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So the protagonist is forced to part with a love interest for supernatural reasons. But it's okay! Because at the end of the story they meet a person from the real world who happens to look exactly like the person they lost. Usually it's never explained why this person looks exactly the same, but it's a quick way to turn a Bittersweet Ending into a Happy Ending.
If time travel is involved, the love interest in the present is often an Identical Grandson or grandfather, which also makes for some incestuous implications if you assume they get married and have babies.
Anime & Manga
- In Gantz, this is subverted with Kurono and Kishimoto. When Kishimoto died during a mission, Kurono thought to try and pursue her clone that was still living a normal life. However, she ends up thinking Kurono is a nutty stalker and runs away from him.
- However, this trope is followed in relation to Kato and Kishimoto. It's implied that Kato has finally decided to get together with Kishimoto's clone, and she seems to have taken a liking to him.
- And the manga does this to a T with Reika's very own Kurono.
- Actually not because he is the same person. Just there are two of him now.
- In Threads of Time, this is what happens to Moon-Bin at the end. Although he isn't able to end up with Atan Hadas from the past, when he goes back into present time, it's implied that he ends up with a girl (that always liked him) who is identical to Atan Hadas.
- In Cross Game, the characters meet Akane who happens to look exactly like Wakaba, Kou's dead love interest and the Tsukushima family's daughter. Subverted in that Kou and Akane don't end up together, and the main characters theorize (somewhat bizarrely) that Akane was sent by Wakaba to let them know that it's okay to move on. Yeah, whatever lets you sleep at night, bub.
- Subverted in the Black Cat anime, where, for an episode, Train meets a girl who is physically identical to Saya. The thing is, he never really shows much romantic interest towards her, and ends up leaving and forgetting about her. Which certainly contributes to the idea of his character -- that he loved Saya's carefree way of life, not that he romantically loved her. Therefore, since the girl had a completely different way of life and occupation, he certainly wouldn't be all that interested in her.
- Trigun is an excellent, if subtle, example. The Technical Pacifist protagonist Vash the Stampede refuses to kill anyone because of the teachings of his mother-figure-- even though his brother killed her and some (millions of) colonists on their arrival on the world over one hundred years ago and both villains and protagonists point out how unreasonable he is on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. The catch is that one of the two insurance girls following him throughout the series (similarly an idealist and Vash's love interest) in an act of If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him is superimposed with the image of said dead mother figure. Of course, she looks exactly the same, just with much, much, shorter hair (for fans who are half-blind).
- Squick, perhaps, but then again everyone supposedly likes traits from their opposite sex parent. Less disturbing, however, if you subscribe the common fan hypothesis that the mother figure was actually reincarnated as a reoccurring comical black cat.
- Toyed with a bit, and subverted in Full Metal Panic during The Second Raid. Sousuke is separated from Kaname by Mithril, and goes into his huge Heroic BSOD. He ends up meeting a Chinese prostitute who looks exactly like Kaname, and decides to hire her to chat with him. The subversion comes in that, as soon as she starts making advances on him and attempts to kiss him, he completely freaks out and runs away.
- Fist of the North Star played around this trope when Mamiya was first introduced, whose resemblance to Yuria (Kenshiro's supposedly dead fiancee) was the first thing he noticed about her. Subverted in that even though Mamiya is in love with Kenshiro at first, his feelings are not mutual. Also, Yuria is later revealed to be Not Quite Dead yet.
- Non-romantic example, in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist after Ed is trapped in our world on the other side of the gate, he befriends a boy named Alfons who is this world's counterpart to his brother Alphonse in his world.
- Also, probably, a non-romantic one. He befriends Noah, who is probably Rose's counterpart.
- Another one from the Bleach movie, Memories of Nobody: After Senna sacrifices herself, Ichigo sees a girl who looks and sounds just like her run past on the bridge.
- In Inuyasha, the situation between Inuyasha, Kikyo, and Kagome is a reconstruction/zigzag of the trope. After Kikyo's death, Inuyasha is struck by the similarity between Kikyo and Kagome (justified by the fact that Kagome is Kikyo's reincarnation). Reconstructed in that Kagome very much has to deal with the fact that Inuyasha may see her as Kikyo's replacement, zigzagged in that Kikyo comes Back From the Dead and then, well. . . .
