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Expy Cleanup Thread

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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:

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

SeptimusHeap Token Good Teammate from Bern, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Jan 22nd 2015 at 12:55:01 AM

"Essentially" is a Weasel Word too. Typically an indicator that the argument is not well supported.

Larkmarn Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
Jan 22nd 2015 at 10:27:45 AM

I'd say that one's valid, though.

It's intentional, as the games are made by the same people. They're both supremely strong, arrogant warriors with red armor, similar ponytails, and his dragon form has a burning mane, while Lu Bu's horse has a burning flame.

There's no way the similarities were accidental.

crazysamaritan Could we just... not have Death anymore? from Lupin III
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Jan 22nd 2015 at 1:07:01 PM

That post looks the stronger example, but which game?

Link to TRS threads in project mode here.
Jan 22nd 2015 at 1:26:29 PM

Volga is an original character in Hyrule Warriors, he pretty much takes character traits, role, and weapon from Lu Bu in Dynasty Warriors. The games are both made by Omega Force and the Warriors series always have a Lu Bu expy character in it.

edited 22nd Jan '15 1:27:07 PM by Memers

Zyffyr from Portland, Oregon Relationship Status: Complex: I'm real, they are imaginary
Jan 22nd 2015 at 3:37:52 PM

If the given description is valid, then it isn't an example. Specifically the "Lu Bu with a little Volvagia" part means it violates part of the criteria : "If the proposed expy combines traits, characteristics, or features of two or more other characters, they are not an expy of any of them."

Jan 23rd 2015 at 4:50:01 AM

A bit more context on the Volga topic.

Volga is a character made for Hyrule Warriors who takes inspiration from the Zelda boss Volvagia and Lu Bu from Dynasty Warriors. The Volvagia inspiration is mostly applied cosmetically with Volga's armor and dragon form in design. The Lu Bu inspiration though dominates most of his entire character. Aesthetically, he's Volvagia but character-wise he's Lu Bu. More simply, it's basically Lu Bu wearing dragon style armor and possessing the ability to turn into a dragon.

There's also a DLC costume which gives Volga a color scheme that's been noted to look more like Lu Bu's armor color scheme. Also as mentioned before, there's the fact that Hyrule Warriors was made by the same creators of Dynasty Warriors which kind of gives the situation more credence that it's deliberate.

Maybe reconsider the rules in situations like this. Volga does indeed combine traits from two characters. However the traits from one character appear to be mostly superficially cosmetically there so he wouldn't feel alien to the game universe he's in, while the other traits from the other appear way more prominent in his characterization and role.

edited 23rd Jan '15 4:50:25 AM by Elfkaiser

Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Jan 23rd 2015 at 4:57:02 AM

Then the character he's an Expy of is Lu Bu, with a cosmetic shout-out to Volgavia. He's not an expy of both of them.

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Jan 23rd 2015 at 10:02:24 AM

His existence is inspired by Volgavia just in a way to excuse the fact that they managed to get a Lu Bu into the game, he is not an expy of him. Volgavia is just a Chinese fire dragon with absolutely no other character traits. Volga is a Blood Knight, who can transform into a western fire dragon, and is a walking Lu Bu clone.

The first time I saw Hyrule Warriors, it was being streamed by a Dynasty Warriors fan the commentary from the player the instant he saw him on the first level was 'Oh hey its the Lu Bu of this game.. crap we better run.'

The Lu Bu Expy should probably be a trope at this point seeing how many expies of him are walking around Warriors franchise games, Musha Gundam 1 and mk2 in Dynasty Warriors Gundam, Honda Tadakatsu in Samurai Warriors, Volga in Hyrule Warriors, I havent played One Piece Warriors, Dragon Quest Warriors, and the 50 other games so I am unsure who is what in that one but its expanded into the ripoffs like Sengoku Basara with again Honda Tadakatsu.

One wonders what the Lu Bu will be of the heavily rumored Super Mario Bros. spinoff will be.

edited 23rd Jan '15 10:28:14 AM by Memers

hollygoolightly Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Jan 30th 2015 at 4:25:56 AM

Presenting one of my own entries for evaluation, from the Teen Wolf page:

Dr. Vallack, a character introduced last season. I've listed him as an expy for Dr. Hannibal Lecter, of The Silence of the Lambs and the movie franchise, as well as the TV show Hannibal.

1. He is a high-security prisoner, kept away from most visitors.

2. He is known to "get into people's heads." (Something Clarice Starling is warned about regarding Lecter in Lambs).

3. He has a very posh British accent.

4. He is Faux Affably Evil and appears Wicked Cultured.

5. His introductory scene is a re-staging of Lecter's famous introductory scene from The Silence of the Lambs, which is too precise to be anything but deliberate.

6. While Word of God has not specifically stated that this character is a version of Lecter, they are known to be fans of Hannibal.

As for the main differences, since Teen Wolf is Horror-Fantasy, Vallack has actual Psychic Powers, and since he's only recently been introduced, it's unknown if there are greater differences. It's also unclear if he's a cannibal (which I guess would be a big one). Would he be an Expy, or is it safer to go with homage?

I'm currently looking through the other examples on the page, such as they are, but I think they are less ambiguous.

edited 30th Jan '15 4:28:03 AM by hollygoolightly

DAN004 Chair Man from The 0th Dimension
Chair Man
Jan 30th 2015 at 4:40:43 AM

Several questions regarding "unambiguous, deliberate copy of another character"

  1. Is that a new definition? I believe it wasn't like that long ago.
  2. Dunno, but to me "unambiguous" is still ambiguous. As long as someone made a counterargument or if evidences aren't convincing, it doesn't count - wouldn't it make it really inflexible?
  3. Does "intentional" mean "two characters share a lot of traits to a high degree"?
  4. From "copy", it says that similar hairstyle or outfit isn't enough to make an expy. Do we have a trope for similar hairstyle/outfit itself?
  5. "another" makes an expy be a copy to only one character. What's the trope for someone mixing traits from a lot of characters? (Composite Character sounds like it's limited to adaptations, unless it can be broadened)

edited 30th Jan '15 4:41:53 AM by DAN004

Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Jan 30th 2015 at 5:49:57 AM

Holly: So far it sounds like he's inspired by or a homage. There isn't enough information yet to know if he's supposed to be essentially the same character, filling the same role as Hannibal. I'd say "it's too early to tell if he's an expy, but keep an eye on him; he's got a good start."

Dan: The basic definition hasn't changed. All that was done in May of last year was that I stripped out a lot of weaselwording that had been added in over time to water it down.

The pinned header post addresses each of your questions. Please read it. "Intentional" does not hinge on "how much?"; it addresses "Did the creator do this deliberately?"

This thread is not going to open up redefining Expy; this is a clean-up thread.

edited 30th Jan '15 5:51:32 AM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
hollygoolightly Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Jan 30th 2015 at 9:18:17 AM

Madrugada: thanks! I'll see how they'll develop him.

DAN004 Chair Man from The 0th Dimension
Chair Man
Jan 30th 2015 at 2:20:33 PM

[up][up] But when I asked this in Ask The Tropers, ppl there said it's okay for me to post that here...

WaxingName from Everywhere
Jan 30th 2015 at 3:51:54 PM

Will Counterpart Comparison be the dumping ground for when fans alone compare two characters?

I've supported that option in the past, but I'm not really sure now.

Please help out our The History of Video Games page.
Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Jan 30th 2015 at 4:53:30 PM

Dan: If you're asking for clarification, this is the place. If you're looking to have the current criteria changed, you'll need very, very, very persuasive arguments in the opening post of a new TRS thread.

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
DAN004 Chair Man from The 0th Dimension
Chair Man
Jan 30th 2015 at 8:19:00 PM

[up] Maybe you're agitated cuz I complained about the criteria long ago. But not now; yes, I do want clarifications.

Now can somebody please just answer my questions? Afterwards I can stay away from this thread.

SeptimusHeap Token Good Teammate from Bern, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Jan 31st 2015 at 2:15:11 AM

I'll try to answer:

  1. No, that's been the definition for a long time.
  2. Yeah, that is one part why these tropes are so problematic - people have very low thresholds for what they consider "substantial similarity", something I call apophenia.
  3. In practice yes; since it's not a reliable indicator at all I've always thought that this trope should require Word of God to work but that's Repair Shop talk.
  4. That's at best a Shout-Out, and without Word of God I would not accept that as an example of SO either.
  5. Dunno if we have such a trope.

DAN004 Chair Man from The 0th Dimension
Chair Man
Jan 31st 2015 at 5:12:19 AM


2. Do you think examples would require one to go to Discussion page one day, ala Five-Man Band now?

4. Okay, just found Whole Costume Reference. That should be related.

5. Do you think it's tropable? I might start a ykttw.

crazysamaritan Could we just... not have Death anymore? from Lupin III
Could we just... not have Death anymore?
Jan 31st 2015 at 7:59:38 AM

Despite people's need to pattern-match (oh, hey, there's apophenia again), creating characters by mixing traits from a lot of characters seems People Sit On Chairs to me. It is well known that creators pull inspiration from pretty much everything they experience, and trying to identify every example of influence seems an exercize in impossible tasks.

Link to TRS threads in project mode here.
Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Jan 31st 2015 at 8:10:23 AM

[up]This is very true, and part of why we don't have tropes for every conceivable similarity between different characters.

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Mar 1st 2015 at 10:19:09 PM

I've recently been cleaning up Characters.Xenoblade and came across numerous expy examples that need discussing. I've sorted them into folders for convenience.

    examples that were crappy enough to remove immediately 


  • Expy: While he himself doesn't really have a clear-cut counterpart in Gears or Saga, his weapons bear some resemblance to Shion's MWS.

Blatant shoehorning.


  • Expy: Her skill with a gun marks her as the successor to Billy Lee Black and Junior (and she also shares the former's role as team healer). Personality-wise, though, she's not especially similar to either.

Dissimilar personality is a disqualifier.


The "but unlike" section made me want to delete this, and the "has shades of" section made me want to delete it even more. So I deleted it.


  • Expy: Of Miang Hawwa, to an extent. She's the most prominent female villain of the game, though Miang was a) never as hammy as Lorithia, and b) never gets blindsided by anyone as badly as Lorithia does by Kallian. She also has shades of Krelian, especially as an Evilutionary Biologist.

"To an extent" is already a red flag, and "most prominent female villain" is not expy material. The "has shades of" bit just makes it worse.

    zero-context examples 


  • Expy: Of Jin Uzuki, and by recursion, Citan Uzuki.
    • Captain Ersatz: He also bares a lot of superficial resemblance to Auron, both being one armed sword users who helped save the world previously. However, their personalities and fighting styles are very different.

Removed the completely pointless, badly-indented, obviously shoehorned Captain Ersatz sub-bullet.


The bit in parentheses is pointless. I removed it.


  • Expy: Of, for some unfathomable reason, Chu-Chu. The entire Nopon race is an expy of the Chu-Chu race.

What's the point of "for some unfathomable reason?"


Nothing to say here, just another ZCE.


  • Expy: Of Dan from Xenogears, though he turns out to be a lot friendlier to Shulk than Dan was to Fei.

Y'know, it helps to state what's SIMILAR about them rather than what's different.


  • Expy: When he becomes Jade Face and his facial structure changes along with him, his entire character is The Terminator.

Sounds iffy to me.

    other examples 


Seems questionable to me. The details are not enough.


Messy. Too many comparisons here.


  • Expy: Unpleasant former military man brought back to life as a main antagonist? Are we talking about this guy or Lt. Virgil?

I'm guessing that Virgil is yet another Xeno- character, but the lack of a pothole is throwing me off.


  • Expy: Takahashi could have put chaos' or Wilhelm's models in some scenes and probably a lot of people wouldn't have noticed the difference. Even their personalities, voices (specially in Japanese) and even roles in the story are almost the same.

This one seems fine, but I had to delete an assload of natter beneath it that I'm leaving out.


  • Expy: Of Krelian, in the sense that both are the biggest Well-Intenioned Extremists of their respective games. Both take it upon themselves to reshape the world, even if it means destroying the universe and dooming its inhabitants as a result.
    • Krelian's Omnigear, Amphysvena, even shares the same 'tailed robot' motif as that of Yaldabaoth. Hell, to some extent, they're even composed of two robots in one!
    • He also has a good amount in common with Magus, in that they are both initially portrayed as the Big Bad before revealing that all their efforts were meant to destroy an even bigger evil than themselves, with the party only being antagonized because they happened to be in the way.

This one seems to fit, but the indentation is bad and the bit about Magus is just shoehorning.


  • Expy: He's basically Deus with a speaking role. Out of all the previous Xenocharacters to get a counterpart in 'Blade, this guy is probably the most similar to the original. Furthermore, he has the High Entia revert to Telethia - something that almost exactly parallels humans mutating into Wels for Deus.

A bit vague for my tastes, but probably correct.

For the record, I'm fairly sure that the Xeno- games aren't a true series and are merely Spiritual Successors, and therefore, they don't violate the "characters cannot be expied from the same series" rule. I'm not 100% positive about that, though.

edited 1st Mar '15 11:22:32 PM by MyTimingIsOff

Larkmarn Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
Mar 2nd 2015 at 7:37:29 AM

Shulk seems like he could qualify for Suspiciously Similar Substitute.

edited 2nd Mar '15 7:43:00 AM by Larkmarn

Darksilverhawk Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Mar 2nd 2015 at 8:08:55 AM

Running down "Other":

Shulk - So he's The Chosen One with a tragic past? Yeah, him and a thousand other RPG protagonists. Next.

Fiora- Mixing elements of multiple characters- no go. Next.

Mumkhar- This is a little more specific, but it still needs more details. "Unpleasant man brought back to life" describes many villains.

Alvis- Seems ok, if vague.

Egil- "In the sense that" and "to some extent" in the same example? Huge red flag.

Zanza- Seems ok, if vague.

Rocks fall, everyone miraculously survives.
Mar 2nd 2015 at 11:05:09 AM

Big Hero 6 has some expy issues:

On the mainpage, there's this entry:

  • Expy- Besides their comic counterparts, Disney's Big Hero 6 are also partially inspired by a few Marvel heroes and other fictional characters. For example: Hiro being a combination of Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

On the character pages, Hiro is again described as a combo of Peter Parker and Tony Stark

Honey Lemon has this- "Her blonde hair, green eyes, and upbeat and excitable personality makes her a modern day version of [[Tangled Rapunzel]."

For this butler character, Heathliff: "Expy: Of other valets like Jarvis and Batman's Alfred."

And finally, for the villain, Yokai: "Yokai is inspired by an obscure Marvel Comics villain called Lord Deathstrike, whose more-famous sister is one of Wolverine's nemeses. He was a professional assassin who also wore a kabuki mask."

So, going through these expy entries:

  • Hero is a Gadgeteer Genius character in a comic book movie, which may evoke similarities to those characters, but he's not an expy of them. In fact, I don't really see much personality similarity with either.

  • Honey Lemon is a case of Reused Character Design, not expy. Although both are bubbly, I don't really see her as all that similar a character to Rapunzel (for one thing, Rapunzel is very naive whereas Honey Lemon is sort of a Cool Big Sis / Team Mom and thus has the opposite characterization)

  • Heathcliff is just The Jeeves- he's not really an expy of either of those guys- it's just that all three are examples of the same trope

  • This is what Lord Deathstroke looks like. I don't know anything about the character, but the impression I get from the example is that the two just have similar character design and that's it. And even with that, Yokai looks fairly different (Yokai has a more sinister mask and wears a cloak rather than a nice suit).

Supporting the right to arm bears
Larkmarn Relationship Status: Hello, I love you
Mar 2nd 2015 at 1:24:39 PM

Oh, you mentioned Big Hero 6 and I thought we'd have someone readding Captain America for Gogo, or Wolverine for Wasabi (seriously).

This is relatively tame.

I agree most of them can all go, though Lord Deathstrike does seem reasonable to me. "Gadget-based killer wearing dark clothes with a kabuki mask in a Marvel property" seems pretty intentional and specific.

Total posts: 554

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: