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"I don't have anything against Drew Carey, but I have a hard time watching his show because they reused most of the set. So I'm all like, 'That's my lamp!'"
Margaret Cho, on her sitcom's replacement with The Drew Carey Show

Since all of television and film works around a budget, there often isn't enough money to pay for all those expensive sets to be designed, constructed, and decorated and then be used for only one scene. When this is the case, the producers and/or director may opt for a Recycled Set.

A Recycled Set is pretty much what you would expect: a set that is either entirely or in large part composed of the main sets of the project. Since walls, windows, and door tend to be fairly simple and unremarkable, it's typically easy for set designers to rearrange specific pieces of furniture our strategically cover wall segments to create an entirely unique look.

Except in very rare circumstances, i.e. unless Played for Laughs, this set similarity is never noticed or remarked upon by any of the show's characters on-camera. They simply go on their merry way, unconcerned that Bob's front door looks strikingly similar to Officer John's office door.

Compare Three-Wall Set. For the videogame equivalent, see Copy and Paste Environments.

Examples of Recycled Set include:


Anime

  • Yes, there are animated examples of this too. GaoGaiGar does this when the heroes reach the site of their ultimate battle, only to find an exact replica of their command satellite.


Live Action TV

  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Out of Mind/Into the Fire", the Recycled Set was a replica of the SGC, complete with a fake Stargate, built by Hathor in a Faked Rip Van Winkle ploy.
    • Stargate Atlantis also used a Recycled Set in the episode "The Tower", where it was an Ancient city-ship identical to Atlantis.
  • The same diner set was used in Stargate SG-1 (the Ascension Diner), Dead Like Me (Der Wafflehaus), and Warehouse 13 (the diner where Artie meets the Regents)
  • The different floors of House's hospital is the same set with a different colour palette.
  • The Star Trek the Original Series episode "The Mark of Gideon". Apparently a world that is overpopulated with wall-to-wall people has the space and resources to build an entire fake Enterprise just to teach Kirk a lesson.
    • To reduce overpopulation by introducing disease into their society again, actually, so there was a logical reason for getting Kirk down there, though there was a simpler way to do it.
    • Starting in the second season, the Enterprise sets doubled as various other ships: the Constellation ("The Doomsday Machine"); the mirror-Enterprise ("Mirror, Mirror"); the Lexington ("The Ultimate Computer"); the Exeter ("The Omega Glory"); and the Defiant ("The Tholian Web").
    • Star Trek as a franchise has had a long tradition of redressing pre-existing sets. Many of the sets built for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" went through various until the end of Star Trek: Enterprise. It was also good for reusing various sets of buildings on one planet for buildings on another from episode to episode.
    • In the Star Trek the Next Generation episode "Where Silence Has Lease", an Away Team beams to a replica of the Yamato, the Enterprise's sister ship, allowing the show to reuse the Enterprise bridge set.
    • And used yet again in Star Trek Deep Space Nine, with Empok Nor, which is exactly like the titular space station, except abandoned and therefore sideways (even though it's in space...).
    • A few Voyager sets found their way onto Deep Space Nine. In an episode where Bashir was subjected to experiments by Section 31 Voyager's holodeck set was reused. In another episode, Bashir traveled to Romulus aboard an Intrepid class ship (same as Voyager) called the Bellerophon. Voyager's bridge, mess hall, and Janeway's ready room underwent some cosmetic changes to differentiate the two ships.
    • The original series used the same hallways to represent interiors on industrialized planets.
    • Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show appears in two seperate episodes of the original series. In "The City On the Edge of Forever", Mayberry portrays an amazingly skyscraper-less version of 1930s New York. Also, Floyd's Barber Shop appears unaltered.
  • The original Doctor Who reused the set of the Doctor's TARDIS for the Master's and the Meddling Monk's TARDISes.
    • In "The Invasion," the villain, a fascistic industrialist, has a factory/headquarters in London, and a factory in the countryside which looks identical on the inside. The Doctor's companion Jamie points this out, and the villain says something like that efficiency and uniformity are important.
