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Whole Costume Reference

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Often a character in a work dresses in an outfit practically identical to an outfit worn by another character or Real Life person, as a kind of Cosplay on the character's part, and a Shout-Out on the part of the costumer, designer, and/or artist.

The Whole Costume Reference is when you take the cosplay part out. The character is just wearing that outfit. There is no indication or clue within the work that this character is dressing as that other person. Also:

  • There's no fan convention.
  • It's not Halloween.
  • It's not a costume party.
  • No one mentions what the costume is based on.
  • It is not part of becoming a Legacy Character.

This can include live action works, when the costume actually is the costume worn in an earlier work, as a form of Prop Recycling. Many low budget works do this. But again, there has to be no mention or clue of the work it was reused from.

Compare Historical-Domain Character, Serial Numbers Filed Off, Whole Plot Reference, Clothing Switch, Cosplay Fan Art.

Contrast Dresses the Same (in that wearing the same outfit is seen as bad).


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fic 



    Live Action TV 
  • Land of the Giants had an episode where one of the girls ends up in the skating dress from the beginning of Snow White and the Three Stooges.
  • It was said the reason Klinger stopped crossdressing on M*A*S*H was that he had worn just about every dress in the studio wardrobe stock that would fit him. So inevitably many of the dresses would be this trope.
  • In the Firefly episode "The Train Job," the Alliance soldiers are dressed in costumes recycled from Starship Troopers. (To save money.) Similarly, the soldiers' suits were also used in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Those costumes show up everywhere. It's a testament to how sturdy the suits actually are. They were used in at least two TV shows and were eventually re-sold back to the production of the sequels.
  • When Tony daydreams about Kate in NCIS, she's wearing Gogo's school uniform from Kill Bill. This is entirely appropriate for film buff and Handsome Lech Tony.
  • All the time on The Amazing Race with locals and Pit Stop Greeters.
  • In the "Fashion is Danger" music video from Flight of the Conchords, Bret and Jemaine are dressed as EarthForce and Excalibur officers. No word on if this is a case of Prop Recycling or not.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Robot", Harry Sullivan dresses in the same outfit used by Steed in The Avengers.
    • In "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", the Doctor dresses like Sherlock Holmes. Leela, not to be outdone, dresses at first as Tinker (the Kid Sidekick of British pulp hero Sexton Blake) and later more femininely as Eliza Doolitle.
    • Thanks to heavy Prop Recycling, the two most stylish ladies in British 70s sci-fi television - the first Romana from Doctor Who and Servalan from Blake's 7 - appear to share a wardrobe. The two most notably shared outfits are the purple military jacket suit and the white dress with the feathers.
  • Tales from the Crypt: The episode "You, Murderer" famously "starred" the late (digitally inserted) Humphrey Bogart. The costar was Isabella Rosellini in a costume just like the one her mother, Ingrid Bergman, wore opposite Bogart in Casablanca.
  • Vera has Vera casually wearing an outfit very similar to the Fourth Doctor's from Doctor Who.
  • Arrow has Cyrus Gold, who seems to be a mixture of the monster and Jason, along with Deathstroke, who just seems straight Jason.
  • The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Magical Place" has Skye dress up like fellow agent and Living Legend Melinda May in order to extract some info from a person of interest. Later, May takes notice:
    May: (smirking) Nice jacket.
  • When infiltrating the 80s high school in Danger 5 Season 2, Ilsa wears Asuka's school uniform from Neon Genesis Evangelion.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Some of ACH's warmup and entrance gear sets are dead ringers for manga or video game characters, usually One Piece or Dragon Ball. Whether or not the connection is mentioned depends on the promotion, it usually being ignored in Ring of Honor, for example.


    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • This happens all the time in Erfworld, due to the hundreds of pop-culture references the characters make unconsciously. Significant ones include Ansom fighting while dressed as Evel Knievel, Jillian dressing as Sandy from Grease while Vinny and his group dress as West Side Story thugs, several of Wanda's costumes referencing horror movies, and Jack veiling himself as Kain from Final Fantasy IV. In addition, this is a game mechanic that gives them more bonuses.
  • Gunshow: The designs of the Suicide Club are a whole costume reference to the main cast of The Young Ones.
  • From Homestuck, Rufioh is a whole character reference to Rufio from Hook and Dante Basco, in reference to Dante reading through Homestuck on tumblr and becoming a fan. Therefore, Rufioh's outfit is pretty much identical to Rufio's aside from the obvious species differences.
  • The man in this & a few following cartoons of The KAMics isn't a Mountie, he just likes dressing as one.
  • Zoe in Sluggy Freelance steels her nerves to join the boys' adventure, dressed as Lara Croft. (Is it possible the other costume changes in the Stormbringer arc were this trope?)