- Toyed with in MAR with Koyuki being Ginta's love interest from the real world, and he ends up having fallen for Snow, her exact counterpart in the fantasy world. In the end, he decides to return to the real world and, in the anime, starts dating Koyuki, who Snow's spirit has joined with.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, Hotohori marries Houki, a woman from his harem that looks just like a female version of Nuriko. Also, Houki herself had once been in a relationship with a man that looked just like Hotohori later revealed to be his long-lost older brother
- In the X-Men comics, after Jean Grey "died" in The Dark Phoenix Saga, her boyfriend, Scott Summers, met and married Maddie Pryor, a girl who looked just like her. Of course, it's not a straight example because 1) Maddie turned out to be a clone of Jean created by an enemy, and 2) Jean wasn't really dead and later came back to marry Scott.
- It would've been a closer example, had the original plan -- that Maddie was the reincarnated Jean -- not been scrapped.
- In The Incal, John Difool meets, falls in love and loses a beautiful "Aristro" (she goes off with another guy.) Later he meets Animah, who exactly resembles her. (Strangely, given the metaphysical manipulation that occur in reference to John, this seems to have happened by accident.
- In Countdown to Final Crisis The Atom Ray Palmer ended up in a parallel universe where his counterpart had just died. He tried to make a new life for himself there and got together with the counterpart of his insane ex-wife Jean Loring. Amazingly enough, things were actually going pretty well -- but since this is Countdown, which was described on this wiki as DC's love letter to Kill'Em All, it didn't last.
- In RASL, the protagonist's girlfriend is killed and then he finds himself in a parallel universe where she's still alive -- and so is his longer-dead wife. This being RASL, this only makes his troubles more complicated.
- At the end of Code Geass Mao of the Deliverance, C.C. takes Mao to C's World while he is unconscious and leaves him there with the mental version of herself so he can be happy. Mao's reaction, however, is a subversion as he, while grateful for the gesture, is ultimately NOT satisfied and determined to get back.
- In the infamous fanfic "My Immortal," when Draco is kidnapped by Voldemort, Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way mentions how Vampire looks exactly like Draco....before screwing him...in front of the class.
- Which is even more ridiculous when you remember that "Vampire" is supposed to be Harry and he doesn't look like Draco.
- In Susie Q, Zach falls for Susie, a ghost who needs to settle her family's unresolved affairs before moving on to the afterlife. With the help of Zach, she succeeds and moves on to the afterlife and is reunited with grandfather and boyfriend. The next day at school, Zach runs into a new student named Maggie (played by the same actress). It's strongly implied that she's Susie's reincarnation, sans Susie's memories. The situation prompts Zack to give a baffled glance to the camera
- Xanadu has the protagonist parting with a muse played by Olivia Newton John, only to meet an identical waitress at the end.
- Or the waitress actually is said muse, trying for a version of the relationship her family can at least pretend they don't know about. Some of her parents' remarks leave it a bit ambiguous.
- A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (1949). Bing Crosby's character meets and falls in love with Alisande La Carteloise ("Sandy") in King Arthur's time. When he returns to the present, he meets a woman who looks just like her.
- Likewise, Black Knight has Martin Lawrence meeting a modern ringer for the love interest he left behind in the past.
- The same thing basically happens in A Kid in King Arthur's Court, though the girl actually seems to recognize him there, so who knows what's up with that.
- It's implied that this was Merlin's doing. The novelization of the film plays the trope straight, with his teammate being merely a lookalike with the same name.
- Done in Bedazzled, even though his dream girl is actually a normal person who was already taken, he still ends up with her exact double.
- Except his co-worker is blonde while his new neighbor is a brunette.
- Some onscreen adaptions of The Nutcracker end like this, with toymaker's nephew looking exactly like the eponymous prince (Note, in the original story they are actually the same person.)
- In The Forbidden Kingdom, the protagonist's love interest dies in her attempt to assassinate the villain, but in the ending, he meets an identical girl in the present.
- Meet Joe Black seriously inverts this trope. At the very beginning of the movie, Death takes on the aspect of a man who gets hit by a truck just after the female lead falls madly in love with him. Death then proceeds to fall in love with her, and at the end of the movie when he must leave to get back to work, he resurrects the real Love Interest to take his place.
