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Spiritual Successor's Evil Twin, Spiritual Antithesis is referencing an earlier work by using similar characters and themes but going in a completely different direction. Often set at the opposite end of Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. May serve as a Deconstruction (or Reconstruction if the original work was a deconstruction itself) or Stealth Parody of the original work.

Usually seen as a Take That against the original work (but not always- it can simply be meant commentary on the original story or as a What If? scenario, or just an attempt to create a distinct work-in fact, it's not uncommon for these kind of works to be done by the same people), and closely related to Satire. May involve Whole-Plot Reference. Sometimes, this is a sequel to the original work. See also The Moral Substitute, a related trope, where a work is intended to work as antithesis to a more popular work, with more religious, political or moral themes.

Of course, nothing prevents a work from being the Spiritual Antithesis of one work and the Spiritual Successor of another at the same time, which may often result in said work being X Meets Y or This Is Your Premise on Drugs.

Genres that play this role to each other:


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Switchblade Honey is this to Star Trek - it shows a future where the exploration of space is handled by a bunch of insane egomaniacs, which leads to a war with a much more powerful enemy, which humanity is losing. Heroic idealists, who would become great heroes of Starfleet in Star Trek, here end up in prison for opposing the corrupted system.
  • Warren Ellis in the afterword of Black Summer contrasted it with Civil War, saying that Mark Millar's event shows watered down version of superheroes coming in conflict with the goverment, while he wanted to show in Black Summer what he thinks would really happen.
  • Warren Ellis must love this trope - when Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross created Marvels, deconstructing but still idealistic potrayal of Marvel Universe, Ellis wrote Ruins - depressing Alternate Universe where everything that could go wrong,worse that you can imagine - that is generally seen as Marvels' Evil Twin. When Busiek made sequel to Marvels, Ellis respond with Ghost Boxes - compilation of alternate Universes where X-Men failed to stop the threat from his Astonishing X-Men series, each more depressing that previous one.

Fan Fiction



  • His Dark Materials is this to Narnia. Pullman isn't trying to hide his hate for Lewis' series, so it was probably intentional.
  • Alex Rider is this to Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks. Whereas those films embrace the fantasy of being Spy, Alex tries to show more of the reality. To a lesser extent, the books are this to the James Bond series (although not out of spite for Fleming- Horowitz is big Bond fan, but he didn't want to be accused of plagiarism, so he consciously tried to make his series as different as possible).
  • Lord of the Flies is this towards the children's book Coral Island. Coral Island has young boys living on an island after their ship's catastrophe and working together to fight "the savages". Godling, having an issue with racist undertones and savagery being presented as an outside threat and not something that lies in human nature, wrote a book in which young boys end up abandoning their civilized ways and trying to kill each other. Ironically, another writer, Robert A. Heinlein, took issue with that portrayal and wrote Tunnel In The Sky, which served as an opposite to Lord of the Flies - boys end up on an alien world and work together for their survival. Some try to go the same way as characters from Golding's book, but end up quickly killed. Insu-Pu is another spiritual opposite to Lord of the Flies.
  • Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart in response to the old classic, Heart of Darkness. He found the latter to be one of the most racist things he'd ever read and wanted to show that native Africans were not, as previously believed, total savages.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None as an opposite philosophical story to the New Testament.
  • The Black Company is this for High Fantasy genre - if one assumes that typical works of High Fantasy are propaganda of the winners, then this is closer to how those events really looked like.
  • Starship Troopers (the novel) gets this treatment a lot, especially in the 1970s and 80s, with works like Haldemann's Forever War and Steakley's Armor being the two most blatant. Even Drake's Hammer's Slammers could probably be listed.
  • John Sladek's satirical Roderick series features a robot who views a corrupt world through innocent eyes. Sladek then turned the idea on its head in the novel Tik-Tok: the world is just as corrupt, so its robot Anti-Hero decides to exploit it by being even more corrupt.
  • Richard K Morgan intends A Land Fit for Heroes to be this to The Lord of the Rings.

