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Neo Roanoke: But to do so he has to get through me, a conflicted villain who also serves as his main rival. Also, I have a Cool Mask.
Rau Le Creuset: Hey, wait a second, you're just copying me.
Zechs Merquise: No, you're copying me.
Chronicle Asher: No, both of you are copying me.
Char Aznable: No, all of you are copying me!
A Char Clone is a character who has many traits of Char Aznable from the Gundam franchise, who inspired many copies. The Gundam series was (and is) wildly popular in Japan, with a cultural impact comparable to Star Trek or Doctor Who in the West. Char, an antagonist in the original Gundam show Mobile Suit Gundam, became the most iconic character of the series, outpacing even the main characters and the Big Bad in popularity. Given the sheer number of characters that reference, Homage, or flat out are Char with a different name, they eventually became known as Char clones.
A brief history of the original Char: in Mobile Suit Gundam, he was The Rival to the main character. A mysterious masked man with distinctive blonde hair, he was an Ace Pilot called the Red Comet with a penchant for piloting Ace Custom mecha painted red (which was said to be three times faster than its mundane counterpart, despite the only visual difference being its color). Over the course of the series, it is revealed that Char has a hidden agenda -- avenging his father, who was assassinated by the series Big Bad -- and that his estranged sister is part of the heroes' crew. In the sequel series, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, he adopts a Paper-Thin Disguise and makes a Heel Face Turn, allying with the good guys and acting as The Mentor for the new generation. His final appearance comes in the appropriately-named Chars Counterattack, where he's a villain again, attempting to drop a giant asteroid onto Earth for the good of mankind.
Expect to see these traits in a Char clone:
- Blonde or otherwise pale hair. In case his hair is dark, it'll rarely be shown.
- An Ace Custom Humongous Mecha (or plane/car/motorcycle/whatever), usually red (but occasionally gold, from Char's Zeta Gundam mecha). May be referenced as being three times better (especially faster) than normal.
- A Cool Mask, or at the very least face-covering Cool Shades. This may be part of a Cool Helmet.
- A Badass Nickname, usually referencing their color of choice.
- A Long-Lost Relative among the cast, allowing for The Reveal at a dramatically appropriate time. Frequently an Aloof Big Brother as well.
Other than those universal aspects, these characters tend to fall into one of three aspects, which could be roughly aligning with the three works Char appeared in: Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and Chars Counterattack.
- A Mobile Suit Gundam-style Char clone will be an Anti-Hero, The Rival to the main character, a Hidden Agenda Villain and/or a Dragon with an Agenda and probably many changes between the heroes side and the villains side.
- A Zeta Gundam-style Char clone will be The Mentor to the main character, Older and Wiser with a Big Brother Mentor vibe.
- A Chars Counterattack-style Char clone will be a Knight Templar, Well-Intentioned Extremist or even a Dark Messiah, and may be a Fallen Hero as well. The most likely type of the three to be the Big Bad.
Char Clone is a character-specific subtrope of Fountain of Expies. Compare Shana Clone, Rei Ayanami Expy, and Darth Vader Clone. Not to be confused with expies of Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard.
Anime & Manga
- Gundam has a whole mess of them, obviously. Sometimes more than one per series!
- Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and Chars Counterattack feature the original.
- Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ was supposed to have Char but that was cancelled. Instead they got Glemmy Toto, a blonde, charming 17-year old, who has all of Char's manipulative ability and piloting skill, serves as a rival to two of the main characters, and eventually sets himself up as a rival to The Big Bad. He also seems to have Char's prediliction for younger girls, although given his own age, that's hard to tell.
- Gundam Unicorn has Full Frontal, who (despite the unfortunate name) is the Chariest Char since Char himself, being a cyber-newtype genetically altered to look like Char, with Char's memories implanted in him via the psycoframe, and played by the same actor. Does that subvert this trope or play it ultra-straight? You decide.
- Gundam F91 has a Knight Templar type Char as Carozzo Ronah, the Big Bad. Zabine Chareux also counts as The Rival version.
- Mobile Suit Victory Gundam has Chronicle Asher, who isn't as iconic an example as some, but still fits the bill as a The Rival Char.
- G Gundam splits it again, with Schwartz Bruder taking The Rival and The Mentor Char aspects, but Major Ulube getting the Big Bad ones.
- Gundam Wing has Zechs Merquise/Milliardo Peacecraft, who combines all three Char-styles. Wing has been described as "UC Gundam from MSG to CCA compressed into one series".
- Gundam X has The Captain Jamil Neate taking on The Mentor aspects of Char. A more direct example comes from Lancerow Dawell, who is a sort of Alternate Universe version of Char (with Jamil as his Amuro).
- Turn a Gundam has Harry Ord, whose distinguishing feature is a pair of Cool Shades that look like bug eyes. He's The Rival and The Dragon for most of the series.
- Gundam SEED's Rau Le Crueset is one of the darkest takes on the trope, being a Char clone who acts as The Rival to Ace Pilot Mu La Flaga, and is the Big Bad and The Man Behind the Man to the entire series, while simultaneously channeling CCA-era Char's plan up to Omnicidal Maniac levels. Mu La Flaga himself fits the Zeta style Big Brother Mentor type. Finally, Athrun Zala, the third Char Clone in SEED, had him piloting red mobile suits, and served as Kira's main rival in both shows before his Heel Face Turn.
- Gundam SEED Destiny splits it again. Neo Roanoke (actually the Not Quite Dead Mu la Flaga) fills the role of The Rival-Char, while Athrun acts as The Mentor-Char to Shinn, at least in the beginning. Then they swap, both of them (re)joining Kira. Neo/Mu loses the mask, gets the golden mobile suit and acts as the Older and Wiser figure to Kira and Athrun, while Athrun gets his red MS and ends up as The Rival to Shinn. The series also has an ungodly number of Char references, from Lunamaria's red ZAKU to Athrun's Paper-Thin Disguise as "Alex Dino" (consisting almost entirely of Cool Shades). Gilbert Durandal fits the Well-Intentioned Extremist-Char, and even shares his voice.
- Gundam 00 has Graham Aker, who starts as a more general example of The Ace and The Rival, challenging the Gundams with lesser mobile suits like the Flag, but is upgraded to a full-blown Char Clone in the second season, where he gains a Char-scar and puts on a Cool Mask. He also takes on a new name ("Mr. Bushido")...though it turns out that it's just a nickname other pilots gave him for his increasingly samurai-like tendencies, and he went with it.
- Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G reveals Boris Schauer. Because the story takes place in the real world, Boris may just be a fanboy of Char. Nevertheless, his similarity to Char is more than just cosmetic, as no ordinary fanboy will ride a Cool Horse just to mimic Char.
- Gundam Age has Zeheart Galette. His mask manages his Psychic Powers, which are powerful enough to require a custom (red) suit that is 3 times faster than normal Vagan suits. Although he isn't related by blood to any of the heroes, he is Asemu Asuno's former best friend and becomes The Rival. His relationship to Kio in the third remains to be seen.
- Gaia Gear, a probably out of continuity novel taking place a few centuries after Mobile Suit Gundam, features a literal clone of Char as the main character.
- Genesis of Aquarion has Sirius de Alisia.
- Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Ypsilon is this series' Char clone.
- Aura Battler Dunbine: Bern Bunnings from this show is an obvious Char. Rival status, fake moniker, wears a mask, extreme respect from his underlings, and grudging respect from his superiors.
- Bakugan: Spectra Phantom wears mostly red (including a mask), is blonde, is The Rival, and is actually named Keith Clay, the older brother of Mira Clay. Also, Masquerade doesn't have a thing for red nor does he err, she have a younger sister, but he is mostly this trope.
- Emperor Barodius and Dharakinoid in Gundalian Invaders are Chars of themselves in Mechtogan Surge, now Mag Mel and Razenoid. They've been so warped by evil, they've cast off their old identities.
- Though just a minor character, it's obvious who Findor in Bleach is modeled on. Also his name vaguely sounds like one of Char's made-up cover names.
- The Big O: Schwartzwald. A masked character with his own agenda, consistent rival to the lead, pilots three red mechs, and they are more maneuverable (three times faster).
- Brave Raideen: Actually a reverse of this trope; the character Prince Sharkin is who Char Aznable was modeled after. For all intents and purposes, however, it can also qualify.
- Code Geass: Split between the show's main character, Lelouch, who gets most of Char's backstory (estranged son of nobility, works under a fake name and wears a mask, has a younger sister who doesn't realize who he is), and Kallen, who gets his action role (Ace Pilot with speedy red mecha, The Rival of Suzaku on the battlefield). Also worth a mention, is that Word of God indicates Lelouch was initially going to be a White-Haired Pretty Boy, and thus would have looked the part even more. In fact, co-creator and head writer Ichiro Okouchi himself said that Zero was designed specifically to wear a mask because he felt that it wouldn't be a Sunrise show otherwise!
- Dancougar Nova: A masked blonde woman who pilots the red mecha R-Daigun against Dancougar. She turns out to be the Idol Singer Eida.
- Future GPX Cyber Formula: Knight Schumacher/Osamu Sugo is The Ace, The Rival, has Cool Shades, his younger sister is in love with the hero and drives a white and red formula car (in the TV series). And he's the long-lost brother to said little sister.
- GaoGaiGar: Soldat J is blond, wears a face obscuring helmet, is rival to main character, is faster than the main character on foot and in his smaller mecha, and is incredibly popular.
- GEAR Fighter Dendoh has Altair (the mask-wearing bad guy), who is the brother of one of the main characters and The Rival of the protagonists (though not by choice). He also uses a palette-swap of Dendoh, the Knight Gear Ogre.
- Full Metal Panic has a Char homage in a first season filler episode, where the man in question is the leader of a Jerk Jock team of mecha pilots. This ended up getting Lost in Translation, but if you know what to look for it's blatantly obvious.
- Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari: Dagmyer. Handsome blonde who wears a mask in the first episode, inspiring leader and idealist fighting against the system, Manipulative Bastard... he hits most of the criteria for both original recipe and Counterattack-era Char, except that he uses a blue Seikishin. And that he's hopelessly outmatched by his rival, Kenshi.
- Ulyte, the male of the two teachers in the series, also qualifies; acting as a male confidant for Harem Hero Kenshi and as a second for the Big Bad, while playing both sides against the middle for the sake of his own mysterious agenda. And he/she even has the mask aspect covered as Neizai.
- Last Exile: Tatiana Wisla - blonde Ace Pilot with a red vanship.
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Reinhard von Lohengramm. Blonde rival commander with intensely loyal subordinates; has a mysterious edge and felt the need to use a secret identity.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Nanoha's basically a Gundam disguised as a magical girl, so is it any wonder her first-season rival Fate is a blonde whose fighting style is geared for speed? Especially when she gets Sonic Form in A's, which makes her three times faster!
- Metal Armor Dragonar: Meio Plato, the Ace Pilot rival with the nickname Blue Hawk, his character design resembles CCA Char, his sister is a major character on the protagonists' side, and he has his own Ace Custom Metal Armor.
- In Sands of Destruction based on a video game of the same name the Char clone is a black teddy bear with an Eyepatch of Power and red bandanna, voiced by the original Char. To top it off, he is a friend turned rival to another teddy bear Toppi, who is voiced by the original Amuro.
- School Rumble: Harry McKenzie is a parody of this trope, being a Char in a non-mecha setting.
- Soukou no Strain: While officially A Little Princess in space, has been described as "Mobile Suit Gundam starring Sayla". Actually, both Ralph and his main character sister Sara have elements of Char-cloning (though Sara's mech is pink...). Amusingly enough, Ralph looks 99% identical to Zechs Merquise, the biggest difference being a large scar over one eye.
- The Five Star Stories: Vralgo "Testarossa" Kentauri is definitely a Char, even wearing a mask (and a fake beard, of all things) while posing as the mercenary knight "Boowray Red". Unlike most Char clones, he only lasts a single story arc before his final battle with his own arch-rival, King Colus, comes to a mutually fatal conclusion similar to the original's. Interestingly his and Colus' descendants become allies in a later story arc.