- At the end of Mirror Mask, Helena runs into someone who looks exactly like Valentine in the And You Were There ending.
- At the end of Night at the Museum -- Battle of the Smithsonian, where Larry happens to meet a young woman who looks exactly like Amelia Earhart, and also has a poor sense of direction.
- In the film The One, Jet Li fights his Evil Twin from an alternate dimension. Evil Jet kills Good Jet's wife, frames him, and tries to kill him to become a god. After much chop-sockey, good Jet Li ends up in a version of Los Angeles where the original copy of him has long since been killed off and meets a version of his former wife exactly as he did in his world.
- This was the plan by Jason Statham's character, who knew that sending him back to his own universe would result in him being put away for his wife's murder.
- Rather brutally subverted at the end of The Purple Rose of Cairo.
- Sort of used in Dark City -- Emma Murdoch gets all her memories erased and she becomes Anna, and John Murdoch decides to start over with her. Justified, since their relationship beforehand was fake--Emma's memories of the marriage were no more real than Anna's past, and John had already lost his fake memories. So this replacement relationship is more real than the original one.
- Subverted at the end of Date With An Angel; Jim is stunned when he meets a nurse who is a dead ringer for the angel he's been caring for the entire movie -- and then she reveals that she is the angel, she's now on indefinite leave to be with him and has left her wings at home. (And has traded in her bird call speech for inexplicably French-accented English.)
- She was played by French actress Emmanuelle Beart. Mystery solved.
- Black Knight plays this completely straight.
- Given a dark twist in Vertigo.
- In Beerfest during a series of events Landfill is killed, he is eventually replaced by his brother who happens to look exactly like him and his wife ends up marrying him and subsequently forgets about the original.
- In one of the post-credits scenes of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin finds Felicity with another man - his 10 minute-younger duplicate from the moon.
Austin from 10 minutes ago: Technically it's not cheating, baby.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension begins with this situation. Buckaroo's lover had already died at the hands of some supervillain and her twin sister, Separated at Birth, appears for the sake of the story.
- In the 1984 film of A Christmas Carol, the man Belle ended up marrying after leaving Scrooge looks just like his past self, possibly played by the same actor.
- The novel Riding Shotgun by Rita Mae Brown.
- Disturbingly handled in the Scorpion Shards trilogy by Neal Shusterman. The titular "Shards," pieces of a Starfish Character, can only truly love each other. Dillon, the leader of the group, attempts to start a relationship with an outsider, but is haunted by memories of a female Shard who died in the first book. The solution is best summed up by the tropes involved: Death Is Cheap for the female Shard, Death of the Hypotenuse combined with Deader Than Dead and Heroic Sacrifice for the outsider, and Freaky Friday plus That (Wo)man Is Dead just to up the weirdness.
- The Redwall novel Martin the Warrior has an odd case of this. In the end, it's revealed that the traveler narrating the story is a dead ringer for Rose, Martin's love interest who was killed by the Big Bad in the final battle. The catch? The two will never meet, as Martin lived and died many generations before the traveler told the story.
- In the Last Herald-Mage trilogy of the Heralds of Valdemar series, The Hero Vanyel loses his first Love Interest, Tylendel, in a truly epic tragedy that starts him on the path to becoming the most powerful Herald-Mage in the history of the kingdom. Seventeen years later, he finds a new love interest, Stefan, who is physically dissimilar, but still bears an uncanny psychic resemblance to Tylendel, up to and including forming a lifebond with Van. It turns out that 'Lendel was reincarnated as Stefan, though most of the main characters are ignorant of this until close to the end of the story.
- John Perry from Old Mans War is very upset by his wife's death. Near the end of the book he meets a special forces soldier who has a body cloned from his his wife's DNA, who looks exactly like her. They end up together.
- In Heir Apparent, the protagonist is trapped in a virtual reality game and ends up developing a bit of a crush on one of the characters. For obvious reasons, they can't exactly be together once she's escaped the game. Luckily he looks just like the game's Teen Genius creator, who shows up to apologize to the heroine personally and seems flattered that she liked the character based on him...
