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You Look Familiar

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Haven't we seen you somewhere before, Michael Sheard?note 

Aunt Fritzi: Why are you booing Santa Claus?
Nancy: In a show last week, he played a bank robber.

A guest actor who returns to play more than one character in the same continuity.

The use of the same actor for different characters is typically intended to go unnoticed or at least unremarked. Ed Wasser played Shadow minion Morden in Babylon 5 but also appeared in the series pilot as a character credited as Guerra. Since that series was so intricately plotted, fans wondered if the Shadows were influencing events as far back as the pilot. No, said series creator J. Michael Straczynski, they just liked the actor's work in the pilot and cast him in a recurring role.

This is such a common occurrence amongst the various incarnations of Law & Order, that fans of that show have come to call those who look familiar "Repeat Offenders".

When it is done for a purpose, you have an Identical Stranger, an Identical Grandson, or an Uncanny Family Resemblance. When it isn't done for such a purpose, sharp-eyed fans will assume so anyway. This last effect may be leading to this becoming a Discredited Trope, as Season Fluidity becomes more pronounced and fans complain that seeing the same actor in two different roles breaks the story immersion.

For the specific version where an actor appears in a one-off role before returning as a regular character, see Recast as a Regular.

Compare Celebrity Paradox, You Might Remember Me from... and Voice-Only Cameo. Contrast with The Other Darrin. Can be Handwaved via Direct Line to the Author.

You ALL Look Familiar is not related unless character sprites and models can be considered "guest actors". Acting for Two is similar, but (usually) involves stars rather than B- or C-listers, is a good deal more blatant, and occurs within the same film or episode.


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    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In-Universe example in "Cool for Cats" by Squeeze. The singer is watching The Sweeney, and when they get to the criminal's house comments "It's funny how the missus always looks the bleeding same."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Before the rise of cable and the fall of the territorial system, it was easy to trade unpopular wrestlers to another territory with a slight gimmick tweak to keep too many people from catching on. It did not stop even after the National Wrestling Alliance brought some semblance of unity to things.
  • In Ring of Honor the commentators actually recognized CM Punk's girlfriend as "Daffney, from WCW" and had to correct themselves when he introduced her as "Lucy". Other cases include Jerk Jackson to Bobby Fish (he was renamed in Pro Wrestling NOAH) and Handsome Johnny to Tod Hanson.
  • WSU...possibly, probably, definitely engaged in this with a series of "mystery" women, who were all of similar build and wrestling style: Saturyne, Jania, and Hania. Incidentally, the "former" also played a critical role in kicking off Niya's Charlie Brown from Outta Town gimmick.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Ben 10, Kari Wahlgren appeared in the What If? episode "Gwen 10" briefly as the voice of Gwen as Grey Matter before voicing Charmcaster. The same episode sees Vanessa Marshall as Gwen as Diamondhead and Four Arms and Grey DeLisle as Gwen as Heatbeast. The former would later appear as Tini in "The Galactic Enforcers", Gwen as Cannonbolt in "A Change of Face", and as Myaxx in Secret of the Omnitrix and the latter as Xylene in "The Visitor".
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Similar to the Futurama example above, the exact same character design was used for the villainous Weather Wizard in the Superman: The Animated Series crossover episode with the Flash and for the Inspector Javert-type Agent Bennett in the Batman Beyond backdoor pilot for The Zeta Project. As an in-joke to this, one of Bennett's subordinates in The Zeta Project, Agent West, shares a similar appearance, voice, mannerisms, and last name to the Flash (Wally West).
    • Justice League would see Phil Morris and Virginia Madsen, who later become the respective voice actors for Vandal Savage and Roulette, cast in the episode "The Brave and the Bold" as a gorilla general interrogating the League when they come to Gorilla City and a scientist helping Grodd respectively.
  • Futurama would often intentionally (or lazily) reuse background character prototypes, giving the same design, voice, and attitude to them, in completely different roles and situations. The lazy fat-guy tattooed-art trucker, or the old lady stockholder who loved her cat, for example. One such background character, a bald man with a "9" on his shirt, became a major character in the fourth direct-to-DVD movie.
    • So much so, that they have their own names and backstories. The trucker is Sal and the old lady is Hattie.
  • Scooby-Doo:
  • In Skylanders Academy, Chris Cox, who voiced Glumshanks in the original games, is recast as Bomb Shell, while Glumshanks is instead voiced by Norm Macdonald.
  • Star Wars animated series:
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
      • Senator Mon Mothma and Senator Mina Bonteri are both close friends of Padmé and voiced by Kath Soucie (who had also played one of Cut Lawquane's children in one episode earlier). While they don't interact onscreen and Mothma only speaks for about three of her appearances while Bonteri is a One-Shot Character, the novel Queen's Shadow indicates that they're rivals (namely because Mothma believes in the Republic, while Bonteri does not and ultimately joins the Separatists), and Padmé thinks that the two women are similar.
      • Robin Atkin Downes plays Cham Syndulla and Senator Rush Clovis, both of whom were supposed to be one-shot characters, but Cham appeared in another episode and Clovis would return for three more episodes. Cham would later appear a couple of times in Rebels and The Bad Batch. The fact that Cham speaks in a Twi'lek accent helps disguise it.
    • Star Wars Rebels: Eric Lopez plays Cadet Oleg in a Season 1 episode before later playing Jonner Jin in a Season 3 episode.
  • In Brazil and Italy, the dubbing directors of Total Drama almost never reuse the old contestants' voice actors. But when they do (Sadie/Ella and Shawn/Devin in Brazil; Amy/Jen, Samey/Ellody, Ella/Miles, and Sky/Tammy in Italy) it sticks out like a sore thumb.
    • Hebrew is the most painful example, apart from Poland and Hungary. For example in the later series: Lindsay became Dawn (later Sanders/Sky); Staci is Heather; Brody is Harold; Ryan and Pete were already Duncan, Chef Hatchet, Sam, and TDPI!Leonard; RR!Noah is Topher; Kitty and Emma are Amy and Samey note ; Josee is Leshawna and Blaineley; Devin is Trent; Spud and Gerry are Alejandro, Brick and Max; and Lorenzo being Dave and Cody.
    • Hungary itself makes sure that no two contestants in the same season have the same voice actor, with Don notably stepping up from Justin. Other second comings include Eva (before her elimination) turning into Jo, Anne Maria into Sugar and Laurie, Dawn into Scarlett and Jen, Tyler into Shawn, Staci into Kelly, Courtney into Josee, Bridgette into Ellody, Lindsay into Stephanie, Scott into Rock, Samey into Carrie, Dave into Devin, Harold into Tom, Lightning into Spud, Izzy into Taylor, Sam into Pete, and Max replacing Leonard's unknown actor.
      • Poland disregarded this rule, with Leonard leading the way as Cody (later Scott and Max), Anne Maria becoming Samey and Amy; Dawn becoming Crimson and Laurie and Courtney becoming Mary and Stephanie. Other than that, Sierra becomes Dakota; Izzy was Staci; Zoey gets promoted to Scarlett and Miles; Mike steps up as Don; Brick becomes Jacques; Katie becomes Ella; Topher becoming Rock; Sugar becoming Jen; and Lindsay becoming Ellody.
    • The Romanian dub isn't any better, with Ridonculous Race being the only installment of the franchise which averts this trope. Owen becomes All-Stars Mike, Heather becomes Zoey for the first episodes of season 4 and is later replaced by Lindsay, Izzy becomes Anne-Maria, Alejandro becomes season 4 Mike, and Cody becomes Cameron (which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight in season 5). The most egregious example is Pahkitew Island, where nearly every character shares their voice actors with a previous character. Sky is Jo, Jasmine is All-Stars Gwen, Ella is All-Stars Courtney, Sugar and Scarlett are Izzy, Anne-Maria and All-Stars Sierra, Max is Scott and Leonard and Shawn are Owen and All-Stars Mike.
    • The Russian dub is not immune to this either. With Mike having save VA as Chris, Lightning sharing VA with Duncan, Cameron sharing his VA with Owen, Scott with Chef and Trent. In Pahkitew Island the director of dub became different, and such, Chris' new VA also voiced Owen in Ridonculous Race.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Hamilton Camp reprised his role of Gizmoduck for a few episodes, but also voiced one-shot villain John Goodbody in the episode "You Sweat Your Life."


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Alternative Title(s): You Sound Familiar


Itsuki and Alfred

Ryohei Kimura voiced a couple characters in the Fire Emblem franchise. In the Persona/Shin Megami Tensei-inspired spinoff, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, he voiced the protagonist, Itsuki Aoi. In the Japanese version of main series title, Fire Emblem Engage, he voices Alfred, the Prince of Firene and one of Alear's allies.

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