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"Was he the real Aoi or just a clone?"

"He was a man."
Phoenix: Life.

Clones have often gotten the short end of the stick in Sci Fi. When they're not soulless abominations or evil dopplegangers, they tend to be seen as just back-up copies of the original and nothing more.

Except when this trope kicks in. After all, Nature creates genetic copies of people all the time. They're called identical twins; and as people in Real Life can easily tell you; they are very much individuals.

This trope is when a Clone is permitted to be their own person and live their own life, essentially becoming a character independent from the original. They may grapple with Cloning Blues now and then, or they may recognize that their personality is sufficiently unique for them to think of themselves as---well, themselves. This is more difficult if they started life with the copied memories of the original. Often, they become a recurring or supporting character. If the original is dead, it's likely the clone takes over the original's role. Of interesting note is that, due to the nature of the brain, even if the clone was meant to be a backup copy, it still is a completely separate being, both in body a consciousness.

Expect the Zombie Advocate to make their case. See also Just a Machine.

Contrast Expendable Clone.

Examples of Clones Are People, Too include:


  • In Afterschool Charisma , clones may be treated as backup copies, but Shiro (and Mr. Kuroe) sees them as this.
  • Phoenix 'Life' deals strongly with this idea when the main character, a selfish TV executive, is cloned and sent to be slaughtered for sport with his many copies.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, this is generally the prevalent attitude regarding all the clone characters. Precia Testarossa is about the only character who doesn't share this perspective, and even then, the reason she hated Fate is because she wasn't the same person as the girl she was cloned from, and Precia wanted a Replacement Goldfish.
  • A major plot point in To Aru Majutsu no Index involves the main characters convincing Mikoto's clones of this. Later portrayals flip flop a little on this, however, so while they're still considered distinct from Mikoto they're all treated as though they were a single entity with lots of bodies.
  • The Bioroids in Appleseed are genetically enhanced clones, and the fact that they have the same rights as any other people is a major plot point. Furthermore, thanks to their emotional restrictions they play a vital part in ensuring the world peace after two destructive world wars.
  • Gundam SEED Destiny: Kira Yamato goes out of his way to convince Rey Za Burrel, the clone of the previous Big Bad, that he does not have to repeat his "brother's" mistakes. It eventually gets through to him.
  • Glemmy Toto of Gundam ZZ may have Gihren Zabi's DNA, and is almost as manipulative and evil as his donor, but the similarities end there. While Gihren was a humourless, ugly cold-blooded Adolf Hitler stand-in, Glemmy is a smooth talking pretty boy charmer, with a quirky sense of humour. (Word of God all but shouts that Glemmy is NOT a clone, however, but Gihren's actual Bastard Bastard)


  • Superboy (Conner Kent) in the comics and the animated series Young Justice.
    • Of course, in the comics he turns out to be cloned from Superman and Lex Luthor, so he's not an exact copy of anyone. The animated Superboy is a clone of only Superman, playing this trope straight.
      • Actually, it's revealed in the episode "Agendas" that the animated Superboy is a hybrid clone of Superman and Lex Luthor like in the comics.
    • Young Justice Superboy was created to replace Superman if he died or kill him if he turned evil (at least, according to the people of dubious ethics at Cadmus who grew him in the first place) and doesn't have his memories, but the teen really looks up to him at first, which makes Superman's rejection of "parental responsibilities" a big disappointment.
  • Bizarro. He even has his own planet.
  • In PS238, Tyler is eventually cloned: The clone is an Empty Shell, however, with a remote control in place of a brain to let the original control it. The clone eventually, through some odd set of coincidences, gains a mind and sentience of its own, takes on the name "Toby", is legally accepted into the original's family as his brother, and becomes a character in his own right. Furthermore, Toby is revealed to have superpowers -- something Tyler still hasn't got (and probably never will), leading to a brief stint of Tyler becoming afraid that his parents will accept Toby as their "real son" and disown Tyler (which turns out to be completely unfounded).
  • Metamorpho's clone Shift tries to live his own life as a member of the Outsiders, with the original Metamorpho's blessing. But when his android girlfriend gets corrupted by pre-existing evil programming, betrays the team, and dies, Shift says he can't bear to live any more and begs Metaporpho to reabsorb him, which he reluctantly does.
  • The Vision is a mental clone of Wonder Man (even though, in practice, the two have never actually behaved very much alike), and his entire character arc has revolved around his attempts to live his own life. His lot in life has varied a lot over the years Depending on the Writer. Some writers give him a fair shake, but others seem to just inexplicably hate the poor guy.
  • At the end of the Spider-Man Clone Saga, Peter and Ben have pretty well reconciled themselves to their situation and decided to consider each other brothers. Then Ben melts.
    • Peter's other clone, Kaine, seems to have taken this route.
  • The X-Men had Madelyne Pryor, the clone of Jean Grey, who unfortunately became evil due to psycho-emotional baggage involving this trope: she was created by Evilutionary Biologist Mr. Sinister to replace Jean Grey in order to continue the propagation of the Summers-Grey mixed bloodline), and was callously abandoned by her husband, Scott Summers, when Jean literally returned from the dead. There's also Joseph, the Raise Him Right This Time clone of Well-Intentioned Extremist Magneto, who was secretly created as part of an Xanatos Gambit to Take Over the World by a former Fan Girl of Magneto (and who was thought by everyone to be a de-aged and amnesiac Magneto[1] until the original was revealed to be alive), who made a Heroic Sacrifice Saving the World the world from Magneto.
  • Namorita of the New Warriors is the clone of Namora, Sub-Mariner's seldom-seen cousin, a Distaff Counterpart who failed to catch on. Namorita is a much more of a major character, appearing continually whereas Namora sometimes goes decades without having her existence acknowledged. Until recently anyway. Namorita has died and now Namora appears more frequently. Basically, Namora couldn't have children, so she had her science folks implant her with an embryo made entirely from herself. The plot has always treated her like more of a daughter, though her clone status has been discovered and caused trouble at times.
  • Gold Digger has two examples:
    • Brianna as a composite clone of Gina and Britanny who was produced in a lab accident. She was quickly adopted into the family, and although she suffered a (perfectly understandable) lengthy identity crisis, she is now very much her own person.
    • The genie Madrid, an old enemy of Gina's, once shapeshifted into Gina's form and got stuck that way. Unable to change back, she found Gina's copied personality slowly encroaching on her own. Later, after another scheme failed spectacularly, she suffered a terrible Villainous Breakdown and her evil half effectively lost the will to live, so the duplicate Gina personality (with Madrid's memories) has been dominant ever since. After some initial misgivings, Gina has decided she can trust her, and the two have become friends.
  • This trope is the whole point of Heart Breakers by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. Most of the cast are clones of Theresa Sorenson, who died midway through the series. The two main characters, Delta and Queenie, have radically different personalities. They live in a world where clones have to struggle for legal rights.

Fan Works

  • The Pony POV Series, has Fluttercruel, who was the being Discord created when he couldn't break Fluttershy and considers herself Fluttershy's clone, even though the two are Sharing a Body. Despite looking identical to Fluttershy except for darker fur and lacking a Cutie Mark (though she eventually earns a different Cutie Mark), she has a completely different personality (the audio adaptation's illustrations added Cute Little Fangs and slightly Hellish Pupils as well). Despite this, she personally believes she's just a copy and has an identity crisis due to that fact. However, Fluttershy believes Fluttercruel is no less a pony than herself, and both refer to Fluttershy as her mother. Fluttercruel eventually comes to accept it and it's revealed she has her own soul separate from Fluttershy's. It's also stated there's a possibility that Fluttershy is the clone created by Twilight's memory spell and Fluttercruel is simply the original Mind Raped so completely that she's changed completely, or that the real Fluttershy was killed by Discord and both are clones. Despite this, neither really cares, as they're still separate beings altogether.


  • Both this and Expendable Clone are explored in The 6th Day.
  • Blade Runner
  • Clonus
  • The Island
  • The clones in Multiplicity are created to be work horses and take on the burdens the hero doesn't want. In the end, they leave to have their own lives (the three clones decide to stay together, but all have VERY distinct personalities).
  • In the recent Star Trek reboot movie, old Spock engineers things to ensure that his alternate self will live a drastically different life than he did.


  • Most clones in the Vorkosigan Saga world, where a clone is considered to be the child or sibling of person whose DNA it was made from, or the child of the person who commissioned the clone, depending on the planet and its laws. Mark Vorkosigan (Miles's clone) is an example of this, as he is considered Miles's brother and is treated as a completely different person. Clones as expendable property still exist on the lawless Jackson's Whole, though.
  • This is the whole point of the Star Wars Republic Commando Series by Karen Traviss.
    • Earlier, it was a subplot in the Hand of Thrawn duology. A group of Imperial agents are all clones of Baron Soontir Fel, ace pilot, but they simply want to live out a normal life as farmers.
  • The House of the Scorpion is big on this trope, although most characters in it aren't. It helps that the main character himself is a clone, with a noticeably different personality from his creator.
  • This is taken Up to Eleven in Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief: the Founder copyclans rule over most of the inner Solar System. Anyone who isn't a Founder copy is a second class citizen at best, and a sentient missile guidance system at worst.
  • Cloning is commonplace in Sergey Lukyanenko's Genome, and clones have all the same rights as normal people. In fact, highly-skilled people are often cloned multiple times in order to preserve their genetics. Clones often take the name of the original but add a middle name that consists of "C" (for "clone") and an ordinal number. For example, Peter C-forty-fourth Valk is the 44th clone of Peter Valk. While not outright mentioned, it can be assumed that the problems of Clone Degeneration have been solved, given that the main theme of the novel is that Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke.

Live Action TV

  • Stargate SG-1:
    • O'Neill's 12 year-old clone (who disturbingly does have his memories) is given the right to live his own life (paid for by the US airforce no less). The (commented-on) difference between them as individuals comes at the end of the episode, when Young O'Neill choses to go "back" to high school and do better this time, which Colonel O'Neill doesn't see the appeal of. Before that, they are pretty much exactly alike (which makes sense, as we are initially led to believe the colonel has been de-aged).
    • Somewhat zigzagged with SG-1's robot clones, who are given the right to live and all... so long as they remain on their planet. The real SG-1 gets annoyed when their copies don't do this. Robot!O'Neill points out that they should have known they themselves would never have accepted such conditions. However, the duplicates get killed in action in their second appearance despite proving themselves "real" to the team.
    • Similarly, in Stargate Atlantis, the robots of the Atlantis team (via different means) are proven to be equals and real people to the team but still treated as redshirts by the plot. It's kinda glaring whenever this happens - they've got all the skills that let the 'real' team survive hundreds of these scrapes and worse - plus they're made of much sturdier stuff than human flesh (the Atlantis versions even have a Healing Factor!)
    • Stargate Atlantis: Dr Beckett's clone is welcomed by the team and treated immediately as an equal. It helps that the real Carson is dead so the clone is just filling the old one's position. This is the first to get the same Plot Armor the original enjoyed as well - apparently, so long as one is left, it doesn't matter which one.
    • In fact, Rodney goes out of it's way to make sure it's the case. When the clone suggests he joins a rescue mission, Rodney is the only one that refused, concerned that the others accepted "because he's a clone and they see him as expendable."
  • In Star Trek the Next Generation, Thomas Riker, a clone of William Riker thanks to Teleporter Accident, is welcomed as a full member of Starfleet (though he later joins the Maquis).
    • Another Star Trek example, from Star Trek Deep Space Nine: in the episode where someone tried to frame Odo for murder, he did so by cloning himself, then disguising himself and killing the clone. When he's eventually found out, he is told "killing your own clone is still murder."
      • In the same episode, the heroes accidentally create another clone and he is said to be welcomed into Bajoran society as a regular member (and hopefully will lead a better life than the original).
      • Someone really should have told Riker and Pulaski this, given that they massacred a bunch of clones in "Up the Long Ladder". Granted, they were created from stolen DNA, but still...
  • Alexander Luthor is considered his own person in Smallville, and not just a clone of Lex. Tess even raises him a her own son in an attempt to keep him from turning out like his progenitor. Eventually we find out that half of his DNA comes from Clark and he changes his name to Conner Kent, becoming like Clark's little brother. As per the "no tights, no flights" rule, we never hear the name "Superboy."
  • Farscape: One of the episodes has the cast "doubled" for the nefarious purposes of a villain of weird tastes, who repeatedly states that this is not cloning, but perfect duplication- or as he liked to call it, "twinning". The protagonist, Crichton's, copy survives the episode, becoming a full-on crew member and participating in a Love Triangle with "himself" over their Love Interest, Aeryn. When she made a choice (somewhat forced by the situation at hand), Cloning Blues set in for the other guy.

 "I hope he's having a good time-- No, wait, I hope he's having a TERRIBLE time. I just hope he treats her well."