Live Action TV

  • Blakes Seven was meant to be Star Trek turned on its head: the symbol of the fascist Terran Federation was even the symbol of the Federation Starfleet turned 90 degrees to the right.
    • Farscape is another anti-Star Trek space opera - like Blakes Seven, it featured a group of scruffy fugitives as the main characters, alternately fighting or fleeing the clean, well-dressed military.
    • Also, with the 2000's Battlestar Galactica, Ronald D. Moore was pretty much able to do everything he had ever wanted to do on Star Trek but wasn't allowed.
  • The Quantum Leap episode "Lee Harvey Oswald" (demonstrating that Oswald could have and most likely did act alone) was made in response to the Oliver Stone film JFK.
  • Firefly's setting is deliberately a change of pace from the standard Space Western or Wagon Train to the Stars where the main characters are backed by The Federation or some major organization.
  • Prehistoric Park, despite also being a spiritual licensee to Jurassic Park, is also this. Both are about wildlife parks filled with prehistoric animals, but Prehistoric Park is consistently depicted as a (mostly) working zoo, whereas in Jurassic Park things often go wrong and all hell breaks loose. In Jurassic Park, most of the animals brought back are dinosaurs, whereas Prehistoric Park has a more varied amount of animals from various prehistoric eras (Cretaceous, ice age, Carboniferous etc.). In Jurassic Park, the animals are genetically engineered, whereas Prehistoric Park's are captured via time travel. Prehistoric Park is an Animal Sanctuary/Wildlife Park that is not open to the public (although the unmade movie would have it open to the public) whereas Jurassic Park is a zoological theme park that is intended for Public Display (although it is only seen open to the Public in the 4th film, Jurassic World).

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • The Iranian students who made Rescue Nuke Scientist (in which the player controls Iranian soldiers rescuing captured nuclear engineers from Israel) said it was meant as a response to Assault On Iran (in which the player controls American soldiers attacking an Iranian nuclear weapons facility). The makers of Assault On Iran responded to that with Payback In Iraq, which even includes characters and events from Rescue. And said they hoped the makers of Rescue Nuke Scientist would respond again.
  • Gears of War and Call of Duty are different ways of taking the shooter genre (Gears being about taking cover and COD making both sides weak to bullets), seemingly as a counterpart to the radical influence of Halo.
    • These games are even more of an antithesis to Doom. While Doom has a mighty player smashing hordes of distinct and clearly evil monsters into a fine goo with fantastic weaponry, Call of Duty is a very realistic war story with a weak protagonist fighting similar foes. Gears of War centers on a seemingly hopeless war, while Doom is full of hope.
  • Freedom Planet to Sonic the Hedgehog, especially the contemporary games. Sonic is a Japanese production based on American and Mayan culture, while FP is made in America and is based on Chinese culture. The main characters are designed to be adorable as opposed to edgy, and the vile, bloodthirsty Brevon as the main enemy contrasts how Sonic's more evil enemies are either only in one game or (as of now) don't exist, in contrast to the comical Eggman. The combat is also heavily emphasized and well-constructed as opposed to Sonic's quick button-mashing.
    • The earlier Sparkster series is also a contrast. While similar enough, its platforming to speed ratio is the opposite of Sonic's, and Sparkster's design is more medieval and timeless than the "hip" Sonic, with a humble personality to boot.
    • Crash Bandicoot is the biggest anti-Sonic of them all. The big difference is that while Sonic usually tries to be serious, Crash doesn't bother, and is much more cartoonish and silly (even moreso as it went on!). Cortex's big head contrasts Eggman's wide body, and instead of fighting him repeatedly, a variety of cheesy characters confront Crash.
  • Mortal Kombat to Street Fighter . Mortal Kombat is made in USA and features fantasy world and realistic graphics, while Street Fighter is made in Japan and features real world fighters with anime graphics. Mortal Kombat has amounts of blood, gore and secrets and primitive battle system (for early 2D games), while Street Fighter has complex battle system which is easy to understand and difficult to master and little blood and secret fighters were introduced in 1994. The first Mortal Kombat game was the bestseller for Sega Genesis in 16-bit wars, while Street Fighter II was the bestseller for SNES.

Western Animation

  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and Ruby Gloom are both children's cartoons with macabre and dark themes, a female protagonist and a skeleton as a main character, but that's about where the similarities end. Billy and Mandy is a very cynical, traditionally animated show, with a Karma Houdini Cynical villainess protagonist, and a relatively bright colour palette (the (villainous) female protagonist wears bright clothes) set in a Modern-Day Everytown, America that is Like Reality Unless Noted (although they often journey into other dimensions that are much stranger). Ruby Gloom is an idealistic and optimistic show, animated in flash with a happy-go-lucky female protagonist who is always optimistic, and has a darker colour palette (the female protagonist wears dark clothes, reinforcing this) set in a Victorian-Gothic Aesthetic Schizo-Tech/Decade Dissonance Halloweentown. Also, Billy and Mandy was a cartoon first, whereas Ruby Gloom is a Merchandise-Driven show based on a toyline (although the show is more famous, and the merchandise suffers from Adaptation Displacement)
    • Ironically, both Ruby and Mandy serve as this to the earlier counterparts before their shows were made. Ruby in the original stationary and other lines usually had a sad and gloomy expression on her face and the line had a melancholy feel. The Prototype version of Mandy that appeared in Maxwell Atoms College Short was much more cheerful and less cynical than her TV series counterpart.
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