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Whole Plot Reference

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Sometimes rather than just a brief reference or homage to some other work of fiction, a work will actually be a full-blown recreation of something else's story. This is most commonly done in sitcoms, and is likely a spoof to at least some degree.

Expect it to reference/parody the original's Signature Scenes.

Tropes Are Tools — a story can serve as a reference or re-mixed version of another one without just ripping it off. Clever parodies put a lot of their own creative thought in while still referencing the original.


Trope relations:


Other See also Homage, Foreign Remake, Fountain of Expies, Characteristic Trope, Transplanted Character Fic, and Recycled IN SPACE!... sometimes with the Serial Numbers Filed Off.

Compare Parody Episode, Whole Costume Reference (the clothing version) and Recycled Script (internal recycling). May be a Twice-Told Tale. For when this is subverted, see Not His Sled. The opposite would be a Shallow Parody, which claims to be a parody but has almost no real references to either the plot or any other aspect of the target.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Episode 15 of Digimon Adventure 02 is a reference to Kaiketsu Zubat, complete with Yolei and Hawkmon delivering a recreation of Zubat's Once an Episode declaration that he can prove he's better than the villain of the week at their signature skill.
  • The entire run of SSSS.GRIDMAN is unusual in that it's a reference to a plot that doesn't actually exist, as many of its plot points are homages to the unused preproduction material from the original Denkou Choujin Gridman. SSSS.DYNɅZENON follows suit by pulling nearly all of its major plot elements from one particular episode of the original show.
  • Episode 18 of the Dirty Pair TV series is a straight-up remake of the Clint Eastwood movie The Gauntlet, with the girls filling in for Clint.
  • Lupin III: Part II spent an episode remaking Murder by Death (with a different set of No Celebrities Were Harmed detectives, and set on a zeppelin for some damn reason).
  • Speaking of Astro Boy, his origin story bears more than a few parallels to Pinocchio. Knowing Osamu Tezuka, this was almost definitely intentional. He's remade stories from Faust to Crime and Punishment to The Bible.
  • An episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig is a futuristic homage to Taxi Driver, and another is a homage to the sniper shootout at the end of Full Metal Jacket. Lampshaded by one of Section 9's junior members, who thinks that Saito is pulling one over on them: The story Saito tells over their poker game is entertaining, but there is "an old movie" with the same plot.
  • "Battle Aboard the St. Anne", and "Pokemon Shipwreck", two episodes of a three-part arc on Pokémon, are directly inspired by The Poseidon Adventure.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica bears many, many, resemblances to Goethe's Faust. Not to mention that Sayaka's character arc is a reference to The Little Mermaid (The original Hans Christian Andersen tale, not the Disney one with the happy ending). Homura's experiences in Episode 10 are reminiscent of Phil Rogers' repeated attempts to save the homeless man in Groundhog Day.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion is one to Paradise Lost. With some homages to The Nutcracker as well.
  • Urusei Yatsura episode 75 is based on Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None — the episode's title actually means "and then there were none", and it uses a different nursery rhyme ("Who Killed Cock Robin") in the same manner that the novel uses the nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians".
  • Love Hina:
  • The entire Dragon Ball universe is an adaptation of the story of Son Goku, the Monkey King. One guess which character represents Son Goku.
  • Ouran High School Host Club has a manga chapter based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and a considerably looser adaptation in one episode of the anime.
  • Blame draws very heavily on the Iain Banks novel Feersum Endjinn for many elements of the setting and story (the Net/Cryptsphere, its substrate in the megastructure, the system corruption, the governing authority's attempt to restore order, the reincarnating Chief Scientist plotting against her boss, the wanderer walking the Earth until he can incarnate the child that will fix the Sphere). If Feersum Endjinn hadn't wrapped up the story itself, Blame! could easily have been a sequel.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, the gang fights a team of baddies who are perversions of the main characters from various Japanese myths.
  • Hello Kitty once did "The Little Match Girl". Yes, with the original ending. There's an entire series of Hello Kitty and her friends performing fractured fairy tales called Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater.
  • There's a series of illustrated stories that transform a lot of fairy tales into yuri, and twist the ending. For example, "Snow White" ended with the eponymous character living with the seven women and "The Little Mermaid" ended with the protagonist falling in love with her sister since the princess was a flirt who didn't notice her.
  • Prétear is Snow White made into a Magical Girl series.
  • Monster broadly mimics the story of the Beast from Revelation 13, but there are many subplots which mirror many popular fairy tales, including Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin. There is also an in-universe example, in that the characters unwittingly enact the plots of Bonaparta's fairy tales and his son's puppet show.
  • One chapter of Yandere Kanojo retells "Cinderella".
  • In an episode of Strawberry Marshmallow, Miu tells the story of Cinderella, with Matsuri as Cinderella, Chika and Ana as her stepsisters, Nobue as the prince, and herself as the Fairy Godmother. Miu being Miu, however, it's riddled with all sorts of weird additions and changes, and ends up with the Fairy Godmother marrying the prince as compensation for her falling down the stairs twice. She figured the original had a messed-up moral, which, if it's true, means she wants a thousand yen for the beauty salon.
  • The Queen's Blade animated adaptation has three of them per season:
  • The Tower of Heavens arc in Fairy Tail is one massive reference to the Etherion arc from Rave Master. Subtlety of the points where the older story is references varies. (Having the villains of each arc virtually identical was not that subtle, but some of the moments found are not ones you would notice if you didn't know to look.)
  • The Bount Filler Arc of Bleach is exactly the same as the Chapter Black arc of YuYu Hakusho up to the point that everyone enters Soul Society. What's especially noticeable is the beginning where Urahara's test to show Ichigo he relies too much on bankai is almost identical to Genkai's test to show Yusuke that he runs in without knowing enough about his enemies.
  • The Space Dandy episode "There's Music in the Darkness, Baby" (Episode 15) borrows heavily from the narrative style and visual design of Courage the Cowardly Dog. Ukuleleman would not look, sound, or act out of place if he were suddenly transplanted to Courage and made the focus of an episode.
  • The episode "The Lilliputian Hitcher" of Neon Genesis Evangelion is a not-quite-completely-following-the-original-plot homage to the film version of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain.
  • The Tailor Of Enbizaka, aside from building off of the song it's named after, features large elements from the Japanese folktale of Momotaro, with the primary character being born from a tree, meeting 3 friends who symbolize the animals Momotaro befriends, and going to a place called Onigashima and dealing with a demon there.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX:
    • Episode 10 shows that life in the Plantation inner city is basically Brave New World, and the kids are pretty much one of the lower classes used by the "adults" for their needs.
    • The plot of "The Beast and the Prince", the book that shows up in Episode 13, is strikingly similar to Hans Christian Andersen's version of The Little Mermaid.
  • One Piece Film: Gold: A film featuring an All-Star Cast, setting in a Casino City as background, involving a convoluted heist against a powerful evil casino owner in order to rescue a crew mate, only to find out this convoluted plan is the cover to another plan in order to trick the casino owner. Are we talking about this film or Ocean's Eleven?
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is basically a modern day retelling of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, just with one of the five suitors taking the place of the emperor. Most of the major characters' names and personalities are derived from the story in one way or another.
  • Oddman 11 is Scott Pilgrim as a raunchy Yuri harem comedy with Cute Monster Girls. The inspiration for the plot is even referenced in the very first chapter.
  • Episode 40b of Tamagotchi is about the Tama-Friends acting in a TAMAX-TV television show. The show mimics the plot of The Little Mermaid, with Lovelitchi as the mermaid who becomes lovesick after seeing Mametchi the pirate and resorts to some kind of magic to travel onto the land and find him.
  • Cheat Slayer is Garth Ennis' The Boys with isekai protagonists instead of super heroes.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Simple Samosa episode "Aampur Ke Choley" copies the plot of the Bollywood film Sholay, with Jalebi cast as the dacoit (bandit) leader and Samosa and Dhokla taking on the roles of the film's two protagonists.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • The European western graphic novel series McCoy once did a remake of the movie Comanche Station called Mescalero Station. Everything in the movie was in the graphic novel, including the twist ending.
  • Batman: Son of the Demon takes the plot of On Her Majesty's Secret Service practically whole cloth and applies it to Batman. A hero allies with the head of a known criminal organization to stop a mutual enemy. The hero marries his criminal ally’s beautiful daughter as part of their pact (but also because he kind of wants to). Due to the machinations of the villain, the marriage quickly ends in tragedy.
  • "Leavetaking", a story in the Batman: Black and White anthology series, reprises the parable of the Good Samaritan, with Batman in the role of the gravely injured man whom nobody will stop to help. In this updated version, the passersby include an African American teenager, an alcoholic, and a policeman who refuses to help because he doesn't want to deal with the paperwork he'd have to do. In the end, this being Gotham, there is no good samaritan, and Batman has to summon up his heroic willpower and drag himself to an emergency room.
  • Whole Plot Reference: A Stranger in Town is based on Django. In both stories, the protagonist arrives in an isolated settlement with a large and mysterious box that turns out to contain a BFG, and then uses that weapon against an army of invaders.

  • X-Men Fairy Tales is a series of these, casting the X-Men in the role of characters from various fables. Followed up by Spider-Man Fairy Tales and Avengers Fairy Tales.
  • Sometimes in The Spirit Will Eisner would create new versions of fairy tales, set in the 1940s.
  • Górsky & Butch do a brief Matrix parody in their first book. In the third one, they do a more extended parody: Butch makes a Face–Heel Turn, joining the agents of Comix, in hope of achieving his goals and finally ending the senseless plot so he can star in a 'real comic'. In the meantime Gorsky leads the resistance under the guise of Morfinius, attempting to destroy the Comix by making Jerry (the heroes Butt-Monkey sidekick) the main character. They also do Aliens at one point: the whole section of the comic is the movie but it turns out to be an illegal copy with borked subtitles: all sorts of whacky hijinks result from it, most importantly the aliens getting replaced with sheep because their name have been misspelled (makes sense in Polish) - the marines discover a nest with missing colonists hanging on the walls in oversized wool sweaters.
  • The comic book version of PvP did a homage/parody of The Matrix called "The Comix".
  • There's a Star Wars Expanded Universe comic featuring Luke's childhood friend Janek "Tank" Sunber, who'd joined the Empire, become a lieutenant, and ended up stationed on a planet of tribal aliens. The plot of that handful of comics is essentially Zulu, with Imperials desperately fighting wave after wave of aliens and being worn down.
  • Judge Dredd did this quite a bit in the late 80s and 90s, with parodies of such things as The Wizard of Oz, Twin Peaks, Edward Scissorhands, and many more.
  • The whole Hellfire Club section of the X-Men's The Dark Phoenix Saga is basically Chris Claremont's riff on The Avengers (1960s) episode "A Touch of Brimstone", in which Mrs. Peel becomes the Hellfire Club's Queen of Sin under the "authority" of John Cleverly Cartney.note  Claremont even gives Mastermind the real name Jason Wyngarde, after Peter Wyngarde, who played Cartney, and Jason King, Wyngarde's most famous role.
    • Similarly, the famous Claremont & Byrne issue where Kitty Pryde has to survive against a demon for a night is self-consciously, deliberately just the two creators riffing off "the last fifteen minutes of Alien."
  • The story of Steve Rogers' return to the land of the living, Captain America: Reborn, is an extended reference to Slaughterhouse-Five.
  • The plot of the Marvel Comics villain miniseries Identity Disc is taken directly from The Usual Suspects.
  • The plot of Avengers Arena bears more than a passing resemblance to works like Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, and Lord of the Flies, which the writer gleefully owns up to in the first issue. Additionally, the covers of the first few issues are all homages to the movie posters and book covers of the above-mentioned stories.
