It’s time for another Top 7 list, everybody!
At Iridium Eye, originality and innovation are often celebrated here. I’ll applaud some movies and series that I don’t care about as much if I can tell they’re actually trying to be unique. It can be amazing seeing some fully original concepts, storylines, and certainly characters on the screen. Unfortunately, some characters are just plain freaking unoriginal, period! There are some examples like the Rubber Robo Gang from Medabots being a wannabe-never-was Team Rocket from Pokemon in terms of concept and execution. Kayley from Quest for Camelot has been bashed for looking way too similar to Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Also, I can’t be the only person who thinks that Aunt Figg from the first Tom and Jerry movie totally looks like a human version of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Those examples are easy targets since few fans would ever try to defend those pieces of media.
This is not one of those times.
Some characters are just blatant and shameless ripoffs of other characters, but for some inexplicable reason, people are scared to call them out as such. Sure, sometimes people legitimately don’t know about the characters who got cloned. There are some variables like people being too afraid or in denial to ever criticize things they like. While I’m not the first person to make a list about ripoff characters, I’m approaching this from a different angle by emphasizing various characters who seem to get a free pass despite being unoriginal (or at worst being walking copyright infringement cases that haven’t been filed). Of course, so many people are dyed in the wool with what they enjoy to the point where they don’t want to admit the flaws of a blatant lack of innovative concepts. Isn’t that right, Kid Lykos?
Great googly moogly, I can’t believe I just used a BritWres meme for a post like this. Thank you to all two of you who appreciate the reference. Boy, I’m a blogger of many ironic contradictions! Hahahaha! Okay, here’s some of my guidelines for this post.
1: Only one character per movie/series for each ripoff character (this drastically affects two of my choices), but the characters who are from the same movie/series who did get ripped off can be represented more than once.
2: Similarities that will be emphasized…looks, personalities, actions, roles in their stories, and how intentional these similarities are. Also, some characters have even been admitted to be ripoffs by their creators or by actual legal action against them.
3: No homages, analogs, or parodies will be used.
4: Ripoffs who are more popular than their originals will be affected on this list.
5: A lot of this will be ordered by personal opinion alongside these other guidelines, but to be really honest with you, I know multiple examples are inarguable especially with the ones higher up on the list.
Alright, everyone! Let’s find out who some of the most acclaimed clones are that people are just too reluctant to call out. I may or may not have had some ulterior intentions while making this list. People should also be thankful I didn’t know about these cases when I was younger or I would have done everything in my power to insult those who have insulted the things I like(d) then even though I rarely ever make fun of people. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!
Ripoff: Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Debuted in 2001
Character she ripped off: Nadia from Nadia: Secret of Blue Water
Debuted in 1990
That’s right, I’m kicking things off with a Disney ripoff of an anime character. If you think that’s a bridge too far, then feel free to stop reading and turn back because things are going to get much worse. I know Kida isn’t part of the Disney Princess Breakfast Club like Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, or eventually Raya (calling it right now!), but this should still give people pause. Atlantis may not be a top name for film plagiarism controversies, but this still needs to be addressed with her and multiple characters. Kida and Nadia are both Black princesses from Atlantis, often wear bikini tops, sport long earrings, have dead parents, fall in love with the nerdy lead character, and they both have mystical blue necklaces tied to Atlantean powers. I’m surprised Gainax/Hideaki Anno fans don’t bash Disney as much for stealing from Nadia: Secret of Blue Water as they accuse Pacific Rim of doing to Neon Genesis Evangelion (even I wouldn’t go THAT far with both properties and yes, I’ve seen both). I’m aware that both works are influenced by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but there were some eerie similarities with both Gainax’s inaugural TV series alongside Disney’s movie from the early 00s. Come on, Mickey Mouse! Even Nadia was around in America before you made that steampunk movie. This is probably the least egregious of the examples I can mention because I’ve got 6 more after this.
Also, I strongly recommend Ashley Capes’s article about the Nadia/Atlantis plagiarism controversy which goes really in-depth about this issue!
