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The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had 'em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two.
Rudyard Kipling, "Holy War"

  • Many people seem to think that Vampire Academy is a rip-off of Twilight mixed with Harry Potter when in reality Richelle Mead came up with the idea for and began writing the series before Twilight became popular.
  • The phrase "standing on the shoulders of giants" was famously used by Newton to Hooke (1676): "What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.", but actually it dates back to the 12th century, when John of Salisbury wrote
    Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.
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  • The expression "bust a cap" for "shoot" dates back to at least 1879: Andersonville, John McElroy, p. 510. It was first used in a crime drama no later than 1932. (An episode of the radio series "Police Headquarters".) It goes back to the percussion locks that became standard in firearms in the mid-19th century; here a shot would be set off by striking a percussion cap with the lock's hammer (a "caplock"), which replaced the older and less reliable flintlock systems. (The part about doing it "in your ass", however, is probably a little more contemporary.)
  • The Queen Of Hearts's "Off with his/her head!" catchphrase in Alice in Wonderland is nowadays exclusively associated with that work, even though it was actually a Shout-Out to a then-famous line from Colley Cibber's now-forgotten abridged version of Shakespeare's Richard III.
  • The Horcruxes from the Harry Potter universe are seemingly random, ordinary items in which the Big Bad has hidden part of his soul — permanently destroying him is impossible unless you first destroy all seven of these items. The idea goes back to the concept of the Lich (undead, skeletal magician of vast power) and his phylactery from Dungeons & Dragons, and that presumably goes back to Russian folklore and the character of Koschei the Deathless (an undead, skeletal magician of vast power), who hid his soul in a needle, and put the needle in an egg, and the egg in a bird, and the bird in a hare, and the hare in a bear, etc. etc, Russian-doll style. This is even found in Classical Mythology with characters such as Meleager (not the Heroic Age one) whose life was linked to a wooden brand: when the brand was consumed by fire, Meleager died.
    • The Golden Bough lists several examples of external soul, a few of them coming from Arabian Nights (containing stories from early medieval period).
  • A double literary example: J.K. Rowling is often asked (often enough for it to be in her official FAQ) whether she took the character of Nicholas Flamel in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone from The Da Vinci Code. In fact, Flamel was a real life historical figure, a philosopher from the 14th century rumored to have created a philosopher's stone and gained immortality. Additionally, Philosopher's Stone came out in 1997 (with the movie version coming out in 2001), while Da Vinci Code wasn't published until 2003.
    • The Harry Potter series is often accused of being a rip-off of the Greyfriars series (Billy Bunter et al); but George Orwell pointed out in his essay on the Greyfriars stories that some people in his time likewise believed those to be ripped-off from the Stalky & Co. stories, which in turn could be said to be descended from Tom Brown's Schooldays. In fact, just about the only resemblance these four have to one another is that they are all boarding-school stories.
    • Some people have accused Rowling of ripping off Neil Gaiman's Comic Book The Books of Magic, which also features a young, dark haired, bespectacled wizard-in-training who has a pet owl, and is, indeed, a few years older. However, Gaiman has kindly explained that both books draw on the same wizardly archetypes and Rowling thus cannot be blamed for coming up with a similar concept and character. However, the idea for a Books of Magic movie has been pretty thoroughly killed because it would be universally derided as a Harry Potter ripoff.
      • Summer Magic, the first of the Journal of Luke Kirby series, debuted in the UK comic 2000 AD in 1988, two years before The Books of Magic. When the Luke Kirby stories were republished as graphic novels, a lot of people did assume that they were a ripoff of The Books of Magic.
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    • Similarly, many people accuse Discworld's Unseen University of being a Hogwarts ripoff, and have pointed out that Ponder Stibbons looks an awful lot like the Potter kid. While Terry Pratchett does bury references to all sorts of things in the Discworld novels, and encourages fans to try and find them, this one is just plain untrue. See the quote on the main page for Pratchett's exact word on the subject. To be absolutely clear: Unseen University first appeared in 1983, and Ponder Stibbons debuted in 1990. Meanwhile, the first Harry Potter novel wasn't published until 1997 - hence Pratchett's time travel jibe in response to the criticism. Like Gaiman, Pratchett has defended Rowling from the more rabid of his own fans, but has also said that he's afraid that Discworld movies would, if made, be confused with Harry Potter ripoffs. Of which there are a few.
      • The TV adaptation of Hogfather, despite portraying Stibbons the way he is in the books, escaped this sort of misunderstanding. Then again, that may be because it didn't see enormously wide release.
      • It certainly helps that as far as personality goes, Harry and Stibbons have almost nothing in common, as well as the fact that Stibbons is in his mid-twenties, as opposed to the teenaged Harry.
      • He was presumably a teenager in his first appearance in Moving Pictures, where he's a student preparing to sit for his final exams. He's also a very minor character in that book.
      • On a similar note, a small but curious group of fans also seem to believe that Carpe Jugulum was written parodying Twilight, despite the fact that Carpe Jugulum was published over ten years earlier, and the vampire tropes it parodies are drawn from Stoker, his contemporaries, and the various twentieth-century film interpretations of his character, with nary a sparkle in sight.
    • While we're on the subject, the 1986 horror movie Troll contains a young boy named Harry Potter (played by Noah "Atreyu" Hathaway) who enters a world of magic, befriends a witch, and fights a troll. This is probably a coincidence, though. Rowling has explicitly said as much (regardless of what you may have heard) and stranger coincidences of exactly the same sort have happened. Excellent further reading on the matter would be the story behind the name "Eleanor Rigby" in The Beatles Anthology.
    • An isolated castle containing a magic school, with a forest nearby? A protagonist who has no prior knowledge of the magical world? A rival who comes from a leading magical family? A hook-nosed Potions teacher who favours the rival and despises the protagonist? A kindly, grey-haired Head who is fond of the protagonist? Classes in Charms and broomstick riding? Yep, that's Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch, six volumes published 1974, '80, '82, '93, 2005, 2007.
    • There's also Groosham Grange by Anthony Horowitz published in 1988 that has a protagonist raised by Abusive Parents who receives a letter from an isolated magic school and befriends a boy and a girl on a magic train. The sequel The Unholy Grail (1999) features a Tournament Arc similar to Goblet of Fire.
    • Many of Rowling's elements also appear in Eleanor Estes' The Witch Family, first published in 1960.
    • A student in a magical school who grew up in an unloving house... check. Said student having an arrogant aristocrat rival... check. A magical forest near the school... check. An extremely talented wizard being an arrogant jerk until a terrible accident... check. Said wizard becoming a magical school's headmaster... check. A school's headmaster performing a Heroic Sacrifice to save a student... check. The headmaster's bird familiar vanishing soon after his death... check. Aesops about the immorality of immortality and resurrection... check. A heavily warded magical school with separate subjects like herbs, transformation, charms, history (well, heroic song)... check. Ursula K. Le Guin, the Earthsea trilogy, first published in 1968 to 1972.
    • There actually are people who think Rowling invented house elves, hippogriffs, or the concept of familiars. This despite the fact that the wizards' pets in the Harry Potter series are clearly just pets (albeit sometimes with unusual abilities), not familiars as such.
      • It gets even worse than that. There are people who think Rowling invented the Philosopher's Stone, even though it's existed in legend since 300 AD, if not earlier (the legends were most likely passed down by word of mouth for a long time before they were first written down). But whenever another work references the Philosopher's Stone, expect some people to cry that they're "ripping off Harry Potter."
      • There are doubtless people as well who think that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night invented hippogryphs. They go back at least as far as the early sixteenth century. See (ironically enough) the Newer Than They Think page for more on this.
      • Funnily enough, the concept of familiars in Harry Potter is largely Fanon. While several characters own pets that have evident magical powers or at least Amplified Animal Aptitude, nowhere in the books are they called "familiars" nor do they seem to have any particular significance in wizarding culture. As far as the books are concerned, Hedwig, for example, is just a pet and not some kind of mythical animal companion as fanfiction would have you believe.
      • Diminutive faerie folk who do household work for you until you give them clothes? That description is a perfect fit for both Harry Potter's house elves and the much older story of The Elves and the Shoemaker.
      • Which in turn is based off legendary fairy house-keepers, like the Brownies or the Russian Domovoi (the exaggerated ears and noses are common traits of the Domovoi)
      • For that matter, anyone familiar with the history of the Girl Guides/Scouts would recognize them from the origin-story of the "Brownie" rank, named in the 1920s for an 1870 short story by Juliana Horatia Ewing. Two sisters were told the legend of brownie helpers, but when their efforts to attract real brownies failed, they resorted to doing the housework themselves and passing it off on the mythical creatures. Prior to the name change, that rank was known as Rosebuds.
    • A really egregious example used to be here. Unbeknownst to most, J. K. Rowling put Biblical scripturenote  on the tombstones in Deathly Hallows.
    • Many people think that Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen was ripped-off of Harry Potter despite being written six years earlier. Yes it has a wizard's school as its main setting, but the characters are much weirder... in only the best ways.
    • An episode of QI (with Daniel Radcliffe himself guest starring!) showed that several of Rowling's proper names can be traced back to real English words. "Hagrid" comes from "hag-ridden," to have dreams about witches and witchcraft. "Dumbledore" is an Old English word for a bumblebee. And "muggle" was originally jazz slang for marijuana! And it was most certainly not from The Legend of Rah and the Muggles. "Muggle" has also been in use since at least the 1920s in its present sense of "unskilled person".
  • Some people seem to think that Diane Duane's Young Wizards books are ripoffs of Harry Potter, when actually Diane Duane began publishing her books in the early '80s. The only thing they have in common is "ordinary kid becomes a wizard and fights evil", but the reprints of the books have often been marketed as "something to read after you've finished Harry Potter." Duane has actually stated on her blog that she avoids reading the Harry Potter books in case anyone accuses her of ripping off Rowling's ideas for her latest books. The same has happened with the works of Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, and other young adult fantasy authors whose books went out of print for a while but experienced a resurgence in popularity after Harry Potter became a big hit, even though their books existed decades before Rowling began writing.
    • One of the most nonsensical plagiarism allegations ever must surely be Nancy Stouffer's claim that the Harry Potter series is ripped off from her The Legend of Rah and the Muggles because, amongst other things, "both works take place in fantasy settings". Presumably, Stouffer has never heard of The Hobbit, the entire The Chronicles of Narnia series, or Gulliver’s Travels, to name but a few examples. Plus being unaware that "Muggles" is a character in Carol Kendall's The Gammage Cup, from 1959.
    • Rowling has also been accused by rabid fantasy fans of "stealing" the idea of the Invisibility Cloak from Tolkien's Ring; they're clearly unaware that the idea of a magic ring, cloak, Tarnhelm or whatever is a staple of the folklore of many lands, and that Tolkien didn't invent this idea any more than Wagner did when he used it about a century before Tolkien. Tolkien was asked about Wagner's Ring so many times that he finally said "both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases."
  • Bizarrely, even Discworld itself has given us an example of this with the character of Genghis Cohen. Now, obviously, that's a reference to Genghis Khan (and Conan), but most Pratchett fans don't know that "Genghis Cohen" is also the name of a philatelist in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) and are not aware of Romain Gary's 1967 novel The Dance of Genghis Cohn (original title: La danse de Gengis Cohn).
    • Some fans thought that Inigo Skimmer of The Fifth Elephant was a reference to/parody of Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride, as both are Professional Killers. Pratchett corrected this, pointing out that Inigo is an old name and that if he was thinking of anyone, he probably got the name from Inigo Jones.
    • On a more general basis, Pratchett is sometimes credited with being the one to re-popularise The Fair Folk as a trope in modern fantasy after decades of Tolkien inspired bowdlerisation by calling back to the old folklore. However, most of Tolkien's works, particularly The Silmarillion, even to an extent The Lord of the Rings itself, had the elves as much more ambiguous and fair folk style characters, rather than the Canon Sues that adaptations generally play them as being. Additionally, Tolkien himself was predated by T. H. White, author of The Once and Future King (which predated Lord of the Rings by around 15 years), and Arthur Machen, who used the original folklore to create a particularly horrific version called 'the Little People' as early as the late 19th/early 20th century, and was praised as an influence by the likes of H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.
    • Terry also got a bit sarcastic with people commenting on The Wee Free Men who seemed to think the concept of sheepdog trials was invented by the film Babe.
    • When a witch and a wizard dueled in Equal Rites by transforming into various things, each countering the other's form, some thought they recognized it as a reference to T.H. White's take on the King Arthur mythos, The Once and Future King. However, Terry pointed out that it was a much older folkloric theme; another well-known version appears in the song The Two Magicians. (Some people who've read the later editions of Once and Future King, where White removed this scene, assume the Merlin/Mim version was made up by Disney for The Sword in the Stone.)
  • Many science fiction fans believe that the term "Reverse Polarity" and the Trope associated with it was coined by Doctor Who. While that show did indeed popularize it, the phrase actually dates at least as fat back as 1898, with the War of the Worlds sequel Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss.
  • Film novelizations have existed since the 1920s.
    • And novelizations of plays go back still further.
  • This has been a problem with The Lord of the Rings: people whose only exposure to this work is the films have said that there were a lot of cliché elements (such as the Witch-king being prophecied not to be killed by a man, thus getting offed by Éowyn), not realizing that a great many of those elements became clichéd due to the influence of the original novels on later works.
    • Incidentally, the example of Witch-king is itself inspired by William Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which a prophecy states that no man born of woman would ever kill Macbeth — as it turns out, the guy who kills him was delivered via Caesarean, and thus technically not "born" of woman. Tolkien felt that Shakespeare had missed an opportunity, and so had a woman (and a non-human male) fulfill his version of the prophecy.
    • Another instance of Tolkien writing something as a specific modification of Shakespeare (and, specifically, Macbeth) is the Ents. Tolkien got all excited while watching the play after the witches predict that Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be/until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him. When the great twist turned out to be "men with leaves in their hats", he angrily returned home and decided that he would write a story about walking trees, thank you very much.
    • The idea of a ring that grants invisibility while the user inevitably becomes corrupt was used 2000 years earlier by Plato in The Republic, as the Ring of Gyges.
    • All the Dwarves' names in The Hobbit were taken straight from a list in the Poetic Edda, a collection of medieval Icelandic poetry. And Gandalf's, too.
    • Tolkien was a professor of Old English, and much (and arguably, most) of his inspiration came originally from Anglo-Saxon poetry and culture. Apart from the obvious linguistic influences, the Ents, for example, were heavily influenced by the prosopoeic narrator of Dream of the Rood (a talking cross); you haven't lived until you've heard that poem recited in an Ent voice by an Oxford don.
    • Scholars can also see where he took off from classical and Romance-era poetry,
    • Additionally, Tolkien liked to insert fantasied origin myths or legends in his more lighthearted stories or sections (his origin for golf for instance).
  • Today, Sherlock Holmes is easily more well-known than C. Auguste Dupin, despite that Dupin was the first detective of his kind who solved crimes simply with his own superbrain, more swiftly and easily than the police department who would only very grudgingly come to him for help, who never had a love interest, and whose stories were told by his Sidekick.
    • Indeed, Holmes in his first appearance belittles the Dupin stories, presumably as a backhanded homage to Poe by Arthur Conan Doyle.
    • Some believe Poe could have been inspired by Voltaire's Zadig (1747), who does detective-like work.
    • Another source for Dupin was likely Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, a master detective, who worked on the horrific Affair of the Poisons. Many of his methods are still used by police today.
  • William Gibson himself almost had this writ large; while writing Neuromancer, he went to see Blade Runner and was in tears by the end, because there was his entire milieu, on screen and before he was even done! He was very relieved when the movie tanked...
    • It is widely believed that Gibson invented the term and genre "cyberpunk" and introduced them in Neuromancer. These honours actually go to Bruce Bethke's story Cyberpunk published a year earlier.
  • The Beam Me Up, Scotty! trope page once claimed that "All that glitters is not gold" is a misquote of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which has the line "All that glisters is not gold." Actually, the line didn't originate with Shakespeare. Both Chaucer and Cervantes used variations on it. The first version using "glitters" appears in John Dryden's 1687 poem The Hind and the Panther. When Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice, the line was already a well-worn cliché (which is why the next line of the couplet is "often have you heard that told"), so there's no real reason his version should be considered authoritative.
  • As it turns out, Homer's The Iliad may well be the oldest example of the expression "to bite the dust", rather than the western movies and the song by Queen that people generally associate with the expression. However, it was the King James Bible (first published in 1611) that first translated the original Greek wording into English.
  • The first use of a ruined Statue of Liberty wasn't Planet of the Apes (1968), but the novel The Last American by John Ames Mitchell, published in 1889 — only six years after the statue was complete.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • Some people think that the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ripped off the name "Babel Fish" from the website. Which is a reference to The Bible: In the "Tower of Babel" story, people are punished by God, and start speaking different languages. The Babel Fish from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is so named because it translates speech telepathically from any language, thus eliminating that particular effect.
    • Also on Hitchhiker's, some people have accused North London estate agents Hotblack Desiato of having stolen their name from the character in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. It was actually the other way around.
    • Douglas Adams apparently got very tired of people asking if he nicked the biscuit story in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984) from Jeffrey Archer's A Quiver Full of Arrows (1980) since it actually happened to him in 1976 and he suspected its subsequent appearances in other people's fiction were "inspired" by him recounting it on chat shows.
  • Laputa the Floating Continent is not from an anime movie, nor is it from Dr. Strangelove. It's from Gulliver’s Travels.
  • Let it be known that when the Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky mentions "his vorpal sword", it is not a reference to Dungeons & Dragons.
  • The character name "James Bond" first appeared in the Agatha Christie 1930s short story "The Rajah's Emerald", though this may or may not be where Ian Fleming got the name — Christie's character is almost the exact opposite of the more famous Bond. It's known that Fleming got Bond's number from the London-Dover coach which passed his door, which is numbered 007 to this day.
    • Fleming said that he took the name from the author of Birds of the West Indies, a book which he kept on his cocktail table at his house in Jamaica, where many of the Bond novels were written. The book is still in print.
      • The Marple adaptation of A Caribbean Mystery combines Fleming's explanation with the Christie character; in it, Miss Marple briefly encounters Ian Fleming at the resort she is staying at, and during their conversation while waiting for a lecture on native birds to commence he remarks that he's writing a spy adventure but is stumped for a name for his hero. Cue the lecturer, who just happens to be called James Bond...
    • Historical Real Life example: perhaps the best known of the few American survivors of the Alamo (who made it because he was a messenger sent away to tell of what was going on, and therefore wasn't there for the carnage) was named James Bond.
  • It's flatly astonishing how many people think Bram Stoker invented vampires with Dracula. While less well-known, James Malcolm Rymer's Varney the Vampire predates Dracula by more than 50 years, and the original folklore is far older even than that. (However, several vampire traits commonly taken for granted are newer even than Bram Stoker's novel.) What Stoker did do was popularize the trope of the bloodsucking vampire, which was largely unknown outside Eastern Europe before he came along.
    • Vampires whose bodies are largely composed of sparkly minerals? Check. Abusive vampire/human love affairs with nonstop bed-breaking sex? Check. Improvised Caesarean section on a human who's impregnated with an unprecedented vampire offspring? Check ... if it's The Stress of Her Regard (1989) by Tim Powers, and not Twilight.
    • There are probably many Harry Potter fans who think that J. K. Rowling invented veela. They are a staple of East European folklore.
    • For that matter, the hatedom that blames Stephenie Meyer (and before her, Anne Rice) for "ruining" vampires by turning them into brooding sexpots. Varney hated his vampiric nature so much that he decided to fling himself in a volcano at the end, and both Stoker's Dracula and Le Fanu's Carmilla used the vampire as metaphors for dangerous sexuality. This stuff is as old as the gothic horror tradition, folks.
      • Aristocratic, jaded vampire socialite who likes to seduce and use people of both sexes? Look no further that Ruthven created by John Polidori, physician of Lord Byron (who Ruthven is based on).
    • Lesbian Vampires are obviously new, right? There's no way older media would feature homosexuality, especially in such a sexualized and fanservicey way. Never mind one of the most iconic Lesbian Vampire stories, Carmilla, is from 1872 and predates even Dracula.
    • As for werewolf romances, these did not begin with Twilight. There was a book written by J.R. Black called Guess Who's Dating a Werewolf?, which dates back to 1998.
  • Many people have criticised Sherlock Holmes (2009) film for its depiction of a boxing and flirting Sherlock Holmes, seemingly ignoring the fact that in the original books, he did all of those things and more. This is largely due to pop-cultural osmosis, in that the depictions of Holmes and Watson most people are familiar with (sedate, cerebral Holmes; fat, stupid Watson) are largely a result of the Basil Rathbone film adaptations of the 1940s.
  • Similarly, some reviewers of Sherlock made the assumption that Watson's status as a veteran of Afghanistan was a change made to update the series, when in fact the original Watson saw service in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. All this has happened before, and will happen again.
  • Thoughtcrime is usually associated with Nineteen Eighty-Four, written in 1949. The 1940 novel Kallocain by Karin Boye was an earlier tale of a police state that criminalized anti-government thoughts. While either writer may or may not have read it, the idea of punishing treasonous thoughts and encouraging people to report on their neighbours acting suspiciously was proposed as a serious rulership strategy in The Book of Lord Shang, written between 400 and 200 BC.
  • Many, many Animorphs fans seem to think that the concept of Puppeteer Parasite originated from the series. Examples can be found on this very wiki. The fact that it is a Characteristic Trope certainly isn't helping matters.
  • Guess what I'm describing here: years after a world-changing event, a mysterious group causes humankind to evolve into a single entity, with a side of apocalyptic imagery. I'm describing Childhood's End, a 1953 novel by Arthur C. Clarke, which Hideaki Anno admitted was an inspiration for Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • The Book of the Named predates Warrior Cats by about twenty years, though it has the disadvantage of having been almost entirely out of print from the mid-nineties until recently. While most fans of the latter who get around to reading the former pick up on the differences very quickly, that hasn't stopped some who don't know better from crying foul against Clare Bell.
  • David Gerrold had to get clearance for the original Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" (1967), from Robert A. Heinlein, whose 1952 novel The Rolling Stones had a quickly reproducing Martian species known as 'flatcats.' Heinlein pointed out that the idea had been used much earlier, in Pigs is Pigs by Ellis Parker Butler. "A story about guinea pigs, beaurocracy [sic] and multiplication. First published in the September 1905 issue of American Magazine."
  • Isaac Asimov popularised the idea of robots which by their design are incapable of harming humans (in sharp contrast to the usual clichéd depiction of robots as mechanical Frankenstein's monsters), but there was at least one earlier depiction of such robots, in the Adam Link stories of Eando Binder.
    • Asimov did, in fact, formalize the method by which Robots would be prevented from going off the rails in the form of the three laws of robotics as an in-universe "industry standard" enforced by law and professional standards. Before that there were certainly non-rebellious "good" robots in literature but it was a much more free-form hand-wavey thing, not a specific set of logical rules that aped 20th-century human morality within a certain margin of error. Adam Link was notable for being an artificial protagonist, but his 'goodness' was more of an amorphous, innate thing combined with being 'raised well' than Asimov's hard-and-fast design rules.
  • People have accused the Dragonriders of Pern of being a rip-off of the Inheritance Cycle / Eragon books. However, "Weyr Search," the short story that forms part of the first Dragonriders book, was published in 1967, 16 years before Christopher Paolini was born. Also, Anne McCaffery is quoted on the back cover of Eragon, praising it.
    • As a matter of fact, the afterwords of most of the books in the Inheritance cycle specifically mention that Christopher Paolini was inspired by the Pern series.
    • And in the 1960s, the Dragonriders stories were considered adult fare; they were published in John W. Campbell's highly influential Analog magazine. Many readers today consider Dragonriders as being aimed at a pre-teen female audience, and write off the grimly feudal Weyr Search as Mary Sue Gets A Dragon.
  • Many critics have noted the similarities between Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and Battle Royale, which is also about children being forced by a dystopian government to battle to the death in a remote wilderness as some of the children begin to rebel against the system. Collins has said she wasn't aware of the Japanese novel/comic/film franchise when she began writing her trilogy, but was made aware of it by the publisher and instructed not to read the earlier story. As a result, while Hunger Games has a number of points of coincidental similarity with Battle Royale, the other two books bear little resemblance to the Japanese tale.
    • Fans of Battle Royale who accuse The Hunger Games of plagiarism are seemingly unaware of earlier Deadly Game stories such as The Running Man, and believe Battle Royale invented the concept. Nor was it new when Stephen King wrote it; Robert Scheckley wrote a short story with a similar premise, "Seventh Victim", in 1953, which was adapted to the Italian film La Decima Vittima (The Tenth Victim) in 1965. And of course, there were the ancient Roman Gladiator Games (which Collins herself cited as an inspiration).
    • The three-finger hand sign used as a symbol of resistance in the series is in fact the Scout hand sign used by Scouting organizations across the world, which is kind of ironic, given the Scouts focus on both teaching moral values and wilderness exploration while the Hunger Games is about a bunch of kids running around trying to kill each other.
  • Bumping into anything done by Rudyard Kipling is unavoidable even if you're not reading people as strongly influenced as Robert A. Heinlein. Tractor Beam? As Easy as ABC — for that matter, one of the first Sci Fi as we know it, and the articulate re-introduction of Mundane Fantastic as an approach outside of mythology and its derivatives. More Deadly Than the MaleTrope Namer. Stiff Upper Lip, one of Trope Codifiers. The Vamp — probably the Trope Namer (The Vampire). P.O.V. Sequel? Among the first known outside of Japan. Steampunk? Was predicted in the last few lines of The King. Trolling? He got more advanced variations from XX century Trickster arsenal described (Stalky series) and actively used them. Use of The Raj setting? Mostly have to either follow or dispute with him.
    • The Tractor Beam actually appeared earlier - at least as early as Jules Verne's book The Meteor Hunt, written in 1901 and published in 1908.
  • Robert E. Howard did not invent the land of Cimmeria to be the home of Conan the Barbarian - it's what Herodotus called the region which is now Ukraine and southwestern Russia. Howard loved naming his fictional lands after archaic names for real places.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey:
    • The title is slightly older than they think; E.L. James did not use it first. The title was first used on an article criticising the Chinese automotive industry for being bland in some parts and the multiple brands on offer and sub-brands - hence the "fifty shades of grey" title. The article was written in early 2011, before E.L. James had the book published.
    • It's also not the first erotic novel written for (or mostly consumed by) middle-aged women. The bodice-ripper genre is much, much older than this series.
    • A trilogy of BDSM romance novels that start life as a kinky re-imagining of a well-known fantasy story, written by a New York Times bestselling author known for her love of romantic vampire fiction. Are we talking about E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey, or Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty? Yes, before Fifty Shades of Grey came along, Anne Rice was one of the most popular writers of BDSM fiction in America, and many BDSM enthusiasts credited her Sleeping Beauty trilogy with getting them interested in the subculture. Somewhat amusingly, Rice is otherwise best known for The Vampire Chronicles, while Fifty Shades famously started life as a fanfic of Twilight.
    • A woman enters a sadomasochistic relationship with her boss Mr. Grey. Did I just describe Fifty Shades of Grey or the 2002 film Secretary?
  • Although Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1966) is seen as the first "non-fiction novel" of investigative journalism, Operation Masacre by Argentine journalist and author Rodolfo Walsh was published nine years earlier.
  • At first glance, Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls is a storm of cliches: A horror novel about gorgeous, sexually ambiguous vampires in New Orleans. The book was published in 1992, when those tropes were a lot fresher than they are now, and between them Brite and Anne Rice wrote the book on modern vampire fiction.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • George R.R. Martin often gets praise for the "originality" of his Crapsack World, when many times he is just lifting aspects of life in the real Middle Ages verbatim (the Siege of King's Landing, for example, borrows heavily from the different historical sieges of Constantinople). To give credit where it is due, there are just so many epic fantasy novels that are blatant rip-offs of The Lord of the Rings or heavily stereotypical Victorian novels (like Ivanhoe or the plethora of "updated" Arthurian retellings) that an author who actually draws inspiration from various identifiable historical episodes from across Europe (and even existing differing takes on the people involved) and then knits them together into a new sweater actually does feel like a breath of fresh air.
    • Jaime Lannister's famous line "There are no men like me" as a response to a character talking about "men like you" is a quotation from Big Bad Servalan in Blake's 7. Except in her case it was "There are no women like me".
    • The series itself is this for those who discovered it through Game of Thrones after it became a massive phenomenon in The New '10s, given that the series was virtually unknown outside of fantasy book circles before it was adapted to TV. It might be surprising to learn that the books have been around since 1996. For perspective: A Game of Thrones (1996) was actually released almost a year before Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997); while A Song of Ice and Fire now has just as many fans as Harry Potter (if not more), it took nearly two decades for it to get that popular whereas Potter reached that level less than three years after the first book was released.
  • The Brahmastra, a magical weapon of immense power that could completely obliterate its target with a single shot, but as a consequence, would wipe out all life in a vast radius of the attack, rendering the area a barren wasteland and causing all bystanders to become sterilised. Sounds like a Fantastic Nuke, right? Well, it could be...if it didn't come from Hindu Mythology's ancient Sanskrit scriptures that predate the Manhattan Project by millennia.
    • Appropriately, Oppenheimer quoted the book of Hindu scripture when the Manhattan Project first tested the atomic bomb. Many people also assume that he was the source of the quote, making this a double example.
      • And, if fringe theorists are to be believed, the Brahmastra was actually a nuke, making nuclear weapons an example of this too!
  • An extinct species is brought back to life through genetics. For safety reasons, its metabolism is tweaked so that it will be incapable of producing certain amino acids, making it dependent on others for food. The safety measure fails due to the creature finding alternate sources. Sounds familiar? The Godwhale, T. J. Bass, 1974.
  • Sex-education books actually go back at least as far as between 400 BC and AD 200, when the still-famous Kama Sutra was written (or compiled).
  • Kit Williams' treasure hunt book Masquerade was supposedly something which "nobody had done before"; but Agatha Christie, in conjunction with the Manchester Daily Dispatch, had done precisely the same thing (with the short story "Manx Gold") 40 years earlier.
  • Long before Eric Knight's "Lassie Come Home" which inspired numerous movies and TV shows, there were two earlier accounts of collie dogs by that name who rescued humans.
    • The fictional story "The Half-Brothers" by Elizabeth Gaskell
    • A real life incident of a collie mix who rescued a sailor during World War I.
  • Norwegian author Ingeborg Refling Hagen managed to make her own list of tropes, and relied heavily on Fridge Brilliance in her own Magnum Opus (a four-volume series describing her own authorship) as early as 1949. Here, she spanned much of European literature back to Ancient Greece, and found common themes for discussion. Her own fridge moments are thoroughly described. She would have been a magnificent troper had she had access to the internet.
  • Works that could be considered Science Fiction have been around as early as the 17th century, such as Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World and Johannes Kepler's Somnium.
  • Jurassic Park. The concept that dinosaurs are cloned for the purposes of a theme park which goes horribly wrong dates back to a 1978 Judge Dredd story.
  • A lot of people think shipping fans behavior like Die for Our Ship and caring more about romance than the plot is something that began in the The '90s and the turn of the new millennium. It's not at all. In fact the author of Little Women complained about it a century prior.
    Girls write to ask who the Little Women will marry, as if that were the only aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone.
  • A lot of people believe that Bugs Bunny was the first fictional bunny character seen eating a carrot. Peter Rabbit created by English author Beatrix Potter and, while not the first fictional rabbit character seen eating a carrot, is was also one of the earliest uses of the stereotype of rabbits in general being associated with carrots as there favorite food, 39 years prior to Bugs Bunny creation. Peter Rabbit is also one of the earliest known rabbit characters to use the Rascally Rabbit trope.
  • Anyone who sought out the works of Jean Shepherd after seeing A Christmas Story would be forgiven for thinking that Jean Shepherd might have been influenced by Garrison Keillor. It's actually the other way around.
  • The stories of Song Jiang, whose exploits were recorded by history in 1121, grew in the telling over the next century or two until they were immortalized in Water Margin. This means it's quite likely that the oldest stories that are Just Like Robin Hood are older than Robin Hood and developed half a world away from Sherwood Forest. The novel also has absurdly early examples of the stock tropes of the Film Serial: Cliffhangers, On the Next, and Find Out Next Time are used to end every chapter, and there's a fair amount of As You Know.
  • There is a book about an adolescent orange tabby that lives in a society where stray cats live in "clans". The cats have a rich society and mythology. The cat and his friends go on a quest to save their clans and their world from an otherworldly evil cat. This isn't Firestar from the Warriors series. It's Tailchaser from the 1985 fantasy novel Tailchaser's Song. It takes inspiration from Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings. Some Warriors fans have accused Tailchaser's Song of being a ripoff, despite predating the series by nearly two decades.
  • They Cage The Animals At Night has been accused as riffing off of the Misery Lit trend started by A Child Called "It". The former was published over ten years prior to the latter.
  • Don Quixote:
  • Some people accused The Dresden Files of mocking Twilight's beautiful sexy vampires with the White Court, which are... beautiful sexy vampires that actually feed on emotions, including lust. This leaves out that the first appearance of a White Court vampire was in Grave Peril, which came out several years before the first Twilight book.
    • And the idea of a psychovore (a vampire which feeds on emotions) is far, far older than The Dresden Files, at least fifty years older; for instance, it appeared in the short story "The Mindworm" (Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1950).
  • Lord help you if you're an author who wrote a Young Adult Paranormal Romance before Stephenie Meyer published hers. Fans and detractors alike tend to dismiss these novels as ripoffs. This hasn't been entirely bad, as some teen paranormal series written in the 90s got rereleased in an attempt to cash in on the growing vampire trend. The most notable example is The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith, which was rereleased in 2007, as well as receiving a reboot and a TV adaptation in 2009.
  • Many people think that Plato was the first to use the word "Atlantis". While most historians agree that Plato created the legend of the lost island of Atlantis, which first appeared in the dialogue Timaeus, there was a book called Atlantis that predates the dialogue by about one hundred years. Only fragments remain of this book, which was written by Hellanicus, and there is no evidence that this book had anything to do with the legend of a lost civilization.


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