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By some mechanism, be it Time Travel, Alternate Universe, or Cloning Blues, there are now two or more Alternate Self editions of a character. Each copy seems unable to get over the fact that every other copy is himself and this shows up in pronouns confusion. Instead of using the third or even the second person, each copy refers to the others exclusively with the first person pronouns.
Related to Time Travel Tense Trouble.
Compare My Future Self and Me.
- Yugi, Bakura, and Marik in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Though not Millennium item-related, Kaiba and Set(o) might also count.
- Nearing the end of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, the multiple Syaorans and and Sakuras have conversations with each other. This is extremely hard to discern when reading these pages, since they all look alike. Mind Screw taken Up to Eleven.
- Jamie "Multiple Man" Madrox from the Marvel Universe falls into this on occasion. For instance, when he found out one of his dupes had lived a full life without him (even to the point of having a son), he was stunned that "I named you after my father..."
- In an issue of X Factor, Jamie Madrox split up into opposing groups of Multiple Men. Upon encountering each other, one of the Multiple Men said, "There I am! Get me!"
- During Back to The Future Part II Marty telephones Doc, leading to this exchange:
Marty: Biff's goons chased me into the gym, and they're gonna jump -- me!
Doc: Then get outta there!
Marty: Not me, the other me!
- From The Matrix Reloaded onward, this became a running shtick for the self-duplicating Agent Smith.
- The ending of the movie adaptation of The Prestige.
- Averted in Primer, where characters living in the past refer to their doubles with third person pronouns, and sometimes even their own names.
- A time machine in the second Austin Powers movie gets us two Austins from ten minutes apart - they get on quite well together.
- Alfred Bester's "Fondly Fahrenheit", in which a man and his android duplicate can't tell which of them he is, nor which of them is a murderer.
- In C. J. Cherryh's Alliance Union universe, this is common in Union culture due to Cloning Blues.
- In the case where a clone needs to be distinguished to an earlier version of himself / herself who is no longer alive, the common usage in Cyteen and Regenesis is to refer to the original as "my / your predecessor" if they have the same name. Another usage is to refer to the elder of the pair as "senior", as in "Warrick" versus "Warrick senior".
- Azi - the mass-produced clones who are the most common result of the technology - grow up knowing that there may be many copies of their particular geneset / psychset combination; that is, many clones with an identical environment, leading to very, very similar people. In Regenesis, the current version of Florian has to discuss his predecessor. He reflects inwardly that time before he himself existed was not emotionally attractive to him; he has no trouble with the fact that they're really not the same individual, however similar they are.
- Parental replicates - clones of people who had a "normal" upbringing as opposed to the structured education of an azi - are much harder to replicate psychologically, and do sometimes have trouble coping with who's who. In the case of a parental replicate, where the original and the replicate have the same name, the latter may be referred to with the suffix PR attached to his or her name.
- The Robert A. Heinlein short story All You Zombies features a time-traveling hermaphrodite who not only meets himself (herself?) multiple times but ultimately becomes her (his?) own mother and father.
- This situation occurs in various Science Fiction and Fantasy works by Andre Norton.
- Android at Arms (1971): The protagonists wake on a strange world and learn that they have been kidnapped and stored as Human Popsicles, while being replaced by android duplicates. The question eventually arises, which one is the Robot Me (a Ridiculously Human Robot by necessity) and which is the original, and how to prove it? When the main character, Andas, confronts a much older version of himself on his homeworld, both are deeply shaken - each believes he's real, but how could a Robot Me be such a Ridiculously Human Robot as to do the various things each has done? (The protagonist refers to his older counterpart as "the false Andas"). Another variation happens later, when he and one of his companions wind up in an Alternate Universe, and he confronts a dying version of himself.
- Star Gate (1958): all the human colonists on Gorth evacuate the planet at the beginning of the book because The World Is Not Ready - that is, the native intelligent species of Gorth (who call them the Star Lords) isn't ready for the humans' much more advanced technology. Some opt to search for an Alternate Universe in which Gorth never developed intelligent life. They accidentally wind up in a Mirror Universe in which their counterparts enslaved the natives rather than helping them. The Half-Human Hybrid protagonist refers to the Mirror Universe counterparts of the Star Lords as the Dark Ones, the Dark Lords, or (in the case of individuals, such as Lord Dillan) "the false Lord X" or "the Dark Lord X" to distinguish them from the "true" Lord X. (The Lord of the Rings was less than 5 years old at this point, please note.) The eldest of the Star Lords has the hardest time adjusting to it when he finally sees the Dark Lords, because although he knew intellectually what they were, it hit him very hard to see (apparently) several people among them who in his universe were long dead and had meant a great deal to him. He had to be restrained from going to them until he got himself under control.