- Zoids has a few:
- Zoids New Century has Naomi Flugel, who pilots an Ace Custom red Gunsniper, and is even called the Red Comet in-universe. Her Leitmotif is even titled "Here Comes the Red Comet!", a reference to the original Char's theme song, "Here Comes Char!".
- Zoids Genesis: Zairin of Zaltz is quite the Zoid prodigy. He seems to be quite a familiar character, no?
- Berserk: Griffith in the Golden Age arc. He's the Big Bad, wears a cool silver helmet, has white hair, is an ace swordsman and The Rival to Guts, and acts as both the Dark Messiah and the Fallen Hero.
- Also from the Golden Age arc, we have Samson Corbowitz, who is specifically mentioned to have armour three times THICKER than normal and is a (very brief) antagonist to Guts and Caska.
- Infinite Stratos: Charlotte Dunois pilots an orange coloured mass produced IS under the disguise of a guy as Charles. Not the main girl, but certainly the most popular, though later she gets the nickname "Char" from the main character, making her not just a Char clone but a CHAR! Also an expy of Kyousuke and his Alt Eisen which is also a Char machine.
- For a series that isn't about Humongous Mecha, Yakitate!! Japan has "Meister" Kirisaki, a blond mask-wearing Ace Baker whose sister is a member of the supporting cast. He also plays a Zeta-style role as Azuma's mentor. The connection then progressed to Hilarious in Hindsight territory when the anime version was eventually picked up by Sunrise.
- Anyone watching Ozma will see a particularly familiar figure. Gido Gairaa is an aloof villain-like character with a white mask who can be summed up as the bastard child of Harlock and Char Aznable.
- Hiro from Beyblade is a Char clone: he wore a mask at the start and switched to shades by the end; he played The Mentor to the protagonist (who is his little brother) and later to Brooklyn; his bit-beast Metal Driger is basically an Ace Custom of the original Driger.
- Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations and Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations Vol. 2: Samus, as usual. In vol. 2, she serves as the Big Good and mentor to the likes of Ex-Aid and his contemporaries.
- Vol. 3: Fates Intertwined have a Yin-Yang Brother-Sister Team in the form of Goro Izumi/Kamen Rider G7 Icarus XYZ (black) and Anzu Izumi/Kamen Rider G7 Type-S (white), they are called "Black Wings" and "Iron Spider", respectively. Goro serves as the friendly rival to Sento Kiryu/Kamen Rider Build, and like the latter is an Insufferable Genius to a fault while he transforms into his Ace Customized Rider form. Anzu, on the other hand, started out as a mysterious masked ninja working with a clan of alien demons, until Goro himself finds out that her identity is actually his long-lost sister. She also follows the trend of white-colored Riders with a relation to the protagonists' friends, in Anzu's case, she is the older sister of the main character himself, no less.
Live Action TV
- Kamen Rider Gaim has Kaito Kumon/Kamen Rider Baron, whose Rider form is mainly red, a rival to The Hero who often switches sides before eventually becoming the final threat to the hero faces at the very end.
- Basco ta Jolokia of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is of the Rau Le Crueset variety and with some aspects of Ali Al-Saachez. Channels Char's characteristics as opposed to Marvelous's Amuro? Check. Working with the badguys? Double check. Has a red monster form? Definitely that's a check!
South Korean Animation
- Space Thunder Kids' Space Black Knight is Char Aznable in a black costume. In fact, most the cast are recoloured Gundam characters.
- The Gundam spin-off RPG MS Saga introduces Captain Hal Vizardt. He hits all the Char high notes: blonde, masked, ace pilot, acts as a mentor to The Hero, pilots red MS (for extra points, he specifically pilots Char's), and is secretly the older brother of another party member in disguise.
- Mega Man: It wouldn't be much of a stretch at all to assume Proto Man was a Char.
- Mega Man X: According to Inafune, Zero was inspired by Char.
- Metroid's Samus Aran also qualifies. She has blonde hair, a Cool Helmet that obscures her identity, she's an ace pilot who pilots a yellow space ship, and her power suit even has red accents. As of Metroid Fusion, she has become a fugitive in the eyes of the Galactic Federation, synonymous to Char becoming a Fallen Hero.
- Street Fighter: He's not the Char-iest, but Ken Masters definitely qualifies; Yoshiki Okamoto has stated Ryu's opposite was purposely given a Char look.
- Super Robot Wars: The irony being that since the series is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover, you will often find several Char clones alongside Char himself in the same game!
- Particularly of note is Elzam V. Branstein: his mecha all follow the black-and-red color scheme and are ridiculously fast (so much so that his insane evasion skills make him an excellent tank), and takes to wearing a pair of sunglasses to take a secret identity (which nobody actually falls for). He even shares a voice actor with Gundam's Harry Ord. Which comes full circle with a Shout-Out, "Ratsel, he is an ORD."
- Done again with Sleigh Presty, who pilots a high-speed red mech and gains the nickname of the "Scarlet Comet". The characters were actually going to call her something starting with "Re-", but one of them breaks the fourth wall to stop them, saying they'll be sued. And once again, you can have her face off against the real "Red Comet" in her debut game.
- Tech Romancer: Shadow Red is based on Char, to the point of being voiced by Shuichi Ikeda.
- Xenogears: Bart is pretty Char-y. He's a exiled nobleman's son, and pilots a red Ace Custom mecha, though he substitutes an Eyepatch of Power for Cool Shades. Unlike most Char clones, though, he's not exactly a powerhouse in combat.
- Fire Emblem: From the first and third game, and their respective remakes: Camus is a blond-haired, high-skill, anti-villain. In the the third game, Sirius, a masked, blond-haired, high-skill hero who you have totally never met before joins your party. Sounds familiar?
- Blaz Blue: Relius Clover fights with a red robot who is really Carl Clover's mother, wears a mask that resembles Phantom of the Opera, is blonde, is The Rival to his son, Carl, is co-Dragon to the Imperator Librarius (alongside Hazama/Terumi). Yep. Relius is definitely a Char.
- Mother 3: The masked man is a dead ringer for Char.
- Regulus from Bomberman 64 and its sequel is The Rival to the titular hero, uses a fake name and is an Enigmatic Minion in the sequel even killing one of his own allies and going against the Big Bad!, and is always seen wearing his Cool Mask.
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam series features several Char clones, as well as Char himself. The original, if memory serves, only has Char and Milliardo. The Sequel adds more of Char himself and adds Athrun. #3 adds Full Frontal and Shwartz Bruder to the player's options, and features Milliardo and Char fighting on the same side. Mr. Bushido is available as DLC.
- Lampshaded by Duo Maxwell in the third game upon meeting Full Frontal.
How many people with goofy masks could there possibly be?
- Yasha from Asura's Wrath has a bit of this going for him, with a cool personality, a mask of sorts and overall has more speed, skill and precision based combat to be a counterpart for Asura's raw power and strength. The color scheme is blue instead of red, to compliment him being the Blue Oni to Asura's Red Oni.
- Plus, Durga, Asura's (dead)wife, is his sister. Making him Asura's brother-in-law.
- Gai, the Big Bad of Bangai-O, has a few of these traits. He pilots a robot similar to the title one (with red wings added onto it, for good measure), not only sharing the same abilities, but also able to activate temporary invincibility at will. He is also somewhat calmer than Riki. On top of all that, the ending reveals Gai to be the long-lost brother of Ban, Riki's father. Which makes him Riki's uncle!
- Doujin game Super Cosplay War Ultra has Masa, who cosplays as the Red Comet and uses Char's voice clips (his theme song is also Char's theme from one of the Super Robot Wars games.) He also fits the Ace Custom trope by being a more powerful version of one of the standard Mook types that cosplay as Zakus (the mobile suit type from which the Red Comet was derived from.)
- Megas XLR: Evil Coop from the show's series finale. His Mecha #14 had a strong resemblance to Char's Sazabi, while his army resemble Zakus (and of course, as Coop, he's blonde).
- Matt Trakker, the lead hero of MASK, is blonde, wears a mask, and drives a red transforming vehicle.