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  • Happens a great deal in politics and religion: the specific actions of a successful historical leader are emulated, forgetting the principles and reasons behind them. Some Mongol leaders after Genghis Khan sought to reestablish the Mongol Empire, but only to the borders the empire had at the time of Genghis Khans' death. A Christian cult in Uganda wants to ban bicycles because they didn't exist in Jesus' time. Some Muslims in Africa refuse to use toothbrushes, opting for sticks with the end chewed soft, because toothbrushes didn't exist in Muhammad's time.
  • Several video uploading sites have cropped up since the rise of YouTube.
    • For that matter, video uploading sites make it quite easy for any schmoe with a video camera to imitate junk they saw on the Internet (or, for that matter, junk they saw in any other visual medium).
  • The success of Magic: The Gathering caused anything that achieved any kind of popularity to have a collectible card game tie-in.
  • Competitive sports is very much a Follow the Leader endeavor.
    • The 2003 book Moneyball (subtitle: "The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game") described the unorthodox methods of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Oakland's ability to succeed despite financial disadvantage inspired other major league teams to copy their approach.
    • American football coaches are notorious copycats, even at the NFL or elite collegiate level. Whenever an innovative offensive or defensive scheme is unveiled, it will quickly be adopted by other teams... until someone figures out how to stop it. The spread offense is king at the moment; past trends (most of which still exist in some form) include the run-and-shoot, the shotgun formation, the 46 defense, the wishbone, and the T-formation.
      • If a player hits it big for an innovative niche, the next 1,000 guys at that position will all be compared to him. Before Michael Vick, the mobile quarterback was something of a rarity, and every halfback that catches passes will inevitably be compared to LaDainian Tomlinson. There's probably a bunch of guys looking to draft the next Devin Hester.
      • Some of the oldest techniques were even more pronounced instances of Follow the Leader: in 1892, Harvard introduced the Flying Wedge and trounced Yale (under the modern scoring system, they would have won 42-0). In 1893, nearly every play was a flying wedge. In 1894, it was banned (largely because it was EXTREMELY dangerous).
      • The modern T-formation appeared in 1939. In 1940 Stanford won the Rose Bowl using it, and the Chicago Bears won the NFL championship (73-0, still the most lospsided GAME in NFL history). Within 10 years only one pro and a handful of Colleges were still running the single-wing.
    • Motorsport is rife with this at the top levels. A skilled engineer/aerodynamicist develops a new device. Said device results in their car utterly destroying the rest of the field. Cue each other team developing/copying the new device, sometimes failing to get it to work, other times refining it. Assuming they aren't petitioning the governing body to ban it, if it isn't already. The list of examples could fill it's own page.
  • The popularity of Wikipedia caused a glut of smaller wikis across the Internet, mostly focused on specific topics of interest to the community they are set up in.* cough*
    • Interestingly, the first wiki was not Wikipedia but the Portland Pattern Repository, whose goal was to catalog the patterns used by programmers--really, the programmer version of tropes.
    • To be fair, they encourage and support this; the MediaWiki software is under a Free Software license.
  • Ever since Webkinz thought of virtual pets, it's very hard to find a stuffed animal without a virtual code.
    • Technially Neopets did it first though the Plush toys were based on the pets already on their site you can get without buying anything and the codes only give items.
  • Many websites that are animated base it solely off of Homestar Runner.
  • RiffTrax, created by Mike Nelson, sparked the rise of the Alternate DVD Commentary.
    • Wizard People, Dear Reader(2004) predates RiffTrax(2006), actually, but in any event the general idea undoubtedly followed close on the heels of the first "regular" DVD commentary.
