film were (somewhat infamously) replaced by "the outsiders", a group of rogue lions who were banished from the Pride Lands for allegedly siding with Scar during his takeover (a pretty glaring plot hole, since the first film never shows or mentions any lions siding with Scar). They fulfill exactly the same role as the hyenas, and are basically identical to them in personality, right down to living in the Outlands (which was apparently left vacant after the hyenas inexplicably left).note 
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, there were plans to feature Peach's steward Toadsworth, but he was scrapped. A Toad councilor similar to him, with glasses, a bowtie, and a deep voice, takes his place.

  • The 1996 Star Wars spin-off Shadows of the Empire (novel, comic book, video game, and breakfast cereal), being set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, has some examples:
    • Han Solo is replaced by the lovable scamp Dash Rendar. Dash not only sports Han's in-your-face attitude, he flies a nearly identical ship to the Millennium Falcon and has a wacky robot sidekick. Though hastily offed when he no longer served a purpose, Dash apparently still exists in the hazier reaches of the "Expanded Universe."
    • Ben in LOTF's a substitute for Anakin; Tahiri even tries to seduce him... and he's 13!
    • Gavin Darklighter, who is the cousin of Biggs Darklighter.
  • In Splinter of the Mind's Eye (set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back), sise, kindly old Force-Sensitive mentor Halla and hulking, furry, Language Barrier-limited aliens Hin and Kee fill the roles Obi-Wan and Chewbacca did in the first movie.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • After Ned Stark's death at the end of the first book, Davos Seaworth shows up to serve the function of The Stoic, family and honor oriented, speaker-of-truth-to-power to a Baratheon king. They even mirror each other in interesting ways, particularly their fates (Ned is killed in a last minute whim of Joffrey's, Davos miraculously survives his ship's sinking) compared to their children's (Ned's children find ways to thrive in adversity, while four of Davos' sons are killed in battle).
    • Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martel was Too Cool to Live, and fans have suspected that The Scrappy Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne was created as one of these. Both men are the black sheep of their families and have badass reputations and are known by cool nicknames. More to the point, both men are from the some place and Dayne interacts with Oberyn's family members.
    • In-universe example: Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, a huge, insanely strong and brutal thug is supposedly killed at the end of Book 3. In Book 5, a similar-sized knight who refuses to take off his armor called Robert Strong appears. Many characters suspect that Strong is in fact Clegane's zombified corpse.
  • A meta-example in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle: Daniel Waterhouse notes that some people can be replaced in their positions with only the most superficial elements changing, but other people are more crucial to the story, and their loss will forever change the status quo no matter who replaces them.
  • The Olivia Goldsmith novel Switcheroo has Sylvie rocked to discover her husband Bob is having an affair. When she tracks down the mistress, Maria, the two are stunned to realize that, except for twenty years in age, they look almost exactly alike. They both sardonically note how Bob "probably doesn't even realize" he traded his wife for a younger version. With the aid of plastic surgery and makeup, the two switch places, at first for revenge but Sylvie finding herself falling back in love with her husband.
    • A wild series of circumstances has Boba and Sylvie finding Maria in bed with Bob's best friend. It takes the friend openly saying "you never told me your mistress looks just like your wife" for Bob to finally see the resemblance.
  • In Death series: Eternity In Death has Eve and Peabody questioning the housekeeper who worked for the murder victim. Then they go to see the murder victim's friend, whose housekeeper might have been a clone of the previous one. The story states that the two housekeepers are sisters.
  • Laura McCall for Taffy Sinclair in The Fabulous Five series. Even though Taffy is still present, she and the group have called a truce in the final book of the previous series and she has become somewhat nicer. Laura is the new Alpha Bitch and apparently doesn't have any of the Freudian Excuse that Taffy did (overbearing stage mother, etc.)
  • In The Infernal Devices: Cyril is essentially an older Thomas, brought in to replace him after his death.
  • In James Ellroy's novel The Big Nowhere, one of the protagonists is Buzz Meeks, a disgraced ex-Dirty Cop who has since gone on to become a crooked Private Detective, Hollywood fixer, and enforcer for Eccentric Millionaire Howard Hughes. Since Meeks was killed off early in L.A. Confidential, his role in Ellroy's Underworld USA trilogy was filled by Pete Bondurant, a character with a virtually identical backstory.
  • In Elmore Leonard's novel Split Images, Detroit homicide detective Bryan Hurd is an obvious stand-in for Detroit homicide detective Raymond Cruz. Cruz appeared in some of Leonard's prior work, which was being optioned at the time.
  • In Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus, there is Reyna and Piper.
  • The Star Carrier series' fourth book, Deep Space, takes place after a 20-year Time Skip, and while Trevor Gray, the character for whom Lieutenant Donald Gregory substitutes, is still a major character, he's been promoted and is now the captain of the eponymous star carrier America. Both characters are looked down on by their squadmates for their upbringing (Gray grew up on the Periphery in the sea-level-rise-created ruins of New York, while Gregory was born on one of Earth's colonies), and both gained fame for using ostensibly non-offensive tech in offensive ways (Gray gained his call sign, "Sandy", by using anti-missile countermeasures as kinetic kill weapons, while Gregory used his drive singularity to destroy a Slan warship).
  • In-universe example in Vampire Academy. When Dimitri turned into a Stringoi and Rose quit her training, Lissa needed new guardians. Grant was a seasoned guardian and trainer, similar to Dimitri. Serena was a girl close to Lissa's age, similar to Rose.
  • The late Chicago-based author John R. Powers wrote the Last Catholic Trilogy in the 1970s, consisting of the fictionalized memoirs The Last Catholic in America (about life as a young boy going to a Catholic grammar school in the '50s), Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (about life as a teenager going to a Catholic high school in the '60s), and The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God (about life as a twentysomething approaching the 1970s, going to a community college, and finding a job and romance). The first two novels are narrated in First-Person Perspective by our protagonist Eddie Ryan. The third is narrated the same way by protagonist Tim Conroy, who, for all intents and purposes, is Eddie Ryan but with a different name. The reason for the switch was possibly that the third novel has a Downer Ending, where we learn that Tim dies of cancer at age 27. It may have been the case that Powers did not want to take his readers through three books, only for them to see their hero die at the end.
  • Dr. Carolyn McConnell, in the Eighth Doctor Adventures Doctor Who spin-off novel Vampire Science, is a substitute for Dr. Grace Holloway, due to the novel publishers discovering late in its creation that the rights to Grace, who was created in Doctor Who:The Movie, were owned by Fox and that they weren't allowed to use her. Like Dr Grace, Dr Carolyn is a San Francisco medical doctor who had a previous adventure with the Eighth Doctor (established in the book's prologue).
  • Detective Renee Ballard for Detective Harry Bosch in the works of mystery novelist Michael Connelly. The Harry Bosch universe has characters aging in real time, which means that by the 2010s Harry Bosch, born in 1950, started to get too old for homicide detective adventures. How to fix that? Come up with Detective Ballard, who was orphaned at a young age like Harry Bosch (technically Ballard wasn't an orphan but she had a Missing Mom), has a lack of personal attachments like Bosch, views her job as a "mission" in the way that Bosch does, is a Cowboy Cop just like Bosch, has a Sherlock Scan similar to Bosch's, has an oddball habit like Bosch (Bosch is intensely devoted to jazz music while Ballard is a surfer) and like Bosch has a difficult relationship with LAPD command (Bosch because he's a Cowboy Cop in general, Ballard because she made a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor).
  • Aliens (Steve Perry Trilogy), based on Dark Horse Comics first Alien comics, sees with two of the main characters in the change of the story to novel form as the comics were published between Aliens and Alien³ thus featured Hicks and Newt — whereas the novels, published after Alien³ sees them replaced with characters named Wilks and Billie. The novels also changed Ripley to be a gynoid who only thought she was Ripley.
  • Since First Installment Wins, The Chronicles of Narnia's most famous villain is Jadis the White Witch, who is Killed Off for Real in the first book. In The Silver Chair we meet the Lady of the Green Kirtle, another color-themed witch who wants to take over Narnia and is prone to Mind Control. They might even be connected: the Lady is described as "one of the Northern witches," and the prequel establishes that Jadis was hiding up there before her takeover...
  • In the Mr Men and Little Miss books each character has one main personality trait and there is a brand-new character in every book, which has led to a lot of characters which are essentially interchangeable in terms of personality. As well as the large number of characters with distaff/spear counterparts, we have:
    • Mr Muddle, Mr Wrong, Mr Dizzy, Little Miss Dotty, and Little Miss Scatterbrain, who are all The Ditz.
    • Mr Funny, Mr Silly, Mr Nonsense, Mr Topsy-Turvy and Little Miss Contrary are all Cloudcuckoolanders.
    • Mr Bump, Mr Clumsy and Little Miss Whoops are all The Klutz.
    • Mr Busy, Little Miss Busy, Mr Rush and Little Miss Quick all focus on being fast.
    • Little Miss Naughty, Little Miss Bad, Little Miss Trouble and Mr Mischief are all The Prankster.
    • Mr Worry and Mr Jelly are both Nervous Wrecks.
    • Mr Grumpy, Mr Grumble and Mr Rude are all Jerkasses.
    • Mr Happy, Mr Cheerful and Little Miss Sunshine are all The Pollyanna.
  • Serge Storms :
    • Before retconning stoner Sidekick Coleman's death in the first book, the author had Serge acquire a second stoner sidekick, Lenny, for several books. In Gator-a-Go, when City and Country meet Coleman for the first time, they immediately compare him to Lenny. Serge replies, "Coleman's the original: Lenny, beta version, initial glitches intact."
    • After Sharon is written out of the series (minus one Anachronic Order reappearance), the next book introduces Recurring Character Ingrid "Country" Praline, another blond woman who sometimes does drugs (albeit weed instead of coke) and assists Serge throughout various schemes that she is often apathetic to while having regular Coitus Ensues moments with Serge and bickering with him just as regularly. However, unlike Token Evil Teammate Sharon, Country is a Nice Girl, or a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at worst, values her friendships, doesn't commit crimes out of greed, can be more genuinely helpful than Sharon, and avoids the Sex Is Violence aspect of Serge and Sharon's relationship.
    • By the time of Atomic Lobster (book 10), Serge tends to date women of a higher intellectual caliber than Sharon and Country (with his occasional reunions with Country being among the rare exceptions to this). However, like Sharon, his Meet Your Early-Installment Weirdness Girl of the Week Rachael is a blond stripper with criminal inclinations (although Rachael is more of a Shameless Fanservice Girl petty crook compared to Sharon’s status as The Vamp and an Ax-Crazy armed robber and Black Widow with a much higher body count), a preoccupation with doing coke, a fiery temper, and a Sex Is Violence relationship with Serge. Serge and Coleman lampshade the trope and comment it's like the two women were separated at birth. They only reconsider this opinion at the end of the book, upon learning that Sharon and Rachael are actual sisters rather than Identical Strangers. Rachael also has a dancing style that is nearly identical to Country's.
    • Story from Nuclear Jellyfish (book 11) has many notable similarities to Rachael, some but not all of which she also shares with Sharon. Both are strippers with similar appearances who can be hot-headed and, near the end of their respective books, are set up to potentially have dangerous fallings out with Serge due to harm that befell their respective siblings. However, the two also diverge in many ways. Rachael is coarse, undriven, and dim, while Story is an intelligent and articulate part-time college student. Rachael gets wasted and tries to kill Serge with little to no premeditation after learning that he killed her sister. Story is seemingly plotting to manipulate and kill Serge from their first meeting because she wrongly thinks he put her brother in the hospital, but the ending reveals she always knew Serge was innocent and has been working with him to kill the real culprits.

  • Brian Johnson was brought into the band AC/DC after Bon Scott's death primarily because he had a voice very similar to Scott, making him a substitute of a sort. Notable for the fact that, unlike most established bands, their popularity increased with the singer change.
  • Averted when Vince Neil had a falling out with the rest of Mötley Crüe, John Corabi came in to replace him. He was picked largely because his voice had an extremely different tone to Vince's, and Nikki Sixx, the primary songwriter, wanted to try a different direction. The album they recorded together didn't sell very well, and Vince returned to the band not long afterwards. Nikki has stated that they briefly toyed with the idea of having two singers, as John became a close friend during recording.
  • Randy Meisner was the bass-player and high-voiced backing vocalist in the band Poco. He left to join what would become Eagles (filling the same role) and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmitt, whose distinctive features were also the high vocals, long hair and slight metrosexual vibe. When Randy left Eagles, guess who replaced him? The fact they're both introverted serious family men (as opposed to other band members who were party animals in their time) helps a lot too.
  • Deep Purple's career is characterised by many line-up changes, but avoided any Suspiciously Similar Substitutions. Instead, they recruited new members with their own distinctive sound, resulting in significant changes in the style of the band's music from one line-up to the next.
  • Judas Priest's Rob Halford left the band in 1992, and was replaced with Tim "Ripper" Owens in 1996, who had ironically sung in a Judas Priest tribute band, who sounded nearly identical to Halford in some songs. Owens parted amicably with the band, and Rob Halford re-joined them. This story was the inspiration behind the movie Rock Star.
    • Also, when Tim went to join Iced Earth, a few casual fans thought that Rob had joined the band.
  • Averted when American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry declined band Fuel's offer to replace their lead singer in favor of having his own band, Daughtry. Daughtry has recorded several huge hits since.
  • Phil Collins got to replace Peter Gabriel in Genesis mostly because their voices were so similar.
  • After Mick Jones got fired in 1983, The Clash brought in two guitarists to replace him. One of them, Nick Sheppard, looked enough like Jones that they could easily have passed for brothers. Jones had the last laugh, as the new Clash lineup broke up after only one album while his new group Big Audio Dynamite was an instant success.
  • Subverted with The New Pornographers. Kathryn Calder serves as the female lead vocals on tour, but only when Neko Case (also a member, but a major solo singer in her own right) isn't available to tour.
  • After The Fall's frontman Mark E. Smith and keyboardist/girlfriend Julia Nagle had a major falling out in the late 1990s, tensions between the two intensified, with the two first breaking up and then Nagle leaving The Fall ca. 2001. Suspiciously Similar Substitute — and Smith's eventual third wife — Elena Poulou became The Fall's keyboardist in late 2002.
  • David Gilmour started out as this during his first weeks with Pink Floyd in order to cover for the increasingly unstable Syd Barrett. After Barrett's departure, Gilmour was originally supposed to continue playing guitar the way Syd used to; this lasted until about late 1968 when the band started shifting its musical direction.
  • Guns N' Roses has had many members come and go over the years since the dissolution of the "classic" lineup, but many of the replacements were very different from their predecessors. For example, Buckethead is very, very different from his predecessor Slash. However, 2009 rolls around and their newest guitar player wears a top hat, smokes while playing, plays a Les Paul, and is known for his bluesy style.
  • Sublime singer Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose shortly after their breakthrough hit. The band tried to reform over a decade later with sound-alike Rome Ramirez, causing a major argument and eventual legal battle with Nowell's family: The family thought no one should tour under the Sublime name, and the band wanted to finally get to play for all the fans they gained since 40oz to Freedom was released. Eventually the settled on calling the band "Sublime with Rome."
  • Arena-rock über-group Journey is enjoying something of a career resurgence, largely in part to having hired Philippines-born singer Arnel Pineda to handle lead vocal duties. And while Pineda looks not-a-lot like their former powerhouse tenor Steve Perry, their similarity in vocal tone is undeniable.
  • After blonde bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera left brass-drenched band Chicago in 1985 to embark on a solo career, Chicago responded by hiring sandy-haired singer/bass player Jason Scheff to replace him. Didn't hurt that Scheff's vocal tone was a near cut-and-paste of Cetera's, either. And when Chicago's next few singles included the pseudo-Cetera-sounding "Will You Still Love Me?" and "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" many casual fans didn't even notice the switch.
  • Current Yes vocalist Benoït David sounds quite a lot like erstwhile Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. This probably isn't surprising since they plucked him out of a Yes tribute band. Trevor Horn, who handled lead vocals on the band's 1980 album Drama, also sounds rather similar to Anderson.
  • Countrym usic group Shenandoah had a hard time holding a lead singer after Marty Raybon left. However, one of the replacements was Jimmy Yeary, who sounded uncannily like Raybon.
  • Though there were guitarists between them, Zakk Wylde appeared to be this for Randy Rhoads when he started playing with Ozzy: both having long blonde hair, white Les Pauls, and great technical prowess, although Randy was more effeminate looking due to how extremely skinny he was. Wylde's distinct Bullseye guitar design came about as an attempt to visually distinguish himself from Rhoads.
  • When rotund lead guitarist/songwriter Randy Bachman left The Guess Who, he was replaced by rotund lead guitarist/songwriter Kurt Winter.
  • When Jermaine Jackson quit The Jackson 5 in the mid-'70s, the youngest brother Randy (who'd been touring with them as a percussionist) replaced him, having a similar voice (compare Jermaine's "Daddy's Home" with Randy's vocals in "Can You Feel It"). In 1983, Jermaine rejoined for the famed Motown TV special, and they released their final album in 1989, wherein the lineup consisted of both brothers as well as the two oldest Michael Jackson had become the biggest solo artist in music, while middle brother Marlon released an unsuccessful solo album and appeared in a film produced by Troma).
  • Broods is a brother-sister electronic Indie Pop duo who sounds almost exactly like Lorde, to the point where some people thought their songs were Lorde songs. There are a couple reasons for this: 1. They're both from New Zealand, and 2. They both have the same producer, Joel Little.
  • The creators of Gorillaz made Ace their temporary bassist in 2018 for this reason; since Murdoc was arrested, they wanted to replace him with someone similar, and they figured Ace was the best character that could fulfill this need. Damon Albarn discusses it in this video.
  • After 2 well received albums (as well received as alternative acts did, anyway), Sad Lovers & Giants broke up in 1983. Several years later, the band reformed, but without the original guitarist Tristan Garrel-Funk. Instead, his place was taken by certain Tony McGuinness. As luck would have it however, Tony's style of playing and approach to writing was uncannily similar, so the band's sound did not change all that much.
  • When John Foxx left Ultravox in 1979, he was replaced by Midge Ure, whose singing voice was uncannily similar to Foxx's, but not to the point of being identical. When Ultravox disbanded in 1988 and returned in 1992, it received an almost completely different lineup save for the inclusion of keyboardist Billy Currie; this lineup was then axed and replaced (again, save for Currie) in 1994 and lasted until the band's second breakup in 1996. The lead vocalist in the second 90's lineup, Sam Blue, displayed a singing voice that sounded like an amalgamation of Foxx and Ure's.
  • When Dusty Hill was forced to leave a tour for an injury, he asked Billy Gibbons to continue Zz Top with guitar tech Elwood Francis in his place. Francis had grown an equally impressive Wizard Beard, so he even looked like a second coming of Hill (who died five days after Francis' debut).
  • German death metal band Morgoth abruptly departed with their lead singer Marc Grewe in 2014, just before recording for their first album in nearly two decades began. He was replaced with Disbelief vocalist Karsten Jäger, who was noted for having an extremely similar voice to Marc to the point that even longtime fans of the band could barely tell the difference between them.
  • Taken to memetic levels by the Sugababes. Every member replacement in the group has been very familiar in vibe to the girl they replaced. Heidi replaced Siobhán, the soulful white one. Amelle replaced Mutya, the soulful "ethnic" one. And finally, Jade replaced Keisha, the… soulful black one.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Mr. Saito to Professor Tanaka as Mr. Fuji's tag team partner.
  • Amazing Kong debuted as a suspiciously similar substitute to Aja Kong. Previously she wrestled under the ring name "Vixen" but her billing was changed to get away with Wolverine Publicity, as the promoter had only promised "A Kong" rather than "Aja".
  • Lollipop was a suspiciously similar substitute to Krissy Vaine when the latter wasn't available for bookers who wanted to use Team Blondage.(there were still two members besides Vaine, but they hated each other and wouldn't have worked for the Mean Girls vibe the team was going for)
  • Muhammad Hassan and Davari were suspiciously similar substitutes to Rodney Mack and Theodore Long. Having a light-skinned black man fight against Whitey just didn't seem as shocking with a war no one but the presidential administration really wanted, so their role went to two Farsi-speaking men fighting Arab prejudice.
  • Epiphany debuted as a suspiciously similar substitute to Beth Phoenix. She was even billed as OVW's "new" Glamazon before that title ultimately went to Paredyse, who was very much unlike Phoenix.
  • Subverted in Ring of Honor with Taeler Hendrix, a former jobber Truth Martini dug back up when Seleziya Sparx was banned from entering the United States, to serve as the violent female managerial assistant in his House Of Truth. The first hint was in Hendrix's first violent act. While Sparx was known for Tranquil Fury, and usually had some rationale, however flimsy, for attacking anyone, Hendrix suddenly lost her temper and beat up a HOT trainee for not telling Martini "thank you". As time went on it also became clear that while Sparx was a Femme Fatale tease, Hendrix was a flat out vamp. While Sparx was a nice girl with a Friendless Background who just so happened to fall in with a bad crowd in the HOT, Hendrix had become very bitter during her hiatus from ROH. She'd be the perfect foil if not for Sparx being banned from the country and all.
  • Mason Ryan, a member of CM Punk's New Nexus, was immediately accused of being one to Batista upon his debut, thanks to his very strong physical resemblance to the Animal. We're not kidding — the resemblance was so strong that no less than Chris Jericho nicknamed him "Batis-Two", and crowds repeatedly chanted "BATISTA!" at him every time he was onscreen with any sort of limelight. The fact that he showed up less than a year after Dave left the company for the first time certainly did not help.

    Puppet Shows 

  • Comedian Artie Lange replacing Comedian Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling on The Howard Stern Show. Somewhat averted in that while the two did have similar hobbies and character traits, Lange was specifically hired as an on air personality, whereas Jackie was only sometimes on air, with his main job as writer.
  • Jack Allen from Adventures in Odyssey. After addressing the Replacement Scrappy issue head-on by openly admitting that he could never replace Whit... he replaced Whit. He was generally well-received, though, and after resolving some storylines that hinged on "Whit's" presence, he developed into his own character.
  • In The Navy Lark, Troutbridge's Number One in the first season, Dennis Price, was replaced by Stephen Murray in all the following seasons. They were different characters, but shared some of the same knowledge and responses.
  • In The Jack Benny Program, there were several cast changes over the years: Bob Crosby for Phil Harris; Dennis Day for Kenny Baker.
  • The first Big Finish Fourth Doctor Adventures set - "The Hornet's Nest", "The Serpent's Crest" and "The Demon Quest" - was originally written with the Brigadier as the companion, but when Nicolas Courtney fell ill the part was rewritten for UNIT Captain Mark Yates.
  • In the first two series of The Men from the Ministry, the "One" of General Assistance Department was Roland Hamilton-Jones, played by Wilfrid Hyde-White. After he left "One" became Deryck Guyler's Deryck Lennox-Brown for the rest of the series. The two were practically the exact same characters with different names, and the show never acknowledged the change.
    • The change also happened in the Finnish version of the show, but only much later (in that most Lennox-Brown episodes have been translated with Hammilton-Jones in his place) and only due due the actor Kauko Helovirta's death in 1997.


  • Twin footballers Rafael and Fabio Da Silva both played the same position on Manchester United for some time.
  • In 1989, new Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired Jimmy Johnson, who had been his college teammate with the Arkansas Razorbacks, as the team's new head coach. Johnson had previously won a national championship as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, and went on to win two Super Bowls in Dallas. After clashes between the two came to a head during the 1993–94 offseason, Johnson resigned/was fired. Jones replaced him with Barry Switzer, a former Arkansas Razorbacks player who had won three national championships as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, and won one Super Bowl with the Cowboys.
  • It can often seem a bit like this in professional team sports, when a particular "role" is "recast". In particular, the identities of the fourth line (a.k.a. the goon line) of one's favourite ice hockey team seem to change about as frequently as Diana Ross's outfit. Sometimes it happens with more well-known players - eg. if a soccer/football team replace their tall, hulking, head-the-ball centre forward with another player who does the exact same thing, leaving the fans to wonder what exactly was the point of the exchange.

    Tabletop Games 
  • On a meta level, if a game uses class where player characters have tight certain mechanical roles, the death of one PC often leads to this trope. "Well, our Fighter died, so we need another front-line guy." The prevalence of this trope depends on how much a game mechanically reinforces the need for players to fill certain roles for the group to be effective. If the game makes it so a group is stymied and locked out of part of the game without certain classes, then this applies.
    • Very prevalent in Dungeons & Dragons and its many children, nieces, and nephews. Generally speaking, the roles are healer, front-line fighter, magic and brains, and skills and stealth, with ranged combat and group face floating between those four roles. If the character was the group's skill character, the group is frozen out of that part of the game unless a replacement comes along. The extent to which this applies to D&D varies heavily based on the edition.
    • Shadowrun has players generally fitting very specific niches. If the group's only decker (hacker and cyberoperations specialist) gets killed, the group is mostly frozen out of that entire aspect of the game. So the runners will probably go looking for a decker in need of employment. There happens to be a player in need of a player character right there, so...
    • Warhammer 40,000: The 5th Edition Grey Knights codex was widely disliked both from a gameplay and story perspective for being too powerful, most notably quasi-God-Mode Sue Kaldor Draigo, widely disparaged as one writer's (a self-admitted Ultramarines fanboy) attempt to have Roboute Guilliman (the Ultramarines' Primarch, stuck in stasis since The Horus Heresy) running around again. A few editions later, Roboute Guilliman does get de-stasised... and the fanbase has actually embraced his return (it helps that he functions as the Only Sane Man, seeing the Imperium for the rotting mess that it is and determined to start fixing things).
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition: A Dark Sun epic destiny has the main character become a hero template, and killing off the lead character would simply bring in a mechanically-identical replacement with the same powers and abilities.
  • Kong: Skull Island -- Isle of the Damned: General Ward is more or less the new Packard of the game's post-Kong: Skull Island sequel storyline, being a military officer antagonist who wants to settle a blood debt with Kong for killing his men.
  • Vampire: The Requiem: Actually noted In-Universe in with the Ventrue and their Roman Era counterpart, the lost clan of the Julii. Literally the only difference between the two is in their Clan Weakness, and even then they're just different flavors of the same "particularly detached from Humanity" motifnote . It's commonly accepted by vampires that the Ventrue are either a mutated form of the Julii, or a Julii Bloodline that eventually outbred the original Clan.

  • Not exactly an apt trope for plays, but there's a very similar feeling in Othello: Brabantio, father of Desdemona, has a role in the first act, then does not follow when the action moves to Cyprus; then in the last act Gratiano, his brother, shows up to announce Brabantio is dead and generally stand in for him as a Venetian authority figure. Heightened in some small productions where the two characters are played by the same actor.

    Theme Parks 
  • Drayton Manor Theme Park in England has several knock-offs of Disneyland rides for people who can't afford to go to Disneyland Paris.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Ema Skye. The game was originally released with 4 cases, 3 of which had Maya as the player's sidekick, helping with investigations and providing funny interactions. Maya leaves for her spiritual training at the end of the 4th case, so when a 5th case was added in the DS re-release she couldn't return as sidekick. Instead, your client is Ema, who takes on the same role, is just 1 year younger than Maya, and has similar animations and facial expressions. Phoenix lampshades the similarities between her and Maya both having older sisters, and Lana happened to know Mia. Ema resembling Maya is even part of the reason why he took the case.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner
  • Acknowledged and actually a big part of the plot in Red vs. Blue, where the original Church (actually the AI Alpha) dies in season 6 and is replaced by another Church in season 7 (actually the AI Epsilon, who's made up of Alpha's memories). The two look and act almost exactly the same.
    • Deconstructed in Seasons 11 and 12 after Epsilon-Church is Put on a Bus with Washington and Tucker. In Season 11, Washington takes over as leader of the Blues and tries to emulate Church's leading style, but it results in him behaving like an asshole and alienating his teammates, particularly Tucker, who views him as a Replacement Scrappy. Washington eventually comes into his own, but is captured at the end of the season, leaving Tucker to take over in Season 12. Tucker is clearly resentful about this and struggles with insecurity, but ultimately steps into the role of leader and actually develops several traits similar to Church. Then, when Church returns, the two start to clash when Church tries to reassume his old role, since Tucker is both accustomed to being the leader and pissed about Church leaving him to fill in his shoes.
  • RWBY Chibi: Winter Schnee plays the role of the strict female authority figure in this series, which belonged to Glynda Goodwitch in RWBY proper.
  • Dreamscape: The Overlord of Evil shares a lot of qualities with the Master of the Dammed, and not just in the case of names and looks. Both of them are powerful liches who have a world they either rule or desire to rule over, have an army of Mooks, and have another villain (or villains) under their command.

    Web Comics 

  • L.D., the ruthless wolf CEO of HerdThinners in Kevin & Kell, only seen as a pair of slavering jaws, died in the first year and was immediately replaced by R.L., a ruthless wolf only seen as a pair of slavering jaws.
  • In Sonichu, the character of Sandy is introduced almost immediately after the death of her mother Simonla. She had all of the same abilities as her, too.
  • Discussed in The Order of the Stick when Tarquin claims that, after he kills Roy Greenhilt and Durkon Thundershield, Elan will have a Terrible Interviewees Montage and end up hiring "Rob Redblade" and "Murkon Lightninghammer." This references the tendency in Dungeon & Dragons campaigns where a lost party member will be quickly replaced by another character with the same class and level (to maintain party balance), and because they're played by the same person, often the same personality too. It also references the On the Origin of PCs book, wherein Roy hires Haley, Vaarsuvius and Belkar through a Terrible Interviewees Montage.
  • In Weak Hero, recurring antagonist Phillip Kim is thoroughly humiliated by Gray and spends the rest of his time quietly moping around in the classroom. Not long after it's revealed that Wolf has a subordinate called Hayden who wears a mask like Phillip, is as egotistical as Phillip, and gets his ass handed to him by Gray in as spectacular a manner as Phillip.
  • Played with in (x, why?) when substitute teacher Quinn Jonas comes in for Ken.

    Web Original 
  • Botar in the BIONICLE web serial Federation of Fear is killed by a villain, but the author still needed Botar's power of teleportation and simply replaced him with another one of his kind. The replacement had no name or character, merely serving as a Plot Device. Fans often joke about the event's pointlessness, as not only did Botar have a companion who could have been killed in his place, but another type of teleportation was introduced around the time anyway, and the ramifications of there being a whole species of such immensely powerful and exploitable beings were never brought up. More importantly, it turned out Botar was alive after all, he just didn't teleport back to where the story was taking place.

    Web Videos 
  • The Awkward Compilation: The departure of Ernie and Henry resulted in new characters turning up to fill their shoes: Henry (the therapist) is replaced with Dexter (the sage), and Ernie (the douche) with Jermaine (the mega-douche).
  • There's a Muppet Web TV show, The Muppets Kitchen With Cat Cora that has Cora working with a new muppet, Angelo, an Italian chef. His role as a cook and his heavy Italian accent inevitably invite comparisons to the Swedish Chef (although Angelo speaks intelligibly and is actually competent), and viewer comments indicate that at least some see him as a Replacement Scrappy.
    Beauregard: Hey, didn't you used to be Swedish?
    Angelo: That's-a the other guy!
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • Discussed in Doug Walker's "Disneycember" reviews of the Disney cheapquels—aside from "Ursula's crazy sister" in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, he was actually really annoyed when he realized that the prequel's villain wasn't a young Ursula, but a new character with the same backstory and a similar appearance.
    • Done by The Nostalagia Critic itself as Rachel Tietz was replaced by Tamara Chambers when Tietz left for acting jobs in California. Chambers and Tietz are somewhat similar-looking although Chambers is a little more chubby. They never play the same characters, though.

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Jonas Quinn, Replacement Character, Suspiciously Similar Replacement, Suspiciously Similar Substitutes


"You look familiar..."

T.K. notices Davis' uncanny resemblance to Tai.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute

Media sources: