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This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.


You Look Familiar
aka: You Sound 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.

For extreme cases, see Loads and Loads of Roles.

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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  • Simon in the epilogue of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who in both the original and the dub had the same voice actor as the narrator, or possibly was the narrator.
  • The dub of Naruto does this a lot: the voice actor for Zabuza, the villain from the first story arc, later voiced Orochimaru, the main villain for most of the series. Deidara's voice actor is the one that voiced two filler character (Idate and Raiga) and Tsunade's dead boyfriend Dan, the voice actors for Sasori's two forms previously voiced Pakkun and borderline background character Genma Shiranui, and Itachi's voice actor (after his short first appearance) was previously Ebisu's. This is probably because the show's cast is so huge nearly every voice actor who would ever work on it has done at least one role by now.
  • The original Japanese versions of both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z did this several times, as a seiyuu would voice a minor character character and then return several episodes later now voicing a major role. Notable cases include Toshio Furukawa voicing General Blue and later Piccolo, Takeshi Aono voicing Murasaki and later both Demon King Piccolo and Kami, Ryusei Nakao voicing Tamborine and later Freeza, Ryo Horikawa reprising one of his roles from Doctor Slump and then going onto voice Vegeta, and Takeshi Kusao voicing Pigero and then later voicing Trunks.
  • Kōichi Yamadera has appeared in every single Pokémon movie, each time in a different role.
  • In Case Closed Ryo Horikawa had a role in an early episode as a Victim of the Week before going on to voice fellow teen detective Heiji Hattori nearly fifty episodes later.
  • Atsuko Tanaka has voiced several unrelated characters across the Lupin III franchise. She was Karen Korosky in the Voyage to Danger special, Kaoru in Angel Tactics, Cicciolina in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and Elena Gotti in Blue Jacket.

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    Film — Live-Action 

    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.

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    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:
  • 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.
    • 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 instalment 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 Gizmo-Duck for a few episodes, but also voiced one-shot villain John Goodbody in the episode "You Sweat Your Life."

Alternative Title(s): You Sound Familiar


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