  • Several DC Comics Elseworlds do this. Most of them are very obvious about it (JLA: Island of Dr Moreau is based on, well...), but one that plays it a bit more subtly is the Legion of Super-Heroes Elseworld Castles in the Sky, which is a 30th century riff on the legend of King Arthur, with Cosmic Boy as Arthur, Saturn Girl as Guenevere, Lightning Lad as Lancelot, R. J. Brande as Merlin, Lightning Lord as Mordred, Mordru as the Fisher King, the flight rings as Excalibur (only Rokk can pull the Nth metal from the ruins of Thanagar), and the Miracle Machine as the Holy Grail.
  • The first four issues of Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy are a specific parody of the original Police Academy.
  • Many reviewers have noted a similarity between the first couple issues of All-New Wolverine to Orphan Black, to mixed reception. Though to be fair, Laura herself being cloned has been a plot thread almost as long as she's been in the books, and it's a major reason why the Facility has spent the better part of a decade (both real-life and in-universe) trying to get her back.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Some select stories homage other works in their entirety. For instance, one Italian one was based on Fahrenheit 451, just with the Ducks living in a dystopia where all music is forbidden. There's also a Danish one based on The Shining, though obviously with less ax-murder.
  • Camp Lazlo: A story features a lake monster and Lazlo treats the case like a Scooby Doo mystery. There's a "Mystery Latrine" with a sign painted the same style as the Mystery Machine, Lazlo and his friends split up ("Tradition dictates that we all split up and explore!", Lazlo says), someone theorizes the "monster" is some Corrupt Corporate Executive wanting the land for mining rights and, when the monster is revealed to be the squirrel scouts just out for a midnight boat ride, Lazlo remains convinced that Patsy is someone wearing a mask.
Clone Wars Adventures: A Stranger in Town is based on Django. In both stories, the protagonist arrives in an isolated settlement with a large and mysterious box that turns out to contain a BFG, and then uses that weapon against an army of invaders.* Marvel's original Conan the Barbarian run adapted one of his creator's short-stories The Shadow of the Vulture, which was based on historical events rather than taking place in Hyboria, set during the Great Turkish War where the Ottoman sultan Suleyman the Magnificent sets one of his best hunters to kill a knight for offending him and he teams up with a red-haired swashbuckler known as Red Sonya to survive. Conan replaces the knight, Suleyman is replaced by an Turanian warlord and Red Sonya is transformed into Red Sonja, who actually debuted in this story.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Gristle and Bridget's storyline from Trolls is one for Cinderella, complete with Bridget losing a rollerskate at the pizzeria's steps and Gristle picking it.
  • The Incredibles is essentially an adaptation of Watchmen. In a world where most superheroes have died or gone into retirement and/or hiding, a villain (a tech magnate who wanted to be a hero earlier but was rejected) has a plan to stage a crisis by unleashing a tentacled horror on a major city, with many further parallels. Both even include a reference to a hero dying because their cape got snagged on something.

    Films — Live-Action 



  • The Cool Kids Table game All I Want for Christmas is a riff on the plot of Jingle All the Way. Jake claims that the two stories actually take place at the same time, just in different cities.
  • On Chapo Trap House, the tabletop roleplaying storylines are retreads of funny political scandals In the Style of... H. P. Lovecraft. The first campaign is the (Republican) Pizzagate conspiracy theory; the second is based on Eric Garland's (Democrat) "game theory" conspiracy theory.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The d20 Modern adventure A Funny Thing Happened At Carousel #5 is pretty much a Choose Your Own Adventure version of What's Up, Doc?, even having Expies of most of the cast as Non-Player Characters (and one of them even being named after director Peter Bogdanovich!)
  • Fate of Cthulhu, with its plot about heroes with knowledge from a Bad Future out to change history and stop the rise of an Eldritch Abomination, isn't subtle about its influence from The Terminator. The only thing stopping it from entirely embodying a Terminator Twosome is that having a second time traveller out to stop the players isn't necessarily the rule, though one of the adventure seeds does have them run into their Evil Twins.
  • One of the adventure paths of Pathfinder had the Player Characters going to a middle-of-nowhere town to retrieve a MacGuffin and pretty much riding into the Seven Samurai.
    • Another Pathfinder example is unusual in being a Whole Plot Reference to a non-fiction book— the first volume in the Agents of Edgewatch adventure path is clearly inspired by Erik Larson's The Devil In the White City. It takes place during an exposition very similar to the World's Fair, and features a serial killer who has turned the hotel he runs into a deathtrap for his unsuspecting guests. The fact that the adventure in question is called The Devil At the Dreaming Palace confirms that the similarities are entirely intentional.


    Web Animation 
  • The first season of Nomad of Nowhere is a western/fantasy/anime mashup that follows two women, the tough-as-nails Captain Toth and her cute-as-a-button companion Skout, hot on the heels of the Nomad, an enigmatic individual with mysterious powers, the largest bounty in the world on his head and a surprisingly gentle nature. It's basically Rooster Teeth meets Trigun.
  • Speaking of Rooster Teeth, Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy initially seems to be setting this up in regards of Star Wars, with the idea of La Résistance vs. The Empire, evil white-armored soldiers, an antagonistic Darth Vader Expy, one of the main heroes using a Laser Blade, and even the name of the planet (Chorus/Coruscant). However, this is completely subverted halfway through the arc in Season 12. From then on out, this trope is actually played (relatively) straight in regards to The Magnificent Seven.
  • Episode 3 of Tomorrow's Nobodies is essentially the plot of Half Baked mixed with Daddy Day Care.
  • Ollie & Scoops: "Old Crumplecranks" is based on certain Fleischer Studios cartoons, especially Minnie the Moocher and The Old Man of the Mountain. Poopsie and Rudy decide they don't like living in the city and decide to run away to Mount Cattywumpus. The other cats warn the two about an evil, murderous cat named Old Crumplecranks who lives there, but the two cats ignore the warnings and go to Mount Cattywumpus anyway. Old Crumplecranks shows up and sings a Villain Song introducing himself, . To hammer it in, the Inkblot Cartoon Style and jazz music are used frequently in the episode, and some direct quotes, like the Old Man of the Mountain's "[I'm] gonna do the best I can," are used in the episode.

  • PvP did a series of strips echoing the plot of Watchmen when the movie came out, but due to the difference in mediums, Scott Kurtz used syndicated cartoon characters and called it "The Ombudsmen". They mapped onto the Watchmen superheroes (Dagwood for Dr. Manhattan, Dilbert for Ozymandias, etc.) surprisingly well.
  • Jane's World's current arc is literally The Last Star Fighter with lesbians.
  • Just Peachy does this in one story arc with the movie Singin' in the Rain. They even reference the movie in this strip.
  • Many Sluggy Freelance parodies cobble together from different works in a genre, but the "Torg Potter" storylines were mostly whole plot.
  • Rhapsodies had an episode about the adventures of the house band in Casablanca. A later Halloween Episode blends the The Rocky Horror Picture Show with A Chinese Ghost Story.
  • Zortic before the reboot consisted almost exclusively in this.
  • Pastamonsters has some heavy references to Gravity Falls. Most notable are "Not What He Seems" and the Bill Cipher episodes, with Zalgo in Bill's place.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Fable Remake


Yes, Actually

The whole plot of the "Yes, Actually" sketch, is a parody of Orson Welles' infamous Frozen Peas Outtakes, with the lines being quoted nearby verbatim. Fitting as the Brian's voice was modelled after Welles himself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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