Ripoff: Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story series
Debuted in 1995
Character he ripped off: Meteora from The Christmas Toy
Debuted in 1985
For those who haven’t read my review of The Christmas Toy months ago or at the very least didn’t know about the plagiarism controversy associated with Toy Story, you’re thinking this: “Oh, come on! They don’t even look alike and they’re completely different genders!”. They certainly don’t look the same which I’ll agree with the naysayers over there, but I’m going to refute the notion that they aren’t alike in other ways. Let me break it down for those who haven’t seen Jim Henson’s obscure Christmas movie. A science fiction toy is a present for a child in a suburban home where toys come to life when the humans aren’t around. Said toy is seen to be a threat by another toy (one with orange, black and white as part of their color palette) to possibly replace them as the favorite. Flight is associated with the character when it comes to actual powers. They legitimately believe they’re on an alien planet, talk like they’re in a sci-fi movie, have robot archenemies, and even have an arrogant disposition that stems from them actually believing they aren’t toys at first, but are suddenly convinced that they actually are by the rest of these playthings. This description PERFECTLY fits both the Space Ranger as well as the Queen of the Asteroids and that’s not even debatable. Watch The Christmas Toy and I dare you to call me a liar. Over the past year or so, I’ve been realizing how unoriginal Pixar has been with their works and Buzz Lightyear isn’t the only Pixar character to be on this list. Oh…we’ll get to that OTHER one later.
Ripoff: Thanos from the Avengers series
Debuted in 1973 (comics), 1998 (animated debut with Silver Surfer), 2012 (cinematic debut with Avengers)
Character he ripped off: Darkseid from Justice League
Debuted in 1971 (comics), 1984 (animated debut with Super Friends), 2021 (cinematic debut with Zack Snyder’s Justice League)
I sometimes feel bad for DC fans and this is coming from someone who was more of a Marvel guy when I was a kid. If anyone would’ve guessed that Thanos would be one of the most popular movie supervillains, then they must be Nostradamus. Even though I knew who he was due to the ill-fated Silver Surfer cartoon in the late 90s or any of the Capcom fighting games with Marvel characters (Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter, and especially Marvel Vs. Capcom 2), I also knew who Darkseid was because of the 90s Superman animated series. What I didn’t know was that the leader of planet Apokolips existed first. It sucks that some idiots think that Darkseid is a Thanos ripoff just because the Mad Titan just happened to get the silver screen treatment first going back to that brief scene in the first Avengers movie. What they don’t realize is that the Lord of Destruction predates the alien with the finger snap of doom by two years in the comics! Yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it, Marvel fans. The similarities between the two are noticeable. Both of them are alien dictators of their respective home worlds, managed to get power from fallen civilizations before them, are associated with death (or anti-life in Darkseid’s case), both have huge god complexes, are insanely muscular, and have plans involving the multiverse at large. If you think that I’m being a conspiracy theorist with these similarities, then wait until you read this quote from Thanos’s creator where he originally planned to steal from Metron from DC’s New Gods series before being told to steal from Darkseid:
“That was the one exception where there some long term plotting on Thanos. [Jack] Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You’d think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said : “Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!”
HAHA! See?! Even Marvel wanted Jim Starlin to rip off one of DC’s top villains! It gets even better when a crossover comic just happened to lean into this issue with this page.
Dang, successful troll is successful! I can’t believe I never realized the similarities between these two intergalactic comic book baddies or that anyone would admit to stealing from another character.
Ripoff: Graf Orlok from Nosferatu
Debuted in 1922
Character he ripped off: Count Dracula from Dracula
Debuted in 1897 (book), 1921 (cinematic debut with Dracula’s Death)
No one is safe for this Top 7! I made some uncomfortable observations for Disney fans and superhero fans, but now I’m going after the horror movie buffs as well as the classic film connoisseurs. [Lightning flashes in the background] HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
I felt kind of stupid because I actually watched Nosferatu for a homework assignment in my World Cinema class in my college days, but I don’t believe that I realized then that the German silent movie was literally a work of plagiarism! That movie was an “unofficial” (I use that term loosely) adaptation of Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker, but never got the rights to adapt the work. Stoker’s descendants sued F. W. Murnau’s film, won the lawsuit, and even destroyed a ton of copies of Nosferatu. However, some copies survived and that silent film was only able to exist due to piracy if you really think about it. How is it that film is one of the few media out there where plagiarism is actually acceptable or even critically acclaimed (not that I care about Rotten Tomatoes, but Nosferatu ranks at 97% Fresh there)?
Let’s talk about the similarities. Both of them are vampires (obviously), are counts, are originally from Transylvania, and have an association with rats with Dracula being able to summon them and with Orlok bringing on an infestation when he’s in town. However, Dracula doesn’t play up Anti-Semitic undertones or implications like Graf Orlok in Murnau’s movie, so the original has that going for him. Besides that, I realized that Alucard from Hellsing’s first name is Nosferatu and his name is literally “Dracula” backwards, so maybe that anime was trying to reference both? It’s an odd homage, to say the least. Anyways, plagiarism really sucks especially when people get rewarded for it. More creators should grow a pair…of fangs. Yes, I got that joke from The Key of Awesome in the “Emo Vampire” video. Wow, that reference is dated!
