- Warp drive: already occurs in Fredric Brown's stories from the 1940s (the warp/fabric image of space-time probably dates back even earlier, from the first efforts to explain relativity to people who don't know about tensors).
- Dr. McCoy's famous line "I'm a doctor, not a _____!" from Star Trek actually originates in the 1933 film The Kennel Murder Case, where a coroner insists repeatedly "I'm a doctor, not a ____!" (reporter, detective, etc.).
- One episode of The 4400 had as its plot the possibility of the entire premise of the show being an illusion, causing complaints from Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans that it was stealing from the latter's episode "Normal Again". Or from Red Dwarfs "Back To Reality", or from Star Trek: The Next Generations "Frame of Mind". Or Neverwhere. As it happens, the plot (Cuckoo Nest) is actually among The Oldest Ones in the Book, with classic examples such as Ambrose Bierce's 1886 story "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge," or Chuang Tzu's tale of the man who dreamt he was a butterfly.
- On the subject of Chuang Tzu, there is a scene in the 1986 version of The Fly where Jeff Goldblum describes himself as an insect who dreamed he was a man. This was intended as a Chuang Tzu reference, but many people just thought he was referring to the "unsettling dreams" in Kafka's "Metamorphosis."
- The reintroduction of the Cybermen in the new Doctor Who story "Rise of the Cybermen" prompted some claims that the monsters were a rip-off of Star Trek's Borg -- in fact, Doctor Who fans had been making exactly the opposite claim ever since the Borg were first introduced, almost a quarter century after the Cybermen first appeared.
Doctor Who: "You belong to us. You will be like us."
Star Trek: "You will become like us. You will service us."
Doctor Who: "Resistance is Useless" (September 1967)
- In the Star Trek franchise, the Vulcan salute, and its accompanying farewells, "Peace and long life" and "Live long and prosper", are both derived from Jewish benediction services.
- The concept of a virtual reality called "The Matrix" was first used in Doctor Who in the 1976 serial "The Deadly Assassin", twenty three years before its better-known movie namesake.
- But the concept was first used in Simulacron 3, a novel by Daniel F. Galouye, written in 1964.
- Doctor Who gets this a lot, in-fandom, when new series fans gush over the genius of some ideas and concepts without realising many of then existed in the old series. So horror elements written by Robert Holmes (half of which he stole from old horror movies anyway) and later reused by Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat are seen as their "genius". Even if the writers have themselves fequently mentioned that some of these elements are tributes to the writers whose stories they grew up with. Of course, the most extreme example of this is when new series fans preface their fanfics with "Doctor Who belongs to Russell T Davies and/or Steven Moffat"...
- The inverse is also true; if you want to base your criticism of some plot point on the claim that nothing like it would ever have happened in the original series, you'd better make damn sure it didn't.
- You still see people claiming that WKRP in Cincinnati was inspired by the 1978 film FM. In fact, the WKRP pilot was filmed months before FM was released.
- A beautiful, intellectually unremarkable young woman befriends and comes to rely on a group of brilliant-but-awkward geniuses who work at a university, one of which develops a crush on her. The Big Bang Theory, right? Wrong -- it's a movie called Ball of Fire, released in 1941 and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.
- Much has been made of how innovative the format of Law and Order was when it first debuted, but there were two obscure earlier shows that had essentially the same structure: Arrest and Trial (1963-64) and The D.A. (1970-71).
- The middle section of Babylon 5 -- the part with Nightwatch and the Ministry of Truth -- has been accused of being an Author Tract against the War on Terror and the Bush Administration in general. The last episode aired in fall 1998, almost three years before 9/11.
- One forum poster on Television Without Pity compared the Dollhouse episode "Echoes" to the Star Trek the Next Generation episode "The Naked Now". That show was itself a Whole-Plot Reference to the Star Trek the Original Series episode "The Naked Time".
- Oh my God, they killed Kenny! Of course, it could just be a coincidence...
- From Dexter, when the Bay Harbor Butcher sent a manifesto to a newspaper, Batista noticed a literary reference:
Batista: "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
Masuka: He's a Trekker! That shit's straight from Deep Space 9.
Batista: What? Mark Twain said that. It's one of his most famous quotes.
Other officer: Twain was never on Deep Space 9. He was on Next Generation.
Batista: He didn't say it on Star Trek.
Other officer: Okay, so what's it from?
Lundy: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
- In 1969, a new comedy sketch show debuted that completely tore apart the format of traditional sketch comedy, replacing conventional sketches with sketches that simply stopped mid flow, sketches that ran into each other and a whole lot of silliness. It is, of course, Spike Milligan's Q series which preceeded Monty Python's Flying Circus by a few months. (To be fair, the Monty Python team were working on their show at roughly the same time).
- IIRC Monty Python acknowledged the Goon Show as a major influence, so it's unsurprising that Flying Circus would bear similarities to another work of Milligan's.
- Q5 started just as Python had been given their show but didn't really have a concrete idea of how they were going to accomplish what they wanted with it. It's mentioned in interviews and in Michael Palin's diary that there was at least one conversation between them about how they'd seen Q5 and thought, "That's what we were going to do, isn't it?"
- Also, "Four Yorkshiremen" did not originate with Monty Python. It was from At Last the 1948 Show, and the original performers were John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Marty Feldman.
- Tim Brooke-Taylor has said that people refuse to believe he co-wrote the sketch.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was often called a "ripoff" by uninformed Voltron fans due to the similar design of the Dino Megazord, unaware that both series were Americanized adaptations of Japanese shows and that the Super Sentai franchise that Power Rangers is based on is a year older than the franchise to which GoLion, the Japanese version of Voltron, belongs. Also, both shows were made by Toei.
- Although, Toei does acknowledge that the Dino Megazord's design (technically the Daizyujin from Zyuranger) was made as a homage to Voltron (GoLion). Source in Japanese.
- It's also common for fans of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to later discover Voltron and mistake it for an animated ripoff of the former.
- Similarly, some Power Rangers fans who later discover Super Sentai accuse the latter of being ripoffs of the former.
- Similarly, if you saw Masked Rider and thought it was a Power Rangers ripoff, you should know that Kamen Rider is about two or three years older than Super Sentai. Undoubtedly its debut was met with the usual cynicism: "Oh, so they took Kamen Rider, made some stupid ripoff where there's five of them in silly rainbow colors so they can sell more toys, then made it Lighter and Softer so kids will watch? Toku is Ruined FOREVER! It Will Never Catch On!"
- Similarly, calling any Henshin Hero related property a ripoff of PR, as if the Toku genre wasn't, well, a genre (and as if we haven't been hearing the word "Shazam!" since The Forties.)
- With the Vampire Diaries TV adaptation airing in the midst of the Twilight-craze, many twitards believed Vampire Diaries stole most of its elements from Twilight. The Vampire Diaries books were made in the nineties.
- It is not an unreasonable suspicion, however, that the popularity of Twilight had something to do with the Vampire Diaries being adapted now.
- A similar phenomenon occurred with True Blood. The Sookie Stackhouse books were written a couple years before the Twilight novels, and True Blood premiered about two months before the first Twilight movie.
- Although it is likely that the popularity of Twilight did have something to do with the timing of the adaptation.
- Alan Alda's depiction of Hawkeye Pierce in the TV version of MASH borrows heavily from Groucho Marx.
- ...to which a nod was made in the first-season episode "Yankee Doodle Doctor". By way of sabotaging an attempt by Army brass to propagandize the 4077th's "heroic doctors", Pierce plays Groucho in the Movie Within The Show, and Trapper John plays Harpo.
- When the Canadian show Ed's Late Night Party aired for a short time in the US on G4, many viewers criticized Ed the Sock for ripping off Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Ed the Sock had actually been around on various Canadian programs since the early-90's and was possibly an inspiration for Triumph. This led to Ed resenting Triumph, and NBC insisting that the character shouldn't be anywhere near Conan's show when it taped a few episode in Toronto.
- Ed the Sock was scheduled to appear on Conan O'Brien but cancelled at the last minute. Three months later Triumph appeared on the show.
- In-universe example in Wizards of Waverly Place. Max has claimed his name is Tom Sawyer so his girlfriend doesn't know he's related to Alex.
Alex: That is such an obvious lie. It's the name from the Rush song.
Harper: And the classic book.
Alex: Wow. That song was good, I didn't know they made a book out of it.
- Rod Serling wrote the Twilight Zone episode "The Silence" without knowing that it was virtually the same story as Chekov's "The Bet". (I know that Wikipedia says otherwise, but we all know how reliable they can be. There is an interview with Serling in the DVD materials for the series DVD set in which he explicitly explains all about it.)
- For those who may not be aware, The Ghost Busters came almost a full decade before Ghostbusters. Similarly, the cartoon version of the 1975 live action show debuted before The Real Ghostbusters (if only by a few days).
- And let's not forget the classic Disney cartoon "Lonesome Ghosts," in which Mickey, Donald, and Goofy portray ghost-hunters decades before either the TV show or the movie. The little known Disney Channel original series DTV even lampshaded this fact by running a video in which scenes from that cartoon are shown with the Ray Parker, Jr., theme song from the movie playing in the background.
- When the series premiere of The Walking Dead first aired, some viewers immediately accused the show of ripping off the "protagonist wakes up in a hospital after a post-apocalyptic event" scene from 28 Days Later. In fact, not only did the comic book series show this scene a full seven months before 28 Days premiered in theatres, but both of those films copied it from The Day of the Triffids, which was written in 1951 (more than 50 years before either of the two works in questions).
- On Whose Line Is It Anyway?, one episode had the "unlikely location for a Film Noir" be a gas station. It's been done with two gas stations.
- The practice of following an episode with a preview that shows clips from the next episode didn't start in the '80s or '90s. Some film serials did the same thing at least as far back as the '40s.
- Here's a good one: Jon Stewart occasionally does a nasally, weasely voice on The Daily Show that many young viewers associate with his show (for an in-television example, Britta Perry does so on an episode of Community). However, older viewers will recognize it as a reference to a Johnny Carson voice / character, one that Johnny often went to when a joke fell flat ("Whoa, bomb-o!"). But here's the kicker, even older viewers will know that Johnny's voice was originally a reference to Jackie Gleason's Reginald Van Gleason III character ("Mmmboy are you fat!", as mentioned in an episode of the Sopranos).
- Everybody knows about the "Dick in a Box" sketch on Saturday Night Live, right? Well, The Drew Carey Show episode "The Dog and Pony Show" did the same thing almost a decade prior.
- The motive and method of the Big Bad in the Hawaii Five-0/NCIS: Los Angeles Crossover was to save the planet by killing off much of humanity with an engineered plague. Tom Clancy came up with the same idea in the book and video game Rainbow Six.