- In both the novel and subsequent TV movie Tek War, Jake Cardigan falls in love with an android built in the image of Beth Kittridge. The android dies in a Heroic Sacrifice. Then Jake meets the real Beth.
- In The Vampire Diaries, Stefan initially fell for Elena because she looked just like his long-dead love interest, Katherine.
- In Andrew M. Greeley's Angel Fire, Sean Desmond meets an Irish woman who is a dead ringer for Gabriella, the angel who has shepherded him through the entire book, after she leaves for good. It's implied that Gabriella knew of this coming meeting and used the woman's appearance in order to prime Sean for a relationship with her.
- Inverted in Solaris--a Doppelganger is created to remind the protagonist of a love interest he failed to save, and he eventually falls in love with her. This is not a case of Replacement Goldfish, as he remains well aware that the copy isn't the same person as the original. It still ends rather badly, though.
- In Stephenie Meyer's The Host, one human has his girlfriend taken over by a Soul. The free humans then remove the Soul, but the girlfriend is brain-dead due to the possession by this point--so they just stick the Soul back in the body. The original mind's boyfriend then stays with the Soul-in-the-body, despite said Soul being the reason that his girlfriend died at all.
Live Action TV
- In episode 4 season 3 of Charmed, "All Halliwell's Eve" The sisters meet a nice guy in the past, who helps them out a lot. When they travel back to the present (several hundred years later) Prue meets an exact look alike (also played by the same actor) in P3.
- Subverted in The Outer Limits, Second Soul. One man's wife dies and donates her body to an alien race (they can occupy and revive recently dead bodies, and need to do so to live). He meets the recipient, and finds out that they do sometimes inherit random memories from their hosts, but she does not fall in love with him, becomes bothered by his following her around and eventually gets a restraining order against him. It's even hinted that the process is set up to prevent the aliens from being close to family members of their hosts, presumably to prevent this from becoming a regular occurrence.
"If I look like her, if I sound like her, I might be her? The answer is no."
- Avoided in Chou Ninja Tai Inazuma Spark, the samurai from the Edo period lost his sister in an alien attack, then at the end of the story goes to live in the future, where he finds out that someone who looks just like his sister is an actress. At first he's elated to be "reunited" with his dead sister but goes running off screaming when he finds out that she's The Ditz.
- Happens to Adam in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The Rangers are sent back in time, he meets a girl, then meets a girl who looks exactly like her when the Rangers are returned to the present.
- In The 4400, Richard was in love with and planning to marry a woman named Lilly when he was abducted in 1953. he was later returned in 2003, and his lover had died many years before. However, he met and later married a fellow returnee who had been abducted in the 90's who was identical to his beloved. Her name? Lilly. She was the grandaughter of the woman he had been involved with. As they grow closer he admits that at first he was drawn to her because of the resemblance but later it was all about her.
- In Doctor Who, Jackie Tyler became a widow while her daughter was a baby. In a parallel universe, Pete Tyler lost his wife during the Cybermen incident. When the former ended up in the universe of the latter, the two paired up, meaning that each was the other's Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest.
- As pictured, Rose gets her own Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest in the form of a half human clone of the Doctor who looks exactly like him and has all his memories, but who ages like a human and is willing to stay with her in the parallel world.
- A variation was overused to the point of boredom on the original Fantasy Island, when Rourke reveals that a visitor's fantasy love interest just happens to be another visitor to the island.
- Daytime soaps do this a lot. Most of the time it's not supernatural, just a way to bring back an actor who has been killed off, such as when Angie Hubbard of All My Children and The City met and married a man who looked exactly like her late husband Jesse. An example of the supernatural sort was on General Hospital when Anna's alien friend Casey had to return to his home planet, and then Anna met a lookalike human, Shep Casey.
- Used in Wonder Woman when the series moved from WW 2 to the (then) present day. WW's long-time Love Interest Steve Trevor had been established as an Army officer in the 1940s, so in order to have "him" around in The Seventies, he had to be replaced by his identically-named son -- both played by the same actor, of course.
- Averted in the pilot episode of Time Trax, where Darien's Love Interest in his own time is killed by the Big Bad. He goes back to the 20th century, chasing the escaped criminals only to encounter her Identical Grandmother. Nother happens between them, although she helps him in a later episode.
