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An expy is an unambiguous and deliberate copy of another, older character."

Note the word "another" and the words "unambiguous", "deliberate", and "copy". Those are the important words.

Here's your checklist:

  • "Unambiguous": There is no doubt, there is no room for arguing that they aren't.
    • If a plausible or convincing argument can be made that they aren't an expy, they aren't.
    • If the reasons for saying they are one are not convincing, they also aren't.
    • A character is not an expy only sometimes but not other times. They either are, completely, or they aren't, completely.

  • "Deliberate": Done with intent.
    • The resemblance is not accidental or coincidental. (For instance, being played by the same voice actor/actress is not sufficient to make an expy. Neither is a similar art style when they're both drawn by the same artist.)
    • Word of God helps a lot with this point, but if the other points are present strongly enough, Word of God is not absolutely required.

  • "Copy": A duplicate, an item made in imitation of another one.
    • The expy came after the character they're an expy of. If they both were created at about the same time, it probably isn't an expy.
    • The older character is never the expy, even if the other, later character is better known.
    • Superficial traits (like a hairstyle, choice in clothing, preferred fighting method) are not sufficient to make an expy; the copy needs to also fill the same role in the work and serve the same purpose within the story.
    • Major traits or characteristics being very different between the two characters is enough to make a character not an expy (for instance, the original is a demure Girl Next Door, the proposed Expy is a FemmeFatale — not an expy)

  • "Another": One other. Note the singular. It doesn't say "several". If the proposed expy combines traits, characteristics, or features of two or more other characters, they are not an expy of any of them.

If an entry fails to meet even one of those criteria, it is not an expy and should be removed.. Actual expies are nowhere near as common as many editors think.

If you want to link to this post in your edit reason, please do.

Here's the link to copy and paste: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=13983140170A37263400&page=1#5

edited 27th Mar '15 6:53:01 AM by Madrugada

WarJay77 Big McThankies from McSpankies! from The Void Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Big McThankies from McSpankies!
Sep 1st 2019 at 3:36:41 PM

Yeah, I'll give the draft a chance, and see how it goes.

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Pichu-kun ...
...
Sep 18th 2019 at 9:49:07 AM

Luna from Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility was brought up and declined in Sailor Senshi Send-Up TLP. So, is she considered an expy?

  • Expy: She bears a striking resemblance to Chibi Usa/Mini Moon from Sailor Moon. This might have lead to a possible Shout-Out to Sailor Moon in the English versions of the games, where her name is Luna, which means "moon" in Spanish.

Sep 18th 2019 at 11:19:54 AM

I would say no. Nothing in her section in Characters.Harvest Moon Tree Of Tranquility suggests anything more than a superficial resemblance. To qualify, Luna would have to start in a similar role as a Kid from the Future trying to find her parents' past selves or training to use her abilities properly for the future's benefit. Or at least have a similar personality, which I'm less sure of but willing to bet no on.

The key difference between this and Captain Ersatz is that an Expy uses the other character as a starting point before going in their own direction, while Captain Ersatz is obviously the same character but with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. Please keep this distinction in mind before adding an example here.

The fact that the character's Japanese name, Ruumi, isn't a reference that I can see also goes towards a no, IMO. It sounds like any resemblance is incidental, if not accidental.

Edited by sgamer82 on Sep 18th 2019 at 12:27:49 PM

You know how in "Eragon" everyone cries 'a single tear'? Yeah, just TRY that in "One Piece" and see if it works. - Formerly Narm Charm
Sep 28th 2019 at 11:54:19 AM

Double posting for a separate matter. I think I brought this one up here once before, but I neglected to act on it, don't remember what the result was, and it's far enough back I'm not sure I could find it again if I tried, so I'm just gonna start from scratch, especially since there's an addition to it that wasn't there the first time:

I have a couple of characters that I initially entered as/considered Expies, but I remember being told they might be closer to Captain Ersatz, and on recent consideration I realize probably don't fit the "serve the same role" rule I noted [up], since both are rookie superheroes that the title character takes under his wing.

If not Expies, are they Captain Ersatz or something else I'm not thinking of?


  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • Mr. Amazing is a Flying Brick the Red Panda describes as "an ubermensch that draws power from the sun", which makes him very deliberate reference to Superman. He starts out a hotheaded rookie, initially attacking other young heroes because he isn't being utilized on the front lines of World War II and wants to prove he's the best. Despite the Red Panda's description, Mr. Amazing doesn't draw power from the sun, but instead has a reserve of power from experiments with an ex-supervillain's creation. Once he mellows, Mr. Amazing realizes that Good Feels Good and resolves to remain a superhero, preferring to live a short life helping people until his power gives out than do nothing and live to be a hundred.
    • The Black Eagle is introduced towards the end of the series as another young hero the Red Panda mentors, hoping to find a successor. He derives his powers from the same experiments that gave Mr. Amazing his power, giving him the same Flying Brick abilities, but the Black Eagle's powers are more stable. His civilian identity started out a Tagalong Kid and is, by the time he gets his powers, an up and coming reporter for the Toronto Chronicle with a female rival, Roxy Rivka, and his first solo supervillain battle pits him against Elise Bond, a technical genius who preaches Beware the Superman while attacking the Black Eagle in a Humongous Mecha. At the end of the series, the Black Eagle truly becomes the Big Good for Toronto and a name that will be recorded in history books while the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel peacefully retire.

I'm less convinced than I was that Mr. Amazing is an expy, but not sure where, if anywhere, he fits. The Black Eagle I think becomes an Expy, but doesn't start out as one.

Edited by sgamer82 on Sep 28th 2019 at 12:56:16 PM

You know how in "Eragon" everyone cries 'a single tear'? Yeah, just TRY that in "One Piece" and see if it works. - Formerly Narm Charm
dragonfire5000 from Where gods fear to tread
Nov 19th 2019 at 9:41:20 AM

Found an entry on Pokémon: Generation VIII Families that I'm fairly certain is misuse. It's under the Eternatus folder:

  • Expy: It seems to be inspired by Ridley from fellow Nintendo franchise Metroid, as a giant skeletal purple alien dragon with Xenomorph-like features. Just as its size is one of its main features, Ridley's size was an integral consideration for his appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series, which also features various Pokémon characters.

It feels like a "It has a few similarities, so it's gotta be an Expy" entry. The "It seems to be..." bit also makes me convinced it's misuse.

XFllo There is no Planet B from Planet A
There is no Planet B
Nov 19th 2019 at 11:43:44 AM

[up][up]Yeah, Eternatus is only superficially similar to Ridley in being purple-ish and a dragon. In terms of looks and plot the two have nothing in common.

Edit: looking at the rest of the new Pokemon there are a couple more abuses. Nickit for Zootopia's Nick (which seems to be based only on the name, despite being a clear pun), Inteleon for 007 based on it's regional dex number (but it's #9?). I mean, yeah Inteleon has a secret agent theme but the reasoning is quite the stretch.

This is a different trope, but they also list Bishonen line for Copperajah just because it's Gigamax form is bipedal?

Edited by Stage7-4 on Nov 19th 2019 at 12:05:35 PM

Synchronicity god-touched Relationship Status: I've got a total eclipse of the heart
god-touched
Feb 13th 2020 at 8:34:02 AM

So a bunch of characters on Ace Attorney are listed as expies because they share superficial similarities (role, personality) to characters from previous games. Being from the same franchise alone should disqualify them, right? Some characters are genuine Suspiciously Similar Substitute since the series does have an established Recurring Element to its cast, and I've changed entries to suit that. But then you have entries like this on Ace Attorney: Victims:

  • Expy: He is sort of a poor man's version of Redd White [a character from a previous game], using his company as a way to gather info for shady purposes.

Permission to zap?

Apr Trope Report | New Work Page Help
Feb 28th 2020 at 3:33:18 PM

From Star Trek: Picard:

  • Expy:
    • Cristóbal Rios is basically Han Solo transplanted to the Trek Verse, who once served in Starfleet.
    • If you had transported Legolas from Middle-earth to the Trek Verse and turned him into a Space Elf, then you'd get Elnor. Even his name is Sindarin ("Star-Run").

These both seem pretty specious to me; they're ZCEs at the very least— saying "[character] is totes [character]" isn't context— but almost certainly misuse.

Crossover-Enthusiast Miss! from quarantine (send Red Lobster biscuits) Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Feb 28th 2020 at 3:37:40 PM

Was on another thread and saw someone say they added an expy example on Characters.Kirby Villainous Factions, so I decided to check the page:

  • Dark Mind:
    • He shows a clear resemblance to both Dark Matter and Nightmare.
    • His final form looks like a flaming version of Zero, and/or immediately brings to mind the Eye of Sauron.
Don't we have a trope for when a character is obviously based on another character from the same franchise? And the Sauron connection... I don't see it. If anything I think that'd apply more to the first form, but it's still a stretch.
  • Taranza:
    • He is one to Magolor from Return to Dream Land. Both have a mysterious, mage-like appearance, both have Floating Limbs, and are villains who Heel–Face Turn in the end.
    • He's a big one to Kamek. Both are mage-like characters acting on the behalf of the true villain of their respective games, whom they share a personal relationship with. Both kidnap someone they believe to be a powerful hero who will interfere with his plans, only to be thwarted by someone else instead. Both influence the bosses fought within the games without being directly fought. Finally, both are ultimately defeated/attacked by their own superior, only to return to signal the beginning of the final phase of the final boss battle.
Again, pretty sure there's a trope for when a character in a franchise is heavily based off a character from the same franchise. Kamek however is pretty solid, but needs a small rewrite. ZCE and a classic case of misuse. If anything it should be under Shout-Out.
  • Hyness: He has a ton of similarities to Zant, being a mysterious robed leader figure who has complete devotion to a being of evil that turns out to be completely nuts once confronted.
I can see it, but it needs more context.

It is no longer Pico Day.
nrjxll Relationship Status: Not war
Feb 28th 2020 at 4:28:45 PM

[up][up]Rios is Han Solo inasmuch as he flies a starship, is willing to skirt the law, and is kinda a sarcastic loner.

If you think that does not an Expy make - well, congratulations, man.

Cut them both.

Brainulator9 Short-Term Projects herald from US Relationship Status: I get a feeling so complicated...
Short-Term Projects herald
Mar 1st 2020 at 7:54:15 AM

Not on Expy itself, but rather Darth Vader Clone:

This seems less like a deliberate reference on part of Gainax and more like a series of coincidences that would be better suited for Surprisingly Similar Characters. The reference to the Star Wars prequels, which came out after Evangelion did as the example itself notes, only drives this home.

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VulgarBee I AM KING OF THE BEACH!! from End of the Other Side Relationship Status: Giving love a bad name
I AM KING OF THE BEACH!!
Mar 3rd 2020 at 6:28:58 PM

Hey is this right for the Anime and Manga Expy supbpage?


The Dragon Ball franchise has lots of these:
  • A number of characters introduced in the original Dragon Ball are based off of characters from Journey to the West.
    • Goku is an expy of
      • Sun Wukong, The Monkey King from Journey To The West, mixed with Superman. It's even down to having the former's EXACT SAME name in a Japanese reading, though in the original Wukong/Goku's case, Dragon Ball-Wukong/Goku has started to pay less homages to him day by day ever since his fame in the US.
      • In his early days, he was basically a Spear Counterpart to Arale, the main character of Akira Toriyama's previous work.
    • Bulma:
      • Like a number of the early characters, she actually did begin as a loose expy of a Journey to the West character - in this case, no less a person than Xuanzang Sanzang himself (she's on a quest which Goku/Wukong is just tagging along for, she gets into peril and needs saving by Goku, she's far less of an Action Person than Goku, etc). Of course, as time went on these elements drifted away and by the time the Saiyans show up, it can be hard to remember it was there at all.
      • In the original series, she has a personality quite similar to Akane Kimidori of Doctor Slump, the first success of Akira Toriyama, being a sassy and outspoken teenage girl who serves a Straight Man to the naive and strong Kid Hero (Goku and Arale, respectively). Even Bulma's first love Yamcha looks a lot like Akane's love interest Tsukutsun. The main difference is that Akane is a full-blooded tomboy, while Bulma is a boy-crazy Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak and that Akane is Street Smart but not a genius like Bulma.
    • The Shenron made by Earth's Kami (and later sustained by Dende) is one of Namek's Porunga. Pretty much every aspect of them are otherwise quite different, though it still comes as a bit of a surprise when the latter turns out to be a bit more personable (Fitting considering Porunga is the god of love for the Namekians).
      • Both Shenron and Porunga are this to Super Shenron, from which all other Eternal Dragons are derived.
    • Exception for the scar, Yamcha is physically identical to Tsukutsun from Doctor Slump; both characters at the beginning can not approach women for certain reasons (Yamcha because he was afraid of them, while Tsukutsun is because when a woman touches him she becomes a tiger), they also have Animal Motifs (Yamcha Wolf, and Tsukutsun Tiger), and their Love Interest is the spoiled but sensible teenage girl.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • The Ginyu Force are this to the popular Super Sentai franchise, the whole lovable lot of them.
    • Future Trunks is the unborn future son of the female lead, and he travels back in time to stop a group of robots from taking over the world in the future. Sounds familiar... (He even shares John Connor's hairstyle and taste in clothes.)
    • Android 16 to Android 8 from earlier in the series. Both androids are fully mechanical creations that are incredibly strong but considered failures in spite of it due to their well-meaning, caring personalities. 16 is even a multiple of 8.
    • Umpteen times in the Non Serial Movies. Almost every villain is an expy of a main series villain in some way, along with many of the movie-original supporting characters. Just for example, Lord Slug is an expy of King Piccolo, Cooler is an expy of Frieza, Janemba is an expy of Majin Buu, etcetera.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • Goku Black is basically the canon version of Turles, Goku's original Evil Counterpart and the main antagonist of The Tree of Might. Interestingly, Goku Black's debut episode featured lettuce frequently, which was most likely a reference to Turles, who, like Black, closely resembled Goku in appearance, and even having a similar status of being pure evil. Both have similar personalities, since both are vicious sociopaths with a veneer of friendliness... although Black is more evil and deranged than Turles.
    • Fused Zamasu similarities to some characters as well:
      • He is similar to Super 17, in the sense that both characters are fusions of two counterparts of the same individual. However, in Super 17's case one of his fusee is an artificial incarnation (as Hell Fighter 17 is an artificial copy of Android 17).
      • Zamasu's Half-Corrupted form design resembles that of Two-Face.
      • Several fans have noticed many similarities between Infinite Zamasu and Giygas. Both being incomprehensible, formless Eldritch Abomination level monstrosities who's immense power comes at complete lack of sapience.
    • Universal Survival arc features several expies of movie villains (that's right, expies of expies) as competitors from different universes:
      • The most prominent is Kale, a seemingly submissive and mild mannered female Saiyan who can transform into a huge berserker beast, mirroring Broly from the three Non Serial Movies . They share a similar appearance, Kale says the same things Broly did, and many visual shots in the anime are the same as the movie Broly starred in. They also both steamroll a bunch of weaker fighters and suffer from Power Incontinence. The Toei character sheet even regards her as "similar to that Legendary Super Saiyan."
      • Aniraza is one to Hatchiyak from Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans. He has a very similar design (despite his different color scheme and having Hildegarn's facial structure), backstory (artificial lifeform partially spawned from the fusion of a scientist with his machinery), powers, and speaking patterns. In the anime, he also meets his end the same way: a team assault of five foes simultaneously blasting him in a beam struggle.
      • Pirina takes his role as an arrogant and antagonistic Super Namekian, plus his overall appearance, from Lord Slug. This includes his tall and very bulky build (otherwise unique among Namekian characters), use of White Gloves, facial structure, and his signature attack being a Breath Weapon.
    • Bardock in Dragon Ball Super: Broly. While the original incarnation was similar, this incarnation of Bardock is more in line with Jor-El from the Superman mythos, as a loving father that alongside his wife sent his son to another planet, one that no one would bat an eye. Depends on which Jor-El incarnation, but you get the point.

Primis He / Him from Nsburg
He / Him
Mar 3rd 2020 at 7:44:01 PM

[up] All I know for certain is that early Dragon Ball did take a lot of inspiration from Journey to the West, and the Goku = Sun Wukong one is definitely true. The Ginyu Force and Yamcha ones sound plausible as well.

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Rynnec Killing is my business Relationship Status: Healthy, deeply-felt respect for this here Shotgun
Killing is my business
Mar 3rd 2020 at 9:28:23 PM

The "Kale = Broly" one is pretty obvious too. Goku Black = Turles is slightly more debatable, but I wouldn't be surprised if they used him as the base for Black's character.

"I'll show you fear, there is no hell, only darkness." My twitter
Mar 3rd 2020 at 9:56:13 PM

[up][up] The Ginyu Force entry is a ZCE.

Larkmarn Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
Mar 4th 2020 at 11:46:06 AM

They're more a Shout-Out to an entire genre, rather than being an expy of any particular character anyway.

Goku, Bulma, and Yamcha are Expies of their Journey West counterparts, along with Oolong, though they eventually evolved into their own characters.

The Zamasu examples do not count in the slightest. Though Turles is a non-canon Expy of Vegeta. Which I suppose is more of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute rather than expy since Vegeta's canon and Turles isn't. Frankly, most of the non-serial movie villains fall into this as well.

Edited by Larkmarn on Mar 4th 2020 at 2:53:09 PM

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Mar 4th 2020 at 9:35:18 PM

[up] That makes sense to me.

VulgarBee I AM KING OF THE BEACH!! from End of the Other Side Relationship Status: Giving love a bad name
I AM KING OF THE BEACH!!
Mar 4th 2020 at 10:16:42 PM

[up][up] Ok, I think I see what you are saying.

Crossover-Enthusiast Miss! from quarantine (send Red Lobster biscuits) Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Mar 4th 2020 at 10:20:10 PM

Can I please have some opinions on the Kirby stuff?

It is no longer Pico Day.
Mar 17th 2020 at 12:16:17 PM

Bringing up these examples from Youngblood: Judgment Day:

  • Alan Moore's run was full of this as well, as it was heavily inspired by the New Teen Titans and a number of Silver Age teen hero books:
    • Twilight is a Badass Normal who was once the child partner of a Batman-like hero named Professor Night, before striking out on her own after outgrowing the whole sidekick thing. She's effectively the team's answer to Nightwing, and was even known by the nickname "The Girl Marvel," as a nod to Robin being called "The Boy Wonder."
    • Waxy Doyle was inspired by the Wesley Dodds Sandman, being a former Golden Age hero who had a Gas Mask, Longcoat outfit and a "wax gun" (an homage to Sandman's gas gun).
    • As a female, teenage version of the intentional Superman pastiche Supreme, Suprema is Supergirl, specifically the innocent Silver Age version.
    • Following this analogy, her Evil Counterpart Satana is based off Satan Girl, Supergirl's Evil Twin.
    • Brother–Sister Team Speedwell and Poppy were expies of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, being a pair of sibling villains consisting of a male speedster and a girl with witch-like powers.
    • Riptide's father Storybook Smith is based off the Golden Age hero Johnny Thunder, with whom he shares Reality Warper abilities and a fondness for tacky, green, checkered suits.
    • Shona Shane is a likely reference to the original Batwoman Kathy Kane, especially since Shona used to be an ally of Professor Night called Lady Day.

GeneralGigan817 God Salesman from the Bad Future Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Mar 31st 2020 at 11:35:55 AM

The King Koopa Copy page lists Galvatron as an example, not only is he ambiguous but also predates when bowser was given those traits.

Also, is this the tread for Captain Ersatz characters? Or does that have its own thread?

EDIT:On the Sonichu character page I’ve notice rampant misuse of Captain Ersatz to describe nearly half the cast.

Now: Blake is a Captain Ersatz to shadow and Pikachu

My proposal: Blake is a Captain Ersatz of shadow and a Mix-and-Match Critter between a hedgehog and a Pikachu

Edited by GeneralGigan817 on Mar 31st 2020 at 3:58:54 PM

Start Your Engines!
Larkmarn Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
Mar 31st 2020 at 12:28:05 PM

This thread works for it.

... jesus christ, Galvatron might be the worst shoehorn I've seen in a while.

Found a Youtube Channel with political stances you want to share? Hop on over to this page and add them.
Pichu-kun ...
...
Apr 13th 2020 at 6:56:50 PM

This was deleted from the RWBY character page and the main Astro Clone page:

  • Astro Clone: Penny is a mix of Pinocchio and Astro Boy references thanks to RWBY being an animesque cartoon with fairy-tale motifs. She's a teenage Robot Girl who wants to be seen as a human. She can fly similarly to Astro and her father Pietro resembles Professor Ochanomizu.

The reason: She's based on Pinocchio and Pietro is based on Geppetto. The only similarities they have to Astro Boy come from the fact that Astro Boy also borrowed from Pinocchio. In terms of back story, appearance, personality and the relationship between the robot and the father-figure, there's very little in common between the two. What is common is also common to many other works that feature human-like robots that are dealing with humanity.

I do see Astro qualities in Penny, though. Namely her design, powers, and her father Pietro. I don't know if it's ever been confirmed, though.

Apr 17th 2020 at 4:33:36 PM

I'm the one who removed it, for the record.

Seeing qualities in a character doesn't mean they're an Expy. Fans seeing similarities between characters from different works is one of the biggest sources of misuse for this trope.

We know the Pinocchio connection is confirmed and very strong, and she's not even an expy of Pinocchio.

Edited by Wyldchyld on Apr 17th 2020 at 12:34:46 PM

If my post doesn't mention a giant flying sperm whale with oversized teeth and lionfish fins for flippers, it's just not worth reading.

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