Ripoff: K9999 from The King of Fighters series
Debuted in 2001 (The King of Fighters 2001 game)
Character he ripped off: Tetsuo Shima from Akira
Debuted in 1982 (manga), 1988 (anime movie)
Okay, so I’m kind of cheating a bit by putting a video game character on this list, but K9999 (pronounced K-Four-Nine) DESERVES to be on a list like this one. Besides, there have been adaptations of The King of Fighters around up to and including the first anime review I’ve done on the site with Another Day if anyone has been here since day one. SNK is certainly influenced by a ton of anime and references it in the KOF series which I have no issue with. You have examples with Benimaru Nikaido modeled after Polnareff from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Chris being the modern-day Swedish analog of Seta Sojiro from Rurouni Kenshin (no, I’m still not forgiving Nobuhiro Watsuki, but I’m using that character as an example), or even referencing Evangelion twice with Yuri Sakazaki saying “Anta baka?” for a taunt or Iori Yagami’s desperation super move totally parodying Unit-01 going berserk. With that being said, there’s a difference between homage, parody, and straight-up theft.
People can make a very strong case of K9999 being in a ripoff list as well as being #1 in certain other circumstances. Both the KOF character and Tetsuo have red capes, a disembodied right arm that can expand, have psychokinetic powers, can project barriers, have brash personalities, drive motorcycles, and are characters who happen to be experiments (K9999 is an altered clone of the main character Kyo Kusanagi), but the kicker is that both characters are VOICED BY THE SAME SEIYUU! I’m not making this up, Nozomu Sasaki is probably the only actor on earth to play both the original character and his knock-off version. That actually happened. If you think this is crazy, then check out this video compilation of both K9999 in the KOF video games with footage from Akira. Even if you don’t know Japanese, you can clearly tell some of his dialogue is verbatim. Also, the Kusanagi character as seen in this video (not to be confused with Kyo since he’s another clone) is voiced by Mitsuo Iwata who is the voice of Shotaro Kaneda himself! Holy Haohmaru, SNK was REALLY leaning into the Akira references way too hard!
KUSANAGIIIII….I mean, KANEDAAAAAA!! Don’t lie, your jaw dropped when it got to that part of the video assuming you weren’t laughing your butt off with how blatant the thievery was. Tetsuo is certainly an unstable menace, but he’s on my short list of anime characters who got shamelessly ripped off. SNK stopped using the K9999 character after The King of Fighters 2002 and replaced him with Nameless who doesn’t infringe any copyrights even if he kind of looks like Black Jack (as in the Osamu Tezuka character) fusion danced with Sasuke Uchiha, but that’s beside the point. The only thing that’s stopping me from putting this shameless ripoff character from the higher spots is that more people know about Tetsuo or at the very least the Akira movie than this blue-haired fighting game clone.
Ripoff: Elastigirl from The Incredibles
Debuted in 2004
Character she ripped off: Elasti-Girl from Doom Patrol
Debuted in 1963 (comics), 2003 (animated debut with Teen Titans), 2018 (live action debut with Titans)
I told you there would be another example of Pixar being shameless thieves. If you’re going to name a superheroine, then at least have the decency to not use the same name, hyphen or not! I was certainly more familiar with Mrs. Incredible first since I saw that movie a long time ago and I wasn’t aware of the Doom Patrol team. Although if we’re really honest with ourselves, The Incredibles is basically a PG version of Watchmen if you really truly think about it. Superhero registration act? Check. Superheroes having to be in hiding and not having to use their powers or their costumes lest they be chastised? Check. Plot to kill superpowered beings around the world? Check. Weight gain subplot with one of the main characters? Check. Characters who are analogs and/or deconstructive parodies of other superheroes? Check.
Well, except for the woman with the plasticity powers that is. I thought Helen Parr was a gender-swap parody analog of Mr. Fantastic when I first watched this movie given some of the Fantastic Four parallels (The Thing/Mr. Incredible, Invisible Girl/Violet, Human Torch/Jack Jack), but I was SO wrong.
For those scoring at home, I mentioned TWO DC characters with legitimate ripoffs and I feel sorry for DC fans that know about these issues. That’s not even getting into the controversy of the X-Men ripping off that superhero team since both of them involve outcast mutant heroes led by a wheelchair-bound man, one of the members having “Beast” as part of a superhero name (more on that later), and a villainous faction called the Brotherhood of Evil. Let’s break down the similarities with these superheroines besides their code names. They both have the ability to stretch themselves (obviously), size-shifting (although the DP character can turn into a giant or someone minuscule), and both of them have very similar last names with the Incredibles one’s surname being Parr while the DC character’s surname is Farr. Both characters are married and become moms in their own right. Rita Farr however is an adoptive parent as her adoptive son is actually Beast Boy in the comics. Yes, as in the Teen Titans character, everyone. I was shocked that DC or their parent company Warner Bros. didn’t try to sue Disney/Pixar when their famous superhero movie came out given the rivalry between both of them. Instead, Helen Parr had to be called Mrs. Incredible with the toys. Come on, if the Doom Patrol IP came out after The Incredibles, all the Disney fans would crap all over DC for ripping off their favorite action mom. You know that would happen if the situation was reversed. Seriously, if you were to ask anyone about when it comes to hearing the superhero name of both characters, then I guarantee you that most people would think about The Incredibles character before the Doom Patrol one. Pixar, I know you know better, so stop trying to be like your parent company by making all these unoriginal characters with this many specific similarities even though people defend them no matter what.
SPOILER ALERT! I guess this would be a perfect transition to my #1 pick even though I know some of you were thinking about the next example or something from that same IP if anyone is familiar with Iridium Eye. Here goes nothing…
Ripoff: Scar from The Lion King
Debuted in 1994
Character he ripped off: Claw from Kimba the White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo series
Debuted in 1950 (manga), 1965 (animated debut with Kimba the White Lion)
Let’s keep this 100, everybody. If you didn’t grow up in the 60s/70s or lived in Japan, the only reason why you and/or ANYONE watched anything involving Kimba the White Lion is because of finding out about The Lion King plagiarism controversy. Ask anyone who has watched this old-school anime as to which character stands out the most when it comes to being shamelessly cloned by Disney, and I guaran-flipping-tee you that the answer will be Claw by a savanna mile! There is absolutely no way I wasn’t going to put Scar on this list because I don’t see anybody calling him out as a copyright infringement case that just happened to not go to court even with all the painfully obvious similarities between these evil lion characters. I wouldn’t have been so forgiving to Mickey Mouse if I was Osamu Tezuka’s son Makoto, but that’s a story for another day.
For those of you who haven’t read my reviews of Kimba, Jungle Emperor Leo: Hon-O-Ji, or even my Top 7 Underrated Anime Villains list, let me educate you about how both Claw and Scar are alike:
-Wounded left eyes
-Takes over the main character’s respective kingdoms after the father lion gets murdered (Claw doesn’t kill Caesar, but the timing is still there)
-Noted rivalry with said father lion who was also the original king of the animals
-Gravelly baritone voices (okay, they have different accents, but still…)
-Hyena cronies around them
There were actually other comparisons that I legitimately didn’t think about after those posts or just pointing out the obvious things about both feline villains. For starters, Yesterworld did a video essay called The Lion King Lie, and he pointed out that both characters’ respective names are a before and after situation of sorts (claws leave scars), and even brought up the deleted scene of Scar coaxing Nala to be his queen (although this plot point is used in the Broadway version). Despite him making the mistake of confusing her with Sarabi, he was corrected by a commenter and since Claw does have a storyline in the anime of trying to get Kimba’s girlfriend Kitty/Lyra to be his queen when she’s older, this makes Scar even MORE of a ripoff when you realize that the lioness is the Original Nala for crying out loud! Major props to Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews for telling me about that video! Also, I have to thank Fiddletwix for her review of The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride where she mentions that Scar, Kovu, and Nuka are based on Barbary lions (a breed where the males have natural black manes). Guess what? Osamu Tezuka intentionally made Claw a Barbary lion when making his story. Coincidence? I think not!
If anyone tried to pull off that strawman argument of “Well, it’s common to have the same animals in a jungle or savanna environment.” (also paraphrased from Lion King co-director Rob Minkoff), then I’m going to immediately clap back and say “Explain Scar, then.” No one has ever been able to make a good counterargument against me whether online or offline when it comes to me rightfully calling Scar a shameless and literal copycat. Sadly, there are people who still deny this and the other cases that have been documented like how I saw a YouTube comment involving a highlight of a certain video essay from a famous YouTuber talking about this issue and said something along the lines of “Scar is based on Shere Khan.” I couldn’t handle the sheer stupidity of that comment. Sites like WhatCulture and Cracked were too cowardly to even mention this character in their downplaying of the comparisons between Kimba and TLK. Disney STILL keeps this facade of their movie being an “original work” for over two decades of denial. Yeah, I just parodied a lyric from “Be Prepared” to drive that point home. Why aren’t more Lion King fans acknowledging these things? I swear there are so many scaredy-cats (or should I say cowardly lions?) who wouldn’t even dare challenge the House of Mouse with how unoriginal this character is or anyone in the first movie who isn’t Timon and Pumbaa. For real, you know it’s bad when I’ve seen far more people online call out Buzz Lightyear for stealing from Meteora than when it comes to Disney not even trying to create a unique villain for this movie.
If you consider Scar to be one of the best Disney villains, movie villains, or villains of all time, then I better not see you call any other character a ripoff EVER AGAIN! I’ve even been tempted to go to mainstream movie blogs or at the very least Disney-related blogs and straight-up school people for liking a clone of an anime villain as a kind of indirect revenge against people who insulted me. Ever since I finished watching Kimba the White Lion years ago, I have asked myself this question when it comes to other characters who are obvious clones: “Is this character as big of a ripoff as Scar?”. That’s right, this British-accented lion doppelganger is my benchmark when it comes to un-originality when I deal with these controversies. Back when I used to watch A Dose of Buckley ages ago, there was a great variation of a quote he says: “Imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery. It’s the laziest form of creation.” Despite how good the animation is for The Lion King, Disney was beyond lazy when they had to filch from a 60s anime villain for one of their critically acclaimed antagonists. This ticks me off to this day how people still defend all the unsavory things involving this cursed movie franchise that owes everything to Osamu Tezuka, Solomon Linda, and even 90 million Swahili speakers. Keep lying to yourselves that this copycat and this franchise are original. Go on, I dare you to keep telling yourself that.
As I calm myself down, that was the list. I guess some of my entries are predictable, but what did you think? Were you aware of some of these examples? What other characters can you think of that are shameless ripoffs that no one seems to call them out on being ripoffs? Thanks for reading, everybody.
All photos and videos are property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.
Kida is from Atlantis: The Lost Empire and is property of the Walt Disney Corporation. The image is from Change.org and is property of The Walt Disney Corporation.
Nadia is from Nadia: Secret of Blue Water and is property of Gainax and Sentai Filmworks. The GIF is from Amino Apps and is property of Gainax and Sentai Filmworks.
Buzz Lightyear is from Toy Story and is property of Pixar. The picture from Toy Story 4 is from Pinterest and is property of Pixar.
Meteora is from The Christmas Toy and is property of the Jim Henson Company, Lionsgate, and HIT Entertainment. The screenshot is from Scripts and is property of the Jim Henson Company, Lionsgate, and HIT Entertainment.
Thanos is from the Marvel Universe and is property of Marvel Comics. The screenshot from Avengers: Infinity War is from DisKingdom and is property of Marvel Studios.
Darkseid is from the DC Universe and is property of DC Comics. The screenshot from Zack Snyder’s Justice League is from NME and is property of Zack Snyder, DC Comics, and Warner Bros.
The panel of the DC Vs. Marvel crossover is from Quora and is property of DC Comics and Marvel Comics.
Graf Orlok is from Nosferatu and is property of F. W. Murnau and the Film Arts Guild. The screenshot is from Features Reverse Shot and is property of F. W. Murnau and the Film Arts Guild.
Count Dracula is from Dracula and is property of Bram Stoker. The GIF of Dracula (1931) is from Classic Movie Hub and is property of Tod Browning, Bram Stoker, and Universal.
K9999 is from The King of Fighters series and is property of SNK Playmore. The image of K9999 from The King of Fighters 2001 is from Pinterest and is property of SNK Playmore.
Tetsuo Shima is from Akira and is property of Katsuhiro Otomo. The screenshot is from Pinterest and is property of Katsuhiro Otomo, TMS, and Funimation.
Elastigirl is from The Incredibles and is property of Pixar. The image is from Pinterest and is property of Pixar.
Elasti-girl is from Doom Patrol and is property of DC Comics. The screenshot from Doom Patrol is from YouTube and is property of DC Comics, Warner Bros., and HBO Max.
Scar is from The Lion King and is property of The Walt Disney Company. The GIF is from Pinterest and is property of The Walt Disney Company.
Claw is from Kimba the White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo and is property of Tezuka Productions. The screenshot from The New Adventures of Kimba the White Lion is property of Tezuka Productions.