- In Fringe, "our" Lincoln Lee and "their" Olivia Dunham become this for each other.
- As a method of apologizing to his roommate Rod, Nicky in Avenue Q finds a boyfriend for Rod. Ricky, who other than being muscle-bound, is an exact copy of Nicky.
- Brutally deconstructed in Silent Hill 2, where James can choose to be with Maria, who is an idealized doppelganger of his dead wife Mary. In the ending Maria starts to cough, implying that James is doomed to relive the pain of her dying from a terminal illness just like his wife did. The game implies that this is what James just deserves for clinging to an image of his wife instead of moving on.
- Or, in another interpretation, refusing to accept responsibility for what he did, and failing to understand why what he did was wrong and selfish.
- In the game version of Da Capo this happens in the Miharu route. Girl gets hit by car, girl gets replaced by robotic duplicate. Boy loves robot. Robot malfunctions. Girl comes back. Boy gets together with girl...
- The NES game Astyanax ends with the hero back in his normal highschool world, but the new student is a dead ringer for the fairy companion who pulled a heroic sacrifice.. but the game never says whether perhaps she was just reborn or what.
- Super Paper Mario lets you purchase a robotic doppelganger to replace the Fairy Companion who turns out to be the villain's love interest.
- At the end of Sam and Max Freelance Police: The Devil's Playhouse, Max is Killed Off for Real. The cutscene shows the devastated Sam leaving all his friends and walking aimlessly through the town. Suddenly, he sees the Time Travel elevator from Season Two and finds there Max from an Alternate Timeline, in which Sam is the one who died. After an awkward moment, they decide to resume their mischief and pretend none of this happened.
- In .hack//G.U., after Haseo loses Shino to Triedge, he meets Atoli who happens to have the near exact same avater design, save a color change.
- In Winter Shard, if Frederone's love interest Rosetta dies, Zewoe creates a clone of her to please him. This enrages Federone, either because he promised Rosetta that he wouldn't try to resurrect her or because he did resurrect her only for her to be Driven to Suicide because of her religious beliefs, and he actually orders Marliene to wear a mask at all times when around him because he doesn't want to be reminded of how much she resembles Rosetta. He can either come around to accept Marliene as a legitimate love interest in her own right, or he can reject her.
- In Sluggy Freelance, both Zoe and her Dimension of Lame counterpart are this for Torg. First Torg has a Cannot Spit It Out crush on Zoe, then he gets trapped in the Dimension of Lame and hooks up with that universe's Zoe, then Alt-Zoe is killed by Lord Horribus and Torg returns to his home universe, and starts crushing on Zoe all over again.
- And it turns out Torg is this for Alt-Zoe as well, since her dimension's Torg vanished long ago after the two were romantically involved.
- Danielle in Kevin and Kell.
- Parodied in Johnny Bravo. He wakes up in the hospital to find a nurse that looks identical to the girl in his dream... then he wakes up again.
- Teen Titans may have done a variant/deconstruction of this: Beast Boy's love interest, Terra, is turned to stone. Then, in the series finale (several seasons later), he suddenly sees a girl who looks just like her and is convinced she's the real Terra (whose petrified body has vanished), even though she at least claims to not know him or remember anything about being a superhero. They do not wind up getting together in the end, and whether the girl really was Terra or just a lookalike is left ambiguous.
- Word of God is she is. It's a throwback to the comics, however the second Terra was a clone and the first really was dead.
- Re Boot: After Glitch-Bob's attempt to split apart via portal goes explodey, Dot decides to marry the other Bob. Dot was already leaning towards choosing the other Bob, and Glitch-Bob's accident pushed her the rest of the way.
- On Futurama, Fry (and the Professor and Bender) get hurtled into the future so far, they reach the end of the universe and watch a new, identical one come into existence. Fry gets together with the Leela from that universe. Uncharacteristically for this trope, though, we actually get to see the original Leela spend the rest of her life miserable and alone.
- At the end of The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, Judy Jetson is pining for her stone-age boyfriend Iggy Sandstone (met during a time-travel mishap), and then meets his identical space-age descendant, who's no less cool. Both boys are into rock music, of course.