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Calla wears a dress that's just like Snow White's. No reason is given it looks like that, it just is.
  • There was A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode where they encountered a gamer girl who wore a pair of shoes identical to those worn by Sonic the Hedgehog. Given that shoes are all Sonic wears, this technically counts as a "Whole Costume Reference".
  • An episode of Science Court had the resident idiot prosecutor Doug Savage parachute onto the scene in an Rebel Alliance pilot suit, for no reason whatsoever.
  • In The Venture Bros., Dr. Girlfriend wears a pink skirt and jacket associated with Jackie Kennedy, whose name is never mentioned brought up, to the confusion of Dr. Girlfriend.
    "Who the hell is... Jacqueline Onassis?"
    • The scene in question had Dr. Girlfriend playing a party game where the other person had to describe the person whose name was taped on her back. Cue the confusion when the other guest ends up describing her as well as Jackie Kennedy, followed by the above line after it ended.
    • Even stranger, she briefly thought she was hearing herself described anyway.
    • Dr. Orpheus' outfit is specifically based on the good count's in the original Dracula film. The Phantom Limb's design is based on The Phantom.
  • In the very first episode of Static Shock, Static and Richie run through some costume designs. One of them was Black Vulcan's outfit from Superfriends. Richie says it makes him look like "a mascot from a battery commercial".
  • The Halloween episode of Young Justice had Mal Duncan wearing Superboy's 90's outfit. Karen Beecher also showed up wearing an outfit resembling her costume from the Teen Titans animated series, while Kid Flash was dressed as Teen Wolf. Random teens dressed as Donna Troy and Harley Quinn could be seen as well.
  • Tornado Champion's costume from Batman: The Brave and the Bold was the outfit worn by Red Tornado in his earliest Silver Age appearances.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Peter Parker wears an outfit reminiscent of that of Ben Tennyson. Unsurprisingly, the latter half of Earth's Mightiest Heroes was overseen by Man of Action, who created Ben 10.
  • One episode of The Super Hero Squad Show has Captain America convincing Wolverine to join the "All Captains Squad", a team of Captain Ethnic superheroes. Wolverine shows up as "Captain Canada", and is dressed as the Guardian from Alpha Flight.
  • An episode of SuperTed had a scene where a villain tried to hijack a musical performance, with the real singers left Bound and Gagged backstage. One of the singers resembled Johnny Cash and was wearing his iconic "Man in Black" outfit, another looked like Dolly Parton and had one of her pink dresses, and a third looked like Minnie Pearl and had on her outfit from Hee Haw.
  • In Futurama, Fry is almost always seen wearing Jim Stark's outfit from Rebel Without a Cause.
  • The Gender Flip episode of Adventure Time had Fionna wearing Princess Serenity's white gown.
  • Two dresses worn by Courtney in the Total Drama animated series (one being a princess dress in Action, and the other being a wedding dress in World Tour) resemble palette swaps of Cinderella's iconic ballgown.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "It's About Time" was apparently an elaborate excuse to get Twilight Sparkle in an Old Snake costume. The only thing missing was a Badass Mustache.
    • Shining Armor's wedding suit is very similar to the suit worn by Prince William during his wedding to Kate Middleton, though whether it was intended as a homage to that event in particular or just based off of a British Royal Guards uniform is anyone's guess.
  • Irma from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) dresses like Jeanette from Alvin and the Chipmunks. They also have a similar design.
  • Avengers, Assemble! has two episodes where this happened:
    • The Bad Future of "Planet Doom" depicts Black Widow donning the costume and mask of Madame Maqsue, Spider-Man wearing a version of his Spider-Man: Noir costume, Hawkeye in his much-malinged The Ultimates 3 costume, and Falcon in his Ultimate Marvel costume instead of his usual outfit based on the mainstream comics version. (With that last one, you'd think it'd be the other way around, as Assemble tends to use designs based on the movies, where Falcon looks more like his Ultimate self. One would expect him to normally look like Ultimate Falcon and wear his 616 costume in the alternate timeline!)
    • "Dark Avengers" sees Captain America wear the "Captain/U.S. Agent" costume and Iron Man undergo a Palette Swap where his red is changed to black to evoke his Marvel Now armor.