    • There's a reason for the villain's Insistent Terminology. The twinning process appears to distill some of the original's essence into each double - and neither is the original. People the villain had done it to over and over again, producing a horde of duplicates, had been reduced to (a horde of) savages.
    • Eventually one Crichton gets killed, but not before conceiving a child with Aeryn, who will go on to raise the baby with the other Crichton.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: At the end of the late season 2 two-parter Return Of The Green Ranger, Tom (the formerly evil clone of Tommy) stays in colonial Angel Grove to live out his life. And possibly becomes Tommy's ancestor.
  • Sliders: An episode late in the series revolves around this trope, on an alternate Earth where clones of wealthy individuals are grown and kept like animals for the purpose of organ transplants and blood transfusions. Naturally, one of the protagonists gets mistaken for his alternate's clone.
  • The Blakes Seven episode "The Children of Auron", which features a society that practices large-scale cloning, is probably the most casual and realistic treatment of it in any Space Opera. Cally and her sister Zelda are depicted just like real-world natural twins, as independent individuals with their own personalities and motivations who just happen to look identical.
    • The episode does, however, depict one hard-SF big disadvantage of large-scale cloning: lack of genetic variation leading to lack of disease resistance and vulnerability to epidemics.
  • The X5 clones in Dark Angel are never treated as anything other than identical twins who shared a test-tube instead of a womb. It helps that they do not share memories and the age difference between them is the same as normal "older" and "younger" twins.
    • The examples we see are Jessica Alba as the main protagonist Max/X5-452 and Sam/X5-453 (a Season 2 one-shot character), and Jensen Ackles as Ben/X5-493 (a Season 1 one-shot character) and Alec/X5-494 (a regular cast member in Season 2).
    • At least some of the X-7 series are clones of the X-5s (we see Max's and Zack/599's mini-mes) and are certainly different from their grown-up originals, but in the sense of being 10 year-old hive-minded soulless killers.
  • The humanoid-model Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined) vary on this. Numbers One, Two, Three, Four and Five don't get distinguishing characteristics from others of their own model, but Numbers Six and Eight (Seven is extinct) have unique individuals like Caprica-Six, Shelly Godfrey, Tough Six, Gina Inviere, Natalie Faust, Lida and Sonja (Sixes) and Boomer, Athena, "Fakeathena" and Sweet Eight (Eights) in addition to the generic Sixes and Eights.
    • They also vary on the memory-sharing factor. Athena downloaded Boomer's up to the point of the Miniseries and "Fakeathena" downloaded Athena's up to the point of "Rapture", but they don't do this automatically and (according to the producers) models vary on how often they do it. Even sharing a good chuck of memories didn't stop Boomer and Athena from developing in radically different directions.

Web Comics

  • Ellen, Elliot's Opposite Sex Clone in El Goonish Shive, is quickly accepted by Elliot and his family and now lives as Elliot's twin sister. Due to her brief case of Cloning Blues, she has also developed a distinct personality from the original.
  • Molly the Peanut Butter Monster in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob has two clones with very different personalities who are both off living their own lives: megalomaniacal woobie Galatea (or "Golly") and the mountain-sized giantess, Djaliana ("Djali" or "Jolly").
  • In Bomango by Rob Ten Pas, Gogo can reproduce by budding, having sprouted Didi out of her side (which she did on a caprice because she was bored one day). Didi is as sweet, gentle, and intellectual as Gogo is loud, brash, and dangerous. It's notable that, since they split, Didi's physique has become noticeably more slender than Gogo's muscular frame, because Gogo gets a lot more exercise. Didi also has no navel. Strong hints have been dropped that Gogo has other clones running around, and that they are not nice people at all. The names Gogo and Didi, btw, are a Shout-Out to "Waiting for Godot."
  • In Melonpool, Ralph's opposite-personality nice clone Ralphie has been a series regular since his introduction many years ago. Ralph also (until recently) had an evil clone named Fauntleroy.
    • Averted when Roberta was cloned, as the machine had been fixed by then, so the two were completely indistinguishable (much to their own frustration). They were eventually fused back together.

Western Animation

  • In the pilot of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, despite the fact that the clones were created as Expendable Clones, Yoda takes this attitude, telling the clones with him, "Smaller in number are we, but larger in mind."
    • Other episodes have looked into this as well - Captain Rex and Commander Cody are treated as unique characters with different personalities, one deserter has a life outside the war, yet another betrayed the Republic out of resentment towards the clones' status, and so on.
    • One time saw Rex telling off General Krell about treating his men as expendable and that not only did he have a duty to follow orders, but also to see them through.
    • "The Hidden Enemy": The Mole is a clone who realized the Clone Army was basically slavery.
  • In Re Boot the copy of Enzo is encouraged to be a different person than the original Enzo. Given what happened to the original, this is a good idea.
    • Bob's friends (including the copy of Enzo) attempt to cheer him up by citing this trope when he's led to believe that he's a copy of another Bob that shows up in Mainframe. Subverted when they find out that the other Bob is actually a trojan horse with stolen bits of Bob's code.
  • In Gargoyles, Thailog is a clone of Goliath, and is treated as Goliath's son, rather than a copy. Unfortunately he was programmed with the personality of Xanatos, and was raised by Sevarius (which pretty well eliminated any positive aspects of Xanatos' personality from Thailog), and ended up becoming a villain.

Video Games

  • In Parasite Eve 2, Aya Brea finds out that an evil cult has made a clone of her in order to take advantage of her powers. After rescuing the girl, she adopts her as a daughter/sister.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, this trope is a major part of the character arc of Luke once he realizes and accepts he's a replica of Asch. Eventually, this leads up to the climax where it's implied Luke either gave his own life to resurrect Asch, Asch did vice versa, or in some other way the two fused. The Stinger is tight-lipped as to which one can be seen at the end.


  1. This perception was reinforced by Joseph having periodic flashes of the real Magneto's memories.
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