    • In the new series, a series of Hexagonal corridors have been used both as the hallways in the TARDIS and in Demon's Run.
  • In an episode of Married... with Children, Kelly gives to some producers an idea for a Show Within a Show based on Married With Children itself.
  • Done for a laugh in the Angel episode "The Girl in Question": Angel and Spike visit the Rome branch of Wolfram and Hart, and it's entirely identical to the Los Angeles branch.
  • Done for major creepiness in an episode of Farscape set on a relative of the Living Ship that's been infested by all manner of nastiness.
  • In Boston Legal, when Denny and Alan go to the LA Branch of Crane, Poole and Schmidt, the offices look exactly the same as the Boston offices. This is lampshaded as Alan and Denny do discuss it (Denny wanted the offices to all look the same so no matter where someone was in trouble they could walk into the offices and feel at home).
  • On NCIS: Several bedrooms of witnesses/family members/otherwise involved characters--when shown--are repeated several times.
  • In Seinfeld, bizarro Jerry's apartment was similar to Jerry's, but with some opposites (eg, the little statue of Superman is now a statue of bizarro Superman).
    • And the layout was, unsettlingly, a mirror image.
  • Frasier Crane lives at 1901 Elliot Bay Towers. We have seen 2001 (Cam Winston's apartment, directly above Frasier's) and 1801 (directly below Frasier's). Naturally all 3 have the same layout due to the way the building is built, but whereas 2001 has different furniture, 1801 is a direct copy. The only difference is the lack of Martin's ugly chair.
  • ICarly/Victorious: As both shows are exclusively filmed on the same set (as opposed to Zoey 101 which was filmed on location), they have reused locations, many of which first appeared in Drake and Josh.
    • The sidewalk where Josh ran around in Dinner With Bobo is the same sidewalk Carly rode her electric-powered scooter in iGo Nuclear. It also showed up on an episode of Victorious where Jade and Tori sing in Spanish.
    • The dirt roadway in The Wedding where Drake and Josh got stranded in their car is also the spot "Somewhere Outside Tokyo" where Carly, Sam, and Freddie were ditched by Kyoko and Yuki in iGo To Japan.
    • Pretty much any big room ends up a redress of the main iCarly studio set. Examples include Freddie's room from iSaved Your Life.
  • The school hallway set from Saved by the Bell was never broken up/destroyed, and has since been redressed and reused on multiple school based shows, two of the most notable are That's So Raven, and ICarly. The only functional difference between That's So Raven and ICarly is that iCarly doesn't use an entire extra hallway off to the right of where the new double door entrance is on ICarly.
  • In Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, every single time the Monster of the Week had a Womb Level, it used the exact same set.
  • When Batman moved to "Londinium" for a three-part episode, Superintendent Watson's office at "Ireland Yard" is an obvious redress of Commissioner Gordon's office set. So obvious that Gordon lampshades the similarity, noting that due to the similar demands of police work worldwide, all police commissioners' offices are essentially the same!
  • This is kind of a tv/movie crossover - but the BBC appears to have recycled the set of an earlier adaptation of Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes for the show As Time Goes By. If you've watched ATGB before you watch Ballet Shoes, you can't help but say, "Hey, they live in Jean and Lionel's house!". Or vice versa, I suppose.
  • In the more recent Battlestar Galactica, the Pegasus interior sets were originally made for the abandoned "Lost In Space" reboot, and were later recycled within the Galactica series for the interiors of the basestars. This is what ultimately led to the decision to have the Pegasus destroyed.
  • Boy Meets World had several instances. For example, the senior hallway from season 5 is almost exactly the same as the school hallway from seasons 2-4 but shot from a different angle. Also, for a little while Mr. Turner and Mr. Feeny had the same classroom, just flipped around with a few different props.
  • Lampshade Hanging on Thirty Rock here.
  • Parodied in the famous Parrot Sketch, in which the customer walks into the second pet shop and finds it identical to the first pet shop... right down to the bird cage he left on the floor earlier in the sketch.


Film

  • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, the bridge of the Reliant was in fact the bridge set for the Enterprise with a few tweaks. Justified, as keeping bridge layouts standardised would simplify the orientation process for transferees from other Starfleet ships.
    • The Torpedo Bay is an important set piece but has unusual architecture for Starfleet. The set originated as the Klingon Bridge from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • Star Trek V the Final Frontier and Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country were shot while Star Trek the Next Generation was still in production. As a result the movies share sets with the TV show. Some of them, such as Enterprise corridor, engineering, transporter room, and sickbay were originally designed for the movies, re-purposed for TNG, then re-purposed again for the movies, and back to television. Some sets were built specifically for TNG and found their way into the movies. For example, the Federation President's office is Ten-Forward from Star Trek the Next Generation, with some curtains. The Enterprise-D's observation lounge became the Enterprise-A's officer's mess. Later the Enterprise-D's observation lounge became the Enterprise-E's starting with Star Trek First Contact.
  • Weird example in the Harry Potter series. In the first film, the hospital wing was represented by the interior of Oxford Divinity School. In the fourth film, by which time the hospital wing had been redesigned and built as a permanent set in Leavesden Studios, the interior of Oxford Divinity School was used again, but as a different room in Hogwarts.
    • A straight example occurs in the third film. The room in which Lupin teaches Harry to defend against dementors is a rather obvious redress of Dumbledore's office. Some fans were even confused as to whether it was meant to be Dumbledore's office.
    • Ollivander's in the first film, Flourish and Blotts in the second film, and Honeydukes in the third film are all the same set. Note the same bay windows out front and the same staircase leading up to the same balcony. (Honeydukes hides the balcony by lowering the ceiling.) They just kept repainting the set and changing the set dressing.
    • Moaning Myrtle's bathroom from the second film, the prefects' bath from the fourth film, and the "Sectumsempra" bathroom from the sixth film are all obviously the same set. Apparently, the girls' bathroom from the first film has different architecture than every other bathroom in Hogwarts.
    • The spiral staircase at St. Paul's Cathedral has been used as a location more than once. Since the room it leads to is always different (the Divination classroom in the third film, the Defense classroom in the fourth film, and the Ravenclaw common room in the eighth film), they're presumably three separate, similar-looking staircases in-universe.
      • Or just the staircases moving, as they tend to do at Hogwarts.
  • Silent film serial Les Vampires constantly reuses the same sets for every single room in Paris, with absolutely no attempts to hide it.
  • One of the sets used in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie The Flying Ghost Ship is obviously the same one seen at the beginning of Engine Sentai Go-onger vs. Juken Sentai Gekiranger. Since in both movies, the heroes are trapped in an Alternate Dimension, this is probably not a coincidence.
  • To create expansive ruins in The Lord of the Rings, especially the city of Osgiliath, the set team would often reuse pieces left over from previously filmed scenes.
  • The alien nest and colony from Aliens was reused as the set for the Axis Chemicals facility in Tim Burton's Batman


Theatre

  • In On the Town, Diamond Eddie's Nightclub, the Congacabana and the Slam-Bang Club are obviously the same set with minimal changes to the scenery. All three are playing some variation on "I Wish I Was Dead."
  • In Holiday Inn, the Recycled Set was an actual set for a movie within a movie based on Bing's hotel.


Video Games

  • The barbershops in Leisure Suit Larry 2 look the same everywhere that Larry goes.
  • The original Mass Effect is quite notorious for having all your fights on planets take place on the same 3 or so pre-fab building floorplans.
  • World of Warcraft reuses the same layout for most of their caves.
  • One of the biggest criticisms against Dragon Age II was the massive reuse of floorplans for caves and dungeons.


Western Animation

  • A take on this trope appears in an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa is mistakenly dropped at West Springfield Elementary, which looks exactly identical to Springfield Elementary. One of the students notes that all schools in the area were drawn from the same floorplan. This is Truth in Television in some areas, especially areas with a lot of schools built at the same time.
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