- Victory on Janus (1966): Big Bad THAT WHICH ABIDES creates android duplicates of the Iftin and of some human colonists - not as Evil Knockoffs, but to frame the Iftin for apparently attacking the colonists. The Iftin refer to the android duplicates as the "false Iftin", and can tell them apart from the true ones by smell. The worst problem the protagonist has is when duplicates turn up, not of himself, but of an old Love Interest and an old friend, both probably, but not certainly, long dead.
- Averted by the Fel clones in the Hand of Thrawn duology. They have major, major clone angst, but each of them has named himself something different, dresses differently, and has different hair. They keep a common family name, Devist, and let people think of them as just a really close and fairly insular family, because they're desperately afraid of being discovered and killed for being clones. A brief stretch where one, Carib, is the viewpoint character and has a momentary existential meltdown ends as he strengthens his resolve by reminding himself what he's worked for.
- In The Time Travelers Wife, reluctant time-traveler Henry keeps running into versions of himself in the past, present, and future. Can be shocking, funny, sexy, or tragic, depending entirely on the circumstances.
- In Brothers in Arms, Miles Vorkosigan discovers he has a clone, who has been trained to impersonate him and is also (at this time, anyway) known as "Miles". At one point, the two clones are chasing around a large building, leading Miles to ask a bystander "Have you seen me already? Which way did I go?"
- Tyrol in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined having trouble remembering to refer to Cylons in the first person, rather than humans.
- Occurred briefly in the first season of Heroes between Hiro and Future Hiro, as highlighted in the page quote.
- And in the fourth season, Hiro goes back in time to the period of the first, talks to his younger self, then calls him(self) a moron after sending him(self) off on a mission intended to avert paradox.
- In an episode of Quantum Leap, Sam leaps into a young Al, and they have to distinguish between observer Al and young Al. After a short while, Sam just suggests calling the young Al "Bingo", his nick-name at the time.
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Stasis Leak", multiple copies of the crew begin to accumulate in the same time period, leading to general confusion.
Past Rimmer: Three Listers! Splendid! Perhaps Lister here would like to go over to the fridge and open a bottle of wine for Lister and Lister! Rimmer here doesn't drink, because he's dead, but I wouldn't mind a glass!
- Occurs multiple times in Stargate SG-1, at one time with the entire SG-1 team.
- Happens in Doctor Who more often than not, with all the time travel, alternate dimensions and clones the show's got going on. It's also meant that fans have had to come up with ways of keeping things straight. The Doctor's multiple bodies are referred to by numbered regenerations- for example, Tom Baker is 'Four' and Matt Smith is 'Eleven'. When they're the same regeneration, other identifying markers are used- for example, the two versions of the Doctor running around in Season Five are called 'Normal Doctor' and 'Jacket!Doctor'. The Master is recognized by the actor playing him, and Romana is kept straight by numbering her as Romana-1 and Romana-2. River Song's bodies are kept straight as 'Melody Pond', 'Mels' and 'River Song'.
- The two parter 'The Rebel Flesh' and 'The Almost People' brings us identical clones of various characters. These are referred to as Ganger!*insert-character-here*.
- The clone of the Doctor made in 'The Journey's End' is usually called either 10.5 or Handy The Wonder Clone.
- When Willow is accosted by Vampire Willow in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Doppelgangland":
Willow: What do I want with you!
- In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, the eponymous professor and his sidekick Luke Triton travel 10 years into the future after receiving a letter from Luke's future self. They have difficulty knowing which one is being referred to when their name is used at first, but Layton comes up with an easy way to distinguish.
- In both Raidou Kuzunoha games, an alternate version of the titular character appears. It's somewhat mitigated by the fact said alternate does not have the exact same name, but it still causes a great deal of confusion.
- In Schlock Mercenary, the wormgate system creates perfect duplicates of anyone sent through it, which are kept for interrogation and such by the Gatekeepers. The first characters who suffer from this problem are Doythaban and his gateclone Haban II, but this later becomes a galaxy-wide problem when thousands of these clones are released. However, no-one suffers from it more than Gav, who clones himself 950 million times to escape, leading to an truly epic case of this trope.
Gav: "There are still over nine hundred million Gav clones out there. My activities of the last year can only be understood statistically."
- At one point the Terran government tries to charge Kevyn with treason for mass-releasing the teraport designs. He points out that it was his now-deceased clone who released that information, not him, and thus he can't be charged with anything.
- It also leads to some rather bizarre court cases since there are some legal issues where the gate clones are not always considered separate individuals. In one case a person was executed for Manual Operation under the Influence and when his gate clone turns up the judge rules that since he was charged with two counts of MOUI and the clone was created after the commission of the crime it is perfectly legal for them to apply the second death penalty to the gate clone.
- In another situation a gate clone attempts to murder the original version of himself but instead gets killed by the original acting in self defense. The final police verdict ends up being attempted suicide. Since the clone and the original are legally the same person one murdering the other is technically suicide however since the murder attempt failed the final crime is attempted suicide.
- Recently the Gavs found a way to differentiate themselves from one another, to the point where they are barely recognizable as Gav-clones, especially the females.
- Pretty thoroughly averted in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob. Golly and Jolly are both biological clones of Molly with totally different upbringings, and the castmembers are apparently all bright enough to realize that even if the three look alike, they are different people.
- In Bob and George, due to convoluted Time Travel and Alternate Universes, one story arc involves Mega Man and Bass, Past Mega Man, Alternate Mega Man and Bass, Future Alternate Mega Man and Bass, and Far Future Alternate Mega Man and Bass (though the last one was a trick). They end up wearing helpful labels to show who is who, since they all look identical in a Sprite Comic.
- Dave and Davesprite in Homestuck. John has some trouble figuring out how to refer to them.
(Dave): and hey you might even be able to help your past dream self wake up sooner without all that fuss you went through
(Rose): I think the true purpose of this game is to see how many qualifiers we can get to precede the word "self" and still understand what we're talking about.
- Karkat uses "past me" and "future me" when talking to himself.
- Cerene runs into this problem constantly, because there are three of her. And yes, it confuses all three of them. (Or at least the two we've seen so far)
- Happens in General Protection Fault with alter egos from the main and "nega-verse"
Trudy: (after her counterpart gets knocked out) I'VE BEEN HIT! Well, sort of.
- The Doctor Who fan-comic The 10 Doctors as a comic that include 10 versions of the same man , have it
Fifth Doctor: That's the nicest thing I've ever said to myself
- In this Chasing the Sunset strip, when Feiht is fighting "Evil Feiht" she becomes confused as to which one she is. In the next strip Ayne helps her to pull herself together.
- Happens a few times to Juni/Zero and its various neural clones in Unity, with a key example being this strip; a few hundred rounds later, Zero is still figuring it out.
- Los Hermanos of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe has this happen all the time. Since all his duplicates are him (they are all part of a mass-mind effect, and what one duplicate knows, they all know) he has no trouble keeping track, but his companions sometimes fall directly into this trope.
Bungie: "Bad news... um... you've been captured. I saw a couple of Tarot goons dragging... um... you... away toward their APC."
Los Hermanos: "Yes, I know... they've got a bag over my head, so I can't see where they are taking me. I'm a little roughed up, so not seriously hurt. They're probably taking me somewhere to torture me."
Bungie: (beat) "Right... sorry..."
- Happens in Ben 10 episode "Ben 10,000" when Ben meets his older self.
- Happens at the end of the Time Travel episode of Cow and Chicken, with Chicken complaining of his time-travel duplicate "I ate all the cereal, now there's none left for me!"
- In Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit, Wallace starts referring to Hutch in the first person after he takes on his personality. For instance, when Lady Tottington rings the doorbell, Hutch goes to answer it and Wallace says, "I'm already answering the door!"
- The Firesign Theater radio play "Nick Danger" features a flashback told by Catherwood the butler - twenty years earlier he surprises his bride Nancy with a time machine, intending to honeymoon in ancient Greece. He tries it on himself first and when he returns minutes later he's a shaky-voiced 1,000 year old codger, to her horror. Present-day Nick bursts in unexpectedly and uses the time machine to travel forward 20 years back to the present, taking the couple and shady character Rocky Rococo with him. Back in the present they're shocked at finding there's two of all of them - they fight with their other selves, except the two Catherwoods who enjoy having someone their own age to talk with.