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A counterpart of Better by a Different Name in a way, and also a sort of subtrope of Spiritual Successor and Follow the Leader (but not always), in effect a Captain Ersatz of a story rather than a character. It's particularly evident with video games; most people have certain movie characters with tons of potential they dream of playing as in an amazing game, yet as most movie licensed games are terrible, there's almost no chance of that happening...

Technically no chance, anyway. This is when something has nothing to do with a certain series, but evokes almost the same feeling you'd imagine a decent license invoking with a certain franchise, making it (intentionally or not) a Spiritual Licensee.

This can also occur after a developer decides to create a Spiritual Successor to a game from a previously established franchise, but put an original spin on the game to differentiate it from its predecessor(s).

Please do not add personal examples; the main page should be for comparisons that you have seen numerous times (or ones that are really, really obvious).

Contrast Dolled-Up Installment. Compare and Contrast Spiritual Antithesis

Examples of Spiritual Licensee include:

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

  • Meebo and Zuky, the winners of the Beano's 2010 Comic Idol competition, are this to The Itchy and Scratchy Show and Spy vs Spy. An ultraviolent anthropomorphic animal duo who have an intense rivalry, and the winner alternates in every strip. The main differences are that they talk more than Itchy and Scratchy (who only talk occasionally) and the Spies (who only make various grunts and noises in the animations) do, and Meebo and Zuky are a cat and a dog, rather than a cat and a mouse.



Live Action TV

Stand-Up Comedy

Tabletop Games

Video Games

Western Animation


  • The MagiQuest simulated-adventure franchise, although much lower-tech and modest in scale, is currently the closest that fans of Niven & Barnes Dream Park can come to savoring the fictional mega-theme park's attractions.


  1. Debatably. Basically, they both have Space Marines, a Horde of Alien Locusts and Scary Dogmatic Aliens, but that's also true of several other science fiction franchises.
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