  • While not the very first Machinima series, Red vs. Blue cleared the path for dozens, if not hundreds, of followers, especially using Halo 2 as a game engine. Many of them tried to copy Red vs. Blue to the letter and failed miserably while doing it. Or simply weren't very good. Others though, were pretty darn good in their own right.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd, since achieving online notoriety and fame has since had several others attempting a style similar to him (i.e. that of a foul-mouthed and pissed off reviewer of old crappy games). It's worth noting that he himself was far from being the first to do this. Seanbaby had done this years before (and was likely an inspiration) may not have been the first himself.
    • Unfortunately, because of his rabid fanbase, those who actually try something new with the idea or take an alternate approach are often ignored or flamed for being "rip-offs". Even people who review ANYTHING made in the 80s such as cartoons and comics (just look at The Nostalgia Critic) get branded as rip-offs. Many hold the opinion that some of his genuine ripoffs are better than Mr. Rolfe himself is anyway, so to some this is a moot point.
      • Speaking of the Critic, the fact that he got branded as a rip-off was the reason why his feud with the Nerd started in the first place (see Nerd Rant 1 for proof).
    • That doesn't mean that there aren't any quote-on-quote quote-unquote "ripoffs" that are actually good. Take a look at the Happy Video Game Nerd, who reviews good obscure games. Even the AVGN subscribed to his videos.
    • mpn1990, aka the Crazy Game Critic. Check out his Action 52 review, where he Screams Like a Little Girl in parts.
  • The Newgrounds series Madness Combat has spun off countless imitators, some of which are quite popular and impressive, like Bunnykill and Maximum Ninja.
    • Newgrounds encourages this, they made a "Madness Day" (Sept. 22nd) so fans could make flash games and movies, popular series include Xionic Madness, and the aforementioned Bunnykill and Maximum Ninja.
    • Same to Xiao Xiao which inspired countless stick figure fighting animations and largely Madness Combat itself.
  • It was arguably the popularity of the Andrew Lloyd Webber take on The Phantom of the Opera (itself inspired by a campier version by Ken Hill) that spurred the unsuccessful Vampire Musicals trend, and gave a boost to Jekyll and Hyde. In fact, since the novel is public domain, quite a few musical adaptations sprung up in the 1990s for community theatres and whatnot, as well a new lease on life for Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston's Phantom, which was actually developed around the same time as Webber's take but got lost in the shuffle.
  • The restaurant industry apparently loves this trope. Think about when various chains started offering (or offering more of or emphasizing): angus, chipotle, fast food salads, chicken... the current hot trend appears to be small "slider" style burgers ala White Castle or Krystal.
    • And chicken sandwiches with only pickles and a buttered bun, a la Chick-Fil-A.
  • The Game FAQs Character Battles had long been dominated by Link until 2007 (he only lost one contest where he entered, to Cloud), when voters fed up with him winning every year propelled L-Block (yes, from Tetris) to victory. When the 2008 nominations came along, many, many people tried nominating a bunch of random joke characters in an attempt to recreate L-Block, without considering why L-Block succeeded in the first place.
    • The Weighted Companion Cube from Portal admittedly did very well - going farther than the returning champion - but proving no jokes are forever, Link still won.
  • Similar to the previous one, the popularity of Ray's Pizza in New York led to a number of ripoffs like Ray's Famous Pizza, Original Ray's Pizza, Ray's Original Pizza, etc. According to That Other Wiki, much of the other restaurants with "Ray's" in the name ended up becoming authentic Ray's restaurants after Ray's became a chain of restaurants and much of these restaurants' owners bought franchises, with one oddly retaining the name Not Ray's Pizza after doing so, though it didn't say if there were any ripoffs still out there after the original restaurant's expansion, so checking whether they're real Ray's Pizza restaurants would be a good idea for someone not from NYC. Conan O'Brien briefly mentioned Ray's Pizza and other pizzerias with "Ray's" in the name on his eponymous TBS show during a week of shows in New York City, but he ended up going to Joe's Pizza rather than any of the Ray's pizzerias because he had a fondness of Joe's when he was in New York doing Late Night.
    • Likewise with Tommy's Hamburgers in Los Angeles. A glut of Tommie's, Tomi's, and similar wannabe-clones came and (mostly) went.
  • The Las Vegas casino show scene has been and is prone to this:
    • The French showgirl revue was introduced to Las Vegas in the 1950s with Lido de Paris, and the style became the default setting for Vegas for years afterward with such shows as Folies Bergere, Hallelujah Hollywood!, and Jubilee! (the only one still performing today, since 1981).
    • Siegfried and Roy got their start in Vegas performing between showgirl acts in revues, but were so popular they became headliners in the late '70s and proved a magic show format could work. Especially after they opened a gigantic production at the Mirage hotel in 1989, many casinos created their own magic-themed productions, making it the go-to genre of the '90s. Nowadays, it's verging on Deader Than Disco as older productions close and newer ones fail to bring anything new to the table (Criss Angel Believe, a Cirque Du Soleil produced effort, is that company's first show to qualify as a Dork Age). Tellingly, the shows of this sort that still draw audiences tend to be comedy-magic hybrids that find new twists on the familiar: Penn & Teller, the Amazing Johnathan, and Mac King.
    • 1983's Legends in Concert was the first all-celebrity impersonator show; the format remains popular whether it's a revue tackling many performers or one performer/group representing one act. The original is still running, and has launched several other companies elsewhere.
    • Danny Gans' success in the late 1990s spawned a wave of shows based around one performer delivering a bunch of celebrity impressions.
    • The country music boom spearheaded by Garth Brooks inspired several revues in the mid-1990s.
    • Any dirty ventriloquist act (such as Jeff Dunham) is heavily influenced or sometimes downright copying an act called Otto and George. Otto and George never hit the mainstream, but his limited fanbase includes Penn & Teller, Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, and back when they were still alive, George Carlin and John Lennon.
    • Cirque Du Soleil was likely the inspiration for the importing of dubious foreign variety revues at the turn of the millennium, as well as mostly unsuccessful direct imitators (Imagine, Storm). Ultimately Cirque mounting as many as seven different ongoing productions in the city at once discouraged stylistically similar shows from being produced, especially after the nasty reception Le Reve, mounted by a former Cirque director, received upon opening in 2005. (Said director also mounted Celine Dion's popular Vegas show.) At this point, many are fervently hoping for a new megahit show that will break Cirque's dominance, but the ongoing economic downturn has left rival producers without the means to create worthy competitors.
    • Mamma Mia was a substantial hit when it opened at Mandalay Bay in 2003, inspiring the following legit musicals to mount Vegas productions - Saturday Night Fever, We Will Rock You (its only U.S. production to date), Hairspray, Avenue Q, The Phantom of the Opera, Spamalot, The Producers, Jersey Boys, and The Lion King. Only Phantom, Jersey Boys, and Lion King caught on.
  • Over the last 35 years, the National Hockey League has seen its overall style of play change and develop whenever a given team begins winning with a new style of play, which the rest of the league begins emulating in an attempt to catch up. Whether the rough-and-tumble tactics of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s, the high-scoring Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s, or the tight and defensive New Jersey Devils in the 1990s (specifically their use of neutral zone trap), all three teams helped define their eras as their opponents began copying them.
  • Gaia Online, Gaia Online, Gaia Online. It's nigh-impossible to find a forum featuring customizable avatars that doesn't imitate it in some way. At the best, it's simply having a similar feel, at the worst, it's copying forum names, items, and events.
  • The video "8-Bit Gratuity" inspired a slew of similar videos like "Kirby is a fucking monster" (though most of them leave the original game audio intact instead of giving it a spooky echoing effect like in the original video).
  • ChipCheezum and General Ironicus' retsupuraes, although Slowbeef and Diabetus have also made guest appearances in their videos. Chip has also done the inverse, Let's Recommend.
  • After the emergence of Paris Hilton's infamous sex video (and before that, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee), you couldn't spit without it landing on a "celebrity" claiming to have been sold out by an ex or robbed, with the resulting porn video ending up on the Internet and giving said celebrity his/her fifteen minutes of fame before they slid back into has-been/never-will-be territory.
  • The site, The Million Dollar Homepage, has caused people to despair a bit because it's simultaneously an idea that was so damn obvious and will never be possible again. It's inspired hundreds of different sites, and all have fallen short of its glory.
  • Top 60 Ghetto Names has spawned a slew of imitators, all with the same twist at the end.
  • One advertisement for Burger King's new breakfast sandwich lampshades this, having the King breaking into McDonalds' headquarters and stealing one of their recipes.

 Announcer: The BK breakfast muffin sandwich with egg: it's not that original, but it's only a buck.

  • Before the Japanese stock bubble burst in the early 90s, you would have tons of American businessmen reading Sun Tzu and The Book of Five Rings in the hope of boosting their business acumen somehow. Naturally, this extended to fiction, with characters like Geese Howard showing people that a little aikido and some cool war god statues can really aid in your criminal conquest of America.
  • Two whole networks owe their existence to this. When the Fox network became successful in the early 1990s (mostly due to The Simpsons, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, winning the rights to the National Football League's National Football Conference in 1993, and signing a deal with station owner New World Communications in 1994), Time Warner and Paramount started The WB Television Network and the United Paramount Network, respectively, in early 1995. The two even have similar origins to Fox, as all three had their roots in a group of independent stations (Fox had the six Metromedia independents[1], The WB had the seven Tribune Broadcasting independents[2], and UPN had the independents of Chris-Craft/United Television[3] and Paramount Stations Group[4]. Both networks are gone now, as they missed that Fox had grown so quickly because of chance-taking (something the Big Three were not big on) and investing in popular, profitable sports programming (most of Tribune's WB stations dropped their sports programming roughly midway through the network's run, ironically to boost the network), though they live on as The CW, which may head in the same direction as its forebears.
  • After Freemans Mind became popular, now there are scores of adding-narration-to-gameplay-footage series, almost all of which are called [character]'s mind. Most of them also use the same intro, the same characterisation for the player character, and sometimes even the same jokes. Similarly to the abridged series, very few are worth watching.
  • When it first began to get popular, Facebook did so by copying things from My Space. And now that Facebook is the top social networking site, Myspace has been slowly becoming more and more like Facebook.
  • Take a look at a good portion of smartphones out there. Odds are, its features (either in UI, software, design, or all three) have some resemblance to the iPhone.
    • And every tablet released since 2010 will likely share similar resemblances to the iPad.
  • Baskin-Robbins' "31 flavors" trademark which was based on Howard Johnson's restaurants and their claims of "28 flavors". Then Bresler's 33 Flavors copied the idea as well.
    • Similarly, Howard Johnson's (back when it was both a motel and restaurant chain) was known for the unique designs of its Motor Lodges and restaurants: the former had massive A-frames, and the latter had a modernistic streamline design with porcelain roofs. Both were copied strongly by local businessmen.
  • Also, Holiday Inn's huge, flashy motel signs with a yellow chase arrow were copied endlessly, even by other motel chains.
  • Stuckey's pioneered the concept of a gift shop/restaurant/convenience store combo. As a result, many other chains such as Nickerson Farms, Horne's and Dutch Pantry copied the concept; Horne's was even started by a former Stuckey's owner. The competitors all fell by the wayside in the 1970s, and although Stuckey's is greatly reduced in numbers, it still exists. And it could be argued that the highly successful Cracker Barrel is a modern Stuckey's minus the gas station.
  • In 1519 Hernán Cortés sailed to Mexico with 600 men and conquered a big and unbelievably rich empire in a single campaign. In 1527, his second-degree cousin Francisco Pizarro sailed to Peru with 169 men and conquered an even bigger and more unbelievably rich empire in a single campaign. Soon there were thousands of tiny Spanish expeditions looking for even bigger and richer empires to conquer from Kansas to Patagonia, most of which came back empty-handed... or didn't.
  • The British advert for Burger King's new Chicken Tenders lampshades the fact that they're pulling a Follow the Leader on McNuggets. A husband goes "I wonder what they taste like?" and his wife sarcastically retorts "I bet they're REALLY different".
  • During its struggle to stay relevant, My Space tried copying Facebook and Twitter, and forcing updates that nobody wanted, to the point where those who hadn't already left for those sites got fed up and left too.
  • Firefox 4 followed Google Chrome's lead when it came out, eliminating the toolbar except for the URL and back and forward buttons.
  • For a vintage example, Radio Drama series The Whistler was essentially a copycat of The Shadow.
  • In 1962, the dime store chain S.S. Kresge started a little discount store called Kmart. Meanwhile, Sam Walton opened the first Walmart, and Dayton's department store of Minnesota opened the first Target. Kmart was so successful that by year's end, competing dime store chain F.W. Woolworth had its own discount arm called Woolco. Fellow dime store chains J.J. Newberry, W.T. Grant, G.C. Murphy and T G & Y rolled out their own discount stores (Britt's, Grant City, Murphy's Mart and T G & Y Family Center). Even Montgomery Ward got into the fold briefly with its Jefferson Ward division. The chains that were spun off from the competing dime stores all failed between 1976 and 1985, with Grant City, T G & Y and Woolco even selling many of their locations to Kmart. Ultimately, Kresge gave up on the whole dime store thing in 1987.
    • And it happened again. When Walmart opened the first Supercenter in 1990, Kmart and Target both began superstores of their own (although the concept was Older Than They Think, having started by Michigan-based Meijer in — you guessed it — 1962). By aggressively expanding so that nearly every town now has a Supercenter, Walmart has pounded Kmart flat. Meanwhile, Target has distanced itself by abandoning the supercenters and going for a more upscale design. The Supercenter binge also had the side effect of knocking out nearly every remaining discount chain, which again fueled Walmart as it bought many locations from the fallen Ames, Caldor and Jamesway.
  • Once Beanie Babies took off in the late 1990s, many other collectible plush toy lines came into being as well.
  • Lowe's started out as a traditional hardware store chain similar to True Value or ACE. They adopted the big-box superstore format in the 1980s once The Home Depot started opening in Lowe's home base of North Carolina.
  • After Barnes & Noble released the Nook Color, an Android-based color e-reader by an established ebook company out come the Kindle Fire and Kobo Vox, also Android-based color e-readers by established ebook companies.
  • Happens occasionally in firearms development. For instance, the M16 came with a combination carry handle/rear sight that was copied by many other weapons since. Including the British SA80, which otherwise started the alternate trend of rifles without traditional ironsights at all, like the H&K G36.
  • Reddit has been bastardizing memes from The Image Board That Shall Not Be Named, most infamously, though not limited to, rage comics. It's everything now that 4Chan makes that they steal and proclaim is original, and that they made it up, despite some of them having existed since long before the site's creation.
  • The worst Filipino example of this would probably be GMA-7, which has copied a lot of ABS-CBN programs (it doesn't help at all when the network claims its originality) out of its obsession towards ratings leadership. Which then resulted in many viewers getting angry and a huge growth in its base of haters.
  • After LEGO’s Bionicle took off, a number of other buildable action figure toys were made, notably Xevos by Hasbro, ReKonstructors by K’nex, and NEO Shifters by Mega Bloks.
  1. in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington DC and Houston
  2. in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago (this station, WGN, was a huge boon, as it was broadcast nationally), Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, and New Orleans
  3. in New Jersey/New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Portland, OR
  4. in Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington DC, Houston, Detroit and San Antonio (which was a Fox station before UPN knocked it off)