• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Strictly MacFormula.


"The one in back,

The way he acts,

Is he reminding you of anyone we know?

Isn't he so

Like certain people I could name?"


Short for "Exported Character", an Expy is a character from one series who is unambiguously and deliberately based on a character in another, older series. A few minor traits — such as age and name — may change, but there's no doubt that they are almost one and the same. Often seen in different works by the same writer(s) or production team.

This can simply be the tendency of writers to prefer certain characterizations for important characters (or knowing which ones are most marketable/popular), or the influence of the design process. On the other hand, it may just be a bad attempt to try to revive a character who the writer liked, but nobody else did and had to get rid of it. When by a different author, it may be a Homage to the original creator and/or character. In the negative sense, an expy can be seen as just a bloated, gimmicky version of a perfectly serviceable past character. In a positive sense, it can refer to an "upgrade" of a two-dimensional or otherwise limited character to one more appreciably complex.

Theory: any Characters As Device trope, if taken to the extreme, can result in the character appearing to be a mere expy of the Ur Examples for that trope. Especially if the character is Flanderized to the point of having few defining characteristics outside of the trope they represent. See Fountain of Expies.

Most often seen in animation and video games, where it's much easier to make a newer character resemble an older one. Occasionally happens when characters from different stories end up sharing voice actors, making or even forcing their personalities to look even more similar, which often leads to jokes based on the voice actor's former role.

When the character appears in the same show as the previous character, he's often a Suspiciously Similar Substitute.

The key difference between this and Captain Ersatz is that an Expy is not clearly supposed to be the character, but is rather very similar, 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. Also note that a fictional counterpart to a real-life person would not be an Expy. When a character strongly resembles a real person, rather than a fictional character, that's No Celebrities Were Harmed. A quick glance around All The Tropes will reveal just how often these mistakes are made on this very wiki.

Compare to Bleached Underpants, Alternate Company Equivalent, Name's the Same, Roman à Clef, Counterpart Comparison, Similar Squad, Same Story, Different Names, Suspiciously Similar Song, Distaff Counterpart, Evil Counterpart. Not to be confused with XP.

Contrast In Name Only, Transplanted Character Fic

For specific expies, see Fountain of Expies.

Examples belong in subpages: