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I liked [Bleach] better when it was called Yu Yu Hakusho, and I liked that show better when it was called DRAGON BALL Z!

It is common that some work is heavily "inspired" by a previous work--they may have different authors and settings, but there are strong similarities of plot, situations and characters. It is also common that the second work is much inferior to the original, because the original is great or the derivative is awful or both. The Better By A Different name snark expresses this idea. The usual phrasing is "[This work] was better when it was called [other, earlier work]."

For Better By A Different Name to be effective, the original work needs to be well-known and admired. The trope is also rare when a work is a blatant Follow the Leader of another. For one thing, the joke is kind of ruined if the predecessor is obvious. For another, not all clone-work is execrable. Causality is also a confounding variable for Better By A Different Name. It may be that both the original and the supposedly "derivative" work were actually inspired by some even earlier common source.

Often overlaps with If I Wanted X, I Would Y.

A Sub-Trope of They Copied It, So It Sucks, in that this trope is a common way to express that belief.

Compare Take That, Recycled in Space (which often is a cause of this), Serial Numbers Filed Off (another cause of this unless it's by the same creator), Spiritual Licensee.

Important: To avoid Natter, this is reserved for instances actually noted in a specific work, fiction or non-fiction, regardless of whether these comments are correct.

Examples (sorted by source of the comment instead of the subject):


Comics

Literature

Live Action TV

  • This was one of David Spade's trademark bits on Saturday Night Live. In his last season it got turned around on him, when host Teri Hatcher told him she liked his then-current movie Black Sheep better when it was called Tommy Boy.

Music

  • Mitch Benn liked Russia's 2008 entry for the Eurovision Song Contest better when it was by Cat Stevens and called Wild World.
  • Filk artist Voltaire's song "U.S.S. Make Shit Up":

 I was stranded on the Voyager

And pounding on the door

When suddenly it dawned on me--

I'd seen this show before!

Perhaps I'm in a warp bubble

And slightly out of phase

Coz it was way back in the sixties

When they called it Lost in Space!

    • Which is more than slightly amusing when one considers that Lost in Space can be described as either Swiss Family Robinson IN SPACE! or Gilligan's Island IN SPACE! depending on how kind one feels on that particular day.
      • Or "a rip-off of the original series of Star Trek after Roddenberry gave CBS the complete premise of Star Trek and they rejected it."

Other

 Case for the defence: The science in Armageddon is no more wacky than it is in something like Fantastic Voyage and – let’s face it – considerably more sensible than the science presented in Source Code.

Case for the prosecution: Hey, I liked Source Code!

Case for the defence: I liked it better 20 years ago when it was called Quantum Leap.

Case for the prosecution: Touché.

Web Original

 Nappa: I'd rather watch Naruto, Vegeta.

Vegeta: Oh, please! If I wanted to watch over a hundred episodes of Filler, I'd watch Inuyasha.

Nappa: What about Bleach, Vegeta? It's like us, with swords!

Vegeta: I liked that show better when it was called Yu Yu Hakusho, and I liked that show better when it was called Dragonball Z!

 Kaiba: Was that a DragonBall Z cameo? Geez, knowing my luck, my father's going to turn out to be Ghost Nappa. That's pretty much how these things usually go.

Mokuba: Aaaahh, but you gotta admit, Seto, Nappa sure is funny!

Kaiba: Yeah, I liked him better when he was called "Tristan".

  I was in fact entertained by the first part of Sphere the first time I saw it (when it was called either The Abyss or Alien), and I was quite highly entertained by the second half the first time I saw that (when it was called Forbidden Planet and starred Walter Pigeon). I have to take it as a given that I would have enjoyed the last five minutes of Sphere along with everyone else who saw it the first time, when it was called Prince Of Tides, but I missed that one.

Web Comics

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