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Uncanny Family Resemblance

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"Is there a Tannen in every century!?"

Family members tend to look like each other. Normally, this follows bloodline — you tend to look a lot more like your parents than you do your second cousin, for example. Generally, only identical twins can pass for each other, and even then developmental influences can make noticeable differences.

Media, on the other hand, are a little loose with the rules. Especially when it gives the chance to put an actor into a totally new role, or reuse a character design. You see the reuse version in animation from both the East and West because it is pretty easy to just slap a wig on the guy and call him a new person.

While the Identical Grandson can marginally argue that it is not unknown for direct descendants to bear uncanny resemblance to a forebear, the idea gets very shaky for other relations. When a show tries to pass off a male actor in drag as their visiting aunt, or when somehow a character resembles the man who adopted their great-great-grandfather, it gets flat out weird and hence is usually played up for comedic value. There is a bit of a sub-genre of films that rely on this gag. Eddie Murphy has done a number of them.


See also: Acting for Two, or You ALL Look Familiar, which is more of an Enforced Trope. A subtrope of Strong Family Resemblance, which concerns the immediate family (usually parent and child).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Bakuman。, Moritaka Mashiro looks very similar to a younger version of his uncle Nobuhiro. However, since the face of his father Masahiro is never revealed, it is possible that the two brothers look very similar to begin with.
  • Bleach: Ichigo's striking resemblance to Kaien Shiba is noted by Rukia, Ukitake, and Byakuya—who points out that it's ridiculous to get sentimental over because the two are not related. Byakuya is wrong. Ichigo's father, Isshin Shiba, was Kaien's uncle, so Ichigo and Kaien are first cousins.
  • In Fairy Tail: Recent chapters reveal that Lucy's distant ancestor, Anna, also looks a lot like Lucy and Lucy's mother, except for a different hairstyle.
  • In Reborn! (2004), there's an example that gets into the flat out weird category (and isn't played for laughs). Xanxus, who isn't actually supposed to be blood related to the Ninth is almost a clone of the Second Vongola Boss. Lampshaded by other characters here. As they say, his temperament, abilities, and even looks are the same. Makes you wonder if he really isn't the Ninth's love child...
  • Dragon Ball: At the end of Dragon Ball GT, we see descendants of Bulma, Goku and Vegeta, all of whom look exactly like them.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • It's revealed that Gaou has a little brother and little sister. Gaou's sister looks like a normal elementary-school girl, but Gaou's brother looks just like a miniature version of him, right down to the muscles and the mane of Anime Hair.
    • In one of the omake gag strips, Sena meets the parents of Atsushi Munakata, the handsome bodybuilder captain of the Amino Cyborgs. They have the exact same shiny, dashing face and muscular build as their son, but Sena is most concerned with the fact that they were total strangers at one point.
  • All of the Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys are identical to each other in Pokémon. The only way you can distinguish them is by the symbol on their hats. The Black & White series introduced the Don Georges, who are likewise best identified by the trim on their clothes.
  • An odd case in Doki Doki Pretty Cure. The princess Marie-Ange split her heart in two, which became Aguri and Regina, respectively, and her body became Ai-chan who looks like a baby version of her. Aguri and Regina have nearly identical hair, especially when Aguri's bangs are down, just with different hair colors. Regina and Ai-chan have blue eyes like Marie-Angu, but Regina's eyes can turn red and Aguri is the one with red eyes.
  • Yuki and Yumi from Maria Watches Over Us look like genderswaps of each other. Due to the fact they're the same age fans commonly mistake them for Half-Identical Twins but they're not. Yumi and Yuki were only born in the same year.
  • Naruto:
    • Barring the hairstyles, members of the Hyuga Clan look identical. And no, it is not only because they possess the Byakugan. Hinata's similarity to Hanabi and Neji is excusable, since Hanabi is her sister and Neji is her cousin (and one coming from an uncle who is her father's identical twin, so they are even more related than normal cousins are), but the same cannot be said of her maids and guards having the same facial features as hers. It seems that the Hyuga practice some sort of endogamy, which would not be surprising, since they are an old aristocratic clan.
    • The Uchiha are much like the Hyuga by having similar-looking members, and just like them it can be assumed that they practice clan endogamy. Izuna and Sasuke, in particular, are basically one person with different hairstyles, despite being generations apart and having no indication of a direct genealogical link.
    • Tsunade's deceased brother, Nawaki looks so much like a palette swapped Naruto (he has brown hair and eyes, while Naruto has blond hair and blue eyes), it cannot be a coincidence. Tsunade notes that what makes Naruto especially relatable to her is because of his resemblance to her brother. Later chapters reveal that it is indeed not a coincidence; Tsunade's grandmother was an Uzumaki, which means that Tsunade, and by extension Nawaki, is related to Naruto.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy and Ace look remarkably alike and even have the same mannerisms (though Ace is politer) despite being adoptive brothers. Though it is implied that they are related distantly due to both having the "D" initial in their names. Luffy's appearance is also similar to that of his grandfather Garp, who is basically an older, brawny version of Luffy with graying hair and a beard.
    • Most male D.s are shown to share quite a few physical characteristics despite not being directly related. The youngest in particular (Luffy, Ace, and Law) have the same unruly dark hair, dark eyes, lean musculature, and are rarely seen without their iconic hats atop their heads.
      • Then there's the eerily similar personality traits that all D.s share, regardless of gender or race (charismatic, destructive, loyal to their beliefs, not afraid of death, disregard for authority, laugh in the face of danger, etc.), that lead many fans to believe that those with the "Will of D." are really all members of a single clan that was scattered centuries ago. The only confirmed clues to their origins so far are that they are the natural-born enemies of the World Government and that their existence is strongly tied to the Void Century. The fact that even those with the D. name themselves haven't the slightest clue of the meaning behind the initial makes the mystery surrounding the "Will of D." even greater.
  • Watanuki of ×××HOLiC greatly resembles his distant ancestor Clow Reed. He's the only one in his family that does.
    • A similar case occurs with Doumeki. Unlike Watanuki however, at least three generations (spaced two generations apart, along the male line) of his family are virtually identical, each with very feminine given names: Haruka, Shizuka, and Sayaka are only distinguished only by subtle differences in personality.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Spain and Portugal have this, to the point that Seychelles cannot tell them apart when she needs to deliver a message. Though their relationship is ambiguous, they're confirmed to have the same ancestor. Brothers America and Canada are apparently this too, as several times other nations mistake Canada for America (but never the other way around) and take out their grievances with America on him, much to his dismay.

  • Inverted: Spider-Man and his clone Ben Reilly pretended to be cousins with an uncanny resemblance. Peter's wife Mary Jane came up with the explanation for their resemblance, specifically referring to The Patty Duke Show.
  • Cable and his Age of Apocalypse counterpart Nate Grey look different at first glance... but only because of their different ages: teenage Cable is repeatedly shown to look exactly like Nate, Skunk Stripe and all, while in a possible future, an older Nate is shown to resemble Cable so much that an elderly Sunfire confused the two. Additionally, when Nate picked up one of Cable's guns, he noted that it felt like it was made for him. This would make more sense if they actually were direct counterparts. However, Cable was the son of Scott Summers and Maddie Pryor, while Nate was the genetically engineered son of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, from whom Maddie was cloned.
  • Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Batman lore are identical cousins.
  • Zippy the Pinhead, his wife Zerbina, kids, Evil Twin Lippy, and other members of his extended family are all microcephalics who wear muumuus.
  • There was a Superman-related mini-series in the 90s called The Kents, which examined the lives of the ancestors of the Kent family. One story showed how one of Jonathan Kent's ancestors, Nathaniel Kent, was a pioneer who was largely responsible for turning the state of Kansas into the breadbasket it is today. A fine story, but the artist bizarrely chose to make Nathaniel Kent be a dead ringer for Superman, even though Superman has no blood relation to the Kent family (or any human being) whatsoever. Being, you know, an alien and all. Partially justified as the frame for this story is Clark reading the Kent family's memoirs, so it could all be in his mind — and then later stories (mostly involving time travel) established Nathaniel really did look like that. More justifiably, Nathaniel's father Silas looks a lot like Pa Kent with a moustache.
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, most adult members of the Duck and McDuck families are basically Donald Duck with accessories (beards, hairdos, bows etc.). The same can be observed when you compare Huey, Dewey and Louie with all other Duck and McDuck kids.
  • Goofy has a huge extended family. Just about every single family member, male and female, looks almost exactly like him, only with one or two minor visual details to set them apart.
  • Agent 13: Sharon Carter, erstwhile girlfriend to Captain America, strongly resembles her aunt (World War II resistance fighter and Cap's wartime girlfriend) Peggy, though the two were originally written as sisters before being retconned into being niece/aunt.
  • Quicksilver and his nephew, Speed.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): During "The Contest," one of Artemis's fellow Bana reveals that Diana is a dead ringer for her long-deceased aunt Antiope, though how she knew what Antiope looked like is unknown, given that Antiope died well over a thousand years ago and the Bana have regular human lifespans.
  • Jimmy Hudson, and not to Logan (though, yes, he does also look like his old man sometimes). 616!Magneto can see an eerie amount of Magda in him, and finds it unsettling.

  • A common Fan Fic trope in crossovers is to have a two different characters in different continuities played by the same actors 'turn out' to be related to each other. There is one where James Bond (Sean Connery version) is the illegitimate son of Henry Jones Jr and thus the grandson of Henry Jones Sr... who was played by Connery.
    • There is also one used in fan fiction with MacGyver (of MacGyver (1985)) and Colonel Jack O'Neill (of Stargate SG-1), both played by Richard Dean Anderson, being cousins.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Kaitō Kokoro: Two of Kiku's and Feliciano's children pretty much inherit their hair colors and hairstyles.
    "...Sure." The elder sibling took two of them, emerald hues filling with wonder as he took in their sleeping forms. "They're...beautiful." Jade depths turned, glancing upon a boy who had locks styled like the father's, eyes revealing to be the same limpid brown of the mother's as they opened. "So this one's name is Nihon, right?" Those same jade depths switched to the second bundle, the other another boy who had brunet hair like his mother's and the same piercing ebon orbs as his father's. "And this one's name is Ren, right?"
  • Tangled Up In Blues: Due to a "magical condition", foals in one generation in Taffy's family happen to be identical. It's a humorous justification for the abundance of duplicate background ponies in the original My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Also used to justify Blues' name (canonically, it's "Noteworthy", according to the toys); Noteworthy is merely somepony who happens to look just like him.
  • The Frozen (2013) fanfic Frozen Wight has a few instances where Anna, Elsa, and/or Kristoff come across relatives of Oaken's (Oaken being the guy who runs the trading post and sauna where Anna first meets Kristoff in the movie). They look and sound (read, funny Scandinavian accent) exactly like him.
  • Frozen (2013) fic, What About Witch Queen?, Hans closely resembles two of his brothers, albeit in different aspects. Hans and Michael have the same character (Evil Prince, power-hungry, cold, adept at Xanatos Speed Chess), while Hans and Ferdinand look absurdly similar, while sharing few if any personality traits.
  • One snippet shows that the Joys and Jennys are all identical while themselves believing there's only a slight family resemblance because hundreds of years ago, a pair of newly discovered Ditto took the form of a pair of women and slept with one of the scientists researching them. As a result, the women of both lines look identical to most people.
  • A crucial plot point in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines is the appearance of many characters who tend to share the following traits: dark hair, red eyes, Z-shaped marks on the cheeks like those of Ash, above-average height and in the girls' case, very large breasts. The implication is that all of these were fathered by the same man.
  • In the House fanfic "Incarceration" Wilson's schizophrenic brother Danny (who was never shown in the series) looks exactly like Wilson. Wilson even says people think they're twins.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Smith-Rhodes family are a colonial clan founded by an emigré from the Sto Plains, Sir Cecil Smith-Rhodes, who emigrated to Howondaland at the tail-end of the Ankh-Morporkian empire. Among other things Sir Cecil carved out a new colony, which with superb retiring modesty he named Smith-Rhodesia after himself. His sons, or the ones who survived after the War of Independence, founded families. Possibly unconsciously, the two sons selected red-haired wives, thus concentrating the dominant family gene for red hair and freckles. Rimwards Howondaland now has a founding family whose members share a lot of characteristics and are immediately recognisable in a crowd. In the current generation, it has its first Witch (red haired and freckled) who is in contact with technically deceased family members who act as her Spirit Guides. She is struck by the way her deceased great-aunt and grandmothers all look very definitely related, and how alike they are to variants on a theme of her mother.

  • One of the greatest and most successful examples of this trope is the black and white comedy film Kind Hearts and Coronets; Alec Guiness plays all 8 members of the D'Ascoyne family. The same film also includes another less dramatic example: Dennis Price, who plays the protagonist, also plays the protagonist's father in a couple of flashbacks.
  • The Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor (1996), where Murphy plays every member of the title character's family. Though at least in this case he's wearing fat suits to disguise pretty much all his features for the different roles. This aspect of the movie has become the default parody for cheesy comedians who specialise in broad humour. In 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan is the star of The Chunks, and Tropic Thunder features a fake trailer for The Fatties 2, starring Jack Black's character.
  • In the Back to the Future trilogy, Michael J. Fox played not only hero Marty McFly, but Marty's two future children (Marty Jr. and Marlene), and his great-great-grandfather Seamus from Ireland. He also posed as Marty's great-grandfather William in a photograph. And Lea Thompson played both his mother Lorraine and his paternal great-great-grandmother Maggie. The producers have since joked that McFly men are just genetically predisposed to be attracted to women who look like Lea Thompson. Biff Tannen, his great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, and grandson from the 2015 part of the second, Griff Tannen, are all played by Thomas F. Wilson. This is taken Up to Eleven in the animated series, where every time they visit has an identical ancestor or descendant of Biff, always voiced by Wilson.
  • Strange Brew briefly does this half-way through the movie. Dave Thomas didn't just play Doug, but his father (with Mel Blanc dubbing over his voice), and Rick Moranis didn't just play Bob, but his mother (with a woman dubbing over his voice)!
  • A variation appears in The Mouse That Roared. In the opening sequence, we're introduced to the Grand Duchess, Prime Minister, and Tully Bascombe, all played by Peter Sellers. The narration explains that these disparate residents of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick look like each other because they are all descendants of the country's founder, who was literally the father of his country (the statue we see of him is clearly a likeness of Sellers).
  • In the sex comedy Live Nude Shakespeare, the same actress plays two identical sisters, one a sophisticated socialite, the other a backwoods bumpkin.
  • After playing Dante Hicks in Clerks, Brian O'Halloran also played characters with the surname Hicks in Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma. It's not explicitly stated that they're related, though, so the Continuity Nod might just be a way to Hand Wave the uncanny resemblance. Word of God says they're cousins.
  • In most of Tyler Perry's movies, Perry dresses in drag to play Madea, Madea's brother (not in drag but with a lot of makeup and a wig) and another character (no makeup), who is usually related to Madea.
  • In the 1950s St. Trinian's movies, Alastair Sim played both the school's headmistress, Miss Fritton, and her disreputable brother (and clearly modeled in drag for the portrait of their mother). Rupert Everett did the same in the 2007 reboot.
  • Tia and Tamera Mowry as Sydney Donovan and Sydney's grandmother de-aged to seventeen in the Disney Channel movie Seventeen Again.
  • Jim Dale as Eli, Wild Billy, AND Jasper Bloodshy in Hot Lead and Cold Feet.
  • Adam Sandler plays both Jack and his twin sister Jill in Jack and Jill.
  • In Austin Powers, while they don't look too similar because of all the makeup, the same actor plays two characters who are revealed as long-lost brothers in the third movie. It's Mike Myers as Austin and Dr. Evil.
  • In the movie adaptation of Fred Vargas' novel Wash This Blood Clean From My Hands, both Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his younger brother Raphaël are played by Jean-Hugues Anglade, which is especially noticeable in the scenes where they talk together as they have the same voice. This is perfectly intentional, as Retancourt makes use of the resemblance between the two in order to help Jean-Baptiste escape from the Canadian cops.
  • In the 1954 UK film Mad About Men Glynis Johns portrays both the free-spirited mermaid (returning from 1948's Miranda) and stuffy schoolteacher Caroline. The characters shared a great-grandfather.
  • In Coffee and Cigarettes, Cate Blanchett plays herself and her cousin Shelly in a segment called Cousins.
  • In the Abbott and Costello film Little Giants, Bud Abbott plays the head of a vacuum cleaner company and his much nicer cousin and head of a branch office, who explains the resemblance with a photo of their grandmother (Abbott in drag).
  • Plausibility is stretched in Smilin' Through (1932) in which Norma Shearer plays both Moonyean Clare and her niece Kathleen.
  • Played for comedy in The Family Jewels (1965) in which Jerry Lewis plays a total of eight characters, six brothers, one chauffeur, and one faux uncle who is played by Jerry Lewis playing the chauffeur playing a long lost seventh uncle.
  • Lee Marvin plays both Kid Shelleen and his evil brother Tim Strawn in Cat Ballou.

  • In the fifth book in L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, Anne's House of Dreams, a woman who hates her husband is left caring for him for years after he suffers brain damage. Later he has an operation and recovers his memory—and turns out not to be her husband at all, but her husband's cousin. The book explains that the cousins were double cousins, and one set of parents (either their mothers or fathers) were actually identical twins. The cousins looked very much alike, but were easy to tell apart if they were seen together. The wife had never met the cousin, however, and had only heard her husband mention him once. The book also admits that he had changed a lot after his accident and didn't look much like either he or his cousin once did.
  • In The Prisoner of Zenda, one of the kings of Ruritania has an affair with an English noblewoman, who bears his child. Several generations later, one of that child's descendants bears an uncanny resemblance to the current King of Ruritania, leading to an Emergency Impersonation. In the 1979 comic film version with Peter Sellers, he plays King Rudolf IV in the opening sequence; once that character dies, he plays both Rudolf V and Syd, the working-class chap who bears the uncanny resemblance. It is implied that Syd was the result of an affair Rudolf IV had.
  • In The Secret History, narrator Richard Papen is in love with Camilla, one half of a fraternal pair of twins. She and her twin, Charles, look virtually identical... and when Richard finds out they're a little too close, he's titillated by the thought. Eww.
  • The post-finale Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch novels reveal that Gul Macet, played by Marc Alaimo in Star Trek: The Next Generation, is a cousin of Alaimo's Deep Space Nine character Gul Dukat. Apparently, the two did not get along, and another character even speculates that the reason Macet has a beard is that he was trying to lessen the resemblance.
  • Discworld:
    • In Mort, Princess Keli closely resembles her great-great-grandfather, despite being a pampered princess rather than a yurt-dwelling horse barbarian.
    • In The Last Hero, Paul Kidby's painting of High Priest Hughnon Ridcully is basically Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully with a better-trimmed beard and a bishop's hat. Possibly justified, as their mannerisms and attitudes are so clearly parallel that there's a good chance they really are identical twins.
  • In Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth, John Taylor resembles his older male relatives, so much so that John's late father, resurrected to meet his grown son for the first time, points out John's resemblance to his father.
  • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the late Sir Charles' wayward brother is said to have resembled a family portrait of Lord Hugo, a distant ancestor, to an uncanny degree. Could be considered a Chekhov's Gun, as the brother's secret son is the villain of the story, and both shared Lord Hugo's inclination toward evil.
  • In the Honor Harrington books, Michael Oversteegen greatly resembles his relative, the infamous Baron High Ridge. Oversteegen is, however, otherwise the complete opposite of his relative, being a man of integrity, honor, bravery, and general all-around badassitude who has zero patience for either High Ridge or his various other idiotic relatives who somehow wound up in positions of power in the High Ridge government.
    • Meanwhile, Albrecht Detweiler is stated to bear an uncanny resemblance to all of his sons. Of course, in this case, the reason is because they are all his clones. Just as he was a clone of his father.
  • Emmanuel from Malevil describes his Uncle Samuel, noting that in doing so he also describes himself.
  • In the Ghosts of Fear Street book Horror Hotel Part 1, the protagonist discovers that he looks almost identical to a distant relative who's been dead for years. This is bad news, because it turns out that relative was a murderer and his victim's ghost is out for revenge.
  • An Uncanny Semi-Family Resemblence: The ancient Greek story Aethiopica, King Hydaspes and Queen Persinna of Ethiopia cast out their infant daughter Chariclea because she is white. After many adventures, it is revealed that she is, in fact, the perfect image of a picture of Andromeda that her mother had looked at while she conceived, and so Chariclea really is their daughter with "maternal impression" explaining her looks.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, Honoria Glossop's cousin Heloise Pringle not only looks exactly like her but has the same exact personality, to the point where Bertie is severely creeped out.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, he and his uncle resemble each other strongly.
    The likeness settled any doubt. It was Freckles over again, only older and well dressed.
  • In The Woman in White, Laura and Anne, who resemble each other strongly, turn out to be half-sisters.
  • In Wen Spencer's Tinker, Tinker and Oilcan look more like siblings than cousins.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jenny was always described as Tom's miniature, though their jokes about changing places were only jokes. Even after seven years in the Land of Faerie, Jack can see Tom's resemblance.
  • In Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, a five-year-old Celia is clearly Hector Bowen's child.
  • In Hercule Poirot's Christmas, Simeon Lee's Black Sheep son Harry resembles him to a degree that confuses the family butler when he returns, although his other sons take after their mother (a Posthumous Character). Both of Lee's illegitimate sons also resemble him, throwing the butler into even further confusion and providing Poirot with the vital clue.
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet deals with a family lineage through something like 800 years, and at times characters are said to resemble their ancestors from centuries past. Most notably, Madoc is a positive bearer of Occult Blue Eyes and somehow passes them on to his psychic descendants even if they're 99% Native American.
  • In the Lensman series, Virgil Samms has a pair of cousins (who are themselves identical twins) who are the sons of his father's twin brother and his mother's twin sister. They're explicitly stated to be not quite "identical cousins", but they're close enough to allow Samms to go undercover impersonating one of them (who in turn impersonates Samms himself so that he's not suspiciously absent).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In the episode "The Dream", Miss Brooks has a daughter that looks just like her, while Mr. Conklin has a grandson that looks just like him. A Justified Trope, as it is All Just a Dream
  • The Koenig brothers in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all of whom are played by Patton Oswalt. A Running Gag is that each brother refers to another as "the shorter one". The other Running Gag is that the brothers constantly drop hints they're clones or possibly androids, usually deliberately in order to mess with people.
  • In Arrested Development, Andy Richter plays Donnie Richter, a teacher... and also his identical brother Andy himself... and his other three identical brothers Rocky, Emmett, and Chareth (he's apparently one of a set of quintuplets).
  • All My Children has Lily and Ava, identical half-sisters.
  • In 'Allo 'Allo!, Rene is supposed to be shot dead by the Germans but manages to wrangle his way out of it. The explanation? He spends the rest of the series posing as his identical twin brother, also called Rene. Of course half the cast know the truth but they never let slip to the other half.
  • In Are You Being Served?, John Inman, who regularly played Mr. Humphries, also portrayed his mother in a film.
  • Elizabeth Montgomery as witchy cousins Samantha and Serena on Bewitched. Jeannie and her sister, also named Jeannie, on I Dream of Jeannie was essentially a straight-up lift.
  • Blackadder: Each of the four series featured a member of the Blackadder family in a different historical era, all played by Rowan Atkinson. Baldrick, Melchett and George were given the same treatment. Specifically, Edmund Blackadder's Scottish cousin MacAdder appeared in the episode "Duel and Duality".
  • In Blake's 7 Tarrant is revealed to have a brother who looked exactly like him for no apparent reason and is killed off in the episode he is introduced in without even meeting Tarrant despite having been separated for years.
  • A 1992 Blossom episode during which grandpa Buzz tells Blossom how he met her grandmother Ruby in World War II. In the flashback sequence, Mayim Bialik plays Ruby (a member of the Women's Army Corps) while David Lascher (who plays Blossom's boyfriend Vinny) doubles as a younger Buzz.
  • The Brady Bunch:
    • In the episode "Sergeant Emma", Alice goes out of town for a week and has her identical cousin Emma come to fill in for her. Emma is a retired Women's Army Corp sergeant who proceeds to run the Brady household like an Army barracks. Hilarity Ensues.
    • The episode "You're Never Too Old" has Robert Reed and Florence Henderson as Mike and Carol's respective grandparents.
  • The Mayor from Buffy the Vampire Slayer exploits this trope the same way as Robert Gadling above. Oddly it seems that he's pretty much always been Mayor and no one ever caught on. Well, demon sacrifices aside he IS a really good Mayor
  • In El Chavo del ocho Doña Florinda is exactly like her niece Popis and Chilindrina is exactly like her great-grandmother Doña Nieves, in both cases played by the same actresses.
  • Invoked in Community episode Basic Genealogy:
    Annie: [about Abed's female cousin] Does she look like you but with a wig and lipstick?
    Abed: No, that's Halle Berry.
  • In the Dad's Army episode "My Brother and I", Captain Mainwaring's degenerate drunken brother Barry, also played by Arthur Lowe, makes an appearance.
  • In the Diagnosis: Murder episode "Inheritance of Death", Dick Van Dyke played most (if not all) of the elderly members of the Nash family.
  • A Different World: Jasmine Guy playing Whitley Gilbert and Whitley's cousin Lisa.
  • In the Diff'rent Strokes sixth season episode "The Van Drummonds", Conrad Bain plays both Mr. Drummond and his female cousin Anna, while Dana Plato plays Drummond's daughter Kimberly and Anna's son Hans.
  • When Earl's sister, Pearl, visited on Dinosaurs, it was played by the same full sized puppet only dressed as a girl. No one really saw the resemblance.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Freema Agyeman had a minor role as Cyber-controlled Torchwood employee Adeola Oshodi in "Army of Ghosts". When she was subsequently cast in the following season as Martha Jones, they explained it away by having Martha mention in her first episode that Adeola was her cousin.
    • Also done with Eve Myles, who first appeared in an episode centered around Charles Dickens. Myles was later cast as Gwen Cooper in the spin-off Torchwood. When the members of Torchwood 3 appeared on Doctor Who, it's explained that the earlier character is a distant relative of Gwen's, further influenced by some Timey-Wimey Ball effect that makes them identical.
  • Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant comment upon this trope in behind-the-scenes material for Extras, musing on introducing a sister for Gervais' character in the show's sitcom-within-the-sitcom — played by Gervais, with the only difference being an alternate pair of glasses. Indeed, the sister appeared in this manner in the Extras Christmas Special.
  • Larry "Grand-Ma-Ma" Johnson, in commercials and in Family Matters. Also in Family Matters, Jaleel White playing Steve Urkel, and his cousin Myrtle.
  • In Friends, all of Joey's 7 sisters, while not played by the same actor, had almost identical appearance, hair style (dark and voluminous) and even similar names. This is a plot point in the "The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister", when Chandler makes out with one sister and can't figure out which one.
  • In the early '90s, General Hospital brought back fan favorite Anthony Geary, not as his iconic character Luke Spencer — whom he refused to play if he were not accompanied by the equally legendary Laura — but as Luke's lookalike distant cousin Bill.
  • One episode of The Golden Girls had Bea Arthur play her character Dorothy's grandmother in a flashback.
  • Good Luck Charlie: A video of Bob from his high school basketball days shows that he looked exactly like his son P.J. does today, only with longer hair.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Lord Rickard's facial structure is almost a dead ringer for Ned's somber look in his later years (as portrayed by Sean Bean), and his hair is tied up in the same way as Jon Snow's in Season 6. It does tie a lot into how Jon looks more legitimately a Stark despite not being Ned's direct descendant.
    • Tommen grew up to look identical to his first cousin once removed (on both sides, of course) Martyn Lannister in the next season as Chapman had played the small role of Martyn in Season 3 before taking over the role. But given how much incest is in their family, can anyone blame them?
  • Thrice on Hannah Montana. Miley Cyrus plays Miley Stewart and her visiting cousin Luann Stewart. At the same time, Billy Ray Cyrus plays both girls' fathers, Robbie Ray and Bobby Ray. In another episode, Moises Arias plays both Rico and Rico's rival Australian cousin, Angus.
  • On Haven, Audrey looks eerily like her mom, Lucy, who was in the town in the 80s. Given recent revelations, there may be a reason for that. Audrey is Lucy. She is apparently immortal and has amnesia.
  • Played straight on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, where Iolaus had a look-alike cousin in two episodes. Inverted, however, with Kevin Todd Smith playing both Iphicles and Ares. Both are half-brothers to Hercules, but they aren't related to each other.
    • Jodie Rimmer played Lilith on Young Hercules and daughter Seska on Hercules. Lampshaded by Seska referring to her mother as a "wild one" back in the day.
  • Ali Larter on Heroes played Nikki Sanders, a hero with super strength and multiple personalities. After Nikki was killed in season two, Larter went on to play Tracy Strauss, who had the ability to freeze objects and who was apparently Nikki's twin sister. There was supposedly a third "twin", Barbara, but she has not been seen and it is unsure whether she has powers.
  • On Kyle XY, Kyle is identical to his father Adam and Jessi is identical to her mother Sara, and well-cast adult actors were given to justify this. Both characters could have easily been clones, given the circumstances of their gestations, but each was later given the other biological parent.
  • MacGyver (1985): Jack Dalton and his father, Jack Sr., in "Ma Dalton".
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. first season episode "The Bow-Wow Affair", series regular Leo G. Carroll played both his regular role as U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly, and a one-time role as Waverly's cousin, Quentin Lester Baldwin.
  • Married... with Children:
    • Marcy D'Arcy's cousin, Mandy. This is lampshaded by Bud and Peggy, who start discussing this trope:
      Bud: Identical cousins. There's no such thing.
      Peggy: Well, sure there is! Samantha and Serena; Patty and Cathy...
    • Ed O'Neill also played Al Bundy's father in a couple of dream sequences.
  • Martin Lawrence in Martin playing his mother. And although not related, Martin looked a lot like his neighbor Shenaenae, Gina's brat neighbor Roscoe, Gina's coworker Bob from Accounting, Otis, Dragonfly Jones, Jerome, and Elroy.
  • An unusual one in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Richard Schaal played boyfriend-from-the-past Howard Arnell in an early episode; Howard and Mary had a disastrous date. Then about six months later, Mary starts dating Paul Arnell, Howard's brother, also played by Schaal. They break up after one episode, and about six months after that, Mary encounters Howard again (Schaal again) at a high school reunion event.
  • On M*A*S*H, Gary Burghoff once played Radar's mother in a home movie.
  • The season 9 episode Dead Letters of Midsomer Murders features two actors returning from the pilot, playing relatives of their original characters (who had been murdered in the pilot). That someone looks much like their sister might not be so strange, but someone looking very much like their cousin (including hairstyle and clothing sense) despite never having met their relative does help to explain why Barnaby is confused by their appearance.
  • In the finale of Mighty Med, this is revealed to be why Hapax the Elder looks exactly like Alan, as Hapax is Alan's paternal grandfather.
  • The Nanny: In "Fran's Roots", the flashback to Fran Fine's childhood has Fran Drescher playing her onscreen mother Sylvia. However, the natural brunette Drescher wears a blonde wig to better resemble Renee Taylor.
  • In North and South (U.S.), Madeline's mother was her identical double. The resemblance was so great that a man who had only seen Madeline's photograph recognized her as being the daughter of a woman whose painting was hanging in a whorehouse he had visited some years before. The difference is that the woman in the painting is considerably darker, and Madeline (Lesley-Anne Down) was blackmailed by the man because he knew she was secretly African-American.
  • The Patty Duke Show: Patty Duke has an identical cousin. Somewhat justified since Kathy and Patty Lane's fathers (played by William Schallert) were identical twin brothers.
    • Frequently spoofed. Full House occasionally subverted this by having one of the Olsen twins play Michelle and the other play a cousin from Greece. Joey even sang a line from the theme song of The Patty Duke Show when explaining to the girls why they look so much alike.
    • Similarly, during the mid-1980s, Kids Incorporated had Renee Sands play her character of the same name as well as British cousin Samantha on a couple of episodes.
  • In The Persuaders! episode "A Death in the Family", Roger Moore plays three members of his usual character's family, including a woman. This is lampshaded at the end when Danny Wilde's aunt arrives, played by... his co-star Tony Curtis.
  • In Quantum Leap, Scott Bakula plays his character's own father (albeit in makeup) in the episode The Leap Home.
    • In the pilot episode, another actor played his father at a younger age, while a different young actor played Sam, with Scott Bakula's voice dubbed in whenever he spoke.
    • Bakula also played his father in one scene in the episode "Promised Land" when Sam Leaped into someone else in his hometown.
  • The short-lived 1960s sitcom The Second Hundred Years featured Monte Markham as both modern day urbanite and his crotchety old grandfather, an Alaskan gold miner who had been trapped in the ice for 67 years, and recently thawed.
  • Newman of Seinfeld in "The Bottle Deposit", while figuring out how to transport bottles and cans to Michigan, considers a photo of his mother, which is actually Wayne Knight in a wig. In another episode, Frank Costanza finds a photo of someone who looks exactly like him and figures it must be his cousin Carlo. He flies to Italy to meet him, only to find out his name is Guiseppi. Guiseppi/Carlo is played by Jerry Stiller, and rather poorly done by Seinfeld standards.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Brent Spiner plays Data, Lore, B4, and Dr. Soong. Justified in that the first three are androids whose faces were formed from moulds of the face of their creator, Soong. Spiner came back on Star Trek: Enterprise and played, yes, Dr. Soong's grandfather. And then again in Star Trek: Picard as Dr Soong's son.
    • Picard's nephew is identical to him as a child, obviously because they're both played by the same actor. This gets funnier when Picard says that his nephew looks exactly like his brother as a child, which would seem to indicate that Jean-Luc and Robert were identical non-twin brothers. A more cynical viewer might start wondering just how close Jean-Luc and his sister-in-law were around the crucial time.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series William Shatner played Kirk's brother George Samuel Kirk in one episode. The only distinction between both characters was that George had a mustache.
  • The Steve Harvey Show: Cedric the Entertainer plays Coach Cedric Robinson and Grandma Pudding.
  • In a few live-action segments of The Super Mario Bros Super Show!, Mario and Luigi were visited by many relatives who all looked like them (for example, their mother was obviously Mario's actor in drag).
  • Teen Wolf's Kira shares a very strong resemblance to her mother as a young woman, to the extent where her mother in a flashback episode is played by the same actress as Kira.
  • In one episode of That's So Raven, Raven-Symoné played about 3 or 4 roles (including her uncle, her grandma, and her baby cousin).
  • The villain in "Reign of Terror", an episode of The Time Tunnel set in The French Revolution, is played by Whit Bissel, a series regular as General Kirk, the military head of the Time Tunnel project. Kirk is confused as his family is from Scotland, but eventually discovers there was a previously unknown French branch.
  • In Twin Peaks Laura Palmer and her dark-haired cousin Madeline (a nod to Vertigo) are both played by Sheryl Lee.
  • In the Wonder Woman TV series (1975), the first season takes place in 1942, where Wonder Woman attaches herself to love interest Steve Trevor, played by Lyle Wagner. In Season Two, the show is retooled to take place in modern times. Lyle Wagner plays Steve Trevor again, but this is supposed to be the original Steve Trevor's son.
  • Everyone in Paul Pfeiffer's family on The Wonder Years has black hair and glasses, in a rare example of this being done with different actors. It's kind of like Milhouse's family on The Simpsons; Milhouse is also based on Paul in appearance and as the protagonist's best friend.
  • Every member of the Balowski family on The Young Ones was played by Alexei Sayle. Various Balowskis of varying degrees of sanity appeared, but the most common was the boys' Russian-emigre landlord Jerzei.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Peanuts Linus and his little brother Rerun look almost exactly the same. The only way they can be told apart is height, hair (Rerun's is a bit flatter) or outfit (Linus wears red and black stripes while Rerun wears overalls).

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street
    • Elmo has various cousins who've appeared on occasion, who are all based on the Elmo puppet with different accessories.
    • Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster also have some identical relatives. Though in this case, it may have to do more with their species rather than bloodline.
    • Da Niao on Zhima Jie (Chinese version) is Big Bird's identical cousin. Other characters in international productions have been identical to American characters or said to be their relatives, but not both at the same time.
    • Until an episode of The Furchester Hotel introduced Cookie Monster's British cousin Biscuit Monster, who looks like Cookie in a bowler hat.
  • Similarly Emily "Ma" Bear in The Muppet Show, A Muppet Family Christmas, and (as Mrs Fozziewig) The Muppet Christmas Carol is identical to her son Fozzie except for a dress, grey hair, and glasses.
    • In an early episode, an unnamed cousin of Fozzie's was in the theater audience. He was virtually identical except he wore a bowler.
    • In the Star Wars episode of the show, Mark Hamill appears as both Luke Skywalker and himself; it's stated they are cousins.

  • Older Than Steam: Viola passing for her twin ''brother'' Sebastian in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
  • There have been productions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in which the same person who plays Johanna also plays her mother Lucy in the flashbacks.
  • In The Rocky Horror Show, which inspired The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Eddie and Dr. Scott are (traditionally) played by the same actor.
  • In Book-It Repertory Theatre's play of Sense and Sensibility, (non-twin) brothers Edward and Robert Ferrars were played by the same actor.
  • In the play I Hate William Shakespeare!, the skit based on Hamlet contains these lines (along with a suggestion that the characters in question be played by the same actor):
    Hamlet: Ophelia! You're not dead!
    Laertes: It is I, Laertes, son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia, so I can see where you would make that mistake.
  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: Nathaniel to his uncle the Colonel. They are supposed to look very strongly alike, and in part IV: Gilded Cages, when both characters appear at roughly the same age at two different points in the timeline, they are designed to be played by the same actor.

    Video Games 
  • In what is part this trope and part Strong Family Resemblance, in Back to the Future: The Game, Marty runs into his grandfather, Artie McFly, who looks and sounds just like George McFly (both being based on Crispin Glover's performance in the film). Artie's father, William, is once again played by Michael J. Fox, who had previously portrayed him in a photo shown in the third film (even though Marty himself is actually voiced by AJ LoCascio). This leads one to believe that if the pattern continues, since Marty's son will end up looking like Michael J. Fox, his grandson and great-grandson will look like Crispin Glover, and so on. Also, Kid Tannen is basically just Biff with a moustache and zoot suit.
  • In the prologue to the 3DS' built-in minigame Find Mii II, the player's Mii brings this up when their children, the prince and princess, are introduced - they are simply said Mii with different (and unlockable) hat pieces.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, textual implications suggest Echani genetic variation in terms of appearance is very small, with siblings all looking like identical twins and almost identical to their same-sex parent. It was all a cheap way of explaining why they used the same model for all of Atris's Handmaidens while still having them be siblings, despite having an explicit note the one that joins you looks different due to being their half-sibling and yet still looks the same. When the Exile inquires about this the Handmaiden is genuinely surprised that you've noticed, since outsiders typically don't. To Echani on the other hand, her illegitimacy is obvious.
  • In Paranoiac, it's mentioned that Miki not only looks incredibly like her dead aunt, Saeki, but their personalities are just as similar. Both are described to be nice girls, but mental illness runs in the family and both began to suffer from depression. Saeki's depression got worse, to the point of paranoia and eventually committing suicide, with Miki potentially going the same path, as shown in the Bad Ending.
  • In Suikoden V, Dragon Cavalry commander Rahal and his Cloud Cuckoolander sister Rania look virtually identical, to the point that they'd fall under Half-Identical Twins if not for Rania being a year older. Not immediately obvious for most of the game, due to Rahal wearing battle armor and Rania being in civilian dress, but when the plot calls for Rahal to dress as a woman the only visible difference from his sister is that she wears glasses and he doesn't. Apparently they have a history of exploiting this for pranks.
  • In an example that would make Nurse Joy proud, recurring Fire Emblem series character Anna is finally promoted to a playable character in Fire Emblem Awakening... but she also runs the Outrealm Gate and appears as a traveling merchant in the same game. As it turns out, there are more than half a dozen "Annas", and they're all sisters. Since the Outrealm Gate is described as a portal to other worlds, this could also explain how she manages to show up in so many otherwise separate worlds across the series...

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney, brothers Kristoph and Klavier Gavin look almost exactly the same, down to the hairstyle. Their resemblance makes the first encounter between Apollo (who used to be mentored by Kristoph) and Klavier a bit awkward: Apollo can't help but stare, and Klavier... gets the wrong idea.
    Klavier: I must say I'm used to being inspected by the ladies... But this is the first time I've felt this way with a man.

  • Claire and Clinton in Questionable Content look so similar that they were initially mistaken for Half-Identical Twins, although Claire is actually several years older. They have the same face, freckles, hair and eye colour, and even similar glasses.
  • Daisy and her aunt Blue in Nicole and Derek: With her hair dyed blue, Daisy is a dead ringer for Blue, as she appeared in the previous comic, Namir Deiter. The resemblance is so strong that patrons of the bar (Blue owns, Daisy works there) often think she is Blue. One character assumed they were mother and daughter.
  • Used as a plot point in El Goonish Shive - the reason Diane and Susan look so similar to each other is that they're both descendants of Adrian Raven, a half-immortal. Susan is descended from a woman he'd been with in his actual Twenties, while Diane is his direct daughter. Susan's father apparently strongly resembled Raven as well.

    Web Original 
  • Every single foreign character in The Frollo Show. Whether they be Arabic, German, Russian, Mexican, or any other nationality, the only thing that distinguishes a foreign character from their main character cousin is the hat they wear.
  • Brownie looks an awful lot like her toddler cousin Angelica.
  • Inverted with the "celebrity vampire" meme, where pictures of Older Than They Look actors are compared to their younger selves and 19th-century photographs of similar-looking people to prove the actor is secretly immortal (Keanu Reeves and Nicholas Cage are popular choices).

    Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra, Mako and Bolin meet their late father's relatives in Ba Sing Se. It'd be easier to count the cousins who don't have the same snub nose and heavy eyebrows that Bolin has.
  • Back to the Future: The Animated Series took this to ridiculous levels by having a Tannen in every timeline they go to, no matter what country. Taken Up to Eleven when they even encounter a T-rex Tannen in a timeline where the dinosaurs weren't wiped out.
  • In South Park, pretty much everyone in the extended Cartman family is overweight and has the same annoying tendencies (whining, eating too much, etc.) that he does. The only exceptions seem to be Cartman's mother and a young girl who resembles her.
  • Chum Chum's cousin Muhc Muhc in Fanboy and Chum Chum.
  • In Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster, Daphne's Scottish cousin Shannon looks just like her, only with short hair and a tartan skirt, and is voiced by the same actress doing a Scottish accent.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the Neutrons have a family reunion where everyone looks like Hugh (except for one who's a caricature of creator John A. Davis).
  • Both Tom and Jerry have identical cousins; Jerry has the super-strong Muscles ("Jerry's Cousin"), while Tom has his cowardly (and mouse-phobic) cousin George ("Timid Tabby"). Naturally, mistaken identity gags abound in both cartoons.
  • The Loud House: You can clearly see that the Loud kids are all siblings, but Lincoln and Lucy take it to an extreme. Lincoln strongly resembles his grandfather down to the white hair, while Lucy looks like an exact copy of her great-grandmother.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Gwen has an identical cousin, Sunny, though her true form is her Anodite form.
  • In one episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Shaggy is showing Scooby pictures of his relatives, and they all look exactly like Shaggy, right down to the goatee (even the girls)!
  • In the Donkey Kong Jr. episode "Double Or Nothing" from Saturday Supercade Bones' cousin Lucy Belle looks like a gender swapped version of him, Junior is quick to point this out, afterwards when Lucy Belle gets kidnapped so she won't attend the meeting for her uncle's will Junior has Bones dress up as her to take her place.
  • In The Magic School Bus, Arnold's cousin Janet basically looks like a female version of him. She has the same hair style, also wears glasses and sports a feminine version of his regular outfit.

  • Although they were only cousins (their mothers were sisters), King George V of England and the Czar Nicolas II looked like twins. See for yourself. George has blue eyes, but that probably won't be much help.
    • For that matter, George's other cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II could probably pass as either of them after a shaving accident. However, Wilhelm wasn't related to Czar Nicholas at all, being the son of George's father's sister.
    • And George's grandson Prince Michael of Kent, who's still around today, has the same uncanny resemblance to the Tsar, to the extent that he's very popular among royalists in Russia. It helps that he grew the Russian-style beard to hide a scar, and that he's named after Nicholas II's younger brother.
  • In Big Finish Doctor Who's audio dramas, India Fisher plays Eighth and Sixth Doctor companion Charley Pollard. Fisher also voiced Charley's sister Cissy in the Gallifrey spin-off series.
  • Outside of their trademark costumes, Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo Marx bore an incredible resemblance to each other. They would even occasionally play each other's parts in their stage shows with no one the wiser. This is part of why the much-loved Mirror Routine was so successful; in the same outfit, Groucho and Harpo are practically identical.
    • This ended in a Moment of Awesome — on the game show I've Got a Secret, Harpo once appeared as the contestant, with his brother Groucho as one of the panelists. Nobody, Groucho included, could guess Harpo's secret. note 
    • Reportedly this exchange happened between a Marx Brothers fan and an out-of-makeup Groucho who just wanted a quiet lunch alone:
      Interrupting Fan: Are you Harpo Marx?
      Irritated Groucho: No, are you?
  • Actors Alan Hale (Senior) and Alan Hale (Junior). One played Little John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, the other is famed as the Skipper on Gilligan's Island. Without looking at the date of their films there is no way to tell them apart.
  • Back in The '90s, a running joke was that the public appearances of Michael Jackson were actually his sister LaToya Jackson.
  • In the Bouguereau painting Charity, it is not possible to tell which baby is Yeshua and which one is Yochanan, since he painted them to look identical, even though they are cousins and 6 months apart. In most other paintings of them, he not only makes the age difference apparent, but has them wear different colored clothing and have different colored hair.
  • An old story goes that, when a Roman emperor was touring their conquered area in Jerusalem, his guards noticed a local man who bore a striking resemblance to the emperor. As a joke they brought them together. The emperor thought this was funny and asked the man, "Has your mother ever been to Rome?" The man replied, "No, but my father has."
    • The original version of this joke was supposedly told about Julius Caesar in Gaul (modern day France) seeing a man who looked very similar to himself before continuing in exactly the same way.
  • Half-brothers Napoleon III and Charles de Morny looked incredibly alike; slap some hair on top of Morny's bald head and you had a spitting image of the Emperor.
  • One Restoration poem is told from the point of view of a man who knows that his wife is flagrantly unfaithful. One day he asks her to explain why all the children look like him. She explains that she is very careful to be unfaithful to him only when she is already pregnant.
  • Once a Victorian lady had safely produced an heir and a spare, it was socially acceptable for her to engage in a discreet affair. As a consequence, one lady remembered being sent off for her Season with one piece of advice, "Never comment on a likeness" — for a third son or the like, who might easily not look like the older half-siblings. One lady was indeed furious that the wife of the man she had an affair with had a